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: Adult Swim cuts ties with ‘Rick and Morty’ co-creator Justin Roiland after domestic abuse charges

Adult Swim cut its ties with "Rick and Morty" co-creator Justin Roiland on Tuesday, following news that he was awaiting trial on felony domestic violence charges......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchJan 24th, 2023

: Adult Swim cuts ties with ‘Rick and Morty’ co-creator Justin Roiland after domestic-abuse charges

Adult Swim cut its ties with "Rick and Morty" co-creator Justin Roiland on Tuesday, following news that he was awaiting trial on felony domestic violence charges......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchJan 25th, 2023

: Adult Swim cuts ties with ‘Rick and Morty’ co-creator Justin Roiland after domestic abuse charges

Adult Swim cut its ties with "Rick and Morty" co-creator Justin Roiland on Tuesday, following news that he was awaiting trial on felony domestic violence charges......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchJan 24th, 2023

Futures Rise For A Second Day As Volumes Plummet

Futures Rise For A Second Day As Volumes Plummet US stocks were set to rise for a second straight day on Wednesday with risk appetite staging a modest comeback amid dismal trading volumes as investors digested the hawkish turn from major central banks over the past week. S&P 500 futures were up 0.5% at 7:30 am ET, while Nasdaq futures gained 0.2%. The dollar reversed earlier losses, while global bonds steadied from the previous day’s selloff as some of the shock following the Bank of Japan’s unexpected increase in its yield trading band ebbed; the US 10Y yield held steady around 3.67%. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 index snapped a four-day losing streak although the Nasdaq 100 fell for a fifth day in its longest stretch of declines since October, as higher-for-longer interest rates continued to weigh on sentiment. Major US tech and internet stocks are modestly higher on Wednesday, as global bonds steadied from the previous day’s selloff. Bank stocks are also higher in thin premarket trading putting them on track to gain for a second straight day after snapping a four-day losing streak. In corporate news, Core Scientific became the latest crypto company to file for bankruptcy as the industry reckons with a plunge in digital asset prices. Here are the biggest premarket movers: Nike shares jump 13% as analysts hiked their price targets after its quarterly sales beat estimates. They said the robust update demonstrated the brand’s strength despite a tough macroeconomic backdrop. Tesla shares gain as much as 2.1% after Elon Musk confirmed that he will resign as CEO of social-media firm Twitter when a successor is found and focus on engineering teams, amid worries that the billionaire is spreading himself thin between the companies. Cathie Wood ramped up purchases of Tesla shares in the fourth quarter, despite rising concerns over Musk’s ability to manage businesses FedEx shares climb 4.2% after its second-quarter earnings beat analysts’ estimates as price increases and cost cuts offset weakening demand trends. Alphabet shares rise as much as 0.9% along with other big tech stocks, with Evercore analysts saying that, while they still see the Google parent as “highly attractive” for long-term investors, they are lowering their estimates and price target amid ongoing weakness in demand for online advertising and cloud computing. Starbucks stock declines 0.8% after it was downgraded to hold at Jefferies. The brokerage overall maintains a positive view on the US restaurant and foodservice distribution sector, but turns more selective to reflect greater chance of a recession in 2023, also downgrading Brinker and Red Robin to hold and upgrading Chefs’ Warehouse to buy. Adaptive Biotechnologies shares jump 8.2% after the disease-testing instruments maker is upgraded to overweight from neutral at Piper Sandler on broker’s optimism about the company’s minimal residual disease business and potential catalysts in immune medicine in 2023. Morgan Stanley analysts led by Vikram Purohit assumed coverage of Halozyme Therapeutics with a recommendation of overweight, citing attractive “defensive properties.” Dust started to settle on Japan’s shock decision to raise the upper limit of its 10-year bond yield, though the move has set in motion wagers the BOJ will join its peers next year in raising interest rates. Already, surging yields have shrunk the worldwide stock of negative-yielding debt to about $686 billion, from a $18.4 trillion peak reached two years ago. This number is likely to drop further as Japanese two-year yields rose above zero for the first time since 2015 and the 10-year benchmark approached the new upper yield limit, forcing the BOJ to step in with a bond-buying operation. Treasury yields were flat after surging 20 basis points this week. For Japanese investors, however, the latest policy move may change their calculus for the better. With the yields they can earn on domestic bonds suddenly more attractive, they may look to repatriate some of $3 trillion that Bloomberg data shows is held in foreign equities and debt. “Japanese buyers are already overweight dollar cash and other currencies. They will use it to buy yen and Japanese government bonds as domestic yields rise,” Deutsche Bank strategist George Saravelos told clients, predicting currency markets to see the biggest impact. In key US news, Ukraine chief comedian and president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, visits DC today and Joe Biden will unveil almost $2 billion in Ukraine aid. Zelenskiy's first trip abroad since the invasion will include a prime-time address to Congress. His plea for more advanced weapons is set to be answered with a Patriot missile battery, a significant boost in US support. Elon Musk confirmed he'll step down as CEO after he finds a successor, though he plans to retain control over the engineering teams. Musk said Twitter was on course to have negative cash flow of $3 billion before recent cost-cutting measures. It's now poised to post revenue of $3 billion, next year, he said, and should reach cash flow breakeven too.   Sam Bankman-Fried will be flown to the US from the Bahamas today to face criminal charges linked to the FTX implosion. He'll be escorted by FBI agents on a private plane, a person familiar said. His legal team is in talks with prosecutors about a possible bail deal, which could include home detention or electronic monitoring, the NYT reported. While December is traditionally a good month for stock performance, with the S&P 500 index gaining 1.2% on average over the past 30 years and declining just 14 times over the past 50 years, this December is proving to be an exception, and is set to be one of the worst final months of the year for the US benchmark since 1957, as pressure from hawkish central banks and recession risks weigh on the gauge. The S&P 500 has dropped about 6% this month — on par with the losses it sustained in December 2002; only December 2018’s 9% decline was bigger. “When we look at the equity market response to these incremental monetary policy moves, it always strains belief that we should see future repricing of equity market on the back of what are relatively small central bank moves — even the ECB move,  said Wouter Sturkenboom, Northern Trust Asset Management chief investment strategist for EMEA & APAC. “We were a little surprised the US equity market responded as strongly as it did.” Global bond yields surged this week after the Bank of Japan unexpectedly increased its yield trading band. The moved followed a surprisingly hawkish tone from the European Central Bank last week. With the 2Y JGB yield rising above 0%, the stock of negative yielding debt is about to drop to zero. “Even if questions remain about where the Federal Reserve will finally drive borrowing rates, a lot of the 2022 bearish leverages have been already priced-in and we expect stock markets to stabilise following this year’s sell-off,” said Pierre Veyret, technical analyst at ActivTrades. “That said, investors will need further evidence of Fed chairman Jerome Powell’s economic “soft landing” to drive equities to new highs.” European stocks followed US futures and rebounded from a six-week low with all sectors rising as low average volumes show holiday trading pattern is materializing. In Europe, retailers, real estate and energy are the strongest performing sectors. Euro Stoxx 50 rises 0.9%. S&P futures and Nasdaq contracts rise 0.5% each. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Tremor International shares rise as much as 11% after a Sky News report that the digital-ad company is exploring a sale and is working with Goldman Sachs bankers to solicit interest. Interparfums shares rise as much as 8% to their highest since March after the French perfume maker announced a deal to develop and market all perfume and cosmetics lines under the Lacoste brand. Philips shares rise as much as 5.5% after the Dutch maker of medical devices provided an encouraging update on tests to assess the safety of its DreamStation sleep-therapy devices. Adidas and Puma shares gain more than 9% after Nike’s robust quarterly sales update that beat expectations in all regions except for China. Avio plunges as much as 11% after the Italian space company said an anomaly occurred on the VV22 satellite-launch flight, leading to the loss of the mission. Billerud falls as much as 5.4%, extending losses into a third day, after DNB cut its recommendation to hold from buy, seeing “tailwinds turning into headwinds” with higher cost inflation and “evidence of softer prices.” Earlier in the session, Asian stocks headed for a fifth session of declines, as traders assessed adjustments to monetary policy in Japan and a jump in Covid cases in China. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed after moving between a gain of 0.4% and a loss of 0.3%. While industrial and tech shares weighed on the gauge, Australian miners provided support on higher gold prices. Japanese banks gained after the Bank of Japan doubled its yield cap on Tuesday, although benchmarks fell. Moves across the region were driven by thin trading into year-end, with benchmarks in China and Hong Kong inching back from a two-day fall. In addition, a surge in Covid infections in China has affected trading desks. India stocks led losses in the region. Looking ahead, traders will keep an eye on US consumption data out Thursday. “With the recent Federal Reserve meeting bringing about an upward revision in US core PCE forecasts in 2023, the data will be looked upon to reflect the pace at which pricing pressures moderate,” Jun Rong Yeap, market strategist at IG Asia, wrote in a note Japanese stocks fell for a fifth day after the Bank of Japan doubled its cap on 10-year yields, sparking a jump in the yen. The Topix fell 0.6% to close at 1,893.32, while the Nikkei declined 0.7% to 26,387.72. The yen retreated slightly against the dollar after surging almost 4% Tuesday. Toyota Motor Corp. contributed the most to the Topix decline, decreasing 2%. Out of 2,163 stocks in the index, 452 rose and 1,631 fell, while 80 were unchanged.  Prospects of higher yields pushed the Topix Banks Index up 2.6%, adding to the gauge’s jump of more than 5% on Tuesday. The measure was the biggest gainer among the benchmark’s industry groups while automakers, real estate and tech extended declines. “The effects of the BOJ’s surprise move are still lingering,” said Shogo Maekawa, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. “While banking and insurance stocks continue to rise, sectors like real estate that are negatively impacted by rising interest rates, and stocks exposed to the strong yen are falling.” India stocks fell to a one-month low, erasing early gains, as risk-off mood weighed on the domestic market. The S&P BSE Sensex fell 1% to 61,067.24, the lowest since Nov. 10, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index declined by a similar measure.  Investor sentiment is worsening due to global concerns, including Bank of Japan’s surprise hawkish tilt, and rising Covid cases in China, said Jayesh Bhanushali, assistant vice president at IIFL Securities. Foreign investors have been adding fresh short positions in index futures and “there is panic in the market as global economic outlook is bleak,” he said. India’s health minister held a review meeting to look into the country’s covid situation, and has asked officials to stay alert. Of the BSE Ltd.’s 19 sectoral gauges, all but 2 fell, with an index of healthcare-related stocks rising 2.3%. Reliance Industries Ltd. contributed the most to the index’s decline, decreasing 1.4%.  In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot reversed earlier losses and gain  modestly as most Group-of-10 peers were steady against the greenback, with the exception of the pound and the New Zealand dollar. NZD and GBP are the weakest performers in G-10 FX, NOK and AUD outperform. Yen trades around 131.80 per dollar. The pound underperformed most of its G-10 peers as data released Wednesday showed UK government borrowing surged in November. The budget deficit stood at £22 billion ($26.8 billion) –- the highest monthly total in records stretching back to 1993 and almost triple the £8.1 billion reading a year ago. UK business confidence rose at the fastest rate in 20 months as labor market pressures showed signs of easing, the festive trading period exceeded expectations and businesses became more optimistic about the outlook for the economy Japan’s longer-dated benchmark bond yields extended yesterday’s surge and the 10-year yield climbed toward the central bank’s new 0.5% cap as speculation deepened that the BOJ will push forward with policy normalization. The yen steadied near the strongest level in more than four months against the dollar In rates, treasuries are slightly richer across the curve with gains led by front-end, extending steepening momentum of 2s10s, 5s30s spreads which trade through Tuesday highs. The 2-year Treasury yield shed 3bps while longer segment of the curve was steady, making the 2-10-year segment the steepest in five weeks. 10-year yields were around 3.68%, flat vs. Tuesday's close and outperforming gilts by 2.5bp — bunds trade broadly inline; front-end outperformance steepens 2s10s, 5s30s spreads by 1.8bp and 2.8bp on the day with 5s30s topping through -2bp and widest since Dec. 1. Bund yields steadied after the jump in longer dated global yields yesterday following the BOJ’s surprise tweak to its yield curve control. The Italian curve bull-steepened as yields fell 6-8bps. Gilts underperformed USTs and bunds at the 10-year mark. Peripheral spreads tighten to Germany with 10y BTP/Bund narrowing 6.1bps to 210.6bps. In commodities, WTI drifts 1.1% higher to trade near $77, rising for a third session. Spot gold falls roughly $5 to trade near $1,813/oz. Iron ore rose for a second day as China’s abrupt Covid Zero reversal and a steady stream of supportive policies improved the likelihood of a recovery in the housing sector. Amyris is among the most active resources stocks in premarket trading, gaining 2%.  To the day ahead now, and data releases include the US Conference Board’s consumer confidence reading for December, as well as November’s existing home sales and the Canadian CPI reading for November. A 20-year bond auction is scheduled for 1pm New York. Finally, we get the latest earnings from Micron Technology. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.4% to 3,865.00 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.9% to 427.80 MXAP little changed at 155.41 MXAPJ up 0.2% to 502.40 Nikkei down 0.7% to 26,387.72 Topix down 0.6% to 1,893.32 Hang Seng Index up 0.3% to 19,160.49 Shanghai Composite down 0.2% to 3,068.41 Sensex down 1.0% to 61,089.36 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.3% to 7,115.09 Kospi down 0.2% to 2,328.95 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.29% Euro little changed at $1.0626 Brent Futures up 1.1% to $80.84/bbl Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,815.26 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 103.98 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg In a span of 18 hours last week, years of rigid intransigence from the European Union’s two most rebellious nations started to break. First Hungary and then Poland agreed to fix their democracies’ shortcomings in exchange for gaining access to billions of euros of the bloc’s funds. If they make good on those promises, it will also be a testament to the new-found powers of the bond market The Russian exodus triggered by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has put the currencies of former Soviet republics at the top of global rankings this year. Georgia and Armenia in the Caucasus mountains, as well as Tajikistan in Central Asia, are among the best performers against the US dollar after tens of thousands of Russian citizens settled there since February, bringing the equivalent of billions of dollars in savings with them The BOJ’s shock decision to tweak its yield-curve control ceiling has boosted policy-normalization bets, fueled expectations for higher and more volatile yields and may also damp demand for US Treasuries Japan’s investors are fleeing Treasuries at an unprecedented pace, and central bank Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s policy shift may reinforce the trend which is bringing a global era of negative yields closer to an end BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is facing mounting criticism over his latest shock policy decision, with several prominent economists calling it a blow to BOJ credibility and traders rushing to test the central bank’s new red line on bond yields The BOJ’s policy adjustments could be the first step toward an exit from its decade-long aggressive monetary easing, according to Takatoshi Ito, a contender to succeed Governor Haruhiko Kuroda China’s broad budget deficit hit a record so far this year, showing how damaging the now abandoned Covid Zero policy and the ongoing housing slump have been to the economy and to the government’s finances A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mixed following a mostly positive lead from Wall Street and with news flow on the quieter side. ASX 200 outperformed and was lifted by gains across gold miners after the yellow metal topped USD 1,800/oz. Nikkei 225 remained pressured by the recent JPY strengthening, whilst the region overlooked reports that Japan maintained its overall economic view in December. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp gave up earlier gains but remained within tight parameters Top Asian News China reported zero new COVID deaths in the mainland on Dec 20th vs five a day earlier; reported 3,101 new COVID cases in the mainland on Dec 20th vs 2,722 a day earlier. "China will no longer take measures to isolate people from overseas and go to isolation facilities from January 3, 2023" according to HKSTV; "The policy optimized to 0+3 also means that China will fully open up from 2023 in the new year." China's Foreign Ministry says, on their plan to improve quarantine for overseas travellers, they will provide more convenience when appropriate. PBoC injected CNY 19bln via 7-day reverse repos with the rate maintained at 2.00%; injects CNY 141bln via 14-day reverse repos with the rate maintained at 2.15%; daily net injection CNY 158bln. China State Planner is holding a meeting to study measures to deal with excessive hog price decline, according to Reuters. Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi is to delay his trip to China to late-January or later, according to TV Asahi. Japan maintained its overall economic view in December; the economy is recovering moderately, said Japan needs to pay close attention to China's COVID situation, via Reuters. Japanese Economy Minister Goto acknowledged that the BoJ's Tuesday decision was not meant to be a tweak or exit from monetary policy, according to Reuters. IMF said the BoJ's YCC tweak is "a sensible step", according to Reuters. Japanese government to set assumed interest rate at a record low of 1.1% for compilation of FY23/24 budget, according to Reuters sources. South Korean Finance Minister sees 2023 GDP growth at 1.6% (vs 2022 estimate of 2.5%) and 2023 CPI growth at 3.5% (vs 2022 estimate of 5.1%), according to Reuters. European bourses have eked out a marginal extension of their initial upside, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.9%, with both newsflow and the schedule ahead sparse. Sectors are firmer across the board, with outperformance in Retail post-Nike and in Real Estate after recent pronounced pressure. Stateside, futures are similarly bid, ES +0.6%, with specific ex-corporate updates focused on gov't funding & Ukraine. FedEx (FDX) Q2 23 (USD): Adj. EPS 3.18 (exp. 2.80), Revenue 22.8bln (exp. 23.7bln). FY23 capex view cut by 400mln to 5.9bln. Cost reduction initiatives accelerated, identifies additional 1bln above Sept. forecast. Weak profit guidance. Nike Inc (NKE) Q3 2022 (USD): EPS 0.85 (exp. 0.65), Revenue 13.32bln (exp. 12.57bln). North America 5.83bln (exp. 5.35bln). Greater China 1.79bln (1.81bln). Executive expects FY revenue to grow in the low teens in constant currency (prev. low double-digit growth); expects around 700bps of FX headwinds. Executive says North American Black Friday and Cyber Week performance set highs for demand and traffic; in Greater China, demand grew mid-teens outpacing the sports industry. Top European News Interparfums Jumps to March Highs After Lacoste License Deal Tremor International Jumps After Sky Report It’s Exploring Sale Shell Says Exports Resume at Prelude LNG Plant in Australia Greece’s Gas Grid Eyes Links to New LNG Facilities, CEO Says Russia and Iran Are Building a Trade Route That Defies Sanctions Geopolitics Naval exercises of Russia and China with practical rocket and artillery firing will start in the East China Sea on Wednesday, according to Interfax. IAEA Chief Grossi is to visit Russia on Thursday, according to a Russian diplomat. FX DXY has managed to attain an incremental foothold at 104.00, with peers generally contained in tight ranges given the limited newsflow. However, NZD is the stand-out laggard and below 0.63 after poor domestic data. JPY has finally run out of impetus and USD/JPY has paused for breath towards the lower-end of 131.51-132.36 parameters. EUR, CHF and CAD all reside in sub 50-pip ranges at present. While GBP is marginally softer after the ONS reported the highest borrowing requirement for November on record. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 6.9650 vs exp. 6.9644 (prev. 6.9861) Fixed Income An early recovery bounce has seemingly run out of steam ahead of US 20yr supply, with Bunds and Gilts fading from respective 136.00+ and 101.50+ peaks. Stateside, USTs are directionally in-fitting and similarly contained pre-supply, the curve is steepening slightly but with yields mixed. BoJ unscheduled operation: offered to buy JPY 100bln in 3-5yr JGBs and JPY 100bln in 5-10yr JGBs, according to Reuters. Commodities A contained session for the crude complex, with the benchmarks within sub-USD 2/bbl parameters in limited newsflow. A modest extension to fresh peaks occurred in proximity to commentary from the Russian Defence Ministry that oil tanks were destroyed in Kharvic, Ukraine. US Private Inventories (bbls): Crude -3.1mln (exp. -1.7mln), Cushing +0.84mln, Gasoline +4.5mln (exp. +2.1mln). Distillate +0.828mln (exp. +0.3mln). Indonesia is to ban the export of bauxite from June 2023; a move to encourage the development of onshore bauxite processing, according to the Indonesian President, according to Reuters. Russia decreased oil exports by 11% M/M between Dec 1-20th, according to Kommersant. India has imposed anti-dumping duty on stainless steel tubes and pipe imports from China for five years, according to a government notification. Spot gold is little changed overall but has experienced some very modest pressure as the DXY continues to scramble for a foothold at 104.00 and broader equity/crude upside advances somewhat from initial levels. US Event Calendar 07:00: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior 3.2% 08:30: 3Q Current Account Balance, est. -$222b, prior -$251.1b 10:00: Dec. Conf. Board Consumer Confidence, est. 101.0, prior 100.2 Expectations, prior 75.4 Present Situation, prior 137.4 10:00: Nov. Existing Home Sales MoM, est. -5.2%, prior -5.9% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap If there's anyone still out there, hopefully your hearts will be slightly warmed by the Christmas miracle we've had at home. My 7-year-old daughter Maisie, who has been battling a very rare hip disease called Perthes for over 2 years, went for her 4-monthly scan and check up on Monday. The X-ray showed that her hip ball was now in the process of regrowing and after 14 months of being in a wheelchair, and after a major operation, is now allowed to start walking and running again. My wife was in tears as she rung me from the hospital, and I must admit I did shed at least one tear too. She is still not allowed to jump until the regrowth stage develops further but that's academic relative to the main news. We'll have to wait and see how close to normal she'll be as she goes through her childhood. The best case is probably a relatively normal life until she needs hip replacement at some point as an adult. Given I need two new knees that's not the end of the world. Despite 14 months in a wheelchair, she's so far outperforming the average of kids with this condition, and we can only think her love of swimming has helped as this is the only activity she could do. She's been going 3-4 times a week for a year now. If she hated swimming we would probably be in a far worse position now. So a lovely Christmas present for all the family. The only drawback is that arguments in the car over the last 14 months have been reduced as having accessible parking rights have allowed us to park in big easy-to-get-in spaces. Now we'll have to go back to tight spaces again and a lot of shouting at each other as opinions differ as to whether the other person is parking well or not. Just as we were driving home for Christmas, the BoJ news that Henry brought you yesterday has continued to reverberate around financial markets over the last 24 hours. The biggest move was that the Japanese Yen saw its largest daily gain of the 21st century so far against the US Dollar, with a +3.93% move higher that’s unrivalled since 1998. The yen is now trading at 132.22 per dollar, which is somewhat off its peak of 130.58 yesterday afternoon, but still a very large gain having been above 137 prior to the BoJ’s announcement. Japanese equities are also continuing to struggle, with the Nikkei underperforming other indices in Asia this morning with a -0.68% decline, whilst yields have climbed further overnight, with the 10yr Japanese government bond yield up +7.1bps to 0.48%. As a reminder, the big surprise was the change in the yield curve control policy, which has a target for the 10yr JGB yield to remain around zero. Previously, the BoJ committed to keeping that yield within a band of 0.25 percentage points either side of zero, and would conduct purchases as necessary to keep it in that range. But yesterday that band was doubled to 0.5 percentage points either side, removing the effective cap on yields that had kept them from moving above the 0.25% mark. Adrian Cox, Henry Allen and our chief Japan economist Kentaro Koyama have this morning put out the latest in our "101 series", aimed at explaining specialist topics to generalists, on the yield curve control move. See it here. The BoJ’s announcement served as the catalyst for a fresh selloff globally, with sovereign bonds slumping across the world. That’s because the BoJ’s decision has several broader implications. For instance, if it does mark the start of a move away from ultra-loose monetary policy in Japan, then that could see Japanese investors shed their foreign bond-holdings in favour of domestic ones that now attract a higher yield. Indeed, yesterday’s decision prompted growing speculation that we could see a BoJ rate hike at some point in 2023. And if the prospect of that still seems absurd, just remember it was only last December that ECB President Lagarde said “it is very unlikely that we will raise interest rates in the year 2022”, and they’ve since done 250bps worth of hikes. We’ve also seen a big reduction in the quantity of global debt with a negative yield following the BoJ’s move, with Bloomberg’s index down to $686bn yesterday, which is down from $14tn only a year ago, and a peak above $18tn in late-2020. In terms of what happens now, our chief Japan economist Kentaro is of the view (link here) that the uptrend in underlying inflation and the upcoming change of leadership at the BoJ (Governor Kuroda’s term ends early next year) mean that there’s certainly the possibility of another policy revision. A key factor will be the shunto wage talks in the spring, where a wage hike of over 3% could trigger a further move towards policy normalisation. Our main scenario at present looks for a withdrawal of YCC in Q3 2023 on the assumption of high wage growth. In the meantime, our rates strategists have written about the implications for their views (link here). Yields spiked across the globe after the move with those on 10yr Treasuries up +9.8bps to 3.68%, and this morning they’ve risen a further +2.6bps to +3.71% as we go to print. The rise in yields was most pronounced at the long-end of the curve, meaning that the 2s10s steepened +9.8bps yesterday to -57.7bps, which is the first time in over a month it’s closed above -60bps. Meanwhile in Europe, it was the 5th day running that sovereign bonds lost ground, with yields on 10yr bunds (+10.1bps), OATs (+12.1bps) and BTPs (+9.4bps) all seeing sizeable increases once again. French bonds have been a favourite of Japanese investors so that might explain the relative weakness. For equities there was a less consistent pattern, with a number of the major indices swinging between gains and losses throughout the day. By the close the S&P 500 (+0.10%) was up for the first time in the last 5 sessions. Energy (+1.52%) was the best performing industry yesterday, with Media (+0.83%) and Materials (+0.65%) also performing. The NASDAQ was marginally better than unchanged (+0.01%), breaking a 4-day slide of its own, whilst the VIX volatility index fell -1.0pt on the day to 21.5 as the entire volatility curve fell back. Meanwhile in Asia overnight, Japanese equities are underperforming as mentioned at the top, but elsewhere we’ve seen a similar pattern to the US of modest gains and losses, including for the CSI 300 (+0.05%), the Hang Seng (+0.23%), the Shanghai Comp (-0.19%) and the Kospi (-0.18%). In Europe the performance was more negative however, with the US afternoon rally coming after Europe had closed, and leaving the STOXX 600 down -0.40%. There were two major off-cycle earnings announcements after the US close with FedEx (+4.8% in after-mkt trading) beating analysts’ estimates, as price increases and cost savings counteracted declines in package volumes. The company projected lower costs, but also lower demand over the next fiscal year. At the same time, Nike (+12.8% in after-mkt trading) rose sharply as high quarterly sales and gross margins overcame another quarter of inventory buildup. While margins have been compressed by inventories, they have not been less than initially feared. As we look toward next year, the build of inventories is a key area of concerns for retailers as demand slows. Helped by those earnings, US equities futures are extending their gains with contracts on the S&P 500 up +0.47% this morning. Looking at yesterday’s data, there was a bit of respite on the inflation side, with German PPI in November falling to +28.2% year-on-year (vs. +31.1% expected), which is its lowest level since February. Over in the US, data on housing starts showed a modest decline in November to an annualised rate of 1.427m (vs. 1.4m expected), with building permits seeing a much sharper decline to an annualised 1.342m (vs. 1.48m expected). There was weakness in both single family and multi-family housing permits but excluding the pandemic period, single family permits were at their weakest levels since 2016. To the day ahead now, and data releases include the US Conference Board’s consumer confidence reading for December, as well as November’s existing home sales and the Canadian CPI reading for November. Finally, earnings releases include Micron Technology. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/21/2022 - 08:07.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 21st, 2022

The divorce lawyer who"s represented Johnny Depp, Kim K, and Angelina Jolie charges $1,000 an hour and says tough love is how she gets things done

"I have a tattoo. I'm not going to judge them if they say, 'I was out smoking my bong and the nanny caught me,'" Laura Wasser, 54, said. Laura Wasser.Joanna DeGeneres Laura Wasser is a divorce lawyer whose clients have included Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Wasser said being a woman in a male-dominated field helped her get clients and gain their trust. She's rumored to be the inspiration for Laura Dern's character in "Marriage Story." Ask one of the most high-profile celebrity-divorce attorneys in Los Angeles about her career choice, and she will shrug and say it's a role she was born to fill."I'm Laura Allison Wasser, so my initials are LAW, and both my parents are attorneys," she told Insider. "But when they asked, 'Are you going to be a lawyer?' I said, 'Never.' But I went to clerk for my daddy for the summer because I needed the money, and frankly, I fell in love with it."Since that fateful stint after college, Wasser, now 54, has been tapped by a who's who of A-list celebrities to handle their uncouplings via her Century City firm, Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles.She brokered Kelly Clarkson's contentious divorce and worked with Angelina Jolie (at least for a while) and Johnny Depp in cases against Brad Pitt and Amber Heard, respectively. Wasser also helped Kim Kardashian cut ties with a husband not once but twice: first Kris Humphries and then Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.Other past clients include Christina Aguilera, Patricia Arquette, Maria Shriver, and Dr. Dre. She said her client base was about 50% male and 50% female but that she usually represented the financial engine of any uncoupling — it's no wonder TMZ dubbed her "the disso queen" for her deft dissolution of headline-grabbing marriages.Her hourly rate is $1,000. Many celebrity-adjacent providers will offer discounts to boldface names to land their business — but not Wasser."I get it. I understand. But it doesn't really help my brand to have represented a celebrity," she said.She still lives in LA, where she grew up, with her two sons — from separate former boyfriends, neither of whom she married. She was married once, though."Very briefly, when I was 25 and in my second year of law school," she said. "I keep in touch more with his family than I do with him. It lasted about 14 months, and when we split up, we didn't have anything except debt and a pit bull named Raul."She shared how she got started and what it's like working for unhappy A-listers.She was the ideal divorce lawyer, even if she didn't know it at firstWasser was brought up in Beverly Hills, California, where she graduated from the school that served as inspiration for West Beverly Hills High School on "90210." Divorces among her elite peers' parents were commonplace, she said, and often handled by her father, Dennis (Wasser's own parents split amicably when she was 16; her mother died in 2019)."You'd go to someone's bar mitzvah and say, 'You're Dennis Wasser's daughter,' and they'd say, 'You're at that table,' according to whether my dad had represented the mom or the dad," she said.She pinballed around the world for high school and college — a stint at a boarding school in Switzerland, a year out working in Australia — before returning home for the clerking gig with her father. She'd majored in rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, and realized quickly that what she'd loved most about those studies was vital in divorce cases, as was her age and gender."It's about listening to people's problems and figuring out the narrative to solve them," she said. "And I was 25 when not a lot of younger people were doing this kind of law. It was just older men, so I got into it representing young people who were able to relate to a younger female, not some old guy in a suit."I have a tattoo. I'm not going to judge them if they say, 'I was out smoking my bong and the nanny caught me.'"She added that her temperament was well suited to episodic legal work, rather than ongoing cases."I have a bit of ADD, so I deal with clients for six to 18 months, and then it's, 'Bye!'" she said. "I guess that's why I'm doing this. One of my exes is an entertainment lawyer, and they're on a commission, negotiating how many air tickets are included in a contract. It just sounds dreadful. I'm in, out, and move on to meeting new people." She says her fame was forged by the rise of 24/7 celebrity-news cyclesIt was two almost simultaneous cases that propelled Wasser to the status of A-list lawyer: a palimony case involving her client Stevie Wonder and, more notably, the divorce of Kevin Federline and Britney Spears, which was filed in November 2006. Spears' then-entertainment lawyer connected Wasser with his client before the wedding."He said, 'We need someone to go in and speak to her almost like a big sister because she doesn't think she needs a prenup because she's in love,'" she said. "It was, 'You're young. You can relate. Can you talk to her?'"Naturally, when the marriage unraveled, it was Wasser to whom Spears and her team turned (though the singer later opted to work with a different divorce lawyer, TMZ reported).These two cases coincided, Wasser said, with the rise of the 24-hour celebrity-news cycle: TMZ's TV incarnation debuted in September 2007 and was an instant hit as the highest-rated new show in syndication within a month. In summer that year, Perez Hilton said his celebrity-trolling site hit almost 9 million views a day.Family cases like these are in the public domain in California, she added, so they were catnip for traffic-chasing celeb sites — and Wasser's fame grew in the backwash of her clients. Amid this torrent of interest, her policy of never discussing the details of any case helped shore up her reputation with well-known prospective clients."For the record, we at the firm have a policy that we will not discuss cases or give quotes — even if the clients ask us to," she said, adding that she wouldn't hesitate to ditch even an A-lister if they tried to embroil her in the media battle around their split.Wasser also turns down clients who won't listen to her counsel, a new experience for many wealthy celebrities."They are used to being told, 'Yes — yes, we will make that happen,'" she said. "That's because they're feeding a lot of mouths: Their agent gets 10%, their manager 15%, their attorneys 5% of what they earn. I bill by the hour, so I am happy to say no if I feel like they're not hearing the reality of their situation."Straight-talking tough love like that is refreshing in contentious battles, she added."We don't do unrealistic expectations. We don't do crazy," she said. "I don't need to make money out of people who are bananas, just get in and out with reasonableness."Her business has a slightly different rhythm to that of many divorce lawyers, whose peak season is typically January and February, often as a result of unhappy holiday seasons."When we are getting near Oscar season, we may have clients or their reps say, 'Let's hold on to this until after we walk the red carpet,'" she said.Drugs used to be the worst accusation leveled against a soon-to-be ex-spouse. Now there's a new tactic.Wasser said celebrities could avoid publicity around their splits, should they so choose. There's a discreet entrance at Los Angeles Superior Court, for example, where they can avoid paparazzi stampedes — a problem, she said, "whenever there's a Kardashian." The COVID-19-era practice of remote hearings has helped, too, since celebrities don't need to appear in-person.Wasser is particularly proud of the splits she's handled that became public only when they concluded. It's easier to be discreet, she said, if the parties are truly amicable or if they have a lifestyle that includes bases beyond California's boundaries."As long as you meet residency requirements, you can get divorced there, and a lot of it goes under the radar," she said, citing states like Montana and Wyoming, which have more stringent privacy laws around such splits.Sometimes a case can be resolved only in court, and it falls to Wasser to prep performers for their time on the stand. Perhaps surprisingly, it isn't actors who stand out in this forum."Some of my best clients are athletes because they take direction the best — they say, 'OK, coach,' and do exactly what they're supposed to do," she said. "And the most emotional and all over the place? That's the musicians, especially the male ones, who will always be in tears on the stands. That rock 'n' roll guy who will go off on a 10-minute guitar riff, on the stand, he'll go through an entire box of Kleenex."Drugs used to be the nuclear option wielded against a well-known figure by a dissatisfied spouse — a threat to reveal pictures or stories involving them could emerge in contentious cases."Now if it's legal, like marijuana, and he or she is smoking, and the kids aren't with them, most judicial officers don't really care," she said. "A picture of a rolled joint? It's OK, whatever." Instead, allegations of abuse have become the most toxic tactic in terms of damaging reputations."That's a huge source of extortion," she said. "If you're representing the famous, or the more famous, person, and the other is accusing you of domestic violence, you have to get on top of that in the court of public opinion. They'll try you long before a judicial officer ever does." Wasser added: "It was right around 2016, the first famous case of that. Now you get a lot of other copycats." (Notably, Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt that year, and her claims included abusive behavior on his part.)Wasser's happy to remain out of the spotlight, despite her fameWasser's A-list clientele has turned her into a minor celebrity herself. She's a spokesperson for Divorce.com, the do-it-yourself split site, as its chief of divorce evolution and has hosted several podcasts, including "All's Fair with Laura Wasser" and "Divorce Sucks! With Laura Wasser," where one guest was the Kardashian momager and matriarch Kris Jenner.Rumor has it that Wasser also provided the real-life inspiration for Laura Dern's character in the 2019 Netflix movie "Marriage Story," and the watertight "Massey prenup" in "Intolerable Cruelty," the Coen brothers' 2003 rom-com, was apparently based on one drafted by Wasser on clients' behalf, The New Yorker reported.But she's glad her profile is much lower than those of many of the people she represents."I don't socialize with most of my clients. I'm with them going into and leaving court," she said. "I'm not crazy about the celebrity because I grew up here in LA. If I had wanted to be famous, I would have taken a different path."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 1st, 2022

The 2022 election disaster that wasn"t: The system worked and Trump-backed candidates are conceding

Though there are some notable holdouts, most Trump-endorsed election deniers conceded after their races were called. Donald Trump at a rally in Minden, Nevada, on October 8, 2022.José Luis Villegas/AP The run-up to Election Day 2022 was marred by fears of chaos and refusals to concede. A slew of Trump-backed candidates who rejected the legitimacy of the 2020 election were on the ballot. But those fears turned out to be overblown: there were few voting-related glitches and many Trump-endorsed candidates have conceded. Late into the night on Election Day 2020, then-President Donald Trump took to the White House podium and declared victory against the advice of his own campaign manager."Frankly, we did win this election," Trump said, despite the fact that millions of votes were still being counted and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, had taken the lead in several key states.Trump spent the next two months whipping his base into a frenzy that culminated in thousands of angry Trump supporters laying siege to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. At least five people died as a result.This year, there were fears of renewed chaos as Trump — banished from social media in the wake of the Capitol riot but still very much the focus of national attention — positioned himself as GOP kingmaker, handing out endorsements to candidates he viewed as promising, many of whom echoed his false claims that the 2020 election was illegitimate.Concerns that Election Day 2022 would be marred by disputes and denials multiplied as many of those candidates either lost their races or were locked in races that were too close to call. Trump himself fanned the flames by taking to his social media site, Truth Social, on Tuesday to spread bogus claims of voter fraud in Michigan.But it turns out fears of widespread election-related chaos and violence were overblown.Election Day went smoothly, and while there were minor issues in places like Maricopa County, Arizona, they were quickly identified and resolved and there were no broader infrastructure problems. Taking a lesson from the 2020 election, cybersecurity and election security officials also stepped up efforts to combat disinformation related to this year's midterms.And as CNN reported, even the judiciary played a role when a federal judge issued a ruling earlier this month cracking down on an election-monitoring group's activities around polling centers in Arizona that were criticized as intimidating voters.Crucially, many of Trump's handpicked candidates conceded defeat when their races were called.On Wednesday, Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon's campaign put out a statement saying she had called Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer "to concede and wish her well." She went on to thank her supporters and said that "we came up short, but we will never stop fighting for our families."Matthew DePerno, the Republican candidate for Michigan attorney general whose platform included "[prosecuting] the people who corrupted the 2020 election and allowed fraud to permeate the entire election system," also conceded to Democratic incumbent Dana Nessel on Wednesday."Although I may be conceding to Dana Nessel today, I refuse to concede that Michigan is a blue state," DePerno wrote on Twitter.Over in Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz, the celebrity doctor and political neophyte who landed Trump's endorsement in his bid for a Senate seat, conceded to his Democratic opponent, John Fetterman, after the race was called for Fetterman."This morning I called John Fetterman and congratulated him," Oz said in a statement Wednesday morning. "I wish him and his family all the best, both personally and as our next United States Senator."There are still some key holdouts, however, and several races have yet to be called.Doug Mastriano, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, has not conceded as of Thursday morning despite losing by nearly 15 percentage points to Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro.Kristina Karamo, the Republican who mounted a bid to unseat Jocelyn Benson in Michigan's secretary of state election, also hasn't conceded and instead made vague and unsupported claims of voter fraud. She lost to Benson 42% to 55%.In Arizona, the GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake — one of the most vocal and prominent 2020 election deniers — lambasted the "cheaters and crooks" in charge of running elections and expressed confidence that she would win. Roughly 77% of the votes have been counted so far, and Katie Hobbs, the Democratic candidate and Arizona's former secretary of state, is ahead by less than one percent, or a little over 13,000 votes.Concerns about voter intimidation and mob violence increased in the days leading up to midterms and reached a critical point after last month's attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband.Paul Pelosi was asleep at the family's home in San Francisco, California when a man broke in demanding to know "Where is Nancy?" according to court documents. The suspect, David DePape, is facing federal charges of assault and attempted kidnapping. He also faces state charges of attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, and burglary.An FBI affidavit accompanying the federal complaint against DePape said investigators believe he "was prepared to detain and injure Speaker Pelosi when he entered the Pelosi residence" on October 28. He had "zip ties, tape, rope, and at least one hammer with him that morning," it said.A look at DePape's internet and social media activity showed racist and antisemitic rants, as well as conspiracy theories related to the 2020 election, QAnon, the so-called global elites, the death of Jeffrey Epstein, and COVID-19.His shouts upon entering the Pelosis' home — "Where is Nancy?" — also echoed those of the pro-Trump rioters who overran the US Capitol on January 6. And in the immediate aftermath of the attack, far-right figures continued pushing conspiracy theories that were proven false by DePape's own statements to law enforcement officials.Though midterm results are still coming in for some of the tightest races and control of both the House and Senate is undetermined, in the 48 hours since Election Day kicked off, there have been few apparent acts of violence or intimidation.That said, experts warn that it may be too soon to say the US is entirely out of the woods.Indeed, political scientists told Insider's John Haltiwanger that the far-right wing in the US has vilified political opponents to the point that they've become targets of violence and that creates lasting damage."I think it would be a mistake to assume that the threat of violence stops after the midterm elections," Kurt Braddock, an American University professor who studies far-right extremism," told Insider.Chris Krebs, the former head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency who was fired by Trump after the 2020 election, struck a similar tone but expressed optimism about this year's elections."The coming days and possible weeks will provide plenty of opportunity for domestic and foreign actors to continue to undermine our elections and manufacture chaos," Krebs told CNN. "It'll be a real test of our mental toughness, but I'm much more confident today than I was yesterday in our ability to cut through the nonsense and defend democracy."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 10th, 2022

We watched Tucker Carlson"s Jan. 6 documentary so you don"t have to. Here"s why its whitewash of the Capitol insurrection makes no sense.

The documentary has led to resignations among Fox News contributors for glossing over the siege's violence and lionizing its participants. Fox News host and FOX Nation streaming host Tucker Carlson.FOX Nation Tucker Carlson's documentary on the Jan. 6 insurrection is riddled with errors and fallacies. A pair of longtime Fox News contributors recently resigned over the three-part streaming series. The film jumps to shaky conclusions and relies heavily on innuendo, not demonstrated evidence.  In the telling of Tucker Carlson's gloomy documentary, the Jan. 6 Capitol siege was inspired by Capitol Police and FBI informants, and now the US government is using it as a pretext for "hunting" all conservatives — false assertions that omit inconvenient but established facts like the violence committed by rioters and some of their affiliations with hate groups.This erroneous and misleading alternate history has succeeded in stirring more concerns about the increasingly radioactive Fox opinion host, with two longtime network contributors recently resigning over it.Carlson's three-part "Patriot Purge" documentary — which debuted earlier this month on the FOX Nation streaming app — careens between the dreary backdrop of the US military response to Sept. 11, 2001, and the ongoing prosecutions against Americans accused of crimes involving the storming of the Capitol.Also known as comparing apples to oranges, the false equivalence fallacy that plays out during the documentary proposes that if the US government did something to detainees during the War on Terror, then that is what they are either doing now or plan to do following the insurrection.Rather than using evidence to spell out how the two are the same, Carlson just cuts to random examples from the Bush and Obama administrations' use of controversial interrogation and intelligence techniques used against the likes of Al Qaeda and ISIS suspects without proving that the government is acting extra-judiciously against its own citizens.Over and over again, Carlson and his guests repeat that "50%" or "half the country" are being treated the same as Islamic terrorists from groups such as Al Qaeda or ISIS, at once attempting to absolve the insurrectionists and identify his audience with them."January 6th is being used as a pretext to strip millions of Americans — disfavored Americans — of their core constitutional rights, and to defame them as domestic terrorists," Carlson says at the outset of the documentary.The tone, tenor, and content of the documentary diverge significantly from how Fox News has covered the insurrection, which they most often refer to as the "Capitol riot." Save for a few segments in its immediate aftermath, nobody else at Fox News has attempted to portray the attack on the US Capitol as a false flag operation or inside job in the way Carlson does in the documentary.Carlson co-wrote the series with Scooter Downey, a promoter of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and comic book artist whose hero's outfit in "Rebel's Run" closely resembles the Confederate flag.We watched all three parts of the project, which clocks in at a little more than 90 minutes. These are the most forceful claims in it, many of which are either demonstrably false or impossible to disprove as pure speculation.Fox News did not provide a statement in response to Insider's request for comment on Carlson's documentary and his guests.'Part 1' sets the scene for the insurrection supposedly being an inside jobWASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 6: Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.Brent Stirton/Getty ImagesOne line from a guest in the documentary practically sums up its entire narrative structure."Interesting parallel, but it gets even better," one of Carlson's most relied upon interlocutors, Darren Beattie of the right-wing site Revolver.News, says toward the end of part one.Beattie, a former Trump speechwriter who was fired from the White House amid media inquiries about his ties to white nationalists, has appeared on Carlson's cable show several times before. He, along with several other right-wing media personalities, carry most of the explanatory load in the documentary.Unlike in his reporting for Revolver, Beattie uses less couched language while speaking in the documentary. When casting doubt on one of the deceased Capitol Police officers, Beattie drops the "appears to" from his description of bear spray being doused on the late officer Brian Sicknick and implies the rioters didn't attack him at all, omitting the fact that the officer was attacked with pepper spray instead (which he acknowledged in another story for Revolver).Instead of offering that context and explaining how the evidence gathered from the day of the siege was added to over time, Carlson keeps flipping back and forth between B-roll footage from the War on Terror and sympathetic interviews with those involved in planning the "Stop the Steal" march on Jan. 6.Portraying "Stop the Steal" planner Ali Alexander as an innocent bystander who has remained above legal scrutiny, Carlson omits that Alexander was subpoenaed by the House Jan. 6 committee in early October.The documentary also features a claim by Blaze TV's Elijah Schaffer that the scene outside the Capitol had been "de-escalated" before the breach despite the fact that the first set of barricades had already been taken by force, with "Stop the Steal" only having a permit to protest within a specific lot behind the building. On the scene that day, Schaffer argues that the Capitol Police were the ones who incited the riot by deploying tear gas on those who had already unlawfully breached the perimeter.By setting aside these contextual facts and relying on Michael Waller — a security analyst who claims he "worked for years as a professional agitator" and was able to immediately identify "trained" false flag actors at the march preceding the storming of the Capitol — Carlson segues into 'Part 2.'The segment largely glosses over more reports and videos on how the rioters attacked police, including with stun-guns and a flag pole, and hurled racial slurs at a Black officer. 'Part 2' keeps repeating the Al Qaeda comparisons to 'Orwellian methods' used in the War on TerrorPresident George W. Bush gives a "thumbs-up" sign after declaring the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast.AP Images/J. Scott ApplewhiteThis is where Carlson fleshes out how any regular conservative can become persecuted by the federal government for having opinions on social media that the Biden administration "disagrees with." Maintaining the same gloomy soundtrack, darkened color palette and continuity editing that gives the impression of double vision, Carlson juxtaposes dramatic reenactments of FBI raids with sympathetic interviews of people ensnared in the federal investigation with warrants, including an Alaska couple who were mistakenly identified as breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.Notably, the bulk of Carlson's argument that FBI agents incited the riot omits the names of white nationalist groups that informants infiltrated. The logo of the Three Percenters is shown briefly in part one, but mentions of that group or others such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers remain scant.Carlson also compares the federal government's response to the insurrection to how the US military toppled Saddam Hussein's dictatorship in Iraq."In Iraq, during the first War on Terror, the US government tore down all vestiges of the previous regime, and then reordered the society from the top to the bottom," Carlson says in part two. "First, our authorities targeted the people who had guns: law enforcement and the military."And then they turned their attention to the minds of the entire population," he continues. "At the time, they called these 'weapons of mass persuasion.' Psychological warfare. It looks familiar now."Featuring a DEA agent who says he was working as an informant outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and a former military officer who resigned from her post as the Army investigated her for leading a group of people from North Carolina to the "Stop the Steal" rally, Carlson uses the guests to do lots of telling but very little showing about how military psychological operations are the same thing that the FBI was deploying via its informants.Most of the "false flag" theory is told through that officer, Emily Rainey, who attempts to apply her military experience to domestic law enforcement.Conflating support for the GOP or former President Donald Trump with the federal government's definition of extremism, a heavy soundtrack and recreated footage of soldiers taking bumper stickers off their cars ends up being the extent of evidence shown to make the "false flag" argument."The helicopters have left Afghanistan, and now they've landed here at home," Carlson says at the close of part two. "They've begun to fight a new enemy in a new War on Terror ... hunting down American citizens, purging them from society, throwing some of them into solitary confinement."'Part 3' warns of gulags and the left 'hunting' the rightJessica Marie Watkins (2nd from L) and Donovan Ray Crowl (Center), both from Ohio, march down the east front steps of the U.S. Capitol with the Oath Keepers militia group among supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. Both have since been indicted by federal authorities for their roles in the siege on the U.S. Capitol. Picture taken January 6, 2021.REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File PhotoThe final third of the documentary turns up the temperature even more, lionizing the late Ashli Babbitt and doing the same rhetorical slight of hand with the Patriot Act as parts one and two did with the War on Terror.Richard Barnett, the Capitol rioter who posed with his feet up on Pelosi's desk, is presented by Carlson as a well meaning patriot in interviews with him and his attorney. Pelosi's staff barricaded themselves into hiding and said they feared for their lives as the office was ransacked.Barnett's claims of torture inside a DC jail in the documentary are not corroborated beyond quotes from his lawyer and dramatic reenactments with actors. Instead of backing up these assertions, Carlson cuts back to CGI drone footage. In reality, about 40 defendants facing serious charges from the riot, such as assaulting a police officer, are being held in the Central Detention Facility in Washington, DC.The rest of part three focuses on the Capitol Police shooting of Babbitt, featuring graphic footage of her death described as "the first confirmed kill" of Carlson's "Second War on Terror" with only a brief acknowledgement that the officer who pulled the trigger was exonerated in an internal probe and is not facing any charges.Still leaning on the same back and forth cuts to footage and anecdotes from the War on Terror, Carlson's guests warn of "gulags" and Guantanamo Bay-style detention awaiting not just those involved in the insurrection, but any conservative who speaks their mind."They're pushing you toward violence, and they're doing it on purpose," Carlson says. "But don't fall for it."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 22nd, 2021

51 unique and genuinely useful gifts that teens will actually love

The best gifts for teens are ones they'll actually want to use, like tech gadgets, beauty products, and cool accessories. Here are 51 unique gifts. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. One of the best gifts for teens is a portable, waterproof speaker they can bring with them on trips with friends. Amazon It's never easy to shop for a teenager, especially if their tastes change frequently. We rounded up 51 gifts to make it easier to find the perfect gadget, game, or accessory. Browse all of Insider Reviews' gift guides for more great gift ideas. Being a teenager is tough, but trying to buy a gift for one is even harder: They can be picky and fickle when it comes to what products they want. Sometimes, the best way to show a teen that you care is just to listen, and sometimes it's a thoughtful gift to show them you see them.To make the gift search easier, we curated 53 gifts ranging from a card game to a smartwatch to a quick-drying hair towel at various price points to ensure as many options as possible.If you are still unsure of what to get (and you can't ask them directly) try consulting their friends. Either way, a smart general rule of thumb is to make sure your gift is returnable. The 51 best gifts for teens: Disposable cameras to help them stay in the moment Amazon Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera, available at Amazon, $67.95Funsaver One Time Use Film Camera (2-pack), available at Amazon, $47.95Disposable cameras are popular right now, partly because of the nostalgic aesthetic of a polaroid and partly because of their simplicity. Spending so much time immersed in technology — and combatting the temptation to retake and edit photos in real-time — keep us from staying present.Disposable film cameras or polaroids help preserve memories without adding to their screen time. Plus, they give them cute photos to decorate their room with! Glossier's fan-favorite products Glossier Boy Brow + Balm Dotcom + Futuredew Pack, available at Glossier, $42No-makeup makeup is in right now and, if your teen is into beauty products, they may appreciate a gift from Glossier, which is the "natural and glowy" brand Olivia Rodrigo says she wears in her Vogue beauty diary.We'd recommend a gift card or a pack like the Boy Brow + Balm Dotcom + Futuredew pack, which covers three of its fan-favorite products. A great book Amazon "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.14Books are an incredible gift if your teen is a reader. It can translate into hours of enjoyment at a minimum and, at its best, a favorite story that follows them well into adulthood.Plus, if you've read the book, it can also mean great conversations about it or movie adaptations to watch together. It's also a gift where money doesn't really matter; you can find a great read for $20 and spending more won't make much difference.Some book suggestions:"All the Bright Places," a popular YA book on TikTok"Scythe," a bestselling dystopian YA book similar to "The Hunger Games"The best young adult books, according to a teenagerThe best young adult romance booksThe best young people's literature of 2021 according to the National Book AwardsThe best books we read in our 20s The extremely popular Nintendo Switch Nintendo Nintendo Switch, available at Best Buy, $299.99The Nintendo Switch is likely to be one of those big-ticket gifts that'll get you an extremely excited reaction upon opening. They can play it at home, on the go, and with friends from a huge library of games. An eco-conscious tie-dye beanie Free The Earth Feel the Earth Breathe Tie Dye Beanie, available at Parks Project, from $40These unisex tie-dye beanies come in cool colors and with a unique plant logo. (To date, the Parks Project has reportedly contributed over $2,000,000 to help fund vital projects in national parks around the US).Ribbed beanies are big right now, à la the popular Carhartt beanie. If they've got that staple covered, the Parks Project also has tube socks.  A splashproof, portable Bluetooth speaker perfect for outdoor trips Amazon Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2, available at Amazon, $94.99This rugged, compact speaker can go with them anywhere. It's waterproof, has an "outdoor boost" button specifically for listening outside, is "drop-proof," and boasts a 13-hour battery life.  A plush toy that they can heat up Urban Outfitters Smoko Mini Toasty Heatable Plushie, available at Urban Outfitters, $18Whenever they need some cozy comfort, they can heat up this cute animal-shaped heating pad for a snuggle. A bedside smartphone vase Uncommon Goods Bedside Smartphone Vase, available at Uncommon Goods, $32Since teenagers can't be without their phones, this bedside smartphone gives their hands a rest. It's easily accessible while the floral component helps brighten up their rooms.  A portable phone charger Amazon Elecjet Powerpie Portable Charger, available at Amazon, $49.99This handheld charger can charge up your teen's smartphone or various devices like an iPad or small laptop so they can stay in touch, turn their paper in on time, or just never have to stress about 5% battery life. Sheet masks to go with a Netflix marathon Amazon TONYMOLY I'm Real Sheet Masks, available at Amazon, $26There are few things my 15-year-old sister loves more than oversized hoodies, Boba, and an endless supply of sheet masks. Grab a pack, throw them on, and make a night out of it with your teen's favorite candy and TV show. A pair of trendy, easy-to-use AirPods Apple Apple AirPods Pro with Charging Case, available at Walmart, $197If you're after the title of their favorite relative of the year, here's a good place to start. AirPods are both easy to use and functional as well as trendy.  A Boba-shaped AirPods Pro case Urban Outfitters Smoko Boba Tea AirPods Pro Case, available at Urban Outfitters, $18As I mentioned, part of my 15-year-old sister's ideal trifecta is Boba. You can pick up a cute, fun case no matter what their interest is — Baby Yoda, gaming, Boba, or whatever else.  A Bluetooth water bottle speaker Grommet Bluetooth Water Bottle Speakers, available at Grommet, $39.95This Bluetooth water bottle speaker offers a boost of hydration and fun for everyone. The water-resistant speaker resides at the top, ensuring greater sound quality that lasts 6-10 hours. It's the perfect accessory for them to bring to every hang-out session.  A slim leather wallet Amazon Bellroy Slim Sleeve Leather Wallet, available at Amazon and Bellroy, from $65This thin wallet is a subtle nudge toward minimalism, something many teens appreciate. The Bellroy Slim Sleeve wallet offers room for up to eight cards and a pocket to stash cash. It comes in a variety of colors and features environmentally certified leather. An eco-friendly phone case Pela Pela Phone Case, available at Amazon and Pela, from $19.95Pela offers a wide variety of biodegradable cases for iPhone and Android, all made from plant-based polymers. Pela cases are rugged enough to offer drop protection, and if a phone has both a Pela case and screen protector but still cracks, Pela will cover the bill to get it fixed. A comfortable and sustainable Patagonia pullover they'll wear all the time Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Pullover, Men, available at Patagonia, $119Patagonia Women's Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece, available at Patagonia, from $58.99A Patagonia sweater is a particularly good gift for teens who are interested in sustainability. The company has been turning plastic bottles into polyester for its clothing since 1993 and continues to do so today.Its Snap-T pullover is the unofficial uniform of the cozy adventurer. It and the Better Sweater are long-held favorites, and both are comfortable classics that they'll no doubt come to rely on heavily during colder weather.Not sold on the Patagonia option? They may also appreciate the Acadia Recycled Polar Trail Fleece from the environmentally-conscious Parks Project. A gift card for stylish new glasses Warby Parker Gift Card, available at Warby Parker, from $50Teens are a notoriously picky bunch, so you can never go wrong with a gift card. If they're in the market for new glasses or sunglasses, we recommend Warby Parker because of its versatility, size flexibility, and free at-home try-on program.  An Amazon Echo Dot for hands-free calls, alarms, music, updates on the weather, and more Amazon Echo Dot (4th gen), available at Best Buy, $34.99The Amazon Echo Dot is the most popular Amazon device for a reason — it's compact and has all the capabilities of Alexa (weather updates, recipes, music, news) without any of the bulk.  A smartphone-sized travel photo printer Target HP Sprocket 200 Photo Printer, available at Amazon and B&H Photo, from $76.78This tiny, compact device prints photos with sticker backing on ZINK film with Zero Ink technology. It connects to devices via Bluetooth, and multiple devices can connect at once (personalized LED lights indicate who's currently printing).  String lights with clips for photos Amazon/Business Insider Photo Clip LED String Lights, available at Target, $10Perfect for creating the archetypal teen room that's most often seen in Netflix movies and old Taylor Swift music videos, the photo clip string lights combine warm light and Polaroids (or other memorabilia).  A trendy Champion sweatshirt Urban Outfitters  Champion Reverse Weave Fleece Crew Neck Sweatshirt, available at Urban Outfitters, $54Like Fila, Champion is a brand that's had a resurgence as of late. If you want to get them something they'll end up wearing all the time, this is a good candidate.  Comfortable headphones with a long battery life and good sound Beats by Dre Beats by Dre Wireless Solo3 Headphones, available at B&H Photo, from $179They can use these at the gym, for studying, and for zoning out during family road trips. This pair has great sound, cushioned ear cups, and 40 hours of battery life so they have one less thing to think about. And if they do let the battery run out, a five-minute charge is the equivalent to three hours of listening time. A new video game "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD" / Nintendo "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD", available at Amazon, from $49.94If they're really into video games, all other gifts may pale in comparison to a really good new one. Check out "Hades," "NBA 2K22," and "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD." A vinyl record membership Vinyl Me, Please Gift Membership, 3 months, available at Vinyl Me, Please, $119There's no greater joy than adding to a record collection or playing a new album for the first time. Your recipient gets to choose from three different types of tracks each month and will also receive extra goodies in each package. They'll also get one bonus record as part of the three-month gift membership.  A gentle facial cleansing device that removes 98.5% of dirt and makeup FOREO Luna 3 Facial Cleansing Device, Men, available at Foreo, $199Luna 3 Facial Cleansing Device, Women, available at Foreo, $199FOREO's cult-favorite Luna 3 cleansing device gently and effectively cleans with thin, antimicrobial silicone touch-points, and it removes 98.5% of dirt and makeup residue without irritating the skin. Plus, it's 100% waterproof and the battery life lasts for a few months per charge.This newest generation also offers an array of massages to tighten the skin for a youthful look. Find a full review on the previous generation Luna 2 from a female reporter and a male reporter here. Comfortable lounge pants that look put-together MeUndies The Lounge Pant, Men, available at MeUndies, $68The Lounge Pant, Women, available at MeUndies $68MeUndies is a popular LA startup that makes some of the most comfortable underwear we've ever tried. Their lounge pants, however, are the real hidden gem — perfect for lounging around on weekend mornings or heading to the dining hall when they get to college (yep, they'll last that long) while still looking sleek. A subscription to a famous book club that sends them great hardcovers each month Book of the Month/Instagram 3-Month Gift Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99If your teen is a bookworm, Book of the Month is an especially cool gift. It's a book club that has been around since 1926, and it's credited with discovering some of the most beloved books of all time (like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye" to name a couple).If you gift them a subscription, they'll receive a hardcover book delivered once a month. Books are selected by a team of experts and celebrity guest judges.If they're really more into audiobooks or e-reading now rather than hardcovers, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here). An Apple Watch that combines their smartphone with a fitness tracker Amazon Apple Watch SE GPS, 40mm, available at Best Buy, from $279If you have a little extra to spend on your teen, consider getting them a smartwatch. The Apple Watch SE is like a smartphone, fitness tracker, and music player all in one. Just like on their phone, they can customize the watch to show their favorite apps to pick, including social media. A cute iPhone case Society6 Coffee Reading iPhone Case, available at Society6, $35.99This fun iPhone case is funny and unique, and most of their friends probably won't have the exact same one.  Reusable straws Amazon Hiware Reusable Silicone Straws (10-pack), available at Amazon, $6.99Help teens do their part to keep single-use plastics out of trash bins, landfills, and the ocean by giving them this pack of reusable silicone drinking straws. They come in various colors and include a few cleaning brushes as well.  A set of velvet retro-inspired scrunchies Amazon/Business Insider Hair Scrunchie Variety Pack, available at Target, $6.99Another trendy gift is as many scrunchies as you can carry. This pack comes with 12 options in enough colors to work with virtually any outfit or mood.  A multicolor mini cinema light box Urban Outfitters Multicolor Cinema Light Box, available at Uncommon Goods, from $20These trendy lightboxes are inspired by cinema marquees, and they come with 100 letters and symbols for personal messages. This one also has color-changing LED lights for further customization. Fun and useful PopSockets for the back of their phone Amazon/Business Insider PopGrips, available at PopSockets and Amazon, from $10PopSockets have become their own cultural phenomenon in recent years, and they're surprisingly useful. Get your teen one for their own phone or tablet, and depending on their age, you may find it's the gift they're most excited about. It doesn't hurt that there's free domestic shipping on orders over $20, or that you can actually design your own. A waterproof e-reader with a no-glare screen Amazon All-New Kindle Paperwhite, available at Amazon, $79.99Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite is its thinnest, lightest version. It also has double the storage, a built-in light that adjusts to accommodate reading indoors or outdoors, and is waterproof for reading anywhere, including the beach or bath. Plus, a single battery charge lasts weeks rather than hours. Cool backpacks from a popular startup with a charitable mission STATE Bags/Facebook State bags and accessories, from $16.80State bags are increasingly popular thanks to their versatile, laid-back aesthetic and characteristically bright nylon colorways. They're also known as #GiveBackPack(s), because for every State bag purchased, State hand-delivers a backpack — packed with essential tools for success — to a local child in need. The Lorimer and Bedford are two of the company's best sellers. A three-month subscription of beauty products BirchBox 3-Month Subscription, available at BirchBox, $45Teens are usually among the most interested in the latest and greatest beauty or grooming products — but may lack the funds to try all the full-sized versions. Birchbox sends samples of new and beloved products once a month, so they can test out new finds and discover products they may want to buy a full size of in the future. (It's also just fun to get an ongoing gift.) Personalized Nikes Nike Customizable Nikes, available at Nike, from $120Nike makes great stuff, but it's nice to get the benefits of a great shoe without forsaking what makes something unique. You can customize a pair of Nikes for them, or give them a gift card so they can get creative making something one-of-a-kind on their own. A great Alexa-enabled speaker they can control by voice Sonos Sonos One Smart Speaker, available at Sonos, from $219The new Sonos One smart speaker fills any room with clear, rich sound, and they can use Alexa to play and control their music without ever lifting a finger. Find a full review here. A cult-favorite hair towel that reduces damage and cuts drying time by 50% Aquis/Business Insider Aquis Rapid Dry Hair Towel, available at Amazon and Sephora, from $17.99Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels can cut the amount of time it takes your hair to dry in half — a claim we're happy to report holds up. The proprietary fabric also means there's less damage to wet hair while it dries. If they've ever complained about frizzy hair, this and a silk pillowcase are thoughtful gifts they'll actually use.  A Disney+ subscription for access to classic movies and more Disney Plus Disney+ Gift Subscription Service, available at Disney, $79.99/yearDisney Plus is the new Disney-centric streaming service. The platform includes Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox. You can gift a whole year of access for $80, which is something their entire family can benefit from.If you'd rather test Disney Plus out before buying, you can sign up for a free weeklong trial. A suitcase with an ejectable battery that can charge their devices on the go Away The Carry-On, available at Away, from $225Travel startup Away makes a great carry-on thanks to an ejectable battery that can charge devices seamlessly on the go, 360-degree wheels, and a lightweight build that travels easily. In other words, it takes a lot of the angst out of travel and may make family trips far more enjoyable and stress-free. A color-changing alarm clock that also charges their phone The Home Depot/Business Insider La Crosse Technology Color Mood Light Alarm Clock with Nature Sounds, available at Amazon and The Home Depot, $26.46This color-changing alarm clock radio will charge their devices and play soothing nature sounds at the same time. They can also use the aux-in port to play music from their phone. Durable sunglasses that look good, too Amazon Smith Optics Lowdown2, available at Backcountry, $129Who better to make a pair of durable, performance-based sunglasses than the company known for innovating the ski goggle? The Lowdown2 features bio-based materials for the frame, ChromaPop lens technology which creates high contrast and vibrant colors, and an anti-reflective smudge-resistant coating.Plus, the brand offers peace of mind with free shipping, 30-day returns, and a lifetime warranty. Comfortable, high-quality sheets that come in lots of colors and patterns Brooklinen Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle, available at Brooklinen and Amazon, from $240We think Brooklinen makes the best high-end sheets at the best price on the market, and most of the Insider Reviews team uses Brooklinen on their own beds. It's perfect for lazy Saturday mornings or the rare occasion sleeping in is encouraged.The Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle comes in 15 colors and patterns that range from classic to fun, and you can mix and match them to suit their preferences. Grab a gift card (delivered digitally) if you want to give them more freedom. Fidget balls Speks Speks 2.5mm magnet balls, available at Speks, $29.95Made from rare earth magnets, these tiny balls can be molded into an infinite number of shapes and designs. The size of Speks balls makes them ideal for teens to keep with them for those unpredictable moments of nervousness that fill those teenage years. A pack of smart plugs so they can control devices from a distance Amazon/Business Insider TP-Link KIT WiFi Smart Plug, 2-Pack, available at Best Buy, $9.99Whether they're wondering if they turned off their hot iron or just don't want to get up to turn off the TV, a smart plug lets them control devices from a distance. You can connect to them using any smart device. A Time-Turner clock that actually spins Harry Potter Harry Potter Time-Turner Clock, available at Pottery Barn, $69It may not be able to take them back in time or help them be in two places at once, but this Time-Turner clock will help them stay on top of their schedule. It even has a functional hourglass on the back so they can time their study breaks.  A toothbrush with a timer Amazon Oral-B Pro 1000 Electric Toothbrush, available at Amazon, $39.97Rigorous dental hygiene isn't usually on the top of the list of things teens care about, which is all the more reason a rechargeable toothbrush with a timer is a fantastic gift. This rechargeable brush breaks up 300% more plaque on the gum line than traditional brushing and lets them know when two minutes have passed. Compact hand sanitizer spray Touchland Touchland Power Mist Hand Sanitizer, available at Touchland, $9It's in the car, the house, and their pocket these days, but many hand sanitizers can smell a little like household cleaner. Touchland comes in scents like Vanilla Cinnamon and Forrest Berry, or keep it simple and choose unscented.The compact sanitizer features 67% alcohol for killing germs but balances it with soothing aloe vera and essential oils to hydrate the skin.  A lottery card that donates to charities LottoLove/Business Insider LottoLove Card, available at LottoLove, from $5When you gift this lottery card, you're actually giving the gift of charity. When you "win big," you're winning a charitable prize that gets donated to nonprofits in one of four categories: Clean water, solar light, nutritious meals, or literacy tools. To date, LottoLove and its partners have impacted lives in over 70 countries. Gift cards for concert tickets, food, and clothes Chipotle You can't go wrong with money for their favorite things, especially for teens who are often relying upon part-time jobs to fund their frequent Chipotle meals and concert trips with friends. Check out more gift card ideas here.Everything: Visa Gift Card / Amazon Gift CardCoffee and food: Starbucks Gift Card / Chipotle Gift CardEntertainment and live events: Netflix Gift Card / Xbox Gift Card / Hulu Gift Card / StubHub gift cardMusic: Spotify Gift CardSheets: Brooklinen Gift CardGroceries and food: Whole Foods Gift Card / Chipotle Gift CardClothes: Nordstrom Gift Card / Everlane Gift CardTech: Best Buy Gift Card Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 27th, 2021

Whitehead: The Police State"s Reign Of Terror Continues... With Help From The Supreme Court

Whitehead: The Police State's Reign Of Terror Continues... With Help From The Supreme Court Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rurtherford Institute, “Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges.” - George Carlin You think you’ve got rights? Think again. All of those freedoms we cherish—the ones enshrined in the Constitution, the ones that affirm our right to free speech and assembly, due process, privacy, bodily integrity, the right to not have police seize our property without a warrant, or search and detain us without probable cause—amount to nothing when the government and its agents are allowed to disregard those prohibitions on government overreach at will. This is the grim reality of life in the American police state. In fact, in the face of the government’s ongoing power grabs, our so-called rights have been reduced to mere technicalities, privileges that can be granted and taken away, all with the general blessing of the courts. This is what one would call a slow death by a thousand cuts, only it’s the Constitution being inexorably bled to death by the very institution (the judicial branch of government) that is supposed to be protecting it (and us) from government abuse. Court pundits, fixated on a handful of politically charged cases before the U.S. Supreme Court this term dealing with abortion, gun rights and COVID-19 mandates, have failed to recognize that the Supreme Court—and the courts in general—sold us out long ago. With each passing day, it becomes increasingly clear that Americans can no longer rely on the courts to “take the government off the backs of the people,” in the words of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. When presented with an opportunity to loosen the government’s noose that keeps getting cinched tighter and tighter around the necks of the American people, what does our current Supreme Court usually do? It ducks. Prevaricates. Remains silent. Speaks to the narrowest possible concern. More often than not, it gives the government and its corporate sponsors the benefit of the doubt, seemingly more concerned with establishing order and protecting government interests than with upholding the rights of the people enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Rarely do the concerns of the populace prevail. Every so often, the justices toss a bone to those who fear they have abdicated their allegiance to the Constitution. Too often, however, the Supreme Court tends to march in lockstep with the police state. As a result, the police and other government agents have been generally empowered to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance. In recent years, for example, the Court has ruled that police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits; police officers can stop cars based only on “anonymous” tips; Secret Service agents are not accountable for their actions, as long as they’re done in the name of “security”; citizens only have a right to remain silent if they assert it; police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes,” justifying any and all police searches of vehicles stopped on the roadside; police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime; police can stop, search, question and profile citizens and non-citizens alike; police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the “offense”; police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home; and it’s a crime to not identify yourself when a policeman asks your name. Moreover, it was a unanimous Supreme Court which determined that police officers may use drug-sniffing dogs to conduct warrantless searches of cars during routine traffic stops. That same Court gave police the green light to taser defenseless motorists, strip search non-violent suspects arrested for minor incidents, and break down people’s front doors without evidence that they have done anything wrong. The cases the Supreme Court refuses to hear, allowing lower court judgments to stand, are almost as critical as the ones they rule on. Some of these cases have delivered devastating blows to the rights enshrined in the Constitution. By remaining silent, the Court has affirmed that: legally owning a firearm is enough to justify a no-knock raid by police; the military can arrest and detain American citizens; students can be subjected to random lockdowns and mass searches at school; police officers who don’t know their actions violate the law aren’t guilty of breaking the law; trouble understanding police orders constitutes resistance that justifies the use of excessive force; and the areas immediately adjacent to one’s apartment can be subjected to warrantless police surveillance and arrests. Make no mistake about it: when such instances of abuse are continually validated by a judicial system that kowtows to every police demand, no matter how unjust, no matter how in opposition to the Constitution, one can only conclude that the system is rigged. By refusing to accept any of the eight or so qualified immunity cases before it last year that strove to hold police accountable for official misconduct, the Supreme Court delivered a chilling reminder that in the American police state, “we the people” are at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to ‘serve and protect.” This is how qualified immunity keeps the police state in power. Lawyers tend to offer a lot of complicated, convoluted explanations for the doctrine of qualified immunity, which was intended to insulate government officials from frivolous lawsuits, but the real purpose of qualified immunity is to rig the system, ensuring that abusive agents of the government almost always win and the victims of government abuse almost always lose. How else do you explain a doctrine that requires victims of police violence to prove that their abusers knew their behavior was illegal because it had been deemed so in a nearly identical case at some prior time? It’s a setup for failure. A review of critical court rulings over the past several decades, including rulings affirming qualified immunity protections for government agents by the U.S. Supreme Court, reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order, protecting the ruling class, and insulating government agents from charges of wrongdoing than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution. Indeed, as Reuters reports, qualified immunity “has become a nearly failsafe tool to let police brutality go unpunished and deny victims their constitutional rights.” Worse, as Reuters concluded, “the Supreme Court has built qualified immunity into an often insurmountable police defense by intervening in cases mostly to favor the police.” For those in need of a reminder of all the ways in which the Supreme Court has made us sitting ducks at the mercy of the American police state, let me offer the following. As a result of court rulings in recent years, police can claim qualified immunity for warrantless searches. Police can claim qualified immunity for warrantless arrests based on mere suspicion. Police can claim qualified immunity for using excessive force against protesters. Police can claim qualified immunity for shooting a fleeing suspect in the back. Police can claim qualified immunity for shooting a mentally impaired person. Police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits. Police can stop, arrest and search citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.  Police officers can stop cars based on “anonymous” tips or for “suspicious” behavior such as having a reclined car seat or driving too carefully. Police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime.  Police can use the “fear for my life” rationale as an excuse for shooting unarmed individuals. Police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes.” Not only are police largely protected by qualified immunity, but police dogs are also off the hook for wrongdoing. Police can subject Americans to strip searches, no matter the “offense.” Police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home. Police can use knock-and-talk tactics as a means of sidestepping the Fourth Amendment. Police can carry out no-knock raids if they believe announcing themselves would be dangerous. Police can recklessly open fire on anyone that might be “armed.” Police can destroy a home during a SWAT raid, even if the owner gives their consent to enter and search it. Police can suffocate someone, deliberately or inadvertently, in the process of subduing them. To sum it up, we are dealing with a nationwide epidemic of court-sanctioned police violence carried out with impunity against individuals posing little or no real threat. So where does that leave us? For those deluded enough to believe that they’re living the American dream—where the government represents the people, where the people are equal in the eyes of the law, where the courts are arbiters of justice, where the police are keepers of the peace, and where the law is applied equally as a means of protecting the rights of the people—it’s time to wake up. We no longer have a representative government, a rule of law, or justice. Liberty has fallen to legalism. Freedom has fallen to fascism. Justice has become jaded, jaundiced and just plain unjust. And for too many, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the American dream of freedom and justice for all has turned into a living nightmare. Given the turbulence of our age, with its government overreach, military training drills on American soil, domestic surveillance, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, wrongful convictions, profit-driven prisons, corporate corruption, COVID mandates, and community-wide lockdowns, the need for a guardian of the people’s rights has never been greater. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/06/2021 - 00:05.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 6th, 2021

10 Things in Politics: Showdown looms to keep the government open

And Justin Trudeau is projected to remain Canada's prime minister. Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Plus, download Insider's app for news on the go - click here for iOS and here for Android. Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com or tweet me at @BrentGriffiths.Here's what we're talking about:Mitch McConnell says GOP will vote for US to default on its debtJustin Trudeau projected to remain prime minister of CanadaDHS investigating 'extremely troubling' images of border agents on horseback chasing migrantsWith Phil Rosen. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Alex Wong/Getty Images; Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images 1. SHOWDOWN ON CAPITOL HILL: The White House and congressional Democrats are playing hardball. With two key deadlines looming, top leaders say they will combine legislation that would avoid a government shutdown next month and suspension of the debt limit, the latter of which would avoid the federal government defaulting on its bills. Their move essentially dares Republicans to vote to tank the US economy by blocking the forthcoming bill. For now, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell isn't backing down.Here's a look at where things stand:Top Republicans have long warned they won't raise the debt ceiling: McConnell repeated his opposition to such a move - which amounts to allowing the government to pay its existing bills - even if it meant shutting down the government. He has called for Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own through a special budget process. But Democrats don't want to do that, per The Washington Post, because it would require taking a politically difficult vote.Democrats say this is hypocrisy: They note that the national debt grew nearly $8 trillion under President Donald Trump - chiefly on the back of GOP tax cuts and bipartisan emergency coronavirus-related spending packages. Republicans supported raising the debt ceiling three times during the Trump administration.Time is running out: The government is expected to run out of money October 1. It's more difficult to predict when the government would default on its debt, but Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has told lawmakers that time-buying measures her department had taken would run out in early October as well.Yes, you've seen this movie before: President Joe Biden and McConnell played major parts in it too. Spurred on by the tea-party movement, Republicans sought to use raising the debt ceiling as a political cudgel against the Obama White House in 2011. The two sides eventually reached a deal that liberals continue to loathe, but the process of going to the brink came at the cost of an embarrassing credit downgrade.Read more about where things stand as deadlines loom for lawmakers.2. Legal experts are poking holes in a Trump-era special prosecutor's case against a Clinton campaign lawyer: The special counsel John Durham's indictment of Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer at a firm with deep Democratic ties, marked his first overt sign of activity in months. Legal experts aren't impressed. They see the case against Sussmann as unusually - even remarkably - thin. It's likely to face significant hurdles at trial. One of the issues is that the charge rests on the testimony of a single witness. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. DAVE CHAN/AFP via Getty Images 3. Justin Trudeau is expected to remain prime minister: Trudeau's decision to force a Canadian snap election is projected to yield mixed results, handing the prime minister a third term but without his party retaking a majority in Parliament. Some said Trudeau's decision to call a federal election early was a bid to retake the majority. More on the Canadian election results.4. DHS says it's investigating "extremely troubling" images at the border: Federal officials pledged to formally look into photos and videos of agents on horses pushing back against migrants at the US-Mexico border, the Associated Press reports. Amid concerns that some of the agents appeared to be brandishing whips, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters the straps were long reins to help control the agents' horses. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, called the footage "horrific." Top officials say the US has deported more than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants from a Texas border town, vowing swift action for people who cross the US border illegally.Drone videos show thousands of Haitian migrants trying to enter the US: Insider 5. Texas doctor sued in the first major test of the state's abortion ban: An Arkansas man is suing a doctor who recently performed an abortion in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy, an act now considered illegal under a new state law. Dr. Alan Braid of San Antonio wrote an op-ed article in The Washington Post explaining his decision to defy the law. Oscar Stilley, a former lawyer disbarred on charges of tax evasion and conspiracy in 2010, filed the suit after reading a news report about Braid's article. ​​The lawsuit presents the first publicized legal challenge to Texas' new abortion restrictions.At least one antiabortion group isn't happy: Texas Right to Life, an antiabortion group, slammed "self-serving legal stunts," telling The Post that Braid's article was written to gin up lackluster challenges. Stilley told the paper he was not against abortion.6. Pfizer says its shot is safe and likely to be effective for children: The drugmaker and its partner BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine generated a promising immune response in a trial in kids ages 5 to 11. The companies said they planned to submit their data to the Food and Drug Administration "as soon as possible." That could make their COVID-19 shot the first authorized for use in younger children.7. More Americans have died of COVID-19 than died in the 1918 flu pandemic: "Despite all the scientific and medical advances of the past 103 years, the Covid-19 pandemic has now killed more Americans than the 1918 flu pandemic did," CNN wrote. More than 675,000 people are estimated to have died from COVID-19. Here are some of the major differences between the pandemics.8. FBI declares the home of Brian Laundrie's parents a crime scene: Authorities began searching the Florida home of Laundrie's parents just one day after a body believed to be that of Laundrie's fiancée, Gabby Petito, was found. Authorities continue to search for Laundrie, who disappeared in recent days. The latest on the case.Related: Here is a timeline of Gabby Petito's trip that ended in his disappearance9. Dow falls over 600 points over China-related worries: Stocks cratered Monday amid fears about the extent of a debt crisis for China's second-largest property developer. Anxiety about congressional action over the debt ceiling didn't help matters either. Evergrande, the Chinese company, is highly leveraged and is facing a $7 billion crunch over the next year. Here's everything you need to know about why Wall Street is worried about a Chinese real-estate company. Screenshot/TikTok - @emilyzugay 10. Major brands and companies are embracing a TikTok creator's mock logos: Emily Zugay, a 24-year-old pet-portrait artist from southeastern Wisconsin, told Insider in an email that she used Adobe Illustrator to make "repulsive but believable" designs so that "even folks who don't know basic design principles would know that they are downright awful." Take a look at the designs used by TikTok, NASCAR, Tinder, and Tampax.Today's trivia question: Benedict Arnold committed treason on this day in 1780. Before his treachery, he played a major role in the American Revolution's turning point. There's even a monument dedicated to his service during the Battles of Saratoga, though it does not directly name him. What does the monument depict? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.Yesterday's answer: The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy - that's because naval officers and crew members still serve aboard the vessel first launched in 1797. Six ships were commissioned largely because of French aggression that led to the Quasi-War.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 21st, 2021

Michael Haight is accused of killing his wife and 5 kids in a brutal Utah familicide. Police reports suggest he had a troubling pattern of aggression toward children.

Before Michael Haight fatally shot his entire Utah family, his wife, Tausha Haight, had filed for divorce. A police crime scene trailer sits outside the home of Michael Haight on January 5, 2023 in Enoch, Utah. Haight, who was 42, is accused of killing his wife, mother-in-law and his five kids that range in ages from 17 to 4 years old with a gun.Photo by George Frey/Getty Images Police say a Utah man killed his wife, mother-in-law, 5 kids, and self in early January. Michael Haight was previously investigated for child abuse, police records obtained by Insider show. The killings came approximately two weeks after Tausha Haight filed for divorce, officials said. In the early days of the new year, inside an idyllic family home still decorated for Christmas, police in Enoch, Utah stumbled into a house of horrors: Officers encountered eight dead bodies inside the Haight family home on the afternoon of January 4, 2023, an entire household annihilated in a brutal familicide.Police say Michael Haight, 42, shot and killed his wife, Tausha Haight, 40, her mother, Gail Earl, 78, and the couple's five children, three girls, and two boys ages 4 to 17, before committing suicide.The husband and father turned the gun on his family approximately two weeks after his wife filed for divorce, authorities said earlier this month.The senseless act sent shockwaves through the small southern Utah community, where most of the town's 8,000 residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as Mormons outside the church. Neighbors and friends remembered the family as welcoming and active in the town's religious community.But police said they were familiar with the family and had investigated Michael Haight prior to the killings, suggesting the man's propensity for violence was documented long before the unthinkable unfolded.Documents released by the authorities and obtained by Insider paint a picture of an aggressive patriarch prone to physically assaulting his eldest daughter and stealing his wife's electronics to secretly read her text messages in the years leading up to calamity. A seemingly perfect family facade masked underlying strifeLike many young Mormon couples, Michael Haight and Tausha Earl were in their early 20s when they met as students at Southern Utah University and married in May 2003. Both members of the LDS faith, Michael was a former Boy Scout who served his mission in Brazil, according to his obituary, while Tausha studied child development at the university.The couple settled in Enoch, a small city about 250 miles south of Salt Lake City, where Michael Haight found work as an insurance agent. His most recent employer, Allstate Insurance, told KSL-TV that he was no longer employed with them at the time of the killings in January 2023, though it was unclear when he left the company or why.The couple had five children: Macie Haight, 17, Briley Haight, 12, Ammon Haight, 7, Sienna Haight, 7, and Gavin Haight, 4. By all outside accounts, the Haights were a picture-perfect family, according to local media; neighbors recalled the family hosting a "walk-about" in 2021 to bring the community together and said they were often first to welcome new residents to the block. Congenial recollections from outsiders are common in the aftermath of such brutalities, according to Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and an expert on intimate partner and domestic violence. But they rarely scratch the surface of what was likely unfolding in private; family murders are almost always precipitated by warning signs, she said. "Neighbors will often say 'oh he was a nice guy, I can't believe this happened. It seems totally out of the blue,'" Campbell told Insider. "And I think to myself, 'probably not.'"In many ways, Michael Haight fits the profile of a family annihilator, Campbell told Insider, citing his gender, race, marital status, and education level as markers of his penchant for the alleged crime. The most common risk factor for a family murder is prior domestic violence against the perpetrator's partner, Campbell said. But oftentimes, that abuse goes unreported to authorities. "They're reluctant to disclose the abuse to people," Campbell said of wives. "Many times it's because he has said to her 'don't you dare ever tell anyone else about this.'" While police records obtained by Insider did not include any reports of Michael Haight committing physical violence against his wife, the documents did divulge unsettling allegations involving his eldest daughter.Sharon Huntsman, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Cedar City, Utah, leaves flowers outside a home where eight family members were found dead in Enoch, Utah, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023.AP Photo/Sam MetzMichael Haight was investigated for child abuse but never chargedIn August 2020, police investigated Michael Haight for alleged child abuse against his daughter Macie Haight after an individual outside the house reported the father to authorities, according to a police report obtained by Insider. The Department of Child and Family Services was already aware of the Haight family at the time an officer conducted interviews on the matter, the report said.In an interview with police, Macie Haight, then 14, told an officer her father had been physically and emotionally assaultive toward her multiple times over recent years, describing three separate incidents in which she said her father physically grabbed her, choked her, or shook her.During one encounter, she told police she was scared her father might kill her, records show. Macie Haight also told the officer her dad frequently yelled and often belittled his wife in front of the kids, calling Tausha Haight "stupid" and "lazy." The 14-year-old said she had seen her father take her mom's cell phone away to keep his wife from leaving the home, according to the report. Police later interviewed Michael Haight, who denied having ever grabbed his daughter in an assaultive way or choking her, though he later clarified that if he had done so, he didn't mean it to be an assault, the police report said.Michael Haight also denied ever putting down his wife in front of the children, but said he did lose his temper with the kids. During the interview, the patriarch cited a "tough year" for his increasing stress, describing his father's recent death and his brother's impending divorce. He accused his wife and soon-to-be ex-sister-in-law of saying "mean things" about his own mother and sister, which he said prompted him to take Tausha Haight's phone and look through her messages for evidence.He also admitted to once taking his wife's iPad to work with him for several days to look through her messages. When she accused him of having the device, he denied it and later slipped the iPad back where he'd found it, he told police.The officer conducting the interview told Michael Haight his actions toward his daughter were "close to assaultive," but ultimately declined to press charges, instead encouraging him to "continue seeing someone about his anger."Following the interview, Tausha Haight called the interviewing officer and asked what to expect when her husband returned home, concerned about whether "the family would be safe."The officer told her there was no indication Michael Haight would respond with violence, according to the report. Tausha Haight told the officer she didn't believe criminal charges were appropriate but expressed hope that the encounter would be a "wake-up call" for her husband.Child abuse is sometimes, though not always, a precursor to family murders, Campbell said, but the 2020 investigation into Michael Haight should have "certainly been a red flag" to Child Protective Services."When CPS gets a report of child abuse, the best practice would be to find out if the mom is also being abused," Campbell said. "They often go hand-in-hand."Police followed up with the Iron County Attorney's Office, where it was determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges, the office said in a statement this month, though Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson also told KU-TV that the case was never formally screened for charges; officials instead came to the decision not to pursue prosecution over the phone.Following the killings, Enoch City Manager Rob Dotson defended the police department, saying officials acted professionally during the child abuse investigation and followed best practices. "There will be questions that everybody asks themselves: What if I had done this? What if I had done that? Those aren't very good questions to ask," Dotson said during a press conference earlier this month. "The question to ask is, what do we do now?"Michael Haight's alleged aggression toward children was previously documentedOn an autumn evening in 2015, Michael Haight called local police to report a group of juveniles standing in the middle of the road blocking his vehicle's path, according to a police report reviewed by Insider. Though two of the kids were later charged with disorderly conduct, Michael Haight's behavior during the incident stands out in the aftermath of his rampage.When recounting his recollection of the incident to police, a juvenile who was with the others but not issued a citation said Michael Haight had begun to "act aggressive" during the encounter. The interviewing officer made no further notes regarding the child's characterization.Two unidentified woman hold back tears at a news conference at city hall on the murder of eight people in the same family on January 5, 2023 in Enoch, UtahPhoto by George Frey/Getty ImagesTausha Haight's divorce filing preempted the killingsThe seeming trigger for tragedy came in December. Tausha Haight filed for divorce on December 21, 2022, according to court records reviewed by the Associated Press. Michael Haight was served with divorce papers on December 27, his wife's lawyer said after the killings. The state of Utah keeps divorce proceeding details private. James Park, who represented Tausha Haight in her divorce, told media outlets she never expressed to him a fear that she could be in danger from her husband.But a signal of separation is often the final provocation that prompts family murderers to act, Campbell said,"It is at that moment of time or shortly after she has left him that he goes and finds her and does this family annihilation," she told Insider. "He has decided: If she's going to leave him, they're all better off dead."At some point prior to the massacre, Tausha Haight told family members that her husband removed all the firearms from the home, her sister-in-law, told the AP. Both Tausha Haight and Gail Earl, who was staying with her daughter and the couple's children following the divorce filing, were trained in firearm safety.Park said he last met with Tausha Haight on Tuesday, January 3 — the day before the family's bodies were discovered. The mother and one of her daughters were later seen at a church event on the eve of the killings, Enoch City Mayor Geoffrey Chestnut said during a press conference earlier this month.Initial reports said police were dispatched to the home for a welfare check on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 4 after Tausha Haight missed an appointment, but an unsealed search warrant obtained by KSL-TV this week revealed neighbors from the family's church were actually the first people to enter the home and discover the bodies before authorities arrived to check on the family.In the aftermath of tragedy, friends and family members have remembered Tausha Haight as an incredible mother who constantly sacrificed everything for her children," her obituary said. "They were truly the most precious possessions she had."Meanwhile, Michael Haight's obituary was removed from a local paper earlier this month after the write-up lauded him as a loving husband and father who "enjoyed making memories with his family," while failing to mention his role in their untimely deaths. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 28th, 2023

Exclusive: Inside the extramarital affair and cash-fueled double life of Charles McGonigal, the FBI spy hunter charged with taking Russian money

"Charlie McGonigal knew everybody in the national security and law enforcement world," his ex-lover told Insider. "He fooled them all." Charles F. McGonigal, who held one of the FBI's most sensitive positions, now faces criminal charges for his alleged ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch.Michael M. Santiago, Frédéric Soltan, Kirill Kudryavtsev/GettyImages; Arif Qazi/Insider;One morning in October 2017, Allison Guerriero noticed something unusual on the floor of her boyfriend's Park Slope, Brooklyn, apartment: a bag full of cash. There it was, lying next to his shoes, near the futon, the kind of bag that liquor stores give out. Inside were bundles of bills, big denominations bound up with rubber bands. It didn't seem like something he should be carrying around. After all, her boyfriend, Charles F. McGonigal, held one of the most senior and sensitive positions in the FBI."Where the fuck is this from?" she asked."Oh, you remember that baseball game?" McGonigal replied, according to Guerriero's recollection. "I made a bet and won."McGonigal had two high-school-age children and a wife — or "ex-wife" as he sometimes referred to her — back at home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He would return there once or twice a month. But McGonigal had led Guerriero to believe that he was either divorced or soon would be. She didn't question his story, nor did she question the story about the bag full of cash.A few days before, Guerriero had sat on the couch with McGonigal in the one-room garden sublet to watch McGonigal's Cleveland Indians beat the Yankees. Much later — after Guerriero's cancer diagnosis, their breakup, and McGonigal's retirement from the FBI — McGonigal would be indicted on suspicion of, among other things, accepting $225,000 in cash from a former employee of Albania's intelligence agency. That total includes one $80,000 chunk that was allegedly handed over in a parked car, outside a restaurant, on October 5, 2017. October 5 and 6 also happened to be the days when the Indians beat the Yankees in the first two games of the American League Division Series. Today, Guerriero no longer believes the bag of cash contained winnings from a sports bet.One of McGonigal's attorneys, Seth DuCharme, declined to comment.Guerriero was 44 when they met, a former substitute kindergarten teacher who volunteered for law-enforcement causes and was working as a contractor for a security company while living at home with her father. McGonigal, then 49 years old, had just started his new job at the FBI's New York office.Guerriero says their affair lasted for a little more than a year. McGonigal's Brooklyn sublet may have been modest, but he lived large. He courted Guerriero at high-end restaurants. He would give her gifts of cash — $500 or $1,000 — for her birthday and for Christmas. He once joked about framing his divorce papers for her, as a Christmas gift, but those papers never materialized. He took her to watch New Jersey Devils hockey games in a private box. She recalls that McGonigal once gave a hundred-dollar bill to a panhandler on the street. "I'm a little better off than him. I can spare a hundred dollars," Guerriero remembers McGonigal saying, after she expressed astonishment.That day in October wasn't the only time that Guerriero remembers McGonigal carrying large amounts of cash. After he brushed her curiosity aside, she tempered her suspicions. She told herself it was probably "buy money" for a sting operation, or a payoff for one of McGonigal's informants. She had dated federal law-enforcement officials before. She knew not to ask too many questions about work."Charlie McGonigal knew everybody in the national security and law-enforcement world," Guerriero said, in an interview with Insider. "He fooled them all. So why should I feel bad that he was able to deceive me?"The dual indictments lodged against McGonigal earlier this week in New York and Washington, DC, are the culmination of a grand-jury investigation that Insider exclusively reported on last year, and they lay out breathtaking allegations of subterfuge and corruption. But Guerriero says that McGonigal's deceptions extended beyond his duties as a counterintelligence chief and into their personal life. Two sources who knew both McGonigal and Guerriero in New York told Insider that they believed Guerriero's account of the relationship, including her claim that McGonigal had led Guerriero to believe that he was effectively single. And Guerriero's father told Insider that McGonigal would regularly drive to his house, where Guerriero lived, to pick her up."I was deceived about it," Guerriero's father said. "He seemed to be a straight shooter. If I'd had known he was married, I would have said something."Federal prosecutors charged McGonigal with money laundering and making false statements in his mandatory employee disclosures to the FBI. He was also charged with taking money from a representative of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who McGonigal had once himself investigated, in violation of US economic sanctions against Russia; the indictment alleges that Deripaska paid him to investigate a rival oligarch. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.McGonigal was not an ordinary FBI agent. He led the WikiLeaks investigation into Chelsea Manning as well as a search for a Chinese mole inside the CIA. While working at FBI headquarters in Washington, he played a role in opening the investigation into the Trump campaign's Russia contacts that was later dubbed Operation Crossfire Hurricane.But it was McGonigal's final FBI job, special agent in charge of the counterintelligence division at the FBI's New York field office, that was his most important assignment at the bureau. It was his job to find enemy spies and recruit his own."New York City is a global center for espionage and counterespionage," says one senior law-enforcement insider who was closely familiar with the specifics of McGonigal's role. "You have visits from foreign business elites and politicians. You have the United Nations. You have ethnic populations. Who runs the pitches to recruit spies from all those other countries? The FBI. So the access you get in that job is extraordinary. It's almost bottomless. So if you're running FBI counterintelligence in New York, you can get your hands on almost anything you want, and you don't always have to make excuses for why you're asking for it."The impact of the McGonigal indictments is still rippling out through the law-enforcement world. The charges accuse an official at the heart of the Trump-Russia investigation of secretly selling his own access, accepting bundles of cash in surreptitious meetings with someone who had ties to Albanian intelligence. McGonigal, a top-tier member of the city's law-enforcement community, a man who had fully integrated himself into a powerful circle of trust where favors get swapped and sensitive intelligence gets circulated, is accused of himself being on the take. If the indictments are correct, McGonigal was leading a dangerous double life, right under the noses of some of the sharpest cops in America.But what might be most striking about the case against McGonigal is how cheaply he is alleged to have rented out his law-enforcement powers. One indictment suggests that for $225,000, McGonigal's associates got him to lobby the Albanian prime minister about the awarding of oil-field drilling licenses and then open an FBI investigation connected to a US citizen who had lobbied for one of the prime minister's political opponents. Arranging a meeting for an executive from a Bosnian pharmaceutical company with a US official at the United Nations was said to be a pricier item — $500,000, one indictment claims. It is unclear whether that money ever materialized.In September 2018, McGonigal left the FBI to work as a vice president at Brookfield Properties, a multibillion-dollar real-estate company. His salary there was most likely higher than what he made inside the government, but it wasn't anywhere near the C-suite or oligarch-scale money that courses through New York's penthouse condos and boardrooms. One law-enforcement source estimated that McGonigal stood to make roughly $300,000 to $350,000 a year, including annual bonuses. "He said he needed to make more money," said Guerriero, who was still in the relationship with McGonigal when he left the FBI. "He had two kids to put through college."The value that McGonigal is accused of providing — his access and his pull — are clear from the indictments. One of them alleges that he arranged for the daughter of a foreign contact, a college student, to get a VIP tour from the New York City Police Department. The indictment identifies that foreign contact as "Agent-1," an agent of the Russian oligarch Deripaska, former Russian diplomat, and rumored Russian intelligence officer. That description matches Evgeny Fokin, who works for En+, a Deripaska-owned energy company, and was already linked to McGonigal and an associate in a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing from November 2021.Agent-1's identity remains unconfirmed. Neither Fokin nor En+ responded to requests for comment. A person familiar with the NYPD's arrangement said the daughter was a guest, not an intern. She didn't have independent access to police facilities, they said, and was given no work to do.Guerriero recalls McGonigal using the FBI's resources for their relationship. Once, they had sex in an SUV that she understood to be federal government property. After she was found to have breast cancer, Guerriero recalls, McGonigal would occasionally send a junior agent in an FBI sedan to give her rides from New Jersey to her cousin's apartment in New York. Despite the ongoing deception about his marital status, McGonigal was "caring, loving, and concerned" during the period of her illness, she says.In late 2018, McGonigal and Guerriero broke up. She remembers receiving an anonymous and hostile note in the mail. Soon after, McGonigal told her he was still married and had no plans to divorce his wife. "I was shocked," she said. "I was very much in love with him, and I was so hurt." She started drinking heavily to cope. A few months later, Guerriero, after a bout of drinking, dashed off an angry email to William Sweeney, who was in charge of the FBI's New York City bureau, and who, she recalls, had first introduced her to McGonigal. She remembers telling Sweeney in the email that he should look into their extramarital affair, and also McGonigal's dealings in Albania. McGonigal had already befriended Albania's prime minister and traveled to the country extensively, dealings that would appear later in one of his indictments. Guerriero told Insider that she had deleted the email.Sweeney didn't reply to a request for comment made through Sweeney's current employer, Citigroup. Insider couldn't confirm that Guerriero had sent the email or that Sweeney had received it. Regardless, by November 2021, the FBI was looking into McGonigal. Two agents showed up at Guerriero's door, she says, showed her a picture of McGonigal with the Albanian prime minister, and interviewed her about their interactions. She also received a grand-jury subpoena requesting all of her communications with McGonigal as well as information about any "payments or gifts" he may have given her.Guerriero acknowledges that the combination of her alcohol abuse and her health problems led to some extreme behavior, including her sending hostile emails to McGonigal's family, the contents of which she says she cannot recall. "I really did go overboard," she said. "I harassed them. I'm not going to deny that. I was horrible to them."By her own account, Guerriero contacted one of McGonigal's children despite being prohibited from doing so by a court order, an incident that led to her spending the night in a New Jersey jail. The court order stemmed from a 2019 police report, obtained by Insider, that McGonigal's wife, Pamela, filed with the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland. The report states that McGonigal and Guerriero "had a relationship" and that Guerriero had repeatedly harassed her with unwelcome emails and phone calls — including 20 calls in one day — despite her asking Guerriero to stop.Guerriero confirmed that her contact with the McGonigal family led to a separate restraining order issued in New Jersey. "I am ashamed and embarrassed and sorry for my actions during the time that I was drinking," she said.Allison Guerriero knew Rudy Giuliani from law-enforcement circles. Giuliani let her stay in a guest room at his residence after Guerriero's father's house caught fire in 2021.Allison GuerrieroGuerriero's troubles worsened in early 2021, when she was badly burned during a fire at her father's house. She asked friends for help through a GoFundMe. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City, whom she knew from law-enforcement circles, let her stay in a guest bedroom. Since then, Guerriero has been a frequent on-air caller for Giuliani's radio shows. She maintains that the 2020 election was marred by widespread voter fraud, a belief pushed by Giuliani that has been repeatedly debunked. "Whatever Giuliani says about the 2020 election is what I believe," she said. During her relationship with McGonigal, Guerriero says, they never talked about politics. "I thought he was apolitical," he said, "which is something I continue to believe."The FBI declined to address the specifics of Guerriero's story. Instead, it sent a statement from Director Christopher Wray, who said the FBI holds employees to "the highest standard" and treats everyone equally, "even when it is one of our own." Insider spoke with three of McGonigal's former law-enforcement colleagues who expressed shock about the indictments. "It's heartbreaking," said one, who had worked alongside McGonigal at the FBI. "This is an incredible organization filled with truly dedicated men and women. This sets our image and reputation back."Guerriero's father said his view of the FBI had already been tarnished by the way that McGonigal treated his daughter. "I've always had huge admiration for the FBI," he said. "I idealized the agents that I saw in the movies. I thought these people were gods, that they never did anything wrong. It was so disappointing." He did say, however, that McGonigal had called him after the relationship ended to apologize for his behavior, and that he had accepted McGonigal's apology.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 27th, 2023

Exclusive: Inside the extramarital affair and cash-fueled double life of Charles McGonigal, the FBI spy-hunter indicted for allegedly taking Russian money

"Charlie McGonigal knew everybody in the national security and law enforcement world," his ex-lover told Insider. "He fooled them all." Charles F. McGonigal, who held one of the FBI's most sensitive positions, now faces criminal charges for his alleged ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch.Michael M. Santiago, Frédéric Soltan, Kirill Kudryavtsev/GettyImages; Arif Qazi/Insider;One morning in October 2017, Allison Guerriero noticed something unusual on the floor of her boyfriend's Park Slope, Brooklyn apartment — a bag full of cash. There it was, lying next to his shoes, near the futon, the kind of bag that liquor stores give out. Inside were bundles of bills, big denominations bound up with rubber bands. It didn't seem like something he should be carrying around. After all, her boyfriend, Charles F. McGonigal, held one of the most senior and sensitive positions in the FBI."Where the fuck is this from?" she asked."Oh, you remember that baseball game?" McGonigal replied, according to Guerriero's recollection. "I made a bet and won."McGonigal had two high-school-aged children and a wife — or "ex-wife" as he sometimes referred to her — back at home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He would return there once or twice a month. But McGonigal had led Guerriero to believe that he was either divorced or soon would be. She didn't question his story, nor did she question the story about the bag full of cash.A few days before, Guerriero had sat on the couch with McGonigal in the one-room garden sublet to watch McGonigal's Cleveland Indians beat the Yankees. Much later — after Guerriero's cancer diagnosis, their breakup, and McGonigal's retirement from the FBI — McGonigal would be indicted for, among other things, allegedly accepting $225,000 in cash from a former employee of Albania's intelligence agency. That total includes one $80,000 chunk that was allegedly handed over in a parked car, outside a restaurant, on October 5, 2017. October 5 and 6 also happened to be the days when the Indians beat the Yankees in the first two games of the American League Division Series. Today, Guerriero no longer believes the bag of cash contained winnings from a sports bet.One of McGonigal's attorneys, Seth DuCharme, declined to comment.Guerriero was 44 when they met, a former substitute kindergarten teacher who volunteered for law enforcement causes and was working as a contractor for a security company while living at home with her father. McGonigal, then 49 years old, had just started his new job at the FBI's New York office.Guerriero says their affair lasted for a little more than a year. McGonigal's Brooklyn sublet may have been modest, but he lived large. He courted Guerriero at high-end restaurants. He would give her gifts of cash — $500 or $1,000 — for her birthday and for Christmas. He once joked about framing his divorce papers for her, as a Christmas gift, but those papers never materialized. He took her to watch New Jersey Devils hockey games in a private box. She recalls that McGonigal once gave a hundred-dollar bill to a panhandler on the street. "I'm a little better off than him. I can spare a hundred dollars," Guerriero remembers McGonigal saying, after she expressed astonishment.That day in October wasn't the only time that Guerriero remembers McGonigal carrying large amounts of cash. After he brushed her curiosity aside, she tempered her suspicions. She told herself it was probably "buy money" for a sting operation, or a payoff for one of McGonigal's informants. She had dated federal law enforcement officials before. She knew not to ask too many questions about work."Charlie McGonigal knew everybody in the national security and law enforcement world," Guerriero said, in an exclusive interview with Insider. "He fooled them all. So why should I feel bad that he was able to deceive me?"The dual indictments lodged against McGonigal earlier this week in both New York and Washington, DC, are the culmination of a grand jury investigation that Insider exclusively reported on last year, and they lay out breathtaking allegations of subterfuge and corruption. But Guerriero says that McGonigal's deceptions extended beyond his duties as a counter-intelligence chief and into their personal life. Two sources who knew both McGonigal and Guerriero in New York told Insider that they believed Guerriero's account of the relationship, including her claim that McGonigal had led Guerriero to believe that he was effectively single. And Guerriero's father told Insider that McGonigal would regularly drive to his house, where Guerriero lived, to pick her up."I was deceived about it," Guerriero's father said. "He seemed to be a straight shooter. If I'd had known he was married, I would have said something."McGonigal was charged by federal prosecutors with money laundering and making false statements in his mandatory employee disclosures to the FBI. He was also charged with taking money from a representative of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who McGonigal had once himself investigated, in violation of US economic sanctions against Russia; the indictment alleges that Derispaska paid him to investigate a rival oligarch. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.McGonigal was not an ordinary FBI agent. He led the WikiLeaks investigation into Chelsea Manning as well as a search for a Chinese mole inside the CIA. While working at FBI headquarters in Washington, he played a role in opening the investigation into the Trump campaign's Russia contacts that was later dubbed Operation Crossfire Hurricane.But it was McGonigal's final FBI job, special agent in charge of the counterintelligence division at the FBI's New York field office, that was his most important assignment at the bureau. It was his job to find enemy spies and recruit his own."New York City is a global center for espionage and counter-espionage," says one senior law-enforcement insider who was closely familiar with the specifics of McGonigal's role. "You have visits from foreign business elites and politicians. You have the United Nations. You have ethnic populations. Who runs the pitches to recruit spies from all those other countries? The FBI. So the access you get in that job is extraordinary. It's almost bottomless. So if you're running FBI counterintelligence in New York, you can get your hands on almost anything you want, and you don't always have to make excuses for why you're asking for it."The impact of the McGonigal indictments is still rippling out through the law enforcement world. According to the charges, one of the officials at the heart of the Trump-Russia investigation was secretly selling his own access, accepting bundles of cash in surreptitious meetings with someone who had ties to Albanian intelligence. McGonigal, a top-tier member of the city's law enforcement community, a man who had fully integrated himself into a powerful circle of trust where favors get swapped and sensitive intelligence gets circulated, was allegedly himself on the take. If the indictments are correct, McGonigal was leading a dangerous double life, right under the noses of some of the sharpest cops in America.But what might be most striking about the case against McGonigal is how cheaply he is alleged to have rented out his law enforcement powers. One indictment suggests that for $225,000, McGonigal's associates got him to lobby the Albanian prime minister about the awarding of oil field drilling licenses and then open an FBI investigation connected to a US citizen who had lobbied for one of the prime minister's political opponents. Arranging a meeting for an executive from a Bosnian pharmaceutical company with a U.S. official at the United Nations was allegedly a pricier item — $500,000, according to one indictment. It is unclear whether that money ever materialized.In September 2018, McGonigal left the FBI to work as a vice president at Brookfield Properties, a multibillion-dollar real estate company. His salary there was likely higher than what he made inside the government, but it wasn't anywhere near the C-suite or oligarch-scale money that courses through New York's penthouse condos and boardrooms. One law enforcement source estimated that McGonigal stood to make roughly $300,000 to $350,000 a year, including annual bonuses. "He said he needed to make more money," said Guerriero, who was still in the relationship with McGonigal when he left the FBI. "He had two kids to put through college."The value that McGonigal allegedly provided — his access and his pull — are clear from the indictments. One of them alleges that he arranged for the daughter of a foreign contact, a college student, to get a VIP tour from the New York City Police Department. The indictment identifies that foreign contact as "Agent-1," an agent of the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, former Russian diplomat, and rumored Russian intelligence officer. That description matches Evgeny Fokin, who works for En+, a Deripaska-owned energy company, and was already linked to McGonigal and an associate in a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing from November 2021.  Agent-1's identity remains unconfirmed. Neither Fokin nor En+ responded to requests for comment. A person familiar with the NYPD's arrangement said that the daughter was a guest, not an intern. She did not have independent access to police facilities they said, and she was given no work to do. Guerriero recalls McGonigal using the FBI's resources for their relationship. Once, they had sex in an SUV that she understood to be federal government property. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Guerriero recalls that McGonigal would occasionally send a junior agent in an FBI sedan to give her rides from New Jersey to her cousin's apartment in New York. Despite the ongoing deception about his marital status, McGonigal was "caring, loving, and concerned," during the period of her illness, she says.In late 2018, McGonigal and Guerriero broke up. She remembers receiving an anonymous and hostile note in the mail. Soon after, McGonigal told her that he was still married and had no plans to divorce his wife. "I was shocked," she said. "I was very much in love with him, and I was so hurt." She started drinking heavily to cope. A few months later, Guerriero, after a bout of drinking, dashed off an angry email to William Sweeney, who was in charge of the FBI's New York City bureau, and who, she recalls, had first introduced her to McGonigal. She remembers telling Sweeney in the email that he should look into their extramarital affair, and also McGonigal's dealings in Albania. McGonigal had already befriended Albania's prime minister and traveled to the country extensively, dealings that would appear later in one of his indictments. Guerriero told Insider that she had deleted the email.Sweeney did not reply to a request for comment made through Sweeney's current employer, Citigroup. Insider could not confirm that Guerriero had sent the email or that Sweeney had received it. Regardless, by November 2021, the FBI was looking into McGonigal. Two agents showed up at Guerriero's door, she says, showed her a picture of McGonigal with the Albanian prime minister, and interviewed her about their interactions. She also received a grand jury subpoena requesting all of her communications with McGonigal as well as information about any "payments or gifts" that he may have given to her.Guerriero acknowledges that the combination of her alcohol abuse and her health problems led to some extreme behavior, including her sending hostile emails to McGonigal's family, the contents of which she says she cannot recall. "I really did go overboard," she said. "I harassed them. I'm not going to deny that. I was horrible to them."By her own account, Guerriero contacted one of McGonigal's children despite being prohibited from doing so by a court order, an incident that led to her spending the night in a New Jersey jail. The court order stemmed from a 2019 police report, obtained by Insider, that McGonigal's wife Pamela filed with the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland. The report states that McGonigal and Guerriero "had a relationship," and that Guerriero had repeatedly harassed her with unwelcome emails and phone calls — including 20 calls in one day — despite her asking Guerriero to stop.Guerriero confirmed that her contact with the McGonigal family led to a separate restraining order issued in New Jersey. "I am ashamed and embarrassed and sorry for my actions during the time that I was drinking," she said.Allison Guerriero knew Rudy Giuliani from law enforcement circles. Giuliani let her stay in a guest room at his residence after Guerriero's father's house caught fire in 2021.Allison GuerrieroGuerriero's troubles worsened in early 2021, when she was badly burned during a fire at her father's house. She asked friends for help through a GoFundMe. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom she knew from law enforcement circles, let her stay in a guest bedroom. Since then, Guerriero has been a frequent on-air caller for Giuliani's radio shows. She maintains that the 2020 election was marred by widespread voter fraud, a belief pushed by Giuliani that has been repeatedly debunked. "Whatever Giuliani says about the 2020 election is what I believe," she said. During her relationship with McGonigal, Guerriero says, they never talked about politics. "I thought he was apolitical," he said, "which is something I continue to believe." The FBI declined to address the specifics of Guerriero's story. Instead, they sent a statement from Director Christopher Wray, who said that the FBI holds employees to "the highest standard" and treats everyone equally, "even when it is one of our own." Insider spoke with three of McGonigal's former law-enforcement colleagues who expressed shock about the indictments. "It's heartbreaking," said one, who had worked alongside McGonigal at the FBI. "This is an incredible organization filled with truly dedicated men and women. This sets our image and reputation back."Guerriero's father said that his view of the FBI had already been tarnished by the way that McGonigal treated his daughter. "I've always had huge admiration for the FBI," he said. "I idealized the agents that I saw in the movies. I thought these people were gods, that they never did anything wrong. It was so disappointing." He did note, however, that McGonigal had called him after the relationship ended to apologize for his behavior, and that he had accepted McGonigal's apology.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 27th, 2023

ETFs to Play Nasdaq"s Fastest Start Since 2019

The Nasdaq composite has witnessed its fastest start to a new year since 2019, per investors.com. The Nasdaq composite has witnessed its fastest start to a new year since 2019, per investors.com. The Nasdaq composite is up 6.4% so far this year, amid talks of a soft landing and the Federal Reserve slowing the pace of rate hikes this year and probably starting rate cuts from next year. Back in 2019, the Nasdaq jumped 7.9% to start the year.The Nasdaq is tech-heavy. Other growth sectors also have considerable weights in the index. U.S. tech stocks hit rough weather last year as surging inflation weighed on their lofty valuations caused by massive policy easing during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak. Although tech stocks tried to recoup losses several times, investors remained cautious about betting big on growth stocks.Rising rate worries dampened the appeal of the stocks that rely on easy borrowing for superior growth. Hence, shares of high-growth technology companies remained in a tight spot. However, with rates falling this year, technology and growth sectors started outperforming.Plus, Silicon Valley layoffs have been intense. Amazon, Meta, Alphabet, Twitter, Salesforce – most of the tech giants have been on layoff spree.  Video-sharing outlet Vimeo said it was axing 11% of its workforce. The digital fashion platform Stitch Fix said it planned to cut 20% of its salaried staff, after having slashed 15% of its salaried staff last year. Such layoffs and cost reduction may boost profitability of the tech companies. This is another reason for the recent tech rally.What Lies Ahead?The investors.com article revealed that the Nasdaq is still close to bear lows at start of 2023 — as in 2019. Hence, the index doesn’t have to run much to record a solid annual performance. However, such a recovery is possible only if there is no unexpected event that could crush the broader market.Against this backdrop, below we highlight a few Nasdaq ETFs so that interested investors can play the ongoing rally. ETFs in FocusInvesco QQQ Trust QQQThe underlying Nasdaq-100 Index includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market based on market capitalization. Information Technology (49.4%) and Communication Services (16.85%) take the top two spots in the fund. The fund is heavy on Microsoft (11.87%) and Apple (11.75%). The fund charges 20 bps in fees.Invesco NASDAQ 100 ETF QQQMThe underlying NASDAQ-100 Index includes securities of 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on Nasdaq. Information Technology (49.4%) and Communication Services (16.85%) take the top two spots in the fund. The fund charges 15 bps in fees.Invesco NASDAQ Next Gen 100 ETF QQQJThe underlying NASDAQ Next Generation 100 Index comprises of securities of the next generation of Nasdaq-listed non-financial companies; that is, the largest 100 Nasdaq-listed companies outside of the NASDAQ-100 Index. Information technology (34.01%), Healthcare (25.55%), Communication Services (11.55%) and Consumer Discretionary (11.19%) take the double-digit weights in the fund. The fund charges 15 bps in fees.Fidelity Nasdaq Composite Index ETF ONEQThe underlying NASDAQ Composite TR USD is the market capitalization-weighted index of over 3,300 common equities listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The fund is heavy on Apple (12.14%) and Microsoft (10.50%). The fund charges 21 bps in fees.Simplify Nasdaq 100 PLUS Convexity ETF QQCThe fund seeks to provide capital appreciation by tracking a commonly held basket of large cap U.S. growth stocks while aiming to boost performance during extreme market moves up or down via a systematic options overlay. The net expense ratio is 0.44%.    Want key ETF info delivered straight to your inbox? Zacks’ free Fund Newsletter will brief you on top news and analysis, as well as top-performing ETFs, each week.Get it free >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Invesco QQQ (QQQ): ETF Research Reports Fidelity Nasdaq Composite Index ETF (ONEQ): ETF Research Reports Invesco NASDAQ Next Gen 100 ETF (QQQJ): ETF Research Reports Invesco NASDAQ 100 ETF (QQQM): ETF Research Reports Simplify Nasdaq 100 PLUS Convexity ETF (QQC): ETF Research ReportsTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 24th, 2023

These Companies Have Announced the Biggest Layoffs in 2023

As Google's parent company Alphabet announces 12,000 employee layoffs, it joins a number of businesses downsizing to cut costs in 2023 Amid an avalanche of layoffs in some sectors of the U.S. job market, particularly across technology, retail and finance sectors, Google’s parent company Alphabet announced that it would cut 12,000 jobs. The layoffs are the company’s largest ever, accounting for 6% of the company’s global personnel, and comes after Google’s financial decision to defer a portion of employees’ January bonuses to be paid later in the year. Sundar Pichai, Alphabet’s chief executive, shared a memo on Friday via the company’s website citing ill-hiring decisions over the past two years, which aimed to “match periods of dramatic growth.” He said, “To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] His memo added that domestic employees would receive a severance package worth 16 weeks of salary and two weeks off additional pay for every year served, as well as six months worth of healthcare and immigration support. Meanwhile employees outside the U.S. will be supported “in line with local practices.” Alphabet’s announcement builds on the overall 6% increase in job cuts recorded in the U.S. during 2022, and places the company among a growing number of technology giants resorting to layoffs—including Amazon, Microsoft, and Meta—that experts say were driven by misjudging pandemic booms for sustainable growth. This resulted in over 154,843 jobs being cut by technology firms last year, according to Layoffs.fyi, a website that tracks job cuts across the industry. So far, in 2023, an additional 38,815 employees have been laid off by technology firms. “In 2020 and 2021, technology companies went on a hiring spree, fueled by low interest rates and demand for tech products while people were staying at home during the pandemic,” Roger Lee, the creator of Layoffs.fyi, tells TIME. “Now that we’re in a completely opposite environment, these same tech companies are performing layoffs to undo their overhiring from the past couple of years.” John Van Reenen, the Ronald Coase School Professor at the London School of Economics, reiterates that the “general economic situation” is one of the key driving forces behind major layoffs. “With the war in Ukraine and all the world in, or entering into recession, their companies are trenching as demand is falling, belt tightening is going on,” he says. “One part of this is just a general reflection of what’s happening in the economic situation around the world.” Van Reenen notes that the share prices of tech firms over the last year have all “taken quite a significant hit” and mass layoffs reflect company’s attempts to regain control of this. While the technology industry remains the hardest hit, Lee says, other industries have also announced sizable layoffs. Below are some of the largest employee layoffs that have taken place in 2023 so far. Microsoft On Wednesday, Microsoft announced plans to eliminate 10,000 jobs, or around 4.5% of its 220,000 person global workforce. The software company’s chief executive officer, Satya Nadella, wrote in a blog post that the software titan, which has a market value of $1.78 trillion, was affected by global economic stagnation. Amazon In early January, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy revealed that the company will cut 18,000 jobs, or 5% of its workforce, amid increasing economic uncertainty. The sizable cuts were proposed in November but at the time, the company estimated that they would eliminate 10,000 posts. According to the New York Times, an anonymous source in Amazon’s Human Resources department said the number of layoffs was fluid and could be changed once business plans were finalized. Spurred on by pandemic success, the company’s global workforce grew exponentially from 798,000 in the final quarter of 2019 to 1.6 million by the end of 2021. Salesforce Salesforce, whose chair and CEO is TIME’s co-owner Marc Beniof, announced in early January that it planned to lay off 10% of its 80,000 person workforce, or around 8,000 individuals. “The environment remains challenging, and our customers are taking a more measured approach to their purchasing decisions,” Benioff said in a memo to employees. Vimeo American video hosting platform Vimeo also launched a round of layoffs at the very start of the year. In a note to staff which was later shared online, Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud said the layoffs would affect 11% of Vimeo’s workforce, across departments like sales and research and development, which it recorded as 1,219 workers in its December 2021 annual regulatory filing. In November 2022, Vimeo reported $108.1 million in revenue during the third quarter and roughly 1.6 million paying subscribers. Sud said the decision was the “right thing to do to enable Vimeo to be a more focused and successful company, operating with the necessary discipline in an uncertain economic environment.” Goldman Sachs Away from technology, Goldman Sachs announced Tuesday that it will spend $275 million on the 3,200 job cuts announced in January. David Solomon, the bank’s chief executive said “we feel deeply for the individuals that were impacted by these reductions” and that they were “extremely dedicated and talented individuals”. The news marked the bank’s largest staff reduction since the 2008 financial crisis, when they recorded the same number of layoffs. Bed Bath & Beyond Retail chain Bed Bath & Beyond is particularly affected by the economic downturn, as it seeks buyers or lenders to avoid bankruptcy. In a bid to cut costs due to depleting sales figures, the retailer said Wednesday that they would slash an additional $80 million to $100 million across the company, including an unspecified number of layoffs. The company’s shares have been down by more than 72% over the past 12 months. Sales dropped by 33% to $1.26 billion for the three months ending Nov. 26 from $1.88 billion the previous year. Additionally, sales recorded in stores that have existed for at least a year dropped by 32%. The company previously announced in September that they would close 150 stories and cut 20% of its workforce to save money. Blackrock The world’s largest asset management company, BlackRock Inc. cut 500 global jobs as the result of a $91 million restructuring at the end of 2022. Last year’s full-year revenue was down 8% to $17.9 billion and earnings per share was down 16% year over year to $8.93. The company’s stocks also fell by the highest amount since the 2008 crisis. BlackRock had 19,900 employees as of Sept. 30, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and according to Reuters, layoffs will affect less than 3% of employees. The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation On Jan. 13, Reuters reported that the Bank of New York Mellon Corp (BK.N) is planning to cut around 3% of its workforce in the year ahead. Approximately 1,500 jobs of the bank’s total reported headcount, which was 51,700 at the end of 2022, will be cut. The announcement brought company shares up by 2.4% at the time, as high interest rates and inflation continue to shake the financial services industry. Coinbase Meanwhile, 950 employees lost their jobs at Coinbase, according to a Jan. 10 announcement by the cryptocurrency exchange platform. This makes up 20% of the company’s workforce as they aim to cut operating expenses by 25%. This is a second round of layoffs for Coinbase, who let 18% of its workforce go in June. Will these layoffs continue in the long term? Despite the alarming increase in job losses across these sectors, Van Reenen is hopeful that they are temporary. “The US economy has been quite resilient compared to expectations. The labor markets held up reasonably well and inflation is coming down much faster in the U.S. than it is in Europe,” he says. But stability remains uncertain due to global factors, he says, noting the on-going conflict in Ukraine, and China’s influence over the supply chain—especially as the nation battles mounting COVID-19 cases and a lack of medication. As for the blows technology has incurred, Van Reenen believes that in the long run, “the whole world economy is becoming more high-tech and using more AI so the long term prospects of companies like Alphabet are optimistic. But in the short term there’s gonna be bumps on that road.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 20th, 2023

Kenyan data labelers were paid $2 an hour to label child sexual abuse, bestiality, and other horrific content for ChatGPT creator OpenAI, report says

A data-labeling firm cut ties with ChatGPT creator OpenAI over concerns around working with potentially illegal content to train AI, Time reports. ChatGPT, a AI chat bot, is trained with data that's been reviewed by outsourced workers to detect problematic content.Getty Images A firm cut ties with OpenAI over concerns around working with potentially illegal content for AI-training purposes, Time reports. Kenyan workers were reportedly paid up to $2 an hour to label explicit content used to train ChatGPT. Employees told Time they were exposed to descriptions of bestiality and fan-fiction involving rape. For a little more than a year, San Francisco-based AI firm Sama worked with OpenAI, the company behind the buzzy conversational AI ChatGPT, to identity and label sensitive images and text — data that is later used to train ChatGPT so it can spit out impressive responses free of toxicity, Time reported in an investigation.But in February of 2022, Sama ended its partnership with OpenAI after it discovered that OpenAI allegedly requested and received 1,4000 images worth of potentially illegal content that included child sexual abuse, bestiality, rape, and other forms of violence for an AI-training project unrelated to ChatGPT, according to internal documents Time reviewed. OpenAI confirmed that it used Kenyan workers to help build out a tool that tags problematic content, according to a statement to Time.Essentially, in order to train AI to recognize and remove horrific content, a labeled database of horrific content was required, and that's part of what Sama's contractors were tasked with working on.Under Sama's contracts, data labelers were outsourced from Kenya and were tasked to label text in their respective teams such as sexual abuse, hate speech, and violence, according to internal documents Time obtained. Depending on their seniority and productivity levels, employees were paid between $1.32 to $2 an hour to scour through troves of graphic content, according to four Sama employees that spoke to Time under anonymity.OpenAI and Sama did not respond to Insider's request for comment ahead of publication."Our mission is to ensure artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity, and we work hard to build safe and useful AI systems that limit bias and harmful content," OpenAI said in a Time statement. "Classifying and filtering harmful [text and images] is a necessary step in minimizing the amount of violent and sexual content included in training data and creating tools that can detect harmful content."Still, the nature of the work has caused severe distress for some data labelers, according to the report. One employee called his work "torture" after he was assigned to read an excerpt about a man engaging in a sexual act with a dog with a child present — an experience so traumatic that it gave him recurring visions, he told Time.In rare occasions, some data labelers said they weren't provided with clear guidelines on how to categorize the content they review, Time reports. One was reportedly tasked with reading a raunchy story where Batman's sidekick, Robin, gets raped, and wasn't sure whether to label it as sexual violence because Robin ended up reciprocating sexual acts.Sama told Time that it provides one-on-one mental health counseling and wellness programs for employees to de-stress.Contract workers have longed complained of the mental toll of ridding tech systems of toxic contentThe Time investigation's findings come as many companies that have adapted AI technology to improve their services and business processes continue to outsource low-wage employees in content moderation work from outside the US, with some contractors reporting negative impacts to their physical or mental health.Companies like Amazon, for example, have hired video reviewers in India and Costa Rica to watch thousands of videos, resulting in physical ailments like headaches and eye pain, the Verge reported. In 2019, after some Facebook contractors said they suffered from PTSD from moderation work, CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the reports of the complaints "a little overdramatic."Almost a year after the fallout with OpenAI, Sama — which has also offered data labelling services to Google and Microsoft — told Time that it will be putting an end to all work dealing with graphic content by March of 2023, including a $3.9 million contract with Facebook."After numerous discussions with our global team, Sama made the strategic decision to exit all [natural language processing and content moderation work to focus on computer vision data annotation solutions," Sama said in its statement."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 18th, 2023

House Republicans Prepare To Execute Emergency Strategy For Breaching Debt Limit

House Republicans Prepare To Execute Emergency Strategy For Breaching Debt Limit House Republicans are preparing to give the Treasury Department guidance if the White House and Congress can't agree to lift the nation's debt ceiling. The plan was part of the private deal struck between House conservatives and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in order for McCarthy to win speakership, according to Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who helped broker the deal. Roy told the Washington Post that McCarthy agreed to adopt a payment prioritization plan by the end of the first quarter of the year. According to the Post, the emergency contingency plan will need to include major spending cuts from the Biden administration, in exchange for which Republicans will sign off on raising the current limit of $31.4 trillion before the Treasury Department can't borrow any more. On Friday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the Treasury department will enact "extraordinary measures" next week so the government can keep its payment obligations - however she couldn't guarantee that the US will make it beyond early June without default. Also on Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made clear that the administration will not negotiate. In the preliminary stages of being drafted, the GOP proposal would call on the Biden administration to make only the most critical federal payments if the Treasury Department comes up against the statutory limit on what it can legally borrow. For instance, the plan is almost certain to call on the department to keep making interest payments on the debt, according to four people familiar with the internal deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. House Republicans' payment prioritization plan may also stipulate that the Treasury Department should continue making payments on Social Security, Medicare and veterans benefits, as well as funding the military, two of the people said. -WaPo That said, Democrats are preparing to push back on the plan, and will likely note that any hypothetical proposal to triage Social Security, Medicare and benefits for veterans and the military would still leave out 'huge swaths of critical federal expenditures on things such as Medicaid, food safety inspections, border control and air traffic control,' etc. Democrats will also likely accuse Republicans of pandering to bondholders, which include Chinese banks, vs. Americans. "Any plan to pay bondholders but not fund school lunches or the FAA or food safety or XYZ is just target practice for us," said one senior Democratic aide. In other Kevin McCarthy news, the newly minted speaker may be trying to win back the MAGA crowd, announcing on Thursday that he's open to the idea of "expunging" one or both of former President Trump's impeachments. As the Epoch Times notes, When asked about the possibility of erasing the impeachments during a Jan. 12 press conference at the Capitol, McCarthy replied that he would “have to look” at the situation, saying, “I understand why members would want to bring that forward.” “Our first priority is to get our economy back on track, secure our borders, make our streets safe again, give parents the opportunity to have a say in their kids’ education, and actually hold government accountable,” he added. “But I understand why individuals want to do it, and we’d look at it.” Trump was first impeached by the House in December 2019 over a phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He was charged with abuse of power for allegedly pressuring Zelenskyy to investigate a political opponent, and with obstruction of Congress, but was ultimately acquitted of those charges by the Senate. In 2021, Trump was impeached again for alleged “incitement of insurrection” following the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. Again, he was acquitted. Previous Expungement Attempts Last year, then-Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) led House Republicans’ attempts to expunge Trump’s impeachment record, introducing a resolution to erase the former president’s 2019 impeachment in March. “So, what we’re doing with the resolution is just simply saying, ‘Hey, listen, Congress made a mistake,’” Mullin, now a senator, said at the time. “‘We impeached a president under Article One, Section Two, that shouldn’t have ever taken place.’” In May, Mullin followed up the first bill with a second resolution to expunge Trump’s 2021 impeachment. That bill (pdf), citing 2020 election irregularities and the impeachment’s rushed nature, held that the impeachment process had failed to prove that the former president had committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” or engaged in an insurrection. Although both of Mullin’s resolutions garnered some Republican support, neither was ever considered by the Democrat-controlled House. A ‘Political Hoax’ Trump, for his part, has maintained that both the impeachments and the Jan. 6 Select Committee’s subsequent criminal referrals were simply partisan attempts to “sideline” him and prevent him from holding elected office again. “The Fake charges made by the highly partisan Unselect Committee of January 6th have already been submitted, prosecuted, and tried in the form of Impeachment Hoax # 2,” the former president noted on Dec. 19 after the committee referred him to the Justice Department for prosecution. In February 2020, after his first acquittal by the Senate, Trump was asked by reporters about the potential of a future expungement. “That’s a very good question,” he said. “Should they expunge the impeachment in the House? They should because it was a hoax. It was a total political hoax.” At the time, it was McCarthy who floated the idea, vowing to erase the impeachment if the Republican Party regained control of the House and he became speaker. “I don’t think it should stay on the books,” McCarthy said. Despite opposition from several Trump-aligned Republicans, McCarthy achieved his goal of becoming speaker of the House—with Trump’s backing—last week. After a contentious week of intraparty negotiations, McCarthy secured the speakership in the 15th vote, attributing the victory to the former president’s support. “I do want to especially thank President Trump,” he told reporters on Jan. 7. “I don’t think anybody should doubt his influence. He was with me from the beginning.” Tyler Durden Sun, 01/15/2023 - 16:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 15th, 2023

Bond ETFs That Have Gained Investors" Love to Start 2023

ETFs pulled in $9.3 billion in capital during the first week of 2023 with U.S. fixed-income ETFs leading the way higher with $9.4 billion in inflows. ETFs pulled in $9.3 billion in capital during the first week of 2023. U.S. fixed-income ETFs led the way higher with $9.4 billion in inflows, closely followed by $2.1 billion in international fixed-income ETF, per etf.com. U.S. equity ETFs saw outflows of $2.7 billion.As such, iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF AGG, iShares iBoxx USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF HYG, iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF SGOV, iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF TLT and SPDR Bloomberg 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF BIL dominated the top creation list last week.The rotation from stocks to bonds came on the back of recession fears and investors are seeing bonds as safer investments during economic downturns. As the global economy is struggling with skyrocketing inflation, the continued war in Ukraine and a slowdown in China, a recession seems likely this year (read: 5 Most-Loved ETFs of 2022).The International Monetary Fund warned that a third of the global economy would be in a recession given no signs of abatement of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, spiraling inflation, higher interest rates and a surge in coronavirus infections in China. The year 2023 would be "tougher" than last year as the United States, European Union and China may see their economies slow down.Per a Wall Street Journal survey, there is a 63% chance of recession this year. And a survey of economists and investors by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia shows the expectations that the gross domestic product will fall in three or four quarters are by far the highest since it started in 1968. Big banks are also expecting that an economic downturn is fast approaching. More than two-thirds of the economists at 23 large financial institutions that do business directly with the Federal Reserve are betting that the United States will face a recession in 2023.We have detailed the ETFs below:iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG)iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF is the top asset creator, pulling in $1.3 billion in capital. It offers broad exposure to U.S. investment-grade bonds by tracking the Bloomberg US Aggregate Bond Index. iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF holds 10,621 securities in its basket with an average maturity of 8.71 years and an effective duration of 6.37 years (read: A Guide to the 25 Cheapest ETFs).iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF has AUM of $84.5 billion and an average daily volume of 7.8 million shares. It charges 3 bps in annual fees.iShares iBoxx USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG)iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF has accumulated $1.2 billion in capital. It offers exposure to a broad range of U.S. high-yield corporate bonds by tracking the Markit iBoxx USD Liquid High Yield Index.iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF is one of the most widely used high-yield bond ETFs with AUM of $16.9 billion and an average daily volume of 33.2 million shares. HYG charges 48 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #4 (Sell) with a High-risk outlook.iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF (SGOV)iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF accumulated around $1.1 billion in its asset base last week. It offers exposure to U.S. Treasury bonds with remaining maturities less than or equal to three months. iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF follows the ICE 0-3 Month US Treasury Securities Index with average maturity and effective duration of 0.12 years.iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF has AUM of $7.5 billion and trades in an average daily volume of 1.6 million shares. SGOV charges 5 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold).iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT)iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF gathered $844.5 million in capital. It provides exposure to long-term Treasury bonds by tracking the ICE U.S. Treasury 20+ Year Bond Index. iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF holds 34 securities in its basket and charges 15 bps in annual fees. It has an average maturity of 25.64 years and an effective duration of 17.63 years.TLT is one of the most popular and liquid ETFs in the bond space, with AUM of $28.6 billion and an average daily volume of 19.8 million shares. iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF has a Zacks ETF Rank #4 with a High risk outlook.SPDR Bloomberg 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL)SPDR Bloomberg 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF saw an inflow of $686 million last week. It seeks to provide exposure to zero-coupon U.S. Treasury securities with a remaining maturity of 1-3 months. It follows the Bloomberg 1-3 Month U.S. Treasury Bill Index, holding 19 securities in its basket. Both average maturity and adjusted duration come in at 0.14 years each (read: Hedge Against Rising Rates With Ultra-Short Bond ETFs).SPDR Bloomberg 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF has AUM of $27.2 billion and an average daily volume of 6.4 million shares. It charges 13 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium-risk outlook. Want key ETF info delivered straight to your inbox? Zacks’ free Fund Newsletter will brief you on top news and analysis, as well as top-performing ETFs, each week.Get it free >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report iShares 20 Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT): ETF Research Reports iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG): ETF Research Reports iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG): ETF Research Reports SPDR Bloomberg 13 Month TBill ETF (BIL): ETF Research Reports iShares 03 Month Treasury Bond ETF (SGOV): ETF Research ReportsTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 10th, 2023

Futures Slump Ahead Of Powell Speech

Futures Slump Ahead Of Powell Speech US futures dropped as investors waited to see whether Fed Chair Jerome Powell will differentiate himself from hawkish comments made by two policy makers on Monday when he speaks later at an event in Sweden at 9am ET. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped to session lows around 7:15am ET after trading little changed for much of the overnight session. Traders are also reluctant to take strong directional bets before US inflation data is published on Thursday and visibility clears up on the trajectory of interest rates. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was near session after trading earlier in a tight range, while the rest of the currencies in the Group of 10 were mixed. Treasuries also broke out above a range, hitting session highs around 3.57% around the time stocks stumbled. Oil rose with gold and Bitcoin rallying for a seventh-straight day. Among US premarket movers, Virgin Orbit slumped as much as 27%, putting the stock on track for its biggest drop since June 2022, after the failure of a rocket that Richard Branson’s satellite company launched from a Boeing 747. Among winners, Oak Street Health rose 33% after Bloomberg reported that drugstore operator CVS is exploring an acquisition of the primary care provider, in a deal which could exceed $10 billion, including debt. Shares in Frontline, listed both in the US and Norway, surged as much as 20% in Oslo after the shipping giant controlled by billionaire John Fredriksen walked away from its plans to acquire Belgium’s Euronav, which dropped 21% on the news. Bed Bath & Beyond shares also jumped as much as 20%, poised to continue its rebound from the previous session, ahead of its earnings report and after the troubled home furnishings retailer saw its long-term rating upgraded at S&P. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Boeing stock slides 2.7% as Morgan Stanley downgraded its rating on the planemaker to equal-weight from overweight, saying the stock is now approaching fair value following recent outperformance. Frontline (FRO US) shares surge 22% after the company said it wouldn’t make a voluntary conditional exchange offer for all outstanding shares of the oil tanker operator Euronav. The decision not to proceed follows opposition from Belgium’s Saverys family - a major holder in Euronav. Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY US) shares jump 20%, poised to continue their rebound from the previous session before its earnings report. The troubled home furnishings retailer also saw its long-term rating upgraded at S&P. HP Enterprise shares were down 1.9% after Barclays downgraded them to equal-weight, taking a cautious view on IT hardware stocks in 2023 given a challenging macro backdrop. The broker also cut NetApp (NTAP US) and upgraded Keysight (KEYS US) shares. Barclays expects a difficult 1H for US software stocks as estimates still look too high, even if valuation levels are “interesting.” The broker upgrades DoubleVerify (DV US) and Confluent (CFLT US), cuts Dynatrace (DT US). RBC anticipates a challenging start for US software stocks in 2023, which will eventually give way to “green shoots” of optimism. The broker outlines its top picks in the sector and cuts Box (BOX US) to underperform. Watch Chemours (CC US) after the stock was cut to sector perform from outperform at RBC on expectations that a challenging fourth quarter for the chemicals firm will feed into the first half of 2023. Keep an eye on PPG Industries (PPG US) as it was cut to sector perform from outperform at RBC with limited upside seen for the paint-maker’s stock amid expectations that volumes will come under pressure. Sentiment was dented on Monday, as a 1.4% gain in the S&P was fully reversed, after the San Francisco and Atlanta Fed presidents poured cold water on hopes that monetary tightening would soon ease off by calling for interest rates to rise above 5% and staying there, a scenario strategists believe would be negative for stock markets. It's also what they have been saying for months, but the market is always happy to keep pricing in the same flashing red headline as if it was new. "Sentiment is torn between the fear of missing out good news on inflation and, by opposite, angsts the Fed will be stubborn in its fight against inflation which reinforces the risk of a recession,” said Sarah Thirion, a Paris-based strategist at TP ICAP Europe. Fears about Covid in China and the trend of corporate guidance which will be unveiled during the next earnings season are also weighing on stocks, Thirion said. "The same pattern keeps emerging, with investors clinging onto any data which appears to show the economy is cooling off, only to see their hopes dashed by policymakers who clearly believe the inflation-busting job is far from over,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. Thursday’s US inflation report, which will come out almost a week after the latest jobs data showed wage growth has decelerated, will be among the last such readings Fed policy makers will see before their Jan. 31-Feb. 1 gathering. European stock markets, which have outperformed Wall Street since September, were also in a cautious mood with the Stoxx 600 down 0.6% after hitting an eight-month high yesterday. Retailers, industrials and miners are the worst performing sectors. Here are some of the most notable European movers: Orsted gains as much as 4.1% after being named among preferred picks in the renewables space by both Morgan Stanley and Exane. Card Factory jumps as much as 9.4% after raising full-year pretax profit guidance in a trading update. Liberum said the greetings-card retailer delivered another “impressive” update. Plus500 gains as much as 3% after giving an update for the year-end, with Liberum saying the trading platform saw an “excellent” performance in FY22. AO World rises as much as 18% after raising guidance for FY adjusted Ebitda. Jefferies says the update shows that efforts to cut costs and improve margins are working. European staffing stocks drop following a warning from UK recruiter Robert Walters and with Dutch peer Randstad downgraded by Degroof Euronav slumps 21% after Frontline said it won’t make a voluntary conditional exchange offer for all outstanding shares of the oil tanker operator. Husqvarna falls as much as 4.6%, the most since Dec. 15, after Danske Bank cut its recommendation to hold from buy, expecting a “challenging” first half of 2023. Kahoot shares fall as much as 18%, the most since November, after the company published below-forecast fourth- quarter preliminary adjusted Ebitda on weak macro conditions. Games Workshop falls as much as 6.9% after reporting 1H results that Jefferies said contained highs and lows, highlighting the challenges flagged by management. Optimism for the region is rising with economists at Goldman Sachs no longer predicting a euro-zone recession after the economy proved more resilient at the end of 2022, natural gas prices fell sharply and China abandoned Covid-19 restrictions earlier than anticipated. GDP is now expected to increase 0.6% this year, compared with an earlier forecast for a contraction of 0.1%. Economists led by Jari Stehn warn in a report to clients of weak growth during the winter given the energy crisis, and say headline inflation will ease faster than thought, to about 3.25% by end-2023. As reported previously, BofA CIO Michael Hartnett said a new era may have started with the ratio of the S&P 500 index to the Stoxx Europe 600 breaking its 100-week moving average, a support that has held strong for more than a decade. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks declined as Chinese equities halted their rally, which had pushed a key regional benchmark to a bull market, amid profit-taking and renewed caution on the Fed’s rate-hike path.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 0.3% as of 4:17 pm in Singapore, dragged lower by Alibaba and Ping An Insurance. Trading volume was about 4% lower than the three-month average, according to data complied by Bloomberg. Tuesday’s breather comes as Asia’s benchmark index a day earlier entered bull territory, driven by China’s reopening and a weakening dollar that lured investors back to the region after facing a downward spiral for much of 2022.  Benchmarks in Hong Kong posted moderate losses while stock gauges in India, Singapore and Indonesia dropped more than 1%. Indonesian stocks were on track to enter a technical correction as investors looked to cash out from one of Asia’s hottest markets for 2022. Japanese equities climbed as traders returned from a holiday; as investors assessed the impact of China’s reopening and US job data that showed slower-than-expected average wage growth. The Topix Index rose 0.3% to 1,880.88 as of the market close in Tokyo, while the Nikkei advanced 0.8% to 26,175.56. Daikin Industries Ltd. contributed the most to the Topix Index gain, increasing 5.3%. Out of 2,162 stocks in the index, 1,092 rose and 953 fell, while 117 were unchanged. “Japanese stocks benefited from the belief that the Fed’s next rate hike will be more moderate,” said Tomo Kinoshita, a global market strategist at Invesco Asset Management. “China’s reopening has a positive impact on Japanese stocks, and inbound demand will resume once regulations around Chinese tourists are eased.” “After the sharp rally, Asian markets could see a bout of profit taking amid headwinds from tighter financial conditions and no respite in Fed rate-hike outlook,” said Nitin Chanduka, a strategist at Bloomberg Intelligence.  Two Fed officials said the central bank will likely need to raise interest rates above 5% before pausing and holding for some time. Still, the recent rally in Chinese equities may have more legs as consumption-driven firms drive the reopening rebound further and China shifts its focus to economic growth. Investors expect a strong 2023 for both Chinese stocks and the yuan as Asia’s largest economy bucks the global trend of weakening expansion. Morgan Stanley turned even more bullish on the market, raising price targets further and expecting China to top global equity-market performance in 2023.  “We remain of the view that Asian investors should use this volatility in 1Q23 as an opportunity to raise exposure,” said Chetan Seth, an Asia equity strategist at Nomura Holdings.  Australian stocks nudged lower after Fed speakers dampened risk sentiment. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3% to close at 7,131.00 as investors assessed hawkish commentary from Fed officials. The retreat halted the benchmark’s four-day run of gains. Miners and banks were the biggest drags on Tuesday. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2% to 11,665.26 Stocks in India resumed a decline after bellwether Tata Consultancy’s quarterly earnings showed increasing caution over technology spending amid an uncertain economic outlook. The S&P BSE Sensex fell 1% to 60,115.48 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index declined by an equal measure. Both the gauges are close to extending their losses from peak levels last month to 5% as investors resort to profit-taking at the start of the earnings season. Sixteen of BSE Ltd.’s 20 sector sub-gauges declined, led by telecom companies, while Reliance Industries was the biggest drag on the Sensex, plunging 1.5%. Tata Consultancy Services closed 1% lower after its net income for the fiscal third quarter trailed estimates. Foreign investors have been sellers of local shares this month, taking out about $602 million through Jan. 6 after $167m of outflows in December. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Index jumped near session highs after the greenback initially slipped against most of its Group-of-10 peers. The dollar finds itself at a make-or-break technical moment, with its two-year rally under threat as key US inflation data looms. The euro rose to a daily high of around $1.0750 in European session. The euro hit fresh cycle highs Monday and options pricing is coming to reflect a more constructive outlook in the short-term. Bunds and Italian bonds dropped, underperforming Treasuries The Canadian dollar was steady. USD/CAD’s downward path is being refueled in the options space as traders position for an extended period of US dollar weakness The Australian dollar was the worst G-10 performer. Sovereign bonds inched up The yen was steady at 131.80 per dollar. Tokyo’s inflation outpaced forecasts to hit 4% for the first time since 1982, suggesting the underlying price trend is stronger than expected by economists, a factor that could further fuel speculation the Bank of Japan will adjust policy again In rates, Treasuries ease lower, following wider losses across core European rates amid supply pressures and ahead of a Riksbank conference on central bank independence where ECB’s Schnabel, BOE Governor Bailey and Fed Chair Powell are all scheduled to speak. US 10-year yield around 3.56%, cheaper by 3bp on the day with bunds and gilts lagging by additional 2.5bp and 2bp; long-end Treasuries outperformance flattens 5s30s by 1.5bp vs Monday’s close.  Front-end and intermediates lead slight losses in Treasuries, flattening 5s30s spread. After Powell appearance, the year's first auction cycle begins at 1pm ET with $40bn in 3-year new issue, followed by $32b 10-year, $18b 30-year reopenings on Wednesday and Thursday.  European bonds are also in the red with Bund futures underperforming their UK counterparts. The Gilt curve bear steepens with 2s10s widening 2.1bps. In commodities, crude futures reversed an earlier drop to trade higher. WTI Has added 0.5% to trade near $75.00. Spot gold rises roughly $5 to trade near $1,877/oz. Bitcoin is support above the USD 17k mark, holding towards the top-end of USD 17133-17294 parameters. Looking to the day ahea, at 9 a.m., Fed Chair Jerome Powell will speak at an event hosted by the Swedish central bank. Other speakers include  BoE Governor Bailey, BoJ Governor Kuroda, BoC Governor Macklem, and the ECB’s Schnabel, De Cos, and Knot. An hour later, we’ll get the latest data on wholesale inventories. At 10:30 a.m., President Joe Biden will meet Canada’s Justin Trudeau, while Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen meets Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland at 1:30 p.m. The US will sell $40 billion 3-year notes at 1 p.m. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.5% to 3,896 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.7% to 445.05 MXAP little changed at 161.72 MXAPJ down 0.3% to 534.27 Nikkei up 0.8% to 26,175.56 Topix up 0.3% to 1,880.88 Hang Seng Index down 0.3% to 21,331.46 Shanghai Composite down 0.2% to 3,169.51 Sensex down 1.1% to 60,097.38 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,131.00 Kospi little changed at 2,351.31 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.27% Euro up 0.2% to $1.0751 Brent Futures up 0.1% to $79.73/bbl Brent Futures up 0.1% to $79.74/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,876.70 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 103.06 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Cost pressures in corporate Germany appear to be easing, with fewer companies planning price increases during the coming months. Price expectations for the whole economy fell to 40.3 points in December from 46.2 points the previous month, according to a survey by the Ifo Institute published Tuesday Back in October equities and bonds were breaking from their normal settings to move together far more tightly than at almost any stage in history. Since then, the ties have only become tighter, as the prospects of an end to Fed rate hikes helps to drive gains for both Treasury futures and S&P 500 contracts East European nations started 2023 with a flurry of dollar issuance, putting the region on track for a record year as it rediscovers the foreign-debt market beyond its traditional euro-denominated sales Deflationary pressure in China worsened in the fourth quarter as the economy slumped, with price-growth likely to be subdued even when the economy rebounds later this year, according to China Beige Book International Egypt’s urban inflation accelerated at its fastest pace in five years as several rounds of currency devaluation filtered through to consumers A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks traded mostly lower as the risk appetite in the region stalled following a similar handover from Wall St where the major indices failed to sustain early gains despite a further dovish Fed repricing. ASX 200 was lacklustre amid weakness in industrials and mining stocks, although price action was rangebound amid the lack of any major fresh drivers. Nikkei 225 outperformed as it played catch-up to Monday’s advances on return from the extended weekend but with upside capped as participants also reflected on weak Household Spending and firm Tokyo CPI data releases. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were indecisive as the border reopening euphoria faded and despite reports that China will cut VAT for small businesses, while the PBoC also continued to drain liquidity. Top Asian News Chinese state media noted that the COVID-19 wave is past its peak in many parts of China. China's embassy in South Korea stopped issuing short-term visas for Korean citizens visiting China and said it will adjust policy subject to the lifting of South Korea's discriminatory entry restrictions against China, according to Reuters. Subsequently, the embassies in Japan took the same step. China's State Planner publishes registration rules for mid- & long-term foreign borrowings by companies, aimed at promoting orderly offshore financing. PBoC is to increase financial support for domestic demand and the supply system, to guide the balance sheets of high-quality real estate enterprises back to a safe range, ensure steady and orderly property financing. European bourses are underpressure, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.5%, in a continuation of the tepid APAC tone amid minimal newsflow. US futures are similarly contained and are diverging slightly around the unchanged mark pre-Powell. Amazon (AMZN) intends to close three UK warehouses (will impact 1,200 jobs), according to the PA. Top European News ECB's Schnabel says greening monetary policy requires structural changes to our monetary policy framework rather than adjustments to our reaction function. Preliminary inflation data for December point to a persistent build-up of underlying price pressures even as energy price inflation has started to subside. Interest rates will still have to rise significantly at a steady pace to reach levels that are sufficiently restrictive. Adyen, Nexi to Be Hit by Weaker Card Spending, Barclays Says Teneo Is Said to Near Deal to Buy British PR Firm Tulchan RBC Sees Good Growth For European Luxury and Premium Brands Uniper Says CEO and COO to Resign After Government Takeover FX Dollar is trying to regroup ahead of Fed Chair Powell, but DXY is heavy on the 103.000 handle and mixed vs majors. Kiwi marginally outperforming as Aussie retreats with Yuan after some Chinese officials warn about 2-way volatility in 2023. AUD/NZD cross reverses towards 1.0800 from 1.0860+, USD/CNH bounces from 6.7585 to almost 6.8000. Euro consolidates on a 1.0700 handle vs Buck, but Pound runs into resistance pips from 1.2200 PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 6.7611 vs exp. 6.7613 (prev. 6.8265) Fixed Income Bonds retreat further from peaks in consolidation and consideration of heavy conventional and syndicated issuance. Bunds sub-137.00 and very close to Monday's base, Gilts mostly under 102.00 and T-note below par within a 114-19+/11 range. Focus on Central Bank speakers at a Riksbank symposium where ECB's Schnabel has already been hawkish. Saudi Arabia has begun marketing a three-part USD bond, via Bloomberg. Commodities Crude benchmarks spent much of the European morning little changed, but have recently broken out of and eclipsed initial parameters, with upside of circa. USD 0.50/bbl as such. Barclays remains constructive on the space reiterating its Brent 2023 forecast of USD 98/bbl; writing there is the potential for USD 15-25/bbl of downside if the slump in global manufacturing worsens.. Goldman Sachs cut its Summer 2023 TTF price forecast by EUR 80 to EUR 100/MWh, citing exceptionally warm realised and forecast weather, as well as strong energy conservation. Iraq's December crude production was unchanged from November at 4.43mln BPD; in-line with its OPEC+ quota. Large Chinese nickel producer Tsingshan is in talks with struggling Chinese copper plants regarding processing its material which could double Chinese refined nickel output this year, according to Mining.com. LME says further work will be required to prepare and communicate to the market a detailed implementation plan re. the Oliver Wydman review. Spot gold and silver are diverging a touch and remain in close proximity to the unchanged mark in similarly narrow ranges, base metals are generally contained though the negative APAC bias remains in play. Geopolitics US Pentagon is mulling sending Stryker armoured vehicles to Ukraine in an upcoming aid package, according to people familiar with the matter cited by Politico. UK is willing to send battle tanks to Ukraine with PM Sunak supportive of Challenger II supply that could provide Ukrainian President Zelensky with a ‘knockout punch’, according to The Telegraph. Russian Defence Minister Shoigu says Moscow will develop its nuclear triad and be the main guarantee of Russian sovereignty, according to Interfax. Crypto Bitcoin is support above the USD 17k mark, holding towards the top-end of USD 17133-17294 parameters. US Event Calendar 06:00: Dec. SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM, 89.8; est. 91.5, prior 91.9 10:00: Nov. Wholesale Trade Sales MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.4% 10:00: Nov. Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 1.0%, prior 1.0% Central Bank Speakers 05:10: Bailey, Schnabel, Macklem Speak in Stockholm 09:00: Powell Discusses Central Bank Independence at Riksbank Event DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Markets looked set to start the week off with a positive start across the globe yesterday until the last hurdle as the S&P 500 slipped around 1.5% from the European close to end -0.07%. The narrative explaining the reversal centred around more hawkish Fed speak but short-end markets didn’t move at all over this period so one has to be cautious on the reasons for the dip. For the record though, Atlanta Fed President Bostic indicated that the Fed was committed to raising interest rates into a “5-5.25% range” and then holding there through 2024 in order to stamp down on excess demand in the economy. The length of time and the implication that rate cuts were not imminent seems to have been what the market grabbed on to, and this mirrors the comments from the FOMC minutes earlier this month, which indicated the Fed’s concern over a “pause” being mistaken by the market as a “pivot”. Bostic also was in favour of slowing rate hikes to 25bps in February if the inflation print on Thursday showed consumer prices cooling after the payrolls data last Friday showed slowing wage growth. Separately, San Francisco Fed President Daly said that she expected the fed funds rate to reach above 5% but that the final level is dependent on incoming inflation data, while highlighting how core services ex-housing has been a persistent source of pricing pressures. Neither Fed presidents are voting members this year, but offer a window into the FOMC’s thinking but as we said, Fed pricing was also little changed after these comments. Those remarks come ahead of Fed Chair Powell today, who’ll be speaking at an event on central bank independence at 14:00 London time. It’s uncertain whether the topic in question will lead to an in-depth policy discussion, but if we do get any, a key question will be whether he entertains the prospect of a further downshift in the pace of rate hikes to 25bps. That’s currently the base case in markets, but clearly the CPI release on Thursday will be an influence on this and to future FOMC meetings too. Most of the US session was more about pricing in less Fed hikes over the coming months with the 10yr yield down -2.59bps to 3.532% (fairly flat in Asia this morning). Investors also continued to downgrade their expectations for further hikes from the Fed, with the year-end rate at just 4.44%, down -4.2bps on the day. Those moves were given a further boost by data from the New York Fed, whose data on inflation expectations showed that 1yr expectations fell to a 17-month low in December of 5.0%. That said, the news wasn’t quite as positive when it came to longer time horizons, with 3yr expectations remaining at 3.0%, and 5yr expectations ticking up a tenth to 2.4%. Even though US equities gave up gains, Tech stocks outperformed with yields lower, with both the NASDAQ (+0.63%) and particularly the FANG+ index (+2.41%) holding on to larger gains. Tesla (+5.9%) was the best performing member of the large-cap index and reduced its YTD losses to -2.77%. And back in Europe, the STOXX 600 (+0.88%) continued to move higher, bringing its 2023 YTD gains to +5.52%, and marking out European equities as one of the top 2023 performers so far. However, one area that struggled yesterday were European sovereigns, with yields on 10yr bunds (+1.8bps) and OATs (+1.1bps) both rising, even if both had come off their earlier session highs. That followed data showing that Euro Area unemployment remained at a record low of 6.5% in November, which points to a historically tight labour market that could lead to further wage and hence inflationary pressures. Gilts were one of the biggest underperformers, with the 10yr yield up +5.4bps on the day amidst a speech from BoE chief economist Pill. In his remarks, he said that “the distinctive context that prevails in the UK… creates the potential for inflation to prove more persistent”. In terms of currencies, the US Dollar index (-0.85%) weakened to its lowest level since early June, which brings its declines to almost -10% (-9.73%) since its peak in late-September, back when the UK mini-budget turmoil was at its height and global markets were selling off more broadly. This decline in the dollar very much leans into our strategists’ latest FX blueprint, where they write that various forces such as a reversal in the European energy shock and the economic reopening in China have bearish implications for the dollar with a target of $1.15 by year-end (current $1.07). You can read their full piece here. That dollar weakness went hand-in-hand with noticeably tighter CDS spreads for most of the day, hitting levels we haven’t seen in months. For instance in Europe, the iTraxx Crossover tightened -8.4bps to 417bps, meaning it’s now more than -250bps beneath its own peak in late-September and the tightest since April. Meanwhile in the US, the CDX HY spread was down -10bps to 438bps at one point, its tightest level since August, before the late turn in risk assets saw CDX HY spreads wider (+1.9bps) on the day. A reminder that we revised our already bullish Euro Q1 credit spreads forecasts tighter over the weekend. See the piece here. Asian equity markets are mixed this morning with the Hang Seng (-0.34%), the Shanghai Composite (-0.18%) and the CSI (-0.10%) lower whilst the KOSPI (+0.31%) and Nikkei (+0.76%) are edging higher with the latter reopening following a public holiday. DM stock futures are pricing in a weaker start with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.28%), NASDAQ 100 (-0.35%) and the DAX (-0.85%) all trading in the red. Early morning data showed broadening signs of inflationary pressures in Japan after Tokyo’s core consumer prices advanced +4.0% y/y in December - the fastest pace in four decades and beating market expectations of a +3.8% gain and against a +3.6% increase last month. With the core inflation figure staying above the BOJ’s 2% price target for the seventh consecutive month, it further heightens the possibility of an additional rise in the nationwide CPI. There wasn’t much in the way of other data yesterday, although German industrial production grew by +0.2% in November (vs. +0.3% expected), and the previous month’s decline was revised to show a larger -0.4% contraction (vs. -0.1% previously). To the day ahead now, and there are an array of central bank speakers including Fed Chair Powell, BoE Governor Bailey, BoJ Governor Kuroda, BoC Governor Macklem, and the ECB’s Schnabel, De Cos, and Knot. Otherwise, data releases include French industrial production for November, and in the US there’s the NFIB’s small business optimism index for December. Tyler Durden Tue, 01/10/2023 - 08:08.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 10th, 2023

An Age Of Decay

An Age Of Decay Authored by Chris Buskirk via AmGreatness.com, This essay is adapted from "America and the Art of the Possible: Restoring National Vitality in an Age of Decay," by Chris Buskirk (Encounter, 192 pages, $28.99) The fact that American living standards have broadly stagnated, and for some segments of the population have declined, should be cause for real concern to the ruling class... America ran out of frontier when we hit the Pacific Ocean. And that changed things. Alaska and Hawaii were too far away to figure in most people’s aspirations, so for decades, it was the West Coast states and especially California that represented dreams and possibilities in the national imagination. The American dream reached its apotheosis in California. After World War II, the state became our collective tomorrow. But today, it looks more like a future that the rest of the country should avoid—a place where a few coastal enclaves have grown fabulously wealthy while everyone else falls further and further behind. After World War II, California led the way on every front. The population was growing quickly as people moved to the state in search of opportunity and young families had children. The economy was vibrant and diverse. Southern California benefited from the presence of defense contractors. San Diego was a Navy town, and demobilized GIs returning from the Pacific Front decided to stay and put down roots. Between 1950 and 1960, the population of the Los Angeles metropolitan area swelled from 4,046,000 to 6,530,000. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory was inaugurated in the 1930s by researchers at the California Institute of Technology. One of the founders, Jack Parsons, became a prominent member of an occult sect in the late 1940s based in Pasadena that practiced “Thelemic Magick” in ceremonies called the “Babalon Working.” L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology (1950), was an associate of Parsons and rented rooms in his home. The counterculture, or rather, countercultures, had deep roots in the state. Youth culture was born in California, arising out of a combination of rapid growth, the Baby Boom, the general absence of extended families, plentiful sunshine, the car culture, and the space afforded by newly built suburbs where teenagers could be relatively free from adult supervision. Tom Wolfe memorably described this era in his 1963 essay “The Kandy-Colored Tangerine Flake Streamline, Baby.” The student protest movement began in California too. In 1960, hundreds of protesters, many from the University of California at Berkeley, sought to disrupt a hearing of the House Un-American Activities Committee at the San Francisco City Hall. The police turned fire hoses on the crowd and arrested over thirty students. The Baby Boomers may have inherited the protest movement, but they didn’t create it. Its founders were part of the Silent Generation. Clark Kerr, the president of the UC system who earned a reputation for giving student protesters what they wanted, was from the Greatest Generation. Something in California, and in America, had already changed. California was a sea of ferment during the 1960s—a turbulent brew of contrasting trends, as Tom O’Neill described it:  The state was the epicenter of the summer of love, but it had also seen the ascent of Reagan and Nixon. It had seen the Watts riots, the birth of the antiwar movement, and the Altamont concert disaster, the Free Speech movement and the Hells Angels. Here, defense contractors, Cold Warriors, and nascent tech companies lived just down the road from hippie communes, love-ins, and surf shops. Hollywood was the entertainment capital of the world, producing a vision of peace and prosperity that it sold to interior America—and to the world as the beau ideal of the American experiment. It was a prosperous life centered around the nuclear family living in a single-family home in the burgeoning suburbs. Doris Day became America’s sweetheart through a series of romantic comedies, but the turbulence in her own life foreshadowed America’s turn from vitality to decay. She was married three times, and her first husband either embezzled or mismanaged her substantial fortune. Her son, Terry Melcher, was closely associated with Charles Manson and the Family, along with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys—avatars of the California lifestyle that epitomized the American dream.  The Manson Family spent the summer of 1968 living and partying with Wilson in his Malibu mansion. The Cielo Drive home in the Hollywood Hills where Sharon Tate and four others were murdered in August 1969 had been Melcher’s home and the site of parties that Manson attended. The connections between Doris Day’s son, the Beach Boys, and the Manson Family have a darkly prophetic valence in retrospect. They were young, good-looking, and carefree. But behind the clean-cut image of wholesome American youth was a desperate decadence fueled by titanic drug abuse, sexual outrages that were absurd even by the standards of Hollywood in the 60s, and self-destructiveness clothed in the language of pseudo-spirituality. The California culture of the 1960s now looks like a fin-de-siècle blow-off top. The promise, fulfillment, and destruction of the American dream appears distilled in the Golden State, like an epic tragedy played out against a sunny landscape where the frontier ended. Around 1970, America entered into an age of decay, and California was in the vanguard.   H. Abernathy/ClassicStock/Getty Images Up, Up, and Away The expectation of constant progress is deeply ingrained in our understanding of the world, and of America in particular. Some metrics do generally keep rising: gross domestic product mostly goes up, and so does the stock market. According to those barometers, things must be headed mostly in the right direction. Sure there are temporary setbacks—the economy has recessions, the stock market has corrections—but the long-term trajectory is upward. Are those metrics telling us that the country is growing more prosperous? Are they signals, or noise? There is much that GDP and the stock market don’t tell us about, such as public and private debt levels, wage trends, and wealth concentration. In fact, during a half-century in which reported GDP grew consistently and the stock market reached the stratosphere, real wages have crept up very slowly, and living standards have flatlined or even declined for the middle and working classes. Many Americans have a feeling that things aren’t going in the right direction or that the country has lost its societal health and vigor, but aren’t sure how to describe or measure the problem. We need broader metrics of national prosperity and vitality, including measures of noneconomic values like family stability or social trust. There are many different criteria for national vitality. First, is the country guarded against foreign aggression and at peace with itself? Are people secure in their homes, free from government harassment, and safe from violent crime? Is prosperity broadly shared? Can the average person get a good job, buy a house, and support a family without doing anything extraordinary? Are families growing? Are people generally healthy, and is life span increasing or at least not decreasing? Is social trust high? Do people have a sense of unity in a common destiny and purpose? Is there a high capacity for collective action? Are people happy? We can sort quantifiable metrics of vitality into three main categories: social, economic, and political. There is a spiritual element too, which for my purposes falls under the social category. The social factors that can readily be measured include things like age at first marriage (an indicator of optimism about the future), median adult stature (is it rising or declining?), life expectancy, and prevalence of disease. Economic measures include real wage trends, wealth concentration, and social mobility. Political metrics relate to polarization and acts of political violence.  Many of these tend to move together over long periods of time. It’s easy to look at an individual metric and miss the forest for the trees, not seeing how it’s one manifestation of a larger problem in a dynamic system. Solutions proposed to deal with one concern may cause unexpected new problems in another part of the system. It’s a society-wide game of whack-a-mole. What’s needed is a more comprehensive understanding of structural trends and what lies behind them. From the founding period in America until about 1830, those factors were generally improving. Life expectancy and median height were increasing, both indicating a society that was mostly at peace and had plentiful food. Real wages roughly tripled during this period as labor supply growth was slow. There was some political violence. But for decades after independence, the country was largely at peace and citizens were secure in their homes. There was an overarching sense of shared purpose in building a new nation.  Those indicators of vitality are no longer trending upward. Let’s start with life expectancy. There is a general impression that up until the last century, people died very young. There’s an element of truth to this: we are now less susceptible to death from infectious disease, especially in early childhood, than were our ancestors before the 20th century. Childhood mortality rates were appalling in the past, but burying a young child is now a rare tragedy. This is a very real form of progress, resulting from more reliable food supplies as a result of improvements in agriculture, better sanitation in cities, and medical advances, particularly the antibiotics and certain vaccines introduced in the first half of the 20th century. A period of rapid progress was then followed by a long period of slow, expensive improvement at the margins. When you factor out childhood mortality, life spans have not grown by much in the past century or two. A study in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine says that in mid-Victorian England, life expectancy at age five was 75 for men and 73 for women. In 2016, according to the Social Security Administration, the American male life expectancy at age five was 71.53 (which means living to age 76.53). Once you’ve made it to five years, your life expectancy is not much different from your great-grandfather’s. Moreover, Pliny tells us that Cicero’s wife, Terentia, lived to 103. Eleanor of Aquitaine, queen of both France and England at different times in the 12th century, died a week shy of her 82nd birthday. A study of 298 famous men born before 100 B.C. who were not murdered, killed in battle, or died by suicide found that their average age at death was 71. More striking is that people who live completely outside of modern civilization without Western medicine today have life expectancies roughly comparable to our own. Daniel Lieberman, a biological anthropologist at Harvard, notes that “foragers who survive the precarious first few years of infancy are most likely to live to be 68 to 78 years old.”  In some ways, they are healthier in old age than the average American, with lower incidences of inflammatory diseases like diabetes and atherosclerosis. It should be no surprise that an active life spent outside in the sun, eating wild game and foraged plants, produces good health. Recent research shows that not only are we not living longer, we are less healthy and less mobile during the last decades of our lives than our great-grandfathers were. This points to a decline in overall health. We have new drugs to treat Type I diabetes, but there is more Type I diabetes than in the past. We have new treatments for cancer, but there is more cancer. Something has gone very wrong. What’s more, between 2014 and 2017, median American life expectancy declined every year. In 2017 it was 78.6 years, then it decreased again between 2018 and 2020 to 76.87. The figure for 2020 includes COVID deaths, of course, but the trend was already heading downward for several years, mostly from deaths of despair: diseases associated with chronic alcoholism, drug overdoses, and suicide. The reasons for the increase in deaths of despair are complex, but a major contributing factor is economic: people without good prospects over an extended period of time are more prone to self-destructive behavior. This decline is in contrast to the experience of peer countries. In addition to life expectancy, other upward trends have stalled or reversed in the past few decades. Family formation has slowed. The total fertility rate has dropped to well below replacement level. Real wages have stagnated. Debt levels have soared. Social mobility has stalled and income inequality has grown. Material conditions for most people have improved little except in narrow parts of life such as entertainment. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Trends, Aggregate, and Individuals  The last several decades have been a story of losing ground for much of middle America, away from a handful of wealthy cities on the coasts. The optimistic story that’s been told is that both income and wealth have been rising. That’s true in the aggregate, but when those numbers are broken down the picture is one of a rising gap between a small group of winners and a larger group of losers. Real wages have remained essentially flat over the past 50 years, and the growth in national wealth has been heavily concentrated at the top. The chart below represents the share of national income that went to the top 10 percent of earners in the United States. In 1970 it was 33.3 percent; in 2019 the figure was 45.4 percent. Disparities in wealth have become more closely tied to educational attainment. Between 1989 and 2019, household wealth grew the most for those with the highest level of education. For households with a graduate degree, the increase was 31 percent; with a college degree, it was 17 percent; with a high school degree, about 4 percent. Meanwhile, household wealth declined by a precipitous 60 percent for high school dropouts, including those with a GED. In 1989, households with a college degree had 2.74 times the wealth of those with only a high school diploma; in 2012 it was 3.08 times as much. In 1989, households with a graduate degree had 4.85 times the wealth of the high school group; in 2019, it was 6.12 times as much. The gap between the graduate degree group and the college group increased by 12 percent. The high school group’s wealth grew about 4 percent from 1989 to 2019, the college group’s wealth grew about 17 percent, and the wealth of the graduate degree group increased 31 percent. The gaps between the groups are growing in real dollars. It’s true that people have some control over the level of education they attain, but college has become costlier, and it’s fundamentally unnecessary for many jobs, so the growing wealth disparity by education is a worrying trend. Wealth is relative: if your wealth grew by 4 percent while that of another group increased by 17 percent, then you are poorer. What’s more crucial, however, is purchasing power. If the costs of middle-class staples like healthcare, housing, and college tuition are climbing sharply while wages stagnate, then living standards will decline. More problematic than growing wealth disparity in itself is diminishing economic mobility. A big part of the American story from the beginning has been that children tend to end up better off than their parents were. By most measures, that hasn’t been true for decades. The chart below compares the birth cohorts of 1940 and 1980 in terms of earning more than parents did. The horizontal axis indicates the relative income level of the parents. Among the older generation, over 90 percent earned more than their parents, except for those whose parents were at the very high end of the income scale. Among the younger generation, the percentages were much lower, and also more variable. For those whose parents had a median income, only about 40 percent would do better. In this analysis, low growth and high inequality both suppress mobility. Over time, declining economic mobility becomes an intergenerational problem, as younger people fall behind the preceding generation in wealth accumulation. The graph below illustrates the proportion of the national wealth held by successive generations at the same stage of life, with the horizontal axis indicating the median age for the group. Baby Boomers (birth years 1946–1964) owned a much larger percentage of the national wealth than the two succeeding generations at every point. At a median age of 45, for example, the Boomers owned approximately 40 percent of the national wealth. At the same median age, Generation X (1965–1980) owned about 15 percent. The Boomer generation was 15–18 percent larger than Gen X and it had 2.67 times as much of the national wealth. The Millennial generation (1981–1996) is bigger than Gen X though a little smaller than the Boomers, and it has owned about half of what Gen X did at the same median age. Those are some measurable indicators of the nation’s vitality, and they tell us that something is going wrong. A key reason for stagnant wages, declining mobility, and growing disparities of wealth is that economic growth overall has been sluggish since around 1970. And the main reason for slower growth is that the long-term growth in productivity that created so much wealth for America and the world over the prior two centuries slowed down. Wealth and the New Frontier There are other ways to increase the overall national wealth. One is by acquiring new resources, which has been done in various ways: through territorial conquest, or the incorporation of unsettled frontier lands, or the discovery of valuable resources already in a nation’s territory, such as petroleum reserves in recent history. Getting an advantageous trade agreement can also be a way of increasing resources.  Through much of American history, the frontier was a great source of new wealth. The vast supply of mostly free land, along with the other resources it held, was not just an economic boon; it also shaped American culture and politics in ways that were distinct from the long-settled countries of Europe where the frontier had been closed for centuries and all the land was owned space.  But there can be a downside to becoming overly dependent on any one resource. Aside from gaining new resources, real economic growth comes from either population growth or productivity growth. Population growth can add to the national wealth, but it can also put strain on supplies of essential resources. What elevates living standards broadly is productivity growth, making more out of available resources. A farmer who tills his fields with a steel plough pulled by a horse can cultivate more land than a farmer doing it by hand. It allows him to produce more food that can be consumed by a bigger family, or the surplus can be sold or traded for other goods. A farmer driving a plough with an engine and reaping with a mechanical combine can produce even more.  But productivity growth is driven by innovation. In the example above, there is a progression from farming by hand with a simple tool, to the use of metal tools and animal power, to the use of complicated machinery, each of which greatly increases the amount of food produced per farmer. This illustrates the basic truth that technology is a means of reducing scarcity and generating surpluses of essential goods, so labor and resources can be put toward other purposes, and the whole population will be better off. Total factor productivity (TFP) refers to economic output relative to the size of all primary inputs, namely labor and capital. Over time, a nation’s economic output tends to grow faster than its labor force and capital stock. This might owe to better labor skills or capital management, but it is primarily the result of new technology. In economics, productivity growth is used as a proxy for the application of innovation. If productivity is rising, it is understood to mean that applied science is working to reduce scarcity. The countries that lead in technological innovation naturally reap the benefits first and most broadly, and therefore have the highest living standards. Developing countries eventually get the technology too, and then enjoy the benefits in what is called catch-up growth. For example, China first began its national electrification program in the 1950s, when electricity was nearly ubiquitous in the United States. The project took a few decades to complete, and China saw rapid growth as wide access to electric power increased productivity. The United States still leads the way in innovation—though now with more competition than at any time since World War II. But the development of productivity-enhancing new technologies has been slower over the past few decades than in any comparable span of time since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 18th century. The obvious advances in a few specific areas, particularly digital technology, are exceptions that prove the rule. The social technologies of recent years facilitate consumption rather than production.As a result, growth in total factor productivity has been slow for a long time. According to a report from Rabobank, “TFP growth deteriorated from an average annual growth of 1.1% over the period 1969–2010 to 0.4% in 2010 to 2018.”  In The Great Stagnation, Tyler Cowen suggested that the conventional productivity measures may be misleading. For example, he noted that productivity growth through 2000–2004 averaged 3.8 percent, a very high figure and an outlier relative to most of the last half-century. Surely some of that growth was real owing to the growth of the internet at the time, but it also coincided with robust growth in the financial sector, which ended very badly in 2008.  “What we measured as value creation actually may have been value destruction, namely too many homes and too much financial innovation of the wrong kind.” Then, productivity shot up by over 5 percent in 2009–2010, but Cohen found that it was mostly the result of firms firing the least productive people. That may have been good business, but it’s not the same as productivity rising because innovation is reducing scarcity and thus leading to better living standards. Over the long term, when productivity growth slows or stalls, overall economic growth is sluggish. Median real wage growth is slow. For most people, living standards don’t just stagnate but decline. Spencer Platt/Getty Images You Owe Me Money As productivity growth has slowed, the economy has become more financialized, which means that resources are increasingly channeled into means of extracting wealth from the productive economy instead of producing goods and services. Peter Thiel said that a simple way to understand financialization is that it represents the increasing influence of companies whose main business or source of value is producing little pieces of paper that essentially say, you owe me money. Wall Street and the companies that make up the financial sector have never been larger or more powerful. Since the early 1970s, financial firms’ share of all corporate earnings has roughly doubled to nearly 25 percent. As a share of real GDP, it grew from 13–15 percent in the early 1970s to nearly 22 percent in 2020.  The profits of financial firms have grown faster than their share of the economy over the past half-century. The examples are everywhere. Many companies that were built to produce real-world, nondigital goods and services have become stealth finance companies, too. General Electric, the manufacturing giant founded by Thomas Edison, transformed itself into a black box of finance businesses, dragging itself down as a result. The total market value of major airlines like American, United, and Delta is less than the value of their loyalty programs, in which people get miles by flying and by spending with airline-branded credit cards. In 2020, American Airlines’ loyalty program was valued at $18–$30 billion while the market capitalization of the entire company was $14 billion. This suggests that the actual airline business—flying people from one place to another—is valuable only insofar as it gets people to participate in a loyalty program. The main result of financialization is best explained by the “Cantillon effect,” which means that money creation, over a long period of time, redistributes wealth upward to the already rich. This effect was first described in the 18th century by Richard Cantillon after he observed the results of introducing a paper money system. He noted that the first people to receive the new money saw their incomes rise, while the last to receive it saw a decline in their purchasing power because of consumer price inflation. The first to receive newly created money are banks and other financial institutions. They are called “Cantillon insiders,” a term coined by Nick Szabo, and they get the most benefit. But all owners of assets—including stocks, real estate, even a home—are enriched to some extent by the Cantillon effect. Those who own a lot of assets benefit the most, and financial assets tend to increase in value faster than other types, but all gain value. This is a version of the Matthew Principle, taken from Jesus’ Parable of the Sower: to those who have, more will be given. The more assets you own, the faster your wealth will increase. Meanwhile, the people without assets fall behind as asset prices rise faster than incomes. Inflation hawks have long worried that America’s decades-long policy of running large government deficits combined with easy money from the Fed will lead to runaway inflation that beggars average Americans. This was seen clearly in 2022 after the massive increase in dollars created by the Fed in 2020 and 2021.  Even so, they’ve mostly been looking for inflation in the wrong place. It’s true that the prices of many raw materials, such as lumber and corn, have soared recently, followed by much more broad-based inflation in everything from food to rent, but inflation in the form of asset price bubbles has been with us for much longer. Those bubbles pop and prices drop, but the next bubble raises them even higher. Asset price inflation benefits asset owners, but not the people with few or no assets, like young people just starting out and finding themselves unable to afford to buy a home. The Cantillon effect has been one of the main vectors of increased wealth concentration over the last 40 years. One way that the large banks use their insider status is by getting short-term loans from the Federal Reserve and lending the money back to the government by buying longer-term treasuries at a slightly higher interest rate and locking in a profit.  Their position in the economy essentially guarantees them profits, and their size and political influence protect them from losses. We’ve seen the pattern of private profits and public losses clearly in the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, and in the financial crisis of 2008. Banks and speculators made a lot of money in the years leading up to the crisis, and when the losses on their bad loans came due, they got bailouts. Moral Hazard The Cantillon economy creates moral hazard in that large companies, especially financial institutions, can privatize profits and socialize losses. Insiders, and shareholders more broadly, can reap massive gains when the bets they make with the company’s capital pay off. When the bets go bad, the company gets bailed out. Alan Krueger, the chief economist at theTreasury Department in the Obama Administration, explained years later why banks and not homeowners were rescued from the fallout of the mortgage crisis: “It would have been extremely unfair, and created problems down the road to bail out homeowners who were irresponsible and took on homes they couldn’t afford.” Krueger glossed over the fact that the banks had used predatory and deceptive practices to initiate risky loans, and when they lost hundreds of billions of dollars—or trillions by some estimates—they were bailed out while homeowners were kicked out. That callous indifference alienates and radicalizes the forgotten men and women who have been losing ground. Most people know about the big bailouts in 2008, but the system that joins private profit with socialized losses regularly creates incentives for sloppiness and corruption. The greed sometimes takes ridiculous forms. But once that culture takes over, it poisons everything it touches. Starting in 2002, for example, Wells Fargo began a scam in which it paid employees to open more than 3.5 million unauthorized checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards for retail customers. By exaggerating growth in the number of active retail accounts, the bank could give investors a false picture of the health of its retail business. It also charged those customers monthly service fees, which contributed to the bottom line and bolstered the numbers in quarterly earnings reports to Wall Street. Bigger profits led to higher stock prices, enriching senior executives whose compensation packages included large options grants.  John Stumpf, the company’s CEO from 2007 to 2016, was forced to resign and disgorge around $40 million in repayments to Wells Fargo and fines to the federal government. Bloomberg estimates that he retained more than $100 million. Wells Fargo paid a $3 billion fine, which amounted to less than two months’ profit, as the bank’s annual profits averaged around $19.7 billion from 2017 to 2019. And this was for a scam that lasted nearly 15 years. What is perhaps most absurd and despicable about this scheme is that Wells Fargo was conducting it during and even after the credit bubble, when the bank received billions of dollars in bailouts from the government. The alliance between the largest corporations and the state leads to corrupt and abusive practices. This is one of the second-order effects of the Cantillon economy. Another effect is that managers respond to short-term financial incentives in a way that undermines the long-term vitality of their own company. An excessive focus on quarterly earnings is sometimes referred to as short-termism. Senior managers, especially at the C-suite level of public companies, are largely compensated with stock options, so they have a strong incentive to see the stock rise. In principle, a rising stock price should reflect a healthy, growing, profitable company. But managers figured out how to game the system: with the Fed keeping long-term rates low, corporations can borrow money at a much lower rate than the expected return in the stock market. Many companies have taken on long-term debt to finance stock repurchases, which helps inflate the stock price. This practice is one reason that corporate debt has soared since 1980. The Cantillon effect distorts resource allocation, incentivizing rent-seeking in the financial industry and rewarding nonfinancial companies for becoming stealth financial firms. Profits are quicker and easier in finance than in other industries. As a result, many smart, ambitious people go to Wall Street instead of trying to invent useful products or seeking a new source of abundant power—endeavors that don’t have as much assurance of a payoff. How different might America be if the incentives were structured to reward the people who put their brain power and energy into those sorts of projects rather than into quantitative trading algorithms and financial derivatives of home mortgages. While the financial industry does well, the manufacturing sector lags. Because of COVID-19, Americans discovered that the United States has very limited capacity to make the personal protective equipment that was in such urgent demand in 2020. We do not manufacture any of the most widely prescribed antibiotics, or drugs for heart disease or diabetes, nor any of the chemical precursors required to make them. A close look at other vital industries reveals the same penury. The rare earth minerals necessary for batteries and electronic screens mostly come from China because we have intentionally shuttered domestic sources or failed to develop them. We’re dependent on Taiwan for the computer chips that go into everything from phones to cars to appliances, and broken supply chains in 2021 led to widespread shortages. The list of necessities we import because we have exported our manufacturing base goes on. Financialization of the economy amplifies the resource curse that has come with dollar supremacy. Richard Cantillon described a similar effect when he observed what happened to Spain and Portugal when they acquired large amounts of silver and gold from the New World. The new wealth raised prices, but it went largely into purchasing imported goods, which ruined the manufactures of the state and led to general impoverishment. In America today, a fiat currency that serves as the world’s reserve is the resource curse that erodes the manufacturing base while the financial sector flourishes. Since the dollar’s value was formally dissociated from gold in 1976, it now rests on American economic prosperity, political stability, and military supremacy. If these advantages diminish relative to competitors, so will the value of the dollar. Dollar supremacy has also encouraged a debt-based economy. Federal debt as a share of GDP has risen from around 38 percent in 1970 to nearly 140 percent in 2020. Corporate debt has had peaks and troughs over those decades, but each new peak is higher than the last. In the 1970s, total nonfinancial corporate debt in the United States ranged between 30 and 35 percent of GDP. It peaked at about 43 percent in 1990, then at 45 percent with the dot-com bubble in 2001, then at slightly higher with the housing bubble in 2008, and now it’s approximately 47 percent. As asset prices have climbed faster than wages, consumer debt has soared from 43.2 percent of GDP in 1970 to over 75 percent in 2020.  Student loan debt has soared even faster in recent years: in 2003, it totaled $240 billion—basically a rounding error—but by 2020, the sum had ballooned to six times as large, at $1.68 trillion, which amounts to around 8 percent of GDP. Increases in aggregate debt throughout society are a predictable result of the Cantillon effect in a financialized economy. The Rise of the Two-Income Family The Cantillon effect generates big gains for those closest to the money spigot, and especially those at the top of the financial industry, while the people furthest away fall behind. Average families find it more difficult to buy a home and maintain a middle-class life. In 90 percent of U.S. counties today, the median-priced single-family home is unaffordable on the median wage. One of the ways that families try to make ends meet is with the promiscuous use of credit. It’s one of the reasons that personal and household debt levels have risen across the board. People borrow money to cover the gap between expectations and reality, hoping that economic growth will soon pull them out of debt. But for many, it’s a trap they can never escape. Another way that families have tried to keep up is by adding a second income. In 2018, over 60 percent of families were two-income households, up from about 30 percent in 1970. This change is not a result of a simple desire to do wage work outside the home or of “increased opportunities,” as we are often told. The reason is that it now takes two incomes to support the needs of a middle-class family, whereas 50 years ago, it required only one. As more people entered the labor market, the value of labor declined, setting up a vicious cycle in which a second income came to be more necessary. China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 put more downward pressure on the value of labor. When people laud the fact that we have so many more two-income families—generally meaning more women working outside the home—as evidence that there are so many great opportunities, what they’re really doing is retconning something usually done out of economic necessity. Needing twice as much labor to get the same result is the opposite of what happens when productivity growth is robust. It also means that the raising of children is increasingly outsourced. That’s not an improvement. Another response to stagnant wages is to delay family formation and have fewer children. In 1960, the median age of a first marriage was about 20.5 years. In 2010, it was approximately 27, and in 2020 it was an all-time high of over 29.18  At the same time, the total fertility rate of American women was dropping: from 3.65 in 1960 down to 2.1, a little below replacement level, in the early 1970s. Currently, it hovers around 1.8. Some people may look on this approvingly, worried as they are about overpopulation and the impact of humans on the environment. But when people choose to have few or no children, it is usually not a political choice. That doesn’t mean it is simply a “revealed preference,” a lower desire for a family and children, rather than a reflection of personal challenges or how people view their prospects for the future. Surely it’s no coincidence that the shrinking of families has happened at the same time that real wages have stagnated or grown very slowly, while the costs of housing, health care, and higher education have soared. The fact that American living standards have broadly stagnated, and for some segments of the population have declined, should be cause for real concern to the ruling class. Americans expect economic mobility and a chance for prosperity. Without it, many will believe that the government has failed to deliver on its promises. The Chinese Communist Party is regarded as legitimate by the Chinese people because it has presided over a large, broad, multigenerational rise in living standards. If stagnation or decline in the United States is not addressed effectively, it will threaten the legitimacy of the governing institutions.  But instead of meeting the challenge head-on, America’s political and business leaders have pursued policies and strategies that exacerbate the problem. Woke policies in academia, government, and big business have created a stultifying environment that is openly hostile to heterodox views. Witness the response to views on COVID that contradicted official opinion. And all this happens against a backdrop of destructive fiscal and monetary policies. Low growth and low mobility tend to increase political instability when the legitimacy of the political order is predicated upon opportunity and egalitarianism. One source of national unity has been the understanding that every individual has an equal right to pursue happiness, that a dignified life is well within reach of the average person, and that the possibility of rising higher is open to all. When too many people feel they cannot rise, and when even the basics of a middle-class life are difficult to secure, disappointment can breed a sense of injustice that leads to social and political conflict. At first, that conflict acts as a drag on what American society can accomplish. Left unchecked, it will consume energy and resources that could otherwise be put into more productive activities. Thwarted personal aspirations are often channeled into politics and zero-sum factional conflict. The rise of identity politics represents a redirection of the frustrations born of broken dreams. But identity politics further divides us into hostile camps. We’ve already seen increased social unrest lately, and more is likely to follow. High levels of social and political conflict are dangerous for a country that hopes to maintain a popular form of government. Not so long ago, we could find unity in civic rituals and were encouraged to be proud of our country. Now our history is denigrated in schools and by other sensemaking institutions, leading to cultural dysphoria, social atomization, and alienation. In exchange, you can choose your pronouns, which doesn’t seem like such a great trade. Just as important as regaining broad-based material prosperity and rising standards of living—perhaps more important—is unifying the nation around a common understanding of who we Americans are and why we’re here. Tyler Durden Sat, 01/07/2023 - 23:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 8th, 2023

A mysterious "Doe 183" is trying to keep Jeffrey Epstein documents under seal. Could it be Les Wexner?

An anonymous 'Doe 183' has been waging a secret court battle to keep documents sealed in a lawsuit with Jeffrey Epstein's pal Ghislaine Maxwell. Jeffrey Epstein and Leslie Wexner.Getty Images; Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Fragrance Foundation An anonymous 'Doe 183' wants to keep documents sealed in a case regarding Ghislaine Maxwell. The judge hinted Doe 183's relationship with Epstein "has been a subject of intense media coverage." Redacted versions of the documents seem connected to Jeffrey Epstein's former benefactor Les Wexner. At a November 18 court conference, US District Judge Loretta Preska announced she would unseal the identities of eight "Does" trying to stay anonymous in a long-running lawsuit between Ghislaine Maxwell, the convicted sex-trafficking pal of Jeffrey Epstein, and Virginia Giuffre, their most prominent accuser.The exception, Preska said, was "Doe 183," whom she identified as someone with ties to Epstein, and whose name appeared repeatedly in Maxwell's criminal trial."That Doe's relationship with Jeffrey Epstein has been a subject of intense media coverage, and Doe 183's name has appeared in numerous places in unsealed portions of Ms. Maxwell's criminal trial transcript," Preska said. "In the court's view, there's no reason to redact Doe 183 from the documents."But, Preska noted, Doe 183 wanted to appeal her ruling. So, she said, their name would remain secret for now.The lengths that Doe 183 has gone to hide their identity are unusual. They have been fighting for months — perhaps years — to keep their true name out of public court documents.Every single court filing they submitted in the case has been under seal. Nothing from them appears on the public court docket. Even lawyers for Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown, who intervened in the case to bring documents about Epstein to light, have not been permitted to see them.What we do know, however, is that every single document they object to unsealing seems to be related to one of Epstein's longtime friends and benefactors: Leslie Wexner.We also know that Doe 183 and Wexner have the same lawyer. And when Insider asked that lawyer about his work for Doe 183, a representative for Wexner responded, declining to comment.The documents feature deposition testimony from Maxwell, discussions of whether Maxwell and Epstein gave "massages" to girls on Wexner's properties, and more accusations of wrongdoing against Epstein and Maxwell.There are also swathes of blacked-out pages and paragraphs that we can't understand without the proper context.The public docket doesn't show any appeals filed yet. But if Doe 183 wins their fight to keep the documents redacted, their name and the context surrounding it would remain behind those blacked-out lines.Leslie Wexner made Jeffrey Epstein richWexner, the billionaire founder of L Brands — which controls Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, and Pink — was Epstein's main patron for more than a decade.Before his arrest on sex-trafficking charges and eventual death in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial, Epstein claimed to be a financial savant who advised only billionaires how to invest their wealth.His only known client was Wexner, who, between the 1980s and 2000s, gave him millions of dollars, put him on the board of his personal foundation, and gave him power of attorney. It was Wexner's money that allowed Epstein to live his jet-setting lifestyle — literally, on a private plane Wexner sold him. Epstein flew girls to his Palm Beach mansion, New Mexico ranch, compound in the Virgin Islands, the eight-story Upper East Side Manhattan mansion that Wexner also sold him, and raped them. Upon his death, Epstein's estate was valued at $630 million, of which $125 million went to a compensation fund for 136 victims.Epstein even posed as a recruiter for Victoria's Secret to get close to girls, to eventually abuse them, several women said in lawsuits. Carolyn Andriano, who testified in Maxwell's 2021 sex-trafficking trial, described getting lingerie from Victoria's Secret in the mail during a period of time when Epstein serially raped her. Another accuser, who testified with the pseudonym "Jane," described going shopping at one of the company's stores with Epstein and Maxwell and buying underwear."He said, 'Well, you know, I know everybody. I know all the agents. I know all the photographers. I know the owner of Victoria's Secret,'" Jane testified, quoting Epstein. "'So I can make things happen, but you just have to be ready for it.'"A photo of Sarah Kellen and Jeffrey Epstein, in front of one of Epstein's planes, entered into evidence in Ghislaine Maxwell's criminal trial.US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New YorkLarry Visoski, one of Epstein's private jet pilots, described in testimony for Maxwell's trial how he flew Epstein to Columbus, Ohio, where the financier maintained a home and office near Wexner. Maria Farmer, another Epstein accuser, said in an affidavit for a separate case that Epstein and Maxwell raped her in Wexner's compound in New Albany, on the outskirts of Columbus."I believe they were friends," Visoski testified of Epstein and Wexner.After Epstein's 2019 indictment in New York, Wexner said in a letter to his employees that he cut ties with the rapist 12 years earlier, when he was convicted of soliciting underage prostitution in Florida, and that he regretted ever crossing paths with him. Epstein had further "misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family," Wexner wrote.Now, Doe 183 is trying to keep documents, including some related to Wexner's relationship with Epstein and Maxwell, out of the public eye.A judge is methodically unsealing the names of anonymous 'Does'Leading up to the criminal charges against Epstein in 2019 and Maxwell in 2020, their victims filed numerous lawsuits against them. The most prominent among the accusers is Virginia Giuffre, who sued Maxwell in 2015. The case produced thousands of pages of depositions, flight logs, emails, an unpublished memoir, and other evidence — almost all under seal.After Giuffre and Maxwell settled their lawsuit, in 2017, Giuffre and her lawyers began the long process of trying to get filings from the case to the public. If you've read a story about newly unsealed Epstein files, it's probably from that case.Other interests got involved in the case over the years, including Alan Dershowitz, a former friend of Epstein's who faced his own accusations from Giuffre in litigation that recently settled.Preska, the judge now overseeing the case, reasoned that the litany of names Maxwell and Giuffre discussed in their original court filings had privacy rights of their own, and that their names should be redacted.An undated photo of Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein entered into evidence during her criminal trial.US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New YorkMany of these "Does" have stepped into the litigation, arguing to keep their names private. Pundits have widely speculated that the Does are rich and powerful associates of Epstein who were complicit in the sexual trafficking and abuse of girls.Some have turned out to be victims of Epstein, whose names remain hidden. Others, whose identities Preska made public, were people who were merely mentioned in court filings incidentally. Some occupy the gray area of having been accused of recruiting victims for Epstein, but who have also been identified as victims themselves.A few names turned out to be Epstein's powerful friends after all. In April, Preska ruled that the names of hedge fund giant Glenn Dubin and his wife, Eva Andersson Dubin, should be unsealed in the filings. While he was alive, Epstein maintained a close friendship with the couple. Eva Andersson Dubin dated Epstein in the 1980s and testified in Maxwell's defense during her trial.And then there is Doe 183.The Doe 183 documents all seem related to WexnerIn a December 21 interview with Insider, Marion Little, an attorney representing Wexner, said he was unfamiliar with the fight to unseal the identity of Doe 183 in the Giuffre v. Maxwell case. Little had represented Wexner in a separate case between Alan Dershowitz and Giuffre, where Dershowitz subpoenaed Wexner for testimony.But on December 27, Insider obtained an official court transcript of the November 18 a conference in the Giuffre v. Maxwell case in which Little spoke three times. While he never identified himself verbally, the transcript's cover sheet identifies him as an attorney representing Doe 183.After Insider reached out to Little again for a follow-up interview, a representative for Wexner contacted Insider and said Little was unable to comment on the Doe 183 case because "the whole protocol process is confidential."Little, through the representative, declined to comment on whether Doe 183 and Wexner are the same person.There are 21 docket entries that mention Doe 183's true identity. All of them contain redactions, some with several pages blacked out. Wexner's name, and references to him, can be seen in unredacted portions of many of the documents.Of those 21 documents, there are seven docket entries where Doe 183 is the sole Doe mentioned. All of those seven files have been partially unsealed, with some redactions. While Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump were all among the powerful men mentioned in Maxwell's trial. Looking through the Doe 183-linked filings, it's clear that Wexner is a common thread.Les Wexner.Jay LaPrete/APOne docket entry, where Doe 183 is the sole Doe mentioned, is the deposition of Maxwell, taken in July 2016. It includes a discussion of whether Epstein "shipped off" Farmer to Wexner's property in Ohio.Another contested entry, a 23-page excerpt from that same deposition, happens to zero into the discussion about Wexner's Ohio compound.Yet another filing where Doe 183 is the sole Doe mentioned is an argument from Giuffre's lawyer Sigrid McCawley asking the judge to force Maxwell to sit for another deposition because she didn't adequately answer several questions, including ones regarding Wexner's property.We hear from Giuffre in another docket entry linked to Doe 183. It's a mostly unredacted transcript of a conversation from 2011 between her and two of her lawyers in other litigation, Brad Edwards and Jack Scarola. Scarola asked her if Wexner would have information about Epstein's behavior toward underage girls."I think he has relevant information, but I don't think he'll tell you the truth," Giuffre said of Wexner.Years later, in 2019, Edwards said Wexner's denials of having knowledge about Epstein's sexual proclivities "are very highly likely to be true."Doe 183 has claimed that unsealing certain documents would cause the public to assume they are guilty of wrongdoing and that they would suffer reputational damage, according to an April memo filed by McCawley, representing Giuffre in the litigation.McCawley said the public has an interest in seeing the sealed documents."The public is more than capable of evaluating all the facts to which it is entitled, and making its own judgments about Doe 183's proclaimed innocence," she wrote.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 6th, 2023