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[Markets] Rare Solar Superstorm Could Prompt ‘Internet Apocalypse’ Lasting Several Months: Study Rare Solar Superstorm Could Prompt ‘Internet Apocalypse’ Lasting Several Months: Study

Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The “black swan” event of a solar superstorm directed at earth could prompt an “internet apocalypse” across the entire globe that could last for several months, new research (pdf) has warned.

University of California Irvine assistant professor Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi presented the new research, titled “Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse,” last month during the Association for Computing Machinery’s annual conference for their Special Interest Group on Data Communication (SIGCOMM).

“One of the greatest dangers facing the internet with the potential for global impact is a powerful solar superstorm,” Jyothi wrote in the new research paper.

“Although humans are protected from these storms by the earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere, they can cause significant damage to man-made infrastructure. The scientific community is generally aware of this threat with modeling efforts and precautionary measures being taken, particularly in the context of power grids. However, the networking community has largely overlooked this risk during the design of the network topology and geo-distributed systems such as DNS and data centers,” he continued.

A solar storm, also known as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), occurs when a large mass of plasma and highly magnetized particles violently eject from the sun. Large CME’s can contain up to a billion tons of matter and can get accelerated to large fractions of the speed of light.

When the earth is in the direct path of a CME, these magnetized and charged solar particles interact with the earth’s magnetic field, producing geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) that can potentially disrupt communication satellites and long-distance cables that provide the world with the internet.

According to Jyothi’s research, power grids, oil and gas pipelines, and networking cables are the most vulnerable to the impacts of GIC’s, while submarine cables, which span hundreds or thousands of kilometres, are even more vulnerable than land cables, due to their larger lengths.

Owing to a lack of real world data on the impacts of GIC’s on these submarine cables, scientists still don’t know how long it would take to repair them if such an event were to occur, and—just like natural disasters such as earthquakes—CME’s are extremely difficult for scientists to predict.

The research noted that the “distribution of internet infrastructure is skewed when compared to the distribution of internet users,” and high-latitude climates are more at risk if a solar storm were to occur.

Artist’s rendering of a solar storm hitting Mars and stripping ions from the planet’s upper atmosphere. (NASA)
Cables on servers at an internet data center in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on July 25, 2018. (Yann Sschreiber/AFP/Getty Images)

“The U.S. is one of the most vulnerable locations with a high risk of disconnection from Europe during extreme solar events. Intra-continental connections in Europe are at a lower risk due to the presence of a large number of shorter land and submarine cables interconnecting the continent,” the report notes.

Meanwhile, if a severe solar superstorm were to occur, Singapore would maintain good connectivity to neighboring countries, while cities in China would be more likely to lose connectivity than India because China connects to much longer cables.

Australia, New Zealand, and other island countries in the region would be at high risk of losing most of their long-distance connections.

The research warns that a collapse of the internet—even one lasting a few minutes—could cause devastating losses to service providers and damage cyber-physical systems. The economic impact of an internet disruption for a day in the United States is estimated to be over $7 billion.

While the likelihood of a solar superstorm hitting earth is rare—with astrophysicists noting that the probability of extreme space weather events that directly impact earth occurring are between 1.6 percent to 12 percent per decade—they can still happen.

In 1921, a solar storm, driven by a series of coronal mass ejections, triggered extensive power outages and caused damage to telephone and telegraph systems associated with railroad systems in New York City and across the state.

Years later, in 1989, a solar storm bought an electrical power blackout to the entire province of Quebec, Canada.

“Although we have sentinel spacecraft that can issue early warnings of CMEs providing at least 13 hours of lead time, our defenses against GIC are limited. Hence, we need to prepare the infrastructure for an eventual catastrophe to facilitate efficient disaster management,” Jyothi said.

The research pointed to “increasing capacity in lower latitudes for improved resiliency during solar storms,” and having “mechanisms for electrically isolating cables connecting to higher latitudes from the rest” at submarine cable landing points to prevent large-scale failures.

The paper has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/25/2021 - 22:00
Published:9/25/2021 9:16:31 PM
[Quick Takes] NASA Discovers Evidence of Ancient “Super Eruptions” on Mars

Scientists find evidence that northern Mars experienced thousands of massive eruptions.

The post NASA Discovers Evidence of Ancient “Super Eruptions” on Mars first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:9/17/2021 1:29:38 PM
[Markets] "Rules Are For Other People": Amazon's Kuiper Systems Slams Musk's SpaceX In Regulatory Filing "Rules Are For Other People": Amazon's Kuiper Systems Slams Musk's SpaceX In Regulatory Filing

The space race is back on. Except this time, it's the United States versus the United States and the profit motive is helping drive the competition. 

Amazon's satellite subsidiary Kuiper Systems took a swipe at rival SpaceX in a regulatory filing with US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week.

"Whether it is launching satellites with unlicensed antennas, launching rockets without approval, building an unapproved launch tower, or re-opening a factory in violation of a shelter-in-place order, the conduct of SpaceX and other Musk-led companies makes their view plain: rules are for other people, and those who insist upon or even simply request compliance are deserving of derision and ad hominem attacks,” Kuiper said in a regulatory filing, pointing out the propensity for Musk-led companies to play by their own rules.

Musk and Bezos have been locked in competition since they were both vying for the same $2.9 billion lunar lander contract from NASA. The contract eventually went to Musk's SpaceX, who then poached members of Blue Origin to work on its team. 

Blue Origin, saw "at least" 17 of its top staffers defect from the company, we wrote last month. One employee, a lead engineer, left to take a job at SpaceX, according to reporting by Insider. Another employee wound up at Firefly Aerospace.

CNBC then followed up, noting that "many other engineers and key leaders" also left Blue Origin and that some of them were part of the team that tried to land the lunar contract. Blue Origin had appealed not getting the contract back in April, but the appeal was rejected by the Government Accountability Office in July. 

The "friendly competition" between Bezos and Musk looks to be accelerating on other fronts, too. We noted just days ago that Bezos has been an investor in Altos Labs, described as "a Silicon Valley startup working on technology to rejuvenate cells and potentially prolong life."

The project could be seen as competition to Musk's Neuralink. It plans on implementing reprogramming technology, used to turn adult, specialized cells into stem cells, to treat vision loss, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and other age-related bodily degeneration.

After the news broke, Musk couldn't help but take a parting jab at Bezos:

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/10/2021 - 13:40
Published:9/10/2021 12:56:52 PM
[Middle Column] ‘Raw authoritarian power’: Morano on Newsmax TV – Covid lockdowns & vaccine passports are transforming USA into Chinese-style one-party state

File:Flag Map of USA China.png - Wikimedia Commons

Morano: "For decades the progressive movement has tried to impose and sought a one-party state in America. Climate activists from Tom Friedman on the pages of the New York Times extolled the virtues of China's one-party system. UN climate chiefs talked about a centralized transformation and praised china for getting it right on climate. So what happened was they spent decades trying to scare us about overpopulation, global cooling, the amazon rainforest (allegedly disappearing), and finally, climate change, and they failed. A virus comes along and they realized that this cut across ideologies, cut across political affiliation and they were able to declare an emergency and suspend normal democracy. They were able to achieve their one-party state with an unelected bureaucracy."

Published:9/10/2021 11:30:13 AM
[Markets] International Space Station Alarms Triggered After "Burning Plastic Smell" International Space Station Alarms Triggered After "Burning Plastic Smell"

Less than one week after Russian cosmonauts discovered small cracks on the aging International Space Station (ISS), smoke alarms were triggered on the station in the early hours of Thursday, according to AP. Crew members reported dark smoke and the smell of burnt plastic coming from the Russian segment of the space station. 

Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, said the incident unfolded at 0155 ET in the Russian-built Zvezda module during an overnight recharge of the station's batteries. 

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said, "the smell of burning plastic or electronic equipment" made its way through the station into the US segment, RIA Novosti reported, citing a NASA broadcast.

Pesquet and other crew members turned on air filters to scrub the station's air of smoke/smell. There was no word on how much smoke was emitted, but reports indicate astronauts went back to sleep after air quality levels returned to normal. 

It appears that whatever was burning didn't affect operations on the station. Hours later, a planned spacewalk was conducted by cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy who fished an "ethernet" data cord around the outside of the multipurpose laboratory module of the space station. 

The aging space station has suffered numerous failures, including air leaks, cracks, and misfiring engines. Russia said in April that it would leave the station in 2025, citing structural fatigue that could suggest it may not be capable of operating beyond 2030. 

Meanwhile, the Chinese have launched a new space station that is expected to outlast the ISS. 

The smoke incident comes a week after "superficial fissures have been found in some places on the Zarya module," according to Vladimir Solovyov, the chief engineer of Moscow-based company Energia, the top contractor for Russia's spaceflight program.  

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/09/2021 - 22:20
Published:9/9/2021 9:30:31 PM
[Markets] "This Is Bad" - Russian Cosmonauts Discovery Tiny Cracks In Space Station "This Is Bad" - Russian Cosmonauts Discovery Tiny Cracks In Space Station

Russian cosmonauts have discovered small cracks on the International Space Station (ISS), and it's unclear whether the cracks are causing air leaks in the orbiting space lab, according to Reuters

Vladimir Solovyov, the chief engineer of Moscow-based company Energia, the top contractor for Russia's spaceflight program, told Russia's state-owned RIA news agency that "superficial fissures have been found in some places on the Zarya module." 

Solovyov warned: "This is bad and suggests that the fissures will begin to spread over time."

He didn't mention if the cracks were the source of air leaks which Russian cosmonauts discovered.

The 23-year old space station has been fraught with problems. NASA and the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos searched for a small air leak last year when air pressure dropped in the space station.  

Readers may recall, in 2018, the station experienced an air leak that was initially thought to be the result of a micrometeorite - but turned out to be a "deliberate sabotage." 

Several other recent incidents have been reported on the space station, such as a software glitch that ignited thrusters on the Russian research module Nauka and sent the ISS out of normal pitch. There was also a piece of space junk that sliced through a robotic arm

Meanwhile, Moscow has given their farewell warning that it will depart from the ISS in 2025. Russian officials have said the aging ISS is too dangerous for their cosmonauts: 

"We can't risk the lives [of our cosmonauts]. The situation that today is connected to the structure and the metal getting old, it can lead to irreversible consequences - to catastrophe," Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov recently said.  

At the same time, China has launched a new space station that is expected to outlast the ISS. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/04/2021 - 09:55
Published:9/4/2021 9:20:31 AM
[Aerospace] Pandemic-driven liquid oxygen shortage threatens ULA, SpaceX launches The ongoing reverberations from the COVID-19 pandemic are continuing to make themselves felt in the most unlikely of places: spaceflight. On Friday, NASA took the unexpected step to ground a September satellite launch due to pandemic-related shortages of liquid oxygen (LOX), and there may be more launch delays yet to come. Demand for oxygen has […] Published:8/31/2021 10:14:00 AM
[Markets] Rabobank On The Market's Response To Everything: "Where Is This Month's QE?" Rabobank On The Market's Response To Everything: "Where Is This Month's QE?"

By Michael Every of Rabobank

Sorted Out for QEs and Biz

Equities and bond yields swung on little news yesterday: if you checked in early things were going up; a few hours later they crashed; and then they decided to take off. US 10-year yields dropped as low 1.13% before closing at 1.22% - on not much data and much more Delta. Equity markets love their highs, but really can’t handle it when they have to come down: it’s easier just to try to stay high – and that’s a theme we see all over.

Jeff Bezos went into Spaaaaace in an appropriately priapic rocket, at an apparent cost of $5.5bn, prompting former presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard to tweet: “Bezos, please stay up there. Do the world a favor”. NASA’s chief also stressed there is a new Cold War Space Race, and “If we’re going to get on the moon before the Chinese do, we’re going to have to have some more money.” Timely public-sector lobbying given $3.5 trillion is in play? Or US national security taking a backseat to billionaire ego (again)? Market response: “Where is this month’s QE?”

Angela Merkel got Nord Stream 2 – but also a reported US side “deal” that would mean Germany taking “unspecified national action” against Russia if the latter uses energy as a weapon against Ukraine. Yet the Atlantic Council argues under the 2009 EU Gas Directive NS2 supply must be unbundled; and Article 36 only allows exemption if NS2 increases competition, enhances security, and is not be detrimental to competition or the effective functioning of EU gas supply. As such: “Even if a German regulator gives way to Russian interests and greenlights the pipeline into full operation, the Commission—as the Guardian of the Treaties—will have no choice but to resist, backed up by many member states and ultimately supported by the EU Court of Justice.” What a Debbie Downer on Angie’s Energy Upper. Market response: “Where is this month’s QE?”

Likewise, Treasury Secretary Yellen has stated stablecoins will be regulated “quickly”; and the EU is proposing to ban anonymous crypto transactions, as well as cash transactions over EUR10,000. Bitcoin remains just below $30,000, but looks to be in a politically-decaying orbit. And can you smell the CBDCs coming? The Financial Times is pushing them today, and ahead of the game --as it is for the moon?-- China is pressing ahead with eCNY for the Beijing Olympics: which a smattering of US Senators are saying they don’t want US athletes to use for national security reasons - while US billionaires are silent. Market response: “Where is this month’s QE – and what do I put it in if not crypto?”

China’s largest property developer, Evergrande, is certainly looking down – which matters even after the Anbang, HNA, Huarong, Ant, and Didi heuristics. Property/construction *is* the Chinese economy, and its largest store of household wealth; yet the firm has a vast level of debt; and a massive chain of counter-parties/suppliers; and is trading as if it is going to crash – which some believe would be China’s Lehman moment if it were to happen. Hence in the eyes of most on the ground, it won’t: but what isn’t clear is who will then be paying, and how? Then again, that’s the question almost everywhere, isn’t it? Market response: “Where is this month’s QE?”

Which is a segue to another attack on the “dangerous addiction” to QE from a former governor of the Bank of England – even as we all know what will happen when we don’t have it. Which is not an argument *for* QE, to be completely clear.

Given it is the height of summer, and would have been festival season pre-Covid, my mind turned to Pulp today thinking about this key topic – the British band that is. Their ‘Common People’ is almost a second national anthem – and more so when Tulsi Gabbard also tweeted: “As the billionaires/power elite look down upon our planet they believe they own from their heavenly perch, regular folk struggle to pay the rent and put food on the table. Never has the divide between the elite and the rest of us been so stark.” Moreover, frontman Jarvis Cocker lives in legend for his anti-establishment stage-crashing response to Michael Jackson’s messianic performance at the 1996 Brit Awards. So please take the B-side lyrics to that famous Pulp single below as an equivalently-toned, liquidity-and-coming-down-related retort - presenting “Sorted Out for QEs and Biz”:

“Oh, is this the way they say the future's meant to feel? Or just twenty thousand new penthouses near Spitalfields?

And I don't quite understand just what this feeling is; But that's okay 'cause we're all sorted out for QEs and biz;

And tell me when the green-ship lands 'cause all this has just got to mean something-ing;

Oh, in the middle of the ‘fight’; It feels delightful, but then tomorrow morning; Oh, oh, then you come down, oh

Oh yeah, the pirate video told us what was going down; as did the warnings from some upright bloke in London Town

Oh, and no-one seems to know exactly where the end is; But that's okay 'cause we're all sorted out for QEs and biz;

A four percent normal world seems very, very, very far away; All right, in the middle of the ‘fight’; It feels alright, but then tomorrow morning; Oh, oh, then you come down, oh

Just keep on juicing!

Everybody asks your game; They say we're all the same and now it's; "Nice one," "Green-er"; But that's as far as the Build Back Better went

I lost my friends; I QE’d alone; It's more than six years in; I want to go ‘home’; But it's "No way," "Not today"; Makes you wonder what it meant

And this hollow feeling grows and grows and grows and grows; And you want to call your mother; And say "Mother, I can never afford a home again; ‘Cause QE seems to have left an important part of our brains somewhere; Somewhere in a field in Hampshire, all right"

In the middle of the night; It feels alright, but then tomorrow morning; Oh, oh, then you come down; Oh, oh, then you come down

Oh, what if you never come down?  

Tyler Durden Wed, 07/21/2021 - 09:30
Published:7/21/2021 8:35:24 AM
[] 'Flesh Gordon': Jeff Bezos' rocket reminds people of a male body part Published:7/20/2021 10:54:58 AM
[] North Korea Faces Another Terrible and Totally Avoidable Famine Published:7/12/2021 9:30:50 PM
[Startups] Whisper Aero emerges from stealth to quiet drones and air taxis The skies are on the cusp of getting busier — and louder — as drone delivery and electric vertical take-off and landing passenger aircraft startups move from moonshot to commercialization. One former NASA engineer and ex-director of Uber’s air taxi division is developing tech to ensure that more air traffic doesn’t equal more noise. Mark […] Published:7/12/2021 9:00:38 PM
[Markets] What If An Alien Probe Visited Earth? What If An Alien Probe Visited Earth?

Authored by Ross Pomeroy via RealClearScioence.com,

Popular media portrayals of extraterrestrials visiting Earth have tended to display the dramatic: giant spaceraft, killer robots, and nefarious aliens. A more realistic scenario is decidedly more mundane, but still undeniably world-shattering: a single, robotic probe, visiting Earth in orbit or landing as a rover.

Back in 1998, Allen Tough, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto and an expert in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) before his death in 2012, postulated that there might be alien civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy with the ability to send out hundreds of small, intelligent probes to explore space. His supposition was reasonable. Today, well-funded collaborations like Breakthrough Starshot here on Earth are now actively working toward such an endeavor.

So what if Tough was right, and tens, hundreds, or even thousands of years ago, a far-off alien civilization dispatched dozens of robotic scouts out into the cosmos and one such rover eventually cruised its way to Earth?

What should be humanity's response?

The first step, according to Tough, would be to confirm that the craft really isn't from Earth, perhaps from a secretive government. A smart, skeptical team, ideally composed of scientists from various countries, would need to be recruited to examine the probe. If it's on land, the rover should probably be quarantined at the area it touched down. If it's in space, a robotic or a crewed mission would undoubtedly be required for an up-close look.

Once the probe's authenticity is confirmed, Tough stresses that the finding should be made public worldwide, with all collected data openly shared.

What to do next depends upon the nature of the probe.

According to SETI Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak, we'd want to find out if it's broadcasting any radio signals out into space, and probably block them at least temporarily. Such signals, especially if they are unidirectional, would likely be attempts to communicate with the aliens who sent it. We might not want the probe revealing too much about humanity before we can ascertain its intent.

If the probe's intent is judged to be benign, or even friendly, we'd next want to try to communicate with it. If it's plainly unintelligent, this could take some time. After unblocking its communications, we'd likely have Earth representatives attempt to share basic information, something like mathematical principles, gestures of friendship, or music. We'd then have to wait for the probe's handlers to respond through it. If the craft traveled for a long time, this could take hundreds of years! Shostak isn't sure humans would be able to wait that long – the desire to disassemble the probe and learn from it's technological guts might be too great.

But how would extraterrestrials feel if we took apart their probe? Shostak doesn't think aliens would be too mad. After all, if genial Martians suddenly appeared and messed with Curiosity, NASA engineers would be ecstatic - nothing would increase the space agency's budget more.

It would be more interesting if the probe or rover was artificially intelligent, thus capable of communicating with humans directly. Tough believed that any alien probe sent expressly for long-distance exploration would likely be capable of learning from, and even communicating with, a race it encountered.

"The probe has presumably already monitored our radio and television broadcasts, learned at least one of our languages, and learned about our culture and history," he wrote.

That certainly would be convenient and fascinating! While it's hard to hypothesize on what exactly an intelligent alien probe might tell us, Tough has a good idea about how we should act around it: show respect, avoid violence, speak and act truthfully, and deal with it fairly and honestly.

He also thought that any communication should be attempted with international scientific cooperation as well as openness to the public, aspirations perhaps as unlikely as an alien probe visiting Earth in the first place!

Tyler Durden Sat, 07/10/2021 - 23:30
Published:7/10/2021 10:48:25 PM
[Markets] Visualizing Silver's Uses Through The Ages Visualizing Silver's Uses Through The Ages

Silver is one of the most versatile metals on Earth, with a unique combination of uses both as a precious and industrial metal.

Today, silver’s uses span many modern technologies, including solar panels, electric vehicles, and 5G devices. However, as Visual Capitalist notes, the uses of silver in currency, medicine, art, and jewelry have helped advance civilization, trade, and technology for thousands of years.

The Uses of Silver Over Time

The below infographic from Blackrock Silver takes us on a journey of silver’s uses through time, from the past to the future.

3,000 BC – The Middle Ages

The earliest accounts of silver can be traced to 3,000 BC in modern-day Turkey, where its mining spurred trade in the ancient Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Traders and merchants would use hacksilver—rough-cut pieces of silver—as a medium of exchange for goods and services.

Around 1,200 BC, the Ancient Greeks began refining and minting silver coins from the rich deposits found in the mines of Laurion just outside Athens. By 100 BC, modern-day Spain became the center of silver mining for the Roman Empire while silver bullion traveled along the Asian spice trade routes. By the late 1400s, Spain brought its affinity for silver to the New World where it uncovered the largest deposits of silver in history in the dusty hills of Bolivia.

Besides the uses of silver in commerce, people also recognized silver’s ability to fight bacteria. For instance, wine and food containers were often made out of silver to prevent spoilage. In addition, during breakouts of the Bubonic plague in medieval and renaissance Europe, people ate and drank with silver utensils to protect themselves from disease.

The 1800s – 2000s

New medicinal uses of silver came to light in the 19th and 20th centuries. Surgeons stitched post-operative wounds with silver sutures to reduce inflammation. In the early 1900s, doctors prescribed silver nitrate eyedrops to prevent conjunctivitis in newborn babies. Furthermore, in the 1960s, NASA developed a water purifier that dispensed silver ions to kill bacteria and purify water on its spacecraft.

The Industrial Revolution drove the onset of silver’s industrial applications. Thanks to its high light sensitivity and reflectivity, it became a key ingredient in photographic films, windows, and mirrors. Even today, skyscraper windows are often coated with silver to reflect sunlight and keep interior spaces cool.

The 2000s – Present

The uses of silver have come a long way since hacksilver and utensils, evolving with time and technology.

Silver is the most electrically conductive metal, making it a natural choice for electronic devices. Almost every electronic device with a switch or button contains silver, from smartphones to electric vehicles. Solar panels also utilize silver as a conductive layer in photovoltaic cells to transport and store electricity efficiently.

In addition, it has several medicinal applications that range from treating burn wounds and ulcers to eliminating bacteria in air conditioning systems and clothes.

Silver for the Future

Silver has always been useful to industries and technologies due to its unique properties, from its antibacterial nature to high electrical conductivity. Today, silver is critical for the next generation of renewable energy technologies.

For every age, silver proves its value.

Tyler Durden Sat, 07/10/2021 - 23:00
Published:7/10/2021 10:18:53 PM
[Markets] Why Is NASA Working So Hard To Learn How To Defend The Earth From Giant Asteroids? Why Is NASA Working So Hard To Learn How To Defend The Earth From Giant Asteroids?

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Did you know that NASA is going to send a spacecraft on a suicide mission in an attempt to change the trajectory of a massive space rock?  The good news is that the space rock that NASA will be crashing this spacecraft into is not on a collision course with Earth.  It is only a test.  But why has NASA suddenly become so concerned with figuring out how to defend the Earth from giant asteroids?  Could it be possible that there is something heading toward Earth in the future that they haven’t told us about yet?

According to NASA, there are more than 26,000 asteroids that pass near Earth, and more than 2,000 of them are classified as “potentially dangerous” asteroids.

Most of those “potentially dangerous” asteroids aren’t that large, but 158 of them do have a diameter of more than one kilometer.

If one of those monsters were to hit us, it would be a disaster of cataclysmic proportions.

Of course there are countless other space rocks that our scientists have not discovered yet, and those probably represent the greatest threat.  Because if you don’t see a threat coming, you can’t get prepared for it in advance.

These days, NASA officials have become quite preoccupied by the threat that giant space rocks potentially pose, and we are being told that “scientists are at work on a plan to avoid the destruction of Earth by an errant asteroid”.  The following comes from an article that was just published by the Boston Globe

NASA and a cadre of the world’s leading engineers and space scientists are at work on a plan to avoid the destruction of Earth by an errant asteroid like the one 65 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs, created a cloud of dust so impenetrable that it blocked out the sun, and plunged the planet into a prolonged winter that sent half of all plant life into extinction.

Personally, I think that this is something that NASA should definitely be focusing on, because the threat is very real.

Most people don’t realize this, but our planet is actually being pelted by space debris on a constant basis at this point.  In fact, NASA says that we are being hit by very small objects “every day”

Every day, Earth is bombarded by tons of dust and sand-sized particles from the solar system. Meteoroids burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere causing little or no damage. They are easy to spot, streaking across the night sky in brilliant, short-lived bursts of light. Of more concern are the asteroids that pass by Earth unnoticed; they are difficult to detect and track as observers depend on reflected sunlight to spot them.

Thankfully, the vast majority of the objects that we encounter are too small to do any damage.

But it is just a matter of time before a really big space rock comes along.

NASA officials like to give the impression that they have a really good idea of what is going on up there, but the truth is that our ability to detect large space rocks is still quite limited.  In May, a “potentially hazardous” asteroid that came close to Earth was only discovered about a week before it arrived

The reason why 2021 KT1 is news is that NASA estimates that it’s between 492 feet/150 meters and 1,082 feet/330 meters in diameter. It wasn’t observed until late in May 2021 just a week before its closest pass.

And late last year a fairly large asteroid was not discovered until it had already buzzed dangerously close to our planet

Wow. A low-flying space rock set a record last Friday (appropriately, the 13th), when 2020 VT4 passed just under 400 kilometers (250 miles) over the Southern Pacific.

The asteroid was spotted by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) survey at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 14th, just 15 hours after approach. This is not uncommon for fast-movers, especially asteroids that are coming at the Earth from our sunward blind-spot, like 2020 VT4.

So if a major threat is headed our way, we may or may not see it coming in advance.

If we do have advance warning that a huge asteroid is coming, obviously we would want to try to do something about it.  With such a scenario in mind, NASA will soon be crashing the DART spacecraft into a giant space rock called Dimorphos

Developed by a team of scientists from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, DART is an unmanned, remotely controlled astronomical suicide mission designed to nudge an asteroid that is half a mile in diameter out of its orbit. Doomsayers take note: This is only a test. The asteroid in question, Didymos — Greek for “twin,” and so named because it was discovered to be paired with its own small moon — is not actually on a collision course with Earth.

Sometime between Thanksgiving week (perhaps as soon as the evening of Nov. 23) and February 2022, the team behind DART will launch it from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The spacecraft will, if all goes according to plan, travel 6.8 million miles to reach and collide with Didymos’s moonlet, Dimorphos, which is 525 feet in diameter.

Is NASA testing out technology that they plan to use on another giant space rock at a later date?

Some have suggested that an asteroid known as Apophis could hit us on April 13th, 2029

On April 13, 2029 (which happens to be Friday the 13th), something unsettling will happen.

A decent-sized asteroid, the 1,100-foot-wide Apophis, will pass so close to Earth it’ll be visible in the sky from certain places. Crucially, the giant rock will not strike our humble planet. But it will pass closer than 20,000 miles from the surface, which is closer than where some of the United States’ most prized weather satellites orbit.

But NASA insists that Apophis will not hit us “for at least a century”

After its discovery in 2004, asteroid 99942 Apophis had been identified as one of the most hazardous asteroids that could impact Earth. But that impact assessment changed as astronomers tracked Apophis and its orbit became better determined.

Now, the results from a new radar observation campaign combined with precise orbit analysis have helped astronomers conclude that there is no risk of Apophis impacting our planet for at least a century.

Estimated to be about 1,100 feet (340 meters) across, Apophis quickly gained notoriety as an asteroid that could pose a serious threat to Earth when astronomers predicted that it would come uncomfortably close in 2029. Thanks to additional observations of the near-Earth object (NEO), the risk of an impact in 2029 was later ruled out, as was the potential impact risk posed by another close approach in 2036.

The orbit of Apophis is now very well known by astronomers all over the globe.  To me, all of the giant space rocks that are floating around up there that we don’t know about represent a much greater threat.

Unfortunately, the number of large space rocks going by our planet has been steadily increasing, and I believe that there is a good chance that we could see an asteroid impact long before 2029 ever rolls around.

If NASA officials know about such a threat, for now they aren’t admitting that to the public.

But they are admitting that they are trying to figure out how to deflect a very large asteroid, and that should definitely be getting our attention.

*  *  *

Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Tyler Durden Tue, 07/06/2021 - 20:20
Published:7/6/2021 7:35:38 PM
[Uncategorized] Jeff Bezos Adds 82-Year-Old Wally Funk to Blue Origin Crew

Funk trained to be an astronaut sixty years ago as part of NASA's "Women in Space Program".

The post Jeff Bezos Adds 82-Year-Old Wally Funk to Blue Origin Crew first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:7/5/2021 7:25:46 AM
[Markets] The Bitcoin Energy Debate Is One Of Freedom Versus Servitude The Bitcoin Energy Debate Is One Of Freedom Versus Servitude

Authored by Mark Jeftovic via BombThrower.com,

If you’re arguing against Bitcoin, then you’re in favour of serfdom

In the most recent edition The Crypto Capitalist Letter I cited Elizabeth Warren’s comments in a senate banking committee meeting where she said

“Digital currency from central banks has great promise. Legitimate digital public money could help drive out bogus digital private money, bogus crypto currencies”

My remarks were that as a creature of the state she has it exactly backwards. This is predictable. For years I’ve been saying that the most oft-used criticisms against Bitcoin (backed by nothing, ponzi and tulipmania) were more accurate descriptions of the US dollar, social security, and meme stonks, in that order.

In TCC we spend a lot of time thinking about the coming bifurcation in digital money: how Central Bank Digital Currencies will be the rails for things like UBI and welfare dependency while crypto currencies will be actual stores of wealth and capital formation. If there was one distinctive feature that would enable one to tell the difference between a “bogus” digital currency and a real one, it would be this:

If you can hold your private keys, it’s real. If you can’t, it’s bogus.

Precisely the opposite of how Warren is spinning it.

The exact phrase I used in this month’s issue was :

“The era of private, cryptographically secured money is here, and there’s not a damn thing any bureaucrat, any politician or any nation state can do about it.”

That particular phrase “private, cryptographically secured money” is important. If you do not fully understand the implications of that and you unwittingly accept establishment arguments against  Bitcoin, then you are tacitly ceding authority over your entire life, every transaction, every decision, every interaction with the world at large, to The State.

Warren also piled onto the energy argument, which seems to be the latest unified front against the upstart non-state currency:

“Cryptocurrency has created opportunities to scam investors, assist criminals and worsen the climate crisis”

The energy argument fails on two fronts

There are two distinct rebuttals to this issue. One is by putting Bitcoin energy usage into perspective and showing how the benefits justify the costs. (Even the World Economic Forum recently published a remarkably clueful paper saying that the arguments against Bitcoin were mainly FUD and that the energy usage was worth it given the benefits).

The total electrical usage of all Bitcoin mining is approximately 110 TWh (Terra Watt hours) per year. It is estimated that as much as 20% of all electrical energy produced is wasted. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) puts it even higher, at 34%.

The total electrical energy usage of the world in 2018 was around 22,000 TWh and 20% of that would have been 4,400 TWh (at the higher EIA figure it would be 7,480). Seen in that context, Bitcoin mining uses somewhere between 2.5% and 1.4% of all wasted electrical energy. It’s been written up by others how Bitcoin by its nature can be moved toward sources of energy waste and thus covert otherwise lost energy into real economic value. Great American Mining is already doing it (and one of the companies we hold in our Crypto Capitalist Portfolio is in a joint venture with them).

Another example of providing context is when people like Alex Gladstein document how the US military empire is really a support structure for the US dollar, and compared to that, Bitcoin has a smaller carbon footprint and causes a lot less damage. Bitcoin is not actively conducting drone assassinations in multiple foreign countries. The petrodollar is.

The other approach to the energy usage criticism by people like Nic Carter is the categorical rejection that any Bitcoiner is under any obligation to explain or justify their energy usage. If Bitcoin and cryptos have to rationalize their energy footprint, then that follows for everything. From “Keeping Up with The Kardashians” to NASA, can anybody truly rationalize their energy expenditure over the supposed conservational benefits of that activity not occurring?

Energy as Authority

It’s this attack on individual rights to use private, cryptographically secured money that I want to focus on in particular because to even accept  that Bitcoin energy argument as valid, you are tacitly accepting that some authority other than you has the ultimate verdict over all energy usage including your own.

Isn’t watching (or being) the Kardashians an exercise in self-absorption and triviality that glamorizes wealth inequality?

Should NASA really be concerning itself with space when we have so much social justice to undertake here on Earth? We only have one Earth. Don’t those rockets use a lot of fuel and deplete the ozone layer?

There are already serious academics suggesting that we should genetically engineer humans to be less harmful to the environment. Here is a bioethicist and NYU professor in a 2016 symposium making the case for genetically engineering humans so that they are born allergic to red meat and grow up to be on average 12 cubic centimeters smaller. For climate.

In 2015 the UN adopted 17 sustainable development goals for working toward Agenda 2030. On the surface, these goals appear laudable and uncontroversial. They include objectives such as No Poverty (#1), Zero Hunger (#2), Gender Equality and Clean Water for All (#5 & 6), who isn’t in favour of any of these things?

If you’re running the list you would almost gloss over SDG-12: Responsible Consumption and Production, because “By 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to sustain current lifestyles”

You see where this is going. I’ve said it before, all this talk about Great Resets, The New Normal and Building Back Better is about getting the masses to ratchet down their lifestyles so that the managerial elites and experts can keep running the show (and maintaining theirs).

Standards of living are all about energy inputs. As people and communities become more prosperous, their per-capita energy usage rises. The official canon of the national and supra-national elites is that this has to stop. Never mind that history is the story of humanity achieving exponentially higher productivity gains and energy efficiencies, never mind that the world was already on a trajectory to achieve many of the SDGs  already without overbearing government intervention (see Ana and Hans Roslings’ “Factfulness” or Matt Ridley’s “The Rational Optimist”)

All that matters is that the experts, the same technocratic class that brought you double masks, double vaccines and two years of lockdowns, have decided that this is the way things have to go. Incidentally, the COVID pandemic (which was arguably brought about by the very experts who were purportedly trying to prevent one) is the perfect opportunity to fast track new policies toward these Sustainable Development Goals.

Make no mistake, the same climate technocrats who are saying Bitcoin’s energy footprint isn’t justified are already thinking in terms of a totalitarian system of energy and carbon rationing based on purported benefits of any given activity.

If you think I’m exaggerating the extent to which the coming “resource based economy” model will subordinate your day-to-day activities and life choices to some greater good narrative, take a look at this recent research paper from  multi disciplinary Sustainability institute about the cognitive dissonance and anxiety “PEBEXs” (Pro-environmental Behaviour Experts”) have to struggle with because their aspirational climate ideology clashes with the demands of everyday life.

These are the people who’s job it is to advance policy and advocate for everybody else ratcheting down their consumption patterns (SDG-12, basically).

“A practical behavior applied by participants to feel better about their consumption is to minimize it. These PEBEXs question their private and job-related consumption to acknowledge that they (and others) are better off with less. These narratives also contain social criticisms of materialism, perceived as a social norm of the Western world” (emphasis added)

One of the tensions PEBEXs experience is the seeming futility of “engag[ing] in individual sustainable practices, to avoid a suboptimal allocation of their resources”, because at the individual level, change is insignificant

“I don’t believe that much in individuals deciding to do things different. I want more the structures to be changed. I don’t know if I want to change people’s behavior, I want to change the society. So that we consume less energy. That is two different things for me.” (Emphasis added)

For a fairly short quote, there’s a lot in there, including:

  • the mindset that society should be restructured to accommodate these people’s feelings. The idea that the entire climate alarmist narrative is not settled science (see Steven E. Koonin’s “Unsettled”, or Michael Shellenbergers’s “Apocalypse Never” for example) is not even imaginable to them.

  • the compartmentalization between working for a radical structural change to society is different than ordering people’s lives on an individual level. Very similar to the progressive mindset of cost-free entitlements. Second-order effects are ignored, all policy objectives can be achieved by wishing for them to be true.

  • that change at an individual level is meaningless or insignificant. Again, telling. Because the overall policy is collectivist and for many of these people, individualism is a mental disorder.  Suffice it to quote Samuel Konkin’s “Liberty cannot be achieved en masse. It can only happen individual by individual”)

As if to drive the entire point home for me, no sooner had I posted this when I came across  a “think piece” from Time Magazine lecturing us on  air conditioning:

The upshot is that air conditioning is bad for the environment and problematic, thus, it must me ‘re-imagined’ I guess…:

The troubled history of air-conditioning suggests not that we chuck it entirely but that we focus on public cooling, on public comfort, rather than individual coolingon individual comfort. Ensuring that the most vulnerable among the planet’s human inhabitants can keep cool through better access to public cooling centers, shade-giving trees, safe green spaces, water infrastructure to cool, and smart design will not only enrich our cities overall, it will lower the temperature for everyone. It’s far more efficient this way.

To do so, we’ll have to re-orient ourselves to the meaning of air-conditioning. And to comfort. Privatized air-conditioning survived the ozone crisis, but its power to separate—by class, by race, by nation, by ability—has survived, too. Comfort for some comes at the expense of the life on this planet.

It’s time we become more comfortable with discomfort. Our survival may depend on it.

Ok. That’s not hyperbolic at all.

And yet again we see that same diminution of individual agency and autonomy in favour of the collective. Private is bad. Public is good. I’m sure the offices at Time have the a/c switched off as do the staff remote working from home. If they don’t, then whoever wrote this may be experiencing the same anxiety as the aforementioned PEBEXs.

This kind of sanctimonious shrieking doesn’t take into account that pretty well everything being made in industrial society today is becoming more energy efficient over time. It doesn’t take into account that four times as much energy is spent on heat than on air conditioning.  Or that without widespread private air conditioning, a lot of people would actually die, especially among the elderly and medically at-risk.

The idea to redesign public spaces to afford more cooling areas aren’t bad ideas, but the real solution to addressing the disparities in underdeveloped communities is to increase economic prosperity for the citizens who inhabit them. One way to do that could happen if they had access to some kind of private cryptographically secured money, whose purchasing power increases over time… or something.

Just a thought. But that would be better than  marshalling them into communal herds of dependency (which is basically what the ultimate aspiration is for everyone except the billionaires and elites zipping around the world on private jets to climate conferences).

Bitcoin today. Cars tomorrow.  Then hamburgers. Heated bathroom floors Air conditioning after that. Second homes. Cottages. Excessive wardrobes. Rationing shoes. Vacations.

If you accept that anybody has the moral authority to tell you what you can and can’t do with your own wealth and how you consume energy, then you are submitting to their judgement on every aspect of your energy consumption, and thus, your entire life.

What people don’t realize is that there is an overarching framework that already mediates energy usage and consumption, one that allocates resources toward optimal outcomes. This already exists (or at least it used to), it’s called free markets that are driven by economic tradeoffs.

*  *  *

To receive future posts in your mailbox join the free Bombthrower mailing listfollow me on Twitter, or use the current weakness in cryptos to take advantage of my Crypto Capitalist Portfolio trial offer.

Tyler Durden Sat, 07/03/2021 - 12:30
Published:7/3/2021 11:42:11 AM
[Markets] Thousands Of Asteroids Whizz Past Earth Thousands Of Asteroids Whizz Past Earth

NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies keeps an eye on the sky, surveying more than 26,000 asteroids and a much smaller number of comets that pass near Earth. Near Earth Asteroids, or NEAs, also include more than 2,000 potentially dangerous specimen, of which 158 have a diameter of more than one kilometer, making them 2.5 times as tall as the Empire State Building.

As Statista's Katharina Buchholz points out, anyone who has dabbled in paleontology - even in the science fiction realm of Jurassic Park or The Land Before Time - knows that a giant asteroid hitting Earth is not good news for life on the planet. In fact, there is evidence that this may have been one of the main causes of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction.

But it does not take a massive asteroid to cause widespread damage. An asteroid that was only ten meters in diameter exploded 25 km above the Bering Sea in December 2019 with the force equivalent to ten Hiroshima atomic bombs. No international or national space organization had detected the small celestial object before it disintegrated above the unsuspecting Earth.

Infographic: Thousands of Asteroids Whizz Past Earth | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

As technology has advanced throughout the decades, people have become better at seeing what is floating around us in the sky.

According to Nasa's CNEOS Center, only a handful of celestial objects had been detected by 1900.

The scale of that number did not change much until the end of the century. As of 1990, only 134 Near Earth Asteroids and 42 potentially dangerous objects were detected up above.

By comparison, 26,115 NEAs and 2,185 potentially dangerous asteroids had been identified as June 2021.

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/28/2021 - 02:45
Published:6/28/2021 2:06:47 AM
[Uncategorized] As NASA Goes Woke, China Unveils ‘Roadmap’ for Manned Mission to Mars and Base on the Moon

Chinese space program is driven by the CCP's ambition for global military, economic domination. 

The post As NASA Goes Woke, China Unveils ‘Roadmap’ for Manned Mission to Mars and Base on the Moon first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:6/27/2021 11:30:36 AM
[Markets] Happy Birthday, Global Warming: Climate Change At 33 Happy Birthday, Global Warming: Climate Change At 33

Authored by Rupert Darwell via RealClearEnergy.com,

This month, climate change celebrates its 33rd birthday. On June 23, 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen testified that the greenhouse effect had been detected. “Global Warming Has Begun,” The New York Times declared the next day. Indeed, it had.

A year older than Alexander the Great when he died, climate change took less than one-third of a century to conquer the West.

Four days earlier, the Toronto G7 had agreed that global climate change required “priority attention.” Before the month was out, the Toronto climate conference declared that humanity was conducting an uncontrolled experiment “whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.” In September, Margaret Thatcher gave her famous speech to the Royal Society, warning of a global heat trap. “We are told,” although she didn’t say by whom, “that a warming of one degree centigrade per decade would greatly exceed the capacity of our natural habitat to cope,” an estimate that turned out to be a wild exaggeration. Observed warming since then has been closer to one-tenth of one degree centigrade per decade. Two months later, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held its inaugural meeting in Geneva.

The tendency to catastrophism was present at the outset of global warming. The previous year, at a secretive meeting of scientists that included the IPCC’s first chair, it had been recognized that traditional cost-benefit analysis was inappropriate, on account of the “risk of major transformations of the world of future generations.” The logic of this argument requires that climate change be presented as potentially catastrophic—otherwise, the cure would appear worse than the putative disease.

Although catastrophism gave climate change emotive power, the most consistent feature of climate change is the failure of predictions of catastrophe to materialize. In 1990, Martin Parry, a future cochair of an IPCC working group, produced a report claiming that the world could suffer mass starvation and soaring food prices within 40 years. Yet the prevalence of undernourishment in developing countries has been on a downward trend since the 1970s and was nearly halved, from 23.3% in 1991 to 12.9% in 2015.

Although global warming conquered the West, it failed in the East. The model for international environmental cooperation was the 1987 Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer. Its negotiation and ratification was led by the Reagan administration, which recognized that the U.S. would be the biggest beneficiary from having a strong treaty. Thanks to U.S. leadership, the negotiations were conducted quickly (in a matter of months) and the protocol has teeth, containing strong incentives for countries to join and the threat of trade sanctions for those that do not.

This path was quickly blocked for climate change. At the end of 1988, the Maltese government sponsored a resolution of the UN General Assembly on the conservation of the climate as mankind’s common heritage, the subtext being that rich countries shouldn’t negotiate a climate change treaty and then impose it on the rest of the world. The advantage of going down the UN route was that it led to the creation of a permanent and growing bureaucratic infrastructure with annual meetings to keep global warming’s place in public discourse. The downside is that negotiating texts must be agreed by consensus, foreclosing the possibility of a Montreal-like negotiating process and outcome. In 1990, the General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change, which produced a final text in time for the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

The most important features of the 1992 climate convention are its ground plan, carving the world in two, with the developed North listed in Annex I, and the doctrine of “common but differentiated responsibilities” (the first principle listed in the convention and arguably its governing one). The bifurcation was made concrete in 1995 at the first conference of the parties in Berlin. Presided over by Angela Merkel as Germany’s environment minister, the Berlin Mandate stipulated that Annex I parties should strengthen their commitment to decarbonize on condition that non–Annex I parties did not, preparing the way for the Kyoto Protocol two years later.

The Clinton administration hadn’t given much thought to the implications of the Berlin Mandate. The Senate did. In July 1997, by 95 votes (including those of then-senators Biden and Kerry) to zero, it adopted the Byrd-Hagel resolution: America should not sign any protocol that imposed limits on Annex I parties unless it also imposed specific, time-tabled commitments on non–Annex I countries. Although the Clinton administration signed the Kyoto Protocol, the Senate had killed U.S. participation; it was left to the incoming president, George W. Bush, to garner the opprobrium for stating the obvious. Both he and Barack Obama pursued essentially the same post-Kyoto strategy of trying to get China and other major emerging economies to make treaty commitments to decarbonization, an attempt that failed at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, when China, India, South Africa, and Brazil vetoed a new climate treaty.

In picking up the pieces, Todd Stern, President Obama’s climate negotiator, had the twin objectives of crafting something that China would accept but that didn’t require the Senate’s advice and consent. The outcome was the Paris climate agreement. It embodies the climate equivalent of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Sinatra Doctrine of allowing individual parties to the agreement to “do it their way.” Hailed as a game changer in the fight to save the planet, the reality of Paris was rather different. Just as Gorbachev’s Sinatra Doctrine was an admission that the Soviet Union had lost the Cold War, the Paris agreement signaled that the West had given up on having a global decarbonization regime, with credible sanctions against free riding.

Although the Obama administration played an essential role in its gestation, the U.S. is the biggest loser from the Paris agreement. America is to forfeit its recently won position as the world’s largest producer of hydrocarbon energy. For what?

The story of carbon dioxide emissions is acceleration in the declining share of Western emissions. The year 1981 was the last one in which the West’s energy and cement manufacture carbon dioxide emissions were greater than the rest of the world’s (the latter includes Japan—culturally non-Western, ambivalent about climate change, and the only nation to have hosted a major climate conference presided over by a foreign national). By 1988, despite the economic expansion of the 1980s, the West’s emissions had grown by only 3.8%, while the rest of the world’s had grown by 27.0%.

After 2002, non-Western emissions grew even faster. In the 12 years before 2002, non-Western emissions grew by 21.2%; and in the subsequent 12 years, by 76.8%. By 2014, with Western emissions broadly flat over the 24-year period, Western emissions had shrunk to 26% of the total, and the share of non-Western emissions had risen to 74%. In less than a decade and a half, the increase in non-Western emissions outstripped the combined total of U.S. and E.U. emissions. In terms of affecting the physics of global warming, it doesn’t really matter what the West does any more.

William Nordhaus, the world’s preeminent climate economist, offers a brutal assessment of climate policy. “After 30 years, international policy is at a dead end,” he said in a little-noticed October 2020 presentation to the European Central Bank. “We have policies, but they have not been effective, and they’re getting us basically nowhere.” The culprit, in Nordhaus’s view? The free-rider problem. Nordhaus’s solution is to replace the current structure with a “club” whose members agree on a uniform price for carbon dioxide (he suggests $50 per ton of CO2) plus a straight 3% penalty tariff on imports from non-club members. What Nordhaus proposes, in essence, is the Montreal Protocol structure adapted for climate change.

Joe Biden campaigned to restore U.S. climate leadership and rejoin the Paris agreement. The two are contradictory. Following the Europeans down the dead end of a three-decade-old UN process hardly constitutes leadership. Heeding Nordhaus’s advice and abandoning the UN process is something that only an American president can do. But that would be to assume that the purpose of the UN is to moderate global warming.

Days before the Paris conference, Maurice Strong died. A committed environmentalist, no person did more to put environmentalism on the international agenda, leading the 1972 Stockholm UN conference on the environment and the Rio Earth summit 20 years later. A small gathering was held at the Paris conference to share reminiscences about Strong and his achievements. One of his aides at the Stockholm conference recalled asking him what the policy of the conference should be. “The process is the policy,” Strong replied.

Strong’s genius was to understand that a self-perpetuating UN process would continuously accrete money, influence, and, above all, power. Environmentalism would not have become the dominant ideology in the West without the deployment of the UN’s climate apparatus: the annual cycle of climate conferences spliced periodically with ones that are going to save the planet (Kyoto in 1997; Bali in 2007; Copenhagen in 2009; Paris in 2015; and Glasgow in 2021). Then there’s the IPCC, set up by the UN Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization, and its five—soon to be six—generations of assessment reports.

“Embedded in the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C is the opportunity for intentional societal transformation,” the IPCC says in its scientific assessment of the 1.5°C target. All ideologies seek power. Seen in this light, global warming gave environmentalism the means for it to conquer the West and become the dominant ideology of our age. Environmentalism’s attitude toward nuclear power provides a test for this proposition. If the paramount concern of environmentalists had been to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and slow down climate change, they would campaign to keep existing nuclear power stations and build new ones. Yet viable nuclear power stations are being prematurely closed in California, New York, Germany, and Belgium. Why?

Nuclear power is a Promethean crime of humanity stealing the deepest secrets of nature to release unlimited quantities of energy, in the eyes of environmentalists—a crime far worse than global warming. Instead, humanity must live within the rhythms and constraints decreed by nature; hence environmentalists’ belief that power stations should be replaced by inefficient, weather-dependent wind and solar farms.

The growth of wind and solar generation is not a market-driven phenomenon of a superior technology displacing an obsolete one. It’s what happens when governments heavily subsidize zero-marginal cost output, flooding wholesale markets with unwanted electricity when there’s too much sun and wind and risking power failures when there’s too little. The ubiquity of wind and solar symbolizes environmentalism reversing the logic of the Industrial Revolution in transforming predominantly agrarian societies at the mercy of climate to weather-resistant ones and helps explain the contrasting fortunes of environmentalism and Marxism. Environmentalism succeeded in the West and has become part of the political mainstream, to the extent that it defines politically acceptable opinion. Marxism lost in the West but thrived in preindustrial societies, because the political priority remains economic development. In practical terms, this is synonymous with industrialization and carbonizing their economies.

The outcome has been to shift the balance of climate power from the West to the rest of the world and the major emerging economies, in particular. Yet the lopsided arithmetic of the West versus the rest’s emissions has not softened the effectiveness of global warming as an ideological weapon because it is not based on any rational calculus but derives from its threat of planetary catastrophe. The future, as it had been in Marxism, again becomes “the great category of blackmail,” as the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner writes in “The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse.”

Climate change does represent an existential threat to Western civilization, although not in the way environmentalists say. Net-zero climate policies threaten to undermine the internal cohesiveness of Western societies and drain them of economic vitality. Externally, they will accelerate the redistribution of power away from the West to those nations that decide not to decarbonize, especially to China. Decarbonization will see the progressive elimination of high-paying, high-productivity blue-collar employment such as coal mining, oil and gas, steelmaking, and energy-intensive manufacturing. The aristocracy of labor will become an extinct social class; instead, as social mobility stagnates and class stratifications solidify, social geographer Joel Kotkin foresees the coming of neo-feudalism.

Accompanying these regressive social developments is the atrophying of democratic politics. Net-zero climate policies require reorganizing society around the principle of decarbonization—not through a couple of election cycles but over the next three decades. Net-zero must therefore be put beyond the reach of democratic politics so that voters cannot reverse a decision that was taken for them. This provides a better fit for a post-democratic polity such as the European Union. Britain has a statutory climate change committee to hold the government to account for meeting decarbonization targets.

Although the Biden administration has adopted a target of net-zero by 2050 and of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, Congress has not passed—and is unlikely to pass—climate legislation mandating these targets. Nonetheless, American corporations in droves are pledging their own net-zero targets. Wall Street and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing and climate disclosures, which the SEC intends to mandate, have opened an alternative route on the basis of what gets measured gets managed.

Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, candidly admits that forcing companies to disclose their emissions isn’t transparency for transparency’s sake: “disclosure should be a means to achieving a more sustainable and inclusive capitalism.” This collusion between the administrative state and climate activists to bypass Congress has been condemned by Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee. “Activists with no fiduciary duty to the company or its shareholders are trying to impose their progressive political views on publicly traded companies, and the country at large, having failed to enact change via the elected government,” Senator Toomey and his colleagues wrote in a letter to SEC chair Gary Gensler earlier this month.

In addition to this usurpation of the political prerogatives of democratic government, forcing business to take on governmental functions to address societal problems will see them, over time, acquire the modes and culture of government bureaucracies. This subtracts from the core economic function of the business corporation in a capitalist economy. “The capitalist economy,” in the words of the growth economist William Baumol, “can usefully be viewed as a machine whose primary product is economic growth.” What distinguishes it most sharply from all other economic systems are free-market pressures that force firms to engage in a continuous, competitive process of innovation. “This does not happen fortuitously,” writes Baumol, “but occurs when the structure of payoffs in an economy is such as to make unproductive activities such as rent-seeking (or worse) more profitable than activities that are productive.”

If CEO remuneration is aligned with ESG objectives and decarbonization targets and if directors risk being voted off boards for not having them, businesses will increasingly focus their efforts on meeting these non-business objectives. As this incurs costs and impairs business performance, businesses will turn to politicians to seek protection from their antisocial competitors that refrain from doing the government’s work. Capitalism’s legitimacy rests on its record of raising living standards through its prodigious capacity to generate productive wealth. Should that slow down to a trickle, capitalism becomes hard to justify, even though the explanation is that the system is no longer a capitalistic, free-market one.

Global warming flourished during a period when the world had taken a holiday from geopolitics. It had entered the world as geopolitical tensions were easing. Six months earlier, in December 1987, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the INF treaty, eliminating intermediate nuclear missiles. By the time of the Rio Earth Summit, the Soviet Union was gone. Geopolitics is now back. There is a broad consensus in Washington that President Xi’s China is a strategic rival to the U.S. Yet the new strategic realism ceases when it comes to climate change.

According to the IPCC, net-zero requires “transformative systemic change” that involves “unprecedented policy and geopolitical challenges.” The International Energy Agency calls decarbonizing the energy sector “perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has faced.” The West embarking on this process when China does not is akin to signing a strategic arms-control treaty binding on only one side: it can only be to China’s strategic advantage. So far, the grip of environmentalism on Western policymakers lulls them into the belief that global warming operates in a strategic vacuum, insulated from the factors that constitute geopolitical weight and ambition. It is in that sense that climate change constitutes an existential threat to the West.

Tyler Durden Sun, 06/27/2021 - 09:20
Published:6/27/2021 8:29:30 AM
[Markets] Hubble Trouble? NASA Says Space Telescope's Computer "Halted"  Hubble Trouble? NASA Says Space Telescope's Computer "Halted" 

The Hubble Space Telescope remains offline as efforts by NASA to bring its payload computer back online have failed. 

NASA revealed the 31-year old space telescope had its payload computer "halted" on June 13 at 1600 ET. It's been more than a week since the low Earth orbit telescope, orbiting at an altitude of 340 miles, has been offline, even though NASA personnel have tried on multiple attempts to restart the computer.  

"Initial indications pointed to a degrading computer memory module as the source of the computer halt. When the operations team attempted to switch to a backup memory module, however, the command to initiate the backup module failed to complete. Another attempt was conducted on both modules Thursday evening to obtain more diagnostic information while again trying to bring those memory modules online. However, those attempts were not successful," NASA said. 

The payload computer is intended to send a "keep-alive" signal to the main computer on the satellite, but that isn't happening, causing the automatic safety system to place all sensors into safe mode configuration. The Hubble will remain in safe mode until NASA fixes the payload computer. 

There have been other recent malfunctions of the aging space telescope. Earlier this year, bad code resulted in the satellite entering safe mode. 

The last in-flight fix occurred during 2009's STS 125 service mission when Space Shuttle Atlantis ferried parts to upgrade the satellite. 

If NASA cannot restart the Hubble, it may be doomed.

A SpaceX mission would be unlikely to carry astronauts to service the space telescope mainly because the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope will be launched in November 2021. 

The Hubble trouble also follows the Russians set to pull out of the International Space Station in 2025 as the end of lifespan for the space station is 2030. 

America's space assets are aging. Meanwhile, China has launched a space station of its own.

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/21/2021 - 17:20
Published:6/21/2021 4:30:22 PM
[Science, Technology, and Social Media] ‘Reach Those We’ve Never Reached Before’: NASA Joins The Woke Train With ‘Mission Equity’

By Steven Hall -

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is launching a new mission on Friday to analyze what parts of its agency have potential barriers for historically “underrepresented and underserved” communities. Mission Equity is an endeavor to look at the agency’s programs, procurements, grants, and policies to examine what challenges exist for …

‘Reach Those We’ve Never Reached Before’: NASA Joins The Woke Train With ‘Mission Equity’ is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:6/19/2021 1:18:12 PM
[Markets] Florida Braces For Another Saharan Dust Storm  Florida Braces For Another Saharan Dust Storm 

Ten days ago, NASA's satellite spotted a massive dust storm blowing off the Sahara Desert and into the waters of the Atlantic Basin. At the time, we forecasted dust clouds were "headed for the Americas." 

Fast forward today, millions of tons of Sahara's nutrient-laden minerals have been whisked across the Atlantic Ocean and are set to arrive in South Florida on Friday or Saturday.

Satellite footage shows the airborne dust particles have already blanketed parts of the Caribbean.

What to expect in South Florida?

Well, of course, dust can deteriorate air quality but also create milky, hazy colored skies. 

According to NOAA, "Sunsets and sunrises take on more yellow and reddish hues because the low-angle sunlight passes through more of the atmosphere before it reaches your eyes. A heavy load of dust in the atmosphere can enhance this effect, leading to longer-lasting, duskier colors that cause vivid sunsets and sunrises."

This latest storm comes one year after the largest dust storm in two decades blanketed the Caribbean and even dimmed skies over US Gulf states. 

Skywatchers are already reporting "some Saharan dust effect here in Florida this morning beautiful sunrise."

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/19/2021 - 09:55
Published:6/19/2021 9:13:55 AM
[Markets] SpaceX Ignored "Last Minute Warnings" From FAA About December Starship Launch That Ended In Flames SpaceX Ignored "Last Minute Warnings" From FAA About December Starship Launch That Ended In Flames

Elon Musk doesn't play by the rules of public markets, nor does he play by the rules of the NHTSA. He also appears to be immune to any consequences from spineless regulators alike. So why is anyone surprised that Musk is openly skirting the suggestions of the FAA?

That's exactly what SpaceX did back in December. SpaceX "ignored at least two warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration that launching its first high-altitude Starship prototype last December would violate the company’s launch license" and wound up launching anyway, a new report from The Verge details. 

Even better is that SpaceX, while under investigation, turned around and "told the FAA that the agency’s software was a 'source of frustration' that has been 'shown to be inaccurate at times or overly conservative,'" the report notes.

The FAA wasn't amused with Musk's behavior, but - in keeping with the impotence of other regulators (i.e. the SEC and NHTSA) doesn't appear to have done anything about it. Not only that, but SpaceX actually won a $2.9 billion contract to put NASA astronauts on a flight to the moon shortly thereafter. 

FAA’s space division chief Wayne Monteith said in a letter to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell: “Although the report states that all SpaceX parties believed that such risk was sufficiently low to comply with regulatory criteria, SpaceX used analytical methods that appeared to be hastily developed to meet a launch window.”

Monteith said the company's actions were “inconsistent with a strong safety culture.”

Documents obtained by The Verge showed how "SpaceX prioritized speed over safety when launching on its own private rocket playground".

SpaceX first sought to launch SN8 in Texas on December 8th, but had to scrap the plans due to an engine issue. On December 9, the next day, FAA officials "repeatedly rejected" SpaceX's weather and launch modeling data that showed it was safe to fly. 

The FAA's models showed that "if the rocket exploded, its shockwave could be strengthened by various weather conditions like wind speed and endanger nearby homes." SpaceX asked the FAA to waive these concerns but the FAA rejected the request.

Then, 15 minutes before liftoff, “the FAA informed SpaceX that the weather data provided was not sufficient” and cited the same safety risk. SN8 wasn't cleared for launch. Then, just mintues before liftoff, "an FAA safety inspector speaking on an open phone line warned SpaceX’s staff in the launch control room that a launch would violate the company’s launch license."

SpaceX launched anyway and, after the rocket flew more than 6 miles, it eventually blew up upon landing.

SN8 "landing"

Monteith then wrote the company, stating: “These actions show a concerning lack of operational control and process discipline that is inconsistent with a strong safety culture.”

SpaceX agreed to corrective measures but continued to defend its data and decision making.

The House transportation committee has opened a probe into “the FAA’s subsequent response, and the pressure exerted on the FAA during high profile launches.” 

Meanwhile, since the violation, SpaceX has launched four more rockets, all with FAA approval. You can read further details on the correspondence between Monteith and Shotwell at The Verge

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/17/2021 - 08:25
Published:6/17/2021 7:28:51 AM
[] Biden's New NASA 'Mission Equity' Opens Door to Discrimination and Mediocrity Published:6/16/2021 7:59:40 PM
[] Patriarchal, sexist Victoria's Secret replacing the Angels with soccer star Megan Rapinoe and the rest of the 'VS Collective' Published:6/16/2021 5:24:42 PM
[Markets] NASA Satellites Spot Dust-pocalypse Headed To Americas  NASA Satellites Spot Dust-pocalypse Headed To Americas 

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite attached to NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite spotted what appears to be a dust storm blowing off the Sahara Desert and into the waters of the Atlantic Basin, where it could eventually end up in the Americas. 

NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite took the image on June 4. A more recent update shows the dust is well over the central Atlantic Ocean by Tuesday. 

Weather modeling via meteorologist John Gerard suggests this is "the beginning of the Saharan Dust season soon, satellite indicates the first large plume of the summer has emerged off the coast of Africa now and should arrive in Florida by next week."

Texas Division of Emergency Management's meteorologist John Honoré says, "It's that time of year again. Saharan dust is working its way across the Atlantic this week." 

"The African easterly jet [stream] exports the dust from Africa towards the Atlantic region," Bing Pu, a geologist and atmospheric scientist at the University of Kansas, said in a NASA press release. "Then the North Atlantic subtropical high, which is a high-pressure system sitting over the subtropical North Atlantic, can further transport it towards the Caribbean region. The Caribbean low-level jet, along with the subtropical high, can further transport the dust from the Caribbean region towards the [U.S.]."

The storm comes about one year after a massive dust storm from the Sahara blanketed the Caribbean region and the Gulf of Mexico. 

So it appears the Sahara dust is back, and it's already approaching parts of the Caribbean Sea. Next stop the U.S.? 

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/08/2021 - 19:05
Published:6/8/2021 6:26:02 PM
[Markets] Goldman's Clients Are Asking How Various Inflation Regimes Affect Stocks: Here Is The Answer Goldman's Clients Are Asking How Various Inflation Regimes Affect Stocks: Here Is The Answer

Picking up on a joke we made earlier this week when we called Joe Biden the Six Trillion Dollar Man (in homage to a very deflationary Lee Majors) in response to the 12 zeroes contained in his budget, in his latest Weekly Kickstart note Goldman's David Kostin writes that...

by at least one measure, inflation has been rampant during the past 50 years, noting that in 1973, Steve Austin was the most powerful man in the world, with super strength in his right arm, a bionic eye, and artificial legs that could run 60 mph. It cost the federal government $6 million to re-build the NASA astronaut into the bionic man, played by Lee Majors in the hit TV series, “The Six Million Dollar Man.”

Fast forward to today, often sporting his trademark 1970s-style aviator sunglasses, President Joe Biden is the most powerful man in the world.Biden is the $6 trillion man when his three 2021 fiscal spending plans are combined: the $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan that was passed in March, the $2.0 trillion American infrastructure plan proposed in April, and the $1.8 trillion American families plan proposed in May. If all three proposals are passed by Congress, it would represent an unprecedented level of peacetime spending in relation to the size of the underlying economy. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the latter two plans pass Congress.

And while it increasingly looks like Biden's original $6 trillion proposal will be substantially reduced - and may even collapse should it not gather the required support from centrist democrats - Goldman's economists did not wait to find out what happens and recently raised their near-term inflation forecasts even as they maintained their expectation that inflation will begin to abate later in the year. In April, both core PCE (+3.1% y/y) and core CPI (+3.0% y/y) exceeded expectations and notched highs not seen in more than two decades. In turn, Goldman's economists expect that core PCE will register 2.5% at the end of 2021 and decline to 2.1% during 2022.

To be sure, after initially freaking out about a deluge of inflation, the growing likelihood that Biden's stimulus package will be materially diluted is why equity market performance has already shown a recent unwinding of inflation concerns. As Goldman notes, In March, amidst fears about rising inflation, stocks with high pricing power

... began to outperform those with low pricing power, reversing 5 months of low pricing power outperformance as the economy recovered. However, during the past few weeks, low pricing power stocks have outperformed again (7% vs. 3%). At the same time, the interest rate 10-year inflation breakevens has declined by 14 bps to 2.4%, suggesting inflation fears priced by both equity and debt markets are easing.

Not surprisingly, this whiplash has prompted most of Goldman's recent client discussions to focus on inflation and its implications for equities.And, as Kostin explains, investors ask just one thing: “how does inflation affect corporate earnings and stock valuations?”

Answering this recurring question, Goldman's Kostin notes that while inflation has mixed implications for earnings, it is generally a positive (as long as it is not hyperinflation in which case all bets are off of course). Kostin then reveals that in the bank's top-down sector-level earnings models, inflation consistently has positive coefficients for sales and negative coefficients for margins. On net, however, Goldman argues that "the boost to nominal sales growth through rising prices typically more than offsets inflation-driven margin compression." While one can debate this, it is certainly the case that companies with revenues tied to commodities, like Energy, or interest rates, such as Financials, are the largest beneficiaries from strong inflation regimes.

That said, inflation becomes a headwind to valuations if it leads to expectations of Fed tightening and thus higher real interest rates. And as Morgan Stanley has argued as part of its mid-cycle transition thesis, S&P 500 returns have been consistently positively correlated with breakeven inflation but valuations have typically contracted alongside sharp increases in real interest rates (as a reminder, MS expects PE multiples to shrink 15% in the next 6 months).

On the other hand, and adding to the complexity, the Fed has indicated it will not tighten the funds rate before seeing prolonged labor market improvement resulting in broad wage gains, particularly at the lower end of the income spectrum. In the past, the S&P 500 P/E multiple has typically expanded during periods of falling inflation and interest rates.

For the record, Goldman's economists forecast the yield curve will steepen in 2021 and 2022, with the funds rate unchanged while the 10-year yield rises from 1.6% today to 1.9% and 2.1% at year-end 2021 and 2022.

Here Kostin makes another valiant attempt to ease worries about runaway inflation, claiming that although inflation is generally a negative impulse for valuation multiples, "recent popular investor focus on earnings yield less the inflation rate is misplaced" and here's why:

Investors concerned by this metric note that it has fallen to its lowest point since the peak of the Tech Bubble in 2000 and suggests the return from owning equities is erased by inflation. We disagree with this interpretation. First, equity earnings and the prices tied to them are nominal and typically rise with inflation. Second, even inflation hawks agree that the most recent prints are biased by base effects and reopening dynamics. In contrast to the gap between the earnings yield and inflation, the EPS yield gap versus the 10-year US Treasury yield, which is commonly used as a proxy for equity risk premium, actually remains above its long-term average. See Exhibit 1.

Kostin's spin aside, it is undisputable that overall, stocks perform better during periods of low inflation than when inflation is high. Goldman categorizes periods since 1962 into those of high and low inflation by comparing year/year core CPI to the Fed’s estimate of consensus long-term inflation expectations. Exhibit 2 clearly shows two inflationary regimes during the past 60 years: The first 20 years (1962-1980) and the past 40 years.

During the first period - which culminated with Volcker hiking rates to 20% - core CPI averaged 5.3% and registered above the long-term estimate 69% of the time.

Since 1962, both pre-and post-1980, the median monthly US equity market real return during high inflation environments has been an annualized 9% vs. 15% during periods of low inflation. As shown in the chart below, periods of high inflation have corresponded with the outperformance of Health Care, Energy, Real Estate, and Consumer Staples sectors, while Materials and Technology stocks have fared the worst in high inflation environments. Surprisingly, Value and Size factors have not performed very differently in periods of high versus low inflation.

Finally, drilling down a little deeper, equity performance has differed greatly in periods where inflation was high and rising versus high and falling.The median monthly market real return has been 2% annualized in phases where inflation was high and rising vs. 15% when inflation was high and falling. At the factor level, Value has generally fared better when inflation was high and rising than when it was high and falling. Among sectors, although Energy and Health Care have outperformed in periods of high inflation, they have performed much better when inflation was rising than falling.

Tyler Durden Sun, 06/06/2021 - 19:00
Published:6/6/2021 6:11:32 PM
[Markets] NASA's Mars Helicopter Prepares For 7th Flight On Sunday NASA's Mars Helicopter Prepares For 7th Flight On Sunday

Liftoff of NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity will occur no later than today if all goes to plan, according to a NASA press release. 

Ingenuity, a small robotic helicopter weighing no more than 4 pounds, is preparing for its seventh flight today. The mission is to fly Ingenuity 350 feet south from its current location on the floor of Jezero Crater. 

"This will mark the second time the helicopter will land at an airfield that it did not survey from the air during a previous flight," NASA wrote. "Instead, the Ingenuity team is relying on imagery collected by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that suggests this new base of operations is relatively flat and has few surface obstructions."

On May 22, Ingenuity flew its sixth mission that did not go so well. The solar-powered helicopter experienced glitches that interrupted internal systems. There was no mention of what caused the glitches; the craft was able to land safely. 

Ingenuity has marvelously performed five flights and beamed incredible images from Mars back to Earth. 

NASA also has the Perseverance rover conducting land-based missions in the search for life. 

In the last couple of months, the Red Planet has become a hotspot for the US and China, with China landing a rover of its own on the planet.

Sudden interest in Mars between both countries is because the planet allegedly has an abundance of rare metals that will power tomorrow's economy. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 06/06/2021 - 16:30
Published:6/6/2021 3:43:00 PM
[Uncategorized] NASA Plans to Launch First American Mission to Venus Since 1989

DAVINCI+ and VERITAS missions will launch to Venus in the late 2020s.

The post NASA Plans to Launch First American Mission to Venus Since 1989 first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:6/4/2021 12:28:01 PM
[] NASA plans two future visits to Venus Published:6/2/2021 9:42:16 PM
[Markets] Space Junk Damages Part Of International Space Station Space Junk Damages Part Of International Space Station

Amid fears of increasing space junk in low Earth orbit, a robotic arm attached to the International Space Station (ISS) has been damaged by space junk. 

In a blog post, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) said a routine inspection on May 12 uncovered a small, untrackable piece of space junk that struck Canadarm2, which is a Canadian robotic arm on ISS used to conduct station maintenance. 

"Canadarm2 is continuing to conduct its planned operations," said the CSA. "The damage is limited to a small section of the arm boom and thermal blanket." 

The statement also explained that NASA and CSA would work together to find out more about the impact. CSA said near-term robotic operations will continue as plan. 

Over decades, debris from satellites, rockets, and other space devices has been locked in orbit. A lot of the junk is building up and could cause significant damage to the ISS and functioning satellites.

According to the CSA, "over 23,000 objects the size of a softball or larger are tracked 24/7 to detect potential collisions with satellites and the ISS." Yet as these items deteriorate and break apart, they produce smaller debris that can't be tracked, posing additional risk to space-based operations. 

The European Space Agency (ESA) said many of these objects are accumulating rocket boosters, defunct satellites, and spaceborne shrapnel. It estimates up to 160 million objects measuring upwards of a millimeter are clogging up low Earth orbit. 

In its annual 2020 report, ESA showed that the number of "fragmentation events" has soared over the last three decades. 

Though these fragments may be small, they travel at thousands of miles per hour and can easily pierce satellites and other spacecraft, resulting in ESA and NASA calling for action against space debris. 

Planned for 2025, the ESA recently awarded the Swiss startup company Clearpace, a $117 million contract, to remove space debris from orbit. 

If readers are curious about just how much space junk is floating above, ESA's animation shows an incredible view of all the debris:  

Meanwhile, Elon Musk is expected to launch thousands of Starlink satellites into space which could cause further traffic jams in orbit. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/31/2021 - 23:30
Published:5/31/2021 10:56:58 PM
[Markets] Why China Could Vanquish The US In New Space Race Why China Could Vanquish The US In New Space Race

Authored by Brandon Weichert via RealClearPolitics.com,

There are now only two nations in the history of humanity that have successfully landed rovers on the surface of the Red Planet: The United States and the People’s Republic of China. You can expect this to be the dominant headline in all matters related to space for many years to come. After all, humanity is due for another round of great state competition and it seems that the two major contenders in this strategic competition will be the United States and China.

For too long Western observers have downplayed China’s rapidly growing space technology industry. The Chinese Martian rover, Zhurong, is nowhere near as advanced as NASA’s Perseverance, which recently made headlines. Yet, it took NASA almost 30 years to reach the level of complexity in its rover operations that the storied American space agency now enjoys. Certainly, China can expect to stay trailing the Yanks for many years to come — or so argue the naysayers who downplay the threat that China’s ambitious, though less advanced, space program poses to the United States.

Suppose it doesn’t take several decades for Beijing to catch up to the Americans in space. After all, there are no greater teachers than experience and competition. For the former, China learns by doing — and Beijing embraces a leap-without-looking mentality that once defined America’s storied program.

As for competition, China truly believes it is in a new space race with the Americans whereas most American leaders do not. The new space race between these nations will determine not only who gets human beings to Mars first, but also will decide which one dominates the strategic high ground of space (and whoever controls the high ground rules the territory below).

Right now, the Americans hold this position — but barely.

China’s competitive and nationalistic view of space means that, unless the Americans fundamentally change the way they operate, the United States will be knocked from its perch in space — in much the same way the British denied the French access to North America in the 19th century.

How do the Americans view space?

Some — the naysayers — have a pessimistic outlook. They (wrongly) believe it is a vast wasteland that will do nothing other than drain our country of vital resources. Others, the utopians, believe space can be maintained as a sanctuary and that the Americans can cooperate with China to share space.

Fat chance.

If Washington viewed space as China’s rulers do, they’d be authorizing the $1 trillion, decade-long investment into the program and other high-technology pursuits that I’ve been advocating. American leaders from both parties would be cutting through the bureaucratic red tape to ensure that the best elements of our budding private space sector were married to nationalistic goals for dominance. We’d have astronauts on Mars by now, too.

Look at it this way: China’s space program did not take serious flight until 2003. By that time, America had been dominating the stars for decades. In 2003, China first placed a taikonaut into orbit. During the intervening 18 years, Beijing has not only repeatedly placed its people into Earth orbit, but has successfully developed counterspace capabilities (weapons intended to deny others access to space in the event of a war). Beijing has landed the first rover on the dark side of the moon in history. Red China has also successfully placed the first of three components necessary to complete their modular space station which is meant to rival the American-built International Space Station. Now, China has its first (of many) rovers on the Martian surface.

Where will China’s space program be in another 18 years?

Beijing leaders have already outlined their plans for the next decade: by 2024, to have an automated base built on the south pole of the moon. In 2028, Chinese (and possibly Russian) personnel will be permanently stationed at that lunar base.

China seeks to have taikonauts on the Martian surface by 2030.

The same naysayers in the West who’ve laughed off China’s space ambitions for the last two decades now scoff at its achievements made in that time. These naysayers continue to belittle China’s chances of achieving its space dreams. Meanwhile, the utopians pine for joint missions -- which would only serve as tech transfers from America to China. So long as American policymakers listen to these voices, China will catch up and ultimately beat America in this new competition.

Unlike the American government, China’s regime has identified dominating space as a key tenet for their “China Dream 2049” program. By the 100-year anniversary of the rise of Communist Party in China, 2049, Beijing’s leaders envision their nation displacing the United States as the world’s hegemon. Raising the Chinese flag on Mars first is a major goal in that regard.

In the meantime, Washington is still holding up America’s manned space program until a female-friendly space suit can be made.

This is what losing looks like, America.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/30/2021 - 22:50
Published:5/30/2021 9:57:35 PM
[Markets] Space Plane Startup Promises Los Angeles To Tokyo In One Hour  Space Plane Startup Promises Los Angeles To Tokyo In One Hour 

Modern transportation is experiencing significant upgrades thanks to transformative technologies. A startup space plane company is promising hypersonic flight worldwide and travel times to anywhere in about an hour. 

Venus Aerospace is building a passenger aircraft that will revolutionize the world's transportation sector with hypersonic flight. The company raised $3 million in a March funding round. It plans to build a Mach 12 hypersonic aircraft designed to travel at the edge of space, allowing passengers to go from Los Angeles to Tokyo in one hour.

Traveling in a space plane is sort of like traveling in a regular plane, except for when the pilot initiates rocket boosters mid-flight that propels it to the edge of space. The aircraft then glides back into the atmosphere and can land at any conventional airport. 

Two former Virgin Orbit employees started Venus: Sarah Duggleby, a launch engineer, and her husband, Andrew, who manages launch, payload, and propulsion operations.

"Every few decades humans attempt this," Andrew Duggleby told Bloomberg, as for now, the dream of high-speed global travel is in reach because of new rocket engine and hypersonic technologies. "This time, it will work."

The Dugglebys say their space plan has more efficient engines, wings, landing gear, and jet engines that allow it to take off like a commercial airliner. 

Jack Fisher, a former NASA astronaut who analyzed Venus' plans, said the initial blast of acceleration "throws you back in your seat" but soon dissipates because "you get going so fast that you don't even feel it anymore."

Three scale models of the space plane will be tested this summer. The project is expected to take at least a decade of testing before commercialization. 

If the technology works, Venus will have to decide if the plane is for commercial or military use first. Already, the husband and wife team, with a dozen employees, have secured a research grant from the U.S. Air Force.

Sassie Duggleby suggests the superfast space plane is for "regular people."  

Before hypersonic space planes, we suspect supersonic ones would be commercialized first, at the end of this decade.  

The Federal Aviation Administration is already issuing new regulations around supersonic travel as multiple startups are working on developing supersonic aircraft.  

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/29/2021 - 23:00
Published:5/29/2021 10:12:18 PM
[Markets] NASA's Curiosity Rover Captures Stunning Martian Clouds NASA's Curiosity Rover Captures Stunning Martian Clouds

NASA's Curiosity rover captured a stunning snapshot of what appears to be a cloudy day in the Arizona desert, but this picture is actually a cloudy day on Mars. 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) released multiple images documenting cloudy days in the thin, dry atmosphere of the Red Planet. 

"Clouds are typically found at the planet's equator in the coldest time of year, when Mars is the farthest from the Sun in its oval-shaped orbit. But one full Martian year ago – two Earth years – scientists noticed clouds forming over NASA's Curiosity rover earlier than expected," NASA JPL's press release read. 

Curiosity has taken about 21 photographs of the strange Martian clouds over Gale Crater. 

This year, they were ready to start documenting these "early" clouds from the moment they first appeared in late January. What resulted are images of wispy puffs filled with ice crystals that scattered light from the setting Sun, some of them shimmering with color. More than just spectacular displays, such images help scientists understand how clouds form on Mars and why these recent ones are different. 

In fact, Curiosity's team has already made one new discovery: The early-arrival clouds are actually at higher altitudes than is typical. Most Martian clouds hover no more than about 37 miles (60 kilometers) in the sky and are composed of water ice. But the clouds Curiosity has imaged are at a higher altitude, where it's very cold, indicating that they are likely made of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice. Scientists look for subtle clues to establish a cloud's altitude, and it will take more analysis to say for sure which of Curiosity's recent images show water-ice clouds and which show dry-ice ones. - NASA JPL

This GIF shows clouds floating over Mount Sharp on Mars. The rover took these photos in mid-March. 

In late March, the rover took more photos of clouds just after sunset. 

Another GIF of Martian clouds after sunset about 37 miles in the sky and are primarily composed of water ice and sometimes offer a colorful display. 

"If you see a cloud with a shimmery pastel set of colors in it, that's because the cloud particles are all nearly identical in size," said Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist with the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "That's usually happening just after the clouds have formed and have all grown at the same rate."

"I always marvel at the colors that show up: reds and greens and blues and purples," Lemmon said. "It's really cool to see something shining with lots of color on Mars."

Curiosity landed on the Red Planet in August 2012 and is still operating. The rover was designed to explore the Gale crater as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. What's been grabbing all the headlines this year has been NASA's Perseverance rover and the tiny robotic, coaxial helicopter Ingenuity, which landed on the planet in mid-February. Also, China landed its rover on the plant weeks ago. 

Mars is becoming a highly focused planet because it contains many valuable resources, including rare metals, that have ignited a new rush by global superpowers to conduct future space mining missions. Before Mars is mined, the Moon will likely experience mining operations first. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/29/2021 - 11:35
Published:5/29/2021 10:46:30 AM
[Markets] Lockheed, GM Team-Up To Develop Next-Gen Lunar Rover For Astronauts  Lockheed, GM Team-Up To Develop Next-Gen Lunar Rover For Astronauts 

Lockheed Martin and General Motors are teaming to develop the next-generation lunar vehicle for NASA's upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon. 

The Artemis program aims to land astronauts on the lunar surface by the midpoint of the decade. For exploration purposes, astronauts will need "surface mobility that is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts," a Lockheed press release read

The new lunar vehicle "may allow astronauts to explore the lunar surface in unprecedented fashion and support discovery in places where humans have never gone before," the defense contract continued. 

"This alliance brings together powerhouse innovation from both companies to make a transformative class of vehicles," said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space. "Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts as they perform high-priority science investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity's understanding of our place in the solar system."

NASA's request for a next-generation lunar vehicle comes as GM, more than half a century ago, helped Boeing to create the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) for the Apollo mission to the Moon in 1969. 

"General Motors made history by applying advanced technologies and engineering to support the Lunar Rover Vehicle that the Apollo 15 astronauts drove on the Moon," said Alan Wexler, senior vice president of Innovation and Growth at General Motors. "Working together with Lockheed Martin and their deep-space exploration expertise, we plan to support American astronauts on the Moon once again."

GM will leverage its battery-electric technologies and propulsion systems to allow the rover to have a much greater range than the electric Apollo LRV. It will also incorporate autonomous, self-driving systems that will enable the rover to prepare for human landings, provide payload services, and allow astronauts to explore farther distances. 

Lockheed Martin said the lunar rover is "being designed to traverse significantly farther distances to support the first excursions of the moon's south pole, where it is cold and dark with more rugged terrain."

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/27/2021 - 20:20
Published:5/27/2021 7:26:33 PM
[Markets] "What The Hell Is Going On - 2020 Edition" - Chamath's Annual Letter Warns That "People Have Stopped Thinking For Themselves" "What The Hell Is Going On - 2020 Edition" - Chamath's Annual Letter Warns That "People Have Stopped Thinking For Themselves"

While many of the SPACs he has sponsored have seen less than stellar returns, Chamath Palihapitiya and his VC firm, Social Capital, are doing just fine.  Palihapitiya has been a player in Silicon Valley for years, but thanks to the SPAC boom, 2020 was a breakout year for the former Facebook employee. Not only did he rake in profits for his firm and his investors, but SPACs have changed the nature of the IPO process

Somewhat lost in all the excitement of the SPAC boom is the fact that Social Capital is a VC firm that has invested in more than 70 companies during the past decade, which has been a lucrative one for Silicon Valley. Social Capital has backed many a winner, including Slack, SurveyMonkey, Wave (acquired by H&R Block) and Yammer (which was acquired by Microsoft). Its entire portfolio is listed here.

Between 2011 and 2020, Social Capital has achieved a Gross Internal Rate of Return equivalent to 1,441%, compared with just 248% for the S&P 500. But as Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon and Jeff Bezos have shown, annual investor letters aren't so much about sharing returns, but are about allowing the CEO to pontificate about issues near and dear to their hearts.

And Palihapitiya, whose interviews and tweets draw a large audience, didn't disappoint. In a section entitled "What the hell is going on - 2020 edition", Palihapitiya opened with one of the most quoted lines penned by Charles Dickens - "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." before progressing to other topics from BLM, to obesity to the fact that "people have stopped thinking for themselves."

We have reproduced the entire section below (emphasis ours):

What the hell is going on - 2020 edition

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way..."

Most of us recognize this as the famous beginning of Charles Dickens’ 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens wrote about the years leading up to the French Revolution and is about two men who are, in some ways the same, but in others completely different. In hindsight, 2020 can be described in equivalent terms.

On the one hand, 2020 was a witness to the ongoing compounding of prosperity, health, life expectancy and wealth that has symbolized the post World War II 20th and 21st centuries thus far. But at the same time, through the lens of COVID-19, 2020 introduced us to the fragility of our lungs, our borders, our institutions and our compassion with many lives lost and many mistakes made.

In no world was the coronavirus pandemic a blessing but it was instructive. What was laid bare in the cloud of 2020 was, if taken positively, a roadmap for us to follow if we want to rebuild that “shining city upon a hill” again.

Globalization as we know it is over

This, in our opinion, is the largest macro force at play coming out of the pandemic, but it is still poorly understood. First, some history. When historians describe the period from 1980 to 2020, they may initially focus on Paul Volcker’s fight to rein in runaway inflation but it will quickly move to 1994. In 1994, Deng Xiaoping’s “socialism with Chinese characteristics” faced a reckoning with the devaluation of the RMB to the US Dollar. While a currency devaluation may not mean much to most people, the implications of this one were immense. Overnight, China’s currency became almost 40% more competitive and the West was flooded with an amazing production surplus. We were able to buy things made in China at a huge discount, so we bought more and more, building an insatiable demand of retail consumption.

This currency devaluation also had several advantages for China. With a large demographic bulge of young people, the government was able to put these hard working and ambitious people to work in all manner of factories. In turn, these factories were increasingly running 24 hours per day feeding the West’s insatiable appetite for consumption - and a virtuous cycle was born. China was then able to take the proceeds of this activity and invest heavily in its own infrastructure, running massive yearly GDP gains and eventually becoming the 2nd most important economy in the world.

Other Asian countries, not willing to stand on the sidelines, joined the devaluation fun and by the turn of the century, we had seen an entire block of countries devalue their currency relative to the US Dollar further exacerbating the trade deficit/surplus between the West and Asia.

Then in 2001, the other shoe fell.

With President Bush increasingly pushing for a war in Iraq, he also advocated for China to become a member of the World Trade Organization. By December of 2001 China was admitted to the WTO and in November of 2002, China supported the UN Security Council resolution that created the pretext for the US invasion of Iraq. Within the course of a few months, the US became distracted by fighting a protracted and oddball war in the Middle East while China was able to focus on scaling their economy and building wealth. The US was spending money needlessly while China was saving and investing.

Then, because of China’s admission to the WTO and the normalized trade relations that came with it, globalization was supercharged. Companies in the West were not just incentivized to buy cheap Chinese goods, they also had a mechanism to export jobs to, and invest heavily in, China. All of this, as we know now, ultimately hollowed out the American middle class, created the Rust Belt, lit the fuse on the opioid crisis and enabled a resurgence of both left and right populism. The kill shot to globalization came in 2016 with the election of President Trump - it was the disenchanted protest vote heard around the world.

“Just in time” was a feature and is now a bug

We should note that despite all of the issues with globalization noted above, we were not allowed to be anything but positive about globalization until the pandemic.

During the pandemic, facing critical shortages of goods like PPE, it became clear that globalization had created a fragile ecosystem which was optimized for “just in time” instead of “under all circumstances”. The former is cheaper and faster while the latter manages corner cases and reliability despite being inefficient and costly.

Now it’s easy to be anti-globalization and advocate a hyper balkanized world view. But the problem is that if each country was forced to be self-sufficient, it is akin to advocating for the Dark Ages. Instead, a more reasonable middle ground is a world where we value a handful of trading partners for critical resources, metals and supply chains versus just one. While no one country will get rich quickly under this model, and while it will likely be more inefficient and cause prices to rise, it will also allow many countries to create lots of middle class jobs for their populations (ie the circa 2000 China playbook but for everyone).

Based on this, we see many new investment opportunities in all things “resiliency”. In rebuilding supply chains for rare earths, battery metals, semiconductors, additive manufacturing and many other end markets, we believe we will see a resurgence of the American middle class and our manufacturing prowess. This will also have a secular, positive impact on commodity prices, as well as creating a new generation of technology companies who view “under all circumstances” as a feature and “just in time” as a historical artifact.

Basically, by the end of 2020, we essentially learned that the original manifestation of globalization was like sugar. In the right quantities, it’s hard to beat, but if there is too much of it, it will lead to cavities and disease.

We have an epidemic of obesity

Speaking of disease, simply put, the pandemic told us an ugly truth: we are a nation of overweight and obese people and it's getting worse. At the end of 2020, 42.4% of all Americans were obese. If being obese wasn’t psychologically and physiologically hard enough, the pandemic made clear that it was also an acute killer. Of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19, 78% were overweight or obese. Further, the mortality rate for this cohort was 20%. Chained probabilities mean that if you are overweight/obese and you are hospitalized with the next variant of covid you have a (78% * 20%) = 15.6% chance of dying. And each new year, and with every new variant, you have a new 15.6% chance of dying. At some point, it's impossible to outrun these odds.

We have a responsibility to recognize this as the epidemic that it is and start to address it in scaleable ways. The most difficult thing to fix, but where tremendous value will come from, is improvements to our domestic food supply. American’s have become addicted to cheap food high in sugar, preservatives and other additives. It’s not clear that there is a sustainable food supply that can be created at the same price point but this is where we need to invest engineering, science and government resources. It is possible to imagine a domestic food supply that is rich in nutrients, free of pesticides and engineered to taste good that can satiate the American palate. If we don’t, and the next pandemic doesn’t kill us, then over the next few decades, the chronic care of America’s obese population will.

People have stopped thinking for themselves

Part of what led to our obesity epidemic were lies about fats versus sugars. The issue of truth has only become more exacerbated. In fact, the most pernicious issue with the pandemic was how rife it was with a lack of information, disinformation and misinformation. The often conflicting and inconclusive statements from our institutions: CDC, WHO, POTUS, FDA disappointed many. Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Clean surfaces regularly. Surfaces don’t pass COVID-19. Ingest bleach. Don’t ingest bleach. Don’t take this vaccine because it causes clots. Actually, that’s not true, take it.

As all of this conflicting information was put into the world on the same level playing field, average people were left to scratch their heads in confusion, paralyzed with fear or invent their own conspiracy theories to explain it to themselves.

In fact, all of this mis/disinformation had a very sinister result. Instead of making the issue simpler to understand, we started a dangerous new trend of making science about interpretation vs facts. Every day of the pandemic, we saw various ways of interpreting data, facts, cohorts and theories to maximize clicks and confusion and minimize rational decision making. Even worse, we stopped iterating, we stopped changing our minds through data and instead we allowed bad decisions to fester because saving face became more important than good decisions. This is a dangerous trend which will undoubtedly spill into many other organizations we rely on unless we do something.

In a world of social media where everyone has a megaphone, we need to increasingly rely on institutions for the truth, not the opposite. But the pandemic has further eroded this expectation and has drawn opinion lines around science. The implications of this for future pandemics, natural disasters or broad public agreement on big issues is concerning - especially as we leave the pandemic, survey the damage and try to return to normal.

Inequality and climate change are getting worse

If we entered 2020 precariously trying to manage the growing inequality we have in America, we left with even fewer answers and new levels of anger and discontent. The trillions of dollars printed by the Federal Reserve in 2020 were critical to ensuring well functioning capital markets, but it also exacerbated the asset inflation that separates average Americans from the wealthiest ones. Despite a raging pandemic, large unemployment and negative GDP, the S&P 500 returned 17.88% in 2020 (with dividends reinvested). It’s likely that most Americans didn’t feel 17.88% richer or more secure by the end of 2020 but financial assets seemed to not listen.

At the same time, despite an entire world in a lockdown, the effects of climate change continued unchallenged. In fact, per NASA, despite much less economic activity, 2020 was not only the warmest year on record, it added to a trend where now the last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record. At this rate, the impacts to the Earth’s biodiversity and resource scarcity (food, water) are unavoidable.

BLM

Finally, as we look back on 2020, we need to talk about Black Lives Matter. While we all want to live in a world where stating the obvious isn’t necessary, this is what millions of people were forced to do throughout America in 2020. The overwhelming majority of BLM protests were just that - peaceful statements of disapproval about the status quo. The reason is that over decades, we have allowed systemic racism and unconscious bias to affect how an entire class of people are treated - by the justice system, by the penal system, by the social welfare system, by the education system and the list goes on - because of the color of their skin. In no reasonable, moral worldview is this acceptable. Even in the most reductionist worldview, if it could happen to them, then why not to you? The point is that equality is a pillar of the US democracy...not an expendable feature that can come and go.

To wit, we can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge and we need to acknowledge that this has happened and begin the hard work of finding solutions. Again, as in other areas, the immediate reflexive reaction is to swing the pendulum wildly to the other side which is what politicizes the issue and stops progress. Is the solution to BLM and improving policing of black and brown lives to wildly decarcerate? No. It’s a more nuanced middle ground where you can logically support BLM, training and accountability for police and law and order all at the same time. I think we will find that this kind of nuance has broad support across America for the politician willing to take this middle ground.

Insiders vs Outsiders

In all of these issues - inequality, climate change and BLM among many others, lies an important emerging truth about how, in 2021, solutions can be found and coalitions built. In order to truly address the root causes of inequality, climate change or systemic racism we need to acknowledge what brought us here.

Again, some history. The modern media landscape before social media was about a few, trusted outlets that became the tastemakers for the broad majority of people. If you didn’t like the opinion of CBS News, you could always switch to ABC or NBC. Through the social media lens of 2020, having a choice between ABC News, NBC News and CBS News is akin to the famous Henry Ford quote that:

“Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”

The implications of this monocultural interpretation of facts and truth were vast and, in hindsight, somewhat predictable. There were a few outlets (NBC, CBS, ABC) that catalyzed opinions and views - and as long as they stayed relatively centered, not much could go wrong. At the same time, it also turned out that systemic injustices would continue to compound with no obvious way to shine a light on and fix them unless these three outlets decided to do so.

This hasn’t just been a problem of broadcast TV. In fact, many of the most important issues of our time were the byproduct of business model decisions within the media landscape that were poorly thought through, if at all.

Take for example, the rampant inflation in the price of US private universities.

What does this have to do with the media? The prices of US private universities were relatively stable until they exploded in 1983. As it turns out, 1983 was also the year that US News & World Report started their Best Colleges Ranking issue. In it, they amplified artificial markers of admissions exclusivity including selection rate and cost. This fed the university administrators and parents with a new kind of insecurity that was masterfully, and perhaps inadvertently, exploited to create the higher education system we now have. As they sold more ads and sold more copies, entire admissions criteria were changed in order to rank highly. Heretofore normal parents became “helicopter parents” all fed by keeping up with the Jones’ who sent their kid to Stanford. Perhaps the team at US News & World Report were simply trying to sell ads in their magazine and deserve no blame, but the result is still the same.

The point is that many of our institutions, our biases and status quos have been shaped by a select group of media insiders who tell us what to know or think. While this isn’t inherently wrong, in and of itself, it's a system that is under attack. Social media now allows outsiders to sit on the same level playing field as insiders with insiders scrambling to find new solutions. If you aren’t convinced, just see what your kids browse on YouTube.

You can now find your own news, your own tribe, your own calling and feel validated in a way that wasn’t possible before. We have all become multi-faceted and diverse in our opinions with room and opportunity to explore the edge cases and think in nuanced ways. This has also meant that centralized tastemaking and narrative control are the least valuable it has ever been.

For most people, the solution is in getting the facts, finding the middle ground, de-escalating the rhetoric, being open minded and listening to one another. The implications of all of this are vast and we are focused on how all of this may play out, particularly in the financial markets.

On Markets

If 1980-2020 was about rampant globalization, then 2020-2060 will be a moderation of this dynamic. In part because of demographics. As we start 2021, there has been a meaningful shift in the demographics of the West vs Asia. Every two years, the median age in China increases by ~1 year. In America, we are roughly staying the same. As this has played out over time, the median ages of China and America have now become equal. But China will continue to age while America remains relatively young over the next few decades. The scale of this demographic shift means fewer young workers in China, increased domestic consumption by older Chinese citizens and the attendant infrastructure needs to deal with an aging population. As China lowers growth to deal with this trend, the impact on prices should see a reverse of the 1990s and 2000s. In other words, prices, in general, are more likely to go up than down for traditional commodities and goods.

Now as we face rising prices, the existential risk in the market is related to inflation. As inflation goes up so will interest rates which has negative implications to future cash flows (this disproportionately negatively affects tech companies). That said, an eternal truth about interest rates, inflation and the like, is that the only way to be immune is to grow really fast. While it's true that there are cyclical companies to own at certain times over others during a rising inflationary period, the surest way to survive is to keep growing faster than the rate of rising costs. To that end, while we are cautious believers in the case for moderate inflation we remain ardent believers in the case for technology and growth stocks.

The no man’s land, however, is the slow growing company - whose leadership has eroded. These are the new quicksands of the public markets and while tantalizingly offering cheap cash flows, unless that cash can create a new arc of growth for that company or be invested by that CEO at superior rates of return, it is literally the last puff of a used cigar that one is best advised to avoid.

On Performance

We had a very strong 2020.

Palihapitiya compared Social Capital's returns to both the S&P 500...

...while also comparing the firm to Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Readers can find the full letter below:

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/26/2021 - 18:40
Published:5/26/2021 5:52:48 PM
[Aerospace] General Motors, Lockheed Martin to develop new lunar rover for NASA Artemis missions to the moon The last time humans visited the moon in 1972, they got around on a relatively simple battery-powered vehicle. As NASA prepares for the next crewed mission to the moon, it’s looking to give the lunar rover an upgrade. Lockheed Martin and General Motors said Wednesday they’re working together to develop a next-generation lunar vehicle designed […] Published:5/26/2021 11:47:54 AM
[TC] TC: Sessions Space is returning in December Last year, we held our first dedicated space startup event, TC Sessions: Space, featuring some of the industry’s top founders and leaders, including Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck, Lockheed Martin’s Lisa Callahan, Amazon’s Dave Limp, NASA’s Kathy Leuders and many more. This year, we’re excited to announce we’re doing it again with TC Sessions: Space 2021, […] Published:5/24/2021 11:33:31 AM
[Markets] China's Mars Rover Rolls Off Lander, Begins Probing Mission  China's Mars Rover Rolls Off Lander, Begins Probing Mission 

Around 10:40 a.m. Saturday Beijing time, China's first Mars rover officially drove down its landing platform ramp and began roaming the Red Planet, China National Space Administration (CNSA) said. 

CNSA release another photograph (here's the first) of the rover, called Zhurong, which touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a large plain on the northern hemisphere of Mars, last Saturday. 

Landing on the Red Planet is dangerous - CNSA said last week it was "nine minutes of terror" as the lander descended toward the planet's surface at a high rate of speed, and the thin atmosphere didn't have enough friction to slow the descent. 

Only NASA has reached the surface of Mars intact on multiple occasions. According to the diagram below, the lander (with Zhurong encased inside) relied on parachutes and rocket engines to slow the descent. This method is similar to NASA's, who has landed Curiosity and Perseverance rovers on Mars.

Space is no longer limited to the original Cold War superpowers (US & Russia). China has to been thrown into the mix after being the second country to land a rover on Mars. 

China is becoming more active in space, especially on the Red Planet, alongside the US, which already has NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance probing for life. The US rover recently launched a helicopter, called Ingenuity, already performing five successful flights. 

Zhurong will spend three Martian months, about 92 Earth days, probing the surface of Mars for evidence of life. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/22/2021 - 17:00
Published:5/22/2021 4:20:22 PM
[Markets] Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, And Why It Matters Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, And Why It Matters

Authored by Rupert Darwall via RealClearEnergy.com,

On January 8, 2014, at New York University in Brooklyn, there occurred a unique event in the annals of global warming: nearly eight hours of structured debate between three climate scientists supporting the consensus on manmade global warming and three climate scientists who dispute it, moderated by a team of six leading physicists from the American Physical Society (APS) led by Dr. Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist at New York University. The debate, hosted by the APS, revealed consensus-supporting climate scientists harboring doubts and uncertainties and admitting to holes in climate science – in marked contrast to the emphatic messaging of bodies such as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

At one point, Koonin read an extract from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report released the previous year. Computer model-simulated responses to forcings – the term used by climate scientists for changes of energy flows into and out of the climate system, such as changes in solar radiation, volcanic eruptions, and changes in the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – “can be scaled up or down.” This scaling included greenhouse gas forcings.

Some forcings in some computer models had to be scaled down to match computer simulations to actual climate observations. But when it came to making centennial projections on which governments rely and drive climate policy, the scaling factors were removed, probably resulting in a 25 to 30 percent over-prediction of the 2100 warming.

The ensuing dialogue between Koonin and Dr. William Collins of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – a lead author of the climate model evaluation chapter in the Fifth Assessment Report – revealed something more troubling and deliberate than holes in scientific knowledge:

  • Dr. Koonin: But if the model tells you that you got the response to the forcing wrong by 30 percent, you should use that same 30 percent factor when you project out a century.

  • Dr. Collins: Yes. And one of the reasons we are not doing that is we are not using the models as [a] statistical projection tool.

  • Dr. Koonin: What are you using them as?

  • Dr. Collins: Well, we took exactly the same models that got the forcing wrong and which got sort of the projections wrong up to 2100.

  • Dr. Koonin: So, why do we even show centennial-scale projections?

  • Dr. Collins: Well, I mean, it is part of the [IPCC] assessment process.

Koonin was uncommonly well-suited to lead the APS climate workshop. He has a deep understanding of computer models, which have become the workhorses of climate science. As a young man, Koonin wrote a paper on computer modeling of nuclear reaction in stars and taught a course on computational physics at Caltech. In the early 1990s, he was involved in a program using satellites to measure the Earth’s albedo – that is, the reflection of incoming solar radiation back into space. As a student at Caltech in the late 1960s, he was taught by Nobel physicist Richard Feynman and absorbed what Koonin calls Feynman’s “absolute intellectual honesty.”

On becoming BP’s chief scientist in 2004, Koonin became part of the wider climate change milieu. Assignments included explaining the physics of man-made global warming to Prince Philip at a dinner in Buckingham Palace. In 2009, Koonin was appointed an under-secretary at the Department of Energy in the Obama administration.

The APS climate debate was the turning point in Koonin’s thinking about climate change and consensus climate science (“The Science”).

“I began by believing that we were in a race to save the planet from climate catastrophe,” Koonin writes in his new book, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, And Why It Matters.”

“I came away from the APS workshop not only surprised, but shaken by the realization that climate science was far less mature than I had supposed.”

“Unsettled” is an authoritative primer on the science of climate change that lifts the lid on The Science and finds plenty that isn’t as it should be.

“As a scientist,” writes Koonin, “I felt the scientific community was letting the public down by not telling the whole truth plainly.”

Koonin’s aim is to right that wrong.

Koonin’s indictment of The Science starts with its reliance on unreliable computer models. Usefully describing the earth’s climate, writes Koonin, is “one of the most challenging scientific simulation problems.” Models divide the atmosphere into pancake-shaped boxes of around 100km wide and one kilometer deep. But the upward flow of energy from tropical thunder clouds, which is more than thirty times larger than that from human influences, occurs over smaller scales than the programmed boxes. This forces climate modellers to make assumptions about what happens inside those boxes. As one modeller confesses, “it’s a real challenge to model what we don’t understand.”

Inevitably, this leaves considerable scope for modelers’ subjective views and preferences. A key question climate models are meant to solve is estimating the equilibrium climate sensitivity of carbon dioxide (ECS), which aims to tell us by how much temperatures rise from a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Yet in 2020, climate modelers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute admitted to tuning their model by targeting an ECS of about 3° Centigrade. “Talk about cooking the books,” Koonin comments.

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. Self-evidently, computer projections can’t be tested against a future that’s yet to happen, but they can be tested against climates present and past. Climate models can’t even agree on what the current global average temperature is. “One particularly jarring feature is that the simulated average global surface temperature,” Koonin notes, “varies among models by about 3°C, three times greater than the observed value of the twentieth century warming they’re purporting to describe and explain.”

Another embarrassing feature of climate models concerns the earlier of the two twentieth-century warmings from 1910 to 1940, when human influences were much smaller. On average, models give a warming rate of about half of what was actually observed. The failure of the latest models to warm fast enough in those decades suggest that it’s possible, even likely, that internal climate variability is a significant contributor to the warming of recent decades, Koonin suggests. “That the models can’t reproduce the past is a big red flag – it erodes confidence in their projections of future climates.” Neither is it reassuring that for the years after 1960, the latest generation of climate models show a larger spread and greater uncertainty than earlier ones – implying that, far from advancing, The Science has been going backwards. That is not how science is meant to work.

The second part of Koonin’s indictment concerns the distortion, misrepresentation, and mischaracterization of climate data to support a narrative of climate catastrophism based on increasing frequency of extreme weather events. As an example, Koonin takes a “shockingly misleading” claim and associated graph in the United States government’s 2017 Climate Science Special Report that the number of high-temperature records set in the past two decades far exceeds the number of low-temperature records across the 48 contiguous states. Koonin demonstrates that the sharp uptick in highs over the last two decades is an artifact of a methodology chosen to mislead. After re-running the data, record highs show a clear peak in the 1930s, but there is no significant trend over the 120 years of observations starting in 1895, or even since 1980, when human influences on the climate grew strongly. In contrast, the number of record cold temperatures has declined over more than a century, with the trend accelerating after 1985.

Notes Koonin, “temperature extremes in the contiguous U.S. have become less common and somewhat milder since the late nineteenth century.” Similarly, a key message in the 2014 National Climate Assessment of an upward trend in hurricane frequency and intensity, repeated in the 2017 assessment, is contradicted 728 pages later by a statement buried in an appendix stating that there has been no significant trend in the global number of tropical cyclones “nor has any trend been identified in the number of U.S. land-falling hurricanes.”

That might surprise many politicians.

“Over the past thirty years, the incidence of natural disasters has dramatically increased,” Treasury secretary Janet Yellen falsely asserted last month in a pitch supporting the Biden administration’s infrastructure package. “We are now in a situation where climate change is an existential risk to our future economy and way of life,” she claimed.

The sacrifice of scientific truth in the form of objective empirical data for the sake of a catastrophist climate narrative is plain to see. As Koonin summarizes the case:

“Even as human influences have increased fivefold since 1950 and the globe has warmed modestly, most severe weather phenomena remain within past variability. Projections of future climate and weather events rely on models demonstrably unfit for the purpose.”

Koonin also has sharp words for the policy side of the climate change consensus, which asserts that although climate change is an existential threat, solving it by totally decarbonizing society is straightforward and relatively painless.

“Two decades ago, when I was in the private sector,” Koonin writes, “I learned to say that the goal of stabilizing human influences on the climate was ‘a challenge,’ while in government it was talked about as ‘an opportunity.’ Now back in academia, I can forthrightly call it ‘a practical impossibility.’”

Unlike many scientists and most politicians, Koonin displays a sure grasp of the split between developed and developing nations, for whom decarbonization is a luxury good that they can’t afford. The fissure dates back to the earliest days of the U.N. climate process at the end of the 1980s. Indeed, it’s why developing nations insisted on the U.N. route as opposed to an intergovernmental one that produced the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances.

“The economic betterment of most of humanity in the coming decades will drive energy demand even more strongly than population growth,” Koonin says.

“Who will pay the developing world not to emit? I have been posing that simple question to many people for more than fifteen years and have yet to hear a convincing answer.”

The most unsettling part of “Unsettled” concerns science and the role of scientists.

“Science is one of the very few human activities – perhaps the only one – in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected,” Karl Popper wrote nearly six decades ago.

That condition does not pertain in climate science, where errors are embedded in a political narrative and criticism is suppressed. In a recent essay, the philosopher Matthew B. Crawford observes that the pride of science as a way of generating knowledge – unlike religion – is to be falsifiable. That changes when science is pressed into duty as authority in order to absolve politicians of responsibility for justifying their policy choices (“the science says,” we’re repeatedly told). “Yet what sort of authority would it be that insists its own grasp of reality is merely provisional?” asks Crawford. “For authority to be really authoritative, it must claim an epistemic monopoly of some kind, whether of priestly or scientific knowledge.”

At the outset of “Unsettled,” Feynman’s axiom of absolute intellectual honesty is contrasted with climate scientist Stephen Schneider’s “double ethical bind.” On the one hand, scientists are ethically bound by the scientific method to tell the truth. On the other, they are human beings who want to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change.

“Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest,” Schneider said.

“Being effective” helps explain the pressure on climate scientists to conform to The Science and the emergence of a climate science knowledge monopoly. Its function is, as Crawford puts it, the manufacture of a product – political legitimacy – which, in turn, requires that competing views be delegitimized and driven out of public discourse through enforcement of a “moratorium on the asking of questions.” This sees climate scientist gatekeepers deciding who can and cannot opine on climate science. “Please, save us from retired physicists who think they’re smarter and wiser than everyone in climate science,” tweeted Gavin Schmidt, NASA acting senior climate advisor, about Koonin and his book. “I agree with pretty much everything you wrote,” a chair of a university earth sciences department tells Koonin, “but I don’t dare say that in public.” Another scientist criticizes Koonin for giving ammunition to “the deniers,” and a third writes an op-ed urging New York University to reconsider Koonin’s position there. It goes wider than scientists. Facebook has suppressed a “Wall Street Journal” review of “Unsettled.” Likewise, “Unsettled” remains unreviewed by the “New York Times,” the “Washington Post” (though it carried an op-ed by Marc Thiessen based on an interview with Koonin) and other dailies, which would prefer to treat Koonin’s reasoned climate dissent as though it doesn’t exist.

The moratorium on the asking of questions represents the death of science as understood and described by Popper, a victim of the conflicting requirements of political utility and scientific integrity. Many scientists take this lying down. Koonin won’t. For his forensic skill and making his findings accessible to non-specialists, Koonin has written the most important book on climate science in decades.

*  *  *

Rupert Darwall is a senior fellow of the RealClear Foundation and author of  Green Tyranny and Capitalism, Socialism and ESG

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/21/2021 - 22:40
Published:5/21/2021 9:45:22 PM
[Markets] First Images Of China Rover On Mars Released  First Images Of China Rover On Mars Released 

The next battleground between the US and China is Mars. While space has always been a domain for superpower rivalry, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) successfully landed a rover, called Zhu Rong, on the Red Planet. Now two images have been sent back to Earth to show the success. 

CNSA released a couple of pictures on its website of the rover, which touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a large plain on the northern hemisphere of Mars. Here are the first images from the rover since it landed on the Red Planet last Saturday. 

"The first photograph, a black and white image, was taken by an obstacle avoidance camera installed in front of the Mars rover. The image shows that a ramp on the lander has been extended to the surface of Mars. The terrain of the rover's forward direction is clearly visible in the image, and the horizon of Mars appears curved due to the wide-angle lens," CNSA said. 

"The second image, a color photo, was taken by the navigation camera fitted to the rear of the rover. The rover's solar panels and antenna are seen unfolded, and the red soil and rocks on the Martian surface are clearly visible in the image," CNSA said. 

Space is no longer limited to the original Cold War superpowers (US & Russia). China has to been thrown into the mix after being the second country to land a rover on Mars. 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson congratulated China for successfully landing a rover on Mars and warned Congress of China's competitive threat to US leadership in space.

China is becoming more active in space, especially on the Red Planet, alongside the US who already has NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance probing for life. The US rover recently launched a helicopter, called Ingenuity, already performing five successful flights. 

Mars will become the next domain for superpower rivalry because the planet has an abundance of rare metals that will power tomorrow's economy. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/20/2021 - 23:00
Published:5/20/2021 10:07:17 PM
[Markets] Everything Is Crashing: Stocks, Bonds, Crypto, Commodities All Tumble Everything Is Crashing: Stocks, Bonds, Crypto, Commodities All Tumble

Everything is tumbling!

Global stocks and US index futures fell for the third straight session, led by the Nasdaq 100, bonds and commodities dropped and crypto crashed ahead of today's release of the April Fed minutes after the ECB warned the euro-area faces elevated risks to financial stability as it emerges from the pandemic with high debt burdens and “remarkable exuberance” coupled with resurgent worries over inflation and coronavirus flareups.

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes touched a one-week high of 1.67%, driving down shares of Apple, Microsoft and Facebook by about 1% premarket. Dow e-minis were down 252 points, or 0.65%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 42.25 points, or 1.0%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 170.75 points, or 1.24%.

On Tuesday, Wall Street stocks slid late in the session to end lower, unable to sustain gains made after bumper earnings from Walmart and Home Depot. The S&P 500 lost 0.85%, with telecom shares leading the decline, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.56%.

"Now that investors are pre-occupied with inflation, they are probably reluctant to make big decisions until they see a clearer picture," said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities. "Inflation worries will keep markets uncertain for now, even though I don't expect stock prices to collapse given economic re-openings."

Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks plunge after Bitcoin sank below $40,000 and other cryptocurrencies followed suit in part after the People’s Bank of China reiterated that digital tokens can’t be used as a form of payment. Among other notable premarket movers were:

  • LightPath Technologies soars 16% after saying that optical elements manufactured by its ISP Optics unit are being used in NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover
  • Salesforce.com gains 1% as Morgan Stanley upgrades to overweight from equal-weight.
  • Tesla drops 2.4% in U.S. premarket trading on data showing a slowdown in sales of the company’s electric cars in China last month
  • Wells Fargo slips 1.3% as UBS downgrades the bank to neutral from buy as its risk- reward profile is no longer attractive following the stock’s outperformance this year
  • Take-Two Interactive Software Inc rose 2.0% after reporting a quarterly profit and sales that beat analysts’ estimates.
  • Target Corp gained 2.1% after it beat estimates for quarterly same-store sales as a strong vaccination drive and stimulus checks encouraged shoppers to return to stores.

Looking at today's main event, investors will also focus on minutes from the Fed’s April policy meeting, where it stood pat on interest rates.

  • “We will scan the minutes for more details on policymakers’ view, but bearing in mind that we got to hear from some of them after the more-than-expected surge in inflation last week, we will treat the minutes as outdated,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group.
  •  “Today’s FOMC minutes could give a sigh of relief to globally worried investors,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote. "Any tightening on the Fed end would be a punch in the market’s face. But we know that the Fed will do its best to prevent that from happening."

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell the most in a week, with commodity and leisure shares sliding the most. The Stoxx Europe 600 Basic Resources Index (SXPP) fell for a second day, down as much as 3%, as iron ore futures halt a two-day rebound, with Chinese steel prices extending declines on the back of more government curbs. Diversified miners fell: Rio Tinto -2.5%, BHP -3.4%, Glencore - -2.1%, Anglo American -3.1%. Steelmakers also drop as China’s steelmaking hub of Tangshan tightens steel output curbs on pollution: ArcelorMittal -2.9%, Evraz -2.4%, Salzgitter -1.5%

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks declined with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 0.3%, ending a three-day win streak, as commodities-heavy Australia paced losses. Mainland China's CSI300 slipped 0.6% while Japan's Nikkei lost 1.1%. The Australian benchmark dropped almost 2%, the most since February and leading declines across the region. Materials and energy shares paced the selloff, as oil dropped on a rise in U.S. stockpiles and hopes for progress on an Iran nuclear deal. Mining giant BHP and Commonwealth Bank of Australia were the biggest drags on Australia’s key gauge. They also contributed most to losses in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, after tech titan Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. U.S. index futures slipped in Asian trading hours, extending the two-day slide in the cash market amid concerns over inflationary pressure from recent rises in commodity prices. Benchmarks in Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia and Indonesia also posted drops of about 1% or more. Hong Kong and South Korea were closed for holidays.

China’s equities fell for the first time in four days, driven by declines in energy shares as crude price headed for a back-to-back loss amid climbing U.S. stockpile and Iranian nuclear talks. The CSI 300 Index closed 0.3% lower. China Oilfield Services sank 4.9% to be one of the worst performers, while PetroChina and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp were some of the biggest drags on the gauge. Financial stocks were also a key driver for Wednesday’s loss, with China Merchants Bank sliding 2.1% after a three-day gain. Information technology was one of the rare bright spots in the market, as shares of Apple suppliers rallied after the U.S. company was reported to be preparing to release several new Mac laptops and desktops. Chinese authorities fired a warning shot about a recent surge in speculation on virtual currency, with a notice posted on the central bank’s official Wechat account banning financial and payment institutions from pricing products or services with the asset.

While investors are concerned about rising inflation, the Fed has stuck to the narrative that a recent rise in inflation would be transient and that it therefore should keep its easy monetary policy settings. The minutes from the Fed's April meeting, to be published late on Wednesday, are expected to repeat that message.

"Inflation remains the biggest theme, whether it is real and whether the Fed may need to change its policy because of that," said Kazushige Kaida, head of forex sales at State Street Bank's Tokyo branch. "At the moment, markets are putting faith, after a fashion, in the Fed's narrative."

In rates, as stocks sold off so did bonds, with Treasury futures near lows of the day into early U.S. session, leaving yields cheaper by almost 3bp across belly of the curve despite weakness in equity index futures. Supply is a factor with $27b 20-year new-issue auction at 1pm ET.  Treasury 10-year yields cheaper by ~2.6bp at 1.663%, wider by ~1bp vs bunds, 0.5bp vs gilts; 2s10s spread steeper by ~2.7bp with front-end yields relatively anchored. In Europe, Italian bonds fell as traders unwound long positions and as bets mounted the ECB will taper its pandemic bond-buying program in the summer. Germany’s 2-year yield rose to the highest since August and the 10-year yield climbed to peaks last seen in May 2019. Another soft German auction weighed on bunds during European morning.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rebounded after approaching a three-year low on Tuesday, and the dollar rose against all of its Group-of-10 peers. The euro erased gains after earlier climbing to $1.2245, the highest level since January. The pound was a tad lower, with data showing Britain’s inflation rate doubled in April, in line with expectations. Risk-sensitive Scandinavian and Antipodean currencies fell, led by Norway’s krone which traded on the back-foot as oil headed for a back-to- back loss after an industry report showed a rise in U.S. crude stockpiles and traders tracked talks between world powers on a revival of the Iran nuclear deal

In cryptos, Bitcoin dropped as much as 15% to hit its lowest level since early February and last stood at $38,250 , having lost almost half of its value from a peak of $64,895 hit just over a month ago. Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, changed hands at $2,677, down more than 25% from its record peak hit last Wednesday.

While cryptocurrencies were bruised by China's fresh ban on their transactions, they were not alone in facing pressure. Some commodities that have benefited from reflation trade have also lost steam, with U.S. lumber futures losing almost 25% in the last three sessions.

Oil prices pulled back also after media reports the United States and Iran have made progress on reviving a deal restricting the OPEC country's nuclear weapons development, a development that could lead to increased supply from Iran. U.S. crude futures dropped 0.9% to $64.9 per barrel while Brent futures lost 0.9% to $68.12 per barrel.

To the day ahead now, and the highlights include the release of the FOMC minutes from the April meeting, along with the ECB publishing their Financial Stability Review. Central bank speakers include the ECB’s Panetta, Rehn, Lane and Hernandez de Cos, along with the Fed’s Bullard and Bostic. Data highlights include the UK and Canadian CPI readings for April, along with EU new car registrations for April. Finally, earnings releases include Cisco Systems, Lowe’s, Target and TJX.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.69% to 4,094.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 1.12% to 438.06
  • MXAP down 0.6% to 203.38
  • MXAPJ down 0.6% to 681.68
  • Nikkei down 1.3% to 28,044.45
  • Topix down 0.7% to 1,895.24
  • Hang Seng Index up 1.4% to 28,593.81
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.5% to 3,510.97
  • Sensex down 0.4% to 49,994.19
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.9% to 6,931.66
  • Kospi up 1.2% to 3,173.05
  • Brent Futures down 1.21% to $67.88/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.35% to $1,862.92
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.16% to 89.894
  • German 10Y yield rose 1.5 bps to -0.088%
  • Euro little changed at $1.2216

Top Overnight News

  • The euro-area faces elevated risks to financial stability as it emerges from the pandemic with high debt burdens and “remarkable exuberance” in markets as bond yields rose, according to the European Central Bank
  • European Union lawmakers will vote to formally halt an investment agreement with China in response to sanctions against members of the bloc, Politico reported, adding to growing tensions between Brussels and BeijingBitcoin has erased all the gains it notched following Tesla Inc.’s Feb. 8 announcement that it would use corporate cash to buy the digital asset and accept it as a form of payment for its vehicles

A quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asian equity markets were mostly negative and US equity futures also extended on the losses seen during the prior session where energy led the declines as oil prices wobbled on reports of progress being made in the Iranian nuclear deal talks and housing names suffered following disappointing Housing Starts and Building Permits data. ASX 200 (-1.9%) underperformed after softer Consumer Confidence data and amid weakness in the commodity-related sectors with notable losses in the energy names after expectations of returning Iranian supply were stoked by comments from the Russian envoy to JCPOA talks who suggested important news is likely to be released this Wednesday and that negotiations have had major progress. However, it was then speculated that the announcement could be an extension of the temporary IAEA nuclear activity monitoring deal which is set to expire on Friday rather than a full return to the JCPOA, while the envoy also clarified that he didn’t say there was a breakthrough at the Vienna talks and noted that significant progress has been achieved but unresolved issues still remain with negotiators needing more time to finalise an agreement. Nikkei 225 (-1.3%) was also subdued and retreated beneath the 28k level with exporter sentiment in Tokyo not helped by a choppy currency and the ongoing COVID-19 state of emergency, while news of Japan boosting its support for domestic production of advanced semiconductors and batteries did little to spur risk appetite. Shanghai Comp. (-0.5%) conformed to the downbeat tone amid the absence of Hong Kong participants as the city, along with South Korea, observed the Buddha’s Birthday holiday. Nonetheless, the losses in the mainland were moderate compared with regional peers after US President Biden’s administration delayed the revamp of former US President Trump's blacklist for China investments which gave investors an additional 2 weeks to buy or sell securities in companies tied to the Chinese military with the deadline to complete transactions pushed backed to June 11th. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat with prices kept afloat by the weakness in stocks but with upside also capped after the recent choppy performance in T-notes and following lacklustre results at the 5yr JGB auction which showed a slump in the b/c from previous despite relatively inline accepted prices.

Top Asian News

  • Thailand Said to Plan $22 Billion Borrowing for Covid Relief
  • Bank Employees Among New Covid-19 Cases Found in Singapore
  • Adani Green to Buy SoftBank’s $3.5 Billion Renewables Unit
  • QIA Is Said to Mull Injecting HSBC Headquarters Into REIT

Stocks in Europe have continued drifting lower since the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.5%) in what has thus far been a continuation of the price action seen across equity futures overnight, and as APAC also traded with losses. The soured risk tone comes amid elevated yields, with the German 10yr topping -10bps for the first time in two years and its US counterpart steady above 1.65% ahead of FOMC Minutes. This sentiment has also reverberated into the US, with equity futures lower across the board and the NQ underperforming its peers, alluding to focus on the yield narrative. Back to Europe, broad-based losses are seen across the majors, but the periphery fares slightly better as the FTSE MIB (-1.0%) and the IBEX 35 (-0.5%) are somewhat cushioned by their significant exposure to the banking sector against the backdrop of higher yields. As such, banks reside as a top performer among European sectors that are in the red across the board. Meanwhile, some of the more defensive sectors have also made their way to the top of the pile since the cash open - with Food & Beverages, Health Care, Telecoms and Personal Household goods among the better performers. The other end of the spectrum is largely comprised of cyclical sectors, with Basic Resources, Travel, Oil & Gas, Autos and Tech among the straddlers. Individual movers are relatively scarce today, given the overarching macro theme and the simmering down of earnings. In terms of commentary on European equities, analysts at Barclays believe that the rally has faltered, although EPS upgrades and robust Q1 results point to equities having cheapened. The bank acknowledges that rising inflation expectations and policy jitters are taking their told on valuations, but “So long as EPS momentum is positive, equities can withstand higher rates, although future risk-adjusted returns may be lower”, the bank says as it forecasts above-trend GDP and EPS growth to persist in 2022.

Top European News

  • EU Lawmakers to Freeze China Investment Deal, Politico Says
  • Deutsche Taps Barclays’s Ross to Run U.K. Investment Banking
  • Inflation Rekindles Niche Market for Duration-Proof Credit (1)
  • London Tops Hong Kong For World’s Priciest Warehouse Space

In FX, the Greenback appears to have repelled the latest bout of selling pressure and clawed back some losses vs most major and EM rivals with the aid of a firmer rebound in US Treasury yields and curve re-steepening ahead of Usd 27 bn 20 year note supply. However, the concession for issuance has been more pronounced in EGBs, and the DXY has fallen into a lower range having edged a smidge closer to nearest support ahead of 89.500, at 89.686 before regaining composure to register an 89.959 recovery high thus far. Hence, the Dollar could well require more impetus and incentive to mount a meaningful rebound, like strong data in the ilk of last Wednesday’s inflation metrics, or severe risk aversion amidst the debt rout as today’s agenda is bare aside from further Fed commentary and the official account of April’s FOMC policy meeting.

  • AUD/NZD - No surprise to see the high beta, activity and commodity based currencies bear the brunt of the Buck revival, while the Aussie also has a downturn in Westpac consumer sentiment to consider before the spotlight shifts to jobs on Thursday. Aud/Usd is now testing support around 0.7750 after fading just shy of 0.7800 and topping the round number yesterday, with Nzd/Usd hovering around 0.7200 compared to almost 0.7250 and a fraction over 0.7270 on Tuesday ahead of NZ budget balance and net debt forecasts.
  • CHF/CAD/JPY - All unwinding recent gains vs their US counterpart, as the Franc retreats through 0.9000 and Loonie backtracks towards 1.2100 following a test of the big figure below against the backdrop of recoiling crude prices and awaiting Canadian CPI to see whether expectations for a pronounced acceleration in headline y/y inflation pans out. Elsewhere, the Yen is back under 109.00, though contained within a narrow range and still in an upward trend while holding well off recent lows.
  • GBP/EUR - Relative G10 outperformers, or rather displaying a decent resilient streak in the face of the Dollar comeback, and yield differentials are playing a key role as noted above given the heavy declines in Eurozone bonds and Gilts before, but not necessarily for German and UK auctions. Sterling may have gleaned some traction from firmer than forecast inflation prints, on balance, but Cable is looking toppy circa 1.4200 in contrast to Eur/Usd and Eur/Gbp appearing more underpinned above 1.2200 and 0.8600 respectively.

In commodities, WTI and Brent July contracts remain suppressed amid the positive omens emanating from JCPOA talks and against the backdrop of a firmer Dollar and soured market sentiment. Elaborating on the former, there has been no breakthrough on core sanction issues and nuclear issues – which are the key pillars for this deal. Negotiations will be taking a short break after today. However, according to WSJ's Norman, this is not a negative sign, and the “next stop likely IAEA-Iran extension", speculated to be announced today (timing TBC). ING maintains its view that the market should be able to absorb both Iranian oil and OPEC+ supply. The Dutch bank expects the return of 3mln BPD of Iranian supply by Q4 2021, whilst the National Iranian Oil Co.’s most optimistic scenario points to pre-sanction production of almost 4mln BPD in as little as three months. The morning also saw commentary from Russian Deputy PM Novak, who suggested that global oil prices being broadly stable remarked that the market is balanced, and demand is slightly exceeding supply. Over in the West, the smaller-than-expected build in the Private inventory report last night was largely overlooked ahead of today's EIA numbers (crude forecast +1.62mln bbls) which are expected to be distorted by the Colonial Pipeline outage. As a reminder, a significant draw is expected in East Coast product stocks alongside builds in crude and products from US Gulf Coast and a decline in refining activity. WTI resides near USD 64.00/bbl (vs high 65.35/bbl) while its counterpart has dipped below USD 67.50/bbl (vs high 67.46/bbl). Elsewhere, spot gold and silver have been on a downward path as the earlier countering yield/Dollar dynamics shifted as the Buck saw a rebound, thus providing a bearish environment for precious metals in terms of higher yields and a firmer Dollar. Precious metals are also on the backfoot, with LME copper pulling back after topping USD 10,500/t yesterday, with some also attributing Glencore’s plans for a new copper mine next year as a near-term headwind.

US Event Calendar

  • 7am: May MBA Mortgage Applications, prior 2.1%
  • 10am: Fed’s Bullard Discusses Economic Outlook
  • 10am: Fed’s Quarles Testifies Before House Financial Services Panel
  • 11:35am: Fed’s Bostic Interviewed at Businessweek/Bloomberg Event
  • 2pm: April FOMC Meeting Minutes

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

After a quiet day a late session US sell-off was the main theme yesterday. The S&P 500 fell back in the last couple of hours of trading, most of it in the last 15 minutes, and closed -0.85% lower. The S&P earlier traded in a tight 16pt range (0.4%) for much of the day before the move lower. The catalyst seemed to be partly due to news filtering through that the Biden administration have delayed updating the Trump-era ban on China investments. This at the same time as headlines came through that Speaker Pelosi has proposed a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympic games, citing human rights concerns.

Tech stocks “outperformed”, with the NASDAQ (-0.56%) and the FANG+ (-0.55%) both beating the S&P, though that’s in the context of a relatively poor month for them on the back of fears over higher interest rates. Europe’s STOXX 600 (+0.17%) earlier experienced modest gains and missed the late sell-off.

On the earnings side, Walmart rose +2.11% after the company announced another strong performance in Q1, with comparable sales ex fuel up +6.0% year-on-year, whilst they raised their Q2 and full-year outlook. Staying with corporates Bank of America became the latest company to raise its minimum wage (from $20 to $25/hr). It seems this is partly to attract talent and partly for social reasons. ESG has been a part of minimum wage increases in recent times and maybe we’re seeing a perfect storm of this plus labour supply shortages. The thing is once you raise your minimum wage you are not going to then reduce it.

For sovereign bonds there weren’t too many headlines either, though 10yr bund yields were up +1.2bps to -0.10%, marking their highest level in almost 2 years. Elsewhere however, yields ended the day lower, with those on 10yr Treasuries (-1.2bps), gilts (-0.3bps) and BTPs (-0.3bps) all falling back. A reminder that my CoTD looked at the AA government bond that has lost 40% of its value since December and would take nearly half a century to make up those loses from coupons alone. See here for the full details.

Asian markets have largely taken Wall Street’s lead this morning with the Nikkei (-1.42%), Shanghai Comp (-0.41%) and Asx (-2.05%) all down. Markets in Hong Kong and South Korea are closed for a holiday. Futures on the S&P 500 are down -0.33% at this point while the Stoxx 50 is down a larger -0.97% as they try to play catch up with yesterday’s late US equities move. Elsewhere, Bitcoin is down -c.9% this morning (c.-3% yesterday) to under $40,000 after the PBoC reiterated that digital tokens can’t be used as a form of payment. It’s down around -30% over the last 10 days now. Other cryptocurrencies are also under pressure.

In other overnight news, Politico reported that the EU law makers will mostly vote yes on the motion to freeze the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China tomorrow. They will demand that China lift sanctions before any progress is made on the deal, which took seven years to negotiate.

In terms of the latest on the Pandemic, India’s Serum Institute has said that it will prioritise making vaccines for India and would delay deliveries to other nations and the WHO backed Covax initiative until the end of the year. Meanwhile, Singapore has decided to increase the time between two vaccine doses in an effort to administer first shots to more adults as it races to stem transmissions. The Country recorded 27 new cases in the past 24 hours of which 11 cases have not been traceable in the community.

Elsewhere in markets yesterday, there were some notable moves in FX, as the dollar index weakened a further -0.46% to its lowest level in over 4 months. The greenback now sits less than 0.4% away from its 3 year lows. Simultaneously, that saw the Euro move back above $1.22 in trading for the first time since February.

Speaking of currencies, our FX Research colleagues released their latest blueprint yesterday, which you can read here. They started the year cautious on selling the dollar ahead of American vaccine and fiscal leadership, but now see catchup as the main theme. Their view is that we’re past the peak of repricing US exceptionalism, global growth should broaden and the vaccine and growth laggards should bounce back. In turn, this should be conducive to a return of broader USD weakness and they see European currencies as the prime beneficiaries.

In the commodities sphere, Brent crude oil had been trading above $70/bbl at one point for the first time in a couple of months, though it gave up its gains later in the session to close -1.08% lower at $68.71, while WTI was also down -1.18%. This slight pullback was in line with that elsewhere in commodity market, with the Bloomberg Commodity Spot index losing -0.11%. WTI and Brent are also down a further c. -1% overnight as a report from the American Petroleum Institute showed that the US oil stockpiles increased by 620,000 barrels last week. Oil prices have also been weighed down by the likelihood of a return to the 2015 Iranian agreement which could pave the way for the removal of US sanctions and raise their crude oil exports.

From central banks, BoE Governor Bailey testified before the House of Lords yesterday. He hit on a refrain that we have mostly heard from the other side of the Atlantic in recent weeks when he said that while he and his colleagues see inflation rising in the next month or so, these effects will be “temporary.” Deputy Governor Ramsden sees inflation expectations “well anchored” but the MPC “remains vigilant”.

Running through yesterday’s data, US housing releases saw a slight miss relative to expectations, with housing starts down to an annualised rate of 1.569m in April (vs. 1.704m expected), while building permits came in at 1.760m (vs. 1.770m expected). Construction may have been held back in recent weeks due to higher material costs, especially lumber. There was also possibly some weather effects as the previous housing starts in March was much larger than expected after bad weather in February caused fewer starts. Elsewhere there was a decent labour market report from the UK, with the unemployment rate unexpectedly falling back to 4.8% in the three months through March (vs. 4.9% expected), while the number of payrolled employees in April was up +97k on the previous month according to HMRC estimates.

To the day ahead now, and the highlights include the release of the FOMC minutes from the April meeting, along with the ECB publishing their Financial Stability Review. Central bank speakers include the ECB’s Panetta, Rehn, Lane and Hernandez de Cos, along with the Fed’s Bullard and Bostic. Data highlights include the UK and Canadian CPI readings for April, along with EU new car registrations for April. Finally, earnings releases include Cisco Systems, Lowe’s, Target and TJX.

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/19/2021 - 07:49
Published:5/19/2021 6:56:42 AM
[Markets] Incoming Geomagnetic Storm Expected To Hit Earth Tuesday  Incoming Geomagnetic Storm Expected To Hit Earth Tuesday 

This week's solar activity report shows a geomagnetic storm watch is in effect between May 18-19. Two Earth-facing sunspots have been identified by NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) satellite and could produce storms as early as Tuesday. 

NASA designated the sunspots as AR2822 and AR2823 and are Earth-facing. 

Space Weather's Tony Phillips wrote:

"Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on May 18-19 when a pair of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field.

"The two CMEs left the sun on consecutive days: One from sunspot AR2822 on May 13th, the next from sunspot AR2823 on May 14th.

"Individually, the CMEs appear to be weak and insubstantial; however, they could add up to a geomagnetic storm when they arrive in quick succession this Tuesday."

Sunspots are mostly harmless, but the resulting solar flares that bombard Earth's magnetosphere could produce a stunning light show in the sky as the atmosphere deflects the solar particles. If a geomagnetic disturbance is strong enough, it could disrupt satellite communication, GPS signal, land-based communication equipment, and power grids. 

So far, the Planetary K-index (real-time solar activity provided by SolarHam) that measures the intensity of a geomagnetic storm shows lower solar activity on Monday morning but is expected to surge on Tuesday. 

SolarHam's Planetary K-index is estimated to jump to 5 on Tuesday. 

Expect geomagnetic disturbances at higher latitudes. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/17/2021 - 19:10
Published:5/17/2021 6:15:47 PM
[Markets] Megadrought Nightmare: No Water For Crops, Horrific Wildfires, Colossal Dust Storms And Draconian Water Restrictions Megadrought Nightmare: No Water For Crops, Horrific Wildfires, Colossal Dust Storms And Draconian Water Restrictions

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

The megadrought that has almost the entire western half of the country in a death grip is starting to become extremely painful.  In some areas, irrigation water is being totally cut off for farmers, and that is going to result in a totally lost year for many of them.  Without water, you simply cannot grow crops, and irrigation water is the difference between success and failure for multitudes of western farmers.  Scientists are also warning that this upcoming wildfire season could be even worse than last year due to the bone dry conditions.  For me, it is difficult to imagine a wildfire season that is any worse than what we experienced in 2021.  But this is what they are telling us.  This megadrought has already been going on for many years, and experts are giving us very little hope that things will improve any time in the foreseeable future.  In fact, CBS News is reporting that this current drought is in danger of evolving into a “permanent drought”…

Extreme drought across the Western U.S. has become as reliable as a summer afternoon thunderstorm in Florida. And news headlines about drought in the West can seem a bit like a broken record, with some scientists saying the region is on the precipice of permanent drought.

Even during the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930s, there was always hope that the drought would end and normal conditions would return.

But now we are being told that this is the new normal.

The western half of the country desperately needed a healthy level of precipitation during last winter’s “wet season”, but instead conditions were much drier than usual

Consequently, this past winter’s wet season was not very wet at all. In fact, it just added insult to injury, with only 25 to 50% of normal rainfall falling across much of the Southwest and California. This followed one of the driest and hottest summers in modern times, with two historic heat waves, a summer monsoon cycle that simply did not even show up and the worst fire season in modern times.

Now we are moving into “the dry season”, and there simply is not enough water for everyone.

Along the California-Oregon border, things just went from bad to worse.  Farmers in the region already knew that they would be getting much less water this year, but now federal officials have decided to completely shut the water off for most farmers…

The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic this week as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year.

In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. The agency announced last month that hundreds of irrigators would get dramatically less water than usual, but a worsening drought picture means water will be completely shut off instead.

Needless to say, for many of them no water will mean no crops.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has already declared a drought emergency.

So has California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The state of California grows more of our vegetables than anyone else does, and this growing water crisis is forcing many farmers in the state to make some heartbreaking decisions

With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery shelves.

In many instances, farmers are destroying some of their crops in order to give other crops half a chance of making it.

For example, farmer Joe Del Bosque just destroyed all of the asparagus he was growing in order to use water elsewhere…

“There’s been a blade that’s cut underneath and these here, they are green still but they are going to die,” explained Del Bosque.

The loss of asparagus means 50-60 farmworkers are out of a job next year.

If more crops are lost, jobs will follow.

This is already a major national crisis, and it is getting worse with each passing month.

According to the NOAA, the soil moisture content in our southwestern states is now the lowest it has been “in at least 120 years”

Kelsey Satalino, the Digital Communications Coordinator from NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System, says that during the past few months, several states including Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah experienced their most intense period of drought since the Drought Monitor began back in 2000. As a result, soil moisture content is at its lowest levels in at least 120 years.

That means that things weren’t even this bad during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.

As I have discussed in previous articles, colossal dust storms are now regularly happening in the western half of the country.

In fact, some of them are so large you can see them from space.

In addition to being extremely unpleasant, these dust storms can also spread fungal spores that cause Valley fever.  The following comes from NASA

Valley fever is a dangerous threat to human health – and cases are on the rise in the arid southwestern United States, as wind from increasing dust storms can transport the fungal spores that cause the disease. Valley fever is caused by the Coccidioides fungus, which grows in dirt and fields and can cause fever, rash and coughing. Using NASA research and satellite data, the World Meteorological Organization is refining its Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System to help forecast where dust risk is greatest.

In my most recent book, I warned that “record drought” was coming, and now it is here.

Sadly, extremely dry conditions create an ideal environment for wildfires.

Last year’s wildfire season was a complete and utter nightmare, but now officials are warning that 2021 could be even worse.

Could that be possible?

It is hard to imagine anything worse than what we witnessed in California last year, but it appears that things are off to an even earlier start this year.

At this moment, an absolutely massive fire is burning out of control in Los Angeles County

Los Angeles County authorities looked Sunday for a potential arsonist who might have set off a brush fire that forced the mandatory evacuation of about 1,000 people in the exclusive Pacific Palisades area near Topanga Canyon.

Cool and wet conditions overnight helped prevent the Palisades Fire from spreading beyond the 750 acres it had reached Saturday, but the LA Fire Department said in an update Sunday morning that warming weather and afternoon winds may push the blaze northwest – threatening homes – as it rips through dense mountain vegetation that “is very dry and has not burned in 50+ years.’’

It almost seems like the west coast is under some sort of a curse.

Whenever it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, somehow they do.

Scientists tell us that another very dry summer is looming, and that is extremely bad news for the entire region.

Dust Bowl conditions have returned, and it appears that they will be with us for a long time to come.

*  *  *

Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/17/2021 - 15:35
Published:5/17/2021 2:45:34 PM
[Markets] NASA Rocket Launch Could Dazzle Saturday Night Sky In Eastern US NASA Rocket Launch Could Dazzle Saturday Night Sky In Eastern US

Tens of millions of Americans could be in for a dazzling optical treat Saturday evening as NASA gears up to launch its Black Brant XII sounding rocket carrying the KiNET-X payload from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. 

A four-stage Black Brant XII rocket carrying the KiNET-X payload will be launched around 2010 ET Saturday. There is a 40-minute launch window. 

The rocket "will be used for the mission that includes the release of barium vapor that will form two green-violet clouds that may be visible for about 30 seconds," NASA said. 

The mission is called KiNETic-scale energy and momentum transport eXperiment, or KiNet-X. Researchers want to study a fundamental problem in space plasmas: how are energy and momentum transported between different regions of space magnetically connected? 

What makes this launch so different from Central Florida ones is that barium vapor tracers will be visible for much of the eastern US from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River.

Here's an example of what millions of Americans might see on Saturday night, weather permitting, of course...

Live coverage of the launch will be made available on the Wallops IBM video site around 1940 ET on launch day. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/15/2021 - 19:00
Published:5/15/2021 6:03:34 PM
[Markets] China May Attempt To Land Mars Rover Today China May Attempt To Land Mars Rover Today

From currency war, to trade war, to tech war, to climate war, and now to space war, the superpower rivalry between the US and China continues to flare up with Beijing expected to land its rover on the red planet today. 

CNET reports that the China National Space Administration's (CNSA) spacecraft, which has been orbiting Mars since February, is expected to enter the Martian atmosphere at 7:11 p.m. ET. CNET cites multiple Twitter accounts that monitor China's space programs, though we must point out CNSA has yet to confirm the timing. 

The spacecraft is expected to descend into the atmosphere for approximately seven minutes. Then deploy a parachute with a lander and rover. 

The rover, called Zhurong, will be China's first attempt to probe the surface of the Red Planet in an ambitious mission called "Tianwen-1" which was first launched in July 2020. 

If all goes well this evening, the lander will smoothly touch down and will later deploy a 530-pound, solar-powered rover ready to explore the surface for water ice. The mission will allow China to map out the surface of Mars and prepare for future flights where it can send a spacecraft to the planet and return rocks or dirt to Earth. 

Zhurong is set to explore Utopia Planitia for 90 Martian days, according to the Tianwen-1 team.

Meanwhile, NASA landed the Mars Perseverance rover in February, searched for signs of ancient life, and collected rock samples for a possible return to Earth. The rover also launched a helicopter called Ingenuity, which has flown five flights, taking off vertically, hovering, and landing.

The US and China have taken an interest in Mars because it is packed with rare metals, including lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, niobium, molybdenum, lanthanum, europium, tungsten, and gold, essential minerals that will power the economy of tomorrow. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/14/2021 - 15:39
Published:5/14/2021 2:53:13 PM
[Right Column] ‘Maybe the Pipeline Terrorists Are Just Environmentalists’ – Flashback: ‘We will dismantle the Pipeline…by any means necessary’

Kyle Smith: "Joe should ask his close pal Jimmy Carter how spending four years in perpetual scrambling mode worked out...If Biden himself were not on record as being himself a fan of shutting down fuel pipelines — Keystone XL not only was a menace to our American way of life by bringing us energy, Biden thought it had to be cut off before his first afternoon nap — this brewing crisis wouldn’t be so potentially damaging to him. Biden is an ardently pro-fuel-limits guy in a moment when fuel is limited. As one of his other first acts in office — “Let’s own Trump by endangering our energy future” — he also banned new fracking leases on federal land. Maybe it would be nice to have more energy supply rather than less given what’s happened since? Prices are already ticking up at the pump. The media can hide Hunter Biden’s influence-peddling and downplay Joe Biden’s lying, but they can’t hide gas prices."

#

Flashback 2013: Watch Video: Eco-Terror Threats Issued at Rally: Climate Depot attended: ‘We will dismantle the Pipeline’ sign prominently displayed at rally — ‘By any means necessary’

NASA’s James Hansen, a muse to Eco-Terrorists?! Morano on Fox News: ‘NASA’s resident ex-con James Hansen is inspiring these people to potential acts of eco-terrorism’ — Eco-activists at DC Climate Rally: ‘Dismantle’ Keystone pipeline by ‘any means necessary’ – Cite Hansen as their inspiration

2010: NASA scientist James Hansen endorses book which calls for ‘ridding the world of Industrial Civilization’ – Hansen declares author ‘has it right…the system is the problem’ — Book proposes ‘razing cities to the ground, blowing up dams and switching off the greenhouse gas emissions machine’

Watch Now: Morano on TV on NASA’s retired ex-con James Hansen: ‘Hansen saying the Keystone pipeline means ‘game over’ for climate, is a fancy way of saying it’s ‘game over’ for what little credibility Hansen had left when it came to climate science’.

NASA’s James Hansen, a muse to Eco-Terrorists?! Morano on Fox News: ‘NASA’s resident ex-con James Hansen is inspiring these people to potential acts of eco-terrorism’ — Eco-activists at DC Climate Rally: ‘Dismantle’ Keystone pipeline by ‘any means necessary’ – Cite Hansen as their inspiration

Published:5/12/2021 11:38:21 AM
[Uncategorized] NASA Slams China as Out-of-Control Rocket Splashes Into Indian Ocean

Rocket was used to launch a module headed to Chinese Space Station, which is slated to be fully operational in 2022.

The post NASA Slams China as Out-of-Control Rocket Splashes Into Indian Ocean first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:5/10/2021 2:25:31 PM
[Markets] The Mystery Of Dark Energy The Mystery Of Dark Energy

Authored by Alex Kimani via OilPrice.com,

"Dark energy is not only terribly important for astronomy, it's the central problem for physics. It's been the bone in our throat for a long time."

- Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate, University of Texas at Austin.

More than three years into its quest to solve the nature of dark energy and illuminate the origin, evolution, and fate of our universe, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) project remains on track to complete the largest map of the cosmos ever.

HEDTEX, a project by Penn State University scientists, aims to create a three-dimensional map of 2.5 million galaxies that will yield valuable insights into the byzantine puzzle of why the expansion of the universe is speeding up over time, a property attributed to the so-called dark energy.

But first things first, what exactly is dark energy?

Dark energy in an expanding universe

Source: NASA.org

The observable universe consists of three known components: normal matter, dark matter, and dark energy. Dark energy is the most abundant at 68%, with dark energy making up another 27% of the universe while ordinary matter constitutes just 5%.

Today, there is consensus among astronomers that the universe we inhabit is expanding despite the presence of gravity, and that its expansion is accelerating, giving rise to the notion of a repulsive force that astronomers have dubbed 'dark energy,' though the concept has only been around for a little more than 20 years. Generally, astronomers and astrophysicists assign the prefix 'dark' to concepts they have little or no clue about.

Dark energy is the name given to the mysterious force that's causing the rate of expansion of our universe to accelerate, rather than to slow down and go out in a Big Crunch as it ages. That's contrary to what one might expect from a universe that was birthed by an event like the Big Bang

Back in 1917 when Albert Einstein came up with the general theory of relativity that laid the foundations of the Big Bang and the universe as a whole, he and most leading scientists were convinced that the cosmos was static and non-expanding. Einstein introduced the Cosmological Constant to help explain why the universe was not collapsing under the attractive force of gravity.

It wasn't until 12 years later when Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is in fact expanding, with galaxies farther away from our planet moving away faster than those that are closer. The model of a static universe was finally abandoned, forcing Einstein to quickly modify his theories and come up with two new distinct models of the expanding universe, both of them without the cosmological constant, just a year later.

However, it would be decades later--1998 to be precise--before astronomers discovered that the universe was dominated by dark energy and not normal matter as earlier thought.

Solving dark energy

More than two decades after the discovery of dark energy, astronomers remain in the dark regarding what it's all about.

However, several theories have been advanced to attempt to explain dark energy.

Ironically, Einstein's previously abandoned cosmological constant is one of the frontrunners, which modern-day physicists describe as vacuum energy.

"The vacuum in physics is not a state of nothing. It's a place where particles and antiparticles are continuously created and destroyed. The energy produced in this perpetual cycle could exert an outward-pushing force on space itself, causing its expansion, initiated in the big bang, to accelerate," says Penn State University Associate Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Donghui Jeong.

But here's the rub with the concept of vacuum energy: The theoretical calculations of vacuum energy diverge from actual observations by a factor of as much as 10120.

Clearly this is a massive discrepancy that could necessitate a reworking of the current theory. 

Another possibility: Einstein's theory of gravity is wrong from the get-go hence leading to erroneous conclusions.

Nonetheless, the cosmological constant in the form of vacuum energy remains the leading candidate that explains dark energy.

HETDEX ambition

Obviously, mapping 2.5 million galaxies is no mean undertaking and requires quite a bit of elbow grease. This is not made any easier by the fact that whereas other comparable studies measure the universe's expansion using distant supernovae or a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, HETDEX is focused on sound waves from the big bang, called baryonic acoustic oscillations. 

Luckily, HETDEX has secured more than $40 million in funding and a set of more than 150 spectrographs called VIRUS (Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrographs), that gathers light from far-away galaxies into an array of some 35,000 optical fibers where it is split into its component wavelengths.

Another perk: HETDEX is the first probe to try to do a whole lot of spectroscopy and then figure out what they will see by observing broad swaths of sky instead of specific, predetermined objects, meaning they will end up collecting an insane amount of data. Who knows, that treasure trove might yield unexpected insights that might help mankind in its quest to eventually colonize the universe.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/09/2021 - 19:05
Published:5/9/2021 6:21:46 PM
[Markets] "Off To New Places" - Mars Helicopter Prepares For Fifth Flight, A One-Way Trip On Friday "Off To New Places" - Mars Helicopter Prepares For Fifth Flight, A One-Way Trip On Friday

NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter is preparing to explore a new region of the Red Planet today on its fifth scheduled flight (3:26 p.m. EDT, or 12:26 p.m. PDT), with flight data coming in around 7:31 p.m. EDT (4:31 p.m. PDT). 

If all goes well, the 4-pound helicopter will climb 16 feet, then retrace flight four, heading south 423 feet. But instead of heading back to home base, the aircraft will soar to an altitude, a new height record, of 33 feet, where it will take color (as well as black-and-white) photos of the Red Planet. This flight is expected to last about 110 seconds and will be a one-way trip. 

"But instead of turning around and heading back, we'll actually climb to a new height record of 33 feet (10 meters), where we can take some color (as well as black-and-white) images of the area," Josh Ravich, Ingenuity mechanical engineering lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, wrote in a blog post Thursday. 

"After a total flight time of about 110 seconds, Ingenuity will land, completing its first one-way trip," Ravich added. "When it touches down at its new location, we will embark on a new demonstration phase — one where we exhibit what this new technology can do to assist other missions down the road."

Ingenuity landed with NASA's Perseverance rover on Feb. 18 and deployed two months later from the belly of the land-based robot. The helicopter has already completed four flights in three weeks and plans more daring flights as an aerial exploration scout. 

More developments will come this evening when NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory will announce how the flight went on its Twitter account. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/07/2021 - 14:59
Published:5/7/2021 2:02:48 PM
[International] No, NASA Should Not Get in Bed With China’s Space Program

The International Space Station is getting a new neighbor. The People’s Republic of China launched the “Tianhe” (Heavenly Harmony ) module of its new space... Read More

The post No, NASA Should Not Get in Bed With China’s Space Program appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:5/6/2021 4:26:30 PM
[Science, Technology, and Social Media] Bid for the very first seat on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

By Duncan Idaho -

On July 20th, New Shepard will fly its first astronaut crew to space. We are offering one seat on this first flight to the winning bidder of Blue Origin’s online auction. Starting today, anyone can place an opening bid by going to BlueOrigin.com. Here are the three phases of the auction: …

Bid for the very first seat on Blue Origin’s New Shepard is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:5/5/2021 3:18:10 PM
[Markets] Earth Helpless Against Giant Asteroids As NASA Simulation Ends In Doom Earth Helpless Against Giant Asteroids As NASA Simulation Ends In Doom

According to simulations conducted by leading space agencies, Earth lacks the technology to stop a massive asteroid from wiping out Europe, according to the Independent.

The week-long exercise led by Nasa concluded that catastrophe would be unavoidable, even given six months to prepare.

The hypothetical impact scenario, which took place during a planetary defence conference hosted by the United Nations, proved that governments are woefully unprepared for this kind of disaster. -Independent

"If confronted with the scenario in real life, we would not be able to launch any spacecraft on such short notice with current capabilities," said the participants.

According to the report, the only thing humanity could do in such an event is to evacuate the area before the asteroid hit - though the scenario's impact zone was across a large swath of North Africa and Europe.

"Each time we participate in exercises of this nature, we learn more about who the key players are in a disaster event, and who needs to know what information and when," said NASA Planetary Defense Officer, Lindley Johnson.

"These exercises ultimately help the planetary defence community communicate with each other and with our governments to ensure we are all coordinated should a potential impact threat be identified in the future."

Responding to the news of the failure, SpaceX boss Elon Musk said the lack of solution was “one of many reasons why we need larger and more advanced rockets”.

 

SpaceX recently secured a $2.89 billion contract with Nasa to develop its next-generation Starship spacecraft, which is being built to transport people and cargo around the Solar System.

According to SpaceX, Starship combined with its Super Heavy rocket booster will be "the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed," and could theoretically alter the trajectory of an Earth-bound asteroid.

Meanwhile, NASA is already working on technology to deflect asteroids - and will launch a test mission of its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) system later this year before reaching the asteroid Dimorphos next autumn. The test aims to change the orbit of the asteroid in the hopes of proving that such a system would be a viable defense against near-Earth objects (NEO) in the future.

"DART will be the first test for planetary defence, and the data returned after it impacts Dimorphos will help scientists better understand one way we might mitigate a potentially hazardous NEO discovered in the future," said DART program executive, Andrea Riley. "While the asteroid DART impacts poses no threat to Earth, it is in a perfect location for us to perform this test of the technology before it may actually be needed."

At present, NASA is discovering around 30 new NEOs per week, on top of the roughly 25,000 the agency is currently tracking.

Or, they could just call Bruce Willis...

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/03/2021 - 23:40
Published:5/3/2021 10:40:40 PM
[Uncategorized] NASA Tells Elon Musk’s SpaceX to Stop Work on Lunar Landing After Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins Protested Contract

Meanwhile, SpaceX successfully completes company's first full-fledged crewed mission to the International Space Station.

The post NASA Tells Elon Musk’s SpaceX to Stop Work on Lunar Landing After Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins Protested Contract first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:5/3/2021 2:04:16 PM
[Uncategorized] NASA Extends Ingenuity Helicopter Missions After Four Successful Flights on Mars

Perseverance rover's MOXIE oxygen-generator successfully created 5 grams of life-essential gas.

The post NASA Extends Ingenuity Helicopter Missions After Four Successful Flights on Mars first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:5/3/2021 10:03:06 AM
[Markets] SpaceX Capsule Successfully Returns 4 Astronauts From ISS In First Nighttime Splashdown Since 1968 SpaceX Capsule Successfully Returns 4 Astronauts From ISS In First Nighttime Splashdown Since 1968

Four astronauts have successfully returned to Earth from the International Space Station early Sunday morning in a "splashdown" that took place in the Gulf of Mexico.

Returning in a SpaceX capsule, the astronauts marked the first nighttime return to earth for NASA "in decades", according to the Wall Street Journal

The Crew Dragon Resilience made its "soft splashdown" at 2:57am on Sunday and was then hoisted into a recovery vessel near Panama City, Florida. The astronauts had been in space for 168 days, completing SpaceX's first "operational round trip mission".

The crew, consisting of National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, was brought into orbit last year, before docking with the ISS.

Photo: WSJ

NASA and SpaceX are reportedly falling into an operational "cadence" with one another, with the return of the four astronauts marking the latest in a series of milestones for the two agencies. The two agencies "have regularly scheduled human shuttles to and from space using the company’s commercially built rockets and capsules," according to the Journal. 

Another crew of four is also at the International Space Station, beginning their mission, after being launched into orbit last month on a SpaceX rocket. 

SpaceX intends on launching 7 capsules for NASA, including three cargo variants, over the next 15 months, the report said.

Apollo 8 was the last nighttime splashdown, which occurred after the mission orbited the moon in 1968.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:25
Published:5/2/2021 11:26:31 AM
[Markets] NASA's Mars Helicopter To Push Limits On Fourth Flight  NASA's Mars Helicopter To Push Limits On Fourth Flight 

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity is ready for the boldest flight yet in the skies of Mars, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. 

The 4-pound helicopter will attempt its fourth flight today on the Red Planet. The flight will begin at 1012 ET, and streaming data won't be received by NASA's JPL until 1321 ET. We would assume shortly after, Twitter handle NASA JPL will release images and or videos of the flight. 

According to the fourth flight plan, Ingenuity is expected to autonomously fly south for 276 feet at an altitude of 16 feet and pass over rocks, impact craters, and sand ripples. "As it flies, the rotorcraft will use its downward-looking navigation camera to collect images of the surface every 4 feet (1.2 meters) from that point until it travels a total of 436 feet (133 meters) downrange. Then, Ingenuity will go into a hover and take images with its color camera before heading back to Wright Brothers Field," NASA's JPL said. 

"To achieve the distance necessary for this scouting flight, we're going to break our own Mars records set during flight three," said Mars Helicopter backup pilot Johnny Lam. "We're upping the time airborne from 80 seconds to 117, increasing our max airspeed from 2 meters per second to 3.5 (4.5 mph to 8), and more than doubling our total range."

The Perseverance rover also capture images and video of Ingenuity's flight.

It's no surprise that Ingenuity has garnered so much attention because it's the first aircraft to operate on a different planet. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 04/29/2021 - 12:40
Published:4/29/2021 11:45:03 AM
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