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When I began Schwartzreport my purpose was to produce an entirely fact-based daily publication in favor of the earth, the inter-connectedness and interdependence of all life, democracy, equality for all, liberty, and things that are life-affirming. Also, to warn my readers about actions, events, and trends that threaten those values. Our country now stands at a crossroads, indeed, the world stands at a crossroads where those values are very much at risk and it is up to each of us who care about wellbeing to do what we can to defend those principles. I want to thank all of you who have contributed to SR, particularly those of you who have scheduled an ongoing monthly contribution. It makes a big difference and is much appreciated. It is one thing to put in the hours each day and to do the work for free, but another to have to cover the rising out-of-pocket costs. For those of you who haven’t done so, but read SR regularly, I ask that you consider supporting it.

— Stephan

SCHWARTZ REPORT PODCAST

Schwartz Report Episode 43: Nonlocal Consciousness and The Anthropology of Dreams

References to further explore this episode can be found HERE

Billionaires Take Sides as Turbulent Presidential Race Heats Up

Stephan: 

This is already out of date because of Elon Musk’s commitment to donate $45 million a month to Trump. But I am running it to make what I think is the important relevant point. I have been telling you for decades now that America’s growing wealth inequality plus the legalization of political bribery as a result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and the Snynder v. United States decisions has resulted in billionaires and millionaires on both sides of politics bribing politicians to get what they want. Our democracy is being shredded as a result. We need to convert to publicly funded elections, and we need to have Congress pass laws outlawing political bribery at any level.

The US presidential election has seen a wave of unprecedented events, but one constant has been donor money pouring into campaign coffers. 

Since surviving an assassination attempt on Saturday, former President Donald Trump has received a cascade of money, capped by billionaire Elon Musk’s pledge to donate $45 million a month to a super political action committee that aims to pay for Trump’s ground game in battleground states. 

Despite a disastrous performance at the first presidential debate that caused murmurs that he should step aside to mount to a chorus, President Joe Biden raised $38 million from the day of the debate to the end of June for his campaign and party. Democratic mega donors also rallied to support him. Hedge fund manager George Soros donated $5 million to Future Forward PAC, the main super PAC backing Biden the day after the debate. Former Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt and real estate developer Herbert Simon made six-figure donations to Biden’s campaign and the Democratic Party in recent weeks.

However, others, like Netflix Inc.’s Reed Hastings, say they’ll withhold funds unless there’s another […]

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Elon Musk and Peter Thiel’s War on Democracy

Stephan: 

Elon Musk and Peter Thiel are explicitly trying end democracy in the United States. They have been joined by other billionaires, but they are the main villains in this naked attempt to end our democracy. What can you do. If you are on X delete and stop. If you own a Tesla, sell it. These men are villains who seek to change and degrade your life and the lives of your children forever, make no mistake about that.

Elon Musk (left) and Peter Thiel Credit: AP / Adobe Stock, graphic by Truthdig

Elon Musk and entrepreneur and investor David Sacks reportedly held a secret billionaire dinner party in Hollywood last month. Its purpose: to defeat Joe Biden and reinstall Donald Trump in the White House. The guest list included Peter Thiel, Rupert Murdoch, Michael Milken, Travis Kalanick, and Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s Treasury secretary.

Meanwhile, Musk is turning up the volume and frequency of his anti-Biden harangues on his X platform.

Since January, Musk has posted about Biden at least seven times a month, attacking the president for everything from his age to his policies on immigration and health. Last month, Musk posted on X that Biden “obviously barely knows what’s going on” and that “He is just a tragic front for a far left political machine.”

So far this year, Musk has posted more than 20 times in favor of Trump, arguing that he’s a victim of media and prosecutorial bias in the 

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‘There are no guardrails’: Supreme Court empowers cities to take tougher steps to police homelessness

Stephan: 

One of the outcomes of the grotesque wealth inequality in the United States has been the massive increase in homeless people. In many American cities, if you walk the streets of the city or look in the parks or along the highways you see thousands of men and women who have been reduced to living in a tent or a wooden box. It has become something that defines American cities and that visitors from Europe, the Nordic countries, or Asia find so appalling it is one of the major memories they take away from a visit to this country. I just got an email from a reader who lives in Norway telling me he had read about this, but found it hard to believe how bad it actually was, asking me, “Why are your city, state, and federal governments doing so little to help theses desperate people?” The answer, of course, is that to politicians, especially MAGAt politicians, financed by the uber-rich the poor are nothing but peasants whose wellbeing is of little interest to them.

Frank, a homeless man, sits in his tent with a river view on June 5, 2021, in Portland, Oregon. Credit: Paula Bronstein / AP

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA — The Supreme Court has granted mayors broad powers to combat the homelessness crisis, including by jailing people for sleeping outside. Now, leaders along the West Coast must decide how far they’re willing to go.

The Grants Pass v. Johnson ruling last month will have major ramifications everywhere from Northeast cities struggling with a deluge of migrants to Sun Belt boom towns facing huge shortages of affordable housing. But the effect is most dramatic along the West Coast, where lower court rulings had severely limited city officials’ authority to clear encampments even as the region became the epicenter of a national homelessness crisis.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed captured the frustration among many Democratic mayors when she praised the conservative-majority Supreme Court’s ruling.

“Those who refuse our help or those who already have shelter will […]

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Is gun violence an epidemic in the U.S.? Experts and history say it is

Stephan: 

Studies show the the largest population of gun killers are lonely isolated White men. I have thought a lot about why this is the case. One obvious part of an answer is the laxity of gun laws. But there is more to it than that. When I was young men there was a draft and a large percentage of young men went into the armed forces. Where you both hung out and were part of a group with a purpose. And society as whole recognized this, because fathers, uncles, cousins, even mothers and aunts were veterans. All that is gone now. Only about one percent of Americans today are involved with the military. Then you have the trends toward racial and gender equality which frightens and creates resentment in psychologically unstable White men. The Incel movement reflects this aspect of the epidemic of gun violence. All of it is a manifestation of America’s growing social disorder.

Credit: Kriston Jae Bethel / AFP / Getty

Six months into the year, more than 21,000 people have died because of gun-related injuries in the United States.

Doctors and public health officials have a word to describe the rising number of people killed or hurt by guns in recent years: epidemic.

“I would certainly consider the problem of firearm injuries and firearm violence as an epidemic in the United States,” said Patrick Carter, director of the University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, whose research is partly funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“When we think about what the term epidemic means, it means a sudden increase in the numbers, or incidents, of an event over what would be considered a baseline level,” Carter told Morning Edition.

Since the mid-2000s, the United States has seen year-after-year increases in the number of deaths and injuries from guns “that would mirror what we would consider to be a sudden increase consistent with an epidemic,” Carter said.

The “epidemic” label and what it means

For those charged with protecting public health in the […]

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Growing Evidence of ‘Harm’ From Social Media, Says Surgeon General

Stephan: 

Social media with its torrent of misinformation and lies, AI generated fake audio, and fake porn, its use to make classmates and fellow workers humiliated and hurt is, as the Surgeon General of the United States spells out, causing great social damage. Through it all the Congress sits on its hands and does nothing. Social media is a major factor in the creation of two countries in a single nation.

MedPage Today’s editor-in-chief Jeremy Faust, MD, (left) sits down with
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA,

In this exclusive video interview, MedPage Today‘s editor-in-chief Jeremy Faust, MD, sits down with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, to talk about his advisoryopens in a new tab or window on social media and youth mental health.

The following is a transcript of their remarks:

Faust: Hello, I’m Jeremy Faust, Editor-in-Chief of MedPage Today. I’m so glad to be joined today by Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Dr. Murthy is the 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the United States, and he has issued a number of very important public health advisories, which we will discuss today. Dr. Vivek Murthy, thank you so much for joining us.

Murthy: Of course. I’m glad to join you, Jeremy.

Faust: Recently, I think there’s been a lot of talk about social media and your advisory regarding social media use. I’ve heard you speak in a very nuanced way about this, and my initial take is that the dose makes the poison or that certain forms are less harmful than others. And right there on page […]

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The World’s Problems Explained in One Issue: Electricity

Stephan: 

Here you see an excellent analysis of why so many countries in the world are being so slow to prepare for climate change. Simple answer: Because profit is the only priority that matters. As this piece describes to exit the carbon era, the electrical systems cannot be principally petroleum fueled as they are in the United States. As the author says, “The idea that markets are the best way to solve social problems or distribute scarce resources must be one of the most thoroughly exploded propositions in the history of social thought.” Markets have only one priority, profit. Read, and weep for our children’s future.

A figure looks at the dynamic map board showing power distribution through California’s electrical grids in the control center of the California Independent System Operator, 2004.
Credit: David McNew / Getty 

The idea that markets are the best way to solve social problems or distribute scarce resources must be one of the most thoroughly exploded propositions in the history of social thought. Proponents of this notion have accumulated quite a list of qualifiers and exceptions: asymmetric information, market failures, natural monopolies, externalities, imperfect competition, irrationality, public goods, time inconsistency, and principal-agent problems, just to name a few. The empirical record is even worse. We are now more than 40 years into a global process of generating more markets in more things, including healthcare, childcare, education, housing, energy, and retirement. The results are unambiguous: The great expansion of the marketplace, and the long process of privatization and liberalization needed to achieve it, has led to a world that is more […]

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The American republic is crumbling before us – and Democrats must share the blame

Stephan: 

Throughout the day I have watched different channels cover the Trump Republican Party convention. It is astonishing. Every person speaking at the convention does nothing but lie and spread misinformation. I have never seen anything like it. Meanwhile Biden is diagnosed with Covid and we have only 110 days until the election. And then there are the polls. If you haven’t realized that our democracy hangs by a fraying thread, now is the time to wake up. This election is not about political partisanship. It is about democracy vs Project 2025.

A memorial sign near the site of the attempted assassination of Donald Trump, Butler, Pennsylvania, 16 July 2024. 
Credit: Carlos Osorio / Reuters

Has the US entered its late Soviet phase? The country is a gerontocracy led by ailing leaders and with a crisis of confidence in its dominant ideology; it is a flailing superpower suffering foreign humiliation (not least in Afghanistan); and its economic system struggles to meet the needs of many of its people. The similarities are a little uncanny.

There are, of course, clear differences too. The US is a democracy, albeit one severely compromised by wealthy vested interests and concerted rightwing efforts to weaken voting rights, and it is a racially diverse union of states, rather than an unstable federation of nations. But, crucially, if Joe Biden is a Leonid Brezhnev or one of his two short-lived elderly successors, then Donald Trump is no Mikhail Gorbachev: he is more of an American Vladimir Putin.

The attempted assassination of Trump marks a further descent into the darkness. Earlier this year, a poll found that more than a third of Americans believe 

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Almost two-thirds of Democrats want Biden to step down, poll finds

Stephan: 

I think Biden should announce his retirement. He would leave and history would see him as perhaps the most successful President since Franklin Roosevelt. If he stays and loses I think history will revile him for for letting his ego and his family’s egos put himself above his nation’s best interests. If he stays and wins it will be seen as one of the greatest upset wins in American history. We are going to know how this turns out in 110 days.

President Joe Biden at the White House. Credit: Kevin Dietsch / Getty

A whopping 65% of Democrats believe President Biden should withdraw from the 2024 presidential race and let the party pick a different nominee, according to an AP-Norc poll out Wednesday.

Why it matters: The findings add more evidence to the damage done by Biden’s disastrous debate performance last month, which highlighted longstanding concerns about his age and fitness for office.

  • The results based on a survey of 1,253 adults also fly in the face of Biden’s own claim that the “average voter” wants him to stay in the race.

The big picture: Overall, 70% of U.S. voters want Biden to withdraw from the 2024 race, while only 57% want to see former President Trump withdraw.

  • However, Trump enjoys high support from within his own party. Only 26% of Republicans think he should exit the race and let the GOP pick a different candidate, while 73% of Republicans want him to keep running.
  • Only 35% […]
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