Saturday, May 4, 2024

Jeremiah Babe, "You're Running Out Of Time And Money; Taxing You Into Poverty And Stealing Your Wealth"

Jeremiah Babe, 5/4/24
"You're Running Out Of Time And Money; 
Taxing You Into Poverty And Stealing Your Wealth"
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A Fun Musical Interlude: Willie Nelson, "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly" (Fond Of Each Other)

Full screen very blurry.
Willie Nelson, 
"Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly" (Fond Of Each Other)
Willie had a good laugh when he released this, right before
 a concert tour of... west Texas. Some were not amused! LOL

Musical Interlude: "Space Ambient Music, Pure Cosmic Relaxation, Mind Relaxation"

Full screen recommended.
"Space Ambient Music, 
Pure Cosmic Relaxation, Mind Relaxation"
Relaxation Ambient Music presents prefect Space Ambient Music. It was made for dreamers, also for persons which like to meditate, to imagine deep space with its nebulas and exoplanets. Fly between galaxies, nebulas and planets with our relaxing ambient space music. This music video will help you relax your mind, stop thinking and have a rest."

"A Look to the Heavens:

“Large galaxies grow by eating small ones. Even our own galaxy practices galactic cannibalism, absorbing small galaxies that get too close and are captured by the Milky Way's gravity. In fact, the practice is common in the universe and illustrated by this striking pair of interacting galaxies from the banks of the southern constellation Eridanus, The River.
Located over 50 million light years away, the large, distorted spiral NGC 1532 is seen locked in a gravitational struggle with dwarf galaxy NGC 1531 (right of center), a struggle the smaller galaxy will eventually lose. Seen edge-on, spiral NGC 1532 spans about 100,000 light-years. Nicely detailed in this sharp image, the NGC 1532/1531 pair is thought to be similar to the well-studied system of face-on spiral and small companion known as M51.”

The Poet: David Whyte, “Sometimes"

“Sometimes": Poet and Philosopher David Whyte’s
Stunning Meditation on Walking into the Questions of Our Becoming”
by Maria Popova

“The role of the artist, James Baldwin believed, is “to make you realize the doom and glory of knowing who you are and what you are.” This, too, is the role of the forest, it occurs to me as I walk the ferned, mossed woods daily to lose my self and find myself between the trees; to “live the questions,” in Rilke’s lovely phrase – to let the rustling of the leaves beckon forth the stirrings and murmurings on the edge of the psyche, which we so often brush away in order to go on being the smaller version of ourselves we have grown accustomed to being out of the unfaced fear that the grandeur of life, the grandeur of our own untrammeled nature, might require of us more than we are ready to give.

Those disquieting, transformative stirrings are what the poet and philosopher David Whyte explores with surefooted subtlety in his poem “Sometimes,” found in his altogether life-enlarging collection “Everything Is Waiting for You” and read here by the poet himself as part of a wonderful short course of poem-driven practices for neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris’s “Waking Up” meditation toolkit (which I can’t recommend enough and which operates under an inspired, honorable model of granting free subscriptions to those who need this invaluable mental health aid but don’t have the means).
“Sometimes”

“Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest,
breathing
like the ones
in the old stories,
who could cross
a shimmering bed of leaves
without a sound,
you come to a place
whose only task
is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests,
conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.
Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and
to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,
questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,
questions
that have patiently
waited for you,
questions
that have no right
to go away.”

- David Whyte

Chet Raymo, "In the Cave"

"In the Cave"
by Chet Raymo

"I have mentioned here before the ospreys that patrol our beach - or "fish hawks," as they call them here - generally in the afternoon at about the time I take my long walk to the palm point. Magnificent birds with broad wings that glide seemingly effortlessly on the wind. And here's the thing: As often as not I am startled by a bird's shadow before I see the bird itself. That wide-winged shadow, sweeping across the white sand, sometimes across me. That flicker of chill as the osprey blocks the sun.

And generally when it happens I think of Plato's allegory of the cave. Prisoners in a cave are constrained to look only at a blank wall. Somewhere behind them there is a fire, and people come and go in front of the fire, casting shadows on the wall. The shadows are the only reality the prisoners know. They have no idea of the flesh-and-blood people behind them or the blazing fire. The prisoners know only what presents itself to their senses.

Forget for the moment Plato's point, which has to do with the duty of the philosopher to enlighten the benighted. There is a humbling moral to the story for all of us: We can only know what our senses - directly or indirectly - can perceive.

Who, a century ago, could have imagined the universe of the galaxies, or the marvelous dance of the DNA in every cell of our bodies? By cleverly extending our senses - limited as they are - with technological enhancements a whole new universe has opened up to us. Who can imagine what we might know a century from now? Plato's "real" world is like a shadow compared to the universe we inhabit today. Our own universe may be a shadow of a reality vastly more wonderful than anything we have so far dreamed.

Never mind. We live in the world we have. Even the osprey's shadow is magnificent in its own way. I am privileged to lift my eyes and see the feathered bird. And I have an intuition that there is more - much more - yet to see.”

"Does A 1904 Geopolitical Theory Explain The War In Ukraine?"

"Does A 1904 Geopolitical Theory Explain The War In Ukraine?"
by John Wilder

"When I look at the war in Ukraine and other world events, I see evidence of Sir Halford John Mackinder. It would have been cool if he was the frontman for a 1910s version of Judas Priest, but no. Mackinder was a guy who thought long and hard about mountains, deserts, oceans, steppes, and wars. You could tell Mackinder was going to be good at geography, what with that latitude. The result of all this pondering was what he called the Heartland Theory, which was the founding moment for geopolitics.

What’s geopolitics? It’s the idea that one of the biggest influencers in human history (besides being human) was the geography we inhabit. Mackinder’s first version wasn’t very helpful, since he just ended up with “Indonesia” and the rest of the world, which he called “Outdonesia”.

Mackinder focused mainly on the Eurasian continent. Flat land with no obstacles meant, in Mackinder’s mind, that the land would be eventually ruled by a single power. Jungles and swamps could be a barrier, but eventually he thought that technology would solve that. Mountains? Mountains were obstacles that stopped invasions, and allowed cultures to develop independently. Even better than a mountain? An island.

There’s even a theory (not Mackinder’s) that the independent focus on freedom flourished in England because the local farmers weren’t (after the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Mormons, and Vikings were done pillaging) subject to invasion and were able to develop a culture based on a government with limited powers, along with rights invested in every man.

Mackinder went further, though. He saw the combination of Eurasia and Africa as something he called the World Island. If the World Island came under the domination of a single power, he thought, it would eventually rule the rest of the world – it would have overwhelming resources and population, and it would have the ability to outproduce (both economically and militarily) everything else. “Pivot Area” is what Mackinder first called the Heartland.

Mackinder, being English, had seen the Great Game in the 1900s, which in many cases was a fight to keep Russia landlocked. The rest of Europe feared a Russia that had access to the sea. Conversely, Russia itself was the Heartland of the Mackinder’s World Island. Russia was separated and protected on most of its borders by mountains and deserts. On the north, Russia was protected by the Arctic Ocean, which is generally more inaccessible than most of Joe Biden’s recent memories.

Russia is still essentially landlocked. The Soviet Navy had some nice submarines, but outside of that, the Russians have never been a naval power, and the times Russia attempted to make a navy have been so tragically inept that well, let me give an example: The sea Battle of Tsushima between the Japanese and Russians in 1905 was a Japanese victory. The Japanese lost 117 dead, 583 wounded, and lost 3 torpedo boats. The Russians? They lost 5,045 dead, 803 injured, 6,016 captured, 6 battleships sunk, 2 battleships captured. The Russians sank 450 ton of the Japanese Navy. The Japanese sunk 126,792 tons of the Russian fleet. Yup. This was more lopsided than a fight between a poodle and a porkchop.

Mackinder noted that the Heartland (Russia) was built on land power. The Rimlands (or, on the map “Inner Crescent”) were built on sea power. In the end, almost all of the twentieth century was built on keeping Russia away from the ocean, and fighting over Eastern Europe. Why? In Mackinder’s mind, “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland (Russia); Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World.” In one sense, it’s true.

Mackinder finally in 1943 came up with another idea, his first idea being lonely. I think he could see the way World War II was going to end, so he came up with the idea that if the United States were to team up with Western Europe, they could still command the Rimlands and contain the Soviet Union to the Heartland.

There are several reasons that the United States has responded with such an amazing amount of aid to Ukraine. The idea is to bleed Putin as deeply and completely as they can. Why? If they’re following Mackinder, this keeps Russia vulnerable. It keeps Eastern Europe from being under Russia’s control – if you count the number of “Battles of Kiev” or “Battles of Kharkov” you can see that it’s statistically more likely to rain artillery in Kiev than rain water.

This might be the major driver for Russia, too. A Russian-aligned (or at least neutral) Ukraine nicely plugs the Russian southern flank. And this is nearly the last year that Russia can make this attempt – the younger generation isn’t very big, and the older generation that built and can run all of the cool Soviet tech? They’re dying off. Soon all their engineers with relevant weapons manufacturing experience will be...dead. If Russia is going to attempt to secure the south, this is their only shot. Depending on how vulnerable the Russians think they are, the harder they’ll fight. NATO nations tossing in weapons isn’t helping the famous Russian paranoia.

I think that the United States, in getting cozy with China in the 1970s, was following along with Mackinder’s theory – I believe Mackinder himself said that a Chinese-Russian alliance could effectively control the Heartland and split the Rimland, given China’s access to the oceans. And that’s what China is doing now, with the Belt and Road Initiative. Remember Mackinder’s World Island? Here’s a map of the countries participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative:
Spoiler alert: It’s the world island."
Full screen recommended.
"Halford Mackinder, Heartland Theory and Geographical Pivot 1"
by Geopoliticus

"In this presentation we discuss the theory for Geographic Causation in Universal History proposed by Sir Halford Mackinder in his paper - "The Geographic Pivot of History" delivered as a lecture in 1904. The theoretical propositions in the paper regarding how natural geography controls the flow of history of civilizations - with nature acting as a stage for man to act upon - was the most relevant contribution of Halford Mackinder towards developing a philosophic synthesis between geography, history and statesmanship, leading to the development of modern geopolitics.

In this part we see how he proposes the beginning of a new era in the international system from the 1900s, predicts (in a way) the break out of the First World War, and builds a unified model based on Geo-history for understanding the emergence and evolution of European civilization."
Full screen recommended.
"Halford Mackinder, Heartland Theory and Geographical Pivot 2"
by Geopoliticus

"In this presentation we view Mackinder’s historical analysts by looking at the interactions between different Geographic zones, seeing how the Mongols used land power to unify the core of the World Island and how Europeans circumvented nomadic heartland power by investing in sea power. The core idea of Halford Mackinder’s Thesis was that in the beginning of the 20th century, geographers needed to develop a philosophical synthesis of geographical conditions and historical trajectories of nations over long ranges of time.

He attempted to do this for the history of Eurasia, which he called, the World Island. According to his theoretical model, there was a link between geographical conditions and the nature of geopolitical order, for one, but for further depth in understanding historical trajectories we need to do a wider scale analysis of interactions between different geographically influenced political orders by building a model of Heartland-Rimland interactions across history."
Freely download "The Geographical Pivot of History"
by HJ Mackinder, April 1904, here:
o
Why is this important? Consider history, from which we learn nothing...

"The earliest evidence of prehistoric warfare is a Mesolithic cemetery in Jebel Sahaba, which has been determined to be approximately 14,000 years old. About forty-five percent of the skeletons there displayed signs of violent death. Since the rise of the state some 5,000 years ago, military activity has occurred over much of the globe. The advent of gunpowder and the acceleration of technological advances led to modern warfare. According to Conway W. Henderson, "One source claims that 14,500 wars have taken place between 3500 BC and the late 20th century, costing 3.5 billion lives, leaving only 300 years of peace." An unfavorable review of this estimate  mentions the following regarding one of the proponents of this estimate: "In addition, perhaps feeling that the war casualties figure was improbably high, he changed 'approximately 3,640,000,000 human beings have been killed by war or the diseases produced by war' to 'approximately 1,240,000,000 human beings.'" 

The lower figure is more plausible, but could still be on the high side considering that the 100 deadliest acts of mass violence between 480 BC and 2002 AD (wars and other man-made disasters with at least 300,000 and up to 66 million victims) claimed about 455 million human lives in total. Primitive warfare is estimated to have accounted for 15.1% of deaths and claimed 400 million victims. Added to the aforementioned figure of 1,240 million between 3500 BC and the late 20th century, this would mean a total of 1,640,000,000 people killed by war (including deaths from famine and disease caused by war) throughout the history and pre-history of mankind. For comparison, an estimated 1,680,000,000 people died from infectious diseases in the 20th century."
"It would indeed be a tragedy if the history of the human 
race proved to be nothing more than the story of an 
ape playing with a box of matches on a petrol dump."
- David Ormsby-Gore

"The Trouble Is..."

 

"The Biggest Banking Crisis Of Our Lifetime Is Already Upon Us And It's Worse Than You Think"

Full screen recommended.
Epic Economist, 5/4/24
"The Biggest Banking Crisis Of Our Lifetime Is 
Already Upon Us And It's Worse Than You Think"

"A 10-billion-dollar bank was just shut down by U.S. regulators in the first big bank failure of 2024. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced the collapse of another major financial institution just a few days ago, the sixth of such kind over the last 12 months. The event has triggered fears of cascading bank failures, with economists warning about rising risks and mounting stress for almost 300 institutions. As economic uncertainty continues to weight on financial markets and add pressure on the commercial real estate sector, many banks that seem too big to fail are now facing unprecedented losses that could put them on a very destructive path, the experts say.

In the final days of April, Republic First Bank, a Pennsylvania-based financial institution has collapsed. Earlier this week, the FDIC issued a note saying it had stepped in to protect $6 billion in assets and $4 billion in customer deposits. The federal agency transferred the deposits to another regional bank after an agreement was reached.

Struggling under the regime of higher interest rates, Republic First Bancorp suffered painful losses due to its high exposure to the commercial real estate market. The bank's fourth quarter report cited "serious difficulties amid an elevated interest rate environment," with executives noting last year that the Fed's monetary policy to curb inflation "severely hurt" its commercial real estate portfolio.

The sector, which has been facing numerous challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic, accounted for nearly half of Republic Bank's loan book. The institution was also facing other significant problems, including low liquidity and battles with activist investors. In October 2023, Republic Bank managed to secure $35 million in funding from a group of investors led by George Norcross, but that plan fell apart in February.

Now, another regional lender has come forward to rescue the bank's assets. Fellow Pennsylvania-based bank Fulton Financial Corp has agreed to acquire all of Republic's assets and over $5.3 billion in liabilities. On Saturday, Republic Bank’s 32 branches in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York will reopen as branches of Fulton Bank, reports say.

The move represents the latest crack – and the latest bandage job – in the distressed regional-banking industry. The failure marked the first major bank collapse of this year, following five that occurred in 2023, as the Fed's rate hikes destabilized the balance sheets of big financial players. When Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapsed last spring, many economists warned that more could follow – and their predictions have been proven accurate. Signature Bank, First Republic Bank, Heartland Tri-State Bank, and Citizens Bank, all collapsed in the succeeding months, as a result of the financial instability caused by policymakers.
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The Daily "Near You?"

Minot, North Dakota, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"No Smooth Road..."

"Life has no smooth road for any of us; and in the bracing atmosphere
of a high aim the very roughness stimulates the climber to steadier steps,
till the legend, over steep ways to the stars, fulfills itself."
- W. C. Doane

"Decide..."

“We're all going to die. We don't get much say over how or when, but we do get to decide how we're gonna live. So, do it. Decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out and decide.”
- “Richard”, “Grey’s Anatomy”

“Life Lessons From a Psychiatrist Who’s Been Listening to People’s Problems For Decades”

“Life Lessons From a Psychiatrist Who’s Been
Listening to People’s Problems For Decades”
by Thomas Oppong

“How you approach life says a lot about who you are. As I get deeper into my late 30s I have learned to focus more on experiences that bring meaning and fulfilment to my life. I try to consistently pursue life goals that will make me and my closest relations happy; a trait that many individuals search for their entire lives. Nothing gives a person inner wholeness and peace like a distinct understanding of where they are going, how they can get there, and a sense of control over their actions.

Seneca once said, “Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.” “No people can be truly happy if they do not feel that they are choosing the course of their own life,” states the World Happiness Report 2012. The report also found that having this freedom of choice is one of the six factors that explain why some people are happier than others.

In his best-selling first book, “Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now”, Dr Gordon Livingston, a psychiatrist who’s been listening to people’s problems for decades, revealed thirty bedrock truths about life, and how best to live it. In his capacity as a psychiatrist, Dr Livingston listened to people talk about their lives and the many ways people induced unhappiness on themselves. In his book, he brings his insight and wisdom to the subjects of happiness, fear and courage.

“Life’s two most important questions are “Why?” and “Why not?” The trick is knowing which one to ask.” Acquiring some understanding of why we do things is often a prerequisite to change. This is especially true when talking about repetitive patterns of behavior that do not serve us well. This is what Socrates meant when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That more of us do not take his advice is testimony to the hard work and potential embarrassment that self-examination implies.”

Most people operate on autopilot, doing the same things today that didn’t work yesterday. They rarely stop to measure the impact of their actions on themselves and others, and how those actions affect their total well-being. They are caught in a cycle. And once you get caught in the loop, it can be difficult to break free and do something meaningful. Past behavior is the most reliable predictor of future behavior.

If your daily actions and choices are making you unhappy, make a deliberate choice to change direction. No matter how bleak or desperate a situation may appear to look, you always have a choice. “People often come to me asking for medication. They are tired of their sad mood, fatigue, and loss of interest in things that previously gave them pleasure. ”…“Their days are routine: unsatisfying jobs, few friends, lots of boredom. They feel cut off from the pleasures enjoyed by others.

Here is what I tell them: The good news is that we have effective treatments for the symptoms of depression; the bad news is that medication will not make you happy. Happiness is not simply the absence of despair. It is an affirmative state in which our lives have both meaning and pleasure.” “In general we get, not what we deserve, but what we expect,” he says.

Most people know what is good for them, they know what will make them feel better. They don’t avoid meaningful life habits because of ignorance of their value, but because they are no longer “motivated” to do them, Dr Livingston found. They are waiting until they feel better. Frequently, it’s a long wait, he says. Life is too short to wait for a great day to invest in better life experiences.

Most unhappiness is self-induced, Dr Livingston found. “The three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. Think about it. If we have useful work, sustaining relationships, and the promise of pleasure, it is hard to be unhappy. I use the term “work” to encompass any activity, paid or unpaid, that gives us a feeling of personal significance. If we have a compelling avocation that lends meaning to our lives, that is our work, ” says Dr Livingston.

Many experiences in life that bring happiness are in your control. The more choices you are able to exercise, and control, the happier you are likely to be. “Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life,” says Mandy Hale. Many people wait for something to happen or someone to help them live their best lives. They expect others to make them happy. They think they have lost the ability to improve their lives.

The thing that characterizes those who struggle emotionally is that they have lost, or believe they have lost, their ability to choose those behaviors that will make them happy, says Dr Livingston. You are responsible for your own life experiences, whether you are seeking a meaningful life or a happy life. If you expect others to make you happy, you will always be disappointed.

You can consistently choose actions that could become everyday habits. It takes time, but it’s an investment that will be worth your while. “Virtually all the happiness-producing processes in our lives take time, usually a long time: Learning new things, changing old behaviors, building new relationships, raising children. This is why patience and determination are among life’s primary virtues,”

Most people are stuck in life because of fear. Fear of everything outside their safe zones. Your mind has a way of rising to the occasion. Challenge it, and it will reward you. Your determination to overcome fear and discouragement constitutes the only effective antidote to that feeling on unhappiness you don’t want. Dr Livingston explains. “The most secure prisons are those we construct for ourselves. I frequently ask people who are risk-averse, “What is the biggest chance you have ever taken?” People begin to realize what “safe” lives they have chosen to lead.”

“Everything we are afraid to try, all our unfulfilled dreams, constitute a limitation on what we are and could become. Usually it is fear and its close cousin, anxiety, that keep us from doing those things that would make us happy. So much of our lives consists of broken promises to ourselves. The things we long to do — educate ourselves, become successful in our work, fall in love — are goals shared by all. Nor are the means to achieve these things obscure. And yet we often do not do what is necessary to become the people we want to be.”

As you increasingly install experiences of acceptance, gratitude, accomplishment, and feeling that there’s a fullness in your life rather than an emptiness or a scarcity, you will be able to deal with the issues of life better.

Closing thoughts: Dr Livingston’s words feel true and profound. The real secret to a happy life is selective attention, he says. If you choose to focus your awareness and energy on things and people that bring you pleasure and satisfaction, you have a very good chance of being happy in a world full of unhappiness, uncertainty, and fear."

"Regret..."

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time;
it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."
~ Sydney J. Harris

"Unreal Stat: One-Third of All U.S. Deaths Due to Prescription Drugs"

"Unreal Stat: One-Third of All
 U.S. Deaths Due to Prescription Drugs"
by Ben Bartee

"Is it possible? Even as jaded as I am on the biomedical industry, I must confess that I’ve never encountered the shocking figure offered below and, actually, would never have guessed at the true possible death toll levied on the American public by the pharmaceutical industry.

Via Epoch Times: “Overtreatment with drugs kills many people, and the death rate is increasing. It is therefore strange that we have allowed this long-lasting drug pandemic to continue*, and even more so because most of the drug deaths are easily preventable.

In 2013, I estimated that our prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer, and in 2015, that psychiatric drugs alone are also the third leading cause of death. However, in the United States, it is commonly stated that our drugs are ‘only’ the fourth leading cause of death. This estimate was derived from a 1998 meta-analysis of 39 U.S. studies where monitors recorded all adverse drug reactions that occurred while the patients were in hospital, or which were the reason for hospital admission.”

Acknowledging the apparently deep level Dr. G√łtzsche’s understanding of the institutional rot in private industry and government, I will take this feigned ignorance of why the murder-by-pharmaceutical agenda has been allowed to continue unopposed as sarcasm.


Of particular interest to me, personally, was the devastation wrought by the class of drugs called benzodiazepines which includes U.S. brand names like Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, etc.

American doctors (not doctors internationally, curiously) pass them out like candy for any kind of mental health disorder, along with SSRIs, yet fail to warn of the consequences of physical addiction and withdrawal, which are indescribably heinous and which I experienced firsthand.

Continuing: “In 2013, I estimated that, in people aged 65 and above, neuroleptics, benzodiazepines, or similar, and depression drugs kill 209,000 people annually in the United States. I used rather conservative estimates, however, and usage data from Denmark, which are far lower than those in the United States. I have therefore updated the analysis based on U.S. usage data…

For benzodiazepines and similar drugs, a matched cohort study showed that the drugs doubled the death rate, although the average age of the patients was only 55. The excess death rate was about 1 percent per year. In another large, matched cohort study, the appendix to the study report shows that hypnotics quadrupled the death rate (hazard ratio 4.5). These authors estimated that sleeping pills kill between 320,000 and 507,000 Americans every year. A reasonable estimate of the annual death rate would therefore be 2 percent.

For SSRIs, a UK cohort study of 60,746 depressed patients older than 65 showed that they led to falls and that the drugs kill 3.6 percent of patients treated for one year. The study was done very well, e.g. the patients were their own control in one of the analyses, which is a good way to remove the effect of confounders. But the death rate is surprisingly high.”
Christine's Ativan Benzo Induced Akathisia
Sadly, Christine lost her fight with Ativan withdrawal. Read her story here.


Citations and links to the referenced studies are available at the bottom of the Epoch Times article.

The criminality of the pharmaceutical industry and the complicit government is by no means limited to the COVID-19 shots. At this point it’s becoming clich√© to say, but we absolutely need Nuremburg-level military tribunals for all involved parties. But, first, we’d need a politic movement with the stomach and the heart and the teeth to take them on.

Ben Bartee, author of "Broken English Teacher: Notes From Exile," is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.

"How It Really Is"

 

God help you, kids...

"An Absolutely Enormous Economic Shift Of Historic Proportions Is Now Taking Place Right In Front Of Our Eyes"

"An Absolutely Enormous Economic Shift Of Historic
 Proportions Is Now Taking Place Right In Front Of Our Eyes"
by Michael Snyder

"Can you feel it too? Over the past few weeks, I have heard from so many readers that are deeply troubled about economic conditions where they live. In some cases, sales are way down. In other cases, it seems almost impossible to find a decent job. It is almost as if a tremendous chill descended upon the U.S. economy as the second quarter of 2024 began. Yes, economic conditions have certainly not been good for a few years, but it appears that an absolutely enormous economic shift of historic proportions is now taking place right in front of our eyes. Other than the early stages of the pandemic, we haven’t seen anything like this since 2008 and 2009.

Let me give you an example that will illustrate what I am talking about. A reader that lives near Seattle recently wrote me about the horrible downturn that she is witnessing in the tech industry, and she said that I could share this information with all of you… "I live in the tech corridor outside of Seattle and practically no one can find a job in tech. Apparently the costs of AI processors and servers are so expensive that large tech companies are laying off workers to accommodate for the increased infrastructure costs. I would estimate that 50 percent of the people I know in tech are unemployed including myself and my spouse. In addition they are laying off both FTEs and contractors and not backfilling the positions. The problem is exacerbated if you’re over 40 because they don’t want to compensate for experience. In fact experience seems to be working against people. Not to mention AI taking over roles like technical writing and marketing communications. 

It’s getting really bad out there and the large companies play along with the media. I’ve met with several ex colleagues who have had their entire teams laid off and former FTEs who have had to take major pay cuts as contractors. I’ve also heard of more rounds of layoffs coming up. I went over to Microsoft the other morning to have coffee with an ex colleague and it’s a ghost town. No one in conference rooms or offices. Maybe people are working from home but it sure felt very different."

That email resonated with me so strongly, because she is right. Vast hordes of tech workers have already been laid off, and more will be hitting the bricks soon. But the tech industry is supposed to be one of our economic bright spots. If things are this bad for the tech industry, what does this say about the economy as a whole?

Most of the jobs that are still available at this point pay very little. Jobs that actually pay enough to support a middle class lifestyle have been disappearing, and millions of white collar workers find themselves on the outside looking in. The following comes from a Business Insider article entitled “Welcome to the white-collar recession”…"Over the past year or so, pretty much everyone who’s looked for a job has told me the same thing: The job market is brutal right now. They’ve applied to dozens if not hundreds of openings, only to get one or two callbacks. No one’s hiring, they tell me. I’ve never seen it this bad."

Yes. I have heard the same things over and over again too. And it is getting worse with each passing day. On Wednesday, we learned about even more layoffs at Google…"Google fired approximately 200 employees and relocated some of the jobs overseas – the latest sign of a long-running effort by the Big Tech firm to cut costs and restructure itself.

The job cuts - announced internally on the eve of Google’s blowout first-quarter earnings report - targeted members of Google’s “core” team, which works on the “technical foundation behind the company’s flagship products” as well as the online safety of users and its global IT infrastructure, according to its website. At least 50 of the roles were based at Google’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. Google is expected to hire replacement workers for the roles in Mexico and India, CNBC reported, citing a review of internal documents."

Large companies all over America are looking to “trim the fat”, and that often means giving the axe to expensive older workers. There is very little loyalty in the corporate world today. You may have given 20 years of your life to a company, but the moment you become expendable they will dump you like a hot potato.

Millions of small businesses are really struggling right now too. During the month of April, 43 percent of all small business renters in the United States were not able to pay their rent in full. The last time we witnessed anything like this was during the lockdowns that were instituted during the early stages of the pandemic…"A significant number of small businesses across the nation are struggling to pay rent due to skyrocketing costs, a recent study by business networking platform Alignable found.

The company’s latest Small Business Rent report, published on Friday, found that 43 percent of small business renters in the U.S. were unable to pay their rent in full and on time in the month of April. Such a high delinquency rate hasn’t been reported in the U.S. since March 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it reached 49 percent. The delinquency rate was also four percentage points higher than in March, making it the largest month-over-month surge in over a year, according to data analyzed by Alignable."

We don’t have a disease to blame this time around. Sadly, conditions are only going to get tougher for small businesses in the months ahead as sales dry up. Meanwhile, the total number of retail stores in the U.S. closed so far in 2024 is up to nearly 2,600…"US retailers confirmed another 169 closures last week – bringing the total so far this year up to almost 2,600. Stores that announced the shuttering of locations included Express, Outfox Hospitality, Shop ‘n Save, Urban Outfitters and Walmart."

We are in the midst of another retail apocalypse. Why aren’t we hearing more about this? On top of everything else, Chicago PMI is dropping at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008…."After miraculously surging to two years highs in Nov 2023, Chicago PMI has plunged for five straight months, with the last four months seeing the MoM declines accelerating. Against expectations of a rise to 45.0 (from March’s 41.4), April’s PMI data printed 37.9"

That is the worst five-month collapse since Lehman…With everything that is going on, how in the world can anyone possibly claim that the economy “is in good shape”? Economic activity is slowing down, mass layoffs are happening all over the country, and the cost of living is absolutely crushing the middle class.

More people are falling out of the middle class every day, and at this point there are tens of millions of Americans that are either considered to be either living in poverty or among the ranks of the “working poor”…."Over time, higher costs and sluggish wage growth have left more Americans financially vulnerable, with many known as “ALICEs.”

Nearly 40 million families, or 29% of the population, fall in the category of ALICE - Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed - according to United Way’s United for ALICE program, which first coined the term to refer to households earning above the poverty line but less than what’s needed to get by. That figure doesn’t include the 37.9 million Americans who live in poverty, comprising 11.5% of the total population, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Collectively, the two categories discussed above now comprise more than 40 percent of the total population."

And if you think that things are bad now, just wait until you see the suffering that will happen during the tremendous chaos that is dead ahead of us. It took decades of very foolish decisions to get us here, and now we are at a historic tipping point. Our economy is literally breaking down right in front of our eyes, and the path before us is going to be filled with so much pain."

“Why Are We Gambling With America’s Future?”

“Why Are We Gambling With America’s Future?”
by Brian Maher

“Why are we gambling with America’s future?” This is the question of New York Times columnist David Brooks. More from whom: "America is expected to spend $870 billion, or 3.1 percent of gross domestic product, this year on interest payments on the federal debt. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the government will spend more on interest payments than on the entire defense budget. Within three years, if interest rates remain high, payments on the debt could become the federal government’s second-largest expenditure, behind Social Security…

Pretty soon, you’re staring at Ferguson’s Law. This is the principle enunciated by the historian Niall Ferguson that any nation that spends more on interest payments on the debt than on military spending will slip into decline. It happened to Hapsburg Spain, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire and prerevolutionary France. Will it happen to us?"

Yes - Mr. Brooks - it will happen to us. If it does not happen to us… it will not be because of prudence, forbearance or restraint. It will be because of serendipity. It will be because of luck. Perhaps even divine providence. As Germany’s iron chancellor Bismarck once noted: “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards and the United States of America.” We believe the old Prussian hooked onto something. As we have argued before…

The Luckiest Nation on Earth: God filled two oceans - one Atlantic, one Pacific - to moat the United States off from marauders. Against its land borders north and south He positioned two geopolitical bantamweights. He blessed it with vast tracts of wealthy, fertile land… an extended capillary system of internal waterways… natural harbors from which to send items out… and to take items in. What other nation has enjoyed such natural, God-granted riches?We struggle in vain to conceive of one. Cast your gaze around the world…

An England or a Japan may enjoy maritime insurance against invasion. Yet each is an island nation lacking critical resources. They depend heavily upon the import trade.

Germany inhabits the North European Plain. This plain is a defenseless and nearly infinite expanse stretching from the English Channel in the West clear through to Russia’s Ural Mountains in the East. The geography is a massively extended pancake. Its flatness affords Germany little natural defense. To her southwest lies formidable France. To her east snarls the menacing Russian bear. France - meantime - is eternally vulnerable to Germanic invasion. Look merely to 1870, 1914 and 1940.
Poor Russia

Next we come to Russia. Like Germany, Russia sits on the open North European Plain. This of course exposes her to western invasion. Messieurs Bonaparte and Hitler exploited fully this vulnerability - the former in 1812 - the latter in 1941. And to the east? Russia’s nearly infinite steppes stretch clear through to Mongolia. For what is Mongolia best known? Genghis Khan and the Golden Horde of marauding horsemen who terrorized Eurasia. Crossing these grassy seas, Mongol invaders besieged and conquered Russia. Thus Russia stands vulnerable to invasion from both east and west alike. History has demonstrated this fact to high effect. 

Is it any wonder then why Russia appears so paranoid of territorial transgression? Is it any wonder why Russia is so jealous of its influence over Ukraine - and why the prospect of Ukrainian absorption into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization freezes Russia’s blood? Meantime: Despite Russia’s vast bulk it is boxed in by winter ice that chokes its coasts.

What of China? The Celestial Kingdom: China believes it is the Celestial Kingdom, uniquely favored by God. Yet we are not half-convinced it is true. It erected its Great Wall for a reason. And off its coast lurks a chain of fortresses that bottle it in - South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines - all of which ally with God’s chosen nation.

But let us extend our investigation beneath the equator. How about Brazil? “Brazil is the country of the future,” runs the old saw - and “always will be.” Large hunks of it are lawless jungle. It lacks arable land. Its primary cities are isolated dots. The list of second- and third-raters runs on.

No… God has sat America upon Earth’s throne: God’s Sense of Humor: Has God given the United States a Baltimore… a Detroit… a Cleveland? Has He populated its capital with an endless roster of rogues, rascals, cadges, chiselers, grifters and swindlers? Well, friends, maybe He has. Yet even God Almighty must be granted space for error. Perhaps it is not error at all - but intention.

We must concede the possibility that He has a mischievous, even puckish sense of humor, this God. That He delights in pulling noses and yanking chains. He has nonetheless showered America with such immense natural extravagance…

In quiet moments, often in the small hours of night, we often marvel. Why are we so fortunate as to reside in this earthly Eden, this El Dorado, this Elysium? Countless others in the world’s various hells are infinitely more deserving of this high honor. Yet here we are. And here they are not. But to proceed…

Why Are We Gambling With America’s Future? Only Americans themselves could make a botch of this God-hatched idyll. And it appears they are determined to do precisely that. The abovesaid Brooks continues: "Today’s high interest rate environment is already hammering, say, the housing construction industry and making housing even more unaffordable.

The United States continues to borrow all this money even though classical Keynesian theory tells us to borrow in times of recession but commit to debt reduction in times like these, when growth is good…We continue to go further into debt even though the baby boom generation is aging, making programs like Social Security and Medicare more and more costly. The federal government already spends $6 on senior citizens for every $1 on children, which is not exactly investing in the future…

It is infinitely more difficult to get bipartisan majorities to cut spending or raise taxes on the bulk of Americans than it is to get it to spend with borrowed money."

He concludes: "At some point all this self-confidence begins to look like hubris or a rationalization for: We want to spend the future’s money on ourselves. Prudence is a boring virtue, but the prudent course is to get the United States on a more sustainable course. As the meme artists on the internet might say (in slightly more colorful language), you mess around with debt, and sooner or later you’ll find out."

Great nations, like great empires, nonetheless run in cycles - from rosy dawn, to high and cloudless noon, to twilit sundown. The United States is an empire of sorts - though none dare say the word. Perhaps we are merely witnessing an empire in decline, an empire in twilight.

“Empires have a logic of their own,” wrote our own Washington and Jefferson - Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin - in "Empire of Debt", concluding: "ldquo;That they will end in grief is a foregone conclusion.” Alas… even God’s divine providence is not eternal…"

Dan, I Allegedly, "Bank Failures Incoming - What You Must Know Now!"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, I Allegedly, 5/4/24
"Bank Failures Incoming - 
What You Must Know Now!"
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Adventures With Danno, "Massive Price Increases At Target!"

Full screen recommended.
Adventures With Danno, 5/4/24
"Massive Price Increases At Target! 
Very Few Deals And Some Empty Shelves!"
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Friday, May 3, 2024

Scott Ritter, "Georgia Vulnerable to Overthrow, Russia Warns Romania & Poland Against Arming Ukraine"

Full screen recommended.
Scott Ritter, 5/3/24
"Georgia Vulnerable to Overthrow,
 Russia Warns Romania & Poland Against Arming Ukraine"
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Jeremiah Babe, "Major Retailer Bites The Dust, 540 Stores Close, 5,000 Lose Their Jobs"

Jeremiah Babe, 5/3/24
"Major Retailer Bites The Dust, 540 Stores Close, 
5,000 Lose Their Jobs; How Safe Are The Pensions?"
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Judge Napolitano - Judging Freedom, "Weekly Intel Wrap Up w/Johnson & McGovern"

Judge Napolitano - Judging Freedom, 5/3/24
"Weekly Intel Wrap Up w/Johnson & McGovern"
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Different Russia, "A Few Days Before Easter 2024"

Full screen recommended.
Different Russia, 5/3//24
"A Few Days Before Easter 2024"
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Adventures With Danno, "This Is Much Worse Than We Thought!"

Adventures With Danno, PM 4/3/24
"This Is Much Worse Than We Thought!"
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Gregory Mannarino, "ATMs Running Out Of Cash? Is Something Big About To Go Down?"

Gregory Mannarino, PM 4/3/24
"ATMs Running Out Of Cash?
 Is Something Big About To Go Down?"
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Musical Interlude: Alan Parsons Project, "Old and Wise"

Full screen recommended.
Alan Parsons Project, "Old and Wise"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“In one of the brightest parts of Milky Way lies a nebula where some of the oddest things occur. NGC 3372, known as the Great Nebula in Carina, is home to massive stars and changing nebulas. The Keyhole Nebula (NGC 3324), the bright structure just above the image center, houses several of these massive stars and has itself changed its appearance.
The entire Carina Nebula spans over 300 light years and lies about 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. Eta Carinae, the most energetic star in the nebula, was one of the brightest stars in the sky in the 1830s, but then faded dramatically. Eta Carinae is the brightest star near the image center, just left of the Keyhole Nebula. While Eta Carinae itself maybe on the verge of a supernova explosion, X-ray images indicate that much of the Great Carina Nebula has been a veritable supernova factory.”