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People who study the origins of civil wars see "indicators" the US is on the brink of conflict, Yale historian says

Yale history professor Timothy Snyder cited the high degree of polarization, beliefs in alternative realities, and the celebration of violence. An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021.Photo by Leah Millis/Reuters Yale history professor Timothy Snyder spoke with Insider about the future of American democracy. Snyder said factors like polarization and alternative realities indicate the US is close to conflict. But Snyder said he thinks it's even more likely that the US could cease to exist. Though the idea of another civil war in the near future seems far-fetched to many Americans, people who study such conflicts might disagree, according to Timothy Snyder, a history professor at Yale University.Snyder, an expert on the rise of authoritarianism, discussed the future of American democracy in an interview with Insider during which he said he fears the US might not survive if former President Donald Trump runs again in 2024.Insider asked Snyder how he feels about people invoking the Civil War when discussing the current state of affairs."First of all, I just want to say that, for the people who actually study the origins of civil wars, not just in the US, but as a class of events, America doesn't look good right now," Snyder said.He cited the high degree of polarization, beliefs in alternative realities, and the celebration of violence, pointing to some who praised the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who killed two people at a racial justice protest in Wisconsin in 2020. (A jury acquitted Rittenhouse, who said he acted in self-defense.)"Those social scientists who actually work on this topic — neutrally — see indicators in the United States, which suggests that we are on the brink of some kind of conflict," Snyder said.Snyder said it is "very possible" that the US could install a president in 2025 who technically loses the election by a clear margin. He said with "a few gimmicks" a candidate that loses the popular vote and loses the electoral college could become president."A few states just have to withhold their electoral votes; the House of Representatives then votes, according to state delegations; the Supreme Court then blesses the whole configuration; and then all of a sudden you have an installed president of the United States," Snyder explained.In that scenario, it's possible the US ends up with a civil war. But Snyder said he thinks that scenario would more likely lead to the dissolution of the US."It's a kind of conflict that ends with governors seeking some kind of safe haven for their states. It's a kind of conflict that ends with Americans moving from one part of the country to another to be with people with whom they feel safer," he said."It's the kind of conflict that ends with some kind of basic political reconstruction, where the US as we know it doesn't have to exist."Read Insider's full interview with Snyder here.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 15th, 2022

We read Ted Cruz"s new e-book on Critical Race Theory. He argues that seeking equity in the world is really calling for "discrimination" against white people.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican of Texas, taught school board candidates that Critical Race Theory is "taking our schools by a storm." Now his lecture is being circulated as an e-book among conservatives. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican of Texas, published an e-book on Critical Race Theory.Ken Cedeno/AFP via Getty Images Ted Cruz just put out an ebook on how to fight Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools.  The Texas senator says critical race theory concepts have "infiltrated our education system." He said to look out for "buzzwords" words like "white privilege," "systematic racism," and "equity." Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is on a mission to "defeat" Critical Race Theory, the study of racial bias in US laws that he says is "taking our schools by storm."Though educators say CRT isn't taught in K-12 schools, Cruz argues the concepts have "infiltrated our education system" in a free, downloadable 10-page e-book exploring the origins of the college-level course, and alleging that it's tied to Marxism."Together, I think we can defeat Critical Race Theory in our schools and make sure that students learn the true history of America—the story of American greatness," Cruz says in the e-book.The e-book, based on Cruz's August 9 lecture at the conservative Leadership Institute's School Board Campaign Training, echoes complaints and talking points that other conservatives have used to fuel controversy over the topic. For example, Christopher Rufo, the Manhattan Institute fellow who started the political discussion about CRT in 2020 on Fox News, encouraged conservatives to use the term "race-based Marxism" in a CRT briefing book section on messaging called "winning the language war."Anyone trying to download the book must provide their email and will be met with a request for donations. "Please give today to help train more conservatives to stop Critical Race Theory in its tracks," the request says.Cruz's e-book teaches conservatives how to "spot CRT concepts" in K-12 curricula by looking for "buzzwords" like "white privilege," " systemic racism" and "equity."  He focuses on "equity," a word Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as "fairness or justice in the way people are treated." Cruz argues that CRT rejects equality and instead demands "equity.""You see, to Critical Race theorists, in order to achieve equity, local and federal government policies must dis-criminate so that the same results are achieved by all races," Cruz writes. "If policies don't meet that standard, CRT considers them racist policies."The e-book, promoted through a sponsored tweet Wednesday by the Washington Times, was part of an 11-hour program the Leadership Institute sponsored in August to prepare conservatives to run for local school board seats "against the entrenched left," according to a message that appears when you sign up to download the book. He participated in the program as school board races across the country were heating up over culture war issues in education, including the teaching of race. A study by Ballotpedia identified 272 school districts in 25 states where candidates took a stance on critical race theory, the role of race in curricula or specific equity and diversity plans, Covid-19 responses, and sex education or the use of gender-specific facilities. The most commonly cited issue was "race in education/critical race theory," mentioned in 248 races, according to the study. Meanwhile, bills and laws to restrict discussion about race and gender in classrooms have cropped up in Republican-led states.Cruz, a Harvard-trained lawyer and former solicitor general of Texas, argues that CRT is based on a Marxist view of society as a conflict between oppressors and the oppressed. He adds that "critiques of capitalism and property have been threads in the CRT quilt since the very beginning."He links CRT to the New York Times Magazine's "1619 Project," an accounting of US history with slavery's consequences and Black Americans' contributions to America at the center. Several school districts are teaching the 1619 project using curriculum guides from the Pulitzer Center. Cruz also quotes from a document by the National Education Association, the nation's largest union representing both teachers and college faculty, that says they "oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project," they support an "honest teaching of social studies," and that it's "appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks" that include CRT. NEA had no immediate comment.Cruz urged conservatives to stand up and fight, citing a case in Southlake, Texas, where he said conservative parents "rallied together to defeat a ridiculous Critical Race Theory initiative that the local school district's diversity committee" had put forth."The conservative parents were able to band together to fight this, and they got three times as many people to show up and vote in the school board elections than usually vote. And guess what—they won the school board elections about 70 to 30—a huge margin," Cruz wrote. "That's what happens when we have grassroots leaders like you pushing back against Critical Race Theory."Fordham University School of Law professor, Tanya Katerí Hernández, who has taught CRT for 25 years, described the topic to Insider as an analysis of legal jurisprudence that examines how advances in civil rights laws were undermined and have in many ways led to disenchantment with a colorblind approach to dealing with racism. People think "it's part of an anti-whiteness mode of analysis or a racial hate platform," she said, adding that that's "completely untrue."But Morton Blackwell, Leadership Institute president, says in an email that accompanies the e-book that Cruz "helps conservatives understand the ugly truth" about CRT."Please share this e-book with other members of your family and community so they too can learn to spot Critical Race Theory concepts," he writes. "As Senator Cruz makes clear, when conservatives stand up and act, we can defeat leftist indoctrination."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 16th, 2021

Ferguson: Omicron Sounds The Death Knell For Globalization 2.0

Ferguson: Omicron Sounds The Death Knell For Globalization 2.0 Authored by Niall Ferguson, op-ed via Bloomberg.com, On top of an intensifying cold war between the U.S. and China and other seismic changes, the rapid spread of Covid-19’s newest variant could finish off our most recent phase of global integration. “Somewhere out there,” I wrote here two weeks ago, “may lurk what I grimly call the ‘omega variant’ of SARS-CoV-2: vaccine-evading, even more contagious than delta, equally or more deadly. According to the medical scientists I read and talk to … the probability of this nightmare scenario is very low, but it is not zero.” Indeed. Little did I know, but even as I wrote those words something that appears to fit this description was spreading rapidly in South Africa’s Gauteng province: not the omega variant, but the omicron variant. As I write today, major uncertainties remain, but what we know so far is not good. People are emotionally predisposed to look on the bright side — we are all sick of this pandemic and want it to be over — so it pains me to write this. Nevertheless, I’ll stick to my policy of applying history to the best available data, even if it means telling you what you really don’t want to hear. First the data: South African cases were up 39% on Friday, to 16,055. The test positivity rate rose from 22.4% to 24.3%, suggesting that the true case number is rising even faster. A Lancet paper suggests that Omicron is likely by far the most transmissible variant yet. There are three possible explanations for this: A higher intrinsic reproduction number (R0), An advantage in “immune escape” to reinfect recovered people or evade vaccines, or Both of the above. An important preprint published on Dec. 2 pointed to immune escape. South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases has individualized data on all its 2.7 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the pandemic. From these, it identified 35,670 suspected reinfections. (Reinfection is defined as an individual testing positive for Covid-19 twice, at least 90 days apart.) Since mid-November, the daily number of reinfections in South Africa has jumped far faster than in any previous wave. In November, the hazard ratio was 2.39 for reinfection versus primary infection, meaning that recovered individuals were getting Covid at more than twice the rate of people who had never had Covid before. And this was when omicron made up less than a quarter of confirmed cases. By contrast, the same study found no statistically significant evidence that the beta and delta variants were capable of reinfection. And, crucially, at least some of these new infections are leading to serious illness. On Thursday, the number of Gauteng patients in intensive care for Covid almost doubled from 63 to 106. Data from a private hospital network in South Africa that has over 240 patients hospitalized with Covid indicate that 32% of the hospitalized patients were fully vaccinated. Note that around three-quarters of the vaccinated in South Africa received the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine. The rest got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Yet these are not the data that worried me the most last week. Those had to do with children. Between Nov. 14 and 28, 455 people were admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in Tshwane metro area, one of the largest hospital systems in Gauteng. Seventy (15%) of those hospitalized were under the age of five; 117 (25%) were under 20. And this is not just a story of precautionary hospitalizations. Twenty of the 70 hospitalized toddlers progressed to “severe” Covid. Up until Oct. 23, before experts estimate omicron began circulating, under-fives represented only 1.8% of cumulative Covid hospital admissions in South Africa. As of Nov. 29, 10% of those now hospitalized in Tshwane were under the age of two. If this trend holds as omicron spreads to advanced economies — and it is spreading very fast, confirming omicron’s high transmissibility — the market impact could be much bigger than is currently priced in. Unlike with the delta wave, many schools would return to hybrid instruction, parents would withdraw from the labor force to provide childcare and consumption patterns would again shift away from retail, hospitality and face-to-face services. Hospital systems would also face shortages of pediatric intensive care beds, which have not been much needed in prior Covid waves. South Africa’s top medical advisor Waasila Jassat noted on Dec. 3 that hospitalizations on average are less severe than in previous waves and hospital stays are shorter. But she also noted a “sharp” increase in hospital admissions of under-fives. Children under 10 represent 11% of all hospital admissions reported since Dec. 1. Here’s what we don’t know yet. We do not know how far prior infection and vaccination will protect against severe disease and death in northern hemisphere countries, where adult vaccination rates are much higher than in South Africa (just 24%). And we do not know if omicron will prove as aggressive toward children in those countries, especially the very young children we have not previously contemplated vaccinating. (Because South Africa has limited testing capacity, we do not know the total number of under-fives infected with omicron in Gauteng, so we do not know what percentage of children are falling sick.) We may not know these things for another week, possibly longer. So panic is not yet warranted. Nor, however, is wishful thinking. It may prove a huge wave of mild illness, signaling the final phase of the transition from pandemic to endemic. But we don’t know that yet. Now the history. First, it makes all the difference in the world whether or not children fall gravely ill in a pandemic. Covid has so far spared the very young to an extent rarely seen in the recorded history of respiratory disease pandemics. (The exception seems to be the 1889-90 “Russian flu,” which modern researchers suspect was in fact a coronavirus pandemic.) The great influenza pandemics of 1918-19 and 1957-58 killed the very young as well as the very old. The former also carried off young adults in the prime of life. The latter caused significant excess mortality among teenagers. Up until this point, Covid was the social Darwinist disease: It disproportionately killed the old, the sick and the gullible (the vulnerable people who allowed themselves to be persuaded that the vaccine was more dangerous than the virus). A hundred years ago, many experts would have hailed such a disease for the same reasons they promoted eugenics. We think differently now. However, emotionally and rationally, we still dread the deaths of children much more than the old, the sick and the foolish. The moment children become seriously ill — as has already happened in Gauteng — the nature of the pandemic fundamentally alters. Risk aversion will be far higher in the Ferguson family, for example, if its youngest members are vulnerable for the first time. The second historical point is that this may be how our age of globalization ends — in a very different way from its first incarnation just over a century ago. The first age of globalization, from the 1860s until 1914, ended with a bang, not a whimper, with the outbreak of World War I. Within a remarkably short space of time, that conflict halted trade, capital flows and migration between the combatant empires. Moreover, the war and its economic aftershocks strengthened and ultimately empowered new political movements, notably Bolshevism and fascism, that fundamentally repudiated free trade and free capital movements in favor of state control of the economy and autarky. By 1933, the outlook for liberal economic policies seemed so utterly hopeless that, in a lecture he gave in Dublin, even John Maynard Keynes threw in the towel and embraced economic self-sufficiency. Now, there is an argument (made by my Bloomberg colleague and occasional editor James Gibney) that the pandemic will not kill globalization. I am not so sure. Defined too broadly, to include any kind cross-border interaction, the word loses its usefulness. Yes, there were all kinds of “transnational networks in science, health, entertainment,” as well as increasingly ambitious international agencies between the wars. But the fact that (for example) the Pan European movement was founded by Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi in the 1920s does not mean that the subsequent decades were a triumph of European integration. There was a great deal of international cooperation and cross-border activity between 1939 and 1945, too. That does not mean that the 1940s were a time of globalization. For the word to be meaningful, globalization must refer to relatively higher volumes of trade, capital flows, migration flows and perhaps also cultural integration on a global scale.   On that basis, globalization peaked — or maybe “maxed out” would be more accurate — in around 2007. Calculate it how you like: Whether the ratio of global exports to GDP, the ratio of gross foreign assets to GDP, global or national migrant flows in relation to total population, they all tell the same story of a sustained rise of globalization hitting a peak around 14 years ago. The economic historian Alan M. Taylor has long argued that we should measure globalization by looking at current account imbalances, which tell us when a lot of trade and lending are happening. On that basis, too, globalization peaked in 2007. Even Before Covid, Trade and Lending Were Trending Down Source: Our World in Data from Maurice Obstfeld and Alan M. Taylor, "Global Capital Markets: Integration, Crisis, and Growth," Japan–US Center UFJ Bank Monographs on International Financial Markets; and International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database. Note: The data shown is the average absolute current account balance (as a percentage of GDP) for 15 countries in five-year blocks. The countries in the sample are Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, U.K., U.S.. Since the financial crisis of 2008-9, however, the volume of world trade has flatlined relative to the volume of industrial production. The U.S. current account deficit peaked in the third quarter of 2006 at -6.3% of GDP. The latest read? -3.3%. The same story emerges when one turns to migration. The foreign-born share of the U.S. population rose rapidly from its nadir in 1970 (4.7%) to a peak of 13.7% in 2019. But the rate of growth clearly slowed after 2012. It remains below its historic peak of 14.7%, back in 1890. Data for net migration similarly point to peaks prior to the financial crisis. Net emigration from South Asia peaked in 2007, for example. So did net immigration to the United Kingdom. Not-So-Open Borders Source: United Nations Population Division What about cultural globalization? My guess is that peaked in 2012, which was the last year that imported films earned more at the Chinese box office than domestic productions. The highest-grossing movie in the history of the People’s Republic is this year’s “Battle of Lake Changjin,” a Korean War drama in which heroic Chinese troops take on the might of the U.S. Army—and win. (Watch the trailer. Then tell me globalization is going to be fine.) What has caused globalization to recede? Let me offer a six-part answer. First, global economic convergence. This may come as a surprise. An influential story over the past two decades was Branco Milanovic’s thesis that globalization had increased inequality. In particular, Milanovic argued in 2016 that “large real income gains [had] been made by people around the median of the global income distribution and by those in the global top 1%. However, there [had] been an absence of real income growth for people around the 80-85th percentiles of the global distribution.” He illustrated this argument with a famous “elephant chart” of cumulative income growth between 1988 and 2008 at each percentile of the global income distribution. On closer inspection, the elephant was a statistical artifact. Strip out the data for Japan, the former Soviet Union and China, and the elephant vanishes. The story Milanovic’s chart told was of the decline of ex-Soviet and Japanese middle-class incomes following the collapse of the USSR and the bursting of Tokyo’s bubble in 1989-90, and the surge of Chinese middle-class incomes, especially after China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. The real story of globalization turns out to be a sustained reduction in global inequality as Chinese incomes caught up rapidly with those in the rest of the world, combined with big increases in national inequality as the “one percent” in some (not all) countries got a whole lot richer. At the heart of globalization was what Moritz Schularick and I called “Chimerica”—the symbiosis between the Chinese and American economies that allowed American capital to take advantage of low-cost Chinese labor (offshoring or outsourcing), American borrowers to take advantage of abundant Chinese savings, and American consumers to take advantage of cheap Chinese manufactures. It could not last. In 2003 Chinese unit labor costs were around a third of those in the U.S. By 2018 the two were essentially on a par. In that sense, the glory days of globalization were bound to be numbered. For as Chinese incomes rose, the rationale for relocating production to China was bound to become weaker. Secondly, and at the same time, new technologies — robotics, three-dimensional printing, artificial intelligence — were rapidly reducing the importance of human labor in manufacturing. With the surge of online commerce and digital services, globalization entered a new phase in which data rather than goods and people crossed borders, even if the Great Firewall of China partly cordoned off China’s internet from the rest of the world’s. Chimerica, as Schularick and I argued back in 2007, was in many ways a chimera — a monstrous creature with the potential to precipitate a crisis, not least by artificially depressing U.S. interest rates and inflating a real estate bubble. When that crisis struck in 2008-9, it was the third blow to globalization. For those who suffered the heaviest losses in the United States and elsewhere, it was not illogical to blame free trade and immigration. A 2015 study by the McKinsey Global Institute showed clearly that people in the U.S., U.K. and France who saw themselves as “not advancing and not hopeful about the future” were much more likely than more optimistic groups to blame “legal immigrants,” “the influx of foreign goods and services,” and “cheaper foreign labor” for, respectively, “ruining the culture and cohesiveness in our society,” “leading to domestic job losses” and “creating unfair competition to domestic businesses.” The only surprising thing was that these feelings took as long as seven years to manifest themselves as an organized political backlash against globalization, in the form of Britain’s vote to exit the European Union and America’s vote for Donald Trump. Dani Rodrik’s famous trilemma — which postulated that you could have any two of globalization, democracy and sovereignty — was emphatically answered in 2016: Voters chose democracy and sovereignty over globalization. This was the fourth strike against “the globalists,” a term invented by the populists to give globalization a more easily hateable human face. The financial crisis and the populist backlash didn’t sound the death knell for globalization. They merely dialed it back — hence the plateau in trade relative to manufacturing and the modest decline (not collapse) of international capital flows and migration. The fifth blow was the outbreak of Cold War II, which should probably be dated from Vice President Mike Pence’s October 2018 Hudson Institute speech, the first time the Trump administration had taken its anti-Chinese policy beyond the confines of the president’s quixotic trade war (which only modestly reduced the bilateral U.S.-Chinese trade deficit). Not everyone has come to terms with this new cold war. Joseph Nye (and the administration of President Joe Biden) would still like to believe that the U.S. and China are frenemies engaged in “coopetition.” But Hal Brands and John Lewis Gaddis, John Mearsheimer and Matt Turpin have all come round to my view that this is a cold war — not identical to the last one, but as similar to it as World War II was to World War I. The only question worth debating is whether or not, as in 1950, cold war turns hot. There is no Thucydidean law that says this is inevitable, as Graham Allison has shown. But I agree with Mearsheimer: The risk of a hot war in Cold War II may actually be higher than in Cold War I. Nothing would kill globalization faster than the outbreak of a superpower war over Taiwan. (And “The Battle of Lake Changjin” is blatantly psyching Chinese cinemagoers up for such a conflict.) The decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies would almost certainly have continued even if the sixth blow — the Covid pandemic — had not struck. It has been astounding how little the Biden administration has changed of its predecessor’s China strategy. However, the pandemic has delivered the coup de grace — “a brutal end to the second age of globalization,” as Nicholas Eberstadt put it last year. True, the volume of merchandise trade has recovered even more rapidly in 2021 than the World Trade Organization anticipated back in March. But the emergence of a new, contagious and lethal coronavirus has caused a collapse of international travel and tourism. The number of passengers carried by the global airline industry plunged by 60% in 2020. It will be not much better than 50% of its pre-pandemic level this year. International tourist arrivals are down by even more this year than last year — close to 80% below their 2019 level. In Asia, international tourism has all but ceased to exist this year. Meanwhile, both the U.S. and the Chinese governments keep devising new ways to discourage their nationals from investing in the rival superpower. Didi Global Inc., the Chinese Uber, just announced it is delisting its shares from the New York Stock Exchange. And the pressure mounts on Wall Street financiers — as Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio discovered last week — to wind up their “long China” trade and stop turning a blind eye to genocide in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses. Next up: the campaign to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Strikingly, a growing number of Western sports stars and organizations such as the Women’s Tennis Association are already willing to defy Beijing — in the case of the WTA by suspending tournaments in China in response to the disappearance of the tennis star Peng Shuai, who accused a senior Communist Party official of sexually assaulting her. China’s leaders should be even more worried by a recent Chicago Council of World Affairs poll, which showed that just over half of Americans (52%) favor using U.S. troops to defend Taiwan if China invades the island — the highest share ever recorded in surveys dating back to 1982. Last month I asked a leading American lawmaker how he explained the marked growth in public hostility toward the Chinese government. His answer was simple: “People blame China for Covid.” And not without reason, as Matt Ridley’s new book “Viral” makes clear. For the avoidance of doubt, I do not foresee as complete a collapse of globalization as happened after 1914. Globalization 2.0 seems to be going out with a whimper — or perhaps a persistent cough — rather than with a bang. Income convergence and technological change were bound to reduce its utility. Having overshot by 2007, globalization settled at a lower level after the financial crisis and was less damaged by populist policies like tariffs than might have been anticipated. But the advent of Cold War II and Covid-19 struck two severe blows. How far globalization is rolled back depends on how far the two phenomena persist or worsen. Maybe — let us pray — the alarming data from Gauteng will not imply a major new wave of illness and death in the wider world. Maybe the omicron variant will not, after all, be that nightmare variant I have feared: more infectious, more lethal, vaccine-evading, not ageist. But omicron is only the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet. In all of Africa only 7.3% of the population are fully vaccinated and there are countless immunocompromised individuals with HIV. Even if omicron turns out to be, like delta, a variant we can live with, there is still some non-zero chance that at some point we get my “omega variant.” In that scenario, the pandemic does not oblige us, weary as we are of it, by ending, but recurs in a succession of waves extending for years. One begins to wonder if China will ever lift its stringent restrictions on foreign visitors. Under such circumstances, I see little chance of Cold War II reaching the détente phase earlier than Cold War I.   In addition to applying history, I have come to believe that we should also apply science fiction, on the principle that its authors are professionally incentivized to envision plausibly the impact of social, technological and other changes on the future. (Fact: an Italian sci-film called “Omicron,” in which an alien takes over a human body, was released in 1963.) No living author is better at this kind of thing than Neal Stephenson, whose “Snow Crash” coined the word “metaverse,” and whom I got to know — appropriately via Zoom — through my friends at the Santa Fe Institute. When Stephenson and I met for a late-night Scotch at a bar in Seattle a few weeks back, we swiftly found common ground. Never have I seen a longer list of wines and spirits: We could have scrolled down on the iPad the server handed us for an hour and still not reached the end. Eventually, we found the malt whisky. And immediately we agreed: Laphroaig — the standard 10-year-old version. Stephenson’s latest novel is “Termination Shock.” Buy it. You will be catapulted into a future Texas of intolerable heat, man-eating hogs, and other nightmares, the effect of which will be to make your present circumstances seem quite tolerable. Part of Stephenson’s genius is his use of the throwaway detail. “RVs,” he writes, were “already at a premium because of Covid-19, Covid-23 and Covid-27.” It’s not really part of the plot, but it stopped my eyeballs in their tracks. And remember: He predicted the metaverse. In 1992. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 05:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 6th, 2021

America"s Woke Colleges Can"t Be Salvaged. We Need New Ones

America's Woke Colleges Can't Be Salvaged. We Need New Ones Authored by Niall Ferguson, op-ed via Bloomberg.com, I'm Helping to Start a New College Because Higher Ed Is Broken If you enjoyed Netflix’s “The Chair” - a lighthearted depiction of a crisis-prone English Department at an imaginary Ivy League college - you are clearly not in higher education. Something is rotten in the state of academia and it’s no laughing matter.   Grade inflation. Spiraling costs. Corruption and racial discrimination in admissions. Junk content (“Grievance Studies”) published in risible journals. Above all, the erosion of academic freedom and the ascendancy of an illiberal “successor ideology” known to its critics as wokeism, which manifests itself as career-ending “cancelations” and speaker disinvitations, but less visibly generates a pervasive climate of anxiety and self-censorship. Some say that universities are so rotten that the institution itself should simply be abandoned and replaced with an online alternative — a metaversity perhaps, to go with the metaverse. I disagree. I have long been skeptical that online courses and content can be anything other than supplementary to the traditional real-time, real-space college experience. However, having taught at several, including Cambridge, Oxford, New York University and Harvard, I have also come to doubt that the existing universities can be swiftly cured of their current pathologies. That is why this week I am one of a group of people announcing the founding of a new university — indeed, a new kind of university: the University of Austin. The founders of this university are a diverse group in terms of our backgrounds and our experiences (though doubtless not diverse enough for some). Our political views also differ. To quote our founding president, Pano Kanelos, “What unites us is a common dismay at the state of modern academia and a belief that it is time for something new.” There is no need to imagine a mythical golden age. The original universities were religious institutions, as committed to orthodoxy and as hostile to heresy as today’s woke seminaries. In the wake of the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution, scholars gradually became less like clergymen; but until the 20th century their students were essentially gentlemen, who owed their admission as much to inherited status as to intellectual ability. Many of the great intellectual breakthroughs of the Enlightenment were achieved off campus. Only from the 19th century did academia become truly secularized and professional, with the decline of religious requirements, the rise to pre-eminence of the natural sciences, the spread of the German system of academic promotion (from doctorate up in steps to full professorship), and the proliferation of scholarly journals based on peer-review. Yet the same German universities that led the world in so many fields around 1900 became enthusiastic helpmeets of the Nazis in ways that revealed the perils of an amoral scholarship decoupled from Christian ethics and too closely connected to the state. Even the institutions with the most sustained records of excellence — Oxford and Cambridge — have had prolonged periods of torpor. F.M. Cornford could mock the inherent conservatism of Oxbridge politics in his “Microcosmographia Academica” in 1908. When Malcolm Bradbury wrote his satirical novel “The History Man” in 1975, universities everywhere were still predominantly white, male and middle class. The process whereby a college education became more widely available — to women, to the working class, to racial minorities — has been slow and remains incomplete. Meanwhile, there have been complaints about the adverse consequences of this process in American universities since Allan Bloom’s “Closing of the American Mind,” which was published back in 1987. Nevertheless, much had been achieved by the later years of the 20th century. There was a general agreement that the central purpose of a university was the pursuit of truth — think only of Harvard’s stark Latin motto: Veritas — and that the crucial means to that end were freedom of conscience, thought, speech and publication. There was supposed to be no discrimination in admissions, examinations and academic appointments, other than on the basis of intellectual merit. That was crucial to enabling Jews and other minority groups to take full advantage of their intellectual potential. It was understood that professors were awarded tenure principally to preserve academic freedom so that they might “dare to think” — Immanuel Kant’s other great imperative, Sapere aude! — without fear of being fired. The benefits of all this defy quantification. A huge proportion of the major scientific breakthroughs of the past century were made by men and women whose academic jobs gave them economic security and a supportive community in which to do their best work. Would the democracies have won the world wars and the Cold War without the contributions of their universities? It seems doubtful. Think only of Bletchley Park and the Manhattan Project. Sure, the Ivy League’s best and brightest also gave us the Vietnam War. But remember, too, that there were more university-based computers on the Arpanet — the original internet — than any other kind. No Stanford, no Silicon Valley. Those of us who were fortunate to be undergraduates in the 1980s remember the exhilarating combination of intellectual freedom and ambition to which all this gave rise. Yet, in the past decade, exhilaration has been replaced by suffocation, to the point that I feel genuinely sorry for today’s undergraduates. In Heterodox Academy’s 2020 Campus Expression Survey, 62% of sampled college students agreed that the climate on their campus prevented them from saying things they believed, up from 55% in 2019, while 41% were reluctant to discuss politics in a classroom, up from 32% in 2019. Some 60% of students said they were reluctant to speak up in class because they were concerned other students would criticize their views as being offensive. Such anxieties are far from groundless. According to a nationwide survey of a thousand undergraduates by the Challey Institute for Global Innovation, 85% of self-described liberal students would report a professor to the university if the professor said something that they found offensive, while 76% would report another student. In a study published in March entitled “Academic Freedom in Crisis: Punishment, Political Discrimination and Self-Censorship,” the Centre for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology showed that academic freedom is under attack not only in the U.S., but also in the U.K. and Canada. Three-quarters of conservative American and British academics in the social sciences and humanities said there is a hostile climate for their beliefs in their department. This compares to just 5% among left-wing faculty in the U.S. Again, one can understand why. Younger academics are especially likely to support dismissal of a colleague who has made some heretical utterance, with 40% of American social sciences and humanities professors under the age of 40 supporting at least one of four hypothetical dismissal campaigns. Ph.D. students are even more intolerant than other young academics: 55% of American Ph.D. students under 40 supported at least one hypothetical dismissal campaign. “High-profile deplatformings and dismissals” get the attention, the authors of the report conclude, but “far more pervasive threats to academic freedom stem … from fears of a) cancellation — threats to one’s job or reputation — and b) political discrimination.” These are not unfounded fears. The number of scholars targeted for their speech has risen dramatically since 2015, according to research by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE has logged 426 incidents since 2015. Just under three-quarters of them resulted in some kind of sanction — including an investigation alone or voluntary resignation — against the scholar. Such efforts to restrict free speech usually originate with “progressive” student groups, but often find support from left-leaning faculty members and are encouraged by college administrators, who tend (as Sam Abrams of Sarah Lawrence College demonstrated, and as his own subsequent experience confirmed) to be even further to the left than professors. There are also attacks on academic freedom from the right, which FIRE challenges. With a growing number of Republicans calling for bans on critical race theory, I fear the illiberalism is metastasizing. Trigger warnings. Safe spaces. Preferred pronouns. Checked privileges. Microaggressions. Antiracism. All these terms are routinely deployed on campuses throughout the English-speaking world as part of a sustained campaign to impose ideological conformity in the name of diversity. As a result, it often feels as if there is less free speech and free thought in the American university today than in almost any other institution in the U.S. To the historian’s eyes, there is something unpleasantly familiar about the patterns of behavior that have, in a matter of a few years, become normal on many campuses. The chanting of slogans. The brandishing of placards. The letters informing on colleagues and classmates. The denunciations of professors to the authorities. The lack of due process. The cancelations. The rehabilitations following abject confessions. The officiousness of unaccountable bureaucrats. Any student of the totalitarian regimes of the mid-20th century recognizes all this with astonishment. It turns out that it can happen in a free society, too, if institutions and individuals who claim to be liberal choose to behave in an entirely illiberal fashion.  How to explain this rapid descent of academia from a culture of free inquiry and debate into a kind of Totalitarianism Lite? In their book “The Coddling of the American Mind,” the social psychiatrist Jonathan Haidt and FIRE president Greg Lukianoff lay much of the blame on a culture of parenting and early education that encourages students to believe that “what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker,” that you should “always trust your feelings,” and that “life is a battle between good people and evil people.” However, I believe the core problems are the pathological structures and perverse incentives of the modern university. It is not the case, as many Americans believe, that U.S. colleges have always been left-leaning and that today’s are no different from those of the 1960s. As Stanley Rothman, Robert Lichter and Neil Nevitte showed in a 2005 study, while 39% of the professoriate on average described themselves as left-wing in 1984, the proportion had risen to 72% by 1999, by which time being a conservative had become a measurable career handicap. Mitchell Langbert’s analysis of tenure-track, Ph.D.-holding professors from 51 of the 66 top-ranked liberal arts colleges in 2017 found that those with known political affiliations were overwhelmingly Democratic. Nearly two-fifths of the colleges in Langbert’s sample were Republican-free. The mean Democratic-to-Republican ratio across the sample was 10.4:1, or 12.7:1 if the two military academies, West Point and Annapolis, were excluded. For history departments, the ratio was 17.4:1; for English 48.3:1. No ratio is calculable for anthropology, as the number of Republican professors was zero. In 2020, Langbert and Sean Stevens  found an even bigger skew to the left when they considered political donations to parties by professors. The ratio of dollars contributed to Democratic versus Republican candidates and committees was 21:1. Commentators who argue that the pendulum will magically swing back betray a lack of understanding about the academic hiring and promotion process. With political discrimination against conservatives now overt, most departments are likely to move further to the left over time as the last remaining conservatives retire. Yet the leftward march of the professoriate is only one of the structural flaws that characterize today’s university. If you think the faculty are politically skewed, take a look at academic administrators. A shocking insight into the way some activist-administrators seek to bully students into ideological conformity was provided by Trent Colbert, a Yale Law School student who invited his fellow members of the Native American Law Students Association to “a Constitution Day bash” at the “NALSA Trap House,” a term that used to mean a crack den but now is just a mildly risque way of describing a party. Diversity director Yaseen Eldik’s thinly veiled threats to Colbert if he didn’t sign a groveling apology — “I worry about this leaning over your reputation as a person, not just here but when you leave” — were too much even for an editorial board member at the Washington Post. Democracy may die in darkness; academic freedom dies in wokeness. Moreover, the sheer number of the administrators is a problem in itself. In 1970, U.S. colleges employed more professors than administrators. Between then and 2010, however, the number of full-time professors or “full-time equivalents” increased by slightly more than 50%, in line with student enrollments. The number of administrators and administrative staffers rose by 85% and 240%, respectively. The ever-growing army of coordinators for Title IX — the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination — is one manifestation of the bureaucratic bloat, which since the 1990s has helped propel tuition costs far ahead of inflation. The third structural problem is weak leadership. Time and again — most recently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where a lecture by the University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot was abruptly canceled because he had been critical of affirmative action — academic leaders have yielded to noisy mobs baying for disinvitations. There are notable exceptions, such as Robert Zimmer, who as president of the University of Chicago between 2006 and 2021 made a stand for academic freedom. But the number of other colleges to have adopted the Chicago statement, a pledge crafted by the school’s Committee on Freedom of Expression, remains just 55, out of nearly 2,500 institutions offering four-year undergraduate programs. Finally, there is the problem of the donors — most but not all alumni — and trustees, many of whom have been astonishingly oblivious of the problems described above. In 2019, donors gave nearly $50 billion to colleges. Eight donors gave $100 million or more. People generally do not make that kind of money without being hard-nosed in their business dealings. Yet the capitalist class appears strangely unaware of the anticapitalist uses to which its money is often put. A phenomenon I find deeply puzzling is the lack of due diligence associated with much academic philanthropy, despite numerous cases when the intentions of benefactors have deliberately been subverted. All this would be bad enough if it meant only that U.S. universities are no longer conducive to free inquiry and promotion based on merit, without which scientific advances are certain to be impeded and educational standards to fall. But academic illiberalism is not confined to college campuses. As students collect their degrees and enter the workforce, they inevitably carry some of what they have learned at college with them. Multiple manifestations of “woke” thinking and behavior at newspapers, publishing houses, technology companies and other corporations have confirmed Andrew Sullivan’s 2018 observation, “We all live on campus now.” When a problem becomes this widespread, the traditional American solution is to create new institutions. As we have seen, universities are relatively long-lived compared to companies and even nations. But not all great universities are ancient. Of today’s top 25 universities, according to the global rankings compiled by the London Times Higher Education Supplement, four were founded in the 20th century. Fully 14 were 19th-century foundations; four date back to the 18th century. Only Oxford (which can trace its origins to 1096) and Cambridge (1209) are medieval in origin.  As might be inferred from the large number (10) of today’s leading institutions founded in the U.S. between 1855 and 1900, new universities tend to be established when wealthy elites grow impatient with the existing ones and see no way of reforming them. The puzzle is why, despite the resurgence of inequality in the U.S. since the 1990s and the more or less simultaneous decline in standards at the existing universities, so few new ones have been created. Only a handful have been set up this century: University of California Merced (2005), Ave Maria University (2003) and Soka University of America (2001). Just five U.S. colleges founded in the past 50 years make it into the Times’s top 25 “Young Universities”: University of Alabama at Birmingham (founded 1969), University of Texas at Dallas (1969), George Mason (1957), University of Texas at San Antonio (1969) and Florida International (1969). Each is (or originated as) part of a state university system. In short, the beneficiaries of today’s gilded age seem altogether more tolerant of academic degeneration than their 19th-century predecessors. For whatever reason, many prefer to give their money to established universities, no matter how antithetical those institutions’ values have become to their own. This makes no sense, even if the principal motivation is to buy Ivy League spots for their offspring. Why would you pay to have your children indoctrinated with ideas you despise? So what should the university of the future look like? Clearly, there is no point in simply copying and pasting Harvard, Yale or Princeton and expecting a different outcome. Even if such an approach were affordable, it would be the wrong one. To begin with, a new institution can’t compete with the established brands when it comes to undergraduate programs. Young Americans and their counterparts elsewhere go to college as much for the high-prestige credentials and the peer networks as for the education. That’s why a new university can’t start by offering bachelors’ degrees. The University of Austin will therefore begin modestly, with a summer school offering “Forbidden Courses” — the kind of content and instruction no longer available at most established campuses, addressing the kind of provocative questions that often lead to cancelation or self-censorship. The next step will be a one-year master’s program in Entrepreneurship and Leadership. The primary purpose of conventional business programs is to credential large cohorts of passive learners with a lowest-common-denominator curriculum. The University of Austin’s program will aim to teach students classical principles of the market economy and then embed them in a network of successful technologists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and public-policy reformers. It will offer an introduction to the world of American technology similar to the introduction to the Chinese economy offered by the highly successful Schwarzman Scholars program, combining both academic pedagogy and practical experience. Later, there will be parallel programs in Politics and Applied History and in Education and Public Service. Only after these initial programs have been set up will we start offering a four-year liberal arts degree.  The first two years of study will consist of an intensive liberal arts curriculum, including the study of philosophy, literature, history, politics, economics, mathematics, the sciences and the fine arts. There will be Oxbridge-style instruction, with small tutorials and college-wide lectures, providing an in-depth and personalized learning experience with interdisciplinary breadth.   After two years of a comprehensive and rigorous liberal arts education, undergraduates will join one of four academic centers as junior fellows, pursuing disciplinary coursework, conducting hands-on research and gaining experience as interns. The initial centers will include one for entrepreneurship and leadership, one for politics and applied history, one for education and public service, and one for technology, engineering and mathematics. To those who argue that we could more easily do all this with some kind of internet platform, I would say that online learning is no substitute for learning on a campus, for reasons rooted in evolutionary psychology. We simply learn much better in relatively small groups in real time and space, not least because a good deal of what students learn in a well-functioning university comes from their informal discussions in the absence of professors. This explains the persistence of the university over a millennium, despite successive revolutions in information technology. To those who wonder how a new institution can avoid being captured by the illiberal-liberal establishment that now dominates higher education, I would answer that the governance structure of the institution will be designed to prevent that. The Chicago principles of freedom of expression will be enshrined in the founding charter. The founders will form a corporation or board of trustees that will be sovereign. Not only will the corporation appoint the president of the college; it will also have a final say over all appointments or promotions. There will be one unusual obligation on faculty members, besides the standard ones to teach and carry out research: to conduct the admissions process by means of an examination that they will set and grade. Admission will be based primarily on performance on the exam. That will avoid the corrupt rackets run by so many elite admissions offices today. As for our choice of location in the Texas capital, I would say that proximity to a highly regarded public university — albeit one where even the idea of establishing an institute to study liberty is now controversial — will ensure that the University of Austin has to compete at the highest level from the outset. My fellow founders and I have no illusions about the difficulty of the task ahead. We fully expect condemnation from the educational establishment and its media apologists. We shall regard all such attacks as vindication — the flak will be a sign that we are above the target. In our minds, there can be no more urgent task for a society than to ensure the health of its system of higher education. The American system today is broken in ways that pose a profound threat to the future strength and stability of the U.S. It is time to start fixing it. But the opportunity to do so in the classic American way — by creating something new, actually building rather than “building back” — is an inspiring and exciting one. To quote Haidt and Lukianoff: “A school that makes freedom of inquiry an essential part of its identity, selects students who show special promise as seekers of truth, orients and prepares those students for productive disagreement … would be inspiring to join, a joy to attend, and a blessing to society.” That is not the kind of institution satirized in “The Chair.” It is precisely the kind of institution we need today. *  *  * Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was previously a professor of history at Harvard, New York University and Oxford. He is the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, a New York-based advisory firm. His latest book is "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe." Tyler Durden Wed, 11/10/2021 - 22:05.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 10th, 2021

Green Energy: A Bubble In Unrealistic Expectations

Green Energy: A Bubble In Unrealistic Expectations Authored by David Hay via Everegreen Gavekal blog, “You see what is happening in Europe. There is hysteria and some confusion in the markets. Why?…Some people are speculating on climate change issues, some people are underestimating some things, some are starting to cut back on investments in the extractive industries. There needs to be a smooth transition.” - Vladimir Putin (someone with whom this author rarely agrees) “By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of its citizens.” – John Maynard Keynes (an interesting observation for all the modern day Keynesians to consider given their support of current inflationary US policies, including energy-related) Introduction This week’s EVA provides another sneak preview into David Hay’s book-in-process, “Bubble 3.0” discussing what he thinks is the crucial topic of “greenflation.”  This is a term he coined referring to the rising price for metals and minerals that are essential for solar and wind power, electric cars, and other renewable technologies. It also centers on the reality that as global policymakers have turned against the fossil fuel industry, energy producers are for the first time in history not responding to dramatically higher prices by increasing production.  Consequently, there is a difficult tradeoff that arises as the world pushes harder to combat climate change, driving up energy costs to painful levels, especially for lower income individuals.  What we are currently seeing in Europe is a vivid example of this dilemma.  While it may be the case that governments welcome higher oil and natural gas prices to discourage their use, energy consumers are likely to have a much different reaction. Summary BlackRock’s CEO recently admitted that, despite what many are opining, the green energy transition is nearly certain to be inflationary. Even though it’s early in the year, energy prices are already experiencing unprecedented spikes in Europe and Asia, but most Americans are unaware of the severity. To that point, many British residents being faced with the fact that they may need to ration heat and could be faced with the chilling reality that lives could be lost if this winter is as cold as forecasters are predicting. Because of the huge increase in energy prices, inflation in the eurozone recently hit a 13-year high, heavily driven by natural gas prices on the Continent that are the equivalent of $200 oil. It used to be that the cure for extreme prices was extreme prices, but these days I’m not so sure.  Oil and gas producers are very wary of making long-term investments to develop new resources given the hostility to their industry and shareholder pressure to minimize outlays. I expect global supply to peak sometime next year and a major supply deficit looks inevitable as global demand returns to normal. In Norway, almost 2/3 of all new vehicle sales are of the electric variety (EVs) – a huge increase in just over a decade. Meanwhile, in the US, it’s only about 2%. Still, given Norway’s penchant for the plug-in auto, the demand for oil has not declined. China, despite being the largest market by far for electric vehicles, is still projected to consume an enormous and rising amount of oil in the future. About 70% of China’s electricity is generated by coal, which has major environmental ramifications in regards to electric vehicles. Because of enormous energy demand in China this year, coal prices have experienced a massive boom. Its usage was up 15% in the first half of this year, and the Chinese government has instructed power providers to obtain all baseload energy sources, regardless of cost.  The massive migration to electric vehicles – and the fact that they use six times the amount of critical minerals as their gasoline-powered counterparts –means demand for these precious resources is expected to skyrocket. This extreme need for rare minerals, combined with rapid demand growth, is a recipe for a major spike in prices. Massively expanding the US electrical grid has several daunting challenges– chief among them the fact that the American public is extremely reluctant to have new transmission lines installed in their area. The state of California continues to blaze the trail for green energy in terms of both scope and speed. How the rest of the country responds to their aggressive take on renewables remains to be seen. It appears we are entering a very odd reality: governments are expending resources they do not have on weakly concentrated energy. And the result may be very detrimental for today’s modern economy. If the trend in energy continues, what looks nearly certain to be the Third Energy crisis of the last half-century may linger for years.  Green energy: A bubble in unrealistic expectations? As I have written in past EVAs, it amazes me how little of the intense inflation debate in 2021 centered on the inflationary implications of the Green Energy transition.  Perhaps it is because there is a built-in assumption that using more renewables should lower energy costs since the sun and the wind provide “free power”.  However, we will soon see that’s not the case, at least not anytime soon; in fact, it’s my contention that it will likely be the opposite for years to come and I’ve got some powerful company.  Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, a very pro-ESG* organization, is one of the few members of Wall Street’s elite who admitted this in the summer of 2021.  The story, however, received minimal press coverage and was quickly forgotten (though, obviously, not be me!).  This EVA will outline myriad reasons why I think Mr. Fink was telling it like it is…despite the political heat that could bring down upon him.  First, though, I will avoid any discussion of whether humanity is the leading cause of global warming.  For purposes of this analysis, let’s make the high-odds assumption that for now a high-speed green energy transition will continue to occur.  (For those who would like a well-researched and clearly articulated overview of the climate debate, I highly recommend the book “Unsettled”; it’s by a former top energy expert and scientist from the Obama administration, Dr. Steven Koonin.) The reason I italicized “for now” is that in my view it’s extremely probable that voters in many Western countries are going to become highly retaliatory toward energy policies that are already creating extreme hardship.  Even though it’s only early autumn as I write these words, energy prices are experiencing unprecedented increases in Europe.  Because it’s “over there”, most Americans are only vaguely aware of the severity of the situation.  But the facts are shocking…  Presently, natural gas is going for $29 per million British Thermal Units (BTUs) in Europe, a quadruple compared to the same time in 2020, versus “just” $5 in the US, which is a mere doubling.  As a consequence, wholesale energy cost in Great Britain rose an unheard of 60% even before summer ended.  Reportedly, nine UK energy companies are on the brink of failure at this time due to their inability to fully pass on the enormous cost increases.  As a result, the British government is reportedly on the verge of nationalizing some of these entities—supposedly, temporarily—to prevent them from collapsing.  (CNBC reported on Wednesday that UK natural gas prices are now up 800% this year; in the US, nat gas rose 20% on Tuesday alone, before giving back a bit more than half of that the next day.) Serious food shortages are expected after exorbitant natural gas costs forced most of England’s commercial production of CO2 to shut down.  (CO2 is used both for stunning animals prior to slaughter and also in food packaging.)  Additionally, ballistic natural gas prices have forced the closure of two big US fertilizer plants due to a potential shortfall of ammonium nitrate of which “nat gas” is a key feedstock.  *ESG stands for Environmental, Social, Governance; in 2021, Blackrock’s assets under management approximated $9 ½ trillion, about one-third of the total US federal debt. With the winter of 2021 approaching, British households are being told they may need to ration heat.  There are even growing concerns about the widespread loss of life if this winter turns out to be a cold one, as 2020 was in Europe.  Weather forecasters are indicating that’s a distinct possibility.   In Spain, consumers are paying 40% more for electricity compared to the prior year.  The Spanish government has begun resorting to price controls to soften the impact of these rapidly escalating costs. (The history of price controls is that they often exacerbate shortages.) Naturally, spiking power prices hit the poorest hardest, which is typical of inflation whether it is of the energy variety or of generalized price increases.  Due to these massive energy price increases, eurozone inflation recently hit a 13-year high, heavily driven by natural gas prices that are the equivalent of $200 per barrel oil.  This is consistent with what I warned about in several EVAs earlier this year and I think there is much more of this looming in the years to come. In Asia, which also had a brutally cold winter in 2020 – 2021, there are severe energy shortages being disclosed, as well.  China has instructed its power providers to secure all the coal they can in preparation for a repeat of frigid conditions and acute deficits even before winter arrives.  The government has also instructed its energy distributors to acquire all the liquified natural gas (LNG) they can, regardless of cost.  LNG recently hit $35 per million British Thermal Units in Asia, up sevenfold in the past year.  China is also rationing power to its heavy industries, further exacerbating the worldwide shortages of almost everything, with notable inflationary implications. In India, where burning coal provides about 70% of electricity generation (as it does in China), utilities are being urged to import coal even though that country has the world’s fourth largest coal reserves.  Several Indian power plants are close to exhausting their coal supplies as power usage rips higher. Normally, I’d say that the cure for such extreme prices, was extreme prices—to slightly paraphrase the old axiom.  But these days, I’m not so sure; in fact, I’m downright dubious.  After all, the enormously influential International Energy Agency has recommended no new fossil fuel development after 2021—“no new”, as in zero.  It’s because of pressure such as this that, even though US natural gas prices have done a Virgin Galactic to $5 this year, the natural gas drilling rig count has stayed flat.  The last time prices were this high there were three times as many working rigs.  It is the same story with oil production.  Most Americans don’t seem to realize it but the US has provided 90% of the planet’s petroleum output growth over the past decade.  In other words, without America’s extraordinary shale oil production boom—which raised total oil output from around 5 million barrels per day in 2008 to 13 million barrels per day in 2019—the world long ago would have had an acute shortage.  (Excluding the Covid-wracked year of 2020, oil demand grows every year—strictly as a function of the developing world, including China, by the way.) Unquestionably, US oil companies could substantially increase output, particularly in the Permian Basin, arguably (but not much) the most prolific oil-producing region in the world.  However, with the Fed being pressured by Congress to punish banks that lend to any fossil fuel operator, and the overall extreme hostility toward domestic energy producers, why would they?  There is also tremendous pressure from Wall Street on these companies to be ESG compliant.  This means reducing their carbon footprint.  That’s tough to do while expanding their volume of oil and gas.  Further, investors, whether on Wall Street or on London’s equivalent, Lombard Street, or in pretty much any Western financial center, are against US energy companies increasing production.  They would much rather see them buy back stock and pay out lush dividends.  The companies are embracing that message.  One leading oil and gas company CEO publicly mused to the effect that buying back his own shares at the prevailing extremely depressed valuations was a much better use of capital than drilling for oil—even at $75 a barrel. As reported by Morgan Stanley, in the summer of 2021, an US institutional broker conceded that of his 400 clients, only one would consider investing in an energy company!  Consequently, the fact that the industry is so detested means that its shares are stunningly undervalued.  How stunningly?  A myriad of US oil and gas producers are trading at free cash flow* yields of 10% to 15% and, in some cases, as high as 25%. In Europe, where the same pressures apply, one of its biggest energy companies is generating a 16% free cash flow yield.  Moreover, that is based up an estimate of $60 per barrel oil, not the prevailing price of $80 on the Continent. *Free cash flow is the excess of gross cash flow over and above the capital spending needed to sustain a business.  Many market professionals consider it more meaningful than earnings.  Therefore, due to the intense antipathy toward Western energy producers they aren’t very inclined to explore for new resources.  Another much overlooked fact about the ultra-critical US shale industry that, as noted, has been nearly the only source of worldwide output growth for the past 13 years, is its rapid decline nature.  Most oil wells see their production taper off at just 4% or 5% per year.  But with shale, that decline rate is 80% after only two years.  (Because of the collapse in exploration activities in 2020 due to Covid, there are far fewer new wells coming on-line; thus, the production base is made up of older wells with slower decline rates but it is still a much steeper cliff than with traditional wells.)  As a result, the US, the world’s most important swing producer, has to come up with about 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of new output just to stay even.  (This was formerly about a 3 million bpd number due to both the factor mentioned above and the 2 million bpd drop in total US oil production, from 13 million bpd to around 11 million bpd since 2019).  Please recall that total US oil production in 2008 was only around 5 million bpd.  Thus, 1.5 million barrels per day is a lot of oil and requires considerable drilling and exploration activities.  Again, this is merely to stay steady-state, much less grow.  The foregoing is why I wrote on multiple occasions in EVAs during 2020, when the futures price for oil went below zero*, that crude would have a spectacular price recovery later that year and, especially, in 2021.  In my view, to go out on my familiar creaky limb, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!  With supply extremely challenged for the above reasons and demand marching back, I believe 2022 could see $100 crude, possibly even higher.  *Physical oil, or real vs paper traded, bottomed in the upper teens when the futures contract for delivery in April, 2020, went deeply negative.  Mike Rothman of Cornerstone Analytics has one of the best oil price forecasting records on Wall Street.  Like me, he was vehemently bullish on oil after the Covid crash in the spring of 2020 (admittedly, his well-reasoned optimism was a key factor in my up-beat outlook).  Here’s what he wrote late this summer:  “Our forecast for ’22 looks to see global oil production capacity exhausted late in the year and our balance suggests OPEC (and OPEC + participants) will face pressures to completely remove any quotas.”  My expectation is that global supply will likely max out sometime next year, barring a powerful negative growth shock (like a Covid variant even more vaccine resistant than Delta).  A significant supply deficit looks inevitable as global demand recovers and exceeds its pre-Covid level.  This is a view also shared by Goldman Sachs and Raymond James, among others; hence, my forecast of triple-digit prices next year.  Raymond James pointed out that in June the oil market was undersupplied by 2.5 mill bpd.  Meanwhile, global petroleum demand was rapidly rising with expectations of nearly pre-Covid consumption by year-end.  Mike Rothman ran this chart in a webcast on 9/10/2021 revealing how far below the seven-year average oil inventories had fallen.  This supply deficit is very likely to become more acute as the calendar flips to 2022. In fact, despite oil prices pushing toward $80, total US crude output now projected to actually decline this year.  This is an unprecedented development.  However, as the very pro-renewables Financial Times (the UK’s equivalent of the Wall Street Journal) explained in an August 11th, 2021, article:  “Energy companies are in a bind.  The old solution would be to invest more in raising gas production.  But with most developed countries adopting plans to be ‘net zero’ on carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier, the appetite for throwing billions at long-term gas projects is diminished.” The author, David Sheppard, went on to opine: “In the oil industry there are those who think a period of plus $100-a-barrel oil is on the horizon, as companies scale back investments in future supplies, while demand is expected to keep rising for most of this decade at a minimum.”  (Emphasis mine)  To which I say, precisely!  Thus, if he’s right about rising demand, as I believe he is, there is quite a collision looming between that reality and the high probability of long-term constrained supplies.  One of the most relevant and fascinating Wall Street research reports I read as I was researching the topic of what I have been referring to as “Greenflation” is from Morgan Stanley.  Its title asked the provocative question:  “With 64% of New Cars Now Electric, Why is Norway Still Using so Much Oil?”  While almost two-thirds of Norway’s new vehicle sales are EVs, a remarkable market share gain in just over a decade, the number in the US is an ultra-modest 2%.   Yet, per the Morgan Stanley piece, despite this extraordinary push into EVs, oil consumption in Norway has been stubbornly stable.  Coincidentally, that’s been the experience of the overall developed world over the past 10 years, as well; petroleum consumption has largely flatlined.  Where demand hasn’t gone horizontal is in the developing world which includes China.  As you can see from the following Cornerstone Analytics chart, China’s oil demand has vaulted by about 6 million barrels per day (bpd) since 2010 while its domestic crude output has, if anything, slightly contracted. Another coincidence is that this 6 million bpd surge in China’s appetite for oil, almost exactly matched the increase in US oil production.  Once again, think where oil prices would be today without America’s shale oil boom. This is unlikely to change over the next decade.  By 2031, there are an estimated one billion Asian consumers moving up into the middle class.  History is clear that more income means more energy consumption.  Unquestionably, renewables will provide much of that power but oil and natural gas are just as unquestionably going to play a critical role.  Underscoring that point, despite the exponential growth of renewables over the last 10 years, every fossil fuel category has seen increased usage.  Thus, even if China gets up to Norway’s 64% EV market share of new car sales over the next decade, its oil usage is likely to continue to swell.  Please be aware that China has become the world’s largest market for EVs—by far.  Despite that, the above chart vividly displays an immense increase in oil demand.  Here’s a similar factoid that I ran in our December 4th EVA, “Totally Toxic”, in which I made a strong bullish case for energy stocks (the main energy ETF is up 35% from then, by the way):  “(There was) a study by the UN and the US government based on the Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse Gasses Induced Climate Change (MAGICC).  The model predicted that ‘the complete elimination of all fossil fuels in the US immediately would only restrict any increase in world temperature by less than one tenth of one degree Celsius by 2050, and by less than one fifth of one degree Celsius by 2100.’  Say again?  If the world’s biggest carbon emitter on a per capita basis causes minimal improvement by going cold turkey on fossil fuels, are we making the right moves by allocating tens of trillions of dollars that we don’t have toward the currently in-vogue green energy solutions?” China's voracious power appetite increase has been true with all of its energy sources.  On the environmentally-friendly front, that includes renewables; on the environmentally-unfriendly side, it also includes coal.  In 2020, China added three times more coal-based power generation than all other countries combined.  This was the equivalent of an additional coal planet each week.  Globally, there was a reduction last year of 17 gigawatts in coal-fired power output; in China, the increase was 29.8 gigawatts, far more than offsetting the rest of the world’s progress in reducing the dirtiest energy source.  (A gigawatt can power a city with a population of roughly 700,000.) Overall, 70% of China’s electricity is coal-generated. This has significant environmental implications as far as electric vehicles (EVs) are concerned.  Because EVs are charged off a grid that is primarily coal- powered, carbon emissions actually rise as the number of such vehicles proliferate. As you can see in the following charts from Reuters’ energy expert John Kemp, Asia’s coal-fired generation has risen drastically in the last 20 years, even as it has receded in the rest of the world.  (The flattening recently is almost certainly due to Covid, with a sharp upward resumption nearly a given.) The worst part is that burning coal not only emits CO2—which is not a pollutant and is essential for life—it also releases vast quantities of nitrous oxide (N20), especially on the scale of coal usage seen in Asia today. N20 is unquestionably a pollutant and a greenhouse gas that is hundreds of times more potent than CO2.  (An interesting footnote is that over the last 550 million years, there have been very few times when the CO2 level has been as low, or lower, than it is today.)  Some scientists believe that one reason for the shrinkage of Arctic sea ice in recent decades is due to the prevailing winds blowing black carbon soot over from Asia.  This is a separate issue from N20 which is a colorless gas.  As the black soot covers the snow and ice fields in Northern Canada, they become more absorbent of the sun’s radiation, thus causing increased melting.  (Source:  “Weathering Climate Change” by Hugh Ross) Due to exploding energy needs in China this year, coal prices have experienced an unprecedented surge.  Despite this stunning rise, Chinese authorities have instructed its power providers to obtain coal, and other baseload energy sources, such as liquified natural gas (LNG), regardless of cost.  Notwithstanding how pricey coal has become, its usage in China was up 15% in the first half of this year vs the first half of 2019 (which was obviously not Covid impacted). Despite the polluting impact of heavy coal utilization, China is unlikely to turn away from it due to its high energy density (unlike renewables), its low cost (usually) and its abundance within its own borders (though its demand is so great that it still needs to import vast amounts).  Regarding oil, as we saw in last week’s final image, it is currently importing roughly 11 million barrels per day (bpd) to satisfy its 15 million bpd consumption (about 15% of total global demand).  In other words, crude imports amount to almost three-quarter of its needs.  At $80 oil, this totals $880 million per day or approximately $320 billion per year.  Imagine what China’s trade surplus would look like without its oil import bill! Ironically, given the current hostility between the world’s superpowers, China has an affinity for US oil because of its light and easy-to-refine nature.  China’s refineries tend to be low-grade and unable to efficiently process heavier grades of crude, unlike the US refining complex which is highly sophisticated and prefers heavy oil such as from Canada and Venezuela—back when the latter actually produced oil. Thus, China favors EVs because they can be de facto coal-powered, lessening its dangerous reliance on imported oil.  It also likes them due to the fact it controls 80% of the lithium ion battery supply and 60% of the planet’s rare earth minerals, both of which are essential to power EVs.     However, even for China, mining enough lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, aluminum and the other essential minerals/metals to meet the ambitious goals of largely electrifying new vehicle volumes is going to be extremely daunting.  This is in addition to mass construction of wind farms and enormously expanded solar panel manufacturing. As one of the planet’s leading energy authorities Daniel Yergin writes: “With the move to electric cars, demand for critical minerals will skyrocket (lithium up 4300%, cobalt and nickel up 2500%), with an electric vehicle using 6 times more minerals than a conventional car and a wind turbine using 9 times more minerals than a gas-fueled power plant.  The resources needed for the ‘mineral-intensive energy system’ of the future are also highly concentrated in relatively few countries. Whereas the top 3 oil producers in the world are responsible for about 30 percent of total liquids production, the top 3 lithium producers control more than 80% of supply. China controls 60% of rare earths output needed for wind towers; the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 70% of the cobalt required for EV batteries.” As many have noted, the environmental impact of immensely ramping up the mining of these materials is undoubtedly going to be severe.  Michael Shellenberger, a life-long environmental activist, has been particularly vociferous in his condemnation of the dominant view that only renewables can solve the global energy needs.  He’s especially critical of how his fellow environmentalists resorted to repetitive deception, in his view, to undercut nuclear power in past decades.  By leaving nuke energy out of the solution set, he foresees a disastrous impact on the planet due to the massive scale (he’d opine, impossibly massive) of resource mining that needs to occur.  (His book, “Apocalypse Never”, is also one I highly recommend; like Dr. Koonin, he hails from the left end of the political spectrum.) Putting aside the environmental ravages of developing rare earth minerals, when you have such high and rapidly rising demand colliding with limited supply, prices are likely to go vertical.  This will be another inflationary “forcing”, a favorite term of climate scientists, caused by the Great Green Energy Transition. Moreover, EVs are very semiconductor intensive.  With semis already in seriously short supply, this is going to make a gnarly situation even gnarlier.  It’s logical to expect that there will be recurring shortages of chips over the next decade for this reason alone (not to mention the acute need for semis as the “internet of things” moves into primetime).  In several of the newsletters I’ve written in recent years, I’ve pointed out the present vulnerability of the US electric grid.  Yet, it will be essential not just to keep it from breaking down under its current load; it must be drastically enhanced, a Herculean task. For one thing, it is excruciatingly hard to install new power lines. As J.P. Morgan’s Michael Cembalest has written: “Grid expansion can be a hornet’s nest of cost, complexity and NIMBYism*, particularly in the US.”  The grid’s frailty, even under today’s demands (i.e., much less than what lies ahead as millions of EVs plug into it) is particularly obvious in California.  However, severe winter weather in 2021 exposed the grid weakness even in energy-rich Texas, which also has a generally welcoming attitude toward infrastructure upgrading and expansion. Yet it’s the Golden State, home to 40 million Americans and the fifth largest economy in the world, if it was its own country (which it occasionally acts like it wants to be), that is leading the charge to EVs and seeking to eliminate internal combustion engines (ICEs) as quickly as possible.  Even now, blackouts and brownouts are becoming increasingly common.  Seemingly convinced it must be a role model for the planet, it’s trying desperately to reduce its emissions, which are less than 1%, of the global total, at the expense of rendering its energy system more similar to a developing country.  In addition to very high electricity costs per kilowatt hour (its mild climate helps offset those), it also has gasoline prices that are 77% above the national average.  *NIMBY stands for Not In My Back Yard. While California has been a magnet for millions seeking a better life for 150 years, the cost of living is turning the tide the other way.  Unreliable and increasingly expensive energy is likely to intensify that trend.  Combined with home prices that are more than double the US median–$800,000!–California is no longer the land of milk and honey, unless, to slightly paraphrase Woody Guthrie about LA, even back in the 1940s, you’ve got a whole lot of scratch.  More and more people, seem to be scratching California off their list of livable venues.  Voters in the reliably blue state of California may become extremely restive, particularly as they look to Asia and see new coal plants being built at a fever pitch.  The data will become clear that as America keeps decarbonizing–as it has done for 30 years mostly due to the displacement of coal by gas in the US electrical system—Asia will continue to go the other way.  (By the way, electricity represents the largest share of CO2 emission at roughly 25%.)  California has always seemed to lead social trends in this country, as it is doing again with its green energy transition.  The objective is noble though, extremely ambitious, especially the timeline.  As it brings its power paradigm to the rest of America, especially its frail grid, it will be interesting to see how voters react in other states as the cost of power leaps higher and its dependability heads lower.  It’s reasonable to speculate we may be on the verge of witnessing the Californication of the US energy system.  Lest you think I’m being hyperbolic, please be aware the IEA (International Energy Agency) has estimated it will cost the planet $5 trillion per year to achieve Net Zero emissions.  This is compared to global GDP of roughly $85 trillion. According to BloombergNEF, the price tag over 30 years, could be as high as $173 trillion.  Frankly, based on the history of gigantic cost overruns on most government-sponsored major infrastructure projects, I’m inclined to take the over—way over—on these estimates. Moreover, energy consulting firm T2 and Associates, has guesstimated electrifying just the US to the extent necessary to eliminate the direct consumption of fuel (i.e., gasoline, natural gas, coal, etc.) would cost between $18 trillion and $29 trillion.  Again, taking into account how these ambitious efforts have played out in the past, I suspect $29 trillion is light.  Regardless, even $18 trillion is a stunner, despite the reality we have all gotten numb to numbers with trillions attached to them.  For perspective, the total, already terrifying, level of US federal debt is $28 trillion. Regardless, as noted last week, the probabilities of the Great Green Energy Transition happening are extremely high.  Relatedly, I believe the likelihood of the Great Greenflation is right up there with them.  As Gavekal’s Didier Darcet wrote in mid-August:  ““Nowadays, and this is a great first in history, governments will commit considerable financial resources they do not have in the extraction of very weakly concentrated energy.” ( i.e., less efficient)  “The bet is very risky, and if it fails, what next?  The modern economy would not withstand expensive energy, or worse, lack of energy.”  While I agree this an historical first, it’s definitely not great (with apologies for all the “greats”).  This is particularly not great for keeping inflation subdued, as well as for attempting to break out of the growth quagmire the Western world has been in for the last two decades.  What we are seeing in Europe right now is an extremely cautionary case study in just how disastrous the war on fossil fuels can be (shortly we will see who or what has been a behind-the-scenes participant in this conflict). Essentially, I believe, as I’ve written in past EVAs, we are entering the third energy crisis of the last 50 years.  If I’m right, it will be characterized by recurring bouts of triple-digit oil prices in the years to come.  Along with Richard Nixon taking the US off the gold standard in 1971, the high inflation of the 1970s was caused by the first two energy crises (the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo and the 1979 Iranian Revolution).  If I’m correct about this being the third, it’s coming at a most inopportune time with the US in hyper-MMT* mode. Frankly, I believe many in the corridors of power would like to see oil trade into the $100s, and natural gas into the teens, as it will help catalyze the shift to renewable energy.  But consumers are likely to have a much different reaction—potentially, a violently different reaction, as I noted last week.  The experience of the Yellow Vest protests in France (referring to the color of the vest protestors wore), are instructive in this regard.  France is a generally left-leaning country.  Despite that, a proposed fuel surtax in November 2018 to fund a renewable energy transition triggered such widespread civil unrest that French president Emmanuel Macron rescinded it the following month. *MMT stands for Modern Monetary Theory.  It holds that a government, like the US, which issues debt in its own currency can spend without concern about budgetary constraints.  If there are not enough buyers of its bonds at acceptable interest rates, that nation’s central bank (the Fed, in our case) simply acquires them with money it creates from its digital printing press.  This is what is happening today in the US.  Many economists consider this highly inflationary. The sharp and politically uncomfortable rise in US gas pump prices this summer caused the Biden administration to plead with OPEC to lift its volume quotas.  The ironic implication of that exhortation was glaringly obvious, as was the inefficiency and pollution consequences of shipping oil thousands of miles across the Atlantic.  (Oil tankers are a significant source of emissions.)  This is as opposed to utilizing domestic oil output, as well as crude from Canada (which is actually generally better suited to the US refining complex).  Beyond the pollution aspect, imported oil obviously worsens America’s massive trade deficit (which would be far more massive without the six million barrels per day of domestic oil volumes that the shale revolution has provided) and costs our nation high-paying jobs. Further, one of my other big fears is that the West is engaging in unilateral energy disarmament.  Russia and China are likely the major beneficiaries of this dangerous scenario.  Per my earlier comment about a stealth combatant in the war on fossil fuels, it may surprise you that a past NATO Secretary General* has accused Russian intelligence of avidly supporting the anti-fracking movements in Western Europe.  Russian TV has railed against fracking for years, even comparing it to pedophilia (certainly, a most bizarre analogy!).  The success of the anti-fracking movement on the Continent has essentially prevented a European version of America’s shale miracles (the UK has the potential to be a major shale gas producer).  Consequently, the European Union’s domestic natural gas production has been in a rapid decline phase for years.  Banning fracking has, of course, made Europe heavily reliant on Russian gas shipments with more than 40% of its supplies coming from Russia. This is in graphic contrast to the shale output boom in the US that has not only made us natural gas self-sufficient but also an export powerhouse of liquified natural gas (LNG).  In 2011, the Nord Stream system of pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from northern Russia began delivering gas west from northern Russia to the German coastal city of Greifswald.  For years, the Russians sought to build a parallel system with the inventive name of Nord Stream 2.  The US government opposed its approval on security grounds but the Biden administration has dropped its opposition.  It now appears Nord Stream 2 will happen, leaving Europe even more exposed to Russian coercion.  Is it possible the Russian government and the Chinese Communist Party have been secretly and aggressively supporting the anti-fossil fuel movements in America?  In my mind, it seems not only possible but probable.  In fact, I believe it is naïve not to come that conclusion.  After all, wouldn’t it be in both of their geopolitical interests to see the US once again caught in a cycle of debilitating inflation, ensnared by the twin traps of MMT and the third energy crisis? *Per former NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasumssen:  Russia has “engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations—environmental organizations working against shale gas—to maintain Europe’s dependence on imported Russian gas”. Along these lines, I was shocked to listen to a recent podcast by the New Yorker magazine on the topic of “intelligent sabotage”.  This segment was an interview between the magazine’s David Remnick and a Swedish professor, Adreas Malm.  Mr. Malm is the author of a new book with the literally explosive title “How To Blow Up A Pipeline”.   Just as it sounds, he advocates detonating pipelines to inhibit fossil fuel distribution.  Mr. Remnick was clearly sympathetic to his guest but he did ask him about the impact on the poor of driving energy prices up drastically which would be the obvious ramification if his sabotage recommendations were widely followed.  Mr. Malm’s reaction was a verbal shrug of the shoulders and words to the effect that this was the price to pay to save the planet. Frankly, I am appalled that the venerable New Yorker would provide a platform for such a radical and unlawful suggestion.  In an era when people are de-platformed for often innocuous comments, it’s incredible to me this was posted and has not been pulled down.  In my mind, this reflects just how tolerant the media is of attacks on the fossil fuel industry, regardless of the deleterious impact on consumers and the global economy. Surely, there is a far better way of coping with the harmful aspects of fossil fuel-based energy than this scorched earth (literally, in the case of Mr. Malm) approach, which includes efforts to block new pipelines, shut existing ones, and severely restrict US energy production.  In America’s case, the result will be forcing us to unnecessarily and increasingly rely on overseas imports.  (For example, per the Wall Street Journal, drilling permits on federal land have crashed to 171 in August from 671 in April.  Further, the contentious $3.5 trillion “infrastructure” plan would raise royalties and fees high enough on US energy producers that it would render them globally uncompetitive.) Such actions would only aggravate what is already a severe energy shock, one that may be worse than the 1970s twin energy crises.  America has it easy compared to Europe, though, given current US policy trends, we might be in their same heavily listing energy boat soon. Solutions include fast-tracking small modular nuclear plants; encouraging the further switch from burning coal to natural gas (a trend that is, unfortunately, going the other way now, as noted above); utilizing and enhancing carbon and methane capture at the point of emission (including improving tail pipe effluent-reduction technology); enhancing pipeline integrity to inhibit methane leaks; among many other mitigation techniques that recognize the reality the global economy will be reliant on fossil fuels for many years, if not decades, to come.  If the climate change movement fails to recognize the essential nature of fossil fuels, it will almost certainly trigger a backlash that will undermine the positive change it is trying to bring about.  This is similar to what it did via its relentless assault on nuclear power which produced a frenzy of coal plant construction in the 1980s and 1990s.  On this point, it’s interesting to see how quickly Europe is re-embracing coal power to alleviate the energy poverty and rationing occurring over there right now - even before winter sets in.  When the choice is between supporting climate change initiatives on one hand and being able to heat your home and provide for your family on the other, is there really any doubt about which option the majority of voters will select? Tyler Durden Tue, 10/26/2021 - 19:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 26th, 2021

The 20 best books of 2021, according to Book of the Month readers

Every year, Book of the Month crowns the best book of the year in November. Here are all the 2021 nominees, based on readers' favorites. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Every year, Book of the Month crowns the best book of the year in November. Here are all the 2021 nominees, based on readers' favorites. Amazon; Bookshop; Alyssa Powell/Insider Book of the Month sends great books from emerging authors directly to subscribers. At the end of each year, readers vote for their favorite books they read through the service. Here are the 20 most loved BOTM selections of 2021. The winner will be announced on November 11. Book of the Month sends new and noteworthy books - often before they become popular - to subscribers each month. In the past, the company has picked hits such as "The Great Alone" by Kristin Hannah, "Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee, and "The Girl With the Louding Voice" by Abi Daré to bring to its readers.Membership (small)At the end of the year, the club's thousands of subscribers vote on the best books they read through the service, making it a more curated version of Goodreads' best books of the year. For example, the 2020 winner was "The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett, which also won the 2020 Goodreads award for Best Historical Fiction.Below, you'll find a reading list of the top 20 books of 2021 according to Book of the Month readers. Book of the Month will announce the best book of 2021 on November 11, awarding the winning author a $10,000 prize. The 20 best books picked by Book of the Month in 2021, according to its readers:Descriptions are provided by Amazon and edited lightly for length and clarity. "Things We Lost To The Water" by Eric Nguyen Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $13.99When Huong arrives in New Orleans with her two young sons, she is jobless, homeless, and worried about her husband, Cong, who remains in Vietnam. As she and her boys begin to settle into life in America, she sends letters and tapes back to Cong, hopeful that they will be reunited and her children will grow up with a father.But with time, Huong realizes she will never see her husband again. While she attempts to come to terms with this loss, her sons, Tuan and Binh, grow up in their absent father's shadow, haunted by a man and a country trapped in their memories and imaginations. As they push forward, the three adapt to life in America in different ways: Huong gets involved with a Vietnamese car salesman who is also new in town; Tuan tries to connect with his heritage by joining a local Vietnamese gang; and Binh, now going by Ben, embraces his adopted homeland and his burgeoning sexuality. Their search for identity — as individuals and as a family — threatens to tear them apart, un­til disaster strikes the city they now call home, and they are suddenly forced to find a new way to come together and honor the ties that bind them. "Imposter Syndrome" by Kathy Wang Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16.59Julia Lerner, a recent university graduate in computer science, is living in Moscow when she's recruited by Russia's largest intelligence agency in 2006. By 2018, she's in Silicon Valley as COO of Tangerine, one of America's most famous technology companies. In between her executive management (make offers to promising startups, crush them and copy their features if they refuse); self-promotion (check out her latest op-ed in the WSJ, on Work/Life Balance 2.0); and work in gender equality (transfer the most annoying females from her team), she funnels intelligence back to the motherland. But now Russia's asking for more, and Julia's getting nervous.Alice Lu is a first-generation Chinese-American whose parents are delighted she's working at Tangerine (such a successful company!). Too bad she's slogging away in the lower echelons, recently dumped, and now sharing her expensive two-bedroom apartment with her cousin Cheri, a perennial "founder's girlfriend." One afternoon, while performing a server check, Alice discovers some unusual activity, and now she's burdened with two powerful but distressing suspicions: Tangerine's privacy settings aren't as rigorous as the company claims they are, and the person abusing this loophole might be Julia Lerner herself. The closer Alice gets to Julia, the more Julia questions her own loyalties. Russia may have placed her in the Valley, but she's the one who built her career; isn't she entitled to protect the lifestyle she's earned? Part page-turning cat-and-mouse chase, part sharp and hilarious satire, "Impostor Syndrome" is a shrewdly-observed examination of women in tech, Silicon Valley hubris, and the rarely fulfilled but ever-attractive promise of the American Dream. "The Lost Apothecary" by Susan Penner Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $13.99Hidden in the depths of 18th-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary's fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious 12-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.Meanwhile, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her 10th wedding anniversary alone in present-day London, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London 200 years ago, her life collides with the apothecary's in a stunning twist of fate — and not everyone will survive. "This Close To Okay" by Leese Cross-Smith Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $15.62On a rainy October night in Kentucky, recently divorced therapist Tallie Clark is on her way home from work when she spots a man precariously standing at the edge of a bridge. Without a second thought, Tallie pulls over and jumps out of the car into the pouring rain. She convinces the man to join her for a cup of coffee, and he eventually agrees to come back to her house, where he finally shares his name: Emmett. Over the course of the emotionally charged weekend that follows, Tallie makes it her mission to provide a safe space for Emmett, though she hesitates to confess that this is also her day job. What she doesn't realize is that Emmett isn't the only one who needs healing — and they both are harboring secrets.Alternating between Tallie and Emmett's perspectives as they inch closer to the truth of what brought Emmett to the bridge's edge — as well as the hard truths Tallie has been grappling with since her marriage ended — "This Close to Okay" is an uplifting, cathartic story about chance encounters, hope found in unlikely moments, and the subtle magic of human connection. "We Are the Brennans" by Tracey Lange Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $19.49When 29-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it's not easy. She deserted them all — and her high school sweetheart — five years before with little explanation, and they've got questions.Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family's pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets — secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes — and ultimately find a way forward together. "The Maidens" by Alex Michaelides Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16.78Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this, Mariana is confident. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike ― particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana's niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?When another body is found, Mariana's obsession with proving Fosca's guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything ― including her own life. "Razorblade Tears" by S.A. Cosby Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $20.10Ike Randolph has been out of jail for 15 years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah's white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.Derek's father, Buddy Lee, was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed of his father's criminal record. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their prejudices about their sons and each other as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys. "Malibu Rising" by Taylor Jenkins Reid Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16.80Malibu: August 1983. It's the day of Nina Riva's annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over — especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud — because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he's been inseparable since birth.Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can't stop thinking about has promised she'll be there.And Kit has a couple of secrets of her own — including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.By midnight the party will be entirely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family's generations will all come rising to the surface. "Four Winds" by Kristin Hannah Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $14.49Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the land's bounty is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman's only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: Marriage to a man she barely knows.By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work, and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa's tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa ― like so many of her neighbors ― must make an agonizing choice: Fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family. "The People We Keep" by Alison Larkin Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $22.99Little River, New York, 1994: April Sawicki is living in a motorless motorhome that her father won in a poker game. Failing out of school, picking up shifts at Margo's diner, she's left fending for herself in a town where she's never quite felt at home. When she "borrows" her neighbor's car to perform at an open mic night, she realizes her life could be much bigger than where she came from. After a fight with her dad, April packs her stuff and leaves for good — setting off on a journey to find her own life.Driving without a chosen destination, she stops to rest in Ithaca. Her only plan is to survive, but as she looks for work, she finds a kindred sense of belonging at Cafe Decadence, the local coffee shop. Still, somehow, it doesn't make sense to her that life could be this easy. The more she falls in love with her friends in Ithaca, the more she can't shake the feeling that she'll hurt them the way she's been hurt.As April moves through the world, meeting people who feel like home, she chronicles her life in the songs she writes and discovers that where she came from doesn't dictate who she has to be. "The Heart Principle" by Helen Hoang Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $13.99When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She's going to embark on a string of one-night stands — the more unacceptable the men, the better.That's where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex — he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand. However, when tragedy strikes Anna's family, she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love — but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves. "Instructions for Dancing" by Nicola Yoon Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $14.40Evie Thomas doesn't believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began… and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance Studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: Adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything — including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he's only just met.Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it's that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk? "Once There Were Wolves" by Charlotte McConaghy Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $20.99Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing 14 gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape but Aggie, too — unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska.Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she's witnessed ― inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet, as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept that her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn't make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the prime suspect? "People We Meet On Vacation" by Emily Henry Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $9.98Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She's a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year, they live far apart — she's in New York City, and he's in their small hometown — but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven't spoken since.Poppy has everything she should want, but she's stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together — lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong? "The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina" by Zoraida Cordove Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $21.49The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty or why their matriarch won't ever leave their home in Four Rivers — even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.Seven years later, her gifts have manifested differently for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly's daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea's line. Determined to save what's left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador — to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back. "Damnation Spring" by Ash Davidson Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $19.81Colleen and Rich Gundersen are raising their young son, Chub, on the rugged California coast. It's 1977, and life in this Pacific Northwest logging town isn't what it used to be. For generations, the community has lived and breathed timber; now, that way of life is threatened. Colleen is an amateur midwife. Rich is a tree-topper. It's a dangerous job that requires him to scale trees hundreds of feet tall — a job that both his father and grandfather died doing. Colleen and Rich want a better life for their son — and they take steps to assure their future. Rich secretly spends their savings on a swath of ancient Redwoods. Colleen, desperate to have a second baby, challenges the logging company's use of herbicides that she believes are responsible for the many miscarriages in the community — including her own. The pair find themselves on opposite sides of a budding conflict that threatens the very thing they are trying to protect: Their family. "The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany" by Lori Nelson Spielman Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $10.95Since the day Filomena Fontana cast a curse upon her sister more than 200 years ago, not one second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love. Some, like second-born Emilia, the happily single baker at her grandfather's Brooklyn deli, claim it's an odd coincidence. Others, like her sexy, desperate-for-love cousin Lucy, insist it's an actual hex. But both are bewildered when their great-aunt calls with an astounding proposition: If they accompany her to her homeland of Italy, Aunt Poppy vows she'll meet the love of her life on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her 80th birthday — and break the Fontana Second-Daughter Curse once and for all.Against the backdrop of wandering Venetian canals, rolling Tuscan fields, and enchanting Amalfi Coast villages, romance blooms, destinies are found, and family secrets are unearthed — secrets that could threaten the family far more than a centuries-old curse. "The Last Thing He Told Me" by Laura Dave Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $12.92Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers — Owen's 16-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. As Hannah's increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen's boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn't who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen's true identity — and why he disappeared.Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen's past, they soon realize they're also building a new future — one neither of them could have anticipated.You can read our interview with author Laura Dave here. "The Office of Historical Corrections" by Danielle Evans Bookshop; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $17.49Danielle Evans is known for her blisteringly smart voice and X-ray insights into complex human relationships. With "The Office of Historical Corrections," Evans zooms in on particular moments and relationships in her characters' lives in a way that allows them to speak to larger issues of race, culture, and history. She introduces us to Black and multiracial characters experiencing the universal confusions of lust and love and getting walloped by grief — all while exploring how history haunts us, personally and collectively. Ultimately, she provokes us to think about the truths of American history — about who gets to tell them and the cost of setting the record straight. "Infinite Country" by Patricia Engel Amazon; Lauren Arzbaecher/Insider Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $14.80I often wonder if we are living the wrong life in the wrong country.Talia is being held at a correctional facility for adolescent girls in the forested mountains of Colombia after committing an impulsive act of violence that may or may not have been warranted. She urgently needs to get out and get back home to Bogotá, where her father and a plane ticket to the United States are waiting for her. If she misses her flight, she might also miss her chance to finally reunite with her family.How this family came to occupy two different countries — two different worlds — comes into focus like twists of a kaleidoscope. We see Talia's parents, Mauro and Elena, fall in love in a market stall as teenagers against a backdrop of civil war and social unrest. We see them leave Bogotá with their firstborn, Karina, in pursuit of safety and opportunity in the United States on a temporary visa, and we see the births of two more children, Nando and Talia, on American soil. We witness the decisions and indecisions that lead to Mauro's deportation and the family's splintering — the costs they've all been living with ever since. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

Nuclear weapons expert says we should be "extraordinarily concerned" about Putin nuking Ukraine

Hans Kristensen, a nuclear expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said he's increasingly concerned that Vladimir Putin could go nuclear. Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on a screen set at Red Square as he addresses a rally and a concert marking the annexation of four regions of Ukraine Russian troops occupy - Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, in central Moscow on September 30, 2022.ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images Nuclear expert Hans Kristensen said he's "extraordinarily concerned" Putin could use nukes in Ukraine. In an interview, Kristensen said he is alarmed by Putin's increasingly threatening rhetoric. Kristensen is director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. In a speech on Friday, an increasingly unhinged Vladimir Putin, facing battlefield setbacks abroad and growing dissent at home, railed against what he portrayed as a hypocritical and gender-mad West — his address included a transphobic rant about sex-change operations and "outright Satanism" — as he announced the formal annexation of occupied eastern Ukraine, territory he said that Russia would defend with "all the means at our disposal."The Russian president is no stranger to colorful attacks on liberalism and, indeed, nuclear threats. Days after he ordered the Feb. 24 invasion, Putin tried to intimidate Ukraine's allies by announcing that he was putting his country's nuclear forces on a heightened state of alert and warning that those who continued supporting Ukrainian armed resistance would face "consequences they have never seen."But that threat was almost subtle compared to those made in the months since. Earlier this week, Putin warned that Russia's potential use of nuclear weapons was "not a bluff."Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's security council and always eager to demonstrate his loyalty to Putin and his "special military operation," echoed the remarks days later, saying that Russia could use nuclear weapons in Ukraine — "without asking anyone's permission, without long consolations" — if it felt "the very existence of our state," now expanded to include the Donbas region, were threatened.NATO would not dare respond, Medvedev added, and risk a broader nuclear conflagration over "a dying Ukraine that no one needs."The rhetoric could be dismissed as simple tough-guy posturing from a country that's current at risk of losing a war of choice. But long-time observers are alarmed, with Russia's long-time reliance on nuclear blackmail to get its way now more explicit than ever. Putin, indeed, on Friday pointed to the United States' dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II as "setting a precedent" for the use of nuclear arms in a conflict.Hans Kristensen is director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists who has been monitoring Russia's nuclear rhetoric. In an interview, he spoke to Insider about signs the US and others are looking for that might point to Putin pulling the trigger on a battlefield nuke — and why his latest speech is cause for alarm. Some questions and answers have been edited for brevity.Q. President Putin gave a speech just today marking the annexation of occupied eastern Ukraine. And in it he reiterated that he would use "all the means at our disposal" to defend Russian territory. Does that, to you, imply nuclear weapons? Did anything he say diverge from what we understand to be Russian nuclear doctrine? Anything alarming?A. Yeah, it confirms, what he said, earlier, last week, where he was more explicit. It's his style, if you will — he likes to rattle this sword and be very dramatic, but of course, the generic term, "all means at our disposal," could also mean many other things. It remains to be seen. I think the key here is that obviously he's trying to create a new condition, in Russian declaratory nuclear policy, where just someone upsetting the integrity of Russian territory somehow, potentially, is a recipient of a nuclear attack. And that goes beyond anything that is in the current declaratory policy. That certainly requires much more significant steps here. Obviously he's trying to create a situation where there's additional coercion — pressure — on Ukraine and the West to stop fighting and seek some kind of negotiated settlement here.Q. As you said, his rhetoric goes beyond Russian doctrine, which is, as I understand it, not so dissimilar to US doctrine: if there's an existential threat to the state, they might resort to nuclear weapons. So when you see Putin going a little bit more inflammatory, do you, as an expert, see that as just playing politics and — despite his protests that he isn't in fact bluffing — playing tough guy? Or do you think that does reflect a change in their doctrine?A. It reflects a change in the way that the president of Russia talks about this; whether it reflects an actual change in Russia's planning for these scenarios is another matter. Frankly, I think the Russian military is probably a little less excited about throwing nuclear weapons around because they know full well what the consequences of doing that will be.I think one could read it to sort of say this is what Putin does. This is his chest-thumping style — he likes to use big words to scare other people. But whether it's reflected in the actual planning they're doing is another matter and I think that'll take some time actually before we see that. But there are a number of steps they would have to take before they could use a tactical nuclear weapon in the Ukraine conflict. It's not like he has a red button on his desk and he could just press that when he feels like it. Q. I'm curious if there was anything that Putin could say that you would interpret as more alarming than just rhetoric? Whether there are kind of code words that, if you saw the introduction of them into Putin's speeches, you would take that as more than just posturing.A. Well, I thought I heard that. One of the lines in his speech was that the United States had already set a precedent for the use of nuclear weapons in war by referring to the use of nuclear weapons against Japan in World War II. I would say that's a new signal where he could begin to sort of argue, "We're not the first doing this, the Americans have already done this kind of stuff." And that could add another level of indicator that he's thinking about this in a new way.Q. Max Seddon, the Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times, was commenting on this speech today and he was just saying, in general, it's the most blistering attack on the West as a whole that he's ever heard from Putin. And he said that, if he were a Western policymaker wondering if Putin would really use nuclear weapons, "I'd be very concerned."Do you share that concern or should we kind of take a step back and not get wrapped up in hysteria over nuclear weapons?A. No, I think we should be extraordinarily concerned. And I think that concern has to translate into very deliberate efforts to convince Putin and the Russian leadership that this would take the conflict to a whole new level. We've heard some statements from US officials, of course, that they've been trying to convey that for a long time and that urgency seems to have been deepened by Putin's latest speeches and his annexation of these territories into Russia.Q. As you probably saw, Dmitry Medvedev was basically saying that "the degenerate west" — they're not gonna want to get in a war of annihilation. That Ukraine doesn't matter, it's a failing state, if we use a tactical nuclear weapon, they're not going to risk the existence of London, Brussels, New York City over poor little Ukraine. How could the West respond to that, without laying all its cards out, to say that, "Well, no, we're not gonna tolerate that."A. Well, Medvedev might be right about that — that the West would not want to use nuclear weapons even if Putin used a nuclear weapon in Ukraine. The point is, the use of a nuclear weapon by Russia and Ukraine is not an attack on NATO. It is not an attack on the United States. Can NATO — can the United States — decide suddenly to attack Russia with nuclear weapons if they have not been attacked first? And that's a real tough issue and I don't think that is a likely outcome.I think the outcome is much more some intensifying of sanctions and diplomatic isolation, political isolation, maybe some cyber attacks, and in the most extreme form, probably some kind of military action. But again here, even that is hard to think about because, again, NATO has not been attacked. The United States has not been attacked. So can you start attacking Russia? That is a real hard dilemma here. So I think Medvedev, to some extent, is correct when he's saying that. Of course, the danger is that suppose Russia really thinks that it can just pop a nuke there — or several — and the West really is sort of armstrung; it can't really act, certainly not at the nuclear level.Q. I'm certainly not chomping at the bit myself to see a war between two nuclear-armed powers. But when you talk about things like sanctions and diplomatic isolation, it's hard not to roll one's eyes and be like, okay, so essentially what you are saying is that, "Yes, they could get away with using a nuclear weapon."A. One wildcard scenario you can imagine, of course, is that if he did do it that NATO would then — or the United States, more likely — would conduct strikes against Russian forces inside Ukraine. And that would be sort of, not quite be an attack on Russia — but of course it would be considered an attack on Russia because they are Russian forces — but it would be sort of at a half step, if you will. You could still say to the Russians, "We're doing this not to threaten Russia, as such, but to tell you that if you continue to do this then the next phase would be a lot more serious."Q. Just to get into the more nitty gritty here, when you used the term "tactical" nuclear weapon earlier, what is the difference between a tactical nuclear weapon and a non-tactical nuke?A. Well, tactical, or non-strategic — these are terms from the Cold War, where tactical to a large extent referred to battlefield weapons, where they were developed for wars involving nuclear weapons in a small region. Those were the type of scenarios that were very much at the center of planning during the Cold War and also because arms control treaties have looked at long-range strategic offensive forces, and never — except for the INF Treaty — looked at sort of medium- or shorter-range systems.Today, tactical nuclear weapons are essentially anything that's not covered by the strategic arms control treaties. It tends to generally just be shorter-range systems, most of which are also dual capable: they serve both conventional and nuclear roles. They tend to be shorter range, have a wider spectrum of explosive yield options, ranging all the way from one kiloton, perhaps even less, but certainly from one kiloton to tens of kilotons even up to 100, 150, 200 kilotons in some tactical systems.A Russian Tu-95 bear bomber and its escort fighter during an event in Russia.Photo by Elizaveta Becker/ullstein bild via Getty ImagesQ. When people talk about nuclear weapons, and the treaties that you're talking about that govern them, we tend to think about something that would trigger an existential war — the destruction of Earth as we know it — whereas these are to gain, to be obvious, a tactical advantage on the battlefield by hitting, say, a bunker that's deep underground. Or perhaps the reason Russia would be thinking about it is just simply the message that it would send, right?A. Yeah, I mean all of those missions could be accomplished with strategic weapons as well. It's more about what kind of attack are you doing. What's the intensity of the attack? And here the Russians, because of their geographic position. They're surrounded by potential adversaries in their near region, right? They have the Brits, they have the French, and of course NATO forces, and then they have the Chinese. So they need, in their military planning, they need sort of regional nuclear forces, to engage those adversaries in those regions.We could really think about them as strategic, because any use of a nuclear weapon would be strategic in nature. The "tactical" just comes in in the sense about the range of it and the intensity of the attack.The United States does not rely on tactical nuclear weapons as much as Russia does and that's partly because the United States doesn't have regions rights next to it where it has to fight nuclear wars. It used to have more tactical nuclear weapons when it had a lot of them deployed in Europe and in South Korea, but most of those were retired and pulled out after the Cold War. It has a few hundred nuclear tactical bombs left for fighter jets, and some of them are in Europe right now, but it's not something it relies heavily on for its nuclear war planning. So the US would choose instead, if it had to respond lightly — so like a small strike in response to something — they would rely more on strategic, for example, most prominently in that scenario, strategic bombers with either gravity bombs or long-range cruise missiles.Q. What would be the thinking behind using a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine? Is it kind of a situation where the worse Russia is doing on the battlefield increases the likelihood that they would use a nuclear weapon to say, "Look, just back off, NATO, stop arming this force that we're considering a proxy army against Russia"? What would be the strategic thinking — getting into the Russian mindset — of potentially using a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine?A. Well, there could be several, or a combination of them. One, for example, could be to try to turn the the tide of the war — to try to knock out some Ukrainian forces or key military facilities that they need to sustain their offensive. That would be a real battlefield use, if you could say that, but that takes more than probably one weapon because you would have to hit a number of areas and a number of facilities to have a real impact on the battle, if you will. And that's also a little complicating because if you start detonating nuclear weapons in the area you potentially get radioactive fallout that you can't control — it could rain over your own troops as well, so it might not be an advantage to do that in the field.Before the Gulf War in 1991, the Pentagon did a study on whether the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Saddam Hussein's forces there in the desert was an option. But they discovered that they would have to use a large number of tactical nuclear weapons to have a real impact — a real effect — on those forces. "Tactical" nuclear use is not as necessarily as limited and benign as some people sometimes think.That's one option, battlefield interest. The other one is of course related, in terms of psychological effect, but it would be more sort of a more clean terror attack where they use it against, for example, Kyiv — or a couple of cities — just to break the Ukrainian will to resist. But that would also be considered a much more significant attack — much more significant use — because of the human casualties involved.That could backfire in another way, politically, by motivating the West go in much more directly, so they really have to be careful about how they think about this. I think the big problem is with people both inside the Russian system, but also in the public in general, if they think about tactical nuclear weapons as something small; something less severe or something almost okay. That's the big danger here — that to treat that as sort of something that is doable.Russian President Vladimir Putin (L), accompanied by Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, oversees the 'Vostok-2022' military exercises at the Sergeevskyi training ground outside the city of Ussuriysk on the Russian Far East on September 6, 2022.MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty ImagesQ. There's been a lot of talk of concern among US officials that Russia could potentially use nuclear weapons, and the US has been at least talking about stepping up its surveillance of Russian forces. What exactly does that mean? What are the US and its allies looking for that would signal a potential use of a tactical nuclear weapon?A. Well, there are several steps that the Russians have to go through that they will be looking for. One has to do with the process of the decision itself. Putin would be involved in a conversation with his military leadership about this and they will have to agree. That's the most common theory about how the command decision will be made. It's not just that Putin has a red button on his desk. There are thought to be three people involved in this: Putin, the minister of defense, and the chief of the armed forces, and each of them has a vote. Presumably, if just one of them doesn't agree, then it can't happen. But it's very iffy if that is indeed the case. We don't quite know the details of this, but even if they make a decision, that decision has to be communicated down through the command and control system to the units that have to carry it out. That traffic is potentially detectable. And then you get to the units that are then activated. So for example, before you can even fire a tactical nuclear weapons system, you have to bring the warhead for it out of central storage. So that would be activity at the bunkers — the special units that are the custodial units and the security units, they would be activated. And then they would have to either transport it by truck or fly by helicopter out to the front line to the units that would actually have to launch it. And there you would have another team that would have to install it.So there are a number of these steps that would have to be sort of set in motion that would give away that something is happening. Whether the US is turning up its surveillance of this? I think it's been pretty busy surveilling this for a long time, actually. Satellite observations, both the visible spectrum of satellites, like normal images we can find on Google Earth, but also infrared and signal detection and then, of course, also intel. You see these spy planes that are flying along the borders all the time. They've been busy. They've been busy for a long, long time. This is a normal level of activity, I would say. And then there's spies on the ground. You have people in the system or maybe even out with some of the units that will relay information.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider1 hr. 28 min. ago

Gen X is late to the leadership table in US politics, prompting the question: Will it ever produce a president?

Boomers have been in charge of the country for most of the past 30 years. Now Gen Xers fret millennials may beat them to the White House. Tyler Le/Insider By historical standards, Gen X should be in charge of the US by now.  Boomers (and the Silent Generation) still hold prime positions of power, including the presidency.  Gen X has yet to secure a majority of seats in Congress and the Supreme Court. Read more from Insider's "Red, White, and Gray" series. Generation X's tardiness on the biggest of political stages explains a good deal about why the United States is mired in gerontocracy.By historical standards, today's middle-agers should be right there, right now, in the most important positions of power — like the presidency.But the best they have to show so far are a handful of consolation prizes: Paul Ryan's tumultuous three-year run as House speaker, four seats on a divisive US Supreme Court, and a spirited debate over whether Barack Obama even is a Gen Xer (he's not, but we'll get to that later).A big part of Gen X's leadership impediment: finding the winning message in a country that for most of the past 30 years has been led by baby boomers. President Joe Biden represents an even earlier cohort — he's a member of the Silent Generation, born less than a year after the country he now leads entered World War II under President Franklin D. Roosevelt."I thought that the country wanted, you know, a generational candidate," Rep. Eric Swalwell, the 41-year old California Democrat who barely made it onto the 2020 presidential-primary debate stage because of low polling numbers, told me earlier this summer."But what I found when I actually talked to people in Iowa, and New Hampshire, and South Carolina, was that the voters, especially with Trump as president, were so risk-averse to a younger candidate that they saw in Biden a seasoned hand, someone who kind of just, could like, restore sanity in governing," Swalwell said. Moving aside any blame toward Donald Trump and Biden, Gen Xers are making some inroads. Should things break their way in November's 2022 midterms, the group born between the start of 1965 and the end of 1980 could finally make up the majority of members in the US House.It's taken way longer than many thought, with nearly a decade of prognostications that this important torch-passing moment in history was just about to happen with each coming election cycle. If Republicans score a majority in 2023, Rep. Kevin McCarthy is also next in line to be the country's second Gen X speaker following Ryan's brief tenure that got consumed in the chaos of the Trump presidency.And should Biden and Trump opt against running again in 2024, the presidential field for both parties is expected to be packed with Gen X governors and members of Congress.They won't be shoo-ins. But Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, as just one example, would be the fourth-youngest president in US history, at age 46, behind Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, and Theodore Roosevelt, were he to run for and win the White House.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, shown here in April 2021 at a press conference for a UFC event in Jacksonville, Florida, would be 46 years old upon his inauguration should he run and win the White House in 2024.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLCAs they make their calculations about seeking the most powerful job on the planet, some Gen Xers are eager to shed their reputation as the "Slacker Generation." They say the US needs a new approach to politics and policy."Look, we've seen a whole series of presidential leaders who were baby boomers, and they had a particular set of policies and a style of governing," said Sen. Ted Cruz, the 51-year old Texas Republican, during a chat this summer while walking through the US Capitol.Echoing a line I heard often from Republicans about the septuagenarian president who was in office when many Gen Xers came of age, Cruz continued, "I do think the country would benefit from leadership that embodies what I described as the children of Reagan, that embodies a commitment to being happy warriors and to appealing to our better angels."But the Gen Xers also know they are late.The oldest members of their group could have first been running for president back in 2000, when the dot-com bubble had yet to burst and September 11 was just a date on the calendar. The boomers George W. Bush and Al Gore had something to say about that, and there's hardly been much of a serious peep from Gen X in the five ensuing presidential races. The nation isn't in the final two years of the Martin O'Malley administration. President Beto O'Rourke isn't about to launch his White House reelection campaign.But "it's inevitable that it's going to happen," Sen. Cory Booker, a 53-year old who made his own ill-fated 2020 presidential bid, told me in a conversation about when he thought a fellow Gen Xer might finally make it to the White House."Unless, of course," the New Jersey Democrat added, with a reference to the 40-year-old transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, "we get a millennial president."Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey ran for president in 2020. He told Insider it's "inevitable" a fellow Gen Xer like him will make it to the White House, but added a millennial could make it their first.Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesBiden made generational history — very lateInsider's "Red, White, and Gray" series explores the costs, benefits, and dangers of life in a democracy helmed by those of advanced age, where issues of profound importance to the nation's youth and future — technology, civil rights, energy, the environment — are largely in the hands of those whose primes have passed.Gen Xers — now roughly 41 to 57 years old — are ripe to be president considering the ages of those who have held the job.Of the 45 people who have served as US president, almost three in four fit smack in that age range upon taking office, including George Washington (57), Abraham Lincoln (52), and John F. Kennedy (43). Of course, no generation can automatically stake a claim to the presidency. But the presidential historian Douglas Brinkley argues it is also uncommon and unhealthy for the country's growth if one age group does get skipped."Each generation deserves to have a president from their ranks," he said. "It shows the maturation of life in America. There's a semblance of one generation passing it on to the next. That's the seamless quality of the United States."A missing generation in the White House is nearly what happened before Biden finally won in 2020 — after unsuccessful bids in 1988 and 2008.By the time he did make it, at age 78, Biden was the oldest president in US history to be sworn into office and the first member of the Silent Generation to get there. His senior citizenry is apparent not just in the ever-present question of whether he'll run for a second term, but also in the number of funerals he's attended as president where he grieves and often eulogizes friends and political contemporaries who helped shape his career.Then-President Barack Obama in May 2009 wearing his famous dad jeans while on the sidelines at his daughter Sasha's soccer game.Mandel Ngan/AFPObama, 'Generation Jones'One important thing we are going to dispense with: Obama doesn't really count as a Gen Xer.We know this is subject to intense debate. And yes, his personal background has some common characteristics with Generation X, like being the mixed-race son of divorced parents who embraced technology to win the presidency. He was also born in 1961, the same year as Douglas Coupland, the author of the book responsible for coining the phrase "Generation X."But have we all seen the future president in those dad jeans?The social commentator Jonathan Pontell said Obama told him back in 2007 that he identified with what's known as "Generation Jones," a micro generation consisting of people born between 1954 and 1965 who don't quite fit as the archetypal boomer or Gen Xer. Think of them as the godparents of the "Xennials" — those born in the late 1970s or early 1980s who aren't fully Gen X or millennial."I remember reading his original autobiography, 'Dreams from My Father,' and thinking this guy is Generation Jones through and through," Pontell, who invented the term, told me in recounting his brief conversation with Obama during a Los Angeles fundraiser emceed by Cedric the Entertainer.Please just don't call me Gen XGenerational boundaries are also anything but an exact science or official. There's plenty of debate and competing visions about when one cohort ends and another begins.Swalwell, for instance, wants nothing to do with Gen Xers even though he was born on November 16, 1980 — six weeks away from what many demographic experts say is the dawn of millennials."I'll humor you with your questions. I want it reflected in the story that I don't accept your premise," he told me in an interview in which he described himself as "a pioneer of the millennials."No matter whether you deny the 61-year-old Obama is a boomer, Gen X is starting to get up there in age.Sen. Tim Scott, as just one example, is the Senate's oldest Gen Xer and someone who's been mentioned as a possible 2024 White House candidate. He'd be the country's 13th-oldest president if he were to win the next election and get sworn in — at age 59 — in January 2025.South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott, shown here in February 2020 with then-President Donald Trump, is the oldest member of Gen X in the Senate. He's been mentioned as a possible future White House candidate.Saul Loeb/ AFP via Getty ImagesWhether Scott or any other Gen Xer gets to make a serious run in 2024 will depend largely on the decisions of a late-vintage Silent and early-blooming boomer. Both Biden and Trump are sending strong signals they intend to run for their respective parties' nominations and force a 2020 rematch. And even if they forgo runs, Gen Xers will be competing with boomers such as Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and Vice President Kamala Harris — and perhaps millennials such as Buttigieg and even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.It's a crowded-enough field that some political operatives say Gen Xers should brace for an even longer wait to take their most serious shot winning the White House. "I think the '28 cycle would be very much more likely," one longtime Gen X GOP aide from Trumpworld predicted, noting the challenge long-shot candidates will face in finding donors willing to shift horses at this early stage of the 2024 race. "That's where the window opens up."In 2016, Gen X Sens. Marco Rubio (left) and Ted Cruz (right) challenged Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination.Michael Ciaglo-Pool/Getty ImagesWhat's the US missing without a Gen X president?Several of the US's closest allies — the United Kingdom, France, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden — are led by Gen Xers.Gen Xers in politics and people who study the issue told me the US was missing out on plenty by not following suit in electing a president and other government leaders who were born in the mid- to late 1960s and through the 1970s. Generally speaking, Gen Xers bring a sense of individualism and pragmatism to politics that comes with growing up in an era when divorce rates spiked and parents seemed to care less about maintaining more traditional families, as evidenced by the popular culture hits from their childhood such as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Home Alone." As adults, many of the older members of Gen X carry an independent, bordering-on-libertarian streak that's distrustful of politics and institutions — some of the same traits that Trump relied on to win the White House in 2016."When you think about what populism draws upon, if there was ever a generation that thought of itself as 'the deplorables,' it's the 'We're not worthy!' generation," said Neil Howe, a demographics expert who helped come up with the term "millennial."Gen Xers also came of age during a time that straddled extraordinary changes in geopolitics, including the end of the Cold War and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Most also made it through the bulk of their schooling without worrying about their high-school pictures spreading via Facebook or Instagram, their online experiences formed largely on now-archaic platforms such as AOL, Hotmail, and Ask Jeeves."It's the one generation that has sort of had formative experiences in both the Old World and the new one," said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Gen Xer who first won a seat in the Florida House in 2000 at age 28 and, by age 34, became speaker of the state chamber. Spencer Cox, the 47-year-old first-term Republican governor of Utah, told me in a recent interview that he hoped the next president would come from Gen X.Utah Gov. Spencer Xox, shown here in May 2021 with his wife, Abby, greeting First Lady Jill Biden. He told Insider he hopes the next president comes from Gen X.Carlos Barria/pool/AFP"I'm biased because I am one, but I do believe that that's really what the nation is searching for but hasn't been able to find yet," he said. Asked what Americans would get should they elect one of his peers, Cox mentioned the World Wide Web."I think what we're missing out is someone who kind of has a leg in both the pre-internet era, and the post-internet era," he said. "I think there's value in understanding what it was like before knowing how to use it, what it's like after, and how to bridge those gaps and in healthy ways."Thanks to their boomer parents' low birth rates, Gen Xers have always been a smaller group than boomers or millennials."Which I always think is interesting," Booker said. "It's like we're this relatively tiny group of public servants."But that will soon change as boomers — the oldest are pushing 80 — die. Gen Xers are finally projected to outnumber their parents' generation by 2028, according to Pew. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (right) was the only Gen Xer on the stage competing against Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary debatesJoe Raedle/Getty ImagesDunking on Ted Cruz, even if he's a Gen XerGore set the standard for youthful presidential campaigns. In 1988, he ran for the Democratic nomination at 39 years old. Had he won, he'd have been the youngest president in US history. That didn't happen, though Gore four years later did win the vice presidency as part of the first all-boomer ticket with Bill Clinton. He also nearly won the White House in 2000 against Bush.But in subsequent presidential races, Gen Xers failed to follow Gore's youthful path to the campaign trail. Not in 2000, and not in 2004. Even the 2008 presidential election was bereft of Gen Xers: Yes, the eventual Republican nominee John McCain's comparatively youthful running mate, Sarah Palin, falls within the boomer bracket.And while Ryan did make history in 2012 as the first Gen Xer on a major-party ticket, that happened only when the GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney opted for a fresh face that would contrast with then-Vice President Biden.Paul Ryan, shown here with 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, made history that election cycle as the first Gen X vice presidential nominee. In 2015, Ryan became the first Gen X speaker of the House.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesNot until the 2016 and 2020 campaigns did the presidential field take on the veneer of a race driven by Generation X.But even then, candidates such as O'Malley, O'Rourke, Booker, Rubio, and Cruz were competing on debate stages packed with boomers and Silents — Trump, Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.For one reason or another, all the Gen Xers flamed out."For me, this is about who the people are," Warren, the 73-year-old Massachusetts Democrat who also came up short against Biden in 2020, said in an interview while speed-walking through the underground Senate tunnels. "I'm not a big fan of Ted Cruz just because he's 30 years younger than somebody else. He's still Ted Cruz."Gen Xers on boomers: Necessary, or necessary evil?Gen Xers aren't just behind in winning the White House. It's a similar phenomenon in other parts of government, too.Entering the 2022 midterm elections, only 14 of 50 governor slots are in the hands of Gen Xers. And while the four most recent Supreme Court appointees are children of the mid-'60s and '70s, they still remain a seat shy of being their own majority bloc. On Capitol Hill, Gen Xers' numbers have been slowly building but are still nowhere near the size of their elders. The 435-member US House opened the current session with 144 Gen Xers compared with 230 boomers and 27 Silent Generation members (the numbers have since changed slightly because of six deaths since January 2021, as well as nine resignations).The breakdown is much starker in the US Senate, which opened the current session with 11 members of the Silent Generation and 68 boomers, compared with just 20 Gen Xers.While those numbers are in flux even now as senators retire or resign from office early, historical trends suggest the Senate won't reach a plurality of Gen Xers until somewhere in the 2030s, if not later. By then, millennials will be entering their political primes, with Gen Zers not far behind."Yeah, I won't be here at that point," said GOP Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, an early-era Gen Xer at 54.Many Gen Xers insist that it's a-OK to still have so many Silent Generation and boomer senators hanging around, even if it means they need to wait for their own opportunities.Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, became the first Gen X senator in January 2009.Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images"I respect a lot of the people in our leadership. I've learned a lot from them. And I think they continue to make a huge difference," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who in 2009 became the nation's first Gen X senator.Donna Brazile, the longtime party operative who served as Gore's 2000 presidential campaign manager, said she'd recently been trying to think up ways to get Generation X politicians to step up "without asking anyone to step aside.""Remember, there is no such thing as entitlement in politics or public service. You have to get in the game and follow a path or wait for a lucky break," she said in an email. "There's too much at stake and much more to be done. What are they waiting for?"When we talked again a few days later, Brazile, who in 2016 chaired the Democratic National Committee, quickly rattled off the names of several Gen X leaders who did currently hold office in Congress, as governors and in state and local government.Anyone from Gen X who wants to contribute at the top, she said, needs to get off their duffs and stop fretting so much about the boomers and any others who will step aside when they're darn good and ready."No generation can replace another generation," she said. "I can't replace my parents' generation. But I can be an extension of the vision they had for my generation and future generations."With America in a gerontocracy, she acknowledged "there's a vacuum" for future leaders that shouldn't prevent them from getting involved now."It's like seeing a ghost that doesn't appear," she said of any expectation the presidency would just suddenly open up for Gen X. "There's nothing stopping them from leading."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 28th, 2022

"Global Gloom": World Markets Plunge To Start The Week As Global Currency Crash Hits Max Pain And Beyond

"Global Gloom": World Markets Plunge To Start The Week As Global Currency Crash Hits Max Pain And Beyond The rout which hammered stocks on Friday, nearly pushing them to close at a new 2022 low, resumed overnight when the global FX crisis returned with a bang, and a flash crash in the British pound which as noted late last night, plummeted 500pips in thin trading, to fresh record lows following Friday's shocking mini-budget announcement which confirmed the UK has no idea what it is doing and will cut rates and issue more debt just as the BOE is desperately trying to tighten financial conditions. The plunge in cable was however just one symptom of a bigger malaise, namely the relentless surge in the dollar which overnight hit fresh record highs as the BBDXY rose as high as 1,355 before briefly fading the surge... ... as every dollar-denominated debt issuer in the world is suffering crippling pain and begging Powell to do something to ease the unprecedented shock of the strongest dollar in history just as the world slumps into a global depression. Alas, so far there is nothing but silence from the Fed - which will likely have to make some announcement on central bank currency swaps at some point before the open today to avoid an even more epic FX rout - and as traders await something to break big time across global markets... This is the week of the barbell trade: deep OTM calls and puts as things either break or CBs panic. — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 26, 2022 ... this morning futures have tumbled another 0.7%, as eminis drop to 3,683 while Nasdaq futures are down 0.8% to 11,290 on fears that Federal Reserve rate hikes to combat persistently elevated inflation will crush the economy into a full-blown recession, or depression, and the VIX soared above 32. It wasn't just FX and stocks crashing: British bonds also cratered as yields surged to the highest in more than a decade, sparking talk of emergency action by the Bank of England. For one example of the total chaos look no further than 5Y UK Gilts which have exploded 51bps higher and last traded around 4.58% as the market now prices in Similar implosions were observed in US TSYs, where the 10Y traded just shy of Friday's mini blowout, and was last seen at 3.7828% as bond traders are hit by VaR shocks at the same time in every possible market. Turning back to stocks, the rout wasn't isolated to just one market and an index of global stocks traded to the lowest since 2020. European equities extended declines after sliding into a bear market on Friday, with mining and energy stocks underperforming as metals and oil fell. “We’re in a period of global gloom, with pessimism blanketing different countries for different reasons,” said Ed Yardeni, president of his eponymous research firm, who warned of growing storm clouds for the US economy. “The latest data jibe with our growth recession scenario, but the risks of a full-blown recession are obviously increasing,” he wrote in a note Monday. In premarket trading, major US tech and internet stocks including Apple, Amazon and Microsoft tumbled. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Farfetch (FTCH US) shares fall as much as 4.43% in US premarket trading, after Citi begins coverage of the luxury online retailer with a sell rating, with broker flagging “weak” underlying profitability. Shares of US-listed Macau casinos jump in premarket trading, after Macau government said tour groups from mainland China could resume as early as November. Wynn Resorts (WYNN US) jumps 5.4%; Las Vegas Sands (LVS US) +6.9%, Melco (MLCO US) +9.6% and MGM resorts (MGM US) +1.6% Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks edged higher in premarket trading on Monday as Bitcoin rose above $19,000. Marathon Digital (MARA US) +1.9%, Coinbase (COIN US) +0.4% Keep an eye on Diana Shipping (DSX US) and Safe Bulkers (SB US) as Jefferies downgraded them to hold from buy and lowered dry bulk estimates to reflect the decline in dry bulk charter rates. European shares extended their fall to Dec. 2020 lows; sliding 1% and extending losses as investors priced a major economic shock and recession. The Stoxx 600 Index was down 1% by 10:50am in London, touching its lowest since December 2020, with real estate and banks among the worst performing sectors, while technology shares outperformed. Italy’s FTSE MIB bucked broader European declines to trade little changed, after Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s election, in line with expectations. Banks and real estate stocks were the worst-performing sectors in Europe on Monday, with declines led by UK stocks as the pound and UK bonds slump. The Stoxx 600 Banks Index and the Stoxx 600 Real Estate are both down at least 2.5% while the benchmark gauge is 1.1% lower. The bank index decline is led by UK names including Virgin Money (-10%), Lloyds (-4.6%) and NatWest (-4.5%). Virgin Money was today resumed with a hold rating at Berenberg; broker said that the lender is expected to see revenue declines and a sector- lagging return on tangible equity which will affect ability to re-rate. Among real estate stocks, the UK’s Safestore Holdings (-4.2%), Assura (-3.9%) and Derwent London (-3.8%) are among the worst performers; non-index member housebuilders, including Persimmon, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey, are also plunging as the pound’s slump prompts talk of emergency action by the Bank of England. Here are the most notable movers today: The Stoxx 600 Tech Index rises as much as 2.4%, set for its biggest one-day outperformance against the broader Stoxx 600 since early-August, with semiconductor stocks leading gains. Among chip stocks, ASML rose as much as +3.7% after Santander upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform Italy’s FTSE MIB index gains, bucking weaker markets in Europe, after Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s election. While the outcome was in line with expectations, the fact that the coalition didn’t obtain a super majority needed to change the constitution reassures investors. Telecom Italia rose as much +7.4%, FinecoBank +5.1%, Moncler +4.4% Unilever shares rise as much as 3.7% after it announced that CEO Alan Jope will retire from the company at the end of 2023, in a move that Jefferies analyst Martin Deboo (buy) sees as a positive development. RPS Group shares rise as much as 13% after Tetra Tech’s agreed deal to buy the company at 222p/share in cash, representing a 7.8% premium to an offer WSP made in August. Liberum does not rule out a counterbid. Belimo shares rise as much as 8.5% since the market isn’t fully pricing in its growth outlook, Berenberg says in a note, moving to buy and establishing a Street-high CHF440 target. The stock gains as much as 8.1%, the most since March 2021. Zalando shares rise as much as 4.8% after Citi analyst says they like the long-term investment story, short-term earnings risks are still high. UK Domestics: the most remarkable reaction to Friday’s not-so-mini budget, however, might be in lenders’ shares. The decline in banking stocks reflects investors’ pessimistic view on Britain’s economy. HSBC fell as much as 2.9%; Lloyds -4.3%, NatWest -4.7% and Barclays -3.0%. Virgin Money UK shares drop as much as 10% after Berenberg resumed a hold rating in note, stating that in many ways the UK small banks are “more different than they are alike.” Utilities are the day’s worst-performing European sector. Citi analyst Piotr Dzieciolowski says the EU’s funding for its policy response has so far been insufficient and also expects uncertainty to persist for UK names. United Utilities fell as much as -3.4%, Drax -3.8% Geopolitical risks from the war in Ukraine to escalating tensions over Taiwan and unrest in Iran also weighed on sentiment. Meanwhile, the OECD cut almost all growth forecasts for the Group of 20 next year while anticipating further interest-rate hikes, and a gauge of German business confidence deteriorated. Earlier in the session, a rout in Asian stocks extended into Monday as rising concerns about a global recession and weak demand hit the region’s exporters and materials producers. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined as much as 2.3% to the lowest since April 2020, dragged lower by TSMC, BHP and Toyota Motor. All but one sector traded lower with materials leading the slump.  South Korean stocks fell the most in the region, with the benchmark tumbling 3% to more than a two-year low. The Korean market’s heavy tech exposure has proven costly amid rising rates and a stronger dollar, with fears that a looming recession may wreak havoc on global demand. Gauges in Hong Kong and China reversed earlier gains as the region’s selloff intensified.   Korea Assets Are Asia’s Biggest Losers on Global Recession Angst “Investor sentiment is again at the stage of extreme fear,” said Lee Kyoung-Min, an analyst at Daishin Investment. “It is becoming solid and clear that Kospi and other global stock markets are on a mid-to-long term downward trend.” Asian stock benchmarks are being buffeted by global headwinds as well as risks of their own. The Federal Reserve’s relentless rate hike campaign is pushing Asian currencies lower and raising the risk of capital outflows, while China’s adherence to Covid Zero is hurting growth in the region’s economic giant.  If Monday’s losses are extended through the week, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index will see its longest run of declines since 2015. Japan stocks declined more than 2% as the nation resumed trading after a holiday on Friday. The Philippine stock market was closed Monday as Super Typhoon Noru barreled into the main Luzon island.  Among the key issues investors are watching this week are speeches by central bank officials in US and Europe, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday. Japanese equities tumbled as the market reopened following a three-day weekend, tracking US peers lower after the Fed’s hawkish comments last week deepened fears of a global downturn. The Topix fell 2.7% to close at 1,864.28, while the Nikkei declined 2.7% to 26,431.55. Toyota Motor contributed the most to the Topix decline, decreasing 3.2% after its monthly production update lagged expectations. Out of 2,169 stocks in the index, 145 rose and 1,985 fell, while 39 were unchanged. “There is a possibility that inflation will not subside and interest rates will rise further, which the markets will not like,” said Shoji Hirakawa, a chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.6% to close at 6,469.40, as energy and mining shares plummeted. An energy gauge including oil and coal linked securities declined by the most since March 2020.  The New Zealand market was closed for a holiday In India, key stocks gauges plunged to their lowest closing levels in almost two months as the global equity rout continues. The S&P BSE Sensex dropped 1.6% to 57,145.22 in Mumbai to its lowest since July 28. The NSE Nifty 50 Index fell 1.8%, its biggest single-day plunge since Sept. 16. Both the indexes, down in four of the past five weeks, have lost almost 6% since this month’s peak. Volatility in domestic equities is likely to remain elevated this week, pending monthly derivatives expiry on Thursday. Of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 24 fell and 6 advanced. All but one of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by utilities and power companies.  The Indian rupee weakened to a new record against the dollar amid surging US Treasury yields. The Reserve Bank of India’s rate-setting panel will announce monetary policy later this week. As noted above, while stocks are ugly, rates are a horrorshow as Treasuries extended their worst bond slide in decades as a dollar gauge rose to yet another record. Treasuries extended losses in a bear flattening move with yields cheaper by up to 10bp across the belly of the curve. US 10-year yields around 3.78%, cheaper by 6bp on the day with 5s30s spread flatter by 5bp, dropping as low as -45.4bp in European session; UK yields cheaper by 60bp to 25bp from front- end out to long-end of the curve. The Move comes as market participants brace for accelerated policy tightening from global central banks and headlines such as this: *TRADERS PRICE IN UP TO 200BPS OF BOE RATE HIKES BY NOVEMBER Yields on 2-year gilts are 60bp cheaper heading into early US session, while the pound recovers slightly after reaching a fresh all-time low. US session focus on 2-year auction, while a barrage of Fed speakers are expected for the week. Peripheral spreads widen to Germany with 10y BTP/Bund widening 7bps to 238bps. FX, of course, is a disaster, with the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rising a fifth consecutive day as the greenback advanced versus most of its Group-of-10 peers. The pound plunged almost 5% to $1.0350 in Asian trading, the lowest recorded in Bloomberg data going back to 1971, while gilts crashed after the UK government vowed to press ahead with more tax cuts, stoking fears that new fiscal policies will send inflation and debt soaring, triggering emergency rate hikes. The options market signals no respite even as the pound rebounded from a record low hit during the Asia session. The yield on two- year bonds surged more than 55 basis points to 4.51%, while the 10-year yield rose 37 basis points to 4.19%. Money markets price in more than 150 basis points of rate increases by the BoE’s next policy meeting in November The euro steadied after earlier dropping to $0.9554; European bond yields rose; Italian bonds underperformed German peers. Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s Italian election, setting herself up to become the country’s first female prime minister at the head of the most right-wing government since World War II. Germany’s IFO business expectations slid to 75.2 in September from 80.3 in August. That’s the lowest since April 2020. Analysts had predicted a drop to 79. An index of current conditions also fell. The Australian and New Zealand dollars pared some losses after earlier touching fresh 2-year lows. Aussie bond yields rose by up to 13bps, led by the front end The yen weakened amid a broadly stronger dollar. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the government’s intervention in the foreign exchange market last week was appropriate given the recent volatility in the yen The currency’s rally is “untenable” for risk assets, according to a note by Morgan Stanley strategists led by Michael Wilson, while Sian Fenner, senior Asia economist for Oxford Economics, said that “It’s a king US dollar...“It’s adding to inflationary pressures and more central banks raising rates more than we have historically seen.” In commodities, WTI slides almost 1% to trade near $78/bbl. Spot gold mostly unchanged near $1,643/oz. Bitcoin climbs above $19,000. Trading this week will be punctuated by a number of economic reports including US initial jobless claims and gross-domestic-product data, along with PMI figures from China. Choppiness in price moves is likely with a steady stream of Federal Reserve officials speaking through the week. Looking at today's calendar, we get the September Dallas Fed manufacturing activity index, and the August Chicago Fed national activity index. Central bank speakers include the Fed's Bostic, Collins, Logan and Mester; ECB's Lagarde also speaks as does Nagel, Guindos, Centeno and Panetta speak, BoE's Tenreyro speaks. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 3,706.25 MXAP down 2.0% to 142.24 MXAPJ down 1.4% to 463.08 Nikkei down 2.7% to 26,431.55 Topix down 2.7% to 1,864.28 Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 17,855.14 Shanghai Composite down 1.2% to 3,051.23 Sensex down 1.2% to 57,378.30 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.6% to 6,469.41 Kospi down 3.0% to 2,220.94 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 389.70 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.08% Euro little changed at $0.9683 Brent Futures down 0.7% to $85.59/bbl Brent Futures down 0.7% to $85.59/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,645.98 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 113.22 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng must do more to reassure the markets about his plans for the economy after a selloff sent the pound crashing to an all-time low against the dollar, said Gerard Lyons, an external adviser to Prime Minister Liz Truss The UK’s foreign currency holdings are a fraction of the huge stockpiles built up by some of its peers, making unilateral intervention in the market to prop up the plunging pound a tall order for UK policymakers. The UK had $108 billion in foreign currency reserves at the end of August, according to data from the IMF Hedge funds ramped up bullish bets on the pound just days before the UK government’s unexpectedly large tax cuts sent the currency tumbling The ECB’s newest policy maker, Boris Vujcic, says “it’s clear that this is the right way to go,” backing this month’s 75-basis point interest-rate hike ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said the biggest problem facing the continent’s economy is record inflation, which is becoming more broad-based, threatening investment and consumer spending ECB Governing Council member Yannis Stournaras says the central bank must maintain the main principles of gradualism and flexibility, since the problem it faces is different from the one that the US Fed faces China made it more expensive to bet against the yuan in the derivatives market, ramping up support for the currency as it slides toward the weakest level since the 2008 financial crisis A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly negative in a resumption of last week's global stock rout amid the continued surge in the dollar and higher yields, while there was also FX volatility which saw a flash crash in GBP/USD to a record low. ASX 200 was dragged lower amid losses in the commodity-related sectors and with sentiment dampened by the collapse of potential M&A deals involving Ramsay Health-KKR and Link Administration-Dye & Durham. Nikkei 225 underperformed with Mazda Motors among the worst hit as it considers exiting Russian operations. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp retraced most of their initial losses with Hong Kong underpinned following the scrapping of hotel quarantine policy and with casinos boosted as Macau is to resume tour groups from China, while the property industry benefits after China Construction Bank formed a CNY 30bln housing rental fund and some Twitter sources also circulated that some China state banks were reportedly ordered to buy stocks to contain selling. Top Asian News PBoC injected CNY 42bln via 7-day reverse repos with the rate kept at 2.00% and CNY 93bln via 14-day reverse repos with the rate kept at 2.15% for a net CNY 133bln injection. There were rumours circulating on social media of a coup against Chinese President Xi, although experts and journalists in Beijing dismissed the rumours and said there was no evidence to support them, according to The Print. Philippines Stock Exchange announced a trading suspension for Monday amid a typhoon in the capital, according to Reuters. European bourses are softer after a mixed cash open and despite a brief foray higher, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.5%, as sentiment remains subdued amid recession/inflation concerns. The breakdown features modest outperformance in the FTSE MIB as Italian election results are in-line with expectations. Stateside, futures are lower across the board in-fitting with peers going into a week of Fed speak and inflation data. Top European News UK PM Truss said she is determined to make the special relationship with the US even more special and said she agreed with US President Biden that it is vital to protect the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement, while she wants to find a way forward with a negotiated solution with the EU, according to Reuters and a CNN interview. UK PM Truss is to review visa schemes in an attempt to ease UK labour shortages, according to FT. UK Chancellor Kwarteng hinted that more tax cuts are on the way and claimed his tax cuts “favour people right across the income scale” amid accusations they mainly help the rich, according to Evening Standard. UK Chancellor Kwarteng said he is focused on growing the economy and the longer term when asked about the market reaction to his statement on Friday. Kwarteng added that he shares ideas with BoE Governor Bailey but added that Bailey is completely independent and Kwarteng is confident the BoE is dealing with inflation, according to Reuters. UK opposition Labour Party leader Starmer said they would reintroduce the top rate of income tax at 45% which the government announced to scrap last week, while he added that they will support the government plan to lower the basic rate of income tax to 19%, according to Reuters. Italy's right-wing bloc is seen winning the national election with 43.3% and centre-left bloc is seen winning 25.4%, according to the first projection by LA7 TV based on the actual vote count.. Click here for newsquawk snap analysis. Italy's Meloni said Italians gave clear backing to a centre-right government led by the Brothers of Italy and said the situation is difficult and needs contribution from everyone. It was separately reported that Italy's Democratic Party conceded in the election and said it will be the main opposition force, while Italy's Meloni claimed leadership of the next Italian government, according to Reuters and AFP. FX DXY climbed to a fresh YTD high of 114.58 before paring modestly, but remaining firmer, as GBP in particular lifts off worst levels. Cable succumbed to a flash crash overnight, with GBP/USD hitting an all-time-low around 1.0350 as participants confidence in the economy slips. EUR suffers amid the mentioned USD move but derives relative benefit from GBP, while ECB speakers thus far have added little. Antipodeans and CAD weighed on by broader risk and commodity pressure. Japanese Finance Minister Suzuki said the government and BoJ share views on concerns about a weak JPY, while he added that FX intervention had a certain effect and there is no change to the stance that they will respond to market moves as needed, according to Reuters. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.0298 vs exp. 7.0019 (prev. 6.9920) PBoC imposed a 20% risk reserve requirement for FX forward sales from September 28th to rein in yuan weakness. Fixed Income Gilts have retained some composure after slumping over 200ticks at the commencement of trade and have settled around halfway between intraday extremes. EGBs downbeat in sympathy while BTPs marginally lag core-EGB peers as Italian as-expected election results are digested with BTP-Bund only modestly wider as such. Stateside, USTs are pressured in-fitting with peers and also conscious of the week's supply docket getting underway via a 43bln 2yr. Central Banks Fed’s Bostic (2024 voter) said inflation is too high and that they need to do all they can to bring it down and said demand is beginning to shrink which will ultimately pay dividends in inflation levels. Bostic also stated that there are scenarios where they can avoid deep pain but there will likely be some job losses, according to Reuters. BoJ's Kuroda says the BoJ will maintain accommodative monetary conditions to support companies, hopes to support a positive economic cycle, long-term inflation expectations have begun to heighten, via Reuters. Intervention from the MoF is an "appropriate" move, does not think gov't intervention and BoJ policy are contradictory. Amamiya says the domestic economy is picking up, must carefully watch how FX moves affect the economy and prices. BoJ Governor Kuroda says when he stated that BoJ forward guidance will not change for 2-3yrs, did not refer to guidance on keeping short and long-term rates at present of lower levels via Reuters. ECB's de Guindos says Q3 and Q4 point towards growth rates being close to zero within the EZ, the scenario is market by high uncertainty, lower growth and higher inflation. ECB's Panetta says ECB is assessing the potential of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and "the extent to which it could improve our services.". Capital Economics calls for the BoE to "get on the front foot with a big rate hike". Allianz's El-Erian says, on GBP, the fall is about extra tax cuts and Chancellor Kwarteng could recalibrate this. Alternative, would be for the BoE to hike at an emergency meeting. Adding, he would hike by 100bp. BoE publishes key elements of the 2022 annual cyclical scenario stress test; includes a scenario where the Bank Rate is assumed to rise rapidly to a peak of 6% in early 2023 before gradually reduced to sub-3.5%. Commodities WTI and Brent November futures remain subdued in early European trade following last week’s recession-induced losses. Spot gold trades in tandem with the Buck and sees resistance at around USD 1,650/oz after falling to USD 1,627/oz as a casualty of the Sterling flash crash overnight. LME metals are softer across the board with 3M copper futures having a hard time reclaiming USD +7,500/t status with upside capped by the Buck. Iraq began trial operations at the Karabala oil refinery which has a production capacity of 140k bpd, according to a statement from the Oil Ministry. German Chancellor Scholz signed a strategic agreement with UAE’s President on accelerating energy security and industrial growth, while UAE’s ADNOC signed an agreement with Germany’s RWE which includes ADNOC exporting its first LNG cargo to RWE and will conduct trial shipments of low-carbon ammonia to Germany. Furthermore, Chancellor Scholz said while visiting Doha that he talked with the Emir about LNG deliveries and that they want to achieve further progress, according to Reuters. Germany is preparing a national electricity price cap to be implemented this fall in the scenario the EU falls to agree on a similar move for the entirety of the bloc, via WSJ citing officials. Vitol's CEO said at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference that Russian gas supply cuts put enormous strain on supply-demand in Europe and that high gas prices are to impact 60%-80% of demand, while Ecopetrol's CEO said they are increasing crude exports to Europe this year to replace Russian supplies and are drilling 600 oil wells this year. Anglo American (AAL LN) tightens copper production guidance for Chile to 560k-580k tonnes of copper (prev. 560k-600k tonnes) due to lower throughput at Los Bronces caused by a combination of water restrictions and a change in ore characteristics, via Reuters. US Event Calendar 08:30: Aug. Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.23, prior 0.27 10:30: Sept. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. -10.0, prior -12.9 Central Banks 10:00: Boston Fed’s Susan Collins Speaks to Boston Chamber of... 12:00: Fed’s Bostic Discusses Income Inequality 12:30: Fed’s Logan Speaks at Banking Conference 16:00: Fed’s Mester Discusses Economic Outlook DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I wonder whether any research report has ever been written whilst watching synchronised swimming? Well if not, then you’re reading the first ever as I’m getting a head start on the early morning news by starting this on Sunday evening watching my daughter Maisie do her second session after getting into the local club. Watching this sport is going to take some getting used to after years of watching football, cricket, golf, F1, athletics, rugby... actually.... virtually every sport bar synchronised swimming. I think everyone felt they were swimming in a tsunami of newsflow last week after one of the most incredible macro weeks in recent memory in terms of breadth of events. Yes there have been more extreme weeks in crises but last week had a bit more variety and was outside of a crisis period. If over 500bps of global rate hikes wasn’t enough, you also had 2yr US yields moving higher for the 12th successive day on Friday (the longest steak since data begins in 1976), the BoJ intervening in FX markets for the first time since 1998, and what can only be termed as one of the darker days for sterling assets on record on Friday after a mammoth tax giveaway in what was a mini-budget in name and not by nature. Henry and I put a note out on Friday night (link here) showing that it was the third worst day for Sterling (-3.57%) since Black Wednesday in 1992, with the worst two since being the day after the Brexit vote (-8.1%) and after the initial covid shock in 2020 (-3.71%) when there was a global flight to dollars. We also show a graph of daily Sterling moves back to 1862 and on that it was the 41st worst day in history spanning 47,000 trading days. Obviously in the long era of fixed FX rates there were the occasional big devaluations which were much bigger than Friday. This morning is Asia it fell around -4.5% at one point (1.0392) which was a record low against the Dollar. It's around -2.78% as I type. This follows a weekend interview where Chancellor Kwarteng suggested that more tax cuts were to come so that certainly was a red rag to markets. Will we hear from the upper echelons of the BoE today? Watch out for any comments, especially at the market open. DB's George Saravelos suggested on Friday that the Bank of England need to do an inter meeting hike to restore policy credibility. There’s also a graph in our note mentioned above showing that Friday was the worst day for 5yr gilts (+50.3bps) since a +200bps hike in 1985 when sterling was also slumping. So maybe omens here. I suppose the only slight mystery is the timing of the sell-off as the mini-budget in magnitude was broadly in-line with the recent elevated fiscal expectations that had been building. However perhaps it was the unabashed revival of trickle-down economics that had markets a little aghast. It goes against the current economic orthodoxy and the overall zeitgeist of our immediate times. As such there is likely to be concerns of a credibility issue. We are publishing our long-term study today with the title “How we got here, and where we’re going?”. In it we try to put the current macro woes into historical context in an attempt to work out where we’re going. There are quite a few people who have proof-read it on my team and they were all thoroughly depressed at the end. I didn't feel that way writing it but maybe it's a case of starting point perceptions. Anyway, look out for it around the European lunchtime. Overnight in Italy, the right-wing alliance led by Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party was on course to become the nation’s first woman prime minister after exit polls gave it a clear majority. With the full results due later today, she is predicted to win up to 26% of the vote ahead of her closest rival Enrico Letta from the centre left. The right wing alliance is slated to be on course for around 43% of the vote, enough for a majority if correct. As I type, the euro is extending its losses against the dollar for the fifth day, its longest streak since April 28, falling as much as -0.5% to 0.9638, albeit being overshadowed by Sterling. For this week we have an array of consumer-driven economic data in the US and some important European inflation prints. We will also get a number of consumer sentiment indicators across the key economies and PMIs from Asia. Away from the data, there are more than 30 central banker appearances across the Fed and the ECB to keep markets busy. Tomorrow also sees referendums in the Russia-annexed Ukrainian territories as the conflict goes into its eight month. Going through the data in more details now. Starting with the US, the PCE and personal income and spending data will be front and centre for markets next week as they gauge the extent of inflationary pressures and the strength of the consumer. The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the PCE, due Friday, will be watched for signs of price pressures we saw in last week's CPI report. Our US economists expect core PCE to edge higher by +0.5% MoM (vs +0.1% in July) which won’t allow the Fed to take the foot off the tightening pedal. For the other two data points, our team forecasts a +0.1% MoM increase for both income and consumption. Final US Q2 GDP will also be released on Thursday and although DB expect no change to the -0.6% second reading, watch out for the annual benchmark revisions back to Q1 2017. History could be re-written that could have some implications for how we all think about the economy. In other US data, we will also get the consumer confidence index on Tuesday, along with durable goods orders, and inventories data on Wednesday, with the Chicago PMI on Friday. Over in Europe, all eyes will be on September's inflation data, including the Euro Area flash CPI release on Friday. Our economists are expecting the measure to hit a record +9.5%, up from the previous record of +9.1% in August. Other data in the region will include consumer and economic sentiment from Germany, France, Italy and the Eurozone throughout the week. Meanwhile, EU energy ministers will meet again on Friday regarding the emergency intervention amid elevated energy prices. Finally, next week's earnings line up will feature a number of retail bellwethers on Thursday. Among them will be Nike, H&M and Next. Micron will report that day as well. See our usual day by day guide to the week at the end which contains many of the key Fed and ECB speakers including Powell and Lagarde. Stock markets across Asia are mostly lower this morning. The Kospi (-2.40%), Nikkei (-2.30%) and the S&P/ASX 200 (-1.40%) are leading the declines. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng (+0.11%) is swinging between gains and losses after rising by +2.45% initially with Chinese shares mixed as the Shanghai Composite (-0.10%) is trading lower while the CSI (+0.46%) is up as we go to press. Stock futures in DMs are pointing to further losses with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.49%), NASDAQ 100 (-0.46%) and DAX (-0.33%) all moving lower. Early morning data showed that Japan’s manufacturing sector continued to expand albeit at a slower pace as the latest au Jibun Bank manufacturing PMI slipped to a 20-month low of 51.0 in September from 51.5 in August, pulled lower by high energy and raw material prices that was exacerbated by a weak yen. At the same time, the au Jibun Bank services PMI returned to expansion, recording a level of 51.9 in September from August's 49.5 final reading. Moving on to China, in order to stabilise expectations in the FX market, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) today raised the risk reserve requirement on foreign exchange forward sales to 20% from 0% beginning September 28 as the yuan faces increasing depreciation pressure, in line with most major currencies amid broad dollar strength. Looking back now on a week that will not be forgotten anytime soon. While there were historic central bank hikes all week, the biggest news came from the fiscal authorities, following the UK’s budget Friday, which had the largest tax cut package since the 1970s. Gilt yields had their largest one-day increase in decades with 2yrs +44.7bps, 5yrs +50.3bps, and 10yrs +33.3bps. As we mentioned at the top, 5yrs yields saw their largest move since 1985 after a +200bps hike aimed at helping a plunging currency. The pound fell -3.57% against the US dollar to within a percentage point of the weakest in the post-Bretton Woods 51yr free float era. It was already a busy macro week before the blockbuster budget, where we got more than 500bps of global central bank hikes and a currency intervention from Japan. In terms of the biggest players, the Fed delivered its third consecutive 75bp hike while the BoE delivered its second 50bp hike in a row, with both banks guiding toward yet more tightening, while the BoJ remained the outlier by keeping its accommodative policy in place, which isn’t going to help the yen turnaround even with intervention. When all was said and done, sovereign bonds and equities sold off in size, while yield curves flattened. 2yr Treasuries (+33.4bps, +7.9bps Friday), 2yr Bunds (+38.5bps, +7.2bps Friday), 2yr Gilts (+82.1bps, +44.7bps Friday) reached their highest levels since 2007, 2008, and 2008, respectively, as markets priced in more tightening to overcome inflationary pressures (and in the case of the UK, fiscal expansion). 10yr Treasuries (+23.5bps, -2.9bps Friday) ended the week a touch lower on the day but hit their highest levels since 2011 during the week, while 10yr Bunds (+26.8bps, +5.9bps Friday), and 10yr Gilts (+69.1bps, +33.3bps Friday) hit their highest levels since 2013 and 2011, respectively. The mixture unsurprisingly proved unpalatable to risk assets, driving the STOXX 600 and S&P 500 back to their lows for the year. The STOXX 600 retreated -4.37% on the week and -2.34% on Friday, the worst weekly and daily return since mid-June. The S&P 500 fell -4.65% (-1.75% Friday), returning to bear market territory. The FTSE managed to stay above its YTD lows, but still fell -3.01% on the week, its worst weekly return since mid-June as well, and retreated -1.97% on Friday, the worst daily return since early July. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/26/2022 - 08:08.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 26th, 2022

“Global Gloom": World Markets Plunge To Start The Week As Global Currency Crash Hits Max Pain And Beyond

“Global Gloom": World Markets Plunge To Start The Week As Global Currency Crash Hits Max Pain And Beyond The rout which hammered stocks on Friday, nearly pushing them to close at a new 2022 low, resumed overnight when the global FX crisis returned with a bang, and a flash crash in the British pound which as noted late last night, plummeted 500pips in thin trading, to fresh record lows following Friday's shocking mini-budget announcement which confirmed the UK has no idea what it is doing and will cut rates and issue more debt just as the BOE is desperately trying to tighten financial conditions. The plunge in cable was however just one symptom of a bigger malaise, namely the relentless surge in the dollar which overnight hit fresh record highs as the BBDXY rose as high as 1,355 before briefly fading the surge... ... as every dollar-denominated debt issuer in the world is suffering crippling pain and begging Powell to do something to ease the unprecedented shock of the strongest dollar in history just as the world slumps into a global depression. Alas, so far there is nothing but silence from the Fed - which will likely have to make some announcement on central bank currency swaps at some point before the open today to avoid an even more epic FX rout - and as traders await something to break big time across global markets... This is the week of the barbell trade: deep OTM calls and puts as things either break or CBs panic. — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 26, 2022 ... this morning futures have tumbled another 0.7%, as eminis drop to 3,683 while Nasdaq futures are down 0.8% to 11,290 on fears that Federal Reserve rate hikes to combat persistently elevated inflation will crush the economy into a full-blown recession, or depression, and the VIX soared above 32. It wasn't just FX and stocks crashing: British bonds also cratered as yields surged to the highest in more than a decade, sparking talk of emergency action by the Bank of England. For one example of the total chaos look no further than 5Y UK Gilts which have exploded 51bps higher and last traded around 4.58% as the market now prices in Similar implosions were observed in US TSYs, where the 10Y traded just shy of Friday's mini blowout, and was last seen at 3.7828% as bond traders are hit by VaR shocks at the same time in every possible market. Turning back to stocks, the rout wasn't isolated to just one market and an index of global stocks traded to the lowest since 2020. European equities extended declines after sliding into a bear market on Friday, with mining and energy stocks underperforming as metals and oil fell. “We’re in a period of global gloom, with pessimism blanketing different countries for different reasons,” said Ed Yardeni, president of his eponymous research firm, who warned of growing storm clouds for the US economy. “The latest data jibe with our growth recession scenario, but the risks of a full-blown recession are obviously increasing,” he wrote in a note Monday. In premarket trading, major US tech and internet stocks including Apple, Amazon and Microsoft tumbled. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Farfetch (FTCH US) shares fall as much as 4.43% in US premarket trading, after Citi begins coverage of the luxury online retailer with a sell rating, with broker flagging “weak” underlying profitability. Shares of US-listed Macau casinos jump in premarket trading, after Macau government said tour groups from mainland China could resume as early as November. Wynn Resorts (WYNN US) jumps 5.4%; Las Vegas Sands (LVS US) +6.9%, Melco (MLCO US) +9.6% and MGM resorts (MGM US) +1.6% Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks edged higher in premarket trading on Monday as Bitcoin rose above $19,000. Marathon Digital (MARA US) +1.9%, Coinbase (COIN US) +0.4% Keep an eye on Diana Shipping (DSX US) and Safe Bulkers (SB US) as Jefferies downgraded them to hold from buy and lowered dry bulk estimates to reflect the decline in dry bulk charter rates. European shares extended their fall to Dec. 2020 lows; sliding 1% and extending losses as investors priced a major economic shock and recession. The Stoxx 600 Index was down 1% by 10:50am in London, touching its lowest since December 2020, with real estate and banks among the worst performing sectors, while technology shares outperformed. Italy’s FTSE MIB bucked broader European declines to trade little changed, after Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s election, in line with expectations. Banks and real estate stocks were the worst-performing sectors in Europe on Monday, with declines led by UK stocks as the pound and UK bonds slump. The Stoxx 600 Banks Index and the Stoxx 600 Real Estate are both down at least 2.5% while the benchmark gauge is 1.1% lower. The bank index decline is led by UK names including Virgin Money (-10%), Lloyds (-4.6%) and NatWest (-4.5%). Virgin Money was today resumed with a hold rating at Berenberg; broker said that the lender is expected to see revenue declines and a sector- lagging return on tangible equity which will affect ability to re-rate. Among real estate stocks, the UK’s Safestore Holdings (-4.2%), Assura (-3.9%) and Derwent London (-3.8%) are among the worst performers; non-index member housebuilders, including Persimmon, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey, are also plunging as the pound’s slump prompts talk of emergency action by the Bank of England. Here are the most notable movers today: The Stoxx 600 Tech Index rises as much as 2.4%, set for its biggest one-day outperformance against the broader Stoxx 600 since early-August, with semiconductor stocks leading gains. Among chip stocks, ASML rose as much as +3.7% after Santander upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform Italy’s FTSE MIB index gains, bucking weaker markets in Europe, after Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s election. While the outcome was in line with expectations, the fact that the coalition didn’t obtain a super majority needed to change the constitution reassures investors. Telecom Italia rose as much +7.4%, FinecoBank +5.1%, Moncler +4.4% Unilever shares rise as much as 3.7% after it announced that CEO Alan Jope will retire from the company at the end of 2023, in a move that Jefferies analyst Martin Deboo (buy) sees as a positive development. RPS Group shares rise as much as 13% after Tetra Tech’s agreed deal to buy the company at 222p/share in cash, representing a 7.8% premium to an offer WSP made in August. Liberum does not rule out a counterbid. Belimo shares rise as much as 8.5% since the market isn’t fully pricing in its growth outlook, Berenberg says in a note, moving to buy and establishing a Street-high CHF440 target. The stock gains as much as 8.1%, the most since March 2021. Zalando shares rise as much as 4.8% after Citi analyst says they like the long-term investment story, short-term earnings risks are still high. UK Domestics: the most remarkable reaction to Friday’s not-so-mini budget, however, might be in lenders’ shares. The decline in banking stocks reflects investors’ pessimistic view on Britain’s economy. HSBC fell as much as 2.9%; Lloyds -4.3%, NatWest -4.7% and Barclays -3.0%. Virgin Money UK shares drop as much as 10% after Berenberg resumed a hold rating in note, stating that in many ways the UK small banks are “more different than they are alike.” Utilities are the day’s worst-performing European sector. Citi analyst Piotr Dzieciolowski says the EU’s funding for its policy response has so far been insufficient and also expects uncertainty to persist for UK names. United Utilities fell as much as -3.4%, Drax -3.8% Geopolitical risks from the war in Ukraine to escalating tensions over Taiwan and unrest in Iran also weighed on sentiment. Meanwhile, the OECD cut almost all growth forecasts for the Group of 20 next year while anticipating further interest-rate hikes, and a gauge of German business confidence deteriorated. Earlier in the session, a rout in Asian stocks extended into Monday as rising concerns about a global recession and weak demand hit the region’s exporters and materials producers. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined as much as 2.3% to the lowest since April 2020, dragged lower by TSMC, BHP and Toyota Motor. All but one sector traded lower with materials leading the slump.  South Korean stocks fell the most in the region, with the benchmark tumbling 3% to more than a two-year low. The Korean market’s heavy tech exposure has proven costly amid rising rates and a stronger dollar, with fears that a looming recession may wreak havoc on global demand. Gauges in Hong Kong and China reversed earlier gains as the region’s selloff intensified.   Korea Assets Are Asia’s Biggest Losers on Global Recession Angst “Investor sentiment is again at the stage of extreme fear,” said Lee Kyoung-Min, an analyst at Daishin Investment. “It is becoming solid and clear that Kospi and other global stock markets are on a mid-to-long term downward trend.” Asian stock benchmarks are being buffeted by global headwinds as well as risks of their own. The Federal Reserve’s relentless rate hike campaign is pushing Asian currencies lower and raising the risk of capital outflows, while China’s adherence to Covid Zero is hurting growth in the region’s economic giant.  If Monday’s losses are extended through the week, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index will see its longest run of declines since 2015. Japan stocks declined more than 2% as the nation resumed trading after a holiday on Friday. The Philippine stock market was closed Monday as Super Typhoon Noru barreled into the main Luzon island.  Among the key issues investors are watching this week are speeches by central bank officials in US and Europe, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday. Japanese equities tumbled as the market reopened following a three-day weekend, tracking US peers lower after the Fed’s hawkish comments last week deepened fears of a global downturn. The Topix fell 2.7% to close at 1,864.28, while the Nikkei declined 2.7% to 26,431.55. Toyota Motor contributed the most to the Topix decline, decreasing 3.2% after its monthly production update lagged expectations. Out of 2,169 stocks in the index, 145 rose and 1,985 fell, while 39 were unchanged. “There is a possibility that inflation will not subside and interest rates will rise further, which the markets will not like,” said Shoji Hirakawa, a chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.6% to close at 6,469.40, as energy and mining shares plummeted. An energy gauge including oil and coal linked securities declined by the most since March 2020.  The New Zealand market was closed for a holiday In India, key stocks gauges plunged to their lowest closing levels in almost two months as the global equity rout continues. The S&P BSE Sensex dropped 1.6% to 57,145.22 in Mumbai to its lowest since July 28. The NSE Nifty 50 Index fell 1.8%, its biggest single-day plunge since Sept. 16. Both the indexes, down in four of the past five weeks, have lost almost 6% since this month’s peak. Volatility in domestic equities is likely to remain elevated this week, pending monthly derivatives expiry on Thursday. Of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 24 fell and 6 advanced. All but one of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by utilities and power companies.  The Indian rupee weakened to a new record against the dollar amid surging US Treasury yields. The Reserve Bank of India’s rate-setting panel will announce monetary policy later this week. As noted above, while stocks are ugly, rates are a horrorshow as Treasuries extended their worst bond slide in decades as a dollar gauge rose to yet another record. Treasuries extended losses in a bear flattening move with yields cheaper by up to 10bp across the belly of the curve. US 10-year yields around 3.78%, cheaper by 6bp on the day with 5s30s spread flatter by 5bp, dropping as low as -45.4bp in European session; UK yields cheaper by 60bp to 25bp from front- end out to long-end of the curve. The Move comes as market participants brace for accelerated policy tightening from global central banks and headlines such as this: *TRADERS PRICE IN UP TO 200BPS OF BOE RATE HIKES BY NOVEMBER Yields on 2-year gilts are 60bp cheaper heading into early US session, while the pound recovers slightly after reaching a fresh all-time low. US session focus on 2-year auction, while a barrage of Fed speakers are expected for the week. Peripheral spreads widen to Germany with 10y BTP/Bund widening 7bps to 238bps. FX, of course, is a disaster, with the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rising a fifth consecutive day as the greenback advanced versus most of its Group-of-10 peers. The pound plunged almost 5% to $1.0350 in Asian trading, the lowest recorded in Bloomberg data going back to 1971, while gilts crashed after the UK government vowed to press ahead with more tax cuts, stoking fears that new fiscal policies will send inflation and debt soaring, triggering emergency rate hikes. The options market signals no respite even as the pound rebounded from a record low hit during the Asia session. The yield on two- year bonds surged more than 55 basis points to 4.51%, while the 10-year yield rose 37 basis points to 4.19%. Money markets price in more than 150 basis points of rate increases by the BoE’s next policy meeting in November The euro steadied after earlier dropping to $0.9554; European bond yields rose; Italian bonds underperformed German peers. Giorgia Meloni won a clear majority in Sunday’s Italian election, setting herself up to become the country’s first female prime minister at the head of the most right-wing government since World War II. Germany’s IFO business expectations slid to 75.2 in September from 80.3 in August. That’s the lowest since April 2020. Analysts had predicted a drop to 79. An index of current conditions also fell. The Australian and New Zealand dollars pared some losses after earlier touching fresh 2-year lows. Aussie bond yields rose by up to 13bps, led by the front end The yen weakened amid a broadly stronger dollar. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the government’s intervention in the foreign exchange market last week was appropriate given the recent volatility in the yen The currency’s rally is “untenable” for risk assets, according to a note by Morgan Stanley strategists led by Michael Wilson, while Sian Fenner, senior Asia economist for Oxford Economics, said that “It’s a king US dollar...“It’s adding to inflationary pressures and more central banks raising rates more than we have historically seen.” In commodities, WTI slides almost 1% to trade near $78/bbl. Spot gold mostly unchanged near $1,643/oz. Bitcoin climbs above $19,000. Trading this week will be punctuated by a number of economic reports including US initial jobless claims and gross-domestic-product data, along with PMI figures from China. Choppiness in price moves is likely with a steady stream of Federal Reserve officials speaking through the week. Looking at today's calendar, we get the September Dallas Fed manufacturing activity index, and the August Chicago Fed national activity index. Central bank speakers include the Fed's Bostic, Collins, Logan and Mester; ECB's Lagarde also speaks as does Nagel, Guindos, Centeno and Panetta speak, BoE's Tenreyro speaks. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 3,706.25 MXAP down 2.0% to 142.24 MXAPJ down 1.4% to 463.08 Nikkei down 2.7% to 26,431.55 Topix down 2.7% to 1,864.28 Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 17,855.14 Shanghai Composite down 1.2% to 3,051.23 Sensex down 1.2% to 57,378.30 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.6% to 6,469.41 Kospi down 3.0% to 2,220.94 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 389.70 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.08% Euro little changed at $0.9683 Brent Futures down 0.7% to $85.59/bbl Brent Futures down 0.7% to $85.59/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,645.98 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 113.22 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng must do more to reassure the markets about his plans for the economy after a selloff sent the pound crashing to an all-time low against the dollar, said Gerard Lyons, an external adviser to Prime Minister Liz Truss The UK’s foreign currency holdings are a fraction of the huge stockpiles built up by some of its peers, making unilateral intervention in the market to prop up the plunging pound a tall order for UK policymakers. The UK had $108 billion in foreign currency reserves at the end of August, according to data from the IMF Hedge funds ramped up bullish bets on the pound just days before the UK government’s unexpectedly large tax cuts sent the currency tumbling The ECB’s newest policy maker, Boris Vujcic, says “it’s clear that this is the right way to go,” backing this month’s 75-basis point interest-rate hike ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said the biggest problem facing the continent’s economy is record inflation, which is becoming more broad-based, threatening investment and consumer spending ECB Governing Council member Yannis Stournaras says the central bank must maintain the main principles of gradualism and flexibility, since the problem it faces is different from the one that the US Fed faces China made it more expensive to bet against the yuan in the derivatives market, ramping up support for the currency as it slides toward the weakest level since the 2008 financial crisis A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly negative in a resumption of last week's global stock rout amid the continued surge in the dollar and higher yields, while there was also FX volatility which saw a flash crash in GBP/USD to a record low. ASX 200 was dragged lower amid losses in the commodity-related sectors and with sentiment dampened by the collapse of potential M&A deals involving Ramsay Health-KKR and Link Administration-Dye & Durham. Nikkei 225 underperformed with Mazda Motors among the worst hit as it considers exiting Russian operations. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp retraced most of their initial losses with Hong Kong underpinned following the scrapping of hotel quarantine policy and with casinos boosted as Macau is to resume tour groups from China, while the property industry benefits after China Construction Bank formed a CNY 30bln housing rental fund and some Twitter sources also circulated that some China state banks were reportedly ordered to buy stocks to contain selling. Top Asian News PBoC injected CNY 42bln via 7-day reverse repos with the rate kept at 2.00% and CNY 93bln via 14-day reverse repos with the rate kept at 2.15% for a net CNY 133bln injection. There were rumours circulating on social media of a coup against Chinese President Xi, although experts and journalists in Beijing dismissed the rumours and said there was no evidence to support them, according to The Print. Philippines Stock Exchange announced a trading suspension for Monday amid a typhoon in the capital, according to Reuters. European bourses are softer after a mixed cash open and despite a brief foray higher, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.5%, as sentiment remains subdued amid recession/inflation concerns. The breakdown features modest outperformance in the FTSE MIB as Italian election results are in-line with expectations. Stateside, futures are lower across the board in-fitting with peers going into a week of Fed speak and inflation data. Top European News UK PM Truss said she is determined to make the special relationship with the US even more special and said she agreed with US President Biden that it is vital to protect the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement, while she wants to find a way forward with a negotiated solution with the EU, according to Reuters and a CNN interview. UK PM Truss is to review visa schemes in an attempt to ease UK labour shortages, according to FT. UK Chancellor Kwarteng hinted that more tax cuts are on the way and claimed his tax cuts “favour people right across the income scale” amid accusations they mainly help the rich, according to Evening Standard. UK Chancellor Kwarteng said he is focused on growing the economy and the longer term when asked about the market reaction to his statement on Friday. Kwarteng added that he shares ideas with BoE Governor Bailey but added that Bailey is completely independent and Kwarteng is confident the BoE is dealing with inflation, according to Reuters. UK opposition Labour Party leader Starmer said they would reintroduce the top rate of income tax at 45% which the government announced to scrap last week, while he added that they will support the government plan to lower the basic rate of income tax to 19%, according to Reuters. Italy's right-wing bloc is seen winning the national election with 43.3% and centre-left bloc is seen winning 25.4%, according to the first projection by LA7 TV based on the actual vote count.. Click here for newsquawk snap analysis. Italy's Meloni said Italians gave clear backing to a centre-right government led by the Brothers of Italy and said the situation is difficult and needs contribution from everyone. It was separately reported that Italy's Democratic Party conceded in the election and said it will be the main opposition force, while Italy's Meloni claimed leadership of the next Italian government, according to Reuters and AFP. FX DXY climbed to a fresh YTD high of 114.58 before paring modestly, but remaining firmer, as GBP in particular lifts off worst levels. Cable succumbed to a flash crash overnight, with GBP/USD hitting an all-time-low around 1.0350 as participants confidence in the economy slips. EUR suffers amid the mentioned USD move but derives relative benefit from GBP, while ECB speakers thus far have added little. Antipodeans and CAD weighed on by broader risk and commodity pressure. Japanese Finance Minister Suzuki said the government and BoJ share views on concerns about a weak JPY, while he added that FX intervention had a certain effect and there is no change to the stance that they will respond to market moves as needed, according to Reuters. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.0298 vs exp. 7.0019 (prev. 6.9920) PBoC imposed a 20% risk reserve requirement for FX forward sales from September 28th to rein in yuan weakness. Fixed Income Gilts have retained some composure after slumping over 200ticks at the commencement of trade and have settled around halfway between intraday extremes. EGBs downbeat in sympathy while BTPs marginally lag core-EGB peers as Italian as-expected election results are digested with BTP-Bund only modestly wider as such. Stateside, USTs are pressured in-fitting with peers and also conscious of the week's supply docket getting underway via a 43bln 2yr. Central Banks Fed’s Bostic (2024 voter) said inflation is too high and that they need to do all they can to bring it down and said demand is beginning to shrink which will ultimately pay dividends in inflation levels. Bostic also stated that there are scenarios where they can avoid deep pain but there will likely be some job losses, according to Reuters. BoJ's Kuroda says the BoJ will maintain accommodative monetary conditions to support companies, hopes to support a positive economic cycle, long-term inflation expectations have begun to heighten, via Reuters. Intervention from the MoF is an "appropriate" move, does not think gov't intervention and BoJ policy are contradictory. Amamiya says the domestic economy is picking up, must carefully watch how FX moves affect the economy and prices. BoJ Governor Kuroda says when he stated that BoJ forward guidance will not change for 2-3yrs, did not refer to guidance on keeping short and long-term rates at present of lower levels via Reuters. ECB's de Guindos says Q3 and Q4 point towards growth rates being close to zero within the EZ, the scenario is market by high uncertainty, lower growth and higher inflation. ECB's Panetta says ECB is assessing the potential of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and "the extent to which it could improve our services.". Capital Economics calls for the BoE to "get on the front foot with a big rate hike". Allianz's El-Erian says, on GBP, the fall is about extra tax cuts and Chancellor Kwarteng could recalibrate this. Alternative, would be for the BoE to hike at an emergency meeting. Adding, he would hike by 100bp. BoE publishes key elements of the 2022 annual cyclical scenario stress test; includes a scenario where the Bank Rate is assumed to rise rapidly to a peak of 6% in early 2023 before gradually reduced to sub-3.5%. Commodities WTI and Brent November futures remain subdued in early European trade following last week’s recession-induced losses. Spot gold trades in tandem with the Buck and sees resistance at around USD 1,650/oz after falling to USD 1,627/oz as a casualty of the Sterling flash crash overnight. LME metals are softer across the board with 3M copper futures having a hard time reclaiming USD +7,500/t status with upside capped by the Buck. Iraq began trial operations at the Karabala oil refinery which has a production capacity of 140k bpd, according to a statement from the Oil Ministry. German Chancellor Scholz signed a strategic agreement with UAE’s President on accelerating energy security and industrial growth, while UAE’s ADNOC signed an agreement with Germany’s RWE which includes ADNOC exporting its first LNG cargo to RWE and will conduct trial shipments of low-carbon ammonia to Germany. Furthermore, Chancellor Scholz said while visiting Doha that he talked with the Emir about LNG deliveries and that they want to achieve further progress, according to Reuters. Germany is preparing a national electricity price cap to be implemented this fall in the scenario the EU falls to agree on a similar move for the entirety of the bloc, via WSJ citing officials. Vitol's CEO said at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference that Russian gas supply cuts put enormous strain on supply-demand in Europe and that high gas prices are to impact 60%-80% of demand, while Ecopetrol's CEO said they are increasing crude exports to Europe this year to replace Russian supplies and are drilling 600 oil wells this year. Anglo American (AAL LN) tightens copper production guidance for Chile to 560k-580k tonnes of copper (prev. 560k-600k tonnes) due to lower throughput at Los Bronces caused by a combination of water restrictions and a change in ore characteristics, via Reuters. US Event Calendar 08:30: Aug. Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.23, prior 0.27 10:30: Sept. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. -10.0, prior -12.9 Central Banks 10:00: Boston Fed’s Susan Collins Speaks to Boston Chamber of... 12:00: Fed’s Bostic Discusses Income Inequality 12:30: Fed’s Logan Speaks at Banking Conference 16:00: Fed’s Mester Discusses Economic Outlook DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I wonder whether any research report has ever been written whilst watching synchronised swimming? Well if not, then you’re reading the first ever as I’m getting a head start on the early morning news by starting this on Sunday evening watching my daughter Maisie do her second session after getting into the local club. Watching this sport is going to take some getting used to after years of watching football, cricket, golf, F1, athletics, rugby... actually.... virtually every sport bar synchronised swimming. I think everyone felt they were swimming in a tsunami of newsflow last week after one of the most incredible macro weeks in recent memory in terms of breadth of events. Yes there have been more extreme weeks in crises but last week had a bit more variety and was outside of a crisis period. If over 500bps of global rate hikes wasn’t enough, you also had 2yr US yields moving higher for the 12th successive day on Friday (the longest steak since data begins in 1976), the BoJ intervening in FX markets for the first time since 1998, and what can only be termed as one of the darker days for sterling assets on record on Friday after a mammoth tax giveaway in what was a mini-budget in name and not by nature. Henry and I put a note out on Friday night (link here) showing that it was the third worst day for Sterling (-3.57%) since Black Wednesday in 1992, with the worst two since being the day after the Brexit vote (-8.1%) and after the initial covid shock in 2020 (-3.71%) when there was a global flight to dollars. We also show a graph of daily Sterling moves back to 1862 and on that it was the 41st worst day in history spanning 47,000 trading days. Obviously in the long era of fixed FX rates there were the occasional big devaluations which were much bigger than Friday. This morning is Asia it fell around -4.5% at one point (1.0392) which was a record low against the Dollar. It's around -2.78% as I type. This follows a weekend interview where Chancellor Kwarteng suggested that more tax cuts were to come so that certainly was a red rag to markets. Will we hear from the upper echelons of the BoE today? Watch out for any comments, especially at the market open. DB's George Saravelos suggested on Friday that the Bank of England need to do an inter meeting hike to restore policy credibility. There’s also a graph in our note mentioned above showing that Friday was the worst day for 5yr gilts (+50.3bps) since a +200bps hike in 1985 when sterling was also slumping. So maybe omens here. I suppose the only slight mystery is the timing of the sell-off as the mini-budget in magnitude was broadly in-line with the recent elevated fiscal expectations that had been building. However perhaps it was the unabashed revival of trickle-down economics that had markets a little aghast. It goes against the current economic orthodoxy and the overall zeitgeist of our immediate times. As such there is likely to be concerns of a credibility issue. We are publishing our long-term study today with the title “How we got here, and where we’re going?”. In it we try to put the current macro woes into historical context in an attempt to work out where we’re going. There are quite a few people who have proof-read it on my team and they were all thoroughly depressed at the end. I didn't feel that way writing it but maybe it's a case of starting point perceptions. Anyway, look out for it around the European lunchtime. Overnight in Italy, the right-wing alliance led by Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party was on course to become the nation’s first woman prime minister after exit polls gave it a clear majority. With the full results due later today, she is predicted to win up to 26% of the vote ahead of her closest rival Enrico Letta from the centre left. The right wing alliance is slated to be on course for around 43% of the vote, enough for a majority if correct. As I type, the euro is extending its losses against the dollar for the fifth day, its longest streak since April 28, falling as much as -0.5% to 0.9638, albeit being overshadowed by Sterling. For this week we have an array of consumer-driven economic data in the US and some important European inflation prints. We will also get a number of consumer sentiment indicators across the key economies and PMIs from Asia. Away from the data, there are more than 30 central banker appearances across the Fed and the ECB to keep markets busy. Tomorrow also sees referendums in the Russia-annexed Ukrainian territories as the conflict goes into its eight month. Going through the data in more details now. Starting with the US, the PCE and personal income and spending data will be front and centre for markets next week as they gauge the extent of inflationary pressures and the strength of the consumer. The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the PCE, due Friday, will be watched for signs of price pressures we saw in last week's CPI report. Our US economists expect core PCE to edge higher by +0.5% MoM (vs +0.1% in July) which won’t allow the Fed to take the foot off the tightening pedal. For the other two data points, our team forecasts a +0.1% MoM increase for both income and consumption. Final US Q2 GDP will also be released on Thursday and although DB expect no change to the -0.6% second reading, watch out for the annual benchmark revisions back to Q1 2017. History could be re-written that could have some implications for how we all think about the economy. In other US data, we will also get the consumer confidence index on Tuesday, along with durable goods orders, and inventories data on Wednesday, with the Chicago PMI on Friday. Over in Europe, all eyes will be on September's inflation data, including the Euro Area flash CPI release on Friday. Our economists are expecting the measure to hit a record +9.5%, up from the previous record of +9.1% in August. Other data in the region will include consumer and economic sentiment from Germany, France, Italy and the Eurozone throughout the week. Meanwhile, EU energy ministers will meet again on Friday regarding the emergency intervention amid elevated energy prices. Finally, next week's earnings line up will feature a number of retail bellwethers on Thursday. Among them will be Nike, H&M and Next. Micron will report that day as well. See our usual day by day guide to the week at the end which contains many of the key Fed and ECB speakers including Powell and Lagarde. Stock markets across Asia are mostly lower this morning. The Kospi (-2.40%), Nikkei (-2.30%) and the S&P/ASX 200 (-1.40%) are leading the declines. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng (+0.11%) is swinging between gains and losses after rising by +2.45% initially with Chinese shares mixed as the Shanghai Composite (-0.10%) is trading lower while the CSI (+0.46%) is up as we go to press. Stock futures in DMs are pointing to further losses with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.49%), NASDAQ 100 (-0.46%) and DAX (-0.33%) all moving lower. Early morning data showed that Japan’s manufacturing sector continued to expand albeit at a slower pace as the latest au Jibun Bank manufacturing PMI slipped to a 20-month low of 51.0 in September from 51.5 in August, pulled lower by high energy and raw material prices that was exacerbated by a weak yen. At the same time, the au Jibun Bank services PMI returned to expansion, recording a level of 51.9 in September from August's 49.5 final reading. Moving on to China, in order to stabilise expectations in the FX market, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) today raised the risk reserve requirement on foreign exchange forward sales to 20% from 0% beginning September 28 as the yuan faces increasing depreciation pressure, in line with most major currencies amid broad dollar strength. Looking back now on a week that will not be forgotten anytime soon. While there were historic central bank hikes all week, the biggest news came from the fiscal authorities, following the UK’s budget Friday, which had the largest tax cut package since the 1970s. Gilt yields had their largest one-day increase in decades with 2yrs +44.7bps, 5yrs +50.3bps, and 10yrs +33.3bps. As we mentioned at the top, 5yrs yields saw their largest move since 1985 after a +200bps hike aimed at helping a plunging currency. The pound fell -3.57% against the US dollar to within a percentage point of the weakest in the post-Bretton Woods 51yr free float era. It was already a busy macro week before the blockbuster budget, where we got more than 500bps of global central bank hikes and a currency intervention from Japan. In terms of the biggest players, the Fed delivered its third consecutive 75bp hike while the BoE delivered its second 50bp hike in a row, with both banks guiding toward yet more tightening, while the BoJ remained the outlier by keeping its accommodative policy in place, which isn’t going to help the yen turnaround even with intervention. When all was said and done, sovereign bonds and equities sold off in size, while yield curves flattened. 2yr Treasuries (+33.4bps, +7.9bps Friday), 2yr Bunds (+38.5bps, +7.2bps Friday), 2yr Gilts (+82.1bps, +44.7bps Friday) reached their highest levels since 2007, 2008, and 2008, respectively, as markets priced in more tightening to overcome inflationary pressures (and in the case of the UK, fiscal expansion). 10yr Treasuries (+23.5bps, -2.9bps Friday) ended the week a touch lower on the day but hit their highest levels since 2011 during the week, while 10yr Bunds (+26.8bps, +5.9bps Friday), and 10yr Gilts (+69.1bps, +33.3bps Friday) hit their highest levels since 2013 and 2011, respectively. The mixture unsurprisingly proved unpalatable to risk assets, driving the STOXX 600 and S&P 500 back to their lows for the year. The STOXX 600 retreated -4.37% on the week and -2.34% on Friday, the worst weekly and daily return since mid-June. The S&P 500 fell -4.65% (-1.75% Friday), returning to bear market territory. The FTSE managed to stay above its YTD lows, but still fell -3.01% on the week, its worst weekly return since mid-June as well, and retreated -1.97% on Friday, the worst daily return since early July. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/26/2022 - 08:08.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 26th, 2022

Multipolar World Order – Part 1

Multipolar World Order – Part 1 Authored by Iain Davis via OffGuardian.org, Russia’s war with Ukraine is first and foremost a tragedy for the people of both countries, especially those who live—and die—in the battle zones. The priority for humanity, though apparently not for the political class, is to encourage Moscow and Kyiv to stop killing men, women and children and negotiate a peace deal. Beyond the immediate confines of the conflict, the war is also seen by some as representative of an alleged clash between great powers and, perhaps, between civilisations. All wars are momentous, but the ramifications of Ukrainian war are already global. Consequently, there is a perception that it is the focal point of a confrontation between two distinct models of global governance. The NATO-led alliance of the Western nations continues to push the unipolar, G7, international rules-based order (IRBO). It is opposed, some say, by the Russian and Chinese-led BRICS and the G20-based multipolar world order. In this 3 part series we will explore these issues and consider if it is tenable to place our faith in the emerging multipolar world order. There are very few redeeming features of the unipolar world order, that’s for sure. It is a system that overwhelmingly serves capital and few people other than a “parasite class” of stakeholder capitalist eugenicists. This has led many disaffected Westerners to invest their hopes in the promise of the multipolar world order: Many have increasingly come to terms with the reality that today’s multipolar system led by Russia and China has premised itself upon the defense of international law and national sovereignty as outlined in the UN Charter. [. . .] Putin and Xi Jinping have [. . .] made their choice to stand for win-win cooperation over Hobbesian Zero Sum thinking. [. . .] [T]heir entire strategy is premised upon the UN Charter. If only that were so! Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be the case. But even if it were true, Putin and Xi Jinping basing “their entire strategy” upon the UN Charter, would be cause for concern, not relief. For the globalist forces that see nation-states as squares on the grand chessboard and that regard leaders like Putin, Biden and Xi Jinping as accomplices, the multipolar world order is manna from heaven. They have spent more than a century trying to centralise global power. The power of individual nation-states at least presents the possibility of some decentralisation. The multipolar world order finally ends all national sovereignty and delivers true global governance. World Order We need to distinguish between the ideological concept of “world order” and the reality. This will help us identify where “world order” is an artificially imposed construct. Authoritarian power, wielded over populations, territory and resources, restricted by physical and political geography, dictates the “world order.” The present order is largely the product of hard-nosed geopolitics, but it also reflects the various attempts to impose a global order. The struggle to manage and mitigate the consequences of geopolitics is evident in the history of international relations. For nearly 500 years nation-states have sought to co-exist as sovereign entities. Numerous systems have been devised to seize control of what would otherwise be anarchy. It is very much to the detriment of humanity that anarchy has not been allowed to flourish. In 1648, the two bilateral treaties that formed the Peace of Westphalia concluded the 30 Years War (or Wars). Those negotiated settlements arguably established the precept of the territorial sovereignty within the borders of the nation-state. This reduced, but did not end, the centralised authoritarian power of the Holy Roman Empire (HRE). Britannica notes: The Peace of Westphalia recognized the full territorial sovereignty of the member states of the empire. This isn’t entirely accurate. That so-called “full territorial sovereignty” delineated regional power within Europe and the HRE, but full sovereignty wasn’t established. The Westphalian treaties created hundreds of principalities that were formerly controlled by the central legislature of the HRE, the Diet. These new, effectively federalised principalities still paid taxes to the emperor and, crucially, religious observance remained a matter for the empire to decide. The treaties also consolidated the regional power of the Danish, Swedish, and French states but the Empire itself remained intact and dominant. It is more accurate to say that the Peace of Westphalia somewhat curtailed the authoritarian power of the HRE and defined the physical borders of some nation states. During the 20th century, this led to the popular interpretation of the nation-state as a bulwark against international hegemonic power, despite that never having been entirely true. Consequently, the so-called “Westphalian model” is largely based upon a myth. It represents an idealised version of the world order, suggesting how it could operate rather than describing how it does. Signing of the Peace of Westphalia, in Münster 1648, painting by Gerard Ter Borch If nation-states really were sovereign and if their territorial integrity were genuinely respected, then the Westphalian world order would be pure anarchy. This is the ideal upon which the UN is supposedly founded because, contrary to another ubiquitous popular myth, anarchy does not mean “chaos.” Quite the opposite. Anarchy is exemplified by Article 2.1 of the UN Charter: The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members. The word “anarchy” is an abstraction of the classical Greek “anarkhos,” meaning “rulerless.” This is derived from the privative prefix “an” (without) in conjunction with “arkhos” (leader or ruler). Literally translated, “anarchy” means “without rulers”—what the UN calls “sovereign equality.” A Westphalian world order of sovereign nation-states, each observing the “equality” of all others while adhering to the non-aggression principle, is a system of global, political anarchy. Unfortunately, that is not the way the current UN “world order” functions, nor has there ever been any attempt to impose such an order. What a shame. Within the League of Nations and subsequent UN system of practical “world order,”—a world order allegedly built upon the sovereignty of nations—equality exists in theory only. Through empire, colonialism, neocolonialism—that is, through economic, military, financial and monetary conquest, coupled with the debt obligations imposed upon targeted nations—global powers have always been able to dominate and control lesser ones. National governments, if defined in purely political terms, have never been the only source of authority behind the efforts to construct world order. As revealed by Antony C. Sutton and others, private corporate power has aided national governments in shaping “world order.” Neither Hitler’s rise to power nor the Bolshevik Revolution would have occurred as they did, if at all, without the guidance of the Wall Street financiers. The bankers’ global financial institutions and extensive international espionage networks were instrumental in shifting global political power. These private-sector “partners” of government are the “stakeholders” we constantly hear about today. The most powerful among them are fully engaged in “the game” described by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard. Brzezinski recognised that the continental landmass of Eurasia was the key to genuine global hegemony: This huge, oddly shaped Eurasian chess board—extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok—provides the setting for “the game.” [. . .] [I]f the middle space rebuffs the West, becomes an assertive single entity [. . .] then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. [. . .] That mega-continent is just too large, too populous, culturally too varied, and composed of too many historically ambitious and politically energetic states to be compliant toward even the most economically successful and politically pre-eminent global power. [. . .] Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. [. . .] [I]t would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state. The “unipolar world order” favoured by the Western powers, often referred to as the “international rules-based order” or the “international rules-based system,” is another attempt to impose order. This “unipolar” model enables the US and its European partners to exploit the UN system to claim legitimacy for their games of empire. Through it, the transatlantic alliance has used its economic, military and financial power to try to establish global hegemony. In 2016, Stewart Patrick, writing for the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a foreign policy think tank, published World Order: What, Exactly, are the Rules? He described the post-WWII “international rules-based order” (IRBO): What sets the post-1945 Western order apart is that it was shaped overwhelmingly by a single power [a unipolarity], the United States. Operating within the broader context of strategic bipolarity, it constructed, managed, and defended the regimes of the capitalist world economy. [. . .] In the trade sphere, the hegemon presses for liberalization and maintains an open market; in the monetary sphere, it supplies a freely convertible international currency, manages exchange rates, provides liquidity, and serves as a lender of last resort; and in the financial sphere, it serves as a source of international investment and development. The idea that the aggressive market acquisition of crony capitalism somehow represents the “open markets” of the “capitalist world economy” is risible. It is about as far removed from free market capitalism as it is possible to be. Under crony capitalism, the US dollar, as the preferred global reserve currency, is not “freely convertible.” Exchange rates are manipulated and liquidity is debt for nearly everyone except the lender. “Investment and development” by the hegemon means more profits and control for the hegemon. The notion that a political leader, or anyone for that matter, is entirely bad or good, is puerile. The same consideration can be given to nation-states, political systems or even models of world order. The character of a human being, a nation or a system of global governance is better judged by their or its totality of actions. Whatever we consider to be the source of “good” and “evil,” it exists in all of us at either ends of a spectrum. Some people exhibit extreme levels of psychopathy, which can lead them to commit acts that are judged to be “evil.” But even Hitler, for example, showed physical courage, devotion, compassion for some, and other qualities we might consider “good.” Nation-states and global governance structures, though immensely complex, are formed and led by people. They are influenced by a multitude of forces. Given the added complications of chance and unforeseen events, it is unrealistic to expect any form of “order” to be either entirely good or entirely bad. That being said, if that “order” is iniquitous and causes appreciable harm to people, then it is important to identify to whom that “order” provides advantage. Their potential individual and collective guilt should be investigated. This does not imply that those who benefit are automatically culpable, nor that they are “bad” or “evil,” though they may be, only that they have a conflict of interests in maintaining their “order” despite the harm it causes. Equally, where systemic harm is evident, it is irrational to absolve the actions of the people who lead and benefit from that system without first ruling out their possible guilt. Since WWII, millions of innocents have been murdered by the US, its international allies and its corporate partners, all of whom have thrown their military, economic and financial weight around the world. The Western “parasite class” has sought to assert its IRBO by any means necessary— sanctions, debt slavery or outright slavery, physical, economic or psychological warfare. The grasping desire for more power and control has exposed the very worst of human nature. Repeatedly and ad nauseam. Of course, resistance to this kind of global tyranny is understandable. The question is: Does imposition of the multipolar model offer anything different? Signing the UN Charter – 1948 Oligarchy Most recently, the “unipolar world order” has been embodied by the World Economic Forum’s inappropriately named Great Reset. It is so malignant and forbidding that some consider the emerging “multipolar world order” salvation. They have even heaped praise upon the likely leaders of the new multipolar world: It is [. . .] strength of purpose and character that has defined Putin’s two decades in power. [. . .] Russia is committed to the process of finding solutions to all people benefiting from the future, not just a few thousand holier-than-thou oligarchs. [. . .] Together [Russia and China] told the WEF to stuff the Great Reset back into the hole in which it was conceived. [. . .] Putin told Klaus Schwab and the WEF that their entire idea of the Great Reset is not only doomed to failure but runs counter to everything modern leadership should be pursuing. Sadly, it seems this hope is also misplaced. While Putin did much to rid Russia of the CIA-run, Western-backed oligarchs who were systematically destroying the Russian Federation during the 1990s, they have subsequently been replaced by another band of oligarchs with closer links to the current Russian government. Something we will explore in Part 3. Yes, it is certainly true that the Russian government, led by Putin and his power bloc, has improved the incomes and life opportunities for the majority of Russians. Putin’s government has also significantly reduced chronic poverty in Russia over the last two decades. Wealth in Russia, measured as the market value of financial and non-financial assets, has remained concentrated in the hands of the top 1% of the population. This pooling of wealth among the top percentile is itself stratified and is overwhelmingly held by the top 1% of the 1%. For example, in 2017, 56% of Russian wealth was controlled by 1% of the population. The pseudopandemic of 2020–2022 particularly benefitted Russian billionnaires—as it did the billionaires of every other developed economy. According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2021, wealth inequality in Russia, measured using the Gini coefficient, was 87.8 in 2020. The only other major economy with a greater disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the population was Brazil. Just behind Brazil and Russia on the wealth inequality scale was the US, whose Gini coefficient stood at 85. In terms of wealth concentration however, the situation in Russia was the worst by a considerable margin. In 2020 the top 1% owned 58.2% of Russia’s wealth. This was more than 8 percentage points higher than Brazil’s wealth concentration, and significantly worse than wealth concentration in the US, which stood at 35.2% in 2020. Such disproportionate wealth distribution is conducive to creating and empowering oligarchs. But wealth alone doesn’t determine whether one is an oligarch. Wealth needs to be converted into political power for the term “oligarch” to be applicable. An oligarchy is defined as “a form of government in which supreme power is vested in a small exclusive class.” Members of this dominant class are installed through a variety of mechanisms. The British establishment, and particularly its political class, is dominated by men and women who were educated at Eton, Roedean, Harrow and St. Pauls, etc. This “small exclusive class” arguably constitutes a British oligarchy. The UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has been heralded by some because she is not a graduate of one of these select public schools. Educational privilege aside, though, the use of the word “oligarch” in the West more commonly refers to an internationalist class of globalists whose individual wealth sets them apart and who use that wealth to influence policy decisions. Bill Gates is a prime example of an oligarch. The former advisor to the UK Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, said as much during his testimony to a parliamentary committee on May 2021 (go to 14:02:35). As Cummings put it, Bill Gates and “that kind of network” had directed the UK government’s response to the supposed COVID-19 pandemic. Gates’ immense wealth has bought him direct access to political power beyond national borders. He has no public mandate in either the US or the UK. He is an oligarch—one of the more well known but far from the only one. CFR member David Rothkopf described these people as a “Superclass” with the ability to “influence the lives of millions across borders on a regular basis.” They do this, he said, by using their globalist “networks.” Those networks, as described by Antony C. Sutton, Dominic Cummings and others, act as “the force multiplier in any kind of power structure.” This “small exclusive class” use their wealth to control resources and thus policy. Political decisions, policy, court rulings and more are made at their behest. This point was highlighted in the joint letter sent by the Attorneys General (AGs) of 19 US states to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. The AGs observed that BlackRock was essentially using its investment strategy to pursue a political agenda: The Senators elected by the citizens of this country determine which international agreements have the force of law, not BlackRock. Their letter describes the theoretical model of representative democracy. Representative democracy is not a true democracy—which decentralises political power to the individual citizen—but is rather a system designed to centralise political control and authority. Inevitably, “representative democracy” leads to the consolidation of power in the hands of the so-called “Superclass” described by Rothkopf. There is nothing “super” about them. They are ordinary people who have acquired wealth primarily through conquest, usury, market rigging, political manipulation and slavery. “Parasite class” is a more befitting description. Not only do global investment firms like BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street use their immense resources to steer public policy, but their major shareholders include the very oligarchs who, via their contribution to various think tanks, create the global political agendas that determine policy in the first place. There is no space in this system of alleged “world order” for any genuine democratic oversight. As we shall see in Part 3, the levers of control are exerted to achieve exactly the same effect in Russia and China. Both countries have a gaggle of oligarchs whose objectives are firmly aligned with the WEF’s Great Reset agenda. They too work with their national government “partners” to ensure that they all arrive at the “right” policy decisions. US President Joe Biden, left, and CFR President Richard N. Haass, right. The United Nations’ Model of National Sovereignty Any bloc of nations that bids for dominance within the United Nations is seeking global hegemony. The UN enables global governance and centralises global political power and authority. In so doing, the UN empowers the international oligarchy. As noted previously, Article 2 of the United Nations Charter declares that the UN is “based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” The Charter then goes on to list the numerous ways in which nation-states are not equal. It also clarifies how they are all subservient to the UN Security Council. Despite all the UN’s claims of lofty principles—respect for national sovereignty and for alleged human rights—Article 2 declares that no nation-state can receive any assistance from another as long as the UN Security Council is forcing that nation-state to comply with its edicts. Even non-member states must abide by the Charter, whether they like it or not, by decree of the United Nations. The UN Charter is a paradox. Article 2.7 asserts that “nothing in the Charter” permits the UN to infringe the sovereignty of a nation-state—except when it does so through UN “enforcement measures.” The Charter states, apparently without reason, that all nation-states are “equal.” However, some nation-states are empowered by the Charter to be far more equal than others. While the UN’s General Assembly is supposedly a decision-making forum comprised of “equal” sovereign nations, Article 11 affords the General Assembly only the power to discuss “the general principles of co-operation.” In other words, it has no power to make any significant decisions. Article 12 dictates that the General Assembly can only resolve disputes if instructed to do so by the Security Council. The most important function of the UN, “the maintenance of international peace and security,” can only be dealt with by the Security Council. What the other members of the General Assembly think about the Security Council’s global “security” decisions is a practical irrelevance. Article 23 lays out which nation-states form the Security Council: The Security Council shall consist of fifteen Members of the United Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [Russian Federation], the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly shall elect ten other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council. [. . .] The non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected for a term of two years. The General Assembly is allowed to elect “non-permanent” members to the Security Council based upon criteria stipulated by the Security Council. Currently the “non-permanent” members are Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway and the United Arab Emirates. Article 24 proclaims that the Security Council has “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” and that all other nations agree that “the Security Council acts on their behalf.” The Security Council investigates and defines all alleged threats and recommends the procedures and adjustments for the supposed remedy. The Security Council dictates what further action, such as sanctions or the use of military force, shall be taken against any nation-state it considers to be a problem. Article 27 decrees that at least 9 of the 15 member states must be in agreement for a Security Council resolution to be enforced. All of the 5 permanent members must concur, and each has the power of veto. Any Security Council member, including permanent members, shall be excluded from the vote or use of its veto if they are party to the dispute in question. UN member states, by virtue of agreeing to the Charter, must provide armed forces at the Security Council’s request. In accordance with Article 47, military planning and operational objectives are the sole remit of the permanent Security Council members through their exclusive Military Staff Committee. If the permanent members are interested in the opinion of any other “sovereign” nation, they’ll ask it to provide one. The inequality inherent in the Charter could not be clearer. Article 44 notes that “when the Security Council has decided to use force” its only consultative obligation to the wider UN is to discuss the use of another member state’s armed forces where the Security Council has ordered that nation to fight. For a country that is a current member of the Security Council, use of its armed forces by the Military Staff Committee is a prerequisite for Council membership. The UN Secretary-General, identified as the “chief administrative officer” in the Charter, oversees the UN Secretariat. The Secretariat commissions, investigates and produces the reports that allegedly inform UN decision-making. The Secretariat staff members are appointed by the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General is “appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” Under the UN Charter, then, the Security Council is made king. This arrangement affords the governments of its permanent members—China, France, Russia, the UK and the US—considerable additional authority. There is nothing egalitarian about the UN Charter. The suggestion that the UN Charter constitutes a “defence” of “national sovereignty” is ridiculous. The UN Charter is the embodiment of the centralisation of global power and authority. UN Headquarters New York – Land Donated by the Rockefellers The United Nations’ Global Public-Private Partnership The UN was created, in no small measure, through the efforts of the private sector Rockefeller Foundation (RF). In particular, the RF’s comprehensive financial and operational support for the Economic, Financial and Transit Department (EFTD) of the League of Nations (LoN), and its considerable influence upon the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), made the RF the key player in the transformation of the LoN into the UN. The UN came into being as a result of public-private partnership. Since then, especially with regard to defence, financing, global health care and sustainable development, public-private partnerships have become dominant within the UN system. The UN is no longer an intergovernmental organisation, if it ever was one. It is a global collaboration between governments and a multinational infra-governmental network of private “stakeholders.” In 1998, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the World Economic Forum’s Davos symposium that a “quiet revolution” had occurred in the UN during the 1990s: [T]he United Nations has been transformed since we last met here in Davos. The Organization has undergone a complete overhaul that I have described as a “quiet revolution”. [. . .] [W]e are in a stronger position to work with business and industry. [. . .] The business of the United Nations involves the businesses of the world. [. . .] We also promote private sector development and foreign direct investment. We help countries to join the international trading system and enact business-friendly legislation. In 2005, the World Health Organisation (WHO), a specialised agency of the UN, published a report on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in healthcare titled Connecting for Health. Speaking about how “stakeholders” could introduce ICT healthcare solutions globally, the WHO noted: Governments can create an enabling environment, and invest in equity, access and innovation. The 2015, Adis Ababa Action Agenda conference on “financing for development” clarified the nature of an “enabling environment.” National governments from 193 UN nation-states committed their respective populations to funding public-private partnerships for sustainable development by collectively agreeing to create “an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development;” and “to further strengthen the framework to finance sustainable development.” In 2017, UN General Assembly Resolution 70/224 (A/Res/70/224) compelled UN member states to implement “concrete policies” that “enable” sustainable development. A/Res/70/224 added that the UN: [. . .] reaffirms the strong political commitment to address the challenge of financing and creating an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development [—] particularly with regard to developing partnerships through the provision of greater opportunities to the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society in general. In short, the “enabling environment” is a government, and therefore taxpayer, funding commitment to create markets for the private sector. Over the last few decades, successive Secretary-Generals have overseen the UN’s formal transition into a global public-private partnership (G3P). Nation-states do not have sovereignty over public-private partnerships. Sustainable development formally relegates government to the role of an “enabling” partner within a global network comprised of multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations and other actors. The “other actors” are predominantly the philanthropic foundations of individual billionaires and immensely wealthy family dynasties—that is, oligarchs. Effectively, then, the UN serves the interests of capital. Not only is it a mechanism for the centralisation of global political authority, it is committed to the development of global policy agendas that are “business-friendly.” That means Big Business-friendly. Such agendas may happen to coincide with the best interests of humanity, but where they don’t—which is largely the case—well, that’s just too bad for humanity. Kofi Annan (8 April 1938 – 18 August 2018) Global Governance On the 4th February 2022, a little less then three weeks prior to Russia launching its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping issued an important joint statement: The sides [Russian Federation and Chinese People’s Republic] strongly support the development of international cooperation and exchanges [. . .], actively participating in the relevant global governance process, [. . .] to ensure sustainable global development. [. . .] The international community should actively engage in global governance[.] [. . .] The sides reaffirmed their intention to strengthen foreign policy coordination, pursue true multilateralism, strengthen cooperation on multilateral platforms, defend common interests, support the international and regional balance of power, and improve global governance. [. . .] The sides call on all States [. . .] to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role, promote more democratic international relations, and ensure peace, stability and sustainable development across the world. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) defined “global governance” in its 2014 publication Global Governance and the Global Rules For Development in the Post 2015 Era: Global governance encompasses the totality of institutions, policies, norms, procedures and initiatives through which States and their citizens try to bring more predictability, stability and order to their responses to transnational challenges. Global governance centralises control over the entire sphere of international relations. It inevitably erodes a nation’s ability to set foreign policy. As a theoretical protection against global instability, this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but in practice it neither enhances nor “protects” national sovereignty. Domination of the global governance system by one group of powerful nation-states represents possibly the most dangerous and destabilising force of all. It allows those nations to act with impunity, regardless of any pretensions about honouring alleged “international law.” Global governance also significantly curtails the independence of a nation-state’s domestic policy. For example, the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda 21, with the near-time Agenda 2030 serving as a waypoint, impacts nearly all national domestic policy—even setting the course for most domestic policy—in every country. National electorates’ oversight of this “totality” of UN policies is weak to nonexistent. Global governance renders so-called “representative democracy” little more than a vacuous sound-bite. As the UN is a global public-private partnership (UN-G3P), global governance allows the “multi-stakeholder partnership”—and therefore oligarchs—significant influence over member nation-states’ domestic and foreign policy. Set in this context, the UN-DESA report (see above) provides a frank appraisal of the true nature of UN-G3P global governance: Current approaches to global governance and global rules have led to a greater shrinking of policy space for national Governments [. . . ]; this also impedes the reduction of inequalities within countries. [. . .] Global governance has become a domain with many different players including: multilateral organizations; [. . .] elite multilateral groupings such as the Group of Eight (G8) and the Group of Twenty (G20) [and] different coalitions relevant to specific policy subjects[.] [. . .] Also included are activities of the private sector (e.g., the Global Compact) non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and large philanthropic foundations (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Turner Foundation) and associated global funds to address particular issues[.] [. . .] The representativeness, opportunities for participation, and transparency of many of the main actors are open to question. [. . .] NGOs [. . .] often have governance structures that are not subject to open and democratic accountability. The lack of representativeness, accountability and transparency of corporations is even more important as corporations have more power and are currently promoting multi-stakeholder governance with a leading role for the private sector. [. . .] Currently, it seems that the United Nations has not been able to provide direction in the solution of global governance problems—perhaps lacking appropriate resources or authority, or both. United Nations bodies, with the exception of the Security Council, cannot make binding decisions. A/Res/73/254 declares that the UN Global Compact Office plays a vital role in “strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to partner strategically with the private sector.” It adds: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges that the implementation of sustainable development will depend on the active engagement of both the public and private sectors[.] While the Attorneys General of 19 states might rail against BlackRock for usurping the political authority of US senators, BlackRock is simply exercising its power as valued a “public-private partner” of the US government. Such is the nature of global governance. Given that this system has been constructed over the last 80 years, it’s a bit too late for 19 state AGs to complain about it now. What have they been doing for the last eight decades? The governmental “partners” of the UN-G3P lack “authority” because the UN was created, largely by the Rockefellers, as a public-private partnership. The intergovernmental structure is the partner of the infra-governmental network of private stakeholders. In terms of resources, the power of the private sector “partners” dwarfs that of their government counterparts. Corporate fiefdoms are not limited by national borders. BlackRock alone currently holds $8.5 trillion of assets under management. This is nearly five times the size of the total GDP of UN Security Council permanent member Russia and more than three times the GDP of the UK. So-called sovereign countries are not sovereign over their own central banks nor are they “sovereign” over international financial institutions like the IMF, the New Development Bank (NDB), the World Bank or the Bank for International Settlements. The notion that any nation state or intergovernmental organisation is capable of bringing the global network of private capital to heel is farcical. At the COP26 Conference in Glasgow in 2021, King Charles III—then Prince Charles—prepared the conference to endorse the forthcoming announcement of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). He made it abundantly clear who was in charge and, in keeping with UN objectives, clarified national governments role as “enabling partners”: The scale and scope of the threat we face call for a global systems level solution based on radically transforming our current fossil fuel based economy. [. . .] So ladies and gentleman, my plea today is for countries to come together to create the environment that enables every sector of industry to take the action required. We know this will take trillions, not billions of dollars. [. . .] [W]e need a vast military style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector, with trillions at [its] disposal far beyond global GDP, and with the greatest respect, beyond even the governments of the world’s leaders. It offers the only real prospect of achieving fundamental economic transition. Unless Putin and Xi Jinping intend to completely restructure the United Nations, including all of its institutions and specialised agencies, their objective of protecting “the United Nations-driven international architecture” appears to be nothing more than a bid to cement their status as the nominal leaders of the UN-G3P. As pointed out by UN-DESA, through the UN-G3P, that claim to political authority is extremely limited. Global corporations dominate and are currently further consolidating their global power through “multi-stakeholder governance.” Whether unipolar or multipolar, the so-called “world order” is the system of global governance led by the private sector—the oligarchs. Nation-states, including Russia and China, have already agreed to follow global priorities determined at the global governance level. The question is not which model of the global public-private “world order” we should accept, but rather why we would ever accept any such “world order” at all. This, then, is the context within which we can explore the alleged advantages of a “multipolar world order” led by China, Russia and increasingly India. Is it an attempt, as claimed by some, to reinvigorate the United Nations and create a more just and equitable system of global governance? Or is it merely the next phase in the construction of what many refer to as the “New World Order”? Tyler Durden Sat, 09/24/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2022

A small war in Central Asia is a big problem for Joe Biden"s narrative about taking on Russia and China

Opinion: A recent clash in the Caucasus shows the folly of basing US foreign policy on a division between "good" democracies and "bad" autocracies. President Joe Biden boards Marine One at the White House on July 20.Drew Angerer/Getty Images Azerbaijan reignited a longstanding conflict with Armenia last week. The two countries are part of a web of partnerships with Russia and its Western rivals. Those overlapping relationships show the folly of basing US policy on "good" democracies vs. "bad" autocracies. Azerbaijan began shelling positions across its border with Armenia last week, reigniting a longstanding conflict between the two countries.Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought multiple wars over the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a primarily Armenian ethnic enclave within Azerbaijan that Armenia recognizes as a separate republic called Artsakh, and with which Armenia has long desired unification.An Armenian victory in the early 1990s gave it control over Nagorno-Karabakh and a large corridor of Azerbaijani territory linking it to Armenia proper, but a war in 2020 resulted in a decisive Azeri victory that reestablished Azerbaijan's control over the disputed territories.The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is only one part of a broader geopolitical contest, however.Azerbaijani troops in the city of Lachin on September 1.Resul Rehimov/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesWhile Armenia and Azerbaijan both have warm relations with Russia, Armenia has a security agreement with Russia as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an alliance of six post-Soviet states in Central Asia.Azerbaijan, on the other hand, whose population is primarily ethnically and linguistically Turkic and religiously Muslim, enjoys firm support from Turkey.Turkey and Armenia have long been at odds, and the shadow of the Ottoman genocide of Armenians in 1915 continues to fall over relations between the neighboring countries.In recent years, Ankara has sought an independent course with Moscow, despite being a NATO member. On the one hand, Erdogan has sought to maintain cordial relations with Putin, particularly in the wake of a failed 2016 coup which raised suspicions in Ankara about the West's complicity. More recently, Erdogan has acted as a diplomatic broker in the Ukraine war and has bucked Western sanctions by purchasing Russian military hardware.On the other hand, Turkey and Russia compete for influence over the states surrounding the Caspian Sea, a region which both Moscow and Ankara view as a rightful inheritance of their imperial legacy. Russia and Turkey also backed opposite sides during the brutal Syrian civil war, culminating in a momentary international crisis following the Turkish downing of a Russian fighter jet in 2015.Relatives of Armenia troops wounded in clashes with Azerbaijan at a military hospital in Yerevan, on September 13.KAREN MINASYAN/AFP via Getty ImagesIt is probable that the timing of the most recent flare-up between Armenia and Azerbaijan was not coincidental.Azerbaijan was likely emboldened to launch the recent attack on Armenia by the successful Ukrainian counteroffensive around Kharkiv and Russia's generally poor performance during the Ukraine war.Armenia's devastating defeat in 2020 led analysts to conclude that Russian-supplied equipment was ineffective in combating advanced drone technology supplied to Azerbaijan by Turkey and Israel, while the Atlantic Council interpreted Russia's unwillingness to intervene directly on Armenia's behalf as a sign of underlying weakness.The US has characterized its competition with Russia and China as a battle between democracy and autocracy for the future of the "rules-based international order." But the not-so-frozen Azeri-Armenian conflict provides an ironic counterpoint, belying the narrative that Putin is primarily motivated by a fear of democracies or popular revolutions among Russia's neighbors.Armenia, a small democracy that underwent a revolution in 2018, has mainly been backed by Russia and Iran, while Azerbaijan, a dynastic dictatorship with much greater wealth and population, has been consistently supported by both NATO-member Turkey and Israel, which claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East.Azerbaijani troops in Lachin on September 1.Resul Rehimov/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesThe ironies don't end there. Armenian-Americans have a potent lobby in the US based in congressional districts like California's 28th, home to Rep. Adam Schiff, who, among other roles, is the vice-chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus and has been awarded the State Order by the Armenian government.Schiff made a national name for himself as the ranking member of the House Select Intelligence Committee, and one of the most public faces of the "Russiagate" investigation that contributed towards souring US-Russian relations.During the first impeachment of Trump in January 2020, Schiff stated that "the United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there and we don't have to fight Russia here." Yet in the wake of Russia's setback in Ukraine, Azerbaijan's attack on Armenia drew swift condemnation from Schiff, who has introduced legislation to halt US aid to Azerbaijan.The complex politics of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict demonstrate the folly of conducting US foreign policy according to a Manichean division between "good" democracies and "bad" autocracies. They also highlight the fact that a military alliance like NATO does not necessarily equal a permanent harmony of interests between all its members.Finally, as Russia totters from its failures on the battlefield in Ukraine, and as renewed tensions flare between other post-Soviet states like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, it is worth considering what the unintended consequences of a destabilized Russia might be for its Eurasian neighbors.Christopher McCallion is a fellow at Defense Priorities.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 22nd, 2022

Pilger: Silencing The Lambs - How Propaganda Works

Pilger: Silencing The Lambs - How Propaganda Works Authored by John Pilger via ConsortiumNews.com, In the 1970s, I met one of Hitler’s leading propagandists, Leni Riefenstahl, whose epic films glorified the Nazis. We happened to be staying at the same lodge in Kenya, where she was on a photography assignment, having escaped the fate of other friends of the Fuhrer. She told me that the “patriotic messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above” but on what she called the “submissive void” of the German public. Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? I asked.  “Yes, especially them,” she said.  I think of this as I look around at the propaganda now consuming Western societies.  Of course, we are very different from Germany in the 1930s. We live in information societies. We are globalists. We have never been more aware, more in touch, better connected.  Leni Riefenstahl, center, filming with two assistants, 1936. (Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons) Or do we in the West live in a Media Society where brainwashing is insidious and relentless, and perception is filtered according to the needs and lies of state and corporate power?  The United States dominates the Western world’s media. All but one of the top 10 media companies are based in North America. The internet and social media – Google, Twitter, Facebook – are mostly American owned and controlled. In my lifetime, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, mostly democracies. It has interfered in democratic elections in 30 countries. It has dropped bombs on the people of 30 countries, most of them poor and defenceless. It has attempted to murder the leaders of 50 countries.  It has fought to suppress liberation movements in 20 countries.  The extent and scale of this carnage is largely unreported, unrecognised, and those responsible continue to dominate Anglo-American political life. Harold Pinter Broke the Silence In the years before he died in 2008, the playwright Harold Pinter made two extraordinary speeches, which broke a silence. “U.S. foreign policy,” he said, is “best defined as follows: kiss my arse or I’ll kick your head in. It is as simple and as crude as that. What is interesting about it is that it’s so incredibly successful. It possesses the structures of disinformation, use of rhetoric, distortion of language, which are very persuasive, but are actually a pack of lies. It is very successful propaganda. They have the money, they have the technology, they have all the means to get away with it, and they do.” In accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature, Pinter said this:  “The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.” Pinter was a friend of mine and possibly the last great political sage – that is, before dissenting politics were gentrified. I asked him if the “hypnosis” he referred to was the “submissive void” described by Leni Riefenstahl.  “It’s the same,” he replied. “It means the brainwashing is so thorough we are programmed to swallow a pack of lies. If we don’t recognise propaganda, we may accept it as normal and believe it. That’s the submissive void.” Leni Riefenstahl and a camera crew stand in front of Hitler’s car during 1934 rally in Nuremberg. (Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons) In our systems of corporate democracy, war is an economic necessity, the perfect marriage of public subsidy and private profit: socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor. The day after 9/11 the stock prices of the war industry soared. More bloodshed was coming, which is great for business. Today, the most profitable wars have their own brand. They are called “forever wars” — Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and now Ukraine. All are based on a pack of lies. Iraq is the most infamous, with its weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. NATO’s destruction of Libya in 2011 was justified by a massacre in Benghazi that didn’t happen. Afghanistan was a convenient revenge war for 9/11, which had nothing to do with the people of Afghanistan.  Today, the news from Afghanistan is how evil the Taliban are —not that U.S. President Joe Biden’s theft of $7 billion of the country’s bank reserves is causing widespread suffering. Recently, National Public Radio in Washington devoted two hours to Afghanistan — and 30 seconds to its starving people. At its summit in Madrid in June, NATO, which is controlled by the United States, adopted a strategy document that militarises the European continent, and escalates the prospect of war with Russia and China. It proposes “multi domain warfighting against nuclear-armed peer-competitor.” In other words, nuclear war. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Spain’s Prime Minster Pedro Sánchez on June 28 in Madrid. (NATO) It says: “NATO’s enlargement has been an historic success.”  I read that in disbelief.  The news from the war in Ukraine is mostly not news, but a one-sided litany of jingoism, distortion, omission.  I have reported a number of wars and have never known such blanket propaganda.  In February, Russia invaded Ukraine as a response to almost eight years of killing and criminal destruction in the Russian-speaking region of Donbass on their border.  In 2014, the United States had sponsored a coup in Kiev that got rid of Ukraine’s democratically elected, Russian-friendly president and installed a successor whom the Americans made clear was their man.  Dec. 7, 2015: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv, Flickr) In recent years, American “defender” missiles have been installed in eastern Europe, Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, almost certainly aimed at Russia, accompanied by false assurances all the way back to James Baker’s “promise” to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in February 1990 that NATO would never expand beyond Germany.  NATO on Hitler’s Borderline Ukraine is the frontline. NATO has effectively reached the very borderland through which Hitler’s army stormed in 1941, leaving more than 23 million dead in the Soviet Union.  Last December, Russia proposed a far-reaching security plan for Europe. This was dismissed, derided or suppressed in the Western media. Who read its step-by-step proposals? On Feb. 24, President Volodymyr Zelensky threatened to develop nuclear weapons unless America armed and protected Ukraine.   On the same day, Russia invaded — an unprovoked act of congenital infamy, according to the Western media. The history, the lies, the peace proposals, the solemn agreements on Donbass at Minsk counted for nothing. On April 25, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin flew into Kiev and confirmed that America’s aim was to destroy the Russian Federation — the word he used was “weaken.” America had got the war it wanted, waged by an American bankrolled and armed proxy and expendable pawn. Almost none of this was explained to Western audiences. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is wanton and inexcusable. It is a crime to invade a sovereign country. There are no “buts” — except one. When did the present war in Ukraine begin and who started it? According to the United Nations, between 2014 and this year, some 14,000 people have been killed in the Kiev regime’s civil war on the Donbass. Many of the attacks were carried out by neo-Nazis.  Watch an ITV news report from May 2014, by the veteran reporter James Mates, who is shelled, along with civilians in the city of Mariupol, by Ukraine’s Azov (neo-Nazi) battalion. In the same month, dozens of Russian-speaking people were burned alive or suffocated in a trade union building in Odessa besieged by fascist thugs, the followers of the Nazi collaborator and anti-Semitic fanatic Stepan Bandera.  The New York Times called the thugs “nationalists.” “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment,” said Andreiy Biletsky, founder of the Azov Battaltion, “is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival, a crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.” Since February, a campaign of self-appointed “news monitors” (mostly funded by the Americans and British with links to governments) have sought to maintain the absurdity that Ukraine’s neo-Nazis don’t exist.  Airbrushing, once associated with Stalin’s purges, has become a tool of mainstream journalism. In less than a decade, a “good” China has been airbrushed and a “bad” China has replaced it: from the world’s workshop to a budding new Satan.   Much of this propaganda originates in the U.S., and is transmitted through proxies and “think-tanks,” such as the notorious Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the voice of the arms industry, and by journalists such as Peter Hartcher of The Sydney Morning Herald, who has labeled those spreading Chinese influence as “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows” and suggested these “pests” be “eradicated.”  Andriy Beletsky, commanding officer of the special Ukrainian neo-Nazi police regiment Azov, with volunteers in 2014. (My News24, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons) News about China in the West is almost entirely about the threat from Beijing. Airbrushed are the 400 American military bases that surround most of China, an armed necklace that reaches from Australia to the Pacific and south east Asia, Japan and Korea. The Japanese island of Okinawa and the Korean island of Jeju are like loaded guns aimed point blank at the industrial heart of China. A Pentagon official described this as a “noose.” Palestine has been misreported for as long as I can remember. To the BBC, there is the “conflict” of “two narratives.” The longest, most brutal, lawless military occupation in modern times is unmentionable.  The stricken people of Yemen barely exist. They are media unpeople.  While the Saudis rain down their American cluster bombs with British advisers working alongside the Saudi targeting officers, more than half a million children face starvation. This brainwashing by omission is not new. The slaughter of the First World War was suppressed by reporters who were given knighthoods for their compliance.  In 1917, the editor of The Manchester Guardian, C.P. Scott, confided to Prime Minister Lloyd George: “If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow, but they don’t know and can’t know.” The refusal to see people and events as those in other countries see them is a media virus in the West, as debilitating as Covid.  It is as if we see the world through a one-way mirror, in which “we” are moral and benign and “they” are not. It is a profoundly imperial view. The history that is a living presence in China and Russia is rarely explained and rarely understood. Vladimir Putin is Adolf Hitler. Xi Jinping is Fu Man Chu. Epic achievements, such as the eradication of abject poverty in China, are barely known. How perverse and squalid this is. When will we allow ourselves to understand? Training journalists factory style is not the answer. Neither is the wondrous digital tool, which is a means, not an end, like the one-finger typewriter and the linotype machine. In recent years, some of the best journalists have been eased out of the mainstream. “Defenestrated” is the word used. The spaces once open to mavericks, to journalists who went against the grain, truth-tellers, have closed.   Julian Assange in 2014. (David G Silvers, Wikimedia Commons) The case of Julian Assange is the most shocking.  When Julian and WikiLeaks could win readers and prizes for The Guardian, The New York Times and other self-important “papers of record,” he was celebrated.  When the dark state objected and demanded the destruction of hard drives and the assassination of Julian’s character, he was made a public enemy. Vice President Joe Biden compared him to a “hi-tech terrorist.” Hillary Clinton asked, “Can’t we just drone this guy?”  The ensuing campaign of abuse and vilification against Julian Assange — the U.N. rapporteur on torture called it “mobbing” — brought the liberal press to its lowest ebb. We know who they are. I think of them as collaborators: as Vichy journalists.  When will real journalists stand up? An inspirational samizdat  already exists on the internet: Consortium News, founded by the great reporter Robert Parry, Max Blumenthal’s  The Grayzone, Mint Press News, Media Lens, DeclassifiedUK, Alborada, Electronic Intifada, WSWS, ZNet, ICH, CounterPunch, Independent Australia, the work of Chris Hedges, Patrick Lawrence, Jonathan Cook, Diana Johnstone, Caitlin Johnstone and others who will forgive me for not mentioning them here.  And when will writers stand up, as they did against the rise of fascism in the 1930s? When will film-makers stand up, as they did against the Cold War in the 1940s? When will satirists stand up, as they did a generation ago?  Having soaked for 82 years in a deep bath of righteousness that is the official version of the last world war, isn’t it time those who are meant to keep the record straight declared their independence and decoded the propaganda? The urgency is greater than ever. *  *  * John Pilger has twice won Britain’s highest award for journalism and has been International Reporter of the Year, News Reporter of the Year and Descriptive Writer of the Year. He has made 61 documentary films and has won an Emmy, a BAFTA and the Royal Television Society prize. His ‘Cambodia Year Zero’ is named as one of the ten most important films of the 20th century. He can be contacted at www.johnpilger.com The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of ZeroHedge or Consortium News. Tyler Durden Sun, 09/11/2022 - 23:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 12th, 2022

Three Words That Describe The Russo-Ukrainian War

Three Words That Describe The Russo-Ukrainian War Authored by Jim Fitzgerald via AntiWar.com, There is a single word that is best suited to describe the position of Moscow, Washington, and Kyiv regarding the Russo-Ukrainian war – intractable. Six months into to the war and it appears that nothing can be done to bring these parties to the negotiating table. All three governments remain as thoroughly entrenched in their all-or-nothing positions, and it appears that they are unlikely to change their minds any time soon. Another term, however, must be used to explain the less enthusiastic attitudes of the European states. Their position seems to be one of resignation. They appear resigned to the fates that are inescapably leading them down the path of economic and political devastation. Washington has effectively bullied most of the European countries into going along to get along. The resignation in the voice of Emmanuel Macron last week was palpable as he delivered his first cabinet speech after the summer break. Macron declared that France was at a "tipping point," and the country had come to the end of "an era of abundance." The whole speech was a somber and sad affair. According to Macron, the drought, the fires, the storms, and the war were bringing France and Europe to the brink. Macron said that his first duty was to speak "frankly" without "doom-mongering." Regardless of his intent to do otherwise, his speech contained enough doom and gloom to bring the morale of the French people to an all-time low. A Ukrainian serviceman in Donetsk oblast, via AP. Moreover, this rather foreboding sense of doom seems to capture the sentiment of Europe as a whole. There are a few exceptions such as Hungary who has decided against sanctions in favor of its own national interests. A bold move by Viktor Orbán that many leaders in Europe may soon regret they did not follow. We don’t often hear much about what the rest of the world thinks concerning this conflict. Perhaps it’s best described as bewilderment. It is difficult to even begin to explain the perplexity much of the world feels towards this most unnecessary of all wars. It is notable that the antiwar populations in these countries and regions are far more numerous than the pro-war countries in North America and Europe. India, Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Hungary all refuse to pick sides in this conflict. This is also true of most of the countries in the Asian Pacific and the Global South. It appears the world never wanted this war. And if we are honest, neither Russia nor Ukraine really wanted this war either. As Senator Richard Black (R) of Virginia has said, "The decision for war was made in Washington, the decision to attack was made in Russia. But once we made the decision to go to war, the decision to attack was inevitable." The decision for peace, however, is not inevitable. America and Russia are apparently willing to sacrifice Ukraine in order to achieve their own geostrategic objectives. And contrary to conventional wisdom, a war of attrition favors Russia, not America and NATO member countries. As Jeffery Sachs has observed, in recent history wars seldom end with an outright victory of one side over another. It is much more common for wars to evolve into wars of attrition, or to end in a frozen conflict or some sort of negotiated peace. The latter being much more desirable for the world than the former options. But what would a negotiated peace look like? Sachs’ has suggested an outline of the best case scenario at this point in the war. Wild footage of Ukrainian Humvees storming a Russian-occupied village, intense heavy machine gun fire and infantry dismountingpic.twitter.com/Q7gWYHpqn7 — Cᴀʟɪʙʀᴇ Oʙsᴄᴜʀᴀ (@CalibreObscura) September 8, 2022 Russia has already issued its terms for peace: Ukrainian neutrality, Russian sovereignty over the Crimea, and recognition of the independence of pro-Russian separatist regions in Luhansk and Donetsk. Sachs’ offers a reasonable counter by Ukraine: Ukraine should accept neutrality as a prudent course with certain guarantees, Crimea should be ceded to Russia de facto but not de jure, and Ukraine should grant autonomy to the breakaway Donbas regions as outlined in the 2015 Minsk II agreement while rejecting demands for outright independence. In addition, a negotiated peace should include provisions committing all parties to rebuilding Ukraine, including part of the Russian assets currently frozen by the international community. Beyond this proposal, or one’s similar to it, there are few prospects for resolving this conflict in a peaceful way. The imprudent and unrealistic idea held by the US and NATO that they can somehow weaken Russia to the point of forcing Moscow to withdraw, or inflict so much harm on Russia that the political tide may somehow turn against Putin at home, may well see all of Ukraine destroyed. The US and NATO must quickly come to grips with the failure of its policy, change course, develop terms for peace, and convince Kyiv to sue for peace immediately. Otherwise, we will continue to witness the slow, steady, and painful destruction of Ukraine city by city, and town by town. Tyler Durden Fri, 09/09/2022 - 05:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 9th, 2022

Hedges: Stop Pretending US Is A Functioning Democracy

Hedges: Stop Pretending US Is A Functioning Democracy Authored by Chris Hedges via Scherpost.com, There are no institutions, including the press, an electoral system, the imperial presidency, the courts or the penal system, that can be defined as democratic. Only the fiction of democracy remains. End Game. (Mr. Fish) There is a fatal disconnect between a political system that promises democratic equality and freedom while carrying out socioeconomic injustices that result in grotesque income inequality and political stagnation. Decades in the making, this disconnect has extinguished American democracy. The steady stripping away of economic and political power was ignored by a hyperventilating press that thundered against the barbarians at the gate — Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, ISIS, Vladimir Putin — while ignoring the barbarians in our midst. The slow-motion coup is over. Corporations and the billionaire class have won. There are no institutions, including the press, an electoral system that is little more than legalized bribery, the imperial presidency, the courts or the penal system, that can be defined as democratic. Only the fiction of democracy remains. The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin in Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism calls the U.S. system “inverted totalitarianism.” The façade of democratic institutions and the rhetoric, symbols and iconography of state power have not changed. The Constitution remains a sacred document. Collective Self-Delusion July 4, 2019, Washington, D.C. (Joe Lauria) The U.S. continues to posit itself as a champion of opportunity, freedom, human rights and civil liberties, even as half the country struggles at subsistence level, militarized police gun down and imprison the poor with impunity, and the primary business of the state is war.  This collective self-delusion masks what America has become — a nation where the citizenry has been stripped of economic and political power and where the brutal militarism practiced overseas is practiced at home. In classical totalitarian regimes, such as Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union, economics was subordinate to politics. But under inverted totalitarianism, the reverse is true. There is no attempt, unlike fascism and state socialism, to address the needs of the poor. Rather, the poorer and more vulnerable you are, the more you are exploited, thrust into a hellish debt peonage from which there is no escape. Social services, from education to health care, are anemic, nonexistent or privatized to gouge the impoverished. Further ravaged by 8.5 percent inflation, wages have decelerated sharply since 1979. Jobs often do not offer benefits or security. [You can watch an interview I conducted in 2014 with Sheldon Wolin here.] In my book America: The Farewell Tour, I examined the social indicators of a nation in serious trouble. Life expectancy in the U.S. fell in 2021, for the second year in a row. There have been over 300 mass shootings this year. Close to a million people have died from drug overdoses since 1999. There are an average of 132 suicides every day. Nearly 42 percent of  the country is classified as obese, with one in 11 adults considered severely obese. These diseases of despair are rooted in the disconnect between a society’s expectations of a better future and the reality of a system that does not provide a meaningful place for its citizens. Loss of a sustainable income and social stagnation causes more than financial distress. Diseased Society Evicted from their homes, Seattle. (Joe Lauria) As Émile Durkheim points out in The Division of Labor in Society, it severs the social bonds that give us meaning. A decline in status and power, an inability to advance, a lack of education and adequate health care, and a loss of hope result in crippling forms of humiliation. This humiliation fuels loneliness, frustration, anger and feelings of worthlessness.  In Hitler and the Germans, the political philosopher Eric Voegelin dismisses the idea that Hitler — gifted in oratory and political opportunism but poorly educated and vulgar — mesmerized and seduced the German people. The Germans, he writes, supported Hitler and the “grotesque, marginal figures” surrounding him because he embodied the pathologies of a diseased society, one beset by economic collapse and hopelessness. Voegelin defines stupidity as a “loss of reality.” The loss of reality means a “stupid” person cannot “rightly orient his action in the world, in which he lives.” The demagogue, who is always an idiote, is not a freak or social mutation. The demagogue expresses the society’s zeitgeist. The acceleration of deindustrialization by the 1970s, as I write in America, The Farewell Tour, created a crisis that forced the ruling elites to devise a new political paradigm, as Stuart Hall explains in Policing the Crisis. Trumpeted by a compliant media, this paradigm shifted its focus from the common good to race, crime and law and order.  It told those undergoing profound economic and political change that their suffering stemmed not from rampant militarism and corporate greed but from a threat to national integrity. The old consensus that buttressed New Deal programs and the welfare state was attacked as enabling criminal Black youth, “welfare queens” and other alleged social parasites. This opened the door to a faux populism, begun by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, which supposedly championed family values, traditional morality, individual autonomy, law and order, the Christian faith and the return to a mythical past, at least for white Americans. The Democratic Party, especially under Bill Clinton, moved steadily to the right until it became largely indistinguishable from the establishment Republican Party to which it is now allied. Donald Trump, and the 74 million people who voted for him in 2020, were the result. Political Theater Biden speaks in Philadelphia. (White House Photo) It will do no good, as Biden did on Thursday in Philadelphia, to demonize Trump and his supporters in the way they demonize Biden and the Democrats. Biden, raising clenched fists, backlit by Stygian red lights and flanked by two U.S. Marines in dress uniforms, announced from his Dantesque stage set that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”  Trump called the speech the most “vicious, hateful and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president” and attacked Biden as “an enemy of the state.”  Biden’s frontal assault widens the divide. It solidifies a system where voters do not vote for what they want, since neither side delivers anything of substance, but against what they despise. Biden did not address our socioeconomic crisis or offer solutions. It was political theater. Anti-politics masquerades as politics. No sooner does one money-drenched election cycle end, the next one begins, perpetuating what Wolin calls “politics without politics.” These elections do not permit citizens to participate in power. The public is allowed to voice opinions to scripted questions, which are repackaged by publicists, pollsters, political consultants and advertisers and fed back to them. Few races, including only 14 percent of congres­sional districts, are considered competitive. Politicians do not campaign on substantial issues but on skillfully manufactured political personalities and emotionally charged culture wars.  Omnipotence  The Pentagon. (Joe Lauria) The militarists, who have created a state within a state and who plunge us into one military debacle after another, consuming half of all discretionary spending, are omnipotent. The corporations and billionaires, which orchestrated a virtual tax boycott and gutted regulation and oversight, are omnipotent. The industrialists who wrote trade deals to profit from unemployment and underemployment of U.S. workers and sweatshop labor overseas are omnipotent. The insurance and pharmaceutical industries that run the healthcare system, whose primary concern is profit not health and who are responsible for 16 percent of the worldwide reported deaths from COVID-19 although we are less than 5 percent of the global population, are omnipotent. The intelligence agencies that carry out wholesale surveillance of the public are omnipotent. The courts that reinterpret laws to strip them of their original meaning to ensure corporate control and excuse corporate crimes, are omnipotent. The courts gave us Citizens United, for example, which permits unlimited corporate financing of elections by claiming it upholds the right to petition the government and is a form of free speech. Spectacle July 4, 2019, parade in Washington, D.C. (Joe Lauria) Politics is spectacle, a tawdry carnival act where the constant jockeying for power by the ruling class dominates the news cycles, as if politics were a race to the Super Bowl. The real business of ruling is hidden, carried out by corporate lobbyists who write the legislation, banks that loot the Treasury, the war industry and an oligarchy that determines who gets elected and who does not. It is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, the fossil fuel industry or Raytheon, no matter which party is in office. The moment any segment of the population, left or right, refuses to participate in this illusion, the face of inverted totalitarianism resembles the face of classical totalitarianism, as Julian Assange is experiencing. Our corporate overlords and militarists prefer the decorum of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. But they worked closely with Trump and are willing to do so again. What they will not allow are reformers such as Bernie Sanders, who might challenge, however tepidly, their obscene accumulation of wealth and power. This inability to reform, to restore democratic participation and address social inequality, means the inevitable death of the republic. Biden and the Democrats rail against the cultish Republican Party and their threat to democracy, but they too are the problem. *  *  * Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, “The Chris Hedges Report.” This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular column. Click here to sign up for email alerts. Tyler Durden Wed, 09/07/2022 - 22:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 8th, 2022

Welcome To The "Say Nothing" Phase Of This "Fourth Turning"

Welcome To The "Say Nothing" Phase Of This 'Fourth Turning' Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog, ‘Whatever you say, say nothing.’ – Old Irish Phrase “God made the Catholics, but the Armalite made them equal.” ― Patrick Radden Keefe It has become clear to me, since the installation of dementia patient Biden as the illegitimate figurehead president by his globalist Deep State handlers, their agenda is to tear down our modern civilization and replace it with a totalitarian techno-gulag where you will be electronically monitored, disarmed, own nothing, be judged by social credit score, live in fear, and be happy – or else. I’ve been pondering in which direction this Fourth Turning will flow, while observing the words and actions of our pedophile president and the other World Economic Forum puppets like Trudeau, Macron, and a myriad of other EU lackeys. I intellectually understand all Fourth Turnings reach their climax after immense bloodshed, climactic battles which could have gone either way, and in some cases saw citizens slaughtering fellow citizens. But I have tried to avoid thinking about the reality of what is likely to happen over the next five to ten years, as this Crisis turns from rhetoric and debate to violence and death. Keyboard warriors will yield to real warriors. After reading Patrick Radden Keefe’s – Say Nothing – a fascinating tale of the brutal violence which lasted for three decades from the 1960’s through the 1990’s in Northern Ireland, I’ve come to the realization of what civil war might look like here in America. In reality, the conflict in Ireland between the Catholics and Protestants dated back centuries. “In 1689, Protestant forces loyal to William of Orange, the new king, had managed to hold the city against a siege by a Catholic army loyal to James II.” ― Patrick Radden Keefe The vitriolic discord and purposeful fracturing of our shared societal values, which have bound this nation since its inception, has situated the country in an 1860 moment, a veritable powder keg with a lit fuse. The country has been gravely splintered for at least two decades, but the fissure has expanded at an accelerated velocity since the unanticipated election of Donald Trump in 2016. The rule of law no longer exists. A four-year coup against Trump, with Clinton, Obama, DOJ, CIA, FBI, Congress, Judiciary, legacy media, and social media titans as co-conspirators, has now devolved into an Orwellian police state, with the Constitution trashed and government tyranny reaching unthinkable heights. The third world totalitarian tactics being used by Biden’s handlers to destroy the opposition party and its leader is being cheered on by the left and their media mouthpieces. Biden’s diabolically dark, hateful speech, with satanic blood red background, on the sacred ground where our Founding Fathers declared our independence from a tyrannical despot, appears to be the spark which will ignite real violence in the coming years. The simmering hatred between the left and right has been rising towards a boiling point since the 2016 election. Everything Biden and his Obama handlers have done since his installation as president in the rigged 2020 election has been designed to sow discord, create chaos, and tear apart the fabric of this country. Authoritarian despots always accuse the opposition of crimes they themselves are guilty of having committed. When you control the levers of power and the propaganda machine known as the media, you can literally flaunt the laws of the land and persecute those who disagree or fail to comply with your dictates. Elevating a protest by a few goofballs who were lured into the Capital by undercover FBI plants (Ray Epps) as an armed insurrection (with no arms), has been a pitiful display of partisanship and failed to accomplish the task of having Trump charged with a crime. This after two failed impeachment attempts based on actual crimes committed by the Biden crime family. With the approach of the November midterms, Covid fear being replaced by vaxx injury outrage, inflation raging at 17% (the way it was measured in 1980), a recession in progress, layoffs beginning to ramp up, stock market falling, Russia sanctions only hurting the American and European working class, and Biden’s approval rating at 38%, the globalist Deep State invisible government have decided it’s time for some civil chaos to further their New World Order agenda. It all began with pitting those who chose to let their immune systems do their jobs and/or using safe effective cheap treatments like ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, zinc/quercetin, and vitamin D, against Fauci, Biden and their Big Pharma benefactors forcing an untested, dangerous, experimental gene therapy into the bodies of every human on the planet. They lied about its effectiveness, spike protein remaining confined in arms, safety, immunity power, and length of efficacy. They colluded with Twitter, Facebook, and Google to censor and suppress the truth about the vaccines, doctors with contrary opinions, and the safe effective alternatives. All done to enrich Big Pharma, who paid off politicians, doctors, hospitals, and a plethora of apparatchiks willing to sell their souls and sacrifice lives for the almighty buck. When Biden and his handlers decided to scapegoat and vilify those who chose to not become guinea pigs in the unwarranted vaccine war against a relatively non-lethal flu (unless you were 85 years old and/or extremely obese), knowing his national vaccine mandate was un-Constitutional and unenforceable, those with critical thinking skills could see the budding authoritarianism from Biden, along with the other WEF acolytes like Trudeau, Macron, and Boris Johnson. Biden’s willingness to have people fired, ostracized, and destroyed for exercising bodily autonomy regarding a vaccine that didn’t prevent you from getting it, spreading it, being hospitalized, or dying was a flashing warning light of what was going to happen in the last month. The lockdowns, destruction of small businesses while promoting big business, forced masking as a mark of obedience and compliance, and utter disregard for the education of our children, were all part of this Great Reset scheme to remake the world in the vision of Gates, Schwab, Soros, and the rest of the Davos billionaire satanic cult. These acts of vengeance against those with differing political, economic, and social viewpoints have intensified over the last several months as a sense of impending doom has shrouded the totalitarian, communist, woke, incompetent Biden administration, with the looming loss of both the House and Senate leading to gridlock, increasing conflict, and more desperate executive orders from the senile pedophile. The ramping up of grooming children at drag queen shows and encouraging children towards irreversible mutilation of their bodies in the name of gender choice is beyond evil and can only be explained as further attempt to destroy our society as part of the Great Reset agenda. The FBI raid on Biden’s chief political adversary and likely opponent in 2024 over some documents requested by the National Archives is a red herring in the never-ending coup against Trump and a last-ditch attempt to keep him from running in 2024. During his first term Trump made the drastic mistake of not purging the DOJ, FBI, CIA, and State Department of his enemies. He hired swamp creatures and neo-cons into his cabinet whose sole purpose was to thwart whatever he tried to do. And his biggest blunder was believing Fauci, Birx, and the rest of the Covid cultists in locking down the country, schools, and businesses, while cheering on and promoting the Big Pharma jabs which have killed and injured more people than they supposedly saved. His continued support for these never-ending shots from hell is mind bogglingly idiotic and should make anyone question his ability to succeed in a second term. Is he better than Dementia Joe, the Kneepads Kackler, or any of the other left-wing loons on the Democrat bench? Yes. But is that good enough with an economic collapse, civil war, and global war just over the horizon? The skies are darkening, and the direst days of this Fourth Turning are almost upon us. I know the degradation of the intellectual, moral, and critical thinking skills of the American populace due to decades in government indoctrination centers known as public schools along with relentless propaganda and misinformation spewed from our boob tubes and now “smart” phones has reached critical mass, with little hope for a reversal until a full-out societal collapse. Well, that is where we are headed, because that is the course set in motion by those we trusted to lead this country. What ails this country, and the world is too much debt, too much corruption, too much materialism, too many lies, too much propaganda, too much delusion, too much stupidity, too much evil, and absolutely no solutions put forth which are capable of saving us from the course we chose decades ago. We are hurtling towards an abyss and there is no way of voting ourselves out of it. The uniparty agrees on 90% of the issues and pass trillions in spending bills while jointly supporting never ending wars and unaccountable central bankers who print fiat to infinity. Political parties have failed the people and rooting for our team is still used to keep us divided and unaware of how badly we have been screwed over by these politician puppets doing the bidding of the globalist billionaire cabal who really run the show. This all set the stage for Biden’s Satanic Verses speech this past week. The Trojan Horse president didn’t write that hateful war declaration against half the country. He didn’t choose the location of Independence Hall. He didn’t ask for the blood red and dark palette as his background. He didn’t station marines in the background as a symbol of war. He didn’t remember what he read off the teleprompter the next day. He and his left-wing apparatchiks can try to walk back his declaration of war, but his satanic hate manifesto will forever be burned into the minds of the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump and the millions more who voted for Biden, thinking his unifier drivel during his basement campaign was truthful. Biden’s handlers purposefully designed this speech to ignite civil chaos. It was a dog whistle to the left-wing BLM, ANTIFA and other violent hate groups that it is open season on Trump and his supporters. Declaring them extremists and an imminent threat to the country, Biden dehumanized anyone who does not support his authoritarian regime. We have already seen the attempted assassination of Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh and harassment and threats of violence against other justices. There has been a concerted effort by the left (and possibly operatives within the government) to have Steve Bannon and Marjorie Taylor Greene assassinated by the police through technologically advanced swatting calls. Next, we will have any home flying a Trump or MAGA flag burned to the ground by Biden’s army of woke thugs. Biden’s managers and his diversity hire spokesbimbos continue to fan the flames of violence. They are attempting to goad Trump supporters into acts of violence so they can declare an emergency and either cancel the November elections or institute mail-in voting once again to steal them as they did in 2020. Despite Biden’s repulsive war-mongering rhetoric, and threats to use F-15s against those who don’t bow down to his demands, it is highly unlikely Trump supporters will take the bait and initiate violence against the government or their Soros funded left wing lackey militias. The average hard-working American, getting destroyed by Biden’s policies, is content to watch Democrat controlled shithole cities go up in flames as lawlessness reigns, mass murder occurs on daily basis, and businesses flee to safer confines. They are told by the GOP portion of the uniparty to vote republican in November and save the country. Of course, the RINOs in control of the republican party don’t have the guts or desire to change anything. If they were to take Congress, they would not impeach Biden, investigate Hunter, prosecute Fauci, or stop the DOJ and FBI from conducting their ongoing vendetta against Trump. Biden and the left have already declared war. They will do whatever it takes to win. It’s already clear the Constitution, election laws, and First Amendment are meaningless in their thirst for power, control, and wealth. As of now only the Second Amendment keeps them from forcefully putting us in re-education camps. It’s only the 400 million legally owned guns (give or take a few) keeping Biden and his totalitarian hordes at bay. Biden’s speech was an act of desperation, as his handlers seeing their Great Reset agenda going awry, are trying to initiate another engineered “Covid-like” national emergency they can utilize to subdue dissent. The next two months may decide the future course of history in this country. They appear to be laying the groundwork for a false flag of immense proportions. The apparent suicidal actions being taken by European leaders regarding Russian gas and Putin shutting the Nordsteam 1 pipeline until the West revokes their sanctions will either lead to surrender by the EU and splintering of their subservient submission to the American Empire or actual conflict between NATO and Russia, with China and India supporting Russia. We already know it is just a matter of time until the U.S. financial markets break under the strain of reality, with stocks, bonds and real estate all poised to fall by at least 50% over the coming years. Has the globalist cabal concluded their dementia ridden sucker is expendable and will engineer another JFK moment, with an assassination attributed to some Trump dupes? The FBI already engineered the fake Whitmer kidnapping plot. Taking out their useful idiot Biden to further their agenda wouldn’t give these vile Deep State operatives a second thought. Combining a global conflict, with a financial implosion, and a false flag event blamed on Trump would be the perfect storm to cancel the November elections and lockdown the country once again. All signs point toward something big about to ignite the powder keg and propel this Fourth Turning to a new level of violent upheaval. Here is where Patrick Radden Keefe’s documentation of the violence, retribution, hatred, and resolve of “civilized” Irishmen during the battle for Northern Ireland, known as The Troubles, from the 1960’s through the 1990’s until an uneasy accord was reached in 1998, offers a glimpse into what a civil war might look like in America. A key point is when the definition of humanity in the minds of those at war stops at the border of their tribe. The enemy is not considered human; therefore, it is not murder when you kill them or blow them up. The ethical justification for killing “innocents” becomes easier when your enemy is not considered human. Biden has already set in motion that anyone who voted for or supports Trump is a dangerous sub-human, providing the justification for his side, including his government police thugs and woke military, to treat us as the enemy. During The Troubles, the Irish Republican Army planted car bombs in London and in Northern Ireland business districts, killing and maiming whoever happened to be in the vicinity. They blew up Lord Mountbatten on his boat. They attempted to blow up the Queen in Scotland in 1981. They came very close to assassinating Margaret Thatcher at the Brighton Hotel in 1984, killing five and injuring dozens. British soldiers were lured into traps and executed. Over the three decades of The Troubles there were 3,500 deaths, with more than half being civilians. Factions within the IRA killed each other. There were undercover agents and double agents for each side. If you said something while under British interrogation, you were likely to be disappeared into the Irish bogs. It was a violent and ruthless conflict with no rules and no mercy. The British committed as many atrocities as their Irish opponents. Legality and rule of law was paid no heed. As Keefe documented, the conflict began as a dispute between the unionists and loyalists and grew into a vicious civil war of neighborhoods versus neighborhoods. “We beat them with stones at first, and they had guns. Our people had to go and get guns. Wouldn’t they have been right stupid people to stand there? Our people got shotguns at first and then got better weapons. And then the British, who were supposed to protect us, came in and raided our homes. What way could you fight? So you went down and you blew them up.” ― Patrick Radden Keefe The political and religious hatreds had been brewing for centuries in Ireland. The level of vitriol and hate in the U.S. has really only reared its ugly head over the last two decades, with a notable hastening since Obama’s election in 2008. He proceeded to divide America through his communist agenda and blatant efforts to create racial and gender rifts, while still kowtowing to the Wall Street and globalist cabal which placed him in power. The ascendancy of Trump to the throne drove the left mad, as burning, and looting cities over the perceived fake race issues enflamed by Obama was cheered on by the left-wing media and politicians. Violence has been promoted and condoned by the left. The question is, what will it take to provoke a violent response by the right, who happen to own most of the firearms in this country. What will it take to turn Twitter warriors into armed warriors? Keefe laid out thoughts about Irish Americans during The Troubles which addresses real war versus verbal war. “Indeed, it could occasionally seem that support for the armed struggle was more fervent in Boston or Chicago than it was in Belfast or Derry. The romantic idyll of a revolutionary movement is easier to sustain when there is no danger that one’s own family members might get blown to pieces on a trip to the grocery store. Some people in Ireland looked askance at the “plastic Paddies” who urged bloody war in Ulster from the safe distance of America.” ― Patrick Radden Keefe Most of those on the right are hardworking, law abiding, family-oriented individuals who are slow to anger and do not react violently to incoherent left-wing rhetoric, verbal threats, or even being called dangerous extremists. When they or their families are threatened with violence, all bets are off. The left can allow their cities to burn and the inhabitants to shoot each other over drugs, but once the threat of violence reaches the countryside and suburbs, where a considerable number of awakened critical thinking citizens are armed, Biden and his cronies will get their civil war. The extremist MAGA minions will not shoot first, but once alerted to the threat from what passes for our government and their BLM/ANTIFA terrorist arm, they will be poised to fight back. If this powder keg ignites, it will make the three decades of violence in Northern Ireland look like a walk in the park. Those who live their lives with a linear mindset, brainwashed by public school indoctrination, distracted by their myriad of electronic gadgets, and trapped on the hamster wheel of trying to accumulate more material goods while going further in debt, are unprepared for the coming level of violent upheaval about to be unleashed upon this nation. No one with a conscience and morality is rooting for a civil war, but our figurehead president has already declared war, with the shooting yet to commence. It feels much like the ambiguous period between Lincoln’s election in November 1860 and the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861. We are waiting for the event and/or act which will initiate the vicious phase of this Fourth Turning. We know it will happen, but we don’t know when, where or who will pull the trigger. “Picture yourself and your loved ones in the midst of a howling blizzard that lasts several years. Think about what you would need, who could help you, and why your fate might matter to anybody other than yourself. That is how to plan for a saecular winter. Don’t think you can escape the Fourth Turning. History warns that a Crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that you now take for granted.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning Our civilized society is about to turn into a barbarous hellscape, unrecognizable from the comfort and safety we have grown accustomed to since the last Fourth Turning. The cycles of history spin from highs to lows, with death and destruction always entering the picture at some point. Human nature never changes; therefore, we are condemned to repeat the errors of the past while creating new errors along the way. That feeling of doom you should be experiencing at this point in history is well founded. Prepping for the coming storms is a worthwhile expenditure of your time but making sure you tribe up with like minded armed individuals will be your best bet to survive. You have been declared an enemy of the state. That is all the incentive you should need to do whatever is necessary to win this coming war. Remember – Whatever You Say, Say Nothing. *  *  * The corrupt establishment will do anything to suppress sites like the Burning Platform from revealing the truth. The corporate media does this by demonetizing sites like mine by blackballing the site from advertising revenue. If you get value from this site, please keep it running with a donation.   Tyler Durden Tue, 09/06/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 6th, 2022

US troops are still under fire in America"s "forgotten war"

The war in Afghanistan seemed to last "forever" and the war in Ukraine has "fixated" public attention, but the Syrian war appears largely "forgotten." Members of the US Army's 5th Special Forces Group at the Al Tanf Garrison in southern Syria in November 2017.US Army/Staff Sgt. Jacob Connor Many Americans were reminded in late August that the US is actively engaged in military combat. But the conflict US troops are involved in is not in Afghanistan nor in Ukraine. It's in Syria. Many Americans were reminded last week that the United States remains actively engaged in military combat overseas. But this conflict is not in Afghanistan, where the US withdrew its forces last August. Nor is it in Ukraine, where President Joe Biden has gone out of his way to avoid direct military involvement. It's in Syria.Last week, the Biden administration authorized airstrikes against Iranian-backed militants in response to rocket attacks on bases housing US forces. While the militants' rockets resulted in only minor injuries to US troops, reports indicate that the US retaliatory strikes were quite extensive and deadly.While the Afghanistan War seemed to last "forever" and the war in Ukraine has "fixated" the public for the past six months, the Syrian war appears to be largely "forgotten."To be fair, it has generated attention at certain moments, such as when then-President Barack Obama decided not to attack the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the use of chemical weapons in 2013, or when his successor, President Donald Trump, chose to respond with force to a chemical weapons attack in 2017.There was also much outrage over the brutal killings — including of Americans — by the Islamic State in 2015, as well as angst over the US decision to "abandon the Kurds" — the on-the-ground partners for the US-led coalition that went on to militarily defeated the Islamic State — back in 2019. Even the 2016 vice presidential debate featured a segment on the war.US troops patrol near the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in Syria's northeastern Hasakeh province on April 20, 2022.DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty ImagesBut overall, the Syrian war has failed to hold the US public's attention, for several reasons.First, the Syrian war is complex. It is a civil war, with various militant and militia groups engaged in combat against the Assad regime, as well as against one another. Numerous external actors have intervened in the fighting, including the United States, which largely backs the anti-Assad rebels, and Russia, which backs the Assad regime, but also Iran, Hezbollah and Turkey.The complexity of the conflict and the number of intervening powers makes it analogous to the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s or even the Thirty Years' War that embroiled Central Europe in the 1600s.Not only is the US just one of many actors in the war, but, unlike the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan or the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it was not an initiator or a primary participant in the conflict. Washington has played a largely supporting role as a belligerent — though, unlike in Ukraine, it is a belligerent. This means events like the one last week, where US troops came under direct attack, are few and far between. That, in turn, serves to keep the US involvement in Syria away from the public's attention.This does not mean the United States played no role in the conflict's onset. When protests against the Assad regime emerged in 2011, Obama issued a statement saying, "The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside."Perhaps fearing intervention by Washington, the Assad regime escalated its crackdown on protesters. And perhaps anticipating US support, insurgent groups started fighting back. They were subsequently armed and trained largely by Western forces, including the United States. The war was on, and Obama's statement may have contributed to the escalation of violence.But the US was at best tangential to the main drivers of the conflict. The protests against Assad erupted in the wake of the "Arab Spring" pro-democracy movements that spread across the Middle East and North Africa. Those movements largely died out, with the autocratic status quo remaining intact. But some, as in Syria, but also Libya and Yemen, sparked civil wars.Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Qusair, on June 5, 2013.REUTERS/Mohammed Azakir Second, there is a perception that US interest in the conflict ended with the military defeat of the Islamic State in 2019. It was the rise of the Islamic State that initiated direct US involvement in the war.The group, which emerged in Iraq, took advantage of the turmoil in Syria to quickly amass territorial gains. It then attracted widespread attention in 2015, when it reached its peak territorial control in both Syria and Iraq, while was sponsoring terrorist attacks around the world and flaunting its brutal violence in online videos.When the US-led coalition defeated the organization and eliminated its territorial control, this suggested, at least to the American public, that the war was over. At minimum, that should have meant the end of US involvement in the war. It did not.The Islamic State gained prominence because of the war — it was a result, rather than a cause of the conflict. But even with the group defeated, the conditions that enabled its rise — the "ungoverned" spaces created by the fighting in Syria — remained. And to prevent any possible resurgence of the group, the US-led coalition has remained also.While that might make sense from a geostrategic perspective, it makes the justification for the continued US presence in Syria unclear to the American public.A member of ISIS in Raqqa, Syria on June 29, 2014.REUTERS/StringerThird, the war in Ukraine has become a focal point of international attention, including the attention of the American public. But consider a scenario in which Russia had not invaded Ukraine in February.In that case, the end of US involvement in Afghanistan in August 2021 may have led to further public and congressional calls to end US involvement in other parts of the "Greater Middle East," from Syria to Somalia — something Trump repeatedly threatened to do.At the time of the Afghanistan withdrawal, the Biden administration argued that removing resources from Afghanistan would allow the US to focus those resources elsewhere, including continuing efforts to stamp out the last vestiges of the Islamic State in Syria. But leaving Afghanistan, especially the chaotic nature of the withdrawal, could also have fed calls for Washington to retrench its military footprint throughout the region.Indeed, it initially seemed that the Biden administration would follow such a course. But events soon overtook any such plans. Well before any European countries, the Biden administration was aware that Putin planned to invade Ukraine and engaged in efforts to convince its European allies of the impending danger.Russian's continued troop presence in Syria may have contributed to Biden's decision to keep US troops there as well, since doing so could ensure that Russia cannot fully redeploy its own forces to Ukraine.That the war in Syria has become the "forgotten war" points to a more disturbing trend in US foreign policy: The United States is so engaged in wars and interventions around the world that a conflict involving the US military that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians does not even register with the American public anymore.Perhaps this is the price of playing such a paramount global role and of being the "indispensable nation" — that a nation is involved in so many conflicts, it can forget one of them.Paul Poast is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago and a nonresident fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 4th, 2022

Recent Data Reveals The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In The World To Live In 2022

There are endless sources of inspiration for travelers nowadays and with pandemic travel restrictions having been largely lifted, you can explore nearly every corner of the world. There are still places rarely anyone would like to visit, and for a very good reason – they are the most dangerous countries and cities on Earth.  While […] There are endless sources of inspiration for travelers nowadays and with pandemic travel restrictions having been largely lifted, you can explore nearly every corner of the world. There are still places rarely anyone would like to visit, and for a very good reason – they are the most dangerous countries and cities on Earth.  While destinations ruled by highly repressive regimes such as North Korea or war-torn states like Ukraine and Afghanistan are obviously unsafe for locals and tourists alike, many cities in otherwise conflict-free countries might be even more dangerous. Mexico, the leading destination for international tourists in Latin America in 2019 and 2020, has five entries in the list of the world’s ten deadliest cities in 2022. 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); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   It was visited by 24 million people in 2020, far more than the number of arrivals recorded by the second country, Puerto Rico, which attracted only 2.5 million international tourists. Moreover, Mexico’s Tourism Ministry (Sectur) reported the arrival of nearly 10.27 million international tourists in the first half of 2022, an 83% compared to the same period last year and up 1.5% compared to pre-pandemic numbers in 2019. Yet, data published earlier this year by the World Population Review and analysed by BonusInsider shows that Mexico is an extremely unsafe country both as a place to live in and a tourist destination. The Mexican city of Tijuana is named the world’s most dangerous city in 2022 with the highest murder rate per capita. The latest ranking of the most dangerous cities in the world includes 50 cities, with all entries in the Top 10 being in Latin America. The list ranks the cities based on homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, a standard statistical measurement that is used to compare cities, nations, etc. with different population sizes. The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In The World To Live In These are the ten most dangerous cities in the world to live in (or visit, for that matter) in 2022 based on the most recent murder rates per 100,000 inhabitants. Tijuana, Mexico * 138 Homicides With 138 homicides per 100,000 citizens reported, the resort city of Tijuana is the most dangerous place in the world. It sits on the border with San Diego and attracts thousands of US tourists every day with its fascinating souvenir shops, bars, and the red-light district. But along with the cheap shopping and attractive drinking age of 18 (versus 21 in neighboring San Diego), Tijuana has a much darker side – it is a lucrative drug trafficking route and home to some of the most powerful drug cartels in Latin America. In the past decade or so, the city has become a battleground for several rival gangs. The average number of homicides has been 2000 per year in the past few years. Baja California prosecutors say that so far in 2022, 882 murders were recorded. The most violent month was June – at least 196 people were killed, or an average of 7 per day. Acapulco, Mexico * 111 Homicides Acapulco is Mexico’s largest beach and spa resort and was once a popular holiday destination for Hollywood stars and millionaires from the US. Its reputation drastically changed over the years due to the increasing poverty and unemployment both in Acapulco and within the wider region.  It should not come as a surprise, then, that it enters the list of the deadliest cities in the world to live in 2022 – the upsurge in drug trafficking and gang-related crime has turned Acapulco into Mexico’s murder capital. Shocking data shows 111 murders per 100,000 people. The violence seems to be escalating even more – in the first seven months following the election of Evelyn Salgado Pineda as the new Governor of the state of Guerrero, 645 intentional homicides were registered in the state according to the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System. Caracas, Venezuela * 100 Homicides Caracas, the capital and largest city of Venezuela, has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world – 100 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Even more chilling fact about the city is that most homicides and other violent crimes go unsolved. Furthermore, data for the murder rates in the country is usually published by non-governmental organizations since the Bolivarian government has denied access to homicide statistics for more than 17 years. Although Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, due to ineffective policies over the past decade it currently struggles with hyperinflation, extreme poverty, shortages of basic goods, malnutrition, and a high child mortality rate. With high rates of corruption and severe crime, it is no wonder why Caracas is often named the city with the highest homicide rate in the world outside of a warzone. Ciudad Victoria, Mexico * 86 Homicides Home to a little over 300,000 people, Ciudad Victoria is the capital of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas on the US border. It has a homicide rate of 86 per 100,000 people. The city has seen a surge in violent crime rates over the past couple of years – armed robberies, assaults, and homicides have become common, along with the more “mundane” drug trade, corruption, and kidnappings. In January 2021, Mexican police found 19 shot and burned bodies near Camargo, a small locality in Tamaulipas. In addition, hundreds of people, mostly truck drivers, have disappeared or have been killed on the highway connecting the states of Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. The 219-kilometer highway near Ciudad Victoria, which reaches the United States, is an important route for organized crime and drug trafficking. According to the Comisión Nacional de Búsqueda 71 people went missing there between October 2020 and June 2021. Ciudad Juárez, Mexico * 86 Homicides With 86 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, Cuidad Juárez is yet another Mexican city to appear on this list. It sits on the Rio Grande river and is home to 1.5 million people, which makes it the most populous city in the state of Chihuahua. Although Cuidad Juárez is a major manufacturing center, it is also among the world’s deadliest places to live in and visit.  The city has been struggling with organized crime, mass killings, and wars between narco cartels where, often, innocent bystanders get caught in the crossfire. Cuidad Juárez is also known as being extremely unsafe for women, in particular, who have been victims of human trafficking, violence, sex abuse, and murder. According to some estimates, around 500 women have been killed in the past couple of years.  Irapuato, Mexico * 81 Homicides Known as an agricultural and livestock-raising center, Irapuato is sometimes referred to as the World’s Strawberry Capital. However, it also has a murder rate of 81 per 100,000 people, so most tourists would probably prefer to stay away from its delicious fruits among other things. The increased criminal activity and the killings are usually caused by turf wars between the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. Cartel violence has soared in the past few years, leaving dozens of dead and injured following bloody gang wars. In the summer of 2020, two cartel-related massacres were committed in drug rehabilitation centers in Irapuato, with at least 38 killed in the shootings. Unable to put their trust in the police due to high corruption rates local people created a protection group called Justicieros De Irapuato in the aftermath.  Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela * 78 Homicides Ciudad Guayana, a sprawling city with a population of around 950,000, is one of the most strategic cities for Venezuela. It sits on the south bank of the Orinoco River and has the most developed industry in the country. Still, the severe Venezuelan economic crisis has had its impact even here, resulting in increased unemployment, poverty, and crime rates. Violent crime is of particular concern, especially when authorities do not do enough to prevent it or protect the people. The latest stats show a homicide rate of 78 per 100,000 people but the actual numbers might be even higher considering the rumors that police often cover up incidents where victims have suffered violent deaths. Their families are sometimes “advised” not to reveal information that could be viewed as sensitive by authorities.  Natal, Brazil * 75 Homicides For years, the coastal city of Natal has had a reputation for being one of the safest places in Brazil. It is the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte and has a population of nearly one million. Although the city was, indeed, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, this changed in the past 15 years – the murder rate for the state increased by a staggering 655%.  In 2017, at least 30 people were killed in a prison riot in the State Penitentiary of Alcacuz in Nisia Floresta near Natal. The incident was just one of the many violent attacks over a two-week period that ended with a death toll of 140. According to the most recent data, there were 1185, translating to a murder rate of 75 per 100,000 people.  Fortaleza, Brazil * 69 Homicides With a population of more than 4.1 million, Fortaleza is one of the largest cities in Brazil. It is also among the most dangerous places to live in or visit in the world – more than 2700 people were killed within a year, according to the latest available stats. This means that the city has a homicide rate of 69 per 100,000 inhabitants.  Along with armed robberies, assaults, and kidnappings, drug gang conflicts also plague the city. When President Jair Bolsonaro was elected in 2019, he declared a much-publicized war on crime, promising to eliminate prison gang factions. This resulted in a large number of attacks across Fortaleza, including the torching of cars, buses, and mail trucks. Gang members attacked banks, a bridge, and city government buildings with petrol bombs and explosives. Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela * 69 Homicides The last city on this list is the capital of Venezuela’s southeastern Bolívar State. Ciudad Bolívar is an important river port, laying on the Orinoco River, and is home to nearly half a million people. Semi-official statistics and media reports alike paint a sad picture – crime rates have increased significantly in recent years as a result of the general unsafety in the country, the rising levels of poverty and inequality.  The city, as well as the state of Bolívar, has attracted armed groups and mega-gangs who now control the local mines and businesses, using bribes, extortion, and violence. Currently, there are at least seven different groups of guerrillas, garimpeiros (independent prospectors for minerals), and criminal syndicates whose criminal activity includes the trafficking of minerals, drugs, and arms. Violent crimes and homicides are also common, with a murder rate of 69 per 100,000 people in the city of Ciudad Bolívar. Looking at the ten deadliest cities on the planet, we can say for sure that Latin America is, indeed, the most dangerous part of the world. The numbers and stats may change slightly each year but it is easy to see the larger trend – economic hardships and political unrest fuel criminal activity and violence. And while inhabitants of these dangerous cities have little choice, tourists should try to avoid visiting these places altogether. Dark tourism might have existed forever but tourists are particularly vulnerable and can become easy victims of theft, scams, and even violent crimes......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkSep 1st, 2022

For Putin and Russia, the mercenaries of the Wagner Group could be a recipe for disaster

European rulers have a long history of using mercenaries, and that history suggests Russia's Wagner Group could become a problem for Vladimir Putin. Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, with then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, tour a factory outside St. Petersburg on September 20, 2010.AP Vladimir Putin has leaned on Russian private military contractor Wagner Group to advance his geopolitical interests. Tthere are two historical trends in the use of mercenaries provide insight to Wagner Group's potential role in Russia's future. In the Bavarian town of Rain am Lech, a statue in the market square serves as a reminder of more tumultuous times. It depicts Johann Tserclaes, the count of Tilly, who helped lead the armies of the German Emperor Ferdinand II against Protestant challengers during the first decade of the Thirty Years' War.Considered a hero by imperial loyalists, Tilly was despised by adversaries for the horrific war crimes his mercenary troops inflicted during the Sack of Magdeburg in 1631. Avoiding these inconvenient details, the monument in Rain commemorates his nearby death in battle in 1632, after defeat at the hands of Swedish Protestants.The armies that Tilly helped lead were largely made up of mercenary troops called the Landsknechts or condottieri. Their pivotal role in imperial armies struggling to survive finds echoes today in private military contractors such as Russia's Wagner Group, in that their fates are intertwined with those of the regimes they serve, but whose established command hierarchies they also disrupt.No doubt, historical comparisons with contemporary events are a risky business. Each conflict has its own unique social context that cannot be easily transferred to dynamics shaping wars in other eras.Awareness of the specificities of each battlespace is crucial to ensuring that attempts to examine shared patterns do not lead to absurd analogies that ignore the vast differences between, for example, the pike and shot warfare of the 17th century and the drone-guided artillery battles taking place in Ukraine today.A mural in Belgrade, Serbia, praising Wagner Group mercenaries fighting in Ukraine, March 30, 2022.Pierre Crom/Getty ImagesYet with all these caveats in mind, there are two historical patterns that can provide insights into how the role that private military contractors, or PMCs, play within the Russian political system might evolve over time.The first is the extent to which mercenaries are usually intertwined with the ruling elites of a political system. As Candace Rondeaux, Jack Margolin and Sergey Sukhankin have pointed out, the origins of the Wagner Group are much more deeply rooted than was understood by many observers several years ago, who were surprised by the expanding role of PMCs in Russia's 2014 invasion of the Donbas region in Ukraine or in Syria's civil war after 2015.After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the near-collapse of Russia's post-Soviet military and security services in the 1990s, many special operations personnel left badly paid positions in state service for more lucrative work with oligarch-run businesses or corporations such as Rosneft and Gazprom.Over time, a revolving door between special forces units in the military, intelligence services and various private security entities became an established part of the institutional landscape, as Vladimir Putin rose to power.The Russian state's growing dependence on mercenaries after 2013 in operations in Ukraine, Syria, Libya and the Central African Republic — through which Putin sought to project influence without using formal military units, so as to preserve a façade of deniability — was not a sudden act of improvisation. It was built on a gradually evolving relationship that Russia's military and intelligence services had developed with various key figures involved in the security business.The central role of Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch whose revenues are dependent on contracts with Russia's Ministry of Defense, or Dmitry Utkin, a former military intelligence officer whose sympathies with neo-Nazi groups have enabled the recruitment of far-right extremists into Russian PMCs, illustrates how blurry the boundaries between state institutions and military entrepreneurs have become under Putin.Prigozhin at the Konstantin palace outside St. Petersburg in a photo taken August 9, 2016.Alexander Zemlianichenko/APClose links between a given state's ruling elite and the mercenary networks it comes to rely on due to the weakness of its formal military is not unique to Putin-era Russia. Successful military entrepreneurs in the Thirty Years' War such as Tilly were originally low-ranking members of the nobility who seized an opportunity to rise to the top.As with Prigozhin or Utkin almost 400 years later, the great mercenary captains of the 17th century remained loyal to the established social order into which they had been born, even as they used their military power to extract immense profits from it.Despite their popular reputation as lawless freebooters, more often than not, mercenaries are deeply invested in the survival of a societal status quo that provides them with a reliable revenue stream. However much resentment against a failing ruler might have built up among Early Modern Landsknechte, or is building up now among Late Putinist Russian PMCs, at most they aim to replace those at the top of an established state system, rather than seeking to transform it.Yet a second set of recurring historical patterns indicates that overreliance on mercenaries can still cause severe disruption to the power hierarchy within a state, even when military entrepreneurs are deeply committed to the defense of the social order that underpins it.The more a state struggles to find recruits and adequate equipment for its formal security institutions, the more it depends on mercenaries to secure its interests, which then inflates the influence of military entrepreneurs within a ruling elite at the expense of established officers and officials.A portrait of Yevgeni Chuprunov, a Russian private military contractor killed in Syria, at his grave in Novomoskovsk, June 1, 2017.REUTERS/Maria TsvetkovaFrequently, such dynamics can also mark a shift of influence from one part of the regular military to another, as networks of officers with close links to private military contractors find their rise to the top of the system intertwined with the willingness of mercenaries to provide support on the battlefield.Such shifts in the balance of power within a military's ruling elite has often led to instability and even violence between rival factions. That should give Russia's current leadership food for thought. In Syria and Libya, the number of mercenaries linked with Wagner and other PMCs that were deployed on behalf of the Russian state remained limited.But since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, mounting losses have made Moscow increasingly reliant on thousands of mercenaries provided by the Wagner Group in efforts to sustain combat operations.In addition, becoming too dependent on a mercenary leader with his own semi-autonomous revenue stream can lead to a loss of control over events on the ground.Ferdinand II discovered this the hard way after promoting Albrecht von Wallenstein — one of Tilly's bitter rivals — in 1623. At the height of his power, Wallenstein exerted more direct control over the military structures defending the Empire than his emperor did.Three centuries later, French government officials made the same mistake in the 1970s, when they hired mercenaries such as Bob Denard to organize their interventions in Africa. Denard pursued his own ambitions in the Comoros Islands and elsewhere so relentlessly that he eventually caused more trouble than it was worth for his backers in Paris.Again, differences in historical context need to be kept in mind. But these past examples, in which lower-ranking members of a ruling elite have seized opportunities on battlefields to displace more established players within state leaderships, indicate how disruptive PMCs like Wagner could become if their power continues to expand in today's Russia.Putin at the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, also known as the GRU, in Moscow in November 2006.Dmitry Astakhov/APA wider network that links serving officers in the GRU and VDV — Russia's military intelligence service and elite airborne units, respectively — with mercenaries employed by Wagner could end up concentrating enough power within the Russian state system to be able to throw its weight around against rival factions in other security services and military institutions.For all the disruption mercenaries can cause, however, cases such as the rise of Francesco Sforza from condottiere to ruler of Milan in 15th-century Italy are relatively rare. More often, state leaderships have either bought off or eliminated military entrepreneurs whose ambitions threaten to destabilize a ruling elite.Wallenstein's bid for greatness ended with his assassination by agents of Ferdinand II in 1634, while Denard was hauled out of the Comoros and tossed into a Paris jail in 1995 by the same French intelligence services that had funded him for so long.Nevertheless, such efforts to bring unruly mercenaries to heel always involve substantial costs for a state system, either in terms of the violence needed to crush a powerful threat or the vast sums of money used to pay armed actors to go away.In the more likely scenario in which the Russian state eventually reins in Wagner, the effort to bring powerful military entrepreneurs to heel will be a daunting challenge for Russian state institutions that already face enormous economic and political problems.A failure in Ukraine could even seriously discredit Russia's military and weaken the ability of Putin or his successors to contain the mercenaries they have paid and equipped — and if that happens, today's partial privatization of military operations could end up as one of several factors that unravels the cohesion of the Russian state itself.Whichever scenario they face, the likelihood is high that Wagner mercenaries dreaming of statues raised in honor of their own exploits will in reality either face assassins sent by their own ruler, as Wallenstein did, or end up like Tilly, isolated on some battlefield, far from home, as their enemies close in.Alexander Clarkson is a lecturer in European studies at King's College London. His research explores the impact that transnational diaspora communities have had on the politics of Germany and Europe after 1945 as well as how the militarization of the European Union's border system has affected its relationships with neighboring states. His weekly WPR column appears every Wednesday.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 1st, 2022

Von Greyerz: An Autumn Of Epic Asset Collapses & Higher Inflation... Means Poverty & Social Unrest

Von Greyerz: An Autumn Of Epic Asset Collapses & Higher Inflation... Means Poverty & Social Unrest Authored by Egon Von Greyerz via GoldSwitzerland.com, The world economy and especially the political and economic situation today consists of a potpourri of lethal ingredients which will have dire consequences... Let’s look at what this deadly potion consists of: Debts at levels that can never be repaid – sovereign, corporate & private Epic global bubbles in stocks, bonds & property – all about to collapse Major geopolitical conflicts with no desire for peace – major wars likely Energy imbalances and shortages, most self-inflicted Food shortages leading to major famine and civil unrest Inflation, leading to hyperinflation & global poverty Political and economic corruption in US, Europe and most countries No country will afford social security, medical or pension payments So what are governments around the world doing to solve these problems? Nothing of course. The only thing they know is to print more money. They have never understood that a debt problem cannot be solved with more debt. All they can try to achieve is to pass the baton to the next leader so it will be his problem. This means that all the political, economic and financial mismanagement of the past 50 years will result in a global collapse never seen before in history. The consequences will be both dire and unpredictable since the world has no experience of this magnitude and complexity of problems. So what are global leaders doing?  What is clear is that Western leaders will not assume any responsibility for the coming calamities. Covid will obviously be blamed although there is a lot of evidence that it was manmade and could have been controlled with simple and cheap existing medicines. And all the lockdowns and restrictions have certainly had a bigger impact than the disease itself. Sweden for example virtually had no lockdowns or mask requirements and did not suffer more deaths than countries in total lockdown. Special interests like Big Pharma clearly had the politicians in their hands. They had trillions of dollars to gain and nothing to lose since they are immune against any prosecution. Anyway, it has happened and we can’t go back. The future will tell us if, as many scientists  believe, the people’s immune system will have been severely weakened by the vaccines. Secondly, the Russians will be blamed for the current global economic problems of inflation, energy shortages and decline of global trade. The fact that these problems started well before the Russian invasion of Ukraine is quickly forgotten. WILL THE WAR DRUMS BECOME LOUDER? Since 3600BC, governments have fought 14,000 wars against each other. As far as I am aware, there is no period in history without an important war. At the end of the 30-year war, European nations tried to put a stop to unprovoked wars with the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia. The peace conference in Muenster involved 194 states. The start of the war in 1618 was the Protestant Bohemians rising against the Catholic Holy Roman Empire. The major opponents to the Roman Catholics were the Habsburgs supported by Sweden and the Netherlands. Spain and France were also involved in the war together with many other nations. Interestingly, my two home countries benefitted from the peace. Sweden by virtue of being a major military power at that time gained substantial territories around the Baltic and Switzerland gained formal independence from Austria. But the major result of the Westphalian peace treaty in 1648 was: National self-determination Precedent for ending wars through diplomatic congresses Peaceful coexistence among sovereign nations Acceptance of the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other nations if there was not a clear present danger to the aggressor. Almost all wars in history have been between neighbouring countries. But in the 20th century the US changed that. Without provocation and far from its borders, the US invaded Vietnam, Serbia, Iraq, Libya and Syria. So the 300 year old Westphalian principle of non-interference was properly buried by the US on multiple occasions. But not only did the US break this principle but also failed in each single one of the aforementioned conflicts. One could of course argue that Japan broke the treaty first with the Pearl Harbour attack. But like all aggressors they claimed self defence against potential US interference in Japan’s ambitions in the Pacific. The Russians will of course argue that they haven’t broken the Westphalian treaty since Ukraine historically has been part of Russia. In the Maidan revolution in 2014, a US inspired coup ousted the Soviet friendly Ukrainian leader and replaced him by a Western friendly leader. Since then Russia has always warned the West that it cannot accept being surrounded by an increasing number of NATO countries just like the Russian missiles on Cuba in 1962 directed against the US. What we do know is that sadly wars are an integral part of history and as long as there are people on earth, there will be wars The risk is that what now seems a local conflict in eastern Ukraine will become a major international conflict. This is not a war between a small innocent country and a superpower. No this is a major conflict between the US and Russia. And since China has declared it is supporting Russia, this is a conflict between the three major super powers in the world. And since the US has coerced the EU to join against Russia with weapons, money and sanctions, this is a conflict of major proportions. GERMANY BITING OFF THE HAND THAT FEEDS THEM The lack of statesmen and strong leadership in the US and EU has created an absurd situation with the EU not just biting the hand that feeds them but actually biting it off totally. With many European countries being dependent on Russian gas, oil, cereal and fertilisers, EU’s left hand doesn’t know what the right one is doing. Not only is this a human and economic catastrophe of major proportions but one which will have major implications for Europe for a long time. Germany used to be the economic and financial engine of Europe but is now on the way to becoming a basket case. But sadly they haven’t discovered it yet. Scholz inherited ludicrous Marxist policies from Merkel. For example to close down both nuclear energy and coal was always a recipe for disaster with no medium term viable alternatives. And her immigration policy will not only be economically ruinous for Germany but also lead to major social unrest. The demographics of Germany is also another irreparable problem. With the lowest fertility rate in Europe combined with the highest life expectancy, Germany is entering a long term cycle of economic contraction. Add to this that Germany has financed a major part of the Mediterranean EU countries’ woes through the Target2 transfer payment system. As the Target2 graph shows below, the transfer payments to Italy of €596 billion, Spain €526b, to the ECB €358b, Greece €107b and Portugal €69b have been mainly financed by Germany to the extent of €1.2 trillion. Add to that the balance sheet of the ECB which has grown more than 8X since 2004 to €8.7 trillion GRAPH and we can confidently state that the whole European Economic Community -ECB- has now become -EDC- or the Economic Debt Community. It is clear that the old basket cases of Greece, Italy and Spain which were forced by Brussels to change leadership and to take on more debt are the immediate danger to the EU and the Eurozone. If we just take Italy, their debt has doubled since 2000 to €2.7 trillion which at 150% of GDP means that the country is on the verge of bankruptcy. But it is not only Italy’s debt that has surged, but even worse, the cost of financing it. Since September 2021, 10 year Italian bond yields have gone up 6X from 0.5% to 3.4%. This is obviously more than Italy can afford! GREECE AND ITALY SHOULD LEAVE THE EU NOW The head of the Bundesbank Joachim Nagel has made it clear that it would be fatal for the ECB to hold borrowing costs down for ill-disciplined Eurozone states. He declared that such action would be “treacherous waters”. So Italy and Greece can no longer expect subsidised rates from the EU. Italy needs to roll over €300 billion of debt annually plus finance its annual deficit of €100 billion, a real Sisyphean task. When Germany was the rich uncle of the EU, these debt levels were tolerated just to keep this dinosaur from falling apart. But with the coming severe German economic downturn combined with insoluble debt and structural problems in all EU countries, the inevitable collapse of the European dream is now reality as I have predicted for over 20 years. Politicians always learn too late that political dreams and economic reality are as far apart as heaven and hell. If these politicians ever studied history, they would have learnt that all these illusions of grandeur always end not just in tears but in total collapse. If I were in charge of Greece and Italy I would quickly default on the debt and create new Drachmas and Liras. That would give these countries a short term  relative advantage rather than to sink in the general quagmire of the EU at a later stage. If they stay in the EU, Brussels will force Greece and Italy to take on more debt and impose unacceptable conditions. No country will ever repay their debt anyway or be in a position to finance it so better to run for the exit now rather than to wait for the EU’s total collapse. So with Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain all having their problems, so does Macron in France. Having lost a working majority, he can no longer afford to be arrogant and will find it hard to reduce the French budget deficits, a condition to get German agreement for joint debt issuance. So the EU and the Euro is now entering a final chapter. Like all political monstrosities,  the fall will take a number of years. Brussels and government leaders in especially Germany and France will remain on the barricades for a long time although everything around them will fall apart. The only thing that could precipitate the fall is a debt default by the ECB when investors instead of buying the worthless debt paper will use it for fuel as they have run out of energy sources. The only problem is of course that the debt is electronic and therefore unsuitable for burning- Hmmm. US & GLOBAL INFLATION Going across the pond, the US elite has never hated someone more than Trump. They tried all they could during his reign and now he is the first ex-president who is being raided by the FBI. The US regime shot themselves in the foot with the sanctions against Russia. The Russians are still selling their energy to Germany, China, India etc and instead the suffering parties are the US, Europe and the rest of the world with high inflation and energy shortages. With already high support for the Republicans and Trump, this raid is likely to have the opposite effect of the one desired by the regime. How many times can you shoot yourself in the foot before it really hurts? UN AGENDA 2030 – THE (UN-)SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS This UN programme, supported by Schwab and the WEF (World Economic Forum) was always going to fail. Starting in 2016, bureaucrats with no understanding of the real economy created this programme signed by 194 nations. There are 17 admirable but unrealistic goals like No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health, Clean Energy, Climate Action etc. Today almost half way into the programme, every single goal is hopelessly behind schedule with no chance of achieving the target. How could anyone believe that 194 nations could jointly achieve these 17 goals when not  even one single country can do it? More about Agenda 2030 and Schwab’s attempt to take over the UN in a later article. MARKETS As generally is the case before major turns in markets, optimism is still high. But this autumn is likely to change all that as the realities outlined at the beginning of this article finally hit the world. Stock markets are now extremely near finishing the correction and to resume the downtrend in earnest. It is possible that the real falls in markets will wait until September but the risk is here now and very dangerous. What we know with certainty is that the world is facing a wealth destruction and wealth transfer of major proportions. Most paper assets will die a relatively quick death and that includes paper money. This will obviously include stocks, bonds, property and all derivatives. Falls of 75-95% in the next few years will not be uncommon. As currencies finish their journey to ZERO (they are already down 97-99% since 1971) no use betting on the horse that comes last to the bottom whether it is the Dollar or the Euro. They will all get there! Instead, the only money which has survived in history is gold and silver and these metals will continue to maintain their purchasing power or even enhance it as all fiat money is killed off by governments and central banks by the creation of an unlimited supply. It is so simple really but still only 0.5% of financial assets are in physical gold in spite of the metal’s golden 5,000 year record. That percentage is about to change drastically. Tyler Durden Mon, 08/22/2022 - 06:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 22nd, 2022

We Are Not The First Civilization To Collapse, But We Will Probably Be The Last

We Are Not The First Civilization To Collapse, But We Will Probably Be The Last Authored by Chris Hedges via The Chris Hedges Report, I am standing atop a 100-foot-high temple mound, the largest known earthwork in the Americas built by prehistoric peoples. The temperatures, in the high 80s, along with the oppressive humidity, have emptied the park of all but a handful of visitors. My shirt is matted with sweat. I look out from the structure—-known as Monks Mound — at the flatlands below, with smaller mounds dotting the distance. These earthen mounds, built at a confluence of the Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri rivers, are all that remain of one of the largest pre-Columbian settlements north of Mexico, occupied from around 800 to 1,400 AD by perhaps as many as 20,000 people. This great city, perhaps the greatest in North America, rose, flourished, fell into decline and was ultimately abandoned. Civilizations die in familiar patterns. They exhaust natural resources. They spawn parasitic elites who plunder and loot the institutions and systems that make a complex society possible. They engage in futile and self-defeating wars. And then the rot sets in. The great urban centers die first, falling into irreversible decay. Central authority unravels. Artistic expression and intellectual inquiry are replaced by a new dark age, the triumph of tawdry spectacle and the celebration of crowd-pleasing imbecility. “Collapse occurs, and can only occur, in a power vacuum,” anthropologist Joseph Tainter writes in The Collapse of Complex Societies. “Collapse is possible only where there is no competitor strong enough to fill the political vacuum of disintegration.” Doomsday Selfie - by Mr. Fish Several centuries ago, the rulers of this vast city complex, which covered some 4,000 acres, including a 40-acre central plaza, stood where I stood. They no doubt saw below in the teeming settlements an unassailable power, with at least 120 temple mounds used as residences, sacred ceremonial sites, tombs, meeting centers and ball courts. Cahokia warriors dominated a vast territory from which they exacted tribute to enrich the ruling class of this highly stratified society. Reading the heavens, these mound builders constructed several circular astronomical observatories — wooden versions of Stonehenge.  The city’s hereditary rulers were venerated in life and death. A half mile from Monks Mound is the seven-foot-high Mound 72, in which archeologists found the remains of a man on a platform covered with 20,000 conch-shell disc beads from the Gulf of Mexico. The beads were arranged in the shape of a falcon, with the  falcon’s head beneath and beside the man's head. Its wings and tail were placed  underneath the man’s arms and legs. Below this layer of shells was the body of another man, buried face downward. Around these two men were six more human remains, possibly retainers, who may have been put to death to accompany the entombed man in the afterlife. Nearby were buried the remains of 53 girls and women ranging in age from 15 to 30, laid out in rows in two layers separated by matting. They appeared to have been strangled to death. The poet Paul Valéry noted, “a civilization has the same fragility as a life.” Across the Mississippi River from Monks Mound, the city skyline of St. Louis is visible. It is hard not to see our own collapse in that of Cahokia. In 1950, St. Louis was the eighth-largest city in the United States, with a population of 856,796. Today, that number has fallen to below 300,000, a drop of some 65 percent. Major employers — Anheuser-Busch, McDonnell-Douglas, TWA, Southwestern Bell and Ralston Purina —have dramatically reduced their presence or left altogether. St. Louis is consistently ranked one of the most dangerous cities in the country. One in five people live in poverty. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has the highest rate of police killings per capita, of the 100 largest police departments in the nation, according to a 2021 report. Prisoners in the city’s squalid jails, where  47 people died in custody between 2009 and 2019, complain of water being shut off from their cells for hours and guards routinely pepper spraying inmates, including those on suicide watch. The city’s crumbling infrastructure, hundreds of gutted and abandoned buildings, empty factories, vacant warehouses and impoverished neighborhoods replicate the ruins of other post-industrial American cities, the classic signposts of a civilization in terminal decline. “Just as in the past, countries that are environmentally stressed, overpopulated, or both, become at risk of getting politically stressed, and of their governments collapsing,” Jared Diamond argues in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. “When people are desperate, undernourished and without hope, they blame their governments, which they see as responsible for or unable to solve their problems. They try to emigrate at any cost. They fight each other over land. They kill each other. They start civil wars. They figure that they have nothing to lose, so they become terrorists, or they support or tolerate terrorism.” Pre-industrial civilizations were dependent on the limits of solar energy and constrained by roads and waterways, impediments that were obliterated when fossil fuel became an energy source. As industrial empires became global, their increase in size meant an increase in complexity. Ironically, this complexity makes us more vulnerable to catastrophic collapse, not less. Soaring temperatures (Iraq is enduring 120 degree heat that has fried the country’s electrical grid), the depletion of natural resources, flooding, droughts, (the worst drought in 500 years is devastating Western, Central and Southern Europe and is expected to see a decline in crop yields of 8 or 9 percent), power outages, wars, pandemics, a rise in zoonotic diseases and breakdowns in supply chains combine to shake the foundations of industrial society. The Arctic has been heating up four times faster than the global average, resulting in an accelerated melting of the Greenland ice sheet and freakish weather patterns. The Barents Sea north of Norway and Russia are warming up to seven times faster. Climate scientists did not expect this extreme weather until 2050.  “Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up,” the anthropologist Ronald Wright warns, calling industrial society “a suicide machine.” In A Short History of Progress, he writes:  Civilization is an experiment, a very recent way of life in the human career, and it has a habit of walking into what I am calling progress traps. A small village on good land beside a river is a good idea; but when the village grows into a city and paves over the good land, it becomes a bad idea. While prevention might have been easy, a cure may be impossible: a city isn't easily moved. This human inability to foresee — or to watch out for — long-range consequences may be inherent to our kind, shaped by the millions of years when we lived from hand to mouth by hunting and gathering. It may also be little more than a mix of inertia, greed, and foolishness encouraged by the shape of the social pyramid. The concentration of power at the top of large-scale societies gives the elite a vested interest in the status quo; they continue to prosper in darkening times long after the environment and general populace begin to suffer. Wright also reflects upon what will be left behind: The archaeologists who dig us up will need to wear hazmat suits. Humankind will leave a telltale layer in the fossil record composed of everything we produce, from mounds of chicken bones, wet-wipes, tires, mattresses and other household waste to metals, concrete, plastics, industrial chemicals, and the nuclear residue of power plants and weaponry. We are cheating our children, handing them tawdry luxuries and addictive gadgets while we take away what’s left of the wealth, wonder and possibility of the pristine Earth. Calculations of humanity’s footprint suggest we have been in ‘ecological deficit,’ taking more than Earth’s biological systems can withstand, for at least 30 years. Topsoil is being lost far faster than nature can replenish it; 30 percent of arable land has been exhausted since the mid-20th century. We have financed this monstrous debt by colonizing both past and future, drawing energy, chemical fertilizer and pesticides from the planet’s fossil carbon, and throwing the consequences onto coming generations of our species and all others. Some of those species have already been bankrupted: they are extinct. Others will follow. As Cahokia declined, violence dramatically increased. Surrounding towns were burned to the ground. Groups, numbering in the hundreds, were slaughtered and buried in mass graves. At the end, “the enemy killed all people indiscriminately. The intent was not merely prestige, but an early form of ethnic cleansing” writes anthropologist Timothy R. Pauketat, in Ancient Cahokia and the Mississippians. He notes that, in one fifteenth-century cemetery in central Illinois, one-third of all adults had been killed by blows to the head, arrow wounds or scalping. Many showed evidence of fractures on their arms from vain attempts to fight off their attackers.  Such descent into internecine violence is compounded by a weakened and discredited central authority. In the later stages of Cahokia, the ruling class surrounded themselves with fortified wooden stockades, including a two-mile long wall that enclosed Monks Mound. Similar fortifications dotted the vast territory the Cahokia controlled, segregating gated communities where the wealthy and powerful, protected by armed guards, sought safety from the increasing lawlessness and hoarded dwindling food supplies and resources. Overcrowding inside these stockades saw the spread of tuberculosis and blastomycosis, caused by a soil-borne fungus, along with iron deficiency anemia. Infant mortality rates rose, and life spans declined, a result of social disintegration, poor diet and disease. By the 1400s Cahokia had been abandoned. In 1541, when Hernando de Soto’s invading army descended on what is today Missouri,  looking for gold, nothing but the great mounds remained, relics of a forgotten past. This time the collapse will be global. It will not be possible, as in ancient societies, to migrate to new ecosystems rich in natural resources. The steady rise in heat will devastate crop yields and make much of the planet uninhabitable. Climate scientists warn that once temperatures rise by 4℃, the earth, at best, will be able to sustain a billion people. The more insurmountable the crisis becomes, the more we, like our prehistoric ancestors, will retreat into self-defeating responses, violence, magical thinking and denial.  The historian Arnold Toynbee, who singled out unchecked militarism as the fatal blow to past empires, argued that civilizations are not murdered, but commit suicide. They fail to adapt to a crisis, ensuring their own obliteration. Our civilization’s collapse will be unique in size, magnified by the destructive force of our fossil fuel-driven industrial society. But it will replicate the familiar patterns of collapse that toppled civilizations of the past. The difference will be in scale, and this time there will be no exit. Tyler Durden Tue, 08/16/2022 - 16:25.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 16th, 2022