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At least 59,000 meat workers caught COVID, 269 died: report

At least 59,000 meatpacking workers became ill with COVID-19 and 269 workers died when the virus tore through the industry last year, which is significantly more than previously thought, according to a new U.S. House report released Wednesday.At least 59,000 meatpacking workers became ill with COVID-19 and 269 workers died when the virus tore through the industry last year, which is significantly more than previously thought, according to a new U.S. House report released Wednesday......»»

Category: topSource: chicagotribuneOct 27th, 2021

Babies are increasingly dying of syphilis in the US - but it"s 100% preventable

Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. A newborn baby rests at the Ana Betancourt de Mora Hospital in Camaguey, Cuba, on June 19, 2015. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters The number of US babies born with syphilis quadrupled from 2015 to 2019. Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. Routine testing and penicillin shots for pregnant women could prevent these cases. This story was originally published by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom, in collaboration with NPR News. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.When Mai Yang is looking for a patient, she travels light. She dresses deliberately - not too formal, so she won't be mistaken for a police officer; not too casual, so people will look past her tiny 4-foot-10 stature and youthful face and trust her with sensitive health information. Always, she wears closed-toed shoes, "just in case I need to run."Yang carries a stack of cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show what happens when the Treponema pallidum bacteria invades a patient's body. There's a photo of an angry red sore on a penis. There's one of a tongue, marred by mucus-lined lesions. And there's one of a newborn baby, its belly, torso and thighs dotted in a rash, its mouth open, as if caught midcry.It was because of the prospect of one such baby that Yang found herself walking through a homeless encampment on a blazing July day in Huron, California, an hour's drive southwest of her office at the Fresno County Department of Public Health. She was looking for a pregnant woman named Angelica, whose visit to a community clinic had triggered a report to the health department's sexually transmitted disease program. Angelica had tested positive for syphilis. If she was not treated, her baby could end up like the one in the picture or worse - there was a 40% chance the baby would die.Yang knew, though, that if she helped Angelica get treated with three weekly shots of penicillin at least 30 days before she gave birth, it was likely that the infection would be wiped out and her baby would be born without any symptoms at all. Every case of congenital syphilis, when a baby is born with the disease, is avoidable. Each is considered a "sentinel event," a warning that the public health system is failing.The alarms are now clamoring. In the United States, more than 129,800 syphilis cases were recorded in 2019, double the case count of five years prior. In the same time period, cases of congenital syphilis quadrupled: 1,870 babies were born with the disease; 128 died. Case counts from 2020 are still being finalized, but the CDC has said that reported cases of congenital syphilis have already exceeded the prior year. Black, Hispanic, and Native American babies are disproportionately at risk.There was a time, not too long ago, when CDC officials thought they could eliminate the centuries-old scourge from the United States, for adults and babies. But the effort lost steam and cases soon crept up again. Syphilis is not an outlier. The United States goes through what former CDC director Tom Frieden calls "a deadly cycle of panic and neglect" in which emergencies propel officials to scramble and throw money at a problem - whether that's Ebola, Zika, or COVID-19. Then, as fear ebbs, so does the attention and motivation to finish the task.The last fraction of cases can be the hardest to solve, whether that's eradicating a bug or getting vaccines into arms, yet too often, that's exactly when political attention gets diverted to the next alarm. The result: The hardest to reach and most vulnerable populations are the ones left suffering, after everyone else looks away.Yang first received Angelica's lab report on June 17. The address listed was a P.O. box, and the phone number belonged to her sister, who said Angelica was living in Huron. That was a piece of luck: Huron is tiny; the city spans just 1.6 square miles. On her first visit, a worker at the Alamo Motel said she knew Angelica and directed Yang to a nearby homeless encampment. Angelica wasn't there, so Yang returned a second time, bringing one of the health department nurses who could serve as an interpreter.They made their way to the barren patch of land behind Huron Valley Foods, the local grocery store, where people took shelter in makeshift lean-tos composed of cardboard boxes, scrap wood, and scavenged furniture, draped with sheets that served as ceilings and curtains. Yang stopped outside one of the structures, calling a greeting."Hi, I'm from the health department, I'm looking for Angelica."The nurse echoed her in Spanish.Angelica emerged, squinting in the sunlight. Yang couldn't tell if she was visibly pregnant yet, as her body was obscured by an oversized shirt. The two women were about the same age: Yang 26 and Angelica 27. Yang led her away from the tent, so they could speak privately. Angelica seemed reticent, surprised by the sudden appearance of the two health officers. "You're not in trouble," Yang said, before revealing the results of her blood test.Angelica had never heard of syphilis."Have you been to prenatal care?"Angelica shook her head. The local clinic had referred her to an obstetrician in Hanford, a 30-minute drive away. She had no car. She also mentioned that she didn't intend to raise her baby; her two oldest children lived with her mother, and this one likely would, too.Yang pulled out the CDC cards, showing them to Angelica and asking if she had experienced any of the symptoms illustrated. No, Angelica said, her lips pursed with disgust."Right now you still feel healthy, but this bacteria is still in your body," Yang pressed. "You need to get the infection treated to prevent further health complications to yourself and your baby."The community clinic was just across the street. "Can we walk you over to the clinic and make sure you get seen so we can get this taken care of?"Angelica demurred. She said she hadn't showered for a week and wanted to wash up first. She said she'd go later.Yang tried once more to extract a promise: "What time do you think you'll go?""Today, for sure."The CDC tried and failed to eradicate syphilis - twiceSyphilis is called The Great Imitator: It can look like any number of diseases. In its first stage, the only evidence of infection is a painless sore at the bacteria's point of entry. Weeks later, as the bacteria multiplies, skin rashes bloom on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. Other traits of this stage include fever, headaches, muscle aches, sore throat, and fatigue. These symptoms eventually disappear and the patient progresses into the latent phase, which betrays no external signs. But if left untreated, after a decade or more, syphilis will reemerge in up to 30% of patients, capable of wreaking horror on a wide range of organ systems. Marion Sims, president of the American Medical Association in 1876, called it a "terrible scourge, which begins with lamb-like mildness and ends with lion-like rage that ruthlessly destroys everything in its way."The corkscrew-shaped bacteria can infiltrate the nervous system at any stage of the infection. Yang is haunted by her memory of interviewing a young man whose dementia was so severe that he didn't know why he was in the hospital or how old he was. And regardless of symptoms or stage, the bacteria can penetrate the placenta to infect a fetus. Even in these cases the infection is unpredictable: Many babies are born with normal physical features, but others can have deformed bones or damaged brains, and they can struggle to hear, see, or breathe.From its earliest days, syphilis has been shrouded in stigma. The first recorded outbreak was in the late 15th century, when Charles VIII led the French army to invade Naples. Italian physicians described French soldiers covered with pustules, dying from a sexually transmitted disease. As the affliction spread, Italians called it the French Disease. The French blamed the Neopolitans. It was also called the German, Polish, or Spanish disease, depending on which neighbor one wanted to blame. Even its name bears the taint of divine judgement: It comes from a 16th-century poem that tells of a shepherd, Syphilus, who offended the god Apollo and was punished with a hideous disease.By 1937 in America, when former Surgeon General Thomas Parran wrote the book "Shadow on the Land," he estimated some 680,000 people were under treatment for syphilis; about 60,000 babies were being born annually with congenital syphilis. There was no cure, and the stigma was so strong that public-health officials feared even properly documenting cases.Thanks to Parran's ardent advocacy, Congress in 1938 passed the National Venereal Disease Control Act, which created grants for states to set up clinics and support testing and treatment. Other than a short-lived funding effort during World War I, this was the first coordinated federal push to respond to the disease.Around the same time, the Public Health Service launched an effort to record the natural history of syphilis. Situated in Tuskegee, Alabama, the infamous study recruited 600 black men. By the early 1940s, penicillin became widely available and was found to be a reliable cure, but the treatment was withheld from the study participants. Outrage over the ethical violations would cast a stain across syphilis research for decades to come and fuel generations of mistrust in the medical system among Black Americans that continues to this day. People attend a ceremony near Tuskegee, Alabama, on April 3, 2017, to commemorate the roughly 600 men who were subjects in the Tuskegee syphilis study. Jay Reeves/AP Photo With the introduction of penicillin, cases began to plummet. Twice, the CDC has announced efforts to wipe out the disease - once in the 1960s and again in 1999.In the latest effort, the CDC announced that the United States had "a unique opportunity to eliminate syphilis within its borders," thanks to historically low rates, with 80% of counties reporting zero cases. The concentration of cases in the South "identifies communities in which there is a fundamental failure of public health capacity," the agency noted, adding that elimination - which it defined as fewer than 1,000 cases a year - would "decrease one of our most glaring racial disparities in health."Two years after the campaign began, cases started climbing, first among gay men and, later, heterosexuals. Cases in women started accelerating in 2013, followed shortly by increasing numbers of babies born with syphilis. The reasons for failure are complex: People relaxed safer sex practices after the advent of potent HIV combination therapies, increased methamphetamine use drove riskier behavior, and an explosion of online dating made it hard to track and test sexual partners, according to Ina Park, medical director of the California Prevention Training Center at the University of California San Francisco.But federal and state public-health efforts were hamstrung from the get-go. In 1999, the CDC said it would need about $35 million to $39 million in new federal funds annually for at least five years to eliminate syphilis. The agency got less than half of what it asked for, according to Jo Valentine, former program coordinator of the CDC's Syphilis Elimination Effort. As cases rose, the CDC modified its goals in 2006 from 0.4 primary and secondary syphilis cases per 100,000 in population to 2.2 cases per 100,000. By 2013, as elimination seemed less and less viable, the CDC changed its focus to ending congenital syphilis only.Since then, funding has remained anemic. From 2015 to 2020, the CDC's budget for preventing sexually transmitted infections grew by 2.2%. Taking inflation into account, that's a 7.4% reduction in purchasing power. In the same period, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia - the three STDs that have federally funded control programs - increased by nearly 30%."We have a long history of nearly eradicating something, then changing our attention, and seeing a resurgence in numbers," David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said. "We have more congenital syphilis cases today in America than we ever had pediatric AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It's heartbreaking."Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, warns that the US should not be surprised to see case counts continue to climb."The bugs don't go away," she said. "They're just waiting for the next opportunity, when you're not paying attention."Syphilis has fewer poster children than HIV or cancerYang waited until the end of the day, then called the clinic to see if Angelica had gone for her shot. She had not. Yang would have to block off another half day to visit Huron again, but she had three dozen other cases to deal with.States in the South and West have seen the highest syphilis rates in recent years. In 2017, 64 babies in Fresno County were born with syphilis at a rate of 440 babies per 100,000 live births - about 19 times the national rate. While the county had managed to lower case counts in the two years that followed, the pandemic threatened to unravel that progress, forcing STD staffers to do COVID-19 contact tracing, pausing field visits to find infected people, and scaring patients from seeking care. Yang's colleague handled three cases of stillbirth in 2020; in each, the woman was never diagnosed with syphilis because she feared catching the coronavirus and skipped prenatal care.Yang, whose caseload peaked at 70 during a COVID-19 surge, knew she would not be able handle them all as thoroughly as she'd like to."When I was being mentored by another investigator, he said: 'You're not a superhero. You can't save everybody,'" she said.She prioritizes men who have sex with men, because there's a higher prevalence of syphilis in that population, and pregnant people, because of the horrific consequences for babies.The job of a disease intervention specialist isn't for everyone: It means meeting patients whenever and wherever they are available - in the mop closet of a bus station, in a quiet parking lot - to inform them about the disease, to extract names of sex partners, and to encourage treatment. Patients are often reluctant to talk. They can get belligerent, upset that "the government" has their personal information, or shattered at the thought that a partner is likely cheating on them. Salaries typically start in the low $40,000s.Jena Adams, Yang's supervisor, has eight investigators working on HIV and syphilis. In the middle of 2020, she lost two and replaced them only recently."It's been exhausting," Adams said.She has only one specialist who is trained to take blood samples in the field, crucial for guaranteeing that the partners of those who test positive for syphilis also get tested. Adams wants to get phlebotomy training for the rest of her staff, but it's $2,000 per person. The department also doesn't have anyone who can administer penicillin injections in the field; that would have been key when Yang met Angelica. For a while, a nurse who worked in the tuberculosis program would ride along to give penicillin shots on a volunteer basis. Then he, too, left the health department.Much of the resources in public health trickle down from the CDC, which distributes money to states, which then parcel it out to counties. The CDC gets its budget from Congress, which tells the agency, by line item, exactly how much money it can spend to fight a disease or virus, in an uncommonly specific manner not seen in many other agencies. The decisions are often politically driven and can be detached from actual health needs.When the House and Senate appropriations committees meet to decide how much the CDC will get for each line item, they are barraged by lobbyists for individual disease interests. Stephanie Arnold Pang, senior director of policy and government relations at the National Coalition of STD Directors, can pick out the groups by sight: breast cancer wears pink, Alzheimer's goes in purple, multiple sclerosis comes in orange, HIV in red. STD prevention advocates, like herself, don a green ribbon, but they're far outnumbered.And unlike diseases that might already be familiar to lawmakers, or have patient and family spokespeople who can tell their own powerful stories, syphilis doesn't have many willing poster children. Breast Cancer survivors hold up a check for the amount raised at The Congressional Womens Softball Game at Watkins Recreation Center in Capitol Hill on June 20, 2018. Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call "Congressmen don't wake up one day and say, 'Oh hey, there's congenital syphilis in my jurisdiction.' You have to raise awareness," Arnold Pang said. It can be hard jockeying for a meeting. "Some offices might say, 'I don't have time for you because we've just seen HIV.' ... Sometimes, it feels like you're talking into a void."The consequences of the political nature of public-health funding have become more obvious during the coronavirus pandemic. The 2014 Ebola epidemic was seen as a "global wakeup call" that the world wasn't prepared for a major pandemic, yet in 2018, the CDC scaled back its epidemic prevention work as money ran out."If you've got to choose between Alzheimer's research and stopping an outbreak that may not happen? Stopping an outbreak that might not happen doesn't do well," Frieden, the former CDC director, said. "The CDC needs to have more money and more flexible money. Otherwise, we're going to be in this situation long term."In May 2021, President Joe Biden's administration announced it would set aside $7.4 billion over the next five years to hire and train public health workers, including $1.1 billion for more disease intervention specialists like Yang. Public health officials are thrilled to have the chance to expand their workforce, but some worry the time horizon may be too short."We've seen this movie before, right?" Frieden said. "Everyone gets concerned when there's an outbreak, and when that outbreak stops, the headlines stop, and an economic downturn happens, the budget gets cut."Fresno's STD clinic was shuttered in 2010 amid the Great Recession. Many others have vanished since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.Health leaders thought "by magically beefing up the primary care system, that we would do a better job of catching STIs and treating them," Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said.That hasn't worked out; people want access to anonymous services, and primary care doctors often don't have STDs top of mind. The coalition is lobbying Congress for funding to support STD clinical services, proposing a three-year demonstration project funded at $600 million.It's one of Adams' dreams to see Fresno's STD clinic restored as it was."You could come in for an HIV test and get other STDs checked," she said. "And if a patient is positive, you can give a first injection on the spot."'I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die'On August 12, Yang set out for Huron again, speeding past groves of almond trees and fields of grapes in the department's white Chevy Cruze. She brought along a colleague, Jorge Sevilla, who had recently transferred to the STD program from COVID-19 contact tracing. Yang was anxious to find Angelica again."She's probably in her second trimester now," she said.They found her outside of a pale yellow house a few blocks from the homeless encampment; the owner was letting her stay in a shed tucked in the corner of the dirt yard. This time, it was evident that she was pregnant. Yang noted that Angelica was wearing a wig; hair loss is a symptom of syphilis."Do you remember me?" Yang asked.Angelica nodded. She didn't seem surprised to see Yang again. (I came along, and Sevilla explained who I was and that I was writing about syphilis and the people affected by it. Angelica signed a release for me to report about her case, and she said she had no problem with me writing about her or even using her full name. ProPublica chose to only print her first name.)"How are you doing? How's the baby?""Bien.""So the last time we talked, we were going to have you go to United Healthcare Center to get treatment. Have you gone since?"Angelica shook her head."We brought some gift cards..." Sevilla started in Spanish. The department uses them as incentives for completing injections. But Angelica was already shaking her head. The nearest Walmart was the next town over.Yang turned to her partner. "Tell her: So the reason why we're coming out here again is because we really need her to go in for treatment. [...] We really are concerned for the baby's health especially since she's had the infection for quite a while."Angelica listened while Sevilla interpreted, her eyes on the ground. Then she looked up. "Orita?" she asked. Right now?"I'll walk with you," Yang offered. Angelica shook her head."She said she wants to shower first before she goes over there," Sevilla said.Yang made a face. "She said that to me last time." Yang offered to wait, but Angelica didn't want the health officers to linger by the house. She said she would meet them by the clinic in 15 minutes.Yang was reluctant to let her go but again had no other option. She and Sevilla drove to the clinic, then stood on the corner of the parking lot, staring down the road.Talk to the pediatricians, obstetricians, and families on the front lines of the congenital syphilis surge and it becomes clear why Yang and others are trying so desperately to prevent cases. J.B. Cantey, associate professor in pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio, remembers a baby girl born at 25 weeks gestation who weighed a pound and a half. Syphilis had spread through her bones and lungs. She spent five months in the neonatal intensive care unit, breathing through a ventilator, and was still eating through a tube when she was discharged.Then, there are the miscarriages, the stillbirths, and the inconsolable parents. Irene Stafford, an associate professor and maternal-fetal medicine specialist at UT Health in Houston, cannot forget a patient who came in at 36 weeks for a routine checkup, pregnant with her first child. Stafford realized that there was no heartbeat."She could see on my face that something was really wrong," Stafford recalled. She had to let the patient know that syphilis had killed her baby."She was hysterical, just bawling," Stafford said. "I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die." Fewer than 10% of patients who experience a stillbirth are tested for syphilis, suggesting that cases are underdiagnosed.A Texas grandmother named Solidad Odunuga offers a glimpse into what the future could hold for Angelica's mother, who may wind up raising her baby.In February of last year, Odunuga got a call from the Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston. A nurse told her that her daughter was about to give birth and that child protective services had been called. Odunuga had lost contact with her daughter, who struggled with homelessness and substance abuse. She arrived in time to see her grandson delivered, premature at 30 weeks old, weighing 2.7 pounds. He tested positive for syphilis.When a child protective worker asked Odunuga to take custody of the infant, she felt a wave of dread."I was in denial," she recalled. "I did not plan to be a mom again." The baby's medical problems were daunting: "Global developmental delays [...] concerns for visual impairments [...] high risk of cerebral palsy," read a note from the doctor at the time.Still, Odunuga visited her grandson every day for three months, driving to the NICU from her job at the University of Houston. "I'd put him in my shirt to keep him warm and hold him there." She fell in love. She named him Emmanuel.Once Emmanuel was discharged, Odunuga realized she had no choice but to quit her job. While Medicaid covered the costs of Emmanuel's treatment, it was on her to care for him. From infancy, Emmanuel's life has been a whirlwind of constant therapy. Today, at 20 months old, Odunuga brings him to physical, occupational, speech, and developmental therapy, each a different appointment on a different day of the week.Emmanuel has thrived beyond what his doctors predicted, toddling so fast that Odunuga can't look away for a minute and beaming as he waves his favorite toy phone. Yet he still suffers from gagging issues, which means Odunuga can't feed him any solid foods. Liquid gets into his lungs when he aspirates; it has led to pneumonia three times. Emmanuel has a special stroller that helps keep his head in a position that won't aggravate his persistent reflux, but Odunuga said she still has to pull over on the side of the road sometimes when she hears him projectile vomiting from the backseat.The days are endless. Once she puts Emmanuel to bed, Odunuga starts planning the next day's appointments."I've had to cry alone, scream out alone," she said. "Sometimes I wake up and think, 'Is this real?' And then I hear him in the next room."There's no vaccine for syphilis A health worker tests a migrant from Haiti for HIV and syphilis to in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, on September 25, 2021. Daniel Becerril/Reuters Putting aside the challenge of eliminating syphilis entirely, everyone agrees it's both doable and necessary to prevent newborn cases."There was a crisis in perinatal HIV almost 30 years ago and people stood up and said this is not OK - it's not acceptable for babies to be born in that condition. [...We] brought it down from 1,700 babies born each year with perinatal HIV to less than 40 per year today," Virginia Bowen, an epidemiologist at the CDC, said. "Now here we are with a slightly different condition. We can also stand up and say, 'This is not acceptable.'" Belarus, Bermuda, Cuba, Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are among countries recognized by the World Health Organization for eliminating congenital syphilis.Success starts with filling gaps across the health care system.For almost a century, public health experts have advocated for testing pregnant patients more than once for syphilis in order to catch the infection. But policies nationwide still don't reflect this best practice. Six states have no prenatal screening requirement at all. Even in states that require three tests, public-health officials say that many physicians aren't aware of the requirements. Stafford, the maternal-fetal medicine specialist in Houston, says she's tired of hearing her own peers in medicine tell her, "Oh, syphilis is a problem?"It costs public health departments less than 25 cents a dose to buy penicillin, but for a private practice, it's more than $1,000, according to Park of the University of California San Francisco."There's no incentive for a private physician to stock a dose that could expire before it's used, so they often don't have it," she said. "So a woman comes in, they say, 'We'll send you to the emergency department or health department to get it,' then [the patients] don't show up."A vaccine would be invaluable for preventing spread among people at high risk for reinfection. But there is none. Scientists only recently figured out how to grow the bacteria in the lab, prompting grants from the National Institutes of Health to fund research into a vaccine. Justin Radolf, a researcher at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said he hopes his team will have a vaccine candidate by the end of its five-year grant. But it'll likely take years more to find a manufacturer and run human trials.Public-health agencies also need to recognize that many of the hurdles to getting pregnant people treated involve access to care, economic stability, safe housing, and transportation. In Fresno, Adams has been working on ways her department can collaborate with mental health services. Recently, one of her disease intervention specialists managed to get a pregnant woman treated with penicillin shots and, at the patient's request, connected her with an addiction treatment center.Gaining a patient's cooperation means seeing them as complex humans instead of just a case to solve."There may be past traumas with the healthcare system," Cynthia Deverson, project manager of the Houston Fetal Infant Morbidity Review, said. "There's the fear of being discovered if she's doing something illegal to survive. [...] She may need to be in a certain place at a certain time so she can get something to eat, or maybe it's the only time of the day that's safe for her to sleep. They're not going to tell you that. Yes, they understand there's a problem, but it's not an immediate threat, maybe they don't feel bad yet, so obviously this is not urgent.""What helps to gain trust is consistency," she added. "Literally, it's seeing that [disease specialist] constantly, daily. [...] The woman can see that you're not going to harm her, you're saying, 'I'm here at this time if you need me.'"Yang stood outside the clinic, waiting for Angelica to show up, baking in the 90-degree heat. Her feelings ranged from irritation - Why didn't she just go? I'd have more energy for other cases - to an appreciation for the parts of Angelica's story that she didn't know - She's in survival mode. I need to be more patient.Fifteen minutes ticked by, then 20."OK," Yang announced. "We're going back."She asked Sevilla if he would be OK if they drove Angelica to the clinic; they technically weren't supposed to because of coronavirus precautions, but Yang wasn't sure she could convince Angelica to walk. Sevilla gave her the thumbs up.When they pulled up, they saw Angelica sitting in the backyard, chatting with a friend. She now wore a fresh T-shirt and had shoes on her feet. Angelica sat silently in the back seat as Yang drove to the clinic. A few minutes later, they pulled up to the parking lot.Finally, Yang thought. We got her here.The clinic was packed with people waiting for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. A worker there had previously told Yang that a walk-in would be fine, but a receptionist now said they were too busy to treat Angelica. She would have to return.Yang felt a surge of frustration, sensing that her hard-fought opportunity was slipping away. She tried to talk to the nurse supervisor, but he wasn't available. She tried to leave the gift cards at the office to reward Angelica if she came, but the receptionist said she couldn't hold them. While Yang negotiated, Sevilla sat with Angelica in the car, waiting.Finally, Yang accepted this was yet another thing she couldn't control.She drove Angelica back to the yellow house. As they arrived, she tried once more to impress on her just how important it was to get treated, asking Sevilla to interpret. "We don't want it to get any more serious, because she can go blind, she could go deaf, she could lose her baby."Angelica already had the door halfway open."So on a scale from one to 10, how important is this to get treated?" Yang asked."Ten," Angelica said. Yang reminded her of the appointment that afternoon. Then Angelica stepped out and returned to the dusty yard.Yang lingered for a moment, watching Angelica go. Then she turned the car back onto the highway and set off toward Fresno, knowing, already, that she'd be back.Postscript: A reporter visited Huron twice more in the months that followed, including once independently to try to interview Angelica, but she wasn't in town. Yang has visited Huron twice more as well - six times in total thus far. In October, a couple of men at the yellow house said Angelica was still in town, still pregnant. Yang and Sevilla spent an hour driving around, talking to residents, hoping to catch Angelica. But she was nowhere to be found.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 2nd, 2021

Mainstream Media Finally Accepts That COVID Lab Leak Is Most Likely Theory

Mainstream Media Finally Accepts That COVID Lab Leak Is Most Likely Theory During the early days of the pandemic, America's mainstream media outlets blithely amplified claims by Dr. Anthony Fauci that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, had made its great leap to infecting humanity via "zoonotic" transmission, and that the Hunan wet market in downtown Wuhan - a market that just happened to be located a few miles away from a Level 4 Biosafety Lab dedicated to studying bat coronaviruses, just like the one that was now infecting the globe. Yet, from the very beginning, even before scientists really had a chance to evaluate the origins of the virus, Dr. Fauci (and allies like Dr. Peter Daszak) insisted that zoonotic transmission was indisputably the source of the pandemic. This was long before the world learned the truth: that both Dr. Fauci and Dr. Daszak had been involved n funnelling American research dollars to dangerous and illegal "gain of function" research on coronaviruses at the WIV.  Still, in the name of defending "science" and combating "conspiracy theorists", tthe media launched a scorched earth campaign denouncing everyone who questioned the official narrative as a racist conspiracy theorist. At one point, Zero Hedge was sucked into the controversy by being "permanently" banned from Twitter for months for purportedly suggesting that the virus may have been genetically engineered, then leaked, from the WIV. Fast-forward a year, and the American press's assessment of COVID's origins has grown much more skeptical, ever since the Washington Post and a handful of other mainstream media outlets published leaked intelligence reports claiming that the evidence supporting the lab leak hypothesis A WHO report (composed by a team led by Daszak) acknowledged that the lab-leak theory was possible, just unlikely. The backlash to this report forced President Joe Biden to call on the intelligence community to "get to the bottom of this". Now, the media must take for granted that the intelligence community places serious credibility in the lab leak theory. Meanwhile, in the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul has done an admirable job interrogating Dr. Fauci, illustrating via public records how money from the NIH was funneled to the WIV despite an Obama Administration ban on so-called "gain-of-function" research (when viruses are manipulated to make them artificially stronger or more infectious in humans). Dr. Fauci has responded with an escalating series of denials and ad hominem attacks. Ultimately, what Dr. Fauci says isn't as important as what the media reports. And in a surprising twist, the New Yorker (owned by corporate media giant Conde Nast) - a magazine that once lambasted believers in the lab-leak theory as witless conspiracists - has just published possibly the most detailed accounting to date of the controversy, quoting skeptics who believed that "almost from day one...the virus appeared like a human virus." From the beginning of the pandemic, even before the WHO officially declared it a global pandemic, Kristian Andersen, an infectious disease expert at Scripps Research in San Diego, was perplexed by COVID's rapid spread across the globe. Like the original SARs showed us, while coronaviruses could be deadly, they're typically not so great at human-to-human transmissions. Kristian Andersen, an infectious-disease expert at Scripps Research, in San Diego, began tracking the virus in January, 2020. He found the degree of contagion not just scary but unusual. Chinese scientists had already established that it belonged to a genus of coronaviruses commonly found in bats in southern China. It shared eighty per cent of its genome with the first SARS, and was more distantly related to MERS, another bat coronavirus. This new virus, however, was spreading far more quickly, reaching at least twenty-six countries by the end of the month. "It seemed to be locked and loaded for causing the pandemic," Andersen told me. Most viruses circulating in the wild, though some can be deadly, are not very good at transmission. They are still animal viruses. "This, almost from Day One,” Andersen said, “appeared like a human virus." He quickly shared his thoughts with Dr. Fauci, claiming "Andersen wrote to Fauci and others that the SARS-CoV-2 genome seemed 'inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.'" Andersen noted that “a really small part” of SARS-CoV-2’s genome had “unusual features.” Its spike—the crucial bit of surface protein that a coronavirus uses to invade a cell—appeared able to bind tightly to a human-cell receptor known as ACE2. This, Andersen told me, “means that it’s more effective at infecting human cells.” The other significant trait, a rare insertion in the genome of twelve nucleotides, called a furin cleavage site, might also increase the virus’s transmissibility, and lower the species barrier, allowing the virus to jump more easily to humans. “One has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered,” he wrote. There was much more data to analyze, he continued, “so those opinions could still change.” After attending another meeting With Dr. Fauci and other experts, Anderson told the NYer that attendees' views on whether the virus had been engineered were divided. Some argued that the SARS-CoV-2 genome included several features that one wouldn't expect to in a natural virus, which raised the prospect that it had been "engineered". Others disagreed. Following the meeting, a series of emails were exchanged between the attendees. The emails, which the New Yorker requested, were mostly redacted. But notably, just a few days later, Andersen insisted that the notion that COVID had been engineered was a "crackpot" idea, and that natural transmission was probably the most likely theory. In March, Andersen co-authored a paper declaring the virus of natural origin. That helped put a rest to the debate for months. Yet, there were still too many unanswered questions and unlikely coincidences, and the "conspiracy theory" about the virus's origins continued to thrive among a small contingent of professional scientists, who continued to wonder: if it truly was zoonotic, than why were scientists having so much trouble finding a verifiable missing link? As the pandemic progressed, not everyone was convinced by the natural-origin explanation. A zoonotic spillover would likely require an intermediate animal between bats and humans, but no such species has yet been identified. Initially, the Huanan market, in Wuhan, which sold fish, produce, and meat, seemed like the source of SARS-CoV-2. Nearly a third of the hundred and seventy-four earliest known cases were linked to Huanan. And yet, patient zero likely was not. Chinese officials have said he was a middle-aged accountant, surnamed Chen, who developed symptoms on December 8th, and typically shopped at a supermarket across the river. In May of 2020, George Fu Gao, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “At first, we assumed the seafood market might have the virus, but now the market is more like a victim. The novel coronavirus had existed long before.” By the end of 2020, these skeptics had formulated a new theory: instead of the virus having been deliberately engineered and released, the pandemic very likely might be the result of a lab leak. The lab, led by Shi Zhengli, the head of the WIV's center for emerging diseases, who has become better known by her nickname "Batwoman". Her lab was known to have catalogued more than 19K coronaviruses, mostly culled from bats. Then, questions emerged about Shi's research at a mine in Tongguan where a handful of miners were sickened and died with a mysterious coronavirus years ago. Some questioned whether the researchers were keeping certain strains isolated at the lab secret as they carried out dangerous "gain of function" research. Worries about this technique triggered a mini-panic in 2014, prompting the Obama Administration to ban it in the US. Yet, that didn't stop Dr. Fauci from funneling money to the WIV to help finance the dangerous experiments they may or may not have been conducting. Soon, a publicly available scientific database from the WIV disappeared. DRASTIC also exposed another mystery related to the W.I.V. In September, 2019, according to Web pages that DRASTIC archived, a W.I.V. database that was once publicly available was made inaccessible. It contained records pertaining to roughly twenty-two thousand samples, including, presumably, the sequences from Tongguan. When asked about it by the BBC, Shi said that the W.I.V. had “nothing to hide." Still, there's one reality that can't be denied: "At this point, the closest relatives of SARS-CoV-2 are known to have existed in two locations: bat caves in Yunnan, and at the Wuhan Institute of Virology." Back in 2015, Shi was criticized for running 'risky' experiments involving making bat coronaviruses infectious to humans. Geography aside, the nature of the experiments undertaken by the W.I.V. and its partners has raised concerns. In 2015, Shi was a co-author on a groundbreaking study, in Nature, with Ralph Baric, a coronavirus expert at the University of North Carolina. Through the use of pioneering genetic technology, Baric examined which viral structures could give a coronavirus the ability to infect humans. The work involved synthesizing what is known as a chimeric virus, named for the mythical beast with its parts taken from various animals; in this case, a modified clone of SARS was combined with a spike protein taken from one of the bat coronaviruses that Shi had discovered in Yunnan. Others who spoke to the New Yorker said that, in the years after these experiments began, some in the international scientific community warned that the WIV wasn't using proper protection protocols. Earlier this year, US intelligence learned that several WIV workers were infected with a severe COVID-like illness in the weeks before the pandemic began. Make no mistake, the fact that the New Yorker - the magazine that employed Ronan Farrow to help take down Harvey Weinstein - has managed to publish such a details story exploring all the holes in the "animal-to-human transimission" theory, expect other mainstream outlets to follow suite. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/13/2021 - 15:01.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

The Reason Behind Today"s Massive Payrolls Miss: A Huge Seasonal Adjustment Flaw

The Reason Behind Today's Massive Payrolls Miss: A Huge Seasonal Adjustment Flaw In recent months, the BLS itself admitted that it has a big problem in applying its traditional, pre-covid seasonal adjustments to a data series that was thrown out of all seasonal norms by the covid pandemic. This is why teacher jobs yoyo-ed for months and why the BLS was forced to make substantial upward revisions for each of the past 6 months, with most deriving from a flawed seasonal factor revision. Well, it appears that a big reason for today's huge, 5-sigma miss in total payrolls... ... even as the rest of the report was surprisingly solid, with the unemployment rate dropping, the number of unemployed workers sliding, and the household survey showing more than 1.1 million employed Americans, is that the BLS once again used a flawed seasonal adjustment which will prompt a sharp upward revision to the November print when it is revised next month. As Southbay Research explains further today, During COVID, the BLS admitted to two significant failures that led to substantial data distortion: Data collection: in 2020, the BLS discovered that their new COVID-created remote sampling incorrectly classified some payroll, resulting in underreporting hundreds of thousands of workers. Seasonal Adjustments: The BLS used their traditional methodology of applying a ratio to the raw Non Seasonally Adjusted data, which overstated job losses The seasonal adjustment factor is important:  The Dept of Labor recognized the problem with the weekly Jobless Claims, where they also applied a ratio multiplier. They shifted away from the multiplier and began using absolute numbers as of August 29, 2020 Why does it matter? The answer is obvious: the SA is supposed to remove the 'normal' seasonal labor swings.  For example, we know bad weather typically hits construction in November, so layoffs in that sector are expected and smoothed out. So historically speaking, ex recessionary periods, November sees 200K~300K in additional hiring.  Basically the seasonal shopping hiring. And so we see an equivalent level of offsetting Seasonal Adjustment.  Except for this November: as shown in the chart below, the November adjustment was a record -568K, more than double the average seasonal adjustment of the past decade of -277 and well above the 2008 high of 389K. Had the NSA number of 778K been adjusted by the average, of 268, we'd have, 510k, more in line with ADP and "only" half of the establishment survey. The implications: i) hiring, as hinted by the Household model, is quite strong but is hidden by model mechanics; and ii) more importantly, the faulty application of seasonal adjustment methodology lowered the November payrolls print by at least 200K; or as SouthBay summarizes it, "Far from being a weak November" this was a pretty strong report. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/03/2021 - 09:43.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 3rd, 2021

November Payrolls Preview: Strong Enough To Justify The Accelerated Taper?

November Payrolls Preview: Strong Enough To Justify The Accelerated Taper? With Powell's Fed having telegraphed it will accelerate the taper at this month's meeting so it can start presumably start hiking as soon as June of 2022, the November payrolls report may be moot although traders will be looking for barbell signs: will it be strong enough to validate an accelerated taper, or could it come so far below expectations that the Fed will be forced to delay its taper-boosting plans. Looking at the expectations, Newsquawk reminds us that analysts look for 550k nonfarm payrolls to be added to the US economy in November, similar to October's 531k; the jobless rate is seen falling by one-tenth of a percent to 4.5%. While as noted above the Fed appears almost certain to announce a quickening in the pace of QE tapering, analysts will be carefully watching measures of labor market slack to gauge the progress towards the Fed's 'three tests' for rate hikes: i) Participation was unchanged in October, ii) employment-population ticked up by 0.1ppts, while iii) the U6 measure of underemployment fell 0.2ppts. With the inflation tests met, the labor market data will form a key part of the Fed's arguments for rate hikes, and any significant  improvement in these metrics may see markets further price in tighter rates next year. Meanwhile, labor market gauges have generally been constructive in November: the rate of initial jobless claims going into the November survey period improved relative to the October window; ADP's gauge of payrolls was in line with expectations, though the pace eased vs October; business surveys saw employment sub-indices improve and are alluding to a very tight labor market, while today's Challenger job cuts fell to the lowest since 1993. Here is a summary of expectations: Nonfarm payrolls are expected to print 550k in November vs 531k in October (private payrolls expected at 530k vs 604k prior, manufacturing payrolls expected at 45k vs prior 60k); the 3-month average nonfarm payrolls trend rate eased to 442k in October (vs 629k in September), the 6-month average rose to 666k (from 622k) and the 12-month average eased to 481k (from 494k). The unemployment rate is seen declining by 0.1ppts in November to 4.5%; Labor market participation was unchanged at 61.6% in October (vs 63.6% in February 2020), U6 underemployment declined by 0.2ppts to 8.3% (vs 7.0% in February 2020), and the employment-population ratio rose 0.1ppts to 58.8% (vs pre-pandemic 61.1%). Average hourly earnings are seen rising 0.4% M/M, with the annual measure expected to rise by 0.1ppts to 4.0% Y/Y, Average workweek hours are likely to be unchanged at 34.7hrs. POLICY FOCUS: Fed Chair Powell this week delivered hawkish testimony to lawmakers, where he stated that the economy had continued to strengthen, the labor market had continued to improve, and he sees inflation moving down significantly over the next year. He added that it was appropriate to consider wrapping up the tapering of asset purchases a few months sooner, which participants will discuss at the December FOMC. Powell telegraphing the debate in advance may have taken some of the sting out of incoming economic data -- the rationale being that the Fed is set to accelerate the taper barring any significant deterioration in labor market and inflation data before the December 15th confab -- but Powell still suggested that there was a three-part test for raising rates (economy at maximum employment, inflation at 2%, inflation on track to moderately exceed 2% for some time); Fed officials have attempted to break the link between tapering and eventual rate hikes, but forward-looking markets will be assessing incoming data within the context of the three tests, and will price expectations of the Fed rate hike trajectory accordingly. The inflation test has been met, but Powell said there was still ground to cover to reach maximum employment, though he has previously said that could be achieved by the middle of next year; this week's labor market data, therefore, remains a key part of the eventual rate hike debate. SLACK: Taking an aggregate of the headline since March 2020, there are still some 4.44mln nonfarm payrolls to be recouped to get back to pre-pandemic levels. Goldman Sachs explains that it has been childcare constraints and elevated fiscal transfers which have likely weighed on participation, but these factors should have only a small effect going forward, but it may still take some time for some people to feel comfortable in returning to work, leaving some potential for longer-lasting drags. "We continue to expect that the labor force participation rate will increase in the nearterm, but we have nudged down our participation rate forecast to 1ppt below trend at end-2021 (61.9%) and 0.5ppts below trend at end-2022 (62.1%)," the bank says, "but because jobs are abundant and residual weakness in participation in mid-2022 will likely be due to changes in fiscal policy, wealth, and worker preferences, we expect that the FOMC will judge any participation shortfall that remains at that point to be structural or voluntary and will update their maximum employment goal accordingly." JOBLESS CLAIMS: In the week that traditionally coincides with the BLS survey window for the jobs report, initial jobless claims were little changed at 270k from the prior week's 269k; but since the October jobs report survey window, claims have eased from 351k. Continuing claims, meanwhile, printed 2.049mln in the survey week, down from 2.11mln in the prior week, and lower than the 2.81mln in the October survey period. Pantheon Macroeconomics said that the trend in initial jobless claims remains firmly downward, but the read may not be clear in the holiday season: "Unfortunately the numbers will be volatile over the holidays, as usual, and the next clean read on the data will be in mid-January," and by then, "we think claims will be close to the lows seen in the pre-COVID cycle, about 210K." ADP: The ADP's national employment gauge saw 534k job additions to the US economy in November, more or less in line with the 525k forecast; the prior was revised down trivially by 1k to 570k. ADP's economists noted that the labor market recovery continued to "power through" its challenges last month. "Job gains have eclipsed 15 million since the recovery began, though 5 million jobs short of pre-pandemic levels," ADP said, "service providers, which are more vulnerable to the pandemic, have dominated job gains this year." On the pandemic, ADP's economists said it was too early to tell if the Omicron variant could potentially slow the jobs recovery in coming months. BUSINESS SURVEYS: Within the ISM manufacturing report, the employment index rose by 1.3 points to 53.3, remaining in expansion for a third month, with the report noting some indications that the ability to hire is improving, though this is being partially offset by the challenges of turnover and backfilling. "Survey panellists’ companies are still struggling to meet labour-management plans, but there were modest signs of progress," ISM said, "an increasing share of comments noted improvements regarding employment," where "an overwhelming majority of panellists indicate their companies are hiring or attempting to hire." 51% of those surveyed were expressing difficulties in filling positions, with the situation becoming more acute in the month. Meanwhile, the services ISM is released after this month's jobs data, but using the IHS Markit flash November PMIs as a proxy, similar themes have been seen. IHS Markit said that pressure on capacity persisted amid labour shortages, with backlogs of work rising at the second-fastest pace on record. "Firms sought to expand their workforce numbers, but employment growth was held back by challenges finding suitablecandidates." JOB CUTS: Challenger's November report said that announced job cuts had dropped to 14,875 from the 22,822 in October, the lowest monthly total since May 1993. Year-to-date, employers have announced plans to cut 302,918 jobs from their payrolls, the lowest January-November total on record, and vs 2,227,725 vs the same period in 2020. Challenger said that "with the Omicron variant emerging and the unknowns that come with its spread, coupled with the ongoing difficulty hiring and retaining workers, it’s no surprise job cuts are at record lows," adding that "employers are spread thin, planning best- and worst-case scenarios in terms of COVID, while also contending with staff shortages and high demand." Speaking of Goldman, the bank is more optimistic than consensus and estimates nonfarm payrolls rose 575k in November, above the 531k gain in October and higher than the bank's initial forecast of +550k (which is in line with consensus). The bank expects no change in government payrolls, and thus private payrolls will also rise +575k in November (vs. consensus +525k).  According to the bank, the summer expiration of federal unemployment insurance benefits in some states boosted job-finding rates there, and the programs expired in the remaining states on September 5th. Over 4.6mn people have dropped off the unemployment benefit rolls since early September, and we assume 300-400k found new jobs during the November payroll month. Goldman also believes upward revisions to prior-month nonfarm payrolls are fairly likely in tomorrow’s report. The chart below reveals a trend of increasingly large upward revisions over the course of the year, with prior-month job growth revised up on net in each of the last six reports (including +235k with last month’s release). There are two potential explanations, both of which could potentially lead to upward revisions in tomorrow’s report as well. First, some reopening establishments may respond to the BLS survey with a lag (e.g. 1-2 months after reopening). This would result in positive revisions to the not-seasonally-adjusted data that occurred in May, July, August, and September (dark blue bars below). Second, the seasonal factors may be overfitting to the advance releases, mistakenly attributing some of the strong job creation to an evolution of seasonality (light blue lines below). ARGUING FOR A STRONGER REPORT: End of federal enhanced unemployment benefits. The expiration of federal benefits in some states boosted job-finding rates over the summer, and all remaining such programs expired on September 5. The 239k pickup in job growth in October relative to September is consistent with a boost from improved labor supply, and with 4.6 mn individuals no longer receiving benefits versus in early September, this tailwind is expected to continue in tomorrow’s report and beyond. Public health. The Delta wave coincided with a late-summer slowdown in job growth, with leisure and hospitality employment growth slowing sharply in September and October (see Exhibit 1). With covid infection rates falling since September, restaurant seatings on OpenTable have rebounded,and economists expect strong gains in leisure and hospitality and in other services. Job availability. The Conference Board labor differential—the difference between nthe percent of respondents saying jobs are plentiful and those saying jobs are hard to get—increased to a record-high of 46.9. JOLTS job openings decreased by 191kin September to 10.4mn but remained significantly higher than the pre-pandemic record. Jobless claims. Initial jobless claims fell during the November payroll month, averaging 257k per week vs. 320k in October. Continuing claims in regular state programs decreased 283k from survey week to survey week. Education seasonality. Education payrolls weighed on the previous two reports, declining 170k cumulatively in September and October (public and private). This reflects some janitors and support staff declining to return for the fall school year. While schools will eventually fill these open positions, the start-of-year catalyst for a large rise in education jobs has passed, and we are assuming only second derivative improvement in tomorrow’s report, such as a flat reading or a modest gain (mom sa). Employer surveys. The employment components of business surveys generally increased in November. Goldman's services survey employment tracker increased 0.5pt to 55.1 and its manufacturing survey employment tracker increased 0.7pt to 59.6. The Goldman Sachs Analyst Index (GSAI) increased 4.3pt to 77.2 in November, and the employment component rose 1.6pt to a record-high of 75.6. Job cuts. Announced layoffs reported by Challenger, Gray & Christmas declined by 10% month-over-month in November after increasing by 18% in October (SA by GS),and remain near their three-decade low. ARGUING FOR A WEAKER REPORT: Supply constraints in retail. Labor supply constraints may have weighed on pre-holiday hiring in the retail industry, for which the BLS seasonal factors anticipate net hiring of around 350k. If so, retail payroll could fall on a seasonally adjusted basis. Vaccine mandates. The vaccine mandates announced by the Biden administration nin September apply to roughly 25mn unvaccinated workers, and may have weighed on November job growth in healthcare and government. While the federal deadline for compliance is generally not until early January and faces an uncertain future in the court system, early adoption in some states may have reduced job growth at the margin in tomorrow’s report. NEUTRAL FACTORS Big Data. High-frequency data on the labor market were mixed. Three of the four measures available this month indicate another sizeable gain. However, the Homebase data that directionally flagged the September payroll missindicates an outright decline ADP. Private sector employment in the ADP report increased by 534k in November, in line with consensus expectations for a 525k gain and consistent with strong growth in the ADP panel. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 21:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 3rd, 2021

BTFDers Unleashed: Futures, Yields, Oil Jump As Omicron Panic Eases

BTFDers Unleashed: Futures, Yields, Oil Jump As Omicron Panic Eases As expected over the weekend, and as we first noted shortly after electronic markets reopened for trading on Sunday, S&P futures have maintained their overnight gains and have rebounded 0.7% while Nasdaq contracts jumped as much as 1.3% after risk sentiment stabilized following Friday’s carnage and as investors settled in for a few weeks of uncertainty on whether the Omicron variant would derail economic recoveries and the tightening plans of some central banks. Japan led declines in the Asian equity session (which was catching down to Friday's US losses) after the government shut borders to visitors. The region’s reopening stocks such as restaurants, department stores, train operators and travel shares also suffered some losses.  Oil prices bounced $3 a barrel to recoup some of Friday's rout, while the safe haven yen, Swiss franc and 10Y Treasury took a breather after its run higher. Moderna shares jumped as much as 12% in pre-market trading after Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said he suspects the new omicron coronavirus variant may elude current vaccines, and if so, a reformulated shot could be available early in the new year. Which he would obviously say as his company makes money from making vaccines, even if they are not very efficient. Here are some of the other notable premarket movers today: BioNTech (BNTX US) advanced 5% after it said it’s starting with the first steps of developing a new adapted vaccine, according to statement sent by text. Merck & Co. (MRK US) declined 1.6% after it was downgraded to neutral from buy at Citi, which also opens a negative catalyst watch, with “high probability” the drugmaker will abandon development of its HIV treatment. A selection of small biotechs rise again in U.S. premarket trading amid discussion of the companies in StockTwits and after these names outperformed during Friday’s market rout. Palatin Tech (PTN US) +37%, Biofrontera (BFRI US) +22%, 180 Life Sciences (ATNF US) +19%. Bonds gave back some of their gains, with Treasury futures were down 11 ticks. Like other safe havens, the market had rallied sharply as investors priced in the risk of a slower start to rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, and less tightening by some other central banks. Needless to say, Omicron is all anyone can talk about: on one hand, authorities have already orchestrated a lot of global panic: Britain called an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss developments on the virus, even though the South African doctor who discovered the strain and treated cases said symptoms of Omicron were so far mild. The new variant of concern was found as far afield as Canada and Australia as more countries such as Japan imposed travel restriction to try to seal themselves off. Summarizing the fearmongering dynamic observed, overnight South African health experts - including those who discovered the Omicron variant, said it appears to cause mild symptoms, while the Chinese lapdog organization, WHO, said the variant’s risk is “extremely high”. Investors are trying to work out if the omicron flareup will a relatively brief scare that markets rebound from, or a bigger blow to the global economic recovery. Much remains unanswered about the new strain: South African scientists suggested it’s presenting with mild symptoms so far, though it appears to be more transmissible, but the World Health Organization warned it could fuel future surges of Covid-19 with severe consequences. "There is a lot we don't know about Omicron, but markets have been forced to reassess the global growth outlook until we know more," said Rodrigo Catril, a market strategist at NAB. "Pfizer expects to know within two weeks if Omicron is resistant to its current vaccine, others suggest it may take several weeks. Until then markets are likely to remain jittery." "Despite the irresistible pull of buying-the-dip on tenuous early information on omicron, we are just one negative omicron headline away from going back to where we started,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. “Expect plenty of headline-driven whipsaw price action this week.” The emergence of the omicron strain is also complicating monetary policy. Traders have already pushed back the expected timing of a first 25-basis-point rate hike by the Federal Reserve to July from June. Fed Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic played down economic risks from a new variant, saying he’s open to a quicker paring of asset purchases to curb inflation. Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speak before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. “We know that central banks can quickly switch to dovish if they need to,” Mahjabeen Zaman, Citigroup senior investment specialist, said on Bloomberg Television. “The liquidity playbook that we have in play right now will continue to support the market.” European stocks rallied their worst drop in more than a year on Friday, with travel and energy stocks leading the advance. The Stoxx 600 rose 0.9% while FTSE 100 futures gain more than 1%, aided by a report that Reliance may bid for BT Group which jumped as much as 9.5% following a report that India’s Reliance Industries may offer to buy U.K. phone company, though it pared the gain after Reliance denied it’s considering a bid. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde put a brave face on the latest virus scare, saying the euro zone was better equipped to face the economic impact of a new wave of COVID-19 infections or the Omicron variant Japanese shares lead Asian indexes lower after Premier Kishida announces entry ban of all new foreign visitors. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index closed down 0.9% at the lowest level since October 2020, led by Galaxy Entertainment and Meituan. The index followed regional peers lower amid worries about the new Covid variant Omicron. Amid the big movers, Galaxy Entertainment was down 5.4% after police arrested Macau’s junket king, while Meituan falls 7.1% after reporting earnings. In FX, currency markets are stabilizing as the week kicks off yet investors are betting on the possibility of further volatility. The South African rand climbed against the greenback though most emerging-market peers declined along with developing-nation stocks. Turkey’s lira slumped more than 2% after a report at the weekend that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered a probe into foreign currency trades. The Swiss franc, euro and yen retreat while loonie and Aussie top G-10 leaderboard after WTI crude futures rally more than 4%. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index hovered after Friday’s drop, and the greenback traded mixed against its Group-of-10 peers; commodity currencies led gains. The euro slipped back below $1.13 and Bunds sold off, yet outperformed Treasuries. The pound was steady against the dollar and rallied against the euro. Australian sovereign bonds pared an opening jump as Treasuries trimmed Friday’s spike amid continuing uncertainty over the fallout from the omicron variant. The Aussie rallied with oil and iron ore. The yen erased an earlier decline as a government announcement on planned border closures starting Tuesday spurred a drop in local equities. The rand strengthens as South African health experts call omicron variant “mild.” In rates, Treasuries were cheaper by 4bp-7bp across the curve in belly-led losses, reversing a portion of Friday’s sharp safe-haven rally as potential economic impact of omicron coronavirus strain continues to be assessed. The Treasury curve bear- steepened and the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield jumped as much as 7 basis points to 1.54%; that unwound some of Friday’s 16 basis-point plunge -- the steepest since March 2020.  Focal points include month-end on Tuesday, November jobs report Friday, and Fed Chair Powell is scheduled to speak Monday afternoon. Treasuries broadly steady since yields gapped higher when Asia session began, leaving 10-year around 1.54%, cheaper by almost 7bp on the day; front-end outperformance steepens 2s10s by ~3bp. Long-end may draw support from potential for month-end buying; Bloomberg Treasury index rebalancing was projected to extend duration by 0.11yr as of Nov. 22 In commodities, oil prices bounced after suffering their largest one-day drop since April 2020 on Friday. "The move all but guarantees the OPEC+ alliance will suspend its scheduled increase for January at its meeting on 2 December," wrote analyst at ANZ in a note. "Such headwinds are the reason it's been only gradually raising output in recent months, despite demand rebounding strongly." Brent rebounded 3.9% to $75.57 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 4.5% to $71.24. Gold has so far found little in the way of safe haven demand, leaving it stuck at $1,791 an ounce . SGX iron ore rises almost 8% to recoup Friday’s losses. Bitcoin rallied after falling below $54,000 on Friday. Looking at today's calendar, we get October pending home sales, and November Dallas Fed manufacturing activity. We also get a bunch of Fed speakers including Williams, Powell making remarks at the New York Fed innovation event, Fed’s Hassan moderating a panel and Fed’s Bowman discussing central bank and indigenous economies. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.6% to 4,625.00 MXAP down 0.9% to 191.79 MXAPJ down 0.4% to 625.06 Nikkei down 1.6% to 28,283.92 Topix down 1.8% to 1,948.48 Hang Seng Index down 0.9% to 23,852.24 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,562.70 Sensex up 0.4% to 57,307.46 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.5% to 7,239.82 Kospi down 0.9% to 2,909.32 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.7% to 467.47 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro down 0.3% to $1.1283 Brent Futures up 3.8% to $75.49/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,797.11 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.13% to 96.22 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The omicron variant of Covid-19, first identified in South Africa, has been detected in locations from Australia to the U.K. and Canada, showing the difficulties of curtailing new strains While health experts in South Africa, where omicron was first detected, said it appeared to cause only mild symptoms, the Geneva-based WHO assessed the variant’s risk as “extremely high” and called on member states to test widely. Understanding the new strain will take several days or weeks, the agency said All travelers arriving in the U.K. starting at 4 a.m. on Nov. 30 must take a PCR coronavirus test on or before the second day of their stay and isolate until they receive a negative result. Face coverings will again be mandatory in shops and other indoor settings and on public transport. Booster shots may also be approved for more age groups within days, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid The economic effects of the successive waves of the Covid pandemic have been less and less damaging, Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau says Italian bonds advance for a third day, as investors shrug off new coronavirus developments over the weekend and stock futures advance, while bunds are little changed ahead of German inflation numbers and a raft of ECB speakers including President Christine Lagarde A European Commission sentiment index fell to 117.5 in November from 118.6 the previous month, data released Monday showed Spanish inflation accelerated to the fastest in nearly three decades in November on rising food prices, underscoring the lingering consequences of supply-chain bottlenecks across Europe. Consumer prices jumped 5.6% Energy prices in Europe surged on Monday after weather forecasts showed colder temperatures for the next two weeks that will lift demand for heating ECB Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel took to the airwaves to reassure her fellow Germans that inflation will slow again, hours before data set to show the fastest pace of price increases since the early 1990s Russia’s ambassador to Washington said more than 50 diplomats and their family members will have to leave the U.S. by mid-2022, in the latest sign of tensions between the former Cold War enemies China sent the biggest sortie of warplanes toward Taiwan in more than seven weeks after a U.S. lawmaker defied a Chinese demand that she abandon a trip to the island A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded cautiously and US equity futures rebounded from Friday’s hefty selling (S&P 500 -2.3%) as all focus remained on the Omicron variant after several countries announced restrictions and their first cases of the new variant, although markets took solace from reports that all cases so far from South Africa have been mild. Furthermore, NIH Director Collins was optimistic that current vaccines are likely to protect against the Omicron variant but also noted it was too early to know the answers, while Goldman Sachs doesn’t think the new variant is a sufficient reason to adjust its portfolio citing comments from South Africa’s NICD that the mutation is unlikely to be more malicious and existing vaccines will most likely remain effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths. ASX 200 (-0.5%) is subdued after Australia registered its first cases of the Omicron variant which involved two people that arrived in Sydney from southern Africa and with the government reviewing its border reopening plans. Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) whipsawed whereby it initially slumped at the open due to the virus fears and currency-related headwinds but then recouped its losses and briefly returned flat as the mood gradually improved, before succumbing to a bout of late selling, and with mixed Retail Sales data adding to the indecision. Hang Seng (-1.0%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) weakened with Meituan the worst performer in Hong Kong after posting a quarterly loss and with casino names pressured by a crackdown in which police detained Suncity Group CEO and others after admitting to accusations including illegal cross border gambling. However, the losses in the mainland were cushioned after firm Industrial Profits data over the weekend and with local press noting expectations for China to adopt a more proactive macro policy next year. Finally, 10yr JGBs shrugged off the pullback seen in T-note and Bund futures, with price action kept afloat amid the cautious mood in stocks and the BoJ’s presence in the market for over JPY 900bln of JGBs mostly concentrated in 3yr-10yr maturities. Top Asian News Hong Kong Stocks Slide to 13-Month Low on Fresh Virus Woes Li Auto Loss Narrows as EV Maker Rides Out Supply-Chain Snarls Singapore Adds to Its Gold Pile for the First Time in Decades China Growth Stocks Look Like Havens as Markets Confront Omicron Bourses in Europe are experiencing a mild broad-based rebound (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.0%; Stoxx 600 +0.9%) following Friday's hefty COVID-induced losses. Desks over the weekend have been framing Friday's losses as somewhat overstretched in holiday-thinned liquidity, given how little is known about the Omicron variant itself. The strain will likely remain the market theme as scientists and policymakers factor in this new variant, whilst data from this point forth – including Friday's US labour market report - will likely be passed off as somewhat stale, and headline risk will likely be abundant. Thus far, symptoms from Omicron are seemingly milder than some of its predecessors, although governments and central banks will likely continue to express caution in this period of uncertainty. Back to price action, the momentum of the rebound has lost steam; US equity futures have also been drifting lower since the European cash open – with the RTY (+0.9%) was the laggard in early European trade vs the ES (+0.8%), NQ (+1.0%) and YM (+0.7%). European cash bourses have also been waning off best levels but remain in positive territory. Sectors are mostly in the green, but the breadth of the market has narrowed since the cash open. Travel & Leisure retains the top spot in what seems to be more a reversal of Friday's exaggerated underperformance as opposed to a fundamentally driven rebound – with more nations announcing travel restrictions to stem the spread of the variant. Oil & Gas has also trimmed some of Friday's losses as oil prices see a modest rebound relative to Friday's slump. On the other end of the spectrum, Healthcare sees mild losses as COVID-related names take a mild breather, although Moderna (+9.1% pre-market) gains ahead of the US open after its Chief Medical Officer suggested a new vaccine for the variant could be ready early next year. Meanwhile, Autos & Parts reside as the current laggard amid several bearish updates, including a Y/Y drop in German car exports - due to the chip shortage and supply bottlenecks – factors which the Daimler Truck CEO suggested will lead to billions of Euros in losses. Furthermore, auto supbt.aplier provider Faurecia (-5.9%) trades at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after slashing guidance – again a function of the chip shortage. In terms of Monday M&A, BT (+4.7%) shares opened higher by almost 10% following source reports in Indian press suggesting Reliance Industries is gearing up for a takeover approach of BT – reports that were subsequently rebuffed. Top European News U.K. Mortgage Approvals Fall to 67,199 in Oct. Vs. Est. 70,000 Johnson Matthey Rises on Report of Battery Talks With Tata Gazprom Reports Record Third-Quarter Profit Amid Gas Surge Omicron’s Spread Fuels Search for Answers as WHO Sounds Warning In FX, the Buck has bounced from Friday’s pullback lows on a mixture of short covering, consolidation and a somewhat more hopeful prognosis of SA’s new coronavirus strand compared to very early perceptions prompted by reports that the latest mutation would be even worse than the Delta variant. In DXY terms, a base above 96.000 is forming within a 93.366-144 band amidst a rebound in US Treasury yields and re-steepening along the curve following comments from Fed’s Bostic indicating a willingness to back faster QE tapering. Ahead, pending home sales and Dallas Fed business manufacturing along with more Fed rhetoric from Williams and chair Powell on the eve of month end. AUD/CAD/NZD - No surprise to see the high beta and risk sensitive currencies take advantage of the somewhat calmer conditions plus a recovery in crude and other commodities that were decimated by the prospect of depressed demand due to the aforementioned Omicron outbreak. The Aussie is back over 0.7150 vs its US counterpart, the Loonie has pared back losses from sub-1.2750 with assistance from WTI’s recovery to top Usd 72/brl vs a Usd 67.40 trough on November 26 and the Kiwi is hovering above 0.6800 even though RBNZ chief economist Ha has warned that a pause in OCR tightening could occur if the fresh COVID-19 wave proves to be a ‘game-changer’. JPY/EUR - The major laggards as sentiment stabilses, with the Yen midway between 112.99-113.88 parameters and hardly helped by mixed Japanese retail sales data, while the Euro has retreated below 1.1300 where 1.7 bn option expiry interest resides and a key Fib level just under the round number irrespective of strong German state inflation reports and encouraging pan Eurozone sentiment indicators, as more nations batten down the hatches to stem the spread of SA’s virus that has shown up in parts of the bloc. GBP/CHF - Both narrowly divergent vs the Dollar, as Cable retains 1.3300+ status against the backdrop of retreating Gilt and Short Sterling futures even though UK consumer credit, mortgage lending and approvals are rather conflicting, while the Franc pivots 0.9250 and meanders from 1.0426 to 1.0453 against the Euro after the latest weekly update on Swiss bank sight deposits showing no sign of official intervention. However, Usd/Chf may veer towards 1.1 bn option expiries at the 0.9275 strike if risk appetite continues to improve ahead of KoF on Tuesday and monthly reserves data. SCANDI/EM - Although Brent has bounced to the benefit of the Nok, Sek outperformance has ensued in wake of an upgrade to final Swedish Q3 GDP, while the Cnh and Cny are deriving support via a rise in Chinese industrial profits on a y/y basis and the Zar is breathing a sigh of relief on the aforementioned ‘better’ virus updates/assessments from SA on balance. Conversely, the Try is back under pressure post-a deterioration in Turkish economic sentiment vs smaller trade deficit as investors look forward to CPI at the end of the week. Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdogan provides no reprieve for the Lira as he once again defending his unorthodox view that higher interest rates lead to higher inflation. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures consolidate following an overnight rebound – with WTI Jan back on a USD 71/bbl handle and Brent Feb just under USD 75/bbl – albeit still some way off from Friday's best levels which saw the former's high above USD 78/bbl and the latter's best north of USD 81/bbl. The week is packed with risks to the oil complex, including the resumption of Iranian nuclear talks (slated at 13:00GMT/08:00EST today) and the OPEC+ monthly confab. In terms of the former, little is expected in terms of progress unless the US agrees to adhere to Tehran's demand – which at this point seems unlikely. Tehran continues to seek the removal of US sanctions alongside assurances that the US will not withdraw from the deal. "The assertion that the US must 'change its approach if it wants progress' sets a challenging tone", Citi's analysts said, and the bank also expects parties to demand full access to Iranian nuclear facilities for verification of compliance. Further, the IAEA Chief met with Iranian officials last week; although concrete progress was sparse, the overall tone of the meeting was one of progress. "We remain of the opinion that additional Iranian supplies are unlikely to reach the market before the second half of 2022 at the earliest," Citi said. Meanwhile, reports suggested the US and allies have been debating a "Plan B" if talks were to collapse. NBC News – citing European diplomats, former US officials and experts – suggested that options included: 1) a skinny nuclear deal, 2) ramp up sanctions, 3) Launching operations to sabotage Iranian nuclear advances, 4) Military strikes, 5) persuading China to halt Iranian oil imports, albeit Iran and China recently signed a 25yr deal. Over to OPEC+, a rescheduling (in light of the Omicron variant) sees the OPEC and JTC meeting now on the 1st December, followed by the JMMC and OPEC+ on the 2nd. Sources on Friday suggested that members are leaning towards a pause in the planned monthly output, although Russian Deputy PM Novak hit the wires today and suggested there is no need for urgent measures in the oil market. Markets will likely be tested, and expectations massaged with several sources heading into the meeting later this week. Elsewhere, spot gold trades sideways just under the USD 1,800/oz and above a cluster of DMAs, including the 50 (1,790.60/oz), 200 (1,791.30/oz) and 100 (1,792.80/oz) awaiting the next catalyst. Over to base metals, LME copper recoups some of Friday's lost ground, with traders also citing the underlying demand emanating from the EV revolution. US Event Calendar 10am: Oct. Pending Home Sales YoY, prior -7.2% 10am: Oct. Pending Home Sales (MoM), est. 0.8%, prior -2.3% 10:30am: Nov. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. 17.0, prior 14.6 Central Bank speakers: 3pm: Fed’s Williams gives opening remarks at NY Innovation Center 3:05pm: Powell Makes Opening Remarks at New York Fed Innovation Event 3:15pm: Fed’s Hassan moderates panel introducing NY Innovation Center 5:05pm: Fed’s Bowman Discusses Central bank and Indigenous Economies DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Last night Henry in my team put out a Q&A looking at what we know about Omicron (link here) as many risk assets put in their worst performance of the year on Friday after it exploded into view. The main reason for the widespread concern is the incredibly high number of mutations, with 32 on the spike protein specifically, which is the part of the virus that allows it to enter human cells. That’s much more than we’ve seen for previous variants, and raises the prospect it could be a more transmissible version of the virus, although scientists are still assessing this. South Africa is clearly where it has been discovered (not necessarily originated from) and where it has been spreading most. The fact that’s it’s become the dominant strain there in just two weeks hints at its higher level of contagiousness. However the read through to elsewhere is tough as the country has only fully vaccinated 24% of its population, relative to at least 68% in most of the larger developed countries bar the US which languishes at 58%. It could still prove less deadly (as virus variants over time mostly are) but if it is more contagious that could offset this and it could still cause similar healthcare issues, especially if vaccines are less protective. On the other hand the South African doctor who first alerted authorities to the unusual symptoms that have now been found to have been caused by Omicron, was on numerous media platforms over the weekend suggesting that the patients she has seen with it were exhausted but generally had mild symptoms. However she also said her patients were from a healthy cohort so we can’t relax too much on this. However as South African cases rise we will get a lot of clues from hospitalisation data even if only 6% of the country is over 65s. My personal view is that we’ll get a lot of information quite quickly around how bad this variant is. The reports over the weekend that numerous cases of Omicron have already been discovered around the world, suggests it’s probably more widespread than people think already. So we will likely soon learn whether these patients present with more severe illness and we’ll also learn of their vaccination status before any official study is out. The only caveat would be that until elderly patients have been exposed in enough scale we won’t be able to rule out the more negative scenarios. Before all that the level of restrictions have been significantly ramped up over the weekend in many countries. Henry discusses this in his note but one very significant one is that ALL travellers coming into (or back to) the UK will have to self isolate until they get a negative PCR test. This sort of thing will dramatically reduce travel, especially short business trips. Overnight Japan have effectively banned ALL foreign visitors. I appreciate its dangerous to be positive on covid at the moment but you only have to look at the UK for signs that boosters are doing a great job. Cases in the elderly population continue to collapse as the roll out progresses well and overall deaths have dropped nearly 20% over the last week to 121 (7-day average) - a tenth of where they were at the peak even though cases have recently been 80-90% of their peak levels. If Europe are just lagging the UK on boosters rather than anything more structural, most countries should be able to control the current wave all things being equal. However Omicron could make things less equal but it would be a huge surprise if vaccines made no impact. Stocks in Asia are trading cautiously but remember that the US and Europe sold off more aggressively after Asia closed on Friday. So the lack of major damage is insightful. The Nikkei (-0.02%), Shanghai Composite (-0.14%), CSI (-0.22%), KOSPI (-0.47%) and Hang Seng (-0.68%) are only slightly lower. Treasury yields, oil, and equity futures are all rising in Asia. US treasury yields are up 4-6bps across the curve, Oil is c.+4.5% higher, while the ZAR is +1.31%. Equity futures are trading higher with the S&P 500 (+0.71%) and DAX (+0.84%) futures in the green. In terms of looking ahead, we may be heading into December this week but there’s still an incredibly eventful period ahead on the market calendar even outside of Omicron. We have payrolls on Friday which could still have a big impact on what the Fed do at their important December 15 FOMC and especially on whether they accelerate the taper. Wednesday (Manufacturing) and Friday (Services) see the latest global PMIs which will as ever be closely watched even if people will suggest that the latest virus surge and now Omicron variant may make it backward looking. Elsewhere in the Euro Area, we’ll get the flash CPI estimate for November tomorrow (France and Italy on the same day with Germany today), and we’ll hear from Fed Chair Powell as he testifies (with Mrs Yellen) before congressional committees tomorrow and Wednesday. There’s lots of other Fed speakers this week (ahead of their blackout from this coming weekend) and last week there was a definite shift towards a faster taper bias, even amongst the doves on the committee with Daly being the most important potential convert. Fed speakers this week might though have to balance the emergence of the new variant with the obvious point that without it the Fed is a fair bit behind the curve. Importantly but lurking in the background, Friday is also the US funding deadline before another government shutdown. History would suggest a tense last minute deal but it’s tough to predict. Recapping last week now and the emergence of the new variant reshaped the whole week even if ahead of this, continued case growth across Europe prompted renewed lockdown measures and travel bans across the continent. Risk sentiment clearly plummeted on Friday. The S&P 500 fell -2.27%, the biggest drop since October 2020, while the Stoxx 600 fell -3.67%, the biggest one-day decline since the original Covid-induced risk off in March 2020. The S&P 500 was -2.20% lower last week, while the Stoxx 600 was down -4.53% on the week. 10yr treasury, bund, and gilt yields declined -16.1bps, -8.7bps, and -14.5bps, undoing the inflation and policy response-driven selloff from earlier in the week. The drop in 10yr treasury and gilt yields were the biggest one-day declines since the original Covid-driven rally in March 2020, while the drop in bund yields was the largest since April 2020. 10yr treasury, bund, and gilt yields ended the week -7.3bps lower, +0.7bps higher, and -5.4bps lower, respectively. Measures of inflation compensation declined due to the anticipated hit to global demand, with 10yr breakevens in the US and Germany -6.8bps and -8.8bps lower Friday, along with Brent and WTI futures declining -11.55% and -13.06%, respectively. Investors pushed back the anticipated timing of rate hikes. As it stands, the first full Fed hike is just about priced for July, and 2 hikes are priced for 2022. This follows a hawkish tone from even the most dovish FOMC members and the November FOMC minutes last week. The prevailing sentiment was the FOMC was preparing to accelerate their asset purchase taper at the December meeting to enable inflation-fighting rate hikes earlier in 2022. Understanding the impact of the new variant will be crucial for interpreting the Fed’s reaction function, though. The impact may not be so obvious; while a new variant would certainly hurt global demand and portend more policy accommodation, it will also likely prompt more virus-avoiding behaviour in the labour market, preventing workers from returning to pre-Covid levels. Whether the Fed decides to accommodate these sidelined workers for longer, or to re-think what constitutes full employment in a Covid world should inform your view on whether they accelerate tapering in December. It feels like a lifetime ago but last week also saw President Biden nominate Chair Powell to head the Fed for another term, and for Governor Brainard to serve as Vice Chair. The announcement led to a selloff in rates as the more dovish Brainard did not land the head job. In Germany, the center-left SPD, Greens, and liberal FDP agreed to a full coalition deal. The traffic-light coalition agreed to restore the debt break in 2023, after being suspended during the pandemic, and to raise the minimum wage to €12 per hour. The SPD’s Olaf Scholz will assume the Chancellorship. The US, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and UK announced releases of strategic petroleum reserves. Oil prices were higher following the announcement, in part because releases were smaller than anticipated but, as mentioned, prices dropped precipitously on Friday on the global demand impact of the new Covid variant. The ECB released the minutes of the October Governing Council meeting, where officials stressed the need to maintain optionality in their policy setting. They acknowledged growing upside risks to inflation but stressed the importance of not overreacting in setting policy as they see how inflation scenarios might unfold. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 08:01.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 29th, 2021

Bovard Blasts The Biden Crackdown On Thought Crimes

Bovard Blasts The Biden Crackdown On Thought Crimes Authored by Jim Bovard, The Biden administration is seeking to radically narrow the boundaries of respectable American political thought. The administration has repeatedly issued statements and reports that could automatically castigate citizens who distrust the federal government. We may eventually learn that the new Biden guidelines spurred a vast increase in federal surveillance and other abuses against Americans who were guilty of nothing more than vigorous skepticism. Biden is Nixon on steroids The Biden team is expanding the federal Enemies List perhaps faster than any time since the Nixon administration. In June, the Biden administration asserted that guys who are unable to score with women may be terrorist threats due to “involuntary celibate–violent extremism.” That revelation was included in the administration’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, which identified legions of new potential “domestic terrorists” that the feds can castigate and investigate. The White House claims its new war on terrorism and extremism is “carefully tailored to address violence and reduce the factors that …infringe on the free expression of ideas.” But the prerogative to define extremism includes the power to revile disapproved beliefs. The report warns that “narratives of fraud in the recent general election … will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] to try to engage in violence this year.” If accusations of 2020 electoral shenanigans are formally labeled as extremist threats, that could result in far more repression (aided by Facebook and Twitter) of dissenting voices. How will this work out any better than the concerted campaign by the media and Big Tech last fall to suppress all information about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the election? And how can Biden be trusted to be the judge after he effectively accused Facebook of mass murder for refusing to totally censor anyone who raised doubts about the COVID-19 vaccine? The Biden administration is revving up for a war against an enemy which the feds have chosen to never explicitly define. According to a March report by Biden’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “domestic violent extremists” include individuals who “take overt steps to violently resist or facilitate the overthrow of the U.S. government in support of their belief that the U.S. government is purposely exceeding its Constitutional authority.” But that was the same belief that many Biden voters had regarding the Trump administration. Does the definition of extremism depend solely on which party captured the White House? The Biden report writers were spooked by the existence of militia groups and flirt with the fantasy of outlawing them across the land. The report promises to explore “how to make better use of laws that already exist in all fifty states prohibiting certain private ‘militia’ activity, including … state statutes prohibiting groups of people from organizing as private military units without the authorization of the state government, and state statutes that criminalize certain paramilitary activity.” Most of the private militia groups are guilty of nothing more than bluster and braggadocio. Besides, many of them are already overstocked with government informants who are counting on Uncle Sam for regular paychecks. Some politicians and pundits might like to see a new federal crime that labels any meeting of more than two gun owners as an illegal conspiracy. The Biden report promises that the FBI and DHS will soon be releasing “a new edition of the Federal Government’s Mobilization Indicators booklet that will include for the first time potential indicators of domestic terrorism–related mobilization.” Will this latest publication be as boneheaded as the similar 2014 report by the National Counterterrorism Center entitled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts”? The new Red Guard As the Intercept summarized, that report “suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as ‘Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,’ … and ‘Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity)’ … to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.” The report recommended judging families by their level of “Parent-Child Bonding” and rating localities on the basis in part of the “presence of ideologues or recruiters.” Former FBI agent Mike German commented, “The idea that the federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical, and social-service employees to rate the communities, individuals, and families they serve for their potential to become terrorists is abhorrent on its face.” Biden’s “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism” report also declared that “enhancing faith in American democracy” requires “finding ways to counter the influence and impact of dangerous conspiracy theories.” In recent decades, conspiracy theories have multiplied almost as fast as government lies and cover-ups. While many allegations have been ludicrously far-fetched, the political establishment and media routinely attach the “conspiracy theory” label to any challenge to their dominance. According to Cass Sunstein, Harvard Law professor and Oba- ma’s regulatory czar, a conspiracy theory is “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.” Reasonable citizens are supposed to presume that government creates trillions of pages of new secrets each year for their own good, not to hide anything from the public. “Conspiracy theory” is a magic phrase that expunges all previous federal abuses. Many liberals who invoke the phrase also ritually quote a 1965 book by former communist Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Hofstadter portrayed distrust of government as a proxy for mental illness, a paradigm that makes the character of critics more important than the conduct of government agencies. For Hofstadter, it was a self-evident truth that government was trustworthy because American politics had “a kind of professional code … embodying the practical wisdom of generations of politicians.” The rise of conspiracy theories In the early 1960s, conspiracy theories were practically a non-issue because 75 percent of Americans trusted the federal government. Such credulity did not survive the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Seven days after Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson created a commission (later known as the Warren Commission) to suppress controversy about the killing. Johnson browbeat the commission members into speedily issuing a report rubber-stamping the “crazed lone gunman” version of the assassination. House Minority Leader Gerald Ford, a member of the commission, revised the final staff report to change the location of where the bullet entered Kennedy’s body, thereby salvaging the so-called “magic bullet” theory. After the Warren Commission findings were ridiculed as a whitewash, Johnson ordered the FBI to conduct wiretaps on the report’s critics. To protect the official story, the commission sealed key records for 75 years. Truth would out only after all the people involved in any coverup had gotten their pensions and died. The controversy surrounding the Warren Commission spurred the CIA to formally attack the notion of conspiracy theories. In a 1967 alert to its overseas stations and bases, the CIA declared that the fact that almost half of Americans did not believe Oswald acted alone “is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization” and endangers “the whole reputation of the American government.” The memo instructed recipients to “employ propaganda assets” and exploit “friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors), pointing out … parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by Communist propagandists.” The ultimate proof of the government’s innocence: “Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States.” The New York Times, which exposed the CIA memo in 1977, noted that the CIA “mustered its propaganda machinery to support an issue of far more concern to Americans, and to the C.I.A. itself, than to citizens of other countries.” According to historian Lance deHaven-Smith, author of Conspiracy Theory in America, “The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited … with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.” In 2014, the CIA released a heavily-redacted report admitting that it had been “complicit” in a JFK “cover-up” by withholding “incendiary” information from the Warren Commission. The CIA successfully concealed a wide range of assassinations and foreign coups it conducted until congressional investigations in the mid-1970s blew the whistle. “Conspiracy theory” allegations sometimes merely expose the naivete of official scorekeepers. In April 2016, Chapman University surveyed Americans and announced that “the most prevalent conspiracy theory in the United States is that the government is concealing information about the 9/11 attacks with slightly over half of Americans holding that belief.” That survey did not ask whether people believed the World Trade Centers were blown up by an inside job or whether President George W. Bush secretly masterminded the attacks. Instead, folks were simply asked whether “government is concealing information” about the attacks. Only a village idiot, college professor, or editorial writer would presume the government had come clean. Three months after the Chapman University survey was conducted, the Obama administration finally released 28 pages of a 2003 congressional report that revealed that Saudi government officials had directly financed some of the 9/11 hijackers in America. That disclosure shattered the storyline carefully constructed by the Bush administration, the 9/11 Commission, and legions of media accomplices. (Lawsuits continue in federal court seeking to force the U.S. government to disclose more information regarding the Saudi government role in the attacks.) Conspiracy theories a tool for control “Conspiracy theory” is often a flag of convenience for the political-media elite. In 2018, the New York Times asserted that Trump’s use of the term “Deep State” and similar rhetoric “fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media.” However, after allegations by anonymous government officials spurred Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, New York Times columnist James Stewart cheered, “There is a Deep State, there is a bureaucracy in our country who has pledged to respect the Constitution, respect the rule of law…. They work for the American people.” New York Times editorial writer Michelle Cottle proclaimed, “The deep state is alive and well” and hailed it as “a collection of patriotic public servants.” Almost immediately after its existence was no longer denied, the Deep State became the incarnation of virtue in Washington. After Biden was elected, references to the “Deep State” were once again labeled paranoid ravings. Much of the establishment rage at “conspiracy theories” has been driven by the notion that rulers are entitled to intellectual passive obedience. The same lèse-majesté mindset has been widely adopted to make a muddle of American history. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the court historian for President John F. Kennedy and a revered liberal intellectual, declared in 2004, “Historians today conclude that the colonists were driven to revolt in 1776 because of a false conviction that they faced a British conspiracy to destroy their freedom.” What the hell is wrong with “historians today”?! Was the British imposition of martial law, confiscation of firearms, military blockades, suspension of habeas corpus, and censorship simply a deranged fantasy of Thomas Jefferson? The notion that the British would never conspire to destroy freedom would play poorly in Dublin, where the Irish suffered centuries of brutal British oppression. Why should anyone trust academics who were blind to British threats in the 1770s to accurately judge the danger that today’s politicians pose to Americans’ liberty? How does the Biden administration intend to fight “conspiracy theories?” The Biden terrorism report called for “enhancing faith in government” by “accelerating work to contend with an information environment that challenges healthy democratic discourse.” Will Biden’s team rely on the “solution” suggested by Cass Sunstein: “cognitive infiltration of extremist groups” by government agents and informants to “undermine” them from within? Does the Biden administration also propose banning Americans from learning anything from the history of prior federal debacles? Nixon White House aide Tom Charles Huston explained that the FBI’s COINTELPRO program continually stretched its target list “from the kid with a bomb to the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with the picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate. And you just keep going down the line.” A 1976 Senate report on COINTELPRO demanded assurances that a federal agency would never again “be permitted to conduct a secret war against those citizens it considers threats, to the established order.” Actually, the FBI and other agencies have continued secretly warring against “threats,” and legions of informants are likely busy “cognitively infiltrating” at this moment. Permitting politicians to blacklist any ideas they disapprove won’t “restore faith in democracy.” Extremism has always been a flag of political convenience, and the Biden team, the FBI, and their media allies will fan fears to sanctify new government crackdowns. But what if government is the most dangerous extremist of them all? Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 22:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 28th, 2021

Greenwald: The Cynical And Dangerous Weaponization Of The "White Supremacist" Label

Greenwald: The Cynical And Dangerous Weaponization Of The "White Supremacist" Label Authored by Glenn Greenwald via greenwald.substack.com, Within hours of the August 25, 2020, shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin — not days, but hours — it was decreed as unquestioned fact in mainstream political and media circles that the shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, was a "white supremacist.” Over the next fifteen months, up to and including his acquittal by a jury of his peers on all charges, this label was applied to him more times than one can count by corporate media outlets as though it were proven fact. Indeed, that Rittenhouse was a "white supremacist” was deemed so unquestionably true that questioning it was cast as evidence of one's own racist inclinations (defending a white supremacist). A protester with a sign is seen outside of the Hall of Justice during the Reject the Verdict rally on November 20, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. Demonstrators from Black Lives Matter Louisville and Louisville 'Showing Up for Racial Justice' held the rally to refute the recent acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who claimed self defense after killing two protesters and injuring another on August 25, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images) Yet all along, there was never any substantial evidence, let alone convincing proof, that it was true. This fact is, or at least should be, an extraordinary, even scandalous, event: a 17-year-old was widely vilified as being a white supremacist by a union of national media and major politicians despite there being no evidence to support the accusation. Yet it took his acquittal by a jury who heard all the evidence and testimony for parts of the corporate press to finally summon the courage to point out that what had been Gospel about Rittenhouse for the last fifteen months was, in fact, utterly baseless. A Washington Post news article was published late last week that was designed to chide "both sides” for exploiting the Rittenhouse case for their own purposes while failing to adhere carefully to actual facts. Ever since the shootings in Kenosha, they lamented, "Kyle Rittenhouse has been a human canvas onto which the nation’s political divisions were mapped.” In attempting to set the record straight, the Post article contained this amazing admission: As conservatives coalesced around the idea of Rittenhouse as a blameless defender of law and order, many on the left just as quickly cast him as the embodiment of the far-right threat. Despite a lack of evidence, hundreds of social media posts immediately pinned Rittenhouse with extremist labels: white supremacist, self-styled militia member, a “boogaloo boy” seeking violent revolution, or part of the misogynistic “incel” movement.  “On the left he’s become a symbol of white supremacy that isn’t being held accountable in the United States today,” said Becca Lewis, a researcher of far-right movements and a doctoral candidate at Stanford University. “You see him getting conflated with a lot of the police officers who’ve shot unarmed Black men and with Trump himself and all these other things. On both sides, he’s become a symbol much bigger than himself.” Soon after the shootings, then-candidate Joe Biden told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Rittenhouse was allegedly part of a militia group in Illinois. In the next sentence, Biden segued to criticism of Trump and hate groups: “Have you ever heard this president say one negative thing about white supremacists? Valuable though this rather belated admission is, there were two grand ironies about this passage. The first is that The Post itself was one of the newspapers which published multiple articles and columns applying this evidence-free "white supremacist" label to Rittenhouse. Indeed, four days after this admission by The Post's newsroom, their opinion editors published an op-ed by Robert Jones that flatly asserted the very same accusation which The Post itself says is bereft of evidence: “Despite his boyish white frat boy appearance, there was plenty of evidence of Rittenhouse’s deeper white supremacist orientation.” In other words, Post editors approved publication of grave accusations which, just four days earlier, their own newsroom explicitly stated lacked evidence. The second irony is that while the Post article lamented everyone else's carelessness with the facts of this case, the publication itself — while purporting to fact-check the rest of the world — affirmed one of the most common falsehoods: namely, that Rittenhouse carried a gun across state lines. The article thus now carries this correction at the top: “An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Kyle Rittenhouse brought his AR-15 across state lines. He has testified that he picked up the weapon from a friend’s house in Wisconsin. This article has been corrected.” It continues to be staggering how media outlets which purport to explain the Rittenhouse case get caught over and over spreading utter falsehoods about the most basic facts of the case, proving they did not watch the trial or learn much about what happened beyond what they heard in passing from like-minded liberals on Twitter. There is simply no way to have paid close attention to this case, let alone have watched the trial, and believe that he carried a gun across state lines, yet this false assertion made it past numerous Post reporters, editors and fact-checkers purporting to "correct the record” about this case. Yet again, we find that the same news outlets which love to accuse others of “disinformation” — and want the internet censored in the name of stopping it — frequently pontificate on topics about which they know nothing, without the slightest concern for whether or not it is true. Those who continue to condemn Rittenhouse as a white supremacist — including the author of The Post op-ed published four days after the paper concluded the accusation was baseless — typically point to his appearance at a bar in January, 2021, for a photo alongside members of the Proud Boys in which he was photographed making the “okay” sign gesture. That once-common gesture, according to USA Today, “has become a symbol used by white supremacists.” Rittenhouse insists that the appearance was arranged by his right-wing attorneys Lin Wood and John Pierce — whom he quickly fired and accused of exploiting him for fund-raising purposes — and that he had no idea that the people with whom he was posting for a photo were Proud Boys members ("I thought they were just a bunch of, like, construction dudes based on how they looked”), nor had he ever heard that the “OK” sign was a symbol of "white power.” Rittenhouse's denial about this once-benign gesture seems shocking to people who spend all their days drowning in highly politicized Twitter discourse — where such a claim is treated as common knowledge — but is completely believable for the vast majority of Americans who do not. In fact, the whole point of the adolescent 4chan hoax was to convert one of the most common and benign gestures into a symbol of white power so that anyone making it would be suspect. As The New York Times recounted, the gesture has long been “used for several purposes in sign languages, and in yoga as a symbol to demonstrate inner perfection. It figures in an innocuous made-you-look game. Most of all, it has been commonly used for generations to signal 'O.K.,’ or all is well.” But whatever one chooses to believe about that episode is irrelevant to whether these immediate declarations of Rittenhouse's "white supremacy” were valid. That bar appearance took place in January, 2021 — five months after the Kenosha shootings. Yet Rittenhouse was instantly declared to be a "white supremacist” — and by “instantly,” I mean: within hours of the shooting. “A 17 year old white supremacist domestic terrorist drove across state lines, armed with an AR 15,” was how Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) described Rittenhouse the next day in a mega-viral tweet; her tweet consecrated not only this "white supremacist” accusation which persisted for months, but also affirmed the falsehood that he crossed state lines with an AR-15. It does not require an advanced degree in physics to understand that his posing for a photo in that bar with Proud Boys members, flashing the OK sign, five months later in January, 2020, could not serve as a rational evidentiary basis for Rep. Pressley's accusation the day after the shootings that he was a "white supremacist,” nor could it serve as the justification for five consecutive months of national media outlets accusing him of the same. Unless his accusers had the power to see into the future, they branded him a white supremacist with no basis whatsoever — or, as The Post put it this week, “despite a lack of evidence.” A 17 year old white supremacist domestic terrorist drove across state lines, armed with an AR 15. He shot and killed 2 people who had assembled to affirm the value, dignity, and worth of Black lives. Fix your damn headlines. — Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) August 27, 2020 The only other “evidence” ever cited to support the rather grave accusation that this 17-year-old is a "white supremacist” were social media postings of his in which he expressed positive sentiments toward the police and then-President Trump, including with the phrase "Blue Lives Matter." That was all that existed — the entirety of the case — that led the most powerful media outlets and politicians to stamp on this adolescent's forehead the gravest accusation one can face in American culture. This is really the heart of the matter: this episode vividly demonstrates how cheapened and emptied and cynically wielded this "white supremacist" slogan has become. The oft-implicit but sometimes-explicit premise in liberal discourse is that everyone who deviates in any way from liberal dogma is a white supremacist by definition. Within this rubric, perhaps the most decisive "evidence" that one is a white supremacist is that one supports the Republican Party and former President Trump — i.e., that half of the voting electorate in the U.S. at least are white supremacists. A subsidiary assumption is that anyone who views the police as a necessary, positive force in U.S. society is inherently guilty of racism (it is fine to revere federal policing agencies such as the FBI and other federal security forces such as the CIA, as most Democrats do; the hallmark of a white supremacist is someone who believes that the local police — the ones who show up when citizens call 911 — is a generally positive rather than negative force in society). An illustration of how casually and recklessly this accusation is tossed around occurred last year, shortly after the George Floyd killing, when my long-time friend and colleague, Intercept journalist Lee Fang, was widely vilified as a racist and white supremacist, first by his own Intercept colleague, journalist Akela Lacy, and then — in one of the most stunningly mindless acts of herd behavior — by literally hundreds if not thousands of members of the national press, including many who barely knew who Lee was but nonetheless were content to echo the accusation (that Lee is himself not white is, of course, not an impediment, not even a speed bump, on the road to castigating him as a modern-day KKK adherent). As Matt Taibbi wrote in disgust about this shameful media episode: [Lacy's accustory] tweet received tens of thousands of likes and responses along the lines of, “Lee Fang has been like this for years, but the current moment only makes his anti-Blackness more glaring,” and “Lee Fang spouting racist bullshit it must be a day ending in day.” A significant number of Fang’s co-workers, nearly all white, as well as reporters from other major news organizations like the New York Times and MSNBC and political activists (one former Elizabeth Warren staffer tweeted, “Get him!”), issued likes and messages of support for the notion that Fang was a racist. Writing in New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait documented that “Lacy called him racist in a pair of tweets, the first of which alone received more than 30,000 likes and 5,000 retweets.” What was the evidence justifying Lee Fang's conviction by mob justice of these charges? He (like Rittenhouse) has expressed the view that police, despite needing reforms, are largely a positive presence in protecting innocent people from violent crime; he suggested violence harms rather than helps social justice causes; and he published a video interview he conducted of a young BLM supporter complaining that many liberals only care when white police officers kill black people but not when black people in his neighborhood are killed by anyone who is not white. Now-deleted tweets from Intercept reporter Akela Lacy, accusing her Intercept colleague Lee Fang of being a racist, June 3, 2020. That such banal and commonly held views are woefully insufficient to justify the reputation-destroying accusation that someone is a white supremacist should be too self-evident to require any explanation. But in case such an explanation is required, consider that polls continually and reliably show that the pro-police sentiments of the type that caused Rittenhouse, Fang, and so many others to be vilified by liberal elites as "white supremacists” are held not only by a majority of Americans, but by a majority of black and brown Americans, the very people on whose behalf these elite accusers purport to speak. For years, polling data has shown that the communities which want at least the same level of policing if not more are communities composed primarily of Black, Brown and poor people. It is not hard to understand why. If the police are defunded or radically reduced, rich people will simply hire private security (even more than they already employ for their homes, neighborhoods and persons), and any resulting crime increases will fall most heavily on poorer communities. Thus, polling data reliably shows that it is these communities that want either the same level of policing or more — the exact view which, if you express, will result in guardians of elite liberal discourse declaring you to be a "white supremacist.” Indeed — according to one Gallup poll taken in the wake of the George Floyd killing, when anti-police sentiment was at its peak — the groups that most want a greater police presence in their communities are Black and Latino citizens: In the wake of anger over the Floyd and Jacob Blake cases, several large liberal cities succeeded in placing referendums on the ballot for this year that proposed major defunding or restructuring of local police. They failed in almost all cases, including ones with large Black populations such as Minneapolis, where Floyd died, precisely because non-white voters rejected it. In other words, expressing the same views about policing that large numbers of Black residents hold somehow subjects one to accusations of "white supremacy” in the dominant elite liberal discourse. What all of this demonstrates is that insult terms like "white supremacist” and "racist” and "white nationalist” have lost any fixed meaning. They are instead being trivialized and degraded into little more than discourse toys to be tossed around for fun and reputation-destruction by liberals, who believe they have ascended to a place of such elevated racial enlightenment that they are now the sole and exclusive owners of these terms and thus free to hurl them in whatever manner they please. It is not an overstatement to observe that in elite liberal discourse, there are literally no evidentiary requirements that must be fulfilled before one is free to malign political adversaries with those accusatory terms. That is why editors at The Washington Post published an op-ed proclaiming Rittenhouse was plagued by “deeper white supremacist orientation” just four days after its news division explicitly concluded that such an accusation "lacks evidence” — because it it permissible to accuse people of racism and white supremacy without any evidence needed. It is inherently disturbing and destructive any time a person is publicly branded as something for which there is no evidence. That is intrinsically something we should collectively abhor. But this growing trend in liberal discourse is not just ethically repellent but dangerous. By so flagrantly cheapening and exploiting the "white supremacist” accusation from what it should be (a potent weapon deployed to stigmatize and ostracize actual racists) into something far more tawdry (a plaything used by Democrats to demean and destroy their enemies whenever the mood strikes), its cynical abusers are draining the term of all of its vibrancy, potency and force, so that when it is needed, for actual racists, people will have tuned it out, knowing that is used deceitfully, recklessly and for cheap entertainment. A similar dynamic emerged with accusations of anti-semitism and the weaponization of it to demonize criticisms of Israel. It is, of course, true that some criticisms of the Israeli government are partially grounded or even largely motivated by anti-semitism — just as it is true that some championing of the local police or support for Trump grows out of racist sentiments. But the converse is just as true: one can vehemently criticize the actions of the Israeli government the same as any other government without being driven by an iota of anti-semitism (indeed, many of the most vocal critics of Israel are proudly Jewish), in exactly the same way as one can be highly supportive of the local police or Donald Trump without an iota of racism (a proposition that should need no proof, but is nonetheless highlighted by the uncomfortable fact that growing number of non-whites supporting both Trump and the police). But the cynical, manipulative weaponization of anti-semitism accusations to smear all critics of Israel has rendered the accusation far weaker and more easily dismissible than it once was — exactly as is now happening to the accusatory terms "white supremacist” and “white nationalist” and "racist,” which are being increasingly understood, validly so, not as a grave and sincere condemnation but a cheap tactic to be applied recklessly, for the tawdry entertainment one derives from public rituals of reputation-destruction. BBC, Nov. 22, 2020 Ever since his acquittal, Rittenhouse has made a series of public statements directly at odds with the dark, hateful image constructed of him by the national press over the last sixteen months, while he was forced to remain silent by the charges he faced. He has professed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, argued that the U.S. is plagued by structural racism, and suggested that he would have suffered a worse fate if he had been Black. The same people who are smugly certain that his entire character and soul was permanently captured by that fleeting moment in a bar when he was seventeen and flashed an “okay" symbol — and who are certain that his denials that he knew what it meant or with whom he was posing are false — have, of course, scoffed at these recent statements of his as self-serving and insincere, even though they offer far greater insight into Rittenhouse's actual views on questions of race than anything thus far presented. But that is the point. The political and media faction that casually and recklessly brands people as "white supremacists” the way normal people utter “excuse me” while navigating a large crowd have no interest at all in whether the accusation is true. They are devoted to reducing everyone whose political ideology diverges from their own to their worst possible moment — no matter how long ago it happened or how unrepresentative of their lives it is — in order to derive the most ungenerous and destructive meaning from it. It is a movement that is at once driven by rigorous rules resulting in righteous decrees of sin and sweeping denunciations, yet completely bereft of the possibility of grace or redemption. And its most cherished weapon is accusing anyone who they decide is an enemy or even just an adversary of being a white supremacist, a white nationalist, a racist — to the point where these terms now sound like reflexively recited daily prayer slogans than anything one needs to take seriously or which has the possibility to engage on the merits. For fifteen months, it was gospel in political and media circles that Kyle Rittenhouse was a "white supremacist terrorist” only for The Washington Post to suddenly announce that this claim persisted “despite a lack of evidence.” But that lack of evidence really does not matter, which is why that announcement by The Post received so little notice. Under the rules of this rotted discourse, evidence is not a requirement to affirm this accusation. All that is needed is an intuition, a tingly sensation, and — above all else — the realization that hurling the accusation will yield some personal or political advantage. Like all cynical weapons, it worked for awhile, but is rapidly running out of efficacy as its manipulative usage becomes more and more visible. The term is still needed as a tool to fight actual racism, but those who most vocally and flamboyantly proclaim themselves solemnly devoted to that cause have rendered that tool virtually useless, thanks to their self-interested misuse and abuse of it. To support the independent journalism we are doing here, please subscribe, obtain a gift subscription for others and/or share the article Tyler Durden Sat, 11/27/2021 - 20:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 27th, 2021

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic The Friday after thanksgiving is called black Friday because that's when retailers finally turn profitable for the year. Not so much for market, however, because this morning it's red as far as the eye can see. The culprit: the same one we discussed late last night - the emergence of a new coronavirus strain detected in South Africa, known as B.1.1.529, which reportedly carries an "extremely high number" of mutations and is “clearly very different” from previous incarnations, which may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defenses according to South African scientists, and soon, Anthony Fauci. British authorities think it is the most significant variant to date and have hurried to impose travel restrictions on southern Africa, as did Japan, the Czech Republic and Italy on Friday. The European Union also said it aimed to halt air travel from the region. "Markets have been quite complacent about the pandemic for a while, partly because economies have been able to withstand the impact of selective lockdown measures. But we can see from the new emergency brakes on air travel that there will be ramifications for the price of oil," said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa. As a result, what was initially just a 1% drop in US index futures, has since escalated to a plunge of as much as 2% with eminis dropping the most since September, at one point dropping below 4,600 after closing on Wednesday above 4,700 as a post-Thanksgiving selloff spread across global markets amid mounting concerns the new B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant - which today will be officially called by the Greek lettter Nu - could derail the global economic recovery.  Russell 2000 contracts sank as much as 5.4%. Technology shares may be caught in the net too as Nasdaq 100 futures slid. The VIX increased as much as 9.4 vols to 28, it's biggest jump since January. It was last seen up 7.4 points, or the biggest increase since February. Adding to the pain, there is nothing on today's macro calendar and the US market closes early which will reduce already dismal liquidity even more, exacerbating some of the moves throughout the session. Headlines are likely to center on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically, as well as which countries "find" the Nu variant. Amid the panicked flight to safety, 10Y TSY yields tumbled as traders slashed bets on monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve (just hours after Goldman predicted that the Fed would double the pace of its taper and hike 3 times in 2022, oops) ... ... as did oil amid fears new covid lockdowns will lead to a collapse in crude demand (they will also certainly force OPEC+ to put on pause their plans to keep hiking output by 400K every month). Paradoxically, even cryptos are tumbling, which is surprising since even the dumbest algos should realize by now that a new covid outbreak means more dovish central banks, no tightening, and if nothing else, more QE and more liquidity which is precisely what cryptos need to break out to new all time highs. Cruise ship operator Carnival slumped 9.1% in premarket trading and Boeing slid 5.8% as travel companies tumbled worldwide. Stay-at-home stocks such as Zoom Video rallied.  Didi Global shares fell after Chinese regulators reportedly asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Here are some of the other big premarket movers: Airlines and other travel stocks slumped in premarket trading on growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant identified in southern Africa. The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from several countries in the area and the U.K. will temporarily ban flights from the region. United Airlines (UAL US) fell 8.9%, Delta Air (DAL US) -7.9%, American Airlines (AAL US) -6.7%; cruiseline-operator Carnival (CCL US) -12%; hotelier Marriott (MAR US) -6.1%; lodging company Airbnb (ABNB US) -6.9%. Stay-at-home stocks that benefit from higher demand in lockdowns rose in premarket, with Zoom Video (ZM US) gaining 8.5% and fitness equipment group Peloton (PTON US) +4.7%. Vaccine stocks surged in premarket, while Pfizer and BioNTech got an added boost after their coronavirus shot won European Union backing for expanded use in children. Moderna (MRNA US) rose 8.8%, Novavax (NVAX US) +6.2%, Pfizer (PFE US) +5.1%, BioNTech (BNTX US) +6.4%. Small biotech stocks gained in premarket as investors sought havens. Ocugen (OCGN US) added 22%, Vir Biotechnology (VIR US) +7.8%, Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE US) +5%. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks fell as Bitcoin dropped as investors dumped risk assets. Marathon Digital (MARA US) declined 9%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) -8.8%, Coinbase (COIN US) -4.6%. Didi Global (DIDI US) declined 6% in premarket after Chinese regulators were said to have asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Selecta Biosciences (SELB US) dropped 13% in Wednesday’s postmarket ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving closure, after saying the U.S. FDA placed a clinical hold on a trial. Quotient Technology (QUOT US) gained 3.9% in Wednesday’s postmarket on news that a board member bought $150,000 of shares. What happens next will matter and so, all eyes are on the opening bell for the U.S. markets, set to return from the holiday for a shortened trading session. Tumbling futures and a soaring VIX signaled that the rout in Asia and Europe won’t spare New York equities, while lack of liquidity will only make the pain worse. The Japanese yen emerged as the main haven currency of the day, with the dollar languishing. “Every trader in New York will be rushing to the office now,” said Salm-Salm & Partner portfolio manager Frederik Hildner, adding that news of the new variant could mean the end of the inflation and tapering debate. The worsening pandemic poses a dilemma for central banks that are preparing to tighten monetary policy to curb elevated price pressures, according to Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “It’s terrible news,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, said in emailed comments. “The new Covid variant could hit the economic recovery, but this time, the central banks won’t have enough margin to act. They can’t fight inflation and boost growth at the same time. They have to choose.” “We now have a new Covid variant that’s ‘very’ different from the ones we knew so far, a rising inflation, and a market bubble,” she said.  “The only encouraging news is the easing oil prices, which could tame the inflationary pressures and give more time to the central banks before pulling back support.” In the meantime, the World Health Organization and scientists in South Africa were said to be working “at lightning speed” to ascertain how quickly the B.1.1.529 variant can spread and whether it’s resistant to vaccines. The new threat adds to the wall of worry investors are already contending with in the form of elevated inflation, monetary tightening and slowing growth. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index headed for the biggest drop in 13 months plunging 2.7%; travel and banking industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down as much as 3.7%, the biggest intraday drop since June 2020. Airbus slumped 8.6% in Paris and British Airways owner IAG tumbled 12% in London, while food-delivery stocks gained.  Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Stay-at-home stocks and Covid testing firms such as TeamViewer and DiaSorin are among the biggest gainers as worries over a new Covid variant send the Stoxx 600 tumbling on lockdown fears TeamViewer and DiaSorin rise as much as 6% and 7%, respectively On the down side, travel and leisure stocks plunge, with the likes of IAG, Lufthansa and Carnival posting double- digit falls IAG drops as much as 21% Software AG shares rise as much as 9.5% after Bloomberg reported that the firm is exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, with Morgan Stanley saying the company’s biggest headwinds are behind it. Evolution gains as much as 4.6%, recouping part of Thursday’s 16% plunge, with Bank of America saying the share price’s “crazy time” amounts to a good buying opportunity. Skistar rises as much as 3.7%, bucking steep declines for travel and leisure stocks, after Handelsbanken upgraded the stock, saying bookings for the Scandinavian ski resort operator are “set to surge.” Telecom Italia climbs as much as 2.8% following a Bloomberg report that private equity firms KKR and CVC are considering teaming up on a bid for the company. ING Groep falls as much as 11% after Goldman Sachs analyst Jean-Francois Neuez cut his recommendation to neutral from buy. Getlink drops as much as 6% as French fishermen start protests aimed at stepping up pressure on the U.K. in a post-Brexit fishing dispute. Earlier in the session, MSCI's index of Asian shares outside Japan fell 2.2%, its sharpest drop since August. Casino and beverage shares were hammered in Hong Kong, while travel stocks dropped in Sydney and Tokyo. Japan's Nikkei skidded 2.5% and S&P 500 futures were last down 1.8%. Giles Coghlan, chief currency analyst at HYCM, a brokerage, said the closure of the U.S. market for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday had exacerbated moves. "We need to see how transmissible this variant is, is it able to evade the vaccines - this is crucial," Coghlan said. "I expect this story to drag on for a few days until scientists have a better understanding of it." Indian stocks plunged as the detection of a new coronavirus strain rattled investor sentiment globally, raising concerns over a likely setback to the nascent economic recovery.  The S&P BSE Sensex lost 2.9%, the most since mid-April, to 57,107.15 in Mumbai, taking its loss this week to 4.2%, the biggest weekly drop since January. The NSE Nifty 50 Index declined by a similar magnitude on Friday. Reliance Industries was the biggest drag on both measures and declined 3.2%.  “There is fear of this new variant spreading to other countries which might again derail the global economy,” said Hemang Jani, head of equity strategy at Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd.   Of the 30 shares in the Sensex index, 26 fell and 4 gained. All but one of 19 sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. retreated, led by a index of realty companies. The S&P BSE Healthcare index was the only sub-index to gain, surging 1.2%. While researchers are yet to determine whether the new virus variant is more transmissible or lethal than previous ones, authorities around the world have been quick to act. The European Union, U.K., Israel, and Singapore placed emergency curbs on passengers from South Africa and the surrounding region. Travel stocks were among the hardest hit. InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. fell 8.9%, Spicejet Ltd. slipped 6.7% and Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. plunged 11.2%, the most since March 2020.  “Nervousness on the new variant of coronavirus and expectations of the U.S. Fed increasing the pace of tapering have led to recent market weakness,” Amit Gupta, fund manager for portfolio management services at ICICI Securities Ltd. said. “This trend may take some time to recover as the WHO meeting on the new mutant variant impact and hospitalization rates in US and Europe will be watched by the market very closely.” Crude oil to emerging markets completed this picture of mayhem. In rates, fixed income was firmly bid as Treasuries extended their advance led by the belly of the curve, outperforming bunds, while money markets pared rate-hike bets amid fears that a new coronavirus strain may spread globally, slowing economic growth. Cash Treasuries outperformed, richening 12-14bps across the short end, with Thursday’s closure exacerbating the optics. As shown above, 10Y Treasury yields shed as much as 10 basis points while the Japanese yen jumped the most since investors’ March 2020 rush for safety. Yields across the curve are lower by more than 8bp at long end, 13bp-15bp out to the 7-year point, moves that if sustained would be the largest since at least March 2020 and in some cases since 2009. Short-term interest rate futures downgraded the odds of Fed rate increases. Gilts richened 10-11bps across the curve, outperforming bunds by 4-5bps. Peripheral and semi-core spreads widen. In FX, JPY and CHF top the G-10 scoreboard with havens typically bid. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed after earlier touching a fresh cycle high, and the greenback was mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers as the yen and the Swiss franc led gains while the Canadian dollar and Norwegian krone were the worst performers as commodity prices plunged. Traders pushed back the timing of a 25-basis-point rate increase by the Federal Reserve to July from June, with only one further hike expected for the remainder of 2022. It’s a similar story in the U.K. where the Bank of England is now expected to tighten policy in February instead of next month. Wagers that the ECB will raise its deposit rate by the end of next year have also been slashed, with only a six basis-point increase priced in, half of that seen earlier this week. The European Union is proposing to follow the U.K. in halting air travel from southern Africa after the new Covid-19 variant was identified there. The yen is at the epicenter of skyrocketing currency volatility as the new virus variant shakes markets. The cost of hedging against swings in the Japanese currency over the next week, which captures the release of the next U.S. payrolls report, is the most expensive in more than a year. In commodities, crude futures are hit hard. WTI drops over 7% before finding support near $73, Brent drops over 5% before recovering near $78. Spot gold grinds higher, adding $21 to trade near $1,809/oz. Base metals are sharply offered with much of the complex off as much as 3%. Looking at the otherwise quiet day ahead, data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.9% to 4,607.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 2.8% to 468.04 MXAP down 1.8% to 193.33 MXAPJ down 2.2% to 628.97 Nikkei down 2.5% to 28,751.62 Topix down 2.0% to 1,984.98 Hang Seng Index down 2.7% to 24,080.52 Shanghai Composite down 0.6% to 3,564.09 Sensex down 2.7% to 57,234.83 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.7% to 7,279.35 Kospi down 1.5% to 2,936.44 Brent Futures down 5.8% to $77.46/bbl Gold spot up 0.9% to $1,805.13 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.33% to 96.46 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro up 0.4% to $1.1259 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from southern Africa over growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant that’s spreading there, as the U.K. said it will also temporarily ban flights from the region Those close to the Kremlin say the Russian president doesn’t want to start another war in Ukraine. Still, he must show he’s ready to fight if necessary in order to stop what he sees as an existential security threat: the creeping expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a country that for centuries had been part of Russia Bitcoin tumbled 20% from record highs notched earlier this month as a new variant of the coronavirus spurred traders to dump risk assets across the globe Germany’s Greens tapped their two co- leaders to run the foreign ministry and take charge of an influential portfolio overseeing economy and climate protection in the country’s next government under Social Democrat Olaf Scholz A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets declined and US equity futures were also on the backfoot on reopen from the prior day’s Thanksgiving lull with markets spooked by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa that was first detected in Botswana. The new variant showed a high number of mutations and was said to be the most evolved strain ever which spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and is prompting both the UK and Israel to halt flights from several African nations. ASX 200 (-1.7%) was negative with heavy losses in energy and broad underperformance in cyclicals leading the downturn across all sectors, while the much better than expected Australian Retail Sales data was largely ignored. Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) underperformed and gave up the 29k status as selling was exacerbated by detrimental currency inflows and with SoftBank shares among the worst hit on reports that China is said to have asked Didi to delist from US exchanges on security fears, which doesn't bode well for SoftBank given that its Vision Fund is the top shareholder in the Chinese ride hailing group with a stake of more than 20%. Hang Seng (-2.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.7%) conformed to the risk aversion with the mood not helped by ongoing geopolitical concerns after a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson noted they are ready to crush Taiwan independence bid "at any time”, while China also said it opposes US sanctions on its companies and will take all necessary measures to firmly defend the rights of Chinese companies. Beijing interference further contributed to the headwinds amid the request by China for Didi to delist from US which reports stated regulators could backtrack on and with Tencent subdued after some Chinese state-run companies restricted the use of Tencent's messaging app. Top Asian News Stocks in Asia Set for Worst Day Since March on Virus Woes Mizuho CEO Steps Down After Regulator Hit on System Issues Meituan 3Q Revenue Meets Estimates Japan’s Kishida Delivers $316 billion Extra Budget for Recovery European equities are trading markedly lower (Stoxx 600 -2.9%) with losses in the Stoxx 600 extending to 3.8% WTD. Sentiment throughout the week has been hampered by various lockdown measures imposed across the region with the latest leg lower accelerated by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa. The new variant has shown a high number of mutations and is said to be the most evolved strain so far. This has spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and has prompted multiple nations to halt flights from several African nations.The handover from the overnight session was an equally downbeat one with the Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) dealt a hammer blow by the risk environment and unfavourable currency flows. Stateside, futures are lower across the board with the RTY the clear laggard with losses of 4.2% compared to the ES -1.8%, whilst the tech-heavy NQ is faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1.6%. Note, early closures in the US and subsequent liquidity conditions could exacerbate some of the moves throughout the session. With the macro calendar light, focus for the session is likely to centre on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically. Any further clarity on the spread of the variant and its potential to evade vaccines will be of great interest to the market and likely be the main driving force of price action today. Sectors in Europe are lower across the board with the Stoxx 600 Banking (-5.1%) sector bottom of the pile amid the declines seen in global bond yields as markets scale back expectations of central bank tightening (e.g. pricing now assigns a 63% chance of a 15bps hike by the BoE next month vs. 93% a week ago). Oil & Gas names (-4.8%) are suffering on account of the declines in the crude space with WTI crude in freefall with losses of 6.7% given the potential impact of travel restrictions on demand. Travel restrictions on South Africa (from UK, Israel, EU et al) and the potential for further announcements has crushed the Travel & Leisure sector (-5.7%) with airline names dealt a hammer blow; IAG (-13.5%), easyJet (-11%), Deutsche Lufthansa (-12%), Air France (-9.5%). Elsewhere, there are a whole raft of other laggards which are very much in-fitting with the March 2020 playbook but there are simply too many to list for the purpose of this report. Defensives and Tech are faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1% and 1.9% respectively. Finally, for anyone wanting some positivity from today’s session, the potential for further lockdowns has proved to be beneficial for the likes of HelloFresh (+3.2%), Ocado (+2.1%) and Delivery Hero (+1.9%). Top European News Airlines Skid on South Africa Travel Bans Tied to Variant German Coalition Proposes a Combustion-Car Ban Without Saying So Putin Pushes Confrontation With NATO as Hardliners Prevail Siemens Is Said to Kick Off Sale of Postal Logistics Business In FX, the index has been under pressure in the risk-averse environment amid a slump in yields and gains in its basket components – namely the JPY, CHF, EUR (see below) – and with liquidity also thinned by Thanksgiving. From a technical perspective, the index has declined from its 96.787 overnight high, through the 96.500 mark, to a low of 96.332 – with the weekly trough at 96.035. Ahead, the US calendar is once again light, with the US also poised for an early Thanksgiving closure; thus, impulses will likely be derived from the macro environment. JPY, CHF, EUR - Haven FX JPY and CHF are the clear outperformers as a function of risk-related inflows. USD/JPY has retreated from a 115.37 peak and fell through its 21 DMA (114.15) to a base around 113.66 - with the current weekly low around 113.64. USD/CHF retreated from 0.9360 to 0.9260 – with the 50 and 100 DMAs seen at 0.9234 and 0.9219, respectively, ahead of 0.9200. EUR/USD meanwhile gains on what is seemingly an unwind of the carry trade amid a spike in volatility. EUR/USD found support near 1.1200 before rebounding to a current 1.1288 peak. AUD, NZD, CAD, GBP - The non-US Dollar risk currencies bear the brunt of the latest market downturn, with losses across industrial commodities not helping. The Loonie has taken the spot as the biggest G10 loser as hefty COVID-induced losses in the oil complex keep the currency suppressed. USD/CAD trades towards the top of a current 1.2647-2774 range. AUD is also weighed on by softer base metal prices – AUD/USD fell from a 0.7200 overnight high to a current low at 0.7110. On that note, Westpac sees AUD/USD pushed down to 0.7000 by Jun 2022 (prev. 0.7700) amid rate differentials with the US; Westpac made significant changes to its FOMC policy forecast and now expect consecutive increases in the fed funds rate in Jun, Sept, and Dec 2022. NZD/USD is slightly more cushioned amid smaller exposure to commodities, and as the AUD/NZD cross takes aim at 1.0450 to the downside. GBP, meanwhile, was initially among the losers amid its high-beta status but thereafter nursed losses in a move that coincided with EUR/GBP rejecting an upside breach of its 21 DMA at 0.8475. EM - The ZAR is the standout laggard given the new South African COVID variant - B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant (expected to be named Nu) – which is said to be the most evolved strain so far and thus prompted several countries to halt travel to the country of origin. USD/ZAR currently trades within a 15.9375-16.3630 intraday band. Meanwhile, the downturn oil sees USD/RUB north of 75.00 and closer to 76.00 from a 74.2690 base. The Lira also feels some contagion despite the lower oil prices (Turkey being a large net oil importer) – USD/TRY is back on a 12.00 handle and within 11.92-1226 parameters at the time of writing. In commodities, the crude complex has been hit by compounding COVID fears which in turn triggered various travel restrictions and subsequently took its toll on global crude demand prospects. The new and more evolved South African variant prompted the UK, Singapore, and Israel to expand their travel red lists to include some African nations (Israel reported its first case of the new COVID-19 variant known as B.1.1.529). Japan also imposed tighter border restrictions. China’s Shanghai city see flights impacted by its own outbreak. Europe also tackles its surge in daily cases - German Green Party's Baerbock (incoming Foreign Minister) does not rule out a German lockdown, according to Spiegel. EU Commission President von der Leyen is also to propose activation of the emergency air brake, to halt travel from southern Africa due to the B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant. Losses in oil have exacerbated - with WTI Jan and Brent Feb now under USD 74/bbl (vs high 78.65/bbl) and USD 77/bbl (vs high 80.42/bbl), -6.0% and -5.0% respectively. This comes ahead of the OPEC+ confab next week, whereby OPEC watchers have suggested that oil prices will be a large contributor to the final decision. It is difficult to see how OPEC+ will increase output to the levels the US et al. will be content with, with the latest COVID downturn building the case for a pause in planned output hikes. Elsewhere, haven demand sees spot gold extend on gains above USD 1,800/oz after topping the 100 DMA (1,792.95/oz), 200 DMA (1,791.38/oz), 50 DMA (1,790.13/oz) overnight. Base metals are softer across the board amid the risk aversion. LME copper posts losses of around 3% at the time of writing, as prices threaten a more convincing downside breach of USD 9,500/t. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Things have escalated on the covid front quite rapidly over the last 12 hours. Yesterday new covid variant B.1.1.529 was slowly starting to gather increasing attention but overnight it has begun to dominate markets and has caused a notable flight to quality with 10 year USTs -8bps lower. It was originally identified in Botswana and is starting to spread rapidly in Africa. The South African Health Minister has said it is "of serious concern". Almost 100 cases have already been identified in South Africa and the UK moved to put the country back (along with 5 other African nations) on a reinstated red travel list last night with others following this morning. The variant is said to be the most heavily mutated version yet and the WHO will meet today to decide if it is a variant of interest or a variant of concern. So a lot of eyes will be on how severe it is and whether it completely evades vaccines. At this stage very little is known. Mutations are often less severe so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions but there is clearly a lot of concern about this one. Also South Africa is one of the world leaders in sequencing so we are more likely to see this sort of news originate from there than many countries. Suffice to say at this stage no one in markets will have any idea which way this will go. Overnight in Asia all benchmarks are trading lower on the news with the Shanghai Composite (-0.50%), CSI (-0.64%), KOSPI (-1.27%), Hang Seng (-2.13%) and the Nikkei (-2.90%) all lower. Airlines and other travel stocks have obviously fallen heavily. Hong Kong has detected two confirmed cases of the new variant just as Hong Kong and China were considering quarantine-free travel. S&P 500 (-0.93%) and DAX (-1.82%) futures are also much weaker. Elsewhere, in Japan, CPI rose +0.5% year-on-year (+0.4% consensus and +0.1% previously), on the back of 16-month high fuel prices. With the US out on holiday for Thanksgiving, there wasn’t much going on yesterday after a very quiet day in markets. The variant news was only slowly creeping into the news flow so it hardly impacted trading. But in keeping with the theme of recent days, both inflation and the latest covid wave in Europe remained very much in the picture as jitters continue to increase that we could see further lockdowns as we move towards Christmas. Starting with the headline moves, European equities did actually show signs of stabilising yesterday, with the STOXX 600 up +0.42% thanks to a broad-based advance across the continent. In fact that’s actually the index’s best daily performance in over three weeks, although that’s not reflecting any particular strength, but instead the fact the index inched steadily but persistently towards a record high before selling off again a week ago. Other indices moved higher across the continent too, with the FTSE 100 (+0.33%), the CAC 40 (+0.48%) and the DAX (+0.25%) all posting similar advances. These will all likely reverse this morning. One piece of news we did get came from the ECB, who released the account of their monetary policy meeting for October. Something the minutes stressed was the importance that the Governing Council maintain optionality in their policy settings, with one part acknowledging the growing upside risks to inflation, but also saying “it was deemed important for the Governing Council to avoid an overreaction as well as unwarranted inaction, and to keep sufficient optionality in calibrating its monetary policy measures to address all inflation scenarios that might unfold.” Against this backdrop, 10yr bond yields moved lower across multiple countries, with those on bunds (-2.3ps), OATs (-2.3bps) and BTPs (-1.9bps) all declining. There was also a flattening in all 3 yield curves as well, with the 2s10s slope in Germany (-3.0bps), France (-3.7bps) and Italy (-2.8bps) shifting lower. And the moves also coincided with a continued widening in peripheral spreads, with both the Spanish and the Greek spreads over 10yr bund yields widening to their biggest levels in over a year. Of course, one of the biggest concerns in Europe right now remains the pandemic, and yesterday saw a number of fresh measures announced as policymakers seek to get a grip on the latest wave. In France, health minister Veran announced various measures, including the expansion of the booster rollout to all adults, and a reduction in the length of time between the initial vaccination and the booster shot to 5 months from 6. Meanwhile in the Czech Republic, the government declared a state of emergency and approved tighter social distancing measures, including the closure of restaurants and bars at 10pm. And in Finland, the government have said that bars and restaurants not using Covid certificates will not be able to serve alcohol after 5pm. All this came as the European Medicines Agency recommended that the Pfizer vaccine be approved for children aged 5-11, which follows the decision to approve the vaccine in the US. Their recommendation will now go to the European Commission for a final decision. There wasn’t much in the way of data at all yesterday, though German GDP growth in Q3 was revised down to show a +1.7% expansion (vs. +1.8% previous estimate). Looking at the details, private consumption was the only driver of growth (+6.2%), with government consumption (-2.2%), machinery and equipment (-3.7%) and construction (-2.3%) all declining over the quarter. To the day ahead now, and data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/26/2021 - 08:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 26th, 2021

If The Chaos In Our Streets Is This Bad Now, How Bad Will It Get In 2022 And Beyond?

If The Chaos In Our Streets Is This Bad Now, How Bad Will It Get In 2022 And Beyond? Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com, If crime and violence are wildly out of control when things are still relatively good, how nightmarish will things become when conditions get really bad in this country?  Just think about it.  Right now, anyone that wants a job can get one.  Millions of Americans have either died of have become seriously incapacitated over the last two years, and so now we are in the midst of the most epic worker shortage in the history of the United States.  Companies all over the nation are absolutely desperate to hire anyone with a pulse, and so there is no excuse for being unemployed.  In addition, we have invented literally millions of different ways to entertain ourselves.  There are hundreds of channels on television, new movies are constantly being released, we live in a golden era of video games, and there are millions of sites to visit and things to do on the Internet. So we should all be able to make a living, and we should all have more than enough things to do in our free time. In other words, crime should theoretically be extremely low right now. But instead, crime rates are absolutely skyrocketing and we are seeing chaos in our streets on a nightly basis. In fact, I just wrote about the chaos in our streets yesterday, and now I am writing about it again today. When I was growing up, you weren’t taking your life into your hands by attending a parade.  Sadly, quite a few of those that attended the Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin on Sunday won’t be attending any parades ever again. A career criminal/rapper/political activist/registered sex offender named Darrell Brooks ripped right through the center of the parade in his vehicle, and many of the victims that he hit were women and children… Father Corey Montiho recalled running between crumpled bodies in the streets of Waukesha, 20 miles from Milwaukee, in an attempt to find his wife and two daughters after the girls’ dance team was hit by a speeding red SUV which tore through the parade route around 4.40pm – leaving the streets littered with bodies, broken bones, and ‘fragments of brain’. ‘They were pom-poms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere. I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter,’ he said. ‘My wife and two daughters were almost hit. ‘I saw bodies flying. I ran down the parade route to find my girls. Addison, my daughter, heard someone yell “car” and ran away. The girls right next to her were hit. If the man behind the wheel had been a conservative, the mainstream media would undoubtedly be calling this an act of “domestic terrorism”. But since Darrell Brooks absolutely hates conservatives and absolutely hates the police, the mainstream media are not using that particular label. Meanwhile, stores in the San Francisco area were hit by highly organized looters for a third night in a row… San Francisco Bay has been hit by a third day of brazen looting, with a gang of thieves filmed smashing glass cases at a jewelry store and emptying them as staff screamed in terror. The latest incident happened at a Sam’s Jewelers store at the Southland Mall in Hayward around 5:30pm PST Sunday evening, and was caught on camera. Robbers – said to have been part of a gang of around 40 to 50 teens who entered the mall – wielded hammers to smash display cases at Sam’s, before making off with goods. Dramatic footage shot from a nearby store showed shop workers screaming with fear as the disturbing scene unfolded. Other stores in that same mall were hit as well. The thieves have learned that as long as they keep the value of what they steal under $950 they will never be charged with a felony. So it is open season on retailers in northern California, and store owners desperately want the politicians to do something to protect them… Retailers who already suffered looting in the Black Lives Matter riots of 2020 have had enough, and are speaking out against the left-wing Mayor and other public officials who have failed to protect them. The San Francisco Chronicle reported: “The mayor and her entire team should resign,” said John Chachas, whose family owns luxury retailer Gump’s on Post Street in Union Square. “You can’t really run a retail enterprise if you have to board up the windows five weeks before the critical Christmas selling season.” Sadly, we are seeing similar scenes in the middle of the country. For example, one gang of organized looters just got away with approximately $120,000 worth of merchandise from a Louis Vuitton store near Chicago… A group of over a dozen people stormed a Louis Vuitton store in a Chicago suburb and stole about $120,000 worth of merchandise, police said. The suspects were caught on video wearing masks and sweatshirts as they grabbed bags and cleared out shelves in the store. The robbery resulted in about $120,000 in merchandise being stolen. Of course these are not just isolated incidents. As the National Fraternal Order of Police has pointed out, crime rates are absolutely skyrocketing all over the nation. As Violent Crime SURGES across America, some politicians and some in the media are gaslighting the public into thinking the Police are the Problem… Homicides: Atlanta ⬆️ 58% Portland ⬆️ 533% Philadelphia ⬆️ 37% Shootings: New York City ⬆️ 64% Los Angeles ⬆️ 51% Chicago ⬆️ 18% pic.twitter.com/5RbhbKY312 — National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) (@GLFOP) June 22, 2021 This is the end result of decades of moral collapse in America. These young criminals are not stealing because they can’t find jobs and desperately need money. At this point, all of them could go out and get jobs by the end of the week. And they aren’t causing havoc because they are bored because there is nothing to do. Rather, they are committing these crimes because our system never taught them right and wrong and now they have fully embraced evil. As the chaos in our streets gets worse and worse, it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a police officer.  Many of our largest cities have greatly restricted what police departments can do to crack down on crime, law enforcement officers are being endlessly demonized by the corporate media, and violent attacks against police officers are on the rise. In such an environment, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that so many officers regret ever becoming cops.  For instance, just check out these numbers from a recent survey that was conducted in New York… Not only did 56 percent of cops say they wouldn’t put on the badge if they had to do it all over again, but a majority feel the public disrespects (46 percent agree, 42 percent disagree) and distrusts (44 to 41 percent) them. “There is no other profession that is scrutinized as much as we are,” said one NYPD sergeant, a 16-year-veteran. “The far-left leaning politics are absolutely destroying the city of New York.” Countless officers have left their law enforcement careers behind over the past couple of years, and many more will leave in 2022. And because we are in the midst of such a horrible labor shortage, it will not be easy to replace them. This is yet another example of how core institutions are crumbling all over America, and it is only going to get worse in the years ahead. As the violence in our streets continues to escalate, what will the streets of our major cities look like in 2022 and beyond? If you live in or near one of our major cities, you may want to ask yourself that question, because the storm clouds on the horizon are becoming exceedingly clear at this point. *  *  * It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/24/2021 - 16:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 24th, 2021

From farm to table, immigrant workers keep America fed, but Trump-era policies helped create a labor shortfall that is causing food prices to rise

Had US immigration levels maintained their pre-2016 trajectory, analysts estimate the US would have roughly 2 million more people today. Farm workers harvest zucchini on the Sam Accursio & Son's Farm on April 01, 2020 in Florida City, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty Images If immigration maintained its 2016 levels, the US would have 2 million more people today. Food-related industries historically rely on low-wage immigrant labor and are now facing shortages. That labor pool is also shrinking as foreign-born workers seek opportunities in other industries. With Thanksgiving less than a week away, inflation continues to make headlines for driving up food prices, both at grocery stores and in restaurants.A major factor behind those increases is the cost of labor, where companies' struggles to find and retain staff are having ripple effects from farm to table.Supply chain problems are intrinsically tied to labor issues, and the US food supply chain is facing a particular labor shortage that has deepened over the past five years: foreign-born workers.Had US immigration levels maintained their pre-2016 trajectory, the US would have roughly 2 million more people today, analysts at both JPMorgan and Grant Thornton estimate.Trump Administration policies cut legal immigration in half during his term, according to an estimate by the National Foundation for American Policy, and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the administration further tightened rules with more than 40 policy changes for documented and undocumented immigrants alike.While neither Trump nor his policies are solely responsible for all of the shortfall, the rhetoric and political climate of those years certainly contributed to the shortfall employers currently face.Given the 75% labor force participation rate of foreign-born residents, that works out to 1.5 million fewer workers available to fill the 10 million open jobs in the economy right now.A lot of those open jobs are in food-related industries like agriculture, processing, and service – industries that have a history of relying on low-wage immigrant labor, including undocumented workers. Now that strategy has led to a precarious position.Restaurants, like farming and processing jobs, tend to offer low pay and poor conditions in many cases, and high turnover means there are almost always jobs available.These same industries were hit hard by COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic. Many undocumented workers, particularly at restaurants that shut down, lost their jobs, while those who continued working were in frontline positions where they were more likely to be infected, such as in meat-processing plants with documented large outbreaks.A US Department of Agriculture study found that as many as half of hired laborers in crop agriculture did not have the immigration status needed to work legally in the US. Undocumented workers make up about 10% of the restaurant industry, and as much as 40% in some urban centers, according to Eater, mostly concentrated in back of house roles. Immigrants without authorization typically take these jobs because they have the fewest options, Daniel Costa, the director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, told Insider.These workers are attractive to employers who are willing to take the risk of potential legal action, because unauthorized workers have "virtually no labor rights in practice," Costa said. They are unlikely to report their employers for poor workplace conditions and pay – or even illegal actions – because of repercussions they could face.Line cooks were the single profession most at risk of dying from COVID-19, according to a study from UC San Francisco, followed by machine operators, agricultural workers, and construction workers."These are rough, dirty jobs that are physically dangerous and often demeaning," said Nathan Dollar, a doctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina who studies agriculture workers.In addition to less immigration to the US, Dollar explained that agricultural businesses' labor challenges are also tightening as foreign-born workers tap into better opportunities, like entrepreneurship.Restaurant workers meanwhile have been leaving those jobs for better pay and conditions in the warehousing and logistics industry.With a shrinking foreign-born labor pool and growing opportunities in other industries, Dollar says immigrant workers are less willing to work under demeaning or dangerous conditions for low pay."You're seeing a new labor movement spawning, and I think that's probably why people are not willing to work for these low wages," he said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 23rd, 2021

The US food supply chain relies heavily on foreign workers, and now those industries are suffering the worst labor shortages

A major factor behind price increases is the cost of labor, and companies' struggles to find workers are having ripple effects from farm to table. Farm workers harvest zucchini on the Sam Accursio & Son's Farm on April 01, 2020 in Florida City, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty Images If immigration maintained its 2016 levels, the US would have 2 million more people today. Food-related industries historically rely on low-wage immigrant labor and are now facing shortages. That labor pool is also shrinking as foreign-born workers seek opportunities in other industries. With Thanksgiving less than a week away, inflation continues to make headlines for driving up food prices, both at grocery stores and in restaurants.A major factor behind those increases is the cost of labor, where companies' struggles to find and retain staff are having ripple effects from farm to table.Global supply-chain problems are intrinsically tied to labor issues, but the US food supply chain is facing a particular labor shortage that has deepened over the past five years: foreign-born workers.Had US immigration levels maintained their pre-2016 trajectory, the US would have roughly 2 million more people today, analysts at both JPMorgan and Grant Thornton estimate.Although immigration declined under the presidency of Donald Trump, neither he nor his policies were solely responsible for all of it. Even so, the rhetoric and political climate of those years likely contributed to the shortfall employers currently face.Given the 75% labor force participation rate of foreign-born residents, that works out to 1.5 million fewer workers available to fill the 10 million open jobs in the economy right now.A lot of those open jobs are in food-related industries like agriculture, processing, and service – industries that have a history of relying on low-wage immigrant labor, including undocumented workers. Now that strategy has led to a precarious position.Restaurants, like farming and processing jobs, tend to offer low pay and poor conditions in many cases, and high turnover means there are almost always jobs available.These same industries were hit hard by COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic. Many undocumented workers, particularly at restaurants that shut down, lost their jobs, while those who continued working were in frontline positions where they were more likely to be infected, such as in meat-processing plants with documented large outbreaks.A US Department of Agriculture study found that as many as half of hired laborers in crop agriculture did not have the immigration status needed to work legally in the US. Undocumented workers make up about 10% of the restaurant industry, and as much as 40% in some urban centers, according to Eater, mostly concentrated in back of house roles. Immigrants without authorization typically take these jobs because they have the fewest options, Daniel Costa, the director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, told Insider.These workers are attractive to employers who are willing to take the risk of potential legal action, because unauthorized workers have "virtually no labor rights in practice," Costa said. They are unlikely to report their employers for poor workplace conditions and pay – or even illegal actions – because of repercussions they could face.Line cooks were the single profession most at risk of dying from COVID-19, according to a study from UC San Francisco, followed by machine operators, agricultural workers, and construction workers."These are rough, dirty jobs that are physically dangerous and often demeaning," said Nathan Dollar, a doctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina who studies agriculture workers.In addition to less immigration to the US, Dollar explained that agricultural businesses' labor challenges are also tightening as foreign-born workers tap into better opportunities, like entrepreneurship.Restaurant workers meanwhile have been leaving those jobs for better pay and conditions in the warehousing and logistics industry.With a shrinking foreign-born labor pool and growing opportunities in other industries, Dollar says immigrant workers are less willing to work under demeaning or dangerous conditions for low pay."You're seeing a new labor movement spawning, and I think that's probably why people are not willing to work for these low wages," he said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 21st, 2021

In Some Parts Of America, Looting Has Become A Way Of Life

In Some Parts Of America, Looting Has Become A Way Of Life Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com, The level of lawlessness that we are now witnessing in the United States of America is absolutely breathtaking.  On average, thieves are stealing more than 100 million dollars worth of merchandise from our retailers every single day.  Just think about that.  I have written extensively about the shoplifting epidemic that is plaguing this country, but even I didn’t know that things had gotten that bad.  Sadly, much of the thievery is being committed by highly organized gangs of looters.  Last week, I posted absolutely stunning video of one of those gangs stealing vast quantities of laundry detergent from a retail store in Connecticut… Thieves in Connecticut load up their cars with stolen merchandise. You can hear an employee warning another not to intervene because he will get fired pic.twitter.com/BisacmWLVc — Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) November 10, 2021 I shared that video with someone that I trust, and that individual wondered why they hadn’t taken something more expensive like big screen televisions. Well, now we have video of that exact same group of looters wheeling big screen televisions right out the front door of another store in Connecticut… These professional looters seem to have no fear of being confronted. And that is probably because they know that even if they are caught they will never be charged with a felony.  Many states have changed their laws to be more lenient on shoplifters in recent years, and this appears to be helping to fuel an enormous boom in organized retail theft… Gangs of professional boosters have been snatching racks of clothing and other items for years, but the National Retail Federation reports in its most recent survey of retailers that more lenient penalties and prosecution policies are fueling a rise in such crimes. “Many states have increased the threshold of what constitutes a felony, which has had the unintended consequence of allowing criminals to steal more without being afraid of stronger penalties related to felony charges,” the trade association reported. “Nearly two-thirds of retailers report that they’ve seen an increase in the average ORC case value in these states.” My guess is that the thieves in the two videos are selling what they steal online. Of course they are far from alone.  This sort of thing is happening all over the nation, and it is being reported that theft is now costing our retailers 45 billion dollars a year… Retail theft is now said to be responsible for $45 billion in annual losses in the U.S., according to one trade association, a figure whose recent growth reflects the disruptions of the pandemic era and the rise of online retail, which has made it easier to resell stolen items. That is an incredibly high number. When you divide that figure by 365 days, you get an average of more than 123 million dollars per day. We are talking about thievery on an industrial scale, and we are being told that some of our biggest cities are where the most extensive looting is happening… The top five cities for organized retail crime, in order, were Los Angeles, San Francisco/ Oakland, Chicago, New York and Miami, the trade association reported. Video of blatant thefts from California stores, in particular, have been widely circulated. In addition to retail theft, there has been an alarming rise in the number of “follow-home robberies” in the Los Angeles area. Apparently criminals are specifically targeting highly vulnerable people.  Once a sufficient target has been identified, the crooks follow the target all the way home before robbing the individual… Due to an increase in violent street robberies, Robbery-Homicide Division has become aware of an ongoing crime trend of follow-home robberies. Suspects have been locating victims in Los Angeles, following them, and then committing the robberies as the victim arrives home or at their business. … These crimes have occurred throughout the City of Los Angles as well as neighboring cities. Different suspects have been identified and arrested for these types of crimes. It is important to understand that the environment in our country has dramatically changed. If you notice a suspicious vehicle following you toward your home, take several unexpected turns in order to confirm that you are indeed being followed. Once you have confirmed that it is happening, do not proceed to your house.  Instead, I would drive directly to the nearest police station. Sometimes professional criminals are not just satisfied with robbing you.  In Las Vegas, an 82-year-old woman was buried in her backyard, and then the criminals took over her home and her finances… A dead woman in Las Vegas was dismembered and buried in her backyard by a group of squatters before they moved into her home and took over her finances, according to police. In April of this year, police discovered the body of 82-year-old Lucille Payne buried in the backyard of her home located on Shore Breeze Drive, according to local news station KLAS-TV’s Investigative Team (I-Team). This is the end result of decades of moral collapse in this nation. We just let evil continue to grow and grow, and now it is everywhere. In Seattle, the downtown area has become so dangerous that city employees are now being escorted by security guards once they leave work… Seattle has become so dangerous that the city can no longer protect its own employees, with security guards now escorting them after they finish work. King County’s new ‘walking bus’ will debut on November 15, and see council workers based in Downtown Seattle and nearby Pioneer Square escorted to a nearby train station and ferry terminal each evening before being left to continue their commute home. This is what our country has become, and it is only going to get worse. Meanwhile, as our nation descends into total lawlessness, our military is focusing on becoming more “woke”… The Marine Corps, the smallest U.S. military force, has plans for a big overhaul designed to address its lack of diversity and problem with retaining troops. The goal that’s driving what amounts to a cultural shift within the service, is for the Marines “to reflect America, to reflect the society we come from,” Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition. I came across that story today after reading many other stories about the explosion of crime and lawlessness that we are experiencing. The contrast really struck me. It is almost as if our national leaders are living in a completely different reality from most of the rest of us. The very fabric of our society is coming apart at the seams all around us, but meanwhile they are seemingly obsessed with playing politically correct games. We are deeply, deeply sick as a society, and it appears to be getting worse with each passing year. *  *  * It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/15/2021 - 18:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 15th, 2021

The Nazis built their 2 most powerful warships before World War II. Here"s how the British hunted them down.

Bismarck and Tirpitz were Nazi Germany's most imposing warships, and the Allies hunted them across the North Atlantic. British Lancaster bombers head toward their target, Tirpitz, upper left, in Norway's Kaa Fjord amid a German smoke screen, September 15, 1944. No. 5 Group RAF/ Imperial War Museums via Getty Images Nazi Germany's two Bismarck-class battleships were the most imposing it built during World War II. The threat they posed to convoys and warships made them a special target for the Allies. British warships and bombers hunted the ships, Bismarck and Tirpitz, across the North Atlantic. Early on November 12, 1944, 29 Lancaster bombers of the British Royal Air Force took off from their bases in northern Scotland and headed to Norway. Their target was the German battleship Tripitz, Germany's biggest warship.Nicknamed "The Beast" by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Tirpitz was one of two Bismarck-class battleships built before the war.The two ships were the largest and most powerful warships Germany had ever built and represented the pride of the Kriegsmarine.They were also the German surface fleet's biggest threat to Allied navies, which made their destruction a top priority - especially for Britain, which relied heavily on its navy to avoid being cut off from the world.The Bismarck class Bismarck in early 1941, before it received its camouflage paint. Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images The Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, prohibited Germany's navy from building large warships.In the years that followed, however, Germany was able to either roll back or ignore those restrictions. In 1935, Britain and Germany signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, a last attempt to limit Germany's navy, now known as the Kriegsmarine.The agreement allowed Germany to build a navy equal to 35% of the total tonnage of the Royal Navy and permitted construction of large warships and submarines. A year after it was signed, the first battleship, Bismarck, was laid down, followed by Tirpitz four months later.The ships were named after important figures in German history: Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor who led German unification and built the German Empire in the 1800s, and Alfred von Tirpitz, the grand admiral who turned the Imperial German Navy into a world-class fleet in the early 1900s. Adolf Hitler inspects a guard of honor prior to the launch of Tirpitz at Wilhelmshaven, April 1, 1939. Hulton Archive/Getty Images They were worthy of their namesakes. Each was over 800 feet long and had as their primary armament eight 15-inch guns mounted in four turrets.The guns could fire shells weighing some 1,700 pounds over 20 miles. The ships also had 12 5.9-inch secondary guns in six turrets and over 40 anti-aircraft guns.They were also heavily armored - 12.5 inches of steel armor in their main belt along with 8.7-inch armored bulkheads and 14.1 inches of armor on the main gun turrets.Both were launched in 1939. Bismarck was commissioned in August 1940 and Tirpitz in February 1941.Bismarck German battleship Bismarck off of Kiel, Germany, September 1940. Sobotta/ullstein bild via Getty Images As soon as the war started, the Kriegsmarine set out to attack Allied shipping lanes.Hoping to avoid expected budget cuts to the surface fleet, Grand Adm. Erich Raeder, head of the Kriegsmarine, planned a large commerce raid in 1941 that would involve both Bismarck-class battleships and the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.But Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were under nearly constant attack by RAF bombers while in port in France, and Tirpitz's crew was still being trained. Bismarck firing on a merchant ship in the North Atlantic in 1941. Keystone/Getty Images Unwilling to delay the operation, the Germans sent Bismarck out with only one accompanying ship, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. Operation Rheinübung, as it was codenamed, would be Bismarck's first and only mission.The Royal Navy, recognizing the threat Bismarck posed to its vital supply lines, hoped to intercept Bismarck before it reached the Atlantic.On May 24, British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Hood, widely considered the pride of the Royal Navy, caught up with Bismarck and Prinz Eugen as they sailed through the Denmark Strait.The older British ships were outclassed by Bismarck. Just minutes into the battle, HMS Hood was hit by rounds from Bismarck's guns, causing a massive explosion that sunk Hood and killed all but three of its 1,415-man crew.HMS Prince of Wales was also heavily damaged and had to withdraw. Survivors from the Bismarck are pulled aboard HMS Dorsetshire, May 27, 1941. British Royal Navy Enraged at the loss of the Hood, the Royal Navy threw almost all its available ships in the area into the hunt for Bismarck.Bismarck had separated from Prinz Eugen and was heading to France after taking slight damage to its fuel tank. It briefly evaded its pursuers, but a British reconnaissance aircraft, flown by a US Navy pilot, found it on May 26.After a strike by carrier aircraft, British warships pounced on May 27. With Bismarck dead in the water, its sailors scuttled the ship with explosives. British heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire later finished it off with torpedoes. Only 115 of Bismarck's 2,221-man crew survived.Despite some success against convoys, the loss of Bismarck and other capital ships proved to Hitler that U-boats were the best weapon against Allied convoys.Tirpitz An undated photo of Tirpitz. DPA/AFP via Getty Images Even before work on Tirpitz finished in early 1941, the British were trying to destroy it. RAF bomber raids on its harbor never hit it directly, but they did slow its construction.With Bismarck gone, Tirpitz became the pride of the Kriegsmarine, but Hitler forbade surface ships from Atlantic commerce raiding after Bismarck was sunk. Instead, the Kriegsmarine's surface fleet was ordered to occupy the Baltic and waters around Norway.Tirpitz's first deployment was to the Baltic, where it guarded against a breakout by the Soviet Baltic Fleet, based in what is now St. Petersburg, during Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union.The Baltic Fleet never tried to break out, however, and Tirpitz was redeployed to Norway. British Fleet Air Arm personnel aboard an aircraft carrier fuse bombs for an attack on Tirpitz in Alten Fjord, Norway, April 3, 1944. Royal Navy Official Photographer/ Imperial War Museums via Getty Images The move was strategic. German warships and planes in Norway could intercept Arctic supply convoys headed to the Soviet Union and fend off an Allied invasion of Norway, which Hitler worried about constantly.Tirpitz's mere presence was enough to concern Allied commanders. In July 1942, the Allied warships escorting convoy PQ-17 abandoned the convoy to search for Tirpitz after a report that the German ship left its port in northern Norway.They didn't find Tirpitz, and German U-boats and aircraft sunk 23 of the 35 defenseless merchant ships.Apart from a shore bombardment of Spitzbergen on September 8, 1943, Tirpitz never engaged enemy forces in offensive action. This was partly because of constant Royal Navy and Air Force attacks - with everything from bombers and carrier aircraft to mini-submarines - while it was in port.On September 15, 1944, RAF bombers flying from the USSR managed to hit Tirpitz with a single 12,000-pound Tallboy bomb, causing major damage. British Fleet Air Arm aircraft attack Tirpitz at its anchorage in Alten Fjord, Norway, April 3, 1944. British Royal Navy/Imperial War Museum Tirpitz was moved south to Tromsø. That put the battleship in range of RAF bases in Scotland, though to reach the target bombers had to be modified to add two fuel tanks and remove excess weight.After a failed raid on October 29, the RAF tried again on November 12, sending the raiders briefly into Swedish airspace to get a better angle of attack.Two Tallboy bombs struck Tirpitz, detonating a magazine and blowing off one of the turrets. The warship was rocked by massive shockwaves from multiple near misses and eventually capsized.Over 900 of Tirpitz's more than 2,000 crewmen died as a result of the raid, which dealt the final blow to the pride of Germany's surface fleet.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 14th, 2021

Lawsuit Claims Subway"s "100% Tuna" Actually Contains Chicken, Pork And Cattle DNA

Lawsuit Claims Subway's "100% Tuna" Actually Contains Chicken, Pork And Cattle DNA A new lawsuit against casual dining chain Subway is alleging that chicken, pork and cattle were all found in the company's tuna, which is advertised as "100% Tuna". A proposed class action was filed this week by Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin, who claims that lab testing confirms the findings, Reuters reported. Subway has responded that the lawsuit is "reckless and improper", that the plaintiffs have "filed three meritless complaints, changing their story each time," and that its tuna is "high-quality, wild-caught, 100% tuna". The restaurant chain says its tuna is "regulated strictly" in the U.S.  Since the initial complaint, Subway has hit back by running TV ads and launching a website dedicated to getting the message out that its tuna is, in fact, 100% tuna.  The plaintiff's original complaint claimed that the company's tuna salads, sandwiches and wraps were "bereft" of tuna and the amended complaint claims that the products are "not 100% sustainably caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna," Reuters wrote. The second complaint was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, but he gave the plaintiffs a chance to amend their claims.  The latest version of the complaint is reliant on the testing of a marine biologist, who looked at 20 tuna samples from 20 different Subway restaurants.  19 of those samples allegedly had "no detectable tuna DNA sequences," while all of the samples contained chicken DNA, the report says. 11 of the samples contained pork DNA and 7 contained cattle DNA, the report says.  Amin, who has religious restrictions limiting meat that she can eat, claims she ordered Subway's "100% Tuna" more than 100 times in the six years between 2013 and 2019. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.  Tyler Durden Fri, 11/12/2021 - 19:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 12th, 2021

Buy These Growth-Focused Stocks Before Earnings and Hold for Years?

Today, we explore a few new-age retailers trading well below their highs heading into their upcoming earnings reports. The stocks also happen to trade between $20 to $35 a share... Stocks bounced back in the last two sessions after the market finally snapped its winning streak during the week of November 8. Wall Street took profits after a month-plus rally sent all three major U.S. indexes to new records to start the second month of the fourth quarter.Many have pointed to continuing inflation, and rightfully so after it hit a 30-year high in October. Investors are now left to decide if the hot CPI data will force the Fed to start lifting rates sooner than projected.The central bank has started to taper its bond-buying program and it plans to conclude its stimulus-focused purchases by June, with it set to keep it core interest rate at its current rock-bottom levels at least until then.But the market’s quick rebound could mean Wall Street remains sanguine even in the face of rising prices, persistent supply chain bottlenecks, and a struggle to fill open jobs.It’s worth pointing out that the current surge in prices have yet to show up in the S&P 500 margins outlook for FY22 or FY23, even though they are impacting things in the near-term (also read: What's Going on with Earnings in Q4 and Beyond).Uncertainty and headwinds remain, but investors likely want to stay on the hunt for strong stocks, especially if they are long-term buyers. Today, we explore a few new-age retailers trading well below their highs heading into their upcoming earnings reports. The stocks also happen to trade between $20 to $35 a share…Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchTraeger, Inc. COOKTraeger helped pioneer the wood pellet grill that it calls a “versatile and easy to use outdoor cooking system.” The company’s pellet grills use all-natural hardwood fuel and aim to provide 6-in-1 versatility in order to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise and barbecue. Traeger has caught fire as part of a wave of new-age, high-end brands popular among a younger generation of consumers.COOK went public at the end of July and climbed nearly 25% on its debut as Wall Street continued to jump on IPOs. Traeger’s first quarter as a public firm saw it post 39% revenue growth, with grills up 40%, consumables 28% higher, while accessories surged 65%. It did face earnings pressure amid supply chain setbacks, but its adjusted EPS of $0.15 a share easily topped our $0.04 estimate.Zacks estimates call for COOK’s fiscal 2021 revenue to climb 40% to $764.6 million and then jump over 25% higher in FY22 to start closing in on $1 billion in sales ($958.7 million). Meanwhile, it is projected to post adjusted full year earnings of $0.56 a share this year and then see its EPS pop 35% to $0.76 in 2022.Traeger executives believe it has the “potential to deliver approximately 20% annual revenue growth and 20% adjusted EBITDA margins” over the long term as it continues to expand. These plans include its newly launched (Nov. 2) Traeger Provisions meal-kit style food delivery service to help make a variety of meals on the grill.COOK has fallen over 35% from its early August highs and is currently trading just under $20 a share. Yet, its Zacks consensus price target of $31.57 a share marks over 50% upside. Traeger lands a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) heading into Q3 financial release on Monday, November 15. And seven of the eight brokerage recommendations Zacks has are “Strong Buys,” with the other at a “Buy.”Sonos, Inc. SONOSonos is a home audio firm that specializes in wireless and multi-room sound systems. It competes against Bose and others in the higher-end home speaker space. The firm sells a range of sleek, connected speakers, subwoofers, soundbars for TVs, and more, with packages that run up to nearly $2,000. Earlier this year, Sonos entered the popular portable smart speaker space with its $179 mass-market Roam speaker.The company has benefited from the larger shift to modern, connected devices and it’s poised to gain as more people spend on home-based upgrades. The firm is also boosted its non-speaker space, with an ad-free streaming tier of its music service dubbed Sonos Radio HD. The offering costs $7.99 a month and competes against Spotify and various other streaming music platforms.Sonos revenue climbed 11% in FY19 and 5% last year. Zacks estimates call for its 2021 (year ended October 2) sales to surge 29% to $1.71 billion, with FY22 projected to jump another 11% higher to come in at $1.90 billion. And it’s expected to swing from an adjusted loss of -$0.18 a share last year all the way to +$1.11 in FY21, with FY22 set to climb another 6% higher.The speaker company’s strong management team helped it rip off four-straight massive quarterly earnings beats. This included posting adjusted earnings of +$0.27 a share last quarter vs. the Zacks consensus that called for a -$0.17 loss. Plus, the most recent Q4 EPS estimate—which Zacks calls the most accurate—comes in at +$0.07 a share, compared to the overall consensus of an adjusted loss of -$0.07. This could mean Sonos is due for another huge beat.Sonos is scheduled to report its Q4 results on Wednesday, November 17 and its recent earnings revisions help it land a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) right now. Sonos also grabs an “A” grade for Growth in our Style Scores system and its Audio Video Production space ranks in the top 13% of our 250 Zacks industries.The audio firm’s shares soared off their covid lows of under $10 to over $40 in April 2021. SONO is still up 50% this year, but it trades 20% beneath its highs at around $34 a share right now. Plus, its current Zacks consensus price target represents nearly 25% upside to Friday’s levels. And Sonos just recently popped above its 50-day moving average and it trades near its year-long lows at 26.7X forward earnings. Tech IPOs With Massive Profit Potential In the past few years, many popular platforms and like Uber and Airbnb finally made their way to the public markets. But the biggest paydays came from lesser-known names. For example, electric carmaker X Peng shot up +299.4% in just 2 months. Think of it this way… If you had put $5,000 into XPEV at its IPO in September 2020, you could have cashed out with $19,970 in November. With record amounts of cash flooding into IPOs and a record-setting stock market, this year’s lineup could be even more lucrative.See Zacks Hottest Tech IPOs Now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Sonos, Inc. (SONO): Free Stock Analysis Report Traeger, Inc. (COOK): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 12th, 2021

Tyson Foods (TSN) Queued for Q4 Earnings: Things to Note

Tyson Foods' (TSN) fourth-quarter fiscal 2021 performance is likely to reflect continued strength in the retail category along with a rebound in the foodservice business. Tyson Foods, Inc. TSN is likely to register top-and bottom-line growth when it reports fourth-quarter fiscal 2021 results on Nov 15. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for quarterly revenues is pegged at $12,559 million, which suggests a rise of 9.6% from the figure reported in the prior-year quarter. The consensus mark for fiscal 2021 revenues is pegged at $47,006 million, suggesting growth of 8.9% from the year-ago period’s levels.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Tyson Foods’ quarterly earnings has remained unchanged in the past 30 days at $2.20 per share, projecting a rise of 21.6% from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure. The consensus mark for fiscal 2021 earnings is pegged at $8.27 per share, which suggests a surge of 46.6% from the prior year’s figure. The meat product giant’s bottom line outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 52.5% in the last reported quarter. Tyson Foods has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 38.4%, on average.Tyson Foods, Inc. Price and EPS Surprise  Tyson Foods, Inc. price-eps-surprise | Tyson Foods, Inc. Quote Things to NoteTyson Foods has been seeing robust growth in the retail business, courtesy of impressive brand performance. In its third-quarter fiscal 2021 earnings call, management highlighted that it expects to keep witnessing escalated volumes above pre-COVID levels in the retail business for the rest of the year. The foodservice business is also seeing a rebound as the restaurant industry is reopening gradually. Tyson Foods’ export markets have been strong. The company’s focus on expanding capacity and implementing automation technology bodes well. Continuation of these factors is likely to have boosted Tyson Foods’ performance in the to-be-reported quarter.Tyson Foods highlighted that it expects the Beef segment to deliver better performance in fiscal 2021 compared with fiscal 2020 levels. Also, management envisions better results from its operations in the International/Other segment. The company anticipates sales in the bracket of $46-$47 billion for fiscal 2021. However, the company’s Pork segment is likely to have delivered lower performance than fiscal 2020 levels. The Chicken unit is likely to have posted soft results in fiscal 2021.Tyson Foods expects the ongoing inflationary environment to put pressure on the Prepared Foods business in the next few quarters. Escalated raw material, logistics, ingredients, packaging as well as labor costs are headwinds for the company’s cost of production. Although management is on track to mitigate the impact of inflation with pricing and revenue management, such high costs are likely to have affected its performance to some extent in the quarter under review.Tyson Foods has been encountering cost-related headwinds due to COVID-19, including escalated costs related to workers’ health. Management anticipates expenses associated with COVID-19 worth nearly $325 million in fiscal 2021.What the Zacks Model UnveilsOur proven model doesn’t conclusively predict an earnings beat for Tyson Foods this time around. The combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) increases the odds of an earnings beat. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.Tyson Foods currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 and has an Earnings ESP of 0.00%.Some Stocks With Favorable CombinationsHere are some companies that you may want to consider as our model shows that these too have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat.United Natural Foods UNFI currently has an Earnings ESP of +30.44% and sports a Zacks Rank of 1. The company is likely to register an increase in the bottom line when it reports first-quarter fiscal 2022 numbers. Although the consensus mark for quarterly earnings has moved down by a penny in the last 30 days to 61 cents per share, it projects a 19.6% jump from the year-ago quarter’s reported number.United Natural’s top line is expected to rise year over year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for quarterly revenues is pegged at $6,820 million, which suggests a rise of 2.2% from the figure reported in the prior-year quarter. UNFI’s stock has surged 47.9% in the past three months compared with the industry’s growth of 0.7%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Greenlane Holdings, Inc. GNLN currently has an Earnings ESP of +4.55% and carries a Zacks Rank of 3. The company is likely to register an increase in the bottom line when it reports third-quarter 2021 results. The Zacks Consensus Estimate has remained unchanged at a loss of 7 cents per share in the past 30 days. The estimate is narrower than a loss of 53 cents reported in the year-ago quarter.Greenlane’s top line is also expected to rise year over year. The consensus mark for quarterly revenues is pegged at $40.3 million, which suggests a rise of 12.7% from the figure reported in the prior-year quarter. GNLN’s stock has slumped 28.1% in the past three months against the industry’s growth of 0.7%.DICK'S Sporting Goods DKS currently has an Earnings ESP of +17.35% and carries a Zacks Rank of 3. The company is likely to register a decline in the bottom line when it reports third-quarter fiscal 2021 earnings. Although the consensus mark for quarterly earnings has moved up 3.9% in the last 30 days to $1.88 per share, it projects a 6.5% drop from the year-ago quarter’s reported number.That said, DICK'S Sporting’s top line is expected to rise year over year. The consensus mark for quarterly revenues is pegged at $2,422 million, which suggests slight growth of 0.4% from the figure reported in the prior-year quarter. DKS’s stock has rallied 18.8% in the past three months compared with the industry’s growth of 9%. Tech IPOs With Massive Profit Potential: Last years top IPOs surged as much as 299% within the first two months. With record amounts of cash flooding into IPOs and a record-setting stock market, this year could be even more lucrative. See Zacks’ Hottest Tech IPOs Now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc. (DKS): Free Stock Analysis Report Tyson Foods, Inc. (TSN): Free Stock Analysis Report United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI): Free Stock Analysis Report Greenlane Holdings, Inc. (GNLN): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 11th, 2021

Restaurants are scrambling to find plastic cups, straws, and takeout containers as demand swells for to-go orders

The plastic shortage is a result of soaring demand, labor shortages, supply-chain hiccups, and storms in Texas earlier this year Restaurants are struggling to source plastic products. Carolyn Kaster/AP Restaurants are still facing a shortage of takeout containers, plastic cups, and straws. It's a side effect of the labor crunch, supply chain hiccups, and soaring demand. But it's also the result of the Texas storms, which severely impacted the plastics industry. The restaurant industry is facing a shortage of plastic, the latest side effect of soaring demand, labor shortages, supply-chain hiccups, and storms in Texas earlier this year. Restaurants are struggling to source plastic cups, straws, and takeout containers, as well as paper products like takeout packaging, amid growing demand for to-go orders. It has led many in the industry to scrounge for items like clear iced coffee cups and straws and pay higher prices to ensure adequate supplies, CNBC's Amelia Lucas reported."There was such a shortage that people said, 'I don't care about the price, just send it to me,'" David Pokorny, who works for food-service packaging distributor Imperial Dade, told CNBC. Foodservice distributor US Foods told CNBC that it has had to take "aggressive steps" to mitigate the effects of the labor crunch and supply shortfalls, and that it may have to adjust orders for some of its customers due to "local challenges." These issues have been hampering small businesses for months. Insider's Mary Meisenzahl reported in August that small, non-chain restaurants were having difficulty sourcing takeout containers because they were competing with larger chains. Katy Arena, the owner of Katy's Cafe in Ellicottville, New York, told Insider at the time that she was having trouble finding to-go boxes, plastic cups, and plastic lids, and that she was ordering items and never receiving them. Another coffee-shop owner told the Hot Springs Sentinel Record that he's seen prices for cups, lids, and other types of packaging jump upwards of 50% in the last year. These issues come as to-go orders are booming across the restaurant industry. At Starbucks, a rise in mobile orders has led to long lines and frustrated customers; at Chipotle, workers report a near-constant backlog of takeout orders in the queue. According to NPD Group data cited by CNBC, take-out orders from restaurants increased 20% in September versus the same period in 2019. While high demand, increased shipping-container prices, backed-up ports, and issues filling vacant jobs are all contributing to the supply crunch, the Texas storms are also partially to blame. A surprise winter freeze struck the Gulf Coast in February, shutting down petrochemical plants in Texas, one of the largest exporters of plastics. Getting the plants back online was a challenging process that in some cases lasted months. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that prices for polyethylene and polypropylene, two widely used plastics, were seeing their biggest jump in a decade. Perc Pineda, chief economist for the Plastics Industry Association, wrote in June that February's weather was "crippling supply" after it caused production of resin - a core plastic ingredient - to drop by 25% from the month prior.A shortage of takeout containers isn't the only side effect of the Texas freeze. Propylene oxide is also a key ingredient in polyurethane foam, which is used in products like couches and mattresses, as well as the seats in cars. The ice storm shutting down those plants also hindered the foam industry, and while production has returned to normal levels, the industry still hasn't quite caught up to demand. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 9th, 2021

Courageous LA County Sheriff Tells The Truth About COVID Vax Mandates

Courageous LA County Sheriff Tells The Truth About COVID Vax Mandates Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, The battle over the attempted forced vaccination of 100% of the American population regardless of scientific reason or prudence has brought out the absolute worst within a certain group of people in our society. They are showing their true colors as the authoritarians they really are, desperately clamoring for the power to compel people they don’t know or care about to submit to an experimental covid “vaccine” with no long term testing to prove its safety. I noted this trend in detail in my recent article ‘Noam Chomsky Goes Off The Deep End – Proving All Socialism Leads To Tyranny’, and I have to say, there are some folks out there that are shockingly monstrous just under the surface. It makes one realize how the dictatorships and genocides of the 20th Century were made possible. Historians tend to blame the idea of the “charismatic dictator” for the rise of totalitarianism within any given culture, as if all it takes is a single well dressed and well spoken figure with the ability to manipulate the emotional output of the masses into doing things they would not otherwise do. This is a fantasy. In reality, dictators and oligarchs cannot come to power without the avid support of a certain subset of the population that WANTS and LOVES tyranny. That is to say, authoritarians in government appeal to the rotten core of the worst of humanity – the sociopaths, the narcissists, the psychopaths, the control freaks and micromanagers. They work hand-in-hand with the aberrant and the fearful, the deceitful and the grotesque, and they align with such people to make it appear as though authoritarianism is an overwhelming desire of the majority when it is actually the deviant thirst of an aggressive minority. Of course, as in physics, there is no action within human society without an equal and opposite reaction. Just as the covid mandates have brought out the worst in some people, they have also brought out the best in others. The people who love and respect logic, reason and individual liberty are massing. We are legion, and I have been consistently surprised at how many of us there are within government institutions including law enforcement. The Sheriff of LA County, Alex Villanueva, proved his courage this week with a public media address covering the destructive effects of the covid mandates on his own department, using cold hard data to show that thousands of personnel and deputies, 30% of the Sheriff’s department, will be leaving or will be forced out of work by LA County if the vaccine mandates move forward in January. He also faced down a torrent of some of the dumbest and most vitriolic questions I have ever heard from a crowd of clearly biased “journalists” (i.e. leftist activists) scrambling to cast doubt on the sheriff and his data. I recommend watching Sheriff Villanueva’s even handed and rational presentation in full here: Keep in mind that the Sheriff is a vaccinated person, but he continues to defend the rights of his deputies to make personal informed decisions on the jab. Being anti-mandate does not mean a person is necessarily “anti-vax”. I think the sheriff did an admirable job presenting his case so I won’t rehash it here. However, what I do want to talk about is some of the INSANE rhetoric coming form the reporters in the crowd as they tried to confront and brow-beat him on his information and personal stance. There were some facts that the Sheriff put forward that the media seemed to be especially triggered by, so let’s talk about these issues for a moment… Covid Mandates Are Not Laws Multiple leftist reporters were extremely perturbed by the notion that Sheriff Department personnel could be “allowed” to defy the mandates at all. This was perhaps the most revealing line of questioning from the media, showcasing their complete lack of knowledge on constitutional law and their inherent hunger for control. Primarily, the questioning asserted that deputies and other staff would be “breaking the law” by refusing to comply with the mandates, and the media compared non-compliance with the jab to criminal non-compliance with a traffic stop. Sheriff Villanueva rightly reminded reporters that covid mandates are NOT laws. The reporters didn’t seem to understand. One of them even suggested that this argument was “semantics”. No, it is not semantics. If mandates are “laws”, then our country’s legal system should be done away with entirely and all decisions should be made from on high by executive fiat, making people like Biden and his handlers dictators by default. Laws are passed by legislatures or voted on by the citizenry in the US. The vax mandates are what is called “Color of Law”; they are dictates passed down by executive order or through bureaucracy with no checks and balances and are presented as laws when they are not. There is no allowance for “mandates” in the US Constitution, and I would also remind covid cultists that there is also no allowance for “emergency powers” within the Bill of Rights. The government does not get to wake up one day and decide which rights you are allowed to have and which rights you are not allowed to have based on their arbitrary perception of a national emergency. Our rights our sacrosanct and not subject to the whims of government. One reporter asks if the Sheriff is supporting the idea that people should be allowed to pick and choose which laws they want to obey. The Sheriff says of course not, but this question is disingenuous at its core and assumes that “laws” are sacred in and of themselves. If a law is unconstitutional and immoral, then yes, each person absolutely has the right to shrug off that law. Laws do not matter. All that matters is what is right and what is wrong. One would hope that our society’s laws will reflect our society’s values and principles, but sometimes they stand in direct opposition to our moral compass. Covid mandates are not laws, and even if they were they would be both unconstitutional and immoral laws that do not deserve our respect. There is nothing wrong with refusing to obey an illegal and immoral order. Covid Cultists Don’t Think People Should Be Allowed To Leave Their Jobs Without Punishment I always thought that losing one’s job WAS supposed to be the punishment for being unvaxxed. Apparently this is not enough for the covid cultists. Reporters insinuate that people who don’t comply with the vax should be criminally prosecuted under the mandates (which are not laws), just as a person would be criminally prosecuted for not complying with a deputy during a traffic stop. This confirms my suspicion that leftists did not expect such a large number of people to risk their jobs to defy the mandates. Leftists and pro-authoritarians have no concept of valuing principles over one’s own comfort or safety, and so the large national opposition to the mandates has caught them off guard. Now they are facing the prospect that THEY will have to suffer real world consequences for their support of vax authoritarianism, and the leftists don’t like that. The Sheriff logically outlines the facts on the ground in terms of personnel and how many will be leaving or will be fired due to the mandates, and the numbers hit hard. With at least 30% of the department gone, law enforcement in LA County will be effectively crippled. They are already short-staffed as it is because of the LA County Board Of Supervisors and their woke agenda to “defund the police”. Suddenly, losing their police force is not sitting well with those same woke activists. The media was very aggressive in trying to cast doubt on the idea that many deputies and staff were leaving because of the mandates, which the Sheriff squashed immediately by making it clear that the losses could only be attributed to vax requirements and any other suggestion would be disingenuous. The bottom line is this: The system as we know it will shut down if the mandates are enforced. This is why Joe Biden and friends are waiting to enforce the mandates until AFTER the Christmas season. They know that businesses and industries across the board will be hobbled by the loss of 30% or more of their workers and that many government institutions will be unable to function with the loss of 10% of staff, let alone 30% or more. The media is already trying to paint the narrative that people forced out of their jobs because of the mandates are the BAD GUYS, not the victims. This is classic leftist gaslighting. They attack the population with their edicts, they offer a non-choice in terms of compliance, and then when a large number of people choose to make sacrifices rather than submit, the authoritarians label those people “criminals.” In other words, the message is: “Because you will not submit to my tyranny, you are hurting society. Your lack of submission to my authoritarianism is an attack on me and the greater good.” The Narrative Is More Important To Covid Cultists Than The Facts Reporters then argued that the Sheriff should be “evangelizing” for the vaccines instead of giving such a presentation. I find this use of language interesting. I have long said that pro-vaxxers are a kind of cult that ignores the science and has turned the national medical response into a political witch hunt against conservatives and liberty minded people. The media thinks the Sheriff of LA County should be “evangelizing” to his staff, which means they want him to stop publicly sharing data that disagrees with their religion because it could derail what they believe to be a “righteous crusade”. But the vax mandates have nothing to do with public health and everything to do with public control. Sheriff Villanueva rightly points out that people who are vaccinated should not be worried about the vax status of the person next to them. As I have argued over and over again ever since the vaccines were introduced: If the vaccines work then the unvaccinated pose no threat whatsoever to the vaccinated. If they don’t work, then why are they trying to mandate them in the first place? Vaccinated people still actively spread the virus. Highly vaccinated countries like Israel have the highest infection rates in the world. Vaccinated people make up the bulk of hospitalizations and deaths in majority vaccinated countries. Unvaccinated people who have natural immunity are up to 27 times more protected from covid than people who take the vaccines. These are the facts. Furthermore, the media absolutely refuses to openly discuss the actual death rate of the covid virus. The median Infection Fatality Rate of covid is a mere 0.27% according to the medical establishment and numerous peer reviewed studies. Who are the unvaxxed a threat to? 0.2% of the population? Why don’t those people take the vax and leave the rest of us alone? Does the science not matter anymore? There is no evidence that shows that the unvaccinated pose a threat to anyone. None. Zero. Yet, covid cultists are calling for the unvaxxed to suffer joblessness, poverty and possibly criminal prosecution for refusing to comply. This is madness, and when you allow insane people to take control of your society, collapse is sure to follow. I suspect that the media will attempt to bury this presentation by Sheriff Villanueva because it destroys the narrative that an overwhelming majority of law enforcement and other government employees are on board with the vax mandates. It also runs contrary to a number of lies surrounding the justifications for the experimental vaccines in general. Finally, the media reaction is so ridiculous and unhinged that one immediately sees the difference between the covid cult and a normal rational person like the Sheriff. They come off as zealots while he presents as wise. I applaud his reserve and calm demeanor in the face of such rabid stupidity, and I applaud his bravery in standing for truth in an era when truth is vilified. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/08/2021 - 13:10.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 8th, 2021

The monthly jobs report moves markets, policy, and headlines - but the picture has been distorted by reported figures that haven"t kept up with reality

Insider calculates that final revisions since May 2020 add 1.2 million jobs to the economy, but the media and political discourse hasn't caught up. President Joe Biden. Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images Friday's October jobs report showed an economy that is pretty good, adding 531,000 jobs. It revised the figures upward from August and September, too. Preliminary figures have been coming in below revisions, resulting in warped discourse - and policy. This fall, President Joe Biden "gambled" that cutting off federal unemployment benefits would get Americans back to work and help end the labor shortage, but September data "blew a hole" through that strategy.Except it actually didn't.This spring, Biden's recovery was "stumbling," as April data showed how experts had "badly misjudge(d)" the labor-market recovery.Except it wasn't, really.All of the quotes above come from Insider headlines on the September and April jobs reports, respectively. They were entirely accurate at the time, but they were based on preliminary data that were substantially revised in subsequent months. The problem is the preliminary data have come to dominate markets and policy-making. By the time the complete data comes in, it's often too late to change a major policy decision.Take the issue of unemployment benefits. When the April report came in at 266,000 payrolls, a huge miss from economist estimates of close to a million, Republican governors across the country seized on it as direct evidence that those benefits were too generous and keeping workers on the sidelines.In the ensuing months, more than half the country ended the benefit early, cutting millions off from pandemic-relief aid in June, with the other 24 states retaining it through September. The data showed no direct link between the end of this relief and an end to the labor shortage. Through October, more than 7 million Americans are still out of work and record levels of around 4 million workers are quitting their jobs every month.Biden and his Labor Secretary, Marty Walsh, chose not to oppose the 25 Republican governors (and one Democrat, in heavy red state Louisiana) who ended the benefit, even though some workers brought lawsuits that convinced judges to reinstate benefits in select states. The October report blows a hole through the argument that Biden's gamble was a losing one, revising August's figure of 235,000 up to 366,000, and September's figure of 194,000 to 312,000. Going back to the beginning of the recovery last May, the revisions add a whopping 1.2 million jobs to the preliminary figures.The chart below shows the difference between the final revised figures and the original preliminary figures from May 2020 through August 2021. As you can see, the economy has consistently produced more jobs than it looked like at first, under both Trump and Biden:!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 5th, 2021

Predators With Badges: The Sex Traffickers On America"s Police Forces

Predators With Badges: The Sex Traffickers On America's Police Forces Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “Sexual predation by police officers happens far more often than people in the business are willing to admit.” - Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper We are a nation on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Undeniably, the blowback from COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates continues to reverberate around the country, impacting the nation’s struggling workplaces, choking the economy and justifying all manner of authoritarian tyrannies being inflicted on the populace by state and federal governments. Yet while it is easy to be distracted by political theater, distressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and divided over authoritarian lockdowns and mandates, there are still darker forces afoot that cannot—should not—must not be ignored. Here’s a news flash for you: there are sexual predators on America’s police forces. Indeed, when it comes to sex trafficking—the buying and selling of young girls, boys and women for sex—police have become both predators and pimps. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, “Hundreds of police officers across the country have turned from protectors to predators, using the power of their badge to extort sex.” Victims of sex trafficking report that police are among those “buying” young girls and women for sex. Incredibly, this COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in even greater numbers of children being preyed upon by sex traffickers. Unfortunately, rather than being part of the solution, America’s police forces—riddled with corruption, brutality, sexual misconduct and drug abuse—have largely become part of the problem. In New York, for instance, seven NYPD cops—three sergeants, two detectives and two officers—were accused of running brothels that sold 15-minute sexual encounters, raking in more than $2 million over the course of 13 months. In California, a police sergeant—a 16-year veteran of the police force—was arrested for raping a 16-year-old girl who was being held captive and sold for sex in a home in an upscale neighborhood. A week-long sting in Florida ended with 277 arrests of individuals accused of sex trafficking, including doctors, pharmacists and police officers. Sex trafficking victims in Hawaii described “cops asking for sexual favors to more coercive situations like I'll let you go if you do X, Y, or Z for me.” One study found that “over 14 percent of sex workers said that they had been threatened with arrest unless they had sex with a police officer.” In many states, it’s actually legal for police to have sex with prostitutes during the course of sting operations. While the problem of cops engaged in sex trafficking is part of the American police state’s seedy underbelly that doesn’t get addressed enough, equally alarming is the number of cops who commit sex crimes against those they encounter as part of their job duties, a largely underreported number given the “blue wall of silence” that shields police misconduct. Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper describes cases in which cops fondled prisoners, made false traffic stops of attractive women, traded sexual favors for freedom, had sex with teenagers and raped children. Young girls are particularly vulnerable to these predators in blue. Former police officer Phil Stinson estimates that half of the victims of police sex crimes are minors under the age of eighteen. According to The Washington Post, a national study found that 40 percent of reported cases of police sexual misconduct involved teens. One young woman was assaulted during a "ride along" with an officer, who said in a taped confession: “The badge gets you the p---y and the p---y gets your badge, you know?” For example, a Pennsylvania police chief and his friend were arrested for allegedly raping a young girl hundreds of times—orally, vaginally, and anally several times a week—over the course of seven years, starting when she was 4 years old. In 2017, two NYPD cops were accused of arresting a teenager, handcuffing her, and driving her in an unmarked van to a nearby parking lot, where they raped her and forced her to perform oral sex on them, then dropped her off on a nearby street corner. The New York Times reports that “a sheriff’s deputy in San Antonio was charged with sexually assaulting the 4-year-old daughter of an undocumented Guatemalan woman and threatening to have her deported if she reported the abuse.” One young girl, J.E., was kidnapped by a Border Patrol agent when she was 14 years old, taken to his apartment and raped. “In the apartment, there were two beds on top of the other, children’s bunk beds, and ropes there, too. They were shoelaces. For my wrists and my feet. My mind was blank,” recalls J.E. “I was trying to understand everything. I didn’t know what to do. My feet were tied up. I would look at him and he had a gun. And that frightened me. I asked him why, and he answered me that he was doing this to me because I was the prettiest one of the three.” Two teenage girls accused a Customs and Border Protection officer of forcing them to strip, fondling them, then trying to get them to stop crying by offering chocolates, potato chips and a blanket. The government settled the case for $125,000. (Mind you, this is the same government that separated immigrant children from their parents and locked them up in detention centers, where they were easy prey for sexual predators. At one point, the government had received more than 4500 complaints about sexual abuse at those child detention facilities.) The police state’s sexual assaults of children are sickening enough, but when you add sex crimes against grown women into the mix, the picture becomes even more sordid. According to The Washington Post, “research on ‘police sexual misconduct’—a term used to describe actions from sexual harassment and extortion to forcible rape by officers—overwhelmingly concludes that it is a systemic problem.” Investigative journalist Andrea Ritchie has tracked national patterns of sexual violence by police officers during traffic stops, in addition to heightened risk from minor offenses, drug arrests and police interactions with teenagers. Victims of domestic abuse, women of color, transgender women, women who use drugs or alcohol, and women involved in the sex trade are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault by police. One Oklahoma City police officer allegedly sexually assaulted at least seven women while on duty over the course of four months, including a 57-year-old grandmother who says she was forced to give the cop oral sex after he pulled her over. A Philadelphia state trooper, eventually convicted of assaulting six women and teenagers, once visited the hospital bedside of a pregnant woman who had attempted suicide, and groped her breasts and masturbated. These aren’t isolated incidents. According to research from Bowling Green State University, police officers in the U.S. were charged with more than 400 rapes over a 9-year period. During that same time period, 600 police officers were arrested for forcible fondling; 219 were charged with forcible sodomy; 186 were arrested for statutory rape; 58 for sexual assault with an object; and 98 with indecent exposure. Sexual assault is believed to be the second-most reported form of misconduct against police officers after the use of excessive force, making up more than 9% of all complaints. Even so, these crimes are believed to be largely underreported so much so that sex crimes may in fact be the number one form of misconduct among police officers. So why are the numbers underreported? “The women are terrified. Who are they going to call? It's the police who are abusing them,” said Penny Harrington, the former police chief of Portland, Ore. One Philadelphia cop threatened to arrest a teenager for carjacking unless she had sex with him. “He had all the power. I had no choice,” testified the girl. “Who was I? He had his badge.” This is the danger of a police state that invests its henchmen with so much power that they don’t even need to use handcuffs or a gun to get what they want. Making matters worse, most police departments do little to identify the offenders, and even less to stop them. “Unlike other types of police misconduct, the abuse of police power to coerce sex is little addressed in training, and rarely tracked by police disciplinary systems,” conclude Nancy Phillips and Craig R. McCoy writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer. “This official neglect makes it easier for predators to escape punishment and find new victims.” Unfortunately, this is a problem that is hiding in plain sight, covered up by government agencies that are failing in their constitutional duties to serve and protect “we the people.” That thin blue line of knee-jerk adulation and absolute loyalty to police above and beyond what the law requires is creating a menace to society that cannot be ignored. As researcher Jonathan Blanks notes, “The system is rigged to protect police officers from outside accountability. The worst cops are going to get the most protection.” Hyped up on the power of the badge and their weaponry, protected from charges of wrongdoing by police unions and government agencies, and empowered by rapidly advancing tools—technological and otherwise—that make it all too easy to identify, track and take advantage of vulnerable members of society, predators on the nation’s police forces are growing in number. “It can start with a police officer punching a woman's license plate into a police computer - not to see whether a car is stolen, but to check out her picture,” warns investigative journalists Nancy Phillips and Craig R. McCoy. “If they are not caught, or left unpunished, the abusers tend to keep going, and get worse, experts say.” So where does this leave us? The courts, by allowing the government’s desire for unregulated, unaccountable, expansive power to trump justice and the rule of law, have turned away from this menace. Politicians, eager for the support of the powerful police unions, have turned away from this menace. Police unions, which have been at the forefront of the effort to shield sexual misconduct by cops, have exacerbated this menace. Yet for the sake of the most vulnerable among us, we as a nation must stop turning away from this menace in our midst. For starters, police should not be expected—or allowed—to police themselves. Misconduct by local police has become a national problem. Therefore, the response to this national problem must start at the local level. This is no longer a matter of a few bad apples. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the entire system has become corrupted and must be reformed. Greater oversight is needed, yes, but also greater accountability and more significant consequences for assaults. Andrea Ritchie’s piece in The Washington Post provides some practical suggestions for reform ranging from small steps to structural changes (greater surveillance of police movements, heightened scrutiny of police interactions and traffic stops, and more civilian oversight boards), but as she acknowledges, these efforts still don’t strike at the root of the problem: a criminal justice system that protects abusers and encourages abuse. It’s difficult to say whether modern-day policing with its deep-seated corruption, immunity from accountability, and authoritarian approach to law enforcement attracts this kind of deviant behavior or cultivates it, but empowering police to view themselves as the best, or even the only, solution to the public’s problems, while failing to hold them accountable for misconduct, will only deepen the policing crisis that grows deadlier and more menacing by the day. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/03/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 3rd, 2021