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Fed’s Beige Book Sees Continued Easing Of Shortages, But Warns Of Omicron-Linked Slowdowns

Fed’s Beige Book Sees Continued Easing Of Shortages, But Warns Of Omicron-Linked Slowdowns

January’s Beige Book was once again headlined by the utterly useless comment that "economic activity across the United States expanded at a modest…

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Fed's Beige Book Sees Continued Easing Of Shortages, But Warns Of Omicron-Linked Slowdowns

January's Beige Book was once again headlined by the utterly useless comment that "economic activity across the United States expanded at a modest pace in the final weeks of 2021" that has come to reflect the snoozy name of the report. And while we saw recurring and familiar themes mentioned over and over, including supply chain issues and labor shortages, the report noted some signs of easing inflation perhaps as a result of Omicron (which was mentioned no less than 44 times) began to hit activity.

That said, there were few big picture surprises, with the report noting that growth continued to be constrained by ongoing supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, and despite the modest pace of growth, demand for materials and inputs, and demand for workers, remained elevated among businesses. Lending activity picked up slightly toward the end of the year, led by commercial real estate borrowers. At the same time, consumer spending continued to grow at a steady pace (funded primarily by a surge in credit card spending) ahead of the rapid spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. Perhaps the best news is that after peaking in September, mentions of "shortages" have dropped for the 3rd consecutive month to levels from last June.

And now the not so good news: most Districts noted a sudden pull back in leisure travel, hotel occupancy and patronage at restaurants as the number of new cases rose in recent weeks. Although optimism remained high generally, several Districts cited reports from businesses that expectations for growth over the next several months cooled somewhat during the last few weeks. The manufacturing sector continued to expand nationally, with some regional differences in the pace of growth. Overall activity in the transportation sector expanded at a moderate pace. While farm incomes were elevated throughout 2021, agricultural conditions were marred by drought conditions across several Districts.

Some more details from the report:

Economic Activity:

  • Economic activity expanded at a modest pace in the final weeks of 2021.
  • Contacts from many Districts indicated growth continued to be constrained by ongoing supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.
  • Despite the modest pace of growth, demand for materials and inputs, and demand for workers, remained elevated among businesses.
  • Lending activity picked up slightly toward the end of the year, led by commercial real estate borrowers.
  • Consumer spending continued to grow at a steady pace ahead of the rapid spread of Omicron.
  • Most Districts noted a sudden pull back in leisure travel, hotel occupancy and patronage at restaurants as the number of new cases rose.
  • Although optimism remained high generally, several Districts cited reports from businesses that expectations for growth over the next several months cooled somewhat during the last few weeks.
  • The manufacturing sector continued to expand nationally, with some regional differences in the pace of growth.
  • Overall activity in the transportation sector expanded at a moderate pace.
  • While farm incomes were elevated throughout 2021, agricultural conditions were marred by drought conditions across several Districts.

Employment and Wages:

  • Employment grew modestly in recent weeks, but contacts from most Districts reported that demand for additional workers remains strong.
  • Job openings were up but overall payroll growth was constrained by persistent labor shortages.
  • Tightness in labor markets drove robust wage growth nationwide, with some Districts highlighting additional growth in labor costs associated with non-wage benefits.
  • While many contacts noted that wage gains among low-skill workers were particularly strong, compensation growth remained well above historical averages across industries, across worker demographics, and across geographies.
  • Besides wage gains, many contacts indicated adjustments to job demands – such as accommodating part-time work or adjusting qualification requirements – to attract more applicants and retain existing workforces.

Prices

  • Contacts from most Federal Reserve Districts reported solid growth in prices charged to customers, but some also noted that price increases had decelerated a bit from the robust pace experienced in recent months.
  • Wholesale and materials prices contributed to pricing pressures across a wide range of industries, spanning service providers and goods producers.
  • Many contacts attributed the high cost of inputs to ongoing supply chain disruptions.
  • Some Districts reported that transportation bottlenecks had stabilized in recent weeks, though procurement costs remained elevated.
  • Ongoing labor shortages and associated wage growth also added cost pressures to businesses.

Finally, here is a snapshot of business activity by Fed district:

  • Boston: Business activity was steady or up slightly, although performance was somewhat mixed. Employment increased modestly and wages advanced at a strong pace. Input prices climbed at a rapid pace and output prices increased moderately. The outlook was mostly positive but uncertainty remained elevated.
  • New York: The regional economy grew at a subdued pace in recent weeks, restrained by intensifying supply disruptions, labor shortages, and the Omicron outbreak. However, holiday season sales were reported to be fairly solid. Employment and wages increased, and businesses noted ongoing widespread escalation in both input costs and selling prices. Still, contacts continued to express optimism about the near-term business outlook.
  • Philadelphia: Business activity grew modestly during the current Beige Book period – slower than the prior period – and remained below pre-pandemic levels. Vaccination rates rose slightly, but the Omicron variant caused COVID-19 cases to surge – disrupting business once more. Overall, employment growth slowed to a modest pace, and price increases ebbed to a moderate rate, while wage increases continued to rise sharply.
  • Cleveland: The District's economy expanded at a relatively steady pace, although the emergence and spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 dampened sales for some restaurants and hotels. Contacts did not expect Omicron to derail the recovery, but they did anticipate slower growth in the near term. While labor shortages and supply challenges persisted, most firms expected meaningful relief from the latter by yearend 2022.
  • Richmond: The regional economy grew modestly in recent weeks. Manufacturers, ports, and trucking companies reported moderate to robust growth while retail, travel, and tourism remained strong. Home sales and mortgage lending slowed while commercial activity held strong. Employment rose moderately and the tight labor market led to strong wage and price growth.
  • Atlanta: Economic activity expanded at a moderate pace. Labor markets remained tight and wage pressures grew. Nonlabor costs rose slightly. Retail sales were healthy. Domestic leisure travel remained solid. Business travel improved slightly. Housing demand was strong. Commercial real estate conditions improved. Manufacturing activity was robust. Banking conditions were steady.
  • Chicago: Economic activity increased modestly. Employment, consumer spending, and business spending grew modestly; manufacturing was up slightly; and construction and real estate was flat. Wages and prices rose rapidly, while financial conditions were little changed. Agricultural incomes were strong in 2021.
  • St. Louis: Economic conditions have improved at a moderate rate since our previous report. Employers reported continued difficulties hiring to meet increased demand. Input cost pressures have led to price increases, most of which firms were able to pass on to consumers. Contacts expressed concern about the Omicron variant's impact on consumer demand and the supply of labor.
  • Minneapolis: The region's economy saw moderate growth, despite challenges related to labor, higher prices, supply chains, and the Omicron variant. Employment continued to grow, but more slowly than hiring demand. Holiday shopping was strong, and manufacturers reported robust activity. Strong commodity prices and good crop harvests in some areas helped offset widespread drought. Minority- and women-owned business enterprises saw a boost in entrepreneurship.
  • Kansas City: The Tenth District economy finished 2021 at a moderate pace of growth. Businesses reported several non-traditional actions aimed at mitigating supply constraints, resorting to consumer online auction platforms to procure parts and offering enhanced, sometimes novel, benefits to attract workers. Growth in consumer spending on leisure activities was strong. Prices increased broadly. Plans for capital outlays cooled somewhat in December.
  • Dallas: The District economy expanded at a robust pace, with gains broad-based across sectors. Employment growth was strong, and wage and price growth continued to be highly elevated. Home sales remained high, and loan growth increased further. Outlooks improved overall, though uncertainty increased amid a new surge in COVID-19 cases and concern that labor and supply-chain shortages will persist well into 2022.
  • San Francisco: Economic activity strengthened modestly over the reporting period. Employment grew at a moderate pace, while overall conditions in the labor market remained tight. Wages and price levels climbed significantly. Retail sales increased notably, while conditions in the consumer and business services sectors deteriorated somewhat. Lending activity remained steady, and residential construction continued to expand at a slightly slower pace.

Source: Federal Reserve

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/12/2022 - 14:35

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Ivana Trump’s Money Lessons for Older Americans.

Ivana Trump, the first wife of Donald Trump, was recently found dead in her Manhattan residence. She was 73.

Known throughout her life as a dynamo socialite…

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Ivana Trump, the first wife of Donald Trump, was recently found dead in her Manhattan residence. She was 73.

Known throughout her life as a dynamo socialite and dealmaker in heels, her death from a blunt trauma from a fall down the stairs in her multi-story townhome, was a shock to residents who perceived her as vibrant and full of life. So, her passing got me thinking about Ivana Trump’s money lessons for older Americans.

Listen, it’s tough to age, but don’t let the process get you down. It’s too hard to get back up! Get it?

Seriously, a great challenge is an acceptance of growing older. Aging can be a tough pill to swallow. Especially for those who are known for the travails of their younger days. I have friends who explain as they age, they ‘disappear.’ I hate to hear this.

Personally, I’m living my best self and wouldn’t change a thing. However, Ageism is a real societal challenge. Based on numerous surveys, white papers, and reports from health organizations, those who are 60 and older are subject to negative stereotyping and discrimination in the workplace. Also, to younger generations, they do disappear in a manner of speaking.

But I have news for you. I think that’s about to change for you ‘seasoned’ folks.

During the pandemic, the Labor Force Participation Rate collapsed and has yet to recover. For those who need a reminder, the LFPR represents the people age 16 and older employed or seeking employment. Older Americans decided to accelerate retirement. Younger cohorts decided to go out on their own or sit back – satiated by government stimulus.

I think many older Americans will seek to unravel their retirement decision and return to the workforce. Also, I believe they’ll be welcomed with open arms by employers eager for a generation that is timely, responsible, and willing to work!

Let’s kick Ageism where it hurts. Right in the work ethic!

One money lesson I’ve learned from Ivana Trump about older Americans is that the entire world is wrinkling.

According to Peter Zeihan in his latest book – The End of The World is just the Beginning, population, and spending shrinkages are realities the entire globe must embrace. Demographics outline that mass-consumption-driven economies have already peaked.

By 2030, the world will be populated with twice as many retirees. Therefore, we all better internalize the fact that we’re getting older and financially and emotionally prepare accordingly. Long-term, poor demographics are deflationary.

In my opinion, Ivana Trump refused to accept aging. Thus, I consider Ivana Trump’s money lessons for older Americans applicable to all of us. 

Regardless of her immense wealth, she must have encountered anguish when it comes to getting older. Sure having money doesn’t hurt. Suffering in luxury isn’t bad. However, aging doesn’t care about a net worth statement.

Denial of aging is real and one of Ivana Trump’s best money lessons for older Americans.

Who needs comprehensive studies to understand that denial of getting older is a reality? I see it in myself as I dramatically changed my diet and amped up my physical workouts years ago to fight or slow the inevitable.

Frankly, my graying hairline stresses me out. 

I engage with people regularly who aren’t ready to deal with how someday they may move slower, forget things often and work through periodic illness or injury. Older clients and their adult children have a tough time facing that mom and dad are grayer, smaller, and frailer than they used to be.

Per a July 2022 analysis from the Center for Retirement Research, older Americans and retirees poorly assess the risks they face in retirement. Health and longevity risks (the risk of living longer than expected and exhausting financial resources) are underestimated.

Per the study: Perceived longevity risk and health risk rank lower because retirees are pessimistic about their survival probabilities and often underestimate their health costs in late life.

I cannot tell you how many clients inform me how sure they are about dying early. How do they know? So, I always ask the following question –

“What if you don’t?”

Ivana Trump’s friends were concerned about her home’s beautiful but dangerous staircase. They were worried about her falling. She had an elevator and rarely used it. The stairs at her home were steep, the carpet was worn. Although she had trouble walking, she regularly took the stairs. She had the money to remove or replace the carpet; the elevator would have been perfect, but she rarely used it.

Why?

In her halcyon days, Ivana was New York royalty. Young, vibrant. She could accomplish anything. How can someone like that stare into the mirror and face vincibility? How can you? Can I? Acceptance is the first step to a rich life as we age, to feel comfortable in different but richer skins.

That acceptance opens the door to preparation – eating right, exercising regularly, and preparing for the risks of aging through comprehensive planning and open communication with family and friends.

If I deny aging, then I’ll force everyone around me to deny it too. Or, at the least, family members and friends will discuss issues concerning me behind my back. Who wants that? Older Americans must be open to listening.

This leads to my next financial lesson for older Americans from Ivana Trump.

Communication. Another one of the money lessons Ivana Trump has for older Americans.

I wonder how many times Ivana was advised (perhaps delicately) by Ivanka and the other kids to update her place for aging, move to a one-story, or take the damn elevator. Whatever it is, would Ivana listen or just carry on like it was the 1980s? In her mind, it may have been decades ago, but her aging body lived in the here and now.

There’s a nuance and empathy to communicating with older loved ones.

Remember, they were young like you once. Listen to your special older Americans. Never be condescending. A good idea may be to bring in an objective third party such as your financial advisor to assist with the discussions. I’ve witnessed adult children infantilize their parents, and that never works. Imagine approaching Ivana with that tone! Not good!

Remember, even mild cognitive impairment can drive a communication wedge between you, and your aging loved one. However, don’t give up sparking conversation. I work with clients who consistently need to nuance their speech with their parents. They get their points across eventually. Impaired older relatives eventually take action, but the process is like chipping away at an iceberg with a butter knife.

Don’t give up!

Genworth, a leader in long-term care insurance and research, maintains an impactful Conversation Starters page with helpful tips about what to talk about and how to maintain a dialogue. Check it out.

Use your financial plan to motivate others.

How can you discuss long-term care issues with loved ones if you’re personally in denial about aging? A risk mitigation plan as part of a comprehensive financial strategy validates your commitment to preparation. Actions forge your conversations with credibility.

According to AARP’s most recent Home and Community Preference Survey, 77% of adults 50 and older want to remain in their homes or age in place. The number has been consistent for over a decade. Aging in place requires planning – whether it’s to eventually downsize to a one-story home, renovate kitchen and baths or install easy access ramps for items of mobility such as wheelchairs. It would be worth practicing financial openness and sharing this information with aging parents. In other words, if you’re preparing for these expenses, they should be too.

Don’t forget long-term care insurance as one of Ivana Trump’s money lessons for older Americans.

Ivana didn’t need long-term care insurance. You probably need to consider it.

Unfortunately, nearly half of individuals who apply for traditional long-term care insurance after age 70 have their applications declined by an insurer, according to Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. However, loved ones in good health in their 50s and 60s can still consider long-term care insurance. The sweet spot for looking into long-term care coverage is generally between ages 55 and 65, per Jesse Slome.

Three out of every five financial plans I create reflect deficiencies in meeting long-term care expenses. Medical insurance like Medicare does not cover long-term care expenses – a common misperception. Nearly 60% of people surveyed in various studies falsely believe that Medicare covers long-term care expenses.

The Genworth Cost of Care Survey has been tracking long-term care costs across 440 regions across the United States since 2004.

Genworth’s results assume an annual 3% inflation rate. In today’s dollars, a home-health aide who assists with cleaning, cooking, and other responsibilities for those who seek to age in place or require temporary assistance with daily living activities can cost over $54,912 a year in the Houston area. We use a 4.25-4.5% inflation rate for financial planning purposes to reflect recent median annual costs for assisted living and nursing home care. Candidly, I fear that I’ll need to increase this inflation rate in 2023.

As I examine long-term care policies issued recently vs. those 10 years or later, it’s glaringly obvious that coverage isn’t as comprehensive, and costs are more prohibitive.

One option is to consider a reverse mortgage, specifically a home equity conversion mortgage. The horror stories about these products are overblown. The most astute planners and academics understand how incorporating the equity from a primary residence in a retirement income strategy can help with the burden of long-term care costs. Those who talk down these products are speaking out of lack of knowledge and falling easily for pervasive false narratives.

Reverse mortgages have several layers of costs (nothing like they were in the past), and it pays for consumers to shop around for the best deals. Also, to qualify for a reverse mortgage, the homeowner must be 62, the home must be a primary residence, and the debt limited to mortgage debt. There are several ways to receive payouts.

One of the smartest strategies is to establish a reverse mortgage line of credit at age 62, leave it untapped, and allow it to grow along with the home’s value. 

The line may be tapped for long-term care expenses if needed or to mitigate the sequence of poor return risk in portfolios. Simply, in years where portfolios are down, the reverse mortgage line is used for income while portfolios recover. Once assets recover, rebalancing proceeds or gains may be used to repay the reverse mortgage loan, restoring the line of credit.

RIA’s approach to helping older Americans age comfortably in place.

Our planning software allows our team to consider a reverse mortgage in the analysis. Those plans have a high probability of success. We explain that income is as necessary as water regarding retirement. For many retirees, converting the glacier of a home into the water of income using a reverse mortgage will be required for retirement survival and especially long-term care expenses.

Ivana Trump’s money lessons for older Americans are lessons for us all, regardless of age.

Planning to age gracefully and healthfully will lead to a prosperous retirement attitude.

As George Burns said: You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.

The longer I live, the more I realize how true that quote is.

The post Ivana Trump’s Money Lessons for Older Americans. appeared first on RIA.

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COVID-19 genomic recombination is uncommon but disproportionately occurs in spike protein region

An analysis of millions of SARS-CoV-2 genomes finds that recombination of the virus is uncommon, but when it occurs, it is most often in the spike protein…

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An analysis of millions of SARS-CoV-2 genomes finds that recombination of the virus is uncommon, but when it occurs, it is most often in the spike protein region, the area which allows the virus to attach to and infect host cells. 

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Protection

An analysis of millions of SARS-CoV-2 genomes finds that recombination of the virus is uncommon, but when it occurs, it is most often in the spike protein region, the area which allows the virus to attach to and infect host cells. 

The study, led by scientists at UC Santa Cruz, was published August 11 in the journal Nature. It details a new software created by the researchers to search the COVID-19 phylogenetic tree, a diagram of the virus’s evolutionary history, for instances of recombination. This software is open source, allowing public health officials to use it to track instances of recombination within their communities. 

Recombination occurs when two genetically distinct forms of the virus hybridize. This study focused on detectable recombination, when the hybridization results in a sequence that is genetically new, and not on instances where two sequences combine to form a sequence identical to an already existing one. 

“It’s really important for reconstructing the virus’s evolutionary history,” said Russell Corbett-Detig, senior author on the study and an associate professor of biomolecular engineering at the Baskin School of Engineering. “When there’s recombination it’s not one tree, it’s many trees, and being able to trace that accurately is really crucial for understanding evolution of the virus.”

Findings on recombination  

The researchers analyzed 1.6 million samples of COVID-19 and found 589 recombination events, which indicates that only about 2.7% of sequenced genomes result from recombination. These sequences were sourced from the UC Santa Cruz SARS-CoV-2 Browser, a repository for COVID-19 genomic data, which is now the largest collection of genomic sequences of a single species ever assembled, currently at nearly 12 million sequences.

While results show that recombination occurs more frequently in the spike protein region, it is not yet known why this is. This could potentially be the result of a mechanistic bias, indicating it is the natural tendency of all coronaviruses to recombine toward the three-prime region of the viral genome, which contains the spike protein, or that positive natural selection for COVID-19 is favoring recombinants that occur in this region.

While recombination does occur, there is no evidence that the resulting strains are more likely to be epidemiologically important. In fact, most recombinant variants die out, as do most of the thousands of mutated variants of COVID-19.

 A new software, written primarily by UC San Diego Assistant Professor Yatish Turakhia during his postdoctoral training in Corbett-Detig’s lab, enabled the computational feat required for the analysis of millions of genomes. The software, called Recombination Inference using Phylogenetic PLacEmentS (RIPPLES), can efficiently search a massive phylogenetic tree of COVID-19 genomes to find instances where a new sequence appears to be a combination of two distinct sections of the tree. The COVID-19 phylogenetic tree, called UShER, was created by UCSC researchers and is the primary tool used by health officials worldwide to track the spread of variants in their community.

The researchers found recombination most often shows up on the COVID-19 phylogenetic tree in the form of “long branches,” making it appear that several mutations happened sequentially, which is quite rare. 

“In a tree of millions of sequences, you find these long branches, which reduce the possible instances of detectable recombination down to only about 10’s of thousands of branches,” Turakhia said. “These long branches make recombination much easier to spot on the tree, which enables the efficient performance of the new software.” 

Turakhia and his team aim to continue to improve RIPPLES’ speed and performance and to create visual tools to make it more accessible for a wider audience. 

Use for public health

Knowing when recombination occurs is crucial for understanding the evolutionary lineage of a sequence of the virus. Recombination can complicate the process of tracing back the phylogenetic tree of a particular sequence because its genetic material is a result of two joining areas of the overall COVID-19 family tree. 

This can help public officials understand when a lineage of COVID-19 which appears to be novel is truly an independent mutation introduced for the first time, or rather just a combination of two lineages that already existed in the community. Understanding when recombination occurs is also important from a public health perspective as it can potentially make the virus more adept at evading immunity.

Furthermore, the RIPPLES software’s availability and ease of use has positive implications for genomics experts and public health officials alike, who can efficiently search a set of COVID-19 genomic samples for recombination in just minutes.

This reflects a larger theme of the work of scalable translation of pathogen genomics data at Corbett-Detig’s lab and the UCSC Genomics Institute. Researchers are focused on creating tools that enable public health officials to automate and translate the questions they want to ask, and receive answers that are easy to act on and dependable. 

“A big part of the success of our work has been that the software is extremely accessible and computationally cheap in the grand scheme of things,” Corbett-Detig said. “Anybody could take their hundred new SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences and figure out if there were potentially recombinant samples in just minutes on a basic laptop. Global public health needs to be democratized, to the point that anyone can do it, even if they’re not a super wealthy lab with giant servers.”


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Repression, Terror, Fear: The Government Wants To Silence The Opposition

Repression, Terror, Fear: The Government Wants To Silence The Opposition

Authored by John and Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“Once…

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Repression, Terror, Fear: The Government Wants To Silence The Opposition

Authored by John and Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

- President Harry S. Truman

Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weapons. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality. Lockdowns.

This is not the language of freedom. This is not even the language of law and order.

This is the language of force.

This is how the government at all levels—federal, state and local—now responds to those who speak out against government corruption, misconduct and abuse.

These overreaching, heavy-handed lessons in how to rule by force have become standard operating procedure for a government that communicates with its citizenry primarily through the language of brutality, intimidation and fear.

We didn’t know it then, but what happened five years ago in Charlottesville, Va., was a foretaste of what was to come.

At the time, Charlottesville was at the center of a growing struggle over how to reconcile the right to think and speak freely, especially about controversial ideas, with the push to sanitize the environment of anything—words and images—that might cause offense. That fear of offense prompted the Charlottesville City Council to get rid of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that had graced one of its public parks for 82 years.

In attempting to err on the side of political correctness by placating one group while muzzling critics of the city’s actions, Charlottesville attracted the unwanted attention of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and the alt-Right, all of whom descended on the little college town with the intention of exercising their First Amendment right to be disagreeable, to assemble, and to protest.

That’s when everything went haywire.

When put to the test, Charlottesville did not handle things well at all.

On August 12, 2017, government officials took what should have been a legitimate exercise in constitutional principles (free speech, assembly and protest) and turned it into a lesson in authoritarianism by manipulating warring factions and engineering events in such a way as to foment unrest, lockdown the city, and justify further power grabs.

On the day of scheduled protests, police deliberately engineered a situation in which two opposing camps of protesters would confront each other, tensions would bubble over, and things would turn just violent enough to justify allowing the government to shut everything down.

Despite the fact that 1,000 first responders (including 300 state police troopers and members of the National Guard)—many of whom had been preparing for the downtown rally for months—had been called on to work the event, and police in riot gear surrounded Emancipation Park on three sides, police failed to do their jobs.

In fact, as the Washington Post reports, police “seemed to watch as groups beat each other with sticks and bludgeoned one another with shields… At one point, police appeared to retreat and then watch the beatings before eventually moving in to end the free-for-all, make arrests and tend to the injured.”

Police Stood By As Mayhem Mounted in Charlottesville,” reported ProPublica.

Incredibly, when the first signs of open violence broke out, the police chief allegedly instructed his staff to “let them fight, it will make it easier to declare an unlawful assembly.”

In this way, police who were supposed to uphold the law and prevent violence failed to do either.

Indeed, a 220-page post-mortem of the protests and the Charlottesville government’s response by former U.S. attorney Timothy J. Heaphy concluded that “the City of Charlottesville protected neither free expression nor public safety.”

In other words, the government failed to uphold its constitutional mandates.

The police failed to carry out their duties as peace officers.

And the citizens found themselves unable to trust either the police or the government to do its job in respecting their rights and ensuring their safety.

This is not much different from what is happening on the present-day national scene.

Indeed, there’s a pattern emerging if you pay close enough attention.

Civil discontent leads to civil unrest, which leads to protests and counterprotests. Tensions rise, violence escalates, police stand down, and federal armies move in. Meanwhile, despite the protests and the outrage, the government’s abuses continue unabated.

It’s all part of an elaborate setup by the architects of the police state. The government wants a reason to crack down and lock down and bring in its biggest guns.

They want us divided. They want us to turn on one another.

They want us powerless in the face of their artillery and armed forces.

They want us silent, servile and compliant.

They certainly do not want us to remember that we have rights, let alone attempting to exercise those rights peaceably and lawfully, whether it’s protesting politically correct efforts to whitewash the past, challenging COVID-19 mandates, questioning election outcomes, or listening to alternate viewpoints—even conspiratorial ones—in order to form our own opinions about the true nature of government.  

And they definitely do not want us to engage in First Amendment activities that challenge the government’s power, reveal the government’s corruption, expose the government’s lies, and encourage the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices.

Why else do you think Wikileaks founder Julian Assange continues to molder in jail for daring to blow the whistle about the U.S. government’s war crimes, while government officials who rape, plunder and kill walk away with little more than a slap on the wrist?

This is how it begins.

We are moving fast down that slippery slope to an authoritarian society in which the only opinions, ideas and speech expressed are the ones permitted by the government and its corporate cohorts.

In the wake of the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol, “domestic terrorism” has become the new poster child for expanding the government’s powers at the expense of civil liberties.

Of course, “domestic terrorist” is just the latest bull’s eye phrase, to be used interchangeably with “anti-government,” “extremist” and “terrorist,” to describe anyone who might fall somewhere on a very broad spectrum of viewpoints that could be considered “dangerous.”

This unilateral power to muzzle free speech represents a far greater danger than any so-called right- or left-wing extremist might pose. The ramifications are so far-reaching as to render almost every American an extremist in word, deed, thought or by association.

Watch and see: we are all about to become enemies of the state.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, anytime you have a government that operates in the shadows, speaks in a language of force, and rules by fiat, you’d better beware.

So what’s the answer?

For starters, we need to remember that we’ve all got rights, and we need to exercise them.

Most of all, we need to protect the rights of the people to speak truth to power, whatever that truth might be. Either “we the people” believe in free speech or we don’t.

Fifty years ago, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas asked:

“Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? The constitutional theory is that we the people are the sovereigns, the state and federal officials only our agents. We who have the final word can speak softly or angrily. We can seek to challenge and annoy, as we need not stay docile and quiet… [A]t the constitutional level, speech need not be a sedative; it can be disruptive… [A] function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.”

In other words, the Constitution does not require Americans to be servile or even civil to government officials. Neither does the Constitution require obedience (although it does insist on nonviolence).

Somehow, the government keeps overlooking this important element in the equation.

Tyler Durden Wed, 08/10/2022 - 23:00

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