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[Markets] Lawyer Uses ChatGPT In Court And Now "Greatly Regrets" It Lawyer Uses ChatGPT In Court And Now "Greatly Regrets" It

Authored by Ciaran Lyons via,

A New York attorney has been blasted for using ChatGPT for legal research as part of a lawsuit against a Columbian airline.

Steven Schwartz, an attorney with the New York law firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman, was hired by Robert Mata to pursue an injury claim against Avianca Airlines.

Mata claims he sustained the injury from a serving cart during his flight with the airline in 2019, according to a May 28 report from CNN Business.

However, after a judge noticed inconsistencies and factual errors in the case documentation, Schwartz has admitted to using ChatGPT for his legal research, according to a May 24 sworn affidavit.

He claims that this was his first time using ChatGPT for legal research and “was unaware of the possibility that its content could be false.”

In an April 5 court filing, the judge presiding over the case stated:

“Six of the submitted cases appear to be bogus judicial decisions with bogus quotes and bogus internal citations.”

The judge further claimed that certain cases referenced in the submissions did not exist, and there was an instance where a docket number on a filing was mixed up with another court filing. 

Extract of Steven Schwartz's affidavit on May 24. Source:

Schwartz said he also regrets having trusted the artificial chatbot without conducting his own due diligence. The affidavit noted:

“[Schwartz] Greatly regrets having utilized generative artificial intelligence to supplement the legal research performed herein and will never do so in the future without absolute verification of its authenticity.”

In recent times there has been an ongoing debate regarding the extent to which ChatGPT can be integrated into workforces.

However, reports indicate that the intelligence levels of ChatGPT are rapidly advancing.

But developers are skeptical about whether it has the potential to replace humans altogether. 

Blockchain developer Syed Ghazanfer said while he favors ChatGPT, he is doubtful that it has the communication skills to completely replace human workers.

“For it to replace you, you have to communicate requirements which are not possible in native English. That’s why we invented programming languages,” he said.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/29/2023 - 11:20
Published:5/29/2023 10:25:10 AM
[Markets] No Laughing Matter: John Cleese Holds Line Against Calls To Cancel Scene In 'Life Of Brian' No Laughing Matter: John Cleese Holds Line Against Calls To Cancel Scene In 'Life Of Brian'

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

We have previously discussed how comedians have been objecting that woke activists are killing comedy. The complaint is that a group of perpetually pissed off, humorless people are remaking the world in their own image.

It began with college campuses where comedians are now saying are dead as venues since you cannot safely make any joke that insults any group other than white straight males or Christians or conservatives. Others have objected to hate speech laws limiting comedians, particularly after some comedians have been prosecuted for “malicious communications” or insulting groups or religious figuresSix out of ten students view offensive jokes as hate speech. This week, however, activists appear to have met their match in a legend of comedy who has opposed the cutting of  a scene from the movie The Life of Brian. 

No, activists are not upset with the endless jokes about Italians, Christians, and Jews. It is the scene involving a man who wants to become a women and have a child. 

John Cleese is refusing to yield.

In The Life of Brianthe scene involves “Stan” who announces that he wants to be a woman named Loretta and have babies

Activists objected that it made fun of transgender people and demanded that it be cut from the film.

The scene shows Stan declaring “I want to be a woman… It’s my right as a man. I want to have babies… It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.” After Cleese’s protest, the character snaps, “Don’t you oppress me!”

Some reported that Cleese had agreed to cut the scene. However, Cleese tweeted out a correction of the “misreporting.”

What is interesting is that Rob Reiner is reportedly working on the reboot. Reiner is known as someone who is a champion of the left in Hollywood. This may be an inauspicious start for the reboot effort.

Cleese is not alone in raising this alarm. Comedians including Chris Rock blamed the range of “unfunny TV shows” on the fact that “everybody’s scared to make a move”. Ricky Gervais objected that the BBC is now paralyzed in fear of offending anyone.  Jennifer Saunders that people now “talk themselves out of stuff now because everything is sensitive.”

The same complaint has been made in the age of woke advertising that funny commercials seem increasingly rare as oppose to corporate virtue signaling.

The director of the classic comedy Airplane! observed that humor is being squeezed out of Hollywood and the movie today would have virtually every joke removed. David Zucker called it the “death of creativity.”

They are now set upon by a legion of humorless people who seek to reduce the world to their own narrow range of acceptable levity or irony.  These comedy giants are set upon by an Army of Lilliputians who have contributed little to culture beyond chilling artists and writers into obedient silence or compulsive comedy criteria.

Of course, Cleese could always use the line from Bryan’s mother: “He’s a very naughty boy! Now, piss off!”

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/29/2023 - 09:00
Published:5/29/2023 8:23:06 AM
[Markets] Burning trash for the planet? Climate cash sets off branding frenzy. Incinerators, plastics companies and big agriculture race to position as climate-friendly as billions in federal subsidies flow Published:5/29/2023 8:09:24 AM
[Markets] Outside the Box: ‘Taking care of your money doesn’t happen by itself.’ How NFL star Austin Ekeler brings his ‘A’ game to personal finance 'The more value you provide, the more valuable you become, and that should translate into financial rewards.' Published:5/29/2023 7:08:08 AM
[Markets] Zero Young Healthy Individuals Died Of COVID-19, Israeli Data Show Zero Young Healthy Individuals Died Of COVID-19, Israeli Data Show

Authored by Lia Onely via The Epoch Times,

Zero healthy individuals under the age of 50 have died of COVID-19 in Israel, according to newly released data.

“Zero deceased of 18–49 years of age with no underlying morbidities,” the Israel Ministry of Health (MOH) said in response to a formal request from an attorney.

Officials noted that the statement only applies to COVID-19 deaths where the MOH conducted an epidemiological investigation and had received information about the underlying diseases.

“Zero is a very, very clear number, and cannot be subject to interpretation,”  Yoav Yehezkelli, a specialist in internal medicine and medical management, and former lecturer in the Department of Emergency and Disaster Management at Tel Aviv University in Israel, told The Epoch Times.

“Why were all the extreme measures of school closures, vaccination of children, and lockdowns needed?” he added.

The MOH did respond to a request for comment.

Freedom of Information Request

The information was sparked by a freedom of information request filed by attorney Ori Xabi, who has been filing several such requests as he seeks to obtain information from the MOH regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and COVID-19 policies.

Xabi asked to know the average age of people who died of COVID-19, segmented by vaccination status at the time of death; how many COVID-19 patients with no underlying morbidities under the age of 50 died; and the annual number of cardiac arrest cases between 2018 to 2022.

According to the MOH response, the average age of vaccinated COVID-19 patients who died was 80.2 years. The average for the unvaccinated was 77.4 years.

The MOH emphasized that the data they have about the underlying diseases of patients is partial since it relies on information provided by the patients or their relatives, if they chose to do so. And then, only in cases in which the MOH conducted an epidemiological investigation.

Therefore “the available information does not necessarily reflect the health status of the patient” the MOH wrote adding that they do not have access to the patients’ medical records.

It is not clear why the MOH responded to Xabi’s request using only cases where the MOH had conducted an epidemiological investigation, and which was limited to deceased patients where the families had cooperated, since in 2020 the MOH told the Israeli Knesset—the Israeli parliament—that they use an intelligence system that provides the MOH with extensive information about deceased patients that included “underlying diseases.”

A document (pdf) from the Knesset Research and Information Center, dated June 7, 2020, stated that the MOH provided data to the Special Committee for the New COVID Virus about COVID-19 deaths—298 by that day at 4:30 p.m.—at the request of Yifat Shasha-Biton, a member of the Knesset, and the chair of that committee.

The ministry’s intelligence system has data on gender, age, district of residence, and the underlying diseases of the deceased, according to the document. The system showed that about 94 percent of the deceased were 60 years or older and that there were no deceased with zero underlying diseases.

In addition, on May 4, 2020, the Medical Directorate of the MOH in a letter (pdf) issued instructions to the heads of the hospitals and the medical departments of the Health Maintenance Organizations—national health care organizations—on how to fill out COVID-19 death notices, directing them to include underlying diseases.

In a December 22, 2020 letter (pdf) the Medical Directorate to the managers of the hospitals stated that for every COVID-19 patient who died during the acute phase or due to complications of the illness later, or people who were positive for COVID-19 who died, a death notice and a summary of the case “must be sent to the COVID war room of the MOH.”

They said the purpose was “to improve surveillance.”

“It’s a bit naive” for the MOH to say they do not have the full data and access to the death certificates said Yehezkelli, who was also a founder of a team that advises the MOH’s director general.

Yet this response from the MOH is meaningful, said Yehezkelli as “it finally reveals the truth.”

A health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a pregnant woman at Clalit Health Services, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Jan. 23, 2021. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

‘False Presentation’

Studies and other data, including a study led by Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis, show that COVID-19 mortality, even with the original variant, was largely age-dependent.

“It was definitely a disease that actually only endangered the elderly,” Yehezkelli said.

Over the age of 60, mortality doubled every 5 years while under that age mortality was negligible, and “now we really see that it was zero under the age of 50, at least.”

The MOH’s response showed that the average age of the COVID-19 deceased is about 80 years of age, which also indicates that “this is a disease of the elderly, almost exclusively,” said Yehezkelli.

“That only means that what we were told for 3 years was not true,” he said.

There may not have been many young people who got seriously ill, yet the MOH had emphasized cases of pregnant women hospitalized in critical condition and young healthy people who died because of COVID-19. It was not the true situation, he said.

“They created a false presentation of a very severe epidemic that affects the entire population and therefore the entire population should also be vaccinated, regardless of age,” said Yehezkelli.

If we are talking about people under the age of 50 that means that no pregnant women actually died of COVID-19, he said.

The justification given for vaccinating pregnant women, young people, and children was that they too are affected by COVID-19.

It was known back then that this was not the case “and we now see it clearly,” Yehezkelli said, asserting that the MOH has “lost the public’s trust” by making a “false presentation” of the dangers of COVID-19.

Cardiac Arrest Data

In response to Xabi’s recent FOI, the MOH provided the number of cardiac arrest cases from 2018 to 2020. They added, “The information for the years 2021–2022 does not exist in the office.”

The MOH explained that “The registration of the causes of death of deceased persons is carried out, in accordance with the notification of death,” by the Central Bureau of Statistics, adding “the data for the years 2021–2022 have not yet been transferred to the Ministry of Health.”

study published in April 2022 that analyzed the dataset of the Israel National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) found a 25 percent increase in EMS calls due to cardiac arrests among 16- to 39-year-olds between January–May 2021.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout began in December 2020.

Retsef Levi, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, was one of the researchers of the study.

The MOH objected to the findings of the study in a post on Twitter where they said that “there is no connection between the EMS calls that were analyzed in the study and the COVID vaccines.”

In a MOH webinar on Oct. 8, 2021, about the effectiveness and the safety of the COVID vaccines, Dr. Sharon Elroy-Pries, the head of Public Health Services at the Israel MOH said regarding Levi’s study: “This is one of the biggest fake news I have seen.”

“The National Center for Disease Control did a very comprehensive analysis—including of the data of that study, [which were] EMS calls,” she said adding that “there was nothing. No more [cases of] heart attacks. No more calls to the ER.”

She continued by saying that “in the mortality data from the beginning of 2021, you don’t see an increase in mortality except for COVID mortality. That is, if we look at excess mortality in the State of Israel we see it precisely at the peaks that were peaks of [COVID] morbidity in the State of Israel.”

“When you remove the … morbidity from COVID at all ages, one sees either the same mortality rate as in previous years, or less,” she said, adding “there is no increase in heart attacks here.”

Sharon Alroy-Preis, the head of Public Health Services at the Israel Ministry of Health at the Health Committee meeting to discuss special powers to deal with COVID-19 in Jerusalem on Feb. 6, 2023. (Dani Shem Tov / Knesset)

In a February 2023 meeting of the Health Committee of the Knesset for extending the COVID special powers law, Elroy-Pries reiterated that the MOH does have access to COVID mortality data.

“COVID has killed over 12,000 people in the State of Israel,” she said at the meeting, explaining further that this figure is known since “from the beginning of the epidemic, the Medical Directorate received people’s death certificates.”

When asked about whether there is an increase in cardiac arrest cases in Israel among young people, Elroy-Pries said, “We do not see an increase in the death of young people,” adding “We’re checking it. We’re looking for it.”

Levi said to The Epoch Times that the MOH attacked him personally and the EMS, and asked “If they don’t have data for 2021 and 2022 [according to the FOI], then how can they know that they don’t have an increase [in cardiac arrests]?”

When the MOH says things that are contrary to science, said Levi, or are “contrary to the facts on a regular basis, you must ask yourself the question: are they doing it because they didn’t bother to read the science, or are they doing it even though they … read the science.”

“Both scenarios are very serious,” he added.

Vaccines Saved ‘Millions Around the World’: MOH

The MOH did not reply to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

Yet about 2 hours after sending the request on May 25, the agency posted on its Twitter account a statement regarding Xabi’s FOI.

“Following the manipulation that has been taking place in recent days regarding one of the Ministry of Health’s [reply to] Freedom of Information requests, we will clarify that the answers to the requests submitted under the Freedom of Information Law are, naturally, answered directly to the specific question that was asked.

“In this case, the ministry was asked about mortality data and underlying diseases. The Ministry of Health ‘does not have’ access to the medical file [of patients], therefore information is only based on cases where an epidemiological investigation was carried out and the person or his family answered the question [regarding underlying morbidities]. Therefore, this is very limited information. This was of course clearly written in the answer [to the FOI].

“We will clarify: So far, 356 young people (18–49 years of age) have died of COVID.

“Of these, only about half have documentation of an epidemiological investigation (184 deceased).

“And only 7.5% (27 deceased) included an answer to the question regarding underlying diseases. The answer was provided based on this information.

“The Ministry of Health is committed to maintaining the health of all citizens and making the information available in the Ministry transparently. This is how we acted [so far] and will continue to act.

“We must not forget that the COVID epidemic has so far killed more than 12,500 people in Israel, caused severe and critical morbidity, and post-COVID symptoms that accompany some of those recovering to this day.

“The vaccination campaign began in the midst of a third lockdown that resulted from an increase in morbidity and mortality and the opening of the economy was made possible thanks to the activation of the green passport, which its purpose was to reduce the risk of infection in mass events.

“The vaccines have saved thousands of people in the state of Israel and millions around the world—the attempt to rewrite history is dangerous.”

Following an administrative appeal filed by Xabi and colleagues, the MOH committed to publishing all-cause mortality segmented by vaccination status and age by the end of this month.

This appeal is an ongoing case that followed a FOI request submitted to the MOH on Oct. 10, 2021, which was not answered within the time frame according to Israeli law, and the data provided by the agency during a number of hearings since has been incomplete.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/29/2023 - 06:20
Published:5/29/2023 6:37:22 AM
[Markets] OpenAI Soars Above Bing Among World's Top 25 Websites OpenAI Soars Above Bing Among World's Top 25 Websites

In the vast realm of the internet, a handful of websites have emerged as global giants. Mainstays like YouTube and Facebook capture billions of users and shape our online experiences. But occasionally, new waves of innovation can shake up this list, which is exactly what’s happening now with generative AI.

Using data from web analytics firm SimilarWeb, Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley delves into the top 25 websites based on their most recent traffic numbers.

Ranking Internet Heavyweights

In 2023, web properties owned by Alphabet and Facebook dominate the top 25 list as they have for many years now. In fact, when Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are combined, they make up three-quarters of the top 25 list’s total traffic.

Here’s the complete top 25 websites list as of April 2023:

Rank Website Monthly Traffic (billions) Category
1 83.9 Search Engines
2 32.7 Streaming & Online TV
3 16.8 Social Media Networks
4 6.4 Social Media Networks
5 6.3 Social Media Networks
6 4.7 Search Engines
7 4.5 Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
8 3.3 Search Engines
9 3.2 News & Media Publishers
10 2.9 Adult
11 2.8 Social Media Networks
12 2.6 Adult
13 2.3 Adult
14 2.2 Marketplace
15 2.0 Social Media Networks
16 2.0 Email
17 1.8 Technology - Other
18 1.7 Social Media Networks
19 1.6 Telecommunications
20 1.6 Social Media Networks
21 1.4 Streaming & Online TV
22 1.4 Prog. and Developer Software
23 1.3 News & Media Publishers
24 1.3 Community and Society
25 1.3 Search Engines

The 25 websites above combine for a staggering 192 billion monthly visits.

Most of the websites on this list are based in the U.S., but a few such as Baidu (China) and Yandex (Russia), also make the cut. Interestingly, the three adult websites on this list–XVideos, PornHub, and XNXX–are based outside the U.S.

The Allure of Generative AI

A year ago, Bing ranking as one of the world’s top websites wasn’t on many people’s bingo cards. But, Microsoft’s also-ran search engine has benefitted immensely from the generative AI boom taking place—making it a legitimate contender in the search engine category that has been firmly dominated by Google for years.

Of course, the most remarkable story this year is the meteoric rise of OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT and other AI-powered tools. OpenAI’s web traffic has shot up over the course of the year, rising from about 20 million per month in the fall of last year to 1.8 billion in April 2023.

In fact, OpenAI’s website traffic is growing so fast, that it may soon surpass giants like TikTok and Amazon.

The rise of OpenAI and ChatGPT shows just how quickly a company can rise to prominence if their tech offering is compelling enough. Whether that popularity can be sustained over the long term remains to be seen.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/29/2023 - 05:45
Published:5/29/2023 5:23:58 AM
[Markets] Market Extra: Turkish stocks rise, lira hits fresh record low after Erdogan wins re-election Turkish investors rushed into stocks and dumped the lira after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan embarked on his third decade in the top position. Published:5/29/2023 5:04:18 AM
[Markets] Visualizing Democracy In Decline Worldwide Visualizing Democracy In Decline Worldwide

The end of World War II in 1945 was a turning point for democracies around the world.

Before this critical turning point in geopolitics, democracies made up only a small number of the world’s countries, both legally and in practice. However, over the course of the next six decades, the number of democratic nations would more than quadruple.

Interestingly, as Visual Capitalist's Freny Fernandes details below, studies have found that this trend has recently reversed as of the 2010s, with democracies and non-democracies now in a deadlock.

In this visualization, Staffan Landin uses data from V-DEM’s Electoral Democratic Index (EDI) to highlight the changing face of global politics over the past two decades and the nations that contributed the most to this change.

The Methodology

V-DEM’s EDI attempts to measure democratic development in a comprehensive way, through the contributions of 3,700 experts from countries around the world.

Instead of relying on each nation’s legally recognized system of government, the EDI analyzes the level of electoral democracy in countries on a range of indicators, including:

  • Free and fair elections

  • Rule of law

  • Alternative sources of information and association

  • Freedom of expression

Countries are assigned a score on a scale from 0 to 1, with higher scores indicating a higher level of democracy. Each is also categorized into four types of functional government, from liberal and electoral democracies to electoral and closed autocracies.

Which Countries Have Declined the Most?

The EDI found that numerous countries around the world saw declines in democracy over the past two decades. Here are the 10 countries that saw the steepest decline in EDI score since 2010:

Country Democracy Index (2010) Democracy Index (2022) Points Lost
???? Hungary 0.80 0.46 -34
???? Poland 0.89 0.59 -30
???? Serbia 0.61 0.34 -27
???? Turkey 0.55 0.28 -27
???? India 0.71 0.44 -27
???? Mali 0.51 0.25 -26
???? Thailand 0.44 0.20 -24
???? Afghanistan 0.38 0.16 -22
???? Brazil 0.88 0.66 -22
???? Benin 0.64 0.42 -22

Central and Eastern Europe was home to three of the countries seeing the largest declines in democracy. HungaryPoland, and Serbia lead the table, with Hungary and Serbia in particular dropping below scores of 0.5.

Some of the world’s largest countries by population also decreased significantly, including India and Brazil. Across most of the top 10, the “freedom of expression” indicator was hit particularly hard, with notable increases in media censorship to be found in Afghanistan and Brazil.

Countries Becoming More Democratic

Here are the 10 countries that saw the largest increase in EDI score since 2010:

Country Democracy Index (2010) Democracy Index (2022) Points Gained
???? Armenia 0.34 0.74 +40
???? Fiji 0.14 0.40 +26
???? The Gambia 0.25 0.50 +25
???? Seychelles 0.45 0.67 +22
???? Madagascar 0.28 0.48 +20
???? Tunisia 0.40 0.56 +16
???? Sri Lanka 0.42 0.57 +15
???? Guinea-Bissau 0.41 0.56 +15
???? Moldova 0.59 0.74 +15
???? Nepal 0.46 0.59 +13

ArmeniaFiji, and Seychelles saw significant improvement in the autonomy of their electoral management bodies in the last 10 years. Partially as a result, both Armenia and Seychelles have seen their scores rise above 0.5.

The Gambia also saw great improvement across many election indicators, including the quality of voter registries, vote buying, and election violence. It was one of five African countries to make the top 10 most improved democracies.

With the total number of democracies and non-democracies almost tied over the past four years, it is hard to predict the political atmosphere in the future.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/29/2023 - 04:35
Published:5/29/2023 3:53:32 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Newswires: WPP, Nvidia team up to build AI-enabled content engine for digital advertising WPP and Nvidia said that, by integrating 3D tools with generative AI, the engine will allow creative teams to produce commercial content such as images or videos faster. Published:5/29/2023 2:25:42 AM
[Markets] Escobar: Eurasian Heartland Rises To Challenge The West Escobar: Eurasian Heartland Rises To Challenge The West

Authored by Pepe Escobar,

President Xi Jinping telling President Putin at the end of their summit last March in Moscow that we’re now facing “great changes not seen in a century” directly applies to the new spirit reigning across the Heartland.

Cue to the China-Central Asia summit last week in Xian, the former imperial capital, where Xi solidified the expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) from Western China in Xinjiang to its western neighbors and then all the way to Iran, Turkiye and Eastern Europe.

Xi in Xian particularly stressed the complementing aspects between BRI and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), once again showing that all five Central Asian “stans”, acting together, should counter-act the proverbial external interference via “terrorism, separatism and extremism”.

The message was stark: these hybrid war strategies are all integrated with the attempt by the Hegemon to continue fostering serial color revolutions. The purveyors of the “rules-based international order”, Xi implied, will go no holds barred to prevent ongoing Heartland integration.

The usual suspects in fact are already spinning that Central Asia is falling into a potential trap, fully captured by Beijing. Yet this is something Kazakhstan’s “multi-vector diplomacy”, coined way back in the Nazarbayev years, would never allow.

What Beijing is developing, instead, is an integrated approach via a C+C5 secretariat with no less than 19 separate channels of communication.

The heart of the matter is to turbo-charge Heartland connectivity via the BRI’s Middle Corridor.

And that, crucially, includes technology transfer. As it stands, there are dozens of industrial transfer programs with Kazakhstan, a dozen in Uzbekistan, and several in discussion with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. These are extolled by Beijing as part of “harmonious Silk Roads”.

Xi himself, as a post-modern pilgrim, detailed the connectivity in his keynote speech in Xian: “The China-Kyrgystan-Uzbekistan highway that runs across the Tian shan Mountains, the China-Tajikistan expressway that defies the Pamir Plateau, and the China-Kazakhstan crude oil pipeline and the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline that traverse the vast desert – they are the present-day Silk Road.”

The Revival of the Heartland “Belt”

Xi’s China is once again mirroring lessons from History. What’s happening now brings us back to the first half of the first millennium B.C., when the Persian Achaemenid empire established itself as the largest to date, stretching from India in the east and Central Asia in the northeast to Greece in the west and Egypt in the southwest.

For the first time in history, territories that spanned Asia, Africa and Europe were brought together; and that led to a boom in trade, culture and ethnic interactions (what BRI defines today as “people to people exchanges”).

That’s how we had the Hellenistic world first getting in touch with India and Central Asia – as they set up the first Greek settlements in Bactria (in today’s Afghanistan).

By the end of the first millennium B.C. all the way to the first millennium A.D. an immense area from the Pacific to the Atlantic – encompassing the Han Chinese empire, the Kushan kingdom, the Parthians and the Roman empire, among others – formed “a continuous belt of civilizations, states and cultures”, as Prof. Edvard Rtveladze of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan defined it.

This, in a nutshell, is at heart of the Chinese concept of “belt” and “road”: the “belt” refers to the Heartland, the “road” refers to the Maritime Silk Road.

So slightly less than 2,000 years ago, that was the first time in human history that the borders of several states and kingdoms were immediately adjacent to each other along no less than 11,400 km, from east to west. No wonder the fabled Ancient Silk Road – actually a maze of roads -, the first transcontinental thoroughfare, emerged at the time.

That was a direct consequence of a series of political, economic and cultural whirlwinds involving the peoples of Eurasia. History, in the high acceleration 21st century, is now retracing these steps.

Geography, after all, is destiny. Central Asia was traversed by countless migrations of Near Eastern, Indo-European, Indo-Iranian and Turkic peoples; was the focus of serious intercultural interaction (Iranian, Indian, Turkic, Chinese, Hellenistic cultures); and criss-crossed virtually all major religions (Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Christianity, Islam).

The Organization of Turkic States, led by Turkiye, is even engaged in rebuilding the Turkic identity overtones of the Heartland – a vector that will be developing in parallel to the influence of China and Russia.

That Greater Eurasia Partnership

Russia is evolving its own path. A key debate was held ?t a recent Valdai Club session on the Greater Eurasian Partnership when it comes to the interaction between Russia and the Heartland and neighbors China, India and Iran.

Moscow regards the concept of a Greater Eurasian Partnership as the key framework for achieving much desired “political cohesion” in the post-Soviet space – under the imperative of indivisibility of regional security.

This means, once again, maximum attention towards serial attempts of provoking color revolutions across the Heartland.

As much as in Beijing, there are no illusions in Moscow that the collective West will take no prisoners in regimenting Central Asia to the Russophobic drive. For over a year now Washington for all practical purposes already addresses the Heartland in terms of threats of secondary sanctions and crude ultimatums.

So Central Asia matters only in terms of the evolving hybrid war – and otherwise – against the Russia-China strategic partnership. No fabulous trade and connectivity prospects under the New Silk Roads; no Greater Eurasia Partnership; no security arrangements under the CSTO; no mechanism of economic cooperation like the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

Either you’re a “partner” in the sanctions dementia and/or a secondary front in the war against Russia, or there will be a price to pay.

The “price”, set by the proverbial Straussian neocon psychos currently in charge of US foreign policy, is always the same: proxy war via terror, to be provided by ISIS-Khorasan*, whose black cells are ready to be awakened in selected backwoods of Afghanistan and the Ferghana valley.

Moscow is very much aware of the high stakes. For instance, for a year and a half virtually every month a Russian delegation arrives in Tajikistan to implement, in practice, the “pivot to the East”, developing projects in agriculture, health care, education, science and tourism.

Central Asia should have a leading role in BRICS+ expansion – something supported by both BRICS leaders Russia and China. The idea of a BRICS + Central Asia is being seriously floated from Tashkent to Almaty.

That would imply establishing a strategic continuum from Russia and China to Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia, Africa and Latin America – spanning the logistics of connectivity trade, energy, manufacture production, investment, technological breakthroughs and cultural interaction.

Beijing and Moscow, each in their own way, and with their own formulations, are already setting the framework for this ambitious geoeconomic project to be viable: the Heartland back in action as a protagonist in the forefront of History, just like those kingdoms, merchants and pilgrims of nearly 2,000 years ago.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/29/2023 - 00:00
Published:5/28/2023 11:14:40 PM
[Markets] Stock market today: Asian markets mostly higher after Biden-McCarthy deal on US debt Asian shares are mostly higher after President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached a final agreement on a deal to raise the U.S. national debt ceiling. Tokyo, Sydney and Shanghai advanced while Hong Kong fell. The agreement on the U.S. debt eased what had been a potentially huge threat to markets worldwide. Published:5/28/2023 10:39:45 PM
[Markets] 'The Official Truth': The End Of Free Speech That Will End America 'The Official Truth': The End Of Free Speech That Will End America

Authored by J.B.Shurk via The Gatestone Institute,

If legacy news corporations fail to report that large majorities of the American public now view their journalistic product as straight-up propaganda, does that make it any less true?

According to a survey by Rasmussen Reports, 59% of likely voters in the United States view the corporate news media as "truly the enemy of the people." This is a majority view, held regardless of race: "58% of whites, 51% of black voters, and 68% of other minorities" — all agree that the mainstream media has become their "enemy."

This scorching indictment of the Fourth Estate piggybacks similar polling from Harvard-Harris showing that Americans hold almost diametrically opposing viewpoints from those that news corporations predominantly broadcast as the official "truth."

Drawing attention to the divergence between the public's perceived reality and the news media's prevailing "narratives," independent journalist Glenn Greenwald dissected the Harvard-Harris poll to highlight just how differently some of the most important issues of the last few years have been understood. While corporate news fixated on purported Trump-Russia collusion since 2016, majorities of Americans now see this story "as a hoax and a fraud."

While the news media hid behind the Intelligence Community's claims that Hunter Biden's potentially incriminating laptop (allegedly containing evidence of his family's influence-peddling) was a product of "Russian disinformation" and consequently enforced an information blackout on the explosive story during the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election, strong majorities of Americans currently believe the laptop's contents are "real." In other words, Americans have correctly concluded that journalists and spies advanced a "fraud" on voters as part of an effort to censor a damaging story and "help Biden win." Nevertheless, The New York Times and The Washington Post have yet to return the Pulitzer Prizes they received for reporting totally discredited "fake news."

Similarly, majorities of Americans suspect that President Joe Biden has used the powers of his various offices to profit from influence-peddling schemes and that the FBI has intentionally refrained from investigating any possible Biden crimes. Huge majorities of Americans, in fact, seem not at all surprised to learn that the FBI has been caught abusing its own powers to influence elections, and are strongly convinced that "sweeping reform" is needed. Likewise, large majorities of Americans have "serious doubts about Biden's mental fitness to be president" and suspect that others behind the scenes are "puppeteers" running the nation.

Few, if any, of these poll results have been widely reported. In a seemingly-authoritarian disconnect with the American people, corporate news media continue to ignore the public's majority opinion and instead "relentlessly advocate" those viewpoints that Americans "reject." When journalists fail to investigate facts and deliberately distort stories so that they fit snugly within preconceived worldviews, reporters act as propagandists.

Constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley recently asked, "Do we have a de facto state media?" In answering his own question, he notes that the news blackout surrounding congressional investigations into Biden family members who have allegedly received more than ten million dollars in suspicious payments from foreign entities "fits the past standards used to denounce Russian propaganda patterns and practices." After Republican members of Congress traced funds to nine Biden family members "from corrupt figures in Romania, China, and other countries," Turley writes, "The New Republic quickly ran a story headlined 'Republicans Finally Admit They Have No Incriminating Evidence on Joe Biden.'"

Excoriating the news media's penchant for mindlessly embracing stories that hurt former President Donald Trump while simultaneously ignoring stories that might damage President Biden, Turley concludes:

"Under the current approach to journalism, it is the New York Times that receives a Pulitzer for a now debunked Russian collusion story rather than the New York Post for a now proven Hunter Biden laptop story."

Americans now evidently view the major sources for their news and information as part of a larger political machine pushing particular points of view, unconstrained by any ethical obligation to report facts objectively or dispassionately seek truth. That Americans now see the news media in their country as serving a similar role as Pravda did for the Soviet Union's Communist Party is a significant departure from the country's historic embrace of free speech and traditional fondness for a skeptical, adversarial press.

Rather than taking a step back to consider the implications such a shift in public perception will have for America's future stability, some officials appear even more committed to expanding government control over what can be said and debated online. After the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in the wake of public backlash over First Amendment concerns, halted its efforts to construct an official "disinformation governance board" last year, the question remained whether other government attempts to silence or shape online information would rear their head. The wait for that answer did not take long.

The government apparently took the public's censorship concerns so seriously that it quietly moved on from the collapse of its plans for a "disinformation governance board" within the DHS and proceeded within the space of a month to create a new "disinformation" office known as the Foreign Malign Influence Center, which now operates from within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Although ostensibly geared toward countering information warfare arising from "foreign" threats, one of its principal objectives is to monitor and control "public opinion and behaviors."

As independent journalist Matt Taibbi concludes of the government's resurrected Ministry of Truth:

"It's the basic rhetorical trick of the censorship age: raise a fuss about a foreign threat, using it as a battering ram to get everyone from Congress to the tech companies to submit to increased regulation and surveillance. Then, slowly, adjust your aim to domestic targets."

If it were not jarring enough to learn that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has picked up the government's speech police baton right where the DHS set it down, there is ample evidence to suggest that officials are eager to go much further in the near future. Democrat Senator Michael Bennet has already proposed a bill that would create a Federal Digital Platform Commission with "the authority to promulgate rules, impose civil penalties, hold hearings, conduct investigations, and support research."

Filled with "disinformation" specialists empowered to create "enforceable behavioral codes" for online communication — and generously paid for by the Biden Administration with taxpayers' money — the special commission would also "designate 'systemically important digital platforms' subject to extra oversight, reporting, and regulation" requirements. Effectively, a small number of unelected commissioners would have de facto power to monitor and police online communication.

Should any particular website or platform run afoul of the government's First Amendment Star Chamber, it would immediately place itself within the commission's crosshairs for greater oversight, regulation, and punishment.

Will this new creation become an American KGB, Stasi or CCP — empowered to target half the population for disagreeing with current government policies, promoting "wrongthink," or merely going to church? Will a small secretive body decide which Americans are actually "domestic terrorists" in the making? US Attorney General Merrick Garland has gone after traditional Catholics who attend Latin mass, but why would government suspicions end with the Latin language? When small commissions exist to decide which Americans are the "enemy," there is no telling who will be designated as a "threat" and punished next.

It is not difficult to see the dangers that lie ahead. Now that the government has fully inserted itself into the news and information industry, the criminalization of free speech is a very real threat. This has always been a chief complaint against international institutions such as the World Economic Forum that spend a great deal of time, power, and money promoting the thoughts and opinions of an insular cabal of global leaders, while showing negligible respect for the personal rights and liberties of the billions of ordinary citizens they claim to represent.

WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab has gone so far as to hire hundreds of thousands of "information warriors" whose mission is to "control the Internet" by "policing social media," eliminating dissent, disrupting the public square, and "covertly seed[ing] support" for the WEF's "Great Reset." If Schwab's online army were not execrable enough, advocates for free speech must also gird themselves for the repercussions of Elon Musk's appointment of Linda Yaccarino, reportedly a "neo-liberal wokeist" with strong WEF affiliations, as the new CEO of Twitter.

Throughout much of the West, unfortunately, free speech has been only weakly protected when those with power find its defense inconvenient or messages a nuisance. It is therefore of little surprise to learn that French authorities are now prosecuting government protesters for "flipping-off" President Emmanuel Macron. It does not seem particularly astonishing that a German man has been sentenced to three years in prison for engaging in "pro-Russian" political speech regarding the war in Ukraine. It also no longer appears shocking to read that UK Technology and Science Secretary Michelle Donelan reportedly seeks to imprison social media executives who fail to censor online speech that the government might subjectively adjudge "harmful." Sadly, as Ireland continues to find new ways to punish citizens for expressing certain points of view, its movement toward criminalizing not just speech but also "hateful" thoughts should have been predictable.

From an American's perspective, these overseas encroachments against free speech — especially within the borders of closely-allied lands — have seemed sinister yet entirely foreign. Now, however, what was once observed from some distance has made its way home; it feels as if a faraway communist enemy has finally stormed America's beaches and come ashore in force.

Not a day seems to go by without some new battlefront opening up in the war on free speech and free thought. The Richard Stengel of the Council on Foreign Relations has been increasingly vocal about the importance of journalists and think tanks to act as "primary provocateurs" and "propagandists" who "have to" manipulate the American population and shape the public's perception of world events. Senator Rand Paul has alleged that the DHS uses at least 12 separate programs to "track what Americans say online," as well as to engage in social media censorship.

As part of its efforts to silence dissenting arguments, the Biden administration is pursuing a policy that would make it unlawful to use data and datasets that reflect accurate information yet lead to "discriminatory outcomes" for "protected classes." In other words, if the data is perceived to be "racist," it must be expunged. At the same time, the Department of Justice has indicted four radical black leftists for having somehow "weaponized" their free speech rights in support of Russian "disinformation." So, objective datasets can be deemed "discriminatory" against minorities, while actual discrimination against minorities' free speech is excused when that speech contradicts official government policy.

Meanwhile, the DHS has been exposed for paying tens of millions of dollars to third-party "anti-terrorism" programs that have not so coincidentally equated Christians, Republicans, and philosophical conservatives to Germany's Nazi Party. Similarly, California Governor Gavin Newsom has set up a Soviet-style "snitch line" that encourages neighbors to report on each other's public or private displays of "hate."

Finally, ABC News proudly admits that it has censored parts of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s interviews because some of his answers include "false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines." Essentially, the corporate news media have deemed Kennedy's viewpoints unworthy of being transmitted and heard, even though the 2024 presidential candidate is running a strong second behind Joe Biden in the Democrat primary, with around 20% support from the electorate.

Taken all together, it is clear that not only has the war on free speech come to America, but also that it is clobbering Americans in a relentless campaign of "shock and awe." And why not? In a litigation battle presently being waged over the federal government's extensive censorship programs, the Biden administration has defended its inherent authority to control Americans' thoughts as an instrumental component of "government infrastructure." What Americans think and believe is openly referred to as part of the nation's "cognitive infrastructure" — as if the Matrix movies were simply reflecting real life.

Today, America's mainstream news corporations are already viewed as processing plants that manufacture political propaganda. That is an unbelievably searing indictment of a once-vibrant free press in the United States. It is also, unfortunately, only the first heavy shoe to drop in the war against free speech. Many Chinese-Americans who survived the Cultural Revolution look around the country today and see similarities everywhere. During that totalitarian "reign of terror," everything a person did was monitored, including what was said while asleep.

In an America now plagued with the stench of official "snitch lines," censorship of certain presidential candidates, widespread online surveillance, a resurrected "disinformation governance board," and increasingly frequent criminal prosecutions targeting Americans who exercise their free speech, the question is not whether what we inaudibly think or say in our sleep will someday be used against us, but rather how soon that day will come unless we stop it. After all, with smartphones, smart TVs, "smart" appliances, video-recording doorbells, and the rise of artificial intelligence, somebody, somewhere is always listening.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 23:00
Published:5/28/2023 10:04:24 PM
[Markets] State Farm won’t insure new Calif. customers due to wildfires, high costs State Farm said it will no longer accept homeowner insurance applications in California, pointing to growing “catastrophe exposure” and the high cost to rebuild. Published:5/28/2023 9:45:26 PM
[Markets] Key Words: Nvidia CEO tells graduates: Take advantage of AI or get left behind Jensen Huang told graduates that businesses and individuals alike need to become familiar with artificial intelligence or risk missing out. Published:5/28/2023 9:25:46 PM
[Markets] Comedian Arrested In Beijing As Informants Become Norm Again In China, Eroding Mutual Trust Comedian Arrested In Beijing As Informants Become Norm Again In China, Eroding Mutual Trust

Authored by Jessica Mao and Olivia Li via The Epoch Times,

Recently, there is a growing trend of people informing on others secretly in Chinese society, with multiple high profile incidents occurring in succession. Current affairs analysts point out that the culture of reporting others to the authorities is a typical product of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ideology, and breeds a lack of trust between people.

On May 13, famous Chinese stand-up comedian Li Haoshi used a Chinese military slogan to commend his adopted stray dogs in two of his performances in Beijing.

The slogan he used, to “have good conduct and capable of winning battles,” was originally Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s words when he set a goal for the People’s Liberation Army.

An audience member reported on him, saying that he had insulted Chinese soldiers.

Beijing then police arrested Li, saying that they had opened an official investigation into his performance. Li and the comedy firm he worked with were suspended from future performances and heavily fined.

On May 19, the Kunlun Institute, a self-proclaimed independent Chinese research institute, republished an old article from 2021 on its official website, criticizing Chinese painter and sculpture artist Yue Minjun for engaging in an “organized and orchestrated campaign of insulting the military and opposing the Chinese Communist Party” with an art museum in Shunde, Guangdong.

In the article, Kunlun’s guest commentator, Yang Zhaoyou, posted several paintings featuring Chinese communist soldiers and others. Each of the characters has an absurdly exaggerated smile, and some of them even had horns on their heads. These characters are based on ordinary soldiers, police officers, communist model soldier Lei Feng, and communist leaders such as Mao Zedong, Stalin, and Karl Marx.

The article said these characters are “not to be insulted” and the author “strongly requests the relevant authorities to investigate this organized insult” to the military and the CCP.

After the article was published, some Chinese social media users also launched attacks against Yue Minjun but others felt that the criticism of Yue was too far-fetched.

In another incident on May 22, a Chinese netizen reported in an online post that a teacher at Lanzhou University, when lecturing in a classroom, publicly discredited the CCP’s propaganda of the Korean War, which the Chinese regime refers to as “The War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea.”

According to two pictures in the teaching slides, the teacher presented the opposite view of what the CCP depicts as “aiding North Korea and defending our motherland.”

Totalitarian System Controls People’s Minds through Informants

Former Capital Normal University professor Li Yuanhua told The Epoch Times that authoritarian rulers are afraid of public opinion and often get increasingly paranoid about controlling people. Under communism in China, people are not allowed to think and express themselves freely, and rulers control people’s thoughts through informants and mutual supervision.

“When words are crimes, it is actually tantamount to strengthening authoritarianism, and strengthening authoritarianism means that the authoritarians lack the self-confidence to rule, and have to resort to more controls to solidify their power,” Li said.

Li believes that the continued development of this trend will have an erosive effect on people’s minds, and that there will be a lack of genuine trust between people. Even if they have ideas, people are afraid to express them for fear that they will be reported or ratted out by others.

Product of Communist Culture

New Zealand-based political commentator Ye Zhiqiu told The Epoch Times that the practice of informing on others is a typical product of culture under communist rule, which has two distinctive features.

“One is that it does not distinguish between right and wrong, but only emphasizes political stance,” he said. “In other words, those who are reported and denounced are reported not because they have broken the law or violated social morality, but simply because their words and deeds do not conform to the views and stance propagated by the CCP. This phenomenon is also a product of decades of the CCP’s brainwashing education, which has ultimately led to intolerance of dissenting voices.”

“Another significant feature of this phenomenon—the most serious problem—is that it usually occurs among acquaintances. The informants often report on people they know well, which destroys trust,” Ye said, adding that the CCP’s long-term brainwashing education makes people lose their humanity, leaving only the so-called communist party spirit.

He believes that there needs to be a basic trust between people in order for society to operate normally.

“But under communist rule, especially during the Cultural Revolution, even husbands and wives could inform on each other, and children were encouraged to report their parents’ behavior to the authorities. This eventually led to the dire consequence that people in society became enemies of each other and lost trust in each other, which made society very deformed. This is exactly what the CCP wants, because when people guard against or even fight against one another, it is difficult for them to unite and effectively join forces against the CCP,” Ye said.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 22:00
Published:5/28/2023 9:25:46 PM
[Markets] Top 10 Cheapest Beach Homes In America Top 10 Cheapest Beach Homes In America

The 30yr fixed mortgage rate is back above 7% for the first time since early March. Housing affordability is the worst in decades. Those still searching for a beach home but don't want to pay Hamptons or South Florida prices have other options that are still considered "affordable." 

A new report via reveals the top ten most affordable beach towns for homebuyers this summer. To find these affordable homes, Realtor analysts used listing data for every home put on the market in the past year located within a one-mile radius of each beach." 

"We then selected the most affordable beach towns by price per square foot. Only locations with at least 50 properties within a mile of the water in the past year were included," they said. 

Topping the list as the most affordable beach home community in the US is Gulfport, Mississippi, with an average median home price of around $225,000 within 1 mile of the beach. The median price per square footage within 1 mile of the beach was $144. 

Second on the list is Newport News, Virginia, with average home prices within 1 mile of a beach around $220,000 and the median price per square foot around $150. 

"The city is perched on the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula, where the James River meets the Chesapeake Bay near its mouth to the Atlantic Ocean," Realtor said. 

The rest of the list includes:

3. New London, Conn.

4. Grand Isle, La.

5. Corpus Christi, Texas

6. Atlantic City, NJ.

7. Navarre, Fla.

8. North Beach, Md.

9. Crescent City, Calif.

10. Shirley, N.Y.

Most of the affordable beach towns can be found in the South, Mid-Atlantic, or Northeast regions. However, Northern California also has one reasonably priced beach town. 

Affordability challenges persist, with the mortgage rates back above 7%. 

The beach towns listed above are gems of affordability. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 20:30
Published:5/28/2023 7:40:46 PM
[Markets] Lululemon Fires Two Store Employees For Calling Police On Masked Robbers Lululemon Fires Two Store Employees For Calling Police On Masked Robbers

America's descent toward lawlessness is most visible at retail stores in progressive metro areas. The latest incident occurred at a Lululemon store in Atlanta. Three masked men pillaged the store while two employees wearing overpriced yoga pants were fired by corporate for calling the police to report the robbery. 

Local media outlet WXIA said Jennifer Ferguson, the former assistant manager of the Peachtree Corners Lululemon, and Rachel Rogers, a former employee at the store, encountered the men in "masks and hoodies" who "swiped" as much merchandise as they could before sprinting out the door.

"No, no, no, you can march back out," Ferguson said in a video that caught the entire robbery. One of the robbers told her, "Chill, b-tch, shut your ass up." 

New York Post said the thieves had robbed the store several times because Lululemon has a "zero-tolerance policy" on chasing or physically engaging with a robber. Although both employees did not physically try to stop the masked men, they called the police to report the theft. 

"We are not supposed to get in the way. You kind of clear path for whatever they're going to do.

"And then, after it's over, you scan a QR code. And that's that. We've been told not to put it in any notes, because that might scare other people. We're not supposed to call the police, not really supposed to talk about it," Ferguson told WXIA. 

In a Facebook post, the assistant manager's husband, Jason Ferguson, said, "My wife was terminated from her job at Lululemon for 'breaking employee handbook policy' of not interfering with a burglary." He continued:

Lululemon representatives held a zoom call a few days after the incident to learn what Jenn knew about the policy. Then, a few days later, they scheduled a follow-up zoom call where they terminated her citing the company's "zero-tolerance policy" in these situations. No warning. No coaching. No additional training. Just. Fired. Georgia being an at-will employment state, employers can do that whenever they wish. That is their right. But it doesn't make it right. Especially in this situation.

Jason Ferguson said the regional manager told his wife and the other former employee that calling the police would "look bad for Lululemon." 

Lululemon appears to have an open-invite policy for thieves, which puts its employees in harm's way. Not intervening physically is probably smart because who wants to die over expensive yoga pants made in Southeast Asia? However, terminating employees for simply calling the police is upside-down clown world stuff. We hope Lululemon fixes these broken policies and puts more effort towards protecting employees and improving work conditions. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 19:30
Published:5/28/2023 7:00:28 PM
[Markets] Biden, McCarthy finalize debt-ceiling deal, but now must sell it to Congress Biden, McCarthy finalize debt-ceiling deal, but now must sell it to Congress Published:5/28/2023 6:21:26 PM
[Markets] Children's Hospital 'Health Hero' Award Given To Trans Democrat Pushing Child Sex Changes Children's Hospital 'Health Hero' Award Given To Trans Democrat Pushing Child Sex Changes

The Children's Minnesota hospital system awarded state Rep. Leigh Finke an award last week after authoring a bill designed to promote child sex changes, the Daily Caller reports.

Screenshot/YouTube/Leigh Finke

Finke, a transgender individual, authored Minnesota's HF146, the so-called "trans refuge" bill, which would prevent the enforcement of out-of-state laws that would remove a child from parents who cross state lines to administer transgender medical interventions, such as hormones or puberty blockers.

"The law protects access to gender affirming care for Minnesotans and for those traveling to Minnesota from other states," said Children's Minnesota in a statement.

The legislation was signed into law on April 27 by Gov. Tim Walz (D).

Finke was also the author of a bill that would strip anti-pedophile language from the state’s existing anti-discrimination law. The law currently excludes sexual attraction to children from its list of legally protected sexual orientations, but Finke’s bill would remove language specifying that exclusion, which activists have argued could lead to pedophilia being interpreted as a protected sexual orientation.

Republican state Rep. Harry Niska later proposed an amendment to the bill that would clarify that pedophilia is not a protected class, which was adopted unanimously. -Daily Caller

According to Children's Minnesota, it's "the only health system in the state that cares exclusively for children" via two hospitals and 25 other facilities for primary care.

Meanwhile, similar "trans refuge" legislation has been passed in California, after states like Utah and Florida passed legislation to restrict sex change procedures on children.

"I am extremely honored to be presented the Health Hero Award from Children’s Minnesota. At a time when young children are exploring who they are, and where they fit in society, we need to advocate and fight for their right to discover those identities with dignity and compassion," said Rep. Finke.

Or maybe wait till they're 18, when society deems people to be adults capable of making major decisions for themselves?

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 18:30
Published:5/28/2023 5:52:39 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Rise On Debt-Ceiling Deal; Tesla Leads 9 Stocks Near Buy Points Futures rose on a tentative debt-ceiling deal to avoid default. Tesla leads nine stocks near buy points in the AI-led market rally. Published:5/28/2023 5:52:39 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Rise; Debt-Ceiling Deal Is Relief For AI-Led Market Rally Futures rose on a tentative debt-ceiling deal to avoid default. Tesla leads nine stocks near buy points in the AI-led market rally. Published:5/28/2023 5:36:16 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Rise: Market Rally Reacts To Debt-Ceiling Deal Futures rose on a tentative debt-ceiling deal to avoid default. Tesla leads nine stocks near buy points in the AI-led market rally. Published:5/28/2023 5:25:16 PM
[Markets] Bill To Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms Advances In California Senate Bill To Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms Advances In California Senate

Authored by Jill McLaughlin via The Epoch Times,

A bill to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms cleared the California Senate May 24, reaching the halfway point in the state’s effort to legalize the drug, despite increasing opposition by law enforcement and many citizens.

Senate Bill 58 was introduced in December by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who said criminalizing drug use and possession does nothing but fill up prisons with people who are addicted.

“We shouldn’t be criminalizing people for personal use of these non-addictive substances,” Wiener said in a May 24 statement.

If passed, the bill would allow the cultivation, transfer, and transportation of fungi or other plant-based materials that can be used as ingredients for the drugs, according to the bill text.

Psilocybin is found in a variety of mushrooms and can be produced synthetically. The bill would only allow plant-based psychedelic drugs for use by people 21 years old and older.

Ingesting the drug can cause sensory perception changes, including auditory and visual hallucinations. The drug’s effects after ingestion can begin within 20 to 90 minutes and can last up to 12 hours in some cases, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Several law enforcement associations, local California governments, and organizations are opposed to legalizing the substance, including the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the City of Beverly Hills, the California State Sheriffs’ Association, California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Concerned Women for America, and many others.

The California District Attorneys Association opposed the measure, expressing concern that legalizing the drugs for recreational use is not grounded in scientific evidence.

“While we are sympathetic to proponents who argue that the veteran population might benefit therapeutically from exploration of these substances, these drugs are Schedule I controlled substances for a reason,” the association said, according to a Senate analysis of the bill. “They have no federally accepted medical use and have a high probability of misuse.”

The California Contract Cities Association was also against legalization and was concerned about public safety risks associated with the cultivation and transportation of the materials.

“This means that more hallucinogenic drugs would be able to move across local jurisdictions in far greater numbers with insufficient oversight or accountability from local agencies,” the cities association wrote in a Senate analysis. “This is very worrisome from the perspective of local decision-making authorities like our member cities.”

Support for the bill includes the Hippie and a Veteran Foundation, Initiate Justice, the Alameda County Democratic Party, the California Association of Social Rehabilitation Agencies, and the California Public Defenders Association. The cities of West Hollywood and Eureka are also in favor of the bill.

Clinical trials are underway to study its use for treating depression and other mental health disorders, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

The association determined in a 2020 study that while research is still preliminary, psychedelics show promise for treating conditions including treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder but the drugs were not ready for use as a treatment.

Psychedelic mushrooms are still illegal under U.S. federal law. The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated psilocybin, the substance found in psychedelic mushrooms, as a “breakthrough therapy,” speeding up the development and review of the drug to treat serious conditions.

Preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy in clinical studies, according to the FDA.

Local measures to deprioritize the policing or prosecution of conduct related to hallucinogens have passed in Oakland and Santa Cruz. Ann Arbor, Michigan, Denver, and Washington, D.C., have also passed similar measures.

Oregon and Colorado have passed similar measures to decriminalize psilocybin and legalize it for supervised use.

The legislation is a stripped-down version of a bill proposed by the same senator in 2021. That bill, which would have legalized plant-based and synthetic psychedelics—such as MDMA, LSD, and ketamine—failed to pass.

In Wiener’s San Francisco district, rampant drug use has contributed to runaway homelessness throughout the city. The city passed a motion in 2022 calling for law enforcement to deprioritize investigations and arrests of adults found in possession of psychedelics.

Last month, dozens of residents and advocates protested at San Francisco City Hall against open-air drug markets and unsafe streets. Rally organizer Ricci Wynne told The Epoch Times data showed that the most prominent issues in San Francisco stem from drug use and drug dealing.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 18:00
Published:5/28/2023 5:05:04 PM
[Markets] Bud Light Offers $2.99 18-Pack After Sales Tumble Accelerates Bud Light Offers $2.99 18-Pack After Sales Tumble Accelerates

Bud Light is offering a massive Memorial Day weekend discount: $2.99 for an 18-pack of Bud Light or Budweiser, bringing the price per can down to just pennies. This aggressive pricing strategy is an attempt by the brewer to stimulate demand as an ongoing boycott dents sales for the sixth consecutive week

Twitter handle Ramp Capital spotted the promotion on Saturday that reads, "Easy To Enjoy Memorial Day Weekend ... Get Up To $15 Back Via Rebate On The Purchase Of One (1) Budweiser, Bud Light, Budweiser Select, Or Budweiser Selection 55' 15-Pack Or Larger." 

Before taxes plus the rebate, an 18-pack of beer costs around 17 cents per can. Ramp Capital said, "17 cents per beer is cheaper than water." 

The rebate follows Anheuser-Busch's disastrous partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney which sparked a boycott by conservatives. Then when Anheuser-Busch pulled support from Mulvaney, it unleashed a boycott among the trans community.

According to Fox News, citing new data from trade publication Beer Business Daily, Bud Light sales volumes for the week ending May 13 plunged 28.4%, following a 27.7% decline the week before. 

The boycott hasn't been limited to just Bud Light. Other Anheuser-Busch products, such as Budweiser Red, recorded a 14.9% decline for that week, and Michelob Ultra fell 6.8%. 

On the flip side, Business Daily said beer drinkers gravitated to Bud Light's competitors, sending sales of Coors Light up 16.9% and Miller Lite up 15.1%. 

Beer Business Daily analysts pointed out more discounting is likely throughout the summer as Bud Light and Budweiser sales stumble and wholesalers are left with rising inventories due to lackluster demand. 

"This could be a promotional summer the likes we haven't seen since after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, where there was so much beer inventory backed up in the trade that it initiated the price war of all price wars," Beer Business Daily said.

Since Bud Light's promotion with Mulvaney on TikTok and the resulting boycott, investors have penalized Anheuser-Busch with a $19 billion wipeout in market cap.  

Bud Light's marketing blunder isn't ending anytime soon. And along the way, other companies like Target and North Face have yet to learn from Bud Light.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 16:30
Published:5/28/2023 3:39:08 PM
[Markets] Will it pass? Questions now turn to selling the debt ceiling deal. House GOP and Democratic leaders must overcome numerous hurdles as they assess whether they have enough votes to push through a debt ceiling compromise bill. Published:5/28/2023 2:09:04 PM
[Markets] Jamie Dimon Denies Involvement With Epstein In Lengthy Deposition As Erdoes Admits She Was Alerted Of Sex Crimes Jamie Dimon Denies Involvement With Epstein In Lengthy Deposition As Erdoes Admits She Was Alerted Of Sex Crimes

Jeffrey Epstein may (not) have killed himself but the questions surrounding his life (and death) continue to swirl and on Friday, none other than billionaire JPM CEO Jamie "That's why i'm richer than you" Dimon was questioned under oath for hours by lawyers in two lawsuits in which the largest US bank was accused of knowingly benefiting from Epstein’s sex-trafficking; Dimon, of course, denied any involvement with the financier’s accounts. According to Bloomberg, Dimon finished his deposition Friday and the deposition will not continue into a second day.

JPM spokeswoman Patricia Wexler said Dimon repeatedly confirmed that he never met or emailed Epstein and was not involved in decisions about his account.

“There are millions and millions of emails and other documents that have been produced in this case and not one comes close to even suggesting that he had any role in decisions about Epstein’s accounts,” Wexler said.

Despite the bank downplaying Dimon's involvement, JPMorgan had insisted that details of the deposition not be made public, Doe’s lawyer Brad Edwards said. Since the bank commented, he challenged it to release the full transcript of the testimony “rather than mislead anyone.”

“Then, the world can put their comment in context and decide for themselves what they thought of Mr. Dimon’s testimony as a whole,” he said.

While the bank’s lawyers had previously fought efforts to have Dimon questionedd, arguing he had no involvement in Epstein’s 15-year relationship with JPMorgan, the failed. Lawyers for Jane Doe and the US Virgin Islands, who are suing the bank separately for aiding Epstein’s sex trafficking, had the option of asking a federal court judge to extend Dimon’s deposition into Saturday.

JPMorgan has denied claims it knew of Epstein’s sex trafficking but decided to keep him on as a client anyway between 1998 and 2013. It has filed its own lawsuit against former executive Jes Staley, claiming he should be held liable for any damages awarded against the bank as he vouched for Epstein.

The nearly nine-hour deposition of JPMorgan's Mary Erdoes which took place two months ago, and whose details were finally revealed, delivered more fireworks.

When Erdoes, who leads the bank’s asset and wealth management division, learned a court had affirmed Jeffrey Epstein’s status as a sex offender likely to harm more victims, she had a terse response.

“Oh boy,” Mary Erdoes wrote in a 2011 email to a fellow executive at JPMorgan Chase, where Epstein was a client for 15 years.

It was at least the sixth time Erdoes had been alerted to Epstein’s criminal or civil legal trouble for sex crimes, according to the WaPo. She had also been informed as early as 2006 that JPMorgan flagged suspicious activity on his accounts.

Erdoes’s statements shed new light on the actions of JPMorgan’s highest-ranking officials while Epstein’s conduct faced legal and public scrutiny.

The Washington Post obtained the transcript of the deposition, much of which has been unreported until now.

Officials from the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned a private island and gaudy mansion, and attorneys for his victims claim the bank was complicit in funding Epstein’s long history of abuse and child sex trafficking. A complaint filed last month by the U.S. Virgin Islands cites Erdoes’s deposition as evidence that JPMorgan knew of accusations against Epstein years before the bank severed ties with him.

Not until 2013 did the bank end its business relationship with Epstein, identifying the financier’s routine and massive cash withdrawals as the reason for terminating the relationship.

JPMorgan has rejected the allegations in the lawsuit and expressed regret for its past association with Epstein.

“We all now understand that Epstein’s behavior was monstrous, and his victims deserve justice — but these suits are misplaced as we did not help him commit his heinous crimes,” JPMorgan spokeswoman Patricia Wexler said in a statement.

He is, of course, a monster now that he is dead and can't reveal who else may be a monster. Previously he was just a well-paying client.

The deposition transcript shows Erdoes said she had been made aware of Epstein’s convictions for sexual offenses, his status as a high-risk sex offender, and public allegations of abuse of minors and human trafficking. But she said she didn’t think it was her responsibility to remove him as a client, launch an inquiry into his accounts or refer them to compliance officials. JPMorgan has a separate process for dealing with client-related legal issues, she said.

Jes Staley, Erdoes’s supervisor and one of Epstein’s close friends, did investigate the allegations against Epstein by asking the financier about them, according to records read during the deposition. JPMorgan in a statement said it was “unfair for The Post to draw these kinds of conclusions without context for the relevant processes at JPMorgan, the tens of millions of clients, and the many professionals involved.”

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. is set to give a deposition on June 6. JPMorgan in a filing Thursday accused government officials on the islands of shielding Epstein from law enforcement officials in exchange for political donations. Attorneys for the U.S. Virgin Islands called the claim “an obvious attempt to shift blame away from JPMorgan Chase.”

Deutsche Bank, where Epstein took much of his wealth after leaving JPMorgan in 2013, recently agreed to pay $75 million to settle a similar suit.

The lawsuits against the investment banks concern the extent to which various people in Epstein’s orbit are accused of enabling the sprawling sex trafficking operation that led to his arrest in 2019, or at least looking the other way — and profiting — when they should have intervened (although how would they when Epstein had sexual dirt on everyone).  U.S. Virgin Islands attorneys say JPMorgan “knowingly facilitated, sustained, and concealed” Epstein’s human trafficking network, while profiting from deals and clients Epstein brought into the bank.

Of course, JPMorgan has denied any wrongdoing and said the claims in the U.S. Virgin Islands complaint are meritless. The company has also sued Staley, accusing him of acting on his own to advance Epstein’s interests.

In her deposition, Erdoes said that it was the responsibility of the bank’s legal team to exert controls on Epstein’s accounts and that Staley communicated with him about the bank’s periodic concerns.

“The process by which those things work is that legal risk, compliance, including supervisory management … have a natural process they go to when they have things like this that get alerted to them,” she said, only in this case clearly every single process failed.

That is a fair description of how most major banks’ compliance systems should work, said Eric Chaffee, a professor at the University of Toledo College of Law. But he added that after repeated unexplained suspicious transactions and public reports of criminal behavior, bank officials have a legal responsibility to step in.

“When you have a lot of red flags come up, it’s one of those things where the senior executives certainly have some obligation to be talking to each other and figuring out what’s going on,” Chaffee said. “Ultimately, there does come a point where the bank, the financial institution, becomes outright complicit in regard to the crime.”

Especially when the "client" has dirt on the highest ranking people in said financial institution, and all others for that matter.

Going back to Erdoes deposition, on more than 100 occasions she said she did not recall details of her role helping supervise Epstein’s accounts, some of which date back two decades. She described Epstein’s crimes as “allegations” even though he pleaded guilty to procuring a child prostitute in 2008 and was declared a Level 3 sex offender — the most serious designation — by a New York state appeals court in 2011.

Asked in the March 15 deposition whether she believed Epstein, who died by suicide in 2019, was engaged in sex trafficking, Erdoes said, “I don’t know what to believe.”

Epstein first opened accounts at JPMorgan in 1998, and became one of the bank's most important clients.

Through his own accounts and the ones he managed for former Victoria’s Secret CEO Leslie Wexner, Epstein “generate[d] one of the largest annual revenue flows of private clients in the private bank,” reads a JPMorgan due diligence report from 2003, when the private bank was considerably smaller, cited in the deposition. (Wexner severed ties with Epstein in 2008, and later said Epstein misappropriated $46 million of the Wexner family’s money.)

A 2006 internal bank report referenced Epstein’s routine cash withdrawals several times a month in amounts ranging from $40,000 to $80,000, adding up to more than $750,000 a year.

By 2008, Epstein had $121 million in accounts with JPMorgan, records read during the deposition show. But Epstein, a self-described money manager, sought to bring the bank more business, according to legal filings, and profit from fees associated with the work.

Throughout that period, according to filings, Epstein benefited from the friendship and internal advocacy of Staley, who preceded Erdoes as head of JPMorgan’s wealth management unit.

Staley, who became the head of British bank Barclays in 2015, described a “profound” friendship with Epstein, according to court records. He resigned from Barclays in 2021 after U.K. regulators launched an investigation into his relationship with Epstein.

Why was he "profoundly" friendly with Epstein? Simple: text messages and emails entered into evidence by the U.S. Virgin Islands suggest “albeit cryptically, that Mr. Staley had sexual encounters” with Epstein’s trafficking victims, Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the Southern District of New York wrote in a May order in the U.S. Virgin Islands case.

In a 2006 email exchange with Staley that was read during the deposition, Erdoes described a Palm Beach Post article about Epstein being accused of soliciting minors as “so painful to read.”

Staley responded: “I went and saw him last night. I’ve never seen him so shaken. He adamantly denies the ages.”

Not the charges... the ages. Because one can obviously confuse a 14-year-old with a 34-year-old.

Staley’s departure from JPMorgan in 2013 allowed Erdoes to end the bank’s relationship with Epstein, she said in the deposition. “There was no one there to vouch for Mr. Epstein,” Erdoes said.

Meanwhile, in a legal filing last month, Staley’s attorneys said JPMorgan’s claims amount to “provocative media fodder,” but “never explain how an employee [Staley] who is not alleged to have had decision-making authority over Epstein’s accounts — and who is not alleged to have seen any of the suspicious account activity that other JPMorgan employees ignored — caused the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries.”

Around that time, she said, she became aware that Epstein’s regular withdrawals were in cash. At the time, Erdoes said, she did not see Epstein’s criminal history and the withdrawals as related.

“Never at the time was that something that I was connecting in my mind with anything to do with any of the allegations of what he may or may not have done,” she said, because of course it wasn't her - or anyone's job - to connect the dots as long as the pedophile client kept paying millions in fees and being vouched for by the largest US bank .

Wexler said the firm “did not know that such transactions could have had anything to do with a sex trafficking operation.” And yet they did.

During the deposition, Erdoes also said that it was not her responsibility to initiate internal investigations or flag concerns about Epstein’s behavior that arose from legal developments or news reports about his convictions or suspected trafficking. Instead, she said repeatedly that it was the job of the bank’s legal and compliance officers to vet the information.

“My responsibility is not to do something with every piece of news media that comes out on our client base,” she said later.

Internal JPMorgan records referenced in the U.S. Virgin Islands complaint show that bank employees flagged Epstein’s copious cash withdrawals as early as 2006.

In a 2010 internal email also cited in the complaint, risk management officials surfaced “allegations of an investigation related to child trafficking.” In 2011, according to the filings, JPMorgan’s anti-money-laundering compliance director requested re-approval from JPMorgan’s general counsel of the bank’s relationship with Epstein “in light of the new allegations of human trafficking.”

Erdoes later in the deposition appeared to say the bank’s policies were hazy when encountering a client accused but not convicted of certain crimes. “I don’t know what the proper process is when it’s an allegation,” she said.

Only it wasn't merely an "allegation", as everyone knows by now.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 14:30
Published:5/28/2023 1:48:18 PM
[Markets] Target Stores Hit With Bomb Threat After 'Turning Its Back' On LGBTQ+ Community Target Stores Hit With Bomb Threat After 'Turning Its Back' On LGBTQ+ Community

At least five Targets in multiple states received bomb threats Friday over company executives pulling the Pride collection section because of mounting boycotts, leading to multiple stores being evacuated as police and the FBI searched for explosive devices.

"Target is full of [redacted] cowards who turned their back on the LGBT community and decided to cater to homophobic right wing, redneck, bigots, who protested and vandalized their store," reads a threatening email sent to several Target locations in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania, Cleveland 19 News reports.

"We won't stand idly by as the far right continues to hunt us down. We are sending you a message, we placed a bomb in the following Targets. We will continue to bomb your Targets until you stop cowering and bring back your LBGT merchandise. "

One shopper told 19 News, "I know a lot of people around here are not a fan of LGBT that kind of stuff me personally I mean it's whatever. I never thought someone would go as far as a bomb threat." 

In Utah, local media outlet KUTV said, "Bomb threats were made to Target stores in Layton, Salt Lake, Taylorsville, and Provo.

On Thursday, one day before the bomb threat was made, we reported a Fox News insider confirmed Target stores across the South and rural America removed controversial LGBT-themed products ahead of June Pride month to avoid further backlash. Some products ranged from "tuck-friendly" swimsuits for transgender people to gender-fluid coffee mugs. The insider said the reasoning behind such an abrupt move is "to avoid the kind of backlash Bud Light has received in recent weeks."

As we noted last week...

Corporations have freedom of speech under the First Amendment but have to understand if their political ideologies don't align with customers, then the people also have freedom of speech to voice their opinion. That's why corporations should probably stay out of identity politics or risk pissing off both sides, because what Target did by moving pride products to the back and scaling down the section will likely spark outrage in the trans community

And the Target bomb threat comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a diehard progressive, tweeted, "CEO of Target Brian Cornell selling out the LGBTQ+ community to extremists is a real profile in courage."

"This isn't just a couple of stores in the South. There is a systematic attack on the gay community happening across the country," Newsom said. 

Did Newsom's tweet incite the radical left's attack on Target? 

And congrats to Target's executives who have managed to anger conservatives and progressives. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 12:30
Published:5/28/2023 11:38:22 AM
[Markets] Market Snapshot: Stock, bonds, or cash? Here’s investors’ best playbook for the debt ceiling, Fed policy and recession risks Attractive Treasury yields have made the stock market lose some of its shine. Here's how to balance among stocks, bonds and cash. Published:5/28/2023 11:31:37 AM
[Markets] Jobs report, AI hype in focus after debt ceiling deal: What to know this week Investors will have eyes on Friday's jobs report and what's next in the artificial intelligence led rally in stocks. Published:5/28/2023 11:11:26 AM
[Markets] Sorry Our Demographic Karma Ran Over Your Economic Dogma Sorry Our Demographic Karma Ran Over Your Economic Dogma

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Your bogus economic dogma of "growth via the wealth effect" created the demographic karma that will bring down the status quo.

What happens when you bleed your workforce while enriching those who already own assets with one bubble after another, all in the name of "fostering growth"? To answer this, let's modify a felicitous phrase: Sorry Our Demographic Karma Ran Over Your Economic Dogma.

The Demographic Karma is young people can no longer afford houses, healthcare or children and so the birthrate plummets and the workforce shrinks to the point that the bloated, heavily indebted status quo collapses under its own weight.

Demographic-economic chartist CH summed it up very succinctly in a recent Tweet:

@Econimica: Asset/RE bubbles (of assets primarily held by elderly/institutions) must be maintained to avoid a banking/economic crash...but the price will be the ongoing collapse of families/births...saving the present at the expense of the future (again).

This dynamic of Demographic Karma crushing Economic Dogma is global, as evidenced by this Tweet about China's demographic collapse and bubble-economy:

@fuxianyi: Chinese policymakers now face a dilemma: if the real-estate bubble does not burst, young couples will be unable to afford to raise two children. But if the bubble does burst, China's economy will slow, and a global financial crisis will erupt.

The Economic Dogma holds that inflating one speculative credit-asset bubble after another is wonderful because each bubble produces a "wealth effect" in which those who inherited assets or bought assets in the past are greatly enriched by the bubble. Feeling wealthier, they then borrow and spend more freely.

This Economic Dogma--that bubbles are excellent pathways to "growth"--is a form of "trickle down" economics in which the wealthy borrowing and spending more "trickles down" to the middle class and working class.

As the charts below show, this theory is baseless and bankrupt: the rich get richer and richer and everyone else gets poorer and poorer with each bubble. What's "growing" is wealth and income inequality as the demographic consequences of this soaring inequality collapses the social contract.

Let's go through the chart deck.

1. The US workforce is fully employed. Many expect a recession and AI will slash employment and create a pool of unemployed seeking work at low wages, but this isn't how it works. As I'll explain in a future post, the mismatches between the work employers need done and the skills and willingness of the workforce to do the work for the offered wage mean the unemployment rate can be high but workers are still scarce.

2. The expectation that US population and the workforce will ceaselessly expand is not guaranteed, especially if immigration declines. What is guaranteed is the population of retirees will continue rising.

3. Wages' share of the national income has declined for 45 years as the gains of the economy were shifted from labor to capital.

4. The top 1%'s share of wealth soars to new heights in every speculative credit-asset bubble.

5. The middle class's share of wealth plummets in every speculative credit-asset bubble and only gains ground when bubble pop. (We all know what happens when bubble pop: the Federal Reserve fraks out and creates trillions of dollars in stimulus that then flows into the pockets of the wealthy via the next bubble.)

6. Household net worth has skyrocketed far above inflation and the growth of the economy (GDP). As the charts above show, this wealth flowed disproportionately to the top 1%.

7. Thanks to the Fed's latest bubble--The Everything Bubble--housing affordability is at an all-time low. Put another way, the ratio of median income to housing prices is at an all-time high.

8. To stave off the inevitable karmic consequence of extreme wealth inequality--social disorder--the federal government has borrowed and blown tens of trillions of dollars on "fiscal stimulus" to buy the complicity of the 90% left behind.

So sorry Our Demographic Karma Ran Over Your Economic Dogma. Your bogus economic dogma of "growth via the wealth effect" created the demographic karma that will bring down the status quo.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 10:30
Published:5/28/2023 10:09:34 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Loom: Debt-Ceiling Deal In Focus For AI-Led Market Rally Futures loom with a tentative debt-ceiling deal to avoid default in focus. How will the AI-led market rally react? Published:5/28/2023 10:09:34 AM
[Markets] Beat the Dow Jones With This Unstoppable Dividend Stock The health insurer's performance has left the Dow Jones index in the dust over the past 10 years. Published:5/28/2023 9:50:49 AM
[Markets] Gross Domestic Income GDI Suggests US Is In Recession Right Now Gross Domestic Income GDI Suggests US Is In Recession Right Now

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

Gross Domestic Income (GDI) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are two measures of the same thing. But they radically differ in outlook...

GDP and GDI data from the BEA, chart by Mish

Yesterday the BEA released the second estimated of first-quarter 2023 GDP. The GDP rose from +1.1 percent to +1.3 percent. And personal consumption expenditures (PCE) rose from +3.7 percent to +3.8 percent.

The BEA does not release GDI in the advance estimate, but does in the second estimate. 

GDI was -2.3 percent in the first quarter of 2023, and -3.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022.

That's recession territory, but GDP isn't.

GDP and GDI Details

  • Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the first quarter of 2023 according to the "second" estimate released by the BEA. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 2.6 percent.

  • The updated estimates primarily reflected an upward revision to private inventory investment.

  • The increase in real GDP reflected increases in consumer spending, exports, federal government spending, state and local government spending, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by decreases in private inventory investment and residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

  • Real gross domestic income (GDI) decreased 2.3 percent in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 3.3 percent (revised) in the fourth quarter. 

Corporate Profits

  • Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments) decreased $151.1 billion in the first quarter.

  • Profits decreased of $60.5 billion in the fourth quarter.

  • Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased $25.4 billion in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of $59.0 billion in the fourth quarter. 

  • Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations decreased $109.3 billion, compared with a decrease of $22.9 billion. 

  • Rest-of-the-world profits (net) decreased $16.4 billion, in contrast to an increase of $21.4 billion.

Average of GDP and GDI Also Signals Recession

The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, decreased 0.5 percent in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 0.4 percent (revised) in the fourth quarter.

The BEA discusses the average of GDP and GDI because that is what the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) uses as an input to determine recessions.

Even if one averages the numbers, a recession is possible if not likely.

But the NBER is so delayed on its determination.

By the time the NBER releases a recession announcement, it will be clear which one of these sets of numbers is wrong.

[ZH: Mish is not alone in pointing this huge discrepancy out as former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman recently explained in a brieft Twitter thread]

He continued:

Can't know where the negative growth comes from because the expenditure numbers (consumption, investment, etc.) sum to the 1.3% growth. So if that's wrong then one of the components is wrong.

Is why I wish the BEA was more Bayesian in formulating a single number w/ best info.

Reported consumption growth was very strong at 3.8%. Non-residential fixed investment up 1.4%. Inventories subtracted 2.1pp from the growth rate (as measured on the product side), a factor that is likely to be temporary.

On the income side, corporate profits fell for the third straight quarter and are down 2.8% over the last year.

BUT, this reflects a huge loss for the Fed. Taking that out profits down a little in Q1 and up 7.0% in the last quarter.

I have to say, I find all of this a little confusing and want to think more about it and read what others have to say. The numbers are telling wildly varying stories about the truth in the economy. And then that truth itself has some strange aspects to it (like the Fed losses).

If I truly believed the average of GDP + GDI (and I mostly do believe it) then one could reasonably describe the economy as having been in recession for some time, but a very very strange recession with strong employment gains and low unemployment--so a productivity decline.


A recent GDP revision was in the direction of GDI. 

Given that heading into recessions, most revisions tend to be negative, and positive out of recessions, there is no strong reason to pooh-pooh GDI. 

Real Disposable Income is Flat, But Real Spending Jumps 0.5 Percent

Earlier today I noted Real Disposable Income is Flat, But Real Spending Jumps 0.5 Percent

Also note Trade Deficit in Goods Jumps 17 Percent as Imports Surge and Exports Plunge

The latter report sent the GDPNow forecast down from 2.9 percent to 1.9 percent for the second quarter of 2023.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 09:20
Published:5/28/2023 9:01:54 AM
[Markets] US Builds New Base In Northern Syria, Signaling Indefinite Occupation US Builds New Base In Northern Syria, Signaling Indefinite Occupation


The US-led anti-ISIS coalition is building a new military base in Syria’s northern province of Raqqa, The New Arab reported, citing a source close to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The US backs the SDF and keeps about 900 troops (officially at least) in eastern Syria, allowing the US to control about one-third of Syria’s territory. The report said there are currently about 24 US-led military sites spread throughout eastern Syria.

While the US says it’s in Syria to fight ISIS, the presence is part of Washington’s economic war against Damascus, which includes crippling economic sanctions.

ISIS also holds no significant territory, and the Syrian government and its allies would continue to fight the remnants of the terror group if the US withdrew.

But the construction of a new base demonstrates the US plans to continue the occupation indefinitely. In March, the House voted down a resolution introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) that would have ordered President Biden to withdraw from Syria. The legislation failed in a vote of 103-321, with 56 Democrats and 47 Republicans voting in favor of the bill.

The House also recently voted to maintain sanctions on Syria after an earthquake killed thousands of Syrians. Only two members of Congress voted against the legislation.

The US could come under pressure to withdraw from Syria and lift sanctions on the country as more and more regional countries are normalizing ties with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Saudi Arabia spearheaded an effort to bring Syria back into the Arab League despite US objection.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 08:10
Published:5/28/2023 7:40:41 AM
[Markets] Farage: Britain Addicted To "Cheap Imported Labor" And Let Down By "Dishonest, Globalist" Conservative Party Farage: Britain Addicted To "Cheap Imported Labor" And Let Down By "Dishonest, Globalist" Conservative Party

Authored by Thomas Brooke via Remix News,

Former conservative politician Nigel Farage has claimed that post-Brexit net immigration into the U.K. would have fallen below 50,000 a year if he had been in charge, and refused to rule out a return to frontline politics to take on what he described as a “dishonest, establishment, globalist” governing Conservative party that has failed Brexit voters.

The former Brexit Party and UKIP leader spoke to Sky News on Thursday, hours after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the latest immigration figures, which showed net migration had spiraled to 606,000 in the last calendar year — the highest figure ever recorded despite Britain leaving the European Union and supposedly “taking back control” of its borders.

He told interviewer Beth Rigby that the Conservative party had never been serious about implementing the socially conservative pledges its multiple leaders had made during successive general elections, and took aim at former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who instead of enacting a new immigration policy to reduce the numbers which Brexit voters had expected, had relaxed wage thresholds and work visa requirements and overseen the largest explosion of mass immigration into Britain ever recorded.

“A lot of this is down to a breach of trust between what has been promised at elections and what has been delivered,” Farage told viewers.

Asked whether he would advocate reducing net migration even if it meant labor shortages, Farage was unequivocal.

“If that meant there was a realistic chance of people finding somewhere to live, a school for their kids to go to that was local, and people getting access to the NHS, then yes, of course!

“Before 2004, when this really kicked off, cabbages were not rotting in the fields of Lincolnshire. Elderly people were not being left alone in old people’s homes,” the conservative broadcaster stated.

“We’ve now become addicted to cheap, unskilled, foreign imported labor,” Farage added, insisting it was high time this policy of mass immigration was reversed.

Put to him that high levels of immigration have led to economic growth, Farage remained defiant, telling Rigby: “I’ve been hearing this for a quarter of a century! If increasing the British population by 8 million people has added a few decimal points here and there to GDP, so blimmin’ what?

“There is something far more important than the size of our GDP. There is something called community, called quality of life in this country. These are things that nobody in Westminster even talks about,” he added.

The former Brexit Party and UKIP leader was continuously hassled by Rigby throughout the 15-minute interview, who appeared desperate for Farage to admit responsibility for the failure of Brexit, despite the fact he has never been in a position of power and had no authority to implement policies he advocated during the referendum campaign.

If they had put me in charge of (tackling migration), we’d have got to 50,000 a year, but they didn’t,” Farage replied stoically.

“There is nobody more disappointed than me at what this government has done. I would have loved to have been in a position of responsibility, but I wasn’t,” he added.

Farage accused the governing Conservative party of hating the Brexit result and doing all it can to water down its effect. “We’ve had years of hesitancy, and even when they seem to finally get the message, they didn’t get it. They have never, ever as a party, believed in this.

“I look at that 2019 Tory manifesto, the way it was put to the people, and frankly it was a big lie,” he added.

Analyzing the current political landscape in Britain, Farage claimed “the gap between Westminster and where people are is even bigger than it was 10 years ago” and warned that there will soon be “another insurgency in British politics.

“Whether it will be Reform, whether it will be me, whether we get a new Nick Griffin (former leader of the far-right British National Party). Maybe we get genuinely the far-right into British politics, (but) something has got to change.”

Asked by Rigby whether he will ever return to frontline politics, Farage remained coy.

“I don’t know. I haven’t ruled it out, I haven’t ruled it in. If I could see that by doing it there was a really clear achievable goal, then I might well. I haven’t worked that out yet. If we had an electoral system that was representative in some way, then it would be much easier.

“I think if I stood again, it would be a much more revolutionary agenda than just Brexit. It would be fundamental change to the voting system,” he added.

Farage was an eternal thorn in the side of the U.K. Conservative party throughout his career in frontline politics. As UKIP leader during the 2015 general election, his party managed to amass 3.9 million votes — 12.6 percent of the vote share — however, due to the first-past-the-post electoral system in Britain the party won just one parliamentary seat out of 650 available.

The threat of a genuine right-wing party and rising Euroskepticism, however, led Prime Minister David Cameron to promise a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, which ultimately led to the vote for Brexit.

After the vote, Farage went on to found the pop-up Brexit Party ahead of the final European parliamentary elections in Britain and stormed to victory as the largest U.K. party in Brussels.

He later retired from frontline politics and became a broadcaster for the newly launched GB News channel in 2021.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 07:00
Published:5/28/2023 6:28:56 AM
[Markets] As debt ceiling negotiators finalize deal, the nation watches anxiously As Washington inches toward a June 5 deadline to resolve the debt ceiling crisis, everyone is on edge. Published:5/28/2023 5:09:07 AM
[Markets] It's Unlucky No. 13 for Wall Street: Here's What 1 Ominous Economic Indicator Implies Will Happen Next to Stocks Over long stretches, Wall Street has proven to be nothing short of a money machine. The stock market has handily outpaced the annualized returns of bank certificates of deposit (CDs), housing, oil, gold, and Treasury bonds over the long run. Following up one of the strongest years in recent memory in 2021, the widely followed Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI), benchmark S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC), and technology-dependent Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) all plunged into a bear market and produced their worst full-year returns since the financial crisis. Published:5/28/2023 4:22:50 AM
[Markets] Gingrich: Where Are Woodward And Bernstein When We Need Them Gingrich: Where Are Woodward And Bernstein When We Need Them

Authored by Newt Gingrich via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The conspiracy between a corrupt set of bureaucracies (including the Justice Department, the IRS, and the intelligence community) and an equally corrupt and enabling elite media is astonishing. The Durham Report is just one more confirmation of the devastating level of dishonesty and manipulation which have characterized the last few years.

The Department of Justice emblem at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida in downtown Miami is pictured on Jan. 25, 2023. (D.A. Varela/Miami Herald via AP)

Some analysts believe the open corruption can be traced back to Lois Lerner and the IRS scandal, in which she clearly stonewalled conservative organizations from getting tax status. When she was found to be in contempt of Congress, the Obama Justice Department spent two years ignoring the congressional contempt charge and then decided not to prosecute her.

As Congressman Jim Jordan said at the time, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen was “us[ing] his power as a political weapon to undermine the rule of law.” Jordan went on “Mr. Machen … unilaterally decided to ignore the will of the House of Representatives. He and the Justice Department have given Lois Lerner cover for her failure to account for her actions at the IRS.”

The signal had been sent that protecting the left would itself be protected.

This lesson was reinforced in the cover up about the terrorist attack at Benghazi. The Obama administration was worried that the killing of an American ambassador—despite his consistent appeals to the State Department for more security—would hurt the president’s reelection campaign. So, the administration adopted a strategy of simply lying to the American people.

This began the week of the attack when the administration did everything it could to avoid responsibility for a terrorist killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens. In fact, the Obama White House immediately sent former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice on five network shows to blame an American-made anti-Muslim video for causing the supposed unrest. It was exactly what Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick had warned against in her famous “Blame America First” description of liberals. We now know that the entire story was a falsehood, and no one in Benghazi was motivated by a film they had never seen.

When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before Congress, she dismissed the whole question of responsibility for the failure to protect Stevens. She even failed to be honest about his murder famously saying: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”

The leftists in the national bureaucracies learned a big lesson from Lerner and Clinton. Whatever you need to do to defeat the right or protect the left is OK. You can get away with it. There is no responsibility for your actions if you are protecting the corrupt system.

That lesson was publicly driven home in late June 2016, when former President Bill Clinton walked uninvited onto the airplane of Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Phoenix airport. The FBI was investigating the former president’s wife (and Democratic presidential candidate) for a variety of charges including deleting more than 33,000 government emails and having staff destroy computer hard drives with a hammer.

It is hard to imagine anything more inappropriate than a former president visiting an attorney general while his wife (and presidential candidate) was being actively investigated by the FBI.

As then-candidate Donald Trump described in a tweet “Take a look at what happened w/ Bill Clinton. The system is totally rigged. Does anybody really believe that meeting was just a coincidence?”

We now know from the Durham Report—and the reports from Chairman James Comer and the House Oversight Committee—that candidate and then-President Trump has been consistently smeared and defamed by corrupt elements of the Washington bureaucracy on a scale which makes Watergate look trivial.

At the same time, the corrupt system was working overtime to protect Joe Biden and his family. The stunning dual nature of the corruption makes the present moment so dangerous for the future of the rule of law—and the entire constitutional process which has protected American freedom for more than 200 years.

As deeply and persuasively corrupt as the bureaucracy has become, the other great decay since Watergate has been the corruption of the elite media.

The New York Post, Fox News, and a few others have attempted some sense of honest coverage. Smaller conservative publications, podcasts, and social media have called out the big media systems for being active allies of the corrupt bureaucracy. Still, when needed, the elite corporate media have eagerly smeared President Trump and enthusiastically lied to protect the Bidens.

There are no Bob Woodwards or Carl Bernsteins courageously working to uncover the truth and get it published. (Indeed, Woodward has reinvented himself into a chief Trump smear-monger.)

There are no courageous editors like Ben Bradley backing up the reporters.

There are no fearless publishers like Katharine Graham willing to risk lawsuits and withstand the anger of the government.

Today, there is only a corrupt media protecting a corrupt establishment. The challenge to the American people to get at the truth is far more difficult than it was when Richard Nixon was under attack.

The establishment rot threatens our survival as a free people, and it is increasingly difficult to uproot. Where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins when we need them most?

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 23:30
Published:5/27/2023 11:21:00 PM
[Markets] Debt-Ceiling Deal Reached By Biden, Republicans; Now What For Market Rally? President Biden and Republicans reached a tentative debt-ceiling deal Saturday night. That should be positive for the market rally, which has been led by an AI boom. Published:5/27/2023 10:49:23 PM
[Markets] Counterfeit Drugs Are On The Rise Globally Counterfeit Drugs Are On The Rise Globally

Counterfeit medicines are on the rise, according to data from the Pharmaceutical Security Institute.

As Statista's Anna Fleck shows in the following chart shows, nearly 6,000 pharmaceutical crime incidents were recorded by the nonprofit in 2021, up 38 percent from the year before and the peak figure since their records began 20 years ago.

Infographic: Counterfeit Drugs on the Rise Globally | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

In terms of the geographical distribution of counterfeit pharmaceutical seizures, the greatest number was recorded in North America (2,442) followed by the Asia Pacific (1,747), Latin America (770), the Near East (705), Eurasia (646), Europe (374) and Africa (187). This order is largely due to how well countries in these regions are effectively identifying pharmaceutical crime through law enforcement activity and inspections by drug regulatory agencies. As the PSI notes, competing law enforcement priorities, lack of funding, or inadequate regulatory structures can mean that counterfeit medicines go undetected.

According to the World Health Organization, roughly 10 percent of medical products circulating in low- and middle-income countries are substandard or falsified. In sub-Saharan African nations, this share is believed to be even higher, rising closer to 19-50 percent. With this in mind, the actual number of incidents of fake pharmaceuticals being manufactured and distributed is likely far higher than this chart shows, considering the many cases where fake drugs have not been detected or reported.

One reason cited for the surge in the volume of fake or defective pharmaceuticals is the increase of online pharmacies.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 23:00
Published:5/27/2023 10:35:00 PM
[Markets] What’s in the McCarthy-Biden deal to lift the debt ceiling? Here are 6 takeaways. The agreement would accomplish much for both sides, enabling them to claim a victory that appeared elusive just days ago. Published:5/27/2023 9:38:24 PM
[Markets] Debt-Ceiling Deal Avoids Default; Biden, Republicans Agree On Spending Caps President Biden and Republicans reached a tentative debt-ceiling deal Saturday night. That should be positive for the market rally, which has been led by an AI boom. Published:5/27/2023 9:29:45 PM
[Markets] President Biden, Republicans Reach Debt-Ceiling Deal; AI Boom Lifts Market Rally President Biden and Republicans reached a tentative debt-ceiling deal Saturday night, good news for the market rally, which has been driven by an AI boom.. Published:5/27/2023 8:50:06 PM
[Markets] Black Americans Embrace Florida Black Americans Embrace Florida

Authored by Jeffrey Anderson via American Greatness,

Governor Ron DeSantis is standing up for everyday Americans, which helps explain why people of all races are moving to Florida in droves...

These days headlines read like parodies, which is certainly the case with the NAACP’s recent announcement that it has issued “a formal travel advisory for the state of Florida.” That’s right: The NAACP isn’t particularly worried about black people visiting North Korea, Iran, or inner-city neighborhoods in Chicago. It’s worried about them heading to Florida’s beaches or amusement parks. Why? Because Governor Ron DeSantis has led “unrelenting attacks on fundamental freedoms” such as the freedom to teach critical race theory and other divisive racial and transgender propaganda, in the state’s public schools at taxpayer expense.

In truth, Florida has led the nation in ensuring Americans’ freedoms, and black Americans have taken notice. During COVID, while 40 states issued mask mandates, DeSantis led the resistance against the public-health cabal and ensured Floridians could live their lives as freedom-loving citizens, rather than as masked subjects. As a result of this and other sensible and freedom-promoting policies, black Americans have not only traveled to Florida but have moved there in large numbers. 

Indeed, based on statistics from the Florida Department of Health, the number of black people who live in Florida rose 5.5 percent from 2018 (the year DeSantis was first elected as governor) to 2021 (the most recent figures available). That’s even more than the 4.5 percent increase in the state’s white population over that span. And it’s more than three times the 1.6 percent increase in the overall U.S. population across that three-year period. 

Since DeSantis was elected, roughly a quarter of a million black Americans have freely chosen to move to the Sunshine State.

The disconnect between the views of most black Americans and the views of the modern-day NAACP could hardly be more pronounced. 

The NAACP has chosen to ally itself with LGBT activists, decreeing that “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.”

This “hostility,” the NAACP reports, is evidenced by DeSantis’ opposition to “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) programs. The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group, issued a parallel travel advisory, claiming that Florida is “hostile” to gay and trans people, while also objecting to Florida’s newly passed pro-life legislation, which protects developing children in the womb against the abortion lobby. 

Another LGBT group, Equality Florida, suggests Florida’s duly passed laws pose too much of a “risk” for gay travelers to brave the Sunshine State.

It writes, “Taken in their totality, Florida’s slate of laws and policies targeting basic freedoms and rights pose a serious risk to the health and safety of those traveling to the state.”

Amazingly, the NAACP accuses DeSantis of trying to “appeal to a dangerous, extremist minority” in opposing critical-race theory (CRT) and DEI programs. In truth, CRT and DEI are pushed by aggressive, well-funded leftist activists who are themselves a dangerous, extremist minority. In opposing their efforts, DeSantis is standing up for everyday Americans. Indeed, he has been a model for doing so, which helps explain why people of all races are moving to Florida in droves.

Based on statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022, Florida led the nation in net domestic migration (which measures how many people moved to a given state from other states, minus the number who moved the other direction). Over that span, Florida added 563,000 residents in net domestic migration—more than the population of Miami. And it can’t just be the weather. Over that same span, California lost 802,000 residents in net domestic migration—nearly equal to the size of San Francisco. 

The NAACP also preposterously claims that DeSantis is trying to “erase [b]lack history.” Perhaps the NAACP should limit its travel advisory to Walt Disney World, where a beloved ride based on slave folktales—Splash Mountain—was just canceled in an example of just the sort of wokeness that DeSantis is committed to fighting.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 21:30
Published:5/27/2023 8:38:45 PM
[Markets] Biden, House Republicans reach in-principle debt-ceiling agreement: reports Biden, House Republicans reach in-principle debt-ceiling agreement: reports Published:5/27/2023 7:55:43 PM
[Markets] State Farm Halts Home Insurance Sales In California State Farm Halts Home Insurance Sales In California

Faltering California took another economic hit on Friday, as America's largest personal lines insurer said it would immediately stop selling new home insurance policies in the state. California is the largest property and casualty insurance market in the country. 

State Farm attributed the decision to three factors: "historic increases in construction costs outpacing inflation, rapidly growing catastrophe exposure, and a challenging reinsurance market." Reinsurance is a method of transferring some of an insurer's risk to other insurers.  

Existing policies will stay in effect -- for now. There's always the possibility that, if things keep deteriorating, State Farm could decide to "non-renew" current policy-holders. That's what AIG did last year, sending thousands of high-end homeowners scrambling to find new coverage.  

The announcement's timing -- on a Friday afternoon heading into a long holiday weekend -- seemed intended to minimize publicity. In statement, State Farm said it "will cease accepting new applications including all business and personal lines property and casualty insurance, effective May 27, 2023. This decision does not impact personal auto insurance." The halt seems to include renters insurance, though the announcement wasn't explicit on that count.

Inflation has been taking a harsh toll on insurers, who are pressing regulators to approve rate hikes to compensate for rising claim costs. Earlier this month, for example, San Antonio-based USAA posted the first ever annual loss in its 100-year history -- a $1.3 billion setback.  

In California, insurers have also been contending with high wildfire risks, and many have curtailed coverage in wildfire-prone regions, or clamped down on homes that lack certain fire-thwarting characteristics, which range from building materials to clearing space between the structure and surrounding trees. 

State Farm diplomatically acknowledged the California government's efforts to make the state a viable place for property insurers to operate in, but implied their efforts to date have been insufficient:  

"We take seriously our responsibility to manage risk. We recognize the Governor’s administration, legislators, and the California Department of Insurance (CDI) for their wildfire loss mitigation efforts. We pledge to work constructively with the CDI and policymakers to help build market capacity in California. However, it’s necessary to take these actions now to improve the company’s financial strength."

A Napa home is destroyed by wildfire in October 2017 (Josh Edelson, AFP/Getty Images via USA Today)

The property insurance situation in the Golden State is spiraling into crisis, and horror stories abound. For example, consider a San Diego County homeowners association (HOA) comprising 187 townhouses. The HOA had been been paying $54,000 for property insurance. After the policy was non-renewed, the HOA ended up with a new carrier charging a $293,000 premium -- prompting an emergency assessment from each owner. 

California already has a notoriously high cost of living, ranking second only to Hawaii in the percentage of homeowners (29.7%) who spend more than 30% of their gross income on housing costs. The departure of the country's largest home insurance provider won't do anything to help the insurance component of those costs.  

There could be follow-on insurance-market effects from State Farm's departure, as homeowners who would have been insured by State Farm are now forced to seek quotes from companies who are themselves increasingly reluctant to expand their exposure in the state. In a vicious circle effect, some could wind up following State Farm's example.     

It all promises to put more pressure on California's FAIR plan, a state-run scheme to provide coverage to those who can't obtain protection from private insurers. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 20:00
Published:5/27/2023 7:20:29 PM
[Markets] DeSantis Decks Trump With Accusations Of "Running To The Left" DeSantis Decks Trump With Accusations Of "Running To The Left"

Days after Ron DeSantis (R) announced his bid for president in 2024, the Florida Governor has come out swinging against his Donald Trump - accusing his chief rival of "running to the left" after siding with (woke) Disney vs. Florida.

"I don’t know what happened to Donald Trump," DeSantis told WWTN radio in Nashville. "This is a different guy today than when he was running in 2015 and 2016. And I think, I think the direction that he’s going with his campaign is the wrong direction."

More via Bloomberg;

On spending, DeSantis said Trump shares responsibility for the nation’s $31 trillion in debt. “He added almost $8 trillion in debt in just four years as president,” he said. “I was right on those issues and he wasn’t.”

On abortion, DeSantis defended Florida’s newly enacted six-week abortion ban against Trump criticism that it was “too harsh” and that DeSantis didn’t know what he was doing. 

*  *  *

On immigration, DeSantis accused Trump of supporting amnesty for undocumented immigrants as part of a 2018 immigration bill. “To hit me for taking the America First position I think is pretty strange,” DeSantis said. 

The Trump campaign responded that as a congressman, DeSantis voted for a bill that gave legal status to some undocumented minors as part of a package of tougher immigration restrictions, before opposing a similar plan. 

DeSantis also spoke with the Daily Wire's Ben Shapiro, slamming Trump on his approach to crime.

Trump has been taking shots at DeSantis for months - including this video making fun of DeSantis' glitchy 2024 announcement on Twitter spaces (which received way more attention due to said glitches than it would have otherwise).

"What a mess it is," Trump said on Thursday regarding the Disney dispute. "He could have worked out an easy settlement, but no — he wanted to show the fake news how tough a guy he is. He’s not."

DeSantis has gained ground on Trump since late April despite the former president maintaining a clear lead.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 19:00
Published:5/27/2023 6:19:22 PM
[Markets] Texas House votes to impeach Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton Texas House votes to impeach Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton Published:5/27/2023 6:13:36 PM
[Markets] Doug Casey On The Death Of Privacy... And What Comes Next Doug Casey On The Death Of Privacy... And What Comes Next

Authored by Doug Casey via,

International Man: In practically every country, the allowable limit for cash withdrawals and transactions continues to be lowered.

Further, rampant currency debasement is lowering the real value of these ridiculous limits.

Why are governments so intent on phasing out cash? What is really behind this coordinated effort?

Doug Casey: Let me draw your attention to three truths that my friend Nick Giambruno has pointed out about money in bank accounts.

#1. The money isn’t really yours. You’re just another unsecured creditor if the bank goes bust.

#2. The money isn’t actually there. It’s been lent out to borrowers who are illiquid or insolvent.

#3. The money isn’t really money. It’s credit created out of thin air.

The point is that cash is freedom. And when the State limits the utility of cash—physical dollars that don’t leave an electronic trail—they are limiting your personal freedom to act and compromising your privacy.

Governments are naturally opposed to personal freedom and personal privacy because those things limit their control, and governments are all about control.

International Man: Governments will probably mandate Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) as the “solution” when the next real or contrived crisis hits—which is likely not far off.

What’s your take? What are the implications for financial privacy?

Doug Casey: CBDCs are proposed as a solution, but in fact, they’re a gigantic problem.

Government is not your friend, and CBDCs are not a solution.

If they successfully implement CBDCs, it would mean that anything you buy or sell, and any income you earn, will go through CBDCs. You will have zero effective privacy. The Authorities will automatically know what you own, and they’ll be in a position to control your assets. Instantly.

They’ll be able to add CBDCs to the accounts of favored people and subtract from or block access to the accounts of those who aren’t. Digital dollars will be easy to implement since everybody already has a government ID and a Social Security account. Everybody has a smartphone. Soon everybody will have a CBDC account as well. If you lack any of these things, it will certainly ding your oncoming Social Credit Score.

I’ll go so far as to say that Central Bank Digital Currencies and digital “health passports” may be the most dangerous threats to the freedom and independence of the average human being in modern history. They will allow the State to easily control where you can go, what you can do, and what you can own. They’re both very big deals, and they’ll be daily facts of life.

In today’s world, it’s increasingly dangerous to say things that run counter to what’s considered politically correct. If you can’t say something, it’s much harder to do something. And indoctrination through education and the media are making it hard to even think. We will soon be living in a society where you can neither think, say, nor do anything that isn’t PC. Again, the problem is promoted as a solution.

It’s much like what happened during the great COVID hysteria, which was a relatively minor problem from a medical point of view. The State solution was mass lockdowns and mass vaccination. The solutions were much worse than the problem.

In any event, free speech is dying with cancel culture, trigger warnings, safe spaces, and penalties for so-called hate speech. Free speech should be an absolute—including so-called hate speech.

I’d like to reemphasize that although “hate speech” is typically impolite, unpleasant, and acrimonious, it is, perhaps paradoxically, a good thing. Why? Because it allows you to identify what’s going on in the mind of the person who utters it. And I would much rather know what somebody’s thinking and what somebody’s likely to do than have a tight lid put on so-called hate speech. I prefer knowing who I’m dealing with and what they think and feel.

International Man: It’s not just financial privacy but privacy across the board that is being buried.

Cellphones, so-called “smart” appliances, electric vehicles, social media, and other electronic devices create an all-encompassing surveillance system that most people voluntarily opt into.

What is really going on here?

Doug Casey: It’s been said that while art imitates life, life also imitates art. Especially when we look at George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984. In the book, Big Brother had ubiquitous video screens monitoring what the plebs did. We now have hundreds of millions of cameras all around the world—not counting billions more in smartphones. Universal surveillance is making for very grim times.

Recently, Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum said that everything will be “transparent”—a euphemism for darker things. But don’t worry: you have nothing to fear, he said, if you do nothing wrong. That’s ridiculous. It’s exactly what the Stasi, the KGB, and the Gestapo said.

I wonder if Schwab would be willing to have a camera observe him in his bathroom and bedroom, when he visits his safe deposit box and has a private conversation with friends—or fellow conspirators? Of course not. Transparency is only for the potentially dangerous plebs, who may not share the views of their betters.

One of the differences between a civilized society and a primitive, barbaric society, is privacy. In primitive societies, privacy doesn’t exist. You have paper-thin walls in your hut. Everybody sees everything you do and everybody you talk to.

One of the nice things about civilization is that you can get away from other people and keep them from observing you. Privacy is one of the central elements of civilization itself.

Eliminating privacy, whether it be personal or financial, is not only an aggression against individuals but destructive of civilization itself. Schwab’s “transparency” is a regression towards barbarism.

International Man: It seems privacy is dead for most people.

If that is the case, what comes next? Where is this trend headed?

Doug Casey: The first time that it became apparent to me on a personal level was at a police station in D.C., where I was paying a fine for some traffic violation. I got to chatting with the cop in back of the computer screen. This was a long time ago, in the late 70’s.

And as we talked, he said, in a friendly way, “Look, you don’t have any idea how much information we have on you—but it’s a lot.”

He wasn’t trying to intimidate me; he was just observing a fact. And that was a long time ago.

About 25 years ago, Larry Ellison, the head of Oracle Corporation, came out and made a shocking statement to the effect of “Privacy doesn’t exist, forget about it.” At the time, I thought it sounded like Ellison approved of it, but now I don’t think that was the case. He was just pointing out a reality.

Most recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger made an ad during the COVID hysteria. He said, “To hell with your freedom,” encouraging people to stop protesting about getting their shots.

Children no longer say, “Hey, it’s a free country,” when one says or does something that another doesn’t like.

People have been programmed not to take privacy seriously. Worse, they’re now suspicious of it and passively accept the fact that it doesn’t exist.

With China’s Social Credit System, everything you do, everywhere you go, and even everything you say is recorded and reported. We’re going to get our own version. You’ll be rewarded or punished according to what the ruling elite think is good or bad.

So the question is: when, if ever, will this trend turn around? Well, I’m not sure it’s any longer a question of “when.” It’s more a question of “if”—at least within a reasonable time frame. The trend is not only still in motion but accelerating. A lack of privacy means a lack of freedom. And a lack of freedom is what characterizes a serf—although in today’s world, you’re a serf with a high standard of living.

International Man: How can the average person protect their privacy and limit their exposure to State and corporate surveillance?

Doug Casey: Limit airing your personal thoughts and actions on Facebook, LinkedIn, and similar types of social media. It’s all accessible to anybody and makes it much easier for the State to control you.

In my case, I’ve made part of my living by doing the opposite of what you should do. I understand it’s a contradiction. It’s the path that I’ve chosen. But from a personal freedom point of view, it’s not a wise path. I’m reluctant to say so, but I’d advise others not to choose it. It amounts to painting a target on your back.

At this point, if you want to maximize your personal freedom, you ought to consider living in a country where you’re not a citizen. That’s because governments consider citizens to be their subjects, their assets, their property. However, when you’re a foreign citizen living in a foreign country, the local government tends to consider you a non-threat, almost a non-person. Sad to say, in today’s world, from a personal freedom point of view, you’re better off not living in your own country. That certainly includes the US and Canada.

From a financial point of view, it’s very important that you own and hold physical gold and silver, physically in your own possession, as opposed to electronically. Paper or electronic accounts are fine for speculating. But you want to have a considerable cache of the physical metals for safety. Plus, at some point, they will revert to day-to-day money.

Lastly, put a layer of protection between you and the bad guys. Don’t be afraid to use corporations and trusts in the right jurisdictions. Create barriers to make it harder for the bad guys to find out who owns something and where that person really is.

*  *  *

The political and economic climate is constantly changing… and not always for the better. Obtaining the political diversification benefits of a second passport is crucial to ensuring you won’t fall victim to a desperate government. That’s why Doug Casey and his team just released a new complementary report, “The Easiest Way to a Second Passport.” It contains all the details about one of the easiest countries to obtain a second passport from. Click here to download it now.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 18:30
Published:5/27/2023 5:48:55 PM
[Markets] Market Rally: AI Booms, Debt-Ceiling Deal Close; Tesla Leads 9 Stocks Near Buy Points The market rally has gained steam on an AI boom. President Biden said a debt-ceiling deal is "very close." Tesla leads stocks near buy points. Published:5/27/2023 5:42:40 PM
[Markets] China Rebuffing All Contact With US Military: Pentagon China Rebuffing All Contact With US Military: Pentagon

Top Pentagon officials have once again said that China is ignoring and rebuffing the US military's attempts to establish and open line of communication, which is crucial to avoiding inadvertent conflict in regions such as in the South China Sea where both naval powers operate. 

"Open communication channels between the US and China are important in maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs Ely Ratner said on Thursday," regional media reports.

"The Pentagon’s attempts to reach out to China’s military in recent months have been ignored or rebuffed," Ratner told an audience at the DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Via AP

He sought to stress that the Pentagon "believes in the importance of open lines of communication with the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and we have sought to build out those open lines of communication. Unfortunately... we've had a lot of difficulty when we have proposed phone calls, meetings, dialogues."

"The US and Department of Defense have had an outstretched hand on this question of military to military engagement, but we have yet to have consistently willing partners," Ratner emphasized further.

Earlier this month there was hope that US-China dialogue would be back on track following the meeting between National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Chinese Communist Party Politburo Member and China's Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi in Vienna on May 10-11.

That meeting was generally reported and regarded as positive, given that before that all such high level diplomatic contacts had been off ever since the 'spy balloon' shootdown incident over the American east coast in early February.

But even if the rival militaries are struggling to keep open communications, Washington and Beijing are pushing forward with trade talks:

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo sat down with her Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao in Washington D.C. on Thursday to discuss “concerns” surrounding bilateral trade.

Marking the first cabinet-level exchange between the two countries in months, the U.S. talked about American companies operating in China.

According to a readout by the Commerce Department, “The two had candid and substantive discussions on issues relating to the U.S.-China commercial relationship, including the overall environment in both countries for trade and investment and areas for potential cooperation.”

Raimondo further "raised concerns about the recent spate of PRC [People’s Republic of China] actions taken against U.S. companies operating in the PRC," the statement indicated.

Looming large in the background is the Biden administration's continuing policy of "arming Taiwan to the teeth" - even if the process of seeing specific weapons deals through has slowed based on bureaucratic red tape, according to complaints from Congress members.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 17:00
Published:5/27/2023 4:47:41 PM
[Markets] Eli Lilly settles insulin suit for $13.5 million, agrees to keep price cap The money will go into a fund that insulin users can tap into if they don’t qualify for the $35-a-month cap. Published:5/27/2023 4:08:39 PM
[Markets] Christian Students Sue Professor, Claim She Forced Them To Pay $99 To Fund Left-Wing Activism Christian Students Sue Professor, Claim She Forced Them To Pay $99 To Fund Left-Wing Activism

Authored by Bill Pan via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Two Christian students at Michigan State University are suing a former professor, alleging that she forced them and hundreds of other students to pay a $99 membership fee to her own left-wing activist group as part of the course requirements.

An entrance to Michigan State University located in East Lansing, Michigan. (Shutterstock)

In a complaint (pdf) filed last week in a federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, second-year business students Nathan Barbieri and Nolan Randomski said they enrolled in a required business communication course taught by Amy Wisner this spring.

Wisner, who described herself as “a single mom by choice, speaker, author, rebel professor, and social justice warrior” on a mission to “cancel the Patriarchy,” required that each of her roughly 600 students pay $99 to sign up for an online group called “The Rebellion Community.”

This is a global social learning community with a private space dedicated to this course,” a syllabus of the course read. “You will engage with live and recorded content and connect with peers, alumni, and others for dialogue about important business issues.”

“Your membership fees are used to (1) pay for use of the technology and (2) pay guest speakers, educators, and facilitators,” it added. “Your professor does not receive any financial compensation from your membership fees as that would be a conflict of interest.”

However, according to Barbieri and Randomski, Wisner could have just uploaded the course material to the university’s online platform, “Desire to Learn,” which provides all services related to the class and allows all students to use it without having to pay an extra fee.

The two students, represented by conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, also said they soon discovered that Wisner was the creator and controller of The Rebellion Community and its website and that she had said in different contexts that the money would be used to support left-wing causes, including abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

The Rebellion community is a safe place to coordinate our efforts to burn everything to the [explicit] ground. 100 percent of membership fees are donated to Planned Parenthood,” the professor wrote in a Facebook post.

The suing students also claimed they have reason to believe that Wisner used the subscription money collected from students to fund “The Rebellion RV,” a left-wing activist project she described as “an RV roadtrip [sic] around the United States to cocreate communities of rebels committed to doing the work” and “igniting action at the local level.”

On May 1, Wisner posted a video to Instagram showing an RV with the caption “Let the games begin!” The students claimed that this vehicle was bought with the money her students were made to pay to The Rebellion Community.

Barbieri and Randomski, who identify as Christians opposing abortion and the left-wing interpretation of concepts like “rebellion,” accused Wisner and two other university administrators of violating their First Amendment rights by compelling them to fund political causes that contradict their views.

They do not wish to financially support the speech of others that contradicts their views, and they do not wish to become members of groups organized for the purpose of promoting messages that contradict their views,” the complaint stated.

Following student complaints, Michigan State University placed Wisner on leave and assigned another professor to teach the class for the remainder of the semester, according to a March 1 email to students.

The university also offered a refund—roughly $60,000 in total—to students who paid for their Rebellion Community membership because the platform was “no longer required for the course.”

Barbieri and Radomski, however, said the refund came from the university and that Wisner still has the money. They want her to refund her students herself and provide a full accounting of how their membership fees were used.

A $99 credit to the students’ University account does nothing to erase the constitutional harm that already occurred, nor to stop Ms. Wisner from continuing to use the money she unlawfully extracted from Plaintiffs to support her own advocacy and the advocacy of organizations that Plaintiffs oppose,” the complaint reads.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 16:30
Published:5/27/2023 3:38:55 PM
[Markets] IMF Warns Of Prolonged High Interest Rates, Urges Fiscal Tightening To Tackle Inflation IMF Warns Of Prolonged High Interest Rates, Urges Fiscal Tightening To Tackle Inflation

Authored by Liam Cosgrove via The Epoch Times,

In a recent statement following its comprehensive assessment of U.S. policies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) emphasized the need for the United States to maintain higher interest rates for an extended period to curb inflation.

Additionally, the IMF urged Washington to adopt stricter fiscal measures to address the country’s mounting federal debt.

Despite the U.S. economy demonstrating resilience in the face of tighter monetary and fiscal policies, the IMF noted that inflation has proved more persistent than initially anticipated.

The IMF’s evaluation, known as the “Article IV” review, included a growth forecast of 1.7 percent for the entirety of 2023, slightly surpassing the organization’s previous estimate of 1.6 percent in April. On a quarter-to-quarter comparison, output was projected to decline by 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

The IMF anticipates that the federal funds rate will reach its peak this year at 5.4 percent, exceeding the nominal 5.25 percent Fed rate, before gradually declining to 4.9 percent by 2024.

“While both core and headline PCE inflation are expected to decrease throughout 2023, they are predicted to remain significantly above the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent throughout the next two years,” the IMF’s May 26 statement read.

“With a large share of household and corporate debt contracted at relatively long duration and fixed rates, household consumption and corporate investment have proven less interest-sensitive than in past tightening cycles.”

The international organization warned that, because of these factors, monetary policy may need to get even tighter than today’s already restrictive levels.

“This creates a material risk that the Federal Reserve will have to raise the policy rate by significantly more than is currently expected to return inflation to 2 percent.”

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva participates in a town hall discussion with civil society organizations at IMF headquarters in Washington on Oct. 10, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

During a May 26 press conference, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva stressed the urgent need for the U.S. government to address its deficits, particularly by implementing higher tax revenues.

“The sooner we implement this adjustment, the better,” she said.

“It is important to note that the fiscal adjustment can be front-loaded, which would assist the Federal Reserve in its efforts to combat inflation.”

Georgieva expressed hope that Washington would find a timely resolution to the ongoing debt ceiling crisis, warning against the dire consequences of a catastrophic default that would further disrupt the global economy.

“The U.S. Treasury market serves as a crucial stabilizing force for the global financial system,” the IMF director said, highlighting the contraction many economies are currently experiencing.

“If this anchor is disturbed, the world economy—the vessel that carries us all—will navigate uncertain and turbulent waters.”

She appealed to U.S. lawmakers, urging them to devise an alternative approach to managing debt that eliminates the need for annual debt ceiling brinkmanship.

“Could you please explore different avenues to address this issue?”

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 15:30
Published:5/27/2023 2:38:06 PM
[Markets] Fluoride Lawsuit Against EPA: Alleged Corruption, Shocking Under Oath Federal Statements Fluoride Lawsuit Against EPA: Alleged Corruption, Shocking Under Oath Federal Statements

Authored by Christy Prais via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

In this series, we explore the contentious findings surrounding fluoridation of the U.S. public water supply and answer the question of whether water fluoridation poses a risk and what we should do about it.

Previously: A confounding factor in the fluoride debate is the arsenic that contaminates the industrial sources of fluoride added to public water systems.

A groundbreaking federal lawsuit could ban fluoride from drinking water, overturning a decades-long program aimed at preventing cavities that has been challenged by mounting evidence of harm.

The Fluoride Action Network (FAN) sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Toxic Substances Control Act in 2017, and it appears to be nearing its conclusion. Under the act, citizens can challenge the EPA in court when the agency rejects a petition to ban or regulate a toxic substance. The FAN’s suit is the first in the 44-year history of the act to actually get to trial.

The lawsuit has included pointed testimony from leading experts on environmental toxins and admissions from both EPA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials that fluoride could be linked to specific harms. The lawsuit has also revealed government interference in crucial scientific findings.


In From the Fringes

The lawsuit has brought attention to new research that links fluoride exposure to damaging neurodevelopment effects, concerns that have sometimes been deemed conspiracy theories.

“Opposition to fluoridation is now at least 70 years old, but for most of that time has been wrongly dismissed as a fringe and unscientific position,” FAN’s executive director, Paul Connett, said in a statement.

The rapidly emerging science on developmental neurotoxicity, especially loss of IQ from early life exposure to fluoride, is a game-changer.

Many of the most important science on fluoride has come via research funded with millions of dollars by the National Institutes of Health.

Some of that research has concluded that “the risk to children is too great to consider water fluoridation safe,” Connett said.

The Background

The lawsuit began after the EPA rejected a petition filed in November 2016 that called on the agency to “protect the public and susceptible subpopulations from the neurotoxic risks of fluoride by banning the addition of fluoridation chemicals to water.”

The petition referenced more than 2,500 pages of scientific documentation detailing the risks of water fluoridation to human health, including more than 180 published studies showing fluoride is linked to reduced IQ and neurotoxic harm.

In its Feb. 27, 2017 response, the EPA rejected the petition, claiming it failed to “set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride.”

In response to the denial, FAN and Food & Water Watch filed the federal lawsuit against the EPA.

The Toxic Substances Control Act is aimed at preventing harm from environmental chemical hazards before they occur and gives the EPA authority to regulate or ban the “particular use” of chemicals that pose an “unreasonable risk” to human health, including susceptible subpopulations.

The EPA made several attempts to have the case dismissed, each of which was denied by the court. After each side made its closing remarks in the two-week trial in 2020, the court made a surprise decision to delay judgment.

A 2nd Phase

Rather than issue a judgment, in August 2020, the court paused all proceedings and instructed the plaintiffs to file a new petition with the EPA including the new scientific studies.

They did so in November 2020, but the EPA denied it, citing insufficient scientific evidence, stating, “Without the final [National Toxicology Program] monograph, reconsidering the petition denial at this time would not be prudent use of EPA’s resources.”

That monograph is the National Toxicology Program’s report on fluoride toxicity, a document the government has been reluctant to release.

The EPA’s rejection of the petition means a second phase of the trial will take place. In explaining his decision to extend the trial, the judge noted the issue of ongoing science on the topic.

So much has changed since the petition was filed … two significant series of studies—respective cohort studies—which everybody agrees is the best methodology. Everybody agrees that these were rigorous studies and everybody agrees that these studies would be part of the best available scientific evidence,” said Judge Edward M. Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Chen wants two documents in the next phase of trial.

  1. The systematic review of fluoride’s neurotoxicity from the National Toxicology Program. The program’s report, which isn’t yet finalized, has been a source of controversy in the ongoing lawsuit. The report draft was made public on March 15, 2022, as part of an agreement in the lawsuit, but internal CDC emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed government interference with its release.
  2. A Benchmark Dose analysis of fluoride’s neurotoxicity. The analysis titled “A Benchmark Dose Analysis for Maternal Pregnancy Urine-Fluoride and IQ in Children” by Dr. Philippe Grandjean et al. was published on June 8, 2021, in the journal Risk Analysis.

The court also expressed a concern that the EPA didn’t apply the proper standard of causation under the requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act in its assessment of the health hazards of fluoride.

According to FAN, the court has set aside two weeks to hear testimony and cross-examination of expert witnesses based on new published research and evidence that has come to light since the last trial dates in 2020.

Revelations at Trial

In the initial trial, GrandjeanDr. Howard Hu, and Dr. Bruce Lanphear were among noteworthy expert plaintiff witnesses.

Grandjean has published around 500 scientific papers, and his study on the neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal mercury exposure was used by the EPA to derive a reference dose for methylmercury.

Hu and Lanphear are known for their seminal research on the impact and neurotoxicity of lead exposure, and both have worked with the EPA in expert advisory roles. Lanphear’s past studies were used by the EPA to set the standards on and regulations of lead.

Both testified on the results of their recent multiyear NIH-funded studies on fluoride and neurodevelopment.

In his testimony, Hu said his findings were comparable in magnitude to the impact of lead exposure, and in his closing statement said, “It is my opinion to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, that the results of the element studies support the conclusion that fluoride is a developmental neurotoxicant at levels of internalized exposure seen in water fluoridated communities.”

Similarly, Lanphear closed his testimony by stating, “The collective evidence from prospective cohort studies supports the conclusion that fluoride exposure during early brain development diminishes the intellectual abilities in young children, including at the purportedly ‘optimal’ levels of exposure for caries prevention.”

Grandjean, a physician, environmental epidemiologist, and adjunct professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, testified on a weight of evidence analysis he did of all best-available research on fluoride and neurotoxicity.

“With a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, I therefore consider the elevated levels of fluoride exposure in the U.S. population as a serious public health concern,” he said.

Science for Hire?

According to court documents, instead of the EPA calling in their own agency’s experts on fluoride, they hired the outside consultancy firm Exponent, bringing in their employees, principal scientists Ellen Chang and Joyce Tsuji, as expert witnesses.

Exponent says on its website that one of the many areas it specializes in is toxic tort and supporting its clients on regulatory frameworks such as the Toxic Substances Control Act. They also note they have testified in quite a few state and federal courts.

In the past, Chang has produced systematic reviews for both Dow’s chemical Agent Orange, a herbicide used by the military during the Vietnam War to kill enemy crops, and Monsanto’s pesticide glyphosate.

Both reviews concluded that there was no consistent or convincing evidence of a “causal relationship” between exposure to the products and health risks, although not all scientists and studies agree with these conclusions.

Read more here...

Next: At the heart of the ongoing trial over water fluoridation is the NTP’s six-year systematic review of fluoride’s neurotoxicity. CDC emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal government efforts to stop the release of the review.

Read Part 1 – The Renewed Scientific Opposition to Water Fluoridation

Read Part 2 – Uncovering the Differences: Why Natural Fluoride and Synthetic Fluoride Are Not Created Equal

Read Part 3 – Fluoride: A Miracle Cure for Cavities, a Poison, or Both

Read Part 4 – Health Effects of Fluoride: The Science

Read Part 5 – New Studies Link Fluoride to Reduced IQ and ADHD in Children

Read Part 6 – Hidden Fluoride in Our Food, Medicine, and Environment

Read Part 7 – Arsenic: A Known Contaminant in Fluoride Added to the US Water Supply

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 14:30
Published:5/27/2023 1:51:45 PM
[Markets] LA Nonprofit Giving Meth Pipes To Homeless Sparks Debate Over "Harm Reduction" Approach LA Nonprofit Giving Meth Pipes To Homeless Sparks Debate Over "Harm Reduction" Approach

Authored by Rudy Blalock via The Epoch Times,

After a video of a Los Angeles nonprofit handing out meth pipes to homeless addicts in downtown Los Angeles went viral earlier this month, some say the so-called “harm reduction model” of providing drug equipment and a supervised place to use is saving lives, while others say it’s harmful and only exacerbating the city’s and the state’s homelessness crisis.

A nonprofit, Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, became the center of the controversy earlier this month, after a video went viral on social media showing workers passing out the pipes in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row.

Filmed by resident Tony Anthony, who lives in a nearby apartment, he told The Epoch Times he first heard about the issue in April and then began encountering it himself.

“I went out there to see for myself. It’s wrong what they’re doing, they’re giving them the tool to go out and get the drug,” he said. “I don’t think it’s helping them.”

Anthony said he understands why some services offer needle exchanges to prevent the spread of deadly diseases, but meth pipes just encourage drug use.

“You’re supposed to be helping people get off drugs, not helping them to stay on drugs,” he said. “I’ve seen what it does to people. When they smoke that methamphetamine, they go crazy, they take off their clothes, they run down the street, they break windows and break into cars and do all kinds of crazy things.”

According to the LA County Department of Public Health, the so-called Harm Reduction model focuses on “meeting people where they are,” by offering pipes and clean needles, supervised drug use, and overdose medication to help?save lives.

A worker from Homeless Health Care Los Angeles was seen handing out meth pipes to a homeless person. (Screenshot via TikTok/tony1963iceman)

But Anthony said he and others that live in Skid Row fear some agencies helping the homeless are more interested in receiving government funds than solving the root of the problem.

“The more homeless people that are out on the street, that don’t want to get off the street, they’re making money off them. It’s called soliciting to the homeless,” he said.

He said “there’s money in homelessness,” and pointed to a Fox LA News news report, which showed the nonprofit in question receiving nearly $12 million in government funding in 2019.

Tax records show the nonprofit received $5.7 million in such funding in 2016 which doubled to $11.9 million after three years. Of the nonprofit’s reported $12.4 million total revenue in 2019, employee salaries and benefits made up $7.2 million.

According to the agency’s website, they operate four locations in Los Angeles. In Skid Row, they offer syringe exchange, Naloxone—an opioid reversal medication—wound care, acupuncture, food, clothing, and hygiene kits. Meth pipes are not mentioned specifically.

Representatives from Homeless Health Care Los Angeles did not return a request for comment.

Differing Opinions on Methodology

Other organizations serving Skid Row’s homeless population said they support the harm reduction approach, since, they say, it’s saving lives.

J. Ellis McGinnis, the director of communications for the Los Angeles Mission, also located in Skid Row—and which offers over 1,000 daily meals, hot showers, and temporary or long-term shelter—said while it doesn’t offer paraphernalia like other places and nonprofits, it supports the concept behind supervised drug use and offering pipes or needles since there’s evidence such can save lives.

“In the system that we have—which is to preserve lives—everywhere that there are safe injection sites, ambulance visits are less by [around] 60 percent, HIV transactions are decreased, there’s less of a demand on our ER and there’s less people who are dying,” he said.

Data published in 2017 from The College of Family Physicians of Canada, which is a professional organization representing family physicians in Canada, shows that supervised injection sites decrease overdose-related deaths by 88 fewer per 100,000 people observed citing a Vancouver, British Columbia study.

Overdose-related ambulance calls were reduced by 67 percent and HIV infections decreased but researchers debate over to what degree, according to the Vancouver study.

McGinnis said when it comes to viral videos such as Anthony’s, sometimes people will make judgments without seeing what goes on behind the scenes.

“It’s the visuals and images of a caseworker handing out a meth pipe that goes viral, but you don’t see?how sometimes the same caseworkers are able to provide support during the comedowns because they’ve now built a relationship with the community saving lives,” he said.

Sidewalk encampment in the Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles on May 16, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

But some others say they fear the harm reduction approach isn’t saving lives.

Andy Bales, president and CEO of the Union Rescue Mission with a location also in Skid Row, said he believes there’s no situation where free pipes or needles are beneficial to drug-addicted individuals.

“We’re totally against the Harm Reduction model. We believe it’s deadly and it’s the [reason why] nearly one-half of the unsheltered people in the U.S. are in California,” he told The Epoch Times.

Federal data released in December showed 30 percent of the United States’ homeless population is in California.

The Union Rescue Mission is a Christian-based non-profit also providing meals, showers, temporary and longer-term housing, and recovery programs to the homeless and drug addicts, with locations in downtown Los Angeles and Sylmar, California.

He tied the increase in homelessness and drug use in California to welcoming state laws.

“Our policies in California have doubled down only on Housing First,” which advocates for unrestricted housing, he said, as well as “Harm Reduction and the free flow of hard drugs.”

Bales said he specifically blames a 2016 California Law, SB 1380, which cut off state funds to facilities like his that have sobriety or treatment requirements for housing the homeless.

As for the agency passing out meth pipes, he said doing such could lead to deadly results.

“Homeless Health Care handing out meth pipes is irresponsible because, on Skid Row, there’s a combination of meth, fentanyl, and horse tranquilizer,” he said.

Although Narcan can prevent fentanyl overdoses, the recent addition of horse tranquilizer on Skid Row streets can’t be combatted, according to Bales.

“Nobody knows what’s going to be put in the meth pipe. … In the case of Skid Row sometimes it’s meth mixed with fentanyl now mixed with horse tranquilizer, and Narcan doesn’t work on horse tranquilizer,” he said.

People use drugs in the Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles on May 16, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The Los Angeles Department of Public Health issued a health alert in March warning residents to watch out for horse tranquilizer—known as xylazine—in illicit drugs, after increases in drug samples were found in San Francisco and San Diego.

Bales said the risks associated with a harm-reduction approach outweigh the benefits.

“We believe not in reversing overdoses as a practice but in moving people to recovery … Harm reduction without the intent to end addiction is unlikely to deliver any permanent reduction at all,” he said.

He argued that safe consumption sites may successfully help reverse overdoses for drug users, but the lasting impact is harming users’ brains.

“Every time you overdose, you lose two to three percent of your brain power or mental capacity,” according to Bales.

According to the National Library of Medicine—the world’s largest medical library located in Maryland—drug overdoses can cause cerebral hypoxia which results from cutting off the brain’s supply of oxygen and nutrients. A lack of such can lead to brain cells dying in less than five minutes, rapidly causing severe brain damage.

Last year, there were approximately 300 overdoses at a safe consumption site in San Francisco—known as the Tenderloin Linkage Center—according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Since the center’s closure Dec. 4, 2022, overdose-related deaths between January and April of this year, compared to the same time in 2022, have increased by 42 percent,? according to data released by San Francisco’s Chief Medical Examiner.

One representative who worked at the Tenderloin Center claims the rise is a result of the consumption site’s closure, according to an article by the San Francisco Public Press.

“When [it] was open, and we had a safe place for folks to go, the numbers went down,” Gary McCoy, vice president of policy and public affairs for HealthRight360—a nonprofit that provides health services, told the news outlet.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 13:30
Published:5/27/2023 12:53:22 PM
[Markets] Retirement Weekly: There’s a new pocket-picker on the loose: How to protect yourself from financial fraud. Financial fraud is on the rise as hackers become more sophisticated and find more ways to access confidential information. Published:5/27/2023 12:36:12 PM
[Markets] Top negotiators race to complete debt ceiling deal this weekend Republicans continue to demand new spending cuts while progressives want to see the White House hold firm on protecting social safety net programs. Published:5/27/2023 12:07:12 PM
[Markets] How To Face Risk In An Uncertain World How To Face Risk In An Uncertain World

Authored by MN Gordon via,

Managing risk.  Mitigating uncertainty.  Is attempting to crack this unsolvable puzzle all just a waste of time and energy?

The Popocatépetl volcano erupted last week.  It was an impressive sight.  Smoke and ash, in addition to 1,500-foot-high lava fountains, spewed from the volcano’s conical, crater top.

El Popo, as the locals call it, is about 45 miles southeast of Mexico City.  Roughly 25 million people live within a 60-mile radius.

The eruption prompted the Mexican government to raise the warning level to “yellow phase three.”  This means residents should be prepared to evacuate.

With a little luck, the volcanic activity will subside – for now.  In reality, there’s no good way to evacuate 25 million people from a single area.

For example, when panicked residents attempted to flee Los Angeles during the 1992 riots the highways quickly grinded to a halt.  Enterprising vendors traversed the immobile onramps on foot, selling bottled water and canned soda pop at a hefty premium.

Thirsty evacuees had little choice.  They were trapped.  They had to pay up.  There was no way out of the LA Basin.

About 15 years ago we rode a bus from Mexico City to the municipality of Amecameca to visit our wife’s aunt and uncle.  Amecameca is about 15-miles from El Popo.  The views are extraordinary.

The volcano’s peak is about 17,800 feet above sea level.  By comparison, the highest peak in the contiguous U.S. is Mount Whitney, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which is about 14,500 feet.  The highest peak in the Smoky Mountains, Clingmans Dome, stands at a humble 6,643 feet.

El Popo is, in a word, colossal.


The name Popocatépetl comes from two Nahuatl Aztec words.  They generally translate to ‘smoking mountain.’

From a third story rooftop patio, many years ago, we gazed at the towering steep slopes and ultimate summit.  We pondered what seemed a likely and looming catastrophe.

Yet Tío Miguel showed little concern of the potential for fiery lava to rain down from the sky.  Like residents of Portland, Oregon, with Mount Saint Helens in the distance, El Popo is warmly admired for the unique topographic relief it offers.

Perhaps it’s better to accept the dangers of life when there’s nothing you can do to prevent them – if and when they happen.  In the case of El Popo, you could always move away.  However, you would soon discover a different host of dangers.

Then what?  Do you move again…and encounter some other uncertain danger?

Still, there are times when it’s wise to take a clue from the gods and get out of Dodge.

On the morning of August 24, 79 AD, residents of Pompeii, a Roman trading town, woke up with hardly a worry in the world.  Why wouldn’t they?

Pompeii had experienced nearly 700 years of uninterrupted advancement.  Residents lived in large homes with elegant courtyard gardens and all the modern conveniences.

Rooms were heated by hot air flowing through cavity walls and spaces under the floors.  Running water was provided to the city from a great reservoir and conveyed through underground pipelines to houses and public buildings.

Fresh fish from the Bay of Naples were readily available in the Macellum (food market) and countless cauponae (small restaurants).  Entertainment was on hand at the large amphitheatre.

Life was agreeable, pleasant, and idyllic for all – and it was only getting better.

Against the Gods

Yet, just when things couldn’t have seemed more certain for Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius blew.  A cloud of gas and ash spewed down, instantly killing its inhabitants and burying the city under 60 feet of ash and pumice.

Nineteen hours later, where there had been life and a thriving civilization, there was silence for the next 1,669 years.

“You could hear women lamenting, children crying, men shouting,” was the account by Pliny the Younger, 61 AD – 112 AD.  

“There were some so afraid of death that they prayed for death.  Many raised their hands to the gods, and even more believed that there were no gods any longer and that this was one unending night for the world.”

Hindsight is always 20/20.  In the case of Pompeii, the warning signs were evident to those who bothered to heed them.

Seventeen years before Mount Vesuvius erupted there was a massive earthquake that damaged many of the structures within the city.  Then, leading up to 79 AD, frequent, but smaller quakes occurred.  Soon no one seemed to pay them any concern.

In the end, the gods had their say.  One day after the Vulcanalia – the festival of the Roman god of fire – Mount Vesuvius erupted.

Today in America, as in most developed economies, another Vesuvius of sorts is releasing warning ash into the atmosphere.  But most of its caution goes unheeded.

Investors, with both eyes firmly fixed on interest rates and the major stock market indexes, are blinded by the politics of the moment.  Partisan squabbles over a ridiculous statutory debt limit.

At the same time, all the cool and hip investors are keen for a debt limit deal so they can get on with bidding up another bubble in technology stocks – filled with the hot air of AI.

Are they missing something?

How to Face Risk in an Uncertain World

From our perspective, the debt limit and a burgeoning AI boom are mere distractions.  Decades of bad decisions have stacked up in ways that make a pain-free reckoning impossible.

With a little study and contemplation one can see the facets leading to a mega economic collapse, financial crash, and complete societal breakdown coming into alignment.

Many American cities are already unlivable hellholes.  Homeless drug addicts are ubiquitous, flapping their arms and flailing about on the asphalt.  Youth flash mobs load up on five finger discounts with little consequences.

What chaos will there be when prices double and the unemployment rate tops 15 percent?

Still, what can you really do about it?

You can tie yourself into knots trying to manage your risk.  You can buy put options.  Regardless, there’s always uncertainty you cannot account for.  So, why not keep things simple?

Perhaps an equal mix of gold, cash, shares of good businesses, and property will do the trick.  Maybe, for kicks, set aside a few bucks to speculate on the elegant mirage of AI.

Then, with some spiritual guidance, you can get on with enjoying the good things in life.

Ultimately, you never know how it will all turn out.  Sometimes winning is losing and losing is winning.

Consider Thomas Douglas Allsup.  He passed away on January 11, 2017.  But, if he hadn’t lost a coin toss, he would have perished on February 3, 1959 – the day the music died.

Instead, Ritchie Valens won the coin toss for the remaining seat on the fateful flight.  Legend has it, he remarked, “That’s the first time I’ve ever won anything in my life.”

Soon after, the airplane Valens, Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper were flying in fell from the sky and crashed.  They all died.  Portfolio diversification couldn’t save them.

What’s the point?

The world is full of uncertainty and there’s nothing you can do to stop whatever it is that’s going to happen.  So, to face risk in an uncertain world, make the best preparation you can, with the means available to you.

After that, enjoy the time you have and the people you have to spend it with.

As Lord William Rees-Mogg once remarked, “even our happiest moments are picnics on the slopes of Vesuvius.”

*  *  *

Like this article?  If so, please Subscribe to the Economic Prism.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 12:30
Published:5/27/2023 11:55:02 AM
[Markets] Justin Trudeau Championing "2SLGBTQI+" Rights Justin Trudeau Championing "2SLGBTQI+" Rights

When we first happened upon the below clip of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking in a town hall event at the University of Winnipeg earlier in the week, we thought it must be parody footage. After all, what rational and serious individual can say with a straight face "2SLGBTQI+"...?

But the sad reality is that woke discourse in Canada as the only allowable public standard has long gone far beyond Portlandia levels of parody. Trudeau, ironically enough, was lambasting the ongoing pushback against Bud Light and other corporations for their so brazenly pushing trans dogma in ad campaigns. Trudeau said, "It's scary to see what's happening in the United States. Whether it's 2SLGBTQI+ rights that are being constantly attacked... my government will never let that happen."


How many times did Trudeau have to practice this confusing tongue-twisting acronym in the mirror in order to say it in public? 

But alas, in the land of Canada this is now a sacred official acronym, per an official government web page describing "2SLGBTQI+ terminology – Glossary and common acronyms".

The Canadian government source explains these things are "continuously evolving". Of course, we might add that this signals the Canadian people are soon to get bombarded with ever growing and long-winded 2SLGBTQI+ "explanations" for this expanding alphabet soup/Skittles list of acronyms and state-sanctioned terminology: 

2SLGBTQI+ terminology is continuously evolving. As a result, it is important to note that this list is not exhaustive and these definitions are a starting point to understanding 2SLGBTQI+ identities and issues.

Different 2SLGBTQI+ individuals and communities may have broader or more specific understandings of these terms.

We're not sure precisely when the prime minister and his government upgraded from LGBTQI+ to 2SLGBTQI+, but again it must mean his officials are busy practicing just trying say this, or are at least trying to wrap their heads around the "2SL" part of it. Is it like upgrading to the next version of Microsoft Windows, or the luxury trim and model of a car?

Canada has produced the above nifty little visual to help us understand, just in time for "Pride" month.

But we're not sure that this official government explanation actually helps clarify things...

(also Two Spirit or Two-Spirited). An English term used to broadly capture concepts traditional to many Indigenous cultures. It is a culturally-specific identity used by some Indigenous people to indicate a person whose gender identity, spiritual identity and/or sexual orientation comprises both male and female spirits.

Meanwhile, the real question remains...

Why is this man still in office?

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 12:00
Published:5/27/2023 11:07:45 AM
[Markets] Germans Are Outraged About The Country's Oil And Gas Boiler Ban Germans Are Outraged About The Country's Oil And Gas Boiler Ban

Authored by Irina Slav via,

Germans are criticizing a government plan to ban oil and gas boilers and replace them with heat pumps, arguing it is happening too fast and is going to cost a lot of money.

Germany wants to become net-zero by 2045. To this end, the government recently announced it would ban boilers working with fossil fuels, effectively forcing people to switch to heat pumps as the only green enough option for people with no access to district heating.

The cost of the ban is estimated at over 9 billion euros, or $10 billion, annually until 2028. After that, according to the Scholz government, costs will drop by almost half thanks to a ramp-up in heat pump production and a scale-up of wind and solar capacity.

The government is offering financial help to households, to the tune of 30% of the cost of the switch but Germans appear to not be particularly enticed by that offer.

“People are outraged and furious,” Petra Uertz of the Residential Property Association told the Financial Times.

“They can’t understand why it has to happen so quickly.”

“This law affects 66mn Germans?.?.?.?and there is enormous disquiet,” according to Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, a senior MP from the liberal Free Democratic Party.

The FDP is one of the three parties in the coalition government led by Olaf Scholz and it is not a fan of the gas boiler ban.

“We shouldn’t be tying it to a particular date come hell or high water, there are things in it that must be changed first,” Strack-Zimmermann told German media, saying the Green Party’s insistence on passing the ban as law before the summer break was absurd.

The Green Party, by the way, is losing popular support faster than snow melts in May. According to the latest figures, as presented by the FT, it is now less popular than the right-wing Alternative for Germany, with a popularity rating of 14%.

What’s more, the ban has triggered a jump in demand for gas boilers: it would only come into effect as of January next year, so if people install boilers before this year’s end, they can keep using them.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 10:30
Published:5/27/2023 9:33:53 AM
[Markets] Outrage After Belgium Releases Iranian Spy Chief Charged In Paris Bomb Plot Outrage After Belgium Releases Iranian Spy Chief Charged In Paris Bomb Plot

Iran and Belgium have conducted a deeply controversial prisoner swap with mediation by the country of Oman, which has led to the release of an aid worker and a diplomat.

Tehran was able to secure the release of Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who was serving 20 years in a Belgian prison after his 2021 conviction for plotting to bomb the exiled Iranian dissident group Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK) in Paris.

Surveillance footage of Assadollah Assadi

On the other side of the swap, Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed that aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele was en route to Belgium. 

It was only January that a secret Iranian court sentenced Vandecasteele to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes, as well as a fine of $1 million, after conviction for espionage. It's widely believed that Iran holds Westerners on trump-ed spy allegations in order to use these cases for leverage with the West, and to conduct swaps. His family has condemned the espionage allegations as false.

"Olivier spent 455 days in prison in Tehran. In unbearable conditions. Innocent," De Croo said.

Iran's foreign ministry celebrated it as a victory, while MEK representatives condemned the swap. "The innocent diplomat of our country, who was illegally detained in Germany and Belgium for more than two years against international law, is now on his way back to his homeland," Iranian FM Hossein Amirabdollahian wrote on Twitter.

Assadi's case was much more serious. Belgian intelligence identified him as an undercover intelligence agent operating out of the Iranian embassy in Austria, and alleged that he plotted to bomb a political rally of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran in 2018 - which was thwarted. One source previously described that Assadi helped run a massive Iranian spy network across Europe:

Inside Assadi’s red Ford S-MAX, officers discovered a red notebook containing handwritten bomb-making and fieldwork instructions, as well as a 200-page green jotter recording trips to 289 locations across Europe to meet agents.

The journeys, made over a period of almost four years, generally avoided the scrutiny of capital cities and were accompanied by records of hotel reservations that Assadi made himself using On several occasions, the spy reserved rooms in two different hotels to avoid detection.

Investigators additionally recovered a wealth of documentation disclosing the workings of the espionage network, including receipts of expenses reimbursements, records of monthly and quarterly spy salaries, and details of computers issued to agents.

Also found were six mobile phones — four of which were used to contact spies and two to make travel bookings — a laptop, external hard drives and USB sticks containing intelligence training manuals, two GPS tracking and navigation devices and more than 30,000 Euros (£26,000) in cash.

The Iranian outlawed MEK has long had support from US and European political leaders, despite having been known for a history of covert assassination campaigns targeting officials of the Islamic Republic. It's widely believed that Israeli intelligence also utilizes MEK assassins in brazen sabotage and assassination operations.

The MEK and National Council of Resistance of Iran is livid at the Belgian government for freeing Assadi, saying it payed a "shameful ransom". 

"The release of the terrorist … is a shameful ransom to terrorism and hostage-taking. This will embolden the religious fascism ruling Iran to continue its crimes," the group said.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 08:45
Published:5/27/2023 8:23:54 AM
[Markets] Possible default threatens foundation of global financial system Episode could mean higher borrowing costs for government, companies and consumers Published:5/27/2023 8:23:54 AM
[Markets] Ukraine Sent Poor, Untrained Men Into Bakhmut Meat Grinder Ukraine Sent Poor, Untrained Men Into Bakhmut Meat Grinder

Authored by Dave DeCamp via,

The Journal spoke with men who were part of a small group that was sent into Bakhmut, which became known as the meat grinder, just a few days after being mobilized.

Out of 16 men in the group of draftees, 11 were either killed or captured. The Journal described them as “mostly poor men from villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region, many of them unemployed, doing odd jobs as handymen or shift work at factories in the regional capital.”

Image: EPA/EFE

Some of the men had military training years or decades ago, but none had combat experience. A few of them threatened to refuse orders when they were told they were being sent to the frontlines on February 21, citing a lack of training, but they ultimately went.

One man, Vladyslav Yudin, told the Journal that he told a sergeant major that he had never fired or even held a gun before. “Bakhmut will teach you,” Yudin was told.

The men participated in brutal house-to-house combat in Bakhmut. Many of them are presumed dead, but their families are still holding out hope that they were captured by the Russians and are still alive.

The men’s accounts match what Ukrainians fighting on the frontlines had been telling the media while the battle was still raging. They told stories of troops being sent in with little support, training, or ammunition.

The Washington Post spoke to a Ukrainian battalion commander in March who said he was being sent fresh recruits who didn’t want to fire their guns because they were afraid of the sound.

Despite Kyiv’s Western backers advising against expending resources on Bakhmut, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tried to hold onto the city for as long as he could, but it was fully captured by the Wagner Group and Russian forces this past weekend.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin estimated that 50,000 Ukrainians lost their lives fighting for the city, but the number is not confirmed. Prigozhin also said that he recruited 50,000 people from prison to fight in Bakhmut and about 20% of them were killed.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 08:10
Published:5/27/2023 7:44:46 AM
[Markets] Serbia Orders Troops To Border, 'High State Of Alert,' Over Kosovo Clashes Serbia Orders Troops To Border, 'High State Of Alert,' Over Kosovo Clashes

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday announced he put the Serbian army on a "higher state of alert" due to clashes between ethnic Serbs and Kosovar police in northern Kosovo. The border region has been restive for months over what Belgrade sees as yet more anti-Serb policies.

"An urgent movement (of troops) to the Kosovo border has been ordered," Serbia's defence minister Milos Vucevic said in a national broadcast. "It is clear that the terror against the Serb community in Kosovo is happening."

Serbian leadership is also demanding that NATO peacekeeping forces immediately protect the Serbian community from Kosovo police, who have responded by saying they must crackdown on rioting and anti-police violence. 

This latest flare-up in violence is over boycotted elections. Kosovo's Serb minority protested municipal elections in the north. They make up about 5% of the total population of 1.8 million. The Serbs have been demanding an association of Serbian municipalities previously promised by the local government. 

Ethnic Albanians have rejected to proposal out of fears it could give rise to a pro-Serbian statelet which could then break away to be absorbed back into Serbia. 

Serbs staying out of the election, a boycott which also had the backing of the Serbian government, resulted in ethnic Albanian mayors moving in. The new clashes were sparked when Kosovo police tried to install the new mayors and Serbs blocked access to the buildings. 

According to an update on the situation in the BBC, "Ten people were injured in the violence after residents gathered outside state buildings in the Serb majority border town of Zvecan." Further, "Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, and gunshots and explosions could be heard in videos posted online."

At least five police were reported injured, and multiple vehicles were damaged and set on fire.

But the Biden administration issued a rare rebuke of Kosovo, which the US was largely responsible for recognizing as a "nation" under the Bush administration

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticised the use of force by Kosovan government, saying that it had taken action against the advice of the US and EU allies.

Mr Blinken said the move had "sharply and unnecessarily escalated tensions in the region" and had served to undermine efforts to "normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia".

Kosovan officials conformed that additional police and security services were sent to the contested regions "to assist mayors of the northern communes of Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok to exert their right of work at the official objects."

But ethnic Albanian officials have blamed Serbia, saying it "bears full responsibility" - as quoted in regional reports.

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/27/2023 - 07:35
Published:5/27/2023 6:43:40 AM
[Markets] Brett Arends's ROI: Vitamins can make your brain ‘3 years younger,’ study says Published:5/27/2023 5:21:43 AM
[Markets] McCarthy’s salesmanship to conservatives to be tested with any debt deal President Biden declared that the final deal must be something he and the House speaker "can sell to both sides." McCarthy faces the tougher test. Published:5/27/2023 5:03:47 AM
[Markets] Supreme Court Sides With 94-Year-Old Woman Whose Home Equity Was Seized By County Supreme Court Sides With 94-Year-Old Woman Whose Home Equity Was Seized By County

The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with an 94-year-old Minnesota grandmother who was wronged when her county forced the sale of her condominium over unpaid taxes, and kept the proceeds that far exceeded the taxes she owed - the latest "home equity theft" to make headlines.

The case followed a report late last year by the Pacific Legal Foundation which found that 12 states and DC allow local governments and private investors to seize far more than what is owed from homeowners who fall behind on property tax payments.

Writing this opinion was Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote in Tyler v. Hennepin County that "The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more."

Christina Martin, an attorney for homeowner Geraldine Tyler, told the court during April 26 oral arguments that local governments shouldn't be able to seize and keep the full value of a home as payment for much smaller property tax debts.

Minnesota law allows counties to retain windfalls at the expense of property owners - which between 2014 and 2020 applied to around 1,200 Minnesota residents who lost their homes and all the equity in them, for debts that averaged just 8% of the home's value, according to PLF.

Tyler owned a modest one-bedroom condominium in Hennepin County, but after she was harassed and frightened near her home, she moved to a new apartment in a safer neighborhood. The rent on her new apartment stretched her resources and she fell into arrears on her condo’s property tax bills, accumulating about $2,300 in taxes owed, along with $12,700 in penalties, interest, and costs.

The county seized Tyler’s condo, valued at $93,000, and sold it for just $40,000. Instead of keeping the $15,000 it was owed, the county retained the full $40,000, amounting to a windfall of $25,000, according to PLF. -Epoch Times

Tyler sued, arguing that her Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the government breached the 'Takings Clause.' Her lawsuit was originally rejected by the courts, including the US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which found the seizure legal.

The Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the principle that Tyler's right not to have her her property seized goes back to English law, and as far back as the Magna Carta of 1215.

"The Takings Clause ‘was designed to bar Government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole,’" wrote Roberts.

"A taxpayer who loses her $40,000 house to the State to fulfill a $15,000 tax debt has made a far greater contribution to the public fisc than she owed."

"[I]f a bank forecloses on a home because the homeowner fails to pay the mortgage, the homeowner is entitled to the surplus from the sale."

In collecting all other taxes, “Minnesota protects the taxpayer’s right to surplus.” So if a taxpayer falls behind on income tax and the state confiscates and sells the property, state law provides that any surplus must be returned to the owner. The same rule is followed regarding arrears of personal property tax—such as for a car—and real property tax.

In Tyler’s case, the “State now makes an exception only for itself, and only for taxes on real property. But ‘property rights cannot be so easily manipulated,’” Roberts wrote, citing Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, a 2021 Supreme Court decision that pitted the property rights of an employer against labor organizing rights. -Epoch Times

"Minnesota may not extinguish a property interest that it recognizes everywhere else to avoid paying just compensation when it is the one doing the taking," Roberts wrote.

Dan Rogin, Hennepin County assistant administrator and auditor told the Times in an email: "Based on today’s decision which found Minnesota’s law unconstitutional, Minnesota’s property tax forfeiture laws must be revised. Hennepin County will work closely with the Minnesota Legislature to create a process that is consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision."

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 23:40
Published:5/26/2023 11:32:45 PM
[Markets] Where Trust In The News Is Highest (& Lowest) Where Trust In The News Is Highest (& Lowest)

Trust in news has fallen in many countries around the world, following a temporary increase during the peak Covid-19 pandemic years, albeit still remaining higher than before the health crisis began.

This is according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2022, which polled 93,000 consumers in 46 markets about a range of digital news topics ranging from perceptions of media coverage of the war in Ukraine to the changing habits of younger consumers as well as where people go for climate news.

Overall trust in the news fell in 21 out of the 46 markets analyzed, while 18 markets remained at a similar level and only seven saw an uptick.

Infographic: Where Trust In The News Is Highest & Lowest | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

 Finland had the highest share of respondents agreeing "you can trust news most of the time" at 69 percent which marks a 4 percentage point increase since the last edition of the report. The United States made little progress and is still rock bottom of the ranking, along with Slovakia, with only 26 percent of people trusting the news most of the time - a 3 percentage point decrease on last year.

In Latin America, trust was down in Brazil (-6 percentage points) and Colombia (-3) as of February 2022, but at the same level or saw slight improvements in other countries. Meanwhile, of the analyzed countries in Africa, South Africa (+9) and Nigeria (+4) saw improvements, while Kenya saw a decrease (-4). In Asia, trust in news fell in Malaysia (-5) and Taiwan (-4) but grew in the Philippines (+5) and Japan (+2).

According to the report, while the majority of people across countries remain engaged and use the news regularly, nations with a lower level of trust in news such as the United States (26 percent), United Kingdom (34 percent), France (29 percent) and Slovakia (26 percent) also tended to see some of the highest levels of selective avoidance and declining interest in it. Reasons cited for selective news avoidance - choosing to ration or limit export to news or certain types of news - include being put off by the repetitiveness of the news agenda, feeling worn out by the news, as well as that it brings down their mood, leads to feelings of powerlessness, is too hard to understand or that it can’t be trusted, among others.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 23:00
Published:5/26/2023 10:16:11 PM
[Markets] A Lot Has To Change Quickly For Republicans To Have A Chance in 2024 A Lot Has To Change Quickly For Republicans To Have A Chance in 2024

Authored by Matt Towery via RealClear Wire,

To be clear, I am writing this as a pollster, not as a politician or partisan.

Here’s the bottom line. As it gets closer to the summer of 2023, I would rate the Democrats as more likely to again take/keep the White House. They might even hold on to the Senate and re-take the House.

This is a tough message to deliver to the Republican faithful at a time when inflation is way up, millions have crossed the border illegally, China and Russia both pose true threats to international stability, and crime has spiraled in many areas of the nation.

Sure, events and issues would seemingly favor the 2024 Republican nominee for president. But consider this. On Oct. 25, 2022, immediately following a Wall Street Journal poll showing Republicans up by two points in the “Generic ballot” midterm contest, my firm, InsiderAdvantage, also showed Republicans leading Democrats by four points, well within the WSJ poll’s margin of error. Sixteen national polls followed ours in the RealClearPolitics average with only two of the polls showing Democrats leading and one showed a tie. The other 13 polls had Republicans ahead. CNN had the same four-point advantage our survey showed. ABC News/Washington Post along with CBS News had the GOP with a two-point lead. NPR had it at a three-point GOP lead.

For whatever reason, only a few national pollsters chose to survey the battleground Senate contests in the last few weeks  of the 2022 midterms. Many of us who did, such as one of the most accurate over the past four cycles, Robert Cahaly of Trafalgar, showed Republican candidates in competitive states trending ahead, reflecting what the many national organizations were indicating in their generic ballot polls.

But the building “Red Wave” disappeared on Election Day. Sure, as pollsters we will be examining our data and weighting for the next cycle. But it may be that for Republicans, opinion surveys, whether suggesting a win or a loss, won’t matter. A loss is more likely regardless.


In part because there exists a not-so-subtle Democratic machine that goes far beyond politicians and now includes significant segments of corporations, media and “nonpartisan” governmental entities. Presidential and battleground Senate races are currently won at the slimmest of margins and Republicans face a system that now requires that their nominee blow past those margins on the crest of not just a possible “Red Wave” but riding a true “Red Tidal Wave.”

Only that massive “Red Tidal Wave” can carry a Republican back into the White House. Here’s a list of why such a GOP meltdown is possible again and the potential remedies for the party that, at present, seem unlikely to materialize in time to avert disaster for Republicans in 2024.

If a Tree Falls…

You know how this goes: If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound?

In the political forest, the answer is no if the tree is Republican or conservative. This is by far and away the biggest obstacle Republicans face in having a fair chance of winning in 2024.

While Fox News remains the dominant cable news network, it cannot possibly serve to counterbalance the three broadcast news networks along with CNN and MSNBC. Even with Newsmax thrown into the mix, the “conservative” broadcast and online media, based on total viewership and readership, is overwhelmed day in and day out. Other than Rupert Murdoch, conservative-leaning financiers have either lacked the will or have been stymied at forming consortiums to purchase or challenge the “legacy” media. And Republican operatives seem hellbent on spending all their money in short-burst primary and general election cycles. They just assume that everyone knows their view of the news: that President Joe Biden is “cognitively challenged”; the economy is in decline; the border is flooded daily by undocumented immigrants; that crime is destroying the nation’s once great and revered cities; that the U.S. appears weak and unprepared for future aggressions by major foes. You get the point.

But the average voter doesn’t. Polls asking voters about issues provide conservatives with the appearance that their issues are important to voters as well as the foibles of Democrats. But most issue-oriented polling questionnaires assume that their respondents are aware and have an opinion on the matter. And respondents rarely want to confess that they haven’t a clue. Put that same respondent in an unaided survey where they must articulate the issues of the day and one will find that those opinions on most issues dissolve into a mishmash of general concepts and less definitive answers.

It seems that Republican leaders just assume that everyone else lives in the bubble they live in. But they don’t.

Most voters whose vote the GOP might otherwise win don’t much know about critical race theory, the consequences of mounting federal debt, or much of anything conservatives talk about amongst themselves or to their audiences.

Were it not for Twitter CEO Elon Musk, what little information conservatives manage to get out beyond their bubble would be shut down by the social media establishment.

Consider the following. On the day after news reports of an IRS whistleblower’s allegations of potential wrongdoing concerning the Department of Justice’s handling of the Hunter Biden investigation and the revelation that Secretary of State Antony Blinken allegedly requested a letter from members of the intelligence community to label the younger Biden’s laptop “a Russian Hoax,” the daily White House briefing was devoid of questions on the two issues.

Weeks later, when the House Oversight Committee presented financial records of members of President Biden’s family and their business associates receiving over $10 million from foreign corporations linked to China and Romania using a labyrinth of corporations, a massive tree fell. But virtually no one heard it.

The three “legacy” TV networks did not cover it in their news broadcasts and mostly ignored it on their websites. But taking the old “tree falls” to a new level, The New York Times decided to ignore the tree falling and instead proclaim renewed sturdiness and growth for the tree. Their headline: “House Republican Report Finds No Evidence of Wrongdoing by President Biden.”

The selective and slanted nature of news now often starts at its initial gathering point and continues in its final presentation to a busy public, most of whom grab their news from social media and news aggregations on their smartphone. Republicans and conservatives have missed the boat in educating voters in a non-controversial and balanced manner, about the true facts and news of the day.

And consider that conservatives are routinely labeled by the mainstream press with the pejorative phrase “far-right wing” while even the most “out there” liberals are labeled the more upbeat moniker of “progressives.” Republicans haven’t even been able to address the simple matter of the lexicon used in political battle.

No Check on the Checkers…

The business of “fact checking” arose with the same foundational financial and logistical support that brings “legacy” news to us. Have you noticed how journalists, and I mean top ones, are willing to use definitive terms like “lies” and “debunked” in their description of certain people and issues rather than the more cautionary and traditional terms like “disputed” and “alleged”? That’s because the fact checkers make definitive statements that allow journalists to definitively dismiss certain matters and embrace others. While the NewsGuards and PolitiFacts of the journalistic world were being incubated and lovingly made into “institutions,” there was no formidable effort made by those who long for a more balanced media to create credible and less politicized alternatives. And that’s a fact!

Add to that “fact” the amazing coincidence that AI has burst on the consumers of news and social media just in time for what might be the most critical presidential election cycle in American history. Now facts, figures, biographies, and narratives can be gathered, edited and selectively presented to consumers who have no idea who or how their AI database or algorithms were programed or written in the first place. If those wanting a more balanced media don’t fund their own legitimate and well-funded fact-checking organizations, an entire generation will become reliant on one-sided and often extremely biased groups claiming to be the ultimate arbiters of truth.


This is the most overused word of the last three years. Everything, it seems, is deemed “an existential threat” to the world. The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard must be rolling over in his grave at the endless use of his central concept.

So let me keep Kierkegaard spinning. The failure of the GOP to flood nursing homes, bingo halls, and mortuaries (OK, that one is a joke, of a sort) in search of voters willing to cast early ballots remains, as of today, unaddressed, And it really is an “existential threat” to the Republican leaders. They must come to understand that in our post-COVID era, the rules for who votes when and where, and under the aegis of “voter outreach,” has changed forever. Democrats know how to spend buckets of money to advance what could best be termed “selective democracy.” They know just how to bump against the line of what is allowed and what is not, should anyone with any authority and objectivity care.

The GOP has only months remaining to create armies and methods to match those efforts.

If the Shoe Fits…

Republicans must wear it. In recent years Republicans have suffered from a tenuous relationship with white suburban women and younger voters. They are being made to feel guilty in the classrooms, carpool lines or suburban tennis matches that they were born white or were provided opportunities while growing up. It translates as “Republicans are the racist party” by default.

When Roe v. Wade was overturned, some Republican leaders in various states decided to up the ante on abortion laws. It’s logical for Republicans, given their position on the matter, to advance protecting unborn lives. But to do so without a massive ad and public relations outreach campaign to those essential demographic groups to explain their legislation, creates a political shoe so tight that an elephant’s foot has no prayer of fitting. Hence, a contributing factor to the massive turnout and marginal losses for Republicans in many marginal contests in 2022.

It’s the same for the issue of gun control versus gun rights. If Republicans want to continue to support a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment, they need to educate a public overwhelmed by a media that does not.

How about a massive paid ad campaign exposing voters to statistics supporting the claim that in areas where everyone is “packing heat,” so to speak, gun violence drops? If that is indeed the case, don’t just say it on conservative-leaning cable news shows, prove it to the public in well-reasoned ads with real live statistics. Ditto for the value of armed security in every school. If the evidence exists to support those concepts, why is it not front and center in ads on popular TV shows and the web? Shucking and jiving through endless mass shootings isn’t working — and is costing the GOP with younger and suburban swing voters.

The Tooth Fairy vs. the Dentist and Periodontist…

Lord knows both parties know how to pander, but Republicans let their “fiscal responsibility” stand in the way.

Democrats under Joe Biden have been described as “the Tooth Fairy,” promising outrageously massive handouts to various demographic targets with no apparent way to pay for them. Meanwhile, the Republican counter to this Democratic approach is to serve as national dentist and periodontist. Incrementally trying to fight cavities and oral decay but with nothing new to offer voters. Ask yourself “Tooth Fairy or Dentist?” Most would choose the Tooth Fairy every time!

For the sake of argument, try this idea on for size, Republicans: Propose that the government eliminate all these programs you view as needless handouts, unappreciated foreign aid and government waste.

Put it all into the Social Security “trust fund” as a sort of “matching contribution” and give seniors a real live retirement that they can live on. Instead of raising the age requirement for benefits, lower it over time! And jack those payments way up while cutting out the “left-wing woke funding” you claim to despise in order help pay for it.

No one would ever expect that from the GOP. Yet that would consolidate (and could increase) for Republicans a senior base they began to lose during the pandemic, and which continues to be problematic. Based on exit polls of battleground Senate races, increasing the GOP share of the vote among those age 55 and over is the most likely way for Republicans to expand their vote and create a true “Red Tidal Wave.”

The choice between forgiving college loans of over-educated millennials who offer little potential for significant vote gains, versus an enhancement and expansion of benefits to more senior Americans of all backgrounds, would seem to be a no-brainer. And it would put to rest the constant Democrat go-to of last-minute ads warning seniors that “Republicans want to cut your benefits.”

How about a national bonus or additional tax credit program for police and firefighters across the nation? How else are we ever going to motivate the next generation to consider taking on these increasingly dangerous and thankless jobs?

The GOP has become the party of the working person, including those who have worked hard all their lives. Why not seal the deal by promising to reward those voters and taking resources away from programs that encourage the opposite? That is exactly how Democrats under Biden are seemingly operating. They arguably penalize those who work to have good credit by rewarding those who don’t. The Green New Deal makes the future far more expensive and impracticable on the average worker while searching for ways to transfer resources to others in the name of “energy and climate equity.”

Take from one group and give to another. Republicans better learn to do it big — and soon — or they will wither as a party.

It's likely, for the GOP I know, that the shoe won’t fit their agenda either. They will deem such ideas “unworkable and fiscally irresponsible.” As if the Democrats’ “Inflation Reduction Act” was?

A Better Class of Prisoner…

In the 1960s, one governor, when asked about the sorry conditions of his state prisons, responded by saying that what the state needed was “a better class of prisoners.” When it comes to Republican campaigns, a better class of prisoners might be called for. Or at least a truce among inmates. For decades Republican political operatives have approached one another as rival “political gangs,” more interested in capturing all the dollars from political donors and spending them through their associates and fellow “gang members,” than winning. “Diss me and my gang and we will cut funds off from your candidate.” We saw that same mentality prevail once again in 2022, and Republican candidates once again were the casualties of it.

Democrats take a different approach. They tend to work toward one common goal of winning. The spoils of victory are then rewarded after the votes are in and the political power has been gained. Of course, to be fair, Democrat “dark money” is more plentiful, and Republicans often must scrounge around for funds in order to compete.

A lot has to change in a short time period to give former President Trump or any other Republican nominee a sporting chance of winning in 2024. No GOP nominee, even Trump (who tends to pull more voters to the polls than other modern-day Republican nominees could have hoped for) cannot win if these substantial changes don’t start to take place, and rapidly.

If not, the elephant walk of 2024 could once again be one straight off the political cliff. But for this upcoming cycle, pollsters will likely be extra careful not to march off that cliff with them.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 21:40
Published:5/26/2023 9:03:24 PM
[Markets] The Drug War: An Irrational Crusade The Drug War: An Irrational Crusade

Authored by Donavan Lingerfelt via The Mises Institute,

It’s been over five decades since the war on drugs began in the United States, and billions of dollars coerced from taxpayers have been spent on this frivolous operation.

The General Accounting Office’s report found that the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program did not deter youth from drug abuse.

How exactly has this war benefited taxpayers when drug use has increased, and more potent drugs are being consumed? Even the diabolical Charles Manson distributed drugs while imprisoned. Does one honestly think the government will eradicate drugs off the streets?

The mere suggestion of legalizing drugs causes many to accuse me of advocating drug abuse. I do not have any inclination to consume harmful drugs, and neither do I condone such behavior. My motivation for writing this article, however, is grounded in freedom. I hope that after reading this, people across the political spectrum will understand this objective. For people on the right, they should realize this war is unconstitutional. The Constitution does not grant the government control of what someone injects into their body. The state continues to extend its tentacles of power over its people, and the war on drugs is just one facet of that reality.

The state believes it has the prerequisites to decree what can and cannot be allowed, not just regarding drug policy but in our private lives as well. Lysander Spooner, the nineteenth-century theorist, argued that vices are not crimes: “Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.” You have total autonomy of your body, not the government or anyone else. This should hopefully register with individuals on the left. Today’s political climate has forced citizens into a political dichotomy with no room outside the uniparty’s parameters. Most politically passionate people fail to realize that they share quite a bit of similarities with their supposed “enemies.” It’s not Left versus Right; it’s the state versus you!

Many today disregard the significant number of deaths caused by alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs. A considerable number of people abuse these substances, but drug warriors seem to disregard these addictions. Alcohol is a form of drug and can be dangerous when consumed as it affects people differently. On average, 140,000 people die every year from this beverage. Prescription drugs claim 16,500 lives per year. Tobacco consumption is the foremost cause of preventable deaths at an astounding 480,000 deaths annually. One can consider food to be a drug, and its abuse leads to a multitude of health issues. Heart disease, being one of those issues, is the leading cause of death in America.

The government doesn’t care about your well-being or privacy; it only wishes for complete control over you. Financial privacy has even been encroached upon by the state due to the drug war. Deposits of more than $10,000 in the bank are reported to the Internal Revenue Service even though it’s your money. If you are pulled over with a substantial amount of cash, the police can confiscate your money under civil asset forfeiture laws. Essentially, you are guilty until you prove your money was legally acquired. They can slander your name for simply transporting cash. Police, on countless occasions, have been found planting drugs on one’s person or vehicle. By ending the war on drugs, the accused can be protected from these pernicious acts.

In 2003, the life of a young man, Weldon Angelos, was ruined by the war’s idiocy. An undercover informant made several purchases from Angelos involving minimal amounts of weed. The informant claimed Angelos possessed a gun, despite one never being brandished or used. Initially, Angelos would have been imprisoned for a day, but federal law required fifty-five years due to a gun being present during the transactions. Presiding over the case, Judge Paul Cassell was so distraught at handing down this absurd sentence that he later petitioned for Angelos’ release. An actual criminal who had committed child rape, second-degree murder, or an aircraft hijacking would have had a shorter sentence than Angelos. After public outrage, Angelos was released in 2016 and pardoned in 2020. Unfortunately, there are many stories like Angelos’ across our country.

Due to the irreparable harm from Richard Nixon’s war, the US has the world’s largest prison population. China has almost half as many incarcerated individuals. When comparing China’s population to America’s, this is an astounding statistic. In 2020, over a million people were arrested for using or possessing illicit drugs. The government and the police will be further strengthened as they wage their unjust war, while citizens are terrified of false accusations. To clarify, I am not arguing that a person on drugs who hurts or steals from someone should not be in jail. There should be no leniency for these violent crimes. Harm done to people and property are crimes, not vices. To help solve the drug epidemic, however, one should realize this war has not worked.

There are a few countries that have pursued intriguing alternatives to this crisis. The Netherlands has decriminalized cannabis possession of less than five grams. Psychedelic mushrooms were made illegal in the Netherlands in 2008, yet users found with small quantities are not criminally charged. In Switzerland, they adopted a policy of helping their drug-addicted citizens instead of fighting drugs. For the past two decades, the Swiss have implemented drug-consumption rooms and needle exchange programs. By providing clean needles to users, this reduces the risk of infections. Because of these measures, HIV infections have declined at a significant rate, and Hepatitis C cases have continued to decrease since 2002. Consumers at drug-consumption rooms are watched to prevent overdoses. Facility employees make connections with these individuals without stigmatizing them. Users are more comfortable with what they inject at drug facilities compared to what they may find on the streets.

Portugal has arguably been the most prominent trailblazer in drug policy reform. In 2001, they decriminalized all drugs, treating it as a health-conscious issue rather than a criminal one. Individuals possessing less than a ten-day supply of any drug will not be punished with prison time but will usually be sent to a commission for recovery treatment options. The European Union’s average rate of drug-related deaths is five times higher than Portugal’s. From 1998 to 2011, drug treatment attendees in Portugal increased by 60 percent. This result is encouraging because Portuguese citizens are seeking help, rather than fearing incarceration.

An ample portion of US states and cities have changed their tune on drug legalization based on the positive results from the aforementioned countries. Marijuana used for medical purposes is currently legal in thirty-eight states, while recreational use is permitted in twenty-two states. In 2021, the city of Seattle approved legislation decriminalizing psychedelics, which mirrors the policies of Oakland and Santa Cruz. Similar to Portugal’s revolutionary policy, Oregon has adopted legislation that will not criminally charge individuals with small quantities of any drug but will instead enforce a hundred dollar fine. Although there is much to improve in America’s drug policy, these states and cities are taking a closer step toward allowing citizens the freedom to choose what they can consume. Hopefully, all states can learn from these drug pioneers, domestic and abroad, that are helping addicts rather than waging an irrational crusade against their people.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 20:20
Published:5/26/2023 7:44:13 PM
[Markets] Lavrov Hails China's "Balanced Position" On War As Ukraine Asked To Give Up Territory Lavrov Hails China's "Balanced Position" On War As Ukraine Asked To Give Up Territory

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hailed China's "balanced position" on the conflict in Ukraine during a Friday meeting with Chinese special envoy Li Hui in Moscow.

China has thus far resisted Western pressure to condemn Moscow, but has instead tried to present a neutral stance while issuing occasional statements condemning NATO expansion and US global dominance. Beijing has also been among a handful of Asian countries to have greatly expanded Russian energy imports since the start of the war.

Li Hui in Moscow

The Chinese envoy on Friday once again called for an immediate ceasefire, at a moment Russian forces are consolidating gains in Donetsk, particularly in Bakhmut where Wagner finally declared victory over the weekend following more than 200 days of fierce fighting.

According to The Wall Street Journal Li Hui conveyed a clear message that: "US allies in Europe should assert their autonomy and urge an immediate ceasefire, leaving Russia in possession of the parts [of Ukraine] ...that it now occupies."

China has also sent representatives to Ukraine and Europe, with EU officials conveying their stance that freezing the conflict was not in their interest. The Zelensky government too believes that a 'freeze' would only allow the Russians to resupply, regroup, and fortify their positions. Western allies have also been arguing against a freeze.

EU officials reportedly told the Chinese envoy that "it’s impossible to split Europe from America" and that Europe remains committed and unified in support of Ukraine.

According to a review of Friday's meeting between Russian and Chinese representatives

Russia’s Lavrov expressed gratitude for China’s “balanced position” and willingness to play a positive role in a meeting with China’s Ukraine envoy, the foreign ministry said.

China’s Li Hui, who spent 10 years as ambassador to Moscow, has been on a tour of European capitals, and last week visited Kyiv.

After those talks, China said it wanted to “form the greatest common denominator for resolving the Ukrainian crisis, and make its own efforts to stop the fighting and (establish a) ceasefire and restore peace as soon as possible”.

Kyiv has told Li, however, that it would not accept any proposal that involved Ukraine losing territory.

Hawks in both Britain and the United States have urged Ukraine to stay the course, despite mounting troop casualties in the tens of thousands. The UK especially has long been accused of actively thwarting attempts at peace talks which were proposed last year - instead encouraging Ukraine to 'win' militarily. President Zelensky has all the while maintained that talks with Moscow are impossible until Russian troops leave every bit of Ukrainian territory.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 19:20
Published:5/26/2023 6:42:16 PM
[Markets] Michael Brush: Memorial Day weekend is a traveler’s nightmare but a dream for travel-related stocks These 4 stocks can ride the post-pandemic wanderlust boom. Published:5/26/2023 6:24:44 PM
[Markets] Florida Citrus Industry Posts Worst Year Since 1930s After Hurricane Damage And Crop Disease Florida Citrus Industry Posts Worst Year Since 1930s After Hurricane Damage And Crop Disease

Authored by Bryan Jung via The Epoch Times,

Florida’s citrus industry posted its worse harvest since 1937, which should give orange fans some pause at the supermarket.

Damage from the 2022 hurricane season, combined with the impact of citrus greening disease, is ravaging the Sunshine State’s orange crop.

This will likely cause citrus prices to skyrocket nationwide, as Florida farmers recorded its smallest orange harvest in 90 years, according to the state’s latest agriculture report.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in January that only 18 million boxes of Florida oranges would be on the market in 2023, a 56 percent drop from last year.

Peak orange production in Florida is normally at 244 million boxes a year.

“No doubt, as the supply of juice continues to rise because of the storms and the low harvest. The prices of oranges are gonna go up and that’s simple supply and demand,” Matt Joyner, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, told Fox Business.

“We are devoted to getting back into production and making sure that the orange juice that Americans know and love is available to them. Hopefully, we’ll see these prices come back down soon.”

Oranges hang on a tree at one of the Peace River Packing Company groves in Fort Meade, Fla., on Feb. 1, 2022. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Sparking Worldwide Shortages

The collapse of Florida’s orange harvest is having effects worldwide, as the Sunshine State, along with Brazil, produces the majority of oranges for the global citrus market.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the price for a gallon of orange juice in some parts of the United States is already above $6.

U.S. orange prices have already risen 25 percent, while other countries have seen prices more than double.

“Congress, back in December, appropriated money for disaster relief, and there was money for agriculture nationwide, which would include the disasters here in Florida from 2022,” said Joyner.

“Unfortunately, we’ve not seen any of that aid make it down to the state yet, but we continue to have conversations with USDA, and we’re hopeful that maybe some of those funds will start flowing,” he added.

The $9 billion citrus industry employs more than 76,000 full- and part-time workers and provides over 90 percent of orange juice consumed in the United States.

Natural Disasters

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences estimated that Hurricane Ian caused more than $1 billion in damage to the state’s agriculture industry, including $247 million to the citrus crop.

Massive winds, rainfall, and flooding caused damage in nearly 77 percent of the state’s counties.

Workers attempt to prop up with stakes the new growth orange trees in an orange grove in Arcadia, Fla., on Oct. 20, 2022, in the wake of Hurricane Ian. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

However, the situation worsened with a hard freeze in January that ruined many surviving oranges.

“It’s eight months after the storm and you can imagine the difficulty that growers are having in recovering and going on with their operations without any kind of disaster relief at all,” said Joyner.

The advocacy group Florida Citrus Mutual, along with a delegation of citrus growers, met with USDA officials and members of Florida’s Congressional delegation in May to discuss further hurricane relief

Farmers are currently more worried about the spread of citrus greening disease which was first detected in 2012 in California and is beginning to sweep the Florida peninsula.

Some growers have planted disease-resistant orange tree rootstocks developed by University of Florida citrus researchers in a bid to save the industry.

The bacteria are a threat to most of Florida’s citrus trees, leaving bitter, greenish fruits that are inedible.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 18:20
Published:5/26/2023 5:45:58 PM
[Markets] : TSMC stock rides Nvidia’s AI wave to best week in more than a year Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rode the wind behind Nvidia Corp.'s record earnings on Friday. Published:5/26/2023 5:33:59 PM
[Markets] The End Of Dollar Supremacy The End Of Dollar Supremacy

Authored by John Rapley via,

The West's imperial lifecycle is drawing to a close...

In January 1999, in a Washington of bustling bars and soaring stock markets, Bill Clinton rose to deliver his State of the Union address. America was so untroubled by threat or misfortune that it had spent the previous year debating the precise significance of fellatio. But Clinton, who had survived the scandal, exuded unshakeable personal and civilisational self-confidence. Declaring “a new dawn for America” and a future of “limitless possibility”, he called on Congress to decide how to spend all the record surpluses the government was soon going to enjoy. America’s only inconvenience, it seemed, was too much money. Today, as America struggles to support a crumbling dollar, marshal allies against Russia, ward off a rising China, it’s easy to forget that barely two decades ago it strode the planet like a colossus.

But pride before a fall has an ancient lineage, and only the arrogance of the historical present could treat American imperial decline as a novel phenomenon, let alone mere metaphor. Some 16 centuries before Clinton, in an uncannily similar setting of domes and colonnades, a Roman orator stood before the imperial Senate to deliver an equally triumphal speech. It was 1 January 399, inauguration day for the latest in a millennium-old line of consuls, the most prestigious Roman office. This year’s candidate was Flavius Mallius Theodorus. After rising to praise his audience — “here I see gathered all the brilliance of the world” — he went on to proclaim the dawn of a new Golden Age, celebrating the unparalleled prosperity of the Empire.

Rome’s rapid comeuppance is now a historical parable that America can learn from in real-time. Because the rhetoric of Clinton and his ancient predecessor was spoken from atop the crest of the same wave: an identical process of rise and decline which Peter Heather and I, in our new book, call “the imperial lifecycle”. Empires grow rich and powerful and attain supremacy through the economic exploitation of their colonial periphery. But in the process, they inadvertently spur the economic development of that same periphery until it can roll back and ultimately displace its overlord.

America has never thought of itself as an empire, mainly because with the exception of the few islands in the Pacific and Caribbean, it has never accumulated a large network of overseas territories. But this modern European model, in which colonies were (and in a few cases, still are) administered by governors who answered directly to the imperial capital, was but one of many. The late Roman Empire, for instance, functioned as an “inside-out” empire — effectively run from the provinces, with Rome serving more as a spiritual than administrative capital. What held it all together was the shared culture of the provincial nobility that ran it, most of whom has provincial origins but had been socialised into what Peter Heather has called the imperial culture of “Latin, towns and togas”.

The American Empire — or more accurately the American-led Western empire — mirrors this confederal model, with an updated cultural-political glue that we might call “neoliberalism, Nato and denim”. Under this regime, the nation-state was primary, borders were inviolable, relatively open trade and capital movement prevailed, governing elites  were committed to liberal principles, and bureaucracy was based on increasingly standardised education systems (with economics training assuming an increasingly central role as the century progressed). But since its establishment in 1944 at the Bretton Woods conference, its fundamental economic model has been in the timeless imperial mould: exploitation of the periphery to the benefit of the imperial core.

The great wave of decolonisation that followed the war was meant to end that. But the Bretton Woods system, which created a trading regime that favoured industrial over primary producers and enshrined the dollar as the global reserve currency, ensured that the net flow of financial resources continued to move from developing countries to developed ones. Even when the economies of the newly-independent states grew, those of the G7 economies and their partners grew more. And while the treaty arrangements that cemented this system were periodically updated at international summits, even then the US and its main trading partners would typically draft a deal for sign-off by everyone else. As a result, the gap between rich and poor countries grew bigger than ever.

Clinton was speaking at the all-time peak of this American imperial order. Two years earlier, a financial crisis that had begun in Asia had ricocheted across the developing world. And when protesters filled streets and governments across the Global South collapsed, the rich in developing countries panicked and sent their money into the safe haven of US Treasury paper. That influx of cash sent the late Nineties US economy into overdrive, creating the abundance that Clinton took to be endless.

In fact, as he was speaking, the overall flow of global capital had already begun moving the other way. By this time, quietly but steadily, developing countries like China and India had shaken off the torpor of earlier decades and were starting to grow in leaps and bounds. The brief recessions induced in developing countries by the Asian Crisis and the consequent boom in the West obscured the fact that the really dynamic economies of the world were now in what was called the Third World. Once the protests died down and normal business resumed there, investors in the developing world — followed by fund-managers in Western countries — sent their money back to the growing economies of the global periphery.

In the Roman Empire, peripheral states developed the political and military capacity to end Roman domination by force. In the modern case, the conflict was fought through diplomatic, economic and political channels. The year of Clinton’s panegyric now looks pivotal — not only for the changing capital winds, but because of what happened at that year’s World Trade Organization summit in Seattle. After decades in which they’d more or less signed off on done-and-dusted deals, delegations from some of the big developing countries got together, refused to go along and brought the negotiations to a halt. As their diplomatic and political capacity rose to match their economic heft, developing countries were now demanding, and getting, better deals.

The Third World was rising, and it quickly showed in the economic data. On the eve of the millennium, the cusp of its supremacy — a supremacy no other empire in history had come remotely close to matching — the West accounted for four-fifths of the global economy. Today, that’s down to three-fifths, and falling. The fastest-growing economies in the world are now all in the old periphery; the worst-performing economies are disproportionately in the West. These are the economic trends that have created our present landscape of superpower conflict — most saliently between America and China. A once-mighty empire is now challenged and feels embattled. Taken aback by the refusal of so many developing countries to join in isolating Russia, the West is now waking up to the reality of the emerging, polycentric and fluid global order.

These trends are only set to continue. But this is where America and Rome diverge. The Roman Empire existed at a time where there was one fixed factor of production: land. The economy was therefore necessarily steady-state and overwhelmingly agricultural. For the periphery to rise, the core had to fall, as the barbarian invaders seized physical Roman real estate. But in the modern world, where continued technological progress means economies can keep moving forward, if more slowly, decline may only need to be relative. The West can continue to grow, and to play a pre-eminent role in global governance.

But meek acceptance isn’t what builds empires in the first place. The danger is that, obsessed with past glories and tempted by a desire to turn back the clock, Western countries attempt to restore their greatness. Since its own imperial marginalisation, Britain has been possessed by a manic and counter-productive declinism, most recently responding to the 2008 crash with a programme of austerity that has sunk its economy into what may become a permanent decay. America’s interminable annual wranglings over debt ceilings could, if they continue, diminish the attractiveness of the dollar, at a time when developing countries are looking for alternatives.

The fate of the West hangs in the balance, and it must stop drawing the wrong lessons from Roman history, not the least of which is a stubborn refusal to accept a diminished role in its world. After all, the Roman Empire might have survived had it not weakened itself with wars of choice on its ascendant Persian rival. By finding a way to coexist peacefully with its own rival China, however uncomfortable that may be, the US could do itself and the world a favour.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 17:40
Published:5/26/2023 4:48:55 PM
[Markets] Market Rally Gains Steam On Debt-Ceiling Deal Optimism; Tesla Leads 9 Stocks Near Buy Points The market rally gained steam Friday on optimism for a debt-ceiling deal, but it remains mixed. Tesla leads several stocks near buy points. Published:5/26/2023 4:41:22 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Today: Index Up on Debt Ceiling Hopes The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.1%, or 350 points, breaking its weeklong losing streak as negotiators in Washington closed in on a deal to raise the debt ceiling and excitement about artificial intelligence percolated through markets. Published:5/26/2023 4:35:05 PM
[Markets] US Lawmakers Publish 10 Ways To Prepare For War With China Over Taiwan US Lawmakers Publish 10 Ways To Prepare For War With China Over Taiwan

The House China Committee this week published a list of ten bipartisan recommendations to deter China from attacking Taiwan. These are being officially recommended for inclusion in the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.

The list is said to be the result of conclusions reached during April 'table top' war games conducted by the hawkish Center for a New American Security.

A tabletop war game exercise in the House Ways and Means Committee room on Wednesday, via AP.

"At the select committee’s Taiwan war game, we saw the terrifying result of deterrence failure,” Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) said ahead ahead of the vote to approve advancing the measures.

"If we want to have a hope of stopping World War III, we need to arm Taiwan to the teeth right now. We must clear the embarrassment that is the $19 billion [foreign military sale] backlog," he added.

The panel shared the 10 recommendations as follows:

1. Manufacture & supply more long-range missiles to the Indo-Pacific region

2. Devise severe economic costs in concert with our allies ahead of time, should China act against Taiwan

3. Expand combined military training between the United States and Taiwan

4. Deliver the $19 billion of backlogged military equipment and weapons that Taiwan ordered from the United States

5. Establish a US military Joint Task Force or Joint Force HQ for crisis command and control in Indo-Pacific Command

6. Enhance cyber resiliency in US critical infrastructure, especially at port, air, and rail facilities with emphasis on military mobility

7. Help train Taiwan to strengthen its own cybersecurity

8. Create a US-Taiwan Combined Planning Group to build stronger relationships between our defense forces

9. Strengthen US military posture in the region by expanding bases with allies, hardening fuel depots, and enhancing logistics

10. Expand Taiwan’s military stockpiles and resiliency to attack

Of course, there are many other analysts who would point out that "arming to the teeth" and independent breakaway island in China's own backyard is precisely what could usher in WW3, akin to the years-long Western involvement in Ukraine and how this provoked Russia. 

Notably, Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) was the only "no" vote for the proposals.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 16:40
Published:5/26/2023 3:46:54 PM
[Markets] Stocks close with solid gains ahead of Memorial Day as tech leads the way Stocks close with solid gains ahead of Memorial Day as tech leads the way Published:5/26/2023 3:41:05 PM
[Markets] : Did Nvidia just help create an AI-fueled stock bubble? Tech stocks have roared back, but the current mania for artificial intelligence appears to expect too much too soon, which creates the possibility of a bubble. Published:5/26/2023 3:41:04 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Wall Street indexes end sharply higher on optimism about debt ceiling U.S. stocks finished sharply higher on Friday as talks on raising the U.S. debt ceiling progressed, while chip stocks surged for a second straight day on optimism about artificial intelligence. After several rounds of talks, U.S. President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy appeared to be nearing a deal to increase the government's $31.4 trillion debt limit for two years, while capping spending on most items, a U.S. official told Reuters. Published:5/26/2023 3:41:04 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Wall Street indexes end sharply higher on optimism about debt ceiling U.S. stocks finished sharply higher on Friday as talks on raising the U.S. debt ceiling progressed, while chip stocks surged for a second straight day on optimism about artificial intelligence. After several rounds of talks, U.S. President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy appeared to be nearing a deal to increase the government's $31.4 trillion debt limit for two years, while capping spending on most items, a U.S. official told Reuters. Published:5/26/2023 3:08:43 PM
[Markets] 54-Nation Alliance Reveals How Many Billions Pumped Into Ukraine 54-Nation Alliance Reveals How Many Billions Pumped Into Ukraine

The Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which is centered out of Ramstein Air Base, is an alliance of 54 countries supporting Ukraine militarily against Russia.

In a new press briefing marking the 12th meeting of the group, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin revealed the total tally of funds and military aid pumped into Kiev. "In total, the Contact Group has committed nearly $65 billion in security assistance," while stressing the Western allies are "as united as ever." This total figure is separate from the Washington overall commitment as far as Ukraine aid goes, which is even larger.

This already huge figure is about to leap significantly higher, given that as Austin said, "And, last week, President Biden announced that the United States will support a joint effort with our allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation aircraft, including F-16s. We hope this training will begin in the coming weeks."

DoD image

The Pentagon chief then thanked Denmark and the Netherlands for this week stepping up to lead European coalition in providing F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots. The program is expected to take multiple months to up to a year or more.

"In the coming weeks, my Dutch and Danish counterparts will work with the United States and other allies to develop a training framework," Austin said. "Norway, Belgium, Portugal and Poland have already offered to contribute to training, and we expect more countries to join this important initiative soon."

Austin further emphasized that the United States is "committed to standing with Ukraine for the long haul." He also announced a new commitment to provide Kiev with "additional air-defense systems and munitions" which will be "crucial" for "protecting Ukraine’s skies and civilian infrastructure from Russia’s assault."

Additionally, US Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley explained that F-16's won't act as a "magic weapon" against the superior armed Russian air force: 

“The Russians have 1,000 fourth-generation fighters... If you’re gonna contest Russia in the air, you’re gonna need a substantial amount of fourth and fifth generation fighters, so if you look at the cost curve and do the analysis, the smartest thing to have done is exactly what we did do, which is provide a significant amount of integrated air defenses to cover the battlespace and deny the Russians the airspace."

He previewed that a sustained program will run into the billions more....  

"So, you're talking about $2 billion for 10 aircraft," he said. "The Russians have thousands of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters. So, if you're going to contest Russia in the air, you're going to need a substantial amount of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters. If you look at the cost curve and do the analysis, the smartest thing to have done is exactly what we did do, which is provide a significant amount of integrated air defense to cover the battlespace and deny the Russians the airspace. And that is exactly what happened." 

For the future, F-16s have a role, the general said. But it is "going to take a considerable length of time to build up an air force that's the size and scope and scale that'll be necessary." 

Already, some of these same Pentagon officials predicted the war will drag on for "years". On Friday, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev was quoted in Russian media as saying the war will last "decades, probably".

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 15:40
Published:5/26/2023 2:55:58 PM
[Markets] Economic data showing resiliency ahead of summer inflation, hawkish Fed Infrastructure Capital Advisors CEO Jay Hatfield joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the expectations on inflation after the latest economic data reported resiliency amid recession fears. Published:5/26/2023 2:55:58 PM
[Markets] Stocks rise as lawmakers continue debt ceiling talks to avoid a default Yahoo Finance markets reporter Jared Blikre examines the stock and treasury market action as the debt limit crisis continues to unfold, while also looking at how the U.S. Treasury is forecasting different scenarios in case of a default. Published:5/26/2023 2:48:57 PM
[Markets] Stocks trade higher ahead of Memorial Day weekend Yahoo Finance Live co-host Seana Smith takes a look at market trends ahead of Friday's closing bell. Published:5/26/2023 2:28:39 PM
[Markets] Obama Judge Sentences Oath Keepers Founder To 18 Years Prison In J6 'Sedition' Case Obama Judge Sentences Oath Keepers Founder To 18 Years Prison In J6 'Sedition' Case

Authored by Chris Menahan via,

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who came unarmed to DC and didn't even enter the Capitol Building on January 6th, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Thursday for "seditious conspiracy" by Obama-appointed US district judge Amit Mehta.

Rhodes' crime was apparently mouthing off about revolution in private chats and lamenting after the event that "we should have brought rifles."

"You, sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country and to the republic and to the very fabric of this democracy," Judge Amit Mehta, an Indian immigrant appointed to the DC district court by Obama in 2014, scolded Rhodes before handing down the longest sentence to date for any J6er.

Mehta's bio says he served on the board of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (one of many groups which helps get convicted murderers like Shaurn Thomas out of prison).

Though Mehta is a big believer in "criminal justice reform" when it comes to releasing thugs onto our streets, he opted to apply an enhancement for terrorism in Rhodes' sentencing.

From NBC News, "Oath Keepers founder sentenced to 18 years in Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case":

The founder of the far-right Oath Keepers has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol following his conviction on seditious conspiracy.

The sentence for Stewart Rhodes is the longest imposed on a Jan. 6 defendant to date. In a politically-charged speech in the courtroom just before his sentencing, Rhodes called himself a "political prisoner" and said that when he talked about "regime change" in a phone call with supporters earlier this week, he meant he hopes that former President Donald Trump will win in 2024.

The judge disagreed that Rhodes had been locked up for politics, saying it was his actions that led to his criminal convictions.

"You, sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country and to the republic and to the very fabric of this democracy," Judge Amit Mehta said before handing down the sentence.

Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy in November along with Kelly Meggs, a fellow Oath Keepers member who will be sentenced later Thursday afternoon.

"They won't fear us until we come with rifles in hand," Rhodes wrote in a message ahead of the Jan. 6 attack. After the attack, in a recording that was played in court during his trial, he said his only regret was that they "should have brought rifles."

That's called venting frustration.

They didn't bring rifles -- they were unarmed -- and they didn't take part in an "insurrection" -- everyone left the Capitol after just a few hours -- but apparently that's not relevant to the case.

The fact they legally brought some weapons to Virginia and left them in a hotel was proof enough of their "seditious conspiracy," according to Mehta.

Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit Thursday, Rhodes said he believes the only crime he committed was opposing those who are "destroying our country."

Mehta told Rhodes that he was found guilty of seditious conspiracy "not because of your beliefs, not because you supported the other guy, not because Joe Biden is president right now," but because of the facts of the case, and his actions before, during and after Jan. 6.

"You are not a political prisoner, Mr. Rhodes," Mehta said.

Fact check: false.

Rhodes and Meggs were put on trial alongside Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell, fellow Oath Keepers who were convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, but not seditious conspiracy. Watkins and Harrelson will be sentenced on Friday.

Rhodes took the stand in his case, saying at trial that the other members of the Oath Keepers were "stupid" to storm the Capitol and that he disagreed with those who went inside; Rhodes did not enter the building. "I had no idea that any Oath Keeper was even thinking about going inside or would go inside," Rhodes said.

But the government also produced messages in which Rhodes said he thought that Jan. 6 was the last opportunity to stop what he saw as a takeover of the government.

"On the 6th, they are going to put the final nail in the coffin of this Republic, unless we fight our way out. With Trump (preferably) or without him, we have no choice," Rhodes wrote in a message ahead of Jan. 6.

He also celebrated Oath Keepers' actions in the immediate aftermath of the attack, after meeting with other members of the group at an Olive Garden in Virginia that night.

"Patriots, it was a long day but a day when patriots began to stand," Rhodes wrote the night of Jan. 6. "Stand now or kneel forever. Honor your oaths. Remember your legacy."

The Gateway Pundit has some longer excerpts from Stewart and Mehta.

In short, Rhodes -- along with his fellow Oath Keepers -- were convicted for mouthing off in their group chats.

If you say, "Give me liberty or give me death," that's essentially now evidence of a seditious conspiracy.

If you say, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants," that's essentially now evidence of a seditious conspiracy.

This is all it takes to convict in the comically biased kangaroo courts in DC. Just as we saw in the Proud Boys case, the feds don't need any hard evidence -- they just need a jury which doesn't like you.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 14:40
Published:5/26/2023 1:48:02 PM
[Markets] Cummins spinoff Atmus Filtration stock jumps 14% in trading debut Cummins spinoff Atmus Filtration stock jumps 14% in trading debut Published:5/26/2023 1:40:08 PM
[Markets] Dallas Schools Roll Out AI 'Pre-Crime' System To Monitor Student Behavior Dallas Schools Roll Out AI 'Pre-Crime' System To Monitor Student Behavior

Authored By Adam Dick Via Ron Paul Institute,

In recent years, schools across America, with the help of private companies, have been significantly ramping up surveillance on students, largely in the name of keeping the children safe.

Now that there is big buzz about artificial intelligence, or “AI,” it should come as little surprise that peeping adults will increasingly employ AI to aid them in the surveilling of school students.

Last week, the Dallas Independent School District was boasting about its new pilot project, undertaken along with the company Davista. The pilot project, the school district says, uses AI to extensively monitor each student and then sound the alarm if a student deviates from his “baseline” behavior.

Talk about stifling. Doesn’t growing up tend to involve moving away from your baseline? And since when does being a kid mean you should have no privacy? Tough kids, that is not how the AI sees things.

According to a Dallas Independent School District press release:

This initiative will utilize Davista's Heimdall platform, a breakthrough technology that empowers organizations to identify risk and take action before the projected risk becomes a consequential event or incident.

...Davista's student safety and support platform enables comprehensive analysis and review of student data through software, minimizing inherent human biases and disparities by objectively assessing data points and reducing assumptions and cognitive fatigue. Leveraging existing data within the school, the technology pays attention to students' participation, performance, and behavioral patterns. This process establishes a baseline for each student, derived from their past information, allowing real-time analysis of any deviations from their personal baseline.

The last time I wrote about the Dallas Independent School District was in May of 2021. In that post, I discussed the district then busing students off campus to receive experimental coronavirus “vaccine” shots — another Big Brother project fallaciously taken in the name of protecting the children.

In that May post, I noted that “At its website, the Dallas Independent School District describes itself as the fourteenth largest school district in America, with ‘approximately 154,000 students in pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade.’” Here is some good news: The district’s website now indicates that it has dropped down to sixteenth largest school district in America and has experienced a decline to approximately 141,000 students.

That significant reduction over the last two years in the number of students subjected to the district’s dictates may provide some real progress toward protecting the children.

Parents, check on how your children are being treated by their schools, including in the name providing for their own protection. Your view of what should be done to protect your children is likely quite different than that of the people in charge at your children’s schools.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 14:00
Published:5/26/2023 1:14:08 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Wall Street surges on optimism about debt ceiling talks Wall Street jumped on Friday following progress in negotiations on raising the U.S. debt ceiling, while chip stocks surged for a second straight day on optimism about artificial intelligence. After several rounds of talks, U.S. President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy appeared to be nearing a deal to increase the government's $31.4 trillion debt limit for two years, while capping spending on most items, a U.S. official told Reuters. Published:5/26/2023 1:14:08 PM
[Markets] In One Chart: Where did laid-off tech and media workers go? They’ve found jobs in these industries. More than 199,000 global technology-sector employees have been laid off since the start of 2023. Published:5/26/2023 12:43:00 PM
[Markets] Carl Icahn's investment firm has now shed 61% of its market cap this month Carl Icahn's investment firm has now shed 61% of its market cap this month Published:5/26/2023 11:54:19 AM
[Markets] There's Something Rotten In China There's Something Rotten In China

Authored by Steven Vannelli via Knowledge Leaders Capital blog,

One metric I look at fairly often for various countries is the relationship between the performance of stocks vs. bonds. The idea is straightforward enough: when stocks are outperforming bonds, it tends to be associated with a growing economy. When bonds are outperforming stocks, it is a tell that there is some sort of negative dynamic going on.

Why do I bring this up? In the US, stocks—represented by the SPY ETF—have just made a new high relative to the TLT ETF (which represents long-term US Treasury bonds). This would suggest that despite all the angst over inflation, the debt ceiling, and other issues, investors seem to taking a positive perspective.

This contrasts with China. In China, stocks have underperformed government bonds by about 50% since the beginning of 2021. This suggests there could be something rotten going on underneath the surface of the Chinese economy. Debt issues, housing issues, demographic issues, and geopolitical issues all could be weighing on sentiment toward Chinese equities and growth.

To further validate the theory that there is something rotten in China, I overlay the CNY/USD on the stock/bond chart. The CNY is weakening alongside this relationship of bonds outperforming stocks.

While last fall, the market began to discount the opening of China, now the dynamic seems to have changed. Copper did a good job signaling the upturn in Chinese GDP estimates for 2023.

With the Chinese reopening seeming to have less thrust than was anticipated, copper prices are falling again. This could telegraph a downturn in Chinese growth estimates.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 12:35
Published:5/26/2023 11:47:34 AM
[Markets] Why Japanese stocks are at three-plus-decade-high highs Why Japanese stocks are at three-plus-decade-high highs Published:5/26/2023 10:59:31 AM
[Markets] "Unnamed Banker" At First Republic Earned More Than J.P. Morgan CEO Dimon Last Year "Unnamed Banker" At First Republic Earned More Than J.P. Morgan CEO Dimon Last Year

This year? Probably not so much...

We once thought JP Morgan was happy to agree to take on the carcass of First Republic Bank because it could get billions in deposits and assets for pennies on the dollar. Now, after learning that one unnamed executive at FRC was actually earning more than Jamie Dimon, we are left to wonder to ourselves if Dimon is even happier to absorb the distressed bank so when he rests his head on the pillow at night, he knows his salary isn't being bested.

We are, of course, joking (kind of), but the headlines about First Republic executive pay are very real. Bloomberg wrote on Thursday that a number of bank executives were comfortably earning more than $10 million a piece each year. "Dozens" were earning the salary during the banks heydey, the report says. 

It also notes the one "unnamed banker" that made more than $35 million last year, noting that Dimon has run JP Morgan for more than 16 years and still isn't netting a salary that large. An average employee at First Republic made $310,000 per year, thanks to the company's incentive systems, Bloomberg noted. 

The bank's recent surge in business was helped along during the pandemic by issuing "jumbo, interest-only mortgages to borrowers with high incomes and credit scores", which helped the bank double in size in four years, the report says. It was that doubling in size that made it the second largest bank failure in U.S. history. 

Bankers that made home loans earned a small percentage of the loan each year, helping bankers strengthen relationships with clients and opening the door for lucrative business, Bloomberg noted. The report also pointed out that family members of executives earned lucrative salaries:

Chief Credit Officer David Lichtman’s spouse, an executive managing director in preferred banking, was paid $8.6 million in 2021, out-earning him, according to a proxy statement last year. The son of First Republic founder and former CEO Jim Herbert made $3.5 million that year as a senior vice president.

As we noted days ago, however, that gravy train at First Republic appears to be over. JP Morgan quickly fired 1,000 First Republic Bank employees, telling them that they aren’t being given jobs — even temporarily — following its takeover of the failed lender.

According to Bloomberg, the biggest US bank on Thursday offered full-time or transitional roles to 85% of the nearly 7,000 employees still working at First Republic when it collapsed, while the rest were told they wouldn’t get offers. Those getting temporary offers would be offered jobs for three, six, nine or 12 months, depending on the position.

“Since our acquisition of First Republic on May 1, we’ve been transparent with their employees and kept our promise to update them on their employment status within 30 days,” a spokesperson for New York-based JPMorgan said in a statement. “We recognize that they have been under stress and uncertainty since March and hope that today will bring clarity and closure.”

First Republic employees who weren’t offered jobs at JPMorgan “will receive pay and benefits covering 60 days and will be offered a package that includes an additional lump-sum payment and continuing benefits coverage,” the spokesperson said; it wasn't clear if the FDIC would be footing those costs as well.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 11:35
Published:5/26/2023 10:59:31 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Soars 300 Points Despite Sticky Inflation. Marvell Technology Vaults 25% On Bullish AI Forecast. The Dow Jones traded higher along with the other major stock indexes even as inflation heated up in April. MRVL and WDAY surged on earnings. Published:5/26/2023 10:59:31 AM
[Markets] In One Chart: Stock market’s AI frenzy reinforces this crucial rule for traders, RenMac says Thursday's surge by Nvidia shares and other AI-inspired stock-market gains underlines how investors should think about momentum. Published:5/26/2023 10:51:58 AM
[Markets] Latest data show the U.S. economy continuing to defy recession fears Latest data show the U.S. economy continuing to defy recession fears Published:5/26/2023 10:15:32 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Jumps 275 Points Despite Growing Rate-Hike Odds. Marvell Technology Vaults 25% On Bullish AI Forecast. The Dow Jones traded higher along with the other major stock indexes even has inflation heated up in April. MRVL and WDAY surged on earnings. Published:5/26/2023 9:53:45 AM
[Markets] Market Extra: ‘The economy is still too hot for the Fed’: Chance of June rate hike rises further above 50% after inflation data Data showing U.S. inflation stuck in the 4%-5% range last month is boosting the likelihood of another Federal Reserve rate hike in June. Published:5/26/2023 9:53:45 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Rallies 375 Points After Hot Inflation Data; Ulta Beauty Dives On Sales Miss The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 375 points Friday on hot inflation data. Ulta Beauty stock dived after missing sales estimates. Published:5/26/2023 9:39:28 AM
[Markets] "I Don’t Want To Do Any Of This": IRS Whistleblower Defies Biden Administration And The Media "I Don’t Want To Do Any Of This": IRS Whistleblower Defies Biden Administration And The Media

Earlier this week, an insider at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came forward and revealed his identity for the first time after filing an anonymous whistleblower complaint about the agency's handling of an investigation into Hunter Biden.

The original whistleblower complaint from Gary Shapley, a 14-year veteran of the agency, was revealed in an April 19 letter to members of Congress. Since then, Shapley and his attorney, Mark D. Lytle, have alleged retaliation.

In an interview with CBS News that aired Wednesday night, Shapley identified himself as an IRS supervisory agent, who says he was assigned to an investigation in January 2020 - the subject of which he said he couldn't legally identify due to tax secrecy laws, but which CBS said was the Hunter Biden case. Shapley and his legal team are simply calling it an "ongoing and sensitive investigation of a high-profile, controversial subject."

Lytle says his client's disclosures contradict sworn testimony by a "senior political appointee," and involve "failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest."

He added that the whistleblower disclosures show "examples of preferential treatment and politics improperly infecting decisions and protocols that would normally be followed by career law enforcement professionals in similar circumstances if the subject were not politically connected."

According to Shapley, "When I took control of this particular investigation, I immediately saw deviations from the normal process. It was way outside the norm of what I’ve experienced in the past."

In March, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the U.S. Attorney in Delaware had full discretion in pursuing the Hunter Biden tax investigation and was “not restricted in his investigation in any way.” Shapley, however, has claimed that, in his investigation, “there were multiple steps that were slow-walked—were just completely not done—at the direction of the Department of Justice.”

Shapley said he had never experienced “deviations” from the investigative process like those he has seen in this case.

“And each and every time it seemed to always benefit the subject,” he said. -Epoch Times

Shapley says he decided to file a whistleblower complaint following an Oct. 2022 meeting with federal prosecutors.

"It was my red-line meeting," he said. "I don’t want to do any of this. I took an oath of office and when I saw the egregiousness of some of these things, it no longer became a choice for me," he told CBS News. "It’s not something that I want to do. It’s something I feel like I have to do."

As Jonathan Turley notes,

Shapley has every reason not to want to do any of this.

After all, as President Joe Biden stated last year, “No one f–ks with a Biden.”

For years, a Democrat-controlled Congress refused to investigate Biden family influence-peddling, and the press dismissed people raising Hunter’s laptop as spreading “Russian disinformation.”

The media have worked hard to minimize the blowback after acknowledging the laptop’s authenticity and the growing evidence of millions in influence-peddling.

Part of this effort at “scandal implosion” has been to dismiss any criminal charges as relatively minor tax violations unconnected to the president.

Indeed, when the president recently agreed to a rare sit-down interview, the White House chose MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle.

Before asking about his son Hunter’s scandal, Ruhle emphasized it was “something personal” with “no ties to you.”

Many of us guffawed at the claim given multiple references on the laptop to President Biden, including possibly sharing in the proceeds from influence-peddling with foreign governments.

The problem is Shapley suggests some uncomfortable questions on how Biden’s administration may have worked to minimize charges against his son and, according to Shapley, “slow-walked” the investigation.

His interview explains why the Justice Department can indict figures like Rep. George Santos (R-NY) on a variety of fraud and money-laundering charges in a few months while spending years investigating Hunter Biden with no conclusion.

Shapley made clear he had never seen this level of interference in his long service at the IRS and said it was done “at the direction of the Department of Justice.”

And he said the interference began as soon as he “took control of this particular investigation”: “I immediately saw deviations from the normal process. It was way outside the norm of what I’ve experienced in the past.”

Shapley did not rush forward or leak to the media.

Rather, after watching decision after decision made to benefit Biden, Shapley reached a breaking point in what he called his “red-line meeting” when he and his team were removed from investigating the president’s son.

The interference came from a familiar source.

The Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland has been criticized for his refusal to appoint a special counsel to investigate the expanding allegations of Biden family influence-peddling — which include possible criminal charges from bribery to tax violations to money-laundering.

The laptop included references to Joe Biden getting a 10% cut of one Chinese deal.

Biden associates are warned not to use Joe Biden’s name but to employ code names like “the Big Guy.”

At the same time, the president and first lady are said to have benefited from public office and received payments from Hunter.

The emails also contradict the president’s repeated public declaration that he had no knowledge of his son’s foreign dealings — including by photos with his business associates and an actual audio tape referring to the deals.

Garland refuses to appoint a special counsel who would then have the ability to write a report on the alleged massive influence-peddling operations the Bidens run.

It is all part of the “incredible shrinking Merrick Garland,” who promised to prevent any political influence over his department.

We now have multiple whistleblowers alleging interference from the Justice Department to slow-walk investigations or shield the president’s son.

We also have questions raised by IRS agents’ visit to the home of Matt Taibbi, who helped expose the government-Twitter censorship program.

They appeared on the very day Taibbi appeared before Congress and was attacked by Democratic members as a “so-called journalist.”

(The subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, Delaware Stacey Plaskett, later called for Taibbi’s possible arrest.)

The IRS opened its probe of him on a Saturday — Christmas Eve last year, just weeks after his exposé.

With the GOP controlling the House, there will now be congressional investigation and oversight into these allegations.

But Shapley and other whistleblowers will soon learn that when it comes to many in the media and Congress, they also “don’t want to do any of this.”

Jonathan Turley is an attorney and a professor at George Washington University Law School.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 10:35
Published:5/26/2023 9:39:28 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Rallies 300 Points After Hot Inflation Data; Ulta Beauty Dives On Sales Miss The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 300 points Friday on hot inflation data. Ulta Beauty stock dived after missing sales estimates. Published:5/26/2023 9:33:02 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Rallies 250 Points After Hot Inflation Data; Ulta Beauty Dives On Sales Miss The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 250 points Friday on hot inflation data. Ulta Beauty stock dived after missing sales estimates. Published:5/26/2023 8:57:51 AM
[Markets] U.S. stocks open higher Friday amid renewed debt-ceiling optimism U.S. stocks open higher Friday amid renewed debt-ceiling optimism Published:5/26/2023 8:50:32 AM
[Markets] Debt ceiling negotiators race to cement final deal before deadline Even if Congressional Republicans and the White House reach an agreement to avert catastrophic default soon, they need time to put it into action. Published:5/26/2023 8:13:40 AM
[Markets] U.S. durable-goods orders were up 1.1% in April U.S. durable-goods orders were up 1.1% in April Published:5/26/2023 8:01:13 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Reverse Lower On Hot Inflation Data; Ulta Beauty Dives On Sales Miss Dow Jones futures reversed lower Friday on hot inflation data. Ulta Beauty stock dived after missing sales estimates. Published:5/26/2023 7:48:30 AM
[Markets] For Treasuries, It's Deja Vu All Over Again Before Long Weekend For Treasuries, It's Deja Vu All Over Again Before Long Weekend

By Ven Ram, Bloomberg markets live reporter and strategist

The market’s recent re-pricing of the Federal Reserve’s rate trajectory is nothing short of dramatic. Investors will find it challenging to price Friday’s slate of data going into the long weekend while being fully mindful of the risks centered in Washington.

Just after the Fed raised rates earlier this month, the markets were assigning a more-than-50% chance of a rate cut in July and fully factoring in a reduction by September. After some hawkish jawboning from James Bullard as well as Neel Kashkari and Thursday’s better-than-forecast 1Q GDP numbers, interest-rate traders see the Fed raising rates yet again in July. Talk about the markets turning on a dime.

Will Chair Jerome Powell, who all but signaled that the Fed would stay on hold when it meets next month, be persuaded otherwise if today’s PCE data turn out to higher than the markets estimate? And will consumers’ expectations of inflation in the University of Michigan survey jump yet again, putting paid to the school of thought that inflation is oh-so-2022?

The minutes of the Fed’s May review showed an interesting split in opinion among members. But if Powell has made up his mind, will we see his best persuasive powers at work in June to ensure we — rather magically — get a consensus decision as we have seen all through this cycle except once?

Amid all this, we are inching closer and closer to the X-date in Washington, the Treasury’s cash balance has fallen below $50 billion and there is still no sign of a deal. With Friday being a crucial deadline for traders, how will Treasuries close the week if there is no agreement in sight by the close of trading? After all, no one wants to go into a long weekend and leave one’s P&L to the whims of fortune until you can offload your positions on Tuesday.

As recently as in March, traders dreaded going into the weekend what with the endless torrent of headlines speculating the fate of mid-size banks. If baseball legend Yogi Berra were alive, he would have quipped: it’s deja vu all over again!


Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 08:26
Published:5/26/2023 7:42:30 AM
[Markets] Distributed Ledger: Could bitcoin and gold be haven buys as debt-ceiling fears mount? Here’s what recent trading patterns suggest. The latest Distributed Ledger column from MarketWatch: a weekly look at the most important moves and news in crypto. Published:5/26/2023 7:27:45 AM
[Markets] Stocks tick higher as investors await debt deal: Stock market news today Stocks rose slightly on Friday morning as investors awaited more news on the debt ceiling deliberations in Washington ahead of the holiday weekend. Published:5/26/2023 7:15:25 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Rise Ahead Of Key Inflation Data; Ulta Beauty Dives On Sales Miss Dow Jones futures rose Friday morning ahead of imminent inflation data. Ulta Beauty stock dived after missing sales estimates. Published:5/26/2023 7:09:41 AM
[Markets] Debt Saga Drags On, Rate Hike Handicapping, Data Deluge, Marvelous Marvell Plus, the Nasdaq and S&P 500 did not do justice to Thursday's market action as there were far more losers than winners on the day. Published:5/26/2023 7:03:27 AM
[Markets] Fade The Rally, The Dollar's Destiny Is Lower Fade The Rally, The Dollar's Destiny Is Lower

Authored by Simon White, Bloomberg macro strategist,

Debt-ceiling worries are driving the dollar up for now, but real yields, the fiscal deficit and structural overvaluation favor the medium-term downtrend remaining intact.

All of the recent move higher in nominal yields (discussed here) has been driven by real yields. Inflation, erroneously, is seen as yesterday’s problem, with breakevens remaining near the lower end of their two-year range.

Higher real yields might be expected to be good for the dollar. The currency has indeed risen in recent weeks, but this is more to do with safe-haven demand in the event the debt ceiling becomes binding.

In fact, using real yields on their own to gauge the performance of the dollar risks oversimplification. Higher real yields aren’t an automatic boost for the currency.

To understand why, we must look at the real yield curve.

This gives us a proxy for the real return an FX-hedged overseas investor would get for buying longer-term US debt. Dollar returns at the margin are driven by this, as can be seen in the robust leading relationship in the chart below.

The chart also shows that it is short-term real yields that have been rising more than longer-term real yields, flattening the real-yield curve, a process that started last summer ahead of the dollar’s peak in October. The flattening trend is intact, strongly suggesting the dollar will continue its decline once the debt ceiling is out of the way.

This cyclical outlook accords with two important structural factors that are dollar negative.

The first the US’s yawning fiscal deficit. At ~7% of GDP it is among the largest of major countries, and is historically wide - even before the US has entered a recession.

Furthermore, the US currency remains one of the most overvalued. The dollar’s real-effective exchange rate continues to look expensive on a long-term basis, even after the last eight-months’ sell-off.

Tellingly, the dollar’s weakness is not eliciting the typical demand for trade, cross-border credit and FX reserves it would normally, strongly suggesting its dominance has peaked.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 07:20
Published:5/26/2023 6:41:12 AM
[Markets] Debt ceiling fallout puts U.S. credit rating in limbo Fitch put the government on ‘Rating Watch Negative,’ so avoiding a default may not be enough to steady the stock market. Published:5/26/2023 6:08:44 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Rise On Debt-Ceiling Buzz; Nvidia, Chip, AI Plays Soar, But Market Breadth Terrible The Nasdaq jumped as Nvidia skyrocketed on an AI boom. But market breadth was terrible. Workday was a big winner late. Published:5/26/2023 5:49:48 AM
[Markets] Ron Paul: Biden's Running Out Of Ukraine Money? Good! Ron Paul: Biden's Running Out Of Ukraine Money? Good!

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

When the smoke finally clears, President Biden’s Ukraine debacle will go down – along with Afghanistan and Iraq – as one of the greatest foreign policy disasters in US history. Hundreds of thousands have been killed on both sides in the service of the US neocons’ long standing desire to “regime change” Russia.

And let’s not forget that $100 billion authorized by Congress to finance the neocons’ “Project Ukraine.”

With Russian control established in the strategic city of Bakhmut over the weekend, the neocon Ukraine project – like all neocon foreign policy projects before it – looks to be progressing rapidly toward failure. But that won’t stop the Biden Administration from attempting to extort more money from an America already teetering on the brink of economic collapse. And let’s not forget the battle over the “debt limit” raging in DC.

The Biden Administration’s profligate domestic spending is a battleground for Republican lawmakers, however when it comes to endless spending on Project Ukraine, with a few exceptions the two parties are in lockstep. At least when looking at Republican party leadership.

One thing is sure: we can count on Congress to throw good money after bad. After all, 20 years fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan got us…the Taliban in Afghanistan! With a cost of perhaps three trillion dollars. But the military-industrial complex and the think tanks pushing war and the mainstream media glorifying war all got paid well.

It may seem bleak, but this is where we have something to be optimistic about. As I’ve always said, you don’t need a majority to change the course of the country. A dedicated minority driven by the principles of liberty can produce incredible results.

The mainstream media is in a panic over the fact that of the $48 billion appropriated for Ukraine, only $6 billion remains. That won’t be enough to sustain “Project Ukraine” for more than a few weeks. With the tide of US public opinion turning overwhelmingly against throwing more money down the corrupt black hole called “Ukraine,” even unprincipled politicians are going to start listening to the emerging progressive/conservative alliance in Congress that’s had enough.

In Congress a principled multipolar minority is going to overtake a corrupt and mindless majority – bolstered by the American people. And that’s a good thing.

Election season is upon us, and although we would prefer to have recruited a majority of progressives and conservative/libertarians in Congress to our view that a hundred billion to Ukraine and possible World War III is not a good idea, we must nevertheless be satisfied that political realities are in our favor.

The communists talked about the “correlation of forces,” which took into account factors beyond military power to include politics and “soft power.” With that in mind, it seems likely that as the public mood in the US turns against sending endless billions to a corrupt Ukraine with the threat of World War III in the mix, the political animals in DC will begin abandoning the sinking ship.

With President Biden clearly flailing – and with the surprisingly strong primary challenge of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – we should look for lawmakers to begin abandoning “Project Ukraine” in droves. That movement, led by principled conservatives and progressives, will sink forever the neocon “Project Ukraine” and thus save us from global nuclear annihilation. Hopefully after this disaster, Americans will turn against neocons one and for all.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 06:30
Published:5/26/2023 5:40:53 AM
[Markets] Futures flat as debt ceiling talks drag on, inflation data in focus After several rounds of negotiations, President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy are closing in on a deal to raise the government's $31.4 trillion debt limit for two years, while capping spending on most items. The S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average are on course for their worst weekly performance in over two months as debt ceiling talks have been dragging on in Washington even as the June 1 deadline looms large. Meanwhile, investors await the Commerce Department's personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index figures for April, considered to be the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge. Published:5/26/2023 5:19:02 AM
[Markets] Feeding the American dream with their Asian heritage From the oldest tofu enterprise in the nation, to a Filipino fusion food cart that just opened in March, The Washington Post focused during this Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month on six businesses defying the odds, passing down tradition and so much more. Published:5/26/2023 5:13:20 AM
[Markets] Stocks Slip Lower, Inflation In Focus, Costco Earnings, Fed Bank Lending, Debt Ceiling Deal - 5 Things To Know Stock futures edge lower as traders eye debt deal reports; Fed inflation gauge in focus as rate hike bets quicken; Costco lower after Q3 earnings miss on muted big ticket spending; U.S. Banks cut Fed borrowing, balance sheet shrinks and Debt ceiling deal nears as Biden, McCarthy focus on spending freeze. Published:5/26/2023 4:49:19 AM
[Markets] Bond Report: Treasury yields ease ahead of key inflation data Treasury yields eased Friday ahead of the release of key inflation data. Published:5/26/2023 4:43:20 AM
[Markets] 3 Iconic Dow Stocks That Can Safely Double Your Money by 2028 The Dow Jones Industrial Average is composed of 30 time-tested, multinational businesses. Three of them are capable of delivering triple-digit total returns over the next five years. Published:5/26/2023 4:34:26 AM
[Markets] Russian Central Bank Governor Visits Iran To Strengthen Financial Ties Russian Central Bank Governor Visits Iran To Strengthen Financial Ties

Via The Cradle,

Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina visited Tehran for talks with her Iranian counterpart, Mohammad-Reza Farzin, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. The talks focused on strengthening relations between commercial banks from the two heavily sanctioned countries as well as “increasing banking infrastructure cooperation,” Iranian central bank Governor Farzin said.

Nabiullina also participated in talks during the Asian Clearing Union meeting in Tehran, which Russia is attending as an observer along with officials from Belarus and Afghanistan. According to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency, Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber discussed efforts with Nabiullina to eliminate the use of the dollar in transactions with Russia.

Elvira Nabiullina, via Reuters

Nabiullina’s visit to Tehran follows that of Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, President Vladimir Putin’s top energy official, last week.

Once lauded by western officials, Nabiullina faced unique challenges following the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022. Western governments froze some $300 billion of the Bank of Russia’s foreign reserves and imposed unprecedented economic sanctions on the country which caused a sharp drop in the value of the ruble.

However, Nabiulla was able to stabilize the ruble and manage the economic fallout from Russia’s disintegration from the US-dominated global financial system.

A graduate of Moscow State University in 1986, Nabiullina rose through the ranks of the USSR Science and Industry Union and its successor, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, and then through the ministry for economic development and trade before becoming head of the central bank in 2013.

In 2014, Nabiullina took the important step of allowing the ruble to float based on market conditions.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she sought to resign as governor but Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected the request and nominated her to a new five-year term.

Nabiullina’s visit to Tehran follows an agreement reached in January between the Russian and Iranian central banks to improve financial and banking transactions between the two countries. State-owned VTB Bank PJSC, Russia’s second-largest lender, has since opened an office in Iran.

Russia and Iran have increased economic and military cooperation in the face of western sanctions. Last week, President Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi signed an agreement to build a railway line linking Russia to India through Iran.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 05:00
Published:5/26/2023 4:28:10 AM
[Markets] Goldman economists predict U.S. Treasury funds will totally empty by June 9 Goldman economists predict U.S. Treasury funds will totally empty by June 9 Published:5/26/2023 4:28:10 AM
[Markets] JPMorgan kept Epstein as client for years after warnings, deposition shows A deposition transcript obtained by The Post shows that JPMorgan executive Mary Erdoes repeatedly said she had been made aware of Jeffrey Epstein’s status a sex offender but didn’t think it was her responsibility to remove him as a client. Published:5/26/2023 4:07:15 AM
[Markets] FTSE 100 higher as UK retail sales improve Shoppers continued to spend despite continued high inflation but economists warn that Bank of England has to keep raising interest rates. Published:5/26/2023 3:11:24 AM
[Markets] US, EU Politicians Demand Withdrawal Of COP28 Chief US, EU Politicians Demand Withdrawal Of COP28 Chief

Via The Cradle,

...lawmakers claim oil executives like Jaber are seeking to undermine climate change efforts...

Over 100 members of the US Congress and European Parliament signed a letter calling for Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber to be removed as the head of the upcoming COP28 climate conference, Reuters reported on 24 May.

COP28 will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in December and will center around efforts to mobilize $100 billion of public and private climate finance for developing economies.

Jaber, who heads the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and serves as the UAE’s climate envoy, was designated in January to lead the talks.

In the public letter, lawmakers, including US Democratic senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, voiced “profound concern” that oil companies would be able to “exert undue influence” on the climate negotiations.

Addressing US President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and the UN, the letter stated, “We urge you to … engage in diplomatic efforts to secure the withdrawal of the president-designate of COP28.”

On the European side, the signatories hailed mostly from green political parties, which have exercised increasing influence over the continent’s energy policies, perhaps most prominently in Germany.

Germany’s Green Party has been losing support as its energy policies move forward, increasing energy costs and threatening Germany’s energy intensive industrial economy.

Energy costs have risen in part due to efforts to shut down both the coal and nuclear energy industries, while supporting sanctions against Russia due to the Ukraine war which have blocked imports of cheap Russian natural gas.

An effort to mandate the installation of expensive heat pumps in homes in the place of gas and oil heating systems as well as a proposal to ban combustion-engine cars as of 2035, have also been unpopular.

Meanwhile, Sultan al-Jaber called for a major boost to public and private finance for the climate change project in Africa.

At the African Development Bank 2023 Annual Meetings in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, Jaber said that Africa has “huge potential for low-carbon growth and sustainable development.”

“But one critical challenge stands in its way – and that is the lack of available, accessible, affordable finance. And this lack of finance is putting the world’s climate goals and Africa’s sustainable development at risk,” he said, according to UAE news agency Wam.

“Cop28 is exploring additional mechanisms to supercharge the flow of private finance to Africa.”

Jaber called on developed nations to come through with the $100 billion in climate finance they pledged more than a decade ago.

However, Axios notes that some view such efforts as “green colonialism,” as “rich nations preemptively cut off desperately poor countries from the cheap fossil fuels that helped make them rich in the first place.”

“This is already leading to harmful policies that will hurt millions of poor Africans by slowing down their continent’s economic development while doing little, if anything, to help fight climate change,” wrote Todd Moss and Vijaya Ramachandran in Foreign Policy.

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 03:30
Published:5/26/2023 2:55:31 AM
[Markets] U.K. retail sales rise 0.5% in April, rebounding from 1.2% drop in March U.K. retail sales rise 0.5% in April, rebounding from 1.2% drop in March Published:5/26/2023 2:32:49 AM
[Markets] Lukashenko Confirms Russian Tactical Nukes Already Being Transferred To Belarus Lukashenko Confirms Russian Tactical Nukes Already Being Transferred To Belarus

Despite urgent warnings from US and Western allies, Moscow is moving forward with plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. The two longtime allies which form what they call a 'union state' signed a deal Thursday to formalize deployment of Russian nukes on Belarusian soil. All of this comes dangerously as Ukraine's cross-border sabotage attacks on Russian territory have clearly escalated. 

Alarmingly for Ukraine and its NATO backers, Belarus' president Alexander Lukashenko said soon after the deal was signed that the transfer of non-strategic nuclear weapons from Russia to Belarus is already underway.

Iskander tactical missile system

And Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said in Minsk alongside Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu: "Deployment of nonstrategic nuclear weapons is an effective response to the aggressive policy of countries unfriendly to us," according to regional media.

Additionally Shoigu stated that "In the context of an extremely sharp escalation of threats on the western borders of Russia and Belarus, a decision was made to take countermeasures in the military-nuclear sphere."

Starting months ago international reports said that Russian tactical nukes would soon be in Belarus, but there were conflicting reports over whether it had actually happened yet. 

Additionally, as AP highlights, "Also unclear is how many nuclear weapons would be kept in Belarus. The U.S. government believes Russia has about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, which include bombs that can be carried by aircraft, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery rounds."

All of this was put in motion starting in late March, when Russian President Vladimir Putin first announced that Minsk requested the presence of Russian tactical nukes. According to TASS at the time, "As the Russian leader indicated, the construction of storage facilities for tactical nuclear weapons will be completed in Belarus by July 1."

"Moscow has already provided Minsk with Iskander tactical missile systems capable of carrying nuclear weapons and has helped Minsk to re-equip its military aircraft to carry specialized weapons," TASS noted in its prior reporting. "As well, Belarusian missile crews and pilots have undergone training in Russia."

NATO has called the move "dangerous and irresponsible" - while EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell previously said, “Belarus hosting Russian nuclear weapons would mean an irresponsible escalation & threat to European security. Belarus can still stop it, it is their choice. The EU stands ready to respond with further sanctions." Currently the EU is preparing an 11th round of anti-Russia sanctions. 

But it must be recalled that the Unites States stations tactical nuclear weapons in places like Turkey as well some NATO locations in Europe. Turkey is merely across the Black Sea from Russia. This NATO 'nuclear sharing' program has been a reality for decades.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu additionally explained on Thursday that NATO is using the Ukraine crisis to build up its military infrastructure there:

"NATO is using the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext for building up its groups. Another stage of the alliance's expansion has been launched. Military infrastructure is being modernized in Eastern and Central Europe, strike weapons are being deployed, and the scale and intensity of joint exercises are increasing," Shoigu said at a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Council of Defense Ministers.

He also highlighted "the growing aggressive rhetoric and joint 'nuclear missions' by NATO countries in Eastern Europe for practicing the use of nuclear weapons delivery systems, as well as the upgrading of the components of the US global missile defense system."

This seems an 'answer' to the Western allies in terms of the rationale for proceeding with tactical nukes in Belarus.

But for some important context...

You will find more infographics at Statista

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 02:45
Published:5/26/2023 1:58:23 AM
[Markets] Rein In The FBI: Put An End To Their Gestapo Tactics Rein In The FBI: Put An End To Their Gestapo Tactics

Authored by John and Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

One of the creeping hands of totalitarianism running through the democracy is the Federal Bureau of Investigation… Because why does the FBI do all this? To scare the hell out of people… They work for the establishment and the corporations and the politicos to keep things as they are. And they want to frighten and chill the people who are trying to change things.”

- Howard Zinn, historian

Power corrupts. We know this.

In fact, we know this from experience learned the hard way at the hands of our own government.

So why is anyone surprised to learn that the FBI, one of the most power-hungry and corrupt agencies within the police state’s vast complex of power-hungry and corrupt agencies, misused a massive government surveillance database more than 300,000 times in order to target American citizens?

This is how the government operates, after all.

First, they seek out extraordinary powers acquired in the wake of some national crisis—in this case, warrantless surveillance powers intended to help the government spy on foreign targets suspected of engaging in terrorism—and then they use those powers against the American people.

According to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the FBI repeatedly misused Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to spy on the communications of two vastly disparate groups of Americans: those involved in the George Floyd protests and those who may have taken part in the Jan. 6, 2021, protests at the Capitol.

This is par for the course for the FBI, whose modus operandi has historically been to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” perceived threats to the government’s power.

Indeed, the FBI has a long history of persecuting, prosecuting and generally harassing activists, politicians, and cultural figures.

Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, the FBI’s targets were civil rights activists, those suspected of having Communist ties, and anti-war activists. In more recent decades, the FBI has expanded its reach to target so-called domestic extremists, environmental activists, and those who oppose the police state.

In 2019, President Trump promised to give the FBI “whatever they need” to investigate and disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism, without any apparent thought for the Constitution’s prohibitions on such overreach.

That misguided pledge sheds a curious light on the FBI’s ongoing spree of SWAT team raids, surveillance, disinformation campaigns, fear-mongering, paranoia, and strong-arm tactics meted out to dissidents on both the right and the left.

Yet while these overreaching, heavy-handed lessons in how to rule by force have become standard operating procedure for a government that communicates with its citizenry primarily through the language of brutality, intimidation and fear, none of this is new.

Indeed, the FBI’s love affair with totalitarianism can be traced back to the Nazi police state.

As historian Robert Gellately recounts, the Nazi police state was so admired for its efficiency and order by the world powers of the day that in the decades after World War II, the FBI, along with other government agencies, aggressively recruited at least a thousand Nazis, including some of Hitler’s highest henchmen.

Since then, U.S. government agencies—the FBI, CIA and the military—have fully embraced many of the Nazi’s well-honed policing tactics, and used them repeatedly against American citizens.

With every passing day, the United States government borrows yet another leaf from Nazi Germany’s playbook: Secret police. Secret courts. Secret government agencies. Surveillance. Censorship. Intimidation. Harassment. Torture. Brutality. Widespread corruption. Entrapment. Indoctrination. Indefinite detention.

These are not tactics used by constitutional republics, where the rule of law and the rights of the citizenry reign supreme. Rather, they are the hallmarks of authoritarian regimes, where secret police control the populace through intimidation, fear and official lawlessness on the part of government agents.

Consider the extent to which the FBI’s far-reaching powers to surveil, detain, interrogate, investigate, prosecute, punish, police and generally act as a law unto themselves resemble those of their Nazi cousins, the Gestapo.

Just like the Gestapo, the FBI has vast resources, vast investigatory powers, and vast discretion to determine who is an enemy of the state.

Much like the Gestapo spied on mail and phone calls, FBI agents have carte blanche access to the citizenry’s most personal information.

Much like the Gestapo’s sophisticated surveillance programs, the FBI’s spying capabilities can delve into Americans’ most intimate details (and allow local police to do so, as well).

Much like the Gestapo’s ability to profile based on race and religion, and its assumption of guilt by association, the FBI’s approach to pre-crime allows it to profile Americans based on a broad range of characteristics including race and religion.

Much like the Gestapo’s power to render anyone an enemy of the state, the FBI has the power to label anyone a domestic terrorist.

Much like the Gestapo infiltrated communities in order to spy on the German citizenry, the FBI routinely infiltrates political and religious groups, as well as businesses.

Just as the Gestapo united and militarized Germany’s police forces into a national police force, America’s police forces have largely been federalized and turned into a national police force.

Just as the Gestapo carried out entrapment operations, the FBI has become a master in the art of entrapment.

Just as the Gestapo’s secret files on political leaders were used to intimidate and coerce, the FBI’s attempts to target and spy on anyone suspected of “anti-government” sentiment have been similarly abused.

The Gestapo became the terror of the Third Reich by creating a sophisticated surveillance and law enforcement system that relied for its success on the cooperation of the military, the police, the intelligence community, neighborhood watchdogs, government workers for the post office and railroads, ordinary civil servants, and a nation of snitches inclined to report “rumors, deviant behavior, or even just loose talk.”

Likewise, as countless documents make clear, the FBI has had no qualms about using its extensive powers in order to blackmail politicians, spy on celebrities and high-ranking government officials, and intimidate and attempt to discredit dissidents of all stripes.

In fact, borrowing heavily from the Gestapo, between 1956 and 1971, the FBI conducted an intensive domestic intelligence program, termed COINTELPRO, intended to neutralize domestic political dissidents. As Congressman Steve Cohen explains, “COINTELPRO was set up to surveil and disrupt groups and movements that the FBI found threatening… many groups, including anti-war, student, and environmental activists, and the New Left were harassed, infiltrated, falsely accused of criminal activity          .”

Sound familiar? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Those targeted by the FBI under COINTELPRO for its intimidation, surveillance and smear campaigns included: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, the Black Panther Party, Billie Holiday, Emma Goldman, Aretha Franklin, Charlie Chaplin, Ernest Hemingway, Felix Frankfurter, John Lennon, and hundreds more.

The Church Committee, the Senate task force charged with investigating COINTELPRO abuses in 1975, denounced the government’s abuses:

“Too many people have been spied upon by too many Government agencies and too much information has been collected. The Government has often undertaken the secret surveillance of citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, even when those beliefs posed no threat of violence or illegal acts on behalf of a hostile foreign power.”

The report continued:

“Groups and individuals have been harassed and disrupted because of their political views and their lifestyles. Investigations have been based upon vague standards whose breadth made excessive collection inevitable. Unsavory and vicious tactics have been employed—including anonymous attempts to break up marriages, disrupt meetings, ostracize persons from their professions, and provoke target groups into rivalries that might result in deaths. Intelligence agencies have served the political and personal objectives of presidents and other high officials.”

Whether 50 years ago or in the present day, the treatment being doled out by the government’s lethal enforcers has remained consistent, no matter the threat.

The FBI’s laundry list of crimes against the American people includes surveillance, disinformation, blackmail, entrapment, intimidation tactics, harassment and indoctrination, governmental overreach, abuse, misconduct, trespassing, enabling criminal activity, and damaging private property, and that’s just based on what we know.

Whether the FBI is planting undercover agents in churches, synagogues and mosques; issuing fake emergency letters to gain access to Americans’ phone records; using intimidation tactics to silence Americans who are critical of the government; recruiting high school students to spy on and report fellow students who show signs of being future terrorists; or persuading impressionable individuals to plot acts of terror and then entrapping them, the overall impression of the nation’s secret police force is that of a well-dressed thug, flexing its muscles and doing the boss’ dirty work of ensuring compliance, keeping tabs on potential dissidents, and punishing those who dare to challenge the status quo.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, it’s time to rein in the Federal Bureau of Intimidation’s war on political freedom.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 23:40
Published:5/25/2023 11:36:15 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Newswires: Hyundai, LG Energy to build $4.3 billion EV battery factory in U.S. Hyundai Motor Group and LG Energy Solution plan to build a $4.3 billion electric-vehicle battery factory in the U.S., strengthening their tie-up overseas to meet growing demand for EVs. Published:5/25/2023 10:58:45 PM
[Markets] Legislation To Block Biden's ATF Rule Stalls As Millions Set To Become Felons Overnight  Legislation To Block Biden's ATF Rule Stalls As Millions Set To Become Felons Overnight 

Submitted by Gun Owners of America,

Most Americans are unaware that a new rule from President Biden's ATF is less than one week away from turning millions of fellow citizens into felons overnight. 

The new rule targets firearms that utilize a brace, a device originally designed to aid disabled veterans in shooting guns without assistance. These braces were approved for sale and use by ATF themselves. 

An estimated 40 million of these firearms are owned by law-abiding citizens. Those citizens, unless aware of the ATF's rule change, will become felons on June 1st – unless the House votes on H. J. Res. 44 to overturn the ban using the Congressional Review Act. 

This process allows both chambers of Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval to nullify the regulation, and a vote in the Senate would not be subject to filibuster rules. 

The Republican-controlled House has already cleared the resolution through committee. Currently, there are 189 cosponsors of the bill. But for some reason, it is not scheduled a vote before Congress goes into recess or the rule goes into effect. 

This vote is extremely important because it would force members of the Senate, with vulnerable Democrats in gun-friendly states, to go on the record while answering this question: will you vote to allow this administration to turn many of your constituents into felons overnight? 

Even though the CRA likely would be vetoed by the President, getting these members of Congress on record holds them accountable to their constituents. It would look ridiculous if they voted no on an issue like this which affects such a large swath of the population, but then turned around and preached about being "pro-gun." 

Ben from GOA explains why the ATF's 'free' tax stamp for your braced firearms isn't exactly free... 

This is where we need your help. 

You can call your elected officials at (202) 224-3121.

Tell them to demand that your representative tell Speaker McCarthy to schedule a vote for this important issue that impacts millions of Americans. 

And if they aren't already, let them know to support S.J. RES. 20 if they're in the Senate & H.J. RES. 20 if they're in the House of Representatives 

*    *    *

We'll hold the line for you in Washington. We are No Compromise. Join the Fight Now.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 23:00
Published:5/25/2023 10:12:35 PM
[Markets] Dangerous Global Shift From Dollar Driven By CCP And US Policy, Experts Say Dangerous Global Shift From Dollar Driven By CCP And US Policy, Experts Say

Authored by Alex Newman via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The trend away from the U.S. dollar in global trade and finance is accelerating rapidly as inflation persists, government debt levels explode, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) roams the planet negotiating deals in other currencies.

A Chinese bank employee counts US dollar bills at a bank counter in Nantong in China's eastern Jiangsu province on Aug. 6, 2019. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The economic and political implications of the dollar’s possible loss of its prized status as global reserve currency are hard to overstate, according to experts.

In fact, such a development—if and when it occurs—could prove catastrophic to U.S. consumers as their spending power evaporates, economists are warning amid debt-ceiling negotiations that have sent tremors around the world.

Numerous analysts who spoke with The Epoch Times warned that the CCP and other U.S. adversaries were actively advancing the global effort to undermine the dollar.

However, current and former U.S. lawmakers and policymakers also placed much of the blame on the Biden administration, U.S. government spending, and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies.

The dollar is clearly at risk from foreign enemies who wish to challenge American power and domestic fools who believe the American credit card has no limits on spending,” explained Kevin Freeman, host of the Economic War Room and an authority on economic warfare.

In comments to The Epoch Times, Freeman, who has briefed top U.S. military officials and policymakers, pointed to CCP strongman Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin as foreign adversaries seeking to undermine the dollar.

The Saudis and numerous powers across Africa and Latin America have joined the “anti-dollar cabal” in recent months, he added.

But the U.S. government deserves some of the blame for the developments, he said.

“Sadly, we are making it easy for them with massive debt increases, an erratic foreign policy, and Washington’s arrogance that ignores the threat,” said Freeman, who also serves as a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy.

Multiple members of Congress who spoke with The Epoch Times echoed the concerns about the Biden administration’s role in the accelerating shift away from the dollar.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) pointed to the president himself. “Joe Biden’s war mongering, runaway inflation, and irresponsible spending sprees have threatened our currency’s value,” he said.

A broad range of experts who spoke with The Epoch Times were divided on when or even if the U.S. dollar might lose its status as global reserve currency, and what that could mean for the U.S. economy and the American people.

While many are warning of calamity, some even said there may be a “silver lining” to the U.S. dollar losing its global position.

But regardless of when or how the saga plays out, the significance of the trends surrounding the U.S. dollar and its role in the world will be profound and highly disruptive at the very least, experts said.


Thanks to the unchallengeable supremacy of the United States in the aftermath of World War II and the dollar’s nominal backing by gold at the time, and later its endorsement by oil exporters as the “petro-dollar,” the American currency has reigned supreme among currencies for over 70 years.

The dollar still benefits from what is known as the “network effect” as well as the fact that U.S. capital markets are the deepest and most liquid in the world, experts told The Epoch Times.

But if current trends away from the dollar and political instability continue, analysts say the American currency’s coveted status as the global reserve could be shaken or even lost for good. In fact, the process is already underway, some experts warned.

The dollar’s share of global reserves just two decades ago was at about 75 percent, according to experts and analysts. Today, estimates suggest it is under 50 percent and shrinking fast.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva (L) talks with BlackRock Chair and CEO Laurence D. Fink during a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on Jan. 23, 2020. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking at the 2023 Milken Institute Global Conference, International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva highlighted the trend.

“There has been a gradual shift away from the dollar,” she said, adding that the euro, the British pound, and the CCP’s yuan were all gaining ground.

While Georgieva said she did not anticipate an imminent rise of a viable alternative as “we may migrate to central bank digital currencies massively,” that does not mean it will not come eventually.

Non-Western central banks are also buying gold in record quantities, and analysts expect that demand to remain strong.

We think this trend of central bank buying is likely to continue amid heightened geopolitical risks and elevated inflation,” Swiss bank UBS said in a note.

“In fact, the US decision to freeze Russian foreign exchange reserves in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine may have led to a long-term impact on the behavior of central banks.”

Even traditional U.S. allies have been conducting deals in non-dollar currencies. In late March, for example, the French government completed its first cross-border liquified natural gas deal in Chinese yuan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping before an extended-format meeting of heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit (SCO) member states in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on Sept. 16, 2022. (Sputnik/Sergey Bobylev/Pool via Reuters)

Also in March, authorities in Brazil—an economic powerhouse that historically has had close relations with the United States—also inked a deal with the CCP to trade in domestic currencies rather than the dollar.

The trends are accelerating. According to a recent note by prominent currency analyst Stephen Jen at Eurizon SLJ, the dollar lost market share in 2022 at 10 times the pace as during the previous 20 years—a trend he says most analysts have missed.

The speed at which this is happening is dramatic, too. “Adjusting for these price changes, the dollar, we calculate, has lost some 11 percent of its market share since 2016 and double that amount since 2008,” added Jen, who previously worked at Morgan Stanley.

Much of the recent acceleration has to do with U.S. policy on Ukraine. “This erosion in the USD’s reserve currency status has accelerated precipitously since the start of the war in Ukraine,” noted Jen, pointing to “exceptional actions” against Russia that “startled” large reserve-holding countries.

“What we witnessed in 2022 was sort of a ‘defund-the-global-police’ moment, whereby many reserve managers in the world disagreed with the conduct of both Russia and the US.”

CCP Agenda

Calls for a new global monetary system and reserve currency are not new, though. Even a decade ago, the CCP was promoting the idea through its propaganda machine.

“What may also be included as a key part of an effective reform is the introduction of a new international reserve currency that is to be created to replace the dominant U.S. dollar, so that the international community could permanently stay away from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States,” Liu Chang wrote in an opinion piece for Xinhua, a CCP propaganda and intelligence-gathering operation.

Analysts said the Xinhua editorial was undoubtedly approved by senior CCP officials and clearly reflected Beijing’s views.

One benefit of such a policy would be to “encourage Washington to play a much more constructive role in addressing global affairs,” the CCP piece continued, calling for a “de-Americanized” so-called “new world order.”

It was hardly the first time the CCP touted the idea. In a 2009 report by People’s Bank of China chief Zhou Xiaochuan dubbed “Reform the International Monetary System,” the CCP called for an “international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run.” The proposed global currency could be issued by the IMF, he said.

In other words, almost 15 years ago, the highest echelons of power in Beijing were plotting a global currency to replace the dollar as the world reserve.

When asked about the idea at a Council on Foreign Relations event, then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner shocked observers. “We’re actually quite open to that,” he said, causing the dollar to plunge.

Many of the same policymakers from the Obama administration in 2009 who were supportive of the idea remain in positions of influence in the Biden administration today.

And as The Epoch Times reported in 2021 amid the CCP virus crisis, the IMF has been moving in that direction with its special drawing rights, a sort of proto-global currency issued by the global financial institution.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 21:40
Published:5/25/2023 8:54:08 PM
[Markets] Elon Musk’s brain-implant company says it will start a trial in humans Neuralink said it has regulatory approval to conduct a clinical trial of its brain implants in people, a milestone for the company as it seeks to commercialize a device that will link human brains to computers. Published:5/25/2023 8:48:23 PM
[Markets] : Debt-ceiling talks: McCarthy and Biden both say Thursday that negotiators are making ‘progress’ Some top House Republicans and the Biden White House sound upbeat Thursday on Washington’s debt-ceiling talks. Published:5/25/2023 7:44:54 PM
[Markets] Mayor London Breed Chased Off By Violent, Screaming Mob During Presser In SF Junkie Nest To Denounce Drug Epidemic Mayor London Breed Chased Off By Violent, Screaming Mob During Presser In SF Junkie Nest To Denounce Drug Epidemic

Authored by Monica Showalter via,

From the annals of "What was she thinking?," here's San Francisco's mayor, London Breed.

According to the New York Post:

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the city's board of supervisors were forced to retreat inside after a meeting they attempted to hold in a notorious open-air drug market was disrupted by jeers, shouting and a woman who hurled a brick into the crowd, according to a report.

On Tuesday, city leaders decided to hold the meeting outdoors in United Nations Plaza to highlight problems plaguing the area — including surging fentanyl overdoses — and to discuss potential solutions, KRON4 reported

Breed and Supervisor Aaron Peskin took to the podium and proclaimed the city has been tolerating "illegal, out-of-control behavior for far too long."

"Many San Franciscans do not feel safe," Peskin said.

"Brazen drug dealing and deteriorating street conditions have exacerbated a humanitarian crisis on our streets."

But less than 10 minutes after the meeting began, it was cut short as the crowd hurled insults at the mayor and supervisors until they just walked away from the podium, according to KRON.

Suffice to say, it didn't end well.

Breed's city has been turned into a crime- and homeless-infested hellhole on her watch. A feces-strewn open-air drug market in many quarters, where junkies, addicts, criminals, vagrants, and bums all gather together for their drug deals, panhandling, and shoplifting projects.  This particular hellhole, at United Nations Plaza, has always been a center of mayhem — I remember it as a trash-strewn, urine-soaked junkie redoubt when I lived in the city 30 years ago.

It hasn't changed any, except that an infusion of city money to NGOs to "help" the homeless has made it a lot nastier.  Anyone who's ever lived in that city would know that that's not the place you go for a well heeled press conference announcing all the new government money you are going to be spending to end crime in the city.

You don't go into a tiger's lair to talk about how you'll be taming the tigers.  You don't go into a terrorist den and denounce terrorism if you have anything resembling a brain.  And you especially don't go into an open-air drug market, full of dealers and their customers, to talk about how you'll be ending the fentanyl crisis, putting junkies in compelled treatment, and shutting the scene down because "everyone" opposes this activity.

Actually, what should be news to Breed is that some people are for it — the dealers, their addicted clients, and the NGOs that thrive on "serving" and perpetuating the situation for the sake of winning more government funding.

This is their home.  This is their habitat.  This is the place they made, and they don't want any changes, other than more money coming in.  Like everyone else, they have "interests."

Bad people exist, and in some places, they are all bad people. 

A smart mayor would send in the cops and maybe the bulldozers with no warning. 

Not Breed.

She was last seen insisting that "this is a safe city," kid you not.

She just learned the hard way it's not, but don't expect her to make that connection.

What this shows is how remarkably naïve Breed is about the problems plaguing her city, even just blocks from San Francisco's City Hall.

Don't count on any of her proposed "solutions" to make so much as a dent in that city's problem.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 20:20
Published:5/25/2023 7:44:54 PM
[Markets] Earnings Results: Wellness and returns to the office kept beauty products in demand. Now, Ulta Beauty execs say, prices are starting to fall Ulta Beauty executives said Thursday that rivals have started to cut prices for beauty products. Published:5/25/2023 6:48:08 PM
[Markets] Russian Jets Intercept US Bombers Over Baltic For 2nd Time In Days Russian Jets Intercept US Bombers Over Baltic For 2nd Time In Days

Russia on Thursday announced it had scrambled fighter jets to intercept two inbound US strategic bomber planes in order to prevent them from "violating the state border" over the Baltic Sea.

It marks the second such dangerous intercept incident in merely three days. While such incidents over the Black and Baltic seas are not uncommon, it is unusual for more than one encounter to be reported within only a matter of days, suggesting the two super powers are increasingly bumping up against each other in the region amid the unpredictable backdrop of the Ukraine war.

Russia's military described that an Su-27 fighter jet alongside an Su-35 were deployed in response to identifying "the air targets as two US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers".

USAF B-1B Lancer, US Air Force

"The violation of the state border was prevented," the defense ministry said - and after the US bombers were turned back the Russian jets "returned safely to their air base." It said that the intercept flight was "carried out in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace."

In addition to this week's intercepts of US planes, other Western aircraft, including French and German surveillance planes, were shadowed by Russian jets in recent weeks.

Tuesday saw a similar incident play out, also involving a pair of US bombers. But the Pentagon downplayed it as "nothing significant".

The National Defense Control Center of the Russian Federation had the described of Tuesday's incident, "The crew of the Russian fighter classified the air targets as two US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers and occupied the established air watch zone."

Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder had additionally confirmed it: "My understanding is that it was a safe and professional interaction with Russian aircraft. So nothing significant to report on that front," he said in a prior briefing.

The US could be back to probing Russia's aerial defense perimeter following a mid-March incident which saw a US MQ-9 drone crash into the Black Sea.

Video of the mid-March incident...

The US Department of Defense later published a short video of a Russian fighter jet performing an unsafe maneuver while dumping jet fuel on the drone, damaging it and ultimately causing it to crash. The US had said it would temporarily pull back how close its aircraft patrol near Russia's borders.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 19:20
Published:5/25/2023 6:40:55 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall: Nasdaq Jumps As Nvidia, Chip, AI Plays Soar, But Market Breadth Terrible The Nasdaq jumped as Nvidia skyrocketed on an AI boom. But market breadth was terrible. Workday was a big winner late. Published:5/25/2023 6:26:18 PM
[Markets] : Ford EVs will be able to use Tesla charging stations under new agreement Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk held a Twitter Spaces livestream to reveal the agreement. Published:5/25/2023 5:50:05 PM
[Markets] Man Paralyzed For 12 Years Walks Again Thanks To Brain, Spinal Cord Implants Man Paralyzed For 12 Years Walks Again Thanks To Brain, Spinal Cord Implants

Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A paralyzed man has been able to walk again for the first time in years simply by using the power of his mind thanks to implants fitted in his brain and spinal cord.

Gert-Jan Oskam, 40, victim of a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed, walks with his implants during a press conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, on May 23, 2023. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

Gert-Jan Oskam, a 40-year-old Dutchman, was paralyzed in his legs and partially paralyzed in his arms following a cycling accident 12 years ago during which he suffered spinal cord damage.

He was told he would never walk again.

However, after being fitted with a device called a “brain–spine interface,” Oskam regained the ability to voluntarily move his legs and feet just by thinking about it, according to a study published May 24 in the journal Nature.

He can now stand, climb stairs, and even traverse complex terrains with the help of a walking aid, according to researchers.

I feel like a toddler, learning to walk again,” Oskam told the BBC. “It has been a long journey, but now I can stand up and have a beer with my friend. It’s a pleasure that many people don’t realize.”

An international team of researchers, led by Dr. Grégoire Courtine, Professor Jocelyne Bloch, and others from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, fitted Oskam with the brain–spine interface, which works by creating a direct link between “cortical signals and the analogue modulation of epidural electrical stimulation targeting the spinal cord regions involved in the production of walking,” according to researchers.

How the Device Works

Put simply, the device restored the neurological link between the brain and the spinal cord, which is typically severed during accidents such as Oskam’s.

The device was implanted into Oskam’s skull, meaning it is not visible to the naked eye. When Oskam thinks about walking, the implant detects electrical activity in the cortex, the outer layer of the brain, and sends brain waves wirelessly to a computer that Oskam wears in a backpack.

The information is then transmitted to a pulse generator inserted into his spinal cord, effectively switching on muscles and allowing him to produce specific movements.

Gert-Jan Oskam, 40, victim of a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed, poses with his implants that allows him to walk naturally during a press conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, on May 23, 2023. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

Oskam also underwent around 40 rehabilitation sessions using the brain–spine interface, after which he regained the ability to voluntarily move his legs and feet.

Researchers believe Oskam’s movements would not have been possible with spinal stimulation alone and that the training sessions “prompted further recovery in nerve cells” which were not completely severed during his injury.

As well as being able to walk while using the device, Oskam can also walk short distances without the device, provided he uses crutches.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 18:20
Published:5/25/2023 5:25:10 PM
[Markets] Nikola Fell Hard -- and This Ad-Tech Stock Plunged Even More Thursday One tech giant generated huge gains for many market benchmarks, but obscured downward moves in other stocks. Published:5/25/2023 5:07:31 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Nasdaq Jumps As Nvidia, Chip, AI Plays Soar, But Market Breadth Terrible The Nasdaq jumped as Nvidia skyrocketed on an AI boom. But market breadth was terrible. Workday was a big winner late. Published:5/25/2023 4:43:02 PM
[Markets] Nasdaq Jumps As Nvidia, These Chip And AI Plays Soar, But Market Breadth Terrible The Nasdaq jumped as Nvidia skyrocketed on an AI boom. But market breadth was terrible. Workday was a big winner late. Published:5/25/2023 4:18:40 PM
[Markets] Countering Censorship With Free Speech And Facts Countering Censorship With Free Speech And Facts

Authored by Dr. Carl Heneghan and Dr. Tom Jefferson via The Daily Sceptic,

At the centre of democracy is free speech. But everywhere you look it is under attack. There has been a surge in concerns about the creeping censorship that fills the airwaves and the increasing suppression on various media platforms.

Our work has been targeted by those who aim to silence and limit our right to free speech. Therefore, we consider it vital to understand the tactics of censorship to exercise your right to freedom of expression and contribute to the fight for free speech.

The Instant Emotional Outburst  

This usually is an abusive attack that uses swear words (‘you stupid asshole‘) or seeks to defame you somehow: you’re a murderer, you have blood on your hands. It typically is an instantaneous reaction that seeks to shut down the debate immediately. Everyone should know you’re such a bad person, and therefore equally, your opinions are …..

We find this strategy impossible to engage with and should be ignored.     

The Labelling Technique 

This will pigeonhole you as an ‘anti’ something, a ‘phobic’ or an ‘-ist’. It may paint you as a Right-winger or a Left-winger. The aim is to put you in your place: you’re someone with a fixed ideology and, consequently, a terrible person. Therefore, your views aren’t worth engaging with. This is a common tactic as it doesn’t address the message you portray but instead attacks you, the messenger

It’s a tactic that academics often use: Jeremy Farrar used it in his book. Somehow there are “serious scientists”, and therefore there are those that lack the ability to be serious.

As a strategy, it is impossible to deal with and is a certain ender of debate. However, when this happens, it generally means you are on the right track, so don’t be fazed by these disturbing actions; it shows the attacker has lost his way and cannot formulate a coherent argument; he has run out of options. 

The Takedown 

Increasingly this is the tactic of social media sites. Driven by certain positions that suit the status quo or the government of the day, you’ll be removed from social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Or your message will come with a warning.

Often underpinned by fact-checking sites, this strategy requires action to overcome any ban. We think it is necessary to regulate such sites if they act like news outlets. While the latter have editorial controls, the former should be clear about the process of what it should and shouldn’t allow and how it deals with disputes.  

We also learned some politicians favour this tactic. For example, the Lockdown Files based on Leaked WhatsApp messages showed that attacks were partly orchestrated by Matt Hancock, who harnessed the full power of the state to silence ‘dissenters’. As far as Hancock was concerned, anyone who fundamentally disagreed with his approach was mad and dangerous and needed to be shut down.

One of the answers is to create multiple channels for your outlets, and increasingly, we’re finding Substack a valuable outlet for explainers about the problems. 

The Undermining Publication.

While the emotional outburst, the labelling and the takedown undermine your credibility, a fourth approach is to produce a website or a publication that seeks to destroy your reputation. 

In January 2021, a website called ‘Anti-Virus: The Covid-19 FAQ’ was created by a group unknown to us, including a sitting MP. Its sole purpose was to debunk messages that disagreed with mainstream Government policies — the website list “myths” about Covid and names “sceptics”, including us. If you click on names, you will be introduced to a series of capital charges against us. We were no longer evidence-based if we questioned the evidence for policies such as the Rule of Six.

The website was “dedicated to debunking common Covid Sceptic arguments and highlighting the track record of some of the most influential and consistently-wrong Covid Sceptics”.

However, the truth will emerge over the long term, and the proponents of such sites will end up wishing they had never embarked on such a foolhardy strategy. 

But beware of being called out for making an error. Undertaking research is fraught with dangers; mistakes are common and can occur at all stages, even at the point of publication. An overzealous editor can change one word, and the whole meaning of your text can go out the window. Of course, mistakes made should be acknowledged and corrected. But beware of the censorship zealots who will seek to taint all your work going forward as error-strewn.

The complaints

An insidious approach that seeks to get your boss and your organisation to shut you up. The complainant hasn’t got the means or the argument to take you on directly. Instead, he or she goes behind your back, puts you and your family under pressure, and, in some circumstances, threatens your livelihood. In doing so, he accepts his inability to debate and discuss the issues directly. 

However, sometimes they will also make a big deal over the investigation. Your work is tainted because the organisation deems you worthy of an investigation. The vast majority of complaints are disagreements, but organisations seem ill-equipped to tell the difference between a valid complaint and someone employing the tactics of censorship and suppression. 

Editorial Bias

We have increasingly seen several journals and news outlets take a particular stance and only report or accept articles based on their ideological views. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to counter this problem; however, it is worth understanding those outlets that take such fixed views. Beware of those that seek to slander you editorially. 

We’ve been surprised by some of the medical journals’ one-sided approaches – including the commissioning of biased and Teflon editorials and the deviation from usual editorial processes that seek to undermine the research output. Teflon is when the uncomfortable message cannot stick to you, the editor, because you are hiding behind an editorial undermining the research you do not like. In fact, with Teflon, nothing sticks.

Some editors cannot withstand the pressure of the social media posse, who circle their prey like vultures. The worst thing an editor can do is give in to these bullies: unelected, relentless and often overnight experts. Give in once to the posse, and you may perish, or even worse, you might find your work retracted. Be ready for the onslaught and prepare well. In your fightback, take the emotion out of your responses and turn to the evidence. 

But beware of those editors who choose peer reviewers to support their one-sided views using anonymous attacks to suppress research outputs that don’t meet their predetermined opinions. Ultimately though, it will be to their discredit as they should be built on impartiality and fairness: it’s fair to say that journals have had a lousy pandemic. However, there’s little to do here but move on to the next journal; there’s plenty of them. 

Comments Cartel

This is a brilliant tactic. It consists of an organised onslaught on a piece of published research work. You can see this in the comments to A122. The underlying message is that the research is unsound because so many people post negative comments; hence, science is democratic, and the Noes have it, which is nonsense. We recommend databasing the addresses of the senders if they exist and checking the text for style patterns, as most of the comments are repetitions passed along from one member of the cartel to the next.

It’s worth reminding yourself of some laws that protect you if you decide to speak out.

The 1986 Education Act (No.2) states: “Persons concerned in the Government of any establishment… shall take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers.” The 1988 Education Reform Act references the right of U.K. academics “to question and test received wisdom and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or the privileges they may have at their institution”. The European Convention on Human Rights Article 10 states that “protection extends to the expression of views that may shock, disturb or offend the deeply held beliefs of others”. UNESCO’s 1997 Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel states that institutions should be accountable for effectively supporting academic freedom and fundamental human rights.

It comes down to this: no single idea or belief should be privileged. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. If we elicit an emotional response or find that folk disagree or are disappointed by our answers, we have done our job. However, emotions that lead to the tactics of suppression and censorship fail to engage critically with the issues of the day. 

Reflecting uncertainty is a central tenet of free speech. However, the current pursuit of truth is a path filled with hazards. Learning to approach matters of debate critically and with confidence will ensure our democratic values remain intact.

*  *  *

Dr. Carl Heneghan is the Oxford Professor of Evidence Based Medicine and Dr. Tom Jefferson is an epidemiologist based in Rome who works with Professor Heneghan on the Cochrane Collaboration. This article was first published on their Substack blog, Trust The Evidence, which you can subscribe to here.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 17:00
Published:5/25/2023 4:12:55 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Dips Despite Debt Ceiling Hopes; Nvidia Rockets On AI Buzz As This Ray Dalio Stock Is Volatile On Earnings The Dow Jones fell despite new debt ceiling dopes. Nvidia stock rocketed amid more AI buzz. A Ray Dalio stock rose ahead of earnings. Published:5/25/2023 3:54:43 PM
[Markets] : Nvidia’s market capitalization gain on Thursday is bigger than all of Disney, Netflix, Boeing or Nike The graphic-chip maker’s stock market jump was greater than the entire market capitalization of Wall Street titans Goldman Sachs and Blackstone Group. Published:5/25/2023 3:54:43 PM
[Markets] Why Intel’s stock fell as Nvidia led semiconductor sector on massive surge Why Intel’s stock fell as Nvidia led semiconductor sector on massive surge Published:5/25/2023 3:35:27 PM
[Markets] How major US stock indexes fared Thursday 5/25/2023 Wall Street’s building mania around artificial intelligence helped lift the market, even as worries worsen about political rancor in Washington. Because of its immense size, Nvidia is one of the most influential stocks on the market, and it helped push the Nasdaq up 1.7%. The Nasdaq composite rose 213.93 points, or 1.7% to 12,698.09. Published:5/25/2023 3:29:30 PM
[Markets] NVDA Adds Record Market Cap; Everything Else Dumps As Debt-Ceiling Idiocy Continues NVDA Adds Record Market Cap; Everything Else Dumps As Debt-Ceiling Idiocy Continues

Nvidia... that is all.

Yes there was macro data: GDP second look improved, jobless claims shitshow due to MS fraud revisions, pending home sales disappointed, Kansas City Fed better than expected; and some Fed Speak (Boston's Collins sees a 'pause' - like everyone else), but really this was all about Jensen Huang (who's personal; wealth jumped over $8 billion today).

From the open, the day was all about one stock - NVDA, soaring 25% or so and adding just under $200 billion in market cap - that is 2 Intels! - and from the Oct 2022 lows, NVDA has added $665 billion in market cap...

Source: Bloomberg

That is the largest single-day market cap gain for any stock in US equity market history...

NVDA added more market cap today than the total market cap of 472 of 500 S&P companies, including:

  • Cisco (197.3BN)

  • Thermo Fisher ($197BN)

  • Accenture ($190BN)

  • AMD ($174BN)

  • T-Mobile ($168BN)

  • Adobe ($168BN)

  • Nike ($166BN)

  • Disney ($166BN)

  • Netflix ($162BN)

Bear in mind that it's unclear how many jobs AI will have to replace to make the "$1 trillion data center" investment viable but Goldman has estimated 300 million middle/upper class jobs in US/Europe will be made obsolete... but at least your pension will be higher before you face permanent ejection from the workforce.

But, as the following Advance/Decline line for the Nasdaq shows, NVDA was practically alone...

Source: Bloomberg

On the day, Nasdaq exploded higher (obviously), Small Caps lagged notably with The Dow unch and the S&P gaining helped by NVDA durr...

Notably 0-DTE traders were hell-bent on getting some upside traction going in the S&P with three big impulses during the day...

Source: SpotGamma

Small Caps suffered as banks were sold again ahead of tonight's Fed bailout data...

The equal-weight S&P 500 ended the day unch, while the cap-weight was up around 1%...

For some context with regard the concentration in markets, this is the seasonally worst relative performance of the equal-weight S&P to the cap-weight S&P in at least 30 years...

Source: Bloomberg

The divergence in performance today between Small Caps and Nasdaq was the largest since Nov 2020...

Source: Bloomberg

Treasuries were dumped hard today, because why make 4 or 5% risk-free when you can pile into a tech stock at 175x Trailing P/E? The short-end was clubbed like a baby seal relative to the long-end today (2Y +15bps, 30Y +1.5bps) and the 2Y is ugly on the week...

Source: Bloomberg

The 2Y Yield rose back above 4.50%, back ast its highest since the middle of the SVB bank collapse crisis...

Source: Bloomberg

The yield curve (2s10s) flattened significantly, to its most inverted since the SVB crisis lows...

Source: Bloomberg

As Nomura's Charlie McElligott noted earlier, the cross-market is real-time pricing-in debt deal optimism (@Punchbowl reporting “Rs expect the compromise will come together sometime in the next few days”) at the same time that the regional banks deposit-flight story remains (temporarily) quiet - which means that the “left tail” of the distribution being that  “~150bps – 250bps emergency cut” type of calamity scenario is seeing its market implied probability crater... all while “higher for longer” (even holding terminal through end of year) picks up Delta, with the debt-deal compromise being expected in the next few days, allowing the Fed to get back to the economic task at hand.

The market can then too price-in the now very-well socialized concerns with regard to the back half of year “liquidity drain” which is set to accelerate powerfully both in US and Europe, as outlined recently where again, the danger feeds into “higher interest rates” but this time, largely from the risk of

1) TGA rebuild / T-Bill “supply shock” / “reserve drain” which can then bleed-into a “crowding-out” across the risk-curve...

...especially when occurring in conjunction with

2) aforementioned “higher for longer” Fed,

3) QT,

4) ongoing Deposit flight into MMF / RRP as additional siphoning of Reserves,

5) consumer and corporate drawdown on remaining pandemic “excess savings,”

6) expiration of student loan moratorium, and

7) a monster European TLTRO repayment in Jun and 8) APP reinvestment cessation in July

And that is all very evident in the dramatically hawkish trend in STIRs...

Source: Bloomberg

The dollar rallied for the 9th day of the last 11 to its highest since 3/17/23 as flight cash continues...

Source: Bloomberg

Japanese Yen fell to 140/USD for the first time since 11/23/22...

Source: Bloomberg

Gold was puked back to two-month lows...

Oil tumbled after Russia poured cold water on OPEC+ production cut "ouchy" threat...

The "confusing triangle" continues its trilemma-y ways...

Source: Bloomberg

Finally, we note that the last time Nasdaq was this high relative to small caps was the peak of the dotcom bubble...

Source: Bloomberg

..probably nothing, right?

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 16:00
Published:5/25/2023 3:23:18 PM
[Markets] Strategist: How AI is reshaping the tech sector Schwab Asset Management CEO and CIO Omar Aguilar joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss how artificial intelligence will impact the tech sector, the outlook of tech companies refining their AI offers, investor sentiment amid U.S. credit downgrading, and expectations for the Fed's June meeting. Published:5/25/2023 2:59:55 PM
[Markets] Market Snapshot: Dow struggles for direction, S&P 500 and Nasdaq jump as debt-ceiling talks drag on The Dow briefly erases a 213-point floss Thursday, but was struggling for direction as the Nasdaq and S&P 500 jumped and U.S. debt-ceiling talks drag on in Congress. Published:5/25/2023 2:53:33 PM
[Markets] Debt ceiling: Market implications of U.S. credit downgrade Yahoo Finance senior columnist Rick Newman discusses the implications of credit agency Fitch putting the U.S. AAA credit rating on watch. Published:5/25/2023 2:34:49 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Dips, Other Indexes Rise Amid Debt Ceiling Hopes; Nvidia Rockets On AI Buzz, Eyes Exclusive Club The Dow Jones fell as a credit agency issued a debt ceiling warning. Nvidia stock rocketed amid more AI buzz, which helped boost Microsoft. A Ray Dalio stock is set to post earnings. Published:5/25/2023 2:28:48 PM
[Markets] Almost Two Thirds Of Americans View Media As "Truly The Enemy Of The People"; New Poll Finds Almost Two Thirds Of Americans View Media As "Truly The Enemy Of The People"; New Poll Finds

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

A new Rasmussen poll has found that almost two thirds of Americans believe the media is “truly the enemy of the people”.

The survey found that a total of 59 percent of likely voters either strongly or somewhat agree with the statement.

Among Republicans, the belief is even more prevalent at 77 percent. Only a slim majority of Democrats disagree.

The poll also noted that among Democrats there has been an 11 point drop in trust in the media.

Overall, a majority of 52 percent of Americans say they do not trust the political news they are getting from the establishment media.

The survey also found that 52 percent believe the media is bias towards Democrats.

This is yet another example of how Americans hold almost wholly opposite opinions to liberal corporate media narratives.

A new Harris-Harvard poll released earlier this week also demonstrated how despised the leftist media has become.

Poll Shows How Radically Different Americans’ Opinions Are From Liberal Corporate Media Narratives

*  *  *

Brand new merch now available! Get it at

In the age of mass Silicon Valley censorship It is crucial that we stay in touch. We need you to sign up for our free newsletter here. Support our sponsor – Turbo Force – a supercharged boost of clean energy without the comedown.

Also, we urgently need your financial support here.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 15:05
Published:5/25/2023 2:10:39 PM
[Markets] GLOBAL MARKETS-Equities gain, gold drops on progress in U.S. debt ceiling talks Progress on U.S. debt ceiling talks bolstered global equities and sent gold prices to a two-month low on Thursday, while forecast-smashing revenue from chipmaker Nvidia lifted the tech-heavy Nasdaq about 2%. Treasury yields were up and the U.S. dollar climbed to its highest level in over two months. U.S. President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy were edging close to an agreement on the U.S. debt ceiling, according to a person familiar with the talks. Published:5/25/2023 2:04:38 PM
[Markets] Illumina stockholders elect one of Icahn's candidates to board after proxy fight Illumina stockholders elect one of Icahn's candidates to board after proxy fight Published:5/25/2023 1:46:32 PM
[Markets] Icahn's IEP stock has now lost 63% since a critical short-seller report on May 2 Icahn's IEP stock has now lost 63% since a critical short-seller report on May 2 Published:5/25/2023 12:50:02 PM
[Markets] Iran Shows Off New Ballistic Missile Capable Of Hitting Israel With Large Payload Iran Shows Off New Ballistic Missile Capable Of Hitting Israel With Large Payload

Iran on Thursday showcased a new long-range ballistic missile at a moment tensions with Israel are at their highest in years. A Jerusalem Post headline on the same day reads, "Mounting tensions between Israel, Iran herald possible military showdown".

Iran's military touted that the Khoramshahr-4 missile can strike targets up to 2,000 kilometers, or 1,240 miles, away. It's also said to be capable of carrying a 1,500-kilogram (or 3,300-pound), warhead. This would make it the heaviest warhead among all of Iran's ballistic missiles. The military also released undated footage of what they said was a successful test launch of the new missile.

 Khoramshahr-4 missile test launch, Iranian Defense Ministry via AP.

“Our message to Iran’s enemies is that we will defend the country and its achievements. Our message to our friends is that we want to help regional stability,” Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said.

The test launch appears to be a direct challenge to Israel, given that while unveiling it at a press event the defense ministry had set up a miniature model of the Dome of the Rock on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, according to an Associated Press description. 

Both Iran and regional Arab states have recently expressed outrage at Israeli police crackdowns on Muslims at al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as security services allowing far-right Jewish groups to march through Jerusalem chanting "death to Arabs" . 

Against this backdrop and the recent conflict in Gaza, Israeli officials have this week warned the military could take "action" against Iran's advancing nuclear program:

“Iran has progressed in recent years with enriching uranium more than ever before,” he said. “We are looking closely at the various arenas that are part of the path to nuclear capabilities. There are negative potential trends on the horizon that could lead to [us] acting. We have the capabilities.”

Halevi further accused Iran of being involved in “everything around us and with everyone who is against us,” including strategy, intelligence, and funding. “We have the capability to strike Iran. We are not aloof to what Iran is trying to do around us. Iran also cannot be aloof to what we can do against it.”

As for the Khoramshahr-4 missile, the AP underscores that it is capable of hitting Israel while carrying a large payload.

"The Khorramshahr has the heaviest payload of Iran’s ballistic missile fleet, which analysts say may be designed to keep the weapon under a 2,000-kilometer range limit imposed by the country’s supreme leader. That puts most of the Mideast in range, but falls short of Western Europe," the report says.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 13:25
Published:5/25/2023 12:43:41 PM
[Markets] Debt Ceiling Debate: Why many people are getting irritated Yahoo Finance anchor Julie Hyman explained why she finds the debt ceiling debate so irritating while speaking with PunchBowl News Senior Congressional Reporter Andrew Desiderio. Published:5/25/2023 12:23:08 PM
[Markets] : Trans designer speaks out after Target pulls products: ‘I’ve had a lot of death threats’ Designer Erik Carnell says he has been inundated with hate and transphobia amid the backlash against Target's Pride products. Published:5/25/2023 12:11:19 PM
[Markets] Stocks Remain Mixed. AI Excites Investors. Stocks were mixed in midday trading Thursday as tech rallied on positive Nvidia results, but investors kept an eye on any updates regarding debt-ceiling negotiations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 112 points, or 0. Published:5/25/2023 12:05:36 PM
[Markets] How to invest amid debt ceiling default deadline Mitlin Financial Founder Lawrence Sprung joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss how to invest and plan for a debt ceiling crisis, the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, and how to enter the market during this time.  Published:5/25/2023 11:27:46 AM
[Markets] Debt ceiling: Recession talks and its impact on investors Yahoo Finance's Vera Gibbons joins the Live show to discuss recession talks as the debt ceiling deadline looms, as well as the impact on investors and the U.S. economy. Published:5/25/2023 11:21:57 AM
[Markets] Intel Stock Sinks as Nvidia Pops Intel stock was falling sharply Thursday as investors sold shares of the tech company amid competitive concerns as Nvidia reported [strong earnings]( Published:5/25/2023 11:03:11 AM
[Markets] Pfizer secures first full FDA approval for oral COVID-19 therapy Paxlovid Pfizer secures first full FDA approval for oral COVID-19 therapy Paxlovid Published:5/25/2023 10:57:20 AM
[Markets] Nvidia Spikes the Nasdaq Punch Bowl, But These 4 Indexes Have Weakened While the Nasdaq is spiking, largely due to the earnings results of one company, Nvidia , we continue to see the weight of the evidence as suggesting any buying should be done on a very selective basis as the markets await a resolution on the debt-ceiling drama. Several negative technical events were generated Wednesday on the charts of the major equity indexes, with multiple support levels being violated that weakened the near-term trends on four of the indexes. On the data front, it continues to send a generally neutral message except for the AAII Bear/Bull Ratio (contrarian indicator), which still shows a significant level of fear among investors. Published:5/25/2023 10:57:20 AM
[Markets] Stock ownership in U.S. hits highest level since 2008: Gallup Yahoo Finance columnist Kerry Hannon breaks down why stock ownership in the U.S. is hitting its highest level since 2008 according to a poll by Gallup. Published:5/25/2023 10:51:33 AM
[Markets] White House, Treasury respond to Fitch credit rating warning Yahoo Finance fiscal policy reporter Jennifer Schonberger breaks down comments by the White House and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen after Fitch Ratings put the U.S. credit ratings on negative watch. Published:5/25/2023 10:26:53 AM
[Markets] The Moneyist: My brother-in-law is being honored by a charity, but tickets for the ceremony cost $375. Shouldn’t he offer to pay for my ticket? "My brother-in-law is on the organization's board and was part of the team that set the ticket pricing." Published:5/25/2023 10:26:53 AM
[Markets] Market opportunities amid inflation, macroeconomic uncertainty BlackRock Global Fixed Income Chief Investment Officer Rick Rieder joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the state of the economy, the market's reaction to debt ceiling talks, and BlackRock's new ETF. Published:5/25/2023 10:08:58 AM
[Markets] Belarus agrees to deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons Belarus agrees to deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons Published:5/25/2023 9:55:44 AM
[Markets] Despite Glitchy Start, DeSantis' Twitter Spaces Launch Showed Why He's A Contender Despite Glitchy Start, DeSantis' Twitter Spaces Launch Showed Why He's A Contender

The Ron DeSantis 2024 presidential campaign got off to a terrible start on Wednesday night, as Twitter glitched under the weight of traffic (though admittedly once Musk transitioned the hosting role from his 140mm follower account to David Sacks's account, the discussion was flawless and fascinating.)

Slated to start at 6pm ET, what promised to be an edgy, modern launch -- using Twitter's interactive, live-audio "Spaces" feature - quickly turned into a painstaking embarrassment for both DeSantis and his host, Twitter owner Elon Musk.

Hundreds of thousands of people stared at this while DeSantis's launch was delayed for 30 minutes

Over a half-hour span, users were booted off the chat and others had to endure feedback noise and hot-mic whispering until the event finally got underway around 6:30, when DeSantis declared, “I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback.”

The Twitter audience wasn't the only one that was kept waiting, according to The New York Times:

The DeSantis campaign had invited prominent donors to Miami on Wednesday for a fund-raising event, hosting them at a conference space at the Four Seasons as the Twitter discussion was projected onto a large screen. Then they waited. And waited.

Trying to make lemonade out of lemons, the DeSantis campaign tweeted, "It seems we broke the internet with so much excitement. While you’re waiting, donate NOW.”  

Social media naturally had a field day, with the hashtag #DeSaster trending on Twitter well into the night. 

To fix the foul-up, the event was moved from Musk's Twitter account to that of tech investor and Musk associate David Sacks.

There's “just a massive number of people online, so the servers are straining somewhat,” said Musk during the early minutes.

"My account was breaking the system," he said later.  

While the audience initially slowed in terms of constant traffic, Musk retweeted a note showing that over 3 million people tuned in at some point to the discussion.

“Glitchy. Tech issues. Uncomfortable silences. A complete failure to launch. And that’s just the candidate!said Steven Cheung, a spokesman for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. The Biden campaign also tried to exploit the fiasco, tweeting "this link works" and pointing users to the Biden-Harris donation page. 

The Trump meme-team was on fire...

Putting a favorable spin on things, Sacks said, “We started with some technical issues because of the sheer scale and unprecedented nature of what we were doing. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and I think this finished really strong.”

Musk had an alternative view also...

In his remarks, DeSantis didn't say Trump's name, but did draw contrasts indirectly, such as when he said, "We must look forward, not backwards.” In the three most recent national GOP primary polls -- from Fox News, Quinnipiac and CNN -- Trump leads DeSantis by margins of 33%, 31% and 27% respectively. 

It's early, though, and DeSantis has a large campaign coffer, and had a very fruitful swing through Iowa earlier this month, racking up the endorsements of more than three dozen Republican state legislators -- which is more than a third of the total in the state. His endorsement tally there is already more than triple the highest count for any 2016 contender. Then again, the 2016 Iowa endorsement leader was Ted Cruz, and we know how things turned out for him. 

Mockery aside, DeSantis performance was strong as he laid out the reasons why he can win the Republican presidential nomination over Donald Trump because he’s broadly acceptable to Republicans, adding that he will then beat Joe Biden in the general election because he has the proven strength to appeal to independents.

“We are acceptable to the broad swath. It’s not like I’m taking policy positions that are alienating massive segments of Republicans. And so people are going to see somebody who’s got a proven record of success, who’s representing the values that the vast, vast majority of our party professes to hold.”

“I won 97 percent of Republicans in my reelection,” DeSantis said in a phone-in press conference with select news organizations, including The Epoch Times, on May 24, a few hours after declaring his candidacy on Twitter.

As Dan Berger writes at The Epoch Times, DeSantis made it clear that winning independents is essential, he said. He pointed to the examples of Georgia’s Brian Kemp and Iowa’s Kim Reynolds in their gubernatorial reelections.

“I think that there’s millions of people that want to move on from Biden. I think they’re ripe for us to be able to get,” DeSantis said.

“But I think you have got to have a vehicle that they’re comfortable with. And I think we’ve shown in Florida that we’re able to win voters who don’t always vote Republican. You know, you can’t win 60-40 with only Republicans.”

The GOP had a 2 percent edge in voter registration over Democrats going into the election in Florida, he said.

He said the party would need to be aggressive, including using ballot harvesting in states where it’s legal, such as Nevada, Pennsylvania, and possibly Wisconsin, which may legalize it once more. “We banned all that in Florida, but I don’t think you can say, ‘Don’t play the way they’re playing.'”

He acknowledged Trump’s high poll numbers.

“I would be shocked if the former president wasn’t leading. He had a hundred percent name ID, one of the most famous people in the world, and had been president of the United States,” DeSantis said.

But he said most Republicans haven’t yet focused on the race. And he noted that polls could be wrong, such as those that failed to predict his recent reelection victory by nearly 20 percentage points.

“We’re going into the race with more local endorsements in the early states than any candidate has ever had with even being an announced candidate,” he said, pointing to almost 200 endorsements he’d received from state legislators in New Hampshire, Iowa, and Florida, including most of those state’s Republican legislative leaders.

“We feel really good about that.”

Responding to another question, DeSantis contrasted his positions with those of Trump by noting particular issues where Trump has attacked him.

DeSantis said he voted against a Trump-backed bill to declare amnesty for 2 million illegal immigrants in return for “a pittance” in gains against illegal immigration.

“I oppose amnesty. That was supposed to be America First policy to oppose amnesty, and yet he endorsed and tried to ram through an amnesty.”

DeSantis said he voted against an omnibus spending bill that Trump signed. “Absolutely, I think he should not have signed those spending bills. He added almost 8 trillion dollars to the debt in a four-year period. I’m happy to be on the conservative side of that debate, because I think our debts have gone up way too much.”

And on one of Trump’s signature issues, building a border wall, DeSantis told The Epoch Times that he’d “make it a day one priority. I will use all the levers available to me to push that through.”

He reiterated how, after Hurricane Ian, he had the state takeover repair of two damaged island bridges predicted to take six months to fix. “We got one done in three days and the other done in two (more) weeks.”

“I can tell you that it was not anything anybody expected. And so it’s cutting through red tape. It’s telling people not to make excuses. And just getting the job done. You just have to be disciplined.”

Addressing the debt ceiling impasse, the governor said the problem is outcome of poor government policy during the COVID pandemic, including lockdowns and flushing “trillions of dollars down the drain.”

Finally, DeSantis made it clear he is a crypto (freedom) advocate.

“As president, we’ll protect the ability to do things like Bitcoin,” said DeSantis. He added “there’s risks involved with it,” but the people interested in the cryptocurrency “are sophisticated” and “can make decisions.”

“You have every right to do Bitcoin. The only reason these people in Washington don’t like it, is because they don’t control it.”

DeSantis called those on Capitol Hill “central planners” who “want to have control over society.”

"Bitcoin represents a threat to them, so they’re trying to regulate it out of existence,” he said.

Of course, all that policy prognostication was lost to the mainstream media who focused almost 100% on the glitches and not the substance.

And the mainstream media refuse to get the joke...

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 10:45
Published:5/25/2023 9:49:39 AM
[Markets] Economic Report: U.S. jobless claims fall back to 229,000 after fraudulent filings are erased The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits before Memorial Day totaled just 229,000, reflecting efforts by Massachusetts to weed out fraud. Published:5/25/2023 9:19:21 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Falls After Surprise Drop In Jobless Claims; Nvidia Soars 25% On AI Chip Demand The Dow Jones fell Thursday after a surprise drop in jobless claims. Nvidia soared 25% on "surging demand" for AI chips. Published:5/25/2023 9:06:49 AM
[Markets] Nvidia shares rocket nearly 25% after Thursday’s opening bell Nvidia shares rocket nearly 25% after Thursday’s opening bell Published:5/25/2023 9:01:04 AM
[Markets] Debt ceiling: Fitch puts U.S. ratings on negative watch PunchBowl News Senior Congressional Reporter Andrew Desiderio joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the credit risks being associated with the debt ceiling situation as talks between President Biden and lawmakers linger closer to the default date. Published:5/25/2023 9:01:04 AM
[Markets] Stocks Open Mixed as Tech Jumps and Debt-Ceiling Negotiations Continue Stocks opened mixed Thursday as investors awaited a deal on the debt ceiling, but tech stocks jumped following Nvidia’s earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 88 points, or 0.3%. The S&P 500 gained 0. Published:5/25/2023 8:49:13 AM
[Markets] Debt Talks Remain Stalled With X-Date Fast Approaching Debt Talks Remain Stalled With X-Date Fast Approaching

With the dreaded "X-Date" fast approaching, House Republicans and the White House remain at an impasse over how to raise the debt ceiling.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Republicans are telegraphing compromise - with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) saying on Thursday that 'not everyone will be happy with the debt deal,' but that he expects a compromise will emerge sometime in the next few days. According to Punchbowl News, GOP leadership feels confident they can win the support of the majority of the House Republican Conference for the eventual package.

Piper Sandler's Donald Schneider is projecting a new X-Date, with the Treasury having as little as $10 billion on hand by June 2 and $2 billion by June 9. For reference, Treasury typically never goes below $25 billion on hand, "especially with 0 extraordinary measures left, as would be the case in early June."

That said, this can all blow up this afternoon as "there could be another dozen twists and turns between now and the announcement of any agreement. The last yard is always the toughest one," according to Punchbowl.

The House Democratic Caucus is livid over the state of negotiations, with many rank-and-file Democrats feeling that they're about to be asked to vote on a package that will satisfy Republican demands, while getting very little of what they want in return.

"I think time is starting to run out," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), adding "I think Wall Street should be weighing in."

The White House — especially President Joe Biden — will have a lot of work to do to get this across the finish line. Just ask the House Democratic leadership, which has been fielding many of the complaints from members. One senior House Democratic aide suggested that Biden must try to sell lawmakers on the package by saying he — and the country — need to put the debt-limit mess behind them.

This will be a big test for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Minority Whip Katherine Clark. They’ll have to deliver dozens of Democratic votes for Biden on a deal that benefits the president’s reelection campaign perhaps more than anyone else. -Punchbowl

Several Democrats have told the outlet that they question the leadership at the White House in terms of how the entire negotiation has been handled.

Republicans are hitting back. Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL) said this week that his conservative colleagues "don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage," adding "the one-person motion to vacate has given us the best version of Speaker McCarthy."

Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) says that a debt-limit deal without substantial spending reforms will "not face smooth sailing in the Senate."

"I will use every procedural tool at my disposal to impede a debt-ceiling deal that doesn’t contain substantial spending and budgetary reforms. I fear things are moving in that direction," Lee tweeted, which Rep. Chip Roy amplified.

Meanwhile, treasuries are reacting to the constant cries of progress (despite their likely walkback in a few hours), with a bear-flattening move extending as 2-year yields rise as much as 13bp on the day, topping 4.5%, after GOP Chairman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs Michael McCaul declaring that a deal is 'close,' and they are down to the details now.

  • Futures volumes surge into the move with around 60,000 10-year note contracts trading over 3-minute window as the futures hit session lows at 112-22; US 10-year yields around 3.785%, remain cheaper on the day by 4.5bp
  • Front-end of the curve leads days losses with 2-year yields trading around 4.50% — 2s10s spread flatter by 7bp on the day
  • Fed-dated OIS bid in early session with around 14bp of rate hike premium priced into the June policy meeting, up from 12bp Wednesday close and a combined 27bp priced for June and July meetings combined -Bloomberg

To expedite the issue once an agreement is reached, McCarthy refuses to waive a rule that allows members 72 hours to review the text of the agreement. As Punchbowl surmises, it's possible that a deal won't emerge until next weekend, June 3-4. After that, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will need to scramble to get any package to the floor before a default.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 09:30
Published:5/25/2023 8:41:53 AM
[Markets] Nvidia, U.S. credit ratings, Best Buy earnings: Top stories Yahoo Finance Live anchor Julie Hyman highlights today's top stories including Nvidia stock rising on AI boom, Fitch placing the U.S. on ratings watch negative, and Best Buy sales missing the mark. Published:5/25/2023 8:34:57 AM
[Markets] Mass. fraud addressed as latest week brings fewer jobless claims than forecast Mass. fraud addressed as latest week brings fewer jobless claims than forecast Published:5/25/2023 8:03:57 AM
[Markets] Initial Jobless Claims Rise After Massachusetts Fraud Revisions Initial Jobless Claims Rise After Massachusetts Fraud Revisions

Initial jobless claims 'confused' last week, printing 229k (well below the 245k exp and the 242k prior). BUT, and it's a big but, Massachusetts - after admitting to widespread fraud - has revised its last three months jobless claims data lower by an average of 14k per week.

The result is that claims actually ROSE last week from a revised lower 225k to 229k...

Source: Bloomberg

The last two weeks saw the headline claims revised down 50k jobs (-33k and -17k respectively)

We note that for the second week in a row, MA saw a big decline in claims...

Additionally, Continuing claims continued to trend back below 1.8mm.

Once again, can we really trust this data?

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 08:40
Published:5/25/2023 7:49:01 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall After Surprise Drop In Jobless Claims; Nvidia Soars 28% On AI Chip Demand Dow Jones futures fell Thursday after a surprise drop in jobless claims and GDP data. Nvidia soared 28% on "surging demand" for AI chips. Published:5/25/2023 7:42:36 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall Ahead Of Jobless Claims, GDP; Nvidia Soars 28% On AI Chip Demand Dow Jones futures fell Thursday ahead of jobless claims and GDP data. Nvidia soared 28% on "surging demand" for AI chips. Published:5/25/2023 7:36:56 AM
[Markets] Earnings Results: Elf Beauty stock rallies 11% after company’s sales jump nearly 80% Shares of Elf Beauty Inc. rose as much as 11% in the aftermarket Wednesday after the cosmetics company reported roaring quarterly sales and earnings that were well above Wall Street expectations, and raised its guidance for the year. Published:5/25/2023 7:07:00 AM
[Markets] Nasdaq futures surge as Nvidia soars: Stock market news today Stocks were mixed on Thursday morning as Nvidia led a tech rally despite debt ceiling concerns hanging over broader markets. Published:5/25/2023 7:00:39 AM
[Markets] Growing List Of Countries 'Ready' To Join F-16s For Ukraine Program Growing List Of Countries 'Ready' To Join F-16s For Ukraine Program

Norway and Poland are the latest among an expanding list of NATO countries who say they are ready to begin training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, after US President Joe Biden announced approval to allow the Europeans to provide Western fighters at last week's Group of Seven summit in Japan. It marked a reversal of policy after months of internal administration debate.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said this week that training has already begun in several countries, and Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak followed by saying Warsaw stands "ready". 

AP file image

"We’re ready. The Polish side is ready to train pilots on F-16 aircraft. Such training has not yet begun," Blaszczak said according to AFP.

Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren has made similar comments, naming a growing list of countries poised to join the training efforts: 

"It is a co-effort with Denmark, Belgium, UK, and other allies, so a coordinated effort. But we will speed up now that we know that we have the green light," Ollongren said.

And while Norway has yet to decide whether it will provide any of its own F-16s to Ukraine, its Defense Minister Bjoern Arild Gram announced Wednesday it too will support the training program.

"The government backs this initiative and is considering how Norway can contribute together with allies and partners," Gram said.

The Norwegian government has not decided whether Norway will give any of its F-16 jets to Ukraine, the minister separately told public broadcaster NRK.

Russia has meanwhile warned of the "colossal risks" that this move could bring Moscow and the West into direct war. However, it could take over a year or two for the F-16 jets to actually become operational inside Ukraine. Western leaders, including Biden, have brushed off the Kremlins warnings.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Wednesday that his country will 'win' the war with Western fighter jets. He said in his nightly video address: "The very first Ukrainian F-16 will be one of the strongest signals from the world that Russia will only lose because of its aggression. It will be weaker and further isolated."

"The main thing is the speed in training and in supply – meaning the time between decisions in real protection for our skies," he added. But again, it's likely to be a long time before Kiev actually gets its first F-16, and a lot could happen before then.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 07:45
Published:5/25/2023 6:48:16 AM
[Markets] Need to Know: Why Nvidia and other ‘picks and shovels’ of tech will stay solid bets, say these veteran investors This tech fund's managers say investors have plenty of reason to stick to tech, but investors want to choose carefully, and Tesla is not on their list. Published:5/25/2023 6:16:33 AM
[Markets] Work Advice: Can my employer force me to take a personality test? Not everyone finds them useful or insightful, but personality assessments can help colleagues understand themselves and each other. Published:5/25/2023 6:09:46 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall, But Techs Jump: Nvidia Surges On Earnings, Guidance. AI Stocks Rally Indexes fell again Wednesday amid ongoing debt-ceiling talks. Nvidia surged late on earnings. Other AI plays rose late. Published:5/25/2023 5:25:59 AM
[Markets] Mixed start looks on tap for U.S. stocks after Fitch warning, Nvidia results Mixed start looks on tap for U.S. stocks after Fitch warning, Nvidia results Published:5/25/2023 5:14:21 AM
[Markets] The debt ceiling deadline is approaching fast, but talks are still slow Negotiations between the White House and congressional Republicans have yet to find a certain path to avoiding default Published:5/25/2023 5:07:23 AM
[Markets] Major Disruption Hits Top South African Container Port As Economic Crisis Worsens Major Disruption Hits Top South African Container Port As Economic Crisis Worsens

The economic crisis in South Africa worsened this year, with rolling power blackouts contributing to much of the problem. This week, the situation was exacerbated when organized crime gangs targeted the rail infrastructure connecting the nation's wealthiest province with a top container port, causing widespread disruptions in trade. Taking all these factors into account, the African National Congress, a social-democratic political party in the country, warned that the country could become a "failed state." 

The ongoing power blackout story in South Africa is nothing new for readers (read: South Africans Without Electricity For Nine Hours A Day Amid "Ginormous" Blackouts). But the economic crisis worsened again this week for another reason: "theft, vandalism, and rail damage" by gangs that left a 428-mile rail line from the Port of Durban to Gauteng province operating at just 25% capacity, according to Bloomberg

"For the past week, there have been a total of 39 security-related incidents targeting critical areas on the mainline resulting in the closure of the line," Transnet SOC Ltd., the state-owned entity that runs the line, said in a letter to customers seen by Bloomberg. 

Armed gangs are attacking South Africa's state-owned infrastructure, disrupting electricity-generating plants to freight-rail lines. If the container-rail line between Durban and Gauteng isn't resolved promptly, this might dent trade with other nations. The security incidents might force some companies to do business elsewhere. 

Transnet said at least 58 trains are stuck on the rail line or in staging yards due to disruptions. The rail company said some vandalized equipment had been repaired or replaced, but reopening the line fully appears to be a monumental task. 

That may be why African National Congress secretary general Fikile Mbalula warned power cuts and chaos are contributing to a major crisis. 

"If certain things are not resolved, we will become a failed state, but we are not journeying towards that direction," Mbalula warned in an interview with BBC HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur.

The economic crisis has sent the official unemployment rate in the country to 33%, the highest in the world. A resolution to the chaos is nowhere in sight. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 05:45
Published:5/25/2023 5:01:32 AM
[Markets] Stocks Mixed, Nvidia Soars, Costco Earnings Up Next, Best Buy In Focus, Fitch Rating Warning - 5 Things To Know Stock futures mixed as ai boosts tech, debt worries clip Dow; Nvidia shares soar as AI powers blowout earnings, outlook; Costco earnings on deck as April sales show modest rebound; Best Buy earnings in focus as retailer shifts focus online and Fitch puts U.S. credit rating on notice as debt ceiling deadline looms. Published:5/25/2023 4:55:45 AM
[Markets] Not just Nvidia: Here's estimated revenue from AI this year Not just Nvidia: Here's estimated revenue from AI this year Published:5/25/2023 4:28:53 AM
[Markets] This Investment Strategy Has Been Foolproof Since 1900 -- 104 for 104 -- and It's the Closest Thing to a Wall Street Guarantee In 2021, the iconic Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI), broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC), and innovation-driven Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC), set multiple all-time closing highs and benefited immensely from an abundance of cheap capital tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. The end result was the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq Composite all dipping into a bear market and producing their worst annual returns since 2008. The velocity of downside moves that accompanies bear markets has a lot of investors rightly wondering when the volatility will slow and a new bull market will emerge. Published:5/25/2023 4:15:15 AM
[Markets] America's Largest Aircraft Carrier Docks In Norway For Joint Drills America's Largest Aircraft Carrier Docks In Norway For Joint Drills

The US and its NATO partner Norway mounted a show of force aimed at Russia in the North Sea this week, by sailing America's largest aircraft carrier (and also the world's largest)--the USS Gerald R Ford--through the waters where it arrived in Oslo on Wednesday. The allies are expected to conduct naval drills this week.

The nuclear-powered ship entering Oslo's port was a major event, and broadcast live on Norwegian public television, with large crowds gathering to view the spectacle. It was only in May that the US Navy announced it departed Norfolk for its "first combat deployment."

NTB Scanpix via AP: Gerald R. Ford moves up the Oslofjord in Norway on May 24. The carrier will be in port in Oslo for 4 days.

The Norwegian armed forces called the drills "a unique opportunity to further develop cooperation and work more closely with our most important ally, the United States."

Norwegian Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram also said, "The fact that a new aircraft carrier is now making its first visit to Norwegian waters is very positive for our cooperation with the Americans."

The country's prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, previewed that a stern reaction is expected from Russia. "I don’t know, but now we have teased (Russian President Vladimir) Putin even more. It’s scary, I think," she told a Norwegian broadcaster.

But the prime minister also vowed that Oslo is "continuing the line we have had in recent years of wanting allied exercises in Norwegian waters."

The Russian Embassy in the country blasted the "illogical... demonstrations of power" in response, which are "harmful." The statement from the Russian side said

"There are no issues in the North that require a military solution, nor issues that require outside intervention," Russian Embassy spokesman Timur Chekanov told AFP by email.

"Considering that Oslo admits that Russia poses no direct military threat to Norway, such shows of force seem illogical and harmful," he added.

Regional tensions with Russia among Scandinavian states have risen due to Finland's recently being accepted into formal NATO membership. Sweden has also applied for membership but this has been held up by Turkey.

While the USS Gerald R Ford is off Norway's coast, with about 2,600 naval personnel aboard, boats have been ordered to say a half-mile away from the carrier, and a no-fly zone has been established over the whole area.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 04:15
Published:5/25/2023 4:02:40 AM
[Markets] FTSE and European markets lower as US default risk grows FTSE 100 extended losses on Thursday as investors were anxious about further monetary tightening by the Bank of England. Published:5/25/2023 2:58:28 AM
[Markets] Cineworld says proposed restructuring has the backing of almost all lenders Cineworld says proposed restructuring has the backing of almost all lenders Published:5/25/2023 2:36:11 AM
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