WHO, WEF, SDG, JRB…WTF

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

This summer, the elites of the World Economic Forum (WEF) will convene in Davos Switzerland for Klaus Schwab’s annual confab of the Lear jet set. Part of this meeting is to ratify and endorse the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest draft of the International Health Regulations (IHR). This treaty has had virtually no coverage and it deserves scrutiny at the most minute level.

Background: The WEF is determined to create a more ‘perfect world’ by advancing their “Great Reset” for the purpose of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 (SDG). If you are not aware of this plan, you really need to get a better grasp of this. The SDG is the blueprint for global totalitarianism on a level never before seen on this planet. It was originally intended by Klaus Schwab et al. to be the Millennial Development Goals of 2000, but the world didn’t cooperate. Hence, the new 2030 deadline to make this happen. One of the key elements in their toolkit is the WHO. After all, who could object to an organization devoted to boosting global health?

WHO is run by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is an Ethiopian administrator (noted for his Marxist activism) with questionable credentials to put it mildly. He is completely in the thrall of the Chinese and Xi Jinping. Tedros helped promote the notion that Covid 19 did not originate in China, he praised their transparency and candor in dealing with the virus. He doesn’t have the medical qualifications to manage this organization other than his willingness to kowtow to the Chinese and Bill Gates.

Back to the subject at hand: the IHR as amended by good old Uncle Joe and his new representative to the WHO, Anthony Fauci.

Here are but a few of the gems from this:

1. WHO’s latest release pushes new digital vaccine passports to be used on a global scale.
2. The WHO openly states these personalized digital documents could “be extended to capture vaccination status to protect against other diseases” and may “be used for continuity of care or as proof of vaccination for purposes other than health care,” such as employment, university education and international travel.
3. Empower WHO’s Director-General to declare health emergencies or crises in any nation and to do so unilaterally and against the opposition of the target nation.
4. According to the Forward to WHO’s regulations, there is no specific limit to what constitutes a health emergency, and it is certainly not limited to pandemics. WHO’s domain includes: “8. a scope not limited to any specific disease or manner of transmission, but covering “illness or medical condition, irrespective of origin or source, that presents or could present significant harm to humans… “5. The WHO will have the unilateral power to determine if any member country warrants their intervention, whether the target country agrees or not.

There is a lot more buried in this text but the net result is the same: if codified, the USA will have voluntarily given up its sovereignty to a Chinese puppet: Tedros. If you missed it this week, our vaunted head of the DHS, Mayorkas, has shelved his plan for a Disinformation Governance Board. This is less surprising now that the details of the new IHR become clearer: it has a far more stringent censorship program built into it.

If this is permitted to go forward, this country will have freely erased our Constitution and abandoned the Bill of Rights. Make no mistake, the first amendment will be suspended under this, the second amendment will be next. We begin an eighteen-month review countdown after this is ratified in Davos (which is when this becomes international law) so the time to act is now. Contact your Congressional representatives and let them know that this is not acceptable. This treaty will fundamentally change this country from the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” to the “Land of the Entitled Billionaires and the serfs who serve them”.

China Starting Next Global Crisis By Gobbling Up Sri Lanka

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
  • Sri Lanka is only the world’s opening act.
  • Events in Sri Lanka also highlight how China is going about dominating the world. Beijing is corrupting national leaders, drowning them in debt, and ultimately destabilizing their governments. Beijing, it appears, is particularly targeting democracies.
  • China is the world’s predatory lender, something evident from its CCP, , also known as BRI. Beijing’s grand infrastructure project specializes in roads, ports, and railroads that have, like the Sri Lankan projects, little or no commercial justification. So far, 146 countries have signed BRI memo agreements with Beijing.
  • The Chinese have established a pattern. “China extends debt on onerous terms, backs up authoritarian governments when there are financial collapses or civil disobedience, and then takes everything it can find,” Cleo Paskal of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Gatestone.
  • In December 2017, Beijing took control of the Hambantota port…. Now there are concerns that Hambantota will eventually become a Chinese naval base. China’s admirals have long eyed Sri Lanka…
  • A base in Sri Lanka would allow Chinese aircraft and surface combatants as well as submarines to cut sea lanes in the Indian Ocean and force next-door India to divert military assets to a threatening presence.
  • Sri Lanka is now looking for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, but that is not necessarily a good idea. The international community should not be helping a voracious China gobble up small, vulnerable societies.
  • If the IMF bails out Sri Lanka without ensuring that it is no longer aligned with Beijing, it will have subsidized Chinese investment and politically reinforced a country that becomes a Chinese proxy.” – Cleo Paskal, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, to Gatestone, May, 2022.

On May 12, India confirmed that it would provide a desperate Sri Lankan government 65,000 metric tons of urea, pursuant to an existing $1 billion credit line. The sale, which overrides New Delhi’s ban on the exports of the commodity, relieves severe pressure on the government of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka since the end of March has been wracked by violent protests.Shoot-on-sight” orders have for the most part restored order, but the unrest has led to the replacement of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, once the country’s dominate political figure. His brother, the president, is unlikely to survive the tumult. The ongoing economic and financial crisis is Sri Lanka’s worst since independence from Britain in 1948.

Sri Lanka is only the world’s opening act. Disturbances there constitute the first in a series of crises about to engulf vulnerable countries, perhaps even large ones. The war in Ukraine, aggravating underlying problems in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, is shaking just about every corner of the planet.

Events in Sri Lanka also highlight how China is going about dominating the world. Beijing is corrupting national leaders, drowning them in debt, and ultimately destabilizing their governments. Beijing, it appears, is particularly targeting democracies.

India’s urea, a fertilizer, will allow Sri Lankan farmers to plant in the May-August Yala cultivation season. It comes at a time of critical need. The country was spending about $400 million annually to import fertilizer but had not been able to make purchases recently due to the lack of foreign exchange. The government last year, to conserve currency reserves, banned chemical fertilizer.

The finance ministry reports that the country has only $25 million in usable foreign reserves on hand, hardly sufficient to service obligations. Sri Lanka is scheduled to repay $7 billion in debt this year, a part of the $26 billion due by 2026. The country’s total foreign debt is $51 billion.

The chemical fertilizer ban forced farmers to abandon paddies, and some joined the recent protests.

There is, as a result, hunger in the country, and soaring food prices have fueled protests. “I’ve been living in Colombo for 60 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Vadivu, a domestic worker, to AFP in March. “There’s nothing to eat, there’s nothing to drink.” This month, food prices there, Sri Lanka’s most-populous city, tripled in the space of a few days.

The new prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said he would ensure that everyone had three meals a day. “There won’t be a hunger crisis, we will find food,” he told the BBC.

That is a promise Wickremesinghe may not be able to keep. Sri Lanka cannot solve its problems on its own. The COVID-19 pandemic ended tourism, a main source of revenue. Moreover, the Russian invasion of Ukraine—both countries are big sources of tourists for Sri Lanka—killed hopes for a recovery this year.

The issue, however, goes beyond tourist arrivals. The Ukraine war looks as if it is ending a decades-long period of globalization, and this transition is going to be difficult for countries that are especially dependent on others. The Sri Lankan crisis, therefore, is only the beginning. “Sri Lanka is the first country to buckle under the mounting economic pressures triggered by the war in Ukraine,” London’s Guardian stated. “It is unlikely to be the last.”

Sri Lanka also faces another difficulty: China. The dominant Rajapaksa clan, long thought to be in Beijing’s pocket, borrowed heavily from Chinese sources for misconceived ventures. Many of the “white-elephant projects” are in the Hambantota district, the home of the Rajapaksas.

The Hambantota port, losing $300 million in six years, was ill-conceived from the beginning. Port operators, therefore, were unable to service $1.4 billion in loans from China. Close to the port is a rarely used $15.5 million conference center. Thanks to a $200 million loan from China, Sri Lanka was able to build the nearby Rajapaksa Airport, which could not pay even its electricity bills.

In Colombo, there is Sri Lanka’s answer to Dubai: the Chinese-funded Port City, an island of 665 acres of landfill and a “hidden debt trap.” In that city is also the never-opened-to-the-public Lotus Tower, also funded by China. “What is the point of being proud of this tower if we are left begging for food?” asked Krishantha Kulatunga, the owner of a small stationery store near the landmark. “We are neck-deep in loans already.”

China extended around 17% of the country’s total debt. Very few know the full extent of the indebtedness to Chinese parties because there are hard-to-track loans to Sri Lanka’s state firms and to the country’s central bank.

Whatever their amount, Chinese loans have broken Sri Lanka. In April, it declared a suspension of repayment of foreign debt. The BBC reports that the suspension, the first default since independence, is “largely because it cannot service loans from China that paid for massive infrastructure projects.”

China is the world’s predatory lender, something evident from its Belt and Road Initiative, also known as BRI. Beijing’s grand infrastructure project specializes in roads, ports, and railroads that have, like the Sri Lankan projects, little or no commercial justification. So far, 146 countries have signed BRI memo agreements with Beijing. Some of them find themselves in hock to the Chinese.

The Chinese have established a pattern. “China extends debt on onerous terms, backs up authoritarian governments when there are financial collapses or civil disobedience, and then takes everything it can find,” Cleo Paskal of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Gatestone.

This pattern is evident in Sri Lanka. In December 2017, Beijing took control of the Hambantota port, grabbing 70% of the equity and signing a 99-year lease, after that project could not repay high-interest loans extended by China. Now there are concerns that Hambantota will eventually become a Chinese naval base.

China’s admirals have long eyed Sri Lanka: In both September and October 2014 the Sri Lankan government allowed a Chinese submarine and its tender to dock at the Chinese-funded Colombo International Container Terminal.

A base in Sri Lanka would allow Chinese aircraft and surface combatants as well as submarines to cut sea lanes in the Indian Ocean and force next-door India to divert military assets to a threatening presence.

It is no coincidence that Djibouti, also heavily indebted to Chinese parties, is now the site of China’s first offshore military base.

“This pattern is deep, entrenched, and expanding, and so it’s like the dominoes have all been set up and Beijing is perfectly happy to have them fall down so that it can come to the rescue economically and politically and entrench itself even more,” Paskal noted.

Sri Lanka is now looking for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, but that is not necessarily a good idea. The international community should not be helping a voracious China gobble up small, vulnerable societies.

“It’s not financial restructuring that you need, it’s political restructuring that you need before you should put in any more money,” Paskal said. “If the IMF bails out Sri Lanka without ensuring that it is no longer aligned with Beijing, it will have subsidized Chinese investment and politically reinforced a country that becomes a Chinese proxy.”

*****

This article was published by the Gatestone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Federal Judge Halts Biden Administration from Revoking Title 42 Immigration Enforcement

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

A federal judge in Louisiana on Friday stopped the Biden administration from revoking Title 42, a public health authority that allows illegal immigrants to be quickly deported during a health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in the Western District of Louisiana issued the order in a case filed by the attorneys general of Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri. The case later grew to 21 states. Texas also filed a separate lawsuit in a federal court in Texas. The attorney’s general argues ending Title 42 violates federal law and places an unfair financial burden on the states.

The administration announced it was ending Title 42 effective Monday, May 23, and estimated that roughly 18,000 people would enter the U.S. illegally a day once it was lifted.

In response to the judge’s ruling, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said, “I’m so proud of the lawyers from our office who just got our Temporary Restraining Order to keep Title 42 in place. We will continue to fight the Biden administration’s open border policies.

“Title 42 is one of the last tools we have left in our toolbox to stop an even greater flood of illegal immigration into our country,” he said. “While this is a good win, we gotta keep fighting. I’m going to do everything I can to stop the overreach of the Biden administration; and make sure that we enforce our immigration laws and … do everything we can to protect American taxpayers.”

The Biden administration later Friday said it disagreed with the ruling and would appeal it. “The authority to set public health policy nationally should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not with a single district court,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. However, in compliance with the court’s injunction, the administration will enforce Title 42, she said. “This means that migrants who attempt to enter the United States unlawfully will be subject to expulsion under Title 42, as well as immigration consequences such as removal under Title 8.

“As the appeal proceeds, the Department of Homeland Security will continue planning for the eventual lifting of Title 42 in the light of CDC’s public health judgment, at which point anyone who attempts to enter the country unlawfully will be subject to Title 8 Expedited Removal proceedings if they do not have grounds to remain in the United States.”
The lawsuit that led to Friday’s ruling is one of many filed by Brnovich and other attorneys general in response to the Biden administration’s open border policies. Since Biden took office, an estimated 2.5 million people have entered the U.S. illegally even with Title 42 in place.

Due to widespread nonenforcement of immigration laws by the administration, the number of people entering illegally continues to break new records nearly every month.

Last month, more than 234,000 people were encountered entering the U.S. illegally, the greatest number in a single month in recorded U.S. history. That’s a 1,376% increase from the 17,106 encounters reported in April 2020 under the Trump administration.

These numbers exclude at least one million who’ve entered the U.S. illegally and evaded capture, known as “got aways,” according to estimates previously reported on by The Center Square. Last month, there were between 58,000 and 71,000 got aways recorded by Border Patrol, numbers that aren’t published publicly.

At a news conference in the Rio Grande Valley this week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas maintained that ending Title 42 wouldn’t “mean the border is open on May 23,” KHOU 11 News Houston reported. “We continue to enforce the laws of this country,” he said. “We continue to remove individuals who do not qualify for relief under the laws of this country.”

Deportation was down last year by 70%, and at least 1.2 million people with deportation orders remain in the U.S. and haven’t been deported. Mayorkas has begun gutting Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation units across the country, according to recently retired ICE officials and law enforcement officers who’ve reached out to The Center Square. Last fall, Mayorkas also instituted widespread immigration policy changes, including declaring that being in the U.S. illegally isn’t a crime, even though federal law says it is.

Mayorkas has also radically altered the asylum process by granting administrative personnel judicial authority to adjudicate claims when Congress has only authorized judges to do so. Fourteen attorneys general, also led by Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri, sued over this policy, hoping to halt it.

“Right now, immigration judges who are suffering a 1.6 or 1.7 million case workload, now they have exclusive jurisdiction,” Mayorkas said. “We are giving the asylum officers that jurisdiction. That is going to take what is now on average a six-to-eight-year-plus process between the time of encounter and the time of ultimate asylum adjudication to under a year.”

In the meantime, the attorney’s general said they will take the win handed to them on Friday.

“Once again, the courts rule against Joe Biden’s lawless agenda,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “Title 42 is one of the last remaining protections we have from a deluge of illegals coming across our border. I am glad for our state and our nation that It will remain in place.”

The administration will appeal the ruling, and the matter is likely to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

*****

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

Markets Are Yelling Mayday

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Editors’ Note: As far back as last summer, The Prickly Pear began to warn about 2022 being a “risk-off” year.  Those elements of the economy, including stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, and real estate that have been elevated by easy money, will tend to suffer when the easy money is taken away. We are now well into the process as the author explains. However, market action will be uneven, and markets rarely decline without lots of zig-zag interruptions. Recent data suggest the market are for the moment getting very oversold, pessimism is running deep, and under those conditions, a contra trend rally or bounce can be expected. If we are correct that such a rally will ensue fairly soon, this may be the last opportunity for investors to sell into strength to make whatever asset allocations adjustments they and their advisor may feel necessary for their particular circumstances. However, in the somewhat longer term, all markets will have to adjust to a higher interest rate environment, less monetary stimulation, and likely a slowing economy.

 

An aircraft pilot about to crash will repeat the distress signal “Mayday.” Throughout the “May days” of this month so far, financial markets have been sending distress signals that may indicate an imminent crash of their own. The major stock market indices have all been experiencing steep sell-offs since May 4, extending a decline that began around the end of March.

Most analysts attribute the sell-off to inflation fears. Traders aren’t worried about how inflation will directly affect the economy, but how it will influence the decisions of a handful of bureaucrats. They fear that it will lead Federal Reserve officials to tighten the money spigot that is driving the inflation in the first place.

The Fed’s money pumping has driven up prices across the board, but especially the prices of capital goods (the value of which is derived from the value of the future consumption goods they will yield) relative to present consumption goods. That ratio, as Austrian economists explain, is the basis for interest rates. By distorting it with its money pumping, the Fed has artificially lowered interest rates so as to “stimulate” the economy.

This has been the Fed’s standard operating procedure since its founding in 1913, but it has precipitously ramped it up since the advent of Covid in order to prop up an economy staggering under the burden of draconian governmental responses to the disease.

If, as traders fear, the resulting inflation prompts the Fed to ease up on the money pumping, that will allow interest rates to rise by pulling out the props holding up capital prices at artificially high levels relative to present consumption goods. This upheaval in relative prices will translate into severe losses for most businesses, revealing that, lured by the Fed’s artificial stimulus, they had overextended themselves.

This general spike in market losses is what’s known as a “crash” and “recession.”

Wall Street is right to expect it, but it would be wrong to push for policies to forestall it, as it often does. A recession is a tough time, but it’s not a bad thing. The artificially inflated bubble was the bad thing. An economic bust is a necessary and beneficial repair of the economic distortion and damage that occurred during the deceptively pleasant artificial boom. The more you delay this repair, the more distortion and damage will accumulate, and the more painful the later repair will have to be.

The bust we need will be extremely painful because the Fed has been money-pumping at ever-increasing unprecedented levels and without stint since the financial crisis of 2008. But kicking the can down the road even further will only mean an even more painful bust when the Fed finally does relent.

And that’s if we’re lucky. If the Fed never relents, its policy will eventually result in hyperinflation, which can be a civilization-killer.

The market is crying out Mayday. Let it crash. And then let it rebuild and re-ascend sustainably under its own power.

The government got us into this mess, but only the market can get us out. And, as the poets say, the only way out is through.

*****

This article was published by FEE, Foundation for Economic Education and is reprinted with permission.

Readiness Problem? The U.S. Military Is Sending Its Own Weapons to Ukraine

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

One day after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, the U.S. started sending military aid to Ukraine in waves. U.S. allies and partners followed suit, and Ukraine has been able not only to stop but push back Russian forces with Western weapons.

The American-made FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank weapons and the British-made Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) have been a hit with Ukrainian forces, enabling them to destroy thousands of Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles. Lots of other weapon systems have contributed too.

Drawdown Authority 

Drawdown authority allows the Pentagon to go to its own arms stockpiles and pick weapon systems to send to Ukraine.

The U.S. Department of Defense has sent the following packages of military aid to Ukraine:

  • February 25: $350m
  • March 12: $200m
  • March 16: $800m
  • April 1: $300m
  • April 5: $100m
  • April 13: $800m
  • April 21: $800m
  • April 24: $322m
  • May 6: $100m

One very natural and expected question is whether the transfer of so many weapon systems to Ukraine is affecting U.S. military readiness.

“I can assure you that we are not at the point where our inventories of these systems have … or will imminently affect our readiness. We’re comfortable that our stocks are in keeping with our readiness needs. But we obviously know that, as these packages go on, and as the need continues inside Ukraine, we want to lead turn … We want to be ahead of the bow wave on that and not get to a point where it becomes a readiness issue,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby had said in April.

Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has played a key part in getting all of these billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine.

As of last week, the Pentagon had a mere $100 million left in drawdown authority, making the passage of the proposed massive package of aid to Ukraine necessary if the U.S. wishes to continue to support the Ukrainian military.

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Continue reading this article at Real Clear Defense.

‘Shocking Discovery:’ Biden Knows Drug Cartels Control, Profit From Illegal Immigration, DHS Memo Shows

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Border patrol agents are preparing for “a possible increase in migrant activity due to an increase in large group activity” as a result of Biden administration immigration policies, an internal Department of Homeland Security document released by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody says.

It specifically sites suspending the Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as the Remain in Mexico Policy, and terminating the public health authority, Title 42, as contributing to an influx of people coming to the U.S. southern border from Central and South America through Mexico.

“This is a shocking discovery,” Moody said. “It contradicts what the Biden administration has been telling the American people and shows that the Mexican drug cartels are profiting off the mass migration of unvetted immigrants to fund an increase in violence at the border.”

Attorneys general from multiple states has sued the administration over terminating both policies, including Texas AG Ken Paxton and Missouri AG Eric Schmitt, who recently argued before the Supreme Court asking it to require the administration to follow the law and reinstate the MPP.

“We are in the midst of a national opioid crisis and the deadliest drugs are being smuggled into our country from Mexico,” Moody said in a statement. “President Biden knows this, yet he continues to double down on his terrible immigration policies knowing full well these policies are emboldening and enriching the very drug cartels who are profiting off the deaths of thousands of Americans.”

Entitled “U.S. Customs and Border Protection Overview of the Southwest Border,” the 8-page redacted document describes the role of Mexican cartels and transnational, organized-criminal networks in smuggling people to the U.S.

It states, “…we assess that smuggling networks are very active in promoting the flow of migrants through Mexico as drug trafficking organizations maintain control of the primary trafficking corridors into the United States. The drug trafficking organizations’ control of these corridors allows them to regulate the flow of migrants as well as charge migrants a ‘tax’ … for the right to pass through the corridors.

“Transnational criminal organizations will exploit migration flows and entrench themselves in the smuggling cycle. TCOs endanger vulnerable individuals, amass illicit profits that feed cartel violence in Mexico and along the border, and create a volatile border environment.”

The document also “proves that the Biden administration knows that its disastrous border policies are responsible for the influx of illegal migrants,” Moody says. She points to a section that states that “irregular migration,” which is new terminology DHS is using to refer to illegal immigration, “will likely increase in the fiscal year 2021 as economic opportunities emerge and migrant perceptions of U.S. immigration policies shift.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and DHS officials are preparing for an influx of people, having “initiated contingency planning in anticipation of a potential surge of illegal migration,” the document states, with preparation to move them into the U.S.

It points to Biden administration policies, including, “the pause in the use of removal pathways such as the Migrant Protection Protocols, Asylum Cooperation Agreements, and Prompt Asylum Claim Review,” as factors contributing to increased migration, which have restricted CBP and Border Patrol agents’ ability over the last year to process and remove those in the U.S. illegally.

Total CBP encounters with illegal immigrants at the southwest border totaled nearly 2.5 million since February 2021, Moody notes, with deportations down by 70% last year.

*****

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

Lifting Title 42 Will Mean Fewer Border Patrol Agents in Field

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Border security experts expect the nation will bear the consequences of more illegal immigration whether the Biden administration ends a key public health measure by the end of the month or does it later.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last month that the policy, known as Title 42, would expire May 23. Biden’s Department of Homeland Security has estimated that could mean an influx of 18,000 migrants a day who cross the border illegally.

“There are too many Democrats pushing back, too many Democrats terrified of the consequences, because the [Department of Homeland Security] itself, Biden’s DHS, was predicting a doubling or more of the flow across the border if they lifted Title 42,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Signal in a recent interview.

“But it is going to be lifted at some point,” Krikorian said of Title 42.

Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., are among the most vocal Democrats calling for the Biden administration to keep the public health policy in place.

Title 42 is a provision of a 1944 law meant to stop the spread of communicable diseases. The provision allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take emergency action in March 2020, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, to authorize border authorities to quickly expel illegal immigrants and deny entry to asylum-seekers.

Although the measure hasn’t stopped huge numbers of illegal immigrants from crossing the southern border and immediately claiming asylum, it has made it easier for the Border Patrol to send back illegal aliens.

‘Enormous Pressure From Left’

Once Title 42 is gone, unlawful border crossers will have the right to have their asylum claims adjudicated on American soil.

“Unless Congress intervenes and passes a law saying they can keep it in place and the president signs it, it just seems to me it’s going to have to be lifted at some point because the president is also getting enormous pressure from this hard left,” Krikorian told The Daily Signal.

“When they do that,” he added, “it’s going to be bad news on the border and it’s going to be worse news for the Democratic Party, because the more they keep delaying it, the closer and closer it gets to the election.”

The Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates strict enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws and opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, organized a visit to the border in South Texas last month that The Daily Signal joined.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met Tuesday in Washington with Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.

Mayorkas “spoke of the United States’ whole-of-government strategy to prepare for the CDC’s announced May 23, 2022, end to the exercise of its Title 42 authority,” according to the department’s readout of the meeting.

Expulsions Under Title 42

After the CDC invoked Title 42, the Border Patrol had about 2.9 million encounters with illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border between April 2020 and March 2022, according to a study by Pew Research. March is the most recent month for which such data is available.

About 1.8 million of those encounters, or 61%, resulted in illegal immigrants being expelled under Title 42, according to Pew. The 1.1 million remaining encounters ended with illegal immigrants being detained, at least temporarily, rather than sent back.

Expulsions were based largely on whether the migrants came as families and whether children were involved.

Under the Biden administration, about 88% of the 1.8 million expulsions since 2020 under Title 42 were of single adults, while 11% were families and 1% were unaccompanied minors.

About 60% of those expelled came from Mexico, 15% came from Guatemala, 14% from Honduras, 5% from El Salvador, and 6% from other countries, according to Pew.

COVID-19 isn’t the only public health concern to consider, said Chris Cabrera, spokesman for the union National Border Patrol Council Local 3307, which represents nonsupervisory Border Patrol employees who work in the Rio Grande Valley.

“It’s to the point where everybody I work with, every single person, has had COVID,” Cabrera told a group gathered in Texas for the border tour sponsored by the Center for Immigration Studies.

But, the union spokesman said, some Border Patrol agents have contracted communicable diseases while policing the border that doctors have had trouble diagnosing.

‘Spinning Your Wheels’

If Title 42 ends, it will bring more chaos to the southern border, said Michael Salinas, a retired Border Patrol agent who was on the front lines for 34 years.

“Pretty much, there’s going to be nobody out in the field,” Salinas told The Daily Signal.

“The Border Patrol knows where they’re at,” the veteran agent said of these so-called got-aways. “But if they don’t have access to it because they’re stuck processing or prepping people for transport to processing centers, it takes away from all that. So you’re just spinning your wheels.”

The Center for Immigration Studies’ Krikorian said he expects that Biden and congressional Democrats will try to kick the can down the road, but that it can’t go on forever.

Events may depend on what faction in the Biden administration prevails, he said:

There are two factions in the administration on this immigration issue. They both believe the same thing. In other words, everybody in the administration wants basically amnesty for all the illegals and unlimited immigration in the future, and all that stuff. It’s not really at all a policy dispute, it’s a political dispute.

Krikorian said White House chief of staff Ron Klain and Susan Rice, director of the Domestic Policy Council, are trying to take a more politically acceptable approach to illegal immigration in the short term.

“The people like Ron Klain and Susan Rice, who are at least a little bit more in touch with reality … the point is they’re more cautious politically,” Krikorian said. “But then everybody who’s in charge of immigration policy are radicals. They’re anti-borders radicals.”

*****

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

Cotton: U.S. Army’s Affirmative Action For Women ‘Is Going To Get People Killed’

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Only 52 percent of active-duty enlisted women, compared to 92 percent of the men, were able to pass the Army Combat Fitness Test.

 

It was gratifying to watch Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton questioning Christine Wormuth, the first female Secretary of the Army, at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Sen. Cotton, a Ranger-qualified infantry veteran, respectfully chastised Wormuth for the “fiasco” that the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) has become. For the past three years, the Army has tried but failed to implement “gender-neutral” standards in the new Combat Fitness Test — mainly because of high failure rates among female trainees.

After women in combat rules changed in 2015, the Army designed the ACFT to be sex-neutral, with identical requirements and scoring tables for men and women. The new ACFT would replace the long-standing Army Physical Fitness Test, which was sex-normed with different requirements and scores to allow for male/female physical differences.

At that time, women were not eligible for direct ground combat (infantry) assignments. Now that they are, sex-normed training standards are untenable. There is no sex norming on the battlefield.

Cotton read back to Wormuth her own 2021 testimony promising that the new ACFT would have sex-neutral standards. When former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter ordered all combat positions to be opened for women in 2015, he and the Army’s official Implementation Plan promised that concerns about combat effectiveness would be addressed by “effective leadership” and “gender-neutral standards.”

Dangerous Lowered Standards

Nevertheless, after several versions of the ACFT failed, this year the Army dropped sex neutrality and reinstated sex norming. Secretary Wormuth acknowledged the Army’s stunning reversal, suggesting that the new ACFT was “more challenging.” Cotton responded bluntly: “The new standards are pathetic — They are absolutely pathetic.”

Cotton noted that soldiers qualifying for the infantry will have to do only 10 push-ups instead of 35. He also quoted the Army’s Frequently Asked Questions webpage stating that commanders may not set higher standards for acceptance or retention in a combat unit. “This,” said Cotton, “is going to get people killed.”

The ACFT project, initiated by then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, always was controversial. The previous physical fitness test involved sex-normed sit-ups, push-ups, and a two-mile run that could be done anywhere. The new six-event Combat Fitness Test required expensive equipment, sex- and age-neutral standards, and considerable time to prepare for and administer the test.

Requirements included the leg tuck (pulling the knees up while suspended on a high bar); a 25-meter sprint, drag, and carry of a 90 lb. sled and two 40 lb. kettlebells; throwing a 10-lb. medicine ball backward over the head; hand-release push-ups (lifting hands and arms at the bottom of the push-up); and a two-mile run.

Women struggled with the leg-tuck exercise, and the “age-neutral” standards raised questions. Why should an infantry team leader, a Pentagon-based three-star, and a 125 lb. X-ray technician have to meet identical physical fitness standards?

The original ACFT also tried to match individuals to various occupations with different requirements for heavy, significant, or moderate physical demands. An infantry-bound soldier, for example, had to perform 30 hand-release push-ups to earn a minimum score on that event, compared to 10 push-ups for others headed for less strenuous occupations.

Second and Third Attempts at Revised Test

The experiment started to fall apart in 2019, when 85 percent of female soldiers failed to pass. In response to congressional pressure, ACFT 2.0 allowed the choice of a two-minute plank exercise instead of the leg-tuck, and an optional 2.5 mile walk instead of the 2-mile run.

Version 3.0 of the ACFT contrived a system to evaluate women’s scores in “performance bands” or “tiers” comparing women’s performance to men’s. The top 1 percent of both men and women, for example, would be rated in the Platinum group, even though their performance levels were dramatically different.

Congressionally Ordered Study Reveals Dismal Results

This color-coded “gender-neutral” tiered illusion fooled no one, and failure rates for female and older soldiers remained high. In 2021, a congressionally ordered study of the ACFT was done by RAND, a Defense Department contractor that has long supported leftist policies. RAND gathered data from 630,000 tests, and the results were dismal.

Only 52 percent of active-duty enlisted women, compared to 92 percent of the men, were able to pass the ACFT. Women’s pass rates were higher among officers — 72 percent compared to 96 percent of male officers — but pass rates were lower in the National Guard and Reserves.

RAND also reported that for Regular Army enlisted women, pass rates in the bottom ten military occupational specialties (MOSs), ranged from 31 to 44 percent, and in the top ten, from 65 to 89 percent. In comparison, success rates for enlisted men in the bottom ten MOSs ranged from 83 to 86 percent, and they scored 98 to 100 percent in the top ten MOSs.

Even with several caveats, the empirical data clearly showed that theories about physical gender equality in military combat training were inconsistent with physical realities. RAND cautioned that gender-norming the ACFT would “ensure parity in pass rates between groups, but it would also require the Army to accept differences in potential combat readiness among soldiers who are held to different testing standards.”

Fourth Try at Test

Cotton faults Army officials for accepting that tradeoff. Shortly after the release of the RAND report in March, the Army announced ACFT 4.0, which reneged on previous promises to implement sex-neutral standards.

The new sex-normed test adjusted requirements and scoring tables dropped the leg-tuck event and abandoned attempts to match individuals to heavier jobs with tougher requirements. Like the old Army test, ACFT 4.0 measures basic physical fitness, not readiness for advanced combat training.

Gender-neutral standards did not work in the ACFT, and as we have already seen in the Special Operations Forces Command, “diversity and inclusion” mandates encourage minimal standards, not meritocratic excellence.

A recent Rasmussen poll found that 59 percent of respondents favored women in combat, but even more, 66 percent, said that women should pass the same physical fitness requirements as male soldiers. What if women don’t meet equal standards?

Cotton said he was “disappointed and borderline appalled” by the situation, and he would not allow it to stand. He and Secretary Wormuth were talking about two different things — combat effectiveness on his side and “fairness” to certain “subgroups” on hers. Congress should re-evaluate female combat assignment policies, putting meritocracy and military readiness first.

Elaine Donnelly is President of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy organization that reports on and analyzes military and social issues.

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

FGA Sues Over White House Plan Directing Federal Agencies To Engage in Voting Activities

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Editors’ Note: Americans must not accept this underhanded and unconstitutional manipulation of our voting system and our voting rights. This Executive Order put forth by President Biden (does he even know what he signed as an executive order?) has the fingerprints of none other than Susan Rice – an Obama operative and a classic master of political disinformation (remember the shameful Sunday morning lies told after the Benghazi disaster under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton). Fellow citizens – the Republic is under attack by the radical left, the enemy within, and it very determined to “fundamentally transform the United States of America”. Your activism and your commitment to be involved with appropriate protest and contact with every legislator possible is needed now. Please see The Prickly Pear TAKE ACTION links throughout our publication and get involved. The hour is late and our actions and energies appropriately and lawfully applied and amplified are crucial to saving this grand Republic and the liberty that it protects, for us and for the generations going forward.

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Lawsuit filed after dozens of congressional members’ requests for information go unanswered

The Foundation for Government Accountability sued the Department of Justice after the department ignored its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests about an executive order directing federal agencies to promote “access to voting.”

The Florida-based nonprofit sued in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division.

In March 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing the heads of all federal executive agencies to submit a strategic plan to his Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice within 200 days of issuing the order. The plan would detail their efforts to increase voter registration and voting even though their agencies have no statutory authority to have anything to do with voting.

The order states that obstacles exist for many voters, including long lines, disabilities, “voter identification laws and limited opportunities to vote by mail,” limited access to language assistance, and being denied the “ability to vote privately and independently.”

It states, “Executive departments and agencies … should partner with State, local, Tribal, and territorial election officials to protect and promote the exercise of the right to vote, eliminate discrimination and other barriers to voting, and expand access to voter registration and accurate election information …”

One section of the order urges “federal agencies to take over voter registrations by acting as requesting States’ designated voter registration agency,” the complaint states.

On July 30, 2021, the FGA requested copies of the strategic plans. Eight months, or 240 days later, it had received no documents, it said.

“FOIA requests are meant to provide Americans with transparency and reassurance that governing agencies using taxpayer dollars are acting thoughtfully, lawfully, and in the best interest of the American people,” Stewart Whitson, FGA’s legal director, said. “DOJ’s decision to stonewall our lawful request under FOIA raises grave concerns that the Biden administration may be hiding the full details of these plans from the public and Congress.

“With the mid-term elections mere months away, the American people have a right to know the full details of this unprecedented effort by the president before it is too late,” he added. “FGA will not rest until we get the American people the answers they deserve. If we cannot get those answers through FOIA requests, we will use the power of the courts instead.”

The lawsuit comes four months after several dozen members of Congress expressed alarm about Biden’s order.

It’s “nearly identical to a federal election takeover plan crafted by the radical left-leaning group known as Demos,” they argued. OMB’s OIRA senior counsel, K. Sabeel Rahman, is the former president of Demos, appearing to present a conflict of interest, they said.

Federal law requires agencies to respond to FOIA requests within 20 business days, and sometimes an additional 10, after receiving the request.

To date, the DOJ has provided no documents in response to the FGA’s FOIA requests, it said, prompting the FGA to sue.

In January, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, R-NC, led a congressional coalition raising “serious ethical, legal, and constitutional concerns” about Biden’s order. They wrote to Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, to provide specific information. They received no response.

Biden requiring federal agencies to engage in election-related activities was “a blatant overreach of power and authority,” they argued, pointing to conflicts of interest with Demos.

In March, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., led a second congressional coalition also expressing concerns about the order’s constitutionality, requested information and got no reply.

Davis said that in January, the Small Business Administration announced it was the first federal agency to apply to be a voter agency. Through its district offices, “small business owners and others will have the services they need to ensure their voices are heard at the ballot box and fair representation for their communities,” it said.

But SBA’s mission doesn’t include assisting small businesses with voter registration, the congressional delegation argues, neither does the USDA’s.

They point to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service sending letters to state agencies in March, encouraging them to provide local program operators with promotional materials, including voter registration information. Many receiving food subsidies are low-income non-citizens and non-native English speakers who could receive voter registration information through this initiative, even if by accident.

Non-citizens can also apply for and receive valid driver’s licenses and state IDs. In most states, both driver’s licenses and ID cards are accepted proof of identification to vote. Also in most states, state and local authorities don’t cross-check citizenship status with voter registration and identification, meaning there are few safeguards in place to prevent noncitizens who have driver’s licenses and IDs from registering to vote and voting.

A directive to have federal agencies that have nothing to do with voting and no voter registration oversight encouraging people to vote only creates an opportunity for fraud on a massive scale, and “is only a backdoor plan for Biden to influence elections,” Budd said.

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

Ray Epps Called FBI Tip Line Two Days after Capitol Riot: Report

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Ray Epps, a man some suspect was a federal informant goading the crowd ahead of the Capitol riot despite his denials, reportedly called the FBI tip line two days after the violence upon seeing himself on a list of Jan. 6 suspects.

Investigators were told by Epps that an exchange captured on video showing him whispering into the ear of another man, identified as Ryan Samsel, was Epps attempting to calm Samsel, telling him police outside the Capitol were just doing their jobs before Samsel charged the barricades, people familiar with the call told the New York Times.

Epps, an Arizona man and former Oath Keeper, had been on the FBI’s Capitol Violence Most Wanted list before he was removed without explanation after nearly six months. The New York Times reported in January there was no evidence Epps entered the Capitol on Jan. 6. “We’re holding ground — we’re not trying to get people hurt,” Epps was filmed telling the rioter while standing on restricted Capitol grounds. The report also said Epps committed an offense by entering a restricted part of Capitol grounds but added that the crime “has largely gone unpunished.”

Epps was also seen on video on the night of Jan. 5 urging people to “go into the Capitol.” All this, in addition to his lack of arrest for his involvement in the riot, has fueled speculation among some Republicans that he was an FBI informant tasked with egging on the pro-Trump crowd at the Capitol.

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Continue reading this article at Washington Examiner.