Is American Pork Ending Up In The Bellies Of Chinese Soldiers? thumbnail

Is American Pork Ending Up In The Bellies Of Chinese Soldiers?

By The Daily Caller

Communist China’s military could be reaping the benefits of the takeover of a U.S agricultural giant.

America’s largest pork producer was exporting massive quantities of pork to its Chinese “sister company” as it stockpiled food for the Chinese military, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review of corporate records and Chinese state-run media reports.

Smithfield Foods, owner of roughly 150,000 acres of U.S. land and operator of dozens of feed mills and production plants, has shipped hundreds of thousands of tons of pork to its China-based parent company WH Group and sister company Shuanghui Investment and Development Co. (Shuanghui) since being acquired in 2013, according to corporate and Chinese government records as well as state-run media reports.

Shuanghui has extensive ties to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which it touts on its website, and is responsible for developing food for China’s military to use on the battlefield, according to the PLA-sponsored China Military News.

Shuanghui also operates a food “mobilization center” for the PLA in Henan province, and has done so since 2009, according to a 2022 Shuanghui news release. Shuanghui’s mobilization center stockpiles food, including pork, to meet the PLA’s emergency response needs, and Chinese state-run reports indicate that Shuanghui has distributed food from this stockpile to Chinese soldiers on several occasions in recent years.

A December 2023 report from the Luohe municipal government in Henan province indicates the military stockpile is still active and under Shuanghui’s management.

While Shuanghui doesn’t disclose where the pork it supplies the PLA originates from, it’s very likely that at least some U.S. pork product is being supplied to the PLA, according to Brian O’Shea, a former military and intelligence analyst.

“My opinion would be that the Chinese government is giving this superior U.S. pork to their soldiers,” O’Shea told the DCNF based on his understanding of Smithfield’s central role in Shuanghui’s pork supply chain and Shuanghui’s extensive relationship with the PLA.

“At these mobilization centers, there’s going to be a Smithfield pile and a Chinese domestic pork pile, and the Chinese domestic pork is most likely going to the civilians, whereas the superior pork is going to the Chinese military,” O’Shea said.

Neither Smithfield nor Shuanghui responded to multiple requests for comment.

‘A Unified State’

WH Group acquired Smithfield in 2013 for $7.1 billion. At the time, WH Group Chairman Wan Long said the acquisition would allow his companies to “meet the growing demand in China for pork by importing high-quality meat products from the United States,” adding the merger “provided Smithfield the opportunity to expand its offering of products to China through Shuanghui’s distribution network.”

The DCNF recently reported that WH Group’s chairman and four other executives are Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members. WH Group’s chairman and several top executives also hold, or previously held, positions with the Chinese government, the DCNF found.

WH Group’s leadership includes both Shuanghui and Smithfield executives, according to Reuters.

In 2013, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s annual report characterized Smithfield’s acquisition by WH Group as “part of a broader trend of Chinese global investment in farm assets or food technologies.”

“China’s acquisitions in agriculture and other sectors are being driven by the desire to secure higher volumes of safe products and, in the long term, access to advanced production and processing technologies,” the commission wrote in its report.

“We’ve got to remember that China is a unified state,” Gordon Chang, distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, told the DCNF. “It operates under the direction of the Communist Party, which demands absolute obedience from all individuals and all entities.”

Since 2013, Smithfield’s exports to China have exponentially increased. Shuanghui constructed a $110 million Smithfield-branded factory in China in 2015 that exclusively processes U.S.-raised Smithfield pork, and the company developed an e-commerce portal in 2017 that sells Smithfield products.

In the wake of these developments, Smithfield’s pork exports to China exploded from roughly 83,000 tons in 2018 to approximately 335,000 tons in 2020, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data obtained by the DCNF.

Click here to view S&P Global Market Intelligence infographic U.S. Exports of Pork Linked to Smithfield (tons)

“There was an unusual increase in sales of entire swine carcasses to China during 2019,” according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service report. “This increase reflects the retooling of at least one U.S. Smithfield Foods plant to produce carcasses for shipment to a plant in China that had excess processing capacity due to the shortage of hogs in the country.”

Shuanghui “used excess capacity in its Chinese plant to make processed products from the carcasses,” the report added.

Between 2015 and 2020, 80% of Shuanghui’s imported meat came from Smithfield, Chinese state-run media outlet The Paper reported. Shuanghui characterized Smithfield as its “primary” pork supplier that same year.

Since then, Smithfield has continued to export hundreds of thousands of tons of pork to China. S&P Global Market Intelligence’s data shows Smithfield sent 242,672 tons of pork to China in 2021 and 124,886 tons in 2022. Smithfield exports to China hit 101,791 tons in 2023, the data shows.

A November 2023 financial briefing published by Chinese state-run firm Guosen Securities, which used data from compliance reports, forecast that Shuanghui will continue to rely on Smithfield pork imports for the foreseeable future.

“Shuanghui Development’s meat product offerings are expected to rely on the importation of Smithfield Foods’ Western products, and the synergy of the two large platforms will increasingly arise,” Guosen Securities reported.

‘My Love Spills Into Every Army Base’

While Smithfield has been sending pork to Shuanghui, the Henan-based company was supplying the PLA, according to corporate records seen by the DCNF. In fact, Shuanghui’s relationship with the PLA predates WH Group’s acquisition of Smithfield.

In 2008, the Chinese government proposed that large enterprises assist in creating provincial military stockpiles for various goods like food at so-called “mobilization centers,” and, shortly thereafter, Shuanghui officials applied for the firm to establish a “Non-Staple Foods Mobilization Center,” according to a PLA Daily article that was reposted by Chinese news outlet Sina.

The PLA first called upon Shuanghui’s mobilization center in June 2009 while it was still under construction, asking for assistance in delivering 10 types of foods to Chinese soldiers approximately 125 miles away, PLA Daily reported.

Shuanghui’s mobilization center “integrates the military with the civilian” and “blends peacetime and wartime” in order to “guarantee an emergency response,” according to an archived December 2009 company news release.

That same month, Shuanghui head Wan Long, who also heads WH Group, presided over the opening ceremony of the firm’s mobilization center, which several high-ranking Chinese military personnel attended, according to the archived post.

By 2015, the mobilization center reportedly employed more than 2,200 veterans. These veterans routinely simulate emergency situations, such as delivering food goods to front-line positions in wartime, according to state-run China News.

Shuanghui President Ma Xiangjie, who sits on WH Group’s board and is a CCP member, serves as the mobilization center’s director, according to a company announcement from December 2022. In that same announcement, the company touted that the PLA had named Ma Xiangjie as one of Henan’s “Top 10 Military Supporters.”

Company and Chinese military records reviewed by the DCNF indicate that PLA officers have inspected Shuanghui’s mobilization center multiple times in recent years. During a December 2021 inspection, PLA officers presented Ma Xiangjie with a ceremonial banner that read: “My heart is bound to the Great Wall of steel, my love spills into every army base.”

A December 2022 Shuanghui announcement states the company’s mobilization center had at some point prior “successfully developed an ABC set meal series of military rations.” The U.S. Army describes A-rations as “perishable foods,” B-rations as “nonperishable foods” and C-rations as a “balanced meal in a can.”

Wan Long and Ma Xiangjie did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

‘Food Security’

Chinese social media posts show Shuanghui has on multiple occasions distributed pork from its mobilization center to Chinese military personnel.

In February 2020, for instance, Shuanghui announced it had donated meat to the PLA as well as Wuhan military medical staff working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shuanghui’s announcement featured photographs of the firm’s truck delivering boxes of pork sausages to PLA soldiers.

Smithfield exported at least 335,411 tons of pork to China in 2020, S&P data shows.

Chinese government documents show that Smithfield was sending pork directly to Shuanghui during the pandemic. China’s General Administration of Customs reporting it had rejected approximately 27 tons of Smithfield “frozen bone-in pork” sent to a Shuanghui subsidiary sometime before August 2020, citing an issue with the shipment’s certificate of goods.

Shuanghui has also bragged about donating medical supplies to the PLA during the pandemic.

In fact, People’s Daily, which is the CCP’s official media arm, reported in February 2020 that Shuanghui had launched a global campaign to procure medical supplies for the Chinese military. China’s State Council supported Shuanghui by helping medical supplies obtained abroad pass smoothly through customs, People’s Daily reported.

“In the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, WH Group’s subsidiary Shuanghui Development purchased anti-epidemic materials, including protective clothing, isolation gowns, masks and goggles overseas to support front-line medical staff in Hubei Province,” reads an English-language version of an April 2020 WH Group release. “Shuanghui also donated living materials and epidemic prevention materials to military medical workers at Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital through the Luohe military sub-district.”

Moreover, the People’s Daily article also features a photo of a Smithfield truck outside a warehouse with a caption reading “overseas procurement” and credits Shuanghui for the picture.

Other images show what appears to be a Caucasian man moving rectangular boxes purportedly full of medical supplies with a forklift and a UPS plane on a tarmac beside pallets of boxes. Another photo appears to show workers and delivery trucks at Shuanghui’s headquarters preparing to deliver supplies to the Chinese military, as reported in a Shuanghui corporate release less than a week later.

“The Chinese Communist Party is increasingly focused on acquiring, illicitly or otherwise, agricultural technologies and supply chains,” Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, chair of the House Select Committee on the CCP, told the DCNF. “We must strengthen our food security before it is too late.”

‘Chinese Communist Control’

Shuanghui also apparently agreed to supply a Chinese state-owned defense firm with Smithfield products, according to a 2022 Shuanghui Chinese social media post to which the company’s website also links.

During a November 2022 conference in Guangdong province, Shuanghui signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to manufacture customized products in order to “support the rapid development of China’s aviation industry,” according to a company social media post.

Photos from the November 2022 event appear to show Smithfield bacon alongside other Shuanghui products involved in the defense contractor deal. The U.S. government sanctioned AVIC in 2021 “for operating or having operated in the defense and related materiel sector of the economy of the PRC.”

“People are just now starting to understand the consequences of the naïve policymaking that dominated Washington for the past couple decades,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told the DCNF. “Chinese communist control of American businesses is a challenge we have to confront before a crisis.”

AUTHOR

PHILIP LENCZYCKI

Daily Caller News Foundation investigative reporter, political journalist, and China watcher. Twitter: @LenczyckiPhilip

RELATED ARTICLE: EXCLUSIVE: Leadership Of Major US Landowner Chock-Full ‘Of Chinese Communist Party Members

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.


All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Illegal Immigrants Continue to Commit Violent Crimes as Sanctuary Cities Reassess Policies thumbnail

Illegal Immigrants Continue to Commit Violent Crimes as Sanctuary Cities Reassess Policies

By Family Research Council

Violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants continue to rise throughout the country, resulting in American citizens being attacked, raped, and murdered. Experts are noting that these are the same migrants who receive taxpayer-funded health care, housing, education, food, and more.

The most high-profile story making news is last week’s murder of 22-year-old Laken Riley. She was a young nursing student at Augusta University who never returned from her jog Thursday morning because she was brutally murdered by who police believe to be a man named Jose Antonio Ibarra, who is also an illegal immigrant.

Not only does Ibarra have a criminal record in the U.S. since arriving illegally, but his brother does as well. Ibarra has been charged with theft, child endangerment, and murder, among other crimes. And his brother, Diego Ibarra, along with stealing, was recently caught giving police a fake green card with two different birth dates on it. This happened after he was stopped by police for driving while drinking beer — which the migrant told the officer was his seventh since he’d been behind the wheel.

On Monday, police in Maryland charged Nilson Trejo-Granados, one of five suspects, for the first and second-degree murder of two-year-old Jeremy Poou Caceres. Before being arrested for murder, Trejo-Granados was charged with theft in March 2023.

On February 20, Angel Matias Castellanos-Orellana allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl at knifepoint, and on February 25, he repeatedly stabbed a man in the face and back, demanding the man give him his property. According to The Post Millennial, “He was arrested and booked on armed robbery, aggravated battery, first-degree rape, and aggravated assault and a federal ‘ICE’ detainer was also issued for him.”

In addition, last month a group of alleged illegal immigrants viciously attacked New York City police officers in Times Square. As crimes committed by illegal immigrants skyrocket, some sanctuary cities are starting to reassess their policies. In fact, it was this beating in NYC that caused Mayor Eric Adams (D) to say during a townhall meeting, “Those who are committing crimes, we need to modify the sanctuary city law. If you commit a felony, a violent act, we should be able to turn you over to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ICE and have you deported.”

And the Big Apple isn’t the only city backtracking. According to The Daily Wire, “The city council of Aurora, which sits just east of Denver, approved a resolution in a 7-3 vote on Monday demanding that large groups of migrants not be transported there since it is unable to fund new services for migrants or homeless people.”

In addition to a call to “secure our nation’s border,” the resolution said: “The City Council affirms remaining a Non-Sanctuary City and asserts the City does not currently have the financial capacity to fund new services related to this crisis and demands that other municipalities and entities do not systematically transport migrants or people experiencing homelessness to the City.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said on “Washington Watch” Wednesday that these harsh and dangerous circumstances only highlight “the damage inflicted by the Left’s public policy decisions [and] their open borders.” Congressman Rich McCormick (R-Ga.), who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, agreed, noting that these policies have allowed “some nefarious people … across the border.”

McCormick pointed out that Venezuela currently has a record low crime rate. “Why do you think it is?” he asked. It’s because Venezuela is “getting rid of their criminals” by sending them to the U.S. through the open border, he said. “Bad people are crossing the border. … We have record numbers of deaths from fentanyl. We have record amount of child trafficking, rape, [and] murder. … I’ve been talking about it for years. This is a significant problem.”

He added, “If you’re coming to this country and committing crimes, and then you continue to commit crimes and have been released, what are we doing?” A major issue facing America, McCormick shared, is that these illegal immigrants and violent criminals are being released as if they’re “regular citizens.” But “they’re not,” he said. “They’re here illegally. … This should be an ICE issue,” because when an illegal immigrant gets arrested, “they get sent back to their country. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the law. Imagine following the law.”

Perkins noted that the Left is notorious for also making claims that we shouldn’t “politicize the murder of a 22-year-old student” like Laken Riley by connecting it to illegal immigration. But, he wondered, “How else do we look at this? This is their policies. This is the outcome that we’re seeing from their open border policies. How else can you look at it?”

“There’s so many ramifications for lawlessness that we’ve allowed to take place at our southern border,” Perkins stated. And that will only end, McCormick concluded, if we continue to “fight the good fight.”

AUTHOR

Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

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POSTS ON X:

President Trump: “Joe Biden is the most incompetent president we’ve ever had… He is a true threat to democracy because he’s weaponized the FBI and the DOJ to go get his political opponent and many other people.” pic.twitter.com/gt9XE4niao

— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) March 1, 2024

President Biden transferred more than $500 million that was earmarked for COVID relief into the pockets of illegal immigrants. This is outrageous. Read more:https://t.co/OUaQw7ynZZ

— Jay Sekulow (@JaySekulow) March 1, 2024

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Another weapon of mass destruction: Central Bank Digital Currency thumbnail

Another weapon of mass destruction: Central Bank Digital Currency

By Cherie Zaslawsky

Liberty Counsel has launched a petition to pressure Congress to prevent the CBCD trainwreck by passing two all-important bills: H.R. 1122, and Senate Bill 887.

Liberty Counsel continues to fight the good fight.

Those interested can sign their petition or send faxes to pressure Congress to stop the planned Central Bank Digital Currency that would make cash obsolete, and bind us to a Social Credit score system as in Communist China.

Here’s what Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver has to say:

“A CBDC in the hands of government spells doom for American liberty. Suddenly, politicians and government agents won’t simply “suggest” you follow their increasingly bizarre policies like replacing beef with bug protein or buying electric cars whose batteries poison the earth. With a CBDC, the government will be able to dictate these decisions by preventing you from using your own money to buy a steak or a tank of gas.”

“Americans have already experienced tyranny firsthand, thanks to COVID lockdowns and the planned destruction of the U.S. economy. We MUST NOT allow them to take the next step in financially enslaving Americans to their bizarre progressive policies.”

Liberty Counsel is working with several legislators to stop Joe Biden’s CBDC plans in their tracks.

Link below:

We need YOUR HELP to compel Congress to pass the CBDC Anti-Surveillance Act (HR 1122 and S 887). Please, fax Congress NOW to protect YOUR financial future.

©2023. Cherie Zaslawsky. All rights reserved.

Please follow Cherie on her Substack: https://cheriezaslawsky.substack.com/

‘Another Day, Another Regulation’: DOE Continues War On Appliances, Locks In Regs For Clothes Washers And Dryers thumbnail

‘Another Day, Another Regulation’: DOE Continues War On Appliances, Locks In Regs For Clothes Washers And Dryers

By The Daily Caller

The Biden administration finalized regulations for residential clothes washers and dryers on Thursday.

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it is locking in the “energy efficiency” regulations for residential clothes washers and dryers, marking the latest development in the Biden administration’s wide effort to shape markets to decidedly favor more energy efficient appliances in the coming years. The agency stated that the rules will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save consumers money on their water and electricity bills over the course of many years.

“For decades, DOE’s appliance standards actions for clothes washers and dryers have provided loads of savings for American families while also decreasing harmful carbon emissions,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said of the finalized regulations. Her agency contends that the rules could save Americans as much as $39 billion on their energy and water bills, while also reducing about 71 million metric tons worth of carbon dioxide emissions over the next three decades.

REPORTER:

“We’ve seen them go after gas stoves…how many more home appliances will Americans eventually have to replace?” pic.twitter.com/JgjQyiPGK0

— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) July 24, 2023

The regulations increase the minimum water and energy efficiency levels that washers and dryers must meet down the road in order to remain on shelves. In many cases, more energy efficient units do not work as effectively or quickly as older and less efficient models, O.H. Skinner, the executive director of the Alliance for Consumers, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Another day, another regulation from the Biden administration to remove products from the shelves and limit what people can buy in the name of their ideological goals. At this point, consumers have gotten the message: if it moves or has a motor and it is in your house, Biden would like it to cost more and probably be less effective,” Skinner told the DCNF. “Their primary rationale is that it will cost you less in the electricity bill, but don’t worry, in places like California, politicians are busy trying to drive up electricity bills, too.”

In a January opinion relating to a separate legal battle over DOE appliance energy efficiency rules for dishwashers and clothes washers, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals notably pointed out that some appliances favored by Biden administration policy “make Americans use more energy and more water for the simple reason that purportedly ‘energy efficient’ appliances do not work.”

Beyond clothes washers and dryers, the Biden DOE has also promulgated energy efficiency regulations for common household appliances like dishwashers, water heatersfurnaces and pool pump motors. The administration has also spent hundreds of millions of dollars on helping state and municipal governments pursue building codes that phase out natural gas infrastructure and favor electrification.

The DOE did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

AUTHOR

NICK POPE

Contributor.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.


All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Are Policymakers Oblivious to the Importance of Crude Oil, or Are They Intentionally Sending Us Back to the 18th Century? thumbnail

Are Policymakers Oblivious to the Importance of Crude Oil, or Are They Intentionally Sending Us Back to the 18th Century?

By Ronald Stein

The elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss is that crude oil is the foundation of our materialistic society as it is the basis of all products and fuels demanded by the 8 billion on this planet.

World leaders are not cognizant enough to know that wind turbines and solar panels only generate occasional electricity but manufacture no products for society and have no plans for the replacement of the supply chain of products and fuels now manufactured from fossil fuels, which are the basis on every infrastructure segment that are supporting the 8 billion on this planet!

Over the last 200 years, and the world has populated from 1 to 8 billion, we learned that crude oil is virtually useless, unless it’s manufactured (refineries) into oil derivatives that are the basis of more than 6,000 products in our daily lives that did not exist before the 1800’s, and the fuels for the 20,000 commercial aircraft, and more than  50,000 military aircraft in the world and the 50,000 merchant ships and the military and space programs, hospitals, communications, electronics, and mining for industrial and precious metals.

Of the three fossil fuels of coal, natural gas, and crude oil, most government officials and policymakers are unaware that the use of coal and natural gas are mainly for the generation of electricity. The third fossil fuel, crude oil, is virtually never used for the generation of electricity but is the basis of more than 6,000 products that did not exist 200 years ago.

But wait, Life without oil is NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU MAY THINK as breezes and sunshine can only generate intermittent electricity, and NEITHER wind turbines, nor solar panels, can manufacture anything for society.

The pre-1800’s set the stage for the fantastic growth after mankind’s discovery of crude oil:

  • Life longevity was around forty years of age and people seldom travelled more than one hundred miles from where they were born.
  • The world population was about one billion people.
  • No electricity, as all generation of electricity is only possible with the parts made from the oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil for continuous and uninterruptible electricity being generated from coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydroelectric power plants, and occasionally generated electricity from weather dependent wind turbines and solar panels.
  • The following infrastructures were not around a few short centuries ago, because they all need components and parts that were NOT available in the pre-1800’s.
    • Transportation
    • Hospitals
    • Medical equipment
    • Appliances
    • Electronics
    • Telecommunications
    • Communications systems
    • Space programs
    • Heating and ventilating
    • Military

Without Crude Oil there can be no Electricity! Today’s electrical generation from hydro, coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, and solar are ALL based on the products, components, and equipment that are made from the oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil.

As technologies advance for more reduced carbon electricity generation and use, there will be more requirements for critical minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt, and rare earth elements that are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing electricity technologies – from wind turbines and electricity networks to electric vehicles. Demand for these minerals is growing quickly as electricity transitions gather pace. All those exotic minerals and metals only produce electricity, as they CANNOT make any PRODUCTS used in today’s economy.

Most government officials and policymakers are unaware that ALL electricity came AFTER the discovery of oil, starting with the light bulb made from oil. All electrical generation from hydro, coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, and solar are ALL based on the products, components, and equipment that are made with PRODUCTS made from the oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil.

Today, a few centuries after the discovery of crude oil:

  • Everything that needs electricity, and every infrastructure, are made from products based on the oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil, from the light bulb to the iPhone, defibrillator, and all the parts of EV’s, toilets, and spacecraft.
  • Weather related fatalities have virtually disappeared with all the products and medications available today that were not available a few centuries ago.

Looking back at the history of the petroleum industry, it illustrates that the black cruddy looking crude oil was virtually useless, unless it could be manufactured (refineries) into oil derivatives that are now the basis of chemical products, such as plastics, solvents, and medications, that are essential for supporting modern lifestyles. The more than 6,000 products  that are based on oil are being used for the health and well-being of humanity and the generation of electricity did not exist a few short centuries ago.

Almost never discussed is how to maintain the supply chain of cost-effective PRODUCTS that are essential to human flourishing.

Energy literacy starts with the knowledge that crude oil is the basis of our materialistic societyConversations are needed to discuss the difference between just “ELECTRICITY” from renewables, and the “PRODUCTS” that are the basis of society’s materialistic world. Wind turbines and solar panels are themselves MADE from oil derivatives, and only generate occasional electricity but manufacture NOTHING for society.

World leaders continue to have little comprehension that ridding the world of oil, without a replacement in mind, would be immoral and evil, as extreme shortages of the products now manufactured from fossil fuels will result in billions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition, and weather-related deaths, and could be the greatest threat to the world’s eight billion population.

World leaders continue experiencing a “dangerous delusion” of a global transition to “just electricity” that they believe will eliminate the use of the crude oil that made society achieve so much in a few centuries. Without those products made from petrochemicals manufactured from crude oil, the policymakers must be imagining NO jets, ships, defense, or space programs in our future!

How dare the ruling class, powerful elite, and media, avoid energy literacy conversations about the “Elephant in the Room”, as the end of crude oil that is manufactured into all the products and transportation fuels that built the world to eight billion people, would be the end of civilization as “unreliable electricity” from breezes and sunshine cannot manufacture anything.

Until a crude oil replacement is identified, the world needs a back-up plan that replaces crude oil that will support the manufacturing of the products demanded by the 8 billion of our materialistic society.

Please share this information with your friends to further enhance conversations about Energy Literacy as Breezes and Sunshine cannot manufacture anything. Electricity CANNOT exist without crude oil !

*****

This article was published by The Heartland Institute and is reproduced with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Smartfood Gets Dumb: Bud Lights Itself With “LGBTQ” GLAAD Bag thumbnail

Smartfood Gets Dumb: Bud Lights Itself With “LGBTQ” GLAAD Bag

By Selwyn Duke

Move over, Bud Light and Dylan Mulvaney. There’s a new brand in town finding woke ways to reduce its market share.

I learned this shopping in a local supermarket Wednesday, when I noticed a rack with unusually colorful bags of Smartfood popcorn. Since the brand has been introducing new varieties in recent years, this wasn’t surprising. What did raise my eyebrows was that the bags were a sexual devolutionary special edition roll-out for, it seems, Valentine’s Day, but were still around. (Is it too much to hope it’s because they’re not selling well?)

Much like Dylan Mulvaney, the bags are brazen and “in your face,” unabashedly advertising a partnership the brand now has with GLAAD. Originally formed in 1985 and then known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, GLAAD has now expanded its sexual devolutionary horizons and pushes the MUSS (Made-up Sexual Status, aka “transgender”) agenda along with its original obsessions. In other words, this group is as toxically left-wing as they come.

This doesn’t stop Smartfood Stupidfood from boldly proclaiming on its bags, “Smartfood & GLAAD, together for love.” (Pro tip for the company: You spelled “lust” wrong.) A picture of the bag is embedded in my tweet below.

In a local supermarket yesterday, I saw that Smartfood was involved in a partnership with radical left-wing “LGBTQ” group GLAAD. It looks as if it has become Stupidfood and wants to Bud Light itself. Well, it’ll get no more money from me. Here is the promotional bag: pic.twitter.com/gduRGuh7K5

— SL Duke (@SelwynLDuke) February 29, 2024

After a bit of research, I learned that Stupidfood actually forged this partnership in 2022. I don’t know if it received much press back then, but I don’t remember hearing about it. Regardless, it’s amazing that a company will wade into a divisive, bruising culture-war battle by making common cause with one of the high-profile combatants. Have any of its executives ever heard of Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People?

Note again, too, that GLAAD is absolutely on the cutting edge of societal devolution; it’s a danger to all of us, including, of course, kids. Consider how it boasts about its MUSS advocacy, which it indicates goes back to 1998. In its media guide, it issues instructions such as “Always use a transgender person’s chosen name” and “Ask for the pronoun a person uses, and use it” (know here that there are recently invented pronouns such as “ze” and “zir.” Also know that people don’t have pronouns — languages do.)

GLAAD is also all-in on having males masquerading as females participate in the latter’s sports. In other words, if it’s sexual and bad for society, GLAAD is all for it.

And Stupidfood is all for GLAAD. In an announcement of its support, it makes a “pledge to donate $150,000 to LGBTQ+ initiatives.” This is chump change for the brand, of course, especially considering that it has long been owned by Frito-Lay, itself a subsidiary of PepsiCo. But it may lose far more than that in sales if its radical GLAAD association gets enough exposure.

I say “may” because I realize its market isn’t identical to what, for example, Bud Light’s was. Bud Light’s sales have collapsed, as it isn’t subject to a boycott, but a walkaway. It may never recover.

Whatever the outcome with Stupidfood, it certainly deserves the same fate. What are these executives thinking? Is the GLAAD alliance the result of “woke capital,” of entities such as Blackrock and its CEO, Larry Fink, pressuring the company into embracing politically correct policies? Is it a function of younger Millennials entering corporate America with their woke-academia priorities? Is it both?

Perhaps Stupidfood perceives that our culture has long been drifting “left” (i.e., toward moral disorder) and is merely betting on the future. This would, though, risk losing the present.

Regardless, for sure is that they’ve lost my business. I did like their overpriced popcorn, though I’d only buy it on sale. But now I wouldn’t take it for free. They can join with the cultural devolutionaries if they want, but they won’t be doing it with my money. I’m out.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on MeWe or Gettr or log on to SelwynDuke.com

©2024. Selwyn Duke. All rights reserved.

Texas AG Sues Pornhub for Failing to Verify Age of Users thumbnail

Texas AG Sues Pornhub for Failing to Verify Age of Users

By Family Research Council

Texas’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against pornographic website Pornhub for failing to obey state law requiring pornography websites to confirm the age of users before granting access to their sites. Experts welcomed the news as a step toward protecting minors from sexual exploitation.

Last year, Texas enacted House Bill 1181 into law, which requires pornography sites to verify that a user is 18 or older before allowing access to the site. The lawsuit against Pornhub, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), alleges that Aylo Global Entertainment, the parent company of Pornhub, is liable for up to $1.6 million “plus $10,000 a day from September of last year to the date of the lawsuit.”

“Instead of abiding by Texas law requiring purveyors of obscene sexual material to institute age verification systems, the company immediately presents minors who access their websites with pornographic content,” Paxton stated in a press release. “I look forward to holding any company accountable that violates our age verification laws intended to prevent minors from being exposed to harmful, obscene material on the internet.”

Texas is one of eight states to enact laws requiring porn sites to verify the age of their users in recent years. The other states with age verification laws include Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

Pornhub, one of the most visited porn sites in the world, has been embroiled in a series of lawsuits in recent years. Two class action lawsuits have been certified against the company for profiting from child sexual abuse material and sex trafficking. Pornhub is also the target of a lawsuit on behalf of nine women who were secretly filmed while changing in a locker room in which the footage ended up on the site. As of 2023, Pornhub is the defendant in at least 10 lawsuits involving 256 alleged victims.

In a 2020 New York Times exposé, columnist Nicholas Kristof described how Pornhub is “infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags.”

In comments to The Washington Stand, Benjamin Bull, general counsel at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, confirmed Pornhub’s penchant for allowing illegal material to fester on the site for monetary gain.

“From our own litigation and investigation, Pornhub is a criminal sex trafficking enterprise pretending to be a legitimate business,” he remarked. “It’s about time state law enforcement required them to comply with a common-sense law that protects children from sexual abuse and harm.”

Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council, expressed hope that Texas’s lawsuit will cause the pornographic site to reconsider its exploitive practices.

“Pornhub doesn’t take the exploitation of anyone seriously,” she told TWS. “They don’t care about the women and men whose lives are ruined when they are trafficked and forced to create pornography. They don’t care about the men and women whose brains are literally deteriorating because of pornography addiction. They don’t care about the relationships and marriages ruined because of pornography. And they don’t care about children who will be caught up in pornography addiction and never able to live freely because of it. All Pornhub cares about is increasing profits and spreading their evil filth everywhere. So maybe, Pornhub will care about the over $3.5 million they will owe the people of Texas.”

Szoch continued, “AG Paxton and the people of Texas should be commended for holding Pornhub accountable, and they should continue going after Pornhub until it is completely shut down. There is nothing good about pornography. Nine out of 10 boys and six out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography before the age of 18. This evil drug robs people of their ability to love. It must be stopped.”

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Bill Allowing Cheaper Blends Of Gasoline Passes Arizona Senate

By Cameron Arcand

Editors Note: If you travel much by car, you likely have noticed that gasoline is often cheaper in rural communities, in New Mexico, and Colorado.  That is because “special blends” are required for urban areas in Arizona. This is strange because Denver is a large metropolitan area situated in a bowl surrounded by mountains, and subject to air pollution just like Phoenix. So is Salt Lake City. Yet, their gasoline is often a dollar cheaper per gallon. In markets, there is the function of arbitrage. Buy in a cheaper market and sell in a more expensive market and thereby equilibrate prices.  There may be freight costs in the equation as well. You know markets are not functioning when arbitrage is not permitted. Often, this is caused by a lack of fungibility, that is to say, gas is “blended” differently in one locale than in another. Whatever the merits of the “blending” process, it should be evident that standardization will end the fungibility issue and allow arbitrage to function in markets. There is no rational reason for gasoline in Phoenix to be so much more expensive than elsewhere.  Gouging the middle and lower classes on fuel should be left to California where is it a practiced art.

A bill aimed at lowering gas prices by allowing more types of gasoline to be sold in Arizona passed the Arizona State Senate on Thursday.

In Maricopa County, environmental regulations allow for only two blends of gas to be sold to consumers, one winter blend and one summer blend, referred to as Cleaner Burning Gasoline, according to a news release.

Senate Bill 1064 passed along party lines, but Democratic Sen. Catherine Miranda voted in favor, making the final tally 17-11-2.

“From gasoline to groceries, electricity, housing, and every other basic necessity, Arizonans are paying thousands of dollars more per year to maintain the same quality of life they had just before Joe Biden took office. While we can’t prevent his implementation of the reckless policies that are hurting hardworking families, senior citizens, and young adults, we can help Arizonans keep more of their hard-earned dollars through commonsense solutions like SB 1064,” Sen. Justine Wadsack said in a statement following the bill’s passage.

“I’m hopeful this legislation will be signed into law because it is the right move to make to improve the lives of our citizens,” she continued.

Democratic Sen. Priya Sundareshan raised concerns about the effectiveness of lowering costs, as well as concerns about air quality regulation compliance.

“To try to pass a statute that mandates the allowance of these blends without having conducted that testing and modeling ahead of time is putting a cart before the horse,” she said in the explanation of her vote against the bill.

Gas prices may be lower in the winter than in the summer because of the blend used, as well as various other factors impacting energy costs. In 2023, gas prices went upwards of $5 in some parts of Arizona, according to the Arizona Republic.

The Center Square reported in December that the legislation would also give the Senate President and House Speaker the ability to apply for a waiver with the Environmental Protection Agency when refineries are circumstantially requesting fewer regulations. In June, an effort by some refineries to get more blends allowed by the EPA failed, Arizona’s Family reported. 

*****

This article was published by The Center Square and is reproduced with permission.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

New York Times ‘Journalist’ Accused of Participating In Oct. 7th Hamas Attacks Wins Journalism Award thumbnail

New York Times ‘Journalist’ Accused of Participating In Oct. 7th Hamas Attacks Wins Journalism Award

By The Geller Report

The New York Times proudly announced last Monday that it had “won three George Polk awards, including two for its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.” Those prestigious journalism awards went to “Samar Abu Elouf and Yousef Masoud of The Times” for “photojournalism for their photographs of the conflict from inside Gaza, capturing the horrific toll of Israel’s airstrikes on civilians, including the death and injury of many children.” The Times neglected to mention, however, one telling detail: Masoud has been unmasked as a member of Hamas who participated in the Oct. 7 jihad massacres inside Israel.

The Paper of Record shows no sign of firing Masoud or returning the George Polk award he won, but the Jerusalem Post had the story on Thursday, noting that the media watchdog Honest Reporting had “highlighted his accreditation to a photo provided to the Associated Press, with the caption, ‘Palestinians wave their national flag and celebrate by a destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fence east of Khan Younis southern Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023.’ How had Masoud gotten on the scene so quickly, so as to be in a position to take this picture? Honest Reporting “questioned Masoud’s explanation of his presence that he’d been woken up at 5.30 a.m. by rocket fire even though the firing only started an hour later.”

What’s more, “Masoud’s name was included in an investigative report from November showing that journalists from leading news outlets, including The New York Times, AP, Reuters, and CNN, joined Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip on October 7 to document the events with their cameras.” The New York Times responded indignantly: “The accusation that anyone at The New York Times had advance knowledge of the Hamas attacks or accompanied Hamas terrorists during the attacks is untrue and outrageous. It is reckless to make such allegations, putting our journalists on the ground in Israel and Gaza at risk.”

Honest Reporting, however, said that claims it had “jeopardized the safety of all media working in Israel and the Palestinian territories” were nothing more than “a deliberate attempt to deflect from the real issues we raised.” And that’s true. Why doesn’t Masoud explain how he came to be on the scene of a Hamas operation on the morning of Oct. 7, and why he stated that he was awakened by rocket fire an hour before the rocket fire started?

After all, there is nothing remotely implausible about the idea of a New York Times “journalist” being a Hamas operative. Honest Reporting pointed out the Times’ “backing of a decision to rehire Gazan freelance filmmaker Soliman Hijjy despite HonestReporting previously revealing how he had praised Hitler on social media.” What’s more, the Times and the rest of the establishment media have for years been consistently anti-Israel, and have worked assiduously to whitewash the bloody reality of Islamic jihad. Why would the Times, or any other establishment propaganda arm, hesitate to hire a supporter of Hamas and fanatical hater of Israel and Jews? Media observer Hugh Fitzgerald states that “save for a single columnist — Bret Stephens — the New York Times has no one on its staff, among its hundreds of reporters, columnists, and op/ed contributors, who could be described as willing to give Israel a fair shake.”

We have just recently discovered how closely the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) collaborated with Hamas, allowing the jihadis to operate on UNRWA premises, employing Hamas operatives, and teaching hatred of Jews and Israel in its textbooks for Palestinian schools. If this could happen before the eyes of a watching world, what would possibly prevent a “journalist” from a deeply biased and essentially pro-Hamas outlet from going whole hog with his support for the jihad terror outfit?

The New York Times has a great deal to answer for, far beyond Yousef Masoud. Masoud may indeed have been a Hamas jihadi, in which case his George Polk award should be rescinded and the Times should not use him again. But the fact that none of that is likely to happen is in large part a result of the Times’ indefatigable efforts to make support for jihad violence respectable and mainstream. The Times should at this point perform a thoroughgoing soul-searching, and a wholesale reevaluation of its uncritical support for jihadis. But nothing is much less likely.

AUTHOR

Robert Spencer

RELATED ARTICLES:

Journalist Participated in Hamas massacre, Ecstatically Displayed Soldier’s ID Card, Helmet and Magazine

Yet Another Muslim Journalist Working for The New York Times Praises Hitler

WATCH: IDF hits top Hamas propagandists posing as ‘journalists’ in Gaza

POST ON X:

The operation in Zeytun continues: the soldiers of the 401st Brigade combat team eliminated over 30 terrorists in the last day; At the same time, the deepening of the activities of the 98th Division in the Khan Yunis area continues pic.twitter.com/92XwfueSEO

— Mossad Commentary (@MOSSADil) February 26, 2024

EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Mortgage Rates Rise Back to 7%, Housing Market Re-Freezes, Buyers’ Strike Continues. Prices Are Just Too High thumbnail

Mortgage Rates Rise Back to 7%, Housing Market Re-Freezes, Buyers’ Strike Continues. Prices Are Just Too High

By Wolf Richter

Inflation might not go back into the bottle voluntarily, and these mortgage rates – considered low in 1970-2000 – might stick around.

The average conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 7.0% in the latest week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association today. The daily measure by Mortgage News Daily has been over 7% for days. These are the highest rates since mid-December when they were on their way down.

Mortgage rates had been flirting with 8% back in October last year when the rate-cut mongers fanned out in droves all over the media. Amid enormous hoopla about a gazillion rate cuts in 2024, starting in January, longer-term yields plunged. Mortgage rates plunged with them, with the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate, as tracked by the MBA, falling as low as 6.75% in mid-January. And it was going to be the next boom in the housing market. And then inflation data came in and called for order.

Housing market still frozen.

That relatively small increase in mortgage rates caused mortgage applications to re-plunge – after they’d barely risen from the record lows going back to 1995 – a sign that the housing market remains frozen because prices are still too high, and potential sellers are still thinking that this too shall pass, and potential buyers have figured it out…..

*****

Continue reading this article at Wolf Street.

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Bogus ‘ESG’ Group Rates China’s Slave-Fueled Energy Firms Better Than U.S. Oil And Gas Companies thumbnail

Bogus ‘ESG’ Group Rates China’s Slave-Fueled Energy Firms Better Than U.S. Oil And Gas Companies

By Chuck Devore

Editors’ Note: Either by accident or design (your choice), the environmental movement and its subsidiary the ESG movement, always seems to tilt the scales towards benefiting China and hurting the US. Whether making us dependent on Chinese-dominated solar panels and windmills, weakening our electrical grid, willfully overlooking the massive use of coal in China, or ignoring Chinese depredations against human rights and the environment, China always seems to get a free pass while US companies are condemned and starved of capital. We tend to feel this tilt to the Chinese is deliberate. One reason to think so is that the CCP is actively involved in funding the environmental movement.

Investment support services firm MSCI’s corporate leadership should be ashamed of continuing to shill for China.

From June 28, 2022, to Feb. 8, 2024, two of China’s most well-known stock indices, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Index and Hong Kong’s Hang Sang Index, have lost 20 percent and 28 percent of their value, respectively. And this is after the Chinese Communist Party completed $278 billion in stock purchases to stem the recent rout.

There is a consensus among experts that China is in deep economic difficulty. Paramount leader Xi Jinping has centralized power and curbed capitalistic freedom in China. It’s difficult to know anything with certainty about the nation’s economic stagnation since China recently outlawed the release of corporate or economic information and stopped releasing basic economic reports.

Even so, there is one sector of the international financial analyst community that still confidently issues opinions on publicly traded Chinese stocks: the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings firms — to their everlasting shame and embarrassment.

warned about the false picture that ESG ratings provide regarding corporations in June 2022, by comparing a publicly traded American firm, a Texas-based oil and gas royalties company known as Brigham Minerals and, since a merger, now known as Sitio (NYSE:STR), with three Chinese stocks in the energy sector.

The Chinese securities — not stocks in the U.S. sense as they don’t provide legal ownership of the Chinese companies, which are merely vehicles for China to attract foreign capital — were Xinyi Solar Holdings (OTC: XISHY), China Resources Gas Group (OTC: CGASY), and China Coal Energy Company (OTC: CCOZF).

How Are These Chinese Firms Rated Now?

MSCI is an investment support services firm with $2.1 billion in revenue that provides ESG ratings of corporations. Even though China requires every firm with 50 or more employees operating in China to employ at least one Communist Party political commissar, true independent audits don’t happen, and information about a firm’s financial health can now be considered national security information, MSCI rates Chinese firms anyway.

In 2022, MSCI rated the three Chinese energy stocks higher than the U.S. energy stock, with Brigham scoring 2 out of 10 ESG points overall. This compared to China Coal Energy, a firm majority owned by the Chinese government, with an overall ESG rating of 3.1; China Resources Gas Group, a natural gas pipeline operator and a subsidiary of a state-owned company, with an ESG score of 6.3; and Xinyi Solar Holdings — a firm that uses slave labor in its supply chain — with an ESG score of 6.1.

With ESG getting pushback from Texas and other states’ pension funds, I wanted to check back in on whether MSCI still rated these Chinese firms highly.

ESG investing has become a big driver in steering capital to corporations deemed to be good stewards of subjective principles. By 2025, financial management firms that claim to invest with ESG principles are projected to account for $50 trillion of a total global value of $140.5 trillion — more than a third of managed investments.

American Depositary Receipts in Xinyi Solar Holdings have declined from $30.64 in June 2022 to $8.87 in February 2024; China Resources Gas Group last traded on Sept. 12, 2023, at $27.27, down from $58.93, and is no longer listed; and China Coal Energy Company last traded on Jan. 8, 2024.

MSCI continues to helpfully rate all three firms, making one wonder if a real person does the analytical work or an AI on loan from previously writing stories at Sports Illustrated. Xinyi’s ratings are up a bit overall, and China Gas is up a bit too. Only China coal has seen its ESG ratings dip, mostly due to the downgrade of corporate governance from 2.2 out of 10 to 0.9.

Meanwhile, Sitio Royalties, the U.S. firm that resulted from a merger between Brigham Minerals and Sitio Royalties in December 2022, has an ESG rating of 0 out of 10 for the environment, 2.8 out of 10 for social, and 6.8 out of 10 for governance. Thus, in 20 months, Sitio has seen its environmental rating decline to 0.0 from 0.8, its social rating decline from 3.5 to 2.8, and its governance rating increase slightly from 6.4 to 6.8 — meaning, Sitio’s overall rating has declined, while environmentally dirty, slave-labor using, Chinese Communist Party-controlled, and likely insolvent Chinese stocks have seen their composite ESG rating increase over the same span.

What an absolute crock. MSCI’s corporate leadership should be ashamed of continuing to shill for China even as Jinping breathes threats of war and bullies his neighbors. MSCI ESG scores are no more valid than the daily horoscope.

*****

This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

AT&T’s War on Landlines thumbnail

AT&T’s War on Landlines

By Cherie Zaslawsky

There’s a current movement to shut down landlines completely by “decommissioning” the copper wiring that enables this reliable form of communication. And this movement appears to be growing! Why? Perhaps because landlines work. And because the Powers that Be can’t monitor them and shut them off at will, as they can do with wifi and digital communication. Just a wild guess. You be the judge.

But it’s taking place in Britain and Australia as well as in America today. They plan to replace the copper service with either fiber or 5G. Sound good to you?

By the way, here’s an article from CNN, about a huge outage that happened today, February 22, 2024:

“AT&T’s network went down for many of its customers across the United States Thursday morning, leaving customers unable to place calls, text or access the internet.

By a little after 3 pm ET, roughly 11 hours after reports of the outage first emerged, the company said that it had restored service to all impacted customers.”

That’s 11 hours that people were left high and dry, without the ability to make or receive phone calls. This is why we need landlines, no matter what AT&T tells us, as it argues landlines, which are time-tested and never fail, are “antiquated.” I guess they mean like the Constitution, which is even older, and which Leftists also want to replace.

In California, AT&T is requesting that the CPUC—California Public Utilities Commission—allow it to end landline service permanently.

Fortunately, the public has the opportunity to weigh in with the CPUC, which has already received thousands of letters in support of maintaining landlines, which many people rely on.

AT&T’s power outage just this morning is proof positive that it must continue to maintain our landlines for our safety and security. They are far more reliable than WIFI, and there’s no legitimate reason to do away with them.

Here’s something else to consider: “This change may affect alarm systems, elevators, and call boxes reliant on landlines.”

Here’s the link to the CPUC’s website where you can read public comments, and if you live in California, you can use the link on that page to write your own comment prior to AT&T’s hearing.

So far, this one looks winnable!

©2024. Cherie Zaslawsky. All rights reserved.

Please visit: https://cheriezaslawsky.substack.com/

Mercedes-Benz Walks Back On Huge Electric Vehicle Commitment Amid Slowing Demand thumbnail

Mercedes-Benz Walks Back On Huge Electric Vehicle Commitment Amid Slowing Demand

By The Daily Caller

Mercedes-Benz on Thursday walked back plans to have an all-electric line-up by 2030 as consumers decline to adopt electric vehicles (EV) at the rate automakers expected.

The company has changed its expectations to have only 50% of its sales be EVs by 2030, announcing that it will be updating its current line-up featuring the internal combustion engine into the next decade, according to Mercedes-Benz in its fourth quarter report. EV sales grew 21% year-over-year in 2023, but total car sales remained relatively the same, bucking hopes that EVs would fuel growth as the automaker pushes electric models.

“It is almost like we will have a new lineup in 2027 that will take us well into the 2030s,” Ola Kaellenius, CEO of Mercedes, said following the report, according to Reuters. Kaellenius noted near the end of last year that even European markets, which are more likely to adopt EVs, might not be able to reach the 2030 all-electric goal due to consumer reservations about issues like lack of charging infrastructure and appealing models.

We just released our 2023 full year results.
For all details: https://t.co/K6Cne3C8GI#MercedesBenz pic.twitter.com/hM5NA9jW4U

— Mercedes-Benz (@MercedesBenz) February 22, 2024

The Biden administration has sought to ease charging concerns as the president pushes for an EV transition, allocating $7.5 billion for charging infrastructure. Despite the huge investment, lack of demand, regulations and union requirements have stalled construction, with only two charging stations having been built as of December 2023.

Mercedes-Benz also posted its fourth quarter results, with revenue declining a disappointing 1.8% year-over-year but up slightly by 2.1% comparing 2023 to 2022, according to a release from the company. Net profit was down 21.5% in the quarter year-over-year and 1.9% for 2023.

The company also announced a 3 billion euro stock buyback in an effort to boost its stock price, according to the fourth quarter report.

Other automakers have also had to cut EV goals, including Ford, which announced that it would be reducing production volume of its F-150 lighting as of January after losing a total of $4.7 billion on EVs in 2023. General Motors reported a $1.7 billion loss in the fourth quarter in the production and sale of its EV line, despite being profitable otherwise.

“Our overall goal remain unchanged: Our Ambition 2039,” Mercedes-Benz said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Thereby, the ambition is to make our entire fleet of new vehicles net carbon-neutral along the entire value chain and over the vehicles’ entire life cycle by 2039. Therefore, we continue to put our company in a position to go all electric.”

AUTHOR

WILL KESSLER

Contributor.

RELATED ARTICLE: Upscale Rideshare Platform Abandons Commitment To All-Electric Fleet After Missing Mark

POST ON X:

Joe Biden’s EV Mandate “Vision” For America Is In Full Collapse https://t.co/qFfBmZ4JRO

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) February 23, 2024

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.


All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Weekend Read – The Western Ruling Elite: Its Development and Its Betrayal thumbnail

Weekend Read – The Western Ruling Elite: Its Development and Its Betrayal

By Finn Andreen

The Western ruling elite has become oligarchic in nature; its political and economic influence is disproportionate and even harmful to society. It is necessary, therefore, to review its historical evolution and expose its current goals.

Firstly, it must be recognized that it is natural and necessary for society to have an elite. Murray Rothbard wrote about the ideal of “natural aristocrats” who “live in freedom and harmony with their fellows, and rise by exercising their individuality and their highest abilities in the service of their fellows, either in an organization or by producing efficiently for the consumers.”

A free society needs such “natural aristocrats” because they are its main drivers and inspirations. Major entrepreneurial initiatives are generally taken by those who are farsighted and motivated, willing to make more sacrifices and take more risks than the average person. The whole of society indirectly benefits from the initiatives of these people.

The problem, therefore, is not the existence of an elite per se, but the fact that it is no longer composed primarily of “natural aristocrats.” Today it is composed of what Rothbard called “artificial aristocrats”—“those who govern by means of coercion”; that is, with the help of the state. The “Machiavellian” thinkers were the first to describe this oligarchic elite in a systematic way; they referred to the “organized and ruling minority,” as opposed to the disorganized and controlled majority.

As Gaetano Mosca wrote in his work The Ruling Class, “Political power never has been, and never will be, founded upon the explicit consent of majorities. It always has been, and it always will be, exercised by organized minorities, which have had, and will have, the means, varying as the times vary, to impose their supremacy on the multitudes.”

Indeed, when it becomes oligarchic, the ruling minority uses coercion to influence political decisions and even social values, in its own economic and ideological interests. However, it is not all-powerful and omniscient; its power is never fully acquired, and it does not always exercise its influence very skillfully.

As elsewhere, Western societies have always had “organized minorities,” but these have evolved over time. The political power of this elite has constantly increased, together with the expansion of the state and the crony capitalism that it facilitates. To quote Mosca again, “To the extent that the state absorbs and distributes a greater part of public wealth, leaders of the ruling class have more means of arbitrary influence over their subordinates and more easily escape anyone’s control.”

It must not be assumed that the introduction of “democracy” has reduced the influence of this ruling minority on society, for this political system has inexorably been accompanied by a considerable development of state power. Indeed, even in a “liberal democracy,” the disorganized and generally uninformed majority has virtually no influence over, for instance, the foreign and monetary policies of their governments.

Three Phases of Development

It is possible to identify three phases in the evolution of the ruling minority. During the nineteenth century, this minority was quite close to the ideal natural elite described above. In the absence of strong states and supranational institutions, the ruling minorities (in plural), were thus initially more national than international in outlook, sought economic rather than political power, and were more industrially than financially oriented. In France, the Count de Saint-Simon wrote about the “industrialists,” whom he described in an open letter to King Louis XVIII as “the natural and permanent leaders of the people.”

These minorities naturally always thought of their own interests first (although they were also philanthropists). Nevertheless, the investments of these ruling minorities contributed greatly to the increase in prosperity enjoyed in the West during the “long” nineteenth century.

Their relationship with the rest of society was thus rather symbiotic, despite real tensions related to the social conditions of early industrialization. For example, until World War I, these ruling minorities were committed to deflation and free trade and maintained a certain level of monetary control via the gold standard.

The modern ruling minority then consolidated, with the development of financial capitalism in the late nineteenth century, around the growing and increasingly political power of “international bankers” and their extended families. The historian Carroll Quigley described them, the Rothschilds, the Morgans, the Rockefellers, and the others, thus:

These banking families remained different from ordinary bankers in distinctive ways: they were cosmopolitan and international; they were close to governments and were particularly concerned with questions of government debts; . . . they were almost equally devoted to secrecy and the secret use of financial influence in political life.

In this second phase, the Western ruling minority emerges, international, politicized, and mainly financially oriented. This description of the core of the Western ruling minority is still the same today, despite major changes in the financial system over the last half-century. Around this nucleus, of course, need to be counted political leaders and senior civil servants, as well as publishers and editors of mainstream media and the leaders of many Western multinational companies.

As mentioned, this politicization of the ruling minority is closely linked to the rapid expansion of the role of the state in society from the end of the nineteenth century, which first increased its control over production (state control over key industries), then over money (giving up the gold standard), then over consumption (introduction of price controls). As Albert Jay Nock wrote, “It is easier to seize wealth (from the producers) than to produce it; and as long as the State makes the seizure of wealth a matter of legalized privilege, so long will the squabble for that privilege go on.”

Phase 3: Messianic and Nefarious Globalism

With the Second World War and the rise of Keynesianism, monetary inflation—this artificial scourge upon the majority—became an important tool for the enrichment of the large banking institutions. With the financialization of the Western economies in the 1970s, the interests of the ruling minority began to clearly diverge from the interests of the “real” production-based economy in which the majority participates. The Western oligarchic elite then entered its third phase.

In recent decades, this Western ruling minority has become much more ambitious and aggressive than it once was. It is now fully imbued with an ideological mission, even a messianic one, to change the world. Return on investment and control of resources are no longer the only or even the most important objectives; the current ruling minority has a technocratic desire to shape societies, to control and direct their evolution. Indeed, its purpose today can be summed up in one word: control. It’s about controlling everything: people, finance, food, energy, health, and even nature.

This means weakening the nation-states by accelerating the transfer of national sovereignty to supranational authorities. In order to convince the majority that political globalism is the only hope for mankind, crises have been fabricated, and presented as insoluble at the level of the sovereign state. The three main crises created for this purpose are the climate “crisis,” the pandemic “crisis,” and the immigration “crisis.” The latter also serves to dilute ethnically homogeneous nations, and thus to diminish natural social and cultural resistance to political globalism.

The United Nations and the governmental institutions and nongovernmental organizations that orbit around it all play a key role. To name of few examples, the World Health Organization must be given the power to introduce a digital health tool that will allow the control of populations under pretexts of public health concerns. The European Union must impose obligations and restrictions on the behavior of European individuals and companies (see the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, the Digital Services Act, and the Green Deal). The introduction of digital currencies by central banks will allow the control of all individual economic transactions. The digital wallet will allow the introduction of a system of social credits, Chinese style.

All these initiatives are coordinated by the World Economic Forum and are progressive steps toward the goal of establishing a world government under the control of the Western ruling financial minority.

Opposing an Enemy of the People

These nefarious plans of the Western ruling minority obviously represent a significant threat to individual freedom on a global scale. Unfortunately, they have already been partially implemented. It is nothing less than a betrayal by the Western ruling minority of its own societies. The Western ruling minority has become over time an enemy of the people, which the majorities have no choice but to oppose.

It is mandatory to return to the situation that prevailed during part of the nineteenth century, when the Western ruling minority was mostly an economic elite. That is, the ruling minority should be composed essentially of Rothbard’s “natural aristocrats.”

When freedom is at such risk as it is today, these words of Ludwig von Mises come to mind: “Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. . . . Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.”

*****

This article was published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is reproduced with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

WEEKEND READ: The Western Ruling Elite: Its Development and Its Betrayal thumbnail

WEEKEND READ: The Western Ruling Elite: Its Development and Its Betrayal

By Finn Andreen

The Western ruling elite has become oligarchic in nature; its political and economic influence is disproportionate and even harmful to society. It is necessary, therefore, to review its historical evolution and expose its current goals.

Firstly, it must be recognized that it is natural and necessary for society to have an elite. Murray Rothbard wrote about the ideal of “natural aristocrats” who “live in freedom and harmony with their fellows, and rise by exercising their individuality and their highest abilities in the service of their fellows, either in an organization or by producing efficiently for the consumers.”

A free society needs such “natural aristocrats” because they are its main drivers and inspirations. Major entrepreneurial initiatives are generally taken by those who are farsighted and motivated, willing to make more sacrifices and take more risks than the average person. The whole of society indirectly benefits from the initiatives of these people.

The problem, therefore, is not the existence of an elite per se, but the fact that it is no longer composed primarily of “natural aristocrats.” Today it is composed of what Rothbard called “artificial aristocrats”—“those who govern by means of coercion”; that is, with the help of the state. The “Machiavellian” thinkers were the first to describe this oligarchic elite in a systematic way; they referred to the “organized and ruling minority,” as opposed to the disorganized and controlled majority.

As Gaetano Mosca wrote in his work The Ruling Class, “Political power never has been, and never will be, founded upon the explicit consent of majorities. It always has been, and it always will be, exercised by organized minorities, which have had, and will have, the means, varying as the times vary, to impose their supremacy on the multitudes.”

Indeed, when it becomes oligarchic, the ruling minority uses coercion to influence political decisions and even social values, in its own economic and ideological interests. However, it is not all-powerful and omniscient; its power is never fully acquired, and it does not always exercise its influence very skillfully.

As elsewhere, Western societies have always had “organized minorities,” but these have evolved over time. The political power of this elite has constantly increased, together with the expansion of the state and the crony capitalism that it facilitates. To quote Mosca again, “To the extent that the state absorbs and distributes a greater part of public wealth, leaders of the ruling class have more means of arbitrary influence over their subordinates and more easily escape anyone’s control.”

It must not be assumed that the introduction of “democracy” has reduced the influence of this ruling minority on society, for this political system has inexorably been accompanied by a considerable development of state power. Indeed, even in a “liberal democracy,” the disorganized and generally uninformed majority has virtually no influence over, for instance, the foreign and monetary policies of their governments.

Three Phases of Development

It is possible to identify three phases in the evolution of the ruling minority. During the nineteenth century, this minority was quite close to the ideal natural elite described above. In the absence of strong states and supranational institutions, the ruling minorities (in plural), were thus initially more national than international in outlook, sought economic rather than political power, and were more industrially than financially oriented. In France, the Count de Saint-Simon wrote about the “industrialists,” whom he described in an open letter to King Louis XVIII as “the natural and permanent leaders of the people.”

These minorities naturally always thought of their own interests first (although they were also philanthropists). Nevertheless, the investments of these ruling minorities contributed greatly to the increase in prosperity enjoyed in the West during the “long” nineteenth century.

Their relationship with the rest of society was thus rather symbiotic, despite real tensions related to the social conditions of early industrialization. For example, until World War I, these ruling minorities were committed to deflation and free trade and maintained a certain level of monetary control via the gold standard.

The modern ruling minority then consolidated, with the development of financial capitalism in the late nineteenth century, around the growing and increasingly political power of “international bankers” and their extended families. The historian Carroll Quigley described them, the Rothschilds, the Morgans, the Rockefellers, and the others, thus:

These banking families remained different from ordinary bankers in distinctive ways: they were cosmopolitan and international; they were close to governments and were particularly concerned with questions of government debts; . . . they were almost equally devoted to secrecy and the secret use of financial influence in political life.

In this second phase, the Western ruling minority emerges, international, politicized, and mainly financially oriented. This description of the core of the Western ruling minority is still the same today, despite major changes in the financial system over the last half-century. Around this nucleus, of course, need to be counted political leaders and senior civil servants, as well as publishers and editors of mainstream media and the leaders of many Western multinational companies.

As mentioned, this politicization of the ruling minority is closely linked to the rapid expansion of the role of the state in society from the end of the nineteenth century, which first increased its control over production (state control over key industries), then over money (giving up the gold standard), then over consumption (introduction of price controls). As Albert Jay Nock wrote, “It is easier to seize wealth (from the producers) than to produce it; and as long as the State makes the seizure of wealth a matter of legalized privilege, so long will the squabble for that privilege go on.”

Phase 3: Messianic and Nefarious Globalism

With the Second World War and the rise of Keynesianism, monetary inflation—this artificial scourge upon the majority—became an important tool for the enrichment of the large banking institutions. With the financialization of the Western economies in the 1970s, the interests of the ruling minority began to clearly diverge from the interests of the “real” production-based economy in which the majority participates. The Western oligarchic elite then entered its third phase.

In recent decades, this Western ruling minority has become much more ambitious and aggressive than it once was. It is now fully imbued with an ideological mission, even a messianic one, to change the world. Return on investment and control of resources are no longer the only or even the most important objectives; the current ruling minority has a technocratic desire to shape societies, to control and direct their evolution. Indeed, its purpose today can be summed up in one word: control. It’s about controlling everything: people, finance, food, energy, health, and even nature.

This means weakening the nation-states by accelerating the transfer of national sovereignty to supranational authorities. In order to convince the majority that political globalism is the only hope for mankind, crises have been fabricated, and presented as insoluble at the level of the sovereign state. The three main crises created for this purpose are the climate “crisis,” the pandemic “crisis,” and the immigration “crisis.” The latter also serves to dilute ethnically homogeneous nations, and thus to diminish natural social and cultural resistance to political globalism.

The United Nations and the governmental institutions and nongovernmental organizations that orbit around it all play a key role. To name of few examples, the World Health Organization must be given the power to introduce a digital health tool that will allow the control of populations under pretexts of public health concerns. The European Union must impose obligations and restrictions on the behavior of European individuals and companies (see the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, the Digital Services Act, and the Green Deal). The introduction of digital currencies by central banks will allow the control of all individual economic transactions. The digital wallet will allow the introduction of a system of social credits, Chinese style.

All these initiatives are coordinated by the World Economic Forum and are progressive steps toward the goal of establishing a world government under the control of the Western ruling financial minority.

Opposing an Enemy of the People

These nefarious plans of the Western ruling minority obviously represent a significant threat to individual freedom on a global scale. Unfortunately, they have already been partially implemented. It is nothing less than a betrayal by the Western ruling minority of its own societies. The Western ruling minority has become over time an enemy of the people, which the majorities have no choice but to oppose.

It is mandatory to return to the situation that prevailed during part of the nineteenth century, when the Western ruling minority was mostly an economic elite. That is, the ruling minority should be composed essentially of Rothbard’s “natural aristocrats.”

When freedom is at such risk as it is today, these words of Ludwig von Mises come to mind: “Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. . . . Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.”

*****

This article was published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is reproduced with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Mr. Bean Was Right About EVs And So Was Toyota thumbnail

Mr. Bean Was Right About EVs And So Was Toyota

By Duggan Flanakin

When auto (even EV driving) enthusiast Rowan Atkinson – Mr. Bean to his fans – last June wrote in The Guardian that there are “sound environmental reasons” why “keeping your old petrol car may be better than buying an EV,” he was vilified as an eco-traitor.

Atkinson had added, “We’re realizing that a wider range of options need to be explored if we’re going to properly address the very serious environmental problems that our use of the motor car has created.” These include, he said, hydrogen fuel cells and synthetic fuels that would extend the lives of older vehicles long after governments are demanding they be scrapped.

Atkinson, who has a bachelor’s in electrical and electronic engineering and a master’s in control systems, urged Britons to “look at a bigger picture” to include greenhouse gas emissions during the manufacture of electric vehicles and to evaluate the whole life cycle of motor vehicles.

Relying on a dash of common sense, Atkinson noted that pushing so heavily so soon for EVs that have major flaws will result in “millions of overweight electric cars with rapidly obsolescing batteries.” Technological developments with hydrogen and synthetic fuels, which can power existing internal combustion engines, may prove a better long-term solution. For one reason, the owners of the world’s 1.5 billion ICE vehicles could continue enjoying them.

For sharing his insights, Atkinson was immediately smacked around by snarky reporters and EV “experts”. Simon Evans, deputy editor at Carbon Brief, slammed Atkinson for not adhering to Carbon Brief’s own “evidence” from years back stating that EVs cut “planet-warming emissions” by two-thirds on a life cycle basis and calling EVs “an essential part of tackling the climate emergency.”

How dare he?

Michael Coren, writing in the Washington Post, portrayed Atkinson as an iconoclast clinging to his petrol car, lampooned hydrogen and synthetic fuels as expensive and impractical, and compared ICE vehicles to hobby horses. Coren argued that “making every car burn [hydrogen] is not a good idea,” yet implied that forcing every driver to buy an EV is a very good idea.

Eight months later, though, the detractors who had hoped to make Atkinson an example of a troglodyte were singing a different tune in the wake of a collapse in the British EV market.

Mr. Bean was condemned in the House of Lords by the Green Alliance as “partly at fault for ‘damaging’ public perceptions” of EVs and as a dangerous enemy of Britain’s drive to Net Zero. The Guardian, which published Atkinson’s tome, was accused indirectly of failing to adhere to “high editorial standards around the Net Zero transition.”

[Translation: ONLY glowing reports on EVs are acceptable public speech.]

It couldn’t have been the exorbitant cost of auto insurance for EVs, their tendency to catch fire and burn for days, or the high cost and long wait times for parts and repairs – or the long waits at charging stations to plug in and wait for enough charge at least to reach the next destination. Nor could it be that people are uncomfortable enriching China as their own auto companies face bankruptcy.  No – it was allowing someone to publicly question the rush to electrification.

Halfway around the world, Toyota, which “lagged behind” its major competitors in ditching their ICE vehicle fleets for all-EV production lines, “is riding a windfall of hybrid vehicle sales on its way to posting projected net profits of more than $30  billion.” While Ford lost $4.7 billion trying to create an EV market, dropping its net profit to just $4.2 billion, Toyota now appears to be in better financial shape than its American and European competitors.

Over a year ago, then-Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda had cautioned that the EV transition would “take longer than the media would like us to believe.” Ford, GM, Stellantis, and many other automakers worldwide played nice with the political and financial giants while Toyota’s management stepped away from the rhetoric, looked at the numbers, and chose a commonsense approach to the evolving world auto marketplace.

The company did sell 15,000 pure EVs in the U.S. in 2023, but they also sold 40,000 plug-in hybrids and more than 600,000 non-rechargeable hybrids out of total U.S. sales of 2,248,477 vehicles, a 6% increase from 2022 levels. Ford fell short of its goal to produce 300,000 EVs a year by 2023 and has revised its earlier forecast of 2 million EVs by 2026. Worse, Ford now expects to lose as much as $5.5 billion on EVs in 2024.

Over in Europe, Volvo just announced it is withdrawing support for its marquee electric vehicle Polestar and hopes to sell its 48% stake, possibly to a Chinese buyer. Just days earlier, Polestar had cut 450 jobs, about 15% of its workforce.

Elsewhere in Europe, EV sales are expected to decline in 2024 in Germany, Europe’s largest auto market, and Renault just scrapped plans to spin off its Ampere EVs, blaming a lack of interest from investors and a slowdown in sales.

EV sales in the United Kingdom also flatlined in 2023, and prices for used EVs fell sharply, raising questions about their residual value. Even EV-friendly Switzerland admits it will take at least 20 years to fully electrify its fleet; while EVs and hybrids today comprise about 30% of Swiss new car sales, these vehicles amount to less than 4% of the total national fleet.

Oil and gas companies are getting the message, too. BP, which once billed itself as “Beyond Petroleum,” has been encouraged by an activist investor to reduce its investments in renewables and recommit to oil and gas. A major reason – oil and gas investments in recent years have boomed while investments in renewables have faltered. Bluebell Capital Partners asserted that BP’s commitment to renewable has left its stock price undervalued by 50% compared to ExxonMobil and Chevron.

President Biden’s demand that the U.S. comply with his EV mandates was dealt a major blow last month when auto rental giant Hertz, heretofore the nation’s largest fleet operator of electric vehicles, announced it was selling all 20,000 of its EVs and not buying any more. The company cited high repair costs and weak demand for EV rentals. Karl Bauer of iSeeCars.com, noting that mainstream consumers were already hesitant to buy an EV, said, “The larger impact of the Hertz EV fire sale is the perception hit to the technology.”

The fictional Mr. Bean is known (and revered) for his original and often absurd solutions to problems and, his total disregard for others while solving them, and his pettiness and occasional malevolence. Had the British press mocked Mr. Atkinson for a Bean-like performance, the climate emergency propagandists might have laughed him off successfully.

But they are not able to laugh without derision.

The real Mr. Atkinson, like the decision makers at Toyota, is espousing commonsense wisdom such as “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” Extending the lifespan of existing vehicles, even with currently high-cost hydrogen or synthetic fuels, is far better for the environment than junking them for electric vehicles that require diesel fuel to power charging stations.

If, as we are told, EV batteries will soon be smaller, cheaper, and stronger, that day has not yet come. Just as likely, the cost of hydrogen and synthetics will also drop significantly, and those fuels can power existing ICE vehicles. Most of all, if there truly were a “climate emergency,” diplomats would be quicker to end military conflicts and end the rush by China and India to build more and more coal-fired power plants (needed, of course, to charge EV batteries).

What Mr. Bean and Toyota are truly saying to the world is that mandates – the government deciding what can and cannot go to market – and the huge subsidies that go along with them (which would be unnecessary in a true emergency) are at war with the wisdom of the market, which relies on true public opinion as to what is best for the consumer.

*****

This article was published by CFACT, Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow, and is reproduced with permission.

Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

CEO of Cardone Capitol To Team: “Immediately Discontinue All Underwriting on New York City Real Estate” In Wake of Insane Ruling in Trump Case thumbnail

CEO of Cardone Capitol To Team: “Immediately Discontinue All Underwriting on New York City Real Estate” In Wake of Insane Ruling in Trump Case

By The Geller Report

It begins. As predicted, one of the most successful private equity real estate firms has called for a cessation of business in New York.

Grant Cardone to Team: “Immediately Discontinue All Underwriting on New York City Real Estate”

By: Joey Solitro, Yahoo News, Feb 21, 2024:

Grant Cardone is less than pleased with the ruling against former Donald Trump, in which Trump has been ordered to pay $355 million in penalties plus interest. If Trump were to pay the full amount of the penalty today, it would cost him roughly $450 million.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Grant Cardone said, “Dear Cardone Capital team, Immediately discontinue ALL underwriting on New York City real estate. The risk outweigh the opportunities at this time. Recent political decisions will continue to deteriorate price and benefit states that don’t have these challenges. Focus on Texas & Florida.”

Cardone’s comments echo what Kevin O’Leary said in a recent interview, calling the decision to fine Trump “unjust,” “appalling,” and “Un-American.”

“That fact that he was found guilty, you might as well find guilty every real estate developer on Earth,” O’Leary said.

Continue reading.

AUTHOR

Pamela Geller

RELATED ARTICLE: Insane Trump’s Penalty Will NY Businesses To Flee to FLA, as New York State Becomes ‘Legal Banana Republic’: Experts

POST ON X:

BREAKING REPORT: ⚠️ CEO of Cardone Capitol, Grant Cardone orders underwriters to ” IMMEDIATELY DISCONTINUE ALL UNDERWRITING on New York City real estate following $355 MILLION Trump Judgement…

‘The risk outweigh the opportunities at this time.’

Cardone Capital’s portfolio… https://t.co/VferXGcP0F pic.twitter.com/luFNe5yRMb

— Chuck Callesto (@ChuckCallesto) February 20, 2024

EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Inflation Can Be Difficult To Kill Off thumbnail

Inflation Can Be Difficult To Kill Off

By Neland Nobel

It is difficult to find exact historical settings for the inflation set loose by the Biden Administration.  However, the similarity with previous periods could be a guide.

Among the conditions plaguing us today are: very turbulent domestic politics, large deficits caused by an expansion of the welfare state and 20 years of losing warfare, supply chain constraints caused by Covid lockdown policies, green energy policies that increase energy prices, an astronomical build-up of debt and deficits, entitlement systems vulnerable to massive demographic shifts, and a long period of loose money and zero interest rates. We are flirting with revolutionary monetary policies such as Modern Monetary Theory and a very interventionist Federal Reserve.  Indeed, we are living in the echo of the longest period of zero interest rates ever in history and we have never seen the Fed expand its balance sheet to this extent and then take such large market losses in its portfolio.

Our politics appear broken, with neither party able to unite to fight chronic deficits or carry out a consistent foreign policy.

Arguably, this is worse than previous circumstances. Notice in the chart above that the ceiling for inflation (around 3%) is increasingly starting to look like a floor.

Previous periods did not have this exact combination to be sure, but we can find some similarities with the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s.

The late 60s and early 70s saw huge budget deficits caused by funding both the Great Society and Vietnam War spending. We also had political turbulence with Watergate, the resignation of President Nixon, the Church CIA hearings, and chronic troubles with Iran.  There was a Mid-East War with supply constraints on oil and the rise of OPEC. In the early part of the 1970s, we had radical monetary changes with the collapse of the Bretton Woods and the end of any kind of gold standard constraint. While somewhat different from today, there also were radical social changes in music and family structure,  and political unrest, including urban race riots and riots at political conventions. The stock market boomed, making a double peak in 1966-1968 but had trouble in the early 1970s.  By 1973-74, stocks took their biggest hit since the Depression.  They continued to struggle for almost a decade until  August 1982 when rates finally peaked,  and a long bull market commenced.

So, there are some fair comparisons.  But there are differences, such as the rise of China, and the end of the Cold War. Moreover, debt extremes at the household, corporate, and governmental levels, are all far worse than they were 40 to 50 years ago. Given these differences, why bring this period up?

The reason is there is enough similarity in these 20 years that we should be concerned and alert to the historical record.  Inflation is very difficult to kill off once it has been set loose.  You can see from the chart above that inflation came in three great waves. The circumstances needed to kill it off in the early 1980s required super high interest rates, which would not sit well with the debt bubble we live with today.  Having lived through that period, it was hard enough as it was.

History shows cycles of inflation and then disinflation and its persistent nature.  You have to be prepared for both and knowing the timing is extremely difficult.

Right now, the widely expected “soft landing”, looks more like “no landing”, with both the economy and inflation remaining strong.  A disinflationary recession may be the only way to break the fever.

The markets have been recently leaning heavily towards the idea of six or seven rate cuts just this year, but inflation has proven stubborn.  That may delay and reduce the expected interest rate cuts.

There seems to be an almost universal opinion that the Fed will cut rates for reasons of the political needs of incumbents.

Yet the problem remains.  Higher rates for longer could cause an unwinding of our huge debt bubble and set loose deflationary forces.  The property collapse in China and the commercial real estate problems in the US are manifestations of this problem.

But capitulation on fighting inflation could make inflation worse and delay cuts in interest rates.

As our friend Wolf Richter recently noted:

“Inflation surprised in 2023 with its sharp decline, driven by the collapse in energy prices and the drop in durable goods prices. Both of them have come off huge price spikes since mid-2022, pulling down overall CPI inflation from 9.0% in June 2022 to 3.1% in January 2024. But services inflation has remained high and accelerated in late 2023, which was not surprising, and then on top of this increase, it leaped in January by an annualized rate of 8.2%.”

He also notes that energy prices are not likely to continue to decline and energy price reversal added to services inflation could prove painful.  In addition, Iran’s terror proxies in the Middle East are causing ship traffic to be diverted around the Suez Canal, causing a spike in global shipping costs.

This puts the Fed in a bind, election year or not.  What guidance history can provide is that inflation comes in waves, is very difficult to reduce, and the Fed will be afraid to be blamed for causing a recession.

Inflation’s influence extends beyond the grocery cart or the gas pump. It can radicalize politics, undermine hard work and long-term saving, encourage gambling and short-term thinking, and degrade social cohesion.  Everyone gets desperate to keep up and financial chicanery of all kinds flourishes. Notice how much gambling is going on today, ranging from stock speculation to lotteries and sports betting. 

We were struck by a car ad currently running on television.  A family’s decision to sell their car, using a smartphone app, is portrayed almost like day-trading in a stock.

Democratic institutions that run on a relatively short two-year political cycle, have demonstrated the inability to stay with policies that contain inflation and bring us long periods of price stability.  No politician wants to have the correction of excesses occur while running for office. Historically, price stability occurred only when there was an outside institutional constraint on political spending.  But with the demise of the gold standard, we lack such institutional constraints.

We see no new ones on the horizon to replace it.  The proposed answer by some has been cryptocurrency, but they have proven even more unstable than stock prices and seem far too volatile to use as currency.  They seem more a product of inflation than a solution.

Central banks are supposedly “independent” and not subject to political pressure.  Not only is that not true, but the dog that is supposed to protect the flock from the wolf of inflation may turn out to have an appetite for mutton.

*****

Chart Credit: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and Tavi Costa Crescat Capital

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

America Can’t Afford Bidenomics thumbnail

America Can’t Afford Bidenomics

By Vance Ginn

Recent headlines for the January jobs report indicate a robust economy. But a more thorough look reveals challenges for Americans.

One recent headline proclaimed “Voters are finally noticing that Bidenomics is working.” But just 30 percent of Americans think the economy is doing well. When asked who would handle the economy better, people give former president Donald Trump a 22-point advantage over President Biden.

Challenges include increasing part-time employment in recent months, declining household employment in three of the last four months for a net decline of 398,000 job holders, mounting public debt burdens, and declining real wages, which have fallen by 4.4 percent since January 2021. 

Why these results? Bidenomics is based on costly Keynesian boom-and-bust policies. With so much whiplash, it’s no wonder people are conflicted about the economy.

In the latest jobs report for January, a net increase of 353,000 nonfarm jobs from the establishment survey appears robust, as it was well above the consensus estimate of 185,000 new jobs. But let’s dig deeper.

Last month, household employment declined by 31,000, contradicting the headlines. The divergence of jobs added between the household survey and the establishment survey has widened since March 2022. This period coincides with declining real gross domestic product in the first and second quarters of 2022 (usually that’s deemed a recession, but it hasn’t been yet). Indexing these two employment levels to 100 in January 2021, they were essentially the same until March 2022, but nonfarm employment was 2.5 percent higher in January 2024.

While this divergence mystifies some, a primary reason is how the surveys are conducted.

The establishment survey reports the answers from businesses and the household survey from individual citizens. The establishment survey often counts the same person working in multiple jobs, while the household survey counts each person employed. This likely explains much of the divergence, as many people work multiple jobs to make ends meet. The surge in part-time employment and more discouraged workers underscores the fragility of the labor market.

Though average weekly earnings increased by 3 percent in January over a year prior, this is below inflation of 3.1 percent. Real average weekly earnings had increased for seven months before falling last month. And there had been declines in year-over-year average weekly earnings for 24 of the prior 25 months before June 2023. These real wages are down 4.4 percent since Biden took office in January 2021.

As purchasing power declines, mounting debts become more urgent.

Total US household debt has reached unprecedented levels, with credit card debt soaring by 14.5 percent over the last year to a staggering $1.13 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2023. Such substantial growth in debt raises concerns about the current (unsustainable?) consumption trends, business investment, and a looming financial crisis.

The surge in mortgage rates to over seven percent for the first time since December and rising home prices exacerbate housing affordability challenges, particularly for aspiring homeowners. An integral component of what some consider the “American Dream,” housing affordability is a major factor discouraging Americans.

The euphoria surrounding the January 2024 jobs report is misplaced. Policymakers should heed these warning signs and enact meaningful reforms to address root causes.

Biden’s policy approach undergirds most of these difficulties. Bidenomics focuses on his Build Back Better agenda that picks winners and losers by redistributing taxpayer money for supposed economic gains through large deficit spending.

We haven’t seen an agenda of this magnitude since LBJ’s Great Society in the 1960s or possibly since FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s. Both were damaging, as the Great Society dramatically expanded the size and scope of government, contributing to the Great Inflation in the 1970s, and the New Deal contributed to a longer and harsher Great Depression.

Just since January 2021, Congress passed the following major spending bills upon request of the Biden administration:

These four bills will add nearly $4.3 trillion to the national debt. But at least another $2.5 trillion will be added to the national debt for student loan forgiveness schemes, SNAP expansions, net interest increases, Ukraine funding, PACT Act, and more. In total over the past three years, excessive spending will lead to more than $7 trillion added to the national debt, which now totals $34 trillion — a 21 percent increase since 2021. There seems to be no end to soaring debt with the recent discussions of more taxpayer money to Ukraine, Israel, the border, and the “bipartisan tax deal,” collectively adding at least another $700 billion to the debt over a decade.

Record debts accrued by households and by the federal government (paid by households) are not signs of a robust economy. This will likely worsen before it improves, as household savings dry up. And with interest rates likely to stay higher for longer because of persistent inflation, debts will crowd out household finances and the federal budget.

The Federal Reserve has monetized much of this increased national debt over the last few years by ballooning its balance sheet from $4 trillion to $9 trillion and back down to a still-bloated $7.6 trillion. This helps explain persistent inflation, massive misallocation of resources, and costly malinvestments across the economy, keeping the economy afloat yet fragile.

Excessive deficit spending weighs heavily on future generations, saddling them with unsustainable debt levels they have no voice in. Today, everyone owes about $100,000, and taxpayers owe $165,000, toward the national debt. Of course, these amounts don’t include the hundreds of trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities for the quickly-going-bankrupt welfare programs of Social Security and Medicare.

Future generations will be on the hook for even more national debt if Bidenomics continues and Congress doesn’t reduce government spending now. This is why the national debt is the biggest national crisis for America. We’re robbing current and future generations of their hopes and dreams.

Fortunately, there’s a better path forward if politicians have the willpower. This path should be chosen before we reap the major costs of a bigger crisis. I’ve recently outlined what this should look like at AIER.

In short, we need a fiscal rule of a spending limit covering the entire budget based on a maximum rate of population growth plus inflation. There should also be a monetary rule that ideally reduces and caps the Fed’s current balance sheet to at least where it was before the lockdowns. My work with Americans for Tax Reform shows that had the federal government used this spending limit over the last 20 years, the debt would have increased by just $700 billion instead of the actual $20.2 trillion. That’s much more manageable and would point us in a more sustainable fiscal and monetary direction

Together, fiscal and monetary rules that rein in government will help reduce the roles that politicians and bureaucrats have in our lives so we can achieve our unique American dreams. If not, we will have wasted many dreams on Bidenomics that can make things look good on the surface, but cause rot underneath.

*****

This article was published by AIER, American Institute for Economic Research and is reproduced with permission.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

TAKE ACTION

The Prickly Pear’s TAKE ACTION focus this year is to help achieve a winning 2024 national and state November 5th election with the removal of the Biden/Obama leftist executive branch disaster, win one U.S. Senate seat, maintain and win strong majorities in all Arizona state offices on the ballot and to insure that unrestricted abortion is not constitutionally embedded in our laws and culture.

Please click the TAKE ACTION link to learn to do’s and don’ts for voting in 2024. Our state and national elections are at great risk from the very aggressive and radical leftist Democrat operatives with documented rigging, mail-in voter fraud and illegals voting across the country (yes, with illegals voting across the country) in the last several election cycles.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of The Prickly Pear essays entitled How NOT to Vote in the November 5, 2024 Election in Arizona to be well informed of the above issues and to vote in a way to ensure the most likely chance your vote will be counted and counted as you intend.

Please click the following link to learn more.

Disney’s DEI Policies Land Them in Court: ‘The Hit Factory Is Now the Flop Factory’ thumbnail

Disney’s DEI Policies Land Them in Court: ‘The Hit Factory Is Now the Flop Factory’

By Family Research Council

According to Bob Iger, Disney CEO, what happened on January 6 “was fundamentally wrong and … rooted in hatred … and intolerance.” In his view, that was the day Iger felt Disney needed to take “a stand” on political matters, which has been mostly rooted in the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. However, experts have highlighted the fact that these efforts have mostly backfired.

In prioritizing DEI, Disney has produced content largely centered on LGBT ideology. This agenda has caused their revenue to tank as they faced nationwide boycotts, decreased sales, and certain states pulling their investments from the Magic Kingdom. Nonetheless, Disney has insisted on prioritizing politics over profit. “The hit factory is now the flop factory,” wrote Breitbart’s John Nolte. “The trusted brand is now seen (accurately) as a threat to children’s innocence.”

Iger said he’s “very proud of the work” Disney has “done in terms of diversity and inclusion on screen.” However, Nolte pointed out that in the brand’s DEI efforts, they’ve failed to succeed in “telling a great story with appealing and relatable characters.” And not all of the pushback is based on gender politics.

America First Legal (AFL) filed a civil rights complaint against Disney on Wednesday “for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by engaging in illegal race, sex, and national origin discrimination.” According to Disney’s “Reimagine Tomorrow” website, AFL argued that there is a strong suggestion “that race, color, religion, sex, or national origin are often the only motivating factor in Disney’s hiring, training, and promotion decisions.” As such, they noted “the company is intentionally discriminating against white American men, Christians, and Jews simply because of their race, sex, religion, and citizenship.”

AFL President Stephen Miller said, “It is sad and tragic that a company whose name was once synonymous with wholesome and charming childhood fantasies is now dedicated to spreading divisive bigotry. We urge Disney to cease and desist its unlawful and destructive conduct at once.”

Referring to Disney’s goal of hiring 50% of its directors from “underrepresented groups,” the complaint stated, “It is patently unlawful to consider racial, ethnic, and sex-based characteristics in hiring, training, compensation, and promotion.” It continued, “Decades of case law have held that policies that impose racial balancing or quotas in employment, training, or recruitment, such as those presented on Disney’s websites, are prohibited.”

As Nolte pointed out, “Disney went from one of the most universally beloved and trusted brands — a company that produced one-billion-dollar blockbuster after another — into a failing propaganda outlet no decent parent would allow their children near.”

Stephen Soukup, author of “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital,” commented to The Washington Stand, “Disney and its leadership — its executives and board — have gone out of their way to ensure that politics takes priority over conventional business interests.”

Concerning the decisions Disney has made in recent years and whether they will alter their path, Soukup said, “Despite acknowledging their disconnect between their ideology and their customer base in SEC documents, they still seem unable or unwilling to change course. The evidence shows that CEO Bob Iger has been driving much of this, while the company’s board of directors has rewarded him with a lavish pay increase, even in the face of his failures.”

Ultimately, Soukup pointed out, “any change in the company’s positions will have to come from shareholders.” Which, he concluded, “short of a shareholder rebellion — approval on non-management approved board candidates, for example — it’s difficult to see Disney’s leaders doing what needs to be done to get back to something approximating neutral, to putting business ahead of politics.”

AUTHOR

Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.