Early Warning for Friday, 09 October 2020

Good afternoon. Here’s your Early Warning for Friday, 09 October 2020.

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TODAY’S BRIEFING:

  • Democrats introduce 25th Amendment legislation
  • Cruz: “A bloodbath of Watergate proportions”
  • HSBC: Global economy operating at 90-95% for next 6-12 months
  • Commercial real estate crisis eyed as work-from-home policies continue
  • LIC Activity Rollup
  • Continued BLM focus on digital security
  • FBI analyzes phones of activists
  • Portland DA drops 70 percent of riot cases
  • DOJ to remain on standby in D.C. on Election Day
  • Anarchists call for mass protests after the Election

POLITICAL WARNING

Democrats introduce 25th Amendment legislation

House Democrats introduced legislation invoking the 25th Amendment in order to remove future presidents, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The bill would establish “a Commission on Presidential Capacity” — a panel of experts, including physicians, mental health professionals, and political players — to evaluate and determine if future presidents are capable of executing their presidential duties. According to a press conference this morning, Pelosi said this wasn’t aimed at President Trump but added that “he [Trump] shows the need to create a process for future presidents… a president’s fitness for office must be determined by science and facts.” (Analyst Comment: Some have suggested that this effort is just to get under President Trump’s skin, but it may well be aimed at a Trump reelection. Democrats and media pundits have expressed their concern that the COVID-related medication President Trump is taking may lead to erratic behavior. Others have suggested that it may end up targeting a Biden presidency. Either way, this legislation is aimed at invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a president from office, whoever it may be, according to Pelosi. The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, outlines the procedures for the succession of the vice president to the presidency and how to name a vice presidential replacement. – S.C.)

Cruz: “A bloodbath of Watergate proportions”

Sen. Ted Cruz (D-TX) was on CNBC this morning again warning that the GOP could be headed for a massive defeat in November. Cruz previously warned that the election was likely to be a total sweep in one direction, for Democrats or Republicans. He renewed that warning and accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) of stalling on a COVID relief bill in order to hurt President Trump’s reelection chances. “[I]f on Election Day, people are angry and they’ve given up hope and they’re depressed, which is what Pelosi and Schumer want them to be, I think it could be a terrible election. I think we could lose the White House and both houses of Congress, that it could be a bloodbath of Watergate proportions,” Cruz said, citing when Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter won and Republicans lost big in the 1976 elections. (AC: Over seven million ballots have already been cast and early reporting shows a majority of them very likely belong to Democrats. This trend may not hold, but it certainly should be a wake up call. What’s worse for the Trump campaign is that a failure to agree on a stimulus bill now gives Biden an opportunity in next week’s debate, if it happens, to hit Trump on his inability to strike a deal. President Trump likely needs this stimulus deal, but it may be too late for any Main Street economic effects to be felt prior to the election. According to a recent survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, some 60 million Americans expect their households to lose income in the next month, either due to job loss or ending benefits. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently told reporters that a stimulus deal is “unlikely in the next three weeks,” due to the confirmation process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. If Trump loses a fair election, it’s going to be in part because he didn’t strike a deal. – S.C.)

ECONOMIC WARNING

HSBC: Global economy operating at 90-95% for next 6-12 months

According to a recent quarterly outlook, international bank HSBC forecast that the global economy will be operating just under pre-COVID levels for the next six to 12 months. “Going forward, investors need to be realistic about the investment returns that are achievable from here,” reads the report. (AC: The outlook noted that the U.S. was in a better position than most countries, but added that there were some downside risks to this assumption, namely diminishing returns from stimulus, concern over deficit spending, and continued political gridlock. – S.C.)

Commercial real estate crisis eyed as work-from-home policies continue

Microsoft announced this morning that it would implement a permanent work-from-home policy. That announcement follows Ford and Target, both of whom said that corporate workers would work from home through July 2021. (AC: This trend is likely to continue, especially if COVID cases rise going into the fall and winter. One report from last month found that some 60 percent of businesses closed during the pandemic will close permanently. Anecdotally, shopping centers and boutique stores sit empty in many places due to closures and store space abandonment. I’ve also noticed a lot of empty parking garages. According to the latest data from Alignable, 34 percent of small businesses couldn’t pay their October rent, including 46 percent of beauty salons, 40 percent of restaurants, 40 percent of gyms, and 36 percent of consumer retail businesses. A commercial real estate crisis has long been predicted, and while this may not be reaching a traditional “crisis” level — at least not yet–there’s clearly going to be long lasting implications for many shopping centers. – S.C.)

The information provided by Forward Observer in this report is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered financial advice. You should consult with a financial advisor to determine what may be best for your financial needs.

LOW INTENSITY CONFLICT INTSUM

ACTIVITY ROLLUP:

PHILADELPHIA: Antifascist intelligence support volunteers continue to monitor police scanner traffic to maintain situational awareness and report on police locations during BLM protests.

PORTLAND: Portland Action Medics, an antifascist street medic group, will reportedly provide training to over 100 activists during upcoming Stop the Bleed training sessions.

SAN DIEGO: Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists in San Diego, California illegally blocked traffic, harassed drivers, and struck vehicles attempting to drive around.

SEATTLE: Antifascist mutual aid group known as the Community Relief Corps reportedly acquired a large box truck to transport supplies in support of upcoming activism. (AC: This is another indicator that logistics and transportation support classes are developing, making direct action activism more effective. – S.C.)

ST. PAUL: Wearing body armor and armed with AR-15 pattern rifles, BLM activists in St. Paul, Minnesota led a procession of protesters dragging imitation corpses representing black killed in police-involved shootings. 

TACOMA: Armed BLM activists illegally blocked traffic and harassed drivers yesterday in Tacoma, Washington. (Armed BLM protests are becoming more popular. Earlier in the week, activists armed with long guns and handguns were out in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, where rioters looted businesses, vandalized homes, and smashed windows in residential neighborhoods. – M.B.)

Continued BLM focus on digital security

Activists associated with Black Lives Matter movement are sharing a digital privacy guide to ensure best security practices during protest planning and coordination. The guide recommends using end-to-end encryption, blurring faces in photos, using airplane mode, and turning off location information. (AC: There’s been a persistent effort to evade digital surveillance by law enforcement. For many, these security countermeasures are likely to increase privacy around social activism; however, there are undoubtedly those who will use increased digital security to evade identification before, during, and after criminal behavior. – S.C.)

FBI analyzes phones of activists

According to recent reporting, a team of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents confiscated cell phones from arrested activists in Portland, and coordinated with the FBI’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis about exploiting the contents of the phones, regarding other activists and violence. (AC: Based on a chain of emails from the FBI, agents from the Counterterrorism Division were likely trying to determine if the Portland antifascists rose to the level of a domestic terrorist organization. In one instance, Federal Protective Service officers arrested an individual for shining a laser into the eyes of police officers. Upon searching the suspect, officers reportedly found “a machete, a large mortar firework and a section of galvanized pipe with end caps and fuze assembly,” which could have been used as an improvised explosive device. FBI agents later obtained a search warrant for the suspect’s home for further evidence, but I’ve not seen any details released. Knowing that FBI forensic analysts ripped cell phones, it’s likely that FBI analysts have mapped out much of the Portland antifascist network. – S.C.)

Portland DA drops 70 percent of riot cases

The Multnomah Co. District Attorney’s office released a report on the status of protest and riot charges, revealing that nearly 70 percent of 974 cases have been dropped; 543 of which were rejected in the “interest of justice.” Of note, the majority of cases involve suspects who are white males. (AC: The lack of follow through and prosecution from DA’s such as Mike Schmidt will continue to hamper law enforcement efforts to combat Far Left riots. The dropping of charges on arguably vague terms will continue to be a revolving door for rioters and instigators to return to the same streets they were arrested on. -M.B.)

DOJ to remain on standby in D.C. on Election Day

The Justice Department is reportedly setting up a command center in Washington D.C. to manage the federal response to voting irregularities. An anonymous Justice Department official said the organization was concerned about potential disruption caused by both sides of the political aisle. (AC: The FBI will reportedly deploy unarmed agents to watch for polling issues. There’s been a recent bump in traffic regarding the potential for militias to show up armed to polling sites. To reiterate, I haven’t seen any specific information that leads me to believe this will be an issue, although there’s plenty of media interest and a bit of prognostication. – S.C.)

Anarchists call for mass protests after the Election

In response to a possible second Trump presidential term, Anarchist bloggers with Its Going Down posted recommendations to combat “vigilante repression” in a potentially contested November election. The authors called for mass mobilization to overwhelm right wing militias and law enforcement, who the authors say will intimidate voters and defend the Trump presidency. The authors write, “The Left’s role will be to fuel mass, militant direct action that overwhelms the far right and multiplies points of resistance in the institutions of the state and economy.” They also stress the development of “signal boosting networks,” regional carpools, and propagandizing members of the military to encourage defection.  (AC: Despite notable growth in recent years, armed Leftist groups do not have the capability or popular support to take on Right wing groups or law enforcement in armed conflict. They will likely continue to lean heavily upon mass BLM, anti-Trump protests to exhaust opponents if Trump wins reelection. They will likely seize what they claim are “favorable conditions” following a Biden victory as an opportunity to further prepare. -M.B.)

Upcoming Event Calendar

09 October: We Will Not Go Quietly (BLM) (Bedford, PA)

10 October: March Against Police Brutality (BLM) (Detroit, MI)

10 October: Elijah McClain Protest (PSL) (San Diego, CA)

10 October: Rescue America Rally (Walk Away) (Nashville, TN)

11 October: Indigenous People’s Day of Rage  (Portland, OR; Albuquerque, NM; Minneapolis, MN; Chapel Hill, NC; Reno, NV; Tampa Bay, FL; New York City, NY; Flagstaff, AZ)

11 October: Refuse Fascism (Antifa) (Decatur, IL)

17 October: Bay Area Fight Back (Antifa) (San Francisco, CA)

31 October: The Modern Revolution (Insurgence USA) (Salt Lake City, UT)

— END REPORT

S.C. indicates analyst commentary from Samuel Culper

M.B. indicates analyst commentary from Max Baer

F.C. indicates commentary from Fox Company reporter

Samuel Culper is a former Intelligence NCO and contractor. Iraq(x1)/Afghanistan(x2). He now studies intelligence and warfare.

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