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The Plan for America
Substack Daily Dose 9/20/2023
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Stocks retreated on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it would leave interest rates unchanged but indicated another hike on the horizon.
The S&P 500 dropped 0.94% to 4,402.20. The Nasdaq Composite slid 1.53% to 13,469.13, weighed on by a drop of more than 2% in Microsoft and roughly 3% declines in Nvidia and Google-parent Alphabet. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 76.85 points, or 0.22%, to 34,440.88.
The three major indexes closed at session lows.
Remember the children’s song, “Them Bones, Them Bones, Them Dry Bones”? It goes, “The ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone, the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone.” I always messed that song up. I just knew when the song was over, all the bones were connected! What recently happened with the Federal Reserve reminds me of that song.
On June 29th, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced that 57 firms have been certified to utilize its new instant payments system called “FedNow.” The Federal Reserve said 41 banks and 15 service providers would be “early adopters” after its late July launch. The Federal Reserve officially launched this “wonderful” new product, and FedNow is now live at 35 banks. Major banks, such as JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, are two of the early adopters, as is the U.S. Treasury.
What is FedNow?
FedNow is a new service that will immediately allow the transfer of funds. Everything will be run through the Federal Reserve so that each transaction will happen fast. Since this is the public’s first interaction with using the Fed directly, it will take some adjusting. So, if the Fed gives the public a little taste after they get a little taste, they’ll be all in and wanting more. Then, they can start incorporating the complete plan. That’s what this is all about.
The Federal Reserve claims this is the alternative to a CBDC — a Central Bank Digital Currency. But really, what this is is a stepping stone to a CBDC. Once the public gets more comfortable with the speed of FedNow and the system is accepted as the standard procedure, you’ll get a Central Bank Digital Currency.
Uniform Commercial Code
A few steps must be completed before a full-blown CBDC system can be launched successfully. This is where the Uniform Commercial Code comes into play. The Uniform Commercial Code is a set of rules governing commercial transactions to hold assets as collateral on loans and contracts. Lenders use the Uniform Commercial Code to prevent borrowers from selling the collateral or obtaining additional financing using that same collateral as security.
Lawmakers in Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, and New Hampshire have recently adopted laws that address digital assets; this is known as UCC Article 12. Eventually, all fifty states will have lawmakers looking at updating the Uniform Commercial Code to establish a foundation for a future Central Bank Digital Currency.
Central Bank Digital Currency
Central Bank Digital Currency is not really money. So, how will the commercial code deal with that? You can’t put Central Bank Digital Dollars in your pocket and walk out the door. That means Digital Dollars won’t be in your actual possession. Currently, digital money, like Bitcoin, is something you can put on a thumb drive. That’s something you can possess. But with digital currency, you won’t be able to do that. Central Bank Digital Dollars will not be something you can physically control. This is why lawmakers are updating the Uniform Commercial Code the way they are.
To make a payment, the sender and receiver must have bank accounts that are part of the FedNow network. Current payment platforms such as PayPal and Venmo are not directly deposited into a bank account. There is a processing window, so those funds could take a day or two before they are available. FedNow will eliminate that waiting period. Will that be enough incentive for this new structure to be accepted?
Changing how a nation’s currency is used for both buyer and seller and making a change of that magnitude is a process that will not happen overnight. If their goal is to get people excited about and eager to use it, you start slowly and watch as you gradually gain total acceptance.
Remember the frog in the kettle illustration? If you drop a frog in a kettle of boiling water, it will jump out immediately as it reacts to the pain. But, if you put the frog in room temperature water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will stay in the kettle and eventually cook to death.
The frog in the kettle illustration fits because, like that frog, the Federal Reserve will need to get people comfortable with using this system, and to do that, it will need to be fast and convenient. Who wouldn’t want their money right away? Having funds in your account instantly feels like a win without waiting for a check or ACH to clear. Your current balance and your available balance would instantly be the same.
Another key will be to get as many people voluntarily using this platform as soon as possible. I assume we can expect to receive generous offers, such as highlighting how unbelievably convenient this will be and offering free or cheap transactions to secure achieving this goal.
If our government were to close the current system on Friday and open a brand-new digital system on Monday morning, there would be resistance and rebellion. But by doing it slowly, they can achieve acceptance.
For now, the early infrastructure is in place for CBDCs. Remember them bones; they end up being all connected. Well, the launch of FedNow will be one of the bones connected to Central Bank Digital Currency. Is that not good?
CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act
On February 22, 2023, Tom Emmer, a U.S. Congressman from Minnesota, posted on X (Formerly Twitter), “Today, I introduced the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act to halt efforts of unelected bureaucrats in Washington, DC from stripping Americans of their right to financial privacy.”
Seven months later, on Tuesday, September 12th, Congressman Emmer announced that he and 49 other lawmakers have reintroduced the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act. So now, Fifty U.S. lawmakers have reintroduced the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act to prohibit the Federal Reserve from issuing a Central Bank Digital Currency, which is in direct opposition to the World Economic Forum’s agenda, which seeks to remove all personal freedoms and privacy with things like a social credit scores and surveillance.
The Devaluating of the Dollar
Once it’s all in place and running smoothly, the final transition from cash money to digital money would be a matter of the central bank devaluing our cash and allowing people to trade their cash for equal digital value. Once CBDCs are in place, especially if they are the only option, your every transaction will be monitored, your spending data will be stored, and your purchasing choices can then be controlled. This could evolve to controlling almost every aspect of our lives.
If history repeats itself, (i.e., the pandemic injections), those who don’t adapt to the new FedNow and CBDC will be mocked and treated with suspicion. Once this change is fully implemented, it will be nearly impossible to do anything without it.
Now that FedNow is live and the beginning of a soft way to move us all over into using a federal money-transfer system is in place, it will be extremely easy to implement CBDCs, and the digital dollar will end freedom as we know it.
Programable Digital Currency
Understand, for now, FedNow is NOT a CBDC. It’s just a payment gateway. But now, the early infrastructure is in place for CBDCs. Digital currency is completely programable. When something is programable, the rules that start a program off may not be the same rules down the road. Meaning that rules can change; rules can change whenever those in control say things are changing.
This means the day may come when you try to make a purchase and use your digital card, which is denied. And you won’t have any way, other than that card, to be able to buy what you need. That’s how absolute control of your life will be handed over. Someone other than you will have complete oversight and control of your finances. And you will have no say, recourse, or privacy.
-David Bowen, Harbinger’s Daily
A group of Africans attacked a security guard who confronted them while they looted a grocery store in a town in Germany plagued by criminal migrants, according to reports.
The incident unfolded at around 8:30 p.m. on Monday night in Soeste, located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
A security guard at a supermarket in the town observed four men stuffing items into their jackets and bags before attempting to flee the store.
“The store detective tried to prevent at least one of the accused from escaping. He was hit with a cloth bag that was presumably filled with a bottle,” Soest Police explained in a press release.
“A bottle of beer was also thrown at the injured party, which fortunately missed its target.”
The men escaped but were tracked down and temporarily arrested at ZUE Soest, a “central accommodation facility for refugees.”
They were identified as three Tunisian nationals between the ages of 22 and 29, and a 40-year-old Moroccan man.
It is unclear if they will face any charges.
Last week, a Syrian migrant who lives at ZUE Soest was arrested for stabbing a local cafe worker in the neck, nearly killing him.
German authorities hid information about the suspect’s nationality and background in an ensuing statement, simply calling the suspect a “24-year-old from Soest.”
On the same day in Soest, two men of “southern appearance” — indicating they are likely migrants from North Africa or the Middle East — looted a local grocery store, although it is unclear if it was the same shop raided on Monday.
Infowars frequently covers violent crimes committed by foreign suspects in Germany.
-Dan Lyman, Infowars
With price inflation running rampant in Japan, Japanese households are rushing to buy gold.
The sudden surge in demand, along with the devaluation of the yen, has driven the price of gold to record highs in yen terms.
The yen fell sharply against the dollar this year as decades of easy money finally caught up with the Bank of Japan. The Japanese currency recently rose above ¥146.5 against the dollar
The central bank managed to print yen for decades, but as it always does, monetary inflation has now reared its ugly head in the form of price inflation.
According to the Financial Times, the sudden rush into gold and the rise in retail gold prices in Japan “was part of a rapid shift in household attitudes to risk as years of deflation have given way to rising consumer prices.”
While the yen doesn’t enjoy the dollar’s reserve currency status, it has historically been considered a safe haven asset. That allowed the Japanese government and central bank to get away with inflationary policies for a lot longer than it might have otherwise. Nevertheless, when you keep creating currency out of thin air, it will eventually lead to price inflation. (Americans should take note.)
According to Japan Catalyst Fund economist Jesper Koll, an urgent search for inflation protection after years will little incentive to move out of cash is driving the flight to gold in Japan.
The fact that gold is a non-yen asset helps, but the trigger is inflation.”
Eiichiro Kato serves as the GM for Tanaka Kikinzoku’s Precious Metals Retail Department. He told the Financial Times that gold had become particularly attractive to customers concerned about the yen’s fall to multi-decade lows and their assets being denominated in yen. He went on to explain that global central bank gold buying, economic news from the US, and Fed monetary policy were driving the decision to buy gold in yen with the hope that the dollar-denominated gold price would remain “high and stable.
We do not see many factors that would cause the dollar-denominated price to fall significantly, and we think that the yen-denominated price could rise further if the yen continues to weaken.”
Gold demand recently drove the piece above the ¥10,000 per gram level for the first time.
Occasional desperation intervention aside – as long as there was no signal from the Bank of Japan that it is ready to tighten its ultra-loose policy which won’t happen for a long time (and when it does, it will spark a collapse in the JGB bond market forcing the trapped BOJ to immediately reverse once again) demand for gold in Japan will only keep rising.”
-Schiff Gold, Infowars
FBI lost count of how many paid informants were at Capitol on Jan. 6, and later performed audit to figure out exact number: ex-official
The FBI had so many paid informants at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that it lost track of the number and had to perform a later audit to determine exactly how many “Confidential Human Sources” run by different FBI field offices were present that day, a former assistant director of the bureau has told lawmakers.
At least one informant was communicating with his FBI handler as he entered the Capitol, according to Steven D’Antuono, formerly in charge of the bureau’s Washington field office.
D’Antuono has testified behind closed doors to the House Judiciary Committee that his office was aware before the riot that some of their informants would attend a “Stop the Steal” rally thrown by former President Donald Trump, but he only learned after the fact that informants run by other field offices also were present, along with others who had participated of their own accord.
The Washington field office had to ask FBI headquarters “to do a poll or put out something to people saying w[ere] any CHSs involved,” he said, so they could get a handle on the scale of the FBI’s spying operations at the Capitol that day.
“We started getting responses back” from FBI headquarters, added D’Antuono, which helped identify which field offices had planted confidential informants in the crowd.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File
One paid informant from the Kansas City field office was at the Capitol as the crowd surged inside and allegedly was in communication with his FBI handler “while they were in the crowd, I think, saying that they were going in,” according to the former bureau brass.
“They were trying to stop some of the action happening and they left or whatnot.”
Asked how many informants the audit discovered were in the crowd that day, D’Antuono would only say “a handful.”
The FBI spends an average of $42 million each year in payments to its Confidential Human Sources, according to the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, which has raised concerns about the vetting process for these paid informants.
Image Credit: Steven D’Antuono, the former head of the FBI Washington field office, said there were “a handful” of paid informants at the Capitol. Sarah Silbiger/Pool via REUTERS.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) described D’Antuono’s testimony as “extremely concerning.”
It suggests that “the FBI cannot adequately track the activities and operations of its informants, and that it lost control of its CHSs present at the Capitol on January 6,” he wrote.
“These revelations reinforce existing concerns, identified by Special Counsel [John] Durham, about the FBI’s use of, and payment to, CHSs who have fabricated evidence and misrepresented information.
“The Justice Department Inspector General also identified critical problems in the FBI’s CHS program,” Jordan added, “including the FBI’s failure to fully vet CHSs and the FBI’s willingness to ignore red flags that would call into question an informant’s reliability.”
Image Credit: Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, 2021. AFP via Getty Images.
Jordan has asked Wray to provide a “substantive briefing” on how the FBI used paid informants on Jan. 6, 2021, and “any specific guidelines or admonishments that were provided to FBI CHSs prior to deploying.”
Wray has also been asked to provide all debriefing documents received from Capitol riot informants.
Jordan also wants source reporting documentation relating to former British spy Christopher Steele, who was responsible for a now-notorious “dossier of false allegations about the Trump-Russia hoax.”
The number of FBI informants present during the Capitol riot has long been a controversial topic at trials of the hundreds of defendants apprehended since that day.
Image Credit: According to D’Antuono, at least one informant was communicating with an FBI handler as he was entering the Capitol building. REUTERS/Ahmed Gaber/File Photo.
Defense lawyers at the trial of five “Proud Boys” recently asserted that the FBI had as many as eight informants spying on the organization and that at least one was with them at the Capitol that day.
Former Capitol Hill Police Chief Steven Sund has said that, in addition to the paid informants, the FBI had at least 18 undercover agents in the crowd plus an estimated 20 from the Department of Homeland Security.
-Miranda Devine, New York Post
EXCLUSIVE: Oil and gas workers association with 47,000 members endorses TRUMP in 2024 - in blow to DeSantis on day he unveils his energy plan in Texas
'Governor DeSantis says a lot of the right things, right, but his track record isn't there,' Oil and Gas Workers Association President Matt Coday told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
He cited Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, his decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal, and the former president's work to save American oil and gas jobs as the reason for the endorsement.
The announcement comes the same day DeSantis announced his energy policy, which includes plans to increase US oil and gas production with the goal of achieving $2 gas in 2025.
Image Credit: The Oil and Gas Workers Association is endorsing Donald Trump for president. AFP via Getty Images.
'I will ensure that this country does not have to rely on hostile nations for its energy needs ever again,' DeSantis said in a speech in Midland, Texas.
DeSantis's announcement comes as he tries to position himself as the policy-focused GOP candidate. His campaign has been trailing in the polls.
During his remarks, he attacked DeSantis on ethanol, a huge industry in Iowa due to the state's corn crops.
The Oil and Gas Association, based 30 minutes away from Midland in Odessa, Texas, has 47,000 members nationwide, including in Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Alaska.
Energy is a huge concern for voters in the 2024 presidential race. Rising fuel costs have contribute to rising inflation.
'President Trump has been the most pro-American Oil & Gas Workers president ever, with 11.3 million jobs supported by our vital industry in 2019. Under President Trump's leadership, our country became energy dominant. The booming economy of the Trump years benefitted every American,' the Oil and Gas Association will say when it formally announces its endorsement, according to the statement obtained by DailyMail.com.
Republicans also see rising gas prices as a political vulnerability for President Joe Biden, who has championed renewable energy and curtailed oil leasing on federal land.
Coday said it was Trump's record as president that led to his organization's endorsement and he slammed Biden's policies.
'Under President Trump's administration, America became a net exporter, became energy dominant,' he said. 'Our economy boomed and benefited every American. We don't have that today with Joe Biden in the White House. His intent and and obviously actions to kill our oil and gas jobs. They hurt our economy and threaten our national security.'
He criticized Biden's push for more jobs in the renewable energy sector, arguing that more oil means lower gas prices.
'Joe Biden proves our point every time he releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, that more oil equals lower gas prices. Unfortunately, for every American Joe Biden drained our Strategic Petroleum Reserves,' he said.
Image Credit: Announcement came the same day Ron DeSantis was in Texas to announce his energy policy. Getty Images.
Image Credit: Republicans see energy policy as a winning issue against President Joe Biden. Alamy stock photo.
Gas prices have fluctuated under Biden, reaching record highs at times in his presidency.
Biden tapped into the country's strategic petroleum reserves to help alleviate high prices. The reserve held 350.6 million barrels of oil as of September 8th, down nearly 300 million barrels since he took office.
Coday founded the Oil and Gas Workers Association, a trade group, in 2015 when he was an oilfield truck driver. The group's past endorsements include Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Jeff Landry.
Trump, as president, supported energy development on federal land, including gas and oil drilling in national forests and near national monuments and parks. He implemented his 'America First Energy Plan' and signed executive orders to approve two controversial oil pipelines: the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline.
As governor, DeSantis opposed some of Trump's energy policies. He threated he would 'be raising Cain' if then-President Trump opened Florida's coastal waters to drilling, citing concerns about oil spills.
In 2019, he signed an executive order to 'oppose all off-shore oil and gas activities off every coast in Florida and hydraulic fracturing in Florida.'
In 2020, his administration purchased 20,000 acres of Everglades wetlands to permanently protect them from oil drilling.
Now DeSantis says he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement and roll back subsidies for electric vehicles.
Biden, as president, reversed many of Trump's orders, including returning the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement.
The president has set an ambitious U.S. goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.
His Inflation Reduction Act included $370 billion for a clean energy and climate package, which includes incentives for Americans to buy electric vehicles.
-Emily Gooden, Daily Mail
Image Credit: Lin Wood speaks to the media outside of U.S. District Court on Dec. 3, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. APU GOMEZ / GETTY IMAGES
FORMER MAGA ATTORNEY Lin Wood is a witness for the state in Georgia’s election interference RICO case against the former president and 18 others. Wood, who retired from practicing law earlier this year to avoid disbarment, worked as a member of Trump’s legal team in the aftermath of the 2020 election and heavily promoted claims that the election had been rigged against the former president.
According to a Wednesday filing to the Fulton County Superior Court, which seeks a resolution to potential conflicts of interest between attorneys for Trump and several of his co-defendants, Wood is a witness for the prosecution.
“L. Lin Wood, Coreco Ja’Quan Perason, Vikki Townsend Consiglio, Gloria Kay Godwin, James Kenneth Carroll, and Carolyn Hall Fisher, are witnesses for the State in the present case. Sidney Katherine Powell and Cathleen Alston Latham are Defendants in the present case,” the filing reads.
Harry W. MacDougald, who is representing Jeff Clarke in the Georgia case “also previously represented and was co-counsel to L. Lin Wood in Wood v. Raffensperger.”
Prosecutors claim that “there is a significant risk that the Rules of Professional Conduct may be violated, which may compromise the rights of certain witnesses for the State of Georgia should those witnesses be cross-examined by their former attorneys.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Wood said that he had been informed he was “going to be subpoenaed as a witness,” but had no other information on the matter.
Hours later, Wood wrote on Telegram that there is “NO TRUTH” to accusations that he “flipped” on the former president. “I have no idea why I am being asked to testify at the trial. I have had no discussions with the DA’s office since I testified before the special grand jury several months ago,” he added.
Trump and his co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Rolling Stone reported on Wednesday that the growing pile of legal troubles faced by the former president has him raising concerns to his attorneys that he may actually end up in prison.
-Nikki McCann Ramirez, Rolling Stone
Inside Colony Ridge: The ‘Fastest Growing Development’ In The U.S. Is A Magnet For Illegal Immigrants
PLUM GROVE, Texas — A Texas land developer has established a sprawling settlement north of Houston where thousands of illegal immigrants are believed to have settled, raising concerns among experts and elected officials that the development 400 miles in the interior of the United States could become a strategic asset for cartels.
Located in Liberty County, Texas near the small town of Plum Grove, the Colony Ridge development is a sprawling community that, based on an analysis of publicly available information, is now over 60 square miles and nearly the size of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Its population is estimated to be anywhere between 50,000 to 75,000, and it is growing rapidly thanks to a marketing plan targeted at Texas’ hispanic population.
The Daily Wire surveyed the development by helicopter to assess the true extent of its growth. The flight began in the wealthy Woodlands neighborhood, but it was only minutes before the designer homes and pools gave way to half-built homes, dilapidated trailers, and heaps of trash.
Houses on the ground fly the flags of foreign countries and many homes display their addresses on spray painted pieces of plywood. Many structures, some of which are not hooked up to running water, were under construction, while others were unfinished but didn’t appear to be actively getting worked on. At least one plot of land didn’t have any structures at all, just a tent in the corner, nestled between shrubs. Stray dogs without collars could be seen trotting along the side of the underdeveloped streets.
But despite what appears to be poor living conditions throughout much of the development, Colony Ridge is exploding. The view from the sky revealed a sprawling labyrinth of roundabouts and endless rows of sidewalkless streets, with empty plots waiting to be developed. The edges of the property are dotted with construction vehicles, each one tasked with cutting and clearing the surrounding forest to make way for yet more growth.
A calculation performed based on acreage and lot data provided on the Colony Ridge website for each of their six subdivisions found that it was already more than 60 square miles, which is bigger than major southern cities such as Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Asheville, North Carolina.
Colony Ridge, owned and operated by developer William “Trey” Harris, is rapidly expanding, at least in part due to a financing arrangement that makes it possible for illegal aliens to buy land deep in the heart of Texas. While traditional financing methods require credit ratings and proof of income, Todd Bensman, a National Security Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Wire that buyers at Colony Ridge are able to circumvent the usual requirements, even dodging the need to provide a social security number.
“Because with a traditional bank loan you need to be able to show that you have a credit rating and proof of income,” Bensman said, adding that buyers at Colony Ridge are asked to pay as little as a “few hundred dollars” as a down payment. “The loan is directly from the developer, bypassing traditional mortgages,” and while the buyer might pay high interest rates near 15%, it’s a great deal for someone with no other option to buy land in the country, Bensman explained.
Doing business as Terrenos Houston (which translates to Houston Land), the company appears to market its property entirely in Spanish, telling prospective buyers they can own land in the United States. An advertisement posted on the Instagram page for Terrenos Houston appears to target those who are either not currently living in the United States or who are not citizens of the country. The caption of the post, written in Spanish, roughly translates to “Still renting? Own land in the United States!”
It encourages potential buyers to reach out via Whatsapp, known as “a go-to app for millions of people who need to communicate internationally” because it “operates using an internet connection, bypassing traditional international calling restrictions and fees.” Numerous posts are hashtagged “#EstadosUnidos.”
But in addition to marketing to those who might want to “own land in the United States,” many of the development’s employees appear to be foreign nationals, living in Colombia and other Latin American countries, according to the Terrenos Houston LinkedIn profile.
The plots of land come with nothing on them and at an affordable price — the current offer is two adjacent plots of land for $65,000, with the buyers responsible for constructing a place to live.
Likely due to the massive influx of migrants into Texas since President Joe Biden took office in 2021, Bensman told The Daily Wire that Colony Ridge “is in the midst of maybe its greatest boom ever.”
Michael Yon, an independent journalist who has repeatedly flown over and driven through Colony Ridge to document its expansion, projects that the development will soon house hundreds of thousands.
“I don’t know how many live there now, but this is going to be big enough for 200,000 people,” Yon told The Daily Wire. “They’re actually building a city.”
Part 2. Welcome to the largest illegal immigrant no-go sanctuary city in America. Colony Ridge in Liberty County Texas from an airplane today. Vast expansion clearing underway not pictured, w/ @Michael_Yon pic.twitter.com/whJ0ob55M2
— Todd Bensman (@BensmanTodd) June 14, 2023
William Trey Harris, the developer, did not respond to request for comment. Within days of the initial inquiry, however, an article was published by The Center Square featuring “exclusive” comment from both Harris and his attorney to push back against claims that Colony Ridge has become the “largest illegal alien settlement in Texas.”
In it, Harris and his lawyer state that the company does not advertise outside of the United States, but acknowledge that accommodations are made for applicants who may not have a social security number. “Depending on the application, customers provide Social Security numbers, ITINs, Texas driver’s licenses, state IDs, passports and other forms of identification,” Harris explained to the outlet, which goes on to state that there is nothing illegal about noncitizens buying land in the United States and that property developers are not legally required to check immigration status — that’s on the federal government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, it contends. (The Center Square reporter Bethany Blankley did not respond to a request for comment on how its story came about.)
Bensman, however, says that one of the reasons Colony Ridge is appealing is the thin law enforcement in the area, which is struggling to keep up with the exploding population.
“There’s very thin law enforcement presence in that area,” he added. “It’s appealing because they plan to live and work illegally. That means that they probably have to break a whole lot of different kinds of laws in order to buy vehicles and drive the vehicles and maybe show documents to potential employers. When people buy here, they’re buying peace of mind from law enforcement.”
A representative of the Liberty County Sheriff’s office told The Daily Wire its officers do not check immigration status in routine stops because it “would take forever.” He said the immigration status of suspects would only be checked when investigating violent crimes.
Republican congressman Brian Babin, who represents a neighboring Texas district and also recently surveyed the development by helicopter, says Colony Ridge has doubled in size in recent years and is concerned about cartel activity.
“It was very concerning to fly over it. It’s got an enormous footprint. In the three years since I last saw it, it looks like it’s pretty much doubled in size,” Babin told The Daily Wire. “There is word that the cartels are playing a role in this area.”
Representative Babin is not the only one concerned about potential cartel activity in the area. Members of law enforcement in the area explained that members of the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels had invested in Colony Ridge properties early on in order to set up safe houses for human and drug smuggling operations, Bensman reports in his book.
“The Mexican cartels are very active in that they run safe houses, they run drugs, they do marijuana grows, they commit crimes,” Bensman explained, citing conversations he’s had with law enforcement. “This is a homeland security issue. It’s a public safety issue.”
The site and the surrounding area have been the site of both drug-related and violent crime, including a gang and narcotics case that began with reports of gunfire exchanges, as well as the murder of a mother of five by a Mexican woman who reportedly practiced Santeria, and was married to a high ranking Mexican cartel member.
Last year, a 16-year old girl was found dead from a gunshot wound in a ditch in Colony Ridge. And earlier this year an illegal immigrant in the area killed five neighbors, a family who was also here illegally, after they reportedly asked him to stop firing his semi-automatic rifle into the air late one night.
Cartel activity in the area appears to date back until at least the early 2010’s, with agents from five different federal agencies and law enforcement in Liberty County having discovered a massive marijuana growing operation in 2013. The sophisticated operation included guard towers and a 20 foot-deep irrigation pond the size of a football field. More than $4 million worth of marijuana was recovered.
The massive pocket of illegal immigrants in the backyard of America’s fourth largest city has somehow avoided serious scrutiny, and critics point the finger at some Texas lawmakers who have made a career out of calling for a strong border.
“There are some serious allegations that Republican politicians are involved in the development,” Chris Russo, the President of Texans for Strong Borders, told The Daily Wire, citing “massive political donations that’ve been made by the developers.”
Russo pointed to Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, who has taken $1.4 million in political contributions from Trey Harris, according to campaign records. Harris’ wife, Celeste Harris, also donated $100,000 to Abbott’s campaign in 2018, records show. Her occupation is listed as “Colony Ridge Development.”
Asked about Colony Ridge, Abbott spokesman Andrew Mahaleris told The Daily Wire that the governor deployed public safety troopers to Liberty County to support the sheriff’s office but has not received requests for additional deployments. Mahaleris also said, “The Governor’s office will ensure the 2017 law the Governor signed banning sanctuary cities is upheld.”
When asked about the large political contributions, Abbott’s office did not return a comment.
Other Republicans who have received money from Harris include Texas congressman Morgan Luttrell, who received three maximum contributions of $2,900 in the 2022 cycle. Luttrell told The Daily Wire he “just recently learned” about Colony Ridge.
“I just recently learned about this area, and although it is not in my district, I am supporting Congressman Babin’s efforts to address any concerns or wrongdoings and protect our neighbors,” Luttrell said, referencing his colleague who has been critical of the development.
“We are working closely with local elected officials and law enforcement to determine what actions we can take to address problems that may exist,” he said, specifically highlighting “cartel presence,” “gang activity,” and “trafficking.”
“Regardless of any donation amount, the Congressman is beholden to no one,” his spokesman added when pressed on the campaign contributions, though he would not say whether he would return the contributions, or accept more in the future.
Harris has also made political contributions to state lawmakers in the area. He donated $5,000 to State Rep. Briscoe Cain, who represents neighboring house district 128, in 2020. Cain did not respond to a request for comment.
Harris also donated $1,800 to State Rep. Ernest Bailes, who represents House District 18, where Colony Ridge is located. With Bailes, the financial web grows more complicated — public records indicate that a construction and development company owned by a family member of Bailes was hired to conduct a massive project for Colony Ridge.
R&T Ellis, a pipeline construction, earthwork, and clearing company, paved the way for Colony Ridge’s expansion. The company boasted in 2018 that they helped build the “largest roller-compacted concrete development in the world,” referencing just one portion of the Colony Ridge development that consisted of 6,400 lots, 4,400 acres, and over 70 miles of road. The company is owned by Randy Ellis — who appears to be a cousin of Bailes. He was also the single biggest donor to Bailes in the 2020 election cycle, contributing $10,000 in the 2020 election cycle and $1,000 in 2017.
Entergy, the energy company that services all six of the subdivisions that comprise Colony Ridge, also contributed $9,000 to Bailes through its political action committee, across the 2018, 2020, and 2022 election cycles.
State records show that Colony Ridge has spent anywhere from $221,750 to $482,879 for the services of lobbyist Chuck Rice and attorney Natalie Scott at Coat and Rose. Coat and Rose’s political action committee donated $6,500 to Bailes.
Bailes did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily Wire.
Russo says lawmakers should launch a “full scale investigation into the development.” He’s concerned that if Colony Ridge isn’t stopped in Texas, the business model could be adopted elsewhere.
“The state should take an interest in banning these types of loans that have enabled it to become a magnet for illegal aliens,” Russo said. “When you see the expansion it suggests that this is a very profitable enterprise.”
While it remains unclear exactly how many people live at Colony Ridge, estimates suggest that the population in the development could include tens of thousands of illegal aliens.
A Texas Public Policy Foundation report from 2020 contended that there were approximately 20,000 residents living in Colony Ridge at the time. The number has since surged, with Colony Ridge itself stating in January that their Santa Fe development, just one of six developments that make up the entire operation, has 35,000 residents.
“Prior to the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the population of Colony Ridge’s master planned Houston El Norte communities was on a trajectory to surpass 100,000 in just a few short years,” the three year-old report reads. It notes that the development could eventually balloon to more than a quarter-million residents.
The January statement added that the developer was “selling 200-250 lots every week, growing on average 150-200 new rooftops per month,” and called it “the fastest growing development in the U.S.”
The Texas Public Policy Foundation report said Liberty County was now home to “the fastest-growing Hispanic population in the United States,” and that the local Cleveland Independent School District is struggling to manage more than 100 new enrollments every month, forcing the residents to sign up for $300 million in bonds to finance four new schools and the expansion of a fifth. The district has also struggled with the sudden surge of students who are not proficient in English, and is now offering $7,000 annual stipends to bilingual teachers.
The town of Plum Grove sued Colony Ridge in 2020, alleging that the development was responsible for flooding and that it failed to contain sewage, but a judge ruled that Colony Ridge was not to blame, according to local press. Harris struck back a year later and sued the city officials, accusing them of “impeding” his business operations. Part of the lawsuit focused on the city government’s decision to hire a Houston-based private investigator named Wayne Dolcefino to look into the Colony Ridge development. The lawsuit claimed that it was an “attempt to smear the reputation” of Colony Ridge. His case was dismissed.
Harris conceded to Center Square that Colony Ridge allows purchasers to use individual taxpayer identification numbers rather than social security numbers on applications — an option that has been highlighted by pro-illegal immigration groups as a way for migrants to get a foothold in the United States.
The National Immigration Law Center, a group that advocates on behalf of illegal immigrants and has received over $2 million from liberal billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, cites individual taxpayer identification numbers as useful tools for illegal immigrants hoping to obtain a mortgage. California-based activist organization Immigrants Rising also boasts that “People who are ineligible for a Social Security number can apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number, regardless of immigration status.”
Though Harris and his legal team maintain they’re doing nothing illegal, national security experts say the danger posed by developments like Colony Ridge will only get worse as illegal immigrants flood the country.
“Think of the chain migration that comes in, think of the criminal elements with the cartels that come in through that chain migration,” J. Michael Waller, Senior Analyst for Strategy at the Center for Security Policy told The Daily Wire. “This is going to be cartel land near Houston and at risk of being a no-go zone.”
Waller said developments like Colony Ridge will “change the entire United States of America,” and to a large extent, already have, going on to suggest that similar settlements are “being planted in pockets around the country.”
“They have no idea of the American founding, of American founding principles, they haven’t taken any training in what it means to be an American or what the American way of life is all about,” he added before lamenting “This is just symptomatic of the destruction of our country.”
-Spencer Lindquist, Daily Wire
Earlier this month, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey declared a state of emergency in response to the surging number of migrants in state-managed shelters. Then, last week, the governor mobilized the National Guard to assist with the migrant crisis. Now, residents are outraged with the governor's decision to house the migrants as Biden's southern border crisis spreads nationwide.
Local newspaper The Bourne Enterprise reports anger spreads across the Cape Cod peninsula as "residents turned out in force to express opposition to the state's opting to provide temporary housing for migrant families who have been relocated to Massachusetts."
"Protesters outside the building that evening held signs reading "Americans First"; inside, residents at the lectern cited potential board of health regulations, as well as concerns with whether the public school system can accommodate children from the immigrant families," the paper said.
Dozens of residents attended the Bourne Select Board meeting at the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center earlier this month to voice their opposition to Gov. Healey's plan to transform parts of the Joint Base Cape Cod and local area hotels into migrant shelters.
Gov. Healey recently asked US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas for help to combat the migrant crisis after her Democratic colleagues in the White House and on Capitol Hill have been determined to undermine Trump-era border policies for open border ones - that have led to millions of illegals pouring into the country over the last several years.
The governor has stated, "Massachusetts is in a state of emergency," and commended the deployment of the National Guard to assist with the migrant crisis.
In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams warned in recent weeks that the migrant crisis will "destroy" the metro area.
It's all fun and games for Democrats until Biden's disastrous open border policies flood progressive metro areas with illegals.
Then these Democrats preach "NIMBY."
-Tyler Durden, Zerohedge
BREAKING POINT reached: NYC, other sanctuary cities “tired” of illegal immigrants influx, struggle with local resources
Mayors of "sanctuary cities" New York, Chicago, and other large cities are past their breaking point and now struggling with resources due to the influx of illegal immigrants coming into their jurisdictions.
Most recently, New York City Mayor Eric Adams claimed that the mass migration of illegals into his city has led to an "unprecedented state of emergency." The local government cited the lack of work authorization as one of the problems with "asylum seekers."
"They do not have the authorization to work, so we have to provide shelter. We have supplied food and access to healthcare. We have enrolled children in schools. We have opened almost 200 emergency sites, including more than a dozen large-scale humanitarian relief centers. And we have assisted migrants with asylum applications," Adams said. "But we are past our breaking point. … For each family seeking asylum through the city's care, we spend an average of $383 per night to provide shelter, food, medical care, and social services. With more than 57,300 individuals currently in our care, on an average night, it amounts to $9.8 million a day, almost $300 million a month, and nearly $3.6 billion a year."
Back on May 9, Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency over the "invasion."
The Democrats are blaming Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's migrant busing program. However, Abbott argued that these cities were welcoming of the asylum seekers because their local governments enacted policies that shield illegal immigrants, including criminals, from federal immigration authorities and deportation.
"What's maddening is the fact that in New York and Chicago and D.C. and Los Angeles and other places, they put out policies self-proclaiming that they are sanctuary cities, and they love to promote these liberal ideologies until they have to actually live up and apply them," Abbott said. "It's clear that the policies of sanctuary cities and letting everybody live for free simply do not work."
The Republican governor began busing illegal immigrants to these cities in April 2022 to alleviate border cities in his state. Since the start of the program, more than 30,000 migrants have been transported to Democrat-led cities around the country, which are among the 10 "largest sanctuary cities in the United States," according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). As of Sept. 8, Abbott's office reported it had bused more than 11,300 illegal immigrants to Washington since April 2022, more than 13,500 to New York City, and more than 7,000 to Chicago since August 2022. Texas also started busing illegal immigrants in 2023 to Denver and Los Angeles. Denver has received around 1,100, while L.A. has around 480.
Before being elected mayor of the Big Apple in 2021, Adams' campaign posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, said: "We should protect our immigrants. Period. Yes, New York City will remain a sanctuary city under an Adams administration." And then almost two years later, the mayor is now claiming that illegal migration will "destroy New York City."
"Never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to. I don't see an ending to this. … This issue will destroy New York City," Adams said on Sep. 6, during a town hall meeting on the Upper West Side. "We're getting 10,000 migrants a month." And although only a fraction of the illegal immigrants arriving in New York City are arriving on Abbott's buses, NYC Mayor Eric Adams has called the program "morally bankrupt."
As per a press release, Abbott stated that the crisis at our southern border continues to escalate because President Joe Biden's administration policies refuse to secure the border and they even invite illegal immigration. "Texas supports legal immigration but will not be an accomplice to the open border policies that cause, rather than prevent, a humanitarian crisis in our state and endanger the lives of Texans," Abbott added. According to Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol agents have apprehended 1,973,092 illegal immigrants along the southwest border in the past 11 months. A million plus of those crossed into Texas.
L.A. pushes for lawsuit and criminal probe against Abbott over Texas’ migrant busing program
Legal motions were approved by the Los Angeles City Council, another sanctuary city, on Aug. 30 as a response to Abbott's busing of 42 illegal immigrants to Los Angeles on June 14. The first motion stated, "Investigate and report on whether human trafficking, kidnapping, or any other crime was committed on or before June 14, 2023, when Governor Greg Abbott of Texas sent 42 migrants from McAllen, Texas, to Los Angeles, California."
The second one indicated: "Investigate and begin proceedings on any potential civil legal action that could be taken against the State of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott, or any other entity relating to planning and actions of June 14, 2023." Should the investigation prove that there were crimes committed such as kidnapping and human trafficking through the migrant bus program, lawsuits will be filed.
The 13-0 vote was made following the 11th bus load of illegal migrants that arrived in Los Angeles, with illegal immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Venezuela, and Russia. The migrants included 21 adults and 14 children, according to the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA).
For one of the council members Hugo Soto-Martinez, what Abbott is doing is "racist." "The competition between these Republican governors about who could be more racist, I think, is just an utter failure and shows clearly that they do not have any intention to govern effectively," Soto-Martinez said, claiming that the Republican governor is disregarding the lives of these illegals' families and that he should be fully investigated on the accountability of his "criminal actions."
-Belle Carter, News Target
The dam is breaking on unified Western support for Ukraine, and the timing couldn't be worse for Zelensky, given tomorrow he's expected to meet with President Biden at the White House. On Wednesday evening there is monumental news out of Poland which could potentially change the entire course of the war.
"Poland will no longer arm Ukraine to focus on its own defense," Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced just hours after Warsaw summoned Ukraine's ambassador related to a fresh war of words and spat over blocked grain, according to the AFP. Warsaw has throughout more than a year-and-a-half of the Ukraine-Russia war been Kiev's staunchest and most outspoken supporter.
Will this massive and hugely significant about-face mark the beginning of the end? Are peace negotiations and ceding of territory in the Donbas inevitable at this point?
Within the last 48 hours relations between Poland and Ukraine quickly spiraled to their lowest point since the Russian invasion, and it is directly related to Warsaw leading a handful of EU countries to extend a grain export ban on Ukraine, amid continuing anger and outrage from Polish farmers who are suffering due to their country being flooded with cheap Ukrainian wheat.
Crucially, Poland will hold parliamentary elections on Oct.15. The prior atmosphere of enthusiastic pro-Kiev rhetoric has drastically changed, now with comparisons likening Ukraine to a "drowning man". As The Associated Press explains:
Polish leaders have compared Ukraine to a drowning person hurting his helper and threatened to expand a ban on food products from the war-torn country. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested that EU allies that are prohibiting imports of his nation’s grain are helping Russia.
Now, Polish officials, who are trying to win parliamentary elections next month with help from farmers’ votes, are expressing dismay over some of Ukraine’s latest moves, including a World Trade Organization complaint over bans on Ukrainian grain from Poland and two other EU countries.
In surprisingly blunt and terse words given to reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Tuesday: "Ukraine is behaving like a drowning person clinging to anything available."
He then said, "A drowning person is extremely dangerous, capable of pulling you down to the depths … simply drown the rescuer." Given Ukraine's battlefield losses and as it's currently bogged down in a failing counteroffensive, the words no doubt stung. But as The Hill notes further of the domestic political context in Poland:
Public sentiment around the issue, however, has started to deteriorate, putting the ruling party in a difficult position ahead of a close October election. The far-right Confederation party is hoping to capitalize on the waning support in the country.
Reuters reported that a recent poll showed support for Ukrainian refugees fell from 91 percent when the war started to just 69 percent recently. The same survey showed a quarter of Poles are against supporting refugees, compared to 4 percent in early 2022.
In response to the grain ban, Zelensky during his UN speech had condemned the "alarming" behavior of allies regarding the import ban, but without naming Poland specifically. Further, Kiev has announced plans to sue Warsaw in the World Trade Organization while also holding out the possibility of its own embargo on Polish foodstuffs, including onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and apples. Again, all of this amounts to a full-blown diplomatic crisis for Zelensky which couldn't come at a worse time, as he's in D.C.
To review, these are some of the major developments and setbacks in only the last few days:
Zelensky fired at least 6 top-ranking defense officials over corruption, after recently firing longtime Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov amid a graft probe.
American transgender spokesperson for Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces Sarah Ashton-Cirillo was suspended indefinitely by the Ukrainian military in an embarrassing debacle.
The New York Times ran an article which said a missile fired by Ukraine - not Russia - struck a busy civilian market ...marking an unexpected establishment media about-face.
Biden has yet to pledge any new weapons for Ukraine as Zelensky is in the US, and there are reports that ATACMS long-range missiles will not be approved.
And most importantly, there's this per Politico...
According to the fresh Wednesday report:
Delivering any new aid to help defend against Russia, even later this year, is looking tougher than ever.
The obstacles are piling up: House Republicans are skeptical of any new money at all. What’s more, their dysfunction threatens to push the government into a shutdown — a move that certainly gets Zelenskyy no closer to getting the billions requested by the Biden administration. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are divided over whether to continue providing humanitarian aid, arguing the rest of Europe needs to step up.
As if fully aware that the tap at the expense of the US taxpayer may run dry, Zelensky has been meeting in New York with a who's who of leading banks, hedge funds, and private investors. Fox Business, which broke the story, says the ongoing meetings are part of broader efforts to secure investment for rebuilding Ukraine and fixing destroyed infrastructure:
The meeting was put together by JPMorgan, the big bank serving as Zelenskyy’s financial adviser to attract private capital for a new investment fund to rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure destroyed in its war with Russia, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Earlier in the afternoon, Zelenskyy met privately with BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, the sources say. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager and has also been advising Zelenskyy on how to attract U.S. private sector money for the rebuilding effort.
The list of invitees, according to sources, includes William Ackman, the head of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital; Ken Griffin of the Citadel investment empire; Jonathan Gray, president and chief operating officer of private equity powerhouse Blackstone; Philipp Hildebrand, a vice chairman at BlackRock; Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and founder of Bloomberg LP; and Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and now head of the Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic organization.
Tomorrow's White House visit, and Zelensky's planned meeting with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will surely be interesting.
Meanwhile, for a foretaste and indicator of how much the tide is turning - and the very different, subdued optics - especially compared to Zelensky's last trip to Washington (in Dec. 2022) when he was received with rockstar status, there's this...
-Tyler Durden, Zerohedge
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) said in an exclusive Fox News interview published Wednesday that Saudi Arabia will obtain a nuclear weapon if its number one regional rival does so first.
"If they get one, we have to get one," MbS told Fox's 'Special Report' anchor Bret Baier when asked what the kingdom would do if Iran builds a nuclear weapon.
It marks Riyadh's clearest warning to date related to Iran's alleged nuclear aspirations (though Tehran has long maintained its nuclear program is solely for peaceful nuclear energy purposes).
The blunt statements regarding Saudi Arabia's intentions to go nuclear if the Islamic Republic does were set against a broader discussion about potentially achieving full peace and diplomatic relations with Israel on the basis of the Abraham Accords.
"Every day we get closer," the crown prince said when asked about the recent expanding ties with Israel, which has lately included opening up airspace to Israeli flights for the first time, and exchanging official delegations.
Interestingly, Israel itself is already the region's sole nuclear-armed power, but has never confirmed this openly. MbS' comments on going nuclear reflect the general thinking that Tehran achieving a nuke would set off a broader nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Despite the tough words of warning from the crown prince, China this summer brokered a detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which Beijing hopes will drive a "wave of reconciliation" in the region, particularly along the historic Shia-Sunni religious divide.
As for the potential of full diplomatic relations with Israel, it's been widely reported that Riyadh is asking Washington to allow it to have a nuclear energy program, which would see the Saudis enrich uranium, just like the Iranians currently do.
-Tyler Durden, Zerohedge
Image Credit: Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki speaks at a session of the U.N. HUman Rights Council in Geneva on Monday - Kyodo
The governor of Okinawa Prefecture sought international backing at a U.N. session Monday for his opposition to a plan to relocate a U.S. military base within the prefecture.
But Gov. Denny Tamaki's stance was immediately questioned by a Japanese government official at the venue in Geneva, a split highlighting the contention over the project based on an agreement first reached by Tokyo and Washington in the 1990s.
"I am here today to ask the world to witness the situation in Okinawa," Tamaki told a session of the world body's Human Rights Council, arguing that the concentration of the military bases there threatens peace.
Tamaki, the first Okinawa governor in eight years to address the council, said, "The reclamation work proceeds despite the fact that it was clearly opposed by Okinawan voters in a democratically held referendum."
He spoke during a part of the session that was allocated for a Japanese nongovernmental organization.
Under the bilateral agreement, the Japanese government is proceeding with work to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a densely populated area in Ginowan to a new facility being built in a coastal area in Nago, both on Okinawa Island, despite staunch local opposition.
Tamaki has sought to drum up international support as he struggles to prevent the relocation plan, saying the island prefecture hosts 70% of all the U.S. military bases in Japan while accounting for only 0.6% of the country's total land area.
Earlier this month, however, Japan's Supreme Court turned down his government's appeal against the central government's order related to carrying out necessary landfill work.
After Tamaki's address at Monday's event, a representative of the Japanese government mission in Geneva defended the ongoing work to build an airfield in the Henoko area of Nago.
"Steadily advancing the construction work based on the policy that the Henoko relocation is the only solution will enable the complete return of Futenma Air Station as swiftly as possible" and lead to the elimination of dangers to the local population, the official said.
Tamaki's predecessor, Takeshi Onaga, expressed his opposition to the Futenma base relocation plan at the council in 2015.
-Kyodo, The Japan Times
The first batch of American-made M1 Abrams main battle tanks “will be entering Ukraine soon,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters on Tuesday. An anonymous military official told AFP that deliveries will begin within days.
“I’m ... pleased to announce that the M1 Abrams tanks that the United States had previously committed to will be entering Ukraine soon,” Austin said at a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Germany.
This panel of nearly 50 countries has met 15 times since Russia’s military operation in Ukraine began last February, with each meeting followed by fresh pledges of military aid from America and its allies.
Citing an anonymous US military official, the AFP news agency reported that the first Abrams tanks will arrive in Ukraine in the coming days, with the process to be completed within weeks.
The tanks will be equipped with depleted uranium shells, a toxic ammunition whose use has been condemned by the United Nations.
Kiev has requested these flagship American tanks since last year, but Washington has hesitated on handing them over. Back in January, Pentagon officials told the Washington Post that the Abrams tanks consumed too much fuel and were too unreliable for the Ukrainian military to make effective use of them.
After claiming that it would take more than a year to equip Kiev with the latest M1A2 variant of the tank, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in March that older M1A1 models would be repaired in Germany and shipped to Ukraine before the end of 2023. Media reports in recent weeks suggested that 31 M1A1 models would be delivered by fall.
The tanks will arrive immediately before the end of fighting season in Ukraine, meaning their impact on the current frontline will likely be minor. Last week, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the BBC that Kiev had “about 30 to 45 days’ worth of fighting weather left,” before mud and rain would prevent large-scale battlefield maneuvers.
Even in favorable conditions, the Ukrainian military has not managed to achieve its summer objective of splitting the Russian front in two in Zaporozhye Region. Instead, Kiev has lost more than 70,000 men, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In exchange, Ukraine has captured only a handful of small villages in the region, while losing dozens of Western-supplied tanks and armored vehicles.
Mass protests continued in the Armenian capital for the second straight day on Wednesday, prompted by a new escalation in Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Protesters gathered in Yerevan’s government quarter, denouncing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as a “traitor” to the Armenian people and demanding that he step down over what they view as his failure to help the predominantly ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The rally was marred by violence, as protesters trying to breach government buildings faced off against a large police force guarding them.
Footage from the scene shows police officers clad in riot gear scuffling with the crowd. Several people were reportedly injured during the skirmishes.
By late Wednesday, however, the unrest had seemingly waned, as most protesters had left the government quarter.
A separate rally was held outside Russia’s embassy in Yerevan by protesters blaming the Nagorno-Karabakh situation on Moscow. Many demonstrators were seen waving US, EU, and even Ukrainian flags, as well as ripping up and burning Russian passports.
The new flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh started on Tuesday when Baku launched what it called an “anti-terrorist” operation in the breakaway region. The Azerbaijani military made rapid gains against local forces until a ceasefire on Wednesday brokered by Russian peacekeepers deployed to the region seemingly put a halt to the hostilities.
Armenia, which has long maintained close ties with the region, has distanced itself from the new conflict, only denouncing it as an “another large-scale aggression against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh” and alleging that Baku harbored plans of “ethnic cleansing” against the local population.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev hailed the outcome of the operation as a major success, stating that the country had restored its sovereignty over the region. Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan after a bloody war in the 1990s, which erupted shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The existing system of international law is floundering, while the modern world is plagued by an array of conflicts, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. He made the remarks in an interview with RT Arabic on Wednesday, calling upon the UN to adapt to a changing world.
“It is evident that the world is currently undergoing dramatic tectonic changes. Changes are underway, this requires a certain adaptation on the part of the UN; first of all, of its main body – the Security Council,” Peskov said.
However, Peskov ruled out the possibility of creating a new international organization to replace the UN, stating that the international body’s tools should be “developed and honed” instead.
“It is too early to talk about this yet. Thus far, the main body is the UN, we have no other. And in the current situation, when the whole world is riddled with conflicts, when international law is trampled upon, and economic relations, the system of Bretton Woods relations are de facto collapsing, I don’t think we can say that we will be able to create some other system. This is simply impossible,” Peskov explained.
The Security Council currently consists of 15 members, ten of which serve two-year terms and cannot veto resolutions. Only five permanent members – the US, UK, China, France, and Russia – hold such power. Russia has advocated a more diverse Security Council for years, arguing that the body can be democratized only through increasing the representation of African, Asian, and Southern American states.
Recently, multiple world leaders and top officials have called for a reform of the UN Security Council, criticizing the institution as a dysfunctional one and lacking a fair representation of leading nations of the world. The issues confronting the council have been acknowledged by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as well, who has said a reform is long overdue to better reflect the “realities of today’s world.”
Jacinda Ardern may no longer be Prime Minister of New Zealand, but she was back at the United Nations continuing her call for international censorship.
Ardern is now one of the leading anti-free speech figures in the world and continues to draw support from political and academic establishments.
In her latest attack on free speech, Ardern declared free speech as a virtual weapon of war.
She is demanding that the world join her in battling free speech as part of its own war against “misinformation” and “disinformation.”
Her views, of course, were not only enthusiastically embraced by authoritarian countries, but the government and academic elite.
In her speech, she notes that we cannot allow free speech to get into the way of fighting things like climate change. She notes that they cannot win the war on climate change if people do not believe them about the underlying problem. The solution is to silence those with opposing views. It is that simple.
While the free speech community denounced her for unrelenting attacks on this human right, Harvard praised her for “strong and empathetic political leadership” and specifically enlisted her to help “improve content standards and platform accountability for extremist content online.”
I actually have no objection to the inclusion of Ardern as a Harvard fellow. She is a former world leader who is leading the movement against free speech. It is a view that students should consider in looking at these controversies.
However, Harvard has heralded her views with no acknowledgment of her extreme antagonism toward free speech principles.
There is also little countervailing balance at the school with fellows supporting free speech as a human right. Rather, Harvard (which ranks dead last on the recent free speech survey) has become a virtual clearinghouse for anti-free speech academics and advocates.
Free speech is now commonly treated on campuses as harmful.
Rather than the right that defines us, it is treated as an existential threat.
What is so chilling is to hear Ardern express her fealty to free speech as she calls on the nations of the world to severely curtail it to prevent people from undermining their policies and priorities.
She remains the “empathetic” face of raw censorship and intolerance. She is now the virtual ambassador-at-large for global speech criminalization.
-Tyler Durden, Zerohedge
Ratings-challenged CNN hit rock bottom in a key viewership demographic last weekend — another sign of the difficulties facing incoming boss Mark Thompson.
The cable news network logged its worst weekend ratings on record in the all important 25- to 54-year-old demo, according to the latest Nielsen data released Tuesday.
CNN — which launched in 1980 and bills itself as “the most trusted name in news” — totaled just 55,000 viewers for its weekend slate of shows that include Sunday political programs “State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash,” and “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”
The network’s Sunday primetime lineup, which featured “The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper” and “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,” drew 43,000 in the demo.
The ratings are the network’s worst since 1991 — the earliest TV data is readily available.
Data prior to 1991 is largely not digitized.
CNN’s overall viewership wasn’t much better.
The network logged 345,000 total viewers, trailing Fox News’ 683,000 and MSNBC’s 424,000.
Fox won the battle in the key demo as well, drawing 75,000 viewers to top MSNBC’s 47,000, which finished behind CNN.
Image Credit: CNN
“CNN is a ratings embarrassment,” an industry insider said. “At least with Thompson they will have a direction.”
Thompson, the former New York Times Company CEO, was tapped as CNN’s new chairman and CEO last month by parent Warner Bros. Discovery after the disastrous tenure of Chris Licht.
The divisive network boss was ousted in June following a scathing profile in The Atlantic that portrayed him as a paranoid manager who was obsessed with his ousted predecessor, Jeff Zucker.
Image Credit: Invision
During Licht’s 13-month reign, he was tasked with shifting the network toward more centrist coverage.
His overhaul included the ill-fated shakeup of the network’s morning show, which brought together Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.
The trio never clicked and Lemon was fired in April after a series of gaffes that included saying GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley was “not in her prime.”
Image Credit: ZUMAPRESS.com
Collins was moved to host a weekday primetime show but has failed to lift viewership.
Thompson, who helped revitalize the Times’ finances by growing the paper’s digital subscriber base as chief executive from 2012 to 2020, will take the helm at CNN beginning Oct. 9.
Inside CNN, staffers are hoping that the incoming leader, who once managed the BBC as its director general, will lean into his hard news and digital experience, to not only amp up the ratings, but also grow the network’s revenue.
-Alexandra Steigrad, New York Post
A number of Maine’s weekly and daily papers have been bought by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
According to Semafor, Soros and medical device billionaire philanthropist Hansjorg Wyss played a central role in this purchase, giving millions to the National Trust for Local News.
In July, it was announced that the National Trust for Local News bought all five of Masthead Maine’s daily newspapers including the Portland Press Herald and the Sun Journal, along with 17 weekly papers, in partnership with the Maine Journalism Foundation.
A spokesperson for Open Society told Semafor that the foundation was one of National Trust’s financial supporters, but denied funds from the foundation being specified for the purchase.
A spokesperson told the Bangor Daily News that "our grants to date have not included earmarks for specific projects."
"We have supported the National Trust for Local News since 2019, along with many other foundations that value the contribution of long-established and community-rooted newsrooms," the spokesperson said.
The papers, now known under the group name Maine Trust for Local News, does not currently list its supporters, but group CEO Lisa DeSisto said they have a "plan" and "formal protocols" to disclose donations.
According to the Portland Press Herald, National Trust plans to disclose some information about the supporters of the purchase when a local board is formed in September.
Other supporters of the National Trust include the Google News Initiative and the Gates Family Foundation.
-Hannah Nightingale, The Post Millennial