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Gov. Ron DeSantis dismisses rumors of tensions with Trump after booster shot criticism: "I think this is what the media does"

"We need everybody united for a big red wave in 2022," DeSantis told the Ruthless Podcast. "We've gotta fight the left, and...beat the left." President Donald Trump speaks with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as he arrives at Southwest Florida International Airport, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla.Evan Vucci/AP Ron DeSantis dismissed rumours of tensions with Trump on the Ruthless podcast.  Trump recently took a shot at "gutless" politicians over booster shots, a possible slight at DeSantis. "I think this is what the media does," DeSantis replied. "You cannot fall for the bait."  Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed reports of tensions with former President Donald Trump in a live interview with the popular Ruthless podcast taped in St. Petersburg, Florida on Friday. One of the show's hosts told DeSantis, who's widely viewed as a likely 2024 presidential contender, that the media is "trying to drive a wedge between you and one of your constituents here in Florida, former President Trump.""Is there any sort of animosity? What's that relationship like?...I want to know what that dynamic is like," he asked the governor. "I think this is what the media does," DeSantis replied. "You cannot fall for the bait..you know what they're trying to do, so just don't take it. Just keep on keeping on. We need everybody united for a big red wave in 2022. We've gotta fight the left, and not only fight, but beat the left. And that's what we're doing in Florida."Trump, who's recently stepped up his advocacy for COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, called out "gutless" unnamed politicians for refusing to reveal their booster status in an interview with conservative network One America News this week. "Many politicians — I watched a couple of politicians be interviewed, and one of the questions was, 'Did you get the booster?' because they had the vaccine. And they're all answering it like — in other words, the answer is yes, but they don't want to say it because they're gutless," Trump told OAN's Dan Ball."You gotta say it. Whether you had it or not, say it," Trump added. Trump didn't call out DeSantis by name. But the Florida governor declined to state whether he had recieved a booster shot in a December interview with Fox News' Maria Bartiromo."So, I've done whatever I did...the normal shot, and that at the end of the day is people's individual decisions about what they want to do," DeSantis said when asked if he'd gotten a booster, emphasizing that Florida had banned private employers from requiring vaccination for employees or patrons. But Trump has publicly flip-flopped on boosters over the last few months. He dismissed booster shots in August as a "money-making operation" for pharmaceutical giants and in September said he likely wouldn't receive a third shot. The former president revealed he'd received his booster shot to boos from his fans during an event with former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly last month.The New York Times' Maggie Haberman recently reported that DeSantis is getting "increasingly under Trump's skin" and the former president "has been telling a range of aides a version of, he isn't getting the deference from DeSantis that he wants in the pre-2024 leadup." —Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 12, 2022 "Trump could always decide not to run but every indication is he will. And once again he's moving to set the terms of engagement with his potential rivals while those rivals are mostly averting their gazes and hoping he goes away," Haberman tweeted. "And so if DeSantis or Pence or whomever runs they're gonna have to make a real choice at some point about whether they want to have a cage match every day with someone who enjoys it in a way that 75 percent of the political world doesn't."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 14th, 2022

Betty White"s Cause Of Death Revealed, Agent Shuts Down Booster Shot Rumors

Betty White's Cause Of Death Revealed, Agent Shuts Down Booster Shot Rumors Authored by Isabel van Brugen via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Comedic actress Betty White died just weeks shy of her 100th birthday as a result of “natural causes,” her agent confirmed on Monday. “Betty died peacefully in her sleep at her home,” her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas said in a statement to People on Monday, shutting down rumors that White had received a COVID-19 booster shot on Dec. 28. “People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier, but that is not true,” Witjas said. “She died of natural causes. Her death should not be politicized—that is not the life she lived.” Betty White attends Betty "White Out" Tour at The Los Angeles Zoo with The Lifeline Program at Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles, Calif., on Dec. 11, 2012. (Brian To/Getty Images for The Lifeline Program) White, an award-winning actress whose career spanned more than eight decades, starred in hit television sitcoms including “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” She died on Dec. 31 at the age of 99 at her home in California. Her 100th birthday would have been on Jan. 17. Witjas’ statement follows the circulation of a fabricated quote on social media suggesting that the late actress had received a booster shot on Dec. 28. “Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today,” White was falsely quoted as saying next to a link to a report titled, “Betty White: I’m lucky to still be in good health” from a Minnesota news outlet Crow River Media, according to The Associated Press. The article does not include the bogus quote, and archived versions of the story on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine also do not mention White having taken a COVID-19 vaccine booster. She said in her interview with Crow River Media published on Dec. 28 that she was “so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good” at her age, and that she felt really healthy. “Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” Witjas said on Friday. “I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don’t think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again.” White and her late husband Ludden were married from 1963 until he passed away in 1981 from stomach cancer. The 99-year-old’s “very last word” was reportedly “Allen,” according to Page Six. White never had any of her own biological children, but the actress was stepmother to Ludden’s three children. The pair reportedly met after she appeared as a guest on the televised game show “Password,” where Ludden was the host, according to Romper. White previously told People that she felt “blessed” to take on the role as stepmother to Ludden’s children. On Jan. 17, White’s milestone birthday, the documentary “Betty White: A Celebration” will be screened nationwide. The film’s title was changed from “Betty White: 100 Years Young—A Birthday Celebration” after her death. “Our hearts mourn today with the passing of Betty White,” producers Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein said in a statement. “During the many years we worked with her, we developed a great love and admiration for Betty as a person, and as an accomplished entertainer. … We will go forward with our plans to show the film … in hopes our film will provide a way for all who loved her to celebrate her life—and experience what made her such a national treasure,” they said. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/05/2022 - 23:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 6th, 2022

"You May Not Be Interested In Politics, But Politics Is Interested In You"

"You May Not Be Interested In Politics, But Politics Is Interested In You" By Michael Every of Rabobank Sixth, Sixth, Sixth It may be far away geographically and politically to some readers, but China’s sixth plenum has passed an historic doctrine on CCP history, only its third ever, and the first for 40 years: this matters to markets. The text wasn’t released, just a communique, and Bloomberg’s take is ‘Continuity’, as China will “unite around the party with Xi at the core” to reach its 2049 goals, with “common prosperity,” “self-reliance,” and “quality” growth. But what does this mean for “regulatory shifts,” as Wall Street calls the ideological turn underway? (Which the communique trumpeted.) Reading the runes, Mao was covered far more than Deng, Jiang and Hu’s reforms, and sinologist Bill Bishop sees implied criticism of the pre-Xi status quo in that the Party has now "solved many long-term problems that have been wanted to be solved but have not been solved, and many big things that have been wanted to be done but have not been done in the past have been done," and “the situation in China’s ideological field has undergone overall and fundamental changes”. The text also stresses Xi Jinping Thought is the lodestar for development ahead: this is not a campaign-style aberration, but the opening shot in a larger struggle (to use the communique’s terminology). This is of particular relevance to property. Chinese developers and metals have rallied hard on suggestions the PBOC’s tough stance will be reversed. Yet the People’s Daily just carried a long article stating Xi’s “firm conviction” that “when the real estate industry, which is a matter of people’s livelihoods, shows signs of relaxation in regulation, it is firmly established that the house is used for living, not for speculation,” adding “the hardest iron must be the one who strikes the iron.” Indeed, Shenyang municipal government --perhaps a bellwether?-- has denied reports it is easing housing restrictions, asking citizens “not to believe or spread rumours.” Today, “industry insiders” tell the press any national mortgage-lending relaxation is only for “stable and orderly, reasonable” demand, around 15% of recent buyers by some estimates, while speculation, the other 85%, is still being firmly curbed by local governments. Of course, China was never going to let the property nexus collapse in an Austrian sense. Neither is it going to allow BAU in a Greenspan-Bernanke-Yellen-Powell sense. There is no ideological inconsistency with helping developers refinance CNY loans at lower rates to ensure jobs aren’t lost and projects are completed; to assume this means a U-turn back to asset speculation seems a great leap forward. Shuli Ren also wades in, arguing “All companies risk failure, and China’s property sector badly overreached. But that isn’t a reason for Beijing to pressure companies out of existence, leaving investors holding the bag.” It might be if one wants to filter productive, unproductive, and fictitious capital; views capitalism as inherently destabilising; views capitalists as always likely to turn up regardless of policy actions - which Wall Street seems to be doing so far; and wants the sector to have a more social role ahead, e.g., public housing. All of which is Marxist precept (and accurate to boot). Note the sixth plenum stressed: “We must use Marxist positions, viewpoints, and methods to observe, understand, and steer the trends of the times, and constantly deepen our understanding of the laws underlying governance by a communist party, the building of socialism, and the development of human society.” Elsewhere, the vaunted COP26 deal struck with the US yesterday already looks like most of the other promises: empty - which David Fickling is reduced to championing as ‘progress’ if made jointly: “Let them eat rhetoric,” and/or strength in imaginary numbers? In short, China is sticking to “clean coal” as it focuses on energy security, and Bloomberg notes: “The latest position shows that China hasn’t really budged despite a surprise agreement with the US on Wednesday.” I presume an overlap between those who got excited about the climate deal and the property-market rumor. Expect the same crowd to jump at China allowing foreign non-financial issuers to sell ESG bonds onshore in the interbank market to finance such projects there. Meanwhile, CNBC is suggesting Xi, now at the pinnacle of his power, will invite Biden, slumping in opinion polls, to the Beijing Winter Olympics when the two meet virtually next week. If Biden accepts, he looks weak given earlier rumors the US was contemplating a (partial) boycott. If Biden rejects, it may be an insult when the US is bending over backwards to build up ‘guard rails‘ of détente with China in parallel to Indo-Pacific military alliances against it. In that regard, Secretary of State Blinken has stated the US and allies would “take action” if Taiwan were attacked, which would be a “very, very, very unfortunate” scenario; and Reuters reports China is looking to build an airfield on Kiribati. It notes, “The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said in a paper last year that Chinese facilities on Kiribati would be positioned across major sea lanes between North America, and Australia and New Zealand. Beijing has labelled the think tank as “anti-China”.” Europe, with the exception of France, need not feel left out, however, as “The US is raising the alarm with EU allies that Russia may be weighing a potential invasion of Ukraine as tensions flare between Moscow and the bloc over migrants and energy supplies.” We covered that risk earlier in the year, and concluded it would have a potentially enormous impact on food and energy prices: arguably far more so now. If this is a real threat, it’s a huge story. If it isn’t, what are the US doing spreading this news? Belarus is also threatening to turn off gas flows to the EU anyway. Iran-backed militants have also stormed the US compound in Yemen and seized local hostages. That, as Tehran makes clear it will only re-join the nuclear deal, and agree to go green, if the US removes all sanctions on it and promises it will never renege – which is constitutionally impossible in the States, and leaves no good options on the table. In short, there is politics all over for markets at the moment. Indeed, in keeping with the spirit, let me adapt a Trotsky quote I have leaned on before: “You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you." [Of course, Trotsky's quote was about war] This applies even in mundane matters like YouTube removing the ‘dislike’ option, so that now we can either be presumed to like a video, or actively like it, but open disapproval is not allowed. Who says we can’t find a new global consensus? Happy Friday. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/12/2021 - 09:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 12th, 2021

I"m pregnant and got the COVID booster shot despite facing criticism from fellow moms - here"s how I made my decision

"I got a barrage of messages from moms saying they couldn't believe I was getting the shot while pregnant," says Brittany Bates of Kansas. Brittany Bates is a pregnant mom of two who received the Pfizer booster shot. Brittany Bates Brittany Bates, 30, is a stay-at-home mom in Kansas who got both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, plus a booster, while pregnant. She got her third shot last week and is due to give birth this week. This is why she got the shot and what her side effects were, as told to freelance writer Sarah Prager. This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Brittany Bates, a stay-at-home mom from Kansas, about getting the Pfizer vaccine and booster shot. It has been edited for length and clarity.I'm due to deliver my baby this week, and while I'm grateful I was able to get all three Pfizer vaccine shots during this pregnancy, I didn't always feel that way.When the pandemic hit, my family of four took it seriously. I take immunosuppressants for Crohn's disease so I'm at high risk for severe illness or worse if I were to catch COVID. I was already mostly staying home with our kids, who are now 6 and 4 years old, but I quit my job working weekends as a server in March 2020 to be safer. When the vaccine became available in early 2021, I was a bit hesitant about getting it in early pregnancyI was in my first trimester and while I knew I would want to be vaccinated eventually, I was nervous about how new it was and what the effects might be on my baby, especially in early development. Read more: The CDC is urging pregnant women to get vaccinated, saying it has 'never been more urgent'There was a lot of disinformation floating around and it was hard to dig through it all. I had every member of my care team at KU Medical Center dumb it down for me and had conversation after conversation about my questions. The more I talked with them, the more I was able to understand clearly without the noise of what was confusing me online. My decision became clear and at nine weeks pregnant on March 27, 2021 I got my first shot at the same KU Medical Center where I was receiving all of my other prenatal care, which made me feel more comfortable. I got my second shot at the same location towards the end of my first trimester and with both shots my only side effect was a sore armMy confidence in the vaccine only increased over the months as my own education grew. I'm lucky that all of my close family members got vaccinated right away as well and even my extended family got vaccinated even if they had some initial hesitation. But in mom circles in my Kansas town, feelings weren't so united. I've drifted from many of them because we're keeping a safe distance with COVID, but I found out when I got my third shot just how susceptible to conspiracy theories they are. Read more: Epidemiologists debunk the 14 biggest coronavirus mythsGetting the Pfizer booster when I became eligible was an easy decision because now I know so much more about the vaccine than I did seven months ago. When I posted on my social media about getting it on October 11, I got a barrage of messages from moms saying they couldn't believe I was getting the shot while pregnant. Thankfully, I know with confidence I'm doing what's right for me and my family.As I head into delivering my first baby girl, I know I did the right thing by her to make an educated decision based on talking to doctors, not heeding online comments.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 25th, 2021

The 31 spookiest thriller books to read this Halloween

Whether you love a good fictional crime story, mystery novel, or deep psychological thriller, these are the best thriller books. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Whether you love a good fictional crime story, mystery novel, or deep psychological thriller, these are the best thriller books. Amazon; Alyssa Powell/Insider Thriller books are naturally enticing, fast-paced fiction reads with notorious plot twists. The best thrillers offer plenty of suspense and mystery throughout the novel. This list has a wide variety of popular books, including crime and psychological thrillers. Thrillers have taken the book industry by storm over the last several years for one clear reason: They make reading really fun. In a world where so many things compete for our attention, thrillers stand out as gripping stories full of shocking twists and turns. They build up fast and tightly hold our interest as we navigate shadowy hallways and unsolved murders, eliciting an adrenaline rush just from turning the page - making them especially perfect reads for the spooky Halloween season.I've read the vast majority of the books on this list and added the rest based on the rave reviews from fellow thriller nerds. Whether it's a deeply psychological thriller narrative, a fast-paced YA mystery novel, or a crime thriller too scary to read at night, there's a book on this list for every thriller lover.The 31 best thriller books:Best psychological thrillersBest crime thrillersBest mystery and suspense thrillersBest YA thrillersBest horror thrillers Psychological thrillers A psychological thriller with an electrifying twist Amazon "Before She Knew Him" by Peter Swanson, available at Amazon and BookshopSpeaking of throwing books against a wall, this was the first book I ever chucked when the plot twist was revealed — one that I didn't even know was a possibility until I reached the climax. Henrietta has finally found some stability between her bipolar medication and her new home with her husband. When they go to the neighbor's house for dinner, Henrietta notices a unique trophy that definitely belonged to someone who was killed two years ago. Torn between the comfort of her new life and her weakness to find the answer to this unsolved case, Henrietta quickly unravels far more than she bargained for.  Thrill factor: A plot twist that will have you rethinking the entire book. A thriller with multiple truths Amazon "The Silent Patient" by Alex Michaelides, available at Amazon and BookshopThere are four stories here: The one the jury decided, his, hers, and — completely separate — the truth. I love books with "solved" murders that push us to read on to uncover the real truth. One night, Alicia's husband returns home late from his job. She shoots him five times in the face and never speaks again. Confined to a psychiatric ward, Theo — a criminal psychotherapist — is determined to get Alicia to talk and uncover why she murdered her husband. Digging into Alicia's past reveals that there are many things that can drive us to do the unthinkable.Thrill factor: Being sure of the truth just before new information is revealed. A thriller around a kidnapping Amazon "Then She Was Gone" by Lisa Jewell, available at Amazon and BookshopThis one was particularly enticing and dark, the secrets running far deeper and with more complexity than I expected. It's been 10 years since Laurel's then-15-year-old daughter, Ellie, disappeared — and Laurel has never given up hope of finding her. Laurel is swept up in a romance with her new boyfriend and finds herself meeting his nine-year-old daughter, who looks exactly like Ellie did at that age. This is a tightly wound ball of thriller chaos that is so much fun to unravel as you read. Thrill factor: A plot that catches you completely off guard. A deeply psychological thriller Amazon "Behind Her Eyes" by Sarah Pinborough, available at Amazon and BookshopOn Monday morning, Louise discovers her (very married) boss is the same man with whom she shared an amazing kiss at a bar just days ago. Though assuring her it will never happen again, David can't keep his eyes off Louise. What ensues is a complex yet comprehensible web of manipulation and a twist that had me nearly yelling "WHAT?!" by the end.Thrill factor: A baffling realization hiding in the final pages. A chilling thriller all about the little details Amazon "The Push" by Ashely Audrian, available at Amazon and BookshopBlythe is fully committed to being the warm, nurturing mother she never had, but she's convinced that something is wrong with her new baby — she doesn't behave as other children do. As her husband dismisses her fears, she begins to question her sanity. When her second child is born, the familial connections are undeniable...until a devastating event has Blythe (and the reader) questioning everything. Best described as a tour de force, this is an extremely fast-paced thriller that's easy to devour in a day. Thrill factor: A whiplash-y plot that launches you straight into the story. An unsettling marital thriller Amazon "Behind Closed Doors" by B. A. Paris, available at Amazon and BookshopJack and Grace are the epitome of true love, radiating elegance, wealth, and charm, all while never being apart...ever. It's hard to get to know the mysterious Grace because she can't meet for coffee, she never answers her phone, and one of the bedroom windows seems to have bars on it. This is one that masterfully incites panic into a reader, worrying about the characters and desperately needing to know what happens. Thrill factor: The graphic descriptions in the already chilling scenes. A psychological book with family intrigue Amazon "The Next Wife" by Kaira Rouda, available at Amazon and BookshopThis is a guilty pleasure of a thriller: fast, dramatic, and satisfying. Kate had a picture-perfect life with her husband and daughter — until her husband left for a woman half his age. Tish is gorgeous, luxurious, and only a little suspicious of her new husband's previous infidelity. She plans a romantic getaway to fend Kate off, but love and revenge are powerful weapons that tear plans apart. Thrill factor: The dark humor that ramps up the intensity. A psychological thriller that will leave you speechless Amazon "Sometimes I Lie" by Alice Feeney, available at Amazon and BookshopWith an unreliable narrator and more lies than you can count, this thriller is perfectly constructed and the plot is a baffling rollercoaster. When Amber wakes up from a coma, she can't remember what happened, but she suspects her husband has something to do with it. This book alternates between the present, the week before her accident, and Amber's childhood diaries to help us piece together a brilliant psychological twist. Thrill factor: The subtle inflections the narrator assigns to each character. Crime thrillers A dark yet elegant crime thriller Amazon "Behind the Red Door" by Megan Collins, available at Amazon and BookshopMegan Collins became well-known for her debut thriller "The Winter Sister," but I'm here to proclaim that "Behind the Red Door" is the one that should really be in the spotlight. I have never read a thriller that featured characters with such complexity or one where I said "oh NO" out loud so many times. When Fern hears the news that a woman named Astrid has gone missing, she's sure she knows her. Fern's husband is sure that it must be from Astrid's infamous kidnapping 20 years prior, which happened just outside Fern's childhood town but of which she has no memory. When Astrid starts appearing in Fern's nightmares, Fern grapples to understand if it's a dream or a memory with the help of her psychologist father.Thrill factor: The main character's unreliable memory. A chilling stalker thriller Amazon "You" by Caroline Kepnes, available at Amazon and BookshopIf you have yet to be pulled into the Netflix adaptation, resist and pick up the book first! This is the creepiest yet most believable stalker thriller, packed with so many insane developments that you think it can't get any wilder…until it does. Told from Joe's perspective, the book depicts his rapidly growing obsession over a woman he meets in a bookstore, one that morphs and twists as Joe stops at nothing to make himself the center of her world. Joe is the most messed up fictional character I've ever encountered, making this book a fabulously creepy thriller to grab. Thrill factor: The chilling main character. A terrifying serial killer story Amazon "The Whisper Man" by Alex North, available at Amazon and BookshopThis thriller gripped me so much that I read the second half all in one shot and finished at 3:30 a.m. It's about a serial killer and abductor who whispers to children to lure them away from safety. The Whisper Man has been locked away for 20 years, but the patterns of his crimes are emerging once again. The book also threw in a couple of mini-twists at the end that made reading until the very last page exciting. Thrill factor: Wanting so badly to protect the characters. An alluring marital thriller Amazon "My Lovely Wife" by Samantha Downing, available at Amazon and BookshopIn this creepy thriller where we never learn the narrator's name, a married couple does everything married couples are "supposed" to do: Settle down, buy a house, have a kid, and grow horribly bored with their lives. With the thrills building up in nearly every scene, the secret ingredient that keeps their marriage alive is getting away with murder.Thrill factor: The layers upon layers of secrets behind every character. A thriller for the true-crime lovers Amazon "The Night Swim" by Megan Goldin, available at Amazon and BookshopRachel's true-crime podcast gained notoriety after it helped set an innocent man free. When a note begging for help is left on Rachel's windshield, it launches an investigation into the past and present, exploring a town disrupted by a rape trial and a drowning accident from 25 years ago. This is an especially perfect thriller for true crime lovers — it swirls you quickly into the center of this plot and keeps you strapped in for the ride. Thrill factor: The two separate (yet intertwined) mysteries  A multi-POV thriller Amazon "Every Last Fear" by Alex Finlay, available at Amazon and BookshopThis heartbreaking story about familial tragedy is as deep as it is twisty. Matt returns home after a night of partying to be informed that nearly his entire family was killed by a gas leak in their hotel in Mexico. Though it seems like an accident, one FBI agent believes otherwise, but won't disclose why. The deaths make national headlines because this isn't the first time Matt's family has been thrust into the spotlight: his brother is currently in prison for the murder of his high school girlfriend — a murder the public believes he didn't commit. When Matt returns home to bury his family, the connections between his brother's case and his family's accident begin to emerge. Thrill factor: That "look over your shoulder" feeling. A domestic legal thriller Amazon "A Good Marriage" by Kimberly McCreight, available at Amazon and BookshopThis domestic thriller is just as emotional and insightful as it is surprising and exhilarating. Lizzie spends long hours working at her law firm after her marriage slowly crumbled apart. When she gets a call from Zach, her old friend who's currently being held on suspicion of killing his wife, Lizzie knows she has to drop everything and help him. As she begins to piece together what happened to Zach's wife, she finds that maybe their idyllic marriage wasn't so great after all. Thrill Factor: The marital drama and endless secrets. Mystery and suspense thrillers A staple in the genre Amazon "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn, available at Amazon and BookshopAn indisputable thriller staple, this is a great one to pick up if you're just getting into the genre because it will introduce you to some of the nuances of thrillers on which many others are based. In this book, Amy goes missing on her and Nick's fifth wedding anniversary. Dealing with the town breathing down his neck and haunting diary entries from his wife, Nick begins to spin a web of lies around his wife's disappearance. Thrill factor: Carefully sculpted plot twists. A full-throttle, high suspenseful mystery thriller Amazon "No Exit" by Taylor Adams, available at Amazon and BookshopI ignored my family during the holidays because of this book, and I'm not sorry about it! While driving home through Colorado, Darby is caught in a blizzard and forced to wait the storm out at a highway rest stop, stranded with four strangers. When she goes to her car to try and get a signal, she notices a child locked in a cage in the back of a van. Far from police help, Darby must figure out which person is the kidnapper and get the child and herself to safety. This was the tensest I have ever felt reading a book.Thrill factor: The high-speed action scenes. A thriller of multiple marriages (and multiple truths) Amazon "Too Good To Be True" by Carola Lovering, available at Amazon and BookshopWith three points of view (and none of them entirely reliable), "Too Good To Be True" is a thriller about two marriages and the secrets that can uproot well-laid plans. Skye is overjoyed to be engaged to Burke, her seemingly perfect boyfriend who, in a series of letters to his therapist, reveals that he's married and deviously manipulating Skye. The third perspective is of Heather, Burke's ex from 30 years ago. It's a twist-filled read that will leave you wondering how well you know those closest to you. Thrill factor: The feeling of an emotional car crash waiting to happen. A book with a jaw-dropping reveal Amazon "The Wife Between Us" by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen, available at Amazon and BookshopThis is a thriller that thrives on your assumptions. It lets you assume that you're reading the story of a jealous woman, obsessed with her ex-husband's new wife, just to turn everything on its head halfway through this impeccably constructed book. Even when you know something is coming, the twists in this tangled love triangle are utterly shocking. Thrill factor: Questioning our own assumptions. A thriller almost too wild to believe Amazon "When No One Is Watching" by Alyssa Cole, available at Amazon and BookshopSydney is tired of the gentrification of her Brooklyn neighborhood, the homes changing and her neighbors moving faster than she can keep up. She decides to start a deep-dive into the neighborhood's history with her neighbor Theo, but what they uncover instills paranoia and fear as what they once thought were conspiracies are slowly revealed to hold hidden truths. This one is a wild ride with a pile of twists that happen all at once. Thrill factor: The conspiracy theories that might actually be true. A binge-worthy book Amazon "Verity" by Colleen Hoover, available at Amazon and BookshopWhen you open this book, make sure you have no plans for the rest of the day — the first 20 pages or so ease you into the story and the rest of the book is a dead sprint to the end. Little-known writer Lowen has been hired to finish Verity's well-loved book series after a car accident left her in a waking coma. While looking for outlines or notes in Verity's office, Lowen discovers a horrifying autobiographical manuscript that depicts Verity's darkest secrets, kept from her husband and children. This thriller is one gripping scene of action after another, barrelling towards an ending that will have you shoving this book into your friends' hands so they can experience the wild ride for themselves. Thrill factor: The inability to choose which lie to believe. The story of a murderous fashionista Amazon "#FashionVictim" by Amina Akhtar, available at Amazon and BookshopThis book is unassumingly murderous, exciting, and fun. Anya is a fashion editor with an envious wardrobe, a flawless social media presence, a soaring career, and a stack of bodies of those who almost got in her way. When Anya's desire to be friends with Sarah, her coworker, turns into an obsession, the intrigue may turn fatal. There is an unreasonably large amount of murder in this story, which is exactly what kept me interested. Thrill factor: Anya's conniving ability to get away with murder. A suspenseful mystery of a missing woman Amazon "I Am Watching You" by Teresa Driscoll, available at Amazon and BookshopElla nearly intervenes when she sees two recently released convicts flirting with two young women, Anna and Sarah. After Ella decides to mind her business, Anna goes missing — and Ella is still riddled with guilt one year later. But now someone is sending Ella threatening letters, and the gaps in Sarah's account of that night grow wider as Ella realizes someone knows where Anna might be. This is one where the intense plot twist threw so many readers for a loop and settled with a satisfying resolution.Thrill factor: The psychological distress of the protagonist. YA thrillers A heartbreaking YA thriller novel Amazon "See All The Stars" by Kit Frick, available at Amazon and BookshopI was not in the least surprised to learn that Kit Frick is also a poet. This book is teenage heartbreak mixed in a swirl of emotional prose and confounding thrills. Told between then and now, Ellory returns to her senior year of high school riddled with guilt, anxiety, and loss. As you read, you'll sort through the lies to find the truth to Ellory's pain. The whole book leads up to discovering the event that tore apart the main character's world, so you always have the feeling that something is coming… but you never know what might be around the corner. Thrill factor: A potentially unreliable narrator. A compulsively readable YA thriller Amazon "Lies You Never Told Me" by Jennifer Donaldson, available at Amazon and BookshopThis is another book that I finished in one sitting, the two seemingly unrelated storylines leading to a climax so shocking, I'm not sure I even blinked until I finished the book. It follows Gabe and Elyse, complete strangers with similar secrets. They each fall for the wrong person and make one bad choice that spins their lives out of control. When you have no clue what you're looking for, a thriller's twist can hit you like a brick wall (in a good way!) and that's exactly what this book did to me. Thrill factor: Two different tales with unsettling similarities. A twisted teenage tale Amazon "The Cheerleaders" by Kara Thomas, available at Amazon and BookshopFans of "Riverdale" and high school thriller will undoubtedly devour this YA novel. The cheer squad at Sunnybrook High was disbanded after the death of five cheerleaders, all unrelated but close together. Five years after the deaths, the community is finally ready to move forward — except for Monica, who just discovered letters and an old cell phone in her stepdad's desk. I accidentally read most of it in one sitting just because the story flows so smoothly.Thrill factor: The flashback snippets providing little clues. An investigative YA thriller Amazon "A Good Girl's Guide To Murder" by Holly Jackson, available at Amazon and BookshopIn this YA thriller favorite, the case is already closed. Sal Singh murdered Andie Bell five years ago. Everyone knows he did it — except Pippa, who chooses to investigate the murder for her senior year project. As she begins to uncover long-buried secrets, there might be some who need the truth to stay buried lurking in the shadows. If you love true crime, murder mysteries, and unstoppable young women, this is the perfect easy-read thriller to grab. Thrill factor: The feeling of investigating alongside the protagonist. A thriller version of "The Breakfast Club" Amazon "One of Us is Lying" by Karen M. McManus, available at Amazon and BookshopThis YA thriller uses spectacular character development and dramatic, unreliable rumors to create a whodunnit thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. On Monday's detention, five students walk in and one never walks out. Simon, now dead, planned to post high-profile secrets about the others the next day, making the other four students murder suspects in the ensuing investigation. There's a lot of depth to this book besides the thrill ride, which makes it even more satisfying to read.   Thrill factor: The equal probability of every suspect's guilt. Horror thrillers A paranormal thriller novel Amazon "Home Before Dark" by Riley Sager, available at Amazon and BookshopRiley Sager has published four great thrillers so far but this one's my favorite. In this spooky and paranormal haunted house thriller, Maggie returns to restore the recently inherited home that made her family famous. Her father wrote a non-fiction bestseller based on their family's three-week stay in the home before they were forced to flee in the night. Not only was Maggie too young to remember what happened; she doesn't believe any of it is true. I genuinely had a great time reading this thriller — it was so much fun to feel the fear and expose the truths of this house alongside Maggie.Thrill factor: Skepticism and doubt mixed with a foggy memory. A haunted "smart" house Amazon "The Turn of the Key" by Ruth Ware, available at Amazon and BookshopRuth Ware is another notorious thriller writer and this is my favorite of her books so far — and was actually too scared to read it alone at night. It takes place in a technologically advanced home in the Scottish Highlands, where Rowan is hired as a live-in nanny and earns an outrageous salary. Told in the form of a letter from Rowan to her lawyer, she recounts the events from her arrival at the home to the death of one of the children. This story is so immersive and scary that I had to remind myself more than once that it's just a book.Thrill factor: Technology's role in generating unease. The tale of a spooky motel Amazon "The Sun Down Motel" by Simone St. James, available at Amazon and BookshopThis book is filled with so many vivid and borderline violent scenes that build tension throughout the story. Viv works at a 1982 roadside motel to pay for her move to New York City. As the secrets of the motel and its guests begin to reveal themselves, the nights seem to grow darker and darker. Once I finished this book, I felt like I could exhale for the first time in days — I was so satisfied with the resolution. Thrill factor: Realizing that the deeper the shadows, the more secrets that can hide within. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 21st, 2021

Donald Trump denies there is a Republican feud between him and Gov. Ron DeSantis, calling it "fake news"

Reports suggest that Donald Trump is privately unhappy with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' high profile and refusal to rule out a 2024 presidential bid. President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in Sunrise, Fla., on November 26, 2019.Joe Raedle/Getty Images Former President Donald Trump rejected claims that he is feuding with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump said that he has a "very good relationship with Ron" and intends to have it for "a long time." Reports suggest that Trump is privately unhappy with DeSantis' refusal to rule out a 2024 presidential bid. Former President Donald Trump rejected claims that he is feuding with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, despite reports of a growing rivalry between the two Republicans."Ron has been very good. He's been a friend of mine for a long time. It's totally fake news," the former president told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday."I have a very good relationship with Ron and intend to have it for a long time," Trump said.DeSantis was once a loyal supporter of former President Trump, but reports suggest that their relationship has soured as DeSantis refuses to rule out launching a presidential bid in 2024 even if Trump runs.The former president has often hinted that he plans to run and believes he would defeat DeSantis in a potential matchup and that the governor could be a good pick for vice-president.The two have also appeared to spar over COVID-19 policies in recent weeks, with Trump blasting "gutless" politicians who wouldn't say if they'd received booster vaccines.DeSantis has refused to disclose whether he has had one, and on Friday, appeared to respond by criticizing the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic.Speaking to Hannity on Thursday, the former president said the rumors of a rift were invented by the media and praised DeSantis for supporting him through special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election."I get along great with Ron. Ron was very good on the Mueller hoax. He was right up front, along with Jim Jordan and all of the rest of them. They were fantastic," Trump said."The Republicans really stuck together, and it was a great thing, and Ron was one of them, and Ron wanted to run [for governor], and I endorsed him, and that helped him greatly, and he went on, and he's done a really terrific job in Florida."Despite Trump's positive words about DeSantis, Axios reported last week that the former president is irked by the governor's popularity and refusal to rule out running in 2024.A source told the outlet that Trump has been privately bashing the Florida governor, saying he "has no personal charisma and has a dull personality."Trump has often suggested that DeSantis' success in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election was due to his endorsement.According to Axios, the former president is increasingly frustrated with what he perceives as the governor's "ungratefulness and willingness to defy him."DeSantis has, in turn, reportedly told friends that he does not appreciate the former president's expectation for him to "bend the knee," The New York Times said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 22nd, 2022

Social Justice Slams Into Europe, Part 2: In Scotland, They"ll Take the Woke Road

Social Justice Slams Into Europe, Part 2: In Scotland, They'll Take the Woke Road Authored by Richard Bernstein, submitted by RealClearInvestigations, Read Part 1 here... The online class on gender, feminism, and the law was underway when Lisa Keogh, a 29-year-old student and mother of two, introduced a note of unwoke contention into the discussion. “We were talking about equal rights for women, and I said I don't believe a trans woman is really a woman,” said Keogh, then attending Abertay University Law School here. “I said that my definition of a woman is someone with a vagina.” Keogh, disagreeing with another point of view expressed in the same meeting, also voiced the apparently retrograde opinion that not all men are rapists. Lisa Keogh, law student who endured investigation: “I said that my definition of a woman is someone with a vagina.” In response, some students accused Keogh of “making offensive comments and behaving in a disrespectful manner during class discussion.” Abertay undertook a formal investigation, claiming, as a university spokesman told the media, that the school was “legally obliged to investigate all complaints.”  After two months and two sessions before the investigating committee, Keogh was exonerated. Still, her supporters say her ordeal took its toll — and sent a chilling message to other students about the risk of expressing opinions that contradict the tenets of the campus radical left. “The process is the punishment,” Stuart Waiton, a sociology and criminology lecturer at Abertay, told me over lunch in Dundee. Keogh has filed suit against the university for the stress, anxiety, and the loss of sleep while also claiming the process has hurt her chances of getting a job. “I'm quite a controversial figure,” Keogh said. “Somebody in a law firm told me, 'We can't even be seen publicly agreeing with what you said.’ A friend told me, 'There's no point in you even looking for work in Dundee.'” Instead, Keogh said, she's considering going elsewhere in Scotland where, she hopes, her notoriety won't follow her. Scotland illustrates how American-style “wokeness,” complete with its identity-politics, victim-culture assumptions and lexicon, has seeped across the Atlantic to Europe. While the U.S. media has given broad coverage to the rise of far-right anti-immigrant parties in countries like France, Germany, Hungary and Poland, it has paid less attention to the emergence of a mirror-image phenomenon on the left, which demands an orthodoxy of opinion and punishes dissenting ideas, like those expressed by Keogh.  But wokeness is a hot topic in Europe. As in Scotland, its flare-ups and the arguments about it take place mostly in elite circles, the universities, and the press. It usually surfaces in incidents, sometimes so small and geographically scattered as to seem isolated and unimportant. Nevertheless, they have a cumulative effect. They show the contagious, globalized power of a rising leftist ideology whose adherents are convinced of their own assumptions – chiefly the supposedly pervasive evils of white-dominated societies, the vulnerability of minority groups disadvantaged by the structures of oppressive power, and on the need to protect those groups from insult and slight, even unintended. And taxpayers are underwriting it. Earlier this year, the European Commission, the main administrative body of the 27-member European Union, created a Gender Equality Strategy aimed at “eliminating the inequalities between the sexes and the socio-economic intersectionality of inequality throughout research and innovation.” The effort is to be funded by a program called Horizon Europe with a budget of more than $100 billion for 2021-2027. “Sexual equality and openness to the question of inclusion are our priorities,” a Horizon mission statement says.  To further that mission, Horizon Europe requires that any governmental or private entity applying for a grant present as part of the application a “Gender Equality Plan” that, among other things, shows the hiring of “equality officers” to help “tackle unconscious gender bias among staff, leaders and decision makers.” “Don't think that woke ideology is a delirium limited to certain American universities,” the right-of-center French magazine Causeur wrote of these requirements, noting the deployment of a vocabulary that seems to come straight from the gender and sexuality studies departments of U.S. academe. In Europe, the magazine continued, these assumptions are based on an “imaginary sexism, ideological submission, and coercion in the academic world.” Each country seems to have its woke eruptions, and in many places they have prompted spirited counterreactions. In Germany over the course of this year, some 600 people, mostly university professors, have become members of a Scientific Freedom Network, the stated purpose of which is “to help victims of cancel culture” — that phrase “cancel culture” having entered the German vocabulary in its original English form. “More and more academics feel they are restricted in the research questions they can address without feeling any fear of being professionally sidelined,” Sandra Kostner, a specialist on migration at the Schwãbisch Gmünd University of Education who founded the group earlier this year, told me in a Zoom conversation. “I wrote an article two years ago expressing the idea that something is going wrong at German universities,” she continued. “Within a day or so I got about 800 emails agreeing with me, but in many cases, the last sentence was 'This is just between the two of us.' There were university presidents and vice presidents saying, 'Please don't tell anybody what I've told you.'” Some of the incidents cited by members of the new group seem almost trivial when taken individually, but reflect a widespread and growing trend. For instance, a report on the Freedom Network describes an incident in Cologne when a professor asked a dark-skinned student and German citizen where she was from. The student took the question as an insult, stemming from “institutional racism,” and complained about it both to the local government and on social media, where she got 50,000 responses. Commenting on the incident, Kostner pointed out that up until a decade or so ago, teachers were encouraged “to ask the questions about one's origins because it was a sign of politeness, signaling interest.” But now, under the pressure of the new victim-culture ideology, such questions are seen “as a denial of belonging, even as a sign of racism.” Behind this shift, the report on the incident noted, is the view of the West as first and foremost having “a history of colonialism, racism, misogyny, and white domination,” all of which has, until the new awakening came along, been “obscured by Eurocentrism and patriarchal rule.” A 2021 survey of a thousand academics carried out by the Allensbach Institute, a leading German social research organization, found that 40% of respondents feel restricted by formal or informal political correctness rules, mostly due to gender guidelines. This compares to 32% two years ago. More than half of respondents in the arts and social sciences said they feel restricted in the topics they can research, compared to 35% two years ago. “Only representatives of certain groups are allowed to talk about certain topics,” the German journalist Thomas Thiel wrote in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “and the value of a statement is based on the origin of a speaker, not on the plausibility of the argument.” As the complaint about Lisa Keogh and the subsequent investigation shows, no corner of Europe is immune from these kinds of incidents, seemingly isolated and yet illustrating the spread and influence of a rising victim-culture ideology.  Earlier this year in Edinburgh, the government-funded James Gillespie High School made national headlines when it dropped the American classics “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Of Mice and Men” from its reading lists, saying that “Mockingbird” was flawed because of its “white savior” theme (a white lawyer defends a falsely accused black man) and that John Steinbeck’s novel was flawed because none of the main characters were people of color. British newspapers quoted Allan Crosbie, the English Department head at James Gillespie, telling a school meeting, “Those novels are dated and problematical in terms of decolonizing the curriculum.” Replacing the books removed from reading lists, Crosbie said, would be “The Hate U Give” by the American writer Angie Thomas, which tells the story of an unarmed black teenager shot dead by a white policeman. (An email sent to James Gillespie High School asking for an interview went unanswered.)  St. Stephen’s University, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the United Kingdom, now requires matriculating students to pass a test in “sustainability, diversity, consent, and good academic practice.” The test asks, for example, whether a student agrees or disagrees with the statement, “Acknowledging your personal guilt is a useful starting point in overcoming unconscious bias.” The embrace of such ideas might seem strange in a nation like Scotland with its homogeneous population — 96% white; only 4% African, Caribbean, Asian, or mixed — and its Scottish Enlightenment heritage. The stomping ground of classical “Great Books” figures like David Hume and Adam Smith wouldn't seem to present fertile ground for critical race theory or Black Lives Matter. In contrast with the U.S. – or European countries with long colonial pasts such as France, Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom — Scotland has no history of domestic slavery and very little of the kind of racial tensions or racial obsessions that are central to American history. Yet Scottish “wokeness” exemplifies the broad appeal of a globalized demand that the West in general engage in an apologetic self-examination, one predicated on the idea of some previously unacknowledged fault lying at the heart of Western civilization, and only at the heart of Western civilization. “Nothing is more Western,” the French essayist and novelist Pascal Bruckner has written on this phenomenon, “than hatred of the West.” The spread of “woke” ideas in this sense also demonstrates a negative power of the American example and its globalization. America, in this view, being the most powerful Western country, is therefore the one with the gravest intrinsic fault. “When Black Lives Matter happened in America, it was almost as if the incident that incited it happened here, Stuart Waiton, the Abertay lecturer, told me. “It wasn't a British policeman who killed a black man. The killing didn't happen here. And yet, everyone became a participant in BLM. People formed racial awareness groups. There were massive demonstrations. If it's happening in America, it will probably happen in Scotland as well.” Pyramid themes: types of racism according to a government body advising Scotland's public schools Consider Education Scotland, a governmental entity that provides advice to the country's centralized public school system and has in recent times created and promoted a program aimed at “decolonizing the curriculum” through “anti-racist education.” A booklet titled “Promoting and Developing Race Equality and Anti-Racism Education” describes “race” as “a concept that tried to justify exploitation, domination, and violence against people who were deemed non-white” and “made it easier for Britain to downplay the brutality of slavery and colonization.” But if there's mention of British colonialism as a kind of original sin, the program is certainly heavily influenced by similar “diversity and inclusion” programs formulated in the United States.  Another booklet posted on the Education Scotland website, titled “Anti-Racist Praxis,” is written by Titilayo Farukuoye, who, according to the booklet's introduction, “aspires to dismantle oppressive structures and to transcend race and gender constructs.” It lays out a full anti-racist program, with, for example, instructions to teachers on how to handle “white fragility.” “Teachers will,” the booklet says: Define white fragility Identify white fragility Practice overcoming white fragility Practice how to centre the person who has experienced harm. But perhaps the greatest acrimony arising out of a “woke” ideology, illustrated by the case of Lisa Keogh, has another powerful American echo. It has to do with trans rights, and the battle over gender definition, much of it spurred by leglislation being considered by the Scottish parliament that would reform the UK's Gender Recognition Act of 2004, which enabled people throughout Great Britain to legally change their gender.  The reform would make the process much easier, essentially by what's called “self-identification,” enabling people to change their gender without the need for a medical diagnosis. Worried that men could simply declare themselves to be women and thereby gain access to such women's spaces as girls’ sports teams, bathrooms, and shelters, some people, including some leading Scottish feminists, either outright opposed the change or at least urged a discussion of it. The reaction from the transgender lobby has been swift and harsh. An example is an ongoing incident that started three years ago when Ann Henderson, only the second woman in 170 years to be elected rector of the University of Edinburgh, another of Scotland's renowned institutions of higher learning, retweeted a message from a feminist group that opposes the move to allow people to identify their own gender. Harassment for what she called “repeated, unfounded accusations” continued for her entire three-year term; it was led by student groups, against which, Henderson says, she got very little support from the university. Ann Henderson, university rector: Harassed for years for retweeting a message from a feminist group that opposes Scotland's move to allow people to identify their own gender. The acrimony over trans rights has a political dimension in Scotland, where the majority group in the Scottish parliament, the Scottish National Party, has avidly supported the proposed reform, to the point of excluding party members who expressed doubts. The most widely known such case involves Joan McAlpine, a former member of the parliament with impeccable feminist credentials. But because of her dissenting ideas about trans self-identification, McAlpine was placed so far down on the SNP's election list that she was effectively removed from office. Among her offenses was her opposition to adding a “non-binary” option to the British census form, on the grounds that it would weaken protections for women. Earlier this year, she was uninvited from a meeting on climate change because, as the organizers of the meeting put it, “We do not believe her views on transgender rights align with our views on equality.” “It's been incredibly toxic,” Mandy Rhodes, the editor of Holyrood, a biweekly publication focused on Scottish politics, told me at a meeting in her office in Edinburgh. “I've been a campaigning journalist my whole career, over three decades, always focused on equality and social justice issues, but I find myself in the ridiculous position of being accused of being anti-trans and siding with the right-wing press when all I've really done is understand that human rights can conflict with each other and we always need to question and explore the consequences, however unintended, of that." Recently, a senior police officer in Scotland caused a stir when he said that the police could record a suspected rapist as a woman in cases involving “a person born male but who identifies as female and does not have a gender recognition certificate.” “This would potentially mean that a woman who has been raped would have to address her alleged assailant as ‘she,’” Rhodes said. “In Scots law, rape can only be committed by someone with a penis, and so the absurdity and potential harms to women victims of sexual assault have been exposed by this line of discussion, where proponents of self-identification for trans people basically have to defend the rights of rapists against the rights of women who have been raped.” Some critics of Scottish wokeness in general identify it as part of a broad cultural shift toward what they call a therapeutic society, as opposed to a society of individual agency, with a strong emphasis on the idea that vulnerable groups need state protection. A couple of years ago, the courts required the government to scrap a planned program by which every child in Scotland under 18 years of age would be assigned a “named person” who would have responsibility for that child's welfare, which its critics construed as an effort to take authority out of the hands of parents and give it to the government. “More and more we feel like we're living in a one-party regime ruled over by a bunch of managers and where what's been decided is now in process and you have to comply with it,” Penny Lewis, a lecturer in the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Dundee, told me. “It's not people in jackboots marching down the street,” she continued.  “It's all wrapped up in this ideology of caring.”  According to Lewis and others who share her views, the Scottish government, led by the SNP, sees itself as a kind of world leader in bringing about a kind of therapeutic state. “The SNP barely existed before the referendum on independence,” she said, referring to the 2014 vote that defeated a move for Scottish independence from Great Britain. “A lot of them actually have very limited political experience, so it's easier for them to take these supposedly virtuous ideas off the shelf, than it is to figure out what to do in a country that's got serious problems.” “The new authoritarianism isn't about authorities imposing their will, but protecting supposedly vulnerable groups,” Waiton said.  And if there are no truly vulnerable groups desperately in need of state protection, it's necessary to invent them.  “We've moved from people as a social subject to people as the vulnerable subject,” Waiton said, “and if you think people are vulnerable, then they have to be protected.” Tyler Durden Sat, 01/22/2022 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 22nd, 2022

Trump Calls DeSantis Feud Rumors "Fake News"

Trump Calls DeSantis Feud Rumors "Fake News" President Trump on Thursday said media reports of conflict between he and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were "totally fake news," adding that he foresees a good relationship down the road. During a phone interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Hannity noted that DeSantis rejected the notion that there was conflict between the two - asking Trump "Is he right?" "Well, he is right," Trump replied, going on to praise DeSantis. "The Republicans really stuck together, and it was a great thing, and Ron was one of them, and Ron wanted to run [for governor], and I endorsed him, and that helped him greatly, and he went on, and he's done a really terrific job in Florida," said Trump, adding "Ron has been very good. He's been a friend of mine for a long time. It's totally fake news." Watch: Trump just MURDERED the media narrative that there's tension between him and Gov. DeSantis by calling it "TOTALLY FAKE NEWS" pic.twitter.com/XPezBHSkcy — Danny De Urbina (@dannydeurbina) January 21, 2022 More via Fox News: DeSantis, who is running for reelection this year, has seen his popularity surge among Republican voters in his state and around the nation over the past year and a half, thanks in large part to his pushback against COVID-19 restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic. After Trump recently said in an interview that politicians who won’t publicly say whether they’ve received a COVID vaccine booster shot are "gutless" – which was widely seen as a shot at DeSantis – the governor appeared to return fire in an interview on the popular conservative podcast "Ruthless." DeSantis said he should have been "much louder" in trying to convince Trump to oppose lockdowns as the pandemic was sweeping the nation in February and March 2020.  And the governor touted that "when COVID was first coming… I was telling Trump ‘stop the flights from China’ because we didn't know what we were dealing with." DeSantis shut down Florida as the pandemic engulfed the nation, but was also one of the first governors in 2020 to lift coronavirus restrictions. *  *  * Do you believe any of this? Tyler Durden Fri, 01/21/2022 - 21:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 21st, 2022

"We Are Going To Take Back America": Trump Holds First Rally Of 2022 In Arizona

"We Are Going To Take Back America": Trump Holds First Rally Of 2022 In Arizona Authored by Mimi Nguyen Ly via The Epoch Times, Former President Donald Trump painted a positive future for Republicans late Saturday at his first rally of 2022, held in Arizona. “A great red wave is going to begin here in Arizona and is going to sweep across this country and it’s going to wash hundreds and thousands of Democrat socialists out of office with an unstoppable surge of Republican patriots, and they’re going to be doing it, you’re going to be heading to the polls,” Trump said at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds, in Florence, a Republican stronghold about 70 miles southeast of Phoenix. “This is the year we are going to take back the House, we are going to take back the Senate, and we are going to take back America. This is so important,” he told the crowd that responded in loud cheers. “This is maybe the most important election we’ve ever had. I do believe that 2024 will be even more important … In 2024, we are going to take back the White House!” he added. Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds in Florence, Arizona, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images) Thousands of supporters gathered at Trump’s rally, his second in Arizona since he left office. The former president described the crowd as a “sea of people” that stretched “as far as the eyes can see,” and urged media members present to turn their cameras around. Trump used the crowd size to question the results of the 2020 election. “I ran twice, and we won twice, and we did better the second time … This crowd is a massive symbol of what took place because the people are hungry for the truth, they want their country back,” the former president asserted. Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds in Florence, Arizona, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) “A person that comes here and has crowds that go further than any eye can see … and has cars that stretch out for 25 miles—that’s not somebody that lost an election,” he later said. “And now because of it, our country is being destroyed.” Trump deplored the current state of the nation but expressed hope the situation will change, outlining agendas that include to eliminate COVID-19 mandates, investigate the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and combat illegal immigration. During his speech, Trump endorsed Kari Lake for Arizona governor while calling incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, a “terrible representative” of the state. Lake, a former journalist, promised to eliminate mandates if she becomes governor. She also promised she would help to ensure election integrity and address illegal immigration, including to finish building the border wall. Former President Donald Trump and Kari Lake, whom Trump is supporting in the Arizona’s gubernatorial race, speak during a rally at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds in Florence, Arizona, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images) COVID-19 Mandates The former president lobbied heavy criticism against the Biden administration’s mandates, which he said are “absolutely decimating our economy.” Trump urged Americans to “tell Joe Biden the Americans’ health choices are none of his business, we can make our own choices.” “With these decisions they’re making, they’re wrecking and devastating people’s lives; firing Americans from their jobs, forcing innocent children to grow up in masks, closing their schools—destroying education, crushing their development, demolishing their futures—[and] locking people in their homes,” Trump said. “They’re truly hurting the American people … they’ve taken away their dignity, they’ve taken away their liberties. And I say enough is enough and we are not going to take it anymore.” “This is the moment the Americans must take their lives and their future back,” he added. “We have to do it. We have to be strong. It’s time for the radical Democrats to leave our families alone, leave our elderly alone, leave our children alone with their strong immune system.” Supporters gather at a rally by former President Donald Trump at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds in Florence, Arizona, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) “Big Pharma is making a fortune. Democrats are putting corporate profits over the rights of the American people. These corrupt, power-hungry lunatics need to hear us loud and clear—we are done having our lives controlled by politicians and Washington bureaucrats. We’re done with the mandates, including the mandates for frontline health care workers.” Trump said he had “fiercely resisted mandates, and always will.” Jan. 6 Probe The former president said that if Republicans regain control of congress, they will start an investigation into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, the day when the U.S. Capitol was breached. “We will immediately begin our own investigations into what happened—what really happened, because this is being totally whitewashed,” Trump said, while denouncing the current Democrat-led House committee investigation of Jan. 6. “January 6 has become the Democrat Party’s excuse to justify an unprecedented assault on Americans’ civil rights and liberties,” Trump said. A supporter wears a large button reading “Fighting for President Trump, January 6 We’re Coming” on his hat as he attends the first rally of the year by former President Donald Trump at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds in Florence, Arizona, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images) He criticized the treatment of people who have been detained in the Jan. 6 investigation. “Appalling persecution of political prisoners. What’s happening to those people in those jails … the blatant abuse of power to harass their political opponents is disgraceful, it’s never happened to this extent,” Trump said. “When it comes to January 6 defendants, most of whom were charged with non-violent offenses, partisan Democrats have celebrated their indefinite detention without trial,” he said. “These people are living in hell. Let them fight, let them see their lawyers, let them go out … These people are being persecuted.” Trump also denounced the shooting of Ashli Babbitt and the man who shot her. “Let’s see how he could do without the protections that he got,” Trump said. “It’s a disgrace the way he shot Ashli.” “The American people deserve answers,” he said. “The Jan. 6 rally was a protest against a crooked election carried out by unhinged Democrats, Big Tech, working with the fake news media, all working together to defeat Republicans, and your favorite president—me.” Illegal Immigration Trump said that one of Republicans’ top priorities if they regain control of Congress will be to “stop the illegal flood of aliens across our southern border,” which includes human trafficking. Trump said Republicans plan to increase the number of ICE and Border Patrol officers to detain and deport illegal aliens. “We should also pass a law that says that sanctuary city officials who knowingly release criminals will be charged as accessories in any future crimes.” The border situation changed from “best” to “worst” in the span of one year, he said. “Over 2 million illegal aliens have trespassed across our borders—but that’s also a fake number given by the press and others,” Trump said, adding that he believes the number could be “10 times that amount.” “I think we’re talking about tens of millions of people are pouring into this country,” he suggested. “We see certain people and we sort of lock it down, well that’s the number, but it’s not. I think that it’s tens of millions of people, and these are not necessarily people we want in our country.” Trump noted a “record number” of undocumented migrant children arriving across the border. He accused Democrats of pushing “very cruel policies are pushing vulnerable youths into the arms of child smugglers, human traffickers, and very vicious criminal cartels.” “What the criminal cartels are doing to women and children—unbelievable. The trafficking is mostly in women, [and] what they’re doing to women is horrible. Yet despite all of this … the radical left are still hellbent on passing mass amnesty for illegal aliens,” Trump said. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/16/2022 - 12:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

Tucker Carlson pushes blatantly false InfoWars conspiracy theory that white people are being denied monoclonal antibodies because of their race

"If you wanted to make the population radical and distrustful and conspiracy minded ... this is exactly what you'd do," Carlson said in the segment. Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson.Fox News Tucker Carlson's latest COVID conspiracy theory is that white people are being discriminated against. The Fox News host featured footage from InfoWars in an attempt to back up the false claim. Carlson aired a shorter version of the clip, omitting context on monoclonal antibody eligibility. Parroting months-old material from the conspiracy website InfoWars, Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been pushing a demonstrably false claim that white people are being denied COVID-19 treatments because of their race.While Carlson has already equated children wearing masks to child abuse and aired a conspiracy theory-ridden interview with anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., his January 10 segment reached a new level of misleading material and outright falsehood."The United States has mistreated racial minorities in centuries past, they say, therefore whites must suffer now," Carlson said. "So your ancestors did bad things, or people who looked like your ancestors did bad things, so now, we are withholding medicine from you."They call this equity," he continued. "It's not equity. It is collective punishment. It's the North Korean standard. It's the definition of evil."—Blair (@skifflegirl) January 11, 2022Airing a shorter version of a clip that was first shared by InfoWars host Harrison Hill Smith and later posted to the conspiracy site's page, Carlson omitted the latter portion of the video where Smith is told he can't receive monoclonal antibody treatment because of his lack of underlying health conditions.With COVID-19 surging across the US, therapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies have been stretched thin across the nation's hospitals. Now, evidence suggests that two of the three monoclonal antibody treatments may be less effective against the Omicron variant."If you were 65, you'd be good," the nurse tells the InfoWars host in a portion of the video Carlson didn't air. "But nope, you're healthy and [have] no medical conditions, so research shows that you should be able to fight off COVID."Despite the nurse giving the patient a clear answer, Carlson came to the opposite conclusion."So you can't get lifesaving drugs from the government of Texas if you're the wrong color," Carlson said after airing the shortened clip. "Think about that."In response to Insider's request for comment, a Fox News spokesperson pointed to non-InfoWars sources Carlson included in the segment."Tucker Carlson's monologue cited official government documents from the FDA and health departments in New York City, Utah, Texas, Minnesota as evidence for the claims that non-black or non-Hispanic COVID patients are facing adverse race-based factors impeding them from receiving COVID therapeutics and other scarce drugs for treatment," the media representative wrote in an email.The Texas Department of State Health Services has gone on record to state that white people are not being denied antibody treatments because of their race, and neither the FDA nor any of the states mentioned by Fox say "you can't get lifesaving drugs" on the basis of race, as Carlson claims they did.A CDC study published on January 7 explained the disparity in COVID-19 deaths by race while noting that full vaccination and receiving a booster shot drastically reduce the disproportionate outcomes."Population-wide data have demonstrated that COVID-19 hospitalization and death are more frequent among Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons than among non-Hispanic White persons," the authors write.After the misleading clip was aired, Carlson, for his part, said he can't help it if his viewers are left to conspiratorial thinking."I mean, if you wanted to make the population radical and distrustful and conspiracy minded — if you wanted to destroy the bonds that hold people together — this is exactly what you'd do," he said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 13th, 2022

Why a festering GOP schism means Kevin McCarthy may miss his next chance to become the speaker of the House

Bad blood and MAGA loyalty fights may keep House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy from realizing his dream of one day becoming speaker. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican of California, speaks during a weekly news conference at the US Capitol on July 1, 2021 in Washington, DC.Alex Wong/Getty Images Disaffected colleagues could sideline the front-runner for speaker should the GOP retake the House.  Trump adviser Steve Bannon is the latest to join in the Kevin McCarthy bashing. "There's too much curtain measuring happening 10 months out," a GOP operative told Insider. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy played it safe on Thursday and stayed far from the public spotlight as the country marked the first anniversary since a pro-Trump mob violently stormed the US Capitol.His notable absence helped him avoid tough questions about a day that Vice President Kamala Harris connected back to the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.But it also may have further cost him politically with a group of GOP hardliners who are close to former President Donald Trump and who could ultimately help spoil McCarthy's bid to become the next House speaker should Republicans win back the majority in 2022.Trumpworld fixture Steve Bannon this week joined the chorus of GOP detractors who seem to have no use for McCarthy, telling his podcast listeners that the current crop of House GOP leaders are "just sitting there as controlled opposition." Though Bannon didn't specifically namecheck the eight-term California Republican, he did pine for "leadership that is prepared to make sure our country is not stolen." Bannon isn't an elected official and he doesn't have a vote in the House. But his voice is a potent one among the MAGA faithful. He also joins a growing clique of incredibly strange bedfellows that includes Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Matt Gaetz of Florida who all are showing burgeoning contempt for McCarthy.Greene and Gaetz have both been taunting McCarthy for months about the obstacles they can present to his potential promotion to be the next House speaker. On the January 6 anniversary, they continued to deliver MAGA applause lines while criticizing their own party leadership."I wish that there was more of our conference with us," Greene said during a webcast with Gaetz from inside the Capitol complex. Complaints from McCarthy's right aren't the only ones he's dealing with. On Thursday, Rep. Liz Cheney brought her father to the Capitol to mark the January 6 riot, and the former vice president took the opportunity to take his own backhanded swipe at McCarthy."It's not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years," Dick Cheney, a former six-term Wyoming congressman who served as the GOP minority whip, told reporters. Rep. Liz Cheney and former Vice President Dick Cheney walk through the Capitol Rotunda on the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrectionManuel Balce Ceneta/APMcCarthy's balancing actMcCarthy's standing with Trump is anything but certain. The two men sniped at each other as rioters swarmed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, with McCarthy stating on the floor a week later that the former president bore some responsibility for the unprecedented attack. In between Trump rewarded ardent supporter Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Within weeks McCarthy raced down to Palm Beach, Florida, to bend the knee at Mar-a-Lago, a reunion Trump happily exploited as a photo-op. —Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) January 28, 2021 To kick off 2022, McCarthy published an open letter to colleagues wherein he trashed the Biden administration and urged everyone to help him flip the chamber this fall. "If we are fortunate enough to earn the majority, it will take everyone rowing in the same direction from Day 1 to begin delivering on the priorities of the American people," he wrote. A day later he was railing against social media companies for continuing to boot disinformation spreaders like Greene and Trump. McCarthy also has vowed to hold tech firms accountable once Republicans regain power.—Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) January 4, 2022 But it's unclear if his attempts at appeasement are too little, too late for the grudge-holding provocateurs. There is of course still lots of time to shore up support. Winning the House back in November would go a long way toward that goal, and Republicans have a pretty good shot at winning less than the dozen seats necessary during this fall's midterm elections. From there, McCarthy would need to convince a majority of the House to back him. That's no guarantee given the current political environment that has splintered the GOP and where some Trump-aligned House members are suggesting they want someone else.  Last fall, Greene, who was stripped of all her committee assignments a month after being sworn in, suggested McCarthy hasn't clinched the speaker race, yet. "He doesn't have the full support to be Speaker," the freshman lawmaker turned armchair vote-counter said on Gaetz's podcast. For his part, Gaetz has repeatedly floated nominating Trump for speaker if the midterms go Republicans' way. It's definitely a longshot. But members are free to vote for anyone of their choosing, from either party, including themselves when it comes time to vote for a new speaker at the start of the new session of Congress. Legally, they can even nominate someone not currently serving in Congress.One former GOP leadership aide declined to lay odds on McCarthy's bid for a promotion, noting that some establishment Republicans may not be over his 2015 vanishing act when the speaker position also was open. "It's going to really depend on how many Republicans remember that McCarthy once pulled himself out of the running at the last minute when he had a real chance to be speaker," the aide said of McCarthy's abrupt exit from the race to replace retiring House Speaker John Boehner. McCarthy was politically radioactive back then six years ago amid rumors of extramarital affairs with then-Rep. Renee Elmers of North Carolina and anger that he had said the quiet part out loud by bragging that the GOP-led Benghazi investigation had torpedoed then-presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton's poll numbers. His departure from that internal election effectively cleared the path for Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to reluctantly succeed Boehner. Doug Heye, a former House leadership aide turned GOP strategist, said McCarthy should be able to shrug off attacks from haters. Except one. "The biggest wildcard isn't a few members who are critical of Kevin, but Trump," Heye wrote in an email, adding that the revenge-seeking former president's "threats of retribution hang like a sword of Damocles over any Republican he deems as insufficiently loyal." Besides, Heye said, it's much too early to predict how the 2022 midterms and 2023 speaker's race will unfold. "There's too much curtain measuring happening 10 months out," he told Insider. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 6th, 2022

Reuters Data Scientist Fired After Nuking BLM Narrative, Exposing "Significant Left-Wing Bias" In Reporting

Reuters Data Scientist Fired After Nuking BLM Narrative, Exposing 'Significant Left-Wing Bias' In Reporting On Tuesday, we republished a column from a journalist who resigned from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation because the network exhibited such extreme left-wing bias and propaganda that she couldn't be a part of it any longer. Today, bring you the story of Zac Kriegman, a former Reuters data scientist who was fired after performing a statistical analysis which refuted claims by Black Lives Matter, and spoke out against the company's culture of "diversity and inclusion" which unquestioningly celebrated the BLM narrative. As journalist Chris F. Rufo writes in City Journal: "Driven by what he called a “moral obligation” to speak out, Kriegman refused to celebrate unquestioningly the BLM narrative and his company’s “diversity and inclusion” programming; to the contrary, he argued that Reuters was exhibiting significant left-wing bias in the newsroom and that the ongoing BLM protests, riots, and calls to “defund the police” would wreak havoc on minority communities." Week after week, Kriegman felt increasingly disillusioned by the Thomson Reuters line. Finally, on the first Tuesday in May 2021, he posted a long, data-intensive critique of BLM’s and his company’s hypocrisy. He was sent to Human Resources and Diversity & Inclusion for the chance to reform his thoughts. - He refused—so they fired him. -City Journal Kriegman, who has a bachelors in economics from Michigan, a JD from Harvard, and "years of experience with high-tech startups, a white-shoe law firm, and an econometrics research consultancy," spent six years at Thomson Reuters, where he rose through the ranks to spearhead the company's efforts on AI, machine learning, and advanced software engineering. By the time he was fired, he was the Director of Data Science, and lead a team which was in the process of implementing deep learning throughout the corporation. Following the death of George Floyd, Kriegman described Reuters as a "blue bubble" where "people were constantly celebrating Black Lives Matter, where it was assumed that everyone was on board." The company asked employees to participated in a "21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge," which promoted reparations, academic articles on critical race theory (on which Rufo has written extensively), and instructions on "how to be a better white person." The materials were both patronizing and 'outright racist,' writes Rufo. The Reuters workforce was told that their "black colleagues" are "confused and scared," and are barely able to show up to work. They allegedly felt pressured to "take the personal trauma we all know to be true and tuck it away to protect white people," who are unable to grasp the black experience because of their own whiteness. To right the wrongs of slavery and systemic oppression, white Reuters employees were told to let themselves get "called out" by minority colleagues, and then respond with "I believe you"; "I recognize that I have work to do"; "I apologize, I'm going to do better." Ultimately, white people are supposed to admit their complicity in systemic racism and repent for their collective guilt, because "White people built this system. White people control this system," according to a learning module from self-described "wypipologist" Michael Harriot. "It is white people who have tacitly agreed to perpetuate white supremacy throughout America’s history. It is you who must confront your racist friends, coworkers, and relatives. You have to cure your country of this disease. The sickness is not ours." Kriegman came to believe that the company’s “blue bubble” had created a significant bias in the company’s news reporting. “Reuters is not having the internal discussions about the facts and the research, and they’re not letting that shape how they present the news to people. I think they’ve adopted a perspective and they’re unwilling to examine that perspective, even internally, and that’s shaping everything that they write,” Kriegman said. Consequently, Reuters adopted a narrative that promotes a naïve, left-wing narrative about Black Lives Matter and fails to provide accurate context—which is particularly egregious because, unlike obviously left-leaning outlets such as the New York Times, Reuters has a reputation as a source of objective news reporting. A review of Reuters coverage over the spring and summer of 2020 confirms Kriegman’s interpretation. Though early articles covering the first days of the chaos in Minneapolis were straightforward about the violence—“Protests, looting erupt in Minneapolis over racially charged killing by police,” reads one headline—Reuters’s coverage eventually seemed like it had been processed to add ideology and euphemism. Beginning in the summer and continuing over the course of the year, the newswire’s reporting adopted the BLM narrative in substance and style. The stories framed the unrest as a “a new national reckoning about racial injustice” and described the protests as “mostly peaceful” or “largely peaceful,” despite widespread violence, looting, and crime. “More than 93% of recent demonstrations connected to Black Lives Matter were peaceful,” Reuters insisted, even as rioters caused up to $2 billion in property damage across the country. The company’s news reporters adopted the syntax of BLM activists. A May 8 story opened with the familiar “say their names” recitation, ignoring the fact that the first named individual, for example, had attacked a police officer, who was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing: “Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray. Their names are seared into Americans’ memories, egregious examples of lethal police violence that stirred protests and prompted big payouts to the victims’ families.” Even as Seattle’s infamous “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” descended into lawlessness and saw the brutal murder of two black teenagers, the newswire’s headlines downplayed the destruction, claiming that the Seattle protests were “diminished but not dismantled.” -City Journal According to Kriegman, Reuters 'data-based fact checks' were also biased - and always in favor of BLM interpretations. In one instance, the wire service's "special report" claimed that "a growing body of research supports the perception that police unfairly target Black Americans. They are more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested than their white compatriots. They also are more likely to be killed by police." Reuters dedicated just two short paragraphs to refute the viewpoint, which it quickly dismisses to continue advancing the pro-BLM argument. Reuters made an evidence-free claim that qualified immunity - which is protected by the Supreme Court - is "rooted in racism." The company also hosted a panel with left-wing pundits to discuss criminal reform, which ended up uncritically promoting such policies as "defund the police," and who suggested that "hundreds" of unjustified police killings of black men "fail to win victims any redress." As usual, no facts backed up their claims. The company’s data reporting consistently re-contextualized accurate information about racial violence and policing in order to align with Black Lives Matter rhetoric. In a “fact check” of a social media post that claimed whites are more likely to be killed by blacks than blacks are to be killed by whites, Reuters concedes that this is factually accurate but labels the post “misleading”—in part because it doesn’t show that police kill black people at a higher rate than their share of the overall population, a completely unrelated claim. Likewise, when President Donald Trump accurately pointed out that police officers kill “more white people” than black people each year, Reuters immediately published a story reframing the narrative. Though the report admitted that “half of people killed by police are white,” the writers pushed the line that “Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate” and then used a quotation from the American Civil Liberties Union to paint the president as a “racist.” -City Journal "I did look through Reuters’s news, and it was concerning to me that a lot of the same issues that I was seeing in other media outlets seemed to be replicated in Reuters’s news, where they were reporting favorably about Black Lives Matter protests without giving any context to the claims that were being made at those protests [and] without giving any context about the ‘Ferguson effect’ and how police pulling back on their proactive policing has been pretty clearly linked to a dramatic increase in murders," Kriegman told Rufo. "At a certain point, it just feels like a moral obligation to speak out when something that’s having such a devastating impact is being celebrated so widely, especially in a news company where the perspective that’s celebrated is having such a big impact externally." Kriegman took two months off from Thomson Reuters to 'grapple with the statistical and ethical implications' of how the company was reporting on the BLM movement and related riots. While on leave, he embarked on a careful statistical investigation comparing BLM's claims on racism, violence and policing with hard evidence. The result: a 12,000-word essay, titled “BLM is Anti-Black Systemic Racism,” that called into question the entire sequence of claims by the Black Lives Matter movement and echoed by the Reuters news team. “I believe the Black Lives Matter (‘BLM’) movement arose out of a passionate desire to protect black people from racism and to move our whole society towards healing from a legacy of centuries of brutal oppression,” Kriegman wrote in the introduction. “Unfortunately, over the past few years I have grown more and more concerned about the damage that the movement is doing to many low-income black communities. I have avidly followed the research on the movement and its impacts, which has led me, inexorably, to the conclusion that the claim at the heart of the movement, that police more readily shoot black people, is false and likely responsible for thousands of black people being murdered in the most disadvantaged communities in the country.” Thomson Reuters, Kriegman continued, has a special obligation to “resist simplistic narratives that are not based in facts and evidence, especially when those narratives are having such a profoundly negative impact on minority or marginalized groups.” -City Journal The essay debunks three key claims of BLM activists and their media supporters. That police officers kill blacks disproportionately That law enforcement 'over-polices' black neighborhoods That policies such as "defund the police" will reduce violence. Rufo breaks down Kriegman's arguments:  First, Kriegman writes that the narrative about police officers systematically hunting and killing blacks is not supported by the evidence. “For instance, in 2020 there were 457 whites shot and killed by police, compared to 243 blacks. Of those, 24 of the whites killed were unarmed compared to 18 blacks,” he writes, citing the Washington Post database of police shootings. And though the number of blacks killed might be disproportionate compared with the percentage of blacks in the overall population, it is not disproportionate to the level of violent crime committed by black citizens. “Depending on the type of violent crime, whites either commit a slightly greater (non-fatal crimes) or slightly smaller (fatal, and serious non-fatal crimes) percentage of the total violent crime than blacks, but in all cases roughly in the same ballpark,” Kriegman writes. However, according to the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey data, “there are many more whites killed by police, even though whites account for a similar absolute number of violent offenders. Thus, if the number of potentially violent encounters with police reflects the violent crime rates, then the raw statistics suggest that there is actually a slight anti-white bias in police applications of lethal force.” To round out his case, Kriegman concludes with a study by Harvard’s Roland Fryer, which, according to Fryer, “didn’t find evidence for anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparity in police use of force across all shootings, and, if anything, found anti-White disparities when controlling for race-specific crime.” Next, Kriegman takes up “over-policing.” Black Lives Matter activists and Reuters reporters had pushed the idea that police officers focus disproportionate attention on black neighborhoods and, because of deep-seated “racial bias,” are more likely to stop, search, and arrest black Americans “than their white compatriots.” While this might be true on its face, Kriegman writes, it misses the appropriate context: black neighborhoods are significantly more violent than white neighborhoods. If police want to reduce violent crime, they must spend more time in the places where violent crime occurs. Kriegman points out to his colleagues in Thomson Reuters’s Boston office that “the reason that police have more confrontations in predominantly black neighborhoods in Boston is because that is where the great bulk of violent crime is occurring,” with nearly all the annual murders happening in predominantly black neighborhoods such as Dorchester and Roxbury—far from the homes and offices of his colleagues in the professional-managerial class at Reuters. And Boston is hardly an outlier. According to Kriegman, the most rigorous statistical analyses demonstrate that violent-crime rates and policing are, in fact, highly correlated and proportionate. He quotes a Justice Department report which “found that for nonfatal violent crimes that victims said were reported to police, whites accounted for 48% of offenders and 46% of arrestees. Blacks accounted for 35% of offenders and 33% of arrestees. Asians accounted for 2% of offenders and 1% of arrestees. None of these differences between the percentage of offenders and the percentage of arrestees of a given race were statistically significant.” Finally, Kriegman addresses the policy implications of “de-policing.” Contrary to Reuters’s sometimes glowing coverage of the “defund the police” movement, Kriegman makes the case that de-policing, whether it occurs because of the “Ferguson Effect” or because of deliberate policy choices, has led to disaster for black communities. His argument, building on the work of City Journal’s Heather Mac Donald, follows this logic: after high-profile police-involved killings, such as those involving Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Black Lives Matter movement and the media have demonized police departments and caused many officers to reduce proactive policing measures and to pull back from situations out of fear that they might need to use force. The result, according to data from a range of academic literature, is an increase in crime and violence. Kriegman again cites Fryer, who concluded that the Ferguson Effect led to 900 excess murders in five cities he considered, and the University of Utah’s Paul G. Cassell, who found that the “Minneapolis Effect” led to 1,520 excess murders in the United States. Thus, BLM’s signature policy solution—“defund the police”—would likely lead to incredible carnage in black communities. -City Journal Instead of his essay winning hearts and minds at Reuters, where he hoped it would help his colleagues move beyond "the blue bubble" and see "how devastating Black Lives Matter has been to black communities," Reuters HR panicked and took down Kriegman's post. "I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but I expected the reaction to be intense," said Kriegman. "And it was." He says a "team of HR and communications professionals" were called in to manage the situation, which they told him they were "reviewing." When he asked multiple times about the company's decision to remove his essay, he was told that it was too "antagonistic" and "provocative," and that he needed to work with their head of diversity and inclusion, Cristina Juvier, if he wanted to pursue the matter further. Read the rest of the report here. Tyler Durden Thu, 01/06/2022 - 17:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 6th, 2022

The Defenestration Of Dr. Robert Malone

The Defenestration Of Dr. Robert Malone Commentary authored by John Mac Ghlionn via The Epoch Times, Dr. Robert Malone is a U.S. virologist and immunologist who has dedicated his professional existence to the development of mRNA vaccines. In the 1980s, Malone worked as a researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where he conducted studies on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology. In the early 1990s, Malone collaborated with Jon A. Wolff and Dennis A. Carson, two eminent scientists, on a study that involved synthesization. In fact, Malone is the father of mRNA vaccines. He has served as an adjunct associate professor of biotechnology at Kennesaw State University, and he co-founded Atheric Pharmaceutical, a company that was contracted by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in 2016. As you can see, Malone is no ordinary man. In fact, he’s a rather extraordinary man. Before embarking on a distinguished career in science, Malone worked as a carpenter and as a farmhand. Becoming a doctor was a lofty aspiration, but through hard work and determination, his dream became a reality. Over the course of three decades, Malone has established himself as one of the most competent people in the fields of virology and immunology. Dr. Robert Malone (L) speaks at the Global Covid Summit in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 18, 2021. (Courtesy of Global Covid Summit/Screenshot via NTD) Why, then, is he considered “a pariah” (in his own words) by so many of his peers? Why did Twitter recently suspend his account? Malone is arguably the most qualified person in the world to speak on what we as a society should and shouldn’t be doing during the pandemic. Yet for reasons that will become abundantly clear, he finds himself ostracized, largely silenced, and cut off from the scientific community. Why? Two months before his Twitter account was suspended, Malone wrote a rather prophetic Twitter post: “I am going to speak bluntly,” he wrote. “Physicians who speak out are being actively hunted via medical boards and the press. They are trying to delegitimize us and pick us off one by one.” He finished by warning that this is “not a conspiracy theory” but “a fact.” He urged us all to “wake up.” Sadly, many of us are still asleep. In my research for this piece, it seems clear to me that Malone has been silenced, not because he’s some quack spouting nonsense, but because he challenged—and still challenges—the overarching narrative about vaccines and the lethality of COVID-19. Malone was recently interviewed by Joe Rogan. For the uninitiated, Rogan is the host of one of the most influential podcasts in the world. At one point during the three-hour interview, Malone referred to Dr. Anthony Fauci as Tony Fauci, a man he knows personally. Malone, in other words, knows where all the skeletons are hidden. The same is true for Dr. Peter McCullough, another world-renowned expert who has appeared on Rogan’s podcast. Prior to writing this piece, I consulted both Malone and McCullough. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a briefing at the White House on Dec. 1, 2021. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo) Over the course of the past 18 months, Malone has been painted as some kind of anti-vax fringe scientist, a man of questionable merit who’s spouting nonsense. Well, he’s not. Malone happens to be vaccinated. All he has ever asked for is the chance to have frank and honest discussions on vaccines. In his own words, vaccines have “saved lives. Many lives.” “But it is also increasingly clear that there are some risks associated with these vaccines,” Malone said. “Various governments have attempted to deny that this is the case. But they are wrong. Vaccination-associated coagulation is a risk. Cardiotoxicity is a risk. Those are proven and discussed in official USG communications, as well as communications from a variety of other governments.” Malone isn’t a crazed conspiracy theorist: He’s a man who’s intimately familiar with the benefits and the risks of vaccines. He’s a proponent of informed consent. Perhaps before letting someone inject a vaccine into your body, you should be fully informed of the risks involved, he says. He isn’t an unreasonable man. Nevertheless, in this age of faux outrage and fabricated storylines, society needs a fall guy, a boogie man, a sacrificial lamb. Malone fits the bill. He knows too much. It’s much easier to discredit a decorated physician—who challenges the overarching narrative—than it is to actually debate him. Zero Degrees of Separation The story goes deeper. In 2019, the BBC established the Trusted News Initiative (TNI), a partnership that now includes organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, Reuters, and The Washington Post. We’re told that it was established to tackle “disinformation in real time.” TNI was ostensibly designed to wage a war on “fake news.” Upon closer inspection, however, it appears to have been designed to promote very specific narratives and to silence any dissenting voices, such as Malone’s. Instead of trusting the TNI, we should question the motives of its members. After all, The Washington Post recently published a piece asking people to stop criticizing President Joe Biden. The message is clear: Stop being mean to the president, even if the president is being mean to you (on more than one occasion). Then, there’s James C. Smith, chairman of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. He sits on the board of directors for Pfizer, a company that’s responsible for the creation of vaccines with questionable efficacy and that has a history of manipulating data. In short, Pfizer is a company with a questionable reputation. Nevertheless, Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla was recently named CNN’s Business CEO of the Year. Make of that what you will. When one thinks of TNI (and the mainstream media in general), various terms instantly spring to mind. “Objectivity” isn’t one of them. “Highly compromised” and “conflict of interest” do come to mind, however. Speaking of objectivity, or the lack thereof, in August 2021, The Atlantic ran a much-cited hit piece on Malone, which was high on accusations, but low on actual evidence. It attacked his character and credibility—repeatedly. Rather intriguingly, the article, like all of The Atlantic’s COVID-19 articles, was funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The former is an organization established and owned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation owns stock in Johnson & Johnson, a company whose vaccine has been associated with the development of blood clots—the very thing Malone has been warning us about for the better part of two years. People might scoff. But contrary to popular belief, democracy doesn’t die in darkness. It dies in broad daylight. Its death is slow and protracted, one by a thousand cuts rather than by one fatal stab. As author Steve Levitsky once wrote, democracies don’t often die at the hands of military generals, “but of elected leaders—presidents or prime ministers who subvert the very process that brought them to power.” “One of the great ironies of how democracies die is that the very defense of democracy is often used as a pretext for its subversion,” he wrote. “Would-be autocrats often use economic crises, natural disasters, and especially security threats—wars, armed insurgencies, or terrorist attacks—to justify antidemocratic measures.” Apply these lines to the pandemic, and Levitsky’s words carry more weight than ever before. In the United States, one must not question the efficacy of masks, vaccines for kids, the logic (or lack thereof) of lockdowns, or the unconstitutional nature of vaccine mandates. What about the little matter of vaccine breakthrough deaths? Don’t ask any questions. But wait, if science can’t be questioned, doesn’t this make it propaganda? Hush now. Don’t you love America? Don’t you want people to live, rather than die? Then shut up and get the vaccine, then the booster shot, then the booster-booster shot. We, the arbiters of truth, know what’s best for you. Somewhat ironically, these self-appointed arbiters of truth spout no shortage of lies. Is it any surprise, then, that more and more Americans continue to lose faith in the mainstream media and the government? Yet here we are, being condescended to by the likes of CNN’s Don Lemon and MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace. Worse still, we’re supposed to take orders from Fauci, a man who supposedly represents science, yet goes out of his way to smear scientists. Why would a man of science attack the very thing that he’s supposed to represent? A stock photo of social media platform icons in a mobile device. (Pixabay/Pexels) According to numerous reports, Fauci has repeatedly deceived the American people. It’s important to remember that Fauci is, first and foremost, a talking head for the U.S. government. In reality, he’s a politician with a medical degree. To quote the author Gillian Flynn, the author of “Gone Girl”: “The truth is malleable; you just need to pick the right expert.” Who better than Fauci, a highly qualified individual with his own fan club? But don’t be fooled. Fauci might act like he answers to no one, but he does. He answers to the U.S. government. Who, then, does the government answer to? Big Pharma, it seems. In 2019, the Roosevelt Institute published a fascinating report, “The Cost of Capture: How the Pharmaceutical Industry has Corrupted Policy Makers and Harmed Patients.” The report outlines the many ways in which the pharmaceutical industry has shaped policies through corporate capture. This is a phenomenon that sees private industries use their significant financial and political influence to manipulate a state’s decision-making apparatus. The report warned about the dangers of lobbying and of deeply flawed medical research. What we’re seeing is the convergence of Big Pharma, Big Tech, and Big Government. Let’s call it the unholy trinity, with Big Tech doing the bidding of Big Government, and Big Government doing the bidding of Big Pharma. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, YouTube has removed the Joe Rogan episodes featuring Robert Malone and Peter McCullough. Why? Because when it comes to viruses and vaccines, these are among the most notable and accomplished experts in the world. They appear to know things that the government doesn’t want us to know. Additionally, Google, the owner of YouTube, appears to be closely involved with the U.S. government. What we’re left with is the equivalent of a digital dictatorship, with even the most qualified people being silenced, ostracized, and, in some cases, defenestrated. Robert Malone is a wise man, an honest man, and a highly credible man. The grief that has come his way—and continues to come his way to this day—is unwarranted. But as he knows only too well, this is the price one must pay for challenging the unholy trinity. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/05/2022 - 19:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 5th, 2022

Futures Tread Water With Traders Spooked By Spike In Yields

Futures Tread Water With Traders Spooked By Spike In Yields After futures rose to a new all time high during the Tuesday overnight session, the mood has been decided more muted after yesterday's sharp rates-driven tech selloff, and on Wednesday U.S. futures were mixed and Nasdaq contracts slumped as investors once again contemplated the effect of expected rate hikes on tech stocks with lofty valuations while waiting for the release of Federal Reserve minutes at 2pm today. At 730am, Nasdaq 100 futures traded 0.3% lower amid caution over the impact of higher yields on equity valuations, S&P 500 Index futures were down 0.1%, while Europe’s Stoxx 600 gauge traded near a record high. The dollar weakened, as did bitcoin, while Brent crude rose back over $80. “The sharp rise in U.S. yields this week has sparked a move from growth to value,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda Asia Pacific. “Wall Street went looking for the winners in an inflationary environment and as a result, loaded up on the Dow Jones at the expense of the Nasdaq.” Concerns related to the pandemic deepened as Hong Kong restricted dining-in, closed bars and gyms and banned flights from eight countries including the U.S. and the U.K. to slow the spread of the omicron variant. Meanwhile, a selloff in technology stocks extended to Asia, where the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbled as much as 4.2%, sending the gauge toward a six-year low. Traders are now caught in a quandary over deepening fears on global growth combined with a faster tightening by the Federal Reserve. “Earlier we thought that rate hikes wouldn’t be on the table until mid-2022 but the Fed seems to have worked up a consensus to taper faster and hike sooner rather than later,” Steve Englander, head of global G-10 FX research at Standard Chartered, said in a note. “But we don’t think inflation dynamics will support continued hiking. We suspect the biggest driver of asset markets will be when inflation and Covid fears begin to ebb.” Data on Tuesday showed mixed signs on U.S. inflation. Prices paid by manufacturers in December came in sharply lower than expected. However, figures showing a faster U.S. job quit rate added to concerns over wage inflation. With 4.5 million Americans leaving their jobs in November, compared with 10.6 million available positions, the odds increased the Fed will struggle to influence the employment numbers increasingly dictated by social reasons. The data came before Friday’s monthly report from the Labor Department, currently forecast to show 420,000 job additions in December. In premarket trading, tech giants Tesla, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices were among the worst performers. Pfizer advanced in New York premarket trading after BofA Global Research recommended the stock. Shares of Chinese companies listed in the U.S. extended their decline after Tencent cut its stake in gaming and e-commerce company Sea, triggering concerns of similar actions at other firms amid Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on the technology sector. Alibaba (BABA US) falls 1.2%, Didi (DIDI US) -1.8%. Here are the other notable premarket movers: Shares in electric vehicle makers fall in U.S. premarket trading, set to extend Tuesday’s losses, amid signs of deepening competition in the sector. Tesla (TSLA US) slips 1.1%, Rivian (RIVN US) -0.6%. Beyond Meat (BYND US) shares jump 8.9% premarket following a CNBC report that Yum! Brands’ KFC will launch fried chicken made with the company’s meat substitute. Recent selloff in Pinterest (PINS US) shares presents an attractive risk/reward, with opportunities for the social media company largely unchanged, Piper Sandler writes in note as it upgrades to overweight. Stock gains 2.3% in premarket trading. Senseonics Holdings (SENS US) shares rise 15% premarket after the medical technology company said it expects a U.S. Food and Drug Administration decision in weeks on an updated diabetes- monitoring system. MillerKnoll (MLKN US) shares were down 3.1% in postmarket trading Tuesday after reporting fiscal 2Q top and bottom line results that missed analysts’ estimates. Annexon (ANNX US) was down 23% postmarket Tuesday after results were released from an experimental therapy for a fatal movement disorder called Huntington’s disease. Three patients in the 28- person trial discontinued treatment due to drug-related side- effects. Wejo Group (WEJO US) shares are up 34% premarket after the company said it’s developing the Wejo Neural Edge platform to enable intelligent handling of data from vehicles at scale. Smart Global (SGH US) falls 6% postmarket Tuesday after the computing memory maker forecast earnings per share for the second quarter. The low end of that forecast missed the average analyst estimate. Beyond Meat (BYND) shares surge premarket after CNBC KFC launch report UBS cut the recommendation on Adobe Inc. (ADBE US) to neutral from buy, citing concerns over the software company’s 2022 growth prospects. Shares down 2% in premarket trading. Oncternal Therapeutics (ONCT US) shares climb 5.1% premarket after saying it reached consensus with the FDA on the design and major details of the phase 3 superiority study ZILO-301 to treat mantle cell lymphoma. In Europe, the energy, chemicals and car industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index up 0.2% to near an all-time high set on Tuesday. The Euro Stoxx 50 rises as much as 0.6%, DAX outperforms. FTSE 100 lags but rises off the lows to trade up 0.2%. Nestle dropped 2.4%, slipping from a record, after Jefferies cut the Swiss food giant to underperform. Utilities were the worst-performing sector in Europe on Wednesday as cyclical areas of the market are favored over defensives, while Uniper and Fortum fall following news of a loan agreement.  Other decliners include RWE (-2.4%), Endesa (2.1%), Verbund (-1.3%), NatGrid (-1.2%), Centrica (-1.2%). Earlier in the session, technology shares led a decline in Asian equity markets, with investors concerned about the prospects of higher interest rates and Tencent’s continued sale of assets. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 0.6%, the most in two weeks, dragged down by Tencent and Meituan. The rout in U.S. tech spilled over to Asia, where the Hang Seng Tech Index plunged 4.6%, the most since July, following Tencent’s stake cut in Singapore’s Sea. Declines in tech and other sectors in Hong Kong widened after the city tightened rules to curb the spread of the omicron variant. Most Asian indexes fell on Wednesday, with Japan an exception among major markets as automakers offered support. The outlook for tighter monetary policy in the U.S. and higher Treasury yields weighed on the region’s technology shares, prompting a rotation from growth to value stocks.   Read: China Tech Selloff Deepens as Tencent Sale Spooks Traders Asian equities have underperformed U.S. and European peers amid slower recoveries and vaccination rates in the past year. With omicron rapidly gaining a foothold in Asia, there is a risk of “any further restriction measures, which could cloud the services sector outlook, along with disruption to supply chains,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a strategist at IG Asia Pte.  Philippine stocks gained as trading resumed following a one-day halt due to a systems glitch. North Korea appeared to have launched its first ballistic missile in about two months, just days after leader Kim Jong Un indicated that returning to stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. was a low priority for him in the coming year. India’s key equity gauges posted their longest run of advances in more than two moths, driven by a rally in financial stocks on hopes of revival in lending on the back of capex spending in the country. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.6% to 60,223.15 in Mumbai, its highest since Nov. 16, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced 0.7%. Both benchmarks stretched their winning run to a fourth day, the longest since Oct. 18. All but six of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. climbed, led by a gauge of banking firms. “I believe from an uncertain, volatile environment, the Nifty is now headed for a directional move,” Sahaj Agrawal, a head of derivative research at Kotak Securities, writes in a note. The Nifty 50 crossed a significant barrier of the 17,800 level and is now expected to trade at 19,000-19,500 level in the medium term, Agrawal added. HDFC Bank contributed the most to the Sensex’s gain, increasing 2.4%. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex, 18 rose, while 12 fell In FX, Bloomberg Dollar Spot index slpped 0.2% back toward Tuesday’s lows, falling as the greenback was weaker against most of its Group-of-10 peers, SEK and JPY are the best performers in G-10, CAD underperforms. Scandinavian currencies and the yen led gains, though most G-10 currencies were trading in narrow ranges. Australia’s dollar reversed an Asia-session loss in European trading. The yen rebounded from a five-year low as investors trimmed short positions on the haven currency and amid a decline in Asian stock markets. Treasuries were generally flat in overnight trading, with the curve flatter into early U.S. session as long-end outperforms, partially unwinding a two-day selloff to start the year with Tuesday witnessing a late block sale in ultra-bond futures. 10-year yields traded as high as 1.650% ahead of the US open after being mostly flat around 1.645%; yields were richer by up to 2bp across long-end of the curve while little change from front-end out to belly, flattening 2s10s, 5s30s spreads by 0.5bp and 1.8bp; gilts outperformed in the sector by half basis point. Focus expected to continue on IG issuance, which has impacted the market in the past couple of days, and in U.S. afternoon session FOMC minutes will be released. IG dollar issuance slate includes EIB $5B 5-year SOFR and Reliance Ind. 10Y/30Y/40Y; thirteen borrowers priced $23.1b across 30 tranches Tuesday, making it the largest single day volume for U.S. high-grade corporate bonds since first week of September. European peripheral spreads widen to core. 30y Italy lags peers, widening ~2bps to Germany with order books above EU43b at the long 30y syndication. Ten-year yields shot up 8bps in New Zealand as its markets reopened following the New Year holiday. Aussie yields advanced 4bps. A 10-year sale in Japan drew a bid-cover ratio of 3.46. In commodities, crude futures were range-bound with WTI near just below $77, Brent nearer $80 after OPEC+ agreed to revive more halted production as the outlook for global oil markets improved, with demand largely withstanding the new coronavirus variant. Spot gold puts in a small upside move out of Asia’s tight range to trade near $1,820/oz. Base metals are mixed. LME nickel lags, dropping over 2%; LME aluminum and lead are up ~0.8%.  Looking at the day ahead, data releases include the December services and composite PMIs from the Euro Area, Italy, France, Germany and the US. On top of that, there’s the ADP’s December report of private payrolls from the US, the preliminary December CPI report from Italy, and December’s consumer confidence reading from France. Separately from the Federal Reserve, we’ll get the minutes of the December FOMC meeting. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 4,783.25 MXAP down 0.4% to 193.71 MXAPJ down 0.9% to 626.67 Nikkei up 0.1% to 29,332.16 Topix up 0.4% to 2,039.27 Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 22,907.25 Shanghai Composite down 1.0% to 3,595.18 Sensex up 0.7% to 60,300.47 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,565.85 Kospi down 1.2% to 2,953.97 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.1% to 494.52 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.09% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1304 Brent Futures down 0.4% to $79.72/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,819.73 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.13% to 96.13 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The U.S. yield curve’s most dramatic steepening in more than three months has little to do with traders turning more optimistic on the economy or betting on a more aggressive timetable for raising interest rates The surge in euro-area inflation that surprised policy makers in recent months is close to its peak, according to European Central Bank Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau Some Bank of Japan officials say it’s likely the central bank will discuss the possible ditching of a long-held view that price risks are mainly on the downward side at a policy meeting this month, according to people familiar with the matter Turkish authorities are keeping tabs on investors who are buying large amounts of foreign currency and asked banks to deter their clients from using the spot market for hedging-related trades as they struggle to contain the lira’s slide Italy is trying to lock in historically low financing costs at the start of a year where inflationary and political pressures could spell an end to super easy borrowing conditions North Korea appears to have launched its first ballistic missile in about two months, after leader Kim Jong Un indicated he was more interested in bolstering his arsenal than returning to stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. A More detailed breakdown of overnight news from Newsquawk Asia-Pac equities traded mostly in the red following the mixed handover from Wall Street, where the US majors maintained a cyclical bias and the NDX bore the brunt of another sizeable Treasury curve bear-steepener. Overnight, US equity futures resumed trade with mild losses and have since been subdued, with participants now gearing up for the FOMC minutes (full Newsquawk preview available in the Research Suite) ahead of Friday’s US jobs report and several scheduled Fed speakers. In APAC, the ASX 200 (-0.3%) was pressured by its tech sector, although the upside in financials cushioned some losses. The Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) was kept afloat by the recent JPY weakness, whilst Sony Group rose some 4% after its chairman announced EV ambitions. The KOSPI (-1.2%) was dealt a blow as North Korea fired a projectile that appeared to be a ballistic missile, but this landed outside of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Hang Seng (-1.6%) saw its losses accelerate with the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbling over 4% as the sector tackled headwinds from Wall Street alongside domestic crackdowns. China Huarong Asset Management slumped over 50% as it resumed trade following a nine-month halt after its financial failure. The Shanghai Comp. (-1.0%) conformed to the mostly negative tone after again seeing a hefty liquidity drain by the PBoC. In the debt complex, the US T-note futures held a mild upside bias since the resumption of trade, and the US curve was somewhat steady. Participants also highlighted large short-covering heading into yesterday’s US close ahead of the FOMC minutes. Top Asian News Asian Stocks Slide as Surging Yields Squeeze Technology Sector China’s Growth Forecast Cut by CICC Amid Covid Outbreaks BOJ Is Said to Discuss Changing Long-Held View on Price Risks Gold Holds Gain With Fed Rate Hikes and Treasury Yields in Focus European equities (Stoxx 600 +0.1%) trade mixed in what has been a relatively quiet session thus far with the final readings of Eurozone services and composite PMIs providing little in the way of fresh impetus for prices. The handover from the APAC region was predominantly a soft one with Chinese bourses lagging once again with the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbling over 4% as the sector tackled headwinds from Wall Street alongside domestic crackdowns. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Comp. (-1%) conformed to the mostly negative tone after again seeing a hefty liquidity drain by the PBoC. Stateside, the ES and RTY are flat whilst the NQ lags once again after yesterday bearing the brunt of another sizeable treasury curve bear-steepener. In terms of house views, analysts at Barclays expect “2022 to be a more normal yet positive year for equities, looking for high single-digit upside and a broader leadership”. Barclays adds that it remains “pro-cyclical (Industrials, Autos, Leisure, reopening plays and Energy OW), and prefer Value to Growth”. Elsewhere, analysts at Citi stated that “monetary tightening may push up longer-dated nominal/real bond yields, threatening highly rated sectors such as IT or Luxury Goods. Alternatively, higher yields could help traditional value trades such as UK equities and Pan-European Financials”. Sectors in Europe are mostly higher, with auto names leading as Renault (+3.4%) sits at the top of the CAC, whilst Stellantis (+0.6%) has seen some support following the announcement that it is planning for a full battery-electric portfolio by 2028. Elsewhere, support has also been seen for Chemicals, Oil & Gas and Banking names with the latter continuing to be supported by the current favourable yield environment. To the downside, Food and Beverage is the clear laggard amid losses in Nestle (-2.6%) following a broker downgrade at Jefferies. Ocado (+5.5%) sits at the top of the Stoxx 600 after being upgraded to buy at Berenberg with analysts expecting the Co. to sign further deals with new and existing grocery e-commerce partners this year. Finally, Uniper (-2.4%) sits near the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after securing credit facilities totalling EUR 10bln from Fortum and KfW. Top European News U.K. Weighs Dropping Covid Test Mandate for Arriving Travelers German Energy Giant Uniper Gets $11 Billion for Margin Calls European Gas Extends Rally as Russian Shipments Remain Curbed Italian Inflation Hits Highest in More Than a Decade on Energy In FX, notwithstanding Tuesday’s somewhat mixed US manufacturing ISM survey and relatively hawkish remarks from Fed’s Kashkari, the week (and year) in terms of data and events really begins today with the release of ADP as a guide for NFP and minutes of the December FOMC that confirmed a faster pace of tapering and more hawkish dot plots. As such, it may not be surprising to see the Buck meandering broadly and index settling into a range inside yesterday’s parameters with less impetus from Treasuries that have flipped from a severe if not extreme bear-steepening incline. Looking at DXY price action in more detail, 96.337 marks the top and 96.053 the bottom at present, and from a purely technical perspective, 96.098 remains significant as a key Fib retracement level. JPY/EUR/AUD/GBP/NZD - All taking advantage of the aforementioned Greenback fade, and with the Yen more eager than others to claw back lost ground given recent underperformance. Hence, Usd/Jpy has retreated further from multi-year highs and through 116.00 to expose more downside potential irrespective of latest reports via newswire sources suggesting the BoJ is expected to slightly revise higher its inflation forecast for the next fiscal year and downgrade the GDP outlook for the year ending in March. Similarly, the Euro is having another look above 1.1300 even though EZ services and composite PMIs were mostly below consensus or preliminary readings and German new car registrations fell sharply, while the Aussie is retesting resistance around 0.7250 and its 50 DMA with some assistance from firm copper prices, Cable remains underpinned near 1.3550 and the 100 DMA and the Kiwi is holding mainly above 0.6800 in the face of stronger Aud/Nzd headwinds. Indeed, the cross is approaching 1.0650 in contrast to Eur/Gbp that is showing signs of changing course following several bounces off circa 0.8333 that equates to 1.2000 as a reciprocal. CHF/CAD - The Franc and Loonie appear a bit less eager to pounce on their US peer’s retrenchment, as the former pivots 0.9150 and latter straddles 1.2700 amidst a downturn in crude pre-Canadian building permits and new house prices. SCANDI/EM - Little sign of any fallout from a slowdown in Sweden’s services PMI as overall risk sentiment remains supportive for the Sek either side of 10.2600 vs the Eur, but the Nok is veering back down towards 10.0000 in line with slippage in Brent from Usd 80+/brl peaks reached on Tuesday. Elsewhere, the Zar is shrugging off a sub-50 SA PMI as Gold strengthens its grip on the Usd 1800/oz handle and the Cnh/Cny are still underpinned after another PBoC liquidity drain and firmer than previous midpoint fix on hopes that cash injections might be forthcoming through open market operations into the banking system from the second half of January to meet rising demand for cash, according to China's Securities Journal. Conversely, the Try has not derived any real comfort from comments by Turkey’s Finance Minister underscoring its shift away from orthodox policies, or insistence that budget discipline will not be compromised. In commodities, crude benchmarks are currently little changed but have been somewhat choppy within a range shy of USD 1/bbl in European hours, in-spite of limited fresh newsflow occurring. For reference, WTI and Brent reside within USD 77.26-76.53/bbl and USD 80.25-79.56/bbl parameters respectively. Updates for the complex so far include Cascade data reporting that gas flows via the Russian Yamal-Europe pipeline in an eastward direction have reduced. As a reminder, the pipeline drew scrutiny in the run up to the holiday period given reverse mode action, an undertaking the Kremlin described as ‘operational’ and due to a lack of requests being placed. Separately, last nights private inventories were a larger than expected draw, however, the internals all printed builds which surpassed expectations. Today’s EIA release is similar expected to show a headline draw and builds amongst the internals. Elsewhere, and more broadly, geopolitics remain in focus with Reuters sources reporting that a rocket attack has hit a military base in proximity to the Baghdad airport which hosts US forces. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver are once again fairly contained though the yellow metal retains the upside it derived around this point yesterday, hovering just below the USD 1820/oz mark. US Event Calendar 7am: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications -5.6%, prior -0.6% 8:15am: Dec. ADP Employment Change, est. 410,000, prior 534,000 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Composite PMI, prior 56.9 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Services PMI, est. 57.5, prior 57.5 2pm: Dec. FOMC Meeting Minutes DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap As you may have seen from my CoTD yesterday all I got for Xmas this year was Omicron, alongside my wife and two of our three kids (we didn’t test Bronte). On Xmas Day I was cooking a late Xmas dinner and I suddenly started to have a slightly lumpy throat and felt a bit tired. Given I’d had a couple of glasses of red wine I thought it might be a case of Bordeaux-2015. However a LFT and PCR test the next day confirmed Covid-19. I had a couple of days of being a bit tired, sneezing and being sniffly. After that I was 100% physically (outside a of bad back, knee and shoulder but I can’t blame that on covid) but am still sniffly today. I’m also still testing positive on a LFT even if I’m out of isolation which tells me testing to get out of isolation early only likely works if you’re completely asymptomatic. My wife was similar to me symptom wise. Maybe slightly worse but she gets flu badly when it arrives and this was nothing like that. The two kids had no real symptoms unless being extremely annoying is one. Indeed spending 10 days cooped up with them in very wet conditions (ie garden activity limited) was very challenging. Although I came out of isolation straight to my home office that was still a very welcome change of scenery yesterday. The covid numbers are absolutely incredible and beyond my wildest imagination a month ago. Yesterday the UK reported c.219k new cases, France c.272k and the US 1.08 million. While these are alarming numbers it’s equally impressive that where the data is available, patients on mechanical ventilation have hardly budged and hospitalisations, while rising, are so far a decent level below precious peaks. Omicron has seen big enough case numbers now for long enough that even though we’ve had another big boost in cases these past few days, there’s nothing to suggest that the central thesis shouldn’t be anything other than a major decoupling between cases and fatalities. See the chart immediately below of global cases for the exponential recent rise but the still subdued levels of deaths. Clearly there is a lag but enough time has passed that suggests the decoupling will continue to be sizeable. It seems the main problem over the next few weeks is the huge number of people self isolating as the variant rips through populations. This will massively burden health services and likely various other industries. However hopefully this latest wave can accelerate the end game for the pandemic and move us towards endemicity faster. Famous last words perhaps but this variant is likely milder, is outcompeting all the others, and our defences are much, much better than they have been (vaccines, immunity, boosters, other therapeutic treatments). Indeed, President Biden directed his team to double the amount of Pfizer’s anti-covid pill Paxlovid they order; he called the pill a game changer. So a difficult few weeks ahead undoubtedly but hopefully light at the end of the tunnel for many countries. Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted yesterday that Britain can ride out the current Omicron wave without implementing any stricter measures, suggesting that learning to live with the virus is becoming the official policy stance in the UK. The head scratcher is what countries with zero-covid strategies will do faced with the current set up. If we’ve learnt anything from the last two years of covid it is that there is almost no way of avoiding it. Will a milder variant change such a stance? Markets seem to have started the year with covid concerns on the back burner as day 2 of 2022 was a lighter version of the buoyant day 1 even if US equities dipped a little led by a big under-performance from the NASDAQ (-1.33%), as tech stocks got hit by higher discount rates with the long end continuing to sell off to start the year. Elsewhere the Dow Jones (+0.59%) and Europe’s STOXX 600 (+0.82%) both climbed to new records, with cyclical sectors generally outperforming once again. Interestingly the STOXX Travel & Leisure index rose a further +3.11% yesterday, having already surpassed its pre-Omicron level. As discussed the notable exception to yesterday’s rally were tech stocks, with a number of megacap tech stocks significantly underperforming amidst a continued rise in Treasury yields, and the rotation towards cyclical stocks as investors take the message we’ll be living with rather than attempting to defeat Covid. The weakness among that group meant that the FANG+ index fell -1.68% yesterday, with every one of the 10 companies in the index moving lower, and that weakness in turn meant that the S&P 500 (-0.06%) came slightly off its record high from the previous session. Showing the tech imbalance though was the fact that the equal weight S&P 500 was +0.82% and 335 of the index rose on the day. So it was a reflation day overall. Staying with the theme, the significant rise in treasury yields we saw on Monday extended further yesterday, with the 10yr yield up another +1.9bps to 1.65%. That means the 10yr yield is up by +13.7bps over the last 2 sessions, marking its biggest increase over 2 consecutive sessions since last September. Those moves have also coincided with a notable steepening in the yield curve, which is good news if you value it as a recessionary indicator, with the 2s10s curve +11.3bps to +88.7bps over the last 2 sessions, again marking its biggest 2-day steepening since last September Those moves higher for Treasury yields were entirely driven by a rise in real yields, with the 10yr real yield moving back above the -1% mark. Conversely, inflation breakevens fell back across the board, with the 10yr breakeven declining more than -7.0bps from an intraday peak of 2.67%, the highest level in more than six weeks, which tempered some of the increase in nominal yields. The decline in breakevens was aided by the release of the ISM manufacturing reading for December, since the prices paid reading fell to 68.2, some way beneath the 79.3 reading that the consensus had been expecting. In fact, that’s the biggest monthly drop in the prices paid measure in over a decade, and leaves it at its lowest level since November 2020. Otherwise, the headline reading did disappoint relative to the consensus at 58.7 (vs. 60.0 expected), but the employment component was above expectations at 54.2 (vs. 53.6 expected), which is its highest level in 8 months and some promising news ahead of this Friday’s jobs report. Staying with US employment, the number of US job openings fell to 10.562m in November (vs. 11.079m expected), but the number of people quitting their job hit a record high of 4.5m. That pushed the quits rate back to its record of 3.0% and just shows that the labour market continues to remain very tight with employees struggling to hire the staff needed. This has been our favourite indicator of the labour market over the last few quarters and it continues to keep to the same trend. Back to bonds and Europe saw a much more subdued movement in sovereign bond yields, although gilts were the exception as the 10yr yield surged +11.7bps as it caught up following the previous day’s public holiday in the UK. Elsewhere however, yields on bunds (-0.2bps), OATs (-1.1bps) and BTPs (+0.9bps) all saw fairly modest moves. Also of interest ahead of tonight’s Fed minutes, there was a story from the Wall Street Journal late yesterday that said Fed officials are considering whether to reduce their bond holdings, and thus beginning QT, in short order. Last cycle, the Fed kept the size of its balance sheet flat for three years after the end of QE by reinvesting maturing proceeds before starting QT. This iteration of QE is set to end in March, so any move towards balance sheet rolloff would be a much quicker tightening than last cycle, which the article suggested was a real possibility. As this cycle has taught us time and again, it is moving much faster than historical precedent, so don’t rely on prior timelines. Balance sheet policy and the timing of any QT will be a major focus in tonight’s minutes, along with any signals for the timing of liftoff and path of subsequent rate hikes. Overnight in Asia markets are trading mostly lower with the KOSPI (-1.45%), Hang Seng (-0.85%), Shanghai Composite (-0.81%) and CSI (-0.67%) dragged down largely by IT stocks while the Nikkei (+0.07%) is holding up better. In China, Tencent cut its stake in a Singapore based company yesterday by selling $ 4 billion worth shares amidst China's regulatory crackdown with investors concerned they will do more. This has helped push the Hang Seng Tech Index towards its lowest close since its inception in July 2020 with Tencent and companies it invested in losing heavily. Moving on, Japan is bringing forward booster doses for the elderly while maintaining border controls in an effort to contain Omicron. Futures are indicating a weaker start in DM markets with the S&P 500 (-0.25%) and DAX (-0.11%) both tracking their Asian peers. Oil prices continued their ascent yesterday, with Brent Crude (+1.20%) hitting its highest level since the Omicron variant first emerged on the scene. Those moves came as the OPEC+ group agreed that they would go ahead with the increase in output in February of 400k barrels per day. And the strength we saw in commodities more broadly last year has also continued to persist into 2022, with copper prices (+1.12%) hitting a 2-month high, whilst soybean prices (+2.49%) hit a 4-month high. Looking at yesterday’s other data, German unemployment fell by -23k in December (vs. -15k expected), leaving the level of unemployment at a post-pandemic low of 2.405m in December. Finally, the preliminary French CPI reading for December came in slightly beneath expectations on the EU-harmomised measure, at 3.4% (vs. 3.5% expected). To the day ahead now, and data releases include the December services and composite PMIs from the Euro Area, Italy, France, Germany and the US. On top of that, there’s the ADP’s December report of private payrolls from the US, the preliminary December CPI report from Italy, and December’s consumer confidence reading from France. Separately from the Federal Reserve, we’ll get the minutes of the December FOMC meeting. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/05/2022 - 08:07.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 5th, 2022

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

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

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

Taibbi: The Democrats" Education Lunacies Will Bring Back Trump

Taibbi: The Democrats' Education Lunacies Will Bring Back Trump Authored by Matt Taibbi via TK News, On Meet the Press Daily last week, Chuck Todd featured a small item about the 23 Democrats not planning on running for re-reelection to congress next year. Todd guessed such a high number expressed a lack of confidence in next year’s midterms, and his guest, University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato, agreed. “This is just another indicator that Democrats will probably have a bad year in 2022,” said Sabato, adding, “They only have a majority of five. It’s pretty tough to see how they hold on.” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona On the full Meet the Press Sunday, Todd in an ostensibly unrelated segment interviewed 1619 Project author and New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones about Republican efforts in some states to ban teaching of her work. He detoured to ask about the Virginia governor’s race, which seemingly was decided on the question, “How influential should parents be about curriculum?” Given that Democrats lost Virginia after candidate Terry McAuliffe said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach,” Todd asked her, “How do we do this?” Hannah-Jones’s first answer was to chide Todd for not remembering that Virginia was lost not because of whatever unimportant thing he’d just said, but because of a “right-wing propaganda campaign that told white parents to fight against their children being indoctrinated.” This was standard pundit fare that for the millionth time showed a national media figure ignoring, say, the objections of Asian immigrant parents to Virginia policies, but whatever: her next response was more notable. “I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught,” Hannah-Jones said. “I’m not a professional educator. I don’t have a degree in social studies or science.” I’m against bills like the proposed Oklahoma measure that would ban the teaching of Jones’s work at all state-sponsored educational institutions. I think bans are counter-productive and politically a terrible move by Republicans, who undercut their own arguments against authoritarianism and in favor of “local control” with such sweeping statewide measures. Still, it was pretty rich hearing the author of The 1619 Project say she lacked the expertise to teach, given that a) many historians agree with her there, yet b) she’s been advocating for schools to teach her dubious work to students all over the country. Even odder were her next comments, regarding McAuliffe’s infamous line about parents. About this, Hannah-Jones said: We send our kids to school because we went our kids to be taught by people with expertise in the subject area… When the governor, or the candidate, said he didn’t think parents should be deciding what’s being taught in school, he was panned for that, but that’s just a fact. In the wake of McAuliffe’s loss, the “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach” line was universally tabbed a “gaffe” by media. I described it in the recent “Loudoun County: A Culture War in Four Acts” series in TK as the political equivalent of using a toe to shoot your face off with a shotgun, but this was actually behind the news cycle. Yahoo! said the “gaffe precipitated the Democrat’s slide in the polls,” while the Daily Beast’s blunter headline was, “Terry McAuliffe’s White-Guy Confidence Just Fucked the Dems.” However, much like the Hillary Clinton quote about “deplorables,” conventional wisdom after the “gaffe” soon hardened around the idea that what McAuliffe said wasn’t wrong at all. In fact, people like Hannah-Jones are now doubling down and applying to education the same formula that Democrats brought with disastrous results to a whole range of other issues in the Trump years, telling voters that they should get over themselves and learn to defer to “experts” and “expertise.” This was a bad enough error in 2016 when neither Democrats nor traditional Republicans realized how furious the public was with “experts” on Wall Street who designed horrifically unequal bailouts, or “experts” on trade who promised technical retraining that never arrived to make up for NAFTA job josses, or Pentagon “experts” who promised we’d find WMDs in Iraq and be greeted as liberators there, and so on, and so on. Ignoring that drumbeat, and advising Hillary Clinton to run on her 25 years of “experience” as the ultimate Washington insider, won the Democratic Party leaders four years of Donald Trump. It was at least understandable how national pols could once believe the public valued their “professional” governance on foreign policy, trade, the economy, etc. Many of these matters probably shouldn’t be left to amateurs (although as has been revealed over and over of late, the lofty reputations of experts often turn out to be based mainly upon their fluidity with gibberish occupational jargon), and disaster probably would ensue if your average neophyte was suddenly asked to revamp, say, the laws governing securities clearing. But parenting? For good reason, there’s no parent anywhere who believes that any “expert” knows what’s better for their kids than they do. Parents of course will rush to seek out a medical expert when a child is sick, or has a learning disability, or is depressed, or mired in a hundred other dilemmas. Even through these inevitable terrifying crises of child rearing, however, all parents are alike in being animated by the absolute certainty — and they’re virtually always right in this — that no one loves their children more than they do, or worries about them more, or agonizes even a fraction as much over how best to shepherd them to adulthood happy and in one piece. Implying the opposite is a political error of almost mathematically inexpressible enormity. This is being done as part of a poisonous rhetorical two-step. First, Democrats across the country have instituted radical policy changes, mainly in an effort to address socioeconomic and racial disparities. These included eliminating standardized testing to the University of California system, doing away with gifted programs (and rejecting the concept of gifted children in general), replacing courses like calculus with data science or statistics to make advancement easier, and pushing a series of near-parodical ideas with the aid of hundreds of millions of dollars from groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that include things like denouncing emphasis on “getting the right answer” or “independent practice over teamwork” as white supremacy. When criticism ensued, pundits first denied as myth all rumors of radical change, then denounced complaining parents as belligerent racists unfit to decide what should be taught to their children, all while reaffirming the justice of leaving such matters to the education “experts” who’d spent the last decade-plus doing things like legislating grades out of existence. This “parents should leave ruining education to us” approach cost McAuliffe Virginia, because it dovetailed with what parents had long been seeing and hearing on the ground. To read the rest, click here and subscribe. Tyler Durden Tue, 12/28/2021 - 10:36.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 28th, 2021

Latest Study Shows Booster Protection Against Omicron Drops 25% After Just 10 Weeks

Latest Study Shows Booster Protection Against Omicron Drops 25% After Just 10 Weeks On Thursday, Britain's Health Security Agency released the third in a string of studies published this week by researchers from South Africa, Scotland and elsewhere, which attempt to quantify how the omicron variant is less threatening to the international public, especially in societies with high-vaccination (or high previous infection) rates. The previous two studies, which we covered earlier this week, purported to show that the new variant is up to 2/3rds less likely to send a patient to the hospital, arguing that the variant is inherently less harmful than earlier strains, setting aside the issue of increased levels of immunity in the population. Additionally, the latest study (courtesy, as we said, of the UKHSA) also offered insights on the limits of vaccines and boosters when it comes to omicron, and, as one might expect given all the strain's mutations, it found that the efficacy of booster shots vs. the new variant begins to wane even more quickly than against earlier variants like delta. To wit, after just 10 weeks after a patients' last booster, immunity has already fallen 15-25%. We wouldn't be surprised to see this data, which support the notion of rapidly waning immunity, eventually be repurposed by the British government, as well as governments in the US, Israel and elsewhere, to justify rolling out the second (then the third, and then the fourth) booster doses to the public - which will then be coerced in getting then via vaccine mandates and "passports" like the green passes that have become popular in Europe. That, of course, would directly contradict the WHO's exhortations for developed countries to spread the vaccine wealth by foregoing boosters and allowing more vaccines to filter through to the developing world, and the 100+ countries where vaccination rates remain low. It's these countries (which include some of the eight southern African countries) that should be prioritized with vaccines before the developed world helps itself to another round of boosters, Dr. Tedros, the head of the WHO, warned following the release of a report by the WHO's advisory committee. The UKHSA also found that patients are between 31% and 45% less likely to attend emergency departments compared to those with delta, and 50-70% less likely to require admission to hospital. These findings were based on data collected from 132 people who were admitted to, or transferred from, emergency departments in English hospitals. Of those, 17 people had received their boosters, 74 people were double vaccinated and 27 were unvaccinated. Eight people had received a single shot, and the vaccination status was unknown for 6 people. Nearly half of those hospitalized were in London alone. The study also found that 14 people have died within 28 days of a diagnosis of omicron, ranging in age from 52 to 96 years old. Comments on the study from top government officials were published by the UKHSA alongside a media digest of the study data. Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive, said: "Our latest analysis shows an encouraging early signal that people who contract the Omicron variant may be at a relatively lower risk of hospitalisation than those who contract other variants. However, it should be noted both that this is early data and more research is required to confirm these findings." "Cases are currently very high in the UK, and even a relatively low proportion requiring hospitalisation could result in a significant number of people becoming seriously ill. The best way that you can protect yourself is to come forward for your first 2 doses of vaccine, or your booster jab and do everything you can to stop onward transmission of the infection." Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "This new UKHSA data on Omicron is promising – while 2 doses of the vaccine aren’t enough, we know boosters offer significant protection against the variant and early evidence suggests this strain may be less severe than Delta." "However, cases of the variant continue to rise at an extraordinary rate – already surpassing the record daily number in the pandemic. Hospital admissions are increasing, and we cannot risk the NHS being overwhelmed." "This is early-stage analysis and we continue to monitor the data hour by hour. It is still too early to determine next steps, so please stay cautious this Christmas and get your booster as soon as possible to protect yourself and your loved ones." To sum up: while omicron is less likely to cause serious harm, it's also more likely to infect a greater number of people. "Even if a smaller proportion of these individuals require hospitalisation, these are still large numbers of people requiring hospital care and pressures on the NHS will increase. It is therefore vital that people continue to exercise caution in order to limit the transmission of the virus." Unfortunately, doling out a new booster dose every 10 weeks simply isn't feasible. So, does this data make individuals more likely to pursue boosters? Or more likely to simply go without since the shots could be put to better use elsewhere, and because of the limitations of their protection? Tyler Durden Tue, 12/28/2021 - 05:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 28th, 2021

CDC Makes Major Changes To Covid Isolation Recos, Treats Unboosted As Unvaxxed For Quarantines

CDC Makes Major Changes To Covid Isolation Recos, Treats Unboosted As Unvaxxed For Quarantines And so, the "scientific" goal posts move again. With even Biden this close to admitting defeat over covid, admitting today that "there is no Federal solution" before quietly getting out of Dodge, the CDC announced late on Monday that is slashing its previous self-isolation recommended period in half, and telling people who have Covid-19 to isolate themselves from others for 5 days if they aren’t experiencing symptoms, down from 10 days previously. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said in a statement Monday that following the 5-day isolation period, people with Covid-19 should wear a mask for 5 days when they are around other people. The new guidance supplants previous recommendations that said people who have tested positive for the virus should isolate for 10 days. While Omicron has been documented to be far more mild than prior versions of covid, cases are still expected to surge in the U.S. following the holidays, threatening confusion and chaos among who are infected or exposed to the virus. The shorter isolation and quarantine periods will allow people to return to work or school sooner than previously permitted. The CDC said in its statement that the shift in guidance was motivated by scienceTM showing the majority of coronavirus transmission occurs early in the course of the illness, in the first day or two before the onset of symptoms and the two to three days that follow. The CDC also updated its recommended quarantine period for people who have been exposed to Covid-19. For those who are unvaccinated or who are eligible for a booster shot but haven’t yet received one, the agency recommends a five-day quarantine, followed by strict use of a mask for five more days despite copious research demonstrating that masks have little impact on virus spread, and despite the fact that the cities with the most aggressive mask requirements have emerged as the biggest covid epicenters. Cases in New York State are now higher than they’ve ever been in Florida, despite all of New York’s mask mandates, vaccine passports and media praise And yes, of course, New York’s collapse is also entirely the fault of Ron DeSantis pic.twitter.com/R28T9pv1t9 — IM (@ianmSC) December 27, 2021 If a five-day quarantine isn’t feasible, an exposed person should wear a well-fitting mask, such as an N95, at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure, the CDC recommended.  Meanwhile, individuals who have received a booster shot don’t need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days, the CDC said. If symptoms occur, individuals should quarantine until a negative test confirms that they don’t have Covid-19. Then again, if symptoms occur after taking a booster shot, perhaps it is time to realize that something is very wrong with the "expert" recommendations... In other words, in a remarkable departure meant to stigmatize not just the unvaxxed but those without a booster shot, vaccinated but unboosted people are will now treated as "unvaccinated" when it comes to close contact quarantines. This, as a social worker noted on Twitter.... "would wreak havoc on school attendance for unboosted kids and teachers!  I can't emphasize enough how this would totally derail the school year. All unboosted teachers would miss 5 days of school EVERY TIME one of their students test positive. And 12-15 year olds who are >6mo out from their 2nd dose aren't even booster eligible!" According to Bloomberg, the new guidance "could entice more Americans to seek another dose of a vaccine", although with millions of "breakthrough" cases amid residual concerns about vaccine side-effects, it's unclear just how the billionaire's media empire came to this profound conclusion. Just under one-third of fully vaccinated people in the U.S. have received a booster, according to the CDC. We don't expect this number to rise substantially. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/27/2021 - 18:01.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 27th, 2021

Israel Starts 4th Covid Dose Trial While Pushing Booster On Children 12 & Up

Israel Starts 4th Covid Dose Trial While Pushing Booster On Children 12 & Up Israel has been at the forefront of countries speedily rolling out Covid-19 vaccines for its population of just over 9 million, earlier in the fall becoming the first nation to initiate a widespread booster program. Recently a government advisory panel went so far as to recommend a booster shot for children ages 12 to 15. On Monday Israel has initiated trials of a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose, or its second round of a booster, which is being conducted on 150 medical workers who took their third booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in August, according to The Associated Press. Israel is believed to be the first country in the world to initiate such a program as a second booster. AFP via Getty Images: Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett receiving a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot The country is already considered the world's leader in administering a booster dose to the population, with 4.2 million of the total population having received one. This as it is continually updating the requirements of what it means to be "fully vaccinated" - which impacts citizens' ability to use the so-called Green Pass for access to restaurants, bars, gyms, and other public venues. The trial is expected to take six months, so it's unlikely that all Israelis will be forced to roll up their sleeves for yet a fourth shot until after this period: Gili Regev-Yochay, the director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit at Sheba, explained that the study will assess the antibody boost from a fourth shot and monitor any potential adverse reactions, and if the second boost reduces the risk of infection from omicron, according to CBS News.  The participants will be monitored for six months after receiving their fourth dose. However, a fourth shot is already set to be offered to people over the age of 60 or anyone with a compromised immune system, including also frontline health care workers. People will be advised to wait four months after they receive their third shot to get the fourth one. CNBC reports, "A Health Ministry expert panel last week recommended that Israel become the first country to offer a fourth vaccine dose - also known as a second booster - to those aged over 60, those suffering from compromised immune systems, and medical workers." All of this begs the question: does the third shot work? if not, then will a fourth? After all, Israelis like much of the rest of the world are wondering 'when will it all end?'... An important weekend development widely reported in Israeli media is illustrative:  Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s daughter tested positive for the coronavirus, and will enter quarantine, a spokesman for the prime minister said Sunday afternoon. The prime minister left Sunday’s cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights after receiving news of his daughter’s positive test and was also self-isolating, according to the spokesperson. Bennett took a rapid antigen test before attending the meeting and tested negative. The daughter, who is 14 years old, was vaccinated against COVID-19 in June. Via The Times of Israel: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with his family, in the Knesset in Jerusalem So the leader of one of the most highly vaccinated countries on the earth had to run out of an important cabinet meeting due to exposure to Covid-19. Bennett reportedly later tested negative.  One would think that after himself being triple-vaxxed, he would have had a little more confidence in the vaccine and stayed in the cabinet meeting. But it seems the PM's "faith" in the "trust the science" mantra is waning.  Tyler Durden Mon, 12/27/2021 - 20:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 27th, 2021

Wal-Mart Faces Backlash From Chinese Consumers As Sams" Club Removes Items From Xinjiang

Wal-Mart Faces Backlash From Chinese Consumers As Sams' Club Removes Items From Xinjiang As much as American megacorps have tried to balance their economic interests in China with Washington's exhortations about genocide in Xinjiang, they're increasingly finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. They can either be denounced at home for using cotton and other items produced in Xinjiang, or face a boycott or potential ban in China if they speak out. Much to Washington's delight, it appears Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the US, which also has a thriving operation in China, has chosen the latter. To wit, Bloomberg reports that Chinese social media platforms like Weibo erupted with criticism aimed at Wal-Mart after the company was accused of blacklisting products from Xinjiang from its Sams' Club stores in the country. BBG added that the backlash "raises the risk that the world's biggest retailer will be swept into escalating tensions between China and the US over the western province." Posts on Chinese social media showing zero results for the word "Xinjiang" once plugged into Sam's Club's Chinese-market app were going viral, with some even making it into the US social media ecosystem. The issue was the top-trending item on Weibo as of Friday afternoon, with more than 170MM views and over 10K. Some even claimed that Chinese customers were withdrawing their Sams' Club membership in droves. Europe and the United States press the Chinese people's cohesion switch again and again! Because Wal-Mart and Sam used U.S. laws in China and removed goods from Xinjiang, China, the Chinese people spontaneously withdrew from the Wal-Mart and Sam membership system. pic.twitter.com/GFko9K8GKM — happymi (@happymi20) December 27, 2021 Users claimed they had previously purchased items like apples and dates from Xinjiang that had apparently been de-stocked. All this is happening one day after President Joe Biden signed a law barring all goods produced in Xinjiang from the US market. According to BBG, it's unclear whether goods produced in Xinjiang were ever sold at Sam's Club, and if so, when they were removed by the retailer. Brands from Dolce & Gabbana and fast-fashion retailer H&M have all ignited similar backlash from the Chinese people over what are perceived to be insults to the Chinese nation. In order to try and avoid facing a similar backlash, Intel has already apologized to Chinese customers after asking suppliers not to use any labor or products sourced from Xinjiang to ensure compliance with the new US law, which bars all products or services from Xinjiang from being sold in the US unless the seller can prove they weren't made with forced labor. But Wal-Mart is really stuck here. It's already struggling to keep up with the competitive supermarket industry in China. Sam's Club has been a bright spot due to its sales of mostly imported goods (it's unclear how many products from Xinjiang were even sold by the retailer previously). Wal-Mart plans to have 100 stores in the country by 2028, up from just 33 currently. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/27/2021 - 07:08.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 27th, 2021

Who Got It Right? A Look Back At Expert Predictions For 2021

Who Got It Right? A Look Back At Expert Predictions For 2021 Last year, the editorial team at Visual Capitalist scoured through 200+ reports, articles, podcasts, and more, to create our 2021 Prediction Consensus—a big picture and aggregated look at the key trends that experts predict for the year ahead. If 2021 taught us anything, it’s that things can change at the drop of the hat. Amidst all this uncertainty, how many of the highlighted predictions came to fruition, and which ones didn’t pan out exactly as expected? Before we start, it’s worth revisiting the prediction bingo board for 2021: Below, we’ve evaluated a handful of the predictions for 2021 to determine whether or not they actually materialized. The Easy-to-Quantify Predictions for 2021 Some of the predictions were easy to quantify—like the price of Bitcoin, or GDP targets. PREDICTION 1: Bitcoin hits the $50,000 mark Did it happen? Yes As many of the experts forecasted, Bitcoin, and the crypto space in general, had another explosive year in 2021. Bitcoin’s price rose 72%—from $29,000 at the start of 2021 to roughly $50,000 today (after reaching an all-time high of $69,000 in November). The price increase wasn’t without its fair share of volatility, with Bitcoin suffering three different pullbacks of at least 30%, the greatest being a 50% correction in May. Bitcoin’s ascent is impressive considering the amount of attention and capital that poured into other cryptocurrencies and sectors in the space. Layer one blockchains like Ethereum (+483% in 2021) and Solana (+12,500% in 2021) greatly outpaced bitcoin’s price growth, and NFTs emerged as one of the hottest markets this year. PREDICTION 2: Global GDP grows 5-6% Did it happen? Yes By the end of 2021, Euromonitor International expects global real GDP to increase by 5.7%, which aligns perfectly with expert predictions from last year. However, despite the global economy’s overall growth, this year hasn’t come without its challenges. Supply chain issues have triggered a rise in global commodity prices. And since supply constraints are likely to continue into 2022 or beyond, global inflation is expected to keep rising, which could create a drag on real GDP growth. PREDICTION 3: Positive growth for small cap stocks Did it happen? Yes The S&P Small Cap 600 Index generated a return of 24.6% from December 31, 2020, to December 7, 2021. This mimics the performance of the S&P 500 Index, which grew by 24.8% over the same time period. Many analysts expect U.S. small caps to continue their momentum into 2022. Historically, the asset class enjoys significant gains during times of robust economic growth. For context, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects U.S. GDP to grow by 5.2% in 2022, outpacing many other developed economies. The Harder-to-Quantify Predictions Many of the predictions were more subjective than GDP or stock-market growth, and therefore, were harder to measure. So, for these predictions, we polled nine members of our editorial team to gauge whether or not they panned out as expected. We also sifted through hundreds of individual predictions from last year to see which experts got it right, and we’ll be highlighting some of them below. Let’s dive in. PREDICTION 4: ESG reaches a tipping point in 2021 ESG continued its upward trajectory in 2021. In Q3 2021 alone, the number of sustainable funds jumped 51% to roughly 7,500 worldwide, and assets under management hit a record $3.9 trillion. In the U.S., sustainable fund assets surpassed the $300B mark. As sustainable investing continues to become a top priority among investors, companies are starting to be held accountable for their sustainability efforts. And those that don’t get on board could see it negatively affect their bottom line. Who saw this coming? DWS Asset Management Group said, “ESG will continue to play an increasingly important role in investing.” Fidelity Investments, an American financial services company also got it right, claiming “ESG and climate funds have outperformed conventional funds throughout 2020 and are likely to continue to do so in 2021.” PREDICTION 5: Work from home is here to stay Even as lockdown restrictions eased, and the world took small steps towards normalcy, workers across the globe continued to work from home. By the end of the year, Gartner predicts that 51% of knowledge workers worldwide will be working remotely, up from 27% in 2019. Luckily, remote work hasn’t seemed to have a negative impact on employee engagement. In fact, a recent Gallup survey found that 36% of American respondents felt engaged at work, a near all-time high. Who predicted this? Forrester did: “Hybrid work models will become the norm for information workers.” Blue Frontier also predicted this, “Most companies will employ a hybrid work model, with fewer people in the office and more full-time remote employees.” PREDICTION 6: SPACs will fall out of favor Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) waned in 2021—despite a strong start to the year. The market for “blank check” companies peaked in March of 2021, when a record 109 SPACs were issued. The SEC cracked down on accounting practices, and Rep. Maxine Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee remarked she had “deep concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability that is a hallmark of the SPAC process”. However, blank check firms haven’t disappeared completely. Singaporean startup, Grab launched on the Nasdaq in late 2021, reaching a roughly $40 billion valuation—a record according to data from Dealogic. As well, issuance is creeping back upward, a sign that the SPAC market could be staging a comeback. Who saw this coming? John Battelle, co-founder of Wired Magazine, wrote “In 2021, SPACs will lose their luster.” PREDICTION 7: China will have a strong 2021 China had an impressive first half of the year, but growth slowed down by Q3. Interestingly, it wasn’t so much COVID-19 that ended up hurting the Chinese economy. Rather, the country struggled with supply chain issues, along with a drastic regulation crackdown by the CCP that ended up hamstringing domestic industries. Investors were so spooked by the Chinese government’s crackdown, that from Oct 2020 to Oct 2021, investors sold more than $1 trillion in Chinese equities. Who got this right? James McGregor, China chair of public affairs firm APCO Worldwide, said that “China is going to be ahead of everyone economically, however, its global reputation is not going to improve.” PREDICTION 8: Big Tech backlash will continue From congressional hearings to massive fines, the tech backlash continued into 2021. Big Tech CEOs were hauled before the U.S. government numerous times, including the misinformation hearings of May 2021 and the antitrust hearing in July. Tech companies also faced a rough ride in Europe as regulators didn’t hesitate to hand out hefty fines. In just two examples, WhatsApp was hit with a €225 million fine and forced to make changes to its privacy policy, and Amazon was fined over €1.1 billion by Italy’s antitrust watchdog for abusing its dominant market position. While Big Tech in general faced plenty of criticism, it was Facebook (now Meta) that bore the brunt of the scorn. This was especially the case after former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked thousands of internal documents to the Wall Street Journal, which Haugen claimed shows that the company prioritizes profits over the wellbeing of its users. The pressure is on for U.S. lawmakers to enact new regulations that hold social media companies more accountable, but decisions on what these new regulations would look like haven’t been made. In contrast, European regulators have managed to get a plan in motion. The EU plans on enacting the Digital Services Act by 2022, which would require tech companies to immediately remove hate speech and other illegal content from their platforms, or pay significant fines. Two powerful counterpoints to the bluster directed at tech companies are that stock prices are largely up and users still continue to use these services. Even Facebook, which is arguably the most heavily-criticized brand has never seen a drop in users, quarter-on-quarter. Who predicted this? John Battelle saw this one coming, too: “Nothing will get done on tech regulation in the US.” PREDICTION 9: Millennials answer the call of the suburbs Millennials did move away from the city, but not so much to the suburbs. Rather, small towns and rural areas saw the most growth as people streamed away from large, expensive cities. As people migrated from cities, businesses followed suit. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, urban centers in America experienced a net migration loss (meaning more businesses left the area than moved in) while small towns and rural areas in the U.S. experienced a net migration gain. Who saw this coming? Joe Tyrrell, president, ICE Mortgage Technology “People are shifting away from metropolitan areas to more rural ones. We expect this migration trend to continue as people redefine what home means for them.” What’s in Store for 2022? We publish our annual Predictions Consensus to give readers a big-picture understanding of what experts predict for the coming year. With supply chain issues, climate woes, and geopolitical tensions continuing to simmer, 2022 is set to be just as uncertain as 2021 was. To help prep you for another turbulent year, keep an eye out for our 2022 Predictions Consensus, which will be published in early January. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/25/2021 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 25th, 2021