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Google urged to halt cloud-computing project in Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns

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Category: dealsSource: nytMay 26th, 2021

How Evergrande Became Too Big To Fail And Why Beijing Will Have To Bail It Out

How Evergrande Became Too Big To Fail And Why Beijing Will Have To Bail It Out While the world is obsessing with the fate of Evergrande, and more importantly when, or if, Beijing will bail it out, another just as interesting question is how did the company many call "China's Lehman" get to the point of no return and become a global systematic risk. For a fascinating look into how we got here, we turn our readers' attention to a recent article from Caixin titled "How Evergrande Could Turn Into ‘China’s Lehman Brothers'," and which provides one of the most comprehensive insights into why Beijing will have to, even if it is kicking and screaming, bail out Evergrande which, at its core, is just one giant shadow-banking black box whose time has finally run out. * * * For the past two months, hundreds of people have been gathering at the 43-floor Zhuoyue Houhai Center in Shenzhen, where China Evergrande Group’s headquarters occupy 20 floors. They held banners demanding repayment of overdue loans and financial products. Police with riot shields had to be on site to keep things under control. The demonstrators are construction workers at the property developer’s housing projects, suppliers providing construction materials and investors in the company’s wealth management products (WMPs). From paint suppliers to decoration and construction companies, Evergrande owes more than 800 billion yuan ($124 billion) due within one year, while it has only a 10th of that amount of cash on hand. As of the end of June, Evergrande had nearly 2 trillion yuan ($309 billion) of debts on its books, plus an unknown amount of off-books debt. The property giant is on the verge of a dramatic debt restructuring or even bankruptcy, many institutions believe. A bankruptcy would amount to a financial tsunami, or as some analysts put it, “China’s Lehman Brothers.” The venerable American investment bank’s 2008 collapse helped trigger a global financial crisis. Certainly Evergrande, one of China’s three biggest developers, has a giant footprint in China. Unfinished residential buildings at Evergrande Oasis, a housing complex developed by Evergrande Group, in Luoyang, China September 16, 2021 Its liabilities are equivalent to about 2% of China’s GDP. It has more than 200,000 employees, who themselves and many of their families have invested billions of yuan in the company’s WMPs. The company has more than 800 projects under construction, more than half of them halted due to its cash crunch. There are thousands of upstream and downstream companies that rely on Evergrande for business, creating more than 3.8 million jobs every year. Like many of China’s “too big to fail” conglomerates, Evergrande’s crisis has fueled speculation over whether the government will step in for a rescue. Several state-owned enterprises, including Shenzhen Talents Housing Group Co. Ltd. and Shenzhen Investment Ltd., both controlled by the Shenzhen State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), are in talks with Evergrande on its Shenzhen projects, according to people close to the talks. But so far, no deals have been reached. In a statement last week, Evergrande denied rumors that it will go bankrupt. While the developer faces unprecedented difficulties, it is fulfilling its responsibilities and is doing everything possible to restore normal operations and protect the legitimate rights and interests of customers, according to a statement on its website. The company hired financial advisers to explore “all feasible solutions” to ease its cash crunch, warning that there’s no guarantee the company will meet its financial obligations. It has repeatedly signaled that it will sell equity and assets including but not limited to investment properties, hotels and other properties and attract investors to increase the equity of Evergrande and its affiliates. Growth on borrowed money Over the years, Evergrande has faced liquidity pressure several times, but every time it dodged the bullet. This time, the crisis of cash flow and trust is unprecedented. Evergrande shares in Hong Kong plummeted to a 10-year low. Its onshore bonds fell to what investors call defaulted bond level. All three global credit rating companies and one domestic rating company have downgraded Evergrande’s debt. For many years, Chinese developers were driven by the “three carriages” — high turnover, high gross profit and high leverage. Developers use borrowed money to acquire land, collect presale cash before projects even start, and then borrow more money to invest in new projects. In 2018, Evergrande reported record profit of 72 billion yuan, more than double the previous year’s net. But behind that, it spent more than 100 billion yuan a year on interest. Even in good years, the company usually had negative operating cash flow, with not enough cash on hand to cover short-term loans due within a year with and presale revenue not enough to pay suppliers. In addition to borrowing from banks, Evergrande also borrows from executives and employees. When developers seek funds from banks, lenders often require personal investments from the developers’ executives as a risk-control measure, a former employee at Evergrande’s asset management department told Caixin. “At times like this, Evergrande would have an internal fund-raising campaign,” the manager said. “Either the executives would pay out of their own pockets, or they would set a goal for each division.” One crowdfunding product issued to executives was called “Chaoshoubao,” which means “super return treasure.” In 2017, Evergrande tried to obtain project financing from state-owned China Citic Bank in Shenzhen, which required personal investment from Evergrande’s executives. The company then issued Chaoshoubao to employees, promising 25% annual interest and redemption of principal and interest within two years. The minimum investment was 3 million yuan. China Citic Bank eventually agreed to provide 40 billion yuan of acquisition funds to Evergrande. In 2020, Chen Xuying, former vice president of China Citic Bank and head of the bank’s Shenzhen branch from 2012 to 2018, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for accepting bribes after issuing loans. A senior executive at Evergrande said he personally invested 1.5 million yuan and mobilized his subordinates to invest 1.5 million yuan into Chaoshoubao. Some employees would even borrow money to invest in the product because the 25% return was much higher than loan rates. When the Chaoshoubao was due for redemption in 2019, the company asked employees who bought the product to agree to a one-year extension for repayment. Then in 2020, the company asked for another one-year extension. One investor said buyers received an annualized return of 4% to 5% in the last four years, far below the 25% promised return. When Evergrande’s cash flow crisis was exposed, the company chose to repay principal only to current executives. From late August to early September, the company repaid current executives and employees about 2 billion yuan but still owed 200 million yuan to former employees, including Ren Zeping, former chief economist of Evergrande who joined Soochow Securities Co. in March. Evergrande’s wealth division also sells WMPs to the public. Most of these WMPs offer a return of 5% to 10%, with a minimum investment of 100,000 yuan, the former employee at Evergrande’s asset management department said. As the return is higher than WMPs typically sold at banks, many of Evergrande’s employees bought them and persuaded their families and friends to invest, an employee said. Usually, a 20 million yuan WMP could be sold out within five days, the employee said. The company also sells WMPs to construction partners. Evergrande would require construction companies to buy WMPs whenever it needed to pay them, a former employee at Evergrande’s construction division told Caixin. “If the construction companies are owed 1 million or 2 million yuan, we would ask them to buy 100,000–200,000 yuan of WMPs, or about 10% of their receivables,” the former employee said. Although it was not mandatory for construction companies to buy WMPs, they often would do so for the sake of maintaining a good relationship with Evergrande, the former employee said. In addition, Evergrande property owners were also buyers of the company’s WMPs. About 40 billion yuan of the WMPs are now due. “It is difficult for Evergrande to make all of the repayments at once at this moment,” said Du Liang, general manager of Evergrande’s wealth division. Evergrande initially proposed to impose lengthy repayment delays, with investments of 100,000 yuan and above to be repaid in five years. After heated protests by investors, the company tweaked its plan last week, offering three options. Investors can accept cash installments, purchase Evergrande’s properties in any city at a discount, or waive investors’ payables on residential units they have purchased. Some investors opposed the “property for debt” option, as many projects of Evergrande have been halted and there is a risk of unfinished projects in the future. “The proposals are insincere,” a petition signed by some Guangdong investors said. “It’s like buying nonperforming assets with a premium.” The petition urged the government to freeze Evergrande’s accounts and assets and demanded cash repayment of all principal and interest. Some investors chose to accept the payment scheme proposed by Evergrande. They selected Evergrande projects located in hot cities in the hope of making up for losses by resale in the future. As Evergrande owed large amounts to construction companies, more than 500 of Evergrande’s 800-plus projects across the country are now halted. The company has at least several hundred thousand units that have been presold and not delivered. It needs at least 100 billion yuan to complete construction and deliver the units, Caixin learned. Whether and how to repay WMP investors or deliver housing is Evergrande’s dilemma. Debt to construction partners and suppliers In August, the construction company that was contracted to build Evergrande’s Taicang cultural tourism city in Nantong, Jiangsu province, announced the halt of the project due to bills unpaid by Evergrande. The company, Jiangsu Nantong Sanjian Construction Group Co. Ltd., said it put 500 million yuan of its own funds into the project and Evergrande paid it less than 290 million yuan. Sanjian has other construction contracts with Evergrande and its subsidiaries. As of September, Evergrande owes the Nantong company about 20 billion yuan. As of August 2020, Evergrande had 8,441 upstream and downstream companies it was working with. If the flow of Evergrande cash stops, the normal operation of these companies will be disrupted, and some would even face the risk of bankruptcy. In Ezhou, Hubei province, five of Evergrande’s projects have been halted for more than a month, and it owes contractors about 500 million yuan. “Housing delivery involves not only hundreds of thousands of families, but also local social stability,” a banker said. The housing authorities in Guangdong province are coordinating with Evergrande and its construction partners, trying to resume construction, the banker said. Evergrande relies heavily on commercial paper to pay construction partners and suppliers. Among payments it made to Sanjian, only 8% was in cash and the rest in commercial paper. Initially, the commercial paper borrowings were mostly six-month notes with annualized interest rates of 15%–16%. Now most carry interest rates of more than 20%. Holders of such commercial paper can sell the notes at a discount to raise cash. In 2017–18, the discount rate on Evergrande paper could reach 15%–20%. Since May 2021, the few Evergrande notes that could still be sold have been discounted as much as 55%, according to a person familiar with such transactions. For small and medium-sized suppliers, holding a large amount of overdue Evergrande notes is a burden too heavy to bear. In recent months, a number of suppliers sued Evergrande for breach of contract but often settled the cases. A lawyer who represented Evergrande in related cases told Caixin that many plaintiffs chose to negotiate with Evergrande while fighting in court. Evergrande also offered a “property for debt” option to its commercial paper holders. The company said it’s in talks with suppliers and construction contractors to delay payment or offset debt with properties. From July 1 to Aug. 27, Evergrande sold properties to suppliers and contractors to offset a total of 25 billion yuan of debt. Selling assets, but not land Meanwhile, Evergrande has been offloading its assets to raise cash. Its biggest assets are its land reserves. As of June 30, it had 778 land reserve projects with a total planned floor area of 214 million square meters and an original value of 456.8 billion yuan. Additionally, it has 146 urban redevelopment projects. In the past three months, Evergrande has been in talks with China Overseas Land and Investment Ltd., China Vanke Co. Ltd. and China Jinmao Holdings Group Ltd. for possible asset sales. Shenzhen and Guangzhou SASACs have arranged for several state-owned enterprises to conduct due diligence on Evergrande’s urban redevelopment projects, a person close to the matter said. Evergrande has approached every possible buyer in the market, the person said. However, no deals have been reached. Several real estate developers that have been in contact with Evergrande told Caixin that while some of Evergrande’s projects look good on the surface, there are complex creditors’ rights that make them difficult to dispose of. Some potential buyers have said they could consider a debt-assumption acquisition, but Evergrande was reluctant to sell at a loss, Caixin learned. At an emergency staff meeting Sept. 10, the wealth management general manager Du said in a speech that most of Evergrande’s land reserve is not for sale, reflecting the position of his boss, founder and Chairman Xu Jiayin. “In China, land reserves are the most valuable assets,” Du said. “This is Evergrande’s biggest asset and last resort. “For example, for a land parcel, Evergrande’s acquisition cost is 1 billion yuan, and the land itself is worth 2 billion yuan, but the buyer may only offer 300 million yuan,” Du said. “If we sold at a loss, we would have no capital to revive.” For his part, Xu maintained that Evergrande could repay all its debts and recover as long as it turns land into houses and sells them. But even if Evergrande can quickly sell its houses, the revenue would be far from enough to pay down debt. The chance that Evergrande won’t be able to pay interest due in the third quarter is 99.99%, estimated by a banker whose employer has billions of yuan of exposure to the company. As of the end of June, Evergrande had total assets of 2.38 trillion yuan and total liabilities of 1.97 trillion yuan. Of the nearly 2 trillion yuan of debt, interest-bearing debt was 571.7 billion yuan, down about 145 billion yuan from the end of 2020. The decrease in interest-bearing debt was mostly achieved by deferred payables to suppliers. In addition to the 571.7 billion yuan of interest-bearing debt on its books, it’s not a secret that developers like Evergrande have huge off-balance sheet debt. But the amount at Evergrande is not known. In the early stage of projects, developers need to invest a lot of money, which could significantly increase the debt on the balance sheet. Companies often place these debts off their balance sheet through a variety of means. After the pre-sale of the project, or even after the cash flow of the project turns positive, these debts would be consolidated into the balance sheet in the form of equity transfer, according to a property industry insider. For example, 40 billion yuan of acquisition funds Evergrande obtained from China Citic Bank were invested in multiple projects. Among them, 10.7 billion yuan was used by Shenzhen Liangyang Industrial Co. Ltd. to acquire Shenzhen Duoji Investment Co. Ltd. As Evergrande doesn’t have an equity relationship with the two companies, this item was not required to be consolidated into Evergrande’s financial statement. Evergrande used leveraged funds to acquire equities in 10 projects, and none of them were included in its financial statement, the prospectus of its Chaoshoubao shows. Evergrande has sold equity in subsidiaries to strategic investors and promised to buy back the stakes if certain milestones can’t be reached in the future. Such equity sales are actually a form of borrowing, too. In March, Evergrande sold a stake in its online home and car sales platform Fangchebao for HK$16.4 billion ($2.1 billion) in advance of a planned U.S. share sale by the unit. If the online sales unit doesn’t complete an initial public offering on Nasdaq or any other stock exchange within 12 months after the completion of the stake sale, the unit is required to repurchase the shares at a 15% premium. Evergrande’s hidden debts also include unpaid payments to acquire equities. Dozens of small property companies have sued Evergrande demanding cancellation of their equity sales agreements with the company because Evergrande failed to pay them. They are Evergrande’s partners in local development projects. Evergrande usually paid them 30% down for equities but declined to pay the rest even after the project was completed, according to the lawsuits. A plaintiff’s lawyer told Caixin that Evergrande’s project subsidiaries don’t want to go sour with local partners, but they have no money to pay as sales from the projects have been transferred to the parent company. A total of 49 of Evergrande’s wholly owned local subsidiaries have been sued since April, according to Tianyancha, a database of publicly available corporate information. Evergrande also owes land transfer fees to some local governments. Some 20 Evergrande affiliates have not yet made payments to the city government of Lanzhou, the capital of Northwest China’s Gansu province, according to a list of 41 such firms issued in July by the city’s natural resources department. A potential default by Evergrande could spread to markets outside China as it has huge, high-interest offshore bonds. Some of its offshore bonds carry interest rates as high as 15%, a person close to the Hong Kong capital market said. UBS estimates that $19 billion of Evergrande’s liabilities are made up of outstanding offshore bonds. Evergrande has been frantically selling properties at discounts this year. In late May, it offered certain homebuyers 30% to 40% off if they paid entirely in cash. In the first half, the company reported 356 billion yuan of contracted sales, slightly higher than 349 billion yuan for the same period last year. Average selling prices in the first six months declined 11.2%. Meanwhile, payables increased 14.7% to 951 billion yuan, and sales and marketing expenses increased 30% to 17.8 billion yuan. In response to the market environment, the company increased sales commissions and marketing expenses, the company said. Compared with its competitors, Evergrande has higher capital and human costs but lower selling prices, an industry participant said. “How can it make money?” the person said. The developer reported a 29% slide in profit for the first half. Its 10.5 billion yuan of profit mainly reflected an 18.5 billion yuan gain from the sale of some shares and marked-to-market holding in internet unit Henten Networks. It reported a loss in its core property business of 4 billion yuan. Evergrande’s extremely high debt ratio, high financing cost and repeated delays in payments to suppliers, partners and local government show that its liquidity has always been tight, but on the other hand, the fact that it has survived years under this model indicates that it has always been able to generate money, a veteran investor said. Now everyone is watching whether it can dodge the bullet once again. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/20/2021 - 22:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021

P&G Faces The Wrath Of Its ESG-Minded Investors

The 2022 proxy season is basically upon us but the momentum of 2021 ensures there will be no shortage of talking points. Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Our Proxy Voting Season Snapshot 2021, released earlier this week by Proxy Insight Online (but free to download by all Insightia readers, subscriber or not), distills […] The 2022 proxy season is basically upon us but the momentum of 2021 ensures there will be no shortage of talking points. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Our Proxy Voting Season Snapshot 2021, released earlier this week by Proxy Insight Online (but free to download by all Insightia readers, subscriber or not), distills some of the seismic changes that we saw last year. Support For ESG Increases Among these, ESG ranked most prominent. On average, support for environmental proposals from all institutional investors disclosing their voting increased by 4.2 percentage points. But for the five largest investors, the average increase was over 13 percentage points, led by BlackRock at nearly 38 percentage points and Vanguard on 24 percentage points. Similarly, support for shareholder proposals on the hottest social topic of the past year, diversity and equal employment opportunity, were up by 30 percentage points. If you've been following our coverage – or any ESG commentary over the past few months – you'll know how hot these topics have been and how keen most institutional investors have been to talk about them. You may not have known exactly how these investors voted at each company, although if you subscribe to Proxy Insight Online you now will. Where your proxy solicitors will really earn their keep is on some of the more traditional resolutions. Three of the five largest investors were tougher on director elections and "say on pay" resolutions. Four of the five showed less alignment on director elections with proxy voting adviser Institutional Shareholder Services this year – the three passive investors below 90%. The Growing Sophistication Of Proxy Voting Voting against compensation or director resolutions has become a more complex affair, as investors incorporate board composition, sustainability metrics, and the impact of the pandemic which have affected a large number of companies, each in their own way. Since most investors have only recently begun incorporating more complicated considerations, it seems logical that their criteria will continue to evolve. And for the activists and their ilk, the data on proxy contest support rates will be worth investigating. Vanguard, State Street, and JPMorgan supported more activist slates on the back of higher volume. BlackRock and Fidelity were tougher on dissidents. As we go into policy update season, where investors communicate their intentions for 2022, the data for the 2021 season will highlight how the growing sophistication of proxy voting works in practice. Expect investors and issuers alike to pore over this data intently. Josh Black, Editor-in-Chief, Insightia Procter & Gamble Faces The Wrath Of Its ESG-Minded Investors Concerns about the fate of individual directors in the path of the ESG juggernaut have been heightened after a director targeted by a group of environmental activists declined to stand for re-election. Procter & Gamble Co (NYSE:PG) is the latest company to face the wrath of its ESG-minded investors, with a coalition urging shareholders to vote against the re-election of director Angela Braly, who has been deemed responsible for "human rights and environmental violations." The campaign, announced August 26 by climate advocacy group Stand.Earth, expressed concern with the "environmental destruction" driven by the S&P 500 consumer goods company's supply chain practices, along with allegations of forced labor and land conflicts. "P&G's operations continue to drive environmental destruction, land grabbing, and human rights violations in its supply chains from Canada to Indonesia," said shareholder activist James McRitchie, in a statement. "Alarmingly, its leadership has shown no sign of making these continued failings a priority. This is why members of P&G's board have to go." P&G's lead director, Angela Braly, and governance and public responsibility committee chair, James McNerney, came under fire for "failing to take responsibility" for these issues, despite a shareholder proposal that sought reporting on efforts to limit deforestation winning 67.7% support at P&G's 2020 annual meeting. The campaign has already made waves, with P&G announcing that McNerney will not stand for re-election at its upcoming October 12 annual meeting. Investors are now focussing their efforts on encouraging fellow shareholders to vote against the re-election of Braly but whether these efforts will bear fruit has yet to be seen. Investors Are Typically Hesitant To Vote Against Directors Despite both environmental concerns and human rights abuses being priority concerns for investors this proxy season, history would suggest that investors are typically hesitant to vote against directors as a way to express their discontent. So far this year, only 0.06% of directors up for election at U.S.-listed companies have failed to win majority support, compared to 0.04% and 0.05% throughout 2019 and 2020, respectively, according to Proxy Insight Online data. Braly's membership of the Exxon Mobil board, although she was not targeted for removal by hedge fund Engine No. 1 in a heavily ESG-flavored proxy contest, has opened her up to attacks by association. "Her past position as chair of a key ExxonMobil committee shows how comfortable she is putting profits over people, and upholding the oil and gas industry's long-running climate denial efforts," Tyson Miller, forest programs director at Stand.Earth, told Insightia in an interview. "It is no surprise Braly has also utterly failed to help P&G address the human rights and environmental violations in its supply chains, despite clear direction from shareholders to address those concerns." Shareholders have kickstarted many similar campaigns this year, urging investors to oppose directors due to ongoing governance failings, which have been subject to mixed results. McDonald's And Electronic Arts In April, the New York City Comptroller and SOC Investment Group urged McDonald's investors to vote against selected directors who failed to implement a "zero reward" policy in cases of sexual misconduct, following former CEO Steve Easterbrook's dismissal for "inappropriate fraternizing" with a subordinate. Despite a formidable number of investors joining the cause, McDonald's board chair Enrique Hernandez and compensation committee chair Richard Lenny still won sufficient support for re-election, receiving 70.2% and 79.5% support, respectively, at the company's May 21 annual meeting, according to Proxy Insight Online data. More recently, in July, SOC Investment Group urged investors to oppose Electronic Arts' (EA) compensation committee members and "say on pay" proposal, citing concerns regarding the excessive use of special awards for executives. EA shareholders had no qualms with voting against the S&P 500 multimedia company's remuneration report, which won just 41.9% support, but compensation committee members Luis Ubiñas (the committee chair) and Leonard Coleman won 79.3% and 86.5% support, respectively. It may be the case that P&G investors are also hesitant to vote against directors, choosing to instead direct their opposition toward executive remuneration, as shareholders in similar circumstances have elected to do in the past. Regardless of the strategy investors choose to implement, the message is clear; shareholders expect companies to demonstrate sufficient oversight of ESG concerns, otherwise voting action will steadily escalate. Rebecca Sherratt, Corporate Governance Editor, Insightia Updated on Sep 24, 2021, 3:43 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkSep 24th, 2021

A New Campaign Asks Facebook Users to Log Off. Will It Have an Impact?

The campaign comes in the wake of a series of damning reports last week from the Wall Street 'Journal' A coalition of advocacy groups is calling on Facebook and Instagram users to log out of both platforms for one day in November to hold the company to account for “irresponsibility,” in a new campaign launched Wednesday. The Facebook Logout campaign takes aim at what it says is the company’s role in a series of recent scandals, including the Jan. 6 insurrection and a pattern of “ignoring disinformation for profit.” The campaign comes in the wake of a series of reports last week in the Wall Street Journal that revealed executives at Facebook knew its photo and video sharing platform Instagram had a negative impact on teen girls’ mental health, that it did little to act on staff reports of trafficking and other human rights violations, and that its executives ignored warnings that a change to content-ranking algorithms boosted divisive content and sensationalism. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The Facebook Logout campaign asks users to pledge to log off from Facebook and Instagram, its photo-sharing subsidiary, for 24 hours on Nov. 10. The campaign has a list of demands, including that CEO Mark Zuckerberg should step down, and that Facebook should immediately halt its “Instagram for Kids” project. It is spearheaded by Kairos, a tech-focused racial justice group. Facebook’s most recent earnings report shows that 98.5% of its revenue comes from its advertising business, which uses reams of personal data about users to predict what kinds of ads they are likely to click on, then sells businesses the opportunity to place those ads. “Companies like Facebook would have us believe that people are simply users of their platform and we should be grateful for the privilege of using Facebook, when in fact the opposite is true,” Kairos’ executive director Mariana Ruiz Fermat told TIME. “Through this campaign, we hope to change the way we think of ourselves as ‘users’ and our relationship to platforms.” The Facebook Logout campaign’s organizers are confident that user action can still have an impact. “Users logging off creates momentum that feeds into the need for greater regulation,” says Rishi Bharwani of Accountable Tech, a Washington-based tech reform advocacy group that is part of the coalition working on the Logout campaign. “These things all reinforce each other and create a groundswell of support for meaningful change.” But in a world where social media is integral to our human relationships, as well as being the primary organizing tool for social activists, can a grassroots boycott of social media ever get off the ground? “Facebook is everywhere. I got up this morning and posted about this campaign on Facebook,” says Jelani Drew-Davi, the Facebook Logout campaign director at Kairos. “The focus of this campaign is showing people power, and showing that we do hold power as Facebook and Instagram users,” Drew-Davi says. “We don’t have to be complacent with whatever Facebook wants to do. Long term, we’re trying to change people’s mindset.” It’s not the first time a campaign has attempted to convince users to drop the social network. Amid backlash to the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in 2018, the hashtag #DeleteFacebook trended online. The company’s stock price fell, but soon recovered. Facebook’s valuation has more than doubled since then, as advertisers continue to spend big money to reach users with targeted ads, even as the company’s reputation takes blow after blow. When advertisers have taken a stand, it has had little impact. During the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, more than 1,000 companies, including Ford and Coca-Cola, temporarily halted buying ads on Facebook after CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to remove a post from President Donald Trump that said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” (The Southern Poverty Law Center said the post “glorifies violence against protesters,” especially protesters of color.) Again Facebook’s stock price dropped but quickly recovered. Ford, Coca-Cola and many of the other advertisers involved in the boycott have since returned to posting ads on the social network. “Black and brown people are the people who are most harmed when tech does things wrong,” Drew-Davi says. “That’s why it’s really important for us to take action from a racial equity lens.” Kairos hopes that the Facebook Logout campaign’s approach will be more effective than past attempts by balancing the symbolic power of a mass log-off while harnessing social media as a tool for collective organizing. “People use Facebook, not only to connect with each other, but also to organize for social change,” Drew-Davi says. “That’s the reason we’re not saying delete your account, or do it right now, even. All we’re asking is: take the pledge and join us later to log off. This is an opportunity to show our collective power.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeSep 22nd, 2021

September Turns Sour: Top ETF Areas of Last Week

Wall Street ended on a negative note last week just the week before that, strengthening the worth of the adage that September is historically the worst month of the year for stocks. Wall Street ended on a negative note last week just the week before that, strengthening the worth of the adage that September is historically the worst month of the year for stocks. The S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq Composite lost about 0.6%, 0.07% and 0.5%, respectively. The S&P 500 is on its way toward its first monthly decline since January. The Russell 2000 only added 0.42% last week.Consumer sentiment missed estimates in early September and hovered near a decade-low as concerns over inflation lingered. Notably, September has an ill reputation for the stock market. According to moneychimp.com, a consensus carried out from 1950 to 2020 has revealed that September ended up offering positive returns in 32 years and negative returns in 39 years, with an average return of negative 0.62%, which is worse than any other month.However, last week was not extremely downbeat on every ground as the oil sector surged and retail sales bounced back. U.S. retail sales gained 0.7% sequentially in August 2021, following an upwardly revised 1.8% drop-off in July and breezing past market expectations of a 0.8% decline, as demand for goods remained strong despite the surge in the Delta variant cases of COVID-19. Back-to-school shopping and child tax credit payments from the government are deemed to be the drivers, per Reuters (read: August Retail Sales Shine: ETFs & Stocks to Win).Oil prices also staged a rally aided by ahost of factors. Most recently, an industry data showed a larger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles. Also, expectations of higher demand thanks to growing vaccine distribution along with a still-dovish Fed boosted hopes of higher oil consumption. Brent hit its highest levels since late July and WTI since early August, per CNBC (read: Sector ETFs to Benefit/Lose as Oil Crosses $70).There was another big event last week. President Biden always had plans for tax hikes. In line with that plan, House Democrats drew a host of tax hikes on corporations and wealthy people to finance the costs associated with the social safety net and climate policy that could touch as much as $3.5 trillion (read: Tax Hike in the Cards? ETFs in Focus).The plan demands top corporate and individual tax rates of 26.5% and 39.6%, respectively, according to a summary released by the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, as quoted on CNBC. The proposal includes a 3% surcharge on individual income above $5 million and a capital gains tax of 25%.Against this backdrop, below we highlight a few ETF areas that were the winning ones last week.ETF Areas in Focus EnergyVaneck Unconventional Oil & Gas ETF FRAK – Up 5.89%Natural Gas ETF First Trust FCG – Up 5.86%As discussed above, oil prices gained last week.“The impact of Hurricane Ida was a lot greater than many anticipated and production in the Gulf of Mexico region might struggle to return until Tropical Storm Nicholas is done punishing the region with torrential rain,” said Edward Moya, senior analyst at OANDA, as quoted on CNBC. Moreover, natural gas prices are heating up on supply crunch ahead of winter. Normally, Arctic Chills give life to this commodity every winter. The cold snap boosts electricity demand across the region, putting focus on natural gas.Technology Simplify Volt Cloud and Cybersecurity Disruption VCLO – Up 4.60%Simplify Volt Fintech Disruption ETF VFIN – Up 2.87%The rise of cloud computing and cybersecurity made the funds winners even in a down week. These products concentrate on those few disruptive companies that are poised to dominate the new era of cloud technology and then enhance the concentrated exposure with options. The ongoing pandemic and the resultant social distancing also favored the funds.CannabisAdvisorshares Pure US Cannabis ETF MSOS – Up 4.29%The fund provides exposure to exchange-listed companies that are active in the cannabis industry. The segment has been hot in Biden’s presidency. There is a rising bet that cannabis may be legalized federally in the Biden presidency.Health CareAlps Medical Breakthroughs ETF SBIO – Up 3.64%The vaccine boost gave a new lease of life to the biotech sector. This fund provides exposure to the companies with one or more drugs in phase II or phase III FDA clinical trials by tracking the S-Network Medical Breakthroughs Index.Shipping Sonicshares Global Shipping ETF BOAT – Up 3.47% The pickup in global economic growth has supported the dry bulk shipping rates. Gradually rising demand across all vessel categories has mainly aided the area and the related fund. The Solactive Global Shipping Index consists of global shipping companies engaged in the maritime transportation of goods and raw materials, including consumer and industrial products, vehicles, dry bulk, crude oil and liquefied natural gas. Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $2.4 trillion by 2028 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases. Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Recommendations from previous editions of this report have produced gains of +205%, +258% and +477%. The stocks in this report could perform even better.See these 7 breakthrough stocks now>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report First Trust Natural Gas ETF (FCG): ETF Research Reports VanEck Vectors Unconventional Oil & Gas ETF (FRAK): ETF Research Reports ALPS Medical Breakthroughs ETF (SBIO): ETF Research Reports AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF (MSOS): ETF Research Reports Simplify Volt Fintech Disruption ETF (VFIN): ETF Research Reports Simplify Volt Cloud and Cybersecurity Disruption ETF (VCLO): ETF Research Reports SonicShares Global Shipping ETF (BOAT): ETF Research Reports To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

Google workers call for end to plans for a censored search product

Employees are calling on management to end the project, citing human rights concerns......»»

Category: topSource: moneycentralNov 27th, 2018

"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. *  *  * We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support. Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Donate with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt1 hr. 51 min. ago

DHS Touts Counter-Domestic Extremism Plan; Rights Groups Cite Threats To Civil Liberties

DHS Touts Counter-Domestic Extremism Plan; Rights Groups Cite Threats To Civil Liberties Authored by Ken Silva via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is touting a raft of new programs aimed to combat domestic extremism—many of which are raising red flags among interest groups across the political spectrum. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on terror threats to the United States in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Sept. 21, 2021. (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images) The new DHS plans follow a March intelligence community report that deems white supremacy and violent domestic extremism as the most dangerous terror threat to the homeland. Mayorkas made similar statements at a Sept. 21 Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on counterterrorism. “Today, U.S.-based lone actors and small groups, including homegrown violent extremists and domestic violent extremists—who are inspired by a broad range of ideological motivations—pose the most significant and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country,” he said. These “broad range of ideological motivations” include “racial bias, perceived government overreach, conspiracy theories promoting violence, and false narratives about unsubstantiated fraud in the 2020 presidential election,” He didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “perceived government overreach” or “conspiracy theories promoting violence.” He did, however, assure lawmakers that his department is working hard to combat these perceived threats. One of the major programs touted by Mayorkas is the newly branded DHS Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3), formerly known as the Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention. In conjunction with that, the DHS is in the midst of a $77 million grant program aimed to provide state and local institutions with tools to counter extremism. The DHS first announced CP3 in May along with a new dedicated domestic terrorism branch within the Department’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A). Mayorkas told the Homeland Security panel that CP3 is helping expand the department’s ability to prevent terrorism and targeted violence “through the development of local prevention frameworks.” “Through CP3, we are leveraging community-based partnerships and evidence-based tools to address early-risk factors and ensure individuals receive help before they radicalize to violence,” he said. However, Mayorkas didn’t offer details about other elements of CP3—elements that various interest groups say pose a threat to liberty. Among the details that weren’t discussed are what CP3 says on its own site—that it “leverages behavioral threat assessment and management tools, and addresses early-risk factors that can lead to radicalization to violence.” According to human rights activist Ed Hasbrouck, consultant to the nonprofit Identity Project, this mission amounts to a pre-crime program. “CP3’s attempts to predict future crimes are to be based on behavioral patterns— i.e., profiling—and on encouraging members of the public to inform on their families, friends, and classmates,” Hasbrouck wrote when CP3 was first announced. “The problem, of course, is that the law does not permit prosecution based solely on patterns of lawful behavior,” he wrote. “With good reason: ‘precrime’ prediction is a figment of the imagination of the creators of a dystopian fantasy movie, ‘Minority Report.’” The Brennan Center for Justice has expressed similar concerns. Far from a conservative group, the Brennan Center agrees with the DHS and FBI that domestic extremism is a rising threat. “Over the past five years, from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh to El Paso, attacks by people who reject our multiracial democracy have shaken our country to its core and sparked conversation about how best to address far-right violence,” the group stated in a June report. “The Trump administration, which stoked the flames of white supremacy, ended with the ransacking of the U.S. Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.” But the Brennan Center said CP3 and the Biden administration’s overall approach to countering domestic extremism—enhanced surveillance, profiling, and the like—are the same draconian tactics government used against Muslims post-9/11. “At a time when jurisdictions around the country are considering how to reduce law enforcement involvement in mental health and social issues, CP3 prevention activities take the opposite approach. They create structures to bring a broad range of concerns about mental health and socioeconomic conditions to the attention of law enforcement as indicators of criminality without normal safeguards,” the Brennan Center stated in its June 69-page report on the issue. Not only are the DHS-Biden plans a threat to civil liberties; they’re also proven to be ineffective, the Brennan Center said. The Brennan Center report paid particular focus to DHS “fusion centers”—law enforcement compounds scattered throughout the United States that seek to integrate federal, state, and local intelligence. The goal of fusion centers is to create partnerships between varying agencies and the private sector to share intelligence on threats to public safety so law enforcement has the whole picture and can “connect the dots.” Citing congressional reports from 2012, the Brennan Center stated that these fusion centers have proven to be ineffective. Those reports found that the DHS spent $289 million to $1.4 billion in public funds to support state and local fusion centers since 2003, with little results to show. “Instead of looking for terrorist threats, fusion centers were monitoring lawful political and religious activity. That year, the Virginia Fusion Center described a Muslim get-out-the-vote campaign as ‘subversive,’” the Brennan Center stated in its June report. “In 2009, the North Central Texas Fusion Center identified lobbying by Muslim groups as a possible threat.” Seemingly little has improved since then. Earlier in September, NBC News revealed an investigation into fusion centers. The report starts with an anecdote of Mike Sena, the president of the National Fusion Center Association, bragging that the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) helped stop a mall shooting attack in Santa Clara. NBC News found that Sena was apparently stretching the extent to which his fusion center helped. “We don’t have any information showing that NCRIC was involved,” said Steven Aponte, a San Jose Police Department spokesperson. The Brennan Center stated in its June report that the Biden administration is inappropriately involving law enforcement in social problems and should focus on “community investment, not criminalization.” “Communities around the United States should not need to sign up for a counterterrorism program to get resources for their schools, universities, places of worship, or social institutions,” the Brennan Center stated. “Government commitments should directly address these as social problems rather than treat those experiencing them as potential violent criminals, and should wall off programs addressing social ills from law enforcement across levels of government.” Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 18:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

“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... Remember: for China this is not about Evergrande, it's about preserving confidence in the property sector — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 22, 2021 ... 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: Markets used to focus on China's "impossible trinity" but it's time to shift to China's "impossible dilemma": you can't have deleveraging/tightening/"3 red lines" AND rising home prices at the same time. China wants both, will have to pick one — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 22, 2021 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: 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; the effective leverage (LTV) for the housing market is low, around 40% to 50% per our Banks team’s estimate; 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; 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; 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, 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.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

China Steps In To Ensure Evergrande Funds Used To Complete Housing Project, Not Pay Creditors

China Steps In To Ensure Evergrande Funds Used To Complete Housing Project, Not Pay Creditors Is this the start of China's nationalization of Evergrande? With Evergrande's foreign bondholders saying they have yet to receive a closely watched $83.5 million interest payment that was due at midnight in New York on Thursday, or noon on Friday in Hong Kong, in effect starting a 30 day grace period before a hard default is triggered, Bloomberg reports that China’s housing regulator has "stepped up oversight of China Evergrande Group’s bank accounts to ensure funds are used to complete housing projects and not diverted to pay creditors." In other words, China is now not only deciding how the insolvent developer distributes its cash flow and, but is also forcing it to prioritize operational outlays over payments to creditors, a step which companies traditionally take after they have filed for bankruptcy. The move is a confirmation that homeowners come first on Beijing’s priority list for managing the Evergrande crisis - in hopes of preventing a major hit to China's property sector - even as bondholders, banks and other creditors seek repayments on more than $300 billion in liabilities from the world’s most indebted developer. According to the report, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development instructed local subsidiaries across China last month to supervise funds for Evergrande’s property projects in special escrow accounts. Under the heightened oversight, the developer’s funds must first be used for construction to ensure project delivery. Furthermore, cash payments from these government-supervised accounts, such as paying suppliers, will be subject to state approval; local bureaus in some cities have already started to implement the measures. Meanwhile, the cash-strapped firm has not only not made the payment on offshore bonds, but Asia’s largest issuer of junk-rated dollar bonds has also kept a complete radiosilence failing to make a stock exchange filing or public comment about the coupon. Three holders of the note told Bloomberg they haven’t received payment. While few will dub this creeping takeover of Evergrande for the nationalization it is, Bloomberg does note that "the bank account restrictions underscore that policymakers are taking a more active role in the turmoil as missed payments by Evergrande on investment products spark protests across the country." 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. Separately, in an attempt to preserve continuity of Evergrande operations, including maintaining construction and project delivery, a focal point to resolve Evergrande’s liquidity crisis in an effort to steer retail investors away from cash repayment on its wealth products, the company has pushed them to accept deeply discounted properties, both to individuals and to companies. However, many of the projects aren’t finished. As previously reported, Evergrande owes about $147 billion in trade and other payables to suppliers as part of its attempt to mask its indebtedness; the company received down payments on yet-to-be-completed properties from about 1.6 million homebuyers as of December. Evergrande founding Chairman, and formerly China's second richest man, Hui Ka Yan has emphasized the importance of completing housing projects, telling staff on Wednesday that only by fully resuming construction and sales can Evergrande ensure homebuyers’ rights. Meanwhile, the biggest priority for Beijing is simpler: preserving social orde. Disgruntled retail investors gathered at the company’s Shenzhen headquarters for at least three straight days this month, and unconfirmed videos of protests against the developer in other parts of China have been shared widely online.   Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 10:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

Top Democrats compare Biden to Trump over the Haitian migrant crisis, as the GOP falsely accuses him of allowing open borders

The Biden administration has continued to use a Trump era public health law known as Title 42 to expel migrants. CIUDAD ACUNA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 20: Haitian immigrants cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico from Del Rio, Texas on September 20, 2021 to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. As U.S. immigration authorities began deporting immigrants back to Haiti from Del Rio, thousands more waited in a camp under an international bridge in Del Rio while others crossed the river back into Mexico to avoid deportation. John Moore/Getty Images Biden is facing rampant criticism over an evolving crisis involving Haitian migrants at the border. Republicans are falsely accusing Biden of allowing open borders. Top Democrats and activists are comparing Biden to Trump as he moves to deport thousands. See more stories on Insider's business page. The Biden administration is facing criticism from all angles over its handling of an influx of Haitian migrants at the US-Mexico border.Republicans baselessly accuse President Joe Biden of opening America's borders to immigrants. Meanwhile, as Biden moves to deport thousands of Haitians, top Democrats and activists are comparing his immigration policy to former President Donald Trump's. "Joe Biden is presiding over lawless open borders," GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said in a tweet earlier this week, even as the administration began actively deporting Haitian migrants who've fled violence, poverty, and political turmoil."There is a growing crisis in Del Rio, Texas and across the southern border. Biden's open borders policies created this mess," the Republican National Committee tweeted on Thursday. Seemingly regardless of what Biden does on immigration, Republicans and their right-wing media allies continue to falsely accuse him of opening America's doors to anyone and everyone. "You've got to ask yourself, as you watch the historic tragedy that is Joe Biden's immigration policy, what's the point of this? Nothing about it is an accident, obviously. It is intentional. Biden did it on purpose. But why? Why would a president do this to his own country? No sane, first-world nation opens its borders to the world," Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his show on Wednesday, while peddling the white supremacist "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory.-nikki mccann ramírez (@NikkiMcR) September 23, 2021 The GOP's primary talking point on immigration has been that Biden's desire to offer a pathway to citizenship to roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants has induced a crisis at the border. "As tens of thousands of illegal immigrants come across the border, Joe Biden promises them citizenship," GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas tweeted last on Friday. "He's making this crisis much worse."But as Biden uses a Trump era rule to deport Haitians, his allies are accusing him of reneging on his pledge to take a more humane approach to immigration than his predecessor. Democrats and activists compare Biden to Trump"The question that's being asked now is: How are you actually different than Trump?" Marisa Franco, the executive director of the Latino civil rights organization Mijente, told the New York Times. "You campaigned that immigration was one of the places where Trump was inhumane and failed. And last time I checked, Trump is not the president."The Biden administration has continued to use a Trump era public health policy, a law known as Title 42, to expel migrants and deny them an opportunity to apply for asylum - and it's defended the law in court. The Trump administration began invoking the law in March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spiral out of control (and as Trump simultaneously downplayed the threat of the virus). A New York Times review of government data found that officials caught people crossing the southwestern border roughly 1.24 million times from February to August, and Title 42 was used to turn them away 56% of the time.Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have called on Biden to halt expulsions and end the use of Title 42."I urge President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately put a stop to these expulsions and to end this Title 42 policy at our southern border," Schumer said. "We cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws. We must allow asylum seekers to present their claims at our ports of entry and be afforded due process."-CSPAN (@cspan) September 21, 2021"Haitians fleeing violence & the lack of a credible government in Haiti are being treated like animals," Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California said in a tweet on Tuesday. "U.S. government cowboys on horses used whips on Haitians as they sought refuge. Why are we following the Trump policies? This horrendous treatment of Haitians must STOP NOW."Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most prominent progressives in Congress, in a tweet described the situation at the border as a "stain on our country."The White House this week fervently decried images of Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping at Haitian migrants."What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were, was horrible. And I fully support what is happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into exactly what is going on there," Vice President Kamala Harris said on Tuesday.But the administration's words have seemingly been insufficient to top civil rights organizations."The humanitarian crisis happening under this administration on the southern border disgustingly mirrors some of the darkest moments in America's history," Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP, said in a statement. "If we were to close our eyes and this was occurring under the Trump administration, what would we do? The inhumane treatment of the Haitian refugees seeking help is utterly sickening." A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. Paul Ratje/Getty Images 'Inhumane, counterproductive'Thousands of Haitian migrants have crossed the border in recent weeks, gathering in a makeshift camp in terrible conditions under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. Haiti's president was assassinated in July, launching the already embattled country into further turmoil. Its capital, Port-au-Prince, is overrun by violent gangs. And the country is also still reeling from a devastating earthquake that killed over 2,000 in August. But the Biden administration has been adamant that Haitians, and other migrants, should not come to the US. "If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned," Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas said earlier this week.Deportation flights to Haiti began on Sunday. As a result of the Biden administration's approach to the massive influx of Haitian migrants, the US special envoy to Haiti resigned. Ambassador Daniel Foote, a career diplomat, wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and said he won't be associated with the US's "inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life."The evolving crisis at the border comes on the heels of the Afghanistan withdrawal, which also led to widespread, bipartisan criticism.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 23rd, 2021

Sens McConnell, Shelby Offer Short-Term Govt. Funding Bill Without Debt Ceiling

Sens McConnell, Shelby Offer Short-Term Govt. Funding Bill Without Debt Ceiling Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) on Sept. 21 offered a competing short-term government funding bill, just as House Democrats passed a stopgap measure that also suspends the debt limit until after the 2022 election. The bill from McConnell and Shelby does not include a debt ceiling suspension, as Republicans have urged Democrats—the majority party—to raise the $28.4 trillion debt ceiling themselves through reconciliation, a special parliamentary procedure that would expedite the passage of a budgetary measure through the Senate. [ZH: The introduction of the bill likely increases the probability of no Senate deal, and for now, the market is tending to agree as debt ceiling anxiety has not eased at all] Through reconciliation, Democrats would be able to bypass the need for 60 votes to approve legislation, and instead rely on a simple majority in the Senate. But Democrats have resisted doing that so far, saying the vote to raise the debt limit should be a bipartisan one. “I am pleased to introduce a package with Leader McConnell that would extend government funding, provide much-needed disaster relief, and deliver targeted Afghan assistance. Republicans and Democrats have undergone bipartisan, bicameral negotiations for weeks to keep the government open and provide emergency aid. This bill reflects those urgent priorities,” Shelby said in a statement. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) walks through the basement of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, on Aug. 10, 2021. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images) “Importantly, our legislation includes funding for the Iron Dome, making good on our commitment to a historic and significant ally, and removes the Democrats’ ill-conceived language on the debt limit. Members on both sides of the aisle can support this measure, and I urge them to do so with haste,” he added. Similar to the Democrats’ bill, the legislation from McConnell and Shelby would also keep the government funded through Dec. 3. It also includes resources for disaster aid and assistance for Afghan allies, as well as funding for the Iron Dome, Israel’s defense system. The Republicans senators said the funding for the Iron Dome would “bolster Israel’s defense capacity and protect against Hamas attacks.” On Tuesday, House Democrats removed $1 billion in funding for the Dome from their bill, amid accusations of human rights abuses within the Israel’s military and its treatment towards Palestinians. An Israeli soldier lies on the ground as missiles are fired from an Iron Dome anti-missile station near the city of Beer Sheva, Israel on Nov. 15, 2012. (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images) The latest GOP legislation comes after The House of Representatives voted late Tuesday to pass a bill that would avert a government shutdown or U.S. default, fund it through Dec. 3 and suspend the debt limit through Dec. 16, 2022. The 220–211 vote in the Democrat-majority chamber was on party lines. However, the bill now faces a tough hurdle in the Senate, where Republicans have said they would mount a filibuster. Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Tuesday, McConnell reiterated that Republicans were willing to support a short-term government funding bill if it included funding support for the Iron Dome, as well as assistance for Louisiana, which has been left debilitated by hurricane Ida in recent weeks. “We’re prepared to support a continuing resolution with assistance for Louisiana, with additional funds to replenish Iron Dome,” McConnell said, reported The Hill. “What we’re not prepared to do is to relieve the Democratic president, Democratic House, Democratic Senate from their governing obligation to address the debt ceiling,” he added. Congress must pass a funding plan by Sept. 30 to avert a government shutdown or U.S. default. The extra time will allow lawmakers to negotiate on the budget for the coming year. The current debt ceiling has already been breached, with debt at $28.78 trillion. It is being temporarily financed through the Treasury Department’s “extraordinary measures,” which it expects will be exhausted by October. Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 08:11.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 22nd, 2021

Wuhan Scientists Planned To Release "Chimeric Covid Spike Proteins" Into Bat Populations Using "Skin-Penetrating Nanoparticles"

Wuhan Scientists Planned To Release 'Chimeric Covid Spike Proteins' Into Bat Populations Using 'Skin-Penetrating Nanoparticles' 18 months before the pandemic, scientists in Wuhan, China submitted a proposal to release enhanced airborne coronaviruses into the wild in an effort to inoculate them against diseases that could have otherwise jumped to humans, according to The Telegraph, citing leaked grant proposals from 2018. New documents show that just 18 months before the first Covid-19 cases appeared, researchers had submitted plans to release skin-penetrating nanoparticles containing “novel chimeric spike proteins” of bat coronaviruses into cave bats in Yunnan, China. They also planned to create chimeric viruses, genetically enhanced to infect humans more easily, and requested $14million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) to fund the work. The bid was submitted by zoologist Peter Daszak of US-based EcoHealth Alliance, who was hoping to use genetic engineering to cobble "human-specific cleavage sites" onto bat Covid 'which would make it easier for the virus to enter human cells' - a method which would coincidentally answer a longstanding question among the scientific community as to how SARS-CoV-2 evolved to become so infectious to humans. Daszak's proposal also included plans to commingle high-risk natural coronaviruses strains with more infectious, yet less deadly versions. His 'bat team' of researchers included Dr. Shi Zhengli from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as well as US researchers from the University of North Carolina and the US Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center. Darpa refused the contract - saying "It is clear that the proposed project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk," while warning that Daszak hadn't fully considered the dangers involved in enhancing the virus via gain-of-function research, or by releasing a vaccine into the air. Grant documents show that the team also had some concerns about the vaccine programme and said they would “conduct educational outreach … so that there is a public understanding of what we are doing and why we are doing it, particularly because of the practice of bat-consumption in the region”. Angus Dalgleish, Professor of Oncology at St Georges, University of London, who struggled to get work published showing that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) had been carrying out “gain of function” work for years before the pandemic, said the research may have gone ahead even without the funding. “This is clearly a gain of function, engineering the cleavage site and polishing the new viruses to enhance human cell infectibility in more than one cell line,” he said. -Telegraph As the Telegraph aptly notes (and you'll never hear from Maddow, Lemon or Hayes), Daszak is the same guy behind a letter published in The Lancet last year which ruled out the lab leak hypothesis, and temporarily stifled debate on the origins of Covid-19. "For more than a year I tried repeatedly to ask questions of Peter Daszak with no response," said Viscount Ridley, who has co-authored an upcoming book on the origin of Covid-19, and has repeatedly implored the House of Lords to dig deeper into the origins of the pandemic. "Now it turns out he had authored this vital piece of information about virus work in Wuhan but refused to share it with the world. I am furious. So should the world be," he added. "Peter Daszak and the EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) proposed injecting deadly chimeric bat coronaviruses collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology into humanised and ‘batified’ mice, and much, much more." The documents, released by an international consortium of scientists known as 'Drastic Research,' were authenticated by a former Trump administration official. According to the group, "The actual DEFUSE Proposal Documents will be published in due course." "Given that we find in this proposal a discussion of the planned introduction of human-specific cleavage sites, a review by the wider scientific community of the plausibility of artificial insertion is warranted," Drastic said in a statement. Enhanced MERS? One anonymous World Health Organization (WHO) scientist told The Telegraph that Daszak's grant proposal shockingly proposed plans to enhance the more deadly MERS (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome). "The scary part is they were making infectious chimeric Mers viruses," said the source, adding "These viruses have a fatality rate over 30 per cent, which is at least an order of magnitude more deadly than Sars-CoV-2." "If one of their receptor replacements made Mers spread similarly, while maintaining its lethality, this pandemic would be nearly apocalyptic." Just remember, the initial cover story started with 'bat soup.' Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 22nd, 2021

Veeva Systems" (VEEV) Cloud Applications Get Adopted by Emmes

Veeva Systems' (VEEV) Development Cloud applications to aid in connected drug development. Veeva Systems Inc. VEEV recently announced that Emmes is standardizing on Veeva Development Cloud applications throughout functional areas to drive better speed and compliance. Emmes is a global full service clinical research organization ("CRO") committed toward aiding private sector, government, non-profit and academic partners fulfill their biopharmaceutical development and human health goals.Emmes will utilize applications in Vault Clinical, Vault Quality, and Vault Safety suites to build a technology foundation to offer clinical research and pharmacovigilance services to its customers worldwide.This announcement is likely to provide a boost to Veeva Systems' Veeva Development Cloud products business. The Veeva Development Cloud product suite is a component of the broader unified suite of cloud-based enterprise content and data management applications — Veeva Vault.Significance of the AdoptionThis partnership will enable Emmes to simplify its work process, enhance visibility and oversight, and run quicker, more cost-effective research programs.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchPer management at Veeva Systems, both the companies share the common vision of connected drug development. In fact, both the companies will aid in advancing the industry in terms of better partnership and speed throughout the product lifecycle.It is worth mentioning that Veeva Development Cloud eliminates system and process silos, thereby helping companies to focus on innovation and advance product delivery to patients.Market ProspectsPer a report by Emergen Research, the global healthcare cloud computing market was estimated to be $25.90 billion in 2019 and is anticipated to reach $90.46 billion by 2027 witnessing a CAGR of 17.9%. Factors like rising demand for cloud technology in healthcare facilities, increasing demand for cost-effective healthcare services and a shift toward value-based payments are expected to drive the market. Given the market potential, this announcement comes at an opportune time.Recent DevelopmentsThis month, the company announced that the Veeva Vault Clinical Operations Suite has been selected by B. Braun SE (B. Braun) with the aim of updating study management and payments to partner sites. Veeva MedTech’s industry expertise and clinical applications are likely to provide B. Braun the technology foundation to simplify studies throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia.In August, Veeva Systems acquired a renowned provider of accredited GxP training for life sciences, Learnaboutgmp. The combination of Veeva Vault Training with Learnaboutgmp's robust content will provide companies with a more efficient end-to-end training solution to achieve complete GxP compliance.Price PerformanceShares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have gained 9.2% on a year-to-date basis against the industry’s decline of 3.9%.Stocks to ConsiderSome better-ranked stocks from the broader medical space are Henry Schein, Inc. HSIC, Envista Holdings Corporation NVST and Merit Medical Systems, Inc. MMSI, each currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Henry Schein’s long-term earnings growth rate is estimated at 13.9%.Envista Holdings’ long-term earnings growth rate is estimated at 27.4%.Merit Medical’s long-term earnings growth rate is projected at 13.6%. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Henry Schein, Inc. (HSIC): Free Stock Analysis Report Merit Medical Systems, Inc. (MMSI): Free Stock Analysis Report Veeva Systems Inc. (VEEV): Free Stock Analysis Report Envista Holdings Corporation (NVST): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

4 Stocks to Benefit From Continued Demand for AI

Companies look set to increase their spending on AI to reap its myriad benefits, making it wise to look at names like NVIDIA (NVDA), Microsoft (MSFT), Applied Materials (AMAT) and Alphabet (GOOGL). Over the years, artificial intelligence (“AI”) has become a major driving force behind technological advancement as it continues to bolster innovation, and increase efficiency and productivity across various segments. Thanks to these conveniences, companies around the world look set to increase their spending on AI solutions.Per a report by the International Data Corporation published on Aug 4, worldwide revenues for the AI market are expected to grow 15.2% in 2021 to $341.8 billion. The report further stated that in 2022, the AI market is ready to grow 18.8% and also looks set to “break the $500 billion mark” by 2024.AI is bringing myriad conveniences to the table and one of the segments taking advantage of it is industrial automation. AI is the driving force behind robots, along with other technologies like machine learning (“ML”), which is a subset of AI, as well as Internet of Things.  AI-enabled robots can perform regular tasks with precision, thereby reducing the need for human intervention. The completion time for tasks can be reduced significantly as robots can continuously carry out their operations without any break.Also, AI is making significant in-roads within the retail segment, especially in online shopping. The e-commerce platforms are tailoring product recommendations for their users with the help of AI, by studying their purchase and search history, among others. AI-powered chatbots are also being used to respond instantaneously to user inquiries, thereby enhancing the user experience. AI is also improving supply chain management and logistics. With the help of AI, organizations are ensuring efficient management of inventory and warehouse, and improvements in delivery time of products, among others.The battle of the voice assistants is also heating up as they are bringing more convenience to users. Owing to technologies like ML and natural language processing, voice assistants are improving their responses over time and carrying out more nuanced tasks. In fact, Statista estimated that by 2024, the number of digital voice assistants is set to cross the world’s population and reach 8.4 billion units.AI is also gaining ground within farming, potentially increasing agricultural output, while also offering other benefits to farmers. Per a TechTarget article, agricultural AI bots are harvesting higher volumes of crops faster than humans, finding and eliminating weeds with improved accuracy, and so on.Reflective of the positive developments that AI is bringing across various segments, it is quite expected that the AI market is ready to grow ahead. Per another report by Research and Markets, the global AI market is set to witness a CAGR of 35% from 2021 to 2025, as mentioned in a Business Wire article.4 Stocks to Keep an Eye OnThe AI market seems poised to grow as companies look to increase their spending on AI solutions, owing to the benefits that AI is offering to users across several segments. This seems then a good time to look at stocks that can make the most of this trend. We have selected four such stocks that carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.NVIDIA Corporation NVDA offers Data Center platforms and systems for AI, high performance computing, and accelerated computing, via its Compute & Networking segment. NVIDIA offers its NVIDIA DRIVE PX2 which is an open AI car computing platform that enables automakers and their tier 1 suppliers to accelerate autonomous vehicle production. In partnership with VMware, on Aug 24, NVIDIA announced the availability of NVIDIA AI Enterprise, which is an end-to-end, cloud-native suite of AI and data analytics software.Shares of NVIDIA have risen 67.8% year to date and it currently has a Zacks Rank #2. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 5.8% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 68%.Microsoft Corporation MSFT offers Azure AI which is a portfolio of AI services for developers and data scientists for building and deploying AI solutions. On Apr 12, the company announced that it is acquiring Nuance Communications in an all-cash transaction of $19.7 billion, combining solutions and expertise for delivering new cloud and AI capabilities across healthcare and other industries.Shares of Zacks Rank #2 Microsoft have risen 34.8% year to date. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 3.6% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 8%.Applied Materials, Inc. AMAT provides manufacturing equipment, services and software to the semiconductor, display and related industries. On Mar 16, the company unveiled its new playbook for process control that combines big data and AI technology to deliver an intelligent and adaptive solution. On Apr 5, the company unveiled its Actionable Insight Accelerator platform that uses big data and AI for accelerating semiconductor technology breakthroughs.Shares of Applied Materials have risen 63.2% year to date. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 4.4% over the past 60 days. This Zacks Rank #2 company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 64%.Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL Google offers AI and ML products and solutions like Vertex AI, Contact Center AI, Document AI, and so on, via its Google Cloud platform. Google has also upped its presence in the voice assistant space as well with its Google Assistant. On Sep 1, Google Cloud and C3 AI announced the availability of C3 AI’s Enterprise AI applications on Google Cloud.Shares of Alphabet have risen 60.7% year to date and it currently has a Zacks Rank #3. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 13.3% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 73.8%. Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $2.4 trillion by 2028 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases. Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Recommendations from previous editions of this report have produced gains of +205%, +258% and +477%. The stocks in this report could perform even better.See these 7 breakthrough stocks now>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA): Free Stock Analysis Report Applied Materials, Inc. (AMAT): Free Stock Analysis Report Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

Oracle (ORCL) Partners With Oxford Nanopore to Boost Research

Oracle (ORCL) will also make an investment of ??150 million in Oxford Nanopore. Oracle ORCL is working with Oxford Nanopore Technologies to advance the reach of DNA/RNA sequencing technology to boost the identification and treatment of new and existing diseases. Subject to regulatory and customary conditions, the company will also invest £150 million in Oxford Nanopore.The companies will utilize Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to run genome sequencing and develop various new medical solutions to enhance patient care outcomes. Oxford Nanopore will implement OCI in applied and clinical markets, noted Oracle.By using OCI, Oxford Nanopore can expand its “population-scale” genetic sequencing technology worldwide, stated Oracle. The companies will work together to foster advances in epidemiology, whole-genome sequencing and drug development research.Oracle will also integrate Oxford Nanopore’s DNA/RNA sequencing technology and data with its healthcare and life sciences solutions/applications portfolio.Oxford Nanopore, based in the U.K., specializes in scalable and accessible nanopore sequencing technology. This technology, at present, is leveraged by scientists in more than 100 countries to gain a better understanding of human and cancer genetics, pathogen analysis (including COVID-19, Zika, Ebola and Lassa fever) as well as plant, animal and environmental studies, added Oracle.Oracle Corporation Price and Consensus  Oracle Corporation price-consensus-chart | Oracle Corporation Quote Need for Cloud Services in Healthcare Bodes WellGlobal healthcare cloud computing market is expected to witness a CAGR of 14.1% between 2021 and 2026, according to a Mordor Intelligence report. The coronavirus crisis is driving the digital transformation of the entire healthcare system. This is forcing healthcare companies to rapidly digitize their operations to ensure business continuity. Cloud services offer healthcare providers with enhanced scalability as well as simplified data storage and accessibility. Apart from increasing telehealth services, the healthcare cloud computing market is being driven by the adoption of innovative technologies like machine learning, AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics in healthcare as well as growing proliferation of smart wearable devices.These projections highlight huge revenue growth opportunities for cloud service providers like Oracle. Oracle is fast gaining ground in the lucrative cloud domain. The company's software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) products are likely to grow strongly over the next few years as enterprises transition to the cloud.In the first quarter of fiscal 2022, management noted that the company’s IaaS and SaaS business accounted for 25% of total quarterly revenues with an annual run rate of $10 billion.The next-generation autonomous database rolled out by Oracle, which is supported by machine learning (ML), is gaining significant momentum. Autonomous database in Gen2 public cloud infrastructure is also witnessing healthy uptake.Oracle’s Cloud services and license support revenues (nearly 76% of total revenues) in the last reported quarter increased 6% year over year (up 5% at cc) to $7.371 billion. The upside can be attributed to continued strength in the Fusion, Autonomous Database and OCI services.Increased availability of Oracle cloud regions globally is consolidating its competitive position in the cloud computing market. The company currently has 30 cloud regions in the world.However, higher spend on product enhancements, especially toward cloud platform, amid increasing competition in the cloud domain from the established players like Amazon AMZN, Microsoft MSFT and Alphabet’s GOOGL Google Cloud is likely to limit margin expansion, in the near term.Oracle currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 (Strong Buy) Rank stocks here. Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $2.4 trillion by 2028 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases. Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Recommendations from previous editions of this report have produced gains of +205%, +258% and +477%. The stocks in this report could perform even better.See these 7 breakthrough stocks now>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report Oracle Corporation (ORCL): Free Stock Analysis Report Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

Iron Ore Prices Fall Below $100 per Ton on Weak Demand in China

Iron ore prices have lost 34% of its value year to date as China's initiatives to clean up its highly-polluting steel sector have hurt iron ore prices. Iron ore prices have plunged below $100 a ton for the first time since July 2020, as China — the world’s biggest steelmaker — intensified curbs on steel production to lower carbon emissions. Signs of a slowdown across China’s property sector have also acted as a drag on the main steel-making ingredient. Iron ore prices have more than halved from the record $230 per ton attained in May this year. It has lost 34% so far in 2021.China’s Curb on Steel Output Weighs on IronThe slump in iron ore makes it one of the worst-performing major commodities this year. This is in sharp contrast to the solid run it had last year, logging a solid gain of 80%. A combination of China’s massive infrastructure stimulus to recover from the pandemic-induced slump, which fueled demand for iron ore, and supply concerns in Brazil due to the coronavirus pandemic drove the prices up. After hitting the record high of $230 earlier this year, iron ore prices started losing steam as China clamped down on the steel industry, which given its high energy consumption and outdated technology and equipment, is one of the biggest contributors to pollution in the country. China has thus repeatedly urged steel mills to reduce output this year to curb carbon emissions.China remains committed to its pledge reach carbon neutrality by 2060. The country intends to step up its production curbs in a bid to reduce pollution and ensure clearer air for the Winter Olympics coming up in February 2022. This is going to weigh on iron ore demand for the balance of the year.Per the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the monthly crude steel production in the country was down 13.2% year over year, slipping for the third straight month to 83.24 million tons in August. Average daily output is at the lowest since March 2020. This reflects the impact of the implementation of production restrictions at steel mills.China’s Property Sector Slowdown Hurts FurtherSigns of a slowdown across China’s property sector have hit iron ore prices. The country’s property investment in August rose a meager 0.3% from a year ago — the slowest pace in 18 months. It is lower than the rise of 1.4% in July, reflecting the tighter financing conditions. China's new home prices rose at their slowest pace in months, as authorities tried to rein in a red-hot property market, and cooling measures were expected to limit home price growth going forward. China's property market is also grappling with problems at its second-largest property developer, Evergrande Group. It is currently the world's most indebted property developer, owing more than $300 billion in liabilities and nearing a possible default for an interest payment this week.China Evergrande’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell 10.24% on Sep 17, which underscored concerns about the broader health of China’s real estate sector and triggered a wider sell-off. Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchOwing to the plunge in iron ore prices, iron ore producers including Rio Tinto plc RIO, BHP Group BHP, Vale S.A. VALE and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. FSUGY have seen their shares tumble 6.8% 13.8%, 8.9% and 22.9%, respectively, over the past month. All of these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) currently. Lower iron ore prices are expected to impact their results in the ongoing quarter.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks hereNeverthless, these miners will benefit from demand in rest of the world. The steel industry is showing promise as demand remains robust across construction and manufacturing sectors across rest of the world. Steel prices continue to race ahead, buoyed by an upturn in demand across key markets, tight supply conditions and low steel inventory throughout the supply chain.The World Steel Association projects steel demand to grow 5.8% in 2021 and reach 1,874 million. In 2022, steel demand is expected to go up 2.7% to reach 1,924.6 Mt. In China, steel demand is expected to grow 3.0% in 2021 but will decline 1% in 2022 due to the intensified environmental push. Meanwhile, steel demand will go up 8.2% and 4.2% in 2021 and 2022, respectively, in advanced economies. The ongoing recovery in automotive and construction sectors worldwide will drive demand for steel. In the United States, massive government spending to rebuild infrastructure including railroads, highways and bridges will significantly boost steel demand, thus fueling the need for iron ore. Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $2.4 trillion by 2028 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases. Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Recommendations from previous editions of this report have produced gains of +205%, +258% and +477%. The stocks in this report could perform even better.See these 7 breakthrough stocks now>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report BHP Group Limited Sponsored ADR (BHP): Free Stock Analysis Report VALE S.A. (VALE): Free Stock Analysis Report Rio Tinto PLC (RIO): Get Free Report Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (FSUGY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

4 Stocks to Gain as SaaS Adoption Continues to Skyrocket

Invest in the likes of Paycom Software (PAYC), The Trade Desk (TTD), Microsoft (MSFT) and Nutanix (NTNX) as SaaS adoption continues to grow on flexibility and cost reduction. The popularity of the Software as-a-Service (SaaS) model has grown exponentially over the years as organizations look for improved flexibility, reduced costs and time, among other benefits. SaaS has witnessed increased adoption, owing to the advantages that SaaS offers over conventional software applications have also led to its increased adoption.With SaaS, businesses can simply opt for a relevant subscription model and start operating without having to install expensive software at their end, since they are provided by vendors via the cloud platform. The demand for SaaS is continuing to skyrocket and according to a BMC Software article, research has found that 99% of organizations will be using one or more SaaS solutions by the end of 2021.The article further stated that around 78% of small businesses “have already invested in SaaS options.” This is because small businesses have a limited budget at their disposal, especially when they are starting out, making it costly and time-consuming to install and configure traditional software. Hence, they find it more convenient to opt for SaaS solutions.As their requirements change over time, businesses can utilize more SaaS solutions by simply opting for the new offerings. Also, since the software applications are provided by vendors, businesses don’t have to worry about installing upgrades as that is taken care of by the vendors.Collaborating online has become the need of the hour as the pandemic shifted organizations to a remote working model. SaaS adoption made this much easier as employees can access the cloud-based applications from anywhere and from devices like smartphones, laptops, desktops, and so on, with the help of an Internet connection.Reflective of how much cloud computing, which includes SaaS, is in demand, Gartner predicted, in a report published on Aug 2, that by the end of 2021, global end-user spending on public cloud services is set to reach $396 billion. This will mark an increase from $313.853 billion in 2020 and the spending is also set to rise 21.7% and reach $482 billion in 2022. The report further stated that by 2026, public cloud spending is set to exceed 45% of all enterprise IT spending, compared to less than 17% in 2021.Gartner expects spending on cloud application services or SaaS to grow to $145.509 billion this year, from $120.686 billion in 2020, and reach $171.915 billion in 2022. Per a separate report by Research and Markets, the global SaaS market is expected to witness a CAGR of 12.5% from 2021 to 2025, as mentioned in a Business Wire article.4 Stocks to Buy NowThe adoption of SaaS seems set to grow ahead as businesses continue to shift to cloud, owing to its myriad advantages like scalability, lower costs, and so on. This makes it a good time then to invest in companies with strong fundamentals that can make the most of this continued upswing. We have selected four such stocks that carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Paycom Software, Inc. PAYC provides a cloud-based human capital management solution delivered as SaaS for small to mid-sized companies in the United States.Shares of Paycom have risen 7% year to date and it currently flaunts a Zacks Rank #1. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 3.5% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 25.8%.The Trade Desk, Inc. TTD operates a self-service cloud-based platform that allows buyers to create, manage, and optimize data-driven digital advertising campaigns in various ad formats and channels. On Jun 16, the company launched its services in India, allowing Indian digital marketers to realize the full potential of the open Internet.Shares of this Zacks Rank #2 company have risen 13.8% over the past three months. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 21.9% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 13%.Microsoft Corporation MSFT offers Microsoft 365 which is the productivity cloud that offers Office apps, intelligent cloud services, and advanced security. The company also offers its cloud platform, namely, Azure.Shares of Microsoft have gained 32.3% year to date. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 3.6% over the past 60 days. This Zacks Rank #2 company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 8%.Nutanix, Inc. NTNX develops and provides an enterprise cloud platform and it offers Calm SaaS, which is a ready-to-use, fully-managed automation software that aids in automating IT services and makes the services available in a secured and easy-to-consume package.Shares of Zacks Rank #2 Nutanix have risen 27.3% year to date. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings improved 21% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 26.4%. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report Paycom Software, Inc. (PAYC): Free Stock Analysis Report The Trade Desk Inc. (TTD): Free Stock Analysis Report Nutanix Inc. (NTNX): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

Stocks Can"t Follow Through in Low Volume Session

Stocks Can't Follow Through in Low Volume Session Despite a positive start to Tuesday’s action, the market couldn’t add onto yesterday’s impressive rally as choppy trading eventually chipped away at the gains and left us with a rather lackluster session. The NASDAQ was the best performer again today… but only because it had the narrowest loss. It slipped 0.03% (or 4 points) to 13,657.17, which means it held onto nearly all of yesterday’s 1.4% surge. Meanwhile, the Dow declined 0.24% (or about 81 points) to 34,312.46, while the S&P was off 0.21% to 4188.13. These indices were up 0.54% and 0.99%, respectively, on Monday, but couldn’t decide on a direction today amid low volume.   “I am surprised there wasn’t follow through, but because it is the end of the month, it’s not surprising to see some back-and-forth action," said Jeremy Mullin in today’s Counterstrike. “Some big players want positions off the books, while other big players want to mark up prices. This gives us a tug of war, while retail traders get stuck in between.” The consumer confidence report was a mixed bag, as the 117.2 result fell short of expectations north of 118. But the result is still just 0.3 below April’s 117.5, so it’s pretty strong out there despite concerns of rising inflation. However, a 5.9% drop in new home sales in April suggests that consumers may be more hesitant to spend on big ticket items. Sales moved lower to 863K from the previous month’s 917K. Meanwhile, the Case-Shiller national home price index soared 13.2% annually in March, suggesting that the robust rise in home prices may be scaring off potential buyers at the moment. “The surprise today was the weakness in new home sales and consumer confidence coming in below expectations. That said, the market didn’t sell off in a meaningful way and the action really sets up for a strong move tomorrow,” said Brian Bolan in Stocks Under $10. And if you’re missing the hustle and bustle of big earnings reports, then you’ll be happy to hear that graphics chip pioneer NVIDIA (NVDA) will be reporting after the bell tomorrow. The company was up 0.23% today and has an Earnings ESP of 1.94%. It has now beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate for nine straight quarters. Today's Portfolio Highlights: Headline Trader: With chip stocks finally finding support and a $52 billion bill being considered to confront the shortage; Dan feels that “now is the time to jump into this momentum-building segment". On Tuesday he added Synopsys (SNPS), a global leader in semiconductor IP and electronic design automation tools. Basically, EDA provides the foundation for digital chips being used in all the most innovative new technologies, including AI, cloud computing, the IoT and 5G. SNPS reported a “blowout” quarter last week, which continued a long stretch of outperforming the Zacks Consensus Estimate. “The pandemic created the perfect storm for the future of this business, with digital adaptation accelerating 10 years in just 10 months,” according to the editor. He believes the company is poised to rise to $300. Read the complete commentary for an in-depth analysis of SNPS. Zacks Short Sell List: This week's adjustment swapped out two portfolio positions. The stocks that were short-covered on Tuesday included Sunrun (RUN) and Shopify (SHOP), while the new buys that filled these opened spots were Chegg (CHGG) and Shake Shack (SHAK). Learn more about this emotion-free portfolio that takes advantage of falling and volatile markets by reading the Short Sell List Trader Guide. Stocks Under $10: With crypto coming under pressure lately, gold has been increasing in value. Brian is taking advantage of this situation by adding Comstock Mining (LODE), a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) gold miner with earnings estimates that have “radically” jumped to a profit of 23 cents from a loss of 13 cents for this year. The company beat by 150% last quarter and analysts expect topline growth of 60% for the full year. Read the complete commentary for a lot more on this new addition. Insider Trader: "That growth stock momentum from the last 2 days petered out today as stocks finished mixed on the session. "However, it really felt like a lot of people have already gone on their Memorial Day vacations. "No one even cares about this week's earnings reports, even though we'll be hearing from tech powerhouses NVIDIA (NVDA) and Salesforce (CRM). "But keep an eye on the retailers. They are the key to where the economy is heading in the second half of 2021." -- Tracey Ryniec Have a Great Evening, Jim Giaquinto Recommendations from Zacks' Private Portfolios: Believe it or not, this article is not available on the Zacks.com website. The commentary is a partial overview of the daily activity from Zacks' private recommendation services. If you would like to follow our Buy and Sell signals in real time, we've made a special arrangement for readers of this website. Starting today you can see all the recommendations from all of Zacks' portfolios absolutely free for 7 days. Our services cover everything from value stocks and momentum trades to insider buying and positive earnings surprises (which we've predicted with an astonishing 80%+ accuracy). Click here to "test drive" Zacks Ultimate for FREE >>  Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 21st, 2021

UN Warns Artificial Intelligence May Pose "Negative, Even Catastrophic" Threat To Human Rights

UN Warns Artificial Intelligence May Pose "Negative, Even Catastrophic" Threat To Human Rights Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times, The United Nations has warned that artificial intelligence (AI) systems may pose a “negative, even catastrophic” threat to human rights and called for AI applications that are not used in compliance with human rights to be banned. U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Sept. 15 urged members states to put a temporary ban on the sale and use of AI until the potential risks it poses have been addressed and adequate safeguards put in place to ensure the technology will not be abused. “We cannot afford to continue playing catch-up regarding AI—allowing its use with limited or no boundaries or oversight and dealing with the almost inevitable human rights consequences after the fact,” Bachelet said in a statement. “The power of AI to serve people is undeniable, but so is AI’s ability to feed human rights violations at an enormous scale with virtually no visibility. Action is needed now to put human rights guardrails on the use of AI, for the good of all of us,” the human rights chief added. Her remarks come shortly after her office published a report that analyzes how AI affects people’s right to privacy, as well as a string of other rights regarding health, education, freedom of movement, and freedom of expression, among others. The document includes an assessment of profiling, automated decision-making, and other machine-learning technologies. While the report notes that AI can be used for good use, and can help “societies overcome some of the great challenges of our times,” its use as a forecasting and profiling tool can drastically impact “rights to privacy, to a fair trial, to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and the right to life.” According to the report, numerous states and businesses often fail to carry out due diligence while rushing to incorporate AI applications, and in some cases, this has resulted in dangerous blunders, with some people reportedly being mistreated and even arrested due to flawed facial recognition software. Meanwhile, facial recognition has the potential to allow for unlimited tracking of individuals, which may well lead to an array of issues surrounding discrimination and data protection. An AI robot (L) by CloudMinds is seen during the Mobile World Conference in Shanghai on June 27, 2018. (-/AFP/Getty Images) As many AI systems rely on large data sets, further issues surrounding how this data is stored in the long-term also poses a risk, and there is potential for such data to be exploited in the future, which could post significant national security risks. “The complexity of the data environment, algorithms and models underlying the development and operation of AI systems, as well as intentional secrecy of government and private actors are factors undermining meaningful ways for the public to understand the effects of AI systems on human rights and society,” the report states. Visitors look at an AI smart city system by iFLY at the 2018 International Intelligent Transportation Industry Expo in Hangzhou in China’s eastern Zhejiang province in December 2018. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) Tim Engelhardt, a human rights officer in the Rule of Law and Democracy Section, warned that the situation is “dire” and that it has only become worse over the years as some countries and businesses adopt AI applications while failing to research the multiple potential risks associated with the technology. While he welcomes the EU’s agreement to “strengthen the rules on control,” he noted that a solution to the myriad of issues surrounding AI won’t be coming in the next year and that the first steps to resolve these issue need to be taken now or “many people in the world will pay a high price.” “The higher the risk for human rights, the stricter the legal requirements for the use of AI technology should be,” Bachelet added. The report and Bachelet’s comments come following July’s revelations that spyware, known as Pegasus, was used to hack the smartphones of thousands of people around the world, including journalists, government officials, and human rights activists. The phone of France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire was just one of many being investigated amid the hack via the spyware, which was developed by the Israeli company NSO Group. NSO Group issued a statement to multiple outlets that did not address the allegations, but said that the company will “continue to provide intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world with life-saving technologies to fight terror and crime.” Speaking at the Council of Europe hearing on the implications stemming from the Pegasus spyware controversy, Bachelet said the revelations came as no surprise, given the “unprecedented level of surveillance across the globe by state and private actors.” Tyler Durden Mon, 09/20/2021 - 20:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021

Victor Davis Hanson: The Afghanistization Of America

Victor Davis Hanson: The Afghanistization Of America Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmGreatness.com, The United States should be at its pinnacle of strength. It still produces more goods and services than any other nation—China included, which has a population over four times as large. Its fuel and food industries are globally preeminent, as are its graduate science, computer, engineering, medical, and technology university programs. Its constitution is the oldest of current free nations. And the U.S. military is by far the best funded in the world. And yet something has gone terribly wrong within America, from the southern border to Afghanistan.  The inexplicable in Afghanistan—surrendering Bagram Air Base in the middle of the night, abandoning tens of billions of dollars of military equipment to the Taliban, and forsaking both trapped Americans and loyalist Afghans—has now become the new Biden model of inattention and incompetence.  Or to put it another way, when we seek to implant our culture abroad, do we instead come to emulate what we are trying to change? COVID Chaos Take COVID-19. Joe Biden in 2020 (along with Kamala Harris) trashed Trump’s impending Operation Warp Speed vaccinations. Then, after inauguration, Biden falsely claimed no one had been vaccinated until his ascension (in fact, 1million a day were being vaccinated before he assumed office). Then again, Biden claimed ad nauseam that he didn’t believe in mandates to force the new and largely experimental vaccinations on the public. Then, once more, he promised that they were so effective and so many Americans had received vaccines that by July 4 the country would return to a virtual pre-COVID normality.  Then came the delta variant and his self-created disaster in Afghanistan.  To divert his attention away from the Afghan morass, Biden weirdly focused on an equally confused new presidential COVID-19 mandate, seeking to subject federal employees, soldiers, and employees of larger firms to mandatory vaccinations—right as the contagious delta variant seemed to be slowly tapering off, given the millions who have either been vaxxed, have developed natural immunity, or both. Consider other paradoxes. American citizens must be vaccinated, but not the forecasted 2 million noncitizens expected to cross the southern border illegally into the United States over the current fiscal year. Soldiers who bravely helped more than 100,000 Afghan refugees escape must be vaccinated, but not the unvetted foreign nationals from a premodern country? Scientists now are convinced naturally acquired COVID-19 immunity from a previous infection likely provides longer and better protection than does any of the current vaccinations.  Yet those who suffered COVID-19, and now have antibodies and other natural defenses, must likewise be vaccinated. That anomaly raises the obvious logical absurdities: will those with vaccinations—in reciprocal fashion—be forced to be exposed to the virus to obtain additional and superior natural immunity, given the Biden logic of the need for both acquired and vaccinated immunity?  Tribal Lands  We have Afghanistanized the border as well, turning the United States into a pre-state whose badlands borders are absolutely porous and fluid. There is no audit of newcomers, no vaccinations required, no COVID-19 tests—none of the requirements that millions of citizens must meet either entering the United States or working at their jobs. Our Bagram abandonment is matched by abruptly abandoning the border wall in mid-course.  Yet where the barrier exists, there is some order; where Joe Biden abandoned the wall, there is a veritable stampede of illegal migration.  October 7, 2019. Mark Wilson/Getty Images Coups, Juntas and Such Third-World countries suffer military coups when unelected top brass and caudillos often insidiously take control of the country’s governance in slow-motion fashion. The latest Bob Woodward “I heard,” “they say,” and “sources reveal” mythography now claims that General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, discussed separating an elected commander-in-chief from control of the military. Woodward and co-author Robert Costa also assert that Milley promised his Chinese Communist military counterpart that he would tip off the People’s Liberation Army of any planned U.S. aggressive action—an odd paranoia when Donald Trump, of the last five presidents, has proved the most reluctant to send U.S. troops into harm’s way.  If that bizarre assertion is true, Milley himself might have essentially risked starting a war by eroding U.S. deterrence in apprising an enemy of perceived internal instability inside the executive branch, and the lack of a unified command. (So, Woodward wrote: “‘General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable, and everything is going to be okay,’ Milley said. ‘We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.’ Milley then added, ‘If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.’”) More germanely, when Milley called in senior officers and laid down his own operational directives concerning nuclear weapons, he was clearly violating the law as established and strengthened in 1947, 1953, and 1986 that clearly states the Joint Chiefs are advisors to the president and are not in the chain of command and are to be bypassed, at least operationally, by the president. The commander in chief sets policy. And if it requires the use of force, he directs the secretary of defense to relay presidential orders to the relevant theater commanders. Milley had no authority to discuss changing nuclear procedures, much less to convey a smear to an enemy that his commander in chief was non compos mentis. Milley has been reduced to a caricature of a caricature right out of “Dr. Strangelove”—and is himself a danger to national security. After Milley’s summer 2020 virtue-signaling “apology” for alleged presidential photo-op misbehavior (found to be completely false by the interior department’s inspector general); after leaked news reports that Milley considered resignation (promises, promises) to signal his anger at Trump in summer 2020; after his dismissal of the 120 days of rioting, 28 deaths, 14,000 arrests, and $2 billion in damage as mere “penny packet protests”; after his “white rage” blathering before Congress; after the collapse of the U.S. military command in Kabul; and after his premature and hasty assessment of a U.S. drone strike that killed 10 innocent civilians as “righteous,” Woodward’s sensationalism may not sound as impossible as his usual fare.  Milley should either deny the Woodward charges and demand a real apology or resign immediately. He has violated the law governing the chain of command, misused his office of chairman of the Joint Chiefs, politicized the military, proved inept in his military judgment and advice, and may well have committed a felony in revealing to a hostile military leader that the United States was, in his opinion, in a crisis mode.  Yet, Milley did not act in isolation. Where did this low-bar Pentagon coup talk originate? And who are those responsible for creating a culture in which unelected current and retired military officers, sworn to uphold the constitutional order and the law of civilian control of the military, believe that they can arbitrarily declare an elected president either incompetent or criminal—and thus subject to their own renegade sort of freelancing justice? As a footnote, remember that after little more than a week of the Trump presidency, Rosa Brooks, an Obama-era Pentagon appointee, published in Foreign Policy various ways to remove the newly inaugurated president. Among those mentioned was a military coup, in which top officers were to collude to obstruct a presidential order, on the basis of their own perceptions of a lack of presidential rectitude or competence.  We note additionally that over a dozen high-ranking retired generals and admirals have serially violated the uniform code of military justice in demonizing publicly their commander in chief with the worst sort of smears and slanders. And they have done so with complete exemption and in mockery of the very code they have sworn to abide.  Two retired army officers, colonels John Nagl and Paul Yingling, on the eve of the 2020 election, urged Milley to order U.S. army forces to remove Trump from office if in their opinion he obstructed the results of the election—superseding in effect a president’s elected powers as well as those constitutional checks and balances of the legislative and judicial branches upon him.  We know that these were all partisan and not principled concerns about an alleged non compos mentis president, because none of these same outspoken “Seven Days in May” generals have similarly violated the military code by negatively commenting publicly on the current dangerous cognitive decline of Joe Biden and the real national security dangers of his impairment, as evidenced by the disastrous skedaddle from Afghanistan and often inability to speak coherently or remember key names and places. In short, is our new freelancing and partisan military also in the process of becoming Afghanized—too many of its leadership electively appealing to pseudo-higher principles to contextualize violating the Constitution of the United States and, sadly, too many trying to reflect the general woke landscape of the corporate board to which so many have retired? Like tribal warlords, our top brass simply do as they please, and then message to us “so what are you going to do about it?” Achin, Afghanistan, 2011. John Moore/Getty Images The Constitution as Construct How paradoxical that the United States has sent teams of constitutional specialists to Iraq and Afghanistan to help tribal societies to draft legal, ordered, and sustainable Western consensual government charters that are not subject to the whims of particular tribes and parties. Yet America itself is descending in the exact opposite direction.  Suddenly in 2021 America, if ancient consensual rules, customs, and constitutional mandates do not facilitate and advance the progressive project, then by all means they must end—by a mere one vote in the Senate. It is as if the centuries of our history, the Constitution, and the logic of the founders were analogous to a shouting match among a squabbling Taliban tribal council of elders. Junk the 233-year-old Electoral College and the constitutional directive to the states to assume primary responsibilities in establishing voting procedures in national elections. End the 180-year-old Senate filibuster. Do away with the now bothersome 150-year nine-justice Supreme Court. And scrap the 60-year-old tradition of a 50-state union.   Impeachment was intended by the founders as a rare reset of the executive branch in extremis. Now it is to be a pro formaattack on the president in his first term by the opposite party as soon as it gains control of the House—without a special counsel, without witnesses and cross-examinations, without any specific high crimes and misdemeanors or bribery and treason charges. And why not from now on impeach a president twice within a year—or try him in the Senate when he is out of office as a private citizen?  When private citizen Joe Biden is retired from the presidency, will his political enemies dig up his sketchy IRS records alleging that he never paid income taxes on the “big guy’s” “10 percent” of the income from the Hunter Biden money machine? American Tribes  We may think virtue-signaling pride flags, gender studies, and George Floyd murals in Kabul remind the world of our postmodern sophistication. Yet, in truth, we are becoming far more like Afghanistan in the current tribalization of America—where tribal, racial, and ethnic loyalties are now essential to an American’s primary identity and loyalty—than we were ever able to make Afghanistan like us. When we read leftist heartthrob Ibram X. Kendi’s endorsement of overt racial discrimination or academic and media obsessions with a supposed near-satanic “whiteness,” or the current fixations on skin color and first loyalties to those who share superficial racial affinities, then we are not much different from the Afghan tribalists. We in America apparently have decided the warring badlands of the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks have their advantages over a racially blind, consensual republic. They are the model to us, not us of the now-discredited melting pot to them. How sad in our blinkered arrogance that we go across the globe to the tribal Third World to teach the impoverished a supposedly preferrable culture and politics, while at home we are doing our best to become a Third-World country of incompetency, constitutional erosion, a fractious and politicized military elite, and racially and ethnically obsessed warring tribes.  Tyler Durden Mon, 09/20/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021