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What Americans Say About Rising Prices This Thanksgiving

What Americans Say About Rising Prices This Thanksgiving

By Cara Ding, Steven Kovac, Jackson Elliott, Michael Sakal, Allan Stein and Jannis Falkenstern of Epoch Times

On the verge of celebrating Thanksgiving with her family, Melissa Ngo…

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What Americans Say About Rising Prices This Thanksgiving

By Cara Ding, Steven Kovac, Jackson Elliott, Michael Sakal, Allan Stein and Jannis Falkenstern of Epoch Times

On the verge of celebrating Thanksgiving with her family, Melissa Ngo wasn’t happy after her grocery shopping trip. The high price of gasoline has cut into her family’s budget for everything, she said.

She’s now having to shop at three different grocery stores—Giant Eagle, Marc’s, and Aldi—to find the lowest prices.

“It’s everything,” said Ngo, a resident of Lakewood, Ohio, whose husband works as a dye-maker in Cleveland. “Everything has gone up, not just gas. The main thing I’ve noticed at the grocery store that has gone up in price [is] U.S. meat. It’s about double from last year.

“We’re a one-worker family, and we’re always having to juggle. Now, we’re juggling more.”

She blames the situation Americans have been facing for more than a year on such things as the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, supply chain issues, and even the president she voted for.

 Melissa Ngo, of Lakewood, Ohio, loads groceries into her car at the Giant Eagle grocery store in Lakewood on Nov. 23, 2021. Ngo said she’s paying nearly double for everything compared to 2020, especially meat. She and her husband are on a much tighter budget and “always juggling” to make things work on the home front. (Michael Sakal/The Epoch Times)

As a resident of the west Cleveland suburb and Democratic stronghold, Ngo is quick to admit that she’s sorry she voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. She usually votes Democrat. She said she may not vote in the next election.

For Allen van Houten and Kathy Ellison of Lakewood, things have always been tight. Going into the 2021 holiday season, their budget is tighter still.

Kathy Ellison and Allen Van Houten of Lakewood load up their car with groceries at the Giant Eagle grocery store in Lakewood on Nov. 23, 2021. (Michael Sakal/The Epoch Times)

Van Houten, an Army and Navy veteran on disability, and Ellison, who works as a cook at a local restaurant, had just finished shopping at the Giant Eagle. Because of the skyrocketing price of gasoline and the higher food prices, they hardly go “anywhere” anymore, they said.

They’re doing without as they prepare to spend Thanksgiving together.

“We’re penny-pinching a lot more from last year,” Ellison said. “Now, we’re always penny-pinching.

“Working a 40-hour workweek doesn’t keep your head above water anymore. Everything has gotten higher in price—food, gas, and utilities. And it’s not getting any better.”

Van Houten noted that the couple have been depending on each other to get through such a difficult time.

“If we didn’t have each other, we couldn’t survive,” he said.

In addition to purchasing a smaller turkey this year, they’ve eliminated deviled eggs and potatoes from their Thanksgiving meal.

“We’re going to three different grocery stores because we’re having trouble finding stuff,” Ellison told The Epoch Times. “We’re looking at pies at Giant Eagle that used to be on sale for $3.99. Now, they’re $5.99. We’d like to get a Dutch Apple pie, but those are $13.99. Sometimes, the supplier takes advantage of these situations, too.”

The couple blames the situation on the high prices of gas and food, the workforce shortage, and the government. Van Houten and Ellison said they don’t vote.

“The government is going to do whatever they want anyway,” Van Houten said.

Kathy, also of Lakewood, who didn’t want to give her last name, was more sympathetic toward those facing hard times going into Thanksgiving. She had just loaded a cart full of groceries into her car outside of the Giant Eagle.

Although she has seen at least a 20-percent increase in her grocery bill from 2020, she said her family won’t have to cut back.

“We’ve been lucky. We’ve been blessed and have been able to work and stay comfortable through all of this,” Kathy told The Epoch Times.

Although she said she’s happy with Biden, since she “didn’t like Donald Trump,” she noted that she feels as though the president could be doing more to help ease the situation.

“I’m not happy with everything Joe Biden has done,” Kathy said. “The U.S. is not tapping into its resources, and we’re having to rely on foreign countries too much for certain goods.

“I don’t want to have to pay more for everything. Our salaries are not commensurate with inflation. With all the high prices, it does make me and my husband want to give more to charity to help others who are struggling.” 

Click on image to enlarge. (Illustration by The Epoch Times)

In Florida, two large grocery chains—Publix and Winn-Dixie—are limiting certain holiday foods during Thanksgiving week.

Publix Director of Communications Maria Brous released a statement saying that “caps” are being placed on certain food items because of “supply chain issues” and increased demand. Last week, the Lakeland company, which has 1,280 stores across the southeastern United States, placed the restrictions in anticipation of the demand and supply chain crisis, according to Brous.

Another grocery outlet, Winn-Dixie, has placed a cap of one turkey per customer. Southeastern Grocers, a Jacksonville, Florida, company, owns Winn-Dixie, as well as Fresco y Mas and Harveys Supermarket.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis weighed in on the rising cost of food and said he’s concerned about “inflationary pressures,” for which he blames the Biden administration.

“Inflation that you’re seeing—the White House said it wasn’t real. It’s real,” DeSantis said on Nov. 22. “This is going to be the most expensive Thanksgiving we’ve seen in quite some time. Prices have increased by 20 percent from last year.”

Since 1986, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has conducted a Thanksgiving meal survey. The 2021 survey found that a meal for 10 people was expected to cost $53.31–up 14 percent from the 2020 average.

The federation checked prices between Oct. 26 and Nov. 8 and noted that stores began selling whole frozen turkeys at a lower price two weeks later. As the meat protein most associated with Thanksgiving, the turkey is going to cost consumers 24 percent more than it did in 2020. The AFBF estimates that a 16-pound turkey will cost $23.99, or roughly $1.50 per pound more than 2020.

The survey also found that the costs of other holiday goods were up as well, including dinner rolls—a 15 percent increase—while a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix is up by 7 percent.

“Several factors contributed to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” senior economist Veronica Nigh said in a statement on the AFBF website. “These include dramatic disruptions to the U.S. economy and supply chains over the last 20 months; inflationary pressure throughout the economy; difficulty in predicting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and high global demand for food, particularly meat. 

“The trend of consumers cooking and eating at home more often, due to the pandemic, led to increased supermarket demand and higher retail food prices in 2020 and 2021, compared to pre-pandemic prices in 2019.”

Outside of the Winn-Dixie in Punta Gorda, Florida, Diane Crowi said food prices are definitely going up.

“Our kids are all grown up, and they live out of the area, so we don’t celebrate like we used to. But, yes, things are more expensive this year than last year,” Crowi said. “We’re retired—I mean, we have Thanksgiving, just on a smaller scale. You just have to absorb the costs.”

Along with increasing food costs, the price of gasoline has significantly risen as well, she said.

“Gas prices are ridiculous,” Crowi said. “We just have to shift things around to afford what we have on our fixed income. We just cut down on our trips. We don’t drive as much to save fuel.

“If I have to blame anyone, it would be our president—but I’m a Trump fan, so …”

Winn-Dixie shopper Crystal Hunsicker of Punta Gorda said Thanksgiving is “definitely more expensive this year than last year.”

Crystal Hunsicker of Punta Gorda, Fla. loads groceries into her car on Nov. 23, 2021. (Jann Falkenstern/The Epoch Times)

“It affects us, but what are you going to do?” Hunsicker said. “You just deal with it.

“Yes, gas is expensive, and we were energy independent before Biden took office. It takes $100 just to fill up my tank. There’s nothing I can do to save any money on fuel. I have to work, so I have to have gas.”

Hunsicker said she voted for Trump in 2020 and identifies as a Republican.

“I blame Biden for all of this. Trump’s policies were working, and [Biden] gets into office and destroys everything Trump put into place.”

Charnita West, a single mom, looked cold in the parking lot of the Food City grocery store in Rossville, Georgia, on Nov. 23. In 2021, feeding her three children a Thanksgiving dinner has been more expensive than usual, she said.

Crystal Hunsicker of Punta Gorda, Fla. loads groceries into her car on Nov. 23, 2021. (Jann Falkenstern/The Epoch Times)

Her shopping wasn’t over with, either. The previous night, she had spent three hours at Walmart looking for some items, but couldn’t find everything that she needed.

“I can’t even find ham. It took a lot of digging to find ham,” West told The Epoch Times.

For West, spending $80 on groceries is a lot, and rising gas and food prices have hurt her family, she said.

West said she’s heard that food inflation was caused by the Biden administration, but she admitted that she knows little about politics. She’s currently working on getting her high school diploma.

“I don’t pay much attention to presidential stuff,” she said. “I’m just trying to do better or get my daughters a better life.”

Another Thanksgiving shopper, Don Weathers, said that prices on everything have risen.

Don Weathers shops for Thanksgiving dinner at the Food City grocery store in Rossville, Ga., on Nov. 23, 2021. (Jackson Elliott-The Epoch Times)

“I don’t know what it is,” he said. “The beef has gone up. Turkeys and ham, pork, and everything else.”

Weathers said the situation has affected his family little because his children are adults, but he feels concerned about others.

“I fear for the other people,” he told The Epoch Times. “They’ve got children and are trying to raise them.”

Weathers, a Republican who voted for Trump in 2020, said he didn’t want to say whether Trump or Biden was responsible for the inflation. Once a Democrat, he said he left the party because it offered handouts in an irresponsible way.

“The Democratic Party is not what it was 20 years ago,” he said.

Political independent Edward Garrett agreed with Weathers and West about the rising prices that were changing his budget.

“Everything impacts the budget,” he said. “You just got to make it happen. You got to do what you got to do. Just squeeze and tighten what you can.”

Edward Garrett searches for groceries for Thanksgiving dinner at the Food City grocery store in Rossville, Ga., on Nov. 23, 2021. (Jackson Elliott-The Epoch Times)

Garrett blamed the Trump administration for the inflation issues. He said the effects of a president’s policies usually hit months after the person leaves office.

“It is what it is,” he told The Epoch Times. “You’ve got to take the bitter with the sweet.”

Long-time grocer Jeff Durecka, who owns a couple of supermarkets known as Jeff’s Marketplace in the “Thumb Area” of Michigan, said the supply chain issues aren’t affecting him much.

“If we are short on a certain brand, we have substitutes,” Durecka, a Democrat and a strong supporter of Joe Biden in 2020. “It’s not affecting us much. As you can see, we are pretty well stocked for Thanksgiving.

“Wholesale prices are going up because of the cost of fuel. It takes fuel to get product to the warehouses and then to the stores. There’s really nothing we can do about it.”

Durecka speculated that the rise in food and fuel prices may have something to do with the different administration in Washington.

Shopper Dean Rydock of Port Sanilac, Michigan, had no doubt that Biden was to blame.

Dean Rydock of Port Sanilac, Michigan goes shopping at Jeff’s Marketplace in Lexington, Mich., on Nov 23, 2021.(Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

“Everything Trump did made our living easier and better,” he said. “Biden is acting like Trump’s policies are the cause of all this and is doing whatever he can to counteract them. Food and gas prices are way up. It looks to me like decisions are being made to deliberately bring our economy down, so we will all eventually look to the government for help.”

Rydock, a conservative Republican, “most definitely voted for the non-politician Trump and his pro-American agenda.”

“I’m driving 100 miles to have Thanksgiving with my daughter,” he said. “The high price of gasoline is starting to pinch. And we really have to mind our heating expenses with propane going up. I’m starting to burn wood, and even that is getting costly.”

Shopper Susie Lentz, a retired resident living in the village of Lexington, Michigan, is a regular customer at Jeff’s.

Susie Lentz of Lexington, Michigan had no trouble getting everything she needed for Thanksgiving dinner at Jeff’s Marketplace in Lexington on Nov. 23, 2021. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

“Food is definitely more expensive than last year,” she said. “I suppose the pandemic has a lot to do with it. Less stuff being shipped. But I am finding everything I want for Thanksgiving.”

Lentz, a self-described independent voter, said that if she were still working and having to drive more, the high gas prices would be “putting a dent” in her budget.

“I think the current political policies are affecting the economy in a negative way,” she told The Epoch Times.

When asked whether Jeff’s Marketplace had enough meat and turkeys for the Thanksgiving holiday, butcher Jed Matthews said: “The only thing that has been hard to get is turkey gizzards sold separately. People love to add them to their stuffing.”

Manager Jed Matthews says the only thing short in his department this Thanksgiving was “turkey gizzards sold separately” at Jeff’s Marketplace in Lexington, Mich., on Nov. 23, 2021. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

The Epoch Times also spoke with a number of shoppers at Local Market in the South Shore neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. The neighborhood is predominately African American and has a median household income that is almost half of the city average.

Ruth Shannon said that she used to help local nonprofit New Life Center give away turkeys during the Thanksgiving holiday every year, but not this time. The center decided to cancel the giveaway in 2021 because of the high prices, she said.

Shannon said she used to spend less than $100 on gas every month. Now, as prices rise, she spends around $200.

“I know where I go. I’m more strategic with how I travel for sure,” she told The Epoch Times.

Shannon said she thinks that inflation is the unintended consequence of massive government spending during the pandemic.

“It was a lot of money over a fairly short period of time. They could have stretched it out,” she said. “Lawmakers have to be more intentional about the policies they create.”

A lot of people in her neighborhood received stimulus checks during the pandemic, but they didn’t know how to spend the money in the right way, according to Shannon.

Ruth Shannon of Chicago says prices for Thanksgiving day dinner ingredients are up this year as she stands outside of the Local Market in Chicago on Nov. 23. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)

“It is one thing to have money. It’s a whole other thing to know what to do with it,” she said. “Everybody was happy when they got the stimulus checks. Now, the money’s gone and prices are up. What do they do?”

Shannon hasn’t voted for most of her life. Her community has remained the same whether a Democrat or Republican was in office, she said. “I do whatever I can to volunteer in the community,” she said. “That is my voting.”

Beverly, who declined to give her last name, was another shopper at Local Market. She said the rising food prices have further limited her grocery shopping because she lives on fixed government aid. She lost her daycare job at the start of the pandemic. She has since gone on food stamps and unemployment aid.

Because the gas prices are much higher in Illinois, she drives to Indiana whenever she needs to fill up. A few other shoppers told The Epoch Times that they, too, drive to Indiana for gas. And across the United States, gas and diesel prices continue to be on the rise.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the cost of a gallon of regular gasoline on the East Coast was $3.39 on Nov. 22—up by about $1.29 from the same time in 2020.

In the Midwest, the average cost of gas at the pumps was $3.19, an increase of $1.28. On the West Coast, however, gas is currently at $4.19, an increase of $1.42 compared to 2020.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/25/2021 - 18:09

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International

Americans Are Having A Lot Less Sex. Here’s Why?

Americans Are Having A Lot Less Sex. Here’s Why?

Authored by Ross Pomeroy via RealClearScience.com,

Americans had a lot less sex in 2018 compared to 2009, according to a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. The finding…

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Americans Are Having A Lot Less Sex. Here's Why?

Authored by Ross Pomeroy via RealClearScience.com,

Americans had a lot less sex in 2018 compared to 2009, according to a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. The finding mirrors a downward trend also seen in many other parts of the developed world, including the UK, Australia, Germany, and Japan.

Researchers from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University School of Public Health made the discovery by comparing data collected in 2009 and 2018 from participants of the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB). The NSSHB is an ongoing, representative survey of adolescents aged 14-17 and adults aged 18-49 focused on understanding sex in the United States. Participants are asked about their sexual exploits as well as various demographic factors.

For the current analysis, lead author Dr. Debby Herbenick and her colleagues examined the responses of 4,155 individuals from the 2009 NSSHB and 4,547 individuals from the 2018 NSSHB, specifically focusing on how often they reported having penile-vaginal intercourse. The researchers also probed the frequency of other sexual behaviors like masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex.

They found that while 24% of adults reported not having penile-vaginal intercourse over the prior year in 2009, 28% of adults reported not having intercourse over the prior year in 2018. Adolescents were also increasingly abstinent – 79% reported not having sex over the previous 12 months in 2009 while 89% reported not having sex over the previous 12 months in 2018.

The data also permitted the researchers to estimate how often the average American adult aged 18-49 has sex each year. In 2009, it was about 63 times. In 2018, it was about 47 times.

Both adolescents and adults also reported fewer instances of partnered masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex in 2018 compared to 2009, which surprised the researchers. They hypothesized that any decrease in penile-vaginal sex would be offset by an increase in other sexual activities. Not so. It simply seems that Americans are having less sex.

What could explain this drought of sexual activity? The researchers put forth a number of hypotheses. They note that, compared to 2009, adolescents and younger adults are drinking less alcohol, spending more time on social media, and playing more video games.

They also earn less money and are less likely to be in romantic relationships.

"Also, more contemporary young people identify with non-heterosexual identities— including asexual identities—and more young people identify in gender expansive ways," the researchers write.

There's also a simpler explanation. People may have been more prone to exaggerate their sexual habits in 2009 and are less likely to now.

Whatever the reasons, the researchers say there's no reason to fret about the decline. "The age-old question on how much sex is too much and how little sex is not enough comes to mind," they write. The data is merely interesting, and they will continue to monitor it, especially watching for changes resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

*  *  *

Source: Herbenick, D., Rosenberg, M., Golzarri-Arroyo, L. et al. Changes in Penile-Vaginal Intercourse Frequency and Sexual Repertoire from 2009 to 2018: Findings from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. Arch Sex Behav (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-02125-2

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 21:45

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Government

Bovard Blasts The Biden Crackdown On Thought Crimes

Bovard Blasts The Biden Crackdown On Thought Crimes

Authored by Jim Bovard,

The Biden administration is seeking to radically narrow the boundaries of respectable American political thought. The administration has repeatedly issued statements

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Bovard Blasts The Biden Crackdown On Thought Crimes

Authored by Jim Bovard,

The Biden administration is seeking to radically narrow the boundaries of respectable American political thought. The administration has repeatedly issued statements and reports that could automatically castigate citizens who distrust the federal government. We may eventually learn that the new Biden guidelines spurred a vast increase in federal surveillance and other abuses against Americans who were guilty of nothing more than vigorous skepticism.

Biden is Nixon on steroids

The Biden team is expanding the federal Enemies List perhaps faster than any time since the Nixon administration. In June, the Biden administration asserted that guys who are unable to score with women may be terrorist threats due to “involuntary celibate–violent extremism.” That revelation was included in the administration’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, which identified legions of new potential “domestic terrorists” that the feds can castigate and investigate.

The White House claims its new war on terrorism and extremism is “carefully tailored to address violence and reduce the factors that …infringe on the free expression of ideas.” But the prerogative to define extremism includes the power to revile disapproved beliefs. The report warns that “narratives of fraud in the recent general election … will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] to try to engage in violence this year.” If accusations of 2020 electoral shenanigans are formally labeled as extremist threats, that could result in far more repression (aided by Facebook and Twitter) of dissenting voices. How will this work out any better than the concerted campaign by the media and Big Tech last fall to suppress all information about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the election? And how can Biden be trusted to be the judge after he effectively accused Facebook of mass murder for refusing to totally censor anyone who raised doubts about the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Biden administration is revving up for a war against an enemy which the feds have chosen to never explicitly define. According to a March report by Biden’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “domestic violent extremists” include individuals who “take overt steps to violently resist or facilitate the overthrow of the U.S. government in support of their belief that the U.S. government is purposely exceeding its Constitutional authority.” But that was the same belief that many Biden voters had regarding the Trump administration. Does the definition of extremism depend solely on which party captured the White House?

The Biden report writers were spooked by the existence of militia groups and flirt with the fantasy of outlawing them across the land. The report promises to explore “how to make better use of laws that already exist in all fifty states prohibiting certain private ‘militia’ activity, including … state statutes prohibiting groups of people from organizing as private military units without the authorization of the state government, and state statutes that criminalize certain paramilitary activity.” Most of the private militia groups are guilty of nothing more than bluster and braggadocio. Besides, many of them are already overstocked with government informants who are counting on Uncle Sam for regular paychecks. Some politicians and pundits might like to see a new federal crime that labels any meeting of more than two gun owners as an illegal conspiracy.

The Biden report promises that the FBI and DHS will soon be releasing “a new edition of the Federal Government’s Mobilization Indicators booklet that will include for the first time potential indicators of domestic terrorism–related mobilization.” Will this latest publication be as boneheaded as the similar 2014 report by the National Counterterrorism Center entitled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts”?

The new Red Guard

As the Intercept summarized, that report “suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as ‘Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,’ … and ‘Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity)’ … to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.” The report recommended judging families by their level of “Parent-Child Bonding” and rating localities on the basis in part of the “presence of ideologues or recruiters.” Former FBI agent Mike German commented, “The idea that the federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical, and social-service employees to rate the communities, individuals, and families they serve for their potential to become terrorists is abhorrent on its face.”

Biden’s “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism” report also declared that “enhancing faith in American democracy” requires “finding ways to counter the influence and impact of dangerous conspiracy theories.” In recent decades, conspiracy theories have multiplied almost as fast as government lies and cover-ups. While many allegations have been ludicrously far-fetched, the political establishment and media routinely attach the “conspiracy theory” label to any challenge to their dominance.

According to Cass Sunstein, Harvard Law professor and Oba- ma’s regulatory czar, a conspiracy theory is “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.” Reasonable citizens are supposed to presume that government creates trillions of pages of new secrets each year for their own good, not to hide anything from the public.

“Conspiracy theory” is a magic phrase that expunges all previous federal abuses. Many liberals who invoke the phrase also ritually quote a 1965 book by former communist Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Hofstadter portrayed distrust of government as a proxy for mental illness, a paradigm that makes the character of critics more important than the conduct of government agencies. For Hofstadter, it was a self-evident truth that government was trustworthy because American politics had “a kind of professional code … embodying the practical wisdom of generations of politicians.

The rise of conspiracy theories

In the early 1960s, conspiracy theories were practically a non-issue because 75 percent of Americans trusted the federal government. Such credulity did not survive the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Seven days after Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson created a commission (later known as the Warren Commission) to suppress controversy about the killing.

Johnson browbeat the commission members into speedily issuing a report rubber-stamping the “crazed lone gunman” version of the assassination. House Minority Leader Gerald Ford, a member of the commission, revised the final staff report to change the location of where the bullet entered Kennedy’s body, thereby salvaging the so-called “magic bullet” theory.

After the Warren Commission findings were ridiculed as a whitewash, Johnson ordered the FBI to conduct wiretaps on the report’s critics. To protect the official story, the commission sealed key records for 75 years. Truth would out only after all the people involved in any coverup had gotten their pensions and died.

The controversy surrounding the Warren Commission spurred the CIA to formally attack the notion of conspiracy theories. In a 1967 alert to its overseas stations and bases, the CIA declared that the fact that almost half of Americans did not believe Oswald acted alone “is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization” and endangers “the whole reputation of the American government.”

The memo instructed recipients to “employ propaganda assets” and exploit “friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors), pointing out … parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by Communist propagandists.” The ultimate proof of the government’s innocence: “Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States.”

The New York Times, which exposed the CIA memo in 1977, noted that the CIA “mustered its propaganda machinery to support an issue of far more concern to Americans, and to the C.I.A. itself, than to citizens of other countries.” According to historian Lance deHaven-Smith, author of Conspiracy Theory in America, “The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited … with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.” In 2014, the CIA released a heavily-redacted report admitting that it had been “complicit” in a JFK “cover-up” by withholding “incendiary” information from the Warren Commission. The CIA successfully concealed a wide range of assassinations and foreign coups it conducted until congressional investigations in the mid-1970s blew the whistle.

“Conspiracy theory” allegations sometimes merely expose the naivete of official scorekeepers. In April 2016, Chapman University surveyed Americans and announced that “the most prevalent conspiracy theory in the United States is that the government is concealing information about the 9/11 attacks with slightly over half of Americans holding that belief.”

That survey did not ask whether people believed the World Trade Centers were blown up by an inside job or whether President George W. Bush secretly masterminded the attacks. Instead, folks were simply asked whether “government is concealing information” about the attacks. Only a village idiot, college professor, or editorial writer would presume the government had come clean.

Three months after the Chapman University survey was conducted, the Obama administration finally released 28 pages of a 2003 congressional report that revealed that Saudi government officials had directly financed some of the 9/11 hijackers in America. That disclosure shattered the storyline carefully constructed by the Bush administration, the 9/11 Commission, and legions of media accomplices. (Lawsuits continue in federal court seeking to force the U.S. government to disclose more information regarding the Saudi government role in the attacks.)

Conspiracy theories a tool for control

“Conspiracy theory” is often a flag of convenience for the political-media elite. In 2018, the New York Times asserted that Trump’s use of the term “Deep State” and similar rhetoric “fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media.” However, after allegations by anonymous government officials spurred Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, New York Times columnist James Stewart cheered, “There is a Deep State, there is a bureaucracy in our country who has pledged to respect the Constitution, respect the rule of law…. They work for the American people.” New York Times editorial writer Michelle Cottle proclaimed, “The deep state is alive and well” and hailed it as “a collection of patriotic public servants.” Almost immediately after its existence was no longer denied, the Deep State became the incarnation of virtue in Washington. After Biden was elected, references to the “Deep State” were once again labeled paranoid ravings.

Much of the establishment rage at “conspiracy theories” has been driven by the notion that rulers are entitled to intellectual passive obedience. The same lèse-majesté mindset has been widely adopted to make a muddle of American history. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the court historian for President John F. Kennedy and a revered liberal intellectual, declared in 2004, “Historians today conclude that the colonists were driven to revolt in 1776 because of a false conviction that they faced a British conspiracy to destroy their freedom.” What the hell is wrong with “historians today”?! Was the British imposition of martial law, confiscation of firearms, military blockades, suspension of habeas corpus, and censorship simply a deranged fantasy of Thomas Jefferson? The notion that the British would never conspire to destroy freedom would play poorly in Dublin, where the Irish suffered centuries of brutal British oppression. Why should anyone trust academics who were blind to British threats in the 1770s to accurately judge the danger that today’s politicians pose to Americans’ liberty?

How does the Biden administration intend to fight “conspiracy theories?” The Biden terrorism report called for “enhancing faith in government” by “accelerating work to contend with an information environment that challenges healthy democratic discourse.” Will Biden’s team rely on the “solution” suggested by Cass Sunstein: “cognitive infiltration of extremist groups” by government agents and informants to “undermine” them from within?

Does the Biden administration also propose banning Americans from learning anything from the history of prior federal debacles? Nixon White House aide Tom Charles Huston explained that the FBI’s COINTELPRO program continually stretched its target list “from the kid with a bomb to the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with the picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate. And you just keep going down the line.” A 1976 Senate report on COINTELPRO demanded assurances that a federal agency would never again “be permitted to conduct a secret war against those citizens it considers threats, to the established order.” Actually, the FBI and other agencies have continued secretly warring against “threats,” and legions of informants are likely busy “cognitively infiltrating” at this moment.

Permitting politicians to blacklist any ideas they disapprove won’t “restore faith in democracy.” Extremism has always been a flag of political convenience, and the Biden team, the FBI, and their media allies will fan fears to sanctify new government crackdowns. But what if government is the most dangerous extremist of them all?

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 22:45

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Spread & Containment

Israel Moves To Ban All Foreigners From Entry Amid Omicron Variant Fears

Israel Moves To Ban All Foreigners From Entry Amid Omicron Variant Fears

Israel’s Knesset is set to hold a special emergency "coronavirus cabinet" late Saturday night where government officials will vote on enacting a complete closure of…

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Israel Moves To Ban All Foreigners From Entry Amid Omicron Variant Fears

Israel's Knesset is set to hold a special emergency "coronavirus cabinet" late Saturday night where government officials will vote on enacting a complete closure of the country to foreign travel. The ban will tentatively be in effect for the next two weeks.

Already Israel has banned all foreigners arriving from the majority of African countries in recent days on fears that the highly-mutated Omicron coronavirus variant, which first emerged in South Africa, could be the next deadly wave - and with the vaccine possibly doing little to stop it.

AFP/Getty Images

The greatly tightened travel and tourist restrictions are expected to be announced late Saturday night or early Sunday. It's expected to also include a new mandatory quarantine of three days or more for vaccinated Israeli citizens who've returned from traveling abroad. For unvaccinated inbound Israeli citizens the quarantine will be a week.

The fresh travel rules come as authorities scramble to do contact tracing on exposures related to at least one confirmed Omicron case:

Authorities are scrambling to locate 800 Israelis who may have been exposed to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, a defense official said Saturday.

The Health Ministry confirmed one case of the new variant in Israel, and said there were seven other suspected cases who were awaiting test results.

Four of the suspected cases returned to Israel recently from international travel, and three had not traveled, raising fears of community transmission in Israel.

Prime Minister Bennett ahead of the vote said the government is "preparing for any scenario." And concerning the new still somewhat mysterious variant, the country's interior minister said, "It looks like it might be more infectious, so we’re taking action as fast as possible."

Just days ago the health minister Nitzan Horowitz announced that Israelis will likely have to get a fourth shot, also as children between the ages of 5 to 11 have begun receiving the jab. Ironically the foreign tourist ban is now being re-imposed for one of the most highly vaxxed nations on earth.

At least 80% of all Israelis 16 and older are now considered fully vaccinated.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 23:15

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