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Tennessee Taking Lead In Protecting Civil Rights And Free Enterprise—And Stopping Political Debanking

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee

From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By ERIC BLEDSOE

 

Last week, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R.) signed into law a first-of-its-kind ban on politicized debanking. Sponsored by Rep. Jason Zachary (R.) and Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R.), HB 2100 will prohibit the nation’s largest banks from discriminating against individuals, businesses, and non-profits for their political and religious views.

The new law is a landmark reform to stop large banks from imposing political litmus tests on Americans.

This legislation (HB 2100) is, of course, a reaction to the trend of the largest financial institutions creating partisan barriers to Americans’ access to financial services. Last year, Bank of America closed the deposit and credit card accounts of Memphis-based non-profit Indigenous Advance Ministries. The organization works with Ugandan widows and orphans to provide for their basic needs through Christian charity. Bank of America refused to give Indigenous Advance a reason why they closed the accounts—just that they no longer wanted to work with their “business type.”

Indigenous Advance’s experience is like what the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF) faced when JPMorgan Chase closed their accounts. NCRF promotes religious liberty for Americans of all religious faiths. Chase said it would restore NCRF’s accounts if it disclosed a list of its donors, told the bank which political candidates it intended to support, and sent them the criteria NCRF uses to decide who they want to support politically. NCRF, out of respect for their donors’ right to privacy, declined.

John Eastman, past attorney for former President Donald Trump, was debanked twice at the end of last year by Bank of America and USAA. Again, the banks provided little to no explanation for the sudden closures. Eastman told the Daily Caller that the banks said it was their policy to not provide any further information. Banks stonewalling their customers on why they close their accounts is alarmingly becoming a pattern.

In December 2022, Wells Fargo abruptly closed the personal and business accounts of Brandon Wexler, a Florida-based gun dealer. The bank’s only explanation was a brief mention that it was due to their review of account risk. Wexler had a personal account with Wells Fargo for 25 years and a business account for 14 years. One instance of an account closing might not be worthy of attention, but more and more examples like these are becoming more common. And the only common thread, besides banks refusing to explain their actions, is that the targets of debanking hold political and religious views unpopular on Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. This does not appear to be a policy at one bank, but an unspoken policy across the industry. Commenting on Wells Fargo’s action against him, Wexler said, “I’ve been with them for 25 years,” […] “I’m a professional fireman. I do everything the right way. It’s messed up.”

But large banks debanking individuals and non-profits is not the full extent of politically motivated financial service providers’ discrimination. In September, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti sent a letter sent a letter to financial service providers who are signatories to the Net Zero Financial Service Providers Alliance (NZFSPA) warning them that their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies may be in violation of antitrust and consumer protection laws. Both state and federal laws prohibit coordinated or collaborative efforts between corporations to restrict trade or commerce. All members of NZFSPA agree to “(a)lign all relevant services and products to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner, scaling and mainstreaming Paris Agreement-alignment into the core of our business.” Though the 27 members of NZFSPA are supposed competitors in the financial services market, their joint commitment to restrict sectors of the economy like fossil fuel is clearly a coordinated effort.

Large financial institutions’ boycott of fossil fuel and discriminatory actions against individuals and non-profits for their religious or political views may seem disconnected at first. But those following the ESG movement won’t be surprised to see these politically motivated efforts across multiple sectors. Last month, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen sounded the alarm over these radical policies to Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf with the support of 15 other state attorneys general. A member of the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA), Wells Fargo has committed, alongside 143 other banks, to implement ESG policies. In the letter, the attorneys general noted that Wells Fargo has a record of debanking Republican candidates and the firearms industry, imposing race- and gender-based quotas on credit customers, and publicly committing to implement radical climate standards on the energy industry.

Leftist activists realize they cannot accomplish such a radical agenda of eroding individual rights and a free economy through the ballot box. ESG is a political tool that enables the far left to bypass the democratic process to will their worldview onto Americans’ lives. In response, policymakers and other stakeholders must strengthen and enforce civil liberties protections, consumer rights, and antitrust laws, so that political activists cease willing their agenda on citizens.

Fortunately, states like Tennessee are taking the lead in protecting civil rights and free enterprise.

Eric Bledsoe is a Senior Policy Fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Brownstone Institute

The Pandemic Excuse for a Corporatist Coup

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From the Brownstone Institute

By Jeffrey A. Tucker

We’ve just come across a document hosted by the Department of Homeland Security, posted March 2023, but written in 2007, that amounts to a full-blown corporatist imposition on the US, abolishing anything remotely resembling the Bill of Rights and Constitutional law. It is right there in plain sight for anyone curious enough to dig.

There is nothing in it that you haven’t already experienced with lockdowns. What makes it interesting are the participants in the forging of the plan, which is pretty much the whole of corporate America as it stood in 2007. It was a George W. Bush initiative. The conclusions are startling.

“Quarantine is a legally enforceable declaration that a government body may institute over individuals potentially exposed to a disease, but who are not symptomatic. If enacted, Federal quarantine laws will be coordinated between CDC and State and local public health officials, and, if necessary, law enforcement personnel…The government may also enact travel restrictions to limit the movement of people and products between geographic areas in an effort to limit disease transmission and spread. Authorities are currently reviewing possible plans to curtail international travel upon a pandemic’s emergence overseas.

“Limiting public assembly opportunities also helps limit the spread of disease. Concert halls, movie theaters, sports arenas, shopping malls, and other large public gathering places might close indefinitely during a pandemic—whether because of voluntary closures or government-imposed closures. Similarly, officials may close schools and non-essential businesses during pandemic waves in an effort to significantly slow disease transmission rates. These strategies aim to prevent the close interaction of individuals, the primary conduit of spreading the influenza virus. Even taking steps such as limiting person-to-person interactions within a distance of three feet or avoiding instances of casual close contact, such as shaking hands, will help limit disease spread.”

There we have it: the pandemic plans. They once seemed abstract. In 2020, they became very real. Your rights were deleted. No more freedom even to have house guests. In those days, the rule was to enforce only three feet of distance rather than six feet of distance, neither of which had any basis in science. Indeed, the actual scientific literature even at that time recommended against any physical interventions designed to limit the spread of respiratory viruses. They were known not to work. The entire profession of public health accepted that.

Therefore, for many years before lockdowns wrecked economic functioning, there had been two parallel tracks in operation, one intellectual/academic and one imposed by state/corporate managers. They had nothing to do with each other. This situation persisted for the better part of 15 years. Suddenly in 2020, there was a reckoning, and the state/corporate managers won it. Seemingly out of nowhere, liberty as we have long known it was gone.

Back in 2005, I first came across a Bush administration scheme, an early draft of the above, that would have ended freedom as we know it. It was a scheme for combating the bird flu, which officials back then imagined would involve universal quarantines, business and event closures, travel restrictions, and more.

wrote: “Even if the flu does come, and taxpayers have coughed up, the government will surely have a ball imposing travel restrictions, shutting down schools and businesses, quarantining cities, and banning public gatherings…It is a serious matter when the government purports to plan to abolish all liberty and nationalize all economic life and put every business under the control of the military, especially in the name of a bug that seems largely restricted to the bird population. Perhaps we should pay more attention. Perhaps such plans for the total state ought to even ruffle our feathers a bit.”

For years I wrote about this topic, trying to get others interested. It was all there in black and white. At the drop of a hat, under the guise of a pandemic that only state managers can declare, real or drummed up, freedom itself could be abolished. These plans were never legislated, debated, or publicly discussed. They were simply posted as the result of various consultations with experts, who worked out their totalitarian fantasies as if scripting a Hollywood film.

The 2007 blueprint is more explicit than anything I’ve seen. It comes from the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which “includes executive leaders from the private sector and state/local government who advise the White House on how to reduce physical and cyber risks and improve the security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure sectors. The NIAC is administered on behalf of the President in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act under the authority of the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security.”

And who sat on this committee in 2007 that decided that governments “may close schools and non-essential businesses”? Let us see.

  • Mr. Edmund G. Archuleta, General Manager, El Paso Water Utilities
  • Mr. Alfred R. Berkeley III, Chairman and CEO, Pipeline Trading Group, LLC, and former President and Vice Chairman of NASDAQ
  • Chief Rebecca F. Denlinger, Fire Chief, Cobb County (Ga.) Fire and Emergency Services
  • Chief Gilbert G. Gallegos, Police Chief (ret.), City of Albuquerque, N.M. Police Department
  • Ms. Martha H. Marsh, President and CEO, Stanford Hospital and Clinics
  • Mr. James B. Nicholson, President and CEO, PVS Chemical, Inc.
  • Mr. Erle A. Nye, Chairman Emeritus, TXU Corp., NIAC Chairman
  • Mr. Bruce A. Rohde, Chairman and CEO Emeritus, ConAgra Foods, Inc.
  • Mr. John W. Thompson, Chairman and CEO, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Brent Baglien, ConAgra Foods, Inc.
  • Mr. David Barron, Bell South
  • Mr. Dan Bart, TIA
  • Mr. Scott Blanchette, Healthways
  • Ms. Donna Burns, Georgia Emergency Management Agency
  • Mr. Rob Clyde, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Scott Culp, Microsoft
  • Mr. Clay Detlefsen, International Dairy Foods Association
  • Mr. Dave Engaldo, The Options Clearing Corporation
  • Ms. Courtenay Enright, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Gary Gardner, American Gas Association
  • Mr. Bob Garfield, American Frozen Foods Institute
  • Ms. Joan Gehrke, PVS Chemical, Inc.
  • Ms. Sarah Gordon, Symantec
  • Mr. Mike Hickey, Verizon
  • Mr. Ron Hicks, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
  • Mr. George Hender, The Options Clearing Corporation
  • Mr. James Hunter, City of Albuquerque, NM Emergency Management
  • Mr. Stan Johnson, North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC)
  • Mr. David Jones, El Paso Corporation
  • Inspector Jay Kopstein, Operations Division, New York City Police Department (NYPD)
  • Ms. Tiffany Jones, Symantec Corporation
  • Mr. Bruce Larson, American Water
  • Mr. Charlie Lathram, Business Executives for National Security (BENS)/BellSouth
  • Mr. Turner Madden, Madden & Patton
  • Chief Mary Beth Michos, Prince William County (Va.) Fire and Rescue
  • Mr. Bill Muston, TXU Corp.
  • Mr. Vijay Nilekani, Nuclear Energy Institute
  • Mr. Phil Reitinger, Microsoft
  • Mr. Rob Rolfsen, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Mr. Tim Roxey, Constellation
  • Ms. Charyl Sarber, Symantec
  • Mr. Lyman Shaffer, Pacific Gas and Electric,
  • Ms. Diane VanDeHei, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)
  • Ms. Susan Vismor, Mellon Financial Corporation
  • Mr. Ken Watson, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Mr. Greg Wells, Southwest Airlines
  • Mr. Gino Zucca, Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Resources
  • Dr. Bruce Gellin, Rockefeller Foundation
  • Dr. Mary Mazanec
  • Dr. Stuart Nightingale, CDC
  • Ms. Julie Schafer
  • Dr. Ben Schwartz, CDC
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Resources
  • Mr. James Caverly, Director, Infrastructure Partnerships Division
  • Ms. Nancy Wong, NIAC Designated Federal Officer (DFO)
  • Ms. Jenny Menna, NIAC Designated Federal Officer (DFO)
  • Dr. Til Jolly
  • Mr. Jon MacLaren
  • Ms. Laverne Madison
  • Ms. Kathie McCracken
  • Mr. Bucky Owens
  • Mr. Dale Brown, Contractor
  • Mr. John Dragseth, IP attorney, Contractor
  • Mr. Jeff Green, Contractor
  • Mr. Tim McCabe, Contractor
  • Mr. William B. Anderson, ITS America
  • Mr. Michael Arceneaux, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)
  • Mr. Chad Callaghan, Marriott Corporation
  • Mr. Ted Cromwell, American Chemistry Council (ACC)
  • Ms. Jeanne Dumas, American Trucking Association (ATA)
  • Ms. Joan Harris, US Department of Transportation, Office of the Secretary
  • Mr. Greg Hull, American Public Transportation Association
  • Mr. Joe LaRocca, National Retail Federation
  • Mr. Jack McKlveen, United Parcel Service (UPS)
  • Ms. Beth Montgomery, Wal-Mart
  • Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, Georgia Office of EMS/Trauma/EP
  • Mr. Roger Platt, The Real Estate Roundtable
  • Mr. Martin Rojas, American Trucking Association (ATA)
  • Mr. Timothy Sargent, Senior Chief, Economic Analysis and Forecasting Division, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Finance Canada

In other words, big everything: food, energy, retail, computers, water, and you name it. It’s a corporatist dream team.

Consider ConAgra itself. What is that? It is Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Orville Redenbacher’s, Reddi-Wip, Slim Jim, Hunt’s Peter Pan Egg Beaters, Hebrew National, Marie Callender’s, P.F. Chang’s, Ranch Style Beans, Ro*Tel, Wolf Brand Chili, Angie’s, Duke’s, Gardein, Frontera, Bertolli, among many other seemingly independent brands that are all actually one company.

Now, ask yourself: why might all these companies favor a plan for lockdowns? Why might WalMart, for example? It stands to reason. Lockdowns are a massive interference with competitive capitalism. They provide the best possible subsidy to big business while shutting down independent small businesses and putting them at a huge disadvantage once the opening up happens.

In other words, it is an industrial racket, very much akin to interwar-style fascism, a corporatist combination of big business and big government. Throw pharma into the mix and you see exactly what came to pass in 2020, which amounted to the largest transfer of wealth from small and medium-sized business plus the middle class to wealthy industrialists in the history of humanity.

The document is open even about managing information flows: “The public and private sectors should align their communications, exercises, investments, and support activities absolutely with both the plan and priorities during a pandemic influenza event. Continue data gathering, analysis, reporting, and open review.”

There is nothing in any of this that fits with any Western tradition of law and liberty. Nothing. It was never approved by any democratic means. It was never part of any political campaign. It has never been the subject of any serious media examination. No think tank has ever pushed back on such plans in any systematic way.

The last serious attempt to debunk this whole apparatus was from D.H. Henderson in 2006. His two co-authors on that paper eventually came around to going along with lockdowns of 2020. Henderson died in 2016. One of the co-authors of the original article told me that if Dr. Henderson had been around, instead of Dr. Fauci, the lockdowns would never have taken place.

Here we are four years following the deployment of this lockdown machinery, and we are witness to what it destroys. It would be nice to say that the entire apparatus and theory behind it have been fully discredited.

But that is not correct. All the plans are still in place. There have been no changes in federal law. Not one effort has been made to dismantle the corporatist/biosecurity planning state that made all this possible. Every bit of it is in place for the next go-around.

Much of the authority for this whole coup traces to the Public Health Services Act of 1944, which was passed in wartime. For the first time in US history, it gave the federal government the power to quarantine. Even when the Biden administration was looking for some basis to justify its transportation mask mandate, it fell back to this one piece of legislation.

If anyone really wants to get to the root of this problem, there are decisive steps that need to be taken. The indemnification of pharma from liability for harm needs to be repealed. The court precedent of forced shots in Jacobson needs to be overthrown. But even more fundamentally, the quarantine power itself has to go, and that means the full repeal of the Public Health Services Act of 1944. That is the root of the problem. Freedom will not be safe until it is uprooted.

As it stands right now, everything that unfolded in 2020 and 2021 can happen again. Indeed, the plans are in place for exactly that.

Author

Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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WEF report: Digital ID has become a standard feature for everyday life in Pakistan

Published on

From LifeSiteNews

By Tim Hinchliffe

A WEF report, co-authored by the U.N. and World Bank, states that digital public infrastructure ‘is transforming lives in Pakistan,’ ushering in a need for digital ID such that adults in Pakistan cannot lead normal lives without it.

Digital identity sits at the heart of Pakistan’s Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) transformation and is now a standard feature in every adult’s life, according to the WEF Agenda.

Published on the World Economic Forum (WEF) Agenda blog and co-written by representatives from the World Bank and the United Nations’ Better Than Cash Alliance, the story “Digital public infrastructure is transforming lives in Pakistan. Here’s how” highlights how adults in Pakistan cannot lead a normal life without having a digital identity, which is a key component of DPI.

 

“At the heart of Pakistan’s digital transformation is the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), established to overhaul the country’s identity systems,” the authors write, adding:

This was a foundational change, positioning Pakistan among a select group of nations equipped to manage comprehensive digital identities for over 240 million citizens.

The NADRA-issued Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) is now a standard feature in every adult Pakistani’s life, facilitating a range of routine tasks such as opening bank accounts, purchasing airline tickets, acquiring driver’s licenses, and qualifying for social protection, thereby ensuring seamless identity authentication for every citizen.

Digital Public Infrastructure is a civic technology stack consisting of three components:

  • Digital Identity,
  • Fast Digital Payment Systems (e.g. programmable Central Bank Digital Currencies [CBDCs]),
  • Data Exchanges Between Public and Private Entities.

Now, “Pakistan is set to launch several ambitious DPI initiatives, including expanding the RAAST payment system, implementing a nationwide digital health records system, and launching a blockchain-based land registry,” according to the WEF Agenda.

In 2020 the State Bank of Pakistan partnered with non-profit Karandaaz, which is a “prime delivery partner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”

In 2021 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation granted Karandaaz $4 million “to integrate the Ehsaas Program (biggest Government to Person Program in Pakistan) with RAAST-Pakistan’s Instant Payment System to enable interoperability and choice for the beneficiaries.”

Contributing to the WEF blog post are the World Bank’s technical advisor for Digital Public Infrastructure and Digital ID Tariq Malik, along with the U.N.-based Better Than Cash Alliance’s head of Asia Pacific Prerna Saxena and Pakistan lead Raza Matin.

The U.N.’s Better Than Cash Alliance advocates for “responsible digital payments” and repeatedly states it does not want to abolish physical cash.

However, the Better Than Cash Alliance does want more women to have accounts in their own name, which could also lead to more citizens being tracked, traced, and taxed in the digital system:

We do not want to abolish physical cash, but rather wish to ensure that people have choice in how they make and receive payments. It is important for people to have digital payment options that are responsible and ‘better than cash’ – for example, a woman can have a payment account in her own name, which she manages. To be clear, we do not want to prevent people from using cash, as sometimes it is the best or only payment option.

Speaking at the World Bank Group’s inaugural Global Digital Summit last March, World Bank President Ajay Banga said that digital identity should be embraced worldwide, and that governments should be the owners, so they can guarantee privacy and security for their citizens.

According to Banga, once everyone is hooked-up to a digital ID, then it can be linked to existing infrastructure run by private companies.

“Creating a digital identity platform for citizenry is kind of foundational, and I believe your government should be the owner of your digital ID; private companies should not own that,” said the World Bank president, adding, “it is the social contract of the citizens of their countries to have an identity, a currency, and safety. We should not take that away from them.”

“They should have the digital identity; that digital identity should guarantee the privacy of that citizen; it should help them with their security, but the government should give the identity,” said Banga, adding:

Once you do that, then connecting them to the infrastructure that a private company, either Ericsson or Verizon, or combinations of them – in fact mostly it’s a combination – then the question is, ‘What do you do with it that requires a digital ID?’ so you can start connecting with that citizen.

For Banga and other unelected globalists, digital identity is the key to unlocking access to goods and services through public-private partnerships – the fusion of corporation and state.

Last year, the United Nations partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to launch the 50-in-5 Digital Public Infrastructure campaign to accelerate digital ID, digital payments systems, and data sharing among 50 countries by 2028.

Last week, former British prime minister-turned globalist technocracy enthusiast Tony Blair said that digital ID was essential to modern infrastructure but would require “a little work of persuasion.”

Speaking on a panel about Digital Public Infrastructure at the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 2023 Spring Meetings, Infosys co-founder and ex-chair of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Nandan Nilekani, said that everybody should have a digital ID, a bank account, and a smartphone as they were the “tools of the New World” for digital public infrastructure.

India is the globalists’ shining example of what DPI should look like in practice.

Following the B20 India Summit last year, the leaders of the B20 published their annual communique, with a section dedicated to DPI rollouts.

The B20 India communique called on G20 nations to rollout DPI, with the first policy action being to “Promote the digitization of identities at the individual, enterprise, and farm levels that are both interoperable and recognized across borders.“

As a key performance indicator for digital ID rollouts, the B20 recommended that “G20 nations develop guidelines for unique single digital identification for MSME [micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises] and individuals that can be securely accessed (based on consent) by different government and private stakeholders for identity verification and information access within 3 years.”

Speaking at the WEF Global Technology Governance Summit in April 2021, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said that his government’s goal was to create a digital ID system that would make Ukraine the most convenient State in the world by operating like a digital service provider.

“We have to make a product that is so convenient that a person will be able to disrupt their stereotypes, to breakthrough from their fears, and start using a government-made application,” said Fedorov.

“Our goal is to enable all life situations with this digital ID,” he added.

While Ukraine has sought to enable all life situations with its digital ID, the WEF reports that digital identity “is now a standard feature in every adult Pakistani’s life.”

Reprinted with permission from The Sociable.

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