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Frontiers of Freedom Statement on Transnational Repression

Frontiers of Freedom strongly condemns acts of transnational repression by autocratic regimes who target citizens, investors and business owners in free societies, particularly through the abuse of the Interpol Red Notice process and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT).

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) defines transnational repression as the targeting of individuals residing in the United States for harassment and intimidation by foreign governments. This violates U.S. law, and frequently targets business owners who exercise their legal rights under international conventions in defiance of foreign governments who refuse to respect the rule of law.

A 2022 report from Freedom House, a leading human rights organization, highlighted increasingly aggressive cases of transnational repression by autocratic regimes looking to silence their opponents. The report details a stark increase in worldwide cases of transnational repression in 2021, with 85 new cases of “public, direct, physical incidents of transnational repression” reported last year alone. The 42-page indictment warns of an alarming uptick of “brazen” actions by these regimes that seek to exploit international bodies like Interpol to advance their political agenda. The report names a number of countries that “demonstrated a dangerous disregard for international law, democratic norms, and state sovereignty”.

Organizations like Interpol are often abused by authoritarian governments who issue “Red Notices against dissidents and exiles” as part of their intimidation and harassment tactics to pursue opponents beyond their own borders.

These Red Notice requests often are baseless and unlawful. Foreign regimes have repeatedly used Interpol to target investors and businesspersons engaged in contractual disputes against the state, and who have lawfully exercised their right to challenge foreign governments who seek to retaliate against them for their efforts.

Through their abuse of Interpol, autocratic regimes also violate the MLATs they have entered into with the United States. One notable offender, India, was exposed in a July 2022 letter from U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Senator Grassley expressed serious concern about the abuse of MLATs and the Interpol Red Notice process being perpetrated by the Modi regime and emphasized the critical role that the Department of Justice plays in protecting American citizens and businesspersons from unlawful attempts by autocratic regimes to “undermine the rule of law“ and “retaliate against adverse litigants in international disputes.

In a global economy, business owners and foreign investors are entitled to the rights and freedoms granted to them under international law. It is the duty of democratic nations to protect them as well as the international institutions autocratic regimes seek to exploit.

Interpol’s own rules and procedures prohibit the request of Red Notices in cases that involve political motivation or private contractual disputes. However, Interpol is flooded with requests on a regular basis, allowing abusive, illegitimate requests to slip through the cracks.

Countries like Russia, Turkey, and India have for too long gone unchecked in their abuse of MLATs and organizations like Interpol. Frontiers of Freedom is dedicated to exposing these regimes and their attempts to violate the rights and freedoms granted to all persons around the world through their abusive campaigns and unlawful actions. 

The rise in transnational repression and abuse of Interpol present a dangerous challenge to the world’s foremost protectors of democratic freedoms and human rights. The time has come to ensure substantial oversight of the Interpol Red Notice process, prevent abuse of MLATs and encourage further cooperation to combat the dangerous rise in transnational repression we are experiencing. 

Quote from George Landrith, President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom:

“Every individual from a free society who is victimized by an autocratic regime is part of the broader global human rights struggle, including business owners who exercise their rights under the law.  

The rule of law isn’t some legal mumbo-jumbo or technicality.  It is the foundation of the concept that we are all equal before the law and that we are all entitled to the law’s protection; and that the law must prevent an authoritarian government from using its considerable power and authority to bully law-abiding people into submission. 

Free societies must protect the rights and freedoms of all individuals who are targeted by tyrants.”


The GOP Summer Swoon

Republicans learn that a midterm victory won't come easily

By Matthew Continetti • The Washington Free Beacon

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) / Getty Images

Today caps off the worst week yet for Republicans in the 2022 campaign cycle. Their troubles began with Senate passage of the Chips and Science Act on Wednesday, July 27, and culminated in the Kansas pro-life rout on Tuesday, August 2. Before last week, the party was riding a red wave to victory in November’s elections. Now, one month before the campaign begins in earnest on Labor Day, aimless Republicans must fend off a Democratic Party that is playing offense.

Yes, the fundamentals continue to favor the GOP. Voters do not like this economy. They blame President Biden for inflation and supply shortages. The president’s job approval rating is 39 percent in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls. Republicans are enthusiastic, Democrats less so. Nancy Pelosi’s days as speaker of the House are numbered: The FiveThirtyEight model gives the GOP an 80 percent chance of winning the lower chamber of Congress.

Yet Republicans want more than control of the House. No one wants to repeat the gridlock, frustration, debt crises, shutdowns, and sequester that roiled the country when Democrats held the White House and Senate between 2011 and 2015. If Republicans gain only in the House, Biden won’t feel as much pressure to triangulate off the GOP Congress. He will be able to count on Senate Democrats to confirm his executive and judicial branch appointees. He will turn Kevin McCarthy and the MAGA Squad into foils and scapegoats. The media will be happy to play along.

The GOP needs a full-spectrum victory if it wants to stop the left and shock Democrats into abandoning Biden. The data and events of the past week suggest that the party has a way to go. For starters: Republicans have enjoyed a modest lead in the congressional generic ballot since January. Now the ballot is tied.

Meanwhile, according to FiveThirtyEight, the GOP nominee leads in only one of six key Senate races. The lucky Republican is Ted Budd in North Carolina. He’s ahead of Cheri Beasley by 1 point. The other Republicans are either close behind (Adam Laxalt in Nevada) or far gone (Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania). The GOP needs to net one seat to win Senate control. If the election were held at the time of writing, the party would lose three.

I know, I know: Most of these races are tight. Surveys this far out are unreliable. There is time for Republican challengers to define their opposition. How candidates react under pressure to unknown events in the coming months will be important. Polls of registered voters or all adults do not consider the widespread GOP enthusiasm that will be reflected in polls of likely voters this fall. And state-based polling has been notoriously off since at least the 2014 cycle.

Still, there is no denying that Republicans are acting less confident than just a week ago. The reason? They have been surprised and shell-shocked. Senate leader Mitch McConnell pledged that Republicans would block the $280 billion Chips and Science Act of 2022 for as long as Democrats tried to reach agreement among themselves on a big-spending reconciliation bill. Republicans mistakenly assumed that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia was opposed to reconciliation because of inflation. To be fair, he said exactly that on July 14.

On July 27, 17 Republicans voted to pass the Chips Act, subsidizing U.S. semiconductors for reasons of national security. Hours later, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he had reached a deal with Manchin on a climate, health care, and tax bill absurdly known as the “Inflation Reduction Act.” Regardless of whether the deal holds, the Senate Republicans had been outmaneuvered. “Looks to me like we got rinky-doo’d,” said Sen. John Kennedy. “That’s a Louisiana word for ‘screwed.'”https://659b56ca16f539d2f2f5e86f3a679aa6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Then, on August 2, voters in Kansas rejected an effort to overturn a state court’s ruling that the Sunflower State constitution guarantees a right to abortion. Similar referenda allowing state legislatures to regulate abortion have passed in West Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Louisiana. But this was the first such initiative put to the ballot since the Supreme Court held Roe v. Wade unconstitutional. Kansas voted for Donald Trump by 15 points in 2020—and voted to maintain a state right to abortion by 18 points in 2022.

Kansas was a defeat for the pro-life movement. It also scared Republican strategists, whose eyes bugged out at the huge Democratic turnout in the middle of the summer. The GOP consultant class was leery of abortion politics to begin with. Now it is all but guaranteed to steer its clients away from a debate over the issue.

This is the wrong response. Too many Republican candidates won’t defend their stance on abortion and provide counter examples of pro-choice extremism. Afraid of what the party’s pro-life ultras might say, Republicans opt for reticence and mixed messaging on abortion rather than offering measures that command public support.https://659b56ca16f539d2f2f5e86f3a679aa6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“Imagine thinking that what it will take to win the people’s support after this historic [Supreme Court] victory on the human right to life is to ignore it all together and put all your chips on economic issues,” wrote veteran conservative activist Gary Bauer on August 3. “Go on the campaign trail and talk about carried interest, semiconductor shortages, and misuse of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Follow the lead of presidential nominees Dole, McCain, and Romney, who rode social issue silence all the way to second-place finishes in national elections.”

Here, then, is the Republican dilemma: The party’s Senate candidates are weak, it has no economic message beyond lamenting inflation, and its fear of the social issues leaves it exposed. “Without an answer to the left’s attack, Republicans in extremely winnable races will lose—and badly,” warned social conservative leader Frank Cannon, who urged Republicans to get behind laws banning abortions after the fetus has a heartbeat and after it is capable of feeling pain. “Now we are in the democratic era of the abortion debate,” Cannon went on. “Republican members of Congress can no longer act like the decision is out of their hands.”

Nor can Republicans act like the outcome of the 2022 election is predetermined. They may have thought that the Democratic majority would collapse under its own weight. They learned this week that it won’t.


Polls Showing Democrats Closing Generic Ballot Gap Should Concern GOP

By Peter Roff • American Liberty

For a few weeks now, public polls have shown the gap narrowing between the GOP and the Democrats on the critical question of which party the American people like to see control Congress after the next election.

Having led consistently for most of the year, sometimes by as much as double digits, GOP consultants pronounce themselves largely unconcerned. The new polls, they say, are a measure of the views of all adults, not likely voters. As such, they believe, the pollsters conducting those surveys probably oversampled Democrats and soft Republicans by so much as to account for the shift.

They might want to consider revising their analysis. Yes, President Joe Biden’s job approval is below 40 percent. Yes, he’s underwater in 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Yes, the Republican Party is showing surprising strength on issues that have been difficult for it in the past. One recent survey showed the GOP leading the Democrats by 4 points among voters asked which party was better equipped on the issue of education.

None of that may matter. The surfeit of economic bad news may not be enough to allow the GOP to seize control of Congress without having to fight for it. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll of 2,500 likely voters conducted from the end of July through the beginning of August showed the GOP lead on the generic ballot test had been cut to three points.

The firm, while reputable, has a reputation – rightly or not – for producing results that skew to the right. Therefore, its pronouncement that “If the elections for Congress were held today, 46% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for the Republican candidate, while 43% would vote for the Democrat” with a plus/minus 2 percent margin of error should have the Republican consultant class rewriting its strategy for the summer and fall.

The generic ballot test does not predict outcomes, but it is a good gauge of how the electorate is trending. On Election Day in 1994, the GOP – which was about to make its biggest single election gains in the U.S. House in nearly 70 years – lagged the Democrats by a few points. What should have conservatives worried is not the margin, but the trend – which suggests that intensity among Democrats in the electorate is rising to a point that it is close to matching that of the Republicans.

One would think, and we’re still waiting for the poll to be released, that the successful package of a multi-trillion-dollar spending bill that includes tax hikes, tax breaks for people buying luxury cars and enough money for the IRS that is can more than double the number of auditors in its employ would drive support for the Democrats down.

It still might but something has happened to energize a demoralize left who’s seen its political aspirations dashed on the rocks by the Biden administration’s ineptitude. What it may be is the general inability, perhaps even unwillingness of national Republican leaders to articulate what the party’s next moves will be following the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs, which turned the authority for regulating abortion back to the states. According to Rasmussen Reports, “The so-called ‘gender gap’” has widened in the latest findings, with men (50%) now eight points more likely than women voters (42%) to prefer Republican congressional candidates. The gap was six points last week.”

That’s easy to explain given the amount of time the supporters of abortion rights have spent mischaracterizing the Dobbs decision, especially to younger and suburban women likely to vote in the next election. Telling them the court’s ruling will lead to a ban on abortions everywhere, even when an unplanned pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, is a powerful motivator despite it not being true.

“In response to this, Republican leadership has come up with their own brilliant strategy to counter the left’s argument. They plan to say absolutely nothing. Instead, when cornered, federal Republicans will vaguely gesture towards the state legislatures and then reflexively pivot to a diatribe about gas prices and inflation,” Frank Cannon, the founding president of American Principles Project recently wrote in The American Conservative.

Nature abhors a vacuum. So does politics. The failure to craft a response to Dobbs is creating the perfect storm for abortion rights supporters to gain the upper hand and keep it. The Rasmussen Reports analysis says what remains of the GOP’s lead “is mainly due to greater partisan intensity.”

According to the poll, “87 percent of Republican voters say they would vote for their own party’s congressional candidate, while 82% of Democrats would vote for the Democratic candidate. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 39% would vote Republican and 36% would vote Democrat, while 8% would vote for some other candidate and 18% are undecided.”

Playing into the scenario in which the failure to come up with any vision of what life in America will be like after Dobbs, “Voters under 40 favor Democrats by a 13-point margin, 49% to 36%, but 50% of voters 40 and older would vote Republican if the election were held today.” Younger voters are already primed to vote against GOP interests but need a reason. The GOP’s silence in response to a barrage of misinformation may be enough.

The survey of 2,500 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on July 31-August 4, 2022, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.


Senate Witnesses: It’s Time To Make Sure Research On Pandemics Isn’t Causing Them

In the wake of a virus that killed millions, these Senate witnesses say it’s time to start treating pandemic research as a national security issue.

By Olivia Hajicek • The Federalist

Kansas Republican Senator Roger Marshall at a Senate hearing on gain-of-function research
OLIVIA HAJICEK/THE FEDERALIST

Three scientists who testified at the first Senate hearing on gain-of-function research on Wednesday said that stronger oversight is needed to make sure research that’s supposed to prevent pandemics isn’t causing them.

The hearing, held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight and led by ranking member Rand Paul of Kentucky, was agreed to by both parties, but only Republican members chose to participate.

Richard Ebright, laboratory director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology and hearing witness, said gain-of-function research involves changing pathogens to make them more dangerous. “Gain-of-function research of concern is defined as research activities reasonably anticipated to increase a potential pandemic pathogen’s transmissibility, pathogenicity, ability to overcome immune response, or ability to overcome a vaccine or drug,” Ebright said.

This research has multiple risks, Ebright added, and limited benefits. It results in new health threats because it creates “new potential pandemic pathogens.” He said that “if the new potential pandemic pathogen is released into humans, either accidentally or deliberately, this can cause a pandemic.”

Another risk, according to Ebright, is that once this gain-of-function research is published, people can use it to construct pandemic pathogens from synthetic DNA for well under $10,000. “Publication of the research provides instructions — step-by-step recipes — that can enable a rogue nation, organization, or individual to construct a new pathogen and cause a pandemic,” Ebright said.

Kevin Esvelt, another witness who is a biologist and director of the Sculpting Evolution group at MIT Media Lab, said this is a risk whether scientists are creating potential pandemic viruses through gain-of-function experiments or simply researching naturally occurring ones. He estimated that once the genome of a potential pandemic virus is published, there are 30,000 people with doctorates in the United States alone who would be able to create the virus in a lab.

Trying to identify potential pandemic virus is supposed to help prevent natural pandemics, Esvelt added, but he calculated the research is likely to kill a hundred times as many people as it saves because the likelihood of the research being used maliciously far outweighs the likelihood of it helping prevent a pandemic.

“In the hope of preventing natural pandemics,” Esvalt said, agencies including the National Institutes of Health “seek to identify viruses that could kill as many people as a nuclear weapon, to alert the entire world to what they find, and to publicly share[e] the complete genome sequences of those viruses so that skilled scientists everywhere will be able to make infectious samples.”

Esvelt said that “in the wake of a pandemic that has killed more people than could any thermonuclear explosion,” we need to start addressing pandemics in terms of national security. “We are so used to thinking of pandemics as a health and safety issue that we’ve missed the national security implications of identifying viruses that could be deliberately unleashed to kill millions of people.”

Steven Quay, the CEO of Atossa Therapeutics, said the SARS2 virus that causes Covid-19 “has features consistent with synthetic biology gain-of-function research.” He added that “two features involve acceptable academic gain-of-function research” while one region of the virus “has features of forbidden gain of function research: asymptomatic transmission and immune system evasion.” According to Quay, the permissible gain-of-function features were aspects of research that the United States and Wuhan Institute of Virology had proposed in 2018, while the forbidden features were aspects of research that was already going on at the lab.

Paul said he hopes the scientists’ suggestions can be incorporated into a bipartisan bill for better oversight of research that could lead to pandemics. “I don’t think the people doing the research are able to adequately and objectively regulate themselves,” Paul said. “And I think having a million people die, there should be bipartisan curiosity in this, that we should be able to move forward.”

In response to a question from The Federalist, Paul said that if the GOP wins the Senate and he becomes chairman of the committee, he’ll pursue investigations to hold people accountable for funding this research.


Terror Threat: Al Qaeda’s Next Leader Has Deep Ties to Iran

Iran and al Qaeda have quietly forged a strategic terror alliance

By Adam Kredo • The Washington Free Beacon

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps / Getty Images

The man likely to become al Qaeda’s next leader has spent decades using Iran as a base of operations and maintains deep ties to the hardline regime, signaling that two of the globe’s leading terrorist forces could exponentially expand relations in the near future.

Saif al-Adel, al Qaeda’s number two leader and longtime head of its security arm, fled to Iran in the early 2000s, along with other senior leaders, following the September 11 attacks. From there, he helped relay orders from the just-killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and orchestrate terrorist operations that killed dozens of people, including Americans, according to former U.S. officials and information on the Iran-al Qaeda axis published by a watchdog group.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) protected al-Adel during his time in the country, and the regime permitted him to plan deadly terror attacks, including a May 2003 operation in Saudi Arabia that killed eight Americans. “Adel’s suspected presence in Iran has raised further questions regarding Iranian influence on al Qaeda if Adel were to be named leader,” according to United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), an advocacy group that closely tracks Iran’s regional terror operations.

These ties have only deepened since President Joe Biden’s bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan that left the Taliban in power and the country in shambles. Senior leaders in Iran’s Quds Force, an elite IRGC branch, remain in close contact with al Qaeda leaders, “and since the fall of Afghanistan, have provided some al Qaeda leaders with travel documents and safe haven,” according to a European intelligence analysis. The Iran-al Qaeda alliance, former U.S. officials told the Free Beacon, has quietly grown for many years, making the prospect of a new nuclear deal with Iran—which will provide Tehran with billions in cash—beneficial for its allies in al Qaeda.

“When the U.S. government enriches Iranian terrorists through sanctions relief or a lack of enforcement, that money ultimately goes back to support al Qaeda,” Gabriel Noronha, a senior Iran adviser for the State Department during the Trump administration, told the Free Beacon. “We know that Saif al-Adel has not just been living in Iran for most of the past 20 years—he’s been hosted there by the regime along with other al Qaeda operatives. Since 2015, the Iranian regime has allowed al Qaeda to establish an operational headquarters in the country, providing them with documents, passports, funding, and logistical support like safe houses.”

Al-Adel and his network of al Qaeda confidants used their time in Iran to build close “operational coordination” with Tehran’s security forces, including the IRGC. While Iran was once at odds with al Qaeda due to religious differences, that has not been the case for many years now, according to Noronha and other former U.S. officials familiar with these ties.

“These are not totally separate and distinct terrorist groups or even rivals anymore—they are part of an anti-American and anti-Western alliance,” Noronha said.

From his perch in Iran during the mid-2000s, al-Adel “was allowed by Iran to travel to Pakistan and open more contacts with other al Qaeda leaders,” according to UANI’s research, which is based on intelligence and open-source reporting. Iran’s decision to permit al-Adel and other al Qaeda operatives to freely move in the region “opens up speculation that al-Adel could establish a ‘satellite office’ for the group in Iran,” according to a 2011 AP report.

Nathan Sales, former U.S. ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism, told the Free Beacon that “contrary to expectations and contrary to conventional wisdom, the Iranian regime and al Qaeda have maintained a mutually beneficial relationship for many years.”

Iran, Sales noted, recently hosted senior al Qaeda leaders and operatives, “which is exactly what we should expect from the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.”

The depth of these ties was first unveiled by former secretary of state Mike Pompeo in January 2021, when he disclosed publicly that a U.S. operation killed one of al Qaeda’s top leaders on the streets of Tehran in 2020.

“Al Qaeda has a new home base: the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said in a speech at the time, marking one of the first public disclosures about Iran’s deepening relationship with the terror group.

Hans-Jakob Schindler, a senior director at the Counter Extremism Project, which tracks jihadi groups, noted that al-Adel “has become very high value” since al-Zawahiri was killed, “and the Iranians usually take advantage of such situations.”

Al-Adel’s “existence in Iran and his freedom to act while in Iran will solely depend on what the Iranian regime think his value and usefulness for their aims is,” Schindler said.


The Schumer Manchin Inflation Reduction Act Could Kill You

By Peter Roff • American Liberty

There’s something about the way laws are made and the impact they have on the nation that many people may not understand. Oh, they may know what it is intuitively, and that much of how Congress does its business doesn’t make sense, but they can’t explain why.

That means they can’t propose ways to fix it. This isn’t a failing on their part and it’s not because they don’t understand the democratic process or how a bill becomes a law. It’s the lawmakers themselves who have made the legislative process so opaque, with so many moving parts, that it’s hard for people who are not part of the professional political class to figure out what it means, how it works and how to improve it.

That’s useful to those who favor the continual growth in the government’s size and authority, especially at the federal level. The constant obfuscation allows deception and permits those few policymakers who are still politicians holding elective office to change positions on the spot without having to worry too much that the people who keep them in office will hold them accountable.

That’s how, for example, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who’d won plaudits for his opposition to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill, was able to make a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to produce, even take the lead on something which is called the Inflation Reduction act but is just a slimmed down, slightly less woke version of what he’d previously opposed. As a side note, it doesn’t do much of anything – say such neutral arbiters of its effect on the economy like the Congressional Budget Office and Congress’s Joint Tax Committee – to reduce inflation. According to them, it could make it worse than it otherwise might be before it finally levels off.

The Manchin-backed bill, which could just as easily and more accurately be called the Inflation Resuscitation Act as anything else, is chock full of the same kinds of tax increases, special interest spending, unnecessary regulatory crackdowns, sweetheart political deals (Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema, we’re looking in your direction) and green energy mandates and subsides as Build Back Better. In the bigger picture, the differences between the two are insignificant enough that they hardly matter at all. Except that the Inflation Reduction Act could also be responsible for your death.

It won’t kill you, at least not literally, unless you happened to be walking by the U.S. Capitol when and if some unhappy Republican throws a bound copy of the bill out an open window and it lands on your head. It’s a big bill. What you need to know is the imposition of price controls on certain categories of prescription drugs contained within it will depress pharmaceutical industry research and development into new drug therapies by an estimated $663 billion according to a paper by Tomas Phillipson published by the University of Chicago.

Says the professor in an essay he penned for Newsweek, a reduction in funding of that size “will amount to a loss of 330 million life-years, about 30 times the loss from COVID-19 so far. The associated loss in value is more than $66 trillion, with longevity conservatively valued at half the amount used by agencies such as FDA and EPA.”

In layman’s terms, that means the cures that could be coming down the pike for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and certain kinds of cancers – just to name a few of the ultimately fatal maladies we face as we get older – won’t arrive because they’ll never get out of the gate. Sorry, Boomer.

As Kevin Murphy and Robert Topel write in their study, The Value of Health and Longevity (also published by the University of Chicago) “Economic evidence shows that growth in life-expectancy is as important as GDP growth in lifting U.S. well-being. Put differently, few people would give up a year of their lives in order to gain an inflation-free year with marginally higher growth. Emphasizing the reduced economic effect of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act is akin to rejoicing that a hurricane spared the house, even though its owners died.”

This shouldn’t be hard to understand. If the legislative process and the impact of a given bill were explained to the American people with the same level of detail that goes into the analysis of the New York Mets’ pitching power, it wouldn’t be. So, without going too deeply into the weeds, if you accept that price controls affect profit margins by pushing them lower, you also have to accept they eliminate incentives to innovate.

Too many people, especially those who take their cues on economic issues from Karl Marx and AOC, view words like “capital, “profit” and “property” as dirty ones. When they are applied to the American model, they become glorious, responsible for the incentives that make living standards in the United States among the highest in the world and the envy of just about every other country.

The debate over this issue is not an honest one, with all sides getting a fair hearing. If it were, you’d know the vast majority of Americans oppose the idea of the government negotiating price controls with pharmaceutical companies when they understand the consequences that would ensue.

Government price controls are popular, according to just about every public poll, when people think all that will happen is the price of drugs will come down. Why pay more when you can pay less, right? When they learn it also means forcing manufacturers to negotiate on price with the government takes away from doctors the ability to prescribe medicines that in their opinion best meet the needs of their patients, the support for price controls drops considerably. A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found support for capping schemes dropped the moment respondents became aware it might lead to less research and development of new drugs or limit access to newer prescription drugs. A March 2022 Ipsos poll conducted for the industry’s trade association found just 14 percent of those participating in the survey would support them if they resulted in limited access to newer prescription medicines.

If this information were planted as firmly in the public’s mind as the idea that the government can lower the price of drugs through negotiation or fiat, it would be easy to predict what the politicians would do. But it isn’t, so the fact price controls would kill innovation in the industry in the U.S., leading to the development of fewer breakthrough drugs is easy to hide.

The evidence is there if anyone cares to look for it. By burying their scheme in a bill that’s supposed to bring down inflation – and the pharmaceutical sector is one area where prices have continued to be relatively stable and have even come down – no one does. That’s the biggest benefit to legislating as Schumer and Manchin are doing. There are too many moving parts that will produce too many adverse outcomes for people to keep track of it all. The solution for the mess it will cause, when it comes, will be another big bill that doesn’t fix the problems the Inflation Reduction Act will cause while making the mess even bigger.


Even This Left-Wing Report Sounds The Alarm: U.S. Is Way Too Dependent On Communist China For Minerals

‘The U.S., in particular, will likely have to update and amend its mining regulatory regime,’ authors at the liberal Brookings Institute wrote.

By Tristan Justice • The Federalist

China
KLAUS FRIESE / FLICKR/CC BY-SA 2.0

A new report from the liberal Brookings Institute out Monday warned that the United States and European supply chains are too dependent on China for modern technologies such as electric vehicles, transmission, and energy storage.

The report, titled “China’s Role in Supplying Critical Minerals for the Global Energy Transition,” is urging Western policymakers to expedite an overhaul of their mining regulatory regime to meet 21st-century demand for clean technology.

“China is the dominant global player in refining strategic minerals,” the authors wrote, with Chinese operations refining 68 percent of the world’s nickel, 40 percent of the world’s copper, 59 percent of lithium, and 73 percent of cobalt. “Most notably, China holds 78 percent of the world’s cell manufacturing capacity for [electric vehicle] batteries, which are then assembled into modules that are used to form a battery pack.”

Beyond Chinese monopolization of electric battery production, demand for which is set to spike as the Biden administration reaches to achieve its goal of half U.S. auto sales being electric by 2030 with generous subsidies, Beijing also maintains a grip on rare earth mining.

The 17 rare earth elements (REE) are not just critical for electric cars and wind turbines, but also for aerospace and defense technologies. President Joe Biden’s aggressive expansion of wind power at the expense of a reliable power grid run by conventional sources, has only deepened American reliance on Chinese exports.

According to the Department of Energy, “demand for rare earth elements for wind power alone could exceed the supply for all uses by 1.6 to 3.5 times over.”

Although China dominates in the refinement of critical minerals and rare earth production, the authors emphasize Beijing lacks the upper hand in mining critical minerals such as lithium and cobalt. Together, Australia and Chile are home to more than 70 percent of the global lithium supply, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone extracts nearly 70 percent of the world’s cobalt.

“While China has a clear downstream competitive advantage, it does not dominate the upstream for critical minerals,” the authors wrote. However, the Chinese are working to change that. “With demand for critical minerals rapidly increasing, Chinese companies are striking new deals for minerals globally to secure raw mineral inputs for refining and battery manufacturing.”

American lawmakers have certainly taken notice of vulnerabilities in supply chains as global turmoil, from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to rising tensions with China, has ramped up the pressure to produce more critical minerals within the United States.

In June, the U.S. along with nine allied nations and the European Commission formed the Minerals Security Partnership, which is seen as a form of “metallic NATO,” to insulate stability and security in supply chains among members. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources also held a series of hearings on the nation’s supply of critical minerals this spring, where members of both sides of the aisle expressed a need to develop new American mines.

“From the technologies needed to support military readiness and combat climate change to the cell phones in our pockets or the cars in our driveways, critical minerals are essential to life we lead and the technologies we have come to depend on,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who chairs the committee. “Accelerating their production and establishing secure and dependable supply chains is vital to our energy and national security.”

Lawmakers have proposed reforms to the Mining Act of 1872, though uncertainty over the final outcome has continued to chill investment in the capital-intensive industry. A proposed lithium mine in Nevada, described by Reuters as “the first new U.S. source of the battery metal in decades,” is the sole exception after Panasonic and Toyota came to a deal to purchase from the project.

“The U.S., in particular, will likely have to update and amend its mining regulatory regime,” the authors of the Brookings report wrote, describing it as “outdated.”

Debra Struhsacker, a hardrock mining and environmental policy expert who has testified before Congress five times, agrees. The nation’s current regulatory mining regime, Struhsacker told The Federalist, “is fraught with delays and uncertainly,” with permitting processes, not environmental rules, in desperate need of reform.

“The U.S. has tremendous potential,” Struhsacker said, with rich deposits of lithium, copper, cobalt, nickel, and antimony, to name a few, waiting for harvest across the American continent. The nation’s complex permitting system, which has created a lucrative litigation industry to shut down major projects, however, has stifled the ability to develop new mines. “Part of the reason we have so much reliance on foreign minerals is because we’ve made our own lands off-limits to mining,” she said.

While Congress has struggled to put together a bipartisan package to stimulate American mining operations, Struhsacker said, she gives Biden a “D” on his performance addressing the issue.

In April, Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to support mining operations behind lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and manganese, but the administration has continued to shut down major projects from Alaska to Minnesota.

Biden’s Department of the Interior welcomed the new year with the cancellation of mineral leases for a copper and nickel mine in Minnesota. The proposed “Twin Metals” mine in the Superior National Forest, which Struhsacker described as a “world class resource,” would be one of the largest in the nation. In May, Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency moved to shut down plans for a trillion-dollar copper project known as “Pebble Mine” in southwest Alaska.

“The Biden administration is currently taking some steps to address these challenges related to political and stakeholder factors, but its efforts are not commensurate with the scale of the challenge,” reads the Brookings report. “Moreover, the administration has been unwilling to advance controversial projects like Pebble and Twin Metals, which are likely needed to significantly increase domestic supply in the short term.”

Struhsacker summed up her assessment of Biden’s approach as “schizophrenic.”

“On the one hand he’s giving policy lip service to the need for these minerals but he hasn’t really given his land management agencies the imperative to get critical mineral projects permitted,” Struhsacker said.

The mixed signals to the industry from the White House’s inconsistency, combined with a slow-moving Congress, is maintaining the status quo of reliance on foreign sources. In the end, that means an era of supply-chain vulnerability and higher emissions from overseas transportation as opposed to domestic mining operations here at home.


Schooling Americans in Today’s Hungary

By Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi • Frontiers of Freedom

The world has never been an earthly paradise.  No human being has ever been perfect.  Most problems, be it personal or universal, have always resisted easy solutions.  Similarly, very few of the myriad challenges that have arisen thus far in history, have been answered permanently.  In the public realm, the chasm between original intentions, be they practical or utopian, and their implementations in practice have never led to unanimous approvals.  Indeed, the quest for individual and universal happiness has remained the unfinished endeavor of mankind.

In reality, politics in its limitless incarnations, has always been a chain of attempts to mobilize the generally indifferent masses for an objectively or subjectively preferable cause.  However, when the cause has been detrimental to human dignity, politics has inevitably turned into a rotten system of government-sanctioned criminality that legitimized the most heinous abuses of power even against its peaceful  opposition.  In these cases, politics became ruled by nacked force, unchecked by the law.  

Today’s Hungary, thirty two years after the end of the Soviet occupation is in the iron grip of a tyrannical regime that possesses absolute contempt for democracy, the rule of law, human rights, individual dignity, and glorifies the perfection of its personification Viktor Orban, the newly minted Fuehrer of Mussolini’s illiberalism, Hitlers ethnic purity, as well as Lenin cum Stalin’s rhetoric of “class enemies.”  Having established a one-party state in 2010, Viktor Orban and his party the Young Democrats (Hungarian acronyms: FIDESZ) have restored Hungary to the pre-1990 state of a Communist Commissariat.  Once again, individual freedom, meritocracy and creativity have been banished to the trash heap of Hungarian history, to be replaced by prejudice, bigotry, obscurantism, unimaginable government corruption and gibberish demagoguery that are pleasing to the ears of the scantily educated but driving the young and educated away from their homeland.  More alarmingly, real politics that is driven by genuine national interests and the knowledge of Hungary’s place and role within NATO and the European Union, has been replaced by the trashing of the  “imperialistic” United States of America, the  “globalist” European bureaucracy in Brussels and the glorification of Hungary’s checkered 20th century past, in particular the allegedly positive accomplishments of the years between the two World Wars.  More importantly, all this nonsense is fanaticised by lingering revanchism and seething resentment of victimhood for losing territories in 1918 as well as 1945 to the neighboring states. 

 As a result, Viktor Orban and Hungary have become useless pariahs in the European Union and strategic nobodies within NATO.  Thus, to compensate for his outcast status within both organizations, Viktor Orban has embarked on a duplicitous foreign policy, in which he attempts to play his very limited Russia as well as China cards against the West.  Having realized that such a foreign policy route necessarily harbors great risks for him personally, he has undertaken to bribe his way into American politics.  Since 2010, his government has spent in direct and indirect payments tens of millions of dollars in Washington, DC, to influence members of Congress and the Executive Branch to accept, and if possible, to spread fallacious propaganda on his behalf.  

Most importantly, the Hungarian government has focused on Richard Carlson and his Policy Impact Strategic Communications that has been doing major lobbying work for Orban Viktor in Washington, DC.  His son Tucker has performed a yeoman’s service for Viktor Orban by promoting the latter’s “conservative paradise” in Fox News Network as well as on Fox Nation.  Moreover, the father-son duo also introduced Matthew Schlapp, the Chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to Viktor Orban.  The resulting CPAC conference in Budapest, Hungary, in mid-May 2022, drew a host of Republican luminaries to Budapest, including Mike Pence, Mark Meadows, Rick Santorum, Candance Owens and Tucker Carlson among others.  Very recently, the CPAC meeting in Dallas, Texas, also featured Viktor Orban as a speaker.  His speech contained an avalanche of lies about his foreign policies as well as the situation in Hungary.  To CPAC and Viktor Orban’s regret the American as well as the Hungarian media provided a devastatingly unflattering coverage of the mendacious speech before an almost completely empty room.  To top this macabre situation, Tucker Carlson, the unfailingly corrupt and uncritical propagandist of Viktor Orban’s tyranny, apologized on his show to Balazs Orban (no relation to the Prime Minister), the Political Director of the Prime Minister’s Office, on behalf of the entire American Media for a CNN report, in which the latter characterized Viktor Orban’s speech in Romania as anti-Semitic.

To make it amply clear – Viktor Orban is not a friend of the United States of America.  Neither is he a representative of Western values, such as individual freedom, free market economy and moral decency.  He is every bit of a corrupt and self-serving narcissist with a perfectly sick personality.  Presenting him as the lone European champion of genuine conservatism is a travesty or even ignominy for all Americans, regardless of their political or ideological affiliations and preferences.  Those who promote Viktor Orban and his “Illiberal Tyranny” must look in the mirror and admit that the only corrupt illusion which is more destructive in politics than self-deception is the complete dearth of knowledge of a given situation in a country.  To every Hungarian’s deepest regret, those Americans are guilty of an extremely unreasonable as well as totally unjustified affection for the Hungarian tyrant. 


It’s Time to Put a Leash on the FTC

By Peter Roff • The Western Journal

The U.S. economy has stopped growing. Prices are up. Job creation is slowing. The value of wages is declining.

Yet, instead of looking for ways to stimulate economic growth, Washington policymakers are pushing tax hikes and spending that will drag things down even further.

What’s happened in the energy sector is a perfect example of how the Biden administration has made things worse.

The president’s drive to power the economy with renewables has ravaged the energy sector. The right way to ease the fuel crisis is to incentivize domestic producers to produce more oil and natural gas. Instead, he went hat in hand to the Saudis to beg them to pump more oil while releasing a million barrels a day from America’s critical petroleum reserves that should only be used in times of national emergency like war and natural disasters.

These bad policy moves that have handcuffed U.S. producers through regulatory means are not an anomaly. The entire economy is imperiled by attempts by the veritable alphabet soup of federal rule-making agencies to force corporate leaders to adopt politically progressive ideas even as they threaten the interests of shareholders and consumers.

The Federal Trade Commission, one of the government’s most powerful regulatory bodies, is especially guilty of this. Supposedly independent of the executive branch, under the leadership of its Biden-appointed chairman, Lina Khan, it is now trying to use power it may not have to regulate some of America’s biggest companies.

Khan is a radical anti-free marketeer whose attitudes and actions are informed by no practical, real-world business experience, as documented by a recent report produced by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.Advertisement – story continues below

She’s an academic and an ideologue who thinks big business is bad and needs the input of Washington-based ivory tower experts to decide what it can and cannot do. She’s bringing central planning back from the storage locker at the Harvard University School of Business where it’s been kept since the late 1980s.

That runs headlong into the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in West Virginia vs. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in which the court reined in the ability of federal agencies to make policies and expand their purview without specific congressional authorization. Hopefully, that will keep Khan coloring within the lines, at least for a while.

Even without that decision, though, the FTC’s power has been reined in significantly over the last few years. An April 2021 high court unanimous ruling barred the commission from continuing to impose large fines on companies when adjudicating regulatory matters. Going forward, the justices will have two more chances to address the fundamental unfairness of the administrative trial procedures regulatory agencies like the FTC commonly employ.

The constitutional guarantee of due process as it’s understood in criminal courts doesn’t hold in the same way when you’re before an administrative law judge overseeing a regulatory matter. Their approach is much more one-sided, with the agency put in the position to serve as prosecutor, judge and jury. That is unfair even to those accused of the worst violations of agency regulations.

It’s no wonder the FTC’s rate of success for cases it has brought over the last 25 years approaches 100 percent, even when the initial decision came down in the defendant’s favor.

It’s doubtful the agency will change course on its own. Despite West Virginia vs. EPA, Khan is likely to continue to look for ways to expand the FTC’s areas of influence. If that happens, the efforts to strip away its statutory authority will continue and probably be successful.

Rather than battle it out in court, with taxpayers paying the price, Congress should take the lead to ensure it can only intervene in cases where the consumer welfare standard can be legitimately shown to have been violated.

Needless new regulations punishing companies that have a bottom line enforced by a bureaucrat who has never worked in the real world will not restart the engine of economic growth but probably will prolong the recession.


Frontiers of Freedom Submits Global Magnitsky Act Petition to U.S. Government Seeking Economic and Visa Sanctions of Senior Indian Government Officials

Magnitsky Act Authorizes U.S. Government to Sanction Foreign Officials Deemed Human Rights Offenders

Indian Government Grossly Violating Rights of American Citizen Ramachandran Viswanathan

WASHINGTON (August 8, 2022) – Today, Frontiers of Freedom, announces the submission of a petition under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act urging the U.S. government to implement economic and visa sanctions against 11 Modi government officials for serious violations of human rights of U.S. citizen Ramachandran Viswanathan.

In 2016, the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 along with Executive Order 13818 authorized the U.S. government to sanction foreign government officials worldwide who are deemed serious human rights offenders and to freeze their assets and restrict them from entering the United States, if they are found to have committed serious human rights abuses.

This action brought forth by Frontiers of Freedom on behalf of Ramachandran Viswanathan and in cooperation with his counsel, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, is in response to the Modi regime’s campaign of transnational repression against Mr. Viswanathan. The Modi government has sought to hoodwink the U.S. government into using the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters between the U.S. and India to gain intelligence, monitor, question and arrest Mr. Viswanathan. Alarmingly, the Indian government has put forth fake claims of fraud and criminal actions to Interpol in a deliberate effort to secure a Red Notice for the arrest and extradition of Mr. Viswanathan. This is all to stop the efforts of Mr. Viswanathan’s company he co-founded, Devas, from enforcing a billion dollar arbitration judgment against the Indian government.

George Landrith, President of Frontiers of Freedom, made the following statement:

“The actions of the autocratic Indian regime led by Prime Minister Modi are an assault on the rule of law and the rights and freedoms granted to every American. We urge the U.S. government to look past India’s façade and punish, with sanctions, those who seek to violate the rights of Mr. Viswanathan. By doing so, the U.S. will send a strong signal to India and the rest of the world that the United States will not hesitate to stand up for the rule of law, and the rights and freedoms granted to every American.”

Matthew D. McGill, lead counsel to Devas shareholders and partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, made the following statement upon submission:

“The submission of this petition on behalf of Mr. Viswanathan sends a strong message to India: U.S. businesspersons and investors are protected under U.S. and international law, and any attempts to intimidate, harass, or retaliate against them by abusing international organizations and treaties will be met with swift, definitive action. The autocratic perpetrators within the Modi regime will be held accountable for their lawless, thuggish behavior.”

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About Ramachandran Viswanathan

Ramachandran Viswanathan is currently CEO of Omnispace, a company focused on delivering the world’s first satellite and 5G-based ‘one global network.’ He is also the co-founder of Devas Multimedia.

Previously, as CEO of Devas Multimedia, Mr. Viswanathan pioneered the development of India’s satellite-terrestrial broadband internet and media services platform. Prior to that, he led the strategic partnerships as CSO and EVP of Business Development at Cidera. As WorldSpace’s SVP of Corporate Development, he helped formulated the successful U.S. joint venture, XM Satellite Radio. At McKinsey & Company, Mr. Viswanathan worked with U.S. and European telecommunications and technology clients and assisted in establishing its India consulting practice. He has also held positions at Goldman Sachs & Company in investment banking, focusing on mergers and acquisitions.

Mr. Viswanathan holds a master’s degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management, a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University, and a bachelor’s degree in engineering and economics from the University of Maryland.

Concerns over Abuse from Grassley

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recently wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland raising concerns that India (and other foreign governments) are abusing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) and the Interpol Red Notice Process.

Grassley emphasized the critical role that DOJ plays in ensuring American citizens who are business entrepreneurs are protected from unlawful attempts by foreign governments to “undermine the rule of law“ and “retaliate against adverse litigants in international disputes.

In his letter to AG Garland, Senator Grassley highlighted how “India has improperly requested that Interpol issue a Red Notice against Ramachandran Viswanathan, a U.S. citizen.”

About the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act along with Executive Order 13818 authorize the U.S. government to sanction foreign government officials worldwide who are deemed serious human rights offenders. NGOs, foreign governments and select Members of Congress are allowed to submit Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act petitions to the President and senior cabinet officials for consideration.

A petition is submitted to the Departments of State and Justice, who review and make a determination about whether to pursue sanctions against the government and individual persons identified as human rights abusers in the petition.

About Frontiers of Freedom

Frontiers of Freedom is an educational NGO whose mission is to promote the principles of individual freedom, peace through strength, limited government, free enterprise, free markets, and traditional American values as found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

About Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is an international law firm that advises clients on significant transactions and disputes around the world. Gibson Dunn has 20 offices and employs more than 1,600 lawyers around the world.


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