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Category: blogSource: benzingaJan 24th, 2023

The not-quite-redemption of South Africa"s infamous ultra-marathon cheats

In 1999, two South African brothers cheated in the Comrades, the largest and oldest ultramarathon in the world. One stretch of the Comrades Marathon from 2015.RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP via Getty ImagesThey did an idiotic thing when they were young. 23 years later, it's still the one thing most people knew about them.Some of you will know this story already. Some of you will think you do. In South Africa, it's lodged in the collective memory, sticky and stubborn. The race. The twins. The watches. The subterfuge. In the world of global running, meanwhile, it still makes lists of the greatest marathon cheats. Even now. Even 23 years later. But before the scandal and the shame, the comeback and the infamy, was the event itself. And to understand how things ended up where they did, there's nowhere else to start but right there. It's Wednesday, the 16th of June, 1990. South Africa, five years clean of apartheid rule, is the world's darling. And today happens to be the day that Nelson Mandela will step down as the nation's first Black president. In a few hours, he'll hand over the reins to his deputy, Thabo Mbeki.At 5:59 a.m., when this story starts, it's still pitch black outside. We're in Pietermaritzburg, a tidy colonial city an hour's drive inland from Durban. In front of the red brick city hall stand 12,794 runners. It's the starting line of the Comrades, a 89.9-kilometer (56-mile) race that cuts through the rolling hills that tumble out from here to the Indian Ocean. In addition to the runners gathered on the start line, and the tens of thousands who will flank the route from here to Durban, many South Africans are watching live on television.  South Africans became obsessed with this homegrown event, the largest and oldest ultramarathon in the world, when a global boycott targeting its racist apartheid government barred the country from big international sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup. In the lonely depths of South Africa's isolation, winners of this insanely long race were catapulted to fame and landed lucrative sponsorship deals. Even after apartheid was toppled and South Africa was invited back into the global fold, the Comrades retained its caché, and now it also had big-ticket prize money.One of the runners at the start line this morning, not yet attracting any attention, wears the race number 13018 – Sergio Motsoeneng. At 21, he's one of the youngest runners here, competing in a field crowded with world champions, in a sport where people often peak in their 30s or 40s. He's come here from Phuthaditjhaba, an impoverished area near the Lesotho border. He's never run this far in his life.  First prize in the Comrades is 100,000 South African Rand ($16,400 at the time). This year, the big corporate running clubs are offering additional money to runners who could break the course records. Sergio's club is offering a R1 million ($164,000) bonus, the equivalent of 70 years of his father's salary. Sergio has nine siblings to help support, and no job. This race is going to be his ticket out. From the loudspeakers, the theme song from the running cult film Chariots of Fire blasts into the crowd. Runners peel off the trash bags and ratty sweatshirts they've brought to keep warm while they wait. On a raised platform above the start line, Pietermaritzburg's mayor lifts a handgun. He fires. The race is on.Runners are seen taking part in the Comrades Marathon in 2018.RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP via Getty ImagesFor years, the idea of winning the Comrades has vibrated through Sergio and his younger brother, Arnold, at a constant frequency. Beginning as teenagers, they won race after race, dominating the sport in Phuthaditjhaba, a small city in the bowl of the Maluti Mountains, a poor and rural corner of the country near South Africa's border with Lesotho. They were rewarded mostly in dinky plastic trophies and bragging rights, plus the occasional cash prize. But the boys had bigger ambitions. When Sergio was about 15, and Arnold about 13, they started training informally with a white coach named Eugene Botha. Then in his late 20s, Eugene was short and jovial, with the twitchy excitability of a boxer. He'd been a pro runner in Johannesburg. Now, he ran a fire extinguisher business in the town of Bethlehem, 165 miles to the southeast. The tidy town center – once named the cleanest town in South Africa – was nearly all white. The township of matchbox houses and shacks crowded together on its perimeter was all Black. Eugene ran his business from his living room and coached high school running on the side. Sergio and Arnold noticed that his runners were good. They wanted to know how he did it. Eugene was charmed by the brothers' drive to show what they could do on a bigger stage. "A runner can always recognize another runner," Eugene tells me. "They were the best in Phuthaditjhaba. At all the races they entered, they won them by far." Sergio, he says, "had the style, the strength, the everything." Eugene's business often brought him to Phuthaditjhaba, an hour drive from Bethlehem, and he began taking Sergio and Arnold on long runs through the mountains, or to a track for speedwork drills. It wasn't yet clear to him if Sergio and Arnold were just Phuthaditjhaba good or once-in-a-generation good. But they had pluck.From the start, the boys were impatient. They wanted to run longer distances, the ones with the big prize money. Hold back, Eugene told them. It didn't make sense to punish their bodies like that, not when they had so much potential, not when they were just getting started.  Against their mentor's advice Sergio and Arnold decided the Comrades was the race to win. And not in ten years. Now. ***Five hours and 40 minutes after the crack of the start gun, Sergio Motsoeneng staggers across the finish line at Kingsmead Cricket Ground in Durban. He looks dazed as a race official drapes him in a blue and white Powerade towel. Ninth place, behind a mix of Black and white runners. It's not the record-breaking run he was hoping for, but it is, unequivocally, a phenomenal performance. He'll get R6000 ($1000) in prize money, plus a medal made of real gold. The TV commentators are stunned. A top ten finish from a no-name runner, and on his first go no less? "Motsoeneng coming through and surprising us all," marvels Bruce Fordyce, a nine-time Comrades winner turned pundit.  That night, there's a dinner for Sergio's running club, Rentmeester Reparil Gel, which takes its tongue-twisting name from the insurance company and pain relief gel that co-sponsor it. It's one of the country's elite clubs, and its runners have done well. Four, including Sergio, finished in the top ten, and three more in the top 50. Everyone is celebrating, drinking beer, slapping each other on the back. Andrew Kelehe, a runner who finished third — though he'd land in second place after another runner was disqualified for doping — and one of the coaches, John Hamlett, will tell me later that Sergio looked off. He's being really quiet, maybe he's sick. By the time Sergio arrives back in Phuthaditjhaba the next day, he's all smiles. His family meets him outside their two-bedroom brick house in a flurry of hugs and tears. They all watched the race together on their tiny black and white TV, squinting for footage of Sergio at the front of the pack, they tell him. It was only at the end that they'd spotted him, as the TV cameras panned to Sergio sprinting to the finish just ten minutes behind the winner, arms pumping and face drawn. They'd spend the whole night singing and praising god and dancing in the street. "You've opened the future for all of us," Joseph Mphuthi, another runner and an old friend of Sergio's, tells him.The prize money is a far cry from the R1.1 million Sergio had dreamed of, but it's not nothing either. He buys groceries for the family, new shoes for himself, cloth for the tailoring business that Arnold has started in Bloemfontein, three hours away. Their father had told them, more than once, to cut it out with the running. He was fed up with his sons constantly begging him for taxi fare and race entry money, and he didn't hesitate to tell them, you boys need real jobs. His rages were red-hot, often stoked by alcohol. But a top 10 finish in South Africa's most prestigious race is something no one expected. This is the moment, Sergio thinks, when everything changes. ***A few weeks later, Eugene is home in Bethlehem when his phone rings. It's someone from Rentmeester, Sergio's running club. Do you know the runner, Motsoeneng? The caller asks.Yes, I do.Do you know there are two of them, brothers? I do. Would you be able to tell them apart?Of course. Ok, says the man on the other end, we're going to fax you some photos now. Please tell us what you see. A minute later, Eugene is staring at side-by-side images of a lanky Black runner wearing the number 13018. There's a blue and green Rentmeester singlet hanging off his trim frame, a black cap is pulled low over his face, and he has on a pair of blue and yellow Nikes. Immediately, Eugene sees the problem. The runner on the right is clearly Sergio. Ropey and slight, he has soaring cheekbones and a torso so thin you can see the air ripple through his lungs when he breathes. His fists are balled and he's wearing a pink watch on his right wrist. Eugene studies the picture on the left. This runner looks stockier and there's a scar running down his right shin. His head is tilted forward, and his face is shrouded by the bill of his cap. He's also wearing a watch, but it's yellow and on his left wrist. A side-by-side comparison of Sergio Motsoeneng and his brother, Arnold Motsoeneng, racing in the Comrades in 1999.Gail Irwin/ReutersEugene's stomach drops. The runner on the left – Eugene has no doubt – is Sergio's brother Arnold.Within a few days, the two pictures will be splashed across the front pages of South Africa's biggest newspapers. ***The sun is setting quickly as I scramble up the steep hillside outside Phuthaditjhaba. Ahead of me, Arnold Motsoeneng moves nimbly, hopping over rocks and thorn bushes with the light, sure-footed steps of someone who has run this route many times before. For going on thirty years, this mountain he and Sergio nicknamed the Titanic, for its sharp pointed slope, is where they have trained, back and forth, up and down, until their legs and lungs burned. Tonight, though, we are walking, Arnold at the front, Sergio and another brother, Moratoe, at the back, and me in the middle, taking big ragged breaths in the thin air. "You doing ok?" Arnold calls back to me. His voice is warm and gentle, and he smiles at me with the same dazzling cheekbones that graced magazine covers in 1999 beside headlines about the "Crooked Comrades 'Twins.'" I smile back, flashing him a thumbs up. A few weeks earlier, I was home in Johannesburg, Sergio's number punched into my phone, screwing up the courage to start the call. By then, I'd spent hours scouring the internet for information about the Motsoenengs, reading article after article with titles like "Two Brothers, One Ultramarathon, and the Greatest Cheat in Running History" and "Top 10 Worst Sporting Cheats." They all told the same basic story, although some of the details were fuzzy: In 1999, two lookalike brothers concocted a clever plan to win the Comrades. They ran the race as a relay, swapping their clothes and shoes in portable toilets along the route. If they hadn't forgotten to swap their watches, too, they might have pulled it off. Some of the retellings had it — mistakenly — that the brothers were identical twins. One had Sergio and Arnold speeding between handoff points in a getaway car, as if part of an elegantly choreographed heist. One or two stories speculated that a third runner, a "Mr. X," had also run parts of the race. The stories hinted at a bigger anxiety. This was, remember, a fragile moment in the life of the new South Africa. There were plenty of people out there, white people especially, who were still praying to see it fail. Reporters from the time wrote that the brothers were "getting rich" off their "skullduggery" and opined that they'd "turned an illustrious event into a race of shame.""People were saying, 'look what they did to this race, that's what they'll do to the country," remembers Dana Snyman, a white tabloid journalist from the time. So when I reached Sergio and made my pitch for an interview, it surprised me that he seemed willing to hear me out. Sure, what they'd done was unethical, I said. But they'd also grown up in apartheid South Africa, one of the most immoral systems imaginable. Weren't they just giving themselves an advantage in a world that had disadvantaged them in every possible way? I tell him, their story rang like a kind of analogue prequel to twenty-first century shaming, where seemingly all of society lays into someone's bad behavior and leaves them branded forever. They'd done an idiotic thing when they were young and now, 23 years later, it was still the one thing most people knew about them. I wanted to hear their side, and to know what they'd made of their lives in the long shadow of this scandal. Sergio invited me to come meet him. He'd show me around, he said, and help me make sense of what had really happened. "Trust me," he said, "I'll explain everything." So that's how I end up here, catching my breath on a mountain top. From up here, Phuthaditjhaba stretches out below us like a scale model of a city. The Motsoeneng brothers pointed out their schools, their favorite running routes, and the old track stadium where Sergio and Arnold won races as teenagers. Arnold (left) and Sergio.Ryan Brown for insiderIn those days, they didn't run for South Africa, but for QwaQwa – one of ten "homelands" established for Black South Africans. According to the apartheid government, South Africa was actually a mosaic of different, separate nations, coexisting in beautiful harmony, and QwaQwa was a tiny nub of land backing up against Lesotho. The homeland system, much like apartheid, was an elaborate display of racist make-believe. Tiny, non-contiguous territories – supposedly, the original territory of different Black South African ethnic groups – dotted across the country. Naturally, those territories comprised only 13 percent of the land, in a country where three quarters of the population was Black, and excluded the country's best farmland, and its wealthy mineral reserves.The family arrived here in 1987. Sergio and Arnold's father Jonas was hired as a school caretaker, and squashed in the two-bedroom caretakers' cottage. Jonas and his wife, Emily, were both from a nearby farm in "white" South Africa's eastern Orange Free State, where their families had been long-term tenants of a family of white farmers. Emily left school in at the age of 10  to take care of the white family's baby. Jonas milked their cows. Sergio could remember, when he was little, watching how the white farmer ran his tractor, harvesting field after field of maize and beans. When he was done, Sergio's father and the other Black farmworkers walked those same fields, picking up for themselves whatever the white man had left behind. But if opportunities still seemed dim for Emily and Jonas' generation, their children expected more. Even as most of the country remained under strict racial segregation, South Africa's apartheid government cared enough about getting back into international sports that it agreed to integrate running. In 1975, Black runners, and women, were allowed to compete in the Comrades for the first time. Other major races also integrated, and soon, Black runners dominated the sport. Eugene, who started competing in the late 1980s, recalls competing in the 1991 City to City ultra-marathon from Johannesburg to Pretoria and finishing ninth, behind eight Black runners. As an incentive to keep up white runners' spirits now that they were regularly bested by Black athletes, Eugene's running club gave him a bonus for finishing first among white runners, he told me.Sergio and Arnold were the athletes of their family. Although they were two years apart in age, they started school together on the farm, and from the time they were young, they were inseparable. Two boys who seemed to know each other's thoughts without asking. Mafahla, the other kids called them, the twins. "We didn't have another friend," Sergio remembers. The mountains around Witsieshoek rise high in the Drakensberg region in South Africa.COLLART Hervé/Sygma via Getty ImagesPeople were constantly confusing him and Arnold, stopping him on the street to congratulate him for a race Arnold had won, and vice versa. In his teens, Sergio was named to a South African development squad for young athletes, which meant he was supposed to focus on short-distance training and stay away from long races  But he couldn't help himself, the prize money for marathons was too good. So yes, he once ran a marathon and then told officials to record the finish as Arnold's.  Who was it hurting? Everyone always said they looked like twins anyway. ***Back to 1999. Eugene can see the story has legs. Even before the photos dropped on his fax tray, there'd been questions. Not long after the race, Nick Bester, the Comrades' 15th place finisher, lodged a complaint with the Comrades Marathon Association, the CMA. A timing mat showed that the runner registered as Sergio Motsoeneng passed the race's halfway point 7 minutes behind Nick Bester. But somehow, that same runner beat him by eight minutes. At first, the Comrades dismissed the allegations. Then, Nick helped dig up these race photos. As soon as Eugene hangs up with the official from Sergio's club, he calls Clem Harrington. A prosecutor in the old South Africa, Clem was also a Comrades veteran who'd run it 21 times before he turned 40, some kind of record. Clem was the kind of guy who could fight for – or against – anyone, and win. And that, Eugene thought, was what the Motsoenengs needed.  They confront Sergio together, and Clem proposes a solution: Sell the story to a tabloid. Confess everything. Say how deeply sorry they are. The money's gone, so use the tabloid's fee to pay it back. You might save your running career. And it might still be a good one – after all, Sergio's marathon best was a 2:19, and even running half a Comrades at the pace you did is no joke. Sergio agrees, and Clem negotiates the fee with the Huisgenoot, a Afrikaans tabloid known for its scoops and celebrity gossip. A few days later, reporter Dana Synman comes to the cottage in Phuthaditjhaba and interviews the brothers for four hours, while a knot of other journalists huddle outside."The overwhelming impression I got from them was sincere," the journalist remembers. "They were desperate and they were naïve. They tried their luck, and they didn't get away with it. It's not like robbing a bank. To run a Comrades, even half a Comrades, that's very tough." The story appears on the cover of the Huisgenoot under the headline POOR BROTHERS' DREAM BECOMES A NIGHTMARE. Inside, there's a photo of Sergio with his arm draped over Arnold, the famous pink watch dangling from his wrist. "I am sorry about what happened at the Comrades," Sergio is quoted saying. "But people also need to know: I did not kill. I'm just tired of being poor."A few days after the story appears, Eugene, Clem, and Sergio drive to Pietermaritzburg to return the medal and hand over that fistful of cash. Sergio tells the CMA board how sorry he is and Clem asks for the minimum sentence. "We ask South Africa to forgive him," he pleads. An old photograph of Eugene, Clem, and Sergio, held by Eugene.Curtesy of Eugene BothaIt's been an embarrassing year all around for the CMA, actually. In addition to Sergio, two other runners in the top ten have been disqualified, both for doping. The winners' tables keep shifting, prize money keeps getting returned. In the end, Sergio and Arnold get a five-year ban from the Comrades. Clem is satisfied – it's punishment enough to scare them straight, and they'll still be young enough to compete. They'll have a chance, one day, to put this behind them, and maybe turn an embarrassing story into a triumphant one. But shame blooms out from the lie like a bloodstain, dark and heavy and hard to wash out. "My heart was broken," says Emily, their mother. "I still don't believe they ever cheated. "We just wanted to forget it ever happened," Sergio's wife, who was then his girlfriend, tells me. Not long after the scandal slid out of the public eye, Jonas Motsoeneng learned he had brain cancer. He died in the early hours of January 1, 2000, as South Africa spun into a new millennium. ***When we finally get into it, Sergio and Arnold claim can't remember exactly when they decided they would cheat, or whose idea it was to begin with. Sergio had been training, really training, he says. But when he heard about Rentmeester's R1 million reward, something inside him shifted. Together, they scrutinized the course map, which showed the portable toilets. They picked a spot, just before halfway, where they hoped it would be easy to slip in and out of the crowd. And that was it. It was Arnold who had started the race in Pietermaritzburg, they say. At the agreed-upon spot, they'd both slipped into the cramped space of a portable toilet and hurriedly peeled off their clothes. Suddenly, bang! There was a knock at the door.Sergio, are you in there? It was Dewald Steyn, one of Rentmeester's managers. I've got your energy drinks out here for you.Inside the toilet, the men froze. They couldn't open the door now. He'd see for sure that there were two of them inside.I feel sick, Sergio called back out.Hurry up, Dewald said. You're losing time.Outside, he waited. Inside, they waited.Finally, Dewald said he'd leave the drinks, and walked off. Sergio and Arnold waited a little longer, then Sergio slipped out the door, and onto the road to run the race's second half. Arnold waited a little longer, then hitched a ride back to Durban, where he caught a mini-bus taxi home. Runners use the bathrooms before the start of the start of the 94th edition of the Comrades Marathon in 2019.RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP via Getty ImagesBut many of the Motsoeneng's contemporaries in South African running say the story still feels fuzzy, incomplete. "They were in the toilets so long, they would have had to cut the course to make up the time," Nick says when I call him. And many suspect this hadn't been the first time they cheated. Arnold entered the Comrades in 1998, but dropped out around halfway – had that been a dress rehearsal? A handoff gone wrong? And then there was the City to City Marathon in 1998. "We" – the front runners "were far, far ahead of the rest of the guys," says Nixon Nkodima, another professional runner, tells me. "Then suddenly this guy" — Sergio — "comes out of nowhere and passes us, like he's running a 5k pace [45k's into an ultra]. I thought, maybe he's on drugs."But Arnold, who has largely managed to stay out of the limelight, says there's no reason for them to retreat. "The only thing is that we were looking for cash," he tells me. "But apart from that, we knew we could make it."*** There's a second chapter to this story that makes a bit of a mess of the narrative that made me want to talk to the brothers in the first place. When the ban that Clem had brokered lifted, both Sergio and Arnold started racing again, and winning. In 2009, Sergio made a triumphant return to the Comrades, and the following year, in 2010, he had a breakthrough race. In a photo taken as he sprints towards the finish line, he's grinning, an inversion of the tense, drawn face he wore when he crossed the line a decade before. He finished third.Speaking to the press afterwards, Sergio is again a model of contrition, saying he's now a family man who'd paid his dues and learned from his mistakes. "It just goes to show he did not have to do what he did in 1999," said Cheryl Winn from the Comrades Marathon Association, co-signing his narrative of redemption. "He has great ability."But six weeks later, the Comrades announced the results of its drug testing of top finishers. Sergio's has come back positive for a performance-enhancing steroid called Norandrosterone.*** "When they told me I'm positive, I told them, go to hell," Sergio tells me now. He, of all people, knew how a decision like that could snap a life in two. We're sitting on a covered porch, beside the brick house he's been building for the last decade and a half in a neighborhood of Phuthaditjhaba called Elite. He's been doing the work himself, by hand, adding a room every time he gets a bit of money. The building sits at a slightly precarious angle to the rocky ground. Its walls bow gently inward. Today, Sergio works as a teacher and drives an old green forest green Mercedes, which is parked out front. He has a daughter in university and a wife he lists in his phone as "The Love of My Life." His ten pit bulls clatter around in the house. Both he and Arnold coach running on the side. In person, Sergio fizzes with charisma and warmth. But he also holds me at arm's length. I ask to visit the school where he works, but he demurs, saying he would rather not remind his colleagues of the scandal. As it is, when he disciplines his students, he says, the pluckier ones demand to know why they should have to listen to a liar and a cheat like him. Of course he didn't cheat at the Comrades in 2010, he tells me. He can't prove it but offers some theories. Nandrolone, Sergio says, is found in uncastrated pigs, and there are known cases where athletes tested positive after consuming wild pork. He ate a lot of meat when he was training hard. And also, rumors have swirled for years about Comrades athletes and coaches spiking their rivals' sports drinks, or swapping urine samples before they were shipped off to the lab. Maybe it was that.And what about what happened to Ludwick Mamabolo, he says, the man whose Comrades win in 2012, two years after Sergio was disqualified, was revoked after he tested positive for a stimulant? His lawyers argued the Comrades' procedures for doping testing had been so haphazard, it was impossible to say with any certainty if the sample tested had even been Ludwick's at all. Ludwick was exonerated and got his title back. Ludwick Mamabolo crosses the Comrades Marathon finish line in 2012. After he disqualified for testing positive for a stimulant, he challenged the test and got his title back.RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP/GettyImagesI looked into all of it, and even spoke to Ludwick's lawyer. But their cases seemed fundamentally different – you could slip the substance Ludwick tested positive for into a sports drink. Nandrolone, by contrast, is usually injected. South Africa's anti-doping body, meanwhile, destroys case records after ten years, and I couldn't find anyone who believed enough in Sergio to plead his case.Except, of course, Arnold. "If he took it, I would know. Each and everywhere he goes, I go," Arnold tells me. Those results shattered them both. "I knew, that's it for him," Arnold says. Gone, was any hope of convincing people they'd just made a stupid mistake all those years before. It doesn't make any sense that Sergio would cheat, Arnold keeps saying. It just doesn't make any sense. ***It's hard, sometimes, not to read everything that happens in South Africa as a metaphor. This is a country where the jailers handed the keys to the inmates, and everyone was told to forgive. While the whole world watched, Nelson Mandela shook hands with apartheid's last president, FW de Klerk, and told him, What is past, is past – "Wat is verby, is verby!"The story of two young men, born into one of the most unequal societies on earth, trying – imperfectly, deceitfully – to find their way out of it also feels like something bigger than itself. It's a version of what South Africans have been doing for a generation now since the end of apartheid. As Sergio tells me, "Nobody wants to be poor forever."A Comrades Marathon runner holds a portrait of late South African icon Nelson Mandela in 2014.RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP via Getty ImagesFor Sergio and Arnold, the past was something they believed they could, quite literally, outrun. It didn't turn out like that, but it didn't turn out like that for most Black South Africans either. In the generation since the end of apartheid, inequality has remained stubbornly persistent. The wealthiest 3,500 South Africans own more than the poorest 32 million. Much of the country's elite is now Black, but so too are nearly all its poorest people.When Sergio and Arnold cheated, it felt to many like it was saying something not just about them, but about the moral character of Black South Africans generally. Look, they said, this is who you've handed our country to. As I sat speaking to Sergio, South Africa's president, Cyril Ramaphosa, was fighting for his political life after revelations that wads of cash, potentially ill-gotten, had been stolen from inside his sofa. Of course corruption isn't limited to Black leaders, in South Africa or anywhere else. The apartheid regime was shot through with graft. Its first Black government inherited a state that was nearly bankrupt. And a generation, like Sergio and Arnold, came of age promised a world that was, for most of them, never going to materialize. "You have to be Zola Budd level to get out of here," Eugene remarked to me, referring to the bare-footed white South African teenager who became a record-breaking runner for England in the 1980s. "People steal millions, and yet this [Sergio] is the guy they want to go after." Now, sitting by Sergio's house, I listen carefully as he lays out his theories about that 2010 race. I nod along, scribbling notes. It feels like we're up on that mountain in Phuthaditjhaba again. The world is laid out below us, small and vast and we can't quite make out all the details. ***Toward the end of my trip, I'm with Arnold, twisting my car up a steep road to the border with Lesotho.The Maluti Mountains, as seen from Butha Buthe, Lesotho, in 2021.Sumaya Hisham/ReutersHe wanted to show me this route where they used to train, 20 kilometers up, 20 kilometers down, waving to the border guards as they went. The air is dry and thin, and smells of wood smoke. Below us, in the valley where the Motsoeneng brothers have lived nearly all of their lives, the high-altitude sun glints off tin roofs. A shepherd coaxes a small flock of grey sheep up a hillside. The vegetation is dry and crisp. Of the two Motsoeneng brothers, Arnold has always been the more reserved. In 1999, he faded into the background of the cheating scandal. Even now, he is content to let Sergio, clever, fast-talking, and brash, be the face of their story. I realize there's something I haven't asked him yet. When he was running in the Comrades, keeping pace with South Africa's greatest runners, he knew it was a lie, but was it also a thrill? He smiles. It was one of those charmed days runners are blessed with every now and again, where you feel like you could run forever, he says. He was weightless. Nothing hurt.Even now, when he is training, he thinks, I wish it could feel like that day again, he says.Arnold with the kids her coaches.Ryan Brown for InsiderThe next day, I stood next to the dirt soccer field where Arnold coaches an elementary school cross country team, watching the kids plunk down backpacks and shed their school uniform sweaters. Here, on the edges of Phuthaditjhaba, the city slips in and out of focus. A city bus grumbles past, then a shepherd on horseback. A lot of the kids run barefoot, just as Arnold and Sergio did when they were that age. They call Arnold ntate, the Sesotho word for father. He explains the day's drills, and they all take off running, arms untucked and flailing.  Sometimes the kids get lazy and start cutting the corners, he tells me. "And I tell them, when you do that, you're not cheating me. You are only cheating yourself." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 30th, 2022

Donald Trump"s docket: The latest on key cases and investigations as Trump runs for the White House in 2024

Donald Trump and his business are tangled in at least a dozen significant federal and local investigations and lawsuits. Here's the latest on all of them. Former President Donald Trump addresses the America First Agenda Summit in Washington, DC, on July 26, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty Images Trump and his businesses are tangled in at least a dozen significant investigations and lawsuits. Under inquiry are alleged mishandling of documents, efforts to overturn the election, and more. On November 15, Trump officially launched a bid for president in 2024. It's hard to keep track of Donald Trump's very busy legal docket. The former president — who on November 15 officially launched his 2024 presidential bid — is the subject of at least four major investigations into wrongdoing relating to his handling of White House documents, the election, the insurrection, and his finances — probes based in Florida; Fulton County, Georgia; Washington, DC; and New York.Trump's business was also convicted in state court in Manhattan for a C-Suite-wide payroll tax-dodge scheme, earning the company felony status and a likely $1.6 million fine. On top of all that, Trump is fighting or bringing a grab-bag of important lawsuits that could financially cripple his international real-estate and golf resort empire.Keep up to date on the latest of Trump's legal travails with this guide to the ever-evolving Trump docket.Indictments Trump with his former CFO Allen Weisselberg at Trump Tower in 2017.Evan Vucci/APThe Trump Organization Payroll Case The Parties: The Trump Organization was found guilty of 17 tax-fraud counts on December 6, 2022 in a speedy, slam-dunk conviction in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.The Issues: A four-woman, eight-man, mostly working-class jury held Trump's real estate and golf resort business criminally liable for a 2005-2018 tax-dodge scheme admittedly run by the company's two top financial executives.The two, former CFO Allen Weisselberg and top payroll executive Jeffrey McConney, helped themselves and a half-dozen other company execs cheat on their income taxes by partially paying them with pricey perks and benefits, including free use of luxury cars and apartments, that were never reported to tax authorities.What's next: The company faces a maximum of $1.6 million in penalties at sentencing before the trial judge. New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, scheduled for January 13. Additional potential repercussions include a heightened hesitancy among banks to lend to a company with felony status and an energized Trump probe in the Manhattan district attorney's office. Government corruption watchdogs also have renewed reason to urge the federal government to cease doing business with the former president.Criminal investigationsFulton County Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta, on Jan. 4, 2022.AP Photo/Ben Gray, FileThe Fulton County election interference probeThe parties: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Trump, and his Republican associates The issues: Willis is investigating whether Trump and his associates tried to interfere in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Her probe has expanded to also include investigating an alleged scheme to send a fake slate of electors to Georgia's state Capitol in an attempt to overturn the elections.She's notified Rudy Giuliani, Trump's former personal attorney, that he's a target in the investigation. Giuliani testified for six hours under a court order on August 17.What's next: Sen. Lindsey Graham testified on November 22 to the grand jury, after losing a court battle against its subpoena. Several more Trump aides are fighting subpoenas of their own.Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.Jon Cherry/Getty ImagesThe Justice Department investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 electionThe parties: Federal investigators are increasingly scrutinizing the role Trump and his allies played in the effort to overturn the 2020 election.The issues: The Justice Department is facing pressure to prosecute following a string of congressional hearings that connected the former president to the violence of January 6, 2021, and to efforts to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.In a series of eight hearings, the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol described Trump's conduct in criminal terms and pointed to an April court decision in which a federal judge said the former president likely committed crimes in his effort to hold on to power. In that ruling, Judge David Carter called Trump's scheme a "coup in search of a legal theory."Prosecutors have asked witnesses directly about Trump's involvement in the effort to reverse his loss in the 2020 election and are likely to issue more subpoenas and search warrants in the weeks ahead.In June, federal investigators searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who advanced Trump's baseless claims of election fraud.On the same day, federal agents seized the phone of John Eastman, a lawyer who helped advise Trump on how to overturn the 2020 election. Thomas Windom, a top prosecutor in the Justice Department's inquiry, revealed in late July that investigators had obtained a second warrant allowing a search of Eastman's phone. Rep. Liz Cheney, the top Republican on the panel, lost her primary bid for reelection on August 16.What's next: The Justice Department has remained largely silent about how and whether it would consider charges against Trump. But in July, prosecutors asked witnesses directly about the former president's involvement in the attempt to reverse his electoral defeat. The House select committee is expected to issue a report and complete its work by the year's end.FBI agents descended on Mar-a-Lago on August 8, 2022, with a search warrant.Darren SamuelsohnThe Justice Department investigation into the handling of classified documentsThe parties: The FBI searched Trump's estate in South Florida, Mar-a-Lago, on August 8 as part of an investigation into the possible mishandling of government records, including classified documents. Trump and his lawyers alleged prosecutorial misconduct and condemned the search as politically motivated.The issues: Early in 2022, Trump turned over 15 boxes of documents — including some marked as classified and "top secret" — to the National Archives. But federal investigators scrutinizing the former president's handling of records reportedly grew suspicious that Trump or people close to him still retained some key records. The FBI seized about a dozen boxes of additional documents during the raid of Mar-a-Lago, in a search that immediately demonstrated how Trump's handling of records from his administration remains an area of legal jeopardy.What's next: In December, a federal appeals court ended a vetting process for the thousands of records seized from Mar-a-Lago.US District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee on the federal trial court in South Florida, established the review process at the former president's request. The Justice Department has argued that the special master review has intruded on and delayed its investigation.During oral arguments on November 22, the chief judge of the 11th Circuit raised concerns about the precedent that would be set if the special master review was allowed to continue."Other than the fact that this involves a former president, everything else about this is indistinguishable from any pre-indictment search warrant," said Chief Judge William Pryor, a George W. Bush appointee. "And we've got to be concerned about the precedent that we would create that would allow any target of a federal criminal investigation to go into a district court and to have a district court entertain this kind of petition."The investigation for the Mar-a-Lago case, as well as the fake elector investigation, is now under the purview of Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, who US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed in November.Lawsuits against TrumpThe front page of the lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James accusing former President Donald Trump, his family and his business of a decade of padding his net worth to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in bank loans and tax breaks.Jon Elswick/APThe NY AG's civil filing against the Trump family and Trump OrganizationThe parties: New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued Trump, his family, and the Trump Organization.The issues: James says she has uncovered a decade-long pattern of financial wrongdoing at Trump's multi-billion-dollar real-estate and golf resort empire.She alleges Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in bank loans and that he also low-balled his properties' worth for tax breaks. Trump has derided the AG's efforts as a politically motivated witch hunt.The 220-page lawsuit arose from a three-year investigation and makes multiple, corporation-crippling demands that would eventually be decided by a Manhattan judge.The demands include that the company pays back $250 million Trump allegedly pocketed by misleading banks about his worth. It further requests that Trump and his three eldest children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, who have all served as Trump Organization executives — be permanently barred from running a company in New York state.The suit also demands that for the next five years, an independent receiver be put in place to monitor the company's finances and that Donald Trump be personally barred from purchasing property in New York or borrowing from a New York-registered bank over those same five years.Perhaps most extremely, it asks the judge to pull the Trump Organization's New York papers of incorporation. That's the charter that lets Trump draw revenue from his New York properties, including the lucrative commercial rents at his Manhattan skyscrapers. These hamstringing demands, if ordered by a judge, would run Trump's corporate headquarters out of New York. Trump would also be barred from selling, buying, collecting rent from, or borrowing against any property in New York, potentially putting the Trump Organization out of business entirely. What's next:  Barring a settlement, next comes an "eye-glazing" litigation slog — legal filings, courtroom arguments, decisions, and appeals — that could go on for two years before a trial can decide if anything material actually happens to the Trumps and the family business. James is the winner in the first of that litigation. On November 3, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron granted her request that an independent monitor supervise the company finances because the company is continuing to commit fraud.But in announcing her office's lawsuit, the AG also revealed that she has referred her findings of alleged financial and tax fraud to federal prosecutors in New York and to the Internal Revenue Service.Either of those referrals could more quickly result in federal criminal charges and a bill for millions of dollars in back taxes and penalties.Supporters of then-President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DCBrent Stirton/Getty ImagesLawsuits alleging 'incitement' on January 6The Parties: House Democrats and two Capitol police officers accused Trump of inciting the violent mob on January 6.The Issues: Trump's lawyers have argued that his time as president grants him immunity that shields him from civil liability in connection with his January 6 address at the Ellipse, where he urged supporters to "fight like hell."A federal judge rejected Trump's bid to dismiss the civil lawsuits, ruling that his rhetoric on January 6 was "akin to telling an excited mob that corn-dealers starve the poor in front of the corn-dealer's home."Judge Amit Mehta said Trump later displayed a tacit agreement with the mob minutes after rioters breached the Capitol when he sent a tweet admonishing then-Vice President Mike Pence for lacking the "courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country."What's Next: Trump has appealed Mehta's ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and requested an oral argument. In a late July court filing, Trump's lawyers said the immunity afforded to the former president cannot be "undercut if the presidential act in question is unpopular among the judiciary.Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll is pictured in New York in 2020.Seth Wenig/APE. Jean Carroll v. TrumpThe Parties: Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll is suing Trump for defamation, battery, and emotional distress in federal court in Manhattan. The lawsuit was first filed in June 2019 and has been amended since.The Issues: Carroll's lawsuit alleges Trump defamed her after she publicly accused him of raping her in a Bergdorf-Goodman dressing room in Manhattan in the mid-90s.Trump responded to Carroll's allegation by saying it was untrue and that she was "not my type." Trump also denied ever meeting Carroll, despite a photo to the contrary.What's next: Arrangements for the sharing of evidence are ongoing behind the scenes, including for the possible collection of Trump's DNA.Carroll has said she wants to compare Trump's DNA with unidentified male DNA on a dress she wore during the alleged rape. The trial is tentatively set for February 6, 2023; Carroll has said she would never settle the case.Although Carroll's allegations are more than 30 years old, a New York law that took effect on November 24 — the Adult Survivors Act — gives sex assault victims a one-year window to file civil cases regardless of when the incident occurred, so long as they were 18 or older at the time. Carroll added rape allegations to her lawsuit after the law took effect.Donald Trump, right, sits with his children, from left, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Trump International Hotel on July 23, 2014, in Washington.Evan Vucci/APThe 'multi-level marketing' pyramid scheme caseThe Parties: Lead plaintiff Catherine McKoy and three others sued Trump, his business, and his three eldest children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump, in 2018 in federal court in Manhattan.The Issues: Donald Trump is accused of promoting a scam multi-level marketing scheme on "The Celebrity Apprentice." The lawsuit alleges Trump pocketed $8.8 million from the scheme — but that they lost thousands of dollars. Trump's side has complained that the lawsuit is a politically motivated attack. What's Next: The parties are figuring out a trial date for the case, which is expected to land in late 2023 or early 2024. Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney, testifies before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill February 27, 2019 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesMichael Cohen's 'imprisonment' caseThe Parties: Trump fixer-turned-critic Michael Cohen sued Donald Trump, former Attorney General Bill Barr, and more than a dozen federal prison officials and employees, in federal court in Manhattan in 2021.The Issues: The president's former personal attorney is seeking $20 million in damages relating to the time he spent in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress about Trump's dealings in Congress. Cohen says in his suit that he had been moved to home confinement for three months in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, but was then vindictively thrown into solitary confinement when he refused to stop speaking to the press and writing a tell-all book about his former boss. A judge ordered him released after 16 days.What's Next: A decision is pending on defense motions to dismiss the case.Singer Eddy Grant performs in concert in honor of Nelson Mandela in Hyde Park, London June 27, 2008.Andrew Winning/ReutersThe Electric Avenue copyright caseThe Parties: Eddy Grant, the composer/performer behind the 80s disco-reggae mega-hit "Electric Avenue," sued Donald Trump and his campaign in federal court in Manhattan in 2020.The Issues: Grant is seeking $300,000 compensation for copyright infringement. His suit says that Trump made unauthorized use of the 1983 dance floor staple during the 2020 campaign. About 40 seconds of the song played in the background of a Biden-bashing animation that Trump posted to his Twitter account. The animation was viewed 13 million times before being taken down a month later. Trump has countered that the animation was political satire and so exempt from copyright infringement claims. He's also said that the campaign merely reposted the animation and have no idea where it came from.What's Next: There was an August 21 deposition completion deadline for both sides — including for Trump and Grant. Pretrial motions are not due to be filed until October.Lawsuits brought by Trump Donald Trump v. Mary Trump The Parties: The former president counter-sued his niece Mary Trump — and the New York Times — in 2021 in New York State Supreme Court in Dutchess County.The Issues: Mary Trump, the Times, and three of its reporters  "maliciously conspired" against him, Trump alleges, by collaborating with the Times on its expose of and breaching the confidentiality of the family's 2001 settlement of the estate of Mary Trump's father, Fred Trump Sr. What's Next: Mary Trump's motion to dismiss is pending in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan, where the case has since been transferred to.Hillary Clinton.Photo by: Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty ImagesDonald Trump v. Hillary ClintonThe Parties: Trump has sued Hillary Clinton, her campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and prominent Democrats including former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in a federal court in southern Florida in March, 2022.The Issues:  Trump alleged in this unusual use of federal racketeering statutes that Clinton and her campaign staff conspired to harm his 2016 run for president by promoting a "contrived Trump-Russia link." The defendants succeeded in getting the massive lawsuit dismissed in September; a federal judge in Florida said the suit was structurally flawed and called it "a two-hundred-page political manifesto" in which Trump detailed "his grievances against those that have opposed him."What's Next: Trump's side has promised to appeal the dismissal.Camila DeChalus and C. Ryan Barber contributed to a previous version of this story.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 19th, 2022

Ancient Apocalypse & Graham Hancock"s "Dangerous Ideas"

Ancient Apocalypse & Graham Hancock's "Dangerous Ideas" Authored by JR Leach via Off-Guardian.org, Why has the popular Netflix documentary ignited the ire of the media? It never ceases to amaze me what seemingly innocuous ideas the establishment media find ‘dangerous’ or ‘controversial’. Netflix recently released an eight-part documentary series titled Ancient Apocalypse, where Graham Hancock (who has a been a household name for “alternative archeology” since the release of his book ‘Fingerprints of the Gods’ in 1995), introduces us to his central theory that human civilisation is considerably older than current archeological orthodoxy believes, but that most evidence for this was wiped out by a colossal natural disaster around 12,000 years ago. He supports this theory with physical evidence for such a natural disaster, curious geological anomalies and seemingly ancient megalithic structures. He points out that the mainstream view of pre-history insists civilisation did not and had never existed before the year 4000BC, but that recent discoveries such as the Temple at Gobekli Tepe, which dates back to 9600BC call that mainstream view into question. He also collates mythic stories and old legends from over around the world that all reference some massive, global catastrophe. (Floods, earthquakes, giant snakes in the sky, strange visitors from across the sea etc.) And then emphasises their many eerie similarities. Through the collation of this research, Hancock then asks some questions of the mainstream view of our ancient history and posits a theory of his own – that ‘we are a species with amnesia’, who have forgotten our own past. These are not new ideas, solely from Hancock’s imagination. Immanuel Velikovsy said something very similar half a century ago, in fact his last book, published posthumously, was titled “Mankind in Amnesia”, and explored the psychological impact of us, as a species, repressing the memories and forgetting the stories that echo from a distant, traumatised past. These questions might sound intriguing to you, or you may be indifferent to them, or you may even vehemently disagree with them, but I bet you didn’t know they were racist, did you? That’s right. Racist. Don’t believe me, you conspiracy theorist? Just ask the Guardian. Yes, the Graun has spoiled us with not just one hit-piece, but two! All in the space of one week. Robin McKie writes his from an archaeological standpoint, while Stuart Heritage speaks as an entertainment critic. However, one is very much like the other. They both agree the Netflix series is wholly unacceptable. All of it. These are ‘dangerous ideas’ that shouldn’t be ‘allowed’. McKie alleges Hancock’s claims reinforce ‘white supremacist ideas’, because questioning the age of human civilisation …strip[s] indigenous people of their rich heritage and instead gives credit to aliens or white people” McKie further explains: Then there were the Nazis. Many swore by the idea that a white Nordic superior race – people of “the purest blood” – had come from Atlantis. As a result, Himmler set up an SS unit, the Ahnenerbe – or Bureau of Ancestral Heritage – in 1935 to find out where people from Atlantis had ended up after the deluge had destroyed their homeland.” There we have it, you see! Don’t even bother linking to any sources, Robin (which he doesn’t). I hear you, loud and clear. The idea of Atlantis is inherently racist, because the Nazis believed in it. The fact Hancock never mentions race, or white people (or aliens) in the series, nor (to the best of my knowledge) in any of his books, makes no difference to this. So, what are you going to do now? Keep researching the Atlantis myth? Like a Nazi would? Of course, going by this logic, we should really do away with Christianity as well. God in general, in fact.  Perhaps we should cancel Volkswagen and Wagner too. Nazis also brushed their teeth and wore shoes, I believe, neither of which shall I be taking part in from this day onwards, just to be sure. So, there we have it – Ancient Apocalypse is racist, even though it never mentions race. The remainder of their twin critiques are no better argued or supported by reality. Here is a typical example of the intellectual level they work on: For a story that was first told 2,300 years ago, the myth of Atlantis has demonstrated a remarkable persistence over the millennia. Originally outlined by Plato, the tale of the rise of a great, ancient civilisation followed by its cataclysmic destruction has since generated myriad interpretations.” It was this opening paragraph alone that prompted my response. As it is so uniquely meaningless. What does he mean by ‘For a story 2,300 years old it has demonstrated remarkable persistence’? As opposed to what? All those other stories that we don’t know about? How is that measurable, exactly? Besides, we have a plethora of stories and mythologies dating back two and half thousand years, and even much further into the past than that. Including all the Greco-Roman myths, plays by Sophocles and Aesop’s Fables. We have detailed legends and lore passed down from Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Old Testament fits the bill as well. And of course, Homer’s Iliad, which describes the fabled Trojan War. Let us remember that the City of Troy was also believed to have been just a myth until we discovered that it wasn’t. And I’m sure before 1870, when it was first discovered, that there was no shortage of academics decrying the search for Troy as a heretical waste of time. What is the essential attraction of the tale? For answers we only have to look at the works of Tolkien, CS Lewis, HP Lovecraft, Conan Doyle, Brecht and a host of science fiction writers who have all found the myth an irresistible inspiration.” Simplicity itself! The reason the Atlantis myth is so popular is because it’s so popular! Robin then asserts as fact that Plato intended the tale of Atlantis to be little more than an allegory.  There is no way of knowing that, of course, he merely asserts it and then goes into a Gish Gallop. “As to the likely site of the original Atlantis, the serious money goes on the destruction of the Greek island of Santorini and its impact on Crete and puts the blame on volcanic eruptions – not errant comets, as Hancock argues” Whoa there, Robin. Firstly, Graham Hancock never ‘argues’ that the Greek island of Santorini was struck by an errant comet. That is misleading. He argues that a comet struck somewhere in North America and rising sea levels may have obliterated an island civilisation (that Plato calls Atlantis) in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s only you, Robin, who is conflating this Atlantis myth with Santorini. [NB – Robin also fails to mention the physical evidence for just such an impact at the beginning of the Younger Dryas.] Secondly, should we not give credit where credit is due, and assume that Plato (and Solon, from whom Plato got the story, and the Dynastic Egyptians, from whom Solon got the story), most likely knew the difference between ‘inside the Mediterranean’ and ‘outside the Mediterranean’? If they place Atlantis beyond the Pillars of Hercules, should we not at least consider it possible that this is indeed where “the original Atlantis” was? (I invite readers to listen to Plato’s accounting yourselves and see what you make of it, here is an unabridged and well-produced reading.) The history of Santorini’s volcanic eruption was probably, by contrast, relatively well known. Santorini didn’t actually sink, after all, as Atlantis is said to have done. It’s still there. The Ancient Greeks called it ‘Thera’ and they were perfectly well aware of its existence. It shares no cultural, historical or technological similarities to Plato’s description of Atlantis at all, short of ‘being an island’. But none of that bothers McKie who at this point, and without ceremony, just sort of stops writing. Job Done. Atlantis debunked. What’s for lunch? Moving on to Stuart Heritage’s piece, which is thankfully briefer but in no way less smug. In his subheading he boldly asks: “Why has this been allowed?”  Allowed? I’m not sure which authority he’s calling on here. Netflix execs? Local, national or perhaps global government? Or maybe it’s rhetorical, and he’s beseeching the Lord God himself how such evil could come into the world. Beyond this, Stuart seems even less interested in debunking or debating these ‘dangerous ideas’ than McKie was, and far more focused on analysing and ridiculing its (presumed) target audience. Fortunately, Stuart, with his view unbiased and his mind wide open, has discerned exactly who that is in the first five minutes – because he saw (or thinks he saw) Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson flash up in the pre-show reel. Joe Rogan appears in one quick interview, which is used in the first episode and the last. Jordan Peterson does not appear in this documentary at all. And I’m really not sure why Stuart thought he did. Perhaps he just didn’t watch closely enough to realise this before rushing his five-hundred words off to be published in one of the largest news outlets in the world. More notably when Heritage later amended the change, he just removed the ‘Jordan Peterson’ reference and neither he nor the editors or sub-eds even bothered to correct the syntax: “Fortunately, you don’t have to watch for long to find out. In quick succession, during the pre-show sizzle reel, we are treated to a clip of the show’s host Graham Hancock being interviewed by Joe Rogan.” The laziness is staggering. Just ‘a different person’. It’s not important who anymore. He’s not on the Guardian’s ‘naughty list.’ Equally strangely, both McKie and Heritage seem to think ‘Ancient Apocalypse’ makes claims of ‘super intelligent beings’ and ‘aliens’, when it simply does not. Hancock’s argument – whether you accept it or not –   is that human beings were more advanced than academia admits. Not robots with flying cars, but more advanced than we currently give them credit for, and he cites evidence for this which both Stuart & Robin ignore in favour of critiquing Hancock for things he does not say. They cite no sources and debate no actual claims. They use buzzwords and identity politics in place of analysis and between the two of them couldn’t fill one page of A4. It’s as if even they (and their editors) had no faith or interest in what they were doing. Although Stuart does rather give the game away in his closing statement. “That’s the danger of a show like this. It whispers to the conspiracy theorist in all of us. And Hancock is such a compelling host that he’s bound to create a few more in his wake. Believing that ultra-intelligent creatures helped to build the pyramids is one thing, but where does it end? Believing that election fraud is real? Believing 9/11 was an inside job? Worse?”  He’s got me stumped there. Because, for the life of me, I literally can’t think of anything worse than ‘believing in election fraud’, which is obviously as fanciful as believing in the Loch Ness Monster. What next? Believing in tax evasion!? Presumably he’s referring to the 2020 US election. Because the Guardian has claimed fraud is very real in some elections. Russia, Syria, Bolivia, Brazil, Libya, Afghanistan, Iran and Venezuela to name a few. And they were pretty darn adamant that it was Russian collusion that got Trump into office in 2016. Stuart presumably believes election fraud is only a ‘conspiracy theory’ when it happens here, in the UK. Either that or he believes it has literally never happened. Ever. In the whole history of the world. Or perhaps he’s simply typing up any old nonsense just to get that word count a little higher. Sense and consistency be damned. Who’s to say? However, the fragile honesty underlying this is quite telling. He is essentially saying: “If people become sceptical of one thing, they may become sceptical of another.” Which is to be expected, but what I can’t understand is how anybody could think this is a bad thing. People should be sceptical. Scepticism in all things but cynicism in none. People should ask questions, and they should expect answers, especially from those who profess to know them. One should be open-minded and always pursue the truth. And to better decipher what that may be, we need people sharing new ideas, questioning the mainstream view and challenging the established narrative as new evidence presents itself. We need that. Science, progress and discovery all depend on it. Even if the ideas turn out to be false. Prove them false. In short: No one should be the gatekeepers of our history. Least of all those who laud their certitude in the face of the unknowable. The mystery is exciting. The evidence is compelling. The series is engaging. Even if none of it turns out to be true, the questions are still worth asking. These ideas are only ‘dangerous’ if you fear what they question. And those who fear questions fear the truth. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/12/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 13th, 2022

The Goldilocks War

The Goldilocks War Authored by Dmitry Orlov, Are you happy with the way the war in the former Ukraine is going? Most people aren’t - for one reason or another. Some people hate the fact that there is a war there at all, while others love it but hate the fact that it hasn’t been won yet, by one side or the other. Bounteous quantities of both of these kinds of haters are found on both sides of the new Iron Curtain that is hastily being built across Eurasia between the collective West and the collective East. This seems reasonable; after all, hating war is standard procedure for most people (war is hell, don’t you know!) and by extension a small war is better than a big one and a short war is better than a long one. And also such reasoning is banal, trite, platitudinous, vapid, predictable, unimaginative and… bromidic (according to the English Thesaurus). Seldom is to be found a war-watcher who is happy with the progress and the duration of the war. Luckily, Russian state television shows a very significant one these almost daily. It is Russia’s president, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Having paid attention to him for over twenty years now, I can confidently state that never has he been so imbued with calm, self-assured serenity leavened with droll humor. This is not the demeanor of someone who feels at any risk of losing a war. The brass at the Ministry of Defense appear dour and glum on camera—a demeanor befitting men who send other men to fight and possibly to be wounded or to die; but off-camera they flash each other quick Mona Lisa smiles. (Russian men don’t give stupid American-style fish-eyed toothy grins, rarely show their teeth when smiling, and never in the presence of wolves or bears). Given that Putin’s approval rating stands firm at around 80% (a number beyond reach of any Western politician), it is reasonable to assume that he is just the visible tip of a gigantic, 100-million-strong iceberg of Russians who calmly await the successful conclusion of the special military operation to demilitarize and denazify the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (so please don’t even call it a war). These 100 million Russians are seldom heard from, and when they do make noise, it is to protest against bureaucratic dawdling and foot-dragging or to raise private funds with which to remedy a shortage of some specialty equipment requested by the troops: night vision goggles, quadrocopters, optical sights, and all sorts of fancy tactical gear. A great deal more noise is being made by the one or two percent whose entire business plan has been wrecked by the sudden appearance of the New Iron Curtain. The silliest of these thought that fleeing west, or south (to Turkey, Kazakhstan or Georgia) would somehow magically fix their problem; it hasn’t, and it won’t. The people we would expect to scream the loudest are the LGBTQ+ activists, who thought that they were going to use Western grant money to build East Sodom and East Gomorrah. They’ve been hobbled and muzzled by new Russian laws that label them as foreign agents and prohibit their sort of propaganda. In fact, the very term LGBTQ+ is now illegal, and so, I suppose, they will have to use PPPPP+ instead (“P” is for “pídor”, which is the generic Russian term for any sort of sexual pervert, degenerate or deviant). But I digress. It can be observed rather readily that those who are the least happy with the course of the Russian campaign are also the least likely to be Russian. Least happy of all are the good folks at the Center for Informational and Political Operations of the Ukrainian Security Service who are charged with creating and maintaining the Phantom of Ukrainian Victory. These are followed by people in and around Washington, who are quite infuriated by Russian dawdling and foot-dragging. They have also been hard-pressed to show that the Ukrainians are winning while the Russians are losing; to this end, they have portrayed every Russian tactical repositioning or tactical withdrawal as a huge, humiliating defeat personally for Putin and every relentless, suicidal Ukrainian attack on Russian positions as a great heroic victory. But this PR tactic has lost effectiveness over time and now the Ukraine has become a toxic topic in the US that most American politicians would prefer to forget about, or at least keep out of the news. To be fair, the Russian tactical cat-and-mouse games in this conflict has been nothing short of infuriating. The Russians spent some time rolling around Kiev to draw Ukrainian troops away from the Donbass and prevent a Ukrainian attack on it; once that was done, they withdrew. Great Ukrainian victory! They also spent some time tooling around the Black Sea coastline near Odessa, threatening a sea invasion, to draw off Ukrainian forces in that direction, but never invaded. Another Ukrainian victory! The Russians occupied a large chunk of Kharkov region that the Ukrainians left largely undefended, then, when the Ukrainians finally paid attention to it, partially withdrew behind a river to conserve resources. Yet another Ukrainian victory! The Russians occupied/liberated the regional capital of Kherson, evacuated all the people who wanted to be evacuated, then withdrew to a defensible position behind a river. Victory again! With all these Ukrainian victories, it is truly a wonder that the Russians have managed to gain around 100km2 of the former Ukraine’s most valuable real estate, over 6 million in population, secured a land route to Crimea and opened up a vital canal that supplies irrigation water to it and which the Ukrainians had blocked some years ago. That doesn’t seem like s defeat at all; that looks like an excellent result from a single, limited summer campaign. Russia has achieved several of its strategic objectives already; the rest can wait. How long should they wait? To answer this question, we need to look outside the limited scope of Russia’s special operation in the Ukraine. Russia has bigger fish to fry, and frying fish takes time because eating undercooked fish can give you nasty parasites such as tapeworm and liver fluke. And so, I would like to invite you to Mother Russia’s secret kitchen, to see what’s on the cutting board and to estimate how much thermal processing will be required to turn it all into a safe and nutritious meal. Mixing our food metaphors, allow me to introduce Goldilocks with her three bears and her porridge not to hot and not too cold. What Russia seems to be doing is keeping their special military operation moving along at a steady pace - not to fast and not too slow. Going too fast would not allow enough time to cook the various fish; going too fast would also increase the cost of the campaign in casualties and resources. Going too slow would give the Ukrainians and NATO time to regroup and rearm and prevent the proper thermal processing of the various fish. In an effort to find the optimal pace for the conflict, Russia initially committed only a tenth of its professional active-duty soldiers, then worked hard to minimize the casualty rate. It opted to start turning off the lights all over the former Ukraine only after the Kiev regime tried to blow up the Kerch Strait bridge that linked Crimea with the Russian mainland. Finally, it called up just 1% of reservists to relieve the pressure from the frontline troops and potentially prepare for the next stage, which is a winter campaign—for which the Russians are famous. With this background information laid out, we can now enumerate and describe the various ancillary objectives which Russia plans to achieve over the course of this Goldilocks War. The first and perhaps most important set of problems that Russia has to solve in the course of the Goldilocks War is internal. The goal is to rearrange Russian society, economy and financial system so as to prepare it for a de-Westernized future. Since the collapse of the USSR, various Western agents, such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the US State Department, various Soros-owned foundations and a wide assortment of Western grants and exchange programs have made serious inroads into Russia. The overall goal was to weaken and eventually dismember and destroy Russia, turning it into a compliant servant of Western governments and transnational corporations that would supply them with cheap labor and raw materials. To help this process along, these Western organizations did whatever they could to drive the Russian people toward eventual biological extinction and replace them with a more docile and less adventurous race. Starting well over 30 years ago, Western NGOs set to corrupting the minds of Russia’s young. No effort was spared to denigrate the value of Russian culture, to falsify Russian history and to replace them both with Western pop culture and propaganda narratives. These initiatives achieved limited success, and the USSR, and Soviet-era culture, has remained ever-popular even among those who were too young to have experienced life in the USSR firsthand. Where the damage has been most severe is in education. Excellent Soviet-era textbooks that taught students how to think independently were destroyed and replaced with imports. These were at best useful for training experts in narrowly defined fields who can follow previously defined procedures and recipes but can’t explain how these procedures and recipes were arrived at or to create new ones. Russian teachers, who saw their job not just in educating but in bringing up their students to be good Russians who love and cherish their country, were replaced by Western-trained educationalists who saw their mission as providing a competitive, market-based service in bringing up qualified, competent… consumers! Who are these people? Well, luckily, the Internet remembers everything, and there are plenty of other jobs for these people such as shoveling snow and stoking furnaces. But identifying and replacing them takes time, as does finding, updating and reproducing the older, excellent textbooks. But what of the young people left behind by this wave of destruction? Luckily, not all is lost. The special military operation is providing them with some very valuable lessons that their ignorant educationalists left out: that Russia—a unique, miraculous agglomeration of many different nations, languages and religions—has been preserved and expanded over the centuries through the efforts of heroes whose names are not just remembered but venerated. What’s more, some of them are alive today, fighting and working in the Donbass. It is one thing to visit museums, read old books and hear stories about the great deeds of one’s grandfathers and great-grandfathers during the Great Patriotic War; it is quite another to watch history unfold through the eyes of your own father or brother. Give it another year or two, and Russia’s young people will learn to look with disdain on the products of Russia’s Western-oriented culture-mongers. Their elders do already: opinion polls show that a large majority of Russians see Western cultural influence as a negative. And what of these Russian culture-mongers who have been worshiping all things Western for as long as they can remember? Here, a most curious thing happened. When the special military operation was first announced, they spoke out against it and in favor of the Ukrainian Nazis—a stupid thing to do, but they thought it good and proper to keep their political opinions harmonized with those of their Western patrons and idols so as to stay in their good graces. Some of them protested against the war (ignoring the fact that it had been going on for eight long years already). And then quite a few of them fled the country in unseemly haste. Keep in mind that these are neither brain surgeons nor rocket scientists: these are people who prance around on stage while making noises with their hands and mouths; or they are people who sit there while makeup artists do things to their faces and hair, then endlessly repeat lines written for them by someone else. These are not people who have the capacity to analyze a tricky political situation and make the right choice. In an earlier, saner age their opinions would be steadfastly ignored, but such is the effect of the Internet, social media and all the rest, that any hysterical nincompoop can shoot a little video and millions of people, having nothing better to do with their time, will watch it on their phones and make comments. The fact that these people are voluntarily cleansing the Russian media space of their presence is a positive development, but it takes time. If the special military operation were to end tomorrow, there is no doubt that they would attempt to come back and pretend that none of this ever happened. And then Russian popular culture would remain a Western-styled cesspool full of vacuous personae who seek to glorify every single deadly sin for the sake of personal notoriety and gain. Russia has plenty of talented people eager to take their place—if only they would keep out long enough for everyone to forget about them! Particularly damaging to Russia’s future has been the emergence and preeminence of pro-Western economic and financial elites. Ever since the haphazard and in many cases criminal privatization of state resources in the 1990s, there was brought up an entire cohort of powerful economic agents who does not have Russia’s interests in mind. Instead, these are purely selfish economic actors who until quite recently thought that their ill-gotten gains would allow them to enter into posh Western society. These people usually have more than one passport, they try to keep their families in some wealthy enclave outside of Russia, they send their children to schools and universities in the West, and their only use for Russia is as a territory they can exploit in creating their wealth extraction schemes. When in response to the start of Russia’s special military operation the West mounted a speculative attack on the ruble, forcing Russia’s central bank to impose strict currency controls, these members of the Russian elite were forced to start thinking about making a momentous choice. They could stay in Russia, but then they would have to cut their ties to the West; or they could move to the West and live off their savings, but then they would be cut off from the source of their wealth. Their choice was made easier by Western governments which worked hard to confiscate the property of rich Russian nationals, freeze their bank accounts and subject them to various other indignities and inconveniences. Still, it’s a hard choice for them to make—realizing that, in spite of their sometimes fabulous wealth, for the collective West they are just some Russians that can be robbed. Many of them are mentally unprepared to throw in their lot with their own people, whom they have been taught to despise and to exploit for personal gain. A quick victory in Russia’s special military operation would allow them to think that their troubles were temporary in nature. Given enough time some of them will run away for good while others will decide to stay and work for the common good in Russia. Next in line are various members of the Russian government who, having been schooled in Western economics, are incapable of understanding the economic transformation that is occurring in Russia, never mind helping it along. Most of what passes for economic thought in the West is just an elaborate smokescreen over this fundamental dictum: “The rich must be allowed to get richer, the poor must be kept poor and the government shouldn’t try to help them (much).” This worked while the West had colonies to exploit, be it through good old-fashioned imperial conquest, plunder and rapine, or through financial neocolonialism of Perkins’s “economic hit men,” or, as has recently been grudgingly admitted by several top EU officials, by taking advantage of cheap Russian energy. That doesn’t work any more—not in the West, not in Russia or any place else, and mindsets have to adjust. There is a great deal of inertia in appointments to government positions, where there are many vested interests vying for power and influence. It takes time for such basic ideas to percolate through the system as the fact that the US Federal Reserve no longer has a planet-wide monopoly on printing money. Therefore, it is no longer necessary for Russia’s central bank to have dollars in reserve to cover their ruble emissions to defend it against speculative attack since it is no longer necessary for Russia’s central bank to allow foreign currency speculators to run rampant and stage speculative attacks. But some results have already been achieved, and they are nothing short of spectacular: over the past few months, just a few well-chosen departures from Western economic orthodoxy have made the ruble the world’s strongest currency, have allowed Russia to earn more export revenue by exporting less oil, gas and coal, and have allowed it to drive inflation down to almost zero. Since the start of the special military operation, Russia has been able to reduce its national debt by a large amount and increase government revenues. A swift end to Russia’s special military operation may spell the end of such miracles and a most unwelcome return to the untenable status quo ante. Beyond the intangible world of finance, equally significant changes have been occurring throughout the physical Russian economy. Previously, many economic sectors, including car sales, construction and home improvement, software development and many others, were foreign-owned and the profits from these activities left the country. And then a decision was made to block the expatriation of dividends. In response, foreign companies sold off their Russian assets, taking a huge loss and depriving themselves of access to the Russian market. The change has been quite stunning. For example, at the beginning of 2022, Western car companies owned a large share of the Russian auto market. Many of the cars that were sold had been assembled within Russia at foreign-owned plants and the profits from these sales were expatriated. Now, less than a year later, European and American automakers are pretty much gone from Russia, replaced by a swiftly reborn domestic auto industry. Chinese automakers have immediately grabbed a large market share for themselves, while South Korea continued to trade with Russia and has held on to its market share. Equally stunning have been changes in the aircraft industry. Previously, Russian airlines were flying Airbuses and Boeings, most of them leased. After the start of the special operation Western politicians demanded that these leases be rescinded and the aircraft returned to their owners, neglecting to take into account the fact that this would be ruinous financially (glutting the market for used aircraft for years to come and destroying demand for new aircraft) and, furthermore, physically impossible, given that there was no way to effect the transfer of the aircraft. In response, the Russian airlines nationalized the aircraft registry, stopped flying to hostile destinations where their aircraft might be arrested, and started making lease payments in rubles to special accounts at the Russian central bank. Then came the news that Aeroflot is panning to buy over 300 new passenger jets, all Russian МС-21s, SSJ-100s and Tu-214s, all before 2030, with the first deliveries slated for 2023. There has been a scramble to replace almost all Western-sourced components, such as composites for the carbon fiber wing of the MC-21 and jet engines, avionics and much else for all of the above. Over this period many of the previously leased Boeings and Airbuses will be phased out, but these companies’ market share in the largest country on Earth will be gone forever. Damage to Western aircraft manufacturers will be matched by the damage to Western airlines. At the outset of hostilities, the collective West closed its airspace to Russia, and Russia reciprocated. The problem is that Europe is small and easy to fly around while Russia is huge and flying around it takes a whole day. European airlines suddenly found that theу can’t compete on routes to Japan, China or Korea. Following the closing of the airspace came other sanctions, from both the European Union and from the United States, all of them illegal, since the UN Security Council is the only body empowered to impose sanctions. Right now the European Union is working on the ninth packet of sanctions, all of which have been dubbed “sanctions from hell”. Speaking of hell, Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno” there are nine circles of hell, so perhaps the sanctions juggernaut is about to run its course. These sanctions were supposed to have swiftly destroyed the Russian economy and have caused so much social upheaval and suffering that the people would gather on Red Square and overthrow the dread dictator Putin (or so thought Western foreign policy experts). Clearly, nothing of the sort has happened and Putin’s approval rating is as high as ever. On the other hand, the good people of the European Union are indeed starting to suffer. They can no longer afford to heat their homes or to take regular hot showers, food has become outrageously expensive for them, and so much else is going wrong that huge crowds of protestors have been gathering all across Europe and demanding, among other things, an end to anti-Russian sanctions, normalization of relations with Russia and a return to business as usual. Their demands are unlikely to be met, since this would mean a major loss of face for the European leaders. But there is a more important reason why the sanctions will stay: a return to business as usual would mean that Russia would once again provide energy and raw materials to Europe cheaply while allowing European companies to profit from the labor of Russians. This is quite unappealing and is therefore unlikely to happen. Russia is using the sanctions as an opportunity to rebuild its domestic industry and reorient its trade away from hostile nations and toward friendly nations that are fair and sympathetic in their dealings with Russia. It is also working hard to phase out the use of currencies that Dmitry Medvedev called “toxic”; namely, the US dollar and the euro. Add to this list a wonderful new Russian innovation called “parallel import.” If some company, in complying with anti-Russian sanctions, refuses to sell its products to Russia or to service or upgrade its products in Russia, then Russia will buy these products and upgrades from a third or fourth or fifth party without permission from the US, the EU or the manufacturer. If a certain brand-name product becomes unavailable, the Russians simply rename the brand and make the same product themselves, or have the Chinese or another trade partner do it for them. And if the West refuses to license its intellectual property to Russia, then that intellectual property becomes free in Russia. This works particularly well with software: free copies of brand-name software are just as good as the paid-for copies, and if tech support, training or other associated services become unavailable from the West, the Russians simply organize their own. Intellectual property of various sorts makes up a large portion Western notional wealth, and Western sanctions are having the effect of letting Russia make use of it free of charge. Thanks to modern digital technology, it works rather well with hardware too. Instead of painstakingly reverse-engineering products, now the same effect can be achieved by buying the 3D models on a thumb drive and 3D-printing them or automatically generating the mill and drill paths to create them on an NC mill. Putin likes to use the expression “tsap-tsarap” to describe this process. It is hard to translate directly but pertains to the act of a cat snatching its prey with its claws. The short of it is, what Russia previously had to pay for is now, thanks to sanctions, free to it. Since the Goldilocks War is, after all, a sort of war, we need to briefly discuss its military aspects. Here, too, a steady-as-she-goes approach seems to be the most copacetic. The stated goal is to demilitarize and denazify the former Ukraine, and to some extent this has already been achieved: most of the armor and artillery that the Ukraine had inherited from the USSR has already been destroyed; most of the diehard Nazi battalions are either dead or a shadow of their former selves. Gone too are most of the volunteers that once fought on the Ukrainian side. After over 100000 Ukrainian soldiers “have been killed” since February 2022 (as forthrightly stated, then sheepishly denied, by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen), and after perhaps as many as half a million casualties, scores of service-age men bribing their way out of the country and several rounds of the draft, it is slim pickings. With well over a hundred Ukrainian casualties a day the pickings are bound to get even slimmer over time. Foreign mercenaries have been used to fill the gap—Anglos, Poles, Romanians—but there is a major problem with them: as Julius Caesar pointed out, lots of people are willing to kill for money but nobody wants to die for money—except an idiot, I would add. And on NATO’s Russian front an idiot and his life are soon parted. Up-to-date information on Russian casualties is a state secret and the only number divulged by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in late September 2022 was 5937 killed since the start of the campaign. Casualty rates are said to have been significantly lower since then. At present, there is still no shortage of idiots on the Ukrainian side—yet—and neither is there a shortage of donated Western weaponry. First came used Soviet-era tanks and other weapons systems donated from all over Eastern Europe; then came actual Western weapons systems. And now throughout NATO one hears plaintive cries that they have nothing left that they can give to the Ukrainians: the cupboard is empty. Nor can they manufacture more weapons in a hurry. To start churning out weapons at the same rate as Russia is doing, these NATO members would first need to reindustrialize, and there are neither the human resources, nor the money to do so. And so the Russian army grinds away, demilitarizing the Ukraine, and the rest of NATO with it. In the process, it is perfecting the art of fighting a land war against NATO—not that a single NATO country would even entertain such an idea. Perhaps this is mission creep, or perhaps this has been the plan all along, but what Russia is doing at this point is destroying NATO. You may recall that a year ago Russia demanded that the US honor certain security guarantees it made as a condition for allowing the peaceful reunification of Germany; namely, that NATO would not expand eastward. “Not an inch to the east” was how the official record of the meeting reads. Gorbachev and Shevardnadze failed to get this deal on paper and signed, but a verbal deal is a deal. A year ago Russia’s offer was quite moderate: that NATO withdraw to its pre-1997 borders, when it expanded to Eastern Europe. But, as usually happens when negotiating with the Russians, their initial offer is usually the best. For all we know, based on how things are going in the Ukraine, Russia’s best and final offer may require NATO to disband altogether. After all, the Warsaw Pact disbanded 31 years ago but NATO is still around and bigger than ever; what for? To fight Russia? Well, then, what are they waiting for? Come and get it! This may not even take the form of a negotiation. For example, Russia could say, take a quick whack at Latvia (it richly deserves a whack or two for abusing its large native Russian population Nazi-style) and then stand back and say, “Come on, NATO, come and die heroically on our doorstep for poor little Latvia!” At this, NATO officials will stand united but very quiet, thoughtfully examining their own and each others’ shoes. Once it becomes clear that there will be no offers to launch World War III to avenge Latvia, NATO will quietly dry up and blow away. Finally, we come to what is perhaps the least important reason for the Goldilocks War: the former Ukraine itself. In view of Russia’s other strategic goals, it seems more of the nature of a sacrificial piece in a chess gambit. Given what Russia has already achieved over the past nine months—four new Russian regions, six million new Russian citizens, a land bridge to Crimea, irrigation water supply to Crimea—there isn’t much left for Russia to achieve militarily before its military campaign reaches the stage of diminishing returns. The addition of Nikolaev and Odessa regions and full control of the Black Sea coastline would, of course, be most valuable; control of Kharkov and Kiev somewhat less so. Control of the entire Dniepr hydroelectric cascade is a definite nice-to-have. As for the rest, it could be left to languish for ages as a deindustrialized, depopulated wasteland, labeled “Mostly harmless.” Let me divulge a personal detail or two. Two of my grandparents were from Zhitomir, my father was born in Kiev, my first romantic interest was a girl from Odessa, and over the years I’ve had as many friends from Odessa, Kharkov, Lvov, Kiev, Donetsk, Vinnitsa and elsewhere as anywhere else in Russia. Russia? You read that right: there is no way to convince me that so-called “Ukrainian territory” somehow isn’t Russia or that the people who live there somehow aren’t Russian—regardless of what some of them have been recently brainwashed to think. What’s more, none of these people I have known over the years ever thought of themselves as the least bit Ukrainian and they would probably view the very idea of a Ukrainian nationalist identity as symptomatic of a mental condition. The label “Ukrainian” was to them some Bolshevik nonse; since then, Ukrainianness has been turned into a Western method for exploiting minor ethnic variations in order to make one group of Russians fight another group of Russians. In case you are doubtful, let’s apply the good old duck test: Do the people there walk, quack and look like Russians? All of that territory, with one minor exception in the far west, was part of Russia for anywhere between ten and three centuries; most of the people there, and virtually the entire urban population, speaks Russian as their native language; their religion is predominantly Russian Orthodox; they are genetically indistinguishable from the rest of the Russian population. So, what happened to them? Unfortunately, a small piece of this Russian land spent three centuries in captivity to the Austro-Hungarian Empire or as part of Greater Poland, and this poisoned their minds with foreign ideas such as Catholicism and ethnic nationalism. Unlike Russia, which is a multinational, multi-ethnic, religiously diverse monolith, the West is a mosaic of ethnic nationalisms, and where there are nationalists there may be Nazis, ethnic cleansing and genocide. As one drop of poison infects the whole tun of wine, these Western Ukrainians, with lots of help and funds from the German Nazis, then the Americans and the Canadians, managed to infect a large part of the formerly Ukrainian territory with a fake nationalism based on a forged history and a haphazardly concocted culture. Official bans on the teaching and, eventually, the use of Russian have brought up a generation of young people who are essentially illiterate in their native Russian. They are taught in Ukrainian, but Ukrainian literacy is close to an oxymoron, since nothing of any great consequence has ever been written or published in that language and the vast majority of Ukrainian literary works are, you guessed it, in Russian. The Russian special military operation that’s been ongoing since February 2022 has polarized the entire population. Those who had decided to be with Russia back in 2014 were, obviously, overjoyed to finally get some help from Russia. The now Russian regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson gladly voted to join Russia. But as far as the rest of the former Ukrainian territory, the polarization is mostly in the opposite direction. Those who wanted to be with Russia mostly voted with their feet and are now living somewhere in Russia. This is something that time alone can fix. Eventually the population of the former Ukraine will be forced to make a choice: they can be Russian, or they can be refugees somewhere in Europe, or they can die fighting Russians at the front. Note that even Donetsk and Lugansk didn’t make this choice right away, the way Crimea did. At that time, only some 70% of their population was in favor of leaving the Ukraine and rejoining Russia. It took eight years of relentless Ukrainian bombing to convince them to make this choice. Over these intervening years, the diehard “Ukrainians” filtered out, leaving behind a population that was close to 100% pro-Russian. It was only then that the Kremlin granted them official recognition, sent in troops to defend them from imminent invasion and, soon after, accepted them into the Russian Federation. And now the same sort of sorting operation has to take place throughout the rest of the former Ukraine. How long will it take? Only time will tell, but it is already clear that, as far as Russia is concerned, there is no compelling reason to rush. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/07/2022 - 02:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 7th, 2022

The 23 best romance books of 2022, according to Goodreads

Goodreads reviewers considered novels by Colleen Hoover, Emily Henry, Ana Huang, Mia Sosa, and more to be the best romance books of 2022. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Amazon; Amazon Romance novels are heartwarming stories of people falling in love under all kinds of circumstances.  These romance books are the most popular and highest rated of 2022.  They include enemies-to-lovers, fake-dating, and romantic comedy reads. Romance novels follow characters in their search for love through heartbreak, loss, and doubt. They include all kinds of romantic plots, from cute love stories with a little bit of magic to erotic romance reads that are almost too hot to handle. These romance books are the best and most popular of 2022 on Goodreads — the world's largest platform where over 125 million readers rate, review, and recommend their favorite books. The books on this list had to be published in 2022 and are ranked by a combination of how often they were read this year and how highly they were rated: Any book with less than 3.5 out of five stars did not make the list. So whether you're looking for a fun rom-com or a spicy romance novel, here are the 23 best romance books of 2022, according to Goodreads reviewers. 23. "Icebreaker" by Hannah GraceAmazonAvailable at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, from $15.54Anastasia Allen is focused on her goal of becoming an Olympic figure skater when a misunderstanding leaves her skating team and the hockey team sharing a rink. In this frenemies-to-lovers romance, Nate, the hockey team's captain, gets benched and Anatasia finds herself in need of a partner, he steps up.22. "The Dead Romantics" by Ashley PostonAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $12.48Florence Day has just gone through a breakup and can't get a deadline extension at her job as a ghostwriter when her father passes away, drawing her to her hometown for his funeral. But when she sees her new editor as a ghost at his funeral, they're both confused about why he's there in this paranormal contemporary romance.21. "Something Wilder" by Christina LaurenAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $17.13The daughter of a notorious treasure hunter, Luly Wilder now uses her father's hand-drawn maps as a tour guide in Utah while dreaming of buying back her family's ranch. But when her ex unexpectedly comes back into her life as a tour guest and their trip goes terribly wrong, Lily begins to wonder if her father's maps may lead to a real treasure after all. 20. "You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty" by Akwaeke EmeziAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $17.19In this story about love and joy after loss, Feyi Adekola is almost ready to ease back into dating, five years after an accident that killed the love of her life. When a whirlwind summer brings her a perfect guy, a dangerous crush threatens to complicate everything as she's forced to face how far she's willing to go for another chance at love. 19. "The Kiss Curse" by Erin SterlingAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $13.12In this sequel to "The Ex Hex," Wells Penhallow has come to the magical town of Graves Glen to re-establish his family's connection to the town they once founded, now run by a powerful coven of witches. When he opens a new witchy shop just across the street from Gwyn's, it's clear this is personal — until her powers begin to fade and she and Wells must work together to find out what's happening before Gwyn's magic is gone for good. 18. "Thank You for Listening" by Julia WhelanAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $14.39"Thank You for Listening" follows Sewanee Chester, an audiobook narrator and former movie star, who learns that one of the most beloved audiobook narrators, the seductive and anonymous Brock McNight, wants to record a romance novel with her. Though Sewanee doesn't believe in romance novels, she feels compelled to help the book's prolific author. As she begins to form a bond with Brock, secrets are spilled in this story of self-discovery and love.17. "Electric Idol" by Katee RobertAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $9.37"Electric Idol" is a fantasy/romance retelling of the story of Psyche and Eros, the second novel in the "Dark Olympus" series. In this book, Eros has been ordered to kill Psyche but finds he cannot go through with it. When he marries her to keep her safe, Psyche is determined to ruin Eros — until the lines of loyalty begin to blur and she realizes her heart may be with him after all.16. "Dating Dr. Dil" by Nisha SharmaAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $11.99Kareena Mann needs to get engaged to keep her father from selling her mother's home when she gets in an argument with Dr. Prem Verma, the host of "The Dr. Dil Show," that goes viral, ruining her chance at finding someone. But when her aunts strike a deal with Prem to fund his clinic if he can convince Kareena they're soulmates, the two realize the line between love and hate may be thinner than they thought.15. "Funny You Should Ask" by Elissa SussmanAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $1210 years ago, Chani Horowitz was hired to write a profile about her movie star celebrity crush, Gabe Parker, but their interview resulted in a 72-hour tabloid whirlwind. Now, Chani still can't escape that profile when she's asked to do a second interview in this page-turning romance that jumps between Chani's world now and the interview she'll never forget.14. "Delilah Green Doesn't Care" by Ashley Herring BlakeAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $13.99In this flirty, queer rom-com, Delilah Green returns to her hometown to photograph her stepsister's wedding when she runs into one of her stepsister's stuck-up friends, Claire Sutherland. With a host of problems of her own, Claire doesn't need Delilah's button-pushing charm until they're forced together in wedding preparations and begin to see each other's real sides.13. "Part of Your World" by Abby JimenezAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $10.88When Alexis Montgomery needs a tow in a small town, she meets Daniel Grant, a gorgeous, 10-years-younger carpenter whose identity is closely tied to his tight-knit town. She decides to keep her identity as a wealthy, hot-shot ER doctor in the city a secret, and her fling with Daniel becomes a sanctuary from her stressful life until reality comes crashing down and she must find a way to have both her world and his — or risk losing everything.12. "The American Roommate Experiment" by Elena ArmasAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $11.70From the author of reader-favorite "The Spanish Love Deception," this new romance follows Rosie Graham as she finally pursues her career as a romance writer. When Rosie suddenly needs a new place to stay, she finds herself staying with her best friend's cousin, Lucas. When Lucas offers to help Rosie get over her writer's block with a series of romantic dates, Rosie begins to wonder if the romantic inspiration is turning into real romance. 11. "The Wedding Crasher" by Mia SosaAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $11.89When Solange agrees to help her wedding-planning cousin on a stranger's big day, a secret she shouldn't have heard convinces her she needs to crash the wedding and stop the groom, Dean, from making a mistake. But Dean needs a significant other to get a promotion at work, so he pretends to be in love with Solange and begs her to pretend to be his girlfriend even though they're polar opposites.10. "The Bodyguard" by Katherine CenterAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $16.99Though Hannah Brooks may look like a harmless schoolteacher, she's actually an Executive Protection Agent, hired to protect superstar Jack Stapleton from his stalker. When he returns to his family's ranch in Texas to help his sick mother, he doesn't want his family to know about his stalker or bodyguard, so he asks Hannah to pretend to be his girlfriend in this sweet fake-dating romance.9. "Terms and Conditions" by Lauren AsherAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $15.99In this "Dreamland Billionaire" series sequel, Declan needs to find someone to marry to inherit his family's empire when Iris, his assistant, steps up. Though their marriage is one of convenience, their fake relationship begins to feel real, against all their rules that should have kept them from falling in love.8. "Every Summer After" by Carley FortuneAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $10Percy and Sam spent six summers forming a friendship and slowly falling in love until everything fell apart 10 years ago. Now, Percy is returning to the lakeshore for Sam's mother's funeral and the two find they have one weekend to fix everything or go their separate ways in this story of forgiveness and second-chance love. 7. "Twisted Hate" by Ana HuangAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $14.99In this third novel of the erotic, 18+ "Twisted" series, Jules Ambrose has consumed Josh Chen's thoughts, as she seems to be the only person impervious to his charm. Though the two have grown to despise each other, they arrange an enemies-with-benefits relationship with promises to not fall in love — until their pasts catch up with them in this steamy novel that can be read as a standalone from the rest of the series. 6. "Love on the Brain" by Ali HazelwoodAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $11.24From the author of the award-winning "Love Hypothesis," this new "STEMinist" romance read is about Bee Königswasser, a scientist who is being forced to work with her sexy but sworn archenemy, Levi Ward. But when things start to go wrong on their project and Levi takes her side, Bee begins to wonder if there's a chance for something more between them.5. "Hook, Line, and Sinker" by Tessa BaileyAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $12 In this bestselling sequel to "It Happened One Summer," Hannah Bellinger has managed to convince the producer at her job to move their film set to the fishing town of Westport, where her dad is from and her sister now lives. Though she's staying in Fox's spare bedroom, Hannah is determined to evade his ladykiller ways in favor of catching her producer's eye, but when her and Fox's moments turn into something more, Hannah finds she might be falling for the guy she thought was just a friend. 4. "Things We Never Got Over" by Lucy ScoreAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $12.74When Naomi meets Knox, she's stranded in his small Virginia town with no money or car after running away from her wedding, being abandoned by her estranged twin, and left with her 11-year-old niece. Though Knox only plans to help Naomi get back on her feet and out of his life, he finds he can't walk away when her challenging situation turns into real danger. 3. "It Starts With Us" by Colleen HooverAmazonAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $10.98"It Starts With Us" is the highly anticipated sequel to "It Ends With Us" and continues almost a year later as Lily Bloom begins to navigate life once more after everything that happened with Ryle. In this book, readers follow Lily on her journey to a happy ending and learn more about her and Atlas' history together as teenagers. Readers everywhere love this book — check out our full review to find out why.2. "Book Lovers" by Emily HenryBookshopAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $9.99In this 2022 Emily Henry novel, Nora Stephens is a successful literary agent who is ready to take her story into her own hands when her sister, Libby, invites her to stay in the storybook town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. There, Nora is open to falling in love but keeps running into Charlie Lastra, a book editor from the city, in a series of not-so-meet-cutes too perfect for any romance novel. "Book Lovers" is one of our favorite beach reads of this year and you can check out our full review here.1. "Reminders of Him" By Colleen HooverBookshopAvailable at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $9.57With nearly 600,000 ratings on Goodreads and over 530,000 4- and 5-star reviews, "Reminders of Him" is the most popular romance book of 2022 amongst Goodreads reviewers. The contemporary romance follows Kenna Rowan as she's released from prison and tries to rebuild her relationship with her daughter, though it seems everyone is trying to keep them apart. Colleen Hoover has become hugely popular on TikTok — check out more of her books here or, if you've already read every "CoHo" novel, check out our recommendations for what to read next.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 6th, 2022

Cure Generational Poverty By Providing Rich Experiences To Youth

Developing the critical skills, attitudes, and behaviors children need to succeed as adults requires consistent, supportive relationships and positive developmental experiences in and out of school, according to a report by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework states that children need to develop a […] Developing the critical skills, attitudes, and behaviors children need to succeed as adults requires consistent, supportive relationships and positive developmental experiences in and out of school, according to a report by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework states that children need to develop a sense of agency, integrate a sense of identity, be productive, effective, and adaptable in order to succeed in college and a career, form healthy relationships, make wise choices, and become engaged citizens. Among these qualities are four foundational components: if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   Find A Qualified Financial Advisor Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. “Self-regulation,” or being aware of and able to manage one’s attention, emotions, and behaviors to achieve goals. “Knowledge and skills” refer to one’s ability to understand oneself and the world as well as perform tasks. “Mindsets” are the way everyday experiences are processed. “Values” are the moral code of conduct and long-term beliefs. The Wallace Foundation funded a study that found that children and youth benefit from development experiences involving action as well as reflection in order to develop agency, an integrated identity, and several key skills. In order to understand themselves and the world around them more fully, young people need strong, supportive, and sustained relationships with adults and peers. Additionally, the report offers educators, youth practitioners, parents, and families recommendations about when, where, and how factors to successfully develop. In addition, children’s social and cognitive experiences in and out of school influence their brain growth and their propensity to learn new languages and explore the world. What is a Rich Experience? In order for a child to have a rich experience, the following characteristics must be present: Learning. For kids, every new experience is an opportunity to learn. Immersion. In order to learn from an experience, a child must engage both her heart and mind. Takeaways. Transforming a bad experience into a good one is another great lesson in finding a takeaway. Having fun. Students are more likely to participate and take risks when teachers use engaging and fun activities. The process of learning is also enjoyable and memorable if students are having fun while doing it. One of the most important things young people are seeking is purpose. Adolescents who have a greater sense of purpose are happier and more hopeful. In some scholars’ definitions, “purpose” is an abiding aim that directs your behavior, gives meaning to your life, and has an impact on the world beyond your own. Whether children feel a sense of purpose depends on the type of experiences they have as children. The Childhood Experiences that Lead to a More Meaningful Life Focus and Self-Control Scheduling, habits, and routines help children learn self-control and focus, as well as create a sense of security — especially for children living in poverty. You should discuss what your child can expect each day with him or her. Provide your child with a space where shoes, coats, and personal belongings can be stored. In today’s noisy, distracting world, quiet activities like reading books, participating in sensory activities, or completing puzzles can help your child focus and slow down. Adversity The negative experiences we have early in life may affect our development of direction — even decades later. A study by psychologist Patrick Hill and his colleagues examined over 3,800 primarily white adults between the ages of 20 and 75. Among the early childhood adversities they reported were: Emotional abuse Physical abuse Socioeconomic disadvantage Family structure disadvantages, such as parents divorcing or dying. Health disadvantages, for example, poor early physical or emotional health. A sense of purpose as adults. It was found by Hill and his colleagues that people who experienced greater adversity as a child. particularly health disadvantages were less purposeful. “Individuals who experience early adversity are not ‘doomed’ to a lower sense of purpose later in life,” the researchers write. “Instead, early adversity may be better viewed as a potential risk factor.” Some people, however, find that tough times as children inspire them to pursue a particular calling, like working with children or eradicating poverty. “Some individuals may gain greater clarity on their life direction upon reflection on these adverse events,” Hill and his colleagues suggest. Perspective Thinking The ability to think from another’s perspective does not come naturally to most children. But it is something that can be learned. In the books you read, make observations about the character’s feelings and motivations. Conflict A child’s sense of purpose might even be affected by the conflict between their parents and children. Hill and his colleagues conducted another study that included over 1,000 six to twelve-year-old children and their parents. Children from these families were followed until they reached their twenties by the researchers. Most of them were white, working-class families from the Pacific Northwest. The children were asked to complete questionnaires about how much conflict, anger, and fun they had with their parents when they were in elementary school. A questionnaire was also filled out by the children as they became adults, in order to measure their satisfaction with their lives, their goals, and their stress levels. How did things turn out? No matter how stressed and satisfied with life young adults were, those who had conflict with their mothers in their early years had a diminished sense of purpose as adults. “Frequent conflict saps the child’s energy and enthusiasm, and in turn likelihood to live an active, engaged lifestyle, which has been suggested as a primary pathway by which individuals find what makes their lives purposeful,” Hill and colleagues contend. Communication To build healthy social-emotional skills, including understanding and communicating with others, children need high-touch, personal interactions every day. Although children develop these skills at different rates, they must learn how to recognize social cues and listen attentively. In order to communicate effectively, they must consider what they want to say and how to do it most effectively. Building these skills can be as simple as talking to an interested adult. Taking time to listen and respond to your child every day will make a big difference in their development. Attachment and Separation-Individuation Hill and colleagues explored how purpose might be impacted by another aspect of the parent-child relationship in an earlier study. In addition to parental attachment, they measured separation-individuation. In the study, parental attachment was measured by asking children to say things like, “I usually talk to [my mother or father] about my problems and concerns.” Parental attachment refers to the bond between a child and their primary caregivers that is based on their warmth and responsiveness. During adolescence and early adulthood, separation-individuation is the process of developing an independent, mature sense of self. A measure of separation-individuation problems was “I need other people around me to not feel empty.” In an online survey conducted by a Canadian university, over 500 primarily white undergraduates ages 17-30 described their relationship with their parents and their sense of purpose. Students who sensed purpose generally had a stronger attachment to their parents and had fewer separation-individuation problems than those with a lower sense of purpose. The result was a greater sense of mastery and control-they felt in control of their own lives. In the view of Hill and his colleagues, “Having a sense of purpose could assist emerging adults with the process of defining themselves while maintaining adaptive relationships with their parental figures.” Making Connections The ability to see patterns and connections between seemingly disparate things is what allows us to learn. In order to understand the world, we need to make connections. When children sort basic household items such as toys and socks, they begin to see connections and patterns. Simple acts, such as selecting clothing suitable for the weather, promote connections between them. There are also abstract connections in life that can be pointed out. For example, you’ve got to do more than just say, “That box of cereal costs $5.” Hand them some money and have them hand it over during checkout. Nature Positive childhood experiences, such as early memories of nature’s beauty, can prepare children for a purpose in life later on. In Japan, researchers Riichiro Ishida and Masahiko Okada recruited nearly 70 college students aged 18 to 35. As part of the questionnaire, participants were asked about their purpose, their early life, and their youth experiences, including nature-related questions such as “Do you remember having feelings associated with nature? ” Researchers found that more purposeful students had stronger memories of nature’s beauty during their early childhoods and early adolescence. This relationship requires further research. Having a diminished sense of self, which comes with purpose — may allow a child to “engage with some aspect of the world beyond the self.” Which just so happens to be a foundational part of purpose. Critical Thinking In today’s complex world, adults make decisions every day about a wide range of issues. As such, play is an excellent way to develop critical thinking skills. Provide your child with time to play alone or with friends each day. As part of this play, children might take on roles as superheroes, build structures, play board games, or play sports, such as tag and hide-and-seek. Play builds critical thinking skills through hypotheses, risk-taking, trying out ideas, making mistakes, and finding solutions. Exposure to Diverse Activities As children get older, early childhood experiences may influence not only whether or not they develop purpose at all, but also what kind of purpose they gravitate towards. Kendall Cotton Bronk conducted a study with nine 12 to 23-year-olds with an exceptional sense of purpose. Over the course of five years, her team interviewed them three times for three hours each. “According to the exemplars, they would not have discovered noble purposes in the areas they did had they not been involved in those areas early on, often as children,” Bronk said. “As parents, teachers, and other adults interested in fostering noble purpose among youth, then it is important to expose young people to a wide variety of activities.” An 18-year-old in the study told how she became interested in cancer research when she was five after volunteering for a fundraising event at the mall with the American Cancer Society. In the study, another 18-year-old with the purpose of creating and promoting jazz music shared, “I got into music when I was nine because my next-door neighbor . . . had a piano, and he taught me how to play Pink Panther and Greensleeves and stuff like that.” A related study by Ishida and Okada found that adults who remember receiving praise and praise from their parents, teachers, friends, and neighbors during childhood are more likely to have a stronger sense of purpose in life. In the early years of childhood, children may not be able to recognize the importance of a specific activity. They may instead find their strengths and ways to contribute gradually as they participate in the activity, slowly building their commitment. Self-Directed, Engaged Learning When a child loves learning, he or she will never be bored in life as an adult. Encourage children to read, play, and explore in an open-ended way to foster a love of learning. Encourage curiosity in your children by taking them to the library or even allowing them to make some messes at home. Budget-friendly Ways to Create Rich Experiences Bolster their academic skills. You can infuse math into mealtime, for instance. When preparing meals, children can count, measure, estimate, compare, and recognize shapes. Count the number of cups and utensils your family will need, and ask your child to measure and count ingredients. Enhance their communication skills. Having an adventure in your living room would be a great idea. Imagine you are riding a magic carpet, a submarine, or a school bus to your next adventure with your kids. Have them share their ideas about where they’d like to go, and take turns coming up with stories about your adventures. Ask kids creative questions based on what you see and describe what you see. Promote social-emotional development. Stay in touch with your emotions on a regular basis. When adults are stressed and worried, young children can easily pick up on that stress. As such, each day, spend time checking in and connecting with your child. Ask them, “How did your day go” and “what do you plan to do tomorrow?” Live richer on a budget. To live a rich life, you don’t need a lot of money, notes GoBankingRates. Despite the fact that it can be difficult to feel like you’re living well while cutting costs, you don’t have to sacrifice everything you enjoy. In the end, living on a budget doesn’t mean giving up everything you enjoy. You can still live a rich life if you follow these steps. Figure out what makes your life rich. Donna Freedman, long-time personal finance writer and author of the “Your Playbook For Tough Times” book series, said a rich life isn’t determined by money. “Money is essential to survival, but it’s not all there is to life,” she said. For example, spending time with loved ones. Finesse your budget. Your budget might have more room than you think for the things that you enjoy. Review your spending to see if there are any costs you can reduce. “Chances are you may be wasting money without realizing it,” money-saving expert Andrea Woroch said. Look for low-cost and free ways to live rich. For little to no cost, it is possible to get what you need, want or enjoy. If you live in an area where there is a Buy Nothing Project Facebook group, Freedman suggests checking it out. People can give away everything from furniture to musical instruments to children’s toys and clothes in these groups. Find frugal alternatives. Travel may not be possible. You can still tour museums and explore new cities through books or virtual tours. Be grateful for what you do have. Focus on what you do have and what is going right in your life. Maybe you would like to upgrade your phone but can’t afford it. Take pride in having a phone that works. Find them a mentor. Mentorship can provide stability and opportunities for those who may not have access to guidance or the right environment to help them discover and reach their goals. There are even some programs, such as Friends of the Children-Detroit, that aim to help children break the cycle of generational poverty. “The way I describe Friends of the Children is we are a long-term mentoring program that’s evidence-based that matches children, one-to-one, with a paid professional mentor with the goal to end generational poverty,” says Nicole McKinney, executive director of Friends of the Children-Detroit. The program strives for three long-term goals: Upon completion of the program, each child receives his or her GED or high school diploma. Preventing juveniles from entering the criminal justice system. Teen pregnancy prevention. Based on the needs of each child, the program is specially designed to promote achievement. Another option is MENTOR. According to its site, “MENTOR was created more than 30 years ago to expand that opportunity for young people by building a youth mentoring field and movement, serving as the expert and go-to resource on quality mentoring. The result — a more than 10x increase in young people in structured mentoring relationships, from hundreds of thousands to millions.” Take advantage of free or low-cost camps. As previously mentioned, spending time outside can help develop purpose in children. Furthermore, outdoor family activities and communal playtime can improve your child’s motor skills. Unfortunately, when leaving in generational poverty, this might be an option. For instance, a parent may be working multiple jobs and can not take their children to the park. Also, there may be easy access to green spaces. Fortunately, there are several free and low-cost programs that can provide such experiences, such: The YMCA. Although they are not free, they are very affordable. In New Hampshire, there are a variety of camp opportunities, such as Camp Lawrence for boys and Camp Nokomis for girls. In addition, Ohio is home to three Countryside YMCA locations. The Salvation Army. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 can enroll in the Salvation Army’s summer camps. There are no free camps, but each one costs no more than $50 a week for each child. Several discounts reduce the cost for your second child to $40 and for your third child to $30 if you send multiple children. Police Athletic League. In terms of summer camps for low-income families, the Police Athletic League is one of the best options. Summer camps are offered by PAL for children aged 5-13 at no cost. There may be a PAL location nearby since there are over a dozen locations across the country. The Fresh Air Fund. New York City’s Fresh Air Fund provides summer camp adventures for low-income communities. Additionally, there are non-profits like the Boys & Girls Club. Across the country, there are after-school programs that include homework assistance, art instruction, STEM activities, music, theater, sports, cooking, and special interest clubs. Besides computers and WiFi, there is also a social time for children to meet new people or be with friends. FAQS What is poverty? Aside from dollar amounts, quality of life also plays a part in poverty discussions. In poverty, there is struggle and deprivation every day. There is often a lack of quality education for children living in poverty. It may be due to a lack of quality schools, the inability of their parents to afford school fees, or the need for their children to work in impoverished families. Consequently, poverty becomes a generational cycle if children are not provided with a quality education. A poverty-stricken family can’t afford to visit a doctor or get medical treatment. As a result, there is often no electricity, limited shelter, and little to no food to eat. Poor nutrition can lead to stunting and wasting in young children, which will negatively affect their development for the rest of their lives. What causes poverty? It’s not just a lack of water, food, shelter, education, or health care that causes poverty. Poverty can also be caused by social inequalities such as gender discrimination, poor governance, conflict, exploitation, or domestic violence. As a result of these inequities, people or society can become poor as well as be unable to access social services that could help them to improve their situation. What is the cycle of poverty? Poverty is a trap that can be hard to escape. An individual must have access to educational opportunities, clean water, medical facilities nearby, as well as financial resources in order to escape poverty. Unless these elements are in place, poverty will carry on from generation to generation. Families with poor finances will not be able to send their children to school, which will impact their children’s ability to earn an income as adults. Conflict and natural disasters can enhance the poverty cycle or exacerbate it. People in impoverished communities are more vulnerable and often lack basic resources when a natural disaster strikes, therefore further entrenching their poverty or jeopardizing their newly emerging community. How many children in the US live in families with low incomes? In the US, 38 percent of children under 18 years old live in families with low income, and 17 percent – nearly one in five – live in poverty. As a result, kids make up 32 percent of the poor in our nation; they represent 23 percent of the population. There are a lot more kids living in families just above the poverty threshold. Low-income or poor families do not happen by accident. Children who experience economic insecurity are likely to have parents with low education and low employment, as well as racial or ethnic background. Race, geography, and other factors play a role in determining children’s economic insecurity experiences. What can we do to end generational poverty? In order to break generational poverty, education seems to be the most effective method. By creating a path for these families to reach new dreams, we can help them find hope in the future. It is necessary to implement many different programs in order to end generational poverty. A wide range of services is available to end generational poverty, including Head Start, vocational training, housing assistance, food assistance, and after-school programs. It’s crucial to provide basic courses like financial literacy and soft skills training as well. Overall, education, training, financial support, nutrition, and some human kindness can break the poverty cycle. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old, while attending the University of Utah, he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months, he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time, he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and Finance Expert by Time. He is the Founder and CEO of Due......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkNov 1st, 2022

Has The USA Reached Another Historical Inflection Point?

Has The USA Reached Another Historical Inflection Point? Authored by Kevin Duffy via The Mises Institute, “At the rate things are going, we are all going to end up working for the Japanese.” - Lester Thurow, MIT economist, 1989 “The United States is rapidly becoming a colony of Japan.” - Congresswoman Helen Bentley, 1990 “The Japanese can buy our buildings, our Wall Street firms, and there’s virtually nothing to stop them. In fact, bidding on a building in New York is an act of futility, because the Japanese will pay more than it’s worth just to screw us. They want to own Manhattan.” - Donald Trump, March 1990 During the late 1980s, Japan had the Midas touch. In the eyes of the mainstream media, Wall Street strategists, economists and politicians, the Japanese could do no wrong. America’s brand of capitalism—self-centered, greedy, chaotic, and unplanned—was no match for Japan’s unique brand of state capitalism, with the long-term-oriented government bureaucrat, aggressive businessman and diligent, loyal employees all working in perfect harmony for the common good. Newspaper headlines routinely lamented America’s decline as much as they feared Japan’s rise. While a whole slew of Keynesians and mercantilists confused a liquidity bubble for an economic miracle, a handful of contrarians, including Jim Grant, John Templeton and Marc Faber, parted ways with the crowd. At the end of 1988, I wrote, in a letter to the editor that was published in the Wall Street Journal, By the end of this century, the question may not be “Will the U.S. be No. 1?” but “Will Japan still be No. 2?” That was a pretty bold prediction at the time. (I was young, naïve and didn’t know better.) There was some luck, no doubt. My study of financial bubbles, including Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, implanted the idea that a frenzied crowd is almost guaranteed to be wrong. And my discovery of Austrian economics, especially Murray Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression, provided the economic rationale for why government intervention would not only fail in Japan, but likely intensify with the downturn and usher in a decade or more of stagnation. My sense was that the world’s financial markets were at a major inflection point and that sticking my neck out and flaunting the consensus would lead to significant returns. A 239-Year History of Inflection Points in America Does the everything bubble suggest a similar inflection point today? To try to answer this question, I’ve constructed a table of major financial turning points in the US, with coinciding political and foreign policy events, to see if a pattern emerges (see below). Major US Inflection Points   At first glance, our table reveals some obvious patterns:   Timing—The best time to buy stocks is at the point of maximum pessimism about the economy. The onset of wars tends to build the wall of worry further and ensure key bottoms: Spanish-American War (1898), World War II (1941) and the first Iraq War (1990). The start of the second Iraq War (2003) pinpointed a four-year bull run. One notable exception was US involvement in the Vietnam War, which began covertly right after World War II and escalated from 1965 (first combat units introduced) to 1969 (five hundred thousand US military personnel stationed in Vietnam). Adjusted for inflation, the Dow Jones Industrials Average peaked in 1966 and didn’t bottom until 1982. Meanwhile, peace and prosperity generally coincide with stock market tops. E.g., the roaring ’20s (1929) and dot-com bubble (2000) witnessed an absence of external enemies. Duration—Inflection points alter the course of stocks, bonds and gold for long periods of time, often decades. E.g., the 1946–81 bear market in bonds (thirty-five years) was replaced by a thirty-nine-year bull market. Conflict vs. cooperation—The 1946 inflection point ended a long period of conflict between nations: centuries of imperial rivalry culminating in two world wars separated by a massive trade war. The end of World War II ushered in a seventy-year period of decolonization, globalization, expanding division of labor and relative peace. (While President Trump’s trade war with China arguably arrested this trend, at least in the short run, I believe the long-term trend will reassert itself.) Megatrend: Big Government The overarching trend in the US since 1789 has been an ever-expanding and centralized government. That year marked the scrapping of the Articles of Confederation for a more centralized federation of sovereign states with George Washington its first president. The new government was the outcome of a heated debate between competing visions for the United States, with the federalists (led by Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s first treasury secretary,) prevailing over the Anti-Federalists who were thrown a bone with the Bill of Rights to try to keep the central state in check. (The federalists were clustered in commercial centers; their message was amplified by the press. The more agrarian anti-federalists included such luminaries as Patrick Henry, Melancton Smith, William Grayson, George Clinton, and Richard Henry Lee; most have since faded into oblivion.) Importantly, the new government’s Constitution opened the door to direct taxation and enforcement at the national level, roles confined to the states under the Articles. This was a boon to speculators in government bonds which had become practically worthless after the war with Britain. Where the founders did agree (including Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson) was on national greatness and expansionism. According to Sheldon Richman in America’s Counter-revolution, Even the government’s schools teach … that America’s founders had—let us say—an expansive vision for the country they were establishing…. Clearly, these men had empire on their minds. Indeed, in the eyes of the founders, the American Revolution was largely a war between a mature, exhausted empire and a nascent one. Many—but assuredly not all—Americans of the time would have cheerfully agreed. In other words, the dramatic shift from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution was the ultimate inflection point. As historian Vernon L. Parrington (1871–1929) wrote: [It] marked the turning point in American development; the checking of the long movement of decentralization and the beginning of a counter movement … The history of the rise of the coercive state in America, with the ultimate arrest of all centrifugal tendencies, was implicit in that momentous counter movement.1 A key step on the path to centralization occurred in 1861 as state sovereignty became a casualty of the misnamed “Civil War.” The bloodiest conflict in US history, which took the lives of roughly 2 percent of the population—seven times the death rate of World War II—was over the South’s right to secede (taken for granted seventy years earlier), not a struggle between factions over who would run the government. As Tom DiLorenzo, author of The Real Lincoln and Lincoln Unmasked, wrote shortly after the 9/11 attacks: Lincoln’s war established myriad precedents that have shaped the course of American government and society ever since: the centralization of governmental power, central banking, income taxation, protectionism, military conscription, the suspension of constitutional liberties, the “rewriting” of the Constitution by federal judges, “total war,” the quest for a worldwide empire, and the notion that government is one big “problem solver.” The next giant leap took place in 1898. According to Stephen Kinzer in Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq: Historic shifts in world politics often happen slowly and are hardly even noticeable until years later. That was not the case with the emergence of the United States as a world power. It happened quite suddenly in the spring and summer of 1898. The seeds, however, were planted five years earlier with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy: In the months after the 1893 revolution in Hawaii, that country’s new leaders sought annexation to the United States, but [anti-imperialist] President Grover Cleveland … would not hear of it. He was quite right when he declared that most Americans rejected the seizure of faraway lands “as not only opposed to our national policy, but as a perversion of our national mission.” Five years later, this consensus evaporated. Almost overnight, it was replaced by a national clamor for overseas expansion. This was the quickest and most profound reversal of public opinion in the history of American foreign policy. The April 21, 1898, invasion of Cuba began with a false flag incident (the Maine explosion) providing fodder for prowar yellow journalists (notably William Randolph Hearst), was sold to Congress and the American people as a mission to liberate the Cuban people from Spanish rule (Teller Amendment) and ended with broken promises and betrayal of the original cause: In the United States, enthusiasm for Cuban independence faded quickly. Whitelaw Reid, the publisher of the New York Tribune and the journalist closest to President McKinley, proclaimed the “absolute necessity of controlling Cuba for our own defense,” and rejected the Teller Amendment as “a self-denying ordinance possible only in a moment of national hysteria.” Senator Beveridge said it was not binding because Congress had approved it “in a moment of impulsive but mistaken generosity.” The New York Times asserted that Americans had a “higher obligation” than strict fidelity to ill-advised promises, and must become “permanent possessors of Cuba if the Cubans prove to be altogether incapable of self-government.” The long-term consequences of America’s interventions in Cuba would prove to be as profound as they were tragic. The 1898 inflection point put the rest of the world on notice: Outsiders watched the emergence of this new America with a combination of awe and fear … The Manchester Guardian reported that nearly every American had come to embrace the expansionist idea, while the few critics “are simply laughed at for their pains.” Some of these journalists were unsettled by what they saw … The Frankfurter Zeitung warned Americans against “the disastrous consequences of their exuberance” but realized that they would not listen. Endgame Is the megatrend towards big government in the US nearing an end? For starters, history has not been kind to empires. The British empire had its day, peaking with the first world war. By the time of the 1947 partition of India it was in full retreat, ushering in a bipolar world with the United States pitted against the Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989–91 created a vacuum with the US assuming the mantle of global hegemon. The American empire appears to have peaked somewhere between 1988 with the absurdity of presidential candidate Michael Dukakis’s failed photo-op in a tank and 2003 with the hubris of President George W. Bush’s staged declaration of “mission accomplished” aboard an aircraft carrier just weeks into the second Iraq War. Public debt–to-GDP was 58 percent when Bush declared victory; today it stands at 123 percent. To keep the game going, the political class has increasingly relied on borrowing, inflation and diversions like victimology, covid and climate change. “War is the health of the state” needs updating. The modern state has evolved, learning the lesson that any conflict feeds the Leviathan. Conflict is not limited to “us versus them” and “good versus evil,” but left vs. right, black vs. white, male vs. female, straight vs. LGBTQ, rich vs. poor, entrepreneurs vs. employees, young vs. old and even man vs. the planet. Wars have morphed into abstractions—e.g., war on poverty, war on drugs, war on terrorism, and now a war on a virus. The justifications for protecting party A against the predations of party B are endless. This presents a problem for the state, however: the web of lies becomes infinitely more complex and impossible to keep stitched together. The truth is an ever-present nuisance, as Lew Rockwell, founder of the Mises Institute, so passionately argues: The truth, no matter how seemingly battered and bruised, still shines through. It can never be wiped out, no matter how rotten the regime. In the end, the truth will triumph over deceit. One sign that Americans are beginning to see through the lies: a record number are rejecting both major political parties. Interventionists Jump the Shark Perhaps the most convincing argument that a major change is at hand is the nature of bubbles and their ability to reverse long-running trends. If the everything bubble is unraveling, the game has changed. In classic form, a timeline of the past two and a half years reveals a burst of euphoria accompanied by peak absurdities, followed by increasingly visible warning cracks and general denial by the interventionists: March 2020—As covid-19 arrives and panicked investors dump stocks for safe haven assets, US thirty-year T-bond yield hits all-time low of 0.84 percent (now 3.52 percent); President Trump signs $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill (CARES Act); April 2020—Fed Chairman Jerome Powell urges Congress to unleash “great fiscal power” to defeat covid, claims “we won’t run out of money”; May 2020—President Trump unleashes Operation Warp Speed to fast track a vaccine for covid; the death of George Floyd, a forty-six-year-old black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police, ignites months of “fiery but mostly peaceful protests”; June 2020—Quaker Oats cancels “Aunt Jemima” image from syrup brand to fight “racial stereotypes”; November 2020—Joe Biden narrowly defeats Donald Trump in disputed election; December 2020—President Trump signs $2.3 trillion stimulus bill (Consolidated Appropriations Act); January 2021—First wave of meme stock craze ends with GameStop topping out at split-adjusted 81.25 (now 28.64, down 65 percent); February 2021—Growth-at-any-price manager Cathie Wood’s ARK ETFs rake in $8.3 billion in new money, third behind fund giants Vanguard and BlackRock; ARK Innovation ETF peaks at 158.82 (now 42.58, down 73 percent); assets hit $23.3 billion as inflows total $8.8 billion over previous three months; March 2021—President Biden signs $1.9 trillion stimulus bill (American Rescue Plan Act); nonfungible token by a digital artist known as Beeple sells for $69 million; April 2021—Sri Lanka government bans all chemical fertilizers to make farming 100 percent organic, reverses course seven months later after mass protests by farmers and a surge in food price inflation; May 2021—Price inflation hits thirty-year high, with the year-over-year Consumer Price Index (CPI) +5.0 percent; June 2021—Italian artist sells “invisible” sculpture for more than £12,000; tiny activist investor Engine No. 1 wages successful battle to install three directors on Exxon Mobil’s board with goal of reducing company’s carbon footprint; August 2021—US ends twenty-year war in Afghanistan; Federal Reserve assets total $8.3 trillion, double prepandemic levels; September 2021—El Salvador adopts bitcoin as legal tender; November 2021—Bitcoin hits all-time high of $68,790 (now $20,040, down 71 percent); December 2021—University of Pennsylvania swimmer Will Thomas (identifying as “Lia”) qualifies to compete as a woman after taking a year of hormone treatments, records fastest national times in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle, and wins 1,650-yard freestyle by forty seconds; January 2022—S&P 500 hits all-time high of 4,819 (now 3,873, down 20 percent); New York City mayor Eric Adams takes his first paycheck in cryptocurrency; February 2022—Canadian truckers protest Trudeau government’s vaccine mandate; price inflation hits forty-year high, with year-over-year CPI +7.9 percent; Engine No. 1 launches climate change ETF; Russia invades Ukraine; March 2022—Federal public debt tops $30 trillion, up $7.2 trillion from prepandemic levels, and Lia Thomas becomes first transgender athlete to win NCAA Division I championship in any sport; April 2022—President Biden’s approval rating sinks to new low, Nasdaq Composite enters bear market territory; Federal Reserve assets peak at $8.9 trillion (now 1.5 percent lower); May 2022—Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admits she didn’t see inflation coming, Sri Lanka defaults on its national debt; Solomon Islands signs new security agreement with China; June 2022—Two-thirds of economists anticipate a recession while Jerome Powell sees “no sign of a broader slowdown;” the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci tests positive for covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated and twice boosted; Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, returns power to the states; Sri Lanka government collapses; and August 2022—Anthony Fauci announces his resignation, effective in December; California plans to ban sales of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035, two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo helps launch ESG fund. Investment Implications “It has been 241 years since Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Being short America has been a loser’s game. I predict to you it will continue to be a loser’s game.” - Warren Buffett, CNBC interview, September 21, 2017 “In the beginning of the QE period, I became convinced that the system was going to destroy the nature of money itself. I became convinced that the rules of the game had changed completely. When the rules change, the basic framework with which you make decisions need to change.” - Tony Deden, Q&A with Grant Williams, July 5, 2018 With all due respect to Warren Buffett, if we are at a major inflection point reversing a 239-year megatrend in government growth, the last thing you want to do as an investor, entrepreneur, or young person launching a career is to play by the old rules and blindly emulate past winners. Government bonds should be avoided; likewise, the stocks of companies sucking up to government, looking for favors, and peddling official narratives. Under the new rules, investors will likely pay a premium for independence—i.e., companies that can stand on their own. While Warren Buffett and John Bogle have had great runs (fifty-seven and forty-eight years, respectively), their playbooks are widely copied. Imitation is the sincerest path to subpar returns. Admittedly, much of their wisdom is likely to stand the test of time—e.g., the circle of competence, patience over activity, and keeping fees and turnover low. However, I suspect paying attention to macroeconomic issues will pay dividends because this is largely dismissed by the Buffett faithful as an exercise in futility. Likewise, active investing will be rewarded because Bogle’s brainchild, the index fund, is far too popular. At the end of 1988 I suggested looking forward, not backward: The world is still in the early stages of a third economic wave—the transition from an industrial to an information-based economy. Innovators tend to lead, whereas imitators tend to lag such waves. As the world’s best imitators, the Japanese capitalized on the ending of the industrial age. As the world’s best innovators, Americans should be the main beneficiaries of the beginning of the information age. That advice still holds today. The information age is thirty-four years older, but shows no signs of slowing down (although it has become far more global and not nearly as concentrated in Silicon Valley). Likewise, the “hockey stick of human prosperity” is still early, having begun just 250 or so years ago, up against five thousand years of recorded history. “You can’t afford not to be invested in the relentless ascent of man,” advises Dan Ferris in so many wise words. All bubbles are destructive in nature and based on a false belief that must be exposed and repudiated. In this case, the bad seed is government as universal problem solver. Bear markets have their place, to impart lessons, change behavior, restore health, and introduce the deluded to reality. Major tops are a process, not an event. The trend in centralized power was a long time in the making. Its reversal could play out over a century or more (with plenty of heart-wrenching rallies along the way). The transition will be messy and painful for those who are unprepared or live in the past, but wildly bullish long-term as the government parasite withers and dies. If I am right, the everything bubble helped seal the fate of big government. The state will increasingly be seen as an impediment to human progress and vestige of the past. Tyler Durden Tue, 10/11/2022 - 20:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 11th, 2022

Donald Trump"s docket: The latest on key cases and investigations centered on the ex-president and his businesses

Donald Trump and his business are tangled in at least a dozen significant federal and local investigations and lawsuits. Here's the latest on all of them. Former President Donald Trump addresses the America First Agenda Summit in Washington, DC, on July 26, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty Images Trump and his businesses are tangled in at least a dozen significant investigations and lawsuits. Under inquiry are Trump's alleged mishandling of sensitive documents, efforts to overturn the US election and possible financial wrongdoing. Check back here for updates on Trump's legal troubles, and for details on what's coming next. It's hard to keep track of Donald Trump's very busy legal docket. The former president is the subject of at least four major investigations into wrongdoing relating to his handling of White House documents, the election, the insurrection, and his finances — probes based in Florida, Fulton County, Georgia; Washington, D.C., and New York.Trump's business also remains under indictment in Manhattan for an alleged payroll tax-dodge scheme. On top of all that, Trump is fighting or bringing a grab-bag of important lawsuits that could financially cripple his international real estate and golf resort empire.Keep up to date on the latest of Trump's legal travails, both criminal and civil, with this guide to the ever-evolving Trump docket.Indictments Trump with his former CFO Allen Weisselberg at Trump Tower in 2017.Evan Vucci/APThe Trump Organization Payroll Case The Parties: The Manhattan DA is prosecuting The Trump Organization. The Issues: Trump's real estate and golf resort business is accused of giving its executives pricey perks and benefits that were never reported as income to taxing authorities.The company's co-defendant, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, has pleaded guilty to the 15-year, payroll tax-dodge scheme.As part of his August 18, 2022 plea deal, Weisselberg agreed to serve 5 months in jail and pay back $2 million in back taxes and penalties.What's next: Weisselberg also agreed to testify for the prosecution if lawyers for the Trump Organization fight the indictment at trial; an October 24 trial date has been set.Weisselberg would describe to jurors a tax-dodge scheme in which company executives, himself included, received some pay in off-the-books compensation that included free apartments, cars, and tuition reimbursement. But Weisselberg is hardly the ideal prosecution witness. He still works for Trump Org as a special advisor, and Trump's side is hoping to turn his testimony to its advantage.The Trump Organization could face steep fines if convicted of conspiring in the scheme by omitting the compensation from federal, state, and city tax documents and by failing to withhold and pay taxes on that compensation.Criminal InvestigationsFulton County Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta, on Jan. 4, 2022.AP Photo/Ben Gray, FileThe Fulton County election interference probeThe parties: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Trump, and his Republican associates The issues: Willis is investigating whether Trump and his associates tried to interfere in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Her probe has expanded to also include investigating an alleged scheme to send a fake slate of electors to Georgia's state Capitol in an attempt to overturn the elections.She's notified Rudy Giuliani, Trump's former personal attorney, that he's a target in the investigation. Giuliani testified for six hours under court order on August 17.What's next: A federal appeals court temporarily halted on Sunday a court order for Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to testify before the Fulton County special grand jury on Tuesday, August 23.Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.Jon Cherry/Getty ImagesThe Justice Department investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 electionThe parties: Federal investigators are increasingly scrutinizing the role Trump and his allies played in the effort to overturn the 2020 election.The issues: The Justice Department is facing pressure to prosecute following a string of congressional hearings that connected the former president to the violence of January 6, 2021, and to efforts to prevent the peaceful handoff of power.In a series of eight hearings, the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol described Trump's conduct in criminal terms and pointed to an April court decision in which a federal judge said the former president likely committed crimes in his effort to hold onto power. In that ruling, Judge David Carter called Trump's scheme a "coup in search of a legal theory."Prosecutors have asked witnesses directly about Trump's involvement in the effort to reverse his loss in the 2020 election and are likely to issue more subpoenas and search warrants in the weeks ahead.In June, federal investigators searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who advanced Trump's baseless claims of election fraud.On the same day, federal agents seized the phone of John Eastman, a lawyer who helped advise Trump on how to overturn the 2020 election. A top prosecutor in the Justice Department's inquiry, Thomas Windom, revealed in late July that investigators had obtained a se cord warrant allowing a search of Eastman's phone. Rep. Liz Cheney, the top Republican on the panel, lost her primary bid for reelection on August 16. What's next:  The Justice Department has remained largely silent about how and whether it would consider charges against Trump, but in July, prosecutors asked witnesses directly about the former president's involvement in the attempt to reverse his electoral defeat. FBI agents descended on Mar-a-Lago on August 8, 2022, with a search warrant.Darren SamuelsohnThe Justice Department investigation into the handling of classified documentsThe parties: The FBI searched Trump's estate in South Florida, Mar-a-Lago, on August 8 as part of an investigation into the possible mishandling of government records, including classified documents. Trump and his lawyers alleged prosecutorial misconduct and condemned the search as politically motivated.The issues: Early in 2022, Trump turned over 15 boxes of documents — including some marked as classified and "top secret" — to the National Archives. But federal investigators scrutinizing the former president's handling of records reportedly grew suspicious that Trump or people close to him still retained some key records. The FBI seized about a dozen boxes of additional documents during the raid of Mar-a-Lago, in a search that immediately demonstrated how Trump's handling of records from his administration remains an area of legal jeopardy.What's next: A federal judge in South Florida granted Trump's request for an outside arbiter — known as a special master — to review the more than 11,000 documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, including about 100 records marked as classified. Judge Aileen Cannon halted the review of those records as part of the Justice Department's criminal inquiry but said intelligence agencies could continue assessing the potential national security risk raised by Trump's hoarding of government records at his West Palm Beach estate. In response, the Justice Department said that bifurcation was unworkable and that Cannon's order had effectively paused the national security assessment.The Justice Department asked Cannon to exclude the 100 classified documents from the special master review. If she declines to do so by September 15, the Justice Department signaled that it would go to the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.Lawsuits against TrumpThe front page of the lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James accusing former President Donald Trump, his family and his business of a decade of padding his net worth to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in bank loans and tax breaks.Jon Elswick/APThe NY AG's civil filing against the Trump family and Trump OrganizationThe parties: New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued Trump, his family and the Trump Organization.The issues: James says she has uncovered a decade-long pattern of financial wrongdoing at Trump's multi-billion-dollar hotel and golf resort empire.She alleges Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in bank loans, and low-balled his properties' worth for tax breaks. Trump has derided the AG's efforts as a politically motivated witch hunt.The 220-page lawsuit arose from a three year investigation and makes multiple, corporation-crippling demands that would eventually be decided by a Manhattan judge.The demands include that the company pay back $250 million Trump allegedly pocketed by misleading banks about his worth. It further requests that Trump and his three eldest children — Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, who have all served as Trump Organization executives — be permanently barred from running a company in New York state.Th suit also demands that for the next five years, an independent receiver be put in place to monitor the company's finances and that Donald Trump be personally barred from purchasing property in New York or borrowing from a New York-registered bank over those same five years.Perhaps most extremely, it asks the judge to pull the Trump Organization's New York papers of incorporation. That's the charter that lets Trump draw revenue from his New York properties, including the lucrative commercial rents at his Manhattan skyscrapers. These hamstringing demands, if ordered by a judge, would run Trump's corporate headquarters out of New York. Trump would also be barred from selling, buying, collecting rent from or borrowing against any property in New York, potentially putting the Trump Organization out of business entirely. What's next:  Barring a settlement, next comes an "eye-glazing" litigation slog — legal filings, courtroom arguments, decisions and appeals — that could go on for two years before a trial can decide if anything material actually happens to the Trumps and the family business. But in announcing her office's lawsuit, the AG also revealed that she has referred her findings of alleged financial and tax fraud to federal prosecutors in New York and to the Internal Revenue Service.Either of those referrals could more quickly result in federal criminal charges and a bill for millions of dollars in back taxes and penalties.Supporters of then-President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DCBrent Stirton/Getty ImagesLawsuits alleging 'incitement' on January 6The Parties: House Democrats and two Capitol police officers accused Trump of inciting the violent mob on January 6.The Issues: Trump's lawyers have argued that his time as president grants him immunity that shields him from civil liability in connection with his January 6 address at the Ellipse, where he urged supporters to "fight like hell."A federal judge rejected Trump's bid to dismiss the civil lawsuits, ruling that his rhetoric on January 6 was "akin to telling an excited mob that corn-dealers starve the poor in front of the corn-dealer's home."Judge Amit Mehta said Trump later displayed a tacit agreement with the mob minutes after rioters breached the Capitol when he sent a tweet admonishing then-Vice President Mike Pence for lacking the "courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country."What's Next: Trump has appealed Mehta's ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and requested an oral argument. In a late July court filing, Trump's lawyers said the immunity afforded to the former president cannot be "undercut if the presidential act in question is unpopular among the judiciary."Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan on October 18, 2021 in New York City.James Devaney/GC ImagesGalicia v. TrumpThe Parties: Lead plaintiff Efrain Galicia and four other protesters of Mexican heritage have sued Trump, his security personnel, and his 2016 campaign in New York.The issues: They say Donald Trump sicced his security guards on their peaceful, legal protest outside Trump Tower in 2015. The plaintiffs had been demonstrating with parody "Make America Racist Again" campaign signs to protest Trump's speech announcing his first campaign for president, during which he accused Mexican immigrants of being "rapists" and drug dealers. Trump fixer-turned-critic Michael Cohen said in a deposition that Trump directly ordered security to "get rid of" the protesters; Trump said in his own deposition that he didn't even know a protest was going on until the next day. His security guards have said in depositions that they were responding to aggression by the protesters.What's next: Trial is set for jury selection on October 31 in NY Supreme Court in the Bronx.Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll is pictured in New York in 2020.Seth Wenig/APE. Jean Carroll v. TrumpThe Parties: Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll sued Trump for defamation in federal court in Manhattan in June 2019.The Issues: Carroll's lawsuit alleges Trump defamed her after she publicly accused him of raping her in a Bergdorf-Goodman dressing room in Manhattan in the mid-90s.Trump responded to Carroll's allegation by saying it was untrue and that she was "not my type." Trump also denied ever meeting Carroll, despite a photo to the contrary.What's next: Arrangements for the sharing of evidence are ongoing behind the scenes, including for the possible collection of Trump's DNA.Carroll has said she wants to compare Trump's DNA with unidentified male DNA on a dress she wore during the alleged rape. The trial is tentatively set for Feb. 6, 2023; Carroll has said she would never settle the case.Carroll's lawyers say they are also getting ready to additionally sue Trump for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.Although Carroll's allegations are more than 30 years old, a New York law that takes effect on November 24 — the Adult Survivors Act — gives sex assault victims a one-year window to file civil cases regardless of when the incident occurred, so long as they were 18 or older at the time.  Donald Trump, right, sits with his children, from left, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Trump International Hotel on July 23, 2014, in Washington.Evan Vucci/APThe 'multi-level marketing' pyramid scheme caseThe Parties: Lead plaintiff Catherine McKoy and three others sued Trump, his business, and his three eldest children, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, in 2018 in federal court in Manhattan.The Issues: Donald Trump is accused of promoting a scam multi-level marketing scheme on "The Celebrity Apprentice." The lawsuit alleges Trump pocketed $8.8 million from the scheme — but that they lost thousands of dollars. Trump's side has complained that the lawsuit is a politically motivated attack. What's Next: The parties say in court filings that they are working to meet an August 31 deadline for the completion of depositions. Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney, testifies before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill February 27, 2019 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesMichael Cohen's 'imprisonment' caseThe Parties: Trump fixer-turned-critic Michael Cohen sued Donald Trump, former Attorney General Bill Barr, and more than a dozen federal prison officials and employees, in federal court in Manhattan in 2021.The Issues: The president's former personal attorney is seeking $20 million in damages relating to the time he spent in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress about Trump's dealings in Congress. Cohen says in his suit that he had been moved to home confinement for three months in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, but was then vindictively thrown into solitary confinement when he refused to stop speaking to the press and writing a tell-all book about his former boss. A judge ordered him released after 16 days.What's Next: A decision is pending on defense motions to dismiss the case.Singer Eddy Grant performs in concert in honor of Nelson Mandela in Hyde Park, London June 27, 2008.Andrew Winning/ReutersThe Electric Avenue copyright caseThe Parties: Eddy Grant, the composer/performer behind the 80s disco-reggae mega-hit "Electric Avenue," sued Donald Trump and his campaign in federal court in Manhattan in 2020.The Issues: Grant is seeking $300,000 compensation for copyright infringement. His suit says that Trump made unauthorized use of the 1983 dance floor staple during the 2020 campaign. About 40 seconds of the song played in the background of a Biden-bashing animation that Trump posted to his Twitter account. The animation was viewed 13 million times before being taken down a month later. Trump has countered that the animation was political satire and so exempt from copyright infringement claims. He's also said that the campaign merely reposted the animation and have no idea where it came from.What's Next: There was an August 21 deposition completion deadline for both sides — including for Trump and Grant. Pretrial motions are not due to be filed until October.Mary Trump speaks to Katie Phang on MSNBC on June 17, 2022.MSNBCMary Trump v. Donald TrumpThe Parties: The former president's niece sued him and his siblings in 2020 in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan.The Issues: Mary Trump alleges that she was cheated out of at least $10 million in a 2001 court settlement over the estate of her late father, Fred Trump, Sr. Mary Trump alleges she only learned by helping with a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times article that she'd been defrauded by her Uncle Donald, her aunt, Maryanne Trump Barry, and the late Robert Trump, whose estate is named as a defendant.The Times' 18-month investigation "revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges," the Pulitzer Committee said in praising the piece. Lawyers for the Trumps have countered that it's far too late for Mary Trump to sue over a 2001 settlement that she had knowingly participated in.What's next: The defendants' motion to dismiss, including on statute of limitations grounds, is still pending.Lawsuits brought by Trump Donald Trump v. Mary Trump The Parties: The former president counter-sued his niece Mary Trump — and the New York Times — in 2021 in New York state Supreme Court in Dutchess County.The Issues: Mary Trump, the Times and three of its reporters  "maliciously conspired" against him, Trump alleges, by collaborating with the Times on its expose of and breaching the confidentiality of the family's 2001 settlement of the estate of Mary Trump's father, Fred Trump, Sr. What's Next: Mary Trump's motion to dismiss is pending in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, where the case has since been transferred to.Hillary Clinton.Photo by: Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty ImagesDonald Trump v. Hillary ClintonThe Parties: Trump has sued Hillary Clinton, her campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and prominent Democrats including former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in a federal court in southern Florida in March, 2022.The Issues:  Trump alleged in this unusual use of federal racketeering statutes that Clinton and her campaign staff conspired to harm his 2016 run for president by promoting a "contrived Trump-Russia link." The defendants succeeded in getting the massive lawsuit dismissed in September; a federal judge in Florida said the suit was structurally flawed and called it "a two-hundred-page political manifesto" in which Trump detailed "his grievances against those that have opposed him."What's Next: Trump's side has promised to appeal the dismissal.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 23rd, 2022

The New Truss Trickle-Down Economic Plan Won"t Work, But Might Boost Markets

The New Truss Trickle-Down Economic Plan Won't Work, But Might Boost Markets Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com, “I am sick and tired of trickle-down economics. It has never worked.” The new Truss/Kwarteng grand plan to create a UK High Growth High Wage economy boils down to trickle-down economics, which simply don’t work. They won’t restore the economy, but they may, perversely, boost markets. Global markets look pants. It is little wonder markets are stalled, stocks wobbly, bonds beaten, and entrepreneurial spirits crushed. Yet again the outlook looks incredibly bleak: Europe struggling with high inflation and a self-inflicted energy crisis, the UK struggling with just about everything, and the US on course for deepening recession. As someone once said… “when all around panic, look for the opportunities!” That might just be a tad premature call – today, the Fed will hike rates. Tomorrow, so will the Bank of England. They will be big ones. The current Cake of Crisis is a multi-layered monstrosity. At the bottom is inflation and how to address it – the only option being higher rates are nailed on to increase the economic misery. The filling is inflationary consequences – a rich mix of wage-inflation, rising social tensions and growing industrial unrest. The next layer is the war in Ukraine – how much economic pain will European citizens bear in order to contain the ravenous Russian bear. And on the top, proverbial icing on the cake, we have politics; in the US is the populist treacle of Trump’s Republicans vs anyone and everything, Europe trying to deal with Italy and Hungary, while in the UK we have Liz Truss telling us she’s prepared to be unpopular. Unfortunately, she doesn’t look likely to be But, but, and but again…. Just when its darkest, and all that. There will definitely be investment opportunities.. and soon.. But, maybe just not yet. The strangest, but least beneficial opportunity, is likely to occur here in the UK – and we will have Liz Truss to thank. I am a rational market strategist, therefore I will resist the temptation to start the morning with a completely over-the-top rant about just how awful the grand economic and growth plans of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng are likely to prove. The plans are regressive, and are unlikely to succeed. Let me explain why. Liz and Kwasi have apparently spent the last month working on an economic growth package, and are set to announce them on Friday. I could call bollchocks on the festering midden of recessive tax-give-aways and blatant electioneering we’re likely to be granted on Friday – but I will remain polite and calm. I could call her claim that it’s a holistic plan for growth as codswallop and bunkum, but I shall refrain. Let me start by casting doubt on whether it really is a seriously considered “grand plan”. Its an election package of handouts to create a brief economic bloom.  If Truss and Kwarteng really had spent the last month cloistered in serious “economic discussions and planning”, then we would know all about them. Historically, Liz Truss has leaked like a sieve with a massive hole in the middle. If her and her chancellor has been putting together the ultimate growth plan – it would have been all over the papers like a bad rash weeks ago. More likely the pair of them come up with the “plan” over a bottle of Downing Street plonk late last week… That could have happened after she and Kwasi read innumerable articles and research saying the lack of any competent plan for the UK was a crisis point. It became abundantly clear the strategy she successfully pursued through the Tory leadership campaign of channelling Margaret Thatcher – while avoiding her default look of pathetically staring into the headlights of economic disaster – was unlikely to work for her in office, unless she had a plan.. And Kwasi is very good at plans, and telling people how good his plans are. The plan is simple. Massive handouts and tax cuts. Early Election writ large across it. I am keen to know who has advised them on this plan. Dr Gerald Lyons and Prof Patrick Minford (a monetarist who was used to scare young economists like me back in the 1980s) are in the frame. As Kwarteng’s first act in his new job was to sack the Head of Treasury – who from government was advising them? Sir Tom Scholar was sacked because of his “treasury orthodoxy”. Did he have the temerity to stand in the way of the new policies and thinking snap election plan? Or because he might just have called out the new plans as ill-considered? Even through the Royal Funeral, Truss was under increasing attack from economists and analysts, keen to hear how she intended to deal with the looming crisis. The lack of any joined-up plan, and the time it’s taken to reveal it strongly suggests it’s been cobbled together from whatever ideas her and her advisors have thrown into the pot. Unless she delivers something solid and complete, it’s going to further erode confidence in the UK political economy, the currency and bond market – the Virtuous Sovereign Trinity of successful growth economies. So… what is the plan? Full details on Friday, but of course they have already been leaked by the Truss camp… The plan is simple – pick a bunch of headline generating noisy ideas and back them with some empty bluster about how they will create growth and wealth. Start with some free ice-cream today in the form of tax-cuts, argue it will take a couple of years for these to work through the economy, make lots of noise about how we have to stick with them, and hope they are convincing enough to scrape through at the next election – sometime soon I expect. Let’s start with the key corner-stone policy of the Truss Growth Plan: a quick sop to the global banks and a finger up the nose at Europe by increasing banker bonuses! Yay.. lots of richer bankers pushing up prices in London, and more banks setting up shop here rather than not setting up in Frankfurt. Yes, it’s good for banks. It’s pretty pointless for the economy – being completely London centric, (so much for levelling up). But, the big but, it is being sold as a Brexit Benefit by Kwarteng to the frothing-at-the-mouth Brexiteers who gave Truss the job. Brexit is apparently done, so why does it still dominate every action of the government? To avert a housing crash, they also intend to kick-start the stalled top-end of the housing market, and maybe get rich folk piling into the UK to buy homes, spend money and build high value business… At which point Kwasi pipes up.. “Spot on, cutting stamp duty is a prerequisite to everyone getting high-value jobs in our high-growth economy by attracting inward investment..” or some such bollchocks. And then announce a series of income tax, VAT and national insurance cuts which again will benefit the wealthy. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has calculated the tax cuts Liz Truss has announced will make the poorest three million households in the UK better off by 63 pence per month. No problem – they don’t vote Tory. Basically.. Truss’ plan is to generate growth through the time-honoured mechanism of trickle-down. Simply put – if you allow the wealthy to pay less tax, and retain more of their wealth, then they will spend it on making everyone better off by creating jobs, industry and commercial opportunities.. Bollchocks. I don’t want to burst her bubble… but…. Yesterday President Biden of the US made a revealing comment on Twitter: “I am sick and tired of trickle-down economics. It has never worked. We’re building an economy from the bottom out and middle up.” He was mercilessly attacked by the American right – who passionately believe its wealthy entrepreneurs who will save society from the plague of left-wing interventions. They have a point – America is a mess. But, I still believe Biden is right, and Truss is wrong. There is proof. For the last 12 years – incidentally how long the Conservatives have been managing the UK economy – we’ve been involved with the biggest experiment in Trickle Down economics ever. Quantitative Easing was originally sold to the economic commentariat as a mechanism to boost economic growth by forcing money into the real economy. By buying back Gilts from the market, the idea was investors would then have to put their money into the real economy, supporting growth. The effect was to pull down the real-risk-free rate in the economy – making money cheap – forcing investors to take more risk by investing in growth to garner returns. That was the theory, the same theory than underlines trickle down – that if you give the wealthy more money, they will invest it in growth. They did not. They invested all their money in financial assets! Instead of investing in job and wealth creating new factories and businesses, they bought bonds and stocks, fuelling the massive rally of the monetarily distorted 2010-2020 period, and creating a massive widening in wealth inequality – the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Exactly the same thing is going to happen under the Tories tax and benefits give away – the Fiscal Event on Friday. Money to the rich. The bulk of the policies she proposes are regressive and will merely give those with money to burn, more money to spend – which they will do by making themselves richer, buying more stocks and houses, while the poor get poorer. It will ultimately resolve nothing about the economy, levelling up or create wealth and jobs. This is not a rant on behalf of the Labour Party – I might even join the liberals – but just a simple warning about what history shows will happen as a result of the regressive tax, stamp duty and bonus policies the new Truss government thinks will bailout Britain. Perversely, it’s the reason the UK markets are going to remain distorted, and thus look more attractive than the underlying economic reality. Being courageous in UK politics is taken to mean doing the right thing, even though its highly likely to end your political career. In contrast, Liz Truss is being pragmatic – doing something she hope will preserve hers… Tyler Durden Wed, 09/21/2022 - 07:21.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 21st, 2022

Pilger: Silencing The Lambs - How Propaganda Works

Pilger: Silencing The Lambs - How Propaganda Works Authored by John Pilger via ConsortiumNews.com, In the 1970s, I met one of Hitler’s leading propagandists, Leni Riefenstahl, whose epic films glorified the Nazis. We happened to be staying at the same lodge in Kenya, where she was on a photography assignment, having escaped the fate of other friends of the Fuhrer. She told me that the “patriotic messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above” but on what she called the “submissive void” of the German public. Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? I asked.  “Yes, especially them,” she said.  I think of this as I look around at the propaganda now consuming Western societies.  Of course, we are very different from Germany in the 1930s. We live in information societies. We are globalists. We have never been more aware, more in touch, better connected.  Leni Riefenstahl, center, filming with two assistants, 1936. (Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons) Or do we in the West live in a Media Society where brainwashing is insidious and relentless, and perception is filtered according to the needs and lies of state and corporate power?  The United States dominates the Western world’s media. All but one of the top 10 media companies are based in North America. The internet and social media – Google, Twitter, Facebook – are mostly American owned and controlled. In my lifetime, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, mostly democracies. It has interfered in democratic elections in 30 countries. It has dropped bombs on the people of 30 countries, most of them poor and defenceless. It has attempted to murder the leaders of 50 countries.  It has fought to suppress liberation movements in 20 countries.  The extent and scale of this carnage is largely unreported, unrecognised, and those responsible continue to dominate Anglo-American political life. Harold Pinter Broke the Silence In the years before he died in 2008, the playwright Harold Pinter made two extraordinary speeches, which broke a silence. “U.S. foreign policy,” he said, is “best defined as follows: kiss my arse or I’ll kick your head in. It is as simple and as crude as that. What is interesting about it is that it’s so incredibly successful. It possesses the structures of disinformation, use of rhetoric, distortion of language, which are very persuasive, but are actually a pack of lies. It is very successful propaganda. They have the money, they have the technology, they have all the means to get away with it, and they do.” In accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature, Pinter said this:  “The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.” Pinter was a friend of mine and possibly the last great political sage – that is, before dissenting politics were gentrified. I asked him if the “hypnosis” he referred to was the “submissive void” described by Leni Riefenstahl.  “It’s the same,” he replied. “It means the brainwashing is so thorough we are programmed to swallow a pack of lies. If we don’t recognise propaganda, we may accept it as normal and believe it. That’s the submissive void.” Leni Riefenstahl and a camera crew stand in front of Hitler’s car during 1934 rally in Nuremberg. (Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons) In our systems of corporate democracy, war is an economic necessity, the perfect marriage of public subsidy and private profit: socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor. The day after 9/11 the stock prices of the war industry soared. More bloodshed was coming, which is great for business. Today, the most profitable wars have their own brand. They are called “forever wars” — Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and now Ukraine. All are based on a pack of lies. Iraq is the most infamous, with its weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. NATO’s destruction of Libya in 2011 was justified by a massacre in Benghazi that didn’t happen. Afghanistan was a convenient revenge war for 9/11, which had nothing to do with the people of Afghanistan.  Today, the news from Afghanistan is how evil the Taliban are —not that U.S. President Joe Biden’s theft of $7 billion of the country’s bank reserves is causing widespread suffering. Recently, National Public Radio in Washington devoted two hours to Afghanistan — and 30 seconds to its starving people. At its summit in Madrid in June, NATO, which is controlled by the United States, adopted a strategy document that militarises the European continent, and escalates the prospect of war with Russia and China. It proposes “multi domain warfighting against nuclear-armed peer-competitor.” In other words, nuclear war. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Spain’s Prime Minster Pedro Sánchez on June 28 in Madrid. (NATO) It says: “NATO’s enlargement has been an historic success.”  I read that in disbelief.  The news from the war in Ukraine is mostly not news, but a one-sided litany of jingoism, distortion, omission.  I have reported a number of wars and have never known such blanket propaganda.  In February, Russia invaded Ukraine as a response to almost eight years of killing and criminal destruction in the Russian-speaking region of Donbass on their border.  In 2014, the United States had sponsored a coup in Kiev that got rid of Ukraine’s democratically elected, Russian-friendly president and installed a successor whom the Americans made clear was their man.  Dec. 7, 2015: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv, Flickr) In recent years, American “defender” missiles have been installed in eastern Europe, Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, almost certainly aimed at Russia, accompanied by false assurances all the way back to James Baker’s “promise” to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in February 1990 that NATO would never expand beyond Germany.  NATO on Hitler’s Borderline Ukraine is the frontline. NATO has effectively reached the very borderland through which Hitler’s army stormed in 1941, leaving more than 23 million dead in the Soviet Union.  Last December, Russia proposed a far-reaching security plan for Europe. This was dismissed, derided or suppressed in the Western media. Who read its step-by-step proposals? On Feb. 24, President Volodymyr Zelensky threatened to develop nuclear weapons unless America armed and protected Ukraine.   On the same day, Russia invaded — an unprovoked act of congenital infamy, according to the Western media. The history, the lies, the peace proposals, the solemn agreements on Donbass at Minsk counted for nothing. On April 25, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin flew into Kiev and confirmed that America’s aim was to destroy the Russian Federation — the word he used was “weaken.” America had got the war it wanted, waged by an American bankrolled and armed proxy and expendable pawn. Almost none of this was explained to Western audiences. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is wanton and inexcusable. It is a crime to invade a sovereign country. There are no “buts” — except one. When did the present war in Ukraine begin and who started it? According to the United Nations, between 2014 and this year, some 14,000 people have been killed in the Kiev regime’s civil war on the Donbass. Many of the attacks were carried out by neo-Nazis.  Watch an ITV news report from May 2014, by the veteran reporter James Mates, who is shelled, along with civilians in the city of Mariupol, by Ukraine’s Azov (neo-Nazi) battalion. In the same month, dozens of Russian-speaking people were burned alive or suffocated in a trade union building in Odessa besieged by fascist thugs, the followers of the Nazi collaborator and anti-Semitic fanatic Stepan Bandera.  The New York Times called the thugs “nationalists.” “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment,” said Andreiy Biletsky, founder of the Azov Battaltion, “is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival, a crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.” Since February, a campaign of self-appointed “news monitors” (mostly funded by the Americans and British with links to governments) have sought to maintain the absurdity that Ukraine’s neo-Nazis don’t exist.  Airbrushing, once associated with Stalin’s purges, has become a tool of mainstream journalism. In less than a decade, a “good” China has been airbrushed and a “bad” China has replaced it: from the world’s workshop to a budding new Satan.   Much of this propaganda originates in the U.S., and is transmitted through proxies and “think-tanks,” such as the notorious Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the voice of the arms industry, and by journalists such as Peter Hartcher of The Sydney Morning Herald, who has labeled those spreading Chinese influence as “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows” and suggested these “pests” be “eradicated.”  Andriy Beletsky, commanding officer of the special Ukrainian neo-Nazi police regiment Azov, with volunteers in 2014. (My News24, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons) News about China in the West is almost entirely about the threat from Beijing. Airbrushed are the 400 American military bases that surround most of China, an armed necklace that reaches from Australia to the Pacific and south east Asia, Japan and Korea. The Japanese island of Okinawa and the Korean island of Jeju are like loaded guns aimed point blank at the industrial heart of China. A Pentagon official described this as a “noose.” Palestine has been misreported for as long as I can remember. To the BBC, there is the “conflict” of “two narratives.” The longest, most brutal, lawless military occupation in modern times is unmentionable.  The stricken people of Yemen barely exist. They are media unpeople.  While the Saudis rain down their American cluster bombs with British advisers working alongside the Saudi targeting officers, more than half a million children face starvation. This brainwashing by omission is not new. The slaughter of the First World War was suppressed by reporters who were given knighthoods for their compliance.  In 1917, the editor of The Manchester Guardian, C.P. Scott, confided to Prime Minister Lloyd George: “If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow, but they don’t know and can’t know.” The refusal to see people and events as those in other countries see them is a media virus in the West, as debilitating as Covid.  It is as if we see the world through a one-way mirror, in which “we” are moral and benign and “they” are not. It is a profoundly imperial view. The history that is a living presence in China and Russia is rarely explained and rarely understood. Vladimir Putin is Adolf Hitler. Xi Jinping is Fu Man Chu. Epic achievements, such as the eradication of abject poverty in China, are barely known. How perverse and squalid this is. When will we allow ourselves to understand? Training journalists factory style is not the answer. Neither is the wondrous digital tool, which is a means, not an end, like the one-finger typewriter and the linotype machine. In recent years, some of the best journalists have been eased out of the mainstream. “Defenestrated” is the word used. The spaces once open to mavericks, to journalists who went against the grain, truth-tellers, have closed.   Julian Assange in 2014. (David G Silvers, Wikimedia Commons) The case of Julian Assange is the most shocking.  When Julian and WikiLeaks could win readers and prizes for The Guardian, The New York Times and other self-important “papers of record,” he was celebrated.  When the dark state objected and demanded the destruction of hard drives and the assassination of Julian’s character, he was made a public enemy. Vice President Joe Biden compared him to a “hi-tech terrorist.” Hillary Clinton asked, “Can’t we just drone this guy?”  The ensuing campaign of abuse and vilification against Julian Assange — the U.N. rapporteur on torture called it “mobbing” — brought the liberal press to its lowest ebb. We know who they are. I think of them as collaborators: as Vichy journalists.  When will real journalists stand up? An inspirational samizdat  already exists on the internet: Consortium News, founded by the great reporter Robert Parry, Max Blumenthal’s  The Grayzone, Mint Press News, Media Lens, DeclassifiedUK, Alborada, Electronic Intifada, WSWS, ZNet, ICH, CounterPunch, Independent Australia, the work of Chris Hedges, Patrick Lawrence, Jonathan Cook, Diana Johnstone, Caitlin Johnstone and others who will forgive me for not mentioning them here.  And when will writers stand up, as they did against the rise of fascism in the 1930s? When will film-makers stand up, as they did against the Cold War in the 1940s? When will satirists stand up, as they did a generation ago?  Having soaked for 82 years in a deep bath of righteousness that is the official version of the last world war, isn’t it time those who are meant to keep the record straight declared their independence and decoded the propaganda? The urgency is greater than ever. *  *  * John Pilger has twice won Britain’s highest award for journalism and has been International Reporter of the Year, News Reporter of the Year and Descriptive Writer of the Year. He has made 61 documentary films and has won an Emmy, a BAFTA and the Royal Television Society prize. His ‘Cambodia Year Zero’ is named as one of the ten most important films of the 20th century. He can be contacted at www.johnpilger.com The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of ZeroHedge or Consortium News. Tyler Durden Sun, 09/11/2022 - 23:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 12th, 2022

Retiring At 35 (Without Giving Up Everything)

There are certain things that I would never give up. I’m talking about things like a delicious In-N-Out burger or my Netflix subscription. Okay, maybe I would give up Netflix. I mean, something’s gotta be up with the streaming service if it lost almost a million subscribers in the second quarter of 2022. However, when […] There are certain things that I would never give up. I’m talking about things like a delicious In-N-Out burger or my Netflix subscription. Okay, maybe I would give up Netflix. I mean, something’s gotta be up with the streaming service if it lost almost a million subscribers in the second quarter of 2022. However, when it comes to financial independence, you often hear people say that you have to give up certain things. And this is especially true if you’re trying to retire early. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   After all, these are the same people saving something like 97% of their income. Obviously, that means it’s not in their budget to spend money on going out to eat or streaming services. But what if I told you that you can still retire early, specifically in your 30s, without sacrificing everything? While it may sound too good to be true, it’s definitely possible with a bit of patience and dedication. Be clear about your future plans - and stick to them Your first step? Establishing an honest estimate of your needs. But how exactly can you figure out how big your nest egg should be? Well, you need to take into the following three factors. Longevity. News flash. We’re living longer. As of 2022, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 79.05 years. As such, if you’re planning on retiring at 35, you need to make sure that you can stretch your income for the next 35 years. Lifestyle. The next step is determining the lifestyle you would like to enjoy after leaving your job. To start, ask yourself the following questions after age 30: Would you still be interested in pursuing your hobbies and passions? Are you planning to travel, buy the latest gadgets, take classes, or do you think you’d like to do all these things? How much mortgage or rent are you willing to pay, and what kind of insurance protection do you want? Obviously, depending on your lifestyle vision, you will need to save a certain amount of money. The actual numbers. By the time you retire, Citizens Bank and Fidelity recommend saving 10 to 12 times your annual income. In other words, earning $100,000 per year, you should set aside $1 million to $1.2 million for retirement. However, your withdrawal rate may determine your goal number. Using your target withdrawal rate as a guide, divide your retirement spending by your yearly retirement spending. For example, if you plan to spend $40,000 after taxes every year and withdraw 2%, you would need $2 million ($40,000/.02) to retire. Obviously, inflation needs to be adjusted annually to the number you come up with. Creating a pre-retirement and post-retirement budget makes sense. A budget before retirement will keep you on track to reach your savings goal. But, a budget after retirement can help prevent you from running out of cash. Regarding budgeting, I suggest organizing it by needs and wants. Groceries, for instance, are essential. But, a delicious burger every week is a need. And although it may also be more necessary than desirable, make sure you have an emergency fund. Make a lifestyle change Controlling your expenses is the key to making changes, Steve Adcock, who achieved financial independence by 35 told me. “That means it’s like never going out to eat or very rarely. I think we gave ourselves like 50 bucks a month or something to go out to eat. I love going out to eat,” he adds. “For me, that was like the biggest, I guess, drawback or negative or sacrifice, or however you want to call it, to this whole business of retiring early.” “But we tracked our expenses so closely, that for a couple of years, we could have told you how much we spent on sweet potatoes, every single year.” Not just that, but everything else as well. It is not necessary to be as detailed as that. “But I would say that’s probably not required for everybody.” “What is required is knowing where you’re spending money,” Steve continues. Why? “Because it is impossible to cut your expenses if you have no idea where your money’s going anyway. How to keep your spending in check. The first step is so difficult, Steve warns. “Because you have to go through your credit card statements and bank statements and just understand where the heck your money is going.” Maybe you pay $150 a month for cable TV that you never watch. “But if you don’t check that bill and understand where that money is, you have no idea that you’re spending it because it’s all automated,” he says. The money is just taken out of your bank account without you thinking about it. “So those things are tough, it’s a tough habit, a tough pattern to get into.” “Once you do start making that progress, that snowball begins to build and becomes bigger, bigger and bigger,” says Steve. “And it becomes easier for you to realize what’s an expense that’s legitimate or what might be an expense that you can certainly cut out.” “For us, the majority of what we spent on, were expenses that we can cut out,” he adds. “We kept our gym membership because that was healthy.” Dining out cost us about $50 a month. Our biggest expenditures were food and our mortgage, of course. In addition, we didn’t spend much on magazines or cable TV. “We kept the internet for obvious reasons, but we really streamlined for those few years.” This allowed Steve and his wife to save a lot of money. Maximize your savings While saving is important, you’re not going to become rich simply by saving money. “Ordering water instead of soda or beer at restaurants might save you a few hundred dollars over the course of a year,” Steve wrote for CNBC. “But let’s face it: A few hundred bucks isn’t life-changing money,” he adds. “If ordering water were the Easy button to achieving early retirement, we’d all be retired and sipping margaritas in paradise.” The concept of compound interest doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, he adds. “Early retirement is enabled by household wealth. How much money you have, rather than how much you save.” “It is true that saving money does not lead to wealth,” states Steve. “That said, there’s nothing wrong with saving some cash by changing up the spending habits you developed over the years.” It’s great to save money. And, it can help. “It’s just not the secret sauce to early retirement.” “Wealth comes from a very different source: Investments,” Steve explains. But, how exactly can you maximize your savings? Give the following a try: Participate in your employer’s 401(k) match Contribute as much as you can to your 401(k) Consider money market and CD savings accounts that offer high-interest rates Don’t miss out on cashback opportunities Streamline your savings with automation While you are still employed, try to negotiate a raise Utilize credits and deductions to reduce your taxable income Increase your savings rate on a regular basis Save every dollar you earn from your second job or passive income Instead of beating the market, participate in it Speaking of investing, most FIRE followers opt for index funds over riskier, more volatile investments such as stocks or cryptocurrencies, notes CNBC. Generally, index funds are baskets of different stocks that aim to mimic the performance of a major stock index, such as the S&P 500. And, if you weren’t aware, is based on the market capitalization of 500 major U.S. companies. “The best advice I have is the conventional wisdom in the financial independence community is that it’s better to participate in the market than to try to beat it,” says Ed Ditto of Early Retirement Dude. “And one of the best ways to do that is to buy low-cost index funds. You’ll find that the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF is the darling of the FIRE set.” With index funds, you have access to stocks from a variety of industries. Because of this, investing in an index fund, which gives you a lot of diversification, puts you at less risk. The value of stocks from one industry might fall, but gains in another might offset it. In the 50-year period from 1970 to 2020, the S&P 500 has averaged 10.83% annual returns, according to Investopedia. The returns vary from year to year, depending on whether it’s a bull or bear market. It’s also not guaranteed that past performance will repeat itself. How to play the investing game. A trading platform like Vanguard, E*TRADE, or TD Ameritrade is an excellent way to get started investing. Unlike other trading platforms, these platforms don’t charge commissions for executing trades. Fees are charged by these platforms for the money you invest in funds, known as expense ratios. A passively managed fund has lower expense ratios than an actively managed one. In most cases, the expense ratio is expressed as a percentage. For every $1,000 you invest in a fund that charges a 0.15% expense ratio, you’ll pay $1.50. A robo-advisor, like Wealthfront, Betterment, or Charles Schwab, might be a smart place to start when building your investment portfolio. The goal of robot advisors is to get an understanding of your finances and future goals and then invest accordingly. Account fees are typically charged on top of fund expense ratios by robo-advisors. Don’t ignore the fine print when investing, so you know how much you’re paying. In addition to index funds, some FIRE followers invest in other asset classes that require a greater level of experience and knowledge. “As time goes along, and as your portfolio starts to build, you owe it to yourself to take new risks,” Kiersten Saunders of rich & REGULAR. “I think what people find when they get online is they start to see all of the hype and the buzz around crypto, NFTs, real estate, these types of asset classes that are either very risky or have high barriers to entry.” Go where it’s cheap I’m gonna be brutally honest. Unless you’ve inherited an insane amount of money or won the lottery, it’s going to be impossible to retire early and live in an expensive city. I’m talking about San Fran, NYC, Honolulu, or D.C. Instead, you’re probably gonna have to relocate. For example, Steve moved out to the Arizona desert. People who retired early, such as Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung, also relocated to a more affordable location. “We were spending nearly $3,000 a month on rent, and that was considered a good deal,” Scott Rieckens, who lived in Coronado, Calif., a beach resort across the bay from San Diego, told the New York Times. “We made something like $160,000 between the two of us, but we didn’t have a whole lot left over.” Rieckens became enthused after listening to an interview with Pete Adeney, aka Mr. Money Mustache, who The New Yorker called “the Frugal Guru” (he retired at 30). It was time for Reickens and his wife to ditch their leased BMW and stop eating out several nights a week. It’s all about “arbitrage” In spite of those lifestyle cuts, the couple couldn’t substantially increase their savings rate. Why? Because they have to move to a cheaper neighborhood. FYI, this is a deleveraging technique known as “arbitrage.” According to Adeney, the idea is “to reap the high salary” in a place such as Silicon Valley, “then take that nest egg out to any of the thousands of nice, affordable cities and towns we have in this country and begin the second stage of life on your own terms.” “I never paid attention to the finances. I thought it will all work out,” said Rieckens. “After I had a baby, I had stress around how I could spend more time with her. I was almost a slave to my job because of the way we were living.” After moving to Bend, Ore., in 2017, Rieckens and his family were able to buy a house since the state sales tax does not exist there. While Mr. Rieckens often rides his bike around town, gas for their used Honda CRV with 186,000 miles is a dollar-per-gallon cheaper than in San Diego. Savings require enough income Some people are able to retire early without making as many sacrifices as others. For example, someone might find great satisfaction riding a bike instead of driving a car to save money. But, a trade-off like this might not be possible for someone else. It’s a given that you have to earn enough money to retire early. As such, make sure your income covers your basics, and then save and invest a chunk of it for retirement. Everyone can’t do this. Having frugal habits won’t make up for not earning enough money to save aggressively for early retirement. If you aren’t earning enough to retire comfortably, then find ways to boost your income beyond your typical 9-to-5 job. According to the IRS, this type of work is called “material participation,” which means any work you do on a “regular, continuous and substantial basis.” Material participation is determined by several factors, such as working over 500 hours on a project or job. In retirement, however, you would like to focus on something else. The only option left is passive income generation. In terms of both asset allocation and income generated, make sure your portfolio’s fixed-income portion is adequate. Assets that generate passive income include: Annuity plans Dividends from securities P2P lending Rental Properties Passive income can even come from side hustles like blogging or self-publishing an ebook. Remember, personal finance is personal. Although I like some of the Fire Movement’s ideas, I think people need to realize that personal finance is, well, personal. In other words, do whatever works best for you. And, for some, that doesn’t mean saving 70% of your income. It’s more important for me to know if you think saving 10%, 5%, and getting that free match is enough. I’ve seen people nearing retirement and having the biggest regret of wishing they had started earlier or saved more. It’s something I’ve heard countless times. Perhaps it isn’t 70%. But it must be more than five or 10% unless you just love the work and want to work until you’re 65. There is a possibility that you have a pension, but it is less likely. After all, today, fewer than one-third (31%) of Americans retire with defined benefit pensions. And, putting all your trust in social security is a bad idea. In short, make it happen for yourself by taking control. Commit to your retirement plan but enjoy life too. “You can’t live your life in a way where it feels like a sacrifice, because that’s just not going to work,” says Steve. “Nobody likes to live that way.” “And what I like to do, is I like to encourage people to think of money as a representation of time,” he adds. “And this is especially true if you have a goal of early retirement.” Suppose you want to retire at 40 or 50. Are you willing to spend that much time on that new car? “If you want a $50,000 car, depending on how much you make in salary, is that worth working another year, working in another two years, so you can afford to buy that car?” Steve asks. “If you think that it’s worth it, if you do, if you’re okay with working longer in order to fund your lifestyle, that’s fine.” That’s perfectly fine. It’s just a matter of choosing. “And that’s effectively how we got up to 70%, “ he says. “Because for me, I wanted to retire early, so bad that nothing, nothing was worth the extra time, for the most part.” Except for the gym and occasional restaurant trips. For Steve, there were exceptions, such as the gym or occasional restaurant trip. “And I think we had Netflix that we were paying for at the time.” The big expenses, however, weren’t worth it for Steve and his wife. “It wasn’t worth working longer.” Frequently Asked Questions Is it possible for you to retire early? This question can be difficult to answer if you haven’t decided where you’ll live or how you’ll spend your retirement. The ideal situation is for you to either replace your current income or have sufficient savings to cover your current lifestyle or essentials. If you have other retirement goals, your current budget may need to be adjusted. For example, maybe you never considered moving. But, to reach your goal of retiring early, you might have to move. You should also consider all of the “what if” scenarios possible. After determining your long-term spending goals, you’ll be able to determine how many additional working years and savings could affect them. How much money do I need to retire early? There are a number of factors that influence an individual’s retirement income. Retirement age, monthly expenses, Social Security benefits, and life expectancy are taken into account. ‌To ensure a comfortable retirement, you should consult a financial advisor. How is Social Security impacted by early retirement? “Workers planning for their retirement should be aware that retirement benefits depend on age at retirement,” notes the Social Security Administration. “If a worker begins receiving benefits before his/her normal (or full) retirement age, the worker will receive a reduced benefit. A worker can choose to retire as early as age 62, but doing so may result in a reduction of as much as 30 percent.” “Starting to receive benefits after normal retirement age may result in larger benefits,” explains the SSA. “With delayed retirement credits, a person can receive his or her largest benefit by retiring at age 70.” For each month before the normal retirement age, you lose 5/9 of one percent of your benefit. When the number of months over 36 is exceeded, the benefit is reduced by 5/12 of one percent per month. “For example, if the number of reduction months is 60 (the maximum number for retirement at 62 when normal retirement age is 67), then the benefit is reduced by 30 percent,” adds the SSA. “This maximum reduction is calculated as 36 months times 5/9 of 1 percent plus 24 months times 5/12 of 1 percent.” When can I make penalty-free 401(k) withdrawals? You can usually withdraw funds from your 401(k) after age 59 1/2 without incurring penalties. You are required to take the required minimum distributions by the time you turn 72 (or 70 1/2 if you were born before July 1, 1949). In the event of later retirement, you must take the required minimum distributions by April of the following year. What are the drawbacks to early retirement? Early retirement carries a lot of financial risks unless you have plenty of savings or multiple income sources. In fact, for some, early retirement can bankrupt your dreams before of the following: Retirement often lasts longer than planned. There may be a temptation to take social security benefits before the age of 70 when benefits peak. You’re missing out on the power of compounding interest. You’ll be in medical coverage limbo without a plan from an employer. Or, until you’re eligible for Medicare at 65. Did you know that the average American has $90,460 in debt? Credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, and student loans all fall under consumer debt making early retirement a challenge. You have less flexibility without a recurring income. And, it may be difficult to reenter the workforce. Your savings may be insufficient. Plus, you may succumb to lifestyle creep or deal with market downturns. Retirement comes with feelings or boredom and isolation. Article by Jeff Rose, Due About The Author Jeff Rose is an Iraqi Combat Veteran and founder of Good Financial Cents. He teaches people wealth hacking. He is a frequent on CNBC, Forbes, Nasdaq and many other publications. He is author of the book "Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your Money and Invest in your Future" where he teaches how he escaped from $20,000 in credit card debt to a life of wealth......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkSep 6th, 2022

14 recent discoveries that have changed the way we think about dinosaurs

From what color they were to how fast a T rex walks, here are 14 things we learned about dinosaurs from recent studies. An artist's reconstruction of a Mussaurus patagonicus nest.Jorge Gonzalez Dinosaurs died 66 million years ago but scientists are still learning more about them. A slew of recent papers has provided new clues about their lives and behavior.  Here are 14 discoveries about dinosaurs to emerge in the last few years.  Paleontologists are still discovering new information about dinosaurs, even 66 million years after they were wiped out.Here are 14 things that we've learned through a slew of recent reports shedding new light on their biology, their lives, and the world around them.Tyrannosaurus rexes walked about as fast as humans did.A T. rex is seen at a screening of the "Jurassic World: Dominion" prologue.Universal StudiosT. rexes preferred a leisurely pace most of the time, strolling around at about 3 mph, according to a study published in 2021.Scientists built a 3D computer model to understand the ideal "resonance" of the T. rex bodies.Every animal has an ideal resonance, meaning the walking speed at which they can move their body forward most comfortably while spending the least energy. "Many animals have a roughly similar preferred walking speeds," between 2.2 and 3.1 mph, Pasha van Bijlert, an author on the study, told Insider at the time.If the study calculation are correct, T. rex would have been no exception. "Humans and T. rex would not, if the study is right, have had very different walking speeds," John Hutchinson, an evolutionary biomechanics expert at the Royal Veterinary College in London who was not involved in the research, told Insider at the time. T. rexes could go faster, but at a big risk.A T. Rex skeleton at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.Antonio Perez /Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty ImagesThat doesn't mean the dinosaurs could not outrun a human: scientists think they could speed up their walk, hitting peak speeds of about 25 mph, Insider previously reported.That's much faster than the average human's running speed.But any strut above 12 mph and the tons-heavy predators would risk shattering their bones, a 2017 study found.  Early dinosaurs laid soft-shelled eggs — a discovery that shattered our understanding of their evolution.The clutch of fossilized Protoceratops eggs and embryos examined in this study was discovered in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia at Ukhaa Tolgod.M. Ellison/©AMNHBecause birds and crocodiles lay hard-shelled eggs, paleontologists had assumed their ancestors did too. But a 2020 analysis of egg fossils found in the Gobi desert upended that theory. It revealed the eggs, from a 75-million-year-old, sheep-sized herbivore called Protoceratops, were likely soft-shelled, like those of turtles, lizards, and snakes. That may why it has been difficult to find eggs from some species of dinosaurs."We have all these other animals, but we don't have any eggs. It's bizarre," Mark Norell, lead author of the study, told Insider at the time. "My guess is they were all laying soft-shelled eggs."As many as 2.5 billion T. rexes may have roamed the Earth.An artist's depiction of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex.Julius T. CsotonyiAs many as 2.5 billion T. rexes may have lived in total, a 2021 study estimated. The study looked at the average size of a T. rexes' territory — about 40 miles — how much they would have eaten, and the other resources they needed over the 2.5 million years they existed. The scientists estimated that as many as 20,000 adult T. rexes were alive at any one time. Fossilized dinosaur nests provided a peek into the animals' social life.An artist's reconstruction of a Mussaurus patagonicus nest.Jorge GonzalezAccording to a 2021 study, fossils of 100 eggs and 80 skeletons were found at one site in Patagonia, suggesting these dinosaurs, of the Mussaurus patagonicus species, may have lived in a herd. A fossilized egg of Mussaurus patagonicus that's 192 million years old, found in southern Patagonia, Argentina.Roger SmithThe eggs were clustered by groups of 8 or 30, close enough to suggest this may have been a breeding ground. Nest with eggs of Mussaurus patagonicus dated to 192 million years ago, found in southern Patagonia, Argentina.Diego PolRemains of juveniles and adults were also found at the site. "I went to this site aiming to find at least one nice dinosaur skeleton. We ended up with 80 skeletons and more than 100 eggs (some with embryos preserved inside!)" Diego Pol, a researcher with the Egidio Feruglio paleontology museum in Patagonia and the lead author of the new study, told Insider via email. A baby T. rex was small and fuzzy and the size of a large turkey.A T rex hatchling.R. Peterson / © AMNHAccording to a 2019 exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, called "T. rex: The Ultimate Predator," hatchlings were surprisingly vulnerable. They had a 60% chance of dying within their first year of life, and were only the size of a turkey. They had an incredible growth spurt, gaining up to 1,700 pounds per year until they reached full adult size at age 20.  T. rexes were not the only 'armless' dinosaursBrendon Thorne/Getty ImagesThere is no end to memes about the T. rexes' tiny arms.Compared to their giant, razor-teeth-filled heads, their forearms look comically small.Scientists have long wondered why T. rexes' arms were so small.Some have suggested it's simply that the arms fell out of use, so natural selection made them smaller and smaller over time. But a series of discoveries have come to challenge this idea.  Another big, meat-eating dinosaur had tiny arms.Meraxes gigas.Jorge A. GonzalesA 2022 study described the skeleton of a new species of carcadontosaurs called Meraxes gigas. Like a T. rex, it had an enormous head and was very big: about 36 ft long.   Meraxes gigas.Carlos PapolioAnd like the T. rex, it had tiny little arms. The surprise was that this animal died 20 million years before the T. rex. So the tiny arms evolved independently.  Three types of dinosaurs evolved independently to have tiny armsThe bones found at the dig for Meraxes gigas are shown in white.Canale and colleagues, Current Biology (2022)Paleontologists have known since the late 2000s that another branch of the dinosaur family, the abelisaurs, were also "armless.""This is a real repeated pattern among giant carnivores: They are shrinking the arms down," said Dave Hone, a paleontologist from Queen Mary University in London who was not involved in the paper, speaking to Insider at the time. "Once is a novelty. Twice is: huh! Third time? Okay, this is happening again and again," said Hone.    That means the arms likely had a function. What it was, however, remains a mystery.Juan Ignocio Canales stands next to a reconstruction of Meraxes Gigas' skull bones.Courtesy of Juan Ignacio CanalesThat three huge carnivorous with tiny heads could have evolved independently to have tiny little arms probably means they had an evolutionary purpose. Scientists have put forward many ideas for their use.Some have suggested that the arms were used to help grasp a mate during sex, or to counterbalance their massive heads during attacks.Others said that perhaps the arms helped the predator rise from a fall, or to topple triceratopses over during hunting (this is called the "cow-tipping" hypothesis). Hone is doubtful about any of them. "I'm all in favor of the possibility of a mechanical function in these reduced arms. But I want a reason that stands up to even 10 seconds of thought and scrutiny and I've yet to see one," he said at the time.An incredibly rich fossil site was found in the US, and became guarded fiercely.A meteor impact 66 million years ago generated a tsunami-like wave in an inland sea that killed and buried fish, mammals, insects and a dinosaur.Graphic courtesy of Robert DePalmaThe site, nicknamed "Tanis" after the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant in the 1981 film "Raiders of the Lost Ark," was highlighted in a 2022 BBC documentary that showed its fossils of incredible quality.Tanis, in North Dakota, has yielded some amazing fossils.    The skin of a triceratops, perfectly preserved in this fossil found at the Tanis site, is being filmed by the BBC documentary crew.BBC Studios/Eric BurgeThese include triceratops skin, pictured above, and a Thescelosaurus leg, seen in a video here. Spherules are seen in sediment.BBC Studios/Ali ParesTiny glass-like particles of molten rock were found lodged in the gills of fish fossils found at the site. The scientists that study the site have said these were kicked up in the sky following the impact of the 7.5 mile-wide meteorite that hit the earth 66 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs. But the discovery has been shrouded in mystery.Tanis dig-leader Robert De Palma talks with a colleague.BBC / Tom TraiesKate Wong, science editor of Scientific American, said in a 2019 tweet that the findings from the site "have met with a good deal of skepticism from the paleontology community."According to a 2019 New Yorker article about the site, the owner of the fossils had an inremarkable academic career until the discovery of the site.Robert DePalma, a relative of cinematographer Brian de Palma, insisted on contractual clauses that give him oversight over the specimens.He has submitted very few academic papers about his findings, limiting the scrutiny other scientists can give to the findings.  A newly-discovered species of dinosaur was the first with a peculiar 'war club' tailA model of the stegouros in Santiago, Chile, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.(AP Photo/Esteban Felix)Results of a dig in southernmost Chile, published in 2021 revealed a new type of dinosaur with a tail "unlike any dinosaur."The 6.5-ft-long dinosaur, named Stegouros, had a tail "resembling an Aztec war club, with seven pairs of blades lining the tail."It would have supposedly used the tail to fight off predators.This cute dinosaur was brown and science can prove it.The skeleton of a Psittacosaurus dinosaur at the Grand Palais Museum in ParisReutersA 2016 study using cutting-edge technology was able to recreate the actual color of this dinosaur, called Psittacosaurus, meaning "parrot lizard."This was the third time scientists were able to figure out the color of a dinosaur from melanosomes, bits of cells that make the component that color the skin, like melanin in humans. Using this technology, scientists think this 120 million-year-old dinosaur, which has a parrot beak and was about 5 ft. long with a bushy tail, was mainly brown with a slightly lighter underbelly, per Reuters.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 4th, 2022

The 10 best new books to read in August, according to Amazon editors

The best books released this month include a laugh-out-loud debut and a "pure candy" mystery novel, according to Amazon's editors. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.The best books released this month include a laugh-out-loud debut and a "pure candy" mystery novel, according to Amazon's editors.Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/Insider Amazon's book editors round up the best new releases every month. August's picks range from a "knock-out" memoir to a laugh-out-loud funny debut. For other book recommendations, check out their best books of 2022 so far here.  If you're looking for a book to tear through in the last sweltering month of summer, Amazon's editors just issued their August shortlist.The best new books of the month include a laugh-out-loud debut, a spy novel that's "pure candy," a new book from Beth Macy of "Dopesick" fame, and a gutting new memoir that's both "a chronicle of the American Dream and an indictment of it."For more book recommendations, check out the best beach reads of the year. You'll find the best new books this August, according to Amazon's book editors, below.The 10 best new books of August 2022, according to Amazon's book editors:Descriptions are provided by Amazon and lightly edited for clarity and length."Acceptance: A Memoir" by Emi NietfieldAmazonAvailable at Amazon, $24.30This memoir is a knock-out — and will not only keep you turning the pages as you root for Emi Nietfeld who didn't have it easy as a kid, but will change the way you think about the voices we listen to and the voices we don't, and the paradox of what help is acceptable to ask for. In some ways, it feels so unsatisfyingly trite to explain that "Acceptance" is about a young brilliant girl who, because of her hoarding, mentally unstable, and manipulative mother, is thrown into psych wards and foster care for her teenage years. Left to deal with eating disorders, cutting, addiction, and homelessness, it's too easy to say that no adult trusts Emi to rise from her trauma, let alone to go to an Ivy League school. But it's true, and her account of her lone fight — for education, for her dreams — is gutting and alive. This is one of the best memoirs I've read this year. — Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor "Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America's Overdose Crisis" by Beth MacyAmazonAvailable at Amazon, $26.99In "Raising Lazarus," an excellent follow-up to her Hulu-adapted "Dopesick," Beth Macy compels us not to look away from those who are suffering in the opioid epidemic. Her philosophy is reflected in the book's title, a biblical story about challenging yourself to get uncomfortably close to death in order to witness the miracle of life. But our society rejects this idea, assigning shame and stigma to addiction — and soon the equivalent population of Houston will be dead from opioids. Macy weaves incredible tales of heroic volunteers meeting troubled drug users where they are. She offers a new language to challenge the contempt around drug use — "bupe," "opioid use disorder"— which she argues is a human condition that cannot be eradicated. There's no magic wand, and no political party is off the hook. Macy shines by bringing statistics to life with illuminating personal stories, and you'll leave this book feeling sobered and perhaps inspired by this moment, a "historical opportunity to radically rethink addiction care." — Lindsay Powers, Amazon Editor "Dirt Creek" by Hayley ScrivenorAmazonAvailable at Amazon, $25.19The premise of "Dirt Creek" is tried and true: it's the story of the disappearance of a 12-year-old child and the aftermath. But Scrivenor does a remarkable job of pulling this simple premise apart and rebuilding it in a heart-wrenching, realistic, and breathlessly suspenseful way, with particularly effective use of setting and multiple narrators. In a rural town as small as Durton, everyone knows everyone else and it's almost impossible to keep a secret, therefore it's unfathomable that a local could be responsible for Esther's abduction and death. As rumor and gossip take hold, the town doesn't quite come together so much as give way to an ugly new reality. Narration duties are divided between several people, including Esther's best friend Ronnie (sad), a detective on the case (skeptical), and even a Greek chorus of the town's children (heartbreaking). All of it adds up to a cracker of a tale: tough to look at up close, impossible to look away. — Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editor  "My Government Means to Kill Me" by Rasheed NewsonAmazonAvailable at Amazon, $27.99Laugh-out-loud moments give way to galvanizing moments in this un-put-down-able debut by Rasheed Newson. Set in the 1980s, "My Government Means to Kill Me" follows the trajectory of a young Black man who ditches his wealthy Midwest family to go be free and uninhibited in New York. When not spending time in men's bathhouses, he gets an education in the Civil Rights movement, community organizing, and the fight for gay rights, among other things. Newson, the writer and producer behind "Narcos," "The Chi," and "Bel-Air," lends his cinematic eye to his novel, which makes the grit, the sex, the activism, and the political struggle all the more atmospheric and immersive. In short, I've never been prouder of an 18-year-old narrator who leads us through the New York City streets, and compels not just his friends and network to action, but the reader too. — Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor "How to Kill Your Family" by Bella MackieAmazonAvailable at Amazon, $27As titles go, you'd be hard pressed to find one as provocative, or apt, as "How to Kill Your Family." Grace is sitting in a prison cell, recounting why she killed her family (her dad, a rich heir, refused the wishes of her poor dying mum to get involved in Grace's life) and listing the much more entertaining hows (locations including, but not limited to, a steam room in Monaco, a mountain road in Marbella, and a sex club in London's East End). But the standout moments in this darkly hilarious novel are those spent inside Grace's head as she moves with deadly and detached efficiency through her to-do (or, more accurately, to-kill) list of awful family members. Her running commentary (on everything from prep work for killing someone, the class divide, unsolicited penis pics, wearing cords, and influencers) is sharp as a tack and spit-out-your-coffee comical. This twisted, darkly funny thriller will fill the "Dexter"-shaped hole in your heart. — Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editor"Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure" by Rinker BuckAmazonAvailable at Amazon, $26.99Seven years ago, Rinker Buck published "The Oregon Trail," in which he traced the celebrated journey that brought so many Americans west. Now he's following a different path: the trip down the mighty Ohio and Mississippi Rivers on flatboats (think: Mark Twain). While this journey occupied the generation or two that came before the height of the Oregon Trail, it's been lost a bit to the whims of history. Still, flatboats traveling from Pittsburgh to New Orleans did as much, maybe more, to define our cultural and economic heritage as the journey west did. And, of course, Rinker Buck builds his own flatboat and takes the trip himself. History tends to take on a glossy sheen when it's in the rearview mirror, but Buck's adventure illustrates how much messier it is in the making. Part travelogue, part history, part human nature study, this is a book that you just want to keep reading. — Chris Schluep, Amazon Editor"Mika in Real Life" by Emiko JeanAmazonAvailable at Amazon, $19.59Emiko Jean is the bestselling author of witty young adult rom-coms "Tokyo Ever After" and "Tokyo Dreaming," and while her first adult novel, "Mika in Real Life," has rom-com vibes, this is a book with real heft. When Mika was a freshman in college, she got pregnant and gave her daughter up for adoption. 16 years later, Mika's daughter finds her, and what follows is a story of motherhood, forgiveness, and fresh starts. Mika's catharsis became my own, as she realizes that her expectation of how a "good" mother should be is the stuff of fairytales. The relationship between mother and child is complicated pretty much from birth, and whether you are a mother, the child, or both, it's two sides of the same coin where perfection is a fantasy. Jean gives us authentic characters, a lot of laughs, and a chance to see our own relationships — with our mothers, our children, and ourselves — in a new and refreshing light. — Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor"The Last White Man" by Mohsin HamidBookshopAvailable at Amazon, $18.20Expansive and eye-opening, Mohsin Hamid's novels confront issues of race, class, and migration with a dash of magic and genuine inquisition. In "Exit West," lovers fled the violence that surrounded them by stepping through doors that quite literally opened to safety somewhere else. In his latest, "The Last White Man," Hamid dissects the state of race by exploring a world in which people wake up with different colored skin, and thus, are treated differently by their neighbors, the media, their partners, and their family. Throughout this slim love story, the question of identity lurks everywhere, as white people become brown and the world changes around them. With cool steadiness, Hamid's tale is a reminder that we, as individuals and as a society, have invented racism. This is a book you can read in one sitting, but I promise you, it will stick with you longer after that. — Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor"Thank You for Listening" by Julia WhelanAmazonAvailable at Amazon, $14.39Julie Whelan, the much-loved, real-life audiobook narrator, is back with her second book, "Thank You for Listening." I'm not sure I trust anyone else to tell this funny and heartwarming story centered around Sewanee, an award-winning audiobook narrator who loves her job, as long as it doesn't include one specific genre, romance. But soon Sewanee receives a request from a popular author in that genre, who she has collaborated with in the past, to do one last project. And the thing is, this was the author's dying wish and it pays handsomely, making it hard to say no. The project is also a collaboration with audiobook royalty — the sexy, yet mysterious male narrator beloved by romance fans, yet new and unknown to Sewanee. Complex relationships with her beloved grandmother, stubborn dad, and wistful best friend, compounded with Sewanee's unresolved feelings about the accident that took her away from her original career — acting — adds texture to the story. And Sewanee's wit and banter as she deals with the complexity of life makes this a delightful read. — Kami Tei, Amazon Editorial Contributor"Alias Emma" by Ava GlassAmazonAvailable at Amazon, $24.30Alias Emma is pure candy for those of us who love a good spy story — this is a novel you'll struggle to put down. Expertly paced, readers ride a wave of action at breakneck speed in this modern twist on an old-school Cold War thriller. Emma Makepeace is a lower-level Secret Service agent when she's tapped to convince a Russian target, a handsome doctor named Michael Primalov, to enter what amounts to a witness protection program. The Russians want him desperately and will go to great lengths to get him, but Emma is on this rescue mission alone. Undercover operatives, shootouts, high-speed car chases, and some romantic tension follow, as Emma navigates the city of London with Primalov in tow. Makepeace is a welcome new face in the fictional world of British secret agents and what she lacks in luxury sports cars and high-tech gadgets, she makes up for with grit and courage. The first of a planned new series, I can't wait to see where Emma's next assignment takes her. — Seira Wilson, Amazon EditorRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 8th, 2022

Transcript: Antti Ilmanen

      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Antti Ilmanen, Co-Head, Portfolio Solutions, AQR, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ ANNOUNCER: This is Masters… Read More The post Transcript: Antti Ilmanen appeared first on The Big Picture.       The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Antti Ilmanen, Co-Head, Portfolio Solutions, AQR, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. BARRY RITHOLTZ; HOST; MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have an extra special guest, Antti Ilmanen is AQR’s Co-head of the Portfolio Solutions Group. He is the author of a new book, “Investing Amid Low Expected Returns: Making the Most When the Markets Offer the Least.” He has an incredible CV full of all sorts of awards and has worked at all sorts of places like Salomon Brothers and Brevan Howard before ending up at AQR. If you’re at all interested in value investing, factor investing, understanding how your starting condition leads to future returns that might be better or worse than historical averages, you’re going to find this to absolutely be a master class in investing. I found it absolutely fascinating and I think you will as well. With no further ado, my conversation with AQR’s Antti Ilmanen. Welcome to Bloomberg. ANTTI ILMANEN. CO-HEAD, AQR’S PORTFOLIO SOLUTIONS GROUP: Thanks, Barry. I’m really looking forward to this. RITHOLTZ: Same here. So, first, I found the book to be quite fascinating, very in depth and you managed to take some of the more technical arcana and make it very understandable. We’ll circle back with that. Let’s start just by talking about your career. You began as a central bank portfolio manager in Finland. ILMANEN: Yes. My really first stroke of luck, I think, was getting that job. Before that, I had been nerdy kid with interesting esoteric things like royal family trees or track and field statistic trading. And when I was studying in university economics, I did not really get the passion. The passion came when I went to invest the country’s foreign exchange reserves there and it was very much global government bond markets. So, thinking about macro picture. And then nor later I had, I don’t know, much interest then on single stock picking. So, thinking about the big picture. And there were some lovely, lovely things like I was there in October ’87 crash. I saw two-year yields falling in one overnight from 9.5% to 7.5%. You don’t see those movements anymore. RITHOLTZ: That’s a giant move. Yes. Absolutely. ILMANEN: Yes. Anyway, so that was a great learning experience. And then my second related stroke of luck was that Professor Ken French came there. RITHOLTZ: Really? Dartmouth, ILMANEN: Yes. He came to educate us in 1989 and teach us what we were doing, what we should be doing and I was just an enthusiastic kid there. Well, by that time, I was already almost 28 then. And he — when I was expressing some interest about studying in the U.S., he was saying, you should do it soon. He said, you’re old enough to do that. And a few months later, I was in the U.S. and it was so lucky in my life because there I met then Cliff Asness and John Liew who later founded AQR. So, as my fellow students, I met my wife there. She was MBA student from Germany and would have left a few months later. RITHOLTZ: University of Chicago? ILMANEN: University of Chicago. So, all of these lucks sort of was related to my wonderful first jobs. RITHOLTZ: Right. And Gene Fama teaches there and his research partner is Ken French. ILMANEN: Yes. Yes. Both Cliff — actually, all three, Cliff, John and I’m, we had Fama and French as our dissertation chairman and that’s a small source of pride. RITHOLTZ: Right. Little intimidating. So, you go from Chicago, is that how you ended up at Salomon Brothers? ILMANEN: Yes. So, that relationship actually already started when I was a portfolio manager, right? Finally, in a faction (ph) like one of these. Michael Lewis’ Liar’s Poker’s good guys was one of my sales contacts there. RITHOLTZ: Really? ILMANEN: Yes. Yes. He didn’t have many good guys with one of us. Anyway, so — and I got to know people like Marty Leibowitz before I went to Chicago and I think he helped — he may have again had a hand somewhere there. And so, when I finished my studies, it was pretty clear that I wasn’t sort of up academic enough. I wanted to go to either buy side or sell side. I even talked to GSAM somewhere, Cliff and John were, didn’t go there. I sort of thought from my ’80s experience that buy side is dusty. Wrong choice. Anyway, I then went to Salomon Brothers, did laundry search for a couple of years and yield curve strategies then moved to Europe, that was always a deal with my wife, to be a bond strategist at Salomon for many years. Initially, very discretionary but gradually becoming more and more systematic and eventually returned from this customer-oriented role to prop trading for a while. RITHOLTZ: And then how did you end up with Brevan Howard. ILMANEN: Yes. So, I think that from these times when I was strategist, I was talking to my — to great people like earlier on some LTCM and then various other people, including Allan who came actually from Salomon. And so, somewhere, all three sort of invited me to try to be a mini-Cliff, a very systematic trader with a small team there at Brevan Howard which was in some sense great but it is sort of misfit because it’s a very discretionary place. RITHOLTZ: Right. ILMANEN: And so, trying to do systematic in that environment was harder and I think none of us were doing extremely well, none of us were doing extremely badly. But it just didn’t become a great success. RITHOLTZ: Just not a great fit. ILMANEN: Yes. Yes. Yes. But it was — on the other hand, it was just a great place, well, first to try it but the second thing is when 2008 came along, it was one of the few places that we’re making money. So, it was very comfortable vantage point for that environment. RITHOLTZ: How did you go from being a Mini-Cliff Asness to maxi-Cliff Asness? ILMANEN: Yes. So, I had stopped that systematic trading. What I had been talking with those guys often of possibly joining. It was a matter also of them opening Europe office because that’s where I was physically. And so, that was approaching. It also helped that I was — I basically decided to write this book “Expected Returns” and when I wrote it, they asked Cliff to write the foreword for it. And by the way, like if you check sometime the first word he has there, like it was — I was sweating when I read that and it’s that by telling that, first time I met Antti, I thought he was insane and I was right. So, that was a little stressful but it turns out very nice. But anyway, so that experience reminded, I think, both of us how aligned our thinking is based on this common background and that somehow, I think, motivated them to offer and me to say yes to the idea of joining them. Really, what I would think is getting to my natural home and that happened in 2011. ! So, you’ve been there for more than a decade. You’re now cohead of portfolio solutions. What is that role like? What you — what’s your day-to-day work like at AQR Capital? ILMANEN: Yes. So, the Portfolio Solutions Group advises mainly institutional clients on all kinds of challenges that they have and thinking about the expected returns, portfolio construction, risk management, et cetera. And then in addition, we write lots of papers. I speak in many conferences. And then in addition to that, I’ve had a hand in designing and improving some of our strategies especially related Style Premia that was something I was quite passionate about when I joined. And by now, I’m co-head, the guy who has collaborated very closely with me, Dan Villalon, has taken more and more over the day-to-day running of the thing and I took time to write the second book recently and now I’m talking about it. And I think with my age, I’m happy to sort of move to part-time status, I think. RITHOLTZ: So, in the book, Cliff Asness, again, does the introduction and he says, you overshare a great characteristic for someone in research but he sometimes says he’s afraid you’re going to reveal the secret sauce. What — explain oversharing of financial research. ILMANEN: Yes. So, this is — this is related to all of us having this University of Chicago experience where we were really taught the value of being open and putting your research out there for public scrutiny to improve it then to educate. But, of course, there are possible downsides to that and that has been always a question. So, I’m not and we are not writing about all the proprietary strategies that we have but we are talking quite openly about some things like, again, style factor investing, alternative risk premia, things that are relatively widely known and I have this — I don’t know, yes, I’m sort of leaning that was of being too transparent than the — and then somebody may have to control me a little. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s just talk a little bit about two of the key themes in the book. The first is alpha, it’s the holy grail but also elusive and costly. Explain. ILMANEN: Alpha is something we all aspire for but in reality, the evidence is very limited that most investors can deliver alpha. Moreover, there’s a lot of is good resource by others who send us showing that much what people think is alpha, can be explained by either hedge funds running — RITHOLTZ: (Inaudible). ILMANEN: Lots of equity correlation. RITHOLTZ: Right. ILMANEN: More than correlation to these various styles that are not quite market beta but it’s certainly not pure alpha either. So, somehow, this type of demystifying, I think, is helpful. But it’s clear that investors tend to be managers and investors tend to be overconfident in their ability to find that elusive alpha. RITHOLTZ: So, I’m glad you brought that up because there’s another bullet points in the last chapter of the book which strikes me — let me read it, quote, “Discipline, humility and patience as a key to investing success.” That sounds more like behavioral finance than factor investing. ILMANEN: Yes. Yes. So, one other founder, David Kabiller, he’s always had this very good point that good investment results require good investment strategies and good investors. And so, we wrote the paper together almost a decade ago on bad habits and good practice and really thinking about those. Certainly, it does definitely get to behavioral advices. In general, I think behavioral finance literature focuses way too much on how you can exploit other people’s mistakes as opposed to looking into mirror and reducing your own mistakes. RITHOLTZ: Really quite interesting. So, let’s talk a little bit about some of the concepts about expected returns. You mentioned in the beginning of the book lower asset yields and richer asset prices have pulled forward future returns. In other words, a lot of the gains we’ve seen in the 2010s, and I would guess ’21 and ’22, weren’t so much based on that multiple end of earnings but future multiples that were pulled forward into that time period. Explain that. ILMANEN: It’s always good to think of starting yields and valuation sort of two sides of the same coin. So, starting yields of all major assets were coming down in the last decade and last decade — actually, several decades. So, something that I try to make investors see that they naturally think of this way also of expected returns with bonus. But when they think of equities or housing, they sort of look at the rearview mirror and think historical various returns. That can be distorted by this returning (ph) or cheapening quite a lot. So, I think it’s helpful to think that all of these long-owned investments are priced by thinking of expected cash flows discounted by a common discount rate, riskless part, and some various asset specific premia. And now, when this common discount rate has been at all-time lows and was coming down for decades. So, that was making everything expensive at the same time whatever happened to the expected cash flows and other premia. And so, that situation has gotten us to this sort of everything bubble some say and I think it’s — bubble is a bit wrong word there in the sense that there is a fundamental story behind it. The low real years that were influencing all kinds of investments. RITHOLTZ: It makes a lot of sense. You wrote this book in 2021 or at least finished it in 2021 and you described in the book what you see as an, quote, “investment winter ahead.” I have to say that seems pretty pressing considering since you handed the book in to be published last year. Markets have pretty much done nothing but roll over and head south in 2022. Was this just lucky timing or were you little pressing in? ILMANEN: I’ll put it largely to lucky timing. So, the story I was always saying that we know that we got these low expected returns give those slow starting yields and by the way, related to what you’re saying, I really like another statement. We borrowed returns from the future — RITHOLTZ: Right. ILMANEN: — when we were — when we are capitalizing everything at those expensive levels. RITHOLTZ: Makes sense. ILMANEN: And so, that’s locked in low future returns, we just didn’t know whether that’s going to materialize through slow pain staying in this slow expected return world or fast pain cheapening. And so, then in the book, I was saying that I don’t really have a strong view on this one. But in conclusions, I did put there that it just seems that stars are aligning for some fast pain and it wasn’t just high valuations but there was a catalyst. There was this — basically, the inflation problem was seemingly getting as close to the day when Fed finally has to make some hard choices. And so, that I got right but I would say that I was really lucky because I could have written in six months earlier. And in general, I’ve had other market timing calls. I’m not famous for being good at marketing. I don’t know anybody who is. There are no old gold market timers for most billionaire list. RITHOLTZ: Right. There’s old and there’s old but there’s not both. Let’s talk a little bit about the pushback to low expected returns. Following the financial crisis and the Fed cutting rates, economy and the market starts recovering in late 2009 and then 2010 and we kept hearing from a lot of different value corners, hey, everything is richly priced. Bonds are the most expensive. They’ve been in 30 years. Stocks are pricey. Lower your return expectations. But yet, the 2010s, so, returns and equities and bonds close to double historical averages. How do we explain why that advice took so long before it started to work? ILMANEN: So, I think there is a fair risk that we — anybody who was talking like that is thought that’s the boy who cried wolf and losing credibility then by this time. And I think that would be sad because I think sometimes, it’s going to really work and this year really looks like it can be — can be that sometime. And I felt always somewhat good that we were — at least we were not pushing for — we were not predicting mean reverting valuations that would have made things worse. RITHOLTZ: Right. ILMANEN: We were saying let’s be really humble about any market timing use of this stuff but low starting yields do anchor expected returns lower. But it’s true that — and what we saw then in that decade that rich things can get richer and that’s going to take quite a long time. And so, actually, my favorite quote is to think about what happened to S&P 500, the Shiller PE that went from mildly above historical average 20 to double and widely above average 40 in 10 years’ time and that type of thing gives you, well, basically seven percent annual returns prorated then. And so, that’s the key reason. And something similar happened, real yields and bonds were already low. There were even lower rental yields on equities, credit spreads, anything you look at had basically tailwinds from these falling years and that re-pricing then gave high returns and that — there’s a danger that people then look at the rearview mirror and become complacent just at the wrong time. RITHOLTZ: Right. So, let’s talk a little bit about that. How significant was the ultralow rates of the Federal Reserve to making all of these different asset classes richly valued and continuing to generate strong returns right up until the Fed started raising rates? ILMANEN: So, I think — so short term, what happened this year was really there was a catalyst of inflation and Fed tightening but the long-term story was always about valuations. And the important thing, as I said, is related to this common part low real yields. And should we blame Fed for that or should we blame somehow greedy investors? I’d buy more the stories that there was this fundamental effects, most important probably savings but excess savings coming from pension savers, also another story that when the wealthy were getting a bigger share of the pie, their savings rates are higher. There are research on both transmits which explained why we’ve gotten this exceptional savings glut which was then pushing all assets yields lower and creating this. And Fed and investors were basically then responding to that situation rather than driving it. RITHOLTZ: Now, we heard a lot about the savings plot from then Chairman Ben Bernanke in the early 2000s. Is this savings glut qualitatively different than what we saw two decades ago? ILMANEN: Yes. It’s the same idea. So, always when you think of real yields, you think of, okay, there’s some — there’s either an issue with investments or savings and it’s a balance between those two. And he was highlighting that there probably is more coming from the saving side and then he was emphasizing that this is China and often emerging market foreign reserves. Those types of excess savings were sort of the culprit for the conundrum in 2005 or whatever it was. And I think that story still has some legs but sort of the key culprit then became demographics and retirement savers and the latest story now is in the sort of the one percent. RITHOLTZ: So, the flipside of that, if there’s a savings glut, meaning big uptick in demand for that paper, does that also suggest we have a dearth of high-quality sovereign paper of bonds issued by countries like the U.S. or the UK or is it just whatever the existing supply of paper is what it is and it’s the demand that has spiked? ILMANEN: Yes. I think that demand has been driving things and, well, the supply has been there. Like there’s been plenty of supply as well to cater for it and really given the need for that to cover the public deficits that’s owned. But again, I think if one thinks of what sort of started this among fundamental forces, I choose to go with that savings glut. That’s my best reading of the literature. RITHOLTZ: Makes some sense. So, you wrote the prior book a decade ago, 2011 the “Expected Returns.” In the decade between that book and this book, what have we all learned, what has the markets taught us, and how did you work that into the new book? ILMANEN: Well, I like the — I like the basic framework still in the book but I think certainly, it was a terrible decade for all kinds of contrarian strategies and I have become even more humble. It’s sort of funny that I wrote my dissertation 40 years ago on duration timing and I talked about all kinds of market. I mean, every decade, I become more humbled about the endeavor and yet, even as I told like in the — at the end of this latest book, I’m still mentioning stars are aligning and it might be. So, the temptation is there but I think we — the main point I want to say is I think what we should really try to think of investing as a strategic effort, good diversification as opposed to some great technical timing course (ph) that doesn’t do well. So, I think that would be — and partly relearned through the difficulty of contrarian timing strategies. Then another thing which was very important in this decade was there was a growing interest in these diversifying return sources. But I think by now, the most popular one is related to illiquid investments whereas my favorites were then and are still now more liquid strategies, barrier style premia value investing trend following and so on and so. RITHOLTZ: So, one of the interesting things you talked about in the book is that we continue to find more data not just the decade of data that went by but historical data or old data going back to the 1800s. I have to ask, where is this — do we call it ancient? Where is this 19th century data coming from and how can you apply it to investing in the 21st century? ILMANEN: Yes. So, the first point is that we accrue out of sample new experience so slowly that it’s sort of painful to do that waiting and therefore, it is helpful supplementary source to get some old data source. Most early studies were done with data since 1960s to ’90s and then it was extended to beginning of CRSP data, 1926. And now, we’ve had people going further back and I am — so I haven’t been one of those in the archives but I’m one of those looking at that data and studying it critically and seeing what we can learn from there mainly whether you get similar patterns. I do love it when I find that some strategies have worked persistently over different centuries pervasively across different countries and asset classes and robust with different specification. So, that makes me more confident. But I do — I have recognized and that’s something I say in the book as well that when people see my 100 and 200 years of data there, some would just roll their eyes and — RITHOLTZ: Why is that? ILMANEN: Why do — why do I care about 200 years of data? I really cared about last three years with my old portfolio. RITHOLTZ: Well, obviously, that’s a very specific samples that you want to go way beyond that but it raises — people rolling their eyes, raise the question, how reliable is that data, how accurate is it, can we have confidence that it’s been cleanly assembled? Because the technology of the 1800s little more manual than today. ILMANEN: All fair. So, I would just — I’ll just say, well, first, I’ll say you just do the best you can. RITHOLTZ: Sure. ILMANEN: And I think — so, there’s some value in that data but the — there are data problems, there are investability questions even if the data we’re finding maybe liquid and do foreign diversification or something like that. Actually, before first — well, maybe you could, that was pretty international era. And then there’s whole criticism that the world has structurally changed and that criticism has more bite the further back you go. So, I think for all these reasons, we should be skeptical but I still like it as a supplementary evidence not as main motivation for anything. RITHOLTZ: So, you mentioned diversification earlier. In the last section of the book, you write an ode to diversification. Tell us about that. ILMANEN: Sure. I do think — it’s a cliché but diversification is pretty close to a free lunch and it is a wonderful, wonderful aid to improving portfolios. I think it’s much easier to improve your risk-adjusted returns through good risk diversification than by getting somehow greater insights in one particular strategy. And so, I write about it both — I do know, the simple maths about it how you can double shop ratios for uncorrelated strategies and then remind that it’s really difficult to find for uncorrelated strategies in long-only world. You may have to get to long-short world to take advantage of those types of opportunities. And then the flipside of that, I am saying that diversification has got some critics of the diversification order or that diversification phase when most needed. And so, when I think — I can counter those to some extent. But I think there are challenges. Good risk diversification often then requires you to use some shorting and leverage and there are limits to how much people want to do that. There’s unconventionality issues and then there’s this what we’ve highlighted in recent years that you sort of inherent, you lack stories. And so, it’s very sort of, I don’t know, math oriented or algebra-oriented type of thing as opposed to great stories which drive most investment passions. RITHOLTZ: Right. Right. That makes a lot of sense. You mentioned free lunch. You talked about rebalancing arguably another free lunch. Tell us your thoughts on rebalancing. ILMANEN: Yes. So, rebalancing, I think, is a way of ensuring that you can retain your risk targets and you can retain your diversification. So, I think of it primary years that there’s a follow-up question whether you can get better returns and then how you do it and so on and I talk a little. I think I wouldn’t be too strict on rebalancing. I think like one good idea is to be somewhat lazy with rebalancing strategy. RITHOLTZ: So, that means one year? ILMANEN: Yes. Something like that or maybe four times a year but part of the portfolio. RITHOLTZ: Right. ILMANEN: So, you’re sort of averaging. You don’t get so dependent on when you did it during the year. RITHOLTZ: Right. ILMANEN: So, that type of thing. But basically, if you are a little lazy or patient with rebalancing, let the near-term momentum play out then you might get closer to the time when there’s mean reversion advantages. So, you’re trying to play a little bit disadvantages that tend to be in the financial markets with momentum and mean reversion. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about low expected returns. We already talked about the impacts on Fed rates. What else goes into driving valuation factors that can lower future expected returns? ILMANEN: It really depends on what horizon we talk about. So, monetary policy macro conditions are very important for short term but I think I’d like to focus and I do focus in the book mainly on long-term expected returns. And then it is — RITHOLTZ: Long term being three, five, seven years? ILMANEN: Five to 10 years, something like that. And, yes, it’s interesting, if you go even further then sort of valuations even don’t matter. So, everything gets diluted. RITHOLTZ: Right ILMANEN: And then you have to think about what some theoretical long-term return. But sort of for 10 years ahead then starting yields and valuations are essential and again — so, I think those are very helpful anchor for thinking about those returns even though you can get these very ugly forecasters like what happened in the last decade. But when such a thing happens, then it pretty much stores problem for the future. So, last decade, as its reach on its adjustment, you’re going to have even more problems in those future returns. And I think the only way you can sort of solve the low-expected return problem here is — at least for risky assets is that they would be this much faster growth, this techno optimism that you hear in some quarters. And there, I’d say, could be but we’ve had wonderful technological advances last hundred years and two percent real growth is pretty much as good as it gets. RITHOLTZ: And that’s interesting thing because you talked in the book about very often mom-and-pop investors, individual investors, tend to confuse GDP growth with expected returns. Academically, we know there’s almost no correlation between the two, is there? ILMANEN: It’s surprising that whether you look at over time in one country or you look at across countries, the relation is very modest and my favorite poster boy in that one is China, which had this 30 years of very fast GDP growth. RITHOLTZ: Massive. Massive growth. ILMANEN: And for equity investors, it was really sorry story. RITHOLTZ: Yes. No. It’s a lost opportunity. If you piled into China in 1990, you missed a lot of opportunity elsewhere in the world. ILMANEN: Yes. RITHOLTZ: It’s quite amazing. ILMANEN: Yes. And there are some stories why that’s — why that’s the case, Like basically, one logic is a GDP growth doesn’t capture how the IE shared between corporates and so on and there’s different sector compositions, there’s public versus unlisted sectors. All kinds of questions like this that can then mechanically explain why this happens. But it is — it’s a weird result and it’s understandable and I think it commonly motivates people to look for those fast-growing countries and taking it for granted that that’s a good equity investment. RITHOLTZ: So, when we’re thinking about various asset classes, how does cash work into that allocation strategy, is that a legitimate asset class or is it just a drag on future returns except for years like 2022. ILMANEN: Well, even in 2022, again, the relative sense, cash, is, of course, doing fine but the real returning cash is whatever minus five percent. It just happens to be better than even more — RITHOLTZ: Right. ILMANEN: — various results. And so, I think one interesting thing is you sort of — you need to have some market timing ability, I think, to make cash useful and use it almost as an option. And then it matters whether you have got some interesting yield levels. Twenty years ago, you had that three, four percent real return on cash. RITHOLTZ: Right. ILMANEN: Not around in this situation. So, I do think that the main story with cash like you said that there’s something about the drag and it dilutes. It’s not to diversify or it dilutes the performance. It would be good if you have got some great market timing skills. But let’s be humble about it. Often, I’d even say that cash may be best used as basically on the other side like you want to use for leverage for some long-short strategies. And so, that maybe helpful answer on what you do with that. RITHOLTZ: In the book, I like the way you described certain investor type based on their future liabilities. So, pensions, endowments, defined benefit plans, you point out that they’re particularly sensitive to low-expected returns. Tell us what makes them so susceptible. Is it the future liabilities they have? Why is merely the concept of lower expected return so problematic for them? ILMANEN: Yes. Well, I think it is — it is for any investor, but if you have made some commitments for the future, then it is maybe more legally binding and — and that — that makes it better than for somebody who can — who can basically adjust expectations or try to just leave through these things without — without sort of recognizing the low expected return until — until somewhere far into the future. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about far into the future. How long should we expect lower returns for? Is this a question quarters or years and decades ? Is this cyclical? Does it eventually turn on? Tell us a little bit about the duration of expected returns? ILMANEN: Sure. So, the main story of the book is about low — those low starting years and therefore, we are talking of long-run story. Then I’m — I’ll sort of turn in to more speculative punditry by thinking about the current situation where I do think that we are now in this fast pain situation where we will probably get more, where we will surely get more monetary policy tightening and I suspect that the latest — latest market positive is on yield so it’s maybe way too optimistic. I think — I think you will need — you will need more tightening to control inflation. And again, this is — this is a speculative talk here. So, I think fast pain will be with us for various risky assets but I — I think there will be a limit to it because of the structural forces. I refer to the savings glut. I think that’s not going away anytime soon, and therefore, there’s going to be a lead on how far yields can rise and that — and basically, those bond yields, they have been underwriting high valuations and all other on stocks and real estate and so on and those rising years have been very important in cheapening those other asset classes. And so, I think there’s gong to be more pain on that front but not too much. I don’t think we will get so much higher yields and cheaper asset valuations that we would sort of solve all of the long run problem of low expected returns. We will — we will still get some pain, but we’ll — I think the slow pain will be with us quite a long time. RITHOLTZ: So, let me see if I can explain that. If I — if I understand that. We’ve had a savings glut that has put a cap on interest rates which means that the cost of capital has been very low and therefore that allowed us to speculate in real estate, in inequity, and that allowed valuations to go high and what’s going to determine how much those multiples compress is how high rates end up going up? Am I oversimplifying that? ILMANEN: No, no, that is — that is right. And again, we have gotten now the cyclical situation where — where basically their inflation problem forced finally central banks to act quite aggressively then on, well, Fed, anyway, on the interest rate front and then how much more they have to do is going to be important in the near-term, but I just don’t see a scenario where they would raise rate so much that we will get back to the kind of four, five percent expected real return, so 60-40 portfolios which used to be there, we are about half of that nowadays. We’ve come from the lows but we are still like, let’s say, 60 to 40, two percent real yield is roughly the number as opposed to the four plus long run. RITHOLTZ: So, we’re recording this the first week of July. The Fed has already raised 75 basis points on top of their previous 50 basis points. For a while, the consensus is that the end of July, I think it’s the 27th, that meeting seem to be 75 basis points. It sounds like fears of recession might drive that down to 50 basis points, but clearly, there’s no consensus there yet. How far do you think the Fed’s going to go in tightening and do we run the risk that we’re behind the curve in 2021? Are we running the risk that they’re getting ahead of themselves in 2022? ILMANEN: Yes. First, as a qualifier here that … RITHOLTZ: Nobody knows. ILMANEN: Nobody knows and we don’t trade on my views, we don’t, like, this is — this is — that’s important. Then it is — it’ s incredibly difficult. But, yes, we certainly do think about those — those issues will attend and my — I’m pretty much in, let’s say, Larry Summers camp there thinking that it’s very hard to get the immaculate disinflation here and you will need — Fed needs to do more to get that information into control. And if it does, either if it acts more or financial markets drop enough, then there’s going to be some pretty bad outcomes to risky assets without that I think we are — we are going to continue to have that inflation problem. And this — there’s a narrow path how it could go in a more benign way and market seems to be clutching that straw right now. RITHOLTZ: So, what would make you change your mind? What would lead you to say, oh, I’ve been too cautious about future expected returns and because A, B, and C happen, I think we could get a little more confident. ILMANEN: Yes. So, I — I think the long horizon estimates are very difficult to change. The starting yields are heavy anchor. So, I think it would be — it would really require the growth environment to change. Again, I mentioned earlier a technological progress, those types of things. So, short term, anything can happen. But somehow, you have to have this type of idea with a greater Internet usage globally and all kinds of technological progress moving us from the two percent to three, four percent real growth … RITHOLTZ: Which is hard to do. ILMANEN: Hard to do. Has not happened. RITHOLTZ: Right. And then you mentioned earlier the cheapening, if stocks got much cheaper, that could potentially change it, the starting valuation, but do — do we really think that’s a likely probability? ILMANEN: Yes. I would be surprised that we would get that much cheaper. And again, the economic logic I have is the savings glut somehow that basically real yields are not going to allow that — we have too, I don’t know fragile economy, too fragile financial markets to — allow that much cheapening. And we usually would — we might be talking of 40-50 percent further — further force that … RITHOLTZ: Right. And that — that seems pretty unlikely from, at least with the state of the world today, obviously that can change any — anytime. That — that’s really, that’s really quite interesting. So, lets’ talk about some things that seem relatively cheap. Cliff Asness, in the foreword of the book wrote, quote, “Value premia seems record cheap today.” That was the end of 2021. Is value premia still cheap today value premium is still very cheap and it’s been a lovely year in the sense that we have had positive returns and yet the value spread this forward-looking measure of how cheap value stocks versus growth stocks has remained wide. And partly, it is that you get some pullbacks like we have recently — recently gotten, but also, you — we are basically rotating into new value stocks and growth stocks and — and the fundamentals have actually further had sort of favorable developments favoring value stocks versus growth stocks. So, for all these reasons, we see that value stocks, the way we tend to trade them, are as cheap or even cheaper than they were at the worst times during the dot-com bubble. And it is important to just distinguish. I’ve wrote about this in a blog recently that that dot-com bubble was very much about tech versus others and across sectors, we haven’t gotten to the new highs. But we tend to focus on within industry stock selection in our value strategies and with that, the key story of this recent bubble was really the markets favoring these disruptive profitless growth companies within every sector and that opportunity remain still very wide and we would love seeing like pretty good performance behind ascendant, very good runway because those values spreads remain quite wide. RITHOLTZ: And in the U.S., I’ve noticed that small-cap value is done much better than the large-cap companies and then emerging markets, small-cap value, last I looked, it might have even been green for the year, might’ve been positive returns for the year, why are small cap doing so well in the value spaces here? ILMANEN: When it often happens, like you just — you just get bigger movements in good and bad on the small caps than large caps. RITHOLTZ: So, I mentioned the quote from Cliff, he’s a big character. What’s it like working with him? ILMANEN: It’s mainly, it’s great. Though, if you had him with us here on this studio, I think you wouldn’t hear much of me and that’s just as well because he is — he is faster on his feet than his — he’s wittier, so that’s in everybody’s benefit. But it — so seriously, it does help that our investment thinking investment beliefs are so similar. So, I really rarely have got any — any, any ways to second-guess anything he says or does. So, that’s great. And then, most importantly, I do love his ethical antenna and his kind of truth-telling obsession that he has. I mean, sometimes there’s — there are overshoots that, but it’s really — it’s a reason for me why I love to work in AQR more than any other place in financial … RITHOLTZ: Because of Cliff? Usually, you get a guy who’s quantitatively oriented, you tend not to get that sort of articulateness and you also tend not to get that sort of sense of humor which is very, very specific to him. He’s a very funny guy. ILMANEN: He is. Yes. And I — a bit mixed feelings because there’s no way to beat him on those things. But that’s OK. RITHOLTZ: That’s very funny. So, let’s talk a little bit about the things that have changed since you wrote this book. What’s going on in the current market? Is it just confirming what you’re expectations were for — for future returns? Tell us a little bit about how 2022 has, now that is half over, how has this impacted the general premise of the book? ILMANEN: Yes. I think overall, I feel totally blessed that we got — the book came out at the time when markets where roughly acting the way the title was saying, talking about low expected returns. We’ve got low realized returns so that sounds — sounds great. And it also turns out that some of our strategies, value strategy trend following these types of strategies are doing very well, so — so I’m getting like great, great response. But of course, things have some — some things have happened as expected related to inflation central tightening, but then I had no idea of what, the geopolitics Russia, Russia-Ukraine or the greater split we have between U.S. sphere and China and so and so. And I don’t have — I don’t have great insights to this. For us, when I think of the long run expected returns, the key story is that as it’s have cheapened, as one would — one would have expected in this situation and — and the question is whether there’s going to be more, I think it’s — it is interesting that we’ve had — we’ve seen the biggest moves in bonds, smaller moves. When I think of yield, yield space, not price space, but in yield space, equity yields have risen more and then illiquidity yields have risen, so far, very little. And of course, there is a smoothing effect. And so, that’s a — but I do expect that there’s going to be an an issue. I saw in March when — when equities didn’t instantly respond to rising yields, it reminded me of Wiley Coyote running over that cliff and sort of waiting for gravity to hit and I think something like maybe still happening with the private assets, that they are sort of waiting, waiting to price things. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little about that. There’s been a lot of discussion about private markets and the illiquidity premium. They get — what are your thoughts on this? Should nontraded assets get an illiquidity premium? ILMANEN: Yes. So, I’ve written a lot about it. Cliff, of course, also and more wittily on this. And I think it is — it’s dangerous that people think too automatically. That if I invest in illiquid investments, I’m going to earn an illiquidity premium. I think after equity premium, that’s probably the second most confident statement people would have on longer expected returns. And data doesn’t really support it. So we’ve done lots of empirical evidence on this. And so, the logic why the data is then, so maybe disappointing is, I think, that — that people somehow confuse — they — they think that the illiquidity is the only important feature. So, yes, I think it is fair to require illiquidity premium for locking your money for 10 years, but then there’s these other characteristics, like — characteristic, lack of mark-to-market, the smoothing service — services, I call it. And that may totally offset the amount of excess return that you get. So, if there’s a two, three percent required illiquidity premium for forward-looking money, we might accept the same return for public and private equities because with the private equities, you don’t get the great volatility. RITHOLTZ: Now, you also show a chart in the book that shows how the bottom third of illiquid markets have, you know, by definition, they’re underperforming the top third but that gap has just been widening and it seems like in addition to whatever illiquidity premium are in private markets, there also seems to be a pretty substantial, I don’t know if I want to call this quality factor, but the best of the illiquid investments seem to really dramatically outperform the bottom. That spread is much bigger than we might have anticipated, otherwise. ILMANEN: So, apart from thinking about illiquid’s overall, one of these great sailing points there is the wide dispersion between outperformers and underperformers and to me, that’s such a lovely example of investor over confidence that when people see this, this person, they think, the upside is for me, the downside is for someone else. And so, clearly, this opportunity involves some risk as well and it is -it’s somehow that that industry doesn’t seem to have anybody getting that downside. So, sorry. I do think that some investors have got a decent claim to expect to get those top quartile right, let’s say to half managers but for others, I think it’s a somehow, it’s better to just think, OK, if we get the industry level returns, that’s reasonable. RITHOLTZ: So, Will Rogers used to always advise people only buy stocks that go up. If they don’t go up, don’t buy them. Does the same thing apply to private markets? Only invest in private markets that outperform. If they don’t outperform, stay away from them. ILMANEN: Yes. Yes. RITHOLTZ: If only it was that simple. ILMANEN: Hindsight, it’s great. But it is — and so, I would say, just positively, there that historically, in particular, if we look at private equity, it has a great 35-year history of outperforming S&P 500 by a three percent or something like that every year and that’s after five, six percent fees. That gross alpha is just mindboggling in some sense. But looking ahead, we should be much more: cautious because the gap has already been much narrower the last 15 years and it seems to be narrower because the money was flowing in because of the popularization of the Yale model. Since then, the forward-looking opportunity has been much narrower and realized opportunity has been much more — much more modest and the fees, are the good old fees. So, I think next decade will be one disappointing than we’re from. RITHOLTZ: Right. And when we look back to the early days of that outperformance, there were a tiny fraction of the number of funds then. What is it? Like 10,000 private equity funds that used to be — that used to be numbered in hundreds, not thousands. ILMANEN: Yes. Yes. RITHOLTZ: Same as the hedge fund and the venture capital world, success has attracted a lot of capital which leads to underperformance. ILMANEN: Yes and one further thing is these questions were already relevant a few years ago, but private equity did very well the last few years and I saw Dan Rasmussen wrote quite nicely, so recognize — I mean, that’s rare and lovely one somebody does. It’s postmortem on my mistake, that’s what he did there and he said that he got it so wrong because they — private equity like hedge funds and especially venture capital, were pushing a lot into the growth sector and that worked very well for a few years and I think to the extent that we are right about the value versus growth, that benefit will turn into advantage, I think, in the coming years and so. RITHOLTZ: Really, really interesting. We haven’t talked about a couple of other alternatives. Credit spreads, commodities, what else are you thinking about in the alt space? ILMANEN: Yes. I think commodities is the most interesting case. And so, I’ve got a double positive story on that one. The first one is the obvious one when we look for inflation hedging investments, they are pretty much the best there is. And so, most portfolios that invest — most constituents of anybody’s portfolio, stocks, bonds, and so on, they have what this disinflationary tilt that was helpful for a long time recently. And so, if you want to have a pretty neutral portfolio, you should have some allocation to commodities. Then the second point is that many investors think that you don’t earn a positive long-run reward on commodities but the data says otherwise. Basically … RITHOLTZ: Really? ILMANEN: Yes. Diversified combination of commodity futures has earned something like three, four percent long run reward and that’s a — it’s a weird thing and I — and I focus on it in the commodity sector telling that it’s part of it is related commodity, role maybe, but important part is related to diversification return. So, basically, this is getting very geeky, but let me just try. Commodities, on a single — single commodity base have a 30-40 percent volatility which means that that that type of volatility hurts compound returns a lot and — and when you combine lowly correlated commodities together, you can reduce that volatility roughly half and you can get this volatility drag much smaller. And so, for — if as the evidence suggests, that a single commodity has pretty much not outperformed cash in the long run, portfolio of them has done it because of this saving on this volatility drag, thanks to diversification. RITHOLTZ: So, it’s a basket of energy and industrial metals and precious metals and foodstuffs and not just … ILMANEN: And lots of — lots of, yes. And lots of single one of them. And so, again, you get — commodities, these types of effects happen in any investment. On your equities, on your bonds and so on, it just doesn’t matter so much with them because the correlations tend to be higher or volatilities, lower commodities have got this glorious combination of high volatility and low correlation that makes this really matter. RITHOLTZ: Very, very interesting. Let’s talk about ESG. There have been some estimates that it’s now over $20 trillion. You talk a little bit about ESG investing. Tell us about your thoughts. ILMANEN: Yes. So, it clearly growing force and I would argue also, largely a force for good, but the expected return impact is debatable. And so, Cliff wrote already a blog a few years ago highlighting this simple logic that, one logic is constraints always should have a cause. But another logic is that if you want to be virtuous and you want to raise the discount rates for sinful companies, well, you do that by maybe investing less, less in the more even — in some cases, you could, you could short them. And so, if you do that and you raise their discount rate, you also raise that discount rate, this flipside of expected return. RITHOLTZ: Makes them more attractive. ILMANEN: Yes. Yes. So, somebody else is willing to basically buy those sinful companies than we’ll earn higher returns. So, that is pretty much long-run story that should happen when investors really like something for nonmonetary reasons and that includes ESG. Then the, I think, the reasonable counterargument is that we may be in a transition phase here where we are getting the repricing. How do we get to those higher discount rates? Well, we get it basically by making those — those companies cheaper and then we can debate now whether we are in early innings or late innings on — on that question. So, in the long run, I think there will be some cost and I think most investors who are ESG oriented should be willing to take some, of course, as a flipside of their virtuous investing. But in between, they might get sort of the win-win outcome that they so like. RITHOLTZ: Now, you weren’t getting the win-win outcome the past six months, especially if you were low carb and low oil, any of the energy stocks have just done spectacularly the past year, is that going to be the long-run trade-off? Is that — if you’re staying away from some of these, you take a chance that there’s a big move up in a sector that you’ve reduced your exposure to? ILMANEN: Yes. I — that possibility always exists. And now, we — now that we had it, I think it is going to raise more discussions in some organizations than how to deal with any financial trade. I must say that in Europe, I think that investors will largely stay with their ESG beliefs and there’s not going to be questioned if they — if they think they — there’s some financial cost that’s okay. In the U.S., there’s more doubts and it has become such a political issue … RITHOLTZ: Right. ILMANEN: … that it’s going to be , I think, harder. Just, I — everything or anything I can say on this one, I think is that — is that there was a sort of easy travel towards more ESG for the last few years. And now, I think we are — we are in a world where it’s going to be harder. I think the trend is still the same but it’s going to be more jagged going ahead and maybe especially so in U.S. RITHOLTZ: And before I get to my favorite questions, I got to throw a curveball at you, Cliff Asness mentioned you like to go in a 120-degree sauna and jump out and roll around in the snow? Is this Finland — Finnish sort of thing? Tell us about your heat and cold habits? ILMANEN: That is — that is exactly what we do for cheap fun. And sadly, there are fewer opportunities with the global warming. But yes. RITHOLTZ: So, how hot does the sauna get? ILMANEN: I was thinking whether you are talking Fahrenheit or centigrade. RITHOLTZ: Fahrenheit. ILMANEN: But, yes, I knows we are talking, so say.. RITHOLTZ: Not boiling water? ILMANEN: You want to know, in centigrade, now we do go close to … RITHOLTZ: Forty degrees? Thirty-five degrees? ILMANEN: I don’t know. We go to 80-100 degrees. Definitely so. RITHOLTZ: In centigrade? ILMANEN: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. RITHOLTZ: So, that’s like 160-180 … ILMANEN: You’ll do the translation there. RITHOLTZ: Wow. ILMANEN: But I — I think of, you know, the I do my Fahrenheit and Celsius not in that area. RITHOLTZ: But still, 80 degrees is very — you’re just — that’s very warm. ILMANEN: Yes, it’s nice to sweat. RITHOLTZ: And then when you jump into the snow, isn’t that a little bit of a shock to the system? ILMANEN: Yes. Well, or you go to a polar, icy — well, you go into icy water. RITHOLTZ: Sure. ILMANEN: That’s even better but that’s hard. But, yes, it’s great fun when you can rarely do that. Yes. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. All right. So let’s jump to our favorite questions that we ask all of our guests starting with what have you been streaming these days? Tell us about your favorite — whatever kept you entertained during the pandemic or whatever podcast you listen to. ILMANEN: Sure. Sure. Yes, I thought about this in recent months when I have had you asked these questions. And by the way, I’ve gotten some good tips. I got “Le Bureau” and “Call My Agent,” the French ones, and some Israeli shows in from here. So, thanks for those. RITHOLTZ: “Fauda.” Yes. “Fauda” was … ILMANEN: Yes, yes, yes. Yes. RITHOLTZ: That’s why I ask it because I get to speak to people who have interesting sensibilities. I want to hear what they’re seeing and hearing. ILMANEN: Yes. Well, so, as a first none albeit or none interesting answer, I think recently, “Better Call Saul,” looking forward to the last few episodes. But — so that’s been great. But I thought that I’d rather highlight then less well-known older series. So, my favorites, I think, in last 10 years were sort of slow burn, “The Americans,” the Russian spies. That one or “Rectify.” It was a story of from the southern U.S. and just, I think — I think lovely stories. Got to take time for those. And likewise, then in podcasts, I listen a lot to history. And so, beyond investing. And I’ll just — well, on near investing, I would say Tim Harford’s “Cautionary Tales” is fun and Zingales and Bethany McLean “Capitalisn’t” has got very thoughtful topics. So, I think they are — they are good but I love — in history area, I love Dan Carlin, Mike Duncan, Patrick Wyman. And there’s a British show called “Rest is History” which just always makes me laugh. RITHOLTZ: That’s a good — that’s a very interesting list. Let’s talk about some of the mentors who helped to shape your career. ILMANEN: Sure. So, obviously, I told the dissertation chairman, Fama and French, so they’ve been very influential in many ways. But I would especially then highlight Marty Leibowitz, so all — before, during, and after Solomon years. So, and he’s such a mentor that it is — it’s wonderful to have known him for decades. RITHOLTZ: What about books? What are some of your favorites and what are you reading right now? ILMANEN: Yes. So, I am a voracious reader. Lots of investing fiction, nonfiction, all kinds of things. I thought I — I will highlight from fiction really big one. Hillary Mantel’s trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, “Wolf Hall.” I was thinking, I think maybe I heard in your show also “The Three Body Problem,” very different, sci-fi, the Chinese one. So, I think that was great. And then on nonfiction, I — I think the most impressive book I read in last couple of years was Joe Henrich’s, “The WEIRDest People in the World.” So, this is — WEIRD is Western Educated rich democratic. And it’s basically telling how different the people who are most often studied in various psychological studies, they invest in university students, how different they are from most cultures and then it’s explaining why things went that way. And it’s — it’s most parts of the story are very interesting. But again, a very long book. RITHOLTZ: Really, really intriguing. ILMANEN: Yes. And currently, Zach Carter, I think, is the author. The book on price — “Price of Peace.” Yes. RITHOLTZ: Good. That’s a good, that’s pretty good list. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college graduate who is interested in a career in either investing finance, value, quantitative, investing, how would you advise them? ILMANEN: I’ll go with the old-fashioned saying. Don’t sacrifice your ethics, that integrity matters. RITHOLTZ: Good — that’s really good advice. And our final question, what do you know about the world of investing today that you wish you knew 30 or so years ago when you were first getting started? ILMANEN: Yes. I thought — I’ll say this lightly that bond yields can go negative, you know. Didn’t expect that to happen but the funny thing is that I thought that, really, I would have then expected that do coincide with bearish equity markets. But in 2010s, it actually happened with — with a big bull market. So, it wasn’t that — that equities pushed equity weakness, pushed bond yields down, but it was that low bond yields pushed equities up. So, so causality went that way and that’s a pricing. So, I think that’s — that’s one. And then, another serious, serious is, is how important and how hard patience is. So, with all of these ideas, I talked about this long-run strategies and you just — it doesn’t matter too much if you don’t have the stickiness. So, I think one has to really calibrate one’s investment to the amount of patience one can reasonably expect to have. RITHOLTZ: Really, really intriguing. We have been speaking with Antti Ilmanen, cohead of portfolio solutions at AQR. If you enjoy this conversation, well, check out any of our previous 400 or so podcasts. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever you get your favorite podcast. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily reading list at ritholtz.com. Follow me on Twitter, @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps with these conversations together each week. Justin Milner is my audio engineer. Atika Valbrun is my project manager. Sean Russo is my head of research. Paris Wald is my producer. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: Antti Ilmanen appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 19th, 2022

New Disney Show Accused Of Indoctrinating Kids To Think That Men, Too, Can Get A Period

New Disney Show Accused Of Indoctrinating Kids To Think That Men, Too, Can Get A Period Authored by Bill Pan via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The Walt Disney Company, which recently sparked controversy for inserting radical sex and gender ideology into its children’s programs, has come under scrutiny again after a clip from the new series “Baymax!” showed the namesake nurse robot taking advice on menstrual products from a transgender person. A Disney+ streaming service sign is pictured at the D23 Expo, billed as the "largest Disney fan event in the world," at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Aug. 23, 2019. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images) The video was obtained and shared by conservative author and filmmaker Christopher Rufo. Earlier this year, Rufo publicized video footage of an internal company call, in which Disney executives discussed the company’s “not-at-all secret gay agenda,” including a push for more LGBT cartoon characters. “I’ve obtained leaked video from Disney’s upcoming show ‘Baymax,’ which promotes the transgender flag and the idea that men can have periods to children as young as two years old,” Rufo wrote in a Jun. 28 post on Twitter. “It’s all part of Disney’s plan to re-engineer the discourse around kids and sexuality.” EXCLUSIVE: I've obtained leaked video from Disney's upcoming show "Baymax," which promotes the transgender flag and the idea that men can have periods to children as young as two years old. It's all part of Disney's plan to re-engineer the discourse around kids and sexuality. pic.twitter.com/y1ATnKCEce — Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) June 28, 2022 In the 27-second clip, Baymax can be seen standing in the female hygiene product aisle of a store. When he asks a woman next to him for suggestions, the woman appears to be surprised but nonetheless recommends “the tampons I usually use,” before several other customers join in to offer advice. “I prefer pads, they’re more comfortable for me,” a woman tells the inflatable robot. “I always get the ones with wings,” recommends a male-sounding person wearing a transgender flag. “Get unscented and bleach-free if you can,” another woman says. “My daughter loves these!” a man says while showing Baymax some other product. “These might be easier if it’s her first period,” yet another woman offers. “These are really environmentally friendly!” Appropriateness Debated The clip has triggered a debate on social media over whether the messaging is appropriate for an animated series directly aimed at younger viewers, with many accusing Disney of trying to normalize to children the idea that biological males can have periods. “I have 4 kids, ages 8-15, who would watch this and it would make them all uncomfortable. What is the purpose?” journalist Nicole Russell wrote on Twitter. Some others, however, applauded the inclusion of the period talk and dismissed Rufo’s concerns as “conspiracy theory.” “Apparently, this is all you need to trigger Christopher Rufo into an unhinged rant and conspiracy theories,” Alejandra Caraballo, an instructor at Harvard Law School, wrote alongside a transgender pride flag. The debate comes as the Disney-Pixar movie “Lightyear” falls short of box office expectations for two consecutive weekends. The latest installation in the “Toy Story” franchise, “Lightyear” earned only about $51 million in North America on its opening weekend and landed 5th at the box office on the second weekend, with just $17.6 million, falling even behind the independent horror film “The Black Phone.” Critics argue that the poor performance of “Lightyear” has to do with Disney’s focus on pushing LGBT-friendly messages rather than entertaining the audience. As the result of Disney’s insistence in keeping a same-sex kiss between two female characters in “Lightyear,” the film has been banned in 14 countries, including China and Indonesia. “Baymax!,” a spin-off of the widely successful 2014 movie “Big Hero 6,” premiered on June 29 on Disney Plus. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/01/2022 - 17:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJul 1st, 2022

"HODL" Finds Its Inevitable Flaw

"HODL" Finds Its Inevitable Flaw Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com, “HODL,” an original misspelling taken on as a badge of courage by cryptocurrency investors, spread to “Meme stocks” during the runup in 2020 and 2021. The term “HODL” originated from user GameKyubbi, who posted a drunk, semi-coherent, typo-laden rant about his poor trading skills. “‘I AM HODLING.’ I type d that tyitle twice because I knew it was wrong the first time. Still wrong. WHY AM I HOLDING? I’LL TELL YOU WHY. It’s because I’m a bad trader and I KNOW I’M A BAD TRADER. Yeah, you good traders can spot the highs and the lows pit pat piffy wing wong wang just like that and make a millino bucks sure no problem bro. You only sell in a bear market if you are a good day trader or an illusioned noob. The people inbetween hold. In a zero-sum game such as this, traders can only take your money if you sell.” – BitcoinTalk fourm Within an hour of that post, “HODL” had become a meme. Initially, the memes referenced the movies “300″ and “Braveheart,” but there are now countless HODL memes floating around the internet.  Of course, there seemed to be no risk to a “HODL” strategy at the time, as the Federal Reserve and Government pushed trillions of dollars in liquidity into the financial markets and economy. With the economy shut down due to the pandemic, sports gamblers turned their attention to the stock market to get their “fix.” As asset prices surged and with the assistance of the Robinhood app, investing became so easy you could draw letters out of a Scrabble bag. $RTX comes out of the scrabble bag. Smush letters and buy it. Give it a try Ron, you might not bankrupt your clients. #DDTG pic.twitter.com/semLRi6yBF — Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) June 19, 2020 Unfortunately, when it comes to buying and “HODLing,” the outcome from periods of excess speculation is always the same. The “HODL” Fallacy I recently wrote about the problems with “armchair” investment strategies.To wit: “As shown in the chart below, the advice given is not entirely wrong. Since 1900, the markets have averaged roughly 10% annually (including dividends). However, that figure falls to 8.08% when adjusting for inflation. By looking at the chart, it’s pretty evident that you should invest heavily in the market and “fughetta’ bout’ it.” If it was only that simple.” While the average rate of return may have been 10% over the long term, the markets do not deliver 10% yearly. Let’s assume an investor wants to compound their returns by 10% a year over five years. We can do some basic math. After three years of 10% returns, a drawdown of just 10% cuts the average annual compound growth rate by 50%. Furthermore, it then requires a 30% return to regain the average rate of return required.  While an investor can “HODL” for the long term, there is a significant difference between the AVERAGE and  ACTUAL returns received. As I showed previously, the impact of losses destroys the annualized “compounding” effect of money. (The purple shaded area shows the “average” return of 7% annually. However, the differential between the promised and “actual return” is the return gap.) The differential between what investors were promised and actual returns is substantial over the long term. Furthermore, you DIED long before realizing the long-term average return rate. Amid a “bull market,” the impact of losses during the second half of the market cycle becomes obscured. The stronger the bull market advance, the more mistakes investors make by assuming the current cycle will not end as they take on more speculative risk. Unfortunately, all cycles end. HODL – Another Word For Speculation One of the more disappointing developments in the financial markets over the last 12 years has been the rise of “performance chasing” by investors. But such is not surprising given the repeated interventions by the Federal Reserve. As Larry McDonald of the Bear Traps Report noted: “Inflation is forcing central bankers to allow price discovery. There was always price discovery before Lehman, but for much of the last 12 years markets have been in a Fed zombie trance.“ Such isn’t “investing,” it’s “speculation.” But who could blame young, inexperienced individuals with a “stimmy” check and promises of quick riches in Bitcoin as it surged daily? But it wasn’t just cryptocurrencies. Wall Street supplied traders with SPACs like Lucid Motors when IPOs could not get pushed out fast enough. And “Meme” stocks like AMC Movie Theatres got touted on websites like WallStreetBets. Of course, the “MoMo” craze got represented best by Cathie Wood and the Arkk ETFs. While “HODLing” worked during the rising bull market, individuals have now discovered holding during a “bear market” can be devastating. Ultimately, investing is about managing the risks that will substantially reduce your ability to “stay in the game long enough” to “win.” “The distinction between investment and speculation is a useful one and its disappearance is a cause for concern. We’ve often said Wall Street should reinstate this distinction and emphasize it in its dealings with the public. Otherwise, stock exchanges may some day be blamed for heavy speculative losses which those who suffered them had not been properly warned against.” – Benjamin Graham – The Intelligent Investor: The current bear market is no exception and is the logical outcome of what follows the last advance. Time To Let Go Of “HODL” There is a huge market for “get rich quick” investment schemes and programs as individuals keep hoping to find the secret trick to amassing riches from the market. There isn’t one.  In the 1990s, investors plowed money into speculative investments. Ultimately, they lost most of it at the turn of the century. Then, they turned their focus to real estate, only to get wiped out in 2008. The runup and crash in the cryptocurrencies, disrupter technologies, SPACs, and “Meme” stocks have all met a similar end. Many believe that investing in the financial markets is their only option for retiring. Unfortunately, they fell into the same trap as most pension funds hoping market performance will make up for a “savings” shortfall. The chart below shows a 6% annual “average” return rate and what stocks historically should return. Starting when returns are high has invariably poor outcomes. The damage market declines inflict on investors hoping to garner annualized 8% returns to make up for the lack of savings is all too real and virtually impossible to recover from. When investors lose money in the market it is possible to regain the lost principal given enough time, however, what can never be recovered is the lost “time” between today and retirement. “Time” is finite and the most precious commodity that investors have. Navigating The Next Cycle We have previously detailed the basic guidelines for navigating market cycles. Investing is not a competition. Emotions have no place in investing. The ONLY investments you can “buy and hold” are those providing an income stream and return of principal. Market valuations are very poor market timing devices. Fundamentals and Economics drive long-term investment decisions – “Greed and Fear” drive short-term trading. “Market timing” is impossible– managing exposure to risk is both logical and possible. Investment is about discipline and patience.  There is no value in daily media commentary– turn off the television and save yourself the mental capital. Investing is no different than gambling– both are “guesses” about future outcomes based on probabilities. No investment strategy works all the time.  Before sticking your head in the sand and ignoring market risk based on an article touting “long-term investing always wins, just ‘HODL'” ask yourself who benefits? Emotions and investment decisions are very poor bedfellows. Unfortunately, most investors make emotional decisions because FEW follow a well-thought-out investment plan. Retail investors generally buy an off-the-shelf portfolio allocation model heavily weighted in equities. The illusion is that stocks will somehow make money over a long enough period.  Unfortunately, history has been a brutal teacher about the value of risk management.  Tyler Durden Fri, 06/24/2022 - 10:34.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJun 24th, 2022

The 46 best fantasy books to escape into this summer, from the classics to new highly anticipated sequels

Whether you like fantasy books with a dash of drama, historical fiction, romance, or science fiction, these novels are sure to become favorites. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Whether you like fantasy books with a dash of drama, historical fiction, romance, or science fiction, these novels are sure to become favorites.Amazon; Alyssa Powell/Insider Fantasy books are delightfully filled with magic, creatures, and new worlds. This list ranges from classic fantasy novels to exciting new releases. We looked at bestsellers, award-winners, and reader recommendations to find the best fantasy books. Fantasy books are a blissful escape from reality into worlds of magical creatures, mythological heroes, and folklore come to life. They are where we can discover new worlds where heroes and heroines face brutal beasts, travel across distant lands, and unearth forgotten kingdoms. From epic high fantasy to magical realism, the fantasy genre is expansive. Fantasy can include countless different types of magic, characters, and adventurous pursuits and many of these novels intertwine with other genres, especially science fiction and romance. To compile this list of best fantasy books, we looked at all-time fantasy bestsellers, award-winners, and new releases about which readers are raving. So whether you're looking to find a magical first fantasy read or delve deeper into a sub-genre you already love, here are some of the best fantasy novels to read this summer. The 46 best classic and new fantasy books to read in 2022:A historical fantasy retelling of an ancient Indian epicAmazon"Kaikeyi" by Vaishnavi Patel, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.54For fans of "Circe," "Kaikeyi" is the historical fantasy tale of a young woman who discovers her magic while looking for deeper answers in the texts she once read with her mother. When Kaikeyi transforms into a warrior and a favored, feminist queen, darkness from her past resurfaces and the world she has built clashes with the destiny the gods once chose for her family, forcing Kaikeyi to face the consequences of resistance and the legacy she may leave behind. A new exciting fantasy sequelAmazon"Fevered Star" by Rebecca Roanhorse, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.49"Fevered Star" is the highly anticipated sequel to "Black Sun," and continues as sea captain Xiala finds new allies with the war in the heavens affecting the Earth. Meanwhile, avatars Serapio and Naranpa must continue to fight for free will despite the wave of destiny and prophecy they face in this fantasy novel loved for its unique cast of characters and incredible world-building. The first epic fantasy novel in an upcoming trilogyAmazon"The Woven Kingdom" by Tahereh Mafi, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.99"This Woven Kingdom" intertwines fantastical Persian mythology and rich romance in the first novel of an upcoming fantasy trilogy about Alizeh, the long-lost heir to the kingdom for which she works as a servant. Kamran, the crown prince, has heard the prophecies his kingdom is destined to face but couldn't imagine the strange servant girl would be the one to uproot everything he's ever known. The most classic fantasy you can getAmazon"The Hobbit" by J. R. R. Tolkien, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.37An introduction to the mystical world of "The Lord of the Rings," "The Hobbit" is one of the most charming adventure fantasies in history. It's the timeless story of Bilbo Baggins meeting Gandalf as they set out to raid the treasure guarded by a dragon — indisputably a classic fantasy novel, and a must-read for any fantasy lover. A fantastical retelling of Chinese mythologyAmazon"Daughter of the Moon Goddess" by Sue Lynn Tan, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.19Inspired by the legend of Chang'e, the Chinese moon goddess, "Daughter of the Moon Goodess" follows Xingyin as her existence is discovered by the feared Celestial emperor and she must flee her home and leave her mother behind. In this mythological retelling, Xingyin must learn archery and magic in the very empire that once exiled her mother and challenge the Celestial Emperor with her life, loves, and the fate of the entire realm at stake. A steamy fantasy retelling of "Beauty and the Beast"Amazon"A Court of Thorns and Roses" by Sarah J. Maas, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.49In this wildly popular series, Feyre is brought to a magical kingdom on the crime of killing a faerie where both she and the secrets of her captor are closely guarded. This series is known for its careful pacing, beautiful romance, and nightmarish fantasy creatures. The final book was just released, so now you can binge-read straight to the end. A historical fantasy that you won’t soon forgetAmazon"The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue" by V.E. Schwab, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.19In 1714, Addie LaRue accidentally prays to the gods that answer after dark and curses herself to a life in which she cannot be remembered. This book spans 300 years as Addie lives without a trace until one day, she meets a boy who remembers her name. Contrary to the premise, Addie's story is one that stays with you long after you finish this book. This was my favorite book of 2020 and remains in my top five of all time. A fantasy book that begins with "It was a dark and stormy night"Amazon"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $5.35This is one of the few books from my childhood that has stood the test of time and remained on my bookshelf to this day. Meg Murry — along with her mother and brother — rushes downstairs in the middle of the night to find a strange visitor in the kitchen, launching an adventure through space and time to save Meg's father and the world. I was whisked away by the magic in this story, along with so many other readers. A fantasy story that will take you to a new worldAmazon"The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.64Though chronologically second, this was the first "Chronicles of Narnia" book to be published and therefore should be read first. It tells the story of three siblings who step through the door of a wardrobe and find themselves in the magical land of Narnia, enchanted by the evil White Witch. They team up with a lion and join the battle to save Narnia. C.S. Lewis wrote: "Some day, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again," and that resonates with so many readers who pick this book up and hold it close to their hearts forever.A fantasy series that's quickly become a modern classicAmazon"A Game of Thrones" series by George R. R. Martin, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $26.93The "Game of Thrones" series is hailed as an undeniable classic even though it was just published in 2005. The entire series is iconic. It's about families caught in a never-ending war over who rules over the seven kingdoms. In these books, the good guys don't always win and the heroes don't always live. There are highly complicated characters, tons of subplots, and every kind of conflict imaginable. A powerful and diverse fantasy with contemporary issuesAmaozon"Legendborn" by Tracy Deonn, available at Amazon and Bookshop, $16.29"Legendborn" has quickly become a favorite amongst fantasy readers since it was published in September 2020. It weaves issues of grief, racism, and oppression with Arthurian-inspired magic. Bree enrolls in a college program for gifted high schoolers after an accident that left her mother dead. When an attempt to wipe Bree's memory after she witnesses a magical attack fails, her own magic and memories begin to return to her and leave her wondering if her mother's death was truly an accident. An enchanting, magical fantasy adventureBookshop"The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea" by Axie Oh, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.99Mina's homeland has been devastated by storms for generations so every year, a maiden is sacrificed to the sea in the hopes the Sea God will take a true bride and end the villages' suffering. When Shim Cheong, her brother's beloved, is chosen for the next sacrifice, Mina throws herself into the sea in her place and is swept into the Spirit Realm where she seeks to wake the Sea God, confront him — and save her homeland before her time in the realm runs out. A feminist fairy tale classicAmazon"Ella Enchanted" by Gail Carson Levine, available at Amazon and Bookshop, $7.35Whether or not you've seen the hilarious Anne Hathaway movie, this is one to pick up. It's the story of Ella, enchanted as an infant with the "gift" of obedience. It quickly turns into a curse as Ella can't help but do what she's told no matter who orders her or how silly (or dangerous) the order may be. When Ella finds she might be in danger, she sets out to undo the curse and ends up on an adventure with ogres, elves, even the classic pumpkin carriage. I thought this book was just as amusing as the movie and I probably read it a dozen times as a teen. A deadly fantasy tale of three royal sistersAmazon"Three Dark Crowns" series by Kendare Blake, available at Amazon and Bookshop from $14.99In every royal generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born. They are each equal heirs to the throne and possess one of three magics: control of the elements, affinity to nature and animals, or immunity to poison. When the girls turn sixteen, the fight for the crown begins and will only end once only one queen remains. In this dark series about strong women, the tension and twists build with each novel until the action-packed and intensely satisfying ending. The magic in these books is easy to understand and really entertaining to read. I loved seeing this sisterhood grow and change over the four books.A bloody fantasy epic of warrior womenAmazon"The Gilded Ones" by Namina Forna, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.39Deka is already different from the rest of her village, but when she bleeds gold — the mark of a demon girl — during a ceremony, she faces consequences worse than death. She is soon offered a choice: to stay and face her fate or leave and fight in an army of girls like her. This story moves swiftly with a mix of dystopian fantasy, horror, and a touch of romance. It can be quite violent at times, as demon girls suffer death after gruesome death. If you've ever been hesitant about picking up YA fantasy, this is one that won't disappoint. A dark fantasy that's perfect for a rainy dayAmazon"Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.29While you are probably more familiar with "Coraline," "Neverwhere" is a Neil Gaiman book that just can't be passed over. On the streets of London, Richard Mayhew stops to help a bleeding girl and ends up in Neverwhere — a dark version of London where monsters lurk in the shadows. After finishing this, you'll ask yourself why you haven't read more of his novels. Gaiman also has a series on MasterClass that deconstructs his storytelling yet somehow adds more magic to every book. A classic fantasy novel full of magicAmazon"A Wizard of Earthsea" by Ursula K. Le Guin, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $6.79When Ged was young, he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. Now he's grown into the most powerful sorcerer in Earthsea, but he must face the consequences of the power-hungry actions of his younger self. This book (and the entire six-book series) continues to enchant fantasy readers 50 years after its first publication. Through graceful writing and impeccable character development, Le Guin challenges us to know and embrace our true selves.A high seas pirate adventure storyAmazon"Fable" by Adrienne Young, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.69Fable is a trader, a fighter, and a survivor. Four years ago, she watched her mother drown in a ruthless storm and her father abandon her on an island of thieves. Relying on the skills her mother taught her, Fable enlists West to help her confront her father and demand a place on his crew. When she finally makes it off the island, Fable learns how much more dangerous her father's work has become and finds that the island may have been the safest place for her after all. This is a gritty story with a strong feminist lead and (thankfully) a sequel that was just released.A fantasy series where light and dark magic exist in parallel worldsAmazon"A Darker Shade of Magic" by V.E. Schwab, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.99Kell is a smuggler and one of the last magicians able to travel between parallel Londons: red, white, grey, and (long ago) black. After being robbed and then saved by Delilah Bard, the two set out on an adventure to save themselves and the worlds through which they travel. Schwab is a masterful world-builder and you will absolutely travel right along with this pair. Because of this series, I have become a sucker for a parallel universe trope. The fantasy story of a forced marriage between a witch and a witch hunterAmazon"Serpent & Dove" by Shelby Mahurin, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.59In Belterra, witches are feared and burned at the stake by ruthless witch hunters. For two years, Louise hid her magic to stay alive until one mistake set in motion a story of impossible choices, an enemies-to-lover romance, and a tangled battle between right and wrong. With how compelling the writing is, you'd never guess it is a debut novel. I bought this one just for the gorgeous cover and had no idea how extraordinary it would be.A criminal account of a steampunk band of anti-heroesAmazon"Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99Kaz is a professional criminal, offered an alluring heist that he can't pass up, but he can't pull off alone. This story is completely brilliant, gritty, and a little messy. With six main characters, "Six of Crows" is a fast-paced heist, a story that leaves you constantly surprised as you'll never fully know any one character's intentions due to its third-person point of view.The fantastical tale of a magical unicornAmazon"The Last Unicorn" by Peter S. Beagle, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.99This is a beautiful fairy tale with poems and songs set throughout the pages. In this book, a unicorn who lives alone in a forest protected from death decides to find what happened to the others. Helped by a magician and a spinster, the unicorn sets out on a journey of love and destiny, faced with an evil king who aims to rid the world of the final unicorn. The life lessons woven throughout this book are bittersweet, but also real and honest. A cherished chronicle of magical children and guarded secretsAmazon"The House in the Cerulean Sea" by T.J Klune, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.29This is one of the few books I refer to as "beautiful." Linus Baker is a quiet caseworker for the Department of Magical Youth — and has just been charged with investigating a highly secretive case that requires him to travel to an island where six dangerous magical orphans (including the actual son of Satan) live under the care of Arthur Parnassus. This book is all about family, filled with comforting magic as you come to care for fictional characters. Plus, reading about a child who is trying to be a good kid while also being the literal Anti-Christ is absolutely hysterical and was the highlight of this book for me.A dark, horror-fantasy book about occult magicAmazon"Ninth House" by Leigh Bardugo, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.55Alex Stern is recovering in the hospital after surviving an unsolved homicide when she's mysteriously offered a full ride at Yale University. The only catch: she has to monitor the activities of the school's secret societies that practice dark magic. Alex, a high school dropout from LA, has no idea why she's been chosen but by the time she finds out, she'll be in too deep. This book won the Goodreads Choice Awards "Best Fantasy" category in 2019 and it absolutely lives up to the hype. It's intense, bloody, and powerful as dangerous magic weaves itself into an everyday school setting. A truly fun Greek mythology storyAmazon"The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $5.98Deeply loved, the Percy Jackson books are just as regarded as "The Hunger Games" or "Divergent." Percy has no idea that he is a demigod, son of Poseidon, but he's having trouble in school, unable to focus or control his temper. Percy is sure that his teacher tried to kill him and when his mom finds out, she knows she needs to tell him the truth about where he came from. He goes to a summer camp for demigods and teams up with two friends to reach the Underworld in order to prevent a war between the gods. Percy makes a great hero and it's so easy to root for him as he pushes through his journey, the pages filled with Grade-A characters, action scenes, and monsters. A West-African inspired fantasy world of danger and magicAmazon"Children of Blood and Bone" by Tomi Adeyemi, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.99After a ruthless king left the world without magic and her mother dead, Zélie finds she has only one chance to save her people. On a dangerous journey to restore magic to the land before it is lost forever, Zélie's greatest danger may be herself. Readers agree that the best parts of this book are the characters, who all go on a transformative journey as they fight for peace. This is in TIME's Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time, which is a huge deal. A captivating vampire fantasy novelAmazon"Crave" by Tracy Wolff, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.51It's easy to draw a comparison between "Crave" and "Twilight," especially since the moment "brooding vampires" is mentioned, everyone's first thought is Edward Cullen. Plus, the cover looks like it's part of Stephanie Meyer's famous saga. But the "Crave" series is more sophisticated and literary while embracing the inherent cringe that now seems to accompany any vampire story. This is an engaging read because it blends nostalgia with something fresh and new. Open this book when you're ready to have fun with reading — the cheesy moody vampire moments are absolutely present amongst turf wars, a gothic academy, and dragons. A dark urban fantasy where people hunt the godsAmazon"Lore" by Alexandra Bracken, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99Greek mythology meets "The Hunger Games" in this world where every seven years, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by those eager to steal divine power and immortality for themselves. Lore wants to leave this brutality behind when her help is sought out by two opposing participants: a childhood friend she thought long dead and a gravely wounded Athena. The world created in this standalone is thorough and complex. But if you love crazy twists and that "just one more chapter" feeling, you should give this a shot.An iconic fantasy book that checks every boxAmazon"The Princess Bride" by William Goldman, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.11"The Princess Bride" is a modern classic that has something for everyone: action, beasts, true love, and a whole lot of fighting. A beautiful girl, Buttercup, and her farm boy, Westley, have fallen madly in love. Westley sets off to claim his fortune so he can marry her before he's ambushed by pirates. Thinking he's dead, Buttercup marries an evil prince as Westley plans to return to her. It's riddled with narration from the author that really adds to the passion and humor of this book.A 200-years-later fantasy sequel to "Cinderella"Amazon"Cinderella is Dead" by Kalynn Bayron, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.63200 years after Cinderella found her prince, girls are required to appear at the annual ball where men select their wives. If a girl is not selected, she is never heard from again. Sophia would much rather marry her love, Erin, so she flees the ball where she runs into Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella. Together, they decide to bring down the king once and for all. This book gathered attention for its Black and queer lead characters that have no intention of waiting for a night in shining armor to save them. It's a story of bravery, anger, and fighting for love.A fantasy that's all about booksAmazon"Inkheart" by Cornelia Funke, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.29Meggie's father is reading to her from a book called "Inkheart" one night when an evil stranger from her father's past knocks on their door. When Meggie's dad is kidnapped, she has to learn to control the magic to change the story that's taken over her life, creating a world that she's only read about in books. It's a story about magic, for sure, but also about the unwavering bond between Meggie and her father — a truly heartwarming love that you'll feel as a reader.  A darker collection of fairy talesAmazon"The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales" by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $4.95The German brothers who wrote this book aimed to collect stories exactly how they were told. This led to a collection of fairy tales that we all know and love, minus the obligatory "happily ever afters." It has all the classics like "Cinderella" and "Rapunzel" that haven't been softened or brightly colored for younger audiences. This is great for anyone who loves the feeling of discovering all the secrets behind the stories or movies we loved when we were young.A fantasy re-telling of "Romeo and Juliet," set in 1920s ShanghaiAmazon"These Violent Delights" by Chloe Gong, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99In 1926, a blood feud has left the city starkly divided, Juliette the heir to the Scarlet Gang and Roma the heir to the White Flowers. They were each other's first love, separated by their families and long ago (but not forgotten) betrayal. Now, as a mysterious illness is causing the people to claw their own throats out, Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to save their city. This one features a river monster, a serious amount of blood and gore, and nods to the original "Romeo and Juliet" throughout. A fantastical tapestry of legends and rivalriesAmazon"The Priory of the Orange Tree" by Samantha Shannon, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.24Told from four points of view, Queen Sabran IX must conceive a daughter, for the legends say that as long as a queen rules, the monster beneath the sea will sleep. But as the assassins close in, the eastern and western kingdoms of Virtudom refuse to unite, even against an ancient and monumental threat that could kill them all. This is 800 pages of high fantasy, charged by dragons, queer representation, and a large cast of characters — but don't worry, you can find a glossary and character list in the back to help you keep it all straight. It's been hailed as "A feminist successor to 'The Lord of the Rings'" and decidedly embraces that praise.A fantasy novel hailed for its romanceAmazon"From Blood and Ash" by Jennifer L. Armentrout, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.67While this absolutely falls into the fantasy genre, it actually won the Goodreads Choice Awards for "Best Romance" in 2020. Poppy is the Maiden, chosen to fulfill a destiny that has never been fully explained to her, living the life of a recluse and awaiting to ascend to prove she is worthy to the gods and can protect her land from the curse. When she can't stand it anymore, she sneaks away from the kingdom and meets Hawke, spurring a desperate secret romance. The beginning of the first book is slow, but the momentum builds quickly. It ends on a huge cliffhanger but the second one has already been released and the third is out on April 20, 2021. A classic Arthurian taleAmazon"The Sword in the Stone" by T. H. White, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.50Before the famous King Arthur, there was a boy named Wart, a wizard named Merlin, and a sword stuck in a stone. In this story, Merlin helps Wart learn valuable coming-of-age lessons as he grows up. It feels both medieval and modern, with an emotional ending as Wart finally faces the sword. If you loved the Disney movie, you should still read this, since they're very different. The witchy prequel to “Practical Magic”Amazon"The Rules of Magic" by Alice Hoffman, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.30Franny, Bridget, and Vincent are growing up in the 1950s, aware that they are different but held under strict parental rules to keep them safe and away from magic. When they visit their Aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts where their family name holds great history, the Owens siblings learn to embrace their magical sides. You don't need to have read "Practical Magic" to love this story of sibling love and finding your identity. The book is simply delightful and the whole thing feels like a cool autumn in Salem. A fantasy series that you'll hold close long after the final bookAmazon"Throne of Glass" series by Sarah J. Maas, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $6.59This entire eight-book series has insanely high reviews, with a ton of fantasy readers picking up anything Sarah J. Maas writes. It follows Celaena Sardothien, an assassin who is offered a chance to serve as the King's Champion and earn her freedom after serving in a camp for her crimes. Celaena is drawn into a series of battles and a deeply woven conspiracy, discovering secrets about the kingdom and herself. This is an epic, powerful, and brilliant journey that might just become your new favorite series.The first in a new "Shadowhunter" seriesAmazon"Chain of Gold" by Cassandra Clare, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.49Cordelia is a Shadowhunter, a warrior who has trained all her life to battle demons. On a mission to prove her father's innocence, she travels to London where she meets James, a childhood friend. She's whisked into his secret and dazzling life when a series of demon attacks hit London. These new monsters seem impossible to kill as they hide in plain sight and close off the city. The characters are what drives this book and if you've read other "Shadowhunter" novels by Cassandra Clare, you'll love getting to know family members you've heard about before. A portal fantasy that all begins with a girl finding magic in a bookAmazon"The Ten Thousand Doors of January" by Alix E Harrow, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99While serving as the ward to a wealthy man, January finds a strange book that tells a story of secret doors, adventure, and danger. As she reads, January is taken on an imaginative journey of discovery as a book she thought was fiction elaborately bends her reality. It's a portal story of love and enchanting adventure, a book about a book that will mercilessly break your heart but gracefully put it back together. A wintery fairytale story, loosely based on “Rumpelstiltskin”Amazon"Spinning Silver" by Naomi Novik, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.99Miryem quickly earns a reputation for being able to spin silver to gold after setting out to save her family from poverty, capturing the attention of the Ice King. This is a woven story of three women, three mothers, and three marriages. Naomi Novik does an incredible job of helping you follow each story, creating some amazingly strong female protagonists. This is not your typical fairytale, but it's still full of whimsical writing, familial bonds, and tons of charm.  A deep-sea fantasy journey with seven kinds of magicAmazon"All The Stars and Teeth" by Adalyn Grace, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.89In a kingdom where you can choose your magic, Amora knows that to be queen, she must master the dangerous but fickle soul magic. When her demonstration fails, Amora flees and strikes a deal with a pirate: she will help him reclaim his magic if he can help her prove that she's fit to rule. "All the Stars and Teeth" is an epic adventure-driven fantasy featuring mermaids, sea monsters, and a kingdom in danger. A fantasy book that will pull you in from the first lineAmazon"A Curse So Dark and Lonely" by Brigid Kemmerer, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.89Set in the parallel land of Emberfall, a cursed Prince Rhen has become a destructive, murderous monster. Harper, a regular girl with cerebral palsy, was mistakenly kidnapped and is now the prince's only hope. Yes, this is the second "Beauty and the Beast" retelling in this roundup but they are both so different and so loved. Readers come for the complexity of Rhen and Harper and stay for the snarky, hysterical bickering between the two.A fantasy story of a darkly magical school where you graduate or dieAmazon"A Deadly Education" by Naomi Novik, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.41At Scholomance, magically gifted students must survive to graduate — and failure means death. There are no teachers, no breaks, and only two rules: don't walk the halls alone, and beware of the monsters that lurk everywhere. El has no allies, just incredibly strong dark magic that could save her — but might kill all the other students. El's evolution and hilarity during this story plus Novik's thoughtful world-building and extremely diverse cast of characters are what make this a favorite. A fae-centered high fantasyAmazon"The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.9910 years ago, Jude and her sisters were kidnapped after their parents' murder and taken to the land of Faerie, where they are mortal humans amongst fantastical but cruel creatures. In order to belong, Jude must win a place in the high court which will require her to defy the youngest prince. Holly Black (crowned the supreme Faerie-world writer) creates a world so real, you'll forget its magic. A new fantasy duology of a world of enchanted injusticeAmazon"Spellbreaker" by Charlie N. Holmberg, available at Amazon and Bookshop, $8.49There are two kinds of wizards in the world: those who pay for the power to cast spells and those born with the ability to break them. Elise was born a spellbreaker but her gift is a crime. While on a mission to break the enchantments of aristocrats, Elise is discovered and must strike a bargain with an elite wizard to protect herself. It's a fun fantasy mystery with plenty of twists and danger that are sure to keep you intrigued.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 23rd, 2022

A President Betrayed by Bureaucrats: Scott Atlas Exposes The Real COVID Disaster

A President Betrayed by Bureaucrats: Scott Atlas Exposes The Real COVID Disaster Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute, I’m a voracious reader of Covid books but nothing could have prepared me for Scott Atlas’s A Plague Upon Our House, a full and mind-blowing account of the famed scientist’s personal experience with the Covid era and a luridly detailed account of his time at the White House. The book is hot fire, from page one to the last, and will permanently affect your view of not only this pandemic and the policy response but also the workings of public health in general.  Atlas’s book has exposed a scandal for the ages. It is enormously valuable because it fully blows up what seems to be an emerging fake story involving a supposedly Covid-denying president who did nothing vs. heroic scientists in the White House who urged compulsory mitigating measures consistent with prevailing scientific opinion. Not one word of that is true. Atlas’s book, I hope, makes it impossible to tell such tall tales without embarrassment.  Anyone who tells you this fictional story (including Deborah Birx) deserves to have this highly credible treatise tossed in his direction. The book is about the war between real science (and genuine public health), with Atlas as the voice for reason both before and during his time in the White House, vs. the enactment of brutal policies that never stood any chance of controlling the virus while causing tremendous damage to the people, to human liberty, to children in particular, but also to billions of people around the world.  For the reader, the author is our proxy, a reasonable and blunt man trapped in a world of lies, duplicity, backstabbing, opportunism, and fake science. He did his best but could not prevail against a powerful machine that cares nothing for facts, much less outcomes.  If you have heretofore believed that science drives pandemic public policy, this book will shock you. Atlas’s recounting of the unbearably poor thinking on the part of government-based “infectious disease experts” will make your jaw drop (thinking, for example, of Birx’s off-the-cuff theorizing about the relationship between masking and controlling case spreads).  Throughout the book, Atlas points to the enormous cost of the machinery of lockdowns, the preferred method of Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx: missed cancer screenings, missed surgeries, nearly two years of educational losses, bankrupted small business, depression and drug overdoses, overall citizen demoralization, violations of religious freedom, all while public health massively neglected the actual at-risk population in long-term care facilities. Essentially, they were willing to dismantle everything we called civilization in the name of bludgeoning one pathogen without regard to the consequences.  The fake science of population-wide “models” drove policy instead of following the known information about risk profiles. “The one unusual feature of this virus was the fact that children had an extraordinarily low risk,” writes Atlas. “Yet this positive and reassuring news was never emphasized. Instead, with total disregard of the evidence of selective risk consistent with other respiratory viruses, public health officials recommended draconian isolation of everyone.” “Restrictions on liberty were also destructive by inflaming class distinctions with their differential impact,” he writes, “exposing essential workers, sacrificing low-income families and kids, destroying single-parent homes, and eviscerating small businesses, while at the same time large companies were bailed out, elites worked from home with barely an interruption, and the ultra-rich got richer, leveraging their bully pulpit to demonize and cancel those who challenged their preferred policy options.” In the midst of continued chaos, in August 2020, Atlas was called by Trump to help, not as a political appointee, not as a PR man for Trump, not as a DC fixer but as the only person who in nearly a year of unfolding catastrophe had a health-policy focus. He made it clear from the outset that he would only say what he believed to be true; Trump agreed that this was precisely what he wanted and needed. Trump got an earful and gradually came around to a more rational view than that which caused him to wreck the American economy and society with his own hands and against his own instincts.  In Task Force meetings, Atlas was the only person who showed up with studies and on-the-ground information as opposed to mere charts of infections easily downloadable from popular websites. “A bigger surprise was that Fauci did not present scientific research on the pandemic to the group that I witnessed. Likewise, I never heard him speak about his own critical analysis of any published research studies. This was stunning to me. Aside from intermittent status updates about clinical trial enrollments, Fauci served the Task Force by offering an occasional comment or update on vaccine trial participant totals, mostly when the VP would turn to him and ask.” When Atlas spoke up, it was almost always to contradict Fauci/Birx but he received no backing during meetings, only to have many people in attendance later congratulate him for speaking out. Still, he did, by virtue of private meetings, have a convert in Trump himself, but by then it was too late: not even Trump could prevail against the wicked machine he had permissioned into operation.  It’s a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington story but applied to matters of public health. From the outset of this disease panic, policy came to be dictated by two government bureaucrats (Fauci and Birx) who, for some reason, were confident in their control over media, bureaucracies, and White House messaging, despite every attempt by the president, Atlas, and a few others to get them to pay attention to the actual science about which Fauci/Birx knew and care little.  When Atlas would raise doubts about Birx, Jared Kushner would repeatedly assure him that “she is 100% MAGA.” Yet we know for certain that this is not true. We know from a different book on the subject that she only took the position with the anticipation that Trump would lose the presidency in the November election. That’s hardly a surprise; it’s the bias expected from a career bureaucrat working for a deep-state institution. Fortunately, we now have this book to set the record straight. It gives every reader an inside look at the workings of a system that wrecked our lives. If the book finally declines to offer an explanation for the hell that was visited upon us – every day we still ask the question why? – it does provide an accounting of the who, when, where, and what. Tragically, too many scientists, media figures, and intellectuals in general went along. Atlas’s account shows exactly what they signed up to defend, and it’s not pretty.  The cliche that kept coming to mind as I read is “breath of fresh air.” That metaphor describes the book perfectly: blessed relief from relentless propaganda. Imagine yourself trapped in an elevator with stultifying air in a building that is on fire and the smoke gradually seeps in from above. Someone is in there with you and he keeps assuring you that everything is fine, when it is obviously not.  That’s a pretty good description of how I felt from March 12, 2020 and onward. That was the day that President Trump spoke to the nation and announced that there would be no more travel from Europe. The tone in his voice was spooky. It was obvious that more was coming. He had clearly fallen sway to extremely bad advice, perhaps he was willing to push lockdowns as a plan to deal with a respiratory virus that was already widespread in the US from perhaps 5 to 6 months earlier.  It was the day that the darkness descended. A day later (March 13), the HHS distributed its lockdown plans for the nation. That weekend, Trump met for many hours with Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and only a few others. He came around to the idea of shutting down the American economy for two weeks. He presided over the calamitous March 16, 2020, press conference, at which Trump promised to beat the virus through general lockdowns.  Of course he had no power to do that directly but he could urge it to happen, all under the completely delusional promise that doing so would solve the virus problem. Two weeks later, the same gang persuaded him to extend the lockdowns.  Trump went along with the advice because it was the only advice he was fed at the time. They made it appear that the only choice that Trump had – if he wanted to beat the virus – was to wage war on his own policies that were pushing for a stronger, healthier economy. After surviving two impeachment attempts, and beating back years of hate from a nearly united media afflicted by severe derangement syndrome, Trump was finally hornswoggled.  Atlas writes: “On this highly important criterion of presidential management—taking responsibility to fully take charge of policy coming from the White House—I believe the president made a massive error in judgment. Against his own gut feeling, he delegated authority to medical bureaucrats, and then he failed to correct that mistake.” The truly tragic fact that both Republicans and Democrats do not want spoken about is that this whole calamity is that did indeed begin with Trump’s decision. On this point, Atlas writes: Yes, the president initially had gone along with the lockdowns proposed by Fauci and Birx, the “fifteen days to slow the spread,” even though he had serious misgivings. But I still believe the reason that he kept repeating his one question—“Do you agree with the initial shutdown?”—whenever he asked questions about the pandemic was precisely because he still had misgivings about it. Large parts of the narrative are devoted to explaining precisely how and to what extent Trump had been betrayed. “They had convinced him to do exactly the opposite of what he would naturally do in any other circumstance,” Atlas writes, that is  “to disregard his own common sense and allow grossly incorrect policy advice to prevail…. This president, widely known for his signature “You’re fired!” declaration, was misled by his closest political intimates. All for fear of what was inevitable anyway—skewering from an already hostile media. And on top of that tragic misjudgment, the election was lost anyway. So much for political strategists.” There are so many valuable parts to the story that I cannot possibly recount them all. The language is brilliant, e.g. he calls the media “the most despicable group of unprincipled liars one could ever imagine.” He proves that assertion in page after page of shocking lies and distortions, mostly driven by political goals.  I was particularly struck by his chapter on testing, mainly because that whole racket mystified me throughout. From the outset, the CDC bungled the testing part of the pandemic story, attempting to keep the tests and process centralized in DC at the very time when the entire nation was in panic. Once that was finally fixed, months too late, mass and indiscriminate PCR testing became the desiderata of success within the White House. The problem was not just with the testing method: “Fragments of dead virus hang around and can generate a positive test for many weeks or months, even though one is not generally contagious after two weeks. Moreover, PCR is extremely sensitive. It detects minute quantities of virus that do not transmit infection…. Even the New York Times wrote in August that 90 percent or more of positive PCR tests falsely implied that someone was contagious. Sadly, during my entire time at the White House, this crucial fact would never even be addressed by anyone other than me at the Task Force meetings, let alone because for any public recommendation, even after I distributed data proving this critical point.” The other problem is the wide assumption that more testing (however inaccurate) of whomever, whenever was always better. This model of maximizing tests seemed like a leftover from the HIV/AIDS crisis in which tracing was mostly useless in practice but at least made some sense in theory. For a widespread and mostly wild respiratory disease transmitted the way a cold virus is transmitted, this method was hopeless from the beginning. It became nothing but make work for tracing bureaucrats and testing enterprises that in the end only provided a fake metric of “success” that served to spread public panic.  Early on, Fauci had clearly said that there was no reason to get tested if you had no symptoms. Later, that common-sense outlook was thrown out the window and replaced with an agenda to test as many people as possible regardless of risk and regardless of symptoms. The resulting data enabled Fauci/Birx to keep everyone in a constant state of alarm. More test positivity to them implied only one thing: more lockdowns. Businesses needed to close harder, we all needed to mask harder, schools needed to stay closed longer, and travel needed to be ever more restricted. That assumption became so entrenched that not even the president’s own wishes (which had changed from Spring to Summer) made any difference.  Atlas’s first job, then, was to challenge this whole indiscriminate testing agenda. To his mind, testing needed to be about more than accumulating endless amounts of data, much of it without meaning; instead, testing should be directed toward a public-health goal. The people who needed tests were the vulnerable populations, particularly those in nursing homes, with the goal of saving lives among those who were actually threatened with severe outcomes. This push to test, contact trace, and quarantine anyone and everyone regardless of known risk was a huge distraction, and also caused huge disruption in schooling and enterprise.  To fix it meant changing the CDC guidelines. Atlas’s story of attempting to do that is eye-opening. He wrestled with every manner of bureaucrat and managed to get new guidelines written, only to find that they had been mysteriously reverted to the old guidelines one week later. He caught the “error” and insisted that his version prevail. Once they were issued by the CDC, the national press was all over it, with the story that the White House was pressuring the scientists at the CDC in terrible ways. After a week-long media storm, the guidelines changed yet again. All of Atlas’s work was made null.  Talk about discouraging! It was also Atlas’s first full experience in dealing with deep-state machinations. It was this way throughout the lockdown period, a machinery in place to implement, encourage, and enforce endless restrictions but no one person in particular was there to take responsibility for the policies or the outcomes, even as the ostensible head of state (Trump) was on record both publicly and privately opposing the policies that no one could seem to stop.  As an example of this, Atlas tells the story of bringing some massively important scientists to the White House to speak with Trump: Martin Kulldorff, Jay Bhattacharya, Joseph Ladapo, and Cody Meissner. People around the president thought the idea was great. But somehow the meeting kept being delayed. Again and again. When it finally went ahead, the schedulers only allowed for 5 minutes. But once they met with Trump himself, the president had other ideas and prolonged the meeting for an hour and a half, asking the scientists all kinds of questions about viruses, policy, the initial lockdowns, the risks to individuals, and so on.  The president was so impressed with their views and knowledge – what a dramatic change that must have been for him – that he invited filming to be done plus pictures to be taken. He wanted to make it a big public splash. It never happened. Literally. White House press somehow got the message that this meeting never happened. The first anyone will have known about it other than White House employees is from Atlas’s book.  Two months later, Atlas was instrumental in bringing in not only two of those scientists but also the famed Sunetra Gupta of Oxford. They met with the HHS secretary but this meeting too was buried in the press. No dissent was allowed. The bureaucrats were in charge, regardless of the wishes of the president.  Another case in point was during Trump’s own bout with Covid in early October. Atlas was nearly sure that he would be fine but he was forbidden from talking to the press. The entire White House communications office was frozen for four days, with no one speaking to the press. This was against Trump’s own wishes. This left the media to speculate that he was on his deathbed, so when he came back to the White House and announced that Covid is not to be feared, it was a shock to the nation. From my own point of view, this was truly Trump’s finest moment. To learn of the internal machinations happening behind the scenes is pretty shocking.  I can’t possibly cover the wealth of material in this book, and I expect this brief review to be one of several that I write. I do have a few disagreements. First, I think the author is too uncritical toward Operation Warp Speed and doesn’t really address how the vaccines were wildly oversold, to say nothing of growing concerns about safety, which were not addressed in the trials. Second, he seems to approve of Trump’s March 12th travel restrictions, which struck me as brutal and pointless, and the real beginning of the unfolding disaster. Third, Atlas inadvertently seems to perpetuate the distortion that Trump recommended ingesting bleach during a press conference. I know that this was all over the papers. But I’ve read the transcript of that press conference several times and find nothing like this. Trump actually makes clear that he was speaking about cleaning surfaces. This might be yet another case of outright media lies.  All that aside, this book reveals everything about the insanity of 2020 and 2021, years in which good sense, good science, historical precedent, human rights, and concerns for human liberty were all thrown into the trash, not just in the US but all over the world. Atlas summarizes the big picture: “in considering all the surprising events that unfolded in this past year, two in particular stand out. I have been shocked at the enormous power of government officials to unilaterally decree a sudden and severe shutdown of society—to simply close businesses and schools by edict, restrict personal movements, mandate behavior, regulate interactions with our family members, and eliminate our most basic freedoms, without any defined end and with little accountability.” Atlas is correct that “the management of this pandemic has left a stain on many of America’s once noble institutions, including our elite universities, research institutes and journals, and public health agencies. Earning it back will not be easy.”  Internationally, we have Sweden as an example of a country that (mostly) kept its sanity. Domestically, we have South Dakota as an example of a place that stayed open, preserving freedom throughout. And thanks in large part to Atlas’s behind-the-scenes work, we have the example of Florida, whose governor did care about the actual science and ended up preserving freedom in the state even as the elderly population there experienced the greatest possible protection from the virus.  We all owe Atlas an enormous debt of gratitude, for it was he who persuaded the Florida governor to choose the path of focussed protection as advocated by the Great Barrington Declaration, which Atlas cites as the “single document that will go down as one of the most important publications in the pandemic, as it lent undeniable credibility to focused protection and provided courage to thousands of additional medical scientists and public health leaders to come forward.” Atlas experienced the slings, arrows, and worse. The media and the bureaucrats tried to shut him up, shut him down, and body bag him professionally and personally. Cancelled, meaning removed from the roster of functional, dignified human beings. Even colleagues at Stanford University joined in the lynch mob, much to their disgrace. And yet this book is that of a man who has prevailed against them. In that sense, this book is easily the most crucial first-person account we have so far. It is gripping, revealing, devastating for the lockdowners and their vaccine-mandating successors, and a true classic that will stand the test of time. It’s simply not possible to write the history of this disaster without a close examination of this erudite first-hand account.  Tyler Durden Sun, 11/28/2021 - 12:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 28th, 2021

Thinking About Margin Of Safety

If anything, the past few years has reminded us that the future is unknown and events can take turns you would never expect. Businesses have set-backs, economies have downturns and even the best investors make mistakes. Because of this, leaving some room for error makes eminent sense. Almost a century ago, Ben Graham first proposed […] If anything, the past few years has reminded us that the future is unknown and events can take turns you would never expect. Businesses have set-backs, economies have downturns and even the best investors make mistakes. Because of this, leaving some room for error makes eminent sense. Almost a century ago, Ben Graham first proposed the concept of Margin of Safety in his seminal book, ‘Security Analysis.’ Ever since, the term has been indoctrinated into the investing lexicon of the world’s most successful investors. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Warren Buffett Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Warren Buffett in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Like most things investing however, there’s conjecture around what constitutes a ‘Margin of Safety.’ While most investors consider margin of safety in the context of a purchase discount relative to a company’s intrinsic value, others look towards low valuation ratios, avoiding high multiple stocks, seeking a high degree of business quality or a combination thereof. If you subscribe to Buffett’s first rule of investing, ‘Don’t Lose Money,’ then, ‘Don’t buy without a Margin of Safety,’ would seem sensible advice. But how do you achieve it? Should a ‘Margin of Safety’ be applied to all investments? Or to the portfolio as whole? Is it acceptable to invest without a margin of safety? Over the years, my views on Margin of Safety have evolved. Here are some thoughts. Low Ratios A common misconception is that low stock valuation multiples provide a margin of safety. This line of reasoning assumes bad news is already priced in, rendering share prices indifferent to negative developments. Over two decades of experience in markets would have me believe otherwise. A stock purchased on a low multiple doesn’t imply a margin of safety. Screening for low multiple stocks is just as likely to get you caught in ‘value traps’; businesses whose best times are behind them. "If anything, we are less likely to look at something that sells at a low relationship to book than something that sells at a high relationship to book, because the chances are we’re looking at a poor business in the first case and a good business in the second case.” Warren Buffett “Starting with a rank-order valuation screen is more likely to lead you into less than-optimal businesses.” Brian Bares When you own an inferior business, time is working against you - as the underlying value of the business deteriorates. “The investor who spots a price discrepancy in an ordinary business hopes that the share price will promptly rise to the intrinsic value he has estimated. The more time passes, the longer they take to realise the forecast return, and the more exposed they are to uncontrollable risks.” IP Capital If buying low PE stocks were the key to investment success, we’d all be rich. In recent times, limiting yourself to such stocks has meant forgoing many of the best investment opportunities. If you moved to a new city, would you ask the local agent for the names of the cheapest suburbs? Not likely. The same should apply to investing. High Ratios All things being equal, the lower the multiple paid for a business, the better; you’re paying less for the business and there’s less room for the multiple to fall should things not pan out as expected. It doesn’t follow however, that purchasing a stock on a high multiple provides no margin of safety. The first question to ask is, ‘is today’s multiple even relevant?’ and the follow up questions are, ‘what will the earnings be in three to five years time?’ and, ‘what will the multiple be in three to five years time?” Some of the best investment opportunities arise when investors and analysts apply standard industry multiples to near term earnings which are completely anomalous to where a business might be in the future (completely undervaluing the company). In such cases, the near term multiple can be meaningless. Joel Greenblatt made this point in a recent interview: “One of the big mistakes I made was looking at Walmart, seeing what a good business it was thirty years ago. Think about it this way, if you’re looking at the numbers to do with fifty stores but you can see they can have a thousand or two thousand stores, like any of these new internet businesses with an unlimited growth trajectory, the numbers you’re using at fifty stores aren’t very helpful. You might have a model that can expand, but putting a multiple on whatever you’re earning on fifty stores, if you could have 1000 or 2000, of course they’re meaningless. You really have to make some estimates about what the opportunity set is and what the competition will be over a long period of time. Traditionally these have been some of my biggest mistakes of omission. Missing huge opportunities.” Stocks that look optically expensive today can actually be cheap on the basis of future earnings. Rather than disregard multiples altogether, it’s worth trying to establish whether the stock might be on a reasonable multiple in the future. “In 2007, Apple traded at 30x EPS but only 3x 5 years out. The art of growth investing is realising a stock that appears expensive today can be dirt cheap 5-7 years later. Multi-baggers are the source of most outperformance and hide many mistakes.” Philipe Laffonte "It isn’t a multiple of today’s earnings that is the primary determinate of things. We bought our Coca-Cola at a price of $11 a share. And it’ll earn $2.30-$2.40 this year. So, that’s under five times this year’s earnings, but it was a pretty good size multiple back when we bought it." Warren Buffett Even businesses that don’t report profits can provide a Margin of Safety - it all comes down to understanding the specifics of the business; how is value defined? how it is created? what are the potential outcomes? Bill Miller made this point at the 2019 Santa Fe Institute Symposium using Amazon and John Malone’s TCI as examples: “Probably the best example of a misunderstanding of the valuation of anything has been Amazon over its entire history. It was constantly, you know, Baron’s saying, ‘Amazon.bomb,’ and everybody talking about how they don't make any money, they don't make any money, they don't make any money. CBC did a special on it, and one of the things they interviewed me about was Amazon's finances. They start off with, oh, how can you own this thing that doesn't make any money? And I have two answers to that. Number one, John Malone, the great cable investor. I said, if you put one dollar in John's TCI when John became the CEO, and you kept it there for the twenty-five years that one dollar is 900 dollars. And he never reported a profit in twenty-five years. So, something else is going on besides profits and the report of profits. With Amazon, I said, look, there’s a reason that they’re called ‘generally accepted accounting principles,’ and not ‘divinely inspired accounting principles’ or ‘immaculately conceived accounting principles.’ They’re a way to capture a certain type of information for particular kinds of companies that have a particular kind of economics.” The confidence to underwrite the future requires an understanding of the primary drivers that will help ensure a business reaches the anticipated destination. Due to the power of compounding, businesses that can sustain success over decades are often undervalued in spite of an ‘optically-high’ PE ratio. With regards to Walmart, Nick Sleep noted you could have paid 150 times the price in the early years and still earned a ten percent annual return. That’s 150 times the prevailing share price not 150 times earnings! Furthermore, ten years later you could have paid a 150X PE and earned ten percent returns. That really is the magic of compounding. The world’s best investors often confess that selling great businesses because of a high near term multiple has been one of their biggest mistakes. If the destination is intact, stay the course. Discount To Intrinsic Value Generally, the most accepted definition of Margin of Safety relates to a company’s Intrinsic Value; the present value of a business’ future cashflows. Purchasing at a discount to one’s estimate of Intrinsic Value provides the Margin of Safety. While highly subjective, the more predictable a company’s earnings over the long term, the less divergent the estimates of intrinsic value will be, and the more reliable the calculation of a margin of safety. "The concept of a margin of safety is that an investor should purchase a security at a price sufficiently below his estimate of its intrinsic value that he will have protection against permanent loss even if his estimate proves somewhat optimistic.” Ed Wachenheim "We insist on a margin of safety in our purchase price. If we calculate the value of a common stock to be only slightly higher than its price, we're not interested in buying. We believe this margin of safety principle, emphasised by Ben Graham, to be the cornerstone of investment success." Warren Buffett The idea of buying at a discount to intrinsic value is never going to become obsolete. Provided you’ve got the ability to ride out any short term volatility, in time, you’ll be rewarded as the share price converges with intrinsic value. Quality ‘Quality’ is another investing term that’s hard to define; a conservative balance sheet, aligned management, high returns on capital and a track record of success make a good foundation. As regards the future, it’s often the qualitative characteristics that determine performance; a business’ purpose, management, culture, adaptability, innovativeness and the company’s relationships within its ecosystem. Margin of Safety is about ensuring survival, both now and in the future. History has shown high-quality companies tend to weather near-term volatility, crises, corporate mishaps and competitive threats better than lower quality businesses - and go on to prosper in time. “Major capital losses occur mostly when the business suffers irreparable damage. Exceptional companies are, by definition, those best protected against competitors, disruptive technologies, poor governance, and other factors that can destroy value. A portfolio of exceptional companies can be both more concentrated and safer than a portfolio of ordinary companies.” IP Capital “Bad companies are destroyed by crises; good companies survive them; great companies are improved by them.” Andy Grove, Intel The best businesses do things differently, they tend to be the leaders in what they do, they thrive in different environments, they fulfil an important customer demand, they take a longer term view and do things right by their customers, employees, suppliers, community and shareholders. They develop new products, grow markets and have a level of control over their destiny. Investors who own them enjoy a Margin of Safety. “The most important three words in investing, stated by Mr. Graham are: Margin of Safety. What that means to us, is that we are looking at investing in very, very high-quality companies that have great franchises and that have had these great franchises for many years.” David Polen “The best long term margin of safety comes not from an investment’s price but from the value of a company’s sustained competitive advantage over very long periods of time. That’s what quality investing is all about.” Thomas Russo “[Ben Graham] gave the world the concept of margin of safety. We utilise that very much and the margin of safety for us is the quality of each business that we are investing in." Jeff Mueller “The margin of safety is not just in the price you pay, it's also in the quality of the business, it's in the balance sheet of the business and the accounting and also in terms of the quality of top management. When we bought shares of Constellation Software, I don't remember how much we paid but we paid a reasonable valuation, I think 18 or 19 times earnings. To us the real margin of safety was Mark Leonard.” Francois Rochon “When people talk about margin of safety in investing, they usually talk about things that are financial in nature. They talk about asset value or they talk about sustainable return on equity or whatever. I'm much more focused on the nature of business franchise and the replicability of that, and the quality of the people running it.” Steve Mandel "A good business model provides the ultimate margin of safety." Jake Rosser Exceptional businesses compound their capital at high rates over time while inferior businesses tend to compound their disadvantages. Compounding machines are defined by high quality businesses, not cheap price. Portfolio Margin of Safety Where I once looked for a margin of safety in every investment, I now consider Margin of Safety in a portfolio context which allows me to relax the requirements for a small portion of the portfolio. I’m an advocate of the idea that markets are complex adaptive systems; they’re unpredictable, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and they’re subject to non-linear outcomes. Capturing some of that non-linearity may require you to venture into companies with less margin of safety; perhaps the business is yet to hit an inflection point, hasn’t been stress tested by economic cycles, offers a somewhat binomial outcome or the balance sheet isn’t as pristine as one would ordinarily prefer. An investment with the potential to be a multi-bagger might be worth considering in a portfolio context despite a limited ‘Margin of Safety.’ “I confess to finding the Margin of Potential Upside more alluring than the classic Margin of Safety.” James Anderson “If you can lose 100 percent on something, so say an option, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever buy options. Sometimes they’re really interesting and if you can sometimes get to the point of view that even though you can lose 100 percent on a particular investment, it might be an interesting thing to do.” David Abrams “I will invest in companies where the possibility the equity goes to zero has to be recognised as part of the equation – and my record on that front is not spotless. Charlie Munger has talked about how depending on the probabilities you assign to the up and down case, it may be a perfectly reasonable bet to accept the possibility of a zero if your upside is 5x or more. I agree.” Robert Robotti Even Messrs Buffett and Munger have recognised as much. Given the nature of their insurance business, this may come as little surprise. “Charlie and I by nature are pretty risk-averse. But we are very willing to enter into transactions — if we knew it was an honest coin, and someone wanted to give us seven-to-five or something of the sort on one flip, how much of Berkshire’s net worth would we put on that flip? Well it would sound like a big number to you. It would not be a huge percentage of the net worth, but it would be a significant.” Warren Buffett "Mostly, Berkshire, in its history, has bought common stocks that practically couldn’t fail. But occasionally, Berkshire just makes an intelligent gamble where there’s plenty of chance of failure, but there’s enough chance of success so the gamble is worth taking." Charlie Munger A portfolio can provide a Margin of Safety despite a small component having elevated downside risk. An everyday example is index investing. The S&P500 has managed to compound at c.10%pa for the last hundred years in spite of many component companies losing significant value or becoming bankrupt. Buffett has long analogised investing to baseball, but better. There are no strike-outs. Taking that analogy a step further, it’s been noted .. ‘‘Baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you get is four. In the wider world, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs.” That’s certainly true of investing. Baillie Gifford’s James Anderson points to research by Professor Hendrik Bessembinder showing the entire gain in the US stock market since 1926 can be attributable to the best-performing four percent of listed companies (when stated in terms of lifetime dollar wealth creation). One of the most insightful investment papers I’ve ever read is Charlie Munger’s 1996 discussion of Coca-Cola. Here, Munger presents a case study that asks rhetorically how one would go about producing a $2 trillion business from an initial $2m outlay - the focus is very much on the upside rather than the downside. The story encapsulates the incredible asymmetric opportunities that can exist in markets. Searching for these outliers and sizing such positions appropriately can enhance portfolio performance while not exposing the portfolio to an undue level of risk. 'To have a few higher-multiple names is very different than having a weighted average price/sales ratio of 6x or even higher at the whole portfolio level. The air begins to get thin at those altitudes!' Rajiv Jain Dual Margin of Safety Many of the world’s most successful investors have adopted the concept of a ‘dual’ margin of safety - seeking high quality companies at attractive discounts to intrinsic value. “We strive to avoid situations without our cherished dual margin of safety – the quality of business and the price. We need both to counter our inevitable mistakes and unforeseen events.” Christopher Bloomstran “Margin of safety for us comes from the quality of the business and second from buying into it at a substantial discount to our estimate of intrinsic value. Neither is sufficient on its own for us to be interested.” Mark Curnin "The margin of safety in our investment strategy is to identify fundamentally good businesses and adhere to strict valuation discipline." Jeffrey Ubben Summary While a Margin of Safety doesn’t pertain to purchasing low multiple stocks or avoiding high multiple stocks, it can be attained, over the longer term, by holding high quality businesses acquired below their intrinsic value. Unfortunately, little in investing is clear cut and there are plenty of exceptions to the received dogma. Even investments with a low margin of safety can enhance portfolio results if they offer the prospect of highly asymmetric returns, provided the overall portfolio exhibits an appropriate margin of safety. Participating in such highly skewed opportunities might require an evolution in thinking beyond the traditional mantra of value investing; applying the concept of margin of safety to the portfolio as a whole, while relaxing that constraint at the individual stock level. A portfolio comprised primarily of companies exhibiting a dual margin of safety combined with some asymmetric opportunities, appropriately sized, might provide the best of all worlds. Follow us on Twitter : @mastersinvest * NEW * Visit the Blog Archive TERMS OF USE: DISCLAIMER Article by Investment Masters Class Updated on Nov 17, 2021, 2:15 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkNov 17th, 2021

Medical Research Rapidly Adopts "Systemic Racism" As Truth, Risking Scientific Credibility, Part 1

Medical Research Rapidly Adopts "Systemic Racism" As Truth, Risking Scientific Credibility, Part 1 By John Murawski of RealClearInvestigations, Part 1 of 2 Rejection used to be common for medical sociologist Thomas LaVeist when he tried to get his research published on the effects of racism on the health of black people. “Now,” said the 60-year-old dean of Tulane University’s School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, “I have those same journals asking me to write articles for them.” LaVeist’s experience illustrates the dramatic transformation in medical research, accelerating in the past few years. While few would dispute that black Americans are more prone to chronic health problems and have shorter life expectancies than whites, the medical community generally sought answers in biology, genetics and lifestyle. Research, like LaVeist’s, that focused on racism was frowned upon as lacking rigor or relevance, an amateurish detour from serious intellectual inquiry. Thomas LaVeist: His work focused on racism was once frowned upon as lacking rigor or relevance. Not any more. Today medical journal editors are clamoring for a racial lens and apologizing for what they call their past moral blindness. In recent years, and especially since Black Lives Matter protests erupted last year, systemic racism has been transformed from a fringe theory to a canonical truth. Medical researchers are now able to offer a sweeping socio-political explanation for racial health disparities by citing the hundreds of peer-reviewed articles authored by LaVeist and a host of others, thus conferring upon the study of systemic racism the imprimatur of scholarly authority and even settled science. This year, top officials at the National Institutes of Health issued an apology to all who have suffered from structural racism in biomedical research. The NIH, the nation’s largest funder of biomedical research, announced that it is dedicating $90 million to the study of health disparities and structural racism, engaging in more than 60 diversity and inclusion initiatives, and committing “every tool at our disposal to remediate the chronic problem of structural racism.” In an August special issue dedicated to racial health disparities, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association stated that systemic racism is a scientific fact beyond dispute, and disagreeing on this point is “wrong,” “misguided” and “uninformed.” Systemic racism is a reality to be assumed in medical research rather than a sociological hypothesis to be tested by skeptical researchers.  Deemed incontestable, systemic racism provides the political rationale for “dismantling” — in the words of no less an authority than the National Institutes of Health — the social institutions and cultural standards that, according to the framework’s advocates, were constructed and are maintained to uphold white supremacy.  The consequences of ignoring this new prime directive for racially focused research were made abundantly clear this year when the top two editors of JAMA were pressured to resign after the organization ran a podcast that questioned whether systemic racism explains health disparities between blacks and other Americans. “When JAMA sends a call for paper on structural racism, when the NIH director sends out an apology letter for racism in the NIH and when the CDC for the first time uses the term ‘racism,’ these are highest-level determinants of what research will be done in coming years in this country,” said Shervin Assari, an associate professor of family medicine and urban public health at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, one of four historically black medical schools in the nation. Shervin Assari: Now the feds are "paying good money to the best researchers in this country who are competing to understand how structural racism works, rather than if it exists.” “This is the first time the NIH has issued a call for research on structural racism. This is the first time JAMA fires an editor who said something wrong about racism,” said Assari, who has published more than 350 papers on race, social determinants and health equity. “Now NIH is paying good money to the best researchers in this country who are competing to understand how structural racism works, rather than if it exists.” Systemic racism, generally unseen but known by its perceived effects, doesn’t directly cause diabetes, hypertension or depression, but it purportedly creates the living conditions in which chronic conditions opportunistically thrive, advocates say. Such living conditions include unsafe neighborhoods, aggressive policing, substandard schools, discriminatory workplaces, inferior medical care and the resulting stress, despair and self-destructive behavior, the theory states.  To institutionalize its new policy, JAMA is revising its peer review standards and diversifying its ranks to advance health care equity, a term that refers to narrowing or even eliminating racial health disparities in chronic conditions and life expectancies. Similar steps are being adopted throughout the medical profession — by the cluster-hiring of minority applicants, hiring of diversity and equity officers, and training staff on “white privilege,” implicit bias, microaggressions, and allyship. A lead editorial in the August special issue, co-signed by 15 people, including JAMA’s newly installed executive editor and executive managing editor, along with other JAMA leaders, said all medical journals are morally obligated to assume systemic racism as a fact and document this fact in their research. “At this point in the arc of medicine and scientific publication,” JAMA stated, “it is crucial for all journals to fulfill renewed editorial and journal missions that include a heightened and appropriate emphasis on equity and publication of information that addresses structural racism with the goal of overcoming its effects in medicine and health care.” This rapid turn of events has blindsided traditional doctors, who are put off by the intense focus on race and the strong rhetoric. “The spectacle of the gatekeepers of medical publications announcing a political blueprint that medical authors must follow — or else — is pretty breathtaking,” Thomas Huddle, who retired this year as professor at the medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said by email. Thomas Huddle, dissenter: “The medical gatekeepers are in the grip of a moral panic.” “The medical gatekeepers are in the grip of a moral panic,” said Huddle, who has published on medical ethics and edited several medical journals. “The JAMA convulsion over the podcast was positively Maoist in its fervor for achieving moral correctness and purging the impure.” It's an open secret that some find the systemic explanation to be nothing more than leftist polemic, while others are skeptical it convincingly explains everything it claims to explain. These skeptics worry about the career implications of publicly dissenting from the new orthodoxy, but it's not inconceivable that blaming an entire national culture for racial disparities will prompt independent scholars and conservative think tanks to produce opposing research that explores black-on-black murder, racial disparities in IQ testing and other taboo subjects.  The dramatic transformation sweeping through the health care profession is not happening in a vacuum. It mirrors social justice movements committed to exposing structural racism that allegedly pervades education, criminal justice, the arts, hard sciences and other domains of U.S. society. Activists in those fields, as well as medicine, talk of dismantling white supremacy and other “structures” that operate by means of race-neutral laws and colorblind norms that cause racial and gender power imbalances and harm non-white groups. Skeptical physicians say that medical journal editors are essentially replacing the scientific method with a political ideology, namely critical race theory, and leaving little room for alternative explanations — such as personal agency or cultural differences. “There’s a tremendous amount of groupthink,” said Stanley Goldfarb, a former dean for curriculum who taught about kidney disease at the University of Pennsylvania medical school before retiring this summer. “If you don’t agree with all that, you’re a bad person.” “This is an argument that you’re not allowed to have — that’s the problem here,” said Goldfarb, who has served on the editorial boards of three medical journals and was editor-in-chief of a nephrology journal. Racial health disparities underlie the four-year gap in black-white life expectancy in the United States. The factors that contribute to this disparity include chronic conditions, unintentional injuries, suicide and homicide, which is the leading cause of death for black males aged 44 and younger. Scholars committed to the systemic racism explanation blame the disproportionately high crime rates in poor black neighborhoods on discrimination, substandard schools and other manifestations of systemic racism.  The body of research into racial health disparities has broken into the mainstream after establishing credibility through the time-honored system of academic citations and referrals. Since LaVeist began his work in the 1990s, a small stream of articles has swelled into a critical mass that now allows medical researchers to assume systemic racism as a proven fact and cite the evidence in footnotes, as established knowledge, instead of arguing the case each time. “When the weight of the evidence becomes so overwhelming that we reach consensus, we no longer continue to question whether or not [it is true],” LaVeist said. “We don’t question gravity anymore because the consensus is that gravity is a thing.” One of the JAMA articles in the August special issue found that the major health care spending disparity is that whites spend more on dental, pharmaceutical, and outpatient care, while blacks spend more on emergency room and inpatient hospital care, suggesting that black people are more likely to be uninsured and otherwise lack access to routine medical care. Instead of detailing the precise reasons that may explain this gap, the authors invoke previous articles: “There are many mechanisms that have already been identified that explain how structural racism shapes health and healthcare.” In a phone interview, the lead author, Joseph Dieleman, associate professor of health metric sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, said: “These are taken as a given by us. These are not to be debated, or being tested, in our analysis.”  Health Affairs, dubbed by a Washington Post columnist as “the bible of health policy,” is redoubling its focus on systemic racism, anti-racism, and equity, not only in its published content but also in attending to the racial makeup of its published authors and reviewers. “We acknowledge that the dominant voices in our work are those with power and privilege,” Editor-in-Chief Alan Weil wrote in January. “Even as we have dramatically increased the volume of our content focused on equity, the narrative has primarily been written by those in power. We vow to change this.” Weil, who was trained in critical legal theory, a precursor to critical race theory, as a Harvard law student in the 1980s, said in a phone interview that the concepts of merit and quality are often used to maintain power and privilege, and these structures must be examined for bias. “We’re just talking about — forgive the language that is used by the believers — interrogating ourselves,” Weil said. Systemic racism, a core tenet of critical race theory, doesn’t have a settled definition but it has broad applicability. One of the peculiar features of systemic racism is that the mechanism is not evident to those who are not initiated into the theory, but ubiquitous to its acolytes. For best-selling and award-winning author Ibram X. Kendi, whose writings are considered essential reading at some medical schools, any disparity can signify racism. The concept can refer to all manner of disparate outcomes —  in murder rates, arrest rates, life expectancies, education levels, school discipline, household income, standardized tests scores and grades — even in the fact that black people are nowhere to be seen in the corridor portraits of medical school dignitaries and are underrepresented in symphony orchestras. Ibram X Kendi: Any disparity can signify racism. “There is no ‘official’ definition of structural racism,” states a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine.  “All definitions make clear that racism is not simply the result of private prejudices held by individuals, but is also produced and reproduced by laws, rules, and practices, sanctioned and even implemented by various levels of government, and embedded in the economic system as well as in cultural and societal norms.” One line of attack against the status quo is the movement to eliminate long-accepted practices to promote merit and excellence that, according to activists, operate as colorblind mechanisms to produce unequal outcomes: gifted and talented programs, gifted schools, and admissions tests for elite high schools, as well as standardized test scores for university admission. In medicine, the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination test is changing from a graded score to pass/fail to help minority students, while Northwestern University and its Feinberg School of Medicine are promoting diversity by eliminating a six-decade-old Honors Program in Medical Education. Still, the concept provides special challenges for medicine. Unlike bacteria, for instance, systemic racism is an invisible force that can only be measured indirectly, by its perceived effects. Nevertheless, LaVeist is convinced that systemic racism is the best explanation for racial health disparities because the correlation of race and health is consistent across numerous studies for multiple chronic conditions. “We cannot make direct causal inferences. The best we can do is look at plausible causality,” LaVeist said. “What we have is a case where once you’ve ruled out all of the plausible explanations, the only thing left is systemic racism.” LaVeist and Weil agree that health and other disparities can have other causes than systemic racism, and good scholarship should be cognizant of other potential variables. LaVeist said that without allowing for other factors, people of color would have no free will, but it is important to note that African American culture is also shaped by white racism. One of LaVeist’s early co-authored papers that was rejected by several journals before finding a publisher concluded that black people who experience rudeness at the hands of white people have longer life expectancies if they blame systemic racism, or some other external factor, for being treated disrespectfully. An implication of the study: Even if the rude behavior by the white person isn’t caused by racism or an external factor, it’s strategically beneficial for black people to attribute the rudeness to someone else’s racism, boorishness or insensitivity, rather than blaming themselves. “Yes — racism, or some other external attribution,” LaVeist said. “If you make an external attribution, that is going to be healthier than you thinking, ‘Oh they’re right, I am a bad person, I deserve to be mistreated.’” Assari specializes in the study of “diminished returns” in quality of life and health that black people and other marginalized groups experience as they gain education and income in U.S. society. His research contends that black people reap fewer benefits — such as income and health — as they rise in education, compared to white people, which he attributes to structural racism. He has written half of the 300-some academic papers on that subject cited by the National Library of Medicine. He makes connections that would not be self-evident to someone who lacks training in his specialty. One of his recent papers, published in the Journal of Health Economics, says that Americans are less likely to smoke as their income level rises. But that rule doesn’t hold for high-income Chinese Americans, who are more likely to smoke as they generate more income.  So Assari postulates that upwardly mobile Chinese Americans resort to nicotine as a means of coping with the anti-Asian bias they encounter in this country’s elite institutions.   Yet, he also said that even though the anti-racist movement seems invincible now, overweening claims about systemic racism will eventually invite scholarly criticism, especially if equity policies and interventions now being implemented fail to deliver results. “I think there will be a very strong backlash against critical race theory very soon,” Assari said. “I don’t think it is sustainable. And it is falsifiable. So there would be an anti-CRT movement among other group of social scientists.” Nevertheless, Assari said systemic racism is a reliable theoretical framework because it parsimoniously explains the marginalization of many racial groups. “This is one model which explains many of our observations,” Assari said. “A theory is [reliable] when an observation or assumption holds regardless of the context, setting, place, population, design, sample. It is replicated many times across a diverse group of settings, age groups, resources, and outcomes.” LaVeist said segregation, much of it rooted in historical practices such as redlining and Jim Crow, is the primary driver of disparities. Poor neighborhoods are generally more polluted, closer to highways and industrial zones, and have less access to quality restaurants, grocery stores, public schools, and green spaces. Such environments tend to breed despair, which leads to crime and an overly aggressive police response. The constant stress of dealing with these hassles and micro-aggressions wears on the body, research into health disparities says, echoing arguments made by critical race theorists in the 1980s. One medical paper, published in The Lancet in 2017 and cited more than 1,500 times as of November, says that residential segregation is the foundation of structural racism, and notes that “growing research is linking interpersonal racism to various biomarkers of disease and well-being, including allostatic load, inflammatory markers, and hormonal dysregulation.” There are those who say the medical establishment is not going far enough in this research direction. The STAT News health information website reported in September that anti-racism and equity have become so trendy that “white scholars are colonizing research on health disparities.” According to the STAT investigation, white researchers are caught up in “a gold rush mentality” and “rushing to scoop up grants and publish papers.” The white scholars are replicating work done by black researchers without giving sufficient credit, a new form of exploitation practiced by “health equity tourists” and “opportunistic scientific carpetbaggers.” One of the worst offenders: JAMA’s August special issue on health disparities. “Not one of the five research papers published in the issue included a Black lead or corresponding author, and just one lead author was Hispanic,” STAT reported. Weil sympathizes with these concerns and said Health Affairs is creating a mentorship program to help scholars of color get their papers published in the journal. Weil, who said about 5% of submitted papers are accepted for publication at Health Affairs, is confident that dismantling power and privilege won’t necessitate compromising standards of excellence, and he considers such criticisms to be “generally false and intentionally inflammatory.” “Equitable representation should be the outcome of an equitable process, not the jerry-rigged result of a change of standards for one group — that is not where we want to be,” Weil said. “So if the fix here is an equitable outcome by lowering standards for a certain group, our readers will notice, and that’s not the end point I’m looking for.” Weil’s biggest concern is not that the anti-racist movement in medical research will go too far, but that the momentum and resolve will fizzle out. “I think it’s very hard to tell where you are on a swinging pendulum when you’re in the middle of it,” he said. “I am much more concerned that this will become a rote exercise where everyone genuflects to anti-racism but does nothing about it, than I am that this is an overcorrection.” Tyler Durden Fri, 11/12/2021 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 12th, 2021