"Beliefs are chains used to hold free minds in slavery. No chains of steel ever bound a human tighter than the chains made of beliefs." -- Michael Rivero

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Frederic Neumann, Chief Asia Economist at HSBC Global Research, highlighted in a note to clients Friday that skyrocketing rice prices present hurdles for central banks combating high inflation. He drew parallels between the current surge in food prices and the one that rocked the world in 2008, noting that shortage fears are rising for the staple food that feeds billions of people.

"The memory of the 2008 Asian food price scare sits deep," Neumann wrote. 

He said, "Back then, rising rice prices in some economies quickly spilled over into other markets as consumers and governments across the region scrambled to secure supplies. It also lifted the prices of other staples, such as wheat, as buyers shifted to alternatives."

Rice from Asia accounts for about 90% of the global production. The El Nino weather phenomenon has sparked heavy rainfall and droughts across top-producing regions, such as India, which has imposed export restrictions to ensure adequate domestic supplies. 

We provided readers with enough understanding that rice, which is critical to the diets of billions of people worldwide, was headed for a shortage:

Posted on: Sep 16 08:58

US weapons maker RTX, formerly known as Raytheon Technologies, scrubbed a multibillion deal with Saudi firm Scopa Defense earlier this year over "concerns" that the latter was pursuing business with sanctioned Russian and Chinese companies, according to people familiar with the deal that spoke with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

In 2022, RTX and Scopa signed a memorandum of understanding to build a factory in the kingdom for air defense systems to protect Riyadh from airstrikes. The plan reportedly called for installing radars and multiple air defense systems with an investment of $25 billion in the kingdom and $17 worth of sales.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:57

The upcoming Steadfast Defender NATO war drills, set for early 2024, are expected to be the biggest military exercises in Europe since the end of the Cold War, the Financial Times is reporting Monday.

At a moment the war in Ukraine grows more and more unpredictable, given neither Russia nor the West have shown any signs of backing down, the FT writes that "Nato is preparing its biggest live joint command exercise since the cold war next year, assembling more than 40,000 troops to practice how the alliance would attempt to repel Russian aggression against one of its members."

Like with the ongoing, smaller 'Northern Coasts' war games currently being executed by NATO in Baltic waters, the Steadfast Defender 24 drills will simulate how the military alliance would respond in the face of a hypothetical Russian invasion. 

NATO officials were quoted in FT as saying the planned exercises are seen as a key part of "demonstrating to Moscow that the alliance is prepared to fight."

Steadfast Defender is slated to run in February and March, and is likely to be seen as a provocation by Moscow given it will take place in various locales across Germany, Poland, and the Baltic states - the latter which border Russia. According to more from the FT report detailing the upcoming giant war game:

"It will start in spring next year and is expected to involve between 500 and 700 air combat missions, more than 50 ships, and about 41,000 troops, Nato officials said."

"It is designed to model potential maneuvers against an enemy modelled on a coalition led by Russia, named Occasus for the purposes of the drill."

Posted on: Sep 16 08:56

This report is designed to help readers think about some big topics: how to really prevent pandemics and biological warfare, how to assess proposals by the WHO and its members for responding to pandemics, and whether we can rely on our health officials to navigate these areas in ways that make sense and will help their populations.

We start with a history of biological arms control and rapidly move to the COVID pandemic, eventually arriving at plans to protect the future.

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Chem/Bio

Traditionally, the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) have been labelled Chemical, Biological, Radiologic, and Nuclear (CBRN).

The people of the world don’t want them used on us—for they are cheap ways to kill and maim large numbers of people quickly. And so international treaties were created to try to prevent their development (only in the later treaties) and use (in all the biological arms control treaties). First was the Geneva Protocol of 1925, following the use of poison gases and limited biological weapons in World War I, banning the use of biological and chemical weapons in war. The US and many nations signed it, but it took 50 years for the US to ratify it, and during those 50 years the US asserted it was not bound by the treaty.

The US used both biological and chemical weapons during those 50 years. The US almost certainly used biological weapons in the Korean War (see this, this, this and this) and perhaps used both in Vietnam, which experienced an odd outbreak of plague during the war. The use of napalm, white phosphorus, agent orange (with its dioxin excipient causing massive numbers of birth defects and other tragedies) and probably other chemical weapons like BZ (a hallucinogen/incapacitant) led to much pushback, especially since we had signed the Geneva Protocol and we were supposed to be a civilized nation.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:56

The Biden administration is reportedly close to authorizing yet another weapons system for Ukraine that it had previously ruled out. According to ABC News and the Financial Times, the US will send Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, a high priority for Kiev and its most hawkish backers. The long-range missiles, which travel up to 190 miles, would bolster Ukraine’s capacity to hit Crimea and possibly mainland Russia.

The White House previously invoked that very capability to rule out the ATACMS as too dangerous an escalation. As National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan explained in June 2022, President Biden was “not prepared to provide” long-range missiles, given the “key goal” of avoiding “the road towards a third world war.”

Just over one year later, the road towards a third world war is no longer closed.

Helping matters is what ABC News describes as “a surprising discovery”: according to two US officials, the US “has found it has more ATACMS in its inventory than originally assessed.”

The “surprising discovery” for the war effort is reminiscent of another fortuitous find. In June, the Pentagon claimed that an “accounting error” had freed up more than $6.2 billion in new funds to buy weapons for Ukraine.

It will be of no surprise to anyone who has followed the Ukraine proxy war that the Biden administration is once again crossing its own red line. From the start, the White House has publicly resisted sending major weapons systems only to later relent. The arsenal of rejected-turned-authorized weapons includes HIMARS rocket artillery, Patriot missiles, Abrams tanks, F-16 fighter jets, cluster munitions, and depleted uranium.

The threat of world war has not changed. Instead, by supplying just enough weapons to continue the fight, the US can achieve its primary aim: not help defend Ukraine and end the war, but use Ukraine to “lock Russia in a quagmire” that will leave Moscow “weakened” or even regime changed.

As Edward Stringer, ex-head of operations for the UK Defense Staff, put it, the NATO weapons supply has been a “drip-feed” that offers “just enough for Ukraine not to lose,” and ultimately amounts to “just prolonging the war.”

Posted on: Sep 16 08:55

Billionaire Democratic donor George Soros is financing an army of Gen-Z TikTokers to push his extreme left-wing causes, praise President Joe Biden, and bash conservatives, a review of public documents and social media by The Post shows. 

Soros’ Open Society Foundation shelled out $5.5 million to the nonprofit Accelerate Action Inc. in 2020 and 2021 — which in turn gave at least $300,000 in 2022 to another nonprofit, Gen Z for Change, which boasts a network of 500 “activists, organizers, and creators,” tax filings show.

The woke foot soldiers regularly go into battle on behalf of abolishing border enforcement, defunding cops, and ending cash bail according to their website.

Throughout his term in office, President Biden has looked to Gen Z for Change and other social-media stars to sell his policy agenda.

In March 2022, top White House officials briefed them on the ongoing US effort in Ukraine.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:54

President Biden, who was mentored by former KKK 'Exalted Cyclops' Robert Byrd, once called a black adviser 'boy' during a FEMA briefing, called Obama the first mainstream 'bright and clean' and articulate African-American, and worried in the late 70s that forcing schools to desegregate would subject his white children to "a racial jungle," just did it again.

(There's a lot more, by the way...)

In another humiliating gaffe, the 80-year-old Biden suggested that httdfdps://x.com/CurtisHouck/status/1432401230916169742?s=20b black and hispanic workers don't have high school diplomas.

"We’ve seen record lows in unemployment particularly — and I’ve focused on this my whole career — particularly for African Americans and Hispanic workers and veterans, you know, the workers without high school diplomas," he said in televised remarks.

The White House, of course, went into damage control mode - doctoring the official transcript to read something Biden never said, and claiming that there was supposed to be the word "and" separating the minority groups and veterans, from 'those without high school diplomas.'

"We’ve seen record lows in unemployment particularly — and I’ve focused on this my whole career — particularly for African Americans and Hispanic workers and veterans, you know, and the workers without high school diplomas," reads the official transcript.

Blacks, hispanics, veterans, and possibly those without high school diplomas took offense, and general mockery ensued.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:53

We’re seeing signs of a notable shift in how some U.S. mainstream media outlets operate. Surprisingly, some have started reporting certain news stories fairly and accurately. Recently, the Washington Post published an article urging Joe Biden not to run in 2024 and CNN spent an entire segment blathering on about what a liar Joe Biden is.


Now, most likely, CNN and the Washington Post have gotten their marching orders from higher-ups who’ve decided Joe needs to go. But there’s a lot more to this story.

What’s even more notable and can’t be so easily explained away is a recent ABC News story on Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis and President Trump. It’s quite something that ABC News didn’t mince words, describing Fani’s actions against Trump as a desperate move, like “throwing stuff against the wall.” This level of honesty is quite a departure from what we would have seen just a few months ago.

Here’s what Trending Politics co-founder Collin Rugg shared on X:

NEW: ABC News producer John Santucci is appalled at how “bad” Fani Willis’ case against Trump is, admits she is just “throwing things against the wall.”

You know it’s bad when even the main stream media is admitting it.

Santucci also mentioned how Trump scored a big win after the judge denied Willis’ motion to try all 19 co-defendants at once,

“Bad. I mean, Fani Willis wasn’t there… she’s throwing things against the wall based on this hearing.”

“A great win for Donald Trump and others that did not want to be part of this speedy trial case.”

“I can tell you, sitting here with you, just texting with some of the attorneys involved in the other defendants celebrating. Yay victory!”


Webmaster addition: Another theory might be that corporate media fears Trump will overcome the massive election fraud and be elected in 2024 (barring the "unexpected"), and they are worried about reprisals for their obvious bias.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:48

Israeli police arrested an American tourist today suspected of vandalizing a Jesus statue in a church in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The suspect, who is in his forties, damaged a statue of Jesus in the Church of the Condemnation on the historic Via Dolorosa, a processional route believed to be the path Jesus took to his crucifixion.

He was detained after shouting at security guards:  'You can't have idols in Jerusalem. This is the holy city.' 

Police said the man's mental health was being assessed. The American Embassy  declined to comment.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:47

NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Racing) is a Southern-based racing sport, popular among Southerners and Southern-adjacent white people.   

Obviously, that means they have to go out of their way to make it woke and politically correct. 

The latest example is the reeducation of Noah Gragson, a race car driver guilty of blasphemy against George Floyd.   All the guy did was ”like” a humorous meme about George Floyd.   That cannot be tolerated. 

Posted on: Sep 16 08:21

The single most important cultural change of the last 10 years is not transgenderism, Black Lives Matter, or even social media. It’s the end of free speech. Just a few years ago, it was almost beyond imagination that American companies would restrict free speech, with Amazon taking a principled stand in defense of even the vilest content. Today, books are regularly deplatformed, including Jared Taylor’s White Identity. Social media censorship is even worse and financial deplatforming has reached unknown depths.

Still, some might say that’s alright because these are actions by private companies. Many would expect Americans to rise in defiance if the government were telling people what they can and cannot say. Yet this line too was crossed. It was under the Trump Administration that the federal government — specifically the Department of Homeland Security — began working with social media to censor dissidents. President Donald Trump himself did nothing about the problem except for a nonsensical “Social Media Summit” featuring no one who was actually deplatformed. He is still doing nothing except posting on his echo chamber on Truth Social, despite regaining access to his Twitter/X account.

Some Republicans have begun fighting back now that the Democrats are in charge, especially after the government excesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. This too was too little, too late; conservatives ignored or even quietly welcomed the arbitrary decisions by Big Tech to wipe out entire groups, subcultures, and movements from platforms. That said, some are now moved to action.

It paid off when a federal judge ruled that the federal government could no longer work with tech companies to censor Americans. The decision baffled and outraged journalists, our country’s most dangerous free speech opponents. The Biden Administration appealed and got the injunction lifted, but appears to have lost the appeal in Missouri v. Biden.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:20

On September 4, I reported that Japanese scientists had examined Covid and its variants and found that all are Laboratory creations. https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2023/09/04/japanese-scientists-find-that-covid-19-and-all-of-the-variants-are-laboratory-creations/ This discovery raises the dangerous and disturbing question why a laboratory is producing viruses with which to infect humans.

I contacted a scientist who had been involved in the study of the original SARS for his evaluation and explanation of the Japanese scientists’ report. His explanation is below. It is challenging for non-professionals to follow, but less so than the Japanese study itself. As I understand the findings, it is the absence of synonymous mutations in the variants that reveal that Covid and its variants are lab creations.

I suspect that the Japanese study will be suppressed and that any American or Western scientist who took up this inquiry would find himself cut off from research funds and his career terminated.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:19

It never fails that when a Democrat’s back is up against the wall, the mainstream media rushes to run interference for them by echoing (or sometimes inventing) talking points in their defense. And as was confirmed very recently, sometimes those talking points are provided to the press directly by Democrats themselves.

That is, of course, exactly what we’re seeing play out this week in the aftermath of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy green-lighting the start of an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden.

Already, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Reps. Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi and all the rest are declaring the impeachment inquiry to be a frivolous “witch hunt” not based on evidence, with Schumer stating on Tuesday, “The American people want us to do something that will make their lives better, not go off on these chases, witch hunts.”

Posted on: Sep 16 08:17

Want to have some ability to choose where your child goes to school?

Well, then you’re a racist.

So says Randi Weingarten, leader of the American Federation of Teachers.

Words like “school choice” or “parental rights,” she maintains, are the “same kinds of words” used by segregationists, so if you use them too, you’re one of them.

Predictably, Weingarten is now furiously backpedaling, claiming that she was just making an innocent comment about “language” rather than actually accusing anyone of being racist, but this isn’t the first time she’s beat this drum.

In 2017, she called school-choice programs the “only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.”

Nor is she the only teachers-union leader to make this claim.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:16

A new report details how a controversial definition of antisemitism is stifling free speech at United Kingdom universities.

The study, which was conducted by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) and the European Legal Support Center (ELSC), relies on the analysis of 40 cases between 2017-2022 in which students or staff were accused of antisemitism based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

“Our findings demonstrate that the IHRA definition is undermining academic freedom and freedom of expression in relation to discussions of Israel and Palestine and risks being used in a way that discriminates against Palestinians and others on campuses who wish to speak out against the oppression of Palestinians,” reads the report.

In 2016, the IHRA adopted the non-legally binding definition, which includes eleven “contemporary examples” of antisemitism. It defines such prejudice as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The definition has been criticized by academics, human rights groups, activists, and others over its vague nature and the fact that some of its examples consider criticisms of Israel to be antisemitic. Since it was established, critics have warned that it can be used as a tool to stifle anti-Zionist sentiment and their concerns have consistently been validated.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:16

The Israeli military has conducted an airstrike against the northern Gaza Strip after attacking a protest in the Tel Aviv-besieged coastal sliver.

The Israeli army struck the territory on Friday, claiming it had hit "a military post" belonging to the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas.

A spokesman for the military said the airstrike had hit an area where Palestinians had gathered earlier in the day, near the permanently closed Karni crossing.

Earlier on Friday, the regime attacked protesters near Gaza's border with the occupied territories.

An AFP journalist at the protest saw two demonstrators with gunshot wounds.

The territory's health ministry also said as many as 12 Gazans had been wounded at various rallies along the border.

The occupying regime has taken the territory under four full-scale wars since the 2000s. The regime also regularly conducts airstrikes on the territory against alleged targets belonging to Hamas or the movement's fellow Gaza-headquartered resistance group of the Islamic Jihad.

Posted on: Sep 16 08:13
Posted on: Sep 16 08:12

Hundreds of rioters have been charged, convicted and sentenced for joining the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. Unlike their cases, Samuel Lazar’s appears to have been resolved in secret — kept under seal with no explanation, even after his release from prison.

Lazar, 37, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, was arrested in July 2021 on charges that he came to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, dressed in tactical gear and protective goggles, and used chemical spray on officers who were desperately trying to beat back the angry Donald Trump supporters.

There is no public record of a conviction or a sentence in Lazar’s court docket.

But the Bureau of Prisons told The Associated Press that the man was released from federal custody this week after completing a sentence for assaulting or resisting a federal officer. Lazar was sentenced in Washington’s federal court on March 17 to 30 months in prison, according to the Bureau of Prisons, but there’s no public record of such a hearing. He had been jailed since July 2021.

Posted on: Sep 16 07:30

The news that Denmark is moving away from the so-called “affirmative model of care” approach to youth struggling with gender dysphoria exposes, once again, how utterly radical and out of step with the rest of the world Canada and blue America are on the issue of “sex changes” for minors. Predictably, mainstream media outlets have ignored this development entirely — there is no press coverage that I can find. This may be due to the fact that this shift was published in the major medical journal Ugeskrift for Læger, the Journal of the Danish Medical Association, in Danish.  

Fortunately, the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM) has published a synopsis, noting that most “youth referred to the centralized gender clinic no longer get a prescription for puberty blockers, hormones, or surgery—instead they receive therapeutic counseling and support.” SEGM published a summary of the shift 

In the last several weeks, health journalists have reported that change may be afoot in Denmark. The article in Denmark’s Medical Association journal Ugeskrift for Læger leaves very little doubt that Denmark too has made a course correction in youth gender transitions, restricting this option to very few cases, while prioritizing counseling for the vast majority of the currently presenting youths. The article is an excellent summary of the rise-and-fall-of the “gender affirmation” model of care in Denmark. It describes how in 2016, following the influence of other northern European countries, Denmark chose to offer “a treatment approach with few barriers to hormone treatment for children and young people with gender dysphoria.” The treatment was justified by the foundational Dutch studies, “which indicated better well-being and body satisfaction after hormone treatment, a low degree of regret and few side effects.” However, the increasing number of referrals, changes in the presentation in gender dysphoria, and growing reports of regret—combined with a lack of long-term outcomes of the one and only sample of youth (n=55) on which the entire practice of gender transition rests—led the Danish clinicians to reverse course.

Webmaster addition:

Posted on: Sep 16 07:28

Unhealthy foods should be taxed by the government in order to shape the decisions of poorer people and reduce the strain on the National Health Service, former Prime Minister Tony Blair said this week.

The opposition to the “nanny state” is small in the UK, Tony Blair surmised, and therefore the government could get away with imposing regressive taxes on so-called junk foods similar to the smoking ban in indoor public spaces imposed when he served as prime minister in 2007.

The former Labour Party leader argued that because of Britain’s socialised medical system, the government would be justified in trying to force people into making better decisions with their health, despite such measures disproportionally impacting people on the lower end of the economic spectrum.

“We’ve got to shift from a service that’s treating people when they’re ill to a service that is focused on well-being, on prevention, on how people live more healthy lives,” he told The Times of London.

Webmaster addition: Wouldn't it be better to make unhealthy foods healthy?

Posted on: Sep 16 07:27

US strategists have for decades viewed Ukraine as a chink in Russia's armour. Steve Poikonen, host of live webcasts AM WakeUp and SlowNewsDay, pointed out how Washington think-tanks openly discussed provoking a conflict years earlier.

US deep state and financial interests openly schemed for years to provoke the conflict in Ukraine, says a media commentator.

Webcast host Steve Poikonen told Sputnik he was gratified that NATO leaders were "finally saying that it's a proxy war now."

That was "delightfully refreshing" after more than a year of "being called a tinfoil hat or Putin apologist for merely suggesting that what we are engaged in is a proxy war," he said.

The media commentator characterized the "permanent unelected state, the neocons and the military industrial complex" in the US as a "death cult."

Posted on: Sep 16 07:26

A possible key witness against Biden is speaking out from Ukraine and is making serious accusations against the incumbent U.S. president. The latter is said to have tried to have him killed. The accusations carry weight, coming from none other than Ukraine’s former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who in 2015 led investigations that became so dangerous to Biden that in 2016 he blackmailed the Ukrainian government into dismissing Shokin.

Investigation of criminal acts in Burisma

The news from Ukraine comes at the worst possible time for the Bidens, as the dubious foreign activities of the Biden family in recent years are increasingly becoming the bane of both the son and the father:

This week, for example, the Republican chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, announced impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Joe Biden. Almost simultaneously, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley announced that an internal FBI document obtained by the U.S. House Oversight Committee for review contained information about 15 audio recordings of Hunter Biden’s conversations and two recordings of Joe Biden’s conversations with a “foreign national” associated with Burisma.

This foreign national is most likely disgraced Ukrainian ex-minister, businessman and owner of Burisma Holdings, Mykola Zlochevsky. The footage may prove that both father and son Biden received kickbacks from Burisma.

Webmaster addition: Along with how many other US politicians?

Posted on: Sep 16 07:24

The Department of Justice on Friday blocked testimony by agent Elvis Chan before the House Judiciary Committee.

Chan was involved in the Big Tech’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story weeks before the 2020 election in order to help Joe Biden.

The Daily Mail reported:

The Department of Justice pulled a last-minute maneuver to block an FBI agent allegedly involved in Big Tech’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story from testifying before Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Hunter Biden’s laptop was downplayed by social media companies. As part of the probe, Chairman Jim Jordan uncovered that an FBI agent involved in the saga – Elvis Chan – lied about the computer.

Chan had agreed to voluntarily appear Friday to provide the committee testimony and be represented by his personal counsel.

Agency witnesses are allowed to bring either agency counsel or personal counsel to committee interviews, but not both. The rule is set up so agency witnesses can be more candid in testimony without fear of professional retribution, according to the committee.

But two sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell DailyMail.com that DOJ derailed the testimony because agency counsel also showed up Friday morning. As a result, Chan’s interview did not take place as planned.

Now, an official subpoena is expected to be issued later Friday for Chan to appear for a transcribed interview next Thursday, Sept. 21.

Posted on: Sep 16 07:22

Eric Molitor cried in court today after the verdict was read.

Twin brothers William and Michael Null, along with Eric Molitor, were acquitted on Friday by an Antrim County, Michigan, jury on charges of providing material support for a terrorist act and illegally possessing firearms. The three men faced up to 20 years in prison for their alleged crimes.

The entire plot was hatched, planned, paid for, and executed by paid FBI informants.

The FBI informants pushed the violent plans to kidnap Whitmer. It was all a setup.

Posted on: Sep 16 07:01

Defeat hate by purging all books written before 2008!

The Peel District School Board near Toronto had its libraries remove all books written before 2008 as part of an "anti-racist and inclusive audit."

The purge took place over the past year with students shocked to return to school to see their libraries with half-empty shelves.

From CBC News, "'Empty shelves with absolutely no books': Students, parents question school board's library weeding process":

Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Those are all examples of books Reina Takata says she can no longer find in her public high school library in Mississauga, Ont., which she visits on her lunch hour most days.

In May, Takata says the shelves at Erindale Secondary School were full of books, but she noticed that they had gradually started to disappear. When she returned to school this fall, things were more stark.

"This year, I came into my school library and there are rows and rows of empty shelves with absolutely no books," said Takata, who started Grade 10 last week.

She estimates more than 50 per cent of her school's library books are gone.

In the spring, Takata says students were told by staff that "if the shelves look emptier right now it's because we have to remove all books [published] prior to 2008."

Webmaster addition:

Posted on: Sep 16 06:58

As migrants from Central America surge north in hopes of reaching the porous US border, businessmen and elected officials have turned the journey into a well-oiled, and profitable, machine - making "tens of millions" of dollars per year (or more, see below).

The Darién Gap, once a formidable natural barrier between North and South America, has essentially become a marketplace. Remote and beautiful, a constellation of small towns leading to the gap has been become a hub for mass migration, according to the NY Times.

The towns are riddled with poverty, and are housing a population that has long been victims of the country's internal conflicts. Their sewage, water, and electricity systems, already frail, were overwhelmed when thousands of Haitians began to show up in 2021, fleeing the chaos that spiraled after their President's assassination.

The Darién Gap has quickly morphed into one the Western Hemisphere’s most pressing political and humanitarian crises. A trickle only a few years ago has become a flood: More than 360,000 people have already crossed the jungle in 2023, according to the Panamanian government, surpassing last year’s almost unthinkable record of nearly 250,000.

In response, the United States, Colombia and Panama signed an agreement in April to “end the illicit movement of people” through the Darién Gap, a practice that “leads to death and exploitation of vulnerable people for significant profit.” -NY Times

Opportunists seize the day

"This is a beautiful economy," said Fredy Marín, a former town councilman from the municipality of Necoclí, who operates a boat company that ferries migrants on their way to the US. Marín says he moves thousands of people per month for $40 per head.

Marín is now running for mayor of Necoclí, where he's vowed to preserve the thriving migration industry, which has led to locals selling essentials like tents, snake repellent, and even toddler-sized rubber boots to migrants.

Webmaster addition: And where are these migrants getting the money for such thing? We are told they are migrating to the US because of the extreme poverty in their home countries. Are the migrants making money by bringing drugs like Fentanyl into the US?

Posted on: Sep 16 06:55

In Vladivostok this week, the 'Russian Far East' was on full, glorious display. Russia, China, India, and the Global South were all there to contribute to this trade, investment, infrastructure, transportation, and institutional renaissance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin opened and closed his quite detailed address to the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok with a resounding message: “The Far East is Russia’s strategic priority for the entire 21st century.”

And that’s exactly the feeling one would have prior to the address, interacting with business executives mingling across the stunning forum grounds at the Far Eastern Federal University (opened only 11 years ago), with the backdrop of the more than four kilometer-long suspension bridge to Russky Island across the Eastern Bosphorus strait.

The development possibilities of what is in effect Russian Asia, and one of the key nodes of Asia-Pacific, are literally mind-boggling. Data from the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic - confirmed by several of the most eye-catching panels during the Forum - list a whopping 2,800 investment projects underway, 646 of which are already up and running, complete with the creation of several international Advanced Special Economic Zones (ASEZ) and the expansion of the Free Port of Vladivostok, home to several hundred small and midsize enterprises (SMEs).  

All that goes way beyond Russia’s “pivot to the East" which was announced by Putin in 2012, two years before the Maidan events in Kiev. For the rest of the planet, not to mention the collective west, it is impossible to understand the Russian Far East magic without being on the spot - starting with Vladivostok, the charming, unofficial capital of the Far East, with its gorgeous hills, striking architecture, verdant islands, sandy bays and of course the terminal of the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway. 

Posted on: Sep 16 06:53