By Jeff Childers
Good morning, and Happy Monday, C&C! It’s a new week, and your roundup today includes: another FDA failure ends in historic fines and disgrace; loony price caps in Europe to “fight” inflation; Pentagon’s “accounting error” is good news for Ukraine, bad news for military inventories — but IS IT an error?; Kim Dotcom whistleblower adds stuffing to Biden terrorism theory; Chuck Todd pans the FBI; Rolling Stone reports Fox layoffs; and the Wall Street Journal exposes itself as a grotesque Bill Gates apologist.
🗞💬 *WORLD NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 💬🗞
🔥 Last week, the New York Times ran a story headlined, “Oxford University Removes Sackler Name From Buildings.” The subheadline explained, “The elite British university has become the latest in a long series of institutions to publicly distance themselves from the family because of some of its members’ ties to the opioid crisis.”
The Sacklers own Purdue Pharmaceutical, maker of the safe and effective, Food and Drug Administration-approved painkiller Oxycontin. The CDC attributed half a million deaths to Oxy-related overdoses in the ten years between 1999 and 2019.
Thank goodness for big government and crack protective agencies like the FDA.
In March, a court approved a $6 billion dollar settlement with the Sackler clan — the largest such penalty to date — in exchange for a complete release from civil liability. The settlement was significant because late last year — before eight U.S. state Attorneys General objected to the deal, the DoJ had asked the court to approve a much-lower $4 billion settlement that would have released the Sacklers from both civil AND criminal liability.
In addition to being $2 billion more, the current settlement also bans the Sacklers from the opioid industry and, together with Purdue, requires them to publicly disclose over 30 million documents, including some that were previously withheld as attorney-client privileged. Purdue Pharmaceutical will have to be dissolved or sold by next year (2024).
The settlement gained preliminary approval on March 9th from a U.S. bankruptcy judge, but in a twist, it had to be approved over the newly-discovered objections of the DoJ and twenty other states — none of whom had objected to the previous cheaper, sweeter deal. Presiding Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain called the settlement an “extraordinary” improvement on previous deals with the Sacklers, and he blasted the U.S Department of Justice as “reprehensible” for its continued opposition.
The DoJ and the 20 objecting states have appealed the court’s approval, now arguing that the liability protections in the new deal — which are much reduced from the ones originally supported by the DoJ — are broader than the bankruptcy court’s authority.
All this legal wrangling is quite fascinating, of course, and it makes the DoJ look as corrupt as everybody thinks it is, but how come nobody’s talking about the FDA, which was the captured agency that originally approved the drug? A drug that has addicted and killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, if not more? When will we start considering the FDA’s role in these epic disasters?
Good drugs can’t get approved. But criminally bad drugs get approved without a peep from regulators and wind up killing or maiming lots of people. This can’t possibly be what we originally had in mind.
📈 The Financial Times ran a story this weekend headlined, “Europe’s Politicians Impose Price Caps to Address Soaring Food Costs.” The subheadline explained, “High inflation sparks return of controversial measure that retailers say forces them to sell at a loss.”
It’s never going to work.
The Financial Times began the story this way:
Europe’s retailers and governments are locked in their fiercest tussle over food costs for 50 years, with policymakers resorting to price controls to tackle the worst cost of living crisis for a generation… “We haven’t had price controls in a general pattern in the western world since the 1970s,” said Lars Jonung, a Swedish economist and expert on the controversial caps.
When you see references to ’70’s economic policy, think Jimmy Carter, the second-worst president in U.S. history (Joe Biden having made Carter look like a scratched-at-the-post non-starter.) Next, remember that all this inflation was caused by Western governments taking advantage of the pandemic’s crisis to print money to fund every stupid idea they ever had.
Now they are dealing with the inevitable consequences.
Price controls are very attractive to politicians grappling with the early stages of hyperinflation. Price controls are easy to implement, they look effective, at least at first they do, and are usually popular with an increasingly desperate public because they seem to provide immediate relief.
If a country’s current crop of leaders are ones with low IQs, the kind of zany, colorful politicians that get elected/selected during good times, then inflation and price controls are bound to surface somewhere.
Price controls are central planning at its best, or worst, depending on how you look at it. The central planners, who never created anything in their lives, or ever planned anything using their own money, think they know what every good and service should cost better than the market does.
Setting fair prices is easy! You just need a strong government to put those greedy capitalists and opportunists in their places and — voilá! — the ailing economy will cough itself into new life, and start running smoothly and efficiently for the benefit of the people.
But you knew there was a catch coming.
The problem is with the law of supply and demand. Consider that title. It’s a “law.” We have a ‘theory’ of evolution, a ‘theory’ of gravity, and a ‘theory’ of relativity, but there is a LAW of supply and demand. It’s a law, because you can’t break it without going straight to economic jail.
One of the first provisions in the law of supply and demand is, when planners fix prices, citizens experience scarcity. In other words, when governments mandate low profits in one area of the economy, producers take their money out of that area, and invest it in other, more attractive areas.
So, if profits on carrots fall too low, because sales prices are fixed, people will just invest their money in bitcoin instead of growing carrots, and there won’t be any more carrots to buy. It’s that simple.
After price controls start, scarcity doesn’t dally, and according to the Financial Times, scarcity is already showing up:
Nora, a 32-year-old mother of three in Budapest, said it was “nice” that price controls had made products such as whole milk cheaper. But she noted that supermarkets had started limiting purchases, meaning she had to visit multiple stores or go shopping every day to take advantage.
See? The reporter knew it, too. They just weren’t allowed to come right out and say it.
Eventually scarcity will become a much bigger problem than inflation. Scarcity literally starves citizens. At that point, governments face even less attractive options than price controls: they can remove price controls and issue a new, de-valued currency to stop a gigantic post-control pricing spike, or they can nationalize key industries like agriculture, housing, and other life essentials.
Nationalizing means taking those industries over and running them as a government service. But government is much less efficient than the private sector, so after nationalization, citizens will have to deal with scarcity anyway, plus lower quality, and worst, there’s nobody to sue when somebody dies after eating an unwashed, wormy apple with dangerous pesticide on it, because you can’t sue the government.
🚀 Last Thursday, the AP ran a story headlined, “$3 Billion Accounting Error Means Pentagon Can Send More Weapons to Ukraine.”
There’s a lot of good material in this story about the Pentagon’s crack-addled accountants, and how they slipped a few decimals like everyone does from time to time, but the fact is: this was no mistake. Like mafia accountants, what the Pentagon’s accountants did was go back and re-value all the weapons that have been sent to Ukraine so far at a lower “current value” (who knows) versus the weapons’ replacement value (what they paid for it).
Here’s how the Pentagon explained their brilliant idea that nobody ever thought of before:
“During our regular oversight process of presidential drawdown packages, the Department discovered inconsistencies in equipment valuation for Ukraine. In some cases, ‘replacement cost’ rather than ‘net book value’ was used, therefore overestimating the value of the equipment drawn down from U.S. stocks,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh.
Book value is what’s left after you depreciate the asset. And, it won’t just be $3 billion, either. They aren’t done re-calculating:
A defense official said the Pentagon is still trying to determine exactly how much the total surplus will be. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the comptroller has asked the military services to review all previous Ukraine aid packages using the proper cost figures. The result, said the official, will be that the department will have more available funding authority to use as the Ukraine offensive nears.
Here’s a simple example: Let’s say Nancy Pelosi tells you to go ahead and take $20 worth of ice cream from her freezer, and hands you her last shopping receipt. You can see from the receipt that it means you can only take a single pint of the special Swiss bourbon-cherry ice cream that Nancy likes. But then you say, hold on a minute, that ice cream is in a fridge. It lost value the moment Nancy’s butler loaded it in the Towncar. You figure Nancy would have to sell the unopened pints on Craigslist as used, for only $5 each.
So instead of just one pint, you grab yourself four pints, two of the Swiss bourbon-cherry plus two of the Argentinian sustainable-chocolate variety.
That’s exactly what the Pentagon is doing, except they’re grabbing F-16s, Patriot missile batteries, and cruise missiles.
Instead of pointing out the Pentagon’s kleptocratic creative accounting, corporate media is framing it as a slapstick narrative, a goofy “accounting error” or a silly mixup or something. You know, the million-dollar-toilet seat kind of thing.
Don’t buy it. They’re crooks, a thousand times worse than tax evaders, stealing from our military inventory, that’s all. Call it what it is.
🚀 This weekend, German media personality Kim Dotcom tweeted a fascinating anonymous report that he received from an anonymous “whistleblower,” who says he helped develop DoD software that helps soldiers practice rigging an undersea pipeline with explosives. Who knows if it’s true, but the description also credibly walks through all the radar data showing an extremely sketchy collection of US ships and helicopters coincidentally sailing right by the pipelines at the time of both ‘accidents.’
If you’re a Nordstream-watcher, you probably want to read it:
🔥 Fallout from the Durham report continued over the weekend. The next clip is from none less than NBC’s woke Meet the Press moderator, Chuck Todd. Surprisingly, Todd flatly condemned the FBI:
Trust in the FBI is eroding left and right … It feels like we’re in the moment that we need a real Church Committee…like when the J. Edgar Hoover FBI clearly was no longer helping the American people, there was a moment — this feels like we might be in one of those moments…
We’ll keep watching this story unfold. But I’m thinking that we may need to organize another letters-to-the-editor campaign. Start sharpening your pencils.
📉 Rolling Stone ran a story Friday headlined, “Fox News Just Axed Its Investigative Unit, Sources Say.” The subheadline explains, “More layoffs could still be on the way as the network tries to cut costs following its settlement with Dominion, insiders tell Rolling Stone.”
The article reports that, following its $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, Fox has now dissolved its investigative unit. What would a modern news network need investigative reporters for anyways?
“The rank and file journalists are getting let go. Meanwhile, upper management are sitting pretty while they are the execs responsible for the Dominion debacle,” one Fox employee told Rolling Stone. “We are the sacrificial lambs.”
The New York Daily News contested the Rolling Stone article, saying the investigative unit was not ‘eliminated,’ but was merely ‘reorganized.’ An un-named Fox News source told the Daily News, “There were three employees in the seven-person unit impacted, while four employees were offered different positions within the company.”
Since shuttering Carlson’s show — for reasons still unknown — the network has slid in the ratings, badly, even losing out to left-wing outlet MSNBC for the first time in anyone’s memory.
In a tweet acknowledging the ratings decline, Megyn Kelly wrote, “My audience is calling them Foxweiser” — a reference to the significant decline in sales of Bud Light following its recent disastrous collaboration with cross-dresser Dylan Mulvaney, who identifies as a nine-year-old girl.
On Friday’s podcast, Megyn shared the latest alarming news about Fox’s plummeting ratings, estimating that the network was only “left with about a third of their audience.”
“I mean, that’s stunning,” Megyn said.
Get woke, go broke: The iron law of media.
🔥 The Wall Street Journal ran another Epstein exposé over the weekend featuring Bill Gates. It’s a limited hanging that slyly tries to whitewash Gates’ relationship with Epstein. Do not fall for it.
The exclusive article was headlined, “Jeffrey Epstein Appeared to Threaten Bill Gates Over Microsoft Co-Founder’s Affair With Russian Bridge Player.”
According to the literally unbelievable article, Bill Gates has secretly been a lifelong Bridge fan. By ‘Bridge,’ I mean the long, boring, complicated card game (sorry Bridge players). For some reason, somehow, Gates has kept his love of Bridge a complete secret until now.
That’s only unbelievable fact number one.
The official story is: Gates’ passion for playing cards (plus the narrative’s script-writers) inexorably led him to twenty-year old Mila Antonova, a fresh-faced young Russian girl attending a 2010 Bridge tournament. When Gates revealed his secret passion for Bridge to Mila, the two instantly bonded over their mutual love of the game, and various kinds of adult relations ensued.
Seriously though, it’s laughable the twenty-year-old was attracted to creepy Bill Gates, who was 55 at the time, out of a mutual love of cards. The whole story is fantastically ridiculous and literally unbelievable, yet for some reason the Journal reported it as straight news, without a hint of doubt or even a single mild sarcastic remark.
Then, somehow — the Wall Street Journal never says, and appears completely uncurious about this remarkable aspect of the story — Mila ALSO ran into Jeffrey Epstein somewhere. The Journal portrays it as totally unremarkable, since young Russian Bridge aficionados often run into billionaries. The article offers some complicated one-sentence explanation about a Serbian fashion designer and “Gates confidant” who knew Epstein and brokered Mila’s introduction or something. Wait, what? Who are all these high-flying people and how are they connected to a poor Russian Bridge player?
Don’t ask the WSJ.
Gates and “confidante and key advisor,” Serbian fashion designer Boris Nikolic. ‘Boris.’
And then Epstein — for NO REASON that the Wall Street Journal is the least bit curious about — paid for Mila’s college, out of the pure goodness of his heart. Or maybe it was some other part of his body. The article variously mentions that: the young lady also stayed in Epstein’s Manhattan apartments, visited his townhouse, and asked Jeffrey for money (“seed capital”) to make some Bridge software. Uh huh.
So, Epstein and Mila were just friends. Plus Epstein also probably loved Bridge, just like Bill. If you believe any of that hogwash.
Which brings us to the WSJ’s Gates-wash. The Journal triumphantly revealed its key evidence: a 2017 email where Epstein asked Gates to pay him back for Mila’s college fees. Taking an incredible leap of journalistic intuition, without any evidence, the Wall Street Journal concluded that Epstein must have been blackmailing Gates over the billionaire’s dalliance with Bridge expert Mila.
There’s nothing explicitly threatening in the email, was was not included with the article, except that the Journal called the email’s “tone” threatening. Meanwhile, throughout the article, the WSJ slyly praised Gates, titling him as “one of the world’s biggest philanthropists,” suggesting at another point Gates was being considered for a Nobel Peace Prize, and spinning saccharine stories about the billionaire’s tender childhood (“he learned to play bridge from his parents, and the card game became one of his favorite hobbies”).
The Journal reported all that secondhand hearsay as FACTS. Meaning, the newspaper didn’t more accurately say “Gates SAID his parents taught him bridge.” None of this sounds like real journalism, at all, not even by low standards these days.
So here’s what I think. This whole recent series of Wall Street Journal “exclusives” on Jeffrey Epstein has been written by a very expensive public relations firm working for Bill Gates, all building up to THIS big reveal. The complicated narrative is supposed to make Gates look like one of Epstein’s victims. “Oh, Jeffrey Epstein was just blackmailing Bill over a little dalliance he had with a 20-year old card shark. It wasn’t his fault. You can’t blame him.” They want you to believe Bill DEFINITELY wasn’t involved in all that shady underaged child sex trafficking Jeffrey was up to, oh no.
The article never once mentioned Gates’ repeated visits to Little Saint James, Epstein’s extra-jurisdictional sex island.
Do not buy any of this limited-hangout nonsense. And, shame on you, Wall Street Journal. Do better.
I’m all out of time. Have a magnificent Monday! I’ll be back tomorrow to try to catch up with all the news with another exciting and informative roundup.
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© 2022, Jeff Childers, all rights reserved
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.