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[Markets] The Moneyist: ‘I grew up thinking we were the perfect family’: A DNA test revealed I was the product of an affair. Am I entitled to a share of my biological father’s estate? ‘My siblings have counseled me to consider what I may be entitled to as an inheritance, as this man is actually very well off.’
Published:1/16/2022 5:59:55 PM
[Markets] Glenn Greenwald Exposes Deep State Effort To Stop Trump Pardoning Edward Snowden And Julian Assange Glenn Greenwald Exposes Deep State Effort To Stop Trump Pardoning Edward Snowden And Julian Assange

Authored by Adam Dick via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

There was much speculation toward the end of Donald Trump’s term as president of the United States that Trump would pardon Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, or both of these men who were responsible for exposing vast amounts of wrongdoing by the US government. But, it did not come to pass. Why? Glenn Greenwald, who played a key role in helping Snowden expose information about the US government’s mass surveillance programs and who advocated in public and behind the scenes that Trump pardon both men, has some interesting thoughts about that.

The reason Trump failed to issue a pardon for either Snowden or Assange centers on the deep state trying to protect itself by placing Trump in jeopardy, suggested Greenwald last week in an episode of his System Update show.

In a written introduction for the episode, Greenwald notes that Trump, while president, had both “raised the possibility that he might pardon Snowden” and was “actively considering a pardon for Assange.”

Greenwald, in the introduction, zeros in on a recent interview of Trump by Candace Owens. In the interview, Trump stated he came “very close” to pardoning one of them but did not ultimately do so. Why? Trump said the reason was because Trump “was too nice” to issue the pardon.

Greenwald isn’t buying that explanation. He writes:

The question that obviously emerges from that answer: too nice to whom? To the U.S. security services — the CIA, NSA and FBI — which had spent four years doing everything possible to sabotage and undermine Trump and his presidency with their concoction of Russiagate and other leaks of false accusations to their corporate media allies? Too nice to the war-mongering servants of the military-industrial complex in the establishment wings of both parties who were the allies of those security services in attempting to derail Trump's America First foreign policy agenda? Too nice to John Brennan, James Clapper and Susan Rice, the Obama-era security officials most eager to see both Assange and Snowden rot in prison for life because they exposed Obama's spying crimes and the Democrats’ corruption in 2016? Trump's “I'm too nice” explanation is, shall we say, less than persuasive.

In the System Update episode, Greenwald further explains that Trump’s enmity toward these deep state forces that helped lead Greenwald and many other individuals to think that Trump may issue the pardons:

Now the argument for why President Trump not only should have pardoned Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, but why some of us believed there was a chance that he could didn't rely on the benevolence of President Trump. It relied on the fact that he knew better than anybody how deceitful and abusive and dangerous these agencies are. The agencies that were exposed by Snowden and Assange and the ones that were demanding that they be imprisoned forever. He knew, as well as anybody, the treachery and the illegal interference in our domestic politics because he was one of their targets.

Yet, the pardons did not materialize. Why? Greenwald states that Greenwald “knew that Trump wanted to pardon Edward Snowden and had strongly considered pardoning Julian Assange.” But, continues Greenwald, Trump “got scared into pardoning neither of them for reasons I'm about to explain to you.” Greenwald then argues that ultimately Trump gave in to deep state pressure applied through Republican Senators’ threat to convict Trump on the impeachment brought against him in his final weeks in office. Says Greenwald:

They were making very clear to him explicitly clear Republican senators like Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell that if you do any of those things that you are considering doing, pardoning Assange and Snowden, declassifying JFK files, declassifying other secrets that should have been declassified long ago because they're from decades old treachery on the part of the US government, we will vote to impeach you. They had this leverage the sword of Damocles hanging over his head….

“This is the story of why the deep state yet again got its way,” concludes Greenwald in his System Update episode, “even with a person in the White House who knows firsthand just how evil and destructive and toxic they are.”

Watch the System Update episode, and read the introduction and transcript, here.

Tyler Durden Sun, 01/16/2022 - 18:30
Published:1/16/2022 5:59:55 PM
[Markets] Here's how to get free home COVID-19 tests starting Wednesday Here's how to get free home COVID-19 tests starting Wednesday Published:1/15/2022 1:01:48 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Market Rally Holds Key Support; Apple, Qualcomm Lead 5 Stocks Near Buy Points The stock market rally is on the back foot, while the Nasdaq has lagged the S&P 500 for nearly a year. But Apple is holding up. Published:1/15/2022 1:01:47 PM
[Markets] : With prices for some rarities in the millions of dollars, collectible coins are becoming a hot item The numismatic market has seen tremendous growth since the start of the pandemic
Published:1/15/2022 1:01:47 PM
[Markets] Two Carjackings In Midtown Manhattan Took Place Within An Hour Of Each Other This Week Two Carjackings In Midtown Manhattan Took Place Within An Hour Of Each Other This Week

Among Mayor Eric Adams' first tasks in New York City should be getting his District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has telegraphed little more than total apathy towards criminal behavior to the city, under control. 

Otherwise, situations like the one that occurred this week - when two carjackings occurred in Midtown Manhattan within an hour of each other - are going to continue.

On Wednesday, one carjacking took place at W. 55th Street and Broadway and another happened at W. 36th Street near 7th Avenue - within an hour of one another.

The first incident took place at about 4:30 PM, according to the NY Post. A male suspect stole a black Audi SUV after threatening the driver with a taser.

Photo: NY Post

Video of the incident shows the suspect then hit a second vehicle, a sedan, head-on. The suspect then ditched the Audi near Columbus Circle and fled the scene.

The suspect reportedly hit the gas after police ordered him out of the vehicle.

“He started hitting my car, going the wrong way into me. It’s scary … my car got hit,” a nearby victim said.

The second incident took place about 45 minutes later. A black Infiniti was stolen by a suspect with a box cutter.

And of course, both suspects still remain on the loose.

We're sure DA Bragg is already drafting excuses for the suspects and how they're victims of a repressive system that has forced them into a life of crime. We can't wait for that press conference...

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/15/2022 - 14:00
Published:1/15/2022 1:01:47 PM
[Markets] U.S. retail sales sank 1.9% in December U.S. retail sales sank 1.9% in December Published:1/14/2022 7:57:34 AM
[Markets] Stock market news live updates: Stock futures extend losses amid mixed bank earnings, retail sales miss Stock futures fell Friday morning to add to losses after a tech-driven sell-off on Thursday, with investors monitoring a mixed set of bank earnings and a bigger-than-expected drop in U.S. retail sales. Published:1/14/2022 7:57:34 AM
[Markets] "Don't Fight The Fed" "Don't Fight The Fed"

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

“Don’t Fight The Fed.” But, unfortunately, that mantra has remained a “call to arms” of the financial markets and media “bullish tribes” over the last decade.

Armed with zero interest rate policy and the most aggressive monetary campaign in history, investors elevated the financial markets to heights only rarely seen in human history. Yet, despite record valuations, pandemics, warnings, and inflationary pressures, the “animal spirit” fostered by an undeniable “faith in the Federal Reserve” remain alive and well.

Of course, the rise in “animal spirits” is simply the reflection of the rising delusion of investors who frantically cling to data points that somehow support the notion “this time is different.” As David Einhorn once stated:

“The bulls explain that traditional valuation metrics no longer apply to certain stocks. The longs are confident that everyone else who holds these stocks understands the dynamic and won’t sell either. With holders reluctant to sell, the stocks can only go up – seemingly to infinity and beyond. We have seen this before.

There was no catalyst that we know of that burst the dot-com bubble in March 2000, and we don’t have a particular catalyst in mind here. That said, the top will be the top, and it’s hard to predict when it will happen.”

Is this time different? Most likely not. Such was a point James Montier noted recently,

Current arguments as to why this time is different are cloaked in the economics of secular stagnation and standard finance workhorses like the equity risk premium model. Whilst these may lend a veneer of respectability to those dangerous words, taking arguments at face value without considering the evidence seems to me, at least, to be a common link with previous bubbles.

Mental Gymnastics

While the “bulls” are adamant, you shouldn’t “fight the Fed” when monetary policy is loose, they say the same when it reverses. Such got evidenced by Fisher Investmentsarguing rate hikes are NOT bad for stocks.

“Many pundits blaming 2018’s stock market decline on that year’s Fed hikes. While we can’t predict Fed policy from here, we can correct the record on 2018, which we think had very little to do with the Fed.

Fisher does “mental gymnastics” to suggest the sell-off in 2018 was due to forces other than the Fed. However, what reversed the “bullish psychology” was evident.

“The really extremely accommodative low-interest rates that we needed when the economy was quite weak, we don’t need those anymore. They’re not appropriate anymore. Interest rates are still accommodative, but we’re gradually moving to a place where they will be neutral. We may go past neutral, but we’re a long way from neutral at this point, probably.” – Jerome Powell, Oct 3rd, 2018

That sharp sell-off in the chart above started following that statement from Jerome Powell. Why? Because even though the Fed had already started hiking rates previously, the comment suggested much tighter policy to come.

What reversed that “bear market psychology” just two months later? The Fed’s reversal on their “neutral stance.”

“Where we are right now is the lower end of neutral. There are implications for that. Monetary policymaking is a forward-looking exercise, and I’m just going to stick with that. There’s real uncertainty about the pace and the destination of further rate increases, and we’re going to be letting incoming data inform our thinking about the appropriate path.” – Jerome Powell, Dec 18th, 2019

By the summer of 2019, the Fed’s interest rates returned to ZERO.

Why did the market rally?

“Don’t fight the Fed.”

Never Fight The Fed

“Rate hikes aren’t inherently bearish, in our view. Like every monetary policy decision, whether they are a net benefit or detriment depends on market and economic conditions at the time, including how they affect the risk of a deep, prolonged, global yield curve inversion. 2018’s rate hikes flattened the yield curve, but they didn’t invert it.” – Fisher Investments

They are. It is just a function of timing between the first rate hike and when something eventually breaks the “bullish psychology.” Aswe discussed previously:

“In the short term, the economy and the markets (due to the current momentum) can  DEFY the laws of financial gravity as interest rates rise. However, as interest rates increase, they act as a “brake” on economic activity. Such is because higher rates NEGATIVELY impact a highly levered economy:”

Fisher is correct that rates may not impact the financial markets in the short term. However, most of the gains got forfeited in every instance as interest rates slowed economic growth, reduced earnings, or created some crisis.

Most importantly, a much higher degree of reversion occurs when the Fed tightens monetary policy during elevated valuations. For example, beginning in 1960, with valuations over 20x earnings, the Fed started a long-term rate-hiking campaign that resulted in three bear markets, two recessions, and a debt crisis. The following three times when the Fed hiked rates with valuations above 20x, outcomes ranged from bear markets to some credit crisis needing bailouts.

Yes, rate hikes matter, they matter more when there are elevated valuations.

I Fought The Fed, And The Fed Won

The primary bullish argument for owning stocks over the last decade is that low-interest rates support high valuations.

The assumption is the present value of future cash flows from equities rises, and subsequently, so should their valuation. Assuming all else is equal, a falling discount rate does suggest a higher valuation. However, as Cliff Asness noted previously, that argument has little validity.

“Instead of regarding stocks as a fixed-rate bond with known nominal coupons, one must think of stocks as a floating-rate bond whose coupons will float with nominal earnings growth. In this analogy, the stock market’s P/E is like the price of a floating-rate bond. In most cases, despite moves in interest rates, the price of a floating-rate bond changes little, and likewise the rational P/E for the stock market moves little.” – Cliff Asness

The problem for the bulls is simple:

“You can’t have it both ways.”

Either low-interest rates are bullish, or high rates are bullish. Unfortunately, they can’t be both.

As noted, rising interest rates correlate to rising equity prices due to market participants’ “risk-on” psychology. However, that correlation cuts both ways. When rising rates reduce earnings, economic growth, and investor sentiment, the “risk-off” trade (bonds) is where money flows.

With exceptionally high market valuations, the market can remain correlated to rising rates for a while longer. However, at some point, rates will matter.

This time will not be different. Only the catalyst, magnitude, and duration will be.

Investors would do well to remember the words of the then-chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission Arthur Levitt in a 1998 speech entitled “The Numbers Game:”

“While the temptations are great, and the pressures strong, illusions in numbers are only that—ephemeral, and ultimately self-destructive.”

You can fight the Fed, but eventually, the Fed will win.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/14/2022 - 08:46
Published:1/14/2022 7:57:34 AM
[Markets] Economic Report: U.S. retail sales sink 1.9% as omicron, high prices and shortages trigger biggest drop in 10 months Sales at U.S. retailers such as Target and WalMart dropped 1.9% in the final month of 2021, as omicron spread like wildfire and shoppers confronted higher prices due to shortages and soaring inflation.
Published:1/14/2022 7:57:34 AM
[Markets] Sarah Bloom Raskin to be nominated to be Fed's top banking regulator: WSJ Sarah Bloom Raskin to be nominated to be Fed's top banking regulator: WSJ Published:1/13/2022 11:35:37 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Tesla, Growth Stocks Lead Market Sell-Off; JPMorgan Headlines Bank Earnings Tesla and other growth stocks hammered the Nasdaq and the broader market. JPMorgan headlines big bank earnings Friday. Published:1/13/2022 11:35:37 PM
[Markets] Antony Blinken And A Gun At Your Head Antony Blinken And A Gun At Your Head

Authored by Ted Snider via AntiWar.com,

When Joe Biden selected Antony Blinken to be his Secretary of State, Stephen Zunes, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, worried that the selection represented, not a correction, but a continuation of past interventionism and incompetence.

As evidence, Zunes cites Blinken’s integral and irresponsible role in clearing the way for the disastrous war in Iraq, his confident support of the disastrous invasion of Libya, his push for a larger and longer US war in Syria and his long support for arming Ukraine.

Recently, Melvin Goodman, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a former CIA analyst, mourned that the worries expressed by Zunes had been realized. And he added that "Antony Blinken, a life-long Democratic staffer, does not appear to be up to the task of conceptualizing and implementing foreign policy." Goodman explained, in a personal correspondence, that "As a staffer, Blinken merely went along with the agreed positions, including the misuse of force in Libya in 2011 and the extensions of force throughout the tragedy of Afghanistan."

As for his performance so far as Secretary of State, Goodman says, "He didn’t handle himself well in Alaska in the first meeting with the Chinese counterparts, and he doesn’t appear up to the task of dealing with a real pro like Russia’s [foreign minister] Lavrov. Apparently, he didn’t warn the White House about the obvious French reaction to AUKUS, which is surprising in view of Blinken’s knowledge of the French. His public appearances have certainly not provided clues to his ability to conceptualize the strategic challenges that we face."

In support of Goodman’s evaluation are a host of statements by Blinken that manifest either an underdeveloped sense of history or an overdeveloped sense of irony and hypocrisy: statements that would be comical if they were not dangerous.

In December 2021, Blinken warned Africa away from investment partnerships with China, accusing China of partnering with African nations on "international infrastructure deals [that] are opaque, coercive" and that "burden countries with unmanageable debt..."

Hypocrisy or comedy? The deliberate creation of debt has been a major feature of American foreign policy since at least 1955. The US provides major loans to a country, then drives up interest rates, forcing the debt shackled nation to turn to the IMF for loans that come with conditions featuring structural adjustments that open their economy up to American markets and ensure their loyalty whether the US demands access to resources, the hosting of military bases, political fealty or cooperative voting at the United Nations.

As for Africa, Naomi Klein cites an IMF senior economist who designed structural adjustment programs in Latin America and Africa and who later confessed that "everything we did from 1983 onward was based on our new sense of mission to have the south 'privatize' or die; towards this end we ignominiously created economic bedlam in Latin America and Africa..." So, be careful of China!

Blinken has also repeatedly accused Iran of not being serious at the reincarnation of the JCPOA nuclear talks: "What we’ve seen in the last couple of days is that Iran right now does not seem to be serious." Iran’s not being serious? That’s pretty funny, since Blinken readily admits that Iran wouldn’t even have to be at these talks if the US hadn’t illegally pulled out of the agreement. It’s even funnier to accuse Iran of not negotiating seriously when you represent the party that refuses to guarantee that it will honor the agreement and its commitments as binding even for the duration of the term of the president who will put his signature on it. It’s funnier still when the US has entered the talks with the admission that it "doesn’t see any evidence that Iran’s Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] has made a decision to move to weaponize."

Similarly, Blinken has threatened Russia with "massive consequences and severe costs" for an invasion of Ukraine when the CIA has shyly admitted that "U.S. intelligence agencies haven’t concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin will invade Ukraine."

But Blinken has recently come back out with an encore that may feature his best one liner yet. On the eve of the most important security talks between US and Russian officials, America’s top diplomat says that

"It’s very hard to make actual progress in any of these areas in an atmosphere of escalation and threat with a gun pointed to Ukraine’s head."

That is blinding hypocrisy from a man who said in an article he coauthored with Robert Kagan just two years ago that the only way to negotiate with Russia and China is with a gun to their heads. In that article, Blinken argued that "As geopolitical competition intensifies, we must supplement diplomacy with deterrence. Words alone will not dissuade the Vladimir Putins and Xi Jinpings of this world." If his point wasn’t blatant enough, Blinken adds, "force can be a necessary adjunct to effective diplomacy." That’s not ignorance of history: that’s bold hypocrisy.

It also can’t be ignorance of history that Blinken misses the point that Russia is demanding talks precisely because the US has a gun pointed to Russia’s head. US and NATO troops have marched to Russia’s very borders and surrounded Russia with guns by land, sea and air. As for Ukraine and who’s pointing a gun at whom, the US provided Ukraine with $400 million in security assistance in 2021 alone. That "security assistance" is to be topped off with a new $60 million package that includes lethal weapons.

Blinken’s blinding hypocrisy may be supplemented with a large dose of historical amnesia. The complaint that it is impossible to negotiate with a weapon pointing at you has been made before: against America, not by it.

Image source: ABC News/Daily Mail

Cuban negotiators frequently complained that it was impossible for them to negotiate while being strangled by the embargo. In Back Channel to Cuba, William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh quote one Cuban negotiator who complained that “We cannot negotiate under the blockade." Anticipating Blinken’s formulation, Castro would often remind the US that Cuba cannot be expected to negotiate with “a dagger at our throats.”

Decades later, Iranian negotiators would later make the same point in the same words. The Iranian ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht Ravanchi, would complain that "You cannot negotiate with somebody who has a knife in his hand putting the knife under your throat."

Like Cuba and Iran, it is NATO encroachment that has put a knife to Russia’s throat. It is the crossing of the final red line into Ukraine that has finally put a gun to Russia’s head. Hypocrisy or historical ignorance, Blinken’s performance would be comical if it weren’t so deadly serious.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/13/2022 - 23:40
Published:1/13/2022 11:35:37 PM
[Markets] : Who gave a 50-year-old federal agency the power to create a vaccine mandate? Behind the Supreme Court’s decision to block Biden’s employee mandate 'OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate,' the conservative members of the Supreme Court wrote in their decision, released Thursday.
Published:1/13/2022 11:35:37 PM
[Markets] Jan. 6 committee requests information from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Jan. 6 committee requests information from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Published:1/12/2022 6:35:57 PM
[Markets] : ‘This is a brilliant move’: Bank of America and Wells Fargo make big changes to overdraft fees — experts explain why Bank of America joins a growing list of banks ditching fees, and observers say more will come.
Published:1/12/2022 6:35:56 PM
[Markets] COVID's Ability-To-Infect Plunges 90% After 20 Minutes In The Air; New Study Shows COVID's Ability-To-Infect Plunges 90% After 20 Minutes In The Air; New Study Shows

One recent study found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID and its many variants, actually isn't as infectious as "the science" - and, more importantly, the government authorities like Dr. Anthony Fauci - would like the public to believe.

Offering yet another example of how lingering in enclosed spaces doesn't dramatically increase an individual's risk of contracting COVID, Coronavirus loses 90% of its ability to infect us within 20 minutes of becoming airborne - with most of the loss occurring within the first five minutes, the world’s first simulations of how the virus survives in exhaled air suggest.

Professor Jonathan Reid, director of the University of Bristol’s Aerosol Research Center and the lead author of this study, explained why lingering in poorly ventilated spaces isn't as risky as scientists would have us believe.

Most of this decline in viral infectiousness was gleaned from a study whose authors described it as the world’s first simulations of how the virus survives in exhaled air suggest.

Interestingly, this means that ventilation, once thought to be the most effective way to ignore the physical distancing and mask-wearing likely to be the most effective means of preventing infection. Ventilation, though still worthwhile, is likely to have a lesser impact.

"People have been focused on poorly ventilated spaces and thinking about airborne transmission over metres or across a room. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but I think still the greatest risk of exposure is when you’re close to someone," Dr. Reid said. "When you move further away, not only is the aerosol diluted down, there’s also less infectious virus because the virus has lost infectivity [as a result of time]."

This latest study completely contradicts previous research conducted by scientists in the US, which purported to show that particles containing the virus that causes COVID could still be found lingering in the air.

Here's more from the Guardian and Dr. Reid.

Until now, our assumptions about how long the virus survives in tiny airborne droplets have been based on studies that involved spraying virus into sealed vessels called Goldberg drums, which rotate to keep the droplets airborne. Using this method, US researchers found that infectious virus could still be detected after three hours. Yet such experiments do not accurately replicate what happens when we cough or breathe. Instead, researchers from the University of Bristol developed apparatus that allowed them to generate any number of tiny, virus-containing particles and gently levitate them between two electric rings for anywhere between five seconds to 20 minutes, while tightly controlling the temperature, humidity and UV light intensity of their surroundings. “This is the first time anyone has been able to actually simulate what happens to the aerosol during the exhalation process,” Reid said.

Here's an illustration courtesy of the Guardian purporting to show how the experiment worked.

Source: the Guardian

Another iconoclastic finding from the study: the temperature of the air made no difference to viral infectivity, contradicting the widely held belief that viral transmission is lower at higher temperatures. This would seem to contradict the seasonality of the virus, a pattern that has held for the last two winters.

The study hasn't yet been peer reviewed, but we imagine scientists will be quick to scrutinize its findings - particularly the findings that contradict the research conducted by other research.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/12/2022 - 19:20
Published:1/12/2022 6:35:56 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Market Rally Pauses But Tesla, AMAT Pop; Apple Chipmaker Near Buy Point With Earnings Due The market rally hit resistance Wednesday, but Tesla and AMAT made strong moves. Taiwan Semiconductor earnings are due early Thursday. Published:1/12/2022 6:35:56 PM
[Markets] 14 bank stocks that are best positioned to benefit from higher interest rates 14 bank stocks that are best positioned to benefit from higher interest rates Published:1/11/2022 1:40:23 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Wall Street bounces as Powell's testimony brings some relief U.S. stock indexes were gaining ground on Tuesday with Nasdaq leading the advance as investors appeared relieved that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's testimony to Congress did not include any major surprises. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, in a congressional hearing that pointed to his likely confirmation for a second term as head of the U.S. central bank, said the economy should weather the current COVID-19 surge with only "short-lived" impacts and was ready for the start of tighter monetary policy. Published:1/11/2022 1:40:22 PM
[Markets] Turley: Democracy, Autocracy... Or Hypocrisy? Biden Calls For Changing The Filibuster Rule Turley: Democracy, Autocracy... Or Hypocrisy? Biden Calls For Changing The Filibuster Rule

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

According to the Associated Press, President Joe Biden today will support changing the filibuster rule for voting rights legislation — a move widely viewed as effectively killing the rule. The report says that Biden will portray the choice starkly as one between democracy and autocracy. The AP, however, does not reference the third option of hypocrisy by failing to note that Biden vehemently opposed such moves for decades. He previously denounced killing the rule as “disastrous” for our democracy but now will declare the rule itself to be an existential threat to democracy. It is the latest example of President Biden’s embrace of “whatever it takes politics.

Biden will use a speech at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church to complete his abandonment of his long-held position. AP quotes his expected address to include the following statement:

“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation. Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is where will the institution of United States Senate stand?”

Biden showed equal passion as a senator to denounce those who would find excuses for abandoning the filibuster rule. He called such efforts “disastrous” and proclaimed: “God save us from that fate … [it] would change this fundamental understanding and unbroken practice of what the Senate is all about.”

After six months of uncomfortable silence as president, Biden later said that, as president, he continued to support the rule. Putting aside certain factual and historical errors, Biden declared that killing the rule would “throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done. Nothing at all will get done. There’s a lot at stake. The most important one is the right to vote, that’s the single most important one.”

It appears now that, even if “God [might still] save us from that fate,” the President will not.

His colleagues, including then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and now-Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), gave equally full-throated endorsements of the rule being denounced today as a thoroughly racist relic.  Schumer, who is now also pushing for the change, previously said to abandon the rule would be “doomsday for Democracy” and reduce the United States to a “banana Republic.”

While President Biden may have found his natural resting place in the conflict between politics and principle, the move against the filibuster rule will only aggravate our deep divisions.

The Democrats would force through a sweeping federalization of state election laws for the first time in our history. It would federally preempt the laws in dozens of states and declare that Congress, not state legislatures, will now dictate how people vote in states like Georgia. It is notable that Georgian politicians like Sen. Raphael Warnock will be standing next to Biden in Atlanta as the President calls for setting aside Georgia’s own laws. (Stacey Abrams who is running for governor will not attend the event). Previously, Biden was criticized for misrepresenting the provisions of the Georgia law.

What is most striking is the inherent conflict in this logic. President Biden is going to a state where representatives passed voting rules as part of their democratic process. He is effectively saying that they must protect democracy from itself and support Washington dictating the rules in Georgia.

While denouncing the “Big Lie” of those who questioned the last election, Democrats in the same breath are arguing that the next election might be illegitimate or might be stolen under current election laws. Democratic leaders have insisted that Trump began that Big Lie by seeding doubts months in advance of the 2020 election due to the laws in blue states. Now those leaders are seeding the same doubts about the laws in red states before the 2022 election. (Indeed, despite recent denials, some of these same leaders who denounced the Big Lie are the same people who previously called the Trump election “illegitimate” and some supported challenges to electoral votes in Congress).

It is also worth noting that federal laws already protect against rules that inhibit or curtail the votes of minority citizens. Other laws are subject to judicial review if they curtail the right to vote generally. Indeed, many of these laws are being challenged by Democrats in court. The federal legislation is needed because these laws have been upheld by the courts as constitutional and nondiscriminatory.

For some voters in these states, the federal takeover of their election laws is not likely to resonate as a victory of democracy. Election laws have largely been left to the states in our constitutional system. If those laws are constitutional, the view was that each state could follow its own approach to issues like voter identification rules. While the Congress can condition the receipt of federal funds on improving election administration (and reinforce constitutional protections for minority voters through laws like the Voting Rights Act), this is an unprecedented federalization of election laws to dictate how elections are administered.

In abandoning his long-held position, President Biden is choosing divisive politics over principle. This will further deepen the anger and divisions in our country. It will fuel claims that these laws are somehow illegitimate or laying the foundation for autocracy.

I previously wrote why the filibuster rule was designed for times like this:

Pushing through such controversial measures with bare majorities and on straight party lines will only deepen the divisions and increase the rage in this country. So this is precisely a time when the filibuster can play a positive role, by forcing legislation to pass with a modest level of bipartisan support. It requires consensus and compromise at a time of growing, violent division.

The filibuster has gone through historic controversies through the centuries, from opposing Caesar to opposing civil rights. But as a consensus-forcing rule, its time may have arrived, to the chagrin of many.

This move may also be soon regretted.

It is not likely to succeed but would put virtually all of the Democratic senators on record for calling for the demise of the rule. With the possible GOP takeover of both houses, the Democrats are sawing at the branch upon which their future may rest.

It was the Democrats who unwisely created the exception to the filibuster for judicial candidates in 2010. The Republicans later used that change as an excuse for an exception for Supreme Court nominees. Nevertheless, the GOP senators refused the demands of President Trump to abandon the rule for legislative matters when they were in the majority. Now, the Democrats would create an exception that could easily result in the total abandonment of the rule.

Since they are unlikely to succeed, it would be better to reaffirm support for the filibuster rule as a protection against losing the Senate in 2022.  However, short-term political interests seem to be prevailing. Biden is becoming unpopular with the left and he is now abandoning his prior principled stand for political convenience. It is a Faustian bargain that I expect that the Democrats could soon regret.

Tyler Durden Tue, 01/11/2022 - 14:30
Published:1/11/2022 1:40:22 PM
[Markets] The Margin: What’s behind the success of Wordle? Some say it’s the free daily word puzzle’s ‘anti-game’ approach Wordle, the web-based, no-frills daily word game, is already a sensation. Experts think they know why.
Published:1/11/2022 1:40:22 PM
[Markets] Stock futures keep sinking Monday as Goldman ups its Fed rate-hike forecast Stock futures keep sinking Monday as Goldman ups its Fed rate-hike forecast Published:1/10/2022 8:35:59 AM
[Markets] : A critical question hovers over SCOTUS decision on COVID-19 vaccine mandate: What if unvaccinated workers can’t find tests? An estimated 6.3 million unvaccinated workers would need to take weekly tests under the vaccine mandate for businesses, according to OSHA.
Published:1/10/2022 8:35:59 AM
[Markets] Key Events In The "Massive Week Ahead" Key Events In The "Massive Week Ahead"

After a relatively quiet start to the year on the economic event front, if not in markets where last week's FOMC Minutes sparked the worst bond rout since 2020 triggering the worst first week for the Nasdaq since the dot com bubble burst...

... we have a "simply a massive week ahead for markets" according to Nomura's Charlie McElligott, with Powell testimony and bunches of Fed speakers, along with US economic releases headlined by the market’s most important datapoint in the CPI release Wednesday, in addition to PPI, Retail Sales and Consumer Sentiment over the course of the week, plus two Duration-heavy auctions ($36B of 10Y and $22B 30Y, on top of tomorrow’s $52B 3Y) and finally, US corporate earnings season kickoff (highlighted by JPM, C and WFC this upcoming Friday)

Picking up the weekly preview baton, Rabobank writes that there will be little opportunity not to think about the Fed in the week ahead.  The Bloomberg market consensus for Wednesday’s US December CPI inflation release stands at an astounding 7% y/y.  This blows out of the water the 5.6% y/y cyclical high recorded in July 2008, and would be just a hair below the 7.1% y/y high of June 1982. The Fed goes into pre-FOMC blackout at the weekend and all this week’s Fedspeak will therefore be very closely watched as the committee are moving very rapidly at the moment towards an ever tightening bias in their commentary. Even the doves are coming over to the other side.

US December PPI inflation data due on Thursday will likely turn the inflation thermostat up another notch or two.   Later in the week, the University of Michigan inflation expectations survey will be watched closely and used to judge to what degree to Fed may have fallen behind the curve.  That said, US retail sales data are expected to soften in December on the back of supply shortages and possibly as a result of Omicron.  Several G10 central banks have suggested that the impact of this variant of Covid is unlikely to throw their respective economic recoveries off-course.  However, it remains a threat and, in the US, fears about the impact of the fiscal cliff are also in the background. In addition to a slew of data releases, the coming week will bring another new earnings season and a rich line up of Fed speakers. Among them will be Mester, George and Bullard; all hawks and all voting members of the FOMC this year.  The Senate confirmation hearings for Fed Chair Powell and Vice-Chair Brainard will enhance the focus on the Fed this week.  

Eurozone CPI inflation unexpectedly hit 5% y/y in December last week.  ECB Chief economist Lane issued fresh reassurances on Friday that this current level of prices is part of the pandemic inflation cycle and that inflation will come down this year.  Friday also saw the Bundesbank formally appointing Nagel as its new head.  According to Germany’s Finance Minister Lindner, Nagel will ensure “continuity”.  This suggests that it may not be long before Nagel issues a few hawkish remarks in an attempt to reconcile Germany’s historic fear of price pressures with the ECB’s continued dovish stance.  Eurozone economic data releases this week include November industrial production and trade.  Given the subsequent wave of Omicron both may be little outdated to provide much market fresh impetus.

Better news on Omicron continues to come from the UK.  As the number of new cases continues to slip, Education Minister Zahawi has suggested that the UK could set an example of how to move from a pandemic to an endemic by cutting the isolation period to five days to ease pressures in the workforce.  Given signs that the symptoms of Omicron may be less deadly than those of Delta, PM Johnson may have got away with his light touch restrictions for England over the holiday period.  That said, his appeasement of his backbenchers may not have gone far enough.  Yesterday, the PM was urged by MP Harper, Chair of the lockdown-sceptic Tory Recovery Group, to end all Covid related restrictions by the end of this month, or face a massive revolt within the party and the prospect of a leadership challenge later this year.

UK PM Johnson’s insistence that Brexit is ‘done’ has always been controversial.  UK officials continue to grapple to put together new free trade deals and the full impact of Brexit is unlikely to be known for a generation.  For Northern Ireland in particular Brexit appears to be far from ‘done’.  Following the shock resignation last month of former Brexit Secretary Frost, Foreign Secretary Truss has taken over the role of negotiator with Brussels.  Ahead of her first meeting with the EU’s Sefcovic, Truss has reignited the threat that the UK would be prepared to trigger Article 16 and find a unilateral solution for Northern Ireland if a negotiated compromise cannot be found.   Northern Ireland’s membership of the EU’s single market has made trade difficult between the region and the British mainland.  2022 is a key election year for Northern Ireland with polls showing unionist parties on course to lose their majority for the first time since the partition of the island.  By triggering Article 16, the UK could find itself on a path towards a trade war with the EU.  UK economic data releases this week include November monthly GDP and production figures.

US and Russian officials are set to meet today for talks aimed as de-escalating tensions around Ukraine.  Secretary of State Blinken commented over the weekend that he does not expect any breakthroughs this week but is hoping to find grounds for moving forward.
On Sunday evening Kazak officials retracted a statement alleging that more than 164 people had died during the recent wave of violence and instead confirmed ‘only’ 22 deaths.  Blinken criticised President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s shoot-to-kill order remarking that it  “is wrong and should be rescinded."  The violence was triggered by  the removal of a price cap that resulted in a surge in fuel prices.  However, the uprising comes against the backdrop of general discontent with how the country is governed.  As such global financial markets may be eying the developments in Kazakhstan as many other countries, notably also in the developing world, are currently grappling with rising energy and food prices, which have the potential to trigger unrest across the globe.

Elsewhere we start US earnings season, albeit slowly and late in the week with some important financials reporting: the highlights include Delta Air Lines on Thursday, before we hear from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and BlackRock on Friday.

Here is a quick look at key evens this week:

Monday January 10

  • Data: Euro Area November unemployment rate, Italy November unemployment rate

Tuesday January 11

  • Data: Japan preliminary November leading index, Italy November retail sales, US December NFIB small business optimism index
  • Central Banks: Nomination hearing for Fed Chair Powell’s second term at Senate Banking Committee, Fed’s Mester, George and Bullard speak

Wednesday January 12

  • Data: China December CPI, PPI, Euro Area November industrial production, US December CPI, monthly budget statement
  • Central Banks: Federal Reserve releases Beige Book, BoJ Governor Kuroda speaks

Thursday January 13

  • Data: Japan preliminary December machine tool orders, Italy November industrial production, US December PPI, weekly initial jobless claims, Japan December PPI (23:50 UK time)
  • Central Banks: Nomination hearing for Governor Brainard as Fed Vice Chair at Senate Banking Committee, Fed’s Barkin and Evans speak
  • Earnings: Delta Air Lines

Friday January 14

  • Data: China December trade balance, UK November GDP, US December retail sales, capacity utilisation, industrial production, preliminary January University of Michigan consumer sentiment index
  • Central Banks: Bank of Korea monetary policy decision, Fed’s Williams speaks
  • Earnings: Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, BlackRock

* * *

Finally, courtesy of Goldman, here is a look at just the US, where the key economic data releases this week are the CPI report on Wednesday and the retail sales report on Friday. There are several speaking engagements from Fed officials this week, including Chair Powell and Governor Brainard’s confirmation hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

Monday, January 10

  • 10:00 AM Wholesale inventories, November final (consensus +1.2%, last +1.2%)

Tuesday, January 11

  • 06:00 AM NFIB small business optimism, December (consensus 98.5, last 98.4)
  • 09:12 AM Cleveland Fed President Mester (FOMC voter) speaks: Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester will speak in an interview on Bloomberg Television. In her last public appearance, on December 1st, President Mester emphasized her view that “with the inflation data the way it is and with the job market as strong as it is”, the Fed should be in a position to “raise rates a couple of times next year.” Since President Mester’s remarks, labor market data has pointed to further tightening in the labor market, and inflation data has surprised to the upside.
  • 09:30 AM Kansas City Fed President George (FOMC voter) speaks: Kansas City Fed President Esther George will discuss her outlook for the economy and monetary policy. Audience Q&A is expected. President George has not made public remarks since November 5th, when she stressed that “the argument for patience in the face of these inflation pressures has diminished.”
  • 10:00 AM Fed Chair Powell’s confirmation hearing (FOMC voter): Fed Chair Jerome Powell will appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs for his confirmation hearing for his re-nomination to the role of Chair. Chair Powell’s re-appointment will preserve continuity at the Fed. As inflationary pressures continue and the labor market continues to tighten, we will be looking for indications of incremental changes to Chair Powell’s outlook in his testimony.
  • 04:00 PM St. Louis Fed President Bullard (FOMC voter) speaks: St. Louis Fed President James Bullard will discuss the economy and monetary policy in a virtual event with the Mid-Sized Bank Coalition of America. President Bullard made public remarks earlier this week, in which he argued that the FOMC “could begin increasing the policy rate as early as the March meeting in order to be in a better position to control inflation” and start balance sheet runoff “shortly after lifting off the policy rate.”

Wednesday, January 12

  • 08:30 AM CPI (mom), December (GS +0.53%, consensus +0.4%, last +0.8%); Core CPI (mom), December (GS +0.58%, consensus +0.5%, last +0.5%); CPI (yoy), December (GS +7.12%, consensus +7.0%, last +6.8%); Core CPI (yoy), December (GS +5.49%, consensus +5.4%, last +4.9%): We estimate a 0.58% increase in December core CPI (mom sa), which would boost the year-on-year rate by 0.6pp to 5.5%. Our forecast reflects a further rise in used car auction prices and related upward pressure on new car prices. We also assume upward pressure on other core goods categories due to supply chain bottlenecks and low promotionality during the holiday season. While Omicron likely weighed on travel prices late in the month, we expect a more visible impact in the January report. We estimate rent +0.43% and OER +0.40% in December, reflecting the strength in our shelter tracker but an OER drag from imputed utilities. Health insurance prices also likely rose again, reflecting the gradual flow-through of the annual source data. We estimate a 0.53% increase in headline CPI (mom sa), reflecting rising food costs but a pullback in energy prices.
  • 01:00 PM Minneapolis Fed President Kashkari (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari will speak on interest rates, labor force participation, and bringing the labor market back to pre-pandemic strength at a St. Paul Area Chamber townhall event. Audience Q&A is expected. Earlier this week, President Kashkari argued that “using core inflation to indicate when we have reached maximum employment may be simpler than the more judgmental estimations of short-run vs. long-run maximum employment,” and that, while he believed inflationary pressures would eventually subside, “the costs of ending up in the high-inflation regime are likely larger than the costs of ending up back in the low-inflation regime.”
  • 02:00 PM Beige Book: The Fed’s Beige Book is a summary of regional economic anecdotes from the 12 Federal Reserve districts. In this Beige Book, we look for anecdotes related to wage growth, price inflation, and supply chain disruptions. Earlier this week, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari noted that business contacts in his region continued to warn of labor shortages. Since President Kashkari’s comments, Friday’s employment report surprised to the upside on average hourly earnings and to the downside on payrolls.

Thursday, January 13

  • 08:30 AM PPI final demand, December (GS +0.4%, consensus +0.4%, last +0.8%); PPI ex-food and energy, December (GS +0.5%, consensus +0.5%, last +0.7%); PPI ex-food, energy, and trade, December (GS +0.5%, consensus +0.5%, last +0.7%): We estimate a 0.5% increase for PPI ex-food and energy and PPI ex-food, energy and trade services, which would bring the year-on-year rates to +9.4% and +7.0% respectively. Our forecast reflects a continued boost from supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, and commodity prices. We estimate that headline PPI increased by 0.4% in December, which would bring the year-on-year rate to +9.8%, reflecting firm core inflation but a sequential decline in energy prices. Continued increases in input costs, along with strong profit margins, are one reason why we expect price pressures to remain elevated through the first half of 2022.
  • 08:30 AM Initial jobless claims, week ended January 8 (GS 195k, consensus 200k, last 207k); Continuing jobless claims, week ended January 1 (consensus 1,760k, last 1,754k): We estimate initial jobless claims declined to 195k in the week ended January 8.
  • 10:00 AM Fed Governor Brainard’s confirmation hearing (FOMC voter): Fed Governor Lael Brainard will appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs for her confirmation hearing for her nomination to the role of Vice Chair. Governor Brainard, one of the more dovish members on the FOMC, has not given a public speech since October 13th, so in her confirmation hearing we will be looking for further insight into her current stance and expectations for policy normalization.
  • 12:00 PM Richmond Fed President Barkin (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin will discuss the economic outlook at an event hosted by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. In his last public appearance, on December 2nd, President Barkin said he expected “the readings for inflation over the next year … to be messy,” and that he supported normalizing monetary policy as the FOMC was doing.
  • 01:00 PM Chicago Fed President Evans (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will discuss the economy and monetary policy at an event hosted by the Milwaukee Business Journal. Audience and moderated Q&A are expected. President Evans noted on November 18th that he still thought “the relative price increases coming from supply shocks will be diminishing, and … that the inflation data by the end of 2022 is going to be a lot closer to 2% than so many people think.”
  • 06:00 PM Dallas Fed holds townhall on search for next President: The Dallas Fed will host a virtual townhall discussion on the ongoing search to choose its next President.

Friday, January 14

  • 08:30 AM Retail sales, December (GS -0.5%, consensus -0.1%, last +0.3%); Retail sales ex-auto, December (GS -0.3%, consensus +0.2%, last +0.3%); Retail sales ex-auto & gas, December (GS -0.3%, consensus -0.1%, last +0.2%); Core retail sales, December (GS -0.2%, consensus +0.1%, last -0.1%): We estimate a 0.2% decline in core retail sales (ex-autos, gasoline, and building materials) in December (mom sa). While brick and mortar shopping activity picked up in the final weeks of the holiday season, we estimate a sequential decline in the nonstore category (mom sa). Relatedly, the elevated level of retail sales implies a high hurdle for incremental growth during the holiday season. We estimate a 0.5% decline in headline retail sales, reflecting the decline in auto sales.
  • 08:30 AM Import price index, December (consensus +0.2%, last +0.7%): Export price index, December (consensus +0.3%, last +1.0%)
  • 09:15 AM Industrial production, December (GS -1.0%, consensus +0.2%, last +0.5%); Manufacturing production, December (GS +0.5%, consensus +0.4%, last +0.7%); Capacity utilization, December (GS 76.0%, consensus 77.0%, last 76.8%): We estimate industrial production declined by 1.0% in December, reflecting declines in utilities and oil and gas extraction. We estimate capacity utilization declined by 0.8pp to 76.0%. We estimate a modest seasonally-adjusted increase in motor vehicle production in December, but expect production to remain well below its pre-pandemic level, reflecting continued supply-chain disruptions that may be further exacerbated by the Omicron wave in coming months.
  • 10:00 AM University of Michigan consumer sentiment, January preliminary (GS 68.6, consensus 70.0, last 70.6): We expect the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index declined by 2.0pt to 68.6 in the preliminary January reading, reflecting declines in other confidence measures and increase spread of the Omicron variant.
  • 10:00 AM Business inventories, November (consensus +1.2%, last +1.2%)
  • 11:00 AM New York Fed President Williams (FOMC voter) speaks: New York Fed President John Williams will give a virtual speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. Text, and audience and moderated Q&A are expected. On December 17th, President Williams emphasized that inflation expectations were “a little higher in our projections now, especially for next year,” and noted that “raising interest rates would be a sign of a positive development in terms of where we are in the economic cycle.”

Source: Nomura, Rabobank, BofA, DB, Goldman

Tyler Durden Mon, 01/10/2022 - 09:24
Published:1/10/2022 8:35:58 AM
[Markets] Stock market news live updates: Stocks fall as technology shares renew declines Stocks declined on Monday, with technology stocks under renewed pressure as investors anticipated higher interest rates this year and looked ahead to several economic data and earnings reports later this week. Published:1/10/2022 8:35:58 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: ‘Employees have more leverage right now’: Millions of Americans are quitting their jobs. Should you stay or go? In recent months, the gap between what Americans could earn from switching jobs widened as labor shortages persisted.
Published:1/9/2022 3:35:14 AM
[Markets] Despotism Is The New Normal: Looming Threats To Freedom In 2022 Despotism Is The New Normal: Looming Threats To Freedom In 2022

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“Looking at the present, I see a more probable future: a new despotism creeping slowly across America. Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and, more important, the subversion of our constitution."

- Bertram Gross, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America

Despotism has become our new normal.

Digital tyranny, surveillance. Intolerance, cancel culture, censorship. Lockdowns, mandates, government overreach. Supply chain shortages, inflation. Police brutality, home invasions, martial law. The loss of bodily integrity, privacy, autonomy.

These acts of tyranny by an authoritarian government have long since ceased to alarm or unnerve us. We have become desensitized to government brutality, accustomed to government corruption, and unfazed by the government’s assaults on our freedoms.

This present trajectory is unsustainable. The center cannot hold.

The following danger points pose some of the greatest threats to our collective and individual freedoms now and in the year to come.

Censorship. The most controversial issues of our day—gay rights, abortion, race, religion, sexuality, political correctness, police brutality, et al.—have become battlegrounds for those who claim to believe in freedom of speech but only when it favors the views and positions they support. Thus, while on paper, we are technically free to speak, in reality, we are only as free to speak as the government and tech giants such as Facebook, Google or YouTube may allow. Yet it’s a slippery slope from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing truth. What we are witnessing is the modern-day equivalent of book burning which involves doing away with dangerous ideas—legitimate or not—and the people who espouse them. Unfortunately, censorship is just the beginning. Once you allow the government and its corporate partners to determine who is worthy enough to participate in society, anything goes.

The Emergency State. Now that the government has gotten a taste for flexing its police state powers by way of a bevy of lockdowns, mandates, restrictions, contact tracing programs, heightened surveillance, censorship, overcriminalization, etc., “we the people” may well find ourselves burdened with a Nanny State inclined to use its draconian pandemic powers to protect us from ourselves. Therein lies the danger of the government’s Machiavellian version of crisis management that justifies all manner of government tyranny in the so-called name of national security. This is the power grab hiding in plain sight.

Pre-crime. The government is about to rapidly expand its policing efforts to focus on pre-crime and thought crimes. Precrime, straight out of the realm of dystopian science fiction movies such as Minority Report, aims to prevent crimes before they happen by combining widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, precognitive technology, and neighborhood and family snitch programs to enable police to capture would-be criminals before they can do any damage. The intent, of course, is for the government to be all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful in its preemptive efforts to combat domestic extremism, a broad label that can be applied to anything or anyone the government perceives to be a threat to its power.

The Surveillance State. This all-seeing fourth branch of government, comprised of a domestic army of government snitches, spies and techno-warriors, watches everything we do, reads everything we write, listens to everything we say, and monitors everywhere we go. Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it is all being recorded, stored, and catalogued, and will be used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing. Even agencies not traditionally associated with the intelligence community are part of the government’s growing network of snitches and spies.

Genetic privacy. “Guilt by association” has taken on new connotations in the technological age. Yet the debate over genetic privacy—and when one’s DNA becomes a public commodity outside the protection of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on warrantless searches and seizures—is really only beginning. Get ready, folks, because the government—helped along by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget)—has embarked on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

Bodily integrity. It doesn’t matter what your trigger issue is—whether it’s vaccines, abortion, crime, religion, immigration, terrorism or some other overtly politicized touchstone used by politicians as a rallying cry for votes—we should all be concerned when governments and businesses (i.e., the Corporate State) join forces to compel individuals to sacrifice their right to bodily integrity on the altar of so-called safety and national security. This debate over bodily integrity covers broad territory, ranging from abortion and forced vaccines to biometric surveillance and basic healthcare. Forced vaccinations, forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, and forced inclusion in biometric databases are just a few ways in which Americans continue to be reminded that we have no control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials.

Gun control. After declaring more than a decade ago that citizens have a Second Amendment right to own a gun in one’s home for self-defense, the Supreme Court has now been tasked with deciding whether the Constitution also protects the right to carry a gun outside the home. Unfortunately, when it comes to gun rights in particular, and the rights of the citizenry overall, the U.S. government has adopted a “do what I say, not what I do” mindset. Nowhere is this double standard more evident than in the government’s attempts to arm itself to the teeth, all the while viewing as suspect anyone who dares to legally own a gun, let alone use one in self-defense. Indeed, while it still technically remains legal to own a firearm in America, possessing one can now get you pulled over, searched, arrested, subjected to all manner of surveillance, treated as a suspect without ever having committed a crime, shot at, and killed.

Show Your Papers Society. With every passing day, more and more private businesses and government agencies on both the state and federal level are requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination in order for individuals to work, travel, shop, attend school, and generally participate in the life of the country. By allowing government agents to establish a litmus test for individuals to be able to engage in commerce, movement and any other right that corresponds to life in a supposedly free society, it lays the groundwork for a “show me your papers” society in which you are required to identify yourself at any time to any government worker who demands it for any reason. Such tactics can quickly escalate into a power-grab that empowers government agents to force anyone and everyone to prove they are in compliance with every statute and regulation on the books.

Singularity. Welcome to the Matrix (i.e. the metaverse), where reality is virtual, freedom is only as free as one’s technological overlords allow, and artificial intelligence is slowly rendering humanity unnecessary, inferior and obsolete. Indeed, it’s no coincidence that Elon Musk has announced his intentions of implanting brain chips in humans sometime in 2022. The digital universe—the metaverse—is expected to be the next step in our evolutionary transformation from a human-driven society to a technological one. Remaining singularly human and retaining your individuality and dominion over yourself—mind, body and soul—in the face of corporate and government technologies that aim to invade, intrude, monitor, manipulate and control us may be one of the greatest challenges before us.

Despotism. Even in the face of militarism, fascism, technotyranny, surveillance, etc., the gravest threat facing us as a nation may well be despotism, exercised by a ruling class whose only allegiance is to power and money. The American kakistocracy (a government run by unprincipled career politicians and corporate thieves that panders to the worst vices in our nature and has little regard for the rights of the people) continues to suck the American people into a parallel universe in which the Constitution is meaningless, the government is all-powerful, and the citizenry are powerless to defend themselves against government agents who steal, spy, lie, plunder, kill, abuse and generally inflict mayhem and sow madness on everyone and everything in their sphere.

It is a grim outlook for a new year, but it is not completely hopeless.

If hope is to be found, it will be found with those of us who do their part, at their local levels, to right the wrongs and fix what is broken. I am referring to the builders, the thinkers, the helpers, the healers, the educators, the creators, the artists, the activists, the technicians, the food gatherers and distributors, and every other person who does their part to build up rather than destroy.

“We the people” are the hope for a better year.

Until we can own that truth, until we can forge our own path back to a world in which freedom means something again, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, we’re going to be stuck in this wormhole of populist anger, petty politics and destruction that is pitting us one against the other.

In such a scenario, no one wins.

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/08/2022 - 23:30
Published:1/9/2022 3:35:14 AM
[Markets] The Dow tried to hold its gains Friday but closed lower with other stock indexes The Dow tried to hold its gains Friday but closed lower with other stock indexes Published:1/8/2022 5:32:12 AM
[Markets] : The ‘best job in America’ pays up to $125,000 a year — and has 10,000 job openings This analysis is based on median salary, overall job satisfaction and the number of job openings.
Published:1/8/2022 5:32:12 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: 2022 Market Is Expectation Breaker As Tesla, Apple Skid; What To Do Now The 2022 market has been an expectation breaker so far, with the Nasdaq and Tesla selling off hard. Here's what to do now. Published:1/8/2022 5:32:12 AM
[Markets] Is There A Way To Prevent Psychopaths From Getting Into Positions Of Power? Is There A Way To Prevent Psychopaths From Getting Into Positions Of Power?

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us,

Despite a growing resurgence of interest in the science and psychology of narcissistic sociopaths and psychopaths it seems as though society today has lost track of how these people can sabotage the core fabric of a civilization or nation. It is very easy to hyper-focus on collectivist ideologies as the source of our problems and forget that these ideologies do not function in a vacuum; they cannot wreak havoc by themselves, they need psychopathic people directing them to do real damage.

There is something about collectivism that lends itself to projection and hypocrisy (collectivism is organization by FORCE instead of being voluntary). I suppose when your political ideology becomes your religion it’s easy to turn into a zealot. And while zealots find power in their single-mindedness and their cultism they also tend to lack any self-awareness. They literally go insane with devotion to their cause to the point that they lose track of whether or not their cause is fair and just. Their behavior becomes increasingly erratic and disjointed and every person they run into that does not share their views is immediately seen as a heretical enemy that needs to be exposed or destroyed.

To outsiders looking in, zealots are an endless source of comedy. You can’t help but laugh because their ticks and cricks and outbursts are nonsensical and absurd (just check out “Libs Of Tik Tok” for a mountain of examples). As long as they don’t have any real power these people act as a reminder of what happens when human beings abandon reason for madness. They can be frightening but they serve the purposes of entertainment as well as keeping the rest of us grounded. When they do gain power, however, that’s when things stop being funny.

Civilizations throughout history have consistently dealt with the problem of zealots, but the greater threat is the existence of narcissists and psychopaths sneaking into positions of authority and encouraging zealotry among the masses. Generally, psychopaths are seen as an anomaly which is quickly identified and shunned in order to prevent them from climbing too high up the ladder of social influence. The problem is they are not as rare as one might hope and many of them have the ability to hide among the herd.

Around 1% of any given population is made up of psychopaths while another 1% are sociopaths. Around 5% of people are identified as having narcissistic traits. Narcissists are self absorbed and view themselves as superior to everyone else – They believe they are entitled to adoration and authority. Sociopaths have an inability to feel empathy for others and this makes them impractical as leaders. Psychopaths also exhibit a lack of empathy but also have a propensity for emotional or physical violence. They take joy in the suffering of others and perpetrate a large number of violent crimes.

Even though psychopaths are 1% of the population, they make up 15% to 25% of those incarcerated in prisons. The drag they exert on society cannot be overstated.

There is definitely some overlap among the various types, but in general close to 10% of human beings exhibit dangerous and mostly inherent psychological malfunctions that are often not treatable. Think about that for a moment – 10 out of every 100 people are ticking time bombs waiting to make life miserable for the rest of us.

To be sure, some of them are still able to function in society. Sociopaths in particular can become valuable in fields where less empathy is required in order to accomplish certain tasks. They are particularly well suited as surgeons, EMTs, soldiers, firefighters, and any other job where seeing people in pain is not going to stop them from saving lives. They don’t necessarily take joy in seeing others harmed, but they aren’t emotionally phased by it either. As long as they are never allowed into positions of influence over large groups of people they can serve some good for the public.

History shows us that vetting and preventing psychologically broken individuals from slipping into institutions that offer power is not so easy. In fact, many monarchies and empires were built on systems that allowed psychopaths and narcissists to flourish because they relied on genetic succession. If a monarch had a son that was predisposed to psychopathy it did not matter, that crazed prince would one day become a king and there was little that could be done about it. There was no vetting process. Also, many such traits are passed on genetically, which means a power structure built on heredity could become progressively more destructive as psychopaths in royalty intermarry. This would help explain why psychopathic behavior is over-represented among monarchs of the past.

The creation of democracy and democratic republics was in part designed to help weed out aberrant individuals by using open elections and the voting process. In other words, let the people scrutinize candidates and remove the crazies from circles of power. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work too well if ALL the candidates are psychopaths and the public has no real choice. By extension, psychopaths have also found ways to circumvent the political process and control it without directly participating in it.

The corporate world and financial institutions allow psychopaths to influence politics from behind the curtain, buying off candidates and their loyalty or vetting candidates and ONLY allowing those with similar sociopathic, narcissistic and psychopathic habits through the selection process and into the political arena.

In tribal societies and in smaller low-tech societies the ability to identify and root out psychologically broken individuals and prevent them from becoming leaders was easier. In the midst of vast empires and technocracy it is much simpler for psychopaths to hide among normal people and blend in. I usually compare invasive psychopaths to mythological stories of vampires for this reason. I really can’t think of a better analogy. They insinuate themselves into a population, take up positions of influence which protect them from suspicion and then systematically bleed the town dry. This is what they do. It is in their nature and they cannot be fixed, they can only be removed as a parasite is removed from a host.

These people are the top threats to any given civilization. They are moderators of chaos and they actively conspire to supplant free society. They are what I would call primary organized psychopaths and they do indeed work together for mutual gain, much like a pack of wolves. They represent the 1% of the 1% (i.e. the globalists).

Psychopaths at the top of the pyramid have been organized for a long time, but what about the millions of other people out there with such traits? What happens when they are given a way to congregate?

Modern society and Big Tech social media have created even worse circumstances because now the greater psychopathic community is no longer isolated. That 1% that used to be mostly relegated to quiet corners and the fringes of humanity are now able to organize into aggressive mobs of hundreds of thousands, leading millions of lesser sociopaths and narcissists. This is creating a subculture of what I would call communal insanity – As the old saying goes, the patients are taking over the asylum.

We see this specifically with the political left and the open promotion of narcissism as an acceptable way of life.  This is not to say that psychopaths don’t try to infiltrate conservative circles as well, only that leftists are much more welcoming to their kind. These are people that once felt powerless because they were shunned and now they want revenge.

The thing is, they were originally shunned from influence for a very good reason; they are not psychologically equipped to handle any measure of power. Now they are being handed institutional control and they are being whipped into a frothing frenzy. They see themselves as the underdogs and the “revolutionaries”, but really they are just emotionally stunted and handicapped and they were put in permanent time-out to protect the rest of humanity.

But how is this danger dealt with, not just in the short term but the longer term?

Our culture has to be fundamentally changed with psychopathy and other aberrant traits in mind. We can no longer ignore the effect these people have on humanity as a whole. The first step would require separation from movements and institutions that promote psychopathic and narcissistic behaviors. In other words, we need to return to a model of isolation for the psychopathically inclined instead of treating them as if they are some kind of victim status group that needs special attention and “nurturing.”

As noted, in many cases these characteristics are inherent (inborn) and cannot be treated. There is no fixing the problem because it is not so much an illness as it is a completely different psychological structure. They might as well be a different species, and a predatory one at that. There is no mutual coexistence with them. They see us as food.

Candidates for positions of authority would have to be screened for psychopathy, narcissism and sociopathy. If they have too many of the warning signs then they should not be allowed to pursue those jobs. This is the only answer beyond fundamentally changing the way our election system functions, which I’m not necessarily opposed to either. A random lottery system for government jobs along with strict term limits (not just for normal political positions but also in bureaucratic positions) would at least be better than what we have now. I would rather risk the possibility of less qualified people being randomly chosen for government than have a system that attracts a concentrated culture of malicious parasites.

What better way to discourage psychopaths than to take away any long term benefits of working in government? What better way to disrupt the influence of corporate elitists than to take away their ability to finance or choose the candidates that end up in office? And even if they were able to buy off some officials, with term limits they would have to start over and over again with the latest crop of new officials.

Some will of course point out that changing the system tomorrow will require getting rid of the psychopaths that run it today. I agree, it’s a dilemma. Sadly, once psychopaths become organized and entrenched history tells us they will not be moved without the force of violence. They don’t care about protests, they are not moved by reason or logic, they don’t care about the suffering of the masses and they will always see themselves as the rightful rulers of us “lesser” peasants.

They derive supremacy from the mobs of the stunted that they lead and exploit; the nearly 10% of the population that when organized becomes an army of raging mad hatters hungry for scraps from the table of power. We can and should continue to separate from the collectivist mob and the zealots, but all psychopaths view separation as defiance and will try to interfere. Eventually there’s going to be a fight, and maybe that’s for the best.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sat, 01/08/2022 - 00:00
Published:1/8/2022 5:32:12 AM
[Markets] Dow finishes down 170 points as tech rout pressures Nasdaq Dow finishes down 170 points as tech rout pressures Nasdaq Published:1/7/2022 12:35:55 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Market Rally Fizzles; GME Stock, Trump Stock DWAC Spike On News A tepid market rally fizzled Thursday as bond yields kept rising. Meme stocks rallied, led by Trump stock DWAC. Published:1/7/2022 12:35:54 AM
[Markets] Expect A "Blue Wave Of Gun Control" In 2022 Expect A "Blue Wave Of Gun Control" In 2022

Submitted by The Machine Gun Nest (TMGN).,

Governing By Executive Fiat. 

It's something that the Biden Administration knows quite well. Not even a week into the new year, Merrick Garland, Attorney General at the Department of Justice, announced a new "rule" for Federal Firearms Licensees, also known as FFLs. 

The "Rule" is as follows: FFLs must have "safe storage" options for sale. The government is mandating that FFLs sell locks and safes. It also changes the definition of an antique firearm; you can read the change here

While this might sound wholly bland and harmless, keep in mind that the DOJ can use the 1968 Gun Control Act to add new rules and regulations to gun ownership without passing any laws. This change means that unelected bureaucrats in executive branch positions can usurp federal power to make "law" as they see fit. 

It is precisely this attitude that we've seen throughout 2021 from the Biden Administration, the Department of Justice, and the ATF. There's no reason to expect that they would shift their plans for 2022. 

Just because gun owners were able to make their voices heard and stop the disastrous nomination of David Chipman to head the ATF doesn't mean that it's all over. 2021 has been full of significant accomplishments; we've added more constitutional carry states and 2nd amendment sanctuaries. Support for gun control has hit its lowest point, and almost 8 million new gun owners have decided to exercise their constitutional rights. That being said, we're headed into year number two of one of the most hostile administrations to gun rights in recent history. 

We can make a few predictions about what the Biden admin may do (and to a lesser extent blue state governors as well) but let's take a look at some recent actions first. 

In 2020, the ATF raided a company called Diversified Machine. Diversified Machine sells Solvent Traps. The ATF now considers these devices to be Suppressors. Since they raided Diversified Machine, the ATF has a list of all of Diversified Machine's customers. 

A few days ago, the ATF sent customers of Diversified Machine letters saying that they were actually in possession of a suppressor and that those needed to be turned in immediately or those customers would face felony charges. 

What separated Diversified Machine's solvent traps from any other solvent trap on the market? Well, their solvent traps were dimpled on the end caps. 

Prior to these letters, the ATF offered no guidance on what they did/did not consider to be a suppressor, or solvent trap, dimpled end caps or not. Solvent traps are popular with Form 1 Suppressor groups online, as they can be purchased, an ATF Form 1 can be filed, and then said solvent trap can be converted into a suppressor. 

This behavior is par for the course with the ATF and should come as no surprise for long-time gun owners. In 2021 we saw them change rules on 80% kits, pistol braces, and the Rare Breed Forced-Reset-Trigger. 

What's interesting about this letter to Diversified Machine customers, though, is that the ATF states explicitly that the customer is in possession of a suppressor. Even though the words "readily convertible" are used in conjunction, we can only infer that the ATF is considering these solvent traps as sold to be actual suppressors, making the purchase of a solvent trap a violation of the 1968 GCA and the National Firearms Act, or NFA. 

We should expect a forthcoming "rule" on solvent traps that will turn millions of Americans into felons overnight. What's worse is the ATF hasn't stopped at solvent traps; they've started investigating people who have bought fuel filters online. According to Ammoland, Federal Agents visited an unnamed Florida resident who had purchased fuel filters online. The Agents demanded that he hand over the filters, even though he did not own firearms. Another example of wackiness, a YouTuber named "Truck Master" was told to turn over the diesel truck filters he was using for his truck builds under suspicion that they were illegal suppressors.

The question we have to ask is, how far is too far? The ATF has decided on a whim that fuel filters and solvent traps fit their definition of a suppressor, even though both items have legitimate uses beyond being firearm suppressors. 

In 2022, we should expect the ATF and DOJ to march forward with the idea that anything that is "readily convertible" to be a firearm, is in fact, a firearm in the eyes of the Feds. It's looking grim for 80% kits like Polymer80. How long until it's an NFA/GCA violation if you have a block of metal and CNC knowledge. There's not much separating those two things. 

We should also expect a "Blue Wave" of gun control legislation and proposals on the state and federal level, with politicians and governors doubling down on unpopular gun policy. Considering how low Biden is currently polling and the 2022 midterms fastly approaching, gun control is an easy issue for the President to pull out and energize his base. Doubling down on gun control will also keep his major donors like Bloomberg and Soros from the anti-gun lobby happy. Blue state governors will, of course, follow suit. We saw Gavin Newsom of CA recently propose gun control as a way to spit in the face of gun owners and one-up the Texas abortion law at the same time. 

Expect the Biden Admin to try and move forward with already proposed rules regarding pistol braces as well. Currently, the DOJ has asked for delays on the final rule's implementation as they try to figure out a way to get around all the impending lawsuits from the pro-gun lobby. 

I also expect Biden to nominate a Gun Czar, as an appeasement to the Gun Control lobby, after being such a disappointment that the mainstream media have run headlines like this.

So, what can we do to stop this? Right now, because of the way that the ATF is using current law to add additional regulations, our best bet of stopping the ATF from continuing to be able to act in this manner is the bump stock case currently making its way to the supreme court. The case is Aposhian v. Garland, and it tackles why the ATF has been able to, on a whim, decide that items are illegal. That being a legal doctrine called the "Chevron Deference." This is a legal test in which a court may not substitute its own interpretation for a reasonable interpretation made by an administrative agency. 

The question isn't if Aposhian v. Garland makes it to the supreme court; it's when. A panel of 16 judges on the 6th circuit just had a tie vote (8-8) on the case, making it even more necessary for the Supreme Court to weigh in on this hotly debated issue. 

We've seen a clear pathway that the anti-gun lobby is taking in our coverage of gun control issues. Using the NFA, 1968 GCA, FOPA, and other gun control laws on the books, they've managed to ban bump stocks and inch closer and closer to regulating semi-automatic firearms under the NFA or outright ban them. This Case, Aposhian v. Garland, would put a significant roadblock in front of the ATF by taking away their ability to regulate items without congressional approval.

With hotly contested midterms and Presidential approval ratings plummeting, The Biden Administration will be looking for any scapegoat to rally their base back to vote. Gun control will likely be that issue, and gun owners should be ready to get out and once again make their voices heard.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/06/2022 - 23:40
Published:1/7/2022 12:35:54 AM
[Markets] The Big Move: I’m 26, make $300K a year and have saved over $275K. Should I buy an apartment — or just keep renting? 'What part of the home buying process should I be focusing on to make sure that I buy something I will be happy with for more than a couple of years?'
Published:1/7/2022 12:35:54 AM
[Markets] CDC advisory panel endorses Pfizer COVID boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds CDC advisory panel endorses Pfizer COVID boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds Published:1/5/2022 7:36:11 PM
[Markets] The Margin: NASCAR rejects driver’s sponsorship deal with ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ cryptocurrency NASCAR has rejected a sponsorship deal between driver Brandon Brown and the cryptocurrency LGBCoin, according to multiple news reports.
Published:1/5/2022 7:36:10 PM
[Markets] Sony Is Joining The EV Race Sony Is Joining The EV Race

Move over, Tesla, Apple, and other "not just a car company" entrants into the EV market: Sony is joining the race. 

At CES 2022, Sony announced it would set up subsidiary called Sony Mobility Inc. to focus on electric vehicles, Nikkei reported overnight. They also unveiled a new SUV prototype vehicle, about two years after announcing its first plans for EVs and its first sedan prototype.

The SUV prototype is called the Vision-S 02.

Sony Chairman Kenichiro Yoshida commented: "The excitement we received after we showed off the Vision-S really encouraged us to further consider how we can bring creativity and technology to change the experience of moving from one place to another."

"I'm excited to announce we are establishing a new company for mobility, Sony Mobility Inc., to accelerate these efforts, and we are exploring a commercial launch of Sony's EVs," he continued. 

The company's Vision-S 01 sedan sports two 200 kW electric motors and Level 2 autonomy, according to the report. It began testing on public roads in 2021 and its EV platform was manufactured by Magna Steyr with parts from Bosch. 

EV is still a vision that the company is considered pursuing, according to follow up reporting from The Verge, who made it sound as though follow-through still isn't a guarantee. 

“We are exploring a commercial launch of Sony’s EV,” Yoshida said, to find out how a “creative entertainment company” can “redefine mobility.”

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/05/2022 - 20:20
Published:1/5/2022 7:36:10 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Hawkish Fed Stuns Wall Street; Tesla, Microsoft, Google Break Key Levels The stock market rally sold off after a hawkish Fed signaled faster tightening. Tesla and Microsoft are showing strain. Published:1/5/2022 7:36:10 PM
[Markets] Toyota stock has jumped into record territory after the car maker's sales report Toyota stock has jumped into record territory after the car maker's sales report Published:1/4/2022 2:33:55 PM
[Markets] Futures Movers: Brent oil settles at $80 as OPEC+ sticks with its output plan despite omicron risk to demand Oil futures rise Tuesday, with global benchmark Brent crude at $80 a barrel to settle at its highest price in almost six weeks, after OPEC+ says it will stick to its plan to gradually boost output next month.
Published:1/4/2022 2:33:54 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Rises, Nasdaq Pulls Back; Financial Stocks Break Out On Rapidly Rising Yields The Dow Jones Industrial Average moved higher in today's stock market, continuing Tuesday's rise. But the Nasdaq fell hard. Published:1/4/2022 2:33:54 PM
[Markets] 2021 Auto Sales Are In: Ford Shares Surge On F-150 Demand, Toyota Overtakes GM In U.S. 2021 Auto Sales Are In: Ford Shares Surge On F-150 Demand, Toyota Overtakes GM In U.S.

Auto sales data for 2021 is finally in the books and the year was marked by some major changes in the industry's landscape while automakers struggled do deal with the Covid recovery and an ongoing semiconductor shortage. 

Of note on Tuesday are shares of Ford, which are up about 11% after the automaker announced its intentions to double capacity for its Electric F-150. 

For the first time, Toyota overtook General Motors as the U.S.'s top selling car company, the WSJ reported on Tuesday morning. Toyota outsold GM by roughly 114,000 vehicles, the report says, selling 2.3 million vehicles - a figure up 10% from 2020, which was mired by the effects of Covid. 

Despite the great years, Toyota's sales fell 30% in the fourth quarter. Honda wasn't far behind, with sales rising 9% for the year but down 21.5% for the fourth quarter. 

Toyota told Reuters it is "grateful" for its loyal customers, but "being No. 1 is never a focus or priority."

GM spokesman Jim Cain also had a tongue-in-cheek response to the news, stating: "I wouldn't rush out if I were (Toyota), and get a 'We're No. 1' tattoo."

GM's numbers were less attractive, with the company's sales plunging 13% to 2.2 million vehicles sold in 2021. The automaker's sales were down an astonishing 43% in the fourth quarter due to chip shortages, Bloomberg reported. GM is forecasting 16 million vehicles sold for the upcoming year. 

Tesla, as we reported days ago, sold more than 900,000 vehicles globally for the year. 

Hyundai also had an impressive year, selling 738,081 vehicles in the year, marking a 19% rise in sales from the year prior. Overall, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Hyundai all grew sales versus U.S. automakers, likely as a result of better access to semiconductor chips. 

In sum, almost 15 million vehicles were sold in the U.S. last year.

Thomas King, president of data and analytics at J.D. Power said about the coming year that prices would stay elevated: “Pent-up consumer demand will keep inventory levels near historical lows.”

Developing...

Tyler Durden Tue, 01/04/2022 - 15:20
Published:1/4/2022 2:33:54 PM
[Markets] Stock market news live updates: Stocks rise to kick off new year of trading U.S. stocks looked to open near record highs on Monday, as investors built on momentum from last week into at least the first session of the new year. Published:1/3/2022 9:32:12 AM
[Markets] Construction spending posted a solid gain in November, led by residential Construction spending posted a solid gain in November, led by residential Published:1/3/2022 9:32:11 AM
[Markets] Europe Markets: Europe stocks attempt a fresh record high as 2022 trading gets underway Struggling to reach a new high towards the end of 2021, markets were getting it done on Monday, helped by Wall Street's positive momentum.
Published:1/3/2022 9:32:11 AM
[Markets] Inflation In Turkey Explodes To 36.1%, Blowing Away Estimates, As Hyperinflation Sets In Inflation In Turkey Explodes To 36.1%, Blowing Away Estimates, As Hyperinflation Sets In

Think 6.8% CPI is high? Think again: this morning long-suffering Turks living in Erdogan's macroeconomic experiment woke up to learn that the country's annual inflation rate surged to 36.1% last month, its highest in the 19 years Tayyip Erdogan has ruled, blowing away expectations of "only" 27.4%, and laying bare the depths of a currency crisis engineered by the president's unorthodox interest rate-cutting policies. Staples such as transportation and food - which took increasing shares of households' budgets during 2021 - rose even faster

In December alone, consumer prices soared by a hyperinflation-like double-digits, rising 13.58%, the Turkish Statistical Institute said on Monday, eating deeper into the earnings and savings of Turks ravaged by Erdogan's demented economic turmoil.

The surge in prices reflected a more front-loaded exchange rate pass-through than usual triggered by the size of the exchange rate depreciation. However, as Goldman Sachs notes, inflation in categories like services that are typically not as sensitive to the exchange rate rose sharply as well – reflecting the lack of anchoring of inflation expectations.

Core inflation also surprised to the upside rising to 31.9% yoy in December from 17.6% yoy in November (consensus 24.3% yoy). Given the upside surprise with mom inflation of 13.6% not seasonally adjusted, Goldman thinks that inflation will rise above 40% in Q1-22 and remain there for most of the year.

The explosion in prices is tied to the record drop in Turkey's lira which lost 44% of its value last year as the central bank slashed interest rates under a drive by Erdogan to prioritize credit and exports over currency and price stability. On Monday it whipsawed down 5% then up 3%, before trading flat at 13.2 vs the dollar.

Some economists are predicting that inflation will reach as high as 50% by spring unless the direction of monetary policy is reversed, which as Erdogan has made very clear, it won't be, and after the central bank is done blowing tens of billions of dollars it doesn't have to keep the lira from cratering, we expect total currency and economic collapse.

"Rates should be immediately and aggressively hiked because this is urgent," said Ozlem Derici Sengul, founding partner at Spinn Consulting in Istanbul. Ozmel will probably be arrested in the next 24-48 hours for pointing out the obvious.

The central bank was however unlikely to act, she added, and annual inflation "will probably reach 40-50% by March", by when administered price rises would have been added into the mix, including a 50% minimum wage hike.

While last year was the worst for the lira in nearly two decades, while the annual CPI was the highest since the 37.0% reading of September of 2002, two months before Erdogan's AK Party first took office.

But Erdogan's focus on Monday was on trade data which showed exports surged by a third to $225 billion last year.

"We have only one concern: exports, exports and exports," he said in a speech, adding the trade data showed a sixth-fold rise in exports during his tenure as leader. What Erdogan didn't focus on is that while exports for all of 2021 rose, in December the country's trade deficit exploded by 46%, widening to $6.64BN, as imports rose 29% to $28.9BN, far more than exports which rose just 25% to $22.3BN.

In other words, even Erdogan's focus on exporting his way out of the current crisis is starting to fail.

Erdogan, a self-declared enemy of interest rates, overhauled the central bank's leadership last year, by which we mean he fired any central bank direct who disagreed with him.

The bank has slashed the policy rate to 14% from 19% since September, leaving Turkey with deeply negative real yields that have spooked savers and investors. The subsequent accelerating surge in prices and drop in the lira have also upended household and company budgets, scuttled travel plans and left many Turks scrambling to cut costs. Many queued last month for subsidized bread in Istanbul, where the municipality says the cost of living is up 50% in a year.

"We don't sit with our friends in a cafe and drink coffee any more," Mehmet, 26, a university graduate, said as he did his job as a pollster in Istanbul.

"We don't go out, just from home to work and back again," he said, adding he was buying smaller meal portions and believed inflation was higher than official data showed. In other words, just like in the US.

And just like in the US, the Turkish central bank has idiotically argued that "temporary" factors had been driving prices and forecast a volatile course for inflation, which - having been around 20% in recent months and mostly double-digits over the last five years - it said in October would end the year at 18.4%. Oops.

Sengul said that, with Monday's data, that argument was over: "This reflects a vicious cycle of demand-pull inflation, which is very dangerous because the central bank had implied the price pressure was from cost-push (supply constraints), and that it couldn't do anything about it," she said.

Reflecting soaring import prices, December's producer price index rose 19.08% month-on-month and 79.89% year on year. Annual transportation prices soared 53.66% while the food and drinks basket jumped 43.8%, the CPI data showed.

The economic turmoil has also hit Erdogan's opinion polls ahead of a tough election scheduled for no later than mid-2023. read more

The lira touched a record low of 18.4 against the dollar in December before rebounding sharply two weeks ago after state-backed market interventions, and after Erdogan announced a scheme to protect lira deposits against currency volatility.

What does all of this mean for the worst performing currency of 2021? Well, at first, the Turkish lira weakened sharply as the market did the only logical thing it can do when hyperinflation sets in - it sold the currency, and in early trading, the lira depreciated as much as 4.5% per U.S. dollar on its first trading day in the new year, extending its losing streak to a sixth day, having given up more than 30% of the gains made after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled a plan on Dec. 20 to bolster the lira by shielding savings held in local currency.

However, shortly after the central bank stepped in with yet another ridiculous intervention that cost it about $1 billion (at this rate the central bank will be out of all intervention funding in a few weeks), and the lira reversed losses of as much as 4.5% to gains as much as 3.6%.

Unfortunately for Erdogan, such day-to-day attempts to crush the shorts will only work for a few days, and as Goldman wrote today, the bank continues to believe that the current interest rate policy with rates of 14% supported by administrative and quasi fiscal measures will not succeed in stabilizing the TRY sustainably. And while Goldman's forecast is for rates to rise sharply in Q2-22 the bank's Turkish strategist admitted that his "confidence is not high in this call" given that the authorities continue to prefer non-standard policy choices to attempt to stabilize the TRY. As a result, the most likely outcome is that the currency will soon retest - and breach - its all time lows as the Turkish economy sinks into the hyperinflationary mire.

Tyler Durden Mon, 01/03/2022 - 10:29
Published:1/3/2022 9:32:11 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: 2022 Market Rally? Bring It On; Tesla Near Buy Point With Xpeng, Nio EV Deliveries Strong Xpeng and Nio reported strong EV deliveries with Tesla looming. Here's how to start off right in the 2022 market rally. Published:1/2/2022 4:34:16 AM
[Markets] CCP Extending "3 Warfares" Strategy Into Space: Expert CCP Extending "3 Warfares" Strategy Into Space: Expert

Authored by Andrew Thornebrooke via The Epoch Times,

A Chinese robot trundles about in the dust. It collects rock samples, measures chemical compounds, and observes craters never before seen by humankind. It’s beyond the reach of U.S. sensors. It’s beyond the rule of international laws and norms. It’s on a mission.

It’s on the dark side of the moon.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been operating Yutu-2 on the far side of Luna since 2019. Ostensibly part of the CCP’s lunar exploration program, rovers such as Yutu-2 are preparing the way for the construction of a new robotic research base on the moon. That base, in turn, will prepare the way for a crewed moon landing and a new lunar base managed jointly by China and Russia.

The exploration phase of this process, of which Yutu-2 is a part, is planned to extend through 2025 with six more missions conducted by China and Russia. Following that, construction on the base is expected to last until at least 2035, with full operational capacity being achieved by 2036.

The ambition piques the interest of scientists, ever hungry for new knowledge about Earth’s only moon. The secrecy shrouding the project, however, unnerves strategists who don’t see this little rover as merely one small step for mankind, but as one giant leap for Chinese military capabilities.

Indeed, some experts believe that Yutu-2’s lunar rock collection isn’t only a continuation of Sino–U.S. competition, but might actually provide the keys to victory in a future war.

Space Is a Warfighting Domain

Michael Listner is an attorney of a very peculiar sort. He specializes in space policy and has, for some years, led the publication of “The Précis,” a legal newsletter that examines the basis of space law and its ramifications for international policy in every field from business to national security.

He says the CCP is extending its “Three Warfares” strategy into space. This vast new frontier will be central to the regime’s campaigns of media aggrandizement, the subject of psychological warfare, and, vitally, the centerpiece of new legal battles that will reshape the international order as China seeks to claim the United States’ global hegemon status for its own.

The strategy, he said, is designed to undermine and perhaps defeat the enemy without firing a shot.

“Space is a warfighting domain,” Listner said. “It’s going to be part of the struggle and it’s going to be part of a future conflict.”

“They are fighting on all these fronts right now,” Listner added of the CCP’s three warfares strategy in space. “In fact, I really look at it as preparing the battlefield.”

That effort to shape the battlefield, central to any military, is particularly meaningful to Chinese military strategists who, since at least the fifth century B.C., have studied the writings of the eminent philosopher of war Sun Tzu, who argued that preparing the battlefield was the means of mastering the enemy.

As such, it’s feared that the Chinese regime will effectively ensure that should conflict break out, it has the strategic advantage by preparing a favorable legal landscape, positioning assets in orbit, and building alliances in its space operations.

The reason for the continuation of this effort on the moon is simple enough: America can’t work without space.

“The American dependence and reliance on space is almost absolute,” said Paul Crespo, president of the Center for American Defense Studies.

“From communications to banking to air and ground travel and GPS, our economy, society, and military cannot survive without U.S. space dominance.”

Crespo, a Marine veteran who served in the Defense Intelligence Agency, has spent years examining the CCP’s malign influence abroad and its efforts to degrade and undermine its adversaries through dual-use technologies and legal warfare.

Both Crespo and Listner fear that the moon will be China’s next “nine-dash line,” and that it will be used to bend the rule of law to the CCP’s advantage, just as it has in the South China Sea.

The Chinese regime claims about 85 percent of the disputed South China Sea demarcated by its nine-dash line, a claim that was rejected by a 2016 international tribunal. Several other countries also lay claim to parts of the waterway.

Despite the ruling, Beijing has built military outposts on artificial islands and reefs in the region, and deployed coast guard ships and Chinese fishing boats to intimidate foreign vessels, block access to waterways, and seize shoals and reefs.

Experts fear the CCP will use its moon and space infrastructure to similarly box out competition and control the happenings of the region, in violation of international laws and norms.

“The CCP has proven it has no respect for international law or norms, and is willing to bully, threaten, coerce and push its way into any place it deems vital to its strategic goals,” Crespo said.

“That’s crystal clear with its illegal expansion into, and claims on, most of the South China Sea.”

“This certainly will be even more true for China in space where the norms are far less established and codified.”

The United States’ response to CCP space adventurism has been mixed.

During the administration of President Donald Trump, the nation took a hardline stance and sought to outrace the CCP to the moon. Indeed, the Artemis Accords were initially designed to guide those nations that were to partake in the Artemis Program, a U.S.-led effort to establish a base on the moon.

Trump’s Space Policy Directive-1, likewise, sought to “lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.”

To accommodate these ambitions, NASA attempted to step up its original goal of establishing a moon presence from 2028 to 2024. That date was quickly pushed back to 2025, however. Since then, NASA has changed course again, and slated 2025 as the earliest date for a U.S. flight around the moon, but which won’t land on the moon.

A Long March 5B rocket lifts off from the Wenchang launch site on China’s Hainan island on May 5, 2020. Another variant of the Long March rocket was used to get China’s hypersonic missile into orbit in July. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Usurping the Advantage

The moon race has the potential to revolutionize international relations more than any other facet of Sino–American competition. When it comes to dictating what the law is beyond the earth’s atmosphere, Crespo and Listner believe that who gets there first wins.

“It’s all really about great power competition,” Listner said.

“The general consensus about great power competition is who’s going to eventually make the rules in an international arena. In other words, who’s going to have the most influence in shaping what’s legal and what the worldview looks like in the next few decades.”

Listner described the struggle between the United States and China for influence in shaping the world and its norms as one of competing visions, in which two radically different ways of understanding and operating in the world are being pitted against one another.

That struggle, he said, is playing out in space.

“Right now, there are two competing visions,” Listner said.

“One is the Artemis Accords, which the Trump administration started.”

“The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China countered with their own competing vision, called the International Lunar Research station.”

The Artemis Accords, Listner said, are a framework for international cooperation regarding the exploration and use of Luna, Mars, and other astronomical objects. The effort is based largely on the U.N. Outer Space Treaty of 1967, and seeks to affirm peaceful cooperation, promote interoperability, and register objects in space with uniform standards.

The Outer Space Treaty currently has 111 signatories, including China and Russia. The Artemis Accords, first signed in 2020, has 14 signatories; China and Russia didn’t sign, viewing the effort as a commercial agreement needlessly favorable to the United States.

The International Lunar Research Station, on the other hand, is the CCP and Russia’s effort to wrest international space leadership away from the United States’ NASA, and champion a new, Eurasian order.

Indeed, little Yutu-2 is just the first of seven exploratory missions planned by China and Russia, which will prepare the way for the construction of the base. That matters when the future of space dominance is on the line.

“It’s about the competing view of what the rule of law is going to be and who’s going to make the rules on the lunar surface and in exploiting space,” Listner said.

“Whoever gets there first and starts building will be the one who makes the rules.”

To that end, Crespo warned that the CCP is attempting to reforge space in its own image, undercutting the United States’ ability to sustain itself not only as a world superpower, but possibly as a civilization.

“Neutralizing our space dominance will severely hamper our ability to win any major conflict, and ultimately even our ability to maintain a stable, modern, functioning society,” he said.

“If the Chinese move beyond simply neutralizing our dominance and gain clear space dominance themselves, that will become almost a fait accompli in terms of America losing its ability to remain a world power, and even simply an independent sovereign nation.”

Listner said that it’s gray-zone conflict at its finest, and that the United States and China are engaged in war by any other name.

“From the perspective of the PRC, we’re at war,” Listner said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army HQ-9 surface-to-air missile launchers are seen during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 3, 2015. A modified version of this missile was used to shoot down a satellite in a test by China in 2007. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

The Lunar Threat

That gray-zone conflict, in which nations engage in hostilities stopping somewhere short of opening fire, is in full swing in outer space.

“Any manned Chinese and/or Russian base on the moon would provide them a significant strategic advantage militarily, legally, and economically,” Crespo said.

In early December, Gen. David Thompson, the U.S. Space Force’s first vice chief of space operations, said that the CCP is launching attacks on U.S. space infrastructure “every single day.” These reversible attacks, in which U.S. satellite architecture or cyber systems are compromised temporarily, are largely understood to be a testing of the waters.

That is, preparation for a real war.

Thompson said in separate remarks that the Chinese regime is developing space capabilities at double the rate of the United States. Moreover, its growing array of platforms designed for space warfare is growing.

“[The Chinese] have robots in space that conduct attacks,” Thompson said.

“They can conduct jamming attacks and laser dazzling attacks. They have a full suite of cyber capabilities.”

“If we don’t start accelerating our development and delivery capabilities, they will exceed us. And 2030 is not an unreasonable estimate,” he said.

Such advancements point to weaknesses in existing laws such as the Outer Space Treaty, which many people erroneously believe bans the development of space weapons.

“Conventional weapons in space aren’t banned by the Outer Space Treaty, as can be seen by the Russian Federation’s ASAT [Anti-satellite weapon] demonstration a few weeks ago,” Listner said.

“However, nuclear weapons in certain circumstances are prohibited by the Outer Space Treaty.”

Listner’s remarks refer to the recent demonstration by Russia of an ASAT missile that it used to explode a satellite in orbit. Critics accused Russia of putting the lives of astronauts at risk, as the thousands of pieces of debris could destroy space vehicles. The event was similar to an incident carried out by China in 2007.

Indeed, the CCP is rapidly expanding its military capabilities as part of an all-out push to usurp military and commercial dominance from the United States. That effort is designed to provide the CCP with an overwhelming new blitzkrieg of military technologies worthy of science fiction.

The effort includes the development of hypersonic weapons, electromagnetic pulse devices, new naval vessels capable of launching rockets into space, and a nuclear reactor to power space travel, reportedly 100 times more powerful than those planned by the United States.

In all, the CCP plans to launch 10,000 satellites by 2030 in its efforts to topple U.S. space dominance.

There are several ways in which the CCP could use the moon, or space assets more generally, to exploit weaknesses in its adversaries or further its weaponization efforts. Increased presence would allow China greater communication and control of its space assets, most notably satellite architecture, which is key to U.S. and allied GPS systems that the military depends upon. Experts have long argued that a preemptive strike on U.S. GPS systems would be China’s first move in a war, including one over Taiwan.

Other potentialities are more hypothetical, such as the long-theorized use of a kinetic bombardment system that could leverage Earth’s gravitational pull against it. Such a system could effectively turn objects as simple as tungsten rods into weapons of mass destruction due to the velocity with which they would hit the earth.

This would effectively allow a satellite- or moon-based system to throw heavy objects at the Earth with the destructive power of a meteor, a feat for which the proposed weapon has long been termed “Rods from God.”

Though costlier than other systems, the idea for such a system has existed since the Cold War, and the Pentagon reportedly considered developing it in 2006 before pursuing hypersonic glide vehicle research instead.

Listner said the CCP’s continued conquest of space was partially owed to the failure of U.S. and allied leaders to recognize fundamental differences in Western and Eurasian ways of conceptualizing the world and politics.

“Fundamentally, we have to understand that the PRC and the Russian Federation do not think like the U.S. and Western nations,” Listner said.

His comments reflected a growing consensus, recognized by new U.S. congressional reports, that the CCP is advancing a global campaign to champion Marxism as an alternative to American capitalism, and to supplant the United States as a global hegemon.

To this end, the international community may like to play at lawmaking, such as is the case with the Artemis Accords, but the CCP has demonstrated a repeated unwillingness to adhere to such norms.

“NGOs, peace groups, and disarmament groups believe the PRC and the Russians think like us when they don’t,” Listner said.

“It’s called ‘mirror thinking,’ and it’s a very, very dangerous trap to play into.”

This picture released on Jan. 11, 2019, by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS shows the Yutu-2 moon rover, taken by the Chang’e-4 lunar probe on the far side of the moon. (China National Space Administrat/AFP via Getty Images)

A Base for Whom?

Perhaps nowhere is this trap more apparent than in the CCP’s so-called dual-use policy.

The CCP publicly denies that its space systems and projects, including its moon plans and satellite, are used for military purposes. For instance, it characterized its grabber satellite as a means of cleaning space junk, and its hypersonic missile test as a reusable spacecraft.

Critics of the CCP point out that the ambiguity about whether such technology is ultimately civilian or military in nature is a feature of dual use.

Dual use is the practical realization of the CCP’s policy of “civil-military fusion,” aimed at erasing all barriers between private and public life to ensure that all civilian technologies also advance Chinese military dominance.

The rockets used to launch Yutu-2 to Luna are one such example. The same type of rocket was used to launch the CCP’s new hypersonic weapons system, which U.S. leaders fear is a nuclear first-strike weapon.

CCP leaders said that the test was for the benefit of its space program.

“Virtually everything that enables a country to launch objects into space is indistinguishable from intercontinental ballistic missiles or hypersonic weapons,” Crespo said.

“For China, that distinction is fairly moot.”

Crespo said that that ambiguity is part of the program, designed to obscure whether the military or civilian function of any project was intended to be dominant.

Such ambiguity makes a difference on the moon, where all Chinese taikonauts are in the employ of the Chinese military.

Any moon base serves scientific purposes while also clearly providing China a strategic lunar presence that will need to be defended, and can be used for surveillance, reconnaissance or military attacks of all types against satellites and other space assets,” Crespo said.

“No lunar base will be purely civilian to the CCP.”

A World to Gain

Space has been described by researcher Paul Szymanski as “the most obscure battlefield.” Its obscurity doesn’t, however, diminish its centrality to the future of nations. To the contrary, the economic, military, and political ramifications of space, and of the control of Luna, in particular, are nigh impossible to overstate.

“Space is America’s greatest asset and its greatest vulnerability,” Crespo said.

“The Chinese and Russians see it as our Achilles heel.”

To that end, one may consider the strategic value of space as the foremost point of CCP ambitions. It is the gateway through which one growing power might leapfrog a global hegemon to dictate the future of earthly affairs.

Indeed, it isn’t an overstatement to say that the moon is to the CCP what the Alps were to Hannibal. Should it be taken, the rest may fall like dominoes.

“The stakes are that high,” Crespo said. “Whoever controls space may control the world.”

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/01/2022 - 23:10
Published:1/2/2022 4:34:16 AM
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Published:12/31/2021 11:32:56 PM
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[Markets] Missiles On The Doorstep And Impending Nuclear Winter Missiles On The Doorstep And Impending Nuclear Winter

Authored by Brian Cloughley via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Nobody in their right mind would advocate what is called ‘first use’ of nuclear weapons.

‘Nuclear winter’ is defined in Britannica as “the environmental devastation that certain scientists contend would probably result from the hundreds of nuclear explosions in a nuclear war.” One immediately direct effect of such a conflict would be to block out the sun’s rays, which would lead to “a massive death toll from starvation, exposure, and disease. A nuclear war could thus reduce the Earth’s human population to a fraction of its previous numbers.” There have been innumerable portrayals of what would happen in a nuclear-devastated world of which the most evocative are the film Threads, made in 1984, depicting the ghastly aftermath in the United Kingdom, and the U.S. ABC television movie The Day After, of the previous year, which was even more horrifying, even though there was a lot of censorship before it was permitted to be shown.

It is only too apparent that a nuclear war would be catastrophic — and also that a nuclear exchange would be encouraged, indeed initiated, by the country that first fired or otherwise despatched one of these systems. No nuclear-armed country could accept nuclear devastation in its own lands without retaliating in force. The conclusion is that nobody in their right mind would advocate what is called ‘first use’ of nuclear weapons.

So step forward U.S. legislator, Senator Roger Wicker, who was reported as declaring that if there were conflict between Russia and Ukraine then the U.S. would have to be involved to the extent that this “could mean American troops on the ground.” And taking a massive leap backwards for mankind the senator declared on Fox News on December 8 that in the event of engagement against Russia “we don’t rule out first use nuclear action.”

The U.S. mainstream media, including The New York Times and the Washington Post did not publish the senator’s remarks, or make the slightest reference to them, which was unfortunate because his “no first use” statement is of enormous importance, especially because he used the word “we” in his public declaration of national policy. The senator is a member of the Armed Services Committee which according to its website has jurisdiction over “Aeronautical and space activities peculiar to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems or military operations… Common Defence… Department of Defence, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force, generally.” These are most important responsibilities, and it is therefore assumed that his proclamation has basis in policy to which he is privy.

The only (fairly) prominent American political figure to criticise the senator was former member of Congress Tulsi Gabbard who declared that Wicker’s statement “exposes exactly how dumb, insane, and sadistic he and other like-minded warmongers are,” which, while undeniably apposite, received no wide cover. And while it is realised that President Biden has many problems with which to deal at the moment, it is reprehensible that he has not said a word in refutation of Wicker’s insane proclamation concerning national nuclear policy.

It seems that Senator Wicker has not read what his President has said about the undesirability of nuclear war, as recorded in the “U.S.-Russia Presidential Statement on Strategic Stability” of June 16 which included the agreement that “Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Consistent with these goals, the United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.”

Direct contradiction of the U.S. President by a U.S. senator concerning national policy on nuclear war is beyond disconcerting : it is alarming to the point that clarification is urgently required. The Congressional Research Service recorded that “In his press briefing following the summit, President Biden noted that this dialogue would allow diplomats “to work on a mechanism that can lead to control of new and dangerous and sophisticated weapons that are coming on the scene now that reduce the times of response, that raise the prospects of accidental war.” Presumably following Presidential guidance, the 2021 ‘Nuclear Posture Review’ commissioned by the Pentagon makes it clear that there will be examination of “how the United States can take steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy while ensuring the strategic deterrent remains safe, secure and effective and that the extended deterrence commitments to its allies remain strong and credible.”

This might have been taken as a small step towards the beginning of another approach to arms reduction, had it not been that Colin H. Kahl, the undersecretary of defence for policy, fenced off the route when he stated that “We also see that the role that nuclear weapons play in Russia’s doctrine is quite elevated in the sense that, I think, Russia sees much higher utility for nuclear weapons than any other state.” Which is a strange pronouncement from a nation that, as noted on December 9, is “developing a totally new $100 billion missile, known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent.”

Kahl did not equivocate about the Pentagon’s approach to U.S. nuclear policy when he explained that “especially important to the FY 2023 budget” will be “decisions the department makes about modernizing and replacing the aging systems of the nuclear triad, which includes ground-launched, submarine-launched and air-launched nuclear weapons. Modernization also involves new submarines, such as the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines; new intercontinental ballistic missiles as part of the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program; and new bomber aircraft, such as the B-21 Raider.”

In spite of President Biden and President Putin agreeing in June that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” it is apparent that the Pentagon is at best paying lip-service to their joint declaration. And this prompted the observation by President Putin on December 23 that “The United States is standing with missiles on our doorstep. Is it an excessive requirement not to install shock systems at our house? How would the Americans react if missiles were placed at the border with Canada or Mexico?”

We can imagine what Senator Wicker would advocate in such circumstances, but it is reassuring to know that there are some adult voices in the political games arena of the U.S. legislature, with Senator Ed Markey, for example, bringing a note of sanity by saying in a speech that “The United States has a moral responsibility to make the world safe from nuclear weapons. As Congress debates Defence Department spending, our budgets must reflect our values. It’s time to bolster climate funding, not our nuclear arsenal. President Biden should stick to his own instincts in reducing nuclear weapons risks, not follow the recklessness of the military industrial complex that was a cheerleader of the Cold War arms race and endless wars in the Middle East . . .”

The first things that President Biden should do is remove U.S.-Nato nuclear weapons and their support infrastructure from the bases on Russia’s doorstep, while concurrently indicating publicly to Senator Wicker that such action is consistent with national defence policy. The Pentagon must be made to understand that its desired upgrading of the nuclear triad is an indicator of intent to expand the existing U.S. nuclear threat to Russia and China and that this is massively counter-productive. Remove the missiles and the threat of nuclear winter will be eliminated. That would be a good New Year present to mankind.

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/01/2022 - 00:00
Published:12/31/2021 11:32:56 PM
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[Markets] Xi'an Paralyzes By Panic As Millions Struggle To Buy Groceries Xi'an Paralyzes By Panic As Millions Struggle To Buy Groceries

As the lockdown in Xi'an continues through its second week, 13M residents are getting a taste of what life was like for the millions in Wuhan who suffered through that city's 70+ day lockdown back in the spring of 2020.

Xi'an has counted more than 1,000 cases, with none confirmed to be omicron (China has found some omicron cases in Shanghai and the southern part of the country). As a result, the city has been on total lockdown - with people only allowed to leave once every few days to buy essential goods like groceries.

According to a report in the Caixin business journal, many are struggling to buy groceries as city life grinds to a halt.

Residents in the capital of Shaanxi province have been told since Monday to stay at home unless they need to be out for nucleic acid testing. The city, home to almost 13 million residents, went into lockdown Dec. 23, with movement of the people curtailed and risk areas sealed, amid a growing delta outbreak traced to a Dec. 4 flight from Pakistan. The city has recorded a total number of 1,137 locally confirmed cases between Dec. 9 and Dec. 29.

Desperate residents have taken to social media to complain about online food orders - a last resort for many - that have gone undelivered. Local authorities since Tuesday night started mobilizing districts to deliver free food to residents in sealed areas, but a large number of people still face difficulties in procuring daily necessities.

Meanwhile, residents are also affected by disruptions in health services. Chen Wei’s wife, who is four months pregnant, felt abdominal pain on Saturday, but their community didn’t have designated vehicles for medical purposes, so they had to improvise and find their own treatment: "But now it’s not possible to get approval to go out at all," Chen told Caixin.

Authorities say the outbreak in Xi'an is still in the "rapid development" stage.

At a press conference Wednesday, He Qinghua, a senior official with the National Health Commission, said the local outbreak is still in a rapid development stage, with linked cases reported in other cities in Shaanxi and elsewhere outside the province. That means Xi’an is still unlikely to lift the lockdown anytime soon.

Caixin's report painted a picture of a city in chaos.

Li, the resident of the urban village, reported the shortage of supplies to the city’s hotlines, but no feedback was received. On Friday, rice and eggs in the village supermarket were quickly sold out. And with a further tightening of the disease control measures, all shops in the village were closed on Sunday.

Another Xi’an resident said the city does not have a shortage of supplies, but it lacks enough delivery workers.

Meanwhile, there’s also information asymmetry in the city. “I heard that some supermarkets in the community cannot get their vegetables sold, while residents don’t know how to buy them,” he said.

Residents with chronic health issues are facing a serious problem: many have lost practically all access to care as resources are diverted to dealing with the COVID outbreak. Many hospitals in the city have stopped accepting new or transferred patients, creating serious bottlenecks to care.

Stringent epidemic control measures have disrupted health services across the city, affecting many local patients, including kidney disease patients who urgently need treatment.

Chen, who lives in Xi’an’s Weiyang district, on Saturday called his resident community’s management office, hoping to take his wife to the hospital for an examination. But the office said they are not authorized to give permission, and Chen’s attempts to contact his community and disease control authorities to get approval were in vain.

Another patient with cancer told Caixin that she has had her treatment delayed for several days, after the hospital she attends suspended its outpatient services on Dec. 16.

“It hurts and I cannot sleep at night, so I can only bite my quilt. I feel it cannot be delayed any longer,” she told Caixin. Prior to the lockdown, local authorities had assured tumor patients would be able to get treatment; however, even patients who are not in sealed areas have been cut off from treatment, she said.

For what it's worth, the Global Times reported that the real problem isn't shortages of food supplies, but a difficulty in the "last mile" delivery that's supposed to bring food products to customers placing orders. In response, officials from Xixian New District said at a press conference on Thursday that they are actively coordinating the supply chain, and that they have also set up 1,603 WeChat groups, covering 195 communities, to supply more than 30 kinds of food and medicine for local residents.

Although there have been reports that some hospitals are resuming service for patients who make an appointment.

The outbreak has also impacted some college students who are in the middle of exams. Some have borne the expense of living in hotels while the process is disrupted.

Tyler Durden Thu, 12/30/2021 - 19:20
Published:12/30/2021 6:35:13 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Market Rally Has Sleepy Session; Tesla Finds Support As EV Rivals Soar Bulls took a nap Thursday, but the market rally is in good shape. Tesla found key support while EV rivals leapt. Published:12/30/2021 6:35:13 PM
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[Markets] Doug Casey On How Marxists Captured The Universities And Will Soon Capture The Nation Doug Casey On How Marxists Captured The Universities And Will Soon Capture The Nation

Authored by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,

International Man: Communist and socialist ideas are growing in popularity among the millennial and Gen Z generations. In fact, the majority of young people dislike capitalism and favor a more socialist or even a communist economic system.

This is evidenced by the rise of politicians like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) and The Squad.

What’s your take on this?

Doug Casey: The youth are being corrupted, and it’s more serious than ever. Although I say that a bit tongue-in-cheek since people have probably thought the youth were becoming degenerate since about day one.

For instance, one of the two charges against Socrates when he was executed in Ancient Greece was corrupting the youth. Older people always think the youth are foolish, ignorant, lazy, crazy and generally taking the world to hell in a handbasket. And, of course, many of their charges are, and always have been, true.

But as kids get older, they generally get wiser, more knowledgeable, harder-working, and more prudent—nothing new here. The world has survived roughly 250 new generations since civilization began in Sumer 5,000 years ago. And it will likely survive this one too.

That’s the bright side. And, as you know, I always look on the bright side. But, on the other hand, the American university system has been totally captured by Cultural Marxists, socialists, statists, collectivists, promoters of identity politics, and people of that ilk. These people hate Western Civilization and its values and are actively trying to destroy them. My view is that this challenge is perhaps the most serious we’ve ever encountered, and the dangers are greatly amplified by advancing technology.

International Man: What role are Western universities playing? How is this shaping current and future generations?

Doug Casey: Universities have been totally transformed in many ways over the past century, and it’s been for the worst in every instance. When the average 18-year-old goes to college, he knows very little about how the world works in general. He’s got vague ideas he picked up mostly from TV, movies, and people who got a job teaching high school. They know basically nothing about economics, government, or history. Worse, what they think they know is mostly wrong.

That makes them easy prey for professors with totally bent views to indoctrinate them.

It’s not so much that they’re taught inaccurate facts. There are plenty of “factoids” (artificial facts), of course—like the War Between the States (which shouldn’t be called the Civil War) was mainly fought to free the slaves. Or that Keynesian economics is correct. Or that the US is a democracy ruled by “We the People.” And many, many more. But that’s just part of the problem.

It’s not just the factoids they’re taught. It’s the way the schools interpret actual facts and the kind of meaning they infuse into events. The “why?” of events is twisted, and concepts of good and evil are perverted. The education system has been almost completely captured by Marxists and other leftists. They’re in a position to indoctrinate the youth, and they use that power to the maximum. Once a kid’s thoughts are bent—much the way a tree can be bent as a sapling—in one direction or another, it’s very hard to straighten them out.

Of course, that leads to the question of whether the youth should be directed one way or another in the first place. Which values are “right” or “wrong?” I certainly have views on that subject, but this isn’t the place to go into them—beyond saying that basic values are too important to be left to random government employees.

The real problem, however, is that today’s education does not teach critical thinking. Rather just the opposite is true. Students are taught blind acceptance of what’s currently considered politically correct.

Instead of questioning authority in a peaceful and rational manner—which is what Socrates did—the current idea is to prevent any divergent views from even being discussed. The professors are basically all socialists, and the kids tend to believe what they’re taught. Those views are reinforced by the other sources of information surrounding them—Hollywood, mass media, and the government itself.

Destructive ideas usually start with “intellectuals.” Intellectuals typically despise business, commerce, and production, and they envy the money the capitalists have. Intellectuals feel they’re not only smarter but also much more moral than business people. That gives them the right, in their own eyes, to dictate to everyone else. They’re usually socialists, and approve of “cadres” like themselves, ordering everyone else around. Intellectuals naturally gravitate to the universities, where they’re paid to hang out with each other, be lionized by kids, and hatch goofy ideas.

This has always been the case. But it’s become a much bigger problem than in the past, partly because a much, much higher percentage of kids go to college now than ever before. Even in the recent past, at most five or 10 percent of kids went to college. These days, almost everybody goes, and a much higher proportion of the youth are being infected with leftist memes than ever before.

Some kids will grow out of it and realize that most of what they’ve paid an exorbitant amount of money to learn is nonsense. But most will reflexively defend what they were taught in the cocoon. And I’m afraid those people now make up a big chunk of the U.S. population.

Kids who are polled say that they think socialism is good.. I suspect the polls are accurate. And even if they don’t think it, almost all of them feel it—although few know the difference between thinking and feeling … If you’re brought up thinking that the values of socialism and the welfare state are good, and everyone around you believes in them, the chances are you will too.

International Man: What are your thoughts on the emphasis on identity politics and the concept of “white privilege?”

Doug Casey: Identity politics is essentially the idea that a person is first and foremost a member of some race or ethnicity and only secondarily an individual. In recent years, most people have been indoctrinated indirectly and directly, subtly and overtly, to believe white people and the civilization they created are bad. The meme is everywhere. They’ve come to believe Western Civilization is a bad thing and that white people are destroying the world.

Even if they don’t want to believe it because the concept is so stupid and so utterly contrafactual, they end up accepting it just because they’ve heard it over and over. Propaganda works. Memes that originated with intellectuals in universities have thoroughly infiltrated the mass media and the entertainment industry. It’s perverse how today’s “thought leaders” overwhelmingly think the same thing.

There’s been no defense at all—forget about a counterattack—from so-called capitalists and business leaders. All they’re interested in is making money. In fact, they not only accept the ideas but contribute money to the causes of their enemies, idiotically thinking that virtue-signaling will placate them. It’s an unfortunate fact that business people, especially the suits managing large corporations, don’t really care how they make money. They tend to be completely amoral or immoral philistines and political hacks. They look like hypocrites and are (correctly) held in contempt by the intellectuals. The corporate types are happy to work with and for their counterparts in government, which is exactly what the fascism of Mussolini advocated. They self-righteously make charitable contributions to universities and NGOs, subsidizing the source of the poison.

There’s almost no defense of the ideas that brought us Western Civilization, which is responsible for just about everything that’s good in the world. I’m not kidding when I make that assertion. With the exception of a few anomalies like Taoism, martial arts, yoga, and Oriental cooking, East minus West equals zero. Without it, the whole world would resemble Africa, Cambodia, or Mongolia—not even today, but 200 years ago. Ideas like individualism, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, science, rationality, and capitalism are products of Western Civilization. These concepts no longer have any defenders anywhere. They’re under attack everywhere.

International Man: What do you think the impact of this will be on the markets and the economy?

Doug Casey: I’m bearish, especially for the near term since actual Jacobins are in charge in Washington.

How can the markets be healthy when what passes for a ruling class in the West actually hate themselves and middle class is collapsing economically and psychologically? When, political entrepreneurship is valued more than making money through production, When the currency is being actively destroyed to prop up what has become a very corrupt political system?

In fact, the economy and the markets are the least of our problems. The very foundation of civilization itself is under attack. The widespread acceptance of destructive statist and collectivist ideas is serious. The consequences will be the same here as they were in Russia under the Soviets, in Germany under the Nazis, and in China under Mao. The situation may be even more serious since the idea of Western Civilization itself is under serious attack in the U.S., which has been the bulwark for the last century.

So, excuse my bearishness, but I think it’s warranted.

*  *  *

Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the course of these trends in motion. The coming economic and political crisis is going to be much worse, much longer, and very different than what we’ve seen in the past. That’s exactly why New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent new video Doug Casey’s Top 3 Secrets to Survive and Thrive During a Dollar Crisis. It explains what’s to come and exactly what you should do to protect yourself. Click here to watch it now.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/29/2021 - 18:50
Published:12/29/2021 6:07:42 PM
[Markets] : The pandemic boom in videogames is expected to disappear in 2022 Chip shortages, which made new gaming consoles unavailable for many, and delayed, buggy videogames plagued 2021. And while 2022 may offer a bit of relief to clogged supply chains, many analysts are expecting more of the same.
Published:12/29/2021 5:36:22 PM
[Markets] Marines "Crushed" By Vax Mandate As "Thousands" Denied Religious Exemptions In "Political Purge" Marines "Crushed" By Vax Mandate As "Thousands" Denied Religious Exemptions In "Political Purge"

Days ago it was first revealed that despite the Department of Defense offering a "religious exemption" as part of the Covid-19 vaccine mandate across all military branches, not a single one has yet to be approved - at a time at least 169 Marines were already discharged for their refusal to receive the shot.

A new investigative report by Fox News finds that multiple "thousands" of Marines are still set to be processed out over the mandate, and that the corps' "best and brightest" are being "crushed" by the Biden vaccine order. "Marines are allowed to apply for a religious exemption, but so far not a single application regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, or any vaccine for that matter, has been approved, a Marine Corps spokesman told Fox News."

For this reason the mandate is being likened to a "political purge" - which has seen a "blanket denial" of all formal requests for religious exemptions. In recent days official Marine Corps statements have underscored no exemptions are being given out, yet supposedly these are being considered on a case by case basis.

Line of Marines at Camp Hansen in Japan waiting to receive the vaccine, Getty Images.

As of late last week, the Marine Corps confirmed that not a single religious exemption request has yet to be approved. It was further confirmed that at least a few thousand could be discharged based on the exemption denial

Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Ryan Bruce told Fox News that as of Thursday, 3,080 of the 3,192 requests for religious accommodation concerning the COVID-19 vaccine mandate had been processed and zero had been approved, adding that "no religious accommodations have been approved for any other vaccine in the past seven years." 

So assuming these Marines will still refuse the jab, thousands are set to be booted from the Marine Corps. In its reporting, Fox extensively quotes Marine officers, whose names are withheld. The Daily Wire, citing the most recently available public data from last week, estimated that some 9,000 could still be set for early discharge from the service

As of Thursday, 94% of active-duty troops were fully vaccinated and another 1% were partially vaccinated, according to data from the U.S. Marine Corps.

That leaves the remaining 5% of an active-duty Marine force of about 182,500, which amounts to about 9,125 active-duty Marines who are still unvaccinated.

"There’s something fundamentally wrong at this point with our nation’s leadership," a major with over 17 years of active service was cited as saying. "We are facing an unconstitutional edict that I think is very targeted as a political purge, taking out some of the best and brightest soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians from the Space Force."

Further, a lieutenant colonel who has served for almost two decades said the Marines are discharging service members "as fast as they can and as brutally as they can, damaging every Marine as much as they can on the way out."

Further, Fox's Jessica Chasmar, who interviewed several of the officers, said:

"The one message I got from the colonel above me was: ‘Tread very carefully, this is political, you will be crushed like an ant.’ And he told me that because he cares about me," the lieutenant colonel said. "Do I want to continue serving in an institution that crushes people for bringing up reasonable points in defending their faith?"

One master sergeant said it seems that "the louder I speak the tighter the screws are turned against me."

Additionally one Marine who ranks high on the enlisted side said, "When you’re expected to behave a certain way and to obey certain rules and follow certain processes, and then to see on the other end that that’s not a two-way street, that’s a violation of my morals that I can’t stand by and not speak out about."

The same Marine, identified as a Master Sergeant, described one particular instance of an individual Marine's exhaustively documented and very convincing case for a religious exemption: "I saw one package from a sergeant who had attached, like, 30 pages of material to substantiate why his belief was sincere, under no lawful obligation to do so," the master sergeant said. "And then to have this as a response with no individual inquiry and just a generalized assertion of governmental interest is insulting."

"On the religious side, this is absolutely a travesty what’s happening," a separate officer described. "People are getting blanket denials, they’re not addressing the individual concerns or beliefs of Marines who are submitting for religious accommodations, and I think that’s just horribly wrong. I honestly believe that they’re not really reading the packages."

Those interviewed also depicted an ongoing culture of intimidation which appears intended to silence any potential opposition to the mandate, further with no recourse whatsoever. Instead the Marines feel steamrolled into compliance. What's more is that unlike many parts of Europe, prior infection and natural immunity is being completely ignored. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/29/2021 - 18:30
Published:12/29/2021 5:36:22 PM
[Markets] Police Raid Shutters Independent Hong Kong News Outlet For "Seditious" Content Police Raid Shutters Independent Hong Kong News Outlet For "Seditious" Content

In the latest pro-China crackdown on Hong Kong independent media, police raided the headquarters of vocal pro-democracy website Stand News on Wednesday and arrested at least six, including current and former editors and board members.

"Police raided Stand News’ office earlier in the day after arresting the six, including popular singer and activist Denise Ho, a former board member, on charges of conspiracy to publish a seditious publication," the Associated Press detailed of the raid which involved over 200 officers and the seizure of all suspected "subversive" and "seditious" journalistic materials under last year's national security law.

Stand News acting Chief Editor Patrick Lam being put into a police vehicle, via Reuters.

Hours into the day the news website was no longer being updated, nor its active social media pages. Stand News' HK$61 million in assets have been frozen and all employees dismissed. 

It appears to be part of a new crackdown wave against opposition Honk Kong media, following the June 2021 shuttering of the Apple Daily newspaper in a similar massive police raid which saw its publisher Jimmy Lai and top editors arrested, as HK authorities continue forcing the public firmly in line with "pro-China" policies

It's now looking like the crackdown is likely to continue beyond Stand News. The AP writes further, "Early Wednesday, Stand News posted a video on Facebook of police officers at the home of a deputy editor, Ronson Chan."

The report adds that "Chan, who is also chair of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, was taken away for questioning, the organization confirmed in a statement." Later released, he described that all his credentials and press pass, including all electronic devises and even bank cards were seized

Hong Kong police claimed in a follow-up press conference that "we are not targeting reporters" while a media industry group protested the raid. Police described Stand News in particular as having "stirred up hatred or contempt for the government and judiciary," the AP noted. HK police further had some friendly "advice" for all other media and journalists: 

"We are not targeting reporters, we are not targeting the media, we just targeted national security offenses," said Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent of the police National Security Department. "If you only report, I don’t think this is a problem."

He said at a news conference that those arrested had to account for their actions even if they had resigned from Stand News.

Asked what advice he had for the media, Li replied, "Don’t be biased. You know well how to report, how to be a responsible reporter, how to make a non-biased report to your readers. That’s all I can give you."

This comes even after the outlet ceased the publication of most op-eds and removed the subscription-only membership, citing the prior national security law. Those still being detained reportedly face up to two years in prison and a fine up to HK$5,000.

Pop star Denise Ho was among the Wednesday arrests of pro-democracy media voices...

Likely it's only a matter of time for all remaining independent and opposition outlet voices before the police come knocking, as journalists struggle to figure out what exactly "don't be biased" actually means in the minds of pro-mainland authorities.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/29/2021 - 17:50
Published:12/29/2021 5:10:37 PM
[Markets] What's Worth Streaming: Here’s what’s coming to Amazon’s Prime Video in January 2022 Ben Affleck in 'The Tender Bar' and a new 'Hotel Transylvania' movie top the list of originals
Published:12/29/2021 5:10:37 PM
[Markets] Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty of sex trafficking in cases linked to Epstein Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty of sex trafficking in cases linked to Epstein Published:12/29/2021 4:37:46 PM
[Markets] Aaron Rodgers: Science That "Can't Be Questioned" Is "Propaganda" Aaron Rodgers: Science That "Can't Be Questioned" Is "Propaganda"

Authored by Isabel van Brugen via The Epoch Times,

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Tuesday took aim at the criticism he says he has received for his views on COVID-19 vaccines.

During his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers said that his previous comments on the issue has led to strong pushback from both a number of NFL voices and Silicon Valley.

“If science can’t be questioned, it’s not science anymore; it’s propaganda and that’s the truth,” he said.

Rodgers, 37, on Tuesday claimed that many NFL teams are quietly experimenting with various COVID-19 treatments behind the scenes.

When did science become this blind agreement and then not having any debate over what can actually heal people and work for people. That makes no sense to me,” he said.

When did we lose the ability to respect somebody’s opinion. My thoughts on COVID are my opinion. Why can’t we have more conversations between people with different opinions?” he added.

Rodgers made headlines last month after he tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, after claiming in August that he was “immunized” against the virus.

The three-time most valuable NFL player claimed on Nov. 5 that he was told by a league doctor that people who take a vaccine for COVID-19 will not catch or spread the disease.

“One of the main docs said it’s impossible for a vaccinated person to get COVID or spread COVID,” he said.

“We know now that information is totally false.”

He confirmed during a television appearance that he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, explaining that he is allergic to an ingredient in the mRNA Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and is wary of taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing documented past cases of blood clots that prompted federal regulatory agencies to temporarily pause administration of the shots earlier this year.

Rodgers was fined by the NFL on Nov. 9 for COVID-19 protocol violations after an investigation found that he failed to consistently wear face masks inside the team’s facilities, and attended a Halloween party maskless—violating protocol that requires masks for players not vaccinated against COVID-19.

He was also dropped by Prevea Health over his vaccine views after being aligned with the company for nine years.

Rodgers in a separate appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on Nov. 9 said that the COVID-19 vaccine can be “polarizing,” but did not back down from his stance on the vaccine.

“In the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I’m about, and I stand behind the things that I said,” the quarterback added at the time.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/29/2021 - 17:30
Published:12/29/2021 4:37:46 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Dow Hits High; Tesla, Meta, This 'Lone Wolf' Are Resistance Fighters The Dow hit a new high in Wednesday's quiet action. Tesla, Meta Platforms and Datadog are fighting key resistance. Published:12/29/2021 4:37:46 PM
[Markets] Retirement Weekly: Suddenly single: Women thriving after divorce or loss Important considerations for women in transition.
Published:12/29/2021 4:37:46 PM
[Markets] Biden Approval Rating Plunges Below Kamala's; New Gallup Survey Finds Biden Approval Rating Plunges Below Kamala's; New Gallup Survey Finds

Filed this under "you know it's bad when..."

President Biden's approval rating had been limping higher off of late-November (record-drop) lows, but the last week or so, amid mixed messages over mandates and the collapse of the 'pandemic of the unvaccinated' narrative, the president's approval rating has tumbled back down to earth once more.

During this downward deluge of dread-filled doubts about the president's performance, VP Harris has been doing her 'fair share' of dismal attempts to reinvent herself, but has only managed to drive her approval rating down too.

However, as bad as Harris has been doing, the latest Gallup survey shows that President Biden's approval rating has dropped below that of the VP for the first time (43% approval vs Harris' 44%).

Gallup has limited trends on these job approval ratings, but it's noteworthy that Harris' disapproval rating has increased from 49% to 54%, more 'disapproved of' than Biden.

As one would imagine, the results are highly skewed on a partisan basis.

As the Gallup survey shows, all of the establishment leaders in the survey were viewed more positively by Democrats than Republicans, with Harris getting an almost unprecedentedly terrible 7% approvaL from Republicans (and only 42% from Independents).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his constant clashes with freedom-lovers, Dr. Fauci's job approval is particularly skewed by party, with a 66-percentage-point gap between Democrats' (85%) and Republicans' (19%) ratings.

Finally, it is interesting to note that Chief Justice Roberts is in a unique position as the sole public leader of the 11 evaluated who enjoys majority-level approval from Americans in all party groups. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/29/2021 - 16:40
Published:12/29/2021 4:07:09 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Dow, S&P close at record highs as Omicron worries ease The Dow and S&P 500 closed at all-time highs on Wednesday on a boost from retailers including Walgreens and Nike, as investors shrugged off concerns on the spreading Omicron variant. The Dow has now risen six straight trading days, marking the longest streak of gains since a seven-session run from March 5 to March 15 this year. Walgreens Boots Alliance and Nike Inc rose 1.59% and 1.42% respectively against the backdrop of recent reports suggesting holiday sales were strong for U.S. retailers. Published:12/29/2021 4:07:09 PM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Which ‘gray swan’ risk could derail the U.S. economy and the stock market in 2022? There's more to worry about than just inflation, interest rates and COVID.
Published:12/29/2021 4:07:09 PM
[Markets] 'Dr.Doom' Warns Of "Clouds Over 2022" 'Dr.Doom' Warns Of "Clouds Over 2022"

Authored by Nouriel Roubini via Project Syndicate,

Although major economies and markets fared well in 2021 despite all of the uncertainties surrounding new variants of the coronavirus, 2022 will bring new challenges. In addition to central banks shifting toward policy normalization, geopolitical and systemic risks are multiplying.

Despite dips and disruptions from new variants of COVID-19, 2021 turned out to be a relatively positive year for economies and markets in most parts of the world. Growth rose above its potential after the severe recession of 2020, and financial markets recovered robustly. This was especially the case in the United States, where stock markets reached new highs, owing partly to the US Federal Reserve’s ultra-loose monetary policy (though central banks in other advanced economies pursued radically accommodative policies of their own).

But 2022 may be more difficult. The pandemic is not over. Omicron may not be as virulent as previous variants – particularly in highly vaccinated advanced economies – but it is much more contagious, which means that hospitalizations and deaths will remain high. The resulting uncertainty and risk aversion will suppress demand and exacerbate supply-chain bottlenecks.

Together with excess savings, pent-up demand, and loose monetary and fiscal policies, those bottlenecks fueled inflation in 2021. Many of the central bankers who insisted that the inflationary surge was transitory have now conceded that it will persist. With varying degrees of urgency, they are planning to phase out unconventional monetary policies such as quantitative easing, so that they can start to normalize interest rates.

Central banks’ resolve will be tested if policy-rate hikes lead to shocks in the bond, credit, and stock markets. With such a massive build-up of private and public debt, markets may not be able to digest higher borrowing costs. If there is a tantrum, central banks would find themselves in a debt trap and probably would reverse course. That would make an upward shift in inflation expectations likely, with inflation becoming endemic.

The next year also brings mounting geopolitical and systemic risks. On the geopolitical front, there are three major threats to watch.

  • First, Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine, and it remains to be seen whether negotiations on a new regional security regime can prevent escalation of the threat. Although US President Joe Biden has promised more military aid for Ukraine and threatened harsher sanctions against Russia, he also has made clear that the US will not intervene directly to defend Ukraine against an attack. But the Russian economy has become more resilient to sanctions than it was in the past, so such threats may not dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin. After all, some Western sanctions – such as a move to block the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – could even exacerbate Europe’s own energy shortages.

  • Second, the Sino-American cold war is getting colder. China increasing its military pressure on Taiwan and in the South China Sea (where many territorial disputes are brewing), and the broader decoupling between the Chinese and US economies, is accelerating. This development will have stagflationary consequences over time.

  • Third, Iran is now a threshold nuclear state. It has been rapidly enriching uranium to near-weapons grade, and the negotiations over a new or refurbished nuclear agreement have gone nowhere. As a result, Israel is openly considering strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. Were that to happen, the stagflationary consequences would likely be worse than the oil-related geopolitical shocks of 1973 and 1979.

The new year also brings several systemic concerns.

In 2021, heatwaves, fires, droughts, hurricanes, floods, typhoons, and other disasters laid bare the real-world implications of climate change. The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow offered mostly cheap talk, leaving the world on track to suffer a devastating 3° Celsius of warming this century. Droughts are already driving a dangerous spike in food prices, and the effects of climate change will continue to worsen.

Making matters worse, the aggressive push to decarbonize the economy is leading to underinvestment in fossil-fuel capacity before there is a sufficient supply of renewable energy. This dynamic will generate much higher energy prices over time. Moreover, climate refugee flows toward the US, Europe, and other advanced economies will surge just as those countries are shutting their borders.

Against this background, political dysfunction is increasing in both advanced economies and emerging markets. The US midterm elections may offer a preview of the full-blown constitutional crisis – if not outright political violence – that could follow the presidential vote in 2024. The US is experiencing near-unprecedented levels of partisan polarization, gridlock, and radicalization, all of which poses a serious systemic risk.

Populist parties (of both the far right and the far left) are growing stronger around the world, even in regions like Latin America, where populism has a disastrous history. Peru and Chile both elected radical leftist leaders in 2021, Brazil and Colombia may follow suit in 2022, and Argentina and Venezuela will remain on a path to financial ruin. Interest-rate normalization by the Fed and other major central banks could cause financial shocks in these and other fragile emerging markets such as Turkey and Lebanon, not to mention the many developing countries with debt ratios that are already unsustainable.

As 2021 draws to a close, financial markets remain frothy, if not outright bubbly. Public and private equity are both expensive (with above-average price-to-earnings ratios); real-estate prices (both housing and rent) are high in the US and many other economies; and there is still a craze around meme stocks, crypto assets, and SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies). Government bond yields remain ultra-low, and credit spreads – both high-yield and high-grade – have been compressed, owing partly to direct and indirect support from central banks.

As long as central banks were in unconventional policy mode, the party could keep going. But the asset and credit bubbles may deflate in 2022 when policy normalization starts. Moreover, inflation, slower growth, and geopolitical and systemic risks could create the conditions for a market correction in 2022. Come what may, investors are likely to remain on the edge of their seats for most of the year.

*  *  *

Our newest magazine, The Year Ahead 2022: Reckonings, is here. To receive your print copy, delivered wherever you are in the world, subscribe to PS for less than $9 a month.  As a PS subscriber, you’ll also enjoy unlimited access to our On Point suite of premium long-form content, Say More contributor interviews, The Big Picture topical collections, and the full PS archive. SUBSCRIBE NOW

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/29/2021 - 16:20
Published:12/29/2021 3:35:01 PM
[Markets] Dow, S&P 500 end at records Wednesday as stocks rally in final week of 2021 The Dow claims its first record close in almost two months on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 index books its 70th record finish of 2021 and the Nasdaq Composite ends slightly lower as longer-term Treasury yields climb. Published:12/29/2021 3:35:01 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Dow, S&P close at record highs as Omicron worries ease The Dow and S&P 500 closed at all-time highs on Wednesday on a boost from retailers including Walgreens and Nike, as investors shrugged off concerns on the spreading Omicron variant. The Dow has now risen six straight trading days, marking the longest streak of gains since a seven-session run from March 5 to March 15 this year. Walgreens Boots Alliance and Nike Inc rose against the backdrop of recent reports suggesting holiday sales were strong for U.S. retailers. Published:12/29/2021 3:05:31 PM
[Markets] The Dow and S&P 500 stock indexes continued their year-end rally Wednesday The Dow and S&P 500 stock indexes continued their year-end rally Wednesday Published:12/29/2021 3:05:31 PM
[Markets] Dow Gains For 6th Straight Day As 'Omicold'-Pivot Erases 30Y Bond Bid Dow Gains For 6th Straight Day As 'Omicold'-Pivot Erases 30Y Bond Bid

Cases are soaring and deaths and hospitalizations...refuse to play along with the fearmongering tsunami narrative...

Source: Bloomberg

And so as 'omicold' continues to ravage peoples' nose-blowing tissues, stocks continue to melt-up as optimistic investors dump bonds into year-end.

The Dow managed to keep the dream alive and rallied for the 6th straight day to close at a record high. Thanks to a late-day panic-bid surge, everything ended green (except Nasdaq which lost it in the last seconds)...

...now up 2% post-Omicron (along with the S&P 500). Nasdaq has managed to get back to pre-Omicron levels while Small Caps remain down around 4%...

This is on course to be the first year since 2005 where the S&P 500 will outperform BOTH the Dow and the Nasdaq. Today was the 70th record high close this year for the S&P 500.

Small Caps were unable to get back above the 200DMA...

As rates rise, mega-cap tech has been sloping down...

Source: Bloomberg

Treasury yields were higher on the day with 30Y erasing all the post-Omicron gains. 2Ys also higher post-Omicron (more due to Powell's pivot) but the belly remains lower in yield (on policy error fears)...

Source: Bloomberg

But we note the 30Y stalled at that level and was unable to push up to 2.00%, ending the day down around 2bps from intraday highs...

Source: Bloomberg

Ugly 7Y auction today sparked weakness and pushed the 10Y back above 1.50%...

Source: Bloomberg

STIRs shifted more hawkishly once again...

Source: Bloomberg

The dollar broke down today to its weakest since before Thanksgiving...

Source: Bloomberg

Bitcoin fell below its 200DMA then hovered there...

Source: Bloomberg

December is on pace to be the worst month for BTC since May.

Basically cryptos are saying inflation is done...

Source: Bloomberg

Oil rallied after the DOE reported a decent crude draw and briefly broke above its 50DMA, before quickly reversing all those gains, before bouncing back up to the 50DMA...

Gold broke down below $1800 intraday but bounced back as the US market opened...

Finally, Santa's not done giving quite yet...

Or will 2022 mark the beginning of the end?

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/29/2021 - 16:01
Published:12/29/2021 3:05:31 PM
[Markets] Tax Guy: I want to sell my vacation home. It has appreciated in value. How can I minimize the taxes? A vacation home will sometimes qualify for the federal income tax gain exclusion break.
Published:12/29/2021 3:05:31 PM
[Markets] : Vanguard confirms website outage that’s preventing clients from accessing certain statements Vanguard customers have experienced website outages since Christmas, according to reports.
Published:12/29/2021 2:34:55 PM
[Markets] Mexican Government Allowing Cruise Ships With COVID-19 To Disembark Mexican Government Allowing Cruise Ships With COVID-19 To Disembark

Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times,

Mexico will allow cruise ships carrying people infected with COVID-19 to dock, the country’s government announced on Tuesday.

In a news release, the government said it will allow passengers who show symptoms of the virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, to disembark but they must quarantine. Those who test positive will be provided with medical assistance.

“In accordance with the biosafety protocols established in the national and international spheres, the Government of Mexico will receive in its maritime ports cruise ships that request to dock in our country,” they said in a statement.

Asymptomatic people or those with a mild condition will be kept in preventive quarantine, while individuals who present serious symptoms will be treated in the hospitals of the cities where they disembarked.

Passengers or crew who do not show symptoms of COVID-19 will “enjoy free transit” but must follow preventative measures such as wearing face masks, regularly washing hands with soap and water, or using 70 percent alcohol-gel, and maintain a “healthy” social distance.

The release also said that a cruise ship that was recently denied entry to a Mexican port would be allowed to dock but did not provide further details as to which cruise ship it was referencing.

The Mexican state of Jalisco’s health department confirmed in a statement to media outlets on Dec. 29 that 21 crew members onboard the Koningsdam cruise line tested positive for the virus when it arrived in the tourist resort city of Puerto Vallarta over the weekend.

Holland America confirmed in a statement on Saturday to news outlets that a “small number of fully-vaccinated crew on Koningsdam tested positive for COVID-19.”

“All are showing mild or no symptoms and are in isolation. Close contacts have been quarantined out of an abundance of caution,” the cruise line said.

According to the Jalisco health department, all crew members were tested for COVID-19 prior to departure on Dec. 19 and just one person tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.

“Regarding a cruise ship that was denied access in two maritime ports of our country, it is reported that it will be received in the port of Guaymas, Sonora, with the support of the government of that entity,” the Mexican government said on Tuesday.

“The Secretaries of Health and Tourism of the Government of Mexico reiterate the commitment to respect the provisions of the International Health Regulations of the World Health Organization (WHO), for which cruises will be received in ports maritime of the country,” the release continued.

“Our country maintains its policy of solidarity and fraternity, as well as the principle of non-discrimination towards all people, so the health and tourism authorities remain pending to provide necessary medical assistance to those who visit us for recreational, work, commercial reasons, and academics, among other activities, carried out in compliance with national laws,” the release said.

Mexico is one of the few countries in the world that has not implemented travel bans, testing requirements, or mandatory face mask wearing for visitors.

The country’s deputy health secretary, Dr. Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, said on Nov. 27 that travel restrictions and border closures in response to the recently discovered Omicron variant of the virus are “unhelpful measures” that will affect the economy and well-being of the people.

“It [Omicron variant] has not been shown to be more virulent or to evade the immune response induced by vaccines,” Ramírez said last month.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been 298,777 deaths from the CCP virus in Mexico. Some 138,851,637 vaccine doses have been administered.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/29/2021 - 15:25
Published:12/29/2021 2:34:55 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Nears New Closing High; Nasdaq Pares Losses; Growth Stocks Outperform While These Leaders Are Actionable Now The Dow Jones continued slightly higher in today's stock market, as the index traded just shy of a new closing high. Published:12/29/2021 2:34:55 PM
[Markets] Illinois Breaks Record For Population Loss, Out-Migration In 2021 Illinois Breaks Record For Population Loss, Out-Migration In 2021

Authored by Bryce Hill via IllinoisPolicy.org,

Despite a higher-than-expected 2020 population count, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates Illinoisans moving away was the sole reason for the state’s record loss of the equivalent of nearly everyone in Springfield.

Illinois’ population declined by a record 113,776 residents from July 2020-July 2021, according to estimates released Dec. 21 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

This marks the eighth consecutive year of population decline for Illinois, according to Census Bureau estimates. The only state that’s population has been in decline longer, West Virginia, currently is suffering its ninth consecutive year of population decline.

Illinois continues to see a natural increase in population as births outpace deaths, but by an increasingly narrow margin. It also is gaining residents from abroad. But so many people are moving out of Illinois to other states that the state’s total population is in decline.

Estimates from the Census Bureau show there were 2,778 more births than deaths in Illinois, 5,766 net migrants gained from abroad, but 122,460 residents lost on net to other states. The loss in residents to other states was the largest in state history.

Both domestic outmigration and total population decline were third-worst in the nation in terms of the raw number – better than only New York and California.

They were second-worst in the nation as a percentage of population – better than only New York.

The new estimates take into account the official 2020 Census count, which showed Illinois’ population was higher than expected, though still within the Census Bureau’s margin of error for their total population estimates. While many were quick to celebrate the 2020 Census results as proof Illinois’ outmigration crisis had been overblown, the new estimates confirm the most likely scenario: people are moving out of a shrinking Illinois.

Given that new estimates suggest even further outmigration and population decline than in years past, it is likely Illinois’ increased census outreach spending and improvements in Census methodology – such as the ability to respond online – resulted in a higher, more accurate baseline count in 2020 than in 2010, but that the estimated components of population change were still fairly accurate.

That shows a sad truth that Illinois’ outmigration crisis is not only real, but worse than ever and accelerating.

Historically speaking, the major reasons Illinoisans are choosing to leave the state are for better housing and employment opportunities, both of which have been made worse by poor public policy in Illinois. Nearly half of Illinoisans have thought about moving away, and they said taxes were their No. 1 reason. Population decline also contributes to the lower economic prospects of the state.

It remains unclear to what extent these factors contributed to Illinoisans moving out of state from 2020-2021, rather than other factors such as pandemic-related job losses, school closures and government mandates. Nonetheless, Census data confirms Illinois’ outmigration-driven population decline has reached record levels and is more of a problem now than ever, regardless of the cause.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/29/2021 - 14:45
Published:12/29/2021 2:05:40 PM
[Markets] Biogen stock surges after report of possible $40 billon buyout by Samsung Biogen stock surges after report of possible $40 billon buyout by Samsung Published:12/29/2021 2:05:40 PM
[Markets] Biogen stock surges on report of potential acquisition by Samsung Group Yahoo Finance Live's Jared Blikre examines the latest market action, in addition to reporting on Biogen undergoing acquisition negotiations by Samsung Published:12/29/2021 2:05:40 PM
[Markets] How U.S. trade deficit reflects an economy recovering faster than others How U.S. trade deficit reflects an economy recovering faster than others Published:12/29/2021 1:32:30 PM
[Markets] Dow aims for record close Wednesday in final week of 2021, Nasdaq trades lower U.S. stocks edge mostly higher Wednesday afternoon, but with some selling in tech and climbing Treasury yields weighing down the Nasdaq Composite Index. Published:12/29/2021 1:32:30 PM
[Markets] Market Snapshot: Dow aims for record close Wednesday in final week of 2021, Nasdaq trades lower U.S. stocks edge mostly higher Wednesday afternoon, but with some selling in tech and climbing Treasury yields weighing down the Nasdaq Composite Index.
Published:12/29/2021 1:32:30 PM
[Markets] Biden & Putin To Hold Urgent Thursday Call Over Ukraine Crisis Biden & Putin To Hold Urgent Thursday Call Over Ukraine Crisis

Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are expected to hold an urgent phone call Thursday, expected for evening Russia time, which marks the second such call in less than a month amid ratcheting Ukraine tensions, with the Kremlin accused of amassing some 100,000 troops near the border. 

During the prior early December phone call Biden warned Putin of "sever consequences" for any incursion into Eastern Ukraine. But now things may have cooled slightly, given the US and Russia are expected to hold a January 10 meeting to discuss Russia's security proposals to halt NATO's eastward expansion.

Biden is at his home in Delaware just ahead of the New Year's holiday. He's expected in the Thursday call to engage Putin on "a range of topics, including upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia," according to a spokesperson for the National Security Council.

"The Biden administration continues to engage in extensive diplomacy with our European allies and partners, consulting and coordinating on a common approach in response to Russia's military build-up on the border with Ukraine," the Wednesday statement added. 

The Russian side also confirmed the planned call, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying, "Indeed, Putin’s phone call with the US president is scheduled for late tomorrow evening."

Meanwhile in Tuesday remarks, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Moscow won't back down from its unwavering position

"Our leadership has repeatedly said we can no longer tolerate the situation that is developing in the immediate vicinity of our borders. We cannot tolerate NATO expansion. We will not just prevent it. We will put a stop to it," Ryabkov said.

He told Interfax news agency that Russia country will enter the Jan.10 negotiations with "a clear agenda and reject any attempts by US diplomats to dilute the proposed agreement between the two parties," according to state media.

He emphasized that Russia will not compromise on its red lines as spelled out in the draft documents submitted in prior days to Brussels and Washington: "We should not come up with some kind of dimensionless agenda when it is in our interest to include topics that have long been sorted out through other channels. We have to focus exclusively on the two draft documents that we have presented."

The last Biden-Putin call was held Dec.7 - where Biden reportedly agreed to pursue lower level talks on Putin's requested "legal guarantees" over NATO expansion. In particular the Kremlin also wants to see Brussels' prior  "promises" that Ukraine and Georgia would be put on a path to NATO membership rescinded. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/29/2021 - 14:24
Published:12/29/2021 1:32:30 PM
[Markets] The Dow continued its holiday rally but the S&P 500 slipped from its record high The Dow continued its holiday rally but the S&P 500 slipped from its record high Published:12/28/2021 6:25:22 PM
[Markets] The Tell: Why 10-year Treasury yields are likely to top out at 2% in 2022, says this fixed-income strategist Demand for bonds from an aging global population and another year of bullishness around U.S. stock are two reasons why LPL Financial expects 10-year Treasury yields to climb only modestly to 1.75% to 2% in 2022.
Published:12/28/2021 6:25:22 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Stock Market Rally Pauses; Tesla, Google, Meta Near Trend Line Buy Points If you already added significant exposure in the last few days, you may want to stand pat. There's no need to make massive new bets. Published:12/28/2021 6:25:22 PM
[Markets] Goldman's Head Of Hedge Fund Coverage: The Inconvenient Truth Is That The Era Of "Iressponsible Bullishness" Is Over Goldman's Head Of Hedge Fund Coverage: The Inconvenient Truth Is That The Era Of "Iressponsible Bullishness" Is Over

As excerpted from from the weekly markets/macro comment by Tony Pasquariello, Global Head of Hedge Fund Coverage at Goldman Sachs

I went back and read a batch of emails that I sent over the course of this year. it’s a humbling exercise, but I think valuable -- it illustrates the broad direction of things, as well as how much noise, clutter and emotion we absorb along the way. in the doing, you also realize what gets traction (references to coffee, baseball trivia and my grandparents 1) and what doesn’t land quite as well (you’re tired of New England sports references, I know). In the end, we should give thanks, as 2021 will go down as one of those extraordinary years, certainly in the US: record M&A ... record new issue ... record retail activity ... all-time highs in the equity market, the housing market and the digital space ... long may it run.

some parting thoughts on 2021:

1. the year began with a marriage of fiscal and monetary policies the likes of which the world had never seen; the year ends with a potentially failed BBB bill and a central bank that’s quickly getting out of the bond buying business. I’ll get into the implications of this shift in the 2022 section.

2. looking back, despite so much intoxication at the time, it’s notable how many things topped out in Q1 -- not only in the reflation foot race (the high close on 10-year note yields was 1.74% on March 31st), but also in highly valued tech names (see GSXUNPTC), the renewables space (GSXURNEW) and SPACs (GSCBSPC1). in a way, it’s remarkable that Q1 marked peak exuberance, yet the broader market continued to make higher highs for many months thereafter; again, this is largely to the credit of the US mega cap tech names, who yet again beat the pants off most every other item on the global menu.

3. what to say of COVID? it faded, at times, from the market narrative, but kept coming back in problematic ways. I’ll go back to a comment from July on Delta, which hopefully proves to be a cut-and-paste for Omicron: “to this point in the local move I'd argue the role of the variants has one been of concern around economic impingement -- relative to very high growth expectations -- rather than a game change; as we look ahead, the UK reopening experience could be the perfect stress test for whether stocks should discount something more than that.”

4. the year featured a painful disjunction between “the stock market” and “the market of stocks.” you don’t need me to say it, but I can’t recall a year where headline market returns so hugely belied the difficulty of managing professional, levered funds along the path. even before you consider that S&P has added nearly 1,000 index points this year on a Sharpe Ratio that approaches 2.0, here’s an overly simple way to frame it: if you take the YTD total return of the GS Hedge Fund VIP basket ... and you triple it ... you still fall short of S&P 500.

5. if there was ever a doubt about who wields power in the stock market, the US retail investor stole the show in 2021. following a year that saw more inflows than the prior 25 years combined, to what extent this cohort remains in the fight is a major open question for early 2022. in general, for financial actors of all stripes -- households, corporations, sovereigns, your alma mater -- I tend to think one of the big unknowns for next year is simply: where does all the capital go?

6. on many days, the options market overpowered the underlying cash equity market. whether it was short-dated upside gamma grabbed by retail investors on their favorite single stocks, or record demand for index protection by professional investors, at various turns we saw the clear footprints of plain old calls and puts on the broader market. to recall a line from the great Emanuel Derman: “the central dogma of derivatives is that causality flows from underliers to derivatives, but that hasn’t been true for a long time.”

7. in January of this year, headline CPI registered +1.4% y/y ... the last print was +6.8% ... and, it’s not crazy to think that number will be upwards of 7% come January. if you had told me at the start of the year how the inflation narrative would pan out, I certainly wouldn’t have predicted 10-year note yields of just 1.48% ... nor that gold would be -- gasp -- down 6% ... and, if I’m being honest, I don’t think I would have predicted that S&P would make a high over 4700. I’ll again reference a quote from Morgan Housel: “we think about and are taught about money in ways that are too much like physics (with rules and laws) and not enough like psychology (with emotions and nuance). physics isn’t controversial. it’s guided by laws. finance is different. it’s guided by people’s behaviors.”

Thinking ahead to 2022:

1. the big ball: the setup for risk taking is changing. I can no longer stand up and say that the outlook for growth is totally spectacular ... nor can I say that both fiscal and monetary policy is utterly unbounded. so, the inconvenient truth is we’ve passed the near-perfect points of peak activity and peak liquidity. and, when you go from that remarkable brew to something, well, “less great” or “different,” I think it has to matter to asset markets -- particularly when the base line is the COVID era produced a Sharpe ratio on 60/40 portfolios which is 3x the long-term average. at the very least, it’s harder to see the upside tail as clearly from here, therefore the era of “irresponsible bullishness” is probably over for now.

2. following an era where the total return of S&P has been positive in 12 of the past 13 years, does that mean it’s game over for the bull market? with appreciation for the prior point and a lowering of expectations, I’m not inclined to ditch Old Turkey just yet and I think there are still good macro fundamentals to anchor to. from here, the bull case is now predicated on the 1st derivative:

  1. financial conditions are still ridiculously, if inappropriately, easy -- note that US 10yr real rates are 15bps lower today than they were before the PFE news last year;
  2. the underlying economy retains significant strength into next year, and a +3.5% GDP forecast is still well above-trend;
  3. if S&P earnings growth 8% next year, the index has significant underlying ballast.
Tyler Durden Tue, 12/28/2021 - 19:20
Published:12/28/2021 6:25:22 PM
[Markets] Coronavirus Update: Briefer isolation periods on the table for those with COVID Coronavirus Update: Briefer isolation periods on the table for those with COVID Published:12/27/2021 1:23:49 PM
[Markets] Ashley Biden's Diary: Will The FBI Raid The New York Times? Ashley Biden's Diary: Will The FBI Raid The New York Times?

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

The Christmas Eve order for the New York Times to return confidential legal material from the conservative publication, Project Veritas, has led many to decry the imposition of a “prior restraint” on the media. I joined in expressing those concerns about courts preventing a news publication and then ordering the return of material sent by a source. That issue will be now be addressed in the courts. One question, however, remains:  when will the FBI raid the home of New York Times publisher, A.G. Sulzberger?

That is what the Justice Department did when Project Veritas was given the diary of President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley – the subject of the New York Times story. They raided the home and seized the confidential communications of the founder of Project Veritas, James O’Keefe, as well as others associated with this publication.

Of course, Project Veritas is hardly popular with many in the media as an outfit known for ambush journalism. Yet, both publications were given stolen or abandoned confidential material. The difference in response appears based on source of the material and the political orientation of the publication. Ashley Biden’s diary was deemed a federal issue of such importance that the Administration conducted highly intrusive searches and seizures targeting a publisher. Conversely, the New York Times obtained core attorney-client material that was unlawfully taken from Project Veritas.

What is most striking is that the New York Times story is an attack on both core media and legal values. In his opinion, Judge Charles Wood describes how the New York Times was given the legal memos of PV counsel Benjamin Barr. The memos sound like typical legal analysis for a news organization in explaining the legal standards that would apply in possibly publishing material from the Ashley Biden diary.

I have worked both sides in media cases over three decades and I have written memos on the legal considerations for publication. Often these memos talk about how far a publication can go under existing law. That appears to be the tenor of the Barr memo. The New York Times clearly has a long line of such memos on the publication of classified or stolen material and would cry foul if those were stolen and published. The Times described the memos as providing “legal advice about how different PV operations could violate various laws, including the Espionage Act and Section 1001. The memos give guidance about how PV can remain in Mr. Barr’s view, on the right side of these laws.”

So the New York Times wants to publish the legal advice given to another publication on how to stay “on the right side” of federal laws. There is no concern how such reporting undermines the ability of reporters and lawyers to work in this field. In decades as a legal commentator, law professor, and lawyer in this area, I have never seen such an intrusion into this area of confidential communications of a news organization by another news organization.

Putting aside the horrendous judgment of the New York Times, the story returns us to the glaring contradiction with the Ashley Biden story. While one could debate the news value of the legal memos, the contents of the diary would be considered newsworthy under current torts standards governing civil liability. Like her brother Hunter, Ashley has struggled with addiction and the diary recounts that struggle of someone who would constitute a “public figure” under defamation law. While PV declined to publish the material, the content of the diary was published by conservative sites, which quoted from alleged passages where Ashley referred to “inappropriate” showers with her father. She also allegedly asked herself the question “Have I been abused?” and replied with “I think so.”

Of course, if the passages do not exist, it reveals a clear effort to falsely accuse the president, which is itself news. Indeed, one would expect a defamation lawsuit to be filed at this point. As with the Hunter laptop, Biden lawyers have refused to acknowledge the authenticity of such accounts or the diary itself.

Moreover, the New York Times itself acknowledged that Ashley Biden left her diary with some clothes in a house in Delray, Florida when she moved to Philadelphia.  Conversely, the legal memos were marked confidential and, if opposing counsel were ever given such material in litigation, a court would order the return of the material.

According to the Times, on Oct. 16, 2020, Project Veritas wrote to then candidate Joe Biden and his campaign that it had obtained a diary Ms. Biden “abandoned” and wanted to question Mr. Biden on camera about its contents. The letter did not threaten publication of the diary (which PV had already declined) but added “should we not hear from you by Tuesday, October 20, 2020, we will have no choice but to act unilaterally and reserve the right to disclose that you refused our offer to provide answers to the questions raised by your daughter.”

That line was declared to be part of “extortionate effort to secure an interview” and one of his lawyers, Roberta Kaplan (who represented ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo), wrote “[t]his is insane; we should send to SDNY.” Shortly thereafter Ms. Biden’s lawyers alerted prosecutors at the United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which dutifully turned this into a federal investigation.

But compare the line from the New York Times email on November 11, 2021, telling O’Keefe that it planned to publish the contents and asking for a response. Unlike PV, it expressly stated that it was going to publish the contents of the stolen confidential memos and gave PV a date to respond. According to the court, it then “without waiting until the stated time…the Times published on its website full copies of the privileged legal memoranda.”

That however was not viewed as “extortionate” and the unlawful removal of confidential material was not  viewed as a basis for an investigation by the SDNY of a publication just six miles away in Manhattan.

The many questions in these cases should be answered by both the Justice Department and the media. For the FBI, the concern is whether it is now acting like a type of Praetorian Guard for the First Family. For the media, the concern is that some outlets are now acting like a type of state media for the Biden Administration.

In the end, I would oppose a raid on the Sulzberger home just as I opposed the raid on the O’Keefe home. However, Sulzberger really had no reason to worry even after the O’Keefe raid. That is precisely the problem.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/27/2021 - 14:10
Published:12/27/2021 1:23:49 PM
[Markets] The Margin: Ring in the New Year wearing N95 masks: ‘A simple one-layer cloth mask does not provide nearly enough protection’ A cloth mask is better than no mask, but N95, KN95 and KF94 masks are better protection against omicron, experts say
Published:12/27/2021 1:23:49 PM
[Markets] The $1 Pizza Slice Is Rapidly Vanishing From Manhattan The $1 Pizza Slice Is Rapidly Vanishing From Manhattan

Just like when Dollar Tree was forced to 'Break the Buck' by raising prices on some goods past the titular $1 mark, another "milestone" has been reached as inflationary pressures drive prices of everything - but especially food - higher.

The NY Times reported Tuesday that a growing number of Manhattan's $1 cheese pizza slice vendors. For many, that price has held for two decades due to the fiercely competitive nature of the Manhattan market, even where the economics have long since put a stop to $1 slices.

Because of its durability over the years, the dollar slice has - for some - become a symbol of the strangely egalitarian life of being a New Yorker, where billionaires, homeless men, students and construction workers are all thrown in together, and where almost everybody at times resorts to a cheap slice on the go.

The owner of the 2 Bros' chain, Mohammad Abdul, is now reportedly agonizing over whether to raise prices for the first time since opening in 2001. For those who are unfamiliar with 2 Bros', it's the biggest player in the $1 slice market, and its shops are visible across the borough. Interestingly, the city's dollar-slice culture really "took off" after the 2008 financial crisis.

The situation for the dollar-slice joints is further complicated by the fact that pizza-related businesses have been hugely successful during the pandemic. But the inflation situation has created problems in the lowest-cost vendors, some of whom have closed up shop.

As we reported, the pace of inflation was the fastest in November than it has been in decades, with the headline CPI number surpassing 6%. And restaurant prices in the New York area last month saw prices rise at the fastest rate since 1987.

The NYT goes on to explain that inflationary pressures have fallen especially hard on pizza vendors. A severe drought in parts of the US and Canada decimated wheat crops, driving up flour prices. And worker shortages at meat-processing plants led to higher prices for pepperoni. Pizzeria owners buying canned tomatoes from Italy or red chile flakes from India also face higher shipping costs, in many cases being passed on by wholesalers.

A surge in demand for packaging materials, plus a lapse in production from the winter freeze in Texas early this year, has also caused prices on packaging materials, napkins, paper plates and plastic cutlery to surge.

A winter freeze in Texas earlier this year curtailed the production of resin, a raw ingredient in plastic straws and packaging materials like shrink wrap. And in perhaps the biggest shortage of all for pizzerias, reliance on food delivery during the pandemic prompted a surge in demand and increased prices for pizza boxes, paper plates and takeout containers.

One point of relief is that prices for processed cheese, typically the biggest food cost for any pizzeria, have actually fallen. The average block cheese prices are down from last year’s unusually high peaks. Cheese prices have been for years propped up by government subsidies to help dairy producers. But the Department of Agriculture is already forecasting that prices will rise next year.

Because of the stable cheese prices, 2 Bros is still charging $1 for a cheese slice at six of its nine locations. But newer stores have raised prices to $1.50.

So far, these businesses have survived during the pandemic largely due to discounted rents from landlords.

Rents for residential properties have come roaring back already this year. Commercial rents (like those needed by $1 slice businesses) have been the hardest hit.

How much longer until these pressures finally make the $1 slice extinct?

Tyler Durden Sun, 12/26/2021 - 20:00
Published:12/26/2021 7:43:48 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Newswires: Singapore eases some omicron-related restrictions Singapore eased some omicron variant-related restrictions after international evidence showed the variant is more transmissible but less severe than the delta variant.
Published:12/26/2021 7:43:47 PM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Santa Claus gives you attractive odds of a stock market rally The post-Christmas period represents the confluence of three powerful seasonal patterns.
Published:12/26/2021 1:15:48 PM
[Markets] UK Mulls Door-To-Door Vaccination Squads UK Mulls Door-To-Door Vaccination Squads

The UK is considering a plan to send door-to-door vaccinations squads to the homes of unvaccinated Britons in an effort to reach an estimated five million people who haven't taken the jab, according to the Daily Mail.

(Gareth Fuller/PA)

The initiative has been discussed by the Department of Health, NHS England and No. 10 over the past week as part of a nationwide drive to send vaccine teams into areas which have the lowest vaccination rates - and are floating it as an alternative to lockdowns and other restrictions, as well as a solution to 'encourage' vaccination in rural areas or households where people cannot easily travel to a vax center.

"I think anything that encourages the vaccine-hesitant is sensible," said one Cabinet Minister, who then warned: "The mood in the country is hardening against people who refuse to be vaccinated."

In other words, get vaxxed despite the fact that Omicron laughs at the vaccine, and hardly anyone has died of it.

This comes as SAGE warned the UK is about to be hit by a large wave of Covid hospitalisations and the peak could be even higher than last winter despite the reduced severity of Omicron.

In minutes from a meeting on December 23 published last night, the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned that the peak on hospital admissions 'may be comparable to or higher than previous peaks' – including the second wave in January.

But MPs and hospitality bosses have warned Boris Johnson not to bring in new restrictions before New Year's Eve or risk 'devastating' businesses. -Daily Mail

While Boris Johnson and crew have said there are no plans to close schools in January, there has been pushback at any hint of lockdowns or other restrictions.

"I am all in favour of free choice but there comes a point when you cannot lock up 90 per cent of the country who are vaccinated for the ten per cent who refuse to be."

NHS England's vaccination push continued throughout Christmas day - while over 220,000 first doses of the vaccine administered in the week leading up to Dec. 21, a 46% jump over the previous week. First doses jumped in the 18-24 year-old age bracket by 85%, and 71% in 25 to 30-year-olds - which Health Secretary Sajid Javid called 'excellent.'

Tyler Durden Sun, 12/26/2021 - 13:45
Published:12/26/2021 1:15:48 PM
[Markets] Pandemic puts a damper on another Christmas Eve around the world Pandemic puts a damper on another Christmas Eve around the world Published:12/25/2021 8:22:51 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Santa Claus gives you attractive odds of a stock market rally The post-Christmas period represents the confluence of three powerful seasonal patterns.
Published:12/25/2021 8:22:51 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Santa Claus Rally Comes Early As Tesla Surges, These 5 Stocks Flash Buy Signals The Santa Claus rally came early this year. Tesla surged, while AMD led stocks flashing buy signals. Here's what to do now. Published:12/25/2021 8:22:51 AM
[Markets] 'New Normal' Christmas Wishes In 2021 'New Normal' Christmas Wishes In 2021

Authored by 'Glock-n-Load' via The Burning Platform,

To all my Conservative friends:

Merry Christmas! And a Happy New Year!

To Liberals/Progressives:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2022, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great.

Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only “America” in the Western Hemisphere.

Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes. 

*  *  *

Enjoy the day.

Tyler Durden Sat, 12/25/2021 - 09:15
Published:12/25/2021 8:22:51 AM
[Markets] Stocks enjoy a Santa Claus rally Thursday to end a holiday-shortened week Stocks enjoy a Santa Claus rally Thursday to end a holiday-shortened week Published:12/24/2021 3:23:24 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Newswires: China Mobile exercises greenshoe option amid high demand for Shanghai offering China Mobile Ltd. has exercised the greenshoe option in its blockbuster Shanghai offering, issuing an additional 126.9 million shares amid high investor demand.
Published:12/24/2021 3:23:24 AM
[Markets] Asian markets follow Wall Street slightly higher as omicron fears ease Asian stock markets rose Friday after Wall Street hit a new high as fears of the coronavirus's omicron variant eased. Published:12/24/2021 3:23:24 AM
[Markets] The Inevitability Of Kamala Harris The Inevitability Of Kamala Harris

Authored by Luke Thompson via SpectatorWorld.com,

I come neither to bury Kamala nor to praise her...

Commentary on her vice presidency is polarized. Harris’s well-known praise chorus is completely deranged. True, she is the first woman to become vice president, and only the second “person of color,” to use a term in vogue. These are historic achievements to those who understand history through the thick lens of demographic taxonomy.

True, also, Harris has over the last year shown a near-total lack of the political skill generally needed to make a serious run at the presidency. She has been given large projects and failed to advance the administration’s goals. She has not improved as a speaker and comes across as indifferent, haughty and detached. Her approval ratings lag even those of her feckless boss. Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg — mediocrity made flesh — labors to supplant her as heir apparent with surprising brazenness.

Nonetheless, just as Harris’s chromosomes and skin color will not win her the White House, nor will her weaknesses as a candidate doom her to the political sideline should Joe Biden forego a 2024 reelection run. Kamala Harris remains the person most likely to win her party’s nomination in a post-Biden world, for reasons not reducible to the familiarity that comes from four years in the vice presidency.

The White House, it would seem, has realized this. The last week has seen a well-executed rollout of Kamala puff pieces, launched on Monday with dueling profiles — one schmaltz and one serious — in the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times. These were followed by a CBS News piece lavishing her with praise for her heretofore unknown role in getting the bipartisan infrastructure bill across the finish line.

As I wrote at The Spectator in July 2020, picking Harris to be VP showed concerns with the “here and now” of winning the presidential campaign rather than the governing that came later. A year into his presidency, Biden appears to be waking up to the difficult reality that pick created. Harris comes from the Democratic heartland, can tie together, however loosely, the major voting blocs of her party, enjoys an institutional position that gives her structural advantages over her prospective rivals, and will thus almost certainly be Biden’s successor should he exit, mumbling, stage left in 2024.

There has never been a state with the influence over a single party that California exerts over the Democrats today. Nearly one in eight Americans resides in the Golden State, which went to both Clinton and Biden nearly two-to-one. Culturally, California calls the tune for affluent white liberals and progressives. Materially, its major industries — entertainment, tech, finance, public sector unions and renewable energy — fund and backstop Democratic campaigns. Only mid-century New York compares, but whereas the Empire State exercised outsized influence in both parties because it would swing between them, California is a Republican afterthought even though the GOP House leader hails from Bakersfield.

So long as she controls California, Harris can make life very difficult for any prospective challengers seeking volunteers, operatives and dollars. If, as seems likely, Democrats demote the Iowa caucuses and give Nevada the first presidential nominating contest, having a political infrastructure in neighboring California will only become more, not less, valuable.

The Democratic bench, already so desperately thin that Mayor Milquetoast is viewed as a plausible standard-bearer, looks even thinner when one turns southward. To put the matter bluntly, even if they do not love her, who could win Southern black voters away from Kamala Harris in a Democratic primary? Warren? No. Klobuchar? C’mon. Buttigieg? No way. Mitch Landrieu will enjoy fawning Morning Joe coverage, but it will make no difference to the eventual implausibility of his candidacy.

Finally, Biden’s own political incentives help Harris. Even if Joe decides tomorrow to forego reelection, he’ll keep the decision a secret for as long as possible. Making himself a lame duck any earlier than necessary would bury his effectiveness in office. As a result, Biden will freeze the field by giving every indication of running for reelection even if he has no intention of following through on the threat. No other Democrat can ramp up a large political apparatus without appearing to be challenging Biden as the incumbent.

Harris, by contrast, enjoys institutional benefits by virtue of her position. She can fly around the country, hold political rallies nominally for her own reelection as vice president, and keep close tabs on the Democratic Party apparatus. This advantage could only be checked by the active intervention of Biden himself or, failing that, from Barack Obama, who still enjoys godlike status among Democratic primary voters. Yet Obama has no reason to intervene against Harris, who has followed his model even as she lacks his rhetorical and political skills.

And so, like it or not, Democrats ought to get used to the idea of nominating Kamala Harris if Biden doesn’t run. They’re unlikely to have much of a choice.

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/24/2021 - 00:20
Published:12/24/2021 3:23:24 AM
[Markets] Foxconn qualifies for Wisconsin tax breaks for first time Foxconn qualifies for Wisconsin tax breaks for first time Published:12/22/2021 10:22:23 PM
[Markets] Market Rally Extends Rebound As Nasdaq Faces Test; Elon Musk's Tesla Sales Aren't 'Enough' Yet The stock market rally continued Wednesday, with the Nasdaq at key levels. Tesla, Google led stocks making notable moves. Published:12/22/2021 10:22:23 PM
[Markets] Ukraine Holds Provocative Drills Using US Missiles Near Separatist Area Ukraine Holds Provocative Drills Using US Missiles Near Separatist Area

Ukraine's leaders have made it known that they want Washington to impose new biting sanctions on Russia even before any military offensive materializes. And at a moment that it appears Russia, the US, and NATO are actually ready to enter negotiations on 'security guarantees' related to NATO expansion, it appears Kiev is willing to do whatever it takes to conduct some muscle-flexing, possibly toward derailing the potential for January de-escalation talks

In what seems its most provocative move thus far, "Ukrainian military forces have conducted combat drills with U.S.-made Javelin anti-tank missiles in a conflict area with separatists in eastern Ukraine as tensions run high with Russia, Ukrainian Dom television channel said on Wednesday," Reuters reports.

Via The Drive

It should be remembered that Ukraine's receiving the Javelin missile since at least 2018 has already been a source of outrage among Moscow officials. Kiev is justifying the exercises as necessary in the face of 'Russian aggression' - given the widespread reports of some 70,000 to 90,000 Russian troops mustered across the border. 

Recent reports have suggested that Ukrainian national forces have in past months used the US-supplied javelins in combat with pro-Russian separatist forces in the Donbass region.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and his top officials have charged that the Kremlin is readying a military invasion of Eastern Ukraine by the end of January, something firmly denied by Putin. 

Interfax, meanwhile, confirmed that Russia's military held its own drills in the region on Wednesday:

Russia held its own military drills nearby, the Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday. SU-30 fighter jets and SU-24 bombers from the Black Sea Fleet did aerial refuelling exercises over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

"The flights were conducted in the sky over Crimea," Interfax quoted Russia's Black Sea Fleet as saying. Around 20 pilots practised complex flight tasks, it said, which included mid-air refuelling at altitudes ranging from 2,000 to 6,000 meters at speeds of around 600 km/h.

Also on Wednesday, Ukraine's Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov revised numbers upward regarding Russian troop estimates Kiev believes are stationed near the border. He stated that 122,000 Russian troops remain within 200 km (124 miles) from Ukraine's border.

Above: Image of one of the Wednesday test launches posted to a Ukrainian news site.

2018 Ukrainian Army test launches of the US-supplied Javelin missiles...

"As regards the number of troops directly. Today, what we see is 122,000 located at a distance of 200 km and 143,500 soldiers of the Russian Federation are at a distance of 400 km in this radius from our border," Danilov said.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/22/2021 - 23:20
Published:12/22/2021 10:22:23 PM
[Markets] : ‘Almost done’: Elon Musk sells more Tesla shares; $15 billion sold in past 7 weeks “There are still a few tranches left, but almost done," Musk tweeted Wednesday, before the latest SEC filings were made public.
Published:12/22/2021 10:22:23 PM
[Markets] Fauci on omicron: You decide how much risk to take this holiday (Barron's) Fauci on omicron: You decide how much risk to take this holiday (Barron's) Published:12/21/2021 5:24:12 PM
[Markets] Stock market news live updates: Stock futures open little changed Stock futures opened flat Tuesday evening after a recovery rally during the regular trading day, with the major equity indexes recouping some losses after three consecutive sessions of declines. Published:12/21/2021 5:24:12 PM
[Markets] : From ‘Matrix: Resurrections’ to ‘Elf’: A guide for what to stream during the holidays Our guide to new streaming movies, series and a few classics to binge on during your holiday break
Published:12/21/2021 5:24:12 PM
[Markets] Freed Missionaries Tell How They Escaped Haitian Kidnappers Freed Missionaries Tell How They Escaped Haitian Kidnappers

Authored by Beth Brelje via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Escaping captors in the middle of the night, 12 Christian Aid Ministries missionaries hiked silently through the moonlit Haitian jungle, pausing at times to pray for the direction that led to freedom.

Christian Aid Ministries hostages after they escaped captivity and before they left Haiti. (Courtesy Christian Aid Ministries)

For roughly 10 miles, they pressed forward, through thick, thorny brush: a married couple, 10-month-old baby, 3-year-old, 14-year-old girl, 15-year-old boy, four single men, and two single women.

Until now, details of their Oct. 16 kidnapping by the 400 Mawozo gang and their Dec. 15 escape could not be told, for security reasons. Even now, Christian Aid Ministries, is not releasing their names. The missionaries are from Amish, Mennonite, and other Anabaptist communities in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Ontario, Canada.

Originally, 17 missionaries were abducted while on a trip visiting an orphanage. The 400 Mawozo gang demanded $17 million and threatened to kill the hostages unless they got $1 million per person. In time they released five hostages.

First of 17 American missionary hostages to be freed in Haiti. (Courtesy Christian Aid Ministries)

Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries spokesman Weston Showalter, held a Monday press conference with details of the experience and photos of the former hostages. Details are from his speech, as told by the missionaries.

The 17 took a van to visit the orphanage, 90 minutes from mission headquarters. They arrived at 10 a.m. and stayed until about 1 p.m., using that time to interview children and look over the facility.

Shortly into their drive back, they saw a roadblock. While attempting to turn the van around, they were overtaken by kidnappers who chased them in a pickup truck. The kidnappers blocked their way, surrounded their vehicle, and took control.

The driver was removed and the others wondered if they would see him again. “As the kidnappers took over their van and drove wildly to get them to a secluded area, our workers prayed out loud and sang the song, ‘The Angel of the Lord Encampeth Round About Them,’” Showalter said.

The hostages were taken to a small house, where all 17 were placed in a small room, approximately 10 feet by 12 feet. Here they were reunited with the driver who had been taken on the road.

“They spent the first night almost sleepless with nearly no space for all of them to lie down. In this small room, there were several mattresses. Some sat up, some stood, some laid down, and everyone endured heat, mosquitoes, and uncertainty,” Showalter said. Soon their days fell into a pattern of worship in the morning with singing and praying, sometimes until noon. They were allowed to go outside during the day.

They prayed at 1 p.m. daily to be freed.

The kidnappers fed them but they faced hunger. Some foods provided included Haitian breakfast spaghetti, a half hard-boiled egg per person, corn mush, scrambled eggs, rice and beans with fish sauce, and sometimes vegetable paste. On Thanksgiving they got a traditional Haitian stew.

They were moved several times and in one location they had coconuts.

“Although they received food each day, they were often still hungry after eating what was given to them,” Showalter said. “They provided large amounts of baby food for the small children, for which we are so thankful. Babies are precious and even the guards enjoyed talking to little Laura. As you will notice in the pictures, the little children seemed to get sufficient food.”

Baby Laura, 10-months old. Freed from kidnappers in Haiti. (Courtesy Christian Aid Ministries)

The kidnapped were given basic hygiene items such as toothbrushes and toilet paper, although the supply was limited at times.

They had limited clean drinking water and bathed in severely contaminated water that caused serious sores on many missionaries. Many suffered numerous bug bites that developed into serious sores from the contaminated water.

They tried to soothe their sores by boiling water and adding ashes to it, then soaking their feet in this mixture.

In the evenings, they talked, sang, and prayed.

“In times when they faced fear and danger during the night, they prayed that God would wake believers around the world and nudge them to pray for them. And that truly did happen. On this side, we hear of people who were awakened at night with a sense of urgency to pray.”

The hostages set up an around-the-clock prayer schedule, each praying for a half-hour during the day and an hour at night. One hostage prayed in his time slot, then passed the watch to the next hostage to continue prayer.

The hostages were able to develop a sense of relationship with the hostage-takers. Our staff encouraged them to find another way to provide for themselves by working the land and using the resources that God has given,” Showalter said.

“They assured the hostage-takers of their love for their souls. They pointed them to Jesus. The hostages spoke to the gang leader on several occasions, boldly reminding him of God, and warning him of God’s eventual judgment if he and the gang members continue in their ways.”

Various hostages wanted to attempt an escape, but it took them a while to all agree on when and how. Ultimately, they unified around a plan and prayed for God to give them a sign.

On several occasions, they planned to escape, but they had decided if specific things didn’t happen, they would accept that as God’s direction to wait,” Showalter said. “Twice when they planned to escape, God gave clear signs that this was not the right time. On both occasions, on the very minute they had discussed, the exact thing took place they had requested as a sign. God was at work, but the timing was not right.”

They decided to attempt their escape the night of Wednesday, Dec. 15.

During the night, they put on their shoes and packed pouches of water in their clothes. They stacked their mattresses in a corner and prepared to leave.

“When they sensed the timing was right, they found a way to open the door that was closed and blocked, filed silently to the path they had chosen to follow, and quickly left the place they were held, despite the fact that numerous guards were close by,” Showalter said.

“In the distance, they could see a mountain feature they recognized. They had identified this landmark before and knew this was the direction to go. They also followed the sure guidance of the stars as they journeyed through the night, traveling northwest toward safety.”

Night turned to day and after hours of walking, they found someone who helped them make a phone call for help. Later that day, the Coast Guard flew them to Florida.

“As we rejoice, we also remember that many others are still waiting and praying for the release of their loved ones who are being held hostage,” Showalter said.

“Many Haitian people continued to be kidnapped. Their families struggle under the demands and threats of hostage-takers. Even if they are released they find themselves facing ongoing difficulties. We admire the resilience of the many Haitians who face difficulties with faith that God is with them.

“The hostages desire that God be glorified for the way He cared for them during their time in captivity and arranged for their deliverance,” Showalter said and emphasized the Bible verse John 8:36, “If the son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

“Freedom is not a place. Our staff members who were held hostage would confirm that. They say that despite the difficulties, they experienced freedom, even as they were being held, facing uncertainty. In their minds and in ours, the hostage-takers are the true hostages. God invites all of us, including the kidnappers, to seek and find freedom, through Jesus, from the bondage of sin.”

Tyler Durden Tue, 12/21/2021 - 18:20
Published:12/21/2021 5:24:12 PM
[Markets] Stock sentiment is bad but not bad enough to trigger buying, Mark Hulbert says Stock sentiment is bad but not bad enough to trigger buying, Mark Hulbert says Published:12/20/2021 12:22:53 PM
[Markets] "She Was A Grown Woman Who Preyed On Kids": Prosecutors Make Closing Arguments In Ghislaine Maxwell Trial "She Was A Grown Woman Who Preyed On Kids": Prosecutors Make Closing Arguments In Ghislaine Maxwell Trial

Prosecutors in the Ghislaine Maxwell underage sex-trafficking trial say that the British socialite's role within Jeffrey Epstein's empire was to "normalize sexual abuse" of vulnerable young girls who were lured into the convicted pedophile's orbit.

"She was a grown woman who preyed on kids, Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe said during closing closing statements. "She manipulated her victims and she groomed them for sexual abuse. She caused deep and lasting harm to young girls. It is time to hold her accountable."

Maxwell has been charged with grooming underage girls for sexual abuse by Epstein and his associates. If convicted, she faces up to 40 years in prison, according to Bloomberg.

Moe concluded the prosecution’s closing argument after speaking for more than two hours on Monday morning. The defense is expected to spend around two-and-a-half hours on its summation, followed by a 35-minute government rebuttal. Jurors could begin deliberating later on Monday.

The trial, originally slated to last six weeks, is coming to an end much sooner than anticipated. Last week, the defense rested after presenting nine witnesses over two days. Maxwell chose not to testify in her defense. Jurors heard from 23 witnesses for the prosecution, including four accusers who said they were subject to abuse, over the course of the prior two weeks. -Bloomberg

According to Maxwell's attorneys, US prosecutors are scapegoating her for Epstein's crimes after the wealthy pedophile died in prison while awaiting charges in 2019. Moe, however, described Maxwell and Epstein as "partners in crime" who had been together for more than a decade.

"When you’re with someone for 11 years, you know what they like," said Moe, "and Epstein liked underage girls. He liked to touch underage girls, and Maxwell knew it."

Moe said that Maxwell was "crucial to the entire scheme," adding "Epstein could not have done this alone" because a single, middle-aged man trying to recruit young girls into his home would have been "creepy" - yet accompanied by a "posh, sophisticated age-appropriate woman" caused many of Epstein's victims to lower their defenses to lure "into a trap."

Moe referenced anonymous accuser "Jane," who said she was 14 when Maxwell began inviting her to Epstein's palm beach mansion to give him massages.

"Maxwell was there acting like all of this was normal," said Moe, adding "She was doing that, trying to normalize sexual abuse."

Accuser 'Carolyn' testified that Maxwell asked another girl to "show her what to do" before sexual encounters in Epstein's massage room. According to Moe, Carolyn's testimony proves that Maxwell was well aware of what was going on.

"This is not a place for therapeutic massages," said Moe, referring to Epstein's massage room. "It is a place where Maxwell and Epstein’s victims were sexually abused."

Moe said Maxwell was particularly “dangerous” because of how she targeted victims with difficult home lives. Jane testified that she met Maxwell and Epstein at a summer camp for the arts not long after her father died. Carolyn had described growing up with an inattentive, alcoholic mother.

She targeted a girl whose father had just died,” the prosecutor said. “She targeted a girl who’s mother was an alcoholic. Maxwell was a sophisticated predator who knew what she was doing.

The prosecutor also highlighted Maxwell’s possible financial motive for procuring girls for Epstein. One of Epstein’s private pilots had testified how Maxwell’s financial situation seemed to improve dramatically after she “downsized” apartments following her father’s 1991 death. A JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker testified about more than $30 million Epstein transferred to Maxwell. -Bloomberg

"At this point, you’ve got to ask yourself what was Maxwell doing for Epstein worth more than $30 million?" Moe said to the jurors. "Common sense tells you you don’t give someone $30 million unless they’re giving you exactly what you want. And what Epstein wanted was to touch underage girls."

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/20/2021 - 12:59
Published:12/20/2021 12:22:53 PM
[Markets] Dow tumbles over 600 points as omicron fears ignite fresh selling to start abbreviated Christmas week U.S. stock indexes trade sharply lower Monday, as the fast-spreading omicron variant raises fresh questions about the outlook for the global economy. Published:12/20/2021 12:22:53 PM
[Markets] Washington Watch: Biden’s EPA targets emissions with higher fuel standards as fate of climate-focused Build Back Better uncertain The Biden administration has announced the strongest rules yet for vehicle fuel efficiency.
Published:12/20/2021 12:22:53 PM
[Markets] No live audience for ‘Saturday Night Live’ tonight amid reported virus outbreak No live audience for ‘Saturday Night Live’ tonight amid reported virus outbreak Published:12/19/2021 7:24:30 AM
[Markets] Retire Better: Social Security, healthcare, taxes, savings: Key numbers for Americans to remember in 2022 The pressure is on for older Americans
Published:12/19/2021 7:24:30 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Why This Market Rally Is So Dangerous; Omicron Fears Growth As Lockdowns Return The market rally is chopping up investors financially and mentally, Omicron fears are growing and lockdowns returning Published:12/19/2021 7:24:30 AM
[Markets] Moderna's COVID Vaccine 4 Times More Likely To Cause Heart Inflammation Than Pfizer's: Study Moderna's COVID Vaccine 4 Times More Likely To Cause Heart Inflammation Than Pfizer's: Study

Authored by Mimi Nguyen Ly via The Epoch Times,

A study published in the British Medical Journal late Thursday suggests Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is up to four times more likely to cause heart inflammation—myocarditis or myopericarditis—than Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“Vaccination with [Moderna’s vaccine] was associated with a significantly increased risk of myocarditis or myopericarditis in the Danish population,” and the rate was “threefold to fourfold higher” with the Moderna vaccine compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, authors said in the study, which spanned almost 85 percent of Danes, or 4.9 million people aged 12 and older.

The increased risk of myocarditis or myopericarditis with the Moderna vaccine was “primarily driven by an increased risk among individuals aged 12-39 years,” said the researchers, from Denmark’s Statens Serum Institute.

The population-based cohort study, published Dec. 16 in the British Medical Journal (the BMJ), also corroborated previous studies and reports such as those from Israel and the United States that say there is an increased risk of myocarditis or myopericarditis with taking the mRNA-based Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

Absolute Number of Cases ‘Low,’ Most Were ‘Mild’

Authors of the study wrote that the absolute rate of myocarditis or myopericarditis the mRNA-based vaccine “was low, even in younger age groups.

“The benefits of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination should be taken into account when interpreting these findings,” they added.

“Larger multinational studies are needed to further investigate the risks of myocarditis or myopericarditis after vaccination within smaller subgroups.”

In the study, researchers analyzed nationwide registers in Denmark that show the country’s population data on vaccination, hospital admissions, and results of laboratory assays of blood samples.

Within 28 days of vaccination, they found an absolute rate of myocarditis or myopericarditis for the Pfizer vaccine at 1.4 per 100,000 people (or about 1 case per 71,400), and for the Moderna vaccine at 4.2 per 100,000 people (or about 1 case per 23,800), according to the study results.

Most of the cases were “predominantly mild,” the authors wrote.

They noted that Pfizer’s vaccine “was only associated with a significantly increased risk among women,” which contrasts with results of studies from Israel and the United States. The discrepancy could be explained by the average age of the vaccinated population, the time span between the first and second shot, or because fewer Danes had tested positive for COVID-19, they said.

The authors also noted that the Pfizer vaccine was found “to be significantly associated with myocarditis or myopericarditis event when using a narrowed 14 day time window.”

In a statement, study author Anders Hviid said the findings of the study “do not generally overshadow the many benefits that come with being vaccinated.”

He added, “One must keep in mind that the alternative of getting an infection with COVID-19 probably also involves a risk of inflammation in the heart muscle.”

The researchers said they found both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were associated with around a 50 percent reduced risk of cardiac arrest or death compared with unvaccinated people.

The observational study cannot establish any causal relationships, and there may be some sources of bias, such as increased public awareness of potential side effects of the mRNA-based vaccines that may have affected the results, the authors said.

In the United States, vaccine manufacturers are immune from liability for any adverse reactions unless there’s “willful misconduct” involved.

Health care providers who administer COVID-19 vaccines are required by law to report any serious adverse effects or vaccination administration errors to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Tyler Durden Sun, 12/19/2021 - 08:10
Published:12/19/2021 7:24:30 AM
[Markets] Appeals court clears Biden employer vaccine mandate to take effect Appeals court clears Biden employer vaccine mandate to take effect Published:12/18/2021 2:24:20 AM
[Markets] Cathie Wood says stocks have corrected into ‘deep value territory’ and won’t let benchmarks ‘hold our strategies hostage’ ARK Invest founder Cathie Wood offers the latest defense of once-highflying, disruptive innovation strategies that had made her the toast of Wall Street in 2020. Published:12/18/2021 2:24:20 AM
[Markets] The Tell: Cathie Wood says stocks have corrected into ‘deep value territory’ and won’t let benchmarks ‘hold our strategies hostage’ ARK Invest founder Cathie Wood offers the latest defense of once-highflying, disruptive innovation strategies that had made her the toast of Wall Street in 2020.
Published:12/18/2021 2:24:20 AM
[Markets] Is This The Beginning Of The End For Gun Control? Is This The Beginning Of The End For Gun Control?

Submitted by The Machine Gun Nest (TMGN).,

If you haven't heard yet, Firearms Policy Coalition has filed what may be one of the most critical petitions for writ of certiorari for Marylanders and possibly gun owners in general in the case Bianchi v. Frosh. 

The case itself centers around the Maryland "Assault Weapons Ban" (AWB), also known as SB281 or the Firearms Safety Act of 2013. 

But before we dive into the law itself, let's look at the question being proposed to the Supreme Court in this writ of certiorari. The question presented is: "Whether the Constitution allows the government to prohibit law-abiding, responsible citizens from protecting themselves, their families, and their homes with a type of "Arms" that are in common use for lawful purposes?"

The way this question is asked, we can see that if decided in favor of gun owners, the overturning of the Maryland AWB would be an unprecedented victory for gun owners nationwide. A Repudiation of assault weapon bans would free states like California, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey from their tyrannical state governments who've imposed their versions of this "Assault Weapon Ban." FPC's Adam Kraut affirmed that position saying, "This case presents the Court with an ideal vehicle to both address the scope of protected arms and constitutionally infirm analysis applied by these recalcitrant lower courts."

The petition correctly describes the term "Assault Weapons" as a "pejorative and inaccurate label for a category of common semi-automatic firearms." Then quoting directly from Heller goes on to describe those same firearms as "in common use" and "typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes."

Maryland's AWB is an assortment of inconsistent rules and regulations thought up by bureaucrats in Annapolis who have little understanding of firearms they seek to regulate. A few examples of inconsistencies: AK pattern rifle chambered in 7.62x39? Banned. AK pattern rifle chambered in 5.45x39? Good to go. AK Pistol in 7.62x39? Good to go. The only difference between the banned rifle and pistol? The stock.

It also bans the AR15 and other "Scary" looking rifles but allows AR15s that conform to a Heavy Barrel Profile, or HBAR. It also allows for rifles that are functionally identical to the AR15, like the Ruger Mini 14.

Ultimately, we won't know if the Supreme Court will hear the case until sometime in 2022, as The Supreme Court will hear it in their 2022 session. But the chances are good for the Court to take this case up. Many of the Justices have signaled that they're ready to hear 2nd Amendment cases. If the recent NYSRPA v. Bruen is any indication, we will likely see them tackle more gun rights issues that have far-reaching implications.

Also, the makeup of the Court has changed in recent years. With the addition of Amy Comey Barrett replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court has a solid conservative majority. As lower court judges, Justice Barrett and Justice Kavanaugh signaled they think courts need to rethink the framework used to often measure how gun regulations are evaluated. This framework is known as "Intermediate Scrutiny." 

When intermediate scrutiny is applied, a law has more of a chance to survive legal challenges because the government must prove only that it is "substantially related to an important government interest."

This intermediate scrutiny clause is what has kept not only the Maryland Assault Weapon ban in place but many other AWBs nationwide. If the Justices are looking for a case that has far-reaching consequences for the 2nd Amendment and the process by which states uphold these unconstitutional laws, they need look no further than Bianchi v. Frost.

This is why I posed the question: "Is this the beginning of the end for gun control?"

In our coverage of gun control issues over the past year, we've seen a clear pathway that the anti-gun lobby is taking. Using the NFA, 1968 GCA, FOPA, and other gun control laws on the books, they've managed to ban Bump Stocks and inch closer and closer to regulating semi-automatic firearms under the NFA or outright ban them. This Case, Bianchi v. Frost, would put a significant roadblock in front of that.

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/17/2021 - 23:55
Published:12/18/2021 2:24:20 AM
[Markets] Cannabis Watch: Investors in cannabis companies burned by stock-market losses in 2021 even as the pot business grows Cannabis stocks turned in a weak performance in 2021 but the sector continues to grow as more U.S. states add to the adult-use market.
Published:12/16/2021 9:23:00 PM
[Markets] Judge throws out OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma's sweeping bankruptcy settlement Judge throws out OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma's sweeping bankruptcy settlement Published:12/16/2021 9:23:00 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: What The Tech Sell-Off Means For The Market Rally; Rivian Dives, FedEx Rises Late Apple, Tesla led a market sell-off right after Wednesday's rally. FedEx, Rivian were earnings movers. Published:12/16/2021 9:23:00 PM
[Markets] US Offers $35 Million Prize To Aid Capture Of Drugmakers From China, Mexico US Offers $35 Million Prize To Aid Capture Of Drugmakers From China, Mexico

Authored by Eva Fu via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. State Department is offering up to $35 million for information that could lead to the arrests of seven drug dealers from China and Mexico, in an effort to curb fentanyl and other illicit drugs from flooding into the United States.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa commercial facility seized more than 3,100 pounds of methamphetamine, fentanyl powder, fentanyl pills and heroin as part of the second largest methamphetamine bust along the southwest border in the history of the agency, based on information developed by DEA, working jointly with HSI, on Oct. 9, 2020. (DEA)

The announcement came right after President Joe Biden on Dec. 15 signed two new executive orders, declaring international drug trafficking a national emergency and establishing a U.S. council on transnational organized crime to unite six agencies to counter the illicit drug trade. The Department will award up to $5 million for information on each of the seven drug traffickers.

One of the seven individuals named was Chinese national Yip Chuen Fat, who the Justice Department has recognized as “one of the world’s largest alleged anabolic steroid producers.”

Prosecutors announced federal charges against Yip on Tuesday. The 68-year-old, believed to be from the Chinese city of Wuhan, was slapped with five drug crimes charges in 2018, including manufacturing anabolic steroids and fentanyl precursors for export to the United States, according to the Justice Department.

Court documents identified him as the owner of a chemical manufacturing company called Yuancheng (YC) Group, which is allegedly responsible for producing and distributing around $280 million worth of anabolic steroids from mainland China and Hong Kong. About one-fifth of the amount was shipped to the United States over a five-year period, prosecutors said.

The YC Group allegedly shipped the contraband to all 50 U.S. states through cargo vessels and commercial air carriers such as the U.S. Postal Service, concealing shipments in food and other product packagings.

In November, prosecutors obtained a warrant to seize more than 49.1 bitcoin, worth $2.3 million, from a crypto wallet that traced back to Yip. He allegedly uses virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, to conduct his business.

Over 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses during the 12-month period ending April, a jump of 28.5 percent from last year, according to data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month. Synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, a drug 100 times more potent than morphine, accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total.

Despite Beijing banning fentanyl and its analogs in 2019, China has remained the primary source of illicit fentanyl in the United States.

To circumvent regulations, Chinese traffickers have increasingly taken to exporting precursors to Mexican cartels, who would produce the drug and smuggle it across the border, a tactic Yip’s company has allegedly adopted.

The YC Group had once agreed to a scheme to ship 24 kilograms of 4-ANPP, a precursor to fentanyl, to the United States from China, which would then be smuggled to Mexico to make fentanyl and brought back into the United States.

Photos of anabolic steroids confiscated in a police bust earlier in the day stand on display at police headquarters in Berlin, Germany, on Aug. 29, 2006. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed Yip as one of its top 10 most wanted fugitives.

Yip’s alleged criminal activities “have caught up with him,” DEA’s special agent in charge Eduardo Chávez said.

“The Justice Department will pursue drug defendants to the furthest reaches of the globe if that’s what it takes to stem the tide of the drug epidemic,” said U.S. attorney Chad Meacham in a statement.

Zheng Fujing and Zheng Guanghua, father and son from China’s Shanghai, face a 43-count indictment announced in 2018 for making and shipping fentanyl and 250 other deadly substances to at least 25 countries. The drugs the Zhengs sold allegedly led to the overdose deaths of two people in Ohio.

Tyler Durden Thu, 12/16/2021 - 22:20
Published:12/16/2021 9:23:00 PM
[Markets] Dow ends up 380 points after Fed projects 3 rate hikes in 2022 Dow ends up 380 points after Fed projects 3 rate hikes in 2022 Published:12/15/2021 4:24:14 PM
[Markets] Market Extra: Will U.S. REITs beat the S&P 500 next year? Equity real-estate investment trusts in the U.S. may beat the S&P 500 index again next year, according to Wells Fargo & Co.
Published:12/15/2021 4:24:14 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Market Roars On This Fed Move; AMD, Nvidia, Lilly Flash Buy Signals The stock market raced higher Wednesday despite a surprisingly hawkish Fed. AMD and Nvidia made powerful rebounds. Published:12/15/2021 4:24:14 PM
[Markets] A Puzzled Wall Street Reacts To Powell, And The Market's Furious Melt Up A Puzzled Wall Street Reacts To Powell, And The Market's Furious Melt Up

Heading into today's FOMC, consensus was clear: anything more than 2 rates hikes in 2022, a year-end core PCE above 2.5%, and an upward shift in the 2024 dot (from 1.75%) would be viewed as clearly hawkish and would spark concern in the markets that the Fed is tightening too fast.

And yet, despite the Fed clearly hawkish pivot which among other things, also saw the retirement of the word "transitory", stocks initially sank only to soar, before closing at session highs, just above 4,700 and not too far from all time highs.

Of course, for those who have seen enough Fed days in their time, nothing that happened today was unexpected, because with sentiment heading into the 2pm announcement at rock bottom, there was only one that the market could respond: up.

And more to the point, while the market reaction was clearly downbeat after the hawkish statement, it was Powell's dovish press conference that was the real trigger...

... just as we expected it would be.

And while in retrospect, trading the Fed today was especially easy if one ignore all analytical insight and just focused on historical precedent, many financial professionals were confused as their kneejerk commentary following the Fed revealed.

Below we list some of the more notable hot takes from around Wall Street.

Mohamed A. El-Erian, Advisor to Allianz:

"A notable shift in #Fed policy that’s slightly more hawkish than consensus expectations (though somewhat less than what I think is needed). The doubling of the taper comes with an increase in the #inflation forecast and more aggressive signaling of rate hikes. Press conference key"

Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research:

“The assumption is that this outcome was largely built into equity expectations. Because the FOMC was not more hawkish, equities are breathing a sigh of relief and reversing course -- at least for now.”

Brian Coulton, chief economist at Fitch Ratings:

“This is a major pivot from the Fed, prompted by clearer evidence that inflation is broadening. ... Most significantly, inflation is described as having already exceeded 2 per cent ‘for some time’, so it looks like the Fed feels enough progress has now been made in compensating for earlier shortfalls in inflation.”

Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance:

“Although the stock market moved higher during the press-conference, the sectors leading the market higher (e.g. Utilities and Healthcare) are both very defensive sectors and indicate some concern about the future path of the economy.”

Matt Maley of Miller Tabak & Co. says this about the positive market reaction:

“It seems like people are playing ‘buy the news,’ but when the Fed gets more hawkish at a time when the stock market is as expensive as it is today, investors are playing with fire. I’d also say that some investors are taking the comment that the Fed can adjust policy further if it is warranted as saying they can become more dovish if the economy slows too quickly.”

Chris Harvey, head of equity strategy at Wells Fargo:

“We believe the initial positive equity market reaction is due to investors gaining confidence in the Fed’s willingness and ability to fight inflation. As a result they are decreasing the odds of stagflation and policy error.”

Bill Northey, U.S. Bank Wealth Management:

“It’s not uncommon following a monetary policy announcement to have some volatility. In fact, the initial direction following the announcement oftentimes is not the direction that we conclude the day with. "

Sylvia Jablonski, chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs:

“It gives me more confidence to buy on these dips off of 52 week highs. We shouldn’t forget that the economy is actually expanding, and less stimulus is needed. None of this is bad news for the market.”

Cheryl Smith, economist and portfolio manager at Trillium Asset Management

“There is still a significant difference between the unemployment rates for White and Black Americans at all levels of education and age. Further, participation rates are still well below the pre-pandemic level.”

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics:

“The upshot of these new forecasts is that the Fed has moved into line with market thinking. The key question now is the timing of the first hike. If it weren’t for Omicron, we’d expect it in March, but experience elsewhere signals that the U.S. is about to see a massive, unprecedented surge in Covid cases, with unknowable -- but likely temporary -- consequences for the economy. We think this will delay the first hike until May, with the next moves in September and December.”

Here’s Bankrate.com chief financial analyst Greg McBride:

“The Fed retired the word ‘transitory’ from their statement and gave strong indications that they’re poised to hike interest rates once they deem the labor  market to be at full employment. Definitely a more hawkish tone, and the most we have seen in some time -- similar to inflation.”

Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs

"The FOMC revised the statement to acknowledge that inflation has “exceeded 2% for some time” and removed language in the previous statement that said that “with inflation having run persistently below” 2%, it would aim to achieve inflation “moderately above 2 percent for some time” and expected to maintain an accommodative stance until that goal is achieved."

At the end of the day, the simplest explanation is probably the right one, and it is the one we showed two weeks ago, namely that the forward yield curve has already inverted (rates in 2025 are seen as lower than 2023)...

... suggesting that the market is delighted by the Fed's aggressive tightening plans because they will crash and burn and force Powell to end tightening in the near future and then immediately start the next easing cycle. In other words, the Fed's tightening cycle is over before it has even begun, and yes that means the time to frontrun the next mega bubble has arrived.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/15/2021 - 17:23
Published:12/15/2021 4:24:14 PM
[Markets] Need to Know: Why one bank expects the S&P 500 to defy Fed tightening Need to Know: Why one bank expects the S&P 500 to defy Fed tightening Published:12/14/2021 11:22:57 AM
[Markets] GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks fall, dollar rises as Omicron fears, central bank decisions loom Global shares fell on Tuesday and the U.S. dollar rose to a near one-week high as investors nervously eyed the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant and awaited numerous central bank decisions due this week. Wall Street was lower and U.S. treasuries rose across the curve after U.S. producer prices increased by more than expected in November, another data point to support views that inflation could remain uncomfortably high for some time. Major central banks meet this week, starting with the U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday, to assess the risks posed by the Omicron variant and to decide how and when to reduce pandemic-related emergency measures put in place early last year. The Fed is facing inflation that is running at more than twice its formal 2% target, and a low unemployment rate and rising wages, which may signal full employment is near. Published:12/14/2021 11:22:56 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: A tax break for charitable donations is slated to end soon — Here’s how to use it before it disappears 'The need just keeps getting greater and people are hurting out there,' said one IRS official.
Published:12/14/2021 11:22:56 AM
[Markets] They'll Use The Welfare State To Get Compliance On Vaccine Mandates They'll Use The Welfare State To Get Compliance On Vaccine Mandates

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

A Democratic state lawmaker in Illinois has introduced legislation requiring unvaccinated residents to pay out-of-pocket for healthcare services. It's all part of an effort to come up with new and creative ways to punish people who refuse to get the covid jab. WBBM Radio in Chicago reports:

[Jonathan] Carroll's legislation would amend the state's insurance code so that "a person who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and chooses not to be vaccinated shall pay for health care expenses out-of-pocket if the person becomes hospitalized because of COVID-19 symptoms."

In other words, Carroll is trying to ensure that the unvaccinated will be denied health insurance for covid treatments, even in cases where private insurance is already bought and paid for. Moreover, intervening in private insurance won't even be necessary in many cases, since one-third of the population is already receiving government-funded healthcare.

This policy is quite remarkable coming from a progressive like Carroll. After all, for decades, we've been hearing from the Left that "healthcare is a human right" and that it must be provided to anyone and everyone at taxpayer expense. Anything short of universal state subsidized healthcare, we've been told, is unacceptable. 

Yet, apparently, the mandatory vaccine advocates—found largely on the left, of course—are so obsessed with forcing mandatory vaccines on the entire population that they're now looking for ways to deny people healthcare.

But we should have seen this coming. Until recently, the Left has also claimed it wants universal employment and a "chicken in every pot." But since the Biden administration hatched the idea of tying employment to vaccines earlier this year, advocates of vaccine mandates now want to you be destitute and jobless if you refuse the jab. 

The same mandate pushers have also cleverly engineered their vaccine mandates to ensure that should you be fired for refusing the shot, you'll be ineligible for unemployment insurance. Although the mandates are being forced on employers in many cases, state policymakers have concluded that termination for refusing the vaccine constitutes being fired "for cause." This makes it possible to deny unemployment insurance to these dissenters.

(Needless to say, progressive lawmakers haven't intervened to expand the welfare state on this matter. Only GOP-controlled state governments have taken action to open unemployment insurance to vaccine dissenters.)

It turns out healthcare, jobs, and a "social safety net" aren't rights after all. Now, vaccine mandate advocates have decided both social programs and regulatory powers can be cynically employed as a means of gaining compliance from citizens.

In the United States, the federal government has been slowly building up to this for some time. For example, if mandate advocates want to pursue a "permission to work" scheme, we need look no further than the E-Verify program long pushed by anti-immigration advocates. It's a federal database designed to deny employment to people without the proper immigration paperwork. One need not be an oracle to see how similar regulatory infrastructure could be used to closely tie vaccination status to employment. 

A Backdoor "Social Credit" System Based on Vaccination Status

A lesson here is that the infrastructure of a potential medical surveillance state has already been laid down by programs and regulations that didn't have anything to do with vaccine passports.

In all this, the US is following in the footsteps of more centralized states where resources are more centrally planned.

For example, even before the covid crisis, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom had begun denying medical care to overweight patients and those who are smokers. In 2017, some state-controlled "local health committees" moved "to ban access to routine, or nonurgent, surgery under the National Health Service until patients 'improve their health.'" Given the nature of British healthcare, these patients have few options except to submit to the edicts of government health bureaucrats. Having established a near-total monopoly on healthcare in the UK, the NHS can more or less dictate who gets care and who doesn't.

Similarly, in the police state known as Singapore, the regime announced in November it will deny the state's healthcare benefits to the unvaccinated should they require medical attention.

But perhaps the most disturbing possible end game of all these types of programs is China's "social credit" system, which can be used to any number of ends.

Indeed, in some ways, the "vaccine passport" is becoming a homegrown version of China's "social credit" system in which obedience to the Chinese state serves as the measure of how many "freedoms" a Chinese citizen is allowed. As reported by the Associated Press in 2019:

Would-be air travelers were blocked from buying tickets 17.5 million times last year for "social credit" offenses including unpaid taxes and fines under a controversial system the ruling Communist Party says will improve public behavior….

Authorities have experimented with "social credit" since 2014 in areas across China. Points are deducted for breaking the law or, in some areas, offenses as minor as walking a dog without a leash.

As Eunsun Cho noted for the Journal of Public and International Affairs, the system is a "a data-powered project to monitor, assess, and shape the behavior of all citizens and enterprises." Originally designed to achieve certain economic ends, such as payment of taxes, the plan soon expanded and

once an individual is discovered to have engaged in dishonest behavior, he will face restrictions on a wide range of activities directly and indirectly related to the behavior. For instance, a failure to act upon a court judgment can lead to limitations on not only applications for government subsidies or certain professional licenses, but also sales of assets, operation of businesses, use of transportation, and consumption of luxury items.

Note that the broader purpose of the system is always obedience. Those who dissent and refuse to obey face "sanctions." The social credit system serves as a model for ongoing efforts to impose vaccine passport restrictions nationwide. The fact that the Chinese state controls pensions and employment in a wide array of industries is extremely helpful to the state. 

The Future of the Welfare State: Using "Benefits" to Gain Compliance

The growth of both the regulatory state and the welfare state have paved the way for new ways of gaining compliance on vaccines—and potentially on most everything else. We should expect to see regulatory powers used extensively in any area where these powers have already been confirmed. For example, Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia has already introduced legislation tying the "right" to travel by rail or air with vaccine compliance. 

In the US, however, limits on the police powers and regulatory powers of the federal government will likely prove to be something of an impediment in this regard. Thus, we should expect the federal government to be using financial power over government contractors and grantees—as we've already seen—to gain compliance.

But if millions of Americans also depend on government welfare checks of various sorts, then the regulatory state won't even be necessary. The regime need only hold out the carrot of "social benefits" to get what it wants. 

In this regard, potential "universal basic income" proposals could be especially helpful to the regime. A universal basic income program could be employed as a "carrot" to win over the public to all sorts of government mandates and requirements. The equation is simple. The regime need only say: "Do this thing and you'll get $1,000 per month."

This "free" money could then be tied to compliance with any number of mandates dreamed up by government agencies. When most of the population relies on the state for healthcare or a monthly check, the possibilities are virtually endless. 

Tyler Durden Tue, 12/14/2021 - 12:03
Published:12/14/2021 11:22:56 AM
[Markets] Key Words: El-Erian says Fed use of ‘transitory’ to describe inflation was its worst call ever This key observer says the Fed has never made a bigger mistake.
Published:12/13/2021 6:22:22 AM
[Markets] Pfizer Buys Pharma Rival Arena In All-Cash Deal Worth $6.7 Billion Pfizer Buys Pharma Rival Arena In All-Cash Deal Worth $6.7 Billion

Shares of Arena Pharmaceuticals have doubled in price in premarket trading after Pfizer announced that it had struck a deal to acquire its smaller rival for $100/share in a deal that values the San Deigo-based Arena at $6.7 billion. Pfizer believes it can finance the deal with cash on hand, and thanks to covid, it sure can.

Fattened up with its vaccine profits, Pfizer is clearly seizing the opportunity to put some of that money to work by diversifying and paying growth.

Investors in both companies should keep in mind that, as part of the deal, warrants will immediately cease to be outstanding and instead will be converted into the right to receive an amount in cash equal to the product of the excess, if any, of the Merger Consideration over the per-share exercise price of such of the options, multiplied by the number of shares then subject to such Company Option.

In the press release, Pfizer's Mike Gladstone said buying Arena would complement Pfizer's expertise in immunology, specifically allowing it to better serve patients with immuno-inflammatory diseases.

"The proposed acquisition of Arena complements our capabilities and expertise in Inflammation and Immunology, a Pfizer innovation engine developing potential therapies for patients with debilitating immuno-inflammatory diseases with a need for more effective treatment options," said Pfizer's Mike Gladstone. "Utilizing Pfizer's leading research and global development capabilities, we plan to accelerate the clinical development of etrasimod for patients with immuno-inflammatory diseases."

Read the press release below:

Pfizer and Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc.(Nasdaq: ARNA) today announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which Pfizer will acquire Arena, a clinical stage company developing innovative potential therapies for the treatment of several immuno-inflammatory diseases. Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will acquire all the outstanding shares of Arena for $100 per share in an all-cash transaction for a total equity value of approximately $6.7 billion. The boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction.

Arena's portfolio includes diverse and promising development-stage therapeutic candidates in gastroenterology, dermatology, and cardiology, including etrasimod, an oral, selective sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptor modulator currently in development for a range of immuno-inflammatory diseases including gastrointestinal and dermatological diseases.

"The proposed acquisition of Arena complements our capabilities and expertise in Inflammation and Immunology, a Pfizer innovation engine developing potential therapies for patients with debilitating immuno-inflammatory diseases with a need for more effective treatment options," said Mike Gladstone, Global President & General Manager, Pfizer Inflammation and Immunology. "Utilizing Pfizer's leading research and global development capabilities, we plan to accelerate the clinical development of etrasimod for patients with immuno-inflammatory diseases."

Arena has built a robust development program for etrasimod, including two Phase 3 studies in ulcerative colitis (UC), a Phase 2/3 program in Crohn's Disease, a planned Phase 3 program in atopic dermatitis, and ongoing Phase 2 studies in eosinophilic esophagitis and alopecia areata.

In UC, the randomized, placebo-controlled, dose-ranging, Phase 2 study (OASIS) evaluated the efficacy and safety of etrasimod in moderate to severe UC patients over 12 weeks versus placebo. In the study, most patients who achieved clinical response, clinical remission, or endoscopic improvement at week 12 experienced sustained or improved effects up to week 46 with etrasimod 2 mg in the open-label extension. Etrasimod also demonstrated a favorable benefit/risk profile, consistent with safety findings reported in the double-blind portion of OASIS. The findings are encouraging as there remains significant unmet need for safe and effective oral therapies in UC for patients with inadequate response, loss of response, or intolerance to conventional or advanced therapies. The OASIS trial supported the advancement of the ELEVATE UC 52 and UC 12 trials, which are currently fully enrolled, and for which data are expected in 2022.

In addition, Arena's pipeline includes two development-stage cardiovascular assets, temanogrel and APD418. Temanogrel is currently in Phase 2 for the treatment of microvascular obstruction and Raynaud's phenomenon secondary to systemic sclerosis. APD418 is currently in Phase 2 for acute heart failure.

"We're delighted to announce Pfizer's proposed acquisition of Arena, recognizing Arena's potentially best in class S1P molecule and our contribution to addressing unmet needs in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases," said Amit D. Munshi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Arena. "Pfizer's capabilities will accelerate our mission to deliver our important medicines to patients. We believe this transaction represents the best next step for both patients and shareholders."

Pfizer expects to finance the transaction with existing cash on hand.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Pfizer will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Arena common stock for $100 per share in cash. The proposed transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and approval by Arena's stockholders.

Pfizer's financial advisors for the transaction are BofA Securities and Centerview Partners LLC, with Ropes & Gray and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP acting as its legal advisors. Guggenheim Securities, LLC and Evercore Group LLC served as Arena's financial advisors, while Cooley LLP served as its legal advisor.
Pfizer Conference Call.

Pfizer Inc. invites Pfizer investors and the general public to view and listen to a webcast of a live conference call with investment analysts at 10am. EST on December 13.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/13/2021 - 07:02
Published:12/13/2021 6:22:22 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Rise With Fed Set To Speed Up Inflation Fight; Apple, Tesla, Rivian In Focus A market rally is underway, but hasn't flashed this key signal, with the Fed meeting on tap. Apple, Tesla are in focus. Published:12/13/2021 6:22:22 AM
[Markets] Bristol-Myers Squibb adds $15 billion to stock buyback program Bristol-Myers Squibb adds $15 billion to stock buyback program Published:12/13/2021 6:22:21 AM
[Markets] : Brace yourself for an extra tax hit from large mutual-fund payouts American Century, Vanguard among those passing on more than 20% of a fund through stock-market capital-gains and other distributions at the end of this year.
Published:12/12/2021 1:24:12 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Bulls Still Penned In With Fed Set To Speed Up; Apple, Tesla, Rivian In Focus A market rally is underway, but hasn't flashed this key signal, with the Fed meeting on tap. Apple, Tesla are in focus. Published:12/12/2021 1:24:11 AM
[Markets] A Judicial Kidnapping A Judicial Kidnapping

Authored by John Pilger via ConsortiumNews.com,

Sartre’s words should echo in all our minds following the grotesque decision of Britain’s High Court to extradite Julian Assange to the United States where he faces "a living death". This is his punishment for the crime of authentic, accurate, courageous, vital journalism.

Miscarriage of justice is an inadequate term in these circumstances. It took the bewigged courtiers of Britain’s ancien regime just nine minutes on Friday to uphold an American appeal against a District Court judge’s acceptance in January of a cataract of evidence that hell on earth awaited Assange across the Atlantic: a hell in which, it was expertly predicted, he would find a way to take his own life.

Volumes of witness by people of distinction, who examined and studied Julian and diagnosed his autism and his Asperger’s Syndrome and revealed that he had already come within an ace of killing himself at Belmarsh prison, Britain’s very own hell, were ignored.

The recent confession of a crucial FBI informant and prosecution stooge, a fraudster and serial liar, that he had fabricated his evidence against Julian was ignored. The revelation that the Spanish-run security firm at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Julian had been granted political refuge, was a CIA front that spied on Julian’s lawyers and doctors and confidants (myself included) – that, too, was ignored.

The recent journalistic disclosure, repeated graphically by defense counsel before the High Court in October, that the CIA had planned to murder Julian in London – even that was ignored. Each of these "matters", as lawyers like to say, was enough on its own for a judge upholding the law to throw out the disgraceful case mounted against Assange by a corrupt US Department of Justice and their hired guns in Britain. Julian’s state of mind, bellowed James Lewis, QC, America’s man at the Old Bailey last year, was no more than "malingering" – an archaic Victorian term used to deny the very existence of mental illness.

To Lewis, almost every defense witness, including those who described from the depth of their experience and knowledge, the barbaric American prison system, was to be interrupted, abused, discredited. Sitting behind him, passing him notes, was his American conductor: young, short-haired, clearly an Ivy League man on the rise.

Nine Minutes of Infamy

In their nine minutes of dismissal of journalist Assange’s fate, two of Britain’s most senior judges, including Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett (a lifelong buddy of Sir Alan Duncan, Boris Johnson’s former foreign minister who arranged Assange’s brutal police kidnapping from the Ecuadorean embassy) referred in their summary judgment to not one of a litany of truths that had struggled to be heard in a lower court presided over by a weirdly hostile judge, Vanessa Baraitser.

Her insulting behaviour towards a clearly stricken Assange, struggling through a fog of prison-dispensed medication to remember his name, is unforgettable.

What was truly shocking Friday was that the High Court judges – Lord Burnett and Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde, who read out their words – showed no hesitation in sending Julian to his death, living or otherwise. They offered no mitigation, no suggestion that they had agonized over legalities or even basic morality.

Their ruling in favor, if not on behalf of the United States, is based squarely on transparently fraudulent "assurances" scrabbled together by the Biden administration when it looked in January like justice might prevail.

These "assurances" are that once in American custody, Assange will not be subject to the Orwellian SAMS – Special Administrative Measures – which would make him an un-person; that he will not be imprisoned at ADX Florence, a prison in Colorado long condemned by jurists and human rights groups as illegal: "a pit of punishment and disappearance"; that he can be transferred to an Australian prison to finish his sentence there.

The absurdity lies in what the judges omitted to say. In offering its "assurances", the US reserves the right not to guarantee anything should Assange do something that displeases his jailers. In other words, as Amnesty has pointed out, it reserves the right to break any promise.

There are abundant examples of the US doing just that. As investigative journalist Richard Medhurst revealed last month, David Mendoza Herrarte was extradited from Spain to the U.S. on the "promise" that he would serve his sentence in Spain. The Spanish courts regarded this as a binding condition.

"Classified documents reveal the diplomatic assurances given by the US Embassy in Madrid and how the U.S. violated the conditions of the extradition," wrote Medhurst. "Mendoza spent six years in the U.S. trying to return to Spain. Court documents show the United States denied his transfer application multiple times."

Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner, addressing his supporters on Oct 28, during the U.S. appeal hearing in London. (Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign)

The High Court judges, who were aware of the Mendoza case and of Washington’s habitual duplicity, describe the "assurances" – not to be beastly to Julian Assange – as a "solemn undertaking offered by one government to another."

The Imperial Way

This article would stretch into infinity if I listed the times the rapacious United States has broken "solemn undertakings" to governments, such as treaties that are summarily torn up and civil wars that are fueled. It is the way Washington has ruled the world, and before it Britain: the way of imperial power, as history teaches us. It is this institutional lying and duplicity that Julian Assange brought into the open and in so doing performed perhaps the greatest public service of any journalist in modern times.

Julian himself has been a prisoner of lying governments for more than a decade now. During these long years, I have sat in many courts as the United States has sought to manipulate the law to silence him and WikiLeaks. This reached a bizarre moment when, in the tiny Ecuadorean embassy, he and I were forced to flatten ourselves against a wall, each with a notepad in which we conversed, taking care to shield what we had written to each other from the ubiquitous spy cameras – installed, as we now know, by a proxy of the CIA, the world’s most enduring criminal organization.

Look at Ourselves

This brings me to the quotation at the top of this article: "Let us look at ourselves, if we have the courage, to see what is happening."

Jean-Paul Sartre wrote this in his preface to Franz Fannon’s The Wretched of the Earth, the classic study of how colonized and seduced and coerced and, yes, craven peoples do the bidding of the powerful.

Who among us is prepared to stand up rather than remain mere bystanders to an epic travesty such as the judicial kidnapping of Julian Assange? What is at stake is both a courageous man’s life and, if we remain silent, the conquest of our intellects and sense of right and wrong: indeed our very humanity.

Tyler Durden Sat, 12/11/2021 - 23:30
Published:12/12/2021 1:24:11 AM
[Markets] S&P 500 ends at record high as market shakes off inflation data S&P 500 ends at record high as market shakes off inflation data Published:12/10/2021 8:24:50 PM
[Markets] Mutual Funds Weekly: These money and investing tips can brighten your holidays and the new year for your portfolio Money and investing stories popular with MarketWatch readers over the past week.
Published:12/10/2021 8:24:50 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Stock Market Still In Flux With Fed Set To Speed Up; Apple, Tesla, Rivian In Focus A market rally is underway, but hasn't flashed this key signal, with the Fed meeting on tap. Apple, Tesla are in focus. Published:12/10/2021 8:24:50 PM
[Markets] Five Million Americans In Path For Possible Tornadoes Friday Night Five Million Americans In Path For Possible Tornadoes Friday Night

The Northern Hemisphere winter is just eleven days away, but the threat of severe thunderstorms "capable of producing tornadoes" on Friday and into early Saturday is increasing for millions of Americans across the Southern part of the US, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC).

"A few strong tornadoes, damaging gusts, and large hail are all expected beginning this evening across Arkansas and Missouri, with the greatest tornado threat close to the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The damaging wind and tornado threat will persist overnight while spreading eastward into the Tennessee Valley and northeastward across the Ohio Valley overnight," NWS-SPC said. 

A broad area across Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Evansville, Indiana; and western Kentucky have a level 3 out of 5 "enhanced risk" of severe storms. A level 2 out of 5 "slight risk" stretches from the Mississippi River to the Ohio River Valley. The "enhanced risk" area has the greatest probability of tornadoes.

Here's the probability map of where tornadoes could spawn. The most severe chances are in the enhanced risk area, encompassing Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Evansville, Indiana; and western Kentucky, which include approximately 5.6mln people. 

NWS-SPC expects wind damage across the enhanced risk area. 

"Friday night is a time window that everyone needs to watch closely, have multiple ways to receive weather alerts, and know exactly what your plan of action is in case severe weather threatens," the NWS office in Paducah, Kentucky, said Thursday.

Storm chaser Reed Timmer is on the hunt for supercells across the South. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/10/2021 - 21:20
Published:12/10/2021 8:24:50 PM
[Markets] ETF Wrap: Forget crypto! Some ETF providers bet that this $800 billion industry in 2024 is fund investing’s new frontier Every week we talk to the most interesting managers and highlight the most timely ETF news, from new launches to inflows and performance.
Published:12/9/2021 3:23:03 PM
[Markets] Nasdaq ends down 1.7% to mark worst day in a week; Dow finishes little-changed Nasdaq ends down 1.7% to mark worst day in a week; Dow finishes little-changed Published:12/9/2021 3:23:03 PM
[Markets] Nasdaq sinks 1.7% as stock market halts multiday streak and Dow wipes out slight advance in Thursday's final minutes U.S. stocks limped lower on Thursday, and the Dow erased meager gains in the final minutes of trade, ahead of an important read of consumer inflation that could deliver a fresh jolt to financial markets. Investors have moved from jitters over the impact of the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to concerns about super-charged inflation, which could influence the Federal Reserve's plan to tighten monetary policy. The consumer-price index will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET on Fr Published:12/9/2021 3:23:03 PM
[Markets] Elon Musk: "Civilization Is Going To Crumble" Elon Musk: "Civilization Is Going To Crumble"

Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com,

Even billionaires like Elon Musk can see that the current state of affairs is completely and utterly unsustainable.  If we stay on the path that we are on, and there are absolutely no indications that we plan to reverse course, societal collapse is inevitable.  In fact, as I detail on a regular basis, societal collapse has already begun all around us.  Unfortunately, most people still can’t bring themselves to admit that it is actually happening.

I don’t always agree with everything that Elon Musk does or says, but he is certainly a very interesting guy.

He is not afraid to anger the establishment, and he often expresses opinions which run counter to the dominant narratives of our day.

For example, he just told the Wall Street Journal that our declining birth rates are “one of the biggest risks to civilization”

“There are not enough people,” Musk told a Wall Street Journal event Monday. “I can’t emphasize this enough, there are not enough people,” he said.

The tech billionaire said low and rapidly declining birth rates are “one of the biggest risks to civilization.”

Without a doubt, birth rates are certainly dropping quite precipitously.

In fact, here in the United States the birth rate is at an all-time record low, and every single U.S. state has now dropped below replacement level.

In other words, if birth rates do not start rising we will soon see our population steadily shrink.

We are witnessing similar trends all over the globe right now, and this deeply alarms Musk.  He believes that if birth rates do not start going back up, “civilization is going to crumble”

Musk added that too many “good, smart people” think there are too many people in the world and that the population is growing out of control.

“It’s completely the opposite,” Musk said, urging people to look at the data. “If people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble. Mark my words.”

Musk makes a very valid point.

Here in the United States, we desperately need younger workers to do the jobs that older workers are unable or unwilling to do now that they have reached their retirement years.

Unfortunately, to a large degree that isn’t happening, and this has been one of the factors that has contributed to the greatest supply chain crisis that any of us have ever experienced.

As of Monday, there were 123 cargo ships that were just sitting off the southern California coast waiting to be unloaded

According to Marine Exchange, 123 cargo ships were waiting to unload goods onto the southern California docks, which are responsible for 40 percent of all shipped containers to the United States. Of the 123 ships, 62 were container ships, which includes 35 anchored or loitering and 27 at berth.

Even before the pandemic came along, the U.S. was starting to suffer from a lack of young workers throughout our various supply chains.

Now that countless people have died or have become incapacitated over the past couple of years, this problem has erupted into a full-blown crisis.

So what can we do?

Well, for one thing most supply chain workers should be paid a whole lot more than they are right now.

Rampant inflation has changed everything.  In the old days, 15 or 20 dollars an hour was a livable wage on the west coast, but that is no longer true.

In fact, one expert has determined that it now takes an income of approximately $300,000 a year just to live a middle class lifestyle in major cities such as San Francisco, Seattle or New York…

S.F.-based finance expert Sam Dogen pinned that number at $300,000, after surveying dozens of readers on his Financial Samurai blog and asking about their incomes and expenses living in the notoriously high-priced coastal cities.

With their feedback, Dogen broke down the budget of a couple with one to two children in San Francisco, Seattle or New York. He found $300,000 is the income necessary to put something away for retirement, save for your child’s education, own a three-bedroom home, take three weeks of vacation a year and retire by a reasonable age.

For years I have been railing against inflation, and for a long time a lot of people out there simply did not understand why I was so passionate about it.

Inflation is a hidden tax that systematically destroys our standard of living.  Over time, wages have been slowly going up for workers all over the nation, but wages have not been rising as fast as the cost of living has.

As a result, the middle class has been absolutely eviscerated.

Today, many of you are “making more money” than ever before.

But because inflation is totally out of control, many of you are not living as well as you once did.

When the federal government borrows and spends trillions upon trillions of dollars it does not help you.

And when the Federal Reserve pumps trillions upon trillions of dollars into the financial system it does not help you.

In both instances, the people at the very top of the economic food chain are the ones that are helped.

According to the latest World Inequality Report, the share of global wealth held by billionaires has tripled since 1995, and last year represented “the steepest increase in global billionaires’ share of wealth on record”

Since 1995, the slice held by billionaires has risen from one percent to three percent, according to the World Inequality Report.

“This increase was exacerbated during the Covid pandemic. In fact, 2020 marked the steepest increase in global billionaires’ share of wealth on record,” the document said.

In other words, the process is accelerating, and you are on the losing end.

We are living in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble in all of human history, and the wealthy are getting even wealthier with each passing day.

The game has been rigged in their favor, and they are having a wonderful time even as our society begins to collapse all around them in thousands of different ways.

But the clock is ticking, and eventually time will run out.

On some level, Elon Musk understands this, but at this point society as a whole is not going to heed warnings from anyone.

We are just going to keep doing what we are doing until disaster finally strikes and we can’t do it anymore.

*  *  *

It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Tyler Durden Thu, 12/09/2021 - 16:20
Published:12/9/2021 3:23:03 PM
[Markets] UK Joins US, AUS In Diplomatic Boycott Of China's Winter Olympics UK Joins US, AUS In Diplomatic Boycott Of China's Winter Olympics

The UK joins an expanding list of countries that have imposed a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing over human-rights abuses in China, according to NYTimes

"There will effectively be a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday. The UK joins the US, Australia, Lithuania, and New Zealand in banning top officials from attending the Winter Games.

Johnson said the UK has "no hesitation" in raising concerns over human rights abuses with China, adding, "no ministers are expected to attend and no officials." 

There's been increasing pressure by the US and other countries to hold China accountable for various issues, including the abuse of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang and the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. 

Johnson's comments potentially leave open the possibility that family members of the royal family could still attend. 

The MP and former Tory leader, Duncan Smith, welcomed Johnson's boycott and hoped "many other countries will follow suit."

On Monday, the US officially announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden or any other US government official would not be attending the events in Beijing over China's human rights abuses.

A diplomatic boycott means athletes will be allowed to compete, but politicians will be absent. 

Earlier this year, the US and Western allies hit China with multiple human rights sanctions

In response to the US boycott, China has threatened the Biden administration with retaliation over its decision, warning the move could damage bilateral relations. 

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded by saying: 

"The US has been fabricating the biggest lie of the century about so-called 'genocide' in Xinjiang, but facts have long debunked it."

"Based on its ideological biases as well as lies and rumors, the US attempts to interfere with the Beijing Winter Olympics, which will only expose its malicious intention and make it lose more moral principles and credibility." 

"(G)enocide (applies to the) US (more) than anyone else for (its) evil crimes committed against Native Americans."

Boycotting the Winter Olympics "gravely violates the principle of political neutrality enshrined in the Olympic Charter," he said, adding that the "US should stop politicizing sports, and stop disrupting and undermining the Beijing Winter Olympics, lest it should affect bilateral dialogue and cooperation in important areas and international and regional issues."

A spokesman for China's US embassy, Lie Pengyu, called the US' boycott "a political manipulation," adding that it'll have very little impact on the success of the Winter Games. 

Meanwhile, Russia's Olympic Committee called the US' action "counterproductive." Russia's Vladimir Putin had made it very clear that he would be attending the Winter Games. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/08/2021 - 11:05
Published:12/8/2021 10:23:47 AM
[Markets] What's next for robo-advisers and retirement saving? Join discussion at noon. What's next for robo-advisers and retirement saving? Join discussion at noon. Published:12/8/2021 10:23:47 AM
[Markets] Stock market news live updates: Stocks mixed after two-day rally amid Pfizer's Omicron vaccine update Stocks traded mixed to pause after a two-day rally, as investors further considered updates around the Omicron variant and weighed a potential policy pivot by the Federal Reserve. Published:12/8/2021 10:23:47 AM
[Markets] : Intel’s new CEO shows signs he’s ready to over-deliver Pat Gelsinger has the clever idea to spin off one of Intel's prized assets, Mobileye.
Published:12/8/2021 10:23:47 AM
[Markets] Stock futures point to second day of gains on Wall Street Stock futures point to second day of gains on Wall Street Published:12/7/2021 5:23:05 AM
[Markets] China Rover Discovers "Mystery Hut" On Dark Side Of Moon China Rover Discovers "Mystery Hut" On Dark Side Of Moon

A Chinese rover traversing the Von Kármán crater on the far side of the Moon (the portion that faces away from Earth) has stumbled upon a "mystery hut," according to Space.com, citing a report published by Our Space, a Chinese language science outreach channel affiliated with the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Yutu 2 spotted the strange cube-shaped object about 262 feet away to the north. A zoomed-in image provides a closer view of the object. 

The Chinese have called the cube-shaped object the "mystery hut." The rover will take 2-3 lunar days (2-3 Earth months) to arrive at the object. 

CNSA has shown strong interest in investigating this mystery object. There's no definitive answer of what it could be. Some have speculated it's a boulder from a meteor impact. 

Twitter users joked it could be anything from a Mcdonald's to a Moon Nazi base. 

The Yutu-2 began exploring the far side of the Moon in 2019. It's part of China's fourth mission to the Moon and the second one that involves a rover. Very little is known about the far side of the Moon, and space observes might have to wait a few months until an answer is found. 

Tyler Durden Tue, 12/07/2021 - 05:45
Published:12/7/2021 5:23:05 AM
[Markets] In search of the 'unknown unknowns': Morning Brief Top news and what to watch in the markets on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. Published:12/7/2021 5:23:05 AM
[Markets] Understanding Social Security: Can I receive survivor benefits from my ex-wife before I claim my Social Security? The government says I make too much money
Published:12/7/2021 5:23:05 AM
[Markets] The Decline Of American Empire: A Kübler-Ross Cycle Analysis The Decline Of American Empire: A Kübler-Ross Cycle Analysis

Authored by Andrew Roberts via Quillette.com,

How will the United States react domestically should she be dislodged from her role of global top-dog power by China? As well as the obvious economic and strategic ramifications of an end to American imperium, there will be profound emotional and psychological effects on a society that has taken its hegemony for granted for more than three-quarters of a century.

The via dolorosa presently stretched before the United States will likely encompass the replacement of the dollar as the global currency of last resort, the recognition that the South China Seas are no longer navigable by the US Navy, the understanding that Africa has been effectively colonized by China, and the possible swallowing of Ukraine by Russia and Taiwan by China. If the United States maintains its present course, Americans should prepare themselves for a century of humiliating retreats. So, how are these developments likely to play out in an already deeply divided polity and society?

An analogy can be drawn with the British Empire, and the prolonged grieving process experienced by Britons in the three-and-a-half decades after India became independent in 1947. Within a generation and a half, the largest empire in the history of Mankind was reduced to struggling with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. Empires tend to rise and fall faster in modern than in ancient history, so what can Britain’s loss of Empire teach us about the possible decline and fall of America’s?

A useful means of understanding how Britons slowly accommodated themselves to their postwar loss of power and prestige is provided by the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle—the five-stage process by which individuals deal with tragedy, bereavement, and a dawning knowledge of imminent demise. The British people’s journey through those five stages of grief has profound implications for America, assuming she continues down her chosen path of impotence and retreat.

The first stage of the Kübler-Ross Cycle is Denial, which was the initial response of the British government after the loss of the jewel in Britain’s imperial crown. Notwithstanding the ideological anti-imperialism of Clement Attlee’s Labour government, it insisted that India would remain part of the British Commonwealth (as it was still then designated) and attached to the Western anti-Communist bloc. Indeed, the whole concept of the Commonwealth—founded in December 1931 but not taken seriously until 1947—can be seen as a sop to a people in denial about the loss of Empire.

America is already in the Denial stage of appreciating the loss of power overseas. President Biden’s speeches and press conferences at the time of the coalition’s over-hasty and humiliating scuttle from Afghanistan betray a psychology symptomatic of the first stage of the Kübler-Ross cycle. “Last night in Kabul,” Biden announced in the White House State Dining Room on August 31st, “the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan—the longest war in American history. We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history, with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety. … No nation has ever done anything like it in all of history. Only the United States had the capacity and the will and the ability to do it, and we did it today.”

In fact, plenty of nations have the capacity, will, and ability to lose wars, but the United States had not done it since Vietnam. And as Biden’s speeches and actions have subsequently shown, his administration is in denial about the message that defeat at the hands of the Taliban sends to vacillating allies and jubilant antagonists alike.

Britain was shaken out of her Denial stage by the Suez Crisis of 1956, which arrived less than a decade after the loss of India.

The second stage of the Kübler-Ross Cycle is Anger, and the fury that greeted Anthony Eden over his invasion of—and subsequent withdrawal from—the Canal Zone was symptomatic of a deeper anger about Britain’s dwindling position on the world stage. The role of the United States in forcing Britain’s humiliating retreat after a successful military operation further underlined the new world order, and sent a large number of Conservatives such as Enoch Powell into the barren cul-de-sac of lifelong anti-Americanism. The anger in British politics was also evident in the activities of the League of Empire Loyalists, which disrupted political meetings in the early 1960s. Its members were furious that after Suez and the independence of Sudan, the Conservatives no longer considered itself the party of Empire.

The capacity for anger in modern American politics hardly needs emphasising since the appalling scenes at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. The mid-term elections in November 2022 may see at least some outpouring of anger over American loss of hegemony. It will be the first time that large sections of the American electorate have gone to the polls since the Afghan catastrophe. Anger with the Democrats will likely result in their loss of the House of Representatives and the relegation of Biden to lame-duckery.

Britain entered the third stage of the Kübler-Ross Cycle—Negotiation—in the 1960s when she made the rational choice to cleave to the United States; in Harold Macmillan’s revealing phrase, to try to become Greece to America’s Rome. His relationship with President Kennedy and support during the Cuban Missile Crisis were the foundations of a new post-Churchill Special Relationship. This was a logical response to the Suez debacle, and it could not even be weakened by Harold Wilson’s and Edward Heath’s refusal to be drawn into Vietnam.

It remains to be seen what the United States will do in her Negotiation stage. Certainly, she starts at a disadvantage because President Biden is not as good a diplomatic negotiator as President Xi of China or Russian President Putin, both of whom seem to outmanoeuvre him repeatedly. It is therefore doubtful that the United States can negotiate with her opponents and rivals successfully in an effort to defend a rules-based world order once she is eclipsed as the world’s pre-eminent superpower.

When Britain entered the Depression stage of Kübler-Ross in the 1970s, she did so with a total bipartisan commitment to national decline. She experienced depression in both its metaphysical and material senses. Economically and in prestige, she risked slipping into the third rank of world powers thanks to socialism and the pathos-laden Heathite Conservative response to it. In that doleful decade, Britain experienced the OPEC oil price trebling; IRA violence and internment in Northern Ireland; a miners’ strike that led to power cuts and a three-day week, stagflation, price and income caps; and trade union militancy that threatened the primacy of Parliament. The worst (because longest-lasting) of that decade’s developments came when Britain turned her back on the Commonwealth and joined the EEC in 1973. Only a country in the grip of severe depression, self-doubt, and historical amnesia could have done such a thing.

When the United States recognizes that it no longer matters in the world as it once did, that key allies are distancing themselves and flirting with China, that the global organizations erected by Bretton Woods and Dumbarton Oaks no longer guarantee her primacy, and that there is little she can do about it, then depression will hit America. It will leave her confused, morose, and liable to turn in on herself politically. It will be an ugly time.

In the 1980s, Britain embraced the fifth and final stage of the Cycle—Acceptance. This was almost entirely down to one person, Margaret Thatcher. The Falklands War seemed to arrest the lamentable drift and surrender since Suez, and the spectacular victory in the Cold War, in part due to her close alliance with Ronald Reagan, finally provided closure after the loss of Empire. Although she could never again be top-dog power, Britain’s replacement by her close ally was palatable because the Special Relationship had been shown to work well for both countries and also for the wider world in ridding the world of Soviet Communism.

For modern America, however, acceptance of decline cannot have any sense of closure because the successor-state is totalitarian. Every precept of National Socialist China is entirely antithetical to American values. Britain’s successor-state shared her language, common law, liberal principles, free market, and outlook. The United States can take no such comfort when peering into her post-imperial future. So, America’s final Acceptance stage is fraught with far greater dangers than the other four put together. The Free World really will have met its “time when the locusts feed.”

Is all this inevitable? Not if the United States can grasp the leadership of the West once more instead of wallowing in self-destructive and profoundly decadent obsessions with its own faults, real and imagined. The United States ought to heed the words of Winston Churchill during the Munich Debate of October 5th, 1938.

The people, he said, should be told that “we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history … And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”

President Biden has already made it clear that he does not understand those words or appreciate their present importance. For now, Americans remain preoccupied with navel-gazing about Critical Race Theory and endlessly revisiting slavery 158 years after its abolition. Hopefully sometime before China takes Taiwan, Putin takes Ukraine, and Iran develops the Bomb, the United States will reject Acceptance of her eclipse and embrace her own supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour.

Tyler Durden Sun, 12/05/2021 - 23:30
Published:12/6/2021 12:23:41 AM
[Markets] The Moneyist: ‘I trust no one!’ My fiancé wants my share of our home if I die, but I have a disabled adult son. Is this the kind of man I should marry? ‘My fiancé is wealthy and doesn’t need to inherit a dime from me to live comfortably after my death. My son will be reliant on the trust.’
Published:12/6/2021 12:23:41 AM
[Markets] U.S. stocks end lower, post weekly declines after roller-coaster week of trading U.S. stocks end lower, post weekly declines after roller-coaster week of trading Published:12/4/2021 7:23:09 PM
[Markets] Brett Arends's ROI: Should you put your 401(k) in a ‘3X’ retirement portfolio? So much for the wisdom of the experts
Published:12/4/2021 7:23:08 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Market Woes Intensify As DocuSign Craters, Apple, Tesla At Key Levels; Bitcoin Tumbles Stock market woes intensified last week with the major indexes breaking key levels. Apple and Tesla lead five stocks to watch. Bitcoin plunged Saturday. Published:12/4/2021 7:23:08 PM
[Markets] 'Never Seen Anything Like It': Los Angeles Residents Stunned As Violent Crimes Creep Into Wealthier Communities 'Never Seen Anything Like It': Los Angeles Residents Stunned As Violent Crimes Creep Into Wealthier Communities

After two years of rising crime in Los Angeles, residents of upscale neighborhoods are finally starting to freak out after a spate of 'flash mob' lootings at high-end retail stores have been accompanied with a disturbing increase in violent crimes committed in the suburbs, according to the LA Times.

Private security officers guard the Beverly Hills home where Jacqueline Avant, the wife of music producer Clarence Avant, was shot and killed Wednesday. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

 

Crews of burglars publicly smashing their way into Los Angeles’ most exclusive stores. Robbers following their victims, including a star of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and a BET host, to their residences. And this week, the fatal shooting of 81-year-old Jacqueline Avant, an admired philanthropist and wife of music legend Clarence Avant, in her Beverly Hills home.

...these incidents have sparked a national conversation and led to local concern about both the crimes themselves and where the outrage over the violence will lead.

"The fact that this has happened, her being shot and killed in her own home, after giving, sharing, and caring for 81 years has shaken the laws of the Universe," said Oprah Winfrey, expressing grief over Avant's killing via Twitter. "The world is upside down."

The Times notes that while overall crime rates within Los Angeles remain far below the notoriously violent 1990s, much of it has been concentrated in poor communities - so it receives virtually no attention. Now that crime has "crept up in wealthier enclaves and thrust its way to the center of public discourse" across the city.

Turning point?

In 2020, polls showed that California voters largely supported criminal justice reform, as well as rolling back tough sentencing laws to reduce prison populations without nary a thought to how it might affect the crime rate. Now, those concerned about crime and blame liberal policies for its rise are growing more vocal.

For others, it's been a serious wake-up call.

"I have never seen anything like it," said Dominick DeLuca, owner of the Brooklyn Projects skateboard shop on Melrose Avenue where burglaries and robberies have seen a sharp enough spike in recent months that he's now carrying a gun to work. "In the last two years, I have been broken into three times."

On Thursday, Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Michael Moore advocated for locking offenders up, and questioned several pandemic-related policies that put nonviolent arrestees back on the street without bail.

Moore said arrests had been made in several high-profile “smash-and-grab” burglaries but lamented that the suspects had all been released pending trial. Garcetti said warehousing criminals in jails without rehabilitating them is not a solution, but neither is ceding the streets to repeat offenders.

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón, whose progressive policies around prosecution and sentencing many blame for the uptick in crime, was notably absent at the press conference but said through his office that he is working closely with law enforcement partners to hold perpetrators accountable for such brazen crimes. -LA Times

According to LAPD data through Nov. 27, property crime is up 2.6% YoY, but is down 6t.6% from 2019, while robberies are up 3.9% YoY and down 13.6% from 2019. Burglaries are down 8.4% from last year and 7.7% from 2019. Car thefts, meanwhile, are up nearly 53% vs. 2019.

The difference? Rich people are now getting hit, so officials are officially concerned.

What's more, violent crime is way up - with homicides jumping 46.7% and shootings up 51.4% vs. 2019. As of the end of last month, there were 359 homicides year-to-date, compared with 355 in all of 2020. That said 2008 was LA's deadliest year with 384 homicides.

Read the rest of the report here.

Tyler Durden Sat, 12/04/2021 - 20:00
Published:12/4/2021 7:23:08 PM
[Markets] Party like it's 1957? Burger King selling 37-cent Whoppers through Saturday Party like it's 1957? Burger King selling 37-cent Whoppers through Saturday Published:12/3/2021 2:23:37 PM
[Markets] The Dow has shed over 2,000 points over past month as blue-chip, stock-market index heads for 4th weekly tumble The Dow Jones Industrial Average has shed about 2,000 points since the middle of November to this Friday, as bullish momentum unwinds. At last check, the Dow was down 360 points Friday afternoon, bringing the weekly drop to nearly 630 points, or 1.8%, and marking the fourth consecutive weekly decline for the benchmark of 30 blue-chip stocks, if the decline holds. From the weekly period started Nov. 12 to Dec. 3, the index has lost about 2,054 points. U.S. stock benchmarks were down Friday, as in Published:12/3/2021 2:23:37 PM
[Markets] The Ratings Game: Nvidia stock slides into correction territory after FTC sues to halt Arm deal Nvidia Corp. shares slid into correction territory Friday, a day after the chip maker's chances for closing its acquisition of chip designer Arm Ltd. dwindled even further.
Published:12/3/2021 2:23:37 PM
[Markets] This Is A Leading Indicator Of A Civilization In Decline This Is A Leading Indicator Of A Civilization In Decline

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

In early 2007, the brand new District Attorney for Milwaukee County, Wisconsin gave an interview to a local newspaper spelling out his ‘progressive’ approach to crime.

He told the reporter:

“Is there going to be an individual I divert [i.e. release back onto the street] or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.”

(Actually his approach is invalidated by the data; rape, homicide, arson, aggravated assault, and other violent crime have risen dramatically in Milwaukee. His approach is clearly not working…)

But last Sunday, one such criminal– Darrell Brooks– who benefited from this prosecutor’s legendary clemency, drove his SUV into a crowd of people, killing six… including an 8-year old child.

Brooks is a classic repeat offender; he had just been arrested a few weeks prior for runing over his ex. And his numerous felony convictions go back two decades.

The only reason he was on the streets was because of this District Attorney’s outrageous progressive policies.

One HUGE problem in the United States is how ambitious people see prosecutor jobs like District Attorney and Attorney General as stepping stones to higher political offices.

Kamala Harris, for example, got her start as a prosecutor, first winning the office of San Francisco District Attorney back in 2003. She later became California Attorney General in 2010, then Senator in 2016.

Jumping from prosecutor to politician is extremely common. But it creates bad incentives for ambitious prosecutors to abuse the system for their own political gain.

We’ve seen this a lot lately– prosecutors bringing up ridiculous, dubious charges in high profile cases simply to increase their national name recognition.

Other prosecutors will use their offices to make noise about their ‘progressive’ approach to crime, in an effort to win broad support from the left. Or they’ll often NOT prosecute prominent individuals to gain political favor.

This is extremely unethical. The criminal justice system is supposed to keep bad people off the streets.

Clearly there are way too many laws criminalizing non-violent acts. And the system should ample room for discretion to give people a second chance. But not 20 years of second chances.

People like Darrell Brooks are on the streets because prosecutors, oftentimes for personal and political gain, simply refuse to follow the law.

I’ve written about this concept a lot lately– the rapid deterioration of America’s ‘Rule of Law’.

Rule of Law is an idea that goes back thousands of years to the days of Hammurabi’s Code. It suggests that you can’t simply change the law whenever you want. Clear rules should be applied and followed equally across society, without exception.

A strong Rule of Law was once a major cornerstone of western civilization… right alongside capitalism, individual liberty, and a sense of community.

Each of these is vanishing at an astonishing pace. And with respect to Rule of Law, we constantly see new examples where government officials will either ignore the rules, or simply invent new rules, to do whatever they want.

Several months ago, for example, the CDC Director invented the authority to take control of the entire $10+ trillion US housing market.

Obviously nothing under the Constitution or US federal law grants her that power. But she arbitrarily decided that housing fell within her jurisdiction… and hence she felt entitled to issue a moratorium on evictions.

Last week the Federal Trade Commission (whose new chairwoman is a hardcore Marxist) announced they would “identify additional legal theories” to stop mergers in the energy sector.

In other words, they don’t actually have the legal authority. So they’re just going invent some new legal concept that gives them the power to do whatever they want.

Last week’s verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial was another obvious example; Hunter Biden’s dad raged that he was “angry and concerned” after the jury decided Rittenhouse was NOT guilty.

Yet when another jury delivered guilty verdicts against all three defendants in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, Biden proudly announced that “the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job.”

It’s amazing that the President of the United States publicly opines on the health of the justice system based on whether the jurys’ verdicts meet with his personal approval.

And this is an extraordinary testament to the declining Rule of Law in America.

Not to be outdone, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Rittenhouse’s acquittal was a “gross miscarriage of justice and sets a dangerous precedent. . .” He also called for the US Department of Justice to “review” the case.

It’s no longer OK for a jury to hear evidence and deliver a verdict.

If that verdict doesn’t conform to what the woke mob wants, the government will ignore the law, legal tradition, and the entire system of justice, to demand the outcome that it wants.

As a final example, several months ago workers at an Amazon facility in Alabama voted whether or not to organize and form a union.

The vote made national news, because government officials all the way up to Hunter Biden’s dad were pleading with the workers to unionize.

The workers, however, had different plans. And they voted by an overwhelming margin to NOT unionize.

But yesterday afternoon the US National Labor Relations Board decided to invalidate that April vote.

And they are now requiring the workers to hold a new election.

If you say anything about an election being unfair or fraudulent, then you’re a conspiracy theorist who is a threat to democracy.

Yet if the government doesn’t like the outcome of union election, they’ll just invalidate the vote until they get the outcome they want.

I cannot overstate the importance of this issue; strong nations have a strong Rule of Law.

And history is full of examples, from Rome to medieval Venice to the Ottoman Empire, which show that a deteriorating rule of law is a leading indicator of a civilization in decline.

*  *  *

PS: If you can see what is happening, and where this is all going, you understand why it is so important to have a Plan B. That’s why we published our 31-page, fully updated Perfect Plan B Guide, which you can download here.

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/03/2021 - 15:20
Published:12/3/2021 2:23:37 PM
[Markets] The Dow opened higher Thursday, but stocks are still struggling to recover The Dow opened higher Thursday, but stocks are still struggling to recover Published:12/2/2021 9:26:13 AM
[Markets] Grab superapp goes public via $40 billion SPAC deal Grab President Ming Maa speaks with Yahoo Finance about the ride-hailing and superapp company’s Nasdaq debut and plans for growth in three areas: delivery, financial services, e-commerce infrastructure. Published:12/2/2021 9:26:13 AM
[Markets] : Mortgage rates are stable — but the omicron variant could change that Stock market volatility hasn’t hit interest rates yet, but concerns about the new variant could have an effect in the weeks to come.
Published:12/2/2021 9:26:13 AM
[Markets] Not Just Players - Premier League Matches Disrupted By Fans Having 'Medical Emergencies' In The Stands Not Just Players - Premier League Matches Disrupted By Fans Having 'Medical Emergencies' In The Stands

We've been saying for weeks now that something strange is going on inside hospitals across the US, and around the world. The number of cases of cardiac events appears to be spiking, especially among people who have been fully vaccinated with the mRNA jabs.

We have also noted the "5-fold increase" in cardiac events among the world's fittest athletes - global soccer players - which has been shrugged off by the media as mere "coincidence."

Now, cardiac events aren't only afflicting athletes - they're disrupting games when fans have massive heart attacks in the stands. RT reports that two Premier League matches have been disrupted in recent days due to fans having massive heart attacks in the stands. The match between Watford and Chelsea and the match between Southampton and Leicester both had to be halted due to medical emergencies in the crowd on Wednesday night.

The game at Watford’s Vicarage Road was suspended for more than 30 minutes after a fan suffered a heart attack during the first half. The players left the pitch as medical staff from both teams rushed to treat the suffering fan.

The two teams refused to continue with the match until they had received positive news about the fan's fate. The individual suffering the heart attack was eventually stretchered out of the stadium and taken to the nearby Watford General Hospital for further treatment.

The game resumed just over half an hour later, with Chelsea going on to win 2-1 to maintain their position at the top of the Premier League table. Both teams shared messages of support for the suffering fan.

Elsewhere, the second half of the match between Southampton and Leicester at St. Mary’s was delayed by around 15 minutes after a supporter fell ill. The fan had collapsed during the interval but the issue wasn't cardiac arrest. The person received treatment inside the stadium before being taken to hospital.

Earlier in the season, a game between Newcastle United and Tottenham was delayed when Magpies fan Alan George Smith collapsed during the first half, causing a commotion in the stands.

During the more recent matches, players were praised for their quick-thinking actions to alert the referees to what was happening in the stands.

WTF is going on!?

Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 10:15
Published:12/2/2021 9:26:13 AM
[Markets] FDA advisory panel endorses Merck's COVID treatment pill in 13-10 vote FDA advisory panel endorses Merck's COVID treatment pill in 13-10 vote Published:12/1/2021 4:23:33 AM
[Markets] Warmongers Would Let Ukraine Become World War III Warmongers Would Let Ukraine Become World War III

Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog,

They just won't let it go. It seems many of the so-called "warmongers" are hellbent on turning Ukraine into a major war whether the countries involved want it or not. History shows what has become known as "proxy wars" create profits for companies manufacturing weapons. The cost, of course, is then pawned off on taxpayers and a public preoccupied with personal concerns. Such talk of war is probably viewed as a blessing by President Biden and a White House that has been battered with bad press.

The proof that Ukraine is unlikely to go quietly into the night is reinforced by a slew of news stories over the last few days. It includes items such as the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine is warning of "unusual Russian military activity" near the nation's borders and in the annexed peninsula of Crimea or that Canada is now considering larger deployments to Ukraine.

Nothing ramps up the hype like the headline, "Ukraine fears that Russia may be preparing to invade." Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's defense intelligence agency, said last weekend. He went on to say that Russia had more than 92,000 troops amassed at the border and could attack as early as the end of January. In reaction, not only is Canada looking at deploying hundreds of additional troops to support the Canadian soldiers already in Ukraine on a training mission, it is considering redeploying some of the CF-18 fighter jets currently based in Romania.

NATO Has Slowly Expanded Towards Russia

I stand with those arguing this has little to do with Russia taking over the world or Ukraine's national sovereignty. It is about money, energy, and power. Several years ago I wrote a piece that urged America to stay out of a war in Ukraine. It also warned of the major advantage Putin held by having a huge well-armed army just across the Ukrainian border and that any army cobbled together to face him would most likely be unenthusiastic and politically troubled. Another reason provoking Russia is a horrible idea is that it creates the potential the current "minor skirmish" could explode into World War III with nuclear bombs entering the mix.

When President Obama was in office he pulled out all the stops to paint Putin with a brush dipped in all the bad colors. Every Sunday in interview after interview Washington experts were paraded across the screens of the talk shows denouncing Putin as a "thug and a bully." This description of the former KGB officer is so ingrained in their repertoire that they seldom describe him in any other terms unless it is to add the words "dangerous or menace" to highlight the fact we should all be afraid. Clearly, the U.S. establishment loathes Putin and constantly paints him as an aggressor, a tyrant, and a killer that invaded and occupied Crimea. The fact is, it is NATO that has slowly been expanding towards Russia since Putin took power in late 1999. 

In 1999, Russia was defenseless, bankrupt, and being carved up by a group stealing its resources in collusion with America. Putin changed that and resurrected the crumbling empire once again into a nation-state with coherence and purpose. Putin is credited with halting the theft of his country’s wealth by the plutocracy and restoring Russia's military strength. Putin's biggest sin may be that with blunt rhetoric he refused to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world under a system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. The fact is many Russians credit him with saving Russia. Today, after two decades in power, Putin’s approval rating exceeds that of many Western leaders.

Ukrainian Soldiers Killed In An Unwinnable War

Reports from the front in Ukraine are often buried or hidden from public view but they appear to confirm that Ukrainian troops are being sent into a meat grinder.  Putting more weapons into the hands of those unmotivated to fight for their corrupt state is merely adding fuel to this fire and doing more harm than good. Again, remember Ukraine is a financially failed state and while we can point to its potential, its massive oil and gas reserves by all rights should belong to the Ukrainian people. The IMF, however, points out that Kiev needs billions in loans and grants just to stabilize its economy after more than twenty years of massive levels of corruption. This debt and the deep, deep hole Ukraine dug itself into after a series of bad governments ran the country after it became independent of the Soviet Union.

The euro-zone currently faces a lot of problems without jumping into a proxy war against rebels in Ukraine. I use the term proxy because without the money and backing of outsiders things would most likely go quiet. The failed and bankrupt country of Ukraine would most likely break into two parts with the eastern half and its people who share strong ties with Russia aligning itself with that country and Kiev, and the western-oriented portion of the country drifting towards stronger ties to the euro-zone. What is the big problem with such a solution? A great deal if you ask those in Washington that are pushing for more intervention in Ukraine. As to what motivates their desire to turn the area into a giant killing field several possibilities exist but it is mostly money and profit.

War In Ukraine Is About Money, Energy, And Power!

Foreign policy has often been used as a tool to advance national interest which is often dictated by economics. When it comes to the economy, energy is often considered the blood from which all strength flows and in the case of Europe the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline designed to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany remains a bone of contention. Several European countries see the pipeline as being designed to increase their energy reliance on Moscow.

Those opposed to the pipeline continue to argue that "Gazprom" is not only a gas company but a platform for Russian coercion and another tool for Russia to pressure European countries. Under a provision in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the U.S. State Department has even threatened European corporations with ties to the pipeline on the grounds that "the project undermines energy security in Europe".

To confuse the issue and muddy the waters great efforts have been made at high levels by those advocating military action to paint Russia as an aggressor. These forces aided by the media continue to link Russia's move into the majority ethnic-Russian Crimea region as a violation of Ukraine's sovereign border. The whole argument of sovereign borders is a little gem promoted by those in power, these borders are a creation of man and not visible to the birds flying above. This is an argument of convenience that masks deeper issues and the difference between "terrorist" and "freedom fighters" often depends on a person's point of view. In this case, it is clearly the new American-backed government in Kiev that is pushing to bring the eastern part of Ukraine back into the fold.

Adding Ukraine to NATO and the EU is a long-held dream of neocons like Victoria Nuland and neoliberals like Biden. This is also important to those supporting the World Economic Forum’s desire to expand the EU and encircle Russia.  Putin has long been a thorn in the side of the NWO gang. After entering office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed Decree No. 117/2021 activating the Ukraine Army to recapture and re-unify with Ukraine, the autonomous region of Crimea, and the city of Sevastopol. This was in total conflict with his promise to end the now nearly seven-year-long war in eastern Ukraine that played a central role in his election in 2019. This indicates Zelensky has continued to subordinate his government’s policies to the US and NATO.  

What this boils down to is that American companies want to sell and supply Europe with Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and they seem willing to start a war to make it happen. Whether it is for profit or to minimize the threat of natural gas shipments to Europe being cut off and used as a key weapon in Russia’s political arsenal we cannot ignore the idea more is at play here than just doing the "right thing". 

Many people in the "Tin Foil Hat" community have gone so far as to indicate they feel that America and elements of the CIA were involved or had a part in the overthrow of the former corrupt Ukraine government and its replacement with another corrupt but more pro Europe regime. At the time even America's Vice President, Joe Biden, saw his son join the board of a private Ukrainian oil and natural gas company. We should assume not only those involved in selling energy to Europe will profit from stopping the flow of energy from Russia but also the military-industrial complex stands to gain.

Without a war, the odds of U.S. LNG significantly displacing Russian natural gas shipped by pipeline are slim. Piped gas sells at a large discount to LNG, which must be cooled to liquid form, shipped overseas, and turned back into its gaseous form. Poland recently received its first shipment of U.S. LNG last month from what is currently the only export facility in the lower 48 states. While LNG trade between the United States and Europe would help reduce the U.S. trade deficit it also stands to improve energy security among the European countries by giving them an alternative to Russian gas. 

Still, it is not a cure-all, Russia can easily cut prices and adjust terms to maintain its dominant position in the European gas market and European countries are likely to continue buying most of their gas from the lowest-cost supplier. Bottom-line, Russia has traditionally been the major supplier of European gas. But it charges high prices, often in the form of long-term contracts linked to the price of oil. The overwhelming dependence on Russian gas leaves European countries from a national security standpoint vulnerable to a cutoff of crucial natural gas supplies. 

This would be devastating to their economies at any time but even more so in the depths of winter. For these reasons, it makes sense for Europe to consider alternative supplies and open its doors to U.S. LNG. Regardless of the politics at play, danger lurks from flooding Ukraine with weapons, and using the people of Ukraine as pawns in this high-stakes game violates all standards of human decency. Americans should also be aware that our current policy drives Russia towards the East and into the open arms of China. This creates even more problems long-term than it solves short-term and borders on the edge of insanity.

Upping tensions in the area is the fact the Kerch Strait Bridge, also known as the Crimean Bridge, is now a target that Russia will make every effort to protect. Comprised of a pair of Russian-constructed parallel bridges it spans the Strait of Kerch between the Taman Peninsula and the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea. The bridge complex provides for both road and rail traffic and has a length of 19 km. This makes it the longest bridge Russia has ever built.

The war in Ukraine has not developed organically but appears to be the product of meddling. It could be argued that Biden is pushing for more military action to cover up the corruption and sins of his family that occurred in Ukraine. Mercenaries and money from America appear to be backing and propping up Kiev with America acting as the "champion" for this failed bankrupt country.  The best way for the West and Kiev to prove they are on the right path is by letting the eastern part of the country secede and then making Kiev a center of economic and democratic success. 

Since the latest ceasefire agreement in the war in Donbas was implemented in July 2020, it appears the situation has not grown worse. This indicates rocking the boat is a bad idea. We can only hope those monitoring the recent events in Ukraine saying this will someday be looked back upon as the beginning of World War III are wrong. Some war game players have indicated that China could use a larger war in Ukraine to rapidly move on Taiwan. After our experiences in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, I'm forced to wonder what these fools are getting us into?

*  *  *

Footnote; The following link takes you to a YouTube video of what is labeled "Insane Ukraine Fighting." It is roughly an hour of idiots firing in the air and wasting ammo, and that is the current war.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/01/2021 - 05:00
Published:12/1/2021 4:23:33 AM
[Markets] Powell channels his inner inflation hawk, but Omicron may have other plans: Morning Brief Top news and what to watch in the markets on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. Published:12/1/2021 4:23:33 AM
[Markets] : ‘We are just going to play it slow’: Facebook, Wells Fargo monitoring omicron closely ahead of planned January 2022 return to offices Before the omicron variant emerged, data indicated more people were physically back in the office and fewer were working at home.
Published:12/1/2021 4:23:33 AM
[Markets] CDC now says everyone 18 and older should get COVID booster CDC now says everyone 18 and older should get COVID booster Published:11/29/2021 11:23:42 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Stock Market Rebounds As Biden Rules Out New Lockdowns; Rivian, Tesla Race Higher Dow Jones futures were in focus late Monday after the stock market surged, as President Biden ruled out new lockdowns. Published:11/29/2021 11:23:42 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: FTC asks Amazon, Walmart, others about how they’re handling supply-chain issues The Federal Trade Commission is seeking information from Amazon.com Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., Walmart Inc. and others about how they are handling supply-chain snarls, part of a study into whether the problems have led to anticompetitive behavior and higher prices.
Published:11/29/2021 11:23:42 PM
[Markets] A Tale Of Two Cities: Kenosha Vs. Waukesha A Tale Of Two Cities: Kenosha Vs. Waukesha

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmGreatness.com,

Both Wisconsin towns, Kenosha, and Waukesha, about 50 miles apart by car, were the recent sites of multiple deaths. The violence in both made national news. Yet in contradictory ways both reflected the common themes of America’s current legal, media, and societal corruption.  

The relevant public prosecutors in both were in the news for alleged ideological bias. Specifically, they habitually calibrated the charging, indicting, and trying (or not) of defendants through ideological lenses and community pressure rather than on the basis of the facts and the law.  

Kyle Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old armed youth who volunteered to protect business properties at the height of the August 2020 arson, riots, and looting in Kenosha. He was pursued and attacked by three members from a larger group who chased the armed youth, presumably either to disarm, injure, or kill him—or perhaps all three. 

Rittenhouse variously was assaulted, kicked, and had a firearm pointed at him. In reaction, he fatally shot two of his pursuing attackers and wounded a third. Kenosha prosecutors reviewed videos of the altercations. They saw clearly that Rittenhouse was running away from his assailants. He was variously rushed by one assailant, kicked by another, and struck with a skateboard by still another. Again, a final pursuer pointed a gun at him at close range.  

No matter. The Kenosha district attorney’s office charged Rittenhouse with several felonies including two first-degree homicide charges. All four whom Rittenhouse fired at—whether he missed, wounded, or fatally shot—had lengthy arrest records. Three were convicted felons; the fourth had a long arrest record. 

Given the lengthy and quite horrific rap sheet of Rittenhouse’s first attacker Joseph Rosenbaum (including multiple counts of pedophiliac rape), it is difficult to understand why the latter was not in jail (he had been released earlier that day from a mental facility to which he had been committed after a failed suicide attempt). The common denominator to the various prior convictions of his other three assailants was that they should have led to consequences far worse, given that many of their arrest charges were dropped, or bail was sometimes waived, or plea bargaining turned serious charges into merely bothersome ones. The release of violent offenders on little or no bail seems now thematic in Wisconsin. 

Shortly after the August 2020 shootings, the media, Joe Biden, and most of the left-wing commentariat had claimed Rittenhouse was a “white supremacist,” even though there was no evidence of such a libel, then or now. Remember, the Kenosha shootings took place just nine weeks before the November presidential elections, at a time when the Left was framing the incumbent Trump as a “white supremacist” and Joe Biden a “healer.”  

The Racist Construct 

The shootings were immediately declared to be “racial.” Yet both the shooter Rittenhouse and all of his attackers who were wounded or killed were white (a fourth assailant, an African-American who kicked Rittenhouse while he was on the ground escaped without injury).  

What followed in the media was the most egregious example of concocted fictions since the Russian collusion hoax. Rittenhouse was falsely accused of crossing “state lines” (plural), while unlawfully armed with an “illegal automatic weapon.”  

In truth, he did not buy the Smith & Wesson semi-automatic rifle, much less bring it into nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin from nearby Antioch, Illinois. It was legal for Rittenhouse to possess and use the firearm. The gun itself was not unlawful. He did not purchase it but had been given it by a friend. And Kenosha was his alternate home in that it was where his father and other relatives lived. Rittenhouse, then, was constructed as the proverbial white supremacist of the sort warned about by the likes of Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley. 

At various times during the trial, the prosecuting attorneys called Rittenhouse a coward. They claimed he should have faced the pursuing mob of at least a dozen and willingly taking a beating from them face-to-face, in at least one case at gunpoint. The jury inter alia was told that the ongoing arson and other violent acts were not serious crimes, and that the three who attacked Rittenhouse were near-heroic victims.  

Protestors outside the courthouse tried to intimidate the defense and jurors. A journalist sought to follow the jury bus, ostensibly to divulge their identities or to intimidate them (MSNBC was subsequently banned from the courtroom).  

The piece de resistance was the lead DA’s pointing an empty semi-automatic weapon at the jury, with his finger on the trigger—all in the aftermath of Alec Baldwin’s accidental shooting with an “empty” loaded gun of two bystanders on a film set.  

The DA apparently wished to scare the jury into a guilty verdict through the sensation of having a rifle pointed at them. Given the jury appears post facto to have been made up of reasonable people, that puerile gambit probably backfired. All that the imbecilic DA confirmed by his actions was the same recklessness as those in state and city government who had permitted parts of Kenosha to burn in the first place.       

There were lots of suicidal prosecutorial stunts such as these in what turned out to be a circus of sorts. The DAs also sought to deprecate the constitutionally protected Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. They bizarrely saw their key witness admitting under cross examination that he had first pointed a handgun at Kyle Rittenhouse who then understandably fired at him. And they deliberately released an inferior version of the video record of the shooting to the defense while keeping the superior one to their perceived advantage. 

So, the state’s madness raised strange questions. Were the incompetent DAs simply a window into a dysfunctional Kenosha County district attorney’s office where bumbling was an institutionalized force-multiplier to bias? Were the state prosecutors deliberately inept in order to prompt a mistrial and thus a retrial/second chance of their botched case? Or were they lazily going through the motions to satisfy the mob, but did not really believe Rittenhouse was guilty? Or were they just mediocre camera-hungry wannabe celebrities, who wished to win cheap media attention for as long as the bewildered judge would put up with their bizarre antics? 

The Message of Acquittal

A jury unanimously cleared Rittenhouse of all charges. It apparently concluded correctly that if law enforcement and the state either could not or would not protect lives and property in Kenosha, and if because of that dereliction of duty some citizens stepped up to take up the role that the police had utterly abandoned, then as citizens they had a right to defend themselves if attacked by those committing violence.  

For some time, media demand has exceeded the available supply of clear-cut cases of white oppressors and black victims, at least if the Jussie Smollett hoax, the “hands up don’t shoot” lie, and the photoshopped pictures and edited tapes of George Zimmerman are any indication.  

Yet the real reason the Left strained to gin up the theme of white-on-white violence as an example of racism was their larger agenda of sending a message to middle America: no American, in times of riot, arson, and looting, should have the right to use firearms to protect property. And under no circumstances could a citizen use a gun to ward off those intending to maim or kill him. Had Rittenhouse been found guilty, there no longer would be recourse for citizens living in cities where criminals were freely given the streets. 

In other words, had such a clear-cut case of self-defense morphed into a successful murder conviction, then the most powerful figure in the nation would become the local district attorney. De facto, a DA could empower a mob to loot, burn, steal, and injure by refusing to indict those arrested—even if an increasingly politicized mayor and police chief chose to allow their officers to keep the public safe. We would then assume that in this state of nature anyone protecting property during a riot would be fair game for the mob, given the target would know he could become a convicted felon by defending himself from attack. 

So, the Left understood well the messaging of attacking the open city and undefended town of Kenosha and the conviction of a “murderer” Rittenhouse: accept our political agendas and premises or otherwise your culpable community will be torn apart with impunity, and any who chose to combat the violence with violence will be charged with capital crimes. 

Those Criminal SUVs 

Not long after one Rittenhouse was acquitted, one Darrell Brooks, Jr., an African-American with a 20-year record of serious felonies, allegedly drove his car deliberately into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, killing 6 innocents and injuring over 60. 

Unlike the dishonest media reaction lying about Rittenhouse, who had no criminal record, there was initial careful restraint not to identify the career criminal Brooks as the murderous driver who weaponized his vehicle against parade-goers. Despite first-hand accounts from bystanders that the lethal driver was an African-American with dreadlocks, the media, feigning unaccustomed professionalism in this instance, withheld rush-to-judgment identification and culpability. Joe Biden—for a moment—was commendably quiet in editorializing about the racial motivations or ideology of a suspect. 

For a while the media ran with its own concocted rumor that Brooks merely was fleeing from an “altercation” and apparently had mistakenly turned the wrong way into a crowd—despite videos showing the driver deliberately ramming through street barriers repeatedly to seek out targets. Intent likely explains why he killed and injured so many innocents.  

Finally, the news settled into the present narrative of a “car crash,”—as if a driverless vehicle on autopilot had simply bumped into various people in the street—before burying the murders altogether on their back pages and dropping the crime from the evening news. Or as the Washington Post put it, “Here’s what we know so far on the sequence of events that led to the Waukesha tragedy caused by a SUV.” 

That media-generated ruse continued even when details of Brooks’ lengthy felony record were finally released. At the time he was mowing down strangers, he had five open arrest charges, including two felonies. Brooks had been released on $1,000 bail just two days earlier, in another eerie “coincidence” after being arrested for attempting to run over a woman and her child—the same modus operandi reified at the Waukesha Christmas slaughter.  

An alien from Mars who examined Brooks’s life of crime, his recent violence, and the ease with which he was serially let loose upon the public might have concluded some sort of “privilege” as the cause of exemption. 

Brooks posed on social media as an incompetent but narcissistic rapper. He left a video trail not just of his mediocre recordings, but of clear evidence of virulent anti-Semitism and anti-white racism, “So when we start bakk knokkin white people TF out ion wanna hear it…the old white ppl 2, KNOKK DEM TF OUT!! PERIOD.”  

As pundits strained to deny any connection between the climate of BLM anger over the Rittenhouse verdict and Brooks’ murders, Brooks’ own testimonies point to a connection, at least in the sense of hating people on the basis of their race. Indeed, regional Milwaukee BLM activist Vaun Mayes quickly alleged that the Rittenhouse acquittal had earned the homicidal payback.  

A low-level Democratic functionary tweeted that the dead children of Waukesha were proper karma for Rittenhouse walking free: “I’m sad anytime anyone dies. I just believe in Karma and this came around quick on the citizens of Wisconsin.” Or as Mayes further elaborated: Brooks was an insurrectionist whose violence had jumpstarted a supposed “revolution,” his apparent euphemism for mass murder. “But it sounds possible that the revolution has started in Wisconsin. It started with this Christmas parade.”

Brooks is, for a while, in jail. Yet for some crazy reason he can be freed on a $5 million bond. He awaits charges of mass homicide—although one never quite knows. The Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm is a controversial “reformer” DA, whose campaigns have been funded in part by the George Soros conglomerate. 

Creepier still, in the past a prescient Chisolm had boasted about his own future to the Milwaukee Sentinel, namely that his prosecutorial and bail policies would eventually release career criminals onto the street who would “inevitably” kill some innocents. Yet he riffed that such carnage was acceptable collateral damage from his decriminalization agendas: “Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into [a] treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.” 

One wonders whether Chisolm will take that argument to the families of the Waukesha deceased—that the loss of their loved ones was a reasonable sacrifice to ensure that misunderstood 20-year criminals like Darrell Brooks, Jr. were not kept behind bars. 

So, what are we left with from these horrors of two cities? 

In Kenosha the media and the Left ginned up race when there was no such component in the trial. But in Waukesha they perpetuated racial arson and smothered the truth. That is, they kept largely silent when there clearly was racial hatred—given Brooks’ own record of anti-white and anti-Semitic venom. Again, the media can turn from creation to suppression on a dime, given the common theme of ginning up racial strife and hatred. 

An amoral media and Left, so far, have kept an inconvenient Waukesha “car crash” out of the mainstream news—reversing their wild sensational obsessions with Kenosha. After all, in their unhinged racialized worldview, the demonization of a 17-year-old white male, who shot three other white males, still could be squeezed for racial juice, given the larger contextual landscape of a riot over a police wounding of an African-American male.  

The shooting of Jacob Blake that set off the Kenosha riots was later determined to be justified, given the armed suspect was heading toward his car, after fighting with police, who were called to the residence to protect a woman who had a restraining order against the career violent felon. 

  • In sum, Rittenhouse had no criminal record; all four of his assailants had lengthy arrest records. Three of them were ex-felons. He had no record of the racial hatred of which he was accused.  

  • In contrast, Brooks was an abject violent racist whom the media sought to shield. And he was a career felon, who both long ago and quite recently should have been kept behind bars so that he would not murder innocents.  

How a Wisconsin ex-felon received a $1,000 bail bond and freedom to mow down innocents, after trying to run down two with his car, while another juvenile without an arrest record, with good grounds to claim self-defense, was required to post a $2 million bond (and so stayed incarcerated pending charges without running water in his cell) is a commentary on the abject implosion of the American justice system.  

Rittenhouse should have never been charged; Brooks should not have been out of jail. The effort to make the former a beneficiary of white supremacy and the latter a victim of it required a level of amoral media deceit that finally was unsustainable even in this bankrupt age. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 23:40
Published:11/29/2021 11:23:42 PM
[Markets] Jan. 6 select committee sets contempt vote on former Justice Department official Jan. 6 select committee sets contempt vote on former Justice Department official Published:11/29/2021 2:21:31 PM
[Markets] The Bitcoin Bond: El Salvador Makes History The Bitcoin Bond: El Salvador Makes History

Authored by Sam Klemens via exodus.com,

El Salvador is planning to issue the world’s first Bitcoin bond and it’s a really big deal! This article will explain how the bond works, what El Salvador plans to do with the money and why other countries might start issuing their own Bitcoin bonds. Let’s dive in!

The Bitcoin Bond

El Salvador’s Bitcoin bond* will be worth $1 billion and it’s going to get split into two parts. Half the bond will be used to begin construction on a “Bitcoin city.” The second half of the bond will be used to buy $500 million worth of Bitcoin.

*bond is a way for a country or corporation to take out debt. Investors give money to an entity which then makes interest payments on a predetermined basis. At the end of the bond’s duration the bond must be repaid in full.  

Once El Salvador purchases the $500 million worth of Bitcoin, most likely sometime in early 2022, the coins will get locked up for five years. That Bitcoin will provide the collateral for the bond, ensuring that all of the investors get paid off.

Anyone who lends money to El Salvador is betting that five years from now Bitcoin will be worth at least twice as much as it is today. So long as that’s the case, even if El Salvador is completely broke they’ll still be able to sell the Bitcoin and repay the debt.

For El Salvador the Bitcoin bond is a great deal. After five years they’ll start selling the coins to offer bondholders a special dividend (determined by the price of Bitcoin). However, El Salvador presumably won’t have to give all of the returns to the investors. If Bitcoin is way higher in the future, El Salvador will also benefit from the price appreciation. Any Bitcoin left over after the bondholders have been paid off will go to the government’s treasury.

One question we might ask is: why would anyone invest in the El Salvador Bitcoin bond rather than just buying Bitcoin? One plausible explanation is that the Bitcoin bond can give investors a steady yield (the bonds are set to pay 6.5%) without exposing them to Bitcoin’s volatility.

One of Bitcoin’s main problems is it’s volatility. From the tip of a blow-off top, to the bottom of a bear market, Bitcoin often drops 80% or more. That’s fine for the hodl gang, and certainly a great buying opportunity, but for large institutions, it’s just too much volatility.

The Bitcoin bond is a way to bet on Bitcoin without getting exposed to all that volatility. The 6.5% return on the Bitcoin bond is well above the average market rate. While some have said that the bond is risky, so long as Bitcoin has doubled in price by 2027 there is not a significant amount of risk associated with this product.

To summarize, the Bitcoin bond is a good deal for everyone involved because:

  • Bondholders can get an above-average return given the perceived risk

  • As long as BTC doubles by 2027, it’s unlikely that bond holders will lose any money

  • If BTC more than doubles by 2027, El Salvador can also keep the additional Bitcoin after paying off the bond

Why the Bitcoin Bond is a Big Deal

When El Salvador first made Bitcoin legal tender, a couple of other countries in South and Central America announced that they might do the same. A few of the key advantages of Bitcoin as legal tender are:

  • Significantly cheaper cross border payments and remittances. For countries like El Salvador or the Philippines, which rely heavily on foreign workers sending wages home, the difference between paying 2% or 15% on international payments is huge. Paying less in fees benefits the citizens of the country. It also benefits the government since more money flows into the country
  • Bitcoin gives people the opportunity to save their money in an asset that can’t be inflated away. This is especially beneficial for anyone living in a country with a long history of monetary debasement, like Argentina

Although these are two very real advantages of making Bitcoin legal tender, in themselves they’re not huge reasons for most countries to go all in on BTC. However… being able to use Bitcoin to get a billion-dollar loan, that’s the type of incentive that could drive countries to adopt the world’s most popular digital currency.

While it’s almost nothing to the United States, $1 billion is still a lot of money to smaller countries. And who’s to say the next Bitcoin bond has to be $1 billion? The next bond could be $3 billion or $5 billion, there’s not really an upper limit so long as investors are willing to fund it.

Other countries are likely to look into how they too can get money without having to deal with the rapacious bankers at the IMF. A Bitcoin bond is a great way to secure funding outside the bounds of the traditional financial system.

El Salvador & the Bitcoin City

El Salvador plans to use the second half of the bond to begin construction on a brand new Bitcoin city. The city will be located in the La Union region of the country. The new Bitcoin city will have a wide range of amenities, from bars and restaurants to movie theaters and even an airport. The main focus, however, will be on finance.

According to president Bukele, “In Bitcoin City we will have digital and technological education. Geothermal energy for the entire city and efficient and sustainable public transport.”

Bitcoin City will be located next to a volcano which should serve two purposes.

  1. The geothermal energy will be used to power the city, and president Bukele’s vision is for Bitcoin city to be powered 100% by renewables.

  2. The geothermal energy will also be used to set up sustainably powered Bitcoin mining facilities.

Hence why Samson Mao, the chief strategy officer at Blockstream, has referred to this new deal as a volcano bond. Adam Back also does a good job of summarizing the situation. 

Assuming that El Salvador’s Bitcoin mining operation is profitable, it could provide further assurance that the country will make all of its coupon payments and repay the bond when it matures.  

Creating a city from scratch is a bold initiative and it would almost certainly not be possible without outside financing. Although the Bitcoin bond is set to be a great development for El Salvador, from a larger perspective the most exciting aspect of the bond is that it proves there’s a way for countries to get funding without having to grovel to the IMF or the World Bank.

It’s likely that in 2022 or 2023, another country is going to announce their own Bitcoin bond, and then another. Then the floodgates could really open, especially if El Salvador’s bond is successful. All of this is pretty bullish for the crypto community, and it shows how Bitcoin can work as the backbone for a new financial system.

Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 15:00
Published:11/29/2021 2:21:31 PM
[Markets] Salesforce stock rallies to snap longest losing streak in 21 months a day before earnings report Shares of Salesforce.com Inc. charged up 4.6% in afternoon trading Monday, enough to pace the Dow Jones Industrial Average's gainers, a day before the customer relationship management software company reports fiscal third-quarter results. The stock's $13.09 price gain was adding about 86 points to the Dow's price, while the Dow jumped 281 points, or 0.8%. The stock's rally puts it on track to snap a six-session losing streak, which has been the longest such streak since the six-day stretch that Published:11/29/2021 2:21:31 PM
[Markets] : Biden holds Cyber Monday meeting with retail CEOs to discuss inflation, supply chains President Joe Biden will convene a roundtable meeting with a group of major retailers and consumer product manufacturers to discuss rising prices for everyday products and supply chain problems that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, a White House told MarketWatch.
Published:11/29/2021 2:21:31 PM
[Markets] U.S. stock futures rise following Friday’s omicron-sparked selloff U.S. stock futures rise following Friday’s omicron-sparked selloff Published:11/28/2021 6:25:21 PM
[Markets] : U.S. health officials urge caution, but not panic, over omicron variant U.S. health officials on Sunday tried to walk a very fine line with their messaging -- that we need to take the omicron variant very seriously, but that there's no reason to panic.
Published:11/28/2021 6:25:21 PM
[Markets] Inflation Never Mattered Much For Crypto... Until About A Year Ago Inflation Never Mattered Much For Crypto... Until About A Year Ago

Inflation never mattered much for crypto... until about a year ago.

As UBS notes in its latest Crypto Keys note last week, forward-looking measures of US consumer prices today rank among the most prominent correlations for digital assets...

.... something we first pointed out a month ago.

Sensitivity to actual data prints is also mounting accordingly...

... and as UBS notes, BTC, ETH and a range of more established tokens screen statistically on par with traditional instruments that are considered classic inflation winners or losers.

Co-movement is weaker for newer coins like BNB as well as ADA, SOL, DOT and AVAX, which have strongly outperformed in 2021, along with meme plays like DOGE. But to UBS that seems encouraging rather than surprising when idiosyncratic factors have clearly been driving their price action.

But while inflation clearly has be driving the top cryptocurrencies in the past year, the risk now according to UBS is that more powerful drivers will emerge to dislodge the status quo. Potential candidates could be things like stablecoin regulation, tighter exchange and account registration requirements reducing activity in CeFi and DeFi, and new restrictions on bank participation, all of which could be near-term negatives affecting market liquidity and activity but longer-term positives paving the way for institutional participation. While such things may sound crypto-specific, they mirror conditions that govern how conventional inflation hedging instruments behave. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 11/28/2021 - 19:00
Published:11/28/2021 6:25:21 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Signal Market Rally With Omicron Covid Variant News In Focus; Oil, Yields, Bitcoin Rise Futures rose with omicron Covid variant news in focus after Friday's sell-off. Tesla rival Li Auto is on tap. Here's what to do. Published:11/28/2021 6:25:21 PM
[Markets] White House announces restrictions on travel from South Africa, 7 more countries White House announces restrictions on travel from South Africa, 7 more countries Published:11/27/2021 1:23:24 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Market Rally Awaits Omicron Variant News After Covid Sell-Off; What To Do Now Fears of the new Omicron Covid variant slammed the stock market Friday. Here's what investors should do now. Li Auto earnings are on tap. Published:11/27/2021 1:23:24 PM
[Markets] Large Mob Of Looters Hit Minneapolis Best Buy, California Home Depot On Black Friday Large Mob Of Looters Hit Minneapolis Best Buy, California Home Depot On Black Friday

The level of lawlessness continues to surge as a rash of looting is happening across the country. The latest occurred on Friday evening when 30 people robbed a Best Buy store in Burnsville, Minnesota. 

CNN affiliate WCCO said the group of people arrived at the Best Buy store in the south metro area, approximately 15 miles south of Minneapolis, around 8 pm local time and looted the store. 

No one in the mob brandished a weapon, nor were any injuries reported. No arrests have been made, and thieves made off with thousands of dollars in electronics. 

WCCO also reports a flash mob hit another Best Buy in the metro area on Friday. The number of flash mobs robbing retailers has unleashed a shoplifting epidemic that is plaguing this country. 

Last week, Best Buy shares crashed after the company reported margin compression due to organized thefts. 

"We are seeing more and more particularly organized retail crime," CEO Corie Barry said on a conference call with analysts.

"You can see that pressure in our financials, and more importantly, frankly, you can see that pressure with our associates. It's traumatizing."

Just last week, a mob of at least 80 people ransacked a Nordstrom in an upscale community in the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Flash mobs have also targeted Louis Vuitton stores in Democrat cities where penalties for thefts have been eased. 

According to the National Retail Federation, organized retail crime costs retailers $700,000 per $1 billion in sales every year. Another industry group, Buy Safe America, estimates shoplifting costs retailers billions of dollars in lost economic activity each year. 

Criminal-justice reforms in some Democrat cities reduced penalties for shoplifting. This has allowed looters to have no fear of being confronted as they would only get a slap on the wrist if they are caught and won't be charged with a felony. 

Some of the most common consumer goods looters are targeting this year are high-end purses, clothing, and handbags, top-shelf liquor, laundry detergent, allergy medicine, razors, and pain relievers. 

"At the end of the day, it's still about supply and demand," said Tony Sheppard, director of loss prevention solutions at ThinkLP. This software developer helps retailers prevent theft and manage its impact.

"The demand for product online skyrocketed, and as a result, so too did the demand for stolen product."

Meanwhile, approximately 10 looters in California hit a Home Depot in a Los Angeles suburb and stole hammers, crowbars and other tools, according to CNN.

The incident took place at approximately 8 p.m. local time in Lakewood, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Deputy Miguel Meza told CNN. Lakewood is a city in Los Angeles County.
      The thieves made off with hammers, sledgehammers, crowbars and other tools. After grabbing the items, they ran out of the store and got into a getaway car parked outside, Meza said.

      The nation, under the Biden administration, is quickly descending into total lawlessness this holiday season. 

      Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 14:15
      Published:11/27/2021 1:23:23 PM
      [Markets] What are U.S. market trading hours on Black Friday? What are U.S. market trading hours on Black Friday? Published:11/26/2021 8:24:22 AM
      [Markets] : American families throw out $1,500 in uneaten groceries every year as food insecurity worsens — here’s how to reduce waste this Thanksgiving Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, 25% more trash, including wasted food, is produced than during the rest of the year.
      Published:11/26/2021 8:24:22 AM
      [Markets] Dow Jones Futures Dive 800 Points On New Covid Variant Fears; Lucid, Rivian, Tesla Fall Dow Jones futures dived 800 points Friday morning on new Covid variant fears. EV stocks Rivian and Tesla were set to open sharply lower. Published:11/26/2021 8:24:22 AM
      [Markets] A Scared Nu World: Here's What We Know About The New COVID Strain A Scared Nu World: Here's What We Know About The New COVID Strain

      Summarizing of our post from last might (which we urge everyone to read) for those who are just now waking up to the global chaos resulting from the B.1.1.529 variant, which later today is expected to be named with the Greek letter Nu, here is what we know, courtesy of Newsquawk, Credit Suisse and Citi.

      Background

      • Regarded as the most heavily mutated variant of the Coronavirus, thus far, as it has 32 mutations in the spike protein and 50 overall. More specifically, scientists have highlighted that there are 10 mutations vs 2 in the Delta variant regarding the receptor binding domain, which is the portion of the virus that makes initial contact with cells.

      • The Nu variant was identified 5 days ago initially in Botswana with subsequent confirmation and sequencing in South Africa with about 100 confirmed cases. Cases have been detected in Israel and Hong Kong and as of this morning, in Belgium.

      • Sequencing data suggests 8.1.1.529 has a different evolutionary pathway, but shares a few common mutations with the C.1.2, Beta and Delta variants.

      • That said, as we cautioned last night, a significant number of mutations may not necessarily be a ‘negative’ as it is dependent on how these mutations function, which scientists are yet to establish. Then again, since it is the job of science to fearmonger so that Pfizer can buy an even bigger yacht, assume it will be "very very horrifying" until proven innocuous.

      Is it more deadly

      • It is currently too early to determine if the new variant has higher mortality than previous variants. Reported cases only started rising in South Africa on 19 November, so any impact on hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths will not have yet emerged.

      Testing and Detectability

      • Tulio de Oliveria, the Director of the Centre for Epidemic Response & innovation (CERI), South Africa, has written that the variant can be detected by a normal PCR test and as such it will be "easy for the world to track it". It wasn't immediately clear if this is one of those "excess false positive PCR tests" but it's safe to assume for now that it is.

      • According to Credit Suisse, "one silver lining may come in the ease of identifying this variant via qPCR tests. B.1.1.529 has a deletion within the s-gene which can be identified easily via widely-used PCR tests. More complex sequencing analysis is needed to differentiate the delta variant. This will help track the spread of B.1.1.529, both within Southern Africa and across the globe."

      Transmission

      • Oliveria, explains that the new variant is spreading very quickly, in under two-weeks it is now dominating all infections in South Africa following the Delta waves domination – writing that it the variant is “now at 75% of last genomes and soon to reach 100%”.

      • Additionally, the virus contains mutations that have been seen in other variants and appear to make transmission easier.

      • Outside of Africa, two cases have been reported in Hong Kong, one from a traveller from the region and another who was quarantining in the adjacent hotel room. Most recently, a case has been reported in Israel.

      • In response to this, the UK has placed much of southern Africa on the red list, with Israel India, Japan and Singapore also taking similar measures. Additionally, EU Commission President von der Leyen is to propose activation of the emergency air brake, to halt travel from southern Africa.

      Vaccines

      • It is too early to accurately determine the vaccine response to the new variant. However, the significant number of variants increase the likelihood that current vaccines, which were designed with the original COVID-19 strain in mind, may be less effective.

      • Known variants include those that make it more challenging for antibodies to recognise their presence.

      • Laboratory testing is already underway according to the South Africa National Institute for Communicable Diseases Initial thoughts from the institute are that partial immune escape is likely, a view that seems possible given the numerous mutations in comparison to the sequence that existing vaccines were designed against. The first view on this to be from in vitro immunogenicity test or perhaps from computer modelling of the sequence. Credit Suisse estimates initial lab data could take less than 1 week to generate given the sequence is already known and work is already ongoing.

      New Vaccine Would be Available in 100 days

      • According to Pfizer, if a vaccine-escape variant emerges, the company expects to develop, produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in 100 days.

      Impact of efficacy of existing drugs antibodies is unknown.

      • There have been significant advances in treatment of COVID since it emerged in the disease waves of 2020: the use of widely-available steroids, and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Roche's Actemra have significantly improved survival outcomes.

      • More recently, antibody therapies targeting COVID (LLY, REGN/Roche, AZN) have significantly improved outcomes against COVID variants to date. It will need to be seen if their efficacy is equal against the new B1.1.529 variant.

      • Lastly the recent positive data from oral anti-viral agents (PFE, MRK/Ridgeback) may also have the potential to slow the spread of any new waves of COVID. The effectiveness of these treatments against new variants of concern will need to be tested, but lab results should be expected relatively quickly. In-human studies should also yield results relatively quickly if they are run in areas where the prevalence of 8.1.1.529 is high.

      What's next

      • According to Citi, concern over Nu needs to be balanced against the failure of other concerning variants such as Beta (also first identified in Africa) to out-compete delta.

      • The next two weeks will be critical to: (i) determine whether Nu outcompetes delta in high delta prevalence countries (2-3 weeks), (ii) engineered pseudoviruses for Nu to determine neutralization by serum of vaccination and previously infected patients (2-4 weeks), and (iii) real world data to determine rates of hospitalisation and death (c. 6-8 weeks). The implementation of travel restrictions and public health measures may push back some of the above timeline estimates. Novel oral anti-virals should retain activity against Nu but resistance may emerge with time.

      Tyler Durden Fri, 11/26/2021 - 09:20
      Published:11/26/2021 8:24:22 AM
      [Markets] Financial Crime: Former head of charity for sorority that counted Aretha Franklin, Betty Shabazz as members sentenced for embezzlement Prosecutors say Jeanine Arnett and her husband used $228K of the charity’s funds to pay for rental cars, clothes shopping sprees and Amazon.com bills.
      Published:11/25/2021 3:23:17 AM
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