Mid-May Monkey Business

Mid-May Monkey Business

Mid-May Monkey Business 


Protests Continue to Grow at UCLA as Crackdown Takes Place at University of Texas

Pro-Palestinian protests have been escalating on campuses across the United States, leading to law enforcement intervention. At the University of Texas - Dallas, over a dozen protesters were arrested as police dismantled an encampment at “The Gaza Liberation Plaza”. The protesters aimed to pressure the university to divest from five defense industry companies linked to Israel. In response, school administrators threatened suspension or expulsion. Similar protests have occurred at Columbia University and CUNY City College of New York. At the University of California in Los Angeles, violent confrontations between protesters and counter-protesters led to the cancellation of classes and a shift to online activities. Criticism has been directed at UCLA administrators for their perceived delayed and lax response to the protests. These incidents reflect a broader trend of anti-Israel sentiment on U.S. campuses. 

Columbia’s Hamilton Hall Stormed by NYPD to Remove Pro-Hamas Protesters

On Tuesday, Columbia University’s campus was swarmed by a large number of New York Police Department (NYPD) officers. The university had granted the NYPD permission to enter and regain control after pro-Hamas extremists illegally occupied a building. The police, equipped with helmets, zip ties, and riot shields, gathered outside Hamilton Hall. They used a heavily armored vehicle with a deployed ladder to enter the building through an upstairs window. NBC News reported that law enforcement made dozens of arrests, removed multiple barricades, and nearly cleared the entire building in a short time. There were no reported injuries to police, students, or faculty. Columbia University President Minouche Shafik, in a letter to the NYPD, stated that the school believes outside extremists were largely responsible for the incident. She noted that while students were part of the group that broke into the building, it was led by individuals not affiliated with the university. CBS New York reporter Ali Bauman posted that New York City Hall sources have evidence that the wife of a known terrorist is among the protestors on campus. The post went viral before being deleted. 

Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian Protesters Join in ‘F*** Joe Biden’ Chants

Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel protesters at the University of Alabama chanted against President Joe Biden. The protesters, including students and faculty, demanded a ceasefire in Gaza, severance of ties with Lockheed Martin, and transparency in the university’s investments. Nationwide campus protests have erupted against Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which has resulted in over 34,000 Palestinian deaths. Inspired by a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” at Columbia University, similar encampments have appeared across the country, leading to police interventions and mass arrests. Clashes have occurred between pro-Palestinian protesters and pro-Israel counter-protesters. While Israel and its supporters label the protests as antisemitic, organizers, including Jewish students, argue they are peacefully protesting the war. Biden, a staunch supporter of Israel, has remained silent on the protests and police crackdowns since his last public remarks condemning “antisemitic protests” and expressing concern for Palestinians. The White House has condemned antisemitism but refrained from criticizing universities’ handling of the protests. The protests and crackdowns, occurring in an election year, raise questions about Biden’s support among young voters.  

Georgia Erupts in Protest as Parliament Passes ‘Foreign Influence’ Bill 

Protests erupted in Tbilisi, Georgia, against the government's "transparency of foreign influence" bill, with demonstrators attempting to besiege parliament. Security forces intervened, using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. Protesters expressed opposition to the bill, which passed a second vote in the General Assembly earlier that day. The bill, presented by the ruling Georgian Dream Party, aims to regulate funding for civil society organizations, requiring those receiving over 20% of funds from abroad to register as "foreign agents." Critics, including President Salome Zurabishvili, allege the bill was influenced by Russia and demand its cancellation. The bill's reintroduction sparked renewed protests, leading to clashes among parliament members and street demonstrations. Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze defends the bill, emphasizing transparency in NGO operations. Despite ongoing opposition, the bill has advanced through parliament, prompting further public outcry and calls for its withdrawal. 

Poll Suggests 41% of Americans Think Civil War Likely by 2029, Sooner Some Say

Recent revelations about Democratic megadonors funding Marxist groups have shocked Americans, fueling concerns of widespread chaos reminiscent of 'BLM-style' riots. Citizens observe the nation spiraling into disorder, attributing it to progressive policies and lax border control. Alarmingly, Marxist ideologies propagated on college campuses by paid protesters hint at a potential revolution aiming for socialist reconstruction. With smartphones and TVs keeping Americans informed, the looming threat of summer riots intensifies fears of an impending civil war. A Rasmussen Reports survey reflects this unease, with 41% worried about a civil war within five years. However, nearly half of respondents remain skeptical, highlighting the nation's divided sentiments. The FBI's muted response raises suspicions, suggesting alternative motives amid heightened political tensions leading up to the upcoming elections. As chaos looms, Americans brace for uncertain times while questioning the trajectory of their nation's future. 

Polls State Germans Reject Muslim Immigration, Fear Becoming a ‘Minority in Germany’

The latest survey in Germany reveals significant concerns and attitudes toward immigration and integration. A majority, 52 percent, agree that Germany should generally stop accepting refugees from Islamic countries, while 57 percent feel that certain areas of their towns or villages no longer resemble Germany. Additionally, 54 percent fear Germans will become a minority in their own country. Notably, 45 percent support the idea of the Great Replacement theory, which suggests Europeans are gradually being replaced by immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. The survey also highlights perceived racism against Whites, with 65 percent agreeing that it exists in Germany. A strong majority, 58 percent, believe that migrants have not integrated well. Furthermore, 75 percent feel that current migration is overburdening the German school system, exacerbating existing issues such as classroom overcrowding and violence. These sentiments coincide with a rise in support for anti-immigration parties like the Alternative for Germany (AfD), reflecting a broader shift in public opinion regarding immigration policies and their consequences. 

Amid Fears of Russian Attack, Germany Mulls Drafting 18-Year-Olds

Germany is contemplating reintroducing compulsory military service in response to concerns of a potential Russian threat to NATO. Leaked military documents obtained by The Telegraph indicate that the defense ministry has initiated discussions on the matter. The proposed initiative would mandate military training for all citizens upon turning 18, including both men and women, diverging from the previous policy that only obligated German men. Suspending compulsory service in 2011, Germany now considers amending the constitution to include women, which is anticipated to garner public approval. Final discussions are underway, with official announcements expected next month. Alternatives include selective conscription through online forms or focusing on recruitment to enhance military strength. Amid rising tensions, German intelligence suggests Russia might target a NATO country after its involvement in Ukraine, prompting NATO members to bolster defenses and contemplate public mobilization in case of war. 

Russia is Considering Lowering Their Threshold for Activating Nuclear Weapons

Russia is contemplating reducing the threshold for activating its nuclear arsenal amid heightened concerns over potential nuclear use in Ukraine. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov stated that Moscow is assessing the possibility due to evolving security dynamics. Although no changes have been made yet, the situation prompts continuous analysis of nuclear strategy to ensure national security. Additionally, Russia plans a tactical nuclear exercise, as ordered by Putin, involving air and naval forces. Previously, Putin sanctioned a policy allowing nuclear use if the state's existence is threatened or to counter conventional enemy attacks. However, recent revelations suggest a lower nuclear threshold, permitting usage upon border defense failure or specific military losses. This disclosure, according to military experts, underscores Russia's willingness to resort to nuclear weapons if conventional means fail to achieve the desired outcomes. 

Under Biden, ‘Gotaway’ Numbers See Dramatic Spike

The number of “gotaways,” migrants detected crossing the U.S. border but not apprehended, has significantly increased during President Joe Biden’s tenure. The figures rose from 104,294 in FY 2017 to a staggering 670,674 in FY 2023. Biden assumed office in the middle of FY 2021. Gotaways are observational estimates based on agents identifying illegal crossings and tracking migrants until they can no longer be apprehended. However, the actual number of gotaways is unknown as some migrants evade detection. GOP Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart criticized the increase in gotaways under Biden, emphasizing the need to pass the Secure the Border Act, H.R.2. Republican Rep. Jodey Arrington also criticized Biden’s handling of the border crisis, stating that the President’s actions are obstructing states from securing the border and showing disrespect for U.S. laws and sovereignty. 


Data Shows During 2023 DHS Secretly Flew Hundreds of Thousands of Illegals into US

The DHS data shows that during 8 months from January through August 2023, roughly 200,000 migrants flew into the U.S. via the program, with 80% of them, (161,562) arriving in the state of Florida in four cities: Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, & Tampa. The top 15 cities migrants flew into, & the numbers during this 8-month window, are below. 

  1. Miami, FL: 91,821  
  2. Ft. Lauderdale, FL: 60,461  
  3. New York City, NY: 14,827  
  4. Houston, TX: 7,923  
  5. Orlando, FL: 6,043  
  6. Los Angeles, CA: 3,271  
  7. Tampa, FL: 3,237  
  8. Dallas, TX: 2,256  
  9. San Francisco, CA: 2,052  
  10. Atlanta, GA: 1,796  
  11. Newark, NJ: 1,498  
  12. Washington, D.C.: 1,472  
  13. Chicago, IL: 496  
  14. Las Vegas, NV: 483  
  15. Austin, TX: 171 

According to CBP data, at least 404,000 migrants have flown into the U.S. via the CHNV parole program since it first began:  

  • 154,000 Haitians  
  • 95,000 Venezuelans  
  • 84,000 Cubans  
  • 69,000 Nicaraguans 

More than Half of Immigrants in the US are Unemployed

A recent report from the Center for Immigration Studies reveals that over half of foreign-born immigrants in the United States under President Joe Biden's administration are unemployed. Only 46% of migrants who arrived in the U.S. since 2022 were employed as of early 2024. Researchers Steven Camarota and Karen Zeigler argue that immigration not only adds workers but also non-workers who depend on others' labor. The data challenges arguments that migrant workers significantly contribute to the economy. Since Biden took office, the migrant population in the U.S. increased by approximately 6.6 million in 39 months, reaching 51.6 million by March 2024, comprising 15.6% of the population. Concerns are raised about granting work permits to unauthorized immigrants, potentially incentivizing more illegal immigration. Another CIS report in February highlighted Biden's emphasis on hiring foreign-born immigrants, while the employment of American citizens decreased from pre-COVID-19 levels. 

Study Shows 15.6% of US Population are Foreigners

A recent study reveals that the foreign-born population, encompassing both legal and illegal immigrants, has surged to 15.6% of the total population in the United States, driven notably by President Joe Biden's border policies. The Center for Immigration Studies highlighted record-high numbers in March, with approximately 51.6 million immigrants in the country, marking a significant increase of 5.1 million individuals since March 2022, the largest spike in American history. Under Biden's administration, the foreign-born population soared by approximately 6.6 million in just 39 months, almost equivalent to the growth in the nine years pre-pandemic. This influx, averaging nearly 170,000 immigrants per month since Biden's inauguration, is attributed significantly to illegal immigration, constituting 58% of the surge. Concerns are raised about future projections, with estimates suggesting a potential increase to 62.5 million immigrants by 2030 and 82.2 million by 2040, surpassing the combined populations of 30 states and the District of Columbia. 


Amid Gaza War, Biden Mulling Proposal to Bring Palestinians into US

U.S. President Biden is considering a proposal to offer Palestinians fleeing Gaza violence a pathway to safety in the U.S., potentially extending permanent residency or even citizenship. The plan targets Palestinians with immediate family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or those with American relatives. This initiative marks a significant shift from past policies and is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. However, the plan’s implementation would require coordination with Egypt, which would facilitate the screening and transit of Palestinians seeking U.S. refuge. Egypt’s stance on accepting large numbers of refugees from Gaza is unclear, posing a potential challenge to the plan’s execution. The Biden administration has not yet formally announced the plan’s details or implementation timeline. 

Another $6.1BN in Students Loan Handouts Announced by Biden, Now Bringing the Total to $160BN

The Biden administration announced a $6.1 billion student loan forgiveness package for 317,000 borrowers who attended the Art Institutes, labeling the institution as "predatory" and aiming to aid students victimized by its practices. This initiative raises the total student loans forgiven under Biden to $160 billion, benefiting nearly 4.6 million borrowers. Biden emphasized the administration's efforts to rectify flawed student loan programs, increase Pell Grants, and enhance loan forgiveness mechanisms. He pledged continued support for borrowers and affordability in higher education. Secretary Cardona highlighted collaboration with states to pursue legal action against exploitative schools. Federal Student Aid COO Richard Cordray echoed the commitment to alleviate student debt burdens and restore trust in educational institutions. The relief will be automatically applied to eligible borrowers. This announcement coincides with nationwide student protests against Israel's actions in Gaza. 

Ukraine Now Pleads for MQ-9 Reaper Drones from US After ATACMS Delivery

Ukraine has prioritized acquiring the US-made MQ-9 Reaper drone for its upcoming counteroffensive, seeking it primarily for surveillance to identify Russian targets without engaging in combat. Washington had hesitated due to fears of it being shot down. However, recent assurances from Kyiv have shifted the request towards reconnaissance purposes only. The drone's advanced capabilities, including 25 hours of flight endurance and real-time intelligence systems, make it a valuable asset despite previous instances of being intercepted. Russia's plans to reverse-engineer the MQ-9 further underline its significance in modern warfare. The renewed interest in the MQ-9 follows the clandestine delivery of the Army Tactical Missile System's long-range variant by the US to Ukraine, suggesting a strategic partnership in bolstering Ukraine's defense capabilities. This move aligns with Kyiv's preparations for another counteroffensive, supported by a $61-billion supplemental aid bill aimed at strengthening its military capabilities against invading forces. 

‘Aid on its Way’ US Announces as Russia Claims Advances

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured Ukraine that US military aid was en route, following the approval of a $61-billion financial aid package by the US Congress. Blinken stated that some of the assistance had already arrived, and more was forthcoming. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed gratitude for the aid, emphasizing the need for air defense in the Kharkiv region where Russian forces have been advancing. Meanwhile, Russia claimed a deep advance into Ukrainian defensive lines. The surprise Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region has led to civilian casualties and forced thousands to evacuate. Russia’s incoming defense minister, Andrei Belousov, stated that Moscow’s priority was to secure victory on the battlefield against Ukraine while minimizing human losses. Despite acknowledging Russian successes in Kharkiv, Zelensky stressed that Ukrainian counterattacks were ongoing. The head of Ukraine’s security council, Oleksandr Lytvynenko, stated that Russia had significantly increased its troop deployment for the new offensive in the Kharkiv region

 WAR (and rumors of war) 



US and Russian Troops Sharing Base in Niger Pentagon Sources Say

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed the deployment of Russian soldiers to Air Base 101 in Niger’s capital, Niamey, which also houses American troops. This follows Niger’s military junta’s decision to end a military cooperation agreement with the US and expel its forces. Prior to the 2023 coup, Niger was a key part of the US strategy to combat jihadists in West Africa. Despite the close proximity of Russian and American soldiers, Austin stated that the Russian presence does not pose a significant issue for US force protection. The Kremlin has not confirmed or denied the Russian presence at the base. Following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum, Niger’s junta expelled French soldiers. Russian military instructors arrived in Niger with an air defense system after talks between General Abdourahamane Tiani and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The US withdrawal could mark a regional gain for Russia, which has increased its focus on Africa. Niger continues to face violence from Boko Haram jihadists and militants from the Islamic State West Africa Province.

Extra Large Manta Ray Underwater Drone

Northrop Grumman's Manta Ray, an extra-large unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), underwent in-water testing off California's coast, revealing its significant size and capabilities. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) released images of the testbed, highlighting its massive scale. Developed under DARPA's Manta Ray program, the UUV aims to demonstrate advanced technologies for long-endurance payload-capable UUVs. DARPA plans to collaborate with the U.S. Navy for further testing and technology transition. The recent testing validated the vehicle's hydrodynamic performance, showcasing its propulsion and steering capabilities. Manta Ray's modular design facilitates transportation and assembly for rapid deployment, conserving energy during transit. DARPA's program manager praised the successful testing, emphasizing the vehicle's unique capabilities and efficient operation. Inspired by the manta ray's glide, the UUV is designed for long-duration, long-range missions in inaccessible ocean environments. While procurement decisions are pending, advancements in UUV technology offer strategic advantages for future maritime operations, aligning with broader defense priorities.

Navy Shows Off Mi-24 Kill Mark on Navy F-18G Growler

A U.S. Air Force photo shows a Navy EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft with a ‘kill mark’ of a Mi-24/35 Hind attack helicopter. The aircraft belongs to the “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130, which was deployed aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. The tradition of stenciling ‘kill marks’ onto military equipment signifies the destruction of enemy equipment. This is the first time a Growler in the region has been seen with a kill mark. It’s unclear whether the mark indicates the downing of a Hind, an electronic attack, or a training exercise ‘kill.’ Mi-24 Hinds often participate as aggressors in major training exercises. If the EA-18G did shoot down an enemy Hind, it would be the first true aerial kill for the Growler. The development coincides with the Growlers receiving expanded air-to-air missile capabilities via additional AIM-120 AMRAAM carriage options. 


Biden Withholding Precision Weapons Sale to Israel

The Biden administration is reportedly delaying the sale of 6,500 precision weapon kits to Israel, marking the second such hold in recent months, according to The Wall Street Journal. The White House has neither confirmed nor denied this action. The kits are designed to convert ordinary bombs into “smart bombs” using satellite guidance. The timing of this decision suggests it’s a strategic move to dissuade Israel from launching a ground operation in Rafah. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) recently issued evacuation orders to eastern Rafah residents and decided to proceed with actions against the last Hamas stronghold in the enclave’s south. U.S. officials have described the current incursion as “limited,” contradicting Israel’s promise of a broad ground offensive. The IDF claimed to have taken full control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing on Tuesday morning.

‘We Do Not and Will Not Support Israeli Reoccupation of Gaza’ According to Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a press conference with Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, clarified that the U.S. does not support an Israeli reoccupation or Hamas governance in Gaza. His comments come amid ongoing discussions about Gaza’s future governance and stability post-war. Blinken emphasized the need to avoid chaos and anarchy in Gaza and highlighted the importance of a clear post-conflict plan for governance, security, and rebuilding. He also noted the ongoing work with international partners to address Gaza’s future and urged Israel to focus on what the future must be, as it does not want responsibility for Gaza. Blinken expressed deep concerns about the impact of Israel’s limited operation in Rafah on humanitarian assistance, noting that the conflict has affected the main points of access in the south and made it more difficult to provide aid.


Russian Oil Refinery South of Moscow Hit by Ukraine

Ukraine conducted a drone attack on a Russian oil refinery in Ryazan, located south of Moscow, marking a new strike on Russia's energy infrastructure. The attack, carried out by Ukrainian Defense Intelligence, occurred during the early hours of May 1. While Ryazan's regional governor confirmed the attack, no casualties were reported. The refinery targeted belongs to Rosneft, Russia's oil giant, with a yearly oil processing capacity of 17.1 million tons. This incident is part of Ukraine's ongoing strategy of using drones to target factories and oil refineries deep inside Russia, a tactic employed since last year amidst the prolonged conflict between the two nations. Social media footage captured the explosion and resulting smoke, highlighting the escalation of hostilities and the strategic targeting of key infrastructure. Ryazan, located approximately 190 kilometers southeast of Moscow, now faces the consequences of Ukraine's retaliatory actions. 

Russian Offensive in Ukraine Ramping Up Before US Arms Boost Arrives

Russia has intensified its offensive in Donbas, making significant gains amid anticipation of increased Western arms support for Ukraine. Plumes of smoke near Ocheretyne signify Russia's latest advance, following the capture of Avdiivka. The better-equipped Russian forces have steadily pushed westward, with an acceleration noted in mid-April. Ukraine's defense ministry reported 125 Russian attacks along the 700-kilometer front line within 24 hours, primarily concentrated around Ocheretyne and Chasiv Yar. Although no major breakthroughs have occurred, Russia's progress has raised concerns and criticism within Ukraine. Shortages in ammunition persist, despite Washington's recent approval of a $61 billion aid package. Ukrainian forces anticipate intensified conflict in the coming months, with Russia potentially threatening strategically vital roads and cities like Chasiv Yar and Kramatorsk. Unconventional tactics, including off-road motorbike attacks, have been employed by Russian forces. Despite Ukrainian resistance, the situation remains volatile, with ongoing skirmishes and the threat of further Russian advances. 

According to Russia, F-16s Will Be Treated as Nuclear Threats if Deployed in Ukraine

Russia issued a warning to Ukraine regarding the latter's acquisition of F-16 fighter jets, labeling them as a "nuclear-capable" threat. Ukraine announced plans to deploy the U.S.-supplied jets, aiming for operational readiness post-Orthodox Easter. Provided by Western allies, these F-16s offer a modernization leap for Ukraine's antiquated fleet, worn down by years of conflict. Despite Ukraine lacking nuclear weapons and no indication of receiving them, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concerns over the aircraft's potential nuclear delivery capability. Denouncing the move as a provocation orchestrated by the U.S. and NATO, Russia pledged to treat the F-16s as nuclear-capable, raising tensions. The warning aligns with Russia's prior assertions and underscores geopolitical tensions, fueled further by NATO discussions of intervention. While most NATO allies reject the notion of military involvement in Ukraine, Russia's stance on the F-16s remains consistent, echoing earlier statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. 

Ukraine Drone Attack Reaches 800 Miles into Russia in Record Strike

Ukraine's SBU security service reportedly executed a remarkable drone strike on a Russian oil refinery in Bashkortostan, nearly 1,200 kilometers from the border, marking a record-distance attack. According to a Ukrainian defense source, the strike, covering 1,500 kilometers, targeted the refinery and two oil depots in the Krasnodar region. The SBU is credited with deploying advanced technological capabilities to inflict substantial damage on the enemy. Russian emergency services confirmed damage to a pumping station at the Salavat refinery, owned by Gazprom, though no casualties were reported. Despite smoke rising from the facility, operations continued normally. The timing of the attack, coinciding with Russia's Victory Day celebrations, led local officials to denounce it as a deliberate attempt to disrupt the holiday. Bashkortostan's republic head emphasized resilience in the face of provocations, affirming determination not to yield. 


Report States China- Linked Hackers are Targeting Commercial Shipping Companies

A China-linked cyber espionage group, Mustang Panda, is reportedly using malware to gain remote access to computer systems of commercial shipping companies in Norway, Greece, and the Netherlands. This information comes from ESET, a Slovakia-based cybersecurity firm, amid warnings from U.K. and U.S. officials about significant cybersecurity threats from China. Mustang Panda, previously implicated in espionage against Asian and European governments and organizations, uses malware tools that allow full device access and command issuance. This is the first known instance of a China-linked cyber espionage group targeting commercial shipping. However, it’s unclear if the cyber spying involved physically planted USB devices at companies or on ships. China’s embassy in Washington has denied the accusations, stating that China is a victim of cyber-attacks and opposes all forms of cyber-attacks. 


Stagflation is Coming According to the Latest Data

The latest economic data signals a slowdown in growth alongside rising prices, raising concerns of stagflation. Inflation has climbed from 3.1% to 3.5%, while economic growth has decelerated from 5% in Q3 2023 to 1.6% in Q1 2024. Many economists fear a prolonged period of slow growth and inflation, echoing earlier warnings of stagflation. April job numbers fell below expectations, hinting at further economic strain. Forecasts predict GDP growth of 2%, but some anticipate as low as 1%, with a risk of negative growth by summer. Factors contributing to this scenario include high consumer credit card debt, potential interest rate hikes, and mounting government deficits. Despite Fed Chair Powell's optimism, citing moderate growth and inflation, evidence suggests otherwise. Stagflation poses challenges for policymakers, as traditional stimulus measures may be ineffective. With limited options available, the U.S. economy faces the prospect of stagflation for the first time in decades, driven by government policies. 


Biden Says His Administration is Ready to Use SPR Again if Needed

President Biden’s energy adviser, Amos Hochstein, has stated that the U.S. will use crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) if necessary, assuring that there is sufficient supply in the reserve. The SPR’s crude oil stockpiles fell from 638 million barrels at Biden’s inauguration to 347 million barrels by the summer of 2023 due to the release of over 180 million barrels aimed at reducing gasoline prices. Recently, discussions have resumed about using the SPR to lower retail fuel prices, especially if the Israel-Hamas conflict escalates, leading to increased oil and fuel prices. With the upcoming elections, many view SPR releases as a likely action to avoid rising fuel prices. However, questions arise about the SPR’s sufficiency due to sporadic replenishment efforts by the federal government. Several offers to purchase 3 million barrels were canceled when prices exceeded the Department of Energy’s $79 per barrel limit. As of January, the Department had repurchased about 32.3 million barrels of the over 180 million barrels released in 2022 and is reclaiming 4 million barrels lent to energy companies. The SPR’s volume as of January was approximately 364 million barrels. 

 FAMINE (Food Scarcity)


Tyson Foods Warns that Low-Income Consumers are Breaking Under Inflation

Tyson Foods experienced its sharpest decline in a year due to heightened inflation impacting its lower-income customers, leading to reduced purchases of its ready-to-eat products. This concern echoes warnings from McDonald's and Starbucks about declining consumer demand among low-income groups. During an earnings call, Melanie Boulden highlighted the pressure on consumers, especially lower-income households, citing a 20% cumulative inflation over three years and low savings rates. These factors have made consumers more price-sensitive and cautious, prioritizing essential staples over discretionary purchases. This raises doubts about Tyson's ability to improve profitability amid these challenges. Chief Financial Officer John Tyson cautioned investors about uncertainties surrounding consumer behavior and warned that Q3 might be weaker than Q4, further dampening investor sentiment and causing shares to drop over 8%. These developments underscore concerns about consumer spending amidst a period of stagflation. 

Farm Equipment is Starting to Pile Up as Boom Times Fade

Falling crop prices have led to an oversupply of agricultural equipment, prompting dealers to discount machines, suspend new orders, and auction off equipment at reduced prices. This slowdown follows a period of high demand driven by record farm income and pandemic assistance payments. However, low crop prices and high interest rates are now deterring farmers from purchasing machinery, resulting in swelling inventories and reduced profits for dealers and manufacturers like Deere and CNH Industrial. Some dealerships have slashed prices by up to 30% with zero percent interest incentives to move inventory. The decline in demand has also affected spare parts sales, with dealers facing challenges in managing unsold inventory and financing costs. As equipment sales forecast slows, dealers are pressured to auction off equipment quickly to maintain margins, exacerbating concerns about inventory levels and pricing in the agriculture machinery market. 


Nine Texas Cities Find H5N1 Avian Flu in Wastewater Testing

A recent study conducted by researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center found traces of the H5N1 avian flu virus in wastewater samples from 9 out of 10 Texas cities. The virus was detected from March 4 to April 25, with levels sometimes comparable to seasonal flu. The findings, published in a preprint study, suggest that wastewater sampling could be a crucial surveillance tool for tracking the virus's spread, especially in dairy cow populations. The researchers noted that H5N1 became the dominant serotype over time in the monitored sites. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided updates on their response to H5N1 outbreaks in cattle, including monitoring individuals exposed to infected animals and conducting ferret experiments to assess disease severity and transmission. Results from these experiments are expected in about three weeks. 

As Opposition Grows, W.H.O. Goes into Overtime Drafting New Pandemic Treaty

Representatives of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) have yet to finalize a proposed international accord addressing pandemics, prompting ongoing debate expected to extend until the World Health Assembly convenes on May 27. The proposed treaty, conceived under Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, aims to enhance the U.N.'s ability to manage global health crises. However, member parties have contentious disagreements over provisions in the draft, particularly concerning the extent of the W.H.O.'s authority in declaring health emergencies within countries and the equitable distribution of pandemic-related responsibilities and resources. Despite negotiations extending beyond the anticipated deadline, the parties remain committed to forging a viable treaty. Critics, including Conservative leader Nigel Farage and Republican lawmakers in the United States, argue that the accord threatens national sovereignty and could lead to mandatory lockdowns and vaccinations. Nonetheless, Tedros asserts that the treaty strengthens national sovereignty and global cooperation in pandemic response, aiming to prevent future crises like the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. 



Russia Threatens to Hit British Targets if UK-Supplied Weapons Are Used on Russian Soil

Russia issued a stern warning to the United Kingdom, cautioning that if British-supplied weapons were used by Ukraine to attack Russian territory, Moscow could retaliate by targeting British military facilities and equipment in Ukraine and beyond. This warning, conveyed to British Ambassador Nigel Casey by the Russian Foreign Ministry, followed remarks by U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron supporting Ukraine's right to use such weapons against Russia. While Ukraine has denied using foreign-supplied weaponry for attacks on Russian soil, Cameron's statement contradicted previous assurances from the U.K. government. Russia perceives this as increased involvement in the conflict by London. The Foreign Ministry urged the U.K. to reconsider its stance and warned of dire consequences if British weapons were deployed by Kyiv against Russian territory. Despite Russia's claims, the U.K. maintained its support for Ukraine but clarified that Casey's meeting with Russian officials was diplomatic in nature. 

As Russian Offensive Intensifies in Kharkiv Region, Blinken Visits Ukraine

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarked on an undisclosed visit to Kyiv, marking the first high-level U.S. official visit since Congress approved a $61 billion military aid package for Ukraine in April. The visit aims to demonstrate American support amid Ukraine's defense against heavy Russian aggression on its northeastern border. Blinken seeks to reassure Ukrainians during this challenging period and discuss the execution of supplemental assistance to bolster their defenses and regain battlefield momentum. Artillery, ATACMS long-range missiles, and air defense interceptors approved by President Joe Biden are already being delivered to Ukrainian forces. Russian forces continue offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove line in the Kharkiv region, prompting evacuations of civilians from border areas. The Institute for the Study of War highlights Russian advances in Vovchansk, noting the destruction of key bridges, indicating a focus on establishing a buffer zone rather than deeper penetration. 


Trump and Biden Agree to Two Debates Over the Summer

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are set to participate in two presidential debates ahead of the 2024 elections. The first debate, hosted by CNN, will take place on June 27 in Georgia, with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash as moderators. The second debate, announced by ABC News, is scheduled for September 10 and will be simulcast on various networks. Both Biden and Trump have agreed to participate in these debates. Biden, in a video, claimed that Trump lost two debates against him in 2020 and is ready to debate again. Trump, in a social post, criticized Biden’s debating skills and expressed readiness for the debates. Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has also claimed that he will meet the criteria to participate in the June debate. 

Evidence Tampered with in Trump Documents Case Admits Prosecutor

Special Counsel Jack Smith's team admitted that key evidence in the classified documents criminal case involving former President Donald Trump was altered or manipulated since seizure by the FBI, and prosecutors misled the court about it. The revelation, detailed in a new court filing, suggests a serious problem for prosecutors and a potential violation of court rules on preserving evidence. The altered order of documents in storage boxes at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate could be crucial for his defense, as his team is expected to argue the documents were stored in chronological order at the White House before being sent to his home. Legal experts view the admission as evidence tampering, which undermines the prosecution's case. Smith's team downplayed the issue, offering explanations for the alteration, but the revelation has drawn comparisons to past political scandals involving evidence alteration, such as Watergate and the Iran-Contra affair. 

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