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Topics - Crafty_Dog

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Politics & Religion / Making the Case that there is electoral fraud
« on: September 24, 2022, 12:39:35 PM »
GM and I were talking earlier today. 

I want to make the case for the existence of electoral fraud in a way that will communicate to a large, generic audience that has been breathing in the noxious fumes of the Goolag and the Pravdas and does not know any better.

At first this thread is to serve as a dumping ground for the raw material for making the case.

Specifically, I am looking for:

a) the numerous clips/quotes from Dem luminaries (circa 2006?) such as Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler, Jimmy Carter and others that mail-in ballots are the path to vote fraud.  (Bonus points for examples of this being done (e.g. 2008 the Senate race that gave Dems the margin for Obamacare by giving the victory to the SNL comedian)

b) clips/quotes from MSM showing how easy it is to hack Dominion and other vote machines;   

c) clips/quotes from various Dems in support thereof;

d) history of vote fraud:  For example, working from memory, decades ago a Philadelphia mayoral election was overturned, a Miami FL mayoral election was overturned (this was prior to 2000);

e) Peter Navarro's piece making the case for fraud in 2020

f) The Time Magazine article by Progs bragging on how they manipulated the coverage

g) We here all know the story of Hunter's laptop being stuffed in 2020.  We need serious SCHOLARLY citation of the facts how who/when/where/how this was done.

h) Serious scholarly citation of the facts of Zuckerberg's $400M and the precise details of how it was spent

i) Serious, scholarly citation of Dem/Deep State comms with FB et al to manipulate the news

j) not central to our case here, but a precisely written of the LEGAL issues and shenanigans by the FBI with regard to Hillary in 2016

When we make contributions here, please begin with a brief statement of to which of these it is directed.

Thank you.

Politics & Religion / Russia-China
« on: September 16, 2022, 05:41:11 AM »

Drilling in the Pacific. Russia and China launched joint naval drills in the Pacific on Thursday, their second such exercises in the past year. Russia’s Ministry of Defense said the drills were aimed at strengthening naval cooperation, maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, and protecting both countries’ maritime activities. Moscow has been stepping up its ties with China as it faces severe economic pressure from Europe.

Tucker has been clearly articulating that puberty blocking is chemical castration and surgeries removing breasts and penises of minors are , , , well child abuse seems too minor a term.

So, I am giving all this its own thread.

Kicking it off with a doctor who does these things getting into the aftermath of "a top end job".

Politics & Religion / Tucker Carlson
« on: August 29, 2022, 07:58:44 PM »
Wish I had started this thread long ago.

Kicking it off with tonight's show.

For the record, I do find him quite glib on the subject of ending support for Ukraine at this point:

Also, his argument at 12:45 was seriously challenged by a post here which I cannot find at the moment-- the gist of it being Russia faces serious problems if it cuts off the oil/gas.

Science, Culture, & Humanities / Natural Law and the Ninth Amendment
« on: August 29, 2022, 02:59:20 AM »
Though there is the Substantive Due Process Doctrine of the Fourteenth Amendment, (opposed by Justice Thomas) I've been thinking about "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" (Dec. of Ind.) and our Ninth Amendment.

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

The first Natural Law is "Eat, Survive, and Reproduce".

Our children are our reproduction.

Are they your kids, or are they the state’s?

Your children are ‘owned’ by Big Brother and his reeducation camps

By Everett Piper

The news this week coming out of Maryland is that the state owns your children; you don’t. Your sons and daughters are Uncle Sam’s, not yours. Or perhaps more accurately, your children belong to Father Mao and Brother Stalin.

They don’t belong to you.

Writing for The Washington Post, Jasmine Hilton reports the following: “A judge on Thursday dismissed a complaint against the Montgomery County school board by parents who alleged that the system’s student gender-identity guidelines violated their state and constitutional rights.”

“Three parents, who filed anonymously in 2020 against the Montgomery County Board of Education, argued that the guidelines curtailed their ability ‘to direct the care, custody, education, and control of their minor children,’ under the Fourteenth Amendment, according to a memorandum opinion.”

“The parents said that the Montgomery County Public School ‘2020-2021 Guidelines for Student Gender Identity’ were designed to work

around parental involvement ‘in a pivotal decision’ in their children’s lives and that the guidelines ‘enable school personnel to allow children to transition socially to a different gender identity at school’ without parents’ notice or consent.”

“In the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Judge Paul W. Grimm sided with the MCBE’s argument that the guidelines advance the state’s goal of protecting students’ safety and privacy. According to [his] memo, the ‘MCBE certainly has a legitimate interest in providing a safe and supportive environment for all MCPS students, including those who are transgender and gender nonconforming,’ Grimm then [concluded], ’And the Guidelines are certainly rationally related to achieving that result.’” So, there you have it. Today’s schools are teaching your sons and daughters that a female isn’t a biological fact and that it’s perfectly healthy for a boy to pretend to be a girl, and when you object, you’re told to stand down because, after all, your children belong to the government, not you. Your children are literally “owned” by Big Brother and his reeducation camps, otherwise known as your local public schools. The message you’re hearing is loud and clear: “These children are ours, not yours.”

And lest you think this is just about the left’s strange fixation on sex; it’s not.

These are the same schools that are teaching your kids to judge people by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. These are the same teachers who claim that 2+2=4 is the product of white privilege and that the use of Socratic logic is racist. These are the smart folks who are telling your sons and daughters that our Constitution is xenophobic, America is systemically evil, and that capitalism is bad while communism is good.

And while all this is going on, your local school board is telling you that you have no right to know about or object to anything they are teaching your progeny. These people think that their moral authority supersedes yours if they truck your 12-year-old daughter off to some crackpot gender transition clinic to get puberty blockers injected into her body. These ideologues think it’s none of your business if your son who is too young to get a driver’s license wants to surgically remove a fully functional organ from his body. They are delusional demagogues who are aiding and abetting minors to live a lie rather than pursue the truth. While they’re brainwashing your children into parroting the nonsense about America being exceptionally bad rather than exceptionally good, they are literally butchering them in their grisly game of social engineering and sexual nihilism. And when you object, they tell you to butt out and be quiet and stop acting like you have any say in the matter in the first place.

Rod Dreher summarizes this grand deception well in his book, “Live Not by Lies”: “We have been ’harmonized,’ which is China’s term for neutralizing citizens as a threat to the social and political order. People born in the 1980s and afterward are hopelessly lost. The brainwashing starts in nursery school. The state’s information-control apparatus has demolished the ability of the young to learn facts that contradict the narrative. They live in a completely different world. They’ve been perfectly manipulated by their education and the Party’s propaganda. They ignore reality. It’s been made easy for them.”

If you listen carefully, you can almost hear John Dewey chuckling in the background: “You can’t make socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society.”

We are at a tipping point. Are your children yours, or do they belong to the state? Are you responsible for “training them up in the way they should go,” or will you simply cede this obligation over to your local government schools?

Think carefully about these questions before you answer. Your response may well determine if your daughter grows up in the land of the free and whether or not your son grows up thinking he has the freedom to steal every ontological right that belongs to your daughter

Politics & Religion / The Indo-Pacific
« on: June 13, 2022, 08:10:32 AM »

June 13, 2022
View On Website
Open as PDF

A New Trade Pact in the Indo-Pacific
The IPEF is an economic structure with security overtones.
By: Victoria Herczegh
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the U.S.-led effort to counter China and foster economic engagement in the region, has officially launched. India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines have joined Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia to participate in the framework negotiations, which will aim to divert trade away from China to the United States. For the new pact to succeed, it will need to leverage existing security alliances as new economic components and opportunities arise.

Economic Allies

Crucially, it will also need the participation of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states, which are strategically essential for anyone hoping to control the Indo-Pacific. Washington has some catching up to do in this regard. Over the past few decades, U.S. priorities were in the Middle East and North Atlantic. The countries of Asia-Pacific took note, understanding that they could not expect much in the way of economic support from the U.S. This gave Beijing a chance to strengthen ties with ASEAN. For China, the bloc may be an important economic ally, but its true value is the maritime access it provides China’s export-oriented economy. It’s no coincidence, then, that Washington is homing in on ASEAN.

ASEAN and the IPEF
(click to enlarge)

The current economic climate favors the U.S. Put simply, the only way ASEAN members can develop their economies is to ally with a stronger economic power. China's economic trouble has put its reliability in question as investment projects stall, as trade flows grow more erratic, and as environmental and social problems imperil the Belt and Road Initiative. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war, ASEAN needs a stable partner more than ever. The U.S. economy is comparatively stable, and Washington is already trying to pivot to Asia in part to contain China.

As important, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) means to spur economic activity among its members, albeit in a way that aligns ASEAN countries with U.S. rules and standards. So far, IPEF participants have pledged only to continue negotiations, which cover digital trade and trade facilitation, clean energy and decarbonization, supply chain resilience, and anti-corruption and taxes. Signatories will determine what will be negotiated in each area, and they can opt in or out of any area. (Flexibility is key in these early phases – ASEAN members want to make sure they don’t anger or jeopardize their ties with China – and while this may risk diluting any agreement IPEF makes, opting in and out could mitigate the problem.)

China-ASEAN Trade & Investment
(click to enlarge)


But there is an undeniable security component to the IPEF. In fact, Washington’s strategy for securing the participation of its members revolves around shared security interests and consists of three efforts: shoring up existing security allies, improving ties with India and improving ties with South China Sea claimant countries.

Existing security allies are a natural cornerstone of the IPEF. These include Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, all of which want to see a stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific with diversified trade and increased commercial political and military action.

Japan’s and South Korea’s geographic positions are particularly important. Located along the Yellow and East China seas, they help restrict China’s direct access to the Pacific Ocean. Japan and South Korea have their differences, especially with regard to historical grievances and their latitude in countering China, but they support the U.S. military presence in the region, have extremely developed economies and have an interest in preventing China from becoming a regional hegemon. Through the IPEF framework, trade routes can be pushed in Japan and South Korea’s favor, anchoring regional states that previously were dependent on China firmly into Japan and South Korea’s economic orbit.

Australia and New Zealand are even more closely integrated into the U.S. security apparatus. Along with the U.K. and Canada, they are members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and share historical roots, aligned cultures and shared security interests. The U.S. and Australia cooperate closely on maritime Pacific issues; Australia provides strategic locations for U.S. naval assets, and the U.S. provides additional military support to protect Australian commercial interests, which are highly dependent on maritime trade. Canberra is especially enthusiastic about the IPEF as an alternative to Beijing. Notably, New Zealand is a little more skeptical of the IPEF because of its trade relations with China. New Zealand wants its options within IPEF formulated in a clear and detailed way in order to dive into further negotiations, which allow it to more easily judge potential consequences. The agreement can likely still offer a feasible alternative to China by providing trade links and new supply chains with ASEAN countries. Still, for New Zealand, like South Korea, relations with China need to be managed carefully.

The second effort, shoring up ties with India, is similarly vital. India’s geographic location makes it critical to the U.S. strategy to contain China westward by land. India may participate in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with the U.S., Japan and Australia, but it has long been the most reserved member of the group. Washington hopes the IPEF could be the economic incentive it needs to foster more security cooperation. For its part, India sees the IPEF as an opportunity to extend its influence farther east and southeast than it otherwise could, specifically by moving transportation and supply lines there that currently run elsewhere. Moreover, IPEF initiatives align with many of India’s national economic development initiatives such as transitioning to a net-zero economy, converting India into a global hub for making electric vehicles and transitioning to a pattern of energy consumption that relies more on clean renewables.

As important, India’s participation in the IPEF will draw in the participation of Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore, countries for which Indian trade is increasingly important. Inflation in these countries is soaring, and they need steady imports of food and fuel, which India can provide. If India can provide that through the IPEF, it will have greatly lessened these four countries’ reliance on China.

The remaining IPEF participants – the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia – are countries that are disillusioned with failed Chinese promises and are thus ripe for the U.S. to peel away. These countries need a steady inflow of foreign direct investment to modernize their infrastructure with well-timed and structured projects. Belt and Road projects have been stalled in the Philippines and Malaysia, while Brunei has not received its promised amount of investment. The U.S., Japan and South Korea have already pursued ad hoc efforts to counter China’s Belt and Road efforts in these countries through the frameworks of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, a promising but not well-structured set of mechanisms meant to improve the well-being of the region’s states. The IPEF supports improved economic activity for these countries as well as greater ties and access to developed economies capable of meeting their infrastructure needs.

But as with other countries in the IPEF, there are security dimensions to improved economic ties. All these countries are claimants of some maritime territories in the protracted South China Sea dispute. This, of course, makes their relations with China strained, especially now that China has once again become more assertive in the region. Individually, there is little these three countries can do to confront or sway China. Support from the U.S. and its stronger security allies in the region such as Japan and South Korea could induce them to veer from China and pull closer to the U.S.

Of course, there are ASEAN members that are not included in the IPEF: Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos. These countries are the least developed in the bloc and the most dependent on China, particularly in terms of foreign direct investment, and as such were not invited to join the group. They are simply too close to China, and their domestic affairs would present too many obstacles for Washington to overcome.

The other countries may well be more promising candidates, but they are not without their doubts. Their participation will depend on the rules and structures of the pact, and the extent to which those rules and structures indeed help them steer clear of China, which is still a wealthy, eager and geographically convenient partner. As far as the U.S. goes, the timing couldn’t be better.

Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Geopolitics of The Pacific Ocean
« on: June 02, 2022, 08:36:48 AM »
The Pacific Islands Emerge as the Next Theater for Great Power Competition
7 MIN READJun 1, 2022 | 19:21 GMT

Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) and Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama attend a joint press conference in Fiji's capital of Suva on May 30, 2022.
Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) and Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama attend a joint press conference in Fiji's capital of Suva on May 30, 2022.

(LEON LORD/AFP via Getty Images)

China's troubled agreement with Pacific Island nations highlights the growing competition with the United States and Australia for regional influence, which will grant bargaining power to the often-overlooked island countries. On May 30, China failed to reach an agreement with Fiji and nine other Pacific Island nations on a joint communique that laid out a five-year plan for trade and security cooperation with the region.

Despite Foreign Minister Wang Yi's assurances of the deal's mutually beneficial nature, the prime minister of Fiji — where the deal was supposed to be announced — claimed that the region could not yet agree to a deal as it prized consensus. Other leaders pushed to delay or amend the deal, though few details are available on their specific concerns. This comes after the president of Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) urged his fellow Pacific Island nations on May 25 not to subject the region to great power competition by signing the deal. China's failed pitch also follows U.S. President Joe Biden's May 20-24 visit to South Korea and Japan, where he launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework with 13 founding member countries (though Fiji became the 14th on May 28). Biden attended a meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue on May 24 as well, which saw the United States, Australia, India and Japan launch a regional initiative to combat illegal fishing — a practice for which China is the primary culprit.

The Pacific Islands is a critical strategic space for all three powers. China is interested in projecting power beyond the Second Island Chain and thus buffering U.S. efforts to project military power and surveillance capabilities from the Pacific Islands into China's near seas and provide strategic depth for U.S. troops in Guam and Hawaii. Australia, for its part, sees the Pacific Islands as its strategic ''backyard'' and thus is highly motivated to maximize its own military access to the region while minimizing the ability of rival countries like China to project naval and economic power in the region.

The United States and China have high political stakes in 2022. President Biden is heading into the November midterm elections at a time of bipartisan hawkishness on China, while Chinese President Xi Jinping is aiming to secure an unprecedented third term in late 2022. Both leaders are also navigating the domestic economic hangover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia is also deeply invested in the region, with newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attempting to quell domestic concerns that he may ease up on his predecessor Scott Morrison's efforts to protect the Pacific Islands — or what Morrison referred to as Australia's strategic ''backyard'' — from Chinese threats.

All three regional heavyweights have deep interests in the Pacific Islands, a region that has historically been a quieter theater for U.S.-China and Australia-China competition but is now receiving greater political attention amid recent developments in the Solomon Islands. In late March, China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands that permitted Chinese naval vessels to replenish in the country and Chinese police to deploy there at the request of Honiara, the country's capital. This follows the November 2021 protests in the Solomon Islands, which targeted the Chinatown on the island of Malaita and saw Australia deploy police to restore order at the request of the Solomon Islands. Amid these developments, along with rising tensions between China and both Australia and the United States, all three governments are more intentionally engaging with the region to avoid losing influence in the strategic middle ground of the Pacific.

Besides the Solomon Islands agreement, Beijing has signed wide-ranging deals with the 10 Pacific Island countries that have diplomatic relations with China, including memoranda of understanding related to China's Belt and Road Initiative focused on trade, investment and infrastructure development. These countries also hope to access China's massive tourism market, jointly develop maritime mineral and fuel resources, and counterbalance relations with Australia and the United States.

U.S. interaction with the region has been focused on nations in Micronesia — namely, the Freely Associated States (FAS) of Palau, the Marshall Islands and the FSM, which provide Washington exclusive naval access to the region in return for aid and the right of local citizens to live and work in the United States. However, Washington's attention to the region has lapsed in recent years. President Biden only appointed a new lead negotiator in March 2022 to renew the Compacts of Free Association with the Marshall Islands and FSM (set to expire in 2023), over a year after the last meeting in December 2020.

Australia's relations with the Pacific Islands are region-wide and heavily focused on investment. But Canberra's closest ties are concentrated in Melanesia in the form of agreements with Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea that give the island nations access to Australia for foreign workers in exchange for providing the Australian navy regional maritime access. In September, Australia also signed onto AUKUS, a weapons access deal with the United States and the United Kingdom that secures Canberra long-term access to nuclear submarines. This technology will allow Australia to boost maritime deterrence and surveillance in the broader Indo-Pacific, but especially in the Pacific Islands.

These developments will test the United States, Australia and China's regional engagement strategies and give Pacific Island nations unique leverage to maximize foreign assistance from these major global powers. Though most Pacific Island nations have minuscule populations and economies, this new attention from Beijing, Canberra and Washington will enable the Pacific Islands to rebalance external involvement toward domestic development and regionally salient issues like climate change. It will also require them to deftly balance strategic issues like foreign military access without ceding territorial or resource sovereignty, a consideration evidenced in the delayed Chinese joint communique. Though the Pacific Islands may face some risk of retaliation (i.e. Chinese trade coercion) if they push back too strongly on such deals, the deep-seated fear in China of losing regional influence to the United States or Australia — and vice versa — puts these small nations in a strong bargaining position.

Amid an election year in which hawkishness against China is a widely accepted measuring stick for governing effectiveness, Washington will be under pressure to up its trade and investment game in the Pacific Island region and bolster ties with nations outside the FAS to counter China's influence. The United States may also seek to expand the IPEF to more Pacific Island nations. To avoid losing influence in Micronesia, the United States will push to make meaningful progress on FAS negotiations as well — lest it risks ceding its strong military footing in the region to China, which has long looked for ways to boost its influence in the traditionally pro-U.S. states of Palau, the Marshall Islands and the FSM.

The recent setback with the regional development deal will test China's ability to tailor its engagement to the needs of Pacific Island nations, which are currently more concerned with climate change and local economic issues than they are with the region's security. Addressing such local needs, however, is not usually Beijing's strong suit in matters of development assistance. Should China be able to salvage the deal, this would serve as a much-needed diplomatic win as Beijing fends off global opprobrium for its tacit support of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In Australia, heightened competition for influence in the Pacific Islands will test new Prime Minister Albanese's ability to maintain (and perhaps improve) trade ties with China, while also rebuffing Beijing's regional military advances — partly through continued elevated security engagement with the United States. Likewise, in New Zealand, the administration of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be under pressure to boost both its trade and security engagement in the Pacific Islands region. This will challenge Ardern's preferred approach toward China of prioritizing trade relations and reserving ''competition'' mainly for issues of human rights and less for the military realm.

Politics & Religion / Taiwan
« on: April 21, 2022, 02:29:12 PM »

Politics & Religion / Convoy!
« on: February 20, 2022, 08:37:29 PM »

Feel free to duplicate post here and on the CW2 thread or other related threads.

Politics & Religion / Microchips
« on: December 22, 2021, 03:49:24 AM »
Microchips are macro important and seem to keep coming up so herewith I begin this thread:

What on earth can be holding up the House (the Dems) from passing the bill in question?!?

Too little, too late for American-made microchips

Supply interruptions in Asia to delay manufacturing well into next year


Thousands of new cars are piling up at manufacturers’ lots, the price of electric toothbrushes has surged, coffee machines have disappeared from store shelves, and Apple has drastically cut its iPhone production.

The global computer chip shortage is showing no signs of abating heading into 2022, and the Biden administration’s proposed solution remains years away.

President Biden and his Cabinet have urged Congress to pass legislation that would invest $52 billion to increase U.S. semiconductor chip production.

Supply interruptions have depleted consumer product inventory, and offi cials say domestic chip production is critical.

The bill, known as the CHIPS for America Act, passed the Senate in July with bipartisan support but stalled in the House.

At a speech last month in Detroit, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo implored Congress to pass the bill so the U.S. can “immediately” begin ramping up chip production.

Even if Congress does act urgently, the legislation is no quick fix, analysts say. By the time U.S. semiconductor chip manufacturing can get up to speed, the crisis will have long passed.

“The chip shortage is going to get resolved in the second half of 2022. It takes three years for a new chip [factory] to come to production,” said Gaurav Gupta, vice president of semiconductors and electronics for Gartner, a technology research and consulting company.

Even if the U.S. increases production significantly, he said, it can’t completely remove itself from the global supply chain. The testing and packaging are

completed in Southeast Asia, where costs are much lower.

It costs 30% more to make a chip in the U.S. than in Asia, according to a 2020 report by the Semiconductor Industry Association. That could add $10 billion to $40 billion to production expenses.

“You’ll still send the chips back to Southeast Asia unless you are bringing the complete ecosystem here, and you won’t because it’s impractical to do that,” Mr. Gupta said.

It is not clear whether the federal dollars allocated under the CHIPS Act would be enough to support domestic production. The U.S. share of the global semiconductor manufacturing market dropped from 37% in 1990 to 12% in 2020, according to the industry association. Europe’s share dropped from 44% to 9% in the same time frame. Asia now holds 75% of the world’s semiconductor manufacturing capacity.

“There’s no special sauce down there except money,” said Paul Gratz, who teaches computer engineering at Texas A& M University.

In China, where it costs nearly 50% less to produce a semiconductor than it does in the U.S., the government is spending $150 billion to increase chip production. That is nearly triple the investment under the CHIPS Act.

Some fear the U.S. bid to increase domestic manufacturing will lead to a glut of chips in the market, resulting in falling prices and negative or zero revenue growth.

The revenue of the top 10 semiconductor firms, including Intel and Samsung, declined by 12% in 2019 because of oversupply, according to Gartner’s research.

The potential for overcapacity is on the horizon as automobile and smartphone makers slash inventory because of sluggish sales.

“You have to solve this problem in a systematic manner,” Mr. Gupta said. “You don’t have to go with political sentiment.”

U.S.-based Intel Corp. announced Thursday that it will spend $7.1 billion to build a massive packaging and testing facility in Malaysia, bucking the administration’s call for more domestic manufacturing.

The $7.1 billion is part of Intel’s overall $30 billion investment in Malaysia, which will include a sprawling complex to build chips for cars, computers and other industries.

Mr. Gratz said the U.S. needs to stop relying on Asian countries for semiconductor chips.

South Korea and Taiwan are the world’s two chipmaking powerhouses, combining for roughly 43% of the global market, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. Both nations, however, are under global threats that could lead to instability. South Korea has repeated conflict with North Korea, and fears of a full Chinese invasion of Taiwan persist.

“In the long term, [the CHIPS Act] is probably beneficial for us because two countries that have the lion’s shares of the market are Taiwan and South Korea,” Mr. Gratz said. “By investing domestically, it is going to give us more of a cushion if there is a geopolitical shake-up.”

Instead of ramping up domestic production, Mr. Gratz said, companies should invest in technologies to use alternate chips.

That strategy would pay off for the auto industry, which has been devastated by the chip shortage.

Automaker Tesla has survived by developing its own semiconductors and changing its software to use fewer chips.

The chip shortage is expected to cost the global automotive industry $210 billion in revenue this year, but Tesla has shown a string of profitable quarters and a growing business.

“What Tesla did was very impressive,” Mr. Gratz said. “They were very flexible with respect to retooling and spent a lot more on software so they can use different processors into their cars.”

Tesla’s technology investment enabled it to increase production while other automakers slowed or shut down production because of the chip shortage.

Toyota cut production targets in the U.S. and overseas by 15% last month. Ford announced this summer that it has 70,000 partially built cars awaiting semiconductor chips. Ford did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the number of vehicles that have been completed.

Other manufacturers are looking into technological investments. General Motors said it will work with chip manufacturers to develop devices that combine several functions previously controlled by chips.

Ford and other automakers are seeking partnerships with semiconductor companies to give them more control over the supply and design of chips.

LIKE WATCHING GRASS GROW: With new cars idle, U.S. automakers can’t wait for President Biden’s CHIPS for America Act to get factories running. Meanwhile, Tesla has found its own solution to the shortage. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Southeast Asian nations will continue testing and packaging semiconductors even if the U.S. increases domestic production significantly. It costs 30% more to make a chip in the U.S. than in Asia, adding $10 billion to $40 billion to production expenses. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Politics & Religion / Crime and punishment
« on: December 09, 2021, 01:43:35 PM »
The thread for this is now on a different forum so starting it afresh here:

Politics & Religion / The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial
« on: November 04, 2021, 02:37:57 PM »

Who Is Kyle Rittenhouse and Why Is He on Trial for the Kenosha Shootings?

Rittenhouse faces homicide charges over killings of two protesters and injuries to a third in Kenosha, Wis., last year
By Akane Otani
Updated Oct. 28, 2021 5:49 pm ET

Prosecutors have accused Kyle Rittenhouse of fatally shooting two men and wounding another as they were protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.

He is currently on trial facing six criminal counts regarding the incident, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, recklessly endangering safety and possession of a dangerous weapon.

Who is Kyle Rittenhouse?

Kyle Rittenhouse, who is from Antioch, Ill., first came to public attention after videos posted on social media from Aug. 25, 2020, showed him armed with a gun and running at the site of the shooting. At one point, he can be heard in a video saying, “I just killed somebody,” according to a complaint filed by the Kenosha County District Attorney.

The teenager was charged two days later and could face life in prison if convicted of first-degree intentional homicide.

Antiracism protests took place in Kenosha, Wis., and other U.S. cities Wednesday amid anger over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Authorities identified the officer who shot Blake in Kenosha on Sunday as police arrested a 17-year-old in connection with a deadly shooting during protests there on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wroblewski for The Wall Street Journal

Lawyers for Mr. Rittenhouse have said that his actions were self-defense against angry protesters. Laster year, attorney John Pierce said on Twitter that the teen was “a Minuteman protecting his community when the government would not.”

“More American men should fulfill their duty,” said Mr. Pierce. “He is a shining example of the American fighting spirit.”

What can we expect from the trial?

Prosecutors will have to overcome a longstanding law in Wisconsin that makes it more difficult than in many other states to convict someone who claims self-defense.

In Wisconsin, a defendant needs only to present some evidence of self-defense in order to impose the burden of proof on the prosecution to negate that claim beyond a reasonable doubt, said Daniel Blinka, a former prosecutor and professor at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee.

About 17 other states have similar laws, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures. In most states, the defendant has to prove their actions were reasonable.

“The self-defense provisions in Wisconsin clearly favor the defense,” said Joshua Dressler, a professor emeritus at Ohio State University’s law school and author of a widely used textbook on criminal law.

Why was Mr. Rittenhouse in Kenosha, and what happened on the night of Aug. 25, 2020?

In a video taken by Richard McGinniss, a journalist with the Daily Caller, Mr. Rittenhouse is seen with a rifle and a medic kit, saying he is out to protect local businesses. At that point, Kenosha had experienced violent unrest for two nights that left businesses burned, looted and damaged in response to a video that showed police shooting Mr. Blake in the back seven times.

“People are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business, and part of my job is to also help people,” Mr. Rittenhouse said in the video. “If there’s somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle, because I need to protect myself, but I also have my med kit.” Mr. McGinniss later witnessed Mr. Rittenhouse shooting and killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, according to a complaint filed by the Kenosha County District Attorney last year. Mr. McGinniss didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In another video posted to social media, a young man who appears to be Mr. Rittenhouse is seen with a group of men who the videographer says are part of a local militia out to protect businesses from looters. Some of the men stand on a roof with guns.

The complaint filed by prosecutors against Mr. Rittenhouse details what can be seen in video footage along with eyewitness accounts. It alleges that Mr. Rosenbaum tried to engage the teen, who ran away. Mr. Rosenbaum followed. According to the complaint, at some point, Mr. Rosenbaum threw a plastic bag at Mr. Rittenhouse but didn’t hit him. The complaint cites a witness who said he saw Mr. Rittenhouse fire three rounds at Mr. Rosenbaum before he was killed.

At that point, the complaint, citing video, alleges that Mr. Rittenhouse made a phone call in which he said, “I just killed somebody.”

Prosecutors cite another video showing Mr. Rittenhouse running, as people yell about the shooting and chase him. Mr. Rittenhouse trips and falls to the ground, firing at Anthony Huber, who is holding a skateboard and is trying to grab Mr. Rittenhouse’s gun, the complaint alleges. The complaint said Mr. Huber was killed.

Mr. Rittenhouse also fired upon an approaching Gaige Grosskreutz, who was hit in the right arm, the complaint alleges. Mr. Grosskreutz appeared to be holding a handgun as he was shot. A lawyer for Mr. Grosskreutz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

How did the police respond?

In the video of the shooting, after Mr. Rittenhouse allegedly shot Mr. Huber, the teenager can be seen holding a long gun with his arms raised walking toward a police car. Police didn’t appear to stop him, although people in the background can be heard shouting that he just shot someone.

He was later arrested in his hometown by Antioch police.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the national ACLU called for the immediate resignation of Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis and Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth over their response to the shooting.

In response to reporters asking why police didn’t stop Mr. Rittenhouse at the scene, Mr. Beth said: “There’s screaming, there’s hollering, there’s chanting, there’s a squad car running…and there are people running all over the place, so that absolutely…I can picture all kinds of reasons I wouldn’t be focusing on someone doing that,” Mr. Beth said, adding that he wasn’t personally there at the time of the shooting.

Mr. Miskinis has been criticized by protesters and civil-rights groups over comments he has made, including a remark that armed civilians were out to “exercise their constitutional right and to potentially protect property,” and that he wouldn’t comment on the video of Mr. Blake’s shooting because it was just a “snippet of a very large situation.”

Activists have also condemned the police department over videos released on social media that showed Kenosha police officers offering water to a group of men, some of whom were armed, and thanking them. “We appreciate you guys, we really do,” one of the officers can be heard saying. A young man who appears to be Mr. Rittenhouse is with that group.

In response to the criticism, Mr. Miskinis said at a news conference that his officers “would toss a water to anybody.”


Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting Trial to Focus on Reasonableness, Self-Defense

Jury selection to begin Monday over killings of two protesters and injury of a third in Kenosha, Wis., last year
Kyle Rittenhouse, now 18 years old, has pleaded not guilty to charges of homicide.

By Joe Barrett
Updated Oct. 28, 2021 10:34 am ET

Prosecutors in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who killed two people and injured a third during unrest in Kenosha, Wis., last year, will have to overcome a longstanding law in Wisconsin that makes it more difficult than in many other states to convict someone who claims self-defense.

Jury selection is set to begin Monday in Mr. Rittenhouse’s trial on charges including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide. Mr. Rittenhouse, now 18, has pleaded not guilty and is free on $2 million bail.

The killings, which took place in August 2020 during protests and violent unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black, by a white police officer, became politically polarizing. Mr. Rittenhouse, who is from nearby Antioch, Ill., gained a substantial following of right-wing supporters, with many rushing to donate money to his legal defense and hailing him as a patriot for trying to defend businesses. Many on the left condemned his decision to carry an AR-15-style firearm into the chaotic situation two days after Mr. Blake was shot multiple times, calling it a provocation that led to the shootings.

Legal scholars say Wisconsin laws that tilt the burden of proof in self-defense cases from the accused to the prosecution could be critical in the outcome of the case.

“What is really terribly difficult for the state is that under Wisconsin law the prosecutor will have the burden of negating self-defense, beyond a reasonable doubt. And to negate anything is difficult, to negate it beyond a reasonable doubt is extraordinary,” said Daniel Blinka, a former prosecutor and professor at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee.

In Wisconsin, a defendant needs only to present some evidence of self-defense in order to impose the burden of proof on the prosecution to negate that claim beyond a reasonable doubt, Mr. Blinka said. About 17 other states have similar laws, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures. In most states, the defendant has to prove their actions were reasonable.

“The self-defense provisions in Wisconsin clearly favor the defense,” said Joshua Dressler, a professor emeritus at Ohio State University’s law school and author of a widely used textbook on criminal law.

Mr. Blake’s shooting, coming at the end of a summer of tension between police and protesters that began with the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, sparked two nights of protest that devolved into looting and arson. Mr. Rittenhouse, then 17, joined a number of armed individuals who came to defend businesses the following night.

In widely seen videos of the shootings and according to the criminal complaint, Mr. Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum late on the night of Aug. 25 in a parking lot. The shooting occurred as Mr. Rosenbaum appeared to reach for Mr. Rittenhouse’s gun after Mr. Rittenhouse stopped to face him, according to a witness quoted in the criminal complaint.

Mr. Rittenhouse later was seen in video running down a street pursued by several people. After stumbling and falling to the pavement, he shot and killed Anthony Huber moments after Mr. Huber had struck Mr. Rittenhouse with a skateboard and reached for Mr. Rittenhouse’s gun, according to the video and the criminal complaint.

Mr. Rittenhouse also shot and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, who approached Mr. Rittenhouse with what appeared in the video to be a handgun. Mr. Grosskreutz initially raised his hands, but is shown in the video lowering them and taking steps toward or slightly to the side of Mr. Rittenhouse when he was shot.

Mr. Rittenhouse then got up and approached several emergency response vehicles and a police car heading toward the scene, with his arms raised. The officers allowed Mr. Rittenhouse to pass and he proceeded home to Illinois, where he eventually turned himself in.

Mr. Blinka said that prosecutors would likely aim to have the jury focus on each encounter separately to assess the reasonableness each time Mr. Rittenhouse pulled the trigger, while the defense will try to explain the entire incident as a sequence of events that are all connected.

Other elements that could come into play are a video of Mr. Rittenhouse taken shortly before the killings, in which he discusses shooting shoplifters, and the question of whether as a minor he could legally own or openly carry what the criminal complaint identifies as a “Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle.”

Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said in September that he would rule later on whether the video would be allowed, but noted that he was disinclined to do so since the two scenarios are different. Judge Schroeder earlier this month denied a defense motion to drop the weapons charge against Mr. Rittenhouse on grounds that he was entitled to carry the weapon under state hunting laws, but said he would consider it further at a later time.

In a hearing Tuesday, Judge Schroeder said that the defense could refer to men killed by Mr. Rittenhouse as rioters or looters if that is proved during the course of the trial, while the prosecution isn’t to use the term victim for either man because the word is loaded.

Ultimately, the case will be decided by the jury based on their assessment of the reasonableness of Mr. Rittenhouse’s actions, said Cecelia Klingele, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School.

“Our assessments of what is reasonable are very much intertwined with the way we all look at the world. And that is, in many ways, intertwined with some of the larger politics of this moment,” she said. “This is why we have juries. They’re supposed to reflect community norms around reasonable behavior.”




Interview with Kyle's lawyer from several months ago:



WI Self Defense Statute:


11 minute clip assembled by Kyle's team




Shocked! Absolutely shocked that this is coming out only now!


Basis for challenging the firearms charge:


According to Jack Posobiec:

The mayor who let Kenosha burn, the DA, and the lead detective in the Kyle Rittenhouse case are all members of the same family (Antaramian).


27 minutes of quality analysis here from attorney Branca:

Politics & Religion / Cognitive Warfare
« on: October 24, 2021, 03:30:32 AM »

When I am teaching martial arts sometimes I say "Advantage is temporary. The search for it is eternal."

The Maginot Line is what happens when we don't realize that.

We have a lot of Maginot Line in our current mental orientation.

I offer this thread , , ,

Politics & Religion / Woke Capital
« on: August 13, 2021, 11:15:26 AM »
Very promising show this Sunday night on FOX on this.   I saw the host of this show on Tucker.  He is very bright.

Politics & Religion / Hungary
« on: August 07, 2021, 05:01:49 AM »
Tucker has done his show for the last couple of nights from Hungary, including interviewing President Orban.

I'm intrigued and open this thread for assessing what is going on there and why it seems to piss off so many people we like pissing off.

Politics & Religion / Larry Elder
« on: August 05, 2021, 04:49:55 PM »
Here's to the next governor of California!

Politics & Religion / Anti-trust law and related issues
« on: July 05, 2021, 02:15:45 PM »
Obviously this thread will interact heavily with the Goolag thread, but I'm thinking it deserves a thread of its own.

Kicking it off with and editorial from the WSJ-- for the record I'm not sure whether I agree or disagree:

Lina Khan’s Power Grab at the FTC
The new Chair snatches unilateral authority and rescinds bipartisan Obama-era standards.
By The Editorial Board
July 5, 2021 4:43 pm ET

Independent federal agencies have power over American life that the Founders never imagined, and that reign is about to expand with a vengeance in the Biden era. Witness the unprecedented power grab engineered last week at the Federal Trade Commission by the new chair, Lina Khan.

The events didn’t get much attention because the press cares more about politics than governance. But on a series of 3-2 votes, the Democratic commissioners turned agency tradition upside down and gave themselves vast new powers to harass business.

The agency eliminated the long-standing role of the agency’s chief administrative law judge in presiding over fact-finding and rule-making. Now Ms. Khan, or someone of her choosing, will preside. The Democrats also killed the requirement that the FTC staff get a majority vote of the commission to start an investigation. Now only a single commissioner can sign off. Subpoenas can also fly at Ms. Khan’s discretion.

The commissioners rescinded the bipartisan Obama-era FTC statement, adopted in 2015, that the agency follow antitrust law as it has evolved in the courts. This is a sure signal that the three Democrats are planning to dump the consumer-welfare standard for antitrust that has prevailed for decades. Instead the agency will replace it with some new standard it hasn’t specified. Also on the chopping block is the “rule of reason” the Supreme Court has applied to antitrust law for more than a century.

This is the handiwork of Ms. Khan and Rohit Chopra, who is still a commissioner but has been nominated by Mr. Biden to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Ms. Khan is a 32-year-old academic who has no experience running anything. She helped write the October 2020 House Antitrust Subcommittee report on Big Tech and has called for breaking up large firms. Now she’s teeing up the FTC to stretch its powers in a way it hasn’t done since the 1970s and 1980s before it was rebuked by Congress and the courts.

Ms. Khan and her academic ally Tim Wu, who now works in the White House, claim they are merely restoring proper antitrust law from the intellectual detour pioneered by the late, great Robert Bork. But they ignore that modern antitrust law, with its focus on economic analysis and consumer benefit, has also been nurtured by many others. They include scholars Phillip Areeda and Herbert Hovenkamp and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Ms. Khan appears to reject all of that. She writes fondly of railroad regulation, of all things, which was repudiated by Congress after demonstrable failure. She wants to apply the Robinson-Patman Act of 1936 to Amazon and other giants. That price discrimination law was long ago diminished by the courts with hardly a word of objection from Congress.

Ms. Khan may feel she has the political wind behind her given the anti-Big Tech mood on Capitol Hill. Twenty-one GOP Senators voted to confirm her, including some upset with Big Tech for censoring conservative speech. But they voted to make her a commissioner before President Biden made her Chair—a decision he announced only after her confirmation. That was a clear break with tradition that a nominee for Chair be identified before a Senate vote.

These Republicans may be under the illusion that Ms. Khan has only Big Tech in her sights. But the new powers she is claiming will give her authority to shoot at business in all directions. The FTC is supposed to be mainly an enforcement agency that polices bad practices, but Ms. Khan and her fellow Democratic commissioners want to expand its regulatory powers as well. Watch out for rules on privacy and data-collection for starters that will affect hundreds if not thousands of companies.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce awoke to criticize the FTC votes last week. But Republicans in Congress are still asleep.

Wide awake is Amazon, which last week filed a petition with the FTC seeking Ms. Khan’s recusal from actions concerning the giant retailer. The petition includes a declaration from Thomas Morgan, one of the country’s foremost experts on legal ethics who was retained by a firm working for Amazon. Mr. Morgan recounts Ms. Khan’s extensive record of hostility to Amazon and thus her inability to fairly judge the facts of an antitrust case.

“The Majority Staff Report in which Chair Khan played a large part in effect asserts that Amazon is guilty of violating the law,” Mr. Morgan writes. “In my opinion, in any future matter tried before the FTC, Amazon is entitled to decision makers who have a more open mind about those issues than Chair Khan would appear to a reasonable observer to have.”

We have no special brief for Amazon and have criticized its dominance in the e-books market. But the point here is about Ms. Khan’s blinkered zealotry. Don’t expect her to take Mr. Morgan’s recusal advice, but the courts may come to a different conclusion. Meanwhile, American business should get ready. The Khan FTC is coming after you.

Science, Culture, & Humanities / 'Murica!
« on: April 16, 2021, 07:59:51 AM »
Texas on My Mind
Thoughts in and around geopolitics.
By: George Friedman
Last weekend, my wife and I went to the town of Bandera, in the western part of the Texas Hill Country. (We live in the eastern part.) We went there to celebrate the maturation of our COVID-19 vaccinations, as bizarre an idea as anything very real might be. We went to Bandera to ride horses. More precisely, my wife rode horses. My few experiences with horses all ended in pain and embarrassment. On the other hand, I do know how to ride the subway, and how to wedge myself in during rush hour, which she hasn’t mastered.

Bandera calls itself the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” and there is a plaque from a former Texas governor affirming that, so it’s obviously true. We stayed at a dude ranch that had no horses and no room service. My wife secured the deadly beasts elsewhere, while I contemplated a surprising discovery.

Bandera had not been founded by John Wayne’s ancestors. Rather, it had been founded in the mid-19th century by a Polish immigrant, who was followed by 16 Polish families. They landed in Galveston, which had been a major destination for immigrants through that century. How they got to Bandera and why they chose to settle there is unknown to me. What is known is that they made shingles from cypress trees and sold them to buyers in San Antonio. The Polish presence can still be glimpsed, blended into the complexity of the World’s Cowboy Capital.

We went hiking one day and paused at a lookout called Comanche Bluff. The Comanche were a powerful force from the Rocky Mountains to Kansas, and they raided deep into Texas, as far as San Antonio. The bluff was not named after them arbitrarily. The Comanche used the bluff to observe the area below. I have seen the movie “Hondo,” in which John Wayne plays John Wayne to the Comanche Nation. That is a comfortable notion for me. But now I have to face the fact that it was a group of Poles who had to fight and make treaties with the Comanche. I can’t quite deal with the fact that a band of Polish carpenters, and not an Anglo called Hondo, created the Cowboy Capital of the World, and fought the Comanche and lived to tell about it. “Bandera” means “flag” in Spanish, and a white flag near Comanche Bluff marked the border between the Comanche and the settlers. It stood for a while, until violated by both sides.

There is a tendency to see Texas as Anglo country, settled by migrants from Appalachia and the like. They were certainly there and were critical in settling and defining the country. (It was a country before it was a state and, frankly, isn’t sure it made the right move.) In the conventional model of Texas there were Anglos, Mexicans and raiding Indians.

But Texas was much more complex than that. The Polish band was accompanied by a Czech settlement just north of the Hill Country, and Fredericksburg, north of Bandera and west of where I live, was settled by Germans. German flags still fly there, German food is sold and tribute is paid to its famous son, Chester Nimitz, commander of Pacific forces in World War II. Indeed, I am told that until about Nimitz’s time, the schools taught students in the German language. There is a town to the east of where I live called Buda. The only Buda I’ve known in the world is the one attached to Pest on the Danube, in Budapest. There were Hungarian settlers here in Texas, and there is a book written about them, but alas, I am but the sad remnant of a once noble people. There must have been many more settlements that I don’t know of from many more small countries that I am unaware of.

Most of these Germans, Poles, Czechs and Hungarians arrived in the mid-19th century. A wave of revolutions, nationalist and liberal, gripped Europe in 1848. European nations were trapped inside of empires, free to speak their language but not to determine their fate. The revolution intended to free nations like Poland, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary from these tottering entities, allowing them to form their own nations. It was a liberal revolution in the sense that they demanded not only the right to self-determination but also the right to representative governments and the end of the power of the aristocracy. The revolutions failed catastrophically amid a wave of executions, and hence a wave of immigration. The immigrants left their homes not for high moral principles, as some of those on the Mayflower did, but rather to go somewhere where life wasn’t so bitter and a living could be made. In other words, they came for the same reason others came.

It is interesting that they came to Texas. Texas was in its way part of the European revolutions of 1848. Having arrived first in Mexico, the newcomers rebelled against being part of it, and fought a revolution freeing it from Mexican rule. Having lived in Texas for a quarter-century, I will never be seen as a Texan, as I have no ancestors who died at the Alamo. Few states in the union revere the memory of their birth as much as Texas. But then, Texas won the revolution and became an independent nation. It entered the union through a treaty between two nations, the only state created in this way. The independence of Texas’ electrical grid stands as a monument to its rugged independence.

My wife and I chose to live in Texas at a time when we were free to settle anywhere. She wanted to live in a place that was hot and dry and had horses, like her native Australia. I wanted to live with her. I came to love Texas for a sense of freedom I never really felt anywhere else. The state is vast, and outside of the cities, the land is designed for privacy and idiosyncrasy. It has a silence to it that invites thought.

My discovery in Bandera of the original Polish settlers reminded me of the other Central Europeans who came here when the cities beckoned. But they were at one with Texas. They wanted their own life to be lived on its own terms, dealing with droughts and Comanches as needed. When I was raised I was told of Sandor Petofi, a Hungarian revolutionary and poet who died in the 1848 revolution. The land my house rests on was part of a land grant to William Travis, who died at the Alamo. The go-to-hell courage of these two men mingle here, I would like to think.

The insistence on living on your terms must be accompanied by the willingness to die for that right, the fundamental paradox of humans. The Comanche lived that paradox. So did the Poles, Hungarians and the rest. The famed cowboys – immortalized in the writings of Karl May, a German who had never seen America but who would inspire the cowboy movie – could not grasp the meaning of cowboys, many of whom were Black or Mexican, and the rest were the strange confluence of Texans, living their lives as they would.

Politics & Religion / Gov. Ron DeSantis
« on: March 01, 2021, 07:19:25 AM »
Gov. DeSantis had a whole hour on Mark Levine last night.  Added quite a bit to the already strong impression I had of him.

Apparently he came in second to Trump in the CPAC straw poll.

So, starting this thread on him.

Politics & Religion / Economic Espionage (China and others)
« on: February 23, 2021, 05:23:28 AM »
Understanding Economic Espionage: The Present

undefined and Global Security Analyst
Ben West
Global Security Analyst, Stratfor
11 MIN READFeb 23, 2021 | 11:00 GMT

Deputy Attorney General Jeffery A. Rosen on Sept. 16, 2020, at the Department of Justice in Washington talks about charges and arrests related to computer intrusion campaign tied to Chinese government the group called 'APT 41.'
Deputy Attorney General Jeffery A. Rosen on Sept. 16, 2020, at the Department of Justice in Washington talks about charges and arrests related to computer intrusion campaign tied to Chinese government the group called 'APT 41.'

(TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Editor's Note: The following is part two in a three-part series on economic espionage; part one may be accessed here.

Following World War II, the United States firmly established itself as a global political and industrial power. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, it became the world's sole superpower. This ascent has made the United States the preeminent target for industrial espionage in the early 21st century by the main countries that seek to undermine its relative power, Russia and China.

The Soviet Union/Russia
At the midway point of the 20th century, the Soviet Union presented the clearest espionage threat to the United States. It had just detonated its own atomic bomb in 1949 that ended the four-year U.S. monopoly on nuclear weapons, largely thanks to comprehensive Soviet spying on the Manhattan Project. But Soviet espionage was not limited to strategic and military intelligence; the Soviets were also immensely interested in U.S. industrial secrets.

Russia's push to acquire intellectual property started long before the Cold War. Following the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922, it was a political imperative for its leaders to accelerate and expand industrialization in order to catch up with the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France, all of which had begun industrialization before Imperial Russia. An important part of that strategy was the establishment of the Amtorg Trading Corp., a Soviet office in New York that promoted commercial relationships and investment, but was widely suspected of serving as a base for Soviet economic espionage since its founding in the 1920s.

The Soviets soon realized that possession of trade secrets was not enough to replicate the technology. For example, Amtorg employees appear to have gotten their hands on the blueprints for a Ford tractor design, but efforts to replicate the tractor in the Soviet Union failed. So Soviet leaders hired a leading Detroit industrial designer, Albert Kahn, to design factories that could efficiently build tractors. Eager for revenue in the early 1930s following the stock market collapse, Kahn took the contract, but the Soviets ended it early. Having obtained the designs for a factory, they replicated it themselves rather than continuing to pay Kahn to build factories for them. Russian architectural historian Sonia Melnikova-Raich argued that the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin extrapolated from Kahn's designs far more than just tractor production, also establishing more efficient means of production passenger vehicles, trucks and even tanks. This allowed the Soviet Union to develop its entire defense industry. Ultimately, Kahn's tractor factory blueprints helped the Soviets in their fight against Nazi Germany and to maintain parity with the United States in the Cold War that followed.

The Soviet Union continued to rely on imitation of American and European technology and trade secret theft during the Cold War, with mixed results. For example, the Soviet Tupolev TU-144 was a clear imitation of the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic passenger aircraft. While the Soviets were able to match (and even exceed) the Concorde in speed, the project suffered from a lack of demand and safety concerns. The North Atlantic economic zone created a demand for quick travel between Europe and North America for wealthy commercial elites. The Soviet Union's expansive geography also could have benefited from supersonic passenger travel, but demand for flights between Moscow and the rest of the Soviet Union was nowhere nearly as large as demand was for trans-Atlantic travel. Following several crashes, the TU-144 ultimately only flew 55 times carrying passengers. Ultimately, the Soviet TU-144 program was more motivated by a political desire to maintain technological parity than sustainable commercial demand.

Russia continues to pose an elevated espionage threat to countries and companies around the world. While the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s led to a decade of political turmoil, there was a great deal of continuity in espionage activities in the new Russian Federation. Testaments to that continuity are the arrests of CIA officer Aldrich Ames in 1994 and FBI agent Robert Hanssen in 2001, both of whom provided political and strategic intelligence to Soviet handlers and their successors within the Russian Federation. Further arrests and dismantling of spy rings associated with Russian agents like Anna Chapman (2010) and Maria Butina (2018) continued throughout the 2010s. Today, the Russian Federation continues to pose an economic espionage threat to companies, too. At least three cases of Russian economic espionage targeting user information and technological trade secrets at major companies like Yahoo, GE and Boeing resulted in federal charges in the United States between 2016-2019. In 2020, a Tesla employee alerted authorities after a suspicious approach from a Russian national who wanted the employee to install malicious code on Tesla's networks in order to extort money from the company. While charges against this Russian national did not specifically mention espionage, the cyberespionage attacks on Yahoo illustrated an overlap between Russian criminal groups and the state's intelligence apparatus.

A list of priority sectors for business espionage by Russia and China
Modern Russian economic espionage campaigns also appear to replicate the model of establishing a commercial presence in a market to gain access to trade secrets. In 2015, FBI agents arrested Evgeny Buryakov and charged him with spying for Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Buryakov was working under nonofficial cover for the Russian state-owned development bank Vnesheconombank to recruit sources in the energy and finance sectors in New York. Additionally, the FBI issued public warnings in 2014 about the potential intelligence threat state-backed venture capital investment firms like Rusnano pose to the U.S. tech sector.

The clear frontrunner in 21st-century economic espionage is the People's Republic of China and its Ministry of State Security, which has been implicated in scores of trade secret theft accusations in the United States and around the world. Between 1996 and 2019, China stood to benefit from 66 (32%) of the 206 U.S. federal cases involving charges related to the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. China was second only to other U.S. companies, which accounted for 76 of the 2016 cases (37%) over that same period. Over a more recent timeframe, from 2016-2019 China accounted for half of all charges related to economic espionage (18 of 36 cases). FBI Director Christopher Wray has made clear that the U.S. government views Chinese espionage as a serious and growing threat. During public remarks in 2020, Wray noted that the FBI opens a new China-related counterintelligence case on average every 10 hours and that of the nearly 5,000 active FBI counterintelligence cases underway as of 2020, half were connected to China. Wray noted that this marked a caseload increase of 1,300% over the past decade. The economic impact is sizable, too: Researcher Nicholas Eftimiades estimated that Chinese economic espionage activities accounted for $320 billion in losses per year as of 2018, or 80% of the total cost of intellectual property theft to the United States estimated at $400 billion per year by the director of national intelligence.

The United States has introduced a variety of policies, ranging from sanctions to restrictions on Chinese students and programs, designed to identify and prevent economic espionage. History, however, suggests that preventative measures will at best slow down the transfer of technology. China and the United Kingdom had draconian measures in place to deter the illicit transfer of technology: China threatened death for violators and the United Kingdom forbade craftsmen in certain trades from traveling. But even then, secrets made their way out. The current wave of Chinese-led economic espionage targeting the United States is even more difficult to stop because the strategically important trade ties between the two countries facilitate the flow of information and make counterintelligence policies extremely expensive. The United States traded $558 billion in goods with China in 2019; any policy to counter economic espionage is going to have to accommodate the economic realities of the need to continue to do business with China.

a bar graph showing charges under the economic espionage act of 1996
China's strategic interest in conducting economic espionage has been made clear through initiatives such as Made in China 2025 and the Thousand Talents Plan. An industrial plan released in 2015, Made in China 2025 aims to transition China's labor-intensive manufacturing economy to a leader in more value-added technology production. The plan also includes achieving 70% self-sufficiency in high tech industries by 2025 and dominating global tech markets by 2049 — the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The Thousand Talent Plan is another familiar strategy that seeks to recruit scientists, researchers and industry professionals to work in China, thereby bringing in the know-how to help China achieve its ambitious goals. In recent years, U.S. investigators have alleged that the Thousand Talents Plan has offered targeted employees cash bonuses for bringing sensitive documents and trade secrets with them when they relocated to China. A U.S. federal investigation accused Chinese recruiters of offering an engineer at a U.S. energy company in excess of $170,000 in 2018 to bring secrets related to battery technology that his company was working on. Even before the Thousands Talents Plan, China in 2011 offered a disgruntled engineer at energy technology company AMSC $1.7 million to provide trade secrets that would save the partially Chinese-government-owned company Sinovel $800 million in contracts it had with AMSC.

Financial incentives also come in the form of investment and promises of lucrative entrepreneurial endeavors. A Texas-based materials science researcher used several million dollars in Chinese funding to adapt syntactic foam technology — which allows greater buoyancy control in modern maritime vessels — from his previous employer and start his own company in 2014 that provided China with the secrets it sought. Similar incentives are applicable in the pharmaceutical industry, in which China is also heavily interested. In 2016, Chinese investors (likely with state backing) lured a biochemist working on monoclonal antibodies to take sensitive materials from her employer, GlaxoSmithKline, and attempt to start up her own rival business in China. Chinese and Russian interest in pharmaceutical trade secrets only increased in 2020 with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and global race to find treatments and ultimately, a vaccine.

While the United States is a primary target, it is by no means the only target. German industrial chemical company BASF was targeted by Chinese economic espionage attempts in Taiwan, as was the industrial engineering and steel production conglomerate ThyssenKrupp. One of the most successful counterintelligence operations in recent years targeting Chinese espionage efforts took place in Belgium, where authorities arrested Ministry of State Security officer Yanjun Xu for his efforts to recruit intelligence sources within companies.

One major difference between China's current espionage campaign and previous ones is the pace and scope at which the transfer of technology is occurring. Modern technology has facilitated espionage in many ways. The digital storage of information and electronic means of collection allows intelligence operators to collect and transfer terabytes of information on an easily concealable hard drive or anonymous server. The source code and software that is so often the target of modern espionage campaigns can also be exploited much more quickly than technologies of the past, which took years (if not decades) to recreate. Cyberespionage techniques allow collectors access to sensitive information without the logistical complications of sending officers or informants on long, expensive missions through hostile territory. Storing contraband digitally makes it easier to maintain the integrity of the documents and share them as widely as needed. These all contribute to espionage on a scale that far surpasses the slow drip of information during previous campaigns.

It is clear that China has the interest, intent and capability to conduct economic espionage — that has been proved through dozens of arrests, charges and convictions over the past decade. China also appears well-placed to exploit the trade secrets acquired through espionage given its large manufacturing base, capital to support new start-ups, and political support for technological innovation through the Made in China 2025 and Thousand Talents program. China's primary target, the United States, has ramped up counterespionage efforts in response. But whether it's Chinese silk production, British textile mills or American factory production processes, history has demonstrated that it is very difficult to stop the spread of successful technology. History also has demonstrated that economic espionage alone isn't enough to translate stolen trade secrets to economic success, as was the case in French efforts to learn Chinese porcelain production secrets or Soviet efforts to replicate the Ford tractor. While Beijing has many forces working in its favor, its ambitious goal to attain global domination in technology by midcentury is by no means guaranteed. What is clear, though, is that economic espionage will continue to pose a threat to companies and the countries that benefit from their work for years to come.

Next in the series, we will explore the future of economic espionage. China is not the first and will not be the last to rely on economic espionage to achieve politically motivated industrial goals. What other countries stand to benefit from economic espionage, and who might they target?

Politics & Religion / Citizen Trump
« on: February 01, 2021, 11:25:37 AM »

By Chad Day and Rebecca Ballhaus
Feb. 1, 2021 12:25 am ET

Former President Donald Trump started the year with at least $31 million in cash to wield through his new political-action committee as he seeks to remain the leader of the Republican Party.

The money is in the coffers of Mr. Trump’s newly formed leadership PAC called Save America, which in the weeks after the Nov. 3 election began receiving donations in response to fundraising messages asking for money to overturn his election loss.

The PAC has raised $31.5 million since its formation on Nov. 9, according to filings made Sunday with the Federal Election Commission that cover the period through the end of last year. The PAC’s only expenditures since the election have been a little more than $340,000 in fundraising costs.

The Save America funds will be key to Mr. Trump’s efforts to retain his grip on the Republican Party as he considers running for president again in 2024.

Mr. Trump could use the money to support his preferred candidates or back primary rivals to Republicans he is unhappy with. He has privately expressed interest in unseating the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him alleging he incited the mob to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6 and prevent Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory.

One of the 10, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) on Sunday launched his own initiative, called Country First, that seeks to rally Republicans who are opposed to Mr. Trump’s brand of politics.

A representative for Mr. Trump didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Trump’s PAC, which has wide legal latitude in its spending, could also finance travel for Mr. Trump and his allies, pay for advertising and be used to keep certain advisers on payroll. Since his presidency ended, he kept a handful of former White House and campaign aides, including press aide Margo Martin and adviser Jason Miller.

Save America is emerging as the former president winds down the various arms of his 2020 reelection effort, which include his campaign and two committees that jointly raise funds with the Republican National Committee.

Separately, the campaign and joint-fundraising committees combined had about $74 million in cash on hand, filings show. About $60 million of that is sitting in an account for one of the joint-fundraising committees that could transfer money to Save America.

The remaining campaign funds have more restricted uses under FEC rules and could be used in the event that Mr. Trump runs for president again or to pay down the 2020 campaign’s $2.7 million in outstanding debts.

After his defeat, Mr. Trump remained a formidable fundraiser, bolstered by dozens of text and email appeals to raise money for his efforts to overturn the election. All told, Mr. Trump and the RNC raised more than $255 million online between Election Day and the end of the year, according to an FEC filing from Republican online donation platform WinRed.

Trump Victory, one of the joint-fundraising committees with the RNC, raked in some major donations in that period. Fresno developer Richard Spencer gave $11,200 on Dec. 2; Utah attorney Douglas Nielson gave $25,000 on Dec. 16; and investor Lee Beaman gave $28,800 on Dec. 2.

The committee also received $25,000 from the National Fraternal Order of Police PAC on Dec. 2.

The campaign’s primary expenses between Nov. 24 and the end of last year, the period covered by the latest FEC filings, were $11.1 million in contribution refunds; $6.5 million in online and text message advertising; another $5.1 million in advertising specifically related to election recounts and $3.4 million in legal fees related to those efforts, according to the records. Among the legal payments was $1 million to Kasowitz, Benson, Torres, the law firm founded by Mr. Trump’s former longtime lawyer, Marc Kasowitz.

The campaign also paid $63,000 to a firm owned by Rudy Giuliani, who spearheaded Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Representatives of Mr. Giuliani at one point sought for the campaign to pay him up to $20,000 a day. The campaign shows no other payments to Mr. Giuliani.

Trump Victory gave refunds to some major donors, the records show, including $210,000 to longtime donor and real-estate developer Geoff Palmer; $180,000 to venture capitalist Walter Buckley; and $94,000 to former Facebook executive and virtual-reality pioneer Palmer Luckey.

Politics & Religion / Promises kept: Biden vs. America
« on: January 18, 2021, 11:59:08 AM »
Condition of this thread:  Anything posted here must also be posted on other relevant thread(s) as well and discussed there.

Politics & Religion / China Chinese penetration of America
« on: December 11, 2020, 08:26:30 AM »
We now have US-China (South China Sea) and China vs. the World, and with this thread we now have China in America:

Politics & Religion / Biden Transition and Administration
« on: November 18, 2020, 09:18:58 PM »
Looks like we are going to need this one.

Politics & Religion / Eastern Mediterranean
« on: July 20, 2020, 05:40:43 AM »
I've been seeing more and more pieces organized around this concept and so start this thread.

Off the top of my head, I would say that President Trump is looking rather prescient in having played things so that we are not part of this fustercluck.  Imagine if we were still in Syria, defending Turkey's border.

July 20, 2020   View On Website
Open as PDF

    Is the Eastern Mediterranean the New Manchuria and Abyssinia?

Regional tensions are calling into question international institutions’ ability to execute their mandates.
By: Caroline D. Rose

A financial crisis has swept the globe, creating socio-economic tensions and political divisions that divert governments’ attention from important global issues. In the preceding years of chaos, flashpoints emerged in Africa and Asia that pitted revisionists, allies and institutions against one another. Japan installed a puppet government in Manchuria in 1931 before fully invading the mainland six years later. Meanwhile, Italy attacked and annexed Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia) in 1935 and 1936. These actions bent international law to its breaking point and tested the limits of allies. Despite its design for collective security, the paralyzed League of Nations – undermined by entangled allegiances and conflicts among its own members – was effectively dead.

2020 isn’t 1938, but the parallels are difficult to ignore. The world is bracing itself for the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, one that, without a COVID-19 vaccine, may only get worse. Indeed, the 2008 financial crisis may have started the turn toward nationalism and isolationism, but the current pandemic has accelerated it, creating a climate that prioritizes state imperatives over all else and calls into question the reliability of international institutions.

This time, the flashpoint is the Eastern Mediterranean. The ongoing hostility between Greece and Turkey is shaping the contours of energy competition, military alliances, trade partnerships and the Libyan civil war. Caught in the crossfire are NATO and the European Union. Many southern EU members – including Greece, France and Cyprus, all of which directly border the Mediterranean Sea – have called on Brussels to punish Turkey for its behavior there, either through economic measures or collective military action. Turkey isn’t an EU member, though it is an important trade and security partner. It is, however, a member of NATO. So is Greece. A direct military confrontation between them could tear the alliance apart. Notably, NATO weathered similar storms in the 1950s and 1970s, maintaining neutrality on Greece-Turkey disputes, but this time, the rift has pitted a number of NATO allies, outside actors and regional threats against each other in entangled Eastern Mediterranean conflicts, placing institutional credibility in jeopardy.

Time Isn’t On Turkey’s Side

Cultural, religious and ideological differences have no doubt played a central role in the Turkey-Greece rift, but ultimately, it all comes down to maritime interests: Both want unobstructed access to sea lanes and offshore resources. Turkey has been unable to discover hydrocarbons in the continental shelves off its own shores and so remains dependent on gas exports from its rival, Russia, and eastern and southern peripheral neighbors. Volatile relations with Moscow and unstable conditions in the Middle East and the Caucasus have jeopardized shipments, sometimes disrupting pipeline flows, while rising gas prices have caused increased political friction with the ruling government – never a good sign for a country that’s experienced more than 10 coup attempts in the past 60 years. Uncomfortable with the state of affairs, Turkey is trying to tap the proven oil and gas reserves in the Mediterranean, thereby reducing its dependence on others and earning some much-needed cash in the process. It has thus parlayed its relationships with the Government of National Accord in Libya (home to Africa’s largest proven oil reserves and around 1 percent of the world’s gas reserves) and Northern Cyprus to push west.

Yet mounting financial problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a recession in 2018 have forced President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hand. Turkey has therefore upped offshore exploration and drilling activities and enhanced its military presence in a race to secure sought-out resources. This may work in the short-term, but operationally, Turkey doesn’t have the equipment, the resources, the logistics or, most importantly, the money to sustain this campaign. Time is not on Turkey’s side. Greece understands Turkey’s economic urgency and has adjusted its strategy accordingly. Athens has therefore led the charge for an anti-Turkey alliance of European, Israeli and Arab governments, has advanced military partnerships and exercises, and has sought out the promises of EU and NATO collective security to prevent Ankara from securing game-changing revenue sources.
(click to enlarge)
Old Friends, New Aggressors

Though the conflict has been largely confined to gunboat diplomacy, a proxy war in Cyprus, occasional airspace violations, and a rather spicy war of words, Greece’s coalition has increased the likelihood of a messy – potentially conventional – military conflict against its fellow NATO ally. This is no ordinary problem for the EU and NATO, which have made the Mediterranean a top agenda item in recent meetings despite the ongoing pandemic and financial crisis. The EU even held its first face-to-face meeting for EU foreign ministers since the pandemic began to assess EU-Turkey relations. And the EU and NATO have sent scores of foreign ministers and advisers between Turkish and European capitals to keep communication lines open and promote negotiation.

These attempts, however, have been undermined by hard-line elements in Greece and Turkey. Leaders are simply constrained by political pressure at home and a fear of an imminent attack. (There was hope for a breakthrough earlier this summer, but Greek and Turkish moves in Libya, religious tensions over the status of the Hagia Sophia, delimited maritime zone agreements, and continued maritime provocations of Greek fishing vessels and Turkish drilling ships have started to turn both Turkish and Greek public opinion against dialogue, period.) Greek Foreign Minister Mikos Dendias has asked the EU to produce a list of sanctions against Turkey’s banks, tourism industry, and exports and imports, and to reconsider Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty, Europe’s mutual defense clause that asserts EU members’ “obligation of aid and assistance by all means in their power” in the event of an armed aggression on a member state.
(click to enlarge)

The EU is walking a tightrope, balancing its need to cater to one of its members and its need to de-escalate tensions. Brussels has drafted a list of harsher sanctions to smooth Athens’ ruffled feathers, but ultimately the EU and its northern members want to keep this list hypothetical and steer clear from harsher sanctions on Turkey. Only seven countries opposed sanctions: Austria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Slovakia, Luxembourg and Estonia. Yet the EU’s remaining members – many of them Balkan and northern members that are popular destinations for migrant groups traveling from Turkey – indicated they have no appetite for raising stakes with Turkey, a country with a record of encouraging mass refugee migration in Europe when it seeks leverage with Brussels.

With two of its members threatening military action, NATO has likewise sought to balance between southern European and Turkish demands to avoid a fight. After all, NATO has no formal, legal mechanism for expelling a member outside of Article 8, which vaguely bars members from engagements “in conflict with the provisions of this Treaty” without any other enforcement mechanism. The result is a cocktail of appeasement, punitive measures and endless attempts at diplomacy to prevent intra-NATO conflict. For example, after a June 10 incident in which Turkish ships allegedly harassed a French ship under NATO command, a NATO probe sided with Turkey, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with punitive action. Clearly, NATO is coordinating its strategy with the EU, placating Turkey when the EU concedes to Greece in an effort to offset tensions. Giving Ankara and Athens an inch here and there is a way to keep its members happy, retain relative confidence in its credibility, and compensate for the lack of formal enforcement mechanisms.

Even so, escalating tensions between Greece, Turkey and an emerging East Mediterranean coalition is not going anywhere and will serve as both institutions’ greatest litmus test as the EU and NATO struggle to reconcile old friends with new aggressors.   

Politics & Religion / Lloyd De Jongh's thread.
« on: June 02, 2020, 12:07:03 AM »
Woof All:

Opening this thread for my friend Lloyd de Jongh to use as he sees fit.

Lloyd is from South Africa, but he married a Polish woman and now lives in Warsaw.  In South African nomenclature he is "Colored" meaning he is not "pure" black. 

He has deep knowledge of South African prison/criminal knife methods known as "Piper".  Together he and I have founded "Rapid Transients Weaponcraft"-- which is our knife system for good people facing bad problems.   The name is a reference to the theories of John Boyd of OODA loop fame.

He worked throughout the Mideast for years for FLIR installing its detection systems.

Stay tuned!

Politics & Religion / The Great American Reopening , , , or not?
« on: May 13, 2020, 11:01:29 AM »
We've been using the Political Economics thread for this subject, but upon reflection I'm thinking it deserves its own thread.

Elon Musk Isn’t Taking It Anymore
The mercurial Tesla CEO has a point about disparate lockdown treatment.
By The WSJ Editorial Board
May 12, 2020 7:26 pm ET

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is no Paul Revere. But his defiance of Alameda County’s shutdown order captures the frustration among businesses like Howard Beale’s primal scream in the movie “Network.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week allowed some non-essential businesses to begin to reopen, but six Bay Area counties including Alameda, where Tesla assembles most of its electric cars in the U.S., doubled down on their lockdowns.

“Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately,” Mr. Musk tweeted Saturday. “If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependen [sic] on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA.”

A decade ago Mr. Musk rescued and retrofitted an auto-manufacturing plant in Fremont that Toyota had abandoned. The plant now employs 10,000 middle-class workers, many of whom live in rural San Joaquin County where another Tesla factory has been allowed to operate amid California’s shutdown because it is classified as essential.

“This disparate [government] treatment is arbitrary and without a rational basis,” Tesla states in a lawsuit against Alameda County, pointing out that the infection and fatality rates in Alameda and San Joaquin counties are similar. Mr. Musk also argues that Tesla is an essential business because it makes electric motors and battery systems that are “critical infrastructure.”

“The County’s order violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it fails to give reasonable notice to persons of ordinary intelligence of what is forbidden under the law,” the lawsuit argues. He has a point, and arbitrary government distinctions about which businesses can stay open often seem to be based on politics rather than public health or science.

You can understand Mr. Musk’s frustration when Alameda County officials have allowed pot shops to stay open while shuttering his Tesla plant though the company has developed protocols to protect workers. Other governors including Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer have given the green light to auto plants run by Tesla’s competitors.

Mr. Musk dared Alameda officials to arrest him when he reopened Tesla’s plant Monday, and he may get his wish. We don’t encourage lawbreaking, but a legal test of disparate lockdown treatment might rein in the inner dictators who are appearing in many places in America in these pandemic days.

Politics & Religion / Decoupling from China
« on: April 28, 2020, 06:05:17 PM »
Relying on Foreign Drugs Is Dangerous
Generics are often made in India, with ingredients from China. Time to diversify the supply chain..
By Scott W. Atlas and H.R. McMaster
April 28, 2020 1:07 pm ET

Health security is critical to national security. The Covid-19 pandemic is a moment to re-evaluate U.S. dependence on China for pharmaceutical ingredients and to solidify the pharmaceutical supply chain in advance of proliferating threats.

Americans filled the equivalent of 5.8 billion 30-day prescriptions in 2018. That doesn’t count the hundreds of millions of vaccinations administered annually. In 2019 the Food and Drug Administration estimated that 40% of finished medications and 80% of active pharmaceutical ingredients were manufactured overseas, mainly in China and India.

While U.S. pharmaceutical companies may preserve redundancy in their sources for patented drugs, the generic drug business, which accounts for more than 90% of all U.S. prescriptions, prioritizes low cost over supply-chain resiliency. Most generics, including antibiotics, are imported from India—and India imports some 70% of its active ingredients from China. America needs to understand and diversify sources of supply, as well as maintain a strategic reserve of antibiotics and the key drugs for the most prevalent serious diseases.

Beyond scale and complexity, details on drug manufacturing are opaque and complex. The Food and Drug Administration requires country-of-origin markings, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in February that processing ingredients into tablets in the U.S. is enough to constitute “manufacturing.” A drug made into tablets in the U.S. with active ingredients from India may list only the U.S. as “principal place of business” for FDA purposes. Labeling should be straightforward, but not at the sacrifice of security.

Protecting the drug supply also requires guarding against poor-quality and counterfeit medications, a repeated problem of medications from China in particular. Although the FDA conducts 3,500 inspections of generic plants a year, additional measures are necessary. More than half of FDA inspections are conducted on foreign manufacturers, but only a small minority are done unannounced in China and India. The U.S. government should require far greater on-site access and increase the funding and staff to implement that policy. It is also time to stop viewing the reimportation of drugs as a potential solution without serious downsides.

A strategy to diminish supply-chain risk must also take account of China’s dependence on U.S. drugs. The U.S. is the world’s predominant source of pharmaceutical innovation, including new cancer drugs, next-generation biopharmaceuticals and tests that determine which patients will benefit from those drugs. China is highly reliant on foreign sources of more-expensive brand-name drugs, which make up 90% of overall drug revenues, exporting only 1.2% of all medications in total value; the U.S. is among the top five exporters.

China is deeply dependent on U.S. cancer drugs in particular. Of those launched world-wide from 2013 to 2017, 51 of 54 were available within two years in the U.S. Only two were available in China. Cancer survival in China is only half that in the U.S. The Communist Party recognizes this problem. Its Healthy China 2030 Plan exempts most drugs from taxes and omits U.S. cancer drugs from tariffs placed on other medications in 2019.

China has emphasized generating new pharma patents. China now exceeds the U.S. in published applications, even though the U.S. still leads by a wide margin in patents that are ultimately granted. Mutual dependence on uninterrupted access to critical drugs, among both allies and adversaries, is a vital part of risk mitigation. Leaders should make clear that the U.S. will never withhold pharmaceuticals from other nations for coercive or punitive purposes, except when faced with hostile actions, such as acts of war.

Perhaps most important, policies must encourage pharma innovation and production. Reducing vulnerability to health threats such as Covid-19 rests on American discovery and competitiveness. While the U.S. leads the world in health-care innovation, this is no reason to be complacent. Congress should strengthen tax incentives for high-risk investments in early stage medtech and life-science companies, including drug development, and target additional incentives to domestic drug manufacturing.

Developing a new drug typically costs more than $2.5 billion and takes more than a decade. Safety standards shouldn’t be compromised, but lengthy clinical trials can be streamlined. The FDA should continue the impressive work it began in 2016 to expedite drug approvals. During 2017 and 2018, yearly new drug approvals increased by around 70% relative to the eight years under the Obama administration. Finally, legislators must avoid the temptation to impose price regulation and limit patent protections. These measures delay drug launches, reduce access and crush research and development.

A secure drug supply chain couldn’t have made up for the Chinese Communist Party’s decision to conceal the threat of Covid-19. But it is essential for mobilizing resources to mitigate the crisis. And the stakes are high, even in normal times. More than 15 million American seniors, or 1 in 3, take five or more medications daily. As the U.S. population ages, society will become even more dependent on drugs indispensable to treating the biggest killers—heart disease, cancer and stroke. Preventing an interruption of the supply of vital medications that save lives and treat diseases, whether during pandemics or in routine care, is a matter of national security.

Dr. Atlas is a physician. Lt. Gen. McMaster, a retired Army officer, served as White House national security adviser, 2017-18. Both are senior fellows at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Getting to be too many of these that don't fit in existing threads:

Politics & Religion / NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo
« on: April 13, 2020, 07:23:19 PM »
Starting a thread on him for obvious reasons:

Politics & Religion / Nikki Haley
« on: February 25, 2020, 12:56:58 PM »
It occurs to me that we should have a thread for likely 2024 contender Nikki Haley: 

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