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[Markets] Despotism Is The New Normal: Looming Threats To Freedom In 2022 Despotism Is The New Normal: Looming Threats To Freedom In 2022

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

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

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

Despotism has become our new normal.

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

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

This present trajectory is unsustainable. The center cannot hold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In such a scenario, no one wins.

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/08/2022 - 23:30
Published:1/9/2022 3:35:14 AM
[Markets] Expect A "Blue Wave Of Gun Control" In 2022 Expect A "Blue Wave Of Gun Control" In 2022

Submitted by The Machine Gun Nest (TMGN).,

Governing By Executive Fiat. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/06/2022 - 23:40
Published:1/7/2022 12:35:54 AM
[Blogging] Free yourselves! Dump Twitter and Facebook! Here are the alternatives

  Facebook recently locked up the account of “Heros of Liberty” only to later backtrack following the uproar, saying it was an “error.” It was one of those “errors” that only happen conservatives. Facebook originally said that Heroes of Liberty – which has published books about Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, former President Ronald […]

The post Free yourselves! Dump Twitter and Facebook! Here are the alternatives appeared first on Flopping Aces.

Published:1/4/2022 2:33:55 PM
[World] [Josh Blackman] How Justices Scalia, Sotomayor, and Breyer Inscribed Books to RBG Justice Ginsburg's books are up for auction. Published:1/4/2022 2:33:54 PM
[Markets] 2021 Auto Sales Are In: Ford Shares Surge On F-150 Demand, Toyota Overtakes GM In U.S. 2021 Auto Sales Are In: Ford Shares Surge On F-150 Demand, Toyota Overtakes GM In U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Developing...

Tyler Durden Tue, 01/04/2022 - 15:20
Published:1/4/2022 2:33:54 PM
[Society] Three Books for Liberty-Loving Readers in 2022

This time of year, dear readers, is when us writers curate lists. Some are about the best movies, top kitchen appliances, or favorite new songs... Read More

The post Three Books for Liberty-Loving Readers in 2022 appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:12/29/2021 4:07:09 PM
[Markets] Dow, S&P 500 end at records Wednesday as stocks rally in final week of 2021 The Dow claims its first record close in almost two months on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 index books its 70th record finish of 2021 and the Nasdaq Composite ends slightly lower as longer-term Treasury yields climb. Published:12/29/2021 3:35:01 PM
[Discoveries] 130-year-old time capsule found in base of statue of Confederate general

 

Time capsule
The box will be opened on Tuesday,
 said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. Twitter

WASHINGTON: Workers dismantling a Confederate general's statue pedestal discovered a copper box believed to be buried 130 years ago, the second apparent time capsule unearthed at the site.

site.

 Virginia Governor Ralph Northam tweeted along with pictures of the box. 

"This is probably the time capsule everyone has been looking for. According to an 1887 newspaper article, a time capsule hidden at the foot of the statue of General Robert E.Lee of the Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War contained relics such as buttons and balls, Confederate currency, cards, a rare picture of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in his coffin and other items, the box will open at 1:00 p.m. (1800 GMT) Tuesday, Northam said in a subsequent tweet, adding that it was "Experts believe there could be coins, books, buttons and even ammunition from the Civil War," he said. 

The statue's base was opened by Conservatives last week, but it clearly wasn't the capsule in that time the 1887 newspaper article because it contained three soaked books, a photo in a soaked cloth cover, and a coin.

 The items appeared to be memorabilia left for posterity by some of the workers who erected the statue. The time capsule found on Monday is roughly twice as big. Lee's statue in Richmond, the city of Virginia, which was the southern capital during the bloody conflict of 1861-65, was overthrown in September, one of several memorials the Pro-Slavery Confederation has seen in recent months. The statue became the focus of protests against racial justice last year after the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white Minnesota police officer. During the Civil War, the Confederate southern states separated from the United States and fought to maintain slavery, which the rest of the country had abolished.

Published:12/28/2021 6:25:23 PM
[Podcasts] The Books of 2021
Podcast: the books of the year.
View Post
Published:12/27/2021 1:23:49 PM
[Markets] Is This The Beginning Of The End For Gun Control? Is This The Beginning Of The End For Gun Control?

Submitted by The Machine Gun Nest (TMGN).,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/17/2021 - 23:55
Published:12/18/2021 2:24:20 AM
[Society] 27 Books That Would Make a Great Gift This Christmas

Over the course of 2021, my Daily Signal colleagues and I had the opportunity to interview many talented authors with incredible stories. We’ve enjoyed featuring... Read More

The post 27 Books That Would Make a Great Gift This Christmas appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:11/26/2021 8:24:23 AM
[Markets] Worldwide Vaccine Failure Worldwide Vaccine Failure

Authored by Alex Berenson via 'Unreported Truths' Substack,

From Singapore to the Netherlands to Iceland to Vermont. And coming soon to the entire northern half of the United States...

This is not how it was supposed to go.

Deaths hitting new highs in Singapore (85% of the population fully vaccinated - NOT adults, the entire population):

Source: Bloomberg

A new lockdown in the Netherlands (70% fully vaccinated)

And in Iceland (76% fully vaccinated):

As Vermont - the most vaccinated American state (71% fully vaccinated) smashes highs for cases:

Source: Bloomberg

Virus gonna virus.

And it looks more and more like the harder we try to keep it from virusing, the worse the rebound.

*  *  *

Alex Berenson is a journalist and author of both fiction and non-fiction books. His latest book, "Pandemia: How Coronavirus Took Over Our Government, Rights, and Lives" will be published November 30th.

Subscribe to Alex's Substack here.

 

But don’t worry, the boosters will fix everything!

Tyler Durden Sun, 11/14/2021 - 07:00
Published:11/14/2021 6:24:51 AM
[Podcasts] Tweet About Superman’s Bisexual Son Has Professor Fighting Against Cancel Culture

“What if Christian parents of children reading comic books don’t want their kids exposed to bisexual characters?” Sophia Nelson thought it was a reasonable question... Read More

The post Tweet About Superman’s Bisexual Son Has Professor Fighting Against Cancel Culture appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:11/8/2021 5:23:22 AM
[Left Column] Read Chapter 3 excerpt of Green Fraud: ‘Man-Made Climate Change Is Not a Threat’ – ‘Hundreds of causes & variables influence climate’ not just CO2

Order Green Fraud here:

Chapter 3 Excerpt: This chapter will take the reader through the facts on the claims about climate, energy, and the environment from the media, UN, and Green New Deal advocates. Princeton professor emeritus of physics Will Happer explained why climate activists are wrong. “Aside from the human brain, the climate is the most complex thing on the planet. The number of factors that influence climate—the sun, the earth’s orbital properties, oceans, clouds, and, yes, industrial man—is huge and enormously variable,” Happer said.

The global warming coalition can accurately be called climate change cause deniers. They deny the hundreds of causes and variables that influence climate change and instead try to pretend that carbon dioxide is the climate control knob overriding all the other factors and that every bad weather event is somehow “proof” of “global warming” and an impending climate “emergency.”

Published:11/7/2021 1:23:22 AM
[Politics] ‘Our Broken Elections’: Who Broke Them and Why, and How to Fix Them

“Our Broken Elections: How the Left Changed the Way You Vote” by Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund (Encounter Books) is a deep dive into the issues that threaten America’s elections... Read More

The post ‘Our Broken Elections’: Who Broke Them and Why, and How to Fix Them appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:11/2/2021 5:27:16 AM
[Entertainment] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who described the ‘flow’ of human creativity, dies at 87 The psychologist wrote best-selling books about focused mental and physical activity as a route to happiness. Published:10/30/2021 7:25:02 PM
[Markets] Who Decides What Kids Should Be Taught? Who Decides What Kids Should Be Taught?

Authored by Pat Buchanan,

Virginia is a newly blue state, with a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators, that Joe Biden won by 10 points.

Hence, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe was an early and solid favorite to regain the office he vacated in 2017. But if McAuliffe loses Tuesday, the defeat will be measured on the Richter scale.

For if he does lose, it will be because of an elitist belief McAuliffe blurted out during a debate with Republican rival Glenn Youngkin:

“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions. … I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Yet, during his own term as governor, one Virginia school district pulled copies of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn” out of the schools because of the books’ use of racial slurs.

What McAuliffe was saying was that the knowledge, truths and beliefs imparted to children in public schools are to be determined by school officials and teachers alone. Parents have no role and should butt out.

His dismissal of any parental role in education did more than cause a backlash against McAuliffe. It put on the national agenda an issue that will be engaged and fought long after this Virginia governor’s race is over.

Former President Barack Obama was not amused at Virginia’s reaction to McAuliffe’s rejection of any parental role in education.

“We don’t have time to be wasting on these phony, trumped-up culture wars,” said Obama during a campaign stop for McAuliffe.

But to the voters of Virginia, who have been moving to Youngkin since McAuliffe made his now-famous remark, these are real issues.

For what their children are taught and not taught in the public schools to which parents consign them from age 5 to age 18 are matters of grave concern for those parents. For it will affect the kind of adults and citizens their children will become.

“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man” is a saying attributed to the Jesuits’ founder St. Ignatius of Loyola.

These schools are helping shape what children come to believe about the moral, social and historical issues tearing our country apart. These schools are helping shape the men and women these children will become.

Consider. Under the landmark Supreme Court rulings in Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges, abortion and same-sex marriage have been made constitutional rights. Yet both decisions contradict biblical truths, Catholic doctrine and natural law.

While both decisions are today the law of the land, have parents no right to object if public-school teachers instruct their students that these decisions were right, moral and just? Do students and parents have no right to dissent, both inside and outside the classroom?

According to the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” American history began when the first slaves arrived in Virginia, not when the colonies declared independence in 1776 or when the Constitution was ratified.

Do parents have no right to object if the tenets of critical race theory — that America is shot through with “systemic racism,” that whites are privileged from birth and blacks oppressed — are taught as truth about the country to which they have given their loyalty and love?

For generations, statues to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson stood on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. Now that the statues are torn down, both are reviled as “traitors.”

Yet, until he was 40 years of age, George Washington was a loyal British subject. But when Virginia rose up against the British Crown, Washington joined the rebellion. Robert E. Lee was also a loyal U.S. soldier and hero of the Mexican War, until his home state Virginia seceded.

Both men were slave-owners. The great difference: Washington was victorious at Yorktown, and Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

President Dwight Eisenhower regarded Lee, whose portrait he hung in the Oval Office, as among the greatest of all Americans.

Whose view of Lee should be taught? Eisenhower’s or Harvard’s?

The question raised by McAuliffe is: Who decides? Who, in the education of America’s children, decides what is historically, morally and socially true? And who is allowed to participate in those decisions?

The nation is today divided over whether America is a good and a great country, or whether it has been irredeemably stained by its sins against the indigenous peoples and slavery. As the Dutch historian Pieter Geyl said, “History is indeed an argument without end.”

Again, the question: Who decides which version is taught in the public schools that are paid for with the tax dollars of the parents who send their children there?

Middle America’s view of the country is more than a little distant from the Ivy League’s, and somewhat closer to Merle Haggard’s. “When you’re running down my country, you’re walking on the fighting side of me.”

Whatever happens Tuesday, “the McAuliffe issue” will be on the table in the elections of 2022.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/29/2021 - 15:15
Published:10/29/2021 2:25:49 PM
[Markets] Bovard: When Barack Obama Got Away With Murder Bovard: When Barack Obama Got Away With Murder

Authored by Jim Bovard via The Libertarian Institute,

This week (Thursday) marked the 10th anniversary of the drone killing of Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, a 16 year old born in Colorado and killed in Yemen. He perished as part of Obama’s crackdown on terrorist suspects around the world. His father, who was also an American citizen, was killed two weeks earlier by another drone strike ordered by Obama.

I wrote a piece condemning Obama’s assassination program for Christian Science Monitor in 2011"Assassination Nation: Are There Any Limits on President Obama’s License to Kill?" I derided the Obama administration’s claim that the president possessed a "right to kill Americans without a trial, without notice, and without any chance for targets to legally object…Killings based solely on presidential commands radically transform the relation of the government to the citizenry."

Readers responded by calling for my assassination. My article mentioned an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit pressuring the Obama administration "to disclose the legal standard it uses to place US citizens on government kill lists." 

"Will R." was indignant: "We need to send Bovard and the ACLU to Iran. You shoot traders and the ACLU are a bunch of traders." (I was pretty sure the ACLU was not engaged in international commerce). "Jeff" took the high ground: "Hopefully there will soon be enough to add James Bovard to the [targeted killing] list." Another commenter—self-labeled as "Idiot Savant"—saw a grand opportunity: "Now if we can only convince [Obama] to use this [assassination] authority on the media, who have done more harm than any single terror target could ever dream of..."

Here’s a riff I did on Obama’s assassination program in 2013:

The Obama administration yesterday leaked out its confidential legal paper on killing Americans to NBC News. Obama’s legal wizards decided that the Fifth Amendment’s pledge that no citizen shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" is invalid in cases of imminent attack by terrorists.

Though this might sound reasonable, the memo proceeds to craft a totally bogus notion of "imminent." But, as John Glaser notes at Antiwar.com, "The memo refers to what it calls a 'broader concept of imminence' than what has traditionally been required, like actual intelligence an ongoing plot against the US. 'The condition that an operational leader present an 'imminent' threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,' the memo states, contradicting conventional international law."

Obama top adviser Robert Gibbs had said the 16-year old should have had "a more responsible father" when asked directly about the assassination by drone...

In a January 2017 USA Today piece, I urged Trump to open the files on Obama’s killings:

"Trump should quickly reveal the secret memos underlying Obama’s "targeted killing" drone assassination program.

Administration lawyers defeated lawsuits by the ACLUThe New York Times, and others seeking disclosure of key legal papers on how the president became judge, jury and executioner. A Trump administration could disclose the memos and white papers without endangering anything other than the reputation of the soon-to-be former president and his policymakers.

Didn’t happen. The Trump administration could have exposed vast numbers of abuses by the Obama administration the same way that Obama (partially) opened the files on some of President George W. Bush’s torture policy and other atrocities. But as usual, the Trump team blew the opportunity.

As a result, Obama can pirouette as a champion of civil liberties while the horrendous precedents he set continue to endanger Americans and anyone else in the world in the vicinity of people suspected of bad thoughts by the U.S. government.

Hat tip to Dan Alban, an Institute of Justice lawyer who has scourged the Justice Department, IRS, and plenty of other government agencies.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 23:50
Published:10/15/2021 11:15:22 PM
[World] [Eugene Volokh] Monday Media: Recommend Your Favorite TV Programs or Films What should we be watching? Naturally, the less obvious, the better. ("There's an interesting and influential movie from 1977, called Star Wars, I think": Not very helpful.) Post your recommendations below. Please avoid music, books, podcasts, and other such materials; I plan to have other threads in the coming weeks covering those media. Published:10/11/2021 3:21:43 AM
[Entertainment] Punisher Writer Reveals Hero Has "Mountains" of Unpublished Stories

The Punisher has become one of Marvel Comics’ most well-known antiheroes and has managed to keep fans’ attention through his brutal vigilantism and cruel delivery of justice. After his initial introduction, the Punisher landed his own series which spun off into many more after that including Punisher: War Journal and the highly acclaimed Punisher: MAX. It is safe to say fans have had the chance to read many stories starring the Punisher, but one Marvel Comics writer just revealed that there are “mountains” of unpublished stories!

In a Tweet posted by comic writer Dan Slott, the writer reveals that he once worked with legendary Silver Age comic artist Gil Kane on a Punisher book that never saw the light of day, a revelation which was announced while discussing an entirely different comic. Slott’s original post was about a fairly obscure Marvel Comics character named the Two-Gun Kid. Slott said that he worked with Kane on a particularly violent Two-Gun Kid issue which was censored before publishing but was then published in its gratuitous entirety in a special Gil Kane tribute issue. The high-octane violence and his working relationship with Gil Kane naturally progressed the thread into a revelation about mysterious and unpublished Punisher books. 


“I did two Punisher inventory issues for the Punisher office that were completely penciled, inked, and lettered.” wrote Slott in the Twitter thread announcing this Punisher revelation. “When the office changed hands, the new editor saw [there] were mountains of Punisher inventory stories,” Slott continued, “So the new editor made a hard choice and KILLED all of that inventory”. The writer then addressed how much of a shame it is that fans were never able to experience not just his work on the Punisher issues, but also Gil Kane’s. “So somewhere out there are unpublished Gil Kane Punisher pages. Let that sink in for a moment”. 

For fans who may not be aware, or may not understand why Dan Slott would express so much remorse over the unpublished Punisher issues, it is most likely because of the giant Gil Kane was in the industry. Gil Kane was a comic book artist whose career spanned from the 40s to the 90s. He died on January 31, 2000 but his legacy will forever live on as he was inducted into both the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame for his life-long accomplishments in the comic book industry. 

While fans are assuredly saddened by the unpublished work by one of the industry's most popular writers and a legendary comic book artist, the mystery behind their work is undeniably exhilarating, especially given the topic of their work. The Punisher is a character that rarely sees extreme development making him something of a blank slate for comic book writers and artists, able to do with him whatever they please without impacting much of his established canon as there is so little of Punisher canon established, to begin with. The “mountains” of unpublished Punisher stories aren’t instrumental to the foundation of the character, and while it is undoubtedly a shame that fans aren’t able to read the never-to-be-seen pages by Dan Slott and Gil Kane, the mystery of those assuredly epic pages is almost just as good as another installment in the Punisher saga.

Published:10/8/2021 3:22:24 AM
[Markets] Why Shortages Are Permanent: Global Supply Shortages Make Fantastic Financial Sense Why Shortages Are Permanent: Global Supply Shortages Make Fantastic Financial Sense

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The era of abundance was only a short-lived artifact of the initial boost phase of globalization and financialization.

Global corporations didn't go to all the effort to establish quasi-monopolies and cartels for our convenience--they did it to ensure reliably large profits from control and scarcity. Not all scarcities are artificial, i.e. the result of cartels limiting supply to keep prices high; many scarcities are real, and many of these scarcities can be traced back to the stripping out of redundancy / multiple suppliers of industrial essentials to streamline efficiency and eliminate competition.

Recall that competition and abundance are anathema to profits. Wide open competition and structural abundance are the least conducive setting for generating reliably ample profits, while quasi-monopolies and cartels that control scarce supplies are the ideal profit-generating machines.

The incentives to expand the number of suppliers, i.e. increase competition, are effectively zero. America's corporations spent $11 trillion buying back their own stocks over the past decade; that's equal to the combined GDP of Japan, Germany and Italy. If adding new suppliers to the global supply chain were profitable, some of that $11 trillion would have exploited those vast profits.

The financial reality is attempting to compete with an established cartel that has captured regulatory and political mechanisms is a foolhardy waste of capital. If firing up a new supplier of essential solvents, etc. was so captivatingly profitable, the why wouldn't Google and Apple take a slice of their billions in cash and go make some easy money?

The barriers to entry are high and the markets are limited. A great many specialty lubricants, solvents, alloys, wires, etc. are essential to the manufacture of all the consumer and industrial products that are sourced globally, but the markets are narrow: manufacturers need X amount of a specialty solvent, not 10X.

Back in the good old days before globalization and financialization conquered the world, corporations lined up three reliable suppliers for every critical component, as this redundancy alleviated supply chain chokeholds. But to keep those three suppliers in business, you need to spread the order book among all three. Nobody will keep a facility open if it's only used occasionally when the primary supplier runs into a spot of bother.

And so now we're all seated at the banquet of consequences flowing from stripping out redundancy and competition, and ceding control of supply chains to quasi-monopolies and cartels. Scarcities are their source of profits, and since it makes zero financial sense to spend a fortune building a plant to make solvents, lubricants, alloys, etc. in limited quantities in markets dominated by quasi-monopolies and cartels, shortages are a permanent feature of the 21st century global economy.

The era of abundance was only a short-lived artifact of the initial boost phase of globalization and financialization; now that the consolidation is complete, shortages make fantastic financial sense.

By all means thank Corporate America for squandering $11 trillion to further enrich the top 0.1% and insiders. Alas, there was no better use for all those trillions than further enriching the already-super-rich.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Thu, 10/07/2021 - 06:30
Published:10/7/2021 5:43:01 AM
[Entertainment] Harry Potter: 5 Ways Harry Is Like James (& 5 Ways He's Like Lily)

Despite only making occasional appearances, Lily and James Potter are vital to the Harry Potter series. It's their deaths that kickstart the entire plot when their son is the sole survivor of Voldemort's attack. For better or worse, their memories live on through Harry — and so do their personalities.


While he's constantly reminded of his physical resemblance to his parents, Harry never gets a chance to properly compare how they are and aren't alike. However, thanks to memories, flashbacks and characters like Remus Lupin, Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore, it's clear which traits he inherits from each parent.

10 Like James: He's A Natural Rulebreaker

Harry pretty much starts breaking school rules the day he stepped into Hogwarts. This isn't always intentional, as he tells Mrs. Weasley, trouble usually finds him, not the other way around. Regardless, he loses plenty of points for Gryffindor over the course of six years and racks up numerous detentions.

This flair for trouble is something he inherited from James. As a Marauder, James was constantly breaking the rules — albeit, often with much more deliberate and crueler intentions than Harry, as evidenced by his treatment of Snape at school. Regardless, both have a reputation for chaos.

9 Like Lily: He'd Die For Those He Loves

The Harry Potter series reaches its heroic peak when Harry makes the ultimate sacrifice and hands himself over to Voldemort in Deathly Hallows. This magic ultimately — and unintentionally — gives his friends and allies some protection from the Dark Lord, allowing good to triumph over evil in the Final Battle.


It's a full-circle moment, considering Harry's story started with a similar choice from his mother. When Voldemort tried to kill an infant Harry, Lily gave her own life to save his. Both share the same courage and selfless nature, thinking nothing of dying if it means sparing those they love.

8 Like James: He's Naturally Talented

Potions, History of Magic, and Divination are all low points in Harry's academic career, but he isn't totally without talent. When Harry has the chance to show his strengths, they're exceptional. He's a natural at Quidditch, becoming the youngest Seeker in a century, and has an aptitude for Defence Against the Dark Arts that outshines even Hermione.

Also on Gryffindor's house team, multiple characters comment on James' skill on the Quidditch pitch throughout the series, with Sirius directly comparing them to Harry's. Harry also has James' aptitude for defensive wandwork, as James was skilled enough to duel Snape (who had dark magic on his side) and held his own against Voldemort on three separate occasions.

7 Like Lily: His Strong Sense Of Justice

From the moment Harry rejects Malfoy's offer of making friends with the right sort of wizards in Sorcerer's Stone, it's clear that he has strict morals and expects the same from others. He has a clearcut sense of what's right and wrong, and won't hesitate to stand up to those (like Malfoy) who don't.

This habit is something readers of Order of the Phoenix will recognize from "Snape's Worst Memory." When James taunts and attacks Snape for the amusement of his friends, Lily publicly calls him out for being a bully. Harry leaves this memory disappointed in his father and definitively on his mother's side of events, which speaks volumes to his own principles.

6 Like James: He Holds A Grudge

Despite the fact Voldemort tries to kill him on a near-yearly basis, Harry considers Malfoy to be his most hated rival. The two are total opposites and Harry hates everything Malfoy represents: his pure-blood mania, arrogance, cruelty, and natural inclination to bully anyone even remotely different.

Sometimes this grudge goes too far, as evidenced by Harry's (completely justified) obsession with Malfoy in Half-Blood Prince. James could attest that this is often the case with his own hatred of Snape — a conflict that mirrors Harry and Malfoy — nearly causing his death. Stubborn just like his son, James maintained this rivalry through his Hogwarts years, regardless.

5 Like Lily: He's Sassy

Book purists have long lamented the absence of Harry's sassiness in the movies. Spouting off some of the shadiest burns in all of Harry Potter, book-Harry isn't as flamboyantly funny as Fred and George, but he is extremely witty and unafraid to use this to his advantage.

We never get to see Lily put her own sass into practice, but according to Slughorn, it was a sight to behold. As a student, she was "vivacious" with plenty of "cheeky answers" up her sleeve. It's just a shame fans never got to see this sassy Potter duo in action.

4 Like James: He Puts A Lot Of Faith In His Friends

Being the infamous Boy Who Lived, Harry could befriend anyone. In the end, he's close to a small group of people who he'd rather die for than betray. He can't comprehend anyone feeling any different — when all the evidence points towards one of the Order of the Phoenix selling him out in Deathly Hallows, he refuses to believe it's possible.


As Lupin then points out, his father would feel exactly the same and would have seen mistrusting his friends as the "height of dishonor." From what fans know about James, this is true. He never doubts Pettigrew's suitability as Secret Keeper, and this unshakeable trust is what ultimately led to his death.

3 Like Lily: His Muggle Upbringing

As the son of a witch and wizard, Harry should never have been raised by Muggles. However, when he was orphaned, he had no other option than to be raised by his aunt and uncle. As a result, he starts Hogwarts with very little understanding of magic and expresses his fears to Ron that this will slow him down.

While Lily at least had one magical friend in Snape as a child, as a Muggle-born, she still grew up in a Muggle environment. When Harry sees her in Snape's memories, she's just as awed by magic as he was at the age of 11. Of course, the irony of both being newcomers to the wizarding world is that both also ended up saving it.

2 Like James: His Wealth

After 10 years in a cupboard under the stairs, Harry discovers he's both a wizard and heir to a sizeable fortune on the same day. As if a vault full of galleons isn't already enough to support him, he later inherits money from Sirius too, as well as property, making him one of the richest characters in the entire Harry Potter series.

He's generous with this money, treating Ron and Hermione on a regular basis, just as his father did with his own friends. When Remus struggled financially due to the stigma of his lycanthropy, James also relied on the Potter riches to support him. The Potters have long been a wealthy wizarding family, but neither James nor Harry are too flash with their cash.

1 Like Lily: He's Humble

Even though Harry has more fame and wealth as a child than most people do in a lifetime, it never goes to his head. He's modest about his achievements, playing down the fact he's fought Voldemort multiple times, can cast a Patronus, and won the Triwizard Tournament in the first Dumbledore's Army meeting.

It's tough to imagine James Potter (who is once described as having a head so fat it's a miracle his broomstick lifts off the ground) handling this kind of attention as well as a teen. Considering Lily is the one who calls him out on it, humility is a trait she values highly, and, thankfully, it was passed on to her son.

Published:10/5/2021 5:06:25 PM
[Markets] Banks Warn BTFD No Longer Works As Retail Investors Fade The YOLO Banks Warn BTFD No Longer Works As Retail Investors Fade The YOLO

Over the weekend, Morgan Stanley's chief equity strategist Michael Wilson spooked some of the most vocal market propagandists when he pointed out the patently obvious, that tapering is in fact tightening, but also made a troubling observation for the market bulls: as Wilson put it, "the most powerful offset to a material correction in the S&P 500 this year has been the extremely resilient buy-the-dip mentality among retail investors, a strategy that is now being challenged. After the Evergrande dip and rally, stocks have probed lower and taken out the prior lows, making this the first time that buying the dip hasn’t worked, simultaneously violating important technical support."

Then, overnight, Bank of America - which has been just as bearish as Morgan Stanley for much of 2021, most recently warning that the market's growing fragility would lead to a 20% correction in stocks - echoed Wilson  in observing that "equity investors are losing confidence in Buy The Dip."

As BofA's derivative strategist Nitin Saksena writes, after suffering a "meaningful setbacks in recent weeks," the coast appears far from clear.

Summarizing the recent market moves, Saksena then notes that after the worst calendar month since Mar-20, the S&P 500’s streak without a 5% pullback ended last Thursday (Sep 30) at 227 days. It was the longest streak since Feb-18 and the 4th longest in the last 50 years.

And consistent with his core thesis that stability breeds fragility, he points out that the two other longest streaks since the GFC culminated in severe risk-off episodes in Aug-15 and Feb-18.

Last Thursday also marked the second daily selloff of 3 standard deviations or more in just 7 trading days, only the 24th time since 1928 that the S&P experienced two or more 3-sigma shocks within 10 trading days.

This is notable because while isolated equity selloffs have traditionally signaled an opportunity to profitably buy the dip, BofA finds that history is less supportive of "buying after clustered shocks" and indeed, only in 3 out of the other 23 episodes (and only in 1 in the last 50 years: the North Korea nuclear missile scare of Aug 2017) did the S&P surpass the prior month’s peak in the month following the second shock.

To be sure, while the magnitude of the recent weakness won’t make the history books, the stats above carry important sentiment implications for such a momentum-driven market as this one. Most important - according to Bank of America which echoes what Morgan Stanley said - is the realization that buying the dip has failed to be profitable this time, which in turn "may lower investors’ confidence in buying the next dip and helping resume the market’s climb."

It's not just technicals, of course: BofA suggests that another key obstacle to fading investor confidence in BTFD is the Fed’s hawkish turn to begin tapering as early as next month. Obviously, any hints of Fed tightening are daunting for a market so dependent on central bank support, but as BofA also notes, "the FOMC’s self-stated lack of visibility about the economic outlook (and which has only worsened since June)...

.. further raises risks of a misstep ahead."

So are these increasingly bearish takes credible?

One look at stocks today, which are surging - as the Monday dip is clearly being bought - and one would be hard pressed to conclude that BTFD is no more. On the other hand, a signal which validates that TBFD may be in trouble comes from Susquehanna International which analyzed OCC data and found that retail traders - the market’s most-avid dip buyers earlier this year - are showing further evidence that their famous YOLO, or “you only live once” appetite for risk is waning.

According to the trading house, after the S&P 500 spent just two weeks in the red in September, small-lot options traders - those buying 10 contracts or less at a time - spent just 43% of their total volume on bullish contracts, the lowest share so far this year. In fact, markets sold off further last week, small lots paid up for puts. The daily average premium that small-lot traders shelled out for protection jumped to $480 million, the most since May according to Options Clearing Corp. data. While the premium paid for rout protection is still below its January highs, it is rising as have failed to make new highs, signaling more expectations for even more losses...

... which paradoxically means more are hedged to a drop and will likely step in aggressively to... BTFD when the next correction happens. In fact, we may already be seen just that: while the daytrading crowd may be backing away from small lot calls, its participation in individual stocks and ETFs has held steady. Tech heavyweights like Apple and Nvidia were among the most bought assets on Fidelity’s platform during Monday’s slide, with individual investors also placing massive bets on the triple-leverage ProShares UltraPro QQQ ETF, betting on a sharp rebound. Looking at today's action, it will be another good day for retail traders.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/05/2021 - 13:55
Published:10/5/2021 1:04:03 PM
[Markets] AG Garland "Weaponizes" DoJ Against Dissenting Parents After School Board Association Pleas AG Garland "Weaponizes" DoJ Against Dissenting Parents After School Board Association Pleas

One day after a North Carolina school board adopted a policy that would discipline or dismiss teachers if they incorporate critical race theory (CRT) into their teaching of the history of the United States, The Epoch Times' Ivan Pentchoukov reports that Attorney General Merrick Garland on Oct. 4 announced a concentrated effort to target any threats of violence, intimidation, and harassment by parents toward school personnel.

The announcement also comes days after a national association of school boards asked the Biden administration to take “extraordinary measures” to prevent alleged threats against school staff that the association said was coming from parents who oppose mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory.

Garland directed the FBI and U.S. attorneys in the next 30 days to convene meetings with federal, state, and local leaders within 30 days to “facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff,” according to a letter (pdf) the attorney general sent on Monday to all U.S. attorneys, the FBI director, the director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, and the assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s criminal division.

According to the DOJ, further efforts will be rolled out in the coming days, including a task force that will determine how to use federal resources to prosecute offending parents as well as how to advise state entities on prosecutions in cases where no federal law is broken. The Justice Department will also provide training to school staff on how to report threats from parents and preserve evidence to aid in investigation and prosecution.

“In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools,” Garland wrote.

“While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.”

School boards across the nation have increasingly become an arena for heated debate over culture, politics, and health. Parents groups have ramped up pressure on boards over the teaching of critical race theory and the imposition of mask mandates. The debate is split sharply along political lines, with Democrats largely in favor of critical race theory and mask mandates, and Republicans opposing both.

The amount and severity of the threats against officials are not known, but Garland’s letter suggests the phenomenon is widespread.

Full AG Garland Statement (with our thoughts):

MEMORANDUM FOR DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION; DIRECTOR, EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR U.S. ATTORNEYS ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, CRIMINAL DIVISION UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS

FROM:       THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

SUBJECT:    PARTNERSHIP AMONG FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL, TRIBAL, AND TERRITORIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TO ADDRESS THREATS AGAINST SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS, BOARD MEMBERS, TEACHERS, AND STAFF

In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools. While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.

[ZH: But intimidating parents who dare to have the view that the nation's founding fathers and the founding documents are not in fact systemically racist and does not want their children taught that is the case is ok?]

Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation's core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to he able to do their work without fear for their safety.

[ZH: "Dedication" to a "proper education" is admirable; indoctrination in Marxism is not]

The Department takes these incidents seriously and is committed to using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate. In the coming days, the Department will announce a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.

[ZH: What exactly is the crime?]

Coordination and partnership with local law enforcement is critical to implementing these measures for the benefit of our nation's nearly 14,000 public school districts. To this end, I am  directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district within 30 days of the issuance of this memorandum. These meetings will facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff, and will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response.

[ZH: We wonder how many local law enforcement officials, while busily watching for vaccine passport offenders, and mask-mandate refusers, will acquiesce to enforcing these new laws to protect the very people who are preaching that America's systemic racism starts with the men (and women) in blue?]

The Department is steadfast in its commitment to protect all people in the United States from violence, threats of violence, and other forms of intimidation and harassment.

[ZH: Presumably intimidation and emotional harassment of young white boys and girls for their 'whiteness', privilege, and systemic racism is beyond that 'protection'?]

As Chris Rufo (@RealChrisRufo) tweeted: "The Biden administration is rapidly repurposing federal law enforcement to target political opposition."

Rufo goes on to note that:

"Neither the Attorney General's memo nor the full Justice Department press release cites any significant, credible threat. This is a blatant suppression tactic, designed to dissuade citizens from participating in the democratic process at school boards."

Parents have led the charge against controversial issues such as Critical Race Theory (CRT), masking mandates and vaccine requirements.

CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.

In Loudoun County, Virginia, two parents were arrested in June for trespassing while protesting CRT and a transgender policy at the school district because they refused to leave the rowdy meeting that was declared an unlawful assembly.

In July, a man was arrested at a school board meeting and charged with a felony because a gun reportedly fell out of his pocket, the Indianapolis Star reported

In Utah, 11 anti-mask protestors were arrested on misdemeanor charges for allegedly disrupting a school board meeting in May, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. The protestors entered the school board meeting and shouted obscenities, which resulted in an early end to the meeting.

Senator Tom Cotton  (@SenTomCotton) tweeted his thoughts:

"Parents are speaking out against Critical Race Theory in schools. Now the Biden administration is cracking down on dissent."

Just this week, Ron Paul explained why it is so important for parents to control the education of their children:

During last week’s Virginia gubernatorial debate, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe promised that as governor he would prevent parents from removing sexually explicit books from school libraries, because he doesn't think “parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

McAuliffe's disdain for parents who think they should have some say in their children’s education is shared by most “progressives,” as well as some who call themselves conservatives. They think parents should obediently pay the taxes to fund the government schools and never question any aspect of the government school program.

School officials' refusal to obey the wishes of parents extends to the anti-science mask mandates. Mask mandates are not only useless in protecting children from a virus they are at low risk of becoming sick from or transmitting, the mandated mask-wearing actually makes children sick! Yet school administrators refuse to follow the science if that means listening to parents instead of the so-called experts.

Replacing parental control with government control of education (and other aspects of child raising) has been a goal of authoritarians since Plato. After all, it is much easier to ensure obedience if someone has been raised to think of the government as the source of all wisdom and truth, as well as the provider of all of life’s necessities.

In contrast to an authoritarian society, a free society recognizes that parents have both the responsibility and the right to provide their children with a quality education that reflects the parents’ values. Teachers who use their positions to indoctrinate children in beliefs that contradict the views of the parents are the ones overstepping their bounds.

Restoring parental control of education should be a priority for all who believe in liberty. If government can override the wishes of parents in the name of “education” or “protecting children’s health” then what area of our lives is safe from government intrusion?

Fortunately, growing dissatisfaction with government schools is leading many parents to try to change school policies.

"It is shameful that activists are weaponizing the US Department of Justice against parents,” Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education told the Daily Caller News Foundation in response to the memorandum.

“This is a coordinated attempt to intimidate dissenting voices in the debates surrounding America’s underperforming K-12 education – and it will not succeed. We will not be silenced.”

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/05/2021 - 07:00
Published:10/5/2021 6:36:08 AM
[Markets] Risk Was Never Low, It Was Only Hidden Risk Was Never Low, It Was Only Hidden

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The vast majority of market participants are about as ready for a semi-random "volatility event" as the dinosaurs were for the meteor strike that doomed them to oblivion.

Judging by euphoric gambler--oops I mean "investor"--sentiment and measures of volatility, risk of a market drop has been near-zero for the past 18 months. But risk was never actually low, it was only hidden. When it emerges, it's a surprise only to those who mistakenly thought risk had vanished.

As Benoit Mandelbrot explained in his book The (Mis)behavior of Marketscrashes are an intrinsic feature of systems like stock markets. These risks are not generated by specific human actions or sentiment but by the system itself.

Just as humans make subconscious decisions and then conjure up quasi-rational justifications for their choice after the fact, market participants always conjure up some event or decision as the cause of the crash. 

Favorites include central bank policy error, black swan events ("bolts from the blue"), earnings surprises, technical levels were breached, and so on.

Mandelbrot's insights reveal why markets crash without any policy error or other fabricated- after-the-fact justification: as those who witnessed the collapse of Japan's massive credit-asset bubble in 1989-1990 observed, markets just stopped going up and started falling.

Risk is a reflection of many dynamics, but the key dynamic few participants seem to understand is the inherent instability of complex systems: surface tranquility is not an accurate reflection of the actual state of stability or risk, no mater how long the period of tranquility stretches.

The human mind rebels at the dominance of quasi-random crashes, as our hubris and need to be in charge generates an illusion of control: rather than accept that markets can crash more or less "out of the blue" without any black swan or other trigger, we place our faith--yes, faith--in central bank policies, readings of sentiment, technical indicators and the like.

This illusion of control blindsides us to the reality that no policy tweak can stave off the quasi-random meteor strikes that are intrinsic features of complex systems.

Wallowing in our hubris-soaked illusion of control, we believe that if there were no pilicy errors or black swans, markets could move smoothly higher foreverThat is a fundamental misunderstanding of the systemic foundations of markets.

The vast majority of market participants are about as ready for a semi-random "volatility event" as the dinosaurs were for the meteor strike that doomed them to oblivion. 

Financial oblivion awaits those ensnared in the quasi-religious faith of Federal Reserve power and other hubris-soaked illusions of control.

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World (Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF).

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/04/2021 - 16:23
Published:10/4/2021 3:34:07 PM
[Markets] While Everyone Cheers Soaring "Wealth", America's Social Order Is Unraveling While Everyone Cheers Soaring "Wealth", America's Social Order Is Unraveling

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

So by all means, focus on the inexorable rise of stocks, cryptos and housing as "proof" of America's soaring "wealth" while the social order unravels beneath our feet.

It is a supremely tragic irony that while the corporate media ceaselessly touts America's soaring financial "wealth," the nation's true wealth--its social order--is fast unraveling. While we're encouraged to cheer billionaires blowing a tiny sliver of their wealth on space tourism and $500 million yachts as evidence of "prosperity," our media and leadership (ahem) professes to being mystified by The Great Resignation, known here on Of Two Minds as The 'Take This Job and Shove It' Recession, and other unmistakable signs of unraveling.

(This era's anthem should be Johnny Paycheck's timeless classic, Take This Job And Shove It 2:31).

In my analysis, the social order is comprised of all the intangible social elements which serve to bind a nation's people beyond their legal rights. The social order includes (but is not limited to) social (upward) mobility--the ladder to advancing one's agency (control of one's life) and opportunities for improved security and well-being.

The social order also includes civic virtue, the willingness to share the sacrifices of one's fellow citizens for the common good in proportion to one's wealth and power, and equal treatment before the law, not just as an abstraction but in the real world of the judicial system.

The social order also includes the moral legitimacy of the governance system: does the state (government) serve the citizenry, or is it the other way around?

Lastly, the social order manifests social cohesion, which is the capacity for shared values and purpose and common ground, all of which generate a concern for the well-being of other citizens and a willingness to focus on shared interests.

America has lost all of these elements, as self-interest is the only value, purpose and goal that guides behavior, starting at the top: how do politicians acquire fortunes in excess of $100 million (cough, Pelosi, cough)? Through public service? (Don't bust a gut laughing...) How do billionaires gain additional wealth so effortlessly (cough, Federal Reserve, cough)?

The rot starts at the top and then seeps down into every fiber of the nation's economic, social and political orders. As noted here previously, America is now a moral cesspool, and "democracy" is merely the public-relations cover for a neofeudal autocracy.

Behind every PR narrative lies the corruption of self-interest. How is it that day-traders now rabidly follow Pelosi's stock portfolio, and super-wealthy Federal Reserve "leaders" front-run the Fed's policies to further enrich themselves while claiming the mantle of "public service"?

How does a child molester like Jeffrey Epstein end up entertaining Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, the Harvard elite, and a veritable who's who of America's wealthy and powerful players?

The evidence of irreversible social decay is everywhere: road rage is now ubiquitous in aircraft and other social settings, common ground has vanished, and the willingness or even the capacity to identify common interests has been pulverized by the supremacy of self-interest.

"Reform" is another insider joke. Real reform might impinge on the wealth and power of our self-interested elites, so what we have instead is simulacra of reform which only add additional friction to a system choking on bureaucratic sand in the gears.

Homeless encampments are now just another accepted reflection of "soaring wealth and prosperity" in America, along with the declining prospects and wealth of the bottom 80%. If you fail to repeat the party line with sufficient enthusiasm, Big Tech will send you to the Digital Gulag.

The more that politicians, Fed governors, insiders and billionaires bleat that they really, really care about commoners, the greater the gulf between the reality of their self-interest and their laughably transparent PR. As the apologists, toadies, lackeys, factotums and apparatchiks frantically spew rah-rah PR about the "recovery" (you mean we're all addicts and are now "recovering"?), the workforce is finally awakening to the emptiness of the PR and the decay of America's social order: the rewards of the economy have flowed to two classes, the Financial Aristocracy, the top 0.1% who now own more wealth than the bottom 80% of American households, and speculators, from the front-running scammers on Wall Street to the daytraders gambling their Pelosi portfolios.

So by all means, focus on the inexorable rise of stocks, cryptos and housing as "proof" of America's soaring "wealth" while the social order unravels beneath our feet. 

Self-interest never had it so good.

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World (Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/02/2021 - 11:50
Published:10/2/2021 11:10:21 AM
[Markets] How Autonomous Weapons Could Be More Destabilizing Than Nukes How Autonomous Weapons Could Be More Destabilizing Than Nukes

Authored by James Dawes via TheConversation.com,

Autonomous weapon systems – commonly known as killer robots – may have killed human beings for the first time ever last year, according to a recent United Nations Security Council report on the Libyan civil war. History could well identify this as the starting point of the next major arms race, one that has the potential to be humanity’s final one.

Autonomous weapon systems are robots with lethal weapons that can operate independently, selecting and attacking targets without a human weighing in on those decisions. Militaries around the world are investing heavily in autonomous weapons research and development. The U.S. alone budgeted US$18 billion for autonomous weapons between 2016 and 2020.

Meanwhile, human rights and humanitarian organizations are racing to establish regulations and prohibitions on such weapons development. Without such checks, foreign policy experts warn that disruptive autonomous weapons technologies will dangerously destabilize current nuclear strategies, both because they could radically change perceptions of strategic dominance, increasing the risk of preemptive attacks, and because they could become combined with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons themselves.

As a specialist in human rights with a focus on the weaponization of artificial intelligence, I find that autonomous weapons make the unsteady balances and fragmented safeguards of the nuclear world – for example, the U.S. president’s minimally constrained authority to launch a strike – more unsteady and more fragmented.

Lethal errors and black boxes

I see four primary dangers with autonomous weapons.

The first is the problem of misidentification. When selecting a target, will autonomous weapons be able to distinguish between hostile soldiers and 12-year-olds playing with toy guns? Between civilians fleeing a conflict site and insurgents making a tactical retreat?

Killer robots, like the drones in the 2017 short film ‘Slaughterbots,’ have long been a major subgenre of science fiction. (Warning: graphic depictions of violence.)

The problem here is not that machines will make such errors and humans won’t. It’s that the difference between human error and algorithmic error is like the difference between mailing a letter and tweeting. The scale, scope and speed of killer robot systems – ruled by one targeting algorithm, deployed across an entire continent – could make misidentifications by individual humans like a recent U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan seem like mere rounding errors by comparison.

Autonomous weapons expert Paul Scharre uses the metaphor of the runaway gun to explain the difference. A runaway gun is a defective machine gun that continues to fire after a trigger is released. The gun continues to fire until ammunition is depleted because, so to speak, the gun does not know it is making an error. Runaway guns are extremely dangerous, but fortunately they have human operators who can break the ammunition link or try to point the weapon in a safe direction. Autonomous weapons, by definition, have no such safeguard.

Importantly, weaponized AI need not even be defective to produce the runaway gun effect. As multiple studies on algorithmic errors across industries have shown, the very best algorithms – operating as designed – can generate internally correct outcomes that nonetheless spread terrible errors rapidly across populations.

For example, a neural net designed for use in Pittsburgh hospitals identified asthma as a risk-reducer in pneumonia cases; image recognition software used by Google identified African Americans as gorillas; and a machine-learning tool used by Amazon to rank job candidates systematically assigned negative scores to women.

The problem is not just that when AI systems err, they err in bulk. It is that when they err, their makers often don’t know why they did and, therefore, how to correct them. The black box problem of AI makes it almost impossible to imagine morally responsible development of autonomous weapons systems.

The proliferation problems

The next two dangers are the problems of low-end and high-end proliferation. Let’s start with the low end. The militaries developing autonomous weapons now are proceeding on the assumption that they will be able to contain and control the use of autonomous weapons. But if the history of weapons technology has taught the world anything, it’s this: Weapons spread.

Market pressures could result in the creation and widespread sale of what can be thought of as the autonomous weapon equivalent of the Kalashnikov assault rifle: killer robots that are cheap, effective and almost impossible to contain as they circulate around the globe. “Kalashnikov” autonomous weapons could get into the hands of people outside of government control, including international and domestic terrorists.

The Kargu-2, made by a Turkish defense contractor, is a cross between a quadcopter drone and a bomb. It has artificial intelligence for finding and tracking targets, and might have been used autonomously in the Libyan civil war to attack people. Ministry of Defense of UkraineCC BY

High-end proliferation is just as bad, however. Nations could compete to develop increasingly devastating versions of autonomous weapons, including ones capable of mounting chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear arms. The moral dangers of escalating weapon lethality would be amplified by escalating weapon use.

High-end autonomous weapons are likely to lead to more frequent wars because they will decrease two of the primary forces that have historically prevented and shortened wars: concern for civilians abroad and concern for one’s own soldiers. The weapons are likely to be equipped with expensive ethical governors designed to minimize collateral damage, using what U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard has called the “myth of a surgical strike” to quell moral protests. Autonomous weapons will also reduce both the need for and risk to one’s own soldiers, dramatically altering the cost-benefit analysis that nations undergo while launching and maintaining wars.

Asymmetric wars – that is, wars waged on the soil of nations that lack competing technology – are likely to become more common. Think about the global instability caused by Soviet and U.S. military interventions during the Cold War, from the first proxy war to the blowback experienced around the world today. Multiply that by every country currently aiming for high-end autonomous weapons.

Undermining the laws of war

Finally, autonomous weapons will undermine humanity’s final stopgap against war crimes and atrocities: the international laws of war. These laws, codified in treaties reaching as far back as the 1864 Geneva Convention, are the international thin blue line separating war with honor from massacre. They are premised on the idea that people can be held accountable for their actions even during wartime, that the right to kill other soldiers during combat does not give the right to murder civilians. A prominent example of someone held to account is Slobodan Milosevic, former president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, who was indicted on charges against humanity and war crimes by the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

But how can autonomous weapons be held accountable? Who is to blame for a robot that commits war crimes? Who would be put on trial? The weapon? The soldier? The soldier’s commanders? The corporation that made the weapon? Nongovernmental organizations and experts in international law worry that autonomous weapons will lead to a serious accountability gap.

To hold a soldier criminally responsible for deploying an autonomous weapon that commits war crimes, prosecutors would need to prove both actus reus and mens rea, Latin terms describing a guilty act and a guilty mind. This would be difficult as a matter of law, and possibly unjust as a matter of morality, given that autonomous weapons are inherently unpredictable. I believe the distance separating the soldier from the independent decisions made by autonomous weapons in rapidly evolving environments is simply too great.

The legal and moral challenge is not made easier by shifting the blame up the chain of command or back to the site of production. In a world without regulations that mandate meaningful human control of autonomous weapons, there will be war crimes with no war criminals to hold accountable. The structure of the laws of war, along with their deterrent value, will be significantly weakened.

A new global arms race

Imagine a world in which militaries, insurgent groups and international and domestic terrorists can deploy theoretically unlimited lethal force at theoretically zero risk at times and places of their choosing, with no resulting legal accountability. It is a world where the sort of unavoidable algorithmic errors that plague even tech giants like Amazon and Google can now lead to the elimination of whole cities.

In my view, the world should not repeat the catastrophic mistakes of the nuclear arms race. It should not sleepwalk into dystopia.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 10/01/2021 - 23:00
Published:10/1/2021 10:07:55 PM
[Markets] Orwell And The Woke Orwell And The Woke

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson,

 "Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

- George Orwell, "Animal Farm"

What were we to make of multimillionaire Barack Obama's 60th birthday bash at his Martha's Vineyard estate, and the throng of the woke wealthy and their masked helot attendants?

Was socialist Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) suffering for the people when she wore a designer dress to the more than $30,000-a-ticket Met gala? Her entourage needs were certainly well-attended to by masked Morlock servants.

Did the leftist celebrities at the recent Emmy awards gather to discuss opening Malibu beaches to the homeless when the (unmasked) stars virtue-signaled their wokeness?

For answers about these hypocritical wokists, always turn first to George Orwell.

In his brief allegorical novella, "Animal Farm," an array of animal characters -- led by the thinking pigs of the farm -- staged a revolution, driving out their human overseers.

The anti-human animal comrades started out sounding like zealous Russian Bolsheviks ("four legs good, two legs bad"). But soon they ended up conned by a murderous cult of pigs under a Joseph Stalin-like leader. And so, the revolution became what it once had opposed ("four legs good, two legs better").

Our own woke, year-zero revolution is now in its second year. Yet last year's four-legged revolutionaries are already strutting on two legs. They are not just hobnobbing with the "white supremacists" and "capitalists," but outdoing them in their revolutionary zeal for the rarified privileges of the material good life.

The Marxist co-founder of BLM, Patrisse Cullors, is now on her fourth woke home. She has moved on from the barricades to the security fences of her Topanga Canyon digs in a mostly all-white, all-rich rural paradise--the rewards for revolutionary service.

Professor Ibram X. Kendi has evolved from the edgy revolutionary work of flying all over the country, hawking his Orwellian message of "All racism bad! But some racism good!" Now he has mastered the art of zooming the wannabe woke for his $20,000 an hour avant-garde hectoring.

What of Colin Kaepernick, the mediocre second-string quarterback turned sudden firebrand? He refused to stand for the national anthem and spread his "take a knee" kitsch throughout professional sports.

Kaepernick became a boutique revolutionary multimillionaire. For $12 million a year, he pitches Nike sneakers, often made in Chinese forced-labor camps.

Woke NBA star LeBron James, from his $23 million Brentwood mansion, blasts America for its endless unfairness--in service to his totalitarian Chinese paymasters who will ensure his good life with an eventual lifetime $1 billion payout for hawking their goods.

Our other elite wokists navigating around the revolution are even more cynical. The corporate and Wall Street capitalists feel that a little virtue signaling, showy diversity coordinators, and woke advertising will more or less buy off the latest version of Al-Sharpton-like shake-down artists.

Then there are the trimmers and enablers. These are the wealthy, rich, and the professional classes. They feel--in abstract--absolutely terrible about inequality, but hardly enough in the concrete to mix with the unwashed.

For them, wokism is like party membership in the late ethically bankrupt Soviet Union. It is necessary for peace of mind and good income, but otherwise not an obstacle for the continuance of the privileged, comfortable life.

The more TV news hosts rant about "systemic" this and "supremacy" that, and the more college presidents write stern penance memos to their faculty about "that's not who we are," the more they feel not just good about themselves, but relieved of any real obligation to live and socialize with the Other.

As for the self-declared non-white Other, wokism is also a top-down revolution of celebrities, intellectuals, actors, activists, academics, grifters, lawyers, and the upper-middle class and rich. And they are not calling for a Marshall Plan to bring classical education to the inner city. They themselves have little desire to move in or spread their wealth. They rarely mentor others on their shrewd capitalist expertise that made themselves rich.

They are far more cynical than that. The regrettable violence of the street, the 120 days of 2020 looting, death and arson, are the levers of the woke professionals. They fight with the various tribes of the same class and mindset over the slices of the same coveted elite pies. But they bring to the scrap the unspoken cudgel that without greater non-white de facto quotas in comic books, TV commercials, Ivy League faculties and students, symphonies, and sit-coms, then "systemic racism" could once again ignite downtown Portland or Seattle or Baltimore.

Orwell would say of the woke Obamas, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, Bernie Sanders, LeBron James, or Ibram Kendi--and their supposedly unwoke, but similarly rich and privileged enemies -- "It was impossible to say which was which."

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/01/2021 - 22:20
Published:10/1/2021 9:37:15 PM
[Markets] These Countries Have An Internet Kill-Switch (And They Admit It) These Countries Have An Internet Kill-Switch (And They Admit It)

Authored by Aden Tate via The Organic Prepper blog,

What do you suppose would happen if the President of the United States deemed it necessary, for “national security,” to flip the Internet Kill Switch? In these digital times, there should be great concern over something like this. However, normalcy bias seems to have a firm hold on a majority of the citizens of the US, and many are clinging to the “it can’t happen here” theory. 

The United States has yet to employ this particular tool. However, according to data gathered to examine the financial impact of internet shutdowns, since 2019, there have been 237 major internet shutdowns in 45 countries. [source]

What is an internet kill switch?

An internet kill switch is a device/software/configuration that allows one to shut down all internet access within a region or country indefinitely. If activated, the kill switch would prevent everyone from checking social media, shopping online, using online messenger services, sending emails, or anything else involving an internet connection.

In many cases, this may also include any form of phone contact (it varies). 

Which countries have already used the internet kill switch?

Hackers have the ability to down the entire internet system, as we have seen with op article and op article. However, governments around the globe have also resorted to shutdowns, claiming it to be necessary for public safety. For example, India (a democratic nation) was the global leader in shutdowns in 2019, with over 150 in 3 years. [source]

See if you spot the recurring theme among the following shutdowns:

Cuba

On July 11, Cuban citizens rallied in the streets to protest food and medicine shortages and electricity outages. Within two days, the Cuban government began restricting internet access. 

China

Back in 2009, riots broke out in Xinjiang. The communists responded by shutting down the internet to the region for an entire year. [source]

Egypt

Amid protests, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak cut off nearly all internet access and shut down all cell phone services. The shutdown lasted for five days. [source]

Iran

November 16, 2019, Iran authorities flipped the switch, plunging citizens into digital darkness for nearly 11 days. According to an Amnesty International press release, the deliberate shutdown was an attempt to hide the horrendous killings across the country.

Zimbabwe

In 2019, President Mnangagwa announced a fuel price increase. Protests against the increase caused Mnangagwa to shut down the internet. Critics called the shutdown “an attempt to hide growing reports of a violent crackdown on protests.” [source]

South Sudan

Protests? We can fix that with an internet shutdown. [source]

Zambia

Election day, 2021, warranted shutting down many social media platforms and some messaging apps. Although the Zambian government denied the reports Secretary, Amos Malupenga mentioned there would be no hesitation to take appropriate measures. [source]

Colombia

Colombia’s government used this innovative means of stopping protests here in May 2021 – an internet shut down. [source]

The Republic of the Congo

Another election day shutdown in 2021. This time in The Republic of the Congo. [source]

Armenia

Political unrest led to an internet shutdown here. [source] 

Russia

I think mentioning the word ‘elections’ regarding Russia is enough to make anybody laugh. Have a pesky election-tracking app you need shut down? A partial internet shutdown can do the trick. [source]

Myanmar

Coup underway? Better shut off the internet. [source]

Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s government shut down the internet 12 times before blacking out the country for nearly 16 days in 2020. Reports said this was an attempt to muzzle activists demanding justice for the killing of a beloved musician. [source]

Does the United States have an internet kill switch?

Technically, yes.

Under an entirely unconstitutional 1930s law on the books: 47 USC 606: War Powers of President; Chapter 5, Subchapter VI, the President has the authority to wield that mighty weapon.

The 1930s law reads: 

(c) Suspension or amendment of rules and regulations applicable to certain emission stations or devices

Upon proclamation by the President that there exists war or a threat of war, or a state of public peril or disaster or other national emergency, or in order to preserve the neutrality of the United States, the President, if he deems it necessary in the interest of national security or defense, may suspend or amend, for such time as he may see fit, the rules and regulations applicable to any or all stations or devices capable of emitting electromagnetic radiations within the jurisdiction of the United States as prescribed by the Commission, and may cause the closing of any station for radio communication, or any device capable of emitting electromagnetic radiations between 10 kilocycles and 100,000 megacycles, which is suitable for use as a navigational aid beyond five miles, and the removal therefrom of its apparatus and equipment, or he may authorize the use or control of any such station or device and/or its apparatus and equipment, by any department of the Government under such regulations as he may prescribe upon just compensation to the owners.

Perhaps you think this only applies to radios. It couldn’t possibly apply to your laptop or phone, right?

Don’t forget your devices use radio waves to receive their internet access. In addition, your devices can access Google Maps, which would qualify your computer as a navigational aid. 

What’s stopping the US Government from labeling EVERYTHING a national emergency?

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” – Thomas Jefferson

If you consider that America now believes racism is a “public health emergency,” government authorities could very likely deem a public health crisis as “public peril, disaster or other national emergency.” Oh no! The government must shut down the internet! [source]

Emergencies’ have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded — and once they are suspended it is not difficult for anyone who has assumed such emergency powers to see to it that the emergency persists.” – FA Hayek [source]

This bill also gives armed men the notion they can take your equipment. And should you say no? Well, you can read the penalties section HERE. And also, before deciding you’re going down in a blaze of glory, check out Selco’s prediction of how that will work out for you.

Unplug the Internet Kill Switch Act of 2020

Last year in 2020, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Unplug the Internet Kill Switch Act of 2020 to Congress. H.R.8336 would have directly attacked 47 USC 606, making it not pertain to internet usage. While Congress did not refuse the bill, they left it to sit with no further actions. [source] 

In 2016, we experienced something similar when the Supreme Court denied hearing a petition to release information on the ‘secret’ DHS internet kill switch protocol. [source] Because we need an internet kill switch, of course. THAT is an issue of national security.

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” – William Pitt

Yes, internet kill switches exist – prepare accordingly

This website published an article about the possibility of a comms blackout and how to prepare for it back in January. Check it out for some useful and viable communications options. Also, don’t forget the importance of ham radio, although you should know that it’s not completely immune to governmental interference.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/30/2021 - 21:40
Published:9/30/2021 8:56:53 PM
[Markets] The Bull$hit The Bull$hit

Authored by Walter Kirn via Unbound substack (h/t Glenn Greenwald)

I used to like to read the news, the middlebrow mass-market weekly news. I also used to like to write it.  Some. This was back in the 90s at Time magazine, a publication which still exists in name but whose original, defining mission – grounding the American mind in a moderate, shared reality – is dead. The whole concept seems strange now – the American mind; a cloud of ideas, opinions, and sentiments floating somewhere above the Mississippi – but at Time, in the 90s, before the internet made its approach seem sluggish and slashed its readership, it was still possible to regard our product as unifying and, in its way, definitive. Sometimes I covered tangible events such as drug epidemics and forest fires, but much of the time I stitched together interviews conducted by local stringers and reporters into feature stories on such topics as “The New Science of Happiness” and “Children of Divorce.” It was an article of faith at Time that the findings of social scientists, simplified for popular consumption, ranked with hard news as a source of public enlightenment. Until business began to suffer, requiring cut-backs, the magazine kept an in-house research library, the better for checking even the smallest facts. The burden of accuracy lay heavy on Time. Its mighty name required nothing less.

Things are different now.

Every morning, there it is, waiting for me on my phone. The bullshit. It resembles, in its use of phrases such as “knowledgeable sources” and “experts differ,” what I used to think of as the news, but it isn’t the news and it hasn’t been for ages. It consists of its decomposed remains in a news-shaped coffin. It does impart information, strictly speaking, but not always information about our world. Or not good information, because it’s so often wrong, particularly on matters of great import and invariably to the advantage of the same interests, which suggests it should be presumed wrong as a rule. The information it imparts, if one bothers to sift through it, is information about itself; about the purposes, beliefs, and loyalties of those who produce it: the informing class. They’re not the ruling class — not quite — but often they’re married to it or share therapists or drink with it at Yale Bowl football games. They’re cozy, these tribal cousins. They cavort. They always have. What has changed is that the press used to maintain certain boundaries in the relationship, observing the incest taboo. It kept its pants zipped, at least in public. It didn’t hire ex-CIA directors, top FBI men, NSA brass, or other past and future sources to sit beside its anchors at spot-lit news-desks that blocked our view of their lower extremities. But it gave in. 

I’m stipulating these points, I’m not debating them, so log off if you find them too extreme. Go read more bullshit. Immerse yourself in news of Russian plots to counterfeit presidential children’s laptops, viruses spawned in Wuhan market stalls, vast secret legions of domestic terrorists flashing one another the OK sign in shadowy parking lots behind Bass Pro Shops experiencing “temporary” inflation, and patriotic tech conglomerates purging the commons of untruths. Comfort yourself with the thoughts that the same fortunes engaged in the building of amusement parks, the production and distribution of TV comedies, and the provision of computing services to the defense and intelligence establishments, have allied to protect your family’s health, advance the causes of equity and justice, and safeguard our democratic institutions. Dismiss as cynical the notion that you, the reader, are not their client but their product. Your data for their bullshit, that’s the deal. And Build Back Better. That’s the sermon.

Pious bullshit, unceasing. But what to do? 

One option, more popular each day, is to retreat to the anti-bullshit universe of alternative media sources. These are the podcasts, videos, Twitter threads, newsletters, and Facebook pages that regularly vanish from circulation for violating “community standards” and other ineffable codes of conduct, oft-times after failing “fact-checks” by the friendly people at Good Thoughtkeeping. Some of these rebel outfits are engrossing, some dull and churchy, many quite bizarre, and some, despite small staffs and tiny budgets, remarkably good and getting better. Some are Substack pages owned by writers who severed ties with established publications, drawing charges of being Russian agents, crypto-anarchists, or free-speech “absolutists.” I won’t bother to give a list. Readers who hunt and choose among such sources have their own lists, which they fiercely curate, loudly pushing their favorites on the world while accusing those they disagree with of being “controlled opposition” and running cons. It resembles the old punk-rock scene, but after it was discovered, not early on. Some of the upstart outlets earn serious money, garnering higher ratings and more page-views than the regime-approved brands Apple features on the News screen of my iPhone. (A screen I’ve disabled and don’t miss.) This wilderness of “contrarianism” – a designation easily earned these days; you merely have to mention Orwell or reside in Florida -- requires a measure of vigilance and effort from those who seek the truth there. As opposed to those who go there to relax, because they prefer alt-bullshit to mainstream bullshit.

They can just kick their shoes off and wade in. 

One reason to stick with the premium name-brand bullshit is to deconstruct it. What lines are the propagandists pushing now? Where will they lead? How blatant will they get? Why are the authors so weirdly fearless? The other day when Cuba erupted in protests, numerous stories explained the riots, confidently, instantly, as demands for COVID vaccines. The accompanying photos didn’t support this claim; they featured ragged American flags and homemade signs demanding freedom. One wire-service headline used the protests to raise concerns about viral spread in crowds. A puzzling message. It wasn’t meant for the defiant Cubans, who weren’t at liberty to read it and whose anger at their rulers clearly outweighed their concerns about contagion. It had to be aimed at English-speaking Americans. But to what end? American protests of the previous summer hadn’t raised such cautions from the press. To the contrary. Our riots, if one could call them that (and one could not at many companies) were framed as transcendent cries for justice whose risks to public health were negligible, almost as though moral passion enhances immunity. And maybe it does, but why not in Cuba, too? To me, the headline only made sense in the context of the offensive against domestic “vaccine hesitancy” and its alleged fascist-bumpkin leaders. The Reuters writer had seen in Cuba’s revolt a chance to glancingly editorialize against rebelliousness of another type. The type its staff abhors day in, day out, no matter what’s happening in Cuba, or, for that matter, in America. The bullshit is consistent in this way, reducing stories of every kind into nitrogen-rich soil for the same views. These views feel unusually ferocious now, reflecting the convictions of those on high that they should determine the fates of those on low with minimal backtalk and no laughter. Because science. Because Putin. Democracy. Because we’re inside your phones and know your names. 

Engaging with the bullshit news-stream for defensive, deconstructive reasons has been my personal program for a while now. The game can be intellectually amusing and it confers a sense of brave revulsion. I was conditioned to seek this feeling in school, during units on “current events,” when my classmates and I were invited to deplore poverty, pollution, and prejudice. Behind these exercises was the notion that our little lives were isolated, vulnerable affairs loomed over by colossal, distant “trends.” Like bad weather, these trends might sneak up on us and harm us, especially if we ignored them, but unlike bad weather, which came from nature, these grim enormities were human-made and therefore partly our responsibility. This idea promoted magical thinking. Take our sixth-grade war on “smog,” which worsened children’s asthma and killed trees. Smog didn’t bother our Minnesota town but it smothered Los Angeles and other cities, as we learned from mock-newspapers and film strips. We cast spells against it from our desks by drawing pictures of smoky traffic jams. Our teacher called this “showing awareness” and implied it helped. I must have bought this. It explains why I thought being conscious of the bullshit actually accomplished something.

The idea of ignoring it entirely raised superstitious fears in me. Unnoticed bad trends might whack me from behind. Also, dropping out seemed immature. Well-adjusted grown-up read the news, if only to curse the news. They read it because other grown-ups read it, creating a common model of the world that might be bullshit but forms a frame of reference for public debate. Then I considered the state of public debate. Judging by Twitter, it wasn’t high. One problem was no matter how well you argued, no matter how strong your evidence and logic, your foes almost never recognized they’d lost. No judges to arbitrate the matches, no rules to guide them, and no trusted sources of facts to balance them. Mostly you just called bullshit on each other, and sometimes you wondered if both of you were right.  Such arguments were sink holes. They never advanced past their own premises. 

At times in my life, by happenstance, I’ve dwelled in oblivion, thoroughly news-free. In college in the early 80s I went four years without turning on TV or opening a paper. I learned that President Reagan had been shot from a pilot’s announcement on a plane, then gathered more details when I landed, from a stranger in a cowboy hat. My sense of the wider world derived from classes, books, conversations, works of art, and glimpses of newsstands and magazine racks. I don’t remember feeling deprived. Then, last year, at the height of the pandemic, when everyone else was merging with their screens, I turned my back on the bullshit for two whole months.

My father was dying of ALS in his retirement cabin in Montana, out of range of cell-phone towers. It was an overwhelming situation. Disregarding all the latest rules, friends had brought him there in a motorhome from his seniors’ community near Tucson. I needed help lifting him, so I hired a health aid who flew in from Miami, another breach of quarantine. This hazard required the local hospice workers to visit wearing full protective gear and stay outside the cabin in the driveway when passing me my father’s meds and pamphlets on the stages of death. They stuck to this protocol for the first week, then abandoned it so they could see their patient’s face. I lost track of the rules, the days, the virus. I sat at his bedside before his big TV watching reruns of Murder She Wrote, his favorite show, he told me, “Because there’s never any blood.” A former patent attorney with a degree in chemical engineering, a Republican who’d ofted voted Democrat, he’d tuned out the news a few years ago, he said, because it gave him stomach aches. He forbade me to handle the remote lest I land for a moment on CNN while changing channels. He talked about family history, old friends, and had me place phone calls to banks and credit card firms, which he seemed to take pleasure in informing of his any-minute-now demise. I turned on my computer exactly once, to research a narcotic he’d been prescribed, and I peeked at a rundown of election news that curdled my brain with its lazy tropes and buzzwords. To think that people wore out their precious lives consuming and reacting to such bullshit, cycling through the emotions it unleashed, sweating out its bulletins and updates, believing, disputing, and decrying it. And ultimately, in my father’s case, avoiding it.

Maybe he should have ignored it all along. Once time grew short, he didn’t mention a bit of it, with one exception: the day John F. Kennedy was shot. He spoke of it three days before he died. He said he was in Washington DC then, working as a law clerk in the same building that housed the Associated Press. He ran to its offices when he heard the news and watched paper spill from the teletype machines and pile on the floor. He told me he regretted not snatching some; those first dispatches might be worth a lot now. I thought about this. One-of-a-kind original paper documents, not identical, infinitely reproducible electronic files. No wonder there was so much bullshit now. It was content. Mere content. Ones and zeros. Lots of zeros, not so many ones.

“I’ve always wondered who killed him,” my father said. “It wasn’t Oswald. Not Oswald on his own.”

“Who do you think?” It seemed he’d studied the matter. New side of him. Should have spent more time together.

“Maybe the Mafia, maybe LBJ. There may have been certain Cubans in the mix. All I know is we didn’t get the truth.”

I’m fairly sure we often don’t. Still, it’s hard to give up hope, and today I blew half an hour on the bullshit, under which the truth lies buried. Maybe. Maybe it’s bullshit the whole way down. How much time do you have for finding out?

Less than you had this morning.

Fact.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/30/2021 - 16:21
Published:9/30/2021 3:36:05 PM
[Markets] Watch: Women's Protest In Kabul Dispersed By Taliban Automatic Gunfire Watch: Women's Protest In Kabul Dispersed By Taliban Automatic Gunfire

On Thursday AFP journalists witnessed and recorded a disturbing scene unfold during a women's rights protest in eastern Kabul. A small group of women gathered outside a high school to demand they be allowed access to secondary education, after the Taliban issued a blanket decree banning any upper level education for women.

CBS News reported starting last week that "The Taliban's effective ban on women working sank in on Monday, sparking rage over the dramatic loss of rights after millions of female teachers and girls were barred from secondary school education." Thursday's protest among a mere half-dozen women resulted in perhaps the harshest crackdown yet, involving live gunfire as a 'warning' - which sent the girls fleeing into the nearby school building.

Not all of the dramatic episode was captured on camera, as Taliban militants were seen attempting to block cameras and journalists from the scene.

The extremely small but hugely symbolic protest that featured a banner with the words "Don’t break our pens, don’t burn our books, don’t close our schools" resulted in a large Taliban police presence descending on the area and even blocking roadways. 

The militants confiscated the banners as the following scene ensued

They pushed back the women protesters as they tried to continue with the demonstration, while a foreign journalist was hit with a rifle and blocked from filming.

A Taliban fighter also released a brief burst of gunfire into the air with his automatic weapon, AFP journalists saw.

A Taliban spokesman attempted to chalk up the ordeal to the protest not being "authorized" with formal permission ahead of time, claiming that protests are allowed but only if police are aware ahead of time.

"They have the right to protest in our country like every other country. But they must inform the security institutes before," the police guard was cited as saying.

Soon after the Taliban takeover of Kabul at the end of August, there were pronouncements by leaders and pundits in the West claiming the Taliban had greatly "moderated" when compared to the pre-2001 situation; however, increasingly this is proving not the case, also as the hardline Islamist group has reinstated strict Sharia-law corporal punishment, including chopping off hands for offenses, or public displays of the bodies of people that were executed

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/30/2021 - 15:43
Published:9/30/2021 2:56:42 PM
[Markets] Quarter-End Pushes Fed's Reverse Repo To Record $1.6 Trillion Quarter-End Pushes Fed's Reverse Repo To Record $1.6 Trillion

Back in July, when we forecast that the Fed's reverse repo would hit $2.5 trillion by year end, we thought that this projection was too aggressive even for a Fed as clueless as this one. Maybe not.

Moments ago, the NY Fed reported that today's overnight repo saw a record $1.604 trillion in usage, the highest number on record  distributed among 92 counterparties, also the most on record.

Putting this explosion in context:

To be sure, a substantial portion of today's surge was due to month and quarter-end window dressing, and we expect about $200 billion in the total to drop tomorrow once we enter October, however even at $1.4 trillion to say that liquidity conditions are anywhere close to normal would be a joke.

That said, one reason we don't anticipate a continued surge in the rev repo facility is because one of the biggest sources of funding, the Treasury's cash balance, has been almost drained and at $173 billion was the lowest since August 2020. This number will likely drop to just shy of zero by Oct 18 when the debt ceiling D-date hits and the Treasury runs out of cash.

Meanwhile, in other broken market observations, today was the 2nd consecutive Bill auction which saw rate on the 4 Week come higher than that on the 8 Week, typically an unprecedented inversion yet one made possible because the bond market is clearly concerned that the debt ceiling drama will not be resolved on time, or worse.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/30/2021 - 13:48
Published:9/30/2021 1:02:59 PM
[Podcasts] Podcast: The Crisis in Civilian-Military Relations, with Mackubin Owens (Steven Hayward) This short, Power Line Classic format episode features me in conversation this morning with Mackubin T. Owens, decorated Vietnam War vet, long time friend of Power Line, professor at the Naval War College, and author of numerous articles on books on civilian-military relations. With all the controversy over General Mark Milley’s direct contacts with senior Chinese military leaders, his apparently extensive contacts with journalists, and the confusion or contradictions over Published:9/30/2021 12:33:07 PM
[Biden Administration] Milley promotes himself (Scott Johnson) Senator Marsha Blackburn asked Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley about the books in which he is quoted to inflammatory effect. He acknowledged that he had sat for interviews with the authors of each of the books she specified. In his Washington Examiner Daily Memo yesterday, Byron York cited them and extracted a few of the quotes: Three of the biggest such books, all bestsellers, were Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Published:9/30/2021 9:57:51 AM
[Markets] The Market Crash Nobody Thinks Possible Is Coming The Market Crash Nobody Thinks Possible Is Coming

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The banquet of consequences is being served, and risk-off crashes are, like revenge, best served cold.

The ideal setup for a crash is a consensus that a crash is impossible--in other words, just like the present: sure, there are carefully measured murmurings about a "correction" but nobody with anything to lose in the way of public credibility is calling for an honest-to-goodness crash, a real crash, not a wimpy, limp-wristed dip that will immediately be bought.

What I'm calling for is a rip your face offweeping bitter tears over the grave of the speculative wealth that you thought was forever crash. All those buying the dip because the Fed will never let the market go down will be crushed like scurrying cockroaches and all those trying to rotate into the next hot sector or asset class will also be crushed like scurrying cockroaches because when the Everything Bubble pops, well, everything pops. There is no shelter in a risk-off cascade.

The crash is coming as a result of multiple mutually reinforcing dynamics, the first being that no "serious person" believes a crash is possible, much less imminent. In no particular order, here are a raft of other causally consequential triggers of a cascading market crash:

1. As I noted in my call for the top, Is Anyone Willing to Call the Top of the Everything Bubble? (September 6, 2021), there is no history to support the widespread confidence that the extremes of over-valuation, leverage, euphoria and speculation last forever, or even much longer than the lifespan of a cockroach. We're well past that benchmark into unprecedented insanity. So what happens next: squish.

Just for the record, the Dow topped out on August 13, the S&P 500 topped out on September 2 and the Nasdaq topped out the day after my call, September 7. (Close enough for gummit work...)

2. The credibility of the Federal Reserve is in the dumpster, which just caught fire. 

As I explained in The Fed Is Fatally Corrupt-- And So Is the Rest of America's Status Quo (September 10, 2021), the Fed is corrupt on multiple levels--thoroughly, completely corrupt, and so are all its minions, proxies, apparatchiks, toadies, apologists and lackeys.

This is finally leaking through the Fed corruption containment vessel as even the lackeys in the billionaire-owned corporate media are now fearful of losing whatever tattered shreds of credibility they still possess by refusing to acknowledge Fed corruption, over-reach and hubris. And so at long last, the Fed no longer walks on water. The Fed's fraudulent travesty of a mockery of a sham scam has finally breached the three-foor thick containment walls and the putrid stench of Fed corruption can no longer be bottled up.

Like any good kleptocratic Politburo, the Fed cashiered the two most indefensible scapegoats to divert attention from the equally corrupt incumbents presiding over the collapse of Fed credibility.

Don't be surprised if the scapegoats are airbrushed out of official photos, per officially approved propaganda.

3. As I detailed in The U.S. Economy In a Nutshell: When Critical Parts Are On "Indefinite Back Order," the Machine Grinds to a Halt and Sorry, Fed, Inflation is Already Embedded, the fuel of the inflation rocket has just ignited and the clueless, corrupt Fed is watching the boost phase in abject, humiliating confusion, as the Fed is now completely powerless, having blown the opportunity to get ahead of the curve by reducing their making billionaires richer "stimulus" a year ago.

Inflation is not just embedded, it's global. 

Natural gas prices could triple in entire regions without even breathing hard, and the costs of other essentials could just as easily triple without breaking a sweat.

Inflation crushes risk-on speculative markets like, well, scurrying cockroaches. 

Squish.

4. The Fed has lost control of yields. We all know that liars reveal their dishonesty via micro-signals, and with this is mind, slow down the video of Fed Politburo speakers, starting with Chairperson Powell. Wealth inequality soaring? It's not our doing! etc.

Oops, the cat is out of the bag: the Fed has lost control of yields. Trust in the Fed's god-like powers is wavering, as punters and players realize the Fed's shuck-and-jive has finally lost its power to wow the greedy and the credulous.

Rising yields crush risk-on speculative markets like, well, scurrying cockroaches. 

Squish.

5. China is not "saving the world" this time. 

As I explained in What's Really Going On in China (September 23, 2021), China has other fish to fry and it isn't bailing out global markets as it did in previous bubble pops. Squish.

6. The rising US dollar is Kryptonite to speculative markets, emerging market debt and risk-on euphoria. 

Sorry about that, but you know what happens next: Squish.

7. The retail bagholders are now all-in. As I noted in Please Don't Pop Our Precious Bubble! (September 8, 2021), the retail punters have finally gone all-in on the "this bubble will never pop" Everything Bubble. As I observed in August, The Smart Money Has Already Sold (August 18, 2021) as the retail bagholders have poured more cash into the Everything Bubble than they did in the past decade or two.

This is of course the most reliable signal that a bubble is about to pop. 

Sorry about that: squish.

8. The buy the dip crowd has been so well-trained that they will provide the necessary buying to keep the cascade from gathering too much momentum. A stairstep down that sucks in buy the dip buyers is ideal for those profiting from the decline. First up: a rally to close the quarter positively to make it appear that every money manager beat the index funds. And so on.

But the net result is still: squish. 

Consequences can be put off for quite some time, but the rot beneath the machinations only amplifies the eventual collapse.

The banquet of consequences is being served, and risk-off crashes are, like revenge, best served cold.

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World (Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/30/2021 - 06:30
Published:9/30/2021 5:50:21 AM
[Markets] Turley On Free Speech Immunity: YouTube Bans Channels Airing Criticism of Vaccines Turley On Free Speech Immunity: YouTube Bans Channels Airing Criticism of Vaccines

Authored by Jonathan Turley via Res ipsa loquitur (emphasis ours)

YouTube continued the expansion of corporate censorship on the Internet with the encouragement of leading Democratic leaders. The company has banned channels associated with anti-vaccine activists like Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Once again, rather than rebutting or refuting claims made by others, many sought to silence those with opposing views. YouTube will not allow people to hear views that do not comport with an approved range of opinions.  The move magnifies concerns that we are seeing the emergence of a new type of state media as private companies conduct censorship operations barred by the Constitution for the government to conduct directly. This move comes days after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) asked Amazon to steer customers to “true” books on subjects like climate change to avoid their exposure to “disinformation.” It also follows YouTube censoring videos of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny before Russia’s parliamentary elections. The move helped Putin and his authoritarian government crack down on pro-Democracy forces.

The Google-owned site is now openly engaged in viewpoint regulation to force users to view only those sources that are consistent with the corporate agenda. Facebook banned misinformation on all vaccines seven months ago and Twitter regularly bans those questioning vaccines.

These companies are being encouraged by many on the left to expand censorship.

Faculty and editors are now actively supporting modern versions of book-burning with blacklists and bans for those with opposing political views. Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll has denounced the “weaponization” of free speech, which appears to be the use of free speech by those on the right. So the dean of one of the premier journalism schools now supports censorship.

Free speech advocates are facing a generational shift that is now being reflected in our law schools, where free speech principles were once a touchstone of the rule of law. As millions of students are taught that free speech is a threat and that “China is right” about censorship, these figures are shaping a new society in their own intolerant images.

In one critical hearing, tech CEOs appeared before the Senate to discuss censorship programs. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apologized for censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story, but then pledged to censor more people in defense of “electoral integrity.”

Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, however, was not happy. He was upset not by the promised censorship but that it was not broad enough.

He noted that it was hard to define the problem of “misleading information,” but the companies had to impose a sweeping system to combat the “harm” of misinformation on climate change as well as other areas. “The pandemic and misinformation about COVID-19, manipulated media also cause harm,” Coons said. “But I’d urge you to reconsider that because helping to disseminate climate denialism, in my view, further facilitates and accelerates one of the greatest existential threats to our world.”

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal also warned that he and his colleagues would not tolerate any “backsliding or retrenching” by “failing to take action against dangerous disinformation.” He demanded “the same kind of robust content modification” from the companies – the new Orwellian term for censorship.

This is the face of censorship. As demanded, the companies are now sanitizing their sites to remove opposing views on these subjects. Rather than offer a free forum for the full debate on such issues, anti-free speech advocates have again prevailed in silencing those with opposing views.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/29/2021 - 17:20
Published:9/29/2021 4:27:01 PM
[Entertainment] 10 books to read in October Jonathan Franzen and Susan Orlean have new books coming. Published:9/28/2021 4:15:23 PM
[Markets] Sorry, Fed, Inflation Is Already Embedded Sorry, Fed, Inflation Is Already Embedded

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The Fed and its minions are about to get what they so richly deserve: the full blame for the coming catastrophe.

The key justification for the Federal Reserve's zero-interest rate policy is that inflation is transitory. Sorry, Fed, inflation is already embedded, i.e. inflation is now a self-reinforcing feedback loop: price leaps trigger wage increase demands, supply constraint expectations are now built into wholesale cost increases, and all these increases in wholesale, retail and wage costs drive each other higher as participants now understand that higher wholesale costs drive higher retail prices which feed higher wages which feed higher costs.

The conventional consensus holds that globalization and technology are deflationary. But globalization is no longer deflationary as fragile supply chains logjam and break and prices on the margin soar as demand skyrockets due to hoarding and attempts to restock depleted inventories.

As for technology, the move to remote work is only selectively deflationary, for example, demand for commercial office space has cratered, driving lease rates off a cliff. But in the larger scheme of things, the major "advances" in tech have been concentrated in social media, which is arguably reducing productivity rather than increasing productivity.

Digitizing everything under the sun has made everything dependent on components which are now scarce, scarcities driven by multiple factors: planned obsolescence (so profitable when supply chains are functioning smoothly, not so profitable when supply chains are constrained), agonizingly long lead times to build out semiconductor fabs and exploit new sources of minerals, energy, etc., trillions of dollars in stimulus driving demand higher, which then feeds hoarding and inventory building, further pressuring supplies, and disruptions triggered by everything from the pandemic to shortages of energy.

American workers have been stripmined and abused for 40 years in classic boiling-the-frog fashion, and now they've finally had enough. The Great Resignation, like other drivers of inflation, is complex and cannot be reduced to a single cause. Like the other systemic drivers of inflation, labor refusing to work for low pay and being treated like pack animals has been a long time coming, and there are no quick fixes of the sort pundits promote.

Now that inflation expectations are embedded, there's no going back. Touting bogus inflation statistics ("we took out everything that went up in cost and look, inflation is low!") is not going to reverse the understanding that inflation is here to stay.

Now that participants understand their income will buy less in the future, they have a powerful motivation to buy something tangible now while the price is lower than it will be next year--a motivation that increases demand and pushes costs higher, which then reinforces the incentives to convert earnings into something real before the Fed destroys even more of the purchasing power. Wage earners have no choice but to demand much higher wages to partly offset soaring costs, and employers who refuse find employees are leaving en masse. Those who increase wages must raise prices to offset their higher costs.

Meanwhile, taxes, junk fees, user fees, etc. only ratchet higher--they never decline, ever. Participants understand the ratchet effect and this also drives demands for higher wages.

Corporate America has pushed the shrinkflation gimmick for years to mask the loss of purchasing power, but that gimmick is wearing thin. People are waking up and noticing there is 10% less in every package while the price jumps 10%--a real-world inflation rate of 20%.

Simply put, the Fed blew it. The inflationary drivers outlined above were all painfully obvious a year ago, and the Fed did nothing but enrich the already super-wealthy to the tune of tens of trillions of dollars while ripping the heart out of the bottom 90% who depend on pensions, disability, Social Security or wages, none of which keep pace with real-world inflation.

The Fed and its minions are about to get what they so richly deserve: the full blame for the coming catastrophe.

Seen on Twitter:

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World (Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF).

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 12:20
Published:9/27/2021 11:32:19 AM
[Markets] "Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The 'Spartacus COVID Letter' That's Gone Viral "Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The 'Spartacus COVID Letter' That's Gone Viral

Via The Automatic Earth blog,

This is an anonymously posted document by someone who calls themselves Spartacus. Because it’s anonymous, I can’t contact them to ask for permission to publish. So I hesitated for a while, but it’s simply the best document I’ve seen on Covid, vaccines, etc. Whoever Spartacus is, they have a very elaborate knowledge in “the field”. If you want to know a lot more about the no. 1 issue in the world today, read it. And don’t worry if you don’t understand every single word, neither do I. But I learned a lot.

The original PDF doc is here: Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter

Hello,

My name is Spartacus, and I’ve had enough.

We have been forced to watch America and the Free World spin into inexorable decline due to a biowarfare attack. We, along with countless others, have been victimized and gaslit by propaganda and psychological warfare operations being conducted by an unelected, unaccountable Elite against the American people and our allies.

Our mental and physical health have suffered immensely over the course of the past year and a half. We have felt the sting of isolation, lockdown, masking, quarantines, and other completely nonsensical acts of healthcare theater that have done absolutely nothing to protect the health or wellbeing of the public from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, we are watching the medical establishment inject literal poison into millions of our fellow Americans without so much as a fight.

We have been told that we will be fired and denied our livelihoods if we refuse to vaccinate. This was the last straw.

We have spent thousands of hours analyzing leaked footage from Wuhan, scientific papers from primary sources, as well as the paper trails left by the medical establishment.

What we have discovered would shock anyone to their core.

First, we will summarize our findings, and then, we will explain them in detail. References will be placed at the end.

Summary:

  • COVID-19 is a blood and blood vessel disease. SARS-CoV-2 infects the lining of human blood vessels, causing them to leak into the lungs.

  • Current treatment protocols (e.g. invasive ventilation) are actively harmful to patients, accelerating oxidative stress and causing severe VILI (ventilator-induced lung injuries). The continued use of ventilators in the absence of any proven medical benefit constitutes mass murder.

  • Existing countermeasures are inadequate to slow the spread of what is an aerosolized and potentially wastewater-borne virus, and constitute a form of medical theater.

  • Various non-vaccine interventions have been suppressed by both the media and the medical establishment in favor of vaccines and expensive patented drugs.

  • The authorities have denied the usefulness of natural immunity against COVID-19, despite the fact that natural immunity confers protection against all of the virus’s proteins, and not just one.

  • Vaccines will do more harm than good. The antigen that these vaccines are based on, SARS-CoV- 2 Spike, is a toxic protein. SARS-CoV-2 may have ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement; current antibodies may not neutralize future strains, but instead help them infect immune cells. Also, vaccinating during a pandemic with a leaky vaccine removes the evolutionary pressure for a virus to become less lethal.

  • There is a vast and appalling criminal conspiracy that directly links both Anthony Fauci and Moderna to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

  • COVID-19 vaccine researchers are directly linked to scientists involved in brain-computer interface (“neural lace”) tech, one of whom was indicted for taking grant money from China.

  • Independent researchers have discovered mysterious nanoparticles inside the vaccines that are not supposed to be present.

  • The entire pandemic is being used as an excuse for a vast political and economic transformation of Western society that will enrich the already rich and turn the rest of us into serfs and untouchables.

COVID-19 Pathophysiology and Treatments:

COVID-19 is not a viral pneumonia. It is a viral vascular endotheliitis and attacks the lining of blood vessels, particularly the small pulmonary alveolar capillaries, leading to endothelial cell activation and sloughing, coagulopathy, sepsis, pulmonary edema, and ARDS-like symptoms. This is a disease of the blood and blood vessels. The circulatory system. Any pneumonia that it causes is secondary to that.

In severe cases, this leads to sepsis, blood clots, and multiple organ failure, including hypoxic and inflammatory damage to various vital organs, such as the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines.

Some of the most common laboratory findings in COVID-19 are elevated D-dimer, elevated prothrombin time, elevated C-reactive protein, neutrophilia, lymphopenia, hypocalcemia, and hyperferritinemia, essentially matching a profile of coagulopathy and immune system hyperactivation/immune cell exhaustion.

COVID-19 can present as almost anything, due to the wide tropism of SARS-CoV-2 for various tissues in the body’s vital organs. While its most common initial presentation is respiratory illness and flu-like symptoms, it can present as brain inflammation, gastrointestinal disease, or even heart attack or pulmonary embolism.

COVID-19 is more severe in those with specific comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. This is because these conditions involve endothelial dysfunction, which renders the circulatory system more susceptible to infection and injury by this particular virus.

The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are mild and do not cause significant disease. In known cases, there is something known as the 80/20 rule, where 80% of cases are mild and 20% are severe or critical. However, this ratio is only correct for known cases, not all infections. The number of actual infections is much, much higher. Consequently, the mortality and morbidity rate is lower. However, COVID-19 spreads very quickly, meaning that there are a significant number of severely-ill and critically-ill patients appearing in a short time frame.

In those who have critical COVID-19-induced sepsis, hypoxia, coagulopathy, and ARDS, the most common treatments are intubation, injected corticosteroids, and blood thinners. This is not the correct treatment for COVID-19. In severe hypoxia, cellular metabolic shifts cause ATP to break down into hypoxanthine, which, upon the reintroduction of oxygen, causes xanthine oxidase to produce tons of highly damaging radicals that attack tissue. This is called ischemia-reperfusion injury, and it’s why the majority of people who go on a ventilator are dying. In the mitochondria, succinate buildup due to sepsis does the same exact thing; when oxygen is reintroduced, it makes superoxide radicals. Make no mistake, intubation will kill people who have COVID-19.

The end-stage of COVID-19 is severe lipid peroxidation, where fats in the body start to “rust” due to damage by oxidative stress. This drives autoimmunity. Oxidized lipids appear as foreign objects to the immune system, which recognizes and forms antibodies against OSEs, or oxidation-specific epitopes. Also, oxidized lipids feed directly into pattern recognition receptors, triggering even more inflammation and summoning even more cells of the innate immune system that release even more destructive enzymes. This is similar to the pathophysiology of Lupus.

COVID-19’s pathology is dominated by extreme oxidative stress and neutrophil respiratory burst, to the point where hemoglobin becomes incapable of carrying oxygen due to heme iron being stripped out of heme by hypochlorous acid. No amount of supplemental oxygen can oxygenate blood that chemically refuses to bind O2.

The breakdown of the pathology is as follows:

SARS-CoV-2 Spike binds to ACE2. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 is an enzyme that is part of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, or RAAS. The RAAS is a hormone control system that moderates fluid volume in the body and in the bloodstream (i.e. osmolarity) by controlling salt retention and excretion. This protein, ACE2, is ubiquitous in every part of the body that interfaces with the circulatory system, particularly in vascular endothelial cells and pericytes, brain astrocytes, renal tubules and podocytes, pancreatic islet cells, bile duct and intestinal epithelial cells, and the seminiferous ducts of the testis, all of which SARS-CoV-2 can infect, not just the lungs.

SARS-CoV-2 infects a cell as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike undergoes a conformational change where the S1 trimers flip up and extend, locking onto ACE2 bound to the surface of a cell. TMPRSS2, or transmembrane protease serine 2, comes along and cuts off the heads of the Spike, exposing the S2 stalk-shaped subunit inside. The remainder of the Spike undergoes a conformational change that causes it to unfold like an extension ladder, embedding itself in the cell membrane. Then, it folds back upon itself, pulling the viral membrane and the cell membrane together. The two membranes fuse, with the virus’s proteins migrating out onto the surface of the cell. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid enters the cell, disgorging its genetic material and beginning the viral replication process, hijacking the cell’s own structures to produce more virus.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins embedded in a cell can actually cause human cells to fuse together, forming syncytia/MGCs (multinuclear giant cells). They also have other pathogenic, harmful effects. SARS-CoV- 2’s viroporins, such as its Envelope protein, act as calcium ion channels, introducing calcium into infected cells. The virus suppresses the natural interferon response, resulting in delayed inflammation. SARS-CoV-2 N protein can also directly activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Also, it suppresses the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway. The suppression of ACE2 by binding with Spike causes a buildup of bradykinin that would otherwise be broken down by ACE2.

This constant calcium influx into the cells results in (or is accompanied by) noticeable hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium, especially in people with Vitamin D deficiencies and pre-existing endothelial dysfunction. Bradykinin upregulates cAMP, cGMP, COX, and Phospholipase C activity. This results in prostaglandin release and vastly increased intracellular calcium signaling, which promotes highly aggressive ROS release and ATP depletion. NADPH oxidase releases superoxide into the extracellular space. Superoxide radicals react with nitric oxide to form peroxynitrite. Peroxynitrite reacts with the tetrahydrobiopterin cofactor needed by endothelial nitric oxide synthase, destroying it and “uncoupling” the enzymes, causing nitric oxide synthase to synthesize more superoxide instead. This proceeds in a positive feedback loop until nitric oxide bioavailability in the circulatory system is depleted.

Dissolved nitric oxide gas produced constantly by eNOS serves many important functions, but it is also antiviral against SARS-like coronaviruses, preventing the palmitoylation of the viral Spike protein and making it harder for it to bind to host receptors. The loss of NO allows the virus to begin replicating with impunity in the body. Those with endothelial dysfunction (i.e. hypertension, diabetes, obesity, old age, African-American race) have redox equilibrium issues to begin with, giving the virus an advantage.

Due to the extreme cytokine release triggered by these processes, the body summons a great deal of neutrophils and monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages to the lungs. Cells of the innate immune system are the first-line defenders against pathogens. They work by engulfing invaders and trying to attack them with enzymes that produce powerful oxidants, like SOD and MPO. Superoxide dismutase takes superoxide and makes hydrogen peroxide, and myeloperoxidase takes hydrogen peroxide and chlorine ions and makes hypochlorous acid, which is many, many times more reactive than sodium hypochlorite bleach.

Neutrophils have a nasty trick. They can also eject these enzymes into the extracellular space, where they will continuously spit out peroxide and bleach into the bloodstream. This is called neutrophil extracellular trap formation, or, when it becomes pathogenic and counterproductive, NETosis. In severe and critical COVID-19, there is actually rather severe NETosis.

Hypochlorous acid building up in the bloodstream begins to bleach the iron out of heme and compete for O2 binding sites. Red blood cells lose the ability to transport oxygen, causing the sufferer to turn blue in the face. Unliganded iron, hydrogen peroxide, and superoxide in the bloodstream undergo the Haber- Weiss and Fenton reactions, producing extremely reactive hydroxyl radicals that violently strip electrons from surrounding fats and DNA, oxidizing them severely.

This condition is not unknown to medical science. The actual name for all of this is acute sepsis.

We know this is happening in COVID-19 because people who have died of the disease have noticeable ferroptosis signatures in their tissues, as well as various other oxidative stress markers such as nitrotyrosine, 4-HNE, and malondialdehyde.

When you intubate someone with this condition, you are setting off a free radical bomb by supplying the cells with O2. It’s a catch-22, because we need oxygen to make Adenosine Triphosphate (that is, to live), but O2 is also the precursor of all these damaging radicals that lead to lipid peroxidation.

The correct treatment for severe COVID-19 related sepsis is non-invasive ventilation, steroids, and antioxidant infusions. Most of the drugs repurposed for COVID-19 that show any benefit whatsoever in rescuing critically-ill COVID-19 patients are antioxidants. N-acetylcysteine, melatonin, fluvoxamine, budesonide, famotidine, cimetidine, and ranitidine are all antioxidants. Indomethacin prevents iron- driven oxidation of arachidonic acid to isoprostanes. There are powerful antioxidants such as apocynin that have not even been tested on COVID-19 patients yet which could defang neutrophils, prevent lipid peroxidation, restore endothelial health, and restore oxygenation to the tissues.

Scientists who know anything about pulmonary neutrophilia, ARDS, and redox biology have known or surmised much of this since March 2020. In April 2020, Swiss scientists confirmed that COVID-19 was a vascular endotheliitis. By late 2020, experts had already concluded that COVID-19 causes a form of viral sepsis. They also know that sepsis can be effectively treated with antioxidants. None of this information is particularly new, and yet, for the most part, it has not been acted upon. Doctors continue to use damaging intubation techniques with high PEEP settings despite high lung compliance and poor oxygenation, killing an untold number of critically ill patients with medical malpractice.

Because of the way they are constructed, Randomized Control Trials will never show any benefit for any antiviral against COVID-19. Not Remdesivir, not Kaletra, not HCQ, and not Ivermectin. The reason for this is simple; for the patients that they have recruited for these studies, such as Oxford’s ludicrous RECOVERY study, the intervention is too late to have any positive effect.

The clinical course of COVID-19 is such that by the time most people seek medical attention for hypoxia, their viral load has already tapered off to almost nothing. If someone is about 10 days post-exposure and has already been symptomatic for five days, there is hardly any virus left in their bodies, only cellular damage and derangement that has initiated a hyperinflammatory response. It is from this group that the clinical trials for antivirals have recruited, pretty much exclusively.

In these trials, they give antivirals to severely ill patients who have no virus in their bodies, only a delayed hyperinflammatory response, and then absurdly claim that antivirals have no utility in treating or preventing COVID-19. These clinical trials do not recruit people who are pre-symptomatic. They do not test pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis.

This is like using a defibrillator to shock only flatline, and then absurdly claiming that defibrillators have no medical utility whatsoever when the patients refuse to rise from the dead. The intervention is too late. These trials for antivirals show systematic, egregious selection bias. They are providing a treatment that is futile to the specific cohort they are enrolling.

India went against the instructions of the WHO and mandated the prophylactic usage of Ivermectin. They have almost completely eradicated COVID-19. The Indian Bar Association of Mumbai has brought criminal charges against WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan for recommending against the use of Ivermectin.

Ivermectin is not “horse dewormer”. Yes, it is sold in veterinary paste form as a dewormer for animals. It has also been available in pill form for humans for decades, as an antiparasitic drug.

The media have disingenuously claimed that because Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug, it has no utility as an antivirus. This is incorrect. Ivermectin has utility as an antiviral. It blocks importin, preventing nuclear import, effectively inhibiting viral access to cell nuclei. Many drugs currently on the market have multiple modes of action. Ivermectin is one such drug. It is both antiparasitic and antiviral.

In Bangladesh, Ivermectin costs $1.80 for an entire 5-day course. Remdesivir, which is toxic to the liver, costs $3,120 for a 5-day course of the drug. Billions of dollars of utterly useless Remdesivir were sold to our governments on the taxpayer’s dime, and it ended up being totally useless for treating hyperinflammatory COVID-19. The media has hardly even covered this at all.

The opposition to the use of generic Ivermectin is not based in science. It is purely financially and politically-motivated. An effective non-vaccine intervention would jeopardize the rushed FDA approval of patented vaccines and medicines for which the pharmaceutical industry stands to rake in billions upon billions of dollars in sales on an ongoing basis.

The majority of the public are scientifically illiterate and cannot grasp what any of this even means, thanks to a pathetic educational system that has miseducated them. You would be lucky to find 1 in 100 people who have even the faintest clue what any of this actually means.

COVID-19 Transmission:

COVID-19 is airborne. The WHO carried water for China by claiming that the virus was only droplet- borne. Our own CDC absurdly claimed that it was mostly transmitted by fomite-to-face contact, which, given its rapid spread from Wuhan to the rest of the world, would have been physically impossible.

The ridiculous belief in fomite-to-face being a primary mode of transmission led to the use of surface disinfection protocols that wasted time, energy, productivity, and disinfectant.

The 6-foot guidelines are absolutely useless. The minimum safe distance to protect oneself from an aerosolized virus is to be 15+ feet away from an infected person, no closer. Realistically, no public transit is safe.

Surgical masks do not protect you from aerosols. The virus is too small and the filter media has too large of gaps to filter it out. They may catch respiratory droplets and keep the virus from being expelled by someone who is sick, but they do not filter a cloud of infectious aerosols if someone were to walk into said cloud.

The minimum level of protection against this virus is quite literally a P100 respirator, a PAPR/CAPR, or a 40mm NATO CBRN respirator, ideally paired with a full-body tyvek or tychem suit, gloves, and booties, with all the holes and gaps taped.

Live SARS-CoV-2 may potentially be detected in sewage outflows, and there may be oral-fecal transmission. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, in the Amoy Gardens incident, hundreds of people were infected by aerosolized fecal matter rising from floor drains in their apartments.

COVID-19 Vaccine Dangers:

The vaccines for COVID-19 are not sterilizing and do not prevent infection or transmission. They are “leaky” vaccines. This means they remove the evolutionary pressure on the virus to become less lethal. It also means that the vaccinated are perfect carriers. In other words, those who are vaccinated are a threat to the unvaccinated, not the other way around.

All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use have undergone minimal testing, with highly accelerated clinical trials. Though they appear to limit severe illness, the long-term safety profile of these vaccines remains unknown.

Some of these so-called “vaccines” utilize an untested new technology that has never been used in vaccines before. Traditional vaccines use weakened or killed virus to stimulate an immune response. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines do not. They are purported to consist of an intramuscular shot containing a suspension of lipid nanoparticles filled with messenger RNA. The way they generate an immune response is by fusing with cells in a vaccine recipient’s shoulder, undergoing endocytosis, releasing their mRNA cargo into those cells, and then utilizing the ribosomes in those cells to synthesize modified SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins in-situ.

These modified Spike proteins then migrate to the surface of the cell, where they are anchored in place by a transmembrane domain. The adaptive immune system detects the non-human viral protein being expressed by these cells, and then forms antibodies against that protein. This is purported to confer protection against the virus, by training the adaptive immune system to recognize and produce antibodies against the Spike on the actual virus. The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines do something similar, but use an adenovirus vector for genetic material delivery instead of a lipid nanoparticle. These vaccines were produced or validated with the aid of fetal cell lines HEK-293 and PER.C6, which people with certain religious convictions may object strongly to.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike is a highly pathogenic protein on its own. It is impossible to overstate the danger presented by introducing this protein into the human body.

It is claimed by vaccine manufacturers that the vaccine remains in cells in the shoulder, and that SARS- CoV-2 Spike produced and expressed by these cells from the vaccine’s genetic material is harmless and inert, thanks to the insertion of prolines in the Spike sequence to stabilize it in the prefusion conformation, preventing the Spike from becoming active and fusing with other cells. However, a pharmacokinetic study from Japan showed that the lipid nanoparticles and mRNA from the Pfizer vaccine did not stay in the shoulder, and in fact bioaccumulated in many different organs, including the reproductive organs and adrenal glands, meaning that modified Spike is being expressed quite literally all over the place. These lipid nanoparticles may trigger anaphylaxis in an unlucky few, but far more concerning is the unregulated expression of Spike in various somatic cell lines far from the injection site and the unknown consequences of that.

Messenger RNA is normally consumed right after it is produced in the body, being translated into a protein by a ribosome. COVID-19 vaccine mRNA is produced outside the body, long before a ribosome translates it. In the meantime, it could accumulate damage if inadequately preserved. When a ribosome attempts to translate a damaged strand of mRNA, it can become stalled. When this happens, the ribosome becomes useless for translating proteins because it now has a piece of mRNA stuck in it, like a lace card in an old punch card reader. The whole thing has to be cleaned up and new ribosomes synthesized to replace it. In cells with low ribosome turnover, like nerve cells, this can lead to reduced protein synthesis, cytopathic effects, and neuropathies.

Certain proteins, including SARS-CoV-2 Spike, have proteolytic cleavage sites that are basically like little dotted lines that say “cut here”, which attract a living organism’s own proteases (essentially, molecular scissors) to cut them. There is a possibility that S1 may be proteolytically cleaved from S2, causing active S1 to float away into the bloodstream while leaving the S2 “stalk” embedded in the membrane of the cell that expressed the protein.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a Superantigenic region (SAg), which may promote extreme inflammation.

Anti-Spike antibodies were found in one study to function as autoantibodies and attack the body’s own cells. Those who have been immunized with COVID-19 vaccines have developed blood clots, myocarditis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Bell’s Palsy, and multiple sclerosis flares, indicating that the vaccine promotes autoimmune reactions against healthy tissue.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike does not only bind to ACE2. It was suspected to have regions that bind to basigin, integrins, neuropilin-1, and bacterial lipopolysaccharides as well. SARS-CoV-2 Spike, on its own, can potentially bind any of these things and act as a ligand for them, triggering unspecified and likely highly inflammatory cellular activity.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike contains an unusual PRRA insert that forms a furin cleavage site. Furin is a ubiquitous human protease, making this an ideal property for the Spike to have, giving it a high degree of cell tropism. No wild-type SARS-like coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 possess this feature, making it highly suspicious, and perhaps a sign of human tampering.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a prion-like domain that enhances its infectiousness.

The Spike S1 RBD may bind to heparin-binding proteins and promote amyloid aggregation. In humans, this could lead to Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia, premature Alzheimer’s, or various other neurodegenerative diseases. This is very concerning because SARS-CoV-2 S1 is capable of injuring and penetrating the blood-brain barrier and entering the brain. It is also capable of increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to other molecules.

SARS-CoV-2, like other betacoronaviruses, may have Dengue-like ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement of disease. For those who aren’t aware, some viruses, including betacoronaviruses, have a feature called ADE. There is also something called Original Antigenic Sin, which is the observation that the body prefers to produce antibodies based on previously-encountered strains of a virus over newly- encountered ones.

In ADE, antibodies from a previous infection become non-neutralizing due to mutations in the virus’s proteins. These non-neutralizing antibodies then act as trojan horses, allowing live, active virus to be pulled into macrophages through their Fc receptor pathways, allowing the virus to infect immune cells that it would not have been able to infect before. This has been known to happen with Dengue Fever; when someone gets sick with Dengue, recovers, and then contracts a different strain, they can get very, very ill.

If someone is vaccinated with mRNA based on the Spike from the initial Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2, and then they become infected with a future, mutated strain of the virus, they may become severely ill. In other words, it is possible for vaccines to sensitize someone to disease.

There is a precedent for this in recent history. Sanofi’s Dengvaxia vaccine for Dengue failed because it caused immune sensitization in people whose immune systems were Dengue-naive.

In mice immunized against SARS-CoV and challenged with the virus, a close relative of SARS-CoV-2, they developed immune sensitization, Th2 immunopathology, and eosinophil infiltration in their lungs.

We have been told that SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines cannot be integrated into the human genome, because messenger RNA cannot be turned back into DNA. This is false. There are elements in human cells called LINE-1 retrotransposons, which can indeed integrate mRNA into a human genome by endogenous reverse transcription. Because the mRNA used in the vaccines is stabilized, it hangs around in cells longer, increasing the chances for this to happen. If the gene for SARS-CoV-2 Spike is integrated into a portion of the genome that is not silent and actually expresses a protein, it is possible that people who take this vaccine may continuously express SARS-CoV-2 Spike from their somatic cells for the rest of their lives.

By inoculating people with a vaccine that causes their bodies to produce Spike in-situ, they are being inoculated with a pathogenic protein. A toxin that may cause long-term inflammation, heart problems, and a raised risk of cancers. In the long-term, it may also potentially lead to premature neurodegenerative disease.

Absolutely nobody should be compelled to take this vaccine under any circumstances, and in actual fact, the vaccination campaign must be stopped immediately.

COVID-19 Criminal Conspiracy:

The vaccine and the virus were made by the same people.

In 2014, there was a moratorium on SARS gain-of-function research that lasted until 2017. This research was not halted. Instead, it was outsourced, with the federal grants being laundered through NGOs.

Ralph Baric is a virologist and SARS expert at UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina. This is who Anthony Fauci was referring to when he insisted, before Congress, that if any gain-of-function research was being conducted, it was being conducted in North Carolina.

This was a lie. Anthony Fauci lied before Congress. A felony.

Ralph Baric and Shi Zhengli are colleagues and have co-written papers together. Ralph Baric mentored Shi Zhengli in his gain-of-function manipulation techniques, particularly serial passage, which results in a virus that appears as if it originated naturally. In other words, deniable bioweapons. Serial passage in humanized hACE2 mice may have produced something like SARS-CoV-2.

The funding for the gain-of-function research being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology came from Peter Daszak. Peter Daszak runs an NGO called EcoHealth Alliance. EcoHealth Alliance received millions of dollars in grant money from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (that is, Anthony Fauci), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (part of the US Department of Defense), and the United States Agency for International Development. NIH/NIAID contributed a few million dollars, and DTRA and USAID each contributed tens of millions of dollars towards this research. Altogether, it was over a hundred million dollars.

EcoHealth Alliance subcontracted these grants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab in China with a very questionable safety record and poorly trained staff, so that they could conduct gain-of-function research, not in their fancy P4 lab, but in a level-2 lab where technicians wore nothing more sophisticated than perhaps a hairnet, latex gloves, and a surgical mask, instead of the bubble suits used when working with dangerous viruses. Chinese scientists in Wuhan reported being routinely bitten and urinated on by laboratory animals. Why anyone would outsource this dangerous and delicate work to the People’s Republic of China, a country infamous for industrial accidents and massive explosions that have claimed hundreds of lives, is completely beyond me, unless the aim was to start a pandemic on purpose.

In November of 2019, three technicians at the Wuhan Institute of Virology developed symptoms consistent with a flu-like illness. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, and Ralph Baric knew at once what had happened, because back channels exist between this laboratory and our scientists and officials.

December 12th, 2019, Ralph Baric signed a Material Transfer Agreement (essentially, an NDA) to receive Coronavirus mRNA vaccine-related materials co-owned by Moderna and NIH. It wasn’t until a whole month later, on January 11th, 2020, that China allegedly sent us the sequence to what would become known as SARS-CoV-2. Moderna claims, rather absurdly, that they developed a working vaccine from this sequence in under 48 hours.

Stephane Bancel, the current CEO of Moderna, was formerly the CEO of bioMerieux, a French multinational corporation specializing in medical diagnostic tech, founded by one Alain Merieux. Alain Merieux was one of the individuals who was instrumental in the construction of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s P4 lab.

The sequence given as the closest relative to SARS-CoV-2, RaTG13, is not a real virus. It is a forgery. It was made by entering a gene sequence by hand into a database, to create a cover story for the existence of SARS-CoV-2, which is very likely a gain-of-function chimera produced at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and was either leaked by accident or intentionally released.

The animal reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 has never been found.

This is not a conspiracy “theory”. It is an actual criminal conspiracy, in which people connected to the development of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 are directly connected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and their gain-of-function research by very few degrees of separation, if any. The paper trail is well- established.

The lab-leak theory has been suppressed because pulling that thread leads one to inevitably conclude that there is enough circumstantial evidence to link Moderna, the NIH, the WIV, and both the vaccine and the virus’s creation together. In a sane country, this would have immediately led to the world’s biggest RICO and mass murder case. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, Ralph Baric, Shi Zhengli, and Stephane Bancel, and their accomplices, would have been indicted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Instead, billions of our tax dollars were awarded to the perpetrators.

The FBI raided Allure Medical in Shelby Township north of Detroit for billing insurance for “fraudulent COVID-19 cures”. The treatment they were using? Intravenous Vitamin C. An antioxidant. Which, as described above, is an entirely valid treatment for COVID-19-induced sepsis, and indeed, is now part of the MATH+ protocol advanced by Dr. Paul E. Marik.

The FDA banned ranitidine (Zantac) due to supposed NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine) contamination. Ranitidine is not only an H2 blocker used as antacid, but also has a powerful antioxidant effect, scavenging hydroxyl radicals. This gives it utility in treating COVID-19.

The FDA also attempted to take N-acetylcysteine, a harmless amino acid supplement and antioxidant, off the shelves, compelling Amazon to remove it from their online storefront.

This leaves us with a chilling question: did the FDA knowingly suppress antioxidants useful for treating COVID-19 sepsis as part of a criminal conspiracy against the American public?

The establishment is cooperating with, and facilitating, the worst criminals in human history, and are actively suppressing non-vaccine treatments and therapies in order to compel us to inject these criminals’ products into our bodies. This is absolutely unacceptable.

COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Links to Transhumanism:

This section deals with some more speculative aspects of the pandemic and the medical and scientific establishment’s reaction to it, as well as the disturbing links between scientists involved in vaccine research and scientists whose work involved merging nanotechnology with living cells.

On June 9th, 2020, Charles Lieber, a Harvard nanotechnology researcher with decades of experience, was indicted by the DOJ for fraud. Charles Lieber received millions of dollars in grant money from the US Department of Defense, specifically the military think tanks DARPA, AFOSR, and ONR, as well as NIH and MITRE. His specialty is the use of silicon nanowires in lieu of patch clamp electrodes to monitor and modulate intracellular activity, something he has been working on at Harvard for the past twenty years. He was claimed to have been working on silicon nanowire batteries in China, but none of his colleagues can recall him ever having worked on battery technology in his life; all of his research deals with bionanotechnology, or the blending of nanotech with living cells.

The indictment was over his collaboration with the Wuhan University of Technology. He had double- dipped, against the terms of his DOD grants, and taken money from the PRC’s Thousand Talents plan, a program which the Chinese government uses to bribe Western scientists into sharing proprietary R&D information that can be exploited by the PLA for strategic advantage.

Charles Lieber’s own papers describe the use of silicon nanowires for brain-computer interfaces, or “neural lace” technology. His papers describe how neurons can endocytose whole silicon nanowires or parts of them, monitoring and even modulating neuronal activity.

Charles Lieber was a colleague of Robert Langer. Together, along with Daniel S. Kohane, they worked on a paper describing artificial tissue scaffolds that could be implanted in a human heart to monitor its activity remotely.

Robert Langer, an MIT alumnus and expert in nanotech drug delivery, is one of the co-founders of Moderna. His net worth is now $5.1 billion USD thanks to Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine sales.

Both Charles Lieber and Robert Langer’s bibliographies describe, essentially, techniques for human enhancement, i.e. transhumanism. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum and the architect behind the so-called “Great Reset”, has long spoken of the “blending of biology and machinery” in his books.

Since these revelations, it has come to the attention of independent researchers that the COVID-19 vaccines may contain reduced graphene oxide nanoparticles. Japanese researchers have also found unexplained contaminants in COVID-19 vaccines.

Graphene oxide is an anxiolytic. It has been shown to reduce the anxiety of laboratory mice when injected into their brains. Indeed, given SARS-CoV-2 Spike’s propensity to compromise the blood-brain barrier and increase its permeability, it is the perfect protein for preparing brain tissue for extravasation of nanoparticles from the bloodstream and into the brain. Graphene is also highly conductive and, in some circumstances, paramagnetic.

In 2013, under the Obama administration, DARPA launched the BRAIN Initiative; BRAIN is an acronym for Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies®. This program involves the development of brain-computer interface technologies for the military, particularly non-invasive, injectable systems that cause minimal damage to brain tissue when removed. Supposedly, this technology would be used for healing wounded soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, the direct brain control of prosthetic limbs, and even new abilities such as controlling drones with one’s mind.

Various methods have been proposed for achieving this, including optogenetics, magnetogenetics, ultrasound, implanted electrodes, and transcranial electromagnetic stimulation. In all instances, the goal is to obtain read or read-write capability over neurons, either by stimulating and probing them, or by rendering them especially sensitive to stimulation and probing.

However, the notion of the widespread use of BCI technology, such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink device, raises many concerns over privacy and personal autonomy. Reading from neurons is problematic enough on its own. Wireless brain-computer interfaces may interact with current or future wireless GSM infrastructure, creating neurological data security concerns. A hacker or other malicious actor may compromise such networks to obtain people’s brain data, and then exploit it for nefarious purposes.

However, a device capable of writing to human neurons, not just reading from them, presents another, even more serious set of ethical concerns. A BCI that is capable of altering the contents of one’s mind for innocuous purposes, such as projecting a heads-up display onto their brain’s visual center or sending audio into one’s auditory cortex, would also theoretically be capable of altering mood and personality, or perhaps even subjugating someone’s very will, rendering them utterly obedient to authority. This technology would be a tyrant’s wet dream. Imagine soldiers who would shoot their own countrymen without hesitation, or helpless serfs who are satisfied to live in literal dog kennels.

BCIs could be used to unscrupulously alter perceptions of basic things such as emotions and values, changing people’s thresholds of satiety, happiness, anger, disgust, and so forth. This is not inconsequential. Someone’s entire regime of behaviors could be altered by a BCI, including such things as suppressing their appetite or desire for virtually anything on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Anything is possible when you have direct access to someone’s brain and its contents. Someone who is obese could be made to feel disgust at the sight of food. Someone who is involuntarily celibate could have their libido disabled so they don’t even desire sex to begin with. Someone who is racist could be forced to feel delight over cohabiting with people of other races. Someone who is violent could be forced to be meek and submissive. These things might sound good to you if you are a tyrant, but to normal people, the idea of personal autonomy being overridden to such a degree is appalling.

For the wealthy, neural laces would be an unequaled boon, giving them the opportunity to enhance their intelligence with neuroprosthetics (i.e. an “exocortex”), and to deliver irresistible commands directly into the minds of their BCI-augmented servants, even physically or sexually abusive commands that they would normally refuse.

If the vaccine is a method to surreptitiously introduce an injectable BCI into millions of people without their knowledge or consent, then what we are witnessing is the rise of a tyrannical regime unlike anything ever seen before on the face of this planet, one that fully intends to strip every man, woman, and child of our free will.

Our flaws are what make us human. A utopia arrived at by removing people’s free will is not a utopia at all. It is a monomaniacal nightmare. Furthermore, the people who rule over us are Dark Triad types who cannot be trusted with such power. Imagine being beaten and sexually assaulted by a wealthy and powerful psychopath and being forced to smile and laugh over it because your neural lace gives you no choice but to obey your master.

The Elites are forging ahead with this technology without giving people any room to question the social or ethical ramifications, or to establish regulatory frameworks that ensure that our personal agency and autonomy will not be overridden by these devices. They do this because they secretly dream of a future where they can treat you worse than an animal and you cannot even fight back. If this evil plan is allowed to continue, it will spell the end of humanity as we know it.

Conclusions:

The current pandemic was produced and perpetuated by the establishment, through the use of a virus engineered in a PLA-connected Chinese biowarfare laboratory, with the aid of American taxpayer dollars and French expertise.

This research was conducted under the absolutely ridiculous euphemism of “gain-of-function” research, which is supposedly carried out in order to determine which viruses have the highest potential for zoonotic spillover and preemptively vaccinate or guard against them.

Gain-of-function/gain-of-threat research, a.k.a. “Dual-Use Research of Concern”, or DURC, is bioweapon research by another, friendlier-sounding name, simply to avoid the taboo of calling it what it actually is. It has always been bioweapon research. The people who are conducting this research fully understand that they are taking wild pathogens that are not infectious in humans and making them more infectious, often taking grants from military think tanks encouraging them to do so.

These virologists conducting this type of research are enemies of their fellow man, like pyromaniac firefighters. GOF research has never protected anyone from any pandemic. In fact, it has now started one, meaning its utility for preventing pandemics is actually negative. It should have been banned globally, and the lunatics performing it should have been put in straitjackets long ago.

Either through a leak or an intentional release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a deadly SARS strain is now endemic across the globe, after the WHO and CDC and public officials first downplayed the risks, and then intentionally incited a panic and lockdowns that jeopardized people’s health and their livelihoods.

This was then used by the utterly depraved and psychopathic aristocratic class who rule over us as an excuse to coerce people into accepting an injected poison which may be a depopulation agent, a mind control/pacification agent in the form of injectable “smart dust”, or both in one. They believe they can get away with this by weaponizing the social stigma of vaccine refusal. They are incorrect.

Their motives are clear and obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. These megalomaniacs have raided the pension funds of the free world. Wall Street is insolvent and has had an ongoing liquidity crisis since the end of 2019. The aim now is to exert total, full-spectrum physical, mental, and financial control over humanity before we realize just how badly we’ve been extorted by these maniacs.

The pandemic and its response served multiple purposes for the Elite:

  • Concealing a depression brought on by the usurious plunder of our economies conducted by rentier-capitalists and absentee owners who produce absolutely nothing of any value to society whatsoever. Instead of us having a very predictable Occupy Wall Street Part II, the Elites and their stooges got to stand up on television and paint themselves as wise and all-powerful saviors instead of the marauding cabal of despicable land pirates that they are.

  • Destroying small businesses and eroding the middle class.

  • Transferring trillions of dollars of wealth from the American public and into the pockets of billionaires and special interests.

  • Engaging in insider trading, buying stock in biotech companies and shorting brick-and-mortar businesses and travel companies, with the aim of collapsing face-to-face commerce and tourism and replacing it with e-commerce and servitization.

  • Creating a casus belli for war with China, encouraging us to attack them, wasting American lives and treasure and driving us to the brink of nuclear armageddon.

  • Establishing technological and biosecurity frameworks for population control and technocratic- socialist “smart cities” where everyone’s movements are despotically tracked, all in anticipation of widespread automation, joblessness, and food shortages, by using the false guise of a vaccine to compel cooperation.

Any one of these things would constitute a vicious rape of Western society. Taken together, they beggar belief; they are a complete inversion of our most treasured values.

What is the purpose of all of this? One can only speculate as to the perpetrators’ motives, however, we have some theories.

The Elites are trying to pull up the ladder, erase upward mobility for large segments of the population, cull political opponents and other “undesirables”, and put the remainder of humanity on a tight leash, rationing our access to certain goods and services that they have deemed “high-impact”, such as automobile use, tourism, meat consumption, and so on. Naturally, they will continue to have their own luxuries, as part of a strict caste system akin to feudalism.

Why are they doing this? Simple. The Elites are Neo-Malthusians and believe that we are overpopulated and that resource depletion will collapse civilization in a matter of a few short decades. They are not necessarily incorrect in this belief. We are overpopulated, and we are consuming too many resources. However, orchestrating such a gruesome and murderous power grab in response to a looming crisis demonstrates that they have nothing but the utmost contempt for their fellow man.

To those who are participating in this disgusting farce without any understanding of what they are doing, we have one word for you. Stop. You are causing irreparable harm to your country and to your fellow citizens.

To those who may be reading this warning and have full knowledge and understanding of what they are doing and how it will unjustly harm millions of innocent people, we have a few more words.

Damn you to hell. You will not destroy America and the Free World, and you will not have your New World Order. We will make certain of that.

*  *  *

This PDF document contains 14 pages, followed by another 17 pages of references.

For those, please visit the original PDF file at Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 00:00
Published:9/26/2021 11:37:48 PM
[Markets] 30 Facts You Need To Know: A COVID Cribsheet 30 Facts You Need To Know: A COVID Cribsheet

Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org,

You asked for it, so we made it. A collection of all the arguments you’ll ever need.

We get a lot of e-mails and private messages along these lines “do you have a source for X?” or “can you point me to mask studies?” or “I know I saw a graph for mortality, but I can’t find it anymore”. And we understand, it’s been a long 18 months, and there are so many statistics and numbers to try and keep straight in your head.

So, to deal with all these requests, we decided to make a bullet-pointed and sourced list for all the key points. A one-stop-shop.

Here are key facts and sources about the alleged “pandemic”, that will help you get a grasp on what has happened to the world since January 2020, and help you enlighten any of your friends who might be still trapped in the New Normal fog: “Covid deaths” – Lockdowns – PCR Tests – “asymptomatic infection” – Ventilators – Masks – Vaccines – Deception & Foreknowledge

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PART I: “COVID DEATHS” & MORTALITY

1. The survival rate of “Covid” is over 99%. Government medical experts went out of their way to underline, from the beginning of the pandemic, that the vast majority of the population are not in any danger from Covid.

Almost all studies on the infection-fatality ratio (IFR) of Covid have returned results between 0.04% and 0.5%. Meaning Covid’s survival rate is at least 99.5%.

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2. There has been NO unusual excess mortality. The press has called 2020 the UK’s “deadliest year since world war two”, but this is misleading because it ignores the massive increase in the population since that time. A more reasonable statistical measure of mortality is Age-Standardised Mortality Rate (ASMR):

By this measure, 2020 isn’t even the worst year for mortality since 2000, In fact since 1943 only 9 years have been better than 2020.

Similarly, in the US the ASMR for 2020 is only at 2004 levels:

For a detailed breakdown of how Covid affected mortality across Western Europe and the US click here. What increases in mortality we have seen could be attributable to non-Covid causes [facts 79 & 19].

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3. “Covid death” counts are artificially inflated. Countries around the globe have been defining a “Covid death” as a “death by any cause within 28/30/60 days of a positive test”.

Healthcare officials from Italy, Germany, the UK, US, Northern Ireland and others have all admitted to this practice:

Removing any distinction between dying of Covid, and dying of something else after testing positive for Covid will naturally lead to over-counting of “Covid deaths”. British pathologist Dr John Lee was warning of this “substantial over-estimate” as early as last spring. Other mainstream sources have reported it, too.

Considering the huge percentage of “asymptomatic” Covid infections [14], the well-known prevalence of serious comorbidities [fact 4] and the potential for false-positive tests [fact 18], this renders the Covid death numbers an extremely unreliable statistic.

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4. The vast majority of covid deaths have serious comorbidities. In March 2020, the Italian government published statistics showing 99.2% of their “Covid deaths” had at least one serious comorbidity.

These included cancer, heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure and diabetes (among others). Over 50% of them had three or more serious pre-existing conditions.

This pattern has held up in all other countries over the course of the “pandemic”. An October 2020 FOIA request to the UK’s ONS revealed less than 10% of the official “Covid death” count at that time had Covid as the sole cause of death.

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5. Average age of “Covid death” is greater than the average life expectancy. The average age of a “Covid death” in the UK is 82.5 years. In Italy it’s 86. Germany, 83. Switzerland, 86. Canada, 86. The US, 78, Australia, 82.

In almost all cases the median age of a “Covid death” is higher than the national life expectancy.

As such, for most of the world, the “pandemic” has had little-to-no impact on life expectancy. Contrast this with the Spanish flu, which saw a 28% drop in life expectancy in the US in just over a year. [source]

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6. Covid mortality exactly mirrors the natural mortality curve. Statistical studies from the UK and India have shown that the curve for “Covid death” follows the curve for expected mortality almost exactly:

The risk of death “from Covid” follows, almost exactly, your background risk of death in general.

The small increase for some of the older age groups can be accounted for by other factors.[facts 79 & 19]

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7. There has been a massive increase in the use of “unlawful” DNRs. Watchdogs and government agencies have reported huge increases in the use of Do Not Resuscitate Orders (DNRs) over the last twenty months.

In the US, hospitals considered “universal DNRs” for any patient who tested positive for Covid, and whistleblowing nurses have admitted the DNR system was abused in New York.

In the UK there was an “unprecdented” rise in “illegal” DNRs for disabled people, GP surgeries sent out letters to non-terminal patients recommending they sign DNR orders, whilst other doctors signed “blanket DNRs” for entire nursing homes.

study done by Sheffield Univerisity found over one-third of all “suspected” Covid patients had a DNR attached to their file within 24 hours of hospital admission.

Blanket use of coerced or illegal DNR orders could account for any increases in mortality in 2020/21.[Facts 2 & 6]

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PART II: LOCKDOWNS

8. Lockdowns do not prevent the spread of disease. There is little to no evidence lockdowns have any impact on limiting “Covid deaths”. If you compare regions that locked down to regions that did not, you can see no pattern at all.

“Covid deaths” in Florida (no lockdown) vs California (lockdown)

“Covid deaths” in Sweden (no lockdown) vs UK (lockdown)

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9. Lockdowns kill people. There is strong evidence that lockdowns – through social, economic and other public health damage – are deadlier than the “virus”.

Dr David Nabarro, World Health Organization special envoy for Covid-19 described lockdowns as a “global catastrophe” in October 2020:

We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of the virus[…] it seems we may have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition […] This is a terrible, ghastly global catastrophe.”

A UN report from April 2020 warned of 100,000s of children being killed by the economic impact of lockdowns, while tens of millions more face possible poverty and famine.

Unemployment, poverty, suicide, alcoholism, drug use and other social/mental health crises are spiking all over the world. While missed and delayed surgeries and screenings are going to see increased mortality from heart disease, cancer et al. in the near future.

The impact of lockdown would account for the small increases in excess mortality [Facts 2 & 6]

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10. Hospitals were never unusually over-burdened. the main argument used to defend lockdowns is that “flattening the curve” would prevent a rapid influx of cases and protect healthcare systems from collapse. But most healthcare systems were never close to collapse at all.

In March 2020 it was reported that hospitals in Spain and Italy were over-flowing with patients, but this happens every flu season. In 2017 Spanish hospitals were at 200% capacity, and 2015 saw patients sleeping in corridors. A paper JAMA paper from March 2020 found that Italian hospitals “typically run at 85-90% capacity in the winter months”.

In the UK, the NHS is regularly stretched to breaking point over the winter.

As part of their Covid policy, the NHS announced in Spring of 2020 that they would be “re-organizing hospital capacity in new ways to treat Covid and non-Covid patients separately” and that “as result hospitals will experience capacity pressures at lower overall occupancy rates than would previously have been the case.”

This means they removed thousands of beds. During an alleged deadly pandemic, they reduced the maximum occupancy of hospitals. Despite this, the NHS never felt pressure beyond your typical flu season, and at times actually had 4x more empty beds than normal.

In both the UK and US millions were spent on temporary emergency hospitals that were never used.

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PART III: PCR TESTS

11. PCR tests were not designed to diagnose illness. The Reverse-Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test is described in the media as the “gold standard” for Covid diagnosis. But the Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the process never intended it to be used as a diagnostic tool, and said so publicly:

PCR is just a process that allows you to make a whole lot of something out of something. It doesn’t tell you that you are sick, or that the thing that you ended up with was going to hurt you or anything like that.”

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12. PCR Tests have a history of being inaccurate and unreliable. The “gold standard” PCR tests for Covid are known to produce a lot of false-positive results, by reacting to DNA material that is not specific to Sars-Cov-2.

A Chinese study found the same patient could get two different results from the same test on the same day. In Germany, tests are known to have reacted to common cold viruses. A 2006 study found PCR tests for one virus responded to other viruses too. In 2007, a reliance on PCR tests resulted in an “outbreak” of Whooping Cough that never actually existed. Some tests in the US even reacted to the negative control sample.

The late President of Tanzania, John Magufuli, submitted samples goat, pawpaw and motor oil for PCR testing, all came back positive for the virus.

As early as February of 2020 experts were admitting the test was unreliable. Dr Wang Cheng, president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences told Chinese state television “The accuracy of the tests is only 30-50%”. The Australian government’s own website claimed “There is limited evidence available to assess the accuracy and clinical utility of available COVID-19 tests.” And a Portuguese court ruled that PCR tests were “unreliable” and should not be used for diagnosis.

You can read detailed breakdowns of the failings of PCR tests herehere and here.

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13. The CT values of the PCR tests are too high. PCR tests are run in cycles, the number of cycles you use to get your result is known as your “cycle threshold” or CT value. Kary Mullis said“If you have to go more than 40 cycles[…]there is something seriously wrong with your PCR.”

The MIQE PCR guidelines agree, stating: “[CT] values higher than 40 are suspect because of the implied low efficiency and generally should not be reported,” Dr Fauci himself even admitted anything over 35 cycles is almost never culturable.

Dr Juliet Morrison, virologist at the University of California, Riverside, told the New York TimesAny test with a cycle threshold above 35 is too sensitive…I’m shocked that people would think that 40 [cycles] could represent a positive…A more reasonable cutoff would be 30 to 35?.

In the same article Dr Michael Mina, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said the limit should be 30, and the author goes on to point out that reducing the CT from 40 to 30 would have reduced “covid cases” in some states by as much as 90%.

The CDC’s own data suggests no sample over 33 cycles could be cultured, and Germany’s Robert Koch Institute says nothing over 30 cycles is likely to be infectious.

Despite this, it is known almost all the labs in the US are running their tests at least 37 cycles and sometimes as high as 45. The NHS “standard operating procedure” for PCR tests rules set the limit at 40 cycles.

Based on what we know about the CT values, the majority of PCR test results are at best questionable.

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14. The World Health Organization (Twice) Admitted PCR tests produced false positives. In December 2020 WHO put out a briefing memo on the PCR process instructing labs to be wary of high CT values causing false positive results:

when specimens return a high Ct value, it means that many cycles were required to detect virus. In some circumstances, the distinction between background noise and actual presence of the target virus is difficult to ascertain.

Then, in January 2021, the WHO released another memo, this time warning that “asymptomatic” positive PCR tests should be re-tested because they might be false positives:

Where test results do not correspond with the clinical presentation, a new specimen should be taken and retested using the same or different NAT technology.

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15. The scientific basis for Covid tests is questionable. The genome of the Sars-Cov-2 virus was supposedly sequenced by Chinese scientists in December 2019, then published on January 10th 2020. Less than two weeks later, German virologists (Christian Drosten et al.) had allegedly used the genome to create assays for PCR tests.

They wrote a paper, Detection of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) by real-time RT-PCR, which was submitted for publication on January 21st 2020, and then accepted on January 22nd. Meaning the paper was allegedly “peer-reviewed” in less than 24 hours. A process that typically takes weeks.

Since then, a consortium of over forty life scientists has petitioned for the withdrawal of the paper, writing a lengthy report detailing 10 major errors in the paper’s methodology.

They have also requested the release of the journal’s peer-review report, to prove the paper really did pass through the peer-review process. The journal has yet to comply.

The Corman-Drosten assays are the root of every Covid PCR test in the world. If the paper is questionable, every PCR test is also questionable.

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PART IV: “ASYMPTOMATIC INFECTION”

16. The majority of Covid infections are “asymptomatic”. From as early as March 2020, studies done in Italy were suggesting 50-75% of positive Covid tests had no symptoms. Another UK study from August 2020 found as much as 86% of “Covid patients” experienced no viral symptoms at all.

It is literally impossible to tell the difference between an “asymptomatic case” and a false-positive test result.

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17. There is very little evidence supporting the alleged danger of “asymptomatic transmission”. In June 2020, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said:

From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,”

A meta-analysis of Covid studies, published by Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in December 2020, found that asymptomatic carriers had a less than 1% chance of infecting people within their household. Another study, done on influenza in 2009, found:

…limited evidence to suggest the importance of [asymptomatic] transmission. The role of asymptomatic or presymptomatic influenza-infected individuals in disease transmission may have been overestimated…”

Given the known flaws of the PCR tests, many “asymptomatic cases” may be false positives.[fact 14]

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PART V: VENTILATORS

18. Ventilation is NOT a treatment for respiratory viruses. Mechanical ventilation is not, and never has been, recommended treatment for respiratory infection of any kind. In the early days of the pandemic, many doctors came forward questioning the use of ventilators to treat “Covid”.

Writing in The Spectator, Dr Matt Strauss stated:

Ventilators do not cure any disease. They can fill your lungs with air when you find yourself unable to do so yourself. They are associated with lung diseases in the public’s consciousness, but this is not in fact their most common or most appropriate application.

German Pulmonologist Dr Thomas Voshaar, chairman of Association of Pneumatological Clinics said:

When we read the first studies and reports from China and Italy, we immediately asked ourselves why intubation was so common there. This contradicted our clinical experience with viral pneumonia.

Despite this, the WHOCDCECDC and NHS all “recommended” Covid patients be ventilated instead of using non-invasive methods.

This was not a medical policy designed to best treat the patients, but rather to reduce the hypothetical spread of Covid by preventing patients from exhaling aerosol droplets.

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19. Ventilators killed people. Putting someone who is suffering from influenza, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or any other condition which restricts breathing or affects the lungs, will not alleviate any of those symptoms. In fact, it will almost certainly make it worse, and will kill many of them.

Intubation tubes are a source of potential a infection known as “ventilator-associated pneumonia”, which studies show affects up to 28% of all people put on ventilators, and kills 20-55% of those infected.

Mechanical ventilation is also damaging to the physical structure of the lungs, resulting in “ventilator-induced lung injury”, which can dramatically impact quality of life, and even result in death.

Experts estimate 40-50% of ventilated patients die, regardless of their disease. Around the world, between 66 and 86% of all “Covid patients” put on ventilators died.

According to the “undercover nurse”, ventilators were being used so improperly in New York, they were destroying patients’ lungs:

This policy was negligence at best, and potentially deliberate murder at worst. This misuse of ventilators could account for any increase in mortality in 2020/21 [Facts 2 & 6]

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PART VI: MASKS

20. Masks don’t work. At least a dozen scientific studies have shown that masks do nothing to stop the spread of respiratory viruses.

One meta-analysis published by the CDC in May 2020 found “no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks”.

Another study with over 8000 subjects found masks “did not seem to be effective against laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections nor against clinical respiratory infection.”

There are literally too many to quote them all, but you can read them: [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] Or read a summary by SPR here.

While some studies have been done claiming to show mask do work for Covid, they are all seriously flawed. One relied on self-reported surveys as data. Another was so badly designed a panel of experts demand it be withdrawn. A third was withdrawn after its predictions proved entirely incorrect.

The WHO commissioned their own meta-analysis in the Lancet, but that study looked only at N95 masks and only in hospitals. [For full run down on the bad data in this study click here.]

Aside from scientific evidence, there’s plenty of real-world evidence that masks do nothing to halt the spread of disease.

For example, North Dakota and South Dakota had near-identical case figures, despite one having a mask-mandate and the other not:

In Kansas, counties without mask mandates actually had fewer Covid “cases” than counties with mask mandates. And despite masks being very common in Japan, they had their worst flu outbreak in decades in 2019.

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21. Masks are bad for your health. Wearing a mask for long periods, wearing the same mask more than once, and other aspects of cloth masks can be bad for your health. A long study on the detrimental effects of mask-wearing was recently published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Dr. James Meehan reported in August 2020 he was seeing increases in bacterial pneumonia, fungal infections, facial rashes .

Masks are also known to contain plastic microfibers, which damage the lungs when inhaled and may be potentially carcinogenic.

Childen wearing masks encourages mouth-breathing, which results in facial deformities.

People around the world have passed out due to CO2 poisoning while wearing their masks, and some children in China even suffered sudden cardiac arrest.

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22. Masks are bad for the planet. Millions upon millions of disposable masks have been used per month for over a year. A report from the UN found the Covid19 pandemic will likely result in plastic waste more than doubling in the next few years., and the vast majority of that is face masks.

The report goes on to warn these masks (and other medical waste) will clog sewage and irrigation systems, which will have knock on effects on public health, irrigation and agriculture.

A study from the University of Swansea found “heavy metals and plastic fibres were released when throw-away masks were submerged in water.” These materials are toxic to both people and wildlife.

*  *  *

PART VII: VACCINES

23. Covid “vaccines” are totally unprecedented. Before 2020 no successful vaccine against a human coronavirus had ever been developed. Since then we have allegedly made 20 of them in 18 months.

Scientists have been trying to develop a SARS and MERS vaccine for years with little success. Some of the failed SARS vaccines actually caused hypersensitivity to the SARS virus. Meaning that vaccinated mice could potentially get the disease more severely than unvaccinated mice. Another attempt caused liver damage in ferrets.

While traditional vaccines work by exposing the body to a weakened strain of the microorganism responsible for causing the disease, these new Covid vaccines are mRNA vaccines.

mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccines theoretically work by injecting viral mRNA into the body, where it replicates inside your cells and encourages your body to recognise, and make antigens for, the “spike proteins” of the virus. They have been the subject of research since the 1990s, but before 2020 no mRNA vaccine was ever approved for use.

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24. Vaccines do not confer immunity or prevent transmission. It is readily admitted that Covid “vaccines” do not confer immunity from infection and do not prevent you from passing the disease onto others. Indeed, an article in the British Medical Journal highlighted that the vaccine studies were not designed to even try and assess if the “vaccines” limited transmission.

The vaccine manufacturers themselves, upon releasing the untested mRNA gene therapies, were quite clear their product’s “efficacy” was based on “reducing the severity of symptoms”.

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25. The vaccines were rushed and have unknown longterm effects. Vaccine development is a slow, laborious process. Usually, from development through testing and finally being approved for public use takes many years. The various vaccines for Covid were all developed and approved in less than a year. Obviously there can be no long-term safety data on chemicals which are less than a year old.

Pfizer even admit this is true in the leaked supply contract between the pharmaceutical giant, and the government of Albania:

the long-term effects and efficacy of the Vaccine are not currently known and that there may be adverse effects of the Vaccine that are not currently known

Further, none of the vaccines have been subject to proper trials. Many of them skipped early-stage trials entirely, and the late-stage human trials have either not been peer-reviewed, have not released their data, will not finish until 2023 or were abandoned after “severe adverse effects”.

*

26. Vaccine manufacturers have been granted legal indemnity should they cause harm. The USA’s Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP) grants immunity until at least 2024.

The EU’s product licensing law does the same, and there are reports of confidential liability clauses in the contracts the EU signed with vaccine manufacturers.

The UK went even further, granting permanent legal indemnity to the government, and any employees thereof, for any harm done when a patient is being treated for Covid19 or “suspected Covid19”.

Again, the leaked Albanian contract suggests that Pfizer, at least, made this indemnity a standard demand of supplying Covid vaccines:

Purchaser hereby agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless Pfizer […] from and against any and all suits, claims, actions, demands, losses, damages, liabilities, settlements, penalties, fines, costs and expenses

*  *  *

PART VIII: DECEPTION & FOREKNOWLEDGE

27. The EU was preparing “vaccine passports” at least a YEAR before the pandemic began. Proposed COVID countermeasures, presented to the public as improvised emergency measures, have existed since before the emergence of the disease.

Two EU documents published in 2018, the “2018 State of Vaccine Confidence” and a technical report titled “Designing and implementing an immunisation information system” discussed the plausibility of an EU-wide vaccination monitoring system.

These documents were combined into the 2019 “Vaccination Roadmap”, which (among other things) established a “feasibility study” on vaccine passports to begin in 2019 and finish in 2021:

This report’s final conclusions were released to the public in September 2019, just a month before Event 201 (below).

*

28. A “training exercise” predicted the pandemic just weeks before it started. In October 2019 the World Economic Forum and Johns Hopkins University held Event 201. This was a training exercise based on a zoonotic coronavirus starting a worldwide pandemic. The exercise was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI the vaccine alliance.

The exercise published its findings and recommendations in November 2019 as a “call to action”. One month later, China recorded their first case of “Covid”.

*

29. Since the beginning of 2020, the Flu has “disappeared”. In the United States, since Februart 2020, influenza cases have allegedly dropped by over 98%.

It’s not just the US either, globally flu has apparently almost completely disappeared.

Meanwhile, a new disease called “Covid”, which has identical symptoms and a similar mortality rate to influenza, is supposedly sweeping the globe.

*

30. The elite have made fortunes during the pandemic. Since the beginning of lockdown the wealthiest people have become significantly wealthier. Forbes reported that 40 new billionaires have been created “fighting the coronavirus”, with 9 of them being vaccine manufacturers.

Business Insider reported that “billionaires saw their net worth increase by half a trillion dollars” by October 2020.

Clearly that number will be even bigger by now.

*  *  *

These are the vital facts of the pandemic, presented here as a resource to help formulate and support your arguments with friends or strangers. Thanks to all the researchers who have collated and collected this information over the last twenty months, especially Swiss Policy Research.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 07:00
Published:9/26/2021 6:09:08 AM
[Markets] Texas Moves To Divest From Ben & Jerry’s Over Israeli Settlement Ban Texas Moves To Divest From Ben & Jerry’s Over Israeli Settlement Ban

Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,

Texas has added Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever to a list of companies that are "boycotting Israel" over the ice cream company’s decision to stop selling its product in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The firms have 90 days from being notified that they’re on the list to reverse the settlement ban, or Texas will remove about $100 million in pension funds that are invested in Unilever.

Image source: The Texan

While Ben & Jerry’s is accused of boycotting Israel, their policy only applies to illegal settlements in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the ice cream will still be sold in Israel. But Texas has a broad definition of what it considers to be boycotting the Jewish State.

Texas law defines boycotting Israel as "refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in an Israeli-controlled territory."

Other states have taken action against Unilver over the settlement ban. Florida and New Jersey have added Unilever to a similar list, and Arizona has already begun to pull millions out of Unilever.

There are over 30 US states with laws against the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that calls for international boycotts to put pressure on Israel over its crimes against the Palestinians. The laws prohibit states from doing business with companies and individuals that are determined to be boycotting Israel. Contractors wishing to do business with these states have to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel.

After Ben & Jerry’s announced its move to stop selling ice cream in the occupied territories in July, Israel launched a "maximum pressure" campaign to influence the US and urged states with anti-BDS laws on the books to take action.

Disclosure: Antiwar.com has received donations in the past from Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/25/2021 - 20:00
Published:9/25/2021 7:25:45 PM
[Markets] "Immunity As A Service" - The Snake-Oil Salesmen & The COVID-Zero Con "Immunity As A Service" - The Snake-Oil Salesmen & The COVID-Zero Con

Authored by Julius Ruechel via Julius Ruechel.com,

The Snake-Oil Salesmen and the COVID-Zero Con: A Classic Bait-And-Switch for a Lifetime of Booster Shots (Immunity as a Service)

If a plumber with a lifetime of experience were to tell you that water runs uphill, you would know he is lying and that the lie is not accidental. It is a lie with a purpose. If you can also demonstrate that the plumber knows in advance that the product he is promoting with that lie is snake oil, you have evidence for a deliberate con. And once you understand what's really inside that bottle of snake oil, you will begin to understand the purpose of the con.

One of the most common reasons given for mass COVID vaccinations is the idea that if we reach herd immunity through vaccination, we can starve the virus out of existence and get our lives back. It's the COVID-Zero strategy or some variant of it.

By now it is abundantly clear from the epidemiological data that the vaccinated are able to both catch and spread the disease.

Clearly vaccination isn't going to make this virus disappear. Only a mind that has lost its grasp on reality can fail to see how ridiculous all this has become. 

But a tour through pre-COVID science demonstrates that, from day one, long before you and I had even heard of this virus, it was 100% inevitable and 100% predictable that these vaccines would never be capable of eradicating this coronavirus and would never lead to any kind of lasting herd immunity. Even worse, lockdowns and mass vaccination have created a dangerous set of circumstances that interferes with our immune system's ability to protect us against other respiratory viruses. They also risk driving the evolution of this virus towards mutations that are more dangerous to both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated alike. Lockdowns, mass vaccinations, and mass booster shots were never capable of delivering on any of the promises that were made to the public. 

And yet, vaccination has been successfully used to control measles and even to eradicate smallpox. So, why not COVID? Immunity is immunity, and a virus is a virus is a virus, right? Wrong! Reality is far more complicated... and more interesting.

This Deep Dive exposes why, from day one, the promise of COVID-Zero can only ever have been a deliberately dishonest shell game designed to prey on a lack of public understanding of how our immune systems work and on how most respiratory viruses differ from other viruses that we routinely vaccinate against. We have been sold a fantasy designed to rope us into a pharmaceutical dependency as a deceitful trade-off for access to our lives. Variant by variant. For as long as the public is willing to go along for the ride. 

Exposing this story does not require incriminating emails or whistleblower testimony. The story tells itself by diving into the long-established science that every single virologist, immunologist, evolutionary biologist, vaccine developer, and public health official had access to long before COVID began. As is so often the case, the devil is hidden in the details. As this story unfolds it will become clear that the one-two punch of lockdowns and the promise of vaccines as an exit strategy began as a cynical marketing ploy to coerce us into a never-ending regimen of annual booster shots intentionally designed to replace the natural "antivirus security updates" against respiratory viruses that come from hugs and handshakes and from children laughing together at school. We are being played for fools. 

This is not to say that there aren't plenty of other opportunists taking advantage of this crisis to pursue other agendas and to tip society into a full-blown police state. One thing quickly morphs into another. But this essay demonstrates that never-ending boosters were the initial motive for this global social-engineering shell game ? the subscription-based business model, adapted for the pharmaceutical industry. "Immunity as a service". 

So, let's dive into the fascinating world of immune systems, viruses, and vaccines, layer by layer, to dispel the myths and false expectations that have been created by deceitful public health officials, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and media manipulators. What emerges as the lies are peeled apart is both surprising and more than a little alarming.

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” - Sherlock Homes” 

- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Table of Contents:

  •     Viral Reservoirs: The Fantasy of Eradication

  •     SARS: The Exception to the Rule?

  •     Fast Mutations: The Fantasy of Control through Herd Immunity

  •     Blind Faith in Central Planning: The Fantasy of Timely Doses

  •     Spiked: The Fantasy of Preventing Infection

  •     Antibodies, B-Cells, and T-Cells: Why Immunity to Respiratory Viruses Fades So Quickly

  •     Manufacturing Dangerous Variants: Virus Mutations Under Lockdown Conditions — Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu

  •     Leaky Vaccines, Antibody-Dependent Enhancement, and the Marek Effect

  •     Anti-Virus Security Updates: Cross-Reactive Immunity Through Repeated Exposure

  •     The Not-So-Novel Novel Virus: The Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Outbreak Proved We Have Cross-Reactive Immunity

  •     Mother Knows Best: Vitamin D, Playing in Puddles, and Sweaters

  •     The Paradox: Why COVID-Zero Makes People More Vulnerable to Other Viruses

  •     Introducing Immunity as a Service - A Subscription-Based Business Model for the Pharmaceutical Industry (It was always about the money!)

  •     The Path Forward: Neutralizing the Threat and Bullet-Proofing Society to Prevent This Ever Happening Again.

*  *  *

Viral Reservoirs: The Fantasy of Eradication

Eradication of a killer virus sounds like a noble goal. In some cases it is, such as in the case of the smallpox virus. By 1980 we stopped vaccinating against smallpox because, thanks to widespread immunization, we starved the virus of available hosts for so long that it died out. No-one will need to risk their life on the side effects of a smallpox vaccination ever again because the virus is gone. It is a public health success story. Polio will hopefully be next ? we're getting close. 

But smallpox is one of only two viruses (along with rinderpest) that have been eradicated thanks to vaccination. Very few diseases meet the necessary criteria. Eradication is hard and only appropriate for very specific families of viruses.

Smallpox made sense for eradication because it was a uniquely human virus ? there was no animal reservoir. By contrast, most respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 (a.k.a. COVID) come from animal reservoirs: swine, birds, bats, etc. As long as there are bats in caves, birds in ponds, pigs in mud baths, and deer living in forests, respiratory viruses are only controllable through individual immunity, but it is not possible to eradicate them. There will always be a near-identical cousin brewing in the wings.

Even the current strain of COVID is already cheerfully jumping onwards across species boundaries. According to both National Geographic and Nature magazine, 40% of wild deer tested positive for COVID antibodies in a study conducted in Michigan, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. It has also been documented in wild mink and has already made the species jump to other captive animals including dogs, cats, otters, leopards, tigers, and gorillas. A lot of viruses are not fussy. They happily adapt to new opportunities. Specialists, like smallpox, eventually go extinct. Generalists, like most respiratory viruses, never run out of hosts to keep the infection cycle going, forever.

As long as we share this planet with other animals, it is extremely deceitful to give anyone the impression that we can pursue any scorched earth policy that can put this genie back in the bottle. With an outbreak on this global scale, it was clear that we were always going to have to live with this virus. There are over 200 other endemic respiratory viruses that cause colds and flus, many of which circulate freely between humans and other animals. Now there are 201. They will be with us forever, whether we like it or not.

SARS: The Exception to the Rule?

This all sounds well and good, but the original SARS virus did disappear, with public health measures like contact tracing and strict quarantine measures taking the credit. However, SARS was the exception to the rule. When it made the species jump to humans, it was so poorly adapted to its new human hosts that it had terrible difficulty spreading. This very poor level of adaptation gave SARS a rather unique combination of properties:

  1. SARS was extremely difficult to catch (it was never very contagious)

  2. SARS made people extremely sick.

  3. SARS did not have pre-symptomatic spread.

These three conditions made the SARS outbreak easy to control through contact tracing and through the quarantine of symptomatic individuals. SARS therefore never reached the point where it circulated widely among asymptomatic community members. 

By contrast, by January/February of 2020 it was clear from experiences in China, Italy, and the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship (more on that story later) that the unique combination of conditions that made SARS controllable were not going to be the case with COVID. COVID was quite contagious (its rapid spread showed that COVID was already well adapted to spreading easily among its new human hosts), most people would have mild or no symptoms from COVID (making containment impossible), and that it was spreading by aerosols produced by both symptomatic and pre-symptomatic people (making contact tracing a joke).

In other words, it was clear by January/February 2020 that this pandemic would follow the normal rules of a readily transmissible respiratory epidemic, which cannot be reined in the way SARS was. Thus, by January/February of 2020, giving the public the impression that the SARS experience could be replicated for COVID was a deliberate lie - this genie was never going back inside the bottle.

Fast Mutations: The Fantasy of Control through Herd Immunity

Once a reasonably contagious respiratory virus begins circulating widely in a community, herd immunity can never be maintained for very long. RNA respiratory viruses (such as influenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinoviruses, and coronaviruses) all mutate extremely fast compared to viruses like smallpox, measles, or polio. Understanding the difference between something like measles and a virus like COVID is key to understanding the con that is being perpetrated by our health institutions. Bear with me here, I promise not to get too technical.

All viruses survive by creating copies of themselves. And there are always a lot of "imperfect copies" — mutations — produced by the copying process itself. Among RNA respiratory viruses these mutations stack up so quickly that there is rapid genetic drift, which continually produces new strains. Variants are normal. Variants are expected. Variants make it virtually impossible to build the impenetrable wall of long-lasting herd immunity required to starve these respiratory viruses out of existence. That's one of several reasons why flu vaccines don't provide long-lasting immunity and have to be repeated annually ? our immune system constantly needs to be updated to keep pace with the inevitable evolution of countless unnamed "variants." 

This never-ending conveyor belt of mutations means that everyone's immunity to COVID was always only going to be temporary and only offer partial cross-reactive protection against future re-infections. Thus, from day one, COVID vaccination was always doomed to the same fate as the flu vaccine ? a lifelong regimen of annual booster shots to try to keep pace with "variants" for those unwilling to expose themselves to the risk of a natural infection. And the hope that by the time the vaccines (and their booster shots) roll off the production line, they won't already be out of date when confronted by the current generation of virus mutations. 

Genetic drift caused by mutations is much slower in viruses like measles, polio, or smallpox, which is why herd immunity can be used to control these other viruses (or even eradicate them as in the case of smallpox or polio). The reason the common respiratory viruses have such rapid genetic drift compared to these other viruses has much less to do with how many errors are produced during the copying process and much more to do with how many of those "imperfect" copies are actually able to survive and produce more copies

A simple virus with an uncomplicated attack strategy for taking over host cells can tolerate a lot more mutations than a complex virus with a complicated attack strategy. Complexity and specialization put limits on how many of those imperfect copies have a chance at becoming successful mutations. Simple machinery doesn't break down as easily if there is an imperfection in the mechanical parts. Complicated high-tech machinery will simply not work if there are even minor flaws in precision parts.

For example, before a virus can hijack the DNA of a host cell to begin making copies of itself, the virus needs to unlock the cell wall to gain entry. Cellular walls are made of proteins and are coated by sugars; viruses need to find a way to create a doorway through that protein wall. A virus like influenza uses a very simple strategy to get inside ? it locks onto one of the sugars on the outside of the cell wall in order to piggyback a ride as the sugar is absorbed into the cell (cells use sugar as their energy source). It's such a simple strategy that it allows the influenza virus to go through lots of mutations without losing its ability to gain entry to the cell. Influenza's simplicity makes it very adaptable and allows many different types of mutations to thrive as long as they all use the same piggyback entry strategy to get inside host cells.

By contrast, something like the measles virus uses a highly specialized and very complicated strategy to gain entry to a host cell. It relies on very specialized surface proteins to break open a doorway into the host cell. It's a very rigid and complex system that doesn't leave a lot of room for errors in the copying process. Even minor mutations to the measles virus will cause changes to its surface proteins, leaving it unable to gain access to a host cell to make more copies of itself. Thus, even if there are lots of mutations, those mutations are almost all evolutionary dead ends, thus preventing genetic drift. That's one of several reasons why both a natural infection and vaccination against measles creates lifetime immunity ? immunity lasts because new variations don't change much over time. 

Most RNA respiratory viruses have a high rate of genetic drift because they all rely on relatively simple attack strategies to gain entry to host cells. This allows mutations to stack up quickly without becoming evolutionary dead ends because they avoid the evolutionary trap of complexity. 

Coronaviruses use a different strategy than influenza to gain access to host cells. They have proteins on the virus surface (the infamous S-spike protein, the same one that is mimicked by the vaccine injection), which latches onto a receptor on the cell surface (the ACE2 receptor) ? a kind of key to unlock the door. This attack strategy is a little bit more complicated than the system used by influenza, which is probably why genetic drift in coronaviruses is slightly slower than in influenza, but it is still a much much simpler and much less specialized system than the one used by measles. Coronaviruses, like other respiratory viruses, are therefore constantly producing a never-ending conveyor belt of "variants" that make long-lasting herd immunity impossible. Variants are normal. The alarm raised by our public health authorities about "variants" and the feigned compassion of pharmaceutical companies as they rush to develop fresh boosters capable of fighting variants is a charade, much like expressing surprise about the sun rising in the East.

Once you got immunity to smallpox, measles, or polio, you had full protection for a few decades and were protected against severe illness or death for the rest of your life. But for fast-mutating respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses, within a few months they are sufficiently different that your previously acquired immunity will only ever offer partial protection against your next exposure. The fast rate of mutation ensures that you never catch the exact same cold or flu twice, just their closely related constantly evolving cousins. What keeps you from feeling the full brunt of each new infection is cross-reactive immunity, which is another part of the story of how you are being conned, which I will come back to shortly. 

Blind Faith in Central Planning: The Fantasy of Timely Doses

But let's pretend for a moment that a miraculous vaccine could be developed that could give us all 100% sterilizing immunity today. The length of time it takes to manufacture and ship 8 billion doses (and then make vaccination appointments for 8 billion people) ensures that by the time the last person gets their last dose, the never-ending conveyor belt of mutations will have already rendered the vaccine partially ineffective. True sterilizing immunity simply won't ever happen with coronaviruses. The logistics of rolling out vaccines to 8 billion people meant that none of our vaccine makers or public health authorities ever could have genuinely believed that vaccines would create lasting herd immunity against COVID.

So, for a multitude of reasons, it was a deliberate lie to give the public the impression that if enough people take the vaccine, it would create lasting herd immunity. It was 100% certain, from day one, that by the time the last dose is administered, the rapid evolution of the virus would ensure that it would already be time to start thinking about booster shots. Exactly like the flu shot. Exactly the opposite of a measles vaccine. Vaccines against respiratory viruses can never provide anything more than a temporary cross-reactive immunity "update" ? they are merely a synthetic replacement for your annual natural exposure to the smorgasbord of cold and flu viruses. Immunity as a service, imposed on society by trickery. The only question was always, how long between booster shots? Weeks, months, years? 

Feeling conned yet?

Spiked: The Fantasy of Preventing Infection

The current crop of COVID vaccines was never designed to provide sterilizing immunity - that's not how they work. They are merely a tool designed to teach the immune system to attack the S-spike protein, thereby priming the immune system to reduce the severity of infection in preparation for your inevitable future encounter with the real virus. They were never capable of preventing infection, nor of preventing spread. They were merely designed to reduce your chance of being hospitalized or dying if you are infected. As former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who is on Pfizer’s board, said: "the original premise behind these vaccines were [sic] that they would substantially reduce the risk of death and severe disease and hospitalization. And that was the data that came out of the initial clinical trials.” Every first-year medical student knows that you cannot get herd immunity from a vaccine that does not stop infection. 

In other words, by their design, these vaccines can neither stop you from catching an infection nor stop you from transmitting the infection to someone else. They were never capable of creating herd immunity. They were designed to protect individuals against severe outcomes if they choose to take them - a tool to provide temporary focused protection for the vulnerable, just like the flu vaccine. Pushing for mass vaccination was a con from day one. And the idea of using vaccine passports to separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated was also a con from day one. The only impact these vaccine passports have on the pandemic is as a coercive tool to get you to roll up your sleeve. Nothing more.

Antibodies, B-Cells, and T-Cells: Why Immunity to Respiratory Viruses Fades So Quickly

There are multiple interconnected parts to why immunity to COVID, or any other respiratory virus, is always only temporary. Not only is the virus constantly mutating but immunity itself fades over time, not unlike the way our brains start forgetting how to do complicated math problems unless they keep practicing. This is true for both immunity acquired through natural infection and immunity acquired through vaccination.

Our immune systems have a kind of immunological memory ? basically, how long does your immune system remember how to launch an attack against a specific kind of threat. That memory fades over time. For some vaccines, like diphtheria and tetanus, that immunological memory fades very slowly. The measles vaccine protects for life. But for others, like the flu vaccine, that immunological memory fades very quickly.

On average, the flu vaccine is only about 40% effective to begin with. And it begins to fade almost immediately after vaccination. By about 150 days (5 months), it reaches zero.

Fading immunity after flu shot (Science, April 18th, 2019)

The solution to this strange phenomenon lies in the different types of immune system responses that are triggered by a vaccine (or by exposure to the real thing through a natural infection). This has big implications for coronavirus vaccines, but I'll get to that in a moment. First a little background information...

A good analogy is to think of our immune system like a medieval army. The first layer of protection began with generalists - guys armed with clubs that would take a swing at everything - they were good for keeping robbers and brigands at bay and for conducting small skirmishes. But if the attack was bigger, then these generalists were quickly overwhelmed, serving as arrow fodder to blunt the attack on the more specialized troops coming up behind them. Spearmen, swordsmen, archers, cavalry, catapult operators, siege tower engineers, and so on. Each additional layer of defense has a more expensive kit and takes ever greater amounts of time to train (an English longbowman took years to build up the necessary skill and strength to become effective). The more specialized a troop is, the more you want to hold them back from the fight unless it's absolutely necessary because they are expensive to train, expensive to deploy, and make a bigger mess when they fight that needs to be cleaned up afterwards. Always keep your powder dry. Send in the arrow fodder first and slowly ramp up your efforts from there.

Our immune system relies on a similar kind of layered system of defense. In addition to various non-specific rapid response layers that take out the brigands, like natural killer cells, macrophages, mast cells, and so on, we also have many adaptive (specialized) layers of antibodies (i.e. IgA, IgG, IgM immunoglobulin) and various types of highly specialized white blood cells, like B-cells and T-cells. Some antibodies are released by regular B-cells. Others are released by blood plasma. Then there are memory B-cells, which are capable of remembering previous threats and creating new antibodies long after the original antibodies fade away. And there are various types of T-cells (again with various degrees of immunological memory), like natural killer T-cells, killer T-cells, and helper T-cells, all of which play various roles in detecting and neutralizing invaders. In short, the greater the threat, the more troops are called into the fight.

This is clearly a gross oversimplification of all the different interconnected parts of our immune system, but the point is that a mild infection doesn't trigger as many layers whereas a severe infection enlists the help of deeper layers, which are slower to respond but are much more specialized in their attack capabilities. And if those deeper adaptive layers get involved, they are capable of retaining a memory of the threat in order to be able to mount a quicker attack if a repeat attack is recognized in the future. That's why someone who was infected by the dangerous Spanish Flu in 1918 might still have measurable T-cell immunity a century later but the mild bout of winter flu you had a couple of years ago might not have triggered T-cell immunity, even though both may have been caused by versions of the same H1N1 influenza virus.

As a rule of thumb, the broader the immune response, the longer immunological memory will last. Antibodies fade in a matter of months, whereas B-cell and T-cell immunity can last a lifetime.

Another rule of thumb is that a higher viral load puts more strain on your immune defenses, thus overwhelming the rapid response layers and forcing the immune system to enlist the deeper adaptive layers. That's why nursing homes and hospitals are more dangerous places for vulnerable people than backyard barbeques. That's why feedlot cattle are more vulnerable to viral diseases than cattle on pasture. Viral load matters a lot to how easily the generalist layers are overwhelmed and how much effort your immune system has to make to neutralize a threat.

Where the infection happens in the body also matters. For example, an infection in the upper respiratory tract triggers much less involvement from your adaptive immune system than when it reaches your lungs. Part of this is because your upper respiratory tract is already heavily preloaded with large numbers of generalist immunological cells that are designed to attack germs as they enter, which is why most colds and flus never make it deeper into the lungs. The guys with the clubs are capable of handling most of the threats that try to make through the gate. Most of the specialized troops hold back unless they are needed.

Catching a dangerous disease like measles produces lifetime immunity because an infection triggers all the deep layers that will retain a memory of how to fight off future encounters with the virus. So does the measles vaccine. Catching a cold or mild flu generally does not. 

From an evolutionary point of view, this actually makes a lot of sense. Why waste valuable resources developing long-lasting immunity (i.e. training archers and building catapults) to defend against a virus that did not put you in mortal danger. A far better evolutionary strategy is to evolve a narrower generalist immune response to mild infections (i.e. most cold and flu viruses), which fades quickly once the threat is conquered, but invest in deep long-term broad-based immunity to dangerous infections, which lasts a very long time in case that threat is ever spotted on the horizon again. Considering the huge number of threats our immune systems face, this strategy avoids the trap of spreading immunological memory too thin. Our immunological memory resources are not limitless - long-term survival requires prioritizing our immunological resources.

The take-home lesson is that vaccines will, at best, only last as long as immunity acquired through natural infection and will often fade much faster because the vaccine is often only able to trigger a partial immune response compared to the actual infection. So, if the disease itself doesn't produce a broad-based immune response leading to long-lasting immunity, neither will the vaccine. And in most cases, immunity acquired through vaccination will begin to fade much sooner than immunity acquired through a natural infection. Every vaccine maker and public health official knows this despite bizarrely claiming that the COVID vaccines (based on re-creating the S-protein spike instead of using a whole virus) would somehow become the exception to the rule. That was a lie, and they knew it from day one. That should set your alarm bells ringing at full throttle.

So, with this little bit of background knowledge under our belts, let's look at what our public health officials and vaccine makers would have known in advance about coronaviruses and coronavirus vaccines when they told us back in the early Spring of 2020 that COVID vaccines were the path back to normality.

From a 2003 study [my emphasis]:

"Until SARS appeared, human coronaviruses were known as the cause of 15–30% of colds... Colds are generally mild, self-limited infections, and significant increases in neutralizing antibody titer are found in nasal secretions and serum after infection. Nevertheless, some unlucky individuals can be reinfected with the same coronavirus soon after recovery and get symptoms again."

In other words, the coronaviruses involved in colds (there were four human coronaviruses before SARS, MERS, and COVID) all trigger such a weak immune response that they do not lead to any long-lasting immunity whatsoever. And why would they if, for most of us, the threat is so minimal that the generalists are perfectly capable of neutralizing the attack.

We also know that immunity against coronaviruses is not durable in other animals either. As any farmer knows well, cycles of reinfection with coronaviruses are the rule rather than the exception among their livestock (for example, coronaviruses are a common cause of pneumonia and various types of diarrheal diseases like scours, shipping fever, and winter dysentery in cattle). Annual farm vaccination schedules are therefore designed accordingly. The lack of long-term immunity to coronaviruses is well documented in veterinary research among cattle, poultry, deer, water buffalo, etc. Furthermore, although animal coronavirus vaccines have been on the market for many years, it is well known that "none are completely efficacious in animals". So, like the fading flu vaccine profile I showed you earlier, none of the animal coronavirus vaccines are capable of providing sterilizing immunity (none were capable of stopping 100% of infections, without which you can never achieve herd immunity) and the partial immunity they offered is well known to fade rather quickly.

What about immunity to COVID's close cousin, the deadly SARS coronavirus, which had an 11% case fatality rate during the 2003 outbreak? From a 2007 study: "SARS-specific antibodies were maintained for an average of 2 years... SARS patients might be susceptible to reinfection >3 years after initial exposure."  (Bear in mind that, as with all diseases, re-infection does not mean you are necessarily going to get full-blown SARS; fading immunity after a natural infection tends to offer at least some level of partial protection against severe outcomes for a considerable amount of time after you can already be reinfected and spread it to others - more on that later.)

And what about MERS, the deadliest coronavirus to date, which made the jump from camels in 2012 and had a fatality rate of around 35%? It triggered the broadest immune response (due to its severity) and also appears to trigger the longest lasting immunity as a result (> 6yrs)

Thus, to pretend that there was any chance that herd immunity to COVID would be anything but short-lived was dishonest at best. For most people, immunity was always going to fade quickly. Just like what happens after most other respiratory virus infections. By February 2020, the epidemiological data showed clearly that for most people COVID was a mild coronavirus (nowhere near as severe than SARS or MERS), so it was virtually a certainty that even the immunity from a natural infection would fade within months, not years. It was also a certainty that vaccination was therefore, at best, only ever going to provide partial protection and that this protection would be temporary, lasting on the order of months. This is a case of false and misleading advertising if there ever was one.

If I can allow my farming roots to shine through for a moment, I'd like to explain the implications of what was known about animal coronaviruses vaccines. Baby calves are often vaccinated against bovine coronaviral diarrhea shortly after birth if they are born in the spring mud and slush season, but not if they are born in midsummer on lush pastures where the risk of infection is lower. Likewise, bovine coronavirus vaccines are used to protect cattle before they face stressful conditions during shipping, in a feedlot, or in winter feed pens. Animal coronavirus vaccines are thus used as tools to provide a temporary boost in immunity, in very specific conditions, and only for very specific vulnerable categories of animals. After everything I've laid out so far in this text, the targeted use of bovine coronavirus vaccines should surprise no-one. Pretending that our human coronavirus vaccines would be different was nonsense. 

The only rational reason why the WHO and public health officials would withhold all that contextual information from the public as they rolled out lockdowns and held forth vaccines as an exit strategy was to whip the public into irrational fear in order to be able to make a dishonest case for mass vaccination when they should have, at most, been focused on providing focused vaccination of the most vulnerable only. That deception was the Trojan Horse to introduce endless mass booster shots as immunity inevitably fades and as new variants replace old ones. 

Now, as all the inevitable limitations and problems with these vaccines become apparent (i.e. fading of vaccine-induced immunity, vaccines proving to only be partially effective, the rise of new variants, and the vaccinated population demonstrably catching and spreading the virus ? a.k.a. the leaky vaccine phenomenon), the surprise that our health authorities are showing simply isn't credible. As I have shown you, all this was 100% to be expected. They intentionally weaponized fear and false expectations to unleash a fraudulent bait-and-switch racket of global proportions. Immunity on demand, forever.

Manufacturing Dangerous Variants: Virus Mutations Under Lockdown Conditions — Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu

At this point you may be wondering, if there is no lasting immunity from infection or vaccination, then are public health officials right to roll out booster shots to protect us from severe outcomes even if their dishonest methods to get us to accept them were unethical? Do we need a lifetime regimen of booster shots to keep us safe from a beast to which we cannot develop durable long-term immunity?

The short answer is no. 

Contrary to what you might think, the rapid evolution of RNA respiratory viruses actually has several important benefits for us as their involuntary hosts, which protects us without the benefit of broad lifelong immunity. One of those benefits has to do with the natural evolution of the virus towards less dangerous variants. The other is the cross-reactive immunity that comes from frequent re-exposure to closely related "cousins". I'm going to peel apart both of these topics in order to show you the remarkable system that nature designed to keep us safe... and to show you how the policies being forced on us by our public health authorities are knowingly interfering with this system. They are creating a dangerous situation that increases our risk to other respiratory viruses (not just to COVID) and may even push the COVID virus to evolve to become more dangerous to both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated. There are growing signs that this nightmare scenario has already begun. 

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." 

- President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Let's start with the evolutionary pressures that normally drive viruses towards becoming less dangerous over time. A virus depends on its host to spread it. A lively host is more useful than a bedridden or dead one because a lively host can spread the virus further and will still be around to catch future mutations. Viruses risk becoming evolutionary dead ends if they kill or immobilize their hosts. Plagues came, killed, and then were starved out of existence because their surviving hosts had all acquired herd immunity. Colds come and go every year because their hosts are lively, easily spread the viruses around, and never acquire long-lasting immunity so that last year's hosts can also serve as next year's hosts ? only those who have weak immune systems have much to worry about. In other words, under normal conditions, mutations that are more contagious but less deadly have a survival advantage over less contagious and more deadly variations.

From the virus' point of view, the evolutionary golden mean is reached when it can easily infect as many hosts as possible without reducing their mobility and without triggering long-term immunity in most of their hosts. That's the ticket to setting up a sustainable cycle of reinfection, forever. Viruses with slow genetic drift and highly specialized reproductive strategies, like polio or measles, can take centuries or longer to become less deadly and more contagious; some may never reach the relatively harmless status of a cold or mild flu virus (by harmless I mean harmless to the majority of the population despite being extremely dangerous to those with weak or compromised immune systems). But for viruses with fast genetic drift, like respiratory viruses, even a few months can make a dramatic difference. Rapid genetic drift is one of the reasons why the Spanish Flu stopped being a monster disease, but polio and measles haven't. And anyone with training in virology or immunology understands this! 

We often speak of evolutionary pressure as though it forces an organism to adapt. In reality, a simple organism like a virus is utterly blind to its environment — all it does is blindly produce genetic copies of itself. "Evolutionary pressure" is actually just a fancy way of saying that environmental conditions will determine which of those millions of copies survives long enough to produce even more copies of itself. 

A human adapts to its environment by altering its behaviour (that's one type of adaptation). But the behaviour of a single viral particle never changes. A virus "adapts" over time because some genetic copies with one set of mutations survive and spread faster than other copies with a different set of mutations. Adaptation in viruses has to be seen exclusively through the lens of changes from one generation of virus to the next based on which mutations have a competitive edge over others. And that competitive edge will vary depending on the kinds of environmental conditions a virus encounters.

So, fear mongering about the Delta variant being even more contagious leaves out the fact that this is exactly what you would expect as a respiratory virus adapts to its new host species. We would expect new variants to be more contagious but less deadly as the virus fades to become just like the other 200+ respiratory viruses that cause common colds and flus. 

That's also why the decision to lock down the healthy population is so sinister. Lockdowns, border closures, and social distancing rules reduced spread among the healthy population, thus creating a situation where mutations produced among the healthy would become sufficiently rare that they might be outnumbered by mutations circulating among the bedridden. Mutations circulating among the healthy are, by definition, going to be the least dangerous mutations since they did not make their hosts sick enough to confine them to bedrest. That's precisely the variants you want to spread in order to drown out competition from more dangerous mutations. 

A host stuck in bed with a fever and not out dining with friends is limited in his ability to infect others compared to a host infected with a variety that only gives its host a sniffle. Not all bedridden hosts have caught a more dangerous mutation, but all dangerous mutations will be found among the bedridden. Thus as time goes by, dangerous mutations can only compete with less dangerous mutations if the entire population is limited in its ability to mix and mingle.

As long as the majority of infections are among the healthy, the more dangerous variants circulating among some of the bedridden will be outnumbered and will become evolutionary dead ends. But when public health officials intentionally restricted spread among the young, strong, and healthy members of society by imposing lockdowns, they created a set of evolutionary conditions that risked shifting the competitive evolutionary advantage from the least dangerous variants to more dangerous variants. By locking us all up, they risked making the virus more dangerous over time. Evolution doesn't sit around to wait for you while you develop a vaccine.

Let me give you a historical example to demonstrate that this rapid evolution of a virus towards either more or less dangerous variants isn't mere theory. Small changes to the environment can lead to very rapid changes in the virus' evolution. The first wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu was not particularly deadly, with mortality rates similar to regular seasonal flu. However, the second wave was not only much deadlier but, rather unusually, was particularly deadly to young people rather than just the old and the weak. Why would the second wave be the deadly one? And what would cause the virus to evolve so quickly to become both more deadly and better adapted to preying on young people? At first glance it would seem to defy all evolutionary logic.

The answer demonstrates just how sensitive a virus is to small changes in evolutionary pressure. The Spanish Flu spread in the midst of the lockdown-mimicking conditions of World War One. During the first wave, the virus found a huge population of soldiers trapped in the cold damp conditions of the trenches and a near endless supply of captive bedridden hosts in overflowing field hospitals. By the Spring of 1918, up to three-quarters of the entire French military and half of British troops had been infected. These conditions created two unique evolutionary pressures. On the one hand, it allowed variants that were well adapted to young people to emerge. But on the other hand, unlike normal times, the cramped conditions of trench warfare and field hospitals allowed dangerous variants that immobilize their hosts to spread freely with little competition from less dangerous variants that spread through lively hosts. The trenches and field hospitals became the virus incubators driving the evolution of variants. 

Normally young people are predominantly exposed to less dangerous mutations because the healthiest do all the mingling while the bedridden stay home. But the lockdown conditions of war created conditions that erased the competitive advantage of less dangerous mutations that don't immobilize their hosts, leading to the rise of more dangerous mutations. 

Thanks to the end of the war, the lockdown-mimicking conditions also ended, thereby shifting the competitive advantage back to less dangerous mutations that could spread freely among the mobile healthy members of the population. The deadliness of the second wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu is inextricably linked to the First World War, and the end of the war is linked to the virus fading into the background of regular cold and flu season.

Soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, ill with Spanish flu at a hospital ward at Camp Funston

It is therefore highly likely that the 1918 Spanish Flu would never have been more than a really bad flu season had it not been for the amplifying effect of lockdown conditions created by a world at war.

It also raises the question, for which I don't have an answer, whether the lockdown strategy during COVID was intentionally used to reduce spread among the healthy in order to keep the virus from fading into harmless irrelevancy. I use the word "intentionally" ? and it's a strong word ? because the deadly second wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu and its causes are hardly secrets in the medical community. You'd have to be a completely reckless and utterly incompetent idiot, or a cynical bastard with an agenda, to impose any strategy that mimics those virus-amplifying conditions. Yet that's what our health authorities did. And what they continue to do, while shamelessly hyperventilating about the risk of "variants" to force us to submit to medical tyranny based on mandatory vaccines, never-ending booster shots, and vaccine passports that can turn off access to our normal lives. This is cynicism at its finest.

Leaky Vaccines, Antibody-Dependent Enhancement, and the Marek Effect

The experience of the 2nd wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu also raises another question: What kind of evolutionary pressures are being created by using a leaky vaccine?

A vaccine that provides sterilizing immunity prevents the vaccinated from being able to catch or transmit the virus. They become a dead end for the virus. However, as I've already mentioned, the current crop of COVID vaccines, which are meant to train the immune system to recognize the S-spike proteins, were not designed to create sterilizing immunity. By their design, they merely help reduce the risk of severe outcomes by priming the immune system. The vaccinated can still catch and spread the virus ? the definition of a leaky vaccine ? and epidemiological data makes it very clear that this is now happening all around the world. Thus, both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated are equally capable of producing new variants. The idea that the unvaccinated are producing variants while the vaccinated are not is a boldfaced lie.

Source: "Israel hopes boosters can avert new lockdown as COVID vaccine efficacy fades." August 23rd, 2021, Financial Times, 

From an evolutionary perspective, this is a potentially dangerous scenario. What has been done by temporarily blunting the risk of hospitalization or death, but without stopping infection among the vaccinated, is to create a set of evolutionary conditions where a variant that is dangerous to the unvaccinated can spread easily among the vaccinated without making the vaccinated very sick. For lack of a better term, let's call this a dual-track variant. Thus, because the vaccinated are not getting bedridden from this dual-track variant, they can continue to spread it easily, giving it a competitive advantage, even if it is highly dangerous to the unvaccinated.

Furthermore, since COVID vaccination only offers temporary short-term protection, as soon as immunity fades, the vaccinated themselves are also equally at risk of more severe outcomes. Thus, this creates the evolutionary pressure for the virus to behave as an increasingly contagious but relatively mild virus as long as everyone is vaccinated but as a dangerous but also very contagious virus as soon as temporary immunity wears off. The call for boosters every 6 months is already here. (Update: now it's being revised down to 5 months.)

So, the pandemic really does have the potential to become the Pandemic of the Unvaccinated (the shameless term coined by public health officials to terrify the vaccinated into bullying their unvaccinated peers), but reality comes with a twist because if a dual-track variant does evolve it would be the unvaccinated (and those whose boosters have expired) who would have reason to fear the vaccinated, not the other way around as so many frightened citizens seem to believe. And the end result would be that we all become permanently dependent on boosters every 6 months, forever.

Hold on, you might say, the flu vaccine chart shown earlier also never provided sterilizing immunity. The flu vaccine is notoriously leaky but hasn't gotten more dangerous, has it? The answer is complicated because the comparison is less useful than it first appears. As long as the majority of the population does not get the flu vaccine, more dangerous variants will face stiff competition from less dangerous ones circulating among the healthy unvaccinated population (average flu vaccination rates in most western countries are between 38-41%, with most other countries around the world doing very little vaccination against the flu). And since the vaccine is only 40% effective to begin with and since immunity fades rapidly after the shot, the flu vaccine doesn't provide much protection to begin with, thus reducing the chance that separate mutations would circulate among the vaccinated. And public health frequently gets the strain wrong (influenza has many strains that are constantly evolving so there is a lot of guesswork that goes into creating the right vaccine formula each year). In other words, lack of universal coverage and poor protection are likely preventing the emergence of a dual-track variant. 

Furthermore, flu vaccination is not evenly distributed across the population. It is mostly the vulnerable and those who work around them that get it while children, young adults and other healthy members of society don't get it. So, even if more deadly variants were to arise in nursing homes or hospital settings, the high number of healthy unvaccinated visitors to those facilities would constantly bring less deadly more contagious variants with them, thereby preventing more dangerous variants from gaining a competitive edge in nursing home or hospital settings. But if the leaky flu vaccinations were to be extended to everyone, or if nursing home populations continue to be kept isolated from the rest of society during COVID lockdowns, things might begin to look a little different.

However, what I am warning about is far from theoretical. There is a very clear example (well known to public health officials and vaccine developers) from the poultry farming industry where a universal leaky vaccine pushed a virus to evolve to become extremely deadly to unvaccinated chickens. It is called the Marek Effect. It began with a leaky vaccine that was rolled out to fight a herpes virus in industrialized high-density chicken barns. Vaccinated chickens were protected from severe outcomes but nevertheless continued to catch and spread the virus, so evolutionary pressure led to the emergence of a dual-track variant that become the dominant strain of this herpes virus. It continues to spread among the vaccinated chickens without killing them but kills up to 80% or more of unvaccinated birds if they get infected. Thus, a never-ending stream of vaccinations is now required just to maintain the status quo. I bet the pharmaceutical industry is smiling at all those drug-dependent chickens though — talk about having a captive audience!

It's not a certainty that this will happen with the COVID vaccines, but the longer this fiasco continues and the higher that vaccination rates rise around the world, the more likely it becomes that we re-create the conditions for some kind of Marek effect to develop. A leaky vaccine used sparingly to protect small pockets of vulnerable individuals is very different than a leaky vaccine applied to everyone. The rapid change in behaviour of the 1918 Spanish Flu should be a warning to us all that a virus can adapt very quickly in response to small changes in evolutionary pressure. The closer we get to universal vaccination, the greater the danger that leaky vaccines will lead to dual-track variants that become more dangerous to the unvaccinated.

There is one other danger from leaky vaccines that is worth mentioning because researchers are already starting to see the first signs of it, as you can see discussed in this paper published on August 9th, 2021, in the Journal of Infection. It's called antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). It happens when a poorly designed vaccine trains antibodies to recognize a virus as an intruder without being strong enough to kill/neutralize them. Instead of the virus being neutralized inside the antibody when the antibody attacks and "swallows" it (antibodies envelope intruders in order to neutralize them), the virus takes over the antibody cell that attacked it and uses it as a host to start making copies of itself. Thus, the attacking antibody opens the door to the inside of the cell and becomes the virus' unwitting host, thereby accelerating rather than stopping the infection.

Antibody-dependent enhancement is a well-documented phenomenon in attempts to develop vaccines against the RSV virus, dengue fever, and other coronaviruses. This is one of the reasons why previous attempts to develop a human coronavirus vaccine against the SARS virus failed. It kept happening in animal trials. And many doctors warned from day one that it would happen with these vaccines as well as new variants gradually emerge that are sufficiently different from the original variant upon which the vaccine is based. ADE doesn't show up on the day after vaccination. It emerges gradually as new variants spread that are different from previous variants.

Quote from the aforementioned study

ADE may be a concern for people receiving vaccines based on the original Wuhan strain spike sequence (either mRNA or viral vectors). Under these circumstances, second generation vaccines with spike protein formulations lacking structurally-conserved ADE-related epitopes should be considered.

In other words, your previous vaccination protects you only until new variants arise, then the training that your previous vaccination gave your immune system becomes a liability as your immune system switches from protecting you to increasing your risk from the disease. Your only way to protect yourself is to dutifully get your next "updated" booster shot to protect you for next few short months. You become a permanent drug dependent vaccine customer. And you better hope next year's formulation doesn't get it wrong. And you better hope that updates can keep you safe indefinitely because there's also the risk that updates will get less effective as the bad training from previous boosters begins to add up. 

It puts a whole new spin on "trust the scientists." Your life will literally be at their mercy. 

I bet the pharmaceutical industry will be smiling at all those drug-dependent chickens loyal customers though — talk about having a captive audience! And what a sweet deal - vaccine makers have been granted an exemption from liability and, if it goes wrong, they are the go-to guy to solve it... with more boosters.

And with every booster, you'll get to play Russian Roulette all over again with side effects: death, autoimmune diseases, reactivation of dormant viruses, neurological damage, blood clotting, and more. Here's where the reported side effects on the US VAERS system stand at the time of writing (August 28th, 2021).

OpenVaers Search, August 28th, 2021

Leaky vaccines are playing with fire. All vaccine makers and public health authorities were aware of the potential for ADE with the development of a coronavirus vaccine. Yet they pushed for mass vaccination, from day one, without completing the long-term trials that are meant to rule out this kind of risk. They knowingly gambled with your future in their eagerness to get you onto your regimen of never-ending boosters and vaccine passports. Why not, if more boosters are the solution if something going wrong. They can always blame it on the "variants". The media won't challenge them - not with billions of vaccine advertising dollars floating around.

Anti-Virus Security Updates: Cross-Reactive Immunity Through Repeated Exposure

And now we come to the second way in which our immune systems benefit from the rapid evolution of RNA respiratory viruses and to the sinister way in which public health policy is interfering with that system. 

The once deadly 1918 Spanish Flu is still with us today; now it is part of the smorgasbord of viruses that cause colds and flus every winter precisely because subsequent variants evolved to be less deadly. As unpleasant as flu season is, for most of us it is not lethal unless we have weak or compromised immune systems. But each subsequent exposure teaches our immune system how to keep up with its gradual evolution over time. 

In other words, each year's fresh exposure to the latest strain of cold or flu virus functions as a sort of antivirus security update to partially prepare you for the next one. Fading immunity and changing mutations means you'll never be 100% immune to the next one, but as long as updates are frequent enough, you'll also never have 0% immunity. There will always be enough carry-over to protect you from the most serious outcomes unless you are unfortunate enough to have a weak immune system. That is why it is called cross-reactive immunity. 

A broad smorgasbord of viruses cruising around during cold and flu season makes it less likely that we will die or get seriously ill when exposed to some new "variant" from London, India, or Brazil, or if we are exposed to a new "cousin", like COVID, which crawls out of some bat cave or wet market or escapes from some lab in Wuhan. 

Partial cross-reactive immunity requires periodic re-exposure. Modified from Nature, 4704, September 17th, 2020.

But when we think about it for a moment, what was once dangerous when it was new soon becomes our most important ally for the future to protect us from the next dangerous new thing. As long as we are re-exposed frequently, before immunity fades to zero, cross-reactive immunity is the only realistic evolutionary strategy that humans have to protect us from the next viral variant or viral cousin of these fast-mutating respiratory viruses. 

With sufficient leftover cross-reactive immunity from your last exposure, exposure to the latest variant of a virus may simply result in your immune system getting updated without you even noticing a single thing. That's what it means to get an "asymptomatic" infection. Before we started tormenting the healthy with never-ending PCR tests to make us aware of all these "asymptomatic infections", we were constantly getting lots of these "antivirus security updates" each time we encountered one of the more than 200 respiratory viruses circulating among us, often without even noticing the "infection". 

Many of these encounters are asymptomatic because our immune systems are able to neutralize them without even ruffling enough layers of our defenses to trigger any symptoms. Almost everyone gets a few immune system updates to the viruses that cause common colds, every single year, yet only a small percentage will ever get very sick. The rest may barely get a runny nose, or nothing symptoms at all. 

Mass PCR testing during COVID created a massive freak-out over every single asymptomatic COVID update when we should have only been focused on those people who come down with severe symptomatic disease. There was never any justifiable reason to roll out PCR tests to asymptomatic citizens other than to heighten fear in the population in order to make them receptive to mass vaccination. 

So, in a sense, those 201 respiratory viruses that cause our colds and flus are not just an inconvenience, they are nature's solution to software updates ? even though they are dangerous to those with weak immune systems, for the rest of us our immune systems depend on them to give us partial protection against new strains that emerge through mutation or when new strains jump across species boundaries. Getting rid of those already circulating in society would make us more vulnerable to new variants that emerge. Adding another 200 will make us even safer once we get our first contact behind us.

Eradicating a relatively benign respiratory virus is therefore not a desirable goal. But making it fade into the background is a desirable public health goal so that what was once dangerous can now keep protecting us against the next one through cross-reactive immunity. Focused protection for the vulnerable, not lockdowns, was always the only realistic public health response to this respiratory virus, unless someone wanted to seize the opportunity as a way to rope the public into mass vaccinations.

Nature evolved this fascinating strategy of self-updating immunological countermeasures by continually testing us with mild versions of previous closely related respiratory viruses. Our immune system is therefore somewhat similar to an Olympic weightlifter whose muscles not only stay strong but get even stronger by routinely putting his muscles under a little bit of stress. Our immune system functions the same way ? it must be continually stress-tested with mild challenges to these fast-mutating viruses in order to develop the robust arsenal of defenses to keep us safe. It is a concept called anti-fragility, which was described in detail by Nassim Taleb in his ground-breaking book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder #Commissions Earned. Once you understand this concept, your fear of "variants" will rapidly dissolve.

The eradication of these fast-mutating respiratory viruses is therefore not just unachievable, it would actually be dangerous if we succeeded because it would eliminate the security updates that we need to protect us against new variants that crawl out of bat caves or jump species boundaries. This year's runny nose is your protection against COVID-23. Your cross-reactive immunity to last years annoying flu might just save your life if something truly dangerous arrives, as long as it is at least somewhat related to what your immune system has seen before. COVID could easily have turned out to be as dangerous to us as the Spanish Flu if it hadn't been for the saving grace of cross-reactive immunity. As this study shows, up to 90-99% of us already had some level of protection to COVID thanks to partial cross-reactive immunity gained from exposure to other coronaviruses. The high percentage of infections that turn out to be asymptomatic bears that out.

Someone needs to remind Bill Gates, his fawning public health bootlickers, and the pharmaceutical companies that whisper sweet-nothings in his ear that in the natural world of respiratory viruses, most of us don't need a regimen of never-ending booster shots to keep us safe from COVID variants ? we already have a perfectly functioning system to keep bringing us new updates. Respiratory viruses are a completely different beast than smallpox, polio, or measles; and pretending otherwise is not just silly, it's criminal because anyone with a background in immunology knows better. But it's a fantastic and very profitably way to scare a wide-eyed population into accepting never-ending booster shots as a replacement for the natural antivirus updates that we normally get from hugs and handshakes. Protect the vulnerable. Stop preying on the rest of us.

The Not-So-Novel Novel Virus: The Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Outbreak Proved We Have Cross-Reactive Immunity

A truly novel virus affects everyone because no-one has pre-existing cross-reactive partial immunity to it. That's why the diseases that accompanied Christopher Columbus to the Americas killed up to 95% of North and South America's indigenous populations (see Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond #Commissions Earned). To them, these diseases were novel because they had no previous exposure to them and therefore lacked the antivirus security updates acquired through pre-existing infections. They would have benefited greatly from access to a vaccine prior to first contact.

Thankfully, COVID-19 was not that kind of virus. Yet the media and public health officials shamelessly provoked fear that it was by using the scientifically accurate term novel to describe it, knowing full well that all scientists would understand this to mean a newly emergent strain while the general public would jump to the conclusion that this was an entirely new virus (also called a novel virus by scientists), like when tuberculosis or influenza accompanied Columbus to the Americas. This was a grotesque example of public health officials misusing scientific terminology, knowing full well that the public would misunderstand the term novel according to how we use the word in everyday language and not according to how the scientific community uses it. 

That little game successfully sparked a wave of fear that is so strong that not only is everyone desperate for a leaky jab to lead them to safety, they are so scared that they won't rest until all their friends, neighbors, and family members get one too, even if it requires extreme levels of coercion to get the job done. Canada has even recently gone as far as making vaccination mandatory for all federal employees, employees of Crown Corporations, employees of federally-regulated companies (i.e. utilities) and for all travellers on commercial airlines and trains (CBC, August 13th, 2021) !

Despite the scary numbers put out by the Chinese government in the early days of the pandemic, the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship served as an inadvertent petri-dish to study the COVID virus. Thanks to that example, by the end of February 2020, we knew that COVID was not some monster virus like the 1918 Spanish Flu but was simply another coronavirus strain that was closely related to previous coronaviruses and that most of us already carried some level of cross-reactive immunity to protect us.

How do we know that? The virus circulated freely onboard the ship, yet age corrected lethality remained between 0.025% and 0.625% (that's on the order of a bad flu season and nothing at all like the fatality rate of the 1918 Spanish Flu, which was between 2% and 10%). Only 26% of the passengers tested positive for the virus and of those that tested positive 48% remained completely symptom free despite the advanced age of most of these passengers! 

Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, Alpsdake, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Diamond Princess didn't turn into the floating morgue of bygone eras when ships carrying a disease were forced into quarantine. That should have been the first clue that this virus was anything but novel in the colloquial understanding of the term. Like most cold and flu viruses, only those with weak immune systems were in danger while everyone else got off with little or no symptoms. That is simply not how a truly novel virus behaves when it encounters a population without any pre-existing cross-reactive immunity. The only plausible explanation for that lack of deadliness (deadly for some, annoying for some, and asymptomatic for most others) is that most people already have sufficient pre-existing cross-reactive immunity from exposure to other coronaviruses. 

Research subsequently confirmed what the Diamond Princess outbreak revealed. Cross-reactive immunity. As I mentioned before, studies like this one demonstrated that up to 90 - 99% of us already have some residual level of partial protection to COVID. And we also subsequently found out that most people who were exposed to the deadly SARS virus in 2003 have little to fear from COVID, again because of cross-reactive immunity. COVID was never a mortal threat to most of us.

The important thing to remember is that the Diamond Princess data was already publicly available since the end of February of 2020. Operation Warp Speed, the vaccine development initiative approved by President Trump, was nevertheless announced on April 29th, 2020. Thus, our health authorities knowingly and opportunistically recommended lockdowns and promoted vaccines as an exit strategy after it was already clear that the majority of us had some kind of protection through cross-reactive immunity. The Diamond Princess example provided the unequivocal proof that the only people who might benefit from a vaccine, even if it worked as advertised, were the small number of extremely vulnerable members of society with weak immune systems. Likewise, lockdowns should have been recommended only for nursing home residents (on a strictly voluntary basis to protect their human rights) while the pandemic surged through the rest of us.

The only plausible explanation for why our international health authorities ignored the example of the Diamond Princess is if they wanted to stoke fear among the public and if they wanted to bamboozle credible politicians in order to opportunistically achieve some other public health agenda. They pushed vaccination on everyone knowing full well that most people don't need it and that protection would fade quickly even if the vaccines had been 100% effective, which they also knew was not going to be the case either. And yet they continue to push these vaccines using the same deceitful tactics even today. Water does not run uphill.

“We know they are lying, 

they know they are lying, 

they know we know they are lying, 

we know they know we know they are lying, 

but they are still lying.” 

- Attributed to Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

Mother Knows Best: Vitamin D, Playing in Puddles, and Sweaters

Just like during other cold and flu seasons, the vulnerable to COVID are overwhelmingly those with compromised immune systems: those whose immune systems are shutting down as they approach death from old age and those whose immune systems are compromised due to severe pre-existing conditions that reduce immune function. 

For everyone else with a strong immune system and cross-reactive immunity, we have little to fear from the virus and its never-ending stream of mutations unless our immune systems are temporarily suppressed through illness, environmental conditions, or nutritional deficiencies

Your mother's warnings about putting on a sweater, hat, and dry socks, tucking in your shirt to cover your kidneys, and not playing in puddles were not about preventing infection by a cold or flu, it was about preventing symptomatic infection. Research has demonstrated that getting chilled can temporarily suppress your immune system. Thus, getting chilled increases the chance that an infection leads to symptomatic disease rather than merely updating your immune system through an asymptomatic infection. Your sweater won't prevent you from catching an infection. But it might prevent that infection from becoming a symptomatic disease. It could be the difference between experiencing nothing and ending up in bed with a fever.

In the same way, topping up on vitamin C and D, eating properly, getting enough rest, getting hugs from loved ones, adopting a positive attitude in life, and smiling when you see a rainbow are all strategies that help keep your immune system strong. They don't prevent infection, but they might reduce your risk of a bad outcome.

Ask the staff in a nursing home what happens to their patients when any of these important ingredients is missing ? vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, poor sleep, loneliness, and depression lay out the welcome mat for the Grim Reaper. A temporarily suppressed immune system cannot mount an adequate immune response even when we do have cross-reactive immunity.

Our public health authorities also all know this. This is not a mystery. Yet, instead of promoting these strategies as ways in which people could reduce their risk to severe outcomes, they have systematically downplayed, ignored, or labeled these strategies as "fake news". Maximize the risk of death. Then promote the vaccine as the exclusive path to safety. Criminal.

You cannot control other people forever to avoid getting exposed to a respiratory virus. COVID Zero is an authoritarian fantasy. But you can control your food, your sleep, and your attitude so that your immune system can mount the strongest attack it can muster. The odds are that you already have all the cross-reactive immunity you need to survive this virus without a hitch. Look inwards to find freedom from fear. Take good care of yourself. Go play in the sun with your friends. And listen to your mother —tuck in your shirt! 

The Paradox: Why COVID-Zero Makes People More Vulnerable to Other Viruses

As is so often the case when politicians try to run our lives for us, the government response to COVID is not just wrong, it is actually making us more vulnerable, both to COVID and to other respiratory viruses. Depriving nursing home patients of their loved ones, locking them in isolation, locking people in their homes, shutting down gyms, driving us into depression, and paralysing us with fear and uncertainty ensures that our immune systems will be working at suboptimal levels. Broken marriages, children deprived of social contacts, insomnia, the remarkable surge in obesity that occurred during COVID, and so many other consequences of these ill begotten strategies all have a toll on our ability to mount a strong immune response when we are inevitably exposed to any respiratory viruses.

Equally devastating is that, by disrupting our normal social contacts, we have reduced how much training our immune system is getting through repeated exposure to other respiratory viruses. A computer that stops getting security updates becomes increasingly vulnerable to future versions of viruses. The same goes for our immune system. COVID is not the only risk. Remember, there are more than 200 other respiratory viruses that are also circulating. They may not be getting much attention and may be temporarily starved for hosts while we are cooped up at home, but they haven't gone away. They are waiting. And when they find us, they find hosts whose antivirus security updates are out of date. 

In other words, by breaking our ability to socialize with our peers, what was once relatively harmless is becoming more dangerous to us because our immune systems are out of practice. This isn't some theoretical risk. We're already beginning to see the fallout from that lack of updates, with deadly consequences. 

For example, New Zealand was praised internationally for adopting a COVID-Zero policy and for the low COVID cases that resulted. But the lockdowns, social distancing measures, and border closures also had another effect  ? there was a 99.9% reduction in flu cases and a 98% reduction in cases of the RSV virus. Sounds good, right? Not so fast...

Systems that depend on constant challenges to become antifragile will become fragile if those challenges stop happening. A tree that grows up sheltered from the wind will break when it is exposed to the storm.

Now New Zealand's myopic focus on COVID as the one and only risk is coming home to roost. Its hospitals are overflowing with children. But they're not being hospitalized by COVID. They are falling ill with RSV virus because of the "immunity debt" that built up from not being continually exposed to all the respiratory viruses that make up normal life. These children are, quite literally, the next wave of victims of COVID-Zero. Being cut off from normal life has left them fragile. Instead of praise, it now is becoming apparent that New Zealand's authoritarian strongwoman, Jacinda Ardern, and her public health advisors ought to be standing trial for gross negligence for ignoring the long-established research about how our immune systems depend on continual exposure to respiratory viruses in order to stay healthy.

Source: The Guardian, July 8th, 2021.

As long as our social contacts are restricted, we are all becoming increasing vulnerable to all these other respiratory viruses because of the "immunity debt" that has built up during lockdowns and social distancing rules. It turns out that handshakes and hugs are not just good for the soul. Our public health officials have blood on their hands for denying us our normal lives. 

This heightened risk to other viruses isn't an unexpected outcome; there were plenty of doctors who warned about precisely this risk as lockdowns were being imposed. For example, Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr Artin Massihi warned about this phenomenon back in May of 2020. YouTube censored their video. Yet they were citing long-established science that was uncontested until society collectively lost its mind in 2020.

Introducing Immunity as a Service – A Subscription-Based Business Model for the Pharmaceutical Industry (It was always about the money!)

As you can see from everything I have laid out in this essay, this misbegotten vaccine-enabled fever dream was never a realistic solution to stop COVID. At best, if the vaccines worked as advertised, all they could ever have been was one tool among many to provide the vulnerable with focused protection while the rest of us went about our normal lives, largely unaffected by our periodic antivirus security updates through exposure to the natural virus.

COVID-Zero in all its variations was a fantasy. 

But it was not an accidental fantasy. 

Water does not run uphill.

Every single public health official in the world has the education to know that what they have been promoting, from day one, is gibberish. What I have laid out in this essay is pretty basic virology and immunology knowledge. Which raises a rather alarming question: how can any virologist, immunologist, vaccine maker, or public health official knowingly promote this lie? 

Why is there such a blind obsession with getting us all to take a vaccine that most people do not need and that can never provide long-lasting herd immunity?

It's no mystery why pea-brained politicians might fall for this fantasy; they are only as good as the advisors they listen to. And politicians are shameless opportunists, so it is not surprising that they are now exploiting the situation to increase their powers and to harness this emerging command-and-control economy in pursuit of their own ideological goals — redistribution, carbon net zero, social credit score systems, you name it. In this Orwellian world, if you have a podium and a utopian dream, the world is your oyster, at least as long as the band keeps playing and the pitchforks can be kept off the streets. 

"You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." 

- Rahm Emanuel

"I really believe COVID has created a window of political opportunity..." 

- Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada

But our public health officials and international health organizations are trained to know better. Yet they nevertheless set this nightmare in motion in violation of all their own long-established pandemic planning guidelines. They know eradication is impossible. They know most of us already have cross-reactive immunity. They know most of us are healthy enough so that our immune systems will protect us against severe outcomes from this virus. They know about the negative consequences imposed on our immune systems when we are prevented from living normal lives. They know they are increasing our risk to other viruses by preventing us from socializing. It's their job to know. And, as I have demonstrated, they have known since day one. 

But what if a shameless pharmaceutical industry could manipulate public health policies by capturing politicians, policymakers, and public health agencies through generous donations? What if the boundaries between public health agencies, international public health organizations, and pharmaceutical companies have become blurred to such a degree that each benefits from reinforcing one another's best interests? What if they have all come to believe that vaccines against respiratory viruses are the holy grail of public health (and of generous funding), even if they have to play fast and loose with the truth to get humanity to accept them and even if they have to do a little evil to achieve some imagined future "greater good"?

What if the revolving door between pharmaceutical companies, public health, and international health organizations has created a kind of blind groupthink within this holy trinity? What if anyone caught up in that system is forced to bite their tongue because to speak out is a deathblow to their career? What if many of those caught up in the system genuinely believe the lies, despite a lifetime of training that should tell them otherwise? The powerful effect of groupthink, demonstrated by the Ash Conformity Experiments, can make people blind to what is staring them in the face. Even the medieval kings knew they needed a court jester to prevent the king from growing a big head. But what if, in the hallowed halls of this holy trinity, all the court jesters have long since been purged or cowed into silence?

"It's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong." 

- Voltaire

A quote that best sums up the thinking inside many of our public health institutions comes from Peter Daszak, head of EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit non-governmental organization that works closely with public health agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and intergovernmental organizations like the WHO (published in a 2016 report by the National Academy of Sciences):

"Daszak reiterated that, until an infectious disease crisis is very real, present, and at an emergency threshold, it is often largely ignored. To sustain the funding base beyond the crisis, he said, we need to increase public understanding of the need for MCMs [medical counter measures] such as a pan-influenza or pan-coronavirus vaccineA key driver is the media, and the economics follow the hype. We need to use that hype to our advantage to get to the real issues. Investors will respond if they see profit at the end of process, Daszak stated." [Emphasis mine]

In the presence of so much conflict of interest, in the absence of the checks and balances provided by individual rights, in the censorious atmosphere of cancel culture that has infected all our public institutions, and with so many institutional donors (private and governmental alike) being enamored with social-engineering projects and blinded by their own arrogance, it would perhaps be more surprising if this vaccine-fueled hysteria hadn't happened. 

In view of the circumstances, what happened almost seems inevitable. To the eyes of profit-hungry pharmaceuticals and funding-hungry national and international public health institutions, this virus must look like manna from heaven. They must feel like a fox that has been invited into the henhouse by ripe chickens that are begging to be plucked.

History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme. What has emerged during COVID is simply a bigger, better, bolder replay of what happened during the 2009 swine flu hysteria. I'd like to share a few quotes with you - and keep in mind that these are about the 2009 Swine Flu scandal, not COVID:

From a 2010 article entitled: European Parliament to Investigate WHO and "Pandemic" Scandal [Emphasis mine]:

  • "In his official statement to the Committee, Wodarg criticized the influence of the pharma industry on scientists and officials of [the] WHO, stating that it has led to the situation where "unnecessarily millions of healthy people are exposed to the risk of poorly tested vaccines," and that, for a flu strain that is "vastly less harmful" than all previous flu epidemics."

  • "For the first time, the WHO criteria for a pandemic was changed in April 2009 as the first Mexico cases were reported, to make not the actual risk of a disease but the number of cases of the disease [the] basis to declare "Pandemic." By classifying the swine flu as [a] pandemic, nations were compelled to implement pandemic plans and also t[o] purchase swine flu vaccines."

And here are a series of even more revealing quotes from a 2010 report published by Der Spiegel called: Reconstruction of a Mass Hysteria — The Swine Flu Panic of 2009:

  • "Researchers in more than 130 laboratories in 102 countries are constantly on the lookout for new flu pathogens. Entire careers and institutions, and a lot of money, depend on the outcomes of their work. "Sometimes you get the feeling that there is a whole industry almost waiting for a pandemic to occur," says flu expert Tom Jefferson, from an international health nonprofit called the Cochrane Collaboration. "And all it took was one of these influenza viruses to mutate to start the machine grinding."

  • "Does this mean that a very mild course of the pandemic was not even considered from the start? At any rate, efforts to downplay the risks were unwelcome, and the WHO made it clear that it preferred to base its decisions on a worst-case scenario. "We wanted to overestimate rather than underestimate the situation," says Fukuda [Keiji Fukuda was the Assistant Director-General for Health, Security and Environment for the WHO at that time]."

  • "The media also did its part in stoking fears. SPIEGEL, for example, had reported at length on the avian flu. Now it devoted a cover story to the new "global virus," a story filled with concerns that the swine flu pathogen could mutate into a horrific virus."

  • "The pharmaceutical industry was particularly adept at keeping this vision alive."

  • "We expected a real pandemic, and we thought that it had to happen. There was no one who suggested re-thinking our approach."

  • "the vast majority of experts on epidemics automatically associate the term "pandemic" with truly aggressive viruses. On the WHO Web site, the answer to the question "What is a pandemic?" included mention of "an enormous number of deaths and cases of the disease" -- until May 4, 2009. That was when a CNN reporter pointed out the discrepancy between this description and the generally mild course of the swine flu. The language was promptly removed."

  • "'Sometimes some of us think that WHO stands for World Hysteria Organization,' says Richard Schabas, the former chief medical officer for Canada's Ontario Province."

  • "A party with strong connections in Geneva had a strong interest in phase 6 being declared as quickly as possible: the pharmaceutical industry."

  • "Meanwhile, a debate had erupted over whether Germany had chosen the wrong vaccine, Pandemrix [it was later found to have caused narcolepsy in some patients, which is an autoimmune disease]. It contained a new type of agent designed to boost its effectiveness, known as an adjuvant, which had never undergone large-scale human trials in connection with the swine flu antigen. Were millions of people about to receive a vaccine that had hardly been tested?"

  • "But the contracts for Pandemrix had been signed in 2007, and they came into effect automatically when the WHO decided to declare phase 6."

  • "The ministers felt pressured from all sides. On the one hand, the media were stoking fears of the virus. The German tabloid newspaper Bild, in particular, was printing new tales of horror almost daily. On the other hand, the pharmaceutical companies were upping the pressure and constantly setting new ultimatums."

  • "Oct. 9, 2009: Wolf-Dieter Ludwig, an oncologist and chairman of the Drug Commission of the German Medical Association , says: 'The health authorities have fallen for a campaign by the pharmaceutical companies, which were plainly using a supposed threat to make money.'"

  • "Oct. 21, 2009: A BILD newspaper headline, printed in toxic yellow, warns: "Swine Flu Professor Fears 35,000 Dead in Germany !" The professor's name is Adolf Windorfer, and when pressed, he admits that he has received payments from the industry, including GSK and Novartis. Next to the BILD headline is an ad for the German Association of Pharmaceutical Companies."

  • "According to Wodarg, the WHO's classification of the swine flu as a pandemic have earned the pharmaceutical companies $18 billion in additional revenues. Annual sales of Tamiflu alone have jumped 435 percent, to €2.2 billion."

Rinse and repeat in 2020-2021.

What if, upon recognizing the emergence of a new pandemic, those in the know opportunistically made vaccines the endgame? What if all the vaccine injuries recorded on VAERS and all the risks they are taking with our lives are simply collateral damage - a calculated investment risk - in order to turn their dream of subscription-based "immunity as a service" into reality. 

In the words of Bill Gates,we kind of caught mRNA half way to prime time. Maybe we should believe him — and gape in awe at the recklessness and contempt they have shown for their fellow citizens in order to capitalize on this "window of opportunity". Carpe diem (seize the day). Don't sweat the small stuff. Keep your eye on the ball... and on the year-end bonuses.

What if COVID-Zero, in all its variations, was merely a strategy to herd us together so we obediently line up for an endless string of booster shots as a trade-off for access to our lives? 

In other words, what if someone could bamboozle our leaders into believing that the only way back to a normal life is for vaccines to replace the role that hugs and handshakes used to play in order to update us with the latest antivirus security updates? 

What if, by depriving us of normal life, those who stand to gain from vaccines can forever cement themselves at the center of society by providing an artificial replacement for what our immune systems used to do to protect us against common respiratory viruses back when we were still allowed to live normal lives? 

The headlines tell the story:

"Pfizer CEO says third Covid vaccine dose likely needed within 12 months." (CNBC, April 15th, 2021)

"Variants could be named after star constellations when Greek alphabet runs out, says WHO Covid chief." (The Telegraph, August 7th, 2021)

"Fauci warns Americans may face having booster shots indefinitely" (Daily Mail, August 13th, 2021, and Dr. Fauci in his own words on YouTube on August 12th, 2021)

"Biden OKs booster shots 5 months after 2nd dose" (Boston Globe, August 27th, 2021)

What if the fast mutation of RNA viruses ensures that no vaccine will ever be fully effective at providing lasting immunity, thus creating the illusion that we are permanently in need of vaccine boosters? 

What if politicians could be convinced to make vaccination mandatory in order to prevent potential customers from opting out? 

What if, by relying on lockdowns during the winter season, our vulnerability to other viruses increased, which could then be used to rationalize expanding the jab, via mission creep, to simultaneously vaccinate us against RSV, influenza, other coronaviruses, the common cold, and so on, despite knowing full well that the protection that these vaccines offer against respiratory viruses is only temporary?

And what other social engineering goals can be rolled into your annual booster shot in the future once you are permanently bound to these annual jabs and vaccine passports? In an atmosphere of hysteria, it's a system ripe for abuse by opportunists, ideologues, power hungry totalitarians, and Malthusian social engineers. The snowball doesn't have to grow by design. Mission creep happens all on its own once Pandora's Box is opened to coerced vaccinations and conditional rights. The road to Hell is frequently paved by good intentions... and hysteria. 

So, what if COVID-Zero and the vaccine exit strategy is merely the global state-sanctioned equivalent of a drug dealer creating dependency among its customers to keep pushing more drugs? 

What if it was all just a way of convincing society of the need for subscription-based "immunity as a service"? The subscription-based business model (or some version of it) is all the rage these days in the corporate world to create loyal captive audiences that generate reliable money streams, forever. Subscriptions are not just for your cable TV and gym membership anymore. Everything has been redesignated as a "consumable". 

  • Netflix did it with movies.

  • Spotify did it with music.

  • Microsoft did it with its Office suite.

  • Adobe did it with Photoshop editing suite.

  • The smartphone industry did it with phones that need to be replaced every 3 to 5 years.

  • The gaming industry did it with video games.

  • Amazon is doing it with books (i.e. Kindle Unlimited).

  • The food industry is doing it with meal delivery services (i.e. Hello Fresh).

  • Uber is doing it with subscription-based ride sharing.

  • Coursera is doing it with online education.

  • Duolingo and Rosetta Stone are doing it with language learning.

  • Zoom is doing it with online meetings.

  • Monsanto and its peers did it to farmers with patented seed technology, which cannot legally be replanted, and is lobbying to try to legalize the use of terminator seed technology (GMO seeds that are sterile in the second generation to prevent replanting).

  • The healthcare industry is doing it with concierge medical services, fitness tracking apps (Fitbit), sleep-tracking apps, and meditation apps.

  • The investment industry is doing it with farmland, with investors owning the land and leasing it back to farmers in a kind of modern revival of the sharecropping system. (Bill Gates is the largest farmland owner in the USA - are you surprised?)

  • Blackrock and other investment firms are currently trying to do it with homes to create a permanent class of renters.

  • And public health authorities and vaccine makers have been trying to do it with flu vaccines for years, but we've been stubbornly uncooperative. Not anymore.

Remember when the World Economic Forum predicted in 2016 that by 2030 all products would become services? And remember their infamous video in which they predicted that "You will own nothing. And you will be happy."? Well, the future is here. This is what it looks like. The subscription-based economy. And apparently it now also includes your immune system in a trade-off for access to your life.

Original video on Facebook, World Economic Forum, December 9th, 2016.

Let's revisit the Peter Daszak quote from earlier. A second read allows the message to really hit home:

"Daszak reiterated that, until an infectious disease crisis is very real, present, and at an emergency threshold, it is often largely ignored. To sustain the funding base beyond the crisis, he said, we need to increase public understanding of the need for MCMs [medical counter measures] such as a pan-influenza or pan-coronavirus vaccineA key driver is the media, and the economics follow the hype. We need to use that hype to our advantage to get to the real issues. Investors will respond if they see profit at the end of process, Daszak stated."

Isn't it ironic that he didn't even care which vaccine was pushed? Influenza or coronavirus, it made no difference. It was always about funding. It was always about the money. It always was. It always is.

The holy trinity of pharmaceutical companies, public health, and international health organizations, all egging each other on in their hunger for a reliable flow of cash: shareholder profits, larger budgets, and governmental donations. Their interests are perfectly aligned and the lines between them are blurred to such a degree that each benefits from reinforcing one another's best interests.

And why would politicians and media bow to the holy trinity?

Big Pharma spent an average of US$4.7 billion per year between 1999 and 2018 on lobbying and campaign contributions, just in the USA!  

Big Pharma also shells out $US20 billion each year to schmooze doctors and another US$6 billion on drug ads, just in the USA! So, it's no surprise why legacy media and Big Tech are tripping over themselves not to ruffle the party line — they live and die by the almighty advertising dollar. Never bite the hand that feeds you.

So, they are all dancing to the same tune while your pocket gets picked and your arm gets pricked, and everyone wins... except you and me. We are the cow that gets milked. We are the serfs that fund their largesse in this neo-feudal society where a few big boys own the assets and everyone else is beholden to those above them in the hierarchy for access to, well, everything — land, resources, rights, individual autonomy, and even immune systems. My body, their choice.

What if, in an atmosphere of runaway hysteria, a police state founded on medical tyranny is creating itself, fueled by a toxic brew of self-serving opportunists who have seized the moment to superimpose their own goals on a fortuitous virus, until one day you wake up to find yourself chained and milked, like a cow in a dairy barn, under the absolute custody of a modern-day Louis the Fourteenth and his royal court full of drug pushers, ideologues, and militant devotees? The modern face of feudalism, updated for the 21st century. Neo-feudalism, enforced by a mandatory subscription-based "immunity as a service".

And what if a society that has lost its principles, a society that is eager to hand over individual responsibility to "experts," a society that is held hostage to cancel culture mobs, a society that no longer has transparency into the decisions made by its experts, a society led by a censorious political class full of immoral opportunists, a society that has fallen so in love with big government that red tape and cronyism have completely erased the self-limiting checks and balances of a free and open society, and a society that has elevated safety to a new sort of religious cult is a society that has no immunity to protect itself from predators who treat us like cattle?

No period in history has ever lacked in snake-oil salesmen, ideologues, and social engineers eager to take society for a ride. Most of the time, they are ignored. So, what if the only real mystery is why society has grown so willing to accept the collar and yoke? 

What if all this really is just as simple as that? 

The Path Forward: Neutralizing the Threat and Bullet-Proofing Society to Prevent This Ever Happening Again.

Now we know we've been played, how we've been played, and why we've been played. Again. Just like during the 2009 Swine Flu con. Only bigger, bolder, and better. They learned from their mistakes. We didn't.

But now that you see the con, you can't unsee it. And now that you understand the threat and how the game is being played, there is a weight that comes off your shoulders. 

When you know there's a threat, but you don't know exactly what it is, every movement in the grass might be a tiger or a snake or a scorpion. It's paralysing and exhausting to defend yourself against an invisible unknown and they have used that fear masterfully against us to keep us frozen. But once you spot the tiger in the grass, you know where to direct your focus, your feet become unglued, your voice becomes bold, and you regain the clarity of thought to defend yourself.

The con is clear. It's time to focus all our might on stopping this runaway train before it takes us over the cliff into a police state of no return. Stand up. Speak out. Refuse to play along. Stopping this requires millions of voices with the courage to say NO — at work, at home, at school, at church, and out on the street. 

"Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis & foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored." — Martin Luther King Jr.

Compliance is the glue that holds tyranny together. Non-compliance breaks it apart. One person alone cannot stop this. But if millions find the courage to raise their voices and the courage to refuse to participate in the system on these tyrannical medical terms, it will throw the system into such a crisis and create such a tension that the community will be forced to confront the issue. Without enough truckers, no-one eats. Without enough medical staff, hospitals close. Without enough workers, supply chains break. Without enough policemen, laws cannot be enforced. Without enough garbage collectors, cities grind to a halt. Without enough cashiers, box stores cannot stay open. Without enough administrators, institutions cease to function. Without enough staff, corporations lose profits. Without enough servers, restaurants cannot serve their customers. And without enough customers, businesses are brought to their knees. 

Tyranny is not sustainable if the system grinds to a halt. Make it grind by being a thorn in everyone's side until they give us back our freedoms and end this ridiculous charade. They are trying to impose vaccine passports and mandatory vaccinations. But we hold the cards... but only if we are bold enough to stand up even at the risk of finding ourselves standing alone. Courage begets courage. It was Martin Luther King's secret power. It must be ours.

Now that you see the con, you also know the simple recipe to make this virus go away before their reckless policies turn it a monster virus for real. Remember 1918. End the war on the virus. Let the young folks come out of the trenches. Let people go back to their lives. Provide focused protection for the vulnerable. That is how this virus fades into the history books. 

It's time to be bold. It's time to call out the fraudsters. And it's time to reclaim the habits, values, and principles that are required to fix our democratic and scientific institutions to prevent this from ever happening again. 

Feudalism was one giant stinking cesspool of self-serving corruption. Individual rights, free markets, the democratic process, and limited government were the antidotes that freed humanity from that hierarchical servitude. It seems we have come full circle. The COVID con is a symptom, not the cause, of a broken system.

Modern liberal democracy all around the world was inspired by the system of checks and balances that America's Founding Fathers built to prevent government from being co-opted by the special interests of its leaders, institutions, corporations, and most influential citizens. The ink was barely dry when those principles began to be ignored by those with ever greater enthusiasm for an all-powerful referee to manage even the most intimate details of how everyone lives their lives. After two and a half centuries of effort the admirers of big government have achieved their heart's desire. And what a glorious and rotten cesspool of self-serving corruption it is.

But the principles laid out by America's Founding Fathers remain as true today as the day they were written and are waiting to be rediscovered. If there is one culprit who deserves to shoulder more blame than any other for the fiasco of the last 18 months, it is society itself for allowing itself to fall prey to the siren song of big government, the illusion that there can ever be a benevolent, virtuous, and incorruptible referee. He who creates the red tape, he who has the keys to the treasury, he who wields the power of the tax collector, and he who commands those sent to enforce the laws will always have an entourage of self-serving charlatans, rent seekers, and parasites following him wherever he goes. So, keep his powers on a very short leash to keep other people's hands off your money, your property, your freedom, and your body. You don't need better leaders. You need less powerful institutions. That's how you prevent this from ever happening again.

Freedom of speech, individual rights, private property, individual ownership, competition, good faith debate, small government, minimal taxes, limited regulation, and free markets (the opposite of the crony capitalism we now suffer under), these are the checks and balances that bullet-proof a society against the soulless charlatans that fail upwards into positions of power in bloated government institutions and against the parasitic fraudsters that seek to attach themselves to the government's teat. 

Yes, we need a Great Reset. Just not the subscription-based version that the World Economic Forum imagined.

"Just Say No to Drugs"

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” 

- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark #Commissions Earned

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sat, 09/25/2021 - 00:00
Published:9/24/2021 11:19:15 PM
[History] Trippin’ with General Milley (Paul Mirengoff) They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Gen. Mark Milley proves that a lot of knowledge can be a dangerous thing when accompanied by a fevered imagination and barely a glimmer of analytical ability and common sense. James Hohmann of the Washington Post gushes that Milley “owns thousands of books in his personal library” and “attended Princeton before starting his climb up the officer’s ladder.” The general is Published:9/24/2021 5:45:07 PM
[Markets] “The Housing Market Is Almost Frozen" - An Even Bigger Problem Emerges For China “The Housing Market Is Almost Frozen" - An Even Bigger Problem Emerges For China

With Wall Street's fascination with risk associated with Evergrande's default fading fast, and the sellside pumping out charts such as this one showing that the contagion in China junk bond market is unlikely to spillover globally...

... the smartest men in the room are once again missing the forest for the trees because as we explained in detail over the weekend, and again reminded earlier this week...

... for Beijing the real risk is not whether foreign creditors are impacted - in fact Evergrande's willingness to default on offshore bondholders while preserving operational cash flow and continuing to build homes shows just how much China "cares" about Blackrock's P&L - but how an Evergrande crisis could impact China's massive, $60 trillion, property sector, something which CCB International, the Chinese investment bank, touched on in a recent research note in which it said that Evergrande "contagion risk has spread from financing to land sales, property sales, project deliveries and home prices."

And indeed, as the FT reports this morning, some very ominous cracks in China's property market - which according to Goldman is the largest asset class globally - are starting to emerge.

In a letter to the Shaoxing municipal government in eastern Zhejiang province, the local office of developer Sunac China appealed for “policy assistance” as it was struggling through what it called a "turning point in China’s real estate industry."

"We have never experienced such a radical change in the external environment," Sunac’s Shaoxing office said, pointing to a 60% year-on-year fall in home sales over the summer.

"The market is almost frozen," it added in the letter, which was first reported by the Financial Times. “The radical change in policy and environment has seriously disrupted our business and made it very difficult to maintain normal operations.”

The sudden, sharp collapse in China's property market is shown in the charts below which reveal that the amount of actual land transactions was not only well below the land supply in recent weeks, an unprecedented divergence, but that volumes were 65% below year-ago levels as potential buyers are suddenly terrified of investing in real estate as the Evergrande fate remains in limbo, with some worried that some of the 65 million empty apartments could hit the market and lead to a crash in property values.

While the plunge in transactions is demand-induced, there are also concerns that an Evergrande insolvency and eventual collapse could lead to a supply crunch. As reported earlier, in July a Chinese city halted sales at two Evergrande projects alleging the troubled developer misappropriated funds by only depositing a portion of the proceeds from housing sales into the escrow accounts, according to a local government statement.  To ensure Evergrande doesn’t divert these funds, the housing bureau in Nansha district created an escrow account under its own name this month to take in proceeds from Evergrande homebuyers, cutting off the developer’s direct access to the money.

A lack of funds has already led to a construction halt on some unfinished housing properties, sparking social unrest among buyers. In Guangzhou, buyers surrounded a local housing bureau earlier this month to demand Evergrande restart construction.

As we discussed over the weekend, one of the most troubling downstream consequences from chaos in the property sector would be social unrest, and as we noted, maintaining social order has always been a key priority for the Communist Party, which has no tolerance for protests of any kind.

In Guangzhou, homebuyers surrounded a local housing bureau last week to demand Evergrande restart stalled construction. Disgruntled retail investors have gathered at the companys Shenzhen headquarters for at least three straight days this week, and videos of protests against the developer in other parts of China have been shared widely online.

Without a social safety net and with limited places to put their money, Chinese savers have for years been encouraged to buy homes whose prices were only ever supposed to go up (similar to the US before 2007 when even idiots like Ben Bernanke said that the US housing market never goes down). Today, buying a house (or two) is a cultural touchstone. And while housing affordability has become a hot topic in the West, many Chinese are more likely to protest falling home prices than spiking ones.

Which brings us to a must read report from Goldman's Kinger Lau published overnight and focusing entirely on China's property sector - instead of just Evergrande - where it addresses a glaring dilemma: Beijing's desire to regulate and deleverage the housing sector even as it keeps property prices rising, a dynamic we summarized concisely earlier this week inside a tweet:

In his must read report (available for professional subscribers in the usual place) Goldman's Lau explains that what is going on with Evergrande, and in fact the turmoil gripping China's broader property sector is largely self-inflicted as "regulatory actions in China Internet have resulted in more than US$1tn market cap loss on the tech sector since mid-Feb, but in the past two weeks, investor focus has shifted to the US$60tn China property market which is linked to ~20% of Chinese GDP and represents 62% of household wealth."

Specifically, Goldman notes that more than 400 new property regulations (shown in the appendix) that are largely tightening in nature have been announced ytd to restrain housing market activity, spanning supply, demand, funding, leverage, to price control measures. It is these measures that have contributed to a 14% year-on-year fall in property sales and $90 billion of market-cap losses among developer stocks in 3Q alone.

In his attempt to summarize the critical linkages between China's all-important property sector and the broader economy (something we first tried to do back in 2017 in "Why The Fate Of The World Economy Is In The Hands Of China's Housing Bubble"), Goldman first focuses on the immediate catalyst behind the current crisis, which according to the bank has to do with the unprecedented regulatory tightening "in the largest asset class globally."

Or, as Goldman puts it succinctly, "Property is everywhere in China"

Some explanatory notes on the chart above:

  • The regulatory cycle keeps evolving: The ongoing regulatory tightening cycle, which is unprecedented in terms of its duration, intensity, scope, and velocity (of new regulation announcement) as suggested by our POE regulation proxy, has so far provoked significant concerns among investors in and have resulted in more than US$1tn market cap loss on China Tech.
  • From Tech to Social Sector, and then to Property: According to Centaline, more than 400 new property regulations have been unveiled ytd across the central and local governments to address the issues of rising property prices and imbalanced supply/demand in certain areas, over-reliance on property for economic growth and fiscal revenues, and potential speculation in the real estate market where 22% of property could be vacant and ~60% of recent-year purchases were driven by investment demand. Property market tightening isn’t a new feature in the Chinese policy cycle over the past decade, but the severity of the measures, the scope of tightening, and the determination of policy implementation (e.g. the 3 Red Lines) are arguably unprecedented.
  • China property is big: Almost two years ago, Goldman took a deep dive into the US$40tn Chinese residential housing market and analyzed its impacts on macro and asset markets. Since then, the market has grown to US$60tn in notional value including inventory, likely the largest asset class in the world on current prices. It has also registered Rmb26tn (US$4tn) of home sales with more than 3bn sqm of GFA being sold, almost 3x the size of HK SAR. Additionally, it is well-documented that Chinese households have a strong investment and allocation bias towards real assets for different economic and cultural reasons—as of Aug 2021, property accounted for around 62% of household assets in both the total and net terms, vs. 23% in the US and 36% in Japan, where stocks are the dominant household assets.
  • Property is ubiquitous in China, fundamentally and financially: Goldman economists estimate that the housing sector contributes to around 20% of GDP via direct and indirect channels such as property FAI, property construction supply chain, consumption, and wealth effect. In the financial markets, 15% of aggregate market earnings (i.e. ~US$150bn out of US$1tn in 2020) could be exposed to ‘property demand’ in the extended housing construction-to-sale cycle which typically spans over three years, and that property-related loans (developer loans, mortgages, shadow banking)/ developer bonds represent 35%/23% of banks’ loan books/the outstanding balance of the offshore USD credit (IG + HY) market,respectively.

And visually:

While a full-blown property crisis would impact virtually every aspect of the Chinese economy, starting with capital markets, shadow banks, and social stability, the most immediate one for global investors is of course, the equity market. Here are Goldman's key observations on this topic:

The regulation headwinds have resulted in a noticeable slowdown in property activities in recent months: nationwide property sales have fallen 14% yoy in3Q21 alongside stable prices in the primary market but large declines of transactions in the secondary market; property FAI and new starts have fallend rastically, although completion growth momentum has remained strong largely on favorable base effects.

At the macro level, Goldman economists have laid out 3 scenarios to model the contagion impacts from reduced property impulse on macro growth. Overall, they see 2022 GDP growth hit ranging from 1.4% to 4.1% depending on the magnitude/severity of the property market slowdown and the tightening of financial conditions domestically, although their scenario analysis does not take into consideration potential monetary and fiscal policy easing in response to the property market declines.

While listed developers only account for 4% of earnings in the aggregate listed universe, the housing market could be linked, directly and indirectly, to ~15% of corporate earnings, and every 10pp growth deceleration in housing activity could reduce profit growth of the housing market by ~2pp, all else equal.

Broadly, Goldman lists five key transmission mechanisms along the extended property market food chain:

  • Property developers and management companies (4% of equity market earnings): Developers’ earnings are highly sensitive to the property market fundamentals. However, given the time lag between transaction (pre-sales) and revenue recognition (accrual-based accounting), reported earnings usually lag sales by around 2 years, meaning that their current- and next-year earnings may not fully reflect the latest situation in the physical market. For property management companies, their near-term earnings profile is more sensitive to completions than sales but slowing property sales could dampen their future growth prospect.
  • Financial institutions (54% of equity market earnings): Developer loans and mortgage loans account for 35% of commercial banks’ aggregate loan book. Goldman's banks analysts see the potential for mortgage NPLs to rise (at 0.3% now, 1% increase in mortgage NPL ratio translates into 18.7% drop in net profits per their bear case) although their risk exposures to property-related WMPs have fallen substantially since 2016. For insurers, Goldman's team believes the listed insurers’ exposure to the property sector is low, but the potential indirect wealth effect could pose a bigger fundamental challenge. While not directly linked to the housing market, equity brokers’ earnings cycles have been negatively correlated with property sales, likely reflecting the asset allocation decisions/flows from Chinese households between the two asset classes.
  • Construction (2% of equity market earnings): From new property FAI start to completion, the construction cycle for commodity housing typically lasts 20-30 months in China. It drives demand for construction materials (China is the largest consumer of copper, iron ore and steel), although the focus of materials and their consumption intensity varies in different parts of the cycle. The process also directly impacts construction-related equipment, with excavators, heavy-duty trucks, bulldozers, cranes, and loaders all exhibiting reasonably high demand correlation with land sales.
  • Consumption: (3% of equity market earnings): Whether property purchase is considered consumption (at least for first time buyer) remains an open-ended debate, but the housing market is undoubtedly a key demand driver for a wide range of consumption items, including white goods,consumer durables like furniture equipment, and certain electronic products(e.g. Audio devices and air conditioners). Goldman's study shows that housing completion usually leads the sales and earnings in these sectors by 6-9months.
  • Wealth effect (1% of equity market earnings): At the micro level, capital appreciation (or depreciation) in the housing market could have short-term material impact on discretionary spending given the potential wealth creation from the US$60tn asset market, especially considering the relatively high investment ratios there. Industries that are sensitive to this channel encompass the Autos (luxury), Macau gaming, HK retailers and travel-related companies (before the pandemic), which tend to lag property sales by around two quarters, although these relationships may be also reflective of the broader macro dynamics including liquidity easing.

A snapshot of the various top-down impact of the Chinese property cycle on corporate earnings is shown below:

In sum, mapping Goldman' base case assumptions on GDP growth and property activities for 2022 onto corporate earnings via these channels,the bank lowers its 2022E EPS growth for MSCI China from 13% to 7%, but as the bank warns "the earnings downside (delta) could be much more significant (-28pp) if their bear cases prevail."

And should more companies warn that "the market is almost frozen" as a result of the Evergrande crisis, the bear case is virtually assured.

We conclude with Goldman's observations on the contagion risks which according to the bank - and contrary to the market - "are building", even if systemic risks can still be avoided.

While the restrictive policies have cooled the market, it has put highly-geared developers, notably Evergrande, in the spotlight as their deleveraging path becomes increasingly challenging. On one hand, Goldman agrees with us, and says that on a standalone basis, Evergrande should not be a serious systemic threat given that its total liability of Rmb1.9tn accounts for 0.6% of China’s outstanding TSF, its bank loans of Rmb572bn represent 0.3% of systemwide loan book, and its market share in nationwide commodity housing sales stood at 4% by 1H21. However, the real risks emerges in the context of the slowing property market: indeed, as in other systemic/crisis episodes, investors are concerned about specific weak links which could spread to the broader system via fundamental and financial channels in the case of disorderly default, and therefore the financial condition tightening risk could be much more significant than the Rmb1.9tn liability would suggest, according to Goldman.

How much risk is priced in? This is a popular question from investors but also a difficult one to answer given the fluidity of the situation. However, the following analyses lead Goldman to believe that the market may have priced in some degrees of degradation in macro/corporate fundamentals and possibly policy response from the authorities (i.e. a “muddle-through” scenario), but not a harsh scenario that is systemic and global in nature

  • Episodic analysis: Historical physical property market downturns were short-lived and shallow, but if we focus on episodes where developer equities traded at depressed valuations to proxy for property-related concerns (eg.2H11, early 2015, and late 2018), prevailing NAV discounts of listed developers(-60%) are roughly in-line with those difficult times. At the index level, MSCI China bottomed at around 10-11x fwd P/E and 10% ERP in those periods, vs. 13xand 9% at present respectively.
  • Fair PE targets: The MSCI China index is currently trading on 13x fP/E, having already de-rated from 19.6x at the peak in mid-Feb. Applying Goldman's three scenarios to its top-down macro PE model, the bank estimates that the index fair PE could fall to 12.5x in the base case, and 11.0x in their most bearish case.
  • Correlation analysis: Intra- and inter-sector, and cross-asset correlations with regard to Chinese stocks or developer equities have all risen in the past weeks, albeit from a low base. However, compared with previous cases where concerns related to China regulations or trade relations had spooked global markets (e.g. 2015 FX reform, 2018 US-China trade war), the absolute correlation levels are more benign at present, suggesting a global contagious impact is not fully priced in.

In light of all this, the good news is that in Goldman's view systemic risks could still be avoided considering:

  1. broad liquidity and risk-appetite indicators such as 7d repo, the onshore funding stress index, as well as the A-share market performance/ turnover suggest that the imminent "minsky moment" remains a narrative but far from a reality;
  2. the effective leverage (LTV) for the housing market is low, around 40% to 50% per our Banks team’s estimate;
  3. the institutional setup in China where the government has strong control over its banking system makes a market-driven collapse less likely to happen than would otherwise be the case;
  4. Losses will be realized by stakeholders associated with highly-geared developers, but the liabilities are relatively transparent and are less widely socialized in the financial markets than in previous global financial crises;
  5. the potential economic, social, and financial impacts have been well publicized and discussed, and it appears that the authorities are assessing the situation and starting to take actions; and,
  6. economists believe there is potential for the authorities to ease policy to prevent a disorderly default of Evergrande from developing into a crisis leading up to the Sixth Plenum in November.

Ultimately, timing will be key to a happy ending: Given the outsized market value of China property, and its intricate linkages to the real economy and the financial markets, deleveraging the property market and improving financial stability - two contradictory concepts - could raise systemic concern if policy actions are pursued too aggressively, or without clear coordination among regulators and communication with the market.

Importantly, as market concerns over tail risk and spillovers start to build, there is increasing focus on the narrowing window for policymakers to provide the necessary circuit breakers to ring-fence the (collateral) damages and stop the downward spirals.

A key risk from continued delayed action would be a bigger snowball effect and more damage on markets and investor (already strained) confidence in Chinese assets. As such, Goldman expects the market to focus on potential actions that could be pursued, such as a combination of debt restructuring (bank loans, WMP, credits), conditional government involvement in working capital bridges and unfinished property projects, and a coordinated plan to divest and cash in assets.

Finally, as promised earlier, here is a summary of the key loosing (green) and tightening (red) policies in China's property market.

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 13:00
Published:9/24/2021 12:07:10 PM
[Markets] America 2021: Inequality Is Now Baked In America 2021: Inequality Is Now Baked In

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

This complete capture of all avenues of regulation and governance can only end one way, a kind of hyper-stagflation.

Zeus Y. and I go way back, and he has always had a knack for summarizing just how insane, disconnected from reality, manipulative and exploitive the status quo narrative has become. I've occasionally published his commentaries and essays here since 2008 Imaginary Worth, Empire of Debt: How Modern Finance Created Its Own Downfall (October 15, 2008), not coincidentally, in the midst of the previous debt-fueled speculative bubble popping.

Here is Zeus's recent commentary on my opting out essay:

"Regarding your excellent recent article: Now That the American Dream Is Reserved for the Wealthy, The Smart Crowd Is Opting Out:

1) The sock puppet theater assumption among the technocrats that economies ebb and flow, go bull and bear, and have moments of advancement and retraction is now irretrievably disproven. We have gone past "too big to fail, too big to jail" and escalated to "so big as to fail upward always and to get away with everything no matter how venal".

When the Fed decided to buy up non-investment grade junk bonds for the first time in its 107-year history, we now have no semblance of the (always iffy and now absurdly irrelevant) "self-regulating" economy. More and more extreme intervention on behalf of the super-rich (even as the real economy is tanking) will mirror the vaccine mandates on behalf of Big Pharma, even as their vaccines are tanking. "Draining trillions of dollars and stashing them in offshore accounts? You deserve a tax break!"

We have gone far past "moral hazard" and a "rigged game," where the super-rich will make out like bandits, even if they cause a crash. We are in the next phase where it becomes profitable to cause hyperinflation and crashes (which you control by your monopoly powers), and then simply "siphon" (the apt term from this article) whatever is left of the savings and sweat of Jose and Maria American. Inflate and crash. Inflate and crash. Quick money. Guaranteed government bailouts. Manipulated markets (including cybercurrency by the way-- can you say JPMCoin?).

There is only one way out. Refuse the sordid mess, which has gotten so absurd, and the myths so hollow (educating yourself into massive debt, and working hard, only to be "rewarded" with some downsized employee's work being loaded on you) that there can be no other ultimate option but non-violent civil market disobedience.

2) What is the future of the developing juggernaut called predatory global capital, and their preferred cocaine called "zero interest rate, infinite money printing (ZIRIMP?)?

a. The super-rich will continue to borrow unlimited sums of money at near zero interest rates, so they can claim this new "debt" as a deduction and pay no income tax whatsoever (while vacuuming up every tangible good with this funny money)

b. The super-rich will use the same value-free money to buy stocks (of their own companies and others) sending those valuations and options soaring on nothing other than an artificial and infinite "demand", while being assured of special treatment and no prosecutions.

c. The super-rich will circle wagons around one-another-- Big Legacy Media, Big Social Media, Big Pharma, etc. This can be seen in Big Social Media's promotion to disinformation by the Biden administration and censoring of real and critical scientific pushback because the billions of taxpayer-funded government contracts Big Everything knows they can get if they play along. Again, we will see acceleration toward rebellion, as people are finding ways to move away from these monopolies like YouTube and Facebook into Telegram, Rokfin, and Rumble.

d. Not only have the "little people" had $50 trillion of their productivity stolen, but many trillions more for having an effective savings interest rate of 0% for the past 12 years. What are we "saving up for" when our money in savings has literally no growing power at all? Who needs workers anyway when you can ship every productive asset and manufacturing to China, and have them holding both the strings and the bag of the global economy?

e. This complete capture of all avenues of regulation and governance can only end one way, I can see, a kind of hyper-stagflation, i.e. plummeting (real) growth and hyperinflation as both Fed and government "stimuluses" only supply trillions of dollars more to the richest while the little guys gets screwed over and over under the guise of helping them (where "paycheck protection programs" fund hedge funds on Wall Street and somehow manage to miss mom-and-pop businesses on an increasingly shuttered Main Street).

This growing gap will reach a critical point when we have supply line collapses and unpredictable events around credit. Perish forbid if we have an interruption of the internet. We are headed to that station, GBOAT, the Greatest Bubble Of All Time alright, and it is just a matter of how long it's going to take for this runaway train to get there."

by Zeus Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D.
Consultant, Learning transformation, leadership, and design
Citizen Zeus (http://citizenzeus.com) "Learn to Transform"
Transforming Economy: From Corrupted Capitalism to Connected Communities

Thank you, Zeus. Well said: inequality is well and truly baked in.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 16:40
Published:9/22/2021 4:00:04 PM
[Markets] China Syndrome? Is Evergrande A Symptom Of Deeper Malaise China Syndrome? Is Evergrande A Symptom Of Deeper Malaise

Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

“If that’s true, we are very close to the China Syndrome ”

Evergrande’s imminent default is rocking markets – but few believe the collapse of a Chinese property developer could trigger a global financial crisis. What if Evergrande is just a symptom of a deeper malaise within the Chinese economy and its political/business structures? Maybe there is more at stake than we realise? What if Emperor Xi decides he needs a distraction?

Amid this week's market turbulence, and the overnight headlines, Evergrande dominates thinking this morning. The early headlines say the risk is “easing”. Don’t be fooled. S&P are on the wires saying it’s on the brink of default and is unlikely to get govt support. It’s Asia’s largest junk-bond issuer. Anyone for the last few choc-ices then?

The market view on the coming Evergrande “event” is mixed. Some analysts are dismissing it as an internal “China event”, others reckon there may be some systemic risk but one Government can easily address. There is some speculation about “lessons” to be learnt… There are even China supporters who reckon its proof of robust China capitalism – the right to fail is a positive!

I’ve got a darker perspective.

The massive shifts we’ve seen in China’s political/business public persona over the past few years have been variously ascribed: a reaction to Trump’s protectionism, China taking its place as a leading nation, Xi flexing his military muscle, and now a clampdown on divisive wealthy businesses to promote common prosperity.

What if Evergrande is just a symptom of something much deeper?

That that last 30-years of runaway Chinese growth has resulted in a deepening internal crisis, one that we barely perceive in the west? What if the excesses that have spawned Evergrande and the illusion every Chinese can afford luxury flats and a western standard of living is about to implode? Crashing oriental minor chords!

The looming Chinese property debacle will be fascinating, but it many respects will be similar and yet very different to the multiple market unwinds we’ve seen in the west. How it plays out will have all kinds of implications for growth, speculation and how global investors perceive China in the future. Folk are variously describing it as China’s Lehman Brothers, or the next “Minsky Moment” when speculation ends with a sharp jab of reality to the kidneys.

I’m thinking back to a story I read a few years ago about the Shanghai Auto-fair pre-pandemic. Evergrande New Electric Vehicles had the largest stand and was showing off 11 different EVs. Not one of these were actually available to buy – they were all models of as-yet unproduced cars. The company was valued at billions and yet never sold a single vehicle. This morning, it’s just another worthless business Evergrande is trying to flog. (See this story on Bloomberg TV: China’s Zombie EV Makers.)

The market is asking itself a host of questions about Evergrande’s collapse: How bad will its tsunami of Chinese contagion deluge global markets? When it’s going to happen? What knock-on effects will cascade through markets?

Perhaps the most important question is: Who will be exposed “swimming naked” when the Evergrande tide goes out? Who will be left with the biggest losses? As the company is definitely bust, these losses rather depend on just how China’s authorities respond.

Step back and think about it a moment – try putting these in context:

  • Fundamentally all business is about identifying a consumer need and filling it.

  • Fundamentally, greedy businessmen tend to get carried away because the political-financial system enables them.

  • Fundamentally, it’s just another burst bubble and who cleans up the mess.

  • In Evergrande’s case a thousand flowers of capitalism with Chinese characteristics grew into an unsustainable business – fundamentally no different from debt-fuelled sub-prime mortgages, or CDOs cubed, in the West.

The big difference this time is its China! China has done things… differently. The path China pursued in its recovery and growth since 1980 has not been without… consequences.

Thus far we’ve praised China for its spectacular growth and the creation of valuable companies under the red banner of Chinese capitalism. It is going to be “interesting” to see how the subsequent mess is cleared out. Questions about Moral Hazard are going to be shockingly simple – Government has made it abundantly clear that any wrongdoing by company executives will be punished in the harshest possible way.

More importantly, Chinese politics and business works on a very different playing field to the west. Forget the rule of law or the T&C’s of Evergrande bonds. It easy to dismiss and characterise the way Chinese business works as institutionalised systemic corruption – but it’s a system Ancient Roman Emperors would recognise as a patron/client relationship. Emperor Xi’s clients and his princelings will continue to benefit from his patronage in return for their support at his court, and will be protected in a meltdown. The system Xi presides over will have little motivation to intervene to protect western investors who find themselves caught in the Evergrande fiasco.

Where Xi will have to take notice is outside the rich, wealthy princeling cadre which increasingly owns and runs China. There will be massive implications for wealth/inequality among the Chinese people from a property collapse. With a third of Chinese GDP dependent on the property sector, (and about 4 million jobs at Evergrande), the collapse of one of the biggest players, and the likelihood others will follow is much more than just a systemic risk.

Property is a key metric in the aspirations to wealth of the rising Chinese middle classes. The same smaller Chinese investors and savers will likely prove the largest losers from the property investment schemes they were sucked into. These real losses will rise if hidden bank exposures trigger a domestic banking crisis – which apparently isn’t likely (meaning it is..). There are reports of investor protests in key China cities – putting pressure on the govt to act to mitigate personal losses.

Xi’s clampdown on big tech is painted as the Party’s programme to engineer a more socially-equal economy. He has pinned the blame for rising inequality on “corrupt” business practices and has his cadre’s waving books on Xi thought, mouthing slogans about “common prosperity” and “frugality”. These are going to look increasingly hollow if the middle classes bear the coming Evergrande pain, and the Party Princelings continue to prosper.

The really big risk in China is not that Evergrande is going to default – it’s much bigger. If the Party is seen to fail in its promise to deliver wealth, jobs and prosperity for the masses – then that is very serious. China’s host of failed EV companies, an economy still reliant on exporting other nations tech, and a massively overvalued property sector (that the masses still equate with prosperity) all suggest a much less solid economy than the Party promotes.

If the illusion of a strong economy is unravelling – who knows what happens next, but in Ancient Rome the answer would be simple… Blame someone else, and invade..

This could get very “interesting…” and not in a good way.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 08:45
Published:9/22/2021 7:54:27 AM
[Markets] Former Lehman Trader On "China's Lehman Moment" Former Lehman Trader On "China's Lehman Moment"

By Larry McDonald, former trader at Lehman Brothers, author of "A Colossal Failure of Common Sense" and publisher of the Bear Traps Report

My name is Larry McDonald, that is the UK cover above. In the years before the failure of Lehman Brothers, I ran a successful distressed credit business at what was the 4th largest investment bank in the U.S. – becoming one of the most consistently profitable traders in the fixed income division. In late 2008, early 2009 – with Patrick Robinson, we penned “A Colossal Failure of Common Sense” – the Lehman Brothers inside story. At least once a month, I tell my wife while wearing a hopeful smile —“if we sell a million books — we´ll break even on our Lehman stock.” On September 15, 2008 – it all came crashing down in the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Known as, “the week that changed the world,” a very painful experience indeed. I was down on the mat looking up at the referee as he delivered the count. It was one of those fateful moments most of us face. Staring into the abyss, drenched in blood-curdling uncertainty, there are times in life when we must get up. Even when it looks like all is lost in a valley of no hope.  Ultimately, the lucky ones learn there are valuable lessons in re-invention. The last 13 years have been a breath of fresh air. 

Life's Lessons

One of the important lessons in our book comes down to how to use leading credit risk indicators? In the 2007-2010 period, the global credit risk epicenter was obviously inside the US. In the 2011-2013 period, Europe´s banks were the focus during the Grexit panic. In recent years, Asia has become far more interesting, a new epicenter has been formed.

As far back as the spring of 2007, U.S. banks began to underperform financial institutions in Asia. By now, everyone knows most of the subprime mortgage credit risk was inside the USA with domestic banks more exposed than other banks around the world. Notice above, Goldman Sachs (purple above) 5 year CDS (the cost of default protection on the bank), began to meaningfully divergence from Standard Chartered. Standard Chartered PLC is an international banking group operating principally in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The company has far more credit risk exposure to China – Asia than U.S. banks. It is clear above, more than 12 months prior to Lehman´s failure, banks in the USA were dramatically underperforming from a credit risk perspective. In other words, in 2007 – the cost of purchasing credit default protection on Goldman Sachs was far more expensive than the bank's Asian peers. Indeed, elephants leave footprints – when large hedge funds see credit risk – they start placing bets months if NOT years before a credit event. The credit market sniffed out Lehman´s demise months BEFORE equity investors got the joke.

Now, let us think of Asia in the summer of 2015. The Fed was attempting “liftoff” – their first rate hike since 2004. Finally, in December of 2015, the Fed hiked rates 25bps for the first time in eleven years. In the process, as the central bank prepared the world for the now-infamous rate hike. In just six months the dollar ripped from 80 (July 2014) to 100 (March 2015). Emerging markets were in flames, the Fed had triggered a global dollar crisis. More than $1T left China (the country´s fx reserves were on the run). The world was in a real currency devaluation panic, with Asia wearing the epicenter title this time around.

Credit Risk, the Asia Epicenter 2015-2021

During 2015, the China currency devaluation crisis picked up steam in September and came to risk climax in Q3. But months before, the cost of default protection on Asia´s Standard Chartered began to sharply diverge from Goldman Sachs in the U.S. Once again, credit risk was screaming “there is a problem” in May 2015, by September the S&P 500 lost 16%. In 2007, Goldman’s credit risk was so telling. Then, eight years later – banks in Asia would wear the credit risk epicenter title. Fast forward to 2021, Evergrande headlines are all the media rage, especially with the Lehman, the lucky 13th anniversary this week.

But, what are credit markets telling us this time? As you can see above – far right. Credit risk is calm on Asia banks with exposure to China, no difference to speak of. Central bank liquidity is so abundant, there is NO way Lehman would have failed today. Free markets no more. Adam Smith has one (invisible) hand tied behind his back. We have unintended consequences as far as the eye can see with Uncle Sam’s fingerprints on every street corner.

The Trillion Dollar a Day Gravy Train

The flood of cash in U.S. interest-rate markets pushed the amount of money that investors are parking at a major central bank facility to yet another all-time high – every day a new high indeed. In recent weeks, every day more than Eighty participants have been lining up for nearly $1.2 trillion at the Federal Reserve’s overnight reverse repurchase agreement facility. Large counterparties like money-market funds can place cash with the central bank. This easy money gravy train is hiding the next Lehman Brothers, all embraced in deception. In terms of bond yields, let’s look around the planet. In the U.S., close to 90% of the junk bond market is trading below CPI inflation of 5.3% (highest since the early 90s).

Over the last 50 years, the highest this number ever reached was 7%. China’s high yield credit market is just 8-10% away from its March 2020 lows in bond prices – highs in yields. All of which begs the question – How can the U.S.-centric JNK Junk Bond ETF yield 4.4% while China´s junk bonds are offering 10-12% cash flows?! Always with an important lens – our friend, Jens Nordvig reminds us – “foreign involvement is small in China. It is true that the high-yield bond market has a sizable USD component (mostly foreign). But relative to the US, where subprime exposure was sold around the world, it is a much more local (controllable) system.” It has been clear for months, there is Evergrande credit contagion – it’s just inside China at the moment (as for how Evergrande contagion could spread to the rest of the world, read "This Is How Contagion From Evergrande's Default Will Spread To The Rest Of The World").

Security personnel forming a human chain as they guard Evergrande's headquarters, where people gathered to demand repayment of loans and financial products in Shenzhen on Monday

An Unsustainable Reach for Yield Comes with a Price – It is NOT FREE

Each year that goes by while central banks force investors to reach for yield – any paltry plus return on capital will do these days – complacency builds over time to an extreme – dangerous level.  Mark my words – there were dozens of Bernie Madoffs, Al Dunlaps, and Jeff Skillings sipping mint juleps in the Hamptons and the beaches of the south of France this summer. Central bankers are these guys’ best friends, that is the reality no one wants to admit. As long as central banks do NOT allow the cleansing process of the business cycle to function over longer and longer periods of time – credit risk will continue to build under the surface. Each month, week, and year we allow this charade to move forth – the corners capital flows into are deeper and deeper soaked with moral hazard toxicity. Today´s players on the field make “Dick Fuld” – former Lehman CEO –  look like a choir boy walking out of Sunday mass. The coming event will dwarf what was – “A Colossal Failure of Common Sense.”

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/19/2021 - 19:00
Published:9/19/2021 6:03:47 PM
[Markets] Taibbi: Does America Hate The "Poorly Educated"? Taibbi: Does America Hate The "Poorly Educated"?

Authored by Matt Taibbi via TK News,

It was impossible to mistake the tone of Joe Biden’s announcement of a vaccine mandate last week. It was an angry speech, which started by explaining that “many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated,” and went on to announce that “our patience is wearing thin,” and “your refusal has cost all of us.” Biden, not normally one for oratorial effects, even conveyed a sense of barely contained rage by muttering, “Get vaccinated!” as he walked off the stage.

“Enjoying the angry Dad vibes from this Biden speech,” came the cheerful comment of former Justice Department spokesman and MSNBC analyst Matthew Miller:

Who’d attracted Biden’s anger — the unvaccinated — was clear. The why was more confusing. The president decried how “the unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals… leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or pancreatitis or cancer,” a legitimate enough point. But after reassuring those who’d “done their part” that just “one out of every 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized” this summer, Biden nonetheless explained that “a distinct minority of Americans” is “causing unvaccinated people to die.” He added: “We’re going to protect the vaccinated from unvaccinated co-workers.”

As many noted, the statements were contradictory. If the vaccine really is that effective, the overwhelming consequences of of any failure to get vaccinated will be borne by the unvaccinated themselves. But Biden’s speech was as much about directing anger as policy. The mandate was an extraordinary step, but Biden’s unique — and uniquely strange — rhetorical setup, which framed the decision as a way to stop “them” from doing “damage” and killing “us,” was just as big a story.

The arrival of Covid-19 has exacerbated a troubling divide that’s been growing in America for decades, and is elucidated at length in Michael Sandel’s recent The Tyranny of Merit. The book tells a politically unsettling story about meritocracy in America, one that runs counter to prevailing narratives on both the left and the right. Though mention of Covid-19 is limited to a few paragraphs in a new prologue, the pandemic in many ways has become the ultimate test case of Sandel’s thesis: that we Americans have been so conditioned to believe that winners deserve to win that we’ve found ways to hate losers of any kind as moral failures, even when life is at stake, and especially when lack of education is seen as a factor.

It’s not remotely the same kind of book, but The Tyranny of Merit does follow up on themes in Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism. Lasch’s late seventies premise described American society devolved into a ceaseless all-against-all competition on all fronts, from the professional to the physical to the social and sexual and beyond. Moreover, Lasch wrote, if the original “American dream” was imbued with at least some vague ideas that success should be tied to virtues like thrift, discipline, and wisdom, by the disco age “the pursuit of wealth lost the few shreds of moral meaning.”

In the time since Lasch’s iconic treatise, though, relentless messaging campaigns emanating from both sides of the political aisle re-emphasized the idea that material success was tied to moral character. Ronald Reagan evangelized the idea that poverty was mostly a deserved state, and government at most owed those who weren’t to blame for their own problems. When Bill Clinton came along, he took Reagan’s finger-wagging moralizing and re-cast it in the cheery new technocratic language of global capitalism. “We must do what America does best,” Clinton said at his inauguration. “Offer more opportunity to all and demand more responsibility from all.”

Clinton’s formula was really Yin to Reagan’s Yang: in a world that offered more “opportunity,” there was now even less excuse for failure. We forget, because the pre-9/11 world seems so long ago, but Clinton-era editorialists spent much of the late nineties hyping the opportunity gospel. We were told a combination of the Internet and an increasingly integrated international economy created vast new worlds of material possibility, for those willing to “fill the unforgiving minute” and run the race. “If globalization were a sport,” wrote an exultant Thomas Friedman in 1999, “it would be the 100-yard dash, over and over and over. And no matter how many times you win, you have to race again the next day.”

Onetime labor parties paradoxically were the biggest boosters of the new hyper-competitive global economy, whose central feature was forcing Western workers to face off against masses of laborers in China, South Asia, Mexico, and other places where political rights were, shall we say, less of a priority. As the stress on former blue-collar workers intensified, politicians often sold the public on the idea that higher learning was their Golden Ticket out of the miseries of debt, higher medical costs, and especially social immobility.

By the time Barack Obama came along, it was axiomatic among the cosmopolitan set that anyone with enough ingenuity and entrepreneurial energy should be able to get ahead. Sandel amusingly points out that Obama often culled from a Sly and the Family Stone song in describing his vision of modern American capitalism, using the phrase “You can make it if you try” 140 times during his presidency:

The explosive and uncomfortable message at the heart of The Tyranny of Meritocracy is the idea that the resulting political divide is now less about ideology than education. Sandel deserves credit for taking on a subject that almost no one in high society wants to hear about, let alone those in the academic world. Forget red versus blue: he shows the real gulf is between those who have diplomas, and those who don’t. The subtext is that people with the right degrees deserve to be rich, and have health insurance, and good schooling for their kids, and dignified work, while those who threw away their books after high school deserve failure, in the same way smokers deserve lung disease — especially if they make unsanctioned political choices.

This is an excerpt from today’s subscriber-only post. To read the entire article and get full access to the archives, you can subscribe for $5 a month or $50 a year.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/18/2021 - 19:30
Published:9/18/2021 6:57:30 PM
[Markets] Ministry Of Manipulation: No Wonder Trust And Credibility Have Been Lost Ministry Of Manipulation: No Wonder Trust And Credibility Have Been Lost

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Now that every financial game in America has been rigged to benefit the few at the expense of the many, trust and credibility has evaporated like an ice cube on a summer day in Death Valley.

Here is America in a nutshell: we no longer solve problems, we manipulate the narrative and then declare the problem has been solved. Actually solving problems is difficult and generally requires sacrifices that are proportionate to one's wealth and power. But since America's elite are no longer willing to sacrifice any of their vast power for the common good, sacrifice is out in America unless it can be dumped on wage earners. But unfortunately for America's elite, four decades of hidden-by-manipulation sacrifices have stripmined average wage earners, and so they no longer have anything left to sacrifice.

Enter the Ministry of Manipulation, which adjusts the visible bits to align with the narrative that the problem has been fixed and the status quo is godlike in its technocratic powers. All this manipulation doesn't actually solve the problems, it simply hides the decay behind gamed statistics, financial trickery and glossy PR. The problems fester until they break through the manipulated gloss and the public witnesses the breakdown of all the systems that were presented as rock-solid and forever.

Let's take three core fields of manipulation: cost of living, Social Security and the stock market bubble. Each is a key signifier of the status quo functioning as advertised, and so manipulating them to fit the narrative is the elite's prime directive. Goodness knows what would happen if people were exposed to the unmanipulated reality, but it wouldn't be good for America's self-serving power elite.

The cost of living--the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a.k.a. inflation--is the most threadbare trash heap of manipulation currently on display. Fully 40% of the Index is based on the opinion of random people rather than easily tabulated real-world data. I refer to the government's comically wacky method of reckoning the cost of housing: ask a random bunch of homeowners what they guess they could rent their house for.

But wait, why not simply tabulate the actual rents being paid? That data is easily available, and could be made apples-to-apples by applying the methodology of the Case-Shiller housing index, which is to track the cost data of the same homes / flats over time. This would provide reliable data on the actual increase or decline in rents being paid.

Gathering actual real-world date is anathema because then the CPI would be much higher and not so easily manipulated. The same can be said of all the other tricks of manipulating the cost of living: seasonal adjustments (i.e., lop off price increases and attribute the reduction to "seasonality") and hedonic adjustments (i.e., after adjusting for the better stereo and the rear-view camera, today's $40,000 car is tabulated as "cheaper" than yesteryear's $10,000 car of the same size).

If these same adjustments were applied to the weight and height of individuals, a 6-foot tall individual weighing 200 pounds would be "adjusted" to 6 inches in height and a weight of 2 pounds. This is a slight exaggeration but not by much, as today's calculation of expenses are laughably understated in the CPI: today's cars haven't risen in cost at all according to the CPI, even as the number of work hours needed to buy a new car have skyrocketed--that is, when measured in purchasing power of wages, vehicles are much more expensive now.

Then there's healthcare, which is a weighted as light as a feather in the CPI. Healthcare-- you know, that sector which routinely bankrupts American families with bills in the tens of thousands?--is weighted as roughly equal to clothing. This is beyond absurd, but par for the CPI course of endless manipulations, all aimed at reducing the CPI so the public can be lulled into a fairyland belief that inflation has been trifling for decades, even as their paychecks buy a third less than they did a decade ago.

Next up, the appalling manipulation of Social Security. The first step is manipulating the CPI down so seniors' annual increases can be held to near-zero (no better brand of cat food for you, retirees--tighten your budget if you want the lights to stay on).

The truly big manipulation is the artifice that there is a mythical "trust fund" that we are drawing down to pay Social Security benefits. The trick was pulled decades ago, when Social Security taxes did in fact go into an independent agency account. President Johnson decided that he needed all that "free money" to pay for his misadventure in Vietnam, so the Social Security account was combined with the federal general fund, and an accounting gimmick was created: a completely fake class of IOUs that were presented as a "trust fund", IOUs with no marketable value at all.

There is no trust fund. When Social Security runs a deficit, the Treasury borrows the money in the same way it borrows all the other trillions of dollars needed to cover federal deficits. The money borrowed to pay Social Security is borrowed exactly like the money needed to pay the cost overruns on the F-35 aircraft or the fraud-riddled bills for meds paid by Medicare.

It's all smoke and mirrors and artful manipulation, designed to serve the interests of those running the show. It's the Big Con, intended to lull the public into a false confidence in the status quo narratives and technocratic magic.

Speaking of magic, look at how the stock market hits a low and then roars higher the same day every month. 

The "market" manipulation is so obvious that Comrade Powell of the Federal Reserve Politburo doesn't even bother explaining it.

The Politburo cronies just buy the dip, the Fed and its proxies (Blackrock, cough-cough) jam stocks higher and the Fed's cronies pocket billions--as shown on the chart below of the billionaires' soaring Fed-generated wealth.

No wonder public trust in America's self-serving institutions has cratered, and the credibility of the manipulators has been crushed. 

Now that every financial game in America has been rigged to benefit the few at the expense of the many, trust and credibility has evaporated like an ice cube on a summer day in Death Valley.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sat, 09/18/2021 - 11:30
Published:9/18/2021 10:53:57 AM
[Markets] Americans Are Souring On Biden... And Washington Americans Are Souring On Biden... And Washington

Authored by Pat Buchanan,

The California recall election turned out well for the Democrats.

With Gov. Gavin Newsom sinking in the summer polls, the party had been staring starkly at the prospect of losing the nation’s largest state and seeing its governor replaced by talk-show host Larry Elder, who had vaulted into the lead among the 46 candidates seeking to replace Newsom.

Elder had rallied Republicans and started to surge, which terrified the Democrats. Not only might they lose Newsom, but they could get in the governor’s mansion in Sacramento what leftists took to calling “the black face of white supremacy.”

Result: A panicked Democratic Party defeated the recall by nearly 2-1, with Californians voting to retain Newsom in roughly the same percentages as they had voted to elect Joe Biden president almost a year ago.

That leaves California securely in Democrat control.

Not in 15 years has a Republican won statewide office. Every elected governor and U.S. senator after 2006, every lieutenant governor and attorney general, has been a Democrat.

The Congressional delegation has 53 members, and the Democrats outnumber Republicans 42-11. Democrats also have 3-1 majorities in both houses of the state legislature.

Richard Nixon carried his home state on all five presidential tickets on which he ran, and Ronald Reagan never lost California. But the era that began when Barry Goldwater won the June 1964 primary against liberal Gov. Nelson Rockefeller is history.

Yet, everything is not coming up roses for Biden.

An Economist poll finds his approval rating underwater, with 49% disapproving of Biden’s performance in office to 46% in approval.

The latest Quinnipiac poll, out Tuesday, is more ominous. It has 50% of the country disapproving of the Biden presidency, with only 42% approving, the first time Biden’s rating has fallen into negative territory. More worrisome: Independents disapprove of Biden by 52-34.

When broken down by issues, the news is no better.

On his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden’s rating has plunged from 53-40 approval in August to 48% approving and 49% disapproving now. Fifty-five percent disapprove of his handling of his duties as commander in chief.

His mastery of foreign policy was supposed to be his strong suit. But here the numbers are even worse. Only a third of the nation, 34%, approves of his handling of foreign policy, while 59% disapprove.

On the economy, Biden also gets a negative rating, with 42% of the country approving of the job he is doing to 52% against.

With Biden’s numbers underwater overall and on the three major issues — the economy, foreign policy and his handling of the coronavirus — Democrats have to be looking nervously at November 2022.

“If there ever was a honeymoon for President Biden, it is clearly over,” says Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy.

“This is, with few exceptions, a poll full of troubling negatives … from overall job approval, to foreign policy, to the economy.”

What makes this especially ominous for Democrats is that the recent negative news is likely to continue on many fronts, while the possibilities of positive achievements appear limited.

Biden conceivably could pull off twin victories this fall in Congress — with passage of both the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package and the $3.5 trillion family infrastructure bill. If so, this would put him in the history books as a transformative president alongside Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.

But Biden faces problems on many fronts.

First among them is the return of inflation. The soaring price of food and fuel is beginning to be felt. There is new skittishness in the markets. And the jobs picture is not as rosy as was anticipated this summer.

While the country credits the president for ending America’s longest war, the future news out of Afghanistan is likely to be filled with stories of the Americans left behind and Afghan allies facing executions.

The invasion across our southern border is now producing 220,000 border crossers every month.

We are still in the fourth wave of the coronavirus, with the number of American dead, already over 670,000, rising at a rate of 2,000 a day.

If the wave does not break, this will depress the mood of a country that believed, just a few months back, that the worst was behind us and brighter days lay ahead.

And the poll numbers are not only the worst Biden has received. They are not all that good for the nation either.

Seventy percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the USA. The president’s disapproval exceeds his approval rating by eight points, just eight months in office. Republicans and Democrats in Congress both get negative ratings from the American people. And only 37% of registered voters approve of the Supreme Court’s handling of its role. Half the country disapproves.

If all three branches of the U.S. government have lost or are losing the confidence of their countrymen, what does that suggest is the future for our democratic republic?

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/17/2021 - 17:00
Published:9/17/2021 4:16:48 PM
[Markets] European Climate Bank: ECB To Scrutinize Bank Trading Books For "Climate Change Risk" European Climate Bank: ECB To Scrutinize Bank Trading Books For "Climate Change Risk"

Back in June we explained why contrary to the virtue-signaling intentions of its ideological proponents, the fraud that is ESG would likely trigger energy hyperinflation, destroying any hopes for perpetuating the "green" lie once billions of consumers realize it will cost them an arm and a kidney. And one place where this reality is already manifesting itself, is Europe where nat gas and electricity prices have hit new record high virtually every day in recent weeks, sparking angry protests as furious citizens refuse to pay their electric bills.

Spanish households are paying roughly double what they paid for electricity a year ago, prompting protests against utility companies.

So while one would think that Europe - the epicenter of the current energy hyperinflation phase - has learned its lesson and would ease back on central planning when it comes to energy policies to avoid even higher prices, one would be wrong because this morning instead of focusing on its sole mandate (and what it does worst) namely keeping inflation and unemployment stable, the ECB has decided to add yet one more mandate to its ever growing list of things its career economists needs to fix, and according to Bloomberg, the central bank "will look at the trading operations of major lenders as part of climate stress tests next year, after judging that an assessment of loan books alone won’t give enough insight into the fallout they face from global warming."

The ECB - which now stands for European Climate Bank - will also study the reputational and operational risks banks face, Alvarez & Marsal, a consultancy firm that’s involved in the process, told Bloomberg. In other words, if some bank is found to finance nat gas exploration it will be shamed in public for not being one of the ESG groupthink. The result will be even less investment in carbon development and - since green energy is still unviable without massive government subsidies and is also years away from even considering replacing carbon as an energy source - even higher energy prices.

Meanwhile, because the ECB doesn't already have enough things on its plate to screw up, the Climate Bank will now reach into banks’ trading operations, which as Bloomberg notes represents an additional challenge for an industry that’s already warned it’s not ready for next year’s landmark tests. The ECB is seeking more details than other central banks and, behind the scenes, has stepped up pressure on the industry to meet the moment.

Why this latest ridiculous push to centrally-plan and micromanage yet another aspect of everyday lives In Europe? Because in the continent, cowardly politicians - unwilling to take on the career risk of legislating the unpopular change they want - instead want banks to become a key plank in the fight against climate change by steering capital away from polluters. Investors are taking note as banks burdened by carbon-intensive balance sheets may face higher capital requirements, which could erode their power to pay dividends; it would also mean less maintenance capex which would lead to asset erosion and even greater energy hyperinflation.

“No bank has what the ECB wants,” said Fernando de la Mora, a managing director at Alvarez & Marsal who’s advising banks on how to prepare for the stress tests. “Global banks face the added challenge of finding data from regions outside Europe, which is limited.”

The ECB, going to lengths not even Stalin's top economic "advisors" ever reached, is also asking banks for data on emissions associated with the revenue they generate, an approach the Bank of England opted against for its climate tests this year because of a lack of available data, according to Alvarez & Marsal.

Of course, getting the exact numbers is impossible, so euro-zone banks will have to estimate the carbon emissions of companies behind most of their fee and interest income. They’ll also need to provide data on the emissions, loans and revenue associated with their biggest clients across industries, the firm’s analysis shows.  

In short, this is just the latest sheer idiocy from the ECB which is just creating work for the sake of creating work to give the impression that it is as the forefront of the great climate change revolution, even as banks merely come up with fabricated numbers. The decision to include banks’ trading books adds a further layer of idiocy complexity to the exercise. But it will also allow the ECB to see what might happen to stock or bond portfolios if they’re exposed to shocks such as losses on the debt of oil companies, de la Mora said.

Then again this is the ECB, so expect everything to be dead wrong as usual.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/17/2021 - 05:45
Published:9/17/2021 5:17:27 AM
[Markets] China Braces For "Nightmare Scenario" As Evergrande Offers Broke Investors Discounted Apartments China Braces For "Nightmare Scenario" As Evergrande Offers Broke Investors Discounted Apartments

Up until now the collapse of China's Evergrande was very much a slow motion affair, captured perhaps best by Forte Securities trader Keith Temperton who said that "the Asian banks will get hit hard if there's a default, but then there will be a 10-year recovery process. The market's getting a hang of it. The way they've managed the news flow seems quite clever. They haven't let a swathe of bad news at once." But while Beijing was indeed successful in extending the period of collapse as long as possible, now that Evergrande is effectively insolvent and having suspended its bonds from trading we have finally gotten to the endgame and the realization that hundreds of billions in capital (Evergrande's total debt was just over $300 billion) is gone for ever.

This realization has already prompted angry protesters at China Evergrande Group offices across the country as the developer has fallen further behind on promises to more than 70,000 investors. Construction of unfinished properties with enough floor space to cover three-fourths of Manhattan grinds to a halt, leaving more than a million homebuyers in limbo.

In an effort to appease its angry (and very soon, poor) stakeholders, Evergrande plans to let consumers and staff bid on discounted properties this month to repay them for billions in overdue investment products as the embattled developer seeks to preserve cash, according to people familiar with the matter.

According to Bloomberg, the company will organize an online property event by Sept. 30 for investors who opt for discounted real estate in lieu of cash, said two employees who were briefed on an internal call Thursday and asked not to be identified. The world’s most-indebted property developer is pushing the discounted real estate as the preferred of three options for angry investors seeking repayments.

The high-yield "shadow bank" products paying as much as 13% a year have become a lightning rod for cash-strapped Evergrande, with investors and staff protesting losses and delayed payments from investments that were marketed as safe. Indeed, demonstrations that are breaking out across China could sway any bailout decisions by the government, which places a high priority on social stability, although it's likely too late for that.

More than 70,000 people bought the products, including many Evergrande employees, Bloomberg reported earlier, citing an executive of Evergrande’s wealth division. And with about 40 billion yuan ($6.2 billion) of them are now due according to Caixin, there is about to be a whole lot of angry investors, who will not be swayed by the company's hail mary plan to offer steep discounts on property assets. Investors can invest in residential housing units at a 28% discount, offices at a 46% discount and stores and parking units at 52%. Discounted rates can’t be lower than price floors designated by local governments. The property discounts are a voluntary repayment option, according to the briefing.

And while we wait to see what the acceptance rate on this bizarre debt-for-apartments exchange offer will be, the reality of the absurd situation is finally seeping in and is pummeling China's already shaky real estate market, where new land sales just crashed by 90% in August...

... in the process squeezing other developers and rippling through a supply chain that accounts for more than a quarter of Chinese economic output. And as fear of contagion and exposure to Evergrande has finally emerged, credit-market stress spreads from lower-rated property companies to stronger peers and banks as global investors who bought $527 billion of Chinese stocks and bonds in the 15 months through June begin to sell.

This, in turn, brings us to China's nightmare scenario: an uncontrolled bankruptcy which escalates into an all out economic crash.

As Bloomberg notes, it’s impossible to know for sure what would happen if Beijing allows Evergrande’s downward spiral to continue unabated, but China watchers are already mapping out worst-case scenarios as they contemplate how much pain the Communist Party is willing to tolerate. Pressure to intervene is growing as signs of financial contagion increase and as more and more popular anger builds.

"As a systemically important developer, an Evergrande bankruptcy would cause problems for the entire property sector,” said Shen Meng, director at Beijing investment bank Chanson & Co. "Debt recovery efforts by creditors would lead to fire sales of assets and hit housing prices. Profit margins across the supply chain would be squeezed. It would also lead to panic selling in capital markets."

Evergrande had 1.3 trillion yuan ($202 billion) in presale liabilities at the end of June, equivalent to about 1.4 million individual properties that it has committed to complete, according to a Capital Economics report last week. “If Evergrande had to dump its inventory onto the market” it would “drag down property prices substantially,” said Hao Hong, chief strategist at Bocom International.

Such an outcome would be catastrophic for China's economy, where real estate represents 70% of household net worth, but absent a full-blown bailout by Beijing which would appear as glaring weakness coming so late into the process, it is unclear what other alternatives are viable even if Shen, and virtually all other analysts and investors discussing Evergrande say Beijing is in no mood for a Lehman moment. Instead, rather than allow a chaotic collapse into bankruptcy, they predict regulators will engineer a restructuring of Evergrande’s $300 billion pile of liabilities that keeps systemic risk to a minimum.

While markets seem to agree with the Shanghai Composite Index less than 3% from a six-year high and the yuan is near the strongest level in three months against the dollar, it is unclear just how Beijing - which did not allow corporate debt restructurings until a few years ago - will oversee a bankruptcy process that would be substantially bigger and more complicated than that of Lehman brothers.

Even Bloomberg agrees that "a benign outcome is far from assured" and reminds us of Beijing’s bungled stock-market rescue in 2015 which showed how difficult it can be for central planning policymakers to control financial outcomes, even in a system where the government runs most of the banks and can exert outsized pressure on creditors, suppliers and other counterparties.

And while equities continue to exist in a world of their own where nothing can go wrong, some parts of the market are starting to crask amid the surge in contagion risk: as noted in recent days, Chinese junk-bond yields jumped to an 18-month high and shares of real estate companies plunged after Evergrande had its credit rating downgraded and requested a trading halt in its onshore bonds. Furthermore, ahead of what many fear could become a cascading liquidity crisis, banks in China are hoarding yuan at the highest cost in almost four years, a sign they may be preparing for what a Mizuho Financial Group Inc. strategist called a “liquidity squeeze in crisis mode.”

With so much unclear, where Xi will ultimately draw the line to contain the fallout remains a mystery. While China’s top financial regulator has urged billionaire Evergrande founder Hui Ka Yan to solve his company’s debt problems, authorities have yet to spell out how they envision him backstopping hundreds of billions in liabilities, and even whether the government would allow a major debt restructuring or bankruptcy. Adding to the China's recent deleveraging campaign would lose credibility

Even senior officials at state-owned banks have told Bloomberg that they’re confused and still waiting for guidance on a long-term solution from top leaders in Beijing. Evergrande’s main banks were told by China’s housing ministry this week that the developer won’t be able to make interest payments due Sept. 20.

To be sure, China’s government isn’t averse to nationalizing failed private companies: in 2019, Beijing seized Baoshang Bank and assumed control of HNA Group, the once-sprawling conglomerate in early 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic decimated the company’s main travel business. Court-led restructurings have also become more common in recent years, with more than 700 being completed in 2020.

Ultimately, rhe Evergrande endgame will depend largely on how Xi balances his goals of maintaining social and financial stability against his multi-year campaign to reduce moral hazard (spoiler alert: in a country of 1.4 billion people preventing social unrest will always win over moral hazard). Then again, the timing is particularly tricky as China juggles an economic slowdown, a sweeping crackdown on the private sector and rising tensions with Washington - all in the runup to a once-in-five-year leadership reshuffle in 2022 at which Xi is set to extend his indefinite rule.

So while some sort of rescue is likely, “the government has to be very, very careful in balancing support for Evergrande,” said Yu Yong, a former China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission regulator and now chief risk officer at China Agriculture Reinsurance Fund.

“Property is the biggest bubble that everyone has been talking about in China,” Yu told Everbright Sun Hung Kai analyst Jonas Short in a recent podcast. “So if anything happens, this could clearly cause systematic risk to the whole China economy.”

Courtesy of Bloomberg, here are some of the factors that may sway Chinese leaders:

Social Unrest - Maintaining social order has always been a key priority for the Communist Party, which has no tolerance for protests of any kind. In Guangzhou, homebuyers surrounded a local housing bureau last week to demand Evergrande restart stalled construction. Disgruntled retail investors have gathered at the company’s Shenzhen headquarters for at least three straight days this week, and videos of protests against the developer in other parts of China have been shared widely online (see video above). Without a social safety net and with limited places to put their money, Chinese savers have for years been encouraged to buy homes whose prices were only ever supposed to go up (similar to the US before 2007 when even idiots like Ben Bernanke said that the US housing market never goes down). Today, buying a house (or two) is a cultural touchstone. While housing affordability has become a hot topic in the West, many Chinese are more likely to protest falling home prices than spiking ones.

“Given that the bulk of people’s wealth is already in property, even a 10% correction would be a serious knock to many people,” said Fraser Howie, an independent analyst and co-author of books on Chinese finance who has been following the country’s corporate sector for decades. “It would certainly knock their hopes and dreams and expectations about what property is.”

Shadow banks: Another potential flashpoint is whether Evergrande can repay high-yield wealth management products that it sold to thousands of retail investors, including many of its own employees. About 40 billion yuan of the WMPs are due to be repaid, according to Caixin, a Chinese financial news service. Evergrande is trying to free up cash by selling assets, including stakes in its electric-car and property-management businesses, but has so far made little progress.

Capital Markets: Evergrande is the largest high-yield dollar bond issuer in China, accounting for 16% of outstanding notes, according to Bank of America. Should the company collapse, that alone would push the default rate on the country’s junk dollar bond market to 14% from 3%. While Beijing has become more comfortable with allowing weaker businesses to fail, an uncontrolled spike in offshore funding costs would risk derailing a key source of financing. It could also undermine global confidence in the country’s issuers at a time when Beijing is pushing for larger foreign investor ownership. Yields on China’s junk dollar bonds are nearing 14%, up from about 7.4% in February, according to a Bloomberg index, largely due to the crash in Evergrande debt.

The stakes are even higher on the mainland, where the yuan-denominated credit market is about 15 times the size at $12 trillion. While Evergrande is less of a whale onshore, a collapse could force banks to cut their holdings of corporate notes and even freeze money markets, the plumbing of China’s financial system. In such a credit crunch, the government or central bank would be forced to act. Banks involved in property lending may come under pressure, leading to an increase in soured loans. Smaller banks exposed to Evergrande or other weaker developers may face “significant” increases in non-performing loans in the event of a default, according to Fitch Ratings.

Economic Impact: Concern over Evergrande comes at a time when China’s economy is slowing sharply. Aggressive controls to curb outbreaks of Covid-19 are hurting retail spending and travel, while measures to cool property prices are taking a toll. Data this week showed home sales by value slumped 20% in August from a year earlier, the biggest drop since the onset of the coronavirus early last year. Responding to a question on Evergrande’s potential impact on the economy, National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Fu Linghui said some large property enterprises are running into difficulties and the fallout “remains to be seen.”

China’s current priorities of promoting “common prosperity” and deterring excessive risk-taking mean there’s unlikely to be any easing of property curbs this year, according to Macquarie Group Ltd. The sector will be a “main growth headwind” for next year, although policy makers may loosen restrictions to defend growth goals, Macquarie analysts wrote in a Wednesday note.

A crash in China’s property market would not only slow the domestic economy but have global consequences too.

“A significant slowdown in property construction over the next few years appears probable already, and would become even more likely in the event of an Evergrande failure or bankruptcy,” said Logan Wright, a Hong Kong-based director at research firm Rhodium Group LLC. “A long-term slowdown in property construction, an industry that represents around a fifth or a quarter of China’s economy by most estimates, would cause a significant decline in GDP growth, commodity demand, and would likely have disinflationary effects globally.”

* * *

The bottom line is that while stocks stubbornly refuse to reflect the huge risks faced by China in the coming days when Evergrande's fate will be revealed, the reality is that a nightmare scenario - one which is all but assured absent a full-scale bailout by Beijing - would lead not only to a Chinese financial crisis and economic crisis, but to a global stagflationary depression because unlike the global financial crisis when it was China that dragged the world out of the depth of the crisis, this time it will be China responsible for the collapse and as much as they may try, developed nations simply do not have the horsepower to pull the world out of the coming chasm.

 

 

d

dd

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/16/2021 - 18:30
Published:9/16/2021 5:45:07 PM
[Markets] Mayor Demands School Board Resign Or Be Charged Over Dissemination Of "Child Pornography" Material Mayor Demands School Board Resign Or Be Charged Over Dissemination Of "Child Pornography" Material

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

The Mayor of Hudson, Ohio is demanding that school board members either resign or face charges after it was revealed that material which amounts to “child pornography” was part of the curriculum for high school students.

The controversy began after parents complained about a book called “642 Things to Write About,” which was provided to high school students who are taking a college credit course called Writing in the Liberal Arts II.

The books asks students to “write a sex scene you wouldn’t show your mom,” as well as giving them the task of “(rewriting) the sex scene from above into one that you’d let your mom read.”

Concerned parents at the school board meeting on Monday demanded that cameras be placed in classrooms to keep tabs on what is going on, with one person describing the material as”disgusting,” adding that was facilitating “grooming.”

Superintendent Phil Herman asserted that the material was removed as soon as officials were alerted to it and that “at no time were any of these inappropriate writing prompts assigned as part of the class.”

However, Mayor Craig Shubert demanded severe consequences for those who had potentially exposed minors to such material.

“It has come to my attention that your educators are distributing essentially what is child pornography in the classroom,” Shubert told the board. “I’ve spoken to a judge this evening. She’s already confirmed that. So I’m going to give you a simple choice: You either choose to resign from this board of education or you will be charged.”

All five members have been given until the end of the month to resign, although Ralph Lusher, staff attorney with the Ohio School Boards Association, suggested that they couldn’t be held criminally liable for curriculum material.

Herman apologized for the material and said a full investigation was underway.

The image below of a book depicting graphic homosexual intercourse has also allegedly been used in grade schools.

If this kind of degeneracy is being pushed on your kids, what else are they being taught?

For those who have the resources to homeschool their children, it’s a no brainer at this point.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/15/2021 - 14:00
Published:9/15/2021 1:09:10 PM
[World] Inside Lily Collins' World: From Celebrity Kid to Finding Her Own Spotlight and Falling Madly in Love Lily Collins, 2020 Paris Fashion WeekSure, 2020 wasn't one for the books for most people. But it ended up being Lily Collins' year. She spent most of it in sweatpants, like so many others, but that just meant she was...
Published:9/15/2021 8:10:54 AM
[Markets] Nothing Is Real: A Visual Journey Through Market Absurdity Nothing Is Real: A Visual Journey Through Market Absurdity

Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com,

When it comes to modern markets, risk assets and the now normalized yet twisted tango of fiscal and monetary policy gone wild, it’s safe (rather than sensational) to simply confess that nothing is real.

As I recently watched BTC drop by 16% in one hour from $50K to $43K, only to reach back up to $46K in 20 minutes, my 20+ years of Wall Street experience watched with bemused yet experienced awe at what amounted to just another day of leverage, emotion and institutionalized front-running as the big money whales in crypto pulled off yet another media and SEC-ignored pump-dump-and-pump trade. 

In short, the unreal has simply become business as usual.

Real Education vs. Surreal Facts

By 1997, I had graduated from a steady, iconic and expensive list of higher educational institutions which emphasized critical thinking, objective data, historical context and basic math.

But had I told a single professor back then that one day we’d see the simultaneous occurrence of Treasury Yields at 1.35%, and

….an “official” YoY CPI (inflation) growth rate of 5.4%, and

…an S&P reaching all-time highs above 4000,

…despite negative annual GDP rates, and

… consumer sentiment tanking,

… it’s likely they’d ask me to return my diplomas.

Why?

Because everything I (and all the rest of us) had been taught long ago was that rising risk assets reflect healthy economic growth, vigorous natural demand and a robust confidence in continued productivity and hence free-market price discovery.

That, at least, was the “reality” that nine years of secondary (post high-school) education gave me before I began my first toe-dip into the public exchanges (i.e., asset bubbles) of 1999.

Experience vs. Theory  

What did I learn after watching the NASDAQ rise to the moon in 2000 before puking by greater than 80% in 2003, and a sub-prime bubble that had investors giddy in 2006 yet on their knees by the autumn of 2008, or far more recently, a decade+ bull market hitting needle-peak highs on the backs $28T in national debt and a Fed balance sheet that had bloated from $800 billion in 2000 to over $7 trillion by 2020?

The answer is simple: Nothing I learned in school was “real” and nothing about our current moment in time has even the slightest resemblance to anything remotely characterized as natural, free-market or fair-price-driven.

Nothing. Not even close.

Instead, we live in a dystopian world of engineered markets, centralized economies and dis-information in which extreme money creation by 5 central banks have increased their balance sheets by 12X like this

…leading to un-natural (i.e., “accommodated”) credit markets in which sovereign bonds offer negative (and technically defaulting) yields like this

…which makes the cost of debt free for a select minority, allowing corporations and their grossly advantaged and over-paid executives to live (and bloat) off their own stock buy-backs at levels this

…which directly results in central-bank-created risk asset bubbles like this

…in which greater than 86% of that market wealth is enjoyed by just the top 10% of the population, leading to wealth disparity at record levels like this

…while the self-serving central bankers like this...

…who directly caused this historical distortion of capitalism, congratulate themselves on hubris-saturated book tours like this

… or subsequently become the directors of Treasury Departments like this.

Mass Media, Mass (and Deliberate) Hysteria

Meanwhile, a feckless media owned by just a handful of corporate boards with direct ties to governments, tech billionaires, bad Davos skiers and Wall Street, and which more resemble the “nothing is real” propaganda profiles of Joseph Goebbels and Pravda than the “truth to power” stewards of Woodward and Bernstein, continue to headline tweets from crypto front-runners likeMusk or fear-porn mask mandates for children from a locked-down Sydney to a head-down New York.

All this, despite the confirmed science that children present near zero risk of serious illness from a global flu whose case fatality rates are less than ½ of 1 percent.

Crazy.

But as every tyrannical, autocratic and corrupt regime has always perfectly understood, when the truth is a threat, feed the masses fear, anger and lies instead.

This is history 101 for anyone who reads a book rather than tweet.

But rather than rage against the architects of so much distortion of honesty, math, science and social contracts, the media and policy makers distract the masses with bread, circus, fear and anger, stoking the fires of racial division and invisible death from above, pointing their woke and increasingly sanctimonious fingers at everything from a rapidly defunded police force to the “criminally selfish unvaccinated” who apparently live in caves and don’t believe in science or their fellow man.

Meanwhile, that oxymoron otherwise known as “modern culture” (rich in opinions but poor in questioning or earning them) cancels everything from Little House on the Prairie and Dr. Seuss to Robert E. Lee’s statue in Richmond, Virginia.

Sadly, however, if the broke and legitimately angry masses in the new feudalism now somehow passing for capitalism or constitutional democracy (at least the kind I studied in law school) were informed rather than just frustrated and manipulated, then instead of blaming these angry and easy-to-denounce faces

…they could simply blame the smug and harder to justify faces of anti-heroes like this

…or this

…or this:

Returning to the Nonsense

For now, the pablum and doublespeak from these so-called experts continues to float like jetsam from the polluted currents flowing out of an increasingly discredited FOMC as the markets pretend to brace themselves for a potential “tapering” of the otherwise blatant money addiction (and counterfeiting) still masquerading as policy support.

Angry crowds, however, typically have no time for hard policy facts, economic history or founding father ideals; instead, they are educated by 50 word-count tweets and the latest celebrity wisdom or virtue-signaled headline. It is easier to live as though nothing is real

Unknown to many in those angry crowds gathering around Robert E. Lee or Dr Seuss, for example, the Atlanta Fed just cut its q3 GDP forecast by 50% in matter of days.

From where I sit in terms of both history and economics (at least until these subjects are equally “canceled” from the modern curriculum), falling GDP as indicated above effects all our lives far more than falling statues or controversial children’s books.

But as we’ve written so many times, the powers-that-be are clever little foxes, and even crashing GDP and skyrocketing debt, which are objectively time-proven cancers for society, can be a boon for their false narrative of governmental or central bank “guidance,” which is nothing more than increasing social control hiding behind a Covid mask.

Debt to GDP: The New Distortion

After all, one way to address the appalling 135% debt to GDP ratio in the U.S.  is to simply reduce the productivity component rather than debt component of the ratio, akin to telling a man with only one arm that his shirts will fit better if we remove the remaining arm.

A “bad” debt to GDP figure is just veiled anchoring for more QE “stimulus” and more ludicrous fiscal spending of money which governments don’t in fact have but which a mouse-click at the Eccles Building can produce in seconds.

In simple speak, this latest GDP “bad news” looks like an open as well as carefully planned piece of “good news” for a QE-addicted, fully Fed-supported and ultimately rigged to fail stock bubble.

The Pointless Taper Debate

As for Fed tapering, even the hawks at that same Atlanta Fed can’t keep their message or ethics straight for more than a week.

Nothing at all shocking or new there…

Another Fed Two-Step

Back in August (8/27), for example, Atlanta Fed President, Raphael Bostic, bravely declared: “Let’s start the taper and let’s do it quickly.”

But fast forward just a few days to September 2, and that same Fed President, like so many other fork-tongued masters of doublespeak within the FOMC, back peddled with fabulous elan, declaring instead that “we’re going to let the economy continue to run until we see signs of inflation.”

The amount of “duplicitous dumb” within this single sentence defies both belief and this report’s word count, but for simplicity’s sake, and despite “signs of inflation” literally everywhere, Bostic’s latest semantic two-step translates to this: Don’t expect a “taper” of the free money spigot anytime soon.

Besides, and as we wrote last week, even if a “taper” in Fed QE were to occur, such hawkish optics won’t stop the Fed from dumping ever-more dovish liquidity into the system via clever little tricks up the sleeves of its Reverse Repo Program.

In short, the Standing Repo Facility (or SRF) is just QE by another clever acronym, so please: Don’t let the headlines or double-speak from above fool you.

Taper or no taper, the dollar in your wallet is about to drown under even more currency-killing liquidity from on high.

In short, nothing is real.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/15/2021 - 06:30
Published:9/15/2021 5:33:46 AM
[Markets] The US Economy In A Nutshell: When Critical Parts Are On "Indefinite Back Order", The Machine Grinds To A Halt The US Economy In A Nutshell: When Critical Parts Are On "Indefinite Back Order", The Machine Grinds To A Halt

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

A great many essential components in America are on 'indefinite back order', including the lifestyle of endless globally sourced goodies at low, low prices.

Setting aside the "transitory inflation" parlor game for a moment, let's look at what happens when critical parts are unavailable for whatever reason, for example, they're on back order or indefinite back order, i.e. the supplier has no visibility on when the parts will be available.

If the part that blew out is 0.1% of the entire machine, and the other 99.9% still works perfectly, the entire machine is still dead in the water without that critical component. That is a pretty good definition of systemic vulnerability and fragility, a fragility that becomes much, much worse if there are two or three components which are on indefinite back order.

This is the problem with shipping much of your supply chain overseas: you create extreme systemic vulnerability and fragility even as you rake in big profits from reducing costs. Speaking of costs, let's look at the costs of having a large, costly, complex mechanism sitting idle in a non-functioning state due to some broken element for which there is no substitute available. Whatever productive capacity the mechanism, process, etc. had is now stuck at zero.

Buying a new replacement is extremely costly, and that's not always available for all the same reasons that parts and components aren't available. Finding someone to fabricate a new component is not easy due to the wholesale transfer of manufacturing moxie and capability overseas.

You might be able to find someone to weld a replacement strut, but try finding someone to fab a new bicycle derailleur or better yet, a multilayer semiconductor chip. What about 3-D fabrication? Doesn't that solve this problem? If the part can be "printed," yes, but there are limits on what can be 3-D fabbed. You can't 3-D fab a complex thermostat or controller, for example. You can't 3-D fab a rubber gasket, either, or a great many other bits of petrochemical-based manufacturing.

Scarcities are not limited to parts and components; skilled people can be scarce, too. For example, there is a limited supply of ICU doctors and nurses. The training required to work in an ICU is specialized and experiential; throwing someone with minimal training in is not a substitution that's going to work. You can't order an ICU staff from China or print one digitally the way the Federal Reserve creates currency out of thin air. It takes many years to train the staff to function at a high level in ICU.

A great many such labor scarcities exist for skilled workers who cannot be replaced except by someone with the same training and years of experience. This is one reason ICUs can break down: there is no replacement staff available, and no way to "print more."

It turns out there's also a scarcity of people willing to do the dirty-work jobs America needs done for wages that haven't kept up with inflation. As I have explained here, the $1.65 minimum wage I earned in 1970, if factored for real-world inflation, is around $18 per hour, and arguably closer to $20 per hour.

The solution is to raise the pay to levels that attract workers, but then this requires raising prices on the good and services to the point that customers can no longer afford them.

But wait, can't we automate all work and deliver full-gee-whiz free-money, no-work communism to everyone? I invite everyone who reckons this is in the realm of the do-able to design, program and manufacture an automated robot that can trundle out to the laundry room, pop open a broken clothes dryer, diagnose the problem, manage to find a new controller board, fit it correctly and properly reconnect all the little wiring bits, close it up, test it, lift the dryer back on the washing machine and do all that for the relatively modest cost of a human repairperson. When you accomplish fabricating and programming that robot to do all the work without instruction or oversight, by all means let us all know how much it cost to design, program and manufacture, what the payback of the development and manufacturing process will cost amortized over the (short) life of the robot and how reliable it is in the real world.

The point is, fantasies are nice but reality is far more demanding.

There can also be scarcities of competence. There may be replacements who claim competence, but when reality intrudes on the shuck-and-jive, their competence was illusory, and the net result is the entire institution can be described by President G.W. Bush's memorable phrase, this sucker's going down.

There can also be scarcities of institutional infrastructure and capacity. Once the institution, enterprise, state agency, etc. has been stripmined of redundancy, institutional memory and competence, then the first scarcity that cannot be replaced is the first domino that topples all the other dominoes of systemic vulnerability and fragility.

The Federal Reserve can print trillions of dollars and the federal government can borrow and blow trillions of dollars, but neither can print or borrow supply chains, scarce skills, institutional depth or competence. That nice shiny new semiconductor fab you reckon will resolve the chip shortage? You can print the billions of dollars needed in an instant, but the machinery, expertise and time can't be conjured quite so easily. That fab is years away from completion no matter how many freshly conjured dollars you throw into the air.

When Critical Parts Are On "Indefinite Back Order," the Machine Grinds to a Halt: that's the U.S. economy in a nutshell.

A great many essential components in America are on indefinite back order, including the lifestyle of endless globally sourced goodies at low, low prices.

That lifestyle is out of stock and cannot be replaced with financialization fakery.



Hey, Federal Reserve, can you conjure up a non-corrupt financial system, a domestic supply chain, and an economy of open competition, transparency, accountability and competence? If not, you are even more worthless than we feared.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Tue, 09/14/2021 - 16:20
Published:9/14/2021 3:29:49 PM
[] New Bob Woodward Book Promises to Be the Most Anti-Trump of Them All Published:9/14/2021 1:54:52 PM
[Markets] Elizabeth Warren Demands Amazon Censor Best-Selling Books Elizabeth Warren Demands Amazon Censor Best-Selling Books

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Senator Elizabeth Warren is demanding Amazon censor best-selling books because they contain information that challenges the official narrative on coronavirus.

Warren wrote a letter asserting that Amazon was complicit in spreading “COVID-19 misinformation” because it allows people to buy books authored by people like Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has been targeted by the mainstream media as a purveyor of “dangerous” fake news about COVID and vaccines.

“During the week of August 22, 2021, my staff conducted sample searches on Amazon.com of pandemic-related terms such as ‘COVID-19,’ ‘COVID,’ ‘vaccine,’ ‘COVID 19 vaccine,’ and ‘pandemic,’” Sen. Warren wrote in a letter addressed to Amazon’s CEO Andy Jassy.

“The top results consistently included highly-ranked and favorably-tagged books based on falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and cures.”

Of course, the claim that these are “falsehoods” is a completely arbitrary assertion made by Warren and her staff, with no objective standard of proof required.

Mercola was again singled out for condemnation.

“[Dr. Mercola] has posted over 600 articles on Facebook casting doubt on COVID-19 vaccines and been subject to multiple federal investigations (with one false- advertising investigation leading to a $2.95 million consumer settlement). But Amazon’s algorithms promoted ‘The Truth About COVID-19’ as a best seller and top result in response to common pandemic-related search terms,” Warren wrote.

As Cindy Harper highlights, Warren’s efforts to have Amazon ban books follows a similar effort by Rep. Adam Schiff, who claimed that 10 per cent of Amazon search results related to vaccines returned “misinformation” (a description again solely determined by Schiff and his staff).

At what point did we enter an era where the very thing that drove scientific progress for hundreds of years – challenging the official orthodoxy – is now treated as heresy?

Putting people on lists with terrorists and sex traffickers before deplatforming them from social media sites is not enough.

Erasing information published by actual doctors and scientific experts that dares to question the ever-shifting goalposts of what “the science” says is also insufficient.

Now the digital book burnings must begin.

*  *  *

Brand new merch now available! Get it at https://www.pjwshop.com/

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Tyler Durden Tue, 09/14/2021 - 14:51
Published:9/14/2021 1:54:51 PM
[Markets] Counterfeit Capitalism: Why A Monopolized Economy Leads To Inflation And Shortages Counterfeit Capitalism: Why A Monopolized Economy Leads To Inflation And Shortages

Authored by Matt Stoller via 'BIG by Matt Stoller' substack,

Hi,

Welcome to BIG, a newsletter about the politics of monopoly. If you’d like to sign up, you can do so here. Or just read on…

Today I’m starting a series on shortages and inflation in the economy. If you see a shortage either at work, at your business, or in your normal life, let me know so I can learn and write more about this topic, and tell interested policymakers about your experiences. I’ve set up a form where you can describe the situation. Alternatively, you can email me or just leave a comment.

And now…

How Uber Caused a Shortage

I’ve lived in Washington, D.C. for fifteen years, and one of the many unacknowledged changes has been the disappearance of taxis. While the city has good public transportation, you could jump into a taxi for a reasonably priced convenient ride around commercial areas. Around 2012, Uber and Lyft came into the market, and for the next seven years, it got even better, with cheaper Uber fares within minutes. At the time, everyone knew that Uber, and its tech economy cousins, were heavily subsidized by investors, with Uber losing up to $1 million a week. But the cheap rides were too good a deal to pass up.

It couldn’t last forever, and it didn’t. Slowly, cabs, under pressure from ride shares, disappeared. Taxis had been a reasonable business in D.C., and the drivers had middle class lifestyles, but there was a tipping point, and the industry collapsed. Similarly, driving for Uber, once a reasonable side job, became worse as the firm cut the amount paid to drivers. Now, cabs are mostly gone. And today, ride shares are often a ten to twenty minute wait, and more expensive. It’s not just a D.C. problem; nationally, Uber/Lyft prices up 92% over the last year and a half. And at least in Washington, cabs, though they could now go back to their previous pricing, have not returned. In other words, there is both inflation, and in some ways, a shortage of taxi services.

Professional class people not being able to cheaply zip around is not the biggest problem in the world, but the story I just told you about why that service shriveled isn’t an isolated incident. While once ride shares were plentiful, now they are not. A would-be monopolist both raised prices to consumers, cut wages to drivers, and reduced the amount of driving services available in general.

And this story brings us to the problem of shortages and inflation.

The Shortage Problem

Last February, before Covid hit in force, I predicted in Wired magazine that this pandemic would introduce us to the problem of shortages. And now, almost every week I get emails from readers complaining about not being able to buy things they need. Politicians I know are hearing about it on the campaign trail. If you talk to local economic development officials, they will note that both shortages of goods and labor are the top concern of most businesses at this point. Reddit has a subreddit dedicated to shortages. The most recent Federal Reserve Beige Book mentions “shortage” 80 times. Even CNN is covering the problem, noting that shipping boxes have doubled in price and the cost of moving goods from East Asian to the U.S. or Europe has gone up five-fold.

The problem is everywhere.

There are shortages in everything from ocean shipping containers to chlorine tablets to railroad capacity to black pipe (the piping that houses wires inside buildings) to spicy chicken breasts to specialized plastic bags necessary for making vaccines. Moreover, prices for all sorts of items, from housing to food, are changing in weird ways. Beef, for instance, is at near record highs for consumers, but cattle ranchers are getting paid much less than they used to for their cows.

The debate over shortages has become so important that it is now a key political problem for the Biden administration. And yet, policymakers have no institutional measurement system useful for tracking it. Economists in the policy realm are obsessed with inflation, aka pricing changes, but they don’t have a similar popular metric to focus on with regards to shortages. This institutional gap blinds them, in part, to what is happening, because if there’s no transaction because the good doesn’t exist or can’t get to the buyer, then there’s no price. Hundreds of drugs, for instance, have been in shortage for decades, but the substitute of an inferior medicine doesn’t reflect in the consumer price index.

Nevertheless, economists are taking notice that something is off in our economy, because supply chains are disrupting pricing, and causing inflation in many unusual segments, like used cars and hotels. At the Federal Reserve, there is a debate over whether this inflation is ‘transitory’ - a result of one-time shocks from the pandemic - or something else.

Among economists like Paul Krugman, the problem is temporary. Supply chains will eventually work themselves out. Inflation hawks by contrast see money printing from the Fed as inducing price hikes. Republican Jim Banks, for instance, chalked up inflation to “reckless spending bills Democrats have pushed for during the last year,” but it’s not just a partisan play; Obama advisor Larry Summers agrees with that formulation.

If you ask about supply chains, however, the answers get a lot more vague. In response to a question about shortages, Adam Posen, a former Bank of England official turned D.C. think tank expert, told the New York Times that normalcy might be “another year or two” away, though there is “genuine uncertainty here.”

What If There Is No “Normalcy”?

For forty years, everyone but logistics professionals have had the luxury of ignoring the details of how we make, ship, and distribute things. Stuff just kind of showed up in stores for consumers. Economists who talk about the broad economy, meanwhile, were obsessed with money; they thought about the Fed printing more or less of it, or taxing and spending. They too assumed stuff just kind of shows up in stores.

Yet, using this macro-framework is oddly divorced from what people are experiencing. Much of the handwaving - the assumption that things will return to the way they were and it’s just a matter of waiting, or that everything is driven by money printing or government spending - reflects the intellectual habits borne from not having to think about the flow of stuff.

There is a third explanation for inflation and shortages, and it’s not simply that the Fed has printed too much money or that Covid introduced a supply shock (though both are likely factors.) It’s a political and policy story. The consolidation of power over supply chains in the hands of Wall Street, and the thinning out of how we make and produce things over forty years in the name of efficiency, has made our economy much less resilient to shocks. These shortages are the result.

Uber’s attempt to monopolize the taxi market with cheap prices, and the resulting shortage years later after the market was ruined, is a very simple way to understand the situation, if you imagine that taking place across multiple industry segments beyond taxis. Monopolistic business models often appear to be efficient or good for consumers - for a time - but end up destroying productive capacity on the backend, which then creates or worsens a shortage. In that case, cab drivers, who used to be able to make a reasonable living, haven’t really come back.

Two years ago, I coined the term “Counterfeit Capitalism” to describe this phenomenon. I focused on the fraudulent firm WeWork, which was destroying the office share market with an attempted monopoly play turned into a straight Ponzi scheme, enabled by Softbank and JP Morgan. Like counterfeiting, such loss-leading not only harms the firm doing the loss-leading, but destroys legitimate firms in that industry, ultimately ruining the entire market.

In the gig economy, the consequences are becoming clear, as Kevin Roose of the New York Times noted a few months ago in a story titled “Farewell, Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy.” But beyond Uber and the gig economy, or firms like Amazon that pursue loss-leading strategies, such destructive business practices are also routine.

Take lumber, whose pricing increased dramatically earlier this year. As Sandeep Vaheesan pointed out, there’s a very clear predatory pricing monopoly story here. In the early 2000s, Ross-Simmons Hardwood sued lumber giant Weyerhaeuser Co. A key cost for lumber mills is the price of logs, and Ross-Simmons accused Weyerhaeuser of artificially paying more for logs to drive competitors out of business. This practice was similar to Uber incurring losses to subsidize the cost of rides to underprice taxis and capture the market, only in this case it was Weyerhaeuser incurring losses to keep the price of logs higher than they should be.

As Vaheesan put it, this behavior changed the market. “Why invest in sawmills,” he asked, “if dominant players will buy up necessary inputs as a means of crushing the margins of competitors?” Though a jury agreed that Weyerhaeuser was engaged in predatory conduct, in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Weyerhaeuser. And whaddya know, during the pandemic lumber prices spiked, even as tree growers didn’t see the benefit. More broadly, this ruling undermined small producers in capital heavy industries, who had less of a reason to invest in capacity.

This decision, like many others, was part of a forty year trend of facilitating monopolies. It wasn’t necessarily done in bad faith; policymakers followed the lead of economists, who believed dominant firms were dominant because they were efficient. This faith in efficiency over all else meant that the public structuring of markets to force resiliency - aka regulation - was illegitimate. So too were attempts to use public rules like tariffs to retain domestic production of key goods.

Alas, this philosophy has led to a series of bottlenecks in our supply chains, which are now global. After all, what else is a monopoly but a business model designed to secure or create a bottleneck? It is those bottlenecks that are worsening, or in some cases, creating the shortages we see all around us, on a worldwide scale.

Industrial Supply Crashes

I first noticed the problem of concentration and supply in 2011, when I wrote a piece on shortages of specialized video tapes, a result of the earthquake in Fukushima and the consolidation of productive capacity in that region. Before digitization, such video tapes were necessary, not to watch shows, but to film them. Because of the shortage, the NBA scrambled to get enough tape to broadcast the NBA finals, with one executive saying, “It’s like a bank run.” Why was this shortage so acute? The earthquake halfway around the world had knocked offline a Sony factory that made them. That was known an industrial supply chain crash, like a bank run, only with actual inputs and outputs of real world stuff.

This wasn’t the first such industrial supply chain crash in the era of globalization. There was one in 1999, when an earthquake in Taiwan hit semiconductor production, causing factories all over the U.S. to shut down and firms like Dell and Hewlett-Packard to stop selling computers. The key to these supply crashes was the consolidation of production in one area, often under the guise of trading off resiliency for efficiency. This was also the logic behind mass outsourcing of production.

Similar to the lead-up to the financial crisis, policymakers only saw in these trends the efficiency of large firms and beautiful global supply chains, not the pooling of hidden risk. The intermingling of banks and shadow banks into a complex and unknowable system caused a huge crash in 2008. Who knew AIG, Goldman Sachs, and fly-by-night California mortgage lenders connected to German land banks? Certainly regulators didn’t. The same is happening in slow motion with our supply chains. As one trucker noted, his Freightliner is in the shop due to a broken air line, and he was told that shop had seven other trucks sitting there with a similar issue, and so they can’t truck anything. That specialized part to repair his vehicle is no longer made domestically, but must be… trucked in from Mexico or Canada. See the problem?

The lack of resilient supply chains in the United States (and around the world) was masked, until a global shock came among. That Covid would cause such a shock was obvious; as I noted above, before the pandemic hit in force, I predicted it. And now, the pandemic is introducing shortages into our politics for the first time in living memory, largely because our highly thinned out supply chains are no longer resilient.

Forty years of consolidation suddenly met with a pandemic that required a social flexibility that our monopolistic commercial systems can no longer provide.

The Basics of Shortages: Bank Runs and Economic Shocks

So what is actually happening? I’m not sure, but below I’m going to lay out some of the dynamics I’m seeing.

First, there are two things at work that have nothing to do with monopolization.

The first is Covid, a massive shock to our economic system that changed consumption habits. We switched from restaurants to grocery store food, from movie theaters and concerts to home electronics and hunting gear, from vacations to home improvement, from public transportation to driving, etc, along with parallel shifts in various commercial sectors.

Under any circumstances, such changes would necessarily cause chaotic price movements. Hotels and airline prices collapsed, lumber prices skyrocketed, and gun owners are still experiencing the “Great Ammunition Shortage.” But some significant shifts were inevitable.

Then there is the dynamic of bank run-like panics, which induce shortages by drawing down inventories. One home builder wrote me about shortages in his industry, noting that a lack of supplies “are, predictably creating further shortages, reminiscent of the toilet paper shortages in 2020: once someone finds black pipe or whatever, they buy way more than needed since they might not find it again. I'm as guilty as anyone; I have 50 stoves sitting in a storage unit since I'll need them at some point. Meanwhile, a 54 unit project is in suspended animation while I wait for the Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners that won't be in until next year.”

Another example is the gas lines resulting from panic around the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline earlier this year. People topped up their tanks en masse, which caused shortages at gas stations even when there wasn’t an actual lack of adequate gasoline supplies.

Supply shocks, and some panic buying, was inevitable. In an economy with lots of flexibility and multiple buyers and suppliers at every level, these problems are manageable. But a monopolized economy makes the problem much worse.

The Different Types of Bottleneck Problems

Here are the five ways I’m seeing it play out.

1) Monopolies manipulate prices and lower supply. Unregulated firms with market power raise prices, cut wages, and reduce supply. That’s just what they do. A very simply example of this problem is in the beef, poultry, and pork industry, the three types of meat that are responsible for roughly half of the inflation in food. The White House came out with a very good blog post on the problem, noting that “just four firms control approximately 55-85% of the market for these three products.” The result is price spikes to consumers, lower amounts paid to farmers and ranchers, and record profits for the packers. Half of our food inflation, in other words, is a meatpacking monopoly story.

It’s not just meatpacking. The list of supply reductions seems endless. For instance, there is a shortage of various forms of generic pharmaceuticals. One would think we’d be investing in more production. Yet, as a result of a merger between Mylan and Viatris approved by the Trump administration, Viatris just shut down a giant pharmaceutical plant in West Virginia, costing 1500 jobs, but also reducing the capacity of the U.S. to make its own medicine. Similarly, in 2017, Linde and Praxair, two industrial gas giants, merged. Whaddya know, now there’s an oxygen supply shortage.

2) The Keurig Interoperability Problem: Then there are the artificial bottlenecks produced on purpose to exploit market power. For instance, why don’t we have enough specialized plastic bags to use in making vaccines? Over the past fifteen years, the producers of biopharmaceutical equipment consolidated the entire industry, such that there are really four producers each of whom sells, in business school speak, an “integrated set of products” to pharmaceutical firms who want to make stuff.

However, as I noted back in May, an ‘integrated suite of products” is really a euphemism for locking in your customers through product design, a classic sign of monopoly. If you use one kind of bioreactor bag, you can’t easily switch out to another, because the industry refuses to standardize. As this International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations noted, “the high degree of specificity and the lack of standardisation of these items represent a hurdle to short-term supplier switches and thus flexibility.” 

Basically, it’s as if these firms all make their own type of Keurig coffee machine, and don’t let the coffee pods work with each other’s machines to lock in their customers. There is no shortage of coffee, but the focus on market power has created an artificial bottleneck via product design. (To amplify the market power problem, these firms created intellectual property thickets, with thousands of patents on the plastic bags alone.)

Such interoperability issues are pervasive; railroad monopolies, for instance, don’t allow switching of freight loads to rival networks, which hinders shipping. Many of these shortages in the economy, in other words, are intentional.

3) Right to Repair, or the McDonald’s Ice Cream Problem: Another artificial bottleneck created to facilitate certain corrupt business models is to prevent firms from repairing their own equipment.

For instance, why is McDonald’s often out of ice cream? Their ice cream machines are always broken, leading to unhappy customers and frustrated franchise owners. There’s no shortage of vanilla, cream, sugar, or other inputs, but McDonald’s, and the food equipment conglomerate Middleby, do not allow franchise owners to repair their own equipment, because allowing that would jeopardize the fat maintenance equipment fees they get from servicing overly complex machines. And so there’s a shortage of ice cream.

If McDonald’s couldn’t force franchises to buy specific equipment, or if Middleby didn’t roll up the food services equipment space, or if it was illegal to block people from repairing their own equipment under reasonable terms, then there would be no shortage.

This problem, like the Keurig interoperability problem, is pervasive. John Deere tractors, weapon systems, wheelchairs, ventilators and many types of electronics have provisions preventing the ability of owners to repair their equipment. And market power creates an incentive for monopolists to produce over-engineered crap that breaks down, or to make it impossible to replace a part with a similar though not identical part from a rival firm.

When you need a flexible supply chain in a crisis, the ability to repair something comes in very handy. And the inability to repair stuff means shortages.

4) Infrastructure Monopolies: One of the most problematic monopolies is that of Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC), which is the main fabricator of high-end chips used in everything from phones to computers to cars, whose customers include every major tech firm. Semiconductors, like oil, are infrastructure at this point, going into a large swath of products. Infrastructure monopolies are bottlenecks whose effects cascade down supply chains. I mean, PPG, which is a paint conglomerate, is pointing to chip shortages as a cause of its supply disruptions.

As Alex Williams and Hassan Khan note, sustained national investment by Taiwan, combined with disinvestment by the U.S. government, led to the consolidation of manufacturing capacity in TWSC. Additionally, TWSC engaged in dumping of products on the U.S. market in the 1990s, which is a form of predatory pricing. Intel, rather than focusing on competing, organized itself around monopolization, and thus loss the technological lead over semiconductor production in the early 2010s.

The net result is that we are now highly dependent for a key form of infrastructure on a monopoly that cannot expand as quickly as necessary, and that is halfway around the world in a drought-riven geopolitically sensitive area. Disruptions or supply shocks thus mean begging Taiwan for one’s ration of semiconductors.

But there are many other infrastructure monopolies we’ve facilitated over the last forty years. There are, for instance, railroads, an industry where there used to be 30+ competitors, and which now has seven monopolistic rail lines that are constantly reducing service and destroying freight cars. Railroads, like many network systems, require not only competition, but regulation, or else the incentive to disinvest by owners is too strong. For instance, in 2019, the Union Pacific shut down a Chicago area sorting facility to increase profit margins for its Wall Street owners. As a result, in July of this year, the rail line had so much backed up traffic in Chicago that it suspended traffic from West Coast ports. Such a suspension of service backed up port unloading, causing a cascading chain reaction, delays piled upon delays.

Regulators are noticing. A few days ago, the head of the Surface Transportation Board Martin Oberman, told his industry that US railroads are focusing too much on pleasing Wall Street at the expense of shippers and the general public. To reach Wall Street profit goals, he said, “railroads have cut their workforce by 25 percent…Operating the railroads with that many fewer employees makes it difficult to avoid cuts in service, provide more reliable service, and reduce poor on-time performance.” So we know the problem. Infrastructure monopolies, when unregulated, intentionally create shortages.

We saw something similar with ocean shipping lines that have consolidated into three global alliances that build larger and larger boats. When a big dumb boat crashed in the Suez canal, a significant amount of global shipping came to a halt, which again, caused a cascading chain reaction that is still being felt, months later. And trucking is also being disrupted by the private equity roll-up of third party logistics firms which, like Uber, pushes down wages and likely removes supply from the market.

5) Power Buyers and Economic Discrimination: Then there’s price discrimination to remove small players from the market. One BIG reader, an administrative assistant at a small college, noted she’s seeing “shortages in previously plentiful food items.” There are a host of foods they can’t get anymore. “We order from Sysco mainly, and we sometimes can't get basic things like spicy chicken breasts for sandwiches. We get the same spicy chicken that Wendy's serves, so we presume Wendy's is taking priority on this.” Sysco has tremendous market power in food distribution, it is what is known as a power buyer, using a system of rebates to coerce suppliers and buyers into using its services.

Power buying is why large firms like Walmart are out-competing small ones. Walmart, for instance, tells its suppliers they must deliver on time 98% of the time, or it will fine them 3% of the cost of goods. “Known in the industry as "power buyers," large retailers have had an advantage for years when buying goods because they order larger quantities than smaller wholesalers do,” wrote CNN’s Nathan Meyersohn on this problem. “Large retailers' scale and buying clout make them a top priority for manufacturers, he said, and they often get promotions, special packaging or new products early.”

Price discrimination means smaller firms, both producers, distributors, and retailers, can’t get access to what they need to do business, and small firms are often more flexible than big ones, and serve customers in rural or niche areas. In West Virginia, for instance, where small pharmacists were the key vaccine operators, the roll-out of the vaccine to nursing homes was initially far quicker than in states that used CVS and Walgreens. The collapse of niche specialties, or the disappearance of small dealers who can fix products or service customers, is one result.

There are many other ways power buyers operate, and I’m going to devote a BIG issue to breakdowns in the pharmaceutical supply chain as a result of what are known as Group Purchasing Organizations. But that’s the gist of the problem.

*  *  *

A lot of people look at the economy over the last year and a half, and see the shortages that we’re having as a result of the pandemic and the resulting supply shock. But while Covid provided the spark, it also leveraged pre-existing fragilities existing all over the economy, including some shortages that were longstanding before the disease emerged. What all of these examples I offered have in common is the basic idea that when a monopolist concentrates power, that monopolist also concentrates risk.

The story of my book Goliath is the story of how policymakers and Americans came to see monopolies as efficient, or useful, or perhaps simply inevitable. We relaxed antitrust policy, facilitated the rise of concentrated power, and enabled looting by financiers. And this created a political crisis which is simple to explain. American commerce, law, finance, and politics is organized around producing bottlenecks, not relieving them. And that means when there’s a supply shock, we increasingly can’t take care of ourselves.

The scariest part of this whole saga is not that a bunch of malevolent monopolists run our economy, inducing shortages for profit. Indeed, these shortages are not intentional, any more than the financial crash of 2008 was intentional. Most of what is happening is unintended. Bad actors aren’t steering the ship. They are just making sure that no one else can, even when it’s headed for the rocks.

*  *  *

Once again, if you’ve seen a shortage in your neck of the woods, let me know about it. Thanks for reading. Send me tips on weird monopolies, stories I’ve missed, or comments by clicking on the title of this newsletter. And if you liked this issue of BIG, you can sign up here for more issues of BIG, a newsletter on how to restore fair commerce, innovation and democracy. If you really liked it, read my book, Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/13/2021 - 19:00
Published:9/13/2021 6:24:01 PM
[Markets] The Banality Of (Financial) Evil The Banality Of (Financial) Evil

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The financialized American economy and State are now totally dependent on a steady flow of lies and propaganda for their very survival. Were the truth told, the status quo would collapse in a putrid heap.

Go ahead and be evil, because everyone else is evil, too, because being evil serves everyone's interests far better than maintaining integrity, for integrity will cost you more than you can afford.

In other words, lying, fraud, embezzlement, misrepresentation of risk, material misrepresentation of facts, half-truths, the replacement of statements of fact with propaganda and spin: these are not the work of a scattered handful of sociopaths: they represent the very essence and heart of America's economic status quo.

Hannah Arendt coined the phrase the banality of evil to capture the essence of the Nazi regime in Germany: doing evil wasn't abnormal, it was normal. Doing evil wasn't an outlier of sociopaths, it was the everyday "job" of millions of people, and not just Nazi Party members.

Not naming evil is the key to normalizing evil. Evil must first and foremost be derealized (a key concept in the Survival+ critique), detached from our realization and awareness by naming it something innocuous.

Here is a telling excerpt from the book Triumph of the Market:

Normalization of the unthinkable comes easily when money, status, power, and jobs are at stake.... Intellectuals will be dredged up to justify their (actions). The rationalizations are hoary with age: government knows best, ours is a strictly defensive effort, or, if it wasn't me somebody else would do it. There is also the retreat to ignorance, real, cultivated, or feigned.

Can any of the tens of thousands of people working on Wall Street or in the bowels of the Federal Reserve, Treasury, Pentagon, etc. truthfully claim they "didn't know it was wrong" to mislead the citizenry, the soldiers, the investors and the buyers of their fraud? On the contrary, every one of those tens of thousands of worker bees and managers knows full well the institution they toil for is doing evil simply by hiding the truth of its operations.

The entire status quo of the American Empire is built on lies. Now the dependence on lies, fraud and misrepresentation is complete; Wall Street and the Empire itself would fall if the truth were finally revealed and properly identified as evil.

Lying has been derealized; it is now the expected norm. To tell the truth--on your resume, on your loan application, on your tax form, and about your own actions-- is now tainted and suspicious; the truth-teller is reviled as "putting on airs" of moral superiority, and they will be shunned and cut off by the liars around them.

Cheating on tests no longer carries any stain of ethical corruption; "everyone" cheats lest they fail to get into the university of their choice, the one that represents "the short cut" to a "good job" with excellent pay: yes, a job doing evil every day. But we no longer care about doing evil; we avoid it as a moral slaughterhouse we prefer not to see. Let the butchering of the moral heart of the nation be hidden from our delicate eyes and quivering guilty consciences.

The idea that we might not be able to buy the McMansion/auto/tattoo/toy we "deserve" enabled our killing of truth. Deprivation is a greater evil than the loss of personal integrity, and so hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans went along with the lie and sacrificed their integrity to support it, feed it, breathe life into it and then pass it on to the next liar.

So the mortgage applicant lied, and the mortgage broker lied by accepting a document he/she knew was false. And so the lie grew heavier as it passed from hand to hand, and the truth became lighter than air and floated away long before the falsified mortgage was originated, packaged, tranched and sold as a AAA "safe" investment.

We now say and vouch for whatever is necessary to "win," whatever "winning" is in a universe with no moral compass. When the entire system depends on the steady relentless flow of lies--from the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, the Pentagon, the banks and Wall Street, the ratings agencies, the accounting departments, every nook and cranny of the American economy and empire--then no one is willing to sacrifice their own livelihood because they know it wouldn't stop anything.

The machine would continue on, processing lies, fraud and propaganda, without them. But they would be outside the lucrative heart of darkness, and no longer able to buy their coveted McMansion/auto/tattoo/toy that defined who they are.

Integrity has become as light as the truth itself, and both have floated away, unnoticed and unmourned. Hannah Arendt wrote about the Great Evil, Nazi Germany, and "The Final Solution" of death camps. But the Nazi machine spewed plentiful opportunities to practice the banality of evil, and the death camps were simply one division of the daily grind of pressing one's palms on evil and passing it on to the next "good German."

Here is a memorial outside the village where my brother lives in France. It is a typical village, quite small, perhaps a few hundred residents. The memorial commemorates three young French civilians who were taken out and shot by Nazi soldiers, either for suspected "crimes" or as a "lesson" to the civilian populace.

The routine killing of civilians went on day after day; it was the "day job" of the occupying troops.

Americans toiling away in their various departments of evil excuse their complicity by telling themselves, "nobody died because I lied" (except in all the places around the world where nobody knows what's really going on in America's name). Hiding the truth carries no penalties or remorse because it is SOP now, standard operating procedure.

The moral slaughterhouse is filled with corpses. We don't really know what our Imperial Project is doing in the world. We also don't know what the Federal Reserve/Wall Street partnership is doing, either. Those inside know, of course, but very few are telling, because the system depends on lies and distortion to continue its domination.

The truth-teller will lose their prestigious position, their generous salary and the acceptance of their peers. Consider the fate of Edward Snowden. In exchange for this sacrifice, the truth-teller receives only the glowing, ephemeral shards of his/her integrity: in the American culture and economy, integrity has no value. The machine will grind on without them, impervious to the tiny pricks of truth; the machinery of propaganda, artifice, misdirection and misrepresentation is well-oiled and masterful in the reach and scope of its operation.

There is no vengeance more remorseless than that of a State dependent on the banal evil of half-truths in pursuit of those who reveal the State's actions.

Lest you think this an exaggeration, please watch The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Ellsberg was only one of thousands of "good Americans" doing their job in a war machine built entirely on lies and propaganda. Only one citizen out of those thousands, or tens of thousands, was willing to trade his career for his integrity and conscience.

That's how the banality of evil works. Maybe someday someone will break free of the culture of lies and propaganda in the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, Wall Street and the "too big to fail banks" and tell the truth. They will be hounded, discredited, scorned and reviled for telling the truth, and the truth will quickly be covered up or shredded.

That's how the banality of evil works. Truth has become too dangerous to the status quo, so it must be strangled every day, by tens of thousands of people, and its limp corpse hidden away.

Those toiling away in the Empire of Lies assume karma requires their belief: I don't believe in karma so it doesn't exist. But karma doesn't require belief; it works completely independently of humanity's belief or non-belief.

The consequences have accumulated and the dam is about to burst. Believing in the triumph of financial evil won't save us, and averting our gaze won't stop the flood.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Mon, 09/13/2021 - 06:30
Published:9/13/2021 5:44:48 AM
[Markets] It's Time To Acknowledge Anti-White Racism It's Time To Acknowledge Anti-White Racism

Authored by Lynn Uzzell via RealClearPolitics.com,m

Recently, Michael Tesler commented on “The Rise of White Identity Politics.” Tesler’s analysis draws on years of research into racialized politics, and he shows convincingly that there is a rise in white identity politics and that this rise is tied to “perceptions of anti-white discrimination.” However, when trying to explain why perceptions of anti-white bias might also be on the rise, his analysis falls flat. Supposedly, it has something to do with Republicans and Donald Trump.

Never once does the author speculate whether “perceptions” of such discrimination might be on the rise because anti-white racism is becoming increasingly common. In other words, perhaps white Americans are accurately perceiving a real phenomenon that is now pervasive in schools and the workplace.

Anti-White Racism, by Definition

As any student of George Orwell knows, no authoritarian government can ever gain complete control unless it commandeers people’s thinking through the manipulation of language. Thus, the dystopian powers in “1984” deliberately turned the meaning of words upside-down in a process known as double-think.

The same process is happening today with the words used to discuss racism. In true Orwellian fashion, Ibram X. Kendi (pictured) insists that the only way to fight racism is to embrace racial discrimination in perpetuity. This “anti-racism,” as he calls it, is as likely to stamp out genuine racism as Orwell’s Ministry of Truth was apt to stamp out falsehoods.

In order to understand what is going on, we must call to mind the traditional definition of racism: the stereotyping, denigrating, marginalizing, or excluding of persons on the basis of race. Look up any definition of racism prior to the racial awokening taking place in the last decade, and it will be: 1) race neutral; and 2) involve some act of free will—relating to word, deed, or belief.

The definition of racism has undergone a radical change in a short time. According to the new eighth-grade curriculum for the Albemarle County (Va.) School District, racism now means: “The marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.”

Perhaps the most jarring aspect of this new definition is that it is no longer race-neutral. It is now impossible, by definition, for white people to be the victims of racism. The definition itself constructs a “racial hierarchy” whereby only people of color may be victimized, and only “white people” may marginalize or oppress.

But there is something even more insidious about the new definition. Since the “marginalization and/or oppression of people of color” is no longer committed by word, thought, or deed — but is based instead on an inescapable “socially constructed racial hierarchy” that always “privileges white people” — it means that white people are engaging in racism simply by being white (and hence privileged) within this impersonal system of marginalization and oppression.

A person of color is a victim of racism, by definition. A person identified as white is a racist, by definition. Therefore, not only does the new definition fail to capture the full meaning of racism; the definition is itself an example of the anti-white racism being taught to our children.

Teaching Anti-White Racism as American History

Anti-white racism is also seeping into history lessons, most notably through the curriculum adapted from the New York Times’ 1619 Project.When the 1619 Project was first published, it attracted immediate criticism. Five eminent historians criticized it for its bias and factual errors. Others criticized it for emphasizing only what was blameworthy about America’s history and omitting what was praiseworthy.

While these concerns are certainly valid, there is another serious problem that has received scant attention: The account is a surprisingly racist version of U.S. history.

The lead article for the 1619 Project is by Nikole Hannah-Jones, who has been writing anti-white screeds at least since she was a college sophomore. In a letter to her college paper, she alleged: “The white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world.” Not only were the white people in America’s past “barbaric devils,” but the “descendants of these savage people” continue to harm “the Black community” to this day. Non-white peoples, by contrast, were uniformly portrayed as both virtuous and victimized.

Of course, nobody should be held accountable for the hyperboles or inanities one might espouse as an undergraduate; few of us could bear the brunt of such an examination. The sophomoric scribblings of young Nicole Hannah would be irrelevant except that the pattern in her writing has not changed. What we find in her Pulitzer Prize-winning contribution to the 1619 Project is more moderate in tone and more sophisticated in composition, but otherwise it is the same racialized dualism she espoused in college.

In Hannah-Jones’ article, an important part of the lesson plan adapted for schools, the word “white” is used to describe people or communities 77 times. In 35 cases, “white” people are described as holding some kind of power or privilege (almost always unearned or illegitimate). In 32 cases, the word is associated with oppression, injustice, and cruelty (“white enslavers,” “widespread white violence,” “systemic white suppression of black life,” etc.).

In this telling of history, “white Americans” during the darkest days of Jim Crow held the same racist ideology as Jefferson and his “fellow white colonists.” With 32 instances of specifically “white” barbarity, it is impossible to ignore the gratuitous overuse of this racial category when describing everything that is diabolical in this country’s history. Nowhere do we read about a “white” American acting for the good, except a single instance in which certain “white Republicans” joined forces with the black community after the Civil War.

We find the polar opposite when examining the 136 references to “black” people in this article. The word is used 72 times to describe victimization by violence or injustice (always at the hands of “whites”) and 49 times in laudable terms. There is not a single instance in which “black” is used to describe a person or deed deserving of criticism.

While only a textual analysis can provide the big picture, individual passages drive home the racist message more explicitly. “For the most part,” according to this history, “black Americans fought [to secure rights] alone. Yet we never fought only for ourselves.” The article teaches schoolchildren that “black Americans, more than any other group, embrace the democratic ideals of a common good.” Children also learn: “Our founding fathers may not have actually believed in the ideals they espoused, but black people did.”

Hannah-Jones’ composition is American history in black and white. It teaches that “blackness” is everything that ennobles this country and “whiteness” is everything that debases it. There was a time in the Jim Crow South, to their everlasting shame, when schools taught children lessons in white supremacy masked as American history. The 1619 Project has introduced a new form of black supremacy to American history, and it has been adopted by over 4,500 schools.

Anti-White Racism in the Workplace

Anyone who has been paying attention to corporate culture in America cannot but have noticed the increasing pressures to “diversify” the hiring and promotion process, often by explicitly demanding that white (especially white male) employees be held back.

The Economist has reported on the “dizzying number of equity-related” hiring commitments promised by American businesses. Facebook alone “has promised to hire 30% more black people in leadership positions.” Since other businesses across America have made similar commitments, we can expect the competition to hire and promote black professionals will drive their value to stratospheric heights, while the perceived value of white professionals will plummet.

A recent training program at Bank of America made the consequences of such commitments unmistakably clear. It instructed “white employees in particular” to “cede power to people of color.” There was no word that any member of Bank of America’s board of directors had offered to step down to make room for a replacement of color. Demands for self-denial are always made by persons who already hold seats of power and privilege (and who have no intention of giving them up). It is ever the less privileged employees who are expected to submit to degradation based on their race or sex.

Thus far, the discontent arising among marginalized employees is only being discussed in whispers. Anne Applebaum recently interviewed a couple of men who believe they were punished at work “because a white, male boss felt he had to publicly sacrifice another white man in order to protect his own position.” Yet Americans are reluctant to speak out about anti-white racism, lest they be accused of being anti-black.

Racism of any kind is never a single, defining act. It is death by a thousand cuts, and these cuts to white employees have become ubiquitous.

I know of a book project that had been under contract for two years before being scuttled. The press rejected the volume of collected essays, in part, because the 14 contributing authors were not sufficiently “diverse.” The acquisition editor at the press defended the judgment of one of its anonymous reviewers: “Books coming out right now simply have to address the systemic whiteness and maleness that pervades the academy, and particularly political science.”

This demand came despite a shortage of “scholars of color” who write on the particular subject the book addresses. Nevertheless, it was deemed essential that the volume’s contributors find some way to dilute their “whiteness” (in the subjective gaze of one anonymous reviewer) before the press would consent to publish on this topic.

The Dangers of Anti-White Racism, and the Solution

Skeptics inclined to dismiss the seriousness of anti-white racism will likely counter that the examples I’ve described are milquetoast; they’re not nearly as horrific as the anti-black racism of the Jim Crow South. Of course they’re not. Anti-white racism is not that bad now, nor is it reasonable to expect it will get that bad in the foreseeable future.

Nevertheless, racism of any kind is an evil in itself; anti-white racism is today a greater problem, at least in the white-collar world, than anti-black racism; and its continued prevalence and severity is likely to spawn a backlash that will further enflame racial enmity.

For anyone who may be skeptical that anti-white racism is now worse than anti-black racism, consider this: Overt acts of anti-black discrimination today are socially, politically, and professionally unimaginable. Anti-white discrimination, on the other hand, has become almost an institutional requirement. Schools and businesses seem fearful lest they are accused of not doing enough to stereotype, denigrate, marginalize, and suppress “whiteness.”

In addition to the ubiquity of the evil itself, this racism is bound to provoke a backlash. The more that citizens identifying as “white” perceive themselves as under attack, the more likely they will be to coalesce politically as a form of defense. Hence, it is predictable that we would find, as Tesler has reported, undercurrents of white identity politics at the polls and, at the fringes, a rise in white supremacy and white nationalism.

Yet, if Tesler and others are serious about combating this scourge of white identity politics, it will require a better understanding of its causes than they seem willing to explore. As long as anti-white racism is so flagrant, it is useless to hope that Americans won’t notice or won’t respond to it. Only by first acknowledging the rise in anti-white racism can we start thinking creatively about combating both the evil itself and the evils it spawns.

Any permanent solution to America’s enduring problems with racism will ultimately have to come from the victims rather than the perpetrators. We have minimal influence over the minds and hearts of the bigots. However, as I’ve written before, if the targets of racism would identify as non-racial, they cease cooperating with the bigotry of racial sorting.

It is not only anti-white racism that can be defeated by this strategy. Racial renunciation is emerging as a rallying cry from public intellectuals with diverse skin tones. Whether it’s known as “race abolitionism” or “unlearning race,” Kmele FosterThomas Chatterton WilliamsKenny Xu and Christian WatsonErec SmithPaul Rossi, and Angel Eduardo have all been powerful spokesmen for real change. In what is perhaps the best descriptor of this goal, Jason D. Hill has argued that black Americans, in particular, “are ideal candidates for racial self-emancipation.” There is a budding recognition that people of all complexions would benefit from renouncing the divisive racial categories imposed on us by others.

If Americans can ever learn to internalize these three words, “I am non-racial,” it would free them from feelings of personal outrage when confronted by the racism of others. If they begin insisting that their bosses and teachers recognize their non-racial designation, they free themselves from the most overt forms of their discrimination. Eventually, there will come a day when racism will lose its grip on the minds and hearts of Americans.

*  *  *

Lynn Uzzell is Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University. She specializes in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the political thought of James Madison.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/12/2021 - 20:30
Published:9/12/2021 7:40:13 PM
[] First-World Problems... We have all experienced this. A much-loved book that falls apart because they just don't make 'em like they used to! I have a bunch of books on their last legs because that constant flexing of the spine, and... Published:9/12/2021 1:12:17 PM
[Markets] End Of The US Empire: Orwell's 1984 'Newspeak' & Dirt Cheap Gold End Of The US Empire: Orwell's 1984 'Newspeak' & Dirt Cheap Gold

Authored by Egon von Greyerz via GoldSwitzerland.com,

The final phase of Empires normally ends with the same signals whether it was 2000 years ago in Rome or  today in the US.

One of the first signs is losing wars together with excessive debts, deficits, devaluations and decadence  The US being defeated and hurriedly fleeing from Afghanistan in a few days clearly signifies the end of the US empire.

The mighty US military has in the last few decades conducted disastrous wars against very small countries with no big armies or weaponry. Vietnam, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan come to mind but there are many more as we show below.

Brown’s University has just made a study of the US cost of wars since 9/11. They arrive at a staggering $8 trillion and the loss of 900,000 lives .

So in the last 20 years, the US has spent $8 trillion or 40% of annual GDP on conducting totally unsuccessful wars. The report also states that even after the exodus from Afghanistan the US is still involved in wars in over 80 countries.

US CURRENT WAR ACTIVITY

The cost of being involved in some kind of war activity in 85 countries will continue to cost the dying US empire dearly for decades to come.

1984 IS HERE AGAIN

Are the 2020s going to be a return to Orwell’s 1984 with Big Brother watching us everywhere?

Well, it certainly looks like many governments and the elite is leading us in that direction.

Covid has been a superb excuse for controlling the people in a number of countries. Free speech has been banned in the media and unacceptable censorship is now the rule on social media whether it relates to vaccines, climate or race.

Dont you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.

George Orwell, 1984

But it gets worse as we are seeing severe clampdowns on free movement. There are  lockdowns, quarantines, restrictions or bans on travel both domestically and internationally, ban on shopping, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, stadiums with offices and schools closed. And then we are not allowed to see friends, parents, or even go to work. The list of restrictions is endless and they seem to be deliberately and regularly turned on and off in order to control confuse the people.

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

George Orwell, 1984

There have been great variations of these restrictions. Countries like Australia and New Zealand have locked people in. Then we have, for example, Sweden on the other hand which has had virtually no restrictions, and no closure of schools, shops or offices. No masks have ever been mandated.

I have spent part of the summer in Sweden and it has been refreshing to see people conduct their lives normally. You hardly ever see anyone wearing a mask anywhere. The Swedish government doesn’t get involved and instead it is the health officials who decide. The Chief Epidemiologist Tegnell in Sweden has conducted a non-intervention policy, telling the people to take their own precautions. He doesn’t consider that masks fulfil any purpose either but rather that they have a negative effect. Quite a contrast to Australia. When it comes to infections and deaths, Sweden has fared better than many countries.

As regards treatment of Covid, conventional medicine has had very limited success. But sadly, alternative treatments are totally suppressed. This despite major parts of India and Central Africa having used Ivermectin with almost 100% success and virtually eliminated Covid. Some hospital doctors in the US have also used Ivermectin with great results.

The map below shows in blue the area of Africa where Ivermectin has been successfully used. The blue line at the bottom shows deaths per 100,000 in that region. A massive difference to the deaths (yellow line) in the yellow areas.

Ivermectin was invented 50 years ago against parasite infestations. Over 4.5 billion doses have been given and the creator received the Nobel prize. Still the WHO, Big Pharma and  Western governments refuse to even test Ivermectin against Covid. It is too cheap to produce and compete with the vaccines.

HISTORY REWRITTEN

In the US and the UK history is now being rewritten especially at university campuses. Statues, paintings and books related to slavery are being taken down even if the historical  person was a major benefactor to the university in question.

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.

George Orwell, 1984

The problem with rewriting history is where do you stop? Throughout history there have been wars and invasions which were all unjust. But we can’t reverse history. Just take America as an example. Both North and South America have been invaded and taken over by European countries in the last few hundred years, whether they were English, French, Spanish or Portuguese.

In North America a major part of the original population was killed and the rest moved to reservations. If we rewrite history the Europeans must obviously pull out and give the land back to the Indians.

Hardly practical!

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink

George Orwell, 1984

RICH LAND POOR LAND AND DESTITUTE LAND

Rich Land – Poor Land – Destitute Land is the natural cycle of most countries and empires.

As a country goes from rich to poor, it finds it hard to accept that it is in a permanent decline.

For some countries like Venezuela that can’t borrow money externally, the process from abundance to destitution was very quick and for others like the Roman Empire it took centuries.

For more powerful countries, running out of money is no problem. Since deficits are only  believed to be temporary, they can easily be financed by debt. And this is exactly what happened to the US empire in the early 1960s. There was gradually less money in the till than the country spent, so it started borrowing.

For 60 years the US has increased the Federal debt every year with the exception of 4 years. So the US is now living on not just borrowed money but also borrowed time.

Excessive debt has throughout history killed empires and the already-dying US empire will be no exception.

It took 200 years for the US to reach just under $1 trillion. Reagan managed to treble that debt in just 8 years. Obama inherited a $10t debt from Bush and doubled it to $20t in 8 years.

With debt on average doubling every 8 years since Reagan became president, my target,  set 5 years ago, was that in 2025 the US debt would be $40t. But with Biden’s profligacy I would now expect that to be at least $50t !!!!!  Just think about it, in 2025 US debt will be 50x higher than when Reagan took over and 100x higher since the gold window was closed in Aug 1971.

So we are now in the exponential phase of the debt explosion. Exponential moves are almost without exception terminal as I explained in this article from 2017:

There is a more scientific illustration how these exponential moves occur and also how they end.

Imagine a football stadium which is filled with water. Every minute one drop is added. The number of drops doubles every minute. Thus it goes from 1 to 2, 4, 8 16 etc. So how long would it take to fill the entire stadium? One day, one month or a year? No it would be a lot quicker and only take 50 minutes! That in itself is hard to understand but even more interestingly, how full is the stadium after 45 minutes? Most people would guess 75-90%. Totally wrong. After 45 minutes the stadium is only 7% full! In the final 5 minutes the stadium goes from 7% full to 100% full.

It is of course impossible to predict where we are in this debt explosion. If we are in the final 5 minutes then debt can still increase almost 15x. And if we get hyperinflation which is very likely, the increase could be substantially higher.

As debt will have grown 50x since 1981 by 2025, tax revenues will probably stay at a measly $3.5t as the economy slows down or even collapses. The consequences are obvious. When the interest rates rise, which is guaranteed as the Fed loses control, the US empire can’t even afford to pay the interest and will default.

This is how all empires end, they lose not only wars but also total control of money.

What a bloo-y mess!

The only problem is that once fortunes have turned, there is a very, very long way back to prosperity. This is what history and the laws of nature teach us although most political leaders are too arrogant to learn from history.

THE RICH GETTING RICHER

As empires reach the end game, money printing and debt accelerates as I show above. This leads to a total debasement of the currency. For example the Roman silver coin, the Denarius, lost almost 100% of its silver content between 180 and 280 AD.

The US dollar of the dying US empire has not fared much better and has lost 98% in real terms since 1971. As the currency collapses more and more fake money must be produced to keep the illusion going. By definition, money which is created without any service or goods offered in return is always fake and has zero real value.

During times of rapid credit expansion with fake money, the ones standing nearest the printing press always benefit greatly since they have access to the money before it totally loses its value. This happened for example during the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe or in Venezuela and it is now happening in the US.

The chart below clearly demonstrates how the wealthy Americans are getting the money first and rapidly increasing their wealth in relation to GDP. In 1982 the 400 wealthiest Americans had a wealth equal to 2% of GDP and today their share has risen 9-fold to 18% of GDP. Wealth inequality is rampant, becoming a neo-feudalism.

CONSEQUENCES –  PRECIOUS METALS & STOCKS

As debts, deficits and currency debasement accelerate, the consequences are crystal clear and inevitable.

The epic bubble in stocks is coming to an end and could implode at any time. Whether it expands further due to the massive expansion in money supply is irrelevant. Neither a company nor a country can show real growth based on fake money. When the bubble bursts, the world will learn that it consisted mainly of air that will just evaporate.

As the markets implode, so will all the debt and the bubble assets such as stocks, bonds and property. These asset values were all illusory, based on hope and fake money. Once the markets start breaking down, we will see the same process as the stadium above filling up with water. But this time it will be in reverse and values will decline by unthinkable percentages in the “first 5 minutes”. Remember that in the last 5 minutes, the stadium went from 7% full to 100% full.

For our investors and ourselves, we have owned physical gold and some physical silver in Switzerland (obviously outside the financial system) since 2002 when gold was $300 and silver $4.

We were convinced then that the risks we saw necessitated a high percentage of one’s financial assets in gold for wealth preservation purposes. What has happened since  completely confirms our position.

But the world has still not understood how undervalued gold is in relation to the massive expansion of money supply. Therefore I will continue to show the graph below which tells us that gold is as cheap to buy today as it was in 1971 when gold was $35 or in 2000 when gold
 was $288. In the face of the dying US empire, there is no better asset to own.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/12/2021 - 09:20
Published:9/12/2021 8:45:39 AM
[Markets] McMaken: 9/11 Was A Day Of Unforgivable Government Failure McMaken: 9/11 Was A Day Of Unforgivable Government Failure

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

Perhaps more than anything else, the rationale given for the necessity of the state - and the necessity of supporting the regime at any given time - is that it "keeps us safe." This permeates thinking about government institutions at all levels, from “thin blue line” sloganeering at the local level, all the way up to jingoism surrounding the  Pentagon.

Presumably, the hundreds of billions of dollars extracted from taxpayers, year after year after year, is all both necessary and laudable because without it, chaos would reign on our streets, and foreign invaders would slaughter Americans.

Yet, this rationale for state power also presumes that the nation’s alleged defenders are actually competent at their jobs.

Whether or not this is case certainly remains debatable as the recent military disasters in Afghanistan have made clear. The Pentagon brass pushed for continued war in Afghanistan for 20 years, and ultimately, lost the entire country to the Taliban, the very people Pentagon generals assured us they would eliminate “soon.”

Moreover, the so-called “intelligence community” in the United States has repeatedly failed in its mission at crucial times. This can be seen in the fact the CIA was asleep at the switch in the lead ups to both the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 —both of which constituted an immense blow to American “safety” by the American regime’s metrics.

Needless to say, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were made possible by an immense military and intelligence failure on the part of the United States government. Not only did the US government provide the motivation for the attacks—through endless meddling in Middles Eastern regimes—but the US regime failed to protect its own citizens when the blowback arrived. 

Yet, as is so common following displays of incompetence by government bureaucrats, virtually no government agents was held accountable for this failure. The head of the CIA on 9/11, George Tenet, continued at his post for years afterward. There certainly was no “house cleaning” at the FBI either. 

Yet federal agencies allegedly formed to “keep us safe” were more or less AWOL in the lead up to 9/11, choosing to focus on relatively petty goals, and on augmenting the agencies’ public-relations efforts, rather than on terrorism.

The CIA at the Center

A bevy of books have been published over the last 20 years examining the massive intelligence blundering that preceded 9/11. Many of them are partisan, and many attempt to blame everything on elected officials. But the failures leading up to 9/11 go much deeper than that. Much of this is described in detail by Milo Jones and Philippe Silberzahn in their book Constructing Cassandra: Reframing Intelligence Failure at the CIA, 1947-2001.

The authors note that the 9/11 failure was a failure of multiple intelligence agencies, as well as numerous US policymakers across many agencies and institutions.

But, as Jones and Silberzahn contend, "the CIA stands at the center of the failure. … [p]rior to 9/11, the CIA was primus inter pares among the agencies of the U.S. intelligence community, chartered specifically to coordinate the community’s activities against threats—especially surprise attacks originating abroad."

The story of the CIA’s failure is one of an organization that was repeatedly warned of the al-Qa'ida threat by internal analysists. But both the CIA leadership, and the rank and file, chose to ignore the warnings.  Rather, before 9/11, the leadership insisted on focusing on China, Iran, and Iraq. Other priorities included drug trafficking, organized crime, and illicit trade practices and “environmental issues of great gravity.”

Thanks only partly to guidance handed down form the Clinton administration in the late 1990s, “intelligence about al-Qa’ida [was] equal to that [of] …the illegal trade of tropical hardwood.” Jones and Silberzahn note the CIA did not “push back” against these priorities but concerned itself with telling politicians what they wanted to hear. 

Looking at "CIA budgetary decisions prior to 9/11" it becomes clear that intelligence on terrorism and al-Qa’ida were “extremely low priorities” at the CIA and "the agency had repeatedly diverted money away from counterterrorism to other purposes."

For instance, the CIA’s intelligence briefings for the Bush administration in 2001 (prior to September 11) were extremely vague and never communicated much beyond the bland facts that Islamic terrorists exist and might carry out attacks—sometime, somewhere.  The agency never devoted many resources to following up on the possibility of these attacks. Briefings on the topic of Islamic terrorism were historical in nature with little effort given to anticipating the details of possible future acts. There was no "actionable warning."

The 9/11 Commission noted this problem:

Commission staff member Douglas McEachin—a veteran former CIA analyst himself—thought that it was "unforgivable" that no NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] on al-Qa’ida or terrorism of any sort was produced for four years before the attacks. McEachin was "shocked that no one at the senior levels of the CIA had attempted for years— to catalog and give context to what was know about al-Qa’ida."

Yet, to this day, apologists for the CIA will shrug their shoulders and insist “hindsight is 20/20!” and “how could anyone have known?" These defenders of the regime, of course, ignore the fact that the intelligence community in 2001 was receiving $30 billion in taxpayer money—an amount that was real money in 2001—to anticipate security threats. Providing “early warning of an enemy attack” was (and is) their job.

(It’s also worth asking if the perennial excuse-makers for government failure can provide an example of a military or intelligence failure that they wouldn’t shrug off.)

The CIA Was Warned, and Did Nothing

Moreover, the data is clear that it didn’t require revolutionary thinking to anticipate that Islamic terrorists might use airplanes as weapons, or that al-Qa’ida posed a credible threat.

After all, the CIA leadership was warned by its own analysts, especially those under Michael Scheuer who headed up the CIA’s much-ignored bin Ladin unit. As early as 1996, Scheuer had attempted to warn his superiors at the CIA of the threat of Islamic terrorism in general, and al Qa’ida in particular. Usama bin Laden had been publicly threatening Western nations to Western media since 1993, and publicly declared war on the United States on September 2, 1996.

Unlike most staffers and officials at the CIA, Scheuer took bin Ladin seriously, but he and his unit were regarded with little esteem at the agency. While Scheuer was attempting to raise the profile of al-Qa’ida, "Anyone with seniority or savvy avoided assignment to the bin Ladin unit."

Scheuer was regarded as "obsessive" and those who were assigned to work with him were usually "very junior" and also female. Indeed, the bin Ladin unit, staffed as it was by Scheuer and a number of women, came to be derisively called “The Manson Family” among CIA staff.

Eventually, Scheuer lost what little influence he had in 1999. Frustrated with senior officials, Scheuer attempted to engage CIA director Tenet directly. This was regarded as an unforgiveable breach of bureaucratic protocol and Scheuer was demoted to the position of a librarian and shunted off to a cubicle in the library at Langley.

Airplanes as Weapons: It Was Predictable

Having studiously ignored the potential threat of al-Qa’ida throughout the late 1990s, CIA staff and leadership also failed to anticipate the methods eventually used on 9/11.

Followers of early 2000s popular culture will sometimes recall that the television show The Lone Gunmen—a spinoff of The X-Files—aired an episode in March 2001 in which a nefarious "hacker" deliberately flies a 747 at the World Trade Center.

Many note with amazement that authors of fiction saw the potential for the use of airplanes as weapons while the intelligence community apparently ignored the idea. Yet, the writers at The Lone Gunmen were hardly the first to conceive of the idea, which further illustrates the lack of imagination employed at the CIA.

As Jones and Silberzahn note,

In 1994, an Algerian group hijacked a plane in Algiers and apparently intended to fly it into the Eiffel Tower; in 1995, Manila police reported in detail about a suicide plot to crash a plane into CIA Headquarters; since the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, the NSC actively considered the use of aircraft as suicide weapons. Tom Clancy also wrote a novel about such an attack. As the [9/11] commission itself noted, the possibility of commercial planes as suicde weapons was both “imaginable and imagined” not just at the CIA.

A Lack of Expertise

So why was the CIA leadership so incapable to taking the al-Qa’ida threat seriously?

Much of it, Jones and Silberzahn conclude, was due to sizable weaknesses in the CIA’s analytical capabilities. Just as a general example, the authors note that even as late as 2013, "very few CIA analysts can read or speak Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, or Farsi—which collectively comprise the languages spoken by nearly half the world’s population."

Jones and Silberzahn note this is part of a general problem at the CIA of cultural homogeneity. Prior to 9/11, and likely still today, the CIA capabilities in understanding foreign cultures is limited by the fact the CIA is largely the domain of college-educated Americans, generally from the same socio-economic strata.

As noted by one CIA officer shortly after 9/11:

The CIA probably doesn’t have a single truly qualified Arabic-speaking officer of Middle Eastern Background who can play a believable Muslim fundamentalist... For Christ’s sake most case officers live in the suburbs of Virginia.

Indeed, "In 2001, only 20 percent of the graduating class of clandestine case officers were fluent in a non-Romance language." It’s unlikely that in 2001, the CIA had even a single case officer who spoke Pashto, the language of the Taliban. These great intelligence "experts" were groping around in the dark, often due to bureaucratic laziness and ignorance. 

The CIA’s defenders today may still make excuses for the CIA's failure to know the details of the 9/11 conspiracy ahead of time, but it is clear today that the CIA wasn’t even looking in the right general direction to discover such information were it to present itself. Rather, in 2001, the CIA was apparently more interested in working with policymakers and media to leak headlines that would play up the foreign threats the CIA was most interested in talking about.

Unfortunately, in spite of these enormous failures, the CIA and the intelligence community have seen little damage to their reputations. Nor is there any reason to assume the situation has substantially changed and that the federal bureaucracy is any more competent today than it was on September 10, 2001. There is no market test or objective measure of success in government bureaucracies. In the decade following 9/11, the US's intelligence agencies were rewarded with a marked increase in funding over 1990s levels

Twenty years after 9/11, a much-needed culture of skepticism around the nation's "intelligence community" has yet to arise. This attitude will only pave the way for the next time it becomes tragically clear that America's well-funded collection of intelligence agencies doesn't actually "keep us safe." 

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/11/2021 - 23:30
Published:9/11/2021 10:41:54 PM
[Markets] Canadian Schools Hold Book-Burning Demonstration To Be A More "Inclusive Country" Canadian Schools Hold Book-Burning Demonstration To Be A More "Inclusive Country"

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

We recently discussed how many on the left have discovered the allure of book burning, book banning, and blacklisting of authors.

While expressing shock at ISIS and other extremist groups burning books, the practice appears acceptable based on the titles or content.

Now educators in Ontario have held a “flame purification ceremony” for the local indigenous population by burning roughly 5,000 books.

The notion of teachers burning books is almost as bizarre as the thought of book sellers embracing blacklisting but both are now part of the realities of our age of rage.These school officials actually videotaped the celebration of book burning for students at 30 schools with the announcement that:

“We bury the ashes of racism, discrimination and stereotypes in the hope that we will grow up in an inclusive country where all can live in prosperity and security.”

The announcement even has a type of Maoist cultural revolution feel to it. In addition, Lyne Cosette, a spokeswoman for the public French-speaking Catholic schools of Ontario, told the National Post newspaper, “Symbolically, some books were used as fertilizer.” 

The entire demonstration was a disgrace to educators everywhere. The lesson of book burning left with these children will likely be indelible and lasting. I have worried about the rise of a generation of censors but the Catholic schools of Ontario appear intent on raising a generation of book burners.

What is truly chilling is the Orwellian call for children to burn books in order to be a more “inclusive country.”

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/11/2021 - 19:30
Published:9/11/2021 6:36:23 PM
[Academic left] Found: The Ward Churchill for 9/11@20 (Steven Hayward) The left (i.e., the Biden Administration and the media) like to say that the greatest threat to America today is internal. They may ironically be correct about this. I’ve been wondering or expecting that we’d hear from Ward Churchill in the New York Review of Books or somewhere today, but it seems we’ve found a worthy successor for the fake indian: Will it surprise anyone to learn that Jackson is Published:9/11/2021 2:34:35 PM
[Markets] CHS: The Fed Is Fatally Corrupt (And So Is The Rest Of America's Status Quo) CHS: The Fed Is Fatally Corrupt (And So Is The Rest Of America's Status Quo)

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

We know you're all just poor corrupt officials, but bleating excuses won't save you from the karmic payoff.

The Federal Reserve can be summed up in two famous lines from the classic film Casablanca in which the corrupt police official Renault is ordered to close Rick's cafe.

Renault: I'm shocked! Shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.

[The croupier hands Renault a wad of cash]: Your winnings, sir.

The Fed is totally, completely, fatally corrupt. Only those being handed their ill-gotten gains defend the Fed. Everyone who is isn't totally, completely, fatally corrupt wants America's financial Politburo tossed on the bonfire of history.

The Fed's response to its highest-level officials minting millions in insider trading is as transparent as Captain Renault's shock: only when the putrid corruption filling every nook and cranny of the Fed seeps out under the door does the Fed suddenly announce it's shocked that insider trading is going on in here.

Any agency with the faintest wisp of integrity would claw back all the trading gains of every Fed official and employee, but since the Fed is totally, completely, fatally corrupt, the Politiburo's mega-millionaires are handed their winnings like the comically corrupt Captain Renault.

At least the fictional Captain Renault had a sense of self-deprecating humor: at one point he declares, "I'm only a poor corrupt official." Chairman Powell, here's your cue: go ahead, say it: "I'm only a poor corrupt official."

But the fatal corruption of America's financial Politburo isn't unique; it's of a piece with the rest of America's fatally corrupt status quo, from the mega-millionaires in Congress minting millions in stocks (here's looking at you, Ms. Pelosi) to the Big Pharma parasites who evade responsibility for killing tens of thousands of Americans with their falsely labeled medications (non-addictive, huh), the entirety of America's ruling elite is totally, completely, fatally corrupt, from the billions collected by contractors in Afghanistan to the corporate insiders minting billions with stock buy-backs--a form of fraud that was illegal back before America became a moral cesspool.

Kleptocrats around the world are taking lessons from the Fed and the rest of America's corrupt ruling elite: how to launder money? Easy--open opaque LLC accounts in South Dakota. America is the world's best protected tax haven, because it's designed for America's own corrupt elite.

The cost of corruption is a bit higher in America, but you get what you pay for: world-class corruption costs more. Here is America, a few million in lobbying and campiagn contributions can buy pretty much anything: you need a tax loophole involving some obscure life insurance ploy? Pony up the cash and you got it on a silver platter.

Are loopholes available to the debt-serfs and tax donkeys? Of course not. Our designated role is limited to making monthly debt payments, paying taxes and distracting ourselves with binge-everything.

The higher you go up the food chain, the more profound the corruption. The croupier at Rick's doesn't have many opportunities for corruption; skimming anything will quickly lead to termination and prosecution. But at the top in America, the opportunities for corrupt gains, skims, scams, thinly veiled bribes and insider trading are essentially limitless. As Cato the Elder observed: "Thieves of private property pass their lives in chains; thieves of public property in riches and luxury."

America's corrupt elite is blind to the outcome of their skyrocketing wealth: skyrocketing inequality. And as a result, they're blind to what will wash away their putrid palace, for inequality is a systemic toxin that brings down even the greatest empires.

Dear corrupt Fed and corrupt ruling elite: the banquet of consequences of your corruption is being served. 

We know you're all just poor corrupt officials, but bleating excuses won't save you from the karmic payoff.

Who benefited from this Fed-inflated bubble?

Who benefited from this Fed-inflated bubble?

The answer: billionaires and the top 0.1%, with a few dregs draining down to the top 5%:

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

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Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World (Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/11/2021 - 13:30
Published:9/11/2021 12:41:03 PM
[Markets] Yeah, 9/11 Was Bad; But It Wasn't 'QAnoners Wandering Around The Capitol For A Few Hours'-Bad Yeah, 9/11 Was Bad; But It Wasn't 'QAnoners Wandering Around The Capitol For A Few Hours'-Bad

Authored (extremely satirically) by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

Okay, okay, let’s all cool our jets here for a minute. I know we’re all worked up about the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and that’s all well and good. But let’s not let our emotions cloud our vision and let today’s commemorations cause us to forget the real horror we must all remain focused on: the Capitol riot this past January.

It is true that losing nearly 3,000 American lives to weaponized passenger jets was pretty bad, but I think we can all agree that this pales in comparison to the earth-shattering terror we all experienced when watching footage of wingnuts wander aimlessly around the Capitol Building for a few hours.

Serious experts agree.

In a July appearance on MSNBC’s ReidOut with Joy Reid, former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd said he felt the Capitol riot was “much worse” than 9/11 and that this is the “most perilous point in time” since the beginning of the American Civil War.

“To me, though there was less loss of life on January 6, January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been,” Dowd said. “I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War.”

“I do too,” Reid replied.

Not to be outdone, Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt cited Dowd’s claim but added that not only was January 6 worse than 9/11, but it was actually going to kill more Americans somehow, even counting all those killed in the US wars which ensued from the 9/11 attacks.

“He couldn’t be more right,” Schmidt said at a town hall for the Lincoln Project.

“The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following.”

Popular #Resistance pundit Majid Padellan tweeted back in February, “I am traumatized all over again while watching this video recap. Don’t try to tell me January 6th was NOT worse than 9/11.”

“I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system,” said Washington Post columnist George Will on ABC’s “This Week” roundtable back in May.

Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent S.V. Dáte asserted on Twitter that this year’s Capitol riot was worse than the September 11 attacks because “The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today.”

Dáte added that the events of 1/6 were “1000 percent worse” than if 9/11 hijackers had succeeded in crashing a Boeing 757 into the Capitol Building twenty years ago.

So that settles it, then: QAnoners meandering around a government building is far, far worse than thousands of people being killed in fiery explosions.

It’s a good thing we’ve got such sane, level-headed people on such prominent platforms instructing us on how to think about important events, because otherwise this perspective might never have even occurred to us. Especially since the FBI found no evidence that Trump and his allies were involved in coordinating the 1/6 riot and very little evidence of any centralized planning of any kind, and since we now know that the only person claimed to have been killed by the rioters actually died of natural causes, and since many other claims about the Capitol riot have been soundly debunked.

So now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s not let 9/11 stop us from screaming about 1/6 for all eternity, as loud as our lungs will allow. It’s important we remain rational here.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sat, 09/11/2021 - 12:30
Published:9/11/2021 11:37:47 AM
[Markets] Amazon Offers Free Bachelor's Degrees As It Ramps Up Hiring Push Amazon Offers Free Bachelor's Degrees As It Ramps Up Hiring Push

Yesterday, the latest batch of job openings data revealed that the number of open jobs in the US had returned to record levels - with more than 10MM open job as of the end of July, the time period covered by the data. And although Biden's federal benefit gravy train has finally come to an end, it will take some time before the idle working-age population rushes back to the labor market.

Which is perhaps why some of the country's biggest employers are rolling out ever-greater benefits to try and lure back workers without raising pay (the logic, of course, is that wage hikes are typically permanent, while benefits like subsidizing education can be more easily curtailed). According to a WSJ report, Amazon has just offered workers a juicy new carrot.  It will offer 750,000 workers the opportunity to enroll in a fully-paid bachelor's program at any of a number of partner universities, with Amazon picking up the tab.

The benefit will still exist for part-time workers, who can still have half of their tuition paid for. 

Amazon has already hired 400K new workers since the start of the pandemic.

"Career progression is the new minimum wage," said Ardine Williams, a vice president of workforce development at Amazon, who notes employer-funded training can help people prepare for a career that interests them. "Most adult learners don’t have the luxury of quitting their jobs and going to school full-time."

And that's exactly the point. Not that many full-time workers will have the ability to pursue even a part-time education. But some will, and anyway, Wal-Mart is doing something similar, so it's time for Amazon to offer education benefits of its own to compete.

While education is an expensive and valuable commodity when it comes to social mobility, Amazon's workers will likely require other types of benefits that will make their lives easier in the here and now.

More companies are offering greater time off, more reliable scheduling and, critically, access to emergency child care. Maybe Amazon day cares will become more common at these fulfillment centers (perhaps after COVID is finally gone?).

Here's how Amazon's competitors stack up regarding educational benefits: Walmart, one of Amazon’s chief rivals, said in July it would fully subsidize college tuition and books for 1.5MM part-time and full-time employees in the US, dropping an earlier requirement that employees pay a $1 daily fee toward their education. Walmart employees can enroll during their first day on the job, and the retailing giant has expanded the number of 'educational partners'. Examples include Johnson & Wales University and the University of Arizona, among others.

Last month, Target said it would offer its 340K workers no-cost college education, including books and course fees, for a number of programs.

Restaurant chains like Chipotle and Starbucks are also stepping up their educational benefits.

Education initiatives have another bonus: they could help attract more dedicated (WSJ uses the word "aspirational") workers, who are more likely to stick around - even through hard times - because they need that tuition money.

Amazon is also offering more "upskilling" opportunities within the company.

Bottom line: For companies that are willing to "go only so far on pay", training and educational opportunities can represent another form of compensation, said Chris O’Leary, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/10/2021 - 15:40
Published:9/10/2021 2:54:47 PM
[Markets] Gazing Into The Freedom Pool Gazing Into The Freedom Pool

By Michael Every of Rabobank

On 9/10 2001, my wife and I were in the World Trade Center; on 9/11, we were on a bus to DC, watching the terrible events transpire through the window. This weekend marks the solemn 20th anniversary of those attacks, and gives cause for reflection as we gaze into the memorial freedom pool on the former WTC site.

The world has changed markedly since then – and a lot more very recently. Yesterday the world met the new central bank governor of Afghanistan: a member of the Taliban carrying a rifle at his desk.

When I argued in 2017’s ‘Heaven or Hell-icopters’ and 2020’s return-of-ideology “-ism” examination that central banking would irrevocably change, this was not the ecclesiastical shift I had in mind. When one talks of this governor being hawkish or dovish; hikes and cuts; having ammunition left; keeping power dry; and using a bazooka, it takes on new meaning. The market will of course want to know what his stance is vis-à-vis QE or, more likely, money printing without the charade of asset purchases. Perhaps he could accept Bitcoin if the Taliban want cool kids’ OK?

More in keeping with the shift I described, the ECB’s Lagarde --not a terrorist, but previously convicted for negligence-- yesterday confirmed our expectations that PEPP will end after March. That said, the ECB clearly remains data-dependent, and has kept all options open for December. That desire to remain flexible was underscored by the avoidance of the word ‘tapering’, and the message that yesterday did not mark a turning point for PEPP. However, compared to the Fed, the ECB is still lagging in terms of its inflation aim, so - unlike the US - even if the ECB decides not to extend PEPP, the Bank is still a long way from ending asset purchases altogether. We expect APP (and other instruments) to take over the reins in pursuit of the inflation goal.

Lagarde paraphrased ex-British PM and notable Eurosceptic Thatcher when stating “the lady isn’t tapering, she is recalibrating”. Also following Mrs T, showing how world changes are still accelerating, and that the French have an ironic sense of humour, yesterday Mr. Barnier, who led the EU’s Brexit negotiations, and is running for president, declared: “France must reclaim its juridical sovereignty and no longer be subject to the rulings of the ECJ and ECHR. We will propose a referendum on [non-EU] immigration for September.”

But back to central banks. Economist Anne Pettifor, channelling Klein & Pettis, again critiques the ECB, Fed, et al., in underlining arguments long heard here, noting:

“The folly of relying on central bank monetary operations to tackle deep and dangerous global economic imbalances [which are] are a result of globalized, export-oriented, over-producing economies drowning in goods and services, while purchasing power at home, and worldwide, is cut.”

“The combination of excessive production and purchasing-power cuts is deflationary. Tackling deflation with quantitative easing is, as John Maynard Keynes once argued, like pushing on a string. But central banks apparently do not view their role as helping to restore balance to a very imbalanced economy, or as prioritizing the domestic economy over the globalized economy. Technocrats at central banks act to sustain and protect just one sector of the global economy: the financial sector.

Furthermore, that: “The financial sector has, in turn, abandoned the ‘free market’, and wants its risky activities to be guaranteed and protected by taxpayers. They call this ‘de-risking’ investment. It is an extraordinary distortion of a system once defined as ‘free-market capitalism.’”

Power comes from the barrel of a gun, as they say, but sometimes you don’t need guns for real power: at least until the people with guns arrive, as in Kabul. When the ECB boss has to turn up armed to press conferences, even liquidity-addled markets might start to get nervous.

Combining ‘power’ and a critique of ‘free-market’ capitalism, China yesterday released oil from its strategic reserves for the first time to try to dampen supply-side inflation, after a 9.5% y/y PPI print. Beijing has the ideological excuse to openly intervene on multiple fronts, even if it remains something the West refuses to read. Under which Western ideology are the problems noted by Pettifor being created and ‘resolved’? Marxists have an answer: this is what happens with late-stage capitalism – to which capitalists appears to have no reply other than “Can I sell you some rope?” Bloomberg explores this in more depth than usual today in ‘What Xi Means by ‘Disorderly Capital’ is $1.5 Trillion Question’. Except that it is a far larger question than $1.5 trillion.

That issue of ideology as limit to action is also in focus on another front, as US President Biden declares “The bottom line: we’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers,” when the argument so far has been the unvaccinated are a danger to themselves. Specifically, Biden announced mandatory vaccinations for federal workers, with limited exceptions; for all private firms with more than 100 workers, or to test workers weekly, firing those who will not comply, with federal fines of $14,000 for each violation; told governors who won’t help he will use his powers to “get them out of the way”; and required 100% vaccinated staff at any medical facility that takes federal money (which is nearly all of them).

To say that this will exacerbate the already bitter US politics of vaccination is an understatement: Republican governors have already made clear they will resist these measures. Is it constitutional for the US government to force bosses to force you to be vaccinated? We will soon find out, and the boundaries of our political economy will shift accordingly.

As in the UK, where the Tories are proposing a bill that could see journalists imprisoned for up to 14 years for embarrassing the government. (Does that mean ministers have to be imprisoned as accomplices for embarrassing themselves? The UK will be ungovernable in no time if so.) As in Australia, where a new law allows the police to modify, add, copy or delete your social media posts, and where a court just ruled media can be sued for third party comments to on-line stories. As in Canada, where they are burning books.

To say that President Biden’s announcement may exacerbate the current labor market supply-demand imbalance is also an understatement. 80m Americans are still not vaccinated. If they continue to resist, and are fired, what will that do to payrolls and supply chains? Good luck trying to model any of this. And goodness me, aren’t we back to de facto arguments for more QE? How useful to have such a monetary Panopticon ready at all times!

Back on 9/11 2001, there was no social media, you could fly as easily as taking a bus, the Fed Funds rate was 3.5%, US 10-year yields were 4.84% (the previous close), and we had never heard of QE: and Afghanistan’s central bank was ruled by the Taliban.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/10/2021 - 09:45
Published:9/10/2021 9:00:17 AM
[Society] Elizabeth Warren Asks Amazon to Ban Books, Products Spreading ‘COVID-19 Misinformation’

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, urged Amazon to remove books and other products that spread “COVID-19 misinformation” from its online marketplace. Warren identified a variety... Read More

The post Elizabeth Warren Asks Amazon to Ban Books, Products Spreading ‘COVID-19 Misinformation’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:9/8/2021 3:46:00 PM
[Markets] Is Anyone Willing To Call The Top Of The Everything Bubble? Is Anyone Willing To Call The Top Of The Everything Bubble?

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Can extremes become too extreme to continue higher? We're about to find out.

Is anyone willing to call the top of the Everything bubble? The short answer is no. Anyone earning money managing other people's money cannot afford to be wrong, and so everyone in the herd prevaricates on timing. The herd has seen what happens to those who call the top and then twist in the wind as the market continues rocketing higher.

Money managers live in segments of three months. If you miss one quarter, the clock starts ticking. If the S&P 500 beats your fund's return a second time because you were bearish in a bubble, your doom is sealed.

When the bubble finally pops and everyone but a handful of secretive Bears is crushed, the rationalization will cover everyone's failure: "nobody could have seen this coming."

Actually, everyone can see it coming, but the tsunami of central bank liquidity has washed away any semblance of rationality. My friend and colleague Zeus Y. recently summarized the consequences of this decoupling of markets and reality:

"I used to be with the Bears until the uncoupling was complete when the Fed started guaranteeing non-investment grade junk bonds. At that point, any semblance of sanity, much less probity, much less integrity was gone. Rinse and repeat with digital dollars going into the tens and even hundreds of trillions of dollars.

For two decades we fiscal sanity-ists have been assuming SOME baseline reality. I see none in sight and still plenty of assets to plunder and pump and still resources to suck and suckers to shake down. The system is running hot and wild on its own algorithms, and actual people are lying back and simply lapping up the "passive" income created by delusion-made-reality.

With that much will and that much corruption, that much greed and that much lust, with a strong dose of fear and opportunism to flavor this toxic brew, I do not see the entity slouching away from Bethlehem anytime soon (yes, Keats reference). The falcon has long since not heard the falconer in its widening gyre, but we have virtual falcons now that will do whatever we think it is we want (which has been force fed back to us).

Until this mass delusion and psychosis breaks by whatever means-- financial crash, rebellion against all the BS and return to simple community, we are only going to see digital currency, stocks, and pretty much everything go up as tens of trillions of concocted dollars try to find some asset to ride.

This will (continue to) drive the stock market, gold, cybercurrency, land, everything to unsustainable and giddy heights. I no longer think a Bear market is even possible. Just soaring "valuations" based on funny money and an unpredictable crash at some point in the future WAY longer than it ever should be if we had a sane world."

Well said, Zeus. 

It is now irrational to expect markets to ever reconnect with reality.

That said, if you glance at the charts below, this is about as a good a time as any for the bubble to burst. 

Recall that bubbles don't need a specific trigger-event to pop, they simply stop going up.

Regression to trend: insane extreme.

S&P 500 stocks over 10 times annual sales: insane extreme.

S&P 500 Everything Bubble compared to bubbles #1 and #2: insane extreme.

S&P 500 stocks above their 200-day moving average: insane extreme.

Billionaire wealth increasing in the Everything Bubble: insane extreme.

Are there any limits on irrationality? Apparently not. But there are still limits in the real world and central bank liquidity is distorting the real world, not just the imaginary world.

At the grave risk of twisting in the wind as the S&P 500 goes to 5,000, 10,000 and 100,000, let's call September 2021 the top of the Everything Bubble. Can extremes become too extreme to continue higher? We're about to find out.

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World (Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/07/2021 - 16:20
Published:9/7/2021 3:34:55 PM
[Markets] "Dear White People": NHS Lectures Brits About Their "Privilege" "Dear White People": NHS Lectures Brits About Their "Privilege"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

The NHS has published a blog on its official website called “Dear white people in the UK” which lectures Brits about their “white privilege” and says they should “be uncomfortable” about their “whiteness.”

Yes, really.

The article is written by Aishnine Benjamin, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion lead at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (not a real job).

It orders white people to read numerous far-left screeds about intersectionality and why white people should feel guilty about the color of their skin while telling them to shut up and “listen…to what black and minority ethnic people are saying.”

“Don’t say ‘I’m not political’ to excuse yourself from this conversation,” the text barks.

“Right now, ignorance isn’t an excuse. You can’t unsee what you have seen.”

That’s interesting given that all one can see in this article is outright racist hatred of white people thinly veiled in the garbled, quixotic rhetoric of social justice.

“Be uncomfortable,” the blog instructs white people, before asserting how “structurally racist systems” can only be properly understood by consuming numerous race-baiting books, videos and podcasts about how bad white people are.

The article then stresses that all of these messages should also be pushed on children before telling people to support Operation Black Vote, a leftist NGO.

“Diversity isn’t a fun to have it’s a must have,” the article aggressively ends.

While it’s easy to dismiss the blog as a meaningless exercise in performative white guilt, the situation becomes more ominous when you understand that the NHS can now literally deny health care to people it considers to be “racist” or “homophobic.”

Despite being notoriously terrible, the NHS is so venerated that it has all but replaced the church as the United Kingdom’s official state religion.

During the first lockdown, Brits were pressured to take part in a cringe-inducing weekly clapping sessions to show their appreciation for a health service that was apparently “overwhelmed,” but not overwhelmed enough to prevent nurses up and down the country performing Tik Tok dance routines for social media clout.

Some people who refused to take part were even publicly shamed by their community on Facebook.

As we previously highlighted, a prominent think tank published a report concluding that adulation for the NHS is not rational.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Tue, 09/07/2021 - 05:00
Published:9/7/2021 4:08:28 AM
[Markets] The Illusion Of Stability, The Inevitability Of Collapse The Illusion Of Stability, The Inevitability Of Collapse

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Beneath the illusory stability of rising GDP, the extremes of debt, leverage, stimulus and speculative frenzy required to keep the 'phantom wealth bubble' from imploding are all rising parabolically.

Imagine being at a party celebrating the vast wealth generated in the last ten months in stocks, cryptocurrencies, real estate and just about every other asset class. The lights flicker briefly but the host assures the crowd the generator powering the party is working perfectly.

Being a skeptic, you slip out on the excuse of bringing in more champagne and pay a visit to the generator room. To your horror, you find the entire arrangement held together with duct tape and rotted 2X4s, the electrical panel is an acrid-smelling mess of haphazard frayed wire and the generator is over-heated and vibrating off its foundation bolts. Whatever governor the engine once had is gone, it clearly won't last the night.

The party is the U.S. economy, and the generator room is the Federal Reserve, its proxies and the U.S. Treasury, all running to failure. What we're experiencing in real time is the illusion of stability and the inevitability of collapse. I've prepared a few charts to illuminate this reality graphically.

Here's the illusion of stability in a nutshell: while the broadest measure of the economy, gross domestic product (GDP) has continued marching higher (in both nominal and real/inflation-adjusted terms), the amount of Federal Reserve stimulus and Federal debt required to keep pushing GDP up at the same rate has exploded higher and is tracking a parabolic blow-off.

Let's start with a chart of GDP, which I've divided into four eras. Era #1 was the period of broad-based prosperity, defined as productivity gains that increased wages faster than inflation, i.e. the purchasing power of wages rose so each hour of labor bought more goods and services. Note that the GDP was not skyrocketing in this period, as the gains in productivity and prosperity were real and not based on financial trickery, debt, leverage or Fed stimulus. This era lasted from the 1950s through the mid-1970s, at which point stagflation put an end to the era of rising purchasing power of labor / wages.

Era #2 began around 1981 and lasted until 1999: this was the era of financialization, when debt and leverage replaced productivity as the source of profits and as a result speculation, leveraged buy-outs and other financial gimmicks proved far more profitable than actually producing goods and services. A key element of financialization is globalization, as the big profits only flow when debt, risk, income streams and phantom financial instruments can be commoditized (i.e. produced, packaged and sold as commodities) and sold globally.

Era #3 was the logical extension of financialization and speculation: the U.S. economy became dependent on debt-asset bubbles for its "growth" and expansion of phantom wealth. Bubble #1, the dot-com speculative frenzy, imploded in 2000, and Bubble #2, the debt-housing speculative frenzy, imploded in 2008.

Era #4 is the logical extension of the bubbles popping: a permanent Fed-fueled speculative frenzy that requires ever greater quantities of Fed stimulus and federal and private debt, and ever larger extremes of speculative frenzy to keep from imploding.

Here's nominal GDP: it looks great until we look beneath the surface.

Here's real GDP, adjusted for official inflation (in chained 2012 dollars). Looks very similar to nominal GDP: if we look at the steady ascent of real GDP, we'd imagine the nation's prosperity is even more broad-based and solid than in Era #1, but we'd be wrong: Eras #2, #3 and #4 are characterized by rising inequality, the death-spiral decay of middle class purchasing power and total dependence on skyrocketing stimulus, debt, leverage and speculation.

Here's a glance beneath the surface: federal debt has exploded higher: in Era #2 (Financialization), federal debt rose from less than $1 trillion in 1981 to $5.7 trillion in 2000-- about a 6-fold increase over 20 years. The next 20 years saw federal debt rise from $5.7 trillion to $23.3 trillion in early 2020 (pre-pandemic), and since then, a sharp ramp to $28.5 trillion.

You see the trend: GDP rose about 7-fold while federal debt rose 30-fold--mostly in the last 13 years of Era #4.

This chart of federal debt as a percentage of GDP is enlightening: notice than in Era #1 (broad-based prosperity), the percentage declined as GDP grew at a faster rate than federal debt. In Era #2 (financialization), debt rose far faster than GDP, but the dot-com boom reduced the percentage to around 60%, double the percentage in Era #1.

Era #3, the bubble-economy, remained in the same range, but the trend changed in Era #4, after the Fed's Bubble #2 popped, almost bringing down the entire global financial system. In the era of speculative Fed frenzy (Era #4), the debt quickly rose to 100% of GDP and then made another quantum leap above 120%--a developing-world-kleptocracy level.

While prosperity was replaced by inequality and Fed-inflated speculative bubbles, debt as a percentage of GDP rose 4-fold.

Speaking of parabolic blow-offs, here's the Federal Reserve balance sheet, up 10-fold in a mere 13 years. Remarkable, isn't it, that the U.S. economy managed decades of expansion with the Fed balance sheet far below $1 trillion, decade after decade, but now the economy needs the Fed to create $7.5 trillion and throw it on the bonfire of speculative bubbles to keep the economy from imploding.

GDP in 2007 was $14.7 trillion and the Fed balance sheet was $800 billion, or 5.4% of GDP. Now the Fed balance sheet is over 36% of GDP, about a 7-fold increase in a mere 13 years. Notice the rate of expansion is near-parabolic, even as GDP has recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

Other central banks followed this same expansion of monetary stimulus. If GDP has normalized, then why the continuing panic-expansion of monetary stimulus? The only logical explanation is the system was breaking down before the pandemic and its decay has accelerated.

We all know what happens when the expansion of debt, leverage, speculation and central bank stimulus falter by even the tiniest bit: the entire global phantom wealth bubble pops: this is visible in the chart of total debt, public and private:

Beneath the illusory stability of rising GDP, the extremes of debt, leverage, stimulus and speculative frenzy required to keep the phantom wealth bubble from imploding are all rising parabolically. Every attempt to return to an economy that's not dependent on debt-asset bubbles and unsustainable expansions of debt and monetary stimulus has triggered a global market crash which can only be saved by doubling, tripling or quadrupling the previous levels of debt and stimulus.

This is why collapse is now inevitable. Parabolic blow-off expansions generate instabilities that cannot be suppressed by doing more of what's failing; that is called run to failure for a reason: the only possible outcome is systemic failure, i.e. the collapse of the phantom wealth bubble, a collapse which will bring down the entire machinery of bubble-blowing.

Before you pop that bottle of champagne, you better check out the generator room first. Duct tape, frayed wiring, the scent of overheated metal and rotted 2X4s are not going to keep the party lights going much longer.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sat, 09/04/2021 - 10:30
Published:9/4/2021 9:38:10 AM
[Markets] Huarong Is Deleveraging By Selling $58.8 Billion In "Bad Assets " In An Online Debt Sale Huarong Is Deleveraging By Selling $58.8 Billion In "Bad Assets " In An Online Debt Sale

China Huarong Asset Management Co. is about to hit the bid with $58.8 billion worth of assets in order to try and right its ship, according to new article by Bloomberg. Huarong is going to be offloading the assets via a largest-of-its-kind online debt sale. 

The distressed asset manager is preparing to offload assets that involve "more than 7,000 borrowers", the report notes, at discounts of up to 40% on the dollar. The company had said last weekend that it "planned to dispose of subsidiaries with non-core business activities in the 'near future'". 

Recall, we just wrote about Huarong's state-backed bailout this week. Citic Group, in conjunction with China's Ministry of Finance, has stepped in at the urging of the state to prevent the asset manager from becoming a massive Lehman-style blowup in China for the time being. Defaults have been avoided, according to another Bloomberg article. While bondholders can breathe a sigh of relief, equity holders likely won't be as lucky. 

The rescue of the company was announced on August 18th after months of the state trying to pin down exactly who would step in, where, to help the entity. 

“Beijing didn’t allow a systemically important financial institution directly owned by the central government to default on its debt, an event that had the potential to upend debt markets and possibly precipitate a financial crisis,” The Wall Street Journal wrote earlier this month.

The bailout took the form of a “recapitalization” with government funding, Forbes noted, calling it "a financial infusion (unspecified in form or amount) from a group of Chinese state-owned enterprises. It is a straight bailout, as per precedent (although many had feared precedent might not hold)."

 

But the bailout comes against the backdrop of President Xi reining in China's major internet and tech companies with regulations that have collectively erased more than $1 trillion in shareholder value from names like Alibaba and Tencent. 

Thanks to this shift in tone, Sergey Dergachev, a senior portfolio manager at Union Investment in Frankfurt, told Bloomberg he believes that after Huarong, the days of guaranteed bailouts are over: “This assumption is not valid anymore.”

Huarong borrowed extensively since the late 1990s to help it expand and safeguard other Chinese banks. The company's longtime chairman Lai Xiaomin eventually wound up being caught in a corruption scandal and finally left the asset manager this January. By the summer, it was obvious the asset manager needed help. From there, it became months of arguing and infighting amongst the state and private investors to try and organize a bailout. 

Citic was eventually engaged, according to Bloomberg:

For nearly two months, a Citic team pored over the books at Huarong’s headquarters. Even at Citic, a Chinese company as connected as they come, the political nature of the task raised eyebrows. Huarong’s finances were so troubled and past dealings so fraught that some members of the Citic team worried they might be blamed for the mess. They wanted assurances that they wouldn’t be held responsible should higher ups take issue with any rescue plan later on, one of the people said.

The numbers, audited by Ernst & Young, were dire. Huarong had lost 102.9 billion yuan ($15.9 billion) in 2020, more than its combined profits since going public in 2015. It wrote off 107.8 billion yuan in bad investments. 

Then, in August, the company's bailout was officially announced:

At last, terms were drawn up and the State Council, long silent about Huarong, gave its blessing to a rescue that combines a government bailout with a more market-driven recapitalization. Huarong will get about 50 billion yuan of fresh capital from a group of investors led by Citic, which will assume the Ministry of Finance’s controlling stake, people familiar have said. Huarong is expected to raise 50 billion yuan more by selling non-core financial assets. On August 18, Huarong went public with its huge losses and quickly followed up with news of its rescue.

Recall, in April we had noted that China's central bank was considering a plan to "assume more than 100 billion yuan ($15 billion) of assets from China Huarong Asset Management, helping the state-owned company clean up its balance sheet and refocus on its core business of managing distressed debt."

With Huarong out of the way, China Evergrande Group now becomes to the country's largest worry...

And for those who think these entities are all too big to fail, David Loevinger, a former senior coordinator for China affairs at the U.S. Treasury, concluded:

“Now, you cannot say that with 100% certainty,”

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/03/2021 - 13:25
Published:9/3/2021 12:43:02 PM
[Markets] Nasdaq books record close as U.S. stocks end mostly higher Nasdaq books record close as U.S. stocks end mostly higher Published:9/1/2021 3:28:01 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:9/1/2021 7:46:42 AM
[Entertainment] 13 Books to Read This September E-Comm: September booksWe love these products, and we hope you do too. E! has affiliate relationships, so we may get a small share of the revenue from your purchases. Items are sold by the retailer, not...
Published:9/1/2021 5:18:33 AM
[Markets] The War In Afghanistan Is What Happens When McKinsey Types Run Everything The War In Afghanistan Is What Happens When McKinsey Types Run Everything

Authored by Matt Stoller via BIG Substack,

Welcome to BIG, a newsletter about the politics of monopoly. If you’d like to sign up, you can do so here

"The Pervasiveness of Over-Optimism"

An Afghan General blames defense contractors for the collapse of the Afghan army. A government inspector blames the "the pervasiveness of overoptimism" by U.S. generals. It's all that, and more.

In 2017, Netflix put out a satirical movie on the conflict in Afghanistan. It was titled War Machine, and it starred Brad Pitt as an exuberant and deluded U.S. General named Glen McMahon. A fitness fanatic nicknamed ‘the Glanimal’ by his crew of adoring frathouse henchmen, McMahon is modeled on the real-life military leader Stanley McChrystal, who ran the surge in Afghanistan before being fired for saying disparaging things about Obama administration officials (including then VP Biden) on the record to Rolling Stone magazine.

In War Machine, McMahan comes to Afghanistan with a spirited can do attitude and a frat house of hard-partying yes-men, after having ‘kicked Al Qaeda in the sack’ running special operations in Iraq. He is obsessed with inspirational speeches and weird bureaucratic box-ticking, under the amorphous concept of leadership. This kind of leadership, though, isn’t actually working with wisdom and foresight, but is more like management consulting. Prior to arriving in Afghanistan, for instance, McMahan created a system, with the acronym SNORPP to coordinate military assets. At night, he cozies down to read books on management excellence, the kind that Harvard Business Review publishes as sort of Chicken Soup for the Executive’s Soul. He is also the author of a fictional book with the amazing title, “One Leg At a Time: Just Like Everybody Else.”

And yet his mission is unwinnable, which everyone seems to understand except him and his small team. McMahan constantly makes awkward speeches that make no sense, with the tone used by untrusted executives at corporate retreats. “We are here to build, to protect, to support the civilian population,” he told his troops. “To that end, we must avoid killing it at all costs. We cannot help them and kill them at the same time, it just ain’t humanly possible.” His character reflects what the actual government watchdog charged with overseeing the war in Afghanistan called one of the central problems with the U.S. effort, "the pervasiveness of over-optimism:"

If McMahan himself is a naive fool, he is surrounded by cynical bureaucratic opponents. As he seeks support for his new strategy of putting troops in Taliban-held provinces, he is gently ignored by the President of Afghanistan, who is a drug-addicted hypochondriac, and mocked by State Department and national security apparatchiks, who are striving cynics urging McMahon to just falsify numbers to make the war look a little better and not embarrass President Obama. Troops on the ground are demoralized and confused. No one actually believes in the mission, but dammit, McMahon is gonna get it done, whatever ‘it’ is. When McMahon tries to give an inspirational speech to ordinary Afghanis in Taliban-controlled territory about how the U.S. is going to bring them jobs and schools, one responds by saying he like jobs and schools, but please go away so the Taliban won’t retaliate. “The longer you are here the worse for us. Please go.”

It’s a hilarious, and extraordinarily dark movie. It also rang true, because it was based on the work of no-bullshit journalist Michael Hastings, who was perhaps the most honest reporter about the military establishment. And, as life is true to fiction, McChrystal, the general who Hastings profiled in Rolling Stone with an embarrassing story that led to his resignation, is now a management consultant (and board member of defense contractors). He runs inspirational ‘leadership training’ at the McChrystal Group, which is McKinsey with military branding.

In fact, McChrystal and much of our military leadership is tight with consultants like McKinsey, and that whole diseased culture from Harvard Business School of pervasive over-optimism and finance-venture capital monopoly bro-a-thons. McKinsey itself had involvement in Afghanistan, with at least one $18.6 million contract to help the Defense Department define its “strategic focus,” though government watchdogs found that the "only output [they] could find" was a 50-page report about strategic economic development potential in Herat, a province in western Afghanistan.” It turns out that ‘strategic focus’ means an $18.6 million PowerPoint. (There was reporting on this contract because Pete Buttigieg worked on it as a junior analyst at McKinsey, and he has failed upward to run the Transportation Department.)

I bring War Machine up because of today’s debate over Afghanistan. While there is a lot of back and forth about whether intelligence agencies knew that the Taliban would take over, or what would happen if we left, or whether the withdrawal could be done more competently, all you had to do to know that this war was a shitshow based on deception and idiocy at all levels was to turn on Netflix and watch this movie. Or you could read any number of inspector general reports, leaked documents, articles, talk to any number of veterans, or use common sense, which, polling showed, most Americans did. (Marine vet Lucas Kunce gives a nice rundown of the problem in this interview). I mean, it’s not like a major international media outlet printed a multi-part expose, which became a handy book, detailing the fact that everyone running the show knew it was an unwinnable mess nearly a decade ago. Oh, wait

In other words, the war in Afghanistan is like seeing management consultants come to your badly managed software company where everyone knows the problem is the boss’s indecisiveness and cowardice, except it’s violent and people die.

I mean, U.S. military leaders, like bad consultants or executives, lied about Afghanistan to the point it was routine. Here are just a few quotes from generals and DOD spokesmen over the years on the strength of the Afghan military, which collapsed almost instantly after the U.S. left.

In 2011, General David Petraeus stated, “Investments in leader development, literacy, marksmanship and institutions have yielded significant dividends. In fact, in the hard fighting west of Kandahar in late 2010, Afghan forces comprised some 60% of the overall force and they fought with skill and courage.”

In 2015, General John Campbell said that the the Afghan Army had “proven themselves to be increasingly capable,” that they had “grown and matured in less than a decade into a modern, professional force,” and, further, that they had “proven that they can and will take the tactical fight from here.”

In 2017, General John Nicholson stated that Afghan security forces had “prevailed in combat against an externally enabled enemy,” and that the army’s “ability to face simultaneity and complexity on the battlefield signals growth in capability.”

On July 11, 2021, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that the Afghan army has “much more capacity than they’ve ever had before, much more capability,” and asserted, “they know how to defend their country.”

Basically, look at this photo below, imagine them in camouflage, and that’s the U.S. military leadership.

The Withdrawal Anger Is *Embarrassment*

There are significant recriminations over the embarrassing media stories on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, tremendous anger that political leaders like Trump and Biden made significant mistakes in how they withdrew U.S. forces. Many of these critiques, coming from Europeans as much as American elites, are in bad faith.

Nonetheless, rather than weighing in on the merits of these arguments, I think it’s better to look at how the establishment observed a stark portrait of Afghanistan before the withdrawal, to show that the current critiques have nothing to do with operational choices.

To that end, let’s look at a review of War Machine in Foreign Policy magazine, written by one of McChrystal’s aides, Whitney Kassel, who now works at private intelligence firm The Arkin Group. In this review, Kassel noted the movie made her so upset that she started cursing, because, while there were of course mistakes, the film was totally unfair to McChrystal and demeaned the entire mission of building a safe Afghanistan. Kassel, like most of these elites, didn’t get the joke, because she is the joke.

I see the discourse on the withdrawal as a super-sized version of this Kassel’s review. The ‘Blob,’ that loose network of diplomats, ex-diplomats, generals, lobbyists, defense contractors, fancy lawyers, famous journalists, and insiders see the obvious desire for withdrawal as similar to how Kassel saw the truth-telling of Hastings and the Netflix movie. They are angry and embarrassed that they can’t hide their failures anymore. Their entire sense of self was bound up in the idea of an illusion of an unbeatable all-powerful America, even when they, like General Glen “the Glanimal” McMahon were the only ones who believed it.

And their embarrassment covers up something even more dangerous. None of these tens of thousands of Ivy league encrusted PR savvy highly credentialed prestigious people actually know how to do anything useful. They can write books on leadership, or do powerpoints, or leak stories, but the hard logistics of actually using resources to achieve something important are foreign to them, masked by unlimited budgets and public relations. It is, as someone told me in 2019 about the consumer goods giant Proctor and Gamble, where “very few white-collar workers at P&G really did anything” except take credit for the work of others.

Defense Monopolies and the Afghan Army

It’s fun to act like it was always thus, that this is how empires behave. But in fact, that’s not true. The current Blob is relatively new. And believe it or not, Western forces used to be able to actually win wars.

Going back to the last significant victory, the allies won World War II in large part for two reasons. First, the Soviet Union sacrificed 27 million people defeating the Nazis, and second, the U.S. military, government, labor, and business leaders were exceptionally good at logistics. The U.S. military had at least a dozen suppliers for each major weapons system, as well as the ability to produce its own weaponry, the government had exceptional insight into the U.S. economy, and New Dealers had destroyed the power of the Andrew Mellon and J.P. Morgan style short-term oriented financiers and monopolists who had controlled the industrial sinews of the country.

Today, this short-termism has taken over everything, including the military, which is now dominated by McKinsey-ified glory hounds without wisdom and defense contractors with market power. And this leadership class hasn’t just eroded our strategic capacity, but the very ability to conduct operations. Two days ago, Afghan General Sami Sadat published a piece in the New York Times describing why his army fell apart so quickly. He went through several important political reasons, but there was an interesting subtext about the operational capacity of a military that is so dependent on contractors for sustainment and repairs. In particular, these lines stuck out.

Contractors maintained our bombers and our attack and transport aircraft throughout the war. By July, most of the 17,000 support contractors had left. A technical issue now meant that aircraft — a Black Hawk helicopter, a C-130 transport, a surveillance drone — would be grounded.

The contractors also took proprietary software and weapons systems with them. They physically removed our helicopter missile-defense system. Access to the software that we relied on to track our vehicles, weapons and personnel also disappeared.

It’s just remarkable that contractors removed software and weapons systems from the Afghan army as they left. Remember, U.S. generals constantly talked about the strength of the Afghan forces, but analysts knew that its air force - on which it depended - would fall apart without contractors. The generals probably hadn’t really thought about the logistical problems of what dependence on contracting means. It’s just stunning that NATO forces would be trying to stand up an independent Afghan army, even as NATO contractors disarmed that army due to contracting arrangements.

I suspect the problem isn’t simply related to Afghanistan, because these kinds of problems are not isolated to the Afghan army. Last month, I noted that American soldiers are constantly complaining that bad contracting terms prevent them from fixing and using their own equipment, just as Apple stops consumers from repairing or tinkering with their iPhones. In 2019, Marine Elle Ekman noted that these problems are pervasive in the U.S. military.

Besides the broken generator in South Korea, I remembered working at a maintenance unit in Okinawa, Japan, watching as engines were packed up and shipped back to contractors in the United States for repairs because “that’s what the contract says.” The process took months.

With every engine sent back, Marines lost the opportunity to practice the skills they might need one day on the battlefield, where contractor support is inordinately expensive, unreliable or nonexistent…

While a broken generator or tactical vehicle may seem like small issues, the implications are much larger when a combat ship or a fighter jet needs to be fixed. What happens when those systems break somewhere with limited communications or transportation? Will the Department of Defense get stuck in the mud because of a warranty?

No one is invading the U.S., so these problems aren’t immediately obvious to most of us. Yet, with the collapse of the Afghan army, now we see an example of what happens when a military is too dependent on contractors, and that support system is removed (which adversaries could do to the U.S. military if they pursue certain strategies.) It turns out that the cost of not being able to repair your own equipment is losing wars.

More fundamentally, the people who are in charge of the governing institutions in our society are simply divorced from the underlying logistics of what makes them work. Everything, from the Boeing 737 Max to the opioid epidemic to the waste inside most big corporations to war, has been McKinsey-ified. And it’s all covered up with moral outrage, partisanship and culture warring, public relations, and management wisdom bullshit.

I’ll finish on a note of optimism. This loss in Afghanistan, while hugely embarrassing, could serve as a wake-up call. After the loss in Vietnam, a group of military officers, led by John Boyd, one of the greatest American military strategists in U.S. history, created a military reform movement, to change the way the Pentagon developed and used weapons, and they made enormous progress in restructuring key parts of the defense establishment. (One of the members of Boyd’s “Fighter Mafia,” Pierre Sprey, the man responsible for the remarkable A-10 Warthog, just passed away.) Similarly, the British, after losing the American Revolution, radically reformed their corrupt and antiquated systems of governance. Losing wars is a great spur to reform. It means that we as a society get to look at ourselves honestly. We may choose not to act on what we see, but we do in fact have the opportunity. And that’s not nothing.

UPDATE: I'd like to apologize to Whitney Kessel. She is no longer at the Arkin Group. After a stint at Palantir, she ended up at Morgan Stanley, where she is now the Head of Cyber Event Management for North America, which is not at all a highly paid fake job full of make work.

Tyler Durden Mon, 08/30/2021 - 23:00
Published:8/30/2021 10:14:06 PM
[Middle Column] Bookstore bans Morano’s anti-Green New Deal book: Conservative conference cancels book signings after bookseller balks at ‘Green Fraud’

Green Fraud: Why the Green New Deal Is Even Worse Than You Think

Steamboat Institute CEO and Chairwoman Jennifer Schubert-Akin said organizers concluded that “either you’re going to sell all of our books, or you’re going to sell none of our books.” ...  “Steamboat Institute is traditionally proud to partner with local bookstores to sell the latest compelling books by Freedom Conference speakers at the event,” she said in a statement. “Yet we will never allow partner bookstores to censor by picking and choosing which speaker books they sell based on their political preferences. We look forward to working with local bookstores committed to robust and open debate at our future events.”

Off the Beaten Path, the Steamboat Springs bookstore, declined to comment on its refusal to offer “Green Fraud,” but Mr. Bruneau cited an email from the company saying it was unwilling to be “associated with a title that disputes the reality of climate change." “They said, ‘Look, Colorado’s wildfires, we can’t sell this, we can’t give credence to this belief,’” Mr. Bruneau said. “So Jennifer said, ‘We don’t support censorship, we can’t accept your services.’ They still wanted to come but they wouldn’t sell that one book.”

#

Reality Check: Colorado WILDFIRES NOT MORE SEVERE since 1800s, says ‘massive’ University of Colorado study reveals – Funded by NSF &

STUDY: HUMANS, NOT 'GLOBAL WARMING', SPARKED ALMOST ALL OF CALIFORNIA’S WILDFIRES

Flashback: Mark Steyn on Amazon being pressured to cancel Morano’s ‘Green Fraud’ book: ‘The warm-mongers are opting for their preferred method of disposal – get ’em canceled’

Published:8/30/2021 5:39:23 PM
[Politics] Day of the Unicorn Comes for Politico As feats of publishing entrepreneurship go, it's one for the record books, or at least the business school case studies Politico, a Washington-centric mostly online news organization founded in 2007, will be sold to the German publisher Axel Springer for a reported $1 billion. If that sum is even close to being accurate, it's staggering. Time magazine was sold in 2018 to Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff for $190 million. The Washington Post was sold to Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250... Published:8/30/2021 1:35:30 PM
[Markets] Mauldin: Perfect Storms Are Brewing Mauldin: Perfect Storms Are Brewing

Authored by John Mauldin via MauldinEconomics.com,

Having been Puerto Rico residents for almost three years now, Shane and I have learned a few things about living in the tropics. In Dallas, we didn’t often think about hurricanes, though we did have tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Ditto for earthquakes. North Texas is pretty stable, geologically speaking.

Now hurricanes and earthquakes are part of normal life. We expect them to happen, and indeed they have happened since we came here. They weren’t too bad but could have been much worse. So, we have plans and precautions to deal with them, as does everyone else here. Last year, a hurricane came through and decided to drench the eastern part of the island and simply miss us. We had no wind or rain. But we were prepared, as were our neighbors. It’s just part of life. But then that same storm tragically devastated the Bahamas.

I was thinking about this in connection with my Sandpile letter, which we again reposted recently. Like those fingers of instability, our ability to predict the weather is far less than perfect. Technology can tell us when hurricanes/tropical storms are out there and the general direction they are moving. It’s still far from certain exactly where they will make landfall, and how strong they will be at the time. They can leave one corner of this small island devastated and the rest untouched.

So, the prudent course is to prepare for the worst, hope for the best—a trite saying but in this case it’s true. We would rather be overprepared than caught by surprise.

Investors face hurricanes, too, with even more uncertainty. The storm could hit someone else, or go back out to sea and dissipate. Do you bet everything that it will? I don’t.

Right now, several potentially big storms are brewing. They could be minor annoyances or catastrophic disasters, or anywhere in between.

I truly hope they all resolve with minimal fuss. But they may not. They could even combine into a perfect storm of even greater magnitude… so now is the time to prepare.

Hitting the Ceiling

I’ll describe several related but independent problems. The first one is US federal debt, which is approaching its limits. Literally so; the statutory debt ceiling, which Congress suspended for two years back in 2019, took effect again this month. The Treasury is now shuffling books to buy some time but we will reach the $28.5 trillion limit in the next few weeks.

Unlike the Federal Reserve, Treasury can’t create money. It manages the government’s cash flow by issuing new debt as needed to pay for the spending Congress approves. It has discretion on when to borrow, and in what amounts, so “cash on hand” can vary a lot. Treasury built up a huge cash balance last year and has been drawing it down in 2021, as this Gavekal chart shows.

Source: Gavekal Research

The blue line is Treasury’s “target balance” needed to cover the spending it knows will occur. Notice that the target balance increased rather dramatically at the beginning of the COVID crisis and it has not changed. The actual balance (red line) plunged this year and is now almost $500 billion below the target, and headed lower still.

The “easy” solution is for Congress to raise the debt ceiling, which obviously doesn’t restrain actual spending, and may actually increase spending by letting them postpone more effective reforms. But, as with everything else these days, that collides with other issues and becomes a political fight.

Congress is presently considering two infrastructure bills, the smaller of which has modest Republican support and is actually what we mostly think of as infrastructure, plus a much larger “human infrastructure” plan the Democrats will try to pass on their own. It includes universal preschool, free community college, and subsidized long-term healthcare as well as a host of other government benefits.

It is not clear the second bill can pass, as some moderate Democrats are not fully aboard. They could, and I suspect will, attach a debt ceiling increase to that bill. But regardless, they have to somehow modify the debt ceiling soon. If they don’t, some government spending will have to stop and Treasury debt holders may miss interest payments—the kind of thing that would constitute “default” for a private borrower.

The chances of this actually happening are small, but very real. Having been through this what seems like a dozen times, there will be lots of drama and then the debt ceiling will be increased.

All this has market impact even if ultimately resolved. Government spending and borrowing is critical to bond market liquidity. When this last happened in 2019, the related liquidity crisis forced the Fed to end its attempt to normalize policy. The FOMC decided in an October 4, 2019, secret meeting, unrevealed until a week later, to permanently add reserves to the system.

As I said at the time, “We have reached a point where the Fed believes it must have nuclear weapons just to swat flies.” A few months later COVID came along and the Fed enthusiastically fired those nukes. That brings us to the next problem.

Choose Your Poison

This week is the Fed’s Jackson Hole retreat—again virtual this year, but still an important policy decision point. Powell’s Friday morning speech was basically a nonevent. He did signal the initial taper could begin this year if all goes well. The speech was uber-dovish overall. Is the Fed really going to take its foot off the gas when Congress may ensure Fed support is needed more than ever? Hard to believe.

A further complication, as I discussed recently in Policy Errors Have Consequences, is the Fed’s own leadership is uncertain. Powell’s term as chair expires soon. President Biden still hasn’t announced whether he will renominate Powell or appoint someone else, although, as Peter Boockvar said, this speech did sound like someone campaigning to retain his job.

Treasury Secretary (and former Fed chair) Janet Yellen wants Powell to stay. This week we learned that much of the White House staff also wants Powell reappointed. While progressive Democrats wanted Biden to appoint Lael Brainard or another uber-dove, Powell increasingly seems like the likely choice.

Why suddenly shift back to Powell? The highly connected Harald Malmgren has a theory, stated succinctly in a recent tweet.

Source: Twitter

Read that a few times to let the implications sink in. Then remember this year’s recovery depended heavily on massive fiscal spending—stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, etc. The bipartisan infrastructure bills, while massive, will be spread over years and have less immediate effect. And if the White House now believes the second infrastructure bill’s passage is in jeopardy, then it is certainly worried about next year’s economic prospects.

In that case, they need a credible dove in charge at the Fed. Powell fits that bill, with the understanding he is to keep the economy moving even if Congress is paralyzed. How would he do that? Beats me. Monetary stimulus doesn’t have the kind of direct impact fiscal stimulus does. Powell himself (and before him Greenspan, Bernanke, and even Yellen to some degree) has been saying so for years. That raises the possibility of not just continued or additional QE, but other as-yet-untried stimulus tools.

This would mean we are between a rock and a hard place. Passage of the two infrastructure bills would push federal debt even higher than the already-unsustainable level. But if not passing those bills will make the Fed go nuclear on steroids (sorry, I lack suitable metaphors to describe all this), an outcome I predicted we would see a few years down the road, then it just means the monetization process begins earlier.

Stimulus, Inflation, and Monetization

Although it is not portrayed this way in the headlines, Nancy Pelosi actually did compromise. The so-called “Unbreakable Nine” (which is now theoretically 10) simply agreed to allow a discussion about the human infrastructure bill in return for a “date certain” vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Which is basically exactly what happened in the Senate. Now here’s where it gets tricky.

First, the current cost of the human infrastructure bill is $3.5 trillion. Kind of, sort of. Rather than the normal 10-year projections, they are projecting some of the spending for five years since it theoretically could expire. If you project those same programs out over 10 years, the bill’s cost grows to well over $5 trillion. As Milton Friedman so wittily observed, “There is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program.”

Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) says she won’t vote for a $3.5 trillion bill. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) has said the same. My sources tell me the tax increases required to pay for such a bill are the key sticking points. What we don’t know is how much of a tax increase the key players will accept. Is it a 3–4% increase in corporate taxes? A 5% increase in capital gains? Higher capital gains rates for those making over $400,000? We simply don’t know. But my educated suspicion is the tax increases will dictate the ultimate size and content of the bill.

Getting the votes won’t be easy. The House progressives want a guarantee on the human infrastructure bill before they support the bipartisan bill, and it doesn’t have enough Republican support to pass without them. Nor can either bill pass without the moderate House Democrats, who are seeking re-election in Republican-leaning districts. 

There is literally no telling what will happen in the next month. I see a reasonable chance both bills pass, with the “human infrastructure” bill significantly reduced, but also a nontrivial chance neither passes. Both sides have begun digging in their heels.

The immediate consequence is a little clearer. I think the Fed will wait until Congress somehow resolves these spending and debt ceiling issues before it makes any taper decisions, even though Powell says they may start tapering this year. The White House may be waiting as well before announcing Powell’s reappointment, even though he seems to have the necessary support.

All this means a month or two of uncertainty and guesswork, potentially sparking some market fireworks. And next year? Choose your poison. None of the likely outcomes are good for the economy. Though, oddly, more QE might boost asset prices.

But in one asset class, we have another problem brewing.

Supply Surge

One of the pandemic’s more surprising effects has been a boom in housing prices and home construction. It’s partly logical; in an era where we spend more time at home, cities have less allure and people want space. Some urban residents are moving to suburbs and rural areas, driving up prices. But that’s not all.

For one, we have a long-term trend in effect. The Millennial generation is forming households and needs starter homes. This has been the case for some time, as my friend Barry Habib has been saying (see Tiny Housing Bubbles) and will go on several more years.

Add to that the pandemic stimuli. The Fed’s mortgage bond purchases have essentially capped mortgage rates at a historically low level. But probably more important, cheap borrowing and low yields elsewhere incentivize investors to buy/build homes for rental, generating higher yields than they can get from other fixed income instruments. This is just another form of private credit, and with a little leverage can produce high single-digit yields, for which there is clearly high demand.

And on top of that, the various forbearance programs have kept homes that would otherwise be for sale (voluntarily or via foreclosure) off the market. This reduced supply helps boost prices. The effect has been significant... and it’s about to end.

My good friend (and fellow Puerto Rico resident) Harry Dent pointed out last week that almost 1.8 million homes are now in forbearance. These owners will have to resume making payments soon. Some will be able to do so, others won’t. What next? Here’s Harry.

Zillow estimates that 25% of these forbearances will end up on the market, as the owners cannot sustain their mortgages when they are forced to pay them again, but they allow that number could be as high as 50%.

In my scenario, the number starts around 25%, adding to recession pressures that then rapidly turn that number to 50% and ultimately to more like 100% before the recession bottoms by late 2023 or so. [JM: Clearly Harry is more bearish on the economy that I am, but he does have a point.]

…The point is this: Home prices are about to peak, as sales have fallen 23% already since January due to rising unaffordability. Home prices will start to fall with rising inventory, which mostly will hit by the end of November. Falling home prices and sales guarantee we’ll get a recession, as housing has been the strongest recovery sector as a result of extremely low mortgage rates from the unprecedented stimulus that has gone on for 13 years.

Here’s the chart from Zillow via Harry:

That’s scary enough, but it’s not all. Many homeowners who haven’t sold, and have no desire to, have used this time to refinance and in some cases pull cash equity out of their homes. Similarly, homebuilders and contractors have added debt to buy properties, materials, and equipment. All this added leverage could become problematic in a recession/falling home price environment. And we know how debt problems cascade through the economy.

Now, recognize this problem could blow up just as the Fed is trying to either normalize or get more aggressive, and Congress is unable to agree on any kind of helpful response. It’s a bit like living on a tropical island and seeing on TV that three different hurricanes are all headed your way. I can assure you, it won’t be a good feeling. It might make Shane and me get on an airplane and show up on your doorstep.

But Wait, There’s More

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Those of us of a certain age remember the late-night infomercials by the legendary Ron Popeil, who passed away last month. His classic line was, “But wait, there’s more!” As if all of the above weren’t concerning enough, there’s more.

  1. As of Friday morning, five out of five regional Fed presidents have come out in favor of tapering earlier than waiting till next year. Most indicated they are worried about inflation.

  2. And inflation is a problem. Taiwan Semiconductor just raised their prices 20%. Hong Kong/LA container prices are almost doubled since the beginning of the year, and 4X since last summer.

Source: Peter Boockvar

Inflation (CPI) is running well north of 5% and looks to be picking up steam. The longer the Fed goes without tapering and raising rates, the longer “transitory” inflation will last. I do not believe this Fed will make the mistake that Arthur Burns did in the 1970s by doing nothing and then allowing inflation to get to 10% plus.

  1. Thus, Powell will be under pressure to begin tapering sooner than the market thinks. A slowing economy and rising inflation? Can you say stagflation boys and girls? Do you want to run for reelection in 2022 on that premise? How do you think the market will react? Me too.

  2. Long COVID, a very debilitating disease that now affects more than 15 million Americans, could see as many as 1 ½ million Americans on disability which is almost 1% of the work force. GDP is simply the number of workers times productivity. If you reduce the number of workers without raising productivity, GDP will drop.

  3. Consumer spending came in weak Friday morning. Part of it is COVID and part of it is stimulus is beginning to go away.

I wrote pre-COVID that I thought the 2020s would see much closer to 1% real GDP annual growth than the 2% we have been experiencing for two decades. Debt pressure is inexorable. Then COVID came along and simply blew out all the prior debt projections. I’ve said we were looking at $50 trillion by 2030. I now think it will be at least another $5 trillion more and maybe double that. I don’t believe the bond market can handle that by itself.

The same logic that made me project early in the last decade that the Bank of Japan would monetize Japanese debt at levels nobody then thought possible makes me think the Federal Reserve will do the same thing. I firmly believe a $25 trillion+ Federal Reserve balance sheet is likely by the end of this decade.

That level of balance sheet debt, which will be duplicated percentagewise in Europe, means the developed world, including the US, will be lucky to grow 1% by the end of the decade.

That’s not a disaster, as both Europe and Japan are wonderful places to live. But it means traditional investment portfolios, especially passive index funds and bond funds, are not going to perform anywhere nearly as well as they have in the past. You are going to need to develop a completely different approach to investing if you want to see your portfolio grow on average in the high single digits.

On the investment side of my business (separate from Mauldin Economics) we look for strategies that will still work in this low-growth world. If you want to discuss some of these opportunities just click here. I guarantee you it’s worth a phone call to learn what’s in the Mauldin Kitchen. You don’t have to take a full menu—you might find some ingredients which will please your investing palate. (In this regard, I am chief economist and an investment advisor representative of CMG Wealth.)

Normalization, Travel, and Booster Shots

I’m not certain what “future normal” looks like, but it is not going to look like 2019. I think my life of 200–250,000 airline miles a year is over. I might not see 100,000 again. Many of those miles were for international speeches, and it will be years before they return, if ever.

As Mike Roizen and I keep saying to each other, this is just a damn tricksy virus. He was telling me earlier this summer the boosters would be after six months. And now it gets announced this week. Hopefully I get mine in October. COVID may be around for more than a few years, with booster shots somewhat like the annual flu shot. We’ll learn to live with the reality and get on with our lives. I used to travel with Theraflu packets in my briefcase as a precaution. Still do. I am not certain what I will carry in the future, but I do plan to get on planes.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Mon, 08/30/2021 - 13:55
Published:8/30/2021 1:03:09 PM
[Middle Column] Watch: Morano featured on C-SPAN’s Book TV in 30 min interview: Green Fraud: Why The Green New Deal Is Even Worse Than You Think

Morano on C-SPAN's Book TV

 

C-SPAN offers Morano's Green Fraud book for sale here. - C-SPAN explains: "Your purchase helps support C-SPAN. C-SPAN.org offers links to books featured on the C-SPAN networks to make it simpler for viewers to purchase them. C-SPAN has agreements with retailers that share a small percentage of your purchase price with our network."

Published:8/23/2021 2:00:43 AM
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