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Today — 22 October 2021ZeroHedge News

"No Jab, No Job" - Aussie Supermarkets Demands 300K Workers Must Get Vaccinated Or Find Work Elsewhere

22 October 2021 at 15:00
"No Jab, No Job" - Aussie Supermarkets Demands 300K Workers Must Get Vaccinated Or Find Work Elsewhere

As Australia continues to ease COVID restrictions, three major supermarket chains in the country are preparing to adopt a vaccine mandate that will effectively force 300K workers from across Australia to either get vaccinated, or quit, in accordance with the "no jab, no job" doctrine.

According to the Financial Review, Australia's most widely read financial journal, Woolworth's is leading the charge to impose vaccination mandates on workers across Australia's supermarket sector. So far, rivals Cole's and Aldi have already joined in with their own commitments.

However, even as the mandate is imposed on workers, unvaccinated customers will, of course, still be welcome in all of these stores, since the management and Aussie government have apparently drawn the line at threatening starvation to try and coerce people to accept the jab.

Woolworths' mandate will apply to all staff at its 1,200 retail outlets across its supermarkets and its Big W discount department stores, as well as those working in the group’s large warehousing and distribution centers, and its offices.  Cole's and Aldi have issued similar mandates. Woolworth's added that it intends to make Jan. 31 the deadline for full vaccination requirement in NSW, Victoria, ACT, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania will have a deadline of March 31.

Despite all of Australia's efforts to stamp out COVID, including closing its borders and locking down half the country for most of the winter (summer in the northern hemisphere) - cases have continued to climb, forcing the Australian government to finally relent as the lockdown measures took a massive toll on the country's economy. Technically, Melbourne's lockdown measures have been in place in some form for 245 days, making the lockdown in Australia's second-largest city the longest-lasting lockdown anywhere in the world.

Interestingly, other Aussie grocery chains have decided on a different tack.

Wesfarmers, owner of Kmart, Target and the Bunnings hardware chain, is requiring all new employees to be vaccinated, but unlike its competitors, the company won't make it mandatory for existing employees because. Why? Because, as the company's managing director told the FR, the take-up rate was so high anyway through information sessions, on-site hubs and vaccination-leave arrangements, that coercing its own workers to get the jab simply doesn't make sense.

“I expect we will have a fully vaccinated workforce in the new year," he said.

Enough of them have already gotten, or plan to get, the jab voluntarily. At this point, the leading scientists have finally admitted that the concept of "herd immunity" is now a myth. COVID will most likely be endemic in the human population from here on out.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 18:00

Edward Snowden: "If You Weaken Encryption, People Will Die"

22 October 2021 at 14:40
Edward Snowden: "If You Weaken Encryption, People Will Die"

Authored by Thomas Macaulay via TheNextWeb.com,

Our online privacy faces growing threats. Governments around the world are calling for encryption backdoors that would enable access to personal information.

They argue that encryption protects criminals. But it also protects activists, dissidents, persecuted groups, and ordinary citizens.

Edward Snowden is among the most prominent beneficiaries. The whistleblower’s first messages to journalists were made with encryption. They resulted in revelations that millions of Americans had been under illegal mass surveillance.

“If you weaken encryption, people will die,” said Snowden in a statement.

“This year alone, after the fall of the government of Afghanistan, we saw how crucial encryption is in keeping ordinary people safe.”

Snowden has joined the Global Encryption Coalition to launch a campaign to protect encryption. The group of civil society organizations and tech firms warns that undermining encryption will leave people more vulnerable to crime and surveillance.

“I have seen first-hand how governments can abuse the power they have to access the personal data of innocent people in the name of national security,” said Snowden.

“Weakening encryption would be a colossal mistake that could put thousands of lives at risk.”

End-to-end encryption would make it harder to implement spy programs like the one Snowden exposed — which may be one reason why governments want to circumvent it. It would not be the first time that lawmakers have undermined our privacy in the name of fighting terrorism.

Politicians assert  — with justification — that criminal gangs and paedophiles use encryption. But so do racial justice protestors to avoid police surveillance, LBTQ+ people in countries where their sexual orientation is criminalized, and even some of the politicians who have called for Snowden to be put in jail.

Reporters also rely on encryption to protect their sources.

“Now more than ever, journalists are facing digital threats to their work and safety,” said Lisa Dittmer, advocacy officer for Internet Freedom, Reporters Without Borders.

“Encryption plays a critical role in protecting journalists and their sources, enabling them to share information even in the most dangerous environments.

Yet as the need for encryption grows, so do the efforts to weaken it. Governments from India to Australia are calling for tech companies to build backdoors into their end-to-end encrypted systems. In the UK, new regulation could make service providers criminally liable for the acts of users if law enforcement can’t access their encrypted data.

Their proposals, however, could actually make people more vulnerable. Any encryption backdoor may be a target for criminals. The information they access could threaten both national security and individual privacy.

“Encryption makes us all safer,” said Snowden.

“From families protecting photographs of their kids, to personal healthcare information, encryption keeps our private information private.”

We all have private conversations that we don’t want overhead. Encryption backdoors would give malicious actors another way to access them.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 17:40

Illinois Sheriffs Reject Mayor Lightfoot's Urgent Plea To Cover Police Shortage In Crime-Hit Chicago

22 October 2021 at 14:20
Illinois Sheriffs Reject Mayor Lightfoot's Urgent Plea To Cover Police Shortage In Crime-Hit Chicago

As hundreds of Chicago police are being put on "no-pay leave" over their refusal to submit their personal Covid vaccination status with the city, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot appears to have fewer and fewer allies as she desperately tries to fill the gap of officer shortages due to the vax order. Area county sheriffs are refusing to send additional manpower that's she requesting to urgently cover the gaps, telling her that's it's a problem of the mayor's own making.

"Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot received a rude awakening after multiple sheriffs in nearby jurisdictions refused her request to fill the gap in police manpower after she threatened to fire 3,000 local officers for not complying with the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate," The Washington Examiner reports on the latest developments. "DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick and Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said they've helped Lightfoot in the past, but her latest request is a self-inflicted wound that could have been avoided. They said they would only step in and help the Chicago Police Department if city officers were in distress or under duress."

Sheriff Hain had this to say, echoing recent criticisms of the Chicago police union which has cited terrible communication and heavy-handedness in place of requests for dialogue on the issue: "[The Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System] typically responds to emergency situations where there is no opportunity for planning," Hain said. "This situation to me is much different."

Despite sheriff's offices shutting the door on the mayor's request to cover Chicago PD officer shortages, police continue to reportedly be summoned to headquarters where they are given one last on the spot ultimatum: submit to last week's vaccine status order or be relieved from duty without pay.

So far the city says it's not yet going after street patrol officers, which is obviously on fears of a coming crime wave that will hit an already understaffed notoriously high-crime city.

BBC has complied recent statistics as the standoff over the vax mandate continues:

Chicago, a city of nearly three million people, has seen more than 1,600 sexual assaults, nearly 3,000 shootings and 649 murders this year - a 14% increase over last.

Just as violent crimes have risen, though, thousands of the city's police force may not show up to work.

...Nearly one-third of Chicago's almost 13,000-member police department have so far refused to register their vaccination status, putting them on track for dismissal. Twenty-one have been officially removed from active duty so far, but some officials have warned that the mandate could leave Chicago's police force dangerously depleted.

Adding fuel to the fire of the crisis, President Joe Biden during his CNN Town Hall remarks Thursday night continued pushing his view that emergency responders should be fired for defying local vaccine mandates

Biden just said first responders should be FIRED for refusing the vaccine. Wow.

Watch. pic.twitter.com/L5vSWTrQvA

— Benny (@bennyjohnson) October 22, 2021

The president even appeared to mock those rejecting vaccine mandates on the basis of "freedom"...

"I have the freedom to kill you with my COVID," Biden said, mocking what he sees as the attitude of mandate opponents. "No, I mean, come on, freedom."

Meanwhile the head of Chicago's largest police union, John Catanzara, is still urging officers to hold the line, despite a weekend gag order imposed on him by the city.

Chicago anticop mayor demand union to force vaxing or force firing. Union response: 50% will not comply. She asked sheriff's depts to fill the shortages. Response: no. I won't ask if they're vaccinated so I'm not sending any lololol. https://t.co/glvCu4Kyhd

— Sunshine (@SunshineArt7) October 21, 2021

"It is the city's clear attempt to force officers to 'Chicken Little, the sky is falling' into compliance," he's recently urged the union's 11,000 members. "Do not fall for it. Hold the line."

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 17:20

Biden's China Ambassador Pick Says Beijing Is "Greatest Threat" To US & The "Democratic World"

22 October 2021 at 14:00
Biden's China Ambassador Pick Says Beijing Is "Greatest Threat" To US & The "Democratic World"

Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,

President Biden’s nominee to be the new US ambassador to China slammed Beijing in a confirmation hearing Wednesday and claimed the Asian country is the "greatest threat" facing the US. "China’s the greatest threat to the security of our country. And the democratic world," Nicholas Burns, a former ambassador to NATO, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The main topic of the hearing was Taiwan, and Burns called for more US support for the island. "The most important thing the US can do is to deepen our security cooperation, to expand our arms provisions to Taiwan," he said. "Our responsibility is to make Taiwan a tough nut to crack."

Former diplomat to NATO Nicholas Burns, Getty Images

Burns said the US has an advantage over China because Washington has more allies than Beijing. "China is not an Olympian power," Burns said. "They have enormous strengths — and very few friends. They have no real allies."

He additionally described China's tactics across the region and with US allies in Asia and across the world as follows:

He accused the Chinese government of being "an aggressor against India along their long Himalayan border, against Vietnam, the Philippines and others in the South China Sea, against Japan, in the East China Sea".

"Beijing has launched an intimidation campaign against Australia, and even more recently Lithuania," he said. "The PRC’s genocide in Xinjiang, its abuses in Tibet, its smothering of Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms and its bullying of Taiwan are unjust and must stop."

Rallying allies against China is a key part of the Biden administration’s strategy against Beijing. "Think of the strategic advantage we have with our 29 allies in Canada, the Europeans and NATO, and our multiple treaty allies in the Indo-Pacific. It is our comparative advantage," he said.

China on Thursday “firmly rejected” US ambassador nominee Nicholas Burns’ tough comments on Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, saying his remarks show a cold war and zero-sum mentality.

(@spatranobis reports)https://t.co/wN4ryjQuz6

— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) October 21, 2021

Beijing recently deployed a new ambassador to Washington who sounds much more diplomatic than Burns. Since taking his post in July, Ambassador Qin Gang has been critical of the US's confrontational approach, but his overall message is one for better relations.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 17:00

"Bullsh*t", "Dammit", "F**k"- Biden Reportedly Swears Like A Sailor Behind Closed Doors

22 October 2021 at 13:40
"Bullsh*t", "Dammit", "F**k"- Biden Reportedly Swears Like A Sailor Behind Closed Doors

Apparently, the bitter internecine political dogfight over President Biden's "Build Back Better" economic agenda has transformed the septuagenarian president into a bit of a potty mouth.

In a story that - according to the Politico reporter who wrote it - was intended to be "light hearted", Politico reveals that Biden has been doing quite a lot of swearing during the negotiations. While he has often shown restraint in public (although there have been a few notable incidents where he almost lost his cool), behind closed doors the committed life-long Catholic gets pretty profane.

Members of his staff who spoke to Politico said the president's angry rants can be endearing - so long as you're not the one Biden's ranting about.

Behind closed doors, the former Catholic school boy is quite profane, according to several current and former aides.

"When he gets going he definitely gets going," said one White House official.

In meetings with aides, Biden’s vulgarities include but are not limited too: “Fuck them,” “What the fuck are we doing?” “Why the fuck isn’t this happening?" "bullshit," "dammit," or just simply: "fuck," according to several current and former aides.

When pushing aides for better answers, he will sometimes say, "don't bullshit a bullshitter."

Some say they find Biden’s foul mouth endearing - a part of his everyman appeal that made him president. One former aide noted that’s true just as long as you’re not on the receiving end of it.

To be sure, one source added that when Biden curses around women "he always apologizes".

Humorously, Politico notes that Biden isn't the first Democratic president to use salty language in the Oval Office. Turns out, Lyndon B Johnson apparently had a penchant for profanity that would surface from time to time.

When it comes to Biden's vice president, Kamala Harris (you know, the woman who's really running the country), she has already confirmed during an interview that her favorite curse word is "'motherf**k-ah," [emphasis on the ahhhhh].

Answered 20 of @nowthisnews' most pressing questions — including my tendency to be a back seat driver.pic.twitter.com/NEWnhtXMcz

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 10, 2019

As we mentioned above, the Politico reporter who wrote the story insisted it was meant to be light-hearted.

Also, guys, this isn't supposed to be that serious or a hit piece! It's just a fun look inside the White House from a daily newsletter. Reporters swear like sailors 😅

— Emma Loop (@LoopEmma) October 21, 2021

But that didn't stop President Biden's loyal defenders in the press - including a certain NYT reporter - to rush to his defense.

This is shocking behavior (this is not shocking behavior from any president) https://t.co/s4M63iDEBm

— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 21, 2021

At the end of the day, its no surprise that Biden's been swearing a lot lately. After all, he's had a lot to swear about.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 16:40

A Big 'Thank You' From The Global Oligarchy

22 October 2021 at 13:20
A Big 'Thank You' From The Global Oligarchy

Authored by Rob Slane via TheBlogMire.com,

Dear People,

We are now almost two years into our great transition, and although there’s still a very long way to go, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your help in allowing the project to run so smooth thus far, and to encourage you to allow us to continue making progress.

We must begin by saying how very pleased we have been by the levels of restraint shown. Given the nature of the plan, we naturally factored in the potential for high levels of civil unrest, but we have been surprised — pleasantly surprised it must be said — by the general absence of turmoil. Yes, there have been a few outbreaks of late, and they have meant we needed to take appropriate steps — for the good of humanity — to ensure that such disquiet is not broadcast around the world. But by and large you have got on with your thing — whatever things it is that you do — which has allowed us to get on with the important business of the day, largely unhindered and with extraordinarily little fuss.

Even more pleasing than the restraint, however, has been the exceptional levels of compliance and acceptance of restrictions which — speaking candidly — we had some reason to doubt we’d be able to pull off, such were their nature. Indeed, when we ordered your governments to implement the mass quarantining of millions of healthy people for the first time in history; the wearing of bits of cloth over your faces; and the entire human race to be injected with a new technology gene therapy which had never even been used in a vaccine, nor had any long-term safety trials, there was a real possibility that you’d smell a rat and simply refuse to comply. But thanks to our colleagues in the behavioural science teams across the world, and to you for so placidly and willingly going along with their messaging, it has all gone off far smoother than we could ever have imagined.

Of course, this has not been true of all of you. There have indeed been some misguided attempts to push back against our important agenda, and this might have been problematic had such troublemakers been given a platform. However, given the nature of our position and status, it was of course little trouble for us to silence the most egregious violators, denying them the ability to air their views, which most of you will hopefully agree was justified in the interests of serving the good of humanity. As for the more bog standard offenders, most of this was taken care of by the majority of you, who helpfully took up the cause on our behalf, refusing to listen to these “conspiracy theorists” and “anti-vaxxers”, and hearteningly taking all your news and views from our official and trusted media outlets.

This is not without irony, however. Though it has been an important part of our plan that so many of you use our pejorative labels to describe those who claim the last two years has been about something other than the official narrative we have set out, the truth is that throughout the transition we’ve been at pains to be as open and honest with you about our plans as we were able. Very little has been done in secret. From the outset, and long before anyone had so much as a needle in their arm, Bill was telling you that the plan was to jab every human on the planet. Then of course Klaus made it clear that this was a one-off window of opportunity to reset everything in the way we’ve been hoping to do for many years. He even kindly went on to drop a few more clues when he talked about your future being a fusion of your digital, physical, and biological selves. Klaus’s marketing team even put out that thing about you owning nothing but being happy. Of course the bit about being happy was added as a bit of light-hearted banter, but the point is this: we’ve been entirely open about our plans, and nobody can say they weren’t told.

Nowhere has this been seen more clearly than when we got the whole crew across the globe using the same phrase — Build Back Better. And so it has been a genuine source of amusement for us that when people have pointed to all this as evidence of some sort of agenda to destroy the existing socioeconomic order and replace it with a Transhumanist Technocracy replete with a Social Credit ID System, they have been scoffed at and called Tinfoil Hat Wearing Nutjobs, as if they’d based their opinion on the Conspiracist’s Gazette, rather than the World Economic Forum or Bank of International Settlements. Most amusing!

As we look to the future, however, we must ask that you continue to be patient. A transition of this size and scope clearly cannot be done overnight, and there are lots of moving parts which will need to run in some form or other for a number of years. Thankfully, years of mass priming on the climate stuff should take care of that. We will of course require that every one of you take all the Covid booster shots offered to you over the coming years, and whilst our hope is that you will avail yourselves of this important part of our plans without the need for coercion, I’m sure most of you will agree that those who refuse or resist - the Anti-Vaxxers - will only have themselves to blame when we are forced to deny them access to all the basic essentials of life, since the good of humanity is at stake, is it not?

We would also ask that you spare a thought for us. Although the last couple of years has gone far more smoothly than we could ever have imagined, it has nonetheless been a stressful time planning each next move and wondering whether the majority might start asking awkward questions and taking steps to thwart the agenda we have committed the planet to. Many sleeplessness nights have been had. Many a day of uncertainty. As has been observed of the movers and shakers of the world down the ages, “ours is a high and lonely destiny”. But we press on, as we must. For the good of humanity.

Best wishes,

The Global Oligarchy

P.S. Those who read this and conclude that we really are attempting the most audacious reordering of the world that has ever been seen, remember: that’s just nothing but a Conspiracy Theory. Stay safe!

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 16:20

Hawkish Powell Hits Stocks; Bitcoin Flat As Breakevens, Bond Yields & Bullion Bounce

22 October 2021 at 13:01
Hawkish Powell Hits Stocks; Bitcoin Flat As Breakevens, Bond Yields & Bullion Bounce

A very mixed week across the asset-classes.

Hawkish Powell: rate-hike expectations surged higher but stocks gained, crude rallied but copper tumbled. Growth and Value stocks basically ended the week up around the same amount (while Cyclicals modestly outperformed Defensives). Perhaps most notably, rates vol and stock vol expectations are dramatically decoupled from one another.

Inflation: Breakevens soared to record highs... globally, bullion bounced but bitcoin ended the week unchanged and bonds only modestly higher in yield.

Source: Bloomberg

We do not that the long-end of the curve notably outperformed today (flattening the curve significantly) after Powell's comments, in a clear signal from the market that it's expecting a Policy error...

Source: Bloomberg

Arguably, as Goldman details below, the market could be morphing back from a 'stagflation' narrative to a 'reflation' narrative...

Heading into the week, the ‘stagflation’ narrative was continuing despite the fact that the S&P 500 had already bounced off of its late-September bottom and was heading back towards an all-time high.  And as we exit the week, the inflation debate seems to be evolving into a ‘the Fed will hike earlier’ narrative, with yields on 2-year Notes spiking to 0.50% — a level last seen in the first days of the pandemic way back on March 18, 2020.  Praveen Korapaty writes in last Friday’s note, “Front-end pressures mount,” that markets appear to have returned to a paradigm of simultaneously bringing forward and/or accelerating hike pricing and taking down terminal rate assumptions. Bond investors appear to be increasingly thinking that the rise in inflation that we have been observing will translate into an earlier Fed funds rate hike.

And yields on 10-year Treasuries also briefly touched 1.70% this week, suggesting that bond investors are actually also feeling fine about longer-term growth.  And this better feeling is also being reflected in stock prices with the S&P 500 breaking up above 4500 and hitting a new all-time high this week.  So, the ‘stagflation’ narrative seems to be morphing back into a ‘reflation’ narrative — something similar to what we were experiencing when the economy first ‘reopened’ last spring.

Digging into each asset class, stocks ended the week higher overall (despite today's Powell-driven dip that sent Nasdaq down around 1% today)...

The S&P and Dow closed at record weekly closing highs...

In Canada, the S&P/TSX Composite is up 13 straight days to a new record high - the longest winning streak since 1985...

Source: Bloomberg

Rather interestingly, this week saw "get out and party" recovery stocks underperform the "stay at home and sulk" stocks...

Source: Bloomberg

Cyclicals modestly outperformed Defensives on the week...

Source: Bloomberg

Growth barely outperformed Value on the week...

Source: Bloomberg

TSLA topped FB in terms of market cap again today (to become the 5th biggest company in the S&P) as Musk's carmaker surged to new record highs above $900...

Source: Bloomberg

But the week's biggest gainer was Trump's "TRUTH" SPAC which ended up over 800% (though at one point it was up over 1600%)...

Source: Bloomberg

VIX traded down to a 14 handle this morning - the lowest since before the pandemic lockdowns began...

Treasury yields ended the week higher, but the long-end notably outperformed...

Source: Bloomberg

The yield curve ended the week notably flatter (after a wild ride midweek back to last week's highs)...

Source: Bloomberg

Policy Error? The flattening started with the June taper chatter...

Source: Bloomberg

Inflation Breakevens soared to record highs today (US 5Y topped 3.0%) across the globe today...

Source: Bloomberg

The dollar ended the week lower, chopping around at one-month-lows...

Source: Bloomberg

Cryptos had a wild ride for the week with Bitcoin reaching new record highs after BITO's launch before fading back to unchanged on the week today (Ethereum modestly outperformed on the week)...

Source: Bloomberg

Bitcoin ended the week just above $60k, well off the $67k record high...

Source: Bloomberg

The newly launched Bitcoin (futures) ETF (BITO) ended below its opening level...

Bitcoin Futures were well bid as BITO launched but the premium over spot has faded since...

Source: Bloomberg

Commodities were very mixed with copper clubbed and silver soaring (gold and crude also rallied)...

Source: Bloomberg

Rather interestingly, the huge divergence between copper and silver occurred at a key resistance level (around 20 ounces of silver to buy copper)

Source: Bloomberg

Finally, we note Mizuho's warning of the impact of today's more hawkish speech from Fed chair Powell. Our view that the divergence of equity implied vol (at pre-pandemic lows) from rates implied vol (rising to the highs of the year in most markets) is unsustainable, is showing tentative signs of turning.

Source: Bloomberg

The sharp move lower in Nasdaq futures and widening of CDS indices is a warning shot, we feel, of how risk assets would break down if the Fed was to try to stamp out inflation at such an early point in the cycle as mid 2022.

Commodities relative to stocks are starting to flash some red alerts...

Regime Change

The recent commodity outperformance vs. the Nasdaq (9% in 8 days) is one of the most significant stretches in twelve years. On par with readings in 2008 and the dot-com bubble. pic.twitter.com/nNm1rUsuNT

— The Bear Traps Report (@BearTrapsReport) October 5, 2021

And if one needed an excuse to buy some protection against that whiplash reality check for stocks, VIX is at a critically cheap level relative to VXV...

Source: Bloomberg

That has not tended to end well for stocks.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 16:01

Watch: Marine Vet Single-Handedly Disarms Gun-Wielding Robber In Seconds 

22 October 2021 at 12:23
Watch: Marine Vet Single-Handedly Disarms Gun-Wielding Robber In Seconds 

"Don't mess with Marines"...

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran was standing in a gas station on Wednesday when he single-handedly disarmed a robber. 

The Yuma County Sheriff's Office said the incident happened around 0430 local time at a Chevron gas station in Yuma County, Arizona. 

Sheriffs posted a video on Facebook of the stunning firearm disarmament by the combat veteran who was able to take control of the situation in a matter of seconds. The video shows the veteran was well aware of his surroundings when the gun-wielding juvenile attempted to rob the store. 

Deputies asked the veteran how he was able to disarm the suspect so quickly. He stated, "The Marine Corps taught me not to [mess] around." 

No injuries were reported, and sheriffs didn't release the name of the former Marine.

Marines and other service members are taught firearm disarming techniques. Here are a few steps via an old US Army training manual of how to take down an armed attacker. 

The most crucial part is that the former Marine was well aware of his surroundings and had proper training. If this was anyone else, the situation could've turned very ugly. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 15:23

Lies, Lies, Lies!

22 October 2021 at 12:00
Lies, Lies, Lies!

Authored by James Rickards via DailyReckoning.com,

Politicians may be morons when it comes to public policy, but they’re geniuses when it comes to inventing new ways to control your life and steal your money.

Tax increases seem old-fashioned compared with new 21st-century ways to take over the financial system to your detriment and make you pay for their pet projects. Take climate, for example…

We’re all familiar with how climate alarm has been used to dictate changes in transportation, energy generation and construction codes. Of course, these efforts have been massive failures, as witnessed by the ongoing supply chain disruptions and energy shortages.

Large parts of Europe, Japan and China may freeze in the dark this winter thanks to efforts to close down nuclear and natural gas-fired electricity generation. The U.S. will be only slightly better off. We won’t freeze in the dark, but we will face much higher prices for home heating and gas at the pump.

The irony is that the U.S. will burn 23% more coal this year because of the shutdowns in nuclear and natural gas and the inability of wind turbines and solar to make up the difference. Nice job by the climate alarmists!

Will they be held to account? Will they see the error of their ways and abandon their delusions? Don’t hold your breath for either. They’ll only dig in harder.

Climate Alarmism Influencing Financial Decisions

Now the elites have a new way to use climate alarm to their advantage. They will use their existing control of the banks to force their climate agenda by dictating how banks lend and how you are allowed to spend.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be required to factor climate alarm into decisions on federally insured or guaranteed mortgages. The Labor Department will evaluate retirement plan managers, including 401(k) and IRA advisers, based on how they factor climate alarm into their investment decisions.

Banks will be told they cannot lend to the oil and natural gas sectors (or will face higher capital charges if they do). Risk managers at institutional investment funds and hedge funds will be required to include climate alarm models in their portfolio allocation decisions.

At a more granular level, you might be denied a line of credit or business loan if your activities do not conform to those deemed acceptable by the climate alarm crowd.

The bottom line is climate alarm is no longer limited to discussions about the power grid and electricity generation. The elites are coming for your 401(k)s, IRAs and bank accounts if you don’t conform to their deluded climate wish list.

We all end up paying for the lies of these elites through higher taxes, damaging regulations and massive economic pain. Just look at the COVID pandemic…

A Long List of Lies

The public policy response to the pandemic has been one long list of lies.

In January 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci said there was little danger of the coronavirus making its way to the United States. In March 2020, Fauci said Americans should not wear masks. Later in the pandemic, Fauci said Americans should wear masks and later said they should wear two masks.

He was then photographed in public not wearing a mask. Off the record, he has said privately that masks don’t work (which is true). But it gets worse.

They told us to lock down for two weeks to “stop the spread.” Two weeks turned into six months or more. And lockdowns didn’t stop the spread, as multiple studies have demonstrated. They only succeeded at destroying economies and driving people into despair.

The public was then led to believe that the vaccines would stop the spread of the virus. Get your jab and you’ll be free, they said. But then they told you that you needed a second shot. Now they want you to take a third (a booster).

Oh, and sorry, you still need to wear a mask in many places even if you’ve been fully vaccinated.

Vaccines do reduce severe symptoms and deaths (at least for a few months), but they don’t stop the spread. In fact, the vaccinated can become super-spreaders because they can build up large viral loads of the infection without being symptomatic themselves.

Fauci and other public health officials have claimed that the most recent wave is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” That’s another lie, based on highly misleading statistics.

Damned Lying Statistics

They were including the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths going back to February, when the majority of Americans were not yet vaccinated. Of course most of the hospitalizations and deaths were among the unvaccinated since only a small percentage had been vaccinated by that point.

To give a more accurate picture, they would have only used data taken after the majority of people had been vaccinated. If they had done that, the numbers would have looked far different.

In Vermont, nearly 90% of the state is vaccinated. But hospitalizations are soaring.

Overseas, data from the British government shows that the infection rate among fully vaccinated people in their 40s was 100% higher than among the unvaccinated.

The Irish counties of Waterford and Carlow, where 99.7% and 98% (respectively) of all adults are vaccinated, cases are exploding. They’re seeing the greatest case load since March.

In Taiwan, evidence indicates more people are dying from the vaccine than from COVID.

COVID cases have also exploded in Israel, which boasts some of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

The European Journal of Epidemiology finds that increases in COVID cases are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2,947 counties in the U.S.

One Yale University researcher has even argued that the vaccinated represent a real threat to the unvaccinated, rather than the other way around.

Social Media Liars

Meanwhile, the major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter amplified the official lies by deplatforming voices who challenged the lies or offered valuable information that was at odds with official propaganda.

For example, early in the pandemic when developed economies were suffering badly, many experts said that developing countries in Africa would be devastated by the disease because their public health facilities were deficient compared to ours. That never happened, because Africans routinely use hydroxychloroquine to prevent malaria.

It turns out that hydroxychloroquine has powerful prophylactic properties for reducing the effects of COVID. If you even mentioned hydroxychloroquine on Twitter or Facebook, your account would be shut down for spreading “misinformation” when in fact you were sending highly valuable information.

Of all the official lies, the worst may have been the discussion of ivermectin. This is a drug that has been in safe use for a long time. It comes in many forms, including for human consumption and a variation used in veterinary medicine.

How Many People Have Lies and Propaganda Killed?

Many individuals have reported favorable results in the treatment of COVID using ivermectin. The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh practically eliminated a severe COVID outbreak by using ivermectin on a broad scale.

Still, in their obsession to force vaccinations with gene-modification therapies (mRNA) from Moderna and Pfizer, the government and mainstream media have trashed ivermectin as a “horse dewormer” and something used only by veterinarians.

This type of lying and propaganda has cost many lives, maybe hundreds of thousands.

The comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan had the opportunity to call out these lies from Big Media. Rogan told CNN’s medical expert Sanjay Gupta, “They’re lying at your network about people taking human drugs versus drugs for veterinary…”

Rogan went on to say, “It’s a lie on a news network… and that’s a lie that they’re conscious of. It’s not a mistake.”

Gupta even admitted it.

Think for Yourself

Rogan’s attack on media lies is commendable. This is more than a policy debate. The media lies cost lives. The entire episode is a good reminder that when the next pandemic or natural disaster strikes, you should think for yourself and use common sense.

Don’t rely on government and media lies. These days, you just can’t trust them when it comes to topics like climate and vaccinations.

Unfortunately, we’re the ones suffering the consequences of their lies.

Investmentwise, it’s a good idea to move at least part of your net worth out of mainstream investment vehicles and into asset classes that are more difficult for regulators to reach such as physical gold, silver and land.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 15:00

Poor Americans' Credit Card Usage Spikes As Their Savings Run Out

22 October 2021 at 11:40
Poor Americans' Credit Card Usage Spikes As Their Savings Run Out

Last week we explained why the widely propagated myth that there is north of $2 trillion in "excess cash" savings spread evenly across the US population courtesy of Biden's trillions, was nothing but a fake pipe dream: as we showed then when looking at cash holdings (checkable deposits and currency) from 1Q20-1Q21 across the income distribution, 65% of excess cash (cash accumulated above the 4Q19 level) is held among the top 20%, while just 35% was spread across the entire bottom 80% (the top 80% holds ~$1.4tn in excess savings and bottom 80% holds ~$800bn).

And in light of the recent feverish pace of consumer spending among the bottom 80%, we also said that much if not all of these cash savings had been spent.

Overnight, Bank of America indirectly confirmed this.

When looking at its latest debt and credit cars spending data, BofA chief economist Michelle Meyer observed that spending on credit cards among the lower income cohort has spiked with a 23% growth rate over a 2-year period, up from the summer average of 15%

And, obviously, with consumers ramping up their charging it means that their bank accounts (where those mythical excess savings would be found) this surge in credit card spending has come at the expense of debit card spending growth which has slowed notably over the last several weeks.

According to Bank of America, this growing reliance on credit cards reflects "the loss of income support from the expiration of unemployment benefits (UI) which has disproportionally impacted the lower income population." Indeed, UI recipients in the lower income cohort reduced spending meaningfully, with the 2-year growth rate falling to 11% from 31% prior to the expiration in early Sept

And while it may not be directly linked to consumers savings running out, BofA also highlights another curious observation, one we touched upon last week: as the chart below shows, there has been a growing divide between spending trends across the country. Among the strongest is Florida where total card spending is up around 25% over a 2-year period. This contrasts with CA and NY, for example, with growth of 20% and 18%, respectively, over a 2-year period for total card spending.

BofA sees a particularly significant gap between NY and FL when it comes to spending on entertainment services or restaurants/bars. For example, in NY spending on restaurants and bars is up 14% over a 2-year period and down 8% for entertainment. But in FL, the jump is 24% and 25% 2-year growth, respectively, for restaurants/bars and entertainment services.

The gap started with the Labor Day holiday which aligned with the peak in COVID cases nationally. This is the direct result of Florida having some of the fewest restrictions due to covid among all states, which not only has led the state to see a dramatic plunge in covid cases as natural immunity has surged...

Hospitalizations in Florida are down 81% in the past month and a half with no new policy interventions, no vaccine passports and no mask mandates, proving once again that the only way to bring the numbers down is to do new policy interventions, vaccine passports and mask mandates pic.twitter.com/1Yj5mJDB6v

— IM (@ianmSC) October 14, 2021

... but also to a healthy boost for the local economy, while at the same time paranoid New York snowflakes refuse to step out over mortal terror that the Chinese virus just can't wait to penetrate their 3 mask layers and to kill them all.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 14:40

AG Garland Gaffes: Missed Leftist 'Insurrection', Admits Unions Steer Policy, Shrugs Off CRT Conflicts

22 October 2021 at 11:20
AG Garland Gaffes: Missed Leftist 'Insurrection', Admits Unions Steer Policy, Shrugs Off CRT Conflicts

Attorney General Merrick Garland had a bad time on Thursday during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

For starters, while the Biden administration, Congressional Democrats and their media support complex have branded January 6th rioters as domestic terrorists - Garland had no clue about leftist Demonstrators who forced their way into the Department of the Interior just one week ago - to protest Biden's approval of fossil fuel energy projects.

"They forced their way into the Department of the Interior. They fought with security and police officers, sending some of those officers to the hospital. The extremists violently pushed their way into a restricted government building in an attempt to thwart the work of the department," Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) told Garland. "Police arrested at least 55 protestors on sight, but others got away. Mr. Garland, do you believe these environmental extremists who forced their way into Interior are also domestic terrorists?"

Garland appeared to have no clue what Steube was talking about.

"This is the first you’ve heard about demonstrators who forced their way into a federal government building right here in D.C.?” Steube asked. “You didn’t hear about this at all?" asked Steube.

To which Garland shot back: "Just because I don’t know about this particular example, it doesn’t mean the Justice Department doesn’t know about it."

.@RepGregSteube: "Would you call both of these acts domestic terrorism?"

GARLAND: "I'm not going to comment about particular matters."

STEUBE: "You're refusing to call [Left-wing] groups...who commit the same atrocities...domestic terrorists." pic.twitter.com/M2TZNmlroz

— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) October 21, 2021

Not an insurrection?

During the hearing, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asked if any defendants in the Jan. 6 riot had been charged with 'insurrection' - the Democrats' favorite phrase to describe the event.

Rep. @LouieGohmertTX1: "Has any defendant involved in the January 6th events been charged with insurrection?"

AG GARLAND: "I don't believe so."

GOHMERT: "Well that is the word most used by Democrats here on Capitol Hill." pic.twitter.com/pWIWtJKg7U

— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) October 21, 2021

Demonizing parents based on a letter?

Next, Garland admitted that his memo directing the FBI to investigate parents who pose "threats" to school boards was based in part on a letter from the National School Boards Association - as opposed to any actual evidence.

"When did you first review the data showing this so-called disturbing uptick?" Rep. Jim Jordan asked Garland.

"I read the letter, and we have been seeing over time—" replied Garland, before Jordan cut in.

"So you read the letter? That’s your source?” Jordan asked incredulously. “Is there some study, some effort, some investigation someone did that, said there’s been a disturbing uptick, or you just take the words of the National School Board Association?"

To which Garland only dug himself in deeper - adding 'newspaper reports' to his body of evidence used to demonize angry parents.

"Well, the National School Board Association, which represents thousands of school boards and school board members, says that there are these kinds of threats. When we read in the newspapers reports of threats of violence—" he said, before Jordan interjected (via The Federalist).

"The source for this … was the National School Boards Association letter..."

Biden AG Merrick Garland concedes that he started targeting parents for "possible domestic terrorism" because the NSBA sent a letter. pic.twitter.com/ZDvhZ6vDzO

— The First (@TheFirstonTV) October 21, 2021

As The Federalist notes:

The NSBA sent a letter to the Biden administration last month begging federal law enforcement to use domestic terrorism laws to target parents who oppose anti-science mask mandates for children and the infiltration of racist curriculum in schools. The school board organization claimed federal action was warranted to “deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.”

Most of the incident examples the NSBA used to justify intervention by the Biden administration did not escalate to a level that even yielded arrests or charges on the local level, yet Garland quickly directed the FBI and state attorneys to address “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”

Conflicts of interest?

Speaking of going after parents opposed to Critical Race Theory - Garland denied that his memo directing the FBI to investigate 'threats' poses a conflict of interest, given that his son-in-law co-founded a company that sells CRT materials to schools. The company, Panorama Education, provides "Social-Emotional Learning" which includes race-focused surveys, materials on systemic oppression, white supremacy, intersectionality and unconscious bias.

When Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) asked Garland if he had run the relationship through an ethics counsel, Garland repeatedly said "There are no conflicts of interest."

"You don’t get to make that decision…Your impartiality is being called into question. Why would you not submit to an ethics review?" Johnson shot back.

Watch:

Attorney General Merrick Garland's son-in-law is the co-founder of a company that promotes critical race theory.

Garland directed DOJ to investigate parents protesting CRT at school board meetings.

Conflict of interest? Garland refuses to answer! pic.twitter.com/VbbOL0twcR

— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) October 21, 2021

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 14:20

NIH Scrubs 'Gain-Of-Function' Definition From Website After Wuhan Bombshells, Rand Paul Vindicated

22 October 2021 at 11:06
NIH Scrubs 'Gain-Of-Function' Definition From Website After Wuhan Bombshells, Rand Paul Vindicated

Update (1400ET): The situation is becoming even more tenuous for Dr. Fauci as the day wears on. In a detailed tweet thread released this afternoon, Jeremy Redfern exposes the NIH - run by Fauci - for changing the definition of "gain of function" in the last few days as this shitstorm of reality struck.

For those that don't know - this is how the NIH defined “gain-of-function” on their website until at least October 19th, 2021. Just 3 days ago...

Source

Now, it looks like this section was deleted, and the page was edited, within the last 2-3 days...

Source

As one Twitter user remarked quite presciently:

This is the problem with trying to argue with someone who can literally change the definitions of words.

— Louis R Nemzer (@BiophysicsFL) October 22, 2021

Senator Paul's tweeted reaction says it all...

Will any of these 'omnipotent' 'scientists' ever be held accountable?

*  *  *

As Summit News' Steve Watson detailed earlier, Senator Rand Paul, who was again proven right after the National Institutes of Health admitted it did fund gain of function experiments on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, has blasted Anthony Fauci for lying for a year and a half about research that “could destroy civilization.”

Appearing on Fox News Thursday, Paul urged that Fauci has intentionally “been parsing words” as a way of never admitting that gain of function took place in NIH funded Chinese labs.

“They still to this day are trying to get around the truth,” Paul said, adding “They say ‘well it was unexpected that it gained function’.”

The Senator continued, noting that Fauci’s “declination is this: it’s inadvertent, we didn’t know they were going to gain function. That is what a gain of function experiment is,'” Paul explained.

“You don’t know when you combine two viruses that they will be more deadly, but it might be if you have half a brain you know if you combine two viruses it might be more deadly,” Paul proclaimed.

The Senator also noted that while he has referred Fauci to the Justice Department for investigation, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland is more concerned with targeting “moms complaining about what they are teaching in school.”

Watch:

Earlier Paul had tweeted “I told you so doesn’t even begin to cover it here,” after NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence A. Tabak admitted in a letter to Rep. James Comer (R-KY) that a “limited experiment” was conducted to determine whether “spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model.”

“I told you so” doesn’t even begin to cover it here: https://t.co/9JFn85I24i

— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 21, 2021

See thread at:
https://t.co/SwJtZpix9b

— Richard H. Ebright (@R_H_Ebright) October 20, 2021

Paul also warned that the NIH is still funding the research:

Realize that NIH is still funding Ecohealth collaboration with Wuhan thru 2025. Fauci has publicly stated his support for Continuing US taxpayer funding of Wuhan. https://t.co/Aq7n8JUst0

— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 21, 2021

So, if this type of experiment created a virus that had 50% mortality (like MERS which they have experimented with in Wuhan), that result would be “unknown" before the experiment but not “unexpected.” pic.twitter.com/WmJsjSaCh1

— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 21, 2021

HHS Deputy admits Fauci’s NIH funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan but says it was “an unexpected result.” If the experiment combines unknown viruses and tests their ability to infect and damage humanized cells, of course the result is ‘unknown' before the experiment.

— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 21, 2021

Earlier in the year Fauci had the gall to accuse Senator Paul of being the liar:

“This is a pattern that Senator Paul has been doing now at multiple hearings, based on no reality … I have never lied, certainly not before Congress. Case closed.”

— Dr. Fauci ends back-and-forth with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). pic.twitter.com/WjGjQUFE0d

— The Recount (@therecount) July 20, 2021

In a further interview with ABC News, Paul urged “I’ve been asking my counterparts, Democrats across the aisle, to investigate this. Not for partisan reasons, but because both sides should want to prevent another pandemic from occurring.”

“Right now we have a virus where the whole world has been turned on its head, it has a 1% mortality. Can you imagine if they create something in a lab that has a 15% mortality or 50% mortality?” Paul warned, adding “Some of the viruses they have been experimenting with in Wuhan have 50% mortality.”

The Senator added “This isn’t just about Dr. Fauci lying, this is about trying to make sure that we don’t get an even worse plague or pandemic that comes out of a lab. We do this research in our country, it needs to be looked at.”

Paul further emphasised that Fauci “is the world’s biggest supporter of gain-of-function,” and that “he should accept responsibility and immediately resign and step down from government.”

During a Department of Justice oversight hearing Thursday, Representative Andy Biggs questioned Merrick Garland about Fauci’s lies, noting that they constitute perjury, asking whether Garland would be opening an investigation.

Garland responded “Again, I’ll refer to the long standing departmental norm that we don’t comment about investigations pending or unpending, the general point that you’re making normally  would come with a referral from the relevant committee.”

Watch:

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 14:06

Retailers Lining Store Shelves With Props To "Hide Supply Shortage"

22 October 2021 at 10:55
Retailers Lining Store Shelves With Props To "Hide Supply Shortage"

Americans are waking up to the fact that shortages of everyday products such as ice cream, frozen food, soda, chicken, spices, coffee, fish sticks, snacks, and toilet paper are popping up all over the country as supply chains remain heavily congested 19 months after the virus pandemic first began. Instead of leaving some store shelves bare, which might insight fear and buying panic among consumers, some stores are lining their empty shelves with meaningless items to appear as full as possible. 

A little more than a week ago, hashtag #EmptyShelvesJoe was one of the hottest trends across Twitter but was quickly squashed by Twitter police. People from all over the country went to their local supermarkets and big-box outlets to point out how supply chain snarls have left some store shelves bare. 

Retailers have since panicked, and social media users are now pointing out that some store shelves are lined with single items to "hide the supply shortage." 

Our Safeway appears to be trying to hide the supply shortage by using single lines of products to fill shelves. Leading to this: pic.twitter.com/CDXR67FYRu

— Ashe Short (@AsheSchow) October 21, 2021

A user tweeted a picture of what appears to be single boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese lining multiple shelves. 

One of the most stunning attempts to keep the appearance that everything was fine was when one retailer lined multiple aisles with dozens and dozens of foldable chairs. 

Wtf pic.twitter.com/xYFleLaMl1

— Art TakingBack 🇺🇸 (@ArtValley818_) October 21, 2021

Some on Twitter explained this is just part of the retailers "fronting" merchandise which means they're bringing everything to the front to make the store look as packed as possible. 

What's troubling is that retailers are running out of items, and it's becoming entirely obvious now as congested supply chains may suggest that certain products will not be available in time for the holidays. It's okay if stores run out of PlayStations and Nerf Blasters, but if shelves in food sections start to go bare - this could be very problematic.

Remember what happened in the Soviet Union right before the collapse? 

For now, retailers are creating the appearance that everything is fine so empty store shelves don't spark buying panic that would strain supplies even more. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 13:55

Texas, Missouri AGs Sue Biden Admin To Resume Border Wall Construction

22 October 2021 at 10:32
Texas, Missouri AGs Sue Biden Admin To Resume Border Wall Construction

Authored by Isabel van Brugen via The Epoch Times,

The attorneys general of Texas and Missouri teamed up to sue the Biden administration on Thursday, seeking to resume construction of the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit (pdf) against President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in the U.S. district court in Victoria, challenging the administration for refusing to spend money appropriated to continue construction of the border wall amid a worsening “border crisis.”

They argue that the president’s refusal to use the more than $1.3 billion appropriated for “construction of barrier system along the southwest border” is a violation of the separation of powers and the Take Care clause of the Constitution.

“[It] is arbitrary and capricious, and fails to spend appropriations mandated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 and 2021,” the attorneys general, both Republicans, said in a news release.

Time and again, the Biden administration has refused to take concrete action to quell the worsening border crisis, inviting the cartels and human drug smugglers to take advantage of our porous border,” Schmitt said in a statement. “Without a border wall, illegal immigrants, coyotes, and bad actors can simply march across our southern border and into the interior. The border wall needs to be built, the funds have been appropriated to continue to build the wall, and yet the Biden Administration outright refuses to do so.”

Schmitt noted that the same amount of funds was also appropriated by the FY2021 DHS Appropriations Act.

“The Biden Administration’s flat refusal to use funds that have already been set aside by Congress to build the border wall is not only illegal and unconstitutional. It’s also wrong, and it leaves states like Texas and Missouri footing the bill,” Paxton said in a statement.

He added, ”I will not sit idly by while this Administration wreaks more havoc on our state.”

The Epoch Times has contacted the White House and DHS for comment.

Since taking office in January, Biden has signed dozens of executive orders rescinding President Donald Trump’s policies, including border wall construction and the “remain in Mexico” protocols.

In issuing an order suspending border wall construction—a project that has been long championed by Trump—Biden described it as wasteful and ineffective, although DHS has spent funds on repairing some areas along already-built wall sections.

The Biden administration in recent weeks has faced mounting criticism for its handling of border security and a surge in illegal immigration along the southern border.

Late last month, thousands of illegal aliens of Haitian origin created a makeshift encampment underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. Later, Mayorkas said that about 12,000 of the Haitians were released into the interior United States with pending court dates.

The crisis triggered calls from Republicans and even some Democrats to restart the construction of the border wall, which was a major campaign promise of Trump’s during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Biden’s pick to lead Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Chris Magnus, acknowledged during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the influx of illegal immigration at the southern border is an urgent matter.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 13:32

"No One Can Tell What's Ahead" - Brazil Tumbles Into Bear Market Amid Latest Economic Crisis

22 October 2021 at 10:14
"No One Can Tell What's Ahead" - Brazil Tumbles Into Bear Market Amid Latest Economic Crisis

Brazilian markets and the Brazilian real both extended their recent declines, with the former sliding into a bear market, as investors around the world reacted to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's push to ramp up government spending to a degree that would violate fiscal constraints.

The Brazilian Bovespa index plunged 6% far this week, sending its drop from its June highs to 21%, while the real has is down nearly 10% this week alone.

The reason Brazilian markets are melting down is because after doling out generous public benefits during the early days of the pandemic (just like its far wealthier developed nation peer), Bolsonaro - who was recently accused of "crimes against humanity" by the Brazilian senate - is now pushing to hand out even more benefits to his struggling people, who are (just like in the US) suffering through runaway inflation on top of a lackluster economy battered by COVID, and the trappings of a recession that lasted for years before the pandemic even started.

According to BBG, Bolsonaro's government is pushing to pass a new social program that Bolsonaro has been advocating as he seeks to boost his flagging popularity - which has fallen to record-low levels - before he faces a race for re-election next year. Bolsonaro's plan involves using last year’s inflation to adjust public spending limits, instead of the inflation from the latest 12 month period ended in June, as required under current rules. Not surprisingly, the difference between the two rates is quite huge.

In response to what they reportedly see as feckless and dangerous maneuvering by the president, exacerbated by an unwillingness by Bolsonaro's Finance Minister, Paulo Guedes, four senior economy officials resigned Thursday night, publicly citing personal reasons but privately expressing their fears about Bolsonaro's fiscal plans, and sparking a surge in selling of the Real. According to Bloomberg, Guedes himself plans to stay on, reportedly because he fears his departure would only make a bad situation worse.

The market's concern is that while many Brazilians have been hit hard financially by the pandemic - and certainly could benefit from more government handouts - additional spending on that magnitude risks backfiring by deepening a surge in inflation that would only further decelerate the slowing domestic economy.

Amid the battle over more fiscal stimulus, the people running Brazil's central bank have already been scrambling to get ahead of runaway inflation and bring it back to heel by hiking interest rates this year. Inflation Most expect the Brazilian central bank, led by Roberto Campos Neto, to hike its benchmark rate by by 150 basis points at the upcoming policy meetings next week, with the Selic rate expected to reach 11% by the end of the monetary tightening cycle, as the central bank tries to bring inflation back to its target. Brazil's inflation rate hit double digits earlier this month, something Brazilians haven't seen since...2016.

Fortunately for Brazilians, as we have previously noted, there's a phrase Campos Neto has used many, many times: "we’ll do whatever it takes to tame inflation."

Partly because of this clash between monetary and fiscal policy, "[n]o one can really tell what’s ahead now. For markets, the move we’ve been seeing for the past few months continues -- stocks down, currency down, rates up," said Mariam Dayoub, chief economist at Grimper Capital. "It’s just gotten worse now, and will only stop when we see something that puts a halt on this fiscal erosion."

Meanwhile, there is a growing fear that the Brazilian economy could sink into recession by next year.

Gustavo Pessoa, a founding partner at hedge fund manager Legacy Capital, says Brazil's spending cap is on track to be breached in "the worst possible way," and that the decision could place Latin America's largest economy on track to slide back into recession next year. Before COVID hit, Brazil's economy had only just emerged from a deep recession (note: Legacy recently sold out of its positions in Brazilian fixed income).

As Bolsonaro continues his campaign, and Brazilian assets continue to tumble, we have what to some might seem like a simple solution to this problem. Want to print more money to give to your people? Then just make the real a global reserve currency like the dollar.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 13:14

Supreme Court To Hear Arguments In Texas Abortion Case

22 October 2021 at 10:00
Supreme Court To Hear Arguments In Texas Abortion Case

The US Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will hear arguments over Texas's abortion restrictions, leaving the law in place for now despite dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The court has agreed to an expedited hearing on Nov. 1.

The law, which President Biden called an "assault on women's constitutional rights" last month, bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy - far earlier than the court has previously allowed, according to Bloomberg. It also allows any private citizen to sue Texas abortion providers violating the law - along with anyone who 'aids or abets' a woman who receives an abortion in violation of the law - which can range from doctors to Uber drivers who bring women to clinics, according to the Daily Mail.

Violations are subject to a minimum of $10,000 in damages per banned abortion, to be paid out to the first person to prevail in a lawsuit over the procedure.

"The most precious freedom is life itself. Texas passed a law that ensures that the life of every child with a heartbeat will be spared from the ravages of abortion," Abbott Press Secretary Renae Eze told the Daily Mail. "Unfortunately, President Biden and his Administration are more interested in changing the national narrative from their disastrous Afghanistan evacuation and reckless open border policies instead of protecting the innocent unborn."

TX Gov. Greg Abbott

"We are confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life."

The decision to leave the law intact for now is perhaps the biggest clue as to how the court will eventually rule - as it upholds a decision by a federal appeals court in New Orleans from last week, which itself held a lower court judge's ruling intact.

Prior to that, the Texas abortion ban was temporarily suspended by an Obama appointee earlier this month - which Texas quickly appealed, and won.

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley provided more color last month, noting that "Future abortion rights do not run through Texas or Congress. Challenges to the Texas law will take months. But the most immediate threat to Roe is already on the docket."

When Texas was enacting its law in May, the Supreme Court accepted a Mississippi case with a fundamental challenge in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case was accepted for one unambiguous question: “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” That case will allow the court a direct, clear case to reconsider the basis for abortion. The final decision in Dobbs will likely long precede any final decision on Texas’s law.

According to pro-life groujp Susan B. Anthony list, "Pro-abortion Democrats led by Joe Biden are losing hearts and minds across America, so they run to the courts to try to impose their extreme agenda of abortion on demand up to birth. Since the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect, it has saved more than 6,000 babies with beating hearts."

"The Supreme Court has already rejected one bid to block this life-saving law, and we hope that in the upcoming Dobbs late abortion case it will afford all states the right to protect unborn children and their mothers."

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 13:00

11.5% Of US Households Do Not Plan To Buy Holiday Gifts, More Than Twice The Normal

22 October 2021 at 09:40
11.5% Of US Households Do Not Plan To Buy Holiday Gifts, More Than Twice The Normal

By Marianne Wilson of Chain Store Age

Not all consumers will be increasing their holiday spend this year. In fact, some will be spending less. 

Supply chain and inflation challenges may dampen seasonal cheer for some consumers, according to a report from Deloitte. The study forecast that, amid waning pandemic anxiety and stabilizing consumer sentiment, holiday spending will average $1,463 per household, up 5% from 2020 —with higher-income shoppers driving nearly all gains.

Higher-income households are planning to spend five times that of lower-income households, the study found. Higher-income shoppers expect to spend 15% more than last year (averaging $2,624 per household). But lower-income groups plan to spend 22% less (averaging $536 per household).

In addition, the percentage of overall consumers who do not plan to spend at all this season is 11.5%, more than doubling from 2020 (4.9%). Two-thirds of this non-spender group (65%) are from lower-income households compared to 12% from higher-income households.

Deloitte noted that some pre-pandemic behaviors are returning, such as experiences including socializing away from home, travel and entertaining at home. Overall spending is expected to increase 15% year-over-year, to $536 per household, accounting for more than one-third of holiday spending.

Other highlights from the Deloitte survey are below.

  • Consumers are more worried about inflation than retailers. More than two-thirds of consumers (68%) expect product prices to increase this holiday season compared to 53% of retail executives.

  • Seven in 10 consumers (68%) expect higher prices this season compared to five in 10 retail executives. Lower income shoppers expect to spend less based on inflation expectations, according to Deloitte.

  • Optimism among retail executives is strong, as seven in 10 expect consumers to spend more year over year. However, six in 10 retail executives are worried about receiving their holiday orders in time.

  • Three out of four consumers (75%) are concerned about stockouts, motivating consumers to begin their shopping earlier this year. 

  • Overall spending will increase across categories with 45% of households planning to spend the same or more on the holidays.

  • Spending on gifts is forecast to be $501 per household, an increase of 3% since 2020, while non-gifts purchases will total $426 per household.

  • Retailers are placing orders with confidence that consumers will be spending, as 33% of retail executives stated that holiday order volumes grew by double digits year-over-year.

As pandemic anxieties decrease, the number of consumers who are anxious about shopping in-store during the holiday season fell to 40% versus 51% last year. Consumer spending at nearly all retail subsectors has recovered and is at or above pre-pandemic levels, according to Deloitte.

Related findings are below.

  • The share of in-store spending is expected to rise to 33% in 2021 (up from 28% in 2020), although this is still below the 36% increase seen in 2019.  

  • Despite some recovery to in-store spending, digital continues to see healthy gains, with online spending expected to rise to $924, up from $892 in 2020.

  • Retail executives are optimistic about online sales, with 40% expecting double-digit channel growth.

  • Convenience preferences from the pandemic are sticking as consumers continue to look for simplified shopping citing online (55%) and mass merchants (51%) as top channels, while digital trends including standard delivery (73%), same-day or next-day delivery (47%), BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) (33%) and curbside pickup (21%) are maintaining popularity.

  • An increased reliance on social media to research products continues, as 28% plan to leverage social media for their holiday shopping, including to browse products (56%), read reviews or recommendations (53%), and discover promotions (50%). In addition, 52% of consumers leverage influencer-generated content for inspiration while looking for gifts to buy.

“Retailers will see strong growth this holiday season, even as supply chain issues, inflation and highly bifurcated spending continue to impact our industry,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution leader.

“Retailers who remain resilient by offering promotions early, appealing to in-store and online shoppers, and planning their inventories well in advance, are likely to experience not just a robust holiday season, but will be well positioned for continued sales into the new year.”

The report is based on a survey of 4,315 consumers conducted online Sept. 7-14, as well as a survey of 30 retail executives across retail categories, 90% of which have annual revenues of $1 billion or more, conducted Sept. 3-16.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:40

Putin Blasts Pushing Transgenderism On Children As "Simply Monstrous" In Critique Of West's 'Wokism'

22 October 2021 at 09:05
Putin Blasts Pushing Transgenderism On Children As "Simply Monstrous" In Critique Of West's 'Wokism'

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued some typically frank and devastating comments on woke culture afflicting the West and particularly the United States, in particular going after new emerging 'norms' on gender discussions, race relations, as well as 'cancel culture'.

His wide-ranging assessment was given during the annual Valdai Discussion Club event held in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Thursday, during Q&A interactions with the audience. As we previously described, some of his harshest words were in condemnation of NATO's attempts to expand its military infrastructure and presence in Ukraine, which he said is "already underway" and poses a "real threat" - but later he additionally called out the cultural threat to traditional Russian values posed by the modern West.

Some his most interesting commentary in this area focused on transgenderism and so-called gender fluidity pushed by the Left, and accompanying cancelation of any public figure who dares speak against it... "Those who risk saying that men and women still exist, and that this is a biological fact, are virtually ostracized" in the US and West in general, Putin said. He likened what's going on to "a total phantasmagoria" - or dreamlike fantasy - according to a translation of his words featured in Russian media.

Outside the US Embassy in Moscow, Getty Images

Putin perhaps had the ongoing Dave Chappelle/Netflix controversy in mind, given the comedian's widely watched latest act focused on dismantling transgenderism and advocates' attempts to shut him down.

The Russian leader further called the inability of otherwise rational people to recognize simple biological fact of two genders, male and female, and to go so far as push this viewpoint on children a "monstrous" subversion of timeless self-evident truth:

"This is not to mention things that are simply monstrous," he added, "like when children are taught from an early age that a boy can easily become a girl and vice versa. In fact, they are indoctrinating them into the alleged choices that are supposedly available to everyone – removing parents from the equation and forcing the child to make decisions that can ruin their lives."

This is borderline crime against humanity – all under the guise of ‘progress’

He likened it to the "newspeak" of "Soviet culture warriors" in the early 20th century who wanted to propagandize the masses.

Relatedly Putin took on 'cancel culture' - also likening it ironically enough to what existed under Soviet times. The historical reference the Russian president made is interesting especially given it's Washington leaders and pundits that tend to describe him as wanting to somehow resurrect expansionist Soviet Russia. Putin told the Valdai audience the following:

"The fight against racism is a necessary and noble cause, but in the modern ‘cancel culture', it turns into reverse discrimination, reverse racism," Putin said. "We see with bemusement the process unfolding in countries that have grown accustomed to viewing themselves as flagships of progress."

It is with puzzlement that in the West today we see practices that Russia has left in the distant past.

That's when he offered a contrary viewpoint, defining what it means to preserve culture in Russia over and against the 'pseudo-progressivism' of the West: "Conservatism is not something that prevents you from going up and forward, but something that prevents you from going back and down into chaos."

In other news Putin names Dave Chappelle entertainment minister. https://t.co/BbaIRPjplJ

— Jafpro🔥 (@Jafpro_16) October 22, 2021

Meanwhile the West has long accused Moscow of cracking down on "LGBTQ+ rights" - especially after the banning of gay parades in city streets of the past years, also following a series of Russian constitutional amendments passed this year in April which outlawed same-sex marriage and makes it illegal to allow self-identifying trans people to adopt. The Kremlin has justified its general ban on certain public displays as toward preventing the propagandizing of youth on sexual and gender matters.

Hungary's Viktor Orbán has also recently come under fire for promoting laws geared toward protecting children. Russia, Hungary, Poland and some other east European and Balkan countries have of late further accused West-backed NGOs of seeking to subvert traditional morality in their countries.

Cancel culture results in reverse discrimination - Putin pic.twitter.com/H4BgRl9v9k

— RT (@RT_com) October 21, 2021

Within the past year, US embassies and consulates across the globe and especially in Russia have begun more frequently flying the rainbow 'pride' flag under the Biden administration, especially in the month June.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:05

Stocks, Bonds, & Bitcoin Slammed As Powell Confirms Taper Timeline

22 October 2021 at 08:30
Stocks, Bonds, & Bitcoin Slammed As Powell Confirms Taper Timeline

It appears the market had kidded itself once again that The Fed would fold but Fed Chair Powell reiterated that inflation is well above target but the taper is on track to begin soon and end by mid-2022.

Which is exactly what he said at the last FOMC meeting press conference...

He also noted that "it's time to taper... not time to raise rates..."

But markets are looking through that and are pricing in an increasingly hawkish Fed. Traders are pricing in a 70% chance of rate-0hike by June 2022, and almost 1.5 rate-hikes by Sept 2022 and notably more than 2 rate-hikes by Dec 2022...

Bonds are down...

Stocks are tumbling...

Bitcoin is red on the week...

But the USD is higher...

Will an equity crash prompt Powell to reverse his "time to taper" plan?

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 11:30

A Day Late & A Dollar Short – The Fed's Coming Policy Mistake

22 October 2021 at 08:23
A Day Late & A Dollar Short – The Fed's Coming Policy Mistake

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

An honest review of history shows the Fed is consistently a “day late and a dollar short” regarding monetary policy. With the market trading at historical extremes, it is clear the Fed is about to make another policy mistake.

The history of “financial accidents” due to the Fed’s monetary intervention schemes is evident. Not just over the last decade, but since the Fed became “active” in 1980.

What should be evident is that before the Fed became active, economic growth was accelerating. There were few crisis events and economic prosperity was broad. However, post-1980, the trend of economic growth declined. There are many reasons leading up to each event, However, the common denominator is the Fed tightening monetary policy.

Notably, Fed rate hiking campaigns also correlate with poor financial market outcomes, as higher rates impacted the credit and leverage markets.

Once again, the Fed is discussing tightening monetary policy. The first step would be reducing their $120 billion monthly bond purchases, then potentially hiking rates. While they believe they can achieve this reduction without disrupting the equity markets or causing an economic contraction, history suggests otherwise.

Right Idea. Wrong Implementation.

The Fed’s assumption is that by providing excess reserves to the banking system, the banks would lend those funds, thereby expanding economic activity. Furthermore, as discussed previously, the Federal Reserve’s entire premise of inflating asset prices was the subsequent boost to economic activity from an increased “wealth effect.”

“This approach eased financial conditions in the past and, so far, looks to be effective again. Stock prices rose and long-term interest rates fell when investors began to anticipate the most recent action. Easier financial conditions will promote economic growth. For example, lower mortgage rates will make housing more affordable and allow more homeowners to refinance. Lower corporate bond rates will encourage investment. And higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending.” – Ben Bernanke

However, after more than a decade of “monetary policy,” little evidence supports that claim. Instead, there is sufficient evidence “monetary policy” leads to other problems. Such include greater wealth inequality, speculative investment activity, and slower economic growth.

Current monetary policy has its roots in Keynesian economic theory. To wit:

A general glut would occur when aggregate demand for goods was insufficient, leading to an economic downturn resulting in losses of potential output due to unnecessarily high unemployment, which results from the defensive (or reactive) decisions of the producers.”

In such a situation, Keynesian economics states that fiscal policies could increase aggregate demand, thus expanding economic activity and reducing unemployment. 

The only problem is that it didn’t work as planned because “monetary policy” is NOT expansionary.

“Since 2008, the total cumulative growth of the economy is just $3.5 trillion. In other words, for each dollar of economic growth since 2008, it required $12 of monetary stimulus. Such sounds okay until you realize it came solely from debt issuance.

Fed Should Have Already Hiked Rates

The problem for the Fed is they are always a “day late and a dollar short.” Where the Fed repeats its mistake is keeping monetary policy accommodative for too long.

Instead, the Fed should use Government interventions to hike rates from zero while the excess liquidity supports economic growth.

For example, during the “Financial Crisis,” the Fed should have hiked rates as the spike in economic growth occurred in 2010-2011. At that point, both the Fed and Government had flooded the economy with liquidity. Yes, hiking rates would have slowed the advance in the financial markets. However, the excess liquidity would have offset the impact of tighter monetary policy.

If they had hiked rates sooner, interest rates on the short-end would have risen. Such would have given the Fed a policy tool to combat economic weakness in the future. But, of course, such assumes a historically normal response to economic recoveries. In that case, the yield curve would steepen sharply, providing higher yields to lenders.

Higher yields would slow speculative investment activity in the financial markets, housing, and other leveraged market investments. Such would reduce the financial risks to markets and potentially the need to continually “bailout” bad actors.

Such was a point made by Don Kohn,the Fed’s former vice chair for financial supervision.

“Dealing with risks to the financial stability is urgent. The current situation is replete with unusually large risks of the unexpected, which, if they come to pass, could result in the financial system amplifying shocks, putting the economy at risk.”

Policy Mistake In The Making

Don Kohn explicitly noted the Fed’s mention of “notable” vulnerabilities in the financial system. With asset values at historical highs, and record levels of financial debt, the concerns are valid.

The problem for the Fed is that interest rates are already at zero, the Government is running a massive deficit, not to mention $120 billion in QE monthly. Such puts the Fed in a poor position to respond to an economic downturn resulting from the bursting of an asset bubble or a debt crisis.

Our view aligns with GMO co-founder Jeremy Grantham. He argued:

“The Fed should act to deflate all asset prices carefully, knowing that an earlier decline, however painful, would be smaller and less dangerous than waiting.”

Yes, if the Fed had acted earlier to start hiking rates in which QE was in full swing, the market indeed would not have doubled in a year. However, the Fed would be in a much better position to minimize the damage from the next recessionary spat.

“Right now, systemic risk is not something the Fed is required to take into account as they carry out their missions. They should be required to broaden their perspective to consider the systemic implications of their actions and of the activities and firms they oversee and be held accountable for doing this. – Kohn

Maybe, if such were the case, the Fed would not have to “bailout” the financial institutions every time the market declines.

In the end, the Fed will be a “day late and a dollar short” once again.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 11:23

Top US Port Chief Warns: "Shop Early" For Christmas Gifts Because Snarled Supply Chains Will Persist 

22 October 2021 at 08:00
Top US Port Chief Warns: "Shop Early" For Christmas Gifts Because Snarled Supply Chains Will Persist 

The executive director of the Port of Long Beach, the largest container port in the US, told Bloomberg Thursday that Americans should buy their holiday gifts now as congestion continues to snarl supply chains. 

"Shop early because these delays and bottlenecks are going to continue to the end of the year," Mario Cordero, the port's executive director, said during an interview with Bloomberg Television. "Hopefully, we'll have some strong mitigating factors."

The Port of Long Beach and neighboring Port of Los Angeles handle 40% of all US containerized goods. At the twin ports, more than 103 container ships are at terminals or waiting offshore on Wednesday, an all-time high. In pre-pandemic time, the average backlog of vessels at the ports is between 10 and 20. 

Chart: American Shipper based on data from Marine Exchange of Southern California. Data bi-monthly April-Nov 2020; daily Dec 2020-present

Cordero's port continues to see a massive increase in containers, up 24% this year through September. He said surging e-commerce orders are to blame, adding that the top priority to fix this mess is to have the entire supply chain operating on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week, including the port, truck and train networks, and warehouses. 

There were 103 container ships at Los Angeles/Long Beach terminals or waiting offshore on Wednesday, an all-time high.

If anyone is telling you the supply chain crisis is getting better, they are full of it

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) October 21, 2021

Worsening supply chain challenges are only making things more complicated for the Biden administration, who recently announced measures to operate ports on a 24/7 basis is nothing more than hot air. 

Last week, a top toy executive told Fox New that Biden's port directive is "too little, too late" to save Christmas hence why Cordero told Bloomberg's audience last night to buy holidays gifts now. 

There's even been talk behind the scenes by the White House, weighing the use of the National Guard to alleviate stretched supply chains so that Americans will hopefully get their consumer goods before Christmas. The administration is searching for ways to alleviate port congestion and doesn't want to be seen as the "Grinch" if consumer goods cannot be delivered to store shelves or their doorsteps. 

The World Bank and IHS Markit rank both ports as some of the world's least efficient, suggesting that structural issues continue to cause congestion of critical supply chains that might ruin Christmas for some. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 11:00

Truth, Social Justice, And The American Way

22 October 2021 at 07:39
Truth, Social Justice, And The American Way

By Michael Every of Rabobank

Former President Trump is launching a new social media platform called TRUTH. Ironically, this DC-rattling news came days after DC Comics changed Superman’s motto from “Truth, justice, and the American way” to “Truth, justice, and a better tomorrow.” Perhaps “truth” will need to be dropped to prevent free advertising. Or Facebook’s metaverse rebrand will be to “Tomorrow”.

Superman, first published in 1938, was created by two Jewish-Americans, hence his name, Kal-El, at a time when the world was wracked with anti-Semitism: Kristallnacht came seven months later. He represented the US immigrant experience – arriving from a shattered planet, thriving, and using his strength to fight for the “American way”. To kids in the UK, that part of the slogan never made sense to us: did Superman care about capitalism? Today he does: the financial logic of appealing to a foreign audience is the perfect symbol of the pro/anti-globalisation thread in US politics, as well as broader changes in the country’s view of itself.

One can argue the last thing needed in a deeply polarized America arguing over social justice, and not sure about its way, is another social media platform - for Trump. Those thinking that way can be reassured that perhaps it will fizzle out, or the 400% surge in the shares of the SPAC controlling TRUTH is a grubby money grab with no viable tech. However, Facebook is accused of manipulating news feeds; Twitter openly suppresses news and bans people – just a year ago, it blocked the Hunter Biden’s laptop story, as did most of the mainstream media; YouTube gets to decide what scientists get to say about science; and Instagram just removed a post stating scientific fact. Are we really in ‘safe hands’ at present? Is truth capable of emerging?

There is a larger point here for markets beyond swings in tech shares. They only have a genuine social function if they allow price discovery. When *everyone* can play, the balance of buyers and sellers will eventually settle on what the agreed price of a resource, product, or service should be. Is this system perfect? No! Large players bully smaller ones - and almost all US shares are now owned by the rich. We also see market failures: water is cheap despite the fact that we will all die without it; the price of carbon is a key issue – as China digs all the coal it possibly can ahead of COP26; and not even America would be stupid enough to fight a war using ‘market forces’. Even so, well-regulated markets are the best mechanism we have for settling things. Name one better.

It’s also a positive if those regulators are neutral, which is why it’s nice to see the Fed finally banning its senior staff from personal stock and bond trading. Will this cut down on the quality of potential future candidates? Not if $250,000 after-dinner speech fees are still available. Senator Warren is still opposing Fed Chair Powell’s renomination: does this trading ban give him cover?

But do we have true price discovery in markets when, if you follow the white rabbit, central banks tell us what bond yields are, and throw in countless billions of liquidity every month, which then benchmarks other asset prices higher, while governments corral markets more aggressively?

One asks, as US stocks hit fresh record highs despite inflation soaring and labor striking; the RBA steps in to protect its yield curve target, hitting bond bears; Chinese tech shares rally sharply as the state that said it would not allow powerful private tech monopolies is now seen as not meaning it; and as Evergrande somehow made an $83.5m bond coupon payment today, despite having no money and no property sales, showing the central bank wants to keep it afloat - for now.

What’s that worth?

Very, very little.”

Central banks are buying it, and maybe the government wants us to buy it.”

Oh, I will too then. We are good at market analysis, aren’t we?”

Perhaps that’s partly why ideas are censored so lightly today as the ‘American way’, despite the First Amendment – because it’s consistent with the market backdrop. You don’t need to worry about what’s true and what isn’t, or what’s value or isn’t. Just press the button and get the treat. Or don’t, and get the electric shock.

In short, for those recoiling at the idea of TRUTH --whose name is indeed ridiculous-- take succor from the knowledge that, like markets, the marketplace of ideas does not have any viable long-run replacements. As Czech dissident, then President, Havel advised in ‘The Power of the Powerless’: “Keep the company of those who seek the truth - run from those who found it.”

On which note, allow me to move to the awkward truths of geopolitics to conclude. The Financial Times today discusses ‘What China’s hypersonic test launch reveals about the global arms race’, underlining it has spooked the Pentagon…into announcing it just tested hypersonic missiles too. Despite the fact it did so back in 2011, and the tech has been around for decades. If China is developing more nuclear capability, it isn’t doing so for a nuclear war. It’s not mad. It’s to ensure in a conventional war, the US could not escalate to a nuclear threat unilaterally.

So, MAD (mutually assured destruction). Yet that could mean *conventional* military power would matter most. Who does the regional strength/production dynamic favor, and as time passes? The fat tail risks should be clear, but markets won’t see them. The upside ones are the prospect of more US defense spending – which is really ‘the American way’.

Even Senator Manchin, who is fine with a genuine zero dollars Biden stimulus bill, and Senator Sinema, who won’t raise taxes, may agree to that.

Happy Friday.     

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 10:39

Biden Finally Admits Dems Don't Have The Votes To Raise Corporate Taxes For 'Build Back Better' Agenda

22 October 2021 at 07:20
Biden Finally Admits Dems Don't Have The Votes To Raise Corporate Taxes For 'Build Back Better' Agenda

After weeks of negotiations at the White House and on Capitol Hill, it appears the Democrats are hardly any closer to passing President Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda (which, remember, has been split into two bills, a "bipartisan" infrastructure bill and another to finance a massive expansion of the social safety net).

To make matters worse (for America, not the Democrats), the Washington Press Corp reported last night that Democratic moderate Kyrsten Sinema, who has helped to plunge Biden's agenda deeper into chaos, won't support tax increases on corporations, wealthy individuals or capitol gains.

Remember, President Biden and the Democratic leadership promised that their multi-trillion plan for what is effectively a state-managed redistribution of wealth in the economy is supposed to be paid for (for the most part, at least) with tax hikes. Republicans have unanimously opposed this.

We have long suspected that this "commitment" to offset increased spending with tax hikes would ultimately ring hollow, and the other day, Biden seemed to imply that they had abandoned plans to raise taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. When asked about a corporate tax hike, Sen. Joe Manchin said this week that "they're going to pay their fair share'. Goldman's top political analyst shared his latest thoughts on how the plan might be funded - or not - in a note to clients yesterday.

But for the first time, President Biden faced the American public and effectively admitted as much, saying during a CNN town hall meeting in Baltimore that he doesn’t think there are enough Democratic votes to raise tax rates as part of his deal - whether those tax hikes be on wealthy individuals, or corporations.

As Axios put it, Biden's comment that the Dems are effectively jettisoning their hopes to hike corporate taxes was "the most important headline" of the night.

Does that mean the Dems will simply give up, or try for a much more modest plan that might win some GOP support? Of course not: Biden said last night that he believes they'll reach a deal on the overall legislative package anyway - they'll just need to also commit to trillions of dollars in additional spending, debt and money printing.

"I don’t think we’re going to be able to get the vote," Biden said in response to a question about individual and corporate rates. "Look, when you’re in the United States Senate and you’re president of the United States and you have 50 Democrats, everyone is the president."

Many have scoffed that Sen. Joe Manchin, due to his status as a key swing vote, is effectively as powerful as the president. Now, Biden is admitting it in a joke. And you know what they say about jokes.

A White House official later told Bloomberg that Biden was only referring to corporate tax-rate increases, not potential hikes on the wealthy, or financial transactions, or whatever else.

At this point, there have been reports that Sen. Sinema has committed to a broad tax hike outline, but what exactly these tax hikes look like is unclear. As BBG put it, "the specifics of what she would support weren’t immediately clear."

Despite progressives' attempts to push back, the headline number for the Dems' social safety net expansion bill has reportedly shrunk to $2 trillion, from $3.5 trillion.

Biden also acknowledged that two provisions of his agenda have been vastly curtailed or eliminated: one is an initiative to provide paid family leave, which would be slashed to just four weeks from 12, and a proposal to make community college free. Biden said he would push for increasing Pell grants for lower-income college students instead.

Thanks to the trillions in post-COVID spending, inflation in the US is already accelerating at its fastest rate in decades, and it's not just the US: prices are rising around the world.

But what's the danger of the Dems' passing another massive spending package without enough tax hikes to offset it? Well, as Paul Tudor Jones said the other day, inflation is already "the single biggest threat to our society".

In all likelihood, the Dems already understand this: but if they don't pass some kind of spending package, what will they have to campaign on ahead of next November's midterms?

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 10:20

Baldwin Breaks Silence, Expresses "Shock And Sadness" After Killing Woman With "Prop Gun"

22 October 2021 at 10:50
Baldwin Breaks Silence, Expresses "Shock And Sadness" After Killing Woman With "Prop Gun"

Update (1315ET): Issuing his first public statement since reportedly accidentally killing a senior production staffer with a "prop gun" on the set of his movie "Rust" yesterday, Alec Baldwin tweeted on Friday that he was "shocked and saddened" by the incident and that he was in touch with the victim's family in what appeared to be a carefully vetted statement that offered no clues as to what actually happened, nor assigned any blame, simply referring to her as a "tragic accident".

"There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna."

Baldwin said he's cooperating fully in the police investigation.

1-
There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and

— AlecBaldwin(HABF) (@AlecBaldwin) October 22, 2021

2- I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.

— AlecBaldwin(HABF) (@AlecBaldwin) October 22, 2021

Meanwhile, as speculation about the shooting intensifies, the Times of London has offered a few thoughts about how a prop gun might be used to accidentally kill somebody. It could be possible that a live round was placed in the chamber "by mistake".

The AP has also managed to capture this photo of Baldwin in the parking lot of the Santa Fe sheriff's office.

Source: AP

As far as what a prop gun even is, the Times explains that, also.

A spokesman for the actor said that there had been an accident involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks

But what is a prop gun?

It looks like a real gun in every respect – but is loaded with blank cartridges

— The Times (@thetimes) October 22, 2021

What is a blank cartridge, then?

The firing mechanism is the same as for a live round. There is a build-up of gas to create sufficient pressure to produce an explosive sound and a muzzle flash but there is no bullet at the end of the cartridge pic.twitter.com/kVnTzf5vDL

— The Times (@thetimes) October 22, 2021

The military have what is called a blank-firing attachment at the end of the barrel

In the British military this is a yellow attachment that blocks off the barrel hole. Soldiers are reassured they are only using blanks in firing exercises when they see the yellow attachment

— The Times (@thetimes) October 22, 2021

But prop guns don't have similar attachments, as it would look unrealistic for a film

Instead, some form of padding, like a cotton wad, is stuffed into the end of the blank cartridge. When the gun is fired the wadding is released like a projectile

— The Times (@thetimes) October 22, 2021

This can still prove fatal if the gun was fired accidentally at very close range

If the projectile hit the head it could be lethal

It is believed that Halyna Hutchin was struck at close range pic.twitter.com/zMHgH7k7KZ

— The Times (@thetimes) October 22, 2021

Could a live round have been placed by mistake into the gun chamber?

This would seem to be wholly unlikely. Because a real gun is being used to create a realistic film scene, there would have been a specialist safety team on the set to ensure there could be no risk involved

— The Times (@thetimes) October 22, 2021

We fully expect more details to emerge on Friday and over the weekend. Meanwhile, Baldwin's legal team is probably getting busy. Let's just hope - for Baldwin's sake - that the gun wasn't fired in response to somebody calling him "fat".

* * *

Actor Alec Baldwin, the prominent critic of President Trump who infamously portrayed the former president on sketch comedy show SNL, has found himself in a bit of hot water after a staggering tragedy on the set of a movie he was filming.

Baldwin, who is notorious for angry outbursts directed at fellow airplane passengers and violent confrontations with strangers vying with him for the same parking spot, apparently shot and killed the director of photography, and wounded the director, of the movie "Rust", a western which Baldwin was filming in New Mexico, according to the New York Times and the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office. The killing occurred Thursday when Baldwin fired a "prop firearm" on the set of the film.

The cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, 42, was killed, and the director, Joel Souza, 48, was injured around 1:50 p.m. on the set of “Rust,” which is being filmed in Santa Fe County, said Juan Rios, a spokesman for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. The circumstances of the shooting are under investigation.

The Santa Fe Sheriff told reporters that the shooting at Bonanza Creek Ranch happened in the middle of a scene that was either being rehearsed or filmed. He said the Sheriff’s Office was interviewing people on the set to determine how the two had been shot. No charges have been filed against anyone involved with the shooting, including Baldwin.

Law enforcement says they're still trying to nail down the details of exactly what happened.

"We’re trying to determine right now how and what type of projectile was used in the firearm," he said.

Hutchins, the director of photography, was flown to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where she later died. Souza, the director, was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe. His condition was “not immediately available,” per the NYT.

The movie’s production company, Rust Movie Productions LLC, said in a statement that "[t]he entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today’s tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna’s family and loved ones. We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department’s investigation. We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event."

When approached by the NYT (and other media outlets), the film’s producers didn't immediately respond to emails or phone calls on Thursday night, nor did Baldwin or any of his representatives.

The actor, who has starred or participated in many classic movies and television shows, has long been known for his liberal views, including his support for gun control.

Baldwin hasn't posted on his social media accounts since the incident. However, back in 2017, Baldwin tweeted about a police shooting, saying "I wonder how it feels to wrongly kill someone?"

I wonder how it must feel to wrongfully kill someone...https://t.co/WE6QsAAXGI

— AlecBaldwin (@AlecBaldwln____) September 23, 2017

What a way to find out.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 13:50

Path To A Greener Future: Tax Kids Or Just Ban Them Outright

22 October 2021 at 03:30
Path To A Greener Future: Tax Kids Or Just Ban Them Outright

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

The Greens need to step up to the plate with some truly sustainable proposals. I have a couple of ideas...

Ironies of Build Back Better

President Biden wants free college education, free preschool for kids, and increased child tax credits. 

All of these proposals subsidize the single worst thing we can do for the environment: have kids. 

Kids eat, need medical services, eventually become teenagers and drive cars. And as shocking as this might seem, kids grow up and travel, eventually by airplane.

Poor Nations Say They Need Trillions From Rich Ones

Yesterday, I commented Hello President Biden, Poor Nations Say They Need Trillions From Rich Ones

It's one thing for developed countries like the US to demand a cleaner future, but it's another thing to attempt to force G7 goals on the rest of the world.   

About Those Climate Change Goals

John Kerry was speechless when he learned Poor Nations Need Trillions From Rich Ones to meet climate change goals.

At a July global climate gathering in London, South African environment minister Barbara Creecy presented the world’s wealthiest countries with a bill: more than $750 billion annually to pay for poorer nations to shift away from fossil fuels and protect themselves from global warming.

The number was met with silence from U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry, according to Zaheer Fakir, an adviser to Ms. Creecy. Other Western officials said they weren’t ready to discuss such a huge sum.

Kids are the single most destructive thing to the environment. Their toys are mostly made of plastic, diapers are throw-away, and as they get older, litter is inevitable.

A tax on corporations is not the answer. Corporations don't really pay taxes anway. Consumers do. 

Guarantee Living Wages 

Think about guaranteed living wages for a second. Sheeesh, what a Progressive disaster.  

Living wages encourage the single most destructive thing environmentally, having kids.

Modest Proposal

Dear readers, environmentally speaking, the proper thing to do is ban kids altogether.

Instead, we have Progressives demanding countless environmentally detrimental actions while simultaneously demanding a greener earth.

Meanwhile, poor nations demand outrageous bribes to produce clean energy.

Phooey. If we just ban having kids outright, the earth will heal itself in short order. 

Some might object to such a radical proposal.

Yet, it it pales in comparison Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal written in 1729.

In his essay, Swift proposed "Eating Children For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being A burden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public"

Swift was clearly way ahead of his time.

We could use a man of his stature today.

*  *  *

Like these reports? If so, please Subscribe to MishTalk Email Alerts.Subscribers get an email alert of each post as they happen. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 06:30

Dutch Government Lab Decrypts Tesla's Data Storage System, Finds "Far More Data Than Previously Aware Of"

22 October 2021 at 02:45
Dutch Government Lab Decrypts Tesla's Data Storage System, Finds "Far More Data Than Previously Aware Of"

We may soon find out whether or not Tesla has been deceptive in presenting its driver data.

According to Reuters, a Dutch government's forensic lab says it has decrypted the car's data-storage system, which has uncovered "a wealth of information that could be used to investigate serious accidents." But the best part: the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) says it has found "far more data than investigators had previously been aware of".

How unexpected.

The NFI said that the decrypted data proved that Tesla stores information about Autopilot usage, speed, accelerator pedal position, steering wheel angle and brake usage. Some of the data can be available for over a year, the report says. 

Francis Hoogendijk, a digital investigator at the NFI, said: “These data contain a wealth of information for forensic investigators and traffic accident analysts and can help with a criminal investigation after a fatal traffic accident or an accident with injury."

For example, one investigation took place when the NFI looked into a collision involving a Tesla using Autopilot behind a car that braked hard. The investigation showed that the driver of the Tesla reacted with the expected response time, but the collision happened because the Tesla was too close. 

Aart Spek, NFI investigator, told Reuters: "That makes it interesting, because who is responsible for the following distance: the car or the driver?"

The lab said it decided to forego seeking the data from Tesla in favor of reverse engineering data logs for it. The NFI said it was “in order to objectively investigate them," which we're guessing is a kind way to say "side-step Elon Musk's bullshit". 

Data storage has been in question since Tesla announced earlier this year it had established a site in China to help store data. Tesla provides data in the Netherlands when a court orders it to do so, but now the NFI knows exactly what kind of data the carmaker is storing and for how long. 

“You cannot claim what you do not know, so it’s helpful that we now know what else is being stored,” the NFI said.

"Tesla however only supplies a specific subset of signals, only the ones requested, for a specific timeframe, whereas the log files contain all the recorded signals," the institute added. 

We're sure this revelation will catch the ear of the NHTSA, who is in the midst of a broad 700,000+ vehicle investigation into Tesla's Autopilot and its potential involvement in accidents involving emergency vehicles. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 05:45

UK Banks – Digital Dinosaurs

22 October 2021 at 02:00
UK Banks – Digital Dinosaurs

Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

“Tuppence wisely invested in the bank…”

As UK bank reporting season kicks off, the dull, boring, predictable UK banks should look good. But the reality is they are dinosaurs – their failure to digitise and evolve leaves them vulnerable to tech-savy FinTechs and Challenger filling their niche. If the future of modern finance is a Tech hypersonic missile… British Banks are still building steam trains. 

Today see’s the start of the UK bank reporting season. Yawn….

I wrote a piece for the Evening Standard y’day – Another set of numbers to disguise the rot. (I’ve reused some of it this morning – lazy, eh?) Exactly as I predicted in that note, Barclays came in strong this morning with a decent lift from its investment banking businesses. Lloyds and HSBC will also produce acceptable numbers and limited losses on post pandemic recovery.  The sector outlook looks positive, the regulator will allow them to increase dividends, and there is higher income potential from rising interest rates.

But… would you buy the UK banks?

They face substantial market and ongoing pandemic risk. The cost of economic reality falls heavy across them all. This morning the headlines are about Medical groups screaming out for a renewal of lockdown measures to protect the NHS – a move that will 100% nail-on recession and cause multiple small businesses to give up. The threat of recession in the UK is pronounced – exacerbated by global supply chain crisis and risks of policy mistakes. The worst outcome for banks would be stagflation resulting in exploding loan impairments.

Lloyds is the most vulnerable to the UK economy – hence it’s underperformed the others. Even without renewed Covid measures, potential policy mistakes by the Bank of England in raising interest rates too early, or by government by raising taxes and austerity spending, will hit business and consumer sentiment hardest, causing the stock prices to crumble back towards its low back in Sept 2020 when it hit £24.72. It’s got the largest mortgage exposure – but no one really expects a significant housing sell-off. (When no-one expects it – is when to worry!)

If you believe the UK’s economic potential is under-stated, then Lloyds has the best upside stock potential among the big three. If the economy recovers strongly, Lloyds goes up. If it stumbles, then so will Lloyds!

Barclays is a more difficult call. It’s a broader, more diversified name. It retains an element of “whoosh” from its markets businesses – which have delivered excellent returns from its capital markets businesses fuelled by low rates, but it also runs a higher-than-average reputational risk for generating embarrassing headlines. But, when the global economy normalises, higher interest rates will impact the fee income of all the investment banks, thus impacting Barclays to a greater extent than Lloyds. Barclay’s international business gives it some hedge against a UK economic slide.

HSBC is the most complex call. The UK banking operation is a rounding error compared to the Bank’s Hong Kong business. The bank is pivoting towards Asia, orbiting China and other high-growth Far East economies where it seeks to attract rising middle-class wealth. It’s underperformed due to a distaste among global investors for its China business, but also the perception it’s just too big a bank to manage effectively.

If its China strategy was to pay off, it will be a long-term winner. But that’s no means certain – Premier Xi’s crackdown on Chinese Tech threatens to morph into a China first policy, and the space for a strong foreign bank in China’s banking system looks questionable, even as the developing crisis in real-estate could pull it lower.

Ok – so good for UK banks…

Whatever the respective bank numbers show this week, the banks will remain core holdings for many investors. Generally, big banks are perceived to be “relatively” safe. Regulation has reduced their market risk profiles, and strengthened capital bases since the post-Lehman unpleasantness in 2008 which saw RBS rescued by government.

Conventional investment wisdom says the more “dull, boring and predictable” a bank is, the more valuable it will be perceived in terms of stable predictable dividends, sound risk management, and for not surprising investors. Strong banks are perceived to be less vulnerable to competition with deep moats around their business.

Since 2008 that’s changed – in ways the incumbent banks have completely missed. The costs of entry have tumbled as banking has evolved into a completely different service. New, more nimble Fin-Techs like Revolut, digital challenger banks such as Starling, and cheaper foreign competitors, including the Yanks, are not only eating their lunch, but dinner as well.

The old established UK banks don’t seem to have a clue it’s happening. These incumbent banks look like dinosaurs wondering what that bright shiny light getting bigger in the sky might be. Despite proudly boasting of hundreds years of history, they are constrained by old tech ledger systems and never built centralised data-lakes from their information on individuals or the financial behaviours of crowds to improve and develop their services and income streams.

The future of banking is going to be about Tech and how effectively banks compete in a marketplace of online digital facilities and services. Banks that you use tech smartly will see their costs tumble, freeing up resources to do more, better! (When I ran a major bank’s FIG (Financial Institutions Group) about 100 years ago – the best banks were those with lowest cost-to-income ratio!)

There is an excellent article outlining FinTechs and Challengers from Chris Skinner this morning: Europe’s Challenger Banks are Challenging (and worth more than the old names). Let me pluck a bite from his piece: “Revolut is the most valuable UK tech start-up in history and the eighth biggest private company in the world, worth an estimated US$33 billion, according to CB Insights. Revolut has more than 16 million customers worldwide and sees over 150 million transactions per month.”

The new generation of nimbler Fin Techs and Challengers can innovate product offerings with sophisticated new systems and software. In contrast, UK bank IT departments are engaged in digital archaeology.  I understand only 17% of Senior Tech positions are held by women. Within the banks, I’m told its still a boys club, where the best paid IT jobs are for ancient bearded D&D playing coders brought into to patch 50 year-old archaic systems. Legacy systems leave the big banks with impossible catch up costs.

It’s probably unfair to say the big UK banks don’t know what’s happening – their management can’t be that unaware? Surely not…. But…. Maybe..

Although the banks brag how well diversified they are with over 37% of UK board members female – how much have they really changed? Hiring on the basis of diversity is a fad. At the risk of lighting the blue-touch paper and this comment exploding in my face, I would hazard to suggest the appointment of senior ladies who’ve worked their way up the existing financial system simply risks confirmation-bias on how things are conventionally done in banking.

They might do better hiring outside movers and shakers – rather than listening to themselves.

The bottom line is its not just their failure to innovate tech that’s a crisis. Over the years the UK banks have become increasingly sclerotic – slow to shift and adapt. The middle to senior levels of banking are hamstrung by bureaucracy, a satisficing culture, stifled innovation, a compliance fearful mindset, and senior management fixated on impressing the regulators first and foremost.

If the future of modern finance is a Tech hypersonic missile… British Banks are still building steam trains.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 05:00

NATO Presence In Ukraine "Already Underway" Poses "Real Threat" To Russia: Putin

22 October 2021 at 01:15
NATO Presence In Ukraine "Already Underway" Poses "Real Threat" To Russia: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued statements in reaction to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's official visit to Ukraine, Romania and Georgia this week where Austin told Ukrainian leaders there's an "open door to NATO" membership if the necessary defense spending and anti-corruption reforms are made. 

"The military development of the territory [of Ukraine] is already underway, and this really poses a threat to Russia. We are aware of this," Putin said in public remarks Thursday before the Valdai International Discussion Club. "Let's see what will happen on the domestic political scene of Ukraine in the near future," he said.

"The Secretary of Defense has arrived, in fact, opening the doors for Ukraine to NATO, in fact, his statement should and can be interpreted in this way," Putin added.

However, the Russian leader suggested that NATO membership and the ensuing inevitable confrontation with Russia would not fundamentally arise through the will of the people, but through a West-backed clique of rulers holding "extreme political views".

"The Ukrainian people are not allowed and will not be allowed to form governing bodies that will directly represent their interests... Ukraine is realistically ruled by a small group of people who claim to have won the struggle for independence and who hold extreme political views, regardless of who the head of the state is in name," Putin said according to translations in Russian media.

"The silent majority voted for them in the hopes that they would fulfil their election promises, but the not so silent, aggressive nationalist minority suppressed their freedom to make decisions expected by the Ukrainian population. They are the ones to truly run the country," Putin described.

On Tuesday while meeting with top Ukrainian officials in Kiev, Defense Secretary Austin had called out Russia as an "obstacle to peace" in the region. 

"Let's be clear, that Russia started this war and Russia is the obstacle to a peaceful resolution," Austin said during a joint briefing with his Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Taran.

"So we again call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea, to stop perpetuating the war in eastern Ukraine, to end its destabilizing activities in the Black Sea and along Ukraine's borders," Austin said.

AFP/Getty Images

That prompted immediate warnings from the Kremlin of its "red lines" which would require "active measures". Austin had also charged that Russian intelligence has been carrying out "persistent cyberattacks" and demanded an immediate halt to its actions against the West.

It was Austin's second trip to Ukraine in less than two months, as Washington and Kiev work to lay the groundwork for deepening defense cooperation. Moscow has of late made veiled threats of launching military action should it perceive that NATO is expanding its military presence and base infrastructure into Ukraine.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 04:15

NIH Admits Funding Gain-Of-Function COVID Experiments; Gives EcoHealth Five Days To Report Data

22 October 2021 at 01:11
NIH Admits Funding Gain-Of-Function COVID Experiments; Gives EcoHealth Five Days To Report Data

A top NIH official admitted in a Wednesday letter that the US-funded so-called "gain-of-function" research in Wuhan, China - and that the US nonprofit which conducted it, EcoHealth Alliance - led by the controversial Peter Daszak, "failed to report" that they had created a chimeric bat coronavirus which could infect humans.

In a letter addressed to Rep. James Comer (R-KY), NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence A. Tabak cites a "limited experiment" to determine whether "spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model." According to the letter, humanized mice infected with the modified bat virus "became sicker" than those exposed to an unmodified version of the same bat coronavirus.

Daszak failed to report this finding, and has been given five days to submit "any and all unpublished data from the experiments and work conducted" under the NIH grant.

Rutgers University Board of Governors Chemistry Professor Richard H. Ebright sums it up. :

The NIH received the relevant documents in 2018 and reviewed the documents in 2020 and again in 2021.

The NIH--specifically, Collins, Fauci, and Tabak--lied to Congress, lied to the press, and lied to the public. Knowingly. Willfully. Brazenly.

— Richard H. Ebright (@R_H_Ebright) October 20, 2021

See thread at:
https://t.co/SwJtZpix9b

— Richard H. Ebright (@R_H_Ebright) October 20, 2021

While Tabak's letter goes to great lengths to insist that EcoHealth's work couldn't have produced SARS-CoV-2, it absolutely vindicates Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who Fauci repeatedly called a liar in July for accusing him of funding GoF research in Wuhan, China.

“This is a pattern that Senator Paul has been doing now at multiple hearings, based on no reality … I have never lied, certainly not before Congress. Case closed.”

— Dr. Fauci ends back-and-forth with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). pic.twitter.com/WjGjQUFE0d

— The Recount (@therecount) July 20, 2021

As we noted in September, proof that the US funded of GoF research was blown wide open thanks to materials (here and here) released through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The Intercept against the National Institutes of Health, revealing that EcoHealth was paid to make chimeric SARS-based Covid that they confirmed could infect human cells.

While evidence of this research has been pointed to in published studies, the FOIA release provides a key piece to the puzzle which sheds new light on what was going on.

"This is a roadmap to the high-risk research that could have led to the current pandemic," said Gary Ruskin, executive director of U.S. Right To Know, a group that has been investigating the origins of Covid-19 (via The Intercept).

We also learned in September that 18 months before the Pandemic, Daszak applied for a grant to release enhanced airborne coronaviruses into the wild in an effort to inoculate them against diseases that could have otherwise jumped to humans, according to The Telegraph, citing leaked grant proposals from 2018.

New documents show that just 18 months before the first Covid-19 cases appeared, researchers had submitted plans to release skin-penetrating nanoparticles containing “novel chimeric spike proteins” of bat coronaviruses into cave bats in Yunnan, China.

They also planned to create chimeric viruses, genetically enhanced to infect humans more easily, and requested $14million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) to fund the work.

Daszak hoped to use genetic engineering to cobble "human-specific cleavage sites" onto bat Covid 'which would make it easier for the virus to enter human cells' - and included plans to commingle high-risk natural coronaviruses strains with more infectious, yet less deadly versions. His 'bat team' of researchers included Dr. Shi Zhengli from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as well as US researchers from the University of North Carolina and the US Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center.

Darpa refused the contract - saying "It is clear that the proposed project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk," while warning that Daszak hadn't fully considered the dangers involved in enhancing the virus via gain-of-function research, or by releasing a vaccine into the air.

Angus Dalgleish, Professor of Oncology at St Georges, University of London, who struggled to get work published showing that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) had been carrying out “gain of function” work for years before the pandemic, said the research may have gone ahead even without the funding.

This is clearly a gain of function, engineering the cleavage site and polishing the new viruses to enhance human cell infectibility in more than one cell line,” he said. -Telegraph

In short, after a massive drop of receipts proved that Fauci, and his boss Francis Collins, lied, the NIH itself has finally acknowledged funding Gain-of-Function research.

Tyler Durden Fri, 10/22/2021 - 04:11
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