Elon Musk"s viral Chinese doppelgänger Yilong Ma has been suspended from China"s versions of TikTok and Twitter

Musk just last week expressed his desire to meet Yilong Ma — a Chinese man who went viral for bearing a striking resemblance to him. Yilong Ma (left) is best known for being Elon Musk's (right) Chinese doppelgänger — but he got suspended on China's Weibo and Douyin this week.MaYiLong/TikTok; Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images Elon Musk's Chinese doppelgänger Yilong Ma has been suspended on Chinese social media. Insider saw that his accounts on China's TikTok and Twitter were wiped clean at press time. Musk previously expressed a desire to meet Ma in person after the latter went viral on social media. Elon Musk's viral Chinese doppelgänger Yilong Ma appears to have been suspended on the Chinese versions of TikTok and Twitter. At press time, Insider saw that Ma's page on Douyin – China's version of TikTok – had been purged of all content. Meanwhile, a content restriction notification citing a violation of the platform's policies was slapped on Ma's page on Weibo, the country's Twitter-like platform. Representatives from Douyin's parent company Bytedance and Weibo's parent company Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider. Ma himself also did not immediately reply to a request for comment from Insider. At press time, Ma's page on the international version of TikTok, where he is known by the username "Elong Musk," was still active. Ma has just over 239,000 followers on the platform, with around 3.9 million likes on his videos. "All platform videos are ported, I only have TikTok. I love you," read the profile description on Ma's TikTok page. "Ma first went viral on China's version of TikTok, Douyin, in November 2020 for videos that appeared to show a striking resemblance to Musk. He later attracted the attention of Musk when the Tesla and SpaceX CEO quipped in response to a clip of Ma that he, too, may be "partly Chinese."Ma subsequently uploaded several videos on TikTok, including one where he expressed — in broken English — his thoughts on Musk's high-profile acquisition of Twitter. In this clip, he points excitedly at a printout of the Twitter icon, calling it "my bird!" @mayilong0 This is a free bird. I like him and I'm going to go to him right now. Because Elon Musk is my brother#elonmusk #tesla #twitter ♬ dance(256762) - TimTaj Ma's latest video on TikTok is a photo compilation of him posing in front of a Tesla, captioned: "I want to take my brother for a ride in my Tesla! #elonmusk #tesla."  @mayilong0 I want to take my brother for a ride in my Tesla!#elonmusk #tesla ♬ GASLIGHT - INJI  Ma's popularity later led to the Tesla CEO saying that he would like to meet Ma in the flesh if he proves to be a real person. "I'd like to meet this guy (if he is real). Hard to tell with deepfakes these days," Musk tweeted."I am here. I want very much to see you too! I love you, you are my hero," Ma wrote in response to the billionaire in a post on Weibo. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 19th, 2022

Elon Musk"s viral Chinese doppelgänger Yilong Ma has been suspended from China"s versions of TikTok and Twitter

Musk just last week expressed his desire to meet Yilong Ma — a Chinese man who went viral for bearing a striking resemblance to him. Yilong Ma (left) is best known for being Elon Musk's (right) Chinese doppelgänger — but he got suspended on China's Weibo and Douyin this week.MaYiLong/TikTok; Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images Elon Musk's Chinese doppelgänger Yilong Ma has been suspended on Chinese social media. Insider saw that his accounts on China's TikTok and Twitter were wiped clean at press time. Musk previously expressed a desire to meet Ma in person after the latter went viral on social media. Elon Musk's viral Chinese doppelgänger Yilong Ma appears to have been suspended on the Chinese versions of TikTok and Twitter. At press time, Insider saw that Ma's page on Douyin – China's version of TikTok – had been purged of all content. Meanwhile, a content restriction notification citing a violation of the platform's policies was slapped on Ma's page on Weibo, the country's Twitter-like platform. Representatives from Douyin's parent company Bytedance and Weibo's parent company Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider. Ma himself also did not immediately reply to a request for comment from Insider. At press time, Ma's page on the international version of TikTok, where he is known by the username "Elong Musk," was still active. Ma has just over 239,000 followers on the platform, with around 3.9 million likes on his videos. "All platform videos are ported, I only have TikTok. I love you," read the profile description on Ma's TikTok page. "Ma first went viral on China's version of TikTok, Douyin, in November 2020 for videos that appeared to show a striking resemblance to Musk. He later attracted the attention of Musk when the Tesla and SpaceX CEO quipped in response to a clip of Ma that he, too, may be "partly Chinese."Ma subsequently uploaded several videos on TikTok, including one where he expressed — in broken English — his thoughts on Musk's high-profile acquisition of Twitter. In this clip, he points excitedly at a printout of the Twitter icon, calling it "my bird!" @mayilong0 This is a free bird. I like him and I'm going to go to him right now. Because Elon Musk is my brother#elonmusk #tesla #twitter ♬ dance(256762) - TimTaj Ma's latest video on TikTok is a photo compilation of him posing in front of a Tesla, captioned: "I want to take my brother for a ride in my Tesla! #elonmusk #tesla."  @mayilong0 I want to take my brother for a ride in my Tesla!#elonmusk #tesla ♬ GASLIGHT - INJI  Ma's popularity later led to the Tesla CEO saying that he would like to meet Ma in the flesh if he proves to be a real person. "I'd like to meet this guy (if he is real). Hard to tell with deepfakes these days," Musk tweeted."I am here. I want very much to see you too! I love you, you are my hero," Ma wrote in response to the billionaire in a post on Weibo. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 19th, 2022

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2020, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as there "could not have been more regime shifts, volatility moments, and memes than 2020." And yet despite the exceedingly high bar for 2021, the year did not disappoint and proved to be a successful contender, and if judging by the sheer breadth of narratives, stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments, 2021 was even more memorable and event-filled than 2020. Where does one start? While covid was the story of 2020, the pandemic that emerged out of a (Fauci-funded) genetic lab team in Wuhan, China dominated newsflow, politics and capital markets for the second year in a row. And while the biggest plot twist of 2020 was Biden's victory over Trump in the presidential election (it took the pandemic lockdowns and mail-in ballots to hand the outcome to Biden), largely thanks to Covid, Biden failed to hold to his biggest presidential promise of defeating covid, and not only did he admit in late 2021 that there is "no Federal solution" to covid waving a white flag of surrender less than a year into his presidency, but following the recent emergence of the Xi, pardon Omicron variant, the number of covid cases in the US has just shattered all records. The silver lining is not only that deaths and hospitalizations have failed to follow the number of cases, but that the scaremongering narrative itself is starting to melt in response to growing grassroots discontent with vaccine after vaccine and booster after booster, which by now it is clear, do nothing to contain the pandemic. And now that it is clear that omicron is about as mild as a moderate case of the flu, the hope has finally emerged that this latest strain will finally kill off the pandemic as it becomes the dominant, rapidly-spreading variant, leading to worldwide herd immunity thanks to the immune system's natural response. Yes, it may mean billions less in revenue for Pfizer and Moderna, but it will be a colossal victory for the entire world. The second biggest story of 2021 was undoubtedly the scourge of soaring inflation, which contrary to macrotourist predictions that it would prove "transitory", refused to do so and kept rising, and rising, and rising, until it hit levels not seen since the Volcker galloping inflation days of the 1980s. The only difference of course is that back then, the Fed Funds rate hit 20%. Now it is at 0%, and any attempts to hike aggressively will lead to a horrific market crash, something the Fed knows very well. Whether this was due to supply-chain blockages and a lack of goods and services pushing prices higher, or due to massive stimulus pushing demand for goods - and also prices - higher, or simply the result of a record injection of central bank liquidity into the system, is irrelevant but what does matter is that it got so bad that even Biden, facing a mauling for his Democratic party in next year's midterm elections, freaked out about soaring prices and pushed hard to lower the price of gasoline, ordering releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and vowing to punish energy companies that dare to make a profit, while ordering Powell to contain the surge in prices even if means the market is hit. Unfortunately for Biden, the market will be hit even as inflation still remain red hot for much of the coming year. And speaking of markets, while 2022 may be a year when the piper finally gets paid, 2021 was yet another blockbuster year for risk assets, largely on the back of the continued global response to the 2020 covid pandemic, when as we wrote last year, we saw "the official arrival of global Helicopter Money, tens of trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus, an overhaul of the global economy punctuated by an unprecedented explosion in world debt, an Orwellian crackdown on civil liberties by governments everywhere, and ultimately set the scene for what even the World Economic Forum called simply "The Great Reset." Yes, the staggering liquidity injections that started in 2020, continued throughout 2021 and the final tally is that after $3 trillion in emergency liquidity injections in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic to stabilize the world, the Fed injected almost $2 trillion in the subsequent period, of which $1.5 trillion in 2021, a year where economists were "puzzled" why inflation was soaring. This, of course, excludes the tens of trillions of monetary stimulus injected by other central banks as well as the boundless fiscal stimulus that was greenlighted with the launch of helicopter money (i.e., MMT) in 2020. It's also why with inflation running red hot and real rates the lowest they have ever been, everyone was forced to rush into the "safety" of stocks (or stonks as they came to be known among GenZ), and why after last year's torrid stock market returns, the S&P rose another 27% in 2021 and up a staggering 114% from the March 2020 lows, in the process trouncing all previous mega-rallies (including those in 1929, 1938, 1974 and 2009)... ... making this the third consecutive year of double-digit returns. This reminds us of something we said last year: "it's almost as if the world's richest asset owners requested the covid pandemic." A year later, we got confirmation for this rhetorical statement, when we calculated that in the 18 months since the covid pandemic, the richest 1% of US society have seen their net worth increase by over $30 trillion. As a result, the US is now officially a banana republic where the middle 60% of US households by income - a measure economists use as a definition of the middle class - saw their combined assets drop from 26.7% to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. Yes, the 1% now own more wealth than the entire US middle class, a definition traditionally reserve for kleptocracies and despotic African banana republics. It wasn't just the rich, however: politicians the world over would benefit from the transition from QE to outright helicopter money and MMT which made the over monetization of deficits widely accepted in the blink of an eye. The common theme here is simple: no matter what happens, capital markets can never again be allowed to drop, regardless of the cost or how much more debt has to be incurred. Indeed, as we look back at the news barrage over the past year, and past decade for that matter, the one thing that becomes especially clear amid the constant din of markets, of politics, of social upheaval and geopolitical strife - and now pandemics -  in fact a world that is so flooded with constant conflicting newsflow and changing storylines that many now say it has become virtually impossible to even try to predict the future, is that despite the people's desire for change, for something original and untried, the world's established forces will not allow it and will fight to preserve the broken status quo at any price - even global coordinated shutdowns - which is perhaps why it always boils down to one thing - capital markets, that bedrock of Western capitalism and the "modern way of life", where control, even if it means central planning the likes of which have not been seen since the days of the USSR, and an upward trajectory must be preserved at all costs, as the alternative is a global, socio-economic collapse. And since it is the daily gyrations of stocks that sway popular moods the interplay between capital markets and politics has never been more profound or more consequential. The more powerful message here is the implicit realization and admission by politicians, not just Trump who had a penchant of tweeting about the S&P every time it rose, but also his peers on both sides of the aisle, that the stock market is now seen as the consummate barometer of one's political achievements and approval. Which is also why capital markets are now, more than ever, a political tool whose purpose is no longer to distribute capital efficiently and discount the future, but to manipulate voter sentiments far more efficiently than any fake Russian election interference attempt ever could. Which brings us back to 2021 and the past decade, which was best summarized by a recent Bill Blain article who said that "the last 10-years has been a story of massive central banking distortion to address the 2008 crisis. Now central banks face the consequences and are trapped. The distortion can’t go uncorrected indefinitely." He is right: the distortion will eventually collapse especially if the Fed follows through with its attempt rate hikes some time in mid-2020, but so far the establishment and the "top 1%" have been successful - perhaps the correct word is lucky - in preserving the value of risk assets: on the back of the Fed's firehose of liquidity the S&P500 returned an impressive 27% in 2021, following a 15.5% return in 2020 and 28.50% in 2019. It did so by staging the greatest rally off all time from the March lows, surpassing all of the 4 greatest rallies off the lows of the past century (1929,1938, 1974, and 2009). Yet this continued can-kicking by the establishment - all of which was made possible by the covid pandemic and lockdowns which served as an all too convenient scapegoat for the unprecedented response that served to propel risk assets (and fiat alternatives such as gold and bitcoin) to all time highs - has come with a price... and an increasingly higher price in fact. As even Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett admits, Fed's response to the the pandemic "worsened inequality" as the value of financial assets - Wall Street -  relative to economy - Main Street - hit all-time high of 6.3x. And while the Fed was the dynamo that has propelled markets higher ever since the Lehman collapse, last year certainly had its share of breakout moments. Here is a sampling. Gamestop and the emergence of meme stonks and the daytrading apes: In January markets were hypnotized by the massive trading volumes, rolling short squeezes and surging share prices of unremarkable established companies such as consoles retailer GameStop and cinema chain AMC and various other micro and midcap names. What began as a discussion on untapped value at GameStop on Reddit months earlier by Keith Gill, better known as Roaring Kitty, morphed into a hedge fund-orchestrated, crowdsourced effort to squeeze out the short position held by a hedge fund, Melvin Capital. The momentum flooded through the retail market, where daytraders shunned stocks and bought massive out of the money calls, sparking rampant "gamma squeezes" in the process forcing some brokers to curb trading. Robinhood, a popular broker for day traders and Citadel's most lucrative "subsidiary", required a cash injection to withstand the demands placed on it by its clearing house. The company IPOed later in the year only to see its shares collapse as it emerged its business model was disappointing hollow absent constant retail euphoria. Ultimately, the market received a crash course in the power of retail investors on a mission. Ultimately, "retail favorite" stocks ended the year on a subdued note as the trading frenzy from earlier in the year petered out, but despite underperforming the S&P500, retail traders still outperformed hedge funds by more than 100%. Failed seven-year Treasury auction:  Whereas auctions of seven-year US government debt generally spark interest only among specialists, on on February 25 2021, one such typically boring event sparked shockwaves across financial markets, as the weakest demand on record hit prices across the whole spectrum of Treasury bonds. The five-, seven- and 10-year notes all fell sharply in price. Researchers at the Federal Reserve called it a “flash event”; we called it a "catastrophic, tailing" auction, the closest thing the US has had to a failed Trasury auction. The flare-up, as the FT put it, reflects one of the most pressing investor concerns of the year: inflation. At the time, fund managers were just starting to realize that consumer price rises were back with a vengeance — a huge threat to the bond market which still remembers the dire days of the Volcker Fed when inflation was about as high as it is today but the 30Y was trading around 15%. The February auaction also illustrated that the world’s most important market was far less liquid and not as structurally robust as investors had hoped. It was an extreme example of a long-running issue: since the financial crisis the traditional providers of liquidity, a group of 24 Wall Street banks, have pulled back because of higher costs associated with post-2008 capital requirements, while leaving liquidity provision to the Fed. Those banks, in their reduced role, as well as the hedge funds and high-frequency traders that have stepped into their place, have tended to withdraw in moments of market volatility. Needless to say, with the Fed now tapering its record QE, we expect many more such "flash" episodes in the bond market in the year ahead. The arch ego of Archegos: In March 2021 several banks received a brutal reminder that some of family offices, which manage some $6 trillion in wealth of successful billionaires and entrepreneurs and which have minimal reporting requirements, take risks that would make the most serrated hedge fund manager wince, when Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management imploded in spectacular style. As we learned in late March when several high-flying stocks suddenly collapsed, Hwang - a former protege of fabled hedge fund group Tiger Management - had built up a vast pile of leverage using opaque Total Return Swaps with a handful of banks to boost bets on a small number of stocks (the same banks were quite happy to help despite Hwang’s having been barred from US markets in 2013 over allegations of an insider-trading scheme, as he paid generously for the privilege of borrowing the banks' balance sheet). When one of Archegos more recent bets, ViacomCBS, suddenly tumbled it set off a liquidation cascade that left banks including Credit Suisse and Nomura with billions of dollars in losses. Conveniently, as the FT noted, the damage was contained to the banks rather than leaking across financial markets, but the episode sparked a rethink among banks over how to treat these clients and how much leverage to extend. The second coming of cryptos: After hitting an all time high in late 2017 and subsequently slumping into a "crypto winter", cryptocurrencies enjoyed a huge rebound in early 2021 which sent their prices soaring amid fears of galloping inflation (as shown below, and contrary to some financial speculation, the crypto space has traditionally been a hedge either to too much liquidity or a hedge to too much inflation). As a result, Bitcoin rose to a series of new record highs that culminated at just below $62,000, nearly three times higher than their previous all time high. But the smooth ride came to a halt in May when China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency and its production, or “mining”, sparked the first serious crash of 2021. The price of bitcoin then collapsed as much as 30% on May 19, hitting a low of $30,000 amid a liquidation of levered positions in chaotic trading conditions following a warning from Chinese authorities of tighter curbs ahead. A public acceptance by Tesla chief and crypto cheerleader Elon Musk of the industry’s environmental impact added to the declines. However, as with all previous crypto crashes, this one too proved transitory, and prices resumed their upward trajectory in late September when investors started to price in the launch of futures-based bitcoin exchange traded funds in the US. The launch of these contracts subsequently pushed bitcoin to a new all-time high in early November before prices stumbled again in early December, this time due to a rise in institutional ownership when an overall drop in the market dragged down cryptos as well. That demonstrated the growing linkage between Wall Street and cryptocurrencies, due to the growing sway of large investors in digital markets. China's common prosperity crash: China’s education and tech sectors were one of the perennial Wall Street darlings. Companies such as New Oriental, TAL Education as well as Alibaba and Didi had come to be worth billions of dollars after highly publicized US stock market flotations. So when Beijing effectively outlawed swaths of the country’s for-profit education industry in July 2021, followed by draconian anti-trust regulations on the country's fintech names (where Xi Jinping also meant to teach the country's billionaire class a lesson who is truly in charge), the short-term market impact was brutal. Beijing’s initial measures emerged as part of a wider effort to make education more affordable as part of president Xi Jinping’s drive for "common prosperity" but that quickly raised questions over whether growth prospects across corporate China are countered by the capacity of the government to overhaul entire business models overnight. Sure enough, volatility stemming from the education sector was soon overshadowed by another set of government reforms related to common prosperity, a crackdown on leverage across the real estate sector where the biggest casualty was Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer. The company, whose boss was not long ago China's 2nd richest man, was engulfed by a liquidity crisis in the summer that eventually resulted in a default in early December. Still, as the FT notes, China continues to draw in huge amounts of foreign capital, pushing the Chinese yuan to end 2021 at the strongest level since May 2018, a major hurdle to China's attempts to kickstart its slowing economy, and surely a precursor to even more monetary easing. Natgas hyperinflation: Natural gas supplanted crude oil as the world’s most important commodity in October and December as prices exploded to unprecedented levels and the world scrambled for scarce supplies amid the developed world's catastrophic transition to "green" energy. The crunch was particularly acute in Europe, which has become increasingly reliant on imports. Futures linked to TTF, the region’s wholesale gas price, hit a record €137 per megawatt hour in early October, rising more than 75%. In Asia, spot liquefied natural gas prices briefly passed the equivalent of more than $320 a barrel of oil in October. (At the time, Brent crude was trading at $80). A number of factors contributed, including rising demand as pandemic restrictions eased, supply disruptions in the LNG market and weather-induced shortfalls in renewable energy. In Europe, this was aggravated by plunging export volumes from Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed monopoly pipeline supplier, amid a bitter political fight over the launch of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. And with delays to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, analysts say the European gas market - where storage is only 66% full - a cold snap or supply disruption away from another price spike Turkey's (latest) currency crisis:  As the FT's Jonathan Wheatley writes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once a source of strength for the Turkish lira, and in his first five years in power from 2003, the currency rallied from TL1.6 per US dollar to near parity at TL1.2. But those days are long gone, as Erdogan's bizarre fascination with unorthodox economics, namely the theory that lower rates lead to lower inflation also known as "Erdoganomics", has sparked a historic collapse in the: having traded at about TL7 to the dollar in February, it has since fallen beyond TL17, making it the worst performing currency of 2021. The lira’s defining moment in 2021 came on November 18 when the central bank, in spite of soaring inflation, cut its policy rate for the third time since September, at Erdogan’s behest (any central banker in Turkey who disagrees with "Erdoganomics" is promptly fired and replaced with an ideological puppet). The lira recovered some of its losses in late December when Erdogan came up with the "brilliant" idea of erecting the infamous "doom loop" which ties Turkey's balance sheet to its currency. It has worked for now (the lira surged from TL18 against the dollar to TL12, but this particular band aid solution will only last so long). The lira’s problems are not only Erdogan’s doing. A strengthening dollar, rising oil prices, the relentless covid pandemic and weak growth in developing economies have been bad for other emerging market currencies, too, but as long as Erdogan is in charge, shorting the lira remains the best trade entering 2022. While these, and many more, stories provided a diversion from the boring existence of centrally-planned markets, we are confident that the trends observed in recent years will continue: coming years will be marked by even bigger government (because only more government can "fix" problems created by government), higher stock prices and dollar debasement (because only more Fed intervention can "fix" the problems created by the Fed), and a policy flip from monetary and QE to fiscal & MMT, all of which will keep inflation at scorching levels, much to the persistent confusion of economists everywhere. Of course, we said much of this last year as well, but while we got most trends right, we were wrong about one thing: we were confident that China's aggressive roll out of the digital yuan would be a bang - or as we put it "it is very likely that while 2020 was an insane year, it may prove to be just an appetizer to the shockwaves that will be unleashed in 2021 when we see the first stage of the most historic overhaul of the fiat payment system in history" - however it turned out to be a whimper. A big reason for that was that the initial reception of the "revolutionary" currency was nothing short of disastrous, with Chinese admitting they were "not at all excited" about the prospect of yet one more surveillance mechanism for Beijing, because that's really what digital currencies are: a way for central banks everywhere to micromanage and scrutinize every single transaction, allowing the powers that be to demonetize any one person - or whole groups - with the flick of a switch. Then again, while digital money may not have made its triumphant arrival in 2021, we are confident that the launch date has merely been pushed back to 2022 when the rollout of the next monetary revolution is expected to begin in earnest. Here we should again note one thing: in a world undergoing historic transformations, any free press must be throttled and controlled, and over the past year we have seen unprecedented efforts by legacy media and its corporate owners, as well as the new "social media" overlords do everything in their power to stifle independent thought. For us it had been especially "personal" on more than one occasions. Last January, Twitter suspended our account because we dared to challenge the conventional narrative about the source of the Wuhan virus. It was only six months later that Twitter apologized, and set us free, admitting it had made a mistake. Yet barely had twitter readmitted us, when something even more unprecedented happened: for the first time ever (to our knowledge) Google - the world's largest online ad provider and monopoly - demonetized our website not because of any complaints about our writing but because of the contents of our comment section. It then held us hostage until we agreed to implement some prerequisite screening and moderation of the comments section. Google's action was followed by the likes of PayPal, Amazon, and many other financial and ad platforms, who rushed to demonetize and suspend us simply because they disagreed with what we had to say. This was a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which resembles the dystopia of 1984 more and more each day, and we have since taken measures. One year ago, for the first time in our 13 year history, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us again. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year. That said, whether the story of 2022, and the next decade for that matter, is one of helicopter or digital money, of (hyper)inflation or deflation: what is key, and what we learned in the past decade, is that the status quo will throw anything at the problem to kick the can, it will certainly not let any crisis go to waste... even the deadliest pandemic in over a century. And while many already knew that, the events of 2021 made it clear to a fault that not even a modest market correction can be tolerated going forward. After all, if central banks aim to punish all selling, then the logical outcome is to buy everything, and investors, traders and speculators did just that armed with the clearest backstop guarantee from the Fed, which in the deapths of the covid crash crossed the Rubicon when it formally nationalized the bond market as it started buying both investment grade bonds and junk bond ETFs in the open market. As such it is no longer even a debatable issue if the Fed will buy stocks after the next crash - the only question is when. Meanwhile, for all those lamenting the relentless coverage of politics in a financial blog, why finance appears to have taken a secondary role, and why the political "narrative" has taken a dominant role for financial analysts, the past year showed vividly why that is the case: in a world where markets gyrated, and "rotated" from value stocks to growth and vice versa, purely on speculation of how big the next stimulus out of Washington will be, the narrative over Biden's trillions proved to be one of the biggest market moving events for much of the year. And with the Biden stimulus plan off the table for now, the Fed will find it very difficult to tighten financial conditions, especially if it does so just as the economy is slowing. Here we like to remind readers of one of our favorite charts: every financial crisis is the result of Fed tightening. As for predictions about the future, as the past two years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected. And so while many themes, both in the political and financial realm, did get some accelerated closure courtesy of China's covid pandemic, dramatic changes in 2021 persisted, and will continue to manifest themselves in often violent and unexpected ways - from the ongoing record polarization in the US political arena, to "populist" upheavals around the developed world, to the gradual transition to a global Universal Basic (i.e., socialized) Income regime, to China's ongoing fight with preserving stability in its gargantuan financial system which is now two and a half times the size of the US. As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from the KGB either, although now that the entire Russian hysteria episode is over, those allegations have finally quieted down), and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine. Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website. In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to accelerate in the coming year when key midterm elections will be held, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2021 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch out of fear of repercussions, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an orchestrated information vacuum and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which the public relations arm of established media outlets refused to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation. We are grateful that our readers - who hit a new record high in 2021 - have realized it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news." * * * And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 11-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year. In 20th spot with 600,000 reads, was an article that touched on one of the most defining features of the market: the reflation theme the sparked a massive rally at the start of the year courtesy of the surprise outcome in the Georgia Senate race, where Democrats ended up wining both seats up for grabs, effectively giving the Dems a majority in both the House and the Senate, where despite the even, 50-seat split, Kamala Harris would cast the winning tie-breaker vote to pursue a historic fiscal stimulus. And sure enough, as we described in "Bitcoin Surges To Record High, Stocks & Bonds Battered As Dems Look Set To Take Both Georgia Senate Seats", with trillions in "stimmies" flooding both the economy and the market, not only did retail traders enjoy unprecedented returns when trading meme "stonks" and forcing short squeezes that crippled numerous hedge funds, but expectations of sharply higher inflation also helped push bitcoin and the entire crypto sector to new all time highs, which in turn legitimized the product across institutional investors and helped it reach a market cap north of $3 trillion.  In 19th spot, over 613,000 readers were thrilled to read at the start of September that "Biden Unveils Most Severe COVID Actions Yet: Mandates Vax For All Federal Workers, Contractors, & Large Private Companies." Of course, just a few weeks later much of Biden's mandate would be struck down in courts, where it is now headed to a decision by SCOTUS, while the constantly shifting "scientific" goal posts mean that just a few months later the latest set of CDC regulations have seen regulators and officials reverse the constant drone of fearmongering and are now even seeking to cut back on the duration of quarantine and other lockdown measures amid a public mood that is growing increasingly hostile to the government response. One of the defining political events of 2021 was the so-called "Jan 6 Insurrection", which the for America's conservatives was blown wildly out of proportion yet which the leftist media and Democrats in Congress have been periodically trying to push to the front pages in hopes of distracting from the growing list of failures of the Obama admin. Yet as we asked back in January, "Why Was Founder Of Far-Left BLM Group Filming Inside Capitol As Police Shot Protester?" No less than 614,000 readers found this question worthy of a response. Since then many more questions have emerged surrounding this event, many of which focus on what role the FBI had in organizing and encouraging this event, including the use of various informants and instigators. For now, a response will have to wait at least until the mid-term elections of 2022 when Republicans are expected to sweep one if not both chambers. Linked to the above, the 17th most read article of 2021 with 617,000 views, was an article we published on the very same day, which detailed that "Armed Protesters Begin To Arrive At State Capitols Around The Nation." At the end of the day, it was much ado about nothing and all protests concluded peacefully and without incident: perhaps the FBI was simply spread too thin? 2021 was a year defined by various waves of the covid pandemic which hammered poor Americans forced to hunker down at home and missing on pay, and crippled countless small mom and pop businesses. And yet, it was also a bonanza for a handful of pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna which made billions from the sale of "vaccines" which we now know do little if anything to halt the spread of the virus, and are instead now being pitched as palliatives, preventing a far worse clinical outcome. The same pharma companies also benefited from an unconditional indemnity, which surely would come in useful when the full side-effects of their mRNA-based therapies became apparent. One such condition to emerge was myocarditis among a subset of the vaxxed. And while the vaccines continue to be broadly rolled out across most developed nations, one place that said enough was Sweden. As over 620,000 readers found out in "Sweden Suspends Moderna Shot Indefinitely After Vaxxed Patients Develop Crippling Heart Condition", not every country was willing to use its citizens as experimental guniea pigs. This was enough to make the article the 16th most read on these pages, but perhaps in light of the (lack of) debate over the pros and cons of the covid vaccines, this should have been the most read article this year? Moving on to the 15th most popular article, 628,000 readers were shocked to learn that "Chase Bank Cancels General Mike Flynn's Credit Cards." The action, which was taken by the largest US bank due to "reputational risk" echoed a broad push by tech giants to deplatform and silence dissenting voices by literally freezing them out of the financial system. In the end, following widespread blowback from millions of Americans, JPMorgan reversed, and reactivated Flynn's cards saying the action was made in error, but unfortunately this is just one example of how those in power can lock out any dissenters with the flick of a switch. And while democrats cheer such deplatforming today, the political winds are fickle, and we doubt they will be as excited once they find themselves on the receiving end of such actions. And speaking of censorship and media blackouts, few terms sparked greater response from those in power than the term Ivermectin. Viewed by millions as a cheap, effective alternative to offerings from the pharmaceutical complex, social networks did everything in their power to silence any mention of a drug which the Journal of Antibiotics said in 2017 was an "enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug which continues to surprise and exceed expectations." Nowhere was this more obvious than in the discussion of how widespread use of Ivermectin beat Covid in India, the topic of the 14th most popular article of 2021 "India's Ivermectin Blackout" which was read by over 653,000 readers. Unfortunately, while vaccines continue to fail upward and now some countries are now pushing with a 4th, 5th and even 6th vaccine, Ivermectin remains a dirty word. There was more covid coverage in the 13th most popular article of 2021, "Surprise Surprise - Fauci Lied Again": Rand Paul Reacts To Wuhan Bombshell" which was viewed no less than 725,000 times. Paul's reaction came following a report which revealed that Anthony Fauci's NIAID and its parent, the NIH, funded Gain-of-Function research in Wuhan, China, strongly hinting that the emergence of covid was the result of illicit US funding. Not that long ago, Fauci had called Paul a 'liar' for accusing him of funding the risky research, in which viruses are genetically modified or otherwise altered to make them more transmissible to humans. And while we could say that Paul got the last laugh, Fauci still remains Biden's top covid advisor, which may explain why one year after Biden vowed he would shut down the pandemic, the number of new cases just hit a new all time high. One hope we have for 2022 is that people will finally open their eyes... 2021 was not just about covid - soaring prices and relentless inflation were one of the most poignant topics. It got so bad that Biden's approval rating - and that of Democrats in general - tumbled toward the end of the year, putting their mid-term ambitions in jeopardy, as the public mood soured dramatically in response to the explosion in prices. And while one can debate whether it was due to supply-issues, such as the collapse in trans-pacific supply chains and the chronic lack of labor to grow the US infrastructure, or due to roaring demand sparked by trillions in fiscal stimulus, but when the "Big Short" Michael Burry warned that hyperinflation is coming, the people listened, and with over 731,000 reads, the 12th most popular article of 2021 was "Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming."  Of course, Burry did not say anything we haven't warned about for the past 12 years, but at least he got the people's attention, and even mainstream names such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey agreed with him, predicting that bitcoin will be what is left after the dollar has collapsed. While hyperinflation may will be the endgame, the question remains: when. For the 11th most read article of 2021, we go back to a topic touched upon moments ago when we addressed the full-blown media campaign seeking to discredit Ivermectin, in this case via the D-grade liberal tabloid Rolling Stone (whose modern incarnation is sadly a pale shadow of the legend that house Hunter S. Thompson's unforgettable dispatches) which published the very definition of fake news when it called Ivermectin a "horse dewormer" and claimed that, according to a hospital employee, people were overdosing on it. Just a few hours later, the article was retracted as we explained in "Rolling Stone Issues 'Update' After Horse Dewormer Hit-Piece Debunked" and over 812,000 readers found out that pretty much everything had been a fabrication. But of course, by then it was too late, and the reputation of Ivermectin as a potential covid cure had been further tarnished, much to the relief of the pharma giants who had a carte blanche to sell their experimental wares. The 10th most popular article of 2021 brings us to another issue that had split America down the middle, namely the story surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse and the full-blown media campaign that declared the teenager guilty, even when eventually proven innocent. Just days before the dramatic acquittal, we learned that "FBI Sat On Bombshell Footage From Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting", which was read by over 822,000 readers. It was unfortunate to learn that once again the scandal-plagued FBI stood at the center of yet another attempt at mass misinformation, and we can only hope that one day this "deep state" agency will be overhauled from its core, or better yet, shut down completely. As for Kyle, he will have the last laugh: according to unconfirmed rumors, his numerous legal settlements with various media outlets will be in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.  And from the great US social schism, we again go back to Covid for the 9th most popular article of 2021, which described the terrifying details of one of the most draconian responses to covid in the entire world: that of Australia. Over 900,000 readers were stunned to read that the "Australian Army Begins Transferring COVID-Positive Cases, Contacts To Quarantine Camps." Alas, the latest surge in Australian cases to nosebleed, record highs merely confirms that this unprecedented government lockdown - including masks and vaccines - is nothing more than an exercise in how far government can treat its population as a herd of sheep without provoking a violent response.  The 8th most popular article of 2021 looks at the market insanity of early 2021 when, at the end of January, we saw some of the most-shorted, "meme" stocks explode higher as the Reddit daytrading horde fixed their sights on a handful of hedge funds and spent billions in stimmies in an attempt to force unprecedented ramps. That was the case with "GME Soars 75% After-Hours, Erases Losses After Liquidity-Constrained Robinhood Lifts Trading Ban", which profiled the daytrading craze that gave an entire generation the feeling that it too could win in these manipulated capital markets. Then again, judging by the waning retail interest, it is possible that the excitement of the daytrading army is fading as rapidly as it first emerged, and that absent more "stimmies" markets will remain the playground of the rich and central banks. Kyle Rittenhouse may soon be a very rich man after the ordeal he went through, but the media's mission of further polarizing US society succeeded, and millions of Americans will never accept that the teenager was innocent. It's also why with just over 1 million reads, the 7th most read article on Zero Hedge this year was that "Portland Rittenhouse Protest Escalates Into Riot." Luckily, this is not a mid-term election year and there were no moneyed interests seeking to prolong this particular riot, unlike what happened in the summer of 2020... and what we are very much afraid will again happen next year when very critical elections are on deck.  With just over 1.03 million views, the 6th most popular post focused on a viral Twitter thread on Friday from Dr Robert Laone, which laid out a disturbing trend; the most-vaccinated countries in the world are experiencing  a surge in COVID-19 cases, while the least-vaccinated countries were not. As we originally discussed in ""This Is Worrying Me Quite A Bit": mRNA Vaccine Inventor Shares Viral Thread Showing COVID Surge In Most-Vaxxed Countries", this trend has only accelerated in recent weeks with the emergence of the Omicron strain. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in a constructive discussion to see why the science keeps failing again and again, Twitter's response was chilling: with just days left in 2021, it suspended the account of Dr. Malone, one of the inventors of mRNA technology. Which brings to mind something Aaron Rogers said: "If science can't be questioned it's not science anymore it's propaganda & that's the truth." In a year that was marked a flurry of domestic fiascoes by the Biden administration, it is easy to forget that the aged president was also responsible for the biggest US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, when the botched evacuation of Afghanistan made the US laughing stock of the world after 12 US servicemembers were killed. So it's probably not surprising that over 1.1 million readers were stunned to watch what happened next, which we profiled in the 5th most popular post of 2021, where in response to the Afghan trajedy, "Biden Delivers Surreal Press Conference, Vows To Hunt Down Isis, Blames Trump." One person watching the Biden presser was Xi Jinping, who may have once harbored doubts about reclaiming Taiwan but certainly does not any more. The 4th most popular article of 2021 again has to do with with covid, and specifically the increasingly bizarre clinical response to the disease. As we detailed in "Something Really Strange Is Happening At Hospitals All Over America" while emergency rooms were overflowing, it certainly wasn't from covid cases. Even more curiously, one of the primary ailments leading to an onslaught on ERs across the nation was heart-related issues, whether arrhytmia, cardiac incidents or general heart conditions. We hope that one day there will be a candid discussion on this topic, but until then it remains one of the topics seen as taboo by the mainstream media and the deplatforming overlords, so we'll just leave it at that. We previously discussed the anti-Ivermectin narrative that dominated the mainstream press throughout 2021 and the 3rd most popular article of the year may hold clues as to why: in late September, pharma giant Pfizer and one of the two companies to peddle an mRNA based vaccine, announced that it's launching an accelerated Phase 2/3 trial for a COVID prophylactic pill designed to ward off COVID in those may have come in contact with the disease. And, as we described in "Pfizer Launches Final Study For COVID Drug That's Suspiciously Similar To 'Horse Paste'," 1.75 million readers learned that Pfizer's drug shared at least one mechanism of action as Ivermectin - an anti-parasitic used in humans for decades, which functions as a protease inhibitor against Covid-19, which researchers speculate "could be the biophysical basis behind its antiviral efficiency." Surely, this too was just another huge coincidence. In the second most popular article of 2021, almost 2 million readers discovered (to their "shock") that Fauci and the rest of Biden's COVID advisors were proven wrong about "the science" of COVID vaccines yet again. After telling Americans that vaccines offer better protection than natural infection, a new study out of Israel suggested the opposite is true: natural infection offers a much better shield against the delta variant than vaccines, something we profiled in "This Ends The Debate' - Israeli Study Shows Natural Immunity 13x More Effective Than Vaccines At Stopping Delta." We were right about one thing: anyone who dared to suggest that natural immunity was indeed more effective than vaccines was promptly canceled and censored, and all debate almost instantly ended. Since then we have had tens of millions of "breakout" cases where vaccinated people catch covid again, while any discussion why those with natural immunity do much better remains under lock and key. It may come as a surprise to many that the most read article of 2021 was not about covid, or Biden, or inflation, or China, or even the extremely polarized US congress (and/or society), but was about one of the most long-suffering topics on these pages: precious metals and their prices. Yes, back in February the retail mania briefly targeted silver and as millions of reddit daytraders piled in in hopes of squeezing the precious metal higher, the price of silver surged higher only to tumble just as quickly as it has risen as the seller(s) once again proved more powerful than the buyers. We described this in "Silver Futures Soar 8%, Rise Above $29 As Reddit Hordes Pile In", an article which some 2.4 million gold and silver bugs read with hope, only to see their favorite precious metals slump for much of the rest of the year. And yes, the fact that both gold and silver ended the year sharply lower than where they started even though inflation hit the highest level in 40 years, remains one of the great mysteries of 2021. With all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2022, and the next decade? We don't know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try despite endless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2021 (even the Fed admitted it is clueless when Powell said it was time to retire the term "transitory"), which destroyed the reputation of central banks, of economists, of conventional media and the professional "polling" and "strategist" class forever, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of the "expertise class" with their bungled response to the covid pandemic. We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it. We do know, however, that after a record $30 trillion in stimulus was conjured out of thin air by the world's central banks and politicians in the past two years, the attempt to reverse this monetary and fiscal firehose in a world addicted to trillions in newly created liquidity now that central banks are freaking out after finally getting ot the inflation they were hoping to create for so long, will end in tears. We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 13, we will be there to document every aspect of it. Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2022, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2021 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken system. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/02/2022 - 03:44.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

Top 20 Media Stories CNN"s Brian Stelter "Overlooked" On His Show Dedicated To Media Stories

Top 20 Media Stories CNN's Brian Stelter 'Overlooked' On His Show Dedicated To Media Stories Of all the year-end roundups coming out, the one that caught our eye for pointing out the worst examples of MSM hypocrisy comes from Joseph A. Wulfohn via Fox News, who notes the top 20 major media stories that were utterly ignored by CNN's Brian Stelter - whose entire job is to cover controversies involving the media. Yet, "Stelter turned a blind eye to many headlines that were far from flattering to his liberal allies in the industry," writes Wulfohn - who notes that this is nothing new for the CNN host. "Most famously, he completely avoided ABC News' shocking coverup of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, omitting it from his "top ten media stories" of 2019." Without further ado, here are 2021's top 20 major media stories ignored by Brian Stelter: Judge bans MSNBC from the Kyle Rittenhouse trial The entire nation was intensely monitoring the trial of teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged with murdering two people amid the Kenosha riots following the 2020 police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake. But the day before Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts, Judge Bruce Schroeder made headlines by barring MSNBC from the courthouse after police caught a freelance NBC News producer following the jury bus when he ran a red light.  Stelter swept the controversy plaguing CNN's closest liberal competitor under the rug. -Fox News In fact, CNN has essentially sheltered MSNBC from scrutiny - which has appeared just 34 times in Reliable Sources' 2021 transcripts vs. Fox News, which appeared 695 times (via Grabien search results). Stelter ignored Joy Reid's spat with rapper Nicki Minaj over her vaccine hesitancy, as well as MSNBC analyst and NYT editorial board member Mara Gay, when she said that the sight of American flags on the back of trucks was "disturbing," which caused the Times to issue a statement in her defense. Yet, crickets from Stelter. As Wulfohn notes, the respect seems to be mutual, as MSNBC offers 'little to no coverage' of any controversy at CNN. Trump-era media narratives that fell apart  In March, the media pundit avoided the Washington Post's major correction to its bombshell January report about a phone call between then-President Donald Trump and a Georgia elections investigator, urging her to "find the fraud" and that she would be a "national hero" if she did, which turned out to be not true. WASHINGTON POST PANNED FOR MASSIVE CORRECTION TO TRUMP-GEORGIA ELECTION STORY: 'SO, THEY MADE UP QUOTES' The CNN star had nothing to say about the collapsed narrative alleging Trump ordered Lafayette Square Park to be cleared of protesters so he could pose in front of the riot-torched St. John's Church last year. An inspector general investigation concluded U.S. Park Police and the U.S. Secret Service deemed it necessary to remove protestors from the park in order to install anti-scale fencing. -Fox News The Washington Post issues stunning corrections on articles involving the Steele dossier Yet, Stelter couldn't be bothered when the dossier his network breathlessly peddled was completely debunked after Christopher Steele source Igor Danchenko was accused of lying to the FBI, leading to a flood of corrections from WaPo. The first two stories, published in March 2017 and February 2019, were changed when the newspaper’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, said she could no longer stand by their accuracy. The Post added editor’s notes, amended headlines, removed sections identifying Sergei Millian as the source and deleted an accompanying video summarizing the articles.  Lengthy editor's notes were additionally placed on at least 14 other articles.  The Steele dossier helped fuel the Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy for years and dominated CNN and MSNBC's coverage. -Fox News The New York Times forced to admit Babylon Bee is not ‘misinformation’ This one was a biggie - after the Times ran a story in March characterizing the satire site The Babylon Bee as "misinformation." In fact, they called it a "far-right misinformation site" that "sometimes trafficked in misinformation under the guise of satire." Under the threat of a lawsuit, the Times issued a correction in June which backpedaled their claim. "An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the Babylon Bee, a right-leaning satirical website, and a controversy regarding the handling of its content by Facebook and the fact-checking site Snopes. While both Facebook and Snopes previously have classified some Babylon Bee articles as misinformation, rather than satire, they have dropped those claims, and the Babylon Bee denies that it has trafficked in misinformation," reads the correction. Paging Stelter? Nope. Don Lemon's texts emerge during the Jussie Smollett trial Former "Empire" star Jussie Smollett shocked the nation in 2019 when he claimed he was the victim of a vicious hate crime in Chicago, which the national media hyped while offering little to no skepticism. It wasn't long before Chicago Police Department suspected Smollett had orchestrated a hoax.  Nearly three years later, Smollett stood trial and was ultimately convicted on five counts of disorderly conduct. However, before the verdict was in, Smollett revealed during his testimony that he was tipped off about the CPD's doubts into his claims by his pal, CNN anchor Don Lemon. -Fox News Neither Lemon nor Stelter mentioned the incident on their CNN shows. The turmoil of The Lincoln Project If CNN is the king of propaganda, anti-Trump PAC The Lincoln Project is a close second. They also have a pedophile problem in common. In January, news broke that Lincoln Project co-founder John Weaver was accused of sexually harassing 20 young men online, one of whom was just 14 when it began. All of Weaver's former colleagues denied knowledge of the predatory behavior, and Weaver himself has since resigned and vanished from the public. In addition to ignoring this, Stelter also failed to mention questions over the group's murky financial dealings - and where millions of dollars raised to fight Trumpism actually ended up. The marathon of controversies sparked an exodus among the group's prominent leaders and even calls from co-founder George Conway, who had left the group in 2020, to be shut down.  However, the Lincoln Project was able to weather the storm and managed to keep the lights on thanks to the lack of media coverage its scandals received.  More recently, Stelter failed to address the Lincoln Project's widely panned race stunt it took credit for in the days leading up to the Virginia gubernatorial election. In a move that co-founder Steve Schmidt even condemned as "recklessly stupid," the Lincoln Project sent five people – one of them a Black man – to dress as Tiki-torch bearing White nationalists in front of Republican Glenn Youngkin's campaign bus in Charlottesville, in what was viewed as a desperate smear effort to liken his supporters to racists. -Fox News USA Today allows Stacey Abrams to stealth-edit column to water down past support for Georgia boycott This spring, Georgia was at the center of an intense national debate over its election reform legislation that was signed into law after the 2020 election with prominent Democrats calling it racist and comparing it to "Jim Crow." A movement to boycott the Peach State was ignited and one of its backers appeared to be Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.  In an op-ed published by USA Today in March 31, Abrams argued that boycotts were an effective form of protest, writing, "The impassioned response to the racist, classist bill that is now the law of Georgia is to boycott in order to achieve change." But after Major League Baseball announced it was moving its All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Abram's op-ed went through a stunning transformation, watering down her support for boycotts historically without issuing any editor's note acknowledging the changes. A spokesperson for Gannett, USA Today's parent company, told Fox News, "We regret the oversight in updating the Stacey Abrams column. As soon as we recognized there was no editor’s note, we added it to the page to reflect her changes. We have reviewed our procedures to ensure this does not occur again." The journalistic malpractice was ultimately ignored by CNN's media hall monitor. -Fox News Joe Rogan's explosive interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta This one might actually be #1, as podcast giant Joe Rogan cornered CNN's top doc over the network's disingenuous framing of Ivermectin as a 'horse dewormer.' "Calling it a horse de-wormer is not the most flattering thing, I get that," said Gupta. "It's a lie on a news network - and it's a lie that they're conscious of. It's not a mistake. They're unfavorably framing it as veterinary medicine," Rogan shot back. "Why would you say that when you're talking about a drug that's been given out to billions and billions of people? A drug that was responsible for one of the inventors winning the Nobel Prize in 2015?" the 54-year-old Rogan continued. "A drug that has been shown to stop viral replication in vitro - you know that, right? Why would they lie and say that's horse de-wormer? I can afford people medicine, motherfucker. This is ridiculous." Watch: Joe Rogan asks Sanjay Gupta if it bothers him that CNN outright lied about Rogan taking horse dewormer to recover from covid. This is fantastic: — Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 14, 2021 CNN then doubled down on their stupidity, issuing a statement which said "The only thing CNN did wrong here was bruise the ego of a popular podcaster who pushed dangerous conspiracy theories and risked the lives of millions of people in doing so." Radio silence from Stelter... Rolling Stone, MSNBC stars peddle false narrative of ivermectin overdoses overwhelming Oklahoma hospitals After Joe Rogan announced that he'd kicked Covid in just a few days using a cocktail of drugs, including Ivermectin - an anti-parasitic prescribed for humans for over 35 years, with over 4 billion doses administered (and most recently as a Covid-19 treatment), the left quickly started mocking Rogan for having taken a 'horse dewormer' due to its dual use in livestock. Rolling Stone's Jon Blistein led the charge: Then, Rolling Stone's Peter Wade took another stab - publishing a hit piece claiming that Oklahoma ERs were overflowing with people 'overdosing on horse dewormer.' As people take the drug, McElyea said patients have arrived at hospitals with negative reactions like nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and cramping — or even loss of sight. “The scariest one that I’ve heard of and seen is people coming in with vision loss,” the doctor said. -Rolling Stone It was all a lie...  as NHS Sequoyah, located in Sallisaw, Oklahoma - issued a statement disavowing McElyea's claims. Of course, the lie was peddled by MSM notables, including Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid. Stelter? Reliable sources? His job running cover, as opposed to exposing MSM lies should be clear as day by now. New York Times sports reporter ousted after failing to disclose book deal with Michael Phelps New York Times sports reporter Karen Crouse landed herself in hot water in July for failing to disclose the book deal she made with Michael Phelps while she herself was covering the Olympic swimmer.  In June, Crouse authored a glowing piece that painted the 23-time gold medalist in a highly positive light with multiple tidbits about Phelps mentoring youth athletes.  But a month after the piece was initially published, it was updated with a scathing editor’s note.  "After this article was published, editors learned that the reporter had entered an agreement to co-write a book with Michael Phelps. If editors had been aware of the conflict, the reporter would not have been given the assignment," the editor's note read. "Our guidelines state that no staff member may serve as a ghost writer or co-author for individuals who figure or are likely to figure in coverage they provide, edit, package or supervise," a New York Times spokesperson told Fox News. "As the editors’ note makes clear, the arrangement was a conflict of interest. This was a significant lapse in judgment. We are reviewing this matter and will take appropriate action once the investigation has concluded." After initially being suspended, Crouse announced weeks later she was leaving the Times after 16 years with the paper. The controversy received no on-air mention by Stelter, a former media reporter for the Times. -Fox News USA Today botches fact-check claiming Biden didn't check his watch during dignified transfer ceremony "Stelter typically reveres fact-checks conducted by his media allies, but there was one in particular that mysteriously never reached the "Reliable Sources" radar," writes Wulfohn. Biden was slammed by Gold Star families after he checked his watch several times during a ceremony for 13 service members that were killed during his botched Afghanistan pullout. Gold Star Father Darin Hoover, whose son Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover was killed in Kabul, alleges that President Biden looked down at his watch when all 13 fallen service members arrived at Dover Air Force Base: "That happened on every single one of them." — Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 31, 2021 USA Today attempted to "fact-check" the report, claiming that Biden had only checked his watch after the ceremony. Not so. And USA Today was forced to issue a correction which read: "This story was updated Sept. 2 to note that Biden checked his watch multiple times at the dignified transfer event, including during the ceremony itself." Meghan McCain's dramatic exit from "The View" 2021 was a year of many high-profile media departures, among them the exit of "The View" co-host Meghan McCain.  McCain turned the ABC daytime talk show into must-watch television for the on-air clashes she had with her liberal co-hosts throughout much of the Trump administration, as well as the first six months into the Biden administration.  While she was vocal with her opposition to Trump, her conservative stance was repeatedly met with hostility from Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar and Sunny Hostin.  But McCain's exit received no mention on "Reliable Sources." -Fox News Jeffrey Toobin's awkward return to CNN Need we say more? Stelter certainly didn't. We just want to reintroduce Jeffry Toobin after a bit of a hiatus *fap fap fap fap* Jeffrey had to take time off *fap fap fap* After an unfortunate incident during *fap … fap fap* A zoom meeting. Welcome back, Jeffrey. *fapfapfap* Jeffrey, stop — Geoffrey Ingersoll (@GPIngersoll) June 10, 2021 Chris Cuomo's mounting scandals When CNN announced it had fired its primetime star Chris Cuomo after the network learned of a second sexual harassment allegation leveled against him, Stelter spoke critically of his fallen colleague and the "headaches" he created for CNN as he aided his brother, now-ousted Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. This, however, was a drastic shift in tone since the CNN lackey spent months defending the anchor and downplaying the blatant violation of journalistic ethics, most infamously on "The Late Show." But while Stelter was occasionally forced to address the Cuomo saga on "Reliable Sources," there were other controversies that plagued the CNN host he overlooked. For example, he made no mention of Cuomo's first accuser, veteran TV producer Shelley Ross, who alleged that he grabbed her buttock at a 2005 work function when the two of them were colleagues at ABC News. -Fox News And finally... CNN's own producer arrested for child sex crimes The "Reliable Sources" host would be the first to revel whenever an employee at a conservative media outlet landed in hot water, but he was noticeably mum about the alleged pedophile walking the halls of CNN. John Griffin, a senior producer for CNN's flagship morning program "New Day," was arrested by the FBI after a grand jury in Vermont indicted him for shocking child sex crimes.  After initially being suspended, Griffin was later fired by CNN.  "The charges against Mr. Griffin are deeply disturbing. We learned of his arrest Friday afternoon and terminated his employment Monday," a CNN spokesperson told Fox News Digital. -Fox News And, as usual, silence from Stelter! Tyler Durden Mon, 12/27/2021 - 13:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 27th, 2021

YouTube Suddenly Deletes, Then Restores Ron Paul Institute"s Channel After Backlash

YouTube Suddenly Deletes, Then Restores Ron Paul Institute's Channel After Backlash update (2:55pm ETD): An hour after Ron Paul's initial viral tweet announcing YouTube had terminated the account, the Ron Paul Institute's channel suddenly and without explanation appears to have been restored.  The initial announcement of the suspension by Paul had immediately triggered an uproar and demands of answers from the Google-owned platform. It's as yet still unclear why it was suspended in the first place, but may have been 'flagged' for Covid 'misinformation' - given YouTube's vowing this week to begin a far-reaching crackdown.  * * * On Thursday afternoon former Republican Congressman Ron Paul announced that YouTube inexplicably and without warning deleted his Ron Paul Institute Channel, citing "no warning, no strikes, no evidence." The popular Libertarian thinker and long-term Republican rep whose daily commentary is featured in the Ron Paul Liberty Report said he was "very shocked" especially given the channel has lately been "rarely used". The popular Liberty Report is hosted on a different channel altogether and appears to still be active, however. Very shocked that @YouTube has completely removed the Channel of my Ron Paul Institute: no warning, no strikes, no evidence. Only explanation was "severe or repeated violations of our community guidelines." Channel is rarely used. The appeal was automatically rejected. Help? — Ron Paul (@RonPaul) September 30, 2021 After appealing the move, YouTube sent Paul a message saying the request for review and appeal has been denied. "We have decided to keep your account suspended based on our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service," YouTube said in a statement screenshoted and posted to Twitter by the former Congressman.  It's unclear precisely what was behind YouTube's rationale for the suspension, but the dominant video upload platform owned by Google just this week announced what's essentially a 'zero tolerance' approach to channels flagged for Covid 'misinformation.' To clarify: The Ron Paul Liberty Report YouTube account is still available. The Ron Paul Institute's YouTube account has been terminated. It is a seldom-used account and its termination is perplexing. — Ron Paul (@RonPaul) September 30, 2021 As TechCrunch detailed Wednesday, "The Google-owned video platform had previously banned over 1 million videos spreading dangerous COVID-19 misinformation." The report continues, "Now, YouTube says it will also remove content that spreads misinformation about vaccine safety, the efficacy of vaccines and ingredients in vaccines." Getty Images The Ron Paul Institute via its main webpage regularly features analysis questioning the flurry of contradictory dictates coming out of federal and state health authorities concerning Covid-19, vaccines, social distancing practices and enforcement.  However, it remains unclear if this was the reason for the ban on its YouTube channel. Regardless it's possible that the more popular Liberty Report, which has over 289,000 subscribers and frequently produces viral videos, could be targeted next.  Tyler Durden Thu, 09/30/2021 - 14:55.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 30th, 2021

The 5 Best Credit Cards For Seniors And Retirees In 2022

Choosing the right credit card as a senior or retiree can sometimes be tricky. There are many options available, and it’s essential to find one that offers the best benefits for your current needs. Unfortunately, those needs and our preferences change as we age, so the card that was our ideal fit in our twenties […] Choosing the right credit card as a senior or retiree can sometimes be tricky. There are many options available, and it’s essential to find one that offers the best benefits for your current needs. Unfortunately, those needs and our preferences change as we age, so the card that was our ideal fit in our twenties or thirties is probably not the best fit for us today. This article will highlight five of the best credit cards for seniors and retirees in 2022. I’ll also explain why these cards stand out from the competition. So whether you’re looking for a new card to add to your stack or just starting to plan for retirement, read on for my top picks. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more #1 The best travel credit card for retirement: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card If we were to do a poll asking all of America’s retirees or soon-to-be retirees what the top ten items on their bucket list are, traveling around the world or, at the very least, visiting another country is almost sure to be high on the list. But unfortunately, many people either don’t have the money or the time to travel as much as they would like when they’re young, so they always leave fulfilling that dream for their golden years. If that is your case and you plan to travel frequently in retirement, perhaps to visit your children or grandchildren or simply to be a tourist in a faraway land, then having a good travel rewards credit card is a must. Travel rewards cards are great for people who love to travel, obviously. But they’re also great for retirees and seniors who might not be able to travel as often as they’d like. Why? Because most travel cards offer valuable perks and benefits that can save you a ton of money on your travels if used correctly. Key perks of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the best travel cards out there, and it’s an ideal choice for seniors and retirees who love to explore the world. The first significant perk is a whopping 60,000 points welcome bonus after spending $4,000 on purchases from account opening in the first three months. This bonus alone is worth anywhere from $600 to $750, depending on how you redeem them. After the first year, you’ll receive an annual $50 statement credit for hotel stays as long as you booked them through Chase Ultimate Rewards. After you add travel insurance (trip cancellation/interruption, baggage delay, and trip delay insurance, as well as auto rental collision damage waiver and travel and emergency assistance services) and the other benefits with partners like Lyft, DoorDash, and Gopuff, you’re looking at close to $900 worth of benefits. What makes this a great travel card is that: You can redeem your points for travel at a valuation of 1.25 cents per point through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can transfer points at a 1:1 rate to many popular airline loyalty programs, where you can get even more benefits. The card doesn’t add foreign transaction fees. Additionally, the card’s rewards on travel purchases are also great. You get 5x points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (saving you close to 5% off the purchase price), 3x on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services, and two points on all other travel purchases, and one point on everything else. #2 The best premium benefits credit card for retirement: The Platinum Card from American Express If you’re looking for hands down one of the best travel experiences, you don’t have to look much further than The Platinum Card from American Express. American Express is one of the best-known credit card brands globally, and it’s almost sure to be accepted everywhere your travel takes you. Amex offers different versions of the Platinum credit card for other countries, such as the American Express Platinum Card for Canadians. These cards all bring very similar perks, but the US version (“The Platinum Card”) is hands down the best. Keep in mind that this is a premium credit card, so it comes with a hefty annual fee of $695. However, the welcome bonus offsets the fee several times over during the first year, and the long list of rewards, statement credits, and travel perks makes this a sweet deal even after that. Key perks of The Platinum Card The statement credits alone offset the annual fee. With this card, you get $200 back on hotel stays of more than two nights booked through American Express Travel. In addition, you can save $200 in airline fees, $240 on select streaming and entertainment services, $155 on Walmart+ memberships, $200 on Uber, and more. In terms of luxury or premium travel, besides all the travel insurance you can think of, you get access to the Platinum Travel Service, which works similar to a concierge service that helps you set up custom-tailored itineraries every time you hop on a plane to your next destination. You also get access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection that will make layovers and your pre-flight waiting times an absolute pleasure in more than 1,400 airport lounges worldwide. You can also breeze through airport security with a $189 statement credit on a CLEAR membership and even more credit for Global Entry and TSA Precheck services. Once you’re approved for this card, you’ll also receive an instant upgrade in elite status on two of the most important hotel chains in the world. You’ll receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status just for owning this card. In addition, this can grant you complimentary hotel room upgrades and other on-site perks. If you have a big budget set up for travel during retirement, having The Platinum Card from American Express will stretch that budget further than you thought possible, and it will help you enjoy your travels much more. #3 The best credit card for a retiree’s grocery purchases: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express There are few contenders to the Blue Cash Preferred Card for grocery purchases in the US. This card makes rewards simple: it’s a cashback card that offers four everyday-spending categories focusing on grocery purchases. Key perks of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card The biggest perks of the Blue Cash Preferred card are the card’s cashback rates, which are off the charts. For example, this card pays you back 6% on grocery purchases in select US supermarkets (with a cap of $6,000 per year) and an additional 6% on select US streaming services. Besides these two categories, you get 3% back on transit and gas and the standard 1% cash back on all other purchases. This card even brings car rental loss and damage insurance, which can offset a good portion of your car rental costs if you ever need to rent a vehicle. But, while this perk comes with most premium cards, the key here is that the Blue Cash Preferred Card doesn’t carry an annual fee. That means you’re getting this benefit for free. So, if you’re planning to settle down during your golden years to live a laid-back lifestyle, binge-watching your favorite shows, and take a road trip to visit friends and family, this may be the perfect card for you. #4 Best business credit card for senior entrepreneurs: Ink Business Cash® Visa Retirement is a great time to start a business. You can take advantage of your experience, budget, and know-how to increase your chances of success compared to younger entrepreneurs. If you don’t feel like getting up early and commuting to work anymore (after all, you did retire), you can always start a remote business. Hire a virtual mailbox service to handle all your incoming business mail, and handle everything else yourself from the comfort of your home. Suppose starting a business is on your to-do list, or you already have a business up and running. In that case, a business credit card is a great tool to help you manage your business finances and earn rewards on business expenses. One of the seniors’ best business credit cards is the Ink Business Cash® Visa from Chase. Key perks of the Ink Business Cash® Visa Perks start with a handsome welcome bonus of $750 in cash back after spending $7,500 in the first three months of opening your account. This is equivalent to an extra cashback rate of 10% on top of the standard cash back rates you’ll earn whether or not you’re a new Ink Business Cash card holder. With this card, you can get 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cell phones, landlines, internet, and cable. This means this card can help you save up to $1,250 on office supplies and communications annually. You’ll also earn 2% on the first $25,000 spent on gas and restaurants, plus 1% on everything else. So if you’re starting your business and require significant purchases, you can take advantage of the 0% intro APR for the first 12 months of account opening. Add in free account management software to easily track business expenses and additional cards for your employees at no extra cost, without an annual fee, and you’re laughing. #5 The best credit card for medical expenses: The AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays® You would only expect that an AARP co-branded credit card would make it to the top spots on the list of the best credit card for retirees. After all, AARP’s mission is to “enhance the quality of life for all as we age, leading positive social change and delivering value to members through advocacy, service, and information.” In collaboration with AARP, Barclays crafted the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard, specially designed to help seniors and retirees save on medical expenses. And the best part is that it’s free; there’s no annual fee. Key perks of the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard Besides not having an annual fee, the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard brings home a $100 cashback welcome bonus that you’ll get after charging $500 worth of purchases in the first three months of card membership. Apart from the welcome bonus, this cashback card also gives you an unlimited 3% cash back rate on gas and drug store purchases and an unlimited 2% cashback rate on medical expenses. While this may not seem like much for a healthy adult in their prime, it can add up significantly if you have any chronic health condition that requires regular medication or doctor’s visits. The AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard can also help you save on travel expenses with a 0% APR introductory offer on balance transfers for 15 months (17.49%-26.49% variable APR after that). Finally, by applying for this card, you support AARP because Barclays donates $10 to the AARP Foundation for every new account opened and 1% of all eligible purchases made by cardholders. The bottom line: Do I need a new card for retirement? You might be thinking, “I’ve had the same credit card for years, and it’s working just fine. Do I really need to get a new one for retirement?” The answer is maybe. It depends on your circumstances and what you’re looking for in a credit card. If you already have a rewards card with thousands of points begging to be redeemed on a trip to Hawaii but are still short by a few thousand points, by all means, keep using your current card (although signing up for one of the options mentioned above and earning a juicy welcome bonus could give you the points you’re missing in record time). The key is to identify how your spending habits and preferences have changed or will likely change in the future and compare those against your current rewards card (or cards) and a likely candidate from this list to determine if you will do better by applying to the new card. Article by Jordan Bishop, Due About the Author Jordan Bishop discovered the power of credit cards at a young age. His first splash into travel hacking came with the wildly viral launch of Yore Oyster, which landed him national media attention and more than a million frequent flyer miles. He leveraged that opportunity to help tens of thousands of people save millions of dollars on flights, all while globetrotting the world. Updated on Jul 1, 2022, 3:47 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkJul 1st, 2022

Dutch Farmers Livid Over EU"s "Green" Nitrogen Rule Block Border Between Holland And Germany

Dutch Farmers Livid Over EU's 'Green' Nitrogen Rule Block Border Between Holland And Germany Thousands of tractor-driving Dutch protesters came out this week to continue demonstrations against the government's radical plan to cut nitrogen emissions by 30% - 70% as part of their 'green' agenda. Farmers from the world's 5th largest exporter of food are demanding that the Hague immediately reverse course, and have blocked the border between Holland and Germany over the rule which would lead to the closure of dozens of farms and cattle ranches. Very angry Dutch farmers block border between Holland and Germany. Harsh protests in many Dutch cities after politicians' decision to closes dozens of farms and cattle ranches to reduce nitrogen by 30% - 70% to comply with EU regulations on nitrogen pollution. — RadioGenova (@RadioGenova) June 30, 2022 On Wednesday, dozens of tractors blocked a highway close to the German border, according to traffic authorities. Even larger protests are scheduled for July 4, with organizers taking to Telegram to call people to action against rules they say will "flatten" the country's agriculture industry. According to the Epoch Times, the message calls on concerned farmers and citizens to organize their own regional actions with the goal of closing all “distribution centers for food supplies and all major polluters” until “the government changes its plans.” One viral call for a July 4 protest came from a large truckers’ Telegram group, suggesting that some truckers in the Netherlands may find themselves in solidarity with the nation’s agriculturalists. The farmers, who plan to protest at many of the nation’s airports, specifically mentioned Schiphol and Eindhoven. has reported that spokespersons for both airports say they are monitoring the situation but have little information at present. Holland closes dozens of farms and cattle ranches to reduce nitrogen by 30%. Angry and hungry farmers block the nation everywhere. — RadioGenova (@RadioGenova) June 28, 2022 In 2021, the Netherlands’ coalition government proposed slashing livestock numbers in the country by 30 percent to meet nitrogen emissions targets. The country has already implemented stringent restrictions on new construction with the aim of curbing nitrogen emissions. Rabobank has argued that those new hurdles have slowed down homebuilding in the Netherlands, intensifying a housing shortage in the densely populated coastal nation. On June 10, the government issued a national and area-specific plan for curbing nitrogen emissions. Those emissions are heavily driven by ammonia from livestock manure. Some parts of the country would have to slash those emissions by 70 or even 95 percent. It openly acknowledged that “there is not a future for all [Dutch] farmers within [this] approach,” as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service. “The Minister of Nature and Nitrogen Policy expects about a third of the 50,000 Dutch farms to ‘disappear’ by 2030,” the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade reported in a June 23 Market Insight Report. The Netherlands is the world’s fifth-largest exporter of food, exceeded only by the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and China, according to World Bank statistics. The Dutch government offers a multibillion-dollar buyout arrangement for farmers. Christianne van der Wal, minister of nature and nitrogen policy, has left open the possibility that the government will expropriate land from farmers who do not comply, as reported by NOS Nieuws. The proposals and resultant protests come amid worldwide fertilizer and food shortages. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on June 24 that “there is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” adding that “2023 could be even worse.” On a recent episode of “Facts Matter” on EpochTV, American farmer John Boyd, Jr. warned of potential food shortages as a result of steeply rising input costs. He said the expenses of running his own operation have tripled, driven in large part by significantly increased fertilizer costs. In Sri Lanka, a ban on chemical fertilizers contributed to an economic crisis that has destabilized the government. The country has recently announced a temporary ban on fuel sales to private vehicles, effective June 27 through July 10. The latest round of demonstrations by Dutch farmers comes after a wave of similar protests in 2019 after lawmaker Tjeerd de Groot called for livestock numbers in the Netherlands to be cut by 50 percent. Demonstrators have burned hay bales alongside highways, blocked roads with tractors, and spread manure to make their anger known. In recent days, protesters have targeted the homes of Dutch government officials, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Nitrogen Minister van der Wal. Footage circulating on social media purports to show protesters spraying manure on Dutch law enforcement. Rutte criticized protesters, saying, “You can demonstrate, but in a civilized way,” as reported by the Associated Press. AP also reports that Dutch police say they arrested 10 people on June 28 in connection with the protests. Tyler Durden Thu, 06/30/2022 - 23:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 1st, 2022

Apply Lessons Of Ukraine - Send Weapons To Taiwan "Earlier" In Face Of China Threat: UK"s Truss

Apply Lessons Of Ukraine - Send Weapons To Taiwan "Earlier" In Face Of China Threat: UK's Truss UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has made her perhaps most provocative comments yet aimed at both Russia and China. It's sure to result in swift protest and condemnation from Beijing, given she invoked the Taiwan comparison while expressing regret over not sending more weapons to beleaguered Ukraine sooner. She said Wednesday that the West needs to learn the lessons of Putin's Ukraine invasion and apply them to Taiwan: "We should have done things earlier, we should have been supplying the defensive weapons into Ukraine earlier. We need to learn that lesson for Taiwan."  British Secretary for Foreign Affairs Liz Truss, AFP Her words before MPs strongly suggested that Russia's "special operation" in neighboring Ukraine has emboldened Xi Jinping in pursuing a military invasion and occupation of Taiwan. China's government has consistently and forcefully rejected any comparisons between the Ukraine and Taiwan situations. In the briefing she delivered before the Foreign Affairs Committee, Truss continued, "There’s always a tendency, and we’ve seen this prior to the Ukraine war, there’s always a tendency of wishful thinking, to hope that more bad things won’t happen and to wait until it’s too late." Part of her rationale was the lengthy and costly amount time it takes from the moment the decision is made to send in weapons, to the time they can actually get deployed by the Ukrainians on the battlefield: "Every piece of equipment we have sent takes months of training, so the sooner we do it the better," she said. This week UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to argue something similar, however without wading into the controversy of Taiwan independence:  Speaking to reporters on the plane to the Nato summit in Madrid, Boris Johnson said: “I just think it’s very important that countries around the world should not be able to read across from events in Europe and draw the conclusion that the world will simply stand idly by if boundaries are changed by force. "That’s one of the most important lessons that we pick up from Ukraine." Some Britons on social media angrily sounded off as Truss is apparently eyeing military aid to Taiwan at a moment the UK's own stockpiles are already being shipped overseas in large numbers and depleted, in order to prop up Ukraine's defenses: Boris just Pledged another £496 Million to Ukraine. Now Liz Truss wants the UK Taxpayer to 'Arm Taiwan' in case china invades. These LUNATICS are Destroying this Country as every day passes! — Holly Christmas (@HollyChristma1) June 29, 2022 Like the US, the UK at least officially holds to the 'One China' policy and thus doesn't have diplomatic or defense pacts with Taipei. Beijing officials are more than likely to see these latest ultra-provocative Taiwan comparisons as a severe violation of the spirit of One China. As for the Russia-Ukraine conflict, it remains anything but certain whether if the West armed Kiev earlier this would have made a significant difference in the trajectory of the war. There's lately been increasing acknowledgement among Western pundits and the clear momentum is with Russia as it slowly gobbles up Donbas territory. President Zelensky is asking billions more in aid from the West as a summit of NATO heads gather in Madrid this week. Tyler Durden Thu, 06/30/2022 - 05:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 30th, 2022

Sri Lanka Suspends Fuel Sales Amid Economic Collapse; Asks Russians For Help 

Sri Lanka Suspends Fuel Sales Amid Economic Collapse; Asks Russians For Help  A broke and extremely cash-strapped Sri Lanka halted all fuel sales except for essential services in a desperate attempt to manage a severe fuel shortage -- allowing the government to buy some time and send two government officials to Russia to negotiate a fuel deal.  "From midnight today, no fuel will be sold except for essential services like the health sector, because we want to conserve the little reserves we have," government spokesman Bandula Gunawardana said in a pre-recorded statement, obtained by AFP News.  The Sri Lankan government announced only essential services would operate and be allowed access to fuel until July 10 because of a fuel shortage "Sri Lanka has never faced such a severe economic crisis in its history," Gunewardena added. The move comes less than a week after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the debt-laden economy of the island nation has "completely collapsed:"  "We are now facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity, and food. Our economy has faced a complete collapse.  "It is no easy task to revive a country with a completely collapsed economy, especially one that is dangerously low on foreign reserves," " Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament on June 22. Bajaj drivers with out fuel in sir Lanka on their daily activity. — Hassan (@Hassanelwa) June 27, 2022 "The country is also facing record-high inflation and lengthy power blackouts, all of which have contributed to months of protests -- sometimes violent -- calling on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down," AFP said.  While the government said talks were held with the IMF, India, China, and Japan for new credit lines, negotiations to purchase heavily discounted Russian crude oil are set to begin this week.  Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said the two ministers would arrive in Russia early this week to continue talks about directly purchasing Russian fuels, according to AP News.  "There is an advantage for us if we could buy oil directly from the Russian government or the Russian firms. There are talks going on," Wijesekera told reporters Sunday. Earlier this month, Sri Lanka turned to Russia for cheap oil to purchase crude roughly $30 below the international spot price. The South Asian country said it received 90,000 tons of Russian crude but will need a lot more.  Sri Lanka's move to take Russian oil raises Western eyebrows as the country has remained neutral since the Ukraine war began. The country is in collapse as foreign exchange reserves plummeted by 70% in the last two years and have suspended foreign debt repayments -- 10% of the $51 billion of the external debt owned is owed to China.  The government's mishandling of the country's economy and suspension of fuel sales could exacerbate social unrest.  Tyler Durden Mon, 06/27/2022 - 19:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 27th, 2022

Pentagon Blasts Putin"s Latest "Cavalier" Nuclear Threat

Pentagon Blasts Putin's Latest "Cavalier" Nuclear Threat The Pentagon on Monday in a belated reaction to Russian President Putin's Saturday announcement that Russia will be transferring nuclear-capable long missiles to Lukashenko's Belarus slammed "cavalier" and "irresponsible" nuclear saber-rattling. The US is apparently taking issue with Putin leaving open a nuclear transfer option, seen in the Saturday announcement alongside President Lukashenko as the two met in St. Petersburg: "In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions," Putin had said. Image: AFP via Getty Images In response, a senior defense official told reporters at a Monday briefing: "Certainly, any time anybody uses the word nuclear you have concerns. Quite honestly it seems pretty irresponsible of a national leader to talk about the employment of nuclear weapons and to do so in a generally cavalier fashion." Reuters wrote of the prior Russian announcement, "Russia will supply Belarus with Iskander-M missile systems, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a televised meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday. Delivery will take place within a few months, he added." Thus the Pentagon is taking the announced transfer of the Iskander missiles as another veiled nuclear threat, according to the US official: "The way that statement read from Putin was, 'Hey we’re going to give them Iskanders, and oh, by the way, they can hold nuclear weapons.' And everybody takes that very seriously when you use that language," the official said.   "Our strategic forces are always monitoring things in that regard," they added.  Iskander-M operates on a mobile system, and is generally described as capable of a range of up to 300 miles - again which can include conventional or nuclear warheads. Also on Monday, Russia stands accused of hitting a crowded Ukrainian shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk with a cruise missile, leading to at least ten fatalities: Videos show shopping mall in #Kremenchuk in Central #Ukraine on fire after reported Russian missile strike. Eyewitnesses say that there were many people inside. #Russia previously hit oil refinery there by long range missiles. #UkraineWar #UkraineRussiaWar #RussiaUkraine — Ivan Katchanovski (@I_Katchanovski) June 27, 2022 Amid growing accusations, Belarus has maintained that it has not been a direct participant in hostilities in Ukraine; however, it's well-known to have played the role of a key hub of Russian logistics and support. In the past days, Ukrainian defense and intelligence officials have alleged that the Kremlin is actively trying to draw Belarus into the war on its side. Kiev on Saturday said the northern Chernihiv region came under "massive bombardment" from rockets "fired from the territory of Belarus and from the air" in a major cross-border attack, which isn't the first time the Ukrainians have leveled such a charge. Tyler Durden Mon, 06/27/2022 - 16:55.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 27th, 2022

Twitter Just Fine With Assassination Threats Against Justice Clarence Thomas

Twitter Just Fine With Assassination Threats Against Justice Clarence Thomas While Twitter routinely bans conservatives, those who challenge the government-sanctioned Covid-19 narrative, or the results of the 2020 US election, threatening to assassinate a Supreme Court justice is just fine. "I'm going to assassinate supreme court justice Clarence Thomas," tweeted user @redfrnn after Friday's Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Upon reporting the tweet, Twitter said it didn't break the rules. In case anyone was wondering, threatening to assassinate a Supreme Court Justice doesn’t violate @Twitter rules. But people get suspended for stating scientific facts. — Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) June 24, 2022 The same user posted a picture of a Mac-9 MINI gun, tweeting "For those wondering .. No it's not a computer by apple." This was the last tweet before this guy threatened to assassinate a Supreme Court Justice. @FBI @TheJusticeDept @CapitolPolice @USMarshalsHQ @SecretService — Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) June 25, 2022 Twitter finally took the tweet down, and it appears that the user deactivated their own account, as opposed to a Twitter suspension. Meanwhile, an account posting Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home address is still active. Took you guys long enough. But of course, the account (@therealkingwack) is still active. @TwitterSafety is a joke. — Meara (@MillennialOther) June 25, 2022 Also meanwhile... Wow and this got me an instant suspension 2 days ago. — Choanps (@Boournszy) June 24, 2022 Tyler Durden Sun, 06/26/2022 - 14:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 26th, 2022

Russia To Transfer Nuclear-Capable Missiles To Belarus "Within Months": Putin

Russia To Transfer Nuclear-Capable Missiles To Belarus "Within Months": Putin At a moment US media and much of the West is consumed with the historic Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Russian President Vladimir Putin just issued what's possibly the most alarming and escalatory statement thus far in the four-month long Ukraine war. On Saturday Putin for the first time informed his close ally Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that he has approved supplying Belarus with nuclear capable long-range missiles. Minsk has long offered to host Russian nukes as a 'deterrent' against the West - a prospect which Lukashenko had very provocatively offered even in the months leading up to the Feb.24 invasion of Ukraine. This move will likely be viewed from Washington as a first step in moving toward a heightened nuclear posture in Eastern Europe. Image source: BelTA Reuters writes of the announcement, "Russia will supply Belarus with Iskander-M missile systems, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a televised meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday. Delivery will take place within a few months, he added." Putin referenced nuclear-capability, according to a transcript of the televised remarks: "In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions." The report underscores further that "The Iskander-M is a mobile guided missile system with a range of up to 500 km (300 miles). The missiles can carry conventional or nuclear warheads." Currently, Putin and Lukashenka are meeting face-to-face in St. Petersburg on the 30th anniversary of the two countries establishing diplomatic relations, which eventually led to the so-called 'Union State' pact of 1999, and has persisted till now, which also enabled Russia to muster much of its forces on Belarusian territory just ahead of the Ukraine invasion. Belarus has maintained that it has not been a direct participant in hostilities in Ukraine; however, it's well-known to have played the role of a key hub of Russian logistics and support. In the past days, Ukrainian defense and intelligence officials have alleged that the Kremlin is actively trying to draw Belarus into the war on its side. Kiev on Saturday said the northern Chernihiv region came under "massive bombardment" from rockets "fired from the territory of Belarus and from the air" in a major cross-border attack, which isn't the first time the Ukrainians have leveled such a charge. Ukrainian intelligence: #Russian bombers fired cruise missiles from #Belarus for the first time According to them, on the night of June 25, a massive missile and bomb strike was carried out on the territory of #Ukraine from Belarusian airspace, during which 6 Tu-22M3 were used. — NEXTA (@nexta_tv) June 25, 2022 "Today's strike is directly linked to Kremlin efforts to pull Belarus as a co-belligerent into the war in Ukraine," a Ukrainian intelligence statement said. Likely, Putin's announcement of an impending transfer of Iskander missiles to Belarus is also intended as a counter-action in response to Ukraine achieving EU-candidate status. While it's obvious that actual EU membership could take years, if it happens at all, the view from Moscow is that EU integration is typically followed by a bid for NATO membership. Tyler Durden Sat, 06/25/2022 - 16:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 25th, 2022

Fun AI Apps Are Everywhere Right Now. But a Safety ‘Reckoning’ Is Coming

Text-to-image tools have the potential to turbocharge harassment and spread misinformation If you’ve spent any time on Twitter lately, you may have seen a viral black-and-white image depicting Jar Jar Binks at the Nuremberg Trials, or a courtroom sketch of Snoop Dogg being sued by Snoopy. These surreal creations are the products of Dall-E Mini, a popular web app that creates images on demand. Type in a prompt, and it will rapidly produce a handful of cartoon images depicting whatever you’ve asked for. More than 200,000 people are now using Dall-E Mini every day, its creator says—a number that is only growing. A Twitter account called “Weird Dall-E Generations,” created in February, has more than 890,000 followers at the time of publication. One of its most popular tweets so far is a response to the prompt “CCTV footage of Jesus Christ stealing [a] bike.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] — Weird Dall-E Mini Generations (@weirddalle) June 14, 2022 If Dall-E Mini seems revolutionary, it’s only a crude imitation of what’s possible with more powerful tools. As the “Mini” in its name suggests, the tool is effectively a copycat version of Dall-E—a much more powerful text-to-image tool created by one of the most advanced artificial intelligence labs in the world. That lab, OpenAI, boasts online of (the real) Dall-E’s ability to generate photorealistic images. But OpenAI has not released Dall-E for public use, due to what it says are concerns that it “could be used to generate a wide range of deceptive and otherwise harmful content.” It’s not the only image-generation tool that’s been locked behind closed doors by its creator. Google is keeping its own similarly powerful image-generation tool, called Imagen, restricted while it studies the tool’s risks and limitations. The risks of text-to-image tools, Google and OpenAI both say, include the potential to turbocharge bullying and harassment; to generate images that reproduce racism or gender stereotypes; and to spread misinformation. They could even reduce public trust in genuine photographs that depict reality. Text could be even more challenging than images. OpenAI and Google have both also developed their own synthetic text generators that chatbots can be based on, which they have also chosen to not release widely to the public amid fears that they could be used to manufacture misinformation or facilitate bullying. Read more: How AI Will Completely Change the Way We Live in the Next 20 Years Google and OpenAI have long described themselves as committed to the safe development of AI, pointing to, among other things, their decisions to keep these potentially dangerous tools restricted to a select group of users, at least for now. But that hasn’t stopped them from publicly hyping the tools, announcing their capabilities, and describing how they made them. That has inspired a wave of copycats with fewer ethical hangups. Increasingly, tools pioneered inside Google and OpenAI have been imitated by knockoff apps that are circulating ever more widely online, and contributing to a growing sense that the public internet is on the brink of a revolution. “Platforms are making it easier for people to create and share different types of technology without needing to have any strong background in computer science,” says Margaret Mitchell, a computer scientist and a former co-lead of Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence team. “By the end of 2022, the general public’s understanding of this technology and everything that can be done with it will fundamentally shift.” The copycat effect The rise of Dall-E Mini is just one example of the “copycat effect”—a term used by defense analysts to understand the way adversaries take inspiration from one another in military research and development. “The copycat effect is when you see a capability demonstrated, and it lets you know, oh, that’s possible,” says Trey Herr, the director of the Atlantic Council’s cyber statecraft initiative. “What we’re seeing with Dall-E Mini right now is that it’s possible to recreate a system that can output these things based on what we know Dall-E is capable of. It significantly reduces the uncertainty. And so if I have resources and the technical chops to try and train a system in that direction, I know I could get there.” That’s exactly what happened with Boris Dayma, a machine learning researcher based in Houston, Texas. When he saw OpenAI’s descriptions online of what Dall-E could do, he was inspired to create Dall-E Mini. “I was like, oh, that’s super cool,” Dayma told TIME. “I wanted to do the same.” “The big groups like Google and OpenAI have to show that they are on the forefront of AI, so they will talk about what they can do as fast as they can,” Dayma says. “[OpenAI] published a paper that had a lot of very interesting details on how they made [Dall-E]. They didn’t give the code, but they gave a lot of critical elements. I wouldn’t have been able to develop my program without the paper they published.” In June, Dall-E Mini’s creators said the tool would be changing its name to Craiyon, in response to what they said was a request from OpenAI “to avoid confusion.” Advocates of restraint, like Mitchell, say it’s inevitable that accessible image- and text-generation tools will open up a world of creative opportunity, but also a Pandora’s box of awful applications—like depicting people in compromising situations, or creating armies of hate-speech bots to relentlessly bully vulnerable people online. Read more: An Artificial Intelligence Helped Write This Play. It May Contain Racism But Dayma says he is confident that the dangers of Dall-E Mini are negligible, since the images it generates are nowhere near photorealistic. “In a way it’s a big advantage,” he says. “I can let people discover that technology while still not posing a risk.” Some other copycat projects come with even more risks. In June, a program named GPT-4chan emerged. It was a text-generator, or chatbot, that had been trained on text from 4chan, a forum notorious for being a hotbed of racism, sexism and homophobia. Every new sentence it generated sounded similarly toxic. Just like Dall-E Mini, the tool was created by an independent programmer but was inspired by research at OpenAI. Its name, GPT-4chan, was a nod to GPT-3, OpenAI’s flagship text-generator. Unlike the copycat version, GPT-3 was trained on text scraped from large swathes of the internet, and its creator, OpenAI, has only been granting access to GPT-3 to select users. A new frontier for online safety In June, after GPT-4chan’s racist and vitriolic text outputs attracted widespread criticism online, the app was removed from Hugging Face, the website that hosted it, for violating its terms and conditions. Hugging Face makes machine learning-based apps accessible through a web browser. The platform has become the go-to location for open source AI apps, including Dall-E Mini. Clement Delangue, the CEO of Hugging Face, told TIME that his business is booming, and heralded what he said was a new era of computing with more and more tech companies realizing the possibilities that could be unlocked by pivoting to machine learning. But the controversy over GPT-4chan was also a signal of a new, emerging challenge in the world of online safety. Social media, the last online revolution, made billionaires out of platforms’ CEOs, and also put them in the position of deciding what content is (and is not) acceptable online. Questionable decisions have tarnished those CEOs’ once glossy reputations. Now, smaller machine learning platforms like Hugging Face, with far fewer resources, are becoming a new kind of gatekeeper. As open-source machine learning tools like Dall-E and GPT-4chan proliferate online, it will be up to their hosts, platforms like Hugging Face, to set the limits of what is acceptable. Delangue says this gatekeeping role is a challenge that Hugging Face is ready for. “We’re super excited because we think there is a lot of potential to have a positive impact on the world,” he says. “But that means not making the mistakes that a lot of the older players made, like the social networks – meaning thinking that technology is value neutral, and removing yourself from the ethical discussions.” Still, like the early approach of social media CEOs, Delangue hints at a preference for light-touch content moderation. He says the site’s policy is currently to politely ask creators to fix their models, and will only remove them entirely as an “extreme” last resort. But Hugging Face is also encouraging its creators to be transparent about their tools’ limitations and biases, informed by the latest research into AI harms. Mitchell, the former Google AI ethicist, now works at Hugging Face focusing on these issues. She’s helping the platform envision what a new content moderation paradigm for machine learning might look like. “There’s an art there, obviously, as you try to balance open source and all these ideas around public sharing of really powerful technology, with what malicious actors can do and what misuse looks like,” says Mitchell, speaking in her capacity as an independent machine learning researcher rather than as a Hugging Face employee. She adds that part of her role is to “shape AI in a way that the worst actors, and the easily-foreseeable terrible scenarios, don’t end up happening.” Mitchell imagines a worst-case scenario where a group of schoolchildren train a text-generator like GPT-4chan to bully a classmate via their texts, direct messages, and on Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp, to the point where the victim decides to end their own life. “There’s going to be a reckoning,” Mitchell says. “We know something like this is going to happen. It’s foreseeable. But there’s such a breathless fandom around AI and modern technologies that really sidesteps the serious issues that are going to emerge and are already emerging.” The dangers of AI hype That “breathless fandom” was encapsulated in yet another AI project that caused controversy this month. In early June, Google engineer Blake Lemoine claimed that one of the company’s chatbots, called LaMDA, based on the company’s synthetic-text generation software, had become sentient. Google rejected his claims and placed him on administrative leave. Around the same time, Ilya Sutskever, a senior executive at OpenAI suggested on Twitter that computer brains were beginning to mimic human ones. “Psychology should become more and more applicable to AI as it gets smarter,” he said. In a statement, Google spokesperson Brian Gabriel said the company was “taking a restrained, careful approach with LaMDA to better consider valid concerns on fairness and factuality.” OpenAI declined to comment. For some experts, the discussion over LaMDA’s supposed sentience was a distraction—at the worst possible time. Instead of arguing over whether the chatbot had feelings, they argued, AI’s most influential players should be rushing to educate people about the potential for such technology to do harm. “This could be a moment to better educate the public as to what this technology is actually doing,” says Emily Bender, a linguistics professor at the University of Washington who studies machine learning technologies. “Or it could be a moment where more and more people get taken in, and go with the hype.” Bender adds that even the term “artificial intelligence” is a misnomer, because it is being used to describe technologies that are nowhere near “intelligent”—or indeed conscious. Still, Bender says that image-generators like Dall-E Mini may have the capacity to teach the public about the limits of AI. It’s easier to fool people with a chatbot, because humans tend to look for meaning in language, no matter where it comes from, she says. Our eyes are harder to trick. The images Dall-E Mini churns out look weird and glitchy, and are certainly nowhere near photorealistic. “I don’t think anybody who is playing with Dall-E Mini believes that these images are actually a thing in the world that exists,” Bender says. Despite the AI hype that big companies are stirring up, crude tools like Dall-E Mini show how far the technology has to go. When you type in “CEO,” Dall-E Mini spits out nine images of a white man in a suit. When you type in “woman,” the images all depict white women. The results reflect the biases in the data that both Dall-E Mini and OpenAI’s Dall-E were trained on: images scraped from the internet. That inevitably includes racist, sexist and other problematic stereotypes, as well as large quantities of porn and violence. Even when researchers painstakingly filter out the worst content, (as both Dayma and OpenAI say they have done,) more subtle biases inevitably remain. Read more: Why Timnit Gebru Isn’t Waiting for Big Tech to Fix AI’s Problems While the AI technology is impressive, these kinds of basic shortcomings still plague many areas of machine learning. And they are a central reason that Google and OpenAI are declining to release their image and text-generation tools publicly. “The big AI labs have a responsibility to cut it out with the hype and be very clear about what they’ve actually built,” Bender says. “And I’m seeing the opposite.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeJun 23rd, 2022

"We"re Barely Making It": Furious Farmer Goes Viral Explaining Why Food Prices "Are Going To Go Up"

"We're Barely Making It": Furious Farmer Goes Viral Explaining Why Food Prices "Are Going To Go Up" Last week we noted how US farmer sentiment plummeted in May - as producers have become anxious about their farm's financial health. According to the monthly survey by Purdue University/CME Group, The rapid rise in production costs and uncertainty regarding the direction of input prices have been important contributors to the drop in sentiment. About 44 percent of farmers, according to the monthly survey, cited input costs as their biggest concern for the coming year, according to the Epoch Times. In fact, 60% of farmers predict farm input prices to be at least 30% higher this year compared to 2021. To that end, Ohio farmer Holly Weilnau took to TikTok two weeks ago in a now-viral video to explain how farmers are suffering under inflated input costs, which is going to send the price of food much higher than it is right now. "There are things that we have to buy," she sais, adding "There's something we have to buy that two years ago cost us $24, last year was about $46, this year it is costing us $96." "Please understand, food prices are going to go up," she continues. "You wanna act like it's the farmers' fault—it is not the farmers' fault. We are barely making it to grow the stuff so you guys are able to get it in August, September, October." @hwfaithfit Wake the hell up asap! Us farmers are doing the best we can to grow what you all are going to need, but we legitimately are taking from our own families to feed yours. #wakeup #food #growyourownfood #farmerwife #farmer #fyb #fitnessandfarming #greatreset2030 #freedom ♬ original sound - Holly W "Guys, this is not going away. Stop sticking your head in the sand and thinking 'oh, it's going to be okay' -- it's not going to fuckin' be okay." In a Saturday video, Weilnau relayed a story about another farmer who was unable to lock in diesel pricing for this fall, and was told that it was because of uncertainty amid rapidly rising diesel costs. "That alone, guys—to fill the tractors and the equipment needed to get the product out of the field—is going to be astronomically bad all the way around," she said, adding: "So understand, people are like, 'Oh, plan ahead'—we're trying. They're not letting us." They are not letting farmers plan ahead although they are trying. Shit is real, and gonna get way realer. Diesel is projected to be $9-10+ a gallon for the fall — The Oxygen Thief (@FrankieSnape) June 13, 2022 Oh - and at least as of this writing, Twitter considered Weilnau's videos "potentially sensitive content." This is far from the first farmer to offer a dire warning. Three weeks ago John Boyd Jr., the President of the National Black Farmers Association, said "We are in a crisis right now as far as the food chain goes with the farmer in this country," adding "We're going to see a lot of empty shelves and a lot more high food prices."  In his forty-year career as a farmer, Boyd said he never imagined he would be "paying $5.63 for a gallon of diesel fuel, $900 a ton for fertilizer, and all-time high prices for soybean seeds." All of the prices he mentioned are at record highs, pressuring farmers' margins.  He said the American people need to wake up to the crisis in the farming industry, adding, "farming isn't Republican or Democratic, it's food, the land is neutral … this is the time the American people need to support the American farmer and put pressure on the Biden administration to put things in place to help farmers." He mentioned that banks need to provide emergency funding to farmers to get their crops in the ground. Out-of-control inflation has left some farmers unable to plant because of soaring costs.  Boyd said, "We only have a short window of opportunity to give farmers funding." He stated the worst-case scenario is "a lot of shortages" of food that could materialize later this year.  Prepare accordingly. Tyler Durden Wed, 06/15/2022 - 18:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 15th, 2022

Novavax (NVAX) Down After FDA Raises Concern for Its COVID Jab

Before deciding the fate of Novavax's (NVAX) COVID-19 vaccine, a document issued by the FDA suggests that the vaccine may cause heart problems like myocarditis/pericarditis. Shares of Novavax NVAX were down 20% following a briefing document issued by the FDA on its COVID-19 vaccine for the upcoming Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee(VRBPAC) meeting, scheduled on Jun 7. The vaccine is yet to be authorized for use in the United States.The VRBPAC is set to give a recommendation on NVAX’s regulatory filing, seeking an emergency use authorization (EUA) for NVX-CoV2373, the latter’s protein-based COVID-19 vaccine.The FDA briefing document, issued ahead of the VRBPAC meeting, reports multiple events of heart inflammation diseases like myocarditis/pericarditis in some study participants who were administered the NVX-CoV2373 vaccine. Based on these events, the FDA document warns that an administration of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine may have a causal relationship with these heart diseases.However, the FDA document does not confirm the existence of this relationship between the vaccine and the heart problems. The regulatory agency believes that further evidence will be required to establish this relationship.Novavax issued a statement based on the above concerns raised by the FDA. Management stated that the adverse events like myocarditis are often caused by non-specific viral infections. NVAX also believes that there is insufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship between its vaccine and the above-mentioned events.This interpretation of Novavax is supported by data from the clinical development program it conducted on its COVID-19 vaccine, which shows that the rate of myocarditis was well balanced between the vaccine and the placebo arms.Shares of Novavax have plunged 68.7% so far this year compared with the industry’s 24% decline.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchWe remind investors that the FDA filing was submitted by NVAX earlier this year in January. The filing is based on data from the two pivotal phase III studies on the vaccine, one (PREVENT-19) conducted in the United States and Mexico, while another in the United Kingdom. The PREVENT-19 study achieved an overall vaccine efficacy of 90.4%, while data from the study conducted in the United Kingdom demonstrated that the vaccine achieved an overall efficacy of 89.7%.Novavax’s COVID vaccine already received authorization for use in multiple countries, including Australia, Canada, Europe and India. NVAX is currently marketing two versions of NVX-CoV2373, one marketed in partnership with the Serum Institute of India under the trade name Covovax while another version is produced by it and marketed under the trade name Nuvaxovid.Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine market in the United States is being dominated by pharma giants like Moderna MRNA and Pfizer PFE/BioNTech BNTX with NVAX trailing way behind.The two vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are based on the mRNA technology, which at present, exclusively received full approval for use in adults in the United States. The booster doses of these vaccines are also authorized for use in adults.The primary regimen of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID vaccine is currently the only one authorized for use in individuals aged five years and above in the United States. The third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is also the only one allowed for use in individuals aged 12 years and above.Although Moderna’s vaccine is yet to be authorized for use in individuals under 18 years of age (either as a primary regimen or a booster dose) in the United States, its management already submitted regulatory applications to this end, which are currently under the FDA review.Additionally, the FDA authorized the use of a second booster dose of Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines in older individuals (aged 50 years and beyond) as well as in certain immunocompromised individuals aged 18 years and above.Novavax, Inc. Price Novavax, Inc. price | Novavax, Inc. QuoteZacks RankNovavax currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Free: Top Stocks for the $30 Trillion Metaverse Boom The metaverse is a quantum leap for the internet as we currently know it - and it will make some investors rich. Just like the internet, the metaverse is expected to transform how we live, work and play. Zacks has put together a new special report to help readers like you target big profits. The Metaverse - What is it? And How to Profit with These 5 Pioneering Stocks reveals specific stocks set to skyrocket as this emerging technology develops and expands.Download Zacks’ Metaverse Report 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 Pfizer Inc. (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report Moderna, Inc. (MRNA): Free Stock Analysis Report Novavax, Inc. (NVAX): Free Stock Analysis Report BioNTech SE Sponsored ADR (BNTX): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJun 6th, 2022

68 cool Father"s Day gifts for all kinds of dads, from personalized football jerseys to hot sauce samplers

From budget whiskey glasses to personalized football jerseys and high-end vinyls, discover are the coolest gift ideas for Father's Day 2022. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.From budget whiskey glasses to personalized football jerseys and high-end vinyls, discover are the coolest gift ideas for Father's Day 2022.Courant and Darn ToughBuying the perfect gift for Dad can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Here, we've done the hard work for you and compiled the absolute best gifts that he'll love no matter the occasion. Whether it's a gift for Father's Day, an idea for his birthday, or just a thoughtful way to show your love, we found a number of unique gift ideas that are sure to impress even the toughest Dads to shop for.From a monthly steak subscription to a new record player or a comfy pillow, you can't go wrong with any of the gifts on this list.The 68 best Father's Day gifts for Dad:Gifts under $25Gifts under $50Gifts under $100Gifts over $100Gifts over $150Gifts over $300Gifts for dad under $25Really nice socks with a lifetime warrantyDarn ToughDarn Tough socks, from $16, available at Darn ToughWhen in doubt, remember: We've never met a man who was upset about opening a gift box to a fresh pair of high-quality socks. We love Darn Tough because its socks are durable, made entirely (or partially) from odor-resistant, sweat-wicking Merino, and come with a lifetime warranty. You can also spend as much as you want, nabbing him one pair for under $20 or splurging on a whole new sock drawer.A keepsake he can use for years to comeUncommon Goods/Business InsiderTicket Stub Diary, $14, available at Uncommon GoodsConcerts, museums, sporting events, or movies — regardless of what Dad's passionate about, this handy journal makes for efficient storage of sentimental memories that could otherwise get stained or ruined. With 118 ticket sleeves, there's plenty of room for upcoming memories as well.A self-filtering water bottleHydrosHydros Water Filter Bottle, $20, available at HydrosThe Hydros Water Filter Bottle is like gifting Dad his own portable Brita. The bottle filters any water poured into it, reducing the amount of chlorine and sediment. Plus, the filter is reliable through at least 40 gallons of liquid. It'll be any on-the-go Dad's go-to. A gift card for all things outdoorsREIREI Gift Card, from $10, available at REIFrom hiking and biking gear to vital cold-weather staples, REI is home to nearly anything and everything Dad could need. If you get a gift card over $30, Dad can use it to buy an REI lifetime membership to get discounts on future REI purchases and other perks.*Sponsored by REIA custom whiskey glassBRVOglass/EtsyPersonalized Whiskey Glass, $17.62, available at EtsyGreat for new dads, this custom, hand-etched whiskey glass can boast his proudest title alongside the year he became a father. Photos from reviewers go to show that this glass isn't just for whiskey — recipients have gotten creative by storing candy and other small gifts in their glasses.A gift card for the sports fanFanaticsFanatics gift card, from $10, available at FanaticsIf Dad's nostalgic for his college days or loves gearing up for his favorite sports season, give him the gift of variety with a Fanatics gift card. Fanatics is home to apparel, accessories, and memorabilia for just about every major sports team you can think of. An Audible subscriptionAudible/Business InsiderAudiblePlus subscription, from $7.95 per month, available at AudibleWith an Audible subscription, Dad gets unlimited access to thousands of audiobooks and podcasts. Plus, you can even have him test it out first with a free trial.Coasters with the classicsUncommon GoodsUpcycled Record Coasters, $18, available at Uncommon GoodsDad can reminiscence about his favorite jams while enjoying a drink with these coasters made from reclaimed records. The discs are specially sealed so moisture won't seep through and damage the surface.A nice tieThe Tie Bar/Business InsiderMen's Neckties, from $22, available at Tie BarNeckties might be a cliché gift for dads, but The Tie Bar makes some handsome ties that he'll actually wear on a regular basis. You'll find plenty of colors, patterns, and styles — and the best part is they're all affordably priced.A cookbook from his favorite burger jointAmazon/Business Insider"Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories," $22.49, available at AmazonIf your dad is a fan of Shake Shack, he'll love this cookbook that will teach him how to recreate all his favorites.A luxurious shave kitHarry'sHarry's Winston Shave Set, $25, available at Harry's (+ $15 for monogram)This shave set from Harry's is as sleek as it gets at this price. To go the extra mile, you can get his initials engraved into the razor. You can hear more about this set in our guide to the best shaving kits. A non-slip yoga towelREIManduka YogiToes Hand Towel, $20, available at REIManduka makes sweat-wicking towels with the sort of grippy silicone-nubbed underbelly that stays put through an entire class. If your Dad is happiest in hot yoga, this is a thoughtful gift that will make every class a little better.Gifts for dad under $50A leather iPhone wallet caseEtsyLeather Wallet Case, from $28.40, available at EtsyGet Dad a protective and stylish case for his iPhone that can also double as a handy wallet for storing cards. You can even get personalized with Dad's initials for an extra special touch. The case is available for iPhones ranging from the 6S to the 12 Pro Max. Personalized mugs for the whole familyUncommon GoodsPersonalized Family Mugs, from $32, available at Uncommon GoodsCreate custom mugs for your family — personalized for each person with their name on one side and their cartoon likeness on the other.A hot sauce sampler packAmazonThe Good Hurt Fuego Hot Sauces Sampler Pack, $31.99, available at AmazonIf you're not quite sure what kind of hot sauce your dad likes, this hot sauce sampler is a great gift idea. It features sauces made with peppers that come from India, Mexico, and beyond, and it has flavors ranging from Chipotle Pepper and Garlic Herb to Whiskey Habanero.A tiny tag to ensure he never loses his valuablesAppleApple AirTag, $29, available at AppleIf dad tends to frequently misplace his keys, wallet, or other valuables, help him out by gifting him a handy AirTag. The tags can be placed on just about any item and will connect to his phone so he can easily keep track of his stuff via the Find My app. For an extra personal touch, you can even get it engraved for free.A classic stovetop espresso makerAmazonBialetti 9-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker, $49.95, available at Crate & BarrelThis classic kitchen accessory is perfect for the coffee-loving dad who wants to bring cafe-quality coffee home. The Bialetti stovetop espresso maker not only makes great coffee, but it looks great on the counter. We made sure to include its six-cup counterpart in our guide to the best stovetop espresso makers, as the best overall pick. The new Amazon Echo to play music or answer cooking questions on the spotAmazonEcho Dot (4th Gen), $49.99, available at AmazonFrom music and trivia to help with converting grams to ounces while his hands are busy in the kitchen, an Amazon Echo is pretty convenient. If Amazon isn't his thing, we have other smart speaker recommendations from other brands here.A mat to help with dad's short gameAmazonRukket Tri-Turf Golf Hitting Mat, $49.99, available at AmazonFor the dad who loves to golf, this is one of the best golf hitting mats to help improve his short game from home. This compact, portable practice aid features three turf heights, to simulate rough, fairway, and close-cropped "collar" turf.A two-step skincare regimenAmazonBrickell Men's Daily Essential Face Care Routine II, $48, available at AmazonTime to up Dad's skincare game. Created specifically for men, the startup has become a favorite skincare brand for Reviews senior reporter Amir Ismael because it's simple and effective. Each product uses high-quality natural and organic ingredients. plus, the charcoal works great for deep pore cleansing without the long, drawn-out process, earning it a spot on our list of the best skincare brands.An electric toothbrushWalmartPhilips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, $49.99, available at AmazonHelp him ditch the manual toothbrush with Philips Sonicare, whose brushes are gentler on teeth and give brighter results over time. We recommend this one for its powerful cleaning and movements-per-minute. Plus, the rechargeable toothbrush is better for the environment.A beer growler for sipping at homeHouzzPersonalized Craft Beer Growler, $44, available at HouzzNow, Dad can take his favorite ales home with him to enjoy. This 64 oz growler comes personalized with his initials on it and includes four mini pilsner glasses.A durable, temperature-maintaining water bottleHydroflask InstagramHydro Flask 32 oz Wide Mouth, from $44.95, available at Hydro FlaskHydro Flasks are great for any situation, from camping to commuting. This durable, insulated water bottle does a masterful job of making sure drinks keep their temperatures (hot or cold).A freshly scented beard wash and conditioner setThe Art of ShavingThe Art of Shaving Beard Wash and Conditioner Set, $40, available at The Art of ShavingSoap and water can leave his facial hair dry and scratchy. Bearded dads need this soothing beard wash and conditioner set in their lives. A workout shirt he won't want to take offVuoriVuori Strato Tech Tee, $26, available at VuoriRegardless of whether Dad's a fitness guru or novice, an essential part of working out is the gear itself. Vuori makes extremely soft, comfy, and functional activewear. Our team loves the brand and has even dubbed it the best overall in our guide to the best men's workout clothes. Read our full review of Vuori clothing here. Gifts for dad under $100A rechargeable, water-resistant lantern for the backyardBioLiteBioLite AlpenGlow 250, $59.95, available at BioLiteIf dad likes to be outside, he'll think this rechargeable lantern is way cool. The AlpenGlow 250 shines 250 lumens of nature-inspired glows. Aside from a soft white, you can shake the soft lantern to activate special modes, including soft ombre sunsets and a candle flicker. A ceramic pizza stoneWiliams SonomaEmile Henry Pizza Stone, $59.95, available at Williams SonomaHomemade pizza is delicious, but it can be tricky to perfect. This ceramic pizza stone will make sure his pizza comes out perfectly cooked every time.A custom map posterGrafomapGrafomap Custom Map Poster, from $72.80, available at GrafomapGrafomap is a website that lets you design map posters of any place in the world. You can make one of your dad's hometown, his college town, his favorite travel destination, or the place where he got engaged or married — you're only limited by your imagination. A versatile, comfortable shirt he'll want to live inTen ThousandVersatile Shirt, from $54, available at Ten ThousandWe love this shirt, and your Dad will too. Ten Thousand's Versatile Shirt is our go-to for any kind of workout; we wear it running, biking, lifting weights, and even while doing yoga. It's supremely comfortable, has a flattering fit, and doesn't chafe or feel constricting. Our fitness and health editor owns four in a few different colors and rarely exercises without one. It's one of Insider's All-Time Best products, and you can read a full review of the Ten Thousand Versatile Shirt here.A handy, multi-functional toolAmazonLeatherman OHT Multi-Tool, $89.95, available at AmazonThis multi-functional tool does it all, plus it has a 25-year guarantee.Coasters that remind him of his favorite pastimeUncommon GoodsRecycled Ski Coasters Set, $60, available at Uncommon GoodsGet Dad coasters that remind him of his favorite bluebird days in the mountains. These are made from the midsections of skis that have flown down many backcountry runs.A streaming TV playerAmazonRoku Ultra, $89.99, available at Best BuyA media streaming device can transform your dad's regular TV into a smart one that plays shows and movies from Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Prime Video, and other streaming services. The best of the bunch is the Roku Ultra with its easy-to-use interface and 4K video streaming.Read our full review of the Roku Ultra here. A gift subscription to a popular coffee clubAtlas Coffee ClubAtlas Coffee Club 3-Month Gift Subscription, $60, available at Atlas Coffee ClubIf your dad's veins run dark roast, a coffee gift won't go unused. We recommend a subscription to the Atlas Coffee Club, which curates a global selection of single-origin coffee that gets freshly roasted and shipped to your house for about $9 per bag. Read our full review of the Atlas Coffee Club here. A stylish and sporty fanny packState BagsLorimer Fanny Pack, $59.50, available at State BagsIn case you hadn't heard, fanny packs are back, and the Lorimer from State Bags is the best way to get Dad back on trend. It's water-resistant, available in five colors, and is just understated enough to be a casual yet stylish foray into wearing a fanny pack again.A cozy and supportive pillowLeesaLeesa Pillow, $80, available at LeesaGive the gift of a good night's sleep with this luxurious and supportive pillow from mattress startup Leesa. Stylish computer glassesFelix GrayFelix Gray Blue Light Computer Glasses, from $95, available at Felix GrayIf he sits in front of a computer every day, he needs these blue light glasses that increase magnification, reduce glare, and filter out blue light in order to reduce eyestrain. They're also available with prescription lenses, which we tried and loved.Read our full review of Felix Gray blue light computer glasses here. A colorful swimsuitTom & TeddyTom & Teddy Men's Swim Shorts, from $94.95, available at Tom & TeddyMade from super-soft, quick-dry fabric, these swim trunks will make dad the star of your next beach or pool day. They come in an array of colors and prints, and you can even get matching father-and-son swim short sets.The Apple AirPods he's always wantedAmazonApple AirPods with Wired Charging Case, $99.99, available at AmazonSome of the best gifts are items that can be used every day — and AirPods fall into that category. Whether your dad likes listening to music and podcasts or prefers to talk on the phone hands-free, AirPods will quickly become an essential item for him. You can learn more about the different versions in our guide to the best AirPods. Nice, thick socks he won't have to constantly replaceBombasBombas Men's Performance Running Ankle Sock 6-Pack, $94.05, available at BombasLuxe socks are one of our favorite gifts to receive. Bombas are comfortable, durable, and worth every penny.Gifts for dad over $100A subscription for steaksAmazingClubsSirloin of the Month Club, from $129.95 per month, available at AmazingClubsMeat lovers will enjoy sinking their teeth into a premium cut of sirloin. Each month Dad will receive a mouth-watering selection of premium steaks curated by experts and shipped fresh right to his door. Choose from subscription options of three months, six months, 12 months, or every three months.Comfortable and stylish jeansMott & BowMott & Bow Wooster Dynamic Stretch Jeans, $118, available at Mott & BowGive the gift of good style with jeans from Mott & Bow. For more styles from the brand, check out our review of Mott & Bow's stretch-denim jeans. A garden tool set for the dad with a green thumbCutcoCutco 4-Piece Garden Tool Set, $111, available at CutcoIf gardening is one of your dad's favorite pastimes, this set has everything he could need when working outside. Each garden tool has a comfortable grip handle, a durable head, and depth marks. Tools are only one part of what he might need for his gardening adventures, so make sure to also check out our guides to the best gardening tools and best gardening tools for beginners.A device that improves golfing skillsAmazonArccos Caddie Smart Sensors, $179.99, available at AmazonIf your dad is a big golfer, this performance-tracking system is a fun addition to his golf bag.A compact gas grillThe Home DepotDyna-Glo 3-Burner Open Cart Propane Gas Grill, $139, available at Home DepotIf owning a grill is one of your dad's long-standing dreams, this one from Dyna-Glo is the one to get him. The best part is that it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. We've also put together a complete guide to grilling products, if you're looking for more grilling gifts for Dad. Cozy indoor/outdoor slippersDannerDanner Forest Moc Slippers, $149.95, available at REIKeep him cozy around the house and running errands in these rubber-soled leather booties from Danner. Lined with natural wool, his feet will stay warm (and ridiculously cozy) without overheating, and the outsoles offer a reliable grip when he can't bear to slip them off to leave the house.A sous-vide device for ambitious home cooksAmazonAnova Nano Sous Vide, $149.99, available at TargetFor under $100, the Anova sous vide is a reasonably priced investment that just might change Dad's life for the better. Not only will it boil and poach eggs with ease, but it'll also produce tender, perfectly cooked meat every time. It's so good that we name it the best overall pick in our guide to the best sous vide machines. Amazon's waterproof Kindle PaperwhiteAmazonAmazon Kindle Paperwhite, $109.99, available at AmazonIf your dad is tired of lugging around heavy hardcovers, the Kindle Paperwhite is an extremely thoughtful and practical gift. The latest version is now waterproof too. Read our full review of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite here. A personalized sports jerseyMLB ShopMLB Shop Custom Men's Jersey, from $149.99, available at the official MLB ShopNFL Shop Custom Men's Jersey, from $76.99, available at the official NFL Shop The sports-loving dad won't want to take this jersey off. At the MLB Shop and NFL Shop, you can order a personalized jersey with your dad's name on the back.Breathable and machine-washable sneakersAllbirdsAllbirds Wool Runners, $110, available at AllbirdsThese merino wool sneakers from Allbirds, Silicon Valley's favorite shoe brand, are the perfect mix of sporty and stylish. They come in tons of colors and are even machine washable.Read our full review of Allbirds Wool Runners here.A durable backpack and cooler comboCarharttCarhartt Medium Pack + 3 Can Insulated Cooler, $119.99, available at CarharttMade from a durable 500 denier Cordura ripstop material, this Carhartt backpack is perfect for outdoorsy dads. The included 3-can cooler is a great addition that'll let him carry a few cold brews on his fishing or camping trips.A subscription service for new vinyl every monthVinyl MeVinyl Me, Please 3-Month Gift Membership, $119, available at Vinyl Me, PleaseEvery person's vinyl collection is deeply personal, so instead of trying to guess his taste, let him choose the record himself. Each month, he'll choose and receive one LP, pressed exclusively for Vinyl Me, Please, from a collection of Essentials, Classics, and Rap & Hip Hop.The three-month gift membership includes one bonus record, while the six- and 12-month ones include two bonus records.Gifts for dad over $150An iPad he can use to work, watch movies, and do almost anything else withAppleApple iPad (Latest Model with Wi-Fi, 32GB), $294.99 available at AmazonTech-obsessed dads will love to get their hands on the latest iPad. For more information on the different iterations, check out our guide to the best iPads. A fast wireless charger and accessory trayCourantCatch:3 Charger Tray, $140, available at Staycourant.comGive your dad the gift of organization with this accessory tray and wireless charger combo. The pebbled leather is a much-needed upgrade from all the plastic tech accessories he has lying around, and the catchall tray is useful and thoughtful. It also means he'll stop asking you where his keys are three times before leaving the house. Soft, crisp sheets and beddingBrooklinenBrooklinen Classic Hardcore Sheet Bundle, from $195.71, available at BrooklinenBrooklinen's luxe sheets are among our favorites for their affordable price, sophisticated look, and unbelievable comfort. The company's Hardcore Sheet Bundles have everything your dad needs to completely makeover his bed, including a flat sheet, a fitted sheet, a duvet cover, and four pillowcases. Brooklinen also sells comforters, pillows, candles, and blankets. Read our full review of Brooklinen sheets here. A health and ancestry genetic test kit23andme23andMe Health and Ancestry Genetic Test Kit, $199, available at 23andMeThis genetic test kit from 23andMe is great for the dad who's interested in learning more about his family history. You can learn more about all this kit has to offer in our guide to the best DNA test kits. Personalized vinyl wall artUncommon GoodsPersonalized LP Record, $160, available at Uncommon GoodsCommemorate his birthday, anniversary, or any holiday with this custom record art. Made from an upcycled vinyl LP and suspended in a floating frame, this custom wall art can feature the soundtrack to their life or songs you share together. Choose from two retro designs, title the record, and add up to five personal song titles. A digital picture frame to display his favorite memoriesAuraAura Carver Digital Picture Frame, $179, available at AuraSometimes, all Dad wants is something sentimental and personal. A digital picture frame is the perfect gift for Dad because it means he can view his favorite photos from a single device. As long as the frame is hooked up to WiFi, your dad can enjoy the photos you've carefully curated, all day long in his office or home. You can hear about our experience with another Aura frame, here.A massage gun to use after working outTheragunTheragun Mini, from $199, available at TherabodyWhether Dad wants to recover after a grueling workout or just wants to be his own personal, at-home masseuse, a massage gun is an excellent gift. This model, Theragun's Mini, is our pick of the best entry-level massage gun, as it has a modest price tag yet still comes standard with a number of features found on more expensive, premium options. An at-home workout systemTRXTRX Suspension Trainer Basic Kit, $166.50, available at Amazon For the active dad, you can bring the gym home with this TRX trainer.A leather iPad caseLeatherologyLeatherology iPad Portfolio, from $190, available at LeatherologyThis leather iPad portfolio comes in 17 colors, so there's sure to be one that your dad will like. You can even get it monogrammed for an extra personal touch. An alarm clock that uses light to wake him up gentlyAmazonPhilips Light Alarm Clock, $169.99, available at AmazonJust because Dad has to wake up before the sun rises doesn't mean he has to awaken to the blaring of an obnoxious alarm clock.Philips makes a lovely alarm clock that gradually lights up to mimic the sunrise and wake him up naturally. The light alarm clock also displays the time and has customizable sounds so he can wake up feeling rested and ready for the day. This clock is also one of the top picks in our buying guide, so you can be sure he'll love it.Gifts for dad over $300A modern turntableU-Turn AudioU-Turn Audio Orbit Special Turntable, $499, available at U-TurnThis turntable is the sleek home accessory your dad didn't know he needed. He can bring his old records out of storage and enjoy them with this modern record player. A sophisticated smartwatch to track his fitness goalsAmazonSuunto 7, $399, available at AmazonFor a worthy splurge for the fitness-obsessed dad, the Suunto 7 is a feature-rich and highly accurate smartwatch that offers tracking for more than 70 different activities, is comfortable to wear, and offers useful training feedback anyone can benefit from. It can also give alerts for texts, emails, and has numerous other handy smart features dad will surely appreciate. We even named it the best running watch you can buy.Read our full review of the Suunto 7 here.Modern over-ear headphonesAntonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderSony WH-1000XM4 headphones, $348, available at AmazonThese over-ear headphones from Sony are a must-have for frequent travelers as they have incredible noise cancellation that does well to drown out the drum of a car engine or airplane. They also deliver clear audio which is perfect for when Dad wants to jam out to his favorite album or catch up on some podcast episodes.A fancy device that helps relieve muscle sorenessTherabodyTherabody PowerDot 2.0, $349, available at TherabodyWhether he's sore from too much exercise or not exercising enough, Therabody's PowerDot is a compact, easy-to-use TENS machine, similar to those used by physical therapists. The electrical stimulation massages any muscle, which helps lessen pain from injuries or from training. The device comes with a guidebook for where to place the sensors and an intuitive app to run him through different kinds of pain relief programs.A pair of durable, all-weather bootsAllen EdmondsHiggins Mill Weatherproof Boot, $475, available at Allen EdmondsThe Higgins Mill Weatherproof Boot from Allen Edmonds is a do-it-all boot that fends off inclement weather, looks good at the office or out on the town, and is built to last for years. It's an investment piece type gift for Dad who will no doubt crown them his new favorite boots after unboxing a pair this holiday season. A set of adjustable dumbbellsNordicTrackNordicTrack Select-A-Weight 55 lb. Dumbbell Set, $499, available at NordicTrackIf Dad is looking to up his fitness game, these adjustable dumbbells from NordicTrack are one of the most versatile ways to help him do it. The weights adjust from 10 pounds on up to 55 pounds, allowing for a variety of strength training exercises, no matter where Dad is on his fitness journey. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 1st, 2022

Why the GOP kicked Madison Cawthorn to the curb but Marjorie Taylor Greene remains in good standing

An RNC member told Insider the difference between Cawthorn and Greene is "she says bad things about whole groups of people," but not GOP colleagues. Republicans mobilized to oust first-term Rep. Madison Cawthorn, left, but not Rep. Marjorie Taylor GreeneJabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images, Joe Raedle/Getty Images Republican Reps. Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene have both caused headaches for the GOP. But Greene cruised to victory in her Tuesday primary, while Cawthorn lost his. Cawthorn faced the wrath of the GOP establishment, but Greene has been able to avoid the same fate. First there were the driving infractions, gun-related incidents, and ethics issues. Then came the explosive comments about everyone from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Then, when he claimed his colleagues participated in cocaine-fueled orgies, Republicans had enough of freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn. The North Carolinian's GOP primary loss to state Sen. Chuck Edwards, who was backed by several North Carolina Republican heavyweights, represented a stunning fall for a 26-year-old congressman, a once-rising star in Republican politics.His ouster also raises a question of why local and national Republicans alike haven't similarly mobilized to boot Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, another prominent freshman Republican with a penchant for inflammatory statements and rankling fellow Republicans.  "I think both of their reputations are terrible," a member of the Republican National Committee told Insider, requesting anonymity to speak candidly about the state of the party."He made the mistake of directly accusing Republicans of something," the RNC member said of Cawthorn, "where she says bad things about whole groups of people — but generally not about other [GOP] Congress people."Greene, elected to a safe red district in Georgia in 2020, was removed from her committee assignments shortly into her term 2021 over a series of inflammatory, conspiratorial, and anti-Semitic tweets she posted before holding office and had her personal account permanently suspended from Twitter in 2022.She's gotten into in-person confrontations with her colleagues on Capitol Hill, including one that spurred a Democratic member to move offices. But as the RNC member noted, Greene has tended to lay off her GOP colleagues with some exceptions, such as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who's fighting for survival in a primary race set to take place on August 16.More recently, Greene's come under scrutiny for an outburst at President Joe Biden's state of the union address and for also speaking at a white-nationalist conference headlined by Nick Fuentes, who the Anti-Defamation League has described as a "well-known white supremacist pundit and organizer."But on Tuesday night, Greene easily defeated multiple Republican primary challengers with nearly 70% of the vote, facing no coordinated opposition from the Republican party apparatus in her state. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene easily jettisoned her rivals for the GOP primary in her deeply-Republican congressional districtScreenshot via Insider/Decision Desk HQFirstly, Greene had a big financial edge. She established herself as a highly effective small-donor fundraiser early on, and has used her platform and fundraising prowess to boost other Republican candidates. She's also joined forces with fellow high-profile House Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz to form a joint fundraising committee. So far in the 2022 cycle, she's raised a whopping $9.2 million, spent $6.6 million, and has $3 million in cash on hand.Cawthorn, on the other hand, also made a big splash on social media but failed to match it with similarly prolific fundraising. He only brought in $3.6 million, spent nearly all of it, and has just over $130,000 in cash on hand — less than half of the nearly $325,000 in debt his campaign holds.Cawthorn still significantly outraised and outspent his challengers, including Edwards — but it wasn't enough to save him in the end. Like other ambitious politicians seeking to boost their profiles, Cawthorn had a leadership PAC, which he acronymized to MADISON. But the PAC only brought in $10,000 in 2022, and shut down within 24 hours of Cawthorn losing his primary.Greene is also adept at attracting and energizing a crowd, as Insider's Warren Rojas reported from a rally held for gubernatorial candidate David Perdue in Greene's district. Cawthorn, on the other hand, was largely MIA in his own district in the weeks leading up to his primary, Politico Magazine's Michael Kruse documented for a deeply-reported piece on the last days of Cawthorn's campaign."In the middle of last week, in the middle of the day, in the middle of a campaign, his main district office was locked. 'WORKING BY APPOINTMENT ONLY,' said a sign on the door," Kruse wrote, adding that "at a meet-and-greet at a gun store in Cherokee County, a supporter positioned his pickup truck to block the view of a photographer from POLITICO."The group that posted a viral sexually explicit video of a nude Cawthorn in bed with another man didn't bother with Greene's race and is now focusing instead on Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado for its next takedown."MTG, for all her faults and disgusting behavior and the desire on our part to take her down, that's just not gonna happen in that district — ever," David B. Wheeler, a Democrat and co-founder of the American Muckrakers PAC, told Insider. "Even if she got indicted, or was caught robbing a bank, she's still gonna get reelected in that district. They love her.""We're not gonna spend resources or donors' money just to raise donor money and then waste it," Wheeler added. "So that's why we're out here chasing Lauren Boebert."While Greene may cause headaches with a considerable degree of frequency for congressional Republican leadership, Cawthorn's ouster became personal for the party establishment, the RNC member explained."It was personal for them to get rid of him, I think, more personal because of the direction he took," the RNC member said, referencing Cawthorn's cocaine orgy comments. "And clearly he shouldn't be there in the first place, but neither should she."Nicole Gaudiano contributed reporting. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 25th, 2022

Pentagon Mulls Sending Special Forces To Protect US Diplomats At Kyiv Embassy

Pentagon Mulls Sending Special Forces To Protect US Diplomats At Kyiv Embassy Three months after the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, suspended operations because of the Russian invasion, it officially resumed operations last Wednesday. The reopening has put forward various plans by the Biden administration to stack the facility with special operations personnel.  U.S. officials told WSJ the Biden administration is weighing a range of options to protect American diplomats in the warzone where the embassy is within range of Russian missiles. Their presence on the ground would be an escalation considering Biden said no U.S. troops would be deployed to the country.  Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement upon the embassy's reopening last week, "We are officially resuming operations at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia's unconscionable invasions, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the embassy once again." The Stars and Stripes fly again over Embassy Kyiv. I can announce that we have officially resumed Embassy operations in Ukraine’s capital. We stand proudly with the government and people of Ukraine as they bravely defend their country from Putin’s brutal invasion. Slava Ukraini! — Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 18, 2022 Blinken said the reopening would include "enhanced security measures and protocols."  As for now, the State Department has assembled a security team of guards from the Diplomatic Security Service.  "Preliminary planning is underway at the Pentagon and the State Department for possibly dozens of special forces troops who could augment security at the embassy, or could stand by to deploy if needed," WSJ notes.  Officials are also considering a Marine security guard detachment, similar to those that guard embassies worldwide. No formal proposals have been sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, and or President Biden.  "We are in close touch with our colleagues at the State Department about potential security requirements now that they have resumed operations at the embassy in Kyiv.  "But no decisions have been made, and no specific proposals have been debated at senior levels of the department about the return of U.S. military members to Ukraine for that or any other purpose," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said.  The move to reopen the embassy with U.S. diplomats and the desire to place boots in a hot zone will undoubtedly attract new threat risks to Americans that could escalate the conflict.  Tyler Durden Mon, 05/23/2022 - 04:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 23rd, 2022

Social Media Companies Vowed To Stop Videos of Terror Attacks. Buffalo Showed They Have More Work To Do

Three years after social media platforms committed to put an end to viral videos of terrorist attacks on their platforms, the attack in Buffalo, New York, has revealed that their efforts are still a work in progress. A self-professed white supremacist targeted Black shoppers at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, killing 10 people and injuring… Three years after social media platforms committed to put an end to viral videos of terrorist attacks on their platforms, the attack in Buffalo, New York, has revealed that their efforts are still a work in progress. A self-professed white supremacist targeted Black shoppers at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, killing 10 people and injuring three others, in what authorities said was a racist attack. He livestreamed his rampage via Twitch, a streaming platform owned by Amazon. Twitch said it took down the broadcast within two minutes of the violence starting—but that was enough time for copies of the video to be downloaded and shared widely on social media platforms over the weekend. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Many versions of these videos had been edited—with added text or blurring or cropping—in apparent successful attempts to evade the platforms’ automated removal systems, according to Jacob Berntsson, the head of policy and research at Tech Against Terrorism, a U.N.-backed project for countering online extremism. Copies of the video were circulating on Twitter and Facebook on Saturday and Sunday, according to multiple media reports. “He knew that as long as there was time for people to watch and download, then this would spread [online] regardless of how quickly Twitch took it down,” said Berntsson in an interview on Monday, referring to the attacker. “Clearly an audience was ready and prepared to download this kind of stuff.” The Buffalo shooter had openly shared his plans to target people of color in a livestreamed mass shooting for months on the chat app Discord, according to Bloomberg. He used the app to point people toward his livestream on Twitch, the report said. Discord did not respond to a request for comment. Inspired by previous attacks Live-streamed attacks by white supremacists are a potent radicalization tool for future extremists, and platforms have struggled to remove edited copies of the videos of past attacks. In March 2019, a white supremacist gunman in New Zealand massacred 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, livestreamed on Facebook. Months later, a man with a camera on his helmet attacked a synagogue in Halle, Germany, killing two and injuring two others, livestreamed on Twitch. Videos of both attacks were shared widely on social media platforms, prompting a game of whack-a-mole between tech companies and users. Read More: ‘A Game of Whack-a-Mole.’ Why Facebook and Others Are Struggling to Delete Footage of the New Zealand Shooting The Buffalo shooter was directly radicalized by those videos. In a manifesto posted online shortly before the attack, seen by TIME, the Buffalo shooter said that he was inspired by the Christchurch attacker’s politics, and that he decided to live stream his own attack in order to inspire others. He also said he chose to stream on Twitch because it had taken the platform 35 minutes to remove the livestream of the Halle attack. Compared to the Halle attack, the two minutes that it took Twitch to remove the video of the Buffalo attack speaks to the progress tech companies have made since 2019. “That’s a very strong response time considering the challenges of live content moderation, and shows good progress,” Twitch said in a statement to TIME on Monday, adding that it was working hard to stop copies of the video being uploaded. Facebook’s parent company, Meta, and Twitter said that they had designated the videos under their violence and extremism policies shortly after the shooting, and were removing copies of it from their platforms, as well as blocking links to external sites where it was hosted. Read More: ‘There’s No Such Thing As a Lone Wolf.’ The Online Movement That Spawned the Buffalo Shooting Still, despite their progress, tech companies’ work so far has not been enough to stop the spread of these videos—either before they occur, during the livestream, or in the places where copies of the video are being reuploaded. “I’ll blame the platforms when we see other shooters inspired by this shooter,” says Dia Kayyali, the associate director for advocacy at digital rights group Mnemonic. “Once something is out there, it’s out there. That’s why the immediate response has to be very strong.” How platforms are cooperating to stop terrorist content The biggest platforms are now collaborating far more closely than they were at the time of other livestreamed terror attacks. In the immediate wake of the New Zealand attack, many of the world’s biggest social media platforms signed onto the “Christchurch Call,” a commitment to stamp out the spread of terrorist content online. Through an industry group, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), the platforms are sharing identifying data about the Buffalo shooter’s video and manifesto between them in order to make it easier to remove from their sites. Through GIFCT, platforms share encoded versions of of terrorist content, known as hashes, that they have removed from their sites, allowing, for example, Facebook to quickly and easily remove a copy of a terrorist video that had only appeared on Twitter up to that point. Hashing is an efficient way of representing a video, photograph or other document as a string of numbers, instead of sharing the file itself. It is impossible to recreate a piece of content from its hash code, but identical content will always return the same hash code if run through the same hashing algorithm. If the hash code of a new piece of content is matched to an entry in a hash database of known illegal content, the tech companies can remove the content even if their own staff have never come across it before. This makes hashing a good way for different platforms to share information about illegal content, such as terrorist propaganda or child abuse imagery, without having to distribute these files among themselves. Members include Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Twitter and Discord. The problem with hashing, however, is that a bad actor only needs to alter the file a small amount—for example by changing its color profile, or cropping the picture—to return a totally different hash code, and thus evade the platforms’ automated removal mechanisms. So, three years after the Christchurch attack, the only tool required to fool the platforms’ automated systems for removing terrorist content is basic video editing software, plus some persistence. This is known as “adversarial” behavior and makes the problem of scrubbing terrorist content from the internet far more difficult, according to Kayyali and Berntsson. Read More: These Tech Companies Managed to Eradicate ISIS Content. But They’re Also Erasing Crucial Evidence of War Crimes While hashing’s shortcomings are not the root cause of the problem, some counterterrorism experts say they are one of the core weaknesses in the platforms’ current joint approach to terrorist content. “The patchy response from various platforms that are [members] of the hash-sharing database arguably suggests that improvements can be made,” Berntsson says. “Platforms should be able to handle this, but it still speaks to the fact that there are groups of people who are quite committed to circumventing the moderation tools that are in place.” In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said that hash-sharing is only a small part of the company’s approach to dealing with the Buffalo video. The company has teams of human moderators looking for copies that have slipped through, and has also uploaded copies of the video and manifesto to its own internal databases. The company says it uses machine learning tools to catch lookalike copies of videos in the database even if they have been altered—although it’s clear from the video’s proliferation that these tools are not 100% accurate. But beyond hash sharing, the gains made by Meta’s computational resources and workforce will only help remove copies of the video from Meta’s own platforms, not other social media sites like Twitter, Twitch or TikTok. This means many companies are duplicating the work needed to identify and take down altered copies of the videos, at a time when human bandwidth is often the bottleneck in terms of enforcement against terrorist content. A GIFCT spokesperson told TIME on Monday that the group was exploring ways other than hashing of sharing information about terrorist content between platforms, but said that those explorations had not progressed past their earliest stages. Some in the sector have lost patience with the platforms. “I’m sure there’s issues with people remixing content and only posting a clip of it, and all of the tricks that we know to try to evade automatic detection,” says Kayyali, who sits on civil-society advisory boards for both the Christchurch Call and GIFCT. “But still, I want to hear exactly the technical explanation from GIFCT about how it was possible that hours after [they shared hashes of the video among the platforms] the video was still out there.” A wider problem Even if big tech platforms could scrub terrorist content entirely, it still flourishes on smaller platforms. As the shooter’s open planning on Discord showed, many of the people circulating the video are likely collaborating through private messaging channels and smaller social networks. Only 22 people watched the Buffalo attacker’s Twitch stream in real time, according to the Washington Post. But this was all it took for some of them—presumably directed to the stream by the attacker himself on Discord—to download and spread the video far and wide. Most experts say that in addition to the big platforms, governments and the media also have a role to play. Under current U.S. law, domestic terrorists are not designated as terrorists in the same way that, for example, Islamist extremists are. This means platforms don’t have the legal certainty that they do when dealing with content from Al Qaeda and ISIS, which they have largely succeeded in scrubbing from their platforms. “Designation can help provide some more legal certainty and clarity for companies,” says Berntsson. His organization Tech Against Terrorism has its own tool similar to GIFCT for alerting platforms to terrorist content. And while the shooter said in his manifesto that he had been radicalized by the video circulating online of the Christchurch attack, racist conspiracy theories have entered into the political mainstream via other channels, including cable television. The Buffalo shooter spoke in his manifesto about his belief that white people were being intentionally replaced in the U.S. by people of other races—a conspiracy theory that has recently been picked up, and amplified, by the Fox TV show host Tucker Carlson and Republican politicians. “It doesn’t start when this individual presses ‘stream’ on Twitch,” says Berntsson. “It starts long before.” – WITH REPORTING BY VERA BERGENGRUEN/WASHINGTON, D.C......»»

Category: topSource: timeMay 17th, 2022

Trump Says There"s "No Way" Musk Will Buy Twitter Owing To Large Number Of "Bots Or Spam Accounts"

Trump Says There's "No Way" Musk Will Buy Twitter Owing To Large Number Of "Bots Or Spam Accounts" Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times, Former President Donald Trump on Saturday said there is “no way” that Elon Musk will buy Twitter at “such a ridiculous price” while pointing to the number of fake accounts and bots on the social media platform. Trump took to his own social media platform, Truth Social, to make the comments shortly after billionaire tech mogul Musk announced that his deal to buy Twitter was “temporarily on hold” until detailed information becomes available supporting that bots or fake accounts make up fewer than 5 percent of users on the platform. “There is no way Elon Musk is going to buy Twitter at such a ridiculous price, especially since realizing it is a company largely based on BOTS or Spam Accounts,” Trump wrote. “Fake anyone?” he added. “By the time you get rid of them, if that can even be done, what do you have? Not much? If it weren’t for the ridiculous Billion Dollar breakup fee, Elon would have already been long gone.” The former president went on to tout his own platform, adding that in his opinion it was “much better than Twitter” and is “absolutely exploding” with “incredible engagement!” In his post regarding fake or spam accounts on May 13, Musk shared a Reuters report from early May stating that Twitter had estimated in a filing that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5 percent of its monetizable daily active users during the first quarter. Twitter said in its April 28 filing (pdf) that “there are a number of false or spam accounts in existence on our platform.” “We have performed an internal review of a sample of accounts and estimate that the average of false or spam accounts during the first quarter of 2022 represented fewer than 5 percent of our mDAU [monetizable daily active users] during the quarter,” the company added. “Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5 percent of users,” Musk said in his Twitter post. The announcement sent shares of Twitter tumbling. However, Musk followed it up with a second post shortly after noting that he is “still committed” to the acquisition and explained that his team will do a “random sample of 100 followers of Twitter” to find out the percentage of fake accounts. “I invite others to repeat the same process and see what they discover,” the Tesla CEO added. It was announced last month that Musk would take Twitter private for $54.20 a share, putting the firm’s value at about $44 billion. The businessman has said that if he is successful in purchasing Twitter, he intends to authenticate all real humans on the platform. “If our twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying,” Musk said in an April 21 post. He followed that message up with a pledge to “authenticate all real humans.” Elsewhere, Musk has said he will reinstate Trump’s Twitter account should his deal prove successful, stating that the social media platform’s decision to ban Trump was “morally bad.” Trump was permanently suspended from the social networking site in January 2021, after it accused him of violating the company’s “Glorification of Violence” policy. “I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” Musk told a Financial Times conference on May 10. “I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” he added. For now, though, Trump has no plans to return to Twitter. Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 08:51.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 16th, 2022

Big Bottle: Breaking Down The Baby Formula Nightmare

Big Bottle: Breaking Down The Baby Formula Nightmare Authored by Matt Stoller via BIG, Big Bottle and the Baby Formula Apocalypse As anyone with an infant knows, there is a major crisis in the feeding of America’s babies right now, because parents in some areas can’t get baby formula. A few months ago, a major producer of formula - Abbott Labs - shut down its main production facilities in Sturgis, Michigan, which had been contaminated with the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii, killing two babies and injuring two others. Abbott provides 43% of the baby formula in the United States, under the brand names Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, so removing this amount of supply from the market is the short-term cause of the problem. (Abbott and Mead Johnson produce 80% of the formula in the U.S., and if you add in Nestle, that gets to 98% of the market.) The problem is not, however, that there isn’t enough formula, so much as the consolidated distribution system creates a lot of shortages in specific states. First, it’s hard to convey what a nightmare this situation is for parents, especially those whose children require special kinds of formula because of gastrointestinal issues or food allergies. “The shortage has led us to decide to put a feeding tube in our child,” said one parent, who simply could not get the specialized formula her daughter needs. Baby formula is not just food, but the primary or sole nutrition for a vulnerable person in a stage of life in which very specific nutritional requirements are necessary for growth. Baby formula was created during the 19th century as we developed modern food preservation techniques. Before this remarkable innovation, baby starvation was common if a mother couldn’t breastfeed her infant (which happens a lot). The invention of industrialized formula was one of those creations we take for granted, but like antibiotics and other medical and scientific advances, it was one that fundamentally changed parenthood and the family. This shortage is showing just how reliant we are on industrialized formula. The causal factor behind the crisis is poor regulation and a consolidated and brittle supply chain. Imports from Europe are often prohibited, even if there were excess productive capacity elsewhere. I spent a bit of time calling around to people who work in formula, and the industry is basically on a war footing. Everyone is panicking, because the situation is, in short, a nightmare. I’m going to try and lay out the situation, and explain the market structure. There are two basic mechanisms that have created a concentrated and brittle market. The first is that regulators are tough on newcomers, but soft on incumbents. And the second is that the Federal government buys more than half of the baby formula in the market, and under the guise of competitive bidding, it in fact hands out monopoly licenses for individual states. That makes it impossible to get newcomers of any scale into the market, along with the more resiliency that such competition brings. It also makes it hard to address shortages in one state with extra formula from elsewhere. But first, let’s start by following the money. Financial Returns or Your Baby’s Life The simplest way to understand why there’s a shortage is to look at the incentives for the CEO of Abbott Labs. Here’s a Reuters report coming out of the company’s investor call in April, after the factory shutdown was underway. Keep in mind, the executives on this call are the people responsible for managing this vital resource, and here’s how seriously they took the problem. “Abbott called the recall a "short-term hindrance" and said it was working closely with the regulator and has begun implementing corrective actions and enhancements to the facility. Abbott shares rose 2.4% to $122.90 in morning trade as some analysts said the comments during the conference call allayed worries over the recall. Despite the recall and supply chain issues, Abbott beat quarterly profit and revenue estimates in the first quarter.” Not a single Wall Street analyst asked about the recall. Why? In some ways, it’s because it doesn’t matter that much to the bottom line. Abbott Labs is a diversified medical devices and health care company, and its nutritional segment is a relatively small part part of its business. But also, if you need baby formula, which is highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and distributed by a monopoly-friendly system run by the Department of Agriculture, where else are you gonna go? And that’s the problem. Baby formula is a shared monopoly, and we are at the mercy of Abbott Labs, Read Johnson, and Nestle. And their execs know it. So how does this shared monopoly work? Let’s start with the regulators. The Failed Priesthood at the FDA Entering the baby formula market is a difficult process, and takes years of work. For instance, Bobbie, which makes European-style formula with a contract manufacturer, is the first firm to come into the market in five years. Bobbie is also a direct to consumer niche firm, so it doesn’t have the scale to address the market dislocation at hand. It was a rough road getting started; the firm faced a recall and a shut down purely for manufacturing in Germany, and it had to go through millions of dollars of capital and a steep learning curve to get its product accepted by the FDA. The reason for regulatory hurdles seems good, on the surface. Manufacturing formula is very specific, it’s not like a snack bar, it fits in somewhere between medication and food in the regulatory spectrum. Congress put extremely detailed instructions in the Infant Formula Act of 1980. To get a product approved, an entrant needs protein efficiency studies, thousands of quality tests from raw ingredients to the end product, nutritional tests to make sure it is suitable for infants, and approvals for new suppliers. There are specialized forms of formula for babies with different conditions. Naturally, starting a new formula firm takes a massive amount of time, patience, and capital. And that’s if you just want to make a product and can even find a contract manufacturer to produce it for you. There is just one contract manufacturer of baby formula in the U.S. - Perrigo Nutritionals, and it requires a large initial order volume, which adds a hurdle to new potential firms. What about new factories? Earlier this year, a nutrition company ByHeart became just the fourth infant formula brand to have its own factory, something no one else had done in fifteen years. Certifying a factory for infant formula, like making a new product, is difficult and expensive. Is this expense necessary? Not entirely. The institutional risk tolerance of the FDA is extraordinarily low. FDA officials see themselves as an elite priesthood, pursuing excellence merely by dint of being at the FDA. From this perspective, there is zero incentive to let new players into the baby formula market when, in their view, there are already excellent quality companies serving the market, such as Abbott Labs, Mead Johnson, and Nestle. It’s true that baby formula is overpriced in the U.S., costing about twice as much as it does throughout much of Europe. But to an FDA official, price is incidental. The thinking goes, who wants to be the official that accidentally lets a reckless entrepreneur poison a bunch of babies, just so that there’s some competition in a market that is already delivering good products? When there is no problem at hand, there is no reason to allow innovation in the industry, or additional capacity. The problem, of course, is that the FDA is harsh to newcomers, but deferential to incumbents. According to Healthy Babies Bright Futures, baby formula made by the big guys in the U.S. is full of dangerous brain-altering heavy metals. HBBF tested thirteen different baby formulas, and every single one had “detectable levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead and/or mercury,” which are all considered to be neurotoxic, interfering with brain development and “causing permanent IQ reductions in children.” Moreover, FDA inspections of Abbott plants are obviously a disaster. Abbott had old and dirty equipment making formula, falsified records, deceived regulators, had bad product tracing, and did not fix problems after discovery. FDA inspectors noticed problems with the plant in September, but ignored them. Then, a whistleblower told the FDA of these problems in October, but regulators didn’t even bother to interview him/her until December. Moe Tkacik, in a viral Twitter thread, persuasively laid out parallels to the Boeing/FAA disaster. So, the origin of the baby formula pocalypse was Abbott management's refusal to repair dilapidated and failure-prone drying machines turning the plant into proverbial petri dishes for cronobacter, because... They needed that $5.73 billion for stock buybacks, obvs — moe tkacik (@moetkacik) May 11, 2022 So that’s the regulatory problem. Then there’s the market structure, which creates a lumpy distribution system when there’s a shortage. Rebates and Scams The biggest buyer of infant formula in the U.S. is WIC, or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which is run by the Department of Agriculture. Roughly half of women get formula from WIC. Rather than food stamps, which is a set amount of cash that can be used for most products, most states only allow women to buy formula from one company, though each company offers a bunch of different brands. To save money, the government requires states to hold auctions to get the lowest price for formula. The problem is, state agencies use a complex rebating system to give the contract for the entire state to one manufacturer, and that contract can only be changed once every four years. Here’s the USDA explaining the program. Typically, WIC State agencies obtain substantial discounts in the form of rebates from infant formula manufacturers for each can of formula purchased through the program. In exchange for rebates, a manufacturer is given the exclusive right to provide its product to WIC participants in the State. These sole-source contracts are awarded on the basis of competitive bids. The brand of formula provided by WIC varies by State depending on which manufacturer holds the contract for that State. This rebate system distorts the entire market in a state, because it’s just not worth having alternative formulas on a retail shelf if half of the buyers simply cannot purchase those formulas. As a result, the market tips to the WIC supplier, and that supplier raises prices on non-WIC recipients, and does so by between 26-35%. Here’s what happened to the baby formula market in California when the WIC contract changed hands. This whole scheme, done under the guise of welfare, is essentially a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the poor, done by enriching the baby formula cartel. The monopoly friendly program design was peddled by the anti-poverty group the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which is both on the center-left of the political spectrum and aligned with Wall Street. This brings us back to the shortage. According to Truthout, Abbott is the monopoly provider of formula for 34 states, seven Indian tribal organizations, four territories and Washington, D.C. So that’s where we’d expect the shortages to be focused. Because of the design of the program, it’s not particularly easy to move different kinds of formula to WIC recipients. And that, perhaps more than any actual national shortage, is the problem. Here’s the Wall Street Journal today. “The FDA said overall the nation’s infant formula manufacturers are making enough to meet demand even w/out Abbott’s main factory online. The industry sold more formula in April than it did the month before the recall, the FDA said." The White House echoed these claims, asserting that “more infant formula has been produced in the last four weeks than in the four weeks preceding the recall.” There’s a well-known black market in formula, which speaks to the dysfunction of the distribution system. The shortages are concentrated in certain areas even if nationally there might be enough to get by. According to Heather Bottemiller Evich, there are just “6 states that had baby formula out-of-stock rates higher than 50 percent: Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota were 50-51%. Missouri was 52%. Texas was 53% and Tennessee was 54%.” But nationally, it’s not so bad. However, not all data sets suggest outages this high. @iriworldwide, which pulls information directly from retailers, found that the average in-stock rate is currently about 79% across the U.S. — far below the pre-pandemic norms of 95%, but not critically low. — Helena Bottemiller Evich (@hbottemiller) May 11, 2022 In some ways, the problem is that there’s baby formula, but it’s not in the right place (though the Sturgis factory was a monopoly producer of lots of specialized formulas, so the actual shortage itself is a huge problem). The simplest solution here is to get aggressive and capable leadership around logistics, and then move the formula where it needs to go. We’ll have to open up imports temporarily, and move supply around the country while allowing WIC recipients to buy non-contract brands. I suspect at some point the Biden administration will get their hands on the situation, and fix it. There will be Congressional hearings, and Abbott’s CEO will get yelled at. Longer-term, I hope there will be consequences. First, we need to explore forcing Abbott to break off its nutritional division from the rest of the firm, since it’s fairly obvious that there’s little corporate focus on making sure the baby formula division is run well. Conglomerates are usually inefficient. Second, Congress should really restructure the WIC program so that the auctions don’t create monopolies, and lumpy distribution patterns that induce regional shortages. Finally, the FDA needs wholesale reform, since this kind of crisis seems to happen a lot. I mean, the relationship between the FDA and Abbott Labs was also behind the rapid Covid testing scandal, where FDA official Tim Stenzel - who had worked at Abbott - then approved Abbott as one of two firms to make those tests, and blocked all other entrants. That’s why rapid Covid tests were both in shortage and much more expensive in the U.S. than they are in Europe. The FDA needs to be broken up so that its drugs and food divisions are separate, and it needs to take its mandate seriously for a resilient supply chain. In some ways, this baby formula crisis is the same problem as United having passenger David Dao being beaten up in 2017 and removed from the plane, to public horror and Congressional rage. United’s stock went up after the incident. Or it’s like nurses wearing garbage bags at the beginning of the pandemic because of our dependence on China, and the sad reality that policymakers in the last two years have refused to stop sourcing from China. Hopefully, these kinds of failures, and the public rage, are laying the groundwork for wholesale reform of our government. At every level of policymaking, we have a systemic bias against people who focus on making things, in favor of well-branded monopolists and cloistered regulators who are obsessed with fanciness instead of actual critical thinking. And that’s no way to run a democracy. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 13th, 2022