Will Buying a Tesla Fund Al Qaeda? The Unlikely Group Supporting Afghani Immigrants, Let's Just Defund the Portland Police (if They're Not Going to Arrest Violent Offenders) (The Five for 08/24/21)

Hey, welcome to The Five.

Lot’s of news. Let’s dive in.

[one]

One of the most vital elements of the Taliban takeover that nobody's paying much attention to…is the terrorist group's budget.

I'm dead serious.

YouTuber Anthony Pompalino has an incredible breakdown on how the Taliban generates $1.6 billion annually.

Drugs are the biggest contributor to the terrorist organization’s budget-slash-(literal)-war-chest.

The Taliban is responsible for 84% of global opium production over the last five years. They impose a 10% tax on every single link in the drug production chain.

That includes the farmers, the labs that turn the plant into a drug, and to the shipping that gets the drugs out of the country.

Almost anywhere in the world, when an addict takes a hit of heroin, a few more dollars go into the pockets of the Terrorist group currently killing American citizens who have been stranded in the botched troop withdrawal.

Afghanistan is also rich in materials, including what may be the world’s largest supply of Lithium, which means the more electric vehicles hit the road, the more likely the Taliban are to get richer.

With a strong alliance between the Taliban and Chinese Communist Party, and the two sharing a border, it's easy to imagine how Afghan Lithium will be “washed” through another, more repubable nation the way that organized crime move illegal money into the legitimate market through false front businesses that don't actually turn a profit.

Combat vet and YouTuber Robert Terkla described the Taliban “economy,” and consequences of that economy, this way:

Human trafficking. Drugs. Guns. That’s all they really do. They’ll cut your head off, cut your fingers off, cut your eyes out…They’ll take your twelve year old daughter and force her to marry a Taliban guy, then she’ll literally just be utilized to breed kids to be in the Taliban. Women over there are for reproducing, that’s it.

And don’t expect the Taliban to only wreck havoc within their own borders. Although the average person in Afghanistan is quite poor (the average salary per year is $570 US dollars), there are some very rich people in the country. And those very rich people are often ideologically aligned with Al Qaeda.

Rita Katz, who tracks extremist behavior worldwide, painted this bleak picture for the New Yorker:

There is a “universal recognition” that Al Qaeda can now “reinvest” in Afghanistan as a safe haven, Jihadism effectively has a new homeland, the first since the collapse of the isis caliphate in March, 2019. It foreshadows a new future that sadly couldn’t have been further from what we would hope for after twenty years of war. It’s a boon for Al Qaeda and its franchises, which now stretch from Burkina Faso in West Africa to Bangladesh in South Asia. Militants from across the world—whether they be regionally focused Islamists or globally focused jihadists—will surely seek to enter Afghanistan’s porous borders,” Katz added.

The Taliban are now equipped with American weapons (more on that below), running a country rebuilt by American dollars, and will likely be further enriched by both American heroin consumption AND growing love of electric vehicles. It’s only 13 years until General Motors goes into exclusive production of electric vehicles, which may not be possible without Afghan Lithium for the batteries.

In America today, rich college kid will take heroin out of boredom and curiousity.

And at dealerships across the country, Americans will slide behind the wheel of their new Tesla's, Electric F-150’s and E-Mustangs.

In the near future, both may be funneling their dollars to terrorism.

By comparison…my beloved 2008 Honda Element may be creating carbon emissions, but it’s also not funding the next 9/11.

The devil is often in the details, and a detailed look at the Taliban’s income streams point to realities that most Americans just aren’t going to want to hear.

Electric vehicles are cool and very fun. Supporting the end of the war on drugs is trendy.*

And both social trends may have dire unintended consequences as Al Qaeda re-equips and rebuilds for new terrorism campaigns.

*Full disclosure, a chunk of my mortgage gets paid each month due to the fact that I work on marketing for medical marijuana, so don’t read that sentence as me trying to oversimplify a complex issue.

[two]

Eric Voorhies, The Google employee who leaked hundreds of internal documents showing strong evidence that the search engine giant blacklists conservative sites, shared in a new interview that Google was tweaking their algorithm in real time to bias readers towards former FBI Director James Comey during the former FBI Director’s public fued with then-President Donald Trump.

From an interview with the Epoch Times:

This is called real-time, hive-mind scoring,” said Vorhies.  “They literally built it, they re-wrote it according to the fight that Trump was having with [James] Comey. It’s not for increasing market share in the United States… their competitors are having exponential growth.

Is this illegal? I'm not sure. Probably not.

Is it a stupid business move? Ummm…yup.

Is it gross? Absolutely.

When you buy a Volkswagen, you're putting down your money assuming that you're going to drive around town without the sunroof spontaneously shattering, sending thousands of pieces of glass into your face and skull.

And when you search Google, the assumption is that you're viewing a list of accurate information, not a narrow search field curated from select sites the Tech Overlords have hand selected.

At this point, both James Comey and Donald Trump are (at least for the time being) completely out of the news cycle…so the issue in 2021 isn’t necessarily a political one, but a matter of public trust. If Google will tweak their results in real time over a political spat, what else will the search engine giant turn the knobs on, hoping to sway public opinion?

Public trust in all large institutions is declining, which pushes the average Joe towards narcissism and nihilistic violence (see story 4).

Google’s tweaks may not be the end of the world, but they’re not helping matters in a frayed nation.

[three]

I didn’t even realize Conversative radio host Glenn Beck, who once dominated Fox News and the AM airwaves, was still around.

Beck made a splash in the news this week when he raised in excess of $20 million to help Afghani Christians get out of the country before facing Taliban persecution.

As the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan last week, Beck urged listeners to “give until it hurts” to rescue some 5,000 Christians – mainly women and children – trapped in the country.

The fundamentalist group has been known to persecute Christians under their regime.

While hosting his Premiere Networks-syndicated radio show on Wednesday, Aug. 18, Beck set a goal of raising $20 million by Friday to benefit the Nazarene Fund, which he founded through his non-profit Mercury One. By the end of Thursday’s radio program, Premiere says donations reached $13 million, and by Friday morning, they exceeded $20 million. To date, the total raised is $27 million.

“In times like these, what I believe to be the greatest audience ever assembled, has given me, the Afghan people, and the world, something so important right now – hope,” Beck said in a news release. “It’s the power of one.”

One thing that drives me crazy is the intellectual schism between public signaling and real world help to those in need.

I picked up something off Facebook Marketplace in one of the more affluent neighborhoods in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago, and saw at least 12 of these yard signs in the subdivision.

Statistically, at least 6 of those 12 of those households are lying, because 55% of Americans don’t give $1 to charity or volunteer one hour in any given year. Or, perhaps more accurately…they may believe those things, they just don’t do anything about them.

A big part of the drop-off, according to a study from the University of Maryland, is the “bowling alone” problem. People don’t donate and volunteer…because they’re lonely and don’t know how/why to. Paradoxically, volunteering and giving would help lonely Americans find new and deep friendships and plug into a cause greater to themselves, which increases happiness.

While I don’t have any data on Beck’s audience, I think it’s safe to assume it’s a blue collar, religious, right-leaning crowd…precisely the people the mainstream media tells us are bigoted xenophobes. (I don’t doubt that there’s a thread of truth in that, but it’s hardly the tapestry of heartland America).

Beck asked his audience to “give until it hurts,” and Americans responded.

Even (especially?) if you have a bias towards the rural parts of this country, I hope you see the love and charity in what happened with the Glenn Beck audience.

[four]

Far right extremist group The Proud Boys fought with far-left extremist group Antifa over the weekend in Portland,

Yahoo news reports:

Protests by rival far-right and left-wing groups in Portland descended into violence on Sunday, as the opposing sides engaged in clashes and at least one man was arrested for firing a gun at demonstrators. 

Nobody was hurt in an exchange of gunfire - and by Sunday evening there was no word on any injuries in numerous other skirmishes that saw opposing sides brawling, dousing each other in what appeared to be bear spray and breaking car windows of rivals. 

Police Chief Chuck Lovell said during a briefing on Friday that officers would not necessarily intervene to break up fights between the groups. 

But he added that "just because arrests are not made at the scene when tensions are high, does not mean that people won't be charged with crimes." 

Well, I know extremist groups are gonna extremist…but this is notable because:

A. Virtually every other city in the U.S. that saw an uptick in riot-style violence (Kenosha, Minneapolis, Chicago, etc) may still be experiencing a higher crime rate…but they got the riot stuff under control. Portland is, basically, one big riot these days.

Which is likely a direct result of….

B. The absolute cowardice of the police force. Two extremist groups are, at this point, openly allowed to engage in run-and-gun battles in the street and violent clashes that resemble…well, the chaos around the Kabul Airport.

To quote the Police Chief here, “just because there are not arrests made at the scene, does not mean mean there won’t be charges.”

First off…why are there not arrests? This is a “you had one job” moment.

Secondly, how are you going to find these masked whackos? Ask their friends? Oh, wait. You’re not arresting their friends. Skim social media? In 2021, people are dumb enough to post stuff like that.

I never thought I’d be the voice calling to defund the police, but if the cops are going to stand by while domestic terrorists shoot at each other, I guess those tax dollars could be put to better use elsewhere.

Pushing product isn’t really a thing that’s a part of The Five, but this is the rare exception. Not everyone can or should own a gun (although I recommend it unless you have extenuating circumstances), but there’s no reason not to own body armor for your family in 2021, unless you just flat out can’t afford it, or live far enough away from a populated area that this kind of violence won’t happen.

As someone who’s lived two miles from two different riots, in two different states, I wholeheartedly recommend Armored Republic, who are running a sale right now.*

*Not an affiliate link. I make no money if you make a purchase. I don’t know this company personally, just believe in their products.

[five]

Taliban fighters pose with their farewell gift from the U.S., an A29 Super Tecano light attack plane.

The poorly executed U.S. retreat from Afghanistan just gave the world’s most powerful terrorist organization a working air force, and likely millions of machine guns, grenades and bombs.

CNN reports:

The Taliban's newfound American arsenal is likely not limited to small arms, as the group captured sizable stockpiles of weapons and vehicles held at strongholds once controlled by US-backed forces, including modern mine-resistant vehicles (MRAPs) and Humvees.

Initial estimates suggest the Taliban may now also possess several Black Hawk helicopters and other US-funded military aircraft, according to a congressional source familiar with early assessments provided by defense officials.

That potentially includes roughly 20 A-29 Tucano attack planes, the source said, noting there are some indications that only a small number of aircraft were relocated from a base in Kandahar before it was overrun by the Taliban.

As far as small arms goes, there are a lot of them up for grabs.

There are likely 600,000 American made rifles (full auto, sniper, you name it) and 20,000+ grenades in circulation, along with whatever’s left of more than 50 million rounds of ammo we shipped into the country.

At this point, multiple sources are reporting the U.S. is holding off from bombing our own left-behind ordinance, because the Taliban is preventing an untold number of Americans from reaching the Kabul airport…and we don’t want to risk actions that may result in further loss of American life.

In all likelihood, the terrorists will get to keep their American made, American taxpayer financed war toys.

[epilogue]

The monastery on Lake Tana, Ethiopia where the Ark of the Covenant was allegedly stashed for safe keeping from Israel’s enemies for more than 400 years.

In 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark made Indiana Jones a household name, cemented Harrison Ford as an A-list movie star, and caused quite the buzz around archeology.

Most assume that finding the Ark of the Covenant, the ornate golden box holding the sacred 10 Commandments carved into stone, which serves as the cornerstone of Judaism, as a mere fantasy.

However, there’s at least an outside chance the Ark, which was thought to be lost when Babylon sacked the Jewish Temple in 586 B.C., could have survived.

Ethiopia is one of the most Christianized nations in the world, but many would be surprised that prior to the death of Christ, the north-central African nation was heavily Jewish for over 1,000 years.

According to the Ethiopians, the Queen of Sheba, who is considered the nation’s founder, visited Solomon, the famous king that grew the tiny Mediterranean nation into an empire, establishing a link between Israel and Ethiopia.

According to the Tigray clan in Northern Ethiopia, the Ark was brought to the nation for safe keeping from Israel’s enemies, and was guarded on a monastery on an island in Lake Tana (an 800 square mile inland sea) for 400 years.

Today, the alleged “real Ark” is kept safe by monks who do not leave the monastery grounds once they’re anointed as guardians of the Ark.

Not even the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is allowed to look upon…whatever it is that’s being guarded. Viewing the alleged Ark is a privilege for the guardian monks alone.

But could it be true? Well, these people have kept rather excellent written records and art, which hasn’t been subjected to the typical looting and burning that destroyed so much knowledge and history in Europe and the Mediterranean (the pic below is an 800 year old Christian Bible inscribed on goat skin).

So it’s not impossible…and the circumstantial evidence means it’s not pure conspiracy theory.

Bad news for Indiana Jones though…Ethopia’s poisonous snakes are so numerous that a new species of deadly viper was just discovered in 2016.

Until the next one,

-sth