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Finland & Sweden Seek To Calm Russia By Ruling Out NATO Bases & Nuke-Hosting

Finland & Sweden Seek To Calm Russia By Ruling Out NATO Bases & Nuke-Hosting Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Thursday that Helsinki is opposed to NATO deploying nuclear weapons or establishing bases inside Finland if it joins the military alliance. Marin said she didn’t think there was much interest in NATO for nuclear deployments or permanent bases inside Finland. "Nor do I think there is any interest in deploying nuclear weapons or opening NATO bases in Finland," she emphasized. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has also said Sweden doesn’t plan on hosting NATO nuclear weapons or bases. Nuclear submarine operating in Arctic waters, file image While the US, Britain, and France are the only NATO members with their own nuclear stockpiles, US nuclear weapons are deployed in other NATO states under a nuclear-sharing agreement. Under the agreement, there are US nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Moscow will respond to the expansion of NATO military infrastructure inside Sweden or Finland. Top Kremlin officials have recently warned of a nuclear build-up in the Baltics if Finland is admitted into NATO, as Newsweek reports: Russia has stated that if Sweden and Finland join NATO, it would move nuclear weapons closer to the two countries. "There can be no more talk of any nuclear–free status for the Baltic [region]," said Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that Putin had already ordered the military to boost its forces opposite Europe. While the two nations have no interest in nuclear weapons or bases, NATO could still send troops and other military equipment to the countries on a rotational basis. Reported locations of some of NATO's nuclear stockpile under US sharing agreement, via Daily Mail Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO on Wednesday, but Turkey blocked the alliance from holding talks on their membership. Ankara is opposed to the Nordic countries joining due to their alleged support for the PKK and the export controls they imposed on Turkey. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said Thursday that he’s working on getting Turkey to change its position. * * * A briefing by the global monitor Arms Control Center includes the following estimates on NATO nukes: How Many? The United States and its NATO allies do not disclose exact figures for its European-deployed stockpiles. In 2021, it is estimated that there are 100 U.S.-owned nuclear weapons stored in five NATO member states across six bases: Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel Air Base in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi Air Bases in Italy, Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands, and Incirlik in Turkey. The weapons are not armed or deployed on aircraft; they are instead kept in WS3 underground vaults in national airbases, and the Permissive Action Link (PAL) codes used to arm them remain in American hands. To be used, the bombs would be loaded onto dual-capable NATO-designated fighters. Each country is in the process of modernizing its nuclear-capable fighters to either the F-35A, the F-18 Super Hornet, or the Eurofighter Typhoon. Tyler Durden Sat, 05/21/2022 - 07:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 21st, 2022

Gordon Chang: What To Do About China

Gordon Chang: What To Do About China Authored by Gordon Chang via The Gatestone Institute, Since about 2018, Chinese officials have been talking about the moon and Mars as sovereign Chinese territory, part of the People's Republic of China. This means that China considers those heavenly bodies to be like the South China Sea. This also means that China will exclude other nations from going to the moon and Mars if they have the capability to do so. We do not have to speculate about that: Chinese officials say this is what they are going to do. [W]hen Biden says, "Oh, the Chinese just want to compete with us," he is wrong. They do not want to "compete" within the international system. They do not even want to change that system... They want to overthrow it altogether, period. Is Xi Jinping really that bold... to start another war? ... First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. Second the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. We Americans don't pay attention to propaganda... After all, these are just words. At this particular time, these words... [suggest] to me that China is laying the justification for a strike on the United States. We keep ignoring what Beijing is saying. We kept ignoring what Osama bin Laden was saying. We have to remember that the Chinese regime, unlike the Japanese, always warn its adversaries about what it is going to do The second reason war is coming is that America's deterrence of China is breaking down. Di's message was that with cash, China can do anything it wants, and that all Americans would take cash. He mentioned two words in this regard: Hunter Biden. In February, [Biden] had a two‑hour phone call with Xi Jinping. By Biden's own admission, he didn't raise the issue of the origins of COVID‑19 even once. If you are Xi Jinping, after you put down the receiver, your first thought is, "I just got away with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans." We have news that China is building something like 345 missile silos in three locations: in Gansu, Xinjiang, and in Inner Mongolia. These silos are clearly built to accommodate the DF‑41. The DF‑41 has a range of about 9,300 miles, which means that it can reach any part of the United States. The DF‑41 carries 10 warheads. This means that China could, in about two years..., have a bigger arsenal than ours. ...we have to assume the worst because Chinese leaders and Chinese generals, on occasion, unprovoked, have made threats to nuke American cities. In July, 2021 China tested a hypersonic glide warhead, which circled the world. This signals China intends to violate the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is a party. As of today, more than eight million people have died outside China. What happened? No one imposed costs on China. For at least a half‑decade, maybe a little bit longer, Chinese military researchers have been openly writing about a new type of biological warfare....They talk about a new type of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks." In other words, pathogens that will leave the Chinese immune but sicken and kill everybody else, which means that the next disease from China can be a civilization killer. A lot of military analysts talk about how the first seconds of a war with China are going to be fought in outer space. They are going to blind our satellites, take them down, do all sorts of stuff. Those statements are wrong. The first day of war against the United States occurs about six months earlier, when they release pathogens in the United States. Then we are going to have that day in space. The war starts here, with a pathogen ‑‑ a virus, a microbe, a bug of some kind. That is where it begins. The One‑China policy is something many people misunderstand. Probably because Beijing uses propaganda to try to fuzzy up the issue.... China has a One‑China principle: that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, full stop. We have a One‑China policy..., that the status of Taiwan is unresolved.... that the resolution of the status of Taiwan must be with the consent of people on both sides of the Strait. We need a policy of "strategic clarity," where we tell China that we will defend Taiwan. We also say we will extend a mutual defense treaty to Taiwan if it wants it, and we will put American troops on the island as a tripwire. We are Americans. We naturally assume that there are solutions, and good solutions, to every problem. After three decades of truly misguided China policy, there are no ... solutions that are "undangerous." ...The current trend of policy is unsustainable. There will be no American republic if we continue to do what we are currently doing and if we continue to allow China to do what it does. I do not think that enforcing a trade deal will start World War III. China has not met its obligations. As of a few months ago, China had met about 62% of its commitments..... We should be increasing the tariffs that President Trump imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Remember, those tariffs are meant to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. China has continued to steal US IP. As matter of fact, it has gotten worse... I do not think that we should be trying to foster integration of Wall Street into China's markets.... Do not take it from me, just look at their failure to comply with very simple, easy‑to‑comply-with requirements. It was a mistake. The best response would be if we hit them with everything at once because China right now is weak. If we were going to pick the number one thing to do, I would think trade. China now has a debt crisis, so they are not going to invest their way out of this crisis, which means the only way they can save their economy is net exports. We should stop buying their stuff. China has bought the political establishment in the Solomon Islands, except for one brave man named David Suidani. Recently, somebody got the bright idea of publishing all of the specific payments that Beijing has made to Solomon Islands politicians.... We should be doing this with payments to American politicians, we should be doing this across the board. What bothers me is that, although their assumptions about China have demonstrably been proven wrong, American policymakers still continue with the same policies. There is, in some people's mind, an unbreakable view that we have to cooperate with China.... This is what people learn in international relations school when they go to Georgetown, and they become totally stupid. Clearly, Nike and Apple and other companies are now, at this very moment, trying to prevent Congress from enacting toughened rules on the importation of forced‑labor products into our country. Moreover, the Chinese regime is even more casualty‑averse than we are. Even if Beijing thinks it can take Taiwan by force, it is probably not going to invade because it knows an invasion would be unpopular with most people in China. It is not going to risk hundreds of thousands of casualties that would result from an invasion. Unfortunately..., we taught the Chinese that they can without cost engage in these dangerous maneuvers of intercepting our planes and our ships. That is the problem: because as we have taught the Chinese to be more aggressive, they have been. [W]e should have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that they cannot kill Americans without cost. Hundreds of thousands Americans have been killed by a disease that China deliberately spread. From October 2020 to October 2021, more than 105,000 Americans died from fentanyl -- which China has purposefully, as a matter of state and Communist Party policy -- sold to Americans... we have to change course. I would close China's four remaining consulates. I would also strip the Chinese embassy down to the ambassador and his personal staff. The thousands who are in Washington, DC, they would be out. I would also raise tariffs to 3,600%, or whatever. This is a good time to do it. We have supply chain disruptions. We are not getting products from China anyway. We can actually start to do this sort of stuff. I would... just hammer those guys all the time verbally. People may think, "Those are just words." For communists, words are really important, because they are an insecure regime where propaganda is absolutely critical. I would be going after the Communists on human rights, I would be going after them on occupying the South China Sea, on Taiwan, unrelentingly -- because I would want to show the world that the United States is no longer afraid of China.... State Department people, they are frightened. We need to say to the Chinese regime, like Dulles, "I'm not afraid of you. I'm going after you, and I'm going to win." Is Xi Jinping really that bold... to start another war?... First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. Second the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. All the conditions for history's next great war are in place. Jim Holmes, the Wiley Professor at the Naval War College, actually talks about this period as being 1937. 1937 was the year in which if you were in Europe or America, you could sense the trouble. If you were in Asia in 1937, you would be even more worried, because that year saw Japan's second invasion of China that decade. No matter where you lived, however, you could not be sure that the worst would happen, that great armies and navies around the world would clash. There was still hope that the situation could be managed. As we now know, the worst did happen. In fact, what happened was worse than what anyone thought at the time. We are now, thanks to China, back to 1937. We will begin our discussion in Afghanistan. Beijing has had long‑standing relations with the Afghan Taliban, going back before 9/11, and continuing through that event. After the US drove the Taliban from power and while it was conducting an insurgency, China was selling the group arms, including anti‑aircraft missiles, that were used to kill American and NATO forces. China's support for killing Americans has continued to today. In December 2020, Indian Intelligence was instrumental, in Afghanistan, in breaking up a ring of Chinese spies and members of the Haqqani Network. The Trump administration believed that the Chinese portion of that ring was actually paying cash for killing Americans. What can happen next? We should not be surprised if China gives the Taliban an atomic weapon to be used against an American city. Would they be that vicious? We have to remember that China purposefully, over the course of decades, proliferated its nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan and then helped Pakistan sell that Chinese technology around the world to regimes such as Iran's and North Korea's. Today, China supports the Taliban. We know this because China has kept open its embassy in Kabul. China is also running interference for the Taliban in the United Nations Security Council. It is urging countries to support that insurgent group with aid. It looks as if the Taliban's main financial backers these days are the Chinese. Beijing is hoping to cash in on its relationship in Central Asia. Unfortunately, there is a man named Biden, who is helping them. In early August, Biden issued an executive order setting a goal that by 2030, half of all American vehicles should be electric‑powered. To be electric‑powered, we need rare earth minerals, we need lithium. As many people have said, Afghanistan is the Saudi Arabia of rare earths and lithium. If Beijing can mine this, it makes the United States even more dependent on China. It certainly helps the Taliban immeasurably. Unfortunately, Beijing has more than just Afghanistan in mind. The Chinese want to take away our sovereignty, and that of other nations, and rule the world. They actually even want to rule the near parts of the solar system. Yes, that does sound far‑fetched, but, no, I'm not exaggerating. Chinese President Xi Jinping would like to end the current international system. On July 1, in a landmark speech, in connection with the centennial of China's ruling organization, he said this: "The Communist Party of China and the Chinese people, with their bravery and tenacity, solemnly proclaim to the world that the Chinese people are not only good at taking down the old world, but also good in building a new one." By that, China's leader means ending the international system, the Westphalian international system. It means he wants to impose China's imperial‑era notions of governance, where Chinese emperors believed they not only had the Mandate of Heaven over tianxia, or all under Heaven, but that Heaven actually compelled the Chinese to rule the entire world. Xi Jinping has been using tianxia themes for decades, and so have his subordinates, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who in September 2017 wrote an article in Study Times, the Central Party School's influential newspaper. In that article, Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy ‑‑ a "thought" in Communist Party lingo is an important body of ideological work ‑‑ Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy made innovations on and transcended the traditional theories of Western international relations of the past 300 years. Take 2017, subtract 300 years, and you almost get to 1648, which means that Wang Yi, with his time reference, was pointing to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which established the current system of sovereign states. When Wang Yi writes that Xi Jinping wants to transcend that system, he is really telling us that China's leader does not want sovereign states, or at least no more of them than China. This means that when Biden says, "Oh, the Chinese just want to compete with us," he is wrong. They do not want to "compete" within the international system. They do not even want to change that system so it is more to their liking. They want to overthrow it altogether, period. China is also revolutionary with regard to the solar system. Since about 2018, Chinese officials have been talking about the moon and Mars as sovereign Chinese territory. In other words, as part of the People's Republic of China. This means that China considers those heavenly bodies to be like the South China Sea: theirs and theirs alone. This also means that China will exclude other nations from going to the moon and Mars if they have the capability to do so. We do not have to speculate about that: Chinese officials say this is what they are going to do. Let us return to April 2021. Beijing announced the name of its Mars rover. "We are naming the Mars rover Zhurong," the Chinese said, "because Zhurong was the god of fire in Chinese mythology, " How nice. Yes, Zhurong is the god of fire. What Beijing did not tell us is that Zhurong is also the god of war—and the god of the South China Sea. Is Xi Jinping really that bold or that desperate to start another war? Two points. First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. The second point is that the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. On the first point, about our enemy status, we have to go back to May 2019. People's Daily, the most authoritative publication in China, actually carried a piece that declared a "people's war" on the US. This was not just some isolated thought. On August 29th 2021, People's Daily came out with a landmark piece that accused the United States of committing "barbaric" acts against China. Again, this was during a month of hostile propaganda blasts from China. On the August 29th, Global Times, which is controlled by People's Daily, came right out and also said that the United States was an enemy or like an enemy. We Americans don't pay attention to propaganda. The question is, should we be concerned about what China is saying? After all, these are just words. At this particular time, these words are significant. The strident anti‑Americanism suggests to me that China is laying the justification for a strike on the United States. We keep ignoring what Beijing is saying. We kept ignoring what Osama bin Laden was saying. We have to remember that the Chinese regime, unlike the Japanese, always warn its adversaries about what it is going to do. Jim Lilley, our great ambassador to Beijing during the Tiananmen Massacre, actually said that China always telegraphs its punches. At this moment, China is telegraphing a punch. That hostility, unfortunately, is not something we can do very much about. The Chinese Communist regime inherently idealizes struggle, and it demands that others show subservience to it. The second reason war is coming is that America's deterrence of China is breaking down. That is evident from what the Chinese are saying. In March of 2021, China sent its top two diplomats, Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi, to Anchorage to meet our top officials, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Yang, in chilling words, said the US could no longer talk to China "from a position of strength." We saw the same theme during the fall of Kabul. China then was saying, "Look, those Americans, they can't deal with the insurgent Taliban. How can they hope to counter us magnificent Chinese?" Global Times actually came out with a piece referring to Americans: "They can't win wars anymore." We also saw propaganda at that same time directed at Taiwan. Global Times was saying, again, in an editorial, an important signal of official Chinese thinking, "When we decide to invade, Taiwan will fall within hours and the US will not come to help." It is probably no coincidence that this propaganda came at the time of incursions into Taiwan's air-defense identification zone. We need to be concerned with more than just the intensity and with the frequency of these flights, however. We have to be concerned that China was sending H‑6K bombers; they are nuclear‑capable. Something is wrong. Global Times recently came out with an editorial with the title, "Time to warn Taiwan secessionists and their fomenters: war is real." Beijing is at this moment saying things heard before history's great conflicts. The Chinese regime right now seems to be feeling incredibly arrogant. We heard this on November 28th in 2020, when Di Dongsheng, an academic in Beijing, gave a lecture live-streamed to China. Di showed the arrogance of the Chinese elite. More importantly, he was showing that the Chinese elite no longer wanted to hide how they felt. Di, for instance, openly stated that China could determine outcomes at the highest levels of the American political system. Di's message was that with cash, China can do anything it wants, and that all Americans would take cash. He mentioned two words in this regard: Hunter Biden. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden is reinforcing this notion. China, for instance, has so far killed nearly one million Americans with a disease that it deliberately spread beyond its borders. Yet, what happened? Nothing. We know that China was able to spread this disease with its close relationship with the World Health Organization. President Trump, in July of 2020, took us out of the WHO. What did Biden do? In his first hours in office, on January 20th, 2021, he put us back into the WHO. In February, he had a two‑hour phone call with Xi Jinping. By Biden's own admission, he didn't raise the issue of the origins of COVID‑19 even once. If you are Xi Jinping, after you put down the receiver, your first thought is, "I just got away with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans." Then there's somebody named John Kerry. Our republic is not safe when John Kerry carries a diplomatic passport, as he now does. He is willing to make almost any deal to get China to sign an enhanced climate arrangement. Kerry gave a revealing interview to David Westin of Bloomberg on September 22, 2021. Westin asked him, "What is the process by which one trades off climate against human rights?" Climate against human rights? Kerry came back and said, "Well, life is always full of tough choices in the relationship between nations." Tough choices? We Americans need to ask, "What is Kerry willing to give up to get his climate deal?" Democracies tend to deal with each other in the way that Kerry says. If we are nice to a democracy, that will lead to warm relations; warm relations will lead to deals, long‑standing ties. Kerry thinks that the Chinese communists think that way. Unfortunately, they do not. We know this because Kerry's successor as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in February 2009, said in public, "I'm not going to press the Chinese on human rights because I've got bigger fish to fry." She then went to Beijing a day after saying that and got no cooperation from the Chinese. Even worse, just weeks after that, China felt so bold that it attacked an unarmed US Navy reconnaissance vessel in the South China Sea. The attack was so serious that it constituted an act of war. The Chinese simply do not think the way that Kerry believes they do. All of this, when you put it together, means that the risk of war is much higher than we tend to think. Conflict with today's aggressor is going to be more destructive than it was in the 1930s. We have news that China is building something like 345 missile silos in three locations: in Gansu, Xinjiang, and in Inner Mongolia. These silos are clearly built to accommodate the DF‑41. The DF‑41 has a range of about 9,300 miles, which means that it can reach any part of the United States. The DF‑41 carries 10 warheads. This means that China could, in about two years, as some experts think, have a bigger arsenal than ours. China has built decoy silos before. We are not sure they are going to put all 345 missiles into these facilities, but we have to assume the worst because Chinese leaders and Chinese generals, on occasion, unprovoked, have made threats to nuke American cities. This, of course, calls into question their official no‑first‑use policy, and also a lot of other things. China will not talk to us about arms control. We have to be concerned that China and Russia, which already are coordinating their military activities, would gang up against us with their arsenals. In July, 2021 China tested a hypersonic glide warhead, which circled the world. This signals China intends to violate the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is a party. It also shows that in hypersonic technology, which was developed by Americans, China is now at least a decade ahead of us in fielding a weapon. Why is China doing all this now? The country is coming apart at the seams. There is, for instance, a debt crisis. Evergrande and other property developers have started to default. It is more than just a crisis of companies. China is basically now having its 2008. Even more important than that, they have an economy that is stumbling and a food crisis that is worsening year to year. They know their environment is exhausted. Of course, they also are suffering from a continuing COVID‑19 epidemic. To make matters worse, all of this is occurring while China is on the edge of the steepest demographic decline in history in the absence of war or disease. Two Chinese demographers recently stated that China's population will probably halve in 45 years. If you run out those projections, it means that by the end of the century, China will be about a third of its current size, basically about the same number of people as the United States. These developments are roiling the political system. Xi Jinping is being blamed for these debacles. We know he has a low threshold of risk. Xi now has all the incentive in the world to deflect popular and regime discontent by lashing out. In 1966, Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic, was sidelined in Beijing. What did he do? He started the Cultural Revolution. He tried to use the Chinese people against his political enemies. That created a decade of chaos. Xi Jinping is trying to do the same thing with his "common prosperity" program. The difference is that Mao did not have the means to plunge the world into war. Xi, with his shiny new military, clearly does have that ability. So here is a 1930s scenario to consider. The next time China starts a conflict, whether accidentally or on purpose, we could see that China's friends -- Russia, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan -- either in coordination with China or just taking advantage of the situation, move against their enemies. That would be Ukraine in the case of Russia, South Korea in the case of North Korea, Israel in the case of Iran, India in the case of Pakistan, and Morocco in the case of Algeria. We could see crises at both ends of the European landmass and in Africa at the same time. This is how world wars start. *  *  * Question: Why do you believe China attacked the world with coronavirus? Chang: I believe that SARS‑CoV‑2, the pathogen that causes COVID‑19, is not natural. There are, for example, unnatural arrangements of amino acids, like the double‑CGG sequence, that do not occur in nature. We do not have a hundred percent assurance on where this pathogen came from. We do, however, have a hundred percent assurance on something else: that for about five weeks, maybe even five months, Chinese leaders knew that this disease was highly transmissible, from one human to the next, but they told the world that it was not. At the same time as they were locking down their own country ‑‑ Xi Jinping by locking down was indicating that he thought this was an effective way of stopping the disease -- he was pressuring other countries not to impose travel restrictions and quarantines on arrivals from China. It was those arrivals from China that turned what should have been an epidemic confined to the central part of China, into a global pandemic. As of today, more than eight million people have died outside China. What happened? No one imposed costs on China. For at least a half‑decade, maybe a little bit longer, Chinese military researchers have been openly writing about a new type of biological warfare. This was, for instance, in the 2017 edition of "The Science of Military Strategy," the authoritative publication of China's National Defense University. They talk about a new type of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks." In other words, pathogens that will leave the Chinese immune but sicken and kill everybody else, which means that the next disease from China can be a civilization killer. Remember, Xi Jinping must be thinking, "I just got away with killing eight million people. Why wouldn't I unleash a biological attack on the United States? Look what the virus has done not only to kill Americans but also to divide American society." A lot of military analysts talk about how the first seconds of a war with China are going to be fought in outer space. They are going to blind our satellites, take them down, do all sorts of stuff. Those statements are wrong. The first day of war against the United States occurs about six months earlier, when they release pathogens in the United States. Then we are going to have that day in space. The war starts here, with a pathogen ‑‑ a virus, a microbe, a bug of some kind. That is where it begins. Question: You mentioned 1939. Taiwan is the Poland of today. We get mixed signals: Biden invites the Taiwanese foreign minister to his inauguration, but then we hear Ned Price, his State Department spokesman, say that America will always respect the One‑China policy. Meaning, we're sidelining defending Taiwan? Chang: The One‑China policy is something many people misunderstand. Probably because Beijing uses propaganda to try to fuzzy up the issue. China has a One‑China principle: that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, full stop. We have a One‑China policy, which is different. We recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China. We also say that the status of Taiwan is unresolved. Then, the third part of our One‑China policy is that the resolution of the status of Taiwan must be with the consent of people on both sides of the Strait. In other words, that is code for peace, a peaceful resolution. Our policies are defined by the One‑China policy, the Three Communiques, Reagan's Six Assurances, and the Taiwan Relations Act. Our policy is difficult for someone named Joe Biden to articulate, because he came back from a campaign trip to Michigan, and he was asked by a reporter about Taiwan, and Biden said, "Don't worry about this. We got it covered. I had a phone call with Xi Jinping and he agreed to abide by the Taiwan agreement." In official US discourse, there is no such thing as a "Taiwan agreement." Some reporter then asked Ned Price what did Biden mean by the Taiwan agreement. Ned Price said, "The Taiwan agreement means the Three Communiques the Six Assurances, the Taiwan Relations Act, and the One‑China policy." Ned Price could not have been telling the truth because Xi Jinping did not agree to America's position on Taiwan. That is clear. There is complete fuzziness or outright lying in the Biden administration about this. Biden's policies on Taiwan are not horrible, but they are also not appropriate for this time. decades, we have had this policy of "strategic ambiguity," where we do not tell either side what we would do in the face of imminent conflict. That worked in a benign period. We are no longer in a benign period. We are in one of the most dangerous periods in history. We need a policy of "strategic clarity," where we tell China that we will defend Taiwan. We also say we will extend a mutual defense treaty to Taiwan if it wants it, and we will put American troops on the island as a tripwire. Question: You think he is not saying that because he has no intention of actually doing it, so in a way, he is telling the truth? Chang: The mind of Biden is difficult to understand. We do not know what the administration would do. We have never known, after Allen Dulles, what any administration would do, with regard to Taiwan. We knew what Dulles would have done. We have got to be really concerned because there are voices in the administration that would give Taiwan, and give other parts of the world, to China. It would probably start with John Kerry; that is only a guess. Question: You mentioned earlier the growing Chinese economic problems. Would you use taking action on the enormous trade deficits we run with China to contribute to that problem? Chang: Yes, we should absolutely do that. Go back to a day which, in my mind, lives in infamy, which is January 15th, 2020, when President Trump signed the Phase One trade deal, which I think was a mistake. In that Phase One trade deal, it was very easy for China to comply, because there were specific targets that China had to meet in buying US goods and services. This was "managed trade." China has not met its obligations. As of a few months ago, China had met about 62% of its commitments. That means, they have dishonored this deal in a material and significant way. If nothing else, China has failed to meet its Phase One trade deal commitments. We should be increasing the tariffs that President Trump imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Remember, those tariffs are meant to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. China has continued to steal US IP. As matter of fact, it has gotten worse: for instance, these Chinese anti‑lawsuit injunctions, which they have started to institute. We need to do something: China steals somewhere between $300 to $600 billion worth of US intellectual property each year. That is a grievous wound on the US economy, it is a grievous wound on our society in general. We need to do something about it. Question: As a follow‑up on that, Japan commenced World War II because of the tariffs Roosevelt was strapping on oil imports into Japan, do you think that might well have the same effect on China, where we do begin to impose stiffer tariffs on American imports? Chang: That is a really important question, to which nobody has an answer. I do not think that China would start a war over tariffs. Let me answer this question in a different way. We are Americans. We naturally assume that there are solutions, and good solutions, to every problem. After three decades of truly misguided China policy, there are no good solutions. There are no solutions that are "undangerous." Every solution, going forward, carries great risk. The current trend of policy is unsustainable. There will be no American republic if we continue to do what we are currently doing and if we continue to allow China to do what it does. I do not think that enforcing a trade deal will start World War III. The point is, we have no choice right now. First, I don't think the Chinese were ever going to honor the Phase One agreement . This was not a deal where there were some fuzzy requirements. This deal was very clear: China buys these amounts of agricultural products by such and such date, China buys so many manufactured products by such and such date. This was not rocket science. China purposefully decided not to honor it. There are also other issues regarding the trade deal do not think that we should be trying to foster integration of Wall Street into China's markets, which is what the Phase One deal also contemplated. Goldman Sachs ran away like a bandit on that. There are lot of objections to it. I do not think we should be trading with China, for a lot of reasons. The Phase One trade deal, in my mind, was a great mistake. Do not take it from me, just look at their failure to comply with very simple, easy‑to‑comply-with requirements. It was a mistake. Question: Concerning cybersecurity, as we saw in the recent departure of a Pentagon official, ringing the alarm on how we are completely vulnerable to China's cyberattacks. From your perspective, what would an attack look like on China that would hurt them? What particular institutions would be the most vulnerable? Is it exposing their secrets? Is it something on their financial system? Is it something on their medical system or critical infrastructure? What does the best way look like to damage them? Also, regarding what you mentioned about Afghanistan, we know that China has been making inroads into Pakistan as a check on American hegemony in relationships with India and Afghanistan. Now that the Afghanistan domino is down, what do you see in the future for Pakistan's nuclear capability, in conjunction with Chinese backing, to move ever further westward towards Afghanistan, and endangering Middle East security? Chang: Right now, India has been disheartened by what happened, because India was one of the main backers of the Afghan government. What we did in New Delhi was delegitimize our friends, so that now the pro‑Russian, the pro‑Chinese elements in the Indian national security establishment are basically setting the tone. This is terrible. What has happened, though, in Pakistan itself, is not an unmitigated disaster for us, because China has suffered blowback there. There is an Afghan Taliban, and there is a Pakistani Taliban. They have diametrically‑opposed policies on China. The Afghan Taliban is an ally of China; the Pakistani Taliban kill Chinese. They do that because they want to destabilize Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Beijing supports Islamabad. The calculation on part of the Pakistani Taliban is, "We kill Chinese, we destabilize Islamabad, we then get to set up the caliphate in Pakistan." What has happened is, with this incredible success of the Afghan Taliban, that the Pakistani Taliban has been re‑energized -- not good news for China. China has something called the China‑Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of their Belt and Road Initiative. Ultimately that is going to be something like $62 billion of investment into Pakistani roads, airports, electric power plants, utilities, all the rest of it. I am very happy that China is in Pakistan, because they are now dealing with a situation that they have no solutions to. It's like Winston Churchill on Italy, "It's now your turn." We should never have had good relations with Pakistan. That was always a short‑term compromise that, even in the short term, undermined American interests. The point is that China is now having troubles in Pakistan because of their success in Afghanistan. Pakistan is important to China for a number of reasons. One of them is, they want it as an outlet to the Indian Ocean that bypasses the Malacca Strait -- a choke point that the US Navy ‑‑ in their view ‑‑ could easily close off, which is correct. They want to bypass that, but their port in Gwadar is a failure in many respects. Gwadar is in Pakistan's Baluchistan. The Baluchs are one of the most oppressed minorities on earth. They have now taken to violence against the Chinese, and they have been effective. Pakistan is a failure for China. The best response would be if we hit them with everything at once because China right now is weak. If we were going to pick the number one thing to do, I would think trade. Trade is really what they need right now. Their economy is stalling. There are three parts to the Chinese economy, as there are to all economies: consumption, investment, and net exports. Their consumption right now is extremely weak from indicators that we have. The question is can they invest? China now has a debt crisis, so they are not going to invest their way out of this crisis, which means the only way they can save their economy is net exports. We should stop buying their stuff. We have extraordinary supply chain disruptions right now. It should be pretty easy for us to make the case that we must become self‑sufficient on a number of items. Hit them on trade. Hit them on investment, publicize the bank account details of Chinese leaders. All these things that we do, we do it all at the same time. We can maybe get rid of these guys. Question: In the Solomon Islands, they published China's under-the-table payments to political figures. Should we do the same thing with China's leaders? Chang: Yes. There is now a contest for the Solomon Islands, which includes Guadalcanal. China has bought the political establishment in the Solomon Islands, except for one brave man named David Suidani. Recently, somebody got the bright idea of publishing all of the specific payments that Beijing has made to Solomon Islands politicians. This was really good news. We should be doing this with payments to American politicians, we should be doing this across the board. Why don't we publish their payments to politicians around the world? Let's expose these guys, let's go after them. Let's root out Chinese influence, because they are subverting our political system. Similarly, we should also be publishing the bank account details of all these Chinese leaders, because they are corrupt as hell. Question: Could you comment, please, on what you think is the nature of the personal relationships between Hunter Biden, his father, and Chinese financial institutions. How has it, if at all, affected American foreign policy towards China, and how will it affect that policy? Chang: There are two things here. There are the financial ties. Hunter Biden has connections with Chinese institutions, which you cannot explain in the absence of corruption. For instance, he has a relationship with Bohai Harvest Partners, BHR. China puts a lot of money into the care of foreign investment managers. The two billion, or whatever the number is, is not that large, but they only put money with people who have a track record in managing investments. Hunter Biden only has a track record of being the son of Joe Biden. There are three investigations of Hunter Biden right now. There is the Wilmington US Attorney's Office, the FBI -- I don't place very much hope in either of these – but the third one might actually bear some fruit: the IRS investigation of Hunter Biden. Let us say, for the moment, that Biden is able to corrupt all three of these investigations. Yet money always leaves a trail. We are going to find out one way or another. Peter Schweizer, for instance, is working on a book on the Biden cash. Eventually, we are going to know about that. What worries me is not so much the money trail -- and of course, there's the art sales, a subject in itself, because we will find out. What worries me is that Hunter Biden, by his own admission, is a troubled individual. He has been to China a number of times. He has probably committed some embarrassing act there, which means that the Ministry of State Security has audio and video recordings of this. Those are the things that can be used for blackmail. We Americans would never know about it, because blackmail does not necessarily leave a trail. This is what we should be most concerned about. Biden has now had two long phone calls with Xi Jinping. The February call, plus also one a few months ago. We do not know what was said. I would be very worried that when Xi Jinping wants to say something, there will be a phone call to Biden, and it would be Xi doing the talking without note takers. Question: Please tell us about the China desk over the 30 years, the influence of the bureaucracy on politics; what can they affect? Chang: I do not agree with our China policy establishment in Washington, in general, and specifically the State Department and NSC. This a complicated issue. First, there is this notion after the end of the Cold War, that the nature of governments did not matter. You could trade with them, you could strengthen them, and it would not have national security implications. That was wrong for a number of reasons, as we are now seeing. What bothers me is that, although their assumptions about China have demonstrably been proven wrong, American policymakers still continue with the same policies. There is, in some people's mind, an unbreakable view that we have to cooperate with China. You hear this from Blinken all the time: "We've got to cooperate where we can." It is this formulation which is tired, and which has not produced the types of policies that are necessary to defend our republic. That is the unfortunate thing. This is what people learn in international relations school when they go to Georgetown, and they become totally stupid. We Americans should be upset because we have a political class that is not defending us. They are not defending us because they have these notions of China. George Kennan understood the nature of the Soviet Union. I do not understand why we cannot understand the true nature of the Chinese regime. Part of it is because we have Wall Street, we have Walmart, and they carry China's water. There are more of us than there are of them in this country. We have to exercise our vote to make sure that we implement China policies that actually protect us. Policies that protect us are going to be drastic and they will be extreme, but absolutely, we have now dug ourselves into such a hole after three decades of truly misguided views on China, that I don't know what else to say. This is not some partisan complaint. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, all have truly misguided China policies. I do not know what it takes to break this view, except maybe for the deaths of American servicemen and women. Question: Is the big obstacle American businesses which, in donations to Biden, are the ones stopping decoupling of commerce, and saying, "Do not have war; we would rather earn money"? Chang: It is. You have, for instance, Nike. There are a number of different companies, but Nike comes to mind right now, because they love to lecture us about racism. For years they were operating a factory in Qingdao, in the northeastern part of China, that resembled a concentration camp. The laborers were Uighur and Kazakh women, brought there on cattle cars and forced to work. This factory, technically, was operated by a South Korean sub‑contractor, but that contractor had a three‑decade relationship with Nike. Nike had to know what was going on. This was forced labor, perhaps even slave labor. Clearly, Nike and Apple and other companies are now, at this very moment, trying to prevent Congress from enacting toughened rules on the importation of forced‑labor products into our country. One of the good things Trump did was, towards the end of his four years, he started to vigorously enforce the statutes that are already on the books, about products that are made with forced and slave labor. Biden, to his credit, has continued tougher enforcement. Right now, the big struggle is not the enforcement, but enhancing those rules. Apple and all of these companies are now very much trying to prevent amendment of those laws. It's business, but it's also immoral. Question: It is not just big Wall Street firms. There are companies that print the Bible. Most Bibles are now printed in China. When President Trump imposed the tariffs, a lot of the Bible printers who depended on China actually went to Trump and said, "You cannot put those tariffs in because then the cost of Bibles will go up." Chang: Most everyone lobbies for China. We have to take away their incentive to do so. Question: What are the chances that China's going to invade Taiwan? Chang: There is no clear answer. There are a number of factors that promote stability. One of them is that, for China to invade Taiwan, Xi Jinping has to give some general or admiral basically total control over the Chinese military. That makes this flag officer the most powerful person in China. Xi is not about to do that. Moreover, the Chinese regime is even more casualty‑adverse than we are. Even if Beijing thinks it can take Taiwan by force, it is probably not going to invade because it knows an invasion would be unpopular with most people in China. It is not going to risk hundreds of thousands of casualties that would result from an invasion. The reason we have to be concerned is because it is not just a question of Xi Jinping waking up one morning and saying, "I want to invade Taiwan." The danger is the risk of accidental contact, in the skies or on the seas, around Taiwan. We know that China has been engaging in hostile conduct, and this is not just the incursions into Taiwan's air-defense identification zone. There are also dangerous intercepts of the US Navy and the US Air Force in the global commons. One of those accidents could spiral out of control. We saw this on April 1st, 2001, with the EP‑3, where a Chinese jet clipped the wing of that slow‑moving propeller plane of the US Navy. The only reason we got through it was that George W. Bush, to his eternal shame, paid China a sum that was essentially a ransom. He allowed our crew to be held for 11 days. He allowed the Chinese to strip that plane. This was wrong. This was the worst incident in US diplomatic history, but Bush's craven response did get us through it. Unfortunately, by getting through it we taught the Chinese that they can without cost engage in these dangerous maneuvers of intercepting our planes and our ships. That is the problem: because as we have taught the Chinese to be more aggressive, they have been. One of these incidents will go wrong. The law of averages says that. Then we have to really worry. Question: You don't think Xi thinks, "Oh well, we can sacrifice a few million Chinese"? Chang: On the night of June 15th, 2020, there was a clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers in Ladakh, in the Galwan Valley. That was a Chinese sneak attack on Indian-controlled territory. That night, 20 Indian soldiers were killed. China did not admit to any casualties. The Indians were saying that they killed about 45 Chinese soldiers that night. Remember, this was June 15th of 2020. It took until February of 2021 for China to admit that four Chinese soldiers died. TASS, the Russian news agency, recently issued a story reporting that 45 Chinese soldiers actually died that night. This incident shows you how risk‑averse and casualty‑averse the Chinese Communist Party is. They are willing to intimidate, they are willing to do all sorts of things. They are, however, loath to fight sustained engagements. Remember, that the number one goal of Chinese foreign policy is not to take over Taiwan. The number one goal of Chinese foreign policy is to preserve Communist Party rule. If the Communist Party feels that the Chinese people are not on board with an invasion of Taiwan, they will not do it even if they think they will be successful. Right now, the Chinese people are not in any mood for a full‑scale invasion of Taiwan. On the other hand, Xi Jinping has a very low threshold of risk. He took a consensual political system where no Chinese leader got too much blame or too much credit, because everybody shared in decisions, and Xi took power from everybody, which means, he ended up with full accountability, which means -- he is now fully responsible. In 2017, when everything was going China's way, this was great for Xi Jinping because he got all the credit. Now in 2021, where things are not going China's way, he is getting all the blame. The other thing, is that Xi has raised the cost of losing a political struggle in China. In the Deng Xiaoping era, Deng reduced the cost of losing a struggle. In the Maoist era, if you lost a struggle, you potentially lost your life. In Deng's era, if you lost a struggle, you got a nice house, a comfortable life. Xi Jinping has reversed that. Now the cost of losing a political struggle in China is very high. So there is now a combination of these two developments. Xi has full accountability. He knows that if he is thrown out of power, he loses not just power. He loses his freedom, his assets, potentially his life. If he has nothing to lose, however, it means that he can start a war, either "accidentally" or on purpose. He could be thinking, "I'm dying anyway, so why don't I just roll the dice and see if I can get out of this?" That is the reason why this moment is so exceedingly risky. When you look at the internal dynamics inside China right now, we are dealing with a system in crisis. Question: China has a conference coming up in a year or so. What does Chairman Xi want to do to make sure he gets through that conference with triumph? Chang: The Communist Party has recently been holding its National Congresses once every five years. If the pattern follows -- and that is an if -- the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party will be held either October or November of next year. This is an important Congress, more so than most of them because Xi Jinping is looking for an unprecedented third term as general secretary of the Communist Party. If you go back six months ago, maybe a year, everyone was saying, "Oh, Xi Jinping. No problem. He's president for life. He's going to get his third term. He will get his fourth term. He will get his fifth term, as long as he lives. This guy is there forever." Right now, that assumption is no longer valid. We do not know what's going to happen because he is being blamed for everything. Remember, as we get close to the 20th National Congress, Xi Jinping knows he has to show "success." Showing "success" could very well mean killing some more Indians or killing Americans or killing Japanese or something. We just don't know what is going to happen. Prior to the National Congress, there is the sixth plenum of the 19th Congress. Who knows what is going to happen there. The Communist Party calendar, as you point out, does dictate the way Xi Jinping interacts with the world. Question: Going back to the wing-clip incident, what should Bush have done? Chang: What Bush should have done is immediately demand the return of that plane. What he should have done was to impose trade sanctions, investment sanctions, whatever, to get our plane back. We were fortunate, in the sense that our aviators were returned, but they were returned in a way that has made relations with China worse, because we taught the Chinese regime to be more aggressive and more belligerent. We created the problems of today and of tomorrow. I would have imposed sanction after sanction after sanction, and just demand that they return the plane and the pilots. Remember, that at some point, it was in China's interests to return our aviators. The costs would have been too high for the Chinese to keep them. We did not use that leverage on them. While we are on this topic, we should have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that they cannot kill Americans without cost. Hundreds of thousands Americans have been killed by a disease that China deliberately spread. In one year, from 2020 to 2021, nearly 80,000 Americans died from fentanyl, which China has purposefully, as a matter of state and Communist Party policy -- sold to Americans. China is killing us. We have to do something different. I'm not saying that we have good solutions; we don't. But we have to change course. Question: Biden is continuing this hostage thing with Huawei, returning the CFO of Huawei in exchange for two Canadians. Have we taught the Chinese that they can grab more hostages? Chang: President Trump was right to seek the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies. Biden, in a deal, released her. She did not even have to plead guilty to any Federal crime. She signed a statement, which I hope we'll be able to use against Huawei. As soon as Meng was released, China released the "two Michaels," the two Canadians who were grabbed within days of our seeking extradition of Meng Wanzhou. In other words, the two Michaels were hostages. We have taught China that any time that we try to enforce our own laws, they can just grab Americans. They have grabbed Americans as hostages before, but this case is high profile. They grabbed Americans, and then they grabbed Canadians, and they got away with it. They are going to do it again. We are creating the incentives for Beijing to act even more dangerously and lawlessly and criminally in the future. This has to stop. Question: On the off-chance that the current leader does not maintain his position, what are your thoughts on the leaders that we should keep an eye on? Chang: There is no one who stands out among the members of the Politburo Standing Committee. That is purposeful. Xi Jinping has made sure that there is nobody who can be considered a successor; that is the last thing he wants. If there is a change in leadership, the new leader probably will come from Jiang Zemin's Shanghai Gang faction. Jiang was China's leader before Hu Jintao, and Hu came before Xi Jinping. There is now a lot of factional infighting. Most of the reporting shows that Jiang has been trying to unseat Xi Jinping because Xi has been putting Jiang's allies in jail. Remember, the Communist Party is not a monolith. It has a lot of factions. Jiang's faction is not the only one. There is something called the Communist Youth League of Hu Jintao. It could, therefore, be anybody. Question: Double question: You did not talk about Hong Kong. Is Hong Kong lost forever to the Chinese Communist Party? Second question, if you could, what are the three policies that you would change right away? Chang: Hong Kong is not lost forever. In Hong Kong, there is an insurgency. We know from the history of insurgencies that they die away -- and they come back. We have seen this in Hong Kong. The big protests in Hong Kong, remember, 2003, 2014, 2019. In those interim periods, everyone said, "Oh, the protest movement is gone." It wasn't. China has been very effective with its national security law, but there is still resistance in Hong Kong. There is still a lot of fight there. It may not manifest itself for quite some time, but this struggle is not over, especially if the United States stands behind the people there. Biden, although he campaigned on helping Hong Kong, has done nothing. On the second question, I would close China's four remaining consulates. I would also strip the Chinese embassy down to the ambassador and his personal staff. The thousands who are in Washington, DC, they would be out. I would also raise tariffs to 3,600%, or whatever. This is a good time to do it. We have supply chain disruptions. We are not getting products from China anyway. We can actually start to do this sort of stuff. The third thing, I would do what Pompeo did, just hammer those guys all the time verbally. People may think, "Those are just words." For communists, words are really important, because they are an insecure regime where propaganda is absolutely critical. I would be going after the Communists on human rights, I would be going after them on occupying the South China Sea, on Taiwan, unrelentingly -- because I would want to show the world that the United States is no longer afraid of China. We have taught the world that we are afraid of dealing with the Chinese. State Department people, they are frightened. We need to say to the Chinese regime, like Dulles, "I'm not afraid of you. I'm going after you, and I'm going to win." Tyler Durden Sun, 05/01/2022 - 23:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 2nd, 2022

Poland "Open" & Ready To Host US Nukes On NATO"s Eastern Flank

Poland 'Open' & Ready To Host US Nukes On NATO's Eastern Flank The large NATO 'eastern flank' country of Poland now says it's "open" to hosting nuclear weapons as a deterrent against Russian aggression. A fresh weekend statement from Deputy Prime Minister of Poland Jaroslaw Kaczynski urged a tougher united Western stance against Moscow. Specifically he said Poland stands open and ready to deploy US nuclear weapons on its soil. This is the same ruling party politician who previously called for a NATO 'peacekeeping' mission in Ukraine, which other Western leaders have rejected given it would mean a direct shooting war with Russia.  "The eastern flank must be much better protected in the future than before," Kaczynski told Germany's Welt Am Sonntag newspaper. He also explained the need for America to increase its troops presence in the region by at least half.  In perhaps the most provocative section of the interview, he said: "Let's face it: The soldiers of the U.S. nuclear power are the strongest stopping Russia from attacking NATO countries and provide us with the greatest security." He went to comment the following on tactical nukes on Polish soil, as reported in Newsweek: Asked if he thought the U.S. should deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Eastern Europe, Kaczynski said he had discussed the idea with American senators while still in opposition with his Law and Justice Party. "Back then, they thought it was possible. If the Americans asked us to store American nuclear weapons in Poland, we would be open to it," Kaczynski told Welt Am Sonntag. He explained the rationale by saying "This would significantly strengthen deterrence [against Moscow]... At the moment, this issue does not arise, but it may change soon. The initiative would have to come from the Americans. In principle, however, it makes sense to extend nuclear weapons sharing to the eastern flank." Addressing the US troop presence, he said, "Poland would be pleased if the Americans increased their presence in Europe from the current 100,000 soldiers up to 150,000 in the future due to Russia's increasing aggressiveness." Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling conservative party, Law and Justice. Via AP The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation has estimated that NATO currently has about 100 US nuclear weapons in Europe, which it says is "stored in five NATO member states across six bases: Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel Air Base in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi Air Bases in Italy, Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands, and Incirlik in Turkey." Moving any of these into Poland, just across the border from where the Russian military is operating in Ukraine - and so close to what Moscow sees as its own 'backyard' - would certainly result in Russia escalating its own nuclear posture. A big part of Russia-NATO tensions underlying the current Ukraine crisis is precisely related to missile placement in Europe, with both sides having expressed a prior desire to work out an agreement, but which now looks more distant than ever. Tyler Durden Sun, 04/03/2022 - 12:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 3rd, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

US Bases In Both Iraq & Syria Under Fresh Rocket Attacks

US Bases In Both Iraq & Syria Under Fresh Rocket Attacks During the week of the Jan.3rd second anniversary of the 2020 killing by US drone strike of IRGC commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, there's been a spate of attacks on bases where American troops are stationed in Iraq and Syria. On Wednesday there's been three consecutive attacks so far.  As ABC News details, "Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. troops in Iraq's western Anbar province and the capital of Baghdad were hit by Katyusha rockets Wednesday while in Syria, eight rounds of indirect fire landed inside a base with members of the U.S.-led coalition, the Iraqi and U.S. militaries said." Image of Ain Assad base showing aftermath of Jan.2020 Iranian ballistic missile attack, intended as "revenge" for the Jan.3 Soleimani killing. This includes a rocket attack on al-Assad base in Western Iraq, after the day prior small drones targeted the base, but which were downed by the US anti-air systems operating there. In Syria the base named 'Green Village' in Deir Ezzor was targeted in a fresh attack, the day following US 'preemptive' action against suspected rocket launch sites used by area militias. The US-led Coalition on Wednesday issued a rare statement very openly blaming what it called "Iran-supported malign actors". US forces responded with artillery rounds, according a regional correspondent.  "Our Coalition continues to see threats against our forces in Iraq and Syria by militia groups that are backed by Iran," the statement said, singling out the Islamic Republic. "These attacks are a dangerous distraction from our Coalition's shared mission to advise, assist & enable partner forces to maintain the enduring defeat of Daesh." Visual update here: Aerial footage of US-led coalition’s airstrikes on several rocket launching positions around Green Village, Deir Ezzur, Syria. It seems that some attacks occurred this morning just before the Coalition base in Green Village became under rocket attack. pic.twitter.com/zWHRNiYL5a — Nafiseh Kohnavard (@nafisehkBBC) January 5, 2022 US forward operating bases in Syria are especially vulnerable to possible attack, given their smaller size compared to Iraq bases where Americans are hosted.  Images in the aftermath of the attack in Syria were released Wednesday... Exclusive Pix shows the impact of this morning’s rocket attack on US base in Green Village, Deir Ezzur, Syria. Coalition forces has responded it by firing six rounds of artillery towards the point of origin of the attack just outside Mayadin, Syria pic.twitter.com/gGsMyoQCQ2 — Nafiseh Kohnavard (@nafisehkBBC) January 5, 2022 Despite the usual Iran blame-game coming out of the Pentagon, it also remains that Syrian Army and pro-Assad national forces want to see the US occupation come to an end. Could this be the start of a pressure campaign being waged from Damascus?  After all, if Assad decided to seek imposing a significant "cost" on US forces being there (chiefly in the oil-rich northeast, as well as al-Tanf on the Iraq border), it would indeed create huge problems back in Washington, given the current status of a relatively 'undefined' mission there. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/05/2022 - 14:21.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 5th, 2022

Armed drone marked with words "Soleimani"s revenge" shot down at Baghdad airport on anniversary of Iranian general"s death

Two drones were shot down as they approached an Iraqi military base hosting US personnel. Both drones had writing mentioning "revenge." Protesters hold pictures of Qasem Soleimani at a demonstration outside the US consulate in Istanbul, January 5, 2020.YASIN AKGUL/AFP via Getty Images Armed drones were shot down at Baghdad airport in Iraq on Monday, according to multiple reports. One of the drones had the words "Soleimani's revenge" written on it. The incident came on the second anniversary of a US drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. US-led coalition forces in Iraq shot down two armed drones at Baghdad airport on Monday, the second anniversary of the US drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in the same area.The drones were headed toward an Iraqi military installation hosting US personnel when they were engaged by a C-RAM defense system, an Iraqi security official told The Associated Press.An official told Reuters that the system engaged "two fixed-wing suicide drones" and that "they were shot down without incident."Footage of the wreckage shown to Reuters by a coalition official showed that one of the drones had the words "Soleimani's revenge" written clearly in Arabic on the wing. The other aircraft was reportedly marked with the words "revenge operations for our leaders."No one has yet claimed responsibility for the incident, though a number of parties have vowed to avenge Soleimani's death.Wreckage of a drone with "revenge operations for our leaders" written in Arabic, at Baghdad airport in Iraq, January 3, 2022.International Coalition via APSoleimani, who commanded the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force, died just outside Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020 alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior Iran-backed militia leader in Iraq, when a drone struck the vehicle in which they were traveling.The drone strike was ordered by then-President Donald Trump and carried out by the Pentagon, which blamed the Iranian general for orchestrating an attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad and a rocket attack days later that killed a US civilian contractor, as well as countless attacks on US personnel before that.The Trump administration argued that the drone strike was necessary because Soleimani was planning other potentially deadly attacks that posed an immediate threat to Americans.In response, Iranian forces launched ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq hosting US and coalition forces on January 8, 2020. No one was killed in the attack, but more than 100 US troops suffered traumatic brain injuries of varying severity.Iran has repeatedly called for Trump's arrest for the assassination. On Monday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi vowed to seek revenge unless the former US president stood trial, Reuters reported."If Trump and [former secretary of state Mike] Pompeo are not tried in a fair court for the criminal act of assassinating Gen. Soleimani, Muslims will take our martyr's revenge," Raisi said in a televised address. Militia groups have also called for revenge.The US view on the matter is that the strike on the Iranian general was carried out in accordance with each nation's right to act in self-defense.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 3rd, 2022

13 careers to consider if you"re interested in environmental science and the skills you need to succeed

There are dozens of career options in environmental science. Wildlife biologist, conservation officer, or science editor could be your perfect fit. A career in environmental science can help you make a difference in the world.CasarsaGuru/Getty Images Jobs in environmental science are viable career paths and crucial for the future of our planet.  If you studied environmental science, you probably have more transferable skills than you realize. Consider one option, environmental engineering, where you can make an average of $57,685 a year. You might be the kid who loved being outdoors, exploring the nearby woods, and collecting bugs in a jar or taking samples from the local pond to look at under your most prized possession: a microscope (you know, the one you'd never let your little brother so much as breathe near). Or maybe you were that, umm, let's say spirited, high school volunteer who led an effort to clean up a state park after you realized what all that litter was doing to the poor animals. Perhaps you watched in horror — in person or on TV — as a wildfire consumed a West Coast town or as Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, killing so many that we still don't have an exact death toll.Whatever drove you to study — or consider studying — environmental science, you're well aware that the world needs you right now. Environmental science majors are prepared to take on our climate crisis, conserve natural resources and environments, lead the charge on renewable energy, and — not to be dramatic — literally save the planet.But as you're sitting in class, doing your labs, and trying to imagine your next steps, you might start to feel overwhelmed. "Can I really make a difference in a world that's burning and melting and only getting worse?" you might wonder. "There's so much to do, where would I even start?" The great thing is: There are so many options open to environmental science majors. But the problem is: There are so many options open to environmental science majors.You don't need a list of 734 possible jobs. But what you probably could use is a tailored list that digs into a few particularly promising career options — and maybe a quick look at some of the skills you've gained that will help you thrive in the workplace and what types of organizations and industries are looking to hire former amateur pond sleuths like you.Skills environmental science grads already haveAnybody who's completed college already has valuable skills for the workplace. And "environmental science degrees specifically provide an abundance of transferable skills," Alaina G. Levine, a STEM career coach, writer covering environmental science topics, and president of Quantum Success Solutions, LLC, a career consultancy focused on engineering and the sciences, said. Your degree has prepared you to work in basically any field you'd like, Levine said, whether you want to pursue a career related to environmental science or go in another direction.Here are a few of the transferable skills you likely gained:Communication and storytelling: Throughout your coursework, you learned to communicate by writing research proposals and reports, essays, and emails; discussing information with others in classes or group projects; and giving presentations. Environmental science majors often need to take complex topics and translate them into a compelling story that convinces people they need to care about something and take action, Levine said. You learn how to "mine data and distill it in a way your 'constituents' will understand," whether your constituents are your classmates, teachers, colleagues, managers, executives, policymakers, or the public.Marketing: Most environmental science programs won't mention that you're learning marketing skills, Levine said, but any time you're explaining the value of a project or even a natural resource, you're using marketing skills. "Marketing" might feel like a dirty word in the context of our planet, but it simply means crafting a message that convinces someone to take action. In environmental science, you might be persuading a company to put money or time into a new process that's more sustainable or writing a grant proposal where you're communicating the value of your research.Leadership: Many employers are looking for leadership skills in employees at all levels. Leadership "isn't just being appointed or anointed a leader," Levine said. It's any time you take ownership or initiative. Individuals have to lead "a team of one every day," and decide how to do their work productively and efficiently, Levine said. You'll also have to lead your own initiatives, programs, and/or research even as an early-career employee. You already got practice with these skills whenever you led a group project, coordinated resources to meet deadlines or budgets, or made decisions based on new information or data. Research: "Environmental science programs turn out students who are excellent in conducting research," Sara Hutchison, a career coach who's advised environmental science majors and has a degree in sustainable development herself, said. Students often have to study primary sources, read through compliance and legal documentation, collect their own data in the field, employ the scientific method, and write about their findings, all of which teach them strong research practices, such as how to select reliable sources and data. Even if you're not working in a research setting, these skills help you collect the information you need to solve problems. Speaking of which...Problem-solving: In addition to gathering the data they need and making autonomous decisions, environmental science students learn how to look at a problem from multiple perspectives, which "is an extremely valuable asset, both in scientific careers and less 'traditional' careers," Dr. Gemma Cassidy, who's hired and advised environmental science majors and is currently the senior journals publishing manager for Wiley, a large scientific-publishing company, said. For example, they may need to look at how an issue with air quality might be affecting different parts of an ecosystem and evaluate the economic costs of various solutions. Or in a very different context, they might consider how proposed upgrades to a software product might affect users.Risk assessment/management: Since environmental science students often need to conduct field research, they're practiced in risk assessment and management, Levine said. They may have to shift priorities or adjust plans either before going out in the field or on the fly due to risks like weather, wildlife, environmental conditions, or even other humans. For example, a dangerous storm may compromise your ability to safely collect water samples, so maybe you have to analyze the nearby soil instead or adjust your research timelines. You may also specifically study the possible risks to a certain population of frogs as the climate changes, for example. Risk assessment and management is useful whenever you're evaluating the best course of action for a given project or initiative.Computer skills: Like most fields, environmental science is increasingly relying on technology. During your coursework, you likely learned the computing skills needed to analyze and visualize data, build models or projections to predict outcomes, and possibly utilize AI and machine learning. These computer skills are highly sought after both inside and outside of the environmental science field."As a final point, graduates from an environmental sciences background likely have a passion for our planet, and how best to protect it," Cassidy said. Employers are always looking for workers who care deeply and are knowledgeable about what they'll be doing — and many organizations are hiring workers to help fight the climate crisis in particular.Where can environmental science majors work?When you're deciding where you'd like to work — whether that's a type of organization or a certain industry — Levine suggests thinking about your values and what drives you. "Do you want to protect the coastlines because you grew up in a seaside area?" Levine asked. Or would you like to help decrease the negative effects big companies have on our environment? Are there certain animals or plant life you want to protect? Are you interested in maintaining and improving public health? Do you want to directly affect policy?Here are some of the common industries and types of organizations where environmental science majors work:Local, city, state, and federal governmentMunicipalities and utilitiesNonprofit organizationsEducationMuseumsEnergy (both renewable energy companies and traditional fossil fuels companies looking to decrease their environmental impact)Manufacturing and safetyFood productionReal estate developmentPublishing and mediaPublic healthZoos, aquariums, national parks, and other conservation centersBut this list is far from exhaustive. More and more organizations are prioritizing sustainability in their day-to-day operations, Cassidy said. As a result, those with environmental science degrees are needed "across the board." Many environmental science careers might feel "hidden," Levine said, but you can find them through networking and environmental professional organizations such as the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP).Even if you don't want a career in environmental science, "​​The degree you pick to complete in college does not define the career you will pursue," Hutchison said. So don't feel boxed in.13 jobs and careers for environmental science majorsBelow you'll find 13 jobs and careers you can pursue with an environmental science degree (and you can click on the links to search for current openings on The Muse). Many of these jobs can be found in multiple or all of the above industries or types of organizations and you can specialize according to your area of focus or interest. For example, you can be an environmental science technician for a real estate company that studies the effects different developments may have on the water in a local ecosystem or you might be an environmental consultant who specializes in helping manufacturers decrease the air pollutants produced by their work.Unless otherwise noted, all salary information is from PayScale.com. (Note that PayScale's database is updated nightly; the numbers below reflect figures as of November 2021.)1. Environmental educator or environmental science teacherAverage educator salary: $51,316Average secondary school teacher salary: $50,038Environmental educators come in multiple forms. You may choose to become a secondary school teacher in either environmental science or a smaller subset of the subject such as oceanography, or you might work for a museum, national park, zoo, or other conservation center or program.Regardless, environmental educators teach others about the environment and issues facing it — plus how they as individuals can help. For example, Hutchison once worked as a tour guide for a local cavern. "Sharing my passion for the environment with children and tourists was amazing," Hutchison said. "I loved how it opened their eyes to why they should clean up their pet waste or not pollute waters because all that goes downstream into a cave like ours."The qualifications you'll need to be an environmental educator depend on exactly where you'd like to work. If you'd like to be a secondary school teacher, you may need to take education classes or obtain a master's degree depending on which state you'd like to teach in.Find environmental educator or teacher jobs on The Muse2. Environmental engineer or environmental engineering technicianAverage environmental engineer salary: $66,621Average engineering technician salary: $57,685Environmental engineers design, plan, and build systems that improve or monitor the environment. They also collect and/or analyze scientific data and conduct quality control tests to inform or adjust their plans. For example an environmental engineer may be responsible for designing a new water treatment center, equipment that reduces the pollution a factory releases, a sustainable recreational attraction, or a building that minimally disrupts the environment. Meanwhile, environmental engineering technicians and technologists carry out the plans that environmental engineers create."If you really like building things, deploying applications, and seeing the work you do transform people's lives directly," you might consider one of these careers, Levine said.If you haven't already completed substantial engineering coursework alongside or as part of your major, you may need to complete a master's in engineering — but it depends where you'd like to work. However, engineering technician jobs often don't require engineering-specific degrees (though you may still need an OSHA certification).Find environmental engineer and environmental engineering technician jobs on The Muse3. Environmental scientist and environmental science and protection techniciansAverage environmental scientist salary: $52,680Average environmental technician salary: $43,485These professionals conduct research, experiments, field work, and tests to monitor or discover more about the environment. Environmental scientists may propose new research and design experiments with the goal of evaluating, preventing, controlling, or fixing environmental problems.Environmental science and protection technicians are often responsible for conducting tests in the field and reporting findings to a scientist, municipality, or any other entity that's monitoring environmental conditions. For example, you may be responsible for gathering and testing water samples to make sure a nearby company is not compromising the ecosystem or you might work for a city government, continuously monitoring air quality.You can focus in a myriad of areas in environmental science such as microbiology, ecology, oceanography, or geology. In order to become an environmental scientist, you'll need a master's degree or PhD in your chosen area of focus, but technicians can often land jobs with bachelor's degrees in environmental science.Find environmental scientist, environmental science technician, and other environmental science jobs on The Muse4. Wildlife biologistAverage salary: $50,186Wildlife biologists are a subset of environmental scientists that focus specifically on animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their environments. They may conduct studies on animals in their natural habitat or in zoo or sanctuary environments and/or monitor threats to populations and come up with ways to mitigate them. Wildlife biologists often focus on specific types of animals or plants.Depending on where you'd like to work, you can often find an entry-level position with a bachelor's degree in environmental science, but to advance and/or conduct independent research you'll need to obtain a PhD.Find wildlife biologist jobs on The Muse5. Environmental health and safety specialistAverage salary: $64,210Environmental health and safety (EHS) specialists study how different environmental conditions affect human health, protect the health and safety of individuals and ecosystems by setting regulations and guidelines, and ensure compliance with these regulations and guidelines. They may work for governments or other oversight organizations to set and enforce safety and environmental standards for geographic areas or industries, or they might work for individual companies to ensure the safety of work processes and the company's overall sustainability.You can often get these jobs with a bachelor's degree, though some employers will require that you obtain relevant safety certifications for their industry.Find environmental health and safety specialist jobs on The Muse6. Conservation officerAverage salary: $44,667Conservation officers, also known as park rangers, manage state and national parks, forests, and other wildlife areas. They are responsible for the safety of guests and wildlife as well as the conservation of the area. Conservation officers may also maintain campgrounds, trails, and other facilities; manage programs for the public; answer questions; and address and correct possible risks to the environment or guests. If you love being outside and interacting with the public, this could be the job for you. You can land a job as a conservation officer with a bachelor's degree in environmental science.Find conservation officer and park ranger jobs on The Muse7. Recycling coordinatorAverage salary: $53,705Recycling coordinators and officers oversee the way recyclables are handled by an organization or municipality. For smaller companies or schools, this might be part of a broader role, but for larger entities, overseeing recycling efforts could be your full-time job."It's no longer about making signs for the recycling cans," Hutchison, who was previously a recycling coordinator for a university, said. "It's about waste trucks, dumpster pulls, procurement of containers, writing [requests for proposals to] vendors, endless spreadsheets on waste to create baselines for reduction goals, and hosting field trips for the local classrooms." Basically, you need to make sure all the recycling gets sorted properly, picked up, and transferred to the appropriate facility so that the material can be reused, all while advocating for the program and encouraging individuals to participate.If you're super organized and want to help decrease the amount of waste going to landfills, this could be a job for you. Hutchison snagged her role right out of college — so there are entry-level opportunities.Find recycling coordinator and other recycling positions on The Muse8. Environmental consultantAverage salary: $58,387In general, consultants evaluate client companies and their departments and processes; analyze their findings; and propose solutions to solve problems, save money, or increase efficiency. Environmental consultants specifically focus on sustainability and environmental impact. For example, they might suggest ways for companies to reduce their carbon footprints or advise them on how to better use and dispose of hazardous materials.Consultants often work for consultancies or as freelancers. If you want to help companies increase their sustainability and curb emissions or waste, this career could be a great fit. You can often get these jobs with a bachelor's degree.Find environmental consultant jobs on The Muse9. Environmental policy analystAverage policy analyst salary: $60,216Environmental policy analysts research, analyze, and evaluate the effects an existing or proposed law, regulation, or program will have on the environment, people, wildlife, or any other facet of society. These jobs involve "packaging research in a way that can be used in policy to make laws and regulations that will make a difference," Levine said. So if you want to have a direct effect on what companies and individuals need to do to curb climate change, for example, a career in environmental policy may be for you.You may be able to find an entry-level position with a bachelor's degree in environmental science (look for federal, state, and local government fellowships and programs specifically designed for this) — but you could need further education to progress in your career.Find environmental policy analyst jobs on The Muse10. Science editorAverage salary: $60,499Science editors put together academic journals or textbooks consisting of science information and new discoveries, research, and studies. Depending on your role and career level, you may be responsible for copyediting and formatting articles, assigning and editing articles or book sections, or assessing original research and coordinating peer reviews of it. Scientific publishing "is a great career for those who feel passionately about the science but want to step away from being the ones doing the research themselves," Cassidy said. "Working on academic journals gives you a front-row seat to new, cutting-edge research, and working with editors and academic societies can be very inspiring."While an environmental science degree will give you the scientific background you need to understand the research, you'll also need strong writing and editing skills to pursue this career.Find science editor and other editing jobs on The Muse11. Science communications specialistAverage communications specialist salary: $54,008While this might sound like a similar role to science editor, science communicators work across industries and mediums. No matter what your focus is, though, all science communications specialists have the same goal: sharing often complex information about science (or the environment) in a way that the intended audience understands it, cares about it, and knows what to do about it. Depending on where you work, you may write press releases, website or social copy, TV, radio, or online video scripts, or reported and researched articles; create infographics, videos, pamphlets, and other presentations; or produce educational materials for schools, museums, and other programs.Your background in environmental science will give you the technical know-how you'll need and lend you credibility, Levine said. You may also need strong writing skills, social media savvy, video production knowledge, or graphic design chops, depending on the roles you'd like to pursue. You may find jobs for science or environmental nonprofits, departments, or organizations labeled "communications specialist," "communications coordinator," or similar, but you should also search for roles that describe the specific work you'd like to do, such as "copywriter," "video editor," or "social media manager" at companies that focus on an area of the environment or science you're passionate about.Find science communications specialist jobs and science communication jobs on The Muse12. Data analystAverage salary: $61,881Data analysts collect, organize, and interpret large amounts of information in order to solve problems or make recommendations. They may also be responsible for creating projections, models, or data visualizations.You can find these roles at companies across many industries, so if you'd like to work for a company focused on some aspect of the environment, you can. For example, you might analyze the data from a large number of water samples taken along a coastline to look for patterns for a clean water–focused nonprofit.But as an environmental science graduate, you likely have the data knowledge you need to seek a position in a different field entirely — particularly if you can demonstrate coding experience, which employers are increasingly looking for in data professionals. You can also take online classes or look into a data science bootcamp to boost your skills. A bachelor's degree is usually the only education requirement for entry-level roles, but you may need a master's degree for more senior roles.Find data analyst and other data jobs on The Muse13. Marketing analystAverage salary: $57,134Marketing analysts evaluate data, prices, markets, strategies, and customer bases to answer marketing questions or solve issues either for the company they work for or for a client company. If you have an environmental science degree but you're interested in something outside of that field, marketing analysts are needed in every industry. For example, you could find a marketing analyst job for a renewable energy company that sells solar panels to individual homes or you can find a position for a tech company working on a productivity app.With the storytelling, data analysis, research, and marketing skills you gained from your coursework, you can likely find an entry-level marketing analyst job right out of undergrad.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 12th, 2021

Futures Slide On Renewed China Slowdown, Rate Hike Fears

Futures Slide On Renewed China Slowdown, Rate Hike Fears US equity futures and world shares drifted lower following poor Chinese macro data which saw the country's GDP slide to a weaker than expected 4.9%, and as surging energy prices and inflation reinforced bets that central banks will be forced to react to rising inflation and hike rates faster than expected. Calls by China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday to make progress on a long-awaited property tax to help reduce wealth gaps also soured the mood. With WTI crude rising to a seven-year high, and Brent back over $85, investors remain concerned that living costs will be driven higher. The economic recovery also remains uneven with China’s gross domestic product slowing more than expected in the third quarter, increasing aversion to riskier assets. The dollar rose against all of its Group-of-10 peers as concerns about an acceleration in inflation damped risk appetite, while bircoin traded above $61K and just shy of an all time high ahead of the launch of the Proshares Bitcoin ETF on Tuesday. An MSCI gauge of global stocks was down 0.1% by 0808 GMT as losses in Asia and a weak open in Europe erased part of the gains seen last week on a strong start to the earnings season. U.S. stock futures were also lower with S&P 500 e-minis last down 0.2%, while Dow and Nasdaq e-minis were both down 0.3%. China’s gross domestic product grew 4.9% in the July-September quarter from a year earlier, its weakest pace since the third quarter of 2020. The world’s second-largest economy is grappling with power shortages, supply bottlenecks, sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks and debt problems in its property sector. Additionally, industrial output and fixed investment also missed expectations, while retail sales beat modestly (more here). Not even the latest attempt by China to ease Evergrande contagion fears was enough to offset worries about China's economy: on Sunday, PBOC Governor Yi Gang said authorities can contain risks posed to the Chinese economy and financial system from the struggles of China Evergrande Group. Because of course he will say that. Oil prices extended a recent rally amid a global energy shortage with U.S. crude touching a seven-year high while Brent was set to surpass its 2018 highs just above $86, as Russia kept a tight grip on Europe’s energy market, opting against sending more natural gas to the continent even after President Vladimir Putin said he was prepared to boost supplies. “The lingering energy crisis, while benefiting miners and other oil & gas related stocks, is otherwise weighing on the overall sentiment,” said ActivTrades’ Pierre Veyret. Investors will stay focused on macro news this week with major Chinese and U.S. releases as well as new monetary policy talks from Jerome Powell, he said. Investors continue to grapple with worries that energy shortages and supply-chain disruptions will drive up living costs in most economies. At the same time, the recovery remains patchy and central bankers are inching closer to paring back stimulus. U.S. consumer sentiment fell unexpectedly in early October, but retail sales advanced. “We are starting to see some cracks in the transitory narrative that we’ve been hearing for quite some time,” Meera Pandit, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said on Bloomberg Radio. “Rates will continue to ground higher from where we are. But I don’t think from a Fed perspective, when you think about the short end of the curve, that they are going to move much earlier than 2023. They are going to be a little bit more patient than the market expects right now.” And then there were rates: the global bond selloff gathered pace, with U.K. yields surging after Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey warned on the need to respond to price pressures. Rate-hike bets have also picked up in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, where inflation accelerated to the fastest pace in 10 years. Ten-year Treasury yields extended a climb , rising as high as 1.62%. Mohammed El-Erian, the chief economic adviser at Allianz SE and a Bloomberg columnist, said investors should prepare for increased market volatility if the Federal Reserve pulls back on stimulus measures set in motion by the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other side of the argument, Goldman's flow trading desk said odds of a November meltup are rising as a result of a relentless appetite for stocks and an upcoming surge in stock buybacks. In any case, Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. shares fell 3% in U.S. premarket, extending losses from Friday that came after the firm pushed back the start of commercial flights further into next year after rescheduling a test flight. Here are some of the other notable U.S. pre-movers today: Baidu (BIDU US) shares erased earlier losses and climbed as much as 4.3% in Hong Kong, as China debates rules to make hundreds of millions of articles on Tencent’s WeChat messaging app available via search engines like Baidu’s. Crypto-related stocks in action as Bitcoin leaps as much as 5.3% and is just shy of a fresh six- month high. Riot Blockchain (RIOT US), Marathon Digital (MARA US) and Coinbase (COIN US) are all up Tesla (TSLA US) shares rise 0.2% in premarket trading Monday, poised for 50% rally from a March 8 low, ahead of its third-quarter results on Wednesday Dynavax (DVAX US) shares rise as much as 10% in U.S. pretrading hours after the biopharmaceutical company announced that Valneva reported the trial of inactivated, adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine candidate VLA2001 met its co-primary endpoints Disney (DIS US) drops in premarket trading after Barclays downgrades to equal-weight as the company faces a “tough” task to get to its long-term streaming subscription guidance NetApp (NTAP US) slips 2.2% in premarket trading after Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall cut the recommendation on NetApp Inc. to sell from neutral European stocks traded on the back foot from the open, with the benchmark Stoxx 600 Index down 0.4%, led by losses in retail stocks. The Euro Stoxx 50 dropped as much as 0.9%, FTSE 100 outperforms slightly. Mining stocks were among Europe's only gainers thanks to the ongoing metals rally: the Stoxx Europe 600 basic resources sub-index climbs for a third day for the first time since early September as the record rally of base metals is extended. The gauge rose 0.6%, outperforming main benchmark which trades 0.4% lower. Notable movers: Glencore +1.2%; BHP +1%; Norsk Hydro +2.5%; ArcelorMittal +0.9% Rio Tinto +0.3%. Offsetting these gains, European luxury stocks slipped after a Chinese Communist Party journal published a speech of President Xi Jinping that includes advancing legislation on property taxes. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Playtech shares rise as much as 59% in London after the British gambling software developer agreed to be bought by Australia’s Aristocrat for $3.7 billion. Valneva SE shares rise as much as 42% as its experimental Covid-19 vaccine elicited better immunity than AstraZeneca Plc’s shot in a clinical trial that will pave the way for regulatory submissions. Shares of hydraulics manufacturer Concentric rise as much as 14%, the most since April 2020, after Danske Bank upgraded the stock to buy from hold, calling the company a strong performer in a difficult market. THG shares jump as much 12%, most since May 11, after founder and CEO Matthew Moulding confirmed his intention to cancel his special share rights. The removal of the special share points to the e-commerce company’s “willingness to engage on shareholder concerns,” according to Jefferies. Rational AG shares rise as much as 6.1%, the most since Aug. 5, after the German kitchen machinery maker is upgraded to buy from hold at Berenberg, which considers the shares “inexpensive” despite stretched multiples. Atrium European Real Estate share rises as much as 7.6% to the highest since March 2020 after controlling shareholder Gazit Globe raises the offer price to EU3.63 per Atrium share from EU3.35. Earlier in the session, Asian equities fell, putting them on track to snap a three-day rally, as China’s economic growth slowed and prospects of higher bond yields weighed on some tech shares. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 0.4%, with tech and consumer staples shares setting the pace for declines. TSMC and Sony Group were among the biggest drags. Official data showed that China’s economy weakened in the third quarter amid tighter restrictions on the property market and China Evergrande Group’s debt crisis. For Asia stock traders, the concerns about China are adding to persistent inflation worries and energy shortages, which are sending bond yields higher. While inflation worries are “alive and well,” Asian markets will be predominantly focused on China data today, Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda Asia Pacific, wrote in a note. The weak data print “will lift expectations of an imminent PBOC RRR rate cut,” he added. China’s benchmark underperformed as the country explored property- and consumption tax-related changes and international funds sold shares of Kweichow Moutai Co., the country’s largest stock by market value. Tencent, Meituan and Alibaba pared losses prompted by the Chinese government saying it will introduce more regulations on the tech sector. China is considering asking media companies from Tencent Holdings Ltd. to ByteDance Ltd. to let rivals access and display their content in search results, according to people familiar with the matter. India’s Sensex index bucked the regional trend and is on track to rise for the seventh day, the longest such streak since January, helped by easy money. Japanese equities declined, paring last week’s rally, weighed down by losses in electronics makers. The Topix dipped 0.2%, following a 3.2% gain last week. The Nikkei 225 fell 0.2%, with M3 Inc. and KDDI the biggest drags. Almost 30% of respondents to a Kyodo weekend poll said they plan to vote for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the proportional representation section of Japan’s Oct. 31 election. U.K. rates steal the limelight amid a violent selloff that saw 2y gilt yields rise as much as 17bps to trade close to 0.75%. Weekend comments from BOE’s Bailey triggered a snap lower in short-sterling futures and bear-flattening across the gilt curve. MPC-dated OIS rates price in ~20bps of hiking by the November meeting. Bunds and Treasuries follow gitls lower, peripheral spreads widen to core with Italy underperforming. Australian stocks closed higher as miners and banks advanced. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3% to close at 7,381.10, led by miners and banks. Nickel Mines surged after a subsidiary signed a limonite ore supply agreement with PT Huayue Nickel Cobalt. Domino’s was among the worst performers, closing at its lowest since Aug. 17. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1% to 12,998.51. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index advanced as the dollar traded higher versus all of its Group-of-10 peers Traders pulled forward rate- hike bets after BoE governor Bailey said the central bank “will have to act” on inflation. U.K. money markets now see 36 basis points of BoE rate increases in December and are pricing 15 basis points of tightening next month. Traders are also now betting the BoE’s key rate will rise to 1% by August, from 0.1% currently. The euro struggled to recover after falling below the $1.16 handle in the Asian session; money markets are betting the ECB will hike the deposit rate to -0.4% in September as expectations for global central-bank policy tightening gather pace. Resilience in the spot market and a divergence with rate differentials in the past sessions has resulted in a flatter volatility skew for the euro. Commodity-linked currencies such as the Australian dollar and the Norwegian krone underperformed after Chinese data including third-quarter growth and September factory output trailed economists’ estimates. The kiwi rose to a one-month high versus the dollar, before giving up gains, and New Zealand’s bond yields rose across the curve after 3Q annual inflation rate surged, beating estimates. The yen steadied around a three-year low as U.S. yields extended their rise in Asian trading; the Japanese currency still held up best against the dollar among G-10 currencies, after performing worst last week. In rates, treasuries were under pressure led by belly of the curve as rate-hike premium continues to increase in global interest rates. Yields, though off session highs, remain cheaper by nearly 5bp in 5-year sector; 2s5s30s fly topped at -12.5bp, cheapest since 2018; 10-year is up 2.8bp around 1.60% vs 3.4bp increase for U.K. 10-year. Belly-led losses flattened U.S. 5s30s by as much as 5.4bp to tightest since April 2020 at around 86.1bp; U.K. 5s30s curve is flatter by ~8bp after its 5-year yield rose as much as 14bp. Gilts led the move, with U.K. 2-year yield climbing as much as 16.8bp to highest since May 2019 as money markets priced in more policy tightening after Governor Andrew Bailey said the Bank of England “will have to act” on inflation. With latest moves, U.S. swaps market prices in two Fed hikes by the end of 2022. In commodities, WTI rose 1%, trading just off session highs near $83.20; Brent holds above $85. Spot gold drifts lower near $1,762/oz. Most base metals are in the green with LME lead and tin outperforming. Looking at today's calendar, we have industrial production, US September industrial production, capacity utilisation, October NAHB housing market index. Fed speakers include Quarles, Kashkari. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.2% to 4,451.75 STOXX Europe 600 down -1.6% to 467.76 MXAP down 0.2% to 198.11 MXAPJ little changed at 650.02 Nikkei down 0.1% to 29,025.46 Topix down 0.2% to 2,019.23 Hang Seng Index up 0.3% to 25,409.75 Shanghai Composite down 0.1% to 3,568.14 Sensex up 1.0% to 61,918.22 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% to 7,381.07 Kospi down 0.3% to 3,006.68 Brent Futures up 0.9% to $85.65/bbl Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,762.70 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.17% to 94.10 German 10Y yield rose 3.5 bps to -0.132% Euro down 0.1% to $1.1586 Brent Futures up 0.9% to $85.65/bbl Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Germany’s prospective ruling coalition is targeting about 500 billion euros ($580 billion) in spending over the coming decade to address climate change and will seek loopholes in constitutional debt rules to raise the financing The ECB is exploring raising its limit on purchases of debt issued by international bodies such as the European Union from the current cap of 10%, the Financial Times reported, citing four ECB governing council members The ECB should keep some of the flexibility embedded in its pandemic bond-buying program for post-crisis stimulus measures, Governing Council member Ignazio Visco said People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang said authorities can contain risks posed to the Chinese economy and financial system from the struggles of China Evergrande Group A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded cautiously after disappointing Chinese GDP and Industrial Production data, while inflationary concerns lingered after the recent firmer than expected US Retail Sales data, a continued rally in oil prices and with New Zealand CPI at a decade high. Nonetheless, the ASX 200 (+0.1%) bucked the trend on reopening optimism with curbs in New South Wales to be further eased after having fully vaccinated 80% of the adult population and with the Victoria state capital of Melbourne set to lift its stay-at-home orders this week. Furthermore, the gains in the index were led by outperformance in the top-weighted financials sector, as well as strength in most mining names aside from gold miners after the precious metal’s retreat from the USD 1800/oz level. Nikkei 225 (-0.3%) was subdued after a pause in the recent advances for USD/JPY and with criticism of Japan after PM Kishida sent an offering to the controversial war shrine which sparked anger from both China and South Korea. Hang Seng (-0.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.4%) were subdued after Chinese Q3 GDP data missed expectations with Y/Y growth at 4.9% vs exp. 5.2% and Industrial Production for September fell short of estimates at 3.1% vs exp. 4.5%, while the beat on Retail Sales at 4.4% vs exp. 3.3% provided little consolation. There was plenty of focus on China’s property sector with PBoC Governor Yi noting authorities can contain risks posed to the Chinese economy and financial system from the struggles of Evergrande, and with its unit is said to make onshore debt payments due tomorrow. However, attention remains on October 23rd which is the end of the grace period for its first payment miss that would officially place the Co. in default and it was also reported on Friday that China Properties Group defaulted on notes worth USD 226mln. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lower amid spillover selling from T-notes which were pressured after the recent stronger than expected Retail Sales data and higher oil prices boosted the inflation outlook, with demand for JGBs is also hampered amid the absence of BoJ purchases in the market today. Top Asian News Tesla Shares Roaring Back, Set for 50% Gain From March Lows Kishida’s Offering to Japan War Shrine Angers Neighbors Baidu Jumps as China Said to Weigh More Access to WeChat Content AirAsia X Proposes Paying Creditors 0.5% of $8 Billion Owed European equities (Eurostoxx 50 -0.7%; Stoxx 600 -0.4%) have kicked the week off on the backfoot as market participants digest disappointing Chinese GDP metrics, a continued rally in energy prices and subsequent inflationary concerns which has seen markets price in more aggressive tightening paths for major global central banks. Overnight, Chinese Q3 GDP data missed expectations with Y/Y growth at 4.9% vs exp. 5.2% and Industrial Production for September fell short of estimates at 3.1% vs exp. 4.5%, while the beat on Retail Sales at 4.4% vs exp. 3.3% provided little consolation. Stateside, index futures have conformed to the downbeat tone with the ES softer to the tune of -0.3%, whilst the RTY narrowly lags with losses of 0.4%. In a note this morning, JP Morgan has flagged that investor sentiment remains that “the upcoming reporting season will be challenging, given the combination of the activity slowdown, significant supply distortions impacting volumes, and the energy price acceleration that is seen to be hurting profit margins and consumer disposable incomes”. That said, the Bank is of the view that investors are likely braced for such disappointments. In Europe, sectors are mostly lower with Retail names lagging post-Chinese GDP as Kering (accounts for 28.7% of the Stoxx 600 Retail sector) sits at the foot of the CAC with losses of 3.2%; other laggards include LVMH (-2.7%) and Hermes (-2.3%). To the upside, Banking names are firmer and benefitting from the more favourable yield environment, whilst Basic Resources and Oil & Gas names are being supported by price action in their respective underlying commodities. In terms of individual movers, THG (+7.6%) sits at the top of the Stoxx 600 after confirming that it intends to move its listing to the 'premium segment' of the LSE in 2022; as part of this, CEO & Executive Chairman Moulding will surrender his 'founders share' next year. Finally, Umicore (-4.5%) sits at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after cutting its FY21 adj. EBIT outlook. Top European News Traders Ramp Up U.K. Rate-Hike Bets on Bailey Inflation Warning Nordea Equity Research Hires Pareto Analyst for Tech Team ECB’s Visco Says Flexible Policy Should Remain Part of Toolkit Scholz Coalition Eyes $580 Billion in Spending on German Reboot In FX, the broader Dollar and index has waned off its 94.174 pre-European cash open high but remains underpinned above 94.000 by risk aversion and firmer yields, with the US 10yr cash now hovering around 1.60%. Stateside, US President Biden confirmed that the reconciliation package will likely be less than USD 3.5trln, although this was widely expected in recent weeks. Aside from that, the Greenback awaits further catalysts but until then will likely derive its impetus from the yield and risk environment. From a tech standpoint, a breach of 94.000 to the downside could see a test of the 21 DMA (93.865) – which has proven to provide some support over the last two trading sessions, with Friday and Thursday’s lows at 93.847 and 93.759 respectively. The upside meanwhile sees the YTD high at 94.563, printed on the 12th of Oct. CNH - The offshore is relatively flat on the day in a contained 6.4265-4387 range following a set of overall downbeat Chinese activity metrics. GDP growth momentum waned more than expected whilst industrial production was lower than expected, largely impacted by the electricity crisis and local COVID outbreaks during Q3. Retail sales meanwhile rebounded more than expected – albeit due to reopening effects, with inflation a concern heading forward. The Chinese National Bureau of Stats later hit the wires suggesting that major economic data are seen in reasonable ranges from Q1-Q3. The PBoC governor meanwhile downplayed the current risks of spillover from default fears. AUD, NZD, CAD - The overall cautiousness across the market has pressured high-betas. The AUD fails to glean support from the firmer base metal prices and the surge in coal prices overnight, with overall downbeat Chinese data proving to be headwinds for the antipodean. The NZD is more cushioned as inflation topped forecasts and reinforced the RBNZ’s hawkishness, whilst AUD/NZD remains capped at around 1.0500. AUD/USD fell back under its 100 DMA (0.7409) from a 0.7437 peak, whilst NZD/USD hovers around 0.7050 (vs high 0.7100), with the 100 DMA at 0.7021. The Loonie narrowly lags as a pullback in oil adds further headwinds. USD/CAD aims for a firmer footing above 1.2400 from a 1.2348 base. EUR, GBP- The single currency and Sterling are relatively flat on the day and within tight ranges of 1.1572-1.1605 and 1.3720-65 respectively. The latter was unreactive to weekend commentary from the BoE governor, sounding cautious over rising inflation but ultimately labelling it temporary, although suggesting that monetary policy may have to step in if risks materialise. From a Brexit standpoint, nothing major to report in the runup to negotiations on the Northern Ireland protocol. Across the Channel, FT sources suggested that four ECB GC members would support upping the PSPP share of APP from the current 10% - with the plan to be discussed across two meetings next month and requiring a majority from the 25 members. All-in-all, the EUR was unswayed ahead of a plethora of ECB speakers during the week and as the clock ticks down to flash PMIs on Friday. JPY, CHF - The traditional safe-havens have fallen victim to the firmer Buck, with USD/JPY extending on gains north of 114.00 as it inches closer towards 114.50 – which also matches some highs dating back to 2017. The Swiss Franc is among the laggards after USD/CHF rebounded from its 50 DMA (0.9214) as it heads back towards 0.9300, with the weekly Sight deposits also seeing W/W increases. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures have drifted from best levels as the cautious risk tone weighs on prices, but nonetheless, the complex remains overall firmer with the former within a USD 82.55-83.06 range and the latter in a 84.93-85.31 intraday parameter. Fresh catalysts remain quiet for the complex, while there were some comments over the weekend from Iraq's Oil Ministry which noted that prices above USD 80/bbl are a positive indicator. Elsewhere on the supply-side, Iran is to resume nuclear negotiations on October 21, an Iranian lawmaker said Sunday, although it is unclear how far talks will go as the US and Iran affirm their stances. It is also worth noting that a fire was reported at Kuwait's Mina al-Ahmadi (346k BPD) refinery, but refining and export operations are unaffected. UK nat gas futures meanwhile are relatively flat in a tight range, although prices remain elevated on either side of GBP 2.5/Thm. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver trade sideways amid a lack of catalysts, although the firmer found some support at 1,760/oz - matching its 21 DMA. Over to base metals, LME copper remains supported around USD 10,250/t. Overnight, Shanghai zinc and Zhengzhou coal hit a record high and limit up respectively, with some citing supply constraints. US Event Calendar 9:15am: Sept. Industrial Production MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.4%; Capacity Utilization, est. 76.5%, prior 76.4% Manufacturing (SIC) Production, est. 0.1%, prior 0.2% 10am: Oct. NAHB Housing Market Index, est. 75, prior 76 2:15pm: Fed’s Kashkari Discusses Improving Financial Inclusion 4pm: Aug. Total Net TIC Flows, prior $126b DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Straight to China this morning where the monthly data dump has just landed. GDP expanded in Q3 by +4.9% on a year-on-year basis, which is a touch below the +5.0% consensus expectation and a shift down from the +7.9% expansion back in Q2. That’s come as their economy has faced multiple headwinds, ranging from the property market crisis with the issues surrounding Evergrande group and other developers, an energy crisis that’s forced factories to curb output, alongside a number of Covid-19 outbreaks that have led to tight restrictions as they seek to eliminate the virus from circulating domestically. Industrial production for September also came in beneath expectations with a +3.1% year-on-year expansion (vs. +3.8% expected), though retail sales outperformed in the same month with +4.4% year-on-year growth (vs. +3.5% expected), and the jobless rate also fell back to 4.9% (vs. 5.1% expected). That data release alongside continued concerns over inflation has sent Asian markets lower this morning, with the Shanghai Composite (-0.35%), Hang Seng (-0.36%), CSI (-1.40%) KOSPI (-0.01%), and the Nikkei (-0.16%) all trading lower. Speaking of inflation, there’ve also been fresh upward moves in commodity prices overnight, with WTI up a further +1.58% this morning to follow up a run of 8 successive weekly moves higher, which takes it to another post-2014 high, whilst Brent crude is also up +1.14%. Furthermore, data overnight has shown that New Zealand’s CPI surged to a 10-year high of +4.9% in Q3, which was some way above the +4.2% expected. Looking forward, equity futures in the US are pointing lower, with those on the S&P 500 down -0.11%. Another interesting weekend story comes again from the Bank of England, which seems to be using the weekends of late to prime the markets for imminent rate hikes. Governor Bailey yesterday said inflation “will last longer and it will of course get into the annual numbers for longer as a consequence… That raises for central banks the fear and concern of embedded expectations. That’s why we, at the Bank of England have signalled, and this is another signal, that we will have to act. But of course that action comes in our monetary policy meetings.” It’s difficult to get much more explicit than this and it’ll be interesting to see if we get even more priced into the very immediate front end this morning. For now, sterling has seen little change, weakening -0.13% against the US dollar, but markets were already pricing in an initial +15bps move up to 0.25% by the end of the year before the speech. Now the big China data is out of the way we’ll have to wait until Friday for the main releases of the week, namely the global flash PMIs. Outside of that, there’s plenty of Fedspeak as they approach the blackout period at the weekend ahead of their November 3rd meeting where they’re expected to announce the much discussed taper. On top of this, earnings season will ramp up further, with 78 companies in the S&P 500 reporting. Early season positive earnings across the board have definitely helped sentiment over the last few days. 18 out of 19 that reported last week beat expectations across varying sectors. As examples, freight firm JB Hunt climbed around 9% after beating, Alcoa over 15% and Goldman Sachs nearly 4%. So much for inflation squeezing margins. My view remains that we’re still seeing “growthflation” and not “stagflation”, particularly in the US even if there are obvious risks to growth. For now, there is still a buffer before we should get really worried. On the back of the decent earnings, the S&P 500 had its best week since July last week and is now only less than -1.5% off its record high from early September. Given that earnings season has made a difference the 78 companies in the S&P 500 and 58 from the Stoxx 600 will be important for sentiment this week. In terms of the highlights, tomorrow we’ll get reports from Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Netflix, Philip Morris International and BNY Mellon. Then on Wednesday, releases include Tesla, ASML, Verizon Communications, Abbott Laboratories, NextEra Energy and IBM. On Thursday, there’s Intel, Danaher, AT&T, Union Pacific and Barclays. Lastly on Friday, well hear from Honeywell and American Express. It’ll also be worth watching out for the latest inflation data, with CPI releases for September from the UK, Canada (both Wednesday) and Japan (Friday). The UK is by far and away the most interesting given the recent pressures and likely imminent rate hike. This month is likely to be a bit of calm before the future storm though as expectations are broadly similar to last month. Given the recent rise in energy prices, this won’t last though. In terms of the main US data, today’s industrial production (consensus +0.2% vs. +0.4% previously) will be a window into supply-chain disruptions, particularly in the auto sector. Outside of that, you’ll see in the day-by-day week ahead guide at the end that there’s a bit of US housing data to be unveiled (NAHB today, housing starts and permits tomorrow). Housing was actually the most interesting part of the US CPI last week as rental inflation came in very strong, with primary rents and owners’ equivalent rent growing at the fastest pace since 2001 and 2006, respectively. The strength was regionalised (mainly in the South) but this push from recent housing market buoyancy into CPI, via rents, has been a big theme of ours in recent months. The models that my colleague Francis Yared has suggest that we could be at comfortably above 4% inflation on this measure by next year given the lags in the model. Rents and owners’ equivalent rent makes up around a third of US CPI. So will a third of US inflation be above 4% consistently next year before we even get to all the other things? Moving to Germany, formal coalition negotiations are set to commence soon between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP. They reached an agreement on Friday with some preliminary policies that will form the basis for talks, including the maintenance of the constitutional debt brake, a pledge not to raise taxes or impose new ones, along with an increase in the minimum wage to €12 per hour. There are also a number of environmental measures, including a faster shift away from coal that will be complete by 2030. The Green Party voted in favour of entering the formal negotiations over the weekend, with the SPD agreeing on Friday, and the FDP is expected to approve the talks today. Reviewing last week now and strong earnings, along with the rather precipitous decline in long-end real yields drove the S&P 500 +1.82% higher over the week (+0.75% Friday), while the STOXX 600 gained +2.65% (+0.74% Friday). No major sector ended the week lower in Europe, while only communications (-0.52%) were down in the U.S. Interest rate sensitive sectors were among the outperformers in each jurisdiction. The 2s10s yield curve twist flattened -11.7bps over the week, as investors brought forward the timing of an increase to the Fed’s policy rate, driving the 2-year +7.8bps higher (+3.5 bps Friday), whilst the 10-year declined -4.2 bps (+6.0bps Friday). This is consistent with our US econ team bringing forward their call for the Fed lift-off to late 2022. Markets are actually pricing in a 50/50 likelihood of a hike by June. Particularly notable was the decline in long-end real yields, with 10yr real yields finishing the week -9.5bps lower, and at one point closed beneath the -1.00% mark for the first time in a month. Hence breakevens were up +5.4bps to 2.565%, leaving them right around their year-to-date highs last reached in May. The curve flattening trend was a global one last week, with 2-year gilts yields up +3.7bps whilst the 10-year fell -5.2bps. The bund curve flattened mildly as well, with 2-year bunds increasing +2.6 bps and the 10-year -1.6 bps. 10-year breakevens increased +7.9 bps in the UK, and +7.3 bps in Germany, which marks the highest reading since 2008 in the UK and the highest in Germany since 2013. The increases in inflation compensation were matched by commodities. WTI and Brent futures increased +3.69% and +3.00%, respectively last week, whilst metals also posted strong gains, with copper up +10.62% and aluminium +6.93% higher on the week. On the data front, September retail sales were much stronger than expectations, with the prior month’s components being revised higher across the board as well. The University of Michigan consumer survey saw sentiment and 5yr inflation expectations dip, while year ahead inflation expectations inched up to 4.8%. Friday’s strong data brought a brief reprieve from the curve flattening exhibited the rest of the week. Tyler Durden Mon, 10/18/2021 - 07:41.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 18th, 2021

Futures Bounce On Evergrande Reprieve With Fed Looming

Futures Bounce On Evergrande Reprieve With Fed Looming Despite today's looming hawkish FOMC meeting in which Powell is widely expected to unveil that tapering is set to begin as soon as November and where the Fed's dot plot may signal one rate hike in 2022, futures climbed as investor concerns over China's Evergrande eased after the property developer negotiated a domestic bond payment deal. Commodities rallied while the dollar was steady. Contracts on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 flipped from losses to gains as China’s central bank boosted liquidity when it injected a gross 120BN in yuan, the most since January... ... and investors mulled a vaguely-worded statement from the troubled developer about an interest payment.  S&P 500 E-minis were up 23.0 points, or 0.53%, at 7:30 a.m. ET. Dow E-minis were up 199 points, or 0.60%, and Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 44.00 points, or 0.29%. Among individual stocks, Fedex fell 5.8% after the delivery company cut its profit outlook on higher costs and stalled growth in shipments. Morgan Stanley says it sees the company’s 1Q issues getting “tougher from here.” Commodity-linked oil and metal stocks led gains in premarket trade, while a slight rise in Treasury yields supported major banks. However, most sectors were nursing steep losses in recent sessions. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers: Adobe (ADBE US) down 3.1% after 3Q update disappointed the high expectations of investors, though the broader picture still looks solid, Morgan Stanley said in a note Freeport McMoRan (FCX US), Cleveland- Cliffs (CLF US), Alcoa (AA US) and U.S. Steel (X US) up 2%-3% premarket, following the path of global peers as iron ore prices in China rallied Aethlon Medical (AEMD US) and Exela Technologies (XELAU US) advance along with other retail traders’ favorites in the U.S. premarket session. Aethlon jumps 21%; Exela up 8.3% Other so-called meme stocks also rise: ContextLogic +1%; Clover Health +0.9%; Naked Brand +0.9%; AMC +0.5% ReWalk Robotics slumps 18% in U.S. premarket trading, a day after nearly doubling in value Stitch Fix (SFIX US) rises 15.7% in light volume after the personal styling company’s 4Q profit and sales blew past analysts’ expectations Hyatt Hotels (H US) seen opening lower after the company launches a seven-million-share stock offering Summit Therapeutics (SMMT US) shares fell as much as 17% in Tuesday extended trading after it said the FDA doesn’t agree with the change to the primary endpoint that has been implemented in the ongoing Phase III Ri-CoDIFy studies when combining the studies Marin Software (MRIN US) surged more than 75% Tuesday postmarket after signing a new revenue-sharing agreement with Google to develop its enterprise technology platforms and software products The S&P 500 had fallen for 10 of the past 12 sessions since hitting a record high, as fears of an Evergrande default exacerbated seasonally weak trends and saw investors pull out of stocks trading at lofty valuations. The Nasdaq fell the least among its peers in recent sessions, as investors pivoted back into big technology names that had proven resilient through the pandemic. Focus now turns to the Fed's decision, due at 2 p.m. ET where officials are expected to signal a start to scaling down monthly bond purchases (see our preview here).  The Fed meeting comes after a period of market volatility stoked by Evergrande’s woes. China’s wider property-sector curbs are also feeding into concerns about a slowdown in the economic recovery from the pandemic. “Chair Jerome Powell could hint at the tapering approaching shortly,” said Sébastien Barbé, a strategist at Credit Agricole CIB. “However, given the current uncertainty factors (China property market, Covid, pace of global slowdown), the Fed should remain cautious when it comes to withdrawing liquidity support.” Meanwhile, confirming what Ray Dalio said that the taper will just bring more QE, Governing Council member Madis Muller said the  European Central Bank may boost its regular asset purchases once the pandemic-era emergency stimulus comes to an end. “Dovish signals could unwind some of the greenback’s gains while offering relief to stock markets,” Han Tan, chief market analyst at Exinity Group, wrote in emailed comments. A “hawkish shift would jolt markets, potentially pushing Treasury yields and the dollar past the upper bound of recent ranges, while gold and equities would sell off hunting down the next levels of support.” China avoided a major selloff as trading resumed following a holiday, after the country’s central bank boosted its injection of short-term cash into the financial system. MSCI’s Asia-Pacific index declined for a third day, dragged lower by Japan. Stocks were also higher in Europe. Basic resources - which bounced from a seven month low - and energy were among the leading gainers in the Stoxx Europe 600 index as commodity prices steadied after Beijing moved to contain fears of a spiraling debt crisis. Entain Plc rose more than 7%, extending Tuesday’s gain as it confirmed it received a takeover proposal from DraftKings Inc. Peer Flutter Entertainment Plc climbed after settling a legal dispute.  Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Entain shares jump as much as 11% after DraftKings Inc. offered to acquire the U.K. gambling company for about $22.4 billion. Vivendi rises as much as 3.1% in Paris, after Tuesday’s spinoff of Universal Music Group. Legrand climbs as much as 2.1% after Exane BNP Paribas upgrades to outperform and raises PT to a Street-high of EU135. Orpea shares falls as much as 2.9%, after delivering 1H results that Jefferies (buy) says were a “touch” below consensus. Bechtle slides as much as 5.1% after Metzler downgrades to hold from buy, saying persistent supply chain problems seem to be weighing on growth. Sopra Steria drops as much as 4.1% after Stifel initiates coverage with a sell, citing caution on company’s M&A strategy Despite the Evergrande announcement, Asian stocks headed for their longest losing streak in more than a month amid continued China-related concerns, with traders also eying policy decisions from major central banks. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 0.7% in its third day of declines, with TSMC and Keyence the biggest drags. China’s CSI 300 tumbled as much as 1.9% as the local market reopened following a two-day holiday. However, the gauge came off lows after an Evergrande unit said it will make a bond interest payment and as China’s central bank boosted liquidity.  Taiwan’s equity benchmark led losses in Asia on Wednesday, dragged by TSMC after a two-day holiday, while markets in Hong Kong and South Korea were closed. Key stock gauges in Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam rose “A liquidity injection from the People’s Bank of China accompanied the Evergrande announcement, which only served to bolster sentiment further,” according to DailyFX’s Thomas Westwater and Daniel Dubrovsky. “For now, it appears that market-wide contagion risk linked to a potential Evergrande collapse is off the table.” Japanese equities fell for a second day amid global concern over China’s real-estate sector, as the Bank of Japan held its key stimulus tools in place while flagging pressures on the economy. Electronics makers were the biggest drag on the Topix, which declined 1%. Daikin and Fanuc were the largest contributors to a 0.7% loss in the Nikkei 225. The BOJ had been expected to maintain its policy levers ahead of next week’s key ruling party election. Traders are keenly awaiting the Federal Reserve’s decision due later for clues on the U.S. central banks plan for tapering stimulus. “Markets for some time have been convinced that the BOJ has reached the end of the line on normalization and will remain in a holding pattern on policy until at least April 2023 when Governor Kuroda is scheduled to leave,” UOB economist Alvin Liew wrote in a note. “Attention for the BOJ will now likely shift to dealing with the long-term climate change issues.” In the despotic lockdown regime that is Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3% to close at 7,296.90, reversing an early decline in a rally led by mining and energy stocks. Banks closed lower for the fourth day in a row. Champion Iron was among the top performers after it was upgraded at Citi. IAG was among the worst performers after an earthquake caused damage to buildings in Melbourne. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3% to 13,215.80 In FX, commodity currencies rallied as concerns about China Evergrande Group’s debt troubles eased as China’s central bank boosted liquidity and investors reviewed a statement from the troubled developer about an interest payment. Overnight implied volatility on the pound climbed to the highest since March ahead of Bank of England’s meeting on Thursday. The British pound weakened after Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warnedthat people should prepare for longer-term high energy prices amid a natural-gas shortage that sent power costs soaring. Several U.K. power firms have stopped taking in new clients as small energy suppliers struggle to meet their previous commitments to sell supplies at lower prices. Overnight volatility in the euro rises above 10% for the first time since July ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision announcement. The Aussie jumped as much as 0.5% as iron-ore prices rebounded. Spot surged through option-related selling at 0.7240 before topping out near 0.7265 strikes expiring Wednesday, according to Asia- based FX traders.  Elsewhere, the yen weakened and commodity-linked currencies such as the Australian dollar pushed higher. In rates, the dollar weakened against most of its Group-of-10 peers. Treasury futures were under modest pressure in early U.S. trading, leaving yields cheaper by ~1.5bp from belly to long-end of the curve. The 10-year yield was at ~1.336% steepening the 2s10s curve by ~1bp as the front-end was little changed. Improved risk appetite weighed; with stock futures have recovering much of Tuesday’s losses as Evergrande concerns subside. Focal point for Wednesday’s session is FOMC rate decision at 2pm ET.   FOMC is expected to suggest it will start scaling back asset purchases later this year, while its quarterly summary of economic projections reveals policy makers’ expectations for the fed funds target in coming years in the dot-plot update; eurodollar positions have emerged recently that anticipate a hawkish shift Bitcoin dropped briefly below $40,000 for the first time since August amid rising criticism from regulators, before rallying as the mood in global markets improved. In commodities, Iron ore halted its collapse and metals steadied. Oil advanced for a second day. Bitcoin slid below $40,000 for the first time since early August before rebounding back above $42,000.   To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the aforementioned Federal Reserve decision and Chair Powell’s subsequent press conference. Otherwise on the data side, we’ll get US existing home sales for August, and the European Commission’s advance consumer confidence reading for the Euro Area in September. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.4% to 4,362.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.5% to 461.19 MXAP down 0.7% to 199.29 MXAPJ down 0.4% to 638.39 Nikkei down 0.7% to 29,639.40 Topix down 1.0% to 2,043.55 Hang Seng Index up 0.5% to 24,221.54 Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,628.49 Sensex little changed at 59,046.84 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% to 7,296.94 Kospi up 0.3% to 3,140.51 Brent Futures up 1.5% to $75.47/bbl Gold spot up 0.0% to $1,775.15 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 93.26 German 10Y yield rose 0.6 bps to -0.319% Euro little changed at $1.1725 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg What would it take to knock the U.S. recovery off course and send Federal Reserve policy makers back to the drawing board? Not much — and there are plenty of candidates to deliver the blow The European Central Bank will discuss boosting its regular asset purchases once the pandemic-era emergency stimulus comes to an end, but any such increase is uncertain, Governing Council member Madis Muller said Investors seeking hints about how Beijing plans to deal with China Evergrande Group’s debt crisis are training their cross hairs on the central bank’s liquidity management A quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded mixed as caution lingered ahead of upcoming risk events including the FOMC, with participants also digesting the latest Evergrande developments and China’s return to the market from the Mid-Autumn Festival. ASX 200 (+0.3%) was positive with the index led higher by the energy sector after a rebound in oil prices and as tech also outperformed, but with gains capped by weakness in the largest-weighted financials sector including Westpac which was forced to scrap the sale of its Pacific businesses after failing to secure regulatory approval. Nikkei 225 (-0.7%) was subdued amid the lack of fireworks from the BoJ announcement to keep policy settings unchanged and ahead of the upcoming holiday closure with the index only briefly supported by favourable currency outflows. Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) was initially pressured on return from the long-weekend and with Hong Kong markets closed, but pared losses with risk appetite supported by news that Evergrande’s main unit Hengda Real Estate will make coupon payments due tomorrow, although other sources noted this is referring to the onshore bond payments valued around USD 36mln and that there was no mention of the offshore bond payments valued at USD 83.5mln which are also due tomorrow. Meanwhile, the PBoC facilitated liquidity through a CNY 120bln injection and provided no surprises in keeping its 1-year and 5-year Loan Prime Rates unchanged for the 17th consecutive month at 3.85% and 4.65%, respectively. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat amid the absence of any major surprises from the BoJ policy announcement and following the choppy trade in T-notes which were briefly pressured in a knee-jerk reaction to the news that Evergrande’s unit will satisfy its coupon obligations tomorrow, but then faded most of the losses as cautiousness prevailed. Top Asian News Gold Steady as Traders Await Outcome of Fed Policy Meeting Evergrande Filing on Yuan Bond Interest Leaves Analysts Guessing Singapore Category E COE Price Rises to Highest Since April 2014 Asian Stocks Fall for Third Day as Focus Turns to Central Banks European equities (Stoxx 600 +0.5%) trade on a firmer footing in the wake of an encouraging APAC handover. Focus overnight was on the return of Chinese participants from the Mid-Autumn Festival and news that Evergrande’s main unit, Hengda Real Estate will make coupon payments due tomorrow; however, we await indication as to whether they will meet Thursday’s offshore payment deadline as well. Furthermore, the PBoC facilitated liquidity through a CNY 120bln injection whilst keeping its 1-year and 5-year Loan Prime Rates unchanged (as expected). Note, despite gaining yesterday and today, thus far, the Stoxx 600 is still lower to the tune of 0.7% on the week. Stateside, futures are also trading on a firmer footing ahead of today’s FOMC policy announcement, at which, market participants will be eyeing any clues for when the taper will begin and digesting the latest dot plot forecasts. Furthermore, the US House voted to pass the bill to fund the government through to December 3rd and suspend the debt limit to end-2022, although this will likely be blocked by Senate Republicans. Back to Europe, sectors are mostly firmer with outperformance in Basic Resources and Oil & Gas amid upside in the metals and energy complex. Elsewhere, Travel & Leisure is faring well amid further upside in Entain (+6.1%) with the Co. noting it rejected an earlier approach from DraftKings at GBP 25/shr with the new offer standing at GBP 28/shr. Additionally for the sector, Flutter Entertainment (+4.1%) are trading higher after settling the legal dispute between the Co. and Commonwealth of Kentucky. Elsewhere, in terms of deal flow, Iliad announced that it is to acquire UPC Poland for around USD 1.8bln. Top European News Energy Cost Spike Gets on EU Ministers’ Green Deal Agenda Travel Startup HomeToGo Gains in Frankfurt Debut After SPAC Deal London Stock Exchange to Shut Down CurveGlobal Exchange EU Banks Expected to Add Capital for Climate Risk, EBA Says In FX, trade remains volatile as this week’s deluge of global Central Bank policy meetings continues to unfold amidst fluctuations in broad risk sentiment from relatively pronounced aversion at various stages to a measured and cautious pick-up in appetite more recently. Hence, the tide is currently turning in favour of activity, cyclical and commodity currencies, albeit tentatively in the run up to the Fed, with the Kiwi and Aussie trying to regroup on the 0.7000 handle and 0.7350 axis against their US counterpart, and the latter also striving to shrug off negative domestic impulses like a further decline below zero in Westpac’s leading index and an earthquake near Melbourne. Next up for Nzd/Usd and Aud/Usd, beyond the FOMC, trade data and preliminary PMIs respectively. DXY/CHF/EUR/CAD - Notwithstanding the overall improvement in market tone noted above, or another major change in mood and direction, the Dollar index appears to have found a base just ahead of 93.000 and ceiling a similar distance away from 93.500, as it meanders inside those extremes awaiting US existing home sales that are scheduled for release before the main Fed events (policy statement, SEP and post-meeting press conference from chair Powell). Indeed, the Franc, Euro and Loonie have all recoiled into tighter bands vs the Greenback, between 0.9250-26, 1.1739-17 and 1.2831-1.2770, but with the former still retaining an underlying bid more evident in the Eur/Chf cross that is consolidating under 1.0850 and will undoubtedly be acknowledged by the SNB tomorrow. Meanwhile, Eur/Usd has hardly reacted to latest ECB commentary from Muller underpinning that the APP is likely to be boosted once the PEPP envelope is closed, though Usd/Cad is eyeing a firm rebound in oil prices in conjunction with hefty option expiry interest at the 1.2750 strike (1.8 bn) that may prevent the headline pair from revisiting w-t-d lows not far beneath the half round number. GBP/JPY - The major laggards, as Sterling slips slightly further beneath 1.3650 against the Buck to a fresh weekly low and Eur/Gbp rebounds from circa 0.8574 to top 0.8600 on FOMC day and T-1 to super BoE Thursday. Elsewhere, the Yen has lost momentum after peaking around 109.12 and still not garnering sufficient impetus to test 109.00 via an unchanged BoJ in terms of all policy settings and guidance, as Governor Kuroda trotted out the no hesitation to loosen the reins if required line for the umpteenth time. However, Usd/Jpy is holding around 109.61 and some distance from 1.1 bn option expiries rolling off between 109.85-110.00 at the NY cut. SCANDI/EM - Brent’s revival to Usd 75.50+/brl from sub-Usd 73.50 only yesterday has given the Nok another fillip pending confirmation of a Norges Bank hike tomorrow, while the Zar has regained some poise with the aid of firmer than forecast SA headline and core CPI alongside a degree of retracement following Wednesday’s breakdown of talks on a pay deal for engineering workers that prompted the union to call a strike from early October. Similarly, the Cnh and Cny by default have regrouped amidst reports that the CCP is finalising details to restructure Evergrande into 3 separate entities under a plan that will see the Chinese Government take control. In commodities, WTI and Brent are firmer this morning though once again fresh newsflow for the complex has been relatively slim and largely consisting of gas-related commentary; as such, the benchmarks are taking their cue from the broader risk tone (see equity section). The improvement in sentiment today has brought WTI and Brent back in proximity to being unchanged on the week so far as a whole; however, the complex will be dictated directly by the EIA weekly inventory first and then indirectly, but perhaps more pertinently, by today’s FOMC. On the weekly inventories, last nights private release was a larger than expected draw for the headline and distillate components, though the Cushing draw was beneath expectations; for today, consensus is a headline draw pf 2.44mln. Moving to metals where the return of China has seen a resurgence for base metals with LME copper posting upside of nearly 3.0%, for instance. Albeit there is no fresh newsflow for the complex as such, so it remains to be seen how lasting this resurgence will be. Finally, spot gold and silver are firmer but with the magnitude once again favouring silver over the yellow metal. US Event Calendar 10am: Aug. Existing Home Sales MoM, est. -1.7%, prior 2.0% 2pm: Sept. FOMC Rate Decision (Lower Boun, est. 0%, prior 0% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap All eyes firmly on China this morning as it reopens following a 2-day holiday. As expected the indices there have opened lower but the scale of the declines are being softened by the PBoC increasing its short term cash injections into the economy. They’ve added a net CNY 90bn into the system. On Evergrande, we’ve also seen some positive headlines as the property developers’ main unit Hengda Real Estate Group has said that it will make coupon payment for an onshore bond tomorrow. However, the exchange filing said that the interest payment “has been resolved via negotiations with bondholders off the clearing house”. This is all a bit vague and doesn’t mention the dollar bond at this stage. Meanwhile, Bloomberg has reported that Chinese authorities have begun to lay the groundwork for a potential restructuring that could be one of the country’s biggest, assembling accounting and legal experts to examine the finances of the group. All this follows news from Bloomberg yesterday that Evergrande missed interest payments that had been due on Monday to at least two banks. In terms of markets the CSI (-1.11%), Shanghai Comp (-0.29%) and Shenzhen Comp (-0.53%) are all lower but have pared back deeper losses from the open. We did a flash poll in the CoTD yesterday (link here) and after over 700 responses in a couple of hours we found only 8% who we thought Evergrande would still be impacting financial markets significantly in a month’s time. 24% thought it would be slightly impacting. The other 68% thought limited or no impact. So the world is relatively relaxed about contagion risk for now. The bigger risk might be the knock on impact of weaker Chinese growth. So that’s one to watch even if you’re sanguine on the systemic threat. Craig Nicol in my credit team did a good note yesterday (link here) looking at the contagion risk to the broader HY market. I thought he summed it up nicely as to why we all need to care one way or another in saying that “Evergrande is the largest corporate, in the largest sector, of the second largest economy in the world”. For context AT&T is the largest corporate borrower in the US market and VW the largest in Europe. Turning back to other Asian markets now and the Nikkei (-0.65%) is down but the Hang Seng (+0.51%) and Asx (+0.58%) are up. South Korean markets continue to remain closed for a holiday. Elsewhere, yields on 10y USTs are trading flattish while futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.10% and those on the Stoxx 50 are up +0.21%. Crude oil prices are also up c.+1% this morning. In other news, the Bank of Japan policy announcement overnight was a non-event as the central bank maintained its yield curve target while keeping the policy rate and asset purchases plan unchanged. The central bank also unveiled more details of its green lending program and said that it would immediately start accepting applications and would begin making the loans in December. The relatively calm Asian session follows a stabilisation in markets yesterday following their rout on Monday as investors looked forward to the outcome of the Fed’s meeting later today. That said, it was hardly a resounding performance, with the S&P 500 unable to hold on to its intraday gains and ending just worse than unchanged after the -1.70% decline the previous day as investors remained vigilant as to the array of risks that continue to pile up on the horizon. One of these is in US politics and legislators seem no closer to resolving the various issues surrounding a potential government shutdown at the end of the month, along with a potential debt ceiling crisis in October, which is another flashing alert on the dashboard for investors that’s further contributing to weaker sentiment right now. Looking ahead now, today’s main highlight will be the latest Federal Reserve decision along with Chair Powell’s subsequent press conference, with the policy decision out at 19:00 London time. Markets have been on edge for any clues about when the Fed might begin to taper asset purchases, but concern about tapering actually being announced at this meeting has dissipated over recent weeks, particularly after the most recent nonfarm payrolls in August came in at just +235k, and the monthly CPI print also came in beneath consensus expectations for the first time since November. In terms of what to expect, our US economists write in their preview (link here) that they see the statement adopting Chair Powell’s language that a reduction in the pace of asset purchases is appropriate “this year”, so long as the economy remains on track. They see Powell maintaining optionality about the exact timing of that announcement, but they think that the message will effectively be that the bar to pushing the announcement beyond November is relatively high in the absence of any material downside surprises. This meeting also sees the release of the FOMC’s latest economic projections and the dot plot, where they expect there’ll be an upward drift in the dots that raises the number of rate hikes in 2023 to 3, followed by another 3 increases in 2024. Back to yesterday, and as mentioned US equity markets fell for a second straight day after being unable to hold on to earlier gains, with the S&P 500 slightly lower (-0.08%). High-growth industries outperformed with biotech (+0.38%) and semiconductors (+0.18%) leading the NASDAQ (+0.22%) slightly higher, however the Dow Jones (-0.15%) also struggled. Europe saw a much stronger performance though as much of the US decline came after Europe had closed. The STOXX 600 gained +1.00% to erase most of Monday’s losses, with almost every sector in the index ending the day in positive territory. With risk sentiment improving for much of the day yesterday, US Treasuries sold off slightly and by the close of trade yields on 10yr Treasuries were up +1.2bps to 1.3226%, thanks to a +1.8bps increase in real yields. However, sovereign bonds in Europe told a different story as yields on 10yr bunds (-0.3bps), OATs (-0.3bps) and BTPs (-1.9bps) moved lower. Other safe havens including gold (+0.59%) and silver (+1.02%) also benefited, but this wasn’t reflected across commodities more broadly, with Bloomberg’s Commodity Spot Index (-0.30%) losing ground for a 4th consecutive session. Democratic Party leaders plan to vote on the Senate-approved $500bn bipartisan infrastructure bill next Monday, even with no resolution to the $3.5tr budget reconciliation measure that encompasses the remainder of the Biden Administration’s economic agenda. Democrats continue to work on the reconciliation measure but have turned their attention to the debt ceiling and government funding bills.Congress has fewer than two weeks before the current budget expires – on Oct 1 – to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. Republicans yesterday noted that the Democrats could raise the ceiling on their own through the reconciliation process, with many saying that they would not be offering their support to any funding bill. Democrats continue to push for a bipartisan bill to raise the debt ceiling, pointing to their votes during the Trump administration. If Democrats are forced to tie the debt ceiling and funding bills to budget reconciliation, it could limit how much of the $3.5 trillion bill survives the last minute negotiations between progressives and moderates. More to come over the next 10 days. Staying on the US, there was an important announcement in President Biden’s speech at the UN General Assembly, as he said that he would work with Congress to double US funding to poorer nations to deal with climate change. That comes as UK Prime Minister Johnson (with the UK hosting the COP26 summit in less than 6 weeks’ time) has been lobbying other world leaders to find the $100bn per year that developed economies pledged by 2020 to support developing countries as they reduce their emissions and deal with climate change. In Germany, there are just 4 days to go now until the federal election, and a Forsa poll out yesterday showed a slight narrowing in the race, with the centre-left SPD remaining on 25%, but the CDU/CSU gained a point on last week to 22%, which puts them within the +/- 2.5 point margin of error. That narrowing has been seen in Politico’s Poll of Polls as well, with the race having tightened from a 5-point SPD lead over the CDU/CSU last week to a 3-point one now. Turning to the pandemic, Johnson & Johnson reported that their booster shot given 8 weeks after the first offered 100% protection against severe disease, 94% protection against symptomatic Covid in the US, and 75% against symptomatic Covid globally. Speaking of boosters, Bloomberg reported that the FDA was expected to decide as soon as today on a recommendation for Pfizer’s booster vaccine. That follows an FDA advisory panel rejecting a booster for all adults last Friday, restricting the recommendation to those over-65 and other high-risk categories. Staying with the US and vaccines, President Biden announced that the US was ordering 500mn doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be exported to the rest of the world. On the data front, there were some strong US housing releases for August, with housing starts up by an annualised 1.615m (vs. 1.55m expected), and building permits up by 1.728m (vs. 1.6m expected). Separately, the OECD released their Interim Economic Outlook, which saw them upgrade their inflation expectations for the G20 this year to +3.7% (up +0.2ppts from May) and for 2022 to +3.9% (up +0.5ppts from May). Their global growth forecast saw little change at +5.7% in 2021 (down a tenth) and +4.5% for 2022 (up a tenth). To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the aforementioned Federal Reserve decision and Chair Powell’s subsequent press conference. Otherwise on the data side, we’ll get US existing home sales for August, and the European Commission’s advance consumer confidence reading for the Euro Area in September. Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 08:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 22nd, 2021

24 great gift ideas for your best friend, whether they"re a foodie, movie buff, or always outdoors

From gourmet snacks to personalized jewelry, these are the best gifts for best friends of all kinds. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.From quirky home decor to personalized jewelry, these are the best gifts for best friends of all kinds.Anthropologie/Kendra ScottBest friends know each other inside and out, but that doesn't mean they're easy to shop for. Your best bet when shopping for this special person in your life is to hone in on one of their interests and go from there. With that in mind, here's a gift guide that covers an array of hobbies. Whether you're best friends with a foodie, music lover, or travel aficionado, we've got you covered. So if you're at a loss as to what to get your BFF for their next birthday or any other occasion, look no further than this list. 24 great gifts for best friends in 2022:A set of face masks to relax inAmazonFaceTory facial mask collection available at Amazon, $13.95Best for: The friend who could use some self-careA best friend in desperate need of some self-care will greatly appreciate this set of seven face masks. Each mask has a different beauty benefit, so your friend can pamper themselves each day of the week.A durable water bottle they could use this summerAmazonHydro Flask available at Amazon, $24.71Best for: The best friend who loves the summer heatAs temperatures rise, staying hydrated is essential, and the Hydro Flask bottle gets the job done. This gift is excellent for any friend spending a lot of time outdoors this summer.An air fryer they'll thank you for endlesslyAmazonInstant Pot Mini Air Fryer available at Amazon, $49.99Best for: The best friend who always complains about meal prepIf your friend is late to the air fryer trend, get them up to speed with this affordable Instant Pot model. They'll understand the hype in no time. A gift that even the most diehard fan of "The Office" probably doesn't haveAmazonThe Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There available at Amazon, $18.18Best for: The bestie you'd watch "The Office" reruns withIs your best friend an obsessive fan of "The Office"? If so, look no further than "The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There," the book written by "The Office" costars and real-life best friends Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey.A set of high-quality soap and cleaners from Courtney Cox's brandHomecourtHomecourt soaps and cleaners available on Homecourt, $65Best for: The Monica Geller in your lifeFor friends who like to keep things clean, help them step up their cleaning game with this Kitchen Trio from Homecourt, actress Courteney Cox's home brand. This set includes a surface cleaner, hand wash, and dish soap and comes in four decadent fragrances. A scented candle catered to their birthdayBirthdate CoBirthdate Candles available at Birthdate Co., $49.99Best for: The astrology buffAvid astrologist friends will love this birthdate candle. Birthdate Co. manufactures 366 candles, each with a specific scent and meaning based on the recipient's birthday. If you want to go the extra mile, you can pair this with an astrology book.Their favorite food from their favorite place, delivered to their doorGoldbellyE-gift card available at Goldbelly, $25Best for: The foodie friendFor foodie friends craving a taste of home or something new, Goldbelly is an excellent choice. Goldbelly delivers regional delicacies right to their door, whether they're craving Maine lobster or Chicago deep-dish pizza. If you're not sure what they want, you can also opt for a gift card.A classic, quirky plant holderAnthropologieGrecian Bust Pot available at Anthropologie, $22.40Best for: The plant lover and/or classics fanThis beautiful and functional Grecian bust pot is the perfect gift for your plant-loving bestie. Plus, at only $24, it's a budget-friendly find. A Tiktok-famous lampUncommon GoodsSunset lamp available at Urban Outfitters, $35Best for: The friend who loves a calm spaceIf your friendship consists of sending home-improvment TikToks back and forth, your friend will definitely appreciate this sunset lamp that frequents the for you page. The lamp's projector will cast your space in a calming orangey glow reminiscent of the setting sun. A cozy hammock they'll use all summerREIDoublenest hammock available at REI, $74.95Best for: The best friend who loves to lounge outsideFriends who like to get outside will especially appreciate the ENO Doublenest Hammock. It's perfect for lounging on lazy summer days or sleeping under the stars. A box of sweets they can curate themselvesSugarwishTreats from Sugarwish available at Sugarwish, $23Best for: The bestie with the sweet toothIf your friend prefers sweet over salty, you can't go wrong with a candy box from Sugarwish. The candy package comes jampacked with a wide array of throwback confectionaries that can satisfy even the sweetest of sweet tooths. You can also pick from cookies, gourmet popcorn, and even dog treats.A set of subtle friendship braceletsKendra ScottMother of pearl friendship bracelet available at Kendra Scott, $40Best for: The nostalgic BFFNothing says friendship like matching jewelry, so treat both you and your best friend to a set of Kendra Scott friendship bracelets in one of the nine stunning variations. A pretty tiled mug that'll become their new favoriteAnthropologieMonogram mug available at Anthropologie, $11.20Best for: The coffee or tea loverGet them something they'll use every morning, like this beautiful, tiled monogram mug. A stunning embroidered journal that'll encourage them to writeRifle Paper CoEmbroidered journal available at Rifle Paper Co, $38Best for: The writer friendFor the best friend who expresses themselves best through pen and paper, this unique, embroidered journal is the perfect place to store their thoughts. A poster of 100 must-see moviesUncommon GoodsAt home movie critic chart available at Uncommon Goods, $20Best for: The cinephileFilm buffs and casual moviegoers alike will love the At Home Movie Critic's Chart. This interactive poster features IMDB's top 100 movies and is the perfect addition to a movie night with friends. A weighted blanket that's practical and life-improvingBrooklinenWeighted throw blanket available at Brooklinen, $143.65Best for: The friend who struggles with sleepLet your bestie know you care about their comfort by gifting them a weighted throw blanket to help improve their sleep and well-being. A pair of the coziest socksBloomingdalesUGG Leda Cozy Crew Socks available at Bloomingdales, $18Best for: The best friend who loves practical giftsTreat your bestie to a sock experience like no other with the UGG Leda Cozy Sock. These plush crew socks come in different shades and are sure to impress. A jigsaw puzzle that's also a murder mystery gameUncommon GoodsMurder Mystery Jigsaw Puzzle available at Uncommon Goods, $19Best for: The friend who already has every board gameThis murder mystery jigsaw puzzle is the ideal gift for friends who enjoy a challenge as the mystery unfolds with the placement of each piece. Not to mention, puzzles are a great activity to do together. A cute, personalized gift of why you appreciate themUncommon GoodsFriendship messages available at Uncommon Goods, $40Best for: The sentimental BFFTell your best friend 12 reasons why you love them so much with a beautiful handmade gift. This box of messages allows the gift giver to choose a dozen meaningful, heart-shaped reasons for their friendship that all fit in a beautiful birch container.A skincare gift set with everything they needKiehl'sKiehl's skincare gift set available at Kiehls, $58Best for: The bestie who feels overwhelmed by beauty productsEveryone seems to have an elaborate skincare routine these days, so if your best friend doesn't yet, give them a jumpstart with The Ultimate Kiehl's Skincare Gift Set. It's got everything a skincare newbie needs to improve their complexion.A kitchen gadget that'll make their whole summerWilliams SonomaWatermelon wedger available at Williams Sonoma, $29.95Best for: The best friend always hosting BBQsAny summer party with friends wouldn't be complete without fresh fruit, hence the Watermelon Wedger. This ingenious gadget simultaneously slices and cores any watermelon and is sure to become a BBQ essential. A mini set of fancy olive oils and vinegarBrightlandBrightland Mini Essential Set available at Brightland, $70Best for: The home chefIf your friend loves to cook, bring a touch of luxury to their kitchen with the Brightland Mini Essentials Set. They'll think of you every time they reach for these little olive oil and vinegar bottles, which happen to be some of our favorites.Crystal coasters to complement their homeWest ElmClouded agate coasters available at West Elm, $31.50Best for: The crystal enthusiastCrystal-loving friends will appreciate these Clouded Agate Coasters. They come in a set of four and are a complement to any table or home bar. A customized phone caseBaubleBariPhone case available at Bauble Bar, $68Best for: The best friend who loves their phoneFor something a bit more customized, consider treating your friend to the Talk To The Sand iPhone Case. Adorn the case with their name for a one-of-a-kind gift they'll use daily.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider21 hr. 53 min. ago

Supreme Court Follows Concealed Carry Decision With Pro-2A Rulings In 4 States

Supreme Court Follows Concealed Carry Decision With Pro-2A Rulings In 4 States Authored by Matthew Vadum via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The Supreme Court followed up its June 23 landmark ruling that for the first time recognized a constitutional right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, by issuing a series of rulings June 30 reversing federal appeals court decisions that upheld gun restrictions in California, New Jersey, Maryland, and Hawaii. The Supreme Court in Washington on Sept. 21, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) Courts will find it difficult to uphold the firearms laws in question after the high court’s June 30 and June 23 rulings. In unsigned orders, all four cases were remanded June 30 to lower courts “for further consideration in light of” the Supreme Court’s June 23 decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. In that 6–3 ruling, the high court invalidated New York state’s tough concealed-carry gun permitting system. Lisa Caso sells guns at Caso’s Gun-A-Rama store in Jersey City, N.J., on March 25, 2021. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Supreme Court has been strengthening Second Amendment protections in recent years. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court held the amendment protects “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,” and in McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), that this right “is fully applicable to the States.” It makes no sense to recognize Americans’ right to defend themselves in their homes while denying them the ability to defend themselves outside their homes, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote June 23 in the court’s majority opinion. “After all, the Second Amendment guarantees an ‘individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,’ and confrontation can surely take place outside the home. … Many Americans hazard greater danger outside the home than in it,” Thomas wrote. In the new orders, the Supreme Court summarily disposed of the four pending cases, simultaneously granting appellants’ petitions seeking review while skipping over the oral argument phase. Some lawyers call this process GVR, standing for grant, vacate, and remand. In the Maryland case, Bianchi v. Frosh, court file 21-902, a coalition of 25 states led by Arizona challenged Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act of 2013. The statute, which was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in September 2021, required pistol purchasers to seek a license, complete safety training, and be fingerprinted. Maryland bans popular weapons such as the AR-15 and similar rifles and limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, was defiant after the remand order. Military-style firearms “pose grave risks to public safety, as recent mass shootings in other states have made clear,” Frosh stated. Despite the Bruen ruling, the state’s law remains in effect, he said. “Marylanders have a right to be protected from these dangerous weapons.”’ Read more here... Tyler Durden Fri, 07/01/2022 - 21:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 1st, 2022

With a new carrier and rumors of more bases, a vision of China"s global presence is getting clearer

Beijing is increasingly looking for facilities to support an overseas presence, and the US is worried about how China will use its growing influence. China's third aircraft carrier, Fujian, is launched at a ceremony in Shanghai, June 17, 2022.Li Gang/Xinhua via AP China unveiled its newest and most advanced aircraft carrier on June 17. As China's navy grows, Beijing is looking for facilities to support an overseas presence. That search for outposts has US worried about how China plans to use its growing influence. China's launch of its new aircraft carrier on June 17 is the latest milestone in the Chinese navy's rapid expansion and modernization, and it comes on the heels of new developments in China's pursuit of foreign bases.The Chinese military's growth and Beijing's increasing interest in an overseas presence illustrate China's growing power and influence and have stoked US warnings about Beijing intentions in the Pacific and around the world.The carrier, Fujian, is the third China has added in the past decade but the first completely designed and built domestically. Fujian is also the first to have a flat deck and electromagnetically powered catapults, like those on the US newest aircraft carrier, allowing it to launch aircraft with heavier payloads and more fuel and to do so more quickly.While not as advanced as the US's 11 nuclear-powered carriers, the conventionally powered Fujian shows China's navy has pierced the top-tier of fleets by capabilities and size, with roughly 350 warships to the US Navy's 296.A satellite image of China's Type 003 aircraft carrier under construction at a shipyard northeast of Shanghai, May 21, 2022.Planet Labs PBC via APIn the years ahead, the design of China's carriers and the limited experience of their crews will likely keep them in the Western Pacific, where Beijing is focused on Taiwan and its disputes in the East and South China Seas, but Chinese warships already have a global presence.Chinese surface ships have operated "for extended periods well beyond the Western Pacific for years now," Thomas Shugart, an expert on naval warfare at the Center for a New American Security, told Insider.Beijing recently sent its 41st escort task force to the Gulf of Aden, where its has done regular anti-piracy patrols since 2008. Those task forces "consist of 3-4 ships and are usually gone for 3 to 4 months, spending most of that time at sea," Shugart said. Chinese naval task forces have also circumnavigated the globe and sailed to Europe and through the Aleutian Islands."China has made clear that one of its biggest national security priorities over the long-term is to be able to maintain the security of its overseas interests, as well as the security of its global sea lines of communication," Shugart said.Without more overseas air and naval bases than China currently has, those carriers "will be necessary to achieve the required level of sea control to achieve these goals, especially in the face of a potential adversary like the US Navy," Shugart said, but reports over the past two years indicate that Beijing is seeking that additional basing.'They went in big'Chinese troops at the opening ceremony for China's military base in Djibouti, August 1, 2017.STR/AFP via Getty ImagesAs China's reach expands, it is seeking "a more robust" overseas basing and logistical network to allow its military "to project and sustain military power at greater distances," the US Defense Department said in its latest report on China's military.China's only current overseas base was opened in the East African country of Djibouti in 2017. China calls it a logistical support facility and it is near waters where its ships have been conducting anti-piracy patrols.China's Djibouti base is also near a major US facility and US officials are wary of Chinese activity there. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command, told lawmakers in 2021 that China had expanded the base "by adding a significant pier that can even support their aircraft carriers in the future."Opening the Djibouti base was "a huge departure from their strategy, [which] formerly had been no military basing abroad," Lyle Goldstein, an expert on the Chinese military at Defense Priorities, told Insider in a December interview."Not only did they go into Djibouti, but they went in big," Goldstein said. "It's a substantial facility. It's not just symbolic."China has focused on the Indian Ocean, seeking investments in ports and other facilities related to maritime commercial activity.Chinese sailors wave while approaching Iran's southeastern port city of Chahbahar, December 27, 2019West Asia News Agency via REUTERSChina receives 40% of its fossil fuels from the Middle East. "As a result of that, they are interested in pursuing close, deep, and economic relationships with nations that adjoin the Strait of Hormuz and the [Persian] Gulf itself so that they can protect that long-term investment," Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told lawmakers this spring."I believe ultimately that will move from economic to a military component," added McKenzie, who was then the head of US Central Command.In early 2021, US intelligence officials reportedly learned that China was secretly building what could have been a military facility in the United Arab Emirates, prompting US efforts to halt the work. In late 2021, US official were again alarmed by intelligence indicating China was pursuing a naval base in Equatorial Guinea. The US again sought to thwart the project, dispatching senior officials to the West African country.While China has focused on economic and diplomatic engagement in Africa, it has "to a lesser degree" worked in the "military domain," Townsend told lawmakers this spring. "Their military investments are playing out in Africa. They have their one overseas base there, and they are working hard to develop other overseas bases there."A base on Africa's Atlantic coast would "put them several thousand miles closer to the US homeland," Townsend said at the time.Cambodian navy personnel at Ream naval base during a government-led media tour, July 26, 2019.TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP via Getty ImagesUS officials have also been concerned by years of work at the Ream naval base in Cambodia, where China is funding new construction, including the demolition of US-funded buildings. China and Cambodia broke ground on the base this month, days after a Chinese official told The Washington Post that "a portion of the base" will be used by China's military.Both countries deny that Ream will be for China's exclusive use, but experts say it could support a rotational presence and allow China to project power into the Indian Ocean in a way it couldn't before due to its proximity to passages into the Indian Ocean. The official also told The Post that the Chinese section of the base would host a ground station for China's BeiDou navigation satellite system, which could aid China's efforts to support its military operations and monitor other militaries.In its report on China's military, the US Defense Department said that a global network of military logistics network and military facilities "could both interfere with US military operations and support offensive operations against the United States" as China's "global military objectives evolve."US Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, the head of US Transportation Command, told lawmakers this spring that her command monitors China's "ability to project power around the globe, because that is our operating area.""I am monitoring their investments into ports, and their impact of these investments on our ability to maneuver around the world, their ability to disrupt and degrade our ability to project and sustain a force into the Pacific," Van Ovost said.'What's not fair is also not smart'A Chinese navy ship delivers relief supplies to the South Pacific island of Tonga, February 15, 2022.Yin Zheng/Xinhua via Getty ImagesChina's apparent interest in foreign military facilities comes amid a decades-long expansion of China's overseas interests, chiefly in the Pacific but increasingly throughout the world. An interest in overseas bases is in fitting with those expanding interests, Goldstein told Insider in December."I've had Chinese strategists say to my face, 'We are seeking additional bases. We have that one base in Djibouti and we want more,' and it makes sense," Goldstein said. "China has global interests and they want to have a global Navy."Goldstein noted that China doesn't appear to seek the globe-spanning basing network that the US has had for decades and that Beijing so far has been "cautious" in its use of force. Other experts say the US should keep China's expansion and its implications for the US in perspective."We have a much larger military presence in Southeast Asia than China, and even in recent years we have still engaged in military cooperation with Cambodia," Van Jackson, an international-relations professor at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, said on a recent podcast.Smaller countries should be expected to balance between two larger powers, Jackson said, pointing to Thailand and Singapore. "It's not fair to smaller nations to securitize the China part of their hedging strategies, and in Asia, it happens to be that what's not fair is also not smart and not strategic," Jackson said.US Navy destroyer USS Mustin in Singapore alongside Indian, South Korean, and Chinese navy ships, May 20, 2015.US Navy/MCS Seaman David FlewellynOther experts argue that countering China everywhere is beyond the US's means and that Washington should narrow its focus."It's a question of really prioritizing which are the countries and places that have significant strategic importance to the United States, such that if there were a Chinese military facility there we'd be in trouble," one analyst of China's foreign policy, speaking anonymously because of professional commitments, told Insider this spring.US military commanders and other officials say that the US remains the most sought-after partner for many countries and emphasize the need to strengthen those ties in the face of China's expanding influence.Van Ovost, the head of TRANSCOM, said her command was pursuing a whole-of-government effort to "thicken our relationship with allies and partners around the world" and make them more "robust" against threats from China.Townsend told lawmakers this spring that the US is still "the partner of choice, and our equipment and our training is second to none," though the payoff of that engagement "can sometimes take a long time to unfold.""We do not have to compete with China everywhere. We have to be selective about where we compete with China, and I think we are being successful in that targeted competition," Townsend said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 30th, 2022

New Corporate Policies on Abortion Travel Spark Worries About Employees’ Privacy

More than 25 companies, including Disney, Meta and Dick's Sporting Goods, announced that they would cover employees who need to travel to receive abortion care In the hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion, several major U.S. corporations announced they would cover travel expenses for employees who had to cross state lines to obtain an abortion. Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement to employees who live in states with abortion restrictions, so they “can access the same health care options, regardless of where they live, and choose what is best for them,” CEO Lauren Hobart said in a LinkedIn post. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said it would offer travel expense reimbursements “to the extent permitted by law” for employees who need to access reproductive care in another state. “We are in the process of assessing how best to do so given the legal complexities involved,” a Meta spokesperson said. Disney told employees that a benefit offering them access to care in other states extends to “family planning (including pregnancy termination),” according to a company spokesperson. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] They’re among more than 25 companies—many of them household names—that announced such policies in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision or after the official ruling on Friday. But as the dust settles in a post-Roe America, companies’ involvement in their employees’ abortion care also raises a host of new legal and privacy issues. And abortion-rights advocates are frustrated that people who become pregnant in states where abortion is illegal or heavily restricted will have to depend on their employer as they navigate complex health decisions. “Certainly women who have to access care are not overjoyed that this is where we find ourselves. This is a policy failure. This is a systemic failure,” says Erika Seth Davies, CEO of Rhia Ventures, a fund focused on reproductive health care that has encouraged companies to improve access to abortion. “And now we’re having to look to the private sector to just see to it that people can get what they need, and that’s a very precarious position.” Kayte Spector-Bagdady, a lawyer and bioethicist at the University of Michigan who focuses on health data, says she appreciates companies that are making well-intentioned efforts to support employees’ access to abortion. But there’s still a lot of uncertainty regarding what these policies will actually mean for employees; whether the benefits will be managed by health insurance providers, supervisors, or a human resources department; whether employees can use their health savings accounts for abortion care; and how employees’ privacy will be protected. Read More: What Abortion Providers in Anti-Abortion States Will Do Post-Roe “People think of health information as being protected because it’s about your health, and that’s not accurate,” she says. “I have a lot of concerns regarding the legality of the way they arrange this funding for travel, as well as the kinds of privacy protections that are in existence to protect the kind of information being generated in these relationships.” She acknowledges that company reimbursements are a valuable resource for people who could otherwise not afford to travel for abortion care, but sharing that kind of personal information with an employer poses additional challenges. “It’s a terrible position to put people into,” she says. The end of Roe v. Wade has given rise to new concerns about how sensitive abortion data—including period-tracking apps or internet searches for abortion-inducing medication—could be exploited amid efforts to criminalize abortion and potentially penalize people who have an abortion and those who help them. Read More: Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers Are Collecting Troves of Data That Could Be Weaponized Against Women So far, no states have criminal penalties for people who seek abortions—but there are signs that such laws may be coming. Texas and Oklahoma passed laws allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers and others who help someone get an abortion. It’s not yet clear if companies paying for employees’ abortion-related travel could also be liable, though a group of Republican lawmakers in Texas pledged to introduce legislation that would stop corporations from doing business in the state if they pay for abortions in other states, the Texas Tribune reported. And earlier this year, a Republican in Louisiana introduced a bill that would classify abortion as homicide and would allow prosecutors to criminally charge abortion patients. The bill was withdrawn after criticism, but it alarmed abortion-rights advocates. Roughly half of Americans receive health insurance through an employer—and experts note that employers have previously had access to other sensitive health information for their employees, which is often protected by federal health data privacy laws. But it’s not yet clear how every company will handle their new abortion-access policies—especially if threatened with legal or financial penalties. “When we’re talking about telling your employer that you’re going to get an abortion and the employer giving you cash to support that decision, that is far outside any scope of protected health data,” Spector-Bagdady says. “And also, I fear, opens women up to additional layers of potential discrimination.” She says companies need to prioritize data privacy to protect employee information as much as possible, while they roll out new policies supporting abortion access, “both to protect the company itself, but also in some states, the woman from criminal liability.” Read More: What to Know About Abortion Pills Post-Roe So far, no states have passed laws restricting patients’ ability to travel out of state for an abortion. But reproductive rights advocates worry that anti-abortion lawmakers could also pursue that in the future. “Employers should make sure that in providing these payment systems, they are standing in the shoes of the employee for a moment and thinking, ‘You know, what protections are necessary to ensure that employees can be comfortable taking advantage of them?’” says Liz Brown, an associate professor of business law and ethics at Bentley University in Massachusetts. One of the most important protections, she says, is confidentiality, “so that an employee doesn’t have to, for example, ask their boss or have their boss know.” With Roe overturned, 26 states are likely to ban abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates for abortion rights. And low-income people and women of color are likely to be most heavily affected by lack of access to abortion, further exacerbating racial disparities in healthcare. Brown says it’s important for companies to keep that in mind and extend abortion-access policies to all front-line retail or service workers, not just employees in corporate offices. “I would strongly encourage employers to broaden access to this particular benefit as much as possible, considering the racial imbalance in the population that’s going to be most affected by these restrictions,” Brown says. So far, many large retailers have remained silent on this issue. That’s also why United for Respect, a nonprofit advocating for retail workers, has called on Walmart to follow other companies and enact a similar abortion-access policy for retail employees. (A spokesperson for Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) “With a heavy concentration of retail locations in the south—where several states have abortion trigger laws in place—Walmart has an opportunity and a duty to step up and ensure its associates are supported in decisions they make about their own bodies,” Bianca Agustin, corporate accountability director at United for Respect, said in a statement. “As the largest private employer in the nation, Walmart executives can set the standard for other companies by supporting their associates and providing adequate maternity leave, paid sick leave, and covering the cost of expenses for associates who need to travel across state lines to access abortion services.” And many advocates for reproductive rights have called on companies to do more than offer health benefits, but to stop donating to legislators who have supported anti-abortion legislation. “We should have never gotten here—to this point where corporations are reactively—and falsely —committing to fighting for abortion access,” UltraViolet, an organization that advocates for gender equality and reproductive health, said in a tweet. The group says that corporations have donated more than $195 million collectively to anti-abortion lawmakers since 2020. Davies thinks that companies’ abortion-access policies represent a step in the right direction, but it’s only a start. She would like to see more companies lobby Congress for federal policies that support reproductive health care and protect abortion access. “We don’t have to be in this position of having to, again, look to the private sector for this coverage and this access,” she says. “How are companies leveraging their political spending? Is it in alignment with the values that they espouse? And if it’s not, then it should be.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeJun 29th, 2022

Uber, Nike, Lyft, Disney, JP Morgan and others vow to help employees access abortions after Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade: "We must keep up the fight"

Numerous US companies have gone public saying they'd front the costs for employees traveling to seek abortions. Protests spring up across the US as citizens react to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. WadeSarah Silbiger/CNN The US Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade. Businesses have had months to grapple with the ramifications of this long-anticipated ruling. Even before the ruling, some companies had come out with public stances regarding the end of Roe. The Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade, effectively cutting off abortion access in many parts of the US. The seismic ruling is set to reverberate throughout the country, including in the business world."We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion," the majority of Supreme Court justices wrote in the decision, handed down Friday morning. "Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives."Given the widespread implications for half the workforce in anti-abortion states, experts have said companies based in jurisdictions with abortion bans will face repercussions around recruitment and retention and even possible legal jeopardy.Before the ruling, some businesses began offering support for employees affected by the court's long-predicted decision. Others have remained largely silent on the issue.This story is developing. Check back for updates.AmazonAmazon has publicly said it'd cover costs for employees seeking abortions in states where the procedure were made illegal.AppleApple CEO Tim Cook has said the tech giant will cover employees who "travel out-of-state for medical care if it is unavailable in their home state."AT&TThe telecommunications giant said in a statement: "The health of our employees and their families is important to our company, and we provide benefits that cover the cost of travel for medical procedures that are not available within 100 miles of their home."Previous reporting from Insider found that AT&T contributed some $1.2 million to leaders backing abortion bans in the US. It is the single largest publicly traded company behind so-called trigger laws, or laws that will effectively ban abortion in several states given the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade.  Comcast-NBC UniversalThe media company confirmed with Variety that it offers travel benefits that cover medical services and procedures that aren't available in the employee's area for up to $4,000 per trip and three trips a year. CNN confirmed that abortion care is covered.Condé NastCondé Nast CEO Roger Lynch sent out an email to workers that says the company's "most powerful" response will be through its "distinct editorial lenses"—Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 24, 2022Condé Nast has also announced that it will "assist covered employees and their covered dependents in obtaining access to reproductive care regardless of where they reside.""Today, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, allowing individual states to more aggressively regulate or ban the procedure altogether," CEO Roger Lynch wrote in a note to employees. "It is a crushing blow to reproductive rights that have been protected for nearly half a century."CVS"Ensuring access to safe, legal, high-quality health care is one of our most important priorities," the pharmacy giant said in a statement to Insider. "We will continue to provide colleagues, clients, and consumers with the flexibility to choose medical and pharmacy benefits to best suit their needs, including making out-of-state care accessible for our covered employees residing in states that have instituted laws that limit access in their state."Dick's Sporting GoodsDick's CEO Lauren Hobart posted on LinkedIn, saying she's protecting her employees'  health and well-being."In response to today's ruling, we are announcing that if a state one of our teammates lives in restricts access to abortion, DICK'S Sporting Goods will provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement to travel to the nearest location where that care is legally available. This benefit will be provided to any teammate, spouse or dependent enrolled in our medical plan, along with one support person," the retail CEO said."We recognize people feel passionately about this topic, and that there are teammates and athletes who will not agree with this decision. However, we also recognize that decisions involving health and families are deeply personal and made with thoughtful consideration," she addedDisneySpeaking on background, a Disney spokesperson said the company has "communicated directly" with its employees to "recognize the impact of the ruling." The company's travel benefit will cover pregnancy-related decisions, and the company re-emphasized its commitment to providing affordable healthcare for all employees, regardless of their locations.HP"As a company, we believe that it should be up to every single one of our employees to decide whether and when to start a family, whether that's choosing who they love and marry, taking paid time off if they are having a child, and having access to healthcare," HP CEO Enrique Lores tweeted on Friday. The information technology and hardware company said in a May statement that it would continue to support employees needed out-of-state reproductive care and would cover related travel expenses. IndeedThe careers platform said in a statement that: "Employees who are on Indeed insurance will be reimbursed for travel expenses for covered medical procedures that are unavailable where they live.""At Indeed, we believe that work needs women, and women need access to safe and affordable health care," the statement reads. "Anything that limits the freedom of women to make their own decisions about their health hurts them and society. Limiting access to safe and affordable health care will hit hardest in marginalized communities, especially people of color and those in lower income brackets."Johnson & JohnsonA spokesperson for the pharmaceutical and consumer-goods giant told Insider in a statement that the company offers reimbursement for US employees who need to travel for medical services not available within 100 miles of their home, which includes reproductive healthcare. "As the world's most broadly-based healthcare company, we strive to improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put health within reach for the people we serve," the spokesperson said. "We also believe healthcare decisions are best determined by individuals in consultation with their healthcare provider."JPMorgan ChaseIn response to the Roe ruling, the financial institution assured its workforce that it would pay for employees to travel to receive abortions, according to CNBC.KrogerA Kroger spokesperson told Insider that employees who use the company's health plan have access to "a comprehensive benefits package that includes quality, affordable health care and travel benefits up to $4,000 to facilitate access to quality care for several categories of medical treatments and a full range of reproductive health care services, including abortion and fertility treatments."Levi StraussIn a statement to Insider, a spokesperson from the clothing company highlighted the brand's donations to reproductive-rights nonprofits and said:"We stand strongly against any actions that hinder the health and well-being of our employees, which means opposing any steps to restrict access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion. Protection of reproductive rights is a critical business issue impacting our workforce, our economy, and progress toward gender and racial equity. Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees." Live NationIn an Instagram post, Live Nation pledged to cover the travel expenses for employees who need access to women's healthcare services, and bail expenses for employees arrested while protesting peacefully. A post shared by Live Nation Concerts (@livenation)  LyftThe rideshare company promised legal support for drivers at risk of lawsuits for driving passengers to abortion appointments. "We believe access to healthcare is essential and transportation should never be a barrier to that access," a Lyft spokesperson told ABC News. "This decision will hurt millions of women by taking away access to safe, and private reproductive healthcare services."MetaMeta said in a statement that it plans to reimburse travel expenses for employees who need to access out-of-state reproductive care.In a post on Facebook, longtime Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg posted about the Supreme Court's decision."I grew up hearing stories from my mom about what women in our country went through before Roe," she wrote. "My Mom had a friend who left the country to get a safe abortion. Most women could not afford to do this; some had back-alley abortions, which led all too often to serious health complications and sometimes even death. All women knew that they could possibly face impossible choices between controlling their futures and their health and breaking the law."Sandberg went on to write, "I never thought my mom's past would become my daughters' futures. I cannot believe that I'm going to send my three daughters to college with fewer rights than I had. The Supreme Court's ruling jeopardizes the health and the lives of millions of girls and women across the country."The "Lean In" author wrote that the new ruling "threatens to undo the progress women have made in the workplace.""It will make it harder for women to achieve their dreams," she wrote. "And it will disproportionately impact women with the fewest resources. This is a huge setback. For ourselves, our daughters, and every generation that follows, we must keep up the fight. Together, we must protect and expand abortion access."!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 29th, 2022

Crisis Of Faith: Politicians & Press Escalate Attacks On Legitimacy Of Supreme Court

Crisis Of Faith: Politicians & Press Escalate Attacks On Legitimacy Of Supreme Court Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is my column on the growing attacks on the legitimacy of the Supreme Court after the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. As the Court ends its term, Democratic leaders are calling for removing justices, packing the Court, and other extreme reactions to the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Here is the column: For justices, the end of a Supreme Court term usually brings welcomed vacations and speaking engagements out of town. This week it seemed more like the justices were fleeing the jurisdiction with a mob at their heels. Six justices (and their homes) are targeted because they dared to interpret the Constitution in a way that is opposed by many in the political, media, and academic establishment. After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many called for impeachments, court packing, and “disciplining” justices. What is chilling, however, is that these calls have not come from extremist groups but political and media figures who are challenging the very  “legitimacy” of the Supreme Court. The Madisonian democracy is based on the premise that, despite our factional divisions, the Constitution creates an interest in all groups in preserving the system. While the Constitution does not guarantee that your views will prevail in Congress or the courts, it has proven the most stable and successful democratic system in history.  We are all invested in that system which has achieved transformative changes over time in our laws and our society. The Constitution is neither poetic nor pretentious in its language. It was written by the ultimate wonk in Madison. It has only one thing to recommend it: we are still here.  We have survived periods of war, economic collapse, and social discord that broke other systems. Politicians and the press have thrived under this system and have historically defended its legitimacy even when demanding major changes in our laws. We are now witnessing a crisis of faith with the political and media establishment declaring the highest court to be illegitimate. All because they disagree with a constitutional interpretation adopted by the majority of its members. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, has declared the Supreme Court illegitimate and has called to pack the Court for rending opinions against “widely held public opinion.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., even questioned the institution’s value: “How much does the current structure benefit us? And I don’t think it does.” She has now demanded the impeachment of Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch based on the entirely false claim that they lied under oath in their confirmation hearings. After the Dobbs decision, Ocasio-Cortez demanded “there must be consequences” for the Court. Other leaders like Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., issued a warning to the Supreme Court: Reaffirm Roe v. Wade or face a “revolution.” The media has amplified these extreme calls. In the New York Times, columnist Jamelle Bouie wrote an outline of how Democrats could rein in the high court in a piece titled, “How to Discipline a Rogue Supreme Court.” He wrote that the Supreme Court does not exist above the constitutional system and added that the “rogue” court “cannot shield itself from the power of other branches.” Bouie’s discipline includes impeaching or removing justices as well as packing the court. Notably, like many others demanding radical changes to the Court, Bouie previously advocated the change that is most responsible for creating the Court’s current composition. Like many liberals, Bouie demanded that the Senate kill the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees. At the time, some of us warned the Democrats that the move was uniquely short-sighted and that they would rue the day that they took such a moronic step. As predicted, the Democrats soon found themselves in the minority without the protection of the filibuster rule and could not block nominees. They gained comparably little from the change given what they lost, including ultimately Roe v. Wade. Rather than admit that their prior attack on the filibuster backfired, liberals are now demanding even more radical moves like a bad gambler at Vegas who just keeps doubling down in the hopes of winning a hand. It does not matter that the Court is not as rigidly ideological or dysfunctionally divided as widely claimed. If anything, it has shown fewer divisions in most cases. Before the opinion, ABC admitted that “67% of the court’s opinions in cases argued during the term that ends this month have been unanimous or near-unanimous with just one justice dissenting.That compares to just 46% of unanimous or near-unanimous decisions during the 2019 term and the 48% average unanimous decision rate of the past decade.” Yet, after the decision, ABC’s legal analyst Terry Moran described the term as a “new era” of the “activist court.” This crisis of faith is evident in other key constituencies in our system, including in our law schools. Law professors like Berkeley Dean Erwin Chemerinksy have called the justices “partisan hacks” while others have supported targeting the individual justices at their home. Georgetown Law Professor Josh Chafetz declared that “when the mob is right, some (but not all!) more aggressive tactics are justified.” Most recently, the dean and chancellor of University of California Hastings College of the Law David Faigman questioned the legitimacy of the Court after the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.   Writing in his official capacity, Faigman went as far as to claim that “this decision turns back the clock not just to 1973, but to a century when women did not have the right to vote and were, largely, treated as property . .  . the world today is so much less generous and inclusive than it was just yesterday. I tremble for my granddaughters.” Faigman declared that the “the Court itself, which is a product of political gerrymandering—raises basic questions regarding the legitimacy of the Court itself.” From Congress to the press to academia, the very foundation of the Court is being challenged. What is notable is that these are also the voices of some of the most powerful figures in our society. Rather than seek to moderate the mob, they are fueling the rage with such reckless rhetoric. There are good-faith objections to this decision but those objections challenge the legitimacy of the holding, not the institution itself. As Benjamin Franklin noted “The U. S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.” Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 17:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 29th, 2022

Triterras Reports Financial Results for Fiscal Year Ended February 28, 2022

SINGAPORE, June 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Triterras Inc. (OTC Expert Market: TRIRF) ("Triterras" or the "Company"), a leading fintech company focused on trade and trade finance, today reported its audited financial results for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022. "Our results for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022 demonstrate the performance of our business despite the difficult operating conditions for the Company, the trade and supply chain finance industry created by COVID-19 and the related global supply chain constraints," said Triterras' Chairman and CEO Srinivas Koneru. "We benefited from our participation in the Marketplace sub-module to generate trade marketplace revenue to which we grew revenue year-over-year despite the industrywide headwinds, as our differentiated and blockchain-enabled KratosTM platform continues to address the needs of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSME). "We are actively building a pipeline of users to our platform while simultaneously expanding our revenue opportunities through our trade marketplace revenue, which was a new revenue stream in the fiscal year. We also continue to make improvements to the Kratos platform, including leveraging Unqork's no-code solutions to enhance the end-to-end trading lifecycle in support of our mission of providing better access to trade and supply chain finance solutions for MSME's." Triterras CFO Alvin Tan commented: "As of February 28, 2022, Triterras had $68.8 million in cash and cash equivalents and a working capital surplus of $101.6 million, putting us in a strong financial position to execute on our business objectives. We also have made meaningful improvements in the management of our audit process in the year 2022. With our reporting and filing obligations now brought up to date, we expect to transition to a more traditional reporting cadence with the announcement of our six-month results ending August 31, 2022 in the month of October 2022. Concurrently, our application process to trade on the over-the-counter markets is underway and we plan to seek to relist our securities on Nasdaq as soon as practicable through the normal relisting application process." Financial Highlights for the Fiscal Year Ended February 28, 2022 Revenues of $56.7 million, a 2% increase from the prior fiscal year comparable period. Net income of $33.4 million, or $0.44 per share of the Company's Ordinary Shares. Net income included a $40.8 million non-cash gain related to the change in fair value of our warrant liabilities and $8.3 million in non-cash impairment charges related to trade receivables and contract costs. General and administrative expenses included elevated legal expenses of $9.9 million and consultancy fees of $2.8 million, primarily as a result of the costs of the internal investigation initiated by the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors and the costs of litigation relating to the class action lawsuit. Adjusted EBITDA of $7.7 million, compared to $32.2 million in the prior year comparable period (Adjusted EBITDA is a measure not recognized by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS); see "Use and Reconciliation of non-IFRS Financial Measures" below). As of February 28, 2022 Triterras had $68.8 million in cash and cash equivalents and a working capital surplus of $101.6 million. Key Performance Indicators (KPI): Total transaction volume for the period was $6.7 billion compared to $10.0 billion in the prior fiscal year comparable period as COVID-19 and global supply chain constraints curtailed transaction volume. The trade finance ratio increased marginally to 36.6% of total transaction volume compared to 34.1% in the previous fiscal year comparable period. Average transaction fee for the period of 0.57% compared to 0.55% in the comparable period in the previous fiscal year. Total number of users have increased to 172 compared to 83 in the previous fiscal year. Triterras financing deployed during the year amounted to $13.0 million for the fiscal year. Trade Marketplace sub-module recorded a gross transaction volume of $18.6 million for the fiscal year. Operational Highlights During Fiscal Year Ended February 28, 2022 During the period, the Company completed the acquisition of Invoice Bazaar, which the Company expects will facilitate a faster scaling of the Company's supply chain finance business and strengthened the executive leadership team with experienced trade finance executives. Triterras' origination teams continued building its pipeline of borrowers to expand the network on the Kratos platform. Expanded revenues streams by adding trade marketplace revenue during the fiscal year for the purchase and sale of goods on the Marketplace sub-module. During the fiscal year, the Company instituted major steps to improve the security of the Kratos platform, achieved ISO 27001:2013 certification, modernized the Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosting of the Kratos platform and completed the transition from the public Ethereum blockchain to the AWS-managed Hyperledger private blockchain structure. The Kratos platform has generated $20.5 billion in total transaction volume since inception through February 2022. Based on the number of transactions conducted on Kratos as of February 2022, we estimate that the digitization on our platform reduced the use of paper by over 315,000 pages. Financial Results for Fiscal Year Ended February 28, 2022 Revenues for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022 amounted to $56.7 million, a 2% increase from the prior year period of $55.5 million. Platform service fees decreased 31% from the prior fiscal year comparable period to $38.1 million, primarily due to a 33% decrease in total transaction volume on the Kratos platform largely as a result of challenges faced by the Company and impacts of COVID-19 to the existing customer base. Trade marketplace revenue amounted to $18.6 million during the fiscal year, associated with the purchase and sale of goods on a back-to-back basis on the Marketplace sub-module of Kratos. Triterras did not have trade marketplace revenue in the prior fiscal year. Cost of revenue for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022 totaled $21.2 million, an increase from the prior fiscal year period of $4.4 million. The increase was primarily due to the introduction of the Marketplace sub-module, as Triterras recorded $18.3 million in trading costs in the fiscal year. Cost of revenue associated with the platform decreased by 33% to $2.9 million compared to the prior fiscal year. Marketing and sales for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022 totaled $1.9 million, a 57% decrease from the prior fiscal year period of $4.3 million. The decrease primarily relates to the reduction in consultancy expenses relating to a business development project for which the contract ended February 2021. General and administrative costs for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022 totaled $31.2 million, a 117% increase from the prior fiscal year period of $14.4 million. The increase is primarily attributable to elevated legal and consultancy expenses for the retention of external advisors in connection with the internal investigation initiated by the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors and ligation costs relating to class action lawsuit. During the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022, Triterras recorded $8.3 million impairment charges in trade and loan receivables and contract costs, compared to $6.9 million in the prior fiscal year. Net income for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022 totaled $33.4 million, or $0.44 earnings per share of the Company's Ordinary Shares, compared to net income of $45.3 million, or $0.74 earnings per share of the Company's Ordinary Shares, in the prior fiscal year comparable period. Net income for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022 included a $40.8 million non-cash gain related to the change in fair value of warrant liabilities and $8.3 million in impairment charges. Net income for the prior fiscal year ended February 28, 2021 included a $26.1 million non-cash gain related to the change in fair value of warrant liabilities and $6.9 million in impairment charges. Net cash used by operating activities for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022 was $28.6 million, compared to $24.2 million of net cash generated by operating activities in the same prior fiscal year comparable period. During the fiscal year ended February 28, 2022, Triterras incurred $7.3 million in development capital expenditures, $4.0 million in the acquisition of the Company's subsidiary, Invoice Bazaar, and $25.0 million associated with its investment in Trade Credit Partners, a trade finance fund. During the prior fiscal year ended February 28, 2021, Triterras incurred $8.9 million in development capital expenditures. As of February 28, 2022, cash and cash equivalents totaled $68.8 million and the Company had no debt. Listing of Triterras Securities The Company has submitted an application for trading its shares and warrants on the over-the-counter market ...Full story available on Benzinga.com.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaJun 29th, 2022

How Wall Street firms from Goldman Sachs to JPMorgan are responding to the end of Roe v. Wade

After the US Supreme Court ruled that it would end the constitutional right to an abortion, the country's biggest banks said they would step in. The Supreme Court handed down a decision reversing Roe v. Wade, a nearly 50-year-old ruling guaranteeing abortion rights.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images Citi, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs responded to the Supreme Court's decision on Friday. Goldman said it will cover travel costs for employees seeking abortions, Insider first reported. In spite of these commitments, the industry has a history of donating to trigger law sponsors. The largest US banks are responding to the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, in some cases telling their employees that they will cover costs if they must travel to seek abortion care. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citi, and Wells Fargo sent emails to employees addressing the court's decision that ends the constitutional right to an abortion, according to memos viewed by Insider. JPMorgan, the largest US bank, said in a memo to employees that it would pay for travel to states where abortion is legal, CNBC reported.Deutsche Bank, which is headquartered in Germany with operations in the US, is updating its employees' health benefits to cover travel and lodging costs for medical treatments that are 100 miles away or more from the employee, a person familiar with the matter said. The responses reflect the way powerful firms in Wall Street's orbit, from banks and asset managers to influential consulting firms, are under pressure to respond to societal issues, like racial inequity and LGBTQ rights.And in an era of stakeholder capitalism, these firms walk a fine line, risking alienating shareholders, employees, and clients — and losing their business — if they appear to support one cause over another. The financial services industry has also played a role in advancing anti-abortion laws. Banks such as JPMorgan and Citi have long track records of donating to lawmakers who sponsored so-called trigger laws. These laws automatically criminalize abortion in 13 states, including Texas and Tennessee, now that Roe has been overturned.Some firms have stayed mum on the issue. Spokespeople for Charles Schwab, which is headquartered in Texas, and UBS, which is based in Switzerland with operations across the US, did not return requests for comment. Here are how firms are responding.BlackRockBlackRock's healthcare plan will reimburse US employees for travel expenses associated with reproductive services starting on July 1, as it has done for other specialized care such as transplants and cancer treatment, according to a Yahoo Finance report late Monday that cited a memo to employees. A spokesperson declined to comment. "Through company-sponsored health insurance, we have long provided reproductive health care services, including coverage for birth control and abortion or miscarriage care," the asset management firm's global head of human resources Manish Mehta wrote in the email that Yahoo Finance viewed.Wells FargoThe third-largest US bank has updated its benefits for US employees so that starting on July 1, it will reimburse employees for transportation and lodging costs related to seeking abortion care, the bank said in a memo to employees on June 27 that Insider viewed. Wells Fargo said that if an employee is enrolled in a medical plan through the bank and healthcare services they are seeking are unavailable within 50 miles of the employee's home, Wells Fargo will reimburse for such costs for the employee and a companion traveling with them. Goldman Sachs The New York-based bank said in an internal memo on Friday that it would reimburse costs for employees to travel out of state to seek an abortion, Insider first reported. "We have extended our healthcare travel reimbursement policies to include all medical procedures, treatments and evaluations, including abortion services and gender-affirming care where a provider is not available in proximity to where our people live," Bentley de Beyer, the firm's global head of human capital management, wrote in the memo to staff on Friday afternoon.Later on Friday evening, Goldman CEO David Solomon released a statement of his own backing up the firm's pledge to cover employees' costs tied to abortion-related travel."This morning, the US Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, holding that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to choose to have an abortion," Solomon wrote in the statement posted to the company intranet which was seen by Insider. "Millions of women are right now grappling with a new legal reality. I know many of you are deeply upset, and I stand with you."The bank's "top priorities are the health and wellbeing of our people and their families," he added.JefferiesJefferies Financial Group told staffers on Monday that it will pay for the costs of abortion-related travel in a memo first reported by Insider."We have thought deeply these past few days about how to respond to the recent Supreme Court decision regarding women's rights. Jefferies will, of course, join other businesses around the US that will cover any employee-partners' costs should she decide to terminate a pregnancy and be forced to do so in a state other than the one in which she lives," CEO Richard Handler and President Brian Friedman wrote.The investment bank's two top leaders added that they will independently donate a combined $1 million to "causes that champion women's rights." Read the full memo here.Bank of AmericaBank of America said in an email to employees on Friday that it would expand coverage for US healthcare-related travel starting on July 1, according to a copy of the memo Insider reviewed."For employees and their dependents who are enrolled in our US self-insured health plans, we are expanding the list of medical treatments that are eligible for travel expense reimbursement," the memo said, expanding this coverage to reproductive healthcare including abortion, cancer treatment, and hospital admissions for mental health conditions. BNY MellonA spokesperson for the New York-based money manager and custodian said late Monday that the firm has "expanded the travel benefits under our medical plan to apply to expenses associated with obtaining covered health services from in-network providers that are not available within the member's state of residence." CitiSara Wechter, Citi's head of human resources, sent a memo to employees on Friday afternoon addressing the Supreme Court's decision, according to a memo Insider viewed."While we are still assessing the impact of the Supreme Court decision and are aware that some states may enact new legislation regarding reproductive rights, we will continue to provide benefits that support our colleagues' family planning choices wherever we are legally permitted to do so," Wechter said. Wechter referred to the commitment the bank made in March to cover the costs of staff traveling to receive abortion care. At the time, it was the only such commitment on Wall Street. Deutsche Bank The German bank is updating health benefits to cover travel and lodging costs for medical treatments that are 100 miles away or more, a person familiar with the matter told Insider.This applies to all healthcare treatments, including abortion care. The update is not effective immediately, but it is being rolled out imminently, the person said.JPMorganThe bank told employees that it would pay for travel to states that allow legal abortions, according to a memo CNBC viewed. Morgan StanleyStarting on July 1, Morgan Stanley will incorporate coverage for travel costs tied to pregnancy care into its employee benefits offerings, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing a person familiar with the company policy.This story was published on June 24 and has been updated to reflect other companies' statements. Do you work for a financial services firm? How is your company responding to the reversal of Roe v. Wade? Contact these reporters. Rebecca Ungarino can be reached at rungarino@insider.com. Reed Alexander can be reached at ralexander@insider.com. Hayley Cuccinello can be reached out hcuccinello@insider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 28th, 2022

The GOP would overturn the filibuster to impose a national abortion ban if it wins the midterms, ex-RNC chief suggests

Michael Steele said the current Republican Party would not hesitate in overturning the filibuster if "politics and power" necessitated it. Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele.Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images Former RNC chief Michael Steele said the Republican Party would likely seek a national ban on abortion.  He said the party would likely suspend the filibuster to enact the ban if it retakes the Senate.  The SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade removed the constitutional right to an abortion.  Michael Steele, the former head of the Republican National Committee, slammed the GOP in its current form and suggested that it was prepared to push aside Senate rules and impose a national abortion ban if it retakes Congress in the November midterms.In a Monday interview with MSNBC, Steele was asked by host Katy Tur if the GOP would seek to enact further restrictions on abortion in the wake of last week's Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to an abortion. Tur asked: "Sen. Chris Murphy said that if Republicans are able to retake the House and Senate, they will pass a federal ban on abortion. Do believe that would happen.""Yes. Without hesitation. They will set the marker," Steele replied."Because it's in their base's interest to do so," he said. "That's the difference politically between the two parties. Republicans will go, 'oh, yeah, the Constitution and the filibuster, all the tradition, the sanctity of the Senate.' They don't give a rat's patootie about that when it's the bottom line in politics and power.""So absolutely, a national ban on abortion will be one of the first pieces of legislation probably next to impeaching Joe Biden," he said, without providing evidence for his claim that the GOP would seek to impeach Biden.In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, some Republican leaders signaled support for further restricting access to abortion by banning it nationally after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Under last Friday's ruling, states are left to decide whether abortion is permitted, and under what terms. Most Republican-leaning states have already enacted laws banning or significantly restricting access to abortion, or are poised to do so. If Republicans take back control of Congress in the 2022 midterms, as some analysts have predicted, they could in theory pass a ban by lifting the filibuster, a rule requiring bills to get at least 60 votes to pass — but it would likely face a White House veto. Some Democrats have called on the Democratic-controlled Congress to act and pass a law enshrining abortion rights. But such a move would likely be blocked in the Senate by Republicans using the filibuster rule, and Democrats lack the unanimous backing of their caucus required to temporarily lift the filibuster and push through a bill. Steele, who was the chairman of the RNC between 2009 and 2011, has been a frequent critic of the direction taken by the Republican Party under former President Donald Trump's leadership and influence. He has also said he opposed Roe v. Wade, and abortion access should be a question for states to decide. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 28th, 2022

Abortion Clinics Start Closing After Roe v. Wade Ruling

Abortion Clinics Start Closing After Roe v. Wade Ruling Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Abortion clinics in multiple states closed their doors on June 25 following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to pass their own laws regulating access to abortion. An exam room sits empty in the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center in St Louis, Mo., on May 28, 2019. (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images) Around half of the states are expected to press ahead with banning abortion after the high court’s landmark ruling, according to the Guttmacher Institute, while in a handful of states with so-called trigger laws, abortion has already become illegal. Abortion will either soon become—or already is—unlawful in at least 13 states, according to a tally by The Epoch Times: Idaho, North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas. Bans in Mississippi and North Dakota will come into force when their respective attorneys general sign off, while Wyoming’s prohibition will take effect within days. Tennessee will have its ban applied in 30 days, while Idaho and Texas will see bans applied 30 days after the official judgment. Abortion has become illegal in the following states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Dakota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Utah. Clinics Close Alabama’s three abortion clinics stopped performing abortions as providers face prosecution under a law dating back to 1951. Staff at the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville on Friday told women in the waiting room that they could not carry out any more abortions that day, though the women were given a list of out-of-state clinics still doing abortions. At an abortion clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas, the doors to the patient area shut as soon as the Supreme Court’s decision was formally announced. “No matter how hard we prepare for bad news, when it finally hits, it hits hard,” a nurse at the clinic told the BBC. An abortion clinic in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of three that performs the procedure in the state, was also shuttered on Friday. Legal Uncertainty Abortion clinics elsewhere—including Arizona, Texas, and West Virginia—stopped performing abortions for fear of prosecution based on laws that predate Roe v. Wade. In Texas, where trigger laws don’t go into effect for another month, providers suspended abortions while they seek legal advice on whether they are subject to an abortion ban based on laws passed in the 1920s. Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, who announced the statewide closure of his agency’s office on Friday “in honor of the nearly 70 million unborn babies killed in the womb since 1973,” warned in a letter that prosecutors could immediately choose to pursue criminal prosecutions based on earlier laws that were unenforceable while Roe v. Wade stood. Similarly, the existence of a 19th-century abortion ban in West Virginia led a clinic there to stop performing the procedure. Several providers in Arizona halted abortions on Friday as they seek to determine whether pre-statehood laws may be grounds for prosecution. Overall, repealing Roe v. Wade means that some 36 million women of reproductive age will lose access to abortion in their states, according to research from Planned Parenthood. Predictably, the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has drawn mixed reactions, with demonstrators outside the Supreme Court voicing both indignation and jubilation. Tyler Durden Mon, 06/27/2022 - 22:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 27th, 2022

Pelosi says House Democrats are looking at legislation to protect personal data in reproductive apps and other actions post-Roe v. Wade

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants Democrats to try to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law despite such efforts having previously failed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined her party's early legislative response to Roe v. Wade being overturned. Pelosi said the party will look at protecting sensitive reproductive health data and the right to travel. She also wants to try to codify Roe into law, but previous efforts to do so have failed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday outlined House Democrats' legislative response to Roe v. Wade being overturned, saying her party is looking at codifying a federal right to an abortion.Pelosi outlined three areas that House Democrats are examining just days after the Supreme Court gutted federal abortion rights, overturning nearly over a half-century of precedent. These are: protecting sensitive data on reproductive health apps, making it clear that states cannot stop people from traveling to seek an abortion, and once again trying to pass a federal law guaranteeing a right to an abortion."While this extremist Supreme Court works to punish and control the American people, Democrats must continue our fight to expand freedom in America," Pelosi wrote in a letter to her Democratic colleagues. "Doing so is foundational to our oath of office and our fidelity to the Constitution."Pelosi does not outline the specific legislation under consideration, but some lawmakers already introduced bills on the topic. Rep. Sara Jacobs, a Democrat from California, introduced the "My Body, My Data Act" on June 2, which would task the Federal Trade Commission with enforcing a national privacy standard for period-tracking apps. A companion Senate bill has 11 lawmakers lined up behind it, but crucially, there are not yet any Senate Republicans that support it.Period tracking apps themselves have taken steps to try to protect user data, Insider previously reported.The lack of Republican support is vitally critical to any legislative action passing. The Senate filibuster effectively requires almost all legislation, including abortion rights, to have 60 votes. This means that Senate Democrats need to unanimously support any measure in addition to attracting 10 GOP senators into the fold. It's not a given that Democrats will unanimously line up behind abortion rights either. Sen. Joe Manchin, a central from West Virginia, thought that the party's bill to guarantee federal abortion rights, The Women's Health Protection Act, went too far. He joined almost all Senate Republicans in opposing it in May.Last week's Supreme Court decision doesn't make abortion illegal nationwide. Rather, the court ruled that states can now step in to determine what restrictions to impose, with at least eight states now having abortion bans three days after the ruling. Some Republican state lawmakers have made clear that they are not content with just effectively banning the procedure within their own borders. In Missouri, state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, who helped author the state's "trigger ban" without exceptions for rape and incest, has also pushed legislation that would allow private individuals to sue Missouri residents if they go outside of the state to get an abortion. Coleman wants to stop what she calls "abortion tourism.""It's one of those phrases that really describes what I think we're going to be seeing and certainly what we have already started to see, which is states that are really catering to providing abortions to residents of states that have no abortion access," Coleman told NPR. "And so there's a direct targeting that's taking place into pro-life states."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 27th, 2022

Jefferies is joining other Wall Street banks in vowing to cover employees" abortion-related travel, as its top leaders pledge to donate $1 million to causes that "champion women"s rights"

Other large banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan promised to cover staffers' abortion-related travel following the reversal of Roe v. Wade last week. Protesters marched across the country over the weekend following the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of legalized abortion nationwide.David McNew/Getty Images Jefferies is set to tell employees on Monday that it will cover their abortion-related travel costs. The bank's CEO and president will also donate $1 million to causes that "champion women's rights." Corporations have vowed to pay for abortion-related travel following the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Jefferies Financial Group is set to join a host of Wall Street banks and giants throughout the ranks of corporate America in committing to pay for employees' out-of-state travel to seek an abortion, Insider has exclusively learned.The bank, which counts more than 4,700 staffers, will announce later on Monday morning in an internal memo that it will "cover any employee-partners' costs should she decide to terminate a pregnancy and be forced to do so in a state other than the one in which she lives." (See the full memo below.)The vow from the New York-based firm follows the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to reverse Roe v. Wade on Friday, handing authority over whether or not to legalize abortion back to the states and bringing an end to a nearly 50-year chapter in which abortion has been legal nationwide.What's more, CEO Richard Handler and President Brian Friedman, who will co-sign the memo, are set to add that, in their "individual capacities," they will "donate a combined $1 million in support of charitable causes that champion women's rights."The two leaders will turn to the Jefferies Women's Initiative — a network that "invests in the recruitment, retention, and advancement" of women at the firm — for suggestions about which charitable organizations to support.Richard Handler is the CEO of Jefferies Financial Group. He and the firm's president Brian Friedman are vowing to donate a combined $1 million in their "individual capacities" to causes that support women's rights.JefferiesFollowing the reversal of Roe v. Wade, other large companies like Disney, Meta (owner of Facebook), and Dick's Sporting Goods pledged to help cover employees' expenses tied to abortion-related travel. So, too, have Wall Street banks.Insider first reported on Friday that Goldman Sachs promised employees it will add travel related to abortion to its healthcare reimbursement benefits, following an earlier vow by JPMorgan Chase. "Millions of women are right now grappling with a new legal reality. I know many of you are deeply upset, and I stand with you," Goldman CEO David Solomon told staffers on Friday in an internal statement exclusively obtained by Insider.Protests swept the nation over the weekend as Americans came to terms with the implications of the landmark decision. President Joe Biden called Friday a "sad day" for the nation in an address following the Court's ruling and said it showed "how far removed" the positions of the conservative justices on the bench are from "the majority of the country.""The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk," Biden said.Here's the full memo that Jefferies' CEO and president will send to staff on Monday morning.Subject: Personal DecisionWe have thought deeply these past few days about how to respond to the recent Supreme Court decision regarding women's rights.  Jefferies will, of course, join other businesses around the U.S. that will cover any employee-partners' costs should she decide to terminate a pregnancy and be forced to do so in a state other than the one in which she lives.  In addition, in our individual capacities, the two of us will donate a combined $1 million in support of charitable causes that champion women's rights.  We will ask jWIN  (Jefferies Women's Initiative) to provide us with recommendations that we will choose from on the allocation of this $1 million. Sincerely, Rich and BrianRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 27th, 2022