False Flag: ISIS behind Saudi oil strikes on Israeli orders

The attack comes after U.S. President Donald Trump said a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was possible at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. Tehran ruled out talks until sanctions are lifted.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway did not rule out a possible meeting between the two but told “Fox News Sunday” that the strikes “did not help” that prospect.

Western officials working in the region wondered if the attacks might have been carried out by military hard-liners trying to derail Washington-Tehran diplomacy.

The attack on the world’s largest oil processing plant early Saturday morning is a dramatic escalation in the confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia — even if the Iranians didn’t fire the drones or missiles responsible.

Several projectiles struck the Abqaiq plant, starting a series of fires that quickly took out nearly half Saudi’s oil production — 5% of the global daily output — and sparking fears about the security of the world’s oil supplies. It’s unclear when Abqaiq, which is operated by Saudi giant Aramco, will be fully operational again.

The strikes mark an apparent breakdown in Saudi defenses. The kingdom is among the world’s largest buyers of weapons and has Patriot missile batteries in the region of the oil facilities. The U.S. sent hundreds of fresh troops to Saudi Arabia this summer, most of them stationed in Prince Sultan Air Base southeast of Riyadh, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused Pompeo of engaging in deception. He wrote on Twitter: “Having failed at ‘max pressure’, @SecPompeo’s turning to ‘max deceit’ US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory. Blaming Iran won’t end disaster.”

Earlier this year, after several limpet mine attacks on oil tankers in the Sea of Oman that disabled the vessels, the US also accused Iran. But it did not present any conclusive evidence.

Giving no evidence to back up his claims of Iran’s culpability for the drone attacks, Pompeo said: “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks.”

But where did this attack originate and who was behind it?

President Donald Trump discussed easing sanctions on Iran to help secure a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly gathering in New York later this month, Bloomberg reported on September 11.

Both Saudi Arabia and Israel fear that Trump will strike a deal with Iran like Obama did before him. When John Bolton was fired as national security advisor the fear factor went through the roof and Israel sent ISIS to attack Saudi Arabia and blame Iran, in order to halt talks between Trump and Iran.

A source with knowledge of the incident told CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen late Saturday that preliminary indications were the drones/missiles “did not originate from Yemen and likely originated from Iraq.” A second source in the Gulf region told CNN that while there was no proof yet, the indications were that the attack originated in southern Iraq.

The Iraqi government Sunday issued a statement rejecting reports “about its land being used to attack Saudi oil facilities.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry rebuffed on Sunday any suggestion the country was involved. A ministry spokesman called the allegations “akin to the plots hatched by secret and intelligence services for damaging the image of a state to prepare the ground for a series of [hostile] measures in future.”

While not confirming it was behind the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel is prepared to strike at pro-Iranian actors wherever they are considered a threat, including in Iraq.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Assessing the value of the attacked oil facilities, Robert McNally, of US-based Rapidan Energy Group, said: “Abqaiq is perhaps the most critical facility in the world for oil supply. Oil prices will jump on this. If disruption to production is prolonged, a Strategic Petrol Reserves release from International Energy Agency (IEA) members seems both likely and sensible. If anything, the risk of tit-for-tat regional escalation, which pushes oil prices even higher, has just gone up significantly.”

New Saudi minister jokes oil outlook could drive him to Prozac

Abu Dhabi (AFP) – Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman brought some humor to his debut as the kingdom’s new oil minister Monday, joking that the industry outlook could drive him to take Prozac if he took it seriously.

Speaking at an international energy forum in Abu Dhabi where he was the star of the show just a day after being appointed by his father King Salman, the new minister deflected concerns over the health of the energy sector.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) last week lowered its growth forecast for oil demand for 2019 and 2020, blaming the ugly US-China trade dispute which has triggered fears of a global recession.

“If I (am) to be concerned with IEA projections, I’ll probably be on Prozac all the time,” Prince Abdulaziz said with a laugh, referring to the well-known antidepressant.

What does John Bolton’s departure mean for Israel?

WASHINGTON (JTA) — One week before Israelis go to the polls in their country’s second election this year, the Israeli prime minister went on live television with a promise that if re-elected, he is prepared to annex sensitive areas of the West Bank in “maximum coordination” with President Donald Trump. Netanyahu cited the U.S. leader’s “great faith in our friendship.”

Literally minutes later, Trump dropped a bombshell on Twitter with his announcement that he had requested the resignation of one of Israel’s closest allies in the White House and a leading proponent within the administration of a hard line against Iran: National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Worse, Trump said he was dumping Bolton because the two had “strong disagreements” on policy. Worse still, Trump’s secretary of state confirmed that the president was ready to meet with the president of Iran without preconditions.

But there were other tensions closer to Israel’s interests. Bolton has spearheaded American efforts to isolate Iran and pressed for a military response to the downing by Iran of an American drone over the summer — a strike that Trump approved and then abruptly called off.

Then last month, Netanyahu reportedly scrambled to intervene after reports emerged of a possible meeting between Trump and Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, who made a surprise appearance at the G7 meeting in France.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking Tuesday afternoon at a hastily convened news conference to tamp down speculation about Bolton’s firing, said Trump was open to meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the upcoming U.N. General Assembly.

“Sure, the president’s made very clear, he’s prepared to meet with no preconditions,” Pompeo said.

Israelis fear a Trump-Rouhani meeting would play out much like the summits between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in which the president trumpets his closeness with the autocratic leader even as North Korea’s arms testing continues.

On Twitter, Bolton contradicted Trump and insisted he had quit. Pompeo and Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, both took shots at Bolton, with Mnuchin citing Bolton’s backing for the 2003 Iraq War as one of the reasons for his firing — as if that was not evident when Bolton became national security adviser in 2018.

Notably, Bolton got a fond farewell from the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group that has otherwise enthusiastically embraced the Trump presidency in the last year.

“Thank you for your longstanding friendship, moral clarity and passionate defense of America and our allies, especially Israel,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said on Twitter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expects the Trump administration to remain “very, very tough” on Iran after the departure of hawkish former national security adviser John Bolton.

Netanyahu stridently opposed former President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and has boasted he persuaded Trump to withdraw from the pact last year. His bet on Trump has looked more risky in recent weeks, however, as messages emanate from Washington about possible Trump-Rouhani talks at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month.

Israel’s big fear is that Bolton’s departure will be followed by the easing of Washington’s tough sanctions campaign in a bid to entice Iranian leaders to enter negotiations, an Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Trump was prepared to meet Rouhani “with no preconditions.” Asked if he foresees a meeting this month, Pompeo said “sure.”

“It’s bad news for Israel,” said Chuck Freilich, former Israeli deputy national security adviser. “It’s certainly bad news for Bibi as far as Iran goes, for those who take a hard position on Iran,” he added, referring to Netanyahu by his widely used nickname.

“Trump is going to talk with the Iranians over Bibi’s head,” said Israeli political rival Yair Lapid, a leader of the Blue and White centrist bloc, in a Facebook video Tuesday. “It seems this whole legend of Netanyahu’s special ties with Trump is blowing up before our eyes.”

Now that Bolton has been kicked out of the White House, the Israelis again are sad and scared because they lost one of their guys. As Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency himself puts it, “a broader concern for Israel could be the reinforcement of Trump’s isolationist tendencies. Bolton was often seen as agitating for a more robust American military posture, a tendency Trump has resisted. ”

The Neocons and Israelis are also worried because it seems that no one will be able to push for the United States to invade Iran. Bloomberg itself tells us that “Israel Fears Abrupt Trump Reversal on Iran After Bolton Fired.” We are told that “Bolton’s exit delivered a blow to Israel’s policy of isolating and economically clobbering the Islamic Republic.”

Danielle Pletka, a vice president at the American Enterprise Institute (Bolton works there), lamented: “There are people in the president’s inner circle who disagree with American global leadership. There are people inside the White House who think defense spending and foreign aid are money wasted and we should deal with things at home.”

This is strange, isn’t it? How can peace, not war, be a bad deal for Israel?

Well, it is because Benjamin Netanyahu and the entire Israeli Mafia aren’t interested in peace. They are interested in drinking the blood of other people in the Middle East. They are interested in perpetuating lies, fabrications, hoaxes, and just plain deceptions in order to get America and much of the West into another disaster.

Iran has no reason to do this at this time. Countries are currently considering releasing 15-20 billion of credit to help their economy. Iran also had no reason to attack that Japanese oil tanker two months ago, when on that exact day the Japanese Ambassador was in Tehran negotiating an oil deal. In the end, it will be proven that the U.S, Israeli’s and Saudi’s are behind all this, desperate attempts by the Trump administration to get us into a war, before the election.

Read more:

War is extending: Bibi-Trump plot against Iran

Make Israel Great Again: Greater Israel

Saudi Arabia Wants to Fight Iran to the Last American

False Flag: How Obama Armed Syrian Rebels to Set Up an Excuse to Attack Assad

Battle for Idlib, Armageddon coming

Apocalypse Is Here and the Messiah Is Coming

The Underground Resistance Network

I Smoke Two Dabs

By Christopher R Rice, Underground Resistance Network
Support a free press by donating/subscribing here

She was living in a single room with three other individuals, one of them was a male and the other two, well hell, the other two were females. And only Gods knows what they were up to in there. And furthermore Susan, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that all four of them habitually smoked marijuana wax, dabs.

I smoke two dabs in the morning
I smoke two dabs at night
I smoke two dabs in the afternoon
It makes me feel all right.
I smoke two dabs in time of peace
And two in time of war.
I smoke two dabs before I smoke two dabs
And then I smoke two more.

Smoked cigarettes ’til the day she died Toke a big spliff of some good sensimillia
Smoked cigarettes ’til the day she died
Toke a big spliff of some good sensamill…” Easy E were ya ever caught snitchin’?
Hell no!

Daddy he once told me
“Son, you be hard workin’ man”
And momma she once told me
“Son you do the best you can”
but then one day I met a man
Who came to me and said,
“Hard work good and hard work fine
but first take care of head.”
Whoa, rock me tonight
Whoa-oh, Jah say
Ohhhhhh ohhh ohhh ohhhh…

MEXI – CALI

By Christopher R Rice, Underground Resistance Network
Support a free press by donating/subscribing here

Harmony on top of harmony. Turn up the bass. Put your love on hype for this one. This is that in-your-face, underground gangster shit. Get lit. I’ll put you on that dope shit with just one hit. I drop a phat sound and I rock dope beats that scream Cali, Cali, summer days. So leave your drama, your cares and your worries behind and lets blaze, are you down to catch a fade?

I dropped some acid about an hour ago, drank some OJ and Tequila Quervo gold. Hopped on my Schwinn beach cruiser and hit the strand with a 40 and a blunt in my hand. I stopped into Grecko’s to buy me a six foot bong. When I saw the cops go rolling by, I flipped them the bird and put my head phones on. Cali, Cali summer days. So lets leave our drama, our cares and our worries behind and lets blaze, are you down to catch a fade?

Headed to my good friend Rasta’s house, he’s down in the basement making up some incense to sell at the swap meet. Rasta hands me a blunt says help him keep this lit, it’s that sticky icky green shit. One hit and my head begins to swirl, second hit, I can’t even see straight. Cali, Cali summer days. So just leave your drama, your cares and your worries behind and lets blaze, are you still down to catch a fade?

On the way back to the pad I met some chick who pulled down her tube top to show me her butterfly tattoo. I said “wow look at that, would you like to do some E?” and then took her back to my place where she did my whole crew. Woke up the next morning looking for a blunt roach we had smoked the night before. Popped open a Corona and smeared on some lime and salt. Jumped in the Impala and headed to the beach, clouds look like rain so no one’s here but me and this wave. Cali, Cali summer days. You can leave your drama, your cares and your worries behind and lets blaze because I’m down to catch a fade.

Redondo’s got it going on with the girls in the thongs. We keep it bumpin’ in case you were wondering. Ran into my good friend, La Raza, he asked me if I wanted to smoke some DMT, I said sure, what’s that? He said don’t worry you’ll like this it’s a short fifteen minute trip. He put some crystals ontop of the weed pipe and I inhaled, it felt a little something like this…

SOLO (guitar/record scratching)

Cali, Cali summer days. You can leave your drama, your cares and your worries behind and lets blaze, are you still down? To catch a fade?

KNOW NOTHING – DO LESS

By Christopher R Rice, Underground Resistance Network
Support a free press by donating/subscribing here

So now you can tell a book by its cover. You know it all, right? But didn’t you believe in Santa Claus not too long ago? Still not sure about magic, UFO’s, ghost? Thought you knew it all?

Don’t get it twisted. You got me fucked up because you’re on some dumb shit.

For the brothers and the sister who know me, tell ’em who the fuck I am. I ain’t the one who hands out his money honey. I’m the one who chases paper, I stacks that paper. I don’t chase skirts, they chase me. I’m not giving away my dick like the other boys do, I’m selling this man sausage to the highest bidder. I ain’t lying, I’m dead serious. You don’t remember me? I sold your ass when I was two and you was three.

Next time don’t just go and flap your jaw until you’ve done your research because it makes you look like a damn fool. And I ain’t got the time to waste on idiots who don’t even know what they’re talking about, you dig? My favorite colors are black and blue. Who are you? Come here baby girl and help me with my hustle and flow.

Your pussy gives me a thrill, why not take it out on the corner and pay my bills. Just give me money, that’s what I want. That’s what I want. That’s what I want. I collect bitches like other boys collect baseball cards. I got blonde ones, brunettes, tall ones, skinny ones and big ones too. You’ve got to pay me or pay me no never mind. Fuck the game, what’s my mother fucking name?

Don’t get it twisted. You got me fucked up because you’re on some dumb shit.

Shake your head all that you want to but I don’t lie because I don’t have to. Check my record it’s public and if you don’t like what I’ve got to say, you can kick rocks because you won’t be missed. I’ve got two more just like you. Got me a black one, a yellow one and a white one, too. Now what?

You have the audacity to question my authenticity when I’ve got stripes and you’re nothing but a punk ass bitch who ain’t never did shit. Your life is boring, meaningless and trifling so you expect everyone else is the same but I live my life like I’m a rock star. I may not work but my pockets are always bulging. While yours stay empty only filled with lint.

You got me fucked up because you’re on some dumb shit. I got nothing against you though because when you do your research you’re always on point. But when you talk out of your ass you only make yourself look bad.

What I do is too avant-garde for you to understand, call me crazy, call me edgy. And way ahead of the game. Pay attention, take notes but you’ll never see me because I’m always alone. You can look but you can’t see. Blink and I’m gone while you’re saying ‘he went that a way, he went this a way’ but you really don’t know what you’re talking about as usual. Flap your jaw all that you want to but keep my name out of your mouth, you dig? Now dig your own grave because punks like you always end up in my trunk.

But don’t get it wrong, you ladies been nothing but good to me. But while you bounce in and out of the game, I’m here day in and day out, day after day, year after year for decades. I’m the real deal. I bring a phat sound and rock dope beats. While those fake ass bitches be broke down I’m still here on the grind baby, all the time baby. I bring that underground gangster shit. While you’re nothing but a fake ass bitch. Don’t get it twisted. You got me fucked up because you’re on some dumb shit.

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Beat any drug test for free

Dank Vapes Is the “Biggest Conspiracy” in Pot That Can Put You in a Coma

By Emma Betuel

Patrick DeGrave’s brother was still in a medically induced coma in a Wisconsin hospital when he spoke to the local news. Standing before a crew from FOX 6 Milwaukee, he was ready to go public, and the vaporizer cartridge he held up for the cameras was the reason for his brother’s significant heart and lung damage.

The story that aired was also reported on by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the national Fox News website, amongst others. In each story, a black box with a candy-colored logo appeared: Dank Vapes.

Vaping is most commonly associated with companies like JUUL and Blu, which make vaporizer products for nicotine, but the vape cartridge that DeGrave believes is responsible for his brother’s illness — we’re not naming his brother out of respect for his privacy — is something very different.

The vapor product DeGrave showed to reporters was distilled from cannabis. But it was also apparently made by the “company” Dank Vapes — an elusive, black-market brand that’s as tricky to pin down as vapor.

Dank Vapes has a logo. You can buy Dank Vapes T-shirts. Sales of Dank Vapes products can be easily spotted on Twitter or Instagram or Medium. Inverse has reached out to government agencies, accounts claiming to sell Dank Vapes, cannabis labs, and members of the cannabis industry.

They all seem to tell a similar story — that Dank Vapes may be fake. It’s a black-market “brand” that has inspired loyalty online but comes with serious risks.

“They act like a cannabis company, but they actually don’t exist. They’re in the packaging industry,” Mark Hoashi, founder of the Doja app, which is “Yelp for the cannabis industry,” tells Inverse.

“These are just people filling cartridges as ‘Dank Vapes.’ It’s not a singular facility. It’s just people in their garages filling them and selling them.”

Myron Ronay, the CEO of BelCosta Labs, a cannabis testing lab in California, tells Inverse that they often see black-market products that contain unsafe levels of myclobutanil — a fungicide. When myclobutanil is heated, it releases toxic fumes, one of which is hydrogen cyanide. Small amounts of HCN are released when smoking cigarettes, but larger doses are lethal. HCN was a major component of Zyklon-B, the gas used in Nazi gas chambers. Unregulated products, like black-market Dank Vapes, have no one checking to see where that line is drawn.

“That’s one of the most commonly discussed pesticides. That’s definitely one that we see frequently in the underground market,” says Ronay.

DeGrave’s case has sent a ripple through that shadow economy that deals in Dank Vapes. “KEEP THIS IN MIND BUYING ALL THOSE FAKE ASS BLACK MARKET CARTS, DANK VAPES, ALL THAT,” warned Twitter user @cloutpipe, who linked to the news segment about DeGrave. “Watch out with the dank vapes, a lot are fake,” wrote another user, @MarijuanaBlunts.

The myth of the “real” Dank Vapes has allowed hundreds of Dank Vape sellers to get away with selling their unlicensed products to consumers — not all of whom are even aware that Dank Vapes isn’t a single company, but a packaging company, with no quality control or oversight.

Dankbustersofficial, the user behind an Instagram account with nearly 17,000 followers, put it like this to Inverse:

“Dank Vapes is probably the biggest conspiracy in the distillate community.” Those comments might not go far enough. As our reporting has revealed, Dank Vapes is one of the biggest conspiracies in all of marijuana.

There has always been a black market for marijuana, but there are signs that this black market is starting to shift toward manufactured products over marijuana flower products, particularly concentrates. In a 2019 report, Arcview, a cannabis research analytics firm, noted that concentrates have increased from 10 percent of the cannabis market in 2014 to 27 percent in 2019. In 2017, half of those legal US concentrate sales were vape products.

Ian Stewart, a partner at the California law firm Wilson Elser, has covered cannabis product lawsuits for the Cannabis Law Journal. He explains that he’s seeing shifts as well:

“That’s happening every year. We’re seeing flower as an overall share of products go down, and more and more people are embracing manufactured products,” Stewart tells Inverse.

In other words, vaping cannabis concentrates is set to become immensely popular, and there are legitimate, licensed companies ready to capitalize.

There’s also the illegal side: There are “Mario Karts” and “Cereal Carts” (“carts” is short for cartridges). And then there’s Dank Vapes — a mysterious enterprise that claims to be a cut above the rest. Onlinedankvapesshop.com, a website which claims to sell “real” Dank Vapes, offers this sales pitch: “Although many of these products seem aesthetically similar at first glance, there are many nuances that distinguish them from one another. With Dank Vapes taking the ranks (sic) of premium.”

People who claim to sell “premium” Dank Vapes go out of their way to make their products appear legitimate, even to people who are buying them in states where cannabis is illegal. One website, dankvapecartridges.org, markets its Dank Vapes products as “recommended by doctors,” and they claimed to be in partnership with Digamma Consulting — a cannabis consulting firm that connects licensed manufacturers with licensed labs.

But when Inverse brought these claims to Digamma’s attention, they explained, “We are not aware of Dank Vapes brand and have not spoken with anyone claiming to represent them.”

On Instagram, there are at least 22 accounts under the name Dank Vapes. One of them, the purported “real” Dank Vapes account, is @dankvapesla, which has almost 48,000 followers. (@dankvapesla did not respond to Inverse’s request for comment.) The rest of the accounts range from a few dozen followers to a couple thousand.

One cannabis product reviewer, a 32-year-old who declined to give his name, is the host of the Stay High Stay Humble podcast. He tells Inverse that Dank Vapes still has a powerful allure, despite the fact that it doesn’t appear to make anything other than colorful boxes.

“So many people decided to copy the brand because it is so popular worldwide, and a lot of people are obsessed with the packaging itself,” says the podcaster who goes by the handle “hallinsco” on social media.

“The Dank Vapes brand will continue to get bigger and grow more in illegal states. They are cheaper, and even in legal states where legal meds are taxed very high, some people still prefer the cheaper options on the black market.”

A glance at Dank Vapes packaging makes it clear what kind of consumer they’re going after. A typical Dank Vapes box has holographic images sporting cartoon characters and flavors like “Fruity Pebbles,” “Mars OG,” and “Chemdog.” Each would be equally at home in a head shop or a teenager’s bedroom.

“It’s really popular with high school kids,” Hoashi says. “It’s unfortunate, but the high schools are flooded with the illicit stuff. It’s just the reality, that kids smoke weed, and these cartridges are just a popular way to smoke weed these days.”

On June 18, Doja’s Instagram and Facebook accounts ran a photo of a Dank Vape packaging alongside a test result from BelCosta Labs showing that it tested positive for the fungicide fenhexamid. That Dank Vape was taken off a high school kid in Southern California.

Anyone claiming to be the “real” Dank Vapes has quite the PR situation on their hands.

When DeGrave showed that Dank Vape box to the world, he roped them into a serious medical incident that resulted in at least one hospitalization.

One Twitter account that claims to be the real Dank Vapes is @DankVapesOil (846 followers as of the time of this writing), which describes itself as “the ONLY official #DankVapes Account.” So Inverse reached out to the user behind the account about it. (They wouldn’t provide a name but said they’re based in California.) Inverse spoke to @DankVapesOil over Twitter, but the account has since been deleted.

“Well the main problem is where this occurred. Our products are not available anywhere outside of California, mainly Los Angeles. So anything purchased in any other state is somebody illegally making counterfeit pens, probably out of cheap oil, then purchasing counterfeit boxes online, and simply saying that they’re real,” @DankVapesOil tells Inverse.

“We try to change boxes and things like that, but the counterfeiters are always one close step behind.”

It turns out to be very hard to back up the claim that you’re the “real” Dank Vapes. When Inverse asked @DankVapesOil to show proof that they were the real Dank Vapes, they first responded: “lol. What kind of proof do you want.”

@DankVapesOil makes a good point: It is absurdly easy to get your hands on a Dank Vapes branded box or cartridge which you can then fill with whatever you’d like.

“If you go down to downtown LA, there’s this whole counterfeiting area for cannabis cartridges and goods. They just have a big binder of packing that you can buy,” says Hoashi.

But you don’t even need to be in California. You can become a Dank Vape dealer from the comfort of your own home.

Five-hundred Dank Vapes boxes sell for about $180 on Amazon. Within days, Inverse had a package of 30 delivered. There, laid out in our newsroom, were all those famous flavors, from Jet OG to Chemdog, that nearly all boasted THC concentrations of above 90 percent.

There was also the “Rose Gold” flavor — the one that supposedly put DeGrave’s brother in the hospital.

That word “counterfeiter” implies that somewhere out there, there’s the “real” Dank Vapes who are being repeatedly ripped off. But there is no one person who can truly claim that title, at least legally. California is a state with a robust, mandatory licensing system that has led the way for the weed industry. But evidence of Dank Vapes is nowhere to be found in both industry and legal channels.

A search of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control licenses turned up no licenses for Dank Vapes. A spokesperson confirmed to Inverse that there were no listings for Dank Vapes.

The California Cannabis Industry Association told Inverse they weren’t familiar with the company when we sent them photos of Dank Vapes packaging.

That said, there is one government office that has heard of Dank Vapes.

Both Dank Vapes and Dankwoods (a company rumored to be related to Dank Vapes) have trademarks filed with the US Patent and Trademark office for a standard character mark that can be sold on T-shirts, sweaters, or hats. That logo matches the one that DeGrave showed to the local fox affiliate and the branding on Dank Vapes sellers online.

They’re both registered to the same name: Jake Lindsey. The trademark was filed in January 2019, but the marks have been used in commerce way earlier. For Dank Vapes, the listing says it was first used in commerce in January 2018.

Inverse has repeatedly reached out to the number listed on the trademark listing. Each time, it rang four times before going to an automated answering machine that gave no name or additional contact information. We left a message and will update this story if and when we hear back.

Inverse also reached out to the California Attorney General’s office to see if it intended to investigate this black market, as the trademark is registered in the state and all signs point to this poisonous black market stemming from the state across the country. We will update this story if the office offers a response.

When Inverse asked the person behind the Instagram account @DankVapesOil why they’re different from a “fake” Dank Vapes, they explained that what makes the “reals” different from the “fakes” is that they don’t cut their products with other chemicals. In essence, when it comes to the Dank Vapes world, “real” is supposed to be synonymous with “clean.” But you just have to take the seller’s word for it — Dank Vapes boxes, filled by whoever can get their hands on them, are no guarantee that a product is consistently clean. Here’s @dankbustersofficial:

“I’ve heard lots of stories and skepticisms, but nothing is really confirmed about Dank Vapes except that the ‘real ones’ and the ‘fake ones’ have all been tested dirty for multiple pesticides, and some for heavy metals as well,” they say.

The only way to tell if a product is really clean is to get results from a cannabis testing lab. But because Dank Vapes isn’t a legally licensed brand, it is not overseen by the government, which demands rigorous testing in California. That’s why hallinsco, the podcaster, decided to avoid them, despite their cool flavors and cheap prices.

“Dank Vapes is already a black-market brand that’s untested & no one knows what’s mixed in the distillate. That’s why I decided to stop buying danks and stick with companies that provide test results,” he says.

But not everyone is such a discerning consumer. Especially in illegal states, the line between products like Dank Vapes and actual licensed and tested companies can be easily obscured — especially when the illegal brands that have large social followings claim to be based in a legal state (California) and have slick packaging.

That’s why lab results have become the currency of “dankbusters” — social media accounts that try to expose counterfeiters who are knocking off real, licensed companies. But they also call out Dank Vapes dealers, some of whom are cutting their carts with chemicals and shipping them country-wide to people who may or may not know the risks they’re taking.

BUSTED

People get into dank busting for many different reasons. Dankbustersofficial has felt the consequences of tainted products personally. The user behind the Instagram account explains they had been using black-market vapes for around six or seven months, mostly due to the low costs. At the time, they say that danks went for as cheap as $13 each.

“I was using black-market products because of cost effectiveness and ultimately was harming myself in doing so,” they say. “I started having shortness of breath regularly, along with heart palpitations and headaches.”

Around that time, dankbustersofficial says there was another dankbuster in the game, who now goes by @datdude41510 on Instagram. But that’s a new account. When datdude’s first account was deleted, he claims to have had over 42,000 followers. This new account has over 9,800. On the r/oilpens subreddit, where the legitimacy of Dank Vapes (the brand) is often a point of contention, one user praised the dankbuster like this: “That dude is a hero.” Now, there’s more than one dankbuster in the game, from datdude to dankbustersofficial to @dankbusta, another account with 15,000 followers.

Dankbustersofficial adds that lab results are “more than necessary because there are serious harmful things in some of these products.” Although these licensed labs work mostly with cannabis companies, there are lab results for Dank Vapes floating around the internet, too. Dankbustersofficial has posted them, as have niche sites like internationalhighlife.com.

Dankbusters are typically anonymous. But there are also more public facing attempts to clean up the illicit market. Hoashi and the Doja app is one example. Since Hoashi started the Doja app two years ago, he explains that his mission has pivoted toward exposing tainted vape cartridges and building awareness of the risks of buying them.

“So what we do is we go out to illicit markets out in California, so called “seshes” which are kind of like farmers markets, and I just buy cartridges and I send them to a state certified lab, and I try to educate people about the dangers,” he explains. “Right now, we’re really pushing this initiative where we’re trying to create awareness of the illicit market.”

BelCosta Labs is the third party that Hoashi sends these results to, and he’s developed a close working relationship with Ronay — who adds that anyone who sees any of these lab results online can call their lab and they’ll verify if they’re legitimate. Hoashi hopes that when people see lab results for cartridges that show clear contamination with pesticides or heavy metals, they may be dissuaded from buying cartridges from fake companies.

That’s why he posts lab results on social media. His account has over 24,000 followers.

“It’s beneficial to try to spread awareness,” Ronay says of the lab results posted online. “But we’re still so far away from those people that are buying product at illicit stores. Probably in California, they don’t even know. I’ve heard of underground market and illicit marketplaces that are charging people taxes, and they often can look like a normal legal dispensary, but they’re actually a black market store.”

Occasionally, a Dank Vape will appear to pass a lab test (or at least appear to online). But even a clean result for one flavor of Dank Vape means little when there are hundreds of people filling the same package with different concentrate. There’s no one overseeing the quality control of a brand like Dank Vapes, so what’s inside each package is a mystery even if the box looks the same.

It only gets harder to tell the difference when you’re ordering in a non-legal state. A licensed dispensary won’t ship to a state where cannabis is illegal, but these fake brands claim to ship “discretely” across state lines.

I placed an order for 20 Dank Vapes cartridges to be delivered to my New York City apartment. Within hours, I got a text message seeking payment and a confirmation email. In other words, this Dank Vape dealer (who assured me that all the Danks were real) had no problems at least saying they would ship across state lines.

In other words, the black market is both incredibly easy and cheap — so consumers are made to make a tantalizing decision. Because of cases like DeGrave’s and the online warnings of other Dank Vapers, they know it comes with risks.

Unwilling to gamble (too much) with their own health, they’re turning to dankbusters’ accounts for help. For instance, in March 2019, hallinsco made a “real” versus “fake” Dank Vapes video that has more than 500,000 views. In it, he walks through three seemingly identical Dank Vapes branded packages.

“I get a lot of emails & inboxes on Instagram from people in the United States, Canada, & the UK with concerns about Dank Vapes they have recently purchased,” he tells Inverse. “A few people have thanked me for saving their life because they had bad reactions to ‘fake’ Dank Vapes.”

Even dankbusters are wary of cartridges sold inside a Dank Vapes box. The market is teeming with counterfeit products that provide low-cost alternatives for people easily fooled by a good knockoff.

“If they don’t have enough options [at a dispensary] they will return to the black/gray markets, and we see that happen every day here,” says dankbustersofficial.

But one of the big issues with keeping people in the legal market is cost. When the marijuana industry is legalized in a state, it comes with a tax. Every state structures that tax slightly differently. For instance, Washington implements a 37 percent sales tax on marijuana and California takes 15 percent on cannabis and cannabis-derived products. Those rates drive up prices, which is one reason people turn to illegal stuff. In January, the Associated Pressreported that some estimates suggested 80 percent of marijuana sales still remained “under the table,” despite legalization.

As more states consider legalizing a cannabis industry, there are new numbers being thrown around. In New Jersey, a proposed bill to legalize adult marijuana use in the state cited one of the lowest tax rates in the country at 10 percent. But that low tax rate also inspired pushback from legislators

“I think [for] the East Coast states that’s a real debate right now,” Stewart says. “It takes time to grapple with the appropriate tax rates to strike a balance between revenues versus keeping people in the illicit market.”

For now, cases like that of Patrick DeGrave’s brother still send shockwaves through the strange, unregulated world filled with cartridges of mystery chemicals sold in boxes branded “Dank Vapes.”

Odds are, even if new taxation schemes are drawn up, people will still turn to the black market anyway, no matter the risks posed to their own health. Of that, at least one dankbuster is sure.

“It will never be fixed,” says dankbusta. “That’s the black market for ya.”

Related:
How to:
PCP
DMT
Codeine and Barbiturates
Crystal meth
Crack cocaine
Heroin
Magic Mushrooms
Molly/MDMA/E
China White: Fentanyl or Heroin
Beat any drug test for free

Black-market THC-vape operation busted in Wisconsin, police say

By Beth Mole, ArsTechnica

Authorities in Wisconsin say they’ve busted an alleged large-scale operation making tens of thousands of bootleg THC-containing vape products. Authorities seized over $1.5 million worth of THC product from a single residence late last week.

In a press conference Wednesday, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department announced that local authorities made the bust after serving “knock and announce” search warrants at two locations in the county. At one property, police seized approximately 31,200 vape cartridges, each filled with 1 gram of oil containing tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC, the psycho-active ingredient in cannabis). They also seized 98,000 unfilled vape cartridges, 57 Mason jars filled with approximately 1,616 ounces of refined liquid THC, and approximately eighteen pounds of marijuana.

Police are holding Tyler T. Huffhines, 20, on several charges, including possession with intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver more than 10,000 grams of cannabis product. Authorities also arrested his brother, Jacob D. Huffhines, 23, for cocaine and firearm possession.

According to a report by local news outlet Kenosha News, Tyler Huffhines had 10 employees who manufactured and processed THC while assembling and packaging vape cartridges.

Kenosha Country Sheriff David Beth told reporters that the employees filled cartridges with syringes loaded from jars labeled as containing THC oil. They filled the cartridges with 1 gram (1,000 milligrams) of THC oil, though they were labeled as containing just 5 milligrams of THC oil.

Huffhines reportedly paid his employees 30¢ per cartridge, which were packaged to look professional, according to Kenosha County assistant district attorney Andrew Burgoyne. The outfit filled 3,000 to 5,000 cartridges a day, each of which sold for $16.

The bust comes as federal agencies and authorities in 33 states—including Wisconsin— investigate an abrupt rash of severe lung illnesses that have been linked to vaping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tallied 450 possible cases and six deaths nationwide. As of September 5, Wisconsin reports 34 cases, with 12 others under investigation and no deaths.

Sgt. Chris Hannah, Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department’s Public Information Officer, told Ars Wednesday that the bust of the bootleg operation was not tipped off by any products or information from the lung illness investigation. It’s unclear if any of those sickened used the products, but “it’s still an open investigation at this time,” Sgt. Hannah said. He anticipated being in touch with the state’s health department and investigators over the issue. He added that the department did not yet know what was in the cartridges besides THC. Toxicology testing is pending, Sgt. Hannah said.

A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services told Ars only that “Our disease detectives are working to gather information about the substances and products used in connection with the cases of lung disease linked to vaping.” They referred other questions back to Kenosha County law enforcement.

No single product or ingredient has yet been linked to all the cases or proven to cause the illnesses, which generally involve shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss. But investigators have largely focused on contaminants in counterfeit and black-market products. Many of the cases (but not all) also link to THC-containing products.

Last week, investigators in New York reported they had linked the oily additive vitamin E acetate in THC-containing products to many of the cases in the state. “At least one vitamin E acetate containing vape product has been linked to each patient who submitted a product for testing,” the department said in a statement. Many of the products were black market counterfeits, the department added.

Huffhines—who previously received media attention for running a successful business selling athletic shoes online as an 18-year-old high school student—is scheduled to appear in court Friday.

Related:
How to:
PCP
DMT
Codeine and Barbiturates
Crystal meth
Crack cocaine
Heroin
Magic Mushrooms
Molly/MDMA/E
China White: Fentanyl or Heroin
Beat any drug test for free

Church leaders held homeless people captive, forced them to go begging and stole their benefits, court documents say

Christian ministry leaders allegedly forced a group of homeless people to beg, kept them in locked group homes and threatened to take away their children if they left, prosecutors said.

Victor Gonzalez and eleven other leaders of Imperial Valley Ministries (IVM) were charged on Tuesday with subjecting dozens of homeless people to forced labour.

They also face charges of conspiracy, document servitude and benefits fraud.

The ministry is based in California but has around 30 affiliated churches throughout the US and Mexico.

IVM also operates five group homes in southern California.

“The indictment alleges an appalling abuse of power by church officials who preyed on vulnerable homeless people with promises of a warm bed and meals,” said Robert Brewer, US attorney for the southern district of California.

“These victims were held captive, stripped of their humble financial means, their identification, their freedom and their dignity.”

IVM allegedly induced people to enter the homes with promises of free food and shelter.

Participants were assured they would be given resources to eventually return home.

Officials suspect IVM leaders of forcing homeless people to beg for nine hours a day, six days a week.

The leaders would later take the money gathered.

Pastors also allegedly forced residents to surrender their belongings and documentation and locked them in their rooms.

They also stole residents’ welfare benefits and food stamps, prosecutors said.

In some cases people were told that if they left, the ministry would take away their children.

“Human trafficking robs victims of their most basic human rights,” said Scott Brunner, an FBI Special Agent.

“Victims of human trafficking are often unseen by society, left pleading in silence.

“Today, the FBI is proud to break up the labour trafficking alleged to have been committed by the leaders of Imperial Valley Ministries in Imperial Valley and San Diego”.

A list of IVM rules includes a ban on leaving the house alone, a ban on communication with family members and a ban on making phone calls.

“You are not to discuss things of the world,” the list states.

“If receiving any income, 10 per cent will go to tithes, 30 per cent to the home…and the rest will be put away for you by the director.”

Residents were told to have five minute showers and “at no time” to lock the bathroom doors.

They were limited to two meals a day and banned from keeping food in their rooms.

“None of the above rules apply to the pastor or his family,” the list adds.

A diabetic resident was refused medicine and food for low blood sugar, prosecutors said.

The indictment alleges that a second woman was refused treatment for a prolapsed uterus.

Prosecutors said that windows at some of the homes were nailed shut, leading one 17-year-old to break a window to escape.

The teenager ran to a neighboring property and called the police.

“This is the most significant labor trafficking prosecution in this district in many years,” Mr Brewer said.

“These cases are few and far between because many victims live in captivity and fear, powerless to report the crimes against them.”

Imperial Valley Ministries has declined to comment on the indictment.

EDITORS NOTE: For decades, the poor have diligently lodged their complaints only to watch the worst of the worst promoted and given raises. Shuffled around from parish to parish to protect the guilty. The ‘family values’ crowd, the religious right, the holier than thou or whatever the fuck they want to call themselves today are the most corrupt, deviant and sadistic hypocrites to ever walk the face of this earth. Christians smile in your face while stabbing you in your back. From slavery, enhanced interrogations to this mass mind rape, their only God is money. The church is God’s enemy and yours too, if you know what is good for you.

Want more?

Woman arrested in prostitution sting offered sex act for Taco Bell

One In Five American Children Go Hungry and are Malnourished

War on Poverty FAILURE

Homeless U.S. Veterans

2.5 million homeless children in America today

40% of homeless have jobs

Arizona state trooper arrested on 61 counts of sex abuse, kidnapping and harassment

PHOENIX – An Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper was arrested Tuesday on 61 criminal counts stemming from an ongoing pattern of offering leniency to women he pulled over in exchange for sexual favors, officials said.

Tremaine Jackson, a 13-year department veteran who most recently worked in the Metro Motors Division, is facing charges that include sexual abuse, attempted sexual assault, unlawful sexual conduct, sexual extortion, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, harassment, fraud and tampering with public records, DPS officials said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. 

“When one of our own betrays public trust or breaks the law, we respond swiftly and without regret,” said the DPS director, Col. Frank Milstead.

Jackson, who was fired from his job, was arrested Tuesday.

Jackson initially was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in early June during a traffic stop and was placed on administrative leave, Milstead said. An investigation into Jackson’s conduct was launched immediately afterward, leading to eight other women who were victimized by Jackson, he said.

Officials believe that Jackson was giving leniency to women he stopped for traffic violations in exchange for sexual favors. He also would detain the women even if they weren’t facing any criminal offense, effectively holding them hostage, the DPS said.

Jackson also is suspected of falsifying department citations and worksheets.

Milstead did not disclose further details because the investigation is still ongoing.

Jackson was was expected to be booked into the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail Tuesday.

Authorities believe there are more victims who have yet to come forward. 

“I implore anyone who has had contact with Trooper Jackson, who may have been affected by contact with him, who may have been victimized either through commentary or through physical action by Trooper Jackson, to please come forward and let us know about your inappropriate experience,” Milstead said.

The DPS hotline is (602) 223-2389. The department has also set up an online complaint form specifically for victims to get in contact with detectives, which can be found at azdps.gov/Jackson.

EDITORS NOTE: For decades the poor have reported police abuse, robbery and corruption only to fall on deaf ears. The poor in America were accused of being criminals which also meant liars by the very system which promised to ‘protect and serve’ us. We were told that we were trying to ‘game the system.’ While the super rich were allowed to rape and plunder and buy off judges and DA’s and corrupt our whole political system. And then we were told that we had no legitimate reason to protest, that black lives did not matter and that we would be run over by the super rich in the streets, fired by our bosses and blacklisted if we dared to complain. Now the cops are completely and totally out of control and are raping our daughters and our wives (see story above). The truth of the matter is that the police do not, have not and will never ‘protect and serve’ us. In reality, the police are the private army of the super rich. There is no justice in America, it’s all been a pack of lies.

Read more:

Homeless U.S. Veterans

Child homelessness in U.S. hit all-time high in recent years, new report says

2.5 million homeless children in America today

40% of homeless have jobs – vets homeless too

Revealed: The shocking amount of resources needed to make products such as mobile phones, coffee and T-shirts

The sheer scale of the resources used to make everyday products such as coffee and T-shirts – often in parts of the world where the environment is under strain – is laid bare in a new report, showing that 240 gallons of water is needed to make a smartphone.

The “resource footprint” report, commissioned by Friends of the Earth, finds that water and land use can be reduced considerably when companies consider the environment in their manufacturing processes. But all too often, it says, producers pay scant regard to the strain they are putting on crucial resources, putting extra stress on an environment that is already stretched to the limit.

“The snug fit of that phone in your pocket or the crumpled heap of boots in the corner masks the breathtaking amounts of land and water required to make our favorite products,” said Friends of the Earth’s resource use campaigner Julian Kirby. “The good news is that armed with land and water footprint information, companies can redesign products and business models, to save cash and tread more lightly on the Earth.”

The Water Footprint Assessment Tool is a free online web application that provides clear insight into how water is appropriated for human uses and the impacts resulting from those uses.

The research is the most thorough to be conducted into the footprint of everyday items. It looks at how much land is used as well as the amount of water – which it breaks down into three types: blue (freshwater), green (rainwater) and grey (water lost to pollution).

How Big Is Your Water Footprint? You’ll Be Surprised

Check out the calculator here.

GRACE Communications Foundation built the new Water Footprint Calculator to help people figure out how much water they use through a series of simple questions about their daily routines. The calculator accounts for not just how much water we use from the tap, but also the water it takes to produce the food we eat, the energy we use and the products we buy. This is called “virtual water,” and it is by far the biggest part of our water footprint.

The almond and its surprisingly large water footprint (one gallon – per nut!), has recently become the poster child for virtual water, but this world of hidden water is far bigger than thirsty almond groves. Consider these surprising numbers on the unseen water in everyday items:

  • A single avocado uses 60 gallons of water to grow
  • One cell phone takes 240 gallons to manufacture
  • It takes 713 gallons to produce one cotton t-shirt
  • A hamburger uses 660 gallons of water to make
  • One gallon of gasoline takes three-to-six gallons of water to produce

We need to think of the big picture and in creative ways. Choosing pasture-raised instead of industrially produced meat, for example, will support farmers who don’t rely largely on feed grains irrigated with limited groundwater or surface water supplies. Investing in energy efficiency or even renewable energy at home will help reduce our need for water-dependent power plants. Avoiding “fast fashion” clothing brands and instead buying vintage or well-made and long-lasting pieces will reduce how much water is required to grow cotton and manufacture your clothes.

Water is indeed everywhere, but it is also needed to do just about anything. The important first step that we can all take right now is to find out how much water we really use. The daily choices we make to waste less water today, whether directly through the tap or virtually through our food, energy and shopping habits, can help us make sure that there’s enough for all of us now and in the future.

To learn about the water footprint of production for your country or others, go to the Water Footprint Assessment tool. To calculate your own personal water footprint (of consumption) try the Personal water footprint calculator.

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Trump’s War on the Environment

Trump’s trade war has killed 300,000 jobs

President Trump says he is “winning big time, against China.” But his trade war is causing measurable damage to the U.S. economy, with the pain likely to worsen.

Forecasting firm Moody’s Analytics estimates that Trump’s trade war with China has already reduced U.S. employment by 300,000 jobs, compared with likely employment levels absent the trade war. That’s a combination of jobs eliminated by firms struggling with tariffs and other elements of the trade war, and jobs that would have been created but haven’t because of reduced economic activity.

The firm’s chief economist, Mark Zandi, told Yahoo Finance that the job toll from the trade war will hit about 450,000 by the end of the year, if there’s no change in policy. By the end of 2020, the trade war will have killed 900,000 jobs, on its current course. The hardest-hit sectors are manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and retail.

Other data back up the Moody’s Analytics numbers. Employers have created 1.3 million jobs so far this year, down from 1.9 million during the same period in 2018. The manufacturing sector has actually contracted, with many producers struggling with higher prices caused by Trump’s tariffs. Business investment is growing by the smallest amount since late 2016.

Beginning last year, Trump has hiked tariffs on about half of all imports from China. The average tariff on Chinese imports has risen from 3.1% before Trump got tariff-happy, to 21.2% now, according to Chad Bown of the Petersen Institute for International Economics. Those are taxes paid by American importers, who do their best to pass the added cost on to their own customers. Sometimes they can’t, and have to absorb the tariffs as a higher cost that lowers profits. And sometimes they can force their Chinese vendors to lower prices, to help offset the higher cost of the tariffs.

On Sept. 1, Trump imposed a 15% tariff for the first time on finished consumer goods imported from China, including clothing, shoes, appliances and food. A similar tariff is due to go into effect Dec. 15 on a deeper set of consumer goods, including electronics and smartphones. At that point, the average tariff would have risen to 24.3% and Trump would have hiked taxes on virtually everything imported from China.

An ‘escalation’ scenario

China has done the same to American exports, and simply refused to buy some American products, such as agricultural goods. Negotiators will restart trade talks soon, but many analysts are skeptical of a deal between two egocentric presidents insistent on saving face. “We remain skeptical that [Chinese President] Xi will be willing to accept any deal, even one that is limited in scope, with Trump going forward,” Beacon Policy Advisors told clients recently.

Trump is in denial, if his public comments are any indication. He says repeatedly, and falsely, that China is paying the tariffs, rather than Americans. He says the economy is doing great even though it’s clearly slowing down. Growth is only around 1.6% at the moment, and it could slow to 1% or worse by the end of the year.

Nobody knows where the trade war is headed. Moody’s Analytics examined an “escalation” scenario with even higher tariffs and other trade hostilities between China and the United States. The Federal Reserve tries to intervene by rapidly cutting interest rates to zero, but there’s still a deep recession in the U.S. and Europe. In a de-escalation scenario, Trump makes a deal with China by the end of 2019 and gradually removes the existing tariffs. The economy stabilizes and stocks rally.

Many investors assume Trump has no choice but to hammer out a trade deal with China, because his reelection depends on it. But many of those same investors thought there’d be a trade deal by now, and never foresaw Trump going as far as taxing consumer imports. The key factor may be whether Trump believes his own fictitious spin, or can actually see the harm his trade war is causing.

Trump’s Economic Miracle

Bloomberg: Trump claims that he’s presiding over the strongest economy ever. The growth is debt-based. By Shawn Tully, Richard Wolffe

As a candidate, Donald Trump said he could eliminate the national debt in eight years, largely by focusing on better trade deals. But in office, Trump has presided over a considerable increase in red ink, with annual deficits expected to surpass $1 trillion as soon as 2019.

Total debt outstanding is now approaching $22 trillion.

Even the prayer people are happy to set aside their morals. They know that Trump’s kind of magical thinking is precisely what the world needs right now, otherwise everybody would get very upset at the way the planet is warming, the threat of nuclear war, and the global refugee crisis. Right now we obviously need the kind of leader who is completely ignorant about the consequences, and just lives in the moment.

The economy is, in fact, expanding pretty fast –- but not necessarily for the reasons Trump said it would. The president promised to squeeze more American growth out of businesses and foreigners. Instead it’s the government, deploying its balance sheet via deficit-spending, that’s doing the work.

Citing numbers spinning out of the USDebtClock.org website, the U.S.’s unfunded liabilities are $122 trillion — or six times GDP.

Prolific sales of junk bonds and significant growth in investment grade corporate debt, coupled with the Federal Reserve weaning the market off quantitative easing, have resulted in “an ocean of debt.”

1.) TOURISM:

TheGuardian: Interest in travel to the US has “fallen off a cliff” since Donald Trump’s election, according to travel companies who have reported a significant drop in flight searches and bookings since his inauguration and controversial travel ban.

Data released this week by travel search engine Kayak reported a 58% decline in searches for flights to Tampa and Orlando from the UK, and a 52% decline in searches for Miami. Searches for San Diego were also down 43%, Las Vegas by 36% and Los Angeles 32%.

It is the latest in a string of reports from the travel industry that suggests a “Trump slump”, with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) estimating that since being elected President Trump has cost the US travel industry $185m in lost revenue

2.) AMAZON:

Esquire: This One Trump Tweet Cost Amazon $5.7 Billion By Olivia Ovenden

The Independent reports that, “Amazon’s shares lost 1.2 per cent of their value in two hours of pre-market trading after Mr Trump’s comments.

The swipe comes after Trump’s criticism of Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post in a separate holding company. In 2015 Trump accused the newspaper of being a tax shelter to reduce Amazon’s tax bill.

Amazon.com have announced they will add over 50,000 jobs in America to help with customer orders and have pointed out that they collect state sale taxes (as brick and mortar retailers are obliged to) in 45 states.
Perhaps a little rich coming from the POTUS whose tax returns we are still yet to see.

3.) TAX CUTS:

VanityFair: “It’s a Ponzi Scheme”: Wall Street Fears Trump’s Deranged Tax Plan Could Kick Off Economic Euthanasia By William Cohan

Elimination of the deductibility of state and local taxes. That is obviously a cynical, politically motivated ploy on Donald Trump’s part to penalize voters who didn’t vote for him (for good reason) in high-tax blue states, such as New York and California, and to give a benefit to the red-state voters who did vote for him. (I get it, elections have consequences.) Eliminating the deductibility of state and local taxes is an incredibly divisive plan.

It’s leading to another housing crisis.

The National Association of Realtors commissioned a recent study that shows that the elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes will result in a decrease in home valuations of between 10 percent and 17 percent.

Wait, there’s more. Trump’s tax cuts of course do not pay for themselves. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it will add around $1.5 trillion to the federal debt over 10 years.

It’s a sugar high that extended the market rally temporarily, but has deepened the rot in our economic cavity.

4.) FARMERS:

Newsweek: Donald Trump’s Trade Wars Have Cost Nebraska Farmers Over $1 Billion and Counting, Farm Bureau Says By Jason Hall

Farmers in the Cornhusker State have lost more than $1 billion in revenue due to the retaliatory tariffs as foreign customers decline to pay higher prices for goods, according to a new report issued by the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“Retaliatory tariffs make our U.S. products more expensive for international customers, meaning they buy less or buy from someplace else,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said in a press release. “This report provides a clear picture of how much we’ve lost due to those tariffs and the need to improve our trade relations.”

President Trump continues to praise the imposed tariffs, claiming they have benefited American steel interests and denied the notion that they have created problems for the U.S. automobile industry.

“The total loss in Nebraska farm revenues due to the retaliatory tariffs ranges from $695 million to $1.026 billion so far in 2018,” Rempe said. “That’s roughly 11 to 16 percent of the export values of Nebraska agriculture goods in 2017.”

“To put a $1.2 billion loss into perspective, every person in the state of Nebraska would need to contribute $632 to cover that volume of lost dollars,” Rempe said. “That’s a significant hit to our state’s economy.”

ModernFarmer: Trump’s Renewal of Cuba Embargo Cost Farmers $125 Million Annually By Dan Nosowitz

Trump’s embargo essentially takes Cuba off the table for American agricultural exports, and many of the country’s biggest trade groups have spoken out against it.

Trump has not been notable for prioritizing the agricultural industry, either during the campaign (when he gave only a single policy speech about agriculture) or as president (he took months to even bother appointing a USDA secretary). But actions to curb trade for one of the country’s biggest industries – even aside from the geopolitical and human rights problems with a Cuban embargo – is unexpected. Is this just one more piece of evidence that farmers could not be further from the top of Trump’s priority list?

Newsweek: Taxpayers Will Pay for $12 Billion in Aid to Farmers to Cover Losses Caused by Trump’s Tariffs By Nicole Goodkind

The Trump administration announced Tuesday a $12 billion emergency aid package for farmers caught in the middle of his ongoing and escalating trade wars with China, Europe, Canada and Mexico.

The White House will use a Depression-era program called Commodity Credit Corporation which allows the administration to borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department in order to protect farmers’ incomes without Congressional approval.

Farmers are being hit hard by Trump’s trade war. Corn and soybean crop prices have dropped dramatically since the U.S. began implementing new tariffs on its allies. Pork farmers, who typically export pig hoofs and heads to China, have also been hit after China added a 50 percent tariff on the animal parts.

5.) TARIFFS:

AutoNews: How my president’s tariffs would cripple my company — and U.S. manufacturing By Mary Buchzeiger

I am a business owner, a proud Republican and a voter who supports President Donald Trump’s campaign to level U.S. trade imbalances.

I am also angry, frustrated and a little scared, because the unintended consequences of the president’s $50 billion tariffs on China will cripple my business in Auburn Hills, Mich., and strip my 50 employees of their good-paying jobs.

Newsmax: US Business Group: Trump’s China Tariffs Cost $1.4 Billion a Month

A coalition of U.S. business groups fighting President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs has launched an advertisement aimed at telling voters ahead of the midterm elections that the measures are costing American businesses and consumers $1.4 billion a month.

The group, which branded itself “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland,” crunched tariff payment data by state and nationally and provided the findings first to Reuters.

“These tariffs are taxes on American businesses and consumers,” said group spokeswoman Angela Hofmann. “They aren’t paid by other countries. They are paid here at home.”

The business coalition includes groups representing some of the nation’s largest companies, including members of the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association. Among groups to join are the American Petroleum Institute, which represents major oil companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents retail chains like Target and Autozone.

DailySignal: Trump Tariffs Cost 5 Jobs for Single Job Gained, Analysis Finds By Fred Lucas

The job losses will be direct and indirect, as price hikes will hit American companies that buy international steel to make screws, wires, and machines, Laura M. Baughman, president of the Trade Partnership, said during a Heritage Foundation event.

The Trade Partnership anticipates a net loss of 146,000 U.S. jobs, Baughman said.

The tariffs will increase U.S. employment for the iron and steel sector—mainly for aluminum, according to the Trade Partnership study.

However, the consumer price hikes and price increases for business will cost 179,334 American jobs for the rest of the economy.

There would be more than 36,000 American jobs lost in the manufacturing sectors, including a loss of more than 12,000 jobs for fabricated metals, more than 5,000 lost for motor vehicles and parts, and more than 2,100 in transportation equipment makers, according to the report.

Small business will be the hardest hit, said Vanessa P. Sciarra, a vice president with the National Foreign Trade Council.

6.) SHUTDOWN:

Refinery29: She Lost Her Job In The Shutdown. Now She Has A Message For Trump. By Natalie Gontcharova 

As an active National Air Traffic Controllers’ Union member, Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik said she’s deeply honored to be able to speak up on her colleagues’ behalf. During the shutdown, her job was deemed non-essential, and her husband’s workload increased to make up for the furloughed staff. Neither of them were receiving paychecks.

Her husband, a Navy veteran who is also an air traffic controller, worked without pay.

Because of the nature of air traffic controllers’ jobs, shutdown-related stress had the added layer of being a risk to people’s safety. “Every single day the shutdown continued, the system was a lot less safe than the day before,” Pesiri-Dybvik said.

Quartz: The US government shutdown cost Booz Allen Hamilton $20 million in revenue By Justin Rohrlich

Booz Allen Hamilton, the Virginia consulting firm and defense contractor that Bloomberg once called “the world’s most profitable spy operation,” suffered a $20 million hit to revenue in the recent quarter, as a result of the recent US government shutdown.

“It’s hard to say…whether we’ll completely make it up,” chief financial officer Lloyd Howell told analysts on a Feb. 1 earnings call, adding that the company “aspire[s] to get back on track as quickly as possible.”

Howell also said Booz Allen is dealing with a $100 million reduction in operating cash flow because of the shutdown—the impact of stalled receivables he is “very confident” the firm will collect, including a $30 million tax refund from the now-reopened IRS.

More than 97% of Booz Allen’s revenue comes from government contracts, and 69% of its workforce holds a security clearance. The company’s total revenue for the full fiscal 2018 year was $6.2 billion.

USA Today: Donald Trump jeopardizes national security By Karen Hobert Flynn

Donald J Trump has stepped all over the men and women who sacrifice their lives for our nation. Add that his treatment of General Mattis is a shame. If he won’t listen to our intelligence and our military, who will he listen to?

U.S. intelligence officials alerted the country that China and Russia are working together to challenge U.S. leadership. Whereas Trump has indicated that we are headed for peace with North Korea, U.S. intelligence officials reported that North Korea isn’t giving up nuclear weapons.

Intelligence leaders have not identified a security crisis at the U.S. border, even as the president has said that he is considering an emergency declaration forcing the military to build his border wall.

Intelligence has warned that the Islamic State is capable of attacking America despite Trump’s declaration that ISIS has been defeated.

Lastly, U.S. officials have said that Iran is actually not trying to build a nuclear weapon in violation of an international agreement with the United States, which is the opposite of what the Trump administration has stated and then walked back.

One read of these circumstances is that Trump wishes to be allies with the very countries U.S. intelligence is most concerned about. Whether the president wishes to acknowledge it or not, U.S. intelligence has made it clear that the U.S. role in the world is on the cusp of being seriously challenged. He is making us less safe.

7.) TRAVEL:

NBC: President Trump’s travel costs now total over $13 million, right-leaning Judicial Watch reports By Ali Montag

The total cost of President Donald Trump’s travel expenses — including trips to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and Bedminster, N.J. golf club — has now surpassed $13.5 million, according to a report by Judical Watch.

Through Freedom of Information Act requests, the conservative watchdog group accessed documents from the U.S. Department of the Air Force. Those data show that the president’s non-official travel to rallies and vacations have cost $3.2 million alone since June of 2017.

All told, the president has amassed $13,533,937.28 in total first-year travel costs, the organization found.

8.) DEREGULATION:

AP Trump rollbacks for fossil fuel industries carry steep cost

As the Trump administration rolls back environmental and safety rules for the energy sector, government projections show billions of dollars in savings reaped by companies will come at a steep cost: more premature deaths and illnesses from air pollution, a jump in climate-warming emissions and more severe derailments of trains carrying explosive fuels.
The Associated Press analyzed 11 major rules targeted for repeal or relaxation under Trump, using the administration’s own estimates to tally how its actions would boost businesses and harm society.

The AP identified up to $11.6 billion in potential future savings for companies that extract, burn and transport fossil fuels. Industry windfalls of billions of dollars more could come from a freeze in vehicle efficiency standards that will yield an estimated 79 billion-gallon (300 million-liter) increase in fuel consumption.

On the opposite side of the government’s ledger, buried in thousands of pages of analyses, are the “social costs” of rolling back the regulations. Among them:

— Up to 1,400 additional premature deaths annually due to the pending repeal of a rule to cut coal plant pollution.

— An increase in greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 billion tons (907 million metric tons) from vehicles produced over the next decade — a figure equivalent to annual emissions of almost 200 million vehicles.

— Increased risk of water contamination from a drilling technique known as “fracking.”

— Fewer safety checks to prevent offshore oil spills.

For the Trump administration and its supporters, the rule changes examined by AP mark a much-needed pivot away from heavy regulations that threatened to hold back the Republican president’s goal of increasing U.S. energy production. But the AP’s findings also underscore the administration’s willingness to put company profits ahead of safety considerations and pollution effects.

In another instance, the Environmental Protection Agency wants to stop considering secondary benefits of controlling mercury emissions — namely reductions in other pollutants projected to prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths.

Last month, the AP revealed that the administration understated the advantages of installing better brakes on trains carrying crude oil and ethanol. Transportation Department officials acknowledged they miscalculated potential benefits by up to $117 million because they failed to include some projected future derailments.

Trump’s administration has stressed that savings for companies were greater than any increased perils to safety or the environment.

Critics say the impact on public health and the environment will be even worse than projected.

“I don’t think it’s well understood what the death toll of these policies will be for the American people,” said Paul Billings, of the American Lung Association.

9.) ECONOMY:

NYPost: Goldman Sachs: Trump’s tax cuts could cause recession By Kevin Dugan

A large part of the problem is debt. The Trump’s policies, from huge tax breaks to unprecedented mass deportations, cost a lot.

Also expanding military spending and border patrols outlays, that will not be financed and will add to the government’s already large debt. That will crowd out other economic activity and raise interest rates.

President Trump’s $1.4 trillion tax cut will have painful consequences for the economy down the road — including a recession and a ballooning deficit, according to Goldman Sachs. 

“The US fiscal outlook is not good,” Goldman’s chief economist Jan Hatzius said.

Goldman doesn’t believe that Congress is likely to do anything about the runaway deficits “in the near-term,” thanks to the election cycle.

The Wall Street powerhouse — whose former president Gary Cohn helped engineer the tax package as the White House economic adviser — dismissed economic projections by the Congressional Budget Office as too “optimistic,” and said that the deficit could spike by about 2.5 times, to $2.05 trillion.

10.) HOMELESS:

MercuryNews: Trump cost California’s Republican Party — big time By George Skeltob

The crucial misstep for the Republican losers was voting for Trump’s tax cuts — which actually were tax hikes for many of their constituents — and to kill popular Obamacare.

We’re actually in trouble in California. The homeless population is going through the roof, we’ve got the highest poverty rate in the country.

Look at the two biggest policy initiatives of his presidency.

By forcing borrowing costs up, the Trump deficit contributes to rising interest rates. That makes it much harder for working families to buy homes.

Indeed, the $5 trillion that President Donald Trump said his tax cuts would bring back into the country has, according to the Wall Street Journal, been more like $143 billion so far – or 97 percent short of his stated goal. Which is why it should be no surprise that the investment boom all this money was supposed to set off hasn’t materialized either.

Republicans were quite open about the fact that they had to cut corporate taxes or their moneymen would cut them off. “The financial contributions will stop,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., bluntly put it, if they let their tax bill get derailed like their health-care plan had.

BANKRUPTING AMERICA: The daily security costs for Trump Tower alone are estimated to be between $127,000 and $146,000, or roughly $50 million per year.

Trump’s decision to charge the Secret Service $60,000 for the use of Mar-a-Lago golf carts is a direct transfer of money from the public to the Trumps’ pockets.

The president is wasting the taxpayer’s money at a time when the country is too broke to properly fix health care, repair infrastructure, reform the tax system, adequately educate children, appropriately fund research, and, yes, even build Trump’s wall.

Six decades of deceitful accounting by both parties are to blame.

DRAINING THE SWAMP:

• The pro-democracy rhetoric is still dutifully spouted by politicians and mass-media mouthpieces, but in practice the US is no longer a democracy. It has been turned into a lobbyist’s paradise in which the lobbyists are no longer confined to the lobby but have installed themselves in congressional offices and are drafting prodigious quantities of legislation to suit the private interests of corporations and oligarchs. Nor is the American penchant for democracy traceable in the support the US lavishes on dictatorships around the world or in its increasing tendency to enact and enforce extraterritorial laws without international consent.

• Laissez-faire capitalism is also very much dead, supplanted by crony capitalism nurtured by a thorough melding of Washington and Wall Street elites. Private enterprise is no longer free but concentrated in a handful of giant corporations while about a third of the employed population in the US works in the public sector. The US Department of Defense is the largest single employer in the country as well as in the whole world. About 100 million of working-age able-bodied Americans do not work. Most of the rest work in service jobs, producing nothing durable. An increasing number of people is holding onto a precarious livelihood by working sporadic gigs. The whole system is fueled—including parts of it that actually produce the fuel, such as the fracking industry—by debt. No sane person, if asked to provide a workable description of capitalism, would come up with such a derelict scheme.

• Free trade was talked up until very recently, if not actually implemented. Unimpeded trade over great distances is the sine qua non of all empires, the US empire included. In the past, warships and the threat of occupation were used to force countries, such as Japan, to open themselves up to international trade. Quite recently, the Obama administration was quite active in its attempts to push through various transoceanic partnerships, but none of them have succeeded. And now Trump has set about wrecking what free trade there was by a combination of sanctions and tariffs, in a misguided attempt to rekindle America’s lost greatness by turning inward. Along the way, sanctions on the use of the US dollar in international trade, especially with key energy exporting nations such as Iran and Venezuela, are accelerating the process by which the US dollar is being dethroned as the world’s reserve currency, demolishing America’s exorbitant privilege of endless money-printing.

The US military is still huge, but it is quite flaccid. It is no longer able to field a ground force of any size and confines itself to aerial bombardment, training and arming of “moderate terrorists” and mercenaries, and pointless steaming about the oceans. None of the recent military adventures have resulted in anything resembling peace on terms that the American planners had originally envisioned or have ever considered desirable: Afghanistan has been turned into a terrorist incubator and a heroin factory; Iraq has been absorbed into a continuous Shia crescent that now runs from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

US military bases are still found throughout the world. They were meant to project American power over both hemispheres of the globe, but they have been largely neutralized by the advent of new long-range precision weapons, potent air defense technology and electronic warfare wizardry. These numerous “lily pads,” as they are sometimes called, are the opposite of military assets: they are useless but expensive targets located in places that are hard to defend but easy for potential adversaries to attack. They can only be used for pretend-combat, and the endless series of military training exercises, such as the ones in the Baltic statelets, right on the Russian border, or the ones in South Korea, that are meant to be provocative.

Around the world, the US is still loathed, but it is feared less and less: a fatal trend for an empire. But America has done quite well in militarizing its local police departments, so that when the time comes it will be ready to go to war… against itself.

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