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Stan Silverman: The downfall of Theranos shows "you can’t fake it until you make it"

Following the guilty verdict of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, guest columnist Stan Silverman provides lessons for entrepreneur CEOs, investors and board members......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 16th, 2022

Stan Silverman: The downfall of Theranos shows "you can’t fake it until you make it"

Following the guilty verdict of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, guest columnist Stan Silverman provides lessons for entrepreneur CEOs, investors and board members......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 16th, 2022

Twitter Investors Sue Elon Musk As Deal Faces Complications

The swings just keep coming in Elon Musk’s battle for Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR). The billionaire is being sued by the company’s investors in California, who accuse him of market manipulation. They allege Musk bought more than 5% of Twitter stock by March 14 and then continued to buy Twitter stock until he ultimately disclosed roughly […] The swings just keep coming in Elon Musk’s battle for Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR). The billionaire is being sued by the company’s investors in California, who accuse him of market manipulation. They allege Musk bought more than 5% of Twitter stock by March 14 and then continued to buy Twitter stock until he ultimately disclosed roughly 9% ownership in April. Loggerheads As reported by Reuters, investors say the delay in disclosing saved him roughly $150 million because it kept share prices low —Musk will get an opportunity to respond. Meanwhile, the billionaire is putting up an additional $6.25 billion to fund the roughly $44 billion offer to take Twitter private, as revealed yesterday in a regulatory filing. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more This means Musk's purchase now includes $33.5 billion in equity, an increase from $27.25 billion. It also means he no longer plans to rely on a margin loan backed by his Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) shares. This is notable as shares of Tesla have tanked about 34% since Musk announced his takeover bid in mid-April. It is also significant because there was speculation about the future of the deal during the third week of May. Musk publicly requested proof from Twitter that fake accounts make up less than 5% of total users, suggesting the percentage is higher —this casts doubts about the value of the company. Key Decisions Twitter held its annual shareholder meeting Thursday and avoided the big looming question of whether it is going to complete the $44 billion sale. However, the Twitter CEO said the company continues to work through the transaction. Also, Reuters reported would not accept Egon Durban's resignation from the board, barely two days after shareholders blocked his re-election at the annual meeting. Durban is an ally of Elon Musk’s deal. Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh, said: “The Twitter board has not embraced Elon Musk and his vision for Twitter. So the fact that his ally has been removed from the board is not surprising.” The vote shows shareholders are skeptical of Musk's plan or his disposition to follow through with his initial offer. Still, investors are expected to approve the deal at an upcoming meeting. Updated on May 27, 2022, 2:00 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: valuewalkMay 27th, 2022

Five Warning Signs The End Of Dollar Hegemony Is Near... Here"s What Happens Next

Five Warning Signs The End Of Dollar Hegemony Is Near... Here's What Happens Next Authored by Nick Giambruno via InternationalMan.com, It’s no secret that China and Russia have been stashing away as much gold as possible for many years. China is the world’s largest producer and buyer of gold. Russia is number two. Most of that gold finds its way into the Russian and Chinese governments’ treasuries. Russia has over 2,300 tonnes—or nearly 74 million troy ounces—of gold, one of the largest stashes in the world. Nobody knows the exact amount of gold China has, but most observers believe it is even larger than Russia’s stash. Russia and China’s gold gives them access to an apolitical neutral form of money with no counterparty risk. Remember, gold has been mankind’s most enduring form of money for over 2,500 years because of unique characteristics that make it suitable to store and exchange value. Gold is durable, divisible, consistent, convenient, scarce, and most importantly, the “hardest” of all physical commodities. In other words, gold is the one physical commodity that is the “hardest to produce” (relative to existing stockpiles) and, therefore, the most resistant to inflation. That’s what gives gold its superior monetary properties. Russia and China can use their gold to engage in international trade and perhaps back the currencies. That’s why gold represents a genuine monetary alternative to the US dollar, and Russia and China have a lot of it. Today it’s clear why China and Russia have had an insatiable demand for gold. They’ve been waiting for the right moment to pull the rug from beneath the US dollar. And now is that moment… This is a big problem for the US government, which reaps an unfathomable amount of power because the US dollar is the world’s premier reserve currency. It allows the US to print fake money out of thin air and export it to the rest of the world for real goods and services—a privileged racket no other country has. Russia and China’s gold could form the foundation of a new monetary system outside of the control of the US. Such moves would be the final nail in the coffin of dollar dominance. Five recent developments are a giant flashing red sign that something big could be imminent. Warning Sign #1: Russia Sanctions Prove Dollar Reserves “Aren’t Really Money” In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US government has launched its most aggressive sanctions campaign ever. Exceeding even Iran and North Korea, Russia is now the most sanctioned nation in the world. As part of this, the US government seized the US dollar reserves of the Russian central bank—the accumulated savings of the nation. It was a stunning illustration of the dollar’s political risk. The US government can seize another sovereign country’s dollar reserves at the flip of a switch. The Wall Street Journal, in an article titled “If Russian Currency Reserves Aren’t Really Money, the World Is in for a Shock,” noted: “Sanctions have shown that currency reserves accumulated by central banks can be taken away. With China taking note, this may reshape geopolitics, economic management and even the international role of the U.S. dollar.” Russian President Putin said the US had defaulted on its obligations and that the dollar is no longer a reliable currency. The incident has eroded trust in the US dollar as the global reserve currency and catalyzed significant countries to use alternatives in trade and their reserves. China, India, Iran, and Turkey, among other countries, announced, or already are, doing business with Russia in their local currencies instead of the US dollar. These countries represent a market of over three billion people that no longer need to use the US dollar to trade with one another. The US government has incentivized almost half of mankind to find alternatives to the dollar by attempting to isolate Russia. Warning Sign #2: Rubles, Gold, and Bitcoin for Gas, Oil, and Other Commodities Russia is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, lumber, wheat, fertilizer, and palladium (a crucial component in cars). It is the second-largest exporter of oil and aluminum and the third-largest exporter of nickel and coal. Russia is a major producer and processor of uranium for nuclear power plants. Enriched uranium from Russia and its allies provides electricity to 20% of the homes in the US. Aside from China, Russia produces more gold than any other country, accounting for more than 10% of global production. These are just a handful of examples. There are many strategic commodities that Russia dominates. In short, Russia is not just an oil and gas powerhouse but a commodity superpower. After the US government seized Russia’s US dollar reserves, Moscow has little use for the US dollar. Moscow does not want to exchange its scarce and valuable commodities for politicized money that its rivals can take away on a whim. Would the US government ever tolerate a situation where the US Treasury held its reserves in rubles in Russia? The head of the Russian Parliament recently called the US dollar a “candy wrapper” but not the candy itself. In other words, the dollar has the outward appearance of money but is not real money. That’s why Russia is no longer accepting US dollars (or euros) in exchange for its energy. They are of no use to Russia. So instead, Moscow is demanding payment in rubles. That’s an urgent problem for Europe, which cannot survive without Russian commodities. The Europeans have no alternative to Russian energy and have no choice but to comply. European buyers must now first buy rubles with their euros and use them to pay for Russian gas, oil, and other exports. This is a big reason why the ruble has recovered all of the value it lost in the initial days of the Ukraine invasion and then made further gains. In addition to rubles, the top Russian energy official said Moscow would also accept gold or Bitcoin in return for its commodities. “If they want to buy, let them pay either in hard currency—and this is gold for us… you can also trade Bitcoins.” Here’s the bottom line. US dollars are no longer needed (or wanted) to buy Russian commodities. Warning Sign #3: The Petrodollar System Flirts With Collapse Oil is by far the largest and most strategic commodity market. For the last 50 years, virtually anyone who wanted to import oil needed US dollars to pay for it. That’s because, in the early ’70s, the US made an agreement to protect Saudi Arabia in exchange for ensuring, among other things, all OPEC producers only accept US dollars for their oil. Every country needs oil. And if foreign countries need US dollars to buy oil, they have a compelling reason to hold large dollar reserves. This creates a huge artificial market for US dollars and forces foreigners to soak up many of the new currency units the Fed creates. Naturally, this gives a tremendous boost to the value of the dollar. The system has helped create a deeper, more liquid market for the dollar and US Treasuries. It also allows the US government to keep interest rates artificially low, thereby financing enormous deficits it otherwise would be unable to. In short, the petrodollar system has been the bedrock of the US financial system for the past 50 years. But that’s all about to change… and soon. After it invaded Ukraine, the US government kicked Russia out of the dollar system and seized hundreds of billions in dollar reserves of the Russian central bank. Washington has threatened to do the same to China for years. These threats helped ensure that China cracked down on North Korea, didn’t invade Taiwan, and did other things the US wanted. These threats against China may be a bluff, but if the US government carried them out—as it recently did against Russia—it would be like dropping a financial nuclear bomb on Beijing. Without access to dollars, China would struggle to import oil and engage in international trade. As a result, its economy would come to a grinding halt, an intolerable threat to the Chinese government. China would rather not depend on an adversary like this. This is one of the main reasons it created an alternative to the petrodollar system. After years of preparation, the Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE) launched a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan in 2017. Since then, any oil producer can sell its oil for something besides US dollars… in this case, the Chinese yuan. There’s one big issue, though. Most oil producers don’t want to accumulate a large yuan reserve, and China knows this. That’s why China has explicitly linked the crude futures contract with the ability to convert yuan into physical gold—without touching China’s official reserves—through gold exchanges in Shanghai (the world’s largest physical gold market) and Hong Kong. PetroChina and Sinopec, two Chinese oil companies, provide liquidity to the yuan crude futures by being big buyers. So, if any oil producer wants to sell their oil in yuan (and gold indirectly), there will always be a bid. After years of growth and working out the kinks, the INE yuan oil future contract is now ready for prime time. And now that the US has banned Russia from the dollar system, there is an urgent need for a credible system capable of handling hundreds of billions worth of oil sales outside of the US dollar and financial system. The Shanghai International Energy Exchange is that system. Back to Saudi Arabia… For nearly 50 years, the Saudis had always insisted anyone wanting their oil would need to pay with US dollars, upholding their end of the petrodollar system. But that could all change soon… Remember, China is already the world’s largest oil importer. Moreover, the amount of oil it imports continues to grow as it fuels an economy of over 1.4 billion people (more than 4x larger than the US). China is Saudi Arabia’s top customer. Beijing buys over 25% of Saudi oil exports and wants to buy more. The Chinese would rather not have to use the US dollar, the currency of their adversary, to buy an essential commodity. In this context, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Chinese and the Saudis had entered into serious discussions to accept yuan as payment for Saudi oil exports instead of dollars. The WSJ article claims the Saudis are angry at the US for not supporting it enough in its war against Yemen. They were further dismayed by the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the nuclear negotiations with Iran. In short, the Saudis don’t think the US is holding up its end of the deal. So they don’t feel like they need to hold up their part. Even the WSJ admits such a move would be disastrous for the US dollar. “The Saudi move could chip away at the supremacy of the US dollar in the international financial system, which Washington has relied on for decades to print Treasury bills it uses to finance its budget deficit.” Here’s the bottom line. Saudi Arabia—the linchpin of the petrodollar system—is flirting in the open with China about selling its oil in yuan. One way or another—and probably soon—the Chinese will find a way to compel the Saudis to accept the yuan. The sheer size of the Chinese market makes it impossible for Saudi Arabia—and other oil exporters—to ignore China’s demands to pay in yuan indefinitely. Moreover, using the INE to exchange oil for gold further sweetens the deal for oil exporters. Sometime soon, there will be a lot of extra dollars floating around suddenly looking for a home now that they are not needed to purchase oil. It signals an imminent and enormous change for anyone holding US dollars. It would be incredibly foolish to ignore this giant red warning sign. Warning Sign #4: Out of Control Money Printing and Record Price Increases In March of 2020, the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, exercised unfathomable power… At the time, it was the height of the stock market crash amid the COVID hysteria. People were panicking as they watched the market plummet, and they turned to the Fed to do something. In a matter of days, the Fed created more dollars out of thin air than it had for the US’s nearly 250-year existence. It was an unprecedented amount of money printing that amounted to more than $4 trillion and nearly doubled the US money supply in less than a year. One trillion dollars is almost an unfathomable amount of money. The human mind has trouble wrapping itself around such figures. Let me try to put it into perspective. One million seconds ago was about 11 days ago. One billion seconds ago was 1988. One trillion seconds ago was 30,000 BC. For further perspective, the daily economic output of all 331 million people in the US is about $58 billion. At the push of a button, the Fed was creating more dollars out of thin air than the economic output of the entire country. The Fed’s actions during the Covid hysteria—which are ongoing—amounted to the biggest monetary explosion that has ever occurred in the US. When the Fed initiated this program, it assured the American people its actions wouldn’t cause severe price increases. But unfortunately, it didn’t take long to prove that absurd assertion false. As soon as rising prices became apparent, the mainstream media and Fed claimed that the inflation was only “transitory” and that there was nothing to be worried about. Of course, they were dead wrong, and they knew it—they were gaslighting. The truth is that inflation is out of control, and nothing can stop it. Even according to the government’s own crooked CPI statistics, which understates reality, inflation is rising. That means the actual situation is much worse. Recently the CPI hit a 40-year high and shows little sign of slowing down. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the CPI exceed its previous highs in the early 1980s as the situation gets out of control. After all, the money printing going on right now is orders of magnitude greater than it was then. Warning Sign #5: Fed Chair Admits Dollar Supremacy Is Dead “It’s possible to have more than one reserve currency.” These are the recent words of Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. It’s a stunning admission from the one person who has the most control over the US dollar, the current world reserve currency. It would be as ridiculous as Mike Tyson saying that it’s possible to have more than one heavyweight champion. In other words, the jig is up. Not even the Chairman of the Federal Reserve can go along with the farce of maintaining the dollar’s supremacy anymore… and neither should you. Conclusion It’s clear the US dollar’s days of unchallenged dominance are quickly ending—something even the Fed Chairman openly admits. To recap, here are the five imminent, flashing red warning signs the end of dollar hegemony is near. Warning Sign #1: Russia Sanctions Prove Dollar Reserves “Aren’t Really Money” Warning Sign #2: Rubles, Gold, and Bitcoin for Gas, Oil, and Other Commodities Warning Sign #3: The Petrodollar System Flirts With Collapse Warning Sign #4: Out of Control Money Printing and Record Price Increases Warning Sign #5: Fed Chair Admits Dollar Supremacy Is Dead If we take a step back and zoom out, the Big Picture is clear. We are likely on the cusp of a historic shift… and what’s coming next could change everything. *  *  * The economic trajectory is troubling. Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the course of these trends in motion. The best you can and should do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey and his colleagues just released an urgent new PDF report that explains what could come next and what you can do about it. Click here to download it now. Tyler Durden Sat, 05/21/2022 - 14:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 21st, 2022

The Real Reasons Behind the Crypto Crash, and What We Can Learn from Terra’s Fall

UST's downfall could have short-term and long-term ripple effects, especially as skeptical legislators like Elizabeth Warren survey the damage Crypto markets are in freefall this month—and their struggles have been gravely exacerbated by the demise of a $60 billion project that critics are calling a Ponzi scheme. The project in question is TerraUSD (UST), a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar that its supporters hoped would upend traditional payment systems across the world. But it was wiped out in the span of days when investors panicked and tried to pull out their money, causing a vicious, self-enforcing bank run. The crash bankrupted many investors and pulled down the entire crypto market with it: over $400 billion in value was wiped out in terms of crypto market capitalization. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “This is among the most painful weeks in crypto history & one we’ll reckon with for a long time to come,” Jake Chervinsky, the head of policy at the DC-based lobbying firm Blockchain Association, wrote on Twitter. While Terra investors were the ones most immediately hurt, its downfall could have both short-term and long-term ripple effects for crypto and beyond, especially as skeptical legislators and regulators survey the damage. “People have lost their life savings through crypto investments, and there aren’t enough protections in place to safeguard consumers from these risks,” Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote in a statement to TIME. “We need stronger rules and stronger enforcement to regulate this highly volatile industry.” Here’s what happened, and what lies in store following the debacle. What happened, exactly? Terra’s rapid rise and fall can be difficult to explain succinctly without any prior knowledge of the blockchain. In fact, many of its boosters hid behind obfuscation and jargon to rebut some of its obvious flaws. Here’s a brief explanation. Terra is its own blockchain, just like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Its foremost product is the UST stablecoin, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar. Stablecoins are used by crypto traders as safe havens for when markets in DeFi (decentralized finance) get choppy: instead of converting their more volatile assets into hard cash, which can be expensive and trigger tax implications, traders simply trade them for stablecoins. Some stablecoins derive their value from being fully backed by reserves: if investors decide they ever want out, the stablecoin’s foundation should theoretically have enough cash on hand to repay all of them at once. UST, on the other hand, is an algorithmic stablecoin, which relies upon code, constant market activity, and sheer belief in order to keep its peg to the dollar. UST’s peg was also theoretically propped up by its algorithmic link to Terra’s base currency, Luna. For the last six months, investors have been buying UST for one main reason: to profit off a borrowing and lending platform called Anchor, which offered a 20% yield to anyone who bought UST and lent it to the protocol. When this opportunity was announced, many critics immediately likened it to a Ponzi scheme, saying it would be mathematically impossible for Terra to give such a high return to all of their investors. Terra team members even acknowledged that this was the case—but likened the rate to a marketing spend to raise awareness, in the same way that Uber and Lyft offered severely discounted rides at the beginning of their existence. But some blockchain experts say that last week, wealthy investors pulled off a maneuver in which they borrowed huge amounts of Bitcoin to buy UST, with the intention of making huge profits when the value of UST fell, otherwise known as short-selling. This caused UST to depeg from the dollar. A bank run ensued, with investors who had earned interest via Anchor scrambling to get out the door before it was too late. Their activity caused the linked currency Luna to also crash in what is known as a “death spiral.” As of now, UST is worth 12 cents, and Luna is worth fractions of a penny after being worth as much as $116 in April. The life savings of many Terra and Luna investors vanished in a matter of days. The r/Terraluna subreddit filled with people opening up about their mental health issues and contemplating suicide. “I’m going through some of the darkest, most severe mental pain of my life. It still doesn’t seem real that I lost $180,000,” one poster wrote. Terra dragged down Bitcoin and the whole crypto market Before Terra’s crash, cryptocurrency values were already on the decline, due in part to the Federal Reserve raising its interest rates. (They did so to stop inflation, which has caused people to spend less money.) But UST’s crash put another dent in the overall market, most centrally because Terra creator Do Kwon had bought billions worth in Bitcoin as a safeguard for UST. When he and the Luna Foundation Guard deployed more than $3 billion to defend the peg, in doing so he caused downward pressure on the market, causing other large investors to sell off their Bitcoin shares. Bitcoin hit its lowest point since December 2020, and Kwon’s ploy to save UST was unsuccessful. “The way these algorithmic stablecoins are designed, they have this upward force during bull markets, which is how they get so popular,” says Sam MacPherson, an engineer at MakerDAO and the co-founder of the software design company Bellwood Studios. “But the same forces act in reverse during bear markets and expose their fundamental flaws. So that is eventually what triggered [the crash].” The ripple effects were felt throughout the crypto ecosystem. Because firms sold around $30,000 of Ether in their own attempt to defend UST’s peg, Ether also plunged below $2000 for the first time since July 2021. As many investors tried to cash out their Ethereum-based stablecoins, their sheer number of transactions caused Ethereum’s transaction fees to spike, causing people to forfeit even more money. Coinbase, one of the crypto world’s biggest and most mainstream companies, slumped 35% last week. And the NFT ecosystem plunged 50% over the last seven days by sales volume, according to Cryptoslam. The cumulative effect was the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars across the ecosystem. Many worry that Terra’s crash is the first domino precipitating a long-foretold “crypto winter,” in which mainstream investors lose interest and values remain low for months.“ I suspect some cryptocurrencies will be worthless and that capital investment in the space will slow to a crawl as investors nurse their losses, much as we saw in the Internet bubble,” Bloomberg’s Edward Harrison wrote. So, what could happen next as a result of the crash? Regulations could tighten Stablecoins have long been drawing the scrutiny of regulators. Congress held a hearing weighing their risks and benefits in December. The same month, President Biden’s working group called for “urgent” action to regulate them. Terra’s crash gives even more ammo to regulators who argue that the space needs to be roped under government control. On May 12, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for “comprehensive” regulations of stablecoins, saying that while the current crash is too small to threaten the whole financial system, stablecoins are “growing very rapidly. They present the same kinds of risks that we have known for centuries in connection with bank runs.” Hilary Allen, a professor at American University Washington College of Law who testified about the risks of stablecoins at the congressional hearing in December, says that the fallout of the Terra crash gives us a glimpse of what could be in store should crypto move toward the mainstream without regulation. “In a few years time, something like this could have many more pathways to cause broader harm, especially if the banks continue to get closer to this space,” she says. “I think it’s critical that regulators and policymakers see this moment as a time to put up whatever firewall they can between the traditional financial system and DeFi.” Massachusetts Representative Jake Auchincloss tells TIME that he’s in the process of drafting legislation requiring stablecoins to be federally audited. Auchincloss doesn’t seek to ban stablecoins, as he believes they could play a role in “keeping the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.” But he hopes to bring stablecoins under the purview of a federal bureau like the Comptroller of the Currency; to make sure stablecoin issuers can prove they have 90 days of liquid reserves; and to explore the idea of mandating that they provide insurance for customers. “We’re going to let private sector actors make their own risk-reward decisions, and we’re going to empower the federal government to ensure that there’s no systemic risk forming from the sector,” he says. Senator Warren has been one of the most vocal public detractors of crypto, and took Terra’s collapse as evidence for why regulators need to “clamp down” on stablecoins and DeFi “before it is too late.” Across the Atlantic, the European Commission is considering implementing a hard cap on the daily activity of large stablecoins, according to Coindesk. Much of the crypto world, meanwhile, seems to have become resigned to the reality of incoming regulation. “A lot of lives have been ruined. The rest of the crypto ecosystem needs to be open to working with regulators such that we can deter these types of situations from happening in the future,” MacPherson says. Boundary-pushing stablecoins might be over For many years now, ambitious blockchain developers have embarked upon the quest of creating a functional and safe algorithmic stablecoin, in the hopes that they might be more resistant to inflation than reserve-backed stablecoins and less susceptible to governmental oversight or seizure. But all of them eventually lost their peg and failed. UST, for a few months, was the medium’s crowning success story—and now is its biggest failure. Its crushing defeat will cast a long shadow over any developer that tries it next: venture capital firms and investors will likely be much more leery of jumping into similar models. Two other boundary-pushing stablecoins, Frax and magic internet money (MIM), saw massive drops in their market caps last week despite holding their peg to the dollar. “I think this has rightly destroyed any faith in the algorithmic stablecoin model,” Allen says. “It’s quite possible after Terra, we might never see them again—although I never say never when it comes to crypto.” Over the last week, many leaders in the crypto community have scrambled to distance UST from other types of stablecoins, arguing that reserve-backed stablecoins are comparatively secure and should be allowed to continue to flourish with minimal regulation. Chervinsky, at the Blockchain Association, wrote on Twitter that UST was “in a category of its own,” compared to other models that are “very stable and reliable.” Matt Maximo, a researcher at the crypto investor Grayscale Investments, wrote to TIME in an email that UST’s crash could lead to more demand for dollar-backed or overcollateralized stablecoins. Allen, however, argues that reserve-backed stablecoins still carry risk. “The best analogy with these reserve stablecoins is with money market mutual funds,” she says, referring to a type of fund whose failure helped trigger the 2008 financial crisis. “And those have had runs and have been bailed out.” (The economics journalist Jacob Goldstein made the same comparison in TIME’s Future of Money issue in October.) Venture capital may stop pouring money into crypto Over the past couple years, an astonishing amount of money has flown into the crypto space via venture capital firms, perhaps most notably from Andreessen Horowitz. Terra itself was the beneficiary of a slew of brand-name investors, including Pantera Capital and Delphi Digital. UST’s crash could raise mistrust on both sides. “It is likely that many of the institutions that have invested in the space may see significant short-term losses, resulting in a slowdown in venture investing,” Maximo writes to TIME. Chris McCann and Edith Yeung, general partners at the crypto-focused VC firm Race Capital, told Bloomberg this week that they had heard of deals falling apart, being repriced, or even founders getting “ghosted” by potential investors. MacPherson, on the other hand, turned the blame for Terra’s crash in part onto the VC firms that lent their institutional trust to the perilous project. “I think they should take some responsibility with how they’ve ruined some of these regular folks who invested in UST not knowing the de-peg risk,” he says. “Some of the [firms] made a lot of money off this, and I think they should compensate those who have lost.” At the moment, Terra’s major investors are being forced to decide whether to help bail the project out or cut and run. Many of them have been awfully quiet over the last week. Michael Novogratz, the billionaire founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital who got a giant Luna shoulder tattoo in January, has not tweeted since May 8. A representative for Lightspeed Venture Partners, a major crypto-focused firm that invested $250,000 in the Luna token, wrote that they remained committed to the space. “Lightspeed has been investing in blockchain for over 8 years. We see this as a computing paradigm shift that is bigger than the ebb and flow of the short term price of Bitcoin. We are doubling down, specifically in infrastructure, DeFi and emerging use cases,” they wrote. The hype over decentralized finance may be slowing Much of the promise of crypto lies in its decentralized nature: that its value doesn’t derive from manipulable controlling authority like a bank or a government, but rather sleekly-designed code and network effects. This week, some crypto enthusiasts have argued that Terra’s crash was a successful stress test for this hypothesis: that Bitcoin’s perseverance amid such a giant sell-off proves its durability. But Terra’s crash did reveal many centralized pressure points in the ecosystem, which, if they didn’t break, at least bent significantly. While there’s no CEO of crypto, one charismatic founder—Terra’s Do Kwon—was able to single handedly create a project that then erased hundreds of billions of dollars in value. He then used his position of power to defend his coin in the same way that the Federal Reserve might, in turn crushing the entire market. Kwon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The attack showed the vulnerability of Curve pools—decentralized exchanges in which prices can shift quickly due to whales exiting or entering them—and Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, which did not have deep enough liquidity to sustain the massive amounts of UST entering circulation. In fact, the Terra saga shows that blockchain’s decentralized nature allows bad actors to have an outsized impact on the system. But many enthusiasts say that events like this actually help weed out those trying to take advantage of the system, and will lead to a more robust and more educated user base going forward. “The permissionless nature of the blockchain means that we can’t prevent it,” MacPherson says. “But I think we should do a better job of informing the public what the risks are.” Ponzi schemes might find fewer takers… or not Whether the debacle sticks in people’s minds as a learning experience is another question entirely. On Thursday, the controversial crypto entrepreneur Justin Sun announced an algorithmic stablecoin with 40% APR for lenders. Galois Capital, in a snarky response, tweeted: “This industry being a self-regulating one requires that learning happen. The results were mixed.” It seems that there are still plenty of crypto investors who will accept extremely high risk, so long as the prospect of extremely high riches remains......»»

Category: topSource: timeMay 17th, 2022

GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters falsely says the gender pay gap is a "fake left-wing narrative" because men do "the most dangerous jobs"

"Men are the ones who are doing risky, you know, fishing–crab in Alaska," Masters, a Peter Thiel protege, said in a newly released video. Republican Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters.Blake Masters for US Senate An Arizona Republican Senate candidate said the gender pay gap is "a left-wing narrative." Blake Masters, an acolyte of businessman Peter Theil, made the comments in a video obtained by NBC. Masters has received more than $10 million in support from Thiel via a super PAC. Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters questioned the existence of a gender-based pay gap in America in a newly obtained video from NBC News, even though data shows men typically earn more than women for comparable jobs."Women are not paid less in America than men," Masters said. "It's a left-wing narrative, this gender pay gap. When you control for the occupations, when you control for people taking time out to, you know, birth children, things are actually pretty equal. And men do the most dangerous jobs."—Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) May 11, 2022Masters' campaign declined to provide comment when Insider reached out.NBC News first reported on Masters' statements on Wednesday. According to NBC, Masters made the comments during an appearance at a February 4 candidate forum in Scottsdale, Arizona. Masters is a close ally of Peter Thiel, a billionaire tech entrepreneur. Through a super PAC, Thiel has already spent $10 million to help Masters win.Masters said that the gap does not exist when it is taken into account that men do "most dangerous jobs." He made the remarks during a discussion of the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA once received bipartisan support, but it has become heavily politicized in recent years as more Republicans oppose passing a Constitutional amendment that would prohibit discrimination on the ba"Men are the ones who are doing risky, you know, fishing–crab in Alaska," Masters said. And sometimes those jobs pay more. Sometimes those jobs pay more, and so I think we got to push back on the fake left-wing narrative that women don't have equal rights in this country."The reality is different from Masters' assertion as the gender-based pay gap has been extensively researched and documented. Pew Research found last year that the gap between men and women has "remained fairly stable for the last 15 years or so." In 2020, Pew found that women earned 84% of what men earned.Regarding Master's assertions, researchers concede that various factors and outliers can affect the size of the gap. But research that tries to take this into account still finds a gap exists. Glass Door's latest survey of the situation found "workers with the same job title, employer and location, the US gender pay gap is about 5.4 percent." In other words, according to their findings, women make 94.6 cents on the dollar compared to men.The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, previously said there's some merit to suggestions that the gap narrows based on career differences. But researchers there have also argued that career choice isn't as straightforward as it seems."Gender discrimination doesn't happen only in the pay-setting practices of employers making wage offers to nearly identical workers of different genders," Elise Gould, Jessica Schieder, and Kathleen Geier wrote in 2016. "It can happen at every stage of a woman's life, from steering her away from science and technology education to shouldering her with home responsibilities that impede her capacity to work the long hours of demanding professions."Masters is polling in the top three of Arizona's Republican Senate primary, just six percentage points behind Jim Lamon in first place, according to Trafalgar and the Real Clear Politics polling average.Masters' has received more than $10 million from billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel, mostly in the form of donations to a pro-Masters super PAC called Saving Arizona.Masters had been working as the chief operating officer of Thiel Capital and the president of the Thiel Foundation before officially launching his campaign.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 11th, 2022

How Warner Bros. Discovery post-merger can compete with Netflix and Disney as the streaming wars evolve

With the ink still drying on Discovery's $43 billion acquisition of WarnerMedia, CEO David Zaslav is building the combined Warner Bros. Discovery into a media powerhouse. The Warner Bros. film studio lot in Burbank, California.AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GCImages via Getty Images WarnerMedia and Discovery have merged into Warner Bros. Discovery in a $43 billion deal. The new company has the breadth and depth of content to compete with Netflix and Disney in streaming. CEO David Zaslav, formerly chief of Discovery, is a highly regarded exec who faces challenges ahead. Amid a wave of consolidation in Hollywood over the past five years, WarnerMedia and Discovery are the latest major media companies to merge, resulting in a behemoth of more than 40,000 staffers and a portfolio that now spans properties from iconic film studio Warner Bros. to premium cable network HBO to basic cable mainstays HGTV and Animal Planet. With the ink still drying on Dicovery's $43 billion acquisition of the larger WarnerMedia, a new outline of the combined entity — now named Warner Bros. Discovery — is taking shape under the leadership of former Discovery CEO David Zaslav, following the exit of WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar. Read Kilar's full memo that he sent to employees as he departed the companyWhile his strategy is still forming, Zaslav said during a Discovery earnings call two months ahead of the deal close that "we want to compete against Disney and Netflix, but we are a very different company than the two of them," adding that "we're much broader than Disney, and we have much more identifiable IP."Read more about how CEO David Zaslav set priorities for the new Warner Bros. DiscoveryZaslav also said the companies' combined spending on content would be "careful and judicious," telling analysts and investors that "our goal is to compete with the leading streaming services, not to win the spending war."As streaming incumbent Netflix grapples with its first subscriber declines in a decade and a plummeting stock price, here's how WBD is positioning itself to capitalize on its enormous range of assets — which include Harry Potter, Batman, and HBO hits such as "Succession."Layoffs in the C-suite and a streaming strategy resetAt the top of the WBD food chain, changes have been swift, with most of Kilar's direct reports set to leave, including WarnerMedia studio and networks chief Ann Sarnoff, HBO Max general manager Andy Forssell, CFO Jennifer Biry, communications and inclusion head Christy Haubegger, among others.Read more about the WarnerMedia senior leaders who will not stay on with the combined companyThe exits — particularly those of Forssell and Haubegger — rattled staffers. Haubegger led a uniquely empowered equity and inclusion division, reporting directly to Kilar as opposed to HR, unlike the typical structure at many Hollywood companies. Forssell, a Kilar deputy who had worked with him at Hulu many years ago, was a well-regarded exec and architect of HBO Max whom many insiders had expected to stay on. Read more about insider fears after the first round of leadership layoffs: 'Why get rid of someone who knows how the thing works?'Zaslav made his first appearance in front of former WarnerMedia staffers with a visit to CNN in mid-April, treating staff to pasta and sushi lunch just two weeks after the launch of streaming news service CNN+. At the time, he said incoming CNN chief Chris Licht would make the call on the fledgling platform's future strategy.Read more about Warner Bros. Discovery CEO Zaslav's visit to NYC, promising that a company hiring freeze would end 'pretty quickly'But not long after that, just three weeks after the launch of the paid subscription service, Warner Bros. Discovery abruptly shuttered CNN+. Licht said in a statement that CNN would be "strongest as part of WBD's streaming strategy which envisions news as an important part of a compelling broader offering along with sports, entertainment, and nonfiction content." Read more about the shutdown of CNN+, called 'a combination of the wrong strategy and wrong capital allocation' Many insiders faulted not Licht, however, but rather Kilar and recently ousted CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who had left the company in February after belatedly disclosing a relationship with a colleague. "This was all ego. All a power play for a bigger job or independence. Hubris. Nothing more," one former WarnerMedia exec said of Zucker, with another insider calling it a "vanity project." Read more about the rapid demise of CNN+ as insiders blame Jeff Zucker and Jason Kilar for the streamer's downfall New leadership in streaming and continuity in contentAs for Zaslav's plans, the CEO gathered thousands of his employees on Warner Bros. historic studio lot in Burbank, California, where Oprah Winfrey (whose OWN cable network is in the Discovery portfolio) recounted to staffers that Zas had first approached then-WarnerMedia parent AT&T about a potential merger with Discovery in early 2021.Read more about the Warner Bros. Discovery town hall where David Zaslav laid out his content strategy Longtime Zaslav deputy JB Perrette will now oversee all streaming strategy at the merged WBD, with HBO and HBO Max head Casey Bloys, TV studio chief Channing Dungey, and film studio head Toby Emmerich continuing on in their current positions. Read more about mystery man JB Perrette, who insiders say is a smart, low-key problem solverStreaming services HBO Max and Discovery+ are set to combine into one massive platform, which streaming search engine Reelgood estimated would result in a content library of over 2,900 TV shows (greater than Netflix's), and over 3,000 movies. Read more about what a combined HBO Max and Discovery+ would offer to viewers Questions remain about the DC brand, sports rights, and 'a heavy lift' to combine two global companies' forcesSeveral questions remain, including the fate of DC, which has already seen personnel cuts in the wake of WarnerMedia's previous AT&T parentage. "The Discovery merger is not scaring anyone on the comics side like the AT&T deal did," said one comics-industry insider close to DC. "I think that one showed people how disposable they were, so the Discovery merger is just another day of being a cog in a machine." Read about comic industry insiders' hopes that the merger will bring stability to DC after heavy layoffs There's also the looming fate of the unscripted teams on the former WarnerMedia side of the business. While Discovery offered limited scripted series, it is a behemoth in reality TV, known for penny-pinching and driving down costs. Insiders wonder how closely Zaslav will scrutinize the big budgets at HBO and HBO Max's original programming, where an hour-long program's production costs are said to easily run three times as high as Discovery's.Read more about industry insiders' concern that there may be 'intense pressure' to trim unscripted budgets at HBO and HBO Max at Warner Bros. DiscoveryNo word yet, either, on how salaries might be impacted. Insider analyzed salary data at WarnerMedia and Discovery staffers, where recent wages ranged from $55 an hour to $300,00 a year. Read more about Warner Bros. Discovery salaries, analyzed via work-visa disclosuresAnd challenges no doubt face even a seasoned executive like Zaslav. Analysts point to debt, sports rights cost inflation, and a hefty load of linear cable networks, including Turner's TBS, TNT, and TruTV, not to mention the uncertainty that hangs over the staff of a newly combined company, as more layoffs loom. "There are business planning rhythms that need to be harmonized; that's everything from back-of-house systems like payroll, health benefits, compensation structures, vacation policies," one media executive told Insider in late April. "All this mundane stuff can be a gargantuan distraction in addition to all of the front-of-house business planning. It's going to be a heavy lift."Read about the 5 key challenges for David Zaslav as he merges WarnerMedia and Discovery Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 11th, 2022

The Tucker Carlson origin story

Tucker Carlson's journey from prep school provocateur to Fox News flamethrower, according to his friends and former classmates. Tucker Carlson during a CNN National Town Meeting on coverage of the White House sex scandal, on January 28, 1998.Richard Ellis/Getty Images Tucker Carlson is remembered as a provocateur and gleeful contrarian by those who knew him in his early days. His bohemian artist mother abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will. At a Rhode Island prep school and at Trinity College, classmates remember him as a skilled debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audiences. On Oct. 29, 1984, New York police killed an elderly Black woman named Eleanor Bumpurs in her own home. Bumpers, who lived in a public housing complex in the Bronx, had fallen four months behind on her rent. When officials from the city housing authority tried to evict her, she refused, and they called the police. Five officers responded by storming into her apartment. Bumpurs, who had a history of mental illness, grabbed a butcher knife as two officers pushed her against a wall with their plastic shields and a metal pole. A third officer fired two shots from his 12-gauge shotgun, striking Bumpurs in her hand and chest.Eleanor Bumpurs' death dominated the city's news for two months and led the NYPD to revise its guidelines for responding to emotionally disturbed individuals.At St. George's prep school, some 175 miles away in Rhode Island, the incident deeply haunted Richard Wayner. He was one of the school's few Black students and had grown up in a residential tower not far from where Bumpurs had lived. He earned straight As and was so admired that in 1984 his peers elected him senior prefect, the prep equivalent of student body president, making him the first Black class leader in the school's 125-year history. Harvard soon beckoned.Wayner was frustrated with how the St. George's community seemed to ignore the conversations about racial justice that were happening outside the cloistered confines of Aquidneck Island. It bothered Wayne that almost no one at St. George's seemed to know anything about Bumpurs' killing. "You had your crew, you put your head down, and you tried to get through three or four years of prep school with your psyche intact," Wayner said of those days.As senior prefect, one of the duties was to deliver an address each week at the mandatory Sunday chapel service. One Sunday, perched from the chapel podium, Wayner described the shooting as a sea of white faces stared back at him. He concluded with the words: "Does anyone think that woman deserved to die?"Near the front of the chapel, a single hand went up for a few brief seconds. It was Tucker Carlson.Eleanor Bumpurs was shot and killed by the New York Police Department on October 29, 1984APThen a sophomore, Tucker had a reputation as a gleeful contrarian – an indefatigable debater and verbal jouster who, according to some, could also be a bit of a jerk. "Tucker was just sort of fearless," said Ian Toll, a St. George's alumnus who would go on to be a military historian. "Whether it was a legitimate shooting may have been a point of debate but the fact was that Tucker was an underclassmen and the culture was to defer to the seniors." Wayner himself never saw Tucker's hand go up, and the two kept in touch over the years. (Note on style: Tucker Carlson and the members of his family are referred to here by their first names to avoid confusion.)  Four decades later, glimmers of that prep school provocateur appear on Tucker's Prime Time show on Fox, which garners an average of between 3 to 4 million viewers a night. His furrowed visage and spoiling-for-a-fight demeanor are all too familiar to those who have known him for decades. In the words of Roger Stone, a Republican political operative, frequent guest, and longtime friend of Tucker's: "Tucker Carlson is the single most influential conservative journalist in America… It is his courage and his willingness to talk about issues that no one else is willing to cover that has led to this development."Tucker's name has even been floated as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024. "I mean, I guess if, like, I was the last person on earth, I could do it. But, I mean, it seems pretty unlikely that I would be that guy." he said on the "Ruthless" podcast in June, dismissing this possibility.Tucker's four decades in Washington, and his transition from conservative magazine writer to right-wing television pundit, have been well documented. But less well known are his early years and how they shaped him: his bohemian artist mother, who abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will; the Rhode Island prep school where he met his future spouse; and his formation into a contrarian debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audience with his attention-getting tactics.Tucker declined to participate in an interview with Insider, saying in a statement. "Your level of interest in the boring details of my life is creepy as hell, and also pathetic," he wrote. "You owe it to yourself and the country to do something useful with your talents. Please reassess."California roots Tucker Carlson's West Coast roots burrow as deep as a giant redwood. He was born in San Francisco in May 1969 as the excesses of the Sixties peaked and the conservative backlash to the counterculture and the Civil Rights movement started to take shape. Tucker's mother, Lisa McNear Lombardi, born in San Francisco in 1945, came from one of the state's storied frontier families. Lisa's mother, Mary Nickel James, was a cattle baron heiress. Her great-great-grandfather had owned 3 million acres of ranchland, making him among the largest landowners west of the Mississippi. Her father Oliver Lombardi was an insurance broker and descendant of Italian-speaking Swiss immigrants. Lisa enrolled at UC Berkeley, where she majored in architecture. She met Richard Carlson, a San Francisco TV journalist from a considerably less prosperous background, while still in college. Lisa and Richard eloped in Reno, Nevada in 1967. The couple didn't notify Lisa's mother, who was traveling in Europe with her new husband at the time. "Family members have been unable to locate them to reveal the nuptials," a gossip item published in the San Francisco Examiner dished.Tucker arrived two years later. A second son, Buckley, was born two years after that. As Richard's career began to flourish, the family moved first to Los Angeles and then, in 1975, to La Jolla, a moneyed, beach-front enclave about 12 miles north of San Diego. When Lisa and Richard divorced a year later, in 1976, Richard got full custody of their sons, then 6 and 4. According to three of Tucker's childhood classmates, Lisa disappeared from her sons' lives. They don't recall Tucker talking about her, or seeing her at school events. Marc Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate who went on to be executive producer of the Tony Kornheiser Show, says the two didn't talk much about Tucker's relationship with his mother and he got the impression that Tucker and Richard were exceptionally close. When Sterne's own parents split up that year, he said Tucker was supportive and understanding. Lisa spent the next two decades as an artist – moving first to Los Angeles, where she befriended the painter David Hockney, and later split her time between France and South Carolina with her husband, British painter Michael Vaughan. In 1979, Richard Carlson married Patricia Swanson, heiress to the Swanson frozen foods empire that perfected the frozen Salisbury steak for hassle-free dinners. She soon legally adopted Tucker and Buckley.  When Lisa died in 2011, her estate was initially divided equally between Tucker, his brother Buckley, and Vaughan. But in 2013, Vaughan's daughter from another marriage found a one-page handwritten document in Lisa's art studio in France that left her assets to her surviving husband with an addendum that stated, "I leave my sons Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson and Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson one dollar each." A protracted battle over Lombardi's estate involving Vaughan and the Carlson brothers wound up in probate court. The Carlsons asserted the will was forged but a forensic witness determined that Lisa had written the note. The case eventually went to the California Appellate Court, which allowed the Carlson brothers to keep their shares in 2019."Lisa was basically sort of a hippie and a free spirit," said one attorney who  represented the Vaughan family and recalled having conversations about the case. "She was very liberal and she did not agree with Tucker's politics. But she stuck the will in the book, everyone forgot about it, and then she passed away."In a 2017 interview with The New Yorker, Tucker described the dissolution of his family as a "totally bizarre situation — which I never talk about, because it was actually not really part of my life at all." Several pieces of art produced by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderLisa When Lisa left her husband and two young sons, she was escaping suburban family life in favor of the more bohemian existence as an artist. One of Tucker and Buckley's former teachers said their mother's absence "left some sour grapes." "I felt they sided with the father," Rusty Rushton, a former St. George's English teacher said. After the divorce, Lisa returned to Los Angeles and tried to break into the city's thriving contemporary art scene. She befriended Mo McDermott, an LA-based British sculptor, model, and longtime assistant to David Hockney, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. A few years before he met Lisa, the scene was captured in Jack Hazan's 1974 groundbreaking documentary "A Bigger Splash," which followed Hockney and his coterie of gay male friends idly lounging around the pool in his Hollywood Hills home."When love goes wrong, there's more than two people who suffer," said McDermott, playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself, in a voiceover in the documentary.Lisa and McDermott became a couple and Lisa won admission into Hockney's entourage. Hockney lived a far more reclusive lifestyle than his pop art compatriot Andy Warhol but some four dozen or so artists, photographers, and writers regularly passed through his properties."She was more like a hippie, arty kind of person. I couldn't ever imagine her being a mother," said Joan Quinn, the then-West Coast editor of Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, who knew Lisa during those years and still owns several of her works. "She was very nervous all the time… She was ill-content."The pair were often seen at Hockney's Hollywood Hills home and at Friday night gallery openings on La Cienega Boulevard. They collaborated on playful, large-scale wood sculptures of animals, vegetables, and trees. A handful of their pieces could be seen around Hockney's hillside ranch."Hockney had me over to meet them. He wanted a gallery to handle their work," said Molly Barnes, who owns a gallery in West Hollywood and gave the pair shows in 1983 and 1984. "They were brilliant and David loved Mo. He thought they were the best artists around.""She was quiet and intellectual and somewhat withdrawn," Barnes said. "She had come from a lot of money and that reflected on her personality. She wasn't a snob in any way but she had the manners of a private school girl and someone who was fighting the establishment."A sculpture by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderNone of them recall Lisa discussing her two sons. McDermott died in 1988. After his death, Hockney discovered that McDermott had been stealing drawings from him and selling them. Hockney said the betrayal helped bring on a heart attack. "I believe I had a broken heart," Hockney told The Guardian in 1995. (Hockney did not answer multiple inquiries about Lisa or McDermott.)In 1987, Lisa met Vaughan, one of Hockney's peers in the British art scene known as the "Bradford Mafia." They married in February 1989 and for years afterward they lived in homes in the Pyrenees of southwest France and South Carolina's Sea Islands.Lisa continued to make art, primarily oversized, wooden sculptures of everyday household items like peeled lemons and dice, but she exhibited her work infrequently. She died of cancer in 2011, at which point Carlson was a decade into his media career and a regular contributor on Fox News. Richard In contrast to Lisa's privileged upbringing, Richard's childhood was full of loss. Richard's mother was a 15-year-old high school girl who had starved herself during her pregnancy, and he was born with a condition called rickets. Six weeks later, his mother left him at an orphanage in Boston called The Home for Little Wanderers. Richard's father, who was 18, tried to convince her to kidnap the infant and marry him, but she refused. He shot and killed himself two blocks from her home.A Massachusetts couple fostered Richard for two years until he was adopted by a wool broker and his wife, which he described in a 2009 reflection for the Washington Post. His adoptive parents died when he was still a teenager and Richard was sent to the Naval Academy Preparatory School. He later enlisted in the Marines and enrolled in an ROTC program at the University of Mississippi to pay for college.In 1962, Richard developed an itch for journalism while working as a cop in Ocean City, Maryland at the age of 21, and the future NBC political correspondent Catherine Mackin, helped him get a copy boy job at the Los Angeles Times. Richard moved to San Francisco three years later and his career blossomed. He started producing television news features with his friend, Lance Brisson, the son of actress Rosalind Russell. They filmed migrant farm workers in the Imperial Valley living in cardboard abodes in 110 degree weather, traipsed the Sierra Nevada mountains to visit a hermit, and covered the Zodiac Killer and Bay Area riots (during one demonstration in 1966, they sent television feeds from their car where they trapped for four hours  and a crowd roughed up Brisson, which required four stitches under his left eye). Another time, they rented a helicopter in search of a Soviet trawler but they had to jump into the Pacific Ocean when the chopper ran low on fuel near the shore and crashed.In 1969, Richard and Brisson co-wrote an article for Look Magazine that claimed San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto had mafia ties. Alioto sued the magazine's owner for libel and won a $350,000 judgment when a judge determined the article's allegations were made with "actual malice" and "reckless disregard for whether they were true or not." (Richard was not a defendant in the case and has stood by his story. Brisson declined an interview.)Richard moved back to Los Angeles to join KABC's investigative team two years later. One series of stories that delved into a three-wheeled sports car called the Dale and the fraudulent marketing practices of its founder, Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, won a Peabody award in 1975. The series also outed Carmichael as a transgender woman. (Richard's role in Carmichael's downfall was explored in the HBO documentary "The Lady and the Dale.") Soon after arriving as an anchor for KFMB-TV, San Diego's CBS affiliate, Richard ran a story revealing that tennis pro Renee Richards, who had just won a tournament at the La Jolla Tennis Club, was a transgender woman."I said, 'You can't do this. I am a private person,'" Richards, who years later would advise Caitlyn Jenner about her transition, urged the television journalist to drop his story, according to a 2015 interview. "His reply? 'Dr. Richards, you were a private person until you won that tournament yesterday.'" By the time he left the anchor chair in 1977 to take a public relations job with San Diego Savings and Loan, Richard had soured on journalism. "I have seen a lot of arrogance and hypocrisy in the press and I don't like it," he told San Diego Magazine in 1977. "Television news is insipid, sophomoric, and superficial… There are so many things I think are important and interesting but the media can be counted on to do handstands on that kind of scandal and sexual sensation."Years later, Richard said that he never tried to encourage his eldest son in politics or journalism, but that Tucker had a clear interest in both from an early age. "I never thought he was going to be a reporter or a writer. I never encouraged him to do that," Richard told CSPAN of his eldest son in 2006. "I actually attempted not to encourage him politically, either. I decided those are the things that should be left up to them."A LaJolla, California post card.Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty ImagesA La Jolla childhoodAfter the divorce, Richard and his boys stayed in La Jolla in a house overlooking the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Friends of Tucker's would later say that the trauma of their mother's absence brought the three of them closer together.  "They both really admired their dad. He was a great source of wisdom. He's one of the great raconteurs you'll ever meet. They loved that glow that came from him," said Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate. "They both looked up to him, it was clear from my eyes."In an essay included in his book "The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism," Tucker described Richard as a kind parent who imbued family outings with a deeper message.One of Tucker's earliest memories, he writes, was from just after the divorce, when Tucker was seven and Buckley was five: the brothers gripping the edge of a luggage rack on the roof of his family's 1976 Ford Country Squire station wagon, while their father gunned the engine down a dirt road."I've sometimes wondered what car surfing was meant to teach us," Tucker wrote. "Was he trying to instill in us a proper sense of fatalism, the acknowledgement that there is only so much in life you can control? Or was it a lesson about the importance of risk?... Unless you're willing to ride the roof of a speeding station wagon, in other words, you're probably not going to leave your mark on the world."More often, the boys were left unsupervised and found their own trouble. Tucker once took a supermarket shopping cart and raced it down a hill in front of their house with Buckley in its basket. The cart tipped over, leaving Buckley with a bloody nose. He also recalled building makeshift hand grenades with hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil – using a recipe from their father's copy of "The Anarchist Cookbook"  and tossing them onto a nearby golf course."No one I know had a father like mine," Tucker wrote. "My father was funnier and more outrageous, more creative  and less willing to conform, than anyone I knew or have known since. My brother and I had the best time growing up."Richard sent Tucker to La Jolla Country Day, an upscale, largely white private school with a reputation as one of the best in Southern California, for elementary and middle school. In his book, "Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution," Tucker described his first grade teacher Marianna Raymond as "a living parody of earth-mother liberalism" who "wore long Indian-print skirts," and sobbed at her desk over the world's unfairness. "As a conservative, I had contempt for the whiny mawkishness of liberals. Stop blubbering and teach us to read. That was my position," he wrote. "Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.""I beg to differ," Raymond countered in an interview, saying that she was also Tucker's tutor during the summer after first grade and was even hired again. "I'm a great teacher. I'm sure he liked me." For her part, she remembered Tucker as a fair-haired tot who was "very sweet" and "very polite." (When The Washington Post reached out her her, she said Carlson's characterization had been "shocking.")  Friends from La Jolla remember that Tucker loved swimming the mile-and-a-half distance between La Jolla Shores Park and La Jolla Cove, jumping off cliffs that jut out into the Pacific Ocean, riffing on the drums, and playing Atari and BB gun games at the mall with his friends. "He was a happy kid. We were young, so we used to go to the beach. We did normal kid stuff," said Richard Borkum, a friend who is now a San Diego-based attorney. When they weren't at the beach or the mall, Borkum and another friend, Javier Susteata, would hang out at the Carlson home listening to The Who, AC/DC, and other classic rock bands. Borkum said the adults at the Carlson household largely left them alone. "I'm Jewish and Javier was Mexican and I'm not sure they were too happy we were going to their house," Borkum said.Another friend, Warren Barrett, remembers jamming with Tucker and going snow camping at Big Bear and snorkeling off Catalina Island with him in middle school."Tucker and I literally ate lunch together every day for two years," Barrett said. "He was completely the opposite of now. He was a cool southern California surfer kid. He was the nicest guy, played drums, and had a bunch of friends. And then something must have happened in his life that turned him into this evil diabolical shithead he is today."LaJolla is a upscale beach community outside of San Diego. Carlson and his family moved their in 1975.Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesSan Diego's next mayorRichard, meanwhile, was exploring a second career in public service. By 1980, he had risen to vice president of a bank headed by Gordon Luce, a California Republican power broker and former Reagan cabinet official. The following year, Richard's public profile got a boost when he tangled with another veteran television journalist, CBS's Mike Wallace. The 60 Minutes star had interviewed Richard for a story about low-income Californians who faced foreclosures from the bank after borrowing money to buy air conditioners without realizing they put their homes up for collateral. Richard had his own film crew tape the interview, and caught Wallace saying that people who had been defrauded were "probably too busy eating their watermelon and tacos." The remark made national headlines and Wallace was forced to apologize.Pete Wilson, the U.S. Senator and former San Diego mayor, encouraged Richard to run for office. In 1984, Richard entered the race to challenge San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock's re-election. "He was a very well-regarded guy," Hedgecock told Insider. "He had an almost Walter Cronkite-like appearance, but because he was in local news he was all about not offending anybody. He didn't have particularly strong views. He was nice looking, articulate, and made good appearances, but what he had to say was not particularly memorable other than he wanted me out of office."Sometimes Tucker tagged along for campaign events. "He would always show up in a sport coat, slacks and a bowtie and I thought that's really nice clothing for someone who is a kid," Hedgecock remembers. He was a very polite young man who didn't say much."Five days before voters went to the polls, Hedgecock went on trial for 15 counts of conspiracy and perjury, an issue that Richard highlighted in his television campaign ads. Richard still lost to Hedgecock 58 to 42 percent despite pouring nearly $800,000 into the race and outspending Hedgecock two to one. (Hedgecock was found guilty of violating campaign finance laws and resigned from office in 1985 but his convictions were overturned on appeal five years later.)People are seen near a beach in La Jolla, California, on April 15, 2020.Gregory Bull/AP PhotoPrep school In the fall of 1983, a teenaged Tucker traded one idyllic beachfront community for another.At 14, Tucker moved across the country to Middletown, Rhode Island, to attend St. George's School. (Buckley would follow him two years later.) The 125-year-old boarding school sits atop a hill overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, and is on the other side of Aquidneck Island where Richard Carlson went to naval school. The private school was known as a repository for children of wealthy East Coast families who were not as academically inclined as those who attended Exeter or Andover. Its campus had dorms named after titans of industry, verdant athletic fields, and a white-sand beach.Senators Claiborne Pell and Prescott Bush graduated, as did Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and poet Ogden Nash. Tucker's class included "Modern Family" actor Julie Bowen; Dede Gardner, the two-time Oscar-winning producer of "12 Years a Slave" and "Moonlight"; and former DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. Billy Bush – "Extra" host, and cousin to George W. Bush – was three years behind him.Tuition at St. George's cost $13,000 per year in the 1980s (it's now up to $67,000 for boarding school students) and student schedules were tightly regimented with breakfast, classes, athletics, dinner, and study hall encompassing each day. Students were required to take religion classes, and attend chapel twice a week. Faculty and staff would canvass the dorms on Thursdays and Sundays to ensure no one skipped the Episcopal service. Tucker impressed his new chums as an hyper-articulate merrymaker who frequently challenged upperclassmen who enforced dorm rules and the school's liberal faculty members."He was kind of a California surfer kid. He was funny, very intelligent, and genuinely well-liked," said Bryce Traister, who was one year ahead of Tucker and is now a professor at the University of British Columbia. "There were people who didn't like Tucker because they thought he was a bullshitter but he was very charming. He was a rascal and a fast-talker, as full of shit as he is today."Back then Tucker was an iconoclast more in the mold of Ferris Bueller than preppy neocon Alex P. Keaton, even if his wardrobe resembled the "Family Ties" star. Students were required to wear jackets, ties, and khakis, although most came to class disheveled. Tucker wore well-tailored coats and chinos, pairing his outfit with a ribbon-banded watch and colorful bowtie which would later become his signature. "He was always a very sharp dresser. He had a great rack of ties. He always knew how to tie a bowtie but he didn't exclusively wear a bowtie," said Sterne, Tucker's freshman year roommate. "He always had great clothes. It was a lot of Brooks Brothers." Their crew crew held court in each others' dorm rooms at Auchincloss, the freshman hall, kicking around a Hacky Sack and playing soccer, talking about Adolph Huxley, George Orwell, and Hemingway, and dancing to Tom Petty, the Grateful Dead, and U2 on the campus lawn. Televisions weren't allowed so students listened to their Sony Walkman swapping cassette recordings of live concerts. Tucker introduced several bands to his friends."He loved classic rock and he was and still is a big fan of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead," said Sterne, who saw a Dead show with Tucker at RFK Stadium in 1986.Sometimes the clique got slices at Aquidneck Pizza and played arcade games in town, hung out in history instructor William Schenck's office, and smoked pot and Marlborough Red cigarettes on a porch in the main building's common room that faced the ocean, according to multiple sources. When the school administrators banned smoking indoors the following year so they congregated behind the dumpster behind the dining hall. Vodka (often the brand Popov) mixed with Kool-Aid was the drink of choice and students stockpiled bottles under their beds.Tucker was an enthusiastic drinker, half a dozen classmates recall. In his book, "The Long Slide," Tucker credits Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for enticing him to try drugs in 10th grade, The experience gave him "double vision and a headache." By the time he got to college, Tucker writes, "I switched to beer."By the late 1990s Tucker stopped smoking. He eventually cut alcohol too in 2002 after drinking so much while covering George W. Bush in New Hampshire during the 2000 primary that he accidentally got on the wrong plane, according to a friend.Most of Tucker's fellow students remember him best as a skilled speaker."He was always eager to take the less palatable side of the argument and argue that side," said Mahlon Stewart, who attended prep school and college with Tucker and is now a geriatric specialist at Columbia University. "Back then it was comedic. I thought it was an act.""His confidence was just amazing. He could just put out some positions and be willing to argue anything no matter how outlandish," Keller Kimbrough, a former classmate who's now a professor at the University of Colorado. "We were talking about politics and religion one time Tucker pulled this card out of his wallet and said, 'Well actually I'm an ordained minister, I'm an authority on the subject.' This was a stunt. He could literally play the religion card." "When he got the job at Fox I just thought 'Wow that's perfect for him, that's exactly what he can do.'"Their dorm room discourses were never serious. Tucker would pick a side in a debate between whether the color red or blue were better, and the crowd would erupt whenever he made a good point, friends said.  "Even at age 15 he was verbally dexterous and a great debater," Ian Toll said. "His conservative politics was fully formed even back then. He believed in strong defense and minimal government."His teachers saw a pupil who was primed for law school."Language and speaking came naturally to him. He took pleasure in it," said Rusty Rushton, Tucker's former English teacher. Tucker's politics, though, "seemed fluid to me," Rushton said. "I don't think of him as a deeply ensconced ideologue."He ditched soccer after sophomore year to act in a school theater production of Ayn Rand's courtroom thriller "Night of January 16th" (Julie Bowen starred as the prosecuting attorney. Tucker played a juror). But Tucker found his voice in competitive debate when he eventually joined the school's debate club. The team traveled to other private school campuses to compete against schools like Andover, Exeter, and Roxbury Latin in tournaments."He won some debate and basically did a victory lap afterward and got in the face of all the faculty there," one alum from a rival school who debated against Tucker said. "After defeating the student team, he started challenging the faculty, and said, 'Do any of you want to take me on? Are any of you capable of debating me?'"SusieIn the fall of Tucker's sophomore year, a new headmaster arrived at St. George's, Rev. George Andrews II. Andrews' daughter, Susie – who Tucker would eventually marry – was in Tucker's class. According to school tradition, a rotating group of underclassmen was charged with serving their classmates dinner and, one night in late September, Tucker and Susie had the shift at the same time. "They were sitting at a table at the far end of Queen Hall just leaning in, talking to each other," Sterne recalled. "You could see the sparks flying, which was cool."Susie floated between the school's friend groups easily. When she was seen mingling with Tucker, some questioned what she saw in him."People were saying, 'Come on Susie, why are you dating Tucker?' He's such a loser slacker and she was so sweet," Traister said. The pair started dating at the age of 15 and quickly became inseparable. Tucker gained notoriety on campus for repeatedly sneaking into Susie's room on the second floor of Memorial Schoolhouse, the school's stately administrative office that housed the headmaster's quarters. He had less time for his dumpster buddies now that the couple hung out on the campus lawn, attended chapel and an interdenominational campus ministry organization called FOCUS. His senior yearbook included a photo of Tucker squinting in concern to a classmate, with the caption "What do you mean you told Susie?While Susie was universally liked within the St. George's community, her father was polarizing.Andrews led the school during a turbulent period – it was later revealed – when its choirmaster Franklin Coleman was accused of abusing or having inappropriate conduct with at least 10 male students, according to an independent investigation by the law firm Foley Hoag in 2016. (Two attorneys representing several victims said 40 alumni contacted them with credible accounts of molestation and rape accusations at the hands of St. George's employees between 1974 and 2004 after a 2015 school-issued report detailed 26 accounts of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. (Coleman was never criminally charged and he has not responded to Insider's attempts to reach him.) Over his eight-year tenure as school music director, from 1980 to 1988, Coleman invited groups of boys to his apartment for private parties. Sometimes he shared alcohol and pot with some of them, gave them back and neck rubs, showed pornographic videos, traveled with them on choral trips and stayed in their hotel rooms, and appeared nude around some of them, the report found. Several of Tucker's classmates and former faculty said they had no reason to believe he would have been aware of the accusations. "There were rumors circulating wildly that Coleman was bad news. The idea was he would cultivate relationships with young men," Ian Toll, a St. George's alum, said. "Anyone who was there at that time would have likely been aware of those rumors."Andrews told Foley Hoag investigators he was not aware of any complaints about Coleman until May 1988 (by then, Tucker had finished his freshman year in college) when school psychiatrist Peter Kosseff wrote a report detailing a firsthand account of misconduct. But Andrews acknowledged to investigators the school could have been aware of "prior questionable conduct" before then, the report said. Andrews fired Coleman in May 1988 after the school confronted Coleman with allegations of misconduct and he did not deny them. According to the investigation, Andrews told students Coleman resigned due to "emotional stress" and that he had the "highest regard and respect for him." On the advice of a school attorney, Andrews did not report the music teacher to child protective services. He also knew that his faculty dean wrote Coleman a letter of recommendation for a job at another school, according to investigators. Andrews left the school a few weeks after Coleman departed. By September 1989, he was named headmaster at St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida which he led for 18 years. (Andrews declined to speak about Tucker or his tenure at either school.) St. George's, meanwhile, reached an undisclosed settlement with up to 30 abuse survivors in 2016. Coleman found work as a choir director at Tampa Preparatory School in Tampa Bay, Florida before he retired in 2008. Tucker Carlson attended St. George’s School, a boarding school starting at age 14.Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesTrinity In the fall of 1987, Tucker enrolled at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where Rev. Andrews had also attended.Nearly two-thirds of Trinity's student body back then originated from private schools and many came from wealthy backgrounds. Tuition in 1987 cost $11,700 plus an additional $3,720 for room and board—around $27,839 in today's dollars."When the Gulf War broke out" in 1990, one Trinity alum who knew Tucker recalled, "there was a big plywood sign in front of the student center that read, 'Blood for Oil,' and someone else threw a bucket of paint on it."The posh campus was situated in the middle of Hartford, Connecticut, the state's capital and one of its poorest cities. Discussions about race and inequality were sometimes at the forefront of campus politics, but many students avoided engaging in them entirely."There were issues about whether black students should only date other black students, that kind of thing," said Kathleen Werthman, a classmate of Tucker's who now works at a Florida nonprofit for people with disabilities. "My sophomore year, for new students, they had a speaker talking about racism, and one of the students said, 'I never met a black student, how are you supposed to talk to them?' And the idea that only white people can be racist was challenged too."Susie was at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. His brother remained in Rhode Island and other prep school friends had fanned out across the East Coast. Tucker moved into a four-bedroom dormitory overlooking the main quad. One suitemate, Neil Patel, was an economics major from Massachusetts who played intramural softball. (They would co-found the Daily Caller together two decades years later.) Other roommates played on the varsity soccer team and they formed a tight-knit group."I remember being struck by him. He was the same way he is now," said Rev. Billy Cerveny, a college friend of Tucker's who's now a pastor at Redbird Nashville. "He was a force of nature. He had a sense of presence and gravitas. You might get into an argument with him, but you end up loving the guy."Tucker often went out of his way to amuse his friends. Once during the spring semester, several activists set up a podium and microphone beneath his dorm window to protest the CIA's on-campus recruitment visits. The demonstration was open-mic so Tucker went up to the stage and told the crowd of about 15 people, "I think you're all a bunch of greasy chicken fuckers.""I think people laughed. He did," Cerveny said. "There was always a small collection of people any time there was an issue who tried to stir the pot in that way. Some people were dismissive and other people loved it, thinking 'Oh we're getting a fight here.'"As a sophomore, Tucker and his friends moved into a dingy three-story house on Crescent Street on the edge of the campus. He ditched his tailored jackets, khakis, and bowties for oversized Levi jeans, t-shirts, and untucked oxford shirts. Tucker commandeered a low-ceilinged room above the front porch with so many windows he had to hang up tapestries to keep out the sun. The tiny alcove had barely enough space for an eight-foot futon and several bookshelves Tucker built himself stacked with books he collected. Friends remember Tucker receiving an 8-by-10 manilla envelope that his father sent through the mail once or twice a month containing dozens of articles from newspapers and magazines.One of Tucker's friends, Cerveny, remembered stopping by Richard's home in Washington, D.C. and finding evidence of his hobbies, including the world's second largest collection of walking sticks."His house was filled with rare canes he collected from all over the world," Cerveny said. "The hallways had really amazing rows of canes hung on hooks that were specially made to mount these things on the house. One used to be a functional shotgun, another one was made out of a giraffe. His dad would pull out newspaper clippings of WWII Navy aircraft carriers. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I had never seen anything like that. Who collects canes?"During sophomore year, Tucker's friends decided to rush Delta Phi, a well-to-do fraternity also known as St. Elmo's. The Greek scene had a large presence on campus — about 20 percent of men joined them even though Trinity was a liberal arts school — and St. Elmo's had a reputation as freewheeling scamps. Once a year, a St. Elmo's brother would ride his motorcycle naked through the campus cafeteria. (Faculty voted in 1992 to abolish Greek life saying they were sexist and racist, and school administrators instead forced fraternities to become co-ed.)But Tucker refused to come aboard. Some classmates thought it was because he didn't want to be hazed."Tucker was not a joiner like that," Mahlon Stewart said. "He wouldn't have set himself up for whatever humiliation would have been involved. He would not have put up with that." But Cerveny, who pledged the fraternity, said it was a matter of faith."I remember explicitly him saying 'Look, I want to focus on what my faith is about and I thought this would be a big distraction,'" Cerveny said. "But he was very much in the mix with us. When we moved to a fraternity house [on Broad Street], we asked him to live with us."Tucker occasionally dropped in on his friends' fraternity events and occasionally brought Susie when she visited or Buckley when he drifted into town. Other times they hung out at Baker's Cafe on New Britain Avenue. Mostly Tucker stayed in his room."He was basically a hermit. It wasn't like he was going to a ton of parties" one Trinity St. Elmo's brother said. "He was not a part of the organizational effort of throwing big parties, or encouraging me to join the fraternity." Susie, who didn't drink or smoke, was a moderating influence. "Tucker and Susie had their moral compass pointing north even back then," Sterne said. "Tucker's faith was not something he was focused on in his early years but when he met Susie and he became close to her family, that started to blossom and grow in him. Now it's a huge part of his life."By the time his crew moved to another house on Broad Street, they each acquired vintage motorcycles and tinkered with them in their garage. Tucker owned a 1968 flathead Harley Davidson that barely ran and relied on a red Jeep 4X4 to transport friends around town (the Volkswagen van he had freshman year blew up). He smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes, sipped bourbon, and occasionally brewed beer in the basement, including a batch he named "Coal Porter," according to GQ.When he wasn't reading outside of his courses or tinkering with his carburetor, Tucker took classes in the humanities and ultimately majored in history. Tucker dabbled in other fields including Russian history, Jewish history, Women's Studies, and Religious Studies, sitting in the back of lecture halls with his friends. Ron Kiener, who taught an introductory level course in Judaism, recalled Tucker performing "poorly" but earning a credit. "He did not get a stellar grade from me," Kiener said. "Based on what he says now he surely didn't get very much out of my courses."But Leslie Desmangles, who led courses in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Myth, Rite, and Sacrament, said Tucker was engaged and likely did just enough to pass his courses even if he wasn't very studious or vocal in class discussions."He was interested in understanding the nature of religious belief and studying different cultures and religions but I'm not sure if he had an interest in diversity," Desmangles said. "He was genuinely interested in ritual since a lot of the Episcopal church is highly ritualistic."Tucker's fascination with religion extended to his extracurricular activities too. He and several friends joined Christian Fellowship, a Bible study group that met weekly and helped the school chaplain lead Sunday services. Some members even volunteered with ConnPIRG, a student advocacy group on hunger and environmental issues, and traveled to Washington D.C. to protest the Gulf War. But Tucker steered clear of campus activism. He spent his free time reading and seeing Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, and Sting perform when they came through Connecticut. Sometimes he skipped school to follow his favorite band, the Grateful Dead, on tour.He took an interest in Central American politics too. At the end of freshman year, Tucker and Patel traveled to Nicaragua. "We did not have a place to stay or any set plans," Tucker told the Trinity Tripod, his college paper, in March 1990. "It was very spontaneous. We are both extremely political and we felt that getting to know the country and some of its citizens would give us a better perspective on the situation." In February 1990, Tucker returned with three friends to Managua for 10 days to observe Nicaragua's elections. The National Opposition Union's Violetta Chamoro, which was backed by the U.S. government, defeated the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front Daniel Ortega who had been in power since 1979. A month later Tucker and his classmate Jennifer Barr, who was separately in Nicaragua to observe elections and distribute medical supplies to the Sandinistas, shared their perspectives about their visits to a small crowd at the Faculty Club for the school's Latin America Week. Tucker thought press coverage of the election was too left-leaning and criticized the media for skewing a conservative victory, according to Barr."I don't think it was necessarily true," Barr said. "He was dismissive [about my views]. I did get a sense that he believed in what he was saying, and it was very different from my experience and my understanding of the race."Tucker's stance on U.S. politics at the time was less didactic. As the 1992 presidential election loomed his senior year, Tucker touted the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, a Texas business magnate, to his friends although it did not appear that Tucker was an ardent supporter."Tucker would go on and on about how Ross Perot was the answer to this or that, as a joke, and every one would participate" one St. Elmo's brother said. "He liked the way Ross Perot was basically throwing a wrench into the system. He wasn't a serious Ross Perot proponent. He was cheering on somebody who was screwing up the system."In Tucker's college yearbook, below his tousle-haired, bowtie wearing thumbnail photo, was a list of his extra-curricular activities: "History; Christian Fellowship 1 2 3 4, Jesse Helms Foundation, Dan White Society." Neither of the latter two – named, respectively, after the ultra-conservative North Carolina Senator, and a San Francisco supervisor who assassinated Harvey Milk in 1978 – ever existed. Tucker admired Helms for being a "bull in the china shop" of Congress, one classmate said. Some friends believed Tucker slipped in the off-color references as a lark."It's like a joke you and a friend would put in a series of anagrams that only you and two friends would remember and no one else would," the St. Elmo's friend said. "It's so niche that only someone like Tucker is thinking things like that or would even know the name of the person who killed Harvey Milk. He paid attention to things like that."Others claimed Tucker was the victim of a prank."It would not at all surprise me if one of the other guys in the [fraternity] house filled it in for him, and not just an inside joke, but pegging him with something that he got grief for," another close friend said. Protesters rally against Fox News outside the Fox News headquarters at the News Corporation building, March 13, 2019 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesAn outsider among insidersBy the spring of 1991, Tucker's academic performance had caught up with him. He had accumulated a 1.9 grade point average and may have finished with a 2.1 GPA, according to one faculty member who viewed a copy of his transcript. Tucker would eventually graduate from Trinity a year late. Falling behind was not uncommon. About 80 percent of Trinity students completed their degrees in four years, according to Trinity College records. (A Trinity spokeswoman would not comment on Tucker's transcript due to FERPA laws, which protect student privacy.Tucker's post-collegiate plans fell through too. Tucker applied to the CIA that spring. The spy agency passed."He mentioned that he had applied and they rejected him because of his drug use," another college friend said, while declining to be named. "He was too honest on his application. I also probably should say I don't know whether he was telling the truth or not." Once the school year was over, Tucker and Neil Patel hit the road on a cross-country motorcycle ride. After that: Washington DC.  Tucker's family left Southern California for Georgetown after President Reagan named his father head of Voice of America. In June 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Richard ambassador to the Seychelles and the Carlson family upgraded to a nicer house in Georgetown with a pool in the basement. That summer, with Tucker's father and stepmother often out of town, the Carlson household was the center of Tucker's social lives, the place they retired to after a night drinking at Georgetown college dive bars like Charing Cross and Third Edition, and pubs like Martin's Tavern and The Tombs, immortalized in St. Elmo's Fire. In August, Tucker and Susie got married in St. George's chapel and held a reception at the Clambake Club of Newport, overlooking the Narragansett Bay. Back in Washington, Tucker's prep school, college, and his father's Washington-based networks began to mesh. Tucker took a $14,000-a-year job as an assistant editor and fact checker of Policy Review, a quarterly journal published at the time by the Heritage Foundation, the nation's leading conservative think tank. For the next three decades, Tucker thrived in the Beltway: He joined The Weekly Standard and wrote for several magazines before appearing on cable news networks as a right-of-center analyst and host at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. His father embarked on a third career as a television executive where he ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and his brother became a political operative and a pollster. By the time Tucker reached the core of the conservative media sphere, a slot on Fox News's primetime opinion lineup, he shed friends from his youth who couldn't grapple with the hard-right turn he veered once he became the face of the network.One friend was not surprised with Tucker's act. In the spring of 2016, during the heat of Donald Trump's presidential campaign against Hilary Clinton and a few months before "Tucker Carlson Tonight" premiered on Fox, Tucker had lunch with his old prep school classmate Richard Wayner who made the speech about Eleanor Bumpurs all those years ago. Wayner believed Tucker's gesture from his pew was never serious. "As a 9th or 10th grader in a chapel full of people in a conversation, he was trying to get attention," Wayner said.The two stayed in touch over the years and Tucker at one point suggested he write a handful of pieces for the Daily Caller, the conservative news and opinion site that Tucker co-founded and ran in the 2010s. As they settled into their table at a Midtown Manhattan steakhouse, the two chatted about Wayner's experience on the board of St. George's (which Susie was about to join) and their respective careers. Tucker was floating around at Fox, and Wayner, now an investor and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, said the conversation drifted toward salaries."He was asking, 'How much do you make on Wall Street' and was like, 'Wow, Wall Street guys make a lot.'" Wayner said. When they left the restaurant and headed back toward the Fox News headquarters, several people recognized Tucker on the street even though he had jettisoned his trademark bowtie years ago. Wayner saw Tucker making the pragmatic decision to follow a business model that has made his conservative media counterparts a lot of money."I don't think he has a mission. I don't think he has a plan," Wayner said. "Where he is right now is about as great as whatever he thought he could be.""Tucker knows better. He does. He can get some attention, money, or both." he added. "To me, that's a shame. Because he knows better." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

China Bets The House On New Houses

China Bets The House On New Houses Submitted by Benn Steil and Benjamin Della Rocca Last September, after China’s second-largest property developer, Evergrande Group, missed $131 million in interest payments, Beijing promised to rein in risky real-estate speculation. We didn’t buy it. As we wrote in November, Chinese leaders rely on frothy housing markets and lending growth to meet their politically determined annual GDP growth targets. Serious housing reform was not in the cards. Sure enough, Beijing soon revealed that the promise was a head-fake. In January, the government moved to make it easier for developers to pay creditors using pre-construction homebuyer funds held in escrow. In March, the National People’s Congress killed plans to introduce a national property tax and other structural reforms to reduce property speculation. Municipal authorities have subsidized young buyers’ home purchases, directed state-owned banks to slash mortgage rates, and eased home down-payment requirements. The state-controlled press says it is all working perfectly—speculation is being stamped out, and the housing market is “stable.” Yet home sales are plunging. So how does the government square this circle? It points to data showing steady prices for new homes. Our left-hand graphic above confirms this fact. But it also shows a steep decline—the steepest on record—in prices for existing homes. What is happening? The government cares less about prices of existing homes than new-home prices, since over-leveraged developers make their money selling new units. So, not surprisingly, it is betting the house on keeping new homes popular and profitable. Chinese cities have been imposing price floors and prohibiting “malicious price cuts” on new construction. They have been offering generous consumer-goods vouchers and tax cuts to buyers of new properties. All of this costly window-dressing is keeping new-home prices up and overleveraged developers afloat, even as the market for existing homes tanks. Still, real-estate analysts and Chinese developers alike widely expect new-home prices to head south soon enough. Falling house prices affect GDP through the so-called wealth effect—that is, consumers’ tendency to cut spending when their assets fall in value. A $100 decline in housing-market net worth, according to one U.S.-based study, lowers consumption by $2.50-5.00. In China, the housing wealth effect is likely at least this large. As the right-hand chart above shows, homes represent roughly 45 percent of Chinese household net worth. (In some cities, it is more like 70 percent.) That compares with just 27 percent in the United States. What does all this mean for China’s economy? If existing-home price declines bring a wealth effect at the upper end of the range above, then we would expect recent changes alone to shave roughly half a percent off China’s 2022 GDP growth. Last month, owing to omicron’s spread, the IMF revised China’s 2022 growth forecast down to 4.4 percent, 1.1 percentage points below the government’s target, although home-price effects do not seem to be part of their equation. All else equal, something below 4 percent is more likely. Of course, President Xi may be unwilling to accept 4 percent growth—in which case we can expect yet further measures to juice borrowing and home prices. Eventually, unsustainable debt becomes—well, unsustainable. At that point, there is a financial crisis or productivity collapse that crushes growth. Defining “eventually,” of course, is the big challenge. Tyler Durden Wed, 05/04/2022 - 22:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 4th, 2022

The "beginning of the end" for Putin began "some time ago," and the Ukraine war "speeds up his demise," top Navalny aide says

"The people in the political and economic elite have seen their lifestyles turned upside down, their fortunes decimated," a top aide to Navalny said. An archery target featuring the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on a tourist attraction at Shevchenkivskyi Hai Park Museum on April 24, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.Leon Neal/Getty Images Putin's unprovoked war in Ukraine "speeds up his demise," according to a top aide to Alexei Navalny. "The people in the political and economic elite have seen their lifestyles turned upside down," Vladimir Ashurkov told Insider. The war has united much of the world against Russia, isolating Moscow politically and economically. Russian President Vladimir Putin has accelerated his own downfall by launching an unprovoked war in Ukraine, according to top aide of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. "The beginning of the end of Putin started some time ago. But I'm confident that this war has made many people in Russia and outside of Russia unhappy with him. The people in the political and economic elite have seen their lifestyles turned upside down, their fortunes decimated," Vladimir Ashurkov, the executive director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, told Insider.Putin's war in Ukraine has led countries across the globe to impose broad, unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia. The conflict has united the West in major ways, and reinvigorated NATO. The international community has also turned against Moscow, with the UN General Assembly voting to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council in early April.Two months after the February 24 invasion, the Russian military has struggled to make any major gains and has turned its attention to the eastern Donbas region after failing to take Kyiv. It's estimated that up to 15,000 Russia troops have been killed in Ukraine so far, with a staggering number of Russian generals among the dead. Average Russians are seeing brands they have become accustomed to like McDonald's and IKEA leave their country because of the war, and inflation is soaring to record levels.  Even with Navalny jailed, the Kremlin critic's organization senses an opportunity and is working to counter Russian propaganda that obscures or denies the brutal realities of the Ukraine war, while continuing to investigate corruption among Putin's inner circle."This makes Putin highly unpopular and it affects everybody. I do believe that this speeds up his demise," Ashurkov said.'It was never really easy for Russian opposition ever'Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia July 20, 2018.Alexei Nikolsky/ReutersBut taking down Putin, who has been in power for roughly two decades, will not happen overnight. The Russian leader has gone to extraordinary lengths to quash opposition and stifle dissent. Navalny, the Kremlin's most prominent critic, is a prime example. The anti-corruption campaigner was poisoned in Siberia with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok in August 2020 and nearly died. Putin has been condemned worldwide over Navalny's poisoning, though he's denied any involvement.After receiving treatment in Germany, Navalny returned to Moscow in early 2021 and was promptly arrested. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violating parole, including during treatment in Germany, from a 2014 embezzlement conviction. His imprisonment led to mass protests in Russia. Last month, Navalny saw nine years added to his sentence by a judge who was personally promoted by Putin to a higher court just days before. Human rights groups have decried the charges against Navalny as politically motivated.Meanwhile, Navalny has continued to criticize Putin from prison and has called on Russians to vehemently oppose the Ukraine war. And though Navalny's political network was banned in Russia last year after being dubbed "extremist," his foundation has not ceased its efforts to expose corruption. Vladimir Ashurkov and Alexei Navalny attend a news conference in Moscow, Russia, in 2014.Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated PressBut with Navalny in prison and a new crackdown on independent media amid the faltering Ukraine war, keeping the Russian opposition movement alive is no easy task. Ashurkov, who lives in exile in London, said it's "not safe for our staff to work in Russia." The foundation relocated staff to Lithuania in 2021, establishing a new office in Vilnius, after the "extremist" designation."The last year and a half have been difficult for us and for the whole democratic movement and independent journalists in Russia. This has been made many times more difficult since the war with the Ukraine started two months ago...It has been quite an ordeal." Ashurkov said. Shortly after launching the war in Ukraine, Putin signed a law that could see people sentenced to up to 15 years for spreading "fake news" about the Russian military. Thousands of anti-war protesters in Russia have been arrested. "Over the last two months, we've seen the last independent media outlets in Russia closed. Many people emigrated. Repression increased. Our good friend and ally Vladimir Kara-Murza has been put in detention for basically a speech that he has given in the US on the war. It is tough, but it was never really easy for Russian opposition ever," Ashurkov said."We continue our work," Ashurkov said. The Anti-Corruption Foundation is primarily focused on three areas at present, he added, including expanding its social media presence — particularly on YouTube — and attempting to break through Putin's propaganda blitz (reaching Russians via virtual private network or VPN connections), anti-corruption investigations, and an increased focus on sanctions. The Anti-Corruption Foundation this week released a list of over 6,o00 people "who are involved to different extent in various aspects of the war in Ukraine and who we believe should be considered for sanctioning," Ashurkov said.—Leonid Volkov (@leonidvolkov) April 26, 2022 "These are the big things we are trying to do in these difficult conditions," he added.Navalny's allies are constantly preparing for "when the situation in Russia changes and a political crisis emerges," Ashurkov said. "And we're confident that this war has actually expedited and brought forward to this stage. We are quite optimistic."'The situation is quite dire for everybody'TOPSHOT - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, his wife Yulia, opposition politician Lyubov Sobol and other demonstrators march in memory of murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov in downtown Moscow on February 29, 2020.KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty ImagesAshurkov said Navalny continues to play a key role in the foundation's work, and he remains in contact with him through the jailed opposition leader's lawyers. "Our team and his family communicate with Alexei through a lawyer that visits him on weekdays for about an hour. And during this time he scribbles his handwritten notes to his family and to us, and he reads whatever materials we sent him. Despite being in prison, he's still very much an integral part of our team," Ashurkov said. But it's not clear how long that line of communication will remain available, particularly given the recent extension of Navalny's sentence. "We don't know whether he will be moved," Ashurkov said. "It's still up in the air."Navalny went on hunger strike in prison last year while demanding proper medical care, and there were grave concerns among his allies that he was on the verge of death. Ashurkov said Navalny's health "seems fine" at the moment, but that doesn't mean he's not still in danger. "Russian security services have shown us that they can do all kinds of bad things in all parts of the world. Navalny has already been poisoned...He remains in Russian prison — not a particularly safe place. So we are concerned, but for now he feels OK," Ashurkov said, adding, "Navalny's story is one filled with miracles. A miraculous recuperation after a murder attempt, an epic call to one of his assassins, a return to Russia despite all the threats. He will defy whatever threats come his way in the future as well."But Ashurkov also underscored that the danger posed by Putin extends well beyond Navalny, Russia, and Ukraine. "I don't think anybody on planet Earth has a secure future when there is a maniac with a nuclear bomb banging it around. The situation is quite dire for everybody," he warned. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 27th, 2022

Dark Forces, Plain Speak, Brighter Gold, & The Fed"s Sick End-Game

Dark Forces, Plain Speak, Brighter Gold, & The Fed's Sick End-Game Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com, Below, we look at debt forces alongside supply and demand forces to help investors see (and prepare for) the darker forces within an entirely rigged end game and shifting financial backdrop. As usual, the end game will boil down to yield curve controls and more money printing, which means more currency debasement and a central bank system that secretly (and historically) favors inflation over truth and markets over Main Street. 2018: A Template for 2023 Throughout the entire year 2018, as the Fed forward-guided rate hikes at 25 bps a pop, I warned investors of a massive year-end correction and to prepare their portfolios accordingly. This required no tarot cards or market-timing hype. So, how did I know? Easy: The Fed told me so in October of 2017. That’s when they publicly announced a tapering of Treasury purchases and progressive rate hikes for 2018. In short: They were putting a match to a can of gasoline. Given that liquidity and low rates were the sole winds beneath the debt-driven market bubble which began under Bernanke following the 2008 crisis, it didn’t require exceptional genius in 2017 to see that reduced liquidity and rising rates in 2018 would immediately have the opposite effect—namely, send bloated markets tanking. By Christmas of 2018, markets were gyrating at 10% swings per day, and by New Year’s Eve, panic was everywhere as I watched the fireworks from Cannes with that annoying “I told you so” expression. Rolling into 2019, the Fed then did precisely what any addict would do. When markets tanked, the Fed stopped the rate hikes and re-ignited more addictive money printing liquidity—literally unlimited QE. My book, Rigged to Fail, came out that same year; the timing as well as title was spot on. The Fed’s mandate was the market, not the economy. Debt, and the future be damned—just prop risk assets and let the next generation swallow the bill. Today, we see a similar “2018 move” from hyper-liquidity to drying-liquidity by a desperate Fed tapering UST purchases into a market bubble and seeking to raise rates despite a debt bubble. Why are they repeating this insanity yet again? Simple: They see a market implosion ahead and need rates to go up now so that they will have something to cut when the next recession and market slide–which they alone created  rears its head yet again. Get Ready for Convulsions in 2023 So let me be perfectly clear again: When the current QT liquidity spigot starts to dry up during a “taper,” the liquidity-addicted markets will go into withdrawal convulsions. In other words, expect some serious volatility in 2023. To grasp this, it is essential to recognize the illusion of Fed power in general and to embrace the tragic fragility in what was otherwise the most liquid (i.e., doped and artificial) market in the world. And if you want to see what fragility looks like, keep reading… Boring Stuff Like Treasury Volumes For the last two decades, outstanding Treasuries (i.e., Uncle Sam’s IOUs) have risen by 7-fold while cash volumes for the same period rose by less than 2-fold from $370B to $620B. In short, liquidity is steadily drying up, and every market crisis is at root a liquidity crisis. The above imbalance is a ticking Treasury timebomb. Looking ahead, this means that just about any trigger can move liquidity-addicted markets from a tremor to a full-on earthquake. When today’s “forward-guided” tapering (i.e., QT) shocks an even more bloated 2023 market in the same way that QT shocked an already-bloated 2018 market, the aftershocks tomorrow will be brutal, so hold on tight and get your portfolios prepared before rather than after the quake. Treasuries, the USD and Gold As for Uncle Sam’s embarrassingly unpopular (i.e., distrusted, discredited and un-wanted) IOUs, the ramifications of this debt addiction are severe and far ranging, especially for the global reserve currency. We’ve been writing extensively of the USD and its slow de-anchoring and decline in prominence, a long-overdue slide only accelerated by the disastrous ripple effect of the myopic sanctions aimed at Putin (but which shot the West’s foot). As the chart below shows, the percentage of US Dollars in global FX reserves has fallen in the last 20 years from 73% to 58%, which reveals the consistent decline in foreign demand for US Treasuries. Of course, when demand falls, so does price, and when demand (and prices) for US sovereign bonds fall, their yields go up. And when yields go up, so too do interest rates and the cost of US debt, which scares debt-soaked markets like the DOW, NASDAQ and S&P almost as much as it scares debt-soaked countries like the US. Why a Strong USD When Demand for USTs is Tanking? Many of you, however, may be scratching your heads and wondering why or how the USD has remained elevated in its international trade value despite clear declines in the USD’s share of global FX reserves? A true paradox to be sure, no? We think this can be explained by the fact that as the number of USDs in FX reserves declines (i.e., as foreign purchasing of UST’s declines), this forces Uncle Sam to increase his borrowing at far greater levels than the global markets. This dynamic pushes up the price of the USD. In short, Uncle Sam is borrowing so much that he’s actually a market-maker creating his own demand for his own dollar. But here’s the rub—and it’s a doozy. That same USD can tank if Uncle Sam issues so (too) many IOU’s that the supply of USTs gets so (too) massive that bonds tank in price and yields spike. This inevitable dynamic (too many IOU’s and too little global demand for the same) will force the Fed to impose open Yield Curve Controls (or “YCC”—which just means more money printing to buy bonds), an end game I’ve been predicting as inevitable for over a year now. The End Game: YCC Just Means a Weaker USD Over-supply of UST’s will push bond prices down and bond yields up. Rising yields will then force the Fed into official YCC, which, to repeat, simply means more printed/debased dollars that will send the USD falling to levels commensurate with the graph above. This potential trend toward a falling USD, by the way, is just one more reason to favor gold in particular and commodities, industrial equities and real estate (agricultural/luxury) in general as everything broken gets even more broke in the coming months. Bankers to the Rescue? Think Again Many, however, will argue that the big US banks (you know, those TBTF juggernauts of sound management you bailed out in 2008) will help Uncle Sam by purchasing his otherwise unwanted IOUs and thus create more rather than less demand for USTs—thereby “saving” the Dollar too. After all, the big banks helped Uncle Sam in the aforementioned disaster of 2018, so why can’t they do it again in the pending disaster circa 2023 and buy more US IOUs? The answer boils down to this: Those big banks have already purchased/consumed so many UST’s that they are risking indigestion. Today, US commercial banks are already sitting upon the highest percentage of USTs on their balance sheets in history. So, folks, if:   1) foreigners don’t want Uncle Sam’s debt (weaponized FX reserves post-Ukraine hardly made the US or its bonds popular) … …and 2) if even JP Morgan and other banks don’t want it, this just means… 3) USTs will keep tanking, and… 4) yields will keep rising like shark fins and… 5) more centralized control from DC in the form of YCC (i.e., gobs more money printing) is now as inevitable as the setting sun falling on the once-revered US financial system. Of course, more money creation just means more inflation as measured (i.e., defined by) silly things like the money supply, which in turn just means more debased dollars ahead and thus more reasons to love assets which central banks can’t print or create with a mouse-click, namely: GOLD. More Debt, Less Buyers = Uh Oh Ahead To add even more comedy to the tragi-comedy of the cornered Fed and bankrupt US, the folks at the US Treasury are about to issue even more un-loved IOUs at precisely the same time in which the demand for them is shrinking at a record and global pace. US deficits as a percentage of GDP are rising like a cancer amidst to the entire world as Uncle Sam’s bar tab bloats beyond anything his equally comical “Office of Management of the Budget” (“OMB”) predicted in the last six years. No shocker there. The list of failed projections coming out of the OMB (not to mention the BLS) would take too many paragraphs to fully describe. For now, it’s worth a reminder that in 2016, that same OMB forecasted that US deficits as a percentage of GDP would remain flat at around 2.75%. By the end of that same year, however, the deficit percentage shot up to 3.75% (following a rate hike, btw…). In 2017, that percentage then rose to 4%; in 2018, deficit levels climbed to 5% of GDP and by 2019, the percentage was 2X higher than what the same OMB had “forecasted” in 2016. Again: So much for trusting the experts… How Nations Die Given that debt is rising faster than income or tax receipts in the US, do we really think Uncle Sam and Uncle Fed will allow the cost of that debt (i.e., interest rates) to rise even more? Given blunt math rather than fancy words or political posturing, the Fed will need to keep yields controlled and hence interest rates repressed. And the only way to do this is to keep bond prices up and yields down. And the only way to keep bond prices up is if there are buyers. And if since are no buyers (foreigners or banks, see above), then the buyer of last resort will be the Fed. And the only dollars the Fed has are the kind that are created out of thin air. And that, folks, is how nations die from within and currencies rot from the top down. As I see it, more liquidity injections and hence YCC are ahead, and will come into play the moment the stock markets start to gyrate and die like a fish on the dock. Why Not Let the Market Die? Some, including von Mises (and myself), would have no tears for the death of a bloated, artificial and wealth-disparity-creating, social-unrest-generating and entirely capitalism-destroying market bubble like the current one. After all, the “constructive destruction” of cancerous market bubbles like this one… …is in fact a natural and necessary part of healthy capitalism. This is why some feel the “Fed put” (or airbag) below the current everything bubble will no longer be there to save Mr. Market next time around. A crashing (deflating) market, after all, would help the Fed fight inflation, so perhaps they’ll just step aside and let the S&P tank, right? Hmmm… Not so fast. As I’ve said for years, the Fed’s real mandate is not the USA, its workers or the cost of groceries. Good grief, the Fed isn’t even federal. It’s a private bank created by bankers to prop markets not national interest. DON’T ever forget this—even if your elected officials were lobbied to forget this. Furthermore, if the Fed were to turn its back on more money printing, YCC and/or rate “accommodations” and thus fail to “support” the market once the next implosion comes, then IRAs, pension funds and even wealth managers lose a fortune, which means consumers lose a fortune and stop spending. The US Can’t Afford to Let Markets Die If this next implosion were not bailed out, consumer spending, as well as tax receipts, would tank and the nation (and markets) would sink into a recession that would make the 1930’s seem pleasant. In short, the Fed knows that our stock market (as grotesquely fake, bloated, rigged and rotten as it may be) is nevertheless about the only thing that is “positive” in the US of A. As a result, I feel it’s far more likely that the Fed will momentarily watch markets flip and flop (deflationary, yes), but will then immediately pivot out of QT and jump into QE overdrive, printing trillions more to save Mr. Market in the form of YCC and runaway inflation. Such measures, of course, will crush Main Street yet, once again, bail out Wall Street, which is the Fed’s true love and mistress—i.e., its real mandate. As I’ve also warned, the Fed pretends to combat inflation, but in truth, wants inflation to inflate away its debt. In short, the next QT-to-market implosion-to-market-bail-out will resemble the 2018-2019 pivot (discussed above) all over again, but at a far greater level of insanity—i.e., level of “emergency” money printing. This insanity, of course, “saves” artificial markets but kills the inherent purchasing power of those fiat currencies mouse-clicked at the Eccles Building and now sitting (dying) in your checking account. Again, this all points back to gold as currency insurance in a world where currencies are already burning to the ground—and will burn even faster when YCC becomes the new MO of the FED. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/23/2022 - 10:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 23rd, 2022

How China"s tech giants, from TikTok to Tencent, are reacting to Russia"s invasion of Ukraine

In reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, TikTok banned Russia-linked news accounts in the EU. DiDi said it won't leave Russia. TikTok (rightmost icon in the second row) has said that it would ban Russia-backed news outlets such as RT (icon in the first row, second from left) from its platform in the EU. In this picture, the screen of a smartphone shows the logos of the apps VKontakte, Twitter, RT News, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and TikTokFernando Gutierrez-Juarez/picture alliance via Getty Images When it comes to the war in Ukraine, China is taking a different stance from the West. TikTok, owned by Beijing's ByteDance, has blocked Russian state-backed media accounts in the EU. In contrast, ride-hailing app DiDi reportedly reversed a decision to pull out of Russia. Chinese tech giants are diverging in their responses to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February on Thursday, the US, Canada, Europe, and the UK have imposed sanctions on Russian elites and entities. In contrast, China has avoided outwardly condemning Russia's actions and instead, criticized western countries for fuelling the conflict and condemned the sanctions.That's put Chinese tech companies in a bind. Unlike their Silicon Valley counterparts — many of whom don't rely as heavily on Chinese consumers — Chinese tech giants find considerable support for their products and services both within China and elsewhere.Keep reading for a look at how Chinese tech giants and their platforms are responding to the conflict in Ukraine.TikTok (ByteDance's video-sharing platform)TikTok — which is owned by ByteDance in Beijing — said on Tuesday that it removed 41,191 videos related to the Ukraine war that went against its content guidelines. The review took place from February 24 to March 31, the company said.On March 6, TikTok said its users in Russia will no longer be able to watch new videos or livestreams. They also will not be able to view videos from outside of Russia, the Associated Press reported. This was in response to the fake news law that was recently introduced in Russia, TikTok said. Under the law, anyone who shares information about the Ukraine conflict that authorities deem to be false faces possible jail time, The Wall Street Journal reported.Outside of Russia, TikTok has blocked the accounts of RT, a Russian state-run TV network, and Sputnik, a Moscow-headquartered news agency, on its platform in the EU, a TikTok spokesperson told Insider.The move is in line with the EU's ban on Kremlin-backed media, which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on February 27.WeChat and WeixinWeChat and Weixin are Tencent's messaging apps. They are used by more than 1.26 billion users globally each month, Tencent's earnings report as of December shows.A Tencent spokesperson referred Insider to a message the company shared on February 25 on Weixin, the Chinese-language version of WeChat. In the post, Tencent avoided taking sides in the conflict but appealed to users to be objective when discussing international hot topics. "It's not easy to maintain peace," the post reads. "We need to respect and cherish life."WeiboWeibo is Sina's Twitter-like service. As of December, 573 million users use it each month, numbers released by Weibo show.The platform will automatically add geolocation to posts about the Russia-Ukraine war, Weibo said in a Friday post. The move comes as Weibo says users have made inappropriate remarks while pretending to be in Ukraine. The function will be controlled by the platform, and users will not be able to activate or deactivate it, said Weibo.On February 27, Weibo said it had banned 10,000 accounts and removed more than 4,000 posts that "ridiculed war" and mocked the situation in Ukraine. Offending posts also included "vulgar" ones that denigrated Ukrainian women. Weibo did not respond to Insider's request for comment for this story.DiDiRide-hailing app DiDi appears to have reversed an earlier decision to pull out of Russia.In a report from Russian state news agency Tass, published days before Russia invaded Ukraine, DiDi's Russian PR director Irina Gushchina said the company planned to cease operations in Russia and Kazakhstan starting March 4.But on February 26, DiDi said in a Weibo post that it would continue to support drivers and passengers in Russia. The post drew support from some users, who said it's a company's social responsibility to be aligned with a country's position.No reason was given for DiDi's reversal. DiDi did not respond to Insider's request for comment.HuaweiHuawei builds mobile network infrastructure and manufactures consumer devices such as smartphones, laptops, and fitness trackers. Its corporate website for Russia shows that it has one office in Moscow.  Since the end of March, Huawei has stopped taking on new contracts to supply network equipment to Russian operators, according to local news outlet Izvestia. It's also asked local employees to go on mandatory leave for the month of April, Forbes Russia reported.Huawei declined to comment when approached by Insider.Huawei is already the target of several US sanctions which have cut its access to American technology and components required to make its products. Huawei's global smartphone shipments fell by more than 40% during the year-end holiday season in 2020. LenovoLenovo, one of the world's biggest producers of personal computers, reportedly halted shipments to Russia, per a February 25 tweet from Belarusian independent TV outlet Nexta. Lenovo, which acquired IBM's personal computer business in 2005, has not responded to the news. Lenovo did not respond to Insider's request for comment.XiaomiXiaomi, a manufacturer of mobile phones and consumer electronics, is one of the top smartphone brands in Ukraine. The company had planned for a product launch in Ukraine on February 24 but later cancelled it, according to a South China Morning Post report. Social media posts on Facebook and Weibo referencing the event were deleted, per the SCMP. Xiaomi did not respond to Insider's requests for comment. This is a live list. Insider will update this story as more Chinese tech companies announce their stance on the crisis in Ukraine. Check back for more updates.Have a tip about Chinese or Asian tech companies? Contact the reporter, Weilun Soon, at wsoon@insider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 13th, 2022

Video shows Ukrainian soldier taking apart a Russian drone and discovering its components include a plastic bottle top for a fuel cap

Ukraine's defense ministry posted a video of the solider taking apart a Russian Orlan-10 drone to Twitter on Sunday, along with the poop emoji. A still from an undated video showing a Ukrainian soldier taking apart a Russian Orlan drone.Ukraine Ministry of Defense Ukraine's defense ministry shared a video of a solider taking apart a Russian Orlan-10 drone Sunday. It shows the camera was a regular Canon and the fuel cap was made out of a bottle top. "We even thought of sending this 'cosmic' technology to our Western partners," the soldier said. Ukraine's defense ministry shared a video showing a soldier dismantling a Russian military surveillance drone, highlighting a string of surprisingly unsophisticated features.In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, a soldier can be seen seen taking apart what the ministry said was an Orlan-10 drone that crashed on Ukrainian soil.Insider was unable to independently verify when or where the footage was taken.In the video, the soldier is first seen pointing out that the drone's camera is a generic handheld Canon DSLR that had its main navigation button glued down to make sure it doesn't accidentally switch mode.The soldier then points out that the camera had been secured in place with a strip of adhesive tape.—ArmyInform (@armyinformcomua) April 10, 2022The soldier then points out that the cap of the drone's fuel tank appeared to have been made with the top and lid of a plastic water bottle.The footage also showed evidence that the drone had been covered in duct tape in several places. "This is seriously real. Not fake," the soldier is heard saying, and joking: "We even thought of sending this 'cosmic' technology to our Western partners."A spokesperson for Ukraine's military said in 2017 that the Orlan-10 costs between five and seven million rubles ($87,000 to $120,000) per unit.The Orlan-10 usually carries a thermovision camera, photo camera, video camera, radio transmitter, and a retransmitter, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Security Service said in 2014.Ukraine said it had shot down a number of Russian Orlan-10 drones since Russia's invasion, which began on February 24.On April 8, Ukraine's 24th brigade posted an image of an Orlan drone to Facebook which appeared to also have a part of a water bottle as its primary fuel storage unit. Russia's assault on Ukraine has slowed in recent weeks, with Ukraine warning that Russian forces may be preparing for a new all-out assault on the eastern Donbas region.Speaking to the German newspaper Bild, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the worst was yet to come."It could be a big war in Donbas — like the world has not seen in hundreds of years," he said. "We will go on defending our country until the end."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 11th, 2022

Russians traveling by train faced with posters depicting war in Ukraine to combat Putin"s misinformation

An exhibition at Vilnius station in Lithuania, where Russian trains stop en route to the Kaliningrad enclave, shows the realities of the war in Ukraine. A poster with a picture taken by Ukrainian photographer Maxim Dondyuk of a damaged building, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, is displayed for Russian passengers on their way between Kaliningrad exclave and mainland Russia at Vilnius railway station, Lithuania.REUTERS/Andrius Sytas Russians traveling from the mainland to the enclave of Kaliningrad have to stop in Lithuania.  There, they are greeted by an exhibition showing the realities of the war in Ukraine.  "It's the least that we can do," a spokesperson for Lithuanian Railways said. Russians taking the train from Moscow to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad have to pass through Vilnius station in Lithuania. When their train pauses at the platform, they are greeted with 24 large posters depicting the war in Ukraine. The posters show pictures of corpses, injured civilians, grieving families, destroyed homes and infrastructure, and child refugees. All posters have the same message: "Today, Putin is killing civilians in Ukraine. Do you support this?"A poster with a picture taken by Ukrainian photographer Maxim Dondyuk of a war scene, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, is displayed for Russian passengers on their way between Kaliningrad exclave and mainland Russia at Vilnius railway station, Lithuania March 25, 2022.REUTERS/Andrius SytasA map showing the location of Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave next to Lithuania and PolandGoogle Maps/Insider"As far as we know, Russians are shielded from what is happening in Ukraine."Maybe we can change the minds of a very small number of passengers," Mantas Dubauskas, a spokesperson for the state-owned Lithuanian railways, who have erected the posters, told Reuters."It's the least that we can do," he added.A banner with a photo by Evgeniy Maloletka, a photographer working for Associated Press (AP), is seen next to other photographs of Russia's war in Ukraine at the railway station in Vilnius, Lithuania on March 25, 2022, where transit trains from Moscow to Kaliningrad make a stop over.PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty ImagesWorkers attach a banner with a photo of a pregnant woman being carried on a stretcher after the bombing of a maternity ward in Mariupol during Russia's war in Ukraine that is displayed as part of an exhibition at the railway station in Vilnius, LithuaniaPETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty ImagesThe Russian parliament recently passed a law criminalizing the spread of "fake" news regarding the invasion of Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly stated that the atrocities witnessed in Ukraine, including the Bucha massacre and bombing of a Mariupol hospital, are fake. Insider's Mia Jankowicz reported that Putin's disinformation is so effective, that Ukrainians can't convince their own families in Russia they are under attack.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 10th, 2022

10 Things in Tech: Google hiring shakeup

In today's edition: Google is changing its notoriously long recruitment process, and new drone footage shows how Tesla makes its Model Y SUV. You made it to Friday, readers. Google is updating its notoriously long recruitment process, and new drone footage shows how Tesla makes its Model Y SUV.Let's dive in.If this was forwarded to you, sign up here. Download Insider's app – click here for iOS and here for Android.Google CEO Sundar Pichai.Justin Sullivan via Getty Images1. Leaked documents show Google is radically changing the way it hires. Google has an infamously long and frustrating recruitment process. But new changes could help the company speed up hiring and remain competitive in the battle for talent. Here's what's new:Candidates will be assigned a team within Google much earlier in the interview process, the documents said. Previously, candidates would often not be assigned to a team until most of the interview process was complete.As a result, some applicants will even be allowed to skip some parts of the process.The changes were launched this month, and will be applied globally to tech roles such as software engineers and UX designers, and affect candidates between level three and level seven. Get a closer look at what's changing.In other news:Messari's Mason Nystrom told Insider that moving to a 'crypto city' like Miami could boost your chances of being hired in Web3.Ian Witlen2. Dispatch from Bitcoin 2022: During the conference in Miami, Robinhood announced that eligible customers can now send and receive crypto, and "Shark Tank" investor Kevin O'Leary predicts a flood of investment into crypto once US regulation and policy are set.3. Twitter employees react to Elon Musk's investment and board seat. Responses have been mixed, with some workers frustrated with his new role and quick attempts to influence company decisions, and others just happy Twitter's stock is up. Here's what employees told us as the social media giant prepares to host an AMA session with Musk.4. Former employees at shuttered startup Fast detail chaotic management, overhiring, and spending cash like "drunken sailors." Staffers at the company nabbed $120 million in funding from the likes of Stripe and Index Ventures but unsustainable headcount growth and rudderless management contributed to its swift downfall.5. A former exec claims fintech unicorn Array created a "false illusion" of success. The exec is alleging the company, which sells credit-score and ID-protection products to other fintechs, inflated its revenue and made up fake customers to trick investors. What we know so far.6. Twitter is testing an "unmentioning" feature. Currently limited to some users, the feature would let people remove themselves from conversations and threads they don't want to be a part of. Get the lowdown the "Don't @ me" feature. 7. A grade school teacher doubled their salary by pivoting to tech. After teaching for four years, Gianni LaTange changed careers and became a Zoom developer advocate, getting a total compensation package of $175,000 within two years. They explain how they did it.8. These 25 companies have the highest-paying internships. Most of the companies are in tech and finance, and include firms like Google, PayPal, and American Express — but Roblox takes the lead, offering interns nearly $10,000 per month. See what other firms made the list.Odds and ends:A Model Y SUV exits Tesla's new factory in Germany on March 22.Getty Images Europe9. Drone footage shows how Tesla builds the Model Y SUV at its new factory in Germany. The video, posted to YouTube, shows an army of robots, machines, and human workers assembling the vehicle inside the newly operational Gigafactory Berlin. Watch the video here.10. Meanwhile, in Texas: Tesla kicked off production at its new Texas factory with an invite-only "Cyber Rodeo" party, which CEO Elon Musk said might be "literally the biggest party on Earth." See photos from the event.The latest people moves in tech:An ex-AWS exec has joined an internal Amazon project to take on Shopify.WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar is departing the company ahead of the Discovery merger. Most of his team of direct reports will depart as well.A leading Google Cloud manager has quit to join rival Amazon Web Services.Zillow's chief marketing officer is leaving the embattled company after three years.Keep updated with the latest tech news throughout your day by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio news brief from the Insider newsroom. Listen here.Curated by Jordan Parker Erb in New York. (Feedback or tips? Email jerb@insider.com or tweet @jordanparkererb.) Edited by Michael Cogley in London.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 8th, 2022

Humilitainment: How To Control The Citizenry Through Reality TV Distractions

Humilitainment: How To Control The Citizenry Through Reality TV Distractions Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours…. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.” - Professor Neil Postman Once again, the programming has changed. Like clockwork, the wall-to-wall news coverage of the latest crisis has shifted gears. We have gone from COVID-19 lockdowns to Trump-Biden election drama to the Russia-Ukraine crisis to the Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings to Will Smith’s on-camera assault of comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards Ceremony. The distractions, distortions, and political theater just keep coming. The ongoing reality show that is life in the American police state feeds the citizenry’s voracious appetite for titillating, soap opera drama. Much like the fabricated universe in Peter Weir’s 1998 film The Truman Show, in which a man’s life is the basis for an elaborately staged television show aimed at selling products and procuring ratings, the political scene in the United States has devolved over the years into a carefully calibrated exercise in how to manipulate, polarize, propagandize and control a population. This is the magic of the reality TV programming that passes for politics today: as long as we are distracted, entertained, occasionally outraged, always polarized but largely uninvolved and content to remain in the viewer’s seat, we’ll never manage to present a unified front against tyranny (or government corruption and ineptitude) in any form. The more that is beamed at us, the more inclined we are to settle back in our comfy recliners and become passive viewers rather than active participants as unsettling, frightening events unfold. We don’t even have to change the channel when the subject matter becomes too monotonous. That’s taken care of for us by the programmers (the corporate media). “Living is easy with eyes closed,” observed John Lennon, and that’s exactly what reality TV that masquerades as American politics programs the citizenry to do: navigate the world with their eyes shut. As long as we’re viewers, we’ll never be doers. Studies suggest that the more reality TV people watch—and I would posit that it’s all reality TV, entertainment news included—the more difficult it becomes to distinguish between what is real and what is carefully crafted farce. “We the people” are watching a lot of TV. On average, Americans spend five hours a day watching television. By the time we reach age 65, we’re watching more than 50 hours of television a week, and that number increases as we get older. And reality TV programming consistently captures the largest percentage of TV watchers every season by an almost 2-1 ratio. This doesn’t bode well for a citizenry able to sift through masterfully-produced propaganda in order to think critically about the issues of the day, whether it’s fake news peddled by government agencies or foreign entities. Those who watch reality shows tend to view what they see as the “norm.” Thus, those who watch shows characterized by lying, aggression and meanness not only come to see such behavior as acceptable and entertaining but also mimic the medium. This holds true whether the reality programming is about the antics of celebrities in the White House, in the board room, or in the bedroom. It’s a phenomenon called “humilitainment.” A term coined by media scholars Brad Waite and Sara Booker, “humilitainment” refers to the tendency for viewers to take pleasure in someone else’s humiliation, suffering and pain. “Humilitainment” largely explains not only why American TV watchers are so fixated on reality TV programming but how American citizens, largely insulated from what is really happening in the world around them by layers of technology, entertainment, and other distractions, are being programmed to accept the government’s brutality, surveillance and dehumanizing treatment as things happening to other people. The ramifications for the future of civic engagement, political discourse and self-government are incredibly depressing and demoralizing. This explains how we keep getting saddled with leaders in government who are clueless about the Constitution and out-of-touch with the needs of the people they were appointed to represent. This is also what happens when an entire nation—bombarded by reality TV programming, government propaganda and entertainment news—becomes systematically desensitized and acclimated to the trappings of a government that operates by fiat and speaks in a language of force. Ultimately, the reality shows, the entertainment news, the surveillance society, the militarized police, and the political spectacles have one common objective: to keep us divided, distracted, imprisoned, and incapable of taking an active role in the business of self-government. Look behind the political spectacles, the reality TV theatrics, the sleight-of-hand distractions and diversions, and the stomach-churning, nail-biting drama, and you will find there is a method to the madness. We have become guinea pigs in a ruthlessly calculated, carefully orchestrated, chillingly cold-blooded experiment in how to control a population and advance a political agenda without much opposition from the citizenry. This is mind-control in its most sinister form. How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use. In totalitarian regimes where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where tyranny hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind. Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned—discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred—inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination, infantilism, the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite. As George Orwell recognized, “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Orwell understood only too well the power of language to manipulate the masses. In Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.” In this dystopian vision of the future, the Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing), and the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The mottos of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. Orwell’s Big Brother relied on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary. Where we stand now is at the juncture of Oldspeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). Truth is often lost when we fail to distinguish between opinion and fact, and that is the danger we now face as a society. Anyone who relies exclusively on television/cable news hosts and political commentators for actual knowledge of the world is making a serious mistake. Unfortunately, since Americans have by and large become non-readers, television has become their prime source of so-called “news.” This reliance on TV news has given rise to such popular news personalities who draw in vast audiences that virtually hang on their every word. In our media age, these are the new powers-that-be. Yet while these personalities often dispense the news like preachers used to dispense religion, with power and certainty, they are little more than conduits for propaganda and advertisements delivered in the guise of entertainment and news. Given the preponderance of news-as-entertainment programming, it’s no wonder that viewers have largely lost the ability to think critically and analytically and differentiate between truth and propaganda, especially when delivered by way of fake news criers and politicians. While television news cannot—and should not—be completely avoided, the following suggestions will help you better understand the nature of TV news. 1. TV news is not what happened. Rather, it is what someone thinks is worth reporting. Although there are still some good TV journalists, the old art of investigative reporting has largely been lost. While viewers are often inclined to take what is reported by television “news” hosts at face value, it is your responsibility to judge and analyze what is reported. 2. TV news is entertainment. There is a reason why the programs you watch are called news “shows.” It’s a signal that the so-called news is being delivered as a form of entertainment. “In the case of most news shows,” write Neil Postman and Steve Powers in their insightful book, How to Watch TV News (1992), “the package includes attractive anchors, an exciting musical theme, comic relief, stories placed to hold the audience, the creation of the illusion of intimacy, and so on.” Of course, the point of all this glitz and glamour is to keep you glued to the set so that a product can be sold to you. (Even the TV news hosts get in on the action by peddling their own products, everything from their latest books to mugs and bathrobes.) Although the news items spoon-fed to you may have some value, they are primarily a commodity to gather an audience, which will in turn be sold to advertisers. 3. Never underestimate the power of commercials, especially to news audiences. In an average household, the television set is on over seven hours a day. Most people, believing themselves to be in control of their media consumption, are not really bothered by this. But TV is a two-way attack: it not only delivers programming to your home, it also delivers you (the consumer) to a sponsor. People who watch the news tend to be more attentive, educated and have more money to spend. They are, thus, a prime market for advertisers. And sponsors spend millions on well-produced commercials. Such commercials are often longer in length than most news stories and cost more to produce than the news stories themselves. Moreover, the content of many commercials, which often contradicts the messages of the news stories, cannot be ignored. Most commercials are aimed at prurient interests in advocating sex, overindulgence, drugs, etc., which has a demoralizing effect on viewers, especially children. 4. It is vitally important to learn about the economic and political interests of those who own the “corporate” media. There are few independent news sources anymore. The major news outlets are owned by corporate empires. 5. Pay special attention to the language of newscasts. Because film footage and other visual imagery are so engaging on TV news shows, viewers are apt to allow language—what the reporter is saying about the images—to go unexamined. A TV news host’s language frames the pictures, and, therefore, the meaning we derive from the picture is often determined by the host’s commentary. TV by its very nature manipulates viewers. One must never forget that every television minute has been edited. The viewer does not see the actual event but the edited form of the event. For example, presenting a one- to two-minute segment from a two-hour political speech and having a TV talk show host critique may be disingenuous, but such edited footage is a regular staple on news shows. Add to that the fact that the reporters editing the film have a subjective view—sometimes determined by their corporate bosses—that enters in. 6. Reduce by at least one-half the amount of TV news you watch. TV news generally consists of “bad” news—wars, torture, murders, scandals and so forth. It cannot possibly do you any harm to excuse yourself each week from much of the mayhem projected at you on the news. Do not form your concept of reality based on television. TV news, it must be remembered, does not reflect normal everyday life. Studies indicate that a heavy viewing of TV news makes people think the world is much more dangerous than it actually is. 7. One of the reasons many people are addicted to watching TV news is that they feel they must have an opinion on almost everything, which gives the illusion of participation in American life. But an “opinion” is all that we can gain from TV news because it only presents the most rudimentary and fragmented information on anything. Thus, on most issues we don’t really know much about what is actually going on. And, of course, we are expected to take what the TV news host says on an issue as gospel truth. But isn’t it better to think for yourself? Add to this that we need to realize that we often don’t have enough information from the “news” source to form a true opinion. How can that be done? Study a broad variety of sources, carefully analyze issues in order to be better informed, and question everything. The bottom line is simply this: Americans should beware of letting others—whether they be television news hosts, political commentators or media corporations—do their thinking for them. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, a populace that cannot think for themselves is a populace with its backs to the walls: mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all. It’s time to change the channel, tune out the reality TV show, and push back against the real menace of the police state. If not, if we continue to sit back and lose ourselves in political programming, we will remain a captive audience to a farce that grows more absurd by the minute. Tyler Durden Wed, 03/30/2022 - 00:05.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 30th, 2022

How Does One Trade The Xi-Biden Call?

How Does One Trade The Xi-Biden Call? By Michael Every of Rabobank 'Sol' comfort There has been a hyperbolic overreaction to cancel all things Russian in some Western circles way beyond economic sanctions: Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Dostoevsky – all gone-ski. Sorry, but not in my household. ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ remains one of my favourite pieces of classical music; Gogol is preferred to Google; and in times that try one’s soul, one of my sole comforts will remain Solzhenitsyn. Indeed, one of his quotes is sadly of supreme relevance today: “We know they are lying. They know they are lying. They know we know they are lying. We know they know we know they are lying. But they still lie.” In our hyper-polarised times, wherever you are on the political spectrum you probably see the validity of the statement – even if it came from Russia. Without getting partisan there is one key example today. The Hunter Biden laptop --with its emails detailing corruption linked to Ukraine and China and “10% for the Big Guy”-- was called fake news by The New York Times ahead of the last US presidential election; dismissed as “Russian disinformation” by 50 US intelligence officials; and the story banned by Twitter. (Remember when that kind of ban was shocking?) The New York Times belatedly now says the laptop is genuine. Consider that, and Solzhenitsyn, when trading markets. For another example, this week has seen considerable efforts to start to partially price for peace between Russia and Ukraine. After all, some snippets of headlines on a Bloomberg screen said so! Throughout, I kept pointing out that the logic did not back that assessment. And what did we just see? The advisor to President Zelenskiy @Podolyak tweet: “I would like to softly recommend the “active commentators of the negotiation process” who are NOT inside: Don't spread your lies in a country that is at war. Negotiations are complicated. The positions of the parties are different. For us, fundamental issues are inviolable.” ‘Reports of Major Progress in Ukraine Talks ‘Wrong,’ Kremlin Says’; The French say Russia is only pretending to negotiate; Ukrainian media claiming Russia wants to ship in 40,000 Syrians to fight; The Financial Times say ’US pours cold water on hopes of diplomatic solution in Ukraine’; and ‘Russia claims Bosnia could suffer same fate as Ukraine if it decides to join NATO’ – and please recall I have been warning that the pot was being stirred in the Balkans too. I know, I know, it’s frustrating that this isn’t over yet for those traders with ADHD or better things to be doing or better prices on their books needed. I know it’s annoying to point out that the Siege of Sarajevo lasted three years; or that the Syrian civil war is still raging after 11, and half of its population became refugees, which if transcribed across to Ukraine would mean 10 times the population flows we have seen so far. Or that there are potentially very awkward geopolitical links between Syria and Ukraine and the US, Russia, and Iran that far exceed the level of ‘whocouldanooed?!’ faux innocence related to the Hunter Biden laptop. But it really isn’t over yet. Today, we wake in Asia to Western military intelligence underlining that the Russian invasion has slowed to a crawl, while its level of destruction has consequently increased, and as such the underlying economic equation of the war, if there ever was one, is further undermined: is Russia going to rebuild even parts of Ukraine supposing it were to win? (On which, see here.) If not, the policy is either one of deliberate ruination of a nation, or points towards escalation ahead to shift the military, political, and economic dials. Indeed, we also see high-level US warnings of a potential Russian chemical attack or even a tactical nuclear one: ‘Putin May Play Nuclear Card if War Drags on: US’ as Bloomberg puts it, echoing geostrategic logic I have been stressing from the day it became clear he could not win conventionally as planned. Open signals intelligence yesterday showed Kremlin planes heading to parts of Siberia widely regarded as the location for underground nuclear bunkers. Of course, the transponders would not be on if this was a real escape; that they are shows Russia is warning which direction it might still head in, or wants us to think they will, if they cannot get what they want on the ground. “We know they are lying. They know they are lying. They know we know they are lying. We know they know we know they are lying. But they still lie.” But what do we do if the use of nuclear weapons is the lie now? We already know what one bank analyst says: buy stocks, because if you are short and there is no nuclear war it’s ‘far worse’ --in market terms-- than being long and having one. There is mad logic to that view… unless this isn’t about nuclear war, but nuclear blackmail – and if it might just work. Because if it does, the global economy and markets will be reshaped even more than they already are being. Meanwhile, financial markets are also focusing on the fact that central banks are perhaps already back-pedalling (for example, the Bank of England was less hawkish than some had expected yesterday – see here for more from Stefan Koopman) – which is bullish. They are not focusing on the fact that the LME is still in total chaos due to the war and sanctions, with nickel trading breaking down again, and we see a warning that ‘Too-Big-to-Fail Risk Looms Over Commodities’. Indeed, it’s one thing for a financialised economy to create CDOs, and then CDOs squared and CDOs cubed – but how is this supposed to work for things you actually need to *eat*, like wheat, or to *make things*, like nickel? The short answer is - it isn’t. And yet Wall Street is now piling into the markets that are literally the very bread of life. No, broader markets are instead focusing on the fact that Russia did not default on its sovereign debt after all. On which note, allow me to quote Adam Tooze’s must-read chartbook: “So, Russia is not defaulting after all? As of 20 minutes ago the news is that JP Morgan processed interest payments from the Russian government. Acting as Russia’s correspondent bank, JP Morgan will pass the $117 million in coupon payments to Citigroup, who as the payment agent will distribute the money to investors. The US Treasury signed off on the payment as not violating sanctions. On the news, the price of a Russian dollar bond maturing in 2043 surged to 47 cents on the dollar, versus 20 cents a week ago. 47 cents on the dollar is hardly bad considering that we are perched on the edge of World War III. But is this time to rejoice? Surely not. If you invest in Russia to open hamburger franchises or Ikea’s stores, or to build cars, you are hoping to profit by selling daily necessities to ordinary Russian consumers, pretty much as you would anywhere else. If you invest in Russian government debt what are you hoping to profit from? As I argue in a piece that appeared in the Guardian earlier today, you are investing in Putin’s regime, warts and all.” (And I strongly recommend the linked article.) Of course, the same is true for *every* government bond. For all the highfalutin market talk about the wonders of ESG, we don’t get much scrutiny of the domestic or foreign policies various governments spend internationally borrowed funds on. Does war now represent a new red line if we are seeing a more moral market in action? If so, how about preparation for a war, which would surely be a better time to act – but how does one know when this is real and when it is just a bluff? What a minefield. So, far easier to ‘do a Solzhenitsyn’, pass moral judgements to those who set the bond investment benchmark, and then say “whocouldanooed?” if a country subsequently gets marked down to zero for its actions, or opts to default - which at least means everyone else in the industry following said benchmark fails conventionally with you, as Keynes put it. (And see another headline today: ‘China Credit Investors Face Billions in Losses, Shrinking Power’.) Against this backdrop, US President Biden is holding an urgent call with China’s Xi Jinping. The US readout states it will be about Ukraine and “managing the competition” between the two economic giants. That’s a phrase that even in English alone has multiple interpretations. If it came from the mouth of an EU bureaucrat it would mean one thing; from the Russian mafia, another altogether. And this is as Bloomberg reports ‘Biden Team Hardens View of China Tilting Toward Putin on Ukraine’: “Even as the Chinese government publicly voices some support for the Ukrainian people and calls for a peaceful solution, top American officials see signs that China is seeking ways to soften the blow of sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and its allies, according to the people, who say they have knowledge of deliberations in Beijing. The people, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, did not offer details on how China might be able to offset the economic consequences of the sanctions. They also declined to elaborate on US sources of information about China’s government and its interactions with the Kremlin. Some of the people said China is also considering supplying Russia with weapons such as armed drones…. In his call with Xi, Biden is expected to try to persuade his Chinese counterpart to back away from any support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war. The stakes are potentially ground-shifting, after a six-hour meeting on Monday in Rome in which White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned China’s top diplomat, Politburo member Yang Jiechi, of serious consequences should Beijing support Russia through its banks or on the battlefield…. But US officials currently don’t know China’s true intentions toward Russia and Ukraine, according to diplomatic correspondence seen by Bloomberg. China could regard the war as an opportunity to exploit Russia’s growing economic dependence, such as by buying up strategic assets or making other efforts to damage the West’s leverage. Beijing’s position is ambiguous and contradictory, and recent exchanges with U.S. officials --including Yang’s Rome meeting with Sullivan-- have produced little clarity, according to the correspondence… The relationship between the world’s two economic titans is fraught, and the Ukraine crisis has highlighted the mistrust between them. The US and China now find themselves drawn into a conflict provoked by a country, Russia, that once was so close to the Western world as to host the Group of Eight, but that has for years been drifting into Beijing’s orbit.” So how does one trade that kind of binary? First, to recognize that if the call goes well, markets will take it as positive even if D.C. is now filled with China hawks and far more will almost certainly arrive in the 2022 and 2024 elections; second, to recognise that if the call goes badly, markets will take it as a huge negative - and rightly so; and third, to recognise that what we are told happened on the call might not be the whole story anyway. I conclude yet again with my ‘Sol’ comfort: “We know they are lying. They know they are lying. They know we know they are lying. We know they know we know they are lying. But they still lie.” And markets happily swallow it, it seems. Tyler Durden Fri, 03/18/2022 - 09:51.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 18th, 2022

Ferguson: The Fates Of Ukraine And Putin Turn On 7 Forces Of History

Ferguson: The Fates Of Ukraine And Putin Turn On 7 Forces Of History Authored by Niall Ferguson, op-ed via Bloomberg.com, Does Russia grind out victory? Can sanctions stop that? Might Putin go nuclear? Is China for war or peace? The past offers clues, but no certain answers. What makes history so hard to predict - the reason there is no neat “cycle” of history enabling us to prophesy the future - is that most disasters come out of left field. Unlike hurricanes and auto accidents, to which we can at least attach probabilities, the biggest disasters (pandemics and wars) follow power-law or random distributions. They belong in the realm of uncertainty, or what Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his book “The Black Swan,” calls  “Extremistan.” They are like tsunamis, not tides. What’s more, as I argued in my book “Doom,” disasters don’t come in any predictable sequence. The most I can say is that we tend not to get the same disaster twice in succession. This time we’ve gone from plague to war. In 1918, it was from war to plague. The Hundred Years’ War began eight years before the Black Death struck England. Not everything in history is random, of course. The Russian invasion of Ukraine was not difficult to foresee at the beginning of this year. You just had to take Russian President Vladimir Putin both literally and seriously when he asserted that the Russian and Ukrainian peoples were one and that the possibility of Ukraine becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union was a red line; and to realize that Western threats of economic sanctions would not deter him. Now that the war is well into its second week, however, there are much more difficult predictions to make. It seems there are seven distinct historical processes at work and it’s not clear which is going fastest. All I can do is to apply history, as there is no model from political science or economics that can really help us here. 1. Do the Russians manage to take Kyiv in a matter of two, three, four weeks or never? I heard it argued the other day that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could become a “frozen conflict.” I think it looks a lot more like the opening hot conflict of Cold War II, and one that will be decided quite swiftly. There’s reason to think this is turning into Putin’s version of Stalin’s Winter War against Finland in November 1939, when the Red Army ran into much stiffer resistance than it had expected from the Finns. (It was the Finns who invented the Molotov Cocktail, named after Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov.) The difference is that Stalin was able to order in a second, larger wave of Soviet troops in February 1940, forcing the Finns to accept his punitive terms, including the cession of 9% of Finland’s prewar territory. Putin does not have as much manpower and hardware at his disposal. At least one military analyst I respect said late last week that the Russian invasion force has around two weeks left before serious logistical and supply problems force Putin seriously to the negotiating table. I hope that is true. The now famous 40-mile-long stalled convoy between Prybisk and Kyiv is Exhibit A that the war has not proved to be the Blitzkrieg that Putin apparently expected. On the other hand, Western media seem over-eager to cover news of Russian reverses, and insufficiently attentive to the harsh fact that the invaders continue to advance on more than one front. Nor is there sufficient recognition that the Russian generals quickly realized their Plan A had failed, switching to a Plan B of massive bombardment of key cities, a playbook familiar from earlier Russian wars in Chechnya and Syria. A week may be a long time in politics, as British Prime Minister Harold Wilson said. It is a short time in war. A better analogy than the Winter War with Finland may be the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that began in December 1979. The reason that developed into such a protracted disaster for the Red Army was that the Afghan mujahideen were so well supplied with American arms. Today, too, the Ukrainians are receiving significant amounts of hardware (Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Javelin antitank weapons, Turkish TB2 drones), much of it now coming across the border from Poland. Ukraine is also receiving vital private-sector assistance, notably the delivery of Starlink internet terminals, which are helping maintain communications despite Russian attacks on television towers (not to mention morale-boosting support from Starlink Inc. founder Elon Musk himself). What I cannot tell is whether or not these weapons and other equipment will suffice to sustain Ukrainian resistance over the coming weeks. Clearly, the Ukrainians are doing real damage to Russian infantry and armor and shooting down an impressive number of low-flying helicopters and planes. They will certainly be able to make any Russian advance into central Kyiv very costly to the invaders. But the Ukrainians have no real answers to higher-altitude bombardment and missile attacks. The fate of an independent Ukraine will be decided in the coming weeks or days. If cities continue to fall to the Russians, as Kherson has and Mariupol may, we may look back and say that Western arms shipments to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government were too little, too late. 2. Do the sanctions precipitate such a severe economic contraction in Russia that Putin cannot achieve victory? I have heard it said that the breadth and depth of the sanctions imposed on Russia make them unprecedented. I disagree. The way in which the U.S. and the European Union have severed financial ties with Russia, even seizing those parts of the reserves of the Russian central bank that are held abroad, recalls but does not quite match the sanctions that Britain and its allies imposed on Germany at the outbreak of World War I. We should remember that those measures did not defeat Germany, however, because — like Russia today — it had the resources to be self-sufficient, though the sanctions may have made a German victory less likely by increasing the hardships of the war at home. Then, as now, it was possible for an increasingly authoritarian government to impose economic controls and divert resources away from civilian consumption to the war effort, while blaming the resulting deprivation on the enemy. The Allied “hunger blockade” was a potent theme for German wartime propaganda. Economic warfare between 1914 and 1918 was not a substitute for sending British armies to fight on the European continent, just as it had not been in the Napoleonic Wars against France. It is especially hard to wage purely economic warfare on a vast and resource-rich country such as Russia. After 1928, Stalin imposed autarky on the Soviet Union. Putin has had it imposed on him by the West. But no one should forget that self-sufficiency is possible for Russia, albeit at the price of severe austerity, whether it is a choice or a consequence of war. It seems clear that Western sanctions will get tougher with every passing week of destruction of Ukrainian cities and killing of Ukrainian civilians. We are already heading for sanctions on Russian energy exports, beginning with a ban on importing Russian oil by the U.S. and U.K. (the Europeans are hesitating). On the other hand, China is able to help Russia in ways that could mitigate the economic shock, just as for years it has helped Iran to circumvent U.S. sanctions by buying its oil. To my eyes, the most striking feature of the sanctions against Russia is the way that Western corporations have gone well beyond the letter of government requirements. No one ordered the big U.S. technology companies to turn off or restrict most of their services in Russia, but they did so. Unlike Soviet citizens, who were accustomed to a state monopoly on communications, today’s Russians have come to rely as much as we do on Big Tech. Being cut off from the metaverse may prove a more psychologically painful deprivation than shortages of imported foods. Russia’s economy now faces as severe a blow as it suffered in the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union fell apart and the planned economy collapsed. It is teetering on the brink of a financial crisis that will see bank runs, soaring inflation and default on at least some sovereign debt. But even a 35% quarterly decline in gross domestic product does not condemn a country to military defeat if its planes can still fly and its tanks still fire rounds. 3. Does the combination of military and economic crisis precipitate a palace coup against Putin? Modern Russia has seen three popular revolutions (1905, 1917 and 1991). There have been assassinations — for example, Tsar Alexander II in 1881 and Lenin, whose life was shortened by an attempt in 1918 — and palace coups, such as the ones that put Nikita Khrushchev in power in 1953 and removed him in 1964. But most Russian rulers die of natural causes — even Stalin, though there was no great rush to get him medical assistance when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. President Boris Yeltsin surprised everyone by resigning on New Year’s Eve, 1999, without duress. Could Putin fall from power, a victim of his own hubris in underestimating Ukrainian courage and Western economic might? It is possible. But I would not bet the fate of Ukraine on Russian internal politics. For one thing, the repressive apparatus of Russian state security seems to be in full working order. Those in Russia who courageously protest the war are being arrested and harassed in the usual fashion. For another, I can imagine few riskier actions for a member of the Russian economic elite than to intimate to one of his peers even the faintest interest in overthrowing Putin. On the other hand, it was obvious even during the somewhat farcical broadcast of the Russian Security Council meeting two weeks ago that not everyone inside the Kremlin was wholly comfortable with Putin’s invasion plan. More plausible than a popular revolt or an oligarchs’ mutiny is a palace coup led by one or more of Russia’s security service chiefs. The people with the power to arrest Putin are the people he counts on to execute his arrest orders: Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Security Council and, like Putin, a long-serving KGB officer; Sergei Naryshkin, the head of foreign intelligence; and Alexander Bortnikov, who heads the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB. 4. Does the risk of downfall lead Putin to desperate measures (carrying out his nuclear threat)?  The most dangerous aspect of the war in Ukraine is obvious: Russia, though in many ways diminished, is still the heir of the Soviet Union as a nuclear-armed power — unlike Ukraine, which gave up its Soviet nukes in return for a security guarantee (the Budapest Memorandum of 1994) that proved worthless. Putin has understood from the outset that his ace is to threaten to use nuclear weapons. Even before launching his invasion, he warned that “anyone who tries to interfere with us … must know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences as you have never before experienced in your history.” Russia, he added, remains “one of the most powerful nuclear powers” with “certain advantages in a number of the latest types of weapons” and that “no one should have any doubt that a direct attack on Russia will lead to defeat and dire consequences for a potential aggressor.” After the war was underway, he put Russian nuclear forces on a “special regime of combat duty” — in other words, high alert. If Putin’s goal was to deter members of NATO from offering direct military assistance to Ukraine, it seemed to have some effect. An idea for Poland and others to lend fighter jets to Kyiv was briefly floated by the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, and then melted away, although U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is trying to revive it, and the Poles appear to think they are swapping their Soviet-era MiG-29 jets for U.S. planes, presumably so the MiGs can go to Ukraine. There has also been media discussion of a NATO “no-fly zone” over Ukraine, which the Ukrainian government keeps asking for, but which would surely be seized on by Putin as an act of war. Fortunately, no one in a position of responsibility has endorsed the idea. Yet it cannot be right that a threat to use nuclear weapons goes unanswered. In the Cold War, both sides used nuclear alerts to intimidate one another. The reason no nuclear war occurred — though it came close on more than one occasion, notably in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and the Able Archer false alarm of 1983 — was that each side believed the other capable of going nuclear and no one could be sure that a limited nuclear war, of the sort envisaged by Henry Kissinger in 1957, would not escalate into Armageddon. At 11:41 p.m. on October 24, 1973, at the height of the Yom Kippur War, Kissinger and the other key members of President Richard Nixon’s national security team agreed to raise the U.S. alert level to Defcon 3 — the highest level of peacetime readiness for war — to ensure that the Soviet Union did not send troops to support the Arab states that had attacked Israel but were now losing badly. At the same time, they ordered major movements of U.S. military assets, to ensure the Soviets got the message. The Soviet documents reveal a Politburo wrong-footed, just as Kissinger had intended. None of the Soviet leaders, not even the drug-addled Leonid Brezhnev — who, like Nixon, was asleep during the hours of maximum danger — was ready to blow up the world to save Egypt and Syria from defeat. As the future Soviet leader (then KGB chief) Yuri Andropov put it: “We shall not unleash the Third World War.” Today, however, the boot is on the other foot. Not only is Putin intimidating NATO; he may have achieved something more, namely a tacit admission by the Biden administration that it would not necessarily retaliate with nuclear weapons if Russia used them. The failure of the administration to signal that it would retaliate is of a piece with last year’s reports that Biden’s national security team was considering ruling out first use of nuclear weapons in its new national military strategy. Nuclear missiles cease to be a deterrent if one side is unwilling to use them. Putin is probably bluffing. What would he strike with a tactical nuclear weapon? If it’s a Ukrainian city, particularly Kyiv, he surely destroys his own spurious claim that he is fighting to preserve the historic unity of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. Russian casualties are being caused by Ukrainians using arms supplied by multiple NATO countries, including the U.S. and Turkey, but they are mostly crossing into Ukraine from Poland. Might Putin therefore strike a target in eastern Poland — Lublin, say, or Przemysl? It cannot be completely ruled out. And he is surely more likely to do so if believes the U.S. would not immediately retaliate in kind against a Russian target. A key lesson of this entire crisis has been that indications of weakness on the U.S. side, which I discussed here last week, have emboldened Putin. 5. Do the Chinese keep Putin afloat but on the condition that he agrees to a compromise peace that they offer to broker? Let no one have any illusions. Putin’s war would not have gone ahead without a green light from the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, who was able to specify that the Russians wait until the Beijing Winter Olympics were over. The Chinese now have the option to assist Russia economically. The question is whether this leverage would give Xi the role of intermediary played by Theodore Roosevelt in 1905, when it was Japan that Russia was fighting. We know from a number of reports that Chinese peace-making is a possibility. On Tuesday it was reported that China, France and Germany were “coordinating to end the conflict.” We can assume that the messiness of the war is not pleasing the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, who have their hands full with Covid (remember that?), a slowing economy and their upcoming Party Congress, and wanted a quiet world in 2022. On the other hand, we should not underestimate the closeness of the Xi-Putin relationship and the extent to which Xi’s preference must be for a Russian victory, given his own ambitions to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control. My guess is that the Chinese make no serious diplomatic move until they are convinced Putin’s invasion is thoroughly bogged down in Ukraine’s spring mud. 6. Does the West’s attention deficit disorder kick in before any of this? All over the democratic world, people are learning the words “Slava Ukraini!” — Glory to Ukraine! — donning blue-and-yellow garments, participating in pro-Ukrainian demonstrations. True, the U.S. public generally has about three weeks of attention for any overseas calamity (see the temporary wave of outrage that followed the abandonment of Afghanistan last year). Yet the response to the invasion of Ukraine seems bigger and more likely to endure. Remarkably, one U.S. legislator told me last week that he “couldn’t recall an issue more obsessively followed and more unifying among” his constituents. We may speculate as to why this is, but a significant part of the explanation is surely the skillful way in which Zelenskiy has used television and social media to win the world’s sympathies. Most Americans also recognize a war of independence when they see one. I am reminded of the way the British public in the 19th century would periodically embrace an ethnic group fighting for its freedom. The Greeks in the 1820s, the Poles in the 1830s, the Germans and Italians in the 1840s, the Bulgarians in the 1870s — all these causes aroused passionate support in Britain, and equally passionate condemnation of the despotic empires of the Ottomans, Romanovs and Habsburgs.   However, spasms of moral outrage tend to contribute very little of practical use to those intent on building nation-states. That was Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck’s point in 1862, when he declared: “Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided … but by iron and blood.” The only real significance of Western public outrage at Putin’s actions is the political pressure it exerts on Biden and other leaders to take a tougher line with Russia. 7. What is the collateral damage? The problem for Biden — and it will soon be a problem for his European counterparts, too — is the economic damage this war will cause. Inflation expectations had already shifted upward sharply as a result of the excessive fiscal and monetary stimulus administered early last year in the form of the American Rescue Plan and the Federal Reserve’s continued asset purchases. History shows that wars (much more than pandemics) are the most common cause of jumps in inflation. The best-known recent illustration is the way wars in 1973 (Yom Kippur) and 1979 (Iran-Iraq) contributed to the great inflation of the Seventies, but there are many other examples. True, the price of oil is a much smaller component of economic activity and consumer inflation indices today than 50 years ago. But it would be naive to imagine that, with inflation already at its highest level since 1982, the additional shock of war and rapidly escalating sanctions won’t pour kerosene on the barbecue. Even if the Russians fail to scupper the scramble to resuscitate the Iran nuclear agreement, the return of Iranian oil to the world market is unlikely to offset the shock of Western sanctions on Russia. What’s more, these price spikes are not confined to oil and gas but involve a host of other commodities. The prospect of this year’s Ukrainian grain harvest being disrupted means a significant surge in food prices, with all kinds of consequences, especially in developing countries. Nor can we ignore the risks that may be lurking within the international financial system. A great many institutions blithely ignored the approach of war and have been left holding large quantities of Russian assets that have plunged in value. Losses on this scale — and with more to come if the Russian state defaults on some of its debt — almost always have repercussions. The Russian default on local-currency bonds in 1998 was an important element in the Long-Term Capital Management blowup that year. Add these seven imponderables together and you see how profoundly important the next few weeks will be. This is the first big crisis of Cold War II, which is in many ways like a mirror image of Cold War I, with China the senior partner, Russia the junior, and a hot war in Eastern Europe rather than East Asia (it was Korea’s turn in 1950). I do not know how the crisis will turn out, but I do know it will have profound consequences for the course of the superpower contest. If the invasion of Ukraine ends in disaster for the heroic defenders of Kyiv and their comrades, another disaster may well follow — and it could occur as far away as Taiwan. Conversely, if there is justice in the world and the disaster befalls the architect of this war, that too will give birth to some fresh and unforeseeable event. For any victory for democracy in Ukraine is likely to prove ephemeral if its consequence is a new Time of Troubles in Russia, echoing the 17th-century fight over the tsar’s crown. A tsunami of war has struck Ukraine. Whether the Russian tide flows or ebbs in the coming weeks will do much to determine the course of world history for the rest of our lives. Tyler Durden Fri, 03/11/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMar 11th, 2022

Von Greyerz: "The Dark Years Are Here"

Von Greyerz: "The Dark Years Are Here" Authored by Egon von Greyerz via GoldSwitzerland.com, A GLOBAL MONETARY & COMMODITY INFERNO OF NUCLEAR PROPORTIONS When the sh-t hits the global fan, it often does it at the optimal time for the maximum amount of damage and with the worst kind of sh-t to soil the world. For years I have been clear that the world is reaching the end of an economic, financial and monetary era which will affect mankind catastrophically for decades.  The world will obviously blame Putin for the catastrophe which will hit every corner of our planet. But we must remember that neither Putin nor Covid is the reason for the economic cataclysm that we are now approaching.  These events are catalysts which will have a major effect because they are hitting a gigantic debt bubble of a magnitude that has never been seen before in history. And it obviously takes very little to prick this epic bubble. What is unequivocal is that all currencies will finish the 100+ year fall to ZERO in the next few years. It is also crystal clear that all the asset bubbles – stocks, bonds and property – will implode at the same time leading to a long and deep depression. We had the warning in 2006-9 but central banks ignored it and just added new worthless debt to existing worthless debt to create worthless debt squared – an obvious recipe for disaster. So as is often typical for the end of an economic era, the catalyst is totally unexpected and worse than anyone could have forecast. WAR CYCLES Yes, I and a few others have pointed out that we are in a war cycle currently, and recent events have clearly confirmed this and hit the world with a vengeance. Just as nobody paid any serious attention to the warning that the Great Financial Crisis in 2006-9 gave the world, few people have taken Putin’s warnings seriously since the 2014 Maidan revolution in Ukraine. When sh-t happens at the end of an excessive bubble era, it will always be the worst kind. And what can be worse than a major war that could develop into a nuclear and world war. Sadly, wars are part of history and there is virtually no period in history without a war. Wikipedia lists around 40 ongoing wars and conflicts currently with most of them being relatively small and local. The majority are in the Middle East and Africa. Wars are horrible at any level and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine certainly qualifies as another grim conflict that potentially could have been avoided. In the US backed Maidan Revolution in Ukraine in 2014, the Russian friendly Ukrainian President Yanukovych was pushed out. Since then, Putin has always made it clear that he could not accept being surrounded by a US and Western backed Ukraine as well as Nato members with missile systems pointing to Russia. The parallel with Cuba, Kennedy and Khrushchev in 1962 is obvious. Whether anyone listened to Putin’s demands or not, he made it very clear that he could never let Russia be cornered in this manner. If the US and the West had focused more on critical diplomacy for the sake of global peace, things could have been different. But instead, all Western world leaders found nebulous and uncontroversial areas to agree on such as Covid, climate change, wokeism, rewriting history and creating unlimited genders. Leaders also deliberately ignored the fact that the world was going towards an inevitable economic debt and asset collapse. Much easier to rearrange the deck chairs than to deal with real and emphatically catastrophic issues. So Putin is now the number one enemy of the Western world since starting a war is always unacceptable whoever starts it. Lindsey Graham, a US Republican senator just suggested that Putin should be taken out! But Boris Johnson fortunately disagreed but  suggested instead that Putin should be held to account at the International (Criminal) Court.  Fair enough, war crimes are always crimes and should therefore be punished. But what is interesting to observe is that when the US with Allies start unprovoked wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Libya or Syria with hundreds of thousands of innocent victims, destroying the fabric of these societies and also leading to anarchy, no one calls for the US president or UK prime minister to be held to account. Obviously, the world has never been a level playing field. THE FED CAN NEVER GET INFLATION RIGHT Inflation leading to hyperinflation was always guaranteed in the current debt infested era, although the Fed and other Western central banks have never understood what inflation is. Just as they didn’t understand that their fake and manipulated inflation figures couldn’t even reach the Fed target of 2%. Now with real US inflation exceeding 15% (see graph below), the Fed has a new dilemma that they are totally unprepared for. The US government conveniently changed the calculation of inflation to suit their purpose. Had they stuck to the 1980s established method, official inflation would be over 15% today and rising. For years, the US Fed unsuccessfully tried, with all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, to get inflation up to 2%. In spite of throwing $ trillions at the problem and keeping interest rates at zero, they never understood why they failed. In spite of printing unlimited amounts of counterfeit money, inflation for years stayed nearer 0% than 2%. Now with official inflation at 7% and real at 15%, the Fed can’t understand what has hit them as we know from their laughable “transitory” language. So now a quick volte face for the Fed to figure out how to reduce inflation by 5 percentage points and more likely by 13 to get inflation down to 2% instead of up to 2%. Clearly the Fed can never get it right but many of us have known that for a very long time. If the Fed studied and understood Austrian economics rather than defunct Keynesianism, they would know that the real inflation rate depends on growth in money supply rather than the obsolete consumer price model. BASED ON THE GROWTH IN MONEY SUPPLY, US INFLATION IS NOW 19% So let’s take a look at the growth in Money Supply. Since 1971, M2 has grown by 7% annually. A 7% growth means that prices double every 10 years. Thus 100% total inflation over 10 years rather than the 2% per annum that is the Fed target. But as the chart above shows, the exponential phase started in March 2020 with M2 growing by 19% annually since then. That means a doubling of prices every 3.8 years. Since money supply is growing at 19% annually, this means that inflation is also 19% based on our Austrian friends. And this is what the US and the world was facing before the Ukraine crisis. But now there is a lot of explosive fuel being poured on the global inflation fire. RUSSIA HAS THE BIGGEST GLOBAL NATURAL RESOURCE RESERVES Russia has the biggest natural resource reserves in the world which include coal, natural gas, oil, gold, timber, rare earth metals etc. In Rubles these reserves will obviously appreciate substantially with the falling currency. In total, the Russian natural resource reserves are estimated at $75 trillion. That is 66% higher than the second country USA and more than twice as much as Saudi Arabia and Canada. Even if the total Russian supply is not lost to the world, it is clear that the West is determined to punish Russia to the furthest extent possible. Therefore, as we have already seen in the major escalation of oil and gas prices, the shortages will put insufferable pressure on the prices of natural resources. The table below shows the countries in Europe that are dependent on Russian gas for more than 50% of their total consumption. A COMMODITY BLACK SWAN IS COMING The global market for grains, vegetable oil and fertilisers was already extremely tight before Russia’s attack. What is happening now is a commodity black swan across both energy and agricultural resources. The World Food Programme warned of a catastrophic scarcity for several hundred million people last November. What is happening now will make this exponentially worse. “Everything is going up vertically. The whole production chain is under pressure from every side,” said UN’s ex-head of agricultural markets. Energy and agricultural products are interlinked. Gas is feedstock for fertiliser production in Europe. Russia and Belarus together account for 1/3 of the world’s potash exports. Around 33% of world exports of barley come from Russia and Ukraine together, 30% of wheat, 20% of maize and 80% of sunflower oil. The consequences are unforeseeable. Goldman Sachs Commodity Index is up 3X since April 2020. The exponential phase of  the move has just started. UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FOA) are reporting a 43% increase in food price since 2020. And remember, this was before the real problems had started. A GLOBAL MONETARY AND COMMODITY INFERNO I have for quite a few years warned about the coming inflation, leading to hyperinflation, based on unlimited money printing. But the dynamite of a global commodity crisis and shortages thrown into the already catastrophic debt and global monetary fire will create an inferno of nuclear proportions. If a miracle doesn’t stop this war very quickly (which is extremely unlikely), the world will soon be entering a hyperinflationary commodity explosion (think both energy, metals and food) combined with a cataclysmic deflationary asset implosion (think debt, stocks and property). The world will be experiencing totally unknown consequences without the ability to solve any of them for a very long time. All the above would most likely happen even without a global war. But if the war spreads outside Russia and Ukraine, then all bets are off. At this point I am not going to speculate about such an outcome since what is standing in front of us currently certainly is bad enough. IS THERE ANY GOOD NEWS? So is there any good news? Well, first of all as I often repeat, family and a small group of friends and colleagues will be invaluable in the coming crisis. And since a commodity inflation is guaranteed, it is obvious that physical gold and some silver will be a life saver against the coming bubble-asset destruction (stocks, bonds, property. As I have said many times: “GOLD AND SILVER WILL REACH UNTHINKABLE HEIGHTS!” In a crisis of this magnitude, I would stay away from paper assets including ETFs of any kind. It is clearly imperative to have physical metals stored outside the financial system. And remember not to measure your wealth or your gold in worthless paper money. Instead measure your gold and silver in ounces or grammes. Just look at what happens to gold when the currency collapses. The chart below shows gold in Rubles since 2000. Gold is up 38X in the last 21 years. Just in the last 12 months, gold is up 89% in Rubles and the problems have just began. Russia was the world’s second largest gold producer in 2020 with 331 tonnes after China with 368 tonnes. These two countries have officially accumulated 3,400 tonnes of gold since 2000 giving them a total of 4,200t. Some insiders estimate that China’s gold reserves could be as high as 20,000t and Russia’s also considerably higher than the 2,300t. So while Russia and China have increased their combined gold holdings 5X since 2000 The US allegedly has held 8,000 since 1980. But since there has been no official physical audit of the US gold since 1953, few believe that they hold this amount of unencumbered gold. Remember: “He who holds the gold makes the rules” In 2009 I wrote an article called “The Dark Years Are Here”. I have republished parts of it a couple of times and the last time in 2020 with an article called “The Dark Years & The Forth Turning” Sadly it now looks like the Dark Years are starting in earnest. Except for protecting your assets against collapsing currencies, I repeat that the circle of family and friends and helping others will be absolutely critical. Tyler Durden Fri, 03/11/2022 - 05:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 11th, 2022

Live updates: Russian forces "frustrated," Zelensky refuses evacuation help, Germany sends weapons and missiles to "friends in Ukraine"

Zelensky called for allies to send help. In a major "turning point," Germany will send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles. Ukrainian servicemen walk by fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv on February 25, 2022.AP Photo/Oleksandr Ratushniak President Zelensky said during a briefing on Saturday morning that Ukraine "survived" the night. He said that government forces still control Kyiv and called for allies to send help. Germany is planning to send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles to Ukraine. Germany to send anti-tank weapons and missiles to Ukraine in a major policy reversalGermany is planning to send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles to Ukraine, according to a statement made by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday. "The Russian attack marks a turning point," Scholz wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. "It is our duty to do our best to help Ukraine defend against the invading army of Putin. That's why we're supplying 1000 anti-tank weapons and 500 stinger missiles to our friends in Ukraine."The announcement marks a significant shift of Germany's restrictive arms export policy. The country has previously said it held "historical responsibilities" that prevented it from sending weapons and arms to conflict areas, often citing guilt for crimes committed against the Soviet Union during World War II. Read Full StoryRussian forces are 'frustrated' with lack of progress, US official saysAn unexploded Grad rocket is seen at a kindergarten playground in Kharkiv, Ukraine, February 26, 2022, in this still image obtained from a videoReuters TV via REUTERSAccording to a Reuters report, the US official, who was not named by the outlet, said Russian forces had not planned to bring enough fuel or for other basic logistics. "We know that they have not made the progress that they have wanted to make, particularly in the north. They have been frustrated by what they have seen is a very determined resistance," the official told Reuters, adding: "It has slowed them down." An unnamed US official told Fox News: "We continue to believe, based on what we've observed, that this resistance is greater than what the Russians expected." The British Defense Ministry on Saturday made similar claims, saying: "The speed of the Russian advance has temporarily slowed likely as a result of acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance," according to the Associated Press.Read Full StoryZelensky called on 'every friend of Ukraine' to 'please come over' and help defend against Russian invasionUkraine President Volodymyr ZelenskyUkraine President Volodymyr ZelenskyUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday remained defiant in the face of Russia's invasion, confirming that government forces continued to control Kyiv and "key points around the city.""Please stop those who are lying, or trying to lie to you, or lying to us. We need to stop this war," he said during a morning briefing, The Guardian reported, lambasting disinformation about the state of the country. "We can live in peace together, globally, as humans."He continued: "Our military, our national guard, our national police, our territory defense, special service, nationals of Ukraine, please carry on. We will win. Glory to Ukraine."Read Full StoryBiden's administration is reportedly working to set up a hotline with Russia to avoid an unintended clash between their military forces in Eastern EuropeU.S. soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division and military vehicles are seen at the temporary military base for U.S. troops established at the Arlamow Airport.Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesSources told NBC News that the United States is working to set up backchannel communications with the Russian military to prevent a clash between the two forces near Ukraine's border.The hotline would help both parties to avoid clashing as US forces are operating near Eastern Europe, according to the report.The open line of communication would also help US and Russian aircraft and ships remain in different areas and communicate the risk of missile strikes. However, it is not yet clear if Russia will subscribe to the potential plan. Mayor of Kyiv sets curfew amid battle to hold capital, says anyone on the street after curfew will be considered an enemyKyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko on Saturday announced a curfew from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. to ensure a "more effective defense of the capital" and its residents, according to reports. "This curfew is introduced until the morning of February 28," Klitschko said in the translated announcement. "All civilians who will be on the street during the curfew will be considered members of the enemy's sabotage and reconnaissance groups." —Alex Ward (@alexbward) February 26, 2022The mayor added: "Please treat the situation with understanding and do not go outside."Read Full StoryUkrainian President Zelensky says Ukraine 'survived' the nightUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses nation in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 25, 2022.Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via APUkraine has "survived" the night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a briefing on Saturday morning."And we are successfully fighting off the enemy attacks," he added, per The Kyiv Independent.He said that government forces still control Kyiv and "key points around the city," The Guardian reported.Ukrainian President Zelensky addressed false information that circulated online claiming he called on residents to lay down armsIn a video posted early Saturday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky can be seen in front of the House with Chimaeras in Kyiv. —Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 26, 2022Zelensky addressed misinformation that was circulating online and reiterated that he was not standing down. "Ukrainians, it has now come to our attention that a lot of fake information has been circulating about me allegedly calling to our armed forces to lay down their arms, and talks of de-evacuation. Let's get things straight. We are here, we are not laying down any arms, we are going to defend our nation." Zelensky said. He added: "This is because our weapons are our truth, and our truth lies in the fact that this is our land, this is our country, our children, and we are going to defend all of this. So this is what I want to tell you. Glory to Ukraine!" Officials in Kyiv are telling residents to seek shelter as street fights break out against Russian forcesIn this handout photo taken from video released by Ukrainian Police Department Press Service released on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, firefighters hose down burning burning debris in front of a damaged building following a rocket attack on the city of Kyiv, Ukraine.Ukrainian Police Department Press Service via APThe Associated Press reported that on Saturday morning, Russian troops headed toward Kyiv as explosions could be heard across the city. Officials in the Ukrainian capital warned residents to stay away from windows and take shelter indoors as fighting escalated on the streets. President Joe Biden authorized the release of $350 million for military aid to UkrainePresident Joe Biden delivers remarks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the East Room of the White House on February 07, 2022.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesIn a memorandum to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent on Friday night, President Joe Biden asked the State Department to release $350 million through the Foreign Assistance Act to be sent to Ukraine as it defends itself against a Russian invasion.   'The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,' Ukrainian President Zelensky said following an offer to evacuateUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky seen at Arlington National Cemetery on September 1, 2021.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky refused an offer from the US to evacuate the Ukrainian capital, a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation told the Associated Press. "The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride," Zelensky said in response to the offer, the official said, describing Zelensky as "upbeat," according to the AP. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accuses Russia of "abusing its power" on the UN Security Council with its attacks on UkraineSecretary of State Antony Blinken takes part in a press conference at the end of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) foreign ministers meeting in Melbourne on February 11, 2022.Kevin Lamarque/Getty ImagesUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted his support for the people of Ukraine on Friday night, rebuking Russia — an "irresponsible Permanent Member of the UN Security Council" — for "abusing its power to attack its neighbor and subvert the UN and our international system.Blinken said the US will be addressing the matter in the UN General Assembly where "the nations of the world can, will, and should hold Russia accountable..."—Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) February 26, 2022Earlier Friday, Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution that called on Moscow to withdraw its troops and halt the attack on Ukraine.The US Embassy in Kyiv issued a travel advisory warning US citizens remaining in the city to "know your closest shelter"US Embassy building stays empty as the diplomatic staff was ordered to leave Ukraine Kiev, Ukraine on February 23, 2022.Photo by Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesThe US Embassy in Kyiv issued a new travel advisory for US citizens remaining in Kyiv early Saturday morning. As Russian forces intensify their attacks against the capital city, the embassy warned US citizens to exercise increased caution due to the possibility of active combat, crime, and civil unrest."The security situation throughout Ukraine is highly volatile, and conditions may deteriorate without warning," the statement said. "US citizens should remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness."The advisory urged US citizens to know the location of "your closest shelter or protected space," and seek shelter immediately in "the event of mortar and/or rocket fire." "If you feel your current location is no longer safe, you should carefully assess the potential risks involved in moving to a different location," the advisory said. US government prepared to evacuate President Zelensky, according to The Washington PostUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a statement during the 58th Munich Security Conference (MSC) on February 19, 2022 in Munich, Germany.Photo by Ronald Wittek - Pool/Getty ImagesThe US government is ready to help Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky flee Kyiv, but the president is so far refusing to leave, according to The Washington Post.US and Ukrainian officials told the outlet that preparations have been made to help Zelensky avoid being captured or killed as Russian forces descended upon the capital city early Saturday morning.Amid increasing Russian attacks on Friday, Zelensky promised to remain at the head of Ukraine's government in Kyiv, despite the danger."According to the information we have, the enemy has marked me as target No. 1, my family as target No.2," he said in an address. "They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state."Insider has reached out to the White House and the State Department for comment. A senior US official told The Post that US officials in recent days have talked to Zelensky about multiple security issues, including the safest place for the president to remain to maintain the Ukrainian government. "We have been making him aware not only of the threat of Russian invasion, now a reality, but also the threat to him personally," Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told The Post. "We stand ready to assist him in any way."Satellite image shows 4-mile-long traffic jam along the Ukrainian-Romanian borderSatellite image of a miles-long traffic jam along the Ukraine-Romania border.Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies.Satellite images from Maxar show a 4-mile (6.5 km)-long traffic jam of people, cars, and trucks attempting to leave Ukraine and cross into Romania near the Siret border crossing.Tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have already fled the country since Russian forces invaded early Thursday morning.New explosions heard in Kyiv as Russian forces attack the cityA view of empty streets following the curfew in the country after explosions and air raid sirens wailing again in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 26, 2022.Photo by Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesMore than four dozen explosions were heard early Saturday morning in Kyiv as Russian troops intensified their attacks on the capital city, according to The Washington Post.Thirty minutes of ongoing shelling could be heard as the Ukrainian military fought off Russian assaults in northern Kyiv, the Kyiv Independent reported.The State Special Communications Service instructed people to seek shelter following more than 50 shots fired in a suburb near the city's center.CNN reported that heavy fighting is being reported south of Kyiv as well.—The Recount (@therecount) February 26, 2022 Ukraine's president warns that Russia will try to 'break our resistance' and topple the government before the night is overPresident of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a press conference in regard of Russia's attack on Ukraine in Kiev, Ukraine on February 24, 2022.Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday night that the future of his country "is being decided right now," a warning that comes amid reports that Russian troops are approaching Kyiv from multiple directions."Tonight the enemy will use all the resources they have to break our resistance in a mean, cruel, and inhuman way," Zelensky said in a message to his nation, according to a translation of his remarks. "Tonight they will assault us."He added that many Ukrainian cities remain under attack."Burn down the enemy's military vehicles, using anything—anything—you can. If even the kindergartens are an admissible target for the invaders, you must not leave them any chance," he said.READ FULL STORYRussia vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution calling on Moscow to stop Ukrainian assaultUnited Nations Security Council vote on a resolution during a meeting on Russian invasion of Ukraine, Friday Feb. 25, 2022 at U.N. headquarters.AP Photo/Seth WenigRussia vetoed on Friday a United Nations Security Council draft resolution that called on Moscow to withdraw its troops and halt the attack on Ukraine.Eleven countries on the council voted in favor, while three abstained. The countries that voted in favor of the resolution were:United StatesUnited KingdomFranceNorwayIrelandAlbaniaGabonMexicoBrazilGhanaKenyaRussia voted no.The countries that abstained from voting were: ChinaIndiaUnited Arab EmiratesThe Biden administration is seeking $6.4 billion for Ukraine aid from CongressA view of the US Capitol at sunset on January 5, 2022 in Washington, DC.Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesThe White House on Friday asked Congress for an estimated $6.4 billion in additional spending to aid Ukraine amid Russia's invasion, according to Bloomberg.The outlet reported that $2.9 billion of the requested funds would go to humanitarian and security needs in Ukraine, the Baltics, and Poland, including food aid, refugee assistance, and energy stabilization. The remaining $3.5 billion would help the US Department of Defense respond to the conflict, a Biden administration official told Bloomberg.The funds could be included in a broad government spending package Congress is aiming to pass by mid-March. The The requested money is on top of $650 million in security aid and $52 million in humanitarian aid that the US promised Ukraine last year. Spy chief humiliated by Putin on Russian TV for stammering releases new video echoing Putin's war rhetoricRussian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergei Naryshkin is seen while opening of the exhibition on violations of human rights in Ukraine (2017-2020), on January 18, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty ImagesJust days after being humiliated in a broadcast meeting by Vladimir Putin, the head of Russia's foreign intelligence agency, Sergei Naryshkin, returned to the screen to reiterate war rhetoric."Russia cannot allow Ukraine to become a dagger raised above us in the hands of Washington," Naryshkin said in a video on state television, according to the New York Times. "The special military operation will restore peace in Ukraine within a short amount of time and prevent a potential larger conflict in Europe."Read Full StoryBiden is planning to announce new sanctions that personally target Putin, report saysRussian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into eastern Ukraine on Monday.Alexei Nikolsky/Associated PressUS President Joe Biden is planning to announce as soon as Friday that the US will sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin, CNN reported, a provocative move of condemnation against one of the world's most powerful leaders.The move would come after the US, in coordination with its partners and allies, slapped two rounds of sanctions on Russia following its military assault on Ukraine earlier this week.Biden's reported decision to sanction Putin personally is a rare step and follows the European Union and the UK announcing sanctions against the Russian leader.Read Full StoryA California professor says he spotted Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Google Maps hours before Putin announced the attackRadar imagery showed a large Russian military unit south of Belgorod before it moved toward the border with Ukraine.Capella Space/Middlebury Institute of International StudiesA California professor and arms control expert says he noticed Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Google Maps in real time hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the attack in a televised address.Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, had been monitoring Google Maps with a small team of research assistants and graduate students when they spotted a "traffic jam" on a road from Belgorod, Russia, to the Ukrainian border at around 3:15 a.m. local time in the Russian city on Thursday.Lewis told Insider on Friday that the "unusual" early morning backup started exactly where a radar image taken a day earlier showed a newly arrived "large Russian military unit with a lot of armor," such as tanks and armored personnel carriers."What was important about that image is that they were not set up in a camp — they were lined up in columns along roads, which is what you do when you're about to pounce," Lewis said.Read Full StoryThe daughter of Putin's spokesman publicly opposed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, undermining her dadElizaveta Pesokva attends a restaurant opening in January 2022Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS via Getty ImagesThe daughter of President Vladimir Putin's spokesman posted an anti-war slogan in her Instagram Live on Friday, according to multiple reports.Elizaveta Peskova, 24, posted "HET BOЙHE" — "no to war," against a black background on her Instagram story according to a screenshot tweeted by the Russian outlet TV Rain.This slogan is the main chant used by Russian protesters to oppose the invasions of Ukraine.Read Full StoryVideo reportedly shows Ukrainian men helping themselves to guns on a Kyiv street after all 18-60 years were urged to take up arms and fight the Russian invasionVolunteers, holding AK-47 rifles, protect a main road leading into Kyiv on February 25, 2022DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty ImagesThe video, which was shared on Twitter by Illia Ponomarenko, the defense correspondent at the Kyiv Independent, appears to shows civilians on a suburban street in a Kyiv suburb rummaging through boxes of firearms unloaded from trucks, as a voice off-camera says "Slava Ukraini!" (Glory to Ukraine!)."Firearms are delivered to anyone willing," Ponomarenko said in the tweet of the video.Read Full StoryUkraine's president posts defiant video with top government leaders saying 'we are all here' in the streets of besieged KyivUkraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a press conference on Russia's military operation in Ukraine, on February 25, 2022 in Kyiv.Photo by Presidency of Ukraine/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesUkraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a defiant video on Friday, purportedly from streets of besieged Kyiv, with top government leaders."We are all here," he said in a video posted to his Facebook page with the words: "We're in here. We are in Kiev. We defend Ukraine."Zelensky said he was with Ukraine's prime minister, presidential advisor, and head of the president's office."Our military are here, our citizens and society are here. We are all here defending our independence, our state, and this is how it's going to be," he said.Read Full StoryRussia says it will partially restrict access to Facebook, accusing it of censorship and human rights violationsRussian President Vladimir PutinAlexey Nikolsky/Getty ImagesRussia said Friday that it would partially limit access to Facebook within its borders over what it alleges is censorship of four state news outlets. In its announcement, the country's communications regulator said it asked Facebook earlier in the week to remove the restrictions and explain its reasoning for them but did not hear back.It also accused the company of various other undetailed human rights and freedoms abuses. Read Full StoryBan children of Russian oligarchs from elite British schools, UK MPs urge after invasion of UkraineHarrow School is one of the many prestigious private schools included in testimonies on Everyone's Invited.Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty ImagesBoris Johnson should ban the children of Russian oligarchs from enjoying the benefits of elite British schools, Conservative MPs have said. The prime minister is coming under increasing pressure to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine by targeting its super-rich, many of whom have interests in the UK and mingle with its high society.Read Full StoryThe 5,000 helmets Germany offered Ukraine are finally on their way as it faces a Russian onslaught from 3 sidesGermany is sending 5,000 military helmets to Ukraine, which had requested 100,000 of them.Friso GentschThe 5,000 helmets Germany offered to Ukraine are finally on their way as the country faces Russian attacks from 3 sides. Over a month after Germany's secretary of defense promised the equipment, two trucks are bound for a handoff just outside Ukraine, according to German media company Der Spiegel.  Read Full StoryRussia's advance on Kyiv hit more resistance and is moving slower than expected, US defense official saysUkrainian servicemen ride on tanks towards the front line with Russian forces in the Lugansk region of Ukraine on February 25, 2022ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty ImagesRussia appears to have "lost a bit of momentum" as they continue their invasion of Ukraine, a senior US defense official told reporters on Friday. The official said Russian forces are "not moving on Kyiv as fast as they anticipated they would be able to" and are "meeting more resistance than they expected," CNN reported.Read Full StoryEuropean Union freezes assets of Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov, Latvia's foreign minister saysRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on, next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as they wait for the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021.Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty ImagesThe European Union on Friday approved freezing the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Latvia's foreign minister said."EU Foreign Affairs Council has adopted the 2nd sanctions package, asset freeze includes President of Russia and its Foreign Minister. We will prepare the 3d package," Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said on Twitter.Read Full StoryA Russian tennis star protested the war in Ukraine in a twist of a traditional celebration in the sportTSN/TwitterRussian tennis star Andrey Rublev has a message for the world — and maybe one directed at his own country."No war please."On Friday, the 24-year-old Moscow native called for peace after besting Poland's Hubert Hurkacz for a spot in the Dubai Tennis Championships title match.As is a popular tennis tradition, Rublev wrote a note on the TV camera lens following his victory.Instead of signing his name or sketching a cheeky doodle — as is the norm in the sport — the world No. 7 penned a serious message for all to see: "No war please."Read Full StoryMonuments around the world are lighting up in blue and yellow in support of UkraineSt Georges Hall in Liverpool is lit up in yellow and blue in an expression of solidarity with Ukraine following Russia's invasion.Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty ImagesMonuments around the world are lit up in Ukrainian flag colors following Russia's invasion.Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and Rome's Colosseum, among other landmarks, displayed blue and yellow lights.Read Full StoryUkraine praises marine for sacrificing his life to blow up bridge to try to choke off Russian tanksSkakun Vitaliy Volodymyrovich.General Staff of the Armed Forces of UkraineOfficials in Ukraine praised a marine for sacrificing his life to blow up a bridge to try to stop Russian tanks from advancing.Vitaliy Skakun Volodymyrovych was positioned at the Henichesk bridge in the Kherson region during a standoff with Russian forces, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a Friday statement.In an effort to fight off advancing Russian tanks, Ukrainian forces decided to blow up the bridge, the statement said."According to his brothers in arms, Vitaly got in touch [with them] and said he was going to blow up the bridge," the statement said. "Immediately after, an explosion rang out."Volodymyrovych died immediately, the statement said.Read Full StoryOrdinary Ukrainian citizens are taking up arms to fend off Russian forces as they close in on KyivResidents attend an open training organised for civilians by war veterans and volunteers who teach the basic weapons handling and first aid on one of Kyiv's city beachesGenya Savilov/AFP via Getty ImagesOrdinary citizens all over Kyiv are taking up arms in the fight against Russian forces as they close in on the capital city following two days of heavy attacks and hundreds of casualties.As Russian forces started making their way toward Kyiv, the Ukrainian government called on all citizens and "patriots" to take up arms in defense of the country, saying that only an ID was required and adding, "We give weapons to all patriots!""We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a tweet. "Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities."Read Full StoryRussian state media denies its military attacked Kyiv and claims Ukraine shot down its own plane thereDamage to a building in Kyiv Ukraine, on the morning of February 25, 2022. Russia insisted it was not attacking the city.Pierre Crom/Getty ImagesOn Thursday and into Friday it was clear to most people around the world that Russia had invaded Ukraine, and moved quickly to attack its capital, Kyiv.But those receiving their news from Russia's vast array of state media outlets were given no sense of this, according to a review by Insider and other monitors.A selection of stories from the front pages of major Russian outlets in the early afternoon of Friday, the second day of hostilities around Kyiv, show the news the Russian state is promoting. They had a common theme: Russia is winning, Ukraine is planning atrocities, and there are no Russian attacks on Kyiv.Read Full StoryPeople in Kyiv describe bombardment on night 2 of invasion as Russia closes in on the capitalA building hit by a missile in Kyiv, Ukraine, seen on February 25, 2022.Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesKyiv was rocked by shelling for the second straight day on Friday morning, with Russian forces entering the outskirts of the capital by the afternoon.Speaking from Kyiv by phone on Friday, five residents told Insider of multiple explosions overnight, interspersed with air raid sirens directing people to find safety in bunkers. Alisa Obraztsova, 25, said she was rocked away by explosions at 4:20 a.m."I slept in the guest room in my apartment because I could hear the sirens from that room better," she said. Oleksii, a Kyiv resident who asked to be identified only by his first name, told Insider he was also startled awake by bombs."I woke up at around 4 a.m. because there was a massive explosion," he said. "I looked out the window, everything was a bright orange, everything was getting brighter."Read Full StoryPutin falsely describes Ukraine's government as a 'band of drug addicts and neo-Nazis' in latest propaganda blitz as Russian troops fight to take KyivRussia's President Vladimir Putin meets with members of the Delovaya Rossiya [Business Russia] All-Russian Public Organization at Moscow's Kremlin.Photo by Alexei NikolskybackslashTASS via Getty ImagesRussian President Vladimir Putin falsely described Ukraine's government as a "band of drug addicts and neo-Nazis" in a television appearance on Friday.In the speech, Putin also said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's government "lodged itself in Kyiv and taken hostage the entire Ukrainian people," according to a translation from New York Times Moscow bureau chief Anton Troianovski and The Guardian.Read Full StoryZelensky told European leaders, "This might be the last time you see me alive," report saysPresident of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a press conference in regard of Russia's attack on Ukraine in Kiev, Ukraine on February 24, 2022.Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday told European leaders on a conference call that it "might be the last time you see me alive" as the Russian military pushes ahead with its offensive in his country. Zelensky on Thursday said in a video address he would remain in Kyiv and would keep his family in Ukraine.Zelensky added that "the enemy marked me as the number one target," with his family being number two.Read Full StoryZelensky asks Putin to 'sit down at the negotiating table' to 'stop the dying' as Russian forces strike KyivUkraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a press conference on Russia's military operation in Ukraine, on February 25, 2022 in Kyiv.Photo by Presidency of Ukraine/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for negotiations to "stop the dying" as Russian forces strike the country's capital city of Kyiv."Let us sit down at the negotiating table in order to stop the dying," he said in a video address on Friday, according to a translation from The New York Times.Zelensky added: "I want to turn again to the president of the Russian Federation... Fighting is taking place across the entire territory of Ukraine."Read Full StoryMap shows Russian troop movement in Ukraine on Friday!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytFeb 26th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022