Prosecutors intend to use Mr Trump’s offers of pardons for convicted rioters to demonstrate how he signals that ‘the law does not apply to those who act at his urging’
Ukrainian officials have admitted that Russian forces are intensifying shelling of key frontline positions
Eric Trump was scheduled to return to testify as a witness for the defence but no longer will
Mr Biden is looking to become the oldest US president to be re-elected to a second term
GOP senator has vowed to continue blocking promotions for top brass until Pentagon stops funding abortion-related travel
The average number of children being born to a woman in North Korea, stood at 1.8
Former prime minister to be questioned on UK’s late lockdown and is expected to apologise for government mistakes
‘Significant proposal’ was ‘rejected by the Russians but it does not, it will not deter us from continuing to do everything we can to try and bring both of them home,’ State Department spokesperson says
Ten years ago, Edward Snowden changed American history, but he changed the future too. We're living in it. One week before he lifted just a corner of the rug carpeting over our new regime — the one that now has all but replaced the country we knew — Americans tuning in to "Real Time with Bill Maher" heard a puzzling message from the world to come. Sitting between Obamacare architect Neera Tanden and some third person I no longer remember sat one James Poulos.
Bill had steered the conversation toward the possibility of government overreach, and I cautioned the panel that just because the Bush administration had ostensibly shuttered its Total Information Awareness project didn't mean the military-industrial complex, the intelligence community, or the administrative state weren't still pursuing exactly that. Not for the first time on that panel, I drew some funny faces — and not the haha kind, either — but yesterday's riddle is today no laughing matter.
In the wake of Snowden's disclosures and others to follow, some of the most vociferous criticism of our government crossing the Deep State Rubicon came not from the right, but the left. In the long, often sad 2010s, if you wanted to hear from people mad about malevolent government, angry about corporate corruption, wary of the globalization agenda, and fired up about protecting the little guy, chances were you had to look to the so-called dissident left. I should know.
After the financial crisis blew out my hopes of landing a tenure-track job in academic political theory (I'll wait for you to finish laughing), I left the Beltway swamp for the relatively noble and upright world of Hollywood, where as a disaffected conservative fronting an indie rock band, I was the perfect token right-winger for high-profile new media brands like Vice, the Huffington Post, and the Young Turks.
I worked with them all and, yes, made lots of trendy friends. We were cresting a wave, riding the dragon, speaking our minds. We were the thorn in the side of the increasingly smug and aloof Obama administration — the one that began America's proud tradition of painting rainbow colors on killer robots tasked to take out those unfortunate souls listed on its so-called disposition matrix. One name that didn't appear on any lists, at least none leaked or otherwise made public, belonged to one of the rising stars in my circle of hot media friends.
His name was Michael Hastings. Michael skyrocketed to fame as a real-deal conflict journalist — the kind that made Vice's potentate Shane Smith a very wealthy man. Michael had both the access and the balls to take down Obama's top dog in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, with a single kill shot of his own — one scorching story in Rolling Stone magazine.
I wasn't a part of Michael's inner circle, but I was close enough to see firsthand what he had helped achieve: a creative, confident nerve center of anti-establishment politics in the heart of Los Angeles, centered around Oliver Stone and expanding across time zones to include the likes of Glenn Greenwald, who had recommended me as an in-studio guest to the Young Turks before he became an enemy of the state. But Glenn, as you probably know, is still with us — alive and well — and the same, alas, cannot be said of Michael.
A scant 12 days after Glenn first published Snowden's bombshells, Michael's Mercedes, with Michael behind the wheel, veered abruptly off the pavement, traveling south on Highland Avenue just past Melrose, across from Matzah Pizzeria, and impacted one of the tall, glamorous palm trees lining the median. The vehicle instantly burst into flames and charred the victim "beyond recognition." This event took place shortly before 4:30 in the morning that dark Tuesday.
BuzzFeed chief Ben Smith, who had Michael on payroll, told the press he was shocked and devastated. But words like that couldn't capture the body blow that had caved in the hearts of Michael's friends and loved ones and swiftly shattered the dissident media scene that he had proven to be the heart of. So began what became the systematic roll-up of the dissident left, eventually sidelining even Bernie Sanders and transforming the Democrats from a party with a partisan base mobilized against corruption, globalization, and militarization into one where both the elites and the foot soldiers were slavishly devoted to all those once so terrible things.
I don't know exactly what happened to Michael that terrible night, but I didn't tell the press when they came calling that I knew where Michael had been before he climbed into his car — agitated but very unsuicidal — and began what he had intended to be a quick trip out of town. I knew the last two people he had spoken to before he died, and I knew what he had said to them. I knew something was very wrong, and I knew nobody was ever going to find out what it was. No investigation into Michael's death was forthcoming; his coroner's report was unceremoniously sealed. He had disappeared into a hole as dark and obliviating as any of his country's secret and illegal black sites. And so, in a sense, his country had done the same.
I've never spoken publicly about any of these details until now. Ten years of silence can do that to you. The list of people present at the creation of the first political media scene in the age of social media was short in 2013, and the list of those still kicking today is shorter still. There's never been a proper retrospective of just what happened to our government, our media, and our political institutions since Michael Hastings was so quickly removed from the national equation. Even though, with the benefit of hindsight, the strange concurrence of the death of New Media and the death of the dissident left goes beyond the realm of the uncanny and into the realm of the suspect. It stinks. Not just with the stench of death, but of murder most foul.
A suspect with a lengthy criminal history allegedly stabbed to death a Philadelphia Macy's security guard on Monday — just minutes after the guard caught him trying to steal hats and let him go.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
Police sources told WPVI-TV store security stopped 30-year-old Tyrone Tunnell from trying to steal several hats.
The security guard who stopped Tunnell — 27-year-old Eric Harrison, according to family members — retrieved the hats and sent Tunnell on his way, the station said.
But WPVI said Tunnell came back about 15 minutes later and fatally stabbed Harrison.
Eric HarrisonImage source: YouTube screenshot
Another guard whom police identified as a 23-year-old man intervened and suffered wounds to his face and arm, the station said.
Tunnell soon was arrested at the Somerset train station in the Kensington section of the city, WPVI said, adding that police said witnesses positively identified him.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office on Tuesday approved a murder charge against the suspect, along with other charges, the station said.
WPVI said authorities haven't officially named the charged individual.
Court documents indicate Tunnell has been arrested more than a dozen times for retail theft, robbery, and drug offenses across the region, including in Philadelphia as well as suburban Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, the station said.
Harrison's mother, Dawn Fobbs, told WPVI in a separate story that her son was her best friend.
"Just why? Why my baby?" Fobbs wondered in an interview with the station.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
"It couldn't happen to a more innocent soul," she added to WPVI. "Just at work doing your job, you know, his second job at that."
The station said Harrison first worked overnight at the post office then went to Macy's where he'd worked as a security guard for two years.
Harrison's mother also works retail as a store manager, WPVI said, adding that she understands certain risks are involved — but that this crime was senseless.
"Over some merchandise, you came in and took my baby's life," Fobbs told the station. "He will never have children, he will never get married. All because of some hats."
WPVI added that she described her son as a Frankford High School graduate and a Philly kid through and through who leaves behind three younger sisters.
"Just pray for strength for my family because that's what we need," Fobbs noted the station, adding that she appreciates her son's fellow security guard who stepped in and tried to help him.
Security guard killed at Philadelphia Macy’s was an ‘innocent soul,’ mother says youtu.be
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Speaker Mike Johnson (R) is drawing a line in the sand on Ukraine military assistance.
On Monday, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young told Johnson that American aid to Ukraine will dry up by the end of the year without further congressional action.
More than 100 schools nationwide have partnered with a software company to roll out its artificial intelligence-powered firearm detection tool in hopes of preventing active shooter incidents before or as soon as they occur.
ZeroEyes, founded in 2018 by a team of military veterans, created "a proactive, human-verified visual gun detection and situational awareness solution that integrated into existing digital security cameras to stop mass shootings and gun-related violence," according to its website.
"Drawing from over 50 years of collective military experience, we provide military-grade intelligence monitoring to facilities like schools, commercial buildings, and defense sites," the site reads.
The technology uses AI to detect "brandished firearms within view of any camera," often within two to three seconds, according to ZeroEyes. Once a gun is detected by the system, an image from the video feed is sent for review to the company's "human monitoring centers" to prevent false positives. After being verified by a person, the system then notifies local authorities.
"Every detection goes through our human monitoring centers so we can verify threats before triggering real-time alerts and safety protocols," the company's website notes. "When, and once an image is verified to be in the same of a firearm, we notify appropriate security personnel and first responders in as fast as 3–5 seconds, potentially reducing response time and saving lives."
The alert informs school administrators that a firearm was detected and which camera identified the potential threat.
Co-founder of ZeroEyes Sam Alaimo told Fox News Digital, "The algorithm says, hey, I think it's a gun. It sends a still-frame image to our operating center. Our analyst looks at it and says if it is a gun, I am going to dispatch it."
"If we can tell very obviously it's not a genuine threat, we do not dispatch the client. We'll just give them a friendly phone call or an email saying, hey you want to be aware of a child with a Nerf gun that looks very much like the real thing is over here, you might want to take care of that," Alaimo added.
He noted that the software has been installed in over 100 schools across 35 states.
The company notes that its operations center is built with multiple redundancies to ensure its system is never interrupted by power outages or natural disasters.
ZeroEyes cannot detect concealed weapons or firearms in a holster.
AI technology used in security systems has raised concerns about privacy from critics.
According to the software company, its tool does not use facial recognition or store biometric identifiers."The only time a person's face would be recorded and retained would be in the instance of an active shooter/mass shooting incident," it stated.
"If allowed by the customer, we record video of our technicians onsite in the process of testing detections during the installation phase," the company continued. "We store any detection image, false positive or true positive for improving our AI and providing forensic false positive reports. This data is always transmitted and stored in an encrypted format and data retention timeframes can be specified by the customer."
Iberville Parish School District in Louisiana plans to install ZeroEyes by January in hopes of boosting school security measures. Superintendent Louis Voiron told Fox News Digital, "There's no way with us having 800 cameras in our school district that one or two people can see what's happening on every single camera in the district."
"Unfortunately in our area, we have had a couple shootings that have occurred on school campuses and near school campuses. And we took the approach to being more proactive," Voiron continued.
Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District, a New Jersey school system, stated that the AI-powered technology will allow its school resource officers to focus on building relationships with the students instead of monitoring cameras all day.
Superintendent James Reina explained, "AI, in combination with the 24-hour ZeroEyes Operations Center, is always monitoring our camera feeds for possible images of weapons, which removes the need for someone to be solely focused on the security cameras every time there are people in the building. We consider relationship building between our security guards, armed SROs and students to be critical to security, because if the kids know and trust us, they'll tell us if anybody is threatening to bring a gun to school. If an SRO is locked in a room all day watching cameras, they're not creating relationships with the community."
Earlier this year, Ocean City, another school district in New Jersey, installed ZeroEyes on school campuses. Ocean City Police Chief Jay Prettyman told ABC News in September that the tool could also deter other criminal activity.
"If we can put something in the place that we can advertise about – that can scare people from coming to Ocean City and coming to any of our schools, and we can push evil off to another day – that's what I think is our responsibility to do for our kids every day," Prettyman stated.
According to ZeroEyes, Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the United States Air Force have also implemented its technology.
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Former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor has teased plans to do more than criticize the leftist elements weakening and endangering the Emerald Isle. McGregor indicated he might be willing to step into the ring should the Irish desire a fighter for president.
South African billionaire Elon Musk is among those ostensibly keen on McGregor taking a shot at the title, telling the 35-year-old Irishman on X, "I think you could take them all single-handed. Not even fair."
McGregor, who recently became the subject of a hate speech investigation by Irish police after he condemned the stabbing of school children, detailed the Irish political field Monday as he sees it along with the gerontocrats populating it and his route to power.
"Potential competition if I run. Gerry, 78. Bertie. 75. Enda, 74. Each with unbreakable ties to their individual parties politics. Regardless of what the public outside of their parties feel," McGregor wrote on X. "These parties govern themselves vs govern the people."
Gerry Adams previously served as president of the radical socialist political party Sinn Féin from 1983 until 2018. He also served as a Teachta Dála — member of the lower house of Irish parliament. He stood down from his post representing Louth in the last election.
A spokesman for Adams recently indicated he is not seeking a return to frontline politics, reported Exra.ie.
Bertie Ahern served both as Irish prime minister, also known as taoiseach, from 1997 to 2008, as well as a member of the lower parliament from 1977 to 2011. He led the Fianna Fáil through three coalition governments, but resigned in 2012 amidst an ethics scandal. However, in February, roughly five years after indicating he had presidential ambitions, he rejoined the party.
The Irish Times indicated that Ahern's return to the Fianna Fáil has fueled speculation about a 2025 presidential run.
Enda Kenny, another former taoiseach and multi-decade parliamentarian, served as the head of the Fine Gael, a progressive liberal party greatly supportive of the European Union whose censorious leader, Leo Varadkar, is the incumbent taoiseach.
The Irish Independent suggested last month there is speculation the Fine Gael might advance Kenny as their presidential candidate.
Days after welcoming his fourth child into the world, McGregor told Elon Musk he fancies his chances of winning but would "need to be nominated either by: at least 20 members of the Oireachtas; or at least four local authorities (AKA county councils) to run."
The Oireachtas is Ireland's bicameral parliament.
"Most (26) local authorities are county councils. There are also 3 city councils (Dublin, Galway, and Cork) and 2 councils that oversee a city and a county (Limerick and Waterford)," continued McGregor. "A process. Either way, I'd just be happy with absolute transparency and consultation to the public. Currently there is none. Not an iota."
McGregor condemned the practice of politicians making promises at election time then turning their backs on the populace as soon as the votes are counted.
"It's disgusting. Even opposition politics seems to me more about the attempt of gaining power vs seeking their change," wrote the fighter. "If those currently in power agreed to usher in all opposition stance on change it wouldn't be enough. It's power/greed, the aim."
According to McGregor, yet another "power swap," whereby ruling and opposition parties trade places, would amount to little improvement as it would simply mean only a different stripe of establishmentarians running the nation contrary to the wishes and good of the electorate.
"This is why I'd run, if I was to. To be a voice of the people that deserve to be heard. President of Ireland is a unique position to other countries but it would demand response to questioning," added McGregor.
Musk responded, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Well, I hope you are at least nominated. That would shake things up!"
The populist fighter's political engagement online appears to have increased significantly in recent weeks, in part due to the perception of detached leaders and grievous crimes committed by migrants.
For instance, following the Nov. 23 stabbing of three young children and their caregiver outside a primary school in Dublin by a man initially ordered deported, Mcgregor wrote, "Innocent children ruthlessly stabbed by a mentally deranged non-national in Dublin, Ireland today."
"There is grave danger among us in Ireland that should never be here in the first place, and there has been zero action done to support the public in any way, shape or form with this frightening fact," continued McGregor. "Make change or make way. Ireland for the victory. God bless those attacked today, we pray."
The Irish Times has already begun likening McGregor to former President Donald Trump.
Times columnist Fintan O'Toole suggested McGregor's brand fuses religious piety "with gangsta hedonism, macho-strut with family values, the old god of Irish-Catholicism with a gold-plated Mammon, bullying aggression with the promise of protection, chauvinistic nationalism with global celebrity, fame with notoriety."
"It's a very American blend – and a potentially heady cocktail in an Ireland with a disenfranchised Catholic right and a social infrastructure lagging far behind its population growth," added O'Toole.
McGregor posted an image of himself on Dec. 3, captioned, "Ireland, your President."
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I had the honor on Friday to bear witness to the testimonies of family members of hostages who remain in the clutches of Hamas in Gaza. The Los Angeles event took place a few weeks after the screening of “Bearing Witness,” the 43 minutes of footage filmed mostly by those same barbarians that depict their evil in sickening detail. Maybe you read about it.
Make no mistake: What civilized people would call “unspeakable” atrocities must be spoken about and publicized far and wide. Hamas continues to hold at least 130 hostages, including eight Americans. Hamas terrorists took old women. They took babies. A State Department spokesman on Monday said Hamas refuses to release 17 women because “they don’t want those women to talk about what happened to them” during their captivity.
Since October 7, I have not stopped watching and reading the news from Israel. My emotions have whipsawed from rage and sadness to grief and fear and, finally, isolation, malaise, numbness. As I’ve internalized the pain and suffering of the victims and their families, I realized what I and many other Jews have been feeling since that horrific day.
We all feel like hostages.
I am an American Jew. I am a Zionist Jew. And, no, I will not qualify my political beliefs. This is not about right, left, or center — or it shouldn’t be. It certainly isn’t right now in Israel, where the people are unified in ways I never dreamed possible.
And yet, as a Jew living in America, a country I love with all my heart, I have never felt so unsafe or so fearful. I’m not fearful for myself so much as I’m fearful for my friends and family who once again are “moving targets, with stars on their sleeves.”
The loneliness and isolation many American Jews are experiencing right now is heartrending. We see the videos of Jewish students and teachers and shopkeepers left to fend for themselves against howling anti-Semitic mobs. Then we see the pathetic response and the lip service from politicians and we think: Never again? It’s already happening.
Yes, I’m keenly aware that American Jews often vote against their own self-interest. Who cares? When did it become acceptable to “victim-shame” again? Liberals and leftists who rushed to support Black Lives Matter during the 2020 “summer of love” and who proudly embraced the #MeToo hashtag and insisted we must “believe all women” suddenly have nothing to say about the rape and murder of hundreds of women and children.
What do they suppose “happened” to those 17 women hostages — all between the ages of 19 and 30, by the way — whom Hamas refuses to set free?
They’ve gone from “believe all women” to essentially blaming the women for wearing too short a skirt in the blink of an eye. Except the “skirt” is the mere fact that they were Jews in Israel. Or worse, they’ve remained silent. Whatever happened to “silence is violence”? Silence is also complicity. Silence is collaboration.
I live in the shadow of Hollywood. I know many conservatives despise Hollywood and the entertainment industry with good reason. They’ve helped poison the culture and helped indoctrinate a generation of latter-day Hitler Youth into not just hating America but also hating Jews and Christians, too.
But I’ve seen firsthand a small but significant shift in Hollywood. Several outspokenly liberal Jews, including Bill Maher, Debra Messing, and Michael Rapaport, have denounced Hamas’ atrocities and called out the hypocrisy and the silence of their comrades on the left.
Maybe more important is the shift under way behind the scenes, which I’ve also witnessed up close. Hundreds of powerful people are risking their social and financial status not only to help the cause but also to change the narrative.
Under the circumstances, I don’t care what gets these folks to the party or how late they arrive, just as long as they show up. That’s really all that matters.
October 7 was an epoch-making event. And in the weeks since, we’ve learned who our friends are and who our enemies are. We discovered friends we never knew we had — and enemies we thought were our friends.
And as I listened to the testimonies of mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles who are living through the horror of not knowing the fates of their loved ones, I thought: Enough. No one in America should ever feel like a hostage or feel like they're living in 1930s Germany. I’m done feeling like a hostage in my own country.
We’ve seen the face of evil, and we’ve seen many of our countrymen remain silent in the face of it. But there is a great silent majority of Americans who reject the evil of Hamas and Jew-hatred. The silent majority is not just left, right, or center. It is the majority. So let’s stop being silent.
A YouTuber will serve time in federal prison after he intentionally crashed an airplane, cleaned up the wreckage, and then lied about it to investigators.
On Monday, United States District Judge John F. Walter sentenced Trevor Jacob, 30, to six months in prison after Jacob pled guilty last June to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, said a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Central District of California.
Jacob, a YouTube pilot and former Olympic snowboarder, began a YouTube channel 15 years ago and has since amassed more than 140,000 subscribers. His channel also attracted sponsors, including a company that sells various products such as wallets.
According to federal prosecutors, Jacob agreed to promote a wallet from this company in a video for his channel. But the video he made was not about wallets at all.
Instead, Jacob took off from Lompoc City Airport on November 24, 2021, on a solo flight with the expressed destination of Mammoth Lakes. Several cameras had been affixed to the plane, and Jacob had a video camera and a selfie stick as well.
Approximately 35 minutes after takeoff, Jacob, an experienced skydiver who was already wearing a parachute, indicated that he had "an engine out." He began swearing profusely and opened the plane door, looking nervously at the ground below. Within moments, he evacuated the plane, leaving it to crash in a remote part of Los Padres National Forest.
After landing in a dry brush of poisonous oak, Jacob wandered about for hours, first to locate the plane, then in a desperate search for water and safety. After sunset, he eventually found some ranchers who rescued him.
Jacob documented his journey throughout that harrowing episode. The video of it, entitled "I Crashed My Airplane," is still posted to the TrevorJacob YouTube channel and can be seen below:
Jacob also reported the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board two days after it happened. At that time, he agreed to provide the NTSB with "the coordinates of the downed plane and videos of the crash" and to preserve the wreckage so that the NTSB could examine it, the press release said. The FAA soon began an investigation as well.
Despite the promise not to meddle with the wreckage, a few weeks after the crash, Jacob and a friend located the crashed plane by helicopter. They then used straps to secure the plane to the helicopter and eventually transported it to Jacob's hangar at Lompoc City Airport. There, Jacob systematically dismembered the wreckage and deposited it, pieces at a time, in various garbage receptacles at the airport and elsewhere "with the intent to obstruct federal authorities from investigating the November 24 plane crash," the press release claimed.
Jacob then lied, saying that he did not know the location of the crash site. He also made a false report about the accident and misled investigators when he told them that he had to parachute from the plane because he could not find a safe place to land it.
In other words, Jacob got himself into a mess of his own making and then lied to cover it up. He even admitted as much in a video entitled "I Got My Pilots License Back! But Going to Prison...," posted to his YouTube channel on Monday. In that video, Jacob said that at one point, he was facing five felony charges that each carried a 20-year sentence.
He also called himself "an idiot" for pulling the stunt and said he felt "horrible" about it almost as soon as he hit the ground. "I screwed up," he said. He then added that he has paid dearly for his mistake. But he also indicated that he was motivated to fake the plane crash to fulfill a "bucket list" dream, not "to make money" or "gain online views," as alleged in the press release.
Whatever his reasons, Jacob will serve six months in the interest of justice and to deter other would-be daredevil YouTubers from trying something similar. "It appears that [Jacob] exercised exceptionally poor judgment in committing this offense," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "[Jacob] most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain. Nevertheless, this type of ‘daredevil’ conduct cannot be tolerated."
Jacob's attorney did not respond to CNN's request for comment.
The parents of an 11-year-old Colorado girl have solicited the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization dedicated to protecting religious and free speech rights, after their daughter was placed in the same room as a boy on an overnight school trip and nearly forced to share a bed with him.
Last June, the 11-year-old daughter of Joe and Serena Wailes was one of many students who participated in a trip to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., sponsored by Jefferson County Public Schools, a district located just west of Denver. The Waileses were under the impression that during the overnight portions of the trip, students would be segregated by sex and would even be prohibited from visiting the rooms of members of the opposite sex without permission.
"Girls on one floor, boys on another, they’re not going to be in each other’s rooms unless it is pre-approved," Serena Wailes recalled district representatives repeatedly saying, according to the Daily Signal.
During the trip, the Waileses' daughter, identified only as D.W., was arranged to share a hotel room with two female students from her school and a student from another school, identified as K.E.M. As each hotel room had two beds and four students, students had to share bed with a fellow student, and D.W. was assigned to share a bed with K.E.M.
To make K.E.M. feel more at ease in a room with strangers, D.W. struck up a conversation. At that point, K.E.M. voluntarily revealed to D.W. that he is a biological boy who identifies as transgender. D.W. became uncomfortable with the prospect of sharing a bed with a boy. She immediately went to the hotel room bathroom, which reportedly did not lock, and called her mother, who had accompanied the students on the trip but was not an official chaperone.
According to a letter that ADF sent to JCPS Superintendent Tracy Dorland on Monday on behalf of the Waileses, what happened next was a series of lies and obfuscations that attempted to protect "K.E.M.’s privacy and feelings" at the expense of the privacy and feelings of other students and parents. Serena Wailes, D.W., a teacher, and Principal Ryan Lucas met in the lobby of the hotel. Lucas then spoke with K.E.M.'s parents, who confirmed that K.E.M. is a boy but insisted that he was supposed to be in "stealth mode," "meaning students on the trip would not know about their child’s transgender status."
While Serena Wailes requested that D.W. be assigned to a different room, the chaperones asked D.W. whether she would consider remaining in the same room but sleeping in a different bed. As she was exhausted from the long trip, D.W. reluctantly agreed to those arrangements for one night.
D.W. was also instructed to lie to her roommates and indicate she had to change beds to be closer to the air conditioner, the ADF letter claimed, which led to an unforeseen new problem: one of the roommates suggested that the pairs swap beds so that D.W. and K.E.M. could share the bed next to the air conditioner.
Once again feeling uncomfortable, D.W. met with her mother in the hallway. At that point, Serena adamantly insisted that D.W. be given a different room. "This time, the chaperones agreed to move K.E.M. and one other girl to a different room but again lied about why, saying D.W.’s sick roommate needed more space," the ADF letter said.
According to the letter, D.W. and the other two girls originally scheduled to share a room with K.E.M. were ordered by a JCPS teacher to keep K.E.M.'s transgender identity a secret. Except for the Waileses, the girls' parents, including the parents of the girl who moved rooms with K.E.M., "were intentionally kept in the dark" about it as well, the letter claimed.
JCPS policy, referred to as JB-R, states that in "most cases," students on overnight trips will be placed in rooms that accord with their so-called gender identity, not their sex. The policy further states that the "needs of students who are transgender shall be assessed on a case-by-case basis with the goals of maximizing the student’s social integration, providing equal opportunity to participate in overnight activity and athletic trips, ensuring the student’s safety and comfort, and minimizing stigmatization of the student."
However, ADF argued, this policy puts the "safety and comfort" of trans-identifying students ahead of the "safety and comfort" of everyone else, including young girls like D.W.:
Because of JCPS’s policy, eleven-year-old D.W. was placed in a position where her privacy and comfort were not respected or even considered. Her privacy was violated. And then, to try to protect her privacy, D.W. had to risk social ostracization because school officials required her to raise her privacy concerns during the trip and in front of other students and teachers, including the transgender student. Because JCPS’s policy prioritizes the “safety and comfort” of only transgender students to the exclusion of all other students, there was no way for D.W.’s parents to request an accommodation prior to the trip so they could protect D.W.’s privacy and “minimiz[e] stigmatization” of D.W. Therefore, an eleven-year-old child was placed in a position where she feared social backlash if she requested a different room in front of other students.
ADF requested that the superintendent clarify whether, going forward, parents will be informed about JB-R and about "the sex of their children’s roommates on school-sponsored trips before the trip" and whether the school offers other options for parents who object to opposite-sex roommates for their children. ADF also requested all district documentation on JB-R, including training materials and emails.
Superintendent Dorland has not yet responded to the letter publicly. She also did not immediately respond to Blaze News' request for comment.
Once upon a time, computers and the internet promised a path to freedom: of speech, of commerce, to be yourself, no matter who you were. We’ve since realized this was all a delusion and that our devices have increasingly become a way to track and control us. Especially the most personal of our devices — the smartphone — which is our constant companion, contains our most private thoughts and images, and is essentially a networked surveillance device over which we have far less control than we imagine.
For those of us who dig technology but are increasingly concerned about a growing global panopticon, we face a conundrum: Do we continue to dance with these convenient and powerful devices — that are just as useful to the enemy as they are to us — or do we return to simple cell phones and personal computers? In other words, can we wear the One Ring a little, or do we have to throw it in the fires of Mordor?
Upstart OSOM — founded by former Essential Phone employees — aims to chart a third way through this dilemma with the Solana Saga, the world’s first smartphone built around cryptocurrencies.
Does the Saga offer a path to sovereignty, or is it just another Android phone with a crypto frosting?
I’m no stranger to web3, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert. I hold Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Chainlink. I’ve dropped an embarrassing amount of money on ENS domains and collected a few NFTs, but while I love the idea of an encrypted, decentralized internet, I haven’t really found that web3 has delivered on more than a tiny fraction of its promises thus far.
My experience with web3 has largely revolved around NFTs – even my ENS domain is another NFT. So I see many potential uses for NFTs, especially in the areas of digital IDs and certifications, but the reality in 2023 is that they’re still more about collectibles than they are about identity and access control for apps I can use to get real work done.
Outside of NFTs, I have yet to find a “killer app” that necessitates pumping coins (and gas fees) into my interactions. I’m aware of a few web3 messaging apps, but I haven’t found a reason to leave Signal, primarily since most of my social circle uses it.
It was with this background that I approached the Solana Saga – would the device’s explicit web3 focus help it all make sense? Will picking up the Saga give me that “Aha!” moment that makes web3 click?
Let’s look at the features that make the Saga a “web3” phone.
The Solana Saga is intended to be used as a Solana hardware wallet. You may ask, why not just use the phone you already have and install any of the many mobile wallets on the market, such as Exodus Wallet?
The difference, as maker OSOM explains, is the Saga’s patented Seed Vault, which stores your seed in hardware in such a way that it cannot be accessed directly by Android:
Our patented Seed Vault stores your wallet details safely and separately from the Android system. It’s like a cold wallet but built right into your phone with one-tap integration for transactions, protecting you more than a mere app can.
Steven Laver, Solana’s mobile engineering lead, explained that the Seed Vault takes advantage of Qualcomm’s Secure Execution Environment, paired with the Secure Processing Unit, “which is a dedicated hardware component that provides a super-secure place for encryption and data processing.” Those two hardware components are paired with something called Trusted UI, which temporarily takes control of the display and touch input from Android.
As a result, Android should never be able to actually see any of your Seed Vault’s seeds, keys, or passwords. It’s very similar to Apple’s Secure Enclave technology, which safeguards your biometric data in a special chip on the device.
The practical upside of the Seed Vault is that you can quickly authorize Solana transactions with your fingerprint, a feature that in theory makes it much easier to use web3 apps.
The other cool thing is that since your key is stored in hardware on the device, you can use any Seed Vault-compatible wallet app interchangeably with it, since the app effectively just acts as a front end to the hardware.
The Seed Vault is impressive technology, but there are some practical security concerns it can’t address. Since the Saga is a phone and therefore a device you’re always going to have with you, it’s effectively a hot wallet that’s easy to misplace, break, or have stolen. Realistically, you’re not going to want to store that much crypto on a phone, regardless of how secure the underlying tech is.
And the presence of the Seed Vault might present confusion to casual Saga owners, if such people exist.
Before completing the setup, you are presented with a 24-word seed phrase that you are expected to write down on the included card, and yes, there is a test. Before you can use the phone, you must write out the entire seed phrase to prove that you have written it down.
For dedicated crypto people, this familiar ritual is just a standard step in setting up a wallet. For normies, it might be a baffling hurdle. But again, I'm not sure many normies will accidentally buy a $1,000 phone … unless the long-prophesied hyperinflation happens and $1K USD is not very much in SOL or whatever coin we all end up using in the cyberpunk dystopia.
Unfortunately, the Seed Vault doesn’t work with any wallet that supports the most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. That makes some sense in a web3 phone, since Bitcoin isn’t “smart” like Ethereum and Solana are (at least, not without the Stacks layer), but makes the Saga much less appealing to an enormous chunk of the crypto market.
The Solana Mobile team tells us that there is support for other wallets on the way. The Solana Mobile Stack is open source, so there’s nothing stopping any wallet developer from adding Seed Vault support.
Unfortunately, the Seed Vault is buggy. Sometimes I would scan my finger to authorize a Solana app and I’d be left with an "apply signature" prompt with no other instructions. I would tap "use password," only to return to the fingerprint scanning prompt and thus an endless loop.
Also, while Phantom now works with Ethereum, that doesn’t mean every Ethereum app works with the Saga. I tried to connect to the Ethereum Name Service on the Saga, but the only wallet options were Coinbase, MetaMask, Rainbow, and WalletConnect.
In theory, WalletConnect would let you connect Phantom to ENS. However, tapping that option on the Saga opens the included Ledger Live app, which requires a Ledger hardware wallet to add even more confusion. On the upside, if you do have a Ledger wallet, you can connect it directly to the Saga via USB-C or Bluetooth.
Given that this is a collaboration between Solana Labs and OSOM, it makes a certain amount of sense that the phone centers around the Solana cryptocurrency. But to even the average web3-pilled end user, it’s not clear that tying the phone this closely to Solana was the win OSOM was hoping for.
The chief advantage of the Solana blockchain is that unlike Bitcoin, it supports smart contracts, which enable things like web3 apps. And unlike Ethereum, which can have insanely high “gas” fees, Solana’s fees are tiny, which makes tossing around real money on experimental apps much more palatable. That makes the Solana blockchain a great playground for web3.
However, it increasingly feels like web3 is a forgotten technology of 2022, with the world readily moving on to AI and — thanks to Apple’s Vision Pro — mixed reality. Not helping things is the SEC’s lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase, which threatens the entire crypto market, especially centralized coins like Solana.
Besides the Seed Vault, the other half of the Saga’s Solana angle is the built-in dApp Store, which is Solana’s app store dedicated to web3 apps. As of May 31, 2023, I count 29 apps in the dApp Store, most of which are financial apps or NFT apps. This is the phone to have if you really love NFTs.
As for the rest, I haven’t found much that’s useful or even all that interesting.
The first app I tried was a messaging app called Dialect, which is a web3 messaging app with built-in NFTs. Unfortunately, Dialect is in early access, so I not only know no one else who uses Dialect, I can’t even invite my friends to try it. Most of the activity there seems to consist of public chats where users show off their NFTs.
I downloaded a game, Alpha League Racing, only to find that it’s apparently not open for business. The game told me the first season is over, with no option to play.
Another game I tried is a MOBA called Tearing Spaces, which seems more like a demo than a complete game. There’s no menu; it immediately launches you into one single, short level with a persistent onscreen message that says, “The quality of the beta game-play does not represent the final version.” Then you shoot the boss until you’re presented with a restart button.
I tried an app called Rosen Bridge, which declares itself “the first super app on Solana.” I don’t know what that means. I open the app and I’m prompted to “Be a Blazer.” Again, I don’t know what that means. From what I can tell, it’s some sort of metaverse real estate app where you can pay real money to occupy fake versions of real places. I have no idea why I should care about that. Maybe I’m just old.
What’s interesting about Rosen Bridge is I had to create a login. Isn’t part of the point of web3 to use your wallet as your credentials? Then I tapped a button to apply for a free plot — whatever that means — and I was prompted to log into my Google account. Why does a web3 app need so many logins?
The single most interesting app I found in the dApp Store is Audius Music, a social music app where fledgling artists share their music so you can stream it and then tip them in the $MUSIC cryptocurrency. It’s a neat idea, but I’m willing to bet that most users will skip it, fire up Google Play (which is thankfully preinstalled), and open either Apple Music or Spotify.
There is one app in the dApp Store I recognized: the Brave browser. I was curious whether the Brave Wallet integrated with the Seed Vault, but no dice. It’s the exact same app as the one you would download from the Play Store.
To Solana’s credit, they give you a couple of NFTs and $20 in USD Coin to get started. However, I never felt a compelling reason to trade any of that USDC for Solana. The apps themselves weren’t that interesting, and outside financial apps, I didn’t see much Solana integration.
The Solana Saga arrives in minimalistic packaging, similar to newer iPhones. Open the svelte box and … there’s a phone. Lift up the tray that holds the phone and you’ll find a SIM tray tool, a seed phrase recovery sheet, and a USB-C cable. Again, like recent iPhones, no power adapter is included.
My first thought on picking up and turning on the Saga is, “This is a really nice phone.” The Saga’s materials — ceramic, stainless steel, and titanium — make it feel like a $1,000 phone should.
The fact that the Saga is so nice shouldn’t come as a surprise. Designer OSOM was founded by employees of Essential Phone, which was also a lovely phone but doomed to commercial failure.
It’s as nice as or nicer than any iPhone Pro — except without an annoying notch or a “Dynamic Island.” Instead, it has merely a small pinhole for the front-facing camera.
However, the tradeoff is that the Saga doesn’t have face recognition. Instead, it features a fingerprint scanner on the back — pretty standard in Android phones. Frankly, other than a couple of times when my hands were otherwise occupied, I didn’t miss FaceID, which is often finicky. And having the fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone is much more ergonomic than an obtrusive Home button at the bottom of the device.
My only quibble with the design is the opening for the front speaker, which is a small gap between the screen and body. At first, I mistook it for a design defect, and I worry that over time dust and debris could accumulate there.
The 6.67-inch AMOLED screen is bright with equally bright colors and deep blacks. The 120Hz refresh rate makes it feel positively snappy compared to iPhones.
However, the colors on the AMOLED screen look “funky” compared to LED screens. There can often be a purple hue, and colors often look overly garish. However, unless you’re a professional colorist this is merely a matter of opinion, and the screen is still lovely to look at.
The Saga ships with stock Android 13 with no other additions other than some Saga-specific apps and settings. There’s no bloatware to be found here.
Android 13 is every bit as polished as iOS 16, if not more so, because Google has spent years polishing Android while iOS has grown sloppier as Apple tacks on more features.
Overall, the Solana Saga feels terrific. The premium materials feel good in your hand, the screen is bright and responsive, and it’s just a whole lot of fun. For the first time in years, I want to pick up a phone and play with it just because.
I made the mistake of letting my 9-year-old son try out the phone, and it quickly became an obsession, like Gollum with the One Ring. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but it definitely speaks to the phone’s sheer desirability.
So many smartphone reviews skip an essential but unsexy aspect: At heart, they are still phones, and that functionality is important. Our Saga review unit did not include a SIM card, so I popped in my AT&T network SIM card and gave it a whirl.
I’ve heard untold horror stories about switching away from iOS only for iMessage to keep eating incoming text messages. One of Android’s setup screens even mentioned this. But surprisingly, I didn’t have this problem. I texted my iPhone-using wife and received one back, albeit with a bit of delay at first while the back-end plumbing adapted.
I also tried a test call to my wife, and it worked fine. The ear speaker is crisp and loud, she could hear me just fine, and she detected no difference in audio quality after I switched to speakerphone.
The Saga supports 5G, but I could only pick up LTE service in my small town. I ran Speedtest to get a whopping 2.69 Mbps download speed and 0.34 Mbps upload speed, but it’s hard to say if that was more attributable to my network or location.
However, I did find a deal killer for many of us: The Solana does not support Wi-Fi calling. Or, at least, it doesn’t support Wi-Fi calling with my carrier even though its Wi-Fi calling works with my iPhone. Other Saga users have experienced this as well. Solana Mobile tells me that Wi-Fi calling works with T-Mobile. Sadly, it’s small but important details like this that keep me on iOS. Every iPhone supports Wi-Fi calling, but with Android phones, it’s a crapshoot.
I do not have cellular service at my rural home and depend on Wi-Fi calling, as do many other rural dwellers and urban folks who live in apartment buildings. Given that carriers stopped selling femtocells years ago, many of us rely on Wi-Fi calling for situations like these, so it’s baffling that support is so sketchy.
The camera may be just as important in modern smartphones as the phone part. The rear of the phone has two camera sensors:
The front-facing selfie camera is a 16-megapixel lens with a 2.4 f-stop that can capture video at up to 2K resolution at 60 fps.
There are a couple of notable disappointments at this price point: the lack of a third rear sensor for telephoto shots and no 4K selfies.
The included camera app is OSOM’s in-house camera app, essentially a clone of Apple’s camera app, so iPhone switchers will feel very much at home.
It includes the following modes:
There don’t appear to be slo-mo or time-lapse modes.
Reviewing smartphone cameras is increasingly difficult because they’re all so darn good now, and the results are mainly subjective. I compared the Solana Saga against my iPhone 11 Pro in a variety of conditions and found them roughly equivalent. In some shots, one produced brighter images than the other, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference unless you looked at photos side by side.
I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. On the one hand, the iPhone 11 Pro has an excellent camera. On the other hand, it’s nearly four years older than the Solana Saga, so you’d expect the Saga’s camera to be noticeably better.
The Solana Saga includes a generous 512 MB of internal storage. Pop out the SIM tray with the included tool, and it also features a spot for a microSD card for additional storage. This feature is increasingly rare in even Android phones and is greatly appreciated.
The Saga features IP68 dust and water resistance, which is the same as the iPhone 14 Pro and means that it can safely survive being dunked in water.
Qi wireless charging is built in. However, I had trouble getting it to work consistently. I’m not sure if this is on the part of the phone or my wireless charging accessories, which tend to be tailored for an iPhone.
It includes a 4110 mAh internal battery. Like cameras, battery life is subjective and degrades over time, but I was pleased with the battery life. I suspect you could go a day and a half without charging, assuming you’re not playing graphically intensive games.
Let’s compare the Saga against our own tenets of digital sovereignty:
The Solana Saga is deeply tied into Google services: the Play Store, Chrome, Gmail, and all the rest are built in. This means you have all the same privacy concerns as any other Google device.
To truly be a sovereign phone, it would need to ship with an open-source Android ROM like LineageOS or GrapheneOS. Unfortunately, it’s uncertain if the Saga is even rootable, and in any case, no third-party ROMs are available yet, though the company has hinted at it.
The phone does give you extra control over your money and identity — in the form of Solana-based DeFi and NFTs. However, the main cryptocurrency of choice for digital sovereignists is Bitcoin, and because the Seed Vault doesn’t support any Bitcoin wallets, the Solana Saga is fundamentally no better a Bitcoin wallet than literally any other phone. The same goes for ENS domains, which have become a de facto form of decentralized identity. Since ENS is based on Ethereum, again, the Saga is no different from any other phone there.
As we mentioned, the semi-exclusive Dialect app isn't very useful yet. And you also have the privacy concerns that come with a Google device. So you’re left with apps like Signal for private communications, which isn’t any better than any other Android phone or iPhone.
Again, it’s a Google phone, so throw this out the window. You file the last three tenets from our article’s list under that umbrella:
If you’re currently using an iPhone, yes, the Solana Saga will make you more sovereign simply because of the more open nature of Android. You can sideload apps not approved by Google’s Play Store overlords and even sideload entire app stores, like the open-source F-Droid, but it won’t make you any more sovereign than any other Android phone.
Also, ideally, a sovereign device should be user-repairable. OSOM has mentioned selling spare parts through its online store, but nothing has been released yet.
The Solana Saga achieves what it set out to do: It’s a phone that integrates a Solana hardware wallet and presents the best web3 has to offer. The problem is that what web3 has to offer still isn’t much beyond NFTs and trading.
With the current state of web3 and all the question marks I have around Solana, I would have a hard time recommending it over the Google Pixel, which is less expensive and has much more aftermarket support, including a plethora of custom ROMs for a truly sovereign experience.
That said, the hardware and design are great. And as someone who’s been firmly in iPhone-land for over a decade, I’m impressed with how far Android has come. It used to be that Android was the Linux to iOS’ macOS: a much more free experience, but with edges rough enough to rip your shirt with. Now it’s every bit as nice as iOS, except less constrained and cumbersome.
I may have to take a serious look at an Android device. But until the Solana-based side of web3 steps up in a big way with something more than digital collectibles, buggy games, and NFT trading, I don’t think it’ll be a Solana Saga.
What’s worse is that I don’t think there’s much the Saga’s makers can do in the near term to really sell me on the device — the shortcomings here are mostly on the Solana side of the “Solana Saga” equation, which puts them out of OSOM’s control. Web3 and Solana just yet don’t offer enough for me as a casual crypto user to make either of those technologies the center of my smartphone experience. This is a shame, because with the way things are going, we need web3 to be in better shape than it is.
A few weeks after we received the Solana Saga, we received an email telling us that we would receive a SIM card with a 30-day free trial of Helium Mobile, which is a new mobile carrier currently in beta. There’s currently very little public information about the network, but presumably, it integrates with the crypto-based Helium network, which is a distributed wireless network. You “mine” Helium by providing a wireless hotspot, which encourages the growth of the network. Helium recently switched to the Solana blockchain, so a partnership with Solana makes sense.
Pairing the Saga with a crypto-based wireless network is potentially game-changing, and we’re eager to test it out.
To find out more about this phone, head over to Solana’s website.
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) promised on Monday to confront her colleague Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) about comments she made regarding Hamas' use of rape in their Oct. 7 attack.
On Sunday, Jayapal ignited outrage by asserting that criticism of Hamas for using rape as a weapon of war should be "balanced" while at the same time downplaying the significance of what Hamas did by claiming rape just "happens" in wartime.
Those comments necessitate a frank conversation, Dingell responded.
"I'm going to talk to Pramila, I have a call in to her," the congresswoman said on CNN. "I'm raw on this subject because of the hate that I have had directed at me for speaking the truth. I will speak the truth. And I don’t care who it is. Rape is an act of violence, and it becomes too often a tool in any act of war."
What exactly happened to Dingell? According to the Michigan Democrat, in the immediate aftermath of Hamas' attack, she condemned the terrorist group's use of rape, which led to public attacks.
"Palestinian men went after me, called me a liar, demanded I retract it. I got doxxed over the subject. I have spent the last seven weeks researching the raping of women that has occurred in the Middle East. It is outrageous. I condemn it," she said.
Dingell, moreover, did what the White House refused to do.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked on Monday if the Biden administration believes Jayapal's comments were "appropriate." Jean-Pierre condemned Hamas but outright refused to address the appropriateness of Jayapal's remarks.
The documentation of violence that Hamas perpetrated against women is extensive. Yet Palestinian apologists have dodged acknowledging and condemning it outright. It took about two months, for example, before U.N. Women, the United Nations agency tasked with advocating for women and girls, condemned Hamas for its attack.
In the wake of Jayapal's comments, Dingell and Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) plan to introduce a resolution specifically condemning Hamas for perpetrating sexual violence against women.
Government economic numbers are the new vaccine efficacy statistics. We’re hearing it all right now. Thanks to Joe Biden, the country is enjoying record job creation, plummeting inflation, and a soaring GDP. Bidenomics has given us an economy even better than the peak booms of the mid-1980s and late 1990s.
Your experience may vary, of course.
Consumers know the economy is terrible, but the administration insists that masks work, boosters are essential, and gross domestic product actually increased 5.2% in the third quarter. That’s a revision up from the 4.9% growth the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced in November.
I noted at the time that the entirety of third-quarter growth could be attributed to high inflation, forcing companies to stock up on inventories and consumers to go deeper into debt to cover basic expenses. In fact, the newly revised numbers show the paradox of “GDP growth” in even starker terms.
It turns out that the revision was driven entirely by government spending.
Never have we lived through an era when the growth of government was so vividly correlated with pain to the consumer.
Government spending accounted for 5.5% of third-quarter GDP growth. Absent that spending, the economy actually contracted, which is in line with the reality most people face.
Government spending has now outpaced consumer spending for five consecutive quarters. But the more the government spends and spurs inflation, the more officials can brag about growing the fake economy, even as consumer confidence sinks to recessionary levels. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index dropped to 63.8 in October, on par with some of the readings from the 2008 Great Recession.
In the real world, sales at home improvement retailers Lowes and Home Depot dropped 7.4% and 5%, respectively, during the third quarter. Even the stock market, which has become an artificial reality in recent years, has been flat for the bottom 493 companies of the S&P 500. The top seven grew more than 50%, of course, because whenever government grows, its top cronies grow, too.
In the real world, Joe Biden’s own voters do not believe the hype about economic growth, cooling inflation, and plummeting prices. A recent New York Times/Siena College poll of Biden voters in six battleground states found 62% of respondents believe the economy is only “fair” or “poor,” including 65% of women and 70% of those who earn under $50,000 a year.
In the real world, no amount of cooked government data can erase the reality of what consumers confront every day. A new analysis from Republican members of the U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee found that consumers must spend $11,434 per year more than they did in January 2021 to maintain the same standard of living.
And these aren’t luxury products and services we’re talking about. The basics — food, transportation, housing, and energy — account for almost 80 cents of every $1 of Bidenflation since 2021.
Housing is worse than ever. Affordability hit a new record low in September, according to the Atlanta Federal Reserve. It now takes 44.7% of pretax median income to afford the average-price home, which is well over $400,000 and much higher in desirable metros.
Although it’s true that inflation’s growth rate has slowed, prices are still plateauing at record or near-record highs for most items. The only reason inflation is slowing is due to a decrease in demand, reflected in the decline in oil prices.
Relative to January 2020, however, electricity is up 25%, child care has exploded by 32%, used-car prices have soared 35%, auto insurance is up 33%, and those seeking to escape the housing market by renting are paying roughly 20% more.
Food is really where it hits hard, especially in a country with enough farmland to feed the world. Groceries are up by 25%, with key items like chicken breasts (38%), a pound of ground beef (34.4%), yogurt (41.8%), orange juice (58%), and coffee (48%) surging higher and higher. Thus, according to the Census, the average weekly food bill for a household of four has climbed 32% since October 2020 — from $238.32 to $315.22.
So touting the fact that the rate of further inflation — beyond this new, insanely high baseline — has slowed is an insult to America’s intelligence. Pre-COVID pricing is gone forever.
Oh, and what little income growth you enjoyed is now undercut by the ever-increasing cost of Obamacare, which jumped 7% in just one year for employer-sponsored plans, which come out of your paycheck.
So much of the scarcity and inflation is driven by onerous green fascist regulations, but the lion’s share is from debt-driven government spending, which is ironically credited for boosting the meaningless GDP numbers. We’ve incurred another $2.4 trillion in debt since June, when Republicans foolishly agreed to give Biden a blank check by suspending the debt ceiling for the remainder of his term. The Treasury is set to borrow a total of $776 billion in the fourth quarter of this year and another $816 billion in the first quarter of 2024.
Any discussion of slashing spending in the budget will be met with a chorus of woe and lamentation over painful changes to people’s lives. But somehow, the inflation driven by this very spending that is placing our parents’ standard of living out of reach for all but the wealthy never comes up in federal budget debates.
Never have we lived through an era when the growth of government was so vividly correlated with pain to the consumer. You gotta love government data. It’s just a shame we can never reap its benefits in the real world.
The Biden administration’s Treasury Department announced Monday the launch of a new “Strike Force” dedicated to cracking down on illicit funds behind fentanyl trafficking.
The agency recently formed the Counter-Fentanyl Strike Force “to marshal Treasury’s resources and expertise in a coordinated and streamlined operation to combat the trafficking of illicit fentanyl,” a department press release stated.
It noted that the strike force will be led by the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and IRS Criminal Investigation, uniting resources across several Treasury offices.
In a Monday statement, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to stemming the flow of “deadly fentanyl into communities across the United States.” She noted that the new strike force “will allow us to bring the Department’s unrivaled expertise in fighting financial crime to bear against this deadly epidemic.”
“Treasury will use every tool at its disposal to disrupt the ability of drug traffickers to peddle this poison in our country,” Yellen added.
The secretary planned to travel to Mexico on Tuesday to meet with senior officials to discuss fentanyl trafficking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the more than 107,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2022, 68% involved synthetic opioids like fentanyls.
The strike force aims to crack down on money laundering networks, particularly those utilizing cryptocurrency, according to the Treasury Department. The unit will partner with local and federal law enforcement agencies to address areas in the U.S. that have been impacted the most by the fentanyl crisis.
Brian Nelson, the under secretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence and one of the new strike force’s co-chairs, explained that the department's resources are “disrupting the flow of illicit narcotics into the United States” from the southern border.
IRS Criminal Investigation chief and new strike force co-chair Jim Lee noted, “Partnerships are key to the work we do at IRS Criminal Investigation, and we welcome the opportunity to partner with our Treasury counterparts to combat fentanyl – one of the deadliest narcotics plaguing our country.”
“To date, our team has played a key role in sanctioning and bringing criminal charges against individuals and entities involved in fentanyl trafficking, and we look forward to using our financial expertise to further disrupt the flow of fentanyl into the United States,” Lee added.
A Georgia homeowner "exercising his Second Amendment right to bear arms" fatally shot a home invasion suspect who was threatening him, Sandy Springs police said.
Police said "an unknown male unlawfully entered a residence on Spalding Drive and threatened to harm the homeowner" around 2:20 a.m. Sunday.
Another resident called 911, police said, adding that before officers arrived the homeowner "while exercising his Second Amendment right to bear arms defended himself and his family from bodily harm by shooting the suspect."
Police said arriving officers found the suspect dead of his wounds.
Detectives responded and are continuing their investigation, police said, adding that it's believed the incident is isolated.
WXIA-TV said police didn't indicate if the homeowner was "considered justified or if there might possibly be charges in the incident."
Commenters on the Sandy Springs Police Facebook page regarding the incident are decidedly behind the homeowner's actions:
New York City Comptroller Brad Lander revoked Democratic Mayor Eric Adams’ emergency power, which allowed him to make deals with contractors for migrant services without prior approval, the New York Post reported Monday.
In November 2022, Lander’s office authorized Adams to strike emergency deals to address the city’s migrant crisis without the comptroller’s preapproval. In a Thursday letter, Lander’s office announced that it would be stripping Adams’ administration of the emergency power, now requiring the mayor first to seek approval from the comptroller.
“Given the rapid expansion of the City’s efforts to shelter arriving asylum seekers, our Office is revising its prior approval,” the letter stated.
“The comptroller’s office citywide prior approval,” the letter continued, “is hereby revoked.”
Since May, approximately $500 million has been used to provide various migrant services, including housing, food, and laundry, to asylum-seekers, city contract records reviewed by the Post revealed.
According to Lander’s office, New York City spent $1.7 billion in emergency contracts to address the migrant crisis from January 2022 to September 2023.
Following a review, the office concluded that a $432 million emergency contract “uncovered concerning information & lack of experience in providing shelter & support services.” The comptroller ultimately rejected the contract following several issues with the company.
“The review found significant delays in agencies submitting required outlines and contracts. In FY23, agencies filed emergency contracts on average 144 days (nearly five months) after the start of the contract term even though the City’s procurement rules require that agencies submit contracts to the Comptroller’s within thirty days. The Comptroller’s review also found that agencies likely failed to report the vast majority of subcontractors on these contracts, as required by procurement rules,” the comptroller’s office stated.
A spokesperson for Lander’s office, Chloe Chik, stated, “Our review found extensive failures to report subcontractors despite problems that surfaced with many of them and 80 percent have no performance reviews at all.”
“In response, we concluded that the most prudent course for the city’s fiscal health and integrity would be to require City Hall to seek prior approval before using emergency procurement on a case-by-case basis, as required by the City Charter, rather than blanket approval to use whenever they want,” Chik added.
Lander stated that agencies “should not defer reporting deadlines and must adhere to guidance around transparency, accountability, and greater cost efficiency when stewarding city dollars.”
“Otherwise, unscrupulous vendors could take advantage of the situation, supplies could go to waste, and the public could lose its trust in government to act responsively and responsibly in times of crisis,” Lander explained.
A City Hall source told the Post that the source believes the revocation of the emergency power will slow down urgently needed migrant services.
“Do you want it to take longer to get food to people? I know everyone isn’t a fan of what we are doing, but if the alternative is to sit and wait in bureaucracy, then whatever,” the source told the outlet.
Charles Lutvak, a City Hall spokesperson, criticized Lander’s decision to revoke Adams’ emergency power. He accused Lander of “tying our hands behind our back," which he said is "unfair to both new arrivals and longtime New Yorkers and will unquestionably slow down every step in the process.”
City Councilman Justin Brannan (D), a supporter of Lander’s decision, told the Post, “While managing and financing an international migrant crisis should have never been our responsibility alone, the administration has relied far too much on costly emergency contracts with for-profit companies that have milked taxpayers for millions.”
“While the migrant influx continues, it is no longer an unexpected situation and therefore no longer warrants emergency contracts without oversight,” Brannan contended.