Advertisements


Taiwan Is Part Of China, Russia Declares, As Two Powers Coordinate To Resist US Pressure

Taiwan Is Part Of China, Russia Declares, As Two Powers Coordinate To Resist US Pressure.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

Luongo: There Is No Getting Off Europe"s Elevator To Hell

Luongo: There Is No Getting Off Europe's Elevator To Hell Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog, The European Union has been, in the immortal words of Private Hudson from Aliens, “… on an express elevator to hell, going down,” for a long time now. From the day of then ECB President Mario Draghi’s “We will do whatever it takes” speech in July 2012 to today, the EU has chosen a path of fiscal, foreign and monetary policy insanity that has lead it directly to where it is today, the sick man at the geopolitical table. The most recent missive from the great Alistair Crooke over at Strategic Culture Foundation has some very choice words for Europe as well as his always trenchant analysis. “Two events have combined to make a major inflection point for Europe: The first was America’s abandonment of the Great Game ploy of attempting to keep the two Central Asian great land powers – Russia and China – divided and at odds with each other. This was the inexorable consequence to the US’ defeat in Afghanistan – and the loss of its last strategic foothold in Asia… Crooke lays out the fundamentals which led to the formation of AUKUS and the recent application of a more rapid depreciation curve for NATO. Underscoring the divisions within the U.S. policy establishment which left Europe, especially France, twisting in the wind with the shift in priorities, Crooke quotes George Friedman of Stratfor, who argued recently on Polish television that NATO serves no real current purpose for a U.S. that finally acknowledges China, not Russia, as its biggest threat. Since Friedman and Stratfor are as deep state as they come, you should always read Friedman’s publicly available ‘analysis’ as an operations manual for U.S. foreign policy.  It’s the real official policy said out loud. The key to understanding the splits within the western global order represented by the new AUKUS Alliance between the U.S., Australia and the U.K. is the following: … the EU, Friedman has made ruthlessly clear, is not viewed by the US security élite as a serious global player – or really as much more than one ‘punter’, amongst others, buying at the US weapons supermarket. The submarine contract with Australia however, was a centerpiece to Paris’s strategy for European ‘strategic autonomy’. Macron believed France and the EU had established a position of lasting influence in the heart of the Indo-Pacific. Better still, it had out-maneuvered Britain, and broken into the Anglophone world of the Five Eyes to become a privileged defense partner of Australia. Biden dissed that. And Commission President [Ursula] von der Leyen told CNN that there could not be “business as usual” after the EU was blindsided by AUKUS. Honestly, though, I really have to question whether they were actually “blindsided by this?”  If people like von der Leyen and Macron are this angry over AUKUS then it’s clear that they, like Pelosi and Schumer here in the U.S., have not one clue as to what the plans actually are. They are just mostly uninformed midwit lieutenants. Crooke’s points, however, are well taken that the U.S. built the EU with the idea of it being the soft-power projector to complement the U.S.’s real (military and financial) power projector. I’ve been saying for years now that the EU’s technocratic miasma of suck was designed to “California-ize” the world the same way that state has ruined the U.S. from within.   But that only works if the U.S. also agrees to all of the EU’s moronic Climate Change policy.   So, Davos installed O’Biden to get things back on track when Trump and Brexit put their plans on the rocks by pulling out of the Paris Accords, the TTIP, the TPP and all the rest of his very important moves like shaking down NATO for money and questioning its purpose. Clinton was supposed to perfect this Atlanticist, two-pronged Great Truncheon of Held to subjugate the lesser beings and she lost. The U.S. had the military power backed up by the EU strangling the world economy with useless ESG regulatory minutia gumming up the works worldwide.  The EU’s part was really the most important because with it, the combination of the post-WWII monetary and transnational institutions, the Fed calling the shots for the world’s economy, and the ECB destroying internal opposition to the EU itself, all of those regulations are borne much more easily by established countries/businesses than emerging ones. These costs drain capital when it is most needed, during the rapid expansion and growth periods. They are massive barriers to entry into new markets, anti-competitive to the core and designed to roll market share up across all important sectors into the waiting arms of the people writing the campaign and lobbyist checks. Moreover, it also ensures that all capital raises are bloated to contain these costs as well, creating bureaucracies and whole divisions (HR anyone?) which sap the country/company of its dynamism and leave it vulnerable to internal strife and attack while enriching the bookrunners for these ridiculous deals spinning the hamster wheel that much faster. Now, however, Davos is scrambling to maintain the EU’s position through the O’Biden Administration while inertial forces within the U.S. and UK are breaking off from them.   This is why I’m more convinced than ever that Wall St. and The Fed are no longer on board with the Davos Great Reset. Before I go there I need to address Crooke’s other ‘event’ that forced this change by O’Biden. The second ‘leg’ to this global inflection point – also triggered around the Afghan pivot into the Russo-Chines axis – was the SCO summit last month. A memorandum of understanding was approved that would tie together China’s Belt and Road Initiative to the Eurasian Economic Community, within the overall structure of the SCO, whilst adding a deeper military dimension to the expanded SCO structure. In short, Asia is being stitched together by institutions almost equally governed by Russia and China. Russia with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and CSTO and China with the SCO and BRI – Belt and Road Initiative. This integration now can take place with the U.S. pullback from Afghanistan and soon from both Syria and Iraq, regardless of whatever Biden may have mumbled before having his afternoon Jell-O and getting his Depends changed. All that has happened here is the U.S. has finally admitted there are limits to its resources because the threats to it are too expensive to keep up with. Two can play the cost attrition game it seems. The deep state actors sympathetic with but not necessarily aligned with Davos had to choose — Russia or China. They have chosen China and (this is the key point), Davos has shifted its strategies in line with this change. They are finally improvising. This is why Biden was sent to Geneva to sue for peace over Ukraine in June. It’s also why the O’Biden administration begged Moscow to accept an audience with the High Priest of Neoconservatism, Victoria Nuland. To truly shore up Europe’s Eastern front requires an particular messenger. Who better than Nuland to finally admit publicly that the Minsk Agreements are the only way forward to solve the status of the Donbass to convey to the Russians that, finally, the U.S. may actually be serious about ending our insane policy in Eastern Europe. And with it, admit publicly that NATO was no longer all that important. Davos wanted this outcome because it ensures that war with Russia is off the table now that Ukraine will be settled by relatively peaceful means with less overt foreign intervention. It also conserves precious resources, while building anti-American sentiment in Europe, and clarifies who works for whom. And this fits in with the overall plans to reorient the U.S. into a war footing with China, who themselves, are already on a war footing with us. Now, with that said, let’s back up and ask the important question left hanging by Crooke’s essay? Why was Europe was purposefully demilitarized over these past few decades?  What started as a U.S. protectorate after WWII has now been all but abandoned.  NATO’s position in Europe is a joke vis a vis Russia. In fact, relations with NATO are so bad Russia just recalled its ambassador to NATO, a further signal that it is no longer as important as it was just a few weeks ago.   Think back to the incidents of the past few years in Syria and all of the redlines that were nearly tripped that could have created an Article 5 invocation and open War with Russia. I absolutely maintain that France and Israel attempted to do this by shooting down the Russian IL-20 ELINT plane in September 2018. France and Israel could see the writing on the wall then, Trump was depreciating NATO. The foreign policy realignment was in place then. Macron can talk all he wants about an EU army, but he’ll only get that after hyperinflation forces debt default, UBI, conscription and a digital euro.  Without those conditions he won’t have a population desperate enough to become part of that… and even then, it will only be used to suppress dissent within the EU, as a kind of supranational police force. For a preview of that watch some video of who is trying to put down the strikes happening across Italy. But, back to my question, why is this happening now?  There had to be a strategic purpose to this, especially considering Britain’s legendary and inconsolable animosity towards Russia, which should have sustained this policy. Money and resources.  As always, big projects are always more expensive than you budget for.  I’ve built enough outbuildings, goat sheds, fences and garden beds to know that the Bill of Materials in my head never matches the credit card statements at the end of the month. The West is broke, they know it and there isn’t enough money to support a two-front war anymore against both Russia and China…while simultaneously subjugating central Asia to make the world safe for Zionists in Israel. In fact, if that policy was meant as a long-term project to sap the U.S. of its dynamism and future, then job well done! (Just in case anyone is confused my speculation above is the subtlest form of sarcasm, of course that was the freaking plan.). So, with the collapse of the COVID-9/11 narrative back in May, when Fauci was first exposed as a liar by Rand Paul, the strategy had to shift… to focus on a war with China. This is when Davos began improvising, for it was pretty obvious they believed they could continue this maximum pressure campaign through U.S. and British belligerence indefinitely while COVID kept everyone fearful and thinking it would hand them unlimited spending to build the final phase of their more perfect technocracy. Too bad for them COVID-9/11 didn’t work out that way. In the grand scheme of things, this demilitarization of Europe was a policy set in place to ensure it wouldn’t be a target in the next ‘great war’ that’s coming between the U.S. and China.  Think it through. The U.S. survived WWII because none of its industrial base was bombed.  Two big oceans separated the U.S. from the World at War.  Now, we’re looking at a war between China and an overextended U.S. fighting a war in China’s back yard, the Pacific. What separates them from Europe? Asia, for one.  Africa for another.   So, from the geographical context, the war that’s to come it only makes sense that Europe, if they keep their heads down, will be the place not attacked directly.  During the war to come capital can flee both the U.S. and China and come to them, the safe harbor. What Davos is clearly thinking here is that they can play the role the U.S. played after WWII, installing its system on the post-war industrial world, while using that same system to keep the emerging and frontier parts of the world on the debt hamster wheel.  And to get that done they destroy the middle class and old industrial base at home to ensure continental hegemony through total surveillance and a digital euro. The problem however, is that the U.S., Russia and China are wise to this game and everyday take concrete steps to ensure that plan fails miserably, c.f. everything I wrote above. Making Europe a laughingstock of a military power now means this is the best possible outcome given the shift we’ve seen this year. Davos is realizing very quickly that its power base is shrinking and while they still hope to institute their glorious technocratic revolution from the top down through manipulating elections, installing puppet governments and openly lying about why their doing it (Climate Change), the reality is their costs are skyrocketing (c.f. commodity prices) and their minions in the U.S. are proving to be particularly inept. I’m convinced this wasn’t the original plan.  I’m sure Macron was told that NATO would be there forever while they built his EU Army through French weapons contractors and then all of it could be transferred to the U.N. after the next ‘Great War.’ And I’m sure there’s still some version of that on the table as a kind-of Plan R or whatever. But COVID-9/11 didn’t work out as planned.  The time table they worked under was too compressed.  ADE is killing them.  The virus is burning out too fast. The vaccines are dangerous to too many to countenance and, most importantly, they are unnecessary for an even broader slice of the population. Opposition to their ridiculous leaders is rising.   We now have full-on Randian Strikes going on and gods bless my kin in Italy for standing up to the truly odious Mario Draghi. If the Green Pass fails there, the whole Davos project collapses. Let me reiterate, these people are not worth fearing. They can’t harm you if you have nothing they can take from you. I’ve been saying we live in the Third Act of Atlas Shrugged for years now…. but to see it happen warms the cockles of my cold, dead heart. The narrative collapsed too quickly and it’s all slipping through their fingers.  This is why AUKUS had to happen. The time table for war with China had to accelerate.  We’ve got troops stationed in Taiwan, FFS.  The Chinese have to respond to this or they lose massive face.  Yes, it’s only ‘two dozen’ according to the WSJ, but it’s not the number that matters but that that number is non-zero. To sum up, I don’t think this course of events was inevitable. The best way to think of it is as a flow chart, with a very fluid Gantt chart on the wall over at Spectre HQ.   And that should make the ‘why’ of Europe’s ‘demilitarization’ clear now. O’Biden and Davos shifted gears after COVID-9/11 failed and this was the fall back plan because it jibed so well with existing U.S. and UK deep state strategies that are decades old.   It’s not like this wasn’t an easy pivot, after all.   It was the plan in the first place, it’s just been modified to leave Europe at the mercy of Russia which was the price to pay when looking at the balance sheet of assets and realizing someone else needs to pay the bills. It also means that my analysis of German politics is correct and that in order to save Europe and some fragment of the globalists’ dream, it means a split in the EU.  I mean, how else does Russia sign off on this without getting the guarantee that hostilities from the West end? Davos still have their sights set on a world without war through technocracy, ruthless policing and surveillance, and fake value(s) precluding societal level war.  It’s monumentally stupid, but, then again, so is Communism.   Whie they aren’t to Ornette Coleman levels of improvising yet, they are damn close to it.   The problem is they didn’t tell any of the lieutenants what was coming. They just issued orders through O’Biden and left the continentals angry they weren’t consulted.  Macron is genuinely furious as Crooke points out, because he thought they were all on the same team.   And that’s creating confusion as to what’s really going on.   They aren’t on the same team. Macron is still Davos’ best chance to hold onto France so don’t expect any miracles from the corrupt French political system and he will do exactly as he’s told. So will the Germans until the German people force a change on their political system. Don’t expect that until inflation truly ravages the middle class there. Knowing that they’re chanting “Let’s Go Brandon” in the former East Germany, tells you all you need to know about where theirs heads are. This is the world as it lays out today. There are cracks forming all along the big Davosian plan for the future. Their agents still command the microphone and the media still soldiers on as if anyone cares what they think. And while many people are still so very asleep, enough aren’t that very soon now, the costs to the enforcers of these idiotic mandates personally will be too great for Davos to pay off. And that’s when the real chaos starts. But now that the U.S. and UK have told the EU they are junior partners in the great game, it has almost zero options. The only way Davos can salvage a tactical win is to get rid of Jay Powell as FOMC Chair who is strangling the European capital markets. They took their shot, got a couple of scalps but the reality is that there is no good narrative left for continuing to terrorize people over COVID-9/11 and not raise rates and let the economy run. So, that strategy is a non-starter. Why replace a guy who is the only one actually defending U.S. interests within the halls of power and who has the confidence of the guys who write the real checks in D.C., i.e. Wall St. Europe doesn’t like it but it may be the best possible solution after this debacle. So, watch now as Europe collapses and Davos tries to create a war that no rational person wants, costing everyone far more than just the money in their wallets while the Private Hudsons look up and finally say, “No.” *  *  * Join my Patreon if you can see the cracks forming. BTC: 3GSkAe8PhENyMWQb7orjtnJK9VX8mMf7ZfBCH: qq9pvwq26d8fjfk0f6k5mmnn09vzkmeh3sffxd6rytDCR: DsV2x4kJ4gWCPSpHmS4czbLz2fJNqms78oELTC: MWWdCHbMmn1yuyMSZX55ENJnQo8DXCFg5kDASH: XjWQKXJuxYzaNV6WMC4zhuQ43uBw8mN4VaWAVES: 3PF58yzAghxPJad5rM44ZpH5fUZJug4kBSaETH: 0x1dd2e6cddb02e3839700b33e9dd45859344c9edcDGB: SXygreEdaAWESbgW6mG15dgfH6qVUE5FSE Tyler Durden Tue, 10/19/2021 - 06:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 19th, 2021

The SEC doesn"t want to let firms and individuals get by without admitting wrongdoing anymore as part of enforcement actions

Wrongdoing admissions will strengthen the deterrent value of enforcement actions, the head of the SEC's enforcement division said, according to WSJ. Gurbir Grewal directs the SEC's division of enforcement. AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File The SEC will require companies involved in settling some civil enforcement actions to admit wrongdoing, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The agency that enforces laws against market manipulation largely abandoned admissions of wrongdoing during the Trump administration. But businesses may resist the SEC's latest shift because admitting violations of the law can lead to other consequences. The Securities and Exchange Commission will return to a policy of requiring companies involved in settling some civil enforcement actions to admit wrongdoing, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday. Such admissions in certain cases will strengthen the deterrent value of enforcement actions and increase public trust in financial and government institutions, said SEC Enforcement Director Gurbir Grewal, who addressed an annual agency conference sponsored by the Practising Law Institute. "When it comes to accountability, few things rival the magnitude of wrongdoers admitting that they broke the law," Grewal was quoted as saying by WSJ. "Admissions, given their attention-getting nature, also serve as a clarion call to other market participants to stamp out and self-report the misconduct, to the extent it's occurring in their firm."The agency that enforces laws against market manipulation is returning to a policy started during the Obama administration that was largely abandoned during the Trump administration, the report said.The SEC in 2013 said it would make companies and individuals admit wrongdoing as a condition of settling civil charges in certain cases. The agency at that time was facing pressure to show it could clamp down on Wall Street abuses after failing to detect practices in mortgage-bond and derivatives markets that contributed to the 2008 global financial crisis.But businesses may resist the SEC's latest shift because admitting violations of the law can lead to other consequences. For example, investors or other parties may file litigation claiming they were harmed by wrongdoing.Meanwhile, the SEC also can refer fraud cases to the Department of Justice which can enforce securities laws through criminal penalties. Fraud is the most serious type of allegation the SEC investigates.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 13th, 2021

Mitch McConnell reverses on the debt ceiling as Congress poised to get another 2 months to avoid a government default

Senate Republicans were in disarray earlier as they struggled to come up with enough support to clear an initial procedural vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on July 21. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite The Senate on Thursday approved a debt-limit extension, sending it to the House. The move is a reversal for Sen. Mitch McConnell, who had urged the GOP to block Democrats' efforts. The deal punts the risk of a default to December, when Congress will again have to act. See more stories on Insider's business page. The Senate on Thursday approved a measure to extend the debt limit through early December, defusing a perilous showdown that brought the US to the edge of default. The bill now goes to the House for a vote sometime next week.The tally was 50-48, with every Senate Republican opposed to the measure during final passage. But 11 GOP senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined Democrats to cut off debate and break the filibuster's 60-vote threshold in an initial procedural vote."Republicans played a risky and partisan game, and I am glad their brinkmanship didn't work," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a floor speech.McConnell first reversed course Wednesday afternoon, offering Democrats a short extension to at least temporarily avoid a government default. The Kentucky Republican had been blocking Democrats' efforts to raise the ceiling since early last week. Thursday's vote marked a reversal from that stance and arrived just 11 days before the government's estimated deadline for a default.It raises the debt ceiling by $480 billion, letting the government continue borrowing freely until December, according to Treasury Department estimates.Many Republicans were unhappy with McConnell's olive branch, and the party struggled to scrounge up enough votes to cross the 60-vote threshold to end debate."We need to be able to get on this," Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told Insider. "The only way we're going to be able to get on this is if we can get 60 votes. I'm going to be one of those 60."Most Senate Republicans were lined up in opposition to the debt-limit extension. "Debt is not the friend of the American public, and we should resist it," Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky told Insider.The debt ceiling is the statutory cap on how much the government can borrow to pay its bills, which include pandemic relief and other key aid programs from the past two years. If Congress fails to raise the limit, the government can default on its debt and plunge the US into a new economic crisis.Thursday's deal essentially kicks the can down the road. Democrats are still reluctant to use the time-consuming process known as reconciliation to raise the limit without any GOP support. But McConnell was adamant Wednesday that Republicans still wanted them to do so - especially now that they have more time."This will moot Democrats' excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone debt-limit legislation through reconciliation," he said in a statement.Senate Republicans have maintained that Democrats must unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, arguing that the GOP wants no part in financing Democrats' yet-to-be-passed $3.5 trillion social-spending plan. But Democrats argued that raising the ceiling was a bipartisan responsibility, since doing so would cover debt incurred from both the Trump and Biden administrations, including President Donald Trump's $900 billion stimulus package from December.Democrats ramped up the pressure on the GOP throughout the week. President Joe Biden on Monday lambasted Republicans for their obstruction, and he spoke with business leaders on Wednesday about the harm a government default would cause."Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job - they're using their power to prevent us from doing our job of saving the economy from a catastrophic event," Biden said during the Monday press conference. "I think, quite frankly, it's hypocritical, dangerous, and disgraceful."Brace for December deadlinesThe GOP started to blink Wednesday as Democrats explored several options for raising the ceiling on their own. One solution to emerge was a one-time change to the filibuster that would let Democrats raise the limit with a party-line vote. Biden floated blowing a hole in the filibuster on Tuesday, telling reporters it was "a real possibility."It may well have forced McConnell's hand. "It's not an insignificant part of the calculation, I'm quite sure," Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told Insider in an interview.The minority leader has long warned that eliminating or weakening the filibuster would plunge the Senate into chaos. The moderate Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have been strongly opposed to any filibuster changes, but pressure on them to reverse course would most likely have intensified as the country hurtled toward default.And default would be calamitous. Government funding would quickly freeze for Social Security beneficiaries, members of the armed services, and public workers. Moody's Analytics estimated the country would slide into a recession and lose nearly 6 million jobs, with American household wealth plummeting by $15 trillion as fears of a government default could tank stocks.Hitting the ceiling would also be disastrous for the country's global strength. The US dollar serves as the world's reserve currency, and its power relies on trust in the government to pay its debt.Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned September 27 that nothing would be "more harmful" to the currency than a default. She said the dollar would quickly lose its relevance, interest rates would shoot higher, and Americans' payments on everything from credit-card bills to home loans would soar.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 8th, 2021

Mitch McConnell reverses on the debt ceiling as Congress poised to get another two months to avoid a government default

Senate Republicans were in disarray earlier as they struggled to come up with enough support to clear an initial procedural vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives to speak to reporters ahead of a test vote scheduled by Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York on the bipartisan infrastructure deal senators brokered with President Joe Biden, in Washington, Wednesday, July 21, 2021. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite The Senate approved a short-term debt limit extension through early December, sending it to the House. The move marks a reversal for Sen. McConnell, who previously urged the GOP to block Democrats' efforts. The deal punts the risk of a government default to December, when Congress will have to raise the ceiling again. See more stories on Insider's business page. The Senate approved a measure to extend the debt limit through early December, defusing a perilous showdown that brought the US to the edge of default. The bill now goes to the House for a vote sometime next week.The tally was 50-48 with every Senate Republican opposed to the measure during final passage. But 11 GOP senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined Democrats to cut off debate and break the filibuster's 60-vote threshold in an initial procedural vote."Republicans played a risky and partisan game, and I am glad their brinkmanship didn't work," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a floor speech.McConnell caved Wednesday afternoon, offering Democrats a short extension to avoid a looming government default as . The senator from Kentucky had been blocking Democrats' efforts to raise the ceiling since early last week. Thursday's vote marks a reversal from that stance and arrived just 11 days before the government's estimated deadline.It raises the debt ceiling by $480 billion, letting the government continue borrowing freely until December, according to Treasury Department estimates.Many Republicans were unhappy with McConnell's olive branch and the party struggled to scrounge up enough votes to cross the 60-vote threshold to end debate."We need to be able to get on this," Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told Insider. "The only way we're gonna be able to get on this is if we can get 60 votes. I'm gonna be one of those 60."Most Senate Republicans were lined up in opposition to the debt limit extension. "Debt is not the friend of the American public and we should resist it," Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky told Insider.The debt ceiling is the statutory cap on how much the government can borrow to repay its bills. Suspending the limit gives the US more time to pay its bills for pandemic stimulus and other key aid programs from the last two years. If Congress fails to raise the limit, the government can default on its debt and plunge the US into a new economic crisis.Thursday's deal essentially kicks the can down the road, leaving Congress where it started heading into the holiday season. Democrats are still reluctant to use the time-consuming reconciliation process to lift the limit on their own. And McConnell was adamant on Wednesday that Republicans won't offer any more support."This will moot Democrats' excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone debt limit legislation through reconciliation," he said in a statement.Senate Republicans had maintained that Democrats must unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, arguing the GOP wants no part in financing the $3.5 trillion social spending plan. But Democrats argued that raising the ceiling is a bipartisan responsibility. Doing so would cover debt incurred from both the Trump and the Biden administrations, including President Donald Trump's $900 billion stimulus package from last December.Democrats ramped up the pressure on the GOP throughout the week. President Joe Biden lambasted Republicans for their obstruction on Monday, and spoke with business leaders on Wednesday about the harm of a potential government default."Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, they're using their power to prevent us from doing our job of saving the economy from a catastrophic event," Biden said during the Monday press conference. "I think, quite frankly, it's hypocritical, dangerous, and disgraceful."Brace for December deadlinesThe GOP started to blinked on Wednesday as Democrats explored several options for raising the ceiling on their own. One solution to emerge was a one-time change to the filibuster that would let Democrats raise the limit with a party-line vote. Biden floated blowing a hole in the filibuster on Tuesday, telling reporters it was "a real possibility" to avoid a federal default.It may very well have forced McConnell's hand. "It's not an insignificant part of the calculation, I'm quite sure," Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told Insider in an interview.The minority leader has long warned that eliminating or weakening the filibuster would plunge the Senate into chaos. Moderate Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema were strongly opposed to any filibuster changes, but pressure on them to reverse course would likely intensify as the country hurtled toward the October 18 deadline.While the deal only delays an inevitable debt-ceiling battle until the winter, it also staves off a horrific economic threat. Failure to raise the ceiling would be calamitous. Government funding would quickly freeze for Social Security beneficiaries, members of the armed services, and public workers. The country would slide into a recession and lose nearly 6 million jobs, Moody's Analytics estimated. American household wealth would plummet by $15 trillion as fears of a government default could tank stocks.Hitting the ceiling would also be disastrous for the country's global strength. The US dollar serves as the world's reserve currency, and its power relies on trust in the government to pay its debt.Nothing would be "more harmful" to the currency than a default, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned September 27. The dollar would quickly lose its relevance, interest rates would shoot higher, and Americans' payments on everything from credit-card bills to home loans would soar, she added.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 7th, 2021

France & The Fraying Of NATO

France & The Fraying Of NATO Authored by Gary Leupp via Counterpunch.org, Biden has infuriated France by arranging the agreement to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. This replaces a contract to purchase a fleet of diesel-powered subs from France. Australia will have to pay penalties for breach of contract but the French capitalists will lose around 70 billion dollars. The perceived perfidy of both Canberra and Washington has caused Paris to compare Biden to Trump. The UK is third partner in the agreement so expect post-Brexit Franco-British relations to deteriorate further. This is all good, in my opinion! It’s also a good thing that Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan was poorly orchestrated with the lingering “coalition partners” such as Britain, French and Germany, producing angry criticism. It’s great that the British prime minister proposed to France a “Coalition of the Willing” to continue the fight in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal—and better that it was dead in the water. (Maybe the French better than the Brits remember the Suez Crisis of 1956, the disastrous joint Anglo-French-Israeli effort to reimpose imperialist control over the canal. Not only did it lack U.S. participation; Eisenhower rationally shut it down after warnings from the Egyptians’ Soviet advisors.) It’s good that these three countries heeded the U.S. command to uphold their NATO promise to stand with the U.S. when attacked; that they lost over 600 troops in a fruitless effort; and that in the end the U.S. didn’t see fit to even involve them in the end plans. It’s good to wake up to the fact that the U.S. imperialists could care less about their input or their lives. but only demand their obedience and sacrifice. It’s wonderful that Germany, despite obnoxious U.S. opposition, has maintained its involvement in the Nordstream II natural gas pipeline project along with Russia. The last three U.S. administrations have opposed the pipeline, claiming it weakens the NATO alliance and helps Russia (and urging purchase of more expensive U.S. energy sources instead—to enhance mutual security, don’t you see). The Cold War arguments have fallen on deaf ears. The pipeline was completed last month. Good for global free trade and for national sovereignty, and a significant European blow to U.S. hegemony. It’s great that Trump in Aug. 2019 raised the ridiculous prospect of purchasing Greenland from Denmark, indifferent to the fact that Greenland is a self-governing entity, within the Kingdom of Denmark. (It is 90% Inuit, and led by political parties pressing for greater independence.) It’s marvelous that when the Danish prime minister gently, with good humor, refused his ignorant, insulting and racist proposal, he exploded in rage and cancelled his state visit including state dinner with the queen. He offended not only the Danish state but popular opinion throughout Europe with his boorishness and colonial arrogance. Excellent. Trump personally, needlessly insulted the prime minister of Canada and the chancellor of Germany with the same childish language he’d used against political opponents. He raised questions in Europeans’ and Canadians’ minds about the value of an alliance with such vileness. That was a major historical contribution. Good also that, in Libya in 2011, Hillary Clinton working with the French and British leaders secured UN approval for a NATO mission to protect civilians in Libya. And that, when the U.S.-led mission exceeded the UN resolution and waged full-out war to topple the Libyan leader, enraging China and Russia who called out the lie, some NATO nations declined to participate or turned back in disgust. Another U.S. imperialist war based on lies creating disorder and flooding Europe with refugees. It was good only in the fact that it exposed once again the utter moral bankruptcy of the U.S.A. so widely now associated with images of Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantanamo. All in the name of NATO. *  *  * Over the last two decades, with the Soviet Union and “communist threat” receding memories, the U.S. has systematically expanded this anti-Soviet, anti-communist postwar alliance called NATO to surround Russia. Any unprejudiced person looking at a map can understand Russia’s concern. Russia spends about a fifth of what the U.S. and NATO spend on military expenses. Russia is not a military threat to Europe or North America. So—the Russians have been asking since 1999, when Bill Clinton broke his predecessor’s promise to Gorbachev and resumed NATO expansion by adding Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia—why do you keep trying to expend to surround us? Meanwhile more and more Europeans are doubting the leadership of the United States. That means doubting the purpose and value of NATO. Formed to confront an imaginary Soviet invasion of “western” Europe, it was never deployed in war during the Cold War. Its first war indeed was the Clintons’ war on Serbia in 1999. This conflict, which severed the Serbian historical heartland from Serbia to create the new (dysfunctional) state of Kosovo, has since been repudiated by participants Spain and Greece who note that the UN resolution authorizing a “humanitarian” mission in Serbia explicitly stated that the Serbian state remain undivided. Meantime (after the bogus “Rambouillet agreement” was signed) the French foreign minister complained that the U.S. was acting like a hyper-pouissance (“hyperpower” as opposed to mere superpower). The future of NATO lies with the U.S., Germany, France and the UK. The last three were long members of the EU, which while a rival trading bloc generally coordinated policies with NATO. NATO has overlapped the EU such that virtually all of the countries admitted to the military alliance since 1989 have first joined NATO, then the EU. And within the EU—which is after all, a trading bloc that competes with North America—the UK long served as a kind of U.S. surrogate urging cooperation with Russian trade boycotts, etc. Now the U.K. has split from the EU, unavailable to, say, pressure Germany to avoid deals with the Russians Washington opposes. Good! Germany has a number of reasons to want to increase trade with Russia and has now shown the will to stand up to the U.S. Germany and France both challenged George W. Bush’s Iraq war based on lies. We should not forget how Bush (promoted lately as a statesman by the Democrats!) rivaled his successor Trump as a vulgar, lying buffoon. And if Obama seemed a hero in contrast, his magnetism ebbed as Europeans learned that they were all being monitored by the National Security Agency, and that the calls of Angela Merkel and the Pope were bugged. This was the land of freedom and democracy, always boasting about liberating Europe from the Nazis and expecting eternal payoff in the form of bases and political deference. It has been 76 years since the fall of Berlin (to the Soviets, as you know, not to the U.S.); 72 since the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); 32 since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the promise by George W. H. Bush to Gorbachev NOT to expand NATO further; 22 since the resumption of NATO expansion; 22 since the U.S.-NATO war on Serbia including the aerial bombing of Belgrade; 20 since NATO went to war at U.S. behest in Afghanistan, resulting in ruin and failure; 13 years since the U.S. recognized Kosovo as an independent country, and NATO announced the near-term admission of Ukraine and Georgia, resulting in the brief Russo-Georgia War and Russian recognition of the states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia; 10 years since the grotesque NATO mission to destroy and sew chaos in Libya, producing more terror throughout the Sahel and tribal and ethnic violence in the crumbling country, and producing more waves of refugees; 7 since the bold, bloody U.S.-backed putsch in Ukraine that placed a pro-NATO party in power, provoking the ongoing rebellion among ethnic Russians in the east and obliging Moscow to re-annex the Crimean Peninsula, inviting unprecedented ongoing U.S. sanctions and U.S. pressure on allies to comply; 5 since a malignant narcissist moron won the U.S. presidency and soon alienated allies by his pronouncements, insults, evident ignorance, a belligerent approach, raising questions in a billion minds about the mental stability and judgment of the voters of this country; 1 year since a career warmonger who has long vowed to expand and strengthen NATO, who became the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine after the 2014 coup, his mission being to clean up corruption to prepare Ukraine for NATO membership (and who is the father of Hunter Biden who famously sat on the board of Ukraine’s leading gas company 2014-2017 making millions for no apparent reason or work done) became president. 1 year since the world saw repeatedly on TV the 9 minute video of an open, public police lynching on the streets of Minneapolis, surely many among the views wondering what right this racist nation has to lecture China or anyone on human rights. 9 months since the U.S. capitol was stormed by U.S. brown shirts brandishing Confederate flags and fascist symbols and calling for the hanging of Trump’s vice president for treason. It is a long record of terrifying Europe with seemingly unstable leaders (Bush no less than Trump); harassing Europe with demands it minimizes trade with Russia and China and obey U.S. rules on Iran, and demanding participation in its imperialist wars far from the North Atlantic to Central Asia and Northern Africa. It is also a record of provoking Russia while expanding the anti-Russian juggernaut. It has meant actually using NATO militarily (as in Serbia, Afghanistan, and Libya) to cement the military alliance under U.S. direction, the stationing of 4000 U.S. troops in Poland, and threatening flights in the Baltic. Meanwhile, multiple U.S. agencies work overtime to plot “color revolutions” in the counties bordering Russia: Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine. NATO is dangerous and evil. It should be terminated. Opinion polls in Europe suggest a rise in NATO skepticism (good in itself) and opposition (better). It was already split seriously once: in 2002-2003 over the Iraq War. Indeed the manifest criminality of the Iraq War, the obvious willingness of the Americans to use disinformation, and the buffoonic personality of the U.S. president probably shocked Europe as much as the beastly Trump. The amusing thing is that Biden and Blinken, Sullivan and Austin, all seem to think none of this happened. They really seem to think that the world respects the United States as the (natural?) leader of something called the Free World —of nations committed to “democracy.” Blinken tells us and Europeans we’re confronting, “autocracy” in the form of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela all threatening us and our values. They seem think they can return to the 1950s, explain their moves as reflections of “American Exceptionalism,” posture as champions of “human rights,” cloak their interventions as “humanitarian missions,” and arm-twist their client-states into joint action. At present NATO is being pushed by Biden to identify (as it did in its last communique) the PRC as a “security threat” to Europe. But the reference to China was controversial. And NATO is divided on the matter of China. Some states do not see much of a threat and have every reason to expand ties with China, especially with the advent of the Belt and Road projects. They know that China’s GDP will soon exceed that of the U.S. and that the U.S. is not the economic superpower it was after the war when it established its hegemony over most of Europe. It has lost much of its basic strength but, like the Spanish Empire in the eighteenth century, none of its arrogance and brutality. Even after all the exposure. Even after all the shame. Biden flashing his trained smile announces “America is back!” expecting the world—especially “our allies”—to delight in the resumption of normalcy. But Biden should recall the stony silence that met Pence’s announcement at the Munich Security Conference in February 2019 when he conveyed Trump’s greetings. Do not these U.S. leaders not realize that in this century Europe’s GDP has come to match the U.S.’s? And that few people believe that the U.S. “saved” Europe from the Nazis, and then staved off the Soviet Communists, and revived Europe with the Marshall Plan, and continues to this day to protect Europe from the Russia that threatens to march west at any moment? Blinken wants to pick up and move on and lead the world forward. Back to normal! Sound, reliable U.S.leadership is back! Oh really? the French might ask. Stabbing a NATO ally in the back, sabotaging a signed $66 billion deal with far-off Australia? “Doing,” as the French foreign minister put it, “something Mr. Trump would do”? Not only France but the EU has denounced the U.S.-Australia deal. Some NATO members question how the Atlantic Alliance is served by a business dispute between members that pertains to what the Pentagon calls the “Indo-Pacific” region. And why—when the U.S. is attempting to secure NATO’s participation in a strategy of containing and provoking Beijing—it is not bothering to coordinate with France? Is Blinken unaware that France is an imperialist country with vast holdings in the Pacific? Does he know about the French naval facilities at Papeete, Tahiti, or the army, navy and air force bases in New Caledonia? The French conducted their nuclear blasts at Mururora, for god’s sake. As an imperialist country, does not France have the same right as the U.S. to gang up on China with Australia, in France’s corner of the Pacific? And if its close ally the U.S. decides to undermine the deal, should not etiquette have dictated that it at least inform its “oldest ally” about its intentions? The French condemnation of the submarines deal has been unprecedentedly sharp, in part, I imagine, due to the implicit disparagement of France as a great power. If the U.S. is urging its allies to join with it in confronting China, why does it not consult with France about an arms deal designed to do that, especially when it supplants one already openly negotiated by a NATO ally? Isn’t it clear that Biden’s appeals for “alliance unity” mean uniting, behind U.S. leadership around preparations for war on China? Gradually NATO is fraying. Again, this is a very good thing. I had worried that Biden would quickly work to integrate Ukraine into the alliance, but Merkel seems to have told him no. Europeans don’t want to be dragged into another U.S. war, especially against their great neighbor whom they know much better than Americans and have every reason to befriend. France and Germany, who (recall) opposed the U.S. war-based-on-lies on Iraq in 2003, are finally losing patience with the alliance and wondering what membership means other than joining with the U.S. in its quarrels with Russia and China. Tyler Durden Thu, 10/07/2021 - 02:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 7th, 2021

32 thoughtful corporate gifts your coworkers and employees will love

Surprise your employees in 2021 with elevated and thoughtful gifts, like flower bouquets from UrbanStems, mini cupcakes from Baked by Melissa, and more. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Vinebox/Facebook Give back to the hardworking employees who keep your business running with these 34 corporate gifts. These gifts are both thoughtful and useful, and unlike many corporate gifts, they don't look cheap. Find more gift ideas for everyone in your life here. A company is nothing without its employees. Whether you manage a lean team of five or oversee thousands across offices nationwide, you know that your employees are invaluable to the success of your business - and perhaps you want to thank them beyond simply paying a salary. Skip the tired and cheap corporate gifts and surprise your employees this year with these elevated, thoughtful, and useful options instead. Some come from our favorite startups, while others are just a click away on Amazon. Go the extra mile by customizing them with company colors, a logo, or a personal touch that truly shows your appreciation. Whether or not your company is working from home, it's our hope that these gifts will allow you to stay connected to both your business and each other.Here are 32 corporate gifts sure to wow your employees: Engraved spirits from ReserveBar ReserveBar Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label with Sugarfina Sweet & Sparkling 3pc Candy Bento Box, $85, available at ReserveBarYour employees are sure to appreciate a bottle of their favorite spirit from ReserveBar's corporate gifting guide. Choose from a wide variety of champagnes, tequilas, and cocktail gift sets based on your employee's preferences. If you're looking to make this gift even more special you can opt for a custom bottle engraving. To make a large ReserveBar order of 12 bottles or more, simply fill out this form. A variety of candies from Sugarwish Sugarwish Sugarwish Candy or Snack Gift Box, from $22, available at SugarwishIf your employees prefer sour, sweet, or even chocolate candy, Sugarwish's wide offering of sweets plus snacks has them covered. Sugarwish's corporate gifting program allows businesses to customize candies with branding and logos.  Bath and body gifts from L'Occitane L'Occitane The Happiest Hand Cream Trio, $29, available at L'OccitaneFrom luxurious hand creams that are sold every three seconds around the world to nourishing soaps and shower oils, L'Occitane offers many options to pamper your employees. You can combine multiple products to create mini gift baskets or distribute them individually. Email corporategifts@us.loccitane.com to learn more about its corporate gift program. A set of spa-worthy bath products from Nécessaire Nécessaire The Body Essentials, $60, available at NécessaireIf you're looking to gift employees bath and body products they'll actually want to use, Nécessaire offers luxurious products free of toxic ingredients. With three set options, multiple scents, and even a fragrance-free option, you'll surely find something they'll love. To participate in the brand's corporate gifting program, simply fill out this contact form. A box of customer favorite coffee blends from La Colombe La Colombe Greatest Hits Gifts Box, $40, available at La Colombe If they don't live near one of La Colombe's 30 locations, send them a gift set filled with the brand's fan-favorite blends instead. La Colombe's Coffee for a Crowd program allows you to mix and match different products from its vast selection and receive 20% off any order of 20 or more boxes of coffee, making it a great gift for your coffee-loving employees. Customized snack boxes from NatureBox NatureBox Bestsellers Box, $33.99, available at NatureBoxMany folks are missing the company snack bar now that lots of offices are closed, and nothing says I appreciate you quite like a box filled with delicious snacks. Why not make your their day with a custom snack box from NatureBox. NatureBox's SnackPass box allows employees to choose their preferred snacks and get them sent directly to their houses. NatureBox offers a wide snack selection and its corporate gifting program allows you to send a customized snack box after simply providing some basic information. Plants from BloomsyBox BloomsyBox Cape Town Orchid, $34.99, available at BloomsyBoxBring some life into your employee's home office setup by gifting them a beautiful flower arrangement or plant from BloomsyBox. The retailer offers a wide variety of floral arrangements and plants and even offers subscriptions so that you can send your employees flowers on a consistent basis. Gift sets from Bath & Body Works Bath & Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint Gift Set, $14.50, available at Bath & Body WorksWith all of the hand washing and sanitizing we're all doing due to the pandemic, there's no better gift than this set from Bath & Body Works, which includes a hand sanitizer, hand lotion, and hand soap. While you can order quantities up to 25 directly from the site, Bath & Body Works' corporate gifting program allows you to order larger quantities of gift sets as well as gift cards. Use this contact form, to get more information about Bath & Body Works' corporate gifting program or to make large gift orders. Decadent chocolates from Vosges Vosges Vosges Mini Exotic Chocolate Bar Library, $25, available at Vosges Our pick for the best chocolates you can gift, Vosges offers gift sets that are sure to impress your employees. Not only is each set beautifully packaged, it also includes high-quality chocolates. The Chocolate Bar Library is a great gifting option as it includes nine unique chocolate flavors, including banana coconut, matcha, and raw honey, in a keepsake box. Aside from this very giftable set, the Hazelnut Praline Bonbons set and the Champagne Truffle set are great gifting options. Vosges also offers a corporate concierge which can help guide you through personalizing your chocolate selection with your company's branding and help coordinate shipping to multiple addresses.  Sweet treats from Baked by Melissa Baked by Melissa Latest & Greatest Cupcake Pack, 25 count, from $32, available at Baked by MelissaThere's a reason that these bite-sized but flavorful cupcakes are a go-to gift for many. Baked by Melissa's Latest & Greatest pack includes customer favorites such as red velvet and cookie dough as well as new seasonal flavor additions. Purchase these cupcakes in large quantities directly from the product page, or if you would like a more customized experience for your giftees, check out the brand's corporate gifting information here. Face masks from Vistaprint Vistaprint Custom face masks, from $10, available at VistaprintIn our current times, face masks are an incredibly useful gift. Vistaprint, which is typically known for their customizable business cards, clothing, and more, has added masks to its extensive product lineup. Customize masks for your staff with your company's logo or choose from one of many pre-existing designs. Submit a request for orders of more than 1,000 masks here. Gift cards from Starbucks Amazon Gift cards, from $5, available at StarbucksWhile many of us no longer have the option of working from coffee shops, Starbucks gift cards are a great gift to help your employees switch their morning routine up. Since there are Starbucks all over the country, its gift cards are great if you have employees spread across many locations. Starbucks' corporate sales program has options that range from physical gift cards, branded gift cards, or digital gift cards delivered directly to your recipient's email. You can also set the value of the gift cards to anywhere between $5 to $500. Learn more about Starbucks' corporate sales program here. Delicious baked goods from Goldbelly Goldbelly Baked goods, from $29, available at GoldbellyYou can never go wrong with gifting delicious baked goods. With an option to narrow your search by region, Goldbelly's corporate gifting program allows you to send local eats to your employees no matter where they're located. It offers everything from organic mixed fruit baskets, to Magnolia Bakery's World Famous Banana Pudding. Every order also helps support small or minority-owned businesses. For bulk orders of 15 recipients or more, you can email concierge@goldbelly.com. Custom jackets from L.L.Bean L.L.Bean Custom jacket, from $89, available at L.L.BeanWhen it comes to gifting clothing, one size does not fit all. Luckily, L.L.Bean's business gifting site offers a wide range of inclusive sizes, from XS to 3X. Its fitness fleece quarter zip jacket is available in five colors and can be customized with a logo. The retailer also has a selection of other customizable products such as beanies, blankets, and duffle bags. You can place a corporate order here. Tumblers from YETI YETI/Instagram Rambler 20 Oz. Tumbler, $34.99, available at YETIWhether you're sipping on a hot or cold drink, YETI's stainless steel, double-wall insulated tumblers never fail to keep your beverage at the optimal temperature. Employees can keep them on their desk or bring them along to the trails on their days off. You can fill out a corporate gift form at YETI here. Socks from Bombas Bombas Men's Merino Calf Sock 8-Pack, $136.80 on sale (originally $152), available at BombasWomen's Merino Calf Sock 8-Pack, $136.80 on sale (originally $152), available at BombasPart of Bombas' appeal, other than the obvious differences in fit and feel, is that it donates a pair of socks to a homeless shelter every time someone buys a pair. This philanthropy doesn't stop if you take part in its corporate gifting program. It can work with your company's current charity partner, or help you find the perfect donation recipient. You can fill out a corporate gifting form at Bombas here. Gourmet gummies from Sugarfina Sugarfina/Instagram Clementine Bears Candy Cube, from $8.95, available at SugarfinaGive your employees a sweet treat they'll remember with a Sugarfina Candy Cube. Packaged thoughtfully in clear acrylic boxes, these candies were made for gifting. You can also design a custom Bento Box, candy cube, or taster packet with your company logo. Submit a corporate gifting request here for Sugarfina.  Nylon tote bags from BAGGU Baggu BAGGU Nylon Tote Bag, from $12, available at AmazonThese waterproof nylon totes hold 50 pounds of stuff, fold down to a fraction of their size to fit in your back pocket, and can be customized to let your employees flaunt where they work. As eco-friendly practices become more than a passing trend, you'll only see more of BAGGU's stylish yet functional bags out on the streets. You can request a custom quote at BAGGU here. Custom pencils from Shutterfly Shutterfly Custom Pencils, $7.50, available at ShutterflySomething to write with can always come in handy, be it for to-do lists, doodling, or anything in between. These custom pencils come in a set of 12, are available in four colors, and the message can be anything from a company name to a fun joke that coworkers share. Chocolate covered strawberries from Shari's Berries Shari's Berries/Facebook Gourmet Drizzled Strawberries, $44.99 to $74.99, available at Sharri's BerriesPeak indulgence is a box of strawberries dipped in rich milk, white, or dark chocolate, and maybe even sprinkled with nuts or chocolate chips. Shari's Berries are our favorite chocolate covered strawberries and they might just become your employees' favorite too after they try them. You can request a business gift quote at Shari's Berries here. Succulents from Lula's Garden Lula's Garden Urban Garden, $95, available at Lula's GardenA dash of greenery on their desk or in their room will make them happy — make it low-maintenance and nearly impossible to kill, and they'll be even happier. You can learn more about custom gifting at Lula's Garden here. Custom sticky notes from Zazzle Zazzle Post-It Notes, from $6.95, available at ZazzleSticky notes are a productive gift that you know they'll make great use of, whether jotting down assignments for the day or using them for out of office tasks and grocery lists. Add a custom touch to this office staple with a team photo, company logo, or personal text. Zazzle allows for orders of up to 500 packs at a time, and bulk ordering can save up to 60%. Patterned socks from Happy Socks Happy Socks/Instagram Big Dot Gift Box, $48, available at Happy SocksRegardless of your office dress code, fun socks will always be appreciated. You'll have difficulty narrowing down the final choice from Happy Socks' large selection of colorful, quirky patterns and prints. Custom designs with the company colors or logo are also available for orders of 6,000 pairs or more.  Suitcases from Away Away/Instagram The Carry-On, $225, available at AwayBusiness travel, so long as it's done safely, has never looked so cool. With a bag from Away, they'll be organized and stylish as they fly from destination to destination. You don't have to gift a piece of luggage — you can also choose a backpack, luggage tag, or Away's very useful travel wellness kit. Submit a corporate gifting form here for orders more than 25 units. Leather accessories from Leatherology Leatherology/Instagram Bifold Wallet with Flap, $90, available at LeatherologySend employees a beautiful, full-grain leather accessory like a luggage tag, business card case, or keychain. For an extra special touch, add a debossed monogram or logo. Though leather goods sound like a premium gift that could be out of your budget, Leatherology sells its bags and accessories without the markup, so customers don't have to spend so much for a touch of luxury. You can fill out a corporate gift inquiry form at Leatherology here. Sunglasses from Sunglass Hut Sunglass Hut/Instagram Polo Ralph Lauren Sunglasses, from $77.50, available at Sunglass HutSunglasses are a common gift or employee freebie, but they're rarely worn because they're plain or cheap. Sunglass Hut offers top brands and stylish options that everyone will actually want to wear. A perk of ordering through Sunglass Hut is that anyone can go to a store to receive a free personalized adjustment if the glasses don't fit well. You can learn about corporate gifting at Sunglass Hut here. Flowers from UrbanStems UrbanStems/Instagram Flower bouquets, from $50, available at UrbanStemsValentine's Day and Mother's Day aren't the only occasions where a bouquet of flowers is appropriate. Welcome new employees and remind current ones they're appreciated with beautifully arranged flowers from our favorite flower delivery service. Business customers can get up to 25% off regular prices. You can learn more about corporate gifting at UrbanStems here. Phone grips from PopSockets Popsockets/Instagram Rose Gold Aluminum PopGrip, $15, available at PopSocketsPopSockets PopGrips are the small, simple, and affordable phone accessories that your employees will wish you had gifted them earlier. These round buttons stick to the back of their phone and expand whenever they need a grip or a stand. They can take photos, text, and hold their phone without worrying about dropping it, or prop it up to stream content and video chat. You can order custom PopSockets PopGrips here. Mashable magnet toys from Speks Speks Speks Original Magnetic Balls, $27.95, available at SpeksOur team loved these tiny magnet toys a lot more than we expected to. Less obnoxious than fidget spinners, they're immensely satisfying to play with and build with as you work through a problem or concentrate on a task. The set includes 512 rare earth magnetic balls, metal building base, plastic splitter card, 16-page starter guide, and carrying case.  Candles from Otherland Otherland Chandelier Candle, $36, available at OtherlandThere are plenty of candles out there, but few quite as giftable as Otherland's. These premium candles are available in many scents to suit the different personalities of your employees, and they look great on any tabletop (office, bedroom, or otherwise). You can email hello@otherland.com to inquire about corporate gifts and place a large order. Hatch Idea notebooks Etsy Hatch Ideas Notebook, $25, available at EtsyA well-executed idea doesn't happen overnight. Help your employees hatch the next big idea with this cloth-bound notebook that's organized into three sections: Conceive, Incubate, and Hatch. Although there's no automatic option for bulk purchasing, the Etsy shop owner typically responds to messages within 24 hours and should be able to accommodate larger orders. Wine from Vinebox Vinebox/Instagram Vinebox Wine Gift Boxes, from $65, available at VineboxInstead of gifting them a bottle of wine you're not sure they'll like, let them personalize the selection themselves. Vinebox takes the intimidation and pressure out by delivering wine flights in unique bottles and helping budding wine enthusiasts discover their favorites. You can learn more about corporate gifting at Vinebox here. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 5th, 2021

Iran Says "War With Israel Has Already Begun" Amid Fresh Covert Attacks

Iran Says "War With Israel Has Already Begun" Amid Fresh Covert Attacks Amid a recent spate of covert espionage attacks on Iranian infrastructure - some publicly known and more that are possibly unknown - Iran's foreign ministry has declared that "war with Israel has already begun". A foreign ministry spokesmen told the major Israeli national Hebrew-language daily newspaper Maariv that "Israel has carried out attacks that were intended to destroy our nuclear program for peaceful purposes." Saeed Khatibzadeh declared "the war with Israel has already begun" - in an ominous message intended as a warning to the Israeli public and leadership.  Prior Israeli attacks inside Syria targeting 'Iranian assets', via Reuters The spokesman added that Israel "has murdered nuclear scientists and harmed the Iranian people. Iran is blamed for terrorism, but there is no good or bad terrorist. The entire crisis in the region is the fault of Israel." Rare or unlikely as it is for a top Iranian official to speak to Israeli publication, it's the closest Tehran has come in years to direct communication with Israeli entities. It's a sign that the two countries are truly on the brink of direct conflict.  "Israel severely harmed our civilian and research system," he described. "They speak about the Iranian nuclear threat, but Israel has hundreds of bombs, and it never signed the non-proliferation treaty for nuclear weapons." He's no doubt referencing the prior Natanz nuclear facility sabotage attack - now widely believed an act of covert espionage by Israel (likely via cyberattack) - as well as the brazen assassination outside of Tehran of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizade by a "remote controlled gun". There's also the near weekly Israeli attacks on Syria, which Tel Aviv says is part of campaign to disrupt Iranian and Hezbollah operations there.  In the interview Khatibzadeh also alleged that the United States too is still waging a campaign of "soft terror" through far-reaching sanctions. He said that the Iranian people are even prevented from obtaining crucial life-saving medicines through Washington sanctions. By design the US-led sanctions also pressure and punish any nation wishing to transfer goods into Iran, including European Union countries which have long taken are more sympathetic stance to the Iranians' plight. Just in the past week there's been more possible attacks on Iranian military sites... Before & after: An explosion occurred (27 September 2021) at an #IRGC secret missile base of Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group pic.twitter.com/OYnsijeXiq — ImageSat Intl. (@ImageSatIntl) September 30, 2021 The official also charged that Israel is actively seeking to subvert high level nuclear talks in Vienna, which have been stalled since last June, though US and Israeli officials have blamed the Iranian side for the stall.  "The region is tired of wars," Khatibzadeh added, while arguing Iran is honestly seeking a diplomatic and peaceful breakthrough with Western powers in Vienna. "We must find a new approach to solve the problems according to United Nations decisions. All of the sides must display a political desire to reach agreements." Tyler Durden Sat, 10/02/2021 - 16:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 2nd, 2021

Another Tempestuous Balkan Pot Is Boiling

Another Tempestuous Balkan Pot Is Boiling Authored by Stephen Karganovic via The Strategic Culture Foundation, As relations between major geopolitical players steadily deteriorate the Balkans are acquiring increasing importance for NATO powers for exactly the same reasons that they were essential to Nazi Germany in the early forties... As elections approach, the political atmosphere in the Republika Srpska, Russia’s tiny Balkan ally, is heating up. For at least the last ten years, color revolution turbulence has been the normal accompaniment of every electoral cycle there. It began initially in 2014 as the Serb autonomous entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, as it was constituted under the Dayton peace agreement in the wake of the 1992 – 1995 civil war, approached its parliamentary and presidential elections. The consensus within the Euro-Atlantic alliance (the coalition of states roughly co-extensive with NATO and the EU) unmistakably was that the assertive local authorities headed by President Dodik and his political party were unacceptable and that a “regime change” operation should be engineered to replace them with a compliant cast of characters. Local agents quickly set to work to reproduce the satisfactory results previously obtained with relative ease in other “color revolution” episodes. The usual set of grievances was improvised. They were dramatised through a combination of fake “NGOs” and a relentless propaganda barrage conducted through the media, which was partly owned by Western interests and partly susceptible to their emoluments. A major television station in the city of Bijeljina, with country-wide coverage, was suborned to relentlessly spew the color revolution party line, in the confident expectation of a certain electoral triumph. But there was an unexpected hitch. The Republika Srpska government and ruling coalition supporting it nearly lost their heads when faced with mounting street agitation, but a group of local citizens supported by allies with international experience in these matters marshalled their limited resources to counter the onslaught. In spite of overwhelming odds they succeeded, the Balkan Maidan never materialised, and the coup de grâce planned for Republica Srpska was temporarily delayed. The next opportunity to fine tune the scenario came just before the 2018 elections in Republika Srpska. The galvanising spark was the mysterious death of a young man by the name of David Dragicevic, the responsibility for which without any firm evidence was attributed to the authorities, or the “regime” in the parlance of the color revolution phalanx. All the usual mechanisms were again activated to generate a cause célèbre designed to discredit the government and dishearten its supporters. The coup almost succeeded. President Dodik squeaked through with barely an 8,000 vote margin, but the ruling coalition failed to win in Parliament a clear majority necessary to form a government. The matter was resolved in the tried and tested Balkan way – a couple of opposition legislators were generously rewarded to switch sides and the status quo ante was successfully restored. With predictable regularity, the identical pattern is beginning to repeat itself as the country approaches the 2022 electoral season. New factors have emerged to complicate the political and social landscape. One is the Covid crisis, which has hit the Serbian portion of Bosnia relatively hard. The other is the grave constitutional crisis provoked two months ago by the outgoing EU High representative Valentin Incko. He arbitrarily ordered that a “genocide denial law” – clearly targeting all who question the Srebrenica “genocide” narrative, which is by now sacrosanct almost everywhere but in the Republika Srpska – be inserted in the Criminal Code, prescribing harsh punishment for unbelievers of up to five years. Since practically the entire population of Republika Srpska consists of religious sceptics and outright heretics in this regard, the country might as well be encircled with barbed wire and machine-gun turrets for at least the next five years. While primarily designed to bring external pressure and internal demoralisation, “Incko’s law,” as it is popularly known, also acted as a cohesive factor by temporarily uniting the government and its opposition against it. But the pact which Western-supported elements of the opposition concluded largely for PR reasons is already seriously fraying and the Serbian political scene is returning to its old fragmented “normal.” Emerging at the heart of the Incko controversy is the issue of whether the High representative, set up by the Dayton agreement to play a balancing role between the former warring parties (his official job is to “interpret” the peace agreement when the local parties fail to arrive at a common understanding of its provisions), has the authority to expand his powers to the point of imposing laws and altering constitutional arrangements. Banja Luka constitutional law professor Milan Blagojevic has argued forcefully and cogently that he does not. In a series of incisive analyses in his newspaper columns and television appearances he has expounded the view that the micro-managing authority claimed by a succession of High representatives is in reality an insolent bluff, unsupported by any of the provision of the peace agreement that established his office. In protest against what he has harshly denounced as “criminal abuse,” Prof. Blagojevic did something utterly unique in that part of the world. He resigned his parallel job as a District Court judge stating that his conscience forbade him to perform judicial duties in the milieu of lawlessness created by the illegal encroachment of the country’s foreign overlord. Hopefully he will impress other public servants by modelling a sacrificial example of professional integrity for their edification, but realistically no one should hold their breath. Propelled by unanimous public rejection of what is justifiably perceived as the High representative’s tyrannous act, and perhaps also inspired by the upcoming elections, the government has ratcheted up its rhetoric to the point of openly raising a heretofore taboo topic – possible secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Simultaneously, in an evident bow to Prof. Blagojevic’s insistent arguments, it has mentioned the possibility of asking Parliament to annul all previous similarly illicit decrees issued by the High representative, going back at least twenty years. To top off the listed examples of disobedience, former President Dodik, who is now the Serb member of Bosnia’s rotating Presidency, refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the appointment of Incko’s successor, German politician Christian Schmidt, or even meet with him, because he was selected by a committee of NATO governments and not by the UN Security Council, as international legal norms prescribe. In that he has the firm support of the governments of the Russian Federation and China. So now we come round to the emerging scenario for this season’s color revolution in the Republika Srpska. Clearly, something needs to be done and order must be imposed. The initial plan that was thought up by the Tavistock brain trust is the currently raging oxygen affair. Gene Sharp must be smiling in his grave. Briefly, upon the public spirited complaint filed by Transparency International, a solicitous outfit financed by USAID, alleging that a hospital in the town of Trebinje was using industrial instead of human grade oxygen for the treatment of Covid patients, health inspectors swarmed from Sarajevo (where Republika Srpska can scarcely expect to get any breaks) to determine that indeed there was something fishy about the oxygen formula being used. Gaining traction now are vague and non-evidence based assertions (recall the David Dragicevic affair) that the uncaring “regime” had a corrupt deal with the oxygen provider. The public, who predominantly do not consist of chemists, are being bombarded with highly technical and also politically condimented “information” about grave health risks (on top of the already existing pandemic) posed by the deliberately substituted inferior oxygen. Oddly, no proof of Covid fatalities or testimony of injuries accompanies these accounts of appalling official corruption. Readers with longer memories will remember the staged poisoning affair in Kosovo in 1990, when Albanian school children were instructed to complain of dizziness and stomach cramps provoked by nefarious substances injected in their lunch food by Serb authorities. They all miraculously recovered as soon as foreign correspondents had left. In Trebinje so far no spectacular performances to showcase the government’s public health malfeasance have been organised for the benefit of the international press, but surprises may be in store as the spin continues. As relations between major geopolitical players steadily deteriorate the Balkans are acquiring increasing importance for NATO powers for exactly the same reasons that they were essential to Nazi Germany in the early forties, to the extent that it was willing to postpone the attack on the Soviet Union and divert its resources in order to first bring the entire area in its orbit. The Serb half of Bosnia is a major piece of the contemporary version of a very similar geopolitical jigsaw puzzle. Russian policy meanderings over the years in that part of the world merit at most a mixed assessment, and that is putting it charitably. Russia cannot afford to further degrade its regional position and security interests by losing Republika Srpska, not to speak of Serbia itself. All the more so because it is not really necessary to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to keep them both firmly and beneficially in its fold Tyler Durden Sat, 10/02/2021 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 2nd, 2021

COVID-19 Detention Camps: Are Government Round-Ups Of Resistors In Our Future?

COVID-19 Detention Camps: Are Government Round-Ups Of Resistors In Our Future? Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “No doubt concentration camps were a means, a menace used to keep order.”  - Albert Speer, Nuremberg Trials It’s no longer a question of whether the government will lock up Americans for defying its mandates but when. This is what we know: the government has the means, the muscle and the motivation to detain individuals who resist its orders and do not comply with its mandates in a vast array of prisons, detention centers, and FEMA concentration camps paid for with taxpayer dollars. It’s just a matter of time. It no longer matters what the hot-button issue might be (vaccine mandates, immigration, gun rights, abortion, same-sex marriage, healthcare, criticizing the government, protesting election results, etc.) or which party is wielding its power like a hammer. The groundwork has already been laid. Under the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the President and the military can detain and imprison American citizens with no access to friends, family or the courts if the government believes them to be a terrorist. So it should come as no surprise that merely criticizing the government or objecting to a COVID-19 vaccine could get you labeled as a terrorist. After all, it doesn’t take much to be considered a terrorist anymore, especially given that the government likes to use the words “anti-government,” “extremist” and “terrorist” interchangeably. For instance, the Department of Homeland Security broadly defines extremists as individuals, military veterans and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.” Military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan may also be characterized as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats by the government because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.” Indeed, if you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you could be at the top of the government’s terrorism watch list. Moreover, as a New York Times editorial warns, you may be an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) in the eyes of the police if you are afraid that the government is plotting to confiscate your firearms, if you believe the economy is about to collapse and the government will soon declare martial law, or if you display an unusual number of political and/or ideological bumper stickers on your car. According to the FBI, you might also be classified as a domestic terrorism threat if you espouse conspiracy theories or dare to subscribe to any views that are contrary to the government’s. The government also has a growing list—shared with fusion centers and law enforcement agencies—of ideologies, behaviors, affiliations and other characteristics that could flag someone as suspicious and result in their being labeled potential enemies of the state. This is what happens when you not only put the power to determine who is a potential danger in the hands of government agencies, the courts and the police but also give those agencies liberal authority to lock individuals up for perceived wrongs. It’s a system just begging to be abused by power-hungry bureaucrats desperate to retain their power at all costs. It’s happened before. As history shows, the U.S. government is not averse to locking up its own citizens for its own purposes. One need only go back to the 1940s, when the federal government proclaimed that Japanese-Americans, labeled potential dissidents, could be put in concentration (a.k.a. internment) camps based only upon their ethnic origin, to see the lengths the federal government will go to in order to maintain “order” in the homeland. The U.S. Supreme Court validated the detention program in Korematsu v. US (1944), concluding that the government’s need to ensure the safety of the country trumped personal liberties. Although that Korematsu decision was never formally overturned, Chief Justice Roberts opined in Trump v. Hawaii (2018) that “the forcible relocation of U. S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority.” Roberts’ statements provide little assurance of safety in light of the government’s tendency to sidestep the rule of law when it suits its purposes. Pointing out that such blatantly illegal detentions could happen again—with the blessing of the courts—Justice Scalia once warned, “In times of war, the laws fall silent.” In fact, the creation of detention camps domestically has long been part of the government’s budget and operations, falling under the jurisdiction of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA’s murky history dates back to the 1970s, when President Carter created it by way of an executive order merging many of the government’s disaster relief agencies into one large agency. During the 1980s, however, reports began to surface of secret military-type training exercises carried out by FEMA and the Department of Defense. Code named Rex-84, 34 federal agencies, including the CIA and the Secret Service, were trained on how to deal with domestic civil unrest. FEMA’s role in creating top-secret American internment camps is well-documented. But be careful who you share this information with: it turns out that voicing concerns about the existence of FEMA detention camps is among the growing list of opinions and activities which may make a federal agent or government official think you’re an extremist (a.k.a. terrorist), or sympathetic to terrorist activities, and thus qualify you for indefinite detention under the NDAA. Also included in that list of “dangerous” viewpoints are advocating states’ rights, believing the state to be unnecessary or undesirable, “conspiracy theorizing,” concern about alleged FEMA camps, opposition to war, organizing for “economic justice,” frustration with “mainstream ideologies,” opposition to abortion, opposition to globalization, and ammunition stockpiling. Now if you’re going to have internment camps on American soil, someone has to build them. Thus, in 2006, it was announced that Kellogg Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, had been awarded a $385 million contract to build American detention facilities. Although the government and Halliburton were not forthcoming about where or when these domestic detention centers would be built, they rationalized the need for them in case of “an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs” in the event of other emergencies such as “natural disasters.” Of course, these detention camps will have to be used for anyone viewed as a threat to the government, and that includes political dissidents. So it’s no coincidence that the U.S. government has, since the 1980s, acquired and maintained, without warrant or court order, a database of names and information on Americans considered to be threats to the nation. As Salon reports, this database, reportedly dubbed “Main Core,” is to be used by the Army and FEMA in times of national emergency or under martial law to locate and round up Americans seen as threats to national security. There are at least 8 million Americans in the Main Core database. Fast forward to 2009, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released two reports, one on “Rightwing Extremism,” which broadly defines rightwing extremists as individuals and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely,” and one on “Leftwing Extremism,” which labeled environmental and animal rights activist groups as extremists. Incredibly, both reports use the words terrorist and extremist interchangeably. That same year, the DHS launched Operation Vigilant Eagle, which calls for surveillance of military veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and other far-flung places, characterizing them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.” These reports indicate that for the government, so-called extremism is not a partisan matter. Anyone seen as opposing the government—whether they’re Left, Right or somewhere in between—is a target, which brings us back, full circle, to the question of whether the government will exercise the power it claims to possess to detain anyone perceived as a threat, i.e., anyone critical of the government. The short answer is: yes. The longer answer is more complicated. Despite what some may think, the Constitution is no magical incantation against government wrongdoing. Indeed, it’s only as effective as those who abide by it. However, without courts willing to uphold the Constitution’s provisions when government officials disregard it and a citizenry knowledgeable enough to be outraged when those provisions are undermined, it provides little to no protection against SWAT team raids, domestic surveillance, police shootings of unarmed citizens, indefinite detentions, and the like. Frankly, the courts and the police have meshed in their thinking to such an extent that anything goes when it’s done in the name of national security, crime fighting and terrorism. Consequently, America no longer operates under a system of justice characterized by due process, an assumption of innocence, probable cause and clear prohibitions on government overreach and police abuse. Instead, our courts of justice have been transformed into courts of order, advocating for the government’s interests, rather than championing the rights of the citizenry, as enshrined in the Constitution. We seem to be coming full circle on many fronts. Consider that two decades ago we were debating whether non-citizens—for example, so-called enemy combatants being held at Guantanamo Bay and Muslim-Americans rounded up in the wake of 9/11—were entitled to protections under the Constitution, specifically as they relate to indefinite detention. Americans weren’t overly concerned about the rights of non-citizens then, and now we’re the ones in the unenviable position of being targeted for indefinite detention by our own government. Similarly, most Americans weren’t unduly concerned when the U.S. Supreme Court gave Arizona police officers the green light to stop, search and question anyone—ostensibly those fitting a particular racial profile—they suspect might be an illegal immigrant. A decade later, the cops largely have carte blanche authority to stop any individual, citizen and non-citizen alike, they suspect might be doing something illegal (mind you, in this age of overcriminalization, that could be anything from feeding the birds to growing exotic orchids). Likewise, you still have a sizeable portion of the population today unconcerned about the government’s practice of spying on Americans, having been brainwashed into believing that if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. It will only be a matter of time before they learn the hard way that in a police state, it doesn’t matter who you are or how righteous you claim to be, because eventually, you will be lumped in with everyone else and everything you do will be “wrong” and suspect. Indeed, it’s happening already, with police relying on surveillance software such as ShadowDragon to watch people’s social media and other website activity, whether or not they suspected of a crime, and potentially use it against them when the need arises. It turns out that we are Soylent Green, being cannibalized by a government greedily looking to squeeze every last drop out of us. The 1973 film Soylent Green, starring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson, is set in 2022 in an overpopulated, polluted, starving New York City whose inhabitants depend on synthetic foods manufactured by the Soylent Corporation for survival. Heston plays a policeman investigating a murder who discovers the grisly truth about the primary ingredient in the wafer, Soylent Green, which is the principal source of nourishment for a starved population. “It’s people. Soylent Green is made out of people,” declares Heston’s character. “They’re making our food out of people. Next thing they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food.” Oh, how right he was. Soylent Green is indeed people or, in our case, Soylent Green is our own personal data, repossessed, repackaged and used by corporations and the government to entrap us in prisons of our own making. Without constitutional protections in place to guard against encroachments on our rights when power, technology and militaristic governance converge, it won’t be long before we find ourselves, much like Edward G. Robinson’s character in Soylent Green, looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted, and go where we wanted without those thoughts, words and movements being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies. We’re not quite there yet, but as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, that moment of reckoning is getting closer by the minute. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/01/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 2nd, 2021

Macron Urges Europe To "Stop Being Naive" After Inking "Face-Saving" Defense Deal With Greece

Macron Urges Europe To "Stop Being Naive" After Inking 'Face-Saving' Defense Deal With Greece In an apparent indirect swipe at the US, Australia and the UK in the wake of the 'AUKUS' agreement which cut France out of a major multi-billion dollar deal with Australia, French President Emmanuel Macron in new statements has urged Europe to "stop being naive" - suggesting Paris is critically reviewing its traditional alliances and is ready to build-up European defenses independent of others.  "The Europeans must stop being naive. When we are under pressure from powers, which at times harden (their stance), we need to react and show that we have the power and capacity to defend ourselves. Not escalating things, but protecting ourselves," Macron said. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with French President Emmanuel Macro at the deal's signing ceremony, via Reuters. He made the provocative remarks at a Tuesday news conference and signing ceremony alongside Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, after Greece and France finalized a major deal to upgrade Greek military purchases. Last year Greece ordered two dozen Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets as part of a 2.5 billion euro package - but at the joint press conference the two leaders hailed an extension of the deal for another six Rafele jets as well as three Belharra French frigates for Greece's navy. Greece will be the first European country to acquire France's jet fighter, while the deal for the frigates is expected to be a around another three billion euros. This week's announcements are perhaps intended to also be a 'face saving' exercise after the AUKUS pact humiliation earlier this month. "It contributes to European security, to the strengthening of Europe’s strategic autonomy and sovereignty, and thus to international peace and security," Macron said. And PM Mitsotakis agreed, "This will tie us for decades." The new deal includes an option for Athens to acquire a fourth frigate. Over the past two years amid territorial disputes between Turkey and Greece and Cyprus - Paris has been a staunch supporter of Greece and Cyprus, even conducting joint aerial and naval drills as a show of force against Turkish encroachment.  Dassault Rafale fighter jet, Wiki Commons Macron in the Tuesday press conference brushed aside accusations that the Greece deal is in reaction to the US-Australia AUKUS with the following:  Macron insisted the pact is not "an alternative to the United States alliance." But, he added pointedly, it is a way "to take responsibility of the European pillar within NATO and draw the conclusions that we are asked to take of our own protection." In the recent past there's been serious talk of a "European Army" which has never ultimately got off the ground, however, France's firm stance on building up autonomous European defense while not relying on leading NATO partners could put the initiative back in the spotlight.  Tyler Durden Wed, 09/29/2021 - 04:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 29th, 2021

The Decline Of American Empire: A Kübler-Ross Cycle Analysis

The Decline Of American Empire: A Kübler-Ross Cycle Analysis Authored by Andrew Roberts via Quillette.com, How will the United States react domestically should she be dislodged from her role of global top-dog power by China? As well as the obvious economic and strategic ramifications of an end to American imperium, there will be profound emotional and psychological effects on a society that has taken its hegemony for granted for more than three-quarters of a century. The via dolorosa presently stretched before the United States will likely encompass the replacement of the dollar as the global currency of last resort, the recognition that the South China Seas are no longer navigable by the US Navy, the understanding that Africa has been effectively colonized by China, and the possible swallowing of Ukraine by Russia and Taiwan by China. If the United States maintains its present course, Americans should prepare themselves for a century of humiliating retreats. So, how are these developments likely to play out in an already deeply divided polity and society? An analogy can be drawn with the British Empire, and the prolonged grieving process experienced by Britons in the three-and-a-half decades after India became independent in 1947. Within a generation and a half, the largest empire in the history of Mankind was reduced to struggling with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. Empires tend to rise and fall faster in modern than in ancient history, so what can Britain’s loss of Empire teach us about the possible decline and fall of America’s? A useful means of understanding how Britons slowly accommodated themselves to their postwar loss of power and prestige is provided by the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle—the five-stage process by which individuals deal with tragedy, bereavement, and a dawning knowledge of imminent demise. The British people’s journey through those five stages of grief has profound implications for America, assuming she continues down her chosen path of impotence and retreat. The first stage of the Kübler-Ross Cycle is Denial, which was the initial response of the British government after the loss of the jewel in Britain’s imperial crown. Notwithstanding the ideological anti-imperialism of Clement Attlee’s Labour government, it insisted that India would remain part of the British Commonwealth (as it was still then designated) and attached to the Western anti-Communist bloc. Indeed, the whole concept of the Commonwealth—founded in December 1931 but not taken seriously until 1947—can be seen as a sop to a people in denial about the loss of Empire. America is already in the Denial stage of appreciating the loss of power overseas. President Biden’s speeches and press conferences at the time of the coalition’s over-hasty and humiliating scuttle from Afghanistan betray a psychology symptomatic of the first stage of the Kübler-Ross cycle. “Last night in Kabul,” Biden announced in the White House State Dining Room on August 31st, “the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan—the longest war in American history. We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history, with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety. … No nation has ever done anything like it in all of history. Only the United States had the capacity and the will and the ability to do it, and we did it today.” In fact, plenty of nations have the capacity, will, and ability to lose wars, but the United States had not done it since Vietnam. And as Biden’s speeches and actions have subsequently shown, his administration is in denial about the message that defeat at the hands of the Taliban sends to vacillating allies and jubilant antagonists alike. Britain was shaken out of her Denial stage by the Suez Crisis of 1956, which arrived less than a decade after the loss of India. The second stage of the Kübler-Ross Cycle is Anger, and the fury that greeted Anthony Eden over his invasion of—and subsequent withdrawal from—the Canal Zone was symptomatic of a deeper anger about Britain’s dwindling position on the world stage. The role of the United States in forcing Britain’s humiliating retreat after a successful military operation further underlined the new world order, and sent a large number of Conservatives such as Enoch Powell into the barren cul-de-sac of lifelong anti-Americanism. The anger in British politics was also evident in the activities of the League of Empire Loyalists, which disrupted political meetings in the early 1960s. Its members were furious that after Suez and the independence of Sudan, the Conservatives no longer considered itself the party of Empire. The capacity for anger in modern American politics hardly needs emphasising since the appalling scenes at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. The mid-term elections in November 2022 may see at least some outpouring of anger over American loss of hegemony. It will be the first time that large sections of the American electorate have gone to the polls since the Afghan catastrophe. Anger with the Democrats will likely result in their loss of the House of Representatives and the relegation of Biden to lame-duckery. Britain entered the third stage of the Kübler-Ross Cycle—Negotiation—in the 1960s when she made the rational choice to cleave to the United States; in Harold Macmillan’s revealing phrase, to try to become Greece to America’s Rome. His relationship with President Kennedy and support during the Cuban Missile Crisis were the foundations of a new post-Churchill Special Relationship. This was a logical response to the Suez debacle, and it could not even be weakened by Harold Wilson’s and Edward Heath’s refusal to be drawn into Vietnam. It remains to be seen what the United States will do in her Negotiation stage. Certainly, she starts at a disadvantage because President Biden is not as good a diplomatic negotiator as President Xi of China or Russian President Putin, both of whom seem to outmanoeuvre him repeatedly. It is therefore doubtful that the United States can negotiate with her opponents and rivals successfully in an effort to defend a rules-based world order once she is eclipsed as the world’s pre-eminent superpower. When Britain entered the Depression stage of Kübler-Ross in the 1970s, she did so with a total bipartisan commitment to national decline. She experienced depression in both its metaphysical and material senses. Economically and in prestige, she risked slipping into the third rank of world powers thanks to socialism and the pathos-laden Heathite Conservative response to it. In that doleful decade, Britain experienced the OPEC oil price trebling; IRA violence and internment in Northern Ireland; a miners’ strike that led to power cuts and a three-day week, stagflation, price and income caps; and trade union militancy that threatened the primacy of Parliament. The worst (because longest-lasting) of that decade’s developments came when Britain turned her back on the Commonwealth and joined the EEC in 1973. Only a country in the grip of severe depression, self-doubt, and historical amnesia could have done such a thing. When the United States recognizes that it no longer matters in the world as it once did, that key allies are distancing themselves and flirting with China, that the global organizations erected by Bretton Woods and Dumbarton Oaks no longer guarantee her primacy, and that there is little she can do about it, then depression will hit America. It will leave her confused, morose, and liable to turn in on herself politically. It will be an ugly time. In the 1980s, Britain embraced the fifth and final stage of the Cycle—Acceptance. This was almost entirely down to one person, Margaret Thatcher. The Falklands War seemed to arrest the lamentable drift and surrender since Suez, and the spectacular victory in the Cold War, in part due to her close alliance with Ronald Reagan, finally provided closure after the loss of Empire. Although she could never again be top-dog power, Britain’s replacement by her close ally was palatable because the Special Relationship had been shown to work well for both countries and also for the wider world in ridding the world of Soviet Communism. For modern America, however, acceptance of decline cannot have any sense of closure because the successor-state is totalitarian. Every precept of National Socialist China is entirely antithetical to American values. Britain’s successor-state shared her language, common law, liberal principles, free market, and outlook. The United States can take no such comfort when peering into her post-imperial future. So, America’s final Acceptance stage is fraught with far greater dangers than the other four put together. The Free World really will have met its “time when the locusts feed.” Is all this inevitable? Not if the United States can grasp the leadership of the West once more instead of wallowing in self-destructive and profoundly decadent obsessions with its own faults, real and imagined. The United States ought to heed the words of Winston Churchill during the Munich Debate of October 5th, 1938. The people, he said, should be told that “we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history … And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” President Biden has already made it clear that he does not understand those words or appreciate their present importance. For now, Americans remain preoccupied with navel-gazing about Critical Race Theory and endlessly revisiting slavery 158 years after its abolition. Hopefully sometime before China takes Taiwan, Putin takes Ukraine, and Iran develops the Bomb, the United States will reject Acceptance of her eclipse and embrace her own supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour. Tyler Durden Sun, 12/05/2021 - 23:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt2 hr. 24 min. ago

Exxon"s Planned Pay Raises This Year Won"t Even Keep Up With Inflation

Exxon's Planned Pay Raises This Year Won't Even Keep Up With Inflation Despite the company's good year so far, Exxon's coming pay raises for employees will come in below inflation, new reports suggest.  Salaries are going to rise about 3.6% for employees who deserve the merit-based raises, reporting from the Seattle Times and Bloomberg says. The largest increases are going to be going to those working in the company's upstream division that drills for oil and natural gas, the report says.  Exxon spokesperson Casey Norton said: “Total compensation is highly competitive relative to other companies with whom we compete, both in the marketplace and for talent. Inflation is one of many variables we assess.” The increases will apply to Exxon’s U.S. office employees and not union contract workers, many of whom already have earned promotions and will get a 5% boost on top of their regular raises.  Bloomberg writes that the below-inflation increases are a sign of how many white-collar Americans aren’t in line for the kind of salary raises seen for other cohorts such as truck drivers and factory workers amid labor shortages and a spike in inflation". ' Recall, just two days ago, we reported that Exxon said it was on track to meet its 2025 emissions goals four years early.  In Exxon's full new corporate plan, which can be found on its website here, the company said it "plans to increase spending to $15 billion on greenhouse gas emission-reduction projects over the next six years while maintaining disciplined capital investments." The oil supermajor also said it plans on maintaining capital investments between $20 to $25 billion, per year, through 2027. The company said it has repaid $11 billion in debt, to date, in 2021. Exxon says it'll be "comfortably" in its range of targeted debt-to-capital ratio by year end. These plans, of course, follow our reporting in October that the company was considering abandoning some of its oil and gas projects to appease environmental advocates. The company's board, we noted in October, which includes three directors nominated by activist investors, had "expressed concerns about certain projects, including a $30 billion liquefied natural gas development in Mozambique and another multibillion-dollar gas project in Vietnam." The change in strategic direction comes as Exxon's board is facing growing pressure from investors to restrain its fossil fuel investments and limit its carbon footprint. The board is also considering the carbon footprint of the new projects, and how they would affect the company's ability to meet environmental promises it has made.  Back in September we reported that as part of appeasement of the ESG lobby, the oil giant planned on implementing disclosures of shale emissions. The company announced it would start measuring its methane emissions from production of natural gas at a facility it owns in New Mexico. Exxon joins other shale gas producers, like EQT, who already provide similar data.  Tyler Durden Sun, 12/05/2021 - 09:55.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt13 hr. 52 min. ago

With Inflation Emerging As Biden"s Biggest Nightmare, One Strategist Counters: "Inflation, Like Greed, Is Good"

With Inflation Emerging As Biden's Biggest Nightmare, One Strategist Counters: "Inflation, Like Greed, Is Good" Now that inflation is up from 1.4% to 6.2%, and even Powell admits it is no longer "transitory", BofA's CIO Michael Hartnett pointed out in his latest Flow Show note what was obvious to most, namely that inflation is rapidly emerging as an economic and political problem, as he points to a chart showing Biden's approval rating sliding from 56% to 42% YTD as inflation has soared, or as the BofA strategist summarizes, in the context of "inflation, politics (midterms Nov22), and credibility, the Fed set to be very hawkish next 6 months" something the market is finally freaking out over with high-duration (read growth and tech) names tumbling. Yet while Biden will do everything in his power to crush consumer inflation ahead of the midterms, perhaps even nuking the market in the process (only to force the fed to launch the biggest and probably last monetary stimulus shortly after), some like Academy Securities strategist Peter Tchir take the other side and in a note published overnight in which he channels his inner Gordon Gekko wrties that "Inflation, Like Greed, is Good. Paraphrasing the best Wall Street movie made, Tchir writes that “Greed, in all of its forms…has marked the upward surge of mankind” and adds that "while I may not believe everything that I write today, it seems as though inflation, much like greed, is in dire need of someone to champion it." This topic is relevant because, as we first showed on Friday and as Tchir writes today "some of Friday’s price action could be linked to markets pricing in monetary policy mistakes. The shape of the yield curve and the sectors that underperformed all fit into a narrative that could encompass a monetary policy mistake (and is also partly due to the market trying to adapt to The Training Wheels are Off)." The Academy strategist next makes the point that "the politicization of inflation is the biggest reason that we might get a monetary policy mistake!" and goes on to note that "it is the politicization of inflation (which could lead to monetary policy mistakes), that leads me to take up the mantle and defend inflation." As Tchir lays out in further detail in his full note below, here are the core tenets behind his argument: Inflation is Good We start by examining what central banks have been trying to achieve, what they’ve achieved, and why they aren’t taking victory laps. Stagflation is Bad We agree that stagflation is bad and through a series of charts focusing on jobs and wages, we demonstrate that we are nowhere close to stagflation and the economy is outpacing inflation. What About Gas? Somehow inflation always seems to come back to gasoline, and we address some of the absurdity around this issue. We also introduce the concept of carbon offsets and where this fits into the inflation argument. Hedonic Adjustments If you didn’t think that we could make an argument that rising gas prices aren’t actually rising, you are in for a pleasant surprise. In all seriousness, thinking about hedonic adjustments for products and processors that are sustainable isn’t as strange as it might sound. What is Driving Inflation? It is difficult to argue whether inflation is good or bad if we don’t examine what is driving it: Jobs and wage growth. Supply Chain issues. ESG. Transition plans. Supply chain repatriation. Monetary policy. Tchir summarizes his controversial argument as follows, "Maybe Inflation Isn’t “Good” But It is Necessary: At this moment in time, I do not see any way of achieving our goals without generating inflation. So long as inflation is accompanied by job and wage growth, who really cares about it?" Bottom Line: Don’t bet on a policy mistake. Bet on cyclical, domestic growth. As Bud Fox says, “Life all comes down to a few moments” and I think that we need the courage to ride this paradigm shift through and accept inflation as just a part of that goal! * * * Tchir's full note is below: Inflation, Like Greed, Is Good! Today, I will channel my inner Gordon Gekko, who told us that “Greed is Good.” That “Greed, in all of its forms…has marked the upward surge of mankind.” While I may not believe everything that I write today, it seems as though inflation, much like greed, is in dire need of someone to champion it. For purposes of this report, there are a few things to clarify: If I had been Chair of the Fed (please stop laughing), I would have finished with bond purchases a long time ago. I don’t necessarily agree with the path that the Fed took, or some of their inflation goals, but we will play this hand with the cards we’ve been dealt. I’m reasonably on board with carbon and climate efforts, though want to highlight a few caveats, which might get lost in this report as today’s goal is to justify inflation rather than fixate on the details of carbon and climate initiatives: We need a transition plan. I’ve harped on this and we see the harsh reality in Europe almost every day. Without a well thought out transition plan we put ourselves at risk. Incentives and rules are ripe for manipulation. Any policy or rule instantly creates a cottage industry for those trying to get around it (and for those trying to take advantage of it). It may well be that the goals are laudable enough that we can tolerate or even benefit from this behavior, but ignoring this reality doesn’t help us much. Acting without China’s full cooperation is a very serious issue. The climate is global, so without China, a massive contributor to the world’s carbon issues (including plastics, and other nasty environmental issues), we run the risk of not only failing to fix the problem, but getting left behind economically and in terms of global power (not power, like energy, but power like might). This topic is relevant because some of Friday’s price action could be linked to markets pricing in monetary policy mistakes. The shape of the yield curve and the sectors that underperformed all fit into a narrative that could encompass a monetary policy mistake. The politicization of inflation is the biggest reason that we might get a monetary policy mistake! It is the politicization of inflation (which could lead to monetary policy mistakes) that leads me to take up the mantle and defend inflation. Inflation is Good Whenever I focus on a topic, I try and figure out what the smart people are thinking. What do the people who live and breathe inflation think about it? Well, until about a month ago, every single major central bank was fixated on generating inflation. Generating sustained inflation (at an acceptable level) has been one of the main goals of monetary policy across the globe for years (if not decades). So, we have a group of very intelligent people from across the globe who’ve fought to create inflation for years (which I take as one sign that it might be a reasonable goal). Does their sudden aversion to inflation represent a real shift in their thinking? Or are they bowing to political pressure? It seems somewhat odd that this group has finally started to achieve their goal and rather than doing victory laps, they are barely defending their actions. It is this behavior that sparks my fear that we could get a policy mistake – not because they think their policies are wrong, but because they face intense political pressure to adjust their policies. We will come back to why inflation is good in a moment, but let’s address why it isn’t bad. Stagflation is Bad We can all agree that stagflation is bad. That slow growth coupled with high inflation is bad. Thankfully that is NOT what we have right now! We have inflation (I’d argue more medium than high), but we have STRONG growth! While not quite back to pre-pandemic levels, the number of people employed in the U.S. is at a level that has only been better for a few months in the entire history of the country. I went with the non-seasonally adjusted version since I think that the seasonal adjustment this year will turn out to be incorrect. At the same time, we have a record number of job openings and people are extremely comfortable quitting their jobs! From a job’s perspective, the economy looks pretty darn good! This is the jobs picture without any form of infrastructure spending getting passed (which should only increase the outlook for jobs). It will also increase inflation, but isn’t that worth it? Not only are there jobs, but the pay is pretty darn good! Average hourly earnings are now much higher than they were pre-pandemic and are at their highest levels ever. The average hourly pay just before the pandemic was $23.88 and is now $26.40, almost $3 per hour higher, and that will buy a lot of gas (more on that later). Even adjusted for inflation, they are 2.2% higher than they were before the pandemic started. This doesn’t even attempt to account for all the benefits that have been paid to people over the past few years, including the signing bonuses many are getting. If anything, the official wage data understates the total income people are receiving. So, jobs are coming back with a vengeance and they are paying more. Heck, the pay is keeping workers ahead of inflation, and while I do not think inflation is transitory, I do think it will settle into a range between 2% and 4%, which should be low enough (if we can maintain growth) that almost everyone who is working will be better off! What About Gas? Somehow inflation always seems to come back to gasoline. I’m not sure about you, but I probably use less than 10 gallons of gasoline a week. I checked and according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, the average American drives 13,500 miles per year (higher than me but seems reasonable). They choose to use Ford F-150’s average miles per gallon (which seems conservative) to come up with 562 gallons a year (weirdly, not much above my guess of 10, which means that on average, Americans buy less than 2 gallons of gas a day!) So, for all the handwringing about gasoline prices (something sensationalized by the media, which has sparked interest from politicians), most people can pay for their extra cost of gas with 1 hour of their higher pay. Seems like a reasonable trade-off. While this data series only goes back to 2006, average gasoline prices were higher for several years as we emerged from the GFC. They are up about 51 cents per gallon since late 2018 (so $1 a day for the average American). There are huge differences by state. According to AAA, California is at the higher end at $4.68/gallon, while New York is $3.54 and Virginia is $3.22. Not all states had similar moves in gasoline prices and we shouldn’t ignore various state rules that cause their gas prices to be different. While I’m not here to argue about European gas prices, I cannot help but bring up the following chart, as I think it is crucial to the inflation is “good” argument. This is the EUA carbon allowances front contract. My understanding is that refiners, amongst others, are forced to buy offsets to their carbon footprint. The rise in prices would make even the crypto market green with envy! Hedonic Adjustments For some reason, I want to call them “hedonistic adjustments” when the BLS adjusts prices to account for quality. It is something that they have done for a long time. It is questioned by many, but it is a tool that they use to try and reflect large changes in quality that can affect prices over time. So, if you have gasoline that protects the environment (because the refiner had to offset their carbon usage), did the price go up? That sounds weird at first, but that is the nature of hedonic adjustments. Is gasoline that will “save the planet” better than gasoline that doesn’t offer that? For this portion, I’m going all in on the carbon/climate side of things. The price will go up because the offsets are a cost and some of that will get passed on to the consumer, but if you are willing to believe that 2,000,000 pixels are so much better than 2,000 pixels and the price of that “thing” hasn’t really gone up, then why not accept that products that are made more sustainably or have purchased carbon offsets are better? Please go back to my caveats from earlier, I haven’t forgotten them, I’m just getting on a roll here. This all gets tricky (I don’t have any answers) and this gets a little bit away from the “inflation is good argument”, but this is tied to it because it would be a reason to accept higher prices. What is Driving Inflation? Whether we are going to hedonically adjust for prices or not, let’s look at what is driving inflation: Jobs, wage growth, and government payments (though these are less important now than during the worst parts of the pandemic). Plain and simple, jobs and wages are boosting inflation and I don’t see that as a problem. Should we not try and rebuild our often-decrepit infrastructure and not create jobs and demand for raw materials that would increase inflation? That seems silly to me. Supply Chain issues. Trying to address some of these. Whether it is overtime at the ports or flying goods in, etc., both have a real cost. Much of this will dissipate over time as countries across the globe figure out what the new post pandemic normal is. This should somewhat take care of itself and is somewhat out of our control. ESG. I’m not going to spend much time on this as I’ve written so much about the subject over the past year, but I want to highlight a few things: Any transition plan will call for massive investment in new things, but there will be maintenance investment required for old things for some time (i.e., more money will be spent than if we weren’t transitioning). That will be inflationary, but I don’t see how to avoid it (or why we’d want to avoid it). Supply chain repatriation. Some of the existing supply chain “issues” will be resolved by shifting where things are made (including domestically). Some industries, like anything related to healthcare, will feel intense pressure to produce in areas where we have complete faith in the jurisdiction and quality of the products as well as access when we need them most. This will have a cost, but will create jobs, so again, I’m not sure why we wouldn’t accept inflation as a cost of this. Monetary policy. I didn’t even bold this, because quite frankly, when I think about what is causing inflation, monetary policy isn’t high on my list. Which is why I’m so concerned that we could see a monetary policy mistake as the politicians weigh in. Maybe Inflation Isn’t “Good” But It is Necessary At this moment in time, I do not see any way of achieving our goals without generating inflation. If national health and safety is a goal, then how do we achieve that without inflation? If carbon reduction and sustainability is a goal, I don’t see how we achieve that without inflation? So long as inflation is accompanied by job and wage growth, who really cares about it? Again, I’m not sure I want to go down these paths, but if people are correct and this is saving the planet, maybe it’s not inflationary at all compared to the cost of not doing it. Okay, that statement is a bit out of my comfort zone, but there are many who adamantly argue this point. I think that the stupidest thing we could do right now is cut off our growth trajectory because a few politicians can’t do basic math, can’t understand that there will be some trade-offs, and are pandering to some audience who isn’t more than benefiting from the economic growth being generated as we make massive changes to our economy and how we compete globally. So, what the heck, inflation is good while accompanied by growth and it would be a policy mistake to kill that growth too early (especially when monetary policy isn’t what is driving inflation in the first place). Bottom Line Don’t bet on a policy mistake. Bet on cyclical, domestic growth. Credit spreads should do fine from here. Yields should drive higher and steeper and while I think that some recent market excesses and extreme positioning will continue to work themselves out (bitcoin is below $50k as I type this), the end to the recent volatility is coming closer. As Bud Fox says, “Life all comes down to a few moments” and I think that we need the courage to ride this paradigm shift through and accept inflation as just a part of that goal! Be vigilant for signs of stagflation, but don’t kowtow to ill-informed soundbites. Tyler Durden Sun, 12/05/2021 - 12:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt13 hr. 52 min. ago

Shellenberger: The Real Threat To Banks Isn"t From Climate Change, It"s From Bankers

Shellenberger: The Real Threat To Banks Isn't From Climate Change, It's From Bankers Authored by Michael Shellenberger via substack, Over the last two years, some of the world’s most powerful and influential bankers and investors have argued that climate change poses a grave threat to financial markets and that nations must switch urgently from using fossil fuels to using renewables. In 2019, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco warned that climate change could cause banks to stop lending, towns to lose tax revenue, and home values to decline. Last year, 36 pension fund managers representing $1 trillion in assets said climate change “poses a systemic threat to financial markets and the real economy.” And upon taking office, President Joe Biden warned government agencies that climate change disasters threatened retirement funds, home prices, and the very stability of the financial system. But a major new staff report from the New York Federal Reserve Bank throws cold water on the over-heated rhetoric coming from activist investors, bankers, and politicians. “How Bad Are Weather Disasters for Banks?” asks the title of the report by three economists. “Not very,” they answer in the first sentence of the abstract. The reason is because “weather disasters over the last quarter century had insignificant or small effects on U.S. banks’ performance.” The study looked at FEMA-level disasters between 1995 and 2018, at county-level property damage estimates, and the impact on banking revenue. The New York Fed’s authors only looked at how banks have dealt with disasters in the past, and what they wrote isn’t likely to be the final word on the matter. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and most other scientific bodies predict that many weather events, including hurricanes and floods, which cause the greatest financial damage, are likely to become more extreme in the future, due to climate change. And in February, The New York Times quoted one of six United States Federal Reserve governors saying, “Financial institutions that do not put in place frameworks to measure, monitor and manage climate-related risks could face outsized losses on climate-sensitive assets caused by environmental shifts.” But the Fed economists looked separately at the most extreme 10 percent of all disasters and found that banks impacted not only didn’t suffer, “their income increases significantly with exposure,” and that the improved financial performance of banks hit by disasters wasn’t explained by increased federal disaster (FEMA) aid. In other words, disasters are actually good for banks, since they increase demand for loans. The larger a bank’s exposure to natural disasters, the larger its profits. Happily, the profits made by banks are trivial compared to rising societal resilience to disasters, which can be seen by the fact that the share of GDP spent on natural disasters has actually declined over the last 30 years. While scientists expect hurricanes to become five percent more extreme they also expect them to become 25 percent less frequent, and now, new data show global carbon emissions actually declined over the last decade, and thus there is no longer any serious risk of a significant rise in global temperatures. Banking Against Growth The real risk to banks and the global economy comes from climate policy, not climate change, particularly efforts to make energy more expensive and less reliable through the greater use of renewables, new taxes, and new regulations. “For policymakers,” warned the three economists writing for the New York Fed, “our findings suggest that potential transition risks from climate change warrant more attention than physical disaster risks.” While they may seem like outliers, they are far from alone in expressing their concern. The second half of the quote by the Fed governor about climate change, which was hyped by The New York Times, warned that banks “could face outsized losses” from the “transition to a low-carbon economy.” (My emphasis.) And, now concern is growing among members of Congress about the dangers of over-relying on weather-dependent energy, with some members citing the New York Fed’s report after The Wall Street Journal editorialized about it last week . Proof of the threat to the economy from climate policy is the worst global energy crisis in 50 years. Shareholder activists played a significant role in creating it, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, and The Financial Times, by reducing investment in oil and gas production, and causing nations to over-invest in unreliable solar and wind energies, which has driven up energy prices, and contributed significantly to inflation. And yet a crucial Biden Administration nominee for bank regulation has openly said she would like to bankrupt firms that produce oil and gas, the two fuels whose scarcity is causing the global energy crisis. Progressive academic, Saule Omarova, nominated by Biden, said recently that “we want [oil and gas firms] to go bankrupt” and that “the way we basically get rid of these carbon financiers is we starve them of their source of capital. Biden nominee Saule Omarova said she wants to bankrupt energy companies Omarova is not an outlier. The Biden Administration’s Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) is advocating 30 new climate regulations that should be imposed on banking. Many analysts believe the US Securities and Exchange Commission will require new regulations. The goal is to radically alter how America’s banks lend money, the energy sector, and the economy as a whole. And former Bank of England chief, Mark Carney, co-chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, has organized $130 trillion in investment and said recently that his investors should expect to make higher, not lower, returns than the market. How? In the exact same way Omarova predicted: by bankrupting some companies, and financing other ones, through government regulations and subsidies. Former Bank of England head Mark Carney Carney created the Glasgow Financial Alliance, or GFANZ, with Michael Bloomberg, and they did so under the official seal of the United Nations. “Carney said the alliance will put global finance on a trajectory that ultimately leaves high-carbon assets facing a much bleaker future,” wrote a reporter with Bloomberg. “He also said investors in such products will see the value of their holdings sink.” What’s going on, exactly? How is it that some of the world’s most powerful bankers, and the politicians they finance, came to support policies that threaten the stability of electrical grids, energy supplies, and thus the global economy itself? The Unseen Order Three of the largest donors to climate change causes are billionaire financial titans Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and Tom Steyer, all of whom have significant investments in both renewables and fossil fuels. Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and George Soros Soros is worth $8 billion and recently made large investments in natural gas firms (EQT) and electric vehicles (Fisker), Bloomberg has a net worth of around $70 billion and has large investments in natural gas and renewables, and much of Steyer’s wealth derives from investments in all three main fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas — as well as renewables. All three men finance climate activists and politicians, including President Biden, who then seek policies — from $500 billion for renewables and electric vehicles over the next decade to federal control over state energy systems to banking regulations to bankrupt oil and gas companies — which would benefit each of them personally. Bloomberg gave over $100 million to Sierra Club to lobby to shut down coal plants after he had taken a large stake in its replacement, natural gas, and operates one of the largest news media companies in the world, which publishes articles and sends emails nearly every day reporting that climate change threatens the economy, and that solar panels and wind turbines are the only cost-effective solution. Soros donates heavily to Center for American Progress, whose founder, John Podesta, was chief of staff to Bill Clinton, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and who currently runs policy at the Biden White House. So too does Steyer, who funds the climate activist organization founded by New Yorker author Bill McKibben, 350.org, which reported revenues of nearly $20 million in 2018. The most influential environmental organization among Democrats and the Biden Administration is the Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC, which advocated for federal control of state energy markets, the $500 billion for electric cars and renewables, and international carbon markets that would be controlled by the bankers and financiers who also donate to it. In the 1990s, NRDC helped energy trading company Enron to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to environmental groups. “On environmental stewardship, our experience is that you can trust Enron,” said NRDC’s Ralph Cavanagh in 1997, even though Enron executives at the time were defrauding investors of billions of dollars in an epic criminal conspiracy, which in 2001 bankrupted the company. From 2009 to 2011, NRDC advocated for and helped write complex cap-and-trade climate legislation that would have created and allowed some of their donors to take advantage of a carbon-trading market worth upwards of $1 trillion. NRDC created and invested $66 million of its own money in a BlackRock stock fund that invested heavily in natural gas companies, and in 2014 disclosed that it had millions invested in renewable funds. Former NRDC head, Gina McCarthey, now heads up Biden’s climate policy team, and Biden’s top economic advisor, Brian Deese, last worked at BlackRock, and almost certainly will return at the end of the Biden Administration. Money buys influence. In 2019, McKibben called Steyer a “climate champ” when Steyer announced he was running for president, adding that Steyer’s “just-released climate policy is damned good!” And in 2020, McKibben wrote an article called, “How Banks Could Bail Us Out of the Climate Crisis,” for The New Yorker, which repeated the claim that extreme weather created by climate change threatens financial interests, and that the way to prevent it is to divert public and private money away from reliable energy sources toward weather-dependent ones. Forms filed to the Internal Revenue Service by Steyer’s philanthropic organization, the TomKat Charitable Trust, show that it gave McKibben’s climate activist group, 350.org, $250,000 in 2012, 2014, and 2015, and may have given money to 350.org in 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, as well, because 350.org thanked either Steyer’s philanthropy, TomKat Foundation, or his organization, NextGen America, in each of its annual reports since 2013. At the same time, McKibben’s motivations are plainly spiritual. He claims that various natural disasters are caused by humans, that climate change literally threatens life on Earth, and is thus “greatest challenge humans have ever faced,” a statement so unhinged from reality, considering declining deaths from disasters, declining carbon emissions, and the total absence of any science for such a claim, that it must be considered religious. McKibben first book about climate change, The End of Nature, explicitly expressed his spiritual views, arguing that, through capitalist industrialization, humankind had lost its connection to nature. “We can no longer imagine that we are part of something larger than ourselves,” he wrote in The End of Nature. “That is what this all boils down to.” Indeed, for William James, the belief in “an unseen order” that we must adjust ourselves to, in order to avoid future punishment, is a defining feature of religion. Climate change is punishment for our sins against nature — that’s the basic narrative pushed by journalists, climate activists, and their banker sponsors, for 30 years. It has a supernatural element: the belief that natural disasters are getting worse, killing millions, and threatening the economy, when in reality they are getting better, killing fewer, and costing less. And it offers redemption: to avoid punishment we must align our behavior with the unseen order, namely, a new economy controlled by the U.N., bankers, and climate activists. Unfortunately, as is increasingly obvious, the unseen order is parasitical and destructive. When Nuclear Leads, the Bankers Will Follow The unseen order of bankers, climate activists, and the news media is so powerful that it is difficult to imagine how it could ever be challenged. The financial might of the climate lobby covers the wealth not only of billionaires Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg, but also $130 trillion in investment funds, including many of the world’s largest pension funds, such as the one belonging to California public employees. The climate lobby’s political power is equally awesome, covering the entirety of the Democratic Party and a significant portion of the Republican Party, and most center-Left parties in Europe. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emanuel Macron, and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm And all of that is sustained by cultural power, which has led many elites to view climate change as the world’s number one issue, has convinced half of all humans that climate change will make our species extinct, and has served as the apocalyptic foundation for Woke religion. But serious cracks in the foundation are growing. The global energy crisis has revealed for many around the world the limits of unreliable renewables, with European governments having to subsidize energy to avoid public backlash, President Biden and other heads of state opening up emergency petroleum reserves, and all nations begging OPEC to produce more energy. The blackouts and rising unreliability of electricity in California, along with the work of the pro-nuclear movement over the last 6 years, has resulted in a growing number of Democrats supporting nuclear energy. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm last week publicly urged California Governor Gavin Newsom not to close California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, the signature nuclear plant Environmental Progress has been trying to save since 2016. Democratic support in particular for nuclear is growing. And alternative media including Substack, podcasts, and social media platforms are increasingly providing a counterweight to the mainstream news media, exposing a huge number of issues that the media got wrong in recent years, and amplifying alternative voices. Nowhere is the change occurring faster than in Europe, where energy shortages are affecting heating, cooking, and electricity supplies in ways that undermine the legitimacy of the banker-led climate efforts. In Britain, private energy companies have gone bankrupt, forcing the government to bail them out. For-profit energy companies, like banks, ultimately depend on taxpayers, who are also voters. Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who led her nation’s exit from nuclear energy, acknowledged that Germany had been defeated in its anti-nuclear energy advocacy at the European Union level, and that nuclear would finally be recognized as low-carbon. And French president Emanuel Macron, under pressure from the political right as voters look to elections next year, gave a passionate speech in favor of nuclear energy last month, announcing $35 billion for new reactors. As the world returns to nuclear, policymakers, media elites, and climate advocates will be increasingly confronted with the question of why consumers and taxpayers will benefit from a global carbon trading scheme and more weather-dependent renewables, particularly at a time of declining global emissions from the continuing transition from coal to natural gas, reduced deforestation, and increased reforestation. Simply building more nuclear power plants means there is no climate change justification for weather-dependent renewables, which actually require greater use of natural gas, in order to deal with the high amount of unreliability. Nuclear power goes with slow and patient capital. The obvious funders of a nuclear expansion in the West would be the pension funds, which need the secure return on investment that major construction and infrastructure projects provide, and which unreliable renewables, as the energy crisis shows, do not. And though the news media is currently ignoring the New York Fed’s report, reporters will not be able to continue spreading misinformation about climate change indefinitely. Increasingly, they, and thus policymakers and the public, will be forced to confront facts inconvenient to their narrative, including that humans are adapting remarkably well to climate change, that renewables make energy unreliable and expensive, and that only nuclear can achieve sustainability goals of reduced emissions, material throughput, and land use. As people ask, “How Bad Are Weather Disasters?”, not just for banks, but for all of us, the answer will increasingly come back, “Not very.” *  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Subscribe To Michael's substack here Donate to Environmental Progress Tyler Durden Sat, 12/04/2021 - 21:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 4th, 2021

Sound Money Is A Prerequisite To Peace, Prosperity, And Freedom

Sound Money Is A Prerequisite To Peace, Prosperity, And Freedom Authored by Patrick Barron via The Mises Institute, There are many good recommendations promoted by Austrian school economists for improving the economy. Although we enjoy successes periodically, most--such as deregulating trucking and airline pricing--involve eliminating previous government interventions. These successes are to be celebrated, of course. But no one can deny that government intervention into the economy has continued, despite these occasional success stories. The reason Big Government has continued to grow is that it controls money production. Not only does government grow in terms of spending, regulations, and interventions everywhere (both internally and overseas), but it threatens our very freedoms. In other words, government's control of money is diametrically opposed to peace, prosperity, and freedom and eventually will destroy our republican democracy. For this reason, returning to sound money--i.e., money that is created by the private market, is part and parcel of the market, and is controlled by no one--should be goal number one for every lover of peace, prosperity, and freedom. Nothing less than the survival of our western-style way of life is at stake. Here are a few examples of how unsound money progresses and masks its destructive power. One, unsound money allows government to confiscate resources at will. For example, in 2020 America's bloated military spent as much as the next eleven nations of the world combined. Of course, military spending went up in 2021 and will continue to increase in 2022. America's annual budget deficit is projected to be somewhere between $1.84 trillion and $3.4 trillion, depending upon whether you ask the Biden administration or the Congressional Budget Office. All of this money is created out of thin air. Americans' taxes will not increase enough to cover even a fraction of the Biden estimate, and there is no appetite in the bond market for more American debt. Therefore, the Fed will monetize the new debt onto its balance sheet. The resulting increase in base money will cause the prices of most goods and services to rise. This impoverishment of the American people through the hidden tax of inflation is possible only because money is completely fiat; i.e., produced out of nothing except the government's printing press and computer terminals. Two, unsound money masks the destructive power of government market interventions. An example is former President Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods. According to a friend of mine, the data is irrefutable that the tariffs worked. Well, as Mark Twain said, there's lies, damned lies, and statistics. What really is irrefutable is the economic law of opportunity cost; i.e., that choosing one thing means the giving up of another. Another is individual preference. The very fact that people must not be allowed to purchase Chinese goods means that they valued those goods to a higher extent than American goods. The reason does not have to be financial. There's always service, availability, quality, etc. So preventing Americans from buying Chinese goods means less satisfaction for Americans. This is just one example. Another is keeping zombie companies in business through artificially lower interest rates means that capital is misallocated to less productive uses. There's a whole panoply of labor laws that artificially raises the cost of American labor, reduces American productivity, and lowers business income. Some workers are priced out of the market through minimum wage and mandatory benefit packages. Business has less capital to invest for expansion. New business starts are discouraged. There's something there for everyone! The destruction is masked by monetarily inflated GDP numbers, artificially suppressed Consumer Price Index (CPI) statistics, increased unemployment payments, and other government programs and manipulated data. Three, and most importantly, Americans' freedom is threatened. Government can print enough money to buy unlimited enforcers of its rules. More IRS agents. More agents for enforcing arbitrary rules of the Occupational, Safety, and Health Administration (OSHA). More agents for enforcing new environmental regulations and laws arbitrarily established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). More Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents. Perhaps even agents to confiscate guns. Conclusion Returning to limited government, creating a more free market order, having a less intrusive government, etc. requires sound money. Sound money is not a guarantee of a free society, but a free society is impossible without sound money. I conclude with these quotes from The Quotable Mises. The last quote is especially pertinent to the point of this brief essay. (Emphases are mine.) The gold standard alone makes the determination of money’s purchasing power independent of the ambitions and machinations of governments, of dictators, of political parties, and of pressure groups. The gold standard alone is what the nineteenth-century freedom-loving leaders (who championed representative government, civil liberties, and prosperity for all) called “sound money.” All those intent upon sabotaging the evolution toward welfare, peace, freedom, and democracy loathed the gold standard, and not only on account of its economic significance. In their eyes the gold standard was the labarum, the symbol, of all those doctrines and policies they wanted to destroy. The classical or orthodox gold standard alone is a truly effective check on the power of the government to inflate the currency. Without such a check all other constitutional safeguards can be rendered vain. I do not want to close on a pessimistic note. Therefore, I offer this final quote from Ludwig von Mises, ever the optimist and ever the gentleman: "Every nation, whether rich or poor, powerful or feeble, can at any hour once again adopt the gold standard." Tyler Durden Sat, 12/04/2021 - 19:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 4th, 2021

Today’s Plunge Is Next Week’s Bounce, Strategist Says

In his Daily Market Notes report to investors, while commenting on a likely bouce, Louis Navellier wrote: Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more A Bounce Next Week Is Highly Likely The technical weakness in the market is disturbing right now. There are a lot of stocks meandering lower, and the selling pressure is […] In his Daily Market Notes report to investors, while commenting on a likely bouce, Louis Navellier wrote: .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 The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more A Bounce Next Week Is Highly Likely The technical weakness in the market is disturbing right now. There are a lot of stocks meandering lower, and the selling pressure is persistent. But the volume is also light and a bounce next week is highly likely. But on the bounce, we're probably going to have to retest the lows. Despite the bad payroll report today, which was approximately 300,000 less than the ADP payroll report on Wednesday, it's interesting how the unemployment rate fell from 4.6% to 4.2%. It's an apparent contradiction that the unemployment rate can fall if job creation is slowing down. The answer is the shrinking workforce. I think the Fed has fulfilled its unemployment mandate and it's time to pivot and fight inflation. Despite the Fed's talk of raising rates and curtailing the quantitative easing, which is reducing the tapering, the ten-year treasury yield is at 1.4% and was well below that for a while today. That's a very favorable interest rate for people buying stocks. You can get a much higher dividend yield than if you have money in the bank, and the dividends are taxed at much lower rates. So the foundations of the stock market continue. The Market Is Technically Very Weak Goldilocks continues, which is low-interest rates and strong earnings. But the market is technically very weak. It got grossly overbought and it has refused to stay overbought, and now it's oversold. But anytime it goes down, it has to bounce and retest. And all of this is happening on light volume. It's very important that buying pressure reemerges which I think will be most likely in the last week of December and then in January when we get new pension funding. The unusually weak market is bothering a lot of investors. But it is just sheer seasonality. Investors have other things on their minds. Markets are being neglected, but they can't be neglected forever. Smart money always comes back in the market. We're going to have a lot of tax selling this year because a lot of people want to realize losses and offset their gains before they pay their taxes. Let the market bounce and retest. Let the tax selling get out of the way. Enjoy the holidays and get ready to invest in the last week of December. Good stocks always bounce. And if you do sell, I do recommend you sell into strength. Hang in there and I think we're going to have a nice bounce next week. We'll have a nice year-end rally and a good start to the new year. Updated on Dec 3, 2021, 2:53 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkDec 4th, 2021

Meet a single mom and adjunct professor with $430,000 in student debt: "I"m in a hole that I"m never going to get out of"

Maria "absolutely" regrets taking out loans to further her education, especially after a layoff and medical bills for her daughter's cancer treatment. Shutterstock.com Maria, 48, has $430,000 in student debt from advanced degrees she regrets pursuing. She had a goal to become a full-time university professor and believed a PhD would get her there. But a layoff and medical bills for her daughter's cancer treatment caused her debt load to surge. Maria had a goal to teach at a university full-time. Today, she "absolutely" regrets pursuing that goal.While Maria's undergraduate education, which she completed in 2001, was funded through scholarships and Pell grants, she knew more advanced degrees would give her a leg up in university teaching — especially as a woman in the industry. So she pursued a master's degree and a PhD, the latter of which took seven years to complete.It was not a decision she took lightly, and at the time she believed the commitment would be worth it. Maria, who requested her last name be withheld for privacy reasons, extensively researched the program, and its statistics for employment post-graduation looked promising. However, she was unable to land a full-time university job after graduation in 2014 and found herself unable to afford her student-loan payments.Now, at 48 years old, Maria's student-loan balance is $430,000 — all from her advanced degrees, per documents reviewed by Insider."I'll probably be paying it off for the rest of my life," she told Insider. "I hate to say it this way, and it's morbid, but I'll probably die still owing student loans."It's been no easy road for Maria since she attained her degrees. At the end of 2015, Maria lost her first job in human resources and could not make payments on her student debt. In 2018, her daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia, and a large portion of her income went to that medical treatment, causing her to defer her loans while interest on them continued to grow.As a full-time human resources representative and part-time adjunct professor in Michigan, Maria now makes a five-figure salary while supporting her 15-year-old daughter on her own, with very minimal child support from the father. She doesn't see a future that doesn't include student debt."It's like I'm in a hole," Maria said. "I feel like I'm in a hole that I'm never going to get out of."'My daughter's medical bills are much more important to me'If Maria could have a do-over, she would never have gotten her PhD. Although she said she prepared herself as best as she could for the financial toll it would take, there was no way she could have anticipated a layoff or the medical bills for her daughter. Of her total student-debt load, more than $70,000 is interest that accumulated while her student-loan payments were on hold, during which she cashed out her 401k and lived on unemployment benefits. "Obviously, paying my daughter's medical bills are much more important to me," Maria said, but she wishes her student-loan company had given her more assistance to control her growing debt load.Maria even filed for bankruptcy in 2018, but despite the extreme financial hardship she was under, she was not successful in discharging her loans. Since she is an adjunct professor, Maria does not work enough hours to qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which forgives student debt for public servants, like teachers, after ten years of qualifying payments. She has worked in HR for a nonprofit — which qualifies for the program — for nearly a decade, but her $0 payments in 2015 while she was unemployed did not count toward her PSLF progress even though Federal Student Aid wrote on its website that they should qualify. A student aid representative told Maria they just have to update her payment progress to include the time she was making $0 payments, but they have yet to do so and she is looking at seven more years of repayment that she's not sure she can afford to get full loan forgiveness. 'I'm hoping that they completely revamp the student-loan program'The Education Department recently announced reforms to PSLF, which included going back over denied applications and payments to the program. So there's a chance that Maria may earn a quicker route to loan forgiveness. But with her current financial outlook, she's not confident she can complete the program and wants President Joe Biden to do more to help millions of borrowers with debt burdens."I'm hoping that they completely revamp the student-loan program," Maria said.As Insider has previously reported, that overhaul may have already started. Along with the PSLF reforms, Biden has cancelled student debt for targeted groups of borrowers — including those defrauded by for-profit schools and people with disabilities, acting on his campaign promise of fixing broken loan forgiveness programs. But pressure continues to build on the president to cancel student debt for every American. Maria would be grateful, not only for her own benefit, but to ensure that other young people don't fall into the same debt trap that she did."Most people that get these student loans are still young and don't understand the true impact of it," Maria said. "So I just feel like there's a lot of overselling in the upfront that puts people in debt like this."Do you have a story to share about student debt? Reach out to Ayelet Sheffey at asheffey@insider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 4th, 2021

4 days after I moved into my new house, floods gutted it. Without climate action, this will only get worse.

Was buying a home worth it? Yes. But it comes with a sobering realization that there will be more losses — for myself and many vulnerable communities. Getty Images Earlier this year, my family moved from a New York City apartment into a New Jersey house.  Four days later, we got a flash-flood warning from Hurricane Ida. Then our basement was underwater. The flood was a stark message for me: Unless we take climate action, this will only happen more. We moved into our new house on a sweet suburban block in New Jersey on the last Sunday in August. The little boy next door came over mid-move, introduced himself to my 4-year-old son, and the two of them took off into the backyard, fast friends. That night, we ordered a pizza and ate it on the floor because we still had no dining-room furniture. We'd moved out of a 750-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn, where we'd spent the pandemic on top of each other. Now we had about three times as much room, spread out over three levels. There were many satisfied smiles that night. Four days later, on September 1, our phones blared with a tornado-watch alert as the remains of Hurricane Ida moved north. What happened next made me realize that unless we do something to reel in climate change, the damage to my house — and to many other communities — will only get worse.When we received the tornado alert, my parents, who had been through a couple of devastating tornadoes in recent years at their home in Tennessee, urged us to go to our basement and wait for a while. The rain became torrential, the flash-flood warnings came, and I cleared a drain in our backyard that the sellers of our house had warned us about. It fills with leaves, they said, and you have to keep it clear in a storm or it will back up. Several inches of water had already built up around it, and it felt like my efforts were in vain. I headed back inside for a respite. A few minutes later, I heard my partner yell for help. Water was now pouring in underneath and around the sides of the door leading into our laundry room from the backyard. A solid inch of water had accumulated in our storage room and laundry room, and it was now heading through the door toward the finished family room. I sent my parents upstairs with our son. My partner and I spent most of that night doing damage control. We cleared the outdoor drains of flotsam that accumulated on top, wearing rubber boots into the muck swirling over them because of the lightning flashing constantly overhead. We tried to direct most of the stream toward our garage with brooms so that it wouldn't all spill sideways into the family room. We watched our sump pump gurgle miserably, working hard but completely overwhelmed. The next day, we had a high-water mark three feet high against our back door. We considered ourselves lucky that the pressure of the water didn't break the door, which happened at our town library. We put a dehydrator and all our fans in the basement — first in the unfinished space, and then in the finished family room. But the vinyl flooring in the family room looked puckered and felt spongy, even after it had dried on the surface and we had cleaned it thoroughly. We pulled up the vinyl to discover a soaked subfloor throughout the family room. We filed an insurance claim. An assessor came; we did receive some money after he aimed a humidity meter at the spot on the subfloor that kept soaking through. It came up at 100%. Contractors came and pulled up the subfloor and opened a space in the interior wall to determine how the water was getting in. The good news: The foundation was not cracked, nor was the cement beneath the subfloor. We had caught our problem before it compromised the house's structural integrity. The bad news: We needed a whole new floor. The wall, too, was damaged; we pulled out soaked, crumbled sheetrock from its newly exposed innards. The solution was deemed a metal plate installed at the base of the wall and sealed in concrete that would effectively waterproof our family room. When you buy a house, especially coming from a largely full-service New York City rental building, you understand that no one's going to put your recycling on the curb for you. No one is calling in electricians or plumbers or exterminators on your behalf. You're in charge now, for better or for worse. But little prepared us for the reality of the "worse": a tropical storm dropping record-setting rains over New Jersey four days after we moved in. We're luckier than many. At least 50 people in the northeast died; 25 were in New Jersey, one in our town. When we drove around after the storm, the piles of furniture, toys, carpet, and debris we saw outside homes made our pile of drenched moving boxes from our basement — our only real casualty — pale in comparison. Whole lives were put out on curbs, while our life here was just getting started. The total economic impact of Hurricane Ida in the United States is estimated at $95 billion, or one-half of 1 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Infrastructure damage in the northeastern states alone was about $25 billion. It's a dizzying feeling to realize that my house that I have owned for barely two months is part of that total. And it's not going to end here. I can make repairs, and I'm lucky to have gotten insurance money that will help to that end. But my Geico is not going to cover climate change. President Biden on November 15 signed into law a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that acknowledges climate change is here to stay and allots billions to shore up vulnerable communities and to bolster the electric grid.According to Flood Factor, a website created by the First Street Foundation to catalog rising flood threats nationwide and to show that the federal government has understated those threats, my county and state are at ever-increasing risk of flooding. We're going to have to do more than install metal plates in our walls and redo our floors. Consume less, walk more, drive hybrids, invest in green spaces and clean technology. Was my home purchase worth it? Yes. I'm gaining more with my move than I lost this time. I'm making changes to minimize future losses.But it comes with the sobering realization that there will be future losses, and we're all going to have to do something about it. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 4th, 2021

Why Web3 Will Change Everything (In Plain English)

Why Web3 Will Change Everything (In Plain English) Authored by Deep Pulusani via 'Moment of Deep' substack, This post was inspired by the following tweet and most popular reply: Some notes before we start: the term web3 today is sometimes used synonymously to mean cryptocurrency, blockchain tech, virtual reality/augmented reality & the metaverse. I find that people already have a more intuitive understanding of how VR/AR may change the future. Therefore, I’ll only be writing about how crypto & blockchain tech in the context of web3 will transform the future, since it’s a bit more challenging to understand and abstract in its concepts. Often this subject is explained with technical specifications or more commonly with political terms, ideas about liberty, decentralization, censorship, and power. These are all important; but what ultimately determines if web3 powered by crypto is the future lies in the economic and productive value it brings, the increases in quality of life it can achieve. These are the aspects I hope to make clear. Where we’ve come from and where we are All of the iterations of the web are digital revolutions, i.e. not only do more of our analog (physical) lives move to the digital realm, but new digitally native (digital-first) experiences are invented as well. Web1 (1990s): a revolution in information availability. Information and content from the real world is put online. Information is no longer a local phenomena nor a physical one, but is available for anyone with an internet connection to access. Early web protocols also allow for file transfers, emails, and web pages. Examples: personal web pages, Encyclopedia Britannica & Encarta online, FTP, MapQuest Web2 (2000-): a revolution in creation, experience, and connection. The static becomes dynamic, and a convergence of hardware and software technologies enable us to experience rich interfaces and interactions on the web. Our lives start to become increasingly digital - compare what percent of your daily attention is focused online in 1999, then 2009, and then 2019. The ecosystem and interface of web2 is now rich enough where people can spend the majority of their lives online - from their careers, relationships, hobbies, investments, etc. - we now spend much of our lives in digital space. We also consume most of our content digitally, create much of our output digitally, and connect most frequently with others through messaging apps and social networks. Examples: YouTube, Google Docs, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Robinhood, smart home & smart health devices Web3 (2015-): a revolution in coordination, ownership, and value transfer. I’ll break down each of these web3 revolutions in the ‘Web3 Paradigm Shifts’ section further below. It’s important to note first, however, that much of what will happen in web3 has its roots in web2. What’s often lost in all the web3 talk is that the web2 era is not over and will continue to produce enormous value and new companies. Let’s see how web3 powered by crypto is the next logical step to some of the revolutions of web2. Web3 Extensions of Web2. New and more powerful networks. In web1 times, your networks might’ve included your local community, your job, your family, and friends you grow up with. Maybe you were part of a mailing list or a forum if you were savvy online. In web2, networks proliferated rapidly, and continue to explode. You might have networks on FB, telegram groups, IG niches, corners of Twitter, or varied family/friend WhatsApp groups. This network creation continues in web3 with the introduction of the value network. Examples include Ethereum, Solana, Polkadot, countless others - each currency representing its own individual network of users. In addition, you have the tokens built on top of these programmable currencies, tokens that any individual or business can issue. The result is a proliferation of value networks that are themselves nested into a larger, more powerful network that it can communicate with and transfer between. This is an extremely powerful new invention because a value network can be added to all of our existing networks in web2 - to our existing social networks, messaging networks, and content networks - or to brand new networks entirely. Essentially any network can be monetized, tokenized, or incentivized, creating supercharged versions of our already rich variety of networks. Explosion of creative activity, niches, and formats. Even if we just include web2 companies launched in the past few years alone - TikTok, Substack, Clubhouse, etc. - there’s so many creative and productive niches for individuals to occupy. Couple that with increasingly easier ways to distribute content among a proliferation of platforms (aka networks), it’s no wonder there has been an explosion of creative activity and individual power over the past 20 years. In the web1 world, we still mainly had movie stars and bestselling authors. In web2, we have stars and activists in every genre, category, and format you could ask for. What progresses in web3 is the further expansion of platforms, niches, and content types. Most notably, you will see more purely digital creation and digital reward (e.g. create an opera in a virtual world that’s monetized by a virtual currency that’s easily tradeable into other virtual currencies or goods). Furthermore, the platforms that creators and producers use will be less intrusive, less expensive, and more malleable than the monolithic platforms of today. Ease of global collaboration Cloud storage & editing, powerful front-end frameworks, and ever-increasing browser strength have made it possible to collaborate effectively with anyone, anywhere, and in practically any field. Figma and Airtable are just two examples of recent web2 companies that have accelerated the ease of collaboration with individuals halfway around the world. The pandemic has further accelerated this phenomena. With web3, we now have organizations that can be independently formed with no underlying platform dependence. These organizations, dubbed DAOs, can be both incentivized to work towards a common goal and govern themselves through tokenization. Anonymous, pseudonymous, or fully public individuals can have their work measured and verified through a publicly available blockchain. Disintermediation and distribution. Web3 will continue the trend of removing distance between producer and consumer. There is a continual disintermediation happening on the web. During web1, to release a successful music album you had to go artist → label → distributer → retailer → consumer. At each step there is profit loss and gatekeepers deciding whether you can continue onward to distribute. In web2 you got to go either 1-step closer (artist → label → platform → consumer) or 2-steps closer for those fully independent ( artist → platform → consumer). Web3 continues this disintermediation, as the platform merely becomes the underlying network or protocol the connection is made over (artist → consumer via protocol or network). There’s no longer gatekeepers or an expensive take-rate. There can still be curators to guide consumers (the difference being that a curator can make money independently of the artist’s margin). The end goal is that all service providers or product creators have the option to be connected directly with service seekers and product consumers. Disintermediation is only possible because of the increasing ability to self-distribute. In the past, middle men at each step were essential to ensure wide distribution. Web2 gave us powerful tools of self-distribution through platforms like Amazon, Shopify, Google Ads, Social Media, SoundCloud, etc. In web3, we can maintain all the tools of web2, but now we introduce tokenized systems. By creating tokens that somehow represent your business or art in your chosen way, early fans and early users become incentivized to spread your art by holding those tokens. Those fans will now distribute that art for you through their own individual networks and tools. Web3 Paradigm Shifts Users become owners. Employee stock options made many tech employees rich with the advent of web-first tech companies. However, for companies that rely on network effects - which is all social media, all sharing economy e.g. Uber, all marketplaces e.g. Amazon, all cloud tools, all games - the early users are equally as important. Without the early users, later users don’t join in, and a company never gains traction. Today, however, early users are not compensated for this essential contribution. In web3, through both fungible and non-fungible tokens, users & early evangelizers will win when a company wins too. In common press about web3, what’s often talked about is that we’ll now be compensated for our data. This is true - unlike our data being owned by the platforms (Twitter, FB, etc.) it will travel with us and be owned by us. However, the more valuable and scarce asset that users give over to apps is their attention, and this will be the far greater reward to users. Power users and heavy users of games, cloud tools, and content platforms, will eventually either be incentivized by the app or move on to companies that do incentivize their valuable attention. Any agreement becomes possible. At each era of the web, we can code increasingly powerful experiences (i.e. code becomes more abstracted from the binary 0s and 1s that the computer actually runs). When web2 rolled around, internet connections were fast enough and devices strong enough to have rich streaming & content experiences. In web3, the game-changing abstraction is smart contracts. Smart contracts essentially allow any agreement between individuals, groups, protocols, or mix of the bunch. Relying on the legal system to enforce billions of agreements small and large on the web is neither desirable nor realistic. A smart contract’s ability to allow for agreements between two untrusted individuals without burdening the legal system creates a major shift in a human’s ability to coordinate behavior and form agreements between groups. In web3, code enforces the agreements and the blockchain infrastructure protects against manipulation of this code. Smart contracts are natively digital, meaning they can be combined and stacked with other contracts to create powerful systems and infrastructures. The implications of this are not yet fully realized, but one hint to the power of smart contracts is the emergence of decentralized finance, which has disrupted a giant sector in a very short period of time. Smart contracts can now be embedded in all the software and hardware we use - any object can be embedded with operating rules, sharing terms, & financial agreements between parties. Combine this with the ability to interface with any other contract on the network, and the creative, collaborative, and productive uses of these contracts become limitless. Everything can be a financial instrument. People often ask why not just use fiat currency through PayPal or Stripe - what’s the functional point of an open-source digitally native currency like Ethereum? The answer is that you can program it, build on top of it, and integrate it with anything digital - whether a smart hardware device or a software application. Even everyday items like your chat groups, gifs, or your writing journal can be made into a financial instrument. That universe becomes bigger when imagine digitally native assets and services that have not even been invented yet. Any individual can perform this integration, not just institutions. Usually when people think of financial instruments, we think of ownership, of buying and selling. But these aren’t the only functions of financialization - we can integrate all financial functions including borrowing, lending, insurance, and merging. With financial functionality, also comes executive functionality, like governance and direction. Now imagine these functions available to any asset or network, both digital and physical. A new identity emerges. Tokens don’t necessarily have to represent money or value - we can use tokens to verify productive work done, or personal and career milestones reached. Because web3 transactions are stored on a publicly available network, our web3 wallet can not only represent transactions we’ve made and tokens we own, but organizations we’re apart of, events we’ve attended, people we know, content we’ve created, and work we’ve done. We can carry this history around to any app connected to the network that we grant access to. Those concerned with privacy never have to expose their physical identity, as wallets are simply avatars which maintain the right to hide or expose the physical identity behind it. Instead of our creative and productive output being spread out and siloed over various companies - LinkedIn, Twitter, IG - our web3 wallet can be carried with us wherever we go. Apps, games, and experiences can then interact with the specific identity the user brings to create tailored and one-of-a-kind experiences for the user’s history. Collaborators and employers can verify your expertise, your skill, your network, and things you’ve created or worked on through your wallet, without requiring a resume or contacting references. Postscript: Why did I write this? There’s something odd about writing articles that predict the future. If the writer is correct, the future is going to happen anyway, so what’s the point of writing an article about it now? What’s the point of another article hyping up a future that is certain? Because web3 is so widely misunderstood, the future is uncertain. The economic and productive value that web3 can bring is deeply threatened by governments and regulators around the world.  This is somewhat expected from authoritarian governments that will naturally crack down on web3 because of what it entails - shared equity and decision making, mass participation and organization - as retaining centralized power is essential to their literal survival. This has already become apparent in China. What’s essential is that major democracies, especially the world’s wealthiest USA and the world’s biggest India, foster the web3 experiment. It’s essential that we let things develop before overzealously legislating in the name of protection. Unfriendly governments could have firewalled the web1 internet and set progress back a decade because it was now easier for criminals to communicate and spread criminal information.  Undoing legislation and regulatory burdens is much harder than waiting to pass them in the first place. Web3 built on crypto has the possibility to be the major boon for wealth inequality (see paradigm shifts listed above), an issue all sides of the political spectrum claim to want to solve. Democratic governments: let’s let web3 grow, develop, and make mistakes. We’re still so early. *  *  * Follow me on twitter @momentofdeep for more content like this. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/03/2021 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 4th, 2021

Kinder Morgan (KMI) Expects El Paso Gas Pipeline to Remain Shut

The damage on the 30-inch Line 2000 forced Kinder Morgan (KMI) to reduce pressure on the pipeline, resulting in reduced gas flows. Kinder Morgan Inc.'s KMI El Paso natural gas pipeline system is expected to partly remain shut for a while after a deadly explosion ruptured the pipeline a few months earlier, per Reuters.The El Paso pipeline system has a 10,140-mile natural gas pipeline network. It ships the commodity from major basins like San Juan, Permian and Anadarko to multiple states, including California, Arizona, Texas and others. The pipeline system provides both firm transportation and interruptible transportation services.The incident took place near Coolidge, AZ, which unfortunately killed two people and injured one. The rupture on the 30-inch Line 2000 forced Kinder Morganto reduce pressure on the pipeline. As a result, it reduced gas flows to California at a time of greater demand for the fuel. Natural gas flows declined from 0.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) to 0.65 bcfd. Notably, one billion cubic feet is enough gas for 5 million homes per day in the United States.California is suffering from a severe drought, which has cut power supplies from hydropower facilities, putting the state in a tight position. Wildfires reduced electricity imports from other regions, thereby, forcing the state to rely on gas-fired generation this year. Hence, gas prices, which were already high due to the drought and wildfires, averaged $6.64 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) compared with $4.01 MMBtu in the same period of the previous year.The incident remained under U.S. National Transportation Safety Board's investigation. Per Reuters, activities were in progress to restore part of the damaged pipeline for limited operation to carry out an inspection on the line, including recently installed pipe.Company Profile & Price PerformanceHeadquartered in Houston, TX, Kinder Morgan is a leading midstream energy infrastructure provider.Shares of the company have underperformed the industry in the past three months. The KMI stock has lost 2.1% compared with the industry's 1.8% decline. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Zacks Rank & Stocks to ConsiderKinder Morgan currently has a Zack Rank #3 (Hold).Investors interested in the energy sector might look at the following companies that presently flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.SM Energy Company SM is one of the most attractive players in the exploration and production space. It engages in the exploration, exploitation, development, acquisition, and production of natural gas and crude oil in North America. SM's operations focus on the Permian basin and the South Texas & Gulf Coast region. It has 443,188 net acres under its possession, of which 33.5% is developed.In the past year, shares of SM Energy have gained 478.9% compared with the industry's growth of 85.3%. Moreover, SM's earnings for 2021 are expected to surge 708.7% year over year. SM Energy currently has a Zacks Style Score of A for both Growth and Momentum. The upstream energy player beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate thrice in the last four quarters and missed once, with an earnings surprise of 126.3%, on average.Diamondback Energy, Inc. FANG, based in Midland, TX, is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company. FANG primarily focuses on the Permian basin, with around 414,000 net acres. The upstream operator focuses on growth through a combination of acquisitions and active drilling in America's hottest and lowest-cost shale region. As of 2020-end, Diamondback held 1,316 million barrels of oil equivalent in proved reserves.In the past year, shares of Diamondback have gained 130.1% compared with Zacks Exploration and Production Industry's growth of 85.4%. FANG is expected to see an earnings growth of 269.7% in 2021. The company has also witnessed ten upward revisions in the past 30 days. Diamondback's board of directors recently declared a quarterly dividend of 50 cents per share for the third quarter, indicating an 11.1% hike in its quarterly payout from the previous level of 45 cents.Phillips 66 PSX is the leading player in each of its operations like refining, chemicals and midstream in terms of size, efficiency and strengths. PSX's operations include processing, transportation, storing, and marketing fuels and products worldwide. Phillips 66 is currently valued at $33.9 billion and offers a quarterly dividend of 92 cents.PSX is projected to see a year-over-year earnings surge of 547.2% in 2021. It has witnessed three upward revisions in the past 30 days. Phillips 66 beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate three times in the last four quarters and missed once. PSX currently has a Zacks Style Score of A for Value. Zacks' Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence In 2021, this world-changing technology is projected to generate $327.5 billion in revenue. Now Shark Tank star and billionaire investor Mark Cuban says AI will create "the world's first trillionaires." Zacks' urgent special report reveals 3 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 3 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report SM Energy Company (SM): Free Stock Analysis Report Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI): Free Stock Analysis Report Phillips 66 (PSX): Free Stock Analysis Report Diamondback Energy, Inc. (FANG): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 3rd, 2021