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A Decade Of Elon Musk"s Tweets, Visualized

A Decade Of Elon Musk's Tweets, Visualized Elon Musk is known for many things, but one of his most buzzworthy claims to fame is his online Twitter presence. Because of its candid nature, Musk’s Twitter feed provides the public with a unique opportunity to catch an unfiltered look into his eccentric mind. What can we learn from an in-depth look at Elon Musk’s Twitter feed? What subjects does he focus on the most, and how has his Twitter use changed over the past decade? Visual Capitalist's Carmen Ang and Nick Routley sifted through his entire tweet history to find out. Why Bother? To gain a high-level understanding of Musk’s Twitter profile, our research team sifted through his entire Twitter feed and compiled 15,000 of his tweets into a comprehensive dataset. Why go to all the effort? Here are a few reasons why we spent months sifting through Elon Musk’s Twitter feed: People care about what he has to say: Musk has over 77 million followers on Twitter, and his account is currently the 11th most followed (coming in between Ellen DeGeneres and Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India). Even run-of-the-mill replies to regular Twitter users receive thousands of shares, likes, and comments. Clearly, people are interested in his ideas and interactions. Musk tweets often, and candidly: These days, it’s not uncommon for Musk to share more than 30 tweets in a single day. And his Twitter conversations cover a wide range of topics, from serious conversations about technical aspects of his products to lighthearted memes. This is highly unusual for a person in his position. Some of his tweets have had a big impact: Elon’s tweets consistently make headlines and ruffle the feathers of big shots in business and politics. Elon’s Twitter fingers have moved the needle on everything from Tesla’s stock price to cryptocurrency markets. He’s become a public icon: He’s currently the richest person in the world, and last year, he was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. The companies that Musk runs are also hugely influential and disruptive. In other words, no matter how you feel about him personally, he’s a pretty big deal. Because of the above, we thought digging into the depths of Elon Musk’s Twitter feed was a worthy pursuit. Below, we’ll get into our methodology, and how we went about analyzing the mountains of tweets. How We Did It: Notes on Our Methodology Once we scraped a decade worth of Elon Musk tweets, we dug through the data and sorted the information to answer two main questions: What are Elon Musk’s most tweeted topics? How has his Twitter activity changed over the years? To answer the first question, we sorted Elon’s tweets into categories (based on keywords) and ranked each category based on the volume of mentions. The results are visualized in the circle chart in the middle of the graphic, which shows Musk’s most tweeted subjects over the last decade. To answer our second question (how has Elon’s Twitter activity changed over the years) we sorted Elon’s feed into three main topics—Tesla, SpaceX, and everything else—and showed which topics dominated his feed each year. Main Takeaways from the Analysis Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that the two main things Elon talks about the most are Tesla and SpaceX. He’s mentioned both companies consistently over the last decade, and as the timeline shows, Tesla and SpaceX take turns in the spotlight, depending on what’s going on for the companies at the time. While the topics and themes of his content have remained fairly consistent, the frequency of tweets has grown over the years.   Musk now uses Twitter very consistently, tweeting at least once on all but 14 days in 2021. His follower count has growth steadily over the years too:   As the above graphic shows, his follower growth started to escalate between late 2017 and mid-2018 as Musk began to burst into the public consciousness. Why? A lot was happening both personally and professionally for the busy founder: December 2017: Announcement on Twitter that the Boring Company was planning to release a limited edition flamethrower. 20,000 units were sold before the product was discontinued. February 2018: Tesla Roadster was launched into space. July 2018: 12 boys and their teacher get trapped in a cave in Thailand, and Elon gets heavily involved in efforts to try and rescue them. This includes an awkward—now deleted—tweet referring to a British cave diver as a pedophile. (Musk later won a defamation case in 2019.) August 2018: Elon announces on Twitter that he’s considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. Tesla’s share price promptly dropped after this now infamous tweet was sent. Sept 2018: Musk appears on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and smokes weed with him. The spectacle grabs headlines after the podcast is published. From 2016 to 2018: A highly publicized, on-again-off-again relationship with actress Amber Heard. No matter how outlandish or shocking his comments have been, Musk’s companies continue to see success, and people have continued to show interest in keeping up with the founder’s thoughts—and dank memes—on Twitter. Highlights (and Lowlights) of Musk’s Twitter History In the next section below, we’ll cover some of Elon’s most iconic Twitter moments, hand-selected by our research team. The End of the Fake Elon Era Elon Musk’s first real tweet was shared in 2010. Prior to that, someone was pretending to be him and using the Twitter handle @elonmusk to tweet random and controversial things. Luckily, the imposter didn’t gain much traction, and the real Elon Musk cleared the air on June 4, 2010, with a tweet announcing his authentic arrival onto the platform: Please ignore prior tweets, as that was someone pretending to be me :) This is actually me. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 4, 2010 After this initial tweet, Musk didn’t tweet again until the end of 2011, though his account was still verified that year. His Twitter activity remained relatively low until 2012. A Splashdown to Remember In May 2012, Musk went to Twitter to share his excitement after the Dragon spacecraft successfully returned home. Splashdown successful!! Sending fast boat to Dragon lat/long provided by P3 tracking planes #Dragon — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 31, 2012 This landing made history, as SpaceX became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. The engagement on this tweet highlights how much larger Musk’s audience is today. The tweet above, which is highlighting some very exciting news, only has about 350 retweets. The Boring Company Flamethrower In late 2017, Musk started selling Boring Company merchandise, mostly as a joke. But products were selling, and Elon decided to take things one step further, and announced to Twitter that he’d release a Boring Company flamethrower if 50,000 Boring branded hats sold: After 50k hats, we will start selling The Boring Company flamethrower — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 11, 2017 The hats did sell out, so true to his word, Musk released a limited edition flamethrower at $500 bucks apiece. All 20,000 units sold out. The $20 Million Quip In August 2018, Musk told Twitter that he was considering taking Tesla private, at $420 a share. Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018 This tweet was a cheeky reference to marijuana, but it ended up costing a fortune. The SEC sued him with fraudulent charges, claiming this irresponsible tweet misled investors. He ended up paying millions in fines, and had to step down as Tesla’s chairman as a result of the drama. Candid COVID Opinions Musk hasn’t been shy about sharing his thoughts on the global pandemic. On March 6, 2020, he tweeted “the coronavirus panic is dumb.” Since then, he’s been vocal about his distrust in antigen tests, and isn’t afraid to share his frustrations around lockdowns with his followers: FREE AMERICA NOW — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2020 He’s also said that the virus isn’t that deadly and that COVID-19 related deaths were inflated because doctors were wrongfully attributing deaths to the virus instead of other causes. Becoming the World’s Richest Human In 2021, Musk surpassed Jeff Bezos to become the richest person in the world. His reaction was quite understated. In response to a tweet from @teslaownersSV sharing the news, he simply said, “how strange.” From there, he tweeted: Back to work I go … — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 8, 2021 Musk is still currently the richest person on the planet as of this article’s publication date, with a net worth of $213 billion. Bitcoin Boost Elon Musk’s foray into Bitcoin boosterism ramped up on January 29, 2021, when he added “#bitcoin” to his Twitter profile page, a move that appeared to have an impact on the price of BTC. Days later, Musk announced that Tesla acquired $1.5 billion in bitcoin, with plans to accept it as payment. You can now buy a Tesla with Bitcoin — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2021 The news caused the price of Bitcoin to jump 17% to $44,000, a record high at the time. Bitcoin remained in the spotlight through the year as the cryptocurrency continued to gather support from major financial institutions. Just days prior, Musk also added fuel to the speculative fire surrounding the GameStop stock. By simply tweeting the word “Gamestonk” paired with a link to Reddit’s infamous r/wallstreetbets, GME’s price exploded more than 150% higher. The Multi-Billion Dollar Question After facing backlash over his significant stockpile of wealth, Musk turned to Twitter to ask users if he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock in order to pay taxes. Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock. Do you support this? — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 6, 2021 The majority of Twitter users voted yes, and the billionaire actually followed through and sold more than $16 billion worth of Tesla stock. Reconnecting Ukraine In late February, as Russia launched its offensive in Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation called the SpaceX founder out on Twitter, asking for support. Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022 Musk would reply within 24 hours, and soon after, Fedorov would tweet a photo of Starlink terminals arriving safely in the country. Tyler Durden Thu, 03/10/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 10th, 2022

"Big Short" investor Michael Burry warns the market might not bottom out until people swear off tech stocks, crypto, and NFTs — and predicts a consumer recession this Christmas

The Scion Asset Management boss dismissed the recent rebound in stocks, noting there were dozens of brief rallies during past bear markets. Michael Burry.Kevin Mazur/WireImage The market might bottom out when people renounce tech stocks, crypto, and NFTs, Michael Burry said. "The Big Short" investor predicts weaker consumer demand and bloated inventories this Christmas. Burry dismissed the rebound in stocks, noting there were lots of brief rallies in past bear markets. Michael Burry warned the market downturn might only end when people swear off owning tech stocks, cryptocurrencies, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).The investor of "The Big Short" fame also predicted consumer spending would slump, and retailers would be lumped with excess inventory, during the Christmas period. Moreover, he dismissed the recent rebound in stocks as a temporary respite. He made the comments in a string of recent tweets that he's since deleted.Burry is best known for predicting and profiting from the collapse of the housing bubble, inadvertently paving the way for the meme-stock boom by investing in GameStop, and betting against Elon Musk's Tesla and Cathie Wood's flagship Ark fund last year.Sentiment needs to sour"I don't think this is going to be over until everybody swears they will never own an NFT, they will never own crypto, and they will never own a technology stock," Tom Siebel, a software billionaire and the CEO of C3.AI, said during a recent Barrons conference.Burry relayed that quote in a tweet over the weekend, and noted that widespread investor apathy marked the bottom of previous market downturns. "Such was the sign in 2002, 1932, and '74," he said.The Scion Asset Management boss attached Siebel Systems' stock chart, which showed the software company skyrocketed in value during the dot-com bubble, only to give up all of its gains by the second half of 2002.Burry also highlighted a New York Times article from 1974 that underscored the lack of sympathy felt by everyday Americans for Wall Street stockbrokers.The hedge-fund manager previously cautioned asset prices might not reach a nadir until next year, given the length of the recent bull market."The theater took more than a decade to overstuff," he tweeted. "Not likely everyone gets out in less than a year."Unhappy ChristmasBurry rang the recession alarm, and issued a bleak holiday prediction, in another recent tweet."Q. In 2022, what brings a Christmas in July?" he wrote. "A. A disinflationary overstock consumer recession at Christmas."The Scion chief appears to expect a drop in consumer spending to drag down economic growth later this year, and a mixture of weaker demand and retailers' bloated inventories to temper inflation.Burry has previously warned that US households — faced with soaring food, fuel, and housing costs — are on track to exhaust virtually all of their savings by the fourth quarter of this year.He has also flagged shrinking personal savings, a declining savings rate, and ballooning credit-card debt as harbingers of a consumer recession and pressure on companies' earnings.Relief will be briefBurry cautioned investors not to get too excited about stock rallies, noting there were dozens of sharp rebounds during previous market downturns."Who knew this year was so much fun because of all the doomed rallies?" Burry tweeted. "Recall, 1929-1932 top to bottom, 10 rallies >10%, averaging 23%. 2000-2002, 16 rallies >10%, averaging 23%."The Scion chief has previously suggested the S&P 500 could plummet 52% from its current level to 1,862, based on the benchmark index's performance in past bear markets.Read more: Value investors have missed out on massive gains by dismissing the likes of Amazon and Alphabet as overpriced. Fund manager and writer Adam Seessel explains how to fairly value tech champions, and avoid losing out again.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 27th, 2022

Cathie Wood warns the Fed is ignoring dangerous signals and risks plunging the US into a recession with its huge rate hikes

The US central bank is ignoring three indicators that show inflation is already easing, according to the Ark Invest chief investment officer. Ark Invest CIO Cathie Wood has slammed the Federal Reserve's aggressive moves to curb inflation, which she says could plunge the US into a recession.Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images Cathie Wood has warned the Federal Reserve could cause a recession if it keeps hiking interest rates. The US central bank is ignoring three indicators that might show inflation easing, according to the Ark Invest CIO. "The Fed seems to be worried more about its legacy than the economy," Wood said. Cathie Wood has become the latest high-profile investor to warn of a potential US recession.The Ark Invest chief investment officer slammed the Federal Reserve in a series of tweets Sunday, arguing that its aggressive rate hikes could trigger an economic slump in the US."The Fed seems to be worried more about its legacy than the economy," Wood said. "It is ignoring deflationary and dangerous signals."The US central bank announced it would raise interest rates by 75 basis points last week as it tries to tame inflation, which hit a four-decade high of 8.6% in May. Fed Governor Christopher Waller has refused to rule out further 75 basis point hikes.But rising interest rates tend to hit economic growth. Borrowing becomes more expensive when rates rise, which causes consumer spending to fall.Aggressive hikes are unnecessary because inflation is already easing, according to Wood. She pointed to two indicators that could show prices falling without the Fed's intervention.First, Wood pointed to the stagnating prices of gold and lumber, which are often seen as leading inflation indicators."After soaring from $1,350/ounce pre-COVID to a peak of nearly $2,000 [an ounce] during 2020, the gold price has dropped back to $1,840 [an ounce] during the past two years," Wood said. "The lumber price has dropped more than 50%."Secondly, Wood said fuel prices have likely peaked as Americans increasingly turn to electric vehicles. Surging oil prices have been one of the main drivers of inflation this year, with Brent crude up 48.3% to over $115 a barrel."While the cartel and a war have pushed oil prices to levels I did not expect, the equivalent of a highly regressive tax has accelerated the consumer preference shift to electric vehicles," she said. "I still believe that the shift to EVs will undermine oil prices."Rising rates have hammered Wood's own portfolio this year. Ark Invest has seen all its gains wiped out in a hellish 2022, with its flagship ARKK fund down 59.9% year-to-date, compared with a 23% drop in the S&P 500 index.Read more: A portfolio manager at billionaire investor Mario Gabelli's $41 billion firm says to buy these 27 stocks that have the pricing power to deliver returns as inflation soarsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 21st, 2022

Rabobank: Like Riding A Bicycle

Rabobank: Like Riding A Bicycle By Michael Every of Rabobank “Like riding a bicycle” is an idiom that says once we learn to do tricky things we never forget. However, all around us important people are forgetting how to ride their bicycles. US President Biden is one, but there are so many others it’s hard to keep track – or on the track. Friday saw the BOJ keep peddling away furiously at yield curve control, refusing to accept that if they cannot regain a large trade surplus then there is no way to cushion the downward effects on JPY. For markets, this tour de Japan towards the cliff-edge was taken as relief. Indeed, we saw mostly equity stabilization, and only a moderate drift higher in key bond yields. Notably, there was a further collapse in crypto over the weekend, albeit with Bitcoin bouncing off key support. (On which, I was just told: i) it’s been here before, i.e., below the cost of mining; and ii) it’s worth holding in small amounts as a lottery ticket given the system is so rigged against the asset-poor young that there is no other way they can ever hope to retire with dignity. It’s not an “-ism” to base a political-economy on, but you get the drift.) More notable, but less noted, Friday also saw widespread falls in commodities. So much so that I was tempted to run with the Daily title: ‘Ferrous Bueller’s Day Off’. At time of writing Brent oil was $114, down from $121 at its Friday peak, and having been under $112. Is this the start of a generalized asset melt-down, including commodities, so at least longer-dated bonds get a bid despite Fed hikes? Or is it just a sell-off of performing assets to garner liquidity to cover margin calls on slumping ones? US voices provide evidence in both directions from the back of a tandem wobbling towards us at ever slower speed. The Fed’s Waller argued for a 75bps hike again in July, and is “all in” on fighting inflation; yet also stressed rate cuts to zero and more QE are now policy tools for even a “typical” recession, and there is a “good chance” they will be used again by the Fed. As everyone except the Fed, and Treasury Secretary Yellen on TV on Sunday, sees a recession as inevitable, does that mean zero rates and QE are coming again soon to the US, BOJ-style? There is a long article from historian Niall Ferguson at Bloomberg worth looking at here titled, ‘The Fed Hasn’t Fixed Its Worst Blunder Since the 1970s: Jay Powell wants us to believe he has what it takes to bring inflation under control. History warns us to be sceptical’. It concludes: “Will the Powell Fed be more like the Burns Fed or the Volcker Fed? We won’t know for sure until it confronts something much uglier than the current equity bear market. All we do know is that Powell has blinked before now - and in response to a 19% stock market correction in late 2018 and a president with a Twitter habit. Trump’s successor is not much of tweeter. But the market is already down further. I knew Paul Volcker. I also remember the 1970s. For younger viewers, it’s going to come as a shock to see That ‘70s Show for the first time. Spoiler alert: Not much about that decade was transitory. Try listening to the interminable guitar solos on “Stairway to Heaven” or “Free Bird” to get in the mood.” One can see why the crypto crowd might be holding on to their Willy Wonka tickets in the hope they are ‘golden’, not melting like chocolate. Yet, if so, commodities will not stay down, and hence input inflation will stay high, and so will overall inflation. High inflation is already guaranteed by geopolitics, as Robin Brooks of the IIF underlines: “Putin is cutting gas deliveries to Europe. Europe was always going to end up here - no Russian gas - except that an embargo would have allowed us to hold our heads high. As Churchill said: "You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war."” And no gas. To which Germany is responding by burning more coal, having insisted on going ahead with shutting down its final nuclear power-plants this year. Europe and the West certainly have economic war: and how anyone can make economic forecasts, or national, business, or energy strategy presuming they won’t reminds me of the inverse of the old adage about a fish needing a bicycle. Indeed, President Putin’s ‘Russian Davos’ speech on Friday accused the US of acting as though it is "God's emissary on Earth,” presented Russia as the emerging leader in "a new world order," that would confront the US superpower status and prosper (as Beijing underlines its non-military foreign-policy support for Moscow), and stressed, “Only strong and sovereign governments can speak their minds in this new-born world order - either that or they're destined to remain colonies."  We obviously see that in Ukraine, where NATO warns the war could drag on for years. Bloomberg has another op-ed, from Max Hastings titled, ‘Putin May Win in Ukraine But Can Still Be Stopped’. It argues: “In a famous, or rather notorious, address to a committee of the Prussian parliament in 1862, Otto von Bismarck said: “Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided” but by “Blut und Eisen” - blood and iron. We like to believe that civilized 21st-century societies have advanced beyond such brutish doctrine. Yet Putin is attempting to demonstrate that he can exploit extreme violence to secure a vastly larger role on the world stage than Russia’s economic and political stature confers.” Yet we do not have economic forecasts to match, let alone national geoeconomic strategy. Making this point, military-expert Andrew Michta tweets, “Russia is at war, with its economy aligned accordingly. The West does not seem able to recognize fully how the world has already changed, for this would require us to make tough decisions concerning our own production. If we persist, it will cost us.” To which geostrategist @SariArhoHavren replies, “In Western Europe, I hear constant comments from ordinary people how this war is “unnecessary”, “look at the inflation”, “win or lose won’t affect us” – people have become lazy, selfish, taking freedom for granted and have forgotten their history. Maybe they deserve what is coming.” Maybe they do, maybe they don’t: but it’s coming. Even in the US doing all the heavy lifting on Ukraine, and where Congress is about to push for a larger budget for the Indo-Pacific to match China, we see a report titled ‘The Return of Industrial Warfare’. It begins, “Can the West still provide the arsenal of democracy? The war in Ukraine has proven that the age of industrial warfare is still here. The massive consumption of equipment, vehicles and ammunition requires a large-scale industrial base for resupply – quantity still has a quality of its own.” It  concludes, “US annual artillery production would at best only last for 10 days to two weeks of combat in Ukraine.”   Yes, the US is not an artillery-based army like Russia’s. But it still has low stocks of almost everything for an extended war against a near-peer rather than a weak economy or a terrorist group. It ‘plans’ to fight a ‘just in time’ conflict…. against the country which provides much of its industrial supply chain(!), as tensions continue to rise in the Taiwan Strait. There might be a Biden-Xi call ahead, but it risks ending like the financial tweet: “I'M IN THE PROCESS OF DECISION-MAKING ON CHINA TARIFF EASING. *BIDEN FALLS OFF BIKE WHILE COMING TO STOP, SAYS HE'S OKAY* can't make this up!”   Perhaps the US president suddenly realized his bike would be marginally cheaper without tariffs, but would come at a massive geopolitical cost given China will, yet again, have given up nothing at all for that trade benefit; and that Yellen reiterating on TV there is no recession to come, and that some Trump tariffs on China were “not strategic” --as she also talks about “friend-shoring”-- just shows she does not understand ‘strategy’; or ‘inflation’; or ‘recession’; or ‘financial crisis’. On Friday, Putin also defiantly stated the West’s leaders are living in Lalaland, and “Such a detachment from reality, from the demands of society, will inevitably lead to a surge of populism and the growth of radical movements, to serious social and economic changes, to degradation, and in the near future, to a change of elites.”  Presumably he foresaw the French parliamentary election results, where President Macron looks set to lose his majority, with over half of the seats likely to be held by the far-right of Le Pen and the far-left of Melenchon. Good luck with technocratic pension reforms on that basis. So, what do we do? Well, as Hastings argues, more of a focus on how to push back against Blut und Eisen, which means the West remembering how to ride the geopolitical grand strategy bicycle. Yet the US president can apparently neither walk-up stairs nor ride a bicycle without falling over, and much of the US economy is more worried about “Basis und Points.” As I have argued, much higher US rates are still a huge geoeconomic weapon, even if they bifurcate an already bifurcating world. Much lower US rates and QE in the face of deliberate supply constraints are a great power self-destruct mechanism. And yet add high unemployment to our current economic misery, as the Fed’s Waller suggests it might need to rise to a 4.5% rate, and we better have an economic arsenal in our pocket ready. I suspect, as with Europe, we get rate hikes and QE: and then we need trade surpluses to ensure currencies don’t collapse, which means national security/industrial/social policy. On which, note it was the realpolitik mercantilist Bismarck who also introduced state public pensions. Hastings op-ed stresses, “The historic challenge for the West is to prove [Putin’s Ukraine] calculation mistaken, because its success would deal a shocking blow to the cause of democracy, freedom, and justice in the 21st century. Zelenskiy must rely upon Churchill’s dogged policy: KBO (“Keep Buggering On”) and pray that something will turn up.” Yet Churchill’s heirs rely upon doggedly playing silly buggers and Western markets pray that lower rates will turn up. That, as we face years of war and the UN warning of “hell on earth”, as we ‘march towards starvation’, or a “shocking blow to the cause of democracy, freedom, and justice in the 21st century.” Surely better to remember how to ride the Western bicycle? Tyler Durden Tue, 06/21/2022 - 06:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 21st, 2022

Greenwald: UK"s Decision To Extradite Assange Shows Why US/UK Freedom Lectures Are A Farce

Greenwald: UK's Decision To Extradite Assange Shows Why US/UK Freedom Lectures Are A Farce Authored by Glenn Greenwald via greenwald.substack.com (emphasis ours), The eleven-year persecution of Julian Assange was extended and escalated on Friday morning. The British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, approved the U.S.'s extradition request to send Julian Assange to Virginia to stand trial on eighteen felony charges under the 1917 Espionage Act and other statutes in connection with the 2010 publication by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents showing widespread corruption, deceit, and war crimes by American and British authorities along with their close dictatorial allies in the Middle East. People protest with t-shirts and easter eggs at Largo di Torre Argentina to demand Julian Assange's freedom against extradition, on April 11, 2022 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Simona Granati - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images) This decision is unsurprising — it has been obvious for years that the U.S. and UK are determined to destroy Assange as punishment for his journalism exposing their crimes — yet it nonetheless further highlights the utter sham of American and British sermons about freedom, democracy and a free press. Those performative self-glorifying spectacles are constantly deployed to justify these two countries’ interference in and attacks on other nations, and to allow their citizens to feel a sense of superiority about the nature of their governments. After all, if the U.S. and UK stand for freedom and against tyranny, who could possibly oppose their wars and interventions in the name of advancing such lofty goals and noble values? Having reported on the Assange case for years, on countless occasions I've laid out the detailed background that led Assange and the U.S. to this point. There is thus no need to recount all of that again; those interested can read the granular trajectory of this persecution here or here. Suffice to say, Assange — without having been convicted of any crime other than bail jumping, for which he long ago served out his fifty-week sentence — has been in effective imprisonment for more than a decade. In 2012, Ecuador granted Assange legal asylum from political persecution. It did so after the Swedish government refused to pledge that it would not exploit the WikiLeaks founder's travel to Sweden to answer sex assault accusations as a pretext to turn him over to the U.S. Fearing what of course ended up happening — that the U.S. was determined to do everything possible to drag Assange back to U.S. soil despite his not being a U.S. citizen and never having spent more than a few days on U.S. soil, and intending to pressure their long-time-submissive Swedish allies to turn him over once he was on Swedish soil — the government of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa concluded Assange's core civic rights were being denied and thus gave him refuge in the tiny Ecuadorian Embassy in London: the classic reason political asylum exists. When Trump officials led by CIA Director Mike Pompeo bullied Correa's meek successor, ex-President Lenin Moreno, to withdraw that asylum in 2019, the London Police entered the embassy, arrested Assange, and put him in the high-security Belmarsh prison (which the BBC in 2004 dubbed “the British Guantanamo”), where he has remained ever since. After the lowest-level British court in early 2021 rejected the U.S. extradition request on the ground that Assange's physical and mental health could not endure the U.S. prison system, Assange has lost every subsequent appeal. Last year, he was permitted to marry his long-time girlfriend, the British human rights lawyer Stella Morris Assange, who is also the mother of their two young children. An extremely unusual unanimity among press freedom and civil liberties groups was formed in early 2021 to urge the Biden administration to cease its prosecution of Assange, but Biden officials — despite spending the Trump years masquerading as press freedom advocates — ignored them (an interview conducted last week with Stella Assange by my husband, the Brazilian Congressman David Miranda, on Brazil's Press Freedom Day, regarding the latest developments and toll this has taken on the Assange family, can be seen here). The Home Secretary's decision this morning — characteristically subservient and obedient of the British when it comes to the demands of the U.S. — does not mean that Assange's presence on U.S. soil is imminent. Under British law, Assange has the right to pursue a series of appeals contesting the Home Secretary's decision, and will likely do so. Given that the British judiciary has more or less announced in advance their determination to follow the orders of their American masters, it is difficult to see how these further proceedings will have any effect other than to delay the inevitable. But putting oneself in Assange's position, it is easy to see why he is so eager to avoid extradition to the U.S. for as long as possible. The Espionage Act of 1917 is a nasty and repressive piece of legislation. It was designed by Woodrow Wilson and his band of authoritarian progressives to criminalize dissent against Wilson's decision to involve the U.S. in World War I. It was used primarily to imprison anti-war leftists such as Eugene Debs, as well as anti-war religious leaders such as Joseph Franklin Rutherford for the crime of publishing a book condemning Wilson's foreign policy. One of the most insidious despotic innovations of the Obama administration was to repurpose and revitalize the Wilson-era Espionage Act as an all-purpose weapon to punish whistleblowers who denounced Obama's policies. The Obama Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act of 1917 than all previous administrations combined — in fact, three times as many as all prior presidents combined. One whistleblower charged by Obama officials under that law is NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who in 2013 revealed mass domestic spying of precisely the kind that Obama's Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (now of CNN) falsely denied conducting when testifying to the Senate, which led to legislative curbs enacted by the U.S. Congress, and which courts have ruled unconstitutional and illegal. What makes this law so insidious is that, by design, it is almost impossible for the government to lose. As I detailed in a Washington Post op-ed when the indictment was first revealed — arguing why it poses the greatest threat to press freedoms in the West in years — this 1917 law is written as a “strict liability” statute, meaning that the defendant is not only guilty as soon as there is proof that they disclosed classified information without authorization, but they are also barred from raising a "justification” defense — meaning they cannot argue to the jury of their peers that it was not only permissible but morally necessary to disclose that information because of the serious wrongdoing and criminality it revealed on the part of the nation's most powerful political officials. That 1917 law, in other words, is written to offer only show trials but not fair trials. No person in their right mind would willingly submit to prosecution and life imprisonment in the harshest American penitentiaries under an indictment brought under this fundamentally corrupted law. Whatever else one might think of Assange, there is simply no question that he is one of the most consequential, pioneering, and accomplished journalists of his time. One could easily make the case that he occupies the top spot by himself. And that, of course, is precisely why he is in prison: because, just like free speech, “free press” guarantees in the U.S. and UK exist only on a piece of parchment and in theory. Citizens are free to do “journalism" as long as it does not disturb or anger or impede real power centers. Employees of The Washington Post and CNN are “free” to say what they want as long as what they are saying is approved and directed by the CIA or the content of their “reporting” advances the interests of the Pentagon's sprawling war machine. Real journalists often face threats of prosecution, imprisonment or even murder, and sometimes even mean tweets. Much of the American corporate media class has ignored Assange’s persecution or even cheered it precisely because he shames them, serving as a vivid mirror to show them what real journalism is and how they are completely bereft of it. And the American and British governments have successfully exploited the petty jealousies and insecurities of their failed, vapid and pointless media servants to get away with imposing the single greatest threat to press freedom in the West without much protest at all. Free speech and press freedoms do not exist in reality in the U.S. or the UK. They are merely rhetorical instruments to propagandize their domestic population and justify and ennoble the various wars and other forms of subversion they constantly wage in other countries in the name of upholding values they themselves do not support. The Julian Assange persecution is a great personal tragedy, a political travesty and a grave danger to basic civic freedoms. But it is also a bright and enduring monument to the fraud and deceit that lies at the heart of these two governments' depictions of who and what they are. To support the independent journalism we are doing here, please subscribe, obtain a gift subscription for others and/or share the article Tyler Durden Fri, 06/17/2022 - 12:19.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 17th, 2022

Twitter bots are hard to track, and focusing on the amount misses the point. Here"s what matters more, according to 2 researchers.

The creators of bot-detector Botometer say defining a bot is crucial — and not all bots on social media are bad or involved in misinformation. There's a difference between a bot, a fake account, and a spam account.Kacper Pempel/Reuters Two Indiana researchers say debating how many Twitter bots there are doesn't solve the problem. They say we should put effort into figuring out how bots are contributing to misinformation. Defining what a bot is and how it's different from a fake account or spammer is important, too. Twitter reports that fewer than 5% of accounts are fakes or spammers, commonly referred to as "bots." Since his offer to buy Twitter was accepted, Elon Musk has repeatedly questioned these estimates, even dismissing Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal's public response.Later, Musk put the deal on hold and demanded more proof.So why are people arguing about the percentage of bot accounts on Twitter?As the creators of Botometer, a widely used bot detection tool, our group at the Indiana University Observatory on Social Media has been studying inauthentic accounts and manipulation on social media for over a decade. We brought the concept of the "social bot" to the foreground and first estimated their prevalence on Twitter in 2017.Based on our knowledge and experience, we believe that estimating the percentage of bots on Twitter has become a very difficult task, and debating the accuracy of the estimate might be missing the point. Here's why.What, exactly, is a bot?To measure the prevalence of problematic accounts on Twitter, a clear definition of the targets is necessary. Common terms such as "fake accounts," "spam accounts," and "bots" are used interchangeably, but they have different meanings.Fake or false accounts are those that impersonate people.Accounts that mass-produce unsolicited promotional content are defined as spammers.Bots, on the other hand, are accounts controlled in part by software; they may post content or carry out simple interactions, like retweeting, automatically.These types of accounts often overlap. For instance, you can create a bot that impersonates a human to post spam automatically. Such an account is simultaneously a bot, a spammer, and a fake. But not every fake account is a bot or a spammer, and vice versa. Coming up with an estimate without a clear definition only yields misleading results.Defining and distinguishing account types can also inform proper interventions. Fake and spam accounts degrade the online environment and violate platform policy. Malicious bots are used to spread misinformation, inflate popularity, exacerbate conflict through negative and inflammatory content, manipulate opinions, influence elections, conduct financial fraud and disrupt communication. However, some bots can be harmless or even useful, for example, by helping disseminate news, delivering disaster alerts, and conducting research.Simply banning all bots is not in the best interest of social media users.For simplicity, researchers use the term "inauthentic accounts" to refer to the collection of fake accounts, spammers, and malicious bots. This is also the definition Twitter appears to be using. However, it's unclear what Musk has in mind.Hard to countEven when a consensus is reached on a definition, there are still technical challenges to estimating prevalence.External researchers don't have access to the same data as Twitter, such as IP addresses and phone numbers. This hinders the public's ability to identify inauthentic accounts. But even Twitter acknowledges that the actual number of inauthentic accounts could be higher than it's estimated because detection is challenging.Inauthentic accounts evolve and develop new tactics to evade detection. For example, some fake accounts use AI-generated faces as their profiles. These faces can be indistinguishable from real ones, even to humans. Identifying such accounts is hard and requires new technologies.Another difficulty is posed by coordinated accounts that appear to be normal individually but act so similarly to each other that they're almost certainly controlled by a single entity. Yet they're like needles in the haystack of hundreds of millions of daily tweets.Finally, inauthentic accounts can evade detection by techniques like swapping handles or automatically posting and deleting large volumes of content.The distinction between inauthentic and genuine accounts gets more and more blurry. Accounts can be hacked, bought, or rented, and some users "donate" their credentials to organizations who post on their behalf. As a result, so-called "cyborg" accounts are controlled by both algorithms and humans. Similarly, spammers sometimes post legitimate content to obscure their activity.We've observed a broad spectrum of behaviors mixing the characteristics of bots and people. Estimating the prevalence of inauthentic accounts requires applying a simplistic binary classification: authentic or inauthentic account. No matter where the line is drawn, mistakes are inevitable.Missing the big pictureThe focus of the recent debate on estimating the number of Twitter bots oversimplifies the issue and misses the point of quantifying the harm of online abuse and manipulation by inauthentic accounts.Through BotAmp, a new tool from the Botometer family that anyone with a Twitter account can use, we've found that the presence of automated activity is not evenly distributed. For instance, the discussion about cryptocurrencies tends to show more bot activity than the discussion about cats. Therefore, whether the overall prevalence is 5% or 20% makes little difference to individual users; their experiences with these accounts depend on whom they follow and the topics they care about.Recent evidence suggests that inauthentic accounts might not be the only culprits responsible for the spread of misinformation, hate speech, polarization, and radicalization. These issues typically involve many human users. For instance, our analysis shows that misinformation about COVID-19 was disseminated overtly on both Twitter and Facebook by verified, high-profile accounts.Even if it were possible to precisely estimate the prevalence of inauthentic accounts, this would do little to solve these problems. A meaningful first step would be to acknowledge the complex nature of these issues. This will help social media platforms and policymakers develop meaningful responses. Kai-Cheng Yang, doctoral student in informatics at Indiana University and Filippo Menczer, professor of informatics and computer Science at Indiana University.This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 25th, 2022

Successful pitch decks have 12 things in common, from founders who"ve raised millions

If you want to land funding, use a pitch deck that sets your company apart, establishes credibility, and demonstrates growth. Pitching is an important part of scaling your startup.Seraphina Therapeutics Every entrepreneur needs a good pitch deck, whether it's to raise money or to win over customers. Insider reviewed a collection of decks to pinpoint the components that make them successful. Your pitch deck should set your company apart, establish credibility, and demonstrate growth. See more stories on Insider's business page. Pitching is an important part of every entrepreneur's journey, whether it's to get a bank loan, win over investors, or acquire customers. You need to believe in your product or service and then persuade others to buy into it.Even though funding for startups had hit record highs in 2021, this year will be very different. According to The New York Times, "the start-up world's easy money ebullience of the last decade" is disappearing, and research firm PitchBook's data shows that in the first three months of 2022, venture funding in the US is valued at $71 billion. This is an 8% decrease compared to last year, which means that entrepreneurs need to be aware of the change that's taking place. "At the risk of sounding cliche, what goes up must go down. And likewise, as individual limited partners, investors in most small to mid-sized venture capital funds watch the market shrink their net worths, it's inevitable that you'd see caution everywhere," said Nathalie Molina Niño, Managing Director at Known Holdings, which helps entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds raise funds and launch their companies. "From fewer checks being written to venture capital fund managers, to venture capital firms starting to spray less and pray more, fear in venture is one of the few things in finance that actually does trickle down," she told Insider."Investors find themselves being more discerning, being a masterful storyteller suddenly becomes a critical competitive edge, and  decks, as arcane as it sounds, are still the storytelling instrument of choice."Insider regularly publishes pitch decks from startup founders who have raised capital, and while they're all different, they also share many techniques. We've sorted through our library to pinpoint what makes a successful pitch deck.Dominic-Madori Davis contributed to this article.Introduce your team to establish credibility.Fabric CEO Faisal Masud.Courtesy of FabricBusiness: Fabric, an e-commerce platformRaised: $9.5 million seed round in October 2020The cofounders of Fabric started their pitch deck by introducing themselves and listing the major companies where they've worked. This establishes credibility and shows how their experience relates to the market their product serves.Almanac, an open-source platform, also used this approach, though not on the first slide, to demonstrate how its team was positioned to solve the problem its product addresses.See Fabric's pitch deck here.Tell a story before introducing your product.Almanac CEO and cofounder Adam Nathan.AlmanacBusiness: Almanac, an open-source platformRaised: $9 million seed round in May 2020One of the biggest mistakes Almanac CEO and cofounder Adam Nathan sees entrepreneurs make in their pitch decks is introducing their product in the first slides. Instead, they should tell a story to create empathy around the trend, the customer, and their pain points, he said.Yac, a voice-messaging app, also used this method in its first slides by giving compelling stats and adding up the cost to build its case.See Almanac's pitch deck here.Set up the problem and how your product solves it.Songe LaRon and Dave Salvant created Squire to help modernize barbershops.Courtesy of SquireBusiness: Squire, a bookings-and-sales platform for barbershopsRaised: $59 million Series C in December 2020Squire's cofounders, Dave Salvant and Songe LaRon, started their deck by presenting the problem their barbershop-booking platform solves — a common method that they learned from the startup accelerator Y Combinator. The following slides explained how Squire served multiple business functions, eliminating a barbershop's need for several apps for different services.See Squire's pitch deck here.Explain how your product or service works.One of the most important aspects of a pitch deck is its story, said Andrew Parker, the founder of the senior-service startup Papa.Courtesy of PapaBusiness: Papa, an eldercare providerRaised: $18 million Series C in April 2021Papa's Series A round of $10 million was led by the Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian. Since its launch, the startup has raised a total of $91 million. One way its founder, Andrew Parker, achieved this was through an effective pitch deck that guided investors through his service. He not only visualized the experience for the customer but explained how the service recruited and vetted its caregivers.See Papa's pitch deck here.Show what your product looks like.MediaKits founders Kieran O'Brien and Casey Adams.Michael FribergBusiness: Mediakits, a digital resume company Raised: $1 million pre-seed in October 2021During fundraising, Kieran O'Brien and Casey Adams found success showing investors what their product looked like, in addition to walking them through how to navigate the website and build a digital resume. "Being able to pitch investors with a visual representation of what the product's going to look like," O'Brien told Insider. "Even if it doesn't actually exist yet, is a leg up for a founder." See Mediakit's pitch deck here.Explain how your company is different from the competition.Rachael Twumasi-Corson and Joycelyn Mate, the founders of Afrocenchix.AfrocenchixBusiness: Afrocenchix, a beauty and haircare brandRaised: $1.2 million seed round in June 2021Afrocenchix first laid out how it planned to dominate a growing market. Then its cofounders, Rachael Twumasi-Corson and Joycelyn Mate, used a chart to show how its product was distinct from others on the market, specifically as a nontoxic, sustainable, and direct-to-consumer brand.See Afrocenchix's pitch deck here.Demonstrate your company's ability to retain customers or clients.Alix Greenberg is the founder and CEO of ArtSugar, an online art gallery and store.Courtesy of Alix GreenbergBusiness: ArtSugar, an online art store and galleryRaised: $500,000 in July 2021In her pitch deck, ArtSugar's founder, Alix Greenberg, broke down the ArtSugar customer and how her company met their art-shopping habits. She took it one step further and provided survey data on how likely existing customers were to return for another purchase.A-Champs, which makes connected fitness devices, also broke down its target customers and the pain points they face. The beauty brand Afrocenchix highlighted customer retention in its deck as well, while showing it had plenty of room to grow with new customers.See ArtSugar's pitch deck here.Highlight your company's growth since its launch.A-Champs, based in Barcelona and Shanghai, was accepted into the Techstars sports-tech program last year.Courtesy of A-ChampsBusiness: A-Champs, a line of connected devices paired with training programs to gamify fitnessRaised: $124,000 seed round in spring 2020Kilian Saekel, a cofounder of A-Champs, demonstrated his company's progress by dedicating a slide to revenue, showing how he'd made $10,000 in his first month in business and $600,000 in his first year.Papa, an eldercare startup, also did this, using a timeline of its milestones since its launch to show investors that the company was scaling.Read A-Champ's pitch deck here.Liven it up with bright colors and visuals that stay true to your brand.Tomi Aiyeola, Lotanna Ezeike, and Ahmad Karkouti of the invoicing firm XPO.XPOBusiness: XPO, an invoicing firm for creatorsRaised: $1 million in August 2021XPO's cofounder Lotanna Ezeike chose to use bright colors and emojis in his team's pitch deck to keep it bright and youthful. When many startups use the same blues and neutral tones, colors like purple and pink stand out.ArtSugar and Afrocenchix also went this route by using colors and graphics consistent with their branding.See XPO's pitch deck here.Incorporate reviews from reputable clients.Justin Mitchell, Hunter McKinley, and Jordan Walker of Yac.Courtesy of YacBusiness: Yac, a voice-messing appRaised: $7.5 million Series A in January 2021Throughout its deck, Yac inserted client reviews and testimonies to demonstrate how its product was already being used. It focused on clients with name recognition to build credibility, or "social proof," that the product was successful.See Yac's pitch deck here.Make your "ask" slide very specific.Misha's Kind Foods TeamMisha's Kind FoodsBusiness: Misha's Kind Foods, a dairy-free cheese brandRaised: $3 million seed round in April 2021When it came time to ask for an investment, Misha's pitch deck was very clear: The company included the $5 million it was seeking and how it would use the fund for marketing initiatives and infrastructure expansion."Be succinct, get to the point," said company co-founder Aaron Bullock of asking for investments.See Misha's pitch deck here. Understand the investor's background and target the pitch accordingly.Pitching is an important part of scaling your startup.Seraphina TherapeuticsBusiness: Seraphina Therapeutics, a wellness company selling a dietary supplement called Fatty15.Raised: $11.2 million Series A in October 2021Stephanie Venn-Watson's research on dolphins led to a discovery of an essential fat, C15, now sold as a dietary supplement through Seraphina Therapeutics. As a scientist, Venn-Watson said the most challenging part of building her pitch deck was transforming the rigorous scientific studies into information investors would understand. Depending on who Venn-Watson was pitching to, she would gear the conversation towards their expertise."Depending upon what their background was, we either lean heavier into the science background or into the commercialization," said Venn-Watson. "We want to be able to successfully meet the needs of these different investors."See Fatty15's pitch deck here.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 18th, 2022

Russia space chief"s response to Elon Musk"s tweet about dying mysteriously is the latest example of their trolling relationship

Last year, Dmitry Rogozin invited Musk to his family home, but since the Russian space chief has repeatedly taken aim at the SpaceX CEO on Twitter. Elon Musk and Dmitry Rogozin argue on TwitterAssociated Press Elon Musk joked he could "die under mysterious circumstances" on Sunday. It followed comments he said were made by Dmitry Rogozin that Musk should be "held accountable" for supplying Ukraine with Starlink terminals. The Russian space chief has expressed admiration for Musk in the past, but they have a rivalry. Elon Musk appeared to joke on Sunday that he could "die under mysterious circumstances" following a statement he said Roscosmos Space Chief Dmitry Rogozin made to Russian state media.In the statement that Musk said was made by Rogozin, the Russian space chief appeared to take aim at the SpaceX CEO."The internet terminals of Elon Musk's Starlink satellite company were delivered to the militants of the Nazi Azov Battalion and the Ukrainian Marines in Mariupol by military helicopters," Rogozin said, according to a translation of the comments posted by Musk. "Elon Musk, thus, is involved in supplying the fascist forces in Ukraine with military communication equipment. And for this, Elon, you will be held accountable like an adult – no matter how much you'll play the fool," the translation continues.—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2022Later, Rogozin issued a series of responses to Musk's tweets, including his missive about if he were to die under mysterious circumstances."Nobody needs you," Rogozin tweeted per an Insider translation of the private tweet. "Stop fooling around."Heating upThe Twitter spat was just the latest of many public arguments between the two men.SpaceX and Roscosmos have had a longstanding rivalry when it comes to supplying rockets, but negative relations between the Russian space chief and Musk have been heating up since Russia began invading Ukraine.In March, shortly after Elon Musk challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to "single combat," Rogozin dissed Musk using a quote from a 17th-century fairy tale by Alexander Pushkin, a Russian poet known for disguising political messages in his stories and who was exiled from the country due to the themes in his writing. "You, little devil, are still young," Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin tweeted at 50-year-old Musk, according to Insider's translation of the tweet. "Too weak to compete with me; It would only be a waste of time. Overtake my brother first." At the time, Musk responded to Rogozin's tweet with a series of jokes. He told Rogozin they should "form a book club" and quoted Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "The Idiot.""A fool with a heart and no mind is just as unfortunate a fool as a fool with a mind without a heart," according to Insider's translation of Musk's tweet from a passage referencing a woman.Musk also cast Putin and himself as fighters in a pay-per-view match.—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 15, 2022"Elon, get off the toilet, then we'll talk," Rogozin responded with a screenshot of one of Musk's tweets from last year, according to a translation of the tweet.—РОГОЗИН (@Rogozin) March 15, 2022 'Be a guest of my family'Less than a year ago, Rogozin was a self-professed fan of Musk and SpaceX. In September, the Russian space chief invited Musk to his home "to be a guest of my family" and said he'd "already set the teakettle on heat.""Mr. Elon Musk realizes many of the ideas and thoughts that we wanted to realize, but did not get to because, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, our space program halted for some time," Rogozin said. "We respect him as an organizer of the space industry and as an inventor, who is not afraid to take risk."Dmitry Rogozin.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty ImagesAt the time, Rogozin said he had watched Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson blast into space and wished Russian oligarchs would do the same. He invited Musk, along with Bezos and Branson, to a launch of Roscosmos' Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan."Our millionaires prefer to invest more in yachts rather than in spaceships," Rogozin said, according to CNN. "I like what your people are doing — people who spend their own money on things useful for overall society," he added.Past tensionRogozin has questioned in the past whether Roscosmos is tougher than SpaceX . In 2020, he shared photos on Twitter of Roscosmos specialists recovering a piece of a Soyuz rocket in snowy weather."This is not Boca Chica," Rogozin said, according to a translation from CNN, referring to the town where SpaceX tests rockets. "This is Yakutia in winter. I wonder if gentle SpaceX is able to work in such conditions?"SpaceX has long been working to fill the need for Russian propulsion techniques at the International Space Station and cut its transportation costs.In 2020, NASA no longer became entirely reliant on Russian Soyuz rockets and Roscosmos lost out on billions of revenue as SpaceX launched NASA astronauts from US soil for the first time in nearly a decade. SpaceX launched 49 Starlink satellites Thursday.Paul Hennessy/Getty ImagesIn March, Rogozin said that Russia would no longer supply rocket engines to the US following President Joe Biden's sanctions over the war in Ukraine and said that the US could use "broomsticks" to fly to space. The space chief also threatened to cut off Russia's support to the ISS and "send it plummeting to Earth" in March. The comments echo a statement from the space chief in 2014 when he said the US could use a "trampoline" to send astronauts to ISS. In each situation, Musk has leaned into positioning SpaceX as an alternative solution, from providing Starlink to citizens in Ukraine to suggesting SpaceX was America's "broomstick" or "trampoline."In the meantime, Roscosmos and NASA have said they are continuing to work together despite Rogozin's comments online.Translations by Oleksandr Vynogradov.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 9th, 2022

Elon Musk will improve Twitter by allowing for greater free speech without it being disruptive to society, according to entrepreneur Eric Schiffer

Elon Musk is one of the few businessmen who always understood the power of Twitter, Eric Schiffer, the CEO of The Patriarch Organization told Insider. Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk.Susan Walsh/AP Elon Musk will likely improve Twitter, according to entrepreneur and finance expert Eric Schiffer.  Musk always understood the power of Twitter for its ability to influence news and society, he said.  He added Musk will find ways to make Twitter "more inspiring and more exciting" to participate in.  Elon Musk is a forward-thinking entrepreneur, according to finance expert Eric Schiffer. Schiffer, who heads The Patriarch Organization, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, spoke to Insider about the effect he thinks Musk will have on Twitter, following his recent acquisition of the platform.At the beginning of April, Musk bought a 10% stake in Twitter for almost $3 billion, automatically becoming its biggest shareholder. Just weeks later, he offered to buy the company outright for $44 billion. The offer was accepted by Twitter's board, causing distress and disappointment among some of its employees. Recently, one Twitter employee even changed their Twitter profile name to "elon musk is a racist demagogue with a god complex," following the takeover, Insider's Kali Hays reported.Many have been vocal about Musk's buyout of Twitter, and while some leading figures approve of the deal, others haven't. Schiffer among others, including Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, expressed positivity over Musk's Twitter deal.Haugen, for instance, recently told Fox Business she is "cautiously optimistic" about Musk's takeover of Twitter. She also contrasted Musk to her former boss, Mark Zuckerberg, saying she thinks Musk can receive feedback better and make meaningful changes.  Her views mirror that of Schiffer who says he thinks Musk will improve Twitter in the long term while also highlighting his leadership qualities. "I think [Musk] will be able to thread the needle to be able to benefit society with greater free speech without it going too far that it could be disruptive to society," Schiffer said. According to Schiffer, Twitter has in many ways, "gone over the line" in regulating speech. In some cases, he noted, it can be a good thing to filter out voices that have not been helpful to society, but the vast majority of Twitter users are on the platform because they want to speak without prevarication. "I think what he'll try to do is find an even better balance, in accordance with laws, that doesn't have a brutal backlash from a user utilization standpoint, but also empowers free speech," Schiffer said of Musk. Musk has previously spoken about wanting to bring greater free speech to Twitter in an effort to create a platform that is "maximally trusted and broadly inclusive."Schiffer further added that Musk understands what the current standard is in terms of engaging people on social-media platforms. "I would imagine he would enable opportunities for Twitter to have more entertainment components," he said. He added: "[Musk] will want to look for ways to make things more inspiring and more exciting to participate in," and that could include changes to Twitter's algorithm and the way users interact with each other on the platform. Musk is one of the few entrepreneurs that has always understood the power of social media, and particularly the power of Twitter, Schiffer said. This is true "from a revenue perspective but also its ability to influence news, culture, society and certainly commerce," Schiffer added."It's first nature for Musk to want to purchase Twitter because it has great asset potential, he can leverage it in a way that will benefit his businesses and more importantly, has a greater voice in the media and in culture," Schiffer said. It's more than about just being a player but also an orchestrator, he added, alluding to Musk's Twitter purchase.Schiffer's views towards the purchase and the benefits that it may bring contrast with the views of Bill Gates, who recently said Musk could make the platform worse.         Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 7th, 2022

Why McDonald"s got rid of the snack wrap — and why it"s not coming back any time soon

McDonald's cut snack wraps from menus because they were too complicated to make and franchisees complained. Heidi Klum prefers McDonald's.Johannes Simon/Getty Images McDonald's cut snack wraps from menus because they were too complicated to make. Snack wraps didn't sell as well as the chain expected. McDonald's is having success with less complicated menu changes. Fans of the McDonald's snack wrap shouldn't hold their breath for it to return to menus any time soon. There are no plans to bring them back to US menus, the company confirmed to Insider. The snack wrap is simple: grilled or crispy chicken, lettuce, cheese, and and sauce wrapped in a tortilla. As a product of the 2000s, McDonald's initially promoted them with Heidi Klum after their 2006 launch. Snack wraps were intended to appeal to younger consumers who wanted healthier snacks they could eat on the go. A decade later, McDonald's removed snack wraps from national menus, though individual franchisees could still choose to sell them. It turns out customers didn't want healthy options from McDonald's."A lot of people who eat at restaurants aren't interested in health and wellness," Edward Jones analyst Jack Russo told Bloomberg in 2016. You've got to give the people what they want."They were also a major pain for restaurants. They took too long for workers to make, from steaming the tortillas to cutting chicken and folding the ingredients up to fit in the cardboard boxes. McDonald's franchisees complained about how inefficient they were to make and pushed to remove them from menus as the chain pushed to keep service time low. The snack wrap wasn't successful in part because it went up against the growth of other healthy fast-food chains, like Panera and Chipotle. It also had the bad luck of going head to head against the highly popular all-day breakfast. Wraps and continuing breakfast after 10:30 a.m. both added complexity to kitchens that made service slower, and one had to go. Breakfast was more popular with customers, so it won out. Then in 2020, McDonald's removed it from US menus completely as part of a larger menu simplification. Now, McDonald's is seeing growing sales and shrinking wait times for drive-thrus. The chain has found a way to introduce menu items without adding complexity for workers, with Famous Orders, Menu Hacks, and the return of Szechuan sauce. With these low-cost menu additions, there's little incentive to add new complexities that would anger franchisees like snack wraps. Recently, McDonald's fans have made some efforts to show McDonald's that they want snack wraps back. A search for "McDonald's snack wraps" on Twitter reveals hundreds of customers begging for its return. Some tweets even ask singer Doja Cat to bring back the wraps, after her involvement in Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza return. For US customers who can't wait any longer for their snack wrap fix, they're still on McDonald's menus in Canada.Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

The mean tweets are coming from inside the House? Twitter incivility up among politicians, study says

A new study found that tweets by members of Congress have grown more uncivil over the last decade. Researchers attribute the change in part to how Twitter incentivizes mean tweets.A new study found that tweets by members of Congress have grown more uncivil over the last decade. Researchers attribute the change in part to how Twitter incentivizes mean tweets......»»

Category: topSource: latimesApr 28th, 2022

Twitter Employees Have Spent Years Trying to Make the Platform Safer. Elon Musk Could Undermine All That

Twitter employees told TIME that the billionaire's record bodes poorly for the company's anti-harassment efforts There’s an old joke among Twitter employees that being on the platform is like playing a huge online multiplayer game where every day there’s a different main character—meaning a person who’s critiqued, harassed, or otherwise shoved into the spotlight. According to the joke, you have just one goal in the game of Twitter: never become that main character yourself. One day in 2018, Twitter’s main character was Vernon Unsworth, a British diver who’d spent days assisting the rescue of a group of Thai boys trapped in a flooded cave. After billionaire Elon Musk offered a miniscule submarine to the rescue divers, Unsworth told the media that Musk’s idea was just a useless PR stunt. Musk then took to Twitter, where (in tweets that he later deleted) he baselessly accused the man of being a “pedo guy,” or pedophile. The tweets prompted hundreds of Musk fans to pile on to the diver with abusive, humiliating attacks. Musk subsequently apologized for the tweets in court, saying he did not mean for them to be taken literally. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Illustration by Tim O’Brien for TIME The saga was an example of dogpiling: a phenomenon in which powerful Twitter users spur legions of their fans to harass someone else. For years, teams of Twitter employees have been working—albeit with limited successes—to reduce dogpiling and other common forms of abuse. On April 25, those Twitter employees learned that Musk, architect of the “pedo guy” saga, could become their new boss—after the board accepted a $44 billion dollar bid from the world’s richest man. In statement announcing that Twitter had agreed to let him purchase the social network, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX spoke in grandiose terms familiar to anyone who follows his pronouncements on colonizing Mars or building electric vehicles: “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” 🚀💫♥️ Yesss!!! ♥️💫🚀 pic.twitter.com/0T9HzUHuh6 — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022 But many on the frontlines of the fight for democratic spaces online have questioned whether Musk’s ownership of Twitter would undermine, rather than bolster, democracy. To employees who had witnessed Musk’s own behavior on the platform, the billionaire’s words about freedom of speech rang hollow. With more than 85 million followers, Musk has used his influential account to not only direct insults at critics and share memes about going to the bathroom, but also, according to regulators, to make “false and misleading public statements” that boosted Tesla’s stock price and harmed investors. Some Twitter employees believe this record bodes especially poorly for the company’s anti-harassment efforts. “Multiple times, his followers have been the perpetrators of targeted harassment, and the use of his profile has encouraged dogpiling—which are the exact behaviors we’re trying to limit,” said an employee on Twitter’s platform health team, which works on making the site a safer online space for users. “Since Trump was banned, Musk has become Twitter’s power user number one,” the person said. The employee, who was not authorized to speak publicly, added that they feared a Musk acquisition would at the very least reduce user trust in Twitter’s anti-abuse efforts, and at worst could result in the work being deprioritized or canceled. Members of marginalized communities—who are disproportionately the victims of online threats and abuse—are among those most protected by Twitter’s current content moderation system. Activists from these communities share Twitter employees’ concerns that those protections could be rolled back. “If Elon Musk were to take over, the damage that would be done would spread from Twitter workers not being able to implement the things they need in order to keep the platform safe,” Jelani Drew-Davi, a campaign manager at the digital civil rights group Kairos, told TIME in the days leading up to the deal. As an example of Musk’s record on similar matters, Drew-Davi cited a lawsuit alleging a culture of rampant racist abuse toward Black workers in a Tesla factory in California. Since the explosion of social media usage more than a decade ago, researchers and technologists have forged an understanding of the ways that the design of social media sites has an impact on civic discourse and, ultimately, democratic processes. One of their key findings: sites that privilege free speech above all else tend to become spaces where civic discourse is drowned out by harassment, restricting participation to a privileged few. That finding has informed Twitter’s recent work. While the company does remove tweets and ban accounts of severe offenders, much of its current approach focuses on nudging users to be kinder. Before Musk’s bid, one of the platform’s stated priorities was facilitating “safe, inclusive, and authentic conversations.” It has also pledged to “minimize the distribution and reach of harmful or misleading information, especially when its intent is to disrupt a civic process or cause offline harm.” In cases where tweets are found to be bad for civic discourse but not illegal—like misinformation or insults—tweets can be removed from recommendation algorithms, meaning that Twitter doesn’t boost them into the feeds of users who do not follow their author directly, rather than deleted from the platform entirely. It is unclear whether these policies will continue under the ownership of Musk, who has railed against what he calls “shadow bans.” “In a way, [Musk’s] goals are aligned with ours in that we are certainly interested in protecting democracy,” says the Twitter employee on the health team. “But the idea of bringing more free speech to the platform exposes his naiveté with respect to the nuts and bolts. A lot of platforms [have been] founded on this free speech principle, but the reality is that either they become a cesspool that people don’t want to use, or they realize that there is actually the need for some level of moderation.” Business analysts point out that content moderation is good for profits, too. “Without vigorous content moderation, the platform Musk seeks to own would be swamped by spam, porn, anti-vaccination misinformation, QAnon conspiracies, and fraudulent campaigns to undermine the midterms and 2024 presidential election,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, in a statement. “That’s not a business that most social media users or advertisers would want to associate with.” Musk’s takeover deal wasn’t a straightforward tale. It took several twists and turns, as funding looked doubtful and Twitter’s board of directors seemed reticent, adopting a strategy known as a “poison pill” to ward off a takeover. Throughout, Musk cast his quest as flying in the face of intransigent Silicon Valley elites. His statements on free speech often align with Republican talking-points that conservatives are being unfairly censored by tech companies, and—in a move that could open the door for former President Donald Trump’s return to the platform—Musk has said that he would prefer “time-outs” for users who break the site’s rules, rather than permanent bans. (Twitter banned Trump permanently after Jan. 6, 2021, for incitement to violence during his attempt to undemocratically overturn the results of the 2020 election.) Read more: What Elon Musk’s Purchase of Twitter Could Mean for Donald Trump’s Account The debate over transparency on Twitter Alongside vague commitments including adding an edit button and getting rid of spam on the platform, Musk’s most substantial call has been for Twitter to be more transparent about its decision-making. He wants it to “open source” its algorithm, so users can find out when Twitter has stopped recommending their tweets to other users. “That action should be made apparent,” he said at an April 14 TED conference, “so there’s no behind the scenes manipulation, either algorithmically or manually.” But employees who work in the trenches of content moderation say that, while total transparency is a noble goal, informing users about which specific tweets are being “down-ranked” would in practice give bad actors helpful information about how to evade limits on spam, misinformation and hate speech. Indeed, Twitter is already among the most transparent of all social networks in terms of sharing how its algorithm works, as well as researching its own flaws and sharing the results publicly. That research suggests that in practice, more conservative views may have benefited most from the design of Twitter’s algorithm. Last October, Twitter released research showing that its algorithm was acting suspiciously: in the runup to the 2020 election in the U.S., rightwing partisan news sources received a greater boost from Twitter’s algorithm than moderate or left-leaning news sources. The research also found a similar effect for politicians in six out of the seven countries studied, including the U.S. It showed that Twitter’s algorithm recommended, to more users, posts by politicians from mainstream rightwing parties than those from centrist or leftwing parties. Six months on, that team is continuing its work looking at algorithmic bias, amid suggestions from some conservatives that such work means meddling with freedom of speech. Early indications suggest, according to Twitter, that the platform’s boosting of center-right politicians isn’t an intrinsic quality of its algorithm. Instead, researchers have found that amplification shifts over time in line with the topics people care about and changes in how users behave. The data is helping the researchers begin to arrive at an understanding of Twitter as a “sociotechnical system,” with definitions about what constitutes normal and abnormal levels of algorithmic amplification of political content. Such an understanding may one day allow the company to intervene when dangerous real-world events are unfolding. But doing so would be a political intervention necessarily based on Twitter’s values as a company. Overnight, those values appear to have changed from “facilitating healthy conversation” to Musk’s self-professed free speech “absolutism.” Read more: Why Elon Musk’s Plans to ‘Fix’ Twitter Will Be Harder to Implement Than He Thinks On Twitter, where discourse is limited at 280 characters per tweet, nuanced discussion of complex research and value judgments isn’t easy—and in the febrile climate, even Twitter’s own employees run the risk of becoming Twitter’s dreaded main character. Rumman Chowdhury, the leader of the team that carried out the algorithmic amplification research, suggested in a series of tweets that she was opposed to Musk buying the company, though she did not say that this was out of a fear that his takeover would spell an end to her work. Instead, her comments appeared to reference his capacity to weaponize Twitter mobs against critics. “Musk’s immediate chilling effect was something that bothered me significantly,” she wrote. “Twitter has a beautiful culture of hilarious constructive criticism, and I saw that go silent because of his minions attacking employees.” Soon enough, she muted her notifications on the thread, adding: “the trolls have descended.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 26th, 2022

Will the Pornhub mansion fire ever be solved?

A year later, the fire that engulfed the $16 million Montreal mansion of Pornhub CEO Feras Antoon remains unsolved. Feras Antoon's multi-million dollar home in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville section of Montreal on the night of the fire.Stéphane Grégoire/Radio-Canada On April 25, 2021, a $16 million Montreal mansion belonging to the CEO of Pornhub went up in flames. The fire remains under investigation, and no one has been charged.  By his own admission, CEO Feras Antoon has scores of enemies—complicating the investigation. Last April 25, just before midnight, beneath a nearly full moon, two figures were spotted on the construction site of a massive, nearly-completed mansion on the edge of a suburban Montreal nature park.The hulking structure, two grinding years of construction in the making, was so large that a local newspaper called it "pharaonic." Plans called for eight bedrooms, seven baths, multiple elevators, a piano suite, an art gallery, a spa, and a sports complex that doubled as a grand ballroom.In minutes, the mansion was ablaze. Neighboring homes in the affluent Ahuntsic-Cartierville community were evacuated, their occupants hustled away in pajamas. Eighty firefighters battled the three-alarm blaze well into dawn. Investigators quickly determined the fire's source and within hours the incident was designated a criminal arson, according to a Montreal Police spokesperson. A year later, no one has been charged, and investigators say, in all likelihood, that no one ever will be. ("The investigation into this criminal arson is still ongoing," a spokesman said last week.) Fingers have been pointed in all directions and nearly every element of the crime remains shrouded in mystery. One reason for this comes down to the dizzying array of possible motives. That's because the mansion's owner, Feras Antoon, the CEO of Pornhub, was one of the most despised men in Canada, and beyond. Complicating things further is the fact that arson is a notoriously difficult crime to prosecute: because fire often destroys the evidence necessary to prove an ignition source and tie a suspect to the crime. Between 2016 and 2020, only 10.1% of arson investigations in Canada resulted in arrests, according to government statistics. "At the end of the day, this is one of the easiest crimes you can commit," said Glenn Corbett, associate professor of fire science at John Jay College in New York. Sudden scrutiny At the time of the fire, Antoon—who co-founded Pornhub's parent company, Mindgeek, in 2007—was tumbling through a bruising season of public relations disasters, investigations, lawsuits, and death threats. "I can't even count how many comments I saw from people saying to burn the company or my house down,"Antoon told Vanity Fair earlier this year. "For a while, it was easy to dismiss the tweets as just people on the internet talking. Then my house burned down."For nearly two years, victims of child porn, revenge porn, rape and sexual assault had been coming forward to say that Pornhub had ruined their lives. Many described the same harrowing one-two punch: First, learning that their sexual assault (or in some cases their private, consensual sexual encounters) was streaming on Pornhub. Then, being repeatedly ignored or rebuffed when they demanded the videos be taken down. Months of social media campaigns, news probes, and civil lawsuits against Pornhub had reached a fever pitch by December 2020, when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published a scathing portrait of the company. Kristof charged that Pornhub was "infested with rape videos [and] monetizes child rape, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags." In a statement released in response to the Kristof's reporting, the company said that "Pornhub is unequivocally committed to combating child sexual abuse material, and has instituted a comprehensive, industry-leading trust and safety policy to identify and eradicate illegal material from our community." The company added that any assertion that the company allows child videos on the site "is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue."Feras Antoon's mansion on Jean-Bourdon Avenue on an April night in 2021.Stéphane Grégoire/Radio-CanadaMastercard, Visa and Discover all cut ties, and under enormous public pressure, Pornhub deleted all non-verified user-uploaded content—80% of its library. It also promised it had significantly improved its auditing and moderation software and staffing levels. (Pornhub no longer allows unverified users to upload X-rated content, according to company news releases.)  In February 2021, Antoon and Pornhub's COO were summoned to testify before the Canadian House of Commons' ethics committee, part of five months of hearings into the business practices of Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek.For all Antoon's notoriety and wealth—he reportedly tools around Montreal in a bright yellow Lamborghini with vanity plates—the controversial porn king has gone to great lengths to protect his own privacy. He rarely speaks in public, instead communicating through press releases. The hearings marked the first time many longtime critics of Pornhub had ever seen Antoon's face. "We are very proud that we built a product that gets 170 million people visiting a day, four million Canadians, 30% of them women," Antoon said, referring to Pornhub. "Don't you believe if those four million Canadians who come to our site every day saw something so heinous and criminal, they would be calling the police?" Antoon continued, according to a transcript of his testimony. "We created a very good product that I and our 1,800 employees who have families and children are proud of. It is not perfect."Two weeks before the fire, with the Pornhub hearings dominating Canadian headlines, Vice published a piece focused on far-right extremists' calls on alt social platforms like Gab for violence against company executives. The piece was headlined, "The Crusade Against Pornhub is Going to Get Somebody Killed."On April 22—three days before the fire—the mansion went up for sale for close to $16 million.Repeated attempts to reach Antoon and other Pornhub executives through Pornhub's public relations liaisons were unsuccessful. A company official who identified himself only as Ian and used a Gmail account did not respond to written questions about the fire or claims made about the company. A 'Tube' site revolutionBut where did Pornhub come from, and why was it so loved but also so hated? Almost immediately after YouTube debuted in 2005, a flurry of knock-offs—then known as "Tube" sites—began popping up. Along with a few friends, Antoon and a few college friends at Montreal's Concordia University launched a series of X-rated Tube sites that encouraged users to upload and share videos. "Suddenly porn went from being something people would happily pay an inflated price for to something that people would not pay anything for," said Lux Alptraum, a veteran writer and podcaster on the porn industry.   As the deluge of pirated porn flooded to Pornhub and other Tube sites, traditional porn sites saw their revenue streams dry up. Once they began to fail, MindGeek eventually became the dominant player, Alptraum said. Pornhub, the most successful of the Tube sites, became the crown jewel. "It cannot be stressed enough that these [other tube] sites were built on pirated content," Alptraum said. "It wasn't that they were creating their own content or relying on amateur content. They were allowing users to steal content from other sites and upload it."A PornHub logo is seen displayed on a smartphone screen on March 16, 2022.Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesWhile critics contend that Antoon and fellow MindGeek executives built their empire on aggressive tactics, they were also seen, even grudgingly by some, as innovators.  In 2019, a pair of prominent U.S. law professors published a paper in the New York University Law Review contending that MindGeek was on "the leading edge of data-driven creativity," and had grown more adept at data crunching and fine-tuning user experience algorithms than even Netflix.'Sick to my stomach'Around the time construction began on Antoon's mansion in 2018, strange things had begun happening to Vicky Galy, a 34-year-old paralegal more than 11,000 miles away in Hendersonville, Tennessee.People she met on the street would insist they knew her from somewhere, but from precisely where they could never recall. Strange men sat in parked cars outside her home. A new male friend on Facebook made sudden, indiscreet sexual overtures.A single mom raising a teenage son and a daughter with Down syndrome, Galy said she had made some bad decisions regarding men she met online. One of them, she said, would often record their sexual encounters, with or without her consent."There were three kinds of videos he made of me," she recalled with a sigh when we spoke. "At first, he would pull out his phone on me" during sexual encounters. "The second kind were hidden camera video during our consensual sex. The third kind were made on a trip to Vegas where I was either drugged or intoxicated." As she would later testify in February, during the Pornhub hearings, Galy told me she was floored one day to learn that at least 30 of those videos were circulating on Pornhub under some variation of her name "Vicky." (Galy was one of numerous Pornhub victims who testified before Canadian lawmakers earlier this year.) "To think of the amount of money that Pornhub has made off my trauma, date rape and sexual exploitation," Galy told lawmakers, "makes me sick to my stomach."Another was Serena Fleites, who brought several lawmakers to tears when she told them about how she had developed a crush on an older boy in eighth grade and how he begged her to send him a nude video of herself and she ultimately complied, only to learn the boy had uploaded it to Pornhub and shared it with his classmates.Victim testimony from Fleites, Galy and several women identified as "Jane Does" directly contradicted Pornhub executives' claims that the site responds swiftly to takedown requests and works diligently to remove child pornography. For some victims, like Galy, feelings of frustration and embarrassment were compounded by outrage upon learning that both her alleged abuser and Pornhub were profiting from the scheme. She said she went to the police, but that they didn't believe her. She contacted local law firms to help her sue, but each wanted a $10,000 retainer, she said, and besides, she said, "no one wanted to sue him because he was worth nothing anyway." She cut five inches from her hair and dyed it brown so she wouldn't look like the woman people recognized from the Pornhub videos, took a leave of absence from work, and she and her children moved in with her mother.  'Not having people believe me was the hardest part of this whole thing," she said. "I had a sergeant tell me, 'I'm not going to have my detectives sit and watch porn all day.'"Galy was also contacting Pornhub's legal department to get the videos taken down. "They mostly ignored me, and then kept insisting it wasn't me," she said. Two days before the Canadian hearings began, Galy said, she received an email from Pornhub's legal director saying they would delete the account."That was the happiest day of my life," Galy said. "I didn't know then that there were hundreds more videos on other sites. With some of them there's not even a way to report [an unauthorized] video like this, so I'll really never be able to get these videos down completely."  A protester holds a placard during a demonstration following the blocking of the adult website Pornhub outside the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society in Bangkok.Yuttachai Kongprasert/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesMafia RowDuring the same two years leading up to the hearings, Antoon had been quietly overseeing the construction of a massive mansion for himself and his wife and two children on a prime tract of land that bordered a cherished nature park. According to Vanity Fair, the property was within walking distance from where Antoon grew up.  Located on the northern edge of Montreal, the spot had a fraught history even before Antoon became involved—first as the site of a notorious Gangland assassination, and then as a front line between environmentalists and developers. The Mafia had moved into the neighborhood in the 1970s. Antoine Berthelet Avenue, the road just behind where Antoon would later build his mansion, became known as "Mafia Row." It was there that the Sicilian crime family led by Nicolo Rizzuto would run their operations for the next few decades. On November 10, 2010, an assassin crept onto what would later be Antoon's property, and fired a single shot through the double-reinforced pane glass windows of Nicolo Rizzuto's solarium, killing Rizzuto in his kitchen, according to mob author Peter Edwards. "This was an extremely good sniper shot," Edwards said, noting that investigators long-suspected the triggerman to be Calabrian soldier Salvatore Calautti, who himself was assassinated in 2013.The fatal shot effectively ended the Rizzuto family's three-decade long reign. (The hit series 'Bad Blood' was based on a book about Rizzuto's son and successor, Vito Rizzuto.)The assassination, like the arson fire, remains unsolved to this day—though a source told Insider that while Montreal Police are exploring theories related to Pornhub and Antoon's spectrum of critics, Mafia involvement is not suspected.   An 'eco-corridor' vs. a development Four years after Rizzuto's shooting, a different kind of war broke out on the same spot over a plan to clear 200 trees on the border of the Bois-de-Saraguay nature park.The community had been trying to create an "eco-corridor" between the river and Bois de Saraguay nature park so that boaters could dock on the riverside and then hike through trails to the nature park. While the park itself was protected from development as a national heritage site, sections of the border woodlands remained in private hands. The local government didn't have the funding to purchase and preserve the land, according to Simon Van Vliet, a reporter for Ahuntsic-Cartierville's Neighborhood Journal newspaper, which produced a three-part series on the controversy during the months leading up to the arson fire. A green alley in Montreal's Ahuntsic-Cartierville district, the district where Antoon's mansion was also located.Anne-Sophie Thill/AFP via Getty ImagesLocal property owner Francesco Lapara had other plans – to cut down the trees and subdivide his land into residential lots. Van Vliet said local officials repeatedly rejected Lapara's development applications, but he went to court and won. Antoon and his sister, Dana Antoon, a local real estate agent, purchased all four lots, according to Van Vliet's reporting. Construction began in 2018. Reached by Business Insider, Dana Antoon declined any comment on the land deals. Van Vliet described Antoon's compound as a "castle" among mansions."People were just kind of baffled by the lavishness of the place, and obviously upset about the ecological loss and the setback to the project of building this eco corridor."  Jacques LeBlue, a spokesman for Environmental Mobilization Ahuntsic-Cartierville which fought the clearing of trees on Antoon's property, seemed to echo this frustration when he said "the subject of Mr. Antoon has been a tragicomic distraction from our core activities, every time his name gets associated with ours. This only got worse with the fire." LeBleu declined further comment.Sylvia Oljemark, 81, a neighborhood resident since her birth, said local residents watched in disbelief as the structure rose up over the neighborhood."It was enormous," she said. "Enormous.""To think [local officials] could permit somebody to purchase land and build a huge structure [and] take down all the trees," she said, "it was personally reprehensible to me."No resolution  The hearings neither shut Pornhub down nor rehabilitated the public image of Antoon and Pornhub COO David Tassillo, who also testified. Arnold Viersen, a conservative MP from Alberta, said the executives' defense, which he saw as "Hey, we're just doing business here, we're just making money," was "very frustrating to us as members of Parliament.""The Canadian public was outraged at the smugness," he said. Viersen said that he has been investigating Pornhub for five years, and noted that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were equally frustrated in questioning Pornhub executives during the hearing. "It's a fairly non-partisan thing," he said. "While [Liberal MP] Charlie Angus and I don't agree on much we were both fighting on the same side of the war."Personally, Viersen said he was "incredulous that the fire happened to come in the middle of the ethics committee hearings." "I've just got a feeling it's just a masterful sympathy play," he said, though he offered no evidence that Antoon, or anyone Angus has knowledge of, had a hand in torching the mansion. "That's my intuition on it, given what I know about them. They are very good at changing people's perceptions." Last week, a Toronto personal injury law firm announced it had filed a $500 million class action lawsuit against Pornhub. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 25th, 2022

Wall Street"s "Commodity Trading" Risk Soars, Confirms "Volatility Trap" Doom-Loop Under Way

Wall Street's 'Commodity Trading' Risk Soars, Confirms 'Volatility Trap' Doom-Loop Under Way Two weeks ago, reflecting on the consequences of the West's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Goldman's Jeff Currie warned that commodities are entering a volatility trap. In the report, he highlighted two self-sustaining factors - physical and financial - that are likely to last years rather than weeks, prompting higher prices and higher volatility. In the period since his report, bank earnings have hit and have confirmed the potential vicious doom-loop of the 'financial' factor that will lead commodity prices higher. Specifically, Curries explained that volatility is both curbing liquidity and restricting access to the very credit required to maintain orderly financial and physical trading of commodities. In addition, it is also exacerbating the medium- to long-term capital shortages that have built up after an era of low returns and ample supply, reinforced by political and investor ESG concerns. This can be visualized in the following vicious doom-loop of volatility creating more illiquidity and lowering capital, leading to more volatility and so on... As oil becomes more volatile... ...the range of possible outcomes becomes wider, with a greater potential for loss... ...that shifting distribution drives up the Vale-at-Risk (VaR)... ...which drives down the hedgeable amount of commodities, for any given amount of risk capital... And a lack of risk capital lowers market participation, driving down liquidity and exacerbating volatility, and further discouraging potential lenders and investors, reinforcing lower participation and higher volatility. And so with all that background, we switch our attention to the recent bank earnings which gives us insight into the last two steps of the vicious cycle... Specifically, commodities trading exposures have been going up on Wall Street, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leaving banking firms vulnerable to large swings in asset values. As Bryan Jung reports, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan have both reported a rise in commodities trading risk measures, according to their first-quarter earnings disclosures, with GSG reporting its highest uptick in a decade. Goldman’s average daily Value at Risk (VaR) in commodities hit a total of $49 million in Q1 2022, up from $32 million in Q4 2021, well above the $33 million average VaR it had in equities trading and the $25 million in currency trading. JPMorgan Chase reported its average daily VaR in commodities at $15 million in Q1 2022, up from $12 million the previous quarter and surpassing its $12 million in equities and $4 million for foreign exchange. Additionally, Citigroup, which does not report VaR alongside its earnings, disclosed in its latest report that its VaR in commodities was up year-on-year every quarter in 2021, with a peak of $48 million at the end of last year’s second quarter. Exactly as Goldman's Currie forecast, which will lead to a reduction risk capital, lowering market participation, driving down liquidity and exacerbating volatility, and further discouraging potential lenders and investors, reinforcing lower participation and higher volatility. Furthermore, macro hedge funds and other financial traders are holding back - just as we would expect on higher risk capital requirements. Their net-long positions for Brent and WTI are the lowest since Nov. 2020. They’ve cut their exposure this year despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The long-short ratio for crude of 4.5 is way below the five-year average of 6.3. This volatility trap is a direct consequence of the "Revenge of the Old Economy". As commodity producers under-invest in new supply, commodity inventories deplete, raising volatility as the market loses its balancing buffer between small supply and demand shocks. This volatility in turn keeps commodity producer assets unattractive - it raises the uncertainty surrounding the investment's true value, lowering its appeal to investors. Capital continues to stay away from the sector, keeping new supply capacity - and hence inventories - low. And as we saw in the 1970s, such a volatility trap can create persistently higher commodity inflation and a supply constrained market. In the 1970s, the markets turned to long-term fixed price contracts and built large conglomerates to deepen the balance sheets required to deal with these funding stresses. In the 2000s (pre GFC) they used financial markets, and a higher degree of bank leverage, to share the risks. Neither avenue is fully available in today’s regulatory environment. But, it's different this time. Given there is unlikely to be a widespread lift of sanctions on Russia, regardless of the outcome of the war, as has historically been the case with such regulatory impositions, Goldman expects this new, more volatile pricing regime to persist for the foreseeable future. All of which reinforces Goldman's forecast for $125/bbl Brent crude in 2H22 and reinforces Poszar's warnings that you can print money but not print oil, iron, or wheat, or VLCCs or other ships to guarantee delivery of the critical commodities. Thus, as Poszar concludes rather ominously, commodity reserves will be an essential part of Bretton Woods III, and historically wars are won by those who have more food and energy supplies. And as Goldman's price forecast suggests, the current 'lull' in the stagflationary storm (as oil prices slide to post-invasion lows) is perhaps just the eye of a very much larger and longer storm. However, while many have been predicting the birth of a new monetary system in the past decade, it is the nuances of Zoltan's vision of the monetary future that is especially troubling: as he puts it "we are witnessing the birth of Bretton Woods III - a new world (monetary) order centered around commodity-based currencies in the East that will likely weaken the Eurodollar system and also contribute to inflationary forces in the West." Tyler Durden Wed, 04/20/2022 - 14:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 20th, 2022

‘The Idea Exposes His Naiveté.’ Twitter Employees On Why Elon Musk Is Wrong About Free Speech

Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter for $43 billion on April 14, in what he claimed was a move that would allow him to change the platform to promote more “free speech.” The world’s richest man calls himself a “free speech absolutist” and has criticized Twitter’s increasing usage of content moderation. “I invested in Twitter… Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter for $43 billion on April 14, in what he claimed was a move that would allow him to change the platform to promote more “free speech.” The world’s richest man calls himself a “free speech absolutist” and has criticized Twitter’s increasing usage of content moderation. “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Musk said in an SEC filing disclosed Thursday. “However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] But many on the frontlines of the fight for democratic spaces online have questioned whether Musk’s move – if it is indeed serious, and if he can raise the required cash, and if the offer is accepted by the Twitter board – would undermine, rather than bolster, democracy. Employees of the platform and other experts have also spoken publicly about their fears that Musk may try to erode Twitter’s recent moves to protect marginalized users and tackle harassment and misinformation. Since the explosion of social media usage more than a decade ago, researchers and technologists have forged an understanding of the ways that the design of social media sites has an impact on civic discourse and, ultimately, democratic processes. One of their key findings: sites that privilege free speech above all else tend to result in spaces where civic discourse is drowned out by harassment, restricting participation to a privileged few. That finding has informed much of Twitter’s recent work. Among its current stated priorities are pledges to facilitate “safe, inclusive, and authentic conversations,” and to “minimize the distribution and reach of harmful or misleading information, especially when its intent is to disrupt a civic process or cause offline harm.” A Twitter employee on the health team, which focuses on keeping Twitter a safe, user-friendly space, agreed to speak with TIME on condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly. “In a way, [Musk’s] goals are aligned with ours in that we are certainly interested in protecting democracy. But the idea of bringing more free speech to the platform exposes his naiveté with respect to the nuts and bolts of content moderation,” the person told TIME a few hours after Musk’s offer was made public. “If you look historically, there have been a lot of platforms founded on this free speech principle, but the reality is that either it becomes a cesspool that people don’t want to use, or they realize that there is actually the need for some level of moderation.” It is unclear what specific changes Musk seeks to make to the platform beyond a popular pledge to introduce an edit button to the site, and the desire to make Twitter’s algorithm more transparent. But some employees have spoken out about their fears that Musk would undermine the company’s commitments to ending targeted harassment and facilitating what it calls “conversational health.” “From a health perspective, there’s a lot of data scientists and policy researchers at Twitter who all have deep expertise in grounding policies in trying to create this environment where inclusive conversations can be had,” the Twitter employee on the health team said. “Musk doesn’t have the background in doing this kind of work, but believes he has the solution… Health is seen internally as a big priority. If Musk were to gain control, there’s the sense that this health work would be deprioritized.” Other experts in the field have criticized Musk’s apparent desire to roll back Twitter’s content moderation. “Effective moderation is not inherently in conflict with free speech,” said Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s former head of civic integrity, in a tweet on Thursday. “It is required for people to feel free to speak. Anyone who doesn’t get this has a high school stoner level grasp of societal issues and has never spent [five minutes] working on trust & safety.” “Musk has implied that he wants Twitter to allow more of what might be considered harassment on the platform,” Tracy Chou, the founder of Block Party, a third-party app for muting harassment on Twitter, said in a statement to TIME on Thursday. “No matter what free speech advocates declare, some moderation is always going to be necessary or users leave. The question is where the platform draws the line at what it wants to enforce.” Read more: Elon Musk Offers to Buy Twitter for $43 Billion Musk does not seem to be proposing anything radically new – rather, a return to an earlier, less-regulated Twitter. Before the dying months of the Trump era, Twitter was a platform that regularly cast itself as free speech absolutist. For years, former CEO Jack Dorsey pushed back against calls to take stricter action against the rise of misinformation, harassment and conspiracy theories on his site by saying he was committed to freedom of expression. But as Trump’s presidency tested the limits of social media platforms’ ability to tolerate unfettered speech, especially by those to whom it gives the largest megaphones, Twitter came increasingly to rely on content moderation – deleting tweets and accounts that violate its rules – along with more subtle tweaks to the site’s design that are intended to bolster the health of public conversation and the spread of reliable information. That pivot to a more interventionist approach was encapsulated by Twitter’s eventual decision, on Jan. 6, 2021, to permanently ban Trump from the platform for trying to undemocratically overturn the results of the 2020 election. (Some onlookers wonder whether Musk would seek to reverse Trump’s ban. In a live TED interview on April 14, Musk said he would generally prefer Twitter prioritize “time outs rather than permanent bans.”) Today, Twitter’s employee base is largely liberal, and many have spoken out publicly – via tweet – against Musk’s recent attempts to influence the company’s approach to content. Rumman Chowdhury, Twitter’s head of responsible machine learning, said in a tweet that she had already observed a chilling effect on the freedom of speech of Twitter employees after Musk’s public pronouncements. “Twitter has a beautiful culture of hilarious constructive criticism, and I saw that go silent because of his minions attacking employees,” she wrote. (She subsequently muted her notifications on the thread “because the trolls have descended.”) Others engaged in the time-honored Twitter tradition of sh-tposting. “Dudes will try to buy companies instead of going to therapy,” said Amro Mousa, another engineering manager at Twitter, on Thursday, in a tweet that was retweeted by several of his colleagues. Many are still holding out hope that CEO Parag Agrawal and the Twitter board will reject Musk’s offer to buy the company, which some financial analysts have suggested undervalues it. Another employee, who also spoke with TIME on the condition of anonymity, said: “I cannot wait for Twitter to say no.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 14th, 2022

"Big Short" investor Michael Burry warns US stocks are heavily overvalued and poised to tumble

The Scion Asset Management boss highlighted the price-to-sales ratio of the S&P 500 equal-weight index, which has nearly doubled in the past decade. Michael Burry.Bloomberg TV Michael Burry cautioned US stocks are hugely overvalued and could plummet in price. "The Big Short" investor noted the S&P 500's price-to-sales ratio has nearly doubled in 10 years. Burry has been raising the alarm on a historic market bubble, and predicting an epic crash. Michael Burry, the investor of "The Big Short" fame, warned US stocks are heavily overvalued and poised to tumble in a now-deleted tweet on Monday night."Nigh perched with a multiple problem," Burry tweeted, attaching a chart tracking the price-to-sales ratio of the S&P 500 equal-weight index. The ratio was below 1.0 for most of the 1990s and 2000s, but it has nearly doubled over the past decade to north of 1.9 today, the chart showed.Presumably, Burry wanted to show the index is trading at nearly twice the revenue of its constituents — indicating the valuation multiples on America's largest public companies have stretched to unsustainable heights.The investor likely used the price-to-sales ratio because it's more speculative than price-to-earnings, or price-to-book value. It compares a company's market capitalization to its revenues, instead of its profits or net assets.Burry is best known for his massive bet against the mid-2000s US housing bubble, which was immortalized in the book and movie "The Big Short." He also paved the way for the meme-stock craze by investing in GameStop before its shares skyrocketed in January 2021, and made high-profile bets against Elon Musk's Tesla and Cathie Wood's flagship Ark Innovation ETF last year.The Scion Asset Management chief has repeatedly sounded the alarm on excessive asset valuations, and predicted a historic market sell-off, in since-deleted tweets over the past 18 months."Greatest Speculative Bubble of All Time in All Things," Burry declared in June. He also predicted "the mother of all crashes" that month, and cautioned the market was "dancing on a knife's edge" in February 2021.Moreover, Burry warned in June 2021 that the prices of bitcoin, meme stocks, and electric-vehicle companies had been "driven by speculative fervor to insane heights from which the fall will be dramatic and painful."Here's a screenshot of Burry's now-deleted tweet:@michaeljburryRead more: The founder of a Michael Burry subreddit analyzes 'The Big Short' investor's latest portfolio changes — and explains why it's so important to track his movesRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 12th, 2022

Elon Musk has a "very human side to him," according to a NASA astronaut who completed a SpaceX mission

NASA astronaut Doug Hurley discussed what it was like working with Elon Musk and a new Netflix documentary he features in, in a Fox interview. SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Elon Musk has a "very human side to him," according to NASA astronaut Doug Hurley.  Hurley's comments came ahead of a new Netflix documentary covering a historic SpaceX launch in 2020. In an interview with Fox News, Hurley discussed working with Musk and the new documentary.  NASA astronaut Doug Hurley reminisced on what it was like working with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk before he flew on a historic flight to space and back in 2020. In an interview with Fox News, Hurley spoke about his impressions of Musk, the billionaire space race, and a new Netflix documentary, "Return to Space" which follows Hurley's journey and that of fellow astronaut Bob Behnken as they embarked on the first human SpaceX mission to the International Space Station. In May 2020, Musk and SpaceX made history after the company successfully launched two astronauts into space aboard a Crew Dragon spaceship. Shortly after, the astronauts' ship docked at the International Space Station.The mission marked the first time a commercial spaceship delivered humans into orbit and to the ISS. According to Hurley, Musk had a "huge amount of concern" for him and Behnken's safety when preparing for the launch. "He wanted to ensure that the mission would not only be successful but that we would come back to our families," Hurley told Fox. "It drove him to look at every single possible thing with the spacecraft to make sure that we come home safely," he added.Hurley said one thing most people don't get to witness about Musk is his "human side." As the spaceflight edged closer, Hurley recalled Musk speaking to every employee, "even the interns," asking them about their concerns surrounding the mission. "I think that's a very human side a lot of people don't get to see. What I witnessed was a man who was genuinely concerned about our well-being and our families. And I will always be thankful for that because I'm still here," Hurley said. Before the SpaceX flight, the US hadn't flown humans to space from American soil since 2011. Musk subsequently resurrected American crewed spaceflight for NASA but also kicked off a new era of commercial spaceflight with the 2020 mission. One thing that "amazed" Hurley the most about Musk, however, is his "incredible grasp of the technical situation." "You can talk to him about the spacecraft itself or an issue with the rocket — he wants to understand all of it. He's very hands-on," Hurley said. "You have engineers, literally the experts of the system, on site to address those questions," he added. Despite Hurley's praise, Musk's public reputation is somewhat mixed.His on-and-off romantic partner, the musician Grimes, recently described him in an interview with Vanity Fair as both "the love of my life" and someone who says "stupid shit." On the latter, Musk has consistently shown misunderstanding of how particular COVID-19 tests work and skepticism of public health measures, Insider previously reported. He also tweeted "the coronavirus panic is dumb" in March 2020.  Two years on, the disease has killed nearly 1 million of his fellow Americans.Musk recently joined the board of Twitter after steadily buying up the firm's shares and becoming its biggest shareholder. Some Twitter employees expressed annoyance at the development, with one changing their name to "elon musk is a racist demagogue with a god complex." Another said those protesting represented "a vocal minority" at Twitter, Insider reported.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 9th, 2022

Goldman Warns Of Higher Oil Prices & Volatility Due To "Self-Sustaining" Physical & Financial Deficit Doom-Loop

Goldman Warns Of Higher Oil Prices & Volatility Due To "Self-Sustaining" Physical & Financial Deficit Doom-Loop On the same day as oil prices slip to their lowest since Putin's invasion of Ukraine - and reports of Russia selling oil to China for Yuan - Goldman Sachs doubled-down on their Poszar-esque commodity-currency-linked warnings about the regime-change under way in the energy complex. As Goldman's Jeff Currie recently warned, commodities are entering a volatility trap. Crucially, as we detail below, this self-sustaining regime-shift driven by both physical and financial factors, is likely to last years rather than weeks. 'Physically' Inventories are already at historical lows in terms of 'days of demand' following 20 consecutive months of deficit... ...and Goldman notes that the unavailability of the usual system buffers of inventory and spare capacity... ...has required an evolution in the pricing regime towards the more abrupt mechanism of demand destruction, amplifying the price and volatility impact of the continued pandemic shocks and, currently, the Russia-Ukraine war. Remember, the 'physical' markets have suddenly become significantly more complicated (and delivery anything but guaranteed) as we recently noted 'oil is no longer fungible' to some extent, for some buyers... "Russian oil bidless, non-Russian oil offerless"... 'Financially' Volatility is both curbing liquidity and restricting access to the very credit required to maintain orderly financial and physical trading of commodities. In addition, it is also exacerbating the medium- to long-term capital shortages that have built up after an era of low returns and ample supply, reinforced by political and investor ESG concerns. This can be visualized in the following vicious doom-loop of volatility creating more illiquidity and lowering capital, leading to more volatility and so on... As oil becomes more volatile... ...the range of possible outcomes becomes wider, with a greater potential for loss... ...that shifting distribution drives up the Vale-at-Risk (VaR)... ...which drives down the hedgeable amount of commodities, for any given amount of risk capital... And a lack of risk capital lowers market participation, driving down liquidity and exacerbating volatility, and further discouraging potential lenders and investors, reinforcing lower participation and higher volatility. This volatility trap is a direct consequence of the "Revenge of the Old Economy". As commodity producers under-invest in new supply, commodity inventories deplete, raising volatility as the market loses its balancing buffer between small supply and demand shocks. This volatility in turn keeps commodity producer assets unattractive - it raises the uncertainty surrounding the investment's true value, lowering its appeal to investors. Capital continues to stay away from the sector, keeping new supply capacity - and hence inventories - low. And as we saw in the 1970s, such a volatility trap can create persistently higher commodity inflation and a supply constrained market. In the 1970s, the markets turned to long-term fixed price contracts and built large conglomerates to deepen the balance sheets required to deal with these funding stresses. In the 2000s (pre GFC) they used financial markets, and a higher degree of bank leverage, to share the risks. Neither avenue is fully available in today’s regulatory environment. But, it's different this time. Given there is unlikely to be a widespread lift of sanctions on Russia, regardless of the outcome of the war, as has historically been the case with such regulatory impositions, Goldman expects this new, more volatile pricing regime to persist for the foreseeable future. All of which reinforces Goldman's forecast for $125/bbl Brent crude in 2H22 and reinforces Poszar's warnings that you can print money but not print oil, iron, or wheat, or VLCCs or other ships to guarantee delivery of the critical commodities. Thus, as Poszar concludes rather ominously, commodity reserves will be an essential part of Bretton Woods III, and historically wars are won by those who have more food and energy supplies. And as Goldman's price forecast suggests, the current 'lull' in the stagflationary storm (as oil prices slide to post-invasion lows) is perhaps just the eye of a very much larger and longer storm. However, while many have been predicting the birth of a new monetary system in the past decade, it is the nuances of Zoltan's vision of the monetary future that is especially troubling: as he puts it "we are witnessing the birth of Bretton Woods III - a new world (monetary) order centered around commodity-based currencies in the East that will likely weaken the Eurodollar system and also contribute to inflationary forces in the West." Tyler Durden Thu, 04/07/2022 - 20:25.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 7th, 2022

Rabobank: There Is No Reality-Denying, Can-Kicking Delusion Stocks Cannot Embrace, Snort, Or Main-Line

Rabobank: There Is No Reality-Denying, Can-Kicking Delusion Stocks Cannot Embrace, Snort, Or Main-Line By Michael Every of Rabobank More swings in geopolitics, more Fed histrionics, and more market hysterics: yet for equities, any time is ‘Peace in our time’ time: there is no reality-denying, can-kicking delusion they cannot embrace, imbibe, snort, or main-line. Allow me to soberly unpack another volatile day, and the *very* volatile days to come. Yesterday started with the new ‘normal’: bond yields higher, even if 2.50% in US 10s was a line in the sand, and curves flattening; commodities bid; and stocks saying in times of high inflation and war, they provide a safe haven. Then wild claims started flying around: “Russia to wind down operations around Kyiv!”; “Mutual trust!”; “Ukraine can join the EU!”; “Zelenskiy and Putin to meet!” Suddenly, Neville Chamberlains on trading floors everywhere were waving pieces of paper. The most immediate impact was in oil and the commodity complex, which was hammered. That saw bond yields reverse their earlier spike. Equities then decided that as well as being a safe haven against inflation and war, they would thrive with less inflation and peace. Then oil prices went back up again on a US inventory draw-down. But it didn’t matter: US 10s closed 12bp lower from their intra-day peak at 2.40%, while 2s only dipped 11bp and, briefly, the 2s-10s curve inverted. We had already seen other parts of the curve invert, but 2s-10s is a key recession indicator: with the kind of inflation and supply-chain backdrop we have, more so. Yet that didn’t bother stocks. US consumer confidence showed expectations falling to 76.6, lower than during Covid, with lower earners the most despondent. That didn’t bother stocks. Poor people don’t spend money, right? A Bloomberg article by former New York Fed President Dudley said: “The Fed Has Made a U.S. Recession Inevitable: Jerome Powell is far too optimistic about the chances of a soft landing.” That didn’t bother stocks. What does a former Fed president know? Current St. Louis Fed President Bullard said he favored a Fed Funds rate of over 3% by the end of this year. That didn’t bother stocks. Who is Bullard anyway? Philadelphia Fed President Harker stated inflation was at unacceptable levels and he wants to see a series of “deliberate, methodical” rate hikes, with 50bp steps not off the table. That didn’t bother stocks either. Apparently it doesn’t matter that we are only one 25bp hike into an aggressive hiking cycle and the curve is *already* inverted: Fed, shmed - we have peace in our time! On that peace, look up the Russian military doctrine of ‘maskirovka’ (deception). Yes, it’s as old as the hills and not exclusively Russian, but not all armies embrace it as openly as Russia’s does, even if they sometimes do a rubbish job of it: recall the 150,000 troops now swarming over Ukraine were supposed to just be on a “training exercise?” Stocks don’t. We do see a fighting pullback of over-stretched Russian forces from Kyiv, which from day one they never had the manpower to take if they faced serious urban resistance, which they do despite the US trying to airlift President Zelenskiy out at the start of the war. However, those Russian forces are pulling back to the eastern front to try to encircle 80-100,000 Ukrainian troops holding the line there. They are not going home to buy stocks, even if the Moscow stock exchange is open again. Imagine what the suddenly pragmatic and all about “mutual trust” Russian negotiating position will be if that encirclement succeeds: and how bloody the fighting is about to get in Ukraine’s agricultural and industrial heartland as they try. Stocks can’t. A ceasefire has still not been achieved, and neither the US nor the UK are taking Russia seriously yet. Former Russian foreign minister Kozyrev says: “This could easily be a manoeuvre to buy Russia time to regroup and then hit has hard as they can.” Former Finnish president Hendrik tweets: “Analysts say it’s little more than a tactic for regrouping. Why would you take seriously *anything* Russians say?” Ukrainian intelligence alleges Russia is concealing a mass mobilization of combat reserves and conscription of Chechen convicts to replenish its fighting forces. President Zelenskiy says: “Ukrainians are not naïve…Of course, we see all the risks. Of course, we don’t have a reason to trust the words of representatives of a country that wages war against us.” Stocks do though. Yes, we have a potential peace positive in the status of Crimea reportedly being kicked into the long grass for 15 years. Ukraine can remain neutral, outside NATO. It might even be allowed to join the EU. But it insists on inviolable security guarantees from the UK, Turkey, the US, France, and Germany that will force them to defend it - a de facto NATO Article 5. It wants this passed into legislation so there can be no repeat of the 1994 Budapest agreement that was supposed to protect it in exchange for relinquishing its nuclear arsenal. Moreover, Ukraine won’t accept territorial losses in Donbas. Why should it surrender access to the Sea of Azov or the Black Sea, or its industrial and agricultural base: to placate Moscow, or stocks? Kyiv also insists on a referendum to cement any deal‘s legitimacy: how does one hold one during a war with millions of refugees; and how would the fired-up population vote?     However, there is no Damascene conversion underway in Russia. Its Duma just proposed a bill that would only give ethnic groups the right to obtain citizenship if they speak Russian, and envisions adding the definition of "state-forming people" for ethnic Russians and "representatives of Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples that are related to the state-forming people." Yet President Biden’s huge gaffe in talking about regime change, walk back, and walk back of the walk-back, disquieted parts of the Western alliance: as such, it would suit Russia to try to look like the more reasonable party again. Indeed, one can see how Russia could now try to split the West again. France and Germany may welcome any opportunity to deescalate: President Macron doesn’t seem to be able to go more than 48 hours without calling the Kremlin. Stocks will love it. By contrast, Poland, the Baltics, the UK and US will want to keep up the pressure on Russia. The Atlantic’s ‘Don’t Let Up Now’ perhaps reflects D.C. thinking: “Nothing in Russia’s pronouncements or behaviour suggests that the long-term goal of the Putin regime has shifted from the desire to subjugate Ukraine, replacing President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his subordinates with a quisling government and eliminating the country’s independence in all but name. Indeed, the apocalyptic rhetoric of Russian news commentators and senior civilian leaders suggests that the war’s aim has not changed. The giddy aspirations of February 24, though, have encountered the realities of the battlefield. Delusions are often modified by the sight of hundreds of burning vehicles… Thus, the West should support Ukraine by extending only limited promises of sanctions relief to Russia, and it most definitely should not reward Moscow by lifting them entirely should Russia accept a status quo ante cease-fire. And even when official sanctions are lifted, it makes sense to discourage Western companies from doing business there by every means possible. This sounds harsh, and it is. But there is another Clausewitzian truth to be faced here, that war is a contest not just of armies but of societal wills, and the West must aim to break Russia’s societal will through the grinding up of its army and the devastation of its economy.” Indeed, if sanctions on Russia are removed with no concrete security guarantees in place for Ukraine, what stops this happening again with better logistics from the Russian side? Stocks won’t like that thought: but luckily they seem to believe everything Putin says - and nothing the Fed does. Meanwhile, look at the biggest picture to really see ‘Peace in our time’ dynamics. The White House’s proposed defence budget sees a headline increase of around 5% in nominal terms, but real terms decrease. At a time when supply-chains are the front line in the New Cold War and maritime power is vital --which the stand-off in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov underlines, as does the potential threat to Taiwan-- the US Navy is being downsized. The budget proposes decommissioning 24 ships, 11 of which are less than a decade old, together while adding just 9. The outlook, according to some analysts, is that the 298-strong Navy is heading for around 280 by 2027, and perhaps 240 in out years. Up to 10,000 sailors may also lose their jobs. By contrast, China is building ships at a frenetic pace. Wasn’t weakness projected by the West a contributing factor to this war in Ukraine? If so, what signal does a fading US Navy project in a fragmenting world? And as another military analyst pointed out years ago out, if the US gets dragged into a war on the relative scale Ukraine is facing, it would also find its stock of military assets would be rapidly depleted – it has no spare capacity to ramp-up production to replace them at the rate they would be lost. In short, the US would have only a narrow fighting window before, like Russia, it would have to rethink its tactics, strategy, and perhaps even willingness to escalate. How many allies will the US need to bring on board to compensate for its relative loss of power? We see AUKUS – but defence spending in Australia and the UK isn’t high enough either. We see The Quad – where Japan and India are spending more, but India is not a given in the US camp given its relations with Russia. We see Europe realising it must rearm – but with the risk of political or bureaucratic delays. Worse, given how long it takes to build military power, which regions will the US have to retreat from to focus their attention where they see it matters most? Look at the Sunni Arab-Israeli military alliance emerging precisely because of that shift – even as Middle Eastern energy begins to matter even more to many. This all matters for markets, which rest on politics, which rest on power, which ultimately rests on the military. If the US wanted to spend more on the Navy, how could it afford it? Grow faster? How, without structural reforms that are anathema to Wall Street? Make money from its maritime military control? Monetizing in an inflationary environment where the US no longer controls supply chains? If anyone can do military MMT, the US can… until it can’t because the rest of the world walks away – which, circularly, revolves around US military power! Look at what is happening to JPY as the BOJ carries out Yield Curve Control. Or, inversely, by trying to slow down China’s rate of growth, so it can’t afford to build so many ships? Anathema to Wall Street again: but capital outflows from China have accelerated since the Ukraine war started. For now, the US, and the Eurodollar, are hegemons – as underlined yesterday. Russia is weaker, not stronger, after attacking Ukraine (even if a wartime, largely untradable RUB even more jerry-rigged than CNY is almost back to its pre-war level against USD). Many say China has also been warned off any moves on Taiwan. Yet if you want to look further ahead, look at the US military budget and its capacity to sustainably project military power against an economic peer, not a militia or weaker emerging market. But then again, why worry about any war when anytime is ‘Peace in our time’ time for markets? Tyler Durden Wed, 03/30/2022 - 10:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 30th, 2022

10 Things in Tech: Amazon drone plans

Leaked documents show that Amazon plans to expand its drone delivery, and a new list shows employees' picks for the companies with the best culture. You're halfway through the week, readers. Leaked documents show that Amazon plans to expand its drone delivery service soon, and a new list shows employees' picks for the companies with the best culture.Let's get started.If this was forwarded to you, sign up here. Download Insider's app – click here for iOS and here for Android.Amazon's retail chief Jeff Wilke reveals Prime Air's new drone model at the 2019 Re:Mars robotic conferenceJORDAN STEAD/ Amazon1. Your Amazon Prime packages could soon be delivered via drone. Leaked internal documents show that Amazon plans to ask 1,300 customers in two towns to test its Prime Air drone delivery this year. A look at what we know:Testers will be recruited from the towns of Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas, with deliveries starting in September, according to the documents.They'll be able to choose from about 3,000 items — largely an array of pharmaceutical, beauty, and pet supplies — all of which weigh under five pounds. Amazon aims to deliver one item at a time, within an hour.The expansion of its drone-testing program would mark a major step forward for Prime Air, nearly a decade after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos unveiled his vision for an automated drone delivery service.Here's what else you need to know.In other news:Marianne Ayala/Insider2. There's a new spam trend: texts appearing to come from your own number. Verizon customers have been reporting suspicious texts ostensibly coming from themselves — a problem the company said it's trying to fix. Robotexts have been on the rise in recent months; so we created a guide to the frustrating messages and how to stop them.3. Yandex, Russia's biggest tech company, has been sent into free fall by Putin's Ukraine war. Known as "the Google of Russia," Yandex is facing an uncertain future as its board fractures and it's forced to grapple with the war's fallout. Inside the boardroom shattering at Yandex.4. Elon Musk is channeling his inner Slim Shady. The Tesla CEO quoted Eminem in a court filing that takes aim at an agreement with the SEC, which requires his lawyers to vet many of his tweets. See his invocation of the rapper here.5. Leaked Slack messages show Shopify plans to address pay and attrition woes. As Shopify's stock falls from its pandemic highs, some employees (who are granted restricted stock units when they join the company) are growing uneasy about the total value of their compensation. This is what execs said in the leaked messages.6. A crypto hacker just pulled off one of the largest heists in history. The attacker made away with $625 million in tokens from Axie Infinity's Ronin Network. What we know so far.7. An SEO consultant who makes up to $40,000 a month shares how he grew his business on LinkedIn. Ryan Darani left an agency two years ago to begin freelancing. Now, he makes more than he did while at the firm — all while working fewer hours. Take a look at how he did it.8. Okta is no longer cutting pay for workers who move out of the Bay Area. Okta's head of dynamic work said as a way to bolster employee well-being, the software company won't slash pay — even as other tech giants do. Here's what she told us.Odds and ends:Microsoft paid about $25.3 million following charges of bribery in 2019.Mark Lennihan/AP9. These corporations have the best company culture. Using employee rankings, workplace culture site Comparably listed the companies with the best culture — and Microsoft tops the list. See the other top-rated firms.10. PlayStation is finally getting a subscription gaming service. The $15-per-month service, which will launch in June, is Sony's response to Microsoft's wildly popular Xbox Game Pass service — but it lacks one critical component that made its competitor such a success. Here's what to know about the new subscription service.What we're watching today:The Soyuz MS-19 crew ship is set to return to Earth from the ISS.Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation is launching an NFT museum documenting Russia's invasion. Take a look here.Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai is virtually discussing the role of digital platforms in an "age of crises."Keep updated with the latest tech news throughout your day by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio news brief from the Insider newsroom. Listen here.Curated by Jordan Parker Erb in New York. (Feedback or tips? Email jerb@insider.com or tweet @jordanparkererb.) Edited by Michael Cogley in London.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 30th, 2022

Russia"s space chief was inviting Elon Musk to dinner and praising him 6 months ago. Now, they"re hurling insults and trolling each other

Last year, Dmitry Rogozin invited Elon Musk his family home, but a series of spats on Twitter highlight a rivalry between Russia and SpaceX. Elon Musk and Dmitry Rogozin argue on TwitterAssociated Press Russia's space chief responded to Elon Musk's challenge to President Vladimir Putin. Dmitry Rogozin has expressed admiration for Musk in the past, but they have a longstanding rivalry. Musk has repeatedly presented SpaceX as an alternative to Roscosmos' services to the International Space Station. Shortly after Elon Musk challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to "single combat," Russia's space chief took aim at the SpaceX CEO on Twitter."You, little devil, are still young," Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin tweeted at 50-year-old Musk, according to Insider's translation of the tweet. "Too weak to compete with me; It would only be a waste of time. Overtake my brother first." In his tweet, Rogozin quotes a 17th-century fairy tale by Alexander Pushkin, a Russian poet known for disguising political messages in his stories and who was exiled from the country due to the themes in his writing. While it is unclear exactly what Rogozin meant by the quote, it's not the first time the Russian space chief has sparred with Musk on Twitter. The two have traded insults since Russia began invading Ukraine and it highlights a longstanding rivalry between Roscosmos and SpaceX.On Tuesday, Musk responded to Rogozin's tweet with a series of jokes. He told Rogozin they should "form a book club" and quoted Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "The Idiot.""A fool with a heart and no mind is just as unfortunate a fool as a fool with a mind without a heart," according to Insider's translation of Musk's tweet from a passage referencing a woman.Musk also cast Putin and himself as fighters in a pay-per-view match.—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 15, 2022"Elon, get off the toilet, then we'll talk," Rogozin responded with a screenshot of one of Musk's tweets from last year, according to a translation of the tweet.—РОГОЗИН (@Rogozin) March 15, 2022Only six months ago, Rogozin was a self-professed fan of Musk and SpaceX. In September, the Russian space chief invited Musk to his home "to be a guest of my family" and said he'd "already set the teakettle on heat.""Mr. Elon Musk realizes many of the ideas and thoughts that we wanted to realize, but did not get to because, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, our space program halted for some time," Rogozin said. "We respect him as an organizer of the space industry and as an inventor, who is not afraid to take risk."At the time, Rogozin said he had watched Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson blast into space and wished Russian oligarchs would do the same. He invited Musk, along with Bezos and Branson, to a launch of Roscosmos' Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan."Our millionaires prefer to invest more in yachts rather than in spaceships," Rogozin said, according to CNN. "I like what your people are doing — people who spend their own money on things useful for overall society," he added.Rogozin has questioned in the past whether Roscosmos is tougher than SpaceX . In 2020, he shared photos on Twitter of Roscosmos specialists recovering a piece of a Soyuz rocket in snowy weather."This is not Boca Chica," Rogozin said, according to a translation from CNN, referring to the town where SpaceX tests rockets. "This is Yakutia in winter. I wonder if gentle SpaceX is able to work in such conditions?"SpaceX has long been working to fill the need for Russian propulsion techniques at the International Space Station and cut its transportation costs.In 2020, NASA no longer became entirely reliant on Russian Soyuz rockets and Roscosmos lost out on billions of revenue as SpaceX launched NASA astronauts from US soil for the first time in nearly a decade. Earlier this month, Rogozin said that Russia would no longer supply rocket engines to the US following President Joe Biden's sanctions over the war in Ukraine and said that the US could use "broomsticks" to fly to space. The space chief also threatened to cut off Russia's support to the ISS and "send it plummeting to Earth" in March. The comments echo a statement from the space chief in 2014 when he said the US could use a "trampoline" to send astronauts to ISS. In each situation, Musk has leaned into positioning SpaceX as an alternative solution, from providing Starlink to citizens in Ukraine to suggesting SpaceX was America's "broomstick" or "trampoline."In the meantime, Roscosmos and NASA have said they are continuing to work together despite Rogozin's comments online.Translations by Oleksandr Vynogradov.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 15th, 2022