The Big Green Lie Almost Everyone Claims To Believe

The Big Green Lie Almost Everyone Claims To Believe

Authored by Patricia Adams and Lawrence Solomon via The Epoch Times,

Almost every member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, pays homage to the Big Green Lie. So do all the past and remaining Conservative candidates vying to be prime minister of the UK and every candidate currently vying for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. So does virtually all of the mainstream press. The Big Green Lie—that carbon dioxide is a pollutant—is so pervasive that even those considered skeptics—including right-wing NGOs and pundits—generally adhere to the orthodoxy, differing not in their stated belief that CO2 is a pollutant but only in how calamitous a pollutant it is.

Because everyone now participates in the CO2-emissions-are-bad lie, the debate over climate policy hasn’t been over whether a CO2 problem exists but over how urgently CO2 needs to be addressed, and how it should be addressed. Do we have eight years left before Armageddon becomes inevitable or decades? Do we get off fossil fuels by building nuclear plants or wind turbines? Should we change our lifestyles to need less of everything? Or should we mitigate this evil—the view of those deemed climate minimalists—by shielding our continents from a rising of the oceans by enclosing them behind sea walls?

With almost everyone across the political spectrum publicly agreeing that curbing CO2 is a good thing, the debate has been between those who want to do good quickly by reaching Net Zero in 2040 and sticks in the mud who want to slow down the doing of a good thing. With discourse careening down rabbit holes, almost everyone gets lost pursuing solutions to Alice-in-Wonderland delusions—and wasting trillions of dollars in the process.

Until the 2000s, when climate change was still called global warming and the mainstream media still noticed that none of the myriad predictions of a climate catastrophe were being borne out—the polar caps weren’t melting, Manhattan wasn’t about to be submerged, malaria wasn’t infecting the northern hemisphere—many exposed man-made climate change as a hoax. The leaked Climategate emails revealed how scientists had conspired to “hide the decline” in temperatures that didn’t conform to their models. The claim that 97 percent of scientists supported the global warming theory was exposed as a fraud, as was the claim that the 4,000 scientists associated with the IPCC endorsed its report—those 4,000 hadn’t endorsed it, and most hadn’t even read it but had merely reviewed parts of the report and often disagreed with what they read.

The claim that the “science was settled” on climate change never withstood scrutiny. Scientists around the world signed a series of petitions to dispute that claim. The 2008 Oregon Petition, spearheaded by a former president of the National Academy of Science and championed by Freeman Dyson, Albert Einstein’s successor at Princeton and one of the world’s most preeminent scientists, was signed by more than 31,000 scientists and experts who agreed that “the proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind. … Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

COP26 President Alok Sharma (C) speaks during the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 13, 2021. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

What is settled is the abject failure of the three-decade-long attempt by the bureaucracies of the 195 countries of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to convince anyone other than themselves, a credulous media, and a relatively few gullible people that climate change represents an existential threat. Poll after poll over the decades show the public gives climate change short shrift when asked to rank its importance.

Gallup Poll released this week, which asked Americans, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” found that climate change didn’t meet its criteria of the many issues worth listing. As Gallup noted, “Many parts of the nation have suffered record heat in recent weeks, and other regions have received record flooding. But a low 3% of Americans mention the weather, the environment or climate change as the nation’s top problem.” So, too, last month, where “just 1 percent of voters in a recent New York Times/Siena College poll named climate change as the most important issue facing the country …. Even among voters under 30, the group thought to be most energized by the issue, that figure was 3 percent.”

Although most elites continue to pay lip service to the urgency of curbing carbon dioxide, their actions belie their words, whether judged by their penchant for private jet travel or their disingenuous commitment to climate-related policies. According to an International Energy Agency (IEA) announcement last week, coal is once again king: Global coal demand this year will “match the annual record set in 2013, and coal demand is likely to increase further next year to a new all-time high.” The IEA’s assessment comports with a worldwide embrace of coal that includes the European Union, until recently the world’s most zealous climate scold. The EU is now walking back its Net Zero commitments.

In some countries, governments are not so much walking back climate policies as unabashedly kicking them out. Calling wind turbines “fans” that harm the environment and cause “visual pollution” without providing much energy, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the government will end the subsidies and stop issuing permits for new wind projects. Israel is also set to pull the plug on the country’s wind industry, its environmental protection minister arguing that wind provides a “negligible contribution” to the country’s power system “compared to the potential for harm to nature, which is high.”

Recognizing renewables as economic and environmental boondoggles, as Mexico and Israel have done, is a step toward puncturing the lie that a fuel that emits carbon dioxide can be sensibly replaced. The other shoe to drop is the lie that carbon dioxide-emitting fuels should be replaced.

The fantastical claim that CO2 is a pollutant was cut out of whole cloth. The 2008 statement by the 31,000 experts—that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate” is as true today as it was then, and as it always has been. No scientist anywhere at any time has shown that manmade CO2 emissions—aka nature’s fertilizer—do any harm to anything.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 08/07/2022 – 16:30

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Economic Slowdown Now, Recession Coming In 2023

Economic Slowdown Now, Recession Coming In 2023

Authored by Lance Roberts via The Epoch Times,

Economic slowdown but no recession! That message comes from the latest employment report, service sector data, and Federal Reserve.

“We’re not in a recession right now. We do have these two-quarters of negative GDP growth. To some extent, a recession is in the eyes of the beholder. With all the job growth in the first half of the year, it’s hard to say there’s a recession. With a flat unemployment rate at 3.6 percent, it’s hard to say there’s a recession,” stated James Bullard, St. Louis Federal Reserve president.

Such a statement certainly belies much of the economic consensus that two-quarters of negative economic growth constitutes a recession. As shown, the latest GDP report indeed met that measure.

Source: St Louis Federal Reserve, Refinitiv Chart: RealInvestmentAdvice.com

However, as stated, some indicators suggest the economy is in a slowdown but not yet in a recession. For example, our composite Institute of Supply Management (ISM) survey is still in expansionary territory. Since services make up about 80 percent of the economy today, there is currently support for economic growth. However, the data trend is negative and suggests the view of an economic slowdown.

Source: St Louis Federal Reserve, Refinitiv Chart: RealInvestmentAdvice.com

Employment also remains extremely strong. With the unemployment rate near historic lows, it suggests there is currently not a recession underway. However, historically low unemployment rates are pre-recessionary and reverse quickly as a recession takes hold.

Source: St Louis Federal Reserve, Refinitiv Chart: RealInvestmentAdvice.com

While neither measure suggests the economy has entered a recession yet, it does not preclude one from occurring. Many indicators suggest individuals “feel” like the economy is in a recession, such as our composite consumer sentiment index. Historically, a recessionary environment was present when consumer confidence and expectations declined below 80.

Source: St Louis Federal Reserve, Refinitiv Chart: RealInvestmentAdvice.com

Notably, given short-term economic dynamics, we could see a bump in economic growth owing to back-to-school spending in Q3 and holiday shopping in Q4.

However, I suspect that as the Fed continues its aggressive mission to combat inflationary pressures, a recession in 2023 is likely.

The Fed’s Dilemma

While James Bullard and others currently direct the monetary policy regime, suggesting they can quell inflation with only an economic slowdown, history suggests otherwise. The Fed makes its policy decisions based on lagging economic data.

For example, as noted previously, the Fed is currently basing its ability to continue hiking based on solid employment rates. However, history is clear that as the Federal Reserve hikes rates, there is a point where “something breaks” and low unemployment rates soar higher.

Source: St Louis Federal Reserve, Refinitiv Chart: RealInvestmentAdvice.com

That breaking point occurs because as the Federal Reserve hikes rates, the real-time economy adjusts to monetary policy changes. However, data such as employment and, importantly, inflation is comprised of data that can take several months to catch up to the actual economy.

Notably, more than 40 percent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is Home Owners Equivalent Rent. It takes roughly three months for pricing changes to be accurately reflected in the data. As the Fed continues to hike rates to combat inflation, the actual impact on consumers and economic activity is not reflected in CPI on a timely basis. It creates the possibility of the Fed over-tightening monetary policy, turning an economic slowdown into a more severe economic contraction.

Of course, this is precisely what history tells us will happen.

Source: St Louis Federal Reserve, Refinitiv Chart: RealInvestmentAdvice.com

Monetary supply also tells us the Fed is likely making a mistake with its current aggressive stance on inflation. As discussed recently, inflation is the consequence of restricted supply owing to the economic shutdown and increased demand from “stimulus” checks. The massive surge in M2 money supply has reversed and has about a nine-month lead on inflation.

Source: St Louis Federal Reserve, Refinitiv Chart: RealInvestmentAdvice.com

While the Fed is hiking rates to quell inflation, the contraction of the money supply is doing the job for them.

Driving With the Rearview Mirror

There is little doubt we are currently amidst an economic slowdown. With the Federal Reserve focused on combating inflationary pressures by tightening monetary policy, thereby slowing economic demand, logic suggests that current economic data trends will continue to decline. Of course, the only difference between an economic slowdown and a recession is whether the readings can remain above zero.

As the Fed continues to hike rates, each hike takes roughly nine months to work its way through the economic system. Therefore, the rate hikes from March 2020 won’t show up in the economic data until December. Likewise, the Fed’s subsequent and more aggressive rate hikes won’t be fully reflected in the economic data until early- to mid-2023. As the Fed hikes at subsequent meetings, those hikes will continue to compound their effect on a highly leveraged consumer with little savings through higher living costs. We have shown previously that the consumer is exceptionally unprepared for such an outcome.

Source: St Louis Federal Reserve, Refinitiv Chart: RealInvestmentAdvice.com

Given the Fed manages monetary policy in the “rear view” mirror, more real-time economic data suggest the economy is rapidly moving from economic slowdown toward recession. The signals are becoming clearer from inverted yield curves to the six-month rate of change of the Leading Economic Index.

Source: St Louis Federal Reserve, Refinitiv Chart: RealInvestmentAdvice.com

The media and the White House will likely proclaim victory by stating the first two quarters of 2022 were not a recession but only an economic slowdown. However, given the lag effect of changes to the money supply and higher interest rates, indicators are pretty clear recession risk is very probable in 2023.

From an investment standpoint, it suggests the current market rally is not the beginning of a new bull market. Instead, investors are likely being lured into the clutches of a bear market rally that will probably have rather disappointing outcomes.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 08/07/2022 – 15:30

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The Great Recession: Facts Vs Denials

The Great Recession: Facts Vs Denials

Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com,

Once again, the US is facing a recession which Main Street feels, Wall Street whistles past, and DC simply denies.

Below, we look at these recessionary forces and delusional policy makers in the context of blunt-speak rather than Fed-speak so that we can best prepare for what’s already felt but rarely spoken from on high.

De-Coding the Latest Fed-Speak: Hawks, Doves or Both?

As expected, and as already priced-in by the markets, the Fed raised the Fed Funds Rate (FFR) last week by 75 bps in what superficially appeared to be a hawkish assault on inflation but what in reality was nothing more than another monetary bluff.

Alas, there’s far more hidden dove than public hawk emanating from Wednesday’s latest Fed “guidance.”

As I’ve consistently argued, the Fed has wanted to exploit (rather than defeat) inflation as a classic means of secretly “inflating away” chunks of its embarrassing debt pile while publicly pretending to “combat” inflation with anemic (6.75% y/y) rate hikes (and a 2.50% FFR) which will never catch up with (and therefore never defeat) current inflation rates above the 9% level.

Everyone, including Powell, knows that Uncle Sam can’t afford rising rates or a perpetually strong USD.

So why the public ruse to “fight” 9% inflation” with 2.5% FFR?

Simple: The Fed sees a recession coming and needs to raise rates today so they’ll have something—anything—to cut tomorrow.

Dovish Pivot Translated

Thus, and as consistently argued, the Fed’s hawkish July chest-puffing will eventually (i.e., when the recession becomes official) lead to some dovish two-stepping as Powell has effectively telegraphed a future rate hike pause by using the magic words “depending on the data.”

In short, I believe the Fed is looking for an excuse to print more dollars and cap more yields/rates with more inflationary mouse-click magic money and hence more Main Street pain—all very bad for a debased yet relatively strong USD and all very good for real monetary metals like gold.

Stated simply, I feel last Wednesday was the first sign/hint of an inevitable Fed pivot from rising rates to pausing rates, and then eventually, falling (YCC) rates and a falling dollar over the coming months and quarters.

We’ll know more at the end of August when Powell scoots off to Jackson Hole as the rest of the US sinks deeper into a recessionary hole.

Recession Translated

And what’s the new excuse for the inevitable pivot to more artificial “accommodation” (i.e., QE) rather than the current and fake “inflation fighting” QT?

Powell described it in Fed-speak as “watching for a slowdown in economic activity.” 

Translated into honest-speak, this just means that Powell’s narrative will be shifting from inflation semantics to recession realities, despite every current effort made from DC to deny a recession.

I’m always impressed by the Fed’s ability to pervert English, math and honesty in the name of fantasy, calm and policy.

As we’ve shown elsewhere with blunt math rather than sensational drama, the Fed, and its minions at the BLS, have literally invented a magical calculator which makes 2+2=1 on everything from CPI Inflation, and the M3 Money Supplyto the current metrics used to turn privately sought negative real rates into publicly positive real rates.

With so much dishonesty from (and hence distrust of) the policy makers, it thus comes as no surprise that even the definition of a recession is now being perverted to supplant reality with fantasy and thus keep the masses comfortably numb from the consequences of the Fed’s increasingly failed monetary policies—namely a Fed-engineered recession to deflate Fed-made inflation.

But can any of us remember the last time a central banker stood up and confessed: “Boy, we really screwed that up, got that wrong, and are now facing years of self-inflicted misery; sorry about that”?

Or can any of us imagine a central banker saying: “OK, we’ve been lying to you for years about true inflation levels, which we actually need to pay down the debts we’ve helped create and which we will now use a recession to quell. Sorry about that.”

A Lesson in Recessionary Realism

Luckily, we’re not interested in the Faustian bargain required to work in DC, so we can all enjoy some honest math and cold data when it comes to confessing recessions.

As most already know, two consecutive quarters of declining real GDP is how recessions are defined and have been defined for years.

Powell, Yellen and Biden’s press secretary, however, will nevertheless assert that the real definition of a recession is suddenly not as simple as that.

Hmmm.

Ok. So how about if we add the following facts (and leading indicators) to help our financial leadership in DC confess that a recession is precisely where we are headed and frankly already standing.

Toward this end, let’s share a few data points they might have overlooked when backpedaling on the “recession” question, namely

1. U.S. New Home Inventories are at the highest levels since 2018 and pending homes sales (reeling under the weight of rising mortgage rates) fell y/y by 20% in June.

2. Housing data is directly linked to tax receipt data. That is, both fall together, and as tax receipt income falls, this too is a recessionary indicator, as falling US tax receipts are equally correlated to falling US stock prices.

3. Advertising budgets/spending policies are falling at places like Amazon, while inventories at places like Walmart are rising as their profits are falling, including names like Target whose stock price tanked by 24% on Q1 earnings misfires; and…

4. Hawkish rate hikes and a strengthening USD are a poison to the earnings flows of such enterprises already in debt up to their ears after years of “free debt” expansion in the backdrop of repressed rates and post-08 unlimited money printing.

By the way, such ad-spend cuts, falling earnings, tanking profits, and new-hire slowdowns seen across the US at retailers like Walmart, Target and Amazon are typical and leading recessionary indicators which often precede/portend future labor layoffs.

5. Consumer confidence among even the higher-income US population is sinking fast:

6. Rising rates and the strong USD policy pursued by Yellen and Powell has made the cost of US entitlements (i.e., health, social security etc.) painfully worse and ultimately unsustainable.

When Yellen was drunk-driving at the Fed, for example, those entitlements were 54% of US tax receipts in 2015; today, as spending increases and inflationary 10% “cost of living adjustments” (COLA) are honestly applied, annual US entitlement payments will very soon reach 90% of US tax receipts.

In short, the current and “hawkish” rising-rate-strong-USD policy at the Eccles building will bankrupt the federal government unless a pivot is made soon to fill the spending gaps and deficits with more fake fiat money—i.e., more QE.

After all, that needed money is certainly not coming from an anemic GDP, a topping and tanking market and hence declining tax receipts.

7. As to Uncle Sam’s embarrassing bar tab, he is facing $23T of outstanding IOU’s, 30% of which are poised to re-price at the end of this year at a higher (6.75%) rather than lower annual rate, which boils down to roughly $460B in additional spending  (12% of tax receipts) just to cover those rising interest expenses.

Thus, unless the Fed hits the “QE-Button” very soon, Uncle Sam will be hiding from his creditors behind the Fed and its currently dim “happy hour” sign.

8. At the global level, nearly every major “developed economy” is little more than a glorified banana republicmathematically staring down the barrel of a sovereign debt crisis as governmental rates (i.e., the cost of borrowing) are rising at the very same time that economic growth and new export orders are sinking:

Meanwhile the Pravda-Like Denial Continues

Despite each of the foregoing hard facts, US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, is leading the official DC chorus in a now openly pathetic effort to deny reality in ways reminiscent of the Soviet era circa 1963.

According to Yellen, and after back-to-back quarters of negative GDP growth, “there’s no evidence of a recession now.”

Such words once again confirm how central bankers are nothing more than word-smith politicians (propagandists?) dressed in banker clothing and broken (free-market) high heels.

Math and hard data are no longer the key focus of our central bankers. Like candor and ethics, they’ve replaced sincere numbers with political nouns and false narratives.

It seems today that along with science, culture, comedy, creativity and history, the very discipline of economics has itself been canceled.

What to Expect?

In such a distorted, desperate and frankly dishonest backdrop of form over substance and false narratives over honest math, what can the rest of us expect from our central planners on high and our real world experience on the ground?

As I recently argued, the Fed knows it will not beat inflation (which it secretly needs) via rising rates.

Instead, Powell will centrally engineer a currently “deniable” recession (which is dis-inflationary) to publicly “combat” otherwise deliberately sought inflation.

Toward this end, these fork-tongued bankers will also pull out their usual tricks and magical calculators to convince the world and markets that officially reported inflation levels are honest (despite being at least 50% under-reported) while simultaneously and deliberately pursuing a policy of negative real rates (i.e., inflation rates above interest rates) as they publicly and dishonesty report them as positive.

So yes, a recession is here, and a longer and deeper one is coming.

The Fed will use words and dishonest math to calm the cognitively dissonant from an abrupt market sell-off or a collective wising up.

As I see it, the Fed can postulate and chest puff a hawkish and rising rate policy for now and perhaps even into the fall.

But unless the Fed in particular, and the major central banks in general, wish to “defeat” inflation by catapulting the world into a global recession whose depth, duration and pain will be extreme, they will have no mathematical nor even political choice but to lower rates, weaken their currencies and fight recessions within their front yards.

As recently argued, no nation, regime nor system in history has conquered a recession by jacking up rates and strengthening their currency.

Given the evidence above, the US is heading straight into a recession and as such will be forced to confront that reality (however downplayed or officially postponed) by cranking out the mouse-click money in a way which will cap yields, debase the dollar and thus be a tailwind for precious metals across the board.

Unless, of course, you think all that data above is fake news and that the Fed has outlawed recessions, in which case all is fine and will always be fine, right?

Tyler Durden
Sun, 08/07/2022 – 10:30

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Political Correctness Hampers Crackdown On Child Sex Grooming Gangs: Sunak

Political Correctness Hampers Crackdown On Child Sex Grooming Gangs: Sunak

Authored by Alexander Zhang via The Epoch Times,

“Political correctness” is standing in the way of tackling child sex grooming gangs in the UK, Conservative leadership contender Rishi Sunak has said.

The former chancellor said, if he becomes party leader and prime minister, he will make sure UK police forces record the ethnicity of members of the paedophile rings, who are predominantly of Pakistani and South Asian heritage.

In an interview with GB News, Sunak said: “I have two young girls who are 9 and 11, and I think for too long we just haven’t focused on this issue.”

“It’s a horrific crime,” he said, adding that it is “far more pervasive across the country than actually we all realise.”

Ethnicity Should Be Recorded

Sunak said:

“We all know the reason that people don’t focus on it. It’s because of political correctness and they’re scared of calling out the fact that there’s a particular group of people who are perpetuating these crimes, and I think that’s wrong, and I want to change that as prime minister.”

He said he wants to make sure that “all police forces record the ethnicity of those involved, which currently is not done because people don’t want to do that.”

He also said he wants to create a “brand new life sentence” for those involved in the child sex rings “with very limited options for parole.”

“I’m not going to let political correctness stand in the way of tackling this absolutely horrific crime. I want to call it out for what it is and I want to tackle it properly,” said the Tory leadership contender.

“A Conservative government should not be letting political correctness stand in the way of keeping people safe,” he said.

Fear of Being Called ‘Racist’

Thousands of English girls are known to have been sexually exploited over the last few decades by the so-called “Asian grooming gangs”—across northern English towns and cities.

In the UK, “Asian” often refers to people from the Indian subcontinent, typically Pakistan, or sometimes even the Middle East.

In June, Greater Manchester Police and Oldham Council said they are “deeply sorry” after a report said both failed to protect girls from grooming gangs between 2011 and 2014 and “missed opportunities” to protect a girl who tried to raise the alarm.

Government ministers and various official reports have since acknowledged that one of the reasons the police and local authorities failed to act was due to the influence of political correctness and fear of being labelled as racist.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 08/07/2022 – 09:20

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The Growing Threat From North Korea

The Growing Threat From North Korea

Authored by Judith Bergman via The Gatestone Institute,

  • China’s urging “flexibility” on North Korea appears to coincide with the Chinese Communist Party’s ambitions in the region.

  • “According to unclassified intelligence reports to Congress, there are five key Chinese banks and a specially created holding company that funds the North Korean missile and nuclear technology programs.” — Peter Huessy, Real Clear Defense, August 10, 2017.

  • China’s main strategic concern when it comes to the Korean peninsula is apparently to end the US presence there and keep it out of US hands so that China can finally establish itself as the hegemon in the region.

  • North Korean escalation in the form of increased missile tests and resumption of ICBM and nuclear tests to pressure the US to make concessions — in the shape of troop withdrawals from South Korea — would play directly into the hands of China, enabling it to replace the US and establish itself as the primary power in the region.

  • “They are looking to take actions, which we believe are fundamentally destabilizing, as a way to increase pressure.” — US official in Washington to journalists, France24.com, January 31, 2022.

  • China, however, seems to have no interest in cooperating with the US on North Korea. Attempts to secure “Beijing’s cooperation” to build necessary economic leverage over North Korea are therefore exercises in futility.

  • China clearly cannot be relied on voluntarily to use its leverage over North Korea to persuade Kim Jong-un to give up his missile and nuclear program. To resolve the impasse, it is necessary to employ means that will leave China no choice other than to cooperate on North Korea.

  • A highly efficient way of doing that, Gordon Chang has suggested, would be to cut off the large Chinese banks and businesses that support the North Korean missile and nuclear technology from the global financial system by designating them a “primary money laundering concern” under Section 311 of the Patriot Act.

  • “In short, American policymakers know how to get China to begin acting responsibly.” — Gordon G. Chang, Newsweek, May 10, 2021.

  • The question now is — will the Biden administration muster the political will to designate those large Chinese banks under Section 311 of the Patriot Act?

North Korea, despite a UN Security Council ban on its ballistic missile tests, continued to develop its nuclear and missile programs in 2021, according to a new UN report. In January 2022 alone, North Korea launched a record 11 missiles, including two hypersonic missiles and the first firing since 2017 of a Hwasong-12 mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile which is within reach of US territory with its estimated range of 4,500 kilometers. In 2017, North Korea tested the Hwasong-15, which has an estimated range of 8,500-13,000 kilometers.

Both US and South Korean officials expressed concern that the Hwasong-12 test indicated that North Korea would resume testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and nuclear weapons.

In addition, North Korea reportedly has an underground military base, used for keeping ICBMs, just 25 kilometers from its border with China. According to analysts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the location was chosen to deter preemptive strikes by the US against the base, to avoid provoking Beijing. “The position near the Chinese border acts as a potential deterrent to a pre-emptive strike that might impinge on Chinese security equities,” noted Victor Cha, a North Korea expert at the CSIS.

“In today’s world where many countries waste time dealing with the United States with submission and blind obedience, there’s only our country on this planet that can shake the world by firing a missile with the U.S. mainland in its range,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “There are more than 200 countries in the world, but only a few have hydrogen bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and hypersonic missiles.” North Korea has said in the past that the Hwasong-12 can carry a “large-size heavy nuclear warhead.”

Eight Security Council members — the United States, Albania, Brazil, France, Ireland, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and Britain — and Japan described North Korea’s Hwasong-12 launch as a “significant escalation” that “seeks to further destabilize the region.”

China, on the other hand, urged “flexibility” on North Korea. “They should come up with more attractive and more practical, more flexible approaches, policies and actions in accommodating concerns” of North Korea, Chinese UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said. “The key in solving this issue is already in the hands of the United States.”

China’s urging “flexibility” on North Korea appears to coincide with the Chinese Communist Party’s ambitions in the region. North Korea’s recent actions were possibly even encouraged by China.

“China, after all, exercises great influence over the North’s ruling Kim family and can, as a practical matter, require the North Koreans to do what it wants,” wrote China expert Gordon G. Chang.

According to some analysts, China has been instrumental in bringing about North Korea’s nuclear weapons’ program. According to Peter Huessy, director of strategic deterrent studies at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies:

“The North Korean nuclear program started in 1965 with the Soviet construction of a 5-megawatt nuclear reactor. But it was Chinese and Pakistani assistance that enabled the North to begin construction on a 50-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon, and a secret reprocessing facility, in the mid-1980s. North Korean construction of a covert uranium enrichment facility around 2000 and North Korea’s first test explosion of a nuclear device in 2006 were likely enabled by assistance from the Pakistani A.Q. Khan, and based on uranium enrichment and nuclear design plans originally obtained from China.”

Crucially, according to Huessy:

“According to unclassified intelligence reports to Congress, there are five key Chinese banks and a specially created holding company that funds the North Korean missile and nuclear technology programs.”

China’s main strategic concern when it comes to the Korean peninsula is seemingly to end the US presence there and keep it out of US hands so that China can finally establish itself as the hegemon in the region. There are currently approximately 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea. That is the third-largest military presence abroad for the US after Japan and Germany. North Korean escalation in the form of increased missile tests and resumption of ICBM and nuclear tests to pressure the US to make concessions — in the shape of troop withdrawals from South Korea — would play directly into the hands of China, enabling it to replace the US and establish itself as the primary power in the region.

“North Korea will likely escalate pressure on the United States by taking a series of steps toward an ICBM test,” said Cheon Seong-whun, a former head of the Korea Institute for National Unification, a government-funded research institute in Seoul.

“They are looking to take actions, which we believe are fundamentally destabilizing, as a way to increase pressure,” a US official in Washington told journalists.

In response to North Korea’s test of the Hwasong-12, the US has called for direct talks with the country “without preconditions.”

“We believe it is completely appropriate and completely correct to start having some serious discussions… It requires a response. You will see us taking some steps that are designed to show our commitment to our allies … and at the same time we reiterate our call for diplomacy. We stand ready and we are very serious about trying to have discussions that address concerns on both sides.”

If the Biden administration wants to resolve the growing North Korean threat, it will have to start doing things differently. It will have to abandon “the same basic North Korea strategy that Washington has used for over two decades,” as pointed out by Markus Garlauskas, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, who served nearly 20 years in the U.S. government dealing with North Korea.

“This strategy has focused on achieving a ‘strategic decision’ from Pyongyang to negotiate an end to its nuclear weapons program and on securing Beijing’s cooperation to build the necessary economic leverage.”

China, however, seems to have no interest in cooperating with the US on North Korea. Attempts to secure “Beijing’s cooperation” to build necessary economic leverage over North Korea are therefore exercises in futility. A new strategy must finally acknowledge China’s role as backer of North Korea for the Chinese Communist Party’s strategic purposes in the region. China clearly cannot be relied on voluntarily to use its leverage over North Korea to persuade Jong-un to give up his missile and nuclear program. To resolve the impasse, it is necessary to employ means that will leave China no choice other than to cooperate on North Korea. A highly efficient way of doing that, Gordon Chang has suggested, would be to cut off the large Chinese banks and businesses that support the North Korean missile and nuclear technology from the global financial system by designating them a “primary money laundering concern” under Section 311 of the Patriot Act.

“And as big as Bank of China is—it is the world’s fourth-largest bank, as measured by assets—it is surely not the largest Chinese bank cleaning up cash for Kim,” Gordon Chang wrote.

“That honor may belong to China’s—and the world’s—largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Moreover, the remaining two of the Big Four, the world’s second- and third-largest banks, have also been implicated in handling dirty money for the Kims. In short, American policymakers know how to get China to begin acting responsibly.”

The question now is – will the Biden administration muster the political will to designate those large Chinese banks under Section 311 of the Patriot Act?

Tyler Durden
Sat, 08/06/2022 – 23:30

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Sowell: The Point Of No Return

Sowell: The Point Of No Return

Authored by Dr. Thomas Sowell,

This is an election year. But the issues this year are not about Democrats and Republicans. The big issue is whether this nation has degenerated to a point of no return – a point where we risk destroying ourselves, before our enemies can destroy us.

If there is one moment that symbolized our degeneration, it was when an enraged mob gathered in front of the Supreme Court and a leader of the United States Senate shouted threats against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying “You won’t know what hit you!”

There have always been irresponsible demagogues. But there was once a time when anyone who shouted threats to a Supreme Court Justice would see the end of his own political career, and could not show his face in decent society again.

You either believe in laws or you believe in mob rule. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with the law or agree with the mob on some particular issue. If threats of violence against judges — and publishing where a judge’s children go to school — is the way to settle issues, then there is not much point in having elections or laws.

There is also not much point in expecting to have freedom. Threats and violence were the way the Nazis came to power in Germany. Freedom is not free. If you can’t be bothered to vote against storm-trooper tactics — regardless of who engages in them, or over what issue — then you can forfeit your freedom.

Worse yet, you can forfeit the freedom of generations not yet born.

Some people seem to think that the Supreme Court has banned abortions. It has done nothing of the sort.

The Supreme Court has in fact done something very different, something long overdue and potentially historic. It has said that their own court had no business making policy decisions which nothing in the Constitution gave them the authority to make.

Get out a copy of the Constitution — and see if you can find anything in there that says the federal government is authorized to make laws about abortion.

Check out the 10th Amendment, which says that the federal government is limited to the specific powers it was granted, with all other powers going to the states or to the people.

Why do we elect legislators to do what the voters want done, if unelected judges are going to make up laws on their own, instead of applying the laws that elected officials passed?

This is part of a very long struggle that has been going on for more than 100 years.

Back in the early 20th century, Progressives like President Woodrow Wilson decided that the Constitution put too many limits on the powers they wanted to use.

Claiming that it was nearly impossible to amend the Constitution, Progressives advocated that judges “interpret” the Constitutional limits out of the way.

This was just the first in a long series of sophistries.

In reality, the Constitution was amended 4 times in 8 years — from 1913 through 1920 — during the heyday of the Progressive era.

When the people wanted the Constitution amended, it was amended. When the elites wanted the Constitution amended, but the people did not, that is called democracy.

Another great sophistry was using the federal government’s authority to regulate interstate commerce to call all sorts of other things interstate commerce. In 1995, elites were shocked when the Supreme Court ruled — 5 to 4— that carrying a gun near a school was not interstate commerce.

States had a right to ban carrying a gun near a school, and most of them did. But the federal government had no such authority. Nor did the Constitution give the federal government the right to make laws about abortion, one way or the other.

What both state and federal laws do have the right to stop is threats against judges and their families.

This is not a partisan issue. The Republican governor of Virginia is providing protection to Supreme Court Justices who live in that state. But the Republican governor of Maryland seems to think that harassing judges and their families is no big deal.

Voters need to find out who is for or against mob rule, whether they are Democrats or Republicans. We are not going to be a free or decent society otherwise.

*  *  *

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 08/06/2022 – 21:30

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UN Chief Urges Tax On Oil Industry For “Grotesque Greed”

UN Chief Urges Tax On Oil Industry For “Grotesque Greed”

Authored by Irina Slav via OilPrice.com,

The secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, lashed out at the oil and gas industry, accusing it of “grotesque greed” and calling for additional taxes on their profits.

Guterres noted that for the first quarter alone, the combined profits of the world’s largest oil and gas companies were ‘close to $100 billion” and urged all governments to tax these profits.

“It is immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the backs of the poorest people and communities, at a massive cost to the climate,” Guterres told media, as quoted by Reuters.

“I urge all governments to tax these excessive profits, and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people through these difficult times,” he also said, adding “And I urge people everywhere to send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry and their financiers: that this grotesque greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people, while destroying our only common home.” 

The UN’s top official is a vocal critic of the oil and gas industry. Earlier this year, he said investing in new oil and gas production was “delusional,” and it would only have negative consequences.

“New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is delusional. It will only further feed the scourge of war, pollution and climate catastrophe,” Guterres said in June.

He has also spoken against coal investment, calling it “stupid” and saying that dependence on fossil fuels was madness.

“Had we invested massively in renewable energy in the past, we should not be so dramatically at the mercy of the instability of fossil fuel markets now,” he said in June.

Big Oil majors all reported massive profits both for the first and second quarters of the year, thanks to higher oil prices. This is not the first time prices have been this high, but it may be the first time majors are being this careful with new spending, which is ironic given Guterres’ remark about delusional oil and gas investments.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 08/06/2022 – 10:30

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UK Gas Crisis Set To Plunge British Pound To Historic Lows, UBS Warns

UK Gas Crisis Set To Plunge British Pound To Historic Lows, UBS Warns

Authored by Charles Kennedy via OilPrice.com,

The British pound is expected to plunge to a historically low level versus the U.S. dollar in the fourth quarter of this year, when the energy and gas crisis in the UK will worsen, according to strategists at the private banking unit of UBS Group.

“We expect GBP/USD to come under pressure this year,” Thomas Flury, head of currency research at UBS Wealth Management, and Dean Turner, UK economist at UBS Private Banking, wrote in a note carried by Bloomberg.

“The euro zone and the UK are both likely to suffer energy supply shortages this winter,” the strategists said.

UBS has reduced its outlook for the British pound to $1.15 in the fourth quarter of 2022, down from a previous estimate of $1.26 per pound sterling.

If UBS’s target turns out right about its $1.15 call, the GBP will have slumped to the levels seen in the early days of the pandemic and the second-lowest level ever, after the low from 1985, according to Bloomberg’s estimates.

Most analysts expect a relatively stable pound at around $1.22 through the end of the year, but UBS believes that the Bank of England’s interest rate hikes will not support the UK currency for long with the looming crisis in the winter when UK energy bills will surge again.

Energy bills in the UK are set to surge more than expected this winter, with many households struggling to be able to pay them after Russia further slashed gas deliveries to Europe, sending gas and energy prices for the winter and for next year soaring, UK-based consultancy BFY Group said last week.

“Huge swathes of the British public aren’t going to be able to afford their bills this winter. Average families with two working parents will be in fuel poverty,” Gemma Berwick, Senior Consultant at BFY Group said, as carried by The Telegraph.  

Tyler Durden
Sat, 08/06/2022 – 09:20

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The Fentanyl Crisis: Brought To You By Drug Prohibition

The Fentanyl Crisis: Brought To You By Drug Prohibition

Authored by Brian McGlinchey via Stark Realities

As drug overdoses continue rising in the United States, one drug has emerged as the most notorious killer of our day: fentanyl. Unfortunately, those clamoring loudest about fentanyl’s death toll support policies that actually bolster its position in the illicit drug trade.

First approved for U.S. medical use in 1968, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to counter severe pain after surgery, and chronic severe pain. Though similar to morphine or heroin, it’s 50 to 100 times more potent.

Most of the fentanyl circulating on the streets doesn’t come from pharmaceutical companies. According to the DEA, black market fentanyl is “primarily manufactured in foreign clandestine labs and smuggled into the United States through Mexico.” China is a major source of its chemical ingredients and some finished product too.

As with other black-market knock-offs, the inconsistency of illicit fentanyl makes it more dangerous. Worse, it’s often laced into other drugs, including cocaine, heroin, marijuana and counterfeit pills disguised as pharmaceutical-grade Oxycontin, Xanax, and Adderall.

Though its effect varies by a user’s size and tolerance, ingesting just 2 milligrams can be fatal. That fact lends itself to jolting descriptions of fentanyl’s lethality by public officials, pundits and click-chasing media. A recent Fox News headline is just one of countless examples of fentanyl sensationalism: “Colorado State Patrol seizes enough fentanyl to kill 25 million people.”

When you consider that, in 2021, there were 108,000 overdose deaths from all drugs in the entire country, you can see where headlines and rhetoric centered on such calculations aren’t meant to enlighten an audience so much as to shock it.

American discourse about fentanyl is further warped by politicians and sloppy journalists who promulgate urban legends about cops and bystanders dying from merely touching fentanyl powder.

For example, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently asked Fox’s Sean Hannity if he’d heard about “a young woman who picked up a dollar bill sitting on the floor of a McDonald’s and fell down” because fentanyl was supposedly on it. “That’s how deadly it is.”

Like many similar tales, this one proved false. Fentanyl can be plenty deadly, but not that way.

Over-the-top fentanyl scaremongering isn’t just about attracting an audience. For some—like McCarthy—it’s an opportunistic means of advancing a goal of reducing illegal immigration via tightened border security.

Setting immigration policy aside and keeping our focus here on fentanyl, we now come to an essential truth that’s little-known either inside or outside of government:

The more you intensify drug interdiction along the border and elsewhere, the more you elevate fentanyl as the drug trade’s import of choice.

Blame it on the “Iron Law of Prohibition.” First put forth by Richard Cowan in 1986, the Iron Law of Prohibition states: “As law enforcement becomes more intense, the potency of prohibited substances increases.”

To appreciate the dynamic, let’s look back to America’s experiment with alcohol prohibition, with some help from the Cato Institute’s Trevor Burrus:

“Smugglers and bootleggers preferred high‐​potency spirits because they are easier to transport illicitly. Consequently, distilled alcohol and fortified wines became almost 90% of alcohol consumption after Prohibition, compared to 40% before…During alcohol Prohibition, speakeasies were essentially bars that only served Everclear.”

Now think about it from a drug trafficker’s perspective: Would you rather try smuggling 10 pounds of fentanyl, a thousand pounds of heroin or a truckload of pot?

Infographic via Filter

The stark reality is that enforcement of drug laws isn’t the answer to the fentanyl crisis—it’s the very reason we have a fentanyl crisis.

That crisis is also driven by regulatory crackdowns on prescription opiates, which drive both addicts and those with legitimate needs away from pills of uniform quality and dosage and into the dicey, deadly realm of black market alternatives.

Consider this: In 2011, oxycodone topped the overdose death charts, with 5,587 fatalities. That led the government to impose new policies to frighten doctors away from prescribing opioids. By 2016, fentanyl was the new top killer, and it was associated with 18,335 deaths — more than triple the 2011 oxycodone tally.

You can build a coast-to-coast border wall that extends 200 feet above and below ground, and fentanyl will keep flowing into the country via other avenues — as it does already to lesser degrees.

The more difficult you make it to move fentanyl, the higher its price goes, inviting new entrants into the black market, and incentivizing the adoption of innovative and more elaborate ways of meeting America’s perpetual demand for intoxicants. At some point, it could even incentivize cartels to move production inside U.S. borders.

Those wouldn’t be the only outcomes. If drug warriors and border hawks somehow manage to make it far more difficult to move fentanyl, fentanyl will likely be dethroned by something worse.

Indeed, earlier this year, an even more dangerous synthetic opioid started making its own grim headlines — it’s called isotonitazene, or ISO, and it’s reportedly 20 times stronger than fentanyl. The Iron Law of Prohibition strikes again.

Prohibition hasn’t just made drugs more dangerous. Just as alcohol prohibition did, drug prohibition also fosters violence among black market operators. When’s the last time you heard of a gunfight breaking out between rival alcohol distributors?

Prohibition also invites many hideous forms of authoritarian excess, to include frequently-fruitless dismantling of vehicles, body cavity searches, and even coerced colonoscopies that come up empty.

In short, drug prohibition’s harmful results far exceed its beneficial ones. Meanwhile, drugs are as readily obtainable today as they were when Richard Nixon declared a federal war on drugs a half-century ago.

So what are we to do? Though it’s contrary to intuition and a shock to many people’s sensibilities, the proper response to the fentanyl crisis and other collateral damage of the war on drugs is clear: across-the-board drug legalization.

That isn’t an endorsement of drug abuse any more than legalized alcohol endorses alcohol abuse — which, it should be noted, has a death toll that rivals if not exceeds that of drug abuse.

Rather, full legalization of both production and possession is the logical position for those who understand that policies must be judged not by their intentions, but by their results.

Stark Realities undermines official narratives, demolishes conventional wisdom and exposes fundamental myths across the political spectrum. Read more and subscribe at starkrealities.substack.com

Tyler Durden
Fri, 08/05/2022 – 23:00

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Revolutions And The Curse Of Democracy

Revolutions And The Curse Of Democracy

Authored by Techno Fog via The Rectionary (emphasis ours),

If we measure the success of a government by how it reflects the will of the people, then our democracy is a failure. This has always been one of the long-discussed dangers of democracy: that it may cease to be a government “by the people.”1 Let us admit that the danger of democracy has been realized.

The revolution you see today had to start at the top because the people – the voters – were unwilling to spark revolutionary change. Power then imposition, through the institutions and the bureaucracies onto the population. Enabled by the constraints on bureaucratic power being unenforced and the limitations on legislative authority being ignored. Elections thought to reflect the will of the people instead force on the people the will of the elected.

The people don’t want to be murdered in the streets, but the policies of criminal-friendly prosecutors – those who predicted their acts would result in innocent deaths – demand their blood.

The people prefer common-sense immigration policies, which include the deportation of criminal illegals. And yet federal and local officials refuse to act, leading to the rape of minors and last year’s decapitation of a Minnesota woman, her body dumped in broad daylight on a residential street. Both acts conducted by illegal immigrants with criminal records.

The people would like to see their children educated. A minority of those in power would pervert the wishes of parents, following the guidance of their predecessors who advocated for American schools to become committed to the proselytization of liberalism and dedicated to achieving a more radical and progressive social order. As a result, we see the state pushing radical gender theory on children, transgender indoctrination of grade schoolers and sex-ed starting in kindergarten. (Andrew Sullivan can object to the grooming all he wants, but he should know the broader revolution that he helped lead won’t stop when he asks nicely.)

The personal costs of the new order are dismissed. All revolutions require sacrifices. Lives are destroyed, children are scandalized, heads are severed, and bodies are buried as they remake the world.

The revolution ceases to be a revolution upon victory. But it won’t end if it’s defeated. It will shift forms and attack other fronts. After all, if the revolution fails to secure its promises, through mistakes or political losses, can it be said that the revolution is really over?2 To paraphrase Richard Rorty, the left will always operate from the premise that our nation is unachieved. It seems its defeat will never be complete eradication, but instead containment and derision, with gender theory kept at the margins with the other nonsense.

Despite the momentum in certain jurisdictions, their victory is thankfully not guaranteed. It is and will be the long revolution. The aspirations of utopia will always be tried, and always just a few steps ahead, but never be realized. Modern liberals, like the communists before them, will ultimately face the decay of their system. In response, they will reject introspection and reform, and instead demand more liberal democracy – that is, more control and more extremes – to set things right.3 What lies at the end of that democratic road is “a new despotism.”4

Subscribers can read more here…

Tyler Durden
Fri, 08/05/2022 – 22:20

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