"Free people can say “no”. Free people can refuse demands for their money, time, and children. Slaves cannot. There is no freedom without the freedom to say “no”. If someone demands that you do something and you can say “no” and refuse to do it, then you are a free human being. If you can be forced to do something or surrender something that you do not wish to, then you are a slave. No other test need be applied" -- Michael Rivero

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It might be wrong to assume China has “peaked”. Nicholas R. Lardy, a  Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, writing for Foreign Affairs, argues it is still rising and should not be underestimated  as a superpower. Parts of the American establishment, however, still cannot conceive of pacific coexistence/competition with Beijing. Matt Pottinger (former Deputy National Security Adviser) and Mike Gallagher (former chair of the “House Select Committee on the CCP”) amazingly call for regime change in China, and argue that Washington should ensure the whole of Asia is under US military primacy.

Pottinger and Gallagher in fact wrote that “the United States shouldn’t manage the competition with China; it should win it”. They call for “greater friction” in Chinese-US relations, by adopting “rhetoric and policies that feel uncomfortably confrontational.” The authors add that “Washington should not fear the end state desired by a growing number of Chinese”, namely a China “free from communist dictatorship.”

Other goals Washington should pursue, according to the same piece, are “severing China’s access to Western technology” (by placing export bans on areas such as “quantum computing and biotechnology”), and also multiplying “U.S. military installations across the region and pre-position critical supplies such as fuel, ammunition, and equipment throughout the Pacific.”

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Russian media shared a video reportedly found in the mobile phone of one of the captured Ukrainian servicemen. The footage was provided by Russian law enforcement agencies.

The footage shows an officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine arguing with a soldier. The officer likely wanted to punish the soldier. He beat the victim. Then, the officer is seen shooting in the direction of the soldier. The result of the quarrel is unknown. Unfortunately, there is a high risk that the victim was killed.

The Ukrainian POW was captured in the Kherson region, where the Armed Forces of Ukraine are holding control of a small stronghold in the village of Krynki and continue some operations near the Antonovsky bridge. The filmed incident took place in the Kherson region too.

This is far from the first video revealing the assassination of Ukrainian servicemen by their comrades. In recent days, most of these cases have been recorded in the Kherson region, where Ukrainian servicemen do not want to participate in senseless operations and risk their lives trying to cross the Dnieper River. LINK

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The middle class in the United States has been steadily shrinking, and the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us has grown to absurd proportions.  But it wasn’t always this way.  When I was growing up in the 1980s, it seemed like almost everyone was middle class.  Of course there were wealthy people and poor people in the 1980s too, but the vast majority of the population was comfortably somewhere in the middle.  Sadly, things have changed so much since that time.  Today, most of the people that I know are struggling.  According to a report that was just released, in all 50 states it now takes an income of more than $100,000 in order for a family of four to live “the American Dream”…

A new report from GOBankingRates used that framework to analyze how much money a family of two adults and two children would need in each state to own a home, a car and a pet. The report tallied estimated annual essential expenses for such a family and then doubled that figure.

Using that framework, GoBankingRates found that all 50 states require more than a $100,000 annual income, according to the report, with 38 states needing more than $140,000.

Is your family bringing in more than $100,000 a year?

If not, “the American Dream” is not for you.


Our leaders purposely pursued policies that they knew would cause inflation, and when new money enters the system most of it tends to flow into the hands of those at the top of the economic food chain.

So the ultra-wealthy have been doing very well in this economic environment, but high inflation is absolutely eviscerating all the rest of us.

At this point, it takes the average U.S. household an extra $1,069 per month just to purchase the same goods and services that it did three years ago…

Inflation is once again gaining steam, forcing the average American to shell out a lot more money for everyday necessities.

The typical U.S. household needed to pay $227 more a month in March to purchase the same goods and services it did one year ago because of still-high inflation, according to calculations from Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi shared with FOX Business.

Americans are paying on average $784 more each month compared with the same time two years ago and $1,069 more compared with three years ago, before the inflation crisis began.

What we are witnessing is the collapse of the middle class.

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South Dakota state Sen. John Wiik likes to think of himself as a lookout of sorts — keeping an eye on new laws, programs and ideas brewing across the states.

“I don’t bring a ton of legislation,” said Wiik, a Republican. “The main thing I like to do is try and stay ahead of trends and try and prevent bad things from coming into our state.”

This session, that meant sponsoring successful legislation banning cities or counties from creating basic income programs, which provide direct, regular cash payments to low-income residents to help alleviate poverty.

While Wiik isn’t aware of any local governments publicly floating the idea in South Dakota, he describes such programs as “bureaucrats trying to hand out checks to make sure that your party registration matches whoever signed the checks for the rest of your life.”

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The Heritage Foundation's Oversight Project posted an image on X of what they say is a flyer from a non-governmental organization operating in Mexico encouraging migrants to vote for President Biden once they arrive in the United States.

"Reminder to vote for President Biden when you are in the United States. We need another four years of his term to stay open," part of the flyer read. 

The Oversight Project said the flyer was initially discovered by a Muckraker journalist while touring the site of Resource Center Matamoras in Mexico. 

"They [flyers] also appear to be handed out when illegal aliens use the RCM for assistance in coming to the USA," the group said. 

Webmaster addition: 


United States Code, Title 18, Section 611, which states that it is unlawful for any noncitizen to vote in a Federal election. The specific penalty can include fines, imprisonment, and potential deportation for non-citizens who are found to have unlawfully voted in federal elections.

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The F-35 fighter jet program will cost taxpayers more than $2 trillion over its lifetime, cementing its place as one of the most expensive weapons programs in U.S. history, according to new estimates from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent government watchdog.

The new price tag represents a dramatic jump from a 2018 estimate that set the program’s total cost at $1.7 trillion. Most of the bump comes from projected sustainment costs, which increased by 44 percent to a cool $1.58 trillion over the lifetime of the program. The Pentagon also extended the projected life of the plane to 2088 rather than the previous goal of 2077.

The news comes as Congress considers President Joe Biden’s budget proposal for next year, which asks for a record $895 billion in military funding. The spending package is separate from the White House’s request for $106 billion to fund weapons transfers to and security cooperation with Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine, which is still languishing in the House after passing the Senate earlier this year.

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UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron arrived in Israel on Wednesday for talks where he is expected to repeat his warning against any  response to the recent missile attack by Iran.

Lord Cameron will meet Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has vowed to retaliate to Iran’s weekend attack.

As Breitbart News reported, the state-on-state strike by more than 300 missiles and drones from Iran caused only modest damage in Israel as most were shot down by its Iron Dome defence system and with help from the U.S., Britain, France and Jordan.

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Following the launching of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps drone and missile strike under Operation True Promise on April 13, targeting Israeli military bases in retaliation for an Israeli attack on an Iranian diplomatic building in Syria twelve days prior, the United States Military was responsible for most of the claimed shootdowns of Iranian targets to protect its ally. While the operations of a pair of U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke Class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean have gained particular attention, and are credited with having made their first operational use of the SM-3 anti ballistic missile during the operation, F-15E Strike Eagle fighters are also credited with having played a very central role. U.S. Air Force F-15Es are deployed in the Middle East under the 494th Fighter Squadron and the 335th Fighter Squadron, which are permanently based at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom and at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina respectively. Both units were deployed to the Middle East in the second week of October 2023 as part of a broader surge in the U.S. military presence in the region. This was initiated following the outbreak of open hostilities between Israeli forces and Palestinian militia groups in the Gaza Strip.

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On April 13 the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps initiated missile and drone strikes on Israeli military facilities, with these launched under Operation True Promise in retaliation for an Israeli attack on an Iranian diplomatic building in Syria killing two senior generals and nine others. Iran first gained the capability to launch missile strikes on Israeli territory in the late 1990s with the acquisition of North Korean Hwasong-7 ballistic missiles, with the expansion of these strike capabilities and of those of neighbouring Syria having led Israel to build a dense multi layered air defence network with the support of the United States. According to Israeli Defence Forces Brigadier General Reem Aminoach, the country’s air defence efforts cost approximately $1.33 billion. Alongside Israeli efforts, however, four of the country’s closest security partners also provided significant support to help blunt the Iranian strike - namely the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Jordan. 

Webmaster addition: According to reports, about half of the incoming Iranian drones and missiles were actually downed by US forces. This means that had Israel been forced to defend itself all alone, it would have suffered a staggering defeat. It is still being debated whether Iran did or did not use their hypersonic weapons.

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US Will Try to Rally Other Nations to Sanction Iran Over Israel Attack

by | Apr 16, 2024



US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will attempt to convince the international community to increase economic penalties on Iran as punishment for the drone and missile barrage Tehran launched at Israel. Iran’s attack followed Israel’s assassination of several high-ranking officials when Tel Aviv bombed Tehran’s consulate in Damascus. 

On Tuesday, Axios reported that the Treasury is preparing new sanctions to levy on Iran and will use an International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting later this week to try to convince other countries to join. “All options to disrupt terrorist financing of Iran continue to be on the table,” she said.

The sanctions would be a response to Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel. The Iranian attack was a response to Israel’s bombing of the Iranian consulate in Syria, which killed 16 people, including seven IRGC officials. 

“Treasury will not hesitate to work with our allies to use our sanctions authority to continue disrupting the Iranian regime’s malign and destabilizing activity,” Yellen is set to say during her opening remarks at the IMF conference. “The attack by Iran and its proxies underscores the importance of Treasury’s work to use our economic tools to counter Iran’s malign activity.” 

According to Axios, Washington hopes the sanctions will show Tel Aviv that there is a way to punish Tehran without a direct attack on Iran. The war government in Tel Aviv says it will respond to the Iranian attack “clearly and forcefully.” 

However, the Washington Post notes that the White House has few options for sanctioning Tehran as the Iranian economy is already one of the most heavily sanctioned. The Post explains that one of Washington’s few options for expanding sanctions on Iran is to blacklist Chinese firms purchasing Iranian crude oil.

Claire's Observations:  Looking at this image of Yellen, her body language indicates that she is attempting to conjure some great invisible spirit, to assist her in this "Mission Insanely Not Possible" of piling more sanctions against Iran.  

Had a little more than the usual dose of "hopium changium" last night, Janet?!?  Because.... DAMN!  You have become so adept at proposing approaches which just will not, work, and somewhere in your soul, you have to know this, don't you?!?


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US vows new sanctions on Iran coming soon, expects allies to follow * Airstrikes target Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, rockets fired at northern Israel.

Webmaster addition: Monday is Passover.

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Thanks to the relentless political targeting of President Trump, there’s been a spotlight on the use of “hush money” and secret funds to sweep indiscretions under the rug in politics. This shouldn’t come as a shock to many, given the nature of fame and power, but where do we draw the line? When is it acceptable for politicians to dip into taxpayer-funded slush funds to settle their sexual indiscretions privately, and without fanfare, and when is it deemed unacceptable for a private political candidate to do the same with personal funds? Here’s the thing that’s got everyone scratching their heads: Trump’s stuck in this political circus over “hush money,” where they’re all too eager to drag him through the mud over what amounts to a flimsy misdemeanor at best.

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Among the many streaming services available today, none is more controversial than Netflix. The giant in online entertainment has been run by the likes of Barack and Michelle Obama. Few would argue that much of its content leans to the left.

In some cases, Netflix shows outright promote progressive ideologies like transgenderism and Marxism.

But the online platform might not have expected this three-part series to take off like it did. It became the number one show in March and has become one of Netflix’s 10 most popular series. And it is decidedly “non-woke” of them all.

From CBN:
A three-part docuseries about the Old Testament figure Moses has landed among Netflix’s top 10 most popular series.

“Testament: The Story of Moses” debuted on the streaming platform in March as the No. 1 show and since then, the gripping docudrama and expert interviews have captivated viewers.

The three-part series is narrated by Charles Dance and “chronicles Moses’ remarkable life as a prince, prophet and more with insights from theologians and historians.”…

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The ceremonial lighting of the Olympic flame for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris has taken place in Ancient Olympia, a TASS correspondent reports from the scene.

In attendance at the ceremony were Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach, President of the Greek National Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos and other officials.

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When the bombs went off, food that Tony was preparing got covered in radioactive dust. He told Jean how the troops were forced to eat it, despite the contamination.

But Jean’s devastation did not end with the loss of her beloved husband.

She is certain their two boys and her grandson suffered the effects of the radiation exposure Tony endured.

At her home in Taunton, Somerset, she says: “My son, Roy, died of bowel cancer when he was 54, in 2016.”

Her other son Tommy, 63, lives in Perth, Australia, and also has bowel cancer. Her grandson James, 35, had blood cancer when he was 21.

Jean says: “My husband’s service killed him, but it’s also killed one of my sons too — and they sent me a medal through the post.

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 by Dave DeCamp 

Iran’s reprisal attack on Israel has delayed Israeli plans to invade the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, CNN reported on Monday, citing Israeli sources.

The sources said that the Israeli Air Force was set to drop leaflets on Rafah on Monday to tell the more than 1 million civilians who are in the city that an offensive was coming. But the plan was put on hold as the Israeli War Cabinet is debating how to respond to Iran firing over 300 missiles and drones at Israeli territory, which came in response to Israel bombing Iran’s consulate in Damascus.

The US has claimed it’s opposed to an Israeli invasion of Rafah since it would incur huge civilian casualties and further disrupt aid coming in from Egypt. But the fact that Israel was planning to drop leaflets on the city demonstrates that President Biden is not putting any real pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

US officials said last week that Israel has not presented any proposals on how to account for the safety of the more than 1 million civilians who are sheltering in the city, which has a pre-war population of about 275,000.

The Israeli sources told CNN that they still plan to launch a full-scale assault on Rafah but are not sure when. The Israeli War Cabinet is focusing on how to respond to Iran and has agreed that an attack will happen, but it’s unclear where or when.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said Monday that at least 33,797 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7, a number that doesn’t take into account the thousands of Palestinians who are missing and presumed dead under the rubble. Taking into account deaths caused by starvation and disease, experts are warning the death toll will top 100,000 by August if conditions don’t change and that it will be higher than 120,000 if there is a military escalation, such as an Israeli invasion of Rafah.

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Yesterday, Shai Davidai, an Israeli professor at Columbia Business School, posted a thread on X with video of anti-Israel protests in New York that disturbed him. 

Of course, many of these anti-Israel protestors were Muslim immigrants. Ironically, Professor Davidai published a study a couple of years ago, arguing that immigration wasn't zero-sum, and so Americans need not worry about demographic change. It appears that he was wrong. 

As our friend Kevin Dolan points out below, demographic change including Muslim immigration has broken the left's coalition, and with the explosion of social media, the instruments of narrative control that might have papered over their differences in the past no longer work.

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After seriously considering the possibility, 2024 presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy, Jr has declared he will not seek the Libertarian Party nomination, saying he's confident he'll achieve ballot access across the country on his own. Meanwhile, in a social media skirmish with Team Trump, Kennedy said Trump associates asked him to consider becoming the former president's running mate. 

In a political system with formidable ballot-access barriers that protect the Democrat-Republican duopoly, outsider presidential candidates are frequently attracted to the idea of running as a Libertarian -- if only to access the party's hard-earned, 50-state ballot qualification. 

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Voters in India are getting set to head to the polls this weekend, in what has been dubbed the world’s biggest election.

Nearly 1 billion people are eligible to determine whether Narendra Modi, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will rule the country for a third consecutive term.

Statista's Katharina Buchholz reports that,according to data from a Statista Consumer Insights survey, one of the major challenges facing the country right now  is that of unemployment.

This will be a major sticking point for younger voters.

With often better opportunities abroad, the country is losing valuable talent. And it’s not alone, as OECD data reveals. In fact, in 2015/2016 - the latest year on record - 40 million highly educated migrants were living in OECD member countries. While skilled migrants are certainly welcomed by labor markets in most developed nations especially in times of falling birth rates, the migration of the educated can also have a detrimental effect on their home countries - often described as brain drain.

Infographic: Where Highly Educated Migrants Come From | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

As seen in the numbers, China and India had sent the most highly skilled migrants abroad as of the latest available date.

Yet, compared to the size of their populations, the numbers are comparably low. Other major brain drain locations have lost many more talented workers in relative terms, for example the Philippines, Poland, Mexico and Russia.

The Philippines have been known for supplying the world with health care professionals, especially nurses. Many of these highly skilled professionals emigrate to the U.S., forming the third-most important skilled labor emigration corridor of the OECD behind Mexican and Indian migration to the United States.

As a result, 14.3 percent of highly skilled Filipinos had emigrated to the OECD as of 2015/16. This rate is even higher in small or isolated developing economies.

In Caribbean state Guyana, almost 71 percent of the highly educated had left for the OECD, compared with 66 percent in Trinidad and Tobago and 63 percent in Mauritius.

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By The Committee for A Responsible Federal Budget

The Biden Administration recently announced a new plan to cancel student debt for up to 30 million borrowers and released a preliminary rule this morning detailing parts of this plan. The proposal, which is being introduced through the rule making process, would replace the Administration’s initial proposal to cancel between $10,000 and $20,000 per person of debt, which was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Elements of the plan in today’s proposed rule would cost nearly $150 billion, according to the Department of Education. However, this excludes a proposal to allow the Secretary of Education to cancel debt for those facing hardship or likely to default. Including this provision, we estimate the plan could cost $250 billion to $750 billion, depending on how the additional cancellation is designed.

The plan itself has five major components. It would:

  • Cancel accumulated interest for borrowers with balances higher than what they initially borrowed, capped at $20,000 for those in standard repayment and uncapped but restricted to individuals making less than $120,000 annually or couples making under $240,000 enrolled in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan.
  • Automatically cancel loans for borrowers in standard repayment who would be eligible for cancellation had they applied for programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or the new IDR program, Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE).
  • Automatically cancel loans for borrowers who have been repaying undergraduate loans for over 20 years or graduate loans for over 25 years.
  • Cancel debt of those who attended low-financial-value programs, including those that failed accountability measures or were deemed ineligible for federal student aid programs.
  • Forgive debt of borrowers who are “facing hardships” or are likely to default on their loan payments.

The Department of Education has estimated the first four components of the plan would cost $147 billion over a decade, with half the cost stemming from the cancellation of accumulated interest. This is in line with estimates we are currently producing, though well above estimates of $77 billion from the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM). A huge source of uncertainty is how these provisions would interact with existing IDR programs and how much of the debt would otherwise be cancelled under current policy. 

Importantly, today’s rule does not include the Administration’s hardship cancellation plan, which would “authorize the automatic forgiveness of loans for borrowers at a high risk of future default as well as those who show hardship due to other indicators.” 

This is by far the most unclear and potentially the most costly part of their proposal, since cancellation could be both wide-ranging and ongoing. We estimate this proposal could cost between $100 billion and $600 billion over a decade.

Claire's Observations:  This is not about education; it is about buying the youth vote.

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