The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing at a Catholic Mass in the Philippines on Sunday, Reuters reported.
The bombing left at least four people dead and over 50 injured at Mindanao State University, according to Reuters. ISIS announced on Telegram that it was responsible for the explosion, The Daily Beast reported.
The Daily Tribune reported that ISIS had “detonated an explosive device on a large gathering of Christian believers in Marawi City,” citing the SITE Intelligence Group.
“Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society,” President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said in a statement on Twitter. “Rest assured we will bring the perpetrators of this ruthless act to justice.” ...
Exclusive: Donald Trump Followers Targeted by FBI as 2024 Election Nears
By William M. Arkin On 10/04/23
The federal government believes that the threat of violence and major civil disturbances around the 2024 U.S. presidential election is so great that it has quietly created a new category of extremists that it seeks to track and counter: Donald Trump's army of MAGA followers.
The challenge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the primary federal agency charged with law enforcement, is to pursue and prevent what it calls domestic terrorism without direct reference to political parties or affiliations—even though the vast majority of its current "anti-government" investigations are of Trump supporters, according to classified data obtained by Newsweek.
"The FBI is in an almost impossible position," says a current FBI official, who requested anonymity to discuss highly sensitive internal matters. The official said that the FBI is intent on stopping domestic terrorism and any repeat of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. But the Bureau must also preserve the Constitutional right of all Americans to campaign, speak freely and protest the government. By focusing on former president Trump and his MAGA (Make America Great Again) supporters, the official said, the Bureau runs the risk of provoking the very anti-government activists that the terrorism agencies hope to counter.
"Especially at a time when the White House is facing Congressional Republican opposition claiming that the Biden administration has 'weaponized' the Bureau against the right wing, it has to tread very carefully," says the official.
Newsweek spoke to over a dozen current or former government officials who specialize in terrorism in a three-month investigation to understand the current domestic-security landscape and to evaluate what President Joe Biden's administration is doing about what it calls domestic terrorism. Most requested anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly, were reluctant to stray into partisan politics or feared the repercussions of speaking frankly.
Newsweek has also reviewed secret FBI and Department of Homeland Security data that track incidents, threats, investigations and cases to try to build a better picture. While experts agree that the current partisan environment is charged and uniquely dangerous (with the threat not only of violence but, in the most extreme scenarios, possibly civil war), many also question whether "terrorism" is the most effective way to describe the problem, or that the methods of counterterrorism developed over the past decade in response to Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups constitute the most fruitful way to craft domestic solutions.
"The current political environment is not something that the FBI is necessarily responsible for, nor should it be," says Brian Michael Jenkins, one of the world's leading terrorism experts and senior adviser to the president of the RAND Corporation.
In a statement to Newsweek, the FBI said: "The threat posed by domestic violent extremists is persistent, evolving, and deadly. The FBI's goal is to detect and stop terrorist attacks, and our focus is on potential criminal violations, violence and threats of violence. Anti-government or anti-authority violent extremism is one category of domestic terrorism, as well as one of the FBI's top threat priorities." The FBI further said, "We are committed to protecting the safety and constitutional rights of all Americans and will never open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity, including a person's political beliefs or affiliations."
The White House declined to comment. The Trump campaign was given an opportunity to comment but did not do so. What the FBI Data Shows
From the president down, the Biden administration has presented Trump and MAGA as an existential threat to American democracy and talked up the risk of domestic terrorism and violence associated with the 2024 election campaign.
"Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans are a threat to the very soul of this country," President Biden tweeted last September, the first time that he explicitly singled out the former president. "MAGA Republicans aim to question not only the legitimacy of past elections but elections being held now and into the future," Biden said.
Biden's Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall said: "The use of violence to pursue political ends is a profound threat to our public safety and national security...it is a threat to our national identity, our values, our norms, our rule of law—our democracy."
For Attorney General Merrick Garland: "Attacks by domestic terrorists are attacks on all of us collectively, aimed at rending the fabric of our democratic society and driving us apart."
Though the FBI's data shows a dip in the number of investigations since the slew of January 6 cases ended, FBI Director Christopher Wray still says that the breach of the Capitol building was "not an isolated event" and the threat is "not going away anytime soon." In a joint report to Congress this June, the Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security say that "Threats from...DVEs [domestic violent extremists] have increased in the last two years, and any further increases in threats likely will correspond to potential flashpoints, such as high-profile elections and campaigns or contentious current events."
The FBI and DHS report concludes: "Sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence—will almost certainly spur some domestic terrorists to try to engage in violence."
The threats listed in that paragraph are all clearly associated with America's right and in particular with Trump's MAGA supporters. Right after January 6, the FBI co-authored a restricted report ("Domestic Violent Extremists Emboldened in Aftermath of Capitol Breach, Elevated Domestic Terrorism Threat of Violence Likely Amid Political Transitions and Beyond") in which it shifted the definition of AGAAVE ("anti-government, anti-authority violent extremism") from "furtherance of ideological agendas" to "furtherance of political and/or social agendas." For the first time, such groups could be so labeled because of their politics.
It was a subtle change, little noticed, but a gigantic departure for the Bureau. Trump and his army of supporters were acknowledged as a distinct category of domestic violent extremists, even as the FBI was saying publicly that political views were never part of its criteria to investigate or prevent domestic terrorism. Where the FBI sees threats is also plain from the way it categorizes them—a system which on the surface is designed to appear nonpartisan. This shifted subtly days after the events of January 6 when it comes to what the Bureau calls AGAAVE.
"We cannot and do not investigate ideology," a senior FBI official reassured the press after January 6. "We focus on individuals who commit or intend to commit violence or criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security."
But the FBI went further in October 2022 when it created a new subcategory—"AGAAVE-Other"—of those who were a threat but do not fit into its anarchist, militia or Sovereign Citizen groups. Introduced without any announcement, and reported here for the first time, the new classification is officially defined as "domestic violent extremists who cite anti-government or anti-authority motivations for violence or criminal activity not otherwise defined, such as individuals motivated by a desire to commit violence against those with a real or perceived association with a specific political party or faction of a specific political party."
Though Trump and MAGA are never mentioned in the official description of AGAAVE-Other, government insiders acknowledge that it applies to political violence ascribed to the former president's supporters.
"What other name could we use?" asks one FBI officer who spoke with Newsweek, and who defends what he says is merely a record-keeping change in response to Congressional pressure to track things better. "Obviously if Democratic Party supporters resort to violence, it [AGAAVE-Other] would apply to them as well. It doesn't matter that there is a low likelihood of that. So yes, in practical terms, it refers to MAGA, though the carefully constructed language is wholly nonpartisan."
In its statement to Newsweek, the FBI said that the AGAAVE threat "includes anarchist violent extremists, militia violent extremists, sovereign citizen violent extremists, and other violent extremists—some of whom are motivated by a desire to harm those with a real or perceived association with a political party or faction."
Another senior intelligence official who requested anonymity told Newsweek, "We've crossed the Rubicon." In emailed responses to questions, he said, "Trump's army constitutes the greatest threat of violence domestically...politically...that's the reality and the problem set. That's what the FBI, as a law enforcement agency, has to deal with. But whether Trump and his supporters are a threat to national security, to the country, whether they represent a threat of civil war? That's a trickier question. And that's for the country to deal with, not the FBI."
The revelations that some Trump supporters are being specifically targeted by the FBI fits with accusations from among them that the Bureau has them in its sights and is the political tool of a repressive deep state in Washington, D.C., bent on preserving the hold of the political establishment at the cost of democracy.
Such views are not only from the furthest fringe. Some of Trump's Republican allies in Congress have called for the FBI to be defunded over such accusations and the prosecution of Trump supporters over the January 6 attack. The fight over the FBI is in itself helping to stoke the political temperature ahead of the 2024 election.
"For perhaps the first time in our history, the FBI's counterterrorism operational tempo remains high for international terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism and domestic terrorism, simultaneously," FBI director Wray declared at Texas A&M University this summer.
A senior intelligence official who works at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence says it is hard to digest all the evidence. "When you are used to hearing that the sky is falling every day, when that's the nature of the cable news and Twitter worlds we live where everything is overstated, there's a lot of room for doubt," he says.
"But I say this as a citizen as much as a government analyst," the senior official says. "We are in a unique moment and the numbers are daunting."
The FBI official says that those who are charged with upholding the law see numbers that are worrying but that there is also a struggle to characterize the specific threat to America—and whether it really should be called terrorism—as well as the proper response.
"This is not media hype. But it's also not easily quantifiable," the FBI official says. "Are we talking just a few thousand Proud Boy types or are we talking 30 percent of the country that are core Trump voters? Are we talking extremists bent on political violence or just a lot of disgruntled and frustrated citizens? I don't know the answer, and I can assure you the answer isn't in any secret intelligence that the government possesses."
The FBI and the other intelligence agencies responsible for domestic matters track the number of terrorist-related disruptions, arrests and investigations, based on its caseloads and its various characterizations. According to the FBI, the number of domestic terrorism-related open cases grew by 357 percent from 1,981 in fiscal year 2013 to 9,049 in fiscal year 2021, a number that has been widely quoted in the media as evidence of a widespread domestic terror threat. The FBI also says the number of FBI domestic violent extremism and domestic terrorism investigations has more than doubled since the spring of 2020—to approximately 2,700 investigations at the end of fiscal year 2022, another marker that's been widely quoted.
Classified numbers seen by Newsweek substantiate the FBI public claims while also showing that a significant part of the increases in 2020 and 2021 were related to protests after the murder of George Floyd and during COVID as well the elections and January 6. That said, the data show clearly that the main targets of the investigations and cases open were of Trump supporters. While the number of investigations in 2021 almost doubled from 2020 to around 9,000, the number of "full investigations" that led to arrests was only 1,446, not much more than the number of 1,146 January 6 protesters who have been charged with a crime, according to the Justice Department.
Virtually all of the 2021 increases are specifically related to these events, including the enormous growth in what the FBI calls "assessments," which more than doubled from 2019 to 2021 and are revealed here for the first time.
Assessments are the most speculative of any FBI investigation, where a special agent or intelligence analyst only suspects wrongdoing because of association or encounter and further looks into someone's background. Assessments are the closest thing to domestic spying that exists in America and generally not talked about by the Bureau.
The data from the FBI shows a significant decline in the number of investigations and cases opened in the past year, in 2022, below 2020 levels—including a drop in the number of anti-government and anti-authority extremists (AGAAVEs) as a result of the closure of so many January 6-related cases.
And, according to FBI data obtained by Newsweek, 31 percent of its investigations now relate to AGAAVEs and 60 percent of all investigations include cases categorized as AGAAVE and "civil unrest"—marking a significant shift away from investigations associated with race-related causes or armed militias. Drilling further into the individual cases behind the numbers, nearly two-thirds of the FBI's current investigations are focused on Trump supporters and others suspected of violating what the FBI calls "anti-riot" laws.
In its statement to Newsweek, the FBI said that the investigations are not only limited to Trump supporters. "These violent extremists have targeted both Republican and Democratic members of Congress," the FBI notes in its statement to Newsweek.
"We cannot and do not investigate ideology," says a senior FBI official. "We focus on individuals who commit or intend to commit violence or criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security." And indeed the number of investigations of groups has dropped by four-fifths over a decade to only eight groups investigated in 2022.
In their June 2023 report, "Strategic Intelligence Assessment and Data on Domestic Terrorism," the FBI and the DHS further observe that racially motivated violence from those other than white supremacists had posed a generally low threat of violence. The threat from militias has also declined, with armed groups "more disjointed that in previous years." Other groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, prominent at the U.S. Capitol, have since lost local chapters and members following convictions over January 6.
All sides use the FBI numbers to further their aims—the FBI and the administration at the front of the line, stressing that it is doing more and that the threat demands more resources and a freer hand.
Republicans, on the other hand, see the FBI's focus on January 6th and the law-breaking associated with it as "weaponization" on the part of the Biden administration, to suppress GOP voters, to stigmatize the right wing and to transform what they see as principled dissent against societal norms—for example with regard to abortion, about what children are taught in public schools or in rejection of transgender categorizations—as extremism.
The left sees these same numbers as proof that Donald Trump and his supporters are not just dangerous to democracy but also that the government isn't doing enough. Michigan Senator Gary Peters, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, consistently argues that the FBI is failing to fight the "full scope of white supremacist terrorist attacks." Others argue that the FBI (and law enforcement in general) is too sympathetic to white supremacists, a view punctuated by an assumption made by many after January 6 that a disproportionate number of protesters and those arrested were veterans or members of law enforcement (an allegation that isn't true when compared to their numbers in the general population).
Some experts, such as Brian Michael Jenkins, question whether conceiving of disgruntled Americans as terrorists is even a helpful exercise. "These are not people who are going underground," he says, referring to domestic terrorist organizations of the past such as the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground or the IRA or Red Brigades overseas. As Jenkins sees it, those we label as domestic terrorists—people marching with guns or those wearing military-like uniforms—are more performative than indicative of some true terrorism class in America. "This is not the '60s or '70s," when radical groups, even the civil rights and peace movements, were driven to violence," Jenkins says. "I don't think terrorism is a particularly useful framework for viewing this problem."
An Outsized Response to January 6
January 6, like 9/11, provoked an outsized response from a domestic intelligence apparatus that had failed to warn or prepare for the likelihood of mass violence on that day. Once the breach by Trump's supporters occurred, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House began their almost singular focus investigating and charging the perpetrators at the U.S. Capitol and extrapolating from January 6 into the future. In his first week in office, President Biden directed the intelligence community to undertake a 100-day review of the domestic threat.
In March 2021, the review resulted in a public declaration that merely stated that domestic violent extremists posed "an elevated threat." It concluded that the most lethal threat came from two groups: racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists—specifically white supremacists—and militia violent extremists. "Our experience on the ground confirms this," Attorney General Garland said. "The number of open FBI domestic terrorism investigations this year has increased significantly."
Referring to Garland's comments, a defense intelligence official who participated in the review told Newsweek: "'experience on the ground' here means January 6 and other protests questioning the results of the 2020 elections."
But in thinking about the new threat, the review fell back upon two decades of experience fighting international terror, the official explained. That skewed the bias toward seeing groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, as well as militia movements around the country, as the problem ... because that was what the counterterrorism apparatus was used to focusing on, groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Second, the official says, groups—as opposed to individuals—present a framework that lends itself toward a strategy to stop violence before it starts even if there was a shift toward the risk of more "lone wolf" attacks by those radicalized on social media. Organized groups fit more neatly into the intelligence community's skill set. The Threat of 'Misguided Americans'
"It seems to me that the very word terrorism is more representative of the state of our discourse than a description of the threat," says a civilian terrorism expert who used to be a government official. "Is political violence on the rise in America? Yes, it is. But everything that is extreme is on the rise, whereas terrorism, violence intended to bring America to its knees or overthrow the state, really doesn't exist. One might not like that so many reject the current political order, but they are still trying to get their candidate elected, not pull off some coup to overthrow the government. That never happened on January 6th and despite even a president like Donald Trump, it's not possible in America."
Jenkins prefers the term "domestic political violence" over "domestic terrorism" and he reaches back into history to stress that the current state of play is maybe not quite as dire as some claim. Violence in America at alarmingly high levels, protesters and groups dangerous to our society, dividing the nation into armed camps—these are all descriptions, Jenkins says, that appeared more than five decades ago in the 1968 "Report of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence."
"For all the implied homogeneity in 'red' states and 'blue' states, they are more-complex mosaics—in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, and politics—than north versus south ever was," Jenkins writes.
Former White House head of counterterrorism Christopher P. Costa argues that while there is "an overriding government aim" in protecting U.S. citizens and "unflinchingly focusing on the rule of law, the anti-government domestic terrorist threat comes from only a small percentage of misguided fellow Americans."
The FBI, despite its rhetoric and numbers, seems to agree. The Bureau applies only limited resources to deal specifically with domestic terrorism, and those resources haven't really increased. The FBI has only about 4,500 agents, intelligence analysts, attorneys and other staff in its field offices focused on terrorism, according to the Bureau. Only about one-quarter of these focus on domestic terrorism (the Bureau allocates about 1,100 personnel, or an increase of about 300 full-time people since January 6). The total is only about 3 percent of the FBI's employees.
Classified data from the office of the Director of National Intelligence shows that the number of intelligence reports issued on domestic terrorism remains relatively minor. Of 11,945 intelligence reports prepared by the domestic agencies between 2017 and 2021, only 901 (or fewer than 10 percent) related to domestic terrorism, the remainder mostly dealing with international matters and critical infrastructure protection.
"For a problem the Biden administration and the FBI describes as existential, the resources are meager," says another terrorist expert working at a government-funded think tank. "Maybe that's the way it should be, that the FBI is strictly staying in its lane. But it is certainly not what the public thinks or expects."
So what exactly is terrorism when applied to American citizens, and does it apply to the current political situation? Domestic terrorism is defined in federal law as domestic activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state; and appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce the civilian population; influence the policy of the government by intimidation or coercion or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.
The government generally uses the terms domestic terrorism and domestic violent extremism interdependently, though there are subtle differences, the most important being that terrorism is statutorily defined and extremism avoids the label of terrorist. According to the FBI and DHS, the word "violent" is important because advocating political or social positions and activism, the use of strong rhetoric and even a generalized philosophic embrace of violent tactics does not necessarily constitute violent extremism and is thus constitutionally protected.
In defining the federal crime of terrorism as an offense, there is no distinction based on political views; it is simply a matter, as the FBI stresses, of holding those who break the law accountable, and in the post-9/11 paradigm, collecting intelligence and "targeting" domestic actors to prevent them from breaking the law.
Experts agree that as the 2024 election approaches, there will be greater pressure to prevent law-breaking, one that necessitates infiltration of political circles and other controversial government activity.
Because of the difficulty in proving motivation with regard to a charge of domestic terrorism, most prosecutors, being practical, tend to charge individuals with other crimes instead, even in clear cases of political violence. The Department of Justice has used an array of criminal statutes to prosecute individuals who engage in domestic violent extremism, including charges associated with firearms, arson, riots, attacks on federal officers and, in the case of January 6th, even trespassing on government facilities.
"Even my friends and colleagues debate as to whether January 6th was an act of terrorism," says Jenkins. "If you have the people who have been writing about this for 30-plus years struggling with the formulation, you can imagine how difficult it must be for the public." Jenkins thinks that the term itself is a distraction.
The senior intelligence official who works at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Biden's rhetoric on domestic terrorism could goad his opponents into taking more extreme action—particularly those who have now lost their faith in elections or believe the system is rigged against them.
"So we have the president increasing his own inflammatory rhetoric which leads Donald Trump and the Republicans to do the same, which influences the news media, which influences the rhetoric," he said. "The FBI? It's just in the middle of this mess, probably heading for trouble but mostly left out on a limb by the anger and indifference of the American public."
New York Ruling Class Says It Can Now Quarantine People Against Their Will
by Mac Slavo | Nov 29, 2023 |
The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division has overturned a decision in a lawsuit over the state’s unreasonable COVID-19 quarantine regulations in a move that could pave the way for quarantine camps in New York. The ruling class thinks it has ultimate power over the slave class, and until we stand up and disobey together, we are stuck being slaves.
The Path To Freedom & Abolishing Slavery
At the heart of the case is Rule 2.13 of New York’s public health law, which gives state health officials the power to order anyone who is suspected of having a communicable disease like COVID-19 to be placed in temporary housing against their will. It allows them to issue isolation or quarantine orders without any proof of an individual being infected. The rule also allows them to force individuals to stay in their homes or go to other locations that public health authorities consider appropriate. It gives authorities the power to hold people for as long as they wish. –Natural News
The ruling means that the New York Commissioner of Health can now issue quarantine orders to control diseases despite the plaintiffs’ argument that the regulations impede individual liberty and majorly overstep the separation of powers.
The Appellate Division court is claiming that by reversing the lower court decision and then dismissing this case for “lack of standing,” they believe that Senator George Borrello, Assemblyman Chris Tague, Congressman Mike Lawler, and the citizens’ group Uniting NYS did not have the right to bring this lawsuit last year against the Governor and her Department of Health for their heinous “Isolation and Quarantine Procedures” regulation. According to the court, the plaintiffs were not “harmed” by the quarantine policies, only those forcibly locked in their homes.
For more information, please read the following article by The Brownstone Institute:
The problem isn’t that New York gave itself power. It has no power to give itself power unless the public believes in the throne.
Many have been able to recognize and oppose specific acts of tyranny by specific regimes, but very few have recognized that the underlying problem is not who sits on the throne; the problem is that there is a throne to sit on. -Larken Rose
I don’t care if there’s one looney with a stupid mustache. He’s not a threat if the people do not believe in “authority”. -Larken Rose
We need to stop begging these rulers to be free. We already know that it is not in the best interests of any master to allow a slave to go free.
My brother and I went to a local restaurant for their "signature" burgers last week. Last year about this time, the bill was about $35 for two people. This year, for the same meal, it cost us over $50.
Grid Operator Sounds Alarm As Coal Plant Shutdown Threatens Power for Millions
by Nicholas Dolinger November 23, 2023
A major power grid operator serving millions in the mid-Atlantic region, PJM Interconnection, has raised concerns about the impending shutdown of the Brandon Shores coal power plant near Baltimore, known as “Charm City” for its colorful personalities and rich local culture.
This closure, planned for June 2025 by the plant’s operator, Texas-based Talen Energy, is part of a settlement with the Sierra Club. PJM Interconnection, which oversees electricity movement in parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia, warns that this shutdown could severely disrupt the reliability of the region’s power grid.
Christopher Summers, president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute, expressed concerns about the accelerated timeline for exiting coal-fired power plants in the state of Maryland, known for its blue-shelled crabs and visually appealing state flag.
“There has been a strong push for quite some time to get coal power out of Maryland,” Summers said in an interview with Fox News Digital. “In this accelerated timeline of exiting from coal-fired power plants in the coming 12 to 24 months, I think it’s going to create a major reliability concern for the state.”
“The loss of power poses a real danger to the well-being and livelihoods of Maryland families and businesses,” Summers said. “Until these current risks to our grid are fully dealt with, it’s a mistake to close reliable, baseload power plants too soon. That should be a concern to consumers in Maryland and businesses in Maryland that rely on dependable power.”
In 2020, Talen Energy agreed with the Sierra Club to close Brandon Shores and two other major coal plants in the region, aiming to avoid future litigation or permit disputes. Ralph Alexander, then-CEO of Talen Energy, described the move as part of the company’s transition to green energy and its broader environmental, social and governance (ESG)-focused future.
However, PJM Interconnection has indicated that the premature closure of Brandon Shores, which has a capacity of 1,295 megawatts, enough to power over a million homes, would create an imbalance in the grid. Jeff Shields, a spokesperson for PJM Interconnection, detailed the severe voltage drop and thermal violations across seven PJM zones that could result from the plant’s deactivation, leading to widespread reliability risks in Baltimore and surrounding areas.
“The PJM region and the state of Maryland are facing future reliability challenges as a result of the announced retirement of the Brandon Shores units,” Jeff Shields, a spokesperson for PJM Interconnection, told Fox News Digital. “Specifically, PJM analyses showed that the deactivation of the Brandon Shores units would cause severe voltage drop and thermal violations across seven PJM zones, which could lead to a widespread reliability risks in Baltimore and the immediate surrounding areas.
“Therefore, there is an urgent need to upgrade the transmission system in order to maintain reliability and the flow of power to the 65 million people we serve,” Shields said. “The chosen transmission solutions include in-service estimates in the 2027-2028 timeframe.”
Talen Energy and PJM are currently in discussions with the Sierra Club and Maryland state officials to find a solution. Taryne Williams, a spokesperson for Talen Energy, confirmed these ongoing discussions, emphasizing Talen’s awareness of regional electric system reliability. Maryland Public Service Commission spokesperson Tori Leonard also acknowledged PJM’s responsibility for reliably operating the regional transmission grid.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently approved PJM’s nearly $800 million emergency plan for transmission upgrades to mitigate the impact of the Brandon Shores closure. FERC Commissioner Mark Christie warned of the potential for severe voltage collapse in Baltimore and surrounding zones, including Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania, describing such a scenario as potentially catastrophic.
Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s sole Republican congressional delegate, criticized the decision to close Brandon Shores.
“Closing an efficient, low-cost energy producing plant like Brandon Shores is just one more way America is surrendering our energy advantage to China and Russia,” he said. Harris also pointed out the likely outcome of more expensive electricity bills for Maryland families.
Maryland has set ambitious clean energy goals, including achieving a state-level “net zero” greenhouse emissions mandate by 2045. Democratic Gov. Wes Moore, who took office in January, aims for the state’s power grid to be entirely powered by green energy by 2035. Carter Elliott, a spokesperson for Moore, highlighted the governor’s commitment to 100% clean energy, which includes significant investments in wind and solar developments. Elliott declined to comment on the Brandon Shores closure.
Ranchers Warn the Worst Collapse in Cattle Production Will Make Meat Prices Double This Winter
(Epic Economist)—Being a carnivore has never been so expensive. According to the USDA, beef prices soared to another record high this week, and are expected to face a 100% increase next month compared to the same period a year ago. Steaks will likely be out of the dinner table of many Americans in the coming months as shortages already started leaving grocery shelves empty. Even cheap meats like ground beef are about to shoot up in price due to the lowest supply in decades, the Department said.
The nation’s shrinking cattle herd combined with surging input costs at U.S. farms and ranches have pushed wholesale meat costs to over $8 per pound, official data shows. Analysts predict that the figure could jump above the $ 10 mark in December due to the seasonal spike in demand. As a comparison, beef costs in 2022 were hoovering around the ten-year average of $5 per pound. The rapid price appreciation means that you will have to pay double what you paid a year ago to bring your favorite cut home this winter.
In fact, meat inflation at U.S. stores can be even higher given that the USDA forecast was for wholesale prices, not consumer prices. Adding rising labor and transportation costs to the mix, a pound of ground beef could be selling for $8.99 next month. A pound of sirloin is expected to reach $14.00, while T-bone, and ribeye, can reach $15.39 and $21.99 per pound, respectively.
“Relative to other proteins, beef prices are likely to stay elevated for the next couple of years due to tighter supplies,” according to Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute sector manager Courtney Schmidt. “All consumers will be paying more for all beef products for several more years,” added Wells Fargo’s Chief Agricultural Economist Michael Swanson.
Retailers are already reporting leaner deliveries and falling meat supplies at stores. Ranchers, who would normally thrive on record prices, are instead struggling to maintain their business. Low rainfall in prime cattle-raising land is turning green pastures into dust fields. Limited supply and increasing costs are likely to cause changes in food service menu items. “The prices of menu items may go up, including burger patties, as businesses try to maintain their profit margins,” Wells Fargo’s Swanson said.
Fast food chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Shake Shack, are some of the biggest buyers of meat in the U.S. market. In 2024, they might have to conduct another round of price hikes to offset the rising cost of beef. These companies are also being encouraged to launch more plant-based alternatives to reduce their environmental footprint amid climate change.
In other words, we will have to get used to eating meat alternatives instead of the real thing. Beef is becoming a delicacy reserved only for the bourgeoisie. For now, this crisis will continue to add pressure on ranchers, restaurateurs, and average consumers. Until cattle numbers grow, input costs decline, and the economic storm abates, Americans will be forced to either change their diets or pay the price.
...Lee also called for an investigation into the committee itself, labeling it a “sham” and questioning the use of taxpayer dollars in its operations. He insinuates that crucial information about the committee’s work could have been “deliberately lost or destroyed,” casting doubts on the committee’s transparency and objectivity....
Not a moment too soon.
Originally Posted by ConSigCor
...Kinzinger did not seek reelection, and Cheney lost her primary, marking a significant shift in the Republican landscape. The release of the security tapes by Johnson is seen as a step towards transparency, allowing the public to form their own opinions about the events of January 6, away from the committee’s narrative.
Good, on both counts. Maybe we'll finally get some justice out of this.
Cheney, Kinzinger, And “Sham” J6 Committee Under Fire After Friday Footage Dump; GOP Senator Calls For Investigation
Original article here.
Ever since Friday’s release of more than 40,000 hours of Jan. 6 Capitol Police security video, dozens of clips debunking the Jan. 6 committee’s ‘violent insurrection’ narrative have been floating around X.
Mike Lee raises questions
In response to the exculpatory footage that the Jan. 6 committee never showed the American public, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has raised significant questions about the handling of security footage.
Lee’s statements directly challenge the integrity of the now-disbanded committee, particularly addressing the roles of its former Republican members, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. He also accuses the committee – particularly those two, of selectively sharing information.
After Cheney attempted to hit back with her ‘best hits’ Jan. 6 footage, Lee replied: “Liz, we’ve seen footage like that a million times. You made sure we saw that—and nothing else.”
Lee also called for an investigation into the committee itself, labeling it a “sham” and questioning the use of taxpayer dollars in its operations. He insinuates that crucial information about the committee’s work could have been “deliberately lost or destroyed,” casting doubts on the committee’s transparency and objectivity.
The argument continued throughout the day, with Lee linking to a NY Post article with the headline “FBI lost count of how many paid informants were at Capitol on Jan. 6, and later performed audit to figure out exact number.”
Kinzinger swings and misses all day
In response to the backlash, Kinzinger made a stupid joke comparing Jan. 6 protesters to US army helicopters providing fire for South Vietnamese ground troops attacking the Vietcong in 1965.
He also retweeted about a dozen similarly stupid jokes (check out his timeline).
The House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack was disbanded in January 2023, after releasing its final report in December 2022. The committee, comprising seven Democrats and two Republicans, faced criticism for its composition and the perceived partisanship in its approach.
Kinzinger did not seek reelection, and Cheney lost her primary, marking a significant shift in the Republican landscape. The release of the security tapes by Johnson is seen as a step towards transparency, allowing the public to form their own opinions about the events of January 6, away from the committee’s narrative.
he Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is facing scrutiny due to a report from The Wall Street Journal detailing a “party culture” within the agency.
The report includes incidents of inappropriate behavior, such as supervisors inviting employees to strip clubs, sexual misconduct, and lewd photos.
The FDIC’s heavy drinking culture, centered around an 11-story hotel, has been a significant issue.
The agency has also faced criticism for its handling of financial institutions that failed this year, and the FDIC’s vice chairman acknowledged the agency’s slow response in setting up a platform for potential bidders to examine a bank’s finances.
“A male Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. supervisor in San Francisco invited employees to a strip club,” The Wall Street Journal reported in an article titled “Strip Clubs, Lewd Photos and a Boozy Hotel: The Toxic Atmosphere at Bank Regulator FDIC.”
“A supervisor in Denver had sex with his employee, told other employees about it and pressed her to drink whiskey during work,” the report continued.
“Senior bank examiners texted female employees photos of their penises. The agency tolerated a heavy drinking culture.”
The FDIC has responded, stating that harassment goes against its values and that it has programs in place to create a safe and equitable workplace.
The report continued: “The FDIC spent more than $100 million in the 1980s to build a training complex in Arlington, Va., that included a hotel for agency staff with more than 350 rooms, an outdoor pool and a rooftop patio. The FDIC said the hotel and training complex save the agency money.”
“It was just an accepted part of the culture,” Lauren Lemmer, a former examiner-in-training, said.
Lemmer “quit her job in 2013 after three years in which she said she was denied opportunities to advance, followed back to her Dallas hotel room by a male colleague during training, invited to a strip club in Seattle by other bank examiners and sent an unsolicited naked photo by a colleague.”
An FDIC spokesman said, “Harassment in any form is contrary to the FDIC’s values and our deep commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. We have various training, reporting, and oversight programs that endeavor to create a safe and equitable environment where all employees can feel valued and respected.”
“When we identify misconduct, we investigate and take appropriate action. In addition, we continually seek employee feedback and input on ways to promote and improve the culture through our Workplace Excellence Councils, Employee Resource Groups, and other means. To ensure we are living up to our values, we will continue to conduct periodic reviews of our programs and policies,” the spokesman said.
..."When I ran for Speaker, I promised to make accessible to the American people the 44,000 hours of video from Capitol Hill security taken on January 6, 2021,” Johnson said in a statement on X/Twitter. "Truth and transparency are critical. Today, we will begin immediately posting video on a public website and move as quickly as possible to add to the website nearly all of the footage, more than 40,000 hours. In the meantime, a public viewing room will ensure that every citizen can view every minute of the videos uncensored."
Democrats have long sought to hide this footage from the public, only giving us access to cherrypicked or altered footage, and you can bet that there’s plenty of footage here that will destroy the narrative that Democrats and the media have pushed for two and a half years.
"This decision will provide millions of Americans, criminal defendants, public interest organizations, and the media an ability to see for themselves what happened that day, rather than having to rely upon the interpretation of a small group of government officials,” Johnson continued. "I commend Chairman Loudermilk and his team for their diligent work to ensure the thousands of hours of videos are promptly processed to be uploaded to the committee’s public website. Processing will involve blurring the faces of private citizens on the yet unreleased tapes to avoid any persons from being targeted for retaliation of any kind and segregating an estimated 5% of the videos that may involve sensitive security information related to the building architecture." ...
There is an ongoing political debate about the appropriate extent of Western aid to Ukraine in resisting Russian aggression. How much cost is it worthwhile for Western taxpayers to bear? Whatever, the answer, the burden can be greatly reduced by confiscating Russian government assets in the West, and using them to fund Ukraine's defense.
There is a staggering $300 billion in frozen Russian state assets located in Western nations backing Ukraine. Most of this wealth is located in European Union nations. But about $5 billion is in the US. To put this figure in perspective, it's worth noting that the total amount of US aid to Ukraine from February 2022 through July 31, 2023 was about $77 billion. The European Union, individual European states, and Canada, gave approximately $165 billion during the same period (I converted Euro figures to dollars at the current exchange rate). The $300 billion in frozen assets is equal to some two years of total Western assistance to Ukraine at the current pace of spending!
There is a strong moral and pragmatic case for seizing Russian state assets and using them to fund Ukraine's defense. Michael McFaul, a leading expert on Russian politics and foreign policy, summarizes some key points in a recent Washington Post article:
Since the war began, a broad coalition of countries has joined together to confiscate billions in Russian assets. Some of these assets belong to oligarchs who have propped up Putin's system; by far the largest amount, though, is sitting in frozen accounts held by the Russian Central Bank. These funds amount to some $300 billion, of which the largest share has been seized by the Europeans. These funds should be deployed as soon as possible to help bring the war to an end and finance Ukraine's reconstruction. Considering that Russia's unprovoked war has inflicted hundreds of billions of dollars of damage on the Ukrainian economy, it's only just that the international community should impose some of these costs on the Russian state itself….
[S]ome experts worry that transfer of these funds will set a negative precedent for global financial institutions. I disagree. Seizing assets of the Russian state after Putin invaded and annexed Ukraine sets a positive, deterrent precedent to other world leaders thinking about using military force to annex territory. And we should not want criminals to do their banking in the democratic world.
A recent Renew Democracy Initiative analysis by a team of lawyers led by Harvard law Prof. Laurence Tribe does a thorough job of addressing a variety of possible legal objections to such a step. But scholars such as Lee Buchheit and Paul Stephan, and Yale Law School Prof. Oona Hathaway have raised a variety of objections and reservations.
I won't try to go over all the law and policy issues here, and some are outside my areas of expertise. But I will cover some points that are within my competence, most notably those relating to property rights.
The most obvious moral objection is that the property in question ultimately belongs to the Russian people, and cannot legitimately be taken away from them by foreign powers. While the Putin regime is to blame for the war and resulting atrocities, most ordinary Russians are not. This objection might carry some weight if it were at all likely that Putin's government would use this property for purposes that benefit the Russian people. But given the nature of his authoritarian state, that is highly unlikely. If the present Russian government regains control of these assets, it is more likely to use them to further oppress Russians and Ukrainians like.
Using the assets to help Ukraine defeat Russia increases the likelihood of regime change in the latter state, or at least of some degree of liberalization. And that is the best hope for a Russian government that actually serves the interests of its people, or is at least less awful than the present regime. For that reason, we should not be deterred by fear of unjustly harming ordinary Russians. To the contrary, using Russian state assets to help Ukraine defeat Putin might actually benefit them.
There are also slippery slope objections to consider. If Western nations confiscate Russian state assets today, might they not confiscate other foreign property tomorrow, perhaps with far less justification? The answer to this objection is that legislation authorizing confiscation should be narrowly focused on Russian property, and possibly that of other states waging unjust wars of aggression and committing enormous human rights violations.
In addition, in the US the private property of foreigners is protected against confiscation by the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which requires the government to pay "just compensation" if it takes "private property." Most European nations have similar constitutional protections for private property rights, as does the European Convention on Human Rights.
But the Fifth Amendment and its European analogues do not offer the same kind of blanket protection to the property of foreign governments. This distinction undermines claims by some critics that uncompensated seizure of Russian state assets would violate the Takings Clause and similar constitutional guarantees in Europe. It also mitigates concerns that confiscating Russian government assets would create a dangerous slippery slope. Private property rights of foreigners would remain protected by constitutional guarantees.
There could still be a slippery slope with respect to property owned by foreign governments. But that is mitigated by the strong incentives governments have to maintain good relations with allies and trading partners. It's unlikely that Western nations will start systematically confiscating foreign states' assets outside of extreme cases like that posed by Russia's horrific assault on Ukraine. To the extent that confiscation of Russian assets leads other authoritarian rulers to think twice about imitating Putin's actions, or prevents them from investing in the West, slippery slope possibilities might even be a feature, rather than a bug.
What is true of property rights protections is also true of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and other similar procedural guarantees against seizure of property. The Due Process Clause and other such provisions are meant to protect private individuals and organizations against deprivation of life, liberty, and property without due process. They don't offer comparable protection to foreign governments. Indeed, it would be perverse to use laws intended to protect individuals against arbitrary state oppression to instead protect a mass-murdering oppressive state from having its assets seized for the purposes of using them to resist its aggression and massive human rights violations.
Oona Hathaway argues that confiscating Russian state assets would violate sovereign immunity. I think the Tribe report offers compelling responses to this argument (pp 60-64).
In addition, I am not convinced that sovereign immunity is actually a just principle that we have a duty to obey. It is in fact a perversion of justice, enabling rulers to escape accountability for violating human rights and other injustices they perpetrate. It was a mistake to read it into the US Constitution. It is equally a mistake to allow it to be a principle of international law. Some laws are so deeply unjust that we have no duty to obey them. The law of sovereign immunity is one such case.
At the very least, sovereign immunity should not be permitted to shield authoritarian states like Putin's regime from having their assets confiscated in order to combat their wars of aggression, mass murder of civilians, and other large-scale human rights violations. Such rulers no more deserve sovereign immunity than Mafia bosses. Indeed, they are far worse than Mafia bosses.
If necessary, the US and European nations should enact legislation stripping the Russian state of all sovereign immunity. Any possible violation of international law here is well-justified.
There is a pragmatic concern that, absent sovereign immunity, authoritarian rulers will confiscate the property of Western governments. But authoritarian states have vastly more assets invested in the West than vice versa. Moreover, many of them have strong incentives to stay on the good side of the US and its allies. Confiscating Russian assets might even strengthen those incentives. They might think twice about imitating Russian actions if doing so leads to the confiscation of assets they have stashed in the West.
The above analysis assumes that Ukrainian resistance to Russia is a just cause worth supporting. If not, there is no reason to assist it. I won't go through all the moral and pragmatic reasons why supporting Ukraine is the right thing to do. But I have previously covered many of them here, here, and here.
I also won't respond in detail to those who argue the West should force Ukraine to make peace. I will merely point out that such a step would embolden further aggression by Putin and other authoritarians, and consign hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to horrific occupation. Anne Applebaum makes many additional relevant points in a recent Atlantic article critiquing the case for giving up on Ukraine.
Ever wonder how much good the World Health Organization really does? Well, they just changed the name monkeypox to "mpox." Why? Because "the term monkeypox could be seen as stigmatizing and racist," reported Politico.
So now you know how much good the World Health Organization does.
I've always been a little skeptical about "fleeing to the wilderness" during the collapse. But then again, I live in Tulsa. If I lived in any one of a couple dozen other cities, I'd be seriously thinking about it.
News flash: The "Black Hebrew Israelites" are neither Hebrew, nor Israelites. It's an antisemitic hate group.
An Indiana woman, whom cops described as a “terrorist,” has been arrested after she allegedly plowed her car into what she thought was a Jewish school.
Ruba Almaghtheh, 34, allegedly backed her vehicle into a building associated with Black Hebrew Israelites in Indianapolis late Friday while several adults and children were inside, Fox 59 reported.
The driver copped to targeting the building, which houses the Israelite School of Universal and Practical Knowledge, because she was allegedly offended by a “Hebrew Israelite” symbol out front, according to a police report.
Ruba Almaghtheh, 34, was arrested for allegedly driving her car into what she thought was a Jewish school in Indianapolis on Friday night, police said. IMPD
“Yes. I did it on purpose,” Almaghtheh allegedly said in the wake of her arrest.
She repeatedly described the building as the “Israel school,” cops said, adding that the driver also made a reference to “her people back in Palestine.”
The Israelite School of Universal and Practical Knowledge, however, is a sect of the Black Hebrew Israelites, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis said Safe Indiana, a Jewish community security program, is working with cops to probe the incident.
“Safety and security for our community is of the utmost importance, and we are more secure and prepared than ever before,” the federation said in a statement.
“Although a Jewish facility was not targeted, solely due to ironic misidentification, this is yet another reminder to maintain security protocols, remain vigilant of suspicious activity and to (report promptly) to the appropriate authorities.”
Police called Almaghtheh a “terrorist” and said she was arrested on a preliminary charge of criminal recklessness. She will make an initial court appearance on Wednesday.