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Watch: Tesla Model 3 Goes Airborne, Crashes Through Front Entrance Of Columbus Convention Center

Watch: Tesla Model 3 Goes Airborne, Crashes Through Front Entrance Of Columbus Convention Center A Tesla Model 3 made a dramatic entrance when it crashed through the glass exterior of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, located in downtown Colombus, Ohio, at a high rate of speed that caused $350k worth of damage, according to local news The Columbus Dispatch.  Columbus police received a call around 1230 on Wednesday, May 4, about a Model 3 exceeding 70 mph and plowed into a barrier before going airborne -- crashing through the center's entrance.  The police report said a 63-year-old driver "lost control of his brakes and was unable to stop."  This week, the Dispatch released new security footage of the accident. The video is shocking, and miraculously nobody was injured except for the driver.  The convention center estimated the crash caused $350k in damage, including the entire front entrance, sprinkler system, power lines, carpeting, drywall, and wall coverings that need to be replaced.  Ladbible notes the NTSB Office of Highway Safety in Washington, D.C. said they aren't investigating the crash.  "The NTSB has decided not to pursue an investigation of this crash. "Tesla checked their system, and they did not receive any telematics data from this crash. "The vehicle ECM would likely have retained the data. "We are interested in any vehicle that is operating under some sort of autonomous mode or utilizing an autopilot feature.  "Presumably, the vehicle still has the electronic data recorder, so if we wanted to get that data, we could, if we had decided to investigate it," said Thomas Barth, the agency's special investigations chief. According to police, the driver was charged with failure to control the vehicle, and there was no mention in the crash report if Autopilot was engaged.  Last month, a Tesla Model 3 was driving down a stretch of California highway when the car's computer allegedly froze. The car's accelerator was unresponsive and stuck cruising at 83 mph. The driver managed to slow the vehicle down with brakes.  The NTSB has investigated numerous accidents involving Tesla vehicles over the years, especially ones on Autopilot. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 20:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 13th, 2022

We visited Victoria"s Secret stores in the US and the UK, and found an uneven, sprawling product selection as the lingerie brand struggles to transform

We shopped at locations in Leeds in the United Kingdom and Indianapolis, Indiana, in the United States to compare the in-store experiences. Áine Cain/Insider Victoria's Secret is a global beauty and lingerie brand that operates around 1,400 stores globally. The company has struggled to adapt to shifting beauty standards and changing consumer demands. Insider visited two stores, one in the United Kingdom and the other in the United States. Victoria's Secret is a global beauty and lingerie brand that's long been synonymous with its now defunct "Angels" and extravagant fashion shows.The brand first came on the scene in 1977 and later became a staple in shopping malls. However in recent years, owing to internal struggles and changing beauty standards, the company has experienced a number of difficulties as its tried to shed its overtly sexy image.In 2020, the company shuttered 250 stores in the United States and Canada. A year later, Victoria's Secret's former parent company L Brands spun off the retailer. The newly-independent company now says it operates around 1,400 locations worldwide. Currently, the company is pushing to change its image to a more relaxed, accessible, and inclusive style. But not every location has made the shift yet.Insider recently visited two Victoria's Secret stores to check-in on the transformation. We visited a shop in the United Kingdom and a location in the United States. Here's what we saw:The Victoria's Secret in the UK that we visited was located in a city-center shopping mall in Leeds, northern England.Trinity Leeds, a large shopping mall.Grace Dean/InsiderThe Victoria's Secret store was easy to spot thanks to its signature bright pink exterior.The exterior of a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderThere were a couple of small displays showing some of its products, but most of the wall space was taken up by the pink wall, and the displays didn't seem as festive compared to the other stores in the mall.A shopper walks past a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe central display focused on what Victoria's Secret is most famous for — lingerie.The entrance of a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThe interior was very dark, with a lot of black furniture and dim lights.Displays in a Leeds Victoria's Secret store.Grace Dean/InsiderThe inside of the store seemed very carefully curated, like these digital screens on either side of the entrance, with the company's perfumes displayed underneath.A photo display in a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderSections of the store were dedicated to sleepwear ...Clothing displayed on the wall in a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds.Grace Dean/Insider... and perfume and beauty products ...Products on a shelf in a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds.Grace Dean/Insider... though it mainly showcased Victoria's Secret's lingerie.The interior of a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderThere was an area dedicated to Victoria's Secret's more sexy lingerie, too.Mannequins display different lingerie options in a Victoria's Secret in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderNot all the items were so sexy, though.White bras, shirts, and robes hang on the wall in a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderUnder each display were rows of drawers ...Tables containing rows of large drawers in a Leeds Victoria's Secret.Grace Dean/Insider... which store products, sorted by size.A drawer of underwear in a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderA lot of the drawers seemed mostly empty, though ...Two bras sit in trays in a Leeds Victoria's Secret.Grace Dean/Insider... like this paltry offering.A single corset sits in a tray at a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderMost of the store looked tidy, and staff on the store floor kept neatening up the stock ...Products from the "Dream Angels" collection hang on the wall of a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/Insider... though a couple of the displays needed some work.A bra hangs incorrectly on a mannequin in a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderOne of the focal displays was dedicated to the brand's perfumes ...Perfumes sit on a table at a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/Insider... though other fragrance products were randomly dotted around the store, too.A table containing fragrances, clothing, and purses at a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderA couple of areas at the back of the store deviated from its dark color scheme and were instead bright pink.Mannequins display Victoria's Secret lingerie in a store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderThere was a huge screen at the very far end of the store, too ...A table containing Victoria's Secret merchandise in a store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/Insider... that played videos showcasing the brand's products.A large screen playing videos of models in a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderSigns dotted throughout the store advertised bra fittings.Robes, pajamas, and bras hanging on the wall at a Leeds Victoria's Secret.Grace Dean/InsiderAt one side of the store, next to a display of underwear ...Lingerie displayed in a Victoria's Secret store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/Insider... there was an opening into the Victoria's Secret Pink store next door.The door connecting Victoria's Secret store with a Victoria's Secret Pink location in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderThe Pink store had a separate external entrance, too.The exterior of a Victoria's Secret Pink store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderThe store was much more brightly lit, and its displays seemed tailored to younger shoppers. A lot of the customers appeared to be teens.The entrance way of a Victoria's Secret Pink store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderThe displays were incredibly neat and colorful ...Inside a Leeds Victoria's Secret Pink store.Grace Dean/Insider... and the drawers largely seemed much better stocked than in the Victoria's Secret next door.A drawer of merchandise in a Victoria's Secret Pink store in Leeds.Grace Dean/InsiderThough most of the store contained clothes and gym gear.Sports bras are displayed on the wall of a Victoria's Secret Pink store in Leeds, northern England.Grace Dean/InsiderThere were QR codes you could scan to book a bra fitting ...A sign displays a photo of a model and a QR code in a Leeds Victoria's Secret.Grace Dean/Insider... as well as signs encouraging you to order online if you couldn't find what you wanted in store.A sign displayed in a Leeds Victoria's Secret.Grace Dean/InsiderWe also swung by a Victoria's Secret store located in a mall in Indianapolis, Indiana. Compared with the Leeds location, its entrance was a bit less flashy.The exterior of a Victoria's Secret store situated in mall in Indianapolis, Indiana.Áine Cain/InsiderIn the United States, Victoria's Secret is, of course, best known for its lingerie products.Mannequins display different colored bras and panties in an Indianapolis Victoria's Secret.Áine Cain/InsiderThe store seemed to be divided into several distinct sections, including basic, everyday underwear ...Lingerie, panties, and bras hang on the wall in a Victoria's Secret store in Indianapolis.Áine Cain/Insider... perfumes , makeup, and toiletries ...A table of Victoria's Secret perfumes and other products in a store based in Indianapolis, Indiana.Áine Cain/Insider... and, of course, lingerie for special occasions.A grey piece of lingerie in a Victoria's Secret store in Indianapolis.Áine Cain/InsiderThe store was well-lit with meticulously-organized displays and attended staff, on hand to answer questions and take bra measurements.A section of non-lingerie Victoria's Secret products in a store in Indianapolis.Áine Cain/InsiderWe were struck by all the various displays touting different perfumes and fragrant lotions.A collection of "Velvet Petals" line products in a Victoria's Secret store in Indianapolis.Áine Cain/InsiderThe air in the store was filled with sweet smells from those aromatic products, although we'll note that stores like this can be tricky for anyone susceptible to migraines.A row of lotions and creams in a Victoria's Secret store in Indianapolis.Áine Cain/InsiderMost of those displays seemed to offer pretty pricey options, something you'd buy as a gift for a special occasion rather than an everyday purchase.A collection of "Heavenly" line products in a Victoria's Secret store in Indianapolis.Áine Cain/InsiderIn general, the store was laid out like a fancy, highly feminine destination. That could be viewed as aspirational by prospective customers.A table of perfumes and lotions displayed in a Victoria's Secret store in Indianapolis.Áine Cain/InsiderBut it could also be a little intimidating for anyone looking to buy a regular bra or extra underwear.A row of Victoria's Secret bras displayed in a store in Indianapolis, Indiana.Áine Cain/InsiderAlthough the store did offer plenty of casual options ...Wireless push-up bras in a Victoria's Secret in Indianapolis, Indiana.Áine Cain/Insider... and even pajama products that trended more towards "cozy" than outright "sexy."A table displaying flannel pajamas in a Victoria's Secret store in Indianapolis.Áine Cain/InsiderLike in the Leeds store, the shop was filled with drawers, each containing panties, bras, and other products sorted by size.Tables with drawers containing Victoria's Secret products in Indianapolis, Indiana.Áine Cain/InsiderBut special offerings or new, seasonal lines seemed to each receive their own display.Bras and panties for the "Dream Angels" collection in Victoria's Secret in Indianapolis, Indiana.Áine Cain/InsiderMany of the items we looked at had prices up-front and clearly labeled, unlike the displays in the UK store."Demi" bras and panties hung up on the wall of a Victoria's Secret store based in Indianapolis, Indiana.Áine Cain/InsiderThe Indianapolis shop was by and large a clean, well-organized store that lent itself to a positive shopping experience for the customer.A table displaying products in a Victoria's Secret in Indianapolis.Áine Cain/InsiderAll in all, it will be interesting to watch Victoria's Secret pivot its brand in the coming years, as the company attempts to bounce back by selling a more inclusive vision.Bras and panties hung up on the wall of a Victoria's Secret in Indianapolis, Indiana.Áine Cain/InsiderSource: InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 20th, 2022

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

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

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

Tchir: "It"s Too Early For The Fed To Change Their Messaging"

Tchir: "It's Too Early For The Fed To Change Their Messaging" Authored by Peter Tchir via Academy Securities, We Laughed, We Cried, It’s Way Worse Than Cats The market has become an exhausting and emotional roller coaster! Just a glance at the T-Report titles in the past month is enough to depress you: Welcome to Thunderdome!!! The Not So Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Bad to the Bone Duck and Cover Nowhere To Run, Nowhere to Hide Traditional vs Disruptive Portfolios (we will come back to this one) The “R” Word Rears its Ugly Head. Interspersed throughout we’ve had some calls for short-term market bounces that have enjoyed a modicum of success, but there has been a general theme, which unfortunately, the market has generally followed. Exhausted If I had to describe market participants right now, I’d use the word “exhausted.” A few weeks ago, it might have been “shell-shocked.” A few weeks before that, I might have dared to use the word “optimistic” or “fearful” (weird that both words come to mind). But right now, exhausted is about the best description that I can come up with for most people in markets! Friday did little to make people more comfortable as we rose on the open, sold-off in the afternoon, only to rally strongly into the close! How much was OpEx (option expiration) related or not is anyone’s guess, but it was another exhausting day of trading where it was easy to feel incredibly smart or incredibly stupid, or both, in a matter of hours. What’s Next? Who knows? I could make a bull case, a bear case, or an indifferent case, which tells me that I should probably be neutral, waiting for some clear signal. Here is what I’m watching and thinking about as we head into this week: Weeks leading into holidays are often good for markets! But if they are weak, the weakness tends to persist. Not much to look at here, at least until Thursday. Bitcoin held its own last week. I think crypto is a lynchpin for this market. We described the “disruptive portfolio” concept last week, so markets need crypto to stabilize. With the ECB coming after this market hard now (Lagarde has some strong words on the subject), bitcoin could face problems beyond those of its own making (like the unstable “stable” coins). Positive for now, but this could turn on a dime. The “better than bank account” stocks caught a strong bid on Friday into the close. These megacap stocks are key to index levels and the support seems good. The stocks are certainly “cheap” relative to a few weeks or months ago, so maybe they bottomed? Or maybe the stability in crypto and OpEx was enough to provide a surge into the close that won’t be followed through? The stock vs bond relationship has “normalized.” Bonds tended to zig this week when stocks zagged, and vice versa. The 60/40 funds acted like they were supposed to, and risk-parity trades made sense again. I do think that shifting correlations are crucial in a market driven by around the clock/across the globe algo trading, so this normalization of some major cross-asset correlations is potentially very positive. Recessions tend to take a long time to develop. The jump to recession chatter seems premature. Yes, I’m in the “hard landing” camp. Yes, I think Europe will be in a recession soon, if not already, largely due to the ongoing and increasing number of issues related to the war in Ukraine. But the earnings that triggered so much of the recession talk seem to say more about the cost base rather than the consumer (unless you were building in to your model infinite spending capacity for the average consumer). The 2 jobs for every person looking soundbite seems overdone. I cannot remember how many times I heard that from bulls last week. Whether they were bullish on the market or on the economy, they kept trotting out this one line. It almost felt “manufactured” or like some “power” had pushed a bunch of people on this particular soundbite. I am convinced that we have seen peak job availability (at least for the rest of this year). Munis caught a bid!!!! Admittedly, a small bid, almost microscopic, relative to the 10% or more decline from the start of the year, but a bid nonetheless. Inflows actually started a month ago, which wasn’t enough to stop the onslaught, but should help if this rebound is real. This is important as this could really mark a change in retail behavior (though if I’m correct in last week’s report, we should see money shift from equities to bonds as the ability to get returns in fixed income that were unheard of a year ago, should encourage that shift to some degree). Commercial Real Estate. The Fed watches this closely. Real estate feeds into the banking system faster than any other asset. Whether you are a local, regional, or global player, real estate (especially  commercial real estate) impacts your portfolio a lot! In any given area, there are only so many small businesses to lend to, so you get forced into real estate. The residential market is one thing, but it is the volatility in commercial that can impact banks quickly, which is why the Fed should be (and I suspect is) looking at this market closely. Location, location, location. We can all see the trends of where people are moving to and potentially working from (commercial real estate should do well where people are moving). But we can also see the cities (with some of the biggest commercial real estate exposure) that don’t yet appear to be “normalizing.” This is likely to be more of a regional issue than a national issue because of the importance of location. The persistence of WFH. It has been far more difficult than many senior managers thought to get people back to the office on a fulltime basis. Whether it is outright revolt (or the fear of revolt), workers hold the upper hand. Many companies are running short staffed already and are having difficulty filling open positions. They “know” that other employers are willing to allow more work flexibility to get or retain people so they are “handcuffed” in their ability to get people back in the office like they used to be (especially for jobs that don’t require physical proximity). That has been occurring without a new wave of COVID (which is starting to seem like a real possibility) or the emergence of new reasons not to commute (from subway safety to monkeypox virus (no comment)). I am not sure how much longer this WFH trend can continue without impairing office valuations and higher interest rates are not helping. Keep an eye on this sector for weakness, but be comforted that it is at the top of the list of what the Fed watches (they want nothing to impair the banks). Commercial Real Estate as an inflation hedge? I’ve heard this a lot but cannot get there, partly because of the point above, partly because of what we are seeing in the earnings of retailers (who presumably have commercial real estate costs), and partly because the Fed hikes cannot be helping. Bear Market Rallies are Vicious! The March rally, which was more than 15% for the Nasdaq 100 was both vicious (and with hindsight) a bear market rally. The viciousness of these rallies may explain the relentless buying of some of the most aggressive ETFs. Who wouldn’t want to make 20% in a couple of weeks? But it may also be why we still don’t seem to have experienced “capitulation.” A lot to think about, but very few conclusions! Bottom Line Rates should trade in narrower ranges. Rates should move in the opposite direction of stocks as markets “normalize.” The general trend is towards lower yields due to concern about the health of the economy and the Fed’s ability to maintain their pace of hikes. Credit should do well, but I’d be selling leveraged loans. They have outperformed too much and given the issuance in the past couple of years (where “tough” deals went to loans to get done) the “protection” relative to bonds is likely overstated. Add to that the potential total return if interest rates are low and I have to advocate heavily for BBB and BB bonds. I like owning them on a spread and an outright level (HY also showed some glimmers of hope). I like CLOs at the senior tranches and I’d buy the cheapest senior tranches because I continue to believe that it is easier to pick a perfect NCAA bracket than it is to create losses in a AAA CLO tranche (the same is probably true down to BBB, but I only want to seem a little crazy, not fully having gone off the deep end). CCC bonds are trickier - they will bounce massively on any rally, but with a recession being discussed, they aren’t for the faint of heart. Equities. A bounce would be nice and should maybe even be expected. Having said that, capitulation has not occurred and what looks “cheap” versus 6 months ago might only look “ok” versus a couple of years ago (and crypto concerns me). I guess I’m still cautious but close to neutral and am happy to change my mind here as indications of sentiment, positioning, and data come in. It is too early for the Fed to change their messaging. They might start hinting at it as financial conditions have tightened and the negative wealth effect is real, but the shift will be subtle for now. I think in order of things they watch, equity prices are in the distance, while commercial real estate and short-term credit markets are front and center (short-term credit is performing very well and there is large demand to lend, so all good there, and CRE isn’t a problem at the moment). What I could really use is some rest! A day or two (or even five) of calm markets would be nice (beyond that, I’d get nervous again). Markets where you don’t shake your head every time you spend 15 minutes away from the desk and can’t believe where prices are now. That would be nice, and we’d all enjoy it (and quite frankly, need it)! Tyler Durden Mon, 05/23/2022 - 14:42.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 23rd, 2022

The Tucker Carlson origin story

Tucker Carlson's journey from prep school provocateur to Fox News flamethrower, according to his friends and former classmates. Tucker Carlson during a CNN National Town Meeting on coverage of the White House sex scandal, on January 28, 1998.Richard Ellis/Getty Images Tucker Carlson is remembered as a provocateur and gleeful contrarian by those who knew him in his early days. His bohemian artist mother abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will. At a Rhode Island prep school and at Trinity College, classmates remember him as a skilled debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audiences. On Oct. 29, 1984, New York police killed an elderly Black woman named Eleanor Bumpurs in her own home. Bumpers, who lived in a public housing complex in the Bronx, had fallen four months behind on her rent. When officials from the city housing authority tried to evict her, she refused, and they called the police. Five officers responded by storming into her apartment. Bumpurs, who had a history of mental illness, grabbed a butcher knife as two officers pushed her against a wall with their plastic shields and a metal pole. A third officer fired two shots from his 12-gauge shotgun, striking Bumpurs in her hand and chest.Eleanor Bumpurs' death dominated the city's news for two months and led the NYPD to revise its guidelines for responding to emotionally disturbed individuals.At St. George's prep school, some 175 miles away in Rhode Island, the incident deeply haunted Richard Wayner. He was one of the school's few Black students and had grown up in a residential tower not far from where Bumpurs had lived. He earned straight As and was so admired that in 1984 his peers elected him senior prefect, the prep equivalent of student body president, making him the first Black class leader in the school's 125-year history. Harvard soon beckoned.Wayner was frustrated with how the St. George's community seemed to ignore the conversations about racial justice that were happening outside the cloistered confines of Aquidneck Island. It bothered Wayne that almost no one at St. George's seemed to know anything about Bumpurs' killing. "You had your crew, you put your head down, and you tried to get through three or four years of prep school with your psyche intact," Wayner said of those days.As senior prefect, one of the duties was to deliver an address each week at the mandatory Sunday chapel service. One Sunday, perched from the chapel podium, Wayner described the shooting as a sea of white faces stared back at him. He concluded with the words: "Does anyone think that woman deserved to die?"Near the front of the chapel, a single hand went up for a few brief seconds. It was Tucker Carlson.Eleanor Bumpurs was shot and killed by the New York Police Department on October 29, 1984APThen a sophomore, Tucker had a reputation as a gleeful contrarian – an indefatigable debater and verbal jouster who, according to some, could also be a bit of a jerk. "Tucker was just sort of fearless," said Ian Toll, a St. George's alumnus who would go on to be a military historian. "Whether it was a legitimate shooting may have been a point of debate but the fact was that Tucker was an underclassmen and the culture was to defer to the seniors." Wayner himself never saw Tucker's hand go up, and the two kept in touch over the years. (Note on style: Tucker Carlson and the members of his family are referred to here by their first names to avoid confusion.)  Four decades later, glimmers of that prep school provocateur appear on Tucker's Prime Time show on Fox, which garners an average of between 3 to 4 million viewers a night. His furrowed visage and spoiling-for-a-fight demeanor are all too familiar to those who have known him for decades. In the words of Roger Stone, a Republican political operative, frequent guest, and longtime friend of Tucker's: "Tucker Carlson is the single most influential conservative journalist in America… It is his courage and his willingness to talk about issues that no one else is willing to cover that has led to this development."Tucker's name has even been floated as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024. "I mean, I guess if, like, I was the last person on earth, I could do it. But, I mean, it seems pretty unlikely that I would be that guy." he said on the "Ruthless" podcast in June, dismissing this possibility.Tucker's four decades in Washington, and his transition from conservative magazine writer to right-wing television pundit, have been well documented. But less well known are his early years and how they shaped him: his bohemian artist mother, who abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will; the Rhode Island prep school where he met his future spouse; and his formation into a contrarian debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audience with his attention-getting tactics.Tucker declined to participate in an interview with Insider, saying in a statement. "Your level of interest in the boring details of my life is creepy as hell, and also pathetic," he wrote. "You owe it to yourself and the country to do something useful with your talents. Please reassess."California roots Tucker Carlson's West Coast roots burrow as deep as a giant redwood. He was born in San Francisco in May 1969 as the excesses of the Sixties peaked and the conservative backlash to the counterculture and the Civil Rights movement started to take shape. Tucker's mother, Lisa McNear Lombardi, born in San Francisco in 1945, came from one of the state's storied frontier families. Lisa's mother, Mary Nickel James, was a cattle baron heiress. Her great-great-grandfather had owned 3 million acres of ranchland, making him among the largest landowners west of the Mississippi. Her father Oliver Lombardi was an insurance broker and descendant of Italian-speaking Swiss immigrants. Lisa enrolled at UC Berkeley, where she majored in architecture. She met Richard Carlson, a San Francisco TV journalist from a considerably less prosperous background, while still in college. Lisa and Richard eloped in Reno, Nevada in 1967. The couple didn't notify Lisa's mother, who was traveling in Europe with her new husband at the time. "Family members have been unable to locate them to reveal the nuptials," a gossip item published in the San Francisco Examiner dished.Tucker arrived two years later. A second son, Buckley, was born two years after that. As Richard's career began to flourish, the family moved first to Los Angeles and then, in 1975, to La Jolla, a moneyed, beach-front enclave about 12 miles north of San Diego. When Lisa and Richard divorced a year later, in 1976, Richard got full custody of their sons, then 6 and 4. According to three of Tucker's childhood classmates, Lisa disappeared from her sons' lives. They don't recall Tucker talking about her, or seeing her at school events. Marc Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate who went on to be executive producer of the Tony Kornheiser Show, says the two didn't talk much about Tucker's relationship with his mother and he got the impression that Tucker and Richard were exceptionally close. When Sterne's own parents split up that year, he said Tucker was supportive and understanding. Lisa spent the next two decades as an artist – moving first to Los Angeles, where she befriended the painter David Hockney, and later split her time between France and South Carolina with her husband, British painter Michael Vaughan. In 1979, Richard Carlson married Patricia Swanson, heiress to the Swanson frozen foods empire that perfected the frozen Salisbury steak for hassle-free dinners. She soon legally adopted Tucker and Buckley.  When Lisa died in 2011, her estate was initially divided equally between Tucker, his brother Buckley, and Vaughan. But in 2013, Vaughan's daughter from another marriage found a one-page handwritten document in Lisa's art studio in France that left her assets to her surviving husband with an addendum that stated, "I leave my sons Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson and Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson one dollar each." A protracted battle over Lombardi's estate involving Vaughan and the Carlson brothers wound up in probate court. The Carlsons asserted the will was forged but a forensic witness determined that Lisa had written the note. The case eventually went to the California Appellate Court, which allowed the Carlson brothers to keep their shares in 2019."Lisa was basically sort of a hippie and a free spirit," said one attorney who  represented the Vaughan family and recalled having conversations about the case. "She was very liberal and she did not agree with Tucker's politics. But she stuck the will in the book, everyone forgot about it, and then she passed away."In a 2017 interview with The New Yorker, Tucker described the dissolution of his family as a "totally bizarre situation — which I never talk about, because it was actually not really part of my life at all." Several pieces of art produced by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderLisa When Lisa left her husband and two young sons, she was escaping suburban family life in favor of the more bohemian existence as an artist. One of Tucker and Buckley's former teachers said their mother's absence "left some sour grapes." "I felt they sided with the father," Rusty Rushton, a former St. George's English teacher said. After the divorce, Lisa returned to Los Angeles and tried to break into the city's thriving contemporary art scene. She befriended Mo McDermott, an LA-based British sculptor, model, and longtime assistant to David Hockney, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. A few years before he met Lisa, the scene was captured in Jack Hazan's 1974 groundbreaking documentary "A Bigger Splash," which followed Hockney and his coterie of gay male friends idly lounging around the pool in his Hollywood Hills home."When love goes wrong, there's more than two people who suffer," said McDermott, playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself, in a voiceover in the documentary.Lisa and McDermott became a couple and Lisa won admission into Hockney's entourage. Hockney lived a far more reclusive lifestyle than his pop art compatriot Andy Warhol but some four dozen or so artists, photographers, and writers regularly passed through his properties."She was more like a hippie, arty kind of person. I couldn't ever imagine her being a mother," said Joan Quinn, the then-West Coast editor of Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, who knew Lisa during those years and still owns several of her works. "She was very nervous all the time… She was ill-content."The pair were often seen at Hockney's Hollywood Hills home and at Friday night gallery openings on La Cienega Boulevard. They collaborated on playful, large-scale wood sculptures of animals, vegetables, and trees. A handful of their pieces could be seen around Hockney's hillside ranch."Hockney had me over to meet them. He wanted a gallery to handle their work," said Molly Barnes, who owns a gallery in West Hollywood and gave the pair shows in 1983 and 1984. "They were brilliant and David loved Mo. He thought they were the best artists around.""She was quiet and intellectual and somewhat withdrawn," Barnes said. "She had come from a lot of money and that reflected on her personality. She wasn't a snob in any way but she had the manners of a private school girl and someone who was fighting the establishment."A sculpture by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderNone of them recall Lisa discussing her two sons. McDermott died in 1988. After his death, Hockney discovered that McDermott had been stealing drawings from him and selling them. Hockney said the betrayal helped bring on a heart attack. "I believe I had a broken heart," Hockney told The Guardian in 1995. (Hockney did not answer multiple inquiries about Lisa or McDermott.)In 1987, Lisa met Vaughan, one of Hockney's peers in the British art scene known as the "Bradford Mafia." They married in February 1989 and for years afterward they lived in homes in the Pyrenees of southwest France and South Carolina's Sea Islands.Lisa continued to make art, primarily oversized, wooden sculptures of everyday household items like peeled lemons and dice, but she exhibited her work infrequently. She died of cancer in 2011, at which point Carlson was a decade into his media career and a regular contributor on Fox News. Richard In contrast to Lisa's privileged upbringing, Richard's childhood was full of loss. Richard's mother was a 15-year-old high school girl who had starved herself during her pregnancy, and he was born with a condition called rickets. Six weeks later, his mother left him at an orphanage in Boston called The Home for Little Wanderers. Richard's father, who was 18, tried to convince her to kidnap the infant and marry him, but she refused. He shot and killed himself two blocks from her home.A Massachusetts couple fostered Richard for two years until he was adopted by a wool broker and his wife, which he described in a 2009 reflection for the Washington Post. His adoptive parents died when he was still a teenager and Richard was sent to the Naval Academy Preparatory School. He later enlisted in the Marines and enrolled in an ROTC program at the University of Mississippi to pay for college.In 1962, Richard developed an itch for journalism while working as a cop in Ocean City, Maryland at the age of 21, and the future NBC political correspondent Catherine Mackin, helped him get a copy boy job at the Los Angeles Times. Richard moved to San Francisco three years later and his career blossomed. He started producing television news features with his friend, Lance Brisson, the son of actress Rosalind Russell. They filmed migrant farm workers in the Imperial Valley living in cardboard abodes in 110 degree weather, traipsed the Sierra Nevada mountains to visit a hermit, and covered the Zodiac Killer and Bay Area riots (during one demonstration in 1966, they sent television feeds from their car where they trapped for four hours  and a crowd roughed up Brisson, which required four stitches under his left eye). Another time, they rented a helicopter in search of a Soviet trawler but they had to jump into the Pacific Ocean when the chopper ran low on fuel near the shore and crashed.In 1969, Richard and Brisson co-wrote an article for Look Magazine that claimed San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto had mafia ties. Alioto sued the magazine's owner for libel and won a $350,000 judgment when a judge determined the article's allegations were made with "actual malice" and "reckless disregard for whether they were true or not." (Richard was not a defendant in the case and has stood by his story. Brisson declined an interview.)Richard moved back to Los Angeles to join KABC's investigative team two years later. One series of stories that delved into a three-wheeled sports car called the Dale and the fraudulent marketing practices of its founder, Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, won a Peabody award in 1975. The series also outed Carmichael as a transgender woman. (Richard's role in Carmichael's downfall was explored in the HBO documentary "The Lady and the Dale.") Soon after arriving as an anchor for KFMB-TV, San Diego's CBS affiliate, Richard ran a story revealing that tennis pro Renee Richards, who had just won a tournament at the La Jolla Tennis Club, was a transgender woman."I said, 'You can't do this. I am a private person,'" Richards, who years later would advise Caitlyn Jenner about her transition, urged the television journalist to drop his story, according to a 2015 interview. "His reply? 'Dr. Richards, you were a private person until you won that tournament yesterday.'" By the time he left the anchor chair in 1977 to take a public relations job with San Diego Savings and Loan, Richard had soured on journalism. "I have seen a lot of arrogance and hypocrisy in the press and I don't like it," he told San Diego Magazine in 1977. "Television news is insipid, sophomoric, and superficial… There are so many things I think are important and interesting but the media can be counted on to do handstands on that kind of scandal and sexual sensation."Years later, Richard said that he never tried to encourage his eldest son in politics or journalism, but that Tucker had a clear interest in both from an early age. "I never thought he was going to be a reporter or a writer. I never encouraged him to do that," Richard told CSPAN of his eldest son in 2006. "I actually attempted not to encourage him politically, either. I decided those are the things that should be left up to them."A LaJolla, California post card.Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty ImagesA La Jolla childhoodAfter the divorce, Richard and his boys stayed in La Jolla in a house overlooking the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Friends of Tucker's would later say that the trauma of their mother's absence brought the three of them closer together.  "They both really admired their dad. He was a great source of wisdom. He's one of the great raconteurs you'll ever meet. They loved that glow that came from him," said Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate. "They both looked up to him, it was clear from my eyes."In an essay included in his book "The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism," Tucker described Richard as a kind parent who imbued family outings with a deeper message.One of Tucker's earliest memories, he writes, was from just after the divorce, when Tucker was seven and Buckley was five: the brothers gripping the edge of a luggage rack on the roof of his family's 1976 Ford Country Squire station wagon, while their father gunned the engine down a dirt road."I've sometimes wondered what car surfing was meant to teach us," Tucker wrote. "Was he trying to instill in us a proper sense of fatalism, the acknowledgement that there is only so much in life you can control? Or was it a lesson about the importance of risk?... Unless you're willing to ride the roof of a speeding station wagon, in other words, you're probably not going to leave your mark on the world."More often, the boys were left unsupervised and found their own trouble. Tucker once took a supermarket shopping cart and raced it down a hill in front of their house with Buckley in its basket. The cart tipped over, leaving Buckley with a bloody nose. He also recalled building makeshift hand grenades with hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil – using a recipe from their father's copy of "The Anarchist Cookbook"  and tossing them onto a nearby golf course."No one I know had a father like mine," Tucker wrote. "My father was funnier and more outrageous, more creative  and less willing to conform, than anyone I knew or have known since. My brother and I had the best time growing up."Richard sent Tucker to La Jolla Country Day, an upscale, largely white private school with a reputation as one of the best in Southern California, for elementary and middle school. In his book, "Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution," Tucker described his first grade teacher Marianna Raymond as "a living parody of earth-mother liberalism" who "wore long Indian-print skirts," and sobbed at her desk over the world's unfairness. "As a conservative, I had contempt for the whiny mawkishness of liberals. Stop blubbering and teach us to read. That was my position," he wrote. "Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.""I beg to differ," Raymond countered in an interview, saying that she was also Tucker's tutor during the summer after first grade and was even hired again. "I'm a great teacher. I'm sure he liked me." For her part, she remembered Tucker as a fair-haired tot who was "very sweet" and "very polite." (When The Washington Post reached out her her, she said Carlson's characterization had been "shocking.")  Friends from La Jolla remember that Tucker loved swimming the mile-and-a-half distance between La Jolla Shores Park and La Jolla Cove, jumping off cliffs that jut out into the Pacific Ocean, riffing on the drums, and playing Atari and BB gun games at the mall with his friends. "He was a happy kid. We were young, so we used to go to the beach. We did normal kid stuff," said Richard Borkum, a friend who is now a San Diego-based attorney. When they weren't at the beach or the mall, Borkum and another friend, Javier Susteata, would hang out at the Carlson home listening to The Who, AC/DC, and other classic rock bands. Borkum said the adults at the Carlson household largely left them alone. "I'm Jewish and Javier was Mexican and I'm not sure they were too happy we were going to their house," Borkum said.Another friend, Warren Barrett, remembers jamming with Tucker and going snow camping at Big Bear and snorkeling off Catalina Island with him in middle school."Tucker and I literally ate lunch together every day for two years," Barrett said. "He was completely the opposite of now. He was a cool southern California surfer kid. He was the nicest guy, played drums, and had a bunch of friends. And then something must have happened in his life that turned him into this evil diabolical shithead he is today."LaJolla is a upscale beach community outside of San Diego. Carlson and his family moved their in 1975.Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesSan Diego's next mayorRichard, meanwhile, was exploring a second career in public service. By 1980, he had risen to vice president of a bank headed by Gordon Luce, a California Republican power broker and former Reagan cabinet official. The following year, Richard's public profile got a boost when he tangled with another veteran television journalist, CBS's Mike Wallace. The 60 Minutes star had interviewed Richard for a story about low-income Californians who faced foreclosures from the bank after borrowing money to buy air conditioners without realizing they put their homes up for collateral. Richard had his own film crew tape the interview, and caught Wallace saying that people who had been defrauded were "probably too busy eating their watermelon and tacos." The remark made national headlines and Wallace was forced to apologize.Pete Wilson, the U.S. Senator and former San Diego mayor, encouraged Richard to run for office. In 1984, Richard entered the race to challenge San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock's re-election. "He was a very well-regarded guy," Hedgecock told Insider. "He had an almost Walter Cronkite-like appearance, but because he was in local news he was all about not offending anybody. He didn't have particularly strong views. He was nice looking, articulate, and made good appearances, but what he had to say was not particularly memorable other than he wanted me out of office."Sometimes Tucker tagged along for campaign events. "He would always show up in a sport coat, slacks and a bowtie and I thought that's really nice clothing for someone who is a kid," Hedgecock remembers. He was a very polite young man who didn't say much."Five days before voters went to the polls, Hedgecock went on trial for 15 counts of conspiracy and perjury, an issue that Richard highlighted in his television campaign ads. Richard still lost to Hedgecock 58 to 42 percent despite pouring nearly $800,000 into the race and outspending Hedgecock two to one. (Hedgecock was found guilty of violating campaign finance laws and resigned from office in 1985 but his convictions were overturned on appeal five years later.)People are seen near a beach in La Jolla, California, on April 15, 2020.Gregory Bull/AP PhotoPrep school In the fall of 1983, a teenaged Tucker traded one idyllic beachfront community for another.At 14, Tucker moved across the country to Middletown, Rhode Island, to attend St. George's School. (Buckley would follow him two years later.) The 125-year-old boarding school sits atop a hill overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, and is on the other side of Aquidneck Island where Richard Carlson went to naval school. The private school was known as a repository for children of wealthy East Coast families who were not as academically inclined as those who attended Exeter or Andover. Its campus had dorms named after titans of industry, verdant athletic fields, and a white-sand beach.Senators Claiborne Pell and Prescott Bush graduated, as did Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and poet Ogden Nash. Tucker's class included "Modern Family" actor Julie Bowen; Dede Gardner, the two-time Oscar-winning producer of "12 Years a Slave" and "Moonlight"; and former DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. Billy Bush – "Extra" host, and cousin to George W. Bush – was three years behind him.Tuition at St. George's cost $13,000 per year in the 1980s (it's now up to $67,000 for boarding school students) and student schedules were tightly regimented with breakfast, classes, athletics, dinner, and study hall encompassing each day. Students were required to take religion classes, and attend chapel twice a week. Faculty and staff would canvass the dorms on Thursdays and Sundays to ensure no one skipped the Episcopal service. Tucker impressed his new chums as an hyper-articulate merrymaker who frequently challenged upperclassmen who enforced dorm rules and the school's liberal faculty members."He was kind of a California surfer kid. He was funny, very intelligent, and genuinely well-liked," said Bryce Traister, who was one year ahead of Tucker and is now a professor at the University of British Columbia. "There were people who didn't like Tucker because they thought he was a bullshitter but he was very charming. He was a rascal and a fast-talker, as full of shit as he is today."Back then Tucker was an iconoclast more in the mold of Ferris Bueller than preppy neocon Alex P. Keaton, even if his wardrobe resembled the "Family Ties" star. Students were required to wear jackets, ties, and khakis, although most came to class disheveled. Tucker wore well-tailored coats and chinos, pairing his outfit with a ribbon-banded watch and colorful bowtie which would later become his signature. "He was always a very sharp dresser. He had a great rack of ties. He always knew how to tie a bowtie but he didn't exclusively wear a bowtie," said Sterne, Tucker's freshman year roommate. "He always had great clothes. It was a lot of Brooks Brothers." Their crew crew held court in each others' dorm rooms at Auchincloss, the freshman hall, kicking around a Hacky Sack and playing soccer, talking about Adolph Huxley, George Orwell, and Hemingway, and dancing to Tom Petty, the Grateful Dead, and U2 on the campus lawn. Televisions weren't allowed so students listened to their Sony Walkman swapping cassette recordings of live concerts. Tucker introduced several bands to his friends."He loved classic rock and he was and still is a big fan of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead," said Sterne, who saw a Dead show with Tucker at RFK Stadium in 1986.Sometimes the clique got slices at Aquidneck Pizza and played arcade games in town, hung out in history instructor William Schenck's office, and smoked pot and Marlborough Red cigarettes on a porch in the main building's common room that faced the ocean, according to multiple sources. When the school administrators banned smoking indoors the following year so they congregated behind the dumpster behind the dining hall. Vodka (often the brand Popov) mixed with Kool-Aid was the drink of choice and students stockpiled bottles under their beds.Tucker was an enthusiastic drinker, half a dozen classmates recall. In his book, "The Long Slide," Tucker credits Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for enticing him to try drugs in 10th grade, The experience gave him "double vision and a headache." By the time he got to college, Tucker writes, "I switched to beer."By the late 1990s Tucker stopped smoking. He eventually cut alcohol too in 2002 after drinking so much while covering George W. Bush in New Hampshire during the 2000 primary that he accidentally got on the wrong plane, according to a friend.Most of Tucker's fellow students remember him best as a skilled speaker."He was always eager to take the less palatable side of the argument and argue that side," said Mahlon Stewart, who attended prep school and college with Tucker and is now a geriatric specialist at Columbia University. "Back then it was comedic. I thought it was an act.""His confidence was just amazing. He could just put out some positions and be willing to argue anything no matter how outlandish," Keller Kimbrough, a former classmate who's now a professor at the University of Colorado. "We were talking about politics and religion one time Tucker pulled this card out of his wallet and said, 'Well actually I'm an ordained minister, I'm an authority on the subject.' This was a stunt. He could literally play the religion card." "When he got the job at Fox I just thought 'Wow that's perfect for him, that's exactly what he can do.'"Their dorm room discourses were never serious. Tucker would pick a side in a debate between whether the color red or blue were better, and the crowd would erupt whenever he made a good point, friends said.  "Even at age 15 he was verbally dexterous and a great debater," Ian Toll said. "His conservative politics was fully formed even back then. He believed in strong defense and minimal government."His teachers saw a pupil who was primed for law school."Language and speaking came naturally to him. He took pleasure in it," said Rusty Rushton, Tucker's former English teacher. Tucker's politics, though, "seemed fluid to me," Rushton said. "I don't think of him as a deeply ensconced ideologue."He ditched soccer after sophomore year to act in a school theater production of Ayn Rand's courtroom thriller "Night of January 16th" (Julie Bowen starred as the prosecuting attorney. Tucker played a juror). But Tucker found his voice in competitive debate when he eventually joined the school's debate club. The team traveled to other private school campuses to compete against schools like Andover, Exeter, and Roxbury Latin in tournaments."He won some debate and basically did a victory lap afterward and got in the face of all the faculty there," one alum from a rival school who debated against Tucker said. "After defeating the student team, he started challenging the faculty, and said, 'Do any of you want to take me on? Are any of you capable of debating me?'"SusieIn the fall of Tucker's sophomore year, a new headmaster arrived at St. George's, Rev. George Andrews II. Andrews' daughter, Susie – who Tucker would eventually marry – was in Tucker's class. According to school tradition, a rotating group of underclassmen was charged with serving their classmates dinner and, one night in late September, Tucker and Susie had the shift at the same time. "They were sitting at a table at the far end of Queen Hall just leaning in, talking to each other," Sterne recalled. "You could see the sparks flying, which was cool."Susie floated between the school's friend groups easily. When she was seen mingling with Tucker, some questioned what she saw in him."People were saying, 'Come on Susie, why are you dating Tucker?' He's such a loser slacker and she was so sweet," Traister said. The pair started dating at the age of 15 and quickly became inseparable. Tucker gained notoriety on campus for repeatedly sneaking into Susie's room on the second floor of Memorial Schoolhouse, the school's stately administrative office that housed the headmaster's quarters. He had less time for his dumpster buddies now that the couple hung out on the campus lawn, attended chapel and an interdenominational campus ministry organization called FOCUS. His senior yearbook included a photo of Tucker squinting in concern to a classmate, with the caption "What do you mean you told Susie?While Susie was universally liked within the St. George's community, her father was polarizing.Andrews led the school during a turbulent period – it was later revealed – when its choirmaster Franklin Coleman was accused of abusing or having inappropriate conduct with at least 10 male students, according to an independent investigation by the law firm Foley Hoag in 2016. (Two attorneys representing several victims said 40 alumni contacted them with credible accounts of molestation and rape accusations at the hands of St. George's employees between 1974 and 2004 after a 2015 school-issued report detailed 26 accounts of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. (Coleman was never criminally charged and he has not responded to Insider's attempts to reach him.) Over his eight-year tenure as school music director, from 1980 to 1988, Coleman invited groups of boys to his apartment for private parties. Sometimes he shared alcohol and pot with some of them, gave them back and neck rubs, showed pornographic videos, traveled with them on choral trips and stayed in their hotel rooms, and appeared nude around some of them, the report found. Several of Tucker's classmates and former faculty said they had no reason to believe he would have been aware of the accusations. "There were rumors circulating wildly that Coleman was bad news. The idea was he would cultivate relationships with young men," Ian Toll, a St. George's alum, said. "Anyone who was there at that time would have likely been aware of those rumors."Andrews told Foley Hoag investigators he was not aware of any complaints about Coleman until May 1988 (by then, Tucker had finished his freshman year in college) when school psychiatrist Peter Kosseff wrote a report detailing a firsthand account of misconduct. But Andrews acknowledged to investigators the school could have been aware of "prior questionable conduct" before then, the report said. Andrews fired Coleman in May 1988 after the school confronted Coleman with allegations of misconduct and he did not deny them. According to the investigation, Andrews told students Coleman resigned due to "emotional stress" and that he had the "highest regard and respect for him." On the advice of a school attorney, Andrews did not report the music teacher to child protective services. He also knew that his faculty dean wrote Coleman a letter of recommendation for a job at another school, according to investigators. Andrews left the school a few weeks after Coleman departed. By September 1989, he was named headmaster at St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida which he led for 18 years. (Andrews declined to speak about Tucker or his tenure at either school.) St. George's, meanwhile, reached an undisclosed settlement with up to 30 abuse survivors in 2016. Coleman found work as a choir director at Tampa Preparatory School in Tampa Bay, Florida before he retired in 2008. Tucker Carlson attended St. George’s School, a boarding school starting at age 14.Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesTrinity In the fall of 1987, Tucker enrolled at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where Rev. Andrews had also attended.Nearly two-thirds of Trinity's student body back then originated from private schools and many came from wealthy backgrounds. Tuition in 1987 cost $11,700 plus an additional $3,720 for room and board—around $27,839 in today's dollars."When the Gulf War broke out" in 1990, one Trinity alum who knew Tucker recalled, "there was a big plywood sign in front of the student center that read, 'Blood for Oil,' and someone else threw a bucket of paint on it."The posh campus was situated in the middle of Hartford, Connecticut, the state's capital and one of its poorest cities. Discussions about race and inequality were sometimes at the forefront of campus politics, but many students avoided engaging in them entirely."There were issues about whether black students should only date other black students, that kind of thing," said Kathleen Werthman, a classmate of Tucker's who now works at a Florida nonprofit for people with disabilities. "My sophomore year, for new students, they had a speaker talking about racism, and one of the students said, 'I never met a black student, how are you supposed to talk to them?' And the idea that only white people can be racist was challenged too."Susie was at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. His brother remained in Rhode Island and other prep school friends had fanned out across the East Coast. Tucker moved into a four-bedroom dormitory overlooking the main quad. One suitemate, Neil Patel, was an economics major from Massachusetts who played intramural softball. (They would co-found the Daily Caller together two decades years later.) Other roommates played on the varsity soccer team and they formed a tight-knit group."I remember being struck by him. He was the same way he is now," said Rev. Billy Cerveny, a college friend of Tucker's who's now a pastor at Redbird Nashville. "He was a force of nature. He had a sense of presence and gravitas. You might get into an argument with him, but you end up loving the guy."Tucker often went out of his way to amuse his friends. Once during the spring semester, several activists set up a podium and microphone beneath his dorm window to protest the CIA's on-campus recruitment visits. The demonstration was open-mic so Tucker went up to the stage and told the crowd of about 15 people, "I think you're all a bunch of greasy chicken fuckers.""I think people laughed. He did," Cerveny said. "There was always a small collection of people any time there was an issue who tried to stir the pot in that way. Some people were dismissive and other people loved it, thinking 'Oh we're getting a fight here.'"As a sophomore, Tucker and his friends moved into a dingy three-story house on Crescent Street on the edge of the campus. He ditched his tailored jackets, khakis, and bowties for oversized Levi jeans, t-shirts, and untucked oxford shirts. Tucker commandeered a low-ceilinged room above the front porch with so many windows he had to hang up tapestries to keep out the sun. The tiny alcove had barely enough space for an eight-foot futon and several bookshelves Tucker built himself stacked with books he collected. Friends remember Tucker receiving an 8-by-10 manilla envelope that his father sent through the mail once or twice a month containing dozens of articles from newspapers and magazines.One of Tucker's friends, Cerveny, remembered stopping by Richard's home in Washington, D.C. and finding evidence of his hobbies, including the world's second largest collection of walking sticks."His house was filled with rare canes he collected from all over the world," Cerveny said. "The hallways had really amazing rows of canes hung on hooks that were specially made to mount these things on the house. One used to be a functional shotgun, another one was made out of a giraffe. His dad would pull out newspaper clippings of WWII Navy aircraft carriers. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I had never seen anything like that. Who collects canes?"During sophomore year, Tucker's friends decided to rush Delta Phi, a well-to-do fraternity also known as St. Elmo's. The Greek scene had a large presence on campus — about 20 percent of men joined them even though Trinity was a liberal arts school — and St. Elmo's had a reputation as freewheeling scamps. Once a year, a St. Elmo's brother would ride his motorcycle naked through the campus cafeteria. (Faculty voted in 1992 to abolish Greek life saying they were sexist and racist, and school administrators instead forced fraternities to become co-ed.)But Tucker refused to come aboard. Some classmates thought it was because he didn't want to be hazed."Tucker was not a joiner like that," Mahlon Stewart said. "He wouldn't have set himself up for whatever humiliation would have been involved. He would not have put up with that." But Cerveny, who pledged the fraternity, said it was a matter of faith."I remember explicitly him saying 'Look, I want to focus on what my faith is about and I thought this would be a big distraction,'" Cerveny said. "But he was very much in the mix with us. When we moved to a fraternity house [on Broad Street], we asked him to live with us."Tucker occasionally dropped in on his friends' fraternity events and occasionally brought Susie when she visited or Buckley when he drifted into town. Other times they hung out at Baker's Cafe on New Britain Avenue. Mostly Tucker stayed in his room."He was basically a hermit. It wasn't like he was going to a ton of parties" one Trinity St. Elmo's brother said. "He was not a part of the organizational effort of throwing big parties, or encouraging me to join the fraternity." Susie, who didn't drink or smoke, was a moderating influence. "Tucker and Susie had their moral compass pointing north even back then," Sterne said. "Tucker's faith was not something he was focused on in his early years but when he met Susie and he became close to her family, that started to blossom and grow in him. Now it's a huge part of his life."By the time his crew moved to another house on Broad Street, they each acquired vintage motorcycles and tinkered with them in their garage. Tucker owned a 1968 flathead Harley Davidson that barely ran and relied on a red Jeep 4X4 to transport friends around town (the Volkswagen van he had freshman year blew up). He smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes, sipped bourbon, and occasionally brewed beer in the basement, including a batch he named "Coal Porter," according to GQ.When he wasn't reading outside of his courses or tinkering with his carburetor, Tucker took classes in the humanities and ultimately majored in history. Tucker dabbled in other fields including Russian history, Jewish history, Women's Studies, and Religious Studies, sitting in the back of lecture halls with his friends. Ron Kiener, who taught an introductory level course in Judaism, recalled Tucker performing "poorly" but earning a credit. "He did not get a stellar grade from me," Kiener said. "Based on what he says now he surely didn't get very much out of my courses."But Leslie Desmangles, who led courses in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Myth, Rite, and Sacrament, said Tucker was engaged and likely did just enough to pass his courses even if he wasn't very studious or vocal in class discussions."He was interested in understanding the nature of religious belief and studying different cultures and religions but I'm not sure if he had an interest in diversity," Desmangles said. "He was genuinely interested in ritual since a lot of the Episcopal church is highly ritualistic."Tucker's fascination with religion extended to his extracurricular activities too. He and several friends joined Christian Fellowship, a Bible study group that met weekly and helped the school chaplain lead Sunday services. Some members even volunteered with ConnPIRG, a student advocacy group on hunger and environmental issues, and traveled to Washington D.C. to protest the Gulf War. But Tucker steered clear of campus activism. He spent his free time reading and seeing Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, and Sting perform when they came through Connecticut. Sometimes he skipped school to follow his favorite band, the Grateful Dead, on tour.He took an interest in Central American politics too. At the end of freshman year, Tucker and Patel traveled to Nicaragua. "We did not have a place to stay or any set plans," Tucker told the Trinity Tripod, his college paper, in March 1990. "It was very spontaneous. We are both extremely political and we felt that getting to know the country and some of its citizens would give us a better perspective on the situation." In February 1990, Tucker returned with three friends to Managua for 10 days to observe Nicaragua's elections. The National Opposition Union's Violetta Chamoro, which was backed by the U.S. government, defeated the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front Daniel Ortega who had been in power since 1979. A month later Tucker and his classmate Jennifer Barr, who was separately in Nicaragua to observe elections and distribute medical supplies to the Sandinistas, shared their perspectives about their visits to a small crowd at the Faculty Club for the school's Latin America Week. Tucker thought press coverage of the election was too left-leaning and criticized the media for skewing a conservative victory, according to Barr."I don't think it was necessarily true," Barr said. "He was dismissive [about my views]. I did get a sense that he believed in what he was saying, and it was very different from my experience and my understanding of the race."Tucker's stance on U.S. politics at the time was less didactic. As the 1992 presidential election loomed his senior year, Tucker touted the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, a Texas business magnate, to his friends although it did not appear that Tucker was an ardent supporter."Tucker would go on and on about how Ross Perot was the answer to this or that, as a joke, and every one would participate" one St. Elmo's brother said. "He liked the way Ross Perot was basically throwing a wrench into the system. He wasn't a serious Ross Perot proponent. He was cheering on somebody who was screwing up the system."In Tucker's college yearbook, below his tousle-haired, bowtie wearing thumbnail photo, was a list of his extra-curricular activities: "History; Christian Fellowship 1 2 3 4, Jesse Helms Foundation, Dan White Society." Neither of the latter two – named, respectively, after the ultra-conservative North Carolina Senator, and a San Francisco supervisor who assassinated Harvey Milk in 1978 – ever existed. Tucker admired Helms for being a "bull in the china shop" of Congress, one classmate said. Some friends believed Tucker slipped in the off-color references as a lark."It's like a joke you and a friend would put in a series of anagrams that only you and two friends would remember and no one else would," the St. Elmo's friend said. "It's so niche that only someone like Tucker is thinking things like that or would even know the name of the person who killed Harvey Milk. He paid attention to things like that."Others claimed Tucker was the victim of a prank."It would not at all surprise me if one of the other guys in the [fraternity] house filled it in for him, and not just an inside joke, but pegging him with something that he got grief for," another close friend said. Protesters rally against Fox News outside the Fox News headquarters at the News Corporation building, March 13, 2019 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesAn outsider among insidersBy the spring of 1991, Tucker's academic performance had caught up with him. He had accumulated a 1.9 grade point average and may have finished with a 2.1 GPA, according to one faculty member who viewed a copy of his transcript. Tucker would eventually graduate from Trinity a year late. Falling behind was not uncommon. About 80 percent of Trinity students completed their degrees in four years, according to Trinity College records. (A Trinity spokeswoman would not comment on Tucker's transcript due to FERPA laws, which protect student privacy.Tucker's post-collegiate plans fell through too. Tucker applied to the CIA that spring. The spy agency passed."He mentioned that he had applied and they rejected him because of his drug use," another college friend said, while declining to be named. "He was too honest on his application. I also probably should say I don't know whether he was telling the truth or not." Once the school year was over, Tucker and Neil Patel hit the road on a cross-country motorcycle ride. After that: Washington DC.  Tucker's family left Southern California for Georgetown after President Reagan named his father head of Voice of America. In June 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Richard ambassador to the Seychelles and the Carlson family upgraded to a nicer house in Georgetown with a pool in the basement. That summer, with Tucker's father and stepmother often out of town, the Carlson household was the center of Tucker's social lives, the place they retired to after a night drinking at Georgetown college dive bars like Charing Cross and Third Edition, and pubs like Martin's Tavern and The Tombs, immortalized in St. Elmo's Fire. In August, Tucker and Susie got married in St. George's chapel and held a reception at the Clambake Club of Newport, overlooking the Narragansett Bay. Back in Washington, Tucker's prep school, college, and his father's Washington-based networks began to mesh. Tucker took a $14,000-a-year job as an assistant editor and fact checker of Policy Review, a quarterly journal published at the time by the Heritage Foundation, the nation's leading conservative think tank. For the next three decades, Tucker thrived in the Beltway: He joined The Weekly Standard and wrote for several magazines before appearing on cable news networks as a right-of-center analyst and host at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. His father embarked on a third career as a television executive where he ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and his brother became a political operative and a pollster. By the time Tucker reached the core of the conservative media sphere, a slot on Fox News's primetime opinion lineup, he shed friends from his youth who couldn't grapple with the hard-right turn he veered once he became the face of the network.One friend was not surprised with Tucker's act. In the spring of 2016, during the heat of Donald Trump's presidential campaign against Hilary Clinton and a few months before "Tucker Carlson Tonight" premiered on Fox, Tucker had lunch with his old prep school classmate Richard Wayner who made the speech about Eleanor Bumpurs all those years ago. Wayner believed Tucker's gesture from his pew was never serious. "As a 9th or 10th grader in a chapel full of people in a conversation, he was trying to get attention," Wayner said.The two stayed in touch over the years and Tucker at one point suggested he write a handful of pieces for the Daily Caller, the conservative news and opinion site that Tucker co-founded and ran in the 2010s. As they settled into their table at a Midtown Manhattan steakhouse, the two chatted about Wayner's experience on the board of St. George's (which Susie was about to join) and their respective careers. Tucker was floating around at Fox, and Wayner, now an investor and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, said the conversation drifted toward salaries."He was asking, 'How much do you make on Wall Street' and was like, 'Wow, Wall Street guys make a lot.'" Wayner said. When they left the restaurant and headed back toward the Fox News headquarters, several people recognized Tucker on the street even though he had jettisoned his trademark bowtie years ago. Wayner saw Tucker making the pragmatic decision to follow a business model that has made his conservative media counterparts a lot of money."I don't think he has a mission. I don't think he has a plan," Wayner said. "Where he is right now is about as great as whatever he thought he could be.""Tucker knows better. He does. He can get some attention, money, or both." he added. "To me, that's a shame. Because he knows better." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

The 64 best Mother"s Day gifts to get mom that aren"t just flowers

If you're looking for a thoughtful Mother's Day gift for Mom, we put together a list for all budgets and interests. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.If you're looking for a thoughtful Mother's Day gift for Mom, we put together a list for all budgets and interests.Senreve; Homesick; The Sill; Artifact Uprising; Amazon; Nordstrom; Uncommon Goods; Alyssa Powell/InsiderAlthough mothers may be challenging to shop for (especially the ones who humbly state "you don't have to get me anything"), we can safely say yours will love any of the gifts in this guide.This list can help spark some better ideas than a coupon book for hugs and make it easier on you to show you care on her birthday, Mother's Day, or just because. Whether she's into the latest and greatest tech, loves to read, or wants to update her work-from-home wardrobe with comfortable loungewear, there's a perfect gift for Mom below.You can see all our gifts below, or use these links to jump to products that suit your mother's particular gift needs.Here are 64 of the best gifts for Mom:Style giftsFood and kitchen giftsTech giftsHome giftsBeauty giftsHobby-related giftsThis list includes Sponsored Products that have been suggested by Nisolo. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*Style giftsA proud sweatshirt for the southern momOutdoor VoicesY'all Graphic Sweatshirt, available at Outdoor Voices, $88Any Southern mom will adore this loud-and-proud declaration of their heritage. She'll be as comfy as she is cheery in this yellow "y'all" soft cotton terry sweatshirt.Pearl hoop earringsMejuriMejuri Pearl Hoops, available at Mejuri, $78Get your mom a beautiful pair of earrings or a necklace with her zodiac sign that she can wear every day. Mejuri is a favorite jewelry startup of ours, so your Mom will likely enjoy this Canadian company's delicate jewelry, too. You can also browse more jewelry gifts for mom here.Read our full review of Mejuri here.A comfortable, ethical sandalNisoloGo-To Flatform Sandal, available at Nisolo, $130Nisolo is known for its ethically and sustainably made footwear. The aptly named Go-To Flatform Sandal is a basic summer staple that can be dressed up or dressed down — a practical wardrobe necessity. *Sponsored by Nisolo.A roomy work bag with tons of pocketsDagne DoverDagne Dover Allyn Tote, available at Dagne Dover, from $219Dagne Dover's Allyn Tote is a sophisticated and spacious work bag with a padded laptop sleeve, water bottle holder, and other thoughtful interior pockets that will keep Mom organized and always ready to go. A pair of sunglasses to block the sun in styleGlassesUSACheck out GlassesUSA's selection of sunglasses, starting at $19Sunglasses are spring and summer essentials and a perfect gift for Mom. GlassesUSA carries a wide variety of popular brands, including Ray-Ban, Oakley, Muse, Prada, and more. If you want a pair for yourself too, you can buy one and get one free with the code BOGOFREE at checkout.Read our full review of GlassesUSA here.A beautiful scarf with her birth-month flowerUncommon GoodsBirth Month Flower Scarf, available at Uncommon Goods, $48Give her something beautiful to wear that will remind her how thoughtful you are every time she wraps it. This scarf is patterned with the flower of her birth month, a nice touch of under-the-radar personalization.A gold square watch to keep track of timeNordstromMVMT Signature Square Bracelet Watch, available at Nordstrom, $128For the mom who's always running late, this elegant square watch bears a minimalist and luxurious design that elevates any look. The gold watch is so impossible to miss that she'll now be on time for every occasion with it as a reminder.Luxe slippers with a cozy cashmere blendMargauxSlippers, available at Margaux, $158Made from a soft wool-cashmere blend and cushiony foam padding, Margaux slippers feel like stepping into a cloud. Mom will enjoy wearing any of the three styles — Slide, Ballet, or Cozy — around the house.A recycled fleece to stay warmGirlfriend CollectiveTeddy Recycled Half-Zip Fleece, available at Girlfriend Collective, $89.60Moms love effortless comfort and this super soft fleece delivers just that for her. Not only will she enjoy the warmth, but she'll feel good knowing she's helping the environment with this recycled pullover.A chic purse that can turn into a backpackSenreveAlunna, available at Senreve, starting at $645A purse is an obvious gift for Mom if she has an eye for handbags, but you can mix things up by giving her one that's both a purse and a backpack. The Alunna by Senreve is versatile and stylish, and it can be worn on her back, hand, over the shoulder, or across the body. Plus, it can organize all of Mom's essentials with its two interior pockets and exterior cardholder.Popular leggings with a no-slip fitVuoriDaily Legging, available at Vuori, $84Vuori is well-known for its super-soft fabrics and flattering cuts, and the Daily Leggings are just another example. This style looks like a pair of joggers but fits like a pair of leggings. The high waistband and drawstring allow for a snug feel while the brand's smoothing technology gives an airbrushed appearance.Read more about the Daily Legging here.A pair of cozy, eco-friendly slip-on shoesAllbirdsWomen's Wool Lounger Fluffs, available at Allbirds, $115Keep mom looking cool and feeling comfy every time she leaves the house with these slip-on sneakers. Made with cozy soft merino wool inside and out, these shearling shoes are ideal for cool fall days running errands or meeting up with friends for lunch. The best part: The entire shoe is machine washable.A pendant necklaceSet & StonesSet & Stones Cheyenne Mama Necklace, available at Nordstrom, $198Your mom will want to keep this pendant necklace very close to her heart. It'll sit lightly around her neck and be a subtle reminder of her special bond with you. If this is quite her style, you can browse more jewelry gifts for mom here.The gift of comfortable loungewearTommy JohnShop all women's loungewear and sleepwear, available at Tommy JohnTommy John E-Gift Card, available at Tommy John, starting at $25The Insider Reviews team is positively smitten with Tommy John's loungewear and underwear — so much so, we named the latter one of the best women's underwear brands in our buying guide, so you can be sure Mom will love it too.A leather wallet that can be monogrammed with Mom's initialsLeatherologyKlyde Continental Wallet, available at Leatherology (+ $10 for monogram), $60A sophisticated leather wallet instantly elevates a busy mother's everyday style and keeps her organized when she's constantly moving from place to place. You can get this leather wallet from Leatherology in 11 colors and three different personalization options. A personalized T-shirtKnown SupplyKnown Supply Personalized Women's Fitted Crew, available at Known Supply, $32You can personalize this comfortable Pima cotton tee with "mom" or "mama" — or any other name that's under nine characters — in cute, loopy cursive. A luxurious bathrobeParachuteParachute Classic Bathrobe, available at Parachute, $109A plush bathrobe will make every shower feel like a trip to the spa. Parachute's soft Turkish cotton robe comes in four great colors: white, mineral, blush, and stone. This cozy gift for Mom will become her go-to pick. Read our full review of the Parachute Classic Bathrobe here.A crossbody bag with a hand-painted monogramClare V.Clare V. Midi Sac, avaliable at Claire V., starting at $335 (+ $50 for hand-painted monogram)This leather crossbody bag comes in tons of colors and is great for travel and daytime outings — for an extra $50, you can customize it with a gold foil or hand-painted monogram. A passport cover and luggage tagLeatherologyDeluxe Passport Cover + Luggage Tag Set, available at Leatherology, starting at $65 + monogram $20Mom might be planning her next trip out of town, and what better travel accessory to have than a personalized passport cover and luggage tag? She'll be less likely to lose her passport or suitcase thanks to these colorful accessories that also sport her initials. Food and kitchen giftsA delicious treat from Milk BarMilk Bar/Alyssa Powell/InsiderCheck out all the goodies in Milk Bar's Gift Shop starting at $39Milk bar cakes topped our list of the All-Time Best things we've tested and these treats will definitely satisfy Mom's sweet tooth. Choose from a limited-edition Strawberry Shortcake Cake, the bestselling B'Day Truffles, and plenty more. We break down how to shop for Milk Bar online, here. Read our full review of Milk Bar.A cocktail maker that mixes drinks in secondsBartesianBartesian Premium Cocktail and Margarita Machine, available at Amazon, $369.85Summer's almost here, which, for some moms, means it's time to break out refreshing cocktails. This cocktail maker will make Mom's life a whole lot easier, since all she has to do is pop in a cocktail capsule, choose her preferred strength, and press mix. She'll be sipping a margarita, cosmopolitan, or gin martini in seconds.Read our full review of the Bartesian Premium Cocktail and Margarita Machine here.  A wooden gift crate with 2 pounds of cheese insideMurray's CheeseMurray's Cheese Greatest Hits Gift Box, available at Murray's Cheese, $95Cheese lovers will find a lot to like in this wooden gift crate (yes, crate) from Murray's Cheese, which includes two mouthwatering pounds of English cheddar, brie, cave-aged Gruyere, and one-year-aged Manchego along with snacks to pair with each cheese: spiced cherry preserves, sea salt crackers, and Marcona almonds.For more of the best from Murray's Cheese, check out our guide to the best cheeses you can buy online.Read our review of Murray's Cheese gift boxes.A gift subscription to a popular coffee clubAtlas Coffee ClubAtlas Coffee Club 3-Month Gift Subscription, available at Atlas Coffee Club, $55If her veins run dark roast, a coffee gift won't go unused. We recommend a gift subscription to the Atlas Coffee Club, which curates a global selection of single-origin coffee that gets freshly roasted and shipped to your house starting at $9 per bag. Read our full review of the Atlas Coffee Club Subscription here.A cookbook focused entirely on vegetablesMilk StreetMilk Street Vegetables Cookbook, available at Amazon, $26.35If your mom is a vegetarian (or just trying to do more Meatless Mondays), this cookbook takes inspiration from the many ways in which vegetables are celebrated by different cultures around the world.A Le Creuset dutch ovenAmazonLe Creuset Round Dutch Oven, available at Williams-Sonoma, starting at $250At $160, this Le Creuset dutch oven might be the most expensive piece of cookware in Mom's kitchen, but it'll also be the most used. It comes in tons of colors, so you can choose Mom's favorite. We've even ranked it as the best overall in our guide to the best dutch ovens. It's one of the best products we've ever tested.Read our full review of the Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven here.A cutting board in the shape of the state Mom calls homeAmazonTotally Bamboo State Cutting & Serving Board, available at Amazon, $29.99Available for all 50 states as well British Columbia, Puerto Rico, Long Island, and Ontario, this uniquely shaped cutting and serving board doubles as kitchen decor. An indoor herb garden that requires zero effortClick & GrowClick & Grow Smart Garden 3 Indoor Gardening Kit, available at Click & Grow, $139.95Every chef knows that cooking with fresh ingredients like basil can make a big difference. The Click & Grow Smart Garden is a self-watering system that allows even the most amateur gardeners to quickly and effortlessly grow herbs and vegetables. We tried it and were impressed with how well it worked, as well as the truly effortless process. Read our full review of the Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 Indoor Gardening Kit here.A tasty baking cookbookAmazon"Dessert Person" by Claire Saffitz, available at Amazon, $21.11For the mom who adores baking, this dessert cookbook has plenty of baking recipes to satisfy the family's sweet tooth. It offers recipes and guidance on how to bake sweet and savory treats whether it's a caramelized honey pumpkin pie or English muffins.  If she already has it, here are some of the best baking books recommended by professional bakers.A retro-inspired electric kettleNordstromSMEG 50's Retro Style 7-Cup Electric Kettle, available at Williams-Sonoma, starting at $189.95With this retro-inspired electric kettle in her kitchen, she'll spend much less time making tea and more time enjoying a cup. It comes in 10 fun colors, like pastel green and bright red. You can learn more about this kettle in our guide to the best electric kettles. A water bottle that solves all pain pointsHydro Flask/Alyssa Powell/InsiderHydro Flask Wide Mouth Watter Bottle (32 oz), available at REI, $44.95Hydro Flask water bottles are one of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested and have a cult following for a number of reasons: The double-walled vacuum seal keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for hours on end, many products come with a lifetime warranty, and the bright colors add a bit of fun to something that's otherwise thought of as ordinary. You can hear more about why we love this water bottle in our guide to the best travel mugs. A delicious wine-mimic for healthy nights offJukes CordialitiesJukes 6, available at Jukes Cordialities, $48.50 for 9If mom loves vino, she'll love this tasty non-alcoholic substitute for nights where she's craving a glass but wants to stay sober. Created by a British wine critic, Jukes Cordialities are thoughtful and complex — the closest to the real stuff we've tried.We personally love the full red mimic, Jukes 6, which is deep and spicy like a glass of Rioja, and pairs well with food in the same way wine does — all without the buzz and with the added health benefits of organic apple cider vinegar (the base).Tech giftsA voice-assisted remote for all Mom's streaming needsAmazonFire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, available at Amazon, $39.99She can access hundreds of streaming services, including Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, and more, with this affordable entertainment hub. Plus, Amazon Prime members get unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV episodes with Amazon Prime Video. This model supports up to 4K Ultra HD. You can read more in our guide to the best streaming devices.The Amazon EchoAmazonAmazon Echo (4th Generation), available at Amazon, $99.99There's an ever-so-slight learning curve in figuring out what Amazon's Alexa can and can't do, but once that's passed, the Echo can forecast the weather, read an audiobook, order a pizza, tell jokes, or any number of things Mom should find charming. Read our full review of the Amazon Echo (4th Generation) here.A step tracker to keep her movingFitbitFitbit Charge 5, available at Best Buy, $149.95If your mom's looking to stay on top of their health, we highly recommend gifting a very practical Fitbit. The Charge is one of our top picks for covering all the basics — counting steps, tracking sleep, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, tracking 20 different exercises — without breaking the bank, and all with an easy-to-read display and sleek design on the wrist.(If she'd want smartphone notifications on her wrist, too, we recommend the Versa 2, which has a bigger display but is still reasonably priced.)Alexa-enabled glassesAmazonEcho Frames Smart Glasses, available at Amazon, $154.99If your mom loves tech, they'll think these smart glasses are from the future. Amazon's Echo Frames allow for open-ear audio, hands-free calling, and access to thousands of Alexa's skills.Read our full review of the Amazon Echo Frames.A cuter way to send mom "love you" messagesUncommon GoodsLovebox Spinning Heart Messenger, available at Uncommon Goods, from $100Moms love nothing more than being randomly told their kids love them, and this creative box lets you do it in a way more special than just a text. When you send a message, the heart on the box will spin and she can open it up to read the digital display of your loving words.A digital picture frame for remembering the good timesAuraCarver Digital Picture Frame, available at Aura, $159It's hard to find a mom who isn't obsessed with taking photos and displaying them all around the house. But instead of buying tons of picture frames, she can show off all her family photos using this digital picture frame. You can upload an unlimited amount of pictures to the Aura app, connect the frame to Wi-Fi, and she's all set. Read our full review of Aura here.A waterproof Kindle PaperwhiteAmazonAmazon Kindle Paperwhite, available at Amazon, $109.99If your mom's tired of lugging around heavy hardcovers, the Kindle Paperwhite is an extremely thoughtful and practical gift. The latest version is waterproof, too, which is a huge bonus.Read our full review of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite here.A rejuvenating, at-home foot massagerRENPHORENPHO Foot Massager Machine, available at Amazon, $129.99Treat her to a spa day any (and every) day she wants with this at-home foot massager. It's a full-service Shiatsu device that offers kneading, compression, and heat therapy. We love that it encompasses your ankles too for extra relief, all of which is why it's our top pick.An alarm clock that uses light to wake her up gentlyAmazonPhilips Light Alarm Clock, available at Amazon, $149Just because Mom has to wake up before the sun rises doesn't mean they have to awaken to the blaring of an obnoxious alarm clock.Philips makes a lovely alarm clock that gradually lights up to mimic the sunrise. The light alarm clock also displays the time and has customizable sounds, so Mom can wake up feeling rested and ready for the day. You can find out why we recommend this alarm clock in our guide to the best sunrise alarm clocks. Read our full review of the Philips Wake-Up Light.A mini massage gunTherabodyTheragun Mini, available at Therabody and Amazon, from $147If she's achy from regular exercise or a pulled muscle, every type of person will see benefit from using a massage gun. We love the Theragun Mini because it'll work out kinks and aches anywhere you place it with a powerful motor and easy-to-hold grip.Home giftsA fresh flower bouquetUrban StemsUrbanStems bouquets, available at UrbanStems, from $45We've ordered bouquets from UrbanStems and it offers gorgeous flower arrangements, potted plants, and even dried bouquets, and they're delivered quickly, too. A bouquet of flowers is a classic gift for Mom that she'll love on any given day. Its bouquets are one of the best things we've ever tested. Read our full review of UrbanStems.A candle for your favorite spot togetherHomesick, Rachael Schultz/InsiderHomesick Memory Candles, starting at $27.20Whether your best memories are childhood ski trips, your annual beach vacation, or just baking in the kitchen together, share the sentiment with mom. Homesick makes a deliciously-scented candle for nearly every memory — and if that doesn't work, it also has a candle for every state and city, astrology sign, and even one that simply says, "Thank you, Mom."Soft, crisp sheets and beddingBrooklinenBrooklinen Queen Classic Hardcore Sheet Bundle, available at Brooklinen, starting at $231Brooklinen Queen Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle, available at Brooklinen, starting at $273Brooklinen's luxe sheets are the ones we always recommend to friends, family, and readers, for their affordable price, sophisticated look, and comfort.The Hardcore Sheet Bundles have everything she needs to completely makeover your mom's bed — and stay nice and cozy all year long. Each bundle includes a flat sheet, fitted sheet, duvet cover, and four pillowcases. Brooklinen also sells comforters, pillows, candles, and blankets. This is another item that features in our list of the All-Time Best products we've tested.Read our full review of Brooklinen sheets here.A custom map posterGrafomap InstagramGrafomap Custom Map Poster, available at Grafomap, starting at $49Grafomap is a website that lets you design map posters of any place in the world. You can make one of your mom's hometown, college town, favorite travel destination, or the place she got engaged or married — you're only limited by your imagination.Read our full review of the Grafomap Custom Map Poster here.A hardcover photo book for any mother figureArtifact UprisingHardcover Photo Book, available at Artifact Uprising, starting at $72Honor any mother figure with a custom hardcover photo album that commemorates their best life moments. You can tie in her life story with a display-worthy dust jacket that puts her front and center. Choose from 11 fabric binding colors to complement her bookshelf or coffee table.A cute potted plant instead of flowersThe SillShop The Sill's selection of plants starting at $18The Sill is a relatively new startup that's making the process of choosing and buying house plants much easier. This gift set is just one of many options you can choose from — you can even shop based on which plants are pet-safe. Read our full review of The Sill here.A weighted blanket to help her sleep betterBearabyBearaby 15-pound Cotton Napper, available at Bearaby, $249Made of soft organic cotton just like her favorite T-shirt, this weighted blanket can help Mom fall asleep faster and its buttery softness is perfect for wrapping up in. We ranked it as the best weighted throw blanket in our guide to the best weighted blankets. A jewelry holderCatbirdCatbird Swan Ring Holder, available at Catbird, $32This ornate swan is a subtle jewelry holder that'll dress up any bathroom countertop or nightstand.A personalized photo calendar for her deskArtifact UprisingWalnut Desktop Photo Calendar, available at Artifact Uprising, starting at $35A desk calendar can add a decorative touch to her desk, but one that displays photos of family makes for an even better gift for Mom. She'll love glancing at her calendar and being reminded of her favorite memories with you.A coffee table book for the mom who loves photographyAmazon"Women: The National Geographic Image Collection," available at Amazon, $26.49You can't go wrong with a coffee table book gift for Mom, and this one is a true standout. The photography is sure to be top-notch, since National Geographic created this book. Moms often serve as constant sources of inspiration, so why not pass along this book of powerful women?A fancy candle setOtherland/Alyssa Powell/InsiderOtherland Candles The Threesome, available at Otherland, $89Candles make any home smell great, and this fancy candle set from Otherland will look gorgeous in any room in her house. It includes three coconut and soy wax blend candles in beautiful glass vessels. Each candle burns for 55 hours — that's a lot of time that your mom can spend enjoying this gift. We named candles by Otherland one of the All-Time Best products we've tested.Read our full review of Otherland candles here.Beauty giftsA face mask set for at-home spa daysfreshMini Loves Mini Masks Set, available at Walmart, $44.74Moms need time to themselves, too, and these face mask minis will have her and her skin feeling rejuvenated. She can kick back and relax with one of the black tea masks, the clay mask, the rose mask, or even the sugar exfoliator.A two-in-one hair dryer brush for easy at-home blowoutsAmazonRevlon 1 Step 2-in-1 Hair Dryer Volumizer Styling Brush, available at Amazon, $69.99If your mom has been eyeing the $600 Dyson Airwrap, this is a more affordable alternative that produces similarly easy blowouts at home. It's our favorite blow dryer brush if you're on a budget.A luxurious facial treatment deviceZIIPZIIP GX Series, available at ZIIP Beauty, $495Switch up her facial appointments with the ZIIP experience that beautifully improves your skin beyond your imagination with every use. The ZIIP devices employ energy from tiny electrical currents with a conductive gel to sculpt and tighten the skin for a radiant glow. The weighted sleep mask that's the ticket to instant sleepAnthropologieNodpod Weighted Eye Mask, available at Anthropologie, $34Move over, weighted blankets. These eye masks have gentle weights with just the right amount of pressure to lull her to sleep. The four equally weighted pods let her rest easy no matter her sleep position. A floral fragrance with a pear and white freesia scentJo MaloneEnglish Pear & Freesia Cologne, available at Jo Malone, $145If she prefers a light yet luscious fragrance, this Jo Malone perfume makes for a lovely layer. This floral perfume accentuates her style with a smell of autumn from the freshness of the pear and freesias along with the subtle woodsy scents.Hobby-related giftsA 'book of the month' membershipBook of the MonthBook of the Month Membership, available at Book of the Month, from $49.99 for 3 monthsIf she loves to read and isn't ready to go 100% digital, a Book of the Month membership is the perfect gift. This gift subscription gets Mom her pick of the best new books for $12.50-$15 a month, depending on the length of subscription you choose to give. She can also request extra books if she reads more than one book a month. You can learn more about Book of the Month here.A yoga mat for the fitness enthusiastMandukaProLite Yoga Mat, available at Manduka, $99For the mom who starts every morning with yoga, this mat has just the right amount of padding, is made of eco-friendly materials, and has a no-slip grip texture. It has even earned the title of best yoga mat overall in our guide to the best yoga mats.A year-long MasterClass membership to learn new thingsMasterClassAnnual Membership, available at MasterClass, $180/yearMasterClass, unlike many competitors, follows a format that feels like a one-sided conversation with your favorite icons rather than a traditional academic setting. You can get into the supplementary reading materials or just listen to their insight while running errands. An Unlimited Membership grants access to all the site's online courses for the year.Some popular courses include Neil deGrasse Tyson on Scientific Thinking and Communication, Malcolm Gladwell on Writing, Shonda Rhimes on Writing for Television, and Bob Iger on Business Strategy and Leadership.Read our full review of MasterClass here.A jigsaw puzzle featuring a family photoZazzleMemorable Family's Jigsaw Puzzle, available at Zazzle, starting at $29.95If your mom loves puzzles (and has finished practically all of them), this custom one featuring a cherished family photo will earn a spot on the wall when it's done.A daily planner for the busy momAmazonPanda Planner Daily Planner 2021, available at Amazon. $23.97 Even the most organized mom could use the help of a trusty planner. This one from Panda Planner has monthly, weekly, and daily sections for all of her needs. She'll have her schedule, tasks, goals, and projects all in one place. We like the layout of this planner so much that we include it in our guide to the best planners.A DNA test kit23andme23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA Test, available at 23andMe, $199This genetic test kit from 23andMe is a unique and cool gift idea for any mom who's interested in learning more about her family history.A personalized video message from her favorite celebrityCameoPersonalized video message, available at Cameo, starting at $1When trying to think of a unique gift for Mom, one that might not immediately come to mind is Cameo. The online service has tons of famous people she might want a personalized video message from, like her favorite actor from "The Office." Whether it's for her birthday, Mother's Day, or a different milestone, there's something for everyone on Cameo, with all types of categories and price points to choose from.Read more about Cameo and how to use Cameo. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 20th, 2022

Rolex unveils 6 new watches for 2022, including a blacked-out Yacht-Master and a surprise left-handed GMT Master II

The Swiss watchmaker released several unexpected variants of their legacy lines featuring new colors, materials, and movements. Take a look. Rolex Rolex unveiled six new watches during the annual Watches and Wonders conference in Geneva. The Swiss brand introduced new colors, materials, and movements for five of its mainstay lines. Arguably most surprising was a green and black GMT-Master II with a left-handed winding crown.  First up, the Air-King, Rolex's classic offering for aviators since 1958.RolexNotably, the dial now features a zero in front of the five for a more balanced look, and a new Calibre 3230 movement.Rolex"Unlike the predecessor, this model is now made with crown guards, giving it a much sportier look like the GMT and Sub," said Paul Altieri, CEO of Bob's Watches.RolexSource: Bob's WatchesNext, the Day-Date 40 in platinum with its classic President bracelet, and, for the first time, the Rolex fluted bezel.RolexThe new ice-blue dial lets the world know what this watch is made of.RolexThe waterproof case is machined from a solid block of 950 platinum and closed using a tool that is exclusive to Rolex watchmakers.RolexContinuing with the colorful dials, the new Datejust 31 features 24 flowers centered by a diamond at the center of each.RolexThree versions will be available: azzurro blue and white gold; olive green and yellow gold; and Everose gold and silver.RolexThe new Datejust 31 carries the Calibre 2236 movement, as it has since 2018.RolexRolex says this year's Yacht-Master 40 is "inspired by the aurora borealis and the glow of dawn."RolexThe rotatable bezel features trapeze-cut stones — pink sapphire, light blue sapphire, diamond, purple sapphire, and dark blue sapphire — in a sequence repeated eight times.RolexA triangular diamond marks 12 o'clock, and the case is embedded with 46 brilliant-cut diamonds.RolexTraditionally offered in white gold, the Yacht-Master 42 is now available in 18 carat yellow gold.RolexThe yellow gold contrasts luxuriously against the black dial, and the markings have a new luminescent material that will glow brighter than ever.RolexThe bi-directional bezel in matte black ceramic features raised graduations and numerals, and the Oysterflex bracelet finishes the blacked-out look.RolexLast, but not least, the novel GMT-Master II is sure to cause more than a few double-takes.Rolex"A GMT-Master II for lefties? No one saw this coming," Altieri said.RolexRolex says moving the stem and date window to the other side of the watch actually required a considerable amount of engineering in order to maintain its official Superlative Chronometer certification.Rolex"No doubt this will be a tough piece to acquire," Altieri said. "It might encourage double wristers — I want one!"RolexRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 31st, 2022

Transcript: Samara Cohen

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Samara Cohen, BlackRock CIO for ETF and Index Investments, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ RITHOLTZ:… Read More The post Transcript: Samara Cohen appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Samara Cohen, BlackRock CIO for ETF and Index Investments, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast, I have yet another special guest — extra special guest. Samara Cohen is the Chief Investment Officer at BlackRock where she manages ETFs and index investing. BlackRock is $10 trillion. Their ETF business is over $3 trillion. Their index business is also over $3 trillion. Samara is consistently on everybody’s list of most influential women in finance, but that’s not why you want to listen to this. You want to listen to this because there really are very few people in the world more knowledgeable about managing ETFs, managing indexes, what passive really means, how people should be thinking about the actual engineering of products if you want to have broad market exposure or specific types of beta. Really, I’m going to stop talking and just say with no further ado, my conversation with Samara Cohen. ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Samara Cohen. She is BlackRock’s Chief Investment Officer for ETFs and index investments. BlackRock manages up about $10 trillion. The ETF business is about $3.27 trillion. Samara Cohen, welcome to Bloomberg. COHEN: Thank you so much, Barry. I’m happy to be here. RITHOLTZ: I’m happy to have you here. I have so many questions to ask you, but I have to start out with your education, which we usually skim over. So, you graduated UPenn with a B.S. in Economics and — and Finance at — at Wharton, but you also had a B.A. in Theatre Arts. How has theater training helped in your financial career? COHEN: First, Barry, when you hear theater, a lot of people might think that — that I was an actor, so I feel like I need to start with the fact that I was decidedly a backstage kid. My love of theater was very much on the production, design, directing, you know, behind-the-scene side, and that has definitely helped me across the course of my career. But I have to tell you, I came to the University of Pennsylvania to be a theater major, and I left with a dual degree in Finance and Theater. So, finance was something I discovered because I knew I was good at math, in fact, when I started college I didn’t really need to take any math classes because I had all of this credit. And I missed it, and so I discovered markets and economics, and it felt like math with a purpose, so — and I got to combine the financial degree with the theatre degree, which made my parents much more comfortable with the fact that I was spending all of my summers working for regional theater companies basically, but it was a big part of learning who I am. And — and today in my role, I often remember being told that casting is 95 percent of directing, and putting the right person in the right seat is a lot about leading any business, so it definitely has played a part throughout. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. So, you — you end up interning at Goldman Sachs on the trading floor pretty early in your career. Tell us what that was like and — and how theatrical was that. COHEN: Well, actually I came to Goldman out of business school. I — well, my first job was actually at BlackRock. That’s where I came out of college. I was at BlackRock for four years, went to business school. And part of why I went back to school after BlackRock was in my head I thought, “Maybe I could further combine this love of finance and love of theater. And how might I do that?” And I loved the idea of going back to school. I’m kind of a voracious learner, and I’d work hard and I liked the idea of meeting other people and seeing what was out there after four years of — of working. And in that summer and actually in the process of figuring out where I wanted to work for the summer, I visited the trading floor. And I walked onto the trading floor, and I thought this is it. It’s a lot like theater. It’s a lot like that like multi-tasking, high-energy collaborative environment where lots of things are happening at the same time. And I thrive in that. And so, actually, the theater — the — the trading floor I found pretty theatrical, and that really worked for me. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, there’s a — there’s a buzz, there’s an electricity on a big trading floor, which I think is one of the things that’s lost from old Wall Street. You can replace it with more efficient algorithms and technology. But man, when you walk onto a big floor, you just feel there’s nothing like that. And ever … COHEN: Right. RITHOLTZ: … have a desire to become a trader? Was that — did that ever appeal to you? COHEN: Until I walked onto the trading floor, the idea really scared me. And you know what? I — actually, I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody this. I did not proactively send my résumé to the Securities Division. They reached out to me as part of a diversity hiring effort to get more women onto the trading floor. And the reason I didn’t send my résumé was it sounded really intimidating to me. And so, I think that’s just an important thing to — to note is that sometimes if something’s interesting, even if it’s intimidating, it’s worth checking out because I knew. And yes, there weren’t a lot of women on the floor when I walked out there, but it was really clear to me that I would, you know, once I got my bearing and learned to speak the language, it can be an intimidating place at first, but — but I knew it would be a great fit for me. RITHOLTZ: So, let me make sure I understand the chronology of your career. So, you intern at BlackRock, then you work at Goldman for like 16 years, something like, then you boomerang back to BlackRock. Did I — did I get that right? COHEN: Yeah, pretty much. I went to BlackRock out of college, and then business school from BlackRock, and then Goldman from business school, and then back to BlackRock. RITHOLTZ: That’s really, really interesting. I — I heard the phrase BlackRock boomerang. Is this a thing to people like work at BlackRock, leave, and then, you know, magnetically get drawn back? What’s that about? COHEN: In my case, it was definitely a thing. I don’t know the — like with the total stats are, but it’s definitely true for other people. I mean, people’s careers are marathons and — and not sprints. And — and, you know, part of my marathon — an important part of my marathon actually was that 16 years at Goldman. I think had it not been for that, I wouldn’t have the seat I currently occupy at BlackRock, so I’m pretty grateful for it. But also, I think my — my history with BlackRock and my passion for the firm and its purpose did draw me back as well. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about that seat you have at BlackRock. You recently were promoted to Chief Investment Officer of ETFs and index investments. That sounds like a pretty serious job, especially when we consider at BlackRock, you know, that’s well over $3 trillion in assets. Tell us a little bit about your new job responsibilities. COHEN: I’m really excited about the new job. And — and even more than — than me being in the job, I’m excited about the fact that we have a Chief Investment Officer role for ETFs and index. And it actually is broader than the ETF book. It’s our whole indexing book. And in the — and — and what it means in short is that I’m accountable for — for investment performance in our ETFs and index book, which I love telling people because sometimes they look at me and they say, “Well, I don’t really understand that. Isn’t investment performance the outperformance of a benchmark? And aren’t you, Samara, ETF and index person the benchmark?” So, what is investment performance? And we’ve done a lot of work really in partnership with our clients and articulating what that is. And in the case of ETFs and index, it’s two things. It’s first what we call market quality. What do you expect an ETF? It’s how it trades in the market, secondary market volumes, market quality in stress scenarios, premium discount behavior. There’s a bunch of metrics that we monitor with respect to ETF market quality. Part of my job is to be accountable for performing on those, and the other part is delivering on those index outcomes, which in a world where what we can index is evolving as more markets and more strategies are indexed. It’s also important that we deliver to investors what they had signed on for with that index objective. And so, that’s what it means to be the CIO of an ETF and index book. RITHOLTZ: So you mentioned market quality and — and performing within the market, you know, was only less than two years ago we had the big COVID selloff in March, and people were concerned that ETFs were not going to be able to manage the — the pressure, they wouldn’t be able to deal with all of the stress, you know, all the usual criticisms of indexing plus additional criticisms of ETFs. How did ETFs perform during that 34 percent collapse from February to April of — of 2020? COHEN: The people who were concerned before the COVID bout of volatility had a huge and rich set of data to draw from when we emerge from those volatile markets that show that actually ETFs have really supported stressed markets, added liquidity, added transparency. And that was on a full display over the COVID volatility period, particularly in the bond market, where if you think about what was happening across the world, there were traders who were, you know, setting up their — their home desks, their — their home, you know — you know, hundreds of — that one trading floor that we talked about that came thousands and thousands of — of home office trading floors. And the bond market, in particular, still has largely operated in an over-the-counter bilateral basis in the bond market for — for that reason and a whole lot of other reasons. You know, and the treasury market, in particular, became very hard to access while ETF, you could see on your phone they were transparent, they were trading. RITHOLTZ: Right. COHEN: One of the stats that I love to quote that I think is quite indicative of what was happening over that period is, you know, we had an investment grade ETF that traded on one of those volatile days in March — March 24th 90,000 times on exchange. And, of course, every time something prints on an exchange is price formation where its — its underlying bonds — the top holdings of that underlying bond portfolio traded, on average, 30 times. So, 90,000 versus 30. There just wasn’t price formation happening in the bond market, but it was happening in the ETF market with buyers and sellers meeting on exchange, which meant that there wasn’t a whole lot that needed to happen in the underlying bond market to — to support that. And so, really — and — and what’s interesting is you can see a whole lot’s been written by policymakers around the world about this supportive role that ETFs have effectively played in — in stressed markets. The, you know, SEC has written about it, the BOE, IOSCO, so it’s been exciting to have this really rich dataset to draw and looking back at that period. RITHOLTZ: The bond discussion is really interesting, and — and I was referring to equities, but we’ll circle back to that. You know, a lot of people have complained that bond markets are thin. You know, you have a few 1,000 stocks, but there are just countless, countless numbers of bonds — many, many more times of bonds than there are stocks. It seems like the bond ETF universe handled the crash — or plunged maybe is a more accurate word because it was so short — handled it pretty well. Everybody — we saw a lot of money rotate out of stocks into bonds. As a safe harbor, didn’t seem like there were a lot of dislocations or wild price anomalies or an inability to get an execution. The bond ETF universe seemed to behave really well. COHEN: The bond ETF universe behaved well. And as a result, the bond market behaved better. And that’s one of the things that I get really excited about because the fact is I’m really a lifelong markets reformer. That’s the passion that I have. I’ve spent my entire career in the markets and — and my desire, at this point, is to contribute to making them better, making them safer, more efficient, more transparent, and we can measure how bond ETFs actually did that in the bond market. And, in fact, interestingly, as a result of the — the demand for bond ETFs that came out of the COVID period, we had seen the bond market start to trade more electronically big pieces of the bond market portfolios in the bond market. Bond dealers have started to really invest in algorithmic pricing, which creates more transparency, more trading, and more liquidity. So, we’ve written about and we’ve observed this what we call a real virtuous cycle of how ETFs have been integrated into the fabric of — of capital markets across the board. And we can definitely talk about equities, but how in the bond market it has been good for bond ETFs and also good for bonds. RITHOLTZ: So, when we had the great financial crisis since ’08, ’09, I thought that was pretty much the end of the argument that indexing is problematic for markets or ETFs aren’t going to be able to handle pressure. That — that should have been the last word in that. I was kind of surprised to see those same arguments still hanging around. And then March 20202, the execution seemed to go off without a problem. There were a handful of individual stocks that’s sort of pricing get a little wacky. But is this the end of the passivist destroying the markets and ETFs are dangerous argument or is there — are they just going to throw this out every time there’s something else to complain about. COHEN: I love your thoughts on that, Barry. I would hope that it’s a — it’s — it’s closer to the end where we — where we can kind of look forward to — to numerous things that can improve the markets. But look you make an excellent point. I mean, to be fair, in 2008, I was — I was on the bond trading floor actually at Goldman and I didn’t know what an ETF was, like in 2008, you know, in — in the fixed income markets, you didn’t — you know, you — we weren’t talking about what ETFs were. But to your point, it is true. If we look back at the data during those weeks and months when what was so valued by investors was transparency and was so feared was the lack of transparency when all this information was coming out about bank balance sheets and what was on balance sheets, we did see a real pick up in volume and velocity of ETF trading in 2008 and in 2009. And we have repeated stressed market events like the big energy selloff that happened at the end of 2015, the — you know, what we call Volpocalypse that happened in February of 2018 where we have repeatedly seen ETFs perform well under pressure and actually add support to high-velocity markets. And yet this still, you know, comes out from time to time, which feels like kind of the language that comes out around any sort of disruptive technology. But I do think like we talked about that the — the data is pretty clear. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: You are definitely responsible for a lot of capital, and that leads me to a quote of yours that I — I need an explanation on. At BlackRock, there is absolutely nothing passive about index investing. Explain. COHEN: I am on a mission, Barry, to replace the word passive with the word index when people talk about ETFs and index investing because how we manage our portfolios is extremely active. And it goes back to that conversation we had about what investment performance is in the context of an ETF and index investment book. It is delivering the index outcomes, which the reason ETFs and – and index ones exist is that indexes aren’t often easily investable. They could have thousands and thousands of securities in them. And so, depending on how much you — you, you know, are investing, you can’t perfectly replicate the index, and so you need to optimize to deliver that index outcome with as little friction as possible. So that’s delivering the index outcomes. And then there is that huge dimension of ETF market quality, ensuring that the ETFs track the underlying portfolios with, you know, we call it premium discount behavior, ensuring that they’re strong secondary market quality, transparency, and liquidity in the ETFs. So, we have teams of people, not robots, but actual people. And a lot of them, by the way, are women around the world who are actively managing our market quality and investment performance in our ETF and index book. So that’s why there is absolutely nothing passive about it. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. We’ve gone through these periods whether these spasms of anti-indexing sentiment, and it goes all the way back to Jack Bogle and — and the early days of indexing in the 1970’s. Indexing is un-American. It’s — we’ve heard people call it Marxist. It’s going to lead to market crashes. What — what’s your perspective when you hear these things crop up? The – by the way, the latest one is it’s anti-competitive and it’s going to lead to price fixing and a lack of competition due to all this ownership. How do you respond to those sort of backwater, low review silliness? COHEN: I — I begin with — and we’ve written on this this year in — in something we call the Investor Progress Report, but we estimate that there’s about 120 million people around the world who are accessing our ETF and index capabilities. There are more people accessing the markets, and investing in the markets, and participating in economic growth on their terms than never before in history. And from my perspective, there’s really nothing that’s more American than that. So that’s how I think about it. I think ETFs bring markets. They bring the market access. They bring transparency. And increasingly, they bring choice to lots of individual investors who are saving for retirement and thinking about their financial futures with the help of ETFs in ways that they couldn’t before. And a lot of the — you know, one of the pieces that we — that we put out recently points out to the fact that a lot of the households who own ETFs in the United States have — have median incomes of $125,000. So, you’re talking about investors who simply didn’t have market access before who, as a result of ETFs and indexation, can — can get diversified strategies to manage their risk the way more sophisticated institutional investors have and participate in the markets. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about product engineering. Tell us a little bit about what that means. What sort of projects are these teams working on? It’s one of those phrases that definitely resonates. COHEN: I’m glad that it resonates. It’s something that we’ve been using for — for a few years now. And that team, which is global, there are product engineers in — in really every major region of the world. And they do two things. First, they help design the operating models and the investment process for — for new ETFs, how will creation redemption work, what are the characteristics of the index. What — you know, how will the index rebalance? Those types of things when it comes to new ETFs. And the second piece of what they do, which is actually really critical, is they continue to manage the structure of the product over its lifetime. So sometimes, we will identify something in one of those market quality statistics that, you know, let’s say it seems to be trading a little bit wide in the secondary market, and we’ll go out and we’ll talk to market makers and ask what’s happening. And they’ll say, well, it’s a little tricky to hedge because of X, Y, and Z. And sometimes, we can change something structurally and how the market interacts with the ETF to improve its investment performance in market quality. And that’s the purview of our product engineering group. So, I tell all of our teams, you know, I want all of our teams to be able to explain how they contribute to the active management of our ETF and index book, and that’s how the product engineering does by — by identifying the operating model and by continuously assessing and improving it. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about the rest of your team. You have portfolio engineers, risk managers, platform architects, market structure developers, and product operating model designers. That sounds like some very intriguing job descriptions. Tell us about what a market structure developer does or some of those other really interesting titles. COHEN: I think they’re all exciting jobs, and I do have to make a plug for — for anybody who is — is considering going into investing. It’s never a dumb question to ask what — what is the job, but because there are so many different jobs. And I remember when I was in college, I was almost scared to ask that. But — but as you just pointed out, and it’s — it’s, you know, fun for me to kind of hear you walk through it, there are so many different types of ways to be an investor and to participate in an investment platform. So really, we do three things. Number one, we manage day in and day out. We are responsible for the investment performance of our funds, how we’re managing the portfolios through rebalances, through corporate actions, and how we’re managing ETF market quality. That’s number one. Number two is we are continuously improving our platform in the Aladdin technology that we use to manage our portfolios to make things that can be lower touch — lower touch to give us capacity to spend more time on, you know, new markets and new strategies so that platform architecture piece, how we create scale that’s kind of bucket two of what we do. And the third part is ecosystem leadership. And you talked about — you know, we talked about how we engage with liquidity providers, with stock exchanges. Earlier, you talked about the — the COVID volatility. And I think it’s really important and — and was a really interesting case study in the U.S. that a lot of the volatility guardrails that had been put in place by the U.S. stock exchanges over the five years preceding March 2020, market-wide circuit breakers, limit up/limit down, like the whole limit up/limit down framework was really only 10 years old had been tested a few times and had its biggest test in March of 2020. We engaged very deeply with stock exchanges. Remember in the U.S., ETFs are between 30 and 40 percent of daily trading volume, so those volatility guardrails really matter from a market quality perspective. So, focusing on the external environment for our ETFs, that’s what we mean by ecosystem developer. RITHOLTZ: You mentioned Aladdin. I just finished a couple of months ago the book, “Trillions” by Robin Wigglesworth, and he describes the Aladdin system really as the technological backbone of — of BlackRock from the very beginning and the secret sauce to that successful scaling. Tell us a little bit about — for — for a person who may be not familiar with Aladdin, tell us a little bit about that. COHEN: Aladdin is how we — we arm our investment managers, both BlackRock’s investment managers and the investment managers who are — who are Aladdin clients outside of BlackRock with best-in-class risk management tool. And it is the — the DNA of the firm. And I can say that actually because as I’ve shared with you, I was at the firm pretty much at its — at the beginning. BlackRock was started in — in 1988, and — and I started there in — in 1993. And the reason BlackRock was founded really was a group of fixed income markets, specifically mortgage-backed security experts who said, “We can take this technology that’s been built on the sell-side and deliver it directly to clients as a fiduciary to help them create better outcomes.” So, giving — putting better risk management tools directly in the hands of — of clients was really BlackRock’s founding mission. And — and that’s what Aladdin has grown in today. First, it was the system that all of BlackRock’s portfolio managers used, and then it became a system that — that other asset managers wanted to — to access as well, and it is really the — the backbone of how we — we look at risk and we run our portfolios. RITHOLTZ: Really intriguing. So, let’s talk a little bit about ESG generally, and then we’ll — we’ll — we’ll dig down a little more specifically. Your boss, Larry Fink, famously pens a — a letter each year to Corporate America’s. Tell us a little bit about why we do that and — and what — what’s the thinking behind that. COHEN: Larry writes a letter to start a conversation, and it’s really a conversation with our clients who are owners in all of these companies across Corporate America and — and what we think are — are the top of mind themes for the year ahead. And it’s a good integration of everything we’ve heard from clients, and how we’re thinking about the markets, and how we’re thinking about risk. And it becomes really a — a point of — of bringing people together us inside the firm and us with our clients to — to take a look at the world and what we’ve learned over the past year, and — and what we want to bring to — to the year in front of us. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about corporate governance. How do you think about that in terms of affecting risk? COHEN: The conversation about corporate governance is one we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about because, as — as you know, but it probably bears, you know, speaking to explicitly, in a lot of cases, we vote the shares on behalf of the clients whose money we manage. RITHOLTZ: Right. COHEN: And the question is do those clients want to vote the shares themselves? And something we did in December and it’s actually gone live this month or it went live at the beginning of 2022 was work to give our institutional clients and some of our comingled fund clients, but a — a good portion of our assets the option whether they’d want to vote their shares or not. So, it’s early to say are they going to take it us up on it or not, but that will be very instructive to us because our job is to help them create better financial futures, create better portfolio outcomes. In some cases, they may want to participate in the corporate governance process themselves. In other cases, they may want to intentionally delegate it to us, and we had a very big what we call investment stewardship function where we, you know, were very transparent. We publish the criteria in terms of what we think is important when we engage with companies, but some investors feel like, well, that — that engagement with companies is part of the value proposition that I hire my asset manager for. And some investors may feel, nope, I’d like them to manage my assets, but I want the votes. And we are really hopeful of increasingly being able to give those investors choice. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about ESG generally. You know, for a long time, it’s captured a lot of mindshare. People have talked about it, especially with climate change and the focus on the environment, but it doesn’t seem like ESG is captured as many inflows as it has, you know, sort of mindshare. What are your thoughts on that? Is this going to be a persistent gap or are we seeing more people, especially younger generations more interested in ESG investing? COHEN: I think flows are actually the tip of the ESG iceberg, and what you don’t see below the surface is the integration and evaluation of ESG risk across portfolios. And that has captured a huge amount of time and attention from investors and — and certainly from us. And it’s actually really exciting from — from an investor perspective that reminds me again dating myself here. But when I started at BlackRock, I — it was in — in, you know, 1993, and I think in the five years since BlackRock was founded, interest rates had dropped something like 300 basis points, right, like late 80’s call it 10 percent on the bond to — to seven percent. And one of the big topics of risk in the fixed income market was mortgage prepayments. And so, figuring out how to model that, articulate that, make that transparent better than anybody else, again a big part of BlackRock’s value prop that it was bringing to investors, and we are doing the same thing today with climate risk and with ESG integration. And we have integrated ESG metrics across our portfolios and transition risk metrics, so we can assess what sort of risks are there. And that’s the really the first step. It’s measurement, and transparency, and then decisions around capital commitment, and — and risk taking. RITHOLTZ: So — so I want to restate a little bit of what you’re saying. I’ve traditionally heard ESG described as I want to invest in a way that parallels my personal values, but you’re really describing ESG as a risk management tool, as a way to screen out potentially problematic concerns, sectors, companies, whatever. Am I — am I overstating that or is that a fair translation? COHEN: Both statements are actually true. It’s a spectrum, so what we need to do is give our clients choice and — and clarity, and — and help them articulate because often they’re not even sure where they want to be in that spectrum, but I would say the majority of the conversations that we have right now are much more understanding. Looking at my portfolio today, what are my ESG risks broadly? What are my climate risks? What are my risks to a net zero transition? And then the second question is how do I want to manage those. RITHOLTZ: Really, really intriguing. Let’s talk a little bit about no carbon and low carbon. That was kind of a — a hot topic a couple of years ago. I’ve always been a little perplexed by that because if you back out the big carbon producers in the S&P 500 everybody else who’s left are giant carbon consumers. How should we think about something like carbon? Is that the most attractive approach to dealing with I’m concerned about climate change or — or — or global warming? COHEN: It depends on what your goal is. And again, I think a big part of what our work has been is to offer a spectrum for investors who are trying to do different things. And even more importantly and this has been meaningful to me as a personal investor, offer transparency around what it all means. So, something we did in December is we published a metric for all of our public index and all of our ETFs called the ITR Metric, Implied Temperature Rise. And the beauty of this metric is it’s really easy to understand. You can pull up anything on our website. You can see the ITR Metric, and you can see is it Paris-aligned or not, meaning is it, you know, 1.5 degrees or lower or is it higher? And — and we show the spectrum of — of bands and ranges. And — and what you can see is, you know, to your point, 90 percent of — of companies in — in MSCI ACWI are not Paris-aligned … RITHOLTZ: Right. COHEN: … but step number one is — is getting transparency in terms of your book, and then deciding do you want to take the first step and move to something that is a screen diversion of — of that index or go much further and — and take more targeted exposures. And what we hear from clients is, you know, they want different things, so putting out that spectrum and putting out those measurements really, you know, looking to be champions of transparency in this world, which as it emerges can kind of become a Tower of Babel in terms of the different languages and different metrics. So arming investors, both institutional and personal investors, with the tools to understand what does this mean for me, that’s really been the priority. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting, the old Peter Drucker line is if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. And having metrics sounds like a great, great start. So, let’s talk a little bit about what it’s been like the past couple of years with the pandemic, and then last summer delta, it felt like it was ending, and then omicron hit. I keep hearing all these firms are trying to get their staffers back into the office and on the trading desks. Tell us what — what you guys are doing. Are you going to have everybody back in the office? Are you going to be remote? Are you going to be hybrid? What’s your thinking about the world going forward? COHEN: We are going to pilot a hybrid model, and we actually started piloting it in certain parts of the world, including New York City, prior to omicron. And what it was was you are welcome to back — to come back to the office for five days. If you would like to take two remote days, take two remote days, and — and we’ll see how that plays out. And then omicron happened and we kind of, you know, pulled back on the pilot and — and we’ll put it back in hopefully in a few weeks. I’m — I’m in the office right now. RITHOLTZ: I see. COHEN: I like being in the office. And I think we’ve had a whole bunch of learning. So, I mean, of course, our number one priority is making sure that people are safe and that people are healthy, but healthy doesn’t just mean, you know, being safe from the — from — from the virus. It means being mentally healthy. RITHOLTZ: Right. COHEN: And — and one of the things we’ve learned is — is a lot of us really missed the connection with other people. So, creating an environment where you can have those moments of human connection in the office. And, of course, there were moments of human connection that people, you know, particularly with kids of different ages we’re — we’re having at home that they didn’t have before, so trying to take those learnings from the pandemic and employ them in a way that makes people healthier physically and healthier mentally, that’s what the goal is. But I imagine we will be experimenting for a while both based if conditions in the world change and — and as we see how it works in our offices. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, the — the challenge has been how do you manage corporate culture over Zoom or remotely. And BlackRock has a very specific corporate culture. Lots of other firms are trying to maintain that. Finding that right balance seems to be a work in progress that we’re all going to be dealing with over the next couple of quarters or years for all we know. COHEN: Absolutely. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about the rising demand for ETFs. It seems that lots of institutional traders are driving ETF demand. Can — can you talk to that a little bit? I’m curious as to your perspectives. COHEN: What might surprise you to hear is one of the biggest adopters of — of ETFs has been other asset managers. So institutional asset managers, you know, like, you know, BlackRock’s own asset managers outside of the index business who are integrating ETFs into their own pursuit as alpha generally to, you know, use ETFs as a cash equitization tool to look at ETFs alongside other sources of market beta like futures contracts or swap contracts, to look at options on ETFs. Often, we’ve seen — and — and this was actually a very interesting story going into the Brexit referendum, there weren’t a lot of volatility place out there, but there were some U.K. — we had a U.K. equity market ETF and — with options — with options ecosystem around it. An options open interest went up 1,800 percent … RITHOLTZ: Wow. COHEN: … into the referendum because it was a way to play volatility, and sometimes that would be an asset manager’s first experience of an ETF because they were looking for some sort of non-linear payout. And then they would become more interested in integrating ETFs as another wrapper, another tool in their overall toolkit in — in making money. So that has been one of the largest sources of — of adoption of ETF. RITHOLTZ: I have a very vivid recollection, I want to say 15 or 20 years ago. Hearing certain institutions say — or institutional fund managers say, “Look, we want to get exposure either to broad equity market or to the specific sector, but our due diligence and our research process takes so long that by the time we pick a particular company, a particular manager, a particular investment, the move is half over, I could just use the ETF and get instant exposure to X. Do you still see that sort of behavior or am I going too far back in history? COHEN: No, we absolutely see that behavior. Often, you know, people will use the ETF as a placeholder as they do that research and figure out where they want that exposure to be specifically. So sometimes they have longer-term horizon, sometimes they have shorter-term horizons, but again, this is actually a key reason why we see that increase in ETF trading during high velocity markets as they are very convenient and transparent way to manage risk and pivot exposures during fast-moving markets. So, you can make quick changes to adapt your risk profile and work into what your longer-term target state might be, and we do continue to see that. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. Let’s talk about thematic ETFs. They seem to have exploded in popularity the past couple of years. How exciting is that for you guys to work on? And what do you see coming down the pipe? What — what’s new and interesting? COHEN: It’s so exciting that we can increasingly index new types of strategies and access new types of markets, and — and that’s really what we’re about, bringing the markets to investors on their terms. And, you know, one of the things that really brought it home for me with some of our climate-focused ETFs was being able to find something that my kids connected to. My daughter is a big environmentalist. She’s a part of her school’s Environmental Action Committee, and I think she never thought that ETFs were — or investing was particularly relevant to her. And talking to her about a climate-focused ETF, it was a conversation. So, part of how we are bringing more people into the markets is helping them connect to the themes that are important to them and then helping them use those as a way to start to construct the portfolios that will deliver the outcomes they’re looking for. RITHOLTZ: So, one of the big things that we’ve seen has been the rise of direct indexing. What are your thoughts on that? Is this a challenge to ETFs? And we’ve seen a lot of big institutions buy direct indexing shop. Tell us a little bit about your thoughts with that. COHEN: Direct indexing is a — is a very important part of the index and — and ETF ecosystem. About half of our book actually is direct indexing versus ETFs. Increasingly actually, there’s also been attention to what — to — to smaller direct indexing opportunities more for individual investors where we — we acquired Aperio to — to offer that service as well. So, I think direct indexing for individuals, for institutions fits nicely into that overall ecosystem. When you come to those things we talked about around what value the ETF wrapper brings, that secondary market liquidity, the transparency, that’s the role that ETFs play, but there’s certainly a role for a — a very important role for direct indexing, too. RITHOLTZ: Really intriguing. Your bio mentions that you’re an advocate for employee networks. Can you speak a little bit towards that? I — I know this is like a total subject change, but I don’t want to not get to this question. Tell us a little bit about employee networks, and — and what are they? And — and what role do you play with those? COHEN: I’ve been a big beneficiary over the course of my career of the networking and visibility that comes from being part of, you know, in my case, women’s networks. It’s an opportunity to meet and connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise know and an opportunity to — to think more intentionally and — and strategically about your career and — and maybe expand your universe of role models. So that’s how I participated in employee networks. And at BlackRock, one of the things I love about being a — a senior advocate for — for many of the networks is I really believe that you can’t do your best work unless you can talk about your challenges both inside and outside the office. And a lot of times these networks create safe spaces for people to talk about what they’ve struggled with, how they’ve overcome that. And — and — and I find that really inspiring and — and it helps me recruit great people. So — so it’s something that’s very important to me. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stay with that topic, finance is notorious for not having a lot of diversity or inclusion. I know BlackRock has a couple of initiatives in that space. Tell us about them. COHEN: I’ve spent my career, you know, being asked the question of — of, well, what’s it like being a woman in finance. And — and we could talk about this for — for a really long time, what’s it like being a woman, what’s it like being a mother, what’s it like being a parent. And — and it’s always hard when you feel different no matter what. No matter what the source of the differences, I think it can be very hard to — to feel safe and to feel secure amid differences. And — and that is what we try to sell for, whether it’s with employee networks, whether it’s, you know, creating mentorships and role models, although I’ll have to say a lot of my — my most memorable mentors weren’t necessarily women. But again, thinking about those challenges, which are different for — for different people, talking about them and making people feel safe and raising what they are, that’s what we try to focus on the most. And — and probably, I think that’s what’s changed the most over the course of my career. I think early in my career I felt the imperative was to, you know, not — not address the fact that there were differences and just get out there and — and try to act like everybody else, and — and that didn’t necessarily work for me. But, you know, it was sometimes hard to talk about that. And so, talking about it like — and having transparency to those things has — you know, has really been the first step and — and one that we have to take again and again. So, I think it’s — it’s not an old conversation, it’s not a dated conversation. I am incredibly proud, Barry, that the leadership team of the ETF and index platform is majority female. And we talk all the time about how to increase our diversity — diversity of thought, racial diversity, geographic diversity because we think if we bring our differences to the table we’ll perform better. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: So, let me throw you a curveball. You’re short of a bicoastal, New York and Boca. How do you split your time? And — and given what we’ve learned about working from home, can you operate from anywhere you have an internet connection? COHEN: I — I live in New York, Barry. I live in New York. I’m in the New York City office right now. I have a home in Florida. And — and I’ll tell you a funny story. My — my husband loves Florida, so we’ve always — we’ve had a home in Florida for a while. He — he’s a — he’s an investment manager, a triathlete. He cycles a lot. He plays a lot of golf. He, you know, does some work from down there. But I was always in Florida for vacations and weekends until the pandemic when during that 2020 spring lockdown I spent about six weeks there and — and liked it more than — than — than I had. So — but now Florida is — is — is really weekends and — and vacations for me. But last night, you’ll like the story. My daughter texted my husband and said, “Hey, dad, I’m wondering. Are you coming home tonight or are you going to be in New York City?” And, by the way, my husband and I were at a restaurant in New York City. So, the kids like to joke that my husband lives in Florida, but — but actually, we are — I am mostly here. And — and between May and November, he is mostly in — in New York City as well. RITHOLTZ: Really, really interesting. So, I know I only have you for so much time. Let me jump to my favorite questions that we ask all of our guests starting with tell us what you’re streaming these days. What have been keeping you entertained when everybody has been stuck at home? COHEN: I have three categories of — of things I stream, and I’m sure you’ve heard this before, Barry, the things I watch with my husband, the things I get my kids to sit down and watch with me, and — and the stuff I watch for myself. So — so in each category, my husband and I, we love Ted Lasso. That was one of our favorite things of the pandemic. And we also love Yellowstone. My — my kids will not sit down to watch the same shows together no matter how much I try. So, with my son, we’re watching Boba Fett and the Mandalorian. With my daughter, it’s been Emily in Paris. They are 15 and 13. And, you know, I’ll tell you for myself, I finished the — the sequel to Sex and the City and Just Like That, and I loved it. It was, you know, women around my age talking about dealing with their teenage kids and finding meaning in their lives. And I know the reviews were — were pretty mixed, but I really loved it. RITHOLTZ: We talked briefly, but you didn’t give us any names about some of the mentors who helped shape your career. Tell us about those folks. COHEN: I have had great mentors and sponsors, and I think it’s important to talk about both. I don’t think until more recently in my career I understood what a sponsor was, a sponsor being somebody who will actually work intentionally to — to move your career forward. But the — at Goldman Sachs, I had the, you know, privilege of working with John Rogers who asked me to testify to Congress in front of the House Banking Committee on — to represent Goldman, which was the scariest thing I had ever done. And what John told me, which I will never forget, it — it’s the scariest things that once you do, you are the proudest of — of having done. Marty Chavez, who I also worked for Goldman, was a tremendous mentor. And I think importantly, as I said, I’ve had — I’ve had some great female role models, but I’ve had some awesome male mentors. I think my high school calculus teacher Judy Conan (ph) probably changed the course of my career. So those three are my biggest mentors. At BlackRock, my — my boss Salim Ramji, our Head of H.R. Manish Mehta who was the — you know, had this job before me, they’ve been great sponsors. And I think being intentional about providing sponsorship as well as mentorship is something we think about a lot. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. I know you read a lot. Tell us some of your favorite books and — and what are you reading right now. COHEN: I am — I’m sure you are as well, I am a voracious reader and I’m usually reading multiple books at a time. So, the two I am reading right now I kind of usually have something fiction, something non-fiction. The nonfiction book I’m reading is “Digital Body Language,” which in the, you know, situation that we’re in right now, it’s fascinating how — how — how we create a digital body language, how people respond to it and what you need to think about it. That’s my non-fiction book right now. And my fiction book, I’m — I’m a few chapters in and I’m loving it, it’s called “The Louding Voice,” and it’s about a young woman, a young teenager in a rural Nigerian village who gets married very young, and — and is thirsting for an education because she wants to find her louding voice, and that’s probably a theme in everything I read about women — people in general, but often women finding their voices and using them. And one of the books I read recently that — that had a big impact on me, a colleague of mine actually gave it to me when I was promoted to CIO, it was Indra Nooyi’s memoir, “My Life in Full.” And I absolutely love that book. She started out by saying, “I intended to write a book about my career as CEO of PepsiCo and not write about my life as a mother and a wife. I didn’t want to write that book. And what I ended up writing was exactly that book,” because when you’re a mom or a parent and a wife and — and how you show up with that to the office, you know, as a CEO weaving all of that together, she did brilliantly and it was really moving. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. I have a book recommendation for your daughter. This is a fascinating book called “Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming” by McKenzie Funk that describes, since your daughter is interested in ESG investing … COHEN: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … it describes how the entire world to finance slowly started recognizing investment opportunities both at, you know, the individual company level, the ESG level, but also at the venture capital and startup level, and how Wall Street has arms into all these industries that are working on either climate change or, you know, electric cars. And — and — and that book is ready about five years old. So, when they talk about firms like Tesla, they’re still fairly nascent. Maybe it’s seven years old, 2014-2015. But if she’s interested in that, it’s a really well-written book and it’s really fascinating. She may really, really enjoy it. Let’s go on to our next question. Speaking of younger people, what sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who is interested in a career in either finance or investment management? COHEN: Ask all of your questions. Find people, ask your questions. There are no dumb questions. And — and if it sounds interesting to you, it’s worth having a conversation about it. I wish I had done that more. In a lot of ways, I feel like I — I got lucky. I — I told you I was the product of actually a diversity recruiting effort that led me to the — to the trading floor at Goldman. But if it sounds interesting, it’s worth doing the exploration. And — and networking and finding friends and just saying, hey, can I spend 10 minutes and ask you about your job? Doing that a lot, I think, is an awesome idea. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. And our final question, what do you know about the world of investing today you wish you knew 25, 30 years ago when you were first getting started? COHEN: If you asked me 30 years ago what I thought about the world of investing, I probably would have said Gordon Gekko. I mean, I was really thinking Wall Street. And — and even, you know, when I was in college, that was the — that was the vision that I had. That’s what you had to look like to be — to be an investor. Now what I know is excellence looks like lots of different things in the world of investing. And, you know, if you’re a woman, if you’re a person of color, it’s — you can be excellent. And, in fact, if you’re a theater major, you can find a path. I think there is a superpower in being different. And my mother always suggested that to me 30 years ago, so — so maybe I should say that’s what I wish I’d believe 30 years ago when I was told. Now I know it’s true. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. Samara, thank you for being so generous with your time. We have been speaking with Samara Cohen. She is the Chief Investment Officer for ETFs and index investments at BlackRock. If you enjoy this conversation, be sure and check out any of the previous several hundred we’ve done over the past eight years. You can find that at iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, wherever you feed your podcast fix. Check out my daily reads at ritholtz.com. Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack staff that helps put these conversations together each week. Mark Siniscalchi is my Audio Engineer. Paris Wald is my Producer. Shawn Russo (ph) is my Researcher. Atika Valbrun is our Project Manager. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~     The post Transcript: Samara Cohen appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureMar 29th, 2022

Inside the Making of CoComelon, the Children’s Entertainment Juggernaut

The toddler’s face is glowing green from the tablet in her hands, which shows a cartoon boy singing a nursery rhyme and dancing with dinosaurs. The toddler doesn’t know what dinosaurs are or what the lyrics mean, but she’s so entranced that she doesn’t blink when her mother calls her name. “It’s literally like crack… The toddler’s face is glowing green from the tablet in her hands, which shows a cartoon boy singing a nursery rhyme and dancing with dinosaurs. The toddler doesn’t know what dinosaurs are or what the lyrics mean, but she’s so entranced that she doesn’t blink when her mother calls her name. “It’s literally like crack for her,” says her mom Meng Zhou at their home in Redwood City, Calif. “It” is CoComelon, which may be the most streamed children’s entertainment program in the world. The show was watched for 33 billion minutes last year, more than the Netflix hits Squid Game and Bridgerton combined, according to market-measurement firm Nielsen. CoComelon had 3.6 billion views on YouTube in January, according to Tubular, a social-video measurement company, as many as three-quarters of whom were from outside the U.S. CoComelon was a Top 10 show on Netflix for more than 100 straight days in 2021, and its music is streamed 1.3 million times a day on Spotify. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] CoComelon is not only a ratings juggernaut. It’s also a model for a new approach to children’s TV. The educators who developed hits like Sesame Street and SpongeBob SquarePants had to fight for years to get their shows on the air. A room of adults could toil on a concept that helped kids learn important ideas, only to find out viewers weren’t interested. CoComelon is part of a push to eliminate such guesswork. Its parent company, Moonbug Entertainment, scours digital platforms like YouTube for popular kids’ programming, buys them, and then tries to build them into even bigger phenomena, drawing on data from YouTube to figure out what resonates with audiences. “Data is really at the heart of everything we do,” says Richard Hickey, Moonbug’s head of creative. “With YouTube, you’ve got an audience there that literally tells you whether they want to watch something or not, in real time.” Read More: How Ryan Kaji Became the Most Popular 10-Year-Old in the World It’s not entirely clear how much of CoComelon’s runaway popularity stems from this formula and how much it owes to the pandemic, which put more kids in front of screens. As parents juggled childcare and remote work, demand for kiddie content spiked 52% between January 2020 and February 2022, according to data from Parrot Analytics. Either way, the success of the show is attracting big money. In November, Moonbug was acquired for $3 billion by two Disney alums backed by the private-equity firm Blackstone. Since then, the company has rolled out a CoComelon live tour, a Spotify podcast, and just about every form of merchandise you can imagine, from bubble machines to throw pillows. Both parents and programming executives say there is something rare about the hold that CoComelon exerts on babies and toddlers. You can see the proof in the dozens of TikTok videos showing kids who hear the marimba tones of its theme song and come running. Zhou’s daughter’s third word, after Mama and Dada, was CoCo. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like it when it comes to generating kids’ streaming audiences,” says Brian Fuhrer, senior vice president at Nielsen. As the show and others like it become inescapable, parents are going to have to grapple with whether this type of children’s programming works for their families. Sure, their kids may love it—but does that mean it’s any good for them? In a Los Angeles conference room, CoComelon executives are debating a pacifier. Seated around a white table strewn with open MacBooks, they’re reviewing a soon-to-be-released episode focused on a character named Cody, a classmate and best friend of JJ, the show’s cartoon protagonist. The episode covers a rite of childhood: welcoming a younger sibling. Cody’s parents haven’t told him they’re having a baby. But as Cody and JJ sleuth around Cody’s home—singing an original song about solving an mystery, to the tune of “Teddy Bears’ Picnic”—they find a onesie, a rattle, and finally a pacifier, all objects that Cody has outgrown. An earlier version of the episode had Cody scorning the pacifier, saying it was “for babies.” But since the show is geared for children as young as 1, that sent the wrong message, Katie Nahab, a creative executive, explains to her colleagues. “Babies watch CoComelon, and they’re going to be looking at this and thinking, Oh, I shouldn’t want a pacifier, Cody doesn’t want a pacifier,” Nahab says. The script changed. Panther Media GmbH / AlamyCoComelon revolves around the adventures of JJ, center, and his two older siblings, YoYo, left, and TomTom. Considering the needs of babies is a new thing in kids’ TV. Before screens were ubiquitous, most families had just a television or two, and children’s shows were geared toward a broad age group. (Sesame Street, for instance, was targeted at 3-to-5-year-olds but watched by a wider spectrum of kids as well as their parents.) When parents started having phones in their pockets, entrepreneurs realized they could make shows for even smaller kids and still get millions of viewers. CoComelon was created in 2005 by Jay Jeon, a father of two in Southern California. Jeon, who had directed some TV commercials, was trying to teach his kids the ABCs. He started working with his wife, a children’s-book author, to make videos to accompany the nursery rhymes they sang to their sons. They began uploading the cartoons to YouTube the following year under the brand name ABC Kid TV. Over time, the revenue from YouTube ads allowed Jeon to quit his job to focus on the show. In 2017, he made two key adjustments: building the show around JJ, a toddler with a single blond curl, and changing the format from 2-D animation to 3-D. Monthly viewership on YouTube nearly doubled in two months, to 238 million views by December 2017, according to Tubular. By December 2018, CoComelon was getting 2 billion views a month. In July 2020, Jeon sold his company, Treasure Studio, to Moonbug, which had been founded just two years earlier. Moonbug expanded the show to more audiences, inking deals with platforms in South Korea, China, and Europe. The company’s other big acquisitions include Little Baby Bum, a YouTube channel created by a British couple that revolves around nursery rhymes, and Blippi, a live-action YouTube show. The company is perpetually searching for the next sensation. In February, Moonbug acquired Little Angel, a network of YouTube channels featuring 3-D cartoons about a toddler named Baby John, who sings alongside his family as colorful subtitles play along the bottom of the screen. For a company with this formula, CoComelon was a “once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Andy Yeatman, a Netflix alum who is the managing director of Moonbug, tells me. The show is deceptively simple. Each episode is a self-contained song that lasts two to three minutes. Some of them are nursery rhymes like “Wheels on the Bus”; others are original earworms about the moments that make up a toddler’s life. The songs star JJ and his two siblings, older brother TomTom and older sister YoYo; their mom and dad; and JJ’s friends. There’s a lot of repetition and an inordinate amount of disembodied toddler giggles. Some of the lyrics feel as if they were written by a computer that doesn’t quite get rhyming. (A sample: “Good, good, carrots are good for you/ Yay, yay, yay, I love them, ooh.”) But there are little touches, experts say, that make the show appealing to younger kids in particular. The world depicted on CoComelon has bright colors and no sharp edges or corners. It is shot from a low perspective, so the viewer sees the world from a toddler’s level. The characters are unfailingly kind to one another; there is no conflict on CoComelon. And the topics are universal: viewers see JJ perform familiar tasks, like potty training and putting on shoes, and struggle with familiar challenges, like learning to share and getting sick. The show takes “every meaningful moment” in a toddler’s life and makes a song around it, says Patrick Reese, general manager of Moonbug. Read More: The Best YA and Children’s Books of 2021 Every Monday, CoComelon puts out a new episode on YouTube, often experimenting with new characters, music, or story lines. Within the next few days, Moonbug’s data-insights team in London has crunched the numbers to suss out what did or didn’t work. If an element resonates, the creative team will try more of it. If it doesn’t, they move on to something else. The upshot is that viewers of Moonbug’s programs on platforms like Netflix are getting content that has already proved successful with a large audience. One benefit of this iterative approach is that CoComelon can try a lot of different things quickly. Its episodes take 12 to 14 weeks to make, Reese says, which allows the show to respond to current events in ways that typical children’s programming, with its longer lead times, cannot. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, CoComelon added an episode about handwashing; another segment focused on going to the doctor. Lately the show has also introduced more characters of color. In addition to Cody, who is Black, there’s a Latina character named Nina Rodriguez, whose mom works as a firefighter. The diversity has helped CoComelon find new viewers: 56% of its audience comes from African American, Hispanic, or Asian American homes, according to Nielsen. There are also downsides to a children’s show taking its programming cues from YouTube stats. If all content were driven by what YouTube viewers liked most, we’d be watching endless videos of dogs befriending cats. Shows like Sesame Street or The Electric Company have curriculums developed by pediatricians, says Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. They rely on metrics that show whether a children’s series is educational. While CoComelon may look that way to parents because it has words highlighted on the screen and tackles concepts like “left” and “right,” those ideas aren’t actually accessible to little kids in the process of learning language. “It’s one of those shows that is designed for parents to think they’re educational,” Christakis says, “but it doesn’t strike me as being high-quality at all.” CoComelon execs say they send concepts and scripts to educational consultants who help verify whether an episode is too advanced for young kids and whether it will make them feel safe. The show tries to model good behavior so that kids and parents alike can see how a loving family would behave in an ideal world. “Developmentally, we want to make sure that we’re on point and that we’re hitting our core age demo” of 1 through 3, says Hickey, the Moonbug executive. Never mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 18 months, unless it’s video chatting with a parent or family member. Most families threw those recommendations out the window in the hardest days of the pandemic and haven’t looked back. In late 2021, a mom and former preschool teacher named Jerrica Sannes, who has a master’s degree in early-childhood curriculum and instruction—and a website that helps parents wean their kids off TV—posted an Instagram story claiming that CoComelon was “hyperstimulating” and made its young viewers experience symptoms of addiction and withdrawal. The charge resonated with parents suspicious of what made the show so irresistible to their kids. Many left comments vowing to turn off CoComelon for good. Others criticized Sannes for scaremongering. Read More: Sesame Street Is Talking More Explicitly About Race—and Welcoming Two Black Muppets Child-development experts say CoComelon is no more problematic than most other children’s TV shows. “It’s not that CoComelon is addictive,” says Susan Linn, the author of Consuming Kids. “It’s that just about everything on the web is designed to be addictive.” That design works; even before the pandemic, kids under 2 spent about 49 minutes a day on screens, according to Common Sense Media. “You’re setting up kids to start depending on screens for stimulation and soothing,” Linn says. “What we really want is for kids to be able to amuse and soothe themselves.” Ultimately, the show’s success gets kids attached to an entity whose primary interest is selling them stuff. Since Moonbug acquired CoComelon, the show has been translated into 10 languages and has doubled the amount of content available. In addition to plush toys and sleepwear, parents can now buy CoComelon-branded booster seats, xylophones, books, snacks, and kitchens. Moonbug has a book deal with Simon & Schuster and licensing agreements with dozens of toy brands. Many of those products will feature staple characters like JJ. But as the universe of CoComelon expands, the merchandising possibilities are endless. The new episode in which Cody learns he’s going to be a big brother will be followed by others, executives say, in which he helps his parents set up a nursery, watches his mom’s baby bump grow, and then sees the baby coming home from the hospital. The Moonbug team will be waiting to see whether it’s a story line YouTube viewers want to watch—and will surely have Cody’s baby-sibling dolls ready to go if so. In the meantime, a CoComelon live show is on its way to Boston; Rochester, N.Y.; and Akron, Ohio. True to form, Moonbug is asking the internet where it should go next. —With reporting by Julia Zorthian □.....»»

Category: topSource: timeMar 16th, 2022

How Volvo recreates real car crashes

Volvo's Safety Center in Sweden is capable of replicating any type of vehicle crash, including rollovers, runoffs, and multi-vehicle accidents. Volvo's Safety Center has the ability to simulate any crash seen out in the real world. Run-off road crash tests, rollover tests, and their crane drop test help Volvo evaluate passenger safety. Volvo's Accident Research Team investigates real crashes in order to understand what goes on in traffic, helping find solutions to prevent injuries and future accidents.  Narrator: In 1937, there were 30.8 motor-vehicle related deaths per 100,000 people in the United States. By 2019, that number decreased to 11.9 per 100,000. But what if it could be zero?Volvo's Safety Center, opened in 2000 in Gothenburg, Sweden, believes it has the tools to reach that goal. The $81 million dollar state-of-the-art facility is host to an average of two crash tests every day and includes a pivoting rotating crash track, a crane that drops vehicles from 98 feet in the air, and an outdoor space for rollover- and runoff-accident simulations.Since its inception in 1927, Volvo has been synonymous with safety. It was a Volvo engineer, Ni ls Boh lin, who, in 1959, introduced the first three-point safety belt, an invention that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates saved 329,715 lives between 1960 and 2012. Volvo also introduced the first rear-facing child safety seat in 1972, and in 1994, it introduced the world's first side-impact airbags. David Zuby: Volvo has a reputation for safety. And, you know, in my experience, I think It's well deserved. Volvo is independently working to identify problems or safety problems that need to be addressed, coming up with solutions, and then keeping those solutions in their design process.The Safety Center has two primary test tracks. One is 354 feet long and the other, 505 feet long. The shorter track is moveable and can be set at any angle between 0 and 90 degrees to allow for multi-car tests and tests at varying speeds and angles. Jan Ivarsson: We can reconstruct more or less any type of crash situation here in this lab. We can recreate a front crash, a side crash, or as we have done and talked about also, a run-off-road type of crash could be generated in this environment.Narrator: Run-off-road crash tests are performed outside and simulate an accident where the vehicle leaves the road and is briefly airborne before colliding with a ditch. These tests are performed in conjunction with the Robocoaster, a robot that can be programmed to simulate what happens to an occupant in a run-off-road crash. Rollover crashes are also performed outside using a hydraulic platform that launches a vehicle into a rollover motion at different heights and speeds.One of the more shocking tests done at the Safety Center is the crane drop, in which a vehicle plummets towards the ground from a height of 98 feet. The test is performed so that emergency responders can practice rescues from high-impact crashes with the Jaws of Life.In order to accurately represent real people, Volvo has a large variety of crash dummies to replicate different sizes of men, women, and small children. Each test dummy is equipped with sensors that notify researchers which parts of a passenger's body would be safest, and which would be the most vulnerable in a crash. Both the car and barriers are fitted with sensors that record the entire chain of events in detail. Jan: We create a situation with X-ray meters, sensing motion patterns and forces in the car, we have extensive footage. And that is done by adding extra capabilities, light capabilities, we can run cameras with around 1000 frames per second to really understand the details of the crash. And then we run it in this crash facility and we could generate the same type of crash that we have seen out in field crashes.Narrator: Field crashes that are studied by the Volvo Accident Research Team. Malin Ekholm: They have the task of understanding what goes on in traffic, you know, because if you start with what technology is available, you are limited to what's out there. They will travel to accidents, within a reasonable driving distance from Gothenburg. The reason for that is because, you know, we want to know the time of day, we want to know the road conditions.Jan: If we have an accident collision with injuries involved, we will ask the permission from the driver of the car to get a medical journal from the hospital. And with that in hand, we can go further down and do in-depth studies of crash situations that we find important for our customers. How did this injury pattern occur? Why did this occur and how could we change the event?Narrator: When Volvo introduced its XC90 model in 2003, the Accident Research Team noticed an increase in compressed spinal injuries during run-off-road accidents. By studying injuries, they discovered that the force caused by the XC90 hitting a ditch was too great for the original chassis system to absorb. The transfer of energy from the body structure to the seat structure left spines vulnerable. As a result, Volvo incorporated a new type of crumple zone into future models to handle the impact.David: I think it may be possible to get to the point where people don't die. And that may come about by a combination of providing better protection to people when crashes occur, as well as, you know, outfitting cars with systems that help drivers avoid crashing, or at least mitigate the conditions of the crash that would have occurred otherwise.Malin: Our ultimate goal is zero. People are excellent drivers, when they're at their best. And then you have life. Life can be hard. The focus for us is not not so much the why, but more the, what can we do for you? How can we help you be the best driver you can possibly be in whatever situation you're in? So there's a beginning to safety development, but there is no end because it is a circle. It goes on.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 15th, 2022

Anticipating Anticipation

Anticipating Anticipation By Macro Ops One of the coolest things to watch in nature is a Starling murmuration. Starlings -- which are small and not particularly intelligent birds -- are somehow able to form these amazingly complex and beautiful airborne systems that are capable of extremely intricate flight patterns which shift and shape with near-instantaneous coordination.  They do this apparently in response to threats; to thwart off and confuse predators.  I’m fascinated by systems that display emergent properties such as murmurations. Where a network operating off simple behavioral rules can emerge complex, seemingly intelligent, behavior.  Scientists have long been awed by the same and using the latest technology they’ve been able to gain a fuller understanding of exactly how Starlings accomplish this.  The following excerpt is from a paper on murmurations by Italian researchers. You can find the whole thing here (emphasis by me).  From bird flocks to fish schools, animal groups often seem to react to environmental perturbations as if of one mind… Here we suggest that collective response in animal groups may be achieved through scale-free behavioral correlations… This result indicates that behavioral correlations are scale-free: The change in the behavioral state of one animal affects and is affected by that of all other animals in the group, no matter how large the group is. Scale-free correlations provide each animal with an effective perception range much larger than the direct interindividual interaction range, thus enhancing global response to perturbations.  Scale-free correlations mean that the noise-to-signal ratio in a Starling murmuration does not increase with the size of the flock. It doesn’t matter what the size of the group is, or if two birds are on complete opposite ends. It’s as if every individual is linked up to the same network.  The Starlings accomplish this feat by following very simple behavioral rules. Wired magazine notes the following:  At the individual level, the rules guiding this are relatively simple. When a neighbor moves, so do you. Depending on the flock's size and speed and its members' flight physiologies, the large-scale pattern changes.  It's easy for a starling to turn when its neighbor turns – but what physiological mechanisms allow it to happen almost simultaneously in two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds? That remains to be discovered, and the implications extend beyond birds. Starlings may simply be the most visible and beautiful example of a biological criticality that also seems to operate in proteins and neurons, hinting at universal principles yet to be understood.  A Starling murmuration is a system that is said to always be on the “edge”. These are systems that exist in what’s called a “critical state” and are always, at any time, susceptible to complete total change.  Wired writes that Starling murmurations are “systems that are poised to tip, to be almost instantly and completely transformed, like metals becoming magnetized or liquid turning to gas. Each starling in a flock is connected to every other. When a flock turns in unison, it’s a phase transition.”  What are the benefits of this emergent behavior?  The broader effective perception range combined with their existence in a constant state of criticality, provides Starlings with a strong competitive advantage for survival. The Italian researchers conclude that:  Being critical is a way for the system to be always ready to optimally respond to an external perturbation, such as a predator attack as in the case of flocks.  Individual Starlings operating off their own simple self-interested rules in aggregate create a vastly superior “collective mind” that broadens their perception range — and thus information intake — which enables them to operate in a continuously critical state. A state that’s optimal for responding to threats which helps raise their odds of survival.  You might be asking at this point, “Interesting stuff Alex, but what does this have to do with markets?”  Fair question…  Well, isn’t the market just one big collective mind?  Similar to a murmuration, the market is just the aggregation of individual actors operating off simple inputs (prices, data, narratives) in order to try and avert danger (ie, lose money on the way down or miss out on the way up).  Like Starlings, market participants instinctively key off one another. Robert Prechter, the popularizer of Elliott Wave Theory, writes in his book “The Socionomic Theory Of Finance” that:  Aggregate investor thought is not conscious reason but unconscious impulsion. The herding impulse is an instrument designed, however improperly for some settings, to reduce risk.  Human herding behavior results from impulsive mental activity in individuals responding to signals from the behavior of others. Impulsive thought originates in the basal ganglia and limbic system. In emotionally charged situations, the limbic system’s impulses are typically faster than the rational reflection performed by the neocortex… The interaction of many minds in a collective setting produces super-organic behavior that is patterned according to the survival-related functions of the primitive portions of the brain. As long as the human mind comprises the triune construction and its functions, patterns of herding behavior will remain immutable.  These simple inputs create a market that is collectively smarter than its individual constituents. It has a much broader perception range and exists in a critical state (always ready to phase shift from bull to bear regime) which allows it to more ably respond to changes in the environment.  When Stanley Druckenmiller first got into the game, his first mentor Speros Drelles -- the person he credits with teaching him the art of investing -- would always say to him that, “60 million Frenchmen can’t be wrong.”  What he meant by that is that the market is smarter than you. It knows more than you thus its message should be heeded because 60 million Frenchmen can’t be wrong…  Druckenmiller often says that “The best economist I know is the inside of the stock market. I’m not that smart, the market is much smarter than me. I look to the market for signals.”  We’ve known about the wisdom of crowds and the power of collective intelligence ever since Francis Galton — a British statistician and Charles Darwin’s cousin — discovered the phenomena while observing groups of people guess the weight of an ox at a county fair (the individual guesses were far off but the average of all guesses were spot on). There’s since been a significant amount of work done on the topic; The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki is a good summation of it.  But, there are a few key differences between markets and murmurations and the unique impact and limitations of crowd intelligence in financial markets, specifically.  The first is — and this is a big one — that markets are reflexive.  George Soros was the first to discover this truth. He wrote that “Reflexivity sets up a feedback loop between market valuations and the so-called fundamentals which are being valued.” This means that the act of valuing a stock, bond, or currency, actually affects the underlying fundamentals on which they are valued, thus changing participants' perceptions of what their prices should be. A process that plays out in a never-ending loop…  This is why Soros says that “Financial markets, far from accurately reflecting all the available knowledge, always provides a distorted view of reality.” And that the level of distortion is “sometimes quite insignificant, and at other times quite pronounced.”  This means that markets are efficient most of the time except for some of the times when they become wildly not so.  The key driver between low and high distortion regimes are the combined effect of (narrative adoption + price trends + time). These three inputs all work in unison. So when there’s a narrative that becomes broadly adopted, it drives steady price trends, and when these price  trends last for a significant amount of time, they then drive more extreme narrative adoption. And so on and so forth…  This positive feedback loop hits at the unconscious impulsion herding tendencies of investors and drives them to focus on trending prices in the act of valuation at the near exclusion of all other factors (ie, earnings, cash flows, valuation multiples, etc…).  Most of the time, there are enough competing narratives that drive price volatility and keep the market fairly balanced.  Another major difference is that Starlings aren’t aware of the broader complex system they are an integral part of. It’s all instincts... evolutionary programming… they turn when the bird next to them does.  Whereas in markets, we can be aware of the system of which we form. We can consciously separate ourselves from the herd and view the whole objectively (at least to the best of our abilities).  This is important. Because as traders, we’re in competition for alpha with the rest of the flock. We don’t just want to turn when and where the others turn. We want to get to where they’re going before them. And to do this, we need to be able to develop a sense of where they’re headed…  This brings us to the lesson I’m trying to impart.  The reason I’ve been chatting so much about birds, collective intelligence, reality distortion, and all that jazz… is because if we understand the signaling power of certain areas of the market, whether in a low or high distortion regime, we can eschew the need to try and predict all together and instead let the market tell us where things are headed.  I was reminded of this while listening to this Knowledge Project podcast interview with Adam Robinson. Here’s Part 1 and Part 2.  For those of you who don’t know him, Adam is a prodigy who “cracked the SAT” and created The Princeton Review. He now spends his time thinking, writing, and advising hedge funds on strategy. He’s the penultimate first principles thinker. He shared some of these principles in the above interview which we’ll cover now.  To begin with, here’s Adam summarizing the lens in which he views markets (emphasis by me):  The fundamental view of investing is that you can figure out something about the world that no one else has figured out. It’s a bit like prospecting, right, gold prospecting. You can go out with your pan and find something that no one else has found. Well, the difference between investing and gold prospecting is that gold prospecting, you actually find gold that you can actually go sell, right? If you find a value that no one else has found, what makes you think.... If people are irrational enough to believe that the price of gold is different from what you think it is or should be, what makes you think they’re going to become rational tomorrow? There’s that great quote by John Maynard Keynes, “Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.” Good luck with that.  So, there’s a third way, and John Maynard Keynes said, “Successful investing is anticipating the anticipation of others.”  My approach to markets is simply this, to wait for different groups of investors to express different views of the future, and to figure out which group is right. I look for differences of opinion strongly expressed, and decide which one is right.  Whatever else you may think about the world, the world is the product of our thinking. So is the economy. So are our investments. If you think about it, an investment is nothing more than the expression of a view of the future. So when you buy Facebook, or you short the dollar-yen, or you buy gold or short US Treasuries, you are expressing a view of the future. Your view of the future can be right or wrong, and your means of expression can be right or wrong, but that’s what you’re attempting to do, right?  So, if you and I were to go to Columbia Business School or Harvard Business School right now and ask the assembled MBA students, “What is a trend?” They wouldn’t be able to define it at all. In fact, I don’t know that any investor in the world can define a trend. They can define it simplistically like this: “A trend is the continuation of a price series.” Yeah, well that’s great. What’s causing the continuation? Right? And I’ll tell you what a trend is—this is an investment trend—actually it’s true for all trends. A trend is the spread of an idea. That’s all a trend is. It’s the spread of an idea.  Adam doesn’t believe in the existence of intrinsic value but rather views markets as an evolutionary narrative continuum; where stories spawn, develop, spread, only to eventually get outcompeted and then wither and die.  This is similar to what The Philosopher said in Drobny’s The Invisible Hands which I discussed in my piece on How To Be a Smart Contrarian. Here’s the Philosopher in his own words (emphasis by me):  Market prices reflect the probability of potential future outcomes at that moment, not the outcomes themselves. One way to think about my process is to view markets in terms of the range of reasonable opinions. The opinion that we are going to have declining and low inflation for the next decade is entirely reasonable. The opinion that we are going to have inflation because central banks have printed trillions of dollars if also reasonable. While most pundits and many market participants try to decide which potential outcome will be the right one, I am much more interested in finding out where the market is mispricing the skew of probabilities. If the market is pricing that inflation will go to the moon, then I will start talking about unemployment rates, wages going down, and how we are going to have disinflation. If you tell me the markets are pricing in deflation forever, I will start talking about the quantity theory of money, explaining how this skews outcomes the other way… People tell stories to rationalize historical price action more frequently than they use potential future hypotheses to work out where prices could be.  Adam references the work done by Everett Rogers in the study of the Diffusion of Innovations (Rogers has a book by the same title which is well worth a read). This line of study is about how the adoption of technology spreads but the work really can be applied to how everything spreads: narratives, ideas, social norms, etc…  Rogers breaks down the categories of adopters as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Well in markets there is a similar breakdown of participants who are consistently early or late to the adoption of narratives and thus trends.  Knowing which groups are which and what their signaling means has been a critical part of Druckenmiller’s process over the years. Here’s Druck in his own words:  One of my strengths over the years was having a deep respect for the markets and using the markets to predict the economy, particularly using internal groups within the market to make predictions. And I think I was always open-minded enough and had enough humility that if those signals challenged my opinion, I went back to the drawing board and made sure things weren’t changing.  Adam breaks down these groups as follows, from earliest trend spotters to later adopters:  Metal traders  Bond traders  Equity Traders  Oil Traders  Currency Traders  Economists  Central Bankers  What does this mean in practical terms?  Well, metal traders tend to be the most farsighted of the group. They are usually right and early about changing trends in the economy.  Why is this?  Adam gives three reasons, “The first is, they [metal traders] are the Forrest Gumps of the investing world. Their view of the world is very simplistic. Are people buying copper? And if they are, thumbs up. All is good in the world’s economy. Great. I guess interest rates are going higher. That’s the way metal traders view the world. And if people are buying less copper, they go, ‘Oh, that’s bad. Economic slowdown’.”  Secondly, “People buy and sell copper. It’s used -- it’s a thing. It’s not just a number on a screen, which is all currency traders look at. Right?” And third is the time frame, “Commercial metal traders look months to years ahead. Because if you want to take copper out of the earth, it’s going to take years to open that mine, right? So, metal traders are the most farsighted. They have the simplest model of the world, and they are actually in touch with the world economy.”  In our November MIR, China is a Teacup, we pitched the case for buying US treasuries. One of the reasons why was because metal traders were signaling slowing economic growth ahead and slower growth means lower rates (bonds get bought). The trade was an easy layup… The metals market usually leads the bond market but bond traders lead equity traders and looking at various parts of the credit market can serve as a good signal for broader stocks. Adam quips that “I will tell you that 19 times out of 20 when those two groups disagree, the bond traders are right and early. They are right and early. When I say 19 times out of 20, really I mean 99 times out of 100. If you want to find out when a stock is going to be in trouble, follow the corporate bonds of that company relative to US Treasuries.”  Speaking of using corporate bonds to see where a company’s equity is headed, well… Tesla (TSLA) bulls might want to pull up a chart of the company’s traded debt….  Equity traders are in the middle of the pack and they lead moves in the currency market. FX is driven almost entirely by speculative flows which is why we always write that you need to follow the money when trading currencies. Relative equity market performance is a good indicator of where a currency pair is headed and relative financial stock performance is even better. You can include both stocks AND bond total returns to get an even better leading indicator of currency pair direction.  We can look at market internals, at things like cyclical vs. defensive stocks (a favorite indicator of Drucks) to get an under the hood look at the underlying risk appetite of market participants. Cyclical stocks, especially front-end cyclical (think semis, autos, housing etc…), should lead or at least confirm an uptrend. And a divergence typically spells trouble for the broader market. The last group of traders (the Late Adopters) are oil and currency traders. Both of these are highly speculative markets, meaning positioning and sentiment matter more than fundamentals over the short to medium term and price trends are often self-fulfilling leading to a constant boom/bust cycle.  That’s the hierarchy of trading groups and how one can use market internals, as Druck does, to see where the market is about to turn. It’s how we can anticipate the anticipation of others without trying to predict but rather only needing to track the expression of these different groups of traders and the bets they place. And then using that to figure out which one is more probabilistically right than others and act accordingly.  It’s a way for us to leverage the collective intelligence of the market. To stand apart from the herd and look to the leaders to see where things are headed next. It’s an easy way to Play the Player. Tyler Durden Sun, 02/06/2022 - 15:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

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

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

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

Auto Stock Roundup: BMW Hiring Plans, Tesla Recall Update & More

While BMW (BAMXF) announces plans to create up to 6,000 new jobs in 2022, Tesla (TSLA) issues recalls for more than 475,000 cars in the United States. Last week, U.S. auto biggie Ford F grabbed eyeballs as it managed to top General Motor’s GM market value for the first time in five years. German-based auto giant BMW AG BAMXF announced plans to hire additional workforce as it accelerates electric vehicle (EV) development. EV maker Rivian Automotive, Inc. RIVN pushed back the delivery of vehicles requiring big battery packs. Meanwhile, Tesla TSLA also made it to the headlines as it issued a recall of more than 475,000 cars in the United States.Here’s a detailed rundown of the top stories of the week gone by.Rivian delayed the deliveries of its electric pickup truck and sports utility vehicle with big battery packs to 2023. The EV maker has around 71,000 preorders of R1T pickup trucks and R1S SUVs in the United States and Canada, but the majority of them are for the small battery pack version of the vehicles, which provide 314 miles of range on one charge. Conversely, the bigger battery pack — known as the Max pack — is expected to offer 400 miles on a single charge. This version accounts for only 20% of the total preorders.In order to cater to the larger chunk of preorder holders, Rivian has decided to push back the priority timeline of building the Adventure Package with a large pack battery. Explore Package preorders and vehicles with a Max pack battery configuration will follow suit in 2023. RIVN stated that the timings of its deliveries optimize its build sequence so that the best build combination offering the largest possible positive climate impact is prioritized.BMW confirmed plans to create up to 6,000 new jobs next year to cater to the raging demand for EVs. The automaker, which currently employs about 120,000 people, is ending its phase of job cuts after having trimmed about 6,000 jobs since 2020. The new positions will be created primarily in Germany. The latest announcement to rev up its workforce by up to 5% next year comes in as the luxury carmaker tries to electrify its vehicle line-up, with plans to introduce an electric version of the luxury sedan 7 series next year.BMW is set for an electric transformation and has geared its manufacturing plants for e-mobility. So far, BMW has sold more than 1 million EVs, including fully electric and hybrid vehicles. It plans to attain 2 million sales of pure EVs by 2025. Further, the German automaker targets at least 50% of its global sales to be fully electric by 2030.Tesla issued a recall for more than 475,000 cars in the United States. The EV behemoth maker confirmed that it is recalling 356,309 vehicles because of a defective rear-view camera in 2017-2020 Model 3 cars. Another 119,009 Model S vehicles are being recalled because of potential problems with the front trunk or boot.For Model 3 sedans, the rear-view camera cable harness can get damaged due to excessive wear caused by the repeated opening and closing of the trunk lid. This can prevent the rear-view camera image from displaying, thereby increasing the risk of a crash. For Model S vehicles, if the primary latch is inadvertently released, the front trunk may open without warning and obstruct the driver’s visibility, increasing the threat of a collision. Tesla states that it is not aware of any crashes, injuries or deaths related to the recalled vehicles.Ford delivered its first made-in-China Ford Mustang Mach-E in China. The Mach-E model for China has its own localized production, unlike those for the North American and European markets that are produced in Mexico. The China-based production line was launched at Changan, Ford’s manufacturing plant in Chongqing, on Oct 18, 2021. Ford has brought a product differentiation in China where its new electric cars are sold directly to customers instead via traditional dealerships. There are currently 25 stores covered under this network of direct-to-customer stores located in the major metropolitan markets in China.Meanwhile, Ford’s market cap on Dec 28 exceeded that of General Motors’ (GM) for the first time since 2016. Per the GM Authority, Ford had a market value of $83 billion at the close of the trading session on Dec 28, marginally beating GM’s $82.9 billion. The last time Ford’s valuation exceeded General Motors was on Sep 14, 2016, with the former closing the day with a market cap of $48.2 billion.Ford's aggressive electrification push, with planned spending of around $30 billion by 2025 and the target of 40% of its global vehicle volume to become all-electric by the end of the decade, augurs well. Meanwhile, General Motors aims to spend $35 billion through 2025 for EV and AV development. The automaker plans to roll out 30 fresh EV models by 2025-end. Price PerformanceImage Source: Zacks Investment ResearchWhat’s Next in the Auto SpaceIndustry watchers will be keeping a close watch on fourth-quarter and full-year delivery updates of auto biggies that is likely to come out this week. Also, stay tuned for updates on how automakers will tackle the semiconductor shortage and make changes in business operations. Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 In addition to the investment ideas discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top picks for the entirety of 2022? From inception in 2012 through November, the Zacks Top 10 Stocks gained an impressive +962.5% versus the S&P 500’s +329.4%. Now our Director of Research is combing through 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank to handpick the best 10 tickers to buy and hold. Don’t miss your chance to get in on these stocks when they’re released on January 3.Be First To New Top 10 Stocks >>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 Ford Motor Company (F): Free Stock Analysis Report General Motors Company (GM): Free Stock Analysis Report Tesla, Inc. (TSLA): Free Stock Analysis Report Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BAMXF): Free Stock Analysis Report Rivian Automotive, Inc. (RIVN): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 3rd, 2022

Sony"s A80J OLED is the best 4K TV you can buy if you want top picture quality

The A80J is a stunning 4K TV with infinite contrast, wide color, and Sony's unique image processing technology. Here's our full review. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Sony Sony's A80J OLED is the 4K TV to buy if you prioritize picture quality. The display produces stunning HDR images powered by Sony's advanced processor. Though the TV's Google operating system isn't my favorite, the A80J is a top performer overall. Sony 65-inch A80J OLED 4K TV$1999.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $2299.98 | Save 13%$1998.00 FROM AMAZONSony's OLED displays are known for their incredibly accurate images and stunning contrast. Its most recent model, the A80J, has taken the company's lineup even further with an advanced image processor, HDMI 2.1 ports, and an adjustable stand. As a high-end 4K TV, the A80J OLED excels on nearly every level, delivering the premium quality buyers expect from a display of this class. Though OLEDs from LG and Vizio offer similar image capabilities, Sony's display edges out the competition when it comes to pure picture performance.That said, the differences are subtle, and the benefits here will largely appeal to big home theater enthusiasts who crave the absolute best movie-watching performance. The A80J also has some minor issues when it comes to smart TV navigation, and its gaming support isn't as robust as it could be.After spending several weeks with the TV, however, it's hard to nitpick the A80J's shortcomings. Simply put, this is the OLED to buy if you want the best image quality.Sony A80J 4K OLED TV specificationsSony 65-inch A80J 4K TVSpecificationsPanel type65-inch OLEDResolution4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160)Refresh rate120Hz native refresh rateHDR supportHDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLGColorWide color supportDimensions57.13 x 33.88 x 13 inches with stand attached (standard position)Weight49.2 pounds without stand attachedHDMI portsFour HDMI inputs (two HDMI 2.1, including the eARC port)Smart TV systemGoogle TVConnectivityWi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, and EthernetAudioAcoustic Surface Audio+ with two actuators and two woofersRemoteVoice remote with Google AssistantDesign and setupThe stand can be adjusted to raise the TV up and make room for a soundbar.Steven Cohen/InsiderSony's A80J features a handsome design marked by an incredibly thin profile. That said, the TV does protrude out more (about two inches) in the back where it houses its processors and ports. One design aspect I love about the A80J is its stand. Rather than require any screws, the left and right feet simply click into place on the bottom of the display. This makes it a breeze to  set up, and it still feels sturdy.The stand also allows buyers to choose between three different orientations: Standard, Narrow, and Soundbar. Standard places the feet nearly flush with the bottom of the display toward the sides of the TV. This is a good fit if you have a wide entertainment console. Narrow places the feet closer to the center of the TV to accommodate smaller consoles. Soundbar lifts the display up higher so you can easily fit a speaker or soundbar in front without blocking the screen.You do need to unscrew some parts on the feet to change the stand's orientation, but this is pretty simple and the feet still click right back into the display after they're configured. This is an incredibly convenient feature that gives buyers a lot of placement choices.Special note should also go the TV's unique acoustic surface audio design, which uses actuators to produce sound from the screen itself rather than traditional speaker drivers. The quality is rather impressive, making the A80J one of the few TVs that delivers solid audio without a separate soundbar.After you get your Wi-Fi configured and address some standard privacy policies and terms of use agreements, you can start watching built-in apps or switch inputs to any connected devices.For the most accurate out-of-box picture, I recommend using the Custom picture preset for SDR and HDR10 content with all extra processing features turned off. For Dolby Vision playback, you'll get the most accurate image using the Dolby Vision Dark preset, but if this is too dim for your room, you should switch to Dolby Vision Bright.Picture qualitySony's advanced picture processor analyzes and optimizes different image elements.AmazonOLED TVs deliver the best overall picture quality of any display type currently on the market, and Sony's A80J is at the top of the OLED pack. To be fair, all OLED displays — whether they're sold by LG, Vizio, or Sony — offer very similar picture quality. They all provide deep black levels with pixel-level dimming, an infinite contrast ratio, and wide viewing angles. What makes one model better than another really comes down to key differences in processing and brightness. And it's the A80J's processing that really helps it edge out the competition.Sony makes a big deal of its "cognitive image processing system," which is something that's new for its latest TVs. According to the company, this tech cross-analyzes different picture elements on screen to optimize the overall image in a manner that's similar to the way we actually see things. At the end of the day, this approach really does make a difference, and the results are rather stunning.This is especially true for high dynamic range (HDR) content, which looks simply gorgeous. I measured a peak brightness of about 745 nits, which is on par for an OLED of this type. Of course, test patterns only tell one side of the story. How a TV looks when you actually watch movies is much more important. My usual assortment of demo material includes 4K Blu-rays like "The Matrix," "Aquaman," "Blade Runner," and Spears & Munsil's "UHD Benchmark" disc. Whether displaying neon cityscapes or desert vistas, images pop from the screen. Sony's tone-mapping also does an excellent job of pushing brightness while optimizing detail. Intricate fine textures are readily visible, making it easy to make out individual feathers and strands of hair on animals. And, because the OLED panel has pixel-level contrast, you get inky black levels and precise highlights without any of the blooming or vignetting you'd see on even the most high-end QLED sets.  Upscaling of lower quality material is also impressive. Cable TV and compressed streams on YouTube look better on the A80J than they do on other OLEDs I've tested, which is another example of how Sony's processing gives it a slight advantage over other TVs.As a whole, the A80J is simply a picture quality champ, delivering an incredible movie- and TV-watching experience with whatever content you throw its way. Ultimately, the only real complaint I have is that the image can appear a bit too dim at times. Certain shows, like Marvel's "Loki," appear particularly dark when using calibrated settings. This is a common drawback for all OLED displays, but the A80J's overall brightness should still be sufficient for most rooms and viewing conditions.It should be noted, however, that Sony does sell another OLED, the A90J, which is capable of getting brighter, particularly if you don't mind using one of the TV's less accurate picture modes. That said, both models make use of the same cognitive image processing system. So, while the A90J is technically a little brighter, the huge price difference just doesn't justify that minor upgrade in picture.   Google TV performanceSteven Cohen/InsiderUnlike previous Sony OLEDs, the A80J uses the Google TV operating system rather than the old Android TV system. Google TV is pretty similar, but it has a more modern interface that is easier on the eyes and simpler to use.You get access to pretty every major app you could want, from Disney Plus to Apple TV Plus, with no major omissions. A remote with Google Assistant is also included for voice search and other smart functions. This works well, allowing you to find content and launch apps with spoken commands. For whatever reason, however, Hulu doesn't seem to launch with voice commands.Though solid overall, Google TV navigation can be a bit choppy at times. I found this to be particularly true when entering in account details to log in to services. To be clear, the TV's built-in interface gets the job done for most streaming needs, but I prefer to use a separate media device.I also encountered an issue with the TV's Wi-Fi settings in my initial review unit. Though the display worked just fine for a week or two, the TV suddenly stopped connecting to my Wi-Fi. In fact, it stopped being able to discover any Wi-Fi connections at all. A complete reboot didn't fix the problem, so Sony sent a replacement TV. The new unit worked consistently without any Wi-Fi problems. I'm not sure if this was a software or hardware glitch, but it doesn't appear to be a widespread issue. Should you buy the Sony A80J OLED TV?The Sony A80J OLED is our pick for the best high-end TV you can buy. Though its smart TV interface isn't the best, it delivers incredible picture quality, thanks to Sony's advanced processing.You can technically get a brighter image with Sony's more expensive A90J, but I just don't think that slight improvement is worth the huge jump in price. If you want a new TV and image performance is your top priority, the Sony A80J is the model to get. What are your alternatives?When it comes to similar OLED TVs, the A80J's main competitors are the LG C1 and Vizio H1. All three TVs offer very similar picture quality and features, but the Sony has slightly better image performance thanks to its superior processing.The Vizio also lacks a voice remote and its SmartCast OS is a bit lacking. That said, it's the only model of the three to include support for the HDR10+ format.The LG C1, on the other hand, is our pick for the best 4K TV overall. It's usually a little cheaper and we prefer its smart TV platform over the Google TV system. It also boasts integrated support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, whereas the A80J model only has Google Assistant. The C1 is also a better fit for gamers since it has more HDMI 2.1 ports and variable refresh rate (VRR) support. VRR is supposed to come to the A80J via a future update, but it's not clear when that will be available.Ultimately, the Sony A80J is the best pick for buyers who favor image quality above all else, while the Vizio is a good budget pick, and the LG C1 is the best all-around performer of the three. The bottom lineSonySony's A80J is a stunning 4K TV. The display's OLED panel and advanced processing work together to deliver some of the most impressive images I've seen on a consumer TV. You can get a slightly brighter picture on the step-up A90J, but the giant leap in price doesn't justify the small upgrade.We do think LG's C1 is a better overall buy when factoring in smart TV performance, gaming features, and typical selling price — but the A80J is the OLED champ for picture performance. Pros: Industry-leading picture quality with advanced image processing, OLED panel with infinite contrast, two HDMI 2.1 ports, wide viewing angles, convenient snap-in stand with multiple orientationsCons: Google TV OS is only average, no VRR support yet, LG OLEDs have more HDMI 2.1 ports, pricier than some competing OLEDs, not as bright as top QLED models$1999.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $2299.98 | Save 13%$1998.00 FROM AMAZONRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 23rd, 2021

65 thoughtful gifts for Mom, from a personalized photo calendar to a customizable pendant necklace

If you're looking for a thoughtful gift for Mom, we've put together a list for all budgets that has plenty of things she's sure to love. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Getty Images Show Mom your appreciation with any of these 65 thoughtful gifts. From loungewear to jewelry to tech gadgets, there's a gift for all tastes and budgets. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. Although mothers may be challenging to shop for — humbly resigning to the phrase "you don't have to get me anything" — we can safely say she'll love any of the gifts in this guide. This list can help you find what you're looking for or, at the very least, spark some inspiration. Whether she's into the latest and greatest tech, loves to read, or wants to update her work-from-home wardrobe with comfortable loungewear, there's a unique gift for Mom, below.See all our gift ideas below, or use these links to jump to products that suit your mother's particular gift needs.Home gifts for MomFashion gifts for MomBeauty gifts for MomTech gifts for MomFood gifts for MomWellness gifts for MomHere are 65 of the best gifts for Mom:This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Leesa. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*Home gifts for MomA cocktail maker that mixes drinks in secondsBartesianBartesian Premium Cocktail and Margarita Machine, available at Amazon, $349.85Summer's here, which, for some moms, means it's time to break out refreshing cocktails. This cocktail maker will make Mom's life a whole lot easier, since all she has to do is pop in a cocktail capsule, choose her preferred strength, and press mix. She'll be sipping a margarita, cosmopolitan, or gin martini in seconds.Read our full review of the Bartesian Premium Cocktail and Margarita Machine here.  An incredibly comfortable mattressLeesaLeesa Hybrid Mattress, available at Leesa, starting at $1,614 (Queen)The Leesa Hybrid is one of our favorite mattresses because of its comfortable memory foam and motion transfer. It's soft, breathable, and supportive, so we're confident that Mom would love it, too. Read our review of the Leesa Hybrid here.*Sponsored by LeesaA digital picture frame for remembering the good timesAuraCarver Digital Picture Frame, available at Aura, $169It's hard to find a mom who isn't obsessed with taking photos and displaying them all around the house. But instead of buying tons of picture frames, she can show off all her family photos using this digital picture frame. You can upload an unlimited amount of pictures to the Aura app, connect the frame to Wi-Fi, and she's all set. Read our full review of Aura here.A personalized photo calendar for her deskArtifact UprisingWalnut Desktop Photo Calendar, available at Artifact Uprising, starting at $35A desk calendar can add a decorative touch to her desk, but one that displays photos of her and her family makes for an even better gift for mom. She'll love glancing at her calendar and being reminded of her favorite memories with you.A fancy candle setOtherland/Alyssa Powell/InsiderOtherland Candles The Threesome, available at Otherland, $89Candles make any home smell great, and this fancy candle set from Otherland will look gorgeous in any room in her house. It includes three coconut and soy wax blend candles in beautiful glass vessels. Each candle burns for 55 hours — that's a lot of time that your mom can spend enjoying this gift. We named candles by Otherland one of the All-Time Best products we've tested.Read our full review of Otherland candles here.A coffee table book for the mom who loves photographyAmazon"Women: The National Geographic Image Collection", available at Amazon, $27.05You can't go wrong with a coffee table book gift for Mom, and this one is a true standout. The photography is sure to be top-notch, since National Geographic created this book. Moms often serve as constant sources of inspiration, so why not pass along this book of powerful women to your mom.Soft, crisp sheets and beddingBrooklinenBrooklinen Queen Classic Hardcore Sheet Bundle, available at Brooklinen, starting at $198Brooklinen Queen Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle, available at Brooklinen, starting at $240Brooklinen's luxe sheets are the ones we always recommend to friends, family, and readers, for their affordable price, sophisticated look, and comfort.The Hardcore Sheet Bundles have everything she needs to completely makeover her bed — and stay nice and cozy all year long. Each bundle includes a flat sheet, fitted sheet, duvet cover, and four pillowcases. Brooklinen also sells comforters, pillows, candles, and blankets. This is another item that features in our list of the All-Time Best products we've tested.Read our full review of Brooklinen sheets here.A custom map posterGrafomap InstagramGrafomap Custom Map Poster, available at Grafomap, starting at $49Grafomap is a website that lets you design map posters of any place in the world. You can make one of your mom's hometown, her college town, her favorite travel destination, or the place where she got engaged or married — you're only limited by your imagination.Read our full review of the Grafomap Custom Map Poster here.A cute potted plant instead of flowersThe SillShop The Sill's selection of plants starting at $14The Sill is a relatively new startup that's making the process of choosing and buying house plants much easier. This gift set is just one of many options you can choose from — you can even shop based on which plants are pet-safe. Read our full review of The Sill here.A Le Creuset Dutch ovenAmazonLe Creuset Round Dutch Oven, available at Williams-Sonoma, starting at $230At $160, this Le Creuset Dutch oven is the most expensive piece of cookware in my kitchen, but it is also my most used. It comes in tons of colors, so you can choose Mom's favorite. We've even ranked it as the best overall in our guide to the best Dutch ovens. It's one of the best products we've ever tested.Read our full review of the Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven here.A hardcover photo book for any mother figureArtifact UprisingHardcover Photo Book, available at Artifact Uprising, starting at $72Honor any mother figure with a custom hardcover photo album that commemorates their best life moments. You can tie in her life story with a display-worthy dust jacket that puts her front and center. Choose from 11 fabric binding colors to complement her bookshelf or coffee table.A cutting board in the shape of the state she calls homeAmazonTotally Bamboo State Cutting & Serving Board, available at Amazon, $29.99Available for all 50 states as well British Columbia, Puerto Rico, Long Island, and Ontario, this uniquely shaped cutting and serving board doubles as kitchen decor. It's a great gift for the mom who loves spending time in the kitchen. A weighted blanket to help her sleep betterBearabyBearaby 15-pound Cotton Napper, available at Bearaby, $249Made of soft organic cotton just like her favorite T-shirt, this weighted blanket can help her fall asleep faster and its buttery softness is perfect for wrapping up in. We ranked it as the best weighted throw blanket in our guide to the best weighted blankets. A sous vide for making tender, perfectly cooked meatAmazonAnova Nano Sous Vide Bluetooth Precision Cooker, available at Amazon and Target, from $99The Anova sous vide is a reasonably priced investment that just might change Mom's life for the better. Not only will it boil and poach eggs with ease, but it'll also produce tender, perfectly cooked meat every time. You can hear more about why we love this product in our guide to the best sous vide machines. An alarm clock that uses light to wake her up gentlyAmazonPhilips Light Alarm Clock, available at Amazon, $99.99Moms work hard and they often have to wake up early. Just because she has to wake up before the sun rises that doesn't mean she has to awaken to the blaring of an obnoxious alarm clock.Philips makes a lovely alarm clock that gradually lights up to mimic the sunrise and wake her up naturally. The light alarm clock also displays the time and has customizable sounds so she can wake up feeling rested and ready for the day. You can find out why we recommend this alarm clock in our guide to the best sunrise alarm clocks. Read our full review of the Philips Wake-Up Light.An indoor herb garden that requires zero effortClick & GrowClick & Grow Smart Garden 3 Indoor Gardening Kit, available at Click & Grow, $139.95Every chef knows that cooking with fresh ingredients like basil can make a big difference. The Click & Grow Smart Garden is a self-watering system that allows even the most amateur gardeners to quickly and effortlessly grow herbs and vegetables. We tried it and were impressed with how well it worked, and the truly effortless process. Read our full review of the Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 Indoor Gardening Kit here.A retro-inspired electric kettleNordstromSMEG 50's Retro Style 7-Cup Electric Kettle, available at Williams-Sonoma, starting at $169.95With this retro-inspired electric kettle in her kitchen, she'll spend much less time making tea and more time enjoying a cup. It comes in 10 fun colors, like pastel green, pastel blue, and bright red. You can learn more about this kettle in our guide to the best electric kettles. Fashion gifts for MomA recycled fleece to stay warmGirlfriend CollectiveTeddy Recycled Half-Zip Fleece, available at Girlfriend Collective, $109Moms love effortless comfort and this super soft fleece delivers just that for her. Not only will she enjoy the warmth, but she'll feel good knowing she's helping the environment with this recycled pullover.A gold square watch to keep track of timeNordstromMVMT Signature Square Bracelet Watch, available at Nordstrom, $128For the mom who's always running late, this elegant square watch bares a minimalist and luxurious design that elevates any look. The gold watch is so impossible to miss that she'll now be on time to every occasion with it as a reminder.A lovely silk scarf for any outfitNordstromPaisley Square scarf, available at Nordstrom, $49.99You can't go wrong with a silk scarf if her style embraces a refined, ladylike taste. The elegant floral print adds gorgeous detail to an outfit that gives it a more polished and soft feminine appearance.A jewelry cleaner for all of her precious piecesMagnasonicMagnasonic Professional Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner, available at Amazon, $39.99Your mom's soft spot might be jewelry, but taking care of each piece is a must. This jewelry cleaner removes dirt and grime in minutes using water only. She'll appreciate this little machine that will take great care of her jewelry. A passport cover and luggage tagLeatherologyDeluxe Passport Cover + Luggage Tag Set, available at Leatherology, starting at $85 + monogram $20Mom might be planning her next trip out of town, and what better travel accessory to have than a personalized passport cover and luggage tag? She'll be less likely to lose her passport or suitcase thanks to these colorful accessories that also sport her initials. A chic purse that can turn into a backpackSenreveAlunna, available at Senreve, starting at $645A purse is an obvious gift for Mom if she has an eye for handbags. You can mix things up by giving her one that's both a purse and a backpack. The Alunna by Senreve is versatile and stylish, and it can be worn on her back, hand, over the shoulder, or across her body. Plus, it can organize all of Mom's essentials with its two interior pockets and exterior cardholder.A pair of sunglasses to block the sun in styleGlassesUSACheck out GlassesUSA's selection of sunglasses, starting at $29Sunglasses are spring and summer essentials and a perfect gift for Mom. GlassesUSA carries a wide variety of popular brands, including Ray-Ban, Oakley, Muse, Prada, and more. Through June 15, get 30% off your entire order for sunglasses and eyeglasses with free Rx lenses and shipping, if you enter code USA30 at checkout. Also through June 15, use code DEAL60 to save 60% off frames for sunglasses and eyeglasses with free Rx lenses and shipping. Read our full review of GlassesUSA here.A leather wallet that can be monogrammed with her initialsLeatherologyKlyde Continental Wallet, available at Leatherology (+ $10 for monogram), $120A sophisticated leather wallet instantly elevates a busy woman's everyday style and keeps her organized when she's constantly moving from place to place. You can get this leather wallet from Leatherology in 11 colors and three different personalization options. A luxurious bathrobeParachuteParachute Classic Bathrobe, available at Parachute, $99A plush bathrobe will make every shower feel like a trip to the spa. Parachute's soft Turkish cotton robe comes in four great colors: white, mineral, blush, and stone. This cozy gift for Mom will become her go-to pick. Read our full review of the Parachute Classic Bathrobe here.Luxe slippers with a cozy cashmere blendMargauxSlippers, available at Margaux, $158Made from a soft wool-cashmere blend and cushiony foam padding, Margaux slippers feel like stepping into a cloud. She'll enjoy wearing any of the three styles — Slide, Ballet, or Cozy — around the house.The gift of comfortable loungewearTommy JohnShop all women's loungewear and sleepwear, available at Tommy JohnTommy John E-Gift Card, available at Tommy John, starting at $25The Insider Reviews team is positively smitten with Tommy John's loungewear and underwear — so much so, we named the latter one of the best women's underwear brands in our buying guide, so you can be sure Mom will love it too.Alexa-enabled glassesAmazonEcho Frames Smart Glasses, available at Amazon, $154.99If your mom loves tech, she'll think these smart glasses are from the future. Amazon's Echo Frames allow for open-ear audio, hands-free calling, and access to thousands of Alexa's skills.Read our full review of the Amazon Echo Frames.A roomy work bag with tons of pocketsDagne DoverDagne Dover Allyn Tote, available at Dagne Dover, from $239Dagne Dover's Allyn Tote is a sophisticated and spacious work bag with a padded laptop sleeve, water bottle holder, and other thoughtful interior pockets that will keep her organized and always ready to go. A jewelry holderCatbirdCatbird Swan Ring Holder, available at Catbird, $32This ornate swan is a subtle jewelry holder that'll dress up any bathroom countertop or nightstand.Pearl hoop earringsMejuriMejuri Pearl Hoops, available at Mejuri, $65Get your mom a beautiful pair of earrings or a necklace with her zodiac sign that she can wear every day. Mejuri is a favorite jewelry startup of ours, so your Mom will likely enjoy this Canadian company's delicate jewelry, too.Read our full review of Mejuri here.A personalized T-shirtKnown SupplyKnown Supply Personalized Women's Fitted Crew, available at Known Supply, $32You can personalize this comfortable Pima cotton tee with "mom" or "mama" — or any other name that's under nine characters — in cute, loopy cursive. A crossbody bag with a hand-painted monogramClaire V.Claire V. Midi Sac, avaliable at Claire V., starting at $335 (+ $50 for hand-painted monogram)This leather crossbody bag comes in tons of colors and is great for travel and daytime outings — for an extra $50, you can customize it with a gold foil or hand-painted monogram. Popular leggings with a no-slip fitVuoriDaily Legging, available at Vuori, $84Vuori is well-known for its super-soft fabrics and flattering cuts, and the Daily Leggings are just another example. This style looks like a pair of joggers but fits like a pair of leggings. The high waistband and drawstring allow for a snug feel while the brand's smoothing technology gives an airbrushed appearance.Read more about the Daily Legging here.A pendant necklaceSet & StonesSet & Stones Cheyenne Mama Necklace, available at Nordstrom, $198Your mom will want to keep this pendant necklace very close to her heart. It'll sit lightly around her neck and be a subtle reminder of her special bond with you. Beauty gifts for MomA luxurious facial treatment deviceZIIPZIIP GX Series, available at ZIIP Beauty, $495Switch up her facial appointments with the ZIIP experience that beautifully improves your skin beyond your imagination with every use. The ZIIP devices employ energy from tiny electrical currents with a conductive gel to sculpt and tighten the skin for a radiant glow. A floral fragrance with a pear and white freesia scentJo MaloneEnglish Pear & Freesia Cologne, available at Jo Malone, $144If she prefers a light yet luscious fragrance, this Jo Malone perfume makes for a lovely layer. This floral perfume accentuates her style with a smell of autumn from the freshness of the pear and freesias along with the subtle woodsy scents.A face mask set for at-home spa daysfreshMini Loves Mini Masks Set, available at fresh, $56Moms need time to themselves, too, and these face mask minis will have her and her skin feeling rejuvenated. She can kick back and relax with one of the black tea masks, the clay mask, the rose mask, or even the sugar exfoliator.The weighted sleep mask that's the ticket to instant sleepAnthropologieNodpod Weighted Eye Mask, available at Anthropologie, $23.80Move over, weighted blankets. These eye masks have gentle weights with just the right amount of pressure to lull her to sleep. The four equally weighted pods let her rest easy no matter her sleep position. Custom haircare products that cater to her hair goalsFunction of Beauty/InstagramPersonalized 8 oz. Shampoo and Conditioner Set, available at Function of Beauty, $29.99Function of Beauty revolutionizes haircare by creating a custom line of shampoo and conditioner that's based on her hair type and goals. She can choose the formula's color and fragrance as well as add personalized details like her name on the bottle.Read our full review of Function of Beauty here.Tech Gifts for MomA voice-assisted remote for all her streaming needsAmazonFire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, available at Amazon, $24.99She can access hundreds of streaming services, including Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, and more, with this affordable entertainment hub. Plus, Amazon Prime members get unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV episodes with Amazon Prime Video. This model supports up to 4K Ultra HD. You can read more in our guide to the best streaming devices.The Amazon EchoAmazonAmazon Echo (4th Generation), available at Amazon, $54.99There's an ever-so-slight learning curve in figuring out what Amazon's Alexa can and can't do, but once that's passed, the Echo can forecast the weather, read an audiobook, order a pizza, tell jokes, or any number of things moms should find charming. Read our full review of the Amazon Echo (4th Generation) here.A waterproof Kindle PaperwhiteAmazonAmazon Kindle Paperwhite, available at Amazon, $129.99On the other hand, if she's tired of lugging around heavy hardcovers, the Kindle Paperwhite is an extremely thoughtful and practical gift for Mom. The latest version is waterproof, too, which is a huge bonus.Read our full review of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite here.A heated massager to melt the day awayAmazonInvoSpa Shiatsu Back, Neck, and Shoulder Massager, available at Amazon, $49.97After a long day, all she wants is some true relaxation to melt away the tension that's built up. While she can't get a real massage every day, you can give her this at-home shiatsu massager, which can give her a quality massage for much less.Read our full review of the InvoSpa Shiatsu Back, Neck, and Shoulder Massager here.A personalized video message from her favorite celebrityCameoPersonalized video message, available at Cameo, starting at $1When trying to think of a unique gift for Mom, one that might not immediately come to mind is Cameo. The online service has tons of famous people she might want a personalized video message from, like her favorite actor from "The Office" or most-loved musician. Whether it's for her birthday, Mother's Day, or a different milestone, there's something for everyone on Cameo, with all types of categories and price points to choose from.Read more about Cameo and how to use Cameo. Food gifts for MomA tasty baking cookbookAmazonDessert Person cookbook, available at Amazon, $22.24For the mom who adores baking, this dessert cookbook has plenty of baking recipes to satisfy the family's sweet tooth.  This cookbook offers recipes and guidance on how to bake sweet and savory treats whether it's a caramelized honey pumpkin pie or English muffins.  A delicious treat from Milk BarMilk Bar/Alyssa Powell/InsiderCheck out all the goodies in Milk Bar's Gift Shop starting at $39Milk Bar's treats will definitely satisfy her sweet tooth. Choose from a limited-edition Strawberry Shortcake Cake, the bestselling B'Day Truffles, and plenty more. We break down how to shop for Milk Bar online, here. Milk bar cakes topped our list of the All-Time Best things we've tested. Read our full review of Milk Bar.A wooden gift crate with 2 pounds of cheese insideMurray's CheeseMurray's Cheese Greatest Hits Gift Box, available at Murray's Cheese, $95Cheese lovers will find a lot to like in this wooden gift crate (yes, crate) from Murray's Cheese, which includes 2 pounds of English cheddar, brie, cave-aged Gruyere, and one-year-aged Manchego along with snacks to pair with each cheese: spiced cherry preserves, sea salt and olive oil crackers, and Marcona almonds. It's a mouthwatering gift for Mom that'll surely satisfy her cheese cravings. For more of the best from Murray's Cheese, check out our guide to the best cheeses you can buy online.Read our review of Murray's Cheese gift boxes.A cookbook for 'Girl Meets Farm' fansAmazon"Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from An Unlikely Life on a Farm" by Molly Yeh, available at Amazon, $19.54Not only does this cookbook contain more than 120 delicious recipes, you'll also find tons of personal stories and beautiful photos of Food Network star and award-winning blogger Molly Yeh and her family.A gift subscription to a popular coffee clubAtlas Coffee ClubAtlas Coffee Club 3-Month Gift Subscription, available at Atlas Coffee Club, $60If her veins run dark roast, a coffee gift won't go unused. We recommend a gift subscription to the Atlas Coffee Club, which curates a global selection of single-origin coffee that gets freshly roasted and shipped to your house from $9 per bag. Read our full review of the Atlas Coffee Club Subscription here.Wellness gifts for MomA water bottle that solves all pain pointsHydro Flask/Alyssa Powell/InsiderHydro Flask Wide Mouth Watter Bottle (32 oz), available at Hydro Flask, from $32.93Hydo Flask's products have a cult following for a number of reasons: The double-walled vacuum seal keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for hours on end, many products come with a lifetime warranty, and the bright colors add a bit of fun to something that's otherwise thought of as ordinary. You can hear more about why we love this water bottle, in our guide to the best travel mugs. Hydro Flask water bottles are one of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested.* Free shipping on all orders with code INSIDER at checkout. Code expires 1/31/22.A year-long MasterClass membership to learn new thingsMasterClassAnnual Membership, available at MasterClass, $180/yearMasterClass, unlike many competitors, follows a format that feels like a one-sided conversation with your favorite icons rather than a traditional academic setting. It's interesting — and you can go as deep (into reading materials) or shallow (listening to their insight while running errands) as you like to. An Unlimited Membership will give them access to all the site's classes for the year.The site hosts classes taught by well-known celebrities and industry leaders — from Neil deGrasse Tyson teaching Scientific Thinking and Communication to Malcolm Gladwell on Writing, Shonda Rhimes on Writing for Television, and Bob Iger on Business Strategy and Leadership.Read our full review of MasterClass here.A DNA test kit23andme23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA Test, available at 23andMe, $129This genetic test kit from 23andMe is a unique and cool gift idea for any mom who's interested in learning more about her family history.A 'book of the month' membershipBook of the MonthBook of the Month Monthly Membership, available at Book of the Month, $49.99If she loves to read and isn't ready to go 100% digital, a Book of the Month membership is the perfect gift. This gift membership gets Mom her pick of the best new books for $12.50 to $15 a month depending on the length of subscription you choose to give her (three, six, or 12 months). She can also request extra books if she reads more than one book a month. Barack Obama's bestselling bookJamie McCarthy/Getty Images"A Promised Land" by Barack Obama on Kindle, available at Amazon, $17.99If Mom likes to read, Barack Obama's bestselling book 'A Promised Land' is probably on her reading list. Instead of risking having a hard copy arrive late, you can gift her the Kindle version. A daily planner for the busy momAmazonPanda Planner Daily Planner 2021, available at Amazon. $19.97 Even the most organized mom could use the help of a trusty planner. This one from Panda Planner has monthly, weekly, and daily sections for all of her needs. She'll have her schedule, tasks, goals, and projects all in one place. We like the layout of this planner so much that we include it in our guide to the best planners.A yoga mat for the fitness enthusiastMandukaProLite Yoga Mat, available at Manduka, $99For the mom who doubles as a yogi, this mat has just the right amount of padding, is made of eco-friendly materials, and has a no-slip grip texture. It has even earned the title of best yoga mat overall in our guide to the best yoga mats.A fresh flower bouquetUrban StemsUrbanStems bouquets, available at UrbanStems, $40 and upWe've ordered bouquets from UrbanStems and it offers gorgeous flower arrangements, potted plants, and even dried bouquets, and they're delivered quickly, too. A bouquet of flowers is a classic gift for Mom that she'll love on any given day. Its bouquets are one of the best things we've ever tested.Read our full review of UrbanStems.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 23rd, 2021

I flew from New York to San Diego through Mexico using an obscure border loophole — here"s what it was like

Flying between two US cities via Mexico on a single ticket normally isn't allowed. But a new type of airport terminal makes it perfectly legal. Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/Insider Tijuana International Airport directly connects with the US through a private border crossing called Cross Border Xpress. The cross-border terminal allows travelers to access Tijuana International and its cheap fares to cities inside Mexico without having to enter Tijuana and deal with busy border crossings.  I put Cross Border Xpress to the test by flying from New York to Tijuana and immediately crossing back into the US.  Conventional wisdom dictates that the fastest way to fly between New York and San Diego, California isn't through Mexico. Such a routing on a single ticket isn't even legal thanks to federal cabotage laws.Rigucci/ShutterstockBut that's where Tijuana International Airport's new cross-border terminal comes in. Travelers can book flights to the airport and walk right into San Diego, without ever having to step foot in Tijuana itself.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderCross Border Xpress, as the private border crossing is known, is solely available to passengers flying in and out of Tijuana International, drastically reducing border crossing times for air travelers and taking the hassle out of flying out of Mexico's northwesternmost city.The Cross Border Xpress bridge over the US-Mexico border fence.BILL WECHTER/AFP/GettyThe terminal wasn't built as an alternative to San Diego International Airport so that Americans could fly between two US cities. Rather, it's meant to give travelers more options when flying to Mexico's interior including access to Mexico's ultra-low-cost airlines, and ultimately save them the international air travel taxes that drive up airfares.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderBut I wanted to test CBX to the extreme so I booked a ticket from New York to Tijuana through Mexico City just to use the crossing. Here's how it went.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderMy journey was simple: New York to Mexico City on Delta and Mexico City to Tijuana on Aeromexico. If I played my cards right, I wouldn't have to take one step inside Mexico beyond the two airports.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThere are no direct flights from New York to Tijuana and a stop in Mexico City was about the most direct routing I could get with the fewest connections. The total journey time was scheduled to be just shy of 12 hours.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderTaking a non-stop flight to San Diego is only around six and a half hours. But this was arguably the more interesting, and fun, option.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAlthough San Diego was my final destination, I still needed my passport as I'd have to legally enter Mexico. To the airport staff, I was just any old traveler flying to Tijuana.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThough, it's hard to believe that New York-Tijuana is a common routing because it's probably cheaper to fly direct to San Diego and cross the border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.The San Ysidro Port of Entry on the US-Mexico border.Thomas Pallini/InsiderMexico doesn't require a negative COVID-19 test to enter and neither does the US when crossing by land. Checking in for the flight was just a matter of checking my passport.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderTaking us down to Mexico City was a Boeing 767-300ER, Delta's workhorse wide-body aircraft. It was a small upgrade from the narrow-body Boeing 757 aircraft flying on the New York-San Diego route.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI even scored an upgrade to Delta's Comfort+ cabin, which is becoming increasingly hard to come by when traveling domestically.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI flew Delta as an elite status holder and saw how difficult it is to get coveted first class upgrades as travel returnsBut even though this was an international flight, Delta wasn't serving up any hot meals or special snacks. We might as well have been flying to San Diego.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderFlight attendants came around just after takeoff with a small snack basket, Options for Comfort+ passengers included chocolate chip cookies, potato chips, Kind bars, Biscoff cookies, and more.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderPassengers in regular economy class were just given the standard options including almonds and Biscoff cookies.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe flight itself was largely uneventful as we crossed the Gulf of Mexico bound for Mexico City. I used the time to get some work done and watch a movie.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderFlight attendants came around one more time around an hour before landing for the final drink service.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderMexico came into view shortly there after and we were greeted with some of the best views I've ever had as a traveler.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe rolling hills of Mexico City showed a side of Mexico that I had never seen before. This detour was worth it for the views alone.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderTouchdown in Mexico City marked the halfway point of the journey. The only things left to conquer now were a two-hour layover and a flight to Tijuana.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderBut until I could do that, I'd have to go through Mexican customs. Even though I was technically traveling between US cities, I'd still be entering Mexico when I touched down in Mexico City and there was no way around going through passport control.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThat was when I realized that it might sound odd if I had to explain why I was only going to be in Mexico for a few hours. But luckily, the border guard didn't ask too many questions.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAnd with the stamp of my passport, it was welcome to Mexico.Flying Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderConnecting at Mexico City International Airport was quite straightforward and required going through one more security screening and filling out a health declaration required for all domestic flights.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderMy flight to Tijuana was on Aeromexico, Mexico's flag carrier, with a flying time of around three and a half hours.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderBoarding required taking a bus to a remote gate away from the main terminal. It's arguably one of the worst ways to board a flight and almost always results in a delay.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAnd the flight to Tijuana was nearly fully loaded, meaning it would be a tight squeeze for the next few hours. All this I was willing to overlook, however, as it was my first flight on Aeromexico.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderMasks were required onboard, just like in the US, and numerous announcements reminded passengers to be mindful of their hygiene and well-being.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe Boeing 737-800 taking us north had a tired and old interior. It had seen better days, for sure.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI wasn't as lucky with getting an upgrade as I was on my previous flight, so back to row 25 I went.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe one upside to this old plane was that there were seat-back televisions at every seat.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderWe ended up departing late, as expected, due to the extra time it took to board the plane via buses.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderBut soon enough, we were airborne out of Mexico City bound for the furthest reach of Mexico.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderMexico City once again surprised and delighted with stunning views on takeoff.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderWe soon ascended above the clouds and flight attendants began the first of two beverage services. A standard offering of drinks, including alcohol, was served.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI opted for my drink of choice when flying, a club soda.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderSmall snack bags with mixed nuts were also on offer; though, that was about it for the entire flight.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe rest of the flight was spent watching movies and getting some work done. In-flight WiFi was also available through Gogo In-flight Internet.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe dirty airplane window and direct sunlight made it hard to sightsee on this flight but there were some good views of the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean to be had. It wasn't before long that we started to descend into a cloudy Tijuana.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderTijuana soon appeared from below the clouds and it couldn't have felt any more different from San Diego, just a few miles to the north. Whereas the approach into San Diego is lined with skyscrapers, the approach into Tijuana was mostly warehouses and shacks.Visiting the community of Nueva Esperanza in Tijuana, Mexico next to Amazon's new fulfillment center.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe flight had come to its end but my cross-border journey was just about to begin. We were just about in the US as Tijuana International is right on the borderline.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI could literally see the border wall from my seat on the plane. Before CBX, getting to the other side would've meant journeying by taxi or bus to one of the nearby border crossings.Flying Aeromexico from Mexico City to Tijuana, Mexico.Thomas Pallini/InsiderOnce in the terminal, I was practically taken by the hand and led to CBX thanks to the never-ending branding and signage guiding me to the entrance.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI used CBX, the private border crossing bridge that connects Tijuana airport with the US and found it's one of the best kept secrets for travelersTijuana International has clearly embraced CBX as part of its identity, to the benefit of travelers.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAnd I couldn't have been more impressed by the airport itself. It was very much a place that I wanted to spend more time in.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAmerica, however, beckoned and CBX signage guided the way to baggage claim, with no shortage of ticket kiosks and advertisements along the way.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI had bought my ticket through the CBX mobile application at a cost of $16 one-way. But getting a ticket was probably the easy part as even airlines sell tickets on their websites.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderOnly air travelers arriving into Tijuana can use CBX and keeping the entrance behind security helps prevent unauthorized users from making the crossing.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThere was a very short line to use the crossing and staff checked boarding passes and travel documents.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAn automated gate was the final hurdle before beginning the long walk back to the US.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderSign after sign said the same thing "US/Mexico border" with an arrow pointing straight, as if there was any other direction in which to walk.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThe last stop in Mexico was a small duty free shop, just like in the international departures section of an airport.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderAfter endless winding and turning, the border bridge appeared and the US was in sight.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderThere's even a plaque at the actual borderline to demarcate the boundary. It was undeniably a long way to go just to end up back in the same country.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderBut I knew I was home free when I saw the line for Global Entry had only one person in it.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderJust like that, I was back in the US. The US Customs and Border Protection agent only asked if I was bringing anything back from Mexico, and I was free to go after that.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderI got in my rental car and drove off towards San Diego, just 20 minutes away.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderIt was a long day but I would absolutely do it again if the price was right. These types of flying adventures make travel fun and now I can say that I've flown between New York and San Diego through Mexico.Using Cross Border Xpress at Tijuana International Airport.Thomas Pallini/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 4th, 2021

Buchanan: Return Of The "Law And Order" Issue

Buchanan: Return Of The "Law And Order" Issue Authored by Pat Buchanan, According to Gallup, on the issue of crime, President Joe Biden is 18 points underwater. While 57% of Americans disapprove of how he is handling crime, only 39% approve. Biden’s dismal rating was recorded before the verdict came in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial — not guilty on all five counts — a verdict Biden declared had made him “angry.” Biden’s rating also came before career criminal Darrell Brooks, free on $1,000 bail after running over his girlfriend, drove his Ford Escape into the Waukesha Christmas parade, killing six and injuring 60. Biden’s low rating on crime came before “flash mobs” of thieves in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York looted Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Apple, cleaning them out in minutes. It came before the guilty verdicts came in against the three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, the Black jogger, in Georgia. Media efforts to infuse a racial motive to Rittenhouse’s action, however, failed. Rittenhouse is white, as were the three rioters he shot. As were the lead prosecutor and his deputy. As were Rittenhouse’s defense attorney and his deputy. And as was the judge. Race never came up during Rittenhouse’s time on the witness stand. And nothing in his background suggests any link to “white supremacists,” as was insinuated by Biden, who has made no apology. But what these incidents, involving killings with racial connotations, portend is that crime, race, law and order will be blazing issues in 2022 and 2024. And as of now, Biden and his Democratic Party are not on the side of America’s majority. The latest statistics on homicide and murders for 2021 seem to guarantee that this mega-issue remains front and center. A day before Thanksgiving, The Washington Post reported that Washington, D.C., had recorded its 200th homicide this year, surpassing last year’s total five weeks before this year’s end. Homicides in 2020 were up 30% from 2019. Though Baltimore has a smaller population than D.C., there have been 300 killings there this year, half again as many as in D.C. In Philadelphia, America’s sixth most populous city, there have been 503 victims of homicides thus far in 2021, a new record. Who is doing all this shooting, knifing and killing on the savage streets of our great cities, and who are the principal victims? Heather MacDonald, among the nation’s foremost statisticians of crime, relates, using the figures for New York: “In 2020, blacks were over 72% of all shooting suspects; we know that from victim and witness descriptions. Whites were 1.4% of all shooting suspects … based on victim and witness descriptions.” “A black New Yorker is roughly 50 times as likely to commit a shooting as a white New Yorker. Blacks were 63.4% of murder suspects; whites, 6.3%. (That white share of homicide suspects represents domestic violence incidents, not street crime.)” Bottom line: Disproportionately, the perpetrators, the shooters and the killers in America, are Black. As are their victims. If Black Lives Matter wants to preserve Black lives, they should look to their own communities because that is whence almost all of the killers come. Indeed, of all of the Black folks who will have died of homicide or murder in D.C., Baltimore, Philly and New York this year, how many will have been shot or stabbed by Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, white vigilantes, white supremacists or rogue white cops? 2022 and 2024 could prove to be a political rerun of the mid-’60s. Then it was that “law and order,” a slogan liberals called code words for racism, helped propel conservatives to preeminence in the GOP and thence to national power. And between then and now, the similarities are many. Then, there were the riots in Harlem and Watts in 1964 and 1965, Newark and Detroit in 1967, and D.C. and 100 other cities after the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. During those years, there was also a national explosion in violent street crime. Then came the anti-war protests and riots, which kept Lyndon B. Johnson locked up in the White House in his final days in 1968 and tore apart the Democratic convention in Chicago. Today’s Democratic Party is associated with defunding the police, ending cash bail for arrested felons, emptying prisons, and embracing the BLM and antifa “social justice protests” of 2020 that often involved looting, arson and assaults upon police. As for Biden, the 2021 model bears little resemblance to the tough-talking Delaware senator who pushed the principal anti-crime bill of the 1990s and explained his approach in a 1994 Senate speech: “Every time Richard Nixon, when he was running in 1972, would say, ‘Law and order,’ the Democratic match or response was, ‘Law and order with justice’ — whatever that meant. And I would say, ‘Lock the S.O.B.s up.'” Today, the progressive wing of his party prevents Biden from taking that kind of stand. But that is what his country is calling for. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/30/2021 - 16:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021

Futures Slide As Dollar Jumps, Yields Rebound Ahead Of Massive Data Dump

Futures Slide As Dollar Jumps, Yields Rebound Ahead Of Massive Data Dump For the third day in a row, US equity futures have been weighed down by rising (real) rates even as traders moderated their expectations for monetary-policy tightening after New Zealand’s measured approach to rate hikes where the central banks hiked rates but not as much as some had expected. Traders also braced for an epic data dump in the US, which includes is an epic data dump which includes an update to Q3 GDP, advance trade balance, initial jobless claims, wholesale and retail inventories, durable goods, personal income and spending, UMich consumer sentiment, new home sales, and the FOMC Minutes The two-year U.S. yield shed two basis points. The dollar extended its rising streak against a basket of peers to a fourth day. At 730am, S&P 500 e-mini futures dropped 0.3%, just off session lows, while Nasdaq futures dropping 0.34%. In premarket trading, Nordstrom sank 27% after the Seattle-based retailer posted third-quarter results featuring what Citi called a big earnings per share miss. The company reported higher labor and fulfillment costs in the third quarter while sales remained stubbornly below pre-pandemic levels and profit missed analyst estimates. Telecom Italia SpA surged in Europe on enhanced takeover interest. Oil prices fluctuated as producers and major consuming nations headed for a confrontation. Other notable premarket movers: Gap (GPS US) sank 20% premarket after the clothing retailer reported quarterly results that missed estimates and cut its net sales forecast for the full year. Analysts lowered their price targets. Nordstrom (JWN US) tumbles 27% in premarket after the Seattle-based retailer posted third-quarter results featuring what Citi called a big earnings per share miss. Jefferies, meanwhile, downgrades the stock to hold from buy as transformation costs are rising. Guess (GES US) posted quarterly results which analysts say included impressive sales and margins, and showed the company navigating supply-chain issues successfully. The shares closed 9.2% higher in U.S. postmarket trading. HP (HPQ US) shares are up 8.4% in premarket after quarterly results. Analysts note strong demand and pricing in the personal computer market. Meme stocks were mixed in premarket after tumbling the most since June on Tuesday as investors bailed out of riskier assets. Anaplan (PLAN US) slides 18% in premarket as a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss wasn’t enough to stem a downward trend. Analysts slashed price targets. Autodesk (ADSK US) shares slump 14% in premarket after the building software maker narrowed its full-year outlook. Analysts are concerned that issues with supply chains and the pandemic could impact its targets for 2023. GoHealth (GOCO US) gained 8.4% in postmarket trading after the insurer’s CEO and chief strategy officer added to their holdings. As Bloomberg notes, investors are on the edge as they face a wall of worry from a resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe to signs of persistent consumer-price growth. Damping inflation is now center-stage for policy makers, with ultra-loose, pandemic-era stimulus set to be wound down. The slew of U.S. data as well as Federal Reserve minutes due today may provide the next catalysts for market moves. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index erased earlier gains of up to 0.4% to trade down -0.1%, with tech and travel and leisure leading declines. Miners gained 0.8%, tracking higher copper prices on easing concerns over Chinese demand, while travel stocks slid over 1% on prospects of harsher travel curbs: Italy and France are debating new measures to cope with Covid’s resurgence while Germany isn’t ruling out fresh curbs. Oil stocks rose 1.2%, set for their biggest jump in over a month, with crude prices inching higher as investors remained sceptical about the effectiveness of a U.S.-led release of oil from strategic reserves. Here are some of the most notable European equity movers: Mulberry shares surge as much as 24%, the most since March 12, after the U.K. luxury company swung to a 1H profit from a year earlier and reported an increase in sales. Telecom Italia shares rise as much as 10% following a Bloomberg report that KKR is considering to raise its offer for the company after top investor Vivendi said the bid was too low. However, the stock is still trading below the initial non-binding offer from KKR. Golden Ocean gains as much as 9.6%, most since Feb., after earnings. DNB says “Golden Ocean delivered solid Q3 results” and adds “Furthermore, guidance for Q4 should lift consensus estimates and solidify further dividend potential in our view.” Intertek shares gain as much as 6.7%, the most since May 2020, after the company issued a trading update. UBS says the company’s accelerating momentum and reiterated targets are “reassuring.” Aegon shares rise as much as 5.5% after Credit Suisse upgraded its recommendation to outperform from neutral and raised the PT to EU5.30 from EU4.00. IQE shares slump as much as 21% for the biggest intraday drop since March 2020, falling to their lowest level since June 2020 after the semiconductor company said it sees softening demand in 4Q. Genus shares fall as much 15% after the animal genetics firm lowered its FY22 earnings guidance, leading Peel Hunt and Liberum to cut estimates. European stocks are on course for weekly losses, as the return of COVID-19 curbs, rate hike and inflation concerns sparked fears of a weaker economic growth outlook. "There's a two-way pull between macro concerns and what's happening bottoms-up in terms of corporate profits," said Nick Nelson, head of European equity strategy at UBS, adding that while the third quarter has been one of the decade's best reporting seasons for Europe, macro concerns such as a rise in U.S. bond yields and COVID-19 cases have been holding stocks back. Earlier in the session, Asian equities declined, on track for a third-straight session of losses, as higher U.S. Treasury yields continued to weigh on technology stocks in the region. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid as much as 0.6%, with Japan stocks leading losses as traders returned from a holiday to access the prospect of tighter U.S. monetary policy to curb inflation. TSMC and Tencent were among the biggest drags on the regional gauge. READ: Samsung Plans $17 Billion Texas Chip Plant, Creating 2,000 Jobs The renomination of Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve chair earlier this week has sent U.S. 10-year Treasury yields to about levels near 1.65%, implying higher borrowing costs. That’s adding to concerns about weak earnings growth in Asia as well as ongoing supply-chain constraints. Investors will now turn their attention to U.S. gross domestic product data and FOMC minutes due out after Asian markets close Wednesday.  “A cautious tone may still seem to prevail for now,” Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia, said in a note. “Markets continue to shift their expectations towards a tighter Fed monetary policy.” New Zealand’s stock gauge added 0.6% after the central bank raised interest rates by 25 basis points, less than the 50 points that some economists had predicted. Singapore authorities, meanwhile, expect gross domestic product to expand 3% to 5% next year, a slower pace than this year as the country rebounds from the pandemic. Indian stocks fell ahead of the November monthly expiry on Thursday, led by technology companies. The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.6% to 58,340.99 in Mumbai to close at its lowest level in two months. The gauge gained 0.3% on Tuesday, snapping four sessions of selloff.   The NSE Nifty 50 Index declined 0.5% on Wednesday, reversing intraday gains of as much as 0.6%. Software exporter Infosys Ltd. was the biggest drag on both gauges and slipped more than 2%. Of the 30 shares in the Sensex, 21 dropped and nine rose.  Investors roll over positions ahead of the expiry of derivatives contracts on the last Thursday of every month. Fourteen of 19 sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. fell, led by a measure of IT companies. “The scheduled monthly expiry would keep the traders busy on Thursday,” Ajit Mishra, vice president research at Religare Broking Ltd. wrote in a note. “We suggest continuing with negative bias on the index while keeping a check on leveraged positions.” In Fx, the most notable movers was the drop in the kiwi: New Zealand’s currency ironically slid to the weakest in nearly two months and the nation’s bond rallied as the central bank’s 25 basis-point rate hike disappointed traders betting on a bigger increase. The central bank projected 2% benchmark borrowing costs by the end of 2022. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index advanced a fourth consecutive day as the greenback gained versus all Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen, which reversed its losses after falling to the lowest since March 2017. The euro underperformed, nearing the $1.12 handle amid broad dollar strength even before data showing German business confidence took another hit in November and amid renewed fears that Germany may be considering a full lockdown and mandatory vaccines. RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr said policy makers considered a 50bps move before deciding on 25bps, and he sees the OCR climbing to around 2.5% by end-2023.  Elsewhere, Turkey’s lira stabilized after Tuesday’s plunge. MSCI’s gauge of emerging-market stocks edged lower for a sixth session.   In rates, Treasuries were richer by 1bp to 2bp across the curve, paced by European bonds ahead of a raft of U.S. data preceding Thursday’s market close. 10-year Treasury yields were richer by ~1bp on the day at around 1.655%, slightly trailing bunds; most curve spreads are within a basis point of Tuesday’s close with comparable shifts across tenors. During Asia session, Treasuries were supported by wider gains across Kiwi bonds after RBNZ hiked policy rates, but still erred on the dovish side. Bunds remain supported during European morning as haven demand stems from prospect of a nationwide German lockdown. Italian bonds snapped a two-day decline. In commodities, oil futures in New York swung between gains and losses following an announcement by the U.S. and other nations of a coordinated release of strategic reserves. Focus now turns to OPEC+ on how the group will respond to the moves. The alliance has already said that such releases were unjustified by market conditions and it may reconsider plans to add more supply at a meeting next week. Base metals are well bid with LME nickel adding over 2% to outperform peers. LME copper rises over 1% to best levels for the week. Crude futures fade a modest push higher fading after a brief push through Tuesday’s best levels. WTI trades flat, having briefly printed above $79; Brent prints highs of $83 before fading. Spot gold holds a narrow range close to $1,790/oz To the day ahead now, and there’s a significant amount of US data ahead of tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday. That includes the weekly initial jobless claims, the second estimate of Q3 GDP, October’s personal income and personal spending, new home sales, and the preliminary October readings for durable goods orders and core capital goods orders. Over in Germany, there’s also the Ifo’s business climate indicator for November. Finally on the central bank side, there’s the release of the FOMC’s November meeting minutes, and speakers include the ECB’s Panetta and Schnabel, and the BoE’s Tenreyro. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.1% to 4,683.50 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.3% to 480.66 MXAP down 0.5% to 196.76 MXAPJ down 0.1% to 643.18 Nikkei down 1.6% to 29,302.66 Topix down 1.2% to 2,019.12 Hang Seng Index up 0.1% to 24,685.50 Shanghai Composite up 0.1% to 3,592.70 Sensex down 0.3% to 58,499.84 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.2% to 7,399.44 Kospi down 0.1% to 2,994.29 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $82.63/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,791.37 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.57 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.22% Euro down 0.2% to $1.1231 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Olaf Scholz is set to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor after forging an unprecedented alliance that aims to revamp Europe’s largest economy by tackling climate change and promoting digital technologies The European Commission is set to announce the recommendations for the entire EU as soon as Thursday, Politico’s Playbook newsletter reported, citing three unidentified officials and diplomats Italy’s government is debating tough new measures to stem an increase in coronavirus cases, which could include restrictions on unvaccinated people and be approved as soon as Wednesday The ECB’s pandemic purchasing program may enter a “waiting room” rather than be abolished completely once net purchases are set to end in March, Governing Council member Robert Holzmann said at briefing in Vienna The U.K.’s biggest business lobby group has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to back down in its dispute with the European Union over Northern Ireland and not follow through with threats to suspend parts of the Brexit divorce deal Polish central bank Governor Adam Glapinski said further weakening of the zloty wouldn’t be consistent with the country’s economic fundamentals, helping lift the embattled currency from 12-year lows The supply crunch that’s helped drive inflation to multi- decade highs shows some signs of easing in the U.S. -- but it’s still getting worse in Europe. That’s the takeaway from the latest readings on Bloomberg Economics’ new set of supply indicators The unraveling of the Turkish lira threatens to erode Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s grasp on the economy and is already emboldening his political opponents. Small protests erupted in Istanbul and Ankara overnight, calling for an end to economic mismanagement that’s unleashed rapid inflation and triggered the currency’s longest losing streak in two decades A more detailed breakdown of global news courtesy of newsquawk Asia-Pac equity indices were mixed following the choppy performance of their US counterparts where energy rallied despite the SPR announcement and tech lagged as yields continued to gain, with the latest RBNZ rate hike, as well as looming FOMC Minutes and US data releases adding to the tentative mood. ASX 200 (-0.2%) was rangebound with the index subdued by losses in tech and gold miners which suffered from the rising yield environment, but with downside cushioned by strength in the largest weighted financials sector and with outperformance in energy after oil prices rallied in the aftermath of the widely anticipated SPR announcement. The strength in oil was attributed to several reasons including a “sell the rumour/buy the news” play and expectations of a response from OPEC+, while an administration official kept the prospect of an oil export ban on the table which is seen as bullish as it would remove US supply from the global market. Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) was the laggard on return from holiday amid flows into the local currency and with reports also suggesting the BoJ is considering tweaking its pandemic relief program. Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.1%) swung between gains and losses with early indecision due to the broad tech weakness tech which was not helped by reports that Chinese cyberspace regulators and police summoned Alibaba (9988 HK) and Baidu’s (9888 HK) cloud unit for telecoms network fraud, although the losses for Chinese bourses were eventually reversed amid gains in the energy heavyweights and after a mild PBoC liquidity injection. Finally, 10yr JGBs opened lower on spillover selling from global peers but gradually pared some of the losses after rebounding from support at 151.50 and with the BoJ in the market for nearly JPY 1.5tln of JGBs with up to 10yr maturities. Top Asian News Shinsei Drops Poison Pill Against SBI in Japan Takeover Saga Morgan Stanley to Repay Hong Kong Staff $5,100 for Quarantine KKR, Equinix Among Suitors for $11 Billion Global Switch Japan to Issue $192 Billion in Debt for Stimulus: Nikkei European equities attempted to claw back some of the week’s losses (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.2%; Stoxx 600 -0.2%) at the open with Monday and Tuesday’s session dominated by ongoing COVID angst in the region. Lockdown measures were enough to see investors shrug off yesterday’s better-than-expected PMI metrics for the Eurozone with today’s slightly softer than hoped for German Ifo report having little sway on price action. Despite the upside seen at the open, optimism has faded throughout the session as speculation mounts over whether the announcement of the German coalition deal (set to be unveiled at 14:00GMT) could prompt further lockdown measures for the nation. Furthermore, reports note that the Italian government is debating potential restrictions on the unvaccinated; measures could be approved as soon as today. On a more positive footing French Finance Minister Le Maire says at the moment he does not see any need for further COVID-related restrictions in France. However, it remains to be seen how long this viewpoint can be sustained. Stateside, futures are a touch softer with losses across the majors of a relatively equal magnitude (ES -0.1%) in the final full session of the week ahead of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Given the shortened week, today sees a deluge of data from the US with releases including key personal income, spending and PCE data for October, a second look at Q3 GDP, final Michigan consumer sentiment data, as well as weekly jobless claims and energy inventory data. All of which is followed by the FOMC minutes from the November meeting. In a recent note, BNP Paribas stated it is of the view that equities will go on to provide the highest returns across asset classes in 2022 with the French bank targeting 5100 (currently 4690) for the S&P 500 by the end of next year. From a European perspective, BNP expects the Euro Stoxx 50 to close 2022 out at 4500 (currently 4300) with the market “too pessimistic” on margins; albeit the Bank concedes that the resurgence of COVID presents a risk to its view. Sectors in Europe are mostly constructive with Oil & Gas and Basic Resources underpinned by gains in the underlying commodities with the former continuing to garner support post-yesterday’s SPR announcement. The Travel & Leisure sector lags peers with the Travel element of the group hampered by reports that the European Commission is preparing new COVID travel recommendations for the whole of the EU. For Leisure names, Entain (-5.0%) and Flutter Entertainment (-3.0%) have been hit by news that over 160 UK MPs and peers are said to be demanding that online gambling limits are lowered. Finally, Telecom Italia (+9.7%) is the best performer in the Stoxx 600 after source reports suggesting that KKR is considering a higher bid for the Co. in an attempt to win over support from Vivendi.   Top European News Scholz Seals Coalition Deal to Become Next German Chancellor Italy Readies Curbs on the Unvaccinated as Covid Cases Rise Booking Agrees to Buy CVC’s Etraveli for About EU1.63b Orange CEO Convicted in $453 Million Arbitration Fraud Case In FX, the Dollar index has gained traction and continued its gains above 96.500+ status in early European hours before eclipsing resistance at 96.700 to a fresh YTD peak at 96.758, with US players also preparing to wind down for the long weekend. Before that, the Buck will be facing a plethora of Tier 1 US data, including Prelim GDP (Q3), weekly Jobless Claims, and monthly PCE in the run-up to the FOMC Minutes – which will be eyed for clues on what could warrant an adjustment of the pace of tapering (Full preview available in the Newsquawk Research Suite). On the downside, immediate support will likely be at yesterday’s 96.308 low before this week’s current 96.035 trough. In terms of early month-end FX flows (on account of the holiday-shortened week), Morgan Stanley’s model points towards USD weakness against most G10 peers. EUR, GBP - The single currency dipped a 16-month low just before the release of the German Ifo survey, which unsurprisingly voiced cautiousness against the backdrop of COVID and supply chain issues – with Ifo forecasting a growth stagnation this current quarter, whilst ING believe that today’s Ifo signals that “The risk of stagnation or even recession in the German economy at the turn of the year has clearly increased.” The currency came under further pressure in what coincided with reports that Germany is mulling a full COVID lockdown and mandatory vaccinations, although the piece failed to cite any sources nor officials and seemed to be more an extrapolation of recent remarks from the German Health Minister. EUR/USD fell through pivotal support at 1.1210 to a current low at 1.1206 ahead of 1.1200. Traders should also be cognizant of several chunky OpEx clips including EUR 1.3bln between 1.1195-1.1200. Ahead, the SPD, Greens and FDP set to unveil their coalition deal at 14:00GMT. ECB speak today include from the likes Schnabel after Panetta and Holzmann failed to spur action across EU assets. Elsewhere, the GBP/USD is flat intraday and saw little reaction to BoE Governor Bailey yesterday, suggesting he does not think the MPC will go back to a hard form of guidance and stated that it is not off the table that they give no guidance at all on rates. Bailey also stated that decisions are made meeting by meeting and that they have a very tight labour market. From a political standpoint, European Commission VP Sefcovic said EU-UK talks on Northern Ireland trade rules will probably drag into 2022. Cable remains within a 1.3353-89 range whilst EUR/GBP trades on either side of 0.8400. Looking ahead, BoE’s Tenreyro speaking at the Oxford Economics Society – with early-Nov commentary from the MPC member suggesting that monetary policy will have to bite if there are signs of second-round inflation effects, but policy cannot fix energy price spikes. NZD, AUD - The Kiwi stands as the G10 laggard following a dovish 25bps hike by the RBNZ, with the board citing optionality. Desks suggest that FX was clearly gearing for a hawkish surprise from the central bank, with markets pricing some 35% of a 50bps hike heading into the meeting given the inflation survey earlier this month. Money markets were also disappointed, with participants flagging that the 2yr swap fell over 15bps despite the RBNZ upping its 2023 OCR forecast to 2.3% (prev. 1.7%). NZD/USD fell further beneath the 0.7000 mark to a current 0.6957 low. AUD meanwhile sees its losses cushioned from another day of firm gains in iron ore, whilst cross-currency flows help the AUD/NZD test 1.0450 to the upside. Nonetheless, the cautious market mood keeps AUD/USD around the flat mark after the pair found support at 0.7200. JPY - The traditional haven outperforms as risk aversion creeps into the market. USD/JPY pivots the 115.00 market after hitting an overnight high of 115.23. Some desks suggest that offers are seen from 115.30 on Wednesday, with more around the 115.50 area, according to IFR citing Tokyo sources. In terms of notable OpEx, USD/JPY sees USD 1.7bln between 115.00-10. In commodities, WTI and Brent Jan futures consolidate following yesterday’s gains post-SPR announcement. The release disappointed the oil bears given the widely telegraphed nature of the announcement coupled with relatively small contributions from members. Desks have also highlighted that the reserves will need to be replenished at some time in the future, and thus, analysts have passed the effects from the SPR release as temporary; although, cautioning that if the desired impact is not achieved, then further action can be taken – with a temporary export ban still on the table. Meanwhile, on the demand side, futures dipped after CNBC reported that Germany could head into a full lockdown, but the piece did not make a mention of officials nor sources but seemed to be more an extrapolation of recent comments from the Germany Health Minister, with an announcement on this matter potentially to come today. Further, tomorrow could see revised travel guidance for the whole of the EU, according to Politico sources, although "The biggest overall change will be a move away from a country-based approach and to a person-based one, which takes into account a citizen’s individual COVID status." Despite this month’s European COVID developments, JPMorgan sees global oil demand growing by another 3.5mln BPD next year to reach 99.8mln BPD (280k BPD above 2019 level); 2023 demand is expected to average around 101.5mln BPD (1.9mln BPD above pre-COVID levels) and suggested that global oil demand is on track to exceed 2019 levels by March 2022 and strengthen further. As a reminder, next week also sees the OPEC+ meeting whereby the group is expected to continue with plans of monthly output increases of 400k BPD, with a risk of a more dovish decision and/or commentary. WTI Jan trades around USD 78.50/bbl (vs high 79.23/bbl) and Brent Jan around USD 82.25/bbl (vs high 83.00/bbl). Elsewhere, spot gold is interestingly unfazed by the rampant Dollar as prices remain caged within a cluster of DMAs (100 around 1,793, 200 around 1,791 and 50 around 1,788). Copper prices are again on the grind higher with LME around USD 9,800/t at the time of writing – with participants citing underlying demand, particularly from China. US Event Calendar 8:30am: 3Q GDP Annualized QoQ, est. 2.2%, prior 2.0% 8:30am: 3Q GDP Price Index, est. 5.7%, prior 5.7% 8:30am: 3Q PCE Core QoQ, est. 4.5%, prior 4.5% 8:30am: 3Q Personal Consumption, est. 1.6%, prior 1.6% 8:30am: Oct. Durable Goods Orders, est. 0.2%, prior -0.3% 8:30am: Oct. Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.5%, prior 0.8%; - Less Transportation, est. 0.5%, prior 0.5% 8:30am: Oct. Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.5%, prior 1.4% 8:30am: Oct. Retail Inventories MoM, est. 0.3%, prior -0.2%; Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 1.0%, prior 1.4% 8:30am: Oct. Advance Goods Trade Balance, est. - $95b, prior -$96.3b 8:30am: Nov. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 260,000, prior 268,000; Continuing Claims, est. 2.03m, prior 2.08m 9:45am: Nov. Langer Consumer Comfort, prior 50.7 10am: Oct. Personal Income, est. 0.2%, prior -1.0%; 10am: Oct. Personal Spending, est. 1.0%, prior 0.6% 10am: Oct. Real Personal Spending, est. 0.6%, prior 0.3% 10am: Oct. New Home Sales, est. 800,000, prior 800,000 10am: Oct. New Home Sales MoM, est. 0%, prior 14.0% 10am: Oct. PCE Deflator MoM, est. 0.7%, prior 0.3% 10am: Oct. PCE Core Deflator MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 0.2% 10am: Oct. PCE Deflator YoY, est. 5.1%, prior 4.4% 10am: Oct. PCE Core Deflator YoY, est. 4.1%, prior 3.6% 10am: Nov. U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 67.0, prior 66.8 10am: Nov. U. of Mich. 5-10 Yr Inflation, prior 2.9% 10am: Nov. U. of Mich. 1 Yr Inflation, prior 4.9% 10am: Nov. U. of Mich. Current Conditions, prior 73.2 10am: Nov. U. of Mich. Expectations, prior 62.8 2pm: Nov. FOMC Meeting Minutes DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap We’ve had a number of requests to bring back our Covid tables in the EMR. At the moment I’m resisting as they take a considerable amount of time. While we work out an efficient form of articulating the current wave on a daily basis, in today’s EMR we show graphs of the daily rolling 7-day cases and fatalities per million in the population for the G7. We’ve also included Austria, given how topical that is, and also The Netherlands, given mounting problems there. These act as a useful reference point for some of the more stressed countries. The cases chart should be in the text below and the fatalities one visible when you click “view report”. Germany is probably the main one to watch in the G7 at the moment and overnight reported 66,884 new cases (a record) compared with 45,362 the day before. A reminder that yesterday we published our 2022 credit strategy outlook. See here for the full report. Craig has also put out a more detailed HY 2022 strategy document here and Karthik a more detailed IG equivalent here. Basically we think spreads will widen as much as 30-40bps in IG and 120-160bps in HY due to a response to a more dramatic appreciation of the Fed being well behind the curve. This sort of move is consistent with typical mid-cycle ranges through history. We do expect this to mostly retrace in H2 as markets recover from the shock and growth remains decent and liquidity still high. We also published the results of our ESG issuer and investor survey where around 530 responded. Please see the results here. As we hit Thanksgiving Eve and a US data dump of a day given the holiday tomorrow, the big story over the last 2-3 business days has been real rates in the US. As recently as Friday, after the Austria lockdown news, 10yr real rates hit -1.2%. Yesterday they traded above -0.95% before closing at -0.97%, +4.0bps higher than the previous close. Our view in the 2022 credit strategy document is that credit is more tied to real rates than nominal rates and if the market attacks the Fed as we expect, then they should go up. However, note that I’ve also said I suspect they’ll stay negative for the rest of my career so while higher real yields are likely, I suspect that this is a trade rather than a structural long-term journey given likely long-term financial repression. Anyway, rising real yields, a fresh covid wave and belief over a less dovish Fed post the Powell reappointment saw a tough day for equities, especially in Europe, before the US managed to eke out a gain into the close. The S&P 500 (+0.17%) was up for the first time in 3 days, whilst Europe’s STOXX 600 (-1.28%) posted its worst daily performance in nearly 2 months. On a sector level, it was the same story in the US, where energy (+3.04%) shares benefitted from climbing oil prices and financials (+1.55%) gained on steeper and higher yields. Larger tech firms retreated on the higher discount rates, with the Nasdaq declining -0.50%. Meanwhile the VIX index of volatility was back above the 20-mark for the first time in over a month, coinciding with a broader tightening of financial conditions. However, we dipped back below 20 into the stronger close. Honing in on bonds now and there was a major selloff yesterday that hit a number of European countries in particular. By the close of trade, yields on 10yr bunds were up +8.1bps, which is their single-biggest daily increase in over a year, actually since the day we found out that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had proven successful in trials and was set to be rolled out. The move came about entirely due to higher real rates, with Germany 10yr inflation breakevens actually down -2.0bps on the day. Similar moves were seen elsewhere on the continent, with yields on 10yr OATs (+8.6bps) and BTPs (+10.5bps) seeing sharp rises of their own, which occurred in part on the back of stronger than expected flash PMI data raising the prospect of a quicker drawdown in monetary stimulus, not least with inflation still running some way ahead of the ECB’s target. For US Treasuries, yields were a touch more subdued, and the yield curve twist steepened. 2yr yields declined -1.8bp whilst every other maturity increased, and all tenors out to 7 years are at post-pandemic highs. The 5yr nominal yield increased +2.2bps to 1.34%. The 10yr was up +4.1bps to 1.67% due, as we discussed above, to real yields. 10yr breakevens were flat (+0.2bp) at 2.63%. The 10 year is 7.5bps off of 2021 closing highs and in the 430 plus business days since the pandemic started there have only been 14 days with a higher close than last nights. Elsewhere yesterday, we had an important piece of news on the energy front, as the US announced that it would be releasing 50m barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with the move occurring alongside similar decisions in China, India, Japan, South Korea and the UK. 32m of those 50m will be an exchange, whereby oil is released over the next few months that is then returned over the coming years, while another 18m are coming from an acceleration of an oil sale that Congress had already authorised. Oil prices rose following the release however, with Brent crude (+3.27%) and WTI (+2.28%) both seeing decent advances, in part because the contribution from other nations was smaller than many had anticipated, but also because the potential release from the SPR had been widely reported in advance, thus sending prices lower from their peak around a month ago. Even with the news, there’s no sign that inflationary pressures will be going away just yet, since much of what happens next will depend on the reaction of the OPEC+ group. If they move to cancel plans to increase production, then that could put upward pressure on prices again and help counter the impact of the move from the various energy consumers. And as we’ve been discussing, inflationary pressures have been widening for some time now, stretching beyond specific categories like energy and used cars to an array of other areas. Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly in the red with the CSI (-0.03%), Hang Seng (-0.06%), Shanghai Composite (-0.10%), KOSPI (-0.48%) and the Nikkei (-1.35%) all lower. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has raised interest rates for the second consecutive month and lifted the official cash rate 25bps to 0.75%. There was some who expected 50bps so bonds are rallying with 2yr and 10yrs -5.5bps and -7.5bps lower, respectively. The central bank were pretty hawkish in their comments though. US Treasuries are 2-4bps lower across the curve overnight as well. Staying on New Zealand, the country eased its travel restrictions by allowing fully vaccinated travellers (and other eligible travellers) from Australia without any isolation from Jan 17 and those from the rest of the world from February 14. Elsewhere, South Korea reported its highest ever daily new cases of 4,115 with 586 critical cases with the PM announcing the situation is "more serious than expected". Futures are indicating a slightly weaker start in the US and Europe with the S&P 500 (-0.24%) and DAX (-0.09%) lower. Over in Europe, there’s no sign of the pandemic letting up just yet, with French health minister Veran saying in parliament that “we are sadly well and truly in a fifth wave of the epidemic” as France announced 30,454 new cases yesterday. Austria has been the main country in the headlines recently as it moved into a nationwide lockdown, but the reality is that the trend lines have been moving higher across the continent, raising the prospect of fresh restrictions. In terms of yesterday’s developments, the Netherlands announced that social distancing would be reintroduced on a mandatory basis, and that people should stay 1.5m apart, and Poland saw the biggest daily increase in hospitalisations since April. Elsewhere, Slovakia’s PM said that he was considering following the steps adopted in Austria, and the outgoing Czech PM said that mandatory vaccines for the over-60s were being considered. In spite of the growing Covid wave across Europe, the flash PMIs released yesterday actually proved better than the consensus was expecting, and even saw something of an uptick from the October readings. The Euro Area composite PMI ended a run of 3 successive declines as it rose to 55.8 (vs. 53.0 expected), with both manufacturing (58.6) and services (56.6) rising relative to a month ago. And both the German (52.8) and the French (56.3) composite PMIs were also better than expected. On the other hand, the US had somewhat underwhelming readings, with the flash services PMI down to 57.0 (vs. 59.0 expected), as the composite PMI fell to 56.5. To the day ahead now, and there’s a significant amount of US data ahead of tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday. That includes the weekly initial jobless claims, the second estimate of Q3 GDP, October’s personal income and personal spending, new home sales, and the preliminary October readings for durable goods orders and core capital goods orders. Over in Germany, there’s also the Ifo’s business climate indicator for November. Finally on the central bank side, there’s the release of the FOMC’s November meeting minutes, and speakers include the ECB’s Panetta and Schnabel, and the BoE’s Tenreyro. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/24/2021 - 08:07.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 24th, 2021

A Brief History Of West African Slavery

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

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 20th, 2021

The 4 best Amazon Echo smart speakers and smart displays of 2021

Amazon's Echo devices come in many styles but all have Alexa built in. Here are the best Echo devices of 2021. Amazon's Echo devices combine reliable Alexa capabilities and easy-to-use smart-home features. The fourth-generation Echo is Amazon's best smart speaker, with good audio quality and a modern design. Read more about why you can trust our tech team to recommend the best products. Echo devices vary in size and price, but all have built-in support for Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant. Alexa's capabilities have significantly improved since its debut. You can ask Alexa questions, set timers, order products, control compatible smart home devices, and more just using your voice.You can also listen to Amazon Music, Spotify, and other music services. Some Echo speakers sound better than others, so you'll want to go with a larger model if you're planning on using yours to play lots of music. Certain Echo devices also have screens that can stream shows, display recipes, and even make video calls.While the newest Echo smart speakers and displays are Amazon's best so far, there are certain models that may be better suited for specific budgets and tasks. With that in mind, we selected the best Echo devices for a variety of needs. Buyers should also keep in mind that many of our picks are expected to go on sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so be on the lookout for deals.Table of Contents: Masthead StickyHere are the best Echo devices you can buy:Best Echo overall: Echo (fourth-gen)Best budget Echo speaker: Echo Dot (third-gen)Best Echo with a big screen: Echo Show 10 (third-gen)Best Echo with a small screen: Echo Show 5 (second-gen)Best deals on Amazon Echo smart speakers from this guideAmazon's Echo smart speakers are some of the most affordable and most widely-compatible smart gadgets on the market. As with all of Amazon's products, Echo speakers see discounts of $10 to $20 regularly and can sometimes be bundled with other smart home gadgets. The best deals tend to crop up during Prime Day, Amazon's yearly sales holiday. However, we expect some big discounts during Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well, and some great early deals are already available. Below, we gathered up the best deals on Echo products right now. Before any deal is featured here, we check the historical listing price on Amazon, the prices offered by competitors, and consult our in-house tracking spreadsheet.Here are the best deals we found on our Amazon Echo smart speaker picks.Echo (4th Gen) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Echo Dot (3rd Gen) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.Best Echo overallLisa Eadicicco/Business InsiderThe fourth-gen Amazon Echo features an updated design, improved sound, and Amazon's super-smart Alexa digital assistant built right into it.Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.7 x 5.2 inchesWeight: 34.2 ouncesColors: Charcoal, Glacier White, Twilight Blue, and Red (limited edition)Mute button: YesRead our Amazon Echo (fourth generation) reviewPros: Impressive sound quality, affordable, integrated Zigbee hub, 3.5mm port, attractive designCons: Amazon still saves your voice recordings by default, Google offers more color choices for its speakersThe fourth-generation Echo feels like a realization of everything Amazon has been building toward in previous models — a smart speaker that finds just the right balance between audio performance, price, and smart-home capabilities. Unlike the cylindrical design of older models, the latest Echo is shaped like a sphere with a flat bottom, making it look more like a glowing orb than a typical speaker.  Audio quality has been improved thanks to the addition of a second tweeter and new front-firing placement. Our reviewer notes that the fourth-generation Echo sounds better than its predecessor in every way, with louder, deeper, and more full-bodied audio.The new Echo also features an integrated Zigbee hub, which was something previously included only in the more expensive Echo Plus. Zigbee is a smart-home standard that accessories use to pair with one another. A third-generation Echo would have to talk to a separate smart-home hub to access and adjust some devices, like light bulbs. The new Echo can create a direct link without another hub. Alexa capabilities are built-in as well, enabling easy access to Amazon's reliable digital assistant. A blue light glows on the bottom when Alexa is listening. A handy microphone mute button is included for buyers concerned about privacy.On the downside, Amazon still uses your voice recordings by default to help improve Alexa's functionality. Thankfully, you can disable this from the Alexa app, under the Alexa Privacy section in the settings menu.Best budget EchoAmazonThe third-gen Echo Dot may be the entry-level option on this list, but it's still just as smart as its siblings. Plus, its small size is its biggest asset.Dimensions: 3.9 x 3.9 x 1.7 inchesWeight: 10.6 ouncesColors: Charcoal, Heather Gray, Plum, and SandstoneMute button: YesPros: Small, smart, affordable, works just as well as all the othersCons: Audio quality isn't as good as the standard EchoThough there's a newer fourth-generation Dot on the market, the third-generation Echo Dot is still the best budget Echo you can buy thanks to its lower price. For less than half the cost of the standard Echo, you get a hockey puck-sized gadget that can help you control your smart devices with your voice, answer questions, and connect to external speakers through a Bluetooth signal. The Echo Dot's best feature is definitely its small size. You can stick it just about anywhere, and because it has a similar microphone array as its bigger siblings, it won't have a problem hearing your requests. Whether you're going for subtlety or want the best way to dip your toe into the smart-home ocean, this is your best choice.Third-generation Echo Dots remain on sale at Amazon for a discounted price, but buyers should keep in mind that a fourth-generation model is available. The latest Dot features a spherical design and slightly improved sound quality, but overall performance is essentially the same.Since the third-generation Dot is less expensive and is likely to see big discounts for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we still recommend it over the fourth-gen version for budget shoppers. If you really prefer the newer model's orb-shaped look, however, it could be worth the extra money. Best Echo with a big screenAmazonThe Echo Show 10 can display information that its screenless siblings can only read to you, making it extra useful for timers and calendar events.Dimensions: 9.9 x 9 x 6.7 inchesWeight: 90.3 ouncesScreen size: 10.1-inch HD touchscreenMute button: Yes, along with built-in camera shutterRead our Echo Show 10 reviewPros: 10.1-inch screen, the ability to see Alexa's responses to you, ability to follow you as you move in your homeCons: Not entirely accurate in facing the right direction, higher price than the screenless optionsTo put it simply, this is an Echo with a 10-inch screen. It can do anything a standard Echo can, but it shows the information visually, in addition to audibly.For instance, if you set a timer you'll be able to watch it count down. You'll be able to see your calendar when you ask Alexa about your upcoming events, and you can even watch Prime Video, Hulu, and more.The Echo Show 10 is a particularly handy companion in the kitchen. If it'd help to see a measurement conversion instead of just hearing it said out loud (there are 16 tablespoons in a cup, by the way), the Echo Show is a really good option. You can also visually follow recipes, which is sometimes easier than audio. In February 2021, Amazon released the third-generation Echo Show 10. The device is a step up from its predecessor as its screen now has the ability to turn toward you when you say the wake word or engage in an activity. Its 13-megapixel camera can also center you in its frame for any video calls you make. Though beneficial in some cases, this new following feature is not always the most accurate and it takes some getting used to.Best Echo with a small screenAmazonThe Echo Show 5 has a smaller, 5-inch screen than the original model, making it perfect for use as a smart alarm clock on your bedside table.Dimensions: 5.8 x 3.4 x 2.9 inchesWeight: 14.5 ouncesScreen size: 5.5-inch touchscreenMute button: Yes, along with built-in camera shutterPros: 5-inch screen, the ability to see Alexa's responses to youCons: Camera is lower resolution than more expensive models, screen isn't HDThe Show 5 is the smallest Echo with a screen that Amazon sells. It has a 5-inch display, so it can show video content, security camera footage, and visual representations of Alexa's answers. It can also display the time, and you can use it to set alarms to wake you up in the morning, making it a great smart alarm clock for your bedside table.If you love the idea of seeing Alexa's responses to your questions and requests, but you want a smaller device, the Echo Show 5 is a great option. The latest second-generation Echo Show 5 launched in June 2021. Not much has changed compared to the first-gen version except for the camera. The new device has a 2-megapixel camera, a step up from the older model's 1-megapixel camera.If you can find the original Show 5 in stock and on sale for a good deal price, it's still a solid buy. But since they're usually priced about the same, the second-gen model is the one to get.What else we consideredChristian de Looper/Business InsiderEcho Dot (fourth generation):  Like the standard Echo speaker, the latest Echo Dot swaps out its old puck-shaped design for a new spherical shape. Despite the updated look, however, the new Echo Dot still uses a single 1.6-inch speaker driver. Though the new Dot is an impressive smart speaker in its own right, the less expensive third-generation model sounds very similar and is actually easier to wall mount. With that in mind, we still recommend the older Echo Dot as our top budget pick. Amazon also has a fourth-generation Echo Dot with Clock. As the name implies, this version adds a built-in digital clock, enabling customers to easily see the time or temperature. Read our Amazon Echo Dot (fourth generation) review here.Amazon Echo FAQsAmazonAre Amazon Echo and Alexa the same thing?Amazon Echo and Alexa are not the same thing, but the two are closely related. Echo is the brand name for Amazon's lineup of smart devices, while Alexa is the name of Amazon's digital assistant found in Echo devices. All Echo devices support Alexa, so it's best to think of Alexa as the primary feature of an Amazon Echo. What does the Amazon Echo do?Amazon Echo smart speakers and displays are capable of many useful features. Most notably, Echo devices include integrated support for Amazon Alexa. This enables Alexa voice commands so you can ask questions, set timers, check weather, get news updates, play music, and control other compatible smart devices.Do I need to have an Amazon account to use Echo?In order to set up and use an Echo device with Alexa you need to have an Amazon account. That said, Echo products don't require a paid membership to Amazon Prime. Buyers can simply use a free Amazon account to get started with the device and use its main features. Should I wait until Black Friday/Cyber Monday to buy an Amazon Echo? Amazon Echo devices get big discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you're planning to buy an Echo this holiday season, you should wait until these deal events to snag one for the best price.Echo devices also get deals on Prime Day, Amazon's annual sale that typically lands during the summer. If you miss out on a Black Friday deal, Prime Day is the next best time to get an Echo.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 18th, 2021

Tesla Recalls 7,600 Model S And X Vehicles For Potential Air Bag Issues

Tesla Recalls 7,600 Model S And X Vehicles For Potential Air Bag Issues Another day, another Tesla recall. This time the automaker is recalling 7,600 vehicles in the U.S. for "potential air bag issues" - and no, we're not referring to when Elon Musk takes the stage and lies spews hot air of his own about the company's next-to-be-released vehicle model or his vehicles' autonomous driving capabilities.  Instead, this recall is because the driver’s air bag cushion may tear during deployment, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Reuters.  The recall applies to some 2021 Model X and Model S vehicles.  Recall, last month, Tesla also recalled 2,800 vehicles for suspension issues. The recalls, announced by the NHTSA and reported on by Insider, were prompted by a suspension problem that could "increase the risk of crashes".  The suspension recalls affected some Model Y vehicles built in 2020 and 2021 and some Model 3 vehicles built between 2019 and 2021. Specifically, the issue was related to fasteners on the front suspension that could "shift the wheel alignment and make the vehicle unstable," the NHTSA said. An "abnormal noise may occur and be detectable by the customer from the front suspension," the NHTSA safety recall report says. Tesla said it would tighten or replace the lateral-link fasteners for free as a part of the recall. Good luck booking your appointment at a service center... These two recalls follow another two recalls in June: one for 8,000 vehicles with faulty seatbelts and another for loose bolts that could affect tire pressure.  Recall, the National Transportation Safety Board said that it was "deeply concerned" about Tesla's failure to respond to its safety recommendations last month. Last month the NTSB had also urged Tesla to address safety concerns associated with its vehicles already before expanding its self-driving features further. All of these recalls are starting to add up, no? Tyler Durden Thu, 11/18/2021 - 09:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 18th, 2021