Friday, December 8, 2023

The Andrew Tate Interview - PART 1 | EP. 47

John Kennedy Grills FBI Director Wray About Hunter Biden Laptop Story

This Hidden BOMBSHELL In Hunter's Indictment Will FORCE Joe to DROP OUT ...

Hunter Biden Indicted on 9 Tax Evasion Charges in Special Counsel Probe 

A California grand jury has returned a nine-count indictment against Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden's son, charging him with three felony tax offenses and six misdemeanor tax offenses.

Special counsel David Weiss announced the indictment on Thursday night, which alleges Mr. Biden spent millions on a lavish lifestyle and drugs instead of fulfilling his tax obligations between 2016 and 2019—totaling at least $1.4 million.

Instead of paying his taxes, Mr. Biden "spent this money on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes," reads the indictment.

If convicted on all counts, the president's son could face a maximum penalty of 17 years in prison.

The Epoch Times contacted Mr. Biden's lawyer, the White House, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) for comment.

The new indictment comes after a plea deal Mr. Biden entered with prosecutors fell apart in July under a judge's scrutiny.

The deal, revealed in June, involved the president's son pleading guilty to intentionally failing to pay federal income taxes for 2017 and 2018. It also meant he would have admitted to a felony gun charge as part of a pretrial diversion agreement. Such diversion programs enable defendants to get charges dismissed if they meet certain criteria.

However, at the July hearing, U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika, a Trump appointee, said she couldn't accept the deal, which linked tax crimes to resolving felony gun charges. He ultimately pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Biden was widely expected to avoid prison time under the defunct plea deal, which raised the ire of Republicans, who alleged that the president's son was being treated with kid gloves.

Republicans have launched congressional investigations into the DOJ's handling of this investigation, which whistleblowers say was slow-walked, as well as Mr. Biden's foreign business dealings and President Joe Biden's involvement in them.

President Biden has consistently denied involvement in his son's business dealings.

After the plea deal collapsed, prosecutors filed three federal gun charges against Mr. Biden, alleging he lied about his drug use to purchase a gun that he possessed for 11 days in 2018. Federal law prohibits gun possession by "habitual drug users."

Mr. Biden's history with drug abuse was referenced in a draft of the scuttled plea deal, which noted that his substance misuse worsened during part of the period in which he dodged paying his taxes. This period followed the death of his brother, Beau Biden, in 2015.

Between 2017 and 2018, Mr. Biden made over $2.2 million in business and consulting fees from a company he formed with the CEOs of a Chinese business conglomerate and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, according to prosecutors, who say he did not pay his taxes on a total of about $4 million in personal income during that period.

Eventually, Mr. Biden filed his tax returns between February and October of 2020, according to his indictment, and the back taxes were paid by a “third party” the following year.

Canadian Government and Media Colluded to ‘Instill Fear,’ Coerce Citizens Into Taking Vaccines: Report

Canadian Government and Media Colluded to ‘Instill Fear,’ Coerce Citizens Into Taking Vaccines: Report 

The Canadian government and media spread fear among citizens about the COVID-19 pandemic while implementing measures to force them into taking vaccines under threat of potential reprisals, according to a report by the National Citizens Inquiry (NCI).

“The pandemic was a textbook case of the collaboration of government and industry to subvert the democratic institutions and convince the citizens of the validity and truthfulness of a narrative that was objectively false from the start,” the Nov. 28 report reads.

The Canadian government, together with provincial governments and the mainstream media, “embarked on an information campaign designed to instill fear in the hearts of the citizens and ensure that they did not resist any and all draconian measures that were announced,” it states.

The NCI, a citizen-led and -funded effort to examine Canada’s pandemic response, pointed out in its report that the principle of “my body, my choice,” popularized by feminists, “vanished during the second year of the pandemic.” Instead, there was a “constant drumbeat” from public officials and media characterizing COVID-19 vaccines as “safe and effective.”

Politicians and public figures chimed in, saying pandemic restrictions wouldn't be lifted unless everyone “did their part.”

“Canadians who hesitated to get vaccinated were branded as anti-vaxxers, despite having voluntarily received every other vaccine, recommended by public health, in their lives,” the report reads.

“Politicians encouraged people to blame the unvaccinated for the restrictive measures that stopped them from getting back to normal. Those who had taken the COVID-19 vaccines felt morally superior and validated in scorning those who didn’t ‘do the right thing.’ Public shaming became a societal norm.”

The government framed issues in a “particular way, using emotionally charged language, or by exploiting existing biases,” spreading them to the public through media. This allowed them to influence how “people perceived events, individuals, or groups,” according to the NCI.

The report points to the example of the Freedom Convoy protests—a series of demonstrations by Canadian truckers who wanted to do away with COVID-19 mandates imposed by the government that affected truckers who worked between Canada and the United States.

The Freedom Convoy demonstrators “peacefully protested” against mandates, according to the report.

"[Yet] the government used mainstream media to portray these people as violent, racists, and anarchists, who were threatening the very lives of the people of Ottawa,” it reads.

Propaganda was used to stifle dissenting voices and alternative perspectives, according to the report.

“Both media and government personalities demonized dissenting opinions. Their labels of ‘anti-vaxxer’ or ‘science deniers’ were intended to associate people who did not consent to the experimental injections with ‘Holocaust deniers.’ Many people fell prey to the fear of being labelled and remained silent,” it reads.

Whether the media was “state-controlled” during the pandemic or simply bought into the governments’ messaging and began repeating such narratives without question was “not discovered through testimony at the inquiry.” A deeper investigation into the matter needs to be carried out, the report states.

“Regardless, the cooperation of the media with the government during this time created a campaign of propaganda and terrorism that represents a grave violation of human rights, democratic values, and the principles of international law,” it reads.

Vaccine Mandates

The report points out that coercion was applied to “virtually every aspect of Canadians’ lives” during the pandemic. Workplace vaccination mandates forced even workers who never intended to get a COVID-19 vaccine to take the shot, as people were afraid to lose their jobs. The government also blocked employment insurance for people who lost jobs because they didn't get vaccinated.

The NCI heard testimony from several witnesses who said that “they or a loved one felt compelled to take the injection, under the threat of losing their livelihood.”

Several educational institutions implemented vaccination requirements, such as denying unvaccinated students access to classes to “coerce students to get vaccinated.” The government imposed vaccine mandates for domestic and international travel.

The announcement that unvaccinated people wouldn't be allowed to sit near vaccinated individuals on planes came at a time when “it was already known that vaccinated people could transmit the COVID-19 virus to other vaccinated people.”

“This inconvenient fact went unacknowledged so that pressure on the unvaccinated could continue,” the report reads.

Vaccine passes were designed to prevent unvaccinated individuals from accessing anything not deemed essential, including visiting their children’s school and services such as restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters.

“The message was clear: if you want access to these people/things that you like/love, you must submit to vaccination,” the NCI stated.

In October 2021, the Canadian federal government imposed vaccine mandates in the public sector, requiring proof of vaccination from federal public servants as well as people employed in federally regulated industries such as banking. Individuals who didn't show proof of vaccination or had a medical or religious exemption were placed on unpaid leave.

People traveling on VIA Rail trains and on cruise ships also had to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result.

In Alberta, Canada, the provincial government required movie theaters, restaurants, and sports venues to ask patrons for vaccination proof or negative COVID-19 test results. British Columbia also imposed such restrictions.

Vaccines 'Should be Stopped Immediately'

The NCI report is based on the testimony of more than 300 members of the public and expert witnesses.

Although subpoenas were issued to 63 members of the government, authorities, and regulators, none of them appeared at the hearing to give testimony.

In his remarks during the hearing, NCI Commissioner and Chairperson Ken Drysdale said the testimonies “provide irrefutable evidence that an unprecedented assault has been waged against the citizens of Canada,” according to a Nov. 28 statement.

“Not since World War II has the nation experienced such a devastating attack on its people,” he said. “Many public and private bodies such as schools, medical providers and regulators, unions, justice and policing all failed Canadians. These institutions and individuals must also be held to account.”

The report recommends that the “current use of COVID-19 genetic vaccines in Canada that were authorized under the revised provisions of the Interim Order and the newly revised Food and Drug Regulations, should be stopped immediately.”

A full judicial investigation into the authorization process under which the COVID-19 vaccines were approved must be carried out, it states.

Representatives for Health Canada didn't respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Governor announces $100M in funding for high-speed broadband 

Applications are now open for the $100 million Affordable Housing Connectivity Program, which aims to design and install broadband infrastructure at 100,000 affordable housing units across New York state.

The request for applications is available here.

New York’s Affordable Housing Connectivity Program is a competitive grant program designed to fund high-speed, reliable broadband infrastructure to and within low-income housing buildings. Internet service providers are invited to apply for $100 million in federal funding for retrofits to provide internet infrastructure in affordable housing rental units to support high-speed internet. 

Property owners must complete a survey to be considered for no-cost broadband upgrades to their building. Empire State Development’s ConnectALL Office will pair eligible properties with the best proposals from Internet Service Providers to complete the installation.

This $100 million investment in New York State comes from the $10 billion in the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund.


US Air Force Grounds Entire Osprey Fleet After Fatal Training Mission Crash in Japan

US Air Force Grounds Entire Osprey Fleet After Fatal Training Mission Crash in Japan 

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has grounded the United States' entire fleet of CV-22 Ospreys while an investigation into a Nov. 29 crash off the Japanese coast is ongoing.

Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, the AFSOC commander, said in a Dec. 6 media statement he had directed an immediate "operational standdown" of the Osprey fleet until the investigation into the crash off the shore of Japan's Yakushima Island, Japan, is concluded.

So far, no timeline for the investigation and a possible end date have been revealed publicly.

In a separate Dec. 6 media statement, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) also said that "Out of an abundance of caution," it was "instituting a grounding bulletin for all V-22 Osprey variants" immediately. NAVAIR said the decision was a direct result of the crash in Yakushima, and the grounding bulletin was to ensure everyone's safety.

"While the mishap remains under investigation, we are implementing additional risk mitigation controls to ensure the safety of our service members," the federal agency said.

"The Joint Program Office continues to communicate and collaborate with all V-22 stakeholders and customers, including allied partners."

Japan had asked the U.S. military to ground all Osprey aircraft not engaged in emergency recovery operations following the Nov. 29 training mission crash. At the same time, Senior Japanese Defense Ministry official Taro Yamato announced all 14 of its Ospreys had been grounded for now.
 An MV-22B Osprey with Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1 transports ordnance during an Expeditionary Advanced Base Operation (EABO) exercise to Old Highway 101 near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., on May 25, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps via AP)
An MV-22B Osprey with Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1 transports ordnance during an Expeditionary Advanced Base Operation (EABO) exercise to Old Highway 101 near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., on May 25, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

Osprey crashes have plagued the U.S. military for years. A fatal crash that killed three in August led to the Marines ordering a safety review of the aircraft.

The fleet was also grounded earlier this year following yet another incident. Last year, AFSOC ordered a temporary stand-down of its Osprey fleet following safety incidents where the clutch slipped, causing an uneven power distribution to the rotors.

Ramaswamy: Former Gov. Nikki Haley is 'corrupt' | NewsNation GOP Debate

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

New York reinstates compulsory quarantine 

New York state’s Fourth Judicial Department has reinstated a controversial policy that empowers the state government to lawfully order people to involuntarily isolate or quarantine in order to prevent the spread of highly contagious diseases.

Originally passed in February 2022, the dramatic expansion of the rights and abilities of the State Health Commissioner, collectively referred to as Rule 2.13, was struck down in July of that same year in the state Supreme Court, following a lawsuit filed by Republican lawmakers Sen. George Borrello, Assemblyman Chris Tague and U.S. Rep. Mike Lawler, who was a member of the Assembly at the time of the filing.

Last Friday, the Fourth Judicial Department repealed that decision, stating that the Republican challengers, who had argued that Rule 2.13 gave undue power to the executive branch and disregarded the authority of the state legislature, had not established how their authority had been negated.

The court’s Democratic Supermajority, in a unanimous vote, ruled that the “Legislature retains its power to address the regulation,” essentially stating that New York legislators still maintain the authority to change the laws which originally empowered the Governor’s office to pass new and stricter public health policies. Furthermore, the Fourth Judical Court wrote “that the legislator petitioners failed to fulfill the injury-in-fact requirement to establish standing” arguing that the state legislators who originally brought the suit did not have the legal standing to do so.

The lower court ruled that Rule 2.13 did not nullify any vote cast by the plaintiffs or strip them of any due authority, thus the challengers had no grounds on which to personally sue.

“Inasmuch as the legislator petitioners merely asserted an alleged harm to the separation of powers shared by the legislative branch as a whole, they failed to establish that they suffered a direct, personal injury beyond an abstract institutional harm,” wrote the court.

Republicans have categorized the Fourth Judical Departments ruling as a technicality, and have vowed to continue challenging the policy.

“The court seems to insinuate that the only person with the right to sue is someone who has been forcibly locked in their home against their will” Bobbie Anne Flower Cox, the attorney representing the petitioners, wrote in a blog post following the lower court’s decision.

Rule 2.13 was fi rst made possible when, during the early days of the Covid 19 Pandemic, the state legislature amended executive law and gave then Governor Andrew Cuomo broad power to suspend laws and issue directives through executive orders.

The new ruling supersedes the conclusion of Supreme Court Justice Ronald Ploetz of Cattaraugus County, who stated Rule 2.13 violates the constitutional requirement for a separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches when establishing actions as severe as involuntary isolation.

With Rule 2.13 reinstated, the State Commissioner of Health now resumes the authority to “whenever appropriate to control the spread of a highly contagious communicable disease, issue and/or direct the local health authority to issue isolation and/or quarantine orders, consistent with due process of law, to all such persons as the State Commissioner of Health shall determine appropriate.”

US Joins New Climate Pact to Shut Down All Coal Plants

US Joins New Climate Pact to Shut Down All Coal Plants 

The United States has "proudly" committed to not build any new coal-fired power plants and to get rid of existing ones entirely, John Kerry, special presidential envoy on climate matters, said on Dec. 2.

"To meet our goal of 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, we need to phase out unabated coal," he said in a statement, in which he announced at the annual United Nations COP28 climate change summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates that the United States had officially joined a coalition of 56 other countries who all plan to ditch coal in the name of climate change.

“We will be working to accelerate unabated coal phase-out across the world, building stronger economies and more resilient communities. The first step is to stop making the problem worse: stop building new unabated coal power plants.”

While no specific date was given for when the Biden administration plans to nix existing U.S. coal plants, other regulatory actions by the administration zero in on 2035 as the year when coal ends.

Just below 20 percent of U.S. electricity was powered by coal as of October, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

Anti-Coal Alliance

The anti-coal commitment that Mr. Kerry said Washington had just joined is called the Power Past Coal Alliance, which was started six years ago and had 50 members until Dec. 3, when the United States, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Kosovo, and Norway joined, bringing the total to 56.
Citing the International Energy Agency's (IEA) Net Zero Roadmap, the Power Past Coal Alliance said in a Dec. 2 statement that, in order to "keep the 1.5°C goal within reach," advanced economies such as the United States need to immediately end the construction of new coal power plants and phase out existing plants by 2030 and by 2040 in the rest of the world.

The goal, first established in the Paris Agreement in 2015, aims to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100.

In 2022, coal-fired plants generated 36 percent of global electricity, outstripping all other sources. More than half of that output was in China, which is building new coal plants at a fast pace, undeterred by various climate pledges and goals that the country's leadership has paid lip service to.

The next three largest contributors to global coal-fired electricity are India, the United States, and Japan, which jointly account for about 25 percent of the total.

Coal Use in China, Elsewhere

China saw coal power projects jump in 2022, even as the country pledged to pare coal consumption by the end of the decade.
In 2022, coal power construction starts, new project announcements, and plant permissions “accelerated dramatically” in China, according to a February report by Global Energy Monitor and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), which noted that roughly two new coal power plants were being permitted per week in China.

"50 GW [gigawatts] of coal power capacity started construction in China in 2022, a more than 50 percent increase from 2021. Many of these projects had their permits fast-tracked and moved to construction in a matter of months,” the report reads.

“A total of 106 GW of new coal power projects were permitted, the equivalent of two large coal power plants per week. The amount of capacity permitted more than quadrupled from 23 GW in 2021.”

The second-largest consumer of coal, India, has also seen its consumption rise. According to the “Coal 2022” report by the IEA, coal demand in India rose by 14 percent in 2021.

Coal demand in the United States grew by 15 percent in 2021, per the IEA report.

A recent report by Global Energy Monitor (GEM) found that roughly a million coal jobs could be lost by 2050 as mines are retired—even without any climate policies being implemented.

The vast majority of job losses would be in Asia, with China and India bearing the brunt.

As for the United States, the GEM report estimates that more than 15,000 jobs in the coal sector will be lost per decade in the 2030s and '40s, and less than 15,000 jobs will be lost in the 2050s.

For the current decade, the report estimates a U.S. coal job loss of below 15,000.

Naveen Athrapully contributed to this report.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Daily Wire Launches LADY BALLERS, Leftists LOSE IT Over New Comedy With ...

NY governor slammed for rejecting retail crime task force while store owners lose billions to theft 


New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is under fire for vetoing a retail crime task force as retailers in the state report a loss of billions of dollars to shoplifting

The bill, which received bipartisan support, would have created a panel of experts to outline ways to respond to retail theft in New York State. Hochul rejected the bill last week, sparking outrage from retailers and lawmakers statewide.

“Retailers throughout the state are extremely disappointed to learn that Governor Hochul vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have established the New York State Organized Retail Crime Task Force,” Melissa O’Connor, the president and CEO of the Retail Council of New York State, wrote in a statement. “I spoke with Governor Hochul at length to discuss the need for immediate action and an effective, collaborative response to this problem. She made it abundantly clear that retail theft prevention will be a priority for her administration, and we look forward to working with her to achieve results.”

O'Connor's organization highlighted state retailers' self-reported loss of $4.4 billion to shoplifting in 2022 as reason to form the task force.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers also condemned Hochul for the move, arguing that passing the bill would have brought "relief" to store owners.

“I am disappointed the governor did not sign this legislation,” Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-Marcy, said. "It is important to support our hardworking local businesses and this task force would review solutions to creating a safer environment for business owners as well as customers.”

Retailers and law enforcement from the Capital Region have stressed the need for a statewide response to theft, noting that it is having a "devastating effect" on communities.

"When we see these organized retail theft operations, we've got to respond to it," Albany Police Department Chief Eric Hawkins told CBS6 Albany. "So, now we're diverting resources from places that's sorely needed."

New York City Mayor Eric Adams launched the city's own retail theft task force earlier this month, touting its “360-degree” capability to confront shoplifting.

“I am proud to convene this group of experts and practitioners as we continue to take a 360-degree approach to combatting retail theft and curbing this serious issue that plagues cities across the country,” Adams said. “Together, we recognize the importance of safeguarding our businesses, protecting jobs, and ensuring a safer and more vibrant city for all who live in, work in, and visit our great city.”

Organized retail crime is growing into a substantial threat for store owners throughout the U.S. Stores have lost a combined $112 billion in sales in 2023. Major retailers like Walmart and Cosco are beginning to rethink their self-checkout offerings, which they believe contributes to additional shoplifting and lost profits due to customer error.

Russian Stock Exchange Hit by U.S. Sanctions Files for Bankruptcy 

A petition for bankruptcy purportedly filed by the St Petersburg Stock (SPB) Exchange has been rejected, according to reports which come less than a month after the U.S. imposed sanctions on it.

However, media in Russia have reported that the request for insolvency by the country's second-largest bourse—behind the Moscow Exchange—may have been a fraudulent ploy by attackers to manipulate the market and that an investigation has been launched.

Rumors of an impending insolvency prompted a slump in the stock exchange's shares by more than a third (34.9 percent) before partially recovering as speculation mounts over whether the request was genuine, according to financial website

Newsweek has contacted Russia's Central Bank for comment.

On November 2, the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control added the SPB Exchange, which gives investors access to the international stock markets, to its sanctions list before suspending its trading in American securities.

The U.S. measures also targeted seven Russia-based banks and a banking executive to further punish the country over its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and isolate it from the world's financial system.

On Monday, the brokerage denied media reports that filings with Moscow's Arbitration Court from November 24 showed it had applied for bankruptcy. The name of the applicant and the amount of the claim were not indicated on the application. The exchange said in a statement it "has a stable financial position and there are no signs of bankruptcy," according to the Moscow Court of Arbitration.

But the Moscow court said it had received an application from some source, according to media reports.

This was rejected because it violated the legal procedure by not being published on Russia's financial registry, Fedresurs, and did not contain the required evidence needed "to verify its validity," the court said. The ruling said that rejecting a petition does not prevent a request for bankruptcy from being filed again.

SPB Exchange issued a statement that it will "contact law enforcement agencies and initiate an investigation into a case of forgery of documents and unlawful filing of a bankruptcy petition by attackers."

The Bank of Russia said it would investigate whether there had been violations of legal requirements on insider trading and market manipulation and would examine the actions of investors with shares of the trading platform, the newspaper Vedemosti reported.

Meanwhile, the bank's head of consumer rights protection, Mikhail Mamuta, called for an investigation because there had been an "obvious manipulation" of the price of the stock exchange's shares.

"This is not an abuse of rights, this is close to a crime and it seems to me that law enforcement should figure out what happened," he said, according to business outlet RBC.

Elon Musk DROPS F-BOMB NUKE On Woke Libs LIVE On TV: “Go F*** Yourself! ...

Henry Kissinger Has Died at the Age of 100

Henry Kissinger Has Died at the Age of 100 

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a key figure in shaping U.S. foreign policy during the late 20th century, has died at the age of 100.

Mr. Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut on Wednesday, according to Kissinger Associates, Inc.

A German-born American diplomat, he served as secretary of state for two presidents. While serving under Republican President Richard Nixon in the 1970s, Mr. Kissinger, Ph.D., played a key role in many significant global events.

In his later years, the former U.S. diplomat faced restrictions on his travels as other nations sought to question or arrest him regarding past U.S. foreign policy decisions.

President Gerald Ford, who referred to Mr. Kissinger as a "super secretary of state," also acknowledged his prickly demeanor and self-assurance, which critics viewed as paranoia and egotism. President Ford once remarked that Mr. Kissinger "had the thinnest skin of any public figure I ever knew."

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who served under former President Donald Trump, paid his respects to Mr. Kissinger on Wednesday.

"From the day he came to the United States as a teenager fleeing Nazi Germany, Dr. Kissinger dedicated his life to serving this great country and keeping America safe," Mr. Pompeo said.

"He left an indelible mark on America's history and the world. I will always be grateful for his gracious advice and help during my own time as Secretary," he continued. "Always supportive and always informed, his wisdom made me better and more prepared after every one of our conversations."

Born Heinz Alfred Kissinger on May 27, 1923, in Furth near Nuremberg, Germany, Mr. Kissinger relocated to the United States with his family in 1938 to escape the Nazi campaign targeting European Jews for extermination.

He anglicized his name to Henry and obtained U.S. citizenship in 1943. He served in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War Two and later attended Harvard University on a scholarship. He earned a master's degree in 1952 and a doctorate in 1954, subsequently joining Harvard's faculty, where he remained for the next 17 years.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Monday, November 20, 2023

China and Saudi Arabia sign a $7 billion currency swap agreement, adding to de-dollarization push 

  • China and Saudi Arabia signed a currency swap agreement worth around $7 billion.
  • It's yet another push towards dedollarization as countries attempt to wean off use of the greenback.
  • China's o utstanding balance of forex swap lines hit a record 117.1 billion yuan, Bloomberg reported.

China and Saudi Arabia reached a currency swap agreement worth around $7 billion, marking another step in the dedollarization trend as countries around the world shift away from the greenback.

The three-year deal allows for a maximum of 50 billion yuan or 26 billion riyals.

While relatively small, the deal could loom larger symbolically as Saudi Arabia is the world's top oil exporter, and most global oil trades are conducted in dollars.

And although Russia is China's top oil supplier, China imported $65 billion worth of Saudi crude oil in 2022, according to Chinese customs data cited by Reuters. That adds up to roughly 83% of the country's total exports to China.

More broadly though, China has been on a campaign to boost the internationalization of the yuan in an attempt to dethrone the dollar.

Last month, RBC reported that 25% of Russia's trade with countries other than China was settled with the renminbi. And a JPMorgan report in September said more and more of the oil trade is taking place with currencies other than the dollar.

Meanwhile, the o utstanding balance of China's foreign-exchange swap lines notched a new high of 117.1 billion yuan in September, according to data analyzed by Bloomberg.

China has signed other currency swap agreements this year with countries like Argentina. In fact, the Chinese central bank currently has 29 active swap agreements, topping 4 trillion yuan, according to a report released last month.

Beijing has also encouraged foreign investors to access Chinese markets through the issuance of panda bonds. At the latest Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese banks also signed a series of yuan-denominated loans for countries like Peru and Malaysia.

IMF Releases Digital Currency Handbook for World's Central Banks

IMF Releases Digital Currency Handbook for World's Central Banks 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a handbook for global central banks regarding the development and implementation of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

The IMF’s “Central Bank Digital Currency Virtual Handbook” published last week pointed out that the increased use of CBDCs can “reduce dollarization” of the global economy—a situation where countries move away from relying on the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency. De-dollarization would push up borrowing costs in the United States, making loans expensive for businesses and individuals, thus affecting economic growth. Stock market values can also crash, reducing the savings and investments of Americans.

In addition to de-dollarization, a CBDC “could increase risks of flight to safety from retail bank deposits in periods of market stress.” During times of market volatility, customers withdraw their deposits and move it into safe assets to avoid losing money in scenarios like bank collapses.

If CBDCs were available, pulling out funds from a bank and putting them in such assets will come across as a safe option for many people, thus triggering a bank run.

The organization pointed out that CBDCs could offer “a safe store of value and efficient means of payment, which can increase competition for deposit funding, raise banks’ share of wholesale funding, and lower bank profits.”

The IMF handbook was published as the organization’s Director Kristalina Georgieva promoted the use of CBDCs during the Singapore FinTech Festival on Nov. 15, arguing that such digital currencies could bring an end to the cash-based economy.

“CBDCs can replace cash, which is costly to distribute in island economies,” she said during a speech. “CBDCs would offer a safe and low-cost alternative to cash. They would also offer a bridge to go between private monies and a yardstick to measure their value, just like cash today, which we can withdraw from our banks.”

Back in May, Ms. Georgieva said that the world was heading towards widespread CBDC adoption without considering the risks involved in such a transition.

“What we are careful about is the choice between wholesale and retail CBDCs. We think that wholesale CBDCs can be put in place with fairly little space for undesirable surprises. Whereas retail CBDCs, they completely transform the financial system in a way that we don’t quite know what consequences it could bring,” she said during a discussion.

Wholesale CBDCs are meant to be used in interbank settlements as well as transactions between institutions and other market participants, while retail CBDCs are for use by the general population and other institutions.

A potential risk of retail CBDCs is that funds get pulled out from traditional commercial banks and deposited as CBDCs in central banks. The depletion of deposits will affect the lending ability of commercial banks, possibly worsening any banking crisis.

US Government CBDC

While the IMF pushes ahead with the promotion of CBDCs, Republican lawmakers are taking steps to prevent the U.S. government from issuing such digital currencies. In September, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) reintroduced the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act.

In a Sept. 12 press release, Mr. Emmer pointed out that unlike decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, CBDCs are designed and issued by a government “and [transact] on a digital ledger that is controlled by that government.” This could give the administration the power to “surveil Americans' transactions and choke out politically unpopular activity.”

The bill imposes the following prohibitions:
  • It prevents the U.S. Federal Reserve from issuing a CBDC directly to individuals, thus making sure that the Fed cannot mobilize itself as a retail bank and collect personal data of Americans.
  • It prohibits the Fed from indirectly issuing a CBDC to individuals via an intermediary, thereby blocking the central bank from launching a retail digital currency through a two-tiered financial system.
  • It bans the Fed from using any CBDC to implement its monetary policy. This ensures that the central bank is not able to use these currencies as a “tool to control the American economy.”
In March 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order asking the Fed to continue its ongoing research and experimentation of CBDCs and to evaluate the benefits and risks of a digital dollar.

Talking about the issue, Mr. Emmer said that “agency reports to that executive order have made it clear that the Biden Administration is not only itching to create a CBDC, but they are willing to trade American’s right to financial privacy for a surveillance-style central bank digital currency.”

“We’re not going to let this happen,” he said. The CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act “ensures the United States digital currency policy is in the hands of the American people—not the Administrative State—so that it reflects our American values of privacy, individual sovereignty, and free market competitiveness.”

On Sept. 20, the House Financial Services Committee passed the bill.

Back in April, Federal Reserve Board member Michelle Bowman warned in a speech that a CBDC may pose “significant risks, challenges, and tradeoffs.”

There is a “risk that a CBDC would provide not only a window into, but potentially an impediment to, the freedom Americans enjoy in choosing how money and resources are used and invested.”

A CBDC could also lead to the politicization of the payments system, potentially undermining the independence of the Fed, Ms. Bowman said.

In May, Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill banning the use of CBDCs in the state. The bill defined money to exclude CBDC. Weeks before the bill was passed, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had pointed to China as a potential example of how CBDCs could negatively affect people.

“Look no further than China, in seeing the impact of centralized digital currency,” he said. “The People’s Bank of China uses its central bank to monitor citizen behavior, allowing for the surveillance of spending habits and to cut off access to goods and services.”

EU Needs 'Big' Gas Storage Buffer at the End of Current Winter: EC Official 

The EU will need to have a “big buffer” of gas in storage at the end of the current winter to help prepare for the following winter, a senior European Commission official said Nov. 14.

Paula Pinho, energy security director at the EC’s energy directorate, said Brussels was maintaining a “very high level of monitoring and preparedness.”

“I think we are prepared but we really cannot just sit back and relax,” Pinho said in comments posted to the EC website.

“We know that storage facilities are now full, but we cannot afford to just use up all the gas during the winter,” she said.

“As at the end of last winter, we still need to have a big buffer to allow us to go through into the next heating season,” she said, adding that the EC was already preparing for winter 2024-2025. “We cannot lower our guard.”

EU gas storage sites were filled to 99.5% of capacity as of Nov. 12, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe data, having hit 99.6% fullness last week.

The past summer’s stock build was made considerably easier by the warm winter of 2022/23, which left the EU’s storage sites still 55.6% full as of the end of March.

The last winter even saw a period of net injections in January 2023 — typically a peak withdrawal month — as temperatures rose well above seasonal norms.

The still healthy stock level in March 2023 was in stark contrast to the end of the 2021/22 winter when stocks were drawn down to just 25.6% of capacity.

Pinho also said the EC remained vigilant in terms of key energy infrastructure in light of damage to the Balticconnector between Finland and Estonia last month.

“Our infrastructure is critical and because of that, it remains at risk and we cannot exclude the possibility of bad things happening to critical energy infrastructure,” she said.

“If our infrastructure is exposed, we can all of a sudden lose the means to supply the stored gas.”


Demand reductions

Pinho also said the EU had reduced gas demand by 18% compared with the average of the past five years. “We believe that a big part of that is the result of structural measures — and these will stay in place,” she said.

“This means we will be able to continue to simply consume less, which is also our objective, if it doesn’t mean destroying industrial output, and we have good signals in that sense.”

EU member states in July last year agreed to voluntarily cut their gas consumption between August 2022 and March 2023 by 15% compared to the five-year average, and beat the target with demand reduced by 17.7%.

The agreement was extended in March this year and is now set to continue until the end of March 2024.

The biggest cuts in consumption last year were in the autumn on the back of high gas prices and warm temperatures.

Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed the benchmark Dutch TTF month-ahead price at an all-time high of Eur319.98/MWh in late August 2022.

Prices are now lower thanks to healthy storage levels and demand curtailments but remain historically high, with Platts assessing the TTF month-ahead price on Nov. 13 at Eur47.76/MWh.

The EU rules on demand reduction also provide the possibility for the EU to trigger a “Union alert” on security of supply, in which case the gas demand reduction would become mandatory.

Pinho said “everyone” had contributed to the demand cuts. “When we look at the reduction in gas demand, the contribution from households and industry is 50/50 — so it’s really something that pulled everyone together,” she said.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Cushing: 15 tank storage terminals (now with links to each facility) 

Mayor sets up legal defense fund amid corruption investigation 

NEW YORK -- Mayor Eric Adams has set up a legal defense fund amid a corruption investigation into his 2021 campaign.

The fund will be monitored by the city's Conflict of Interest Board, which is an independent agency.

According to the board, city employees are allowed to set up legal defense funds to raise money to pay for certain legal bills.

Adams has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The FBI is investigating the mayor's campaign financing and its possible ties to the Turkish government.

Earlier this month, agents searched the homes of three people in Adams' circle and briefly confiscated Adams' phone and devices.

American arrested in Venezuela just days after Biden administration eases oil sanctions 

A California man’s family is pleading for his release after they say he was wrongfully arrested in Venezuela and held for tens of thousands of dollars in ransom just days after the Biden administration eased crippling oil sanctions on the socialist-run government.

Savoi Wright’s Oct. 24 arrest, which had not been previously reported, has become the latest flashpoint in the tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Nicolás Maduro’s government that critics say should lead to a return to sanctions.

But all Wright’s family wants is for the 38-year-old businessman to be returned home. They know precious little about the circumstances of his arrest. No criminal charges have been filed, he has not been allowed to see a lawyer and the Venezuelan government hasn’t said where he is being held.

“It’s a nightmare. It’s like you’re watching a horror movie but you’re in it,” his mother, Erin Stewart, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from her Oakland home.
This undated photo provided by Erin Stewart and Moizeé Stewart shows Savoi Wright. Wright’s Oct. 24, 2023 arrest in Venezuela, which had not been previously reported, has become the latest flashpoint in the tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Nicolás Maduro’s government that critics say should lead to a return to sanctions. (Erin Stewart/Moizeé Stewart via AP)
This undated photo provided by Erin Stewart and Moizeé Stewart shows Savoi Wright. Wright’s Oct. 24, 2023 arrest in Venezuela, which had not been previously reported, has become the latest flashpoint in the tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Nicolás Maduro’s government that critics say should lead to a return to sanctions. (Erin Stewart/Moizeé Stewart via AP)

Wright joins at least seven other U.S. citizens who remain imprisoned in Venezuela. But his arrest stands out because it came on the heels of a politically risky move by President Joe Biden to roll back crippling oil sanctions against the OPEC nation in tandem with an Oct. 17 agreement in Barbados between Maduro’s government and its opponents to hold elections next year.

Almost immediately, Maduro seemed to disavow the deal when the nation’s Supreme Court, which is packed with loyalists, suspended the results of an opposition-run primary won by Maria Corina Machado, a pro-U.S. former lawmaker.

The Biden administration has said it is prepared to reinstate sanctions if Maduro wavers from his commitments, which include reversing bans preventing Machado and others from holding office, and starting to release political prisoners and wrongfully detained U.S. citizens by the end of November.
This undated photo provided by Erin Stewart and Moizeé Stewart shows Savoi Wright. Wright’s Oct. 24, 2023 arrest in Venezuela, which had not been previously reported, has become the latest flashpoint in the tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Nicolás Maduro’s government that critics say should lead to a return to sanctions. (Erin Stewart/Moizeé Stewart via AP)
This undated photo provided by Erin Stewart and Moizeé Stewart shows Savoi Wright. Wright’s Oct. 24, 2023 arrest in Venezuela, which had not been previously reported, has become the latest flashpoint in the tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Nicolás Maduro’s government that critics say should lead to a return to sanctions. (Erin Stewart/Moizeé Stewart via AP)

That position was reaffirmed Friday by the U.S. State Department in response to questions about Wright’s arrest.

“Failure to abide by the terms of this arrangement will lead the United States to reverse steps taken,” said spokesman Matthew Miller.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration ratcheted up sanctions on Venezuela in 2019 after accusing Maduro of staying in power through a fraudulent election, and then recognized instead the democratically elected opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate president.

Some former Trump administration officials say Wright’s arrest is just the latest example of Maduro acting in bad faith.

“Maduro playing games with American lives is unacceptable,” said Kimberly Breier, a former top U.S. diplomat to Latin America and an architect of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Maduro. “There will be bipartisan agreement in Washington in the coming days that the Barbados agreement, which is just a month old, is finished.”

Added Elliott Abrams, the Trump administration’s special envoy to Venezuela: “Maduro is calling Biden’s bluff.”

The State Department has repeatedly warned U.S. citizens not to travel to Venezuela because of the risk of kidnapping and extortion. Sophisticated criminal groups, sometimes in cahoots with government security forces, target unsuspecting men online or in neighboring Colombia with offers of romance.

Wright appears to be only the second U.S. citizen detained since Venezuela last year freed five oil executives from Houston-based Citgo and two other Americans in exchange for the U.S. government’s release of two nephews of Maduro’s wife who had been imprisoned on narcotics charges.

The 6-foot-10-inch (208-centimeter) Berkeley, California, native and Loyola Marymount University graduate has for more than a decade divided his time between Oakland, Miami and South America while working remotely as a mortgage loan officer, his family said.

“He loved the nomadic lifestyle,” said Stewart, who didn’t know her son was in Venezuela until she learned of his arrest. “Everywhere he went he was seen as a gentle giant, and immensely loved.”

Stewart says she has spoken to her son only once since his ordeal began, after family and friends scrambled to pay a hefty ransom to his captors that they could barely afford. Wright recounted how he was stopped by police while in a park with a woman who had drugs on her. His family suspects she was part of a set-up. Later, once police ruled out any criminal wrongdoing by Wright, they determined he had no stamp in his passport and handed him over to immigration authorities for deportation, Stewart says.

It’s unclear what happened next. But other inmates have told his family that Wright is being held in a former textile factory-turned detention center run by Venezuela’s feared military counterintelligence. Scores of former political prisoners have reported being tortured and abused in the facility’s basement, referred to menacingly by guards as the “House of Dreams.”

Stewart says she fears her son is also being subjected to psychological torture. Her son’s health is also a concern due to strict dietary restrictions caused by severe food allergies.

Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab didn’t provide any information about Wright’s case.

The other U.S. citizens detained in Venezuela include two former Green Berets — Luke Denman and Airan Berry — who were involved in an attempt to oust Maduro in 2019, as well as three men — Eyvin Hernandez, Jerrel Kenemore and Joseph Cristella — who were detained for allegedly entering the country illegally from Colombia.

Wright’s family is speaking out because they feel the U.S. government hasn’t done enough to free him. After complaining to the FBI that their son was being extorted, they were directed to the State Department, which has limited diplomatic tools to secure the release of Americans in a politically turbulent country where the U.S. Embassy has been shuttered since 2019.

The State Department didn’t respond to emailed questions about whether U.S. officials have raised Wright’s detention with Maduro’s government.

“As Americans, when a loved one is in this horrific situation, you think someone is going to be there to help and when they don’t it’s the worst feeling in the world,” said Moizeé Stewart, Wright’s sister. “It’s sickening that they would throw their hands up in the air and say we have no diplomatic relations with Venezuela so we can’t do anything.”