Oil at Seven-Year High as Ukraine Crisis Overshadows Fed

The sun shines through a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, on Nov 22, 2019. (Angus Mordant/Reuters)
The sun shines through a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, on Nov 22, 2019. (Angus Mordant/Reuters)

LONDON—Oil extended gains to seven-year highs above $90 a barrel on Thursday as the Ukraine crisis outweighed signs that the U.S. Federal Reserve will tighten monetary policy.

Brent crude futures were up 89 cents, or 1 percent, at $90.85 a barrel by 1217 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 87 cents, or 1 percent, at $88.22.

Crude prices had surged on Wednesday, with Brent climbing above $90 a barrel for the first time in seven years amid tensions between Russia and the West. Russia, the world’s second-largest oil producer, and the West have been at loggerheads over Ukraine, fanning fears of disruption of energy supplies to Europe.

Both contracts were lower in early trading after the U.S. Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that it is likely to raise interest rates in March and plans to end its bond purchases that month in its battle to tame inflation.

The U.S. dollar climbed after the announcement, making oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

“A more pronounced price slide is being prevented by the Ukraine crisis, as there are still concerns that Russian oil and gas deliveries could be hampered in the event of a military escalation,” Commerzbank said after the morning price dip.

Market attention is also turning to a Feb. 2 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia, a group known as OPEC+.

OPEC+ has raised its output target each month since August by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) as it unwinds record production cuts made in 2020.

However, the group has faced capacity constraints that have prevented some members from producing at their quota levels.

Still, an increase in crude oil and gasoline inventories in the United States alleviated some of the concerns about supply.

Crude inventories rose by 2.4 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday. That compared with expectations of a decline of 728,000 barrels in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Gasoline stockpiles rose by 1.3 million barrels, the most since February 2021.

By Ahmad Ghaddar

Reuters

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Schumer Pledges to Hold ‘Prompt Hearing’ After Breyer Steps Down

Associate Justice Stephen Breyer sits during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington on April 23, 2021. (Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images)
Associate Justice Stephen Breyer sits during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington on April 23, 2021. (Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images)

The top Democrat in the Senate on Wednesday promised to quickly hold a hearing on whomever President Joe Biden nominates to replace Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Breyer reportedly plans to step down in mid-2022 after the nation’s highest court finishes its current term.

Once President Joe Biden nominates a replacement for Breyer, that nominee “will receive a prompt hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and will be considered and confirmed by the full United States Senate with all deliberate speed,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

Sen. d*** Durbin (D-Ill.), who chairs the panel, said Biden has an opportunity with the upcoming vacancy “to nominate someone who will bring diversity, experience, and an evenhanded approach to the administration of justice.”

“I look forward to moving the President’s nominee expeditiously through the Committee,” he said.

Democrats chair all Senate panels because they hold the White House, giving them control of the 50–50 chamber through Vice President Kamala Harris, the president of the body.

Democrats can discharge nominees from the committee and approve them in the full Senate without Republican support, provided there are no defections.

“If all Democrats hang together—which I expect they will—they have the power to replace Justice Breyer in 2022 without one Republican vote in support,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

“Elections have consequences, and that is most evident when it comes to fulfilling vacancies on the Supreme Court,” he added.

Democrats gained two Senate seats in the 2020 election as well as the presidency.

Other Democrat senators said they were prepared to vet Biden’s nominee.

“Justice Breyer has been a champion of equal justice under the law. I’m thankful for his service & his deep understanding of our Constitution & the rights it protects. I’m ready to get to work to confirm a justice who will continue to uphold these core values for all,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in a statement.

“I look forward to considering POTUS’s nominee and fulfilling my constitutional role to advise and consent on SCOTUS nominees,” added Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Several Republicans offered praise for Breyer, including Graham and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who said he has “always held him in high regard.”

Biden, who took office in January 2021, has not yet had a Supreme Court nominee.

Former President Donald Trump had three in four years, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who filled the seat left vacant with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Biden and the White House declined to immediately comment on Breyer’s upcoming retirement.

Zachary Stieber

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Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.

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UK, Australia, Germany Withdraw Embassy Personnel and Families From Ukraine

Russia Ukraine
A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea on Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo)

The UK and Australia said they have begun withdrawing some embassy personnel from Ukraine, while Germany offered assistance to staff members’ families and some civilians who want to leave.

The precautionary measures come as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that “gloomy” intelligence suggested Russia was planning a lightning raid on Kyiv.

The U.S. State Department has also ordered family members of U.S. government employees at its embassy in Kyiv to leave the Ukrainian capital and authorized the voluntary departure of non-essential civil servants on Sunday night.

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) said on Monday that it has started pulling out some embassy staff and family members in response to the “growing threat from Russia.”

It also advised against all travel to three contested border regions and all but essential travel to the rest of Ukraine.

“The British Embassy remains open and will continue to carry out essential work,” its latest travel advice update said.

Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine. The FCDO said the “pattern of Russian military build-ups near Ukraine’s eastern border and in illegally annexed Crimea” started in late March 2021, and there is “continuing uncertainty about Russian intentions.”

The FCDO advised against all travel to Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk Oblast on Ukraine’s eastern border and Russian-annexed-Crimea. It also advised against non-essential travel to the rest of Ukraine, where the situation is now “generally calm,” in case of a fast-moving escalation of events.

Those who need to travel are told to keep their departure plans “under close review” and monitor the situation regularly.

“Renewed military action anywhere in Ukraine would greatly reduce British Embassy Kyiv’s ability to provide consular support,” the FCDO warned.

Australia: ‘Leave Now’

The Australian government has also begun withdrawing dependents of Australian Embassy staff from Kyiv, it said on Monday in a travel advice update.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told Australian citizens in Ukraine to “leave now” by commercial means if it’s safe to do so, and told others “do not travel” to the country “due to the risk of armed conflict.”

DFAT warned that flight availability could change or be suspended at short notice, and urged Australian citizens in Ukraine to register their whereabouts through a newly opened portal.

German officials on Monday offered help to assist family members of embassy staff and employees of German organizations who wish to leave Ukraine.

“This is a measure we are taking to ensure the safety of the people we are responsible for there,” DW quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Christopher Burger as saying.

The EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell said on Monday that it doesn’t plan to “do the same thing because we don’t know any specific reasons.”

Following the U.S. announcement on Sunday that it was withdrawing embassy staff’s family members, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said the move was “premature and a display of excessive caution.”

The Russian Parliament is due to vote on a proposal by members of Russia’s communist party asking the Kremlin to recognize the independence of the contested Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

If backed by the Kremlin, which has been cautious about the proposal, the move could see an escalation in regional tensions, but Russia would meet with punitive economic sanctions.

United Russia lawmaker Alexander Borodai, former self-proclaimed “prime minister” of Donetsk during the height of the conflict in 2014, voiced support for the proposal. He told Reuters that “a war will become a direct necessity” if the proposal passes.

Meanwhile, Western countries are ramping up support to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, officials from DFAT are in discussion with their Ukrainian counterparts about providing cyber assistance.

NATO is also reinforcing the eastern border region, with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg vowing to “take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies.”

Russia on Sunday dismissed the UK’s claims that Moscow was planning to install a pro-Russia leader in Kyiv, calling it “very dangerous” and “foolish rhetorical provocations.”

Melanie Sun contributed to this report.

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NATO Places Extra Forces on Standby, Deploys Additional Warships and Jets to Eastern Europe

Two F-35 fighter jets of the Royal Netherlands Air Force are seen in a file photo. (Courtesy of Netherlands Air Force)
Two F-35 fighter jets of the Royal Netherlands Air Force are seen in a file photo. (Courtesy of Netherlands Air Force)

NATO announced on Monday that it’s placing extra forces on standby and sending more warships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe as Russia continues its military build-up near Ukrainian territory.

“I welcome Allies contributing additional forces to NATO,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on Monday.

“NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance,” he added. “We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defense.”

The defensive alliance has increased its troops’ presence in the region despite Moscow demanding during high-level talks in Brussels earlier this month that NATO can no longer carry out military exercises or intelligence operations, or build infrastructure outside its 1997 borders, and stops further military expansion and placing missiles on Russia’s borders.

European countries that are part of the latest expansion are Denmark, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. The United States also made clear it is considering increasing its presence on the eastern flank.

Epoch Times Photo
A service member of the Ukrainian armed forces walks at combat positions near the line of separation from Russian-backed rebels near Horlivka in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Jan. 22, 2022. (Anna Kudriavtseva/File Photo/Reuters)

Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and also deploying four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania, NATO said in the statement. Spain is considering sending warplanes to Bulgaria and confirmed it is deploying ships to join NATO’s naval forces, while France also showed combat-readiness to deploy troops to Romania. The Netherlands said it is deploying two F-35 fighter jets to Bulgaria from April, and will also put a ship and ground troops on standby.

Ukraine shares borders with four NATO countries: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.

NATO’s announcement comes one day after the U.S. State Department ordered family members of government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to leave the Ukrainian capital, and authorized the voluntary departure of non-essential civil servants.

The United Kingdom on Monday also started to withdraw some of its embassy staff and dependents from Kyiv amid growing tensions on the Russia–Ukraine border.

Shares across the world fell as the risk of conflict quashed demand for riskier assets, and tension over Ukraine was among the factors that pushed up oil prices.

Russia denies planning to invade Ukraine but has used its build-up of an estimated 100,000 troops near the border to force the West to negotiate over a range of demands to redraw the security map of Europe.

Russia Ukraine
A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, on Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo)

It wants NATO to scrap a promise to let Ukraine join one day and to pull back troops and weapons from former Communist countries in eastern Europe that joined it after the Cold War.

Washington says those demands are non-starters but it is ready to discuss other ideas on arms control, missile deployments, and confidence-building measures.

The United States and the European Union, wary of Russia’s intentions since it seized Crimea and backed separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine in 2014, have warned Russia not to invade.

Russia Denounces Concerns Over Increased Military Presence

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said the West is showing “hysteria” and is putting out information “laced with lies.”

“As for specific actions, we see statements by the North Atlantic Alliance about reinforcement, pulling forces and resources to the eastern flank. All this leads to the fact that tensions are growing,” Peskov said.

“This is not happening because of what we, Russia, are doing,” he added. “This is all happening because of what NATO and the U.S. are doing and due to the information they are spreading.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

From NTD News

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State Department Orders Family of US Embassy Personnel to Leave Kyiv, Elevates Travel Warning for Ukraine, Russia

United States Department of State official seal
United States Department of State official seal

The U.S. State Department ordered family members of U.S. government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to leave the Ukrainian capital and authorized the voluntary departure of non-essential civil servants on Sunday night.

“Authorized departure gives these employees the option to depart if they wish; their departure is not required,” the embassy said. “Ordered departure for family members requires that family members leave the country.

“The U.S. Embassy’s departure status will be reviewed in no later than 30 days,” it added.

According to the embassy’s latest update on social media, the State Department’s decision is a special warning “due to continued Russian efforts to destabilize the country and undermine the security of Ukrainian citizens and others visiting or residing in Ukraine.”

It said that the U.S. Embassy Kyiv “remains open” and that consular services according to COVID-19 restrictions will continue without change or impact a “commitment to finding a diplomatic solution to Russia’s deeply troubling build-up of forces in and around Ukraine.

“We continue to reaffirm our support for the Ukrainian people and do so while committed to one of the Department’s highest priorities, the safety and security of our diplomats and the American people,” it said.

The announcement, made out of “an abundance of caution,” comes as the Ukrainian government in Kyiv, with the United States and its NATO allies, continue monitoring activities at the Russian-Ukrainian border amid an apparent impasse in diplomatic efforts to resolve the decades-long regional dispute.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Thursday, following talks with his Russian counterpart, that the United States had made clear it will consider any Russian movement across Ukraine’s border as “a renewed invasion” to be “met with swift, severe, and a united response from the United States and our partners and allies.”

The Russian Parliament is due to vote on a proposal by members of Russia’s communist party asking the Kremlin to recognize the independence of the contested Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine.

If backed by the Kremlin, which has been cautious about the proposal, the move could see an escalation in regional tensions, but Russia would meet with punitive economic sanctions.

United Russia lawmaker Alexander Borodai, former self-proclaimed “prime minister” of Donetsk during the height of the conflict in 2014 and current United Russia lawmaker, voiced support for the proposal. He told Reuters that “a war will become a direct necessity” in the case of the proposal passing.

Blinken told NBC on Sunday that while the United States is “building up deterrence and defense for Ukraine,” diplomats also remain engaged in diplomacy, which is “the preferable path forward for everyone.”

According to the U.S. embassy, given allied intelligence that military action by Russia could come at any time, the Sunday announcement was made to help U.S. citizens make plans in the case of military action, including commercial flight options to leave, as “the United States government will not be in a position to evacuate American citizens in such a contingency.”

It emphasized that “Russia put us on the current path.”

“While the United States continues to pursue the path of dialogue and diplomacy, if Russia chooses escalation and massive consequences due to significant military action against Ukraine, the current unpredictable security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, could deteriorate with little notice,” the embassy warned.

Meanwhile, the state department has elevated its Level Four “Do Not Travel” advisory for Ukraine and Russia to include the regions of Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, citing “security threats along the Ukrainian border.”

On Sunday, Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov confirmed that a second shipment of almost 90 tonnes of “lethal security assistance” from the Biden administration’s $200 million approved in December had arrived in Kyiv to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Melanie Sun

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Melanie is an Australian-based reporter and editor covering world news. She has a background in environmental research.

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‘Defeat the Mandates’: Thousands Protest in Washington Against Vaccine Requirements

By Jack Phillips January 23, 2022 Updated: January 23, 2022

Crowd gathers at Lincoln Memorial for the Defeat the Mandates rally
Protesters gather at Lincoln Memorial for the “Defeat the Mandates” rally in Washington on Jan. 23, 2022. (Lynn Lin/NTD)

Thousands of people turned out in Washington to march in protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates on Jan. 23—one of the largest U.S. events and protests held against the mandates since the start of the pandemic.

Starting at 12:30 p.m. local time, thousands of people marched around the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, with many holding signs decrying COVID-19 regulations, vaccine passports, and mandates. Some criticized the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates.

In recent weeks, U.S. COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in areas that have high vaccination rates, once again casting a shadow on the effectiveness of the shots, and a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study suggested that natural immunity is superior to vaccines against the Delta variant. Federal officials frequently say that vaccines protect against severe disease and hospitalization.

Crowd gathers at Lincoln Memorial for the
Crowd gathers at Lincoln Memorial for the “Defeat the Mandates” rally in Washington on Jan. 23, 2022. (Lynn Lin/NTD)

Former NBA star Kwame Brown, who has frequently criticized vaccine mandates on social media, told The Epoch Times that he attended because “I think we got to get back to compassion for our fellow man and woman.”

“People are being put out of work” over mandates, he said on Jan. 23 in Washington. “People are not being able to go over to their friends and family’s house. … I think everybody should have a right to choose whether they want to do it … and that’s what America is supposed to be about.”

Protesters gather at Lincoln Memorial for the “Defeat the Mandates” rally in Washington on Jan. 23, 2022. (Lynn Lin/NTD)
Protesters gather at Lincoln Memorial for the “Defeat the Mandates” rally in Washington on Jan. 23, 2022. (Lynn Lin/NTD)

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, who was fired three weeks ago by the University of California–Irvine for challenging the school’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy, similarly told The Epoch Times on Jan. 23: “Americans need to recover our right to assembly and our right to public spaces.

“I think the most important thing about this event is that it is a public event. And it’s an opportunity for all of us to be together in solidarity and love for one another, to speak up against coercive mandates, to let doctors be doctors without other entities coming between a doctor’s own medical judgment and caring for his patient.”

Crowd gathers at Lincoln Memorial for the Defeat the Mandates rally
Protesters gather at Lincoln Memorial for the “Defeat the Mandates” rally in Washington on Jan. 23, 2022. (Lynn Lin/NTD)

Kheriaty, who has become a frequent critic of vaccine passports and mandates, said he hopes this event “will catalyze a movement in the United States.” And while some media outlets have described the march as an “anti-vaccine” event, Kheriaty and march organizers said it’s the mandates, not the vaccines, that they oppose.

One of the march’s organizers told Fox News over the weekend that the rally is important to push back against what he described as increasingly coercive measures that are coming from the White House.

“You’re going to hear a lot of [talk on the left that] this is a big, anti-vax rally, [that] it’s people coming in to deny science,” march organizer Will Witt stated. “But this march is about the mandate, and this march is about the Draconian measures that we’re seeing all across this country right now, especially in places like D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco.”

Jan Jekielek contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips

Breaking News Reporter

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Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.

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Cruise Ship With Hundreds of People on Board Diverts to Bahamas After US Issues Arrest Warrant

By Jack Phillips January 23, 2022 Updated: January 23, 2022

Cruise ship Crystal Symphony departing from the inner harbour of the Port of Fremantle, Western Australia, on a Southern Australia & Tasmania cruise from Fremantle to Sydney Cruise ship Crystal Symphony departing from the inner harbour of the Port of Fremantle, Western Australia, on a Southern Australia & Tasmania cruise from Fremantle to Sydney. Images uploaded by Bahnfrend
Cruise ship Crystal Symphony departing from the inner harbour of the Port of Fremantle, Western Australia, on a Southern Australia & Tasmania cruise from Fremantle to Sydney. Images uploaded by Bahnfrend

A Miami judge issued a warrant that gives officials the ability to seize the Crystal Symphony ship if it enters U.S. waters. Passengers and crew on board told news outlets that the cruise ship diverted to the Bahamas instead of returning to South Florida.

Xivi Medina, a vendor aboard the Crystal Symphony, told NBC Miami that there are no passengers on board now. The only people on board are crew members and vendors.

“The company is going to take care of getting all the crewmembers back home,” said Medina. “Obviously they’re [going to] do it little by little, but the company is buying the tickets to get each of the crewmembers back to their respective countries.”

Elio Pace, a singer performing on the Crystal Symphony, also wrote that the ship was diverted.

“Would you believe me if I told you that yesterday, Friday, (the night of my second show) after all arrangements had been set for flights, car hire, etc by all disembarking passengers and crew, we were notified by the captain that the ship was no longer sailing to Miami and was instead diverting to Bimini in the Bahamas where we would arrive tomorrow, Sunday, and disembark from there?” he wrote on Instagram.

A passenger wrote on Twitter to travel agent Mundy Cruising: “Can you help me change my flight to Heathrow from Miami as we are stuck on Crystal Symphony which has changed route and is now heading for Bahamas instead of Miami.”

In a court complaint, Peninsula Petroleum claimed that Crystal Cruises owes the firm $4.6 million dollars in unpaid fuel bills, including $1 million from the Crystal Symphony alone, according to Local10.

According to court documents, “Peninsula has not been paid for the maritime necessities provided to the vessel, and therefore proceeds to arrest it.” A Miami-based judge issued a warrant saying officials can seize the ship, NBC Miami reported.

J. Stephen Simms, the lead attorney representing Peninsula Petroleum Far East, told Bloomberg that U.S. marshals and a court-appointed custodian are ready to seize the ship if it comes into port in Florida. Crystal Cruises’ parent firm, Genting Hong Kong, filed for provisional liquidation last Wednesday, according to the news outlet.

The Crystal Symphony cruise left Miami on Jan. 8 for a 21-day through the Bahamas. It was supposed to return to Florida on Jan. 29, media reports say.

Crystal Cruises announced earlier this week that it was suspending operations through late April. Besides Crystal Symphony, it has two other ships currently cruising, which end their voyages on Jan. 30 in Aruba and on Feb. 4 in Argentina.

“Suspending operations will provide Crystal’s management team with an opportunity to evaluate the current state of business and examine various options moving forward,” said the company in a statement earlier this week.

The Epoch Times has contacted Crystal Cruises for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips

Breaking News Reporter

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Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.

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Fact-Checkers Are Used to Confuse the Public: Sharyl Attkisson

By Masooma Haq and Jan Jekielek | January 23, 2022 Updated: January 23, 2022

Sharyl Attkisson, a five-time Emmy Award winning investigative journalist and host of
Sharyl Attkisson, a five-time Emmy Award winning investigative journalist and host of “Full Measure,” in Leesburg, Virginia, on Jan. 14, 2022. (York Du/The Epoch Times)

Five-time Emmy award-winning journalist Sharyl Attkisson said she has seen an increased effort to manipulate the public to appreciate censorship and disapprove of journalism. One of the strategies that has been employed is the use of third-party fact-checkers, she said.

“Nearly every mode of information has been co-opted, if it can be co-opted by some group, [and] fact-checkers are no different,” Attkisson told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders.”

“Either they’ve been co-opted, in many instances, or created for the purpose of distributing narratives and propaganda,” said Attkisson. “This is all part of a very well-funded, well-organized landscape that dictates and slants the information they want us to have.”

Attkisson said she first started to notice news being controlled in the early 2000s when the media company she was working for was actively trying to suppress certain stories.

“The pushback came to be more about keeping a story from airing or keeping a study from being reported on the news, not just giving the other side, not just making sure it was accurately reported,” she said of pharmaceutical company stories she was covering at the time.

In 2016 Attkisson heard former President Barack Obama say news needed to be curated, after which mainstream media outlets started to consistently use the term fake news to describe mostly conservative news stories that they deemed untrue.

“And I remember thinking that was such a strange thing to say, because there was no big movement among the public, that people needed to have their information curated, that someone needed to step in and tell us what to think, curate what was online. But … after that, if you look at the media, day after day, there were headlines about fake news and curation of what should and shouldn’t be reported.”

Attkisson was referring to Obama’s comment at the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in October 2016.

“It’s relevant to our democracy, citizenship. We’re going to have to rebuild, within this wild, wild west of information flow, some sort of curating function that people agree to,” Obama said.

Because Attkisson was curious about this idea of curating news, she researched the topic of misinformation, which led her to a non-profit called First Draft, which was funded by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wave to delegates after Obama’s speech during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, on July 27, 2016. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)
President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wave to delegates after Obama’s speech during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, on July 27, 2016. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

“And if you looked at the nonprofit’s website when they said fake news, they meant entirely conservative-base fake news and their viewpoint; there was no liberal version of fake news. And then within a matter of weeks, President Obama gives the speech, the media takes off and runs with it.”

Attkisson said the fake news phrase was actually started by the left but was effectively turned on its head by former President Donald Trump and now most people think he coined the phrase.

“But it’s actually well documented as an invention of political activists on the left during the time period I described,” Attkisson said.

For her book “Smear” she interviewed people who work to spread misinformation and propaganda with the goal of confusing the public. “And they explained to me that, if they do nothing more than confuse the information landscape, maybe you don’t totally buy what they say, but they’ve done enough to make you not sure of anything.”

Censorship During the Pandemic

Attkisson criticized large news outlets for being a “mouthpiece” of the government or other special interest groups instead of challenging them or holding them accountable, particularly as it relates to the pandemic.

She said that soon after the pandemic began, she spoke to many scientists, government as well as private, about the virus and the course it was taking before she formed an opinion. She asked some of the scientists to speak out but they were afraid.

“They said they dare not speak out for fear of being controversial, and for fear of being called coronavirus deniers, because that phrase was starting to be used in the media. And secondly, they feared contradicting Dr. Fauci, who they said had been kind of lionized or canonized in the press for reasons that they couldn’t understand.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Jan. 11, 2022. (Shawn Thew/Getty Images)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Jan. 11, 2022. (Shawn Thew/Getty Images)

Dr. Anthony Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, which allowed him to advise seven presidents on public health issues, including COVID-19. He has been accused of misleading the public about funding gain of function research in China.

Attkisson said the National Institutes of Health used taxpayer money to fund gain of function research in China but media reports were to the contrary.

“And then the narrative is being managed another way I remember after reviewing the grants themselves to my satisfaction, because I didn’t know what was true till I found the documentation and then still hearing, not just public health figures, but reporters claim as if they know the truth, that none of this had happened.”

She said that another way to confuse the public about the truth is to label something a conspiracy, like the lab leak theory connected to the novel coronavirus.

“And yet when you hear people say ‘conspiracy theory’ that’s designed to pluck this little part of your brain that says, well, that thing’s not true,” said Attkisson. “And I always keep an open mind and say, that crazy thing that they say is a conspiracy theory may well have some truth in it.”

Attkisson believes the reason some people can be manipulated into believing the narrative put out by corporate media is that they live in “a box,” meaning the Internet is their only source of information.

“And the people that want to control the information understand that if they can only control really a few basic sources—we’re talking about Google and Twitter and Facebook and Wikipedia—they’ve got a lock on information, because we’ve all been funneled to those few sources.”

She said their goal is to make you believe you are in the minority and make you afraid to raise objections to the narrative. “You can be made to believe that if you live in the box, so I’m constantly telling people, live outside the box. Yes, you can get information there and do what you do online. But certainly, trust your cognitive dissonance. Talk to the people around you.”

Masooma Haq

Masooma Haq

Jan Jekielek

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Jan Jekielek is a senior editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, “American Thought Leaders.” Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, and international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as website chief editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film “Finding Manny.”

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Marxist Revolution in the Making in America, Expert Warns

Protesters rally on the steps of the State House during a Black Lives Matter rally in Providence, R.I., on June 5, 2020. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)
Protesters rally on the steps of the State House during a Black Lives Matter rally in Providence, R.I., on June 5, 2020. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

There is a phenomenon being observed in America today, “an attempt at changing reality” to foster a new Marxist revolution, said Mike Gonzalez, an author of two books on this topic.

According to Marxist thought, “reality is just put together by our conceptual framework,“ Gonzalez told EpochTV’s “Crossroads” program.

“So what we see with Black Lives Matter, what we see with the 1619 Project … is to replace the American narrative, to replace the idea of America from: all men are created equal, we’re all free … with this idea that we’re an awful country, that our history is hideous, that our system is racist itself—that the system must be changed.”

Most people believe that reality cannot be changed because they believe in an ultimate and fundamental truth, in natural law, or in God, but Marxists do not believe in any of that, Gonzalez said.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) used the death of George Floyd as an excuse to change society, Gonzalez explained, “to dismantle the organizing principle of society”—in the words of BLM co-founder Alicia Garza.

Gonzalez said that the concept of Black Lives Matter is “unimpeachable.”

“Seven billion people on earth matter. And we’re all children of God. But I think it’s important—given our history—to affirm that the lives of our black co-citizens, compatriots, matter because we know the history.”

But Black Lives Matter is also the movement and the organization BLM Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF), said Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

The BLM founders say that they were trained Marxists

Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, speaks in Los Angeles, Calif., in a file photograph. (Rich Fury/Getty Images for Teen Vogue)
Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, speaks in Los Angeles, Calif., in a file photograph. (Rich Fury/Getty Images for Teen Vogue)

Patrisse Cullors, a BLM co-founder said in an interview with Real News Network in 2015, “We actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia [Garza] in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists.”

“Cullors trained for a decade as a radical organizer in the Labor/Community Strategy Center, established and run by Eric Mann, a former member of the Weather Underground, the 1960s radical faction identified by the FBI as a domestic terrorist group,” Gonzalez wrote for the Heritage Foundation.

The group, originally called “Weathermen,” explained in its 1969 foundational statement that they were dedicated to “the destruction of U.S. imperialism and the achievement of a classless world: world communism.”

Alicia Garza, a co-founder of BLM, was trained by the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), an institution founded by Harmony Goldberg, Ph. D., a scholar in cultural anthropology, Gonzalez said.

Goldberg is also an expert on Antonio Gramsci (pdf), the founder of Italy’s communist party in the 1920s and a Marxist intellectual. She understands Gramsci’s theory of the war of position, the concept of recruiting people, organizing them, training them, and convincing them to replace one culture with another culture, Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez cited the words of Gramsci, who said that in the West, in societies with strong civic society, you need to have a war of position.

Gramsci likened political “warfare” to military warfare, where the war of position is akin “to trench warfare, settling in for a long-term struggle with strategic smaller victories to gain more territory bit by bit,” as opposed to the warfare of movement which is like “a rapid military attack,” Bradley Thomas, a libertarian activist, and writer wrote for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

“In other words, you have to take the worker, infiltrate them, indoctrinate them, teach them that the family was a form of oppression, teach them that the nation-state was a form of oppression, teaching that private property led to war and more oppression. And that is what we have today, except here in America, we practice it through the lens of the race with critical race theory,” Gonzales said.

The core of Marx’s thought is that the family, the nation-state, private property, as well as the beliefs in God and religion, had to be abolished, Gonzalez said, adding that the workers at that time didn’t agree with any of that.

From the mid-19th century all the way till 1917 when the first Marxist revolution succeeded, the workers during these 70 or so years liked the nation-state, were patriotic, loyal to God, and really liked private property, Gonzalez continued.

Therefore, the Marxist revolution failed miserably in Central and Western Europe—exactly the place where Marx had said that it would succeed, Gonzalez explained.

“These communist thinkers in Italy and Germany came up with the idea that Marx had been right on the strategy on getting rid of the nation, state, and private property but his tactic needed to be upgraded.”

“Marx’s tactic was that it was going to be the material forces of society, economics was going to determine everything,” but these communist intellectuals in the 1920s in Europe realized that it was culture—not economy—which accounts for how man behaves, Gonzalez said. “The Marxism we see in America today—it’s that type of Marxism.”

“The communists who trained the founders of BLM organizations … took their cues from these cultural Marxists of the 1920s from Europe.”

BLM’s Impact

A Black Lives Matter protester is seen at a riot in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 1, 2020. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)
A Black Lives Matter protester is seen at a riot in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 1, 2020. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)

At a gathering of Maine progressives in 2019, Garza said: “America itself was founded on violence, steeped in white supremacy and predicated on theft and genocide.

“When we talk about fighting white nationalism, fighting white supremacy, we’re not talking about fighting white people. We’re talking about changing how we’ve organized this country so that we actually can achieve the justice that we are fighting for. I believe we all have work to do to keep dismantling the organizing principle of this society, which creates inequities for everyone, even white people,” Garza said according to Maine Beacon.

“In 2020, we had months of de-stabilization. And … with critical race theory, there’s been a real attempt at changing our culture from within,” Gonzalez said.

According to the U.S. Crisis Monitor, in 2020 after the death of George Floyd, 633 riots took place, Gonzalez said. The Insurance Information Institute said that these riots were the costliest civil unrest in U.S. history with insured losses estimated at over $2 billion.

BLM activists were involved in 95 percent of the 633 riots for which the identity of the perpetrators was known, according to Gonzalez.

“I take that seriously. … That’s why I wrote my book: BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution,” Gonzalez said.

The Epoch Times reached out to Black Lives Matter for comment.

The results of the riots have been felt until today, the expert noted.

“The jump in the murder rate in 2020 was astronomical. It was 30 percent,” Gonzalez said. “It was the highest increase in the homicide rate in history,” he added. “We know from statistics that over 50 percent of people murdered are African Americans.

“So this is a lot of additional black lives that were lost. Don’t they matter?” Gonzalez asked rhetorically.

BLM had a plan when it carried out protests and riots in 2020, Gonzalez continued.

The organization proposed federal legislation in July 2020 called the BREATHE Act. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D- Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D- Mass.), called for defunding the police and replacing them with a new approach to community safety. Cullors, the BLM Executive Director described this approach as a “new, non-punitive, and non-carceral approaches to community safety that would incentivize states to shrink their criminal-legal systems and center the protection of Black lives,” according to a BLM report.

BLM also partnered with the musical Hamilton and Sprite soda brand to increase the voter turnout in the 2020 election, the report said. The organization has been spreading its curriculum that promotes critical race theory in the country’s 14,000 school districts, Gonzalez wrote in his book.

The organization has millions in financial resources obtained through fundraising. “Across our entities and partners, we have raised just over $90 million in one year, 2020” with the average donation of $30.64, the BLM report said, while their expenses such as staffing, operating and administrative expenses, civic engagement, programs, and field expenses, rapid response, and crisis intervention, and its “get out the vote” campaign amounted to $8.4 million.

BLM sent out 127 million emails related to their activities in 2020 which resulted in 1.2 million actions taken, according to its report.

In addition to the book about BLM, Gonzalez also wrote earlier the book, “The Plot to Change America: How Identity Politics Is Dividing the Land of the Free.”

The author explained why he penned these books that expose the Marxist infiltration in America.

“The fact that I spent the first 12 years of my life in a communist country in Cuba has made me recognize them right away. … I know how culture was destroyed. I know how a country was destroyed. America is my country. I don’t want to see happen to America [what has happened] to the country of my birth.”

Mike Gonzalez, senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, in Washington on Sep. 22, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Mike Gonzalez, senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, in Washington on Sep. 22, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Ella Kietlinska

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Ella Kietlinska is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.

Joshua Philipp

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Joshua Philipp is an award-winning investigative reporter with The Epoch Times and host of EpochTV’s “Crossroads” program. He is a recognized expert on unrestricted warfare, asymmetrical hybrid warfare, subversion, and historical perspectives on today’s issues. His 10-plus years of research and investigations on the Chinese Communist Party, subversion, and related topics give him unique insight into the global threat and political landscape.

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Florida’s Stop WOKE Act Makes It Through Committee Stage

Republican Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. (Courtesy of the Florida Senate)
Republican Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. (Courtesy of the Florida Senate)

In Gov. Ron DeSantis’ fight to eradicate “wokism” from schools and the workplace, a bill has made it through committee that has promise of making it to his desk to become law.

HB 148 or the “Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees Act (WOKE),” which the governor said would “do a number of things that are very important”, is now being heard by the judiciary committee.

The bill’s goal is to prohibit Critical Race Theory (CRT) from being taught in schools or used in employee training sessions, the bill’s sponsor Republican state Senator Manny Diaz Jr. said.

Diaz said the bill is designed to protect individual freedoms in the workplace and would prohibit employers from subjecting employees to any type of certification process, examination, or any other “required activity” that is centered on any number of race-related concepts.

DeSantis described them as things that could create a “hostile working environment.”

“This corporate CRT, it’s basically corporate sanctioned racism,” DeSantis said at an October 2021 press conference.

It is DeSantis’ belief that the current law allows employees to claim violation of their civil rights, but if it doesn’t the law will be changed to address “harassment.”

Diaz said the bill is to make sure that training and testing is objective and that guilt is not assigned to a person because of their “ethnic background or the color of their skin.”

Epoch Times Photo
Republican Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. (Courtesy of the Florida Senate)

In a written statement Diaz said, “The aim of this is to clearly have those discussions, to talk about the tough conversations, and have it done in a manner where there’s an open dialogue.”

“I think that we have to go back to the premise that all of us are created equal and we should be judged on our individual merits or deeds not a blanket statement,” he continued.

Even though it does not mention CRT by name, the bill does seek to ban it as part of Florida’s curriculum standards.

Over the summer the State Board of Education passed a CRT ban even though it is not currently taught in Florida public schools.

Diaz said that the bill is in part due to he and other legislators fielding calls from parents with concerns about CRT potentially being taught in the classroom.

“A lot of us have heard from individual parents with concerns,” he said. “The measure is a preemptive attempt to provide clarity.”

Epoch Times Photo
Democrat Sen. Shevrin Jones (Courtesy of the Florida Senate)

During the committee hearing on Jan. 18 Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, said that the proposed legislation would “suppress teachers’ freedom to teach certain subject areas.”

“All this legislation is going to do is to promote ignorance of race-related content and other content that children should know about and should have access to,” Jones, a former classroom teacher said during committee.

The governor has other ideas and said that “Marxism” is at the heart of critical race theory.

“I think what you see now with the rise of this woke ideology is an attempt to really delegitimize our history and our institutions,” DeSantis said. “It (CRT) will tear at the fabric of our society and our culture and things that really we’ve taken for granted.”

However, some House Democrats are saying no to the bill because it could lead to “frivolous lawsuits.”

Epoch Times Photo
Democrate Sen. Tina Scott Polsky. (Courtesy of the Florida Senate)

Democratic State Sen. Tina Scott Polsky, an attorney, fears that the bill is “turning the Legislature into the thought police.”

Polsky told committee members that part of the bill dealing with employer training is “awful for the business community.”

“Now we’re telling a company if they want to teach anti-discrimination, they want to teach diversity, they want to teach unconscious bias, which is a course in the Florida Senate, that they will potentially be creating the cause of action from a disgruntled employee,” she told the committee on Jan. 18.

“I do this all the time; people bring lawsuits because they get terminated and they’re really upset. And they try to find a reason as to why they were terminated.”

To date similar legislation has been proposed in 22 states and signed into law in five—Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee.  Some supporters of SB 148 say they would like to see it mirror Oklahoma and Iowa’s legislation.

Florida groups that are opposed to the bill include the National Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Florida’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) of Florida, and Equality Florida.

The state ACLU weighed in on the billon their website after the Jan. 18 meeting.

“Gov. DeSantis and his allies in the Legislature are trying to prevent students and employees from having an open dialogue about our country’s history—one that acknowledges the role of racism in the United States and includes the experiences and viewpoints of people of color and other marginalized communities,” the statement said.

The union is concerned about “historical erasure and censorship” that would “threaten everyone.”

“The proposal is part of a new nationwide attempt to erase the history and lived experiences of marginalized communities,” the statement read. “This is also a blatant attempt to suppress speech.”

The ACLU went on to advocate First Amendment protections such as shared ideas and that banning discussion of gender and race discrimination “oversteps the state’s authority to determine school curricula”, and creates government censorship and overreach.”

“Students and employees deserve to have a free and open exchange about our history and its impact on our communities,” it said.

“Legislators should not interfere with a student or employee’s right to receive and inclusive education just because certain aspects of our history make some people uncomfortable.”

A similar House bill, HB-7 is awaiting committee action as well.

Jannis Falkenstern

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Jannis Falkenstern is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Florida.

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