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Judge sides with CytoDyn against activist shareholder group mounting proxy fight

The court found that the dissident shareholders who are trying to remake the board played "fast and loose" in responses to key inquiries......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsOct 13th, 2021

Dog Whistles In Arbery Closings Seek Juror Nullification

Dog Whistles In Arbery Closings Seek Juror Nullification; Paucity of Black Jurors Increases Odds Against Convictions Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The Constitution Right Of Juror Nullification WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 23, 2021) – As several different commentators and pundits were quick to point out, defense arguments in the Ahmaud Arbery case contained […] Dog Whistles In Arbery Closings Seek Juror Nullification; Paucity of Black Jurors Increases Odds Against Convictions if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more The Constitution Right Of Juror Nullification WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 23, 2021) - As several different commentators and pundits were quick to point out, defense arguments in the Ahmaud Arbery case contained dog whistles seemingly aimed at convincing at least 1 of the 11 White jurors to exercise his constitution right of juror nullification by refusing to vote "guilty" even if the evidence clearly shows guilt under existing law, argues public interest law professor John Banzhaf. The dog whistles - coded or suggestive language ("whispering") addressed to a specific group while trying not to provoke opposition from a more general audience; language that appears normal to the majority but communicates specific things to intended audiences - was so blatant that a commentator on MSNBC called it a "decision to put down the whispering and the dog whistle and pick up the bullhorn," and a noted defense attorney on CNN called this use of the race card "reprehensible" and "unethical." "Juror nullification" (similar to "jury nullification") occurs when a juror exercises his constitutionally protected right to refuse to vote "guilty" even when he is convinced of a defendant's guilt under the law - which could occur because he simply believes that a conviction would be unfair or unjust under the circumstances, when he wants to "sent a message" to the prosecutor or hopes to encourage citizens to fight crime (as in this as well as in the Rittenhouse case), out of sympathy for a defendant, or simply because of different perceptions and experiences based upon race, racial bias, racial hatred, or other reasons. The odds that 1 or more jurors will exercise this right is much higher because there are 11 White jurors out of 12, rather than 9 which would more closely mirror the racial makeup of the surrounding county [Glynn] from which the jurors were selected [26% Black], or 6 Black jurors if the jury more closely reflected the racial makeup of Satilla Shores [56% Black], the town in which the shooting took place. If we assume that no Black juror would exercise this constitutional right to vote "not guilty" here, but that the chance that any single White juror would do so is even as high as 1.0%, the chances that at least 1 juror would refuse to convict because of juror nullification [about 10%] with 11 out of 12 White jurors is about 20% higher than if there were 9 White jurors, and a full 78% higher than if there were only 6 White ones. On the other hand, if we assume that the odds that any single 1 of the 11 current White jurors would exercise this right is as high as 5.0%, the chance that the defendants would be freed because of juror nullification, even if every juror believed that the evidence required a conviction, is about 43%. However, if there were only 6 White jurors, and the chance that any one would exercise his right of juror nullification was again 5.0%, the odds of verdict influenced by juror nullification is only about half that [26%]. Juror's Vote These simple mathematical calculations assume that each juror's vote is completely independent of how any other juror would vote, but this ignores the great body of evidence about how groups (including 12-person juries) reach decisions, as well as common sense and everyday experience. Any one juror considering being the sole holdout by voting "not guilty" - i.e. voting contrary to the views of all of the other jurors - would feel enormous group pressure not to, especially if he is challenged by some of the other jurors during jury deliberations to explain or otherwise justify his vote. But if a second juror - even one who previously was just on the fence about how to vote - voices even lukewarm support for not convicting, the odds that either of these jurors (if not both) would vote "not guilty" becomes much higher because the potential holdout has now found some support for his views and is no longer trying to stand alone. In addition to juror nullification, many experts have suggested - again based upon extensive research - that Black and White jurors may well honestly perceive events such as this one quite differently. For example, Black jurors - based upon their own experiences (e.g., being pulled over for "driving while Black") and/or the experiences and views of their friends (many of whom are likely to be Black) - might be less likely to believe that the defendants were in fact seeking to make a citizen's arrest and therefore might be legally justified in doing so under these circumstances; a narrative White jurors might honestly be more likely to accept, and to motivate then to vote "not guilty" out of honest conviction, rather than to exercise their rights under the juror nullification doctrine. So, whether the reason that White jurors might vote not to convict is based upon juror nullification (under which they believe that a defendant is guilty), or is based upon a different perception that White rather than Black jurors might have of the same situation (under which they believe that a defendant is not guilty), the chances that one or more defendants will not be convicted if there are 11 White jurors in likely to be much greater than if the jurors more closely reflected the racial composition of the county from which they were drawn, or the town in which the shooting occurred, suggests the law professor. Moreover, suggests Banzhaf, if there is no conviction, there will be even more reason to suspect that juror nullification played a role - something jurors themselves will be very reluctant to admit. Updated on Nov 23, 2021, 1:11 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkNov 23rd, 2021

Authentic Brands To Postpone IPO Plans Over Stakes Deal

Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the clothing retail firm whose portfolio includes brands such as Nautica, Forever 21, and Nine West, has announced it will postpone its initial public offering plans. The company will instead sell many of its equity stakes to CVC Capital, hedge fund HPS Investment Partners, and a pool of existing stakeholders. Q3 […] Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the clothing retail firm whose portfolio includes brands such as Nautica, Forever 21, and Nine West, has announced it will postpone its initial public offering plans. The company will instead sell many of its equity stakes to CVC Capital, hedge fund HPS Investment Partners, and a pool of existing stakeholders. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Authentic Brands Group As reported by CNBC, the deal announced on Monday will take the company to a $12.7 billion valuation. The move takes place after ABG had filed for an IPO in July this year, with Executive Jamie Salter updating that the group will aim at going public sometime in 2023 or 2024. “Authentic Brands’ portfolio companies include apparel retailers Forever 21 and Aeropostale, department store chain Barneys New York, men’s suit maker Brooks Brothers and Sports Illustrated magazine.” The company’s purchase of sports brand Reebok is expected to close by the beginning of next year, with which ABG plans to expand its brand portfolio. In a phone interview with CNBC, Salter said that “The IPO climate is ridiculous. I think we would have gotten a massive valuation... maybe even more than what we sold the business for. But guess what? I’d rather be private.” Regarding the stakes deal, Chris Baldwin, a managing partner at CVC, revealed some of the reasons behind the move: “We plan to work closely with the ABG team to execute on their strategic priorities, particularly around international expansion.” Strategy Before Monday’s deal announcement, CNBC had reported that Authentic Brands was aiming at reaching a $10 billion valuation in its IPO. The deal with CVC and HPS is estimated to be done in December, “at which point the PE firm and hedge fund will each retain a seat on Authentic Brands’ board of directors.” Regarding the company’s strategy, Salter said: “We have the same playbook today as we had yesterday. You’ll hear about more acquisitions by the end of this year.” CNBC reports that BlackRock will remain Authentic Brands’ leading shareholder, as it has been since 2019, with U.S. mall owner Simon Property Group Inc (NYSE:SPG), Leonard Green & Partners, Brookfield, General Atlantic, and basketball player Shaquille O’Neal holding on to their equity positions. “When it filed to go public, Authentic Brands reported that its net income in 2020 jumped to $211 million from $72.5 million a year earlier, while its revenue rose about 2% to $489 million.” Updated on Nov 22, 2021, 11:16 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkNov 22nd, 2021

Paucity of Black Jurors Could Free Arbrey’s Killers

Paucity of Black Jurors Could Free Arbrey’s Killers; Juror Nullification More Likely After “Directed Verdict” Charge Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Ahmaud Arbery’s Murders Could Go Free WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 22, 2021) – The jury deciding the fate of three White men accused of murdering Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery could go free […] Paucity of Black Jurors Could Free Arbrey’s Killers; Juror Nullification More Likely After “Directed Verdict” Charge if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Icahn eBook! Get our entire 10-part series on Carl Icahn and other famous investors in PDF for free! Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet or print it! Sign up below. NO SPAM EVER (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Ahmaud Arbery's Murders Could Go Free WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 22, 2021) - The jury deciding the fate of three White men accused of murdering Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery could go free because of juror nullification, racial bias, or simply because of different perceptions of the events which occurred based upon race, and the fact that only 1 out of 12 jurors is Black very substantially increases the chances of this outcome, says noted mathematician and law professor John Banzhaf. Resort to juror nullification is even more likely now since a last minute unexpected charge undercut the defense's primary legal argument, and caused it to complain that the effect of the judge's instruction is "directing a verdict for the state" - in this situation, a judicial determination that the defendants are guilty as charged. More specifically, the judge instructed the jury that the applicable law governing citizen's arrest applies only if person actually sees a felony committed and acts without delay; even though the second sentence of the statute [O.C.G.A. 17-4-60 (2010) Grounds For Arrest], upon which the defendants apparently hoped to relay, reads: "If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion." "Juror nullification" (similar to "jury nullification") occurs when a juror exercises his constitutionally protected right to refuse to vote "guilty" even when he is convinced of a defendant's guilt under the law - which could occur because he simply believes that a conviction would be unfair or unjust under the circumstances, when he wants to "sent a message" to the prosecutor or hopes to encourage citizens to fight crime (as in this as well as in the Rittenhouse case), out of sympathy for a defendant, or simply because of different perceptions and experiences based upon race, racial bias, racial hatred, or other reasons. The Racial Makeup Of Satilla Shores The odds that 1 or more jurors will exercise this right is much higher because there are 11 White jurors out of 12, rather than 9 which would more closely mirror the racial makeup of the surrounding county [Glynn] from which the jurors were selected [26% Black], or 6 Black jurors if the jury more closely reflected the racial makeup of Satilla Shores [56% Black], the town in which the shooting took place. If we assume that no Black juror would exercise this constitutional right to vote "not guilty" here, but that the chance that any single White juror would do so is even as high as 1.0%, the chances [about 10%] that at least 1 juror would refuse to convict with 11 out of 12 White jurors is about 20% higher than if there were 9 White jurors, and a full 78% higher than if there were only 6 White ones. On the other hand, if we assume that the odds that any single 1 of the 11 current White jurors would exercise this right is as high as 5.0%, the chance that the defendants would be freed because of juror nullification, even if every juror believed that the evidence required a conviction, is about 43%. However, if there were only 6 White jurors, and the chance that any one would exercise his right of juror nullification was again 5.0%, the odds of verdict influenced by juror nullification is only about half that [26%]. These simple mathematical calculations assume that each juror's vote is completely independent of how any other juror would vote, but this ignores the great body of evidence about how groups (including 12-person juries) reach decisions, as well as common sense and everyday experience. Any one juror considering being the sole holdout by voting "not guilty" - i.e. voting contrary to the views of all of the other jurors - would feel enormous group pressure not to, especially if he is challenged by some of the other jurors during jury deliberations to explain or otherwise justify his vote. But if a second juror - even one who previously was just on the fence about how to vote - voices even lukewarm support for not convicting, the odds that either of these jurors (if not both) would vote "not guilty" becomes much higher because the potential holdout has now found some support for his views and is no longer trying to stand alone. White And Black Jurors In addition to juror nullification, many experts have suggested - again based upon extensive research - that Black and White jurors may well honestly perceive events such as this one quite differently. For example, Black jurors - based upon their own experiences (e.g., being pulled over for "driving while Black") and/or the experiences and views of their friends (many of whom are likely to be Black) - might be less likely to believe that the defendants were in fact seeking to make a citizen's arrest and therefore might be legally justified in doing so under these circumstances; a narrative White jurors might honestly be more likely to accept, and to motivate then to vote "not guilty" out of honest conviction, rather than to exercise their rights under the juror nullification doctrine. So, whether the reason that White jurors might vote not to convict is based upon juror nullification (under which they believe that a defendant is guilty), or is based upon a different perception that White rather than Black jurors might have of the same situation (under which they believe that a defendant is not guilty), the chances that one or more defendants will not be convicted if there are 11 White jurors in likely to be much greater than if the jurors more closely reflected the racial composition of the county from which they were drawn, or the town in which the shooting occurred, suggests the law professor. Moreover, suggests Banzhaf, if there is not a conviction after the judge has delivered this so-called "directed verdict" charge, there will be even more reason to suspect that juror nullification played a role - something jurors themselves will be very reluctant to admit. Updated on Nov 22, 2021, 12:23 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkNov 22nd, 2021

A Brief History Of West African Slavery

A Brief History Of West African Slavery Submitted by ICE-9 via The Burning Platform Slave [sleyv] from Middle English, from Old French sclave, from Medieval Latin sclāvus (“slave”), from Late Latin Sclāvus (“Slavic Person”), from Byzantine Greek Σκλάβος (Sklábos), from Proto-Slavic slověninъ … The seminal image many 50+ year old Americans have regarding the West African slave trade’s operating model can be traced back to the 1977 television miniseries Roots.  Some of you may recall sitting in front of your CRT television screen unknowingly watching the roots of a future social justice movement unfold before your eyes as a gang of European men magically appear deep within the Heart of Darkness wielding nets, superior numbers, and incredible brutality and snatch up a young and happy Kunta Kinte from his ancestral homeland. Like me, I bet the knot in your gut got tighter at each stage as Kunta Kinte was first shipped off in chains to a slave depot, sold at auctioned, and finally sent to America where his foot got cut off and he was renamed Toby.  The miniseries was a monumental success at implanting those first seeds of suburban white guilt into what had previously been infertile terrain.  Afterwards, many Americans could never innocently watch OJ Simpson run through airports in quite the same way. Roots was the initial vector that dug its pernicious roots into the formerly oblivious white collective consciousness.  It succeeded where back in the 1960s continuous years of three minute lead story action clips on the Six O’clock Evening News showing groups of helpless southern Negroes getting pummeled by police truncheons and slammed with water cannons had failed.  Thus those January nights back in 1977 unleashed the power of humanized myth that unequivocally proved superior to the old ways of cold impersonal facts.  It was through this new found power of myth and the visceral emotions it conjured that a primordial wokeness was spawned. Today, when discussing even the most oblique references to slavery in America, the emotions ignite, misguided passions reign supreme, facts equate to racism, and the phenomenology of history devolves into one where history becomes but a construct derived to aid and abet a white supremacist patriarchy.  Case in point – according to current woke orthodoxy, evil cis-male Europeans just up and sailed 3,500 miles south to forgotten lands like Zenaga, trekked hundreds of miles inland without roads, maps, or logistic support, and – according to some extraordinary unverified estimates – kidnapped up to six million innocent Africans. But was this the reality on the ground in West Africa circa 1619, or did Europeans instead rely on intermediaries to conduct their dangerous, high opex dirty work and if so, who were these intermediaries?  Do Americans have an accurate understanding of the West African slavery supply chain, or have they instead meekly decided to go along to get along and ingest without question a toxic narrative that is an antipathy encumbered product tainted by a combination of pop culture and political agenda?  And last, did slavery in West Africa materialize out of thin air with the first appearance of Europeans, or did it exist long before their arrival? The answer to this last question is both morally and legally significant, as it could nullify any and all claims to both tangible and ethical debts of reparation borne by ancestral liability.  For if Caucasian Americans are collectively guilty – including those who immigrated here after the Civil War – as a result of their ancestors’ theoretical participation in the West African slave trade, would not a basis be equally established to extend slavery’s collective culpability to African Americans if it were shown that their ancestors too participated to an equal degree in the West African slave trade?  Would not equal culpability on both ancestral sides of the Atlantic nullify any and all claims by one party against the other?  Further still, if slavery in West Africa was shown to be prevalent long before the arrival of Europeans, based on the premise of hereditary culpability, then slavery in America could no longer exist as some kind of alleged “Original Sin”. The forthwith exposition can be considered a template for countering the unreasonable and fanciful woke dogma surrounding the realities of West African slavery and specifically, the false claims regarding Europe’s and America’s sole complicity in this industry.  It is an attempt – described here in broken wokespeak – to deconstruct the prevailing narrative derived to aid and abet a People of Color aligned, non-binary, trans-supremacist heterarchy.  Let us begin our journey of enlightenment. The Songhai Empire as Gateway to Europe’s Appetite for African Slaves Between the 4th and early 16th centuries AD, through a succession of kingdoms that included Wagadou (Ghana), Mali, and Songhai, the West African Sahel was among the wealthiest regions on earth during a period when most of Europe wallowed in medieval feudalism.  Prior to the discovery of the Americas, West Africa was the world’s largest source of gold – so much gold in fact that when the Malian king Mansa Musa visited Mecca during his 14th century hajj, his 60,000 strong retinue (including 12,000 slaves) distributed so much gold that he crashed its value and created a decade of economic chaos on the Arabian peninsula. The Niger River during this time possessed six times more arable land than the Nile.  In the adjacent Sahara to the north, Africans operated extensive salt mining operations.  With the arrival of the Arabs in the 8th century AD, a prodigious iron smelting and blacksmithing industries occupied entire villages from one end of the Sahel to the other.  The West African political economy was such that no king ever enforced strict ownership over the entirety of his realm, so after the millet harvest an African peasant could earn good extra income panning for alluvial gold, mining iron ore, harvesting trees to make charcoal fuel for iron smelting, or travelling north to labor in the salt mines. The Sahel during this period was awash in food and gold and large prosperous cities like Gao grew into architectural wonders.  So what happened that would drain not only the wealth of an established long-standing power center yet leave nothing behind but piles of dirt from what were formerly majestic structures of timber and adobe brick?  The short answer is that it all fell to pieces due to horses. In the 9th and 10th centuries AD, trade caravans from what are today Morocco and Algeria began regularly making their way south through the Sahara desert during the winter months. These caravans initially brought with them manufactured goods and luxury items to exchange for gold, ivory, specialty woods, animal skins, and salt.  But during the 13th century these caravans started supplying a vital military component to the various competing rulers of the Sahel – Barb horses.  Ownership of horses gave each ruler a cavalry, and ownership of large herds could facilitate military superiority over rivals. The Malian, Hausa, Mossi, Bornu, Kanem and Songhai cavalries regularly battled each other for over three hundred years to what could be considered an equilibrium sometimes punctuated with transient victories and an occasional ebb or flow of juxtaposed borders.  Continuous combat was made possible only by a steady supply of Barb horses from the Maghreb, a market that traders were happy to oblige as the supply of gold from the Sahel appeared endless. But with its monsoonal climate and tropical diseases like trypanosomiasis, the Sahel Africans found it difficult to breed horses – the local Dongola sub-breed had a short life expectancy – and thus a steady flow of imported Barb horses were required to both replenish the high equine mortality rates and maintain at least military parity with the surrounding kingdoms. These imported horses were expensive and were initially paid for with alluvial gold, which was starting to go into productive decline during the 15th century at about the same time the Songhai king Sonni Ali Ber led a successful campaign to defeat his enemy Mali and consolidate rule over the Sahel from Lake Chad to the Cap-Vert peninsula.  So the height of Songhai power coincided with maximum operating costs to retain that power just as alluvial gold production from the Niger River went into decline. Saddled with the mounting expense of maintaining many cavalry regiments stretching across an 1,800 mile expanse, the Songhai lords began to launch slave raids upon the various Sahel peoples.  So as the 15th and 16th centuries progressed, slaves rather than gold became more and more the medium of exchange between the Songhai lords and the horse traders of the Maghreb.  As these traders brought more and more slaves to the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, most were purchased by Arabs but many were sold on to Europeans where they were employed as domestic servant in wealthy cities like London and Antwerp and were considered a high status symbol – the “negars and blackmoores” of 16th century Elizabethan England.  So it was not the Europeans that first procured slavery in West Africa, but the Songhai themselves that introduced Europe to African slaves via Arab and Berber intermediaries.  Europeans at this time were a minor end customer, where the primary slave demand was provided by Arabs. As the 16th century ground out successive years, the gold really began to play out.  Continuous and devastating slave raids depopulated the Niger River goldfield regions – crashing not only gold but also food production – and drove its inhabitants onto marginal lands that had been earlier deforested to manufacture charcoal for the formerly prodigious iron smelting industry.  Over a period of 200 years the once prosperous Sahel was transformed into a land inhabited by subsistence food scavengers and all powerful cavalry lords where the incessant demand for horses laid economic waste to this once prosperous region. With Songhai power in the late 16th century at its nadir as a result of internecine strife and succession wars among the dead king Askia Daoud’s many sons, the Sultan of Morocco, Ahmad al-Mansur, took advantage of the ensuing political instability and sent a military expedition across the Sahara and in 1591 these 4,000 Moroccans and their cannons defeated the Songhai at the battle of Tondibi. Thus with the defeat of the powerful Songhai Empire the coast of West Africa south of the Arab stronghold Nouakchott was left wide open to European maritime exploitation.  By 1625 the Dutch had established a permanent settlement at Gorée and the Portuguese likewise at Portudal, both located in modern day Senegal.  These initial European forays onto West African soil provided the vital resupply anchorage that enabled further permanent settlements along the entirety of the Gulf of Guinea and as far south as Namibia.  And it is at this point where the Kunta Kinte mythology begins with the permanent settlement of Europeans on African soil who allegedly trekked hundreds of miles inland into dangerous areas they did not control to randomly kidnap happy Africans into slavery.  Was this the reality on the ground in Africa back in 1619?  The Angolan experience provides the answers. The Angolan Model of Contracted Slave Procurement The gradual encroachment of European settlements down the Atlantic coast of West Africa did not lead to immediate mass colonization as malaria and tsetse flies kept out all but the hardiest and most rapacious adventurers.  But how did these Europeans procure so many slaves to service the burgeoning and incredibly profitable sugar and tobacco charters of the Caribbean?  The Kunta Kinte procurement model would have eventually led to depopulation of the local areas as the traditionally semi-mobile Africans would have just up and moved out of reach like they did to avoid the Songhai lords, and Africans were beginning to adopt European weapons in their defense.  So – how did so many Africans end up as slaves in the Americas despite their overwhelming numbers back in Africa? The answer lies in the Angolan model which was by no means confined to this region alone.  During the first half of the 16th century the Portuguese established a permanent trading station at the port of Soyo, a province within the Kingdom of Kongo on the south bank at the mouth of the Congo River.  The significance of Soyo was it established the first European occupation in West Africa outside the provenance of the tsetse fly, and with trypanosomiasis absent, colonists could settle and import European livestock for the first time on the African Atlantic coast.  Entire families of Portuguese colonists began to arrive and by 1575 the city of Luanda was founded, followed by Benguela in 1587.  With Angola’s drier, more temperate climate, these early European colonists got to the business of building homes, clearing land, farming, fishing, and raising their livestock.  But one thing they did not do was get to the business of travelling hundreds of miles inland to hunt down and capture slaves.  They left that to others – and these others weren’t Europeans. Soon after the Portuguese planted their flag at Soyo, they granted a trade monopoly to the Kingdom of Kongo which ruled over what is now northwestern Angola.  But as Portugal established colonies to the south of Soyo, these new colonies were located in lands claimed by Kongo but occupied by Ambundu peoples of the N’Dongo and Kisama states within the Kwanza River valley.  Because of the trade monopoly specifics granted to Kongo, the Bakongo could sweep through the Kwanza River valley and capture the local Ambundu and sell them into slavery to the Portuguese, but the Ambundu could not capture these Bakongo raiders and sell them into slavery to the same customer.  This egregious injustice incensed the N’Dongo king to the point of declaring war on – not the Portuguese – but the Bakongo in an attempt to break the discriminatory trade monopoly.  The Ambundu were successful and in 1556 they defeated the Bakongo in a war fought not to end the enslavement of their fellow Africans, but to extend to themselves the right to capture, enslave, and sell their Bakongo neighbors to the Portuguese. Despite the N’Dongo victory and elimination of Kongo influence in the Kwanza River valley, the Portuguese insisted on upholding their original trade agreement, so the Kongo trade monopoly remained in place with the Ambundu still cut out of all commercial activity with the Portuguese.  Realizing they had prosecuted a war for nothing, the N’Dongo spent the next several decades threatening colonists and harassing Portuguese interests up and down the Kwanza River valley without any penetration into the colonial economy.  In 1590 N’Dongo had had enough of the commercial status quo so it allied itself with its eastern Ambundu neighbor Matamba and together they declared war on all Portuguese interests across Angola. This war led the Portuguese to construct a network of fortalezas up and down the Angolan coastline and after years of protracted violence the Portugal finally defeated the N’Dongo in 1614.  Portugal’s first act after victory was to invite their old trading partner – the Bakongo – to commence mop-up operations across the Kwanza River valley in order to clear out the defeated Ambundu and bring them in chains to the new network of fortalezas, which not only served as troop garrisons and acropoli for the local inhabitants, but also as slave depots that accommodated the swelling numbers of captured Ambundu before being auctioned off and sent to Brazil. With the defeat of the Ambundu the N’Dongo matriarchal dynasty fled east to their ally Matamba.  There, a royal refugee named N’Zinga M’Bandi betrayed the hospitality shown her by Matamba and began secret negotiations with Luanda for a return of the Ambundu to the Kwanza River valley.  N’Zinga M’Bandi secured agreements that not only deposed the sitting Matamban queen – handing her the crown by subterfuge – but also convinced the Portuguese to nullify their long standing trade monopoly granted to the Kingdom of Kongo which, in effect, established the Ambundu peoples in the slave procurement business. The new Matamban queen made haste regarding her political and business affairs and quickly consolidated N’Dongo and the neighboring Kasanje states under her rule.  By 1619, Queen N’Zinga had grown her realm into the most powerful African state in the region using the wealth generated from her industrial scale slave procurement undertaking.  Within a few decade of Queen N’Zinga’s ascension, the regions surrounding central Angola were depopulated of not only the rival Bakongo peoples, but of its Ovimbundu, Ganguela, and Chokwe peoples too. The lucrative Angolan slave trade not only flourished under female African leadership, but grew scientific and efficient and continued unabated until the Portuguese crown outlawed the colonial slave trade in 1869.  However, avarice and ingenuity always prevail so after this slavery prohibition a vibrant slave black market continued unabated as abolition only served to drive up the price of slaves and therefore the incentive to procure them in the field.  These lucrative smuggling operations from Angola lasted up until the day its primary customer Brazil abolished slavery in 1888. Today the dominance of the Ambundu peoples in the business, political, and military affairs of modern day Angola is directly traced to the business acumen, organizational skills, and operational efficiency that the Ambundu peoples’ developed during their 269 year monopoly over slave procurement in Angola.  From the tens of thousands of their fellow African “brothers” and “sisters” that the Ambundu sold into slavery, they accumulated incredible wealth that enabled them to occupy a position of respect, influence, and near equality in colonial Angola unparalleled anywhere in colonial Africa.  They became, in a sense, the “Master Ethnicity” of the region. Twilight of the Woke Idols The irony behind the etymology for the word slave, lost upon the woke and the allies of Critical Race Insanity, is that slave derives from ancient words describing Caucasian Slavic peoples.  If slavery were at the core of the “American Experience”, America long ago would have adopted a word for slave that describe African peoples just as the Romans employed Sclāvus to describe a Slav.  But in the 402 years since 1619, Americans have not made this linguistic transition because there is an older and deeper collective history of slavery that can be traced back millennia to Eastern Europeans who constitute a large proportion of the American population. Yet somehow this deeper history has not affected Caucasians of eastern European descent – even the generational poor – in the same way it has tormented the collective psyche of African Americans.  Maybe these demons are not so much the product that African Americans were once slaves, but instead a manifestation of the incessant bombarded of acerbic messages from the Academia-Media-Technocracy Complex demanding that African Americans play the role of perpetual victims and that they deserve some abstract redress from those who themselves have never benefitted from systemic anything. Or is there a deeper pathological diagnosis, a sepsis of personal ontology whereby the current woke narrative is a desperate attempt at mass cognitive dissonance to blot out the humiliating reality that one’s ancestors were traded in bulk by one’s own kind for the likes of a horse? Africans were one of many peoples in a long line of slaves procured by Europeans but they are the last group before the prohibitions of the Utilitarian campaigns of universal human rights put an end to the practice. Thus it is this ‘Last In, First Out” queuing that gives African Americans claim to their title of “systemic victims” without regard to the broader history of European slavery during the preceding two millennia – including Medieval feudalism.  The reality on the ground for centuries in Europe was that slave relations were between Caucasian Master and Caucasian slave. And with the advent and maturing scientific efficiency of institutions such as central banking, nation states, denominational religions, non-governmental organizations, together with the application of mass psychology, one finds upon further scrutiny that this predominant relationship between Master and slave has changed little over the millennia.  We Americans are, in a sense, all slaves – caught in a systemic nexus of control with few options of escape.  Therefore, claims of “systemic injustice” and demands for redress are nothing more than demands to be promoted from field hand to domestic slave unless the true, invisible system of enslavement is abolished for all Americans. Slavery existed for millennia throughout the entirety of the Bantu populated African continent prior to the arrival of Europeans.  African slaves were captured, worked hard in the millet fields, scolded, beaten, sold multiple times, raped, and murdered well before the first European footprint was impressed on a West African beach.  Slavery was the natural African social condition, it continued as Europeans colonized the continent, and in some places it continues today after most Europeans have left.  Thus any conception of an “Original Sin” borne by Americans through ancestry lies not with Caucasians, but with those of African ancestry as Africans themselves were the origination point for the West African slavery supply chain where they occupied the roles of contractor, planner, procurer, and transporter to distribution hubs. The indigenous Africans were, in modern terms, the Chief Operating Officers of the West African slave trade.  Europeans played the roles of wholesale customer, clearing house, and retail distributor of a product offered to them by brazen and entrepreneurial local rulers who amassed great wealth from their endeavors and whose ancestors today are the beneficiaries of an “ethnic privilege” derived from this wealth and societal status as former Masters. The truth is that this seminal enduring image created with Kunta Kinte’s abduction is a fraud and was fabricated to not only impugn the Caucasian audience and henceforth brand them evil and complicit through ancestry, but was also consciously constructed to expiate the guilt surrounding the ugly and brutal truth that Africans themselves were the culpable party.  Had indigenous Africans not captured and sold so many of their brethren into slavery, there would likely be very few African Americans today. Epilogue The woke will never mention the 800 years of an East African slave trade conducted by Arab merchants up and down the Indian Ocean coast.  The woke won’t utter a word regarding present day slavery across the Sahel countries of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Sudan.  One hears only silence from the woke when one mentions the “Systemic Ethniscism” that permeates every Bantu nation where wealth and power are concentrated into the hands of a dominant ethnic group. The woke ignore the 3,000+ freed African slaves who show up in the ante bellum US census who were granted manumission, inherited plantations from their former owners, and kept the slaves.  No woke person ever admits that American Indians owned African slaves nor will they / them accept that slavery permeated Nahuatl culture even as they / them espouse the virtues of Greater Aztlán.  And the woke will never accept that it was Europeans who eventually stamped out slavery within the Bantu cultural world despite it being the natural human condition there for centuries. And, most importantly, the woke will never acknowledge that all Americans are trapped in a nexus of corporate, bureaucratic, technological, and psychological control where the true “American Experience” has devolved into one where everyone is a slave serving invisible Masters. Until these Masters’ hands are removed from every lever of power and influence in our nation – by any means necessary – abstractions like “equality” and “equity” are nothing more than job promotions on the American plantation.  The woke will never become unwoke because they love their servitude, it has opened the door for them to serve an irresponsible existence free of rationality, logic, true meaning in their existence.  Through their wokeness, they have essentially been freed from Freedom – they can place no hope in death, and their blind lives are so abject that they are envious of every other fate.  The world should let no fame of theirs endure; both true Justice and Compassion must disdain them. One final comment about those 4,000 Moroccans at the Battle of Tondibi.  The invading Moroccan army was commanded by a one Judar Pasha, but he was not always known by this name.  Judar was born Diego de Guevara, an inhabitant of the Spanish region of Andalusia who as a boy was captured by Arab slave raiders, packed off in chains to Morocco, and sold into slavery to the Moroccan Sultan.  And just like Kunta Kinte, Diego’s name got changed, but where Kunta Kinte had his foot cut off, Judar was castrated and forced to serve this foreign Sultan as a eunuch.  But we will never see a TV miniseries where an Arab slave wrangler hangs one Diego de Guevara upside down by his ankles, thrashes him with a bull whip, and screams repeatedly, “Your name is not Diego, your name is Judar!” Tyler Durden Fri, 11/19/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 20th, 2021

An Afghan women"s rights activist might have been tricked into going to a safe house and then found dead. Others hoping to escape or live freely in the country worry they could be next

The murder of Afghan activist Frozan Safi has contributed to the climate of fear in Mazar-e Sharif, a hub for people evacuating Afghanistan. A woman walks past a mural in Mazar-i-Sharif on Oct. 31, 2021.WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images Frozan Safi, a well-known women's rights defender, was found dead this month in Mazar-e Sharif, a city in northern Afghanistan. A widely-seen security warning that spread over messaging apps was probably a hoax but contributed to the unease.  The city has served as one of the hubs for people looking to leave Afghanistan since the Taliban took power on Aug. 15.  In early November, Frozan Safi, a well-known activist and economics lecturer, and three other people were found dead in Mazar-e-Sharif, one of Afghanistan's biggest cities. According to one report, Safi, who was 29, might have been tricked into thinking she was going to a safe house as she waited for her asylum application to be approved.  At around the same time, a message labeled "Important security alert" was spreading on WhatsApp among the city's English speakers. It claimed that a "death squad is posing as a Western human rights and rescue organization" and, using English, "summoning people in hiding to meet then executing them." The message linked this supposed squad to the killings in Mazar.The message was very likely a hoax, but it seemed to confirm people's worst fears. Whatever the source, the warning text fed into a sense of acute unease in Mazar, which has served as one of the hubs for people looking to leave the country since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on Aug. 15. Multiple evacuation flights have left from the city's airport, bringing Afghan journalists, military interpreters, and others here from the capital, Kabul, and other provinces.Journalists, lawyers, NGO and security workers, and English speakers say there's a sense that danger could come from anywhere – mafia groups, a rogue Taliban fighter, or a common criminal who feels emboldened to act out on personal grudge – and it's not clear where to turn for help. "Mazar is a small place. It doesn't take a lot of time for people to figure out who you are, what you do," said Qudsia Shojazada, a local activist and journalist who helped organize women's protests during the first weeks of Taliban rule. 'You worked with the foreigners to split up families'The Taliban reached Mazar, one of Afghanistan's economic and cultural hubs, on Aug. 13. Two days later, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, and, two weeks after that, the US military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan and ended its 20-year war. Since then, Zainab, a Mazar resident in her 20s, has been extra cautious when she goes out in the city. Before leaving the house, she makes sure to put on her sunglasses, cover as much of her body as she can, and wear minimal makeup – all to avoid being recognized.Though many of the other women and girls who venture out into the city dress largely as they used to before the Taliban takeover, Zainab says the years she spent working with lawyers on family law cases make her a target. (Insider is using a pseudonym.) Taliban fighters enter the Hazrat-e-Ali, or Blue Mosque, shrine in Mazar-i-Sharif on Oct. 30, 2021.WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty ImagesZainab was among those who saw the frightening message. Regardless of its source, things like that have increased her sense of unease. "There are a lot of people with resentment and grudges against us," she said. "Eventually they will find out that I worked on cases involving domestic abuse and divorce. What if they say to me, 'You were part of the problem, you worked with the foreigners to split up families.'"Zainab says both men and women who had worked with legal, human rights and Western-funded agencies are going to great lengths to remain "as anonymous as possible" in the city. "I saw one female lawyer who had worked on divorce cases, you could tell she was trying so hard to change her appearance," Zainab said. "People who were active in society don't feel safe and comfortable anymore."A rare, confirmed killingIn Mazar, as in other Afghan cities, there have been multiple reports of abuse and intimidation of journalists, protesters, and professionals linked to US forces by the Taliban's foot soldiers. A former resident of Mazar, who has since relocated to Canada and spoke to Insider on condition of anonymity, has heard from relatives and friends that targeted killings in Mazar have increased over the last three weeks.But with the country's once-vibrant media largely extinguished, it's difficult to know what's really happening in the country, and such rumors are difficult to confirm. Local media has struggled under the Taliban's intimidation and a lack of funding since, like many Afghan institutions, it was heavily reliant on financial support from the West. The country is also facing a cash crunch since the US and international bodies like the World Bank and the IMF cut off access to $9.5 billion in assets and loans. In a statement issued last month, the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) said that 70 percent of media outlets across the country have closed. "Media reporting quality has reached to its lowest level in the last 20 years," it said. The murder of Safi and the three others – they have still not been publicly identified – was the rare case that the Taliban confirmed, and with that came a wave of press attention. —Zahra Rahimi (@ZahraSRahimi) November 5, 2021 In a video statement posted online, a spokesman for the Taliban's Ministry of Interior, Qari Saeed Khosti, said the victims had been "invited to the house" by the alleged killers. He didn't name the assailants, but said they had been detained. Zabihullah Noorani, the Head of the Taliban's Cultural Commission in Balkh province, said in an interview that the killings were the result of a "personal issue" and had nothing to do with politics.Addressing more general security fears, the Taliban's Supreme Leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, said in a statement issued last week that there may be "unknown" entities among their ranks who are "working against the will of the government," and that these individuals will be punished.'Farming onions in hiding'On the streets of Mazar, the Taliban are much less visible compared to Kabul and Jalalabad, another major city. But their presence is felt. Male shopkeepers, students, and taxi drivers in the city told Insider they feel comfortable in the city and that petty crime has come to a near halt in Mazar. But those who were involved in social and political matters do not share that same sense of ease.Afghan schoolgirls returning from school in Mazar-i-Sharif on Oct. 30, 2021.WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images"The day after the Taliban took Mazar, we went to the office and turned in whatever was still in our possession," said a former security worker in Mazar, who described himself as a desk worker who was mostly "behind a computer" and had little direct involvement in operations.  His attempt to appease the group was of little use, even though Taliban officials declared a general amnesty when they took over the country, He said he still receives calls from the Taliban saying he has yet to turn over weapons and vehicles belonging to the government, a claim he denies. Patricia Gossman, Associate Asia Director for Human Rights Watch, said the security worker's case is in line with other accounts she's heard from the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Kunduz, Paktia, Nangarhar, and Ghazni. Gossman said HRW is still awaiting the Taliban's response to the cases the rights group has documented.Fearing abuse and retaliation, the 36-year-old has since left the city and moved to his family's home in a district more than 40 kilometers away. He says he feels robbed of everything he worked for. "I went to college and earned a degree and now I'm just farming potatoes and onions in hiding," he said.  Too scared to speak upIn the immediate aftermath of the Taliban taking power, women-led protests were held in Mazar and other major cities. But by September, they had largely stopped. Shojazada, the local activist who helped organize the demonstrations in Mazar, said she has been in hiding ever since and has changed where she lives several times. The Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif, the city's major landmark, is seen on July 12, 2020.Kawa Basharat/Xinhua via Getty ImagesShe said that several fellow activists have been detained simply for their previous work, and she has received reports of targeted killings and disappearances in the city. The Taliban's intelligence in Mazar is "very powerful," she said.  Shojazada knows this even from the experience of her own family. Over the summer, one of Shojazada's brothers joined the government-sponsored People's Uprising movement to fight off the Taliban's fast-moving advances. He was detained shortly after the Taliban took power despite the promised amnesty. As she relays the story, Shojazada is cautious not to reveal too much for fear of inspiring further retaliation against their family. A short while later, when a friend of hers was arrested and held for 20 days after taking part in a protest in September, Shojazada said the family resisted help to avoid angering the Taliban. "They didn't want anyone to know that their son had been arrested," Shojazada told Insider. "We had to work so hard to gain their trust just so we could try and help them however we could."  "People in Mazar are terrified to speak up," she said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 19th, 2021

Futures Tumble, Oil And Treasury Yields Plunge As Lockdowns Return

Futures Tumble, Oil And Treasury Yields Plunge As Lockdowns Return Having briefly touched new all time highs of 4,723.5 overnight, S&P futures tumbled shortly after Europe opened as a fourth wave of the pandemic in Europe resulted in a new lockdown in Austria and the prospect of similar action in Germany wiped out earlier gains and forced stock markets down close to 1% as it overshadowed optimism about corporate earnings and the economic recovery. Friday is also a major options-expiry day, which could trigger volatility in equities. Two progressive Democratic senators said they oppose the renomination of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to a second term, because he "refuses to recognize climate change" joining Elizabeth Warren in urging President Joe Biden to choose someone else. S&P and Dow futures fell tracking losses in banks, airlines, and other economically sensitive sectors. Uncertainty over rising inflation and the Federal Reserve's tightening also kept demand for value stocks low. At 745am Dow e-minis were down 218 points, or 0.609%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 12.25 points, or 0.26% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 68 points, or 0.41%. With the lockdown trade storming back, Nasdaq futures hit a record high on Friday as investors sought economically stable sectors after a small delay in voting on President Joe Biden's $1.75 trillion spending bill, while fears of Europe-wide lockdowns sent yields plunging. The U.S. House of Representatives early on Friday delayed an anticipated vote on passage of Biden's social programs and climate change investment bill, and will instead reconvene at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT) to complete the legislation “Everyone is holding his and her breath to find out who will be the next Fed Chair,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “More or less dovish, will it really matter? The one that will take or keep the helm of the Fed will need to hike rates at some point.” Among major premarket movers, Intuit Inc jumped 10.3% as brokerages raised their price targets on the income tax software company after it beat quarterly estimates and raised forecast. The stock was the top S&P 500 gainer in premarket trade. Chipmaker Nvidia also boosted Nasdaq futures, rising 1.7% in heavy trade after posting strong quarterly results late Wednesday. On the other end, Applied Materials dropped 5.7% after the chipmaker forecast first-quarter sales and profit below market estimates on supply chain woes. Oil firms Exxon and Chevron slipped 2.1% and 1.8% as crude prices sank, while big banks including JPMorgan and Bank of America were down between 0.9% and 1.1%, tracking a fall in U.S. Treasury yields. Carriers Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines and cruiseliners Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp fell between 1.4% and 2.3%. Here are all the other notable movers: Farfetch (FTCH US) shares drop 23% after the online apparel retailer reported 3Q revenue that missed estimates and trimmed its FY forecast for digital platform gross merchandise value growth. Analysts see scope for the shares to stay in the “penalty box” in the near term, but recommend buying on weakness. Workday (WDAY US) analysts say that the software firm’s strong quarterly results and guidance were not quite enough to meet high expectations. The stock dropped as much as 11% in extended trading on Thursday. Intuit (INTU US) climbed 9.7% in premarket as analysts said the tax software company posted strong results that were ahead of expectations and raised its outlook. Several increased their price targets for the stock, including a new Street high at Barclays. Palo Alto Networks (PANW US) shares rise 2.8% in U.S. premarket trading after the cyber- security firm reports results and hikes full-year sales guidance, with RBC saying co. saw a strong quarter. Tesla (TSLA US) shares dip 0.5% in premarket trading. The EV maker’s price target is raised to a joint Street-high at Wedbush, with the broker saying that the EV “revolution” presents a $5t market opportunity over the next decade. Datadog (DDOG US) rises 1.8% after it is upgraded to outperform from sector perform at RBC, with the broker saying that it has more conviction on the software firm following its TMIT conference. Mammoth Energy (TUSK US) jumps as much as 34% in U.S. premarket trading after the energy-services company said a subsidiary has been awarded a contract by a major utility to help build electric-vehicle charging station infrastructure. Ross Stores (ROST US) shares dropped 2.2% in postmarket trading on Thursday after its profit outlook for fourth quarter missed the average analyst estimate. In Europe, banks and carmakers led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down 0.3%, reversing early gains. Fears of fresh lockdowns have hit travel stocks, but boosted the delivery sector and other pandemic winners, with German meal-kit company HelloFresh jumping as much as 7.1% to a record. Stoxx Europe 600 index tumbled after Germany’s health minister said he couldn’t rule out a lockdown as infections surge relentlessly in the region’s largest economy. That came after Austria said it would enter a nationwide lockdown from Monday. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Ocado shares jump as much as 8.4%, the most intraday since November 2020, after a Deutsche Bank note on joint venture partner Marks & Spencer highlighted scope for a potential transaction. VGP shares gain as much as 7.7% to a record after KBC raised its rating to accumulate from hold, based on a “strong” 10-month trading update. HelloFresh shares surge as much as 7.1% and other lockdown beneficiaries including Delivery Hero, Logitech and Zalando gain after the German health minister says a lockdown can’t be ruled out. Mall landlords Unibail and Klepierre and duty-free retailer Dufry drop. Truecaller shares rise as much as 14% after it received its first analyst initiations after last month’s IPO. Analysts highlighted the company’s potential for continued strong growth. JPMorgan called current growth momentum “unparalleled.” Hermes shares jump as much as 5.2% to a fresh record, rising for a seventh day, amid optimism that the stock may be added to the Euro Stoxx 50 Index as soon as next month. Shares also rise after bullish current- trading comments of peer Prada. Kingfisher shares drop as much as 5.8%, even after the home-improvement retailer said it expects profit to be toward the higher end of its forecast. Investor focus has probably shifted to 2022, and Friday’s update doesn’t have any guidance for next year, according to Berenberg. GB Group shares tumble as much as 18%, the most since October 2016, after the identity-verification software company raised about GBP300m in a placing of new shares at a discount. Mode Global shares sink as much as 19%, reversing most of this week’s gains, after it said some brands had withdrawn the company as an affiliate. In Fx, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index jumped at the London open and the greenback was higher versus all of its Group-of-10 fears apart from yen. Norway’s krone was the biggest loser as energy prices prices dropped after Austria announced a nationwide lockdown starting on Monday, while Germany’s health minister refused to rule out closures in the country.  The pound fell on the back of a stronger dollar; data showed U.K. retail sales rose for the first time in six months as consumers snapped up toys, sports equipment and clothing, while the cost of servicing U.K. government debt more than tripled in October from a year earlier due to surging inflation The euro plunged by 1% to a new YTD low of $1.1255 as the repricing in the front-end of euro options suggests the common currency is settling within a new range. The euro is also falling at the end of the week following the announcement that Austria will begin a 20-day full Covid-19 lockdown from Monday in response to surging case numbers which have far surpassed last year's peak. While fatalities remains well below the peak, they are accelerating and the government is clearly keen to arrest it before the situation potentially becomes much worse. With Germany seeing a similar trend, the question now becomes whether the regions largest economy will follow the same path. Its Health Minister, Jens Spahn, today suggested nothing can be ruled out and that they are in a national emergency. In rates, Treasury yields fell by around 4bps across the board and the bunds yield curve bull flattened, with money markets pushing back bets on a 10bps ECB rate hike further into 2023. Treasury 10-year yields richer by 4.5bp on the day at around 1.54% and toward lows of the weekly range -- bunds, gilts outperform Treasuries by 1bp and 1.5bp in the sector as traders reassess impact of future ECB rate hikes. Treasuries rally across the curve, following wider gains across EGB’s and gilts as investors weigh the impact of further European lockdowns amid a fourth wave of Covid-19. Flight-to-quality pushes Treasury yields lower by up to 5bp across front- and belly of the curve, which slightly outperform.  Bunds and Treasury swap spreads widen, while gilts move tighter as risk assets mostly trade to the downside and demand for havens increases on news regarding coronavirus restrictions. German 10-year swap spreads climbed above 50bps for the first time since March 2020. In commodities, spot gold is little changed around $1,860/oz, while base metals are in the green, with LME copper and aluminum leading peers. Oil tumbled with WTI and Brent contracts down well over 2%.  Brent crudes brief dip below $80 was short-lived on Thursday and prices were continuing to recover on the final trading day of the week until Austria announced its lockdown. Brent crude quickly reversed course and trades almost 2% lower on the day as it takes another run at $80. Oil has been declining over the last week as demand forecasts have been pared back, OPEC and the IEA have warned of oversupply in the coming months and the US has attempted to coordinate an SPR release with China and others. The market still remains fundamentally in a good position but lockdowns are now an obvious risk to this if other countries follow Austria's lead. A move below $80 could deepen the correction, perhaps pulling the price back towards the mid-$70 region. This looks more likely now than it did a day ago and if Germany announces similar measures, it could be the catalyst for such a move. Perhaps OPEC+ knows what it's talking about after all. Looking at To the day ahead now, there is no macro news; central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Bundesbank President Weidmann, Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Waller and BoE Chief Economist Pill. Separately, data highlights include UK retail sales and German PPI for October. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.09% to 4,696.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 488.66 MXAP little changed at 199.11 MXAPJ down 0.2% to 648.18 Nikkei up 0.5% to 29,745.87 Topix up 0.4% to 2,044.53 Hang Seng Index down 1.1% to 25,049.97 Shanghai Composite up 1.1% to 3,560.37 Sensex down 0.6% to 59,636.01 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2% to 7,396.55 Kospi up 0.8% to 2,971.02 Brent Futures little changed at $81.17/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,860.34 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.43% to 95.96 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.32% Euro down 0.6% to $1.1304 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Germany’s Covid crisis is about to go from bad to worse, setting the stage for a grim Christmas in Europe. With infections surging relentlessly and authorities slow to act amid a change in power, experts warn that serious cases and deaths will keep climbing Austria will enter a nationwide lockdown from Monday as a record spike in coronavirus cases threatens to overwhelm the country’s health care system The pundits are coming for the Fed and Chair Jerome Powell. Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser to Allianz SE and a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, recently said the central bank has made one of the worst inflation calls in its history. Writing in the Financial Times, the economist Willem Buiter called on the Fed to abandon the more flexible inflation target it established last year Bitcoin continued its slide Thursday, falling for a fifth consecutive day as it slipped below $57,000 for the first time since October, in a retreat from record highs. The world’s largest cryptocurrency hasn’t slumped that long since the five days that ended May 16 House Democrats pushed expected passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.64 trillion economic agenda to Friday as Republican leader Kevin McCarthy delayed a vote with a lengthy floor speech that lasted into the early morning hours ECB President Christine Lagarde said policy makers “must not rush into a premature tightening when faced with passing or supply- driven inflation shocks” Markets are increasingly nervous about the common currency with the pandemic resurgent, geopolitical tensions rising and gas supply issues mounting A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly positive after the mixed performance stateside where the S&P 500 and Nasdaq notched fresh record closes, but cyclicals lagged as comments from Senator Manchin cast some uncertainty on the Build Back Better bill. The ASX 200 (+0.2%) was rangebound with upside in healthcare and consumer stocks offset by weakness in tech and a lacklustre mining sector. Crown Resorts (CWN AT) was the stellar performer after it received an unsolicited, non-binding takeover proposal from Blackstone (BX) valued at AUD 12.50/shr which boosted its shares by around 16%, although gains in the broader market were limited as COVID-19 concerns lingered following a further jump of cases in Victoria state. The Nikkei 225 (+0.5%) benefitted from a mostly weaker currency and after PM Kishida confirmed the details of the incoming stimulus package valued at a total JPY 79tln including JPY 56tln in fiscal spending. The KOSPI (+0.8%) was also positive but with gains initially capped as South Korean wholesale inflation surged to a 13-year high and further added to the case for the BoK to hike rates for the second time this year at next week’s meeting. The Hang Seng (-1.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+1.1%) were mixed with the mainland kept afloat amid press reports that China is considering measures to reduce taxes and fees by up to CNY 500bln, although the mainland was initially slow to start after another liquidity drain by the PBoC and with stocks in Hong Kong spooked amid substantial losses in Alibaba following a miss on its earnings and Country Garden Services suffered on reopening from the announcement of a 150mln-share placement. Finally, 10yr JGBs were rangebound with mild gains seen after the modest bull flattening stateside, but with upside restricted amid the gains in Japanese stocks and lack of BoJ purchases, as well as the incoming fiscal spending and extra budget from the Kishida government. Top Asian News Bitcoin Falls Almost 20% Since Record as Crypto Bulls Retreat Singapore’s Insignia Ventures Intensifies Push Into Healthtech Binance Chief Zhao Buys His First Home in ‘Pro-Crypto’ Dubai Property Stocks Surge; Land Sale Rules Eased: Evergrande Update The earlier positive sentiment in Europe dissipated amid a string of back-to-back downbeat COVID updates – with Austria now resorting to a full-scale lockdown and Germany sounding alarms over their domestic COVID situation and not ruling out its own lockdown. European bourses flipped from the mostly positive trade at the open to a negative picture (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.5%; Stoxx 600 Unch), with headlines also flagging the European stock market volatility gauge jumping to three-week highs. It is also worth noting the monthly option expiries for stocks today, with desks pointing to the second-largest expiry day on record. US equity futures have also seen headwinds from the pullback in Europe, but US futures are mixed with the NQ (+0.4%) benefitting from the slide in yields. Back to Europe, Austria’s ATX (-1.0%) sit as the laggard after the Austrian Chancellor said a full domestic COVID lockdown will be imposed as of Monday for a maximum of 20 days with compulsory vaccination from 1st February 2022. Switzerland’s SMI (+0.2%) owes its gains to the defensive flows into healthcare propping up heavyweights Novartis (+0.5%) and Roche (+0.7%). Sectors overall are mostly negative with Healthcare the current winner, whilst Tech benefits from the yield slump and Basic Resources recover from yesterday’s slide as base metals rebound. The downside sees Banks on yield dynamics, whilst Oil & Gas lost the ranks as crude prices were spooked by the COVID headlines emanating from Europe. In terms of individual movers, Ocado (+6%) resides at the top of the FTSE 100 – with some citing a Deutsche Bank note which suggested shareholder Marks & Spencer could be mulling a buyout, although the note is seemingly speculation as opposed to chatter. Top European News Ryanair Drops London Listing Over Brexit Compliance Hassles ECB Mustn’t Tighten Despite ‘Painful’ Inflation, Lagarde Says Austria to Lock Down, Impose Compulsory Covid Vaccinations German Covid Measures May Bolster ECB Stimulus Stance: El-Erian In FX, it remains to be seen whether the Dollar can continue to climb having descended from the summit, and with no obvious fundamental drivers on the agenda in terms of US data that has been instrumental, if not quite wholly responsible for the recent bull run. However, external and technical factors may provide the Greenback and index with enough momentum to rebound further, as the COVID-19 situation continues to deteriorate in certain parts of Europe especially. Meanwhile, the mere fact that the DXY bounced off a shallower low and appears to have formed a base above 95.500 is encouraging from a chart perspective, and only the Yen as a safer haven is arguably capping the index ahead of the aforementioned w-t-d peak within 95.554-96.090 extremes. Ahead, more Fed rhetoric and this time via Waller and Clarida. EUR - The Euro has been hit hardest by the Greenback revival, but also the latest pandemic waves that have forced Austria into total lockdown and are threatening to see Germany follow suit. Moreover, EGBs are front-running the latest squeeze amidst risk-off trade in stocks, oil and other commodities to widen spreads vs Treasuries and the divergence between the ECB/Fed and other more hawkishly or less dovishly positioned. Hence, Eur/Usd has reversed further from circa 1.1374 through 1.1350 and 1.1300, while Eur/Yen is eyeing 128.50 vs almost 130.00 at one stage and Eur/Chf is probing fresh multi-year lows around 1.0450. NZD/GBP/AUD/CAD - All catching contagion due to their high beta, cyclical or activity currency stature, with the Kiwi back under 0.7000, Pound hovering fractionally above 1.3400, Aussie beneath 0.7250 and Loonie striving to contain declines beyond 1.2650 pre-Canadian retail sales against the backdrop of collapsing crude prices. JPY/CHF - As noted above, the Yen is offering a bit more protection than its US counterpart and clearly benefiting from the weakness in global bond yields until JGBs catch up, with Usd/Jpy down from 114.50+ towards 113.80, but the Franc is showing its allure as a port in the storm via the Euro cross rather than vs the Buck as Usd/Chf holds above 0.9250. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures retreated with the trigger point being back-to-back COVID updates – with Austria confirming a full-scale lockdown from Monday and Germany not ruling out its own lockdown. Crude futures reacted to the prospect of a slowdown in activity translating to softer demand. That being said, COVID only represents one factor in the supply/demand equation. Oil consuming nations are ramping up rhetoric and are urging OPEC+ to release oil. The White House confirmed the US discussed a possible joint release of oil from reserves with China and other countries, while it reiterated that it has raised the need for available oil supply in the market with OPEC. Meanwhile, the Japanese Cabinet said it will urge oil-producing nations to increase output and work closely with the IEA amid risks from energy costs. Further, energy journalists have also been flagging jitters of Chinese crude demand amid the likelihood of another tax probe into independent refiners. All in all, a day of compounding bearish updates (thus far) has prompted the contracts to erase all of their APAC gains, with WTI Dec just above USD 76/bbl (76.06-79.33/bbl range) and Brent Jan back under USD 79/bbl (78.75-82.24/bbl range). Elsewhere, spot gold saw a pop higher around the flurry of European COVID updates and despite a firmer Buck – pointing to haven flows into the yellow metal – which is nonetheless struggling to convincingly sustain a breach its overnight highs around USD 1,860/oz and we are attentive to a key fib at USD 1876/oz. Base metals prices are relatively mixed but have waned off best levels amid the risk aversion that crept into the markets, but LME copper holds onto a USD 9,500+/t status. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled Central Banks 10:45am: Fed’s Waller Discusses the Economic Outlook 12:15pm: Fed’s Clarida Discusses Global Monetary Policy Coordination DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap It was another mixed session for markets yesterday, with equities and other assets continuing to trade around their recent highs even as a number of risk factors were increasingly piling up on the horizon. By the close of trade, the S&P 500 had advanced +0.34% to put the index at its all-time high, whilst oil prices pared back their losses from earlier in the day to move higher. That said, there was more of a risk-off tone in Europe as the latest Covid wave continues to gather pace, with the STOXX 600 (-0.46%) snapping a run of 6 successive gains and being up on 17 out of the previous 19 days as it fell back from its all-time high the previous day, as haven assets including sovereign bonds were the beneficiaries. Starting with those equity moves, it was difficult to characterise yesterday’s session in some ways, since although the S&P advanced +0.34%, it was driven by a relatively narrow group of sectors, with only a third of the index’s components actually moving higher on the day. Indeed, to find a bigger increase in the S&P 500 on fewer advancing companies, one needs to go back to March 2000 (though it came close one day in August 2020, when the index advanced +0.32% on 153 advancing companies). Consumer discretionary (+1.49%) and tech (+1.02%) stocks were the only sectors to materially advance. Nvidia (+8.25%), the world’s largest chipmaker, was a key outperformer, and posted very strong third quarter earnings and revised higher fourth quarter guidance. Following the strong day, Nvidia jumped into the top ten S&P 500 companies by market cap, ending yesterday at number eight. The S&P gain may have been so narrow due to some negative chatter about President Biden’s build back better package, with CNN’s Manu Raju tweeting that Senator Joe Manchin “just told me he has NOT decided on whether to vote to proceed to the Build Back Better bill.” Manchin’s position in a 50-50 senate has given him an enormous amount of influence, and separate comments created another set of headlines yesterday on the Fed Chair decision, after The Hill reported Manchin saying that he’s “looking very favourably” at supporting Chair Powell if he were re-nominated, following a chat between the two about inflation. Mr Manchin is seemingly one of the most powerful people in the world at the moment. While the Senate still presents a hurdle for the President’s build back better bill, House Democrats are close to voting on the bill but couldn’t last night due to a three hour speech by House Republican leader McCarthy. It will probably happen this morning. This follows the Congressional Budget Office’s ‘score’ of the bill, which suggested the deficit would increase by $367bn as a result of the bill, higher figures than the White House suggested, but low enough to garner support from moderate House Democrats. Over in Europe there was a much weaker session yesterday, with the major equity indices falling across the continent amidst mounting concern over the Covid-19 pandemic. Germany is making another forceful push to combat the recent increase in cases, including expanded vaccination efforts, encouraging work from home, and restricting public transportation for unvaccinated individuals. Elsewhere, the Czech Republic’s government said that certain activities will be limited to those who’ve been vaccinated or had the virus in the last six months, including access to restaurants and hairdressers. Slovakia also agreed a similar move to prevent the unvaccinated accessing shopping malls, whilst Hungary is expanding its mask mandate to indoor spaces from Monday. Greece imposed further restrictions for its unvaccinated population. So a theme of placing more of the restrictions in Europe on the unvaccinated at the moment and trying to protect the freedoms of those jabbed for as long as possible. That risk-off tone supported sovereign bonds in Europe, with yields on 10yr bunds (-3.0bps), OATs (-4.1bps) and BTPs (-5.5bps) all moving lower. That was a larger decline relative to the US, where yields on 10yr Treasuries were only down -0.3bps to 1.59%, with lower real yields driving the decline. One asset class with some pretty sizeable moves yesterday was FX, where a bunch of separate headlines led to various currencies hitting multi-year records. Among the G10 currencies, the Swiss Franc hit its strongest level against the euro in over 6 years yesterday on an intraday basis. That came as the Covid wave has strengthened demand for haven assets, though it went on to weaken later in the day to close down -0.15%. Meanwhile, the Norwegian Krone was the weakest G10 performer (-0.72% vs USD) after the Norges Bank said it would be stopping its daily foreign exchange sales on behalf of the government for the rest of the month. Finally in EM there were some even bigger shifts, with the Turkish Lira falling to a record low against the US dollar, which follows the central bank’s decision to cut interest rates by 100bps, in line with expectations. And then in South Africa, the Rand also fell to its weakest in over a year, in spite of the central bank’s decision to hike rates, after the decision was interpreted dovishly. Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly higher led by the Nikkei (+0.45%), KOSPI (+0.43%), Shanghai Composite (+0.34%) and CSI (+0.18%). The Hang Seng (-1.76%) is sharply lower and fairly broad based but is being especially dragged down by Alibaba which dived -11% after it downgraded its outlook for fiscal year 2022 and missed sales estimate for the second quarter. Elsewhere in Japan headline CPI for October came in at +0.1% year-on-year (+0.2% consensus & +0.2% previous) while core CPI matched expectations at +0.1% year-on-year. The numbers reflect plunging mobile phone fees offsetting a 21% surge in gas prices. If the low mobile phone costs are stripped out, core inflation would be at 1.7% according to a Bloomberg calculation. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to deliver a bigger than expected stimulus package worth YEN 78.9 trillion ($690 bn) according to Bloomberg. We should know more tomorrow. Moving on futures are pointing to a positive start in US and Europe with S&P 500 (+0.42%) and DAX (+0.39%) futures both up. Turning to commodities, oil prices had been on track to move lower before paring back those losses, with Brent Crude (+1.20%) and WTI (+0.83%) both up by the close and edging up around half this amount again in Asia. That comes amidst continued chatter regarding strategic oil releases, and follows comments from a spokeswoman from China’s National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration, who Reuters reported as saying that they were releasing crude oil reserves. New York Fed President, and Vice Chair of the FOMC, John Williams, upgraded his assessment of inflation in public remarks yesterday. A heretofore stalwart member of team transitory, he noted that they wouldn’t want to see inflation expectations move much higher from here, and that recent price pressures have been broad-based, driving underlying inflation higher. Williams is one of the so-called core members of FOMC leadership, so his view carries some weight and is a useful barometer of momentum within the FOMC. Indeed, Chicago Fed President Evans, one of the most resolutely dovish Fed Presidents, expressed similar sentiment, recognising that rate hikes may need to come as early as 2022 given the circumstances. There wasn’t much in the way of data yesterday, though the weekly initial jobless claims from the US for the week through November 13 came in higher than expected at 268k (vs. 260k expected), and the previous week’s reading was also revised up +2k. That said, the 4-week moving average now stands at a post-pandemic low of 272.75k. Otherwise, the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing business outlook survey surprised to the upside at 39.0 in November (vs. 24.0 expected), the highest since April. That had signs of price pressures persisting, with prices paid up to 80.0, the highest since June, and prices received up to 62.9, the highest since June 1974. Finally, the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for November fell to 24 (vs. 28 expected). To the day ahead now, and central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Bundesbank President Weidmann, Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Waller and BoE Chief Economist Pill. Separately, data highlights include UK retail sales and German PPI for October. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/19/2021 - 08:11.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 19th, 2021

How The "Grand Chessboard" Led To US Checkmate In Afghanistan

How The "Grand Chessboard" Led To US Checkmate In Afghanistan Authored by Max Parry via Off-Guardian.org, Nearly as suspenseful as the Taliban’s meteoric return to power after the final withdrawal of American armed forces from Afghanistan is the uncertainty over what will come next amid the fallout... Many have predicted that Russia and China will step in to fill the power vacuum and convince the facelift Taliban to negotiate a power-sharing agreement in exchange for political and economic support, while others fear a descent into civil war is inevitable. Although Moscow and Beijing potentially stand to gain from the humiliating US retreat by pushing for an inclusive government in Kabul, the rebranded Pashtun-based group must first be removed as a designated terrorist organization. Neither wants to see Afghanistan worsen as a hotbed of jihad, as Islamist separatism already previously plagued Russia in the Caucasus and China is still in the midst of an ongoing ethnic conflict in Xinjiang with Uyghur Muslim secessionists and the Al Qaeda-linked Turkestan Islamic Party. At this point everyone recognizes the more serious extremist threat lies not with the Taliban but the emergence of ISIS Khorasan or ISIS-K, the Islamic State affiliate blamed for several recent terror attacks including the August 26th bombings at Hamid Karzai International Airport in the Afghan capital which killed 13 American service members and more than a 100 Afghans during the US drawdown. Three days later, American commanders ordered a retaliatory drone strike targeting a vehicle which they claimed was en route to detonate a suicide bomb at the same Kabul airport. For several days, the Pentagon falsely maintained that the aerial assault successfully took out two ISIS-K militants and a servile corporate media parroted these assertions unquestioningly, including concocting a totally fictitious report that the blast consisted of “secondary explosions” from devices already inside the car intended for use in an act of terror. Two weeks later, US Central Command (CENTCOM) was forced to apologize and admit the strike was indeed a “tragic mistake” which errantly killed ten innocent civilians — all of whom were members of a single family including seven children — while no Daesh members were among the dead. This distortion circulated in collusion between the endless war machine and the media is perhaps only eclipsed by the alleged Russian-Taliban bounty program story in its deceitfulness. If any Americans were aware of ISIS-K prior to the botched Kabul airstrike, they likely recall when former US President Donald Trump authorized the unprecedented use of a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, informally referred to as the “Mother Of All Bombs”, on Islamic State militants in Nangarhar Province back in 2017. Reportedly, Biden’s predecessor had to be shown photos from the 1970s of Afghan girls wearing miniskirts by his National Security Advisor, HR McMaster, to renege on his campaign pledge of ending the longest war in US history. As it happens, the ISIS Khorasan fighters extinguished by the MOAB were sheltered at an underground tunnel complex near the Pakistani border that was built by the CIA back in the 1980s during the Afghan-Soviet war. Alas, the irony of this detail was completely lost on mainstream media whose proclivity to treat Pentagon newspeak as gospel has been characteristic of not only the last twenty years of US occupation but four decades of American involvement in Afghanistan since Operation Cyclone, the covert Central Intelligence Agency plan to arm and fund the mujahideen, was launched in 1979. Frank Wisner, the CIA official who established Operation Mockingbird, the agency’s extensive clandestine program to infiltrate the news media for propaganda purposes during the the Cold War, referred to the press as it’s “Mighty Wurlitzer”, or a musical instrument played to manipulate public opinion. Langley’s recruitment of assets within the fourth estate was one of many illicit activities by the national security apparatus divulged in the limited hangout of the Church Committee during the 1970s, along with CIA complicity in coups, assassinations, illegal surveillance, and drug-induced brainwashing of unwitting citizens. At bottom, it wasn’t just the minds of human guinea pigs that ‘The Company’ sought to control but the news coverage consumed by Americans as well. In his testimony before a congressional select committee, Director of Central Intelligence William Colby openly acknowledged the use of spooks in journalism, as seen in the award-winning documentary Inside the CIA: On Company Business (1980). Unfortunately, the breadth of the secret project and its vetting of journalists wasn’t fully revealed until an article by Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame appeared in Rolling Stone magazine, whereas the series of official investigations only ended up salvaging the deep state by presenting such wrongdoings as rogue “abuses” rather than an intrinsic part of espionage in carrying out US foreign policy. The corrupt institution of Western media also punishes anyone within its ranks who dares to swim against the current. The husband and wife duo of Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, authors of a new memoir which illuminates the real story of Afghanistan, were two such journalists who learned just how the sausage is made in the nation’s capital with the connivance of the yellow press. Both veterans of the peace movement, Paul and Liz were initially among those who naively believed that America’s humiliation in Vietnam and the well-publicized hearings which discredited the intelligence community might lead to a sea change in Washington with the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976. In hindsight, there was actually good reason for optimism regarding the prospect for world peace in light of the arms reduction treaties and talks between the US and Moscow during the Nixon and Ford administrations, a silver lining to Henry Kissinger’s ‘realist’ doctrine of statecraft. However, any glimmer of hope in easing strained relations between the West and the Soviet Union was short-lived, as the few voices of reason inside the Beltway presuming good faith on the part of Moscow toward détente and nuclear proliferation were soon challenged by a new bellicose faction of DC think tank ghouls who argued that diplomacy jeopardized America’s strategic position and that the USSR sought global dominion. Since intelligence assessments inconveniently contradicted the claims of Soviet aspirations for strategic superiority, CIA Director George H.W. Bush consulted the purported expertise of a competitive group of intellectual warmongers known as ‘Team B’ which featured many of the same names later synonymous with the neoconservative movement, including Richard Pipes, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. Bush, Sr. had replaced the aforementioned Bill Colby following the notorious “Halloween Massacre” firings in the Gerald Ford White House, a political shakeup which also included Kissinger’s ouster as National Security Advisor and the promotion of a young Donald Rumsfeld to Secretary of Defense with his pupil, one Richard B. Cheney, named Chief of Staff. This proto-neocon soft coup allowed Team B and its manipulated estimates of the Soviet nuclear arsenal to undermine the ongoing Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between Washington and the Kremlin until Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev finally signed a second comprehensive non-proliferation treaty in June 1979. The behind-the-scenes split within the foreign policy establishment over which dogma would set external policymaking continued wrestling for power before the unipolarity of Team B prevailed thanks to the machinations of Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski. If intel appraisals of Moscow’s intentions and military capabilities didn’t match the Team B thesis, the Polish-American strategist devised a scheme to lure the USSR into a trap in Afghanistan to give the appearance of Soviet expansionism in order to convince Carter to withdraw from SALT II the following year and sabotage rapprochement. By the time it surfaced that the CIA was supplying weapons to Islamist insurgents in the Central Asian country, the official narrative dispensed by Washington was that it was aiding the Afghan people fight back against an “invasion” by the Red Army. Ironically, this was the justification for a proxy conflict which resulted in the deaths of at least 2 million civilians and eventually collapsed the socialist government in Kabul, setting off a bloody civil war and the emergence of the Taliban. Even so, it was the media which helped manage the perception that the CIA’s covert war began only after the Soviets had intervened. Meanwhile, the few honest reporters who tried to unveil the truth about what was happening were silenced and relegated to the periphery. Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould were the first two American journalists permitted entry into the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in 1981 by the Moscow-friendly government since Western correspondents had been barred from the country. What they witnessed firsthand on the ground could not have contrasted more sharply from the accepted tale of freedom fighters resisting a communist “occupation” disseminated by propaganda rags. Instead, what they discovered was an army of feudal tribesman and fanatical jihadists who blew up schools and doused women with acid as they waged a holy war against an autonomous, albeit flawed, progressive government in Kabul enacting land reforms and providing education for girls. In addition, they learned the Soviet military presence was being deliberately exaggerated by major outlets who either outright censored or selectively edited their exclusive accounts, beginning with CBS Evening News and later ABC’s Nightline. Not long after the Taliban established an Islamic emirate for the first time in the late 1990s, Brzezinski himself would shamelessly boast that Operation Cyclone had actually started in mid-1979 nearly six months prior to the deployment of Soviet troops later that year. Fresh off the publication of his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, the Russophobic Warsaw-native told the French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998: Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. Is this period, you were the National Security Advisor to President Carter. You therefore played a key role in this affair. Is this correct? Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujaheddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention. Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into the war and looked for a way to provoke it? B: It wasn’t quite like that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would. Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret US involvement in Afghanistan , nobody believed them. However, there was an element of truth in this. You don’t regret any of this today? B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime , a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire. Q: And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists? B: What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War? If this stunning admission straight from the horse’s mouth is too candid to believe, Fitzgerald and Gould obtain confirmation of Brzezinski’s Machiavellian confession from one of their own skeptics. Never mind that Moscow’s help had been requested by the legitimate Afghan government to defend itself against the US dirty war, a harbinger of the Syrian conflict more than three decades later when Damascus appealed to Russia in 2015 for military aid to combat Western-backed “rebel” groups. Paul and Liz also uncover CIA fingerprints all over the suspicious February 1979 assassination of Adolph Dubs, the American Ambassador to Afghanistan, whose negotiation attempts may have inadvertently thrown a wrench into Brzezinski’s ploy to draw the USSR into a quagmire. Spurring Carter to give his foreign policy tutor the green light to finance the Islamist proxies, the timely kidnapping and murder of the US diplomat at a Kabul hotel would be pinned on the KGB and the rest was history. The journo couple even go as far as to imply the branch of Western intelligence likely responsible for his murder was an agent from the Safari Club, an unofficial network between the security services of a select group of European and Middle Eastern countries which carried out covert operations during the Cold War across several continents with ties to the worldwide drug trade and Brzezinski. Although he was considered to be of the ‘realist’ school of international relations like Kissinger, Brzezinski’s plot to engineer a Russian equivalent of Vietnam in Afghanistan increased the clout of neoconservatism in Washington, a persuasion that would later reach its peak of influence in the George W. Bush administration. In retrospect, the need for a massive military buildup to achieve Pax Americana promoted by the war hawks in Team B was a precursor to the influential “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” manifesto by the Project for the New American Century cabal preceding 9/11 and the ensuing US invasion of Afghanistan. Fitzgerald and Gould also historically trace the ideological roots of neoconservatism to its intellectual foundations in the American Trotskyist movement during the 1930s. If a deviated branch of Marxism seems like an unlikely origin source for the right-wing interventionist foreign policy of the Bush administration, its basis is not as unexpected as it may appear. In fact, one of the main reasons behind the division between the Fourth International and the Comintern was over the national question, since Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution” called for expansion to impose global revolution unlike Stalin’s “socialism in one country” position which respected the sovereignty and self-determination of nation states while still giving support to national liberation movements. The authors conclude by highlighting how the military overhaul successfully championed by the neoconservatives marked the beginning of the end for US infrastructure maintenance as well. With public attention currently focused on the pending Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to repair decaying industry at home just as the disastrous Afghan pullout has put President Joe Biden’s favorability at an all-time low, Fitzgerald and Gould truly connect all the dots between the decline of America as a superpower with Brzezinski and Team B. Even recent statements by Jimmy Carter himself were tantamount when he spoke with Trump about China’s economic success which he attributed to Beijing’s lack of wasteful spending on military adventures, an incredible irony given the groundwork for the defense budget escalation begun under Ronald Reagan was laid by Carter’s own foreign policy. Looking back, the spousal team note that the ex-Georgia governor did not need much coaxing after all to betray his promises as a candidate, considering his rise to the presidency was facilitated by his membership alongside Brzezinski in the Trilateral Commission, an elite Rockefeller-funded think tank. What is certain is that Paul and Liz have written an indispensable book that gives a level of insight into the Afghan story only attainable from their four decades of scholarly work on the subject. The Valediction: Three Nights of Desmond is now available from Trine Day Press and the timing of its release could not offer better context to recent world events. Tyler Durden Thu, 11/18/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 19th, 2021

A murder, a warning, and existential dread in Afghanistan

The murder of Afghan activist Frozan Safi has contributed to the climate of fear in Mazar-e Sharif, a hub for people evacuating Afghanistan. A woman walks past a mural in Mazar-i-Sharif on Oct. 31, 2021.WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images Frozan Safi, a well-known women's rights defender, was found dead this month in Mazar-e Sharif, a city in northern Afghanistan. A widely-seen security warning that spread over messaging apps was probably a hoax but contributed to the unease.  The city has served as one of the hubs for people looking to leave Afghanistan since the Taliban took power on Aug. 15.  In early November, Frozan Safi, a well-known activist and economics lecturer, and three other people were found dead in Mazar-e Sharif, one of Afghanistan's biggest cities. According to one report, Safi, who was 29, might have been tricked into thinking she was going to a safe house as she waited for her asylum application to be approved.  At around the same time, a message labeled "Important security alert" was spreading on WhatsApp among the city's English speakers. It claimed that a "death squad is posing as a Western human rights and rescue organization" and, using English, "summoning people in hiding to meet then executing them." The message linked this supposed squad to the killings in Mazar.The message was very likely a hoax, but it seemed to confirm people's worst fears. Whatever the source, the warning text fed into a sense of acute unease in Mazar, which has served as one of the hubs for people looking to leave the country since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on Aug. 15. Multiple evacuation flights have left from the city's airport, bringing Afghan journalists, military interpreters, and others here from the capital, Kabul, and other provinces.Journalists, lawyers, NGO and security workers, and English speakers say there's a sense that danger could come from anywhere – mafia groups, a rogue Taliban fighter, or a common criminal who feels emboldened to act out on personal grudge – and it's not clear where to turn for help. "Mazar is a small place. It doesn't take a lot of time for people to figure out who you are, what you do," said Qudsia Shojazada, a local activist and journalist who helped organize women's protests during the first weeks after the Taliban took control in mid-August. 'You worked with the foreigners to split up families'The Taliban took control of Mazar, one of Afghanistan's economic and cultural hubs, on Aug. 13. Two days later, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, and, two weeks after that, the US military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan and ended its 20-year war. Since then, Zainab, a Mazar resident in her 20s, has been extra cautious when she goes out in the city. Before leaving the house, she makes sure to put on her sunglasses, cover as much of her body as she can, and wear minimal makeup – all to avoid being recognized.Though many of the other women and girls who venture out into the city dress largely as they used to before the Taliban takeover, Zainab says the years she spent working with lawyers on family law cases make her a target. (Insider is using a pseudonym.) Taliban fighters enter the Hazrat-e-Ali, or Blue Mosque, shrine in Mazar-i-Sharif on Oct. 30, 2021.WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty ImagesZainab was among those who saw the frightening message. Regardless of its source, things like that have increased her sense of unease. "There are a lot of people with resentment and grudges against us," she said. "Eventually they will find out that I worked on cases involving domestic abuse and divorce. What if they say to me, 'You were part of the problem, you worked with the foreigners to split up families.'"Zainab says both men and women who had worked with legal, human rights and Western-funded agencies are going to great lengths to remain "as anonymous as possible" in the city. "I saw one female lawyer who had worked on divorce cases, you could tell she was trying so hard to change her appearance," Zainab said. "People who were active in society don't feel safe and comfortable anymore."A rare, confirmed killingIn Mazar, as in other Afghan cities, there have been multiple reports of abuse and intimidation of journalists, protesters, and professionals linked to US forces by the Taliban's foot soldiers. A former resident of Mazar, who has since relocated to Canada and spoke to Insider on condition of anonymity, has heard from relatives and friends that targeted killings in Mazar have increased over the last three weeks.But with the country's once-vibrant media largely extinguished, it's difficult to know what's really happening in the country, and such rumors are difficult to confirm. Local media has struggled under the Taliban's intimidation and a lack of funding since, like many Afghan institutions, it was heavily reliant on financial support from the West. The country is also facing a cash crunch since the US and international bodies like the World Bank and the IMF cut off access to $9.5 billion in assets and loans. In a statement issued last month, the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) said that 70 percent of media outlets across the country have closed. "Media reporting quality has reached to its lowest level in the last 20 years," it said. The murder of Safi and the three others – they have still not been publicly identified – was the rare case that the Taliban confirmed, and with that came a wave of press attention. —Zahra Rahimi (@ZahraSRahimi) November 5, 2021 In a video statement posted online, a spokesman for the Taliban's Ministry of Interior, Qari Saeed Khosti, said the victims had been "invited to the house" by the alleged killers. He didn't name the assailants, but said they had been detained. Zabihullah Noorani, the Head of the Taliban's Cultural Commission in Balkh province, said in an interview that the killings were the result of a "personal issue" and had nothing to do with politics.Addressing more general security fears, the Taliban's Supreme Leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, said in a statement issued last week that there may be "unknown" entities among their ranks who are "working against the will of the government," and that these individuals will be punished.'Farming onions in hiding'On the streets of Mazar, the Taliban are much less visible compared to Kabul and Jalalabad, another major city. But their presence is felt. Male shopkeepers, students, and taxi drivers in the city told Insider they feel comfortable in the city and that petty crime has come to a near halt in Mazar. But those who were involved in social and political matters do not share that same sense of ease.Afghan schoolgirls returning from school in Mazar-i-Sharif on Oct. 30, 2021.WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images"The day after the Taliban took Mazar, we went to the office and turned in whatever was still in our possession," said a former security worker in Mazar, who described himself as a desk worker who was mostly "behind a computer" and had little direct involvement in operations.  His attempt to appease the group was of little use, even though Taliban officials declared a general amnesty when they took over the country, He said he still receives calls from the Taliban saying he has yet to turn over weapons and vehicles belonging to the government, a claim he denies. Patricia Gossman, Associate Asia Director for Human Rights Watch, said the security worker's case is in line with other accounts she's heard from the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Kunduz, Paktia, Nangarhar, and Ghazni. Gossman said HRW is still awaiting the Taliban's response to the cases the rights group has documented.Fearing abuse and retaliation, the 36-year-old has since left the city and moved to his family's home in a district more than 40 kilometers away. He says he feels robbed of everything he worked for. "I went to college and earned a degree and now I'm just farming potatoes and onions in hiding," he said.  Too scared to speak upIn the immediate aftermath of the Taliban taking power, women-led protests were held in Mazar and other major cities. But by September, they had largely stopped. Shojazada, the local activist who helped organize the demonstrations in Mazar, said she has been in hiding ever since and has changed where she lives several times. The Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif, the city's major landmark, is seen on July 12, 2020.Kawa Basharat/Xinhua via Getty ImagesShe said that several fellow activists have been detained simply for their previous work, and she has received reports of targeted killings and disappearances in the city. The Taliban's intelligence in Mazar is "very powerful," she said.  Shojazada knows this even from the experience of her own family. Over the summer, one of Shojazada's brothers joined the government-sponsored People's Uprising movement to fight off the Taliban's fast-moving advances. He was detained shortly after the Taliban took power despite the promised amnesty. As she relays the story, Shojazada is cautious not to reveal too much for fear of inspiring further retaliation against their family. A short while later, when a friend of hers was arrested and held for 20 days after taking part in a protest in September, Shojazada said the family resisted help to avoid angering the Taliban. "They didn't want anyone to know that their son had been arrested," Shojazada told Insider. "We had to work so hard to gain their trust just so we could try and help them however we could."  "People in Mazar are terrified to speak up," she said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 18th, 2021

The Rittenhouse Case Proves The Establishment Wants To Bring Back Star Chamber Tyranny

The Rittenhouse Case Proves The Establishment Wants To Bring Back Star Chamber Tyranny Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, One of the most interesting stories from the early days leading up to the American Revolution involves the events surrounding the Boston Massacre. On March 5th, 1770 the Stamp Act had just been repealed but British Soldiers were ever present in Boston as a show of force against the “rowdy” colonists. The British government, in order to save face, implemented the Townshend Acts instead as a means to continue taxing the colonies (without representation, of course). Anger was growing in the streets. The presence of the Red Coats in the city added to the public fury and protests were sparked. One such protest was raging in front of the Custom House on King Street over a disagreement between wig maker Henry Knox and a soldier. The argument grew into what was later described as a riot. Allegedly, the crowd became violent and started throwing objects at the soldiers. One of the soldiers let off a shot and then someone yelled “Fire!”, causing all the Red Coats to shoot into the crowd killing five of them and injuring others. The colonial justice system could have chosen to use their position to railroad the soldiers in question and make an ideological example out of them. Instead, in the first trial of Captain John Preston, ample legal representation was given (the lawyer was John Adams, who would later become the 2nd President of the US), along with a fair trial. Adams’ position that the soldiers believed they were under imminent danger of bodily harm convinced the jury and a not-guilty verdict was given for the majority of the soldiers, with manslaughter charges for two of them. Adams felt that his victory in the defense of the British soldiers was actually a victory for the colonies and ultimately the Revolution. You see, the British looked upon the colonials as “insurrectionists” and barbarians. They did not think that a fair trial for a soldier in the colonies was even possible. By proving them wrong with grace, logic and objectivity, Adams and the jury destroyed a common lie perpetuated by the monarchy and the British establishment. The colonies had more honor than the British did. This lack of honor among the British establishment became evident before and during the Revolutionary War when the “Star Chamber” became the defacto law of the monarchy in the colonies. The Star Chamber was an elitist-operated “justice system” or tribunal originally designed so that the British aristocracy was assured a fair trial whenever they actually faced a criminal charge. In other words, it was a special court for the power elites that was separate and superior to the courts used for average peasants. Publicly, it was also presented as a means for commoners to redress grievances against aristocrats, but it was well understood that the Star Chamber would rarely go against the nobility UNLESS they had also offended the king. If they went against the king, they would be black-bagged like anyone else. During the unrest in the colonies, however, the Star Chamber was used in a different manner; it became a weapon to crush dissent among subjects that spoke out against the empire and sowed the seeds of “sedition”. The dreaded court was highly secretive and the public was often obstructed from its proceedings. Its rulings were overseen by the establishment rather than a jury and in many cases those people being charged were never given a chance to defend themselves. They were sentenced before they ever entered a courtroom, if they entered a courtroom at all. Silence was often considered an admission of guilt rather than a right of the accused. Punishments were brutal, including torture and imprisonment under the worst possible conditions. The death penalty was not allowed, but the court would instead place defendants in conditions so horrible that they tended to die on their own. All of this was justified under the claim that every person charged was treasonous, and therefore they did not deserve a fair trial among their peers. After the war was over and the British were defeated, the Founding Fathers drafted large portions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in order to counter and prevent the same abuses they saw under the Star Chamber. The 5th Amendment in particular was directly inspired as a way to stop Star Chamber-like abuses of court power. But lets leap ahead to current day, where we find that the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, now nearing its end, has beyond anything else revealed a vicious intention by the establishment to bring back the oppression of the Star Chamber through the media manipulated court of public opinion, mob rule as well as violations of well established constitutional law. The political left could have chosen the path of reason, allowing justice to take its natural course through a display of objectivity and fairness as John Adams and the colonials did during the Boston Massacre trial. They have instead chosen to take the same route as the British, motivated by a “win at any cost” mentality, using lies, strategic omissions, censorship and threats of mob violence to turn the Rittenhouse trial into a political proxy war. Here are just a handful of examples that show the establishment and the media are seeking to undermine centuries of normal constitutional protections including the right of self defense… The Kenosha “Peaceful Protest” Misdirection First, lets be clear that the media’s handling of the entire Kenosha incident was corrupt from the very beginning. Aside from refusing to call the riots that erupted what they were – RIOTS, the media has also consistently mischaracterized the police shooting as brutality against black suspect Jacob Blake. Blake, crippled by the incident, has been painted as a “victim and hero” in the news. In reality, Blake had a warrant out for his arrest including trespassing, disorderly conduct and sexual assault. The police were made aware of this before they attempted to detain him. Blake also had a history of resisting arrest, and of course attempted to do so again in Kenosha. Videos clearly show Blake trying to march away from officers and jump back into his vehicle. The media claimed Blake was unarmed, yet he is also clearly holding a karambit style knife in the same videos, which the police ordered him to drop and he refused. The Wisconsin DOJ confirmed that Blake was armed and Blake himself admitted to having the knife. Officers were already on edge as Blake tried to reach into his car, or use his car to get away, or possibly use the car as a weapon. Frankly, Blake’s history and behavior at the scene make him a criminal, not a hero or a victim. All this information was readily available within about a day of the event. The media attempted to hide these FACTS surrounding his shooting from the public and deliberately sowed seeds of unrest. And the ignorant and reactionary people within the BLM movement ate up the propaganda. When violence broke out, the media portrayed the riots as “peaceful protests” for “racial justice”. Even though, just as with George Floyd, there was no evidence whatsoever that racial motivations had anything to do with it. The riots were based on lies from beginning to end, and this false narrative has bled into and tainted the handling of the Kyle Rittenhouse case – For even if Rittenhouse was defending himself from attackers, the attackers are still presented as the “good guys” because they were fighting for “racial justice”, which again, is simply not true. The Kid Defending Himself Was Actually The Villain Because He Defended Himself? The prosecution in the Rittenhouse case should have watched the widely available video evidence (and the secret FBI evidence) and seen that without a shadow of a doubt Rittenhouse was defending himself from an unprovoked attack by an unhinged mob. It is no coincidence that every person Rittenhouse was forced to shoot had a violent criminal record, including Joseph Rosenbaum who had multiple convictions for pedophilia including 11 counts of child molestation. These people were chasing Rittenhouse because they intended to do him harm just as they had done others harm. The media and the prosecution offer a bizarrely disconnected view, in which Kyle Rittenhouse “provoked” the mob into attacking him simply because he was there and because he had a firearm. Multiple witnesses and FBI surveillance footage indicate Joseph Rosenbaum chased and then attacked Rittenhouse, trying to take his rifle by force, which was why he was shot. But this does not matter in the Star Chamber. Lead Prosecutor Thomas Binger openly argued that Rittenhouse ‘lost his right to self defense because he was carrying a gun.’ Binger apparently overlooks the fact that one of Rittenhouse’s attackers, Gaige Grosskreutz, had a gun (illegally due to his felony record) and admitted in court that he ran at Rittenhouse with the weapon pointed at him when Rittenhouse shot him. But somehow, only Kyle’s gun was the cause of the violence and all his attackers were responding to the threatening presence of his weapon? This has been the overarching crux of the prosecution’s case as well as the media narrative: They say Rittenhouse should be treated as an “active shooter” and that the leftist mob was leaping into action, bravely trying to stop him. This does not translate at all when we watch the video of the event; it is clear that Rittenhouse is being pursued by the mob and and they attack him from behind, causing him to fall to the ground. Only then does he defend himself with the rifle against his attackers, including Anthony Huber who tried to bash Kyle’s head in with a skateboard and Grosskreutz who ran at him with a Glock. To clarify, because this may not be a widely understood factor, if someone is trying to get away from you, you cannot attack them and then legally claim “self defense” was your motive. Only police officers have the right to physically detain a person who is trying to escape. Also, if Rittenhouse was an “active shooter” you would think he would have fired belligerently into the crowd, but he did not; he only fired on the people trying to hurt him. The prosecution and media narratives are a blatant attack on the right of self defense in general. In closing arguments, the prosecution argued that Rittenhouse was a “coward” that should have used his fists to fight off the angry mob instead of using his rifle; displaying a clear intent to attack not just Rittenhouse, but overall gun rights. The case itself is obviously politically slanted against Rittenhouse because he is a conservative. Had this been a leftist shooting a mob of conservatives under the same circumstances at the Jan 6th riot I doubt it would have ever gone to trial. The implications of this are far reaching. If Rittenhouse is found guilty despite all the evidence to the contrary, the assertion will then be that self defense is no longer a protected right for anyone with the wrong politics. It will be seen as open season on conservatives at any such events in the future and all defense law will come into question, especially any defense law that involves gun rights. The 5th Amendment Attack And The Strategy Of Subverting A Trial Various establishment institutions have been trying to undermine the 5th Amendment and the right to remain silent for decades now. Once again, we saw this evidenced in the Rittenhouse trial when prosecutors sought to attack the defendant on potential evidence that was ostensibly dismissed before the trial by the judge. The prosecution asked questions related to the evidence anyway. The judge removed the jury from the room and then chastised Binger, who then proceeded to question Rittenhouse’s right to remain silent on the issue. This may seem to be overly complicated legal jousting, but this action by the prosecution was an aggressive attempt to taint the jury with misconceptions of the defendant as a violent “vigilante” rather than the victim of a mob attack. Also, questioning a defendant’s right to remain silent is belligerent to say the least. But beyond that, the faux pas by the prosecution could have led to an immediate mistrial declared. Keep in mind that the prosecution had already suffered numerous failures and the case was going downhill for them. I suspect that this may have been an attempt by Binger to deliberately cause a mistrial and to retry Rittenhouse at a later date, undoing his many mistakes and getting another opportunity to bury Rittenhouse despite his innocence. This is how the Star Chamber begins – When you can be tried over and over again until the establishment gets the outcome they wanted. Furthermore, if the right to remain silent comes into question, then any refusal to answer questions could become an assumed admission of guilt. Silencing The Alternative Media And Obstructing Honest Reporting Perhaps the most blatant act by the establishment has been to use Big Tech to censor various elements and observations of the Rittenhouse trial. Facebook and Twitter have been policing Rittenhouse related posts, and YouTube blocked the majority of independent streamers covering the live closing arguments of the case. The mainstream media has completely avoided any mention of this decision, but of course they would; it makes them the only source for case coverage and their narrative the only narrative. And how about that thermal surveillance evidence from the FBI that only saw the light of day in the middle of the trail? Withholding evidence is a direct obstruction of justice but also a direct attempt to undermine public insight into the case. The narrative is easier to fabricate if one filters out any evidence that contradicts it. This control of the narrative has led to widespread disinformation in the Rittenhouse case. There are still many leftists out there that actually think the people Kyle shot were black and that Rittenhouse is a “racist.” The media has asserted for the past year that Rittenhouse’s self defense was somehow related to “white supremacy.” Media hacks like CNN’s Don Lemon have also insinuated that the judge in the case is biased and possibly racist. The media has asserted that if Rittenhouse is not found guilty that riots will erupt once again to provide punishment where the courts “failed.” If riots do explode, it will be because of the misleading and poisonous lies constantly spread by the same mainstream media. But let’s think about the consequences of this for a moment… The Star Chamber is an ideal tyrannical tool, but the establishment and leftists do not have it in hand yet. They want it badly, and their behavior during the Rittenhouse case makes this clear. I REPEAT: The Star Chamber is not upon us yet, but it is coming soon if these people get their way. Rule by the mob goes well beyond the effects of the Star Chamber, but this could be by design. Think of it this way: Say Rittenhouse is found Not Guilty, and BLM mobs burn down Kenosha in response. Future courts and future juries in similar cases might then decide it’s easier to ignore facts and evidence so that mob violence is avoided and the leftists are appeased. The Star Chamber will return because it will be seen as a preferable alternative to national riots. The Star Chamber will become a mechanism for the “greater good” and the establishment will get what it wanted all along. This cannot be allowed to happen. The Rittenhouse trial does not represent a singular shooting event and an isolated case for self defense, it represents a fulcrum point for the very fabric of our society and what justice will actually mean in the years to come. If an obviously innocent kid is convicted of murder merely because of his political beliefs, or if the mob is allowed to burn and destroy swaths of a city because the verdict is Not Guilty, then every effort the Founding Fathers made to stop the creation of another Star Chamber will be erased. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/17/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 18th, 2021

Biden has the power to lower your price at the gas pump, and he"s facing increasing pressure to do so

Biden asked OPEC to boost oil production, but the cartel refused. Now he's eyeing several new options for dragging gas prices back to normal levels. A person pumps gasoline at a Conoco gas station, a brand owned by Phillips 66, in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., November 11, 2021.Andrew Kelly/Reuters Biden could cool gasoline prices, one of the biggest drivers of today's historic inflation. The White House is reportedly eyeing options as lawmakers and Americans call for a fix. Possible actions range from an oil export ban to tapping the goverment's underground oil stockpile. While Biden can't do much about overall inflation, he has a few options when it comes to rising gasoline prices. And he's being urged to choose one.Prices of nearly every good and service in the US are soaring at the fastest pace since 1990 — especially when it comes to energy. With Biden's approval ratings plummeting and Americans' recovery hopes dashed, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pressuring his administration to fight back.Energy prices climbed 4.8% in October, according to the Consumer Price Index. Gasoline prices leaped 6.1% — the largest one-month jump since March. While the president can't quash broad inflation like the Federal Reserve can, but the White House has a few tools to solve the problem.Biden has 3 options to fight inflation at the pumpLikely the easiest one to leverage is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The reserve is a government complex of deep underground storage wells that, as of Friday, hold more than 600 million barrels of crude oil. The SPR isn't usually used to change gasoline prices, but key Democrats are already pressing the administration to tap the massive stockpile."We're here today because we need immediate relief at the gas pump and the place to look is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said during a Sunday news conference in New York. "Let's get the price of gas down right now. And this will do it."To be sure, using the SPR probably wouldn't solve the price problem for good. The reserve stores crude oil, meaning it would take some time for oil to be refined into pumpable gasoline. The stockpile is also limited and it can't permanently close the gap between driver demand and gasoline supply.But the world's most influential oil group has already denied Biden's calls for more product. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries declined to boost production earlier in November despite soaring prices and overwhelming demand.OPEC's refusal has led the White House to prepare a multifaceted approach for lowering prices. Along with tapping the SPR, the Biden administration is mulling regulatory changes that would allow refiners to turn more crude oil into gasoline, according to Bloomberg. Among the actions is a relaxing of the rule to mix gasoline with biofuels. Easing the mandate would help more supply hit the market and, in turn, ease prices.The White House could also ban oil exports to keep more supply in the US, but administration officials have balked at such measures so far. Holding back exports could hurt relations with other countries, particularly those the Biden administration aims to restore diplomacy with after disputes with the Trump administration, Bloomberg reported.No matter what Biden does to cool gasoline inflation, the fixes don't need to last forever. Energy prices will fall by 7% over the next 12 months, David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan, said in a Monday note. Oil production is expected to "increase sharply" in the year ahead, he added.The eventual cooldown won't just dampen gas prices. A 7% drop in energy prices will subtract 0.5% from broad inflation, Kelly said. If the decline in energy prices is the only change in CPI from October 2021 to October 2022, the inflation measure will still plunge to 3.5% from 6.2%, he added.In other words, the best long-term solution is to wait it out.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 15th, 2021

Some Say Occupy Wall Street Did Nothing. It Changed Us More Than We Think

Ten years ago, on November 15, Occupy Wall Street was pepper-sprayed into the night by a squadron of police officers who helped shovel the tents, books, and placards left by activists into a fleet of sanitation trucks. A messy, motley, and spirited demonstration, Occupy started as a march of some 2,000 people in lower Manhattan… Ten years ago, on November 15, Occupy Wall Street was pepper-sprayed into the night by a squadron of police officers who helped shovel the tents, books, and placards left by activists into a fleet of sanitation trucks. A messy, motley, and spirited demonstration, Occupy started as a march of some 2,000 people in lower Manhattan that mushroomed to approximately 1,000 similar protests across the country. It seized enough media coverage to appear like a moment in the making, as it amplified outrage over America’s skewed distribution of wealth and opportunity. And yet, as quickly as it started, it was gone within 59 days. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] In the decade since its demise, scores of observers—and even participants—have said Occupy Wall Street fell short. Pundits including New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin have written that it will amount to nothing more than an asterisk in the history books. Then, there’s Micah White, editor at the activist magazine Adbusters. White’s email blast before the protest began is credited with sparking the idea behind Occupy. But in the 10 years since the protest ended, White has deemed Occupy a disappointment since it never achieved what it set out to do. In his 2016 book, The End of Protest. A New Playbook for Revolution, White wrote, “an honest assessment reveals that Occupy Wall Street failed to live up to its revolutionary potential: We did not bring an end to the influence of money on democracy, overthrow the corporatocracy of the 1 percent or solve income inequality.” He concluded by calling Occupy “a constructive failure because the movement revealed underlying flaws in dominant and still prevalent theories of how to achieve social change through collective action.” At first glance, it might seem as if Occupy came and went without leaving much of a legacy. It never solidified around a specific set of demands, nor did it generate a concrete platform. There’s no significant flesh-and-bones organization to point to as its heir. And it never anointed a leadership team. There’s a big problem with that conclusion, however: Occupy’s messaging just won’t go away. It permeates political discourse about the global economy. It has cemented notions of economic inequality squarely in D.C. policy debates. Ideas that were thought to be too socialist since the demise of the Eastern Bloc—class struggle, wealth distribution across social strata, or even flaws in the capitalist system—were suddenly aired loudly and frequently for the first time since the Great Depression. Sparking new youth movements Occupy, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz told TIME, “is part of a series of events that precipitate an understanding of the limitations of corporate America, something that today has morphed into a sense of the misdeeds not only by the financial sector, the fossil fuel sector, and now by big tech. It was the first critique that crystallized it in a very powerful way. Subsequent movements built on growing understanding, a sense that the corporate sector is not really serving American interests.” Occupy also seized the imagination of two key demographics on the rise. The first of these: Millennials, many of whom participated in the movement’s Manhattan launch or any of the similar protests around the country. The sustained protest also left a lasting impression on Generation Z, a cohort that was just becoming aware of a turbulent world around it. Powered by youthful exuberance, Occupy not only roused a spirit of protest, but also helped create a template for peaceful resistance that could include equal measures of social media and old-fashioned physical presence. Not bad for two weeks of work—or as Vladimir Lenin wrote, “In some decades nothing happens—in some weeks decades happen.” Millennials were pivotal in getting Occupy’s message out to participants and the media alike. A majority of participants were young students and college graduates who were steeped in student loan debt, according to CUNY sociologist Ruth Milkman’s studies of New York City’s Occupy enclave. As the first American generation to embrace social media, they used Twitter and Facebook to issue a call to action and later coordinate activities. Electrical outlets at Zuccotti Park made it possible to set up a makeshift communications post, one protesters used to contact media and document daily activities. Read More: The Racial Reckoning Went Global Last Year. Here’s How Activists in 8 Countries Are Fighting for Justice Occupy was not created by any one centralized group, nor did it give birth to an organization of formal movement. It embraced an open-source, horizontal structure, more in line with a software developer’s organizational hierarchy. Key figures in the movement including late-professor and long-time activist David Graeber said the structure was deliberate, the goal being a new democratic model which would follow the will of the people. The result, however, was a standstill mired in glacial debates that failed to produce a platform or leadership. And yet, Occupy seem to pull in support from disparate groups. The attraction lay in the fact that Occupy membership was never limited by narrow goals or messaging, says American University marketing professor Sonya Grier. “It was broad enough to capture all the associations the American public could generate at the time,” she says. “Even absent a unifying strategic action plan, Occupy Wall Street had the legs to spread to different societal groups in a way that continues to the present.” A long line of protests followed in Occupy’s wake and owe it a debt of gratitude. With the help of Occupy veterans, the Fight for $15 fair wage movement started less than a year after the Zuccotti Park encampment was shut down. Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, the anti-Trump women’s marches, and the March for Our Lives certainly drew inspiration from Occupy. The movement helped propel Bernie Sanders’ Democratic-Socialist presidential campaign. There is a direct link between Occupy’s focus on economic disparity and the ascendancy of the Democratic party’s Progressive caucus. “The success of Occupy opened the eyes of a lot of participants to what protest was and how it could make a difference,” says CUNY’s Milkman. “In a way, it made protest cool for a new generation of young people for the first time since the late 1960’s.” Millennials are often maligned as a changeable and disconnected generation glued to their smartphone screens. That’s off the mark, says CUNY’s Milkman whose studies have tracked a group of several hundred Occupiers over time. She says a substantial majority have continued a commitment to change, some as activists, some as participants in other social movements, and some as labor organizers. In many ways, Occupy’s function as a loudspeaker marked a tipping point for other groups as well. In 2011, labor unions saw an opening, and several declared support for Occupy or marched including New York City transit workers, a Teamsters local, and later longshoremen at an Oakland, California offshoot. In 2016, a wave of teachers strikes in red states such as Oklahoma and Kentucky were organized by Millennials via social media. And the labor movement’s Striketober muscle flexing this year likely drew some inspiration from Occupy. Read More: What the Labor Movement Needs to Keep ‘Striketober’ Going, According to New AFL-CIO Leader Liz Shuler A wave of media exposure Location played a big part, too. Occupy’s headquarters was, of course, in America’s news media capital. Base camp for the movement was Zuccotti Park, a compact 33,000 square-foot public space small enough to be a guilt slice in the glutton’s banquet that is lower Manhattan real estate. The irony: Zuccotti was privately owned. Its owners had won a zoning concession that prevented Mayor Michael Bloomberg from outright evicting Occupy’s protesters and helped its longevity. From the start, Occupy delivered drama. Early on, New York Police pepper-sprayed several female Occupiers. Later, police clashed with march participants and arrested 700 protesters. The result was a groundswell of publicity. Occupy started slowly, drawing in 2% of total news coverage by the end of its second week, as measured by the Pew Research Center. By mid-November, that number had grown steadily to 13% while driving economic issues to absorb almost a quarter of newscasts. For perspective, consider two numbers. The first is 20+ million, the combined audience that sat down for evening newscasts of the big three broadcasters ABC, CBS, and NBC, according to Nielsen. At an average cost of $55,000 for a 30-second commercial slot, Occupy at its peak was generating a level of media attention roughly equivalent of nearly $1 million in free advertising nightly. By the beginning of its second month, the exposure was helping Occupy make inroads. A survey conducted in late October found a slim majority of participants (39% to 35%) supported rather than opposed the movement. Contrast those numbers with a 32%-44% support/oppose ratio generated by the Tea Party movement at the time and Occupy’s pull becomes clear. “When mainstream media, politicians and people milling at the water cooler are talking about political and economic inequality, the Occupiers are winning,” wrote University of California Irvine political science professor David S. Meyer at the time. The origins of ‘the 1%’ Any retrospective of Occupy must include serious consideration of its rallying cry: “We are the 99%.” Economists such as Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty may have already been studying the way inequality had wedged a shockingly wide gap between haves-in-excess and have-nots, but in just 14 characters, Occupy organizers created a message that framed the outrage millions and put “the 1%” on notice. They were armed with a deft turn of phrase made for daily distribution on a crescendo of news coverage. In this way, Occupy echoed the Tea Party and millions of others on the political left, right and center who were suffering during the height of the Great Recession and concurrently expressing outrage at bank bailouts that left them stranded. Occupy’s message continues to resonate. Exhibit A: President Joe Biden, who has targeted the 1% repeatedly while pushing to overhaul U.S. tax policy to help fund infrastructure improvements and an aggressive social agenda. His administration is also reportedly seeking to make good on yet another of Occupy’s ideas: debt cancellation. The 2020 Democratic Party platform pointed out that incomes for the top 1% in the country were growing five times faster than those of the bottom 90 percent. And let’s not forget Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose “Tax the Rich” dress at this year’s Met Gala event seems to leap straight out of an Occupy pret-a-porter evening collection. Read More: Erasing Student Debt Makes Economic Sense. So Why Is It So Hard to Do? “Occupy’s legacy is the commonsense attention to inequality,” says author Astra Taylor who participated in the protest and later co-authored a book chronicling its day-to-day progression. “Structural issues such as poverty were examined before Occupy, but were subterranean in American discourse,” she says. “Occupy brought them to the surface and in that way made the everyday experience of real people news.” Occupy’s unprecedented media success helped make the 99% and 1% labels commonplace. The nine months preceding Occupy were marked by global upheaval, so much so that TIME named “The Protester” the person of the year in 2011. The Arab Spring of 2011 had toppled despotic governments in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. In Europe, the Indignados protests against the Spanish government’s austerity measures followed soon after. By the time of its launch on September 17, Occupy had emerged as the latest in a global wave of mass discontent. A legacy left, right and center The lasting effects of Occupy are not isolated to the Left. A surge in populism is visible across the American political spectrum and much of the Right’s messaging can be traced back to the discontent Occupy crystallized. Donald Trump was able to leapfrog a crowd of Republican contenders in 2016 in part by hinting early on about raising taxation rates for the rich—only to U-turn later. His close adviser, Steve Bannon has identified a growing distrust of elites by a predominately white working class as key to Trump’s popularity. “The notion of money corrupting politics, of corporate welfare, and of crony capitalism—this is the stuff that left- and right-wing populism are made of,” says Robert Reich, formerly an economic adviser to the Clinton administration. Indeed, Bannon, whose film Occupy Unmasked claimed to expose an orgy of criminality at the heart of the protest, nevertheless took up positions about the abandonment of the working class that mirrored the movement’s tone. Bannon frequently pointed to his father’s loss of life savings when AT&T stock tanked in the 2008 market drop as prime motivation. Occupy’s wide appeal was fueled by shared frustration, more specifically a sense of disconnect between commonfolk and the government. “The idea is essentially that the system is not going to save us, we’re going to have to save ourselves,” said activist Graeber two days after Occupy launched. The 1%, meanwhile, has all but written Occupy off. The movement had no discernible impact on banking. No corporate regulation is directly linked to it. Ten years later, Wall Street and corporate America are bursting at the seams. Since 2011, the S&P 500 has climbed over 325% and now has a combined market capitalization of $39 trillion. Over the last 10 years, the wealthiest have gotten robust tax breaks thanks to a sizable windfall in the Trump tax cuts of 2017. And some measures find that members of the 1% grabbed hold an additional $7 trillion in wealth during the pandemic alone. Economist Thomas Piketty, who authored two seminal books on inequality in the last decade— Capital in the 21st Century (2013) and Capital and Ideology (2019)—says, “Inequality has been moving to the center stage since Occupy and Capital, but it is not enough. The process will continue and will probably be accelerated by COVID and global warming, but the forces of resistance (especially the power of money on political campaigns, think tanks, universities, the media, etc.) are still very strong.” He adds, “What makes me optimistic is that it’s always been like this: elites fight to maintain extreme inequality, but in the end there is a long-run movement toward more equality, at least since the end of the 18th century, and it will continue.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 15th, 2021

In "Unwelcome Surprise" To Dutch, Shell To Ditch Dual Share Structure, Move Tax Base To UK, Drop "Royal Dutch" From Name

In "Unwelcome Surprise" To Dutch, Shell To Ditch Dual Share Structure, Move Tax Base To UK, Drop "Royal Dutch" From Name In a surprise corporate overhaul which the Dutch government branded an "unwelcome surprise", Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday it would scrap its dual share structure and move its head office to Britain from the Netherlands, pushed away by Dutch taxes and facing climate pressure in court as the energy giant shifts from oil and gas. The company, which long faced questions from investors about its dual structure and had recently been hit by a Dutch court order over its climate targets, will also drop "Royal Dutch" from its name - part of its identity since 1907 - to become Shell Plc. The Anglo-Dutch firm has been in a long-running tussle with the Dutch authorities over the country's 15% dividend withholding tax, which Shell sought to avoid paying with its two share classes. Its new single structure would resolve that issue and allow Shell to strike swifter sale or acquisition deals. "The current complex share structure is subject to constraints and may not be sustainable in the long term," Shell said, as it announced its plan to change the structure. The move requires at least 75% of votes by shareholders at a general meeting to be held on Dec. 10, the company said. "We see merits in the proposed restructuring of Shell's shares structure and tax residence. Among other benefits, the proposed changes will increase Shell's ability to buy back shares," Jefferies said in a research note. In a further knock to its relations with the Netherlands, the biggest Dutch state pension fund ABP said last month it would drop Shell and all fossil fuels from its portfolio. In response to the effective divorce, the Dutch government said on Monday it was "unpleasantly surprised" by Shell's plans to move to London from The Hague. The decision will, meanwhile, be seen as a vote of confidence in London after Britain's exit from the European Union triggered a shift in billions of euros in daily share trading from the UK capital to Amsterdam. Monday's move follows a major overhaul Shell completed this summer as part of its strategy to shift away from oil and gas to renewables and low-carbon energy. The overhaul included thousands of job cuts around the world. In May, a Dutch court ordered Shell to deepen its planned greenhouse gas emission cuts in order to align with the Paris climate deal which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Shell has said it would appeal. "If this decision will enable the company to be more agile in order to execute its transition to net zero, then it should be viewed positively," said Adam Matthews, chief responsible investment officer at Church of England Pensions Board, a Shell shareholder. Matthews, who is leading talks with Shell on behalf of the investor group Climate Action 100+, said it should not remove Shell's responsibility to implement the Dutch court ruling. Shell is also battling calls made last month from activist investor Third Point for the firm to be broken up into multiple companies. Shell's top executives hit back, saying the firm's businesses worked better together. Corporate giants are under growing pressure to simplify their structures with General Electric, Toshiba and Johnson & Johnson announcing plans last week to split into separate companies. Dual listings, which are more expensive to maintain, are also falling out of favor. Consumer products giant Unilever abandoned its dual  Anglo-Dutch structure last year in favor of a single London-based entity. Miner BHP Group has also called time on such a structure Shell's shares, which will still be traded in Amsterdam and New York under the plan, climbed more than 2% in London on Monday morning after the news. Shell has said it would return $7 billion from selling U.S. assets to ConocoPhillips in addition to an ongoing share buyback program.     Tyler Durden Mon, 11/15/2021 - 07:24.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 15th, 2021

Smith: Leftists Support Tyranny, Conservatives Do Not; It"s Time To Separate

Smith: Leftists Support Tyranny, Conservatives Do Not; It's Time To Separate Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, One of the great semantic debates of the past decade has been the ongoing attempt to muddle the definition of “Left vs Right” in the American political sphere. For example, a lot of people who are new to the liberty movement (people who became active during or after the Trump campaign in 2016) have heard of the “false left/right paradigm”, but they have no clue what it actually means. If you think it means there are no legitimate political sides in this fight and that the entire conflict is theatrical or manipulated, then you are misinformed. The false left/right paradigm specifically refers to the fake division at the VERY TOP of the political pyramid among elitists in government. There are certainly Republicans that are conservative in their rhetoric but not conservative in their actions or policies, and they tend to support or side with politicians on the left regularly when it comes to big government spending and big government power (just look to the Republicans that voted in favor of Joe Biden’s recent infrastructure bill). Democrats and leftists don’t have to pretend. They base their entire platform on collectivism and centralization. This is no secret. The only theater is in their motives. Top Democrats claim they are fighting for the “greater good” of the masses when they are actually elevating and benefiting a tiny minority of wealthy elites. They do not care at all about the lives of their constituents. Things change dramatically when we start talking about the bottom of the pyramid among regular people. The political spectrum is not as broad and nuanced as some people would have us believe and the sides are much easier to discern. There are exceptions to every rule and to every group, but to say the groups do not exist is an act of denial. There are also people who call themselves “moderates” because they think this makes them more impartial and more open-minded. They don’t want to appear as if they are moving to one “extreme” end of the spectrum or the other. But, ultimately, there are only two sides in this fight: Either you are in favor of intensive government dominance of people’s lives, or you are not. And, the vast majority of people in favor of government tyranny herald from the left side of the political spectrum. They revel in the totalitarianism, even when they don’t necessarily benefit from it. Yes, it’s time to stop pretending as if there is a “gray area” here and call the situation as it really is. The political left is obsessed with control over how people live, act and even how they think. Issues like Critical Race Theory, BLM, big tech censorship, the covid lockdowns and vax mandates have really clarified things to the point that if you can’t see the enormous difference between leftists and conservatives then you are being willfully ignorant. In my latest articles I have been exploring the theme of the political left and their habit of wearing masks to hide their true natures. Many of them will support socialist, collectivist and globalist policies while also claiming they support freedom at the same time. Yet, when they are actually faced with real world decisions in terms of unilateral authoritarianism, the true character of the average leftist is revealed and it’s an ugly thing to behold. Lets just use the covid and vaccines mandates as one litmus test for a moment – Poll after poll after poll indicates that an overwhelming number of Democrats (around 80%) applaud the mandates and continue to defend them even after almost 2 years of failures and a lack of scientific honesty. For these people the covid controls are purely political and they often argue in their favor as a vehicle to attack conservatives rather than “saving lives”. The fact is, without their enthusiastic support the draconian mandates would not exist in the US. Now, some people will point out that polls also show that around a quarter of Republicans support some form of vax mandates, but here’s the difference: Republicans and conservatives are actually willing to engage in honest debate over the scientific and social merits of the mandates. The vast majority of Democrats and leftists are absolutely not interested. They view any opposition as an act of treason, and any debate as thought crime committed by “cranks” and “conspiracy theorists”. This is a rather convenient tactic to take because leftists will never actually have to defend their own assumptions and beliefs in a public forum on fair ground; they can simply say that all evidence that is being presented is “meaningless” because it is being presented by treasonous enemies. Everything they do no matter how destructive or oppressive is thus justified by the assertion that conservatives represent an insurgency against “democracy” rather than honest Americans with honest concerns. It should also be noted that the minimal republican support for the mandates has been steadily dropping as new information is released which contradicts the mainstream narrative on vaccine effectiveness, and as Joe Biden continues to use the vaccines as a means to gain power over private businesses. Yet, support among democrats is as high as ever. In the past few years I have seen leftists en masse defend the indoctrination of American children with CRT, which teaches white kids that they are all inherently evil oppressors and black and brown kids that they are all perpetual victims that cannot help themselves. When they get called out, leftists then claim that CRT “doesn’t exist” or does not represent what conservatives say it represents. All you have to do is read their own books to see that this is a lie. If you are willing to slog through the insanity of the book ‘Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement’, you will see that everything conservatives warn about when it comes to CRT is true. It is edited by Kimberle Crenshaw, widely viewed as a co-founder of critical race theory and “intersectionality.” It is also a book that you will find used as a teaching aid in most social science classes in most colleges. I have seen leftists support BLM riots and the destruction of private property across the nation while calling them “peaceful protests”. I have also seen BLM take hundreds of millions of dollars from the very corporations and globalist institutions they claim they hate. I have seen leftists defend Big Tech censorship of any person or group that disagrees with the woke narrative, to the point that conservatives now have to constantly self-edit key words and phrases just so algorithms do not automatically derail their accounts, and so that leftists cannot false flag their commentaries as “hate speech” or “medical misinformation.” I have seen leftists avidly support covid lockdowns and the arbitrary destruction of hundreds of thousands of businesses as “non-essential”. I have seen them aggressively defend mask mandates despite the fact that red states which removed mask mandates had the same infection rates or even lower rates. Now I am witnessing their fevered joy as they help push forced experimental vaccination through federal and state mandates, using the threat of joblessness to intimidate those who do not comply. In the meantime, we have seen conservatives become the overwhelming majority of people in direct opposition to all of these totalitarian activities. And still today I continue to see people try to argue that there are no sides, and that conservatives are “just as bad” as leftists. These people either do not understand what a conservative is, or they are deliberately misrepresenting reality because they have an agenda. The bottom line is that proof is seen in action: Red states are free, blue states are enslaved. There’s no way around that. The debate is over, at least in terms of left vs. right. The differences are stark and painfully obvious. Places with majority conservative populations are still fighting the mandates while places with a majority of leftists are perpetuating tyranny. It cannot be denied. It cannot be argued. This is reality. In this day and age if you want to be free you make sure you are surrounded by conservatives, or you become a conservative. There is not a single blue state in the country that is not on the war path to enforce Biden’s vax mandates. There is not a single blue city in the country that is not trying to subversively teach CRT in schools. And, there is not a single blue region in the country that is not obsessed with wokism and globalism. The truth is, America has split into two completely different cultures with two completely different social objectives. To be sure, there are some nuances in terms of geography. Blue states, for example, are often checkered with red counties that do not like the policies of the state government, but this does not change the reality of the overall political divide. I have also noted that most Europeans and people in the UK and Australia have no concept at all of what a conservative actually is. They think a conservative is a corporatist. They have been indoctrinated by their predominantly socialist and leftist systems to treat “conservative” as a four letter word. The people in these nations that oppose the leftist agenda will commonly refer to themselves as “traditional liberals”, but really, they are just conservatives that are afraid to call themselves conservatives. I am speaking specifically on the American dynamic, however, and in this country the two sides are sharply defined. I think that there is also a subsection of the population that does not want to admit a separation of the US is in progress even though it is a fact. They want to believe the false left/right paradigm applies to the regular population because they don’t want to accept the inevitability of the breakup of our country. They want to believe that if we just deal with the elites at the top of the pyramid that the division at the bottom will simply disappear. This is naive. There are principles and ideals which are mutually exclusive; they cannot exist within the same society at the same time. There are moments in history when tribes form and cults rise, and generally these groups grow from either a desire to control others or a desire to remain free. We are living in such times. The political left, according to every metric and statistic, is an antithesis to conservative principles of small government, decentralization, personal liberty, free markets, family values, etc. This does not mean all conservatives agree on every aspect of society. We don’t all share the same religious fervor, or adherence to the same denomination. We don’t all have the same ideas on what constitutes “merit”, and the things we value in terms of character traits and life choices vary. We definitely don’t all agree on solutions to the problems and enemies we face everyday, which is why organizing resistance to the mandates has taken so much time and energy. That said, we ALL agree that the leftist agenda is poison and that it is not something we can continue to live with. I have heard it argued that if the US is broken into two parts that this will weaken us to threats from the outside. Many conservatives don’t like to accept notions of secession or the left/right paradigm because they fear foreign aggression from places like China, for instance. I would point out that this thinking lacks a sense of priority. We have to deal with the leftists/socialists/communists in our own house first before we can deal with communist on the other side of the world. Keeping this defunct marriage between leftist culture and conservative culture going just for the sake of appearances is the most destructive policy we can have in the long run. My thinking is this: If we break up there are two possible results – We go our own separate ways peacefully and the conservative states will continue to succeed economically and socially because we will have freedom, while leftist states will continue to sink into debt and will continue to bleed citizens due to oppression. Or, we separate and the leftists try to stop us using force, and we go to war. And make no mistake, they will ultimately lose such a war. The latter is not the most pleasant option but in either case freedom remains in the world. It is time to stop treating separation and division as integrally bad. Sometimes it is healthy and necessary. The old phrase “divide and conquer” is a misnomer for our particular situation. Often, nations and cultures are conquered from within because they refuse to separate from the riff-raff and define their moral boundaries. The right to divide is actually one of the most powerful forms of liberty there is, and it is one of the greatest protections against the leftist authoritarian movements in our midst. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Sat, 11/13/2021 - 23:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 14th, 2021

Momentum Is Building for Antitrust Reform. Here’s What That Means for Big Tech

Worry about the concentration of wealth and power achieved by monopolistic—or potentially monopolistic—entities have always been wrapped up in each respective era’s technological innovations. It is not surprising then that the focal point of today’s debate around antitrust reform is the size and scope of internet giants like Google, Facebook (Meta Platforms, Inc.), Amazon and… Worry about the concentration of wealth and power achieved by monopolistic—or potentially monopolistic—entities have always been wrapped up in each respective era’s technological innovations. It is not surprising then that the focal point of today’s debate around antitrust reform is the size and scope of internet giants like Google, Facebook (Meta Platforms, Inc.), Amazon and Apple—the pioneers laying the digital “railroad tracks” that have upended communication and commerce and, not coincidentally, allowed these companies to grow very, very powerful. The history of antitrust legislation in the U.S. stretches back to the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when transcontinental railroads bridged the coasts and ushered in a new era of mobility for both people and goods—along with concern about the formidable size and scope of these entities as they expanded, and then consolidated, to encompass entire industries. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 made monopolies and trusts illegal. More than two decades later, the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 expanded the Sherman Act by prohibiting business activities, such as price discrimination, that companies could use to lay the groundwork for monopolistic practices. Historically, policymakers primarily viewed antitrust legislation as a tool to keep big companies from muscling out smaller competitors, but that began to evolve in the 1970s. Since then, the governing principle of antitrust law has been the “consumer welfare standard.” When rival companies have to compete for the same pool of customers, it incentivizes them to improve their products and keep prices low, both of which benefit consumers, the standard says. In principle, antitrust experts say Justice Department (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officials have the tools to expand oversight and tighten requirements around activities like mergers and acquisitions that could be anticompetitive. In practice, however, a June report by Beacon Policy Advisors found that officials are constrained by a framework of permissibility implicit in the consumer welfare standard and a conservative judiciary inclined to defer to that paradigm. Pointing to the constraints and the growing influence of Big Tech, particularly since the start of the pandemic, many argue the consumer welfare standard is insufficient or inadequate, with calls for antitrust reform coming from the White House and, at varying levels, members of Congress. “One group of antitrust activists really are arguing for enforcing the laws in a radically different way than they’ve been enforced for the past 40 years,” says William Kolasky, partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed. Biden’s aggressive approach Since taking office, President Joe Biden has signaled plans to seize on the building momentum for major antitrust reform. Biden tapped antitrust scholar and Big Tech critic Lina Khan to lead the FTC, putting a proponent of more robust antitrust regulation in charge of the agency—along with the DOJ’s Antitrust Division—on the front lines of antitrust compliance. “Khan has indicated she really wants to transform the way the FTC enforces antitrust law. The extent to which she’ll be able to do that in a way that passes muster with the courts, we don’t know yet,” Kolasky tells TIME. Graeme Jennings/Getty ImagesLina M. Khan testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee nomination hearing on April 21, 2021, in Washington, DC. Along with Khan, the White House has sought to fill other key antitrust policy roles with Big Tech critics. Biden tapped anti-monopoly legal crusader Jonathan Kanter to serve as assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Antitrust Division—a nomination that is expected to receive Senate confirmation—appointed Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who has compared today’s economic disparities to those of the late-19th century Gilded Age, to the National Economic Council. Those advocating for a more robust antitrust regulatory framework are pushing for the use of a different set of criteria to determine just how big is too big. In a July executive order, Biden took on Big Tech along with other major industry sectors, saying consolidation enriched corporate honchos and foreign interests at the expense of ordinary Americans. “Robust competition is critical to preserving America’s role as the world’s leading economy,” the order says, citing examples in agriculture, health care, telecommunications, financial services and global shipping in which there is a dearth of competition. The executive order calls for marshaling a “whole-of-government” response and establishing the White House Competition Council to reorient American economic priorities to cultivate greater competition. The Administration has “basically directed the agencies with jurisdiction over antitrust enforcement to be very aggressive,” according to Jonathan Osborne, a business litigation shareholder at Gunster, a law firm. Osborne says this standard would apply to mergers and acquisitions that could lock current—or even future—competitors out of a given market. Biden’s strong support of unions and organized labor also has antitrust implications. The coalition his White House is building will consider the impact on people not just as consumers, but as workers as well. What’s happening in Congress? Monopolistic power is a worry that sometimes makes strange bedfellows, especially in Congress. But there is momentum for antitrust reform on both sides of the aisle. Following the House Judiciary Committee’s passage of a package of six antitrust bills in June with bipartisan support, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, advanced Senate versions of some of those bills with Republican colleagues. Klobuchar and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, last week introduced the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act. The legislation would make it harder for Big Tech to acquire rival companies. Under current law, regulators seeking to block proposed mergers must prove they are anticompetitive. The Klobuchar-Cotton bill would shift the burden to Big Tech companies, who would have to prove an acquisition or merger wouldn’t stifle competition. Last month, Klobuchar and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, a bill that would prohibit big technology platforms from giving their own products and services preferential treatment, such as moving their products or services to the top of search results. Read more: Facebook’s Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week — And What It Means for Antitrust Reform Klobuchar also introduced the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, which the Senate passed in June. The legislation—a version of which has cleared a key procedural hurdle in the House of Representatives with some level of bipartisan support—would increase funds allocated to the FTC and the DOJ Antitrust Division. Despite the rare display of bipartisan coordination, the Senate and House —and members of both parties—have somewhat differing priorities when it comes to creating new laws aimed at thwarting monopolistic corporate power. Republicans want to rein in what conservatives view as big tech companies’ chokehold on political speech and, ultimately, free speech. Democrats are focused on, at the very least, constraining these companies’ ability to expand, with some—including members of the Biden team—calling for breaking up technology giants. The focus on Big Tech The heightened focus on Big Tech took on new urgency during the pandemic. As constraints on business and social activity forced Americans to rely more on digital platforms for communication and commerce, tech giants became more prominent, more profitable and visibly more powerful. “COVID underscored their significance. The good story for them is they became lifelines of goods and services. The bad news was that their importance and those lifelines became more evident,” says William Kovacic, professor of Law and director of the Competition Law Center at George Washington University. Antitrust reform advocates say Big Tech companies don’t need to be monopolies in order to stifle smaller competitors because they have an asset that gives them a critical competitive head start: access to data on millions and millions of people who use their products. Read more: Facebook’s Antitrust Victory Could Inspire Congress to Overhaul the Rules Entirely In shaping how people wrestle with issues of law and culture, Big Tech also has “an outsized political significance,” Kovacic adds. “That’s why you have this interesting coalition of Democrats, who have stronger preferences for intervention, and conservative Republicans who, for the moment, despise Big Tech.” Data privacy issues have also driven the heightened interest in big tech. While antitrust law was initially only focused on price and output, today it also is concerned with consumer data privacy—a topic experts say very much pertains to the question of consumer welfare and the inherent value of their personal data to big technology firms. Some legal experts worry that focusing on technology firms could backfire. “For a very long time, antitrust laws prided themselves on being industry-agnostic,” says David Reichenberg, an antitrust litigator. According to Reichenberg, the danger in writing bills that target a certain industry rather than problematic practices can make the laws unwieldy and hard to apply, especially in the face of rapid advances in computing power that is continually redrawing the boundaries of what it means to be a technology company. “The reason people have resisted industry-specific legislation for so long is it’s hard to administer, it’s hard to predict scenarios and know what’s going to harm consumers. We need laws that can adapt to the facts,” Reichenberg says. Tech companies argue legislation like the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act would stifle competition, especially on a global scale, and investments. Antitrust critics have also taken aim at other proposals, arguing that legislation targeting Big Tech could hurt the consumer experience. A nonprofit consortium of industry-affiliated groups signed a letter warning that under a bill in the House, tech giants could be forced to splinter their offerings and saddle consumers with less seamless, more expensive online services. The letter suggested that Google might have to strip its map feature out of its search engine, Apple’s iOS would be forced to peel off functions like iMessage and FaceTime and Amazon would have to scrap its Prime subscription service. But legal experts dismiss these arguments. “I have some skepticism that any legislation that passed would have those kinds of draconian effects,” Kolasky says. While technology is clearly in the cross hairs of the antitrust reform movement, other big industries from agriculture to biotechnology also are likely to face heightened scrutiny—and the Democrat-led executive branch isn’t willing to wait while lawmakers hammer out their differences. A partnership between American Airlines and JetBlue Airways that would consolidate the operations of the two carriers in New York City and Boston, for example, is the target of a lawsuit filed last month by the DOJ and the attorneys general of six states as well as Washington, D.C. Earlier this month, the DOJ filed an antitrust suit to block publishing giant Penguin Random House from acquiring rival Simon & Schuster. Whether in the halls of Congress or through the executive branch, it seems clear that business and industry titans face a once-in-a-generation moment of reckoning that all signs suggest will be significant in scope. “What the laws are supposed to do is incentivize them to continue to be successful, without the harmful effects,” Reichenberg says. Reform advocates across the political spectrum are staking their convictions on the belief that removing barriers to competition will help level the playing field, benefitting small firms and start-ups. “I think that the left is saying this is synonymous with economic opportunity,” he says. Ultimately, Reichenberg says what Congress and policymakers have to wrestle with is defining the law’s role as gatekeeper. “What all these laws are about is, through what lens are we evaluating if something is good or bad?”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 12th, 2021

10 Things in Politics: Trump critics fret over lack of indictment

And climate negotiators back away from a pledge to end coal use. Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Plus, download Insider's app for news on the go - click here for iOS and here for Android. Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com.Here's what we're talking about:Patience is running thin for legal experts who see a slam-dunk criminal indictment against TrumpClimate negotiators back away from a pledge to end coal useThe guy who cracked the code on beating Democrats in the Biden era is being asked to apply it across the country President Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and former President Donald Trump. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images; Andrew Harnik/AFP; Joe Raedle/Getty Images 1. INSIDE THE DOJ: Legal experts want to know what Attorney General Merrick Garland is up to. A vocal subset of them believes there's sufficient evidence to indict former President Donald Trump, and they are losing patience with a Department of Justice that hasn't done more publicly to pursue him.Here's where things stand on the politically thorny subject:The silence has not gone unnoticed: Former Justice Department officials and other legal experts told Insider they were struck by the apparent lack of investigative scrutiny of Trump and his inner circle in connection to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.Key quote: "If I wanted to charge this, I'd be looking at texts. I'd be looking at emails," one well-connected Democratic lawyer told Insider of what DOJ officials should be trying to obtain to determine the extent of any coordination Trump and his senior advisors may have had with those who later became insurrectionists.Pursuing a Trump indictment would be a political minefield: "The AG and the DAG have no appetite for these cases," a former Justice Department official familiar with the January 6 investigation said, referring to Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.A turning point may have just occurred: President Joe Biden's pick to oversee the January 6 investigation, Matt Graves, was sworn in Friday as the US attorney in Washington, DC. A former federal prosecutor said that with the heft of Senate confirmation, appointees like Graves could take the investigation into more sensitive places.Read more about how legal experts see ready-made indictments from other Trump scandals.2. Climate negotiators back away from a pledge to end coal use: Officials at the UN climate talks in Glasgow are now discussing a "phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels," the Associated Press reports. This latest draft is a step back from a previous version that called for nations to "accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuel." Here's where things stand as the pivotal climate summit is set to wrap up. The Republican strategist Jeff Roe. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images 3. Meet the most popular man in Republican politics right now: Jeff Roe scored a massive win last week after working as a top strategist for the Republican Glenn Youngkin, Virginia's next governor. Republican candidates across the US have been calling Roe and his firm, Axiom Strategies, to ask about the "Youngkin lane," he told Insider in a recent interview. Here's how he thinks the GOP can reclaim control of Congress and the White House.4. Trump wins temporary reprieve over January 6 documents: A federal appeals court blocked, for now, a ruling that would have required the imminent release of Trump records related to the insurrection, The Washington Post reports. Trump's legal team sued to block the release after the Biden White House refused to assert executive privilege over the records requested by the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot. More on the ruling and what happens next.5. Defense expert testifies that Kyle Rittenhouse shot all 3 men within one minute, 20 seconds: John Black, a use-of-force expert, gave a second-by-second breakdown of the events in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to the jury, emphasizing just how quickly the violence escalated. Rittenhouse's team used Black's testimony to imply that those select minutes were the only timeframe needed to establish whether Rittenhouse was justified in shooting three men, two fatally. Prosecutors, meanwhile, have examined the hours leading up to the shootings and questioned Rittenhouse's decisions to attend the protests in the first place and to arm himself with an AR-15 rifle. More on what happened in the closely watched trial as both sides moved toward closing arguments.6. A defense attorney in the Arbery case asks for "no more Black pastors" in court: Kevin Gough, the attorney who represents one of the white men on trial in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, told the judge he didn't want "any more Black pastors" in the courtroom after the Rev. Al Sharpton sat with Arbery's family, the Associated Press reports. Gough said Sharpton's presence was an attempt to intimidate the disproportionately white jury. Sharpton said Gough's remarks showed "arrogant insensitivity."7. Iran-backed rebels breach American compound in Yemen: "Yemeni employees of the US government have been detained in Sanaa, where the compound that housed the American Embassy was breached by Iran-backed Houthi rebels who took control of many of war-torn Yemen's cities in 2014, according to the State Department," The Post reports. More on the news.8. Suni Lee said she was pepper-sprayed in an anti-Asian racist attack: Lee, an Olympic gold medalist, said she was pepper-sprayed by a group of people in a car yelling racial slurs and telling her and her friends to "go back to where they came from." The gymnast said the attack happened just one week before her interview with Pop Sugar, which was published Wednesday. There have been widespread reports of racism against people of Asian descent during the coronavirus pandemic.9. Democrats introduce a resolution to censure Republican Rep. Paul Gosar: Lawmakers are introducing a resolution to censure Gosar over an edited anime video in which a character with his face kills a character with the face of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Gosar confirmed that his office produced the video and called the negative response a "gross mischaracterization" of the post. More on the effort. Hollis Johnson/Business Insider 10. MoviePass may be coming back: MoviePass' cofounder Stacy Spikes was granted ownership of the company by a Southern District of New York bankruptcy judge who approved the sale Monday, according to court documents reviewed by Insider. Spikes hopes to relaunch MoviePass next year. Read more about the plans for a relaunch.Today's trivia question: Which other president was supposed to have a memorial where the Jefferson Memorial is now located? Email your answer and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.Yesterday's answer: Alvin King, an Emporia, Kansas, shoe salesman, is credited with starting the movement that led to the expansion of Armistice Day into Veterans Day in the US.That's all for now. Have a great weekend!Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 12th, 2021

Judge’s Ruling Provide New Weapon to Obtain Mask Mandates

Judge’s Ruling Provide New Weapon to Obtain Mask Mandates; ADA Prohibits Mask Bans, But May Also Compel Wearing of Masks Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more A New Weapon To Obtain Mask Mandates Federal judge Lee Yeakel’s ruling that governmental bans on mask mandates violate the rights to special protection children with disabilities have […] Judge’s Ruling Provide New Weapon to Obtain Mask Mandates; ADA Prohibits Mask Bans, But May Also Compel Wearing of Masks if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more A New Weapon To Obtain Mask Mandates Federal judge Lee Yeakel's ruling that governmental bans on mask mandates violate the rights to special protection children with disabilities have under the Americans With Disabilities Act [ADA] provides a powerful new weapon to fight such bans, since most classrooms subject to no-mask mandates include as least a few kids with breathing problems such as asthma, hay fever, allergies, etc. But the ruling might also be used to require workplaces and places of pubic accommodation to require the wearing of masks, at least by those not yet vaccinated, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who explains that he was able to use the ADA to require smoking bans in offices and in many other pubic places because many adults as well as children with breathing problems were entitled to them under the this federal statute. Indeed, he notes,using the ADA was even effective against those who smoke outdoors, because they then bring tobacco residue inside where it can adversely affect others. Accommodation For People With Breathing Disability Or Other Health Problems Children in schools as well as elsewhere, and many adults, have a breathing disability or other health problem which requires that they receive a reasonable accommodation to their condition. Since so many businesses as well as governments require masks to be worn, it's obviously a accommodation which is reasonable, argues Banzhaf. Employers which require their employees to operate in offices and other work places without masks, a well as schools which force children to attend in a room with unvaccinated children not wearing masks, should be sued under the Americans With Disabilities Act, says Banzhaf, who helped bring dozens of such cases on behalf of those with breathing difficulties to obtain bans on smoking to protect them, So, again the ADA can be used as a powerful weapon and legal tool to protect the public health and reduce unnecessary deaths, says the professor, who has been called the "Law Professor Who Masterminded Litigation Against the Tobacco Industry," he "Man Behind the Ban on Cigarette Commercials, a "King of Class-Action Lawsuits," and "a Driving Force Behind the Lawsuits That Have Cost Tobacco Companies Millions of Dollars." Updated on Nov 11, 2021, 4:34 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkNov 11th, 2021

10 Things in Politics: Educators scramble over CRT

And Donald Trump has lost a legal fight over January 6 records. Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Plus, download Insider's app for news on the go - click here for iOS and here for Android. Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com.Here's what we're talking about:Misinformation about critical race theory has the education world scrambling to set the record straightFederal judge denies Trump's emergency request to block records from January 6 committeePete Buttigieg hyped infrastructure from the White House while Kamala Harris flew to France. Dems think Buttigieg got the better deal. People gathered in Leesburg, Virginia, on June 12 before a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools. Andrew Caballero Reynolds AFP via Getty Images 1. LESSON PLAN: The furor at school-board meetings over critical race theory - a college-level concept that isn't taught in K-12 schools - caught many in the education world by surprise. Now education leaders are pushing back against the misinformation they fear will deprive students of a fact-based education and drive even more teachers out the door.Here's a look at what's happening:Republicans hope the issue will help them in 2022: They have been encouraged by Glenn Youngkin's win in Virginia after he pledged to "ban" critical race theory on his first day as governor. Already, several states have passed laws limiting the teaching of race and diversity-based subjects in K-12 classes.Education leaders are fighting back: The Learn from History national coalition launched in September to push back on misinformation about history and social studies, including the teaching of critical race theory. The group includes education associations, the American Federation of Teachers, historical associations, and charter schools.Key quote: "We were being accused of teaching something," Angela Grunewald, the superintendent of Edmond Public Schools in Oklahoma, told my colleague. "I'm like, 'I don't even know what this is.'" At school-board meetings, critical race theory has become a politicized catch-all for books, resources, and teaching about race.Read more about how educators are responding to lies about critical race theory.2. Judge hands Trump a loss in Capitol document case: District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan denied former President Donald Trump's emergency request to block House investigators from obtaining White House records related to January 6 including Trump's daily presidential diaries, activity logs, and call logs. The Biden administration declined a request from Trump's legal team in October asking Biden to assert executive privilege over the files. In light of the decision, the National Archives and Records Administration on Friday is set to give investigators more than 1,600 pages of documents. CNN reports that Trump's lawyers plan to appeal the ruling. More on Trump's latest court loss. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at the White House; Vice President Kamala Harris and the second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, arriving in France. Win McNamee/Getty Images; Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images 3. Democrats think Buttigieg is having a better week than Harris: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is reveling in the passage of the infrastructure bill. Vice President Kamala Harris went to France and hasn't been a central figure in the victory lap. Democratic insiders are paying close attention to the pair, who could one day find themselves fighting over a presidential nomination. Read more about why key Democrats say Harris' team is miffed about missing the victory lap.4. Pfizer asks the FDA to allow booster shots for all adults: The drugmaker is asking federal regulators to allow COVID-19 booster shots for anyone 18 years old or older, the Associated Press reports, writing, "Pfizer is submitting early results of a booster study in 10,000 people to make its case that it's time to further expand the booster campaign." Here's how concerns about a holiday-related COVID-19 surge are affecting booster plans.5. GOP lawmakers want to punish fellow Republicans for supporting Biden's infrastructure bill: Trump slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who supported Biden's infrastructure plan, for failing to pass an infrastructure package when Republicans were in power. Some House Republicans, PunchBowl News reports, are expected to support an effort to strip 13 colleagues of their committee assignments for backing Biden's bipartisan plan. More on the Republican infighting.3 ways Biden's infrastructure bill could transform America.6. NASA says it will take longer to return to the moon: NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told reporters a legal fight over SpaceX's contract to build a lunar landing vehicle and the coronavirus pandemic would push the US's target date for sending astronauts back to the moon to 2025 at the earliest. The Trump administration set an aggressive goal of returning to the lunar surface by 2024 as part of a long-term plan to send astronauts to Mars. More about how China's ambitions are pushing NASA back to the moon. Aaron Rodgers. AP Photo/Rick Scuteri 7. NFL fines the Packers and Aaron Rodgers over COVID-19 violations: The NFL fined Rodgers, its reining MVP, and wide receiver Allen Lazard $14,650 each for violating the league's COVID-19 protocols, ESPN reports. The Packers organization faces its own $300,000 fine. Rodgers tested positive for the coronavirus last week. He previously told reporters he was "immunized," but it's now clear that didn't mean he was vaccinated. Rodgers said he took "full responsibility" for what he described as "comments that people might have felt were misleading." He remains defiant about not getting vaccinated. More on the news.8. Pelosi calls for investigation into GOP lawmaker tweeting a meme video of his killing AOC: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the House Ethics Committee and law enforcement to investigate Rep. Paul Gosar's tweet of an edited animated video in which his face was superimposed on a character who kills an opponent with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's face and swings swords at Biden's face, The Washington Post reports. Gosar defended the video saying that he didn't "espouse violence or harm towards any Member of Congress or Mr. Biden" and that the video was a "symbolic portrayal" of his views on immigration policy. Twitter flagged the video as violating its policies but did not remove the tweet from its platform. More on the fallout from just the latest controversy Gosar has found himself in.9. Legal experts say Travis Scott is unlikely to face criminal charges over Astroworld deaths: Scott could still be held liable in civil court, but he could avoid paying damages because of Texas civil law, one expert said. Eight people died and hundreds more were injured at the sold-out concert Friday after a crowd of about 50,000 people surged toward the stage while Scott was performing. At least one family is already suing the rapper. Read more on how prosecutors would face a tough burden to prove Scott intentionally caused a riot. Brian Williams. Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Pres 10. Brian Williams leaving NBC News: His departure comes after weeks of negotiations about his contract, which was winding down, several people told Insider. Williams has been the longtime anchor of MSNBC's "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams." More on the end of his nearly three decades at NBC.Today's trivia question: General Electric announced a plan to massively restructure itself. Which future president worked for GE and is said to have dramatically changed his political views as a result of the job? Email your answer and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.Yesterday's answer: The country superstar Willie Nelson once owed $16.7 million in back taxes. In an effort to pay off the IRS, Nelson released a collection of his hits titled "The IRS Tapes: Who'll Buy My Memories?" Uncle Sam eventually collected $3.6 million from album sales.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 10th, 2021

Starbucks Union Vote Sets Up a Watershed Moment for U.S. Labor

Winning a unionization vote at one of the country’s signature non-union firms, Starbucks, would be an audacious coup. U.S. workers have authorized strikes in a wide swath of industries and quit jobs in record numbers but could soon pull off an even more audacious coup: Winning a unionization vote at one of the country’s signature non-union firms, Starbucks. On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board will mail ballots to employees at three Starbucks Corp. coffee shops in and around Buffalo, New York, who will vote over the next four weeks on whether to establish the first-ever unionized locations among the chain’s thousands of corporate-run U.S. stores. The elections involve only around 100 employees, but a vote to unionize would be among the embattled U.S. labor movement’s highest-profile organizing victories in years, creating a foothold at an iconic global brand. It would also extend U.S. workers’ recent momentum into a new arena — the company’s ubiquitous coffee shops, visited by millions of Americans each day, where past organizing efforts have repeatedly fizzled. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “It’s a much bigger deal than the number of people would suggest,” said former NLRB chair and union attorney Wilma Liebman, given how a union victory at Starbucks would create new inroads in the broader restaurant industry. “Winning is contagious, and it could spread like wildfire.” Read More: U.S. Workers Are Realizing It’s the Perfect Time to Go on Strike Baristas at several Buffalo-area Starbucks say they’ve been talking casually with a union organizer over the past couple years, but more-serious conversations began in earnest this summer, after workers were exposed to new pressures and risks by the pandemic and then emboldened by a tightening labor market. After a swift series of confidential conversations, including at rival coffee shops, employees in August publicly announced their campaign to join Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Employees say they love the company but want to secure a say to address issues like schedules that sometimes provide inadequate hours and wages that don’t sufficiently reward longer-serving staff, as well as security to speak up when confronted with hazards like harassment from customers about masks. “You can’t tell us that we’re essential workers and then also tell us that we shouldn’t have a voice or equal say,” said Jaz Brisack, an activist barista who before getting hired last year at Starbucks was employed by Workers United as an organizer on a successful unionization campaign at another Buffalo-area coffee chain, Spot Coffee. Starbucks asking staff to vote against unionization More than its peers, Starbucks has cultivated a progressive brand, closing stores nationwide to hold trainings on racial bias, pledging to achieve “carbon neutral green coffee,” offering health benefits to part-timers and recently announcing it would implement a nationwide $15 wage floor. Some pro-union employees say they hope the Seattle-based company will eventually come to see how collective bargaining could advance the company’s mission too. Asked about the campaign, a Starbucks spokesperson provided an October open letter to employees from the coffee chain’s North America president, Rossann Williams, in which she said she recognized that workers in the Buffalo region “have not had the Starbucks experience that we work so hard to create for you,” and that she and other managers were “here to ensure that we can give them just that.” Starbucks is asking employees to vote against unionization, Williams wrote, “because we believe we will best enhance our partnership and advance the operational changes together in a direct relationship.” Read More: The GM Strike Is Also a Protest Against the Gig Economy On Saturday, Starbucks closed Buffalo-area stores early and paid employees to attend a gathering with its former CEO Howard Schultz, the billionaire who is its chairman emeritus and largest individual shareholder. Schultz told employees that Starbucks had already built “a different kind of company,” and that no outsiders had successfully “pressured us, maneuvered us, threatened us to do anything other than what we felt in our heart and our conscience we needed to do and should do for the people who wear the green apron.” In a letter to employees published on Starbucks’ website in conjunction with his visit, Schultz said he was “saddened and concerned” to hear that any employee would think they need to have “a representative seek to obtain things we all have as partners at Starbucks.” Stephen Brashear/Getty Images CEO Howard Schultz speaks during the Starbucks annual meeting of shareholders on March 22, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. Employee concerns at Starbucks Still, Schultz was escorted away after the speech when Gianna Reeve, a pro-union employee at one of the stores slated to vote, asked him if he would support principles proposed by the union to restrict union-busting, she said. Starbucks has said that workers already have a say in scheduling, that more senior workers already get extra pay, and that it prioritizes workers’ and customers’ safety. The company also shared a September message to Buffalo-area employees from a regional vice president, Allyson Peck, saying that Starbucks was “bringing additional recruiters and managers to help with staffing, finalizing dedicated training plans for new baristas and repairing store issues quickly.” The steps, she said, are “actions only Starbucks can deliver on — versus an outside third party like the Workers United union.” Read More: Why the Biden Administration Could Be Good for Organized Labor On Aug. 30, after unsuccessfully petitioning Starbucks headquarters to make a deal restricting anti-union campaigning, employees moved ahead at the U.S. labor board, submitting signatures that organizers say represented at least four-fifths of the eligible staff at each of three Buffalo-area stores. The NLRB rejected Starbucks’ argument that the appropriate voter pool would instead consist of employees at all 20 of its stores in the region and granted the union’s request to hold store-by-store votes at the three sites, boosting the organizers’ chance of success. Since each store’s employees are voting separately, Starbucks will be legally required to negotiate if a majority of eligible staff at even one of them votes for the union. U.S. workers are having their moment Richard Bensinger, the former AFL-CIO organizing director spearheading the Buffalo Starbucks campaign for Workers United, said it was born out of a regional effort to organize restaurants, not a national strategy to target Starbucks. He’s found organizing Starbucks both easier and harder than he’d predicted: He thought he might find executives at the company, known for comparatively generous pay and benefits, eager to avoid a bitter struggle, along with workers who were tepid about organizing. Instead, he said, employees have proven highly motivated to seek changes but the company, as much as any other he’s gone up against, has been steadfast in seeking to defeat the drive. The Starbucks campaign is unfolding at a moment of unusual leverage for U.S. workers. They’ve been emboldened by a tight labor market and inspired to demand payback for the risks and sacrifices they shouldered during the pandemic, and to reverse concessions they acceded to in past years’ contract talks. Union members have recently authorized potential strikes involving over 100,000 workers in a slew of different industries, while workers in general have been quitting their jobs in record numbers. Read More: Workers Are Furious. Their Unions Are Scrambling to Catch Up Over the past week, striking workers at farm equipment maker Deere & Co. voted to continue a 10,000-strong work stoppage rather than accepting a tentative deal that included a 10% immediate wage hike, while unions representing over 30,000 health-care workers at Kaiser Permanente announced plans to strike starting Nov. 15. But Workers United’s NLRB election effort remains a gamble. While U.S. law promises employees the right to collectively bargain if a majority of their co-workers cast ballots in the affirmative, the law also gives companies wide latitude to campaign aggressively against unionization. Companies generally face only minimal penalties for engaging in illegal efforts to stymie the union or obstruct negotiations once a union is victorious. Toby Scott/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images Starbucks’ corporate headquarters seen in Seattle on Apr. 27, 2021. Winning a union contract In recent years, NLRB election victories at the top U.S. companies in union-scarce industries have been almost unheard of, except for where organizers could cut a deal beforehand with management to limit anti-union tactics, as the Starbucks workers tried and failed to do. The “Fight For $15 and a Union” campaign, another SEIU project, has spent about a decade organizing and mobilizing fast-food workers without ever filing for NLRB elections in any restaurants. Instead, they’ve opted for pressure campaigns targeting companies like McDonald’s Corp. in hopes — so far unrealized — of securing a national agreement easing unionization. Under U.S. law, companies can require workers to attend numerous group or one-on-one meetings about why they shouldn’t unionize, and make dire predictions about what could happen if they do. If workers are proven to be illegally fired for their union activism, the worst penalty a company usually faces is eventually being required to reinstate them with back pay, without punitive damages or personal liability for executives. If a group of workers does vote to unionize, companies can delay the process with extensive legal challenges. If a union’s victory is upheld, management is required to hold contract talks “in good faith,” but has no obligation to concede much on the issues workers want addressed. The majority of the time, workers still haven’t reached a contract one year after voting to unionize, according to a 2009 study. Read More: Beyond Labor Day—Three Ways Unions Have Helped American Workers “Typically, all the board does when an employer fails to bargain in good faith is order the employer to bargain in good faith,” said Columbia University law professor Kate Andrias. “Employees’ ability to win a good first contract is usually not a result of the law, but rather of workers’ decision to stick together, to demand improvements in their workplace, to mobilize public and political pressure on employers, and to engage in collective action by protests and strikes.” Winning a union contract for a small number of employees at a mammoth, otherwise union-free company is particularly difficult, Andrias said, because those workers have less direct economic leverage over management. Executives also have ample incentive to take a tough stance, knowing that if workers who unionized in one place succeed in securing improvements, organizing would be more appealing to others elsewhere. Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images A person wearing a protective mask collects a pickup order from a Starbucks Corp. coffee shop in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. Starbucks workers say they are pressured In New York, Starbucks workers say they’ve been pressured to attend frequent anti-union meetings in which the company issues warnings, such as that unionization could cause them to lose existing benefits. The employees also say their stores have been visited by out-of-town managers and higher-ups like Rossann Williams who show up to press the anti-union case. “We want you to vote no,” Peck, the Starbucks regional vice president, told staff in a Nov. 1 email viewed by Bloomberg. “Unless you are positive you want to pay a union to represent you to us, you must vote no.” Last week, the union and barista Michelle Eisen filed a complaint, now pending with the NLRB, accusing Starbucks of “engaging in a campaign of threats, intimidation, surveillance” and other illegal tactics such as store closings in its effort to defeat the Buffalo organizing campaign. Starbucks declined to comment specifically on the NLRB filing. The company has said that workers are expected to attend its meetings but aren’t punished if they refuse; that it’s not uncommon for higher-ups to visit its stores; that its temporary conversion of one store to a training site and closure of another for remodeling were unrelated to union organizing; and that it strictly adheres to U.S. labor law. Read More: Pandemic Fuels Union Interest Among Front Line Workers Tia Corthion, a shift supervisor at a Buffalo-area store, said in an interview arranged by a Starbucks spokesperson that she’s received necessary information in the company’s meetings about unionization. In union contract talks, “there are things that we have to give up to get the things that they’re negotiating,” said Corthion, whose pay and benefits at Starbucks exceed the ones she had in prior jobs. “I don’t know what the outcome could be. It doesn’t sound like any good outcomes.” Activist employees in New York say they’ve built organizing bonds among co-workers that can withstand an anti-union campaign, and that they’re already hearing from colleagues around the country who want to support them or start organizing themselves, despite management’s efforts to dissuade them. “They think three stores in Buffalo is bad — they’re going to love the next year,” said local shift supervisor Alexis Rizzo. “Because the interest that we’ve had is mind-blowing.” Bensinger, the Workers United Buffalo organizer, said he feels good about workers soon getting to vote. “We don’t have to win a hundred stores, we have to win one,” he said. “If you can win one store, then I think the whole world will rally behind bargaining for a contract like people have never seen.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 7th, 2021

Florida Court Reinstates Governor"s Ban On Masking Mandates In Schools

Florida Court Reinstates Governor's Ban On Masking Mandates In Schools Authored by Patricia Tolson via The Epoch Times, In Florida’s ongoing battle over masking mandates in schools, the First District Court of Appeal (DCA) overruled the decision of a Leon County circuit court judge on Wednesday, reinstating the governor’s ban on forced masking in schools. Some Leon County parents are cheering the ruling as a big win for parents’ rights and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Masking Battle In August, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis exceeded his authority in banning forced masking in public schools. In September, the First DCA overruled Cooper. But the following week, Cooper ruled that his order to prevent the state from enforcing school mask mandates should take immediate effect. On Oct. 27 (pdf), the First DCA again overruled Cooper and emphasized three reasons why his ruling was wrong. To begin, the First DCA ruled that the case never should have gone to trial because the plaintiffs did not have standing. The plaintiffs, a group of parents and students, could not sue to protect the institutional authority of local school districts and the Florida Department of Health. “Those entities alone must advance their own institutional rights,” the First DCA wrote. Second, the plaintiffs were not harmed by DeSantis’ order because the order took no action against them. In fact, all the governor did was direct other state agencies to protect parental rights. Third, the plaintiffs’ claim of receiving injury because they were exposed to COVID-19 by unmasked students was not “concrete” or “palpable” enough to warrant judicial intervention in public health policy. Most notable was how the First DCA admonished Cooper for inventing his own legal theory to ultimately rule against the governor’s school mask policy by saying DeSantis somehow violated the Parents’ Bill of Rights by giving parents more rights. “While the Parents’ Bill of Rights undoubtedly played a role in the governor’s issuance of the executive order—and was even pleaded as an affirmative defense—the [Plaintiffs] never sought relief in their complaint based on an alleged violation of the Parents’ Bill of Rights,” the First DCA wrote. “They certainly never requested an injunction against a state administrative actor proceeding in some way in contravention of the Parents’ Bill of Rights.” Similar court battles are playing out in other Florida counties. While the full appeal in the Leon County case is still pending, Christina Pushaw, executive press secretary for DeSantis said “the preliminary ruling shows that the Plaintiffs have little chance of saving the trial court’s ruling, so this is a win for Governor DeSantis and parents’ rights in Florida!” “Florida now has the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the entire country,” Pushaw told The Epoch Times. “Infections statewide have declined more than 90 percent since schools in Florida opened. The rate of decline was the same for districts that had mask mandates and districts that followed state law by allowing parents to choose whether their kids wore masks or not.” According to the New York Times interactive map, COVID-19 cases in California as of Nov. 4 are nearly three times the rate in Florida per capita. Michigan has about five times Florida’s per capita COVID case rate. The map for Leon County, Florida, shows a 49 percent drop in the number of hospitalizations in a 14-day average between Aug. 6 and Nov. 4, with a test positivity rate of only five percent. However, while Orange and Duval Counties imposed more stringent, long-term mask mandates, their numbers are similar, suggesting that masks had little if any effect on the numbers. “There is no evidence to support the argument that forced-masking in schools had any impact on COVID case rates, pediatric or overall,” Pushaw said further. Parents Celebrate “Of course we’re on the way out of the COVID wave,” Priscilla West, a Leon County mom, told The Epoch Times. “Florida’s leadership understood all along that protecting the elderly was the top priority. For everyone else, this thing needed to run its course. Schools never should’ve been closed. Kids never should’ve been masked. Whether or not you believed masks did any good, healthy kids suffer a mild COVID illness. Their young bodies will never be better able to fight it than they are right now. Then they emerge with robust, lasting immunity, which is protective for society as a whole. Children shouldn’t be subjected to experimentation with this new mRNA technology. Schools have no business pushing medical therapies on people’s Minor children.” Another Leon County mom, LaDonna Wagers, told The Epoch Times: “I have attended and spoke at many Leon County school board meetings this fall. Despite our citing many studies that show masks have no significant effect on virus transmission and actually do more harm than good, the Leon County School board is more interested in ‘feel good’ mask mandates and virtue signaling than science and parental rights. The board also used the National School Board Association and Merrick Garland calling parents who speak out at school board meetings ‘domestic terrorists’ to now have parents who attend these meetings in Leon County go through a security check before entering the building. This will not intimidate us or stop us from continuing to speak out and stand up for our God-given rights of liberty and freedom!” Sharyn Kerwin, a Leon County mother with two children in the Leon County school system, says she is “thankful for a governor who leads with science and not with fear. “DeSantis has stood boldly and remained steadfast on his mission to protect the elderly and those at highest risk of serious outcomes from COVID infection while also demanding that we protect Americans’ God-given freedoms which are protected by our constitution,” Kerwin told The Epoch Times. “Parents have a right to decide what’s best for their child’s medical and mental health. DeSantis knows this and our legislators supported this by passing the Parental Bill of Rights into law. I will never stop fighting for my children and my God-given authority to make decisions that are in their best interest! Nathan Newell, a father with four children in the Leon County school system, told The Epoch Times: “With all the scientific evidence available that shows the average mask is not effective, it is a shame school boards and governors are playing politics with our children’s well-being.” Brandi Andrews, a Leon County mother with two children in the Leon County School System, told The Epoch Times: “It has been very troubling to watch our local school board defy the governor and parents’ rights. The CDC recently confirming Florida now has the lowest COVID rates per capita in the United States goes to show masks don’t work being our state has a ban on masks/vaccines thanks to our great governor. I hope our school board will see the light since we finally don’t have to mask our children up for school every day and the COVID positive numbers have remained at bay.” Stephanie Henningsen of Leon County told The Epoch Times that parents “knew, as soon as local school officials imposed their illegal mask mandate upon students, they would ultimately try and claim the victory when the virus numbers inevitably bottomed out. “The thing is, numbers were already beginning to decline at the time they dictated their mandate and when one compared the data among schools that were unmasked compared to Leon County schools there was no significant difference in positive case percentages. The mandate was baseless and more about control and cashing in on the Biden reimbursement promise which ended up backfiring. “The forced masking of children is a form of child abuse and an overreach of local and state governments. Every parent should have a choice on what they deem healthy or not for their children; it’s their God-given right. Teachers and County School Boards should stay within the lanes of the authority they have, focusing on what is within their job description: educating children in regards to math, science, English, and history.” Ashley Crosby told The Epoch Times that the Leon County superintendent and members of the school board “have dedicated a ridiculous amount of time, effort, energy, and local tax paying dollars to act as tyrannical dictators over the matter of masking children, which is completely outside of their jurisdiction.” “Too many children have suffered mentally, emotionally, and educationally at the hands of these people. It’s a shame that rather than being passionate about assisting these children overcome the setbacks that occurred in the school system in the last year, they have rabidly and passionately pursued any means necessary to not let parents have a choice on whether they want their child to wear a mask or not. The health and well-being of the children should be left up to each individual family, and it has been a blessing to have our Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, understand the significant difference in the role of teacher/school boards and parents, defending parents’ rights to make their own informed decisions.” Leon County mom Denee Williams told The Epoch Times that many of the parents who have been attending school board meetings for months expected Cooper to come back with a biased ruling. However they also knew the ruling would not stand because the law, and DeSantis, is on their side. “We were pleased to see that the First Circuit Court ruled in favor of parental rights,” Williams said. “Governor DeSantis has consistently stood as a barrier between liberal politicians who would strip Florida parents of their rights to make the best medical decisions for their families. Parents know best and we do not appreciate these liberal leaders attempting to take decisions out of our hands as if they know better.” Williams further said she is not surprised to know Florida has the lowest COVID-19 rate per capita in the United States. “Our numbers are low because our great governor has made common-sense decisions and refused to be bullied and also refused to make fear-based decisions,” she explained. “He is using the data available and making common-sense decisions and not caving to the liberal narrative that we should all stop living out of fear of this virus. Florida is open and thriving. I look around the country at these blue states and I think how thankful I am to live here in this great state.” Who Gets Credit While some media try to downplay the governor’s role in the plummeting COVID-19 numbers, and others try to credit the fall in numbers to masking and vaccines, some Leon County parents attribute Florida’s COVID-19 success entirely to DeSantis. Crosby said her children attend a private, Christian school in Leon County and that the school board voted to allow parents to have a choice on whether or not they wanted to mask children. Thus far, Crosby said the overwhelming majority of children are unmasked, with “maybe one in 50” wearing a mask. “No teachers wear masks, and we have had a fantastic school year with no major outbreaks or problems,” Crosby said. “So in regards to Democrats or School Boards claiming low case numbers are due to masking, it’s simply not true. They have no science or evidence to prove that, and our school has done no masking since the beginning of August and we have had a normal year with no hiccups.” Williams said “hearing some Democrats try to claim credit that the falling COVID numbers are due to a handful of counties in Florida defying Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order and requiring masks on our students is short-sighted. First, the vast majority of counties did not force masks on their students and the numbers still fell in those counties as well. Second, many children who were forced into masks at school did not wear them outside of school at sporting events or to hang with friends. The claim that forced masking did the trick is a false narrative that I believe most people see right through. It’s laughable, honestly.” Tyler Durden Fri, 11/05/2021 - 18:20.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 5th, 2021

Duke Energy exec says talks with dissident investor continue, seeking "common ground"

Duke Energy Corp. CFO Steve Young left the door open today to adding directors chosen by dissident shareholder Elliott Management Corp., while not commenting directly on published reports of a deal with the group.  Young confirms that discussions continue with the activist investor group that initially called for breaking up the power company into three publicly traded companies — one covering the Carolinas utilities, one for Duke Energy Florida and one for Duke’s Midwest operations. While….....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 4th, 2021