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The Illusion Of Freedom: We’re Only As Free As The Government Allows

The Illusion Of Freedom: We’re Only As Free As The Government Allows

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford…

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The Illusion Of Freedom: We're Only As Free As The Government Allows

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news even badly, you know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter. Sooner or later, the people in this country are gonna realize the government … doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare or your safety… It’s interested in its own power. That’s the only thing. Keeping it and expanding it wherever possible.”

- George Carlin

We’re in a national state of denial.

For years now, the government has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with the American people, letting us enjoy just enough freedom to think we are free but not enough to actually allow us to live as a free people.

Case in point: on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court appeared inclined to favor a high school football coach’s right to pray on the field after a game, the high court let stand a lower court ruling that allows police to warrantlessly track people’s location and movements through their personal cell phones, sweeping Americans up into a massive digital data dragnet that does not distinguish between those who are innocent of wrongdoing, suspects, or criminals.

Likewise, although the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for a death row inmate to have his pastor audibly pray and lay hands on him in the execution chamber, it refused to stop police from using hidden cameras to secretly and warrantlessly record and monitor a person’s activities outside their home over an extended period of time.

For those who have been paying attention, there’s a curious pattern emerging: the government appears reasonably tolerant of those who want to exercise their First Amendment rights in a manner that doesn’t challenge the police state’s hold on power, for example, by praying on a football field or in an execution chamber.

On the other hand, dare to disagree with the government about its war crimes, COVID-19, election outcomes or police brutality, and you’ll find yourself silenced, cited, shut down and/or branded an extremist.

The U.S. government is particularly intolerant of speech that reveals the government’s corruption, exposes the government’s lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices. For instance, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the latest victim of the government’s war on dissidents and whistleblowers, is in the process of being extradited to the U.S. to be tried under the Espionage Act for daring to access and disclose military documents that portray the U.S. government and its endless wars abroad as reckless, irresponsible, immoral and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

Even political protests are fair game for prosecution. In Florida, two protesters are being fined $3000 for political signs proclaiming stating “F—k Biden,” “F—k Trump,” and “F—k Policing 4 Profit” that violate a city ban on “indecent” speech on signs, clothing and other graphic displays.

The trade-off is clear: pray all you want, but don’t mess with the U.S. government.

In this way, the government, having appointed itself a Supreme and Sovereign Ruler, allows us to bask in the illusion of religious freedom while stripping us of every other freedom afforded by the Constitution.

We’re in trouble, folks.

Freedom no longer means what it once did.

This holds true whether you’re talking about the right to criticize the government in word or deed, the right to be free from government surveillance, the right to not have your person or your property subjected to warrantless searches by government agents, the right to due process, the right to be safe from militarized police invading your home, the right to be innocent until proven guilty and every other right that once reinforced the founders’ belief that this would be “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Not only do we no longer have dominion over our bodies, our families, our property and our lives, but the government continues to chip away at what few rights we still have to speak freely and think for ourselves.

My friends, we’re being played for fools.

On paper, we may be technically free.

In reality, however, we are only as free as a government official may allow.

We only think we live in a constitutional republic, governed by just laws created for our benefit.

Truth be told, we live in a dictatorship disguised as a democracy where all that we own, all that we earn, all that we say and do—our very lives—depends on the benevolence of government agents and corporate shareholders for whom profit and power will always trump principle. And now the government is litigating and legislating its way into a new framework where the dictates of petty bureaucrats carry greater weight than the inalienable rights of the citizenry.

With every court ruling that allows the government to operate above the rule of law, every piece of legislation that limits our freedoms, and every act of government wrongdoing that goes unpunished, we’re slowly being conditioned to a society in which we have little real control over our lives.

As Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone and an insightful commentator on human nature, once observed, “We’re developing a new citizenry. One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.”

Indeed, not only are we developing a new citizenry incapable of thinking for themselves, we’re also instilling in them a complete and utter reliance on the government and its corporate partners to do everything for them—tell them what to eat, what to wear, how to think, what to believe, how long to sleep, who to vote for, whom to associate with, and on and on.

In this way, we have created a welfare state, a nanny state, a police state, a surveillance state, an electronic concentration camp—call it what you will, the meaning is the same: in our quest for less personal responsibility, a greater sense of security, and no burdensome obligations to each other or to future generations, we have created a society in which we have no true freedom.

Government surveillance, police abuse, SWAT team raids, economic instability, asset forfeiture schemes, pork barrel legislation, militarized police, drones, endless wars, private prisons, involuntary detentions, biometrics databases, free speech zones, etc.: these are mile markers on the road to a fascist state where citizens are treated like cattle, to be branded and eventually led to the slaughterhouse.

Freedom, or what’s left of it, is being threatened from every direction. The threats are of many kinds: political, cultural, educational, media, and psychological. However, as history shows us, freedom is not, on the whole, wrested from a citizenry. It is all too often given over voluntarily and for such a cheap price: safety, security, bread, and circuses.

This is part and parcel of the propaganda churned out by the government machine.

That said, what we face today—mind manipulation and systemic violence—is not new. What is different are the techniques used and the large-scale control of mass humanity, coercive police tactics and pervasive surveillance.

We are overdue for a systemic check on the government’s overreaches and power grabs.

By “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats. Rather, I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law.

For years now, we have suffered the injustices, cruelties, corruption and abuse of an entrenched government bureaucracy that has no regard for the Constitution or the rights of the citizenry.

We have lingered too long in this strange twilight zone where ego trumps justice, propaganda perverts truth, and imperial presidents—empowered to indulge their authoritarian tendencies by legalistic courts, corrupt legislatures and a disinterested, distracted populace—rule by fiat rather than by the rule of law.

Where we find ourselves now is in the unenviable position of needing to rein in all three branches of government—the Executive, the Judicial, and the Legislative—that have exceeded their authority and grown drunk on power.

We are the unwitting victims of a system so corrupt that those who stand up for the rule of law and aspire to transparency in government are in the minority. This corruption is so vast it spans all branches of government: from the power-hungry agencies under the executive branch and the corporate puppets within the legislative branch to a judiciary that is, more often than not, elitist and biased towards government entities and corporations.

The predators of the police state are wreaking havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government doesn’t listen to the citizenry, it refuses to abide by the Constitution, which is our rule of law, and it treats the citizenry as a source of funding and little else.

The American kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves) has sucked the American people down a rabbit hole into a parallel universe in which the Constitution is meaningless, the government is all-powerful, and the citizenry is powerless to defend itself against government agents who steal, spy, lie, plunder, kill, abuse and generally inflict mayhem and sow madness on everyone and everything in their sphere.

This dissolution of that sacred covenant between the citizenry and the government—establishing “we the people” as the masters and the government as the servant—didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen because of one particular incident or one particular president. It is a process, one that began long ago and continues in the present day, aided and abetted by politicians who have mastered the polarizing art of how to “divide and conquer.”

Unfortunately, there is no magic spell to transport us back to a place and time where “we the people” weren’t merely fodder for a corporate gristmill, operated by government hired hands, whose priorities are money and power.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, our freedoms have become casualties in an all-out war on the American people.

If we continue down this road, there can be no surprise about what awaits us at the end.

Tyler Durden Wed, 04/27/2022 - 23:25

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Spread & Containment

Tim Cook and Apple Make a Move That Could Annoy China

iPhone maker wants to diversify its supply chain and expand in a crucial market.

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iPhone maker wants to diversify its supply chain and expand in a crucial market.

Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report no longer wants to be surprised. 

Like the rest of the multinationals, the iPhone maker has been impacted by the covid-19 pandemic which has exacerbated the disruptions in supply chains. 

The restrictive measures and lockdowns imposed in China to limit the spread of the virus have particularly affected the local suppliers of many Western companies. The zero-covid policy in China has been a nightmare for suppliers, forced again to temporarily close some of their factories or to have their employees work under exceptional conditions such as living on the production sites.

This dependence on China has raised many questions that companies have been trying to answer since the pandemic emerged. The most urgent is the diversification of the supply chain or trying to have suppliers both locally and in different regions of the world.

Apple

The iPhone 14 Will Also Be Produced in India

Apple has just answered it. The Cupertino, Calif.-based group will now produce some units of the new iPhone, the iPhone 14, in India, which is a big first.

"The new iPhone 14 lineup introduces groundbreaking new technologies and important safety capabilities. We’re excited to be manufacturing iPhone 14 in India,” the company said in a statement on Sept. 26, confirming speculation.

The iPhone 14 will be assembled in the country by Foxconn, Apple's historic supplier, which has a factory on the outskirts of Chennai. These phones will be sold locally in the next few days, but they will also be exported to other markets. 

Apple's decision also comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan. The Biden administration has banned chipmaker Nvidia  (NVDA) - Get NVIDIA Corporation Report from selling some of its chips to Chinese companies, for example. Beijing, for its part, has taken steps to develop its technology sector.

If Apple had been assembling iPhones in India since 2017, it was always old versions and not brand new ones. The iPhone 14 is the first newly launched smartphone Apple will assemble outside of China. It therefore marks a change in strategy on the part of CEO Tim Cook's group.

This decision allows Apple to accomplish two important things. 

The tech giant will diversify its supply chain even though the majority of iPhone production is still in China.

India, the New Eldorado

The decision also allows Apple to truly establish itself in a growing market where its market share is still very low. Indeed, Apple has only a market share of 3.8% in the second smartphone market in the world, according to a Counterpunch Research study on smartphone shipments in the second quarter of 2022.

The Indian smartphone market is dominated by China's Xiaomi  (XIACY)  with a 19% market share, followed by South Korea's Samsung  (SSNLF) with a 19% market share as well. India smartphone shipments reached 37 million units between April and June, according to Counterpunch, an increase of 9% year-over-year. 

But the market is down 5% quarter-on-quarter.

Apple "remained the top-selling brand in the ultra-premium segment," which are phones costing at least $650 or 45,000 rupees, the report said. "Increasing ‘Make in India’ capabilities for both local consumption as well as exports, offline push through multiple promotions and consumers’ brand preference (...) helped Apple retain its edge in the premium segment."

It added that: "The opening of its own e-store, iPhone SE 2022 and offers on other models will further drive Apple’s shipments in the coming quarters."

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Apple unveiled the iPhone 14 early September, and it has a base price of 79,900 rupees in India, the equivalent of $980.

By producing its new products locally, Apple will be able to attract customers looking for the latest innovations and the group will also be able to benefit from local aid at a time when the Indian authorities are seeking to boost the tech sector by all means.

In a recent study released Sept. 21, JPMorgan analysts said that they expect Apple to move 25% of its entire iPhone production line to India by 2025 as it looks to diversify its supply chain. They added that by late 2022, 5% of ‌iPhone 14‌ production will be moved to India, with a significant decision taking place three years later. 

In addition to moving 25% of ‌iPhone‌ production to India by 2025, JPMorgan analysts said the company could also move 25% of other product lines to the country, including AirPods, Mac, Apple Watch, and iPad.

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International

Export Slowdown Could Bring More Bad News For Yuan

Export Slowdown Could Bring More Bad News For Yuan

By George Lei, Bloomberg markets live reporter and analyst

Chinese exports are poised…

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Export Slowdown Could Bring More Bad News For Yuan

By George Lei, Bloomberg markets live reporter and analyst

Chinese exports are poised to slow further in the remainder of 2022, with various high-frequency datasets pointing to cooling global demand. Exports, a key growth engine that has lifted the Chinese economy since the pandemic, are sputtering. That could bring more bad news for the yuan.

South Korean data in September through the 20th suggest exports to China fell 14% year-over-year versus a 1% decline in exports to the US. This may be an ominous sign that global demand for consumer goods made in China -- to which Korea provides inputs earlier in the supply chain -- is softening, Neil Shearing, group chief economist at Capital Economics, wrote on Monday. Hong Kong’s exports also sank 14.3% in August, the most since the pandemic first began in early 2020.

Plunging freight rates also point to cooling exports: A 40-foot container from Shanghai to Los Angeles fetched $3,779 last week, below $4,000 for the first time since September 2020 and half what it was three months ago, Bloomberg reported. More declines are expected in the coming weeks, according to Drewry Supply Chain Advisors.

The news couldn’t come at a worse time, with the offshore Chinese yuan now trading at the weakest since May 2020 -- just a stone’s throw away from its record low -- and economists rushing to cut China’s 2023 economic-growth forecasts. Dollar-yuan may need to go a lot higher to boost China’s exports meaningfully; the Chinese currency has advanced versus most of Beijing’s trade partners, outside of the US and Hong Kong, for much of 2022.

Chinese exporters already are holding foreign currencies more tightly. The conversion ratio -- which measures the share of export revenues converted into yuan -- fell from 57% in the first eight months of 2021 to 36% this year through August, according to Macquarie economists Larry Hu and Yuxiao Zhang. If that ratio holds steady, an extra $118 billion could have been sold by exporters into yuan, Macquarie estimates.

Falling Chinese export volumes and expectations of a weaker yuan will only make exporters more reluctant to sell their dollars. The yuan’s downtrend isn’t likely to reverse unless that negative feedback loop is broken.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/26/2022 - 21:15

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Science

Enemy turned ally: Ancient viral genes protect the brain against new infections

From the common cold to COVID-19, viruses have a massive impact on our day-to-day lives, but infections that occurred millions of years ago have shaped…

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From the common cold to COVID-19, viruses have a massive impact on our day-to-day lives, but infections that occurred millions of years ago have shaped our evolution. This is because viral genes have been incorporated into the DNA of the infected host and then passed down the generations, often developing different functions over time. Now, in a study published in Development, Dr Fumitoshi Ishino, Professor of Molecular Biology at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan, and Dr Tomoko Kaneko-Ishino, Professor of Molecular Biology at the Tokai University, in Kanagawa, Japan, have discovered that two mouse genes, left behind by a viral infection millions of years ago, have evolved to help defend the brain against new infections.

Credit: Image courtesy of Tomoko Kaneko-Ishino

From the common cold to COVID-19, viruses have a massive impact on our day-to-day lives, but infections that occurred millions of years ago have shaped our evolution. This is because viral genes have been incorporated into the DNA of the infected host and then passed down the generations, often developing different functions over time. Now, in a study published in Development, Dr Fumitoshi Ishino, Professor of Molecular Biology at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan, and Dr Tomoko Kaneko-Ishino, Professor of Molecular Biology at the Tokai University, in Kanagawa, Japan, have discovered that two mouse genes, left behind by a viral infection millions of years ago, have evolved to help defend the brain against new infections.

The genes in question, known as ‘retrotransposon Gag-like’ 5 and 6 (Rtl5/Rtl6), are carried by almost all mammals, and are similar to genes found in retroviruses, such as HIV. The researchers were convinced that the genes must be doing something important, as despite coming from viruses, these inherited viral genes have been preserved in the mammalian genome for at least the last 120 million years. To work out what these genes are doing the scientists needed to know where they are active, so they looked for RTL5/6 proteins, which are only produced when genes are switched on. They discovered that Rtl5 and Rtl6 are switched on in the brain in cells called microglia, which act as the ‘first responders’ to infection. Dr Kaneko-Ishino said, “we never expected that Rtl6 and Rtl5 would function in microglia when we started this work 15 years ago, and even when we knew that Rtl6 was a microglial gene we didn’t understand its significance. Our ‘eureka moment’ came during a dissection when Dr Ishino was carefully removing a mouse brain. We realised that if instead we damaged the brain, we could activate RTL6”.

The team set up fake infections in mice brains to test how the microglia producing RTL5 or RTL6 would respond to either bacteria or viruses. They found that microglia containing RTL6 protein responded to the bacteria-like mimic, whereas the microglia with RTL5 reacted to the simulated viral infection. In addition, when the researchers removed the Rtl6 gene, they found that the mice could not eliminate the fake bacterial infections, while the mice without Rtl5 could not clear the viral mimics, meaning that together Rtl5 and Rtl6 protect the brain against two of the most common types of infection.   

These results provide the first example of viral-derived genes that have been re-purposed to protect mammalian brains against infection. The idea that viruses have had such a positive impact on our lives may be surprising, but examples like Rtl5 and Rtl6 demonstrate that viral invaders can, in the long run, benefit their host. According to Dr Ishino, “virus-acquired genes are essential parts of our genome, playing various – but essential – roles in mammalian and human development. We think it is possible to extend this idea to primate- and human-specific acquired genes from retroviruses to help us understand human evolution”.


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