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: U.K. to propose powers to block London listings on national security grounds

Companies could be blocked from listing on the London Stock Exchange on national security grounds, under new powers being proposed by the U.K. government......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchMay 26th, 2021

Biden Mulls Bold Steps to Curb Chip Shortage: 3 Stocks in Focus

Semiconductor manufacturing firms like Applied Materials (AMAT), Skyworks (SWKS), and Qorvo (QRVO) are likely to hog the limelight in the near future with solid demand trends. An acute shortage of semiconductor chips, which are the building blocks for various electronic gadgets, telecommunication equipment, and automobile manufacturing, has set alarm bells ringing in the higher echelons of the government, prompting the administration to consider using an aggressive stance to address the issue. Despite the best efforts of the Biden administration to increase domestic production, the demand-supply imbalance has virtually crippled operations of various related sectors and largely affected profitability due to inflated equipment prices. The government is now seeking to take the bull by the horn to tackle the worsening situation that has affected thousands of U.S. workers and forced automakers like Toyota Motor Corporation TM and General Motors Company GM to slash output and sales forecast.What Ails the Chip Manufacturing Industry?The global chip shortage has been largely triggered by the COVID-19-led constraints on the supply chain mechanism and increased demand for electronic gadgets due to an uptick in pandemic-induced nesting activities. It was also aggravated by the disruptions in production due to inclement weather conditions and natural catastrophes. Critics further allege that the initial seeds of the chip shortage were sown in 2018 with the imposition of tariffs and restrictions on Beijing by President Trump and that the problem was brewing within.Policy Shift With Change in PowerWhile the Trump administration primarily focused on ‘technology decoupling’, which enforced strict export restrictions based on national security grounds, President Biden seems more inclined toward the "small yard, high fence" strategy. This policy aims to take a more proactive approach in defining technologies that are essential to American national interests and employ stringent protective measures. Instead of an outright trade ban that largely affects the supply-chain mechanism, it intends to identify the source of the bottlenecks behind a product shortage and work in tandem with the industry to fix it so that the business interests of domestic firms are not harmed. In tune with this policy shift, the President had inked an executive order in February 2021 to launch a 100-day review process of the supply chain mechanism to address the global shortage of semiconductor chips and devise ways to increase domestic production while eliminating dependence on China.The government further introduced the Chips for America Act, which aimed to provide $52 billion for semiconductor research and development, as various reports revealed that global semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the United States fell from 37% in 1990 to about 12% at present owing to a dearth of federal investments in chip research. Although the Senate passed the bill in June 2021, the legislation is yet to be approved by the House, likely robbing the beleaguered industry of an opportunity to spearhead innovation and fast-track production facilities.Aggressive Stance in the Making? The chip shortage is leading to panic buying by some OEMs, which, in turn, is escalating prices. This has largely affected the smaller manufacturers that lack the firepower to match higher raw material costs and are forced to either halt production or make way with some relatively weaker substitutes. In order to tide over the storm, the U.S. Commerce Department is currently seeking supply-chain data from industry participants within the next 45 days on a voluntary basis in order to ease production bottlenecks and identify potential pitfalls of chip hoarding. However, companies have reportedly been dragging their feet on handing over this sensitive data, forcing the Biden administration to consider flexing its muscles by invoking the Defense Production Act that could force companies to turn over that information. The defense law vests the President with additional powers to allocate resources and production and might be called into force to bridge the demand-supply gap.3 Semiconductor Chip Manufacturing Firms in FocusAmid such a scenario, semiconductor manufacturing firms are likely to hog the limelight in the near future with continued demand trends fueling solid long-term growth potential. From the list of such firms, we have cherry-picked three stocks with strong fundamentals, carrying either a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Applied Materials, Inc. AMAT: Headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, Applied Materials is one of the world’s largest suppliers of equipment for the fabrication of semiconductor, flat panel liquid crystal displays, and solar photovoltaic cells and modules. The company’s semiconductor business continues to be on the growth trajectory with significant design wins. Moreover, the company's AI Design Forum bodes well for its strong focus toward the development of new computing materials and designs. The industry's transition to 3D NAND is also helping Applied Materials to further expand the served available market. With a long-term earnings growth expectation of 19.4%, the stock delivered an earnings surprise of 8.1%, on average, in the trailing four quarters. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has gained 142.3% over the past year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has been revised 48.4% upward over the past year, and that for the next year is up 46.6%.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchSkyworks Solutions, Inc. SWKS: Headquartered in Irvine, CA, Skyworks manufactures and markets a broad range of high-performance analog and mixed-signal semiconductors that enable wireless connectivity. As demand for mobile Internet applications is exploding with the broad proliferation of smartphones, net books, notebooks, caplets, and other forms of embedded wireless devices and faster pace of 5G deployment, Skyworks continues to gain traction. High quality, environment-friendly products, and sustainable business practices have been the key differentiators for the company. Skyworks is also aggressively expanding into new vertical markets. It has introduced connected-car solutions for prominent Japan-based and Korea-based automotive OEMs along with Daimler. With a long-term earnings growth expectation of 19.4%, the stock delivered an earnings surprise of 21.4%, on average, in the trailing four quarters. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has gained 25.6% over the past year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has been revised 53.2% upward over the past year, and that for the next year is up 48%.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchQorvo, Inc. QRVO: Headquartered in Greensboro, NC, Qorvo is a leading provider of core technologies and radio frequency solutions for mobile, infrastructure, and aerospace/defense applications. With a broad product portfolio, Qorvo is likely to create new growth opportunities and spearhead technological innovation for the overall benefit of carriers and consumers. The company has introduced highly integrated front-end solutions that simplify and accelerate the implementation of multimode, multi-band 4G smartphones and tablets. These new RF Fusion front-end solutions showcase the company's ability to help leading OEMs to quickly launch their next-generation flagship devices. With a long-term earnings growth expectation of 12.7%, the stock delivered an earnings surprise of 14.2%, on average, in the trailing four quarters. This Zacks Rank #1 stock has gained 38.6% over the past year and has a VGM Score of B. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has been revised 47.6% upward over the past year, and that for the next year is up 35.4%.Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Toyota Motor Corporation (TM): Free Stock Analysis Report Skyworks Solutions, Inc. (SWKS): Free Stock Analysis Report Applied Materials, Inc. (AMAT): Free Stock Analysis Report General Motors Company (GM): Free Stock Analysis Report Qorvo, Inc. (QRVO): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Canada Blocks China-Led Deal for Construction Firm

Canada’s Liberal government said it would block a nearly billion-dollar deal led by China’s of CCCC International to buy Toronto-based Aecon Group on national-security grounds......»»

Category: topSource: wsjMay 23rd, 2018

The Wall Street Journal: Canada blocks Chinese bid for construction company, citing national security

Canada’s Liberal government said Wednesday that it would block a nearly billion-dollar Chinese-led deal for a construction company on national-security grounds.....»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchMay 23rd, 2018

Trump moves to block China Mobile"s U.S. entry on national security grounds

(Reuters) - The U.S. government moved on Monday to block China Mobile Ltd from offering services to the U.S. telecommunications market, recommending its application be rejected because the government-owned firm posed national security risks......»»

Category: topSource: reutersJul 2nd, 2018

Trump moves to block China Mobile from U.S.

The U.S. government has moved to block China Mobile from offering services to the American telecommunications market, recommending its application be rejected on grounds of national security. Grace Lee reports......»»

Category: videoSource: reutersJul 3rd, 2018

UK to ramp up powers to block takeovers by foreign companies

The British government plans to expand its powers to block takeovers by foreign companies that pose national security concerns......»»

Category: topSource: foxnewsJul 24th, 2018

UK cracks down on foreign investment to protect national security

Foreign takeovers of UK companies will be subject to additional scrutiny under a government proposal that makes it easier to block deals on national security grounds......»»

Category: topSource: cnnJul 24th, 2018

The "Great Game" Moves On

The 'Great Game' Moves On Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Following America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, her focus has switched to the Pacific with the establishment of a joint Australian and UK naval partnership. The founder of modern geopolitical theory, Halford Mackinder, had something to say about this in his last paper, written for the Council on Foreign Relations in 1943. Mackinder anticipated this development, though the actors and their roles at that time were different. In particular, he foresaw the economic emergence of China and India and the importance of the Pacific region. This article discusses the current situation in Mackinder’s context, taking in the consequences of green energy, the importance of trade in the Pacific region, and China’s current deflationary strategy relative to that of declining western powers aggressively pursuing asset inflation. There is little doubt that the world is rebalancing as Mackinder described nearly eighty years ago. To appreciate it we must look beyond the West’s current economic and monetary difficulties and the loss of its hegemony over Asia, and particularly note the improving conditions of the Asia’s most populous nations. Introduction Following NATO’s defeat in the heart of Asia, and with Afghanistan now under the Taliban’s rule, the Chinese/Russian axis now controls the Asian continental mass. Asian nations not directly related to its joint hegemony (not being members, associates, or dialog partners of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) are increasingly dependent upon it for trade and technology. Sub-Saharan Africa is in its sphere of influence. The reality for America is that the total population in or associated with the SCO is 57% of the world population. And America’s grip on its European allies is slipping. NATO itself has become less relevant, with Turkey drawn towards the rival Asian axis, and its EU members are compromised through trading and energy links with Russia and China. Furthermore, France is pushing the EU towards establishing its own army independent of US-led NATO — quite what its role will be, other than political puffery for France is a mystery. It is against this background that three of the Five Eyes intelligence partnership have formed AUKUS – standing for Australia, UK, and US — and its first agreement is to give Australia a nuclear submarine capability to strengthen the partnership’s naval power in the Pacific. Other capabilities, chiefly aimed at containing the Chinese threat to Taiwan and other allies in the Pacific Ocean, will surely emerge in due course. The other two Five Eyes, Canada and New Zealand, appear to be less keen to confront China. But perhaps they will also have less obvious roles in due course beyond pure intelligence gathering. The US, under President Trump, had failed to contain China’s increasing economic dominance and its rapidly developing technological challenge to American supremacy. Trump’s one success was to peel off the UK from its Cameron/Osbourne policy of strengthening trade and financial ties with China by threatening the UK’s important role in its intelligence partnership with the US. For the UK, the challenge came at a critical time. Brexit had happened, and the UK needed global partners for its future trade and geopolitical strategies, the latter needed to cement its re-emergence onto the world stage following Brexit. Trump held out the carrot of a fast-tracked US/UK trade deal. The Swiss alternative of neutrality in international affairs is not in the UK’s DNA, so realistically the decision was a no-brainer: the UK had to recommit itself entirely to the Anglo-Saxon Five-Eyes partnership with the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and turn its back on China. But gathering intelligence and building naval power in the Pacific won’t defeat the Chinese. All simulations show that the US, with or without AUKUS, cannot win a military conflict against China. But AUKUS is not a formal model on NATO lines which commits its members by treaty to aggression against a common enemy. While Taiwan remains a specific problem, the objective is almost certainly to discourage China from territorial expansion and protect and give other Pacific nations on the Asian periphery the security to be independent from the SCO behemoth. The trade benefits of closer relationships with these independent nations are also an additional reason for the UK to join the CPTPP — the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It qualifies for membership through its sovereignty over the Pitcairn Islands. And that is why China has also applied to join. Therefore, AUKUS’s importance is in the signal sent to China and the whole Pacific region, following the abandonment of land-based operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The maritime threat to China is a line which must not be crossed. We are entering a new era in the Great Game, where the objective has changed from dominance to containment. Having lost its position of ultimate control in the Eurasian land mass America has selected its partners to retain control over the high seas. And the UK has found a new geopolitical purpose, re-establishing a global role now that it is independent from the EU. The French cannot join the CPTPP being bound into the common trade policies of the EU. Seeing the British escape the strictures of the EU and rapidly obtain more global influence than France could dream of has touched a raw nerve. Mackinder vindicated The father of geopolitics, Halford Mackinder, is frequently quoted and his theories are still relevant to the current situation. Much has been written about Mackinder’s prophecies. His concept of the World Island was first mentioned in his 1904 presentation to the Royal Geographic Society in London: “a pivot state, resulting in its expansion over the marginal lands of Euro-Asia”. In 1943 he updated his views in an article for the Council on Foreign Relations, adding to his heartland theory. Written during the Second World War, his commentary reflected the combatants and their positions at that time. But despite this, he made a perceptive comment relative to the situation today and AUKUS: “Were the Chinese for instance organised by the Japanese to overthrow the Russian Empire and conquer its territory they might constitute the yellow peril to the world’s freedom just because they would add an oceanic frontage to the resources of the great continent.” When Mackinder wrote his article the Japanese had already invaded Manchuria, but their subsequent defeat removed them from an active geopolitical role, and in place of a Soviet defeat China has entered a peaceful partnership with Russia that extends to all its old Central Asian soviet satellites. It is the focus on the ocean frontage that matters, upon which the maritime silk road depends. The article brings into play another aspect mentioned by Mackinder, and that is the Heartland’s tremendous natural resources, “…including enough coal in the Kuznetsk and Krasnoyarsk basins capable of supplying the requirements of the whole world for 300 years”. And: “In 1938 Russia produced more of the following food stuffs than any other country in the world: wheat, barley, oats, rye, and sugar beets. More manganese was produced in Russia than in any other country. It was bracketed with United States in the first place as regards iron and it stood second place in production of petroleum”. Through its partnership with Russia all these latent resources are available to the Chinese and Russian partnership. And the real potential for industrialisation, held back by communism and now by Russian corruption, has barely commenced. After presciently noting that one day the Sahara may become the trap for capturing direct power from the sun (foreseeing solar panels), Mackinder’s article ended on an optimistic note: “A thousand million people of ancient oriental civilisation inhabit the monsoon lands of India and China [today 3 billion, including Pakistan]. They must grow to prosperity in the same years in which Germany and Japan are being tamed to civilisation. They will then balance that other thousand million who live between the Missouri and the Yenisei [i.e., Central and Eastern America, Britain, Europe and Russia beyond the Urals]. A balanced globe of human beings and happy because balanced and thus free.” Both China and now India are rapidly industrialising, becoming part of a balanced globe of humanity. While the West tries to hang on to what it has got rather than progressing, China and India along with all of under-developed Asia are moving rapidly in the direction of individual freedom of economic choice and improvements in living conditions, to which Mackinder was referring. Obviously, there is some way for this process yet to go, displacing western hegemony in the process. America particularly has found the political challenges of change difficult, with its deep state unable to come to terms easily with the implications for its military and economic power. We must hope that Mackinder was right, and the shift of economic power is best to be regarded as the pains of geopolitical evolution rather than conditions for escalating conflict. But in pursuing its green agenda and eschewing carbon fuels, the West is unwittingly handing a gift to Mackinder’s Heartland, because despite diplomatic noises to the contrary China, India and all the SCO membership will continue to use cheap coal, gas, and oil which Asia has in abundance while Western manufacturers are forced by their governments to use expensive and less reliable green energy. Green obsessions and global trade Meanwhile, the West has gone green-crazy. Banning fossil fuels without there being adequate replacements must be a new definition of insanity, for which the current fuel crises in Europe attest. With over 95% of European logistics currently being shifted by diesel power, switching to battery power or hydrogen by 2030 by banning sales of new internal combustion engine vehicles is a hostage to fortune. While it is hardly mentioned, presumably the Western powers think that by banning carbon fuels they will take the wind out of Russia’s energy quasi-monopoly, because including gas Russia is the largest exporter of fossil fuels in the world. Instead, the West is creating an energy shortage for itself, a point driven home by Gazprom withholding gas flows through its pipelines to Europe, thereby driving up Europe’s energy costs sharply and ensuring a far more severe energy crisis this winter. Even if Russia turns on the taps tomorrow, there is insufficient gas storage in reserve for the winter months. And Europe and the UK have got ahead of themselves by decommissioning coal and gas-fired electricity. In the UK, a massive undersea gas storage facility off the Yorkshire coast has been closed, leaving precious little national storage capacity. As we have seen with the post-covid supply chain chaos, energy problems will not only become acute this winter, but are likely to persist through much of next year. And even that assumes Russia relents and moderates its energy stance to European customers. By way of contrast, though its partnership with Russia China is gifted unlimited access to all carbon fuels. She is still building coal-fired electricity power stations at an extraordinary rate — according to a BBC report there are 61 new ones being commissioned. A further 51 outside China are planned. As a sop to the West China has only said she won’t finance any more outside her territory. And India relies on coal for over two-thirds of its electrical energy. While Europe and America through their green obsessions are denying themselves the availability and technologies that go with carbon fuels, the Russian/Chinese axis will continue to reap the full benefits. The West’s response is likely to be to decry Chinese pollution and its contribution to global warming, but realistically there is little it can do. Demand for Chinese-manufactured goods will continue because China now has a quasi-monopoly on global manufacturing for export. In the unlikely event western consumers become avid savers while their governments continue to run massive budget deficits, their trade deficits will rise even more, allowing Chinese exporters to increase prices for consumers and intermediate goods without losing export sales. While there is nothing it can do about China’s production methods, AUKUS members will undoubtedly lean on other exporting CPTPP members to comply with global green policies. But they will be competing with China, and while they may pay lip service to the climate change agenda, in practice they are unlikely to implement it without holding out for unrealistic subsidies from the western nations driving the climate change agenda. Under current circumstances, it seems unlikely that China’s CPTPP application will lead to membership, given the CPTPP requirement for China’s central government to relinquish ownership of its SOEs and to permit the free flow of data across its borders. In any event, China is focused on developing its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement with ratification signed so far by China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. It will come into effect when ratified by ten out of the fifteen signatories, likely to be in the first half of 2022, and in terms of population will be two and a half times the size of the EU and the US/Mexico/Canada (USMCA) trade agreements combined. With four out of five of the signatories being American allies, RCEP demonstrates that the AUKUS defence partnership is an entirely separate issue from trade. While the US may not like it, if RCEP goes ahead freer trade will almost certainly undermine a belligerent stance in due course. Despite hiccups, the progression of trade dealing in the Pacific region promises to prove Mackinder right about the prospect of a more balanced world. All being well and guaranteed by a balance of naval capabilities between AUKUS and China, a free-trading Pacific region will render the European and American trade protectionist policies an anachronism. But the threat is now from another direction: financial instability, with western nations pulling in one direction and China in another. Since the Lehman collapse and the ensuing financial crisis, China has been careful to prevent financial bubbles. Figure 1 shows that the Shanghai Composite Index has risen 82% since 2008, while the S&P500 rose 430%. While the US has seen financial asset values driven by a combination of QE and investor speculation, these factors are absent and discouraged in China. Government debt to GDP is about half that of the US. It is true that industrial debt is high, like that of the US. But the difference is that in China debt is more productive while in America there has been a growing preponderance of debt zombies, only kept solvent by zero interest rate policies. China’s policy of ensuring that the expansion of bank credit is invested in production and not speculation differs fundamentally from the US approach, which is to deliberately inflate financial assets to perpetuate a wealth effect. China avoids the destabilising potential of speculative flows unwinding because it lays the economy open to the possibility that America will use financial instability to undermine China’s economy. In a speech to the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee in April 2015, Major-General Qiao Liang, the People’s Liberation Army strategist, identified a cycle of dollar weakness against other currencies followed by strength, which first inflated debt in foreign countries and then bankrupted them. Qiao argued it was a deliberate American policy and would be used against China. In his words, it was time for America to “harvest” China. Drawing on Chinese intelligence reports, in early 2014 he was made aware of American involvement in the “Occupy Central” movement in Hong Kong. After several delays, the Fed announced the end of QE the following September which drove the dollar higher, and “Occupy Central” protests broke out the following month. To Qiao the two events were connected. By undermining the dollar/yuan rate and provoking riots, the Americans had tried to crash China’s economy. Within six months the Shanghai stock market began to collapse with the SSE Composite Index falling from 5,160 to 3,050 between June and September 2015. One cannot know for certain if Qiao’s analysis was correct, but one can understand the Chinese leadership’s continued caution based upon it. For this and other reasons, the Chinese leadership is extremely wary of having dollar liabilities and the accumulation of unproductive, speculative money in the economy. It justifies their strict exchange control regime, whereby dollars are not permitted to circulate in China, and all inward capital flows are turned into yuan by the PBOC. Furthermore, domestic monetary policy appears deliberately different from that of America and other western nations. While everyone else has been inflating their way through covid, China has been restricting domestic credit expansion and curtailing shadow banking. The discount rate is held up at 2.9% with market rates slightly lower at 2.2%, and the only reason it is that low is because alternative dollar rates are at zero and EU and Japanese rates are negative. It is this restrictive monetary policy that has led to the current crisis in property developers, with the very public difficulties of Evergrande. Far from being a surprise event, with cautious monetary policies it could have been easily foreseen. Moreover, the government has a sensible policy of not rescuing private sector businesses in trouble, though it is likely to take steps to limit financial contagion. In their glass houses, Western critics continually throw stones at China. But at least her policy makers have attempted to avoid contributing to the global inflation cycle. With prices beginning to rise at an accelerating pace in western currencies, a new global financial crash is in the making. China and her SCO cohort would be adversely affected, but not to the same extent. The fruits of China’s policies of restricting credit expansion are showing in the commodity prices she pays, which in her own currency have increased by ten per cent less than for dollar-based competition, judging by the exchange rate movements since the Fed reduced its funds rate to the zero bound and instigated monthly QE of $120bn on 19-23 March 2020 (see Figure 2). And while both currencies have moved broadly sideways since January, there is little doubt that the fundamentals point to an even stronger yuan and weaker dollar. The domestic benefits of a relatively stronger yuan outweigh the margin compression suffered by China’s exporters. It is worth noting that as well as moderating credit demand, China is attempting to increase domestic consumer spending at the expense of the savings rate, so consumer demand will begin to matter more than exports to producers. It is in line with a long-term objective of China becoming less dependent on exports, and exporters will benefit from domestic sales growth instead. Furthermore, with China dominating global exports of intermediate and consumer goods and while western budget deficits are increasing and leading to yet greater trade deficits, Chinese exporters should be able to secure higher prices anyway. There can be little doubt that the budget deficits financed by monetary inflation in America, the EU, Japan and the UK, plus central bank stimulus packages are now undermining the purchasing power of all the major currencies. The consequences for their purchasing powers are now becoming apparent and attempts to calm markets and consumers by describing them as transient cuts little ice. In terms of their purchasing powers, these currencies are now in a race to the bottom. Not only are the costs of production rising sharply, but following a brief pause of three months, commodity and energy prices look set to rise sharply. Figure 3 shows the Invesco commodity tracker, which having almost doubled since March 2020 now appears to be attempting a break out on the upside. Since global competitiveness is no longer a priority, China would be sensible to let its yuan exchange rate rise against western currencies to help keep a lid on domestic prices and costs. It is, after all, a savings driven economy, with the sustainable characteristics of a strong currency relative to the dollar. Conclusions Having failed in their land-based military objectives, America’s undeclared tariff and financial wars against China are also coming to an end, to be replaced by a policy of maritime containment through the AUKUS partnership. Attempts to stem strategic losses in Asia have now ended with the withdrawal from Afghanistan and from other interventions.The change in geopolitical policy is not yet widely appreciated. But the parlous state of US finances, dollar market bubbles, persistent and increasing price inflation and the inevitability of interest rate increases will make a policy backstop of maritime containment the only geostrategic option left to America. By pursuing more cautious monetary policies, China is less exposed to the inevitable consequences of global monetary inflation. While yuan currency rates are managed instead of set by markets, it is now in China’s interest to see a stronger yuan to contain domestic price and cost inflation. Even though fiat currencies could be destroyed by imploding asset bubbles, these factors contribute to a set of circumstances that appear to lead to a more peaceable outcome for the world than appeared likely before America and NATO withdrew from Afghanistan. There’s many a slip between cup and lip; but it was an outcome forecast by Halford Mackinder nearly eighty years ago. Let us hope he was right. Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 08:10.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nyt17 hr. 21 min. ago

A Proud Boys member and FBI informant was texting his handler during the January 6 Capitol riot, report says

The informant was texting the FBI updates as the pro-Trump mob entered the Capitol, but his handler didn't appear to understand it was breached. Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they push barricades to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images A member of the far-right Proud Boys and FBI informant was texting his handler during the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, The New York Times reported. The FBI was investigating at least two other January 6 rioters with potential ties to the Proud Boys, according to the report. The records appear to show the FBI had advanced knowledge that Proud Boys members were headed toward the Capitol. See more stories on Insider's business page. A member of the Proud Boys who was working as an FBI informant was present at the January 6 riot at the US Capitol and sent his FBI handler live updates by text message, indicating the law enforcement agency had real-time knowledge that a pro-Trump mob was headed toward the building.According to a report published Saturday by The New York Times, the informant was updating his handler as the pro-Trump mob marched toward the US Capitol 6 while lawmakers were meeting inside to discuss and certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.The informant, who was associated with the Midwestern chapter of the organization, told the FBI that members of the Proud Boys were following the mob but maintained the group didn't have plans to attack the US Capitol.The informant described meeting up with other members of the Proud Boys at the Washington Monument on the morning of January 6 before they moved to the Capitol, records show, according to the Times. The informant described seeing barriers knocked over and Trump supporters entering the building. The handler didn't appear to understand that the Capitol had been breached, according to the records obtained by the Times. The records were provided to the outlet on the grounds it would not quote directly from them, according to the report.The informant began working with federal investigators in July 2020, records said, according to the Times.The records do not indicate whether the informant could've intentionally misled federal investigators, according to the report. The informant's statements pose difficulties for federal prosecutors who aim to make the case that rioters at the capitol associated with the Proud Boys in advance planned to storm the building.Prosecutors have filed conspiracy charges against 15 members of the Proud Boys relating to the January 6 riot, The Times noted. In total, at least 654 people have faced charges related to their participation in the January 6 riot, according to an Insider database. The FBI was investigating at least two other people involved in the January 6 riot who may have been connected to the Proud Boys, according to the report.A person familiar with the situation told The New York Times the FBI had another informant present on January 6 who was affiliated with another chapter of the Proud Boys."While the F.B.I.'s standard practice is not to discuss its sources and methods, it is important to understand that sources provide valuable information regarding criminal activity and national security matters," the FBI told The New York Times in a statement.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 25th, 2021

Freedom From Fear: Stop Playing The Government"s Mind Games

Freedom From Fear: Stop Playing The Government's Mind Games Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.” - Edward R. Murrow, broadcast journalist America is in the midst of an epidemic of historic proportions. The contagion being spread like wildfire is turning communities into battlegrounds and setting Americans one against the other. Normally mild-mannered individuals caught up in the throes of this disease have been transformed into belligerent zealots, while others inclined to pacifism have taken to stockpiling weapons and practicing defensive drills. This plague on our nation - one that has been spreading like wildfire - is a potent mix of fear coupled with unhealthy doses of paranoia and intolerance, tragic hallmarks of the post-9/11 America in which we live and the constantly shifting crises that keep the populace in a state of high alert. Everywhere you turn, those on both the left- and right-wing are fomenting distrust and division. You can’t escape it. We’re being fed a constant diet of fear: fear of a virus, fear of the unmasked, fear of terrorists, fear of illegal immigrants, fear of people who are too religious, fear of people who are not religious enough, fear of extremists, fear of the government, fear of those who fear the government. The list goes on and on. The strategy is simple yet effective: the best way to control a populace is through fear and discord. Fear makes people stupid. Confound them, distract them with mindless news chatter and entertainment, pit them against one another by turning minor disagreements into major skirmishes, and tie them up in knots over matters lacking in national significance. Most importantly, divide the people into factions, persuade them to see each other as the enemy and keep them screaming at each other so that they drown out all other sounds. In this way, they will never reach consensus about anything and will be too distracted to notice the police state closing in on them until the final crushing curtain falls. This is how free people enslave themselves and allow tyrants to prevail. This Machiavellian scheme has so ensnared the nation that few Americans even realize they are being manipulated into adopting an “us” against “them” mindset. Instead, fueled with fear and loathing for phantom opponents, they agree to pour millions of dollars and resources into political elections, militarized police, spy technology, endless wars, COVID-19 mandates, etc., hoping for a guarantee of safety that never comes. All the while, those in power—bought and paid for by lobbyists and corporations—move their costly agendas forward, and “we the suckers” get saddled with the tax bills and subjected to pat downs, police raids and round-the-clock surveillance. Turn on the TV or flip open the newspaper on any given day, and you will find yourself accosted by reports of government corruption, corporate malfeasance, militarized police, marauding SWAT teams, and egregious assaults on the rights of the citizenry. America has already entered a new phase, one in which communities are locked down, employees are forced to choose between keeping their jobs or exercising their freedoms, children are arrested in schools, military veterans are forcibly detained by government agents, and law-abiding Americans are finding their movements tracked, their financial transactions documented and their communications monitored. These threats are not to be underestimated. Yet even more dangerous than these violations of our basic rights is the language in which they are couched: the language of fear. It is a language spoken effectively by politicians on both sides of the aisle, shouted by media pundits from their cable TV pulpits, marketed by corporations, and codified into bureaucratic laws that do little to make our lives safer or more secure. Fear, as history shows, is the method most often used by politicians to increase the power of government. So far, these tactics are working. An atmosphere of fear permeates modern America. Each successive crisis in recent years (a COVID-19 pandemic, terrorism, etc.)—manufactured or legitimate—has succeeded in reducing the American people to what commentator Dan Sanchez refers to as “herd-minded hundreds of millions [who] will stampede to the State for security, bleating to please, please be shorn of their remaining liberties.” Sanchez continues: “I am not terrified of the terrorists; i.e., I am not, myself, terrorized. Rather, I am terrified of the terrorized; terrified of the bovine masses who are so easily manipulated by terrorists, governments, and the terror-amplifying media into allowing our country to slip toward totalitarianism and total war… “I do not irrationally and disproportionately fear Muslim bomb-wielding jihadists or white, gun-toting nutcases. But I rationally and proportionately fear those who do, and the regimes such terror empowers. History demonstrates that governments are capable of mass murder and enslavement far beyond what rogue militants can muster. Industrial-scale terrorists are the ones who wear ties, chevrons, and badges. But such terrorists are a powerless few without the supine acquiescence of the terrorized many. There is nothing to fear but the fearful themselves… “Stop swallowing the overblown scaremongering of the government and its corporate media cronies. Stop letting them use hysteria over small menaces to drive you into the arms of tyranny, which is the greatest menace of all.” As history makes clear, fear leads to fascistic, totalitarian regimes. It’s a simple enough formula. National crises, global pandemics, reported terrorist attacks, and sporadic shootings leave us in a constant state of fear. Fear prevents us from thinking. The emotional panic that accompanies fear actually shuts down the prefrontal cortex or the rational thinking part of our brains. In other words, when we are consumed by fear, we stop thinking. A populace that stops thinking for themselves is a populace that is easily led, easily manipulated and easily controlled. The following are a few of the necessary ingredients for a fascist state: The government is managed by a powerful leader (even if he or she assumes office by way of the electoral process). This is the fascistic leadership principle (or father figure). The government assumes it is not restrained in its power. This is authoritarianism, which eventually evolves into totalitarianism. The government ostensibly operates under a capitalist system while being undergirded by an immense bureaucracy. The government through its politicians emits powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. The government has an obsession with national security while constantly invoking terrifying internal and external enemies. The government establishes a domestic and invasive surveillance system and develops a paramilitary force that is not answerable to the citizenry. The government and its various agencies (federal, state, and local) develop an obsession with crime and punishment. This is overcriminalization. The government becomes increasingly centralized while aligning closely with corporate powers to control all aspects of the country’s social, economic, military, and governmental structures. The government uses militarism as a center point of its economic and taxing structure. The government is increasingly imperialistic in order to maintain the military-industrial corporate forces. The parallels to modern America are impossible to ignore. “Every industry is regulated. Every profession is classified and organized,” writes Jeffrey Tucker. “Every good or service is taxed. Endless debt accumulation is preserved. Immense doesn’t begin to describe the bureaucracy. Military preparedness never stops, and war with some evil foreign foe, remains a daily prospect.” For the final hammer of fascism to fall, it will require the most crucial ingredient: the majority of the people will have to agree that it’s not only expedient but necessary. In times of “crisis,” expediency is upheld as the central principle—that is, in order to keep us safe and secure, the government must militarize the police, strip us of basic constitutional rights and criminalize virtually every form of behavior. Not only does fear grease the wheels of the transition to fascism by cultivating fearful, controlled, pacified, cowed citizens, but it also embeds itself in our very DNA so that we pass on our fear and compliance to our offspring. It’s called epigenetic inheritance, the transmission through DNA of traumatic experiences. For example, neuroscientists have observed how quickly fear can travel through generations of mice DNA. As The Washington Post reports: In the experiment, researchers taught male mice to fear the smell of cherry blossoms by associating the scent with mild foot shocks. Two weeks later, they bred with females. The resulting pups were raised to adulthood having never been exposed to the smell. Yet when the critters caught a whiff of it for the first time, they suddenly became anxious and fearful. They were even born with more cherry-blossom-detecting neurons in their noses and more brain space devoted to cherry-blossom-smelling. The conclusion? “A newborn mouse pup, seemingly innocent to the workings of the world, may actually harbor generations’ worth of information passed down by its ancestors.” Now consider the ramifications of inherited generations of fears and experiences on human beings. As the Post reports, “Studies on humans suggest that children and grandchildren may have felt the epigenetic impact of such traumatic events such as famine, the Holocaust and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, fear, trauma and compliance can be passed down through the generations. Fear has been a critical tool in past fascistic regimes, and it now operates in our contemporary world—all of which raises fundamental questions about us as human beings and what we will give up in order to perpetuate the illusions of safety and security. In the words of psychologist Erich Fromm: [C]an human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love—that is to say, can man forget he is human? Or does human nature have a dynamism which will react to the violation of these basic human needs by attempting to change an inhuman society into a human one? Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

Senate Republicans are on the verge of backing a default on the national debt

The GOP wants to force Democrats to raise the debt ceiling alone, but there's no guarantee Democrats can pull it off. The stakes are economic chaos. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, accompanied by Senate Minority Whip Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, left, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., June 8, 2021, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP Senate Republicans are poised to block a measure aimed at avoiding default sometime early next week. The economic impact of a default could be severe, with abrupt halts to aid programs like Social Security. A Democratic-only debt hike could take at least two weeks, and there's no guarantee they can pull it off alone. See more stories on Insider's business page. Senate Republicans are poised to vote to block a measure aimed at averting a government shutdown and a debt default, after it recently cleared the House.It threatens to end with the government shuttered during a pandemic and bring the US another step closer to economic chaos.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is making it clear that Republicans won't lend support to lifting the borrowing cap, even though he and most Republicans say it's necessary to renew the US's ability to pay its bills. The Treasury Department is currently keeping debt payments flowing, but the agency's special powers will be depleted sometime in the next month. After that, the US would default.Since July, McConnell has maintained that Democrats have the ability to lift the debt ceiling on their own to cover the cost of their pending $3.5 trillion social spending plan. On Thursday, he called "laughable" the notion that it's too late for Democrats to address debt limit hike on their own."This could not be simpler," he said from the Senate floor. "If they want to tax, borrow, and spend historic sums of money without our input, they'll have to raise the debt limit without our help."The Kentucky Republican's argument ignores that increasing the borrowing limit also deals with paying the bills for past spending. Republicans and Democrats added a hefty $8 trillion onto the national debt under President Donald Trump, a product of budget deals, GOP-led tax cuts and multiple economic rescue packages. That spending was also widely acclaimed for keeping many households and businesses afloat, and sustaining the American economy during a historic sudden freeze in business activity.Lifting the debt ceiling also doesn't approve new federal spending. It merely authorizes the government to pay back what it already owes.The economic impact of a default could be severe. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned of seniors missing out on Social Security checks, US soldiers going without pay, and an abrupt halt in child tax credit payments.A recent analysis from Moody's Analytics indicated that the economy could shed 6 million jobs in the event of a default, nearly doubling the current unemployment rate to roughly 9%.House Budget Chair John Yarmuth of Kentucky said Monday evening he believed a Democratic-only debt-limit hike could be achieved in "at least" two weeks. But in a statement to Insider on Wednesday, Yarmuth's position shifted and he said "parliamentary obstacles" blocked Democrats from completing the process as a standalone measure."If Democrats pushed hard on the gas pedal and they wanted to do it as quickly as they could, Yarmuth's two-week estimate is right," Zach Moller, economic program director at the center-left think tank Third Way, told Insider. "But part of the problem here is we don't know when the actual X-date is, the date we default on the debt."A Democratic-only debt-limit hike could be an arduous, time-consuming process with no guarantee of success as the nation inches closer to default. Among those steps include completing a pair of marathon sessions known as vote-a-ramas - made even trickier for Democrats as they'd have to approve the measure in both the House and Senate with their razor-thin majorities.Senate Democrats are not straying from arguing any debt limit increase must be bipartisan ahead of a likely vote next week. But faced with GOP resistance, some House Democrats are beginning to urge unilateral action, CNN reported.Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday expressed doubt about the effectiveness of having debt ceiling at all. "The Congress has taken up a tradition of having to vote on that," she said at a Friday news conference. "There's some doubt as to whether that should be the case."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 23rd, 2021

Coinbase wants to strengthen its legal and compliance team as it steps up collaboration with crypto regulators

The crypto exchange has more than 350 job openings, including a role based out of Washington, DC for someone with "excellent political judgment." Richard Drew/Associated Press Coinbase is looking to make new hires, including a dozen new roles for its legal and compliance team. The new listings highlight Coinbase's intent to collaborate with regulators after its recent spat with the SEC. The crypto exchange is preparing to pitch a new regulatory framework to federal agencies due next month. Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell. Coinbase wants to grow its legal and compliance team, and add several communication roles as the crypto exchange prepares to propose a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in the US.The largest publicly-listed crypto exchange's website shows more than 350 job openings, including a role based out of Washington, DC for someone with "excellent political judgment" and who has experience in managing high-profile political and media crises.These represent Coinbase's intent to get US regulators on board with its ambitions after the Securities and Exchange Commission threatened to sue the company over its interest-bearing lending product. Plans to launch the product were abandoned last week.CEO Brian Armstrong lashed out at the regulator by calling its behavior "sketchy" for not providing clear enough reasons for its threat. But the exchange now seems to be in collaboration mode, wanting to advise on how the US can create "sensible regulation."Among the 24 openings for legal and compliance, Coinbase is looking to hire a "head of APAC compliance" in Singapore, a "head of international compliance" in London, and "global anti-bribery and corruption managers" in the UK and US.Other roles for general counsel mention responsibilities related to strategic direction on digital currency, blockchain technology, and legal and regulatory issues. All new roles related to security engineering are based out of the US and Canada.Coinbase's new openings also highlight its intentions to fund new investments and acquisitions as the company recently raised $2 billion via the bond market.Listed benefits for some roles include free snacks and lunch, and a monthly gym allowance.Coinbase already added more than 450 new employees in the second quarter this year, taking its total full-time staff headcount to 2,176, according to its latest letter to shareholders.Read More: Ahead of bitcoin's $3 billion options expiry this Friday, 5 experts told us how much the crypto and other leading altcoins can surge or fall from here: 'if markets bleed, they will bleed as a group.'Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 23rd, 2021

The Afghanistan Debacle Was A Major Wake Up Call For NATO

The Afghanistan Debacle Was A Major Wake Up Call For NATO Via Global Risk Insights, Overview of Prior EU Bureaucratic Actions  The vestiges of the Trump administration’s “America first” foreign policy have forced Europe to consider more autonomous defense initiatives. The EU lacks the military capabilities required to confront mounting geo-strategic concerns. Limited defense budgets increase Europe’s reliance on US expenditures, and uneven national allocations to NATO threaten the political viability of the alliance.  To rectify strategic shortcomings, the EU introduced the European Defense Fund (EDF). The EDF establishes the industrial foundation required for a resilient European defense program. The EU’s 2016 Global Strategy report included the EDF. The strategy sought to integrate Europe’s foreign policy and allocate resources toward external security threats. In 2018, the EU established The Capability Development Plan (CDP) to “address long-term security and defense challenges”.  The CDP encourages supranational cooperation and promotes capability cohesion with NATO.  In the midst of COVID’s economic disruption, bridging the capability gap remains an aspirational strategic objective. The notional budgetary allocations to the EDF and CDP (proposed within EU defense and security briefs prior to 2020) may decrease to account for the fiscal and political uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Military Realities Beyond the broad, rather philosophical debate surrounding European strategic autonomy, the Afghanistan imbroglio reveals military deficiencies that are unique to the EU. The disparity in military expenditures across Western states may prove unsustainable as geostrategic competition intensifies.  Inadequate defense budgets preceded the capability deficiencies that plagued NATO’s European member states in Afghanistan. In an interview with Foreign Policy, retired British General Richard Barrons states that without the US, “NATO is a very limited concept and very limited force”.  As the future strategic risks and threat perceptions of Europe and the US diverge, Europe will be responsible for defending its own interests. A shift toward a more autonomous European foreign policy will include improving the ability of the EU to intervene and protect their strategic priorities. Russian belligerence in Eastern Europe adds a measure of urgency to the question of strategic autonomy.  The lingering ambiguity regarding US willingness to fulfill Article V commitments remains a driver of EU security policy initiatives. NATO-Russia force balance improvements on NATO’s eastern flank will be a strategic priority as Russia calculates the cost of future belligerence. Improving force readiness and maintaining operative-forward deployment positions in Eastern Europe may support European defense autonomy and promote capability cohesion within NATO.  Political Implications Emmanuel Macron continues to advance his conception of ‘European Sovereignty’.  In a February interview with the Financial Times, Macron said that he defends strategic autonomy “not because I am against NATO or because I doubt our American friends…but because I think we need a fair sharing of the burden and Europe cannot delegate the protection of its neighborhood to the USA.” Angela Merkel agrees that Europe must “take [its] fate into [its] own hands”.  Macron faces reelection with an approval rating hovering around 40% and Merkel steps down as chancellor in September.  Therefore, transitional stability is a reasonable concern. Policy continuity among the EU’s principal members may determine the efficacy of Europe’s independent security agenda. The resurgence of the ‘America First’ mentality is a threat to transatlantic defense cooperation. Hardline voters in Republican strongholds may determine the extent to which US foreign policy reflects isolationist doctrine. A 2024 general election triumph by a viable Republican candidate might call into question America’s commitment to Article V and to NATO itself. Public opinion may determine how, and to what degree, European policymakers pursue strategic autonomy through increased budgetary expenditures. Though 61% of Europeans hold a favorable opinion of NATO, all but five member states oppose, in the majority, defending a NATO ally should Russia attack.  Such polling data suggests an overreliance on US protection, the aggregate fragility of Article V commitments, and the necessity of a more independent European security apparatus.  Outlook Theresa May, while addressing Parliament, framed the question of European strategic autonomy, “What does [the Afghanistan pullout] say about us as a country? What does it say about NATO, if we are entirely dependent on a unilateral decision by the U.S.?”.  Forward-facing policy proposals will address the capability disparities within NATO and without it. Public opinion and the political will of elites to increase military expenditures against possible political headwinds determine, in part, the ultimate impact of such initiatives. A more functional independent European security may inoculate the EU against the inherent uncertainty of quadrennial US presidential transitions. The volatility of US domestic politics will contribute to European skepticism regarding US commitment to the collective defense provision of the NATO charter.  Transatlantic incredulity will introduce urgency into policy planning and may provide political justification for increased defense spending. The Afghanistan pullout has renewed calls to improve EU intervention capabilities. France and Germany have proposed the creation of an “initial entry force”. The conceptual force includes 5,000 troops supported by aircraft and ships. Such an EU rapid-reaction force, employed in concert with increased global development expenditures, may provide stability for struggling democracies abroad. Pursuing a balanced, synergistic combination of hard and soft power projection will make the EU a more capable NATO partner and a more formidable international actor. US-Russia-China trilateral relations will play a large role in shaping the transatlantic alliance in the medium and long term. In the short term, while US and EU threat perceptions regarding Russia and China differ, regional NATO cooperation in the Middle East will be a necessity. It is unclear what the nature of Russian and Chinese influence will look like on the ground, but the willingness of the two powers to engage with the Taliban is telling. The urgency with which NATO and the EU respond to these developments may determine the scale of imminent irregular migration crises. In a September 1st guest essay for the New York Times, Josep Borrell Fontelles (the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy) underscores the instructive nature of the Afghanistan withdrawal. He writes that “Some events catalyze history: The Afghanistan debacle is one of them.” Whether Europe will pursue more efficacious security policies remains unclear.  Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 02:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 23rd, 2021

Buchanan: Are The US And China Stumbling Toward An "Islands War"?

Buchanan: Are The US And China Stumbling Toward An "Islands War"? Authored by Pat Buchanan, In a diplomatic coup, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a deal last week with the U.K. and U.S. to have those Anglo-American allies help build a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia. A $66 billion French deal to provide Canberra with diesel electric-powered submarines, among the largest defense contracts Paris had ever negotiated, was blown off. “A stab in the back!” said Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who had been kept in the dark on the secret talks. “There has been duplicity, contempt and lies.” Le Drian compared President Joe Biden to former President Donald Trump. President Emmanuel Macron recalled his ambassadors to both the U.S. and Australia. In two centuries of U.S.-French diplomatic relations, no such recall had ever occurred. What does this Australia First submarine deal mean? Canberra, which has sought to steer a middle course between its great customer China and its great ally America, is coming down on the side of the Americans in the rising great-power quarrel. This “AUKUS” partnership, says Beijing, will “severely damage” peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, and Beijing is demanding to know whether Australia regards China as a “partner or a threat.” This new clash comes as China is using its military to speak for its claims to islands and islets hundreds of miles off its coast. Several Chinese claims collide directly with the territorial claims of neighbors who are longtime U.S. treaty allies for whose territory we are committed to fight. China claims, for example, the Paracel and Spratly Islands and almost all of the rocks and reefs in the South China Sea, many of which are within territorial waters claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan. China also claims Taiwan itself, 110 miles off its coast, as well as the nearby Senkaku Islands, which Japan controls and for which Tokyo appears to be preparing to fight. A Chinese-Japanese clash over the Senkakus, the Biden administration has said, will bring the U.S. in on the side of Japan. In a recent CNN interview, Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the Senkakus would be defended as Japanese national territory. And Japan has been expanding its Self-Defense Forces, adding the latest U.S. F-35 fighters, converting warships into aircraft carriers, and building new destroyers, submarines and missiles. Earlier this year, the Biden State Department said the U.S.-Japan security treaty covers the Senkakus and our Philippines security treaty covers Manila’s claims to Chinese-occupied islets in the South China Sea. Message: If Manila chooses to fight to retrieve its islets from Chinese occupation and control, America will fight on Manila’s side. Still, China has yet to back down from any of its claims. It has sailed warships and planes to hassle U.S. and allied ships and planes in the South China and East China Seas and sent fleets of bombers and fighters into airspace on Taiwan’s side of the Taiwan Strait. To prevent Taiwan’s independence, Beijing has said, it will fight. Should fighting break out between China and the U.S. over these claims, the war would be about islands that are thousands of miles from our West Coast but within a few hundred miles of the China coast. Other East Asian nations are also communicating their interests and intent through military demonstrations. After claiming to have tested a new long-range cruise missile, North Korea last week tested two ballistic missiles. At that same time, South Korea was testing its own submarine-launched ballistic missile, becoming the first country without nuclear weapons to do so. This past summer, there were reports that Pyongyang had restarted a reactor in its main nuclear complex at Yongbyon, suggesting that Kim Jong Un may be ramping up his nuclear weapons program. And, regularly now, U.S. planes stationed in Alaska scramble to intercept Russian military aircraft. This year, the number of intercepts, 14, is on pace to set a record since the Cold War. In the most recent case, two Russian bombers and two fighters came within 30 miles of the Alaskan coast. This summer, Russian naval vessels came within 34 miles of Hawaii. Russian ships and planes off Alaska are perhaps responding to U.S. warships and planes in the Black Sea. World War II began in Europe when the British, Sept. 3, 1939, declared war on Germany over its invasion of Poland to retrieve what Berlin claimed were its territories, including Danzig, taken from Germany at Versailles against the will of the people of Danzig and in violation of their right of self-determination. If World War III breaks out between China and the U.S., it is likely to be over islands of Asia claimed by China, with the U.S. fighting not for its own territory but for the island territory of allies, probably islands in no way vital to the security of the United States. Which is how world powers often end their days as world powers, fighting unnecessary wars on behalf of other nations. Tyler Durden Tue, 09/21/2021 - 18:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021

Victor Davis Hanson: The Afghanistization Of America

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

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2021

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Category: topSource: marketwatchDec 28th, 2020

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Category: topSource: marketwatchJan 10th, 2020

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Category: topSource: marketwatchSep 18th, 2019

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Category: topSource: reutersSep 18th, 2019

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Category: topSource: bizjournalsJul 16th, 2019