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[l] at 7/13/24 6:45am
More Soul-Crushing News For Dems: Musk Enters 2024 Fight With 'Sizable' Gift To Trump Super PAC There's been another major plot twist in the 2024 election saga, as Elon Musk has made a "sizable donation" to a super PAC working to return Donald Trump to the White House. Completing something of a Black Friday for Democrats, the story broke just hours after the New York Times reported that major donors had frozen $90 million pledged donations commitments to Biden's top super PAC, having concluded that Biden is a dead man walking -- politically if not otherwise. The news comes four months after Musk said he was staying on the sidelines:  Just to be super clear, I am not donating money to either candidate for US President — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2024 The world's richest man clearly had a change of heart: Citing anonymous sources "close to the matter," Bloomberg on Friday evening broke the potentially game-changing news that Musk had given money to America PAC, which is largely focused on "ground-game" initiatives, such as voter-canvassing and get-out-the-vote efforts. Among the constellation of Trump-backing groups, America PAC is spending the most money of any of them on direct voter outreach.   The amount of Musk's donation wasn't disclosed, but Bloomberg said sources "characterized the figure as a sizable amount." Per Federal Election Commission rules, the PAC will provide its updated list of donors on Monday. While super PACs aren't allowed to contribute directly to candidates or parties, or "coordinate" their efforts, they can collect unlimited contributions.  Elon Musk just donated to Donald Trump. LET. THAT. SINK. IN. pic.twitter.com/IWJpdbrkSe — Liberacrat Media™️ (@Liberacrat) July 12, 2024 With a Forbes-estimated net worth of $250 billion, Musk has obvious potential to fundamentally alter a fundraising war in which Democrats were already reeling from the mushrooming effects of President Biden's disastrous performance in his June 27 debate with Trump, his poor interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos and gaffe-filled NATO summit press events on Thursday.  The donation seemingly completes a political metamorphosis: Musk has said he voted for Barack Obama, gave money to and voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and voted for Joe Biden in 2020.  However, Musk has displayed growing discontent with Democrats' approach to a variety of issues. One of them is border control: Earlier this year, Musk told an audience that "unvetted immigration at large scale is a recipe for disaster." He's also called out Democrats' opposition to photo-ID requirements for voting, saying the "far left" wants to make it "impossible to prove voter fraud."  Over the weekend, he expressed dismay at Biden's commitment to veto a bill that would require proof of citizenship to vote.  I strongly supported Obama for President, but today’s Democratic Party has been hijacked by extremists — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2022 In 2022, Musk tweeted that he voted for a Republican for the first time, backing Texas Republican Mayra Flores in a special US House election. Last month, Musk told Tesla shareholders that he's "had some conversations with [Trump], and he does call me, out of the blue, for no reason... I don't know why, but he does." In what may be a more potent motivator than policy issues, Musk repeatedly finds himself in the crosshairs of Democrats' weaponized government, with a federal target on his back since buying Twitter in 2022 with a goal of ridding it of its leftist, government-serving censorship regime. Within two weeks of Musk closing on the purchase, Biden told reporters that "Elon Musk's cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at. Whether he is doing anything inappropriate, I'm not suggesting that. I'm suggesting they're worth being looked at." With an ominously whimsical tone, he concluded, "there's a lot of ways..."  Many people were surprised when I said Biden wanted to charge Elon Musk criminally. Let me give a refresher. It all started when Musk bought Twitter. Biden responded by saying that Musk was "worth being looked" at "whether or not he's doing anything inappropriate". When asked… pic.twitter.com/TizCxnWQLr — Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) July 13, 2024 Summarizing the breadth of the attacks at The Hill in December, Liz Peek said Musk and his companies were under investigation by the Department of Justice, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Not surprising if true, as the Biden administration wants to arrest and charge Musk as a criminal. As much as people hate Trump, Musk has a right to self-defense by supporting the Republican ticket. https://t.co/Z3IXRn2Yz7 — Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) July 12, 2024 Musk has expressed concern over Trump's own victimization via politically-motivated lawfare, as he did in May when the former president was convicted in New York on mindbendingly-contrived charges relating to his 2016 funding of hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, who'd claimed the two had a one-night intimate encounter in 2006.  Indeed, great damage was done today to the public’s faith in the American legal system. If a former President can be criminally convicted over such a trivial matter – motivated by politics, rather than justice – then anyone is at risk of a similar fate. https://t.co/zrHCyIZazh — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 31, 2024 The Trump campaign's financial fortunes changed dramatically after that conviction, as irate sympathizers expressed their outrage with dollars, vaulting him into the lead. Musk's entry into the game exacerbates Democrats' dire situation, and is certain to accelerate efforts to jettison Biden from the top of the ticket...while exponentially increasing the anguish of leftists who thought things couldn't possibly get any worse.   Incoming Liberal Meltdown ??pic.twitter.com/CXE4WLRpwH — Donna Marie (@sabback) July 13, 2024 Tyler Durden Sat, 07/13/2024 - 08:45
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[l] at 7/13/24 6:10am
US-British Warplanes Launch Heavy Retaliatory Attacks On Yemen Via The Cradle US and UK warplanes launched several airstrikes on Hodeidah International Airport in western Yemen in the overnight and early Friday hours. "US–British aircraft targeted Hodeidah International Airport with three raids," a security source told Yemen’s SABA news agency.  The renewed attacks came after several prior US–UK attacks on Yemen Thursday. "American and British fighter jets launched five raids on various Ansarallah sites in the Ras Issa area, which includes an oil berth affiliated with the port of Al-Salif, north of Hodeidah," a local source in the western Hodeidah province told Sputnik Thursday.  Illustrative image: USAF US Central Command (CENTCOM) said shortly after midnight on Thursday that it destroyed five uncrewed vessels and three drones belonging to the Houthis in the Red Sea and in "a Houthi controlled area of Yemen." Yemen has imposed a naval blockade on all ships delivering goods to Israeli ports in the Red Sea, Arab Sea, Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean – in support of Palestinians in Gaza. It also recently expanded its campaign to include joint operations with the Iraqi resistance. Ansarallah and the Armed Forces of Yemen’s Sanaa government, which are merged with one another, have also been striking US and British warships in response to a violent and acampaign of airstrikes launched by Washington and London against Yemen in January. Ansarallah leader Abdel al-Malik al-Houthi said in a speech on Thursday that 57 people have been killed and 87 wounded in 570 airstrikes carried out by the US and UK against Yemen since the start of the western campaign. The Yemeni army has vowed not to stop its operations until the war in Gaza comes to an end. US and UK warplanes had also carried out intense airstrikes targeting several Yemeni provinces on May 30, destroying civilian infrastructure, killing 16 people, and injuring 41 more. Yemen responded by targeting Washington’s USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier in the Red Sea. The renowned aircraft carrier was allegedly struck by Yemeni forces two more times in the days that followed.  July 11 USCENTCOM Update In the past 24 hours, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) forces successfully destroyed five Iranian-backed Houthi uncrewed surface vessels (USV) in the Red Sea. USCENTCOM forces also successfully destroyed two Houthi uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) over the… pic.twitter.com/aXKmxXS3fm — U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) July 11, 2024 The western campaign has done nothing to deter the Yemenis. US and EU maritime task forces have failed to progress in preventing attacks on ships, which have strained both the Israeli economy and international shipping as a whole. Tyler Durden Sat, 07/13/2024 - 08:10
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[l] at 7/13/24 5:35am
Where In The World Are The Top Universities? Visual Capitalist's Pallavi Rao breaks down which countries host the most top 100 universities in the world, as per the World University Rankings 2024, sourced from Times Higher Education. The ranking measures 1,906 universities across 108 countries on 18 performance indicators across broad pillars like teaching, research environment, research quality, industry, and international outlook. The U.S. Dominates in Higher Education Not only does the U.S. have the most top 100 universities (36), it is also the most represented country (169 universities) in the entire ranking catalog of nearly 2,000 schools. Adding the U.S. number to that of Canada’s (3) gives a regional total for North America (39) that compares similarly to Europe’s (36) regional total. When looking at the top 10 specifically, the U.S. (7), and UK (3) split the pot for the very top of the ranking, which contains the world’s best universities. Oxford University ranks first overall while Stanford University (#2) is first for teaching, and MIT (#3) is first in research quality. Looking at top-ranking schools on a per capita basis, Singapore boasts two top 100 universities while having just over 5.5 million people. Switzerland, with nearly 9 million people, has three of the world’s best. Notably South America and Africa do not host a single top 100 university, at least according to this ranking framework and the criteria within. If you liked this article check out How Hard Is It to Get Into an Ivy League School which details the admission rates and median SAT scores required to be accepted. Tyler Durden Sat, 07/13/2024 - 07:35
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[l] at 7/13/24 5:00am
Why Viktor Orbán Deserves The Nobel Peace Prize Submitted by Russian Market, Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, stands out for his audacity and persistence in the realm of contemporary politics. His tireless efforts in diplomacy and steadfast commitment to national and global stability merit serious consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize. His relentless pursuit of peace, even amidst widespread criticism, underscores the kind of leadership the world desperately needs today. The Nobel Peace Prize, despite its controversies, remains one of the highest accolades for contributions to global peace and reconciliation. Historical recipients, from the European Union in 2012 for turning Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace, to Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama for their diplomatic endeavors, have set a precedent for recognizing transformative efforts in international relations. While some decisions have sparked debate, the prize continues to honor those who genuinely strive for global harmony. For over two decades Viktor Orbán has been a central figure in Hungarian politics. His tenure has seen Hungary navigate through the 2008 financial crisis and emerge with strengthened national sovereignty and economic stability. Orbán’s policies have focused on reducing national debt, increasing employment, and supporting families, thereby fostering a social cohesion that is essential for lasting peace. Economic stability, after all, is a cornerstone of societal tranquility. Recently, Orbán’s diplomatic missions have further highlighted his unwavering commitment to peace. As the head of the rotating EU presidency, he has been at the forefront of international diplomacy, particularly concerning the Ukraine conflict. His proactive visits to key leaders—including Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev, Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Xi Jinping in Beijing, and next, Donald Trump in Florida—demonstrate his dedication to engaging with global leaders and promoting dialogue. These are not mere photo opportunities but substantive efforts to foster real change. Orbán’s vigorous diplomatic activities have undoubtedly stirred the waters in Brussels. Critics argue that Orbán’s methods sometimes breach diplomatic protocols, but his engagement with pivotal figures in the Ukraine conflict illustrates the kind of bravery and initiative that many modern politicians lack. Orbán’s actions transcend superficial diplomacy; he is actively striving to move continents towards real solutions during a time of great division. Orbán’s peace efforts have drawn significant criticism, especially from European and German political leaders. However, his bold and relentless pursuit of peace positions him as a modern-day Robin Hood, fighting for stability and harmony in Europe. While many leaders prefer the comfort of their offices, Orbán is on the global stage, engaging with world leaders and taking decisive steps to bring about peace. Many politicians focus on short-term gains and superficial gestures, but Orbán stands out as a leader willing to take bold actions for the greater good. His approach to diplomacy—meeting with adversaries, challenging the status quo, and prioritizing long-term stability over fleeting popularity—lays the groundwork for meaningful peace talks and steps toward the de-escalation of the Ukraine conflict. These substantial contributions to peace warrant recognition. Viktor Orbán embodies the spirit of a modern-day Robin Hood, daring to undertake actions that many politicians shy away from. For his relentless pursuit of peace and stability, Orbán deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. Tyler Durden Sat, 07/13/2024 - 07:00
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[l] at 7/12/24 9:45pm
Escobar: We Are NATO, And We're Coming To Get Ya... Authored by Pepe Escobar, We are the world. We are the people. We are NATO. And we’re comin’ to get ya – wherever you are, whether you want it or not. Call it the latest pop iteration of the “rules-based international order” – duly christened at NATO’s 75th birthday in D.C. Well, the Global Majority had already been warned – but brains under techno-feudalism tend to be reduced to mush. So a gentle reminder is in order. This had already been stated in the first paragraph of the Joint Declaration on EU-NATO Cooperation, issued on January 9, 2023: “We will further mobilize the combined set of instruments at our disposal, be they political, economic, or military, (italics mine) to pursue our common objectives to the benefit of our one billion citizens.” Correction: barely one million, part of the 0.1% plutocracy. Certainly not one billion. Cut to the 2024 NATO Summit Declaration – obviously redacted, with stellar mediocrity, by the Americans, with the other 31 assorted vassal members duly assenting. So here’s the main 2024 NATO “strategic” trifecta: Extra tens of billions of dollars in “assistance” to the upcoming rump Ukraine; the overwhelming majority of these funds will be slushing around the industrial-military money laundering complex. Forceful imposition of extra military spending on all members. Massive hyping up of the “China threat”. As for the theme song of the NATO 75 show, there are actually two. Apart from “China Threat” (closing credits), the other one (opening credits) is “Free Ukraine”. The lyrics go something like this: it looks like we are at war against Russia in Ukraine, but don’t be fooled: NATO is not a participant in the war. Well, they are even setting up a NATO office in Kiev, but that is just to coordinate production for a Netflix war series. Those malignant authoritarians The outgoing epileptic slab of Norwegian wood posing as NATO Secretary-General – before the arrival of his Dutch Gouda replacement – put on quite a performance. Highlights include his fierce denunciation of “the growing alliance between Russia and its authoritarian friends in Asia”, as in “authoritarian leaders in Iran, North Korea and China”. These malignant entities “all want NATO to fail”. So there’s much work to do “with our friends in the Indo-Pacific”. “Indo-Pacific” is a crude “rules-based international order” invention. No one across Asia, anywhere, has ever used it; everyone refers to Asia-Pacific. The joint declaration directly blames China for fueling Russian “aggression” in Ukraine: Beijing is described as a “decisive enabler” of the Kremlin’s “war effort”. NATO script writers even directly threaten China: China “cannot enable the largest war in Europe in recent history without this negatively impacting its interests and reputation”. To counter-act such malignity, NATO will expand its “partnerships” with “Indo-Pacific” states. Even before the summit declaration, the Global Times was already losing their cool with these inanities: “Under the hype from the U.S. and NATO, it seems that China has become the ‘key’ to the survival of Europe, controlling the fate of the Russia-Ukraine conflict like a ‘decisive power.’” The tawdry rhetorical fest in D.C. definitely won’t cut it in Beijing: the Hegemon just wants “to reach more deeply into Asia, trying to establish an ‘Asia-Pacific NATO’ to help achieve the U.S.’ ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy.’” Southeast Asia, via diplomatic channels, essentially agrees: with the exception of bought and paid for misguided Filipinos, no one wants serious turbulence across Asia-Pacific like NATO has unleashed across Europe. Zhou Bo, senior fellow at Tsinghua University’s Center for International Security and Strategy and a retired PLA officer, also dismissed the Indo-Pacific shenanigans even before the summit: we had an excellent exchange about it late last year at the Astana Forum in Kazakhstan. Whatever happens, Exceptionalistan will remain on overdrive. NATO and Japan have agreed to establish a “highly confidential security information” line, around the clock. So count on meek Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to enhance Japan’s “pivotal role” in the building of an Asian NATO. Everyone with a brain from Urumqi to Bangalore knows that the motto across Asia, for the Exceptionalists, is “Today Ukraine, Tomorrow Taiwan”. The absolute majority of ASEAN, and hopefully India, will not fall for it. What is clear is that the NATO at 75 circus is absolutely clueless and impervious to what happened at the recent SCO summit in Astana. Especially when it comes to the SCO now positioned as a key node in bringing on a new, Eurasia-wide collective security arrangement. As for Ukraine, once again Medvedev Unplugged, in inimitable style, delivered the Russian position: “The Washington Summit Declaration of July 10 mentions ‘the irreversible path of Ukraine’ to NATO. For Russia, 2 possible ways of how this path ends are acceptable: either Ukraine disappears, or NATO does. Still better, both.” In parallel, China is conducting military exercises in Belarus only a few days after Minsk officially became a SCO member. Translation: forget about NATO “expanding” to Asia when Beijing is already making it clear it is very much present in NATO’s alleged “backyard”. A declaration of war against Eurasia Michael Hudson once again has reminded everyone with a brain that the running NATO warmongering show has nothing to do with peaceful internationalism. It’s rather about “a unipolar U.S. military alliance leading toward military aggression and economic sanctions to isolate Russia and China. Or more to the point, to isolate European and other allies from its former trade and investment with Russia and China, making those allies more dependent on the United States.” The 2024 NATO declaration actually is a renewed declaration of war, hybrid and otherwise, against Eurasia – as well as Afro-Eurasia (yes, there are promises of “partnerships” advancing everywhere from Africa to the Middle East). The Eurasia integration process is about geoeconomic integration – including, crucially, transportation corridors connecting, among other latitudes, northern Europe with West Asia. For the Hegemon, this is the ultimate nightmare: Eurasia integration driving Western Europe away from the U.S. and preventing that perennial wet dream, the colonization of Russia. So only plan A would apply, with absolute ruthlessness: Washington – literally – bombed Russia-Germany integration (Nord Stream 1 and 2, and more) and turned the vassal lands of frightened, discombobulated Europeans into a potentially very dangerous place, right beside a raging Hot War. So once again, let everyone go back to that first paragraph of the January 2023 EU-NATO joint communiqué. That’s what we’re facing today, reflected on the title of my latest book, Eurasia v. NATOstan: NATO – in theory – fully mobilized, in military, political and economic terms, to fight against any Global Majority forces that may destabilize Imperial Hegemony. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 23:45
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[l] at 7/12/24 9:20pm
The Fastest Growing Millionaire Populations, By Country The world’s economic powerhouses, like the U.S. or China, hold the majority of millionaires in absolute terms. But which countries are growing their millionaire populations at the fastest rate? This chart, via Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins, shows the growth of millionaire populations by country between 2013 and 2023, using data from New World Wealth, as detailed in the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2024. Specifically, the report tracks high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) who possess liquid investable wealth of $1 million USD or more. The figures are rounded to the nearest hundred and represent residents of each country as of December 2023. Emerging Markets Like Vietnam Top the Ranking While the United States remains the leader with over 5.4 million millionaires, emerging economies such as Vietnam, China, and India are seeing the fastest growth rates. Vietnam’s millionaire population, in particular, has surged by 98% over the last decade, reflecting the country’s rapid economic development. Meanwhile, China and India have created hundreds of thousands of new millionaires, solidifying their positions as major players in the global wealth landscape. Despite its modest growth rate of 62%, the United States still boasts the largest number of millionaires globally. China is nearing one million millionaires, becoming only the second country to approach this milestone after the United States. Vietnam’s exceptional 98% growth rate stands out, particularly given its communist governance and initially low base of millionaires. This growth reflects the country’s recent economic success and suggests a continuing upward trend in wealth accumulation. In contrast, the United Kingdom experienced a slight decline in its millionaire population over the past decade. Factors such as Brexit and other economic uncertainties have contributed to this reduction, highlighting the challenges faced by established economies. African countries like Nigeria and South Africa have seen their millionaire populations decrease, partly due to emigration and economic instability. Nigeria’s struggle with currency devaluation has further impacted its wealthy class, while South Africa saw a notable 20% decline in its millionaire population. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 23:20
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[l] at 7/12/24 8:55pm
Forbidden Fruit And The Classroom: The Huge American Sex-Abuse Scandal That Educators Scandalously Suppress Authored by James Varney via RealClearInvestigations, Every day millions of parents put their children under the care of public school teachers, administrators, and support staff. Their trust, however, is frequently broken by predators in authority in what appears to be the largest ongoing sexual abuse scandal in our nation’s history. Given the roughly 50 million students in U.S. K-12 schools each year, the number of students who have been victims of sexual misconduct by school employees is probably in the millions each decade, according to multiple studies. Such numbers would far exceed the high-profile abuse scandals that rocked the Roman Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America. For a variety of reasons, ranging from embarrassment to eagerness to avoid liability, elected or appointed officials, along with unions or lobbying groups representing school employees, have fought to keep the truth hidden from the public. “In any given year they have failed to report thousands of these situations, and instead they’ve papered them over, acted like it’s not an issue,” former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told RealClearInvestigations. Stunned by a 2018 Chicago Tribune investigation that found 523 incident reports of sexual misconduct by employees of the city’s schools during the past decade, DeVos during the Trump administration launched the process of including specific questions about such cases in the Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection, a process it undertakes every two years. Previously, the Office for Civil Rights asked only general questions about sexual misconduct incidents, without a breakdown of alleged perpetrators. The Biden administration initially sought to remove those questions, saying it wanted to avoid data duplication, but it backtracked after fierce criticism it was doing so as a sop to teachers unions. Consequently, the question will be included on future questionnaires, but, as of today, the Department of Education “has no data,” a spokesperson told RCI. These days, from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, even a cursory review of local news reporting brings disquieting revelations of teachers accused of or arrested for alleged sexual relations with a student. In just the past month: In California, multiple students filed a lawsuit against a male music teacher who had taught at three different schools in the San Jose area. The teacher is already serving prison time for previous convictions in sexual misconduct cases with students. In New Jersey, a female middle school teacher was arrested for an alleged ongoing sexual relationship with a student. In Texas, a male teacher was arrested for allegedly having a sexual affair with a 12-year-old student.  In Illinois, a female substitute teacher faces charges of “grooming and predatory criminal sexual assault” for an alleged relationship with a sixth-grader. In Washington, the arrest of a male high school teacher on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor represented a repeat nightmare for a school district that previously had a psychologist convicted on the same charges. Just last weekend, a 36-year-old New Jersey teacher was arrested on multiple assault charges involving a sexual relationship with a teenage student. These stories hold a lurid appeal to some. Sensational accounts of seductions of students by teachers, typically by high school female teachers, are tabloid catnip. The topic has provided material for standup comics, Hollywood writers, and pop tunes that didn't begin or end with Van Halen’s 1984 hit “Hot For Teacher.” But experts who track the problem don't take the problem lightly. Pointing to research from Hofstra University that found roughly 1 in 10 students in K-12 schools have suffered “some form of sexual misconduct by an educator,” Terri Miller, head of the advocacy group SESAME (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation), said the number of victims is staggering. “The rate of educator sexual misconduct is 10 times higher in one year’s time than in five decades of abuse by clergy,” Miller said, noting that in 2021 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reported it had received nearly 4,300 sexual abuse allegations. “Another striking contrast is we are not mandated to send our children to church; we are mandated to send them to school.”  The extent of the problem may shock many Americans. The topic has long been shrouded by a curtain held by various actors in the drama: schools reluctant to go public with embarrassing and possibly criminal activity, unions fighting for members’ privacy and sometimes state laws that protect it, and a government reluctant to ask hard questions that would gather reliable data. But the cases and tactics often used to cover them up have become common enough to earn an ugly nickname: “passing the trash.” “DOE does not and never has tracked sexual misconduct committed by adults against students,” said Billie-Jo Grant, a professor at California Poly State University who is one of the nation’s top researchers on the topic. “DOE has never aggressively worked to stop teachers' unions and administrators from passing the trash,” she told RCI. “DOE does not hold accountable the many enablers who have created a pool of mobile molesters in our schools nationwide. Your questions should include why? Why? Why?” Grant and Miller attended a Department of Education conference on the topic in D.C. in October 2019, and it was out of that meeting that its Office for Civil Rights decided to ask more specific questions in its Civil Rights Data Collection, according to Miller. And while the government may be groping toward more clarity, as a DOE official acknowledged having “no data” the Department would make public, he insisted the matter is viewed with concern. In 2004, then-Hofstra professor Carol Shakeshaft did a report for the DOE that assessed the data available on the topic. From a handful of regional studies and media reports, Shakeshaft’s report found some broad parameters of the problem. For example, while stories involving female teachers may be more titillating and gain more media attention, about two-thirds of the predators in schools are male. While no region seems to be immune from the problem, about half of the reported incidents occurred in southern states, Shakeshaft’s report found. Most of the victims are female (56%), and the majority of incidents involve high schools (62%). The problem is not confined to public schools, although the public school student population dwarfs that of private and parochial schools. Incidents of sexual misconduct at tony schools like New York’s Horace Mann, or at St. George’s in Rhode Island are but two of the most publicized examples of the problem. Protecting kids in school from inappropriate or criminal sexual activity involving employees and students would seem a surefire winner, but instead DeVos and her team found it was a political football. Union contracts and in many cases state law protect the privacy of employees. What that meant, DeVos explained, is that even if credible allegations of sexual misconduct were leveled against an employee, unless authorities were called in or an arrest made the alleged perpetrator was often free to leave one school and work in another.  The definitions of what constitutes sexual misconduct could be broadly construed, and the proliferation of social media has not only loosened the boundaries of contact between school employees and students, but provided more opportunities for wrongdoers. Still, for the most severe conduct, the Trump administration finally introduced on the 2020-21 school year questionnaire specific questions regarding “a school staff member and rape or attempted rape.” Answers for the initial year were optional, as is common with new reporting requirements, and the DOE declined to make the results public. But, in any case, those figures would be hopelessly incomplete because of the widespread school closures that were part of the COVID response.  Even with the new questions, Miller wondered how clear the picture provided might be, because for now OCR is asking only about incidents that occurred on school grounds. “That means incidents that happen in a car, or an apartment, or anywhere off-campus, won’t be included, and that’s where the majority of these attacks happen,” she said. The same problem had confronted one of DeVos’ top lieutenants, Kimberly Richey, when she served as chief counsel to the school system in Oklahoma. Even in a deeply conservative state, Richey found few supporters when, surprised by how many complaints were reaching her desk, she approached lawmakers in Norman about changes. “I met with resistance from the very beginning,” she said. “And I had complaints, 95 percent of the time coming from parents, about a school or a teacher, and when I contacted them the teacher would immediately resign, travel five miles to the next district and start working there.” Several people who spoke with RCI said teachers unions’ contracts were a major obstacle to both moving forward with credible allegations of sexual misconduct and blocking future school employment for alleged perpetrators. Neither the American Federation of Teachers nor the National Education Association responded to questions from RCI about this topic. Teachers aren’t the only obstacles to reform. While Superintendent of Public Education in Oklahoma from 2011-2015, Janet Barresi said, state groups lobbying on behalf of school administrators and board members were much more vociferous opponents than teachers unions of laws that would force schools to disclose information about prior allegations and cases involving school employees. “If the system would be more open and honest about all this, then parents would feel more relieved and it would get rid of a great deal of rumor and conjecture,” Barresi said. It is those employee protections that produce the pattern known as “passing the trash,” several experts told RCI. This is particularly relevant in cases where state or local law enforcement agencies are never notified of allegations. A school may launch an investigation after a parent or student files a complaint, but that investigation would cease when the employee resigned, and then state law or bargaining agreements often prohibit officials administrators from relaying such information to any new school where the alleged perpetrator applied or began working. Miller said SESAME has model legislation states could pass to confront the problem, but thus far the group has found limited success.  The Enough Abuse Campaign, which did not respond to RCI’s questions, notes that age-of-consent laws and the definitions of what constitutes sexual misconduct have created a complicated legal and regulatory map. Still, the campaign seems more optimistic about legislative progress than SESAME, declaring that “over 75 percent of states have now passed legislation specifically outlawing educator sexual misconduct,” in recognition of the power imbalance that exists in a teacher/student relationship. And there are some signs lawmakers are grasping the enormity of the issue. On July 1, an Oklahoma law went into effect mandating any verbal or social media contact between school employees and students be done on platforms the school controls, which state Rep. Sherrie Conley called a “long overdue” regulation. Similarly, in Michigan, state Rep. Brad Paquette, himself a teacher, has proposed legislation appointing a state ombudsman to deal with sexual misconduct complaints. “It’s just a beginning but we have to start somewhere,” Paquette told RCI. “I first heard back in 2012 or 2013, when I started teaching, that I had to join the union because I might have an accusation filed against me. But I thought, ‘No, I should be fired if I did something wrong.’” “I think we need to be engaged aggressively to root out the problem,” he said. “There’s no good reason for us to take a lax approach. You see these headlines all over the place and it’s unacceptable. People need to start asking questions.” While Richey said she did not recall any credible allegations crossing her desk during a brief stint as an attorney with Virginia schools, Paquette’s “everywhere” assessment seems on the mark. In Texas, for example, the online site Texas Scorecard started looking at the issue in 2022 after administrators in Prosper, a swanky Dallas suburb, attempted to cover up alleged repeated sexual offenses by a school bus driver. Since then, Texas Scorecard has kept an unofficial tally of such incidents, and the Lone Star State has had more than 100 cases every year since. The Prosper superintendent is currently under investigation by Texas agencies, in part for the 2022 coverup, as Texas law requires officials to report any credible allegations of child abuse within 48 hours. In May, two Prosper high school coaches were arrested for allegedly covering up another sexual assault that involved students. Separating student-on-student sexual misconduct is key to understanding how deep the problem may run with school employees, according to Grant and other experts. For example, in the more general questions DOE’s OCR would ask regarding improper incidents that fall under Title IX, troubling trends emerged. For 2015-2016, there were 9,649 incidents of sexual violence, and of that figure 394 cases were categorized as rape or attempted rape. In 2017-2018, those numbers skyrocketed, with overall incidents rising by 43% to 13,799 and the most serious category 74% to 685. As alarming as that trend may be, there is no way of knowing how many of those cases involved school employees, and Richey suspects that, given how the questionnaire was traditionally perceived, the majority of them are student-on-student. Nevertheless, Grant pointed to multiple studies that came to similar conclusions to that reached in the 2004 Hofstra report. That study found that 9.6% of the U.S. student body fall victim to educator sexual misconduct. Looking at California data from 2010-2021, Grant of Cal-Poly found 2,497 “school employees disciplined, reprimanded or arrested for sexually abusing K-12 students.” Between 2012 and 2018, the DOE received 280 complaints of adult-on-student sexual harassment in Chicago Public Schools. A Texas study from 2008 to 2016 found 1,415 Lone Star State educators “sanctioned for sexual misconduct.” These academic papers and sometimes salacious news accounts of teacher/student relationships do send up flares from time to time. In 2007, the Associated Press declared that “sexual misconduct plagues U.S. schools,” after its investigation “found more than 2,500 cases over five years in which educators were punished for actions from bizarre to sadistic.” In December 2023, Business Insider looked at the issue and concluded “shoddy investigations, quiet resignations, and a culture of secrecy have protected predators, not students.”  Last year, the Defense of Freedom Institute released a report titled “catching the trash” that concluded sexual misconduct by school employees has raged in the school system for decades.  “Various actors – school and district personnel, teacher unions, and the federal department charged with enforcing laws against sexual assault in public schools – bear responsibility for a systemic failure in preventing, and responding to, sexual assaults in public schools,” the report said. Pointing to the Biden administration’s attempt to remove specific questions about the issue from the OCR questionnaire, report author Paul Zimmerman told RCI the public should not expect much daylight on the topic in the near future. “The Biden administration has gone dark on this, they’re not interested in pressing this issue as evidenced by trying to discontinue the efforts made on this front by the previous administration,” he said. These political bumps, and the wreckage the COVID shutdowns unleashed on education in America, means there is no way of tackling the problem’s dimensions, let alone the problem itself. “It takes so long to get these numbers that in the end they’re not that helpful,” he said. The best way to block the passage of trash is through the SESAME Act, which DOE has cited as “model legislation” for states. To date, only a handful of states have passed the act, most recently Illinois in 2023. It requires the prohibition of non-disclosure agreements in personal or collectively bargained contracts, as well as deep background checks on all applicants. Only such thorough steps will break what Amos Guiora, a law professor at the University of Utah who has worked with Miller and SESAME, calls “the complicity of silence.” While the parameters of the problem may be hard to find, Guiora said he was stunned when he recently published what he acknowledged is a niche book on a West Virginia teacher exposed years late as a pedophile murderer. The limited book sold out on Amazon and his podcast has now topped 1 million views. “That tells you that what’s happening is something that is touching a chord,” he said. “It is so goddamn egregious what they have done to protect people who do this. Lawmakers will have to break the institutional complicity that surrounds this or they’ll just be protecting the perpetrators.” Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 22:55
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[l] at 7/12/24 8:30pm
Tipping Point: When Populations Peak As yesterday marks World Population Day, we’re taking a closer at one of the population trends that will affect many countries sooner or later in the 21st century: population decline. Especially prevalent across Europe and developed Asia, Statista's Felix Richter reports this demographic trend is a consequence of declining birth rates and ageing populations and poses significant challenges to the countries affected. You will find more infographics at Statista In countries like Japan and Italy, where population decline has begun in 2011 and 2015, respectively, fertility rates have long fallen below the replacement level of 2.1 percent, influenced by factors such as higher education and career opportunities for women, shifts in societal norms regarding family and childbearing and an ageing overall population. Countries with declining populations face a number of challenges, both economic and social. Economically, a shrinking workforce can lead to labor shortages, reduced productivity and increased pressure on social welfare systems. With fewer working-age individuals to support a growing elderly population, the financial burden on pension systems and healthcare services intensifies. Socially, a declining population can result in the depopulation of rural areas, shrinking communities and the ensuing challenges in maintaining infrastructure and public services. Addressing these issues requires comprehensive strategies and strategies. Raising the retirement age or increasing taxes/social contributions can help alleviate the financial burdens associated with a demographic imbalance. Policies to support work-life balance and affordable childcare can help slow the population decline and immigration of young, skilled workers can help address the labor shortages and increase productivity. According to the latest revision of the United Nation’s World Population Prospects, many countries will face these challenges within this century if they do not already, such as the aforementioned Japan and Italy and China and Germany, which were expected to see their first population decline in 2023. France’s population is expected to start declining in 2043, Brazil’s in 2048 and even India’s vast population is projected to start shrinking in 2065. Among developed nations, the United States, Canada and Australia are notable exception, with none of them currently expected to see their first population decline in the 21st century. Geographically, many African nations are still growing rapidly, resulting in a continental shift in global population that will see countries like Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Tanzania among the most populous nations in the world by 2100. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 22:30
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[l] at 7/12/24 8:05pm
"Project 2025" Is Just "Project 1981" Authored by Michael Tracey, “Dangerous, diabolical, and dastardly” is how Hakeem Jeffries, the House Democratic Leader, just described the so-called “Project 2025” planning document that all liberals have now been commanded to light their hair on fire about and run around in circles screeching how it portends some imminent apocalyptic MAGA takeover. First off, it’s the least surprising thing in the world that the preeminent DC think tank of the “Conservative Movement” would merge itself to the maximum extent possible with the branding and sensibility of Donald Trump, the current undisputed ruler of the “Conservative Movement,” such as it exists. What would be far more surprising is if the Heritage Foundation, which drafted the document now being wailed about by every Democratic pundit, had not maximally ingratiated itself with Trump — in fact, the Trump Administration’s embrace of the Heritage Foundation was already well underway during his first term. But now liberals, desperate for a campaign pivot amidst Joe Biden’s cognitive implosion, are using their usual overwrought melodrama to hype “Project 2025” as slam-dunk proof that Trump obviously represents an Existential Threat To American Democracy™ or whatever. What they curiously fail to mention is that the document is robustly aligned with many of the liberals’ most sacrosanct priorities. Amusingly, Trump has been busy lately ‘disavowing’ Project 2025, but that’s neither here nor there. What percentage of despondent Dems who have this crippling fear of Project 2025 have actually read the document? I’m not going to claim to have read all 920 pages, but I did read the sections on the Department of Defense, State Department, and “Intelligence Community.” I would love to ask MSNBC anchors if they read these portions, because if they did, they should be celebrating the glorious reaffirmation of “bipartisan consensus” contained therein, rather than fulminating about some despotic nightmare. Christopher C. Miller, who briefly served as Trump’s “acting” Secretary of Defense, writes in his Project 2025 contribution that the next Conservative Administration must “prevent Beijing’s hegemony over Asia,” including by “modernizing and expanding the US nuclear arsenal.” Because we all know that what the “Deep State” fears most is pouring untold billions into nuclear weapons boondoggles that will keep themselves and their corporate partners gainfully employed in perpetuity. Miller solemnly declares that in addition to China, “the United States and its allies also face real threats from Russia, as evidenced by Vladimir Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine, as well as from Iran, North Korea, and transnational terrorism.” Countering these alleged threats, he concludes, “will require more spending on defense, both by the United States and by its allies.” Thus the fearsome Project 2025 envisions a future in which the march of US and “allied” militarization continues apace, just like it has during the Biden Administration. Someone’s going to have to explain how massively increasing expenditures on what is sometimes derisively referred to as the “military-industrial complex” represents any sort of severe blow to the “Deep State,” as the trembling libs claim to fear, and as “anti-establishment” right-wingers claim to yearn for. Miller says US conventional force planning must be structured in such a manner as to “defeat a Chinese invasion of Taiwan,” so if what you deplore in this document is that bipartisan planning for war with China could accelerate under a second Trump Administration, that may be legitimate — but that does not seem to be what the liberals are whining about. The chilling cover page of the Think Tank document Because the Biden Administration is currently doing the same thing! Miller amusingly calls for the “acquisition community,” also known as arms manufacturers, to be granted greater flexibility in securing multi-year procurement contracts to spur the “innovation” required for the Defense Industrial Sector to adequately confront all the scary Emerging Threats around the world. Liberals in a state of terror can take solace that this multi-year procurement reform has already been well underway during the Biden Administration, largely to provide armaments for Ukraine (and Taiwan), and these legislative adjustments have been enacted with thoroughly bipartisan support, as usual. “Replenish and maintain US stockpiles of ammunition and other equipment that have been depleted as a result of US support to Ukraine,” the document advises. Good news: that, again, is already happening, with new artillery factories popping up everywhere from Arkansas to Texas. Miller’s DOD section additionally declares that the US “must regain its role” as the “Arsenal of Democracy” by further ramping up foreign arms sales, which he says have fallen to unacceptable lows under the Biden Administration — despite Biden and Democrats similarly trumpeting the “Arsenal of Democracy” concept as it relates to Ukraine and other conflicts in which “Democracy is on the Line,” just like WWII. (Yawn.) Apparently there is firm agreement on this messianic imperative amongst the “Project 2025” crowd. The US has firmly retained its distinction as the world’s number one global arms exporter all throughout the Biden Administration, but this clearly isn’t enough for Project 2025. Weirdly, the MSNBC liberals don’t seem to be particularly troubled by that policy prescription. Among the “byzantine bureaucracy” that Project 2025 wants to cut is those bureaucratic impediments which prevent the US from exporting arms across the world at an acceptably rapid pace. The Heritage Foundation pinheads also want to eliminate the practice by which the State Department notifies Congress about such arms sales, decrying this already-meager oversight opportunity as a terrible “hinderance” (sp). As far as the DOD’s “intelligence” assets, Miller advises that they more fulsomely “align collection and analysis with vital national interests (countering China and Russia).” Can someone explain what Democrats find so “existentially” horrifying about this? They support the same exact thing, and in fact often argue that Trump is insufficiently committed to countering Our Big Bad Enemies. If there’s an “existential threat” contained anywhere in this document, it’s the same one that Democrats are currently promoting at full-blast: a lurch into a hotter-than-Cold War with China and Russia. (Which was just bolstered once again at the Washington NATO Summit this week, having produced an official Declaration that came closer than ever before in designating China an official enemy, by accusing it of providing “material support” to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.) Miller wants to “increase the Army budget”; for the Navy, he wants to “build a fleet of more than 355 ships” as well as “produce key munitions at the maximum rate with significant capacity,” because the Navy must be urgently “prepared to expend large quantities of air-launched and sea-launched stealthy, precision, cruise missiles.” If any of this sincerely troubles hysterical Democrats, they would’ve been troubled by the budget-busting Defense expenditures that Biden has ushered in, building on the similarly budget-busting expenditures ushered in by the “dangerous” Trump. But of course they’re not troubled by any of this stuff. As far as the Ukraine war, the author of the State Department portion of the tome, Kiron Skinner, a former Director of Policy Planning in Trump’s State Department, attempts to distill what she concludes to be the consensus “conservative viewpoint” with respect to Ukraine: “Continued US involvement must be fully paid for; limited to military aid (while European allies address Ukraine’s economic needs); and have a clearly defined national security strategy that does not risk American lives.” This nicely mirrors what has indeed been the Congressional Republican consensus with respect to Ukraine policy under Biden, including among many self-proclaimed “MAGA” Republicans; it also tracks with the garbled and obfuscatory policy stance that’s been intermittently articulated by Trump. Trump and the mainline GOP seldom ever object to the principle of funding and supplying the Ukrainian war effort. (After all, Trump is the one who started sending Ukraine lethal weaponry in the first place.) They simply call for that funding to be streamlined with a greater emphasis on core military expenditures, rather than the “economic aid” that Democrats are generally more keen to tack on. This was the essence of a House GOP policy brief that “MAGA Mike Johnson” (to use Trump’s preferred nickname for the Speaker) personally hand-delivered to the White House in late 2023, while the mammoth National Security Supplemental bill was being preliminarily negotiated — and which Trump himself eventually orchestrated the passage of. Another key prescription in that policy brief was that the US should “descope” its involvement in Ukraine to only that which is necessary for “enabling the killing of Russians on the front lines. That means providing the necessary weapon systems and tactics to win — not to tie.” If you notice, this proclamation amounts to House Republicans (the group most acutely responsive to Trump’s political influence and dictates) arguing that the Biden Administration has been insufficiently aggressive in supplying Ukraine with weapons. The final War Funding Bill that Trump backed in April thus included a requirement for the Biden Administration to send Ukraine longer-range missile systems, which was then followed by Biden’s authorization for Ukraine to strike territorial Russia with US-provided materiel. Project 2025 states that “European allies” must take center stage in “addressing Ukraine’s economic needs,” which is also already well underway, with the EU approving 50 billion euro in “economic” assistance several months ago. Hence, even the marginal, insignificant critiques of Ukraine policy in this document could become mostly irrelevant by the time Trump theoretically takes office. So what exactly are Democrats and liberals blabbering about when they screech that Project 2025 is an “existential threat”? Insofar as it relates to the Ukrainian war effort, which they also fanatically support, the document merely reinforces and solidifies the pro-war bipartisan consensus. (As usual.) They should therefore be cheering the document, rather than screaming like banshees about it, but of course a rational policy analysis is not what Dems are aiming for with their present bluster. They just want a scary-sounding applause line for revving up anti-Trump voters by making them think Trump is getting ready to barrel into office with some crazed tyrannical plan, while omitting any mention that the “plan” is fully consistent with the foreign policy prescriptions they fervently support. When it comes to what’s commonly referred to as the “Deep State” in MAGA parlance — aka, the “Intelligence Community” — Project 2025 contains virtually the opposite as what’s being suggested by hysterical libs. (Go figure). Fundamentally, the guidance calls for marginally re-organizing the Intelligence Services so as to empower them. Trump loves to grouse that elements of the National Security State were irrationally against him in 2016-2018, and that’s true as far as it goes, with the Russiagate/Mueller fiasco being proof of these tawdry machinations. So it would make sense that Trump and the people in his orbit would want to impose various safeguards to prevent any future sabotage against Trump. But the idea that this means Trump would radically overhaul the “Intelligence Community” and put it in service of Putin and Kim Jong Un, or whatever other nonsense, is just entirely wrong. Simply read the text! The whole point of these fearsome reforms with respect to the “Intelligence Community” is to enable “an incoming conservative President” to use all the “intelligence authorities” at his disposal to more “aggressively anticipate and thwart our adversaries, including Russia, Iran, North Korea, and especially China.” Is this what Democrats have in mind when they hyperventilate about Project 2025? Of course not, because the Biden Administration is doing essentially the same exact thing. As usual, however, recognizing the fundamental cross-party continuity in US foreign policy and “national security” serves no one’s short-term partisan interests, so they have to deceive the public about it for votes. The document merely recommends mild bureaucratic reorganization, some of which it says has already been implemented by the Biden Administration — at the urging of the outgoing Trump Administration!  To help further the legislative intent behind IRTPA, DNI Ratcliffe advised during the transition of incoming Biden DNI Avril Haines that the DNI should be the only Cabinet-level intelligence official. While his recommendation was adopted and has corrected the previously allowed imbalance by making the DNI the only Cabinet official and head of the IC at the table, the ODNI’s effectiveness and direction leave much to be desired. With regard to the CIA, Project 2025 decries the tendency of “risk aversion or political bureaucracy to delay execution of the President’s foreign policy goals.” It thus recommends the diminution of bureaucracy and placement of individuals in the agency who will more effectively harness the power of clandestine operations to fortify and expand American hegemony. Another huge shocker! The “intelligence” section of the document further advises the renewal of FISA warrantless surveillance, declaring that “Section 702 should be understood as an essential tool in the fight against terrorism, malicious cyber actors, and Chinese espionage.” Which again nicely aligns with Trump’s position, so far as it can be ascertained, seeing as he backed MAGA Mike Johnson’s successful effort to renew FISA in April, on the understanding that they both wanted Trump to be the one wielding that power when it next comes up for reauthorization in two years. It would also be fascinating to hear exactly what Biden boosters find so objectionable about the document’s exhortation for the next Administration to double down on “ensuring Israel has both the military means and the political support and flexibility to take what it deems to be appropriate measures to defend itself against the Iranian regime and its regional proxies Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” Yeah, nothing like that going on at the moment. So when the MSNBC crowd shrieks that Project 2025 is the terrifying roadmap for the next Trump Administration, they perhaps have it half right. There’s every reason to think the plan does in fact broadly represent DC conservative priorities for the next administration. But what the shriekers fail to convey is that this comfortably aligns with vaunted bipartisan consensus on critical issues. Many sections could easily have been pilfered from a Democratic think tank. The 1981 version of the fearsome Think Tank manifesto Yes, there’s a bunch more domestic policy stuff in Project 2025 that I haven’t focused on here. (I’ve only even highlighted a small percentage of the “national security” stuff.) But for the record, Ronald Reagan also ran on abolishing the Department of Education in 1980, back when he was also outsourcing his personnel and policy plans to the reviled Heritage Foundation. The abolition never happened. Whatever your views on this desirability of maintaining the existence of the Department of Education, the fact remains that this has been a bog-standard “Conservative Movement” aspiration for ages. So you might as well call the plan Project 1981 rather than Project 2025. To portray it as some sort of apocalyptic fascism unique to Trump is just totally ridiculous. The 1981 version was compiled in 1979, similar to the advance compilation of the “2025” document, which was published in 2023. (The Reagan-era document is about equally as long and comprehensive, clocking in at at least 1077 pages, while the Trump-era document fizzles out at a paltry 920 pages). Comparable plans had also been drafted in the late 1990s in anticipation of the Conservative Movement returning to power after eight years of the Clinton Administration: On August 20, 1999, the well-known American conservative think tanks, Heritage Foundation and The Project for a New American Century, together launched a policy statement calling for an end to the US’s “strategic ambiguity” policy on Taiwan, openly calling on the US government to “clearly announce that in case of an attack or blockade of Taiwan, the United States will go to defend Taiwan, including Kinmen and Matsu islands along the coast.” This statement has 23 people’s signatures, including Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby (later served as Chief of Staff to the Vice President), Richard Perle (later was appointed as Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, Rumsfeld’s main assistant), Richard Armitage (later served as Deputy Secretary of State). “Project for a New American Century” might ring a bell as the classically “neoconservative” think tank that in 1998 wrote an infamous letter to Bill Clinton demanding regime change in Iraq. The letter was signed by a bevy of luminaries who’d later serve in the George W. Bush Administration, like Elliott Abrams and John Bolton, who also went on to serve in the… Trump Administration. So yes, there’s plenty to be “alarmed” by in “Project 2025,” but none of it is particularly unique to Trump. Instead, it’s part and parcel of longstanding DC Conservatism, sometimes known as Con Inc., which will inevitably shape the personnel and policy framework of a forthcoming Trump Administration — just like it did with the previous Trump Administration. But of course that’s not the fear being stoked by anguished Dems, who are desperate to inspire the 10 millionth Mega Trump Panic in hopes of salvaging their current electoral prospects. The Heritage Foundation used to love to tout that “the foundation had a great hour when Ronald Reagan was elected president and found waiting for him three volumes of Heritage material designed to help him chart the nation’s course in the right direction.” Undoubtedly future homages will be made to the amazing greatness of their influence under Trump, while befuddled Democrats wonder how “democracy” managed to remain in tact. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 22:05
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[l] at 7/12/24 7:45pm
A Big Wreck Is About To Happen At The Intersection Of Artificial Intelligence Boulevard And Net Zero Avenue Via Energy Security and Freedom, The Big Green Grift, the Energiewende and all the other green energy scams are about to be slowly shuttled aside because we need massive amounts of new energy these schemes cannot deliver. Moreover, we can no longer afford the virtue signaling, power seeking and money grabbing nonsense these ventures involve. Indeed, there's a big wreck about to happen at the intersection of Artificial Intelligence Boulevard and Net Zero Avenue. Future AI data center demand Is forcing energy discussions to suddenly get very real. Google, of course, is already facing the fact the two streets it’s simultaneously traveling are not parallel roads, but, rather, two routes that intersect and the company will be forced to stop and decide which direction it wants to go. Net Zero Avenue, taken to the end of the highway leads the end of Google’s AI dreams, while Artificial Intelligence Boulevard promises huge rewards. We wrote about this Google dilemma and which way the evil company will go here. The situation is also nicely summarized in a new report titled “The U.S. Needs a Bigger (Energy) Boat: Putting The Sheer Magnitude of Forecasted Energy Demand into Perspective,” from Pickering Energy Partners. Here are some powerful excerpts (emphasis added): [O]ur policymakers may be underestimating a crucial aspect of AI, namely, the anticipated surge in electricity consumption and demand it will command, especially considering that India and China display much higher AI deployment rates. Our research suggests that AI could conservatively double the current electricity consumption in the U.S. to around 8.4 trillion kilowatt-hours. If not effectively prepared for and managed, this surge in demand could strain our domestic energy resources, potentially leading to electricity scarcity, increased costs across the United States, greater geopolitical volatility across the globe, and ultimately, a failure on behalf of the U.S. to lead the AI evolution. The U.S. is not just a player in the world’s data center industry – we are the dominant force within the global landscape, and it isn’t close. As of March 2024, almost 5,400 data centers exist across fifty-one states in the U.S. The next closest is Germany, which has about one-tenth as many. The number of data centers in the U.S. is nearly 12 times more than in China, a clear testament to the scale and significance of the data center industry in the U.S. and our commitment to remain economically competitive on the global stage over the next century. It is also critical to highlight that, as the chart above illustrates, most of the U.S. AI activity is at the exploratory level (U.S. AI Exploration rate is 43% v. Deployment rate of 25%), meaning the industry in the U.S. remains in its relative infancy, especially because, as previously mentioned, we have substantially more data centers than any other country in the world. McKinsey also notes that “2023 was the year the world discovered genAI…2024 is the year organizations truly began using, and deriving value, from this new technology.” Data centers operated by Amazon, Microsoft, and Google reign supreme, collectively accounting for over half of all such centers. In the past year, Amazon and Google have been at the forefront, opening the most new data centers in the United States. Even though they are third, Microsoft boasts a network that “connects more than 60 data center regions, 200 data centers, 190 points of presence, and over 175,000 miles of terrestrial and subsea fiber worldwide, which connects to the rest of the internet at strategic global edge points of presence10.” One hundred and seventy-five thousand miles of fiber sounds like a lot – and it is. The circumference of the Earth at the equator is just a smidge under 25,000 miles – so the third-place data center network represents enough fiber to wrap around the Earth’s equator seven times… To put the forecasted demand into context, consider this: A recent MIT study found that a single data center consumes electricity equivalent to 50,000 homes. Estimates indicate that Microsoft, Amazon, and Google operate about 600 data centers in the U.S. today… Arguments exist that by 2030, 80% of renewable power sources will fulfill electricity demand. For reference, the U.S. generated roughly 240 billion kilowatt hours of solar and 425 billion kilowatt hours of wind, totaling 665 billion kilowatt hours in 2023. Assuming a 50/50 split between wind and solar, that scenario implies that, to satisfy the U.S. electricity demand that adequately facilitates AI competitiveness, wind and solar will have to generate approximately 3.4 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity each. That is more than a ten-fold increase over the next five years. The EIA highlights that the U.S. planned utility-scale electric-generating capacity addition in 2023 included 29 million kilowatts of solar (54% of the total) and 6 million kilowatts of wind (11% of the total), which pales in comparison to the estimated amount required. It just doesn’t get much more clear; renewables cannot begin to supply the energy needed for AI data centers. Only fossil fuels and nuclear can get the job done. It’s that simple. AI is not something global elites are going to let slide by. They’ve had a good run with the Big Green Grift but those days are going to gradually (maybe not so gradually) come to an end, as the demand for energy to power AI forces a reconsideration. Yes, the rhetoric will likely live on for quite some time, but the reality is that AI is the next big thing, it needs massive energy and the elites invested in it will not be denied. Reality is fast-approaching and it involves a lot of fossil fuels and a lot of nuclear. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 21:45
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[l] at 7/12/24 7:40pm
Where Inequality Is More & Less Rife The Global Wealth Report 2024 was released today by the Swiss bank UBS, highlighting where wealth inequalities have grown the furthest. As Staista's Anna Fleck shows in the chart below, South Africa comes top of the list, scoring 82 out of 100 on the inequality index, where 0 indicates total equality and 100 indicates absolute inequality. This is a jump of 17.7 percent since 2008. You will find more infographics at Statista Other countries with particularly high scores were Brazil (81), the United Arab Emirates (77), Saudi Arabia (77) and Sweden (77). Even Japan, which at 54 scored the lowest figure of the markets analyzed, is still far from equal. The gap on inequality has closed slightly in North America since 2008, with the United States recording a decrease of 2.4 percent in that time frame. Inequality has widened in Latin America and much of Eastern Europe and Asia though. This is shown on the chart, with Brazil seeing a wealth increase in inequality of 16.8 percent and Mexico a rise of 6.5 percent, as India saw an increase of 16.2 percent, Singapore of 22.9 percent, Indonesia of 15.1 percent, China of 7.4 percent and Japan of 9.4 percent. South Korea and Hong Kong buck the regional trend, with decreases of 8.1 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively. According to UBS, while inequality is increasing in fast-growing markets, the opposite is true in a number of mature economies, where middle wealth segments are outpacing the pace of growth of higher wealth brackets. While the Gini index is a useful tool for comparing inequality across different markets, it is important to take the measure of absolute wealth into consideration too. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 21:40
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[l] at 7/12/24 7:33pm
"Vice President Tulsi Gabbard" Submitted by QTR's Fringe Finance If it wasn’t evident going into yesterday that President Joe Biden was going to need to step aside, all doubts should now be out of the way. For his opening act on Thursday, Biden made his way out of bed and to the NATO summit across town, all for the honor of stepping on stage and referring to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy — whom U.S. taxpayers have gifted hundreds of billions of dollars at Biden’s direction to fight Russia — as “President Putin”. To refer to Zelenskiy as Putin, and at a NATO event nonetheless, is about as big of a f*ck up as you can possibly make given the world’s geopolitical climate right now. This would have been like introducing President George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium after 9/11 as “President Osama Bin Laden”. And if you weren’t in stitches after his first set, Biden returned later in the evening for an encore at the much heralded ‘Big Boy’ press conference he had been scheduled to give in order to show the world, to quote the movie Big Daddy, that he could “wipe his own ass”. But instead of instilling confidence in the nation, Biden coughed, mumbled and stumbled his way through about an hour’s worth of prepared remarks and softball questions. At one point, he referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as “Vice President Trump”. Sadly, Biden is slurring his words far more noticeably each day. Even for a skeptic of Biden’s, I had to sigh and turn the press conference off before it finished, writing on X last night: “He is cooked. This has to be the end.” In other words, even for us conservatives, libertarians and critics of the Biden administration, it’s just getting difficult to watch. Each day jokes about elder abuse look closer and closer to reality, and the humor of a massive clusterf*ck in the Democratic political arena is eroded away by the blossoming realization that it’s simply depressing to watch a human being — somebody’s son, father and husband — deteriorate publicly, without dignity, and surrounded by people too cowardly to do the right thing for him. The gaffes last night quickly shot down what little chance Biden had of trying to stay in the race, in my opinion. I know it’s technically “up to him” but the powers that be couldn’t have scripted a worse outcome than him calling Zelenskiy “Putin” and then calling Harris “Trump”. Biden’s goose is cooked, mark my words. This means, as I pointed out days ago, the Democrats are likely going to promote Vice President Airhead to the potential nominee spot, despite her outright horrific polling in the 2020 primaries and the fact that for the most part it appears the country still finds her detestable. ? Zero Hedge readers take 50% off a Fringe Finance annual subscription for life by using this link: ZH50 And while the Trump campaign has publicly stated they are happy to sit back and watch the Democrats self-immolate, I also believe they are holding off on announcing their Vice President pick until the Democratic nominee is solidified. There’s going to be a significant amount of strategy that goes into Trump’s VP pick: pick someone innocuous because you’re leading or continue on offense? Target minority demographics with a person of color or pick the best person for the job? Find someone who can be as aggressive as Trump or settle for someone who knows how to play the role of second fiddle? I played out a number of these scenarios last month. Without trying to answer all of these questions, I’m certain I can answer one: if Kamala Harris winds up as the Democratic nominee, Trump must pick Tulsi Gabbard as his Vice President. There is no better option. Not only is Tulsi world famous for having already beat Kamala to a pulp during the 2020 primary debates… …but she’s also is extraordinarily intelligent and well spoken… …and happens to be an active member of the U.S. military and a woman. She didn’t have to do any “favors” to make her way in the political world, she has had the courage to stand up to the most terrifying political force, the Clintons, in 2019 accurately calling Hillary the “personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long”. Additionally, Tulsi’s long held non-interventionist foreign policy ideas fall in line with Trump’s policy of “let’s just use some common sense and get these global conflicts settled and stop the killing, regardless of who is deemed the ‘winner’”. She has made it clear that avoiding World War 3 is far more important to her than prolonging wars and changing regimes overseas. While Nikki Haley’s lobbyists may not like this, it’s what’s best for the nation. Photo: The New Yorker If you’re a Trump strategist, you have to know that Tulsi not only immediately throws a wet blanket over all the independents who would vote for Kamala because she’s a woman, but in my opinion would also be a perfect compliment for Trump’s style. Tulsi could soften Trump’s image up a bit — she is rife with charming moments — but could also help hold the ‘edge’ Trump conducts business, especially foreign policy business, with. At the end of the day Tulsi went to boot camp and, let’s be honest, could probably kick Kamala Harris’ ass in a fight. But, like Trump, I’m sure she’d rather just emanate ‘peace through strength’. And you can say what you want about that strategy, but it kept us out of wars and kept the world at peace for the 4 years Trump was in office. It’s tough to argue with those results. Aloha, Tulsi! QTR’s Disclaimer: Please read my full legal disclaimer on my About page here. This post represents my opinions only. In addition, please understand I am an idiot and often get things wrong and lose money. I may own or transact in any names mentioned in this piece at any time without warning. Contributor posts and aggregated posts have been hand selected by me, have not been fact checked and are the opinions of their authors. They are either submitted to QTR by their author, reprinted under a Creative Commons license with my best effort to uphold what the license asks, or with the permission of the author. This is not a recommendation to buy or sell any stocks or securities, just my opinions. I often lose money on positions I trade/invest in. I may add any name mentioned in this article and sell any name mentioned in this piece at any time, without further warning. None of this is a solicitation to buy or sell securities. These positions can change immediately as soon as I publish this, with or without notice. You are on your own. Do not make decisions based on my blog. I exist on the fringe. The publisher does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in this page. These are not the opinions of any of my employers, partners, or associates. I did my best to be honest about my disclosures but can’t guarantee I am right; I write these posts after a couple beers sometimes. I edit after my posts are published because I’m impatient and lazy, so if you see a typo, check back in a half hour. Also, I just straight up get shit wrong a lot. I mention it twice because it’s that important. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 21:33
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[l] at 7/12/24 7:32pm
Trump's Return: Get Ready For Chaos To Be Unleashed And Blamed On You Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us Yeah, it’s happening. The last half of 2024 is shaping up to be one of the most politically insane in a century and the sparks are already flying. The biggest moment of absurdity so far might be the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, in which it was made abundantly clear for all the world to see that Biden is on the fast track to crazy town. We’ve been saying for four years that the guy is gone, a dementia case propped up and protected by the DNC and the media. Now, it’s undeniable: There’s a vegetable sitting in the Oval Office and the nation is in a panic. Leftists are panicking because they’re now realizing their candidate is a farce, the emperor has no clothes and they bet all their cash on one very retarded race horse. Conservatives are celebrating, but also panicking because they think Biden in his senility might launch nukes at any moment. There are even people calling for a 25th Amendment intervention to remove Biden because they actually think he makes decisions. He doesn’t. Biden is a proxy for more powerful interests and always has been. Getting rid of Biden early doesn’t solve the greater problem, nor would it prevent a nuclear Apocalypse (if that was ever the plan to begin with). Other people are making his decisions for him. In the meantime, there are a host of surprises that could take place before November. As I noted in my article ‘The Juggling Act: Is 2024 A Pivotal Year For The Globalists?’ published in January, the election of 2024 is developing into its own Black Swan event. I stated that: “…There is the potential for shock events, such as Biden stepping down at the last minute. Trump being arrested but winning anyway. Or, a major geopolitical crisis which is used by the Democrats as an excuse to “postpone” the election…” It’s looking more and more like at least one of these scenarios is about to play out (Biden stepping down or being pushed out by the DNC).  It’s also becoming increasingly more likely that Donald Trump will return to the White House regardless.  For now it appears that Biden wants to cling to his position, but even if he is replaced there’s not a Democrat candidate yet that has the numbers to prevail in November.  And if you think election fraud will be a factor, don;t forget that the votes have to be close in order to rig the outcome. The question is, what will this mean for conservatives and patriots going forward? Is this cause for elation, or should Americans be getting ready for the rug to be pulled out from underneath them? After Trump’s win in 2016 (which I predicted a year ahead of the elections) I suggested that Trump might be set up as the next Herbert Hoover; the scapegoat for a host of economic and social calamities caused by obscure and shadowy interests.  I also questioned whether or not Trump would be a willing participant in this theater. Keep in mind, his cabinet picks in 2016 were a nightmare – Packed with a swarm of banking elites, a member of the Rothschild cartel (Wilber Ross), CFR members and other bad actors. He truly had some of the worst people standing over his shoulder at the time (like Anthony Fauci, for example…).  Even if Trump had good intentions, his advisers certainly did not. With the combination of BLM riots, Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, the pandemic hysteria, covid stimulus triggering stagflation, the January 6th “insurrection”, Trump was turned into a pariah (for the most part unjustly). Conservatives in 2020 and beyond were labeled the ultimate villains; the “destroyers of democracy.”  Trump was, in many ways, pigeonholed as another Hoover. But something happened during this process that I believe the globalists did not intend; the pandemic agenda failed. The vaccine passports failed. The mandates failed. The average infection fatality rate was a tiny 0.23% and the public was not sufficiently terrified. Too many patriots were refusing to comply. The CDC numbers on vaccinations were clearly inflated to make it look like more people were taking the jab. Almost no one took the boosters. It was perhaps one of the biggest blunders the globalists have ever faced. The WEF’s Klaus Schwab, Dr. Evil himself, has faded into the background and retired as executive chairman. The big play for medical tyranny bombed. Now what to do? Is it a mistake that the establishment has continued to stick with Biden despite his delirium? Or, did they send Biden into that first debate knowing exactly how bad it was going to go?  Is this a ploy designed to complete the Herbert Hoover scenario? This year, Trump hinted in an interview with Fox Business that he “does not want to become the next Herbert Hoover” inheriting a time bomb economy from Biden. Biden argued in response that Trump was ALREADY like Herbert Hoover because of the jobs lost during covid. This is, of course, a false claim.  But the narrative is everywhere: “Trump will oversee a crash in America similar to 1929.” Consider for a moment how many different elements of the US economy today are misrepresented by rigged stats. Biden has suppressed inflation stats like CPI by dumping strategic oil reserves onto the market. His employment stats are a complete circus with almost every job “created” going to illegal immigrants, artificially pumping up BLS numbers.  Biden has created false growth in American manufacturing by subsidizing green energy companies with tax dollars.  The media seems intent to ignore the national debt issue, with interest payments amassing over $1 trillion every three months. Finally, the border surge continues unabated (except for a 74% decrease in Texas where they are putting up actual walls and barbed wire). And how about that Ukraine situation?  The one which is quickly escalating into wider conflict?  My readers know my predictions on this but think about it from Trump’s perspective:  Biden is leaving behind all the volatile elements of a world war in the making.  Trump will be inheriting a cauldron of nitroglycerine. What happens when Biden walks away? All of that economic rigging disappears, and then the real data comes out while Trump is in office.  Maybe WWIII kicks off, too.  And guess who will be blamed?  The fingers will point at Trump, but they will also point at YOU. The agenda will be to put conservative and liberty movement principles on trial and paint them as ideals of calamity. Meritocracy, individualism, independence, personal liberty, responsibility and discipline, free markets, private property, everything that makes up the foundations of western civilization is going to be put on the pyre.  Giving Trump an easy win against a cognitive deficient like Biden (or any other weak candidate) might be a setup; letting conservatives gain a moment of power only to find they’re sitting on the throne of a crumbling castle. Am I saying don’t to vote for Trump? No. At the very least, the act of voting for Trump sends a message that the American people want what Trump is supposed to represent, and they reject what Biden is supposed to represent. The candidates are far less important than the ideals they are meant to embody.  What I’m saying is, this election might be extra weird for a reason – the fact that Trump is being elevated as the clear choice is suspicious. At the very least there will be organized leftist riots in major cities across the US.  As we witnessed in France, the political left has no intention of giving up power and they will do anything to keep it, including burn down the neighborhood.  More reserved liberals will join forces with the most extreme socialist activist groups in order to win at any cost.  Trump’s presence in the Oval Office would be the perfect trigger for an endless parade of DEI clowns and Antifa freaks creating as much pandemonium as possible. I’m not talking about the false left/right paradigm.  The false left/right paradigm is irrelevant when it comes to the root problem, which is the preponderance of patriot action or apathy.  If the American people in large numbers stood up tomorrow and all at once decided we were going to shut down the leftists, boot out the globalists and take the government back, we would succeed and there’s nothing anyone could do to stop us.  We’re the largest armed population in the world and by extension the largest army in the world by far. It’s up to us, not Trump, to determine the course of our nation’s future.  And if he (or any other political leader) fails to live up to our standards, then at that point we’ll have to do the ugly thing that everyone knows is necessary but no one wants to be responsible for. Just remember that we’re going to be painted as bad guys, not freedom fighters, when we take that step. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 21:32
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[l] at 7/12/24 7:15pm
Public School Spending Increasing Faster Than Test Scores, Report Finds Authored by Aaron Gifford via The Epoch Times, New research indicates that U.S. public school spending has doubled since 2003, outpacing the rate of inflation and showing no clear correlation between more dollars per pupil and higher eighth-grade math and fourth-grade reading scores. The Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University released its latest findings last month. The report, titled “Will Academic Recovery Stall When the Federal Relief Funds Dry Up?”  also draws attention to the fiscal cliff many districts face in the year ahead as they weigh expenditures against desired achievement. School districts are required to earmark whatever is left of their post-COVID American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds by Sept. 30. The liquidation deadline is Dec. 31. ESSER, established in 2021, allocated $122 billion over three phases to help schools with learning recovery efforts. Most of the ESSER money was spent on labor—more teachers, classroom aids, counselors, reading coaches, tutors, subject area specialists, and administrators, but it was not applied to raise pay rates for existing teachers, Edunomics Lab Director Marguerite Roza told The Epoch Times on July 10. While one device (laptop or tablet) per child became an industry standard largely funded by federal money, equipment purchases did not make up a significant portion of expenditures, Ms. Roza said. She and her team of researchers interviewed school administrators and analyzed data at the federal and state levels dating back 20 years, including information from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which runs The Nation’s Report Card website. Many comparisons cited involved shorter time frames, and the findings were largely focused on the pandemic era. “The priorities and the value these investments brought varied by state,” Ms. Roza told The Epoch Times on July 10. “Some states were able to eke out more value.” At the national level, math scores declined sharply between 2013 and 2022, with 30 states reporting that students were more than half of a grade level behind before scores began rising slightly between 2022 and 2023, according to the report. For reading, the negative trend line began in 2017, with the average score in 30 states dropping below grade level in 2020 and continuing downward until last year, the report noted. Meanwhile, the national average per-pupil spending rate increased by 100 percent between 2003 and 2023 to $16,100 ($1,350 of the 2023 amount came from federal relief funds). Total inflation for the two decades was 67 percent, according to the report. The report also notes that U.S. schools now have more instructional staff than ever before, with that number increasing from 3,465,906 in 2005 to 3,842,000 this past academic year ending in the spring of 2024. By contrast, the number of K-12 public school students during the same period increased slightly, from 48,150,528 to 49,033,092. Ms. Roza stressed that results were varied at the state level. Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky reported reading/English Language Arts assessment scores averaging above grade levels during the 2022-2023 academic year, while average scores in California, Oregon, Washington State, Virginia, and South Dakota were below grade level. Mississippi’s overall per-pupil spending rate has been much lower than that of the schools it outperformed, but its ESSER aid per student, at about $1,600 compared to California’s estimated $1,300, is higher. The report also noted that the Golden State disproportionately spent more money on social-emotional learning, tutoring, and summer programs. “But,” Ms. Roza said, “within the states, some individual districts saw some real growth, and some saw lackluster growth. Compton (California) saw quite impressive scores.” For math assessments, all states surveyed reported average scores around or above grade level in the 2022-2023 school year, with Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi showing the most progress, with average scores approaching or exceeding half of the next grade level, according to the report. In the absenteeism measurements section, the report shows that attendance improved in most states between 2022 and 2023, highlighted by Hawaii and Michigan’s 7 percent increases. South Carolina reported a 5 percent decrease, and Louisiana reported a 4 percent decrease. “Is it possible to get improved outcomes without sizable funding increases? Yes. There are policy strategies that wouldn’t require new funds,” Ms. Roza said. “What really matters is implementation.” She said this research is a work in progress. The 2024 national and state reading and math assessment scores should be available by October, and final ESSER expenditure figures by school district and state should be available next month. The U.S. Department of Education notes that while learning recovery in the wake of the pandemic is the highest priority of ESSER, the program also aims to rebuild the educator workforce and help schools operate safely. With the ESSER program ending, many school districts must find other ways to cover those added labor costs, either by increasing the tax levy, making cuts in different areas of the budget, or obtaining more state aid. In the Guymon Public School District in the Oklahoma panhandle, about $7 million in ESSER funds were applied to replace the high school’s heating, cooling, ventilation, and air conditioning system, which was considered a facility safety issue. Superintendent Dixie Purdy said the district did not come to rely on aid for other programs and is financially sound heading into future school years. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 21:15
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[l] at 7/12/24 6:50pm
Democrats Prefer Harris As Potential Alternative Candidate In a survey run by YouGov, respondents who identified as Democrats or as Independents who were Democratic-leaning were divided over whether or not U.S. President Biden should step aside in the presidential elections, with 42 percent saying he should while 43 percent said he should not. At the same time, 64 percent said that the Democratic Party should support Biden rather than try to replace him, if he does choose to keep running. YouGov then asked which candidates respondents would approve of hypothetically. As Statista's Anna Felck shows in the following chart, Vice President Kamala Harris came out on top with 73 percent support. You will find more infographics at Statista Harris was also considered by supporters of the party as the person most likely to be able to hold onto the presidency. By contrast, Pete Buttigieg received 57 percent support, while Bernie Sanders received 52 percent, although he also saw the highest level of disapproval of the polled politicians at 34 percent. When asked to compare the attributes of Biden and Harris, a varied picture emerges. For example, far more respondents considered Harris to be mentally fit (56 percent to Harris, nine percent to Biden, 25 percent equally matched) and a better communicator (47 percent to Harris, 15 percent to Biden, 25 percent even), while Biden received higher scores on being qualified for the role (34 percent to Biden, 13 percent to Harris, 41 percent equal) and being a strong leader (31 percent to Biden, 16 percent to Harris, 34 percent to both). The most popular answer to this question on several of the character traits however was that they were equally matched. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 20:50
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[l] at 7/12/24 6:25pm
A Time Of Famine, And A Time Of War... Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com, The tremendous suffering that we are seeing all over the world right now is only just the beginning.  As I have documented repeatedly, we are in the midst of the worst global food crisis in modern history, and we haven’t seen this many countries engaged in military conflict since World War II.  In other words, this is a time of famine, and it is a time of war.  This represents a major problem for those that believe that humans are intrinsically good and that humanity is moving into a new golden era of peace and prosperity.  If humans are intrinsically good, why is there so much evil all around us?  Of course the truth is that the evil that we see all around is the product of the evil in human hearts.  Humanity is the reason why there is so much war, so much famine, so much greed, so much corruption, and so much suffering. While billionaires in the western world live the high life, vast hordes of people on the other side of the planet are literally starving to death. In Sudan, right now more than 25 million people “are facing high levels of acute food insecurity”… In addition to the threat of violence, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification reported that 25.6 million people in Sudan are facing high levels of acute food insecurity, and 8.5 million people are facing emergency food shortages. The IPC also warned about the risk of famine across 14 areas, impacting residents and refugees in areas like Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan. There have been some nightmarish famines in Sudan before, but this is the worst. The CEO of World Vision, Edgar Sandoval, says that people in Sudan are literally fighting over anthills because it is the only source of food available in some cases… Sandoval also met another mother and her son, who weighed only 26 pounds. He said his heart broke as the mother wept, telling Sandoval that people in her community are fighting each other over anthills because they’re so hungry. She said they’ll eat the millets stored there by the ants. “And they’re fighting for that as the only source of food,” Sandoval said. “I think that speaks to the level of desperation that the Sudanese people are facing. It’s the situation that children and moms in particular are facing.” Can you imagine what it would be like to be that hungry? And can you imagine what it would be like to watch your own children beg for food? It is being reported that 730,000 children in Sudan are at “imminent risk of dying”… In June, the United Nations Children’s Fund announced that nearly 9 million children in Sudan face acute food insecurity and access to safe drinking water. More than 3,800 children have been killed since the fighting escalated in April 2023, and almost 4 million children under the age of 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition, with 730,000 projected to be at an “imminent risk of dying.” When I try to explain what is happening in Sudan to clueless people here in the western world, they look at me like I am from outer space. Many of them have never heard about the hordes of people starving on the other side of the planet because the mainstream media is absolutely obsessed with talking about Donald Trump and Joe Biden. But this is really happening. As I discussed in a previous article, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is warning that over 2.5 million people could starve to death in Darfur and Kordofan alone by the end of September… The Ethiopian famine killed a million people between 1983 and 1985, according to UN estimates. Thomas-Greenfield said that in a worst-case scenario, a famine in Sudan could become even more lethal. “We’ve seen mortality projections estimating that in excess of 2.5 million people, about 15% of the population in Darfur and Kordofan – the hardest hit regions – could die by the end of September,” the ambassador said. “This is the largest humanitarian crisis on the face of the planet. And yet, somehow, it threatens to get worse,” she added. Meanwhile, military conflicts all over the world just continue to intensify. The Russians continue to gain ground in several areas of eastern Ukraine, and this is making a number of Ukraine’s neighbors very nervous. In fact, the head of the Polish military just stated that his forces need to prepare for “full-scale conflict”… Poland needs to prepare its soldiers for all-out conflict, its armed forces chief of staff said on Wednesday, as the country boosts the number of troops on its border with Russia and Belarus. Poland’s relations with Russia and its ally Belarus have deteriorated sharply since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, starting a war that is still being fought. “Today, we need to prepare our forces for full-scale conflict, not an asymmetric-type conflict,” army chief of staff General Wieslaw Kukula told a press conference. Of course Poland is a member of NATO, and so if Poland ends up fighting Russia we will be fighting Russia too. This week, Chinese forces are engaged in very alarming military exercises that are taking place just miles from the Polish border… Belarus and China kicked off 11-day joint military training exercises Monday, Belarus’ defense ministry said – with activities taking place just miles from the border of Poland, a NATO and European Union member. The joint anti-terrorist training “Attacking Falcon” exercises in Belarus would see military personnel from both countries “act together” as one unit in certain stages, Maj. Gen. Vadim Denisenko of the Belarusian military said in a Telegram post. I think that Chinese forces are there to ward off a potential invasion of Belarus. Ukraine has been building up large numbers of troops and vast quantities of equipment near the border with Belarus for quite some time, and there had been fears that Ukraine may try to do something really stupid.  In fact, officials in Belarus were so concerned that they were publicly warning that they would use tactical nuclear weapons if they were invaded. Meanwhile, NATO has started delivering F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine… NATO allies on Wednesday announced they had started transferring F-16 jets to Ukraine and stepped up promises to Kyiv on eventual membership in the alliance at a 75th anniversary summit clouded by political uncertainties in the United States. In response, Russia has been bombing the daylights out of the airfields where those F-16 fighter jets were supposed to be based. I really wish that leaders on both sides would sit down and try to find a peaceful way out of this mess. But that isn’t going to happen. In the Middle East, western powers are desperately trying to avert a full-blown war between Israel and Hezbollah… Israel and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant group have been exchanging near-daily fire along the Israel-Lebanon border since Oct. 8. The US and France are attempting to broker a diplomatic solution that would end the fighting. Should those negotiations fail, Israeli officials anticipate a full-blown war with the Iran-backed militia. Sadly, I am entirely convinced that such a full-blown war could be just months away. This war in the Middle East is still only in the early stages, and the utter carnage that we will eventually witness will shock the entire world. We really are living in a time of “wars and rumors of wars”, and famines will intensify as global conflict spreads. So no, a new golden era of peace and prosperity is not on the way. Instead, our future will be filled with war, famine and a tremendous amount of pain. *  *  * Michael’s new book entitled “Chaos” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com, and you can subscribe to his Substack newsletter at michaeltsnyder.substack.com. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 20:25
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[l] at 7/12/24 6:00pm
IRS Strikes Gold: $1 Billion Collected From Wealthy Tax Dodgers The Biden administration has collected $1 billion - a few days worth of Ukraine funding - from wealthy tax cheats, in what the Associated Press frames as a showcase of how the agency is making use of monies received from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The outlet suggests that the announcement is part of a public push to raise awareness that a Republican takeover of the White House or Congress could mean future budget cuts for the IRS - which last year launched a series of initiatives aimed at pursuing high-wealth individuals who have shirked their tax obligations. According to the agency, the campaign is focused on taxpayers with over $1 million in income and over $250,000 in recognized tax debt. "President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is increasing tax fairness and ensuring that all wealthy taxpayers pay the taxes they owe, just like working families do," said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a statement. Among the initiatives are measures to halt “partnership basis shifting,” potentially raising $50 billion over the next decade, and targeting improper deductions on personal flights via corporate jets. Eugene Steuerle from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center emphasized the positive impact of these efforts, suggesting increased public support for the IRS if they "can show they’re having a positive impact and it’s not impacting average American taxpayers, there would be more public support for this activity and the agency." That said, Republicans are not backing down from threats to make deep cuts to the IRS. House Republicans built a $1.4 billion reduction to the IRS into the debt ceiling and budget cuts package passed by Congress in the summer of 2023. The deal included a separate agreement to take $20 billion from the IRS over the next two years and divert that money to other non-defense programs. House Republicans’ fiscal year 2025 proposal out of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee in June proposes further cuts to the IRS in 2025, and would cut funding to the Direct File program that is being expanded to allow Americans to file their taxes directly with the IRS. -AP All of that said- according to Demian Brady, VP of research for the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, says that the IRS is still targeting non-high net worth partnerships for audits.  "It should also be noted that nearly two-thirds of audits initiated in 2023 were on those making less than $200,000." Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 20:00
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[l] at 7/12/24 5:40pm
White House Seeks To Clarify Its Clarification Of Biden's Health Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com, The above headline would be a great title for the Babylon Bee except for one thing. It’s true. President Biden arrived at the NATO summit in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. JACQUELYN MARTIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS via the Wall Street Journal Revisions and More Revisions The Wall Street Journal comments on The Tight-Lipped Approach to Biden’s Health Disclosures An opaque picture of President Biden’s health has emerged since his disastrous debate performance as a result of shifting accounts of his medical care by the White House and the president’s own refusal to undergo more testing. Since the debate, where Biden at times struggled to complete his thoughts and often appeared to freeze with his mouth agape, the White House has rejected calls for greater transparency about the 81-year-old president’s health. On at least three occasions since the debate, the White House has had to correct or clarify official statements about Biden’s medical treatment. Most recently, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said a January visit by neurologist Kevin Cannard to the White House had been for the president’s annual physical, after telling reporters earlier in the day that the visit wasn’t related to Biden’s care. On Tuesday, the White House said that the neurologist, Kevin Cannard, had examined the president as part of his annual physical on Jan. 17, the same day that Biden’s performance in a meeting to secure Ukraine funding raised concerns among some lawmakers about the president’s acuity. During the meeting that day, Biden moved slowly, spoke softly and read from notes, deferring frequently to other lawmakers and staffers, some people who attended the meeting said. Cannard’s appointment was scheduled five days in advance, visitor logs show. The White House said there was no connection between the meeting and the exam. New answers On Tuesday, the White House corrected a previous statement on the Jan. 17 visit by Cannard, the neurologist, to the White House. In a briefing that afternoon, Jean-Pierre told reporters that the Jan. 17 visit by Cannard wasn’t related to care for the president. Later that day, Jean-Pierre contacted the Associated Press, whose reporter had asked about the visit, to say that the visit was in fact for the president’s physical, one of three times she said Cannard had seen Biden for a physical. Later that day, the White House released a letter from O’Connor in which he confirmed that Cannard had examined Biden for his annual physicals and said the president hadn’t seen a neurologist outside of those examinations. Even that letter left some questions unanswered about why Cannard had visited the White House residence clinic—intended for the first family and senior-most staff as determined by the Defense Department—eight times if he had only examined the president three times. Bates said Thursday that Cannard only went to the residence clinic once, even though visitor logs show he signed in there on eight separate days. George Stephanopoulos Interview Let’s review some pertinent parts of the Stephanopoulos Biden Interview as noted in my post “It’s a Biden Question” a Musical Tribute to the Stephanopoulos Interview Stephanopoulos: I know you said you have an ongoing assessment. Have you had a full neurological and cognitive evaluation? Biden: I’ve had– I get a full neurological test everyday with me. And I’ve had a full physical. I had, you know, I mean, I– I’ve been at Walter Reed for my physicals. I mean–uhm yes, the answer. Stephanopoulos: I– I know your doctor said he consulted with a neurologist. I– I guess I’m asking– a slightly different question. Have you had the specific cognitive tests, and have you had a neurologist, a specialist, do an examination? Biden: No. No one said I had to. No one said. They said I’m good. Stephanopoulos: Would you be willing to undergo an independent medical evaluation that included neurological and cognit– cognitive tests and release the results to the American people? Biden: Look. I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test. Everything I do. You know, not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world. Not– and that’s not hi– sounds like hyperbole, but we are the essential nation of the world. Stephanopoulos: … the American people have been watching, yet their concerns about your age and your health are growing. So that’s why I’m asking — to reassure them, would you be willing to have the independent medical evaluation? Biden: Watch me between– there’s a lotta time left in this campaign. There’s over 125 days. [Yes, we watched you repeatedly duck very pointed tough questions] Stephanopoulos: So the answer– Biden: They’ll make a decision. Stephanopoulos: Right—the answer right now is, no, you– you don’t want to do that right now. Biden: Well, I’ve already done it. The Price of Lying and Cover-Ups The above transcript is of someone who is either delusional or a liar or both. It’s not recent either. It’s been ongoing for four years. The coverups have finally taken a toll. People now see the truth: They’ve been lied to for years by the president and a Press willing to lie for him. WSJ comments on Biden’s Frailty and the Political Price of Insincerity How did they let it get this far? How did Democratic power brokers and progressive media personalities—groups not known for their indifference to winning elections—wait until July 2024 to urge President Biden not to run for re-election? Any mildly observant person could see four years ago that Mr. Biden had declined further than a commander in chief should. These pages noted Mr. Biden’s diminished state during and after his 2020 campaign. In the 2012 debate with Paul Ryan, the editorial board remarked on Nov. 19, 2020, Mr. Biden “was aggressive and confident. In 2020, in the rare times he speaks off the cuff without a teleprompter, he looks more tentative, as if grasping for an argument or words that he knows are around here somewhere.” Democrats disregarded this and 10,000 similar observations because they took them to be insincere, and the political left has become so accustomed to insincerity as not to recognize its opposite. On the left—particularly in the New York Times and other elite outlets—substantive complaints are routinely presented as procedural or ethical ones. Rather than make a straightforward argument that a person or policy is wrong on the merits, elected Democrats, following the media’s lead, typically raise technical or otherwise secondary objections they plainly don’t care about. Having convinced themselves that the president’s infirmity was a right-wing invention, Democrats find themselves in the unenviable position of having to acknowledge the truth of what their opponents have been saying for years. The whole mess might have been avoided if Democrats had credited their critics with sincerity. The Lie Is Disclosed One cannot put a disclosed lie back in the bottle. The press has been forced to admit Biden’s This lie, and now they are in a race to protect their own reputations. As a result, the Left-wing media is now in competition to unsweep the dirt it swept under the rug out of fear of losing more readership. Unprecedented Setup Biden now has to deal with an openly hostile press. This is an unprecedented setup for Democrats in general and Biden specifically. There are two things I am sure of: 1) More clarifications will be needed. And 2) The press will be hostile until Biden drops out. When is that? Is Biden Bluffing or Do Democrats Have a Defendable Strategy? I discussed the possibility of a Biden bluff (Nate Silver’s theory), and a purposeful timeline strategy (my theory), in Is Biden Bluffing or Do Democrats Have a Defendable Strategy? If Biden does not drop out before or during the live convention, my theory will be proven false. There is no way other than direct admission to prove either theory correct. However, if Biden drops out on the schedule I propose, or during the live convention, it is strong evidence my theory is the correct one. I have specific timelines for two events. See above post for details. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 19:40
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[l] at 7/12/24 5:20pm
China Unveils Military Drills With Russia, Accuses 'Hegemon' US Of Seeking To 'Control' Asia-Pacific China unveiled Friday that it has been conducting major joint naval drills with Russia along its southern coast, during the same week that NATO leaders met in Washington D.C. The drills have apparently already been underway for a while, since "early July" - according to a Chinese military statement, and have been dubbed Joint Sea-2024. They are slated to continue for several more days into mid-July. Illustrative image via Xinhua The defense ministry identified that the drills, which include an aerial component, are centered near the southern city of Zhanjiang, and aim "to demonstrate the resolve and capabilities of the two sides in jointly addressing maritime security threats and preserving global and regional peace and stability." The exercises "will further deepen China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era," the ministry continued. China and Russia are without doubt signaling the West that their relations and cooperation on the levels of defense, industry, and technology will remain ironclad.  Leaders of NATO this week issued a communique which among other things declared that Beijing "cannot enable the largest war in Europe in recent history" without facing repercussions. China has remained officially neutral on Ukraine, but has still faced US sanctions for supplying Russia with industrial parts and goods which are vital to Russia's defense manufacturing sector. One analyst was cited in The New York Times as pointing out that the NATO statement was especially strong and full-throated:  “It’s a very rare move for NATO to openly accuse China, saying Beijing is massively supporting Russia’s defense industrial base,” said Liou Shiau-shyang, an expert on China and Russia at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a government-funded research group in Taiwan. “Clearly, the United States has won over some skeptics who did not see China as a key player in the Russia-Ukraine war.” Meanwhile China has responded in part through a series of English language op-eds in state-run Global Times, with themes of NATO constantly "hyping" the China threat. For example, one Tuesday article in the publication charged that Washington is using NATO to expand its hegemony into southeast Asia: NATO, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary but should have been ditched into the trash bin of history long ago, is now weak internally and facing numerous challenges. The uncertainty concerning the French parliamentary elections, the US upcoming presidential elections, and the increase in European defense spending have raised concerns. NATO is no longer a united organization on many issues. This already loose alliance, under the leadership of the US, is now hoping to build unity by spreading the rumor that "China is threatening regional security."  In fact, the US is not only aiming to contain China through NATO, but to control the entire Asia-Pacific region. In order to achieve this goal, NATO is trying to woo regional countries in many ways, constantly creating and exaggerating security crisis in the Asia-Pacific.  The fact has remained that the more that Moscow and Beijing find themselves in US crosshairs and under Western pressure, the closer they become, despite having been historic rivals throughout much of the prior hundred years. Biden did not have an answer to this when asked Thursday about this policy backfiring on this front. On this foreign policy master point: One reporter basically said to Biden, look, two years ago, we asked if your sanctions policy was merely going to bring Russia and China much closer together rather than accomplish its goals. You assured us it wouldn’t. You were totally wrong.… https://t.co/gYIaE0vkKN — Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) July 12, 2024 It was only in early 2022, very soon before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that Presidents Xi and Putin declared their countries’ partnership to have "no limits". Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 19:20
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[l] at 7/12/24 5:00pm
Will Debt Sink The American Empire? Authored by Peter St. Onge via Money Metals, "Will Debt Sink the American Empire?" So asks the Wall Street Journal, in an uncharacteristically gloomy article for the bull market's paper of record. They kick off with the problem: America is "cruising" into an uncharted sea of federal debt, with a government seemingly incapable of turning it around. In other words, the uniparty has set its course, and there's no cavalry coming. The Runaway Train of Deficits We're currently adding a fresh trillion of debt every hundred days, on our way to $35 trillion. Meanwhile, the deficit is about to break $2 trillion – for perspective, all federal revenue under George W Bush averaged around $2 trillion. Debt interest *alone is set to cross $1 trillion, eclipsing even our bloated military budget that beaches quarter-billion dollar piers in Gaza for sport. The next milestone after that is Medicare spending, which together with Social Security has its own $78 trillion unfunded liability, according to its own Board of Trustees – outside estimates are higher. Governments Are Rabid by Nature Now, none of this is shocking: governments by nature try to spend too much – indeed, much of economic history is made up of governments desperately trying to finance their mountains of debt. Debt brought down Rome, first with hyperinflation then with a gutted military that barbarians walked right over. It brought down Spain, as New World gold finances an effective government takeover of the private sector. And France, bankrupted by financing foreign wars – in this case, the American Revolution. The Qing collapsed under debt and even Great Britain who owned half the earth for nearly a hundred years. It's why we got the Magna Carta – indeed, Constitutions – as kings pleaded for more money. It's how we got central banks, as first Britain then the rest of the world licensed money printers in exchange for debt finance. To this day government debt crashes countries – countries from Turkey to Venezuela to Nigeria are currently undergoing debt crises, with Argentina desperately trying to pull out of one. How Does It End? And, with so many historical cases, we know exactly how this ends: investors stop buying government debt, shutting out governments and leading to massive austerity and soaring inflation as the government retrenches. Going by history, the government will cancel the trillions it promised — starting with Social Security and Medicare — then pull back to where it can pay the Praetorian Guard and not much else. In short, once debt hits the magic line, Washington goes from Sugar Daddy to wild animal. And, historically, it happens much faster than people imagine — in Hemingway’s famous phrase, countries go bankrupt gradually then all at once. There Is a Ray of Hope Washington’s spending freight train can be stopped – in fact, we did stop it in the '90s under Clinton and Gingrich: From 1997 to 2000 we ran budget surpluses totaling nearly $600 billion. The key was gridlock – two parties that despised each other so much that the only thing they could agree on was to sabotage each other’s plans. Unfortunately, whether it was corporate donors or golden parachutes for politicians, both parties have long since folded and are now eager to cooperate so long as they both get everything they want. So Democrats feed their activist army at taxpayer expense, while Republicans instead give ammo to Ukraine. This all means there is a ray of fiscal hope. If, say, President Trump were to face a democrat Congress that hates him so much it blocks everything he does – not an impossible thing to imagine. Or, if you swing that way, a President Biden – or Harris – is subjected to similar antipathy from a GOP Congress. Or, dare we dream, a GOP that actually stands up on the debt ceiling, damn the media torpedos or wait a couple of years and it's a crisis in the entire country. We know which one Washington will pick. But it's ultimately the voters who run the joint. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 19:00
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[l] at 7/12/24 4:40pm
What Snapped? US Ground Beef Retail Prices Jump Most Since Covid Meatpacking Crisis The latest data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that monthly retail ground beef prices just recorded their most significant increase since early 2020, a period in time when major meat processing companies were shuttering plants nationwide. Prices of retail ground beef per pound jumped to new highs in June, with data going back to 2008. This is more bad news for the middle class, which is under severe financial pressure with elevated inflation and high interest rates, resulting in a pullback in consumer spending ahead of the presidential elections this fall.  Let's start with the 6.294% rise in June's retail ground beef prices, marking the largest monthly increase since the 10% spike in May 2020. Back then, the theme was that the closure of packaging plants would crimp production. Now, it's the summer grilling season as US cattle inventory plunges to the smallest size in 73 years.  The average supermarket price for ground beef jumped .324 cents in June to a new record high of $5.472. USDA data goes back to 2008.  Under President Biden's first term, the percentage change of ground beef per pound has jumped a whopping 38%! Readers have been well informed about 'beeflation' and why it's happening:  Dwindling US Cattle Herd Implies Supermarket Beef Prices May Rise Even More Hamburger Prices Might Continue To Rise As US Cattle Herd Shrinks US Cattle Prices Hit Nine-Year High As National Herd Drops To Half-Century Low US Beef Prices Hit Record High As Nation's Cattle Herd Expected To Shrink Through 2025 Tyson Foods CEO Unsure When Nation's Collapsing Beef Herd Will Reverse Rancher: Record High Beef Prices May Be 'New Norm' Soaring beef prices comes at a time when the middle class is suffering in the era of failed Bidenomics. We have cited a number of reports from corporate America and top Wall Street analysts who are warning about a consumer slowdown: Goldman Tells Top Clients To Start "Shorting The Middle-Income Consumer" Goldman's Commentary On Consumer Health Is An Ominous One "Did Something Change?": Goldman Trading Desk Warns Hedge Funds Are Suddenly Dumping Consumer Stocks Pepsi Warns US Snack Demand "Subdued" As Consumer Slowdown Worsens Consumer Slowdown Spreads: Helen Of Troy Shares Crash After Big Earnings Miss, EPS Outlook Cut If the US had a 'strategic beef reserve, ' now would be the time to dump beef into the market. Otherwise, consumers should brace for even higher prices, with the US herd size unlikely to increase anytime soon. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/12/2024 - 18:40

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