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Woman describes "cruise from hell" after operator cancels sailings for "COVID-19 related circumstances" and holds passengers at sea for days

Aimee Focaraccio described the "extremely unsettling" feeling that set in after being told she would be stuck at sea for days A Norwegian cruise sip. The company blamed the sailing cancelations on issues related to COVID-19.Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images A cruise passenger who was stuck aboard Norwegian Gem for days recounted her experience.  Aimee Focaraccio told USA Today that she experienced a "cruise from hell."  She said she felt extremely unsettled after the operator canceled sailings and held guests at sea. A woman has recounted her recent experience on a Norwegian Gem cruise ship after being stuck on board for days, due to COVID-19-related issues. Speaking to USA Today, Aimee Focaraccio said she was due to celebrate her birthday on the 10-day cruise departing from New York. But her celebrations were cut short on Friday when Norwegian canceled sailings mid-trip. Focaraccio described the "extremely unsettling" feelings that came over her when cruise officials announced they would not be returning to New York early but instead be spending four more days at sea. Norwegian canceled the cruise due to "COVID-19 related circumstances" but Focaraccio was not aware of any announcements made about cases on the ship. She told the outlet that the trip was "turning into a nightmare" because there would only be "one nice day to enjoy the outdoors and after that we will be stuck inside.""This was kinda the cruise from hell," Focaraccio said. And even though passengers aboard the Norwegian Gem were given a full refund, plus additional cruise credit, Focaraccio said the "uncertainty was frustrating" after being stuck at sea with no plans for an early return. Norwegian did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.  In a statement to USA Today, the operator said there were no updates on the ship's estimated return. Passengers on other trips have recently shared how disruption caused by COVID-19 have impacted them. Some quarantined guests told The Washington Post they'd endured rotten food, hours without water, and loneliness.People travelling on Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 cruise ship said they felt "like lepers" while being forced to isolate in their rooms. And one passenger, who was booked to perform on an unspecified cruise ship, recently described the "panic and anxiety" she felt while isolating in her windowless cabin for six days.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 15th, 2022

Norwegian Cruise Line cancels sailings on 8 ships as far out as April amid Omicron surge

The cruise operator, headquartered in Miami, Florida, said in a statement the cancelations were due to "ongoing travel restrictions." Norwegian Cruise Lines is canceling sailings on eight ships.Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images Norwegian Cruise Line said cancelations of sailings on eight ships are due to "ongoing travel restrictions." Earlier this week, a voyage on the Norwegian Pearl was cut just after one day due to a crew outbreak. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended against cruise travel. Norwegian Cruise Line has canceled sailings on eight of its 17 cruise ships amid a surge in the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.The cruise operator, headquartered in Miami, Florida, said in a statement the cancelations were due to "ongoing travel restrictions."On Wednesday, the company canceled its Norwegian Getaway cruise, scheduled to depart from Miami, the same day it was expected to set sail. Several other canceled cruises were to embark in April. Affected guests will receive full refunds and credits for future cruises.The cancelations are on the back of the cruise line cutting short a voyage on the Norwegian Pearl on January 3 after one day due at sea due to "COVID related circumstances." There was a COVID-19 outbreak among the crew, the Miami Herald reported.Norwegian Cruise Line requires all guests and crew to be vaccinated, the company said in its cancelation notice. Guests must also be tested before embarkation.Norwegian Cruise Line did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended all travelers avoid cruising regardless of vaccinated status. It said the chances of passengers getting COVID-19 on a cruise ship are "very high," regardless of vaccination status. The CDC is also investigating over 90 cruise ships operated by companies including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney following a series of COVID-19 outbreaks. There were more than 5,000 coronavirus cases reported on cruise ships in the last two weeks of December — 31 times the number reported in the first two weeks of the month, the CDC told Insider's Brittany Chang in a statement.As a result of the Omicron wave, some cruise lines, including Norwegian, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean, have instituted mask mandates requiring passengers and staff to mask up while in public unless eating or drinking, or in uncrowded open-air areas of the vessel.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 6th, 2022

I went on my first cruise in 10 years aboard Celebrity Cruises" newest $1 billion ship and I"m still not convinced cruising is for me. Here"s why.

Celebrity Cruises is actively targeting the Generation X customers and I might've been too young to enjoy the new Celebrity Apex cruise ship. The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/Insider I attended the naming ceremony for Celebrity Cruises' new ship, the Celebrity Apex. The two-night sailing was my first cruise in about a decade, and my first time sailing as a solo adult. The cruise line is actively targeting Gen X customers, so unsurprisingly, the experience wasn't for me. At the beginning of this month, I attended the two-night naming ceremony for Celebrity Cruises' newest cruise ship, the Celebrity Apex.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderIt was my first time going on a cruise in over a decade, and my first time cruising as an adult.The Infinite Veranda stateroom on the Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe cruise ship itself was delightful, and the experience showed me how to appreciate the alluring and gluttonous nature of cruising.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut while the Apex taught me to respect what cruises have to offer, I bluntly don't see myself cruising for another few decades, if that.The Penthouse Suite.Brittany Chang/InsiderI don't remember how many times I've cruised in my life, but all of the times I did, I was a child with my family.The entrance into one of the restaurants.Brittany Chang/InsiderI'm sure I enjoyed spending vacation time with my family, but I can really remember about my cruising history were the buffets, the unlimited chocolate milk, some of the ports of calls, the warm weather, and feeling bored during days out at sea.Inside Eden.Brittany Chang/InsiderCruising on the Apex presented the opportunity to critically reconsider my opinion on cruises as an adult traveling alone during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut after two nights out at sea, my childhood opinion still holds steady: cruising just isn't for me yet.Inside Eden.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut my apathy towards cruising isn't related to Celebrity's Apex ship.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderIf anything, the ship curbed my negative, admittedly maybe pretentious, attitude towards cruises.A jewelry shop on the Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe only other cruise ship I've stepped foot on as a adult has been Virgin Voyages' new Scarlet Lady, which I got to tour — but not sail on — in September.The Scarlet Lady.Virgin VoyagesSource: InsiderAs a so-called "Zillennial," the Apex felt more Gen X friendly than the Scarlet Lady.The Penthouse Suite.Brittany Chang/InsiderThat isn't meant as an insult to Celebrity Cruises: The cruise line is actively trying to attract Gen X customers, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity Cruises' CEO, told Insider.The salon.Brittany Chang/Insider"They're the forgotten generation, they have all the money, and they care about the same things we do," Lutoff-Perlo said.Cyprus.Brittany Chang/InsiderI don't fall into the cruise line's target demographic, nor can I speak on behalf of the Gen X customers, but while I don't think cruising is for me, I did enjoy most of the Apex's services and amenities.The Infinite Veranda stateroom on the Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderFor one, I appreciated most of the artwork and decor around the ship, especially in the lush Eden restaurant, bar, and entertainment space. I want my apartment to look like Eden.Inside Eden.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd how could I hate on this martini bar located in the Grand Plaza, the heart of the ship.The Martini Bar.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe martini bar is just a few steps down from a craft beer and sports bar and an excellent coffee shop with rows of enticing pastries.The Craft Social Bar.Brittany Chang/InsiderI’m not a sports bar enthusiast, but I did appreciate the decision to include one. And if I had a group of friends with me, I could imagine all of us pretending to care about sports here.The Craft Social Bar.Brittany Chang/InsiderI didn't have time to go for a swim, but I could definitely picture myself lounging around the multiple pools — especially the adults-only Solarium — for a couple of hours.The Solarium.Brittany Chang/InsiderI did manage to carve out some time to go to the gym, which might have been my favorite part of the ship.The gym.Brittany Chang/InsiderRiding a Peloton while staring at the ocean is a kind of luxury I will likely never get again.The gym.Brittany Chang/InsiderHowever, while I respected the numerous dining options, I was never wowed by the food in the buffet or restaurants.Le Petit Chef and Family.Brittany Chang/InsiderMy meals were satisfactory, maybe good at best, but I didn't find anything to be too memorable.The buffet.Brittany Chang/InsiderHaving an unlimited supply of food felt luxuriously gluttonous, but I don't dream about any of the meals I had.Inside Eden.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd while the theater space was grand and the performers were undeniably talented, I wasn't too amused by the one show I saw on the first night (to be fair, I'm not a fan of most shows, plays, or musicals).A show in the theater.Brittany Chang/InsiderOverall, the one aspect of the sailing that has stuck with me the most has been the COVID-19 protocols, or maybe lack thereof.The Infinite Veranda stateroom on the Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderEvery guest on the ship was required to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. But given these circumstances, face masks weren't required.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderI was admittedly confused and anxious when a crew member said something along the lines of, "you can take your mask off now" the moment I stepped foot onto the cruise ship.The Magic Carpet.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd aboard the ship, the only reminders of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic were the masked crew members and occasional hand sanitizer dispensers dispersed throughout the Apex.The Rooftop Garden Grill.Brittany Chang/InsiderOther than that, I truthfully forgot there was a global pandemic ravaging outside the confines of the cruise ship.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderDespite the lack of robust masking and social distancing protocols, Brian Abel, Celebrity's senior vice president of hotel operations, believes cruises are the "safest place to take a vacation," he told Insider.The Theatre.Brittany Chang/InsiderThis strict vaccine and pre-boarding testing protocol doesn't exist widely in any other form of travel outside of the cruise industry. I was anxious to cruise at first, but this might've been the first time I've been in a space full of people who were all vaccinated and COVID-19 negative.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/Insider"It [is] safer to cruise than going to Walmart on Sunday," one passenger said during a question-and-answer session with several Celebrity Cruises executives.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderRegardless of the health protocols, I've realized that going on cruises just isn't my ideal vacation.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderExploring the Apex for the first time felt like I was walking around an adult amusement park with excellent service.The Grand Plaza and the Martini Bar.Brittany Chang/InsiderThere were so many food, beverage, entertainment, and shopping options within such a confined yet expansive space.Raw on 5.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut after I gawked at all the whimsical decor and logged all of my dining options, the giddy joy of exploring a new space wore off.The Rooftop Garden.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd soon, I remembered my biggest childhood gripe about cruising: how the hell am I supposed to keep myself entertained?The pool.Brittany Chang/InsiderI can only eat and drink so much, and I can only waddle and wade around the pool so many times.A whirlpool.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd I'm not easily enticed by much of what cruises have to offer, like shows, gambling, and luxury shopping.The casino.Brittany Chang/InsiderI was on the ship for work, so my work schedule and seasickness throughout the second day kept me occupied from morning through night.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut if I was on the Apex for a week-long vacation, I wouldn't know how to purposefully busy myself after day three.The track.Brittany Chang/InsiderThe ship offers several programs and entertainment options throughout the day, but none of them enticed me.The Rooftop Garden and track.Brittany Chang/InsiderAnd I'm okay with that. I know I don't fall in Celebrity's target demographic.The main pool.Brittany Chang/InsiderWhen I'm older, wiser, and more mature, maybe I'll learn to enjoy the opportunity to eat as much as I would like while lounging undistributed by the pool for hours on end.The Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderBut for now, I think I'll just respect it from afar.Inside Eden.Brittany Chang/InsiderI have no animosity towards Celebrity Cruises or people who enjoy cruising. I'm just not in Celebrity's target demographic yet.The Infinite Veranda stateroom on the Celebrity Apex.Brittany Chang/InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 12th, 2021

Stocks, Futures, Oil Tumble On Omicron Lockdowns, Manchin Shockwave

Stocks, Futures, Oil Tumble On Omicron Lockdowns, Manchin Shockwave Global stocks and US equity futures are sharply lower to start the otherwise very quiet holiday week, dragged lower by Manchin's shock decision to kill Biden's economic agenda (which Goldman said would cut US Q1 GDP from 3% to 2%), accelerating government measures to counter the fast-spreading omicron variant and fears over the growth outlook amid a tightening Fed. US equity futures tumbled almost 100 points from their Friday close (and more than 200 points from Thursday's all time high before paring some losses buoyed by optimism from news that Moderna’s booster vaccine increases antibodies 37-fold against omicron. Treasury yields also pared a sharp drop as low as 1.35% and the dollar held a jump from Friday, while crude oil slid on worries that mobility curbs to tackle the strain will hurt demand. As of 730am S&P 500 futures were down down 1.1%, Nasdaq 100 -1.3%, and Dow -1.0%. Global stocks have retreated from record highs in recent weeks amid concerns about Covid-19 hurting the economic recovery and as central banks pivot toward fighting inflation. Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said a faster wind-down of the central bank’s bond-buying program puts it in a position to start lifting interest rates as early as March. “In our view, markets can look through omicron concerns, and the gradual pace of monetary tightening won’t bring the equity rally to an end,” UBS Global Wealth Management wrote in a note. “Overall, the latest news does not change our outlook for equities.” Luke Hickmore, investment director at Standard Life Investments, also recommended buying the dip. “The prospects for growth will improve rapidly from here,” he said. “The market will likely see a recovery in the new year when liquidity returns.” In the weekend's biggest news, senator Joe Manchin blindsided the White House on Sunday by rejecting Biden’s $1.75 trillion tax-and-spending package, prompting a sharply critical statement from the White House which called Manchin’s decision a “sudden and inexplicable reversal.”  Biden and top Democrats must now regroup to see if a scaled-back version remains possible with little more than 10 months before midterm elections that will decide control of Congress. As noted late last night, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth for next year after Manchin’s move (more below). On Monday, Chuck Schumer said the Senate will still vote “very early” in 2022 on Biden’s economic agenda, although it was unclear just what the new plan will look like now that Build Back Better is dead. Not helping matters were the latest development in the Omicron front where the biggest European countries are introducing more curbs, with U.K. officials keeping open the possiblity of stronger measures before Christmas and the Netherlands returning to lockdown, even as Biden’s chief medical advisor said further U.S. lockdowns are unlikely. In some "good" news, said a third dose of its Covid-19 vaccine saw a 37-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies against omicron. Ironically. While investors remain on edge over the outlook for economic activity, there remains little evidence that the new variant causes illness as severe as the delta variant, especially among those already vaccinated. “The main reason behind the market sell off today is the rejection of Biden’s $2 trillion tax-and-spending package, which will lead to a reduction in U.S. economic growth forecasts,” said Michel Keusch, a portfolio manager at Bellevue Asset Management. “With trading volumes getting thinner and thinner into the year end, this is the catalyst creating some short-term nervousness.”  Then there are tightening concerns: the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase the pace of tapering last week is also adding to investor nerves about the outlook for 2022. And now, without either fiscal or monetary support, economists see a policy-induced slowdown in the economy where Goldman on Sunday cut its real GDP forecast for 2022: 2% in Q1 (vs. 3% prior), 3% in Q2 (vs. 3.5% prior), and 2.75% in Q3 (vs. 3% prior). One place which is convinced the Fed will not meet its targets it the bond market where traders of eurodollar futures price rates much lower than FOMC targets for the end of 2023 and 2024. Finally, as Bloomberg notes, there is also the issue of divergent global monetary policy to contend with, as the People’s Bank of China stepped up easing overnight with the first rate cut in 20 months. Looking at the premarket, travel stocks fell the most with United Airlines down 3.4% leading declines among major U.S. carriers, while a 4% slide in Royal Caribbean Cruises led the fall among cruise operators. Energy and industrial bellwethers also declined, with Chevron, 3M and Caterpillar falling over 2% each. Major U.S. tech and internet stocks slumped hitting shares in most highly valued names, as well as in cyclicals. Apple fell as much as 2.1% premarket while fellow large- cap tech names also drop, with Facebook-owner Meta Platforms down 1.9%, Alphabet -1.2%, Amazon.com -1.7%, Twitter -2.1%, Microsoft -1.6%. Here are some of the other big U.S. movers today: Major U.S. tech and internet stocks drop in premarket trading as risk appetite sours globally amid worries over further pandemic- related restrictions, hitting shares in most highly valued names, as well as in cyclicals. Shares in U.S. renewables firms drop in premarket after U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s surprise rejection of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion package. Moderna (MRNA US) rises 6% in U.S. premarket after the company said that a booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine increased antibody levels against the omicron variant. Society Pass (SOPA US) surges 22% in premarket after the loyalty platform operator said in a statement it has been added to the Russell 2000 Index. Boston Beer (SAM US) upgraded to hold at Jefferies following pullback of more than 60% in the shares related to “massive” reset in expectations for hard seltzers, removing the only negative rating on the stock. Shares up 0.3% on low volume in premarket. "After battling endless headwinds in recent weeks, markets have finally been knocked over as the rapid spread of Omicron finally reaches panic mode," Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, wrote in a client note. Europe's Stoxx 600 also stumbled, now down about 1.4% after falling as much as 2.6%, weighed down the most by travel and insurance. All sectors are in red. FTSE 100 recovers slightly as energy gets a leg up, but is still off by 1.2%. Dax -2%. Germany’s new coalition government picked Joachim Nagel, a Bank for International Settlements official, as the central bank’s next president. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks were set for the biggest drop since March, as the spread of the omicron variant and a surprising setback to U.S. President Joe Biden’s economic agenda forced traders to take bets off the table. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index sank as much as 2%, headed for its lowest close since November 2020, with tech and consumer shares the biggest drags. Relatively thin trading ahead of the year-end exacerbated declines in the region, as investors grapple with fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 and monetary policy tightening globally. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is down about 15% from a peak in February, compared with an 18% gain in the S&P 500. “Omicron’s spread over the festive holidays and Manchin” are driving the risk-off mood, said Wai Ho Leong, strategist at Modular Asset Management (Singapore). “But most of all, it is the lack of liquidity in all markets.” India was the worst performer around the region, with its benchmark index poised to enter a correction amid the spread of the omicron variant. Chinese stocks also dropped despite a cut to bank borrowing costs for the first time in 20 months In FX, the dollar reversed gains and was little changed. The pound fell in line with other risk- sensitive currencies as global market sentiment soured; gilts advanced. Hedging the major currencies over the next month comes at a similar cost, yet the pound turns expensive further out as it holds a higher beta on monetary policy divergence. The Australian and New Zealand dollars followed a broader move lower in commodity FX amid a slide in oil and stocks. The yen advanced with Japanese government bonds. The lira tumbled to another record low after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to continue cutting interest rates. In rates, Treasury yields fell by ~3bp in 5-year sector, steepening 5s30s spread by 3bp on the day as long-end yields were little changed; 10-year yields 1bp lower around 1.39%, outperforming bunds and gilts. Treasuries drifted higher Monday as global stocks extended losses. Gains were led by front- and belly of the curve, while eurodollars advanced and the amount of Federal Reserve rate-hike premium for 2024 and 2024 eased. Long-end lagged the move ahead of a 20-year bond auction Tuesday.  Bund and gilt curves are mixed. Italy lags in the peripheral complex, widening ~2bps to Germany. In commodities, Brent crude extends dropped to trade down as much as 5.3%, trading as low as $69.60/bbl before paring some losses, with Brent down 3% to $71 per barrel, and WTI -4% to around the $68-handle. Spot gold drifts below the $1,800-handle. Base metals complex under pressure; LME aluminum and nickel decline the most.  There is nothing on the economic calendar today except that Nov. Leading Index, which is estimated to print at  0.9%. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.6% to 4,535.75 MXAP down 1.8% to 187.95 MXAPJ down 1.8% to 607.98 Nikkei down 2.1% to 27,937.81 Topix down 2.2% to 1,941.33 Hang Seng Index down 1.9% to 22,744.86 Shanghai Composite down 1.1% to 3,593.60 Sensex down 2.0% to 55,848.23 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.2% to 7,292.16 Kospi down 1.8% to 2,963.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 2.2% to 463.29 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.40% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1259 Brent Futures down 3.9% to $70.67/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,800.19 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.61 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg President Joe Biden faces the unexpected task of quickly rewriting his policy agenda in a crucial election year after a key Senate Democrat abruptly rejected his signature $1.75 trillion economic plan Germany’s new coalition government picked Joachim Nagel, a former Bundesbank senior official, as the central bank’s next chief, according to a person with knowledge of the matter The ECB will not raise interest rates in 2022 if inflation behaves as expected, governing council member Pablo Hernandez de Cos told Expansion newspaper in an interview Europe’s biggest countries are introducing more curbs to fight a surge in Covid-19 infections, from another lockdown in the Netherlands to stricter travel restrictions at the height of the holiday period Chinese property stocks tumbled close to a fresh five-year low after a series of asset sales underscored concern that equity investors will bear the brunt of losses as developers offload projects to repay debt Chinese banks lowered borrowing costs for the first time in 20 months, foreshadowing more monetary support to an economy showing strain from a property slump, weak private consumption and sporadic virus outbreaks A more detail look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac equities traded mostly lower following the volatile session on Wall Street on Friday, which saw the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all posting varying degrees of losses, whilst the Russell 2000 outperformed with decent gains. Overnight, US equity futures opened with a mild upside bias, albeit the optimism faded in early trade as risk aversion materialised, with the ES Mar 2022 contract falling below its 50 DMA (4,596) whilst the NQ and RTY saw losses of over 1% apiece. Sentiment was hit by the slew of concerning COVID headlines over the weekend, whilst Friday saw further hawkish rhetoric from Fed officials - with Fed’s Waller suggesting the whole point of accelerating the bond taper was to make the March Fed meeting a live meeting for the first hike, and under his base case March is very likely for lift-off, although it could be pushed back to May. The ASX 200 (-0.3%) was pressured by some large-cap miners and banks, whilst the Nikkei 225 (-2.1%) and KOSPI (-1.8%) conformed to the downbeat tone, with upside in the former also capped by recent JPY strength. The Hang Seng (-1.9%) and Shanghai Comp (-1.1%) initially saw shallower losses after the PBoC opted to cut the 1yr Loan Prime Rate by 5bps, whilst the 5yr rate was maintained, although the property sector faced more woes after S&P downgraded Evergrande to Selective Default, whilst Kaisa shares slumped after trade resumed following a two-week hiatus, with the Co. in discussions regarding a debt restructuring plan. The Hang Seng dipped below 23,000 for the first time since May 2020. Elsewhere, US 10yr futures continued edging higher as APAC risk aversion supported the haven, whilst Goldman Sachs also cut its US real GDP Growth forecasts on the Build Back Better blockade. Top Asian News Coal India Defends Quality Level of Shipments After Complaints Hong Kong Eyes New Security Law After Electing Loyalist Council Asian Stocks Drop to Lowest in 13 Months on Virus Woes, Manchin Best Way for China to Lower Market Rates is to Sell Yuan: Nomura European bourses commenced the week on the backfoot, continuing the broad pressure seen in APAC trade, as focus is firmly fixed on the Omicron variant. The downside in APAC hours was also a feature of the choppy trade in the US on Friday, and amid non-COVID catalysts such as US Senator Manchin presenting a stumbling block to BBB which effectively ends the chances it can be passed this year, while hawkish central banks is also a theme traders are cognizant of for next year. Euro Stoxx 50 -1.4%, benchmarks are lower across the board as further COVID-19 restrictions are imposed/touted; thus far, the most stringent has seen the Netherlands return to lockdowns, while the likes of the UK and Germany are mulling measures. Vaccine producer Moderna (+5.5% in premarket trade) released preliminary booster data vs Omicron, which saw a modest paring of the risk-off conditions; the vaccine boosts neutralising antibody levels by 37-fold vs pre-boost levels. All sectors remain in the red however, with underperformance in those most exposed to COVID restrictions, such as Travel & Leisure, Oil & Gas and Autos. Individual movers were predominantly dictated by the broader price action; however, THG (+12.5%) is the morning’s outperformer following reports that a notable short on the name has removed its position. Meanwhile, US futures are softer across the board (ES -1.3%) ahead of a very sparse docket where focus will, as it is in European hours, centre around the fiscal narrative and COVID. On the latter, President Biden is due to speak on the situation on Tuesday, calling for individuals to get vaccinated. Top European News Johnson Appoints Truss to Key Brexit Role After Torrid Week Germany Picks Bundesbank Veteran Nagel as Central Bank Chief Czech Billionaire Family Faces Final Showdown Over Bank Merger Flashpoints That May Heal or Deepen the Lira’s Pain in 2022 In FX, the Dollar is mixed across the board, but retaining an upward bias overall amidst greater gains vs high beta, activity and cyclical currencies compared to losses against safer havens as broad risk sentiment sours on a number of factors, but mainly COVID-19. Hence, the index is holding quite firmly above 96.500 within a 96.504-680 range even though US Treasury yields are soft and the curve is marginally flatter, with traction or the Greenback coming via hawkish comments in wake of last week’s FOMC from Fed’s Waller who would not object to lifting rates as soon as tapering is done next March. Ahead, a very sparse Monday agenda only comprises November’s leading index. JPY/EUR/CHF/XAU - As noted above, risk-off positioning due to the ongoing spread of Omicron has prompted demand for the Yen, the Euro, with added momentum from bullish Eur/Gbp cross flows, plus the Franc and Gold to lesser extents. Usd/Jpy is tethered around 113.50 in response, though unhindered by imposing option expiries in contrast to last Friday and the headline pair capped by technical resistance in the form of 21 and 50 DMAs that come in at 113.77 and 113.83 respectively today. Meanwhile, Eur/Usd is back above 1.1250 amidst mixed ECB vibes as de Cos underscores guidance for no hikes in 2022, but sources say that GC hawks wanted explicit recognition of upside inflation risks and were shouted down by chief economist Lane. However, Eur/Gbp has bounced even more firmly from sub-0.8500 lows on what looks like a combination of early year end demand or RHS orders and Pound underperformance on pandemic, political and Brexit-related factors. Elsewhere, Usd/Chf is hovering mostly sub-0.9250 and Eur/Chf is pivoting 1.0400 with latest weekly Swiss sight deposits showing no sign of intervention and Gold is rotating around Usd 1800/oz after a false upside breach of Usd 1810, but not quite enough follow-through buying to scale another upside target circa Usd 1815. GBP/AUD/NZD/CAD - The major fall guys, as Sterling loses 1.3200+ status yet again on all the aforementioned negatives, and also feels some contagion from weakness in Brent, while the Aussie is straddling 0.7100, the Kiwi is trying to keep its head above 0.6700 and the Loonie contain declines through 1.2900 alongside the latest retracement in WTI. In commodities, WTI and Brent are also risk-off, moving in tandem with the equity action, on the COVID-19 narrative and implementation/prospect of further restrictions hitting the demand-side of the equation. WTI relinquishes USD 67.00/bbl and Brent gave up the USD 70.00/bbl level. In fitting the broader market move, some easing of the initial downside was seen post-Moderna’s update. Elsewhere, in crude specifics, Libya’s NOC confirmed reports that the Petroleum Facilities Guard was blocking several fields in the region; some suggest production of oil has dropped to 950k BPD due to losses of production at El Sharara field (estimated at 280k BPD). Elsewhere, OPEC+ compliance has reportedly increased marginally in November, in-fitting with the assessments in earlier sourced reports. In metals, spot gold and silver are contained on the session with little evidence of risk-off making its self-known at this point in time, with the yellow metal pivoting USD 1800/oz. Elsewhere, copper is impacted on the risk tone but offset somewhat by Chile’s President-elect Boric saying he will oppose the Dominga copper-iron mine project. US Event Calendar 10am: Nov. Leading Index, est. 0.9%, prior 0.9% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap As we arrive at the final week before Christmas, there’s plenty of newsflow from the weekend for markets to digest this morning. In particular, there was the announcement from the US that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia wouldn’t be able to support the Build Back Better Bill, which has been the subject of intense negotiations over recent weeks and marks a significant blow for President Biden’s economic agenda. Meanwhile on the Covid front, there was a further ratcheting up of concerns about the Omicron variant, with the Netherlands becoming the latest European country to go back into lockdown as of yesterday, as cases continue to spread elsewhere. But otherwise, the events calendar is looking fairly quiet for now in this holiday-shortened week, with just a few lower-tier data releases and the occasional central bank speaker. We’ll start with Omicron, since that remains one of the biggest issues for markets right now and has significantly clouded the outlook moving into year-end. In a nutshell, the news over the weekend from Europe has only pointed in the direction of further restrictions across multiple countries, with the Netherlands being the most severe as a full lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday that leaves just supermarkets and essential shops open, with even schools shut. When it comes to socialising, people will not be allowed to receive more than 2 visitors aged 13 and over per day, although over 24-26 December, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, this will be raised to 4 people. Elsewhere in Europe there was a similar pattern towards tougher measures, with the Irish PM announcing on Friday evening that there would be an 8pm closing time for bars, restaurants and theatres, among others, which would last from today until January 30. Over in Spain, Prime Minister Sánchez said in a televised address yesterday that he’d be meeting with regional leaders virtually on Wednesday to look at measures for the weeks ahead. In Italy, it’s been widely reported that the government is looking at further measures to contain the spread as well, and they’re set to meet on Thursday to discuss these, whilst here in the UK, Health Secretary Javid was not ruling out further restrictions this side of Christmas. Separately in the US, President Biden is set to deliver a speech tomorrow about Covid and the steps that the administration will be taking, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeting that Biden would also be “issuing a stark warning of what the winter will look like for Americans that choose to remain unvaccinated.” For those after a bit more optimism ahead of Christmas, then a couple of DB research notes out on Friday about the new variant will definitely be of interest. The first by FX Strategist Shreyas Gopal (link here) looks at London, which is the epicentre of Omicron infections in the UK, and tracks cases there against those in the South African province of Gauteng a couple of weeks back. The good news is that if the relationship is similar, then that does suggest a peak in cases soon. The other note comes from our head of rates research Francis Yared (link here) who shows that although deaths are starting to increase in South Africa, they’re currently on a much lower trajectory relative to cases compared to previous waves. An important question for markets is whether these patterns from South Africa can be extrapolated over to the advanced economies, which have much higher vaccination rates on the one hand, but also much older populations on the other, so there are factors that could push in either direction. Keep an eye out on these leading indicators from South Africa, as well as London, since they’ll have implications for what could occur in the coming weeks elsewhere. Away from Covid, the other main piece of news over the weekend came from the US, where the moderate Democratic senator Joe Manchin said that he couldn’t support the Build Back Better package that forms a key part of President Biden’s economic agenda, with much of his proposals on social programs and climate change. The news broke in an interview from Manchin on Fox News Sunday, when Manchin said “I can’t get there” when it comes to supporting the package, and follows direct negotiations that he’d been having with the president. Manchin’s support is crucial for the bill’s passage, since the Senate is split 50-50 between the Democrats and Republicans, with the Democrats having control only by virtue of Vice President Harris’ casting vote. So with zero Republican support for the package, that required every single Democratic senator on board with the proposals, giving Manchin enormous influence. A statement from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in response to Manchin did not sound impressed, saying that his comments “are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances.” It went on to say that “we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.” Nevertheless, Manchin’s own written statement wasn’t using the language of compromise, saying that his “Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face.” So the implication from Manchin is that Build Back Better won’t be happening this side of the mid-terms in its current form, and would require a fundamental rethink and meaningful slimming down were it to have any chance of passing. Those twin factors of further Omicron restrictions and Manchin’s announcement have weighed heavily on Asian equities overnight, with the Nikkei (-2.17%), KOSPI (-1.66%), Hang Seng (-1.44%), CSI (-0.98%) and Shanghai Composite (-0.75%) all moving lower. In India, the benchmark NIFTY is also down 10% from its peak in October, putting the index in correction territory. However, we did get a policy easing in China, with banks lowering the 1yr prime rate by -5bps to 3.8%. That move came alongside separate remarks from Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda, who said it was too early to think about policy normalisation, and that discussion should take place once inflation is closer to the 2% target. European and US equities are set to follow Asia lower later on, with futures on both the S&P 500 (-0.97%) and the DAX (-1.63%) both pointing lower this morning. And oil prices been struggling overnight as well in light of the recent virus news, with Brent Crude down -3.02% to $71.30/bbl at time of writing. Recapping last week now, and the main events were the array of central bank meetings ahead of the holidays. In the US, the Fed doubled the pace of their tapering as expected, which would bring net asset purchases to an end in mid-March, and the median dot now expects three rate hikes in 2022. By the close on Friday, Fed funds futures were pricing in a 55% chance of an initial hike by the March meeting, and an 87% chance of one by the May meeting. The ECB was then up next, and started a wind down of net PEPP purchases that are also set to finish in March next year. The ECB is cushioning the landing though, having moved to increase APP purchases until October next year after PEPP ends, following which they’ll maintain a pace of €20bn a month until shortly before liftoff. The ECB maintained some policy optionality through flexibility on PEPP reinvestments, which our Europe economists read as a commitment to smoothing the transmission of monetary policy. In the UK, the BoE hiked Bank Rate by +15bps to 0.25%. The MPC noted the decision was finely balanced due to Covid uncertainty, but the vote was still 8-1 in favour of a hike. Over in Japan, the BoJ rounded out the major DM central bank meetings, keeping rates unchanged and announcing a slow reduction in corporate debt holdings. At the same time, they extended a special covid loans program targeted at small and medium-sized firms to September 2022. When all was said and done, many sovereign bond yields actually ended the week lower, even with the hawkish pivot from the various central banks. 10yr yields on Treasuries (-8.2bps) and bunds (-3.1bps) both declined, although those on gilts did post a small +1.7bps gain over the week. Meanwhile growing Covid pessimism served to dampen risk appetite and send global equity indices lower last week. By Friday the S&P 500 (-1.94%) had fallen for the 3rd week out of the last 4, hampered by an underperformance from tech stocks that saw the NASDAQ (-2.95%) and the FANG+ index (-4.53%) both lose significant ground. Over in Europe the moves were smaller, albeit still lower, and the STOXX 600 ended the week -0.35%.   Tyler Durden Mon, 12/20/2021 - 08:02.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 20th, 2021

Risk Cracks After Moderna CEO Comments Spark Global Stock Rout

Risk Cracks After Moderna CEO Comments Spark Global Stock Rout Ask a drug dealer if methadone helps cure a cocaine addition and - shockingly - you will hear that the answer is "hell no", after all an affirmative response would mean the fixer needs to get a real job. Just as shocking was the "admission" of Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel, who in the latest stop on his media whirlwind tour of the past 48 hours gave the FT an interview in which he predicted that existing vaccines will be much less effective at tackling Omicron than earlier strains of coronavirus and warned it would take months before pharmaceutical companies could manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. “There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level . . . we had with [the] Delta [variant],” Bancel told the Financial Times, claiming that the high number of Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells, and the rapid spread of the variant in South Africa suggested that the current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year. Here, the self-serving CEO whose sell-mode was fully engaged - after all what else would the maker of a vaccine for covid say than "yes, the world will need more of my product" - completely ignored the earlier comments from Barry Schoub, chairman of South Afruca's Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, who over the weekend said that the large number of mutations found in the omicron variant appears to destabilize the virus, which might make it less “fit” than the dominant delta strain. As such, it would be a far less virulent strain... but of course that would also reduce the need for Moderna's mRNA therapy and so Bancel failed to mention it. What is grotesque is that the Moderna CEO’s comments on existing vaccines’ effectiveness against the omicron variant is “old news so should be a fade,” says Prashant Newnaha, a senior Asia-Pacific rates strategist at TD Securities in Singapore. Indeed as Bloomberg notes, Bancel reiterated comments made by Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton during the weekend. Alas, the last thing algos care about is nuance and/or reading between the lines, and so moments after Bancel's interview hit, markets hit risk off mode on Tuesday, and yesterday’s bounce in markets immediately reversed amid fresh worries about the efficacy of currently available vaccines with U.S. equity futures dropping along with stocks in Europe. Bonds gained as investors sought havens. After dropping as much as 1.2%, S&P futures pared losses to -0.7%, down 37 points just above 4,600. Dow Eminis were down 339 points or 1% and Nasdaq was down -0.8%. Adding to concerns is Fed Chair Jerome Powell who today will speak, alongside Janet Yellen, at the Senate Banking Committee in congressional oversight hearings related to pandemic stimulus. Last night Powell made a dovish pivot saying the new variant poses downside risks to employment and growth while adding to uncertainty about inflation. Powell's comments dragged yields lower and hit bank stocks overnight. “The market’s reaction to reports such as Moderna’s suggest the ball is still very much in the court of proving that this will not escalate,” said Patrick Bennett, head of macro strategy for Asia at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Hong Kong. “Until that time, mode is to sell recoveries in risk and not to try and pick the extent of the selloff” U.S. airline and cruiseliner stocks dropped in premarket trading Tuesday, after vaccine maker Moderna’s top executives reiterated that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may require new vaccines. Most U.S. airline stocks were down: Alaska Air -5%, United -3.2%, American -3%, Spirit -2.7%, Delta -2.6%, JetBlue -2.6%, Southwest -1.7%. Here are some other notable movers today: U.S. banks decline in premarket trading following comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that may push back bets on when the central bank will raise rates. Citigroup (C US) -2.4%, JPMorgan (JPM US) -2.2%, Morgan Stanley (MS US) -2.6% Vaccine manufacturers mixed in U.S. premarket trading after rallying in recent days and following further comments from Moderna about treating the new omicron Covid-19 variant. Pfizer (PFE US) +1.6%, Novavax  (NVAS US) +1.3%, Moderna (MRNA US) -3.8% U.S. airline and cruiseliner stocks dropped in premarket trading Tuesday, after vaccine maker Moderna’s top executives reiterated that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may require new vaccines. Alaska Air (ALK US) -5%, United (UAL US) -3.2%, American (AAL US) -3% Krystal Biotech (KRYS US) jumped 4.3% in postmarket trading on Monday, extending gains after a 122% jump during the regular session. The company is offering $200m of shares via Goldman Sachs, BofA, Cowen, William Blair, according to a postmarket statement MEI Pharma (MEIP US) gained 8% postmarket after the cancer-treatment company said it will hold a webcast Tuesday to report on data from the ongoing Phase 2 Tidal study evaluating zandelisib in patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma Intuit (INTU US) declined 3.4% postmarket after holder Dan Kurzius, co-founder of Mailchimp, offered the stake via Goldman Sachs In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index fell to almost a seven-week low. Cyclical sectors including retail, travel and carmakers were among the biggest decliners, while energy stocks tumbled as crude oil headed for the worst monthly loss this year; every industry sector fell led by travel stocks. Earlier in the session, the Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.6% while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.5% to finish at its weakest level since May 2016. Asian stocks erased early gains to head for a third day of losses on fresh concerns that existing Covid-19 vaccines will be less effective at tackling the omicron variant. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index extended its fall to nearly 1% after having risen as much as 0.8% earlier on Tuesday. The current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year, Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said in an interview with the Financial Times, adding that it may take months before pharmaceutical firms can manufacture new variant-specific jabs at scale. U.S. futures also reversed gains. Property and consumer staples were the worst-performing sectors on the regional benchmark. Key gauges in Hong Kong and South Korea were the biggest losers in Asia, with the Kospi index erasing all of its gains for this year. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 1.5% to finish at its weakest level since May 2016. The fresh bout of selling offset early optimism spurred by data showing China’s factory sentiment improved in November. “With the slower vaccination rate and more limited health-care capacity in the region, uncertainty from the new omicron variant may seem to bring about higher economic risks for the region at a time where it is shifting towards further reopening,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte. Asia’s stock benchmark is now down 3.5% for the month, set for its worst performance since July, as nervousness remains over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering schedule and the potential economic impact of the omicron variant. “Moderna is one of the primary mRNA vaccines out there, so the risk-off sentiment is justified,” said Kelvin Wong, an analyst at CMC Markets (Singapore) Pte. Liquidity is thinner going into the end of the year, so investors are “thinking it’s wise to take some money off the table,” he added Japanese equities fell, reversing an earlier gain to cap their third-straight daily loss, after a report cast doubt on hopes for a quick answer to the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Telecoms and electronics makers were the biggest drags on the Topix, which dropped 1%, erasing an earlier gain of as much as 1.5%. Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group were the largest contributors to a 1.6% loss in the Nikkei 225. The yen strengthened about 0.4% against the dollar, reversing an earlier loss. Japanese stocks advanced earlier in the day, following U.S. peers higher as a relative sense of calm returned to global markets. Tokyo share gains reversed quickly in late afternoon trading after a Financial Times report that Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said a new vaccine may be needed to fight omicron. “The report of Moderna CEO’s remarks has bolstered an overall movement toward taking off risk,” said SMBC Trust Bank analyst Masahiro Yamaguchi. “Market participants will probably be analyzing information on vaccines and the new virus variant for the next couple of weeks, so shares will likely continue to fluctuate on these headlines.” In FX, the dollar dropped alongside commodity-linked currencies while the yen and gold climbed and bitcoin surged as safe havens were bid. The yen swung to a gain after Moderna Inc.’s chief executive Stephane Bancel was quoted by the Financial Times saying existing vaccines may not be effective enough to tackle the omicron variant. Commodity-linked currencies including the Aussie, kiwi and Norwegian krone all declined, underperforming the dollar In rates, treasuries held gains after flight-to-quality rally extended during Asia session and European morning, when bunds and gilts also benefited from haven flows. Stocks fell after Moderna CEO predicted waning vaccine efficacy. Intermediates lead gains, with yields richer by nearly 6bp across 7-year sector; 10-year Treasuries are richer by 5.6bp at 1.443%, vs 2.5bp for German 10-year, 4.7bp for U.K. Long-end may draw support from potential for month-end buying; Bloomberg Treasury index rebalancing was projected to extend duration by 0.11yr as of Nov. 22. Expectations of month-end flows may support the market, and Fed Chair Powell is slated to testify to a Senate panel.       In commodities, crude futures are off their late-Asia lows but remain in the red. WTI trades close to $68.30, stalling near Friday’s lows; Brent is off over 2.5% near $71.50. Spot gold rises ~$11 near $1,796/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME zinc outperforms, rising as much as 1.6%.  To the day ahead now, and the main central bank highlight will be Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen. In addition, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Williams, the ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos, and the BoE’s Mann. On the data side, we’ll get the flash November CPI reading for the Euro Area today, as well as the readings from France and Italy. In addition, there’s data on German unemployment for November, Canadian GDP for Q3, whilst in the US there’s the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure for November, the FHFA house price index for September, and the MNI Chicago PMI for November. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.2% to 4,595.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.4% to 460.47 MXAP down 0.5% to 190.51 MXAPJ down 0.6% to 620.60 Nikkei down 1.6% to 27,821.76 Topix down 1.0% to 1,928.35 Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 23,475.26 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,563.89 Sensex down 0.2% to 57,122.74 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2% to 7,255.97 Kospi down 2.4% to 2,839.01 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36% Euro up 0.6% to $1.1362 Brent Futures down 3.0% to $71.26/bbl Brent Futures down 3.0% to $71.26/bbl Gold spot up 0.7% to $1,796.41 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.65% to 95.72 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Euro-area inflation surged to a record for the era of the single currency and exceeded all forecasts, adding to the European Central Bank’s challenge before a crucial meeting next month on the future of monetary stimulus. If the drop in government bond yields on Friday signaled how skittish markets were, fresh declines are leaving them looking no less nervous. One of Germany’s most prominent economists is urging the European Central Bank to be more transparent in outlining its exit from unprecedented monetary stimulus and argues that ruling out an end to negative interest rates next year may be a mistake. The Hong Kong dollar fell into the weak half of its trading band for the first time since December 2019 as the emergence of a new coronavirus variant hurt appetite for risk assets. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equities traded mixed with early momentum seen following the rebound on Wall Street where risk assets recovered from Friday’s heavy selling pressure as liquidity conditions normalized post-Thanksgiving and after some of the Omicron fears abated given the mild nature in cases so far, while participants also digested a slew of data releases including better than expected Chinese Manufacturing PMI. However, markets were later spooked following comments from Moderna's CEO that existing vaccines will be much less effective against the Omicron variant. ASX 200 (+0.2%) was underpinned by early strength across its sectors aside from utilities and with gold miners also hampered by the recent lacklustre mood in the precious metal which failed to reclaim the USD 1800/oz level but remained in proximity for another attempt. In addition, disappointing Building Approvals and inline Net Exports Contribution data had little impact on sentiment ahead of tomorrow’s Q3 GDP release, although the index then faded most its gains after the comments from Moderna's CEO, while Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) was initially lifted by the recent rebound in USD/JPY but then slumped amid the broad risk aversion late in the session. Hang Seng (-1.6%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) were varied in which the mainland was kept afloat for most the session after a surprise expansion in Chinese Manufacturing PMI and a mild liquidity injection by the PBoC, with a central bank-backed publication also suggesting that recent open market operations demonstrates an ample liquidity goal, although Hong Kong underperformed on tech and property losses and with casino names pressured again as shares in junket operator Suncity slumped 37% on reopen from a trading halt in its first opportunity to react to the arrest of its Chairman. Finally, 10yr JGBs were initially contained following early momentum in stocks and somewhat inconclusive 2yr JGB auction which showed better results from the prior, albeit at just a marginal improvement, but then was underpinned on a haven bid after fears of the Omicron variant later resurfaced. Top Asian News China’s Biggest Crypto Exchange Picks Singapore as Asia Base SoftBank-Backed Snapdeal Targets $250 Million IPO in 2022 Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Japan in Widening Spread Slump in China Gas Shows Spreading Impact of Property Slowdown Major European bourses are on the backfoot (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.5%; Stoxx 600 -1.5%) as COVID fears again take the spotlight on month-end. APAC markets were firmer for a large part of the overnight session, but thereafter the risk-off trigger was attributed to comments from Moderna's CEO suggesting that existing vaccines will be much less effective against the Omicron COVID strain. On this, some caveats worth keeping in mind - the commentary on the potential need for a vaccine does come from a vaccine maker, who could benefit from further global inoculation, whilst data on the new variant remains sparse. Meanwhile, WSJ reported Regeneron's and Eli Lilly's COVID antiviral cocktails had lost efficacy vs the Omicron variant - however, the extent to which will need to be subject to further testing. Furthermore, producers appear to be confident that they will be able to adjust their products to accommodate the new variant, albeit the timeline for mass production will not be immediate. Nonetheless, the sullied sentiment has persisted throughout the European morning and has also seeped into US equity futures: the cyclically bias RTY (-1.7%) lags the ES (-1.0%) and YM (-1.3%), whilst the tech-laden NQ (-0.5%) is cushioned by the slump in yields. Back to Europe, broad-based losses are seen across the majors. Sectors tilt defensive but to a lesser extent than seen at the European cash open. Travel & Leisure, Oil & Gas, and Retail all sit at the bottom of the bunch amid the potential implications of the new COVID variant. Tech benefits from the yield play, which subsequently weighs on the Banking sector. The retail sector is also weighed on by Spanish giant Inditex (-4.3%) following a CEO reshuffle. In terms of other movers, Glencore (-0.9%) is softer after Activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners called on the Co. to spin off its coal business and divest non-core assets. In a letter seen by the FT, Glencore was also asked to improve corporate governance. In terms of equity commentary, analysts at JPM suggest investors should take a more nuanced view on reopening as the bank expects post-COVID normalisation to gradually asset itself over the course of 2022. The bank highlights hawkish central bank policy shifts as the main risk to their outlook. Thus, the analysts see European equities outperforming the US, whilst China is seen outpacing EMs. JPM targets S&P 500 at 5,050 (closed at 4,655.27 yesterday) by the end of 2022 with EPS at USD 240 – marking a 14% increase in annual EPS. Top European News Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Japan in Widening Spread ECB Bosses Lack Full Diplomatic Immunity, EU’s Top Court Says Adler Keeps Investors Waiting for Answers on Fraud Claims European Gas Prices Surge Above 100 Euros With Eyes on Russia In FX, the Greenback may well have been grounded amidst rebalancing flows on the final trading day of November, as bank models are flagging a net sell signal, albeit relatively weak aside from vs the Yen per Cit’s index, but renewed Omicron concerns stoked by Moderna’s CEO casting considerable doubt about the efficacy of current vaccines against the new SA strain have pushed the Buck back down in any case. Indeed, the index has now retreated further from its 2021 apex set less than a week ago and through 96.000 to 95.662, with only the Loonie and Swedish Krona underperforming within the basket, and the Antipodean Dollars plus Norwegian Crown in wider G10 circles. Looking at individual pairings, Usd/Jpy has reversed from the high 113.00 area and breached a Fib just below the round number on the way down to circa 112.68 for a marginal new m-t-d low, while Eur/Usd is back above 1.1350 having scaled a Fib at 1.1290 and both have left decent option expiries some distance behind in the process (1.6 bn at 113.80 and 1.3 bn between 1.1250-55 respectively). Elsewhere, Usd/Chf is eyeing 0.9175 irrespective of a slightly weaker than forecast Swiss KoF indicator and Cable has bounced firmly from the low 1.3300 zone towards 1.3375 awaiting commentary from BoE’s Mann. NZD/AUD/CAD - As noted above, the tables have turned for the Kiwi, Aussie and Loonie along with risk sentiment in general, and Nzd/Usd is now pivoting 0.6800 with little help from a deterioration in NBNZ business confidence or a decline in the activity outlook. Similarly, Aud/Usd has been undermined by much weaker than forecast building approvals and a smaller than anticipated current account surplus, but mostly keeping hold of the 0.7100 handle ahead of Q3 GDP and Usd/Cad has shot up from around 1.2730 to top 1.2800 at one stage in advance of Canadian growth data for the prior quarter and month of September as oil recoils (WTI to an even deeper trough only cents off Usd 67/brl). Back down under, 1 bn option expiry interest at 1.0470 in Aud/Nzd could well come into play given that the cross is currently hovering near the base of a 1.0483-39 range. SCANDI/EM - The aforementioned downturn in risk appetite after Monday’s brief revival has hit the Sek and Nok hard, but the latter is also bearing the brunt of Brent’s latest collapse to the brink of Usd 70/brl at worst, while also taking on board that the Norges Bank plans to refrain from foreign currency selling through December having stopped midway through this month. The Rub is also feeling the adverse effect of weaker crude prices and ongoing geopolitical angst to the extent that hawkish CBR rhetoric alluding to aggressive tightening next month is hardly keeping it propped, but the Cnh and Cny continue to defy the odds or gravity in wake of a surprise pop back above 50.0 in China’s official manufacturing PMI. Conversely, the Zar is struggling to contain losses sub-16.0000 vs the Usd on SA virus-related factors even though Gold is approaching Usd 1800/oz again, while the Try is striving to stay within sight of 13.0000 following a slender miss in Turkish Q3 y/y GDP. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are once again under pressure amid the aforementioned COVID jitters threatening the demand side of the equation, albeit the market remains in a state of uncertainty given how little is known about the new variant ahead of the OPEC+ confab. It is still unclear at this point in time which route OPEC+ members will opt for, but seemingly the feasible options on the table are 1) a pause in output hikes, 2) a smaller output hike, 3) maintaining current output hikes. Energy journalists have suggested the group will likely be influenced by oil price action, but nonetheless, the findings of the JTC and JMMC will be closely watched for the group's updated forecasts against the backdrop of COVID and the recently coordinated SPR releases from net oil consumers – a move which the US pledged to repeat if needed. Elsewhere, Iranian nuclear talks were reportedly somewhat constructive – according to the Russian delegate – with working groups set to meet today and tomorrow regarding the sanctions on Iran. This sentiment, however, was not reciprocated by Western sources (cited by WSJ), which suggested there was no clarity yet on whether the teams were ready for serious negotiations and serious concessions. WTI Jan resides around session lows near USD 67.50/bbl (vs high USD 71.22/bbl), while Brent Feb dipped under USD 71/bbl (vs high USD 84.56/bb). Over to metals, spot gold remains underpinned in European trade by the cluster of DMA's under USD 1,800/oz – including the 100 (USD 1,792/oz), 200 (USD 1,791/oz) and 50 (1,790/oz). Turning to base metals, LME copper is modestly softer around the USD 9,500/t mark, whilst Dalian iron ore futures meanwhile rose over 6% overnight, with traders citing increasing Chinese demand. US Event Calendar 9am: 3Q House Price Purchase Index QoQ, prior 4.9% 9am: Sept. FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. 1.2%, prior 1.0% 9am: Sept. Case Shiller Composite-20 YoY, est. 19.30%, prior 19.66%; S&P/CS 20 City MoM SA, est. 1.20%, prior 1.17% 9:45am: Nov. MNI Chicago PMI, est. 67.0, prior 68.4 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Consumer Confidenc, est. 111.0, prior 113.8 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Present Situation, prior 147.4 10am: Nov. Conf. Board Expectations, prior 91.3 Central Banks 10am: Powell, Yellen Testify Before Senate Panel on CARES Act Relief 10:30am: Fed’s Williams gives remarks at NY Fed food- insecurity event 1pm: Fed’s Clarida Discusses Fed Independence DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Just as we go to print markets are reacting negatively to an interview with the Moderna CEO in the FT that has just landed where he said that with regards to Omicron, “There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level... we had with Delta…… I think it’s going to be a material drop (efficacy). I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good’.”” This is not really new news relative to the last 3-4 days given what we know about the new mutation but the market is picking up on the explicit comments. In response S&P futures have gone from slightly up to down just over -0.5% and Treasury yields immediately dipped -4bps to 1.46%. The Nikkei has erased gains and is down around -1% and the Hang Seng is c.-1.8%. This is breaking news so check your screens after you read this. In China the official November PMI data came in stronger than expected with the Manufacturing PMI at 50.1 (49.7 consensus vs 49.2 previous) and the non-manufacturing PMI at 52.3 (51.5 consensus vs 52.4 previous). The negative headlines above as we go to print followed a market recovery yesterday as investors hoped that the Omicron variant wouldn’t prove as bad as initially feared. In reality, the evidence is still incredibly limited on this question, and nothing from the Moderna CEO overnight changes that. However the more positive sentiment was also evident from the results of our flash poll in yesterday’s EMR where we had 1569 responses so very many thanks. The poll showed that just 10% thought it would still be the biggest topic in financial markets by the end of the year, with 30% instead thinking it’ll largely be forgotten about. The other 60% thought it would still be an issue but only of moderate importance. So if that’s correct and our respondents are a fair reflection of broader market sentiment, then it points to some big downside risks ahead if we get notable bad news on the variant. For the record I would have been with the majority with tendencies towards the largely forgotten about answer. So I will be as off-side as much as most of you on the variant downside risk scenario. When I did a similar poll on Evergrande 2 and a half months ago, only 8% thought it would be significantly impacting markets a month later with 78% in aggregate thinking limited mention/impact, and 15% thinking it would have no impact. So broadly similar responses and back then the 15% were most correct although the next 78% weren’t far off. In terms of the latest developments yesterday, we’re still waiting to find out some of the key pieces of information about this new strain, including how effective vaccines still are, and about the extent of any increased risk of transmission, hospitalisation and death. Nevertheless, countries around the world are continuing to ramp up their own responses as they await this information. President Biden laid out the US strategy for tackling Omicron in a public address yesterday, underscoring the variant was a cause for concern rather than panic. He noted travel bans from certain jurisdictions would remain in place to buy authorities time to evaluate the variant, but did not anticipate that further travel bans or domestic lockdowns would be implemented, instead urging citizens to get vaccinated or a booster shot. Over in Europe, Bloomberg reported that EU leaders were discussing whether to have a virtual summit on Friday about the issue, and Poland moved to toughen up their own domestic restrictions, with a 50% capacity limit on restaurants, hotels, gyms and cinemas. In Germany, Chancellor Merkel and Vice Chancellor Scholz will be meeting with state premiers today, whilst the UK government’s vaccination committee recommended that every adult be eligible for a booster shot, rather than just the over-40s at present. Boosters have done a tremendous job in dramatically reducing cases in the elder cohort in the UK in recent weeks so one by product of Omicron is that it may accelerate protection in a wider age group everywhere. Assuming vaccines have some impact on Omicron this could be a positive development, especially if symptoms are less bad. Markets recovered somewhat yesterday, with the S&P 500 gaining +1.32% to recover a large portion of Friday’s loss. The index was driven by mega-cap tech names, with the Nasdaq up +1.88% and small cap stocks underperforming, with the Russell 2000 down -0.18%, so the market wasn’t completely pricing out omicron risks by any means. Nevertheless, Covid-specific names performed how you would expect given the improved sentiment; stay-at-home trades that outperformed Friday fell, including Zoom (-0.56%), Peloton (-4.35%), and HelloFresh (-0.8%), while Moderna (+11.80%) was the biggest winner following the weekend news that a reformulated vaccine could be available in early 2022. Elsewhere, Twitter (-2.74%) initially gained after it was announced CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey would be stepping down, but trended lower throughout the rest of the day. The broader moves put the index back in positive territory for the month as we hit November’s last trading day today. Europe saw its own bounceback too, with the STOXX 600 up +0.69%. Over in rates, the partial unwind of Friday’s moves was even smaller, with yields on 10yr Treasuries moving up +2.6bps to 1.50%, driven predominantly by real rates, as inflation breakevens were a touch narrower across the curve. One part of the curve that didn’t retrace Friday’s move was the short end, where markets continued to push Fed rate hikes back ever so slightly, with the first full hike now being priced for September (though contracts as early as May still price some meaningful probability of Fed hikes). We may see some further movements today as well, with Fed Chair Powell set to appear before the Senate Banking Committee at 15:00 London time, where he may well be asked about whether the Fed plans to accelerate the tapering of their asset purchases although it’s hard to believe he’ll go too far with any guidance with the Omicron uncertainty. The Chair’s brief planned testimony was published on the Fed’s website last night. It struck a slightly more hawkish tone on inflation, noting that the Fed’s forecast was for elevated inflation to persist well into next year and recognition that high inflation imposes burdens on those least able to handle them. On omicron, the testimony predictably stated it posed risks that could slow the economy’s progress, but tellingly on the inflation front, it could intensify supply chain disruptions. The real fireworks will almost certainly come in the question and answer portion of the testimony. The bond moves were more muted in Europe though, with yields on 10yr bunds (+2.0bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+0.4bps) only seeing a modest increase. Crude oil prices also didn’t bounce back with as much rigor as equities. Brent gained +0.99% while WTI futures increased +2.64%. They are back down -1 to -1.5% this morning. Elsewhere in DC, Senator Joe Manchin noted that Democrats could raise the debt ceiling on their own through the reconciliation process, but indicated a preference for the increase not to be included in the build back better bill, for which his support still seems lukewarm. We’re approaching crucial deadlines on the debt ceiling and financing the federal government, so these headlines should become more commonplace over the coming days. There were some further developments on the inflation front yesterday as Germany reported that inflation had risen to +6.0% in November (vs. +5.5% expected) on the EU-harmonised measure, and up from +4.6% in October. The German national measure also rose to +5.2% (vs. +5.0% expected), which was the highest since 1992. Speaking of Germany, Bloomberg reported that the shortlist for the Bundesbank presidency had been narrowed down to 4 candidates, which included Isabel Schnabel of the ECB’s Executive Board, and Joachim Nagel, who’s currently the Deputy Head of the Banking Department at the Bank for International Settlements. Today we’ll likely get some further headlines on inflation as the flash estimate for the entire Euro Area comes out, as well as the numbers for France and Italy. There wasn’t much in the way of other data yesterday, though UK mortgage approvals fell to 67.2k in October (vs. 70.0k expected), which is their lowest level since June 2020. Separately, US pending home sales were up +7.5% in October (vs. +1.0% expected), whilst the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing activity index for November unexpectedly fell to 11.8 (vs. 15.0 expected). Finally, the European Commission’s economic sentiment indicator for the Euro Area dipped to 117.5 in November as expected, its weakest level in 6 months. To the day ahead now, and the main central bank highlight will be Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, alongside Treasury Secretary Yellen. In addition, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Clarida, the Fed’s Williams, the ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos, and the BoE’s Mann. On the data side, we’ll get the flash November CPI reading for the Euro Area today, as well as the readings from France and Italy. In addition, there’s data on German unemployment for November, Canadian GDP for Q3, whilst in the US there’s the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure for November, the FHFA house price index for September, and the MNI Chicago PMI for November. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/30/2021 - 07:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic The Friday after thanksgiving is called black Friday because that's when retailers finally turn profitable for the year. Not so much for market, however, because this morning it's red as far as the eye can see. The culprit: the same one we discussed late last night - the emergence of a new coronavirus strain detected in South Africa, known as B.1.1.529, which reportedly carries an "extremely high number" of mutations and is “clearly very different” from previous incarnations, which may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defenses according to South African scientists, and soon, Anthony Fauci. British authorities think it is the most significant variant to date and have hurried to impose travel restrictions on southern Africa, as did Japan, the Czech Republic and Italy on Friday. The European Union also said it aimed to halt air travel from the region. "Markets have been quite complacent about the pandemic for a while, partly because economies have been able to withstand the impact of selective lockdown measures. But we can see from the new emergency brakes on air travel that there will be ramifications for the price of oil," said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa. As a result, what was initially just a 1% drop in US index futures, has since escalated to a plunge of as much as 2% with eminis dropping the most since September, at one point dropping below 4,600 after closing on Wednesday above 4,700 as a post-Thanksgiving selloff spread across global markets amid mounting concerns the new B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant - which today will be officially called by the Greek lettter Nu - could derail the global economic recovery.  Russell 2000 contracts sank as much as 5.4%. Technology shares may be caught in the net too as Nasdaq 100 futures slid. The VIX increased as much as 9.4 vols to 28, it's biggest jump since January. It was last seen up 7.4 points, or the biggest increase since February. Adding to the pain, there is nothing on today's macro calendar and the US market closes early which will reduce already dismal liquidity even more, exacerbating some of the moves throughout the session. Headlines are likely to center on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically, as well as which countries "find" the Nu variant. Amid the panicked flight to safety, 10Y TSY yields tumbled as traders slashed bets on monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve (just hours after Goldman predicted that the Fed would double the pace of its taper and hike 3 times in 2022, oops) ... ... as did oil amid fears new covid lockdowns will lead to a collapse in crude demand (they will also certainly force OPEC+ to put on pause their plans to keep hiking output by 400K every month). Paradoxically, even cryptos are tumbling, which is surprising since even the dumbest algos should realize by now that a new covid outbreak means more dovish central banks, no tightening, and if nothing else, more QE and more liquidity which is precisely what cryptos need to break out to new all time highs. Cruise ship operator Carnival slumped 9.1% in premarket trading and Boeing slid 5.8% as travel companies tumbled worldwide. Stay-at-home stocks such as Zoom Video rallied.  Didi Global shares fell after Chinese regulators reportedly asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Here are some of the other big premarket movers: Airlines and other travel stocks slumped in premarket trading on growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant identified in southern Africa. The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from several countries in the area and the U.K. will temporarily ban flights from the region. United Airlines (UAL US) fell 8.9%, Delta Air (DAL US) -7.9%, American Airlines (AAL US) -6.7%; cruiseline-operator Carnival (CCL US) -12%; hotelier Marriott (MAR US) -6.1%; lodging company Airbnb (ABNB US) -6.9%. Stay-at-home stocks that benefit from higher demand in lockdowns rose in premarket, with Zoom Video (ZM US) gaining 8.5% and fitness equipment group Peloton (PTON US) +4.7%. Vaccine stocks surged in premarket, while Pfizer and BioNTech got an added boost after their coronavirus shot won European Union backing for expanded use in children. Moderna (MRNA US) rose 8.8%, Novavax (NVAX US) +6.2%, Pfizer (PFE US) +5.1%, BioNTech (BNTX US) +6.4%. Small biotech stocks gained in premarket as investors sought havens. Ocugen (OCGN US) added 22%, Vir Biotechnology (VIR US) +7.8%, Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE US) +5%. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks fell as Bitcoin dropped as investors dumped risk assets. Marathon Digital (MARA US) declined 9%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) -8.8%, Coinbase (COIN US) -4.6%. Didi Global (DIDI US) declined 6% in premarket after Chinese regulators were said to have asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Selecta Biosciences (SELB US) dropped 13% in Wednesday’s postmarket ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving closure, after saying the U.S. FDA placed a clinical hold on a trial. Quotient Technology (QUOT US) gained 3.9% in Wednesday’s postmarket on news that a board member bought $150,000 of shares. What happens next will matter and so, all eyes are on the opening bell for the U.S. markets, set to return from the holiday for a shortened trading session. Tumbling futures and a soaring VIX signaled that the rout in Asia and Europe won’t spare New York equities, while lack of liquidity will only make the pain worse. The Japanese yen emerged as the main haven currency of the day, with the dollar languishing. “Every trader in New York will be rushing to the office now,” said Salm-Salm & Partner portfolio manager Frederik Hildner, adding that news of the new variant could mean the end of the inflation and tapering debate. The worsening pandemic poses a dilemma for central banks that are preparing to tighten monetary policy to curb elevated price pressures, according to Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “It’s terrible news,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, said in emailed comments. “The new Covid variant could hit the economic recovery, but this time, the central banks won’t have enough margin to act. They can’t fight inflation and boost growth at the same time. They have to choose.” “We now have a new Covid variant that’s ‘very’ different from the ones we knew so far, a rising inflation, and a market bubble,” she said.  “The only encouraging news is the easing oil prices, which could tame the inflationary pressures and give more time to the central banks before pulling back support.” In the meantime, the World Health Organization and scientists in South Africa were said to be working “at lightning speed” to ascertain how quickly the B.1.1.529 variant can spread and whether it’s resistant to vaccines. The new threat adds to the wall of worry investors are already contending with in the form of elevated inflation, monetary tightening and slowing growth. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index headed for the biggest drop in 13 months plunging 2.7%; travel and banking industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down as much as 3.7%, the biggest intraday drop since June 2020. Airbus slumped 8.6% in Paris and British Airways owner IAG tumbled 12% in London, while food-delivery stocks gained.  Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Stay-at-home stocks and Covid testing firms such as TeamViewer and DiaSorin are among the biggest gainers as worries over a new Covid variant send the Stoxx 600 tumbling on lockdown fears TeamViewer and DiaSorin rise as much as 6% and 7%, respectively On the down side, travel and leisure stocks plunge, with the likes of IAG, Lufthansa and Carnival posting double- digit falls IAG drops as much as 21% Software AG shares rise as much as 9.5% after Bloomberg reported that the firm is exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, with Morgan Stanley saying the company’s biggest headwinds are behind it. Evolution gains as much as 4.6%, recouping part of Thursday’s 16% plunge, with Bank of America saying the share price’s “crazy time” amounts to a good buying opportunity. Skistar rises as much as 3.7%, bucking steep declines for travel and leisure stocks, after Handelsbanken upgraded the stock, saying bookings for the Scandinavian ski resort operator are “set to surge.” Telecom Italia climbs as much as 2.8% following a Bloomberg report that private equity firms KKR and CVC are considering teaming up on a bid for the company. ING Groep falls as much as 11% after Goldman Sachs analyst Jean-Francois Neuez cut his recommendation to neutral from buy. Getlink drops as much as 6% as French fishermen start protests aimed at stepping up pressure on the U.K. in a post-Brexit fishing dispute. Earlier in the session, MSCI's index of Asian shares outside Japan fell 2.2%, its sharpest drop since August. Casino and beverage shares were hammered in Hong Kong, while travel stocks dropped in Sydney and Tokyo. Japan's Nikkei skidded 2.5% and S&P 500 futures were last down 1.8%. Giles Coghlan, chief currency analyst at HYCM, a brokerage, said the closure of the U.S. market for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday had exacerbated moves. "We need to see how transmissible this variant is, is it able to evade the vaccines - this is crucial," Coghlan said. "I expect this story to drag on for a few days until scientists have a better understanding of it." Indian stocks plunged as the detection of a new coronavirus strain rattled investor sentiment globally, raising concerns over a likely setback to the nascent economic recovery.  The S&P BSE Sensex lost 2.9%, the most since mid-April, to 57,107.15 in Mumbai, taking its loss this week to 4.2%, the biggest weekly drop since January. The NSE Nifty 50 Index declined by a similar magnitude on Friday. Reliance Industries was the biggest drag on both measures and declined 3.2%.  “There is fear of this new variant spreading to other countries which might again derail the global economy,” said Hemang Jani, head of equity strategy at Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd.   Of the 30 shares in the Sensex index, 26 fell and 4 gained. All but one of 19 sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. retreated, led by a index of realty companies. The S&P BSE Healthcare index was the only sub-index to gain, surging 1.2%. While researchers are yet to determine whether the new virus variant is more transmissible or lethal than previous ones, authorities around the world have been quick to act. The European Union, U.K., Israel, and Singapore placed emergency curbs on passengers from South Africa and the surrounding region. Travel stocks were among the hardest hit. InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. fell 8.9%, Spicejet Ltd. slipped 6.7% and Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. plunged 11.2%, the most since March 2020.  “Nervousness on the new variant of coronavirus and expectations of the U.S. Fed increasing the pace of tapering have led to recent market weakness,” Amit Gupta, fund manager for portfolio management services at ICICI Securities Ltd. said. “This trend may take some time to recover as the WHO meeting on the new mutant variant impact and hospitalization rates in US and Europe will be watched by the market very closely.” Crude oil to emerging markets completed this picture of mayhem. In rates, fixed income was firmly bid as Treasuries extended their advance led by the belly of the curve, outperforming bunds, while money markets pared rate-hike bets amid fears that a new coronavirus strain may spread globally, slowing economic growth. Cash Treasuries outperformed, richening 12-14bps across the short end, with Thursday’s closure exacerbating the optics. As shown above, 10Y Treasury yields shed as much as 10 basis points while the Japanese yen jumped the most since investors’ March 2020 rush for safety. Yields across the curve are lower by more than 8bp at long end, 13bp-15bp out to the 7-year point, moves that if sustained would be the largest since at least March 2020 and in some cases since 2009. Short-term interest rate futures downgraded the odds of Fed rate increases. Gilts richened 10-11bps across the curve, outperforming bunds by 4-5bps. Peripheral and semi-core spreads widen. In FX, JPY and CHF top the G-10 scoreboard with havens typically bid. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed after earlier touching a fresh cycle high, and the greenback was mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers as the yen and the Swiss franc led gains while the Canadian dollar and Norwegian krone were the worst performers as commodity prices plunged. Traders pushed back the timing of a 25-basis-point rate increase by the Federal Reserve to July from June, with only one further hike expected for the remainder of 2022. It’s a similar story in the U.K. where the Bank of England is now expected to tighten policy in February instead of next month. Wagers that the ECB will raise its deposit rate by the end of next year have also been slashed, with only a six basis-point increase priced in, half of that seen earlier this week. The European Union is proposing to follow the U.K. in halting air travel from southern Africa after the new Covid-19 variant was identified there. The yen is at the epicenter of skyrocketing currency volatility as the new virus variant shakes markets. The cost of hedging against swings in the Japanese currency over the next week, which captures the release of the next U.S. payrolls report, is the most expensive in more than a year. In commodities, crude futures are hit hard. WTI drops over 7% before finding support near $73, Brent drops over 5% before recovering near $78. Spot gold grinds higher, adding $21 to trade near $1,809/oz. Base metals are sharply offered with much of the complex off as much as 3%. Looking at the otherwise quiet day ahead, data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.9% to 4,607.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 2.8% to 468.04 MXAP down 1.8% to 193.33 MXAPJ down 2.2% to 628.97 Nikkei down 2.5% to 28,751.62 Topix down 2.0% to 1,984.98 Hang Seng Index down 2.7% to 24,080.52 Shanghai Composite down 0.6% to 3,564.09 Sensex down 2.7% to 57,234.83 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.7% to 7,279.35 Kospi down 1.5% to 2,936.44 Brent Futures down 5.8% to $77.46/bbl Gold spot up 0.9% to $1,805.13 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.33% to 96.46 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro up 0.4% to $1.1259 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from southern Africa over growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant that’s spreading there, as the U.K. said it will also temporarily ban flights from the region Those close to the Kremlin say the Russian president doesn’t want to start another war in Ukraine. Still, he must show he’s ready to fight if necessary in order to stop what he sees as an existential security threat: the creeping expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a country that for centuries had been part of Russia Bitcoin tumbled 20% from record highs notched earlier this month as a new variant of the coronavirus spurred traders to dump risk assets across the globe Germany’s Greens tapped their two co- leaders to run the foreign ministry and take charge of an influential portfolio overseeing economy and climate protection in the country’s next government under Social Democrat Olaf Scholz A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets declined and US equity futures were also on the backfoot on reopen from the prior day’s Thanksgiving lull with markets spooked by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa that was first detected in Botswana. The new variant showed a high number of mutations and was said to be the most evolved strain ever which spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and is prompting both the UK and Israel to halt flights from several African nations. ASX 200 (-1.7%) was negative with heavy losses in energy and broad underperformance in cyclicals leading the downturn across all sectors, while the much better than expected Australian Retail Sales data was largely ignored. Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) underperformed and gave up the 29k status as selling was exacerbated by detrimental currency inflows and with SoftBank shares among the worst hit on reports that China is said to have asked Didi to delist from US exchanges on security fears, which doesn't bode well for SoftBank given that its Vision Fund is the top shareholder in the Chinese ride hailing group with a stake of more than 20%. Hang Seng (-2.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.7%) conformed to the risk aversion with the mood not helped by ongoing geopolitical concerns after a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson noted they are ready to crush Taiwan independence bid "at any time”, while China also said it opposes US sanctions on its companies and will take all necessary measures to firmly defend the rights of Chinese companies. Beijing interference further contributed to the headwinds amid the request by China for Didi to delist from US which reports stated regulators could backtrack on and with Tencent subdued after some Chinese state-run companies restricted the use of Tencent's messaging app. Top Asian News Stocks in Asia Set for Worst Day Since March on Virus Woes Mizuho CEO Steps Down After Regulator Hit on System Issues Meituan 3Q Revenue Meets Estimates Japan’s Kishida Delivers $316 billion Extra Budget for Recovery European equities are trading markedly lower (Stoxx 600 -2.9%) with losses in the Stoxx 600 extending to 3.8% WTD. Sentiment throughout the week has been hampered by various lockdown measures imposed across the region with the latest leg lower accelerated by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa. The new variant has shown a high number of mutations and is said to be the most evolved strain so far. This has spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and has prompted multiple nations to halt flights from several African nations.The handover from the overnight session was an equally downbeat one with the Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) dealt a hammer blow by the risk environment and unfavourable currency flows. Stateside, futures are lower across the board with the RTY the clear laggard with losses of 4.2% compared to the ES -1.8%, whilst the tech-heavy NQ is faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1.6%. Note, early closures in the US and subsequent liquidity conditions could exacerbate some of the moves throughout the session. With the macro calendar light, focus for the session is likely to centre on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically. Any further clarity on the spread of the variant and its potential to evade vaccines will be of great interest to the market and likely be the main driving force of price action today. Sectors in Europe are lower across the board with the Stoxx 600 Banking (-5.1%) sector bottom of the pile amid the declines seen in global bond yields as markets scale back expectations of central bank tightening (e.g. pricing now assigns a 63% chance of a 15bps hike by the BoE next month vs. 93% a week ago). Oil & Gas names (-4.8%) are suffering on account of the declines in the crude space with WTI crude in freefall with losses of 6.7% given the potential impact of travel restrictions on demand. Travel restrictions on South Africa (from UK, Israel, EU et al) and the potential for further announcements has crushed the Travel & Leisure sector (-5.7%) with airline names dealt a hammer blow; IAG (-13.5%), easyJet (-11%), Deutsche Lufthansa (-12%), Air France (-9.5%). Elsewhere, there are a whole raft of other laggards which are very much in-fitting with the March 2020 playbook but there are simply too many to list for the purpose of this report. Defensives and Tech are faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1% and 1.9% respectively. Finally, for anyone wanting some positivity from today’s session, the potential for further lockdowns has proved to be beneficial for the likes of HelloFresh (+3.2%), Ocado (+2.1%) and Delivery Hero (+1.9%). Top European News Airlines Skid on South Africa Travel Bans Tied to Variant German Coalition Proposes a Combustion-Car Ban Without Saying So Putin Pushes Confrontation With NATO as Hardliners Prevail Siemens Is Said to Kick Off Sale of Postal Logistics Business In FX, the index has been under pressure in the risk-averse environment amid a slump in yields and gains in its basket components – namely the JPY, CHF, EUR (see below) – and with liquidity also thinned by Thanksgiving. From a technical perspective, the index has declined from its 96.787 overnight high, through the 96.500 mark, to a low of 96.332 – with the weekly trough at 96.035. Ahead, the US calendar is once again light, with the US also poised for an early Thanksgiving closure; thus, impulses will likely be derived from the macro environment. JPY, CHF, EUR - Haven FX JPY and CHF are the clear outperformers as a function of risk-related inflows. USD/JPY has retreated from a 115.37 peak and fell through its 21 DMA (114.15) to a base around 113.66 - with the current weekly low around 113.64. USD/CHF retreated from 0.9360 to 0.9260 – with the 50 and 100 DMAs seen at 0.9234 and 0.9219, respectively, ahead of 0.9200. EUR/USD meanwhile gains on what is seemingly an unwind of the carry trade amid a spike in volatility. EUR/USD found support near 1.1200 before rebounding to a current 1.1288 peak. AUD, NZD, CAD, GBP - The non-US Dollar risk currencies bear the brunt of the latest market downturn, with losses across industrial commodities not helping. The Loonie has taken the spot as the biggest G10 loser as hefty COVID-induced losses in the oil complex keep the currency suppressed. USD/CAD trades towards the top of a current 1.2647-2774 range. AUD is also weighed on by softer base metal prices – AUD/USD fell from a 0.7200 overnight high to a current low at 0.7110. On that note, Westpac sees AUD/USD pushed down to 0.7000 by Jun 2022 (prev. 0.7700) amid rate differentials with the US; Westpac made significant changes to its FOMC policy forecast and now expect consecutive increases in the fed funds rate in Jun, Sept, and Dec 2022. NZD/USD is slightly more cushioned amid smaller exposure to commodities, and as the AUD/NZD cross takes aim at 1.0450 to the downside. GBP, meanwhile, was initially among the losers amid its high-beta status but thereafter nursed losses in a move that coincided with EUR/GBP rejecting an upside breach of its 21 DMA at 0.8475. EM - The ZAR is the standout laggard given the new South African COVID variant - B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant (expected to be named Nu) – which is said to be the most evolved strain so far and thus prompted several countries to halt travel to the country of origin. USD/ZAR currently trades within a 15.9375-16.3630 intraday band. Meanwhile, the downturn oil sees USD/RUB north of 75.00 and closer to 76.00 from a 74.2690 base. The Lira also feels some contagion despite the lower oil prices (Turkey being a large net oil importer) – USD/TRY is back on a 12.00 handle and within 11.92-1226 parameters at the time of writing. In commodities, the crude complex has been hit by compounding COVID fears which in turn triggered various travel restrictions and subsequently took its toll on global crude demand prospects. The new and more evolved South African variant prompted the UK, Singapore, and Israel to expand their travel red lists to include some African nations (Israel reported its first case of the new COVID-19 variant known as B.1.1.529). Japan also imposed tighter border restrictions. China’s Shanghai city see flights impacted by its own outbreak. Europe also tackles its surge in daily cases - German Green Party's Baerbock (incoming Foreign Minister) does not rule out a German lockdown, according to Spiegel. EU Commission President von der Leyen is also to propose activation of the emergency air brake, to halt travel from southern Africa due to the B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant. Losses in oil have exacerbated - with WTI Jan and Brent Feb now under USD 74/bbl (vs high 78.65/bbl) and USD 77/bbl (vs high 80.42/bbl), -6.0% and -5.0% respectively. This comes ahead of the OPEC+ confab next week, whereby OPEC watchers have suggested that oil prices will be a large contributor to the final decision. It is difficult to see how OPEC+ will increase output to the levels the US et al. will be content with, with the latest COVID downturn building the case for a pause in planned output hikes. Elsewhere, haven demand sees spot gold extend on gains above USD 1,800/oz after topping the 100 DMA (1,792.95/oz), 200 DMA (1,791.38/oz), 50 DMA (1,790.13/oz) overnight. Base metals are softer across the board amid the risk aversion. LME copper posts losses of around 3% at the time of writing, as prices threaten a more convincing downside breach of USD 9,500/t. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Things have escalated on the covid front quite rapidly over the last 12 hours. Yesterday new covid variant B.1.1.529 was slowly starting to gather increasing attention but overnight it has begun to dominate markets and has caused a notable flight to quality with 10 year USTs -8bps lower. It was originally identified in Botswana and is starting to spread rapidly in Africa. The South African Health Minister has said it is "of serious concern". Almost 100 cases have already been identified in South Africa and the UK moved to put the country back (along with 5 other African nations) on a reinstated red travel list last night with others following this morning. The variant is said to be the most heavily mutated version yet and the WHO will meet today to decide if it is a variant of interest or a variant of concern. So a lot of eyes will be on how severe it is and whether it completely evades vaccines. At this stage very little is known. Mutations are often less severe so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions but there is clearly a lot of concern about this one. Also South Africa is one of the world leaders in sequencing so we are more likely to see this sort of news originate from there than many countries. Suffice to say at this stage no one in markets will have any idea which way this will go. Overnight in Asia all benchmarks are trading lower on the news with the Shanghai Composite (-0.50%), CSI (-0.64%), KOSPI (-1.27%), Hang Seng (-2.13%) and the Nikkei (-2.90%) all lower. Airlines and other travel stocks have obviously fallen heavily. Hong Kong has detected two confirmed cases of the new variant just as Hong Kong and China were considering quarantine-free travel. S&P 500 (-0.93%) and DAX (-1.82%) futures are also much weaker. Elsewhere, in Japan, CPI rose +0.5% year-on-year (+0.4% consensus and +0.1% previously), on the back of 16-month high fuel prices. With the US out on holiday for Thanksgiving, there wasn’t much going on yesterday after a very quiet day in markets. The variant news was only slowly creeping into the news flow so it hardly impacted trading. But in keeping with the theme of recent days, both inflation and the latest covid wave in Europe remained very much in the picture as jitters continue to increase that we could see further lockdowns as we move towards Christmas. Starting with the headline moves, European equities did actually show signs of stabilising yesterday, with the STOXX 600 up +0.42% thanks to a broad-based advance across the continent. In fact that’s actually the index’s best daily performance in over three weeks, although that’s not reflecting any particular strength, but instead the fact the index inched steadily but persistently towards a record high before selling off again a week ago. Other indices moved higher across the continent too, with the FTSE 100 (+0.33%), the CAC 40 (+0.48%) and the DAX (+0.25%) all posting similar advances. These will all likely reverse this morning. One piece of news we did get came from the ECB, who released the account of their monetary policy meeting for October. Something the minutes stressed was the importance that the Governing Council maintain optionality in their policy settings, with one part acknowledging the growing upside risks to inflation, but also saying “it was deemed important for the Governing Council to avoid an overreaction as well as unwarranted inaction, and to keep sufficient optionality in calibrating its monetary policy measures to address all inflation scenarios that might unfold.” Against this backdrop, 10yr bond yields moved lower across multiple countries, with those on bunds (-2.3ps), OATs (-2.3bps) and BTPs (-1.9bps) all declining. There was also a flattening in all 3 yield curves as well, with the 2s10s slope in Germany (-3.0bps), France (-3.7bps) and Italy (-2.8bps) shifting lower. And the moves also coincided with a continued widening in peripheral spreads, with both the Spanish and the Greek spreads over 10yr bund yields widening to their biggest levels in over a year. Of course, one of the biggest concerns in Europe right now remains the pandemic, and yesterday saw a number of fresh measures announced as policymakers seek to get a grip on the latest wave. In France, health minister Veran announced various measures, including the expansion of the booster rollout to all adults, and a reduction in the length of time between the initial vaccination and the booster shot to 5 months from 6. Meanwhile in the Czech Republic, the government declared a state of emergency and approved tighter social distancing measures, including the closure of restaurants and bars at 10pm. And in Finland, the government have said that bars and restaurants not using Covid certificates will not be able to serve alcohol after 5pm. All this came as the European Medicines Agency recommended that the Pfizer vaccine be approved for children aged 5-11, which follows the decision to approve the vaccine in the US. Their recommendation will now go to the European Commission for a final decision. There wasn’t much in the way of data at all yesterday, though German GDP growth in Q3 was revised down to show a +1.7% expansion (vs. +1.8% previous estimate). Looking at the details, private consumption was the only driver of growth (+6.2%), with government consumption (-2.2%), machinery and equipment (-3.7%) and construction (-2.3%) all declining over the quarter. To the day ahead now, and data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/26/2021 - 08:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 26th, 2021

ETFs to Fly High With Surge in Thanksgiving Travel

A higher number of Americans are gearing up for Thanksgiving travel by road or air this time encouraged by a wider reach of vaccinations, lifting of pandemic restrictions and increasing consumer confidence. A higher number of Americans are gearing up for Thanksgiving travel by road or air this time encouraged by a wider reach of vaccinations, lifting of pandemic restrictions and increasing consumer confidence.Increase in travel demand should boost revenues and profitability for the travel and tourism industry, thereby leading to higher share prices. Investors shouldn’t miss this opportunity and could tap this trend through ETFs that stand to profit big time from the upbeat Thanksgiving travel trend. As such, SonicShares Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines ETF TRYP, U.S. Global Jets ETF JETS, AdvisorShares Hotel ETF BEDZ, ETFMG Travel Tech ETF AWAY and ALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF JRNY look intriguing picks.Solid Travel TrendsAccording to travel service provider American Automobile Association (AAA), Thanksgiving holiday travel is expected to rebound nearly to the pre-pandemic levels. More than 53.4 million Americans will travel this Thanksgiving weekend (Nov 24-Nov 28), up 13% from last year and the highest single-year increase since 2005. This will bring travel volumes within 5% of the pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with air travel almost completely recovering from its dramatic fall during the pandemic.About 48.3 million (up 8% from the last year) will go on road trips, 4.2 million (up 80%) will fly, and the remaining 1 million (up 262%) will travel by train, bus or cruise. The United States lifted the travel restrictions and reopened to fully vaccinated international travelers early this month, cheering up travelers making plans for this holiday season (read: Rally in Travel and Tourism ETFs Set to Continue).Although 90% of Americans are expected to hit the roads, motorists have to pay the highest gas prices in over seven years, per GasBuddy. This is especially true as gasoline prices are surging this year and the national average price of gasoline is projected to hit $3.35 per gallon on Thanksgiving Day. Daily car rental rates have also increased 4% from last Thanksgiving to $98. Additionally, mid-range hotel rates have increased about 39%, with average nightly rates ranging between $137 and $172 for AAA Approved Hotels.Another report from the U.S. airlines group, Airlines for America (A4A), shows that 28.5 million passengers will travel during the 12-day Thanksgiving air-travel period, up 3% from 2016. The 2.38 million passengers per day expected to take to the skies represent an increase of 69,000 from the 2016 Thanksgiving travel period. Airlines are accommodating this increase in demand by adding 86,000 more seats in the marketplace each day, up 3.2% over 2016.According to the Transportation Security Administration, about 2 million people a day are projected to fly from Nov 19 through Nov 28, with the potential for some days to exceed that average dramatically. Passenger traffic for the last five days of the period would be just 9% below 2019, before the pandemic hit.Let’s delve deeper into the above-mentioned ETFs:SonicShares Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines ETF (TRYP)SonicShares Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines ETF provides exposure to a global portfolio of companies focused on what many investors consider to be the “core” of business and leisure travel: the airline, hotel and cruise line industries. It tracks the Solactive Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines Index, holding 60 stocks in its basket.SonicShares Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines ETF was launched in the space in May and has accumulated $7.4 million in its asset base so far. TRYP trades in an average daily volume of 53,000 shares and charges 75 bps in annual fees.U.S. Global Jets ETF (JETS)U.S. Global Jets ETF provides exposure to the global airline industry, including airline operators and manufacturers from all over the world by tracking the U.S. Global Jets Index. The product holds 51 securities and charges 60 bps in annual fees (read: Earnings or Oil: What Will Impact the Airlines ETF Ahead?).U.S. Global Jets ETF has gathered $3.6 billion in its asset base while sees a heavy trading volume of nearly 7.2 million shares a day. JETS has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a High risk outlook.AdvisorShares Hotel ETF (BEDZ)AdvisorShares Hotel ETF has also newly debuted in the space and has accumulated $9.8 million in its asset base since late April. BEDZ is the actively managed and only ETF investing exclusively in the global hotel and travel-related services. AdvisorShares Hotel ETF holds 31 stocks in its basket that are pretty spread across components.AdvisorShares Hotel ETF charges 79 bps in annual fees and trades in an average daily volume of 11,000 shares.ETFMG Travel Tech ETF (AWAY)ETFMG Travel Tech ETF is the first ETF that offers direct access to the technology-focused global travel and tourism industry. It follows the Prime Travel Technology Index, charging investors 75 bps in annual fees. ETFMG Travel Tech ETF holds 36 stocks in its basket with travel bookings & reservations companies accounting for 51.9% of assets, followed by a 17.5% share in travel advice firms (read: 5 ETFs to Binge on This Thanksgiving Week for Solid Gains).ETFMG Travel Tech ETF has accumulated $323.9 million in its asset base and trades in an average daily volume of 282,000 shares.ALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF (JRNY)ALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF, which was launched on Sep 7, provides diversified exposure to the global travel industry by tracking the S-Network Global Travel Index. The fund invests in 76 companies engaged in booking and rental agencies, airlines and airport services, hotels, casinos, and cruise lines, along with travel-related companies identified through machine learning algorithms, such as luxury retail, entertainment, leisure, food and beverage, and payment processing vendors.ALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF has accumulated $8.3 million in its asset base and charges 65 bps in annual fees. JRNY trades in an average daily volume of 3,000 shares.  Want key ETF info delivered straight to your inbox? Zacks’ free Fund Newsletter will brief you on top news and analysis, as well as top-performing ETFs, each week.Get it free >>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 ETFMG Travel Tech ETF (AWAY): ETF Research Reports U.S. Global Jets ETF (JETS): ETF Research Reports AdvisorShares Hotel ETF (BEDZ): ETF Research Reports SonicShares Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines ETF (TRYP): ETF Research Reports ALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF (JRNY): ETF Research Reports To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 24th, 2021

Linda Evangelista says CoolSculpting left her disfigured. Five women say it happened to them too

After supermodel Linda Evangelista filed a lawsuit saying CoolSculpting had left her disfigured, others say the thing thing happened to them. A doctor holds the instrument used in CoolSculpting.Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images CoolSculpting has been sold as a quick and easy route to a slimmer silhouette. Supermodel Linda Evangelista filed a lawsuit in September saying CoolSculpting left her disfigured due to an adverse reaction known as PAH. Sometimes called the "stick of butter effect," PAH may be more common than people think. Insider talked to women who experienced it.  For the last decade, CoolSculpting has been marketed as a noninvasive way to reduce love handles or a double chin that's quick and easy enough to schedule over your lunch break.More than 11 million treatments have been administered worldwide by dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and medical spas. In the last 12 months, CoolSculpting was the 5th most-searched procedure globally, according to plastic surgery reviews site, RealSelf.com.Khloe Kardashian and Kris Jenner are CoolSculpting fans. The actress and model Molly Sims became a spokeswoman after she credited CoolSculpting with helping her slim down following her pregnancy. Since CoolSculpting was cleared by the FDA in 2010, non-invasive body contouring has grown into a $992 million business. There are other similar devices, like EmSculpt Neo (which uses electromagnetic energy) or Sculpsure (which employs lasers). But CoolSculpting is the most popular and widely used procedure for getting rid of stubborn fat.So when supermodel Linda Evangelista, one of the most photographed women of the 1990s, announced via Instagram that the treatment left her "brutally disfigured," it came as a shock. Evangelista said she had developed an adverse reaction that's known as PAH, or paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. "To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers' careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq's CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised," Evangelista wrote. A post shared by Linda Evangelista (@lindaevangelista)  By many accounts, CoolSculpting has helped a lot of people get the body they want. The procedure has a 73% "worth it" rating (based on 4,377 reviews) on RealSelf.com.But like every medical procedure, cosmetic or not, there's a risk of adverse effects. CoolSculpting's marketing and safety materials say that PAH is a risk, but that it's rare and correctable with "surgical intervention, such as liposuction." PAH is often described as the "stick of butter effect" – an unnatural bulge that takes the rectangular shape of the CoolSculpting applicator. Others experience irregular shapes of lumpy deposits of tissue in the treated area or other side effects that they might mistake for gaining weight.A patient of Misbah Khan MD who, Khan said, developed PAH after getting CoolSculpting on the outer thigh.Misbah Khan MDInsider has interviewed five women who said that they developed PAH after CoolSculpting. Like Evangelista, four of the women had to have multiple corrective procedures, and none felt that the issue was fully fixed. The fifth patient plans to seek additional treatment, but had to delay it due to the pandemic."It felt like an apron of gelatin," said one woman, who Insider is calling Angela." It was very firm and thick and there was a difference in viscosity." A spokesperson from Allergan Aesthetics, which purchased Zeltiq in 2017, declined to respond to a detailed list of questions from Insider. AbbVie, the parent company of Allergan Aesthetics, also did not reply to a request for comment. The concept of CoolSculpting is that it uses cryolipolysis, or fat freezing, to kill fat cells underneath the skin for a slimmer, more sculpted body in a matter of one to three months. A technician pulls the flesh of the target area between two paddles to cool the tissue to below freezing temperatures. While multiple sessions might be required, the patient can be in and out within an hour. According to Paul M. Friedman, MD, a dermatologist and laser surgeon based in Houston and New York whose practice offers CoolSculpting and who has authored papers and case studies on PAH, said PAH "remains a rare adverse event," given the number of treatments overall."Cryolipolysis has a well established safety profile and is an effective noninvasive treatment option for patients who are the right candidate for this treatment," Dr. Friedman said. But some patients who've experienced PAH question whether patients are being adequately warned about the seriousness of the risks. There have been at least two class-action lawsuits filed in recent years against the companies behind CoolSculpting, and several hundred user accounts regularly share information about the procedure's side effects on Facebook."The biggest problem with the whole situation is the manufacturer is in charge of the reporting," said Louiza Tarrasova, a Florida-based personal injury attorney who has been litigating CoolSculpting claims since 2018. (Tarrasova is on the legal team behind the two class action suits. Two support groups for CoolSculpting patients have formed on Facebook with a total of around 600 members, and Tarrasova serves as the administrator of both.) When things go wrong patients simply reach out to their provider, who then reaches out to the manufacturer, Tarrasova said. The manufacturer then might reach a private agreement with the patient that the company will pay for a corrective procedure, like liposuction, and be released from liability, Tarrasova said.  A welcome fix for stubborn fatIn Evangelista's case, her dermatologist performed seven cycles of CoolSculpting on her abdomen, flanks, back and bra area, inner thighs, and chin between 2015 and 2016, according to her lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in New York and is unrelated to the class action cases. Within a few months of the treatments, her suit alleges, she had developed hard, painful masses underneath her skin in spots where the CoolSculpting applicators were applied, and she was eventually diagnosed with PAH. Evangelista says that Zeltiq agreed to pay for corrective liposuction, only to back out of the agreement 24 hours before the scheduled procedure when Evanglista refused to sign a waiver releasing the company from liability. She had the surgery anyway, but said the PAH masses were back within months.The same thing happened after her second liposuction procedure, which, she said, also left her with permanent scarring. Five patients interviewed by Insider said that Evangelista's story is unfortunately all too familiar. Two were able to provide thorough documentation related to getting the treatment and then corrective procedures for PAH, while three others offered evidence for key pieces of their stories. Angela, who asked that Insider conceal her real name but provided surgical notes from her corrective procedures, didn't think much about the small patch of flab on her lower abdomen. It was during a visit to a medical spa for laser hair removal in February 2017 that she said the technician recommended CoolSculpting. "I thought it would eliminate the 'extra' in that area," Angela says.Five months later, the tissue in the area had expanded, she said in an interview. Curiously, it had also become rubbery and tough, what she described as an "apron of gelatin."A patient of Misbah Khan, MD that was taken prior to corrective surgical treatment for PAH.Misbah Khan, MD"I couldn't get on a single dress I owned. I was horrified," she said.  That October, Angela found out it was PAH, and was told she needed surgery to correct it. When she reached out to the provider who performed her CoolSculpting, she was referred to the manufacturer, Zeltiq. In an interview, Angela said that she spoke to a representative from Zeltiq to say that she believed she had PAH and was offered reimbursement for corrective liposuction surgery.She also discussed her case with Tarrasova, the lawyer, but has not joined in any of the lawsuits.What concerns Angela more than the lingering physical effects, is the amount of mystery still surrounding PAH. It's unclear why some people develop it, and others don't. It's also not clear what exactly causes it."They make it seem like it's not a big deal, and it's not true," she said. "If it goes wrong, the results are so devastating."'A rare adverse event'When CoolSculpting was first cleared by the FDA in 2010, PAH wasn't on the FDA's radar. That's because among adults, it's a phenomenon that almost exclusively develops as a result of noninvasive body sculpting procedures like cryolipolysis, explains Misbah Khan, MD, a dermatologic surgeon based in New York. The first time PAH related to CoolSculpting was reported in the medical literature more broadly was 2014.Much of the existing research on the incidence of PAH is conflicting. In 2018, the manufacturer estimated one PAH case per 4,000 treatment cycles (it's standard for patients to receive more than one cycle of treatment).Zeltiq and its parent companies have received at least 7,798 reports of PAH since 2009, court documents say, though it's unclear if a single report represents one patient or just one treatment area and the manufacturer did not respond to questions about this. The company deemed 5,920 of those reports as confirmed and 1,878 as unconfirmed. "It's very hard to get the right number because people are very embarrassed to talk about it. For some patients it may go unnoticed at first. The problems are undiagnosed," said Dr. Khan, who authored a 2019 paper on treating PAH. "What's likely closer to reality is the higher number." Louiza Tarrasova, the lawyer, first started digging into CoolSculpting in 2018 after a man approached her about seeking damages related to a PAH diagnosis. Their case was not ultimately not successful – the judge ruled that the CoolSculpting provider had been adequately warned of the risks by the company. They have since filed an appeal. The experience convinced Tarrasova that there could be more to investigate about adverse effects related to CoolSculpting. Patients who have been through PAH talk about wanting their bodies to return to normal, but it's not clear whether that's a realistic outcome.  The inflammatory response that they experienced after CoolSculpting can result in fibrous scar tissue that is difficult to remove. A patient of Misbah Khan MD who, Khan said, developed PAH after getting CoolSculpting.Misbah Khan MDMoreover, the inflammatory response can be long-lasting, and when you add corrective surgical procedures to the mix, you're adding more trauma and damage to tissues that are already struggling to heal, Dr. Khan said. The tissue may never return to "normal.""You're also dealing with an altered metabolism overall," Dr. Khan said, noting that some patients with PAH will experience unexplained weight gain throughout the body as a response to the damaged areas of fat. "Fat is an organ. It stores excess calories. When you have damaged fat, other places in the body will begin to store that excess," Dr. Khan said. "You're dealing with a global response."Even when PAH is diagnosed appropriately it is hard to get it treated because it's a relatively new phenomenon. Many doctors and surgeons aren't sure how to treat it effectively. "They're shooting in the dark," Dr. Khan said. This adds another layer of frustration to an extremely painful process of serious surgeries, which themselves can give rise to complications. Damaged fatIn her Instagram post, Evangelista wrote about the shame of living with what she considered a "disfigured" body and said she had become a recluse. "PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness, and the lowest depths of self-loathing," she wrote. Diana, who also asked Insider to conceal her identity, is an MD dermatologist herself. She got CoolSculpting done four times between 2014 and 2015 on her flanks and abdomen. Her first treatment was done by one of the dermatologist's responsible for bringing CoolSculpting technology to market, she said. Another of her treatments was done at her workplace during training after her boss had bought a CoolSculpting machine. She says she has gone through the CoolSculpting training herself, seen the photos of PAH in a lecture from the technology's lead investigator during her residency training, and spoken to company reps directly. It still took nearly two years for her to be diagnosed with PAH, and only after she got more sessions of CoolSculpting done—which was recommended by her provider after it appeared at first not to work. "It doesn't always present the way they say it does in the training," Diana said. "In the photos, it looks like a shelf. Mine looked like a bulge." She's since had two liposuction procedures as well as an abdominoplasty that led to her losing sensation in her abdomen. The masses in her abdomen feel like they are growing back again, but at this point she can't fathom having another procedure. Diana believes many of her colleagues simply misdiagnose PAH as weight gain following the procedure. She said she's on a group chat with a number of dermatologists, who reacted to news of Linda Evangelista's lawsuit by ridiculing her with comments like "maybe she just started to eat lots of ice cream." Danielle, a nurse practitioner in South Carolina who is part of the class action suit in California but requested that she not be identified by her real name for fear of attracting harassment, describes her experience with PAH and the surgeries to correct it as "pure hell." After developing PAH in 2019, she had an abdominoplasty and a liposuction procedure in 2020. For both, the recoveries were painful. She got infections in her wounds. The stress of the experience caused a Shingles flare-up. She couldn't care for her family or work for months."Since then it feels like it's coming back," she said. "I don't know what to do anymore. Every day I have spasms in my abdomen. I can't stand up straight half the time." "Here I went in for a two hour procedure sold to me as noninvasive, and now I'm scarred from my flank area on one side to the flank area on the other side," she said. "I just want to warn people."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 22nd, 2021

5 ETFs to Binge on This Thanksgiving Week for Solid Gains

According to Bespoke Investment Group, Thanksgiving week has returned modest gains for stocks dating back to 1945. The Thanksgiving week is historically a bullish feast for the U.S. stock market even with low volumes and a holiday-shortened week. Although Americans are expected to spend less this year with expensive holiday meals, U.S. stocks should get a boost from upbeat traveling.The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Index have been hitting record highs ahead of the Thanksgiving week on earnings optimism despite concerns over further increases in price pressure and uncertainty over the Fed's tapering plans (read: 5 Growth ETFs to Tap on an Incredible S&P 500 Rally).Based on the history and strong holiday travel trends, investors could binge on five ETFs such as Invesco Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF PBJ, U.S. Global Jets ETF JETS, iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Fund IYT, ALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF JRNY and SonicShares Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines ETF TRYP.Thanksgiving Week Bulls Are Here!According to Bespoke Investment Group, Thanksgiving week has returned modest gains for stocks dating back to 1945. The researchers say that since that point, the entire week of Thanksgiving has averaged a 60-basis-point advance for the S&P 500, with the best returns coming on Wednesday before the holiday and Black Friday, and the only decline on average on Monday at the start of the week.Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA, also said the last five trading days of November have been traditionally positive since 1950. There is a two-third likelihood that the market is up the day before Thanksgiving, a 57% likelihood for an increase the day after Thanksgiving, and a 71% likelihood that it’s up on Monday.Consumer confidence is stronger than expected, hiring has been picking up and wages are rising. While inflation is rising at the fastest pace in 30 years, retail sales remain robust. U.S. retail sales in October surged for the third consecutive months and jumped the maximum since March. Americans started to shop early to avoid the shortage of goods due to the ongoing pandemic. A wider reach of vaccinations has also accelerated economic reopening and encouraged the traveling.Weak Spending and Higher CostsA report from LendingTree showed that Americans will spend $391.60, down 18% from 2020. About 47% of Americans plan to host Thanksgiving dinner this year – the highest percentage in three years. Inflation and supply chain interruptions have made holiday meal expensive this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual Thanksgiving dinner cost survey. The average cost of serving 10 people for Thanksgiving is expected to be $53.31 (or more than $5.00 per person), up 14% from the last year and priciest meal in the survey's 36 years.Upbeat TravelAccording to travel service provider American Automobile Association (AAA), Thanksgiving holiday travel is expected to rebound nearly to pre-pandemic levels. More than 53.4 million Americans will travel this Thanksgiving weekend (Nov 24-Nov 28), up 13% from last year and the highest single-year increase since 2005. Of them, 48.3 million (up 8% from the last year) will go on road trips, 4.2 million (up 80%) will fly, and the remaining 1 million (up 262%) will travel by train, bus or cruise. With the lifting of pandemic restrictions and increasing consumer confidence, travelers remain upbeat when making their travel plans this holiday season (read: Rally in Travel and Tourism ETFs Set to Continue).Notably, a report from the U.S. airlines group, Airlines for America (A4A), shows that 28.5 million passengers will travel during the 12-day Thanksgiving air-travel period, up 3% from 2016. The 2.38 million passengers per day expected to take to the skies represent an increase of 69,000 from the 2016 Thanksgiving travel period. Airlines are accommodating this increase in demand by adding 86,000 more seats in the marketplace each day, up 3.2% over 2016.According to the Transportation Security Administration, about 2 million people a day are projected to fly from Nov 19 through Nov 28, with the potential for some days to exceed that average dramatically. Passenger traffic for the last five days of the period would be just 9% below 2019, before the pandemic hit.ETFs to Shower GainsInvesco Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF PBJInvesco Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF offers exposure to 31 stocks that are engaged in the manufacture, sale or distribution of food and beverage products, agricultural products and products related to the development of new food technologies by tracking the Dynamic Food & Beverage Intellidex Index.With AUM of $100.7 million, Invesco Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF charges 63 bps in annual fees from investors and sees a light average daily volume of 15,000 shares. PBJ has a Zacks ETF Rank #2 (Buy) with a Medium risk outlook (read:Buy 5 High-Beta ETFs That Still Offer Value).U.S. Global Jets ETF JETSU.S. Global Jets ETF provides exposure to the global airline industry, including airline operators and manufacturers from all over the world by tracking the U.S. Global Jets Index. The product holds 51 securities and charges 60 bps in annual fees.U.S. Global Jets ETF has gathered $7.1 billion in its asset base while sees a heavy trading volume of nearly 7.1 million shares a day. JETS has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a High risk outlook.iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Fund IYTiShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Fund follows the Dow Jones Transportation Average Index and offers exposure to the broad transportation sector. The fund holds a small basket of 48 stocks with railroads, air freight & logistics, trucking and airlines taking the top four spots.iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Fund has accumulated $1.8 billion in its asset base while seeing a good trading volume of around 165,000 shares a day. IYT charges 41 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #2 with a High risk outlook (read: Transport ETFs Riding High Post Q3 Earnings).ALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF JRNYALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF, which was launched on Sep 7, provides diversified exposure to the global travel industry by tracking the S-Network Global Travel Index. The fund invests in 76 companies engaged in booking and rental agencies, airlines and airport services, hotels, casinos, and cruise lines, along with travel-related companies identified through machine learning algorithms, such as luxury retail, entertainment, leisure, food and beverage, and payment processing vendors.ALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF has accumulated $8.4 million in its asset base and charges 65 bps in annual fees. JRNY trades in an average daily volume of 3,000 shares.SonicShares Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines ETF TRYPSonicShares Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines ETF provides exposure to a global portfolio of companies that are focused on what many investors consider to be the “core” of business and leisure travel: the airline, hotel and cruise line industries. It tracks the Solactive Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines Index, holding 60 stocks in its basket.SonicShares Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines ETF was launched in the space in May and has accumulated $7.6 million in its asset base so far. TRYP trades in an average daily volume of 48,000 shares and charges 75 bps in annual fees. Want key ETF info delivered straight to your inbox? Zacks’ free Fund Newsletter will brief you on top news and analysis, as well as top-performing ETFs, each week.Get it free >>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 iShares U.S. Transportation ETF (IYT): ETF Research Reports U.S. Global Jets ETF (JETS): ETF Research Reports Invesco Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF (PBJ): ETF Research Reports SonicShares Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines ETF (TRYP): ETF Research Reports ALPS Global Travel Beneficiaries ETF (JRNY): ETF Research Reports To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 22nd, 2021

"Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The "Spartacus COVID Letter" That"s Gone Viral

"Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The 'Spartacus COVID Letter' That's Gone Viral Via The Automatic Earth blog, This is an anonymously posted document by someone who calls themselves Spartacus. Because it’s anonymous, I can’t contact them to ask for permission to publish. So I hesitated for a while, but it’s simply the best document I’ve seen on Covid, vaccines, etc. Whoever Spartacus is, they have a very elaborate knowledge in “the field”. If you want to know a lot more about the no. 1 issue in the world today, read it. And don’t worry if you don’t understand every single word, neither do I. But I learned a lot. The original PDF doc is here: Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter Hello, My name is Spartacus, and I’ve had enough. We have been forced to watch America and the Free World spin into inexorable decline due to a biowarfare attack. We, along with countless others, have been victimized and gaslit by propaganda and psychological warfare operations being conducted by an unelected, unaccountable Elite against the American people and our allies. Our mental and physical health have suffered immensely over the course of the past year and a half. We have felt the sting of isolation, lockdown, masking, quarantines, and other completely nonsensical acts of healthcare theater that have done absolutely nothing to protect the health or wellbeing of the public from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we are watching the medical establishment inject literal poison into millions of our fellow Americans without so much as a fight. We have been told that we will be fired and denied our livelihoods if we refuse to vaccinate. This was the last straw. We have spent thousands of hours analyzing leaked footage from Wuhan, scientific papers from primary sources, as well as the paper trails left by the medical establishment. What we have discovered would shock anyone to their core. First, we will summarize our findings, and then, we will explain them in detail. References will be placed at the end. Summary: COVID-19 is a blood and blood vessel disease. SARS-CoV-2 infects the lining of human blood vessels, causing them to leak into the lungs. Current treatment protocols (e.g. invasive ventilation) are actively harmful to patients, accelerating oxidative stress and causing severe VILI (ventilator-induced lung injuries). The continued use of ventilators in the absence of any proven medical benefit constitutes mass murder. Existing countermeasures are inadequate to slow the spread of what is an aerosolized and potentially wastewater-borne virus, and constitute a form of medical theater. Various non-vaccine interventions have been suppressed by both the media and the medical establishment in favor of vaccines and expensive patented drugs. The authorities have denied the usefulness of natural immunity against COVID-19, despite the fact that natural immunity confers protection against all of the virus’s proteins, and not just one. Vaccines will do more harm than good. The antigen that these vaccines are based on, SARS-CoV- 2 Spike, is a toxic protein. SARS-CoV-2 may have ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement; current antibodies may not neutralize future strains, but instead help them infect immune cells. Also, vaccinating during a pandemic with a leaky vaccine removes the evolutionary pressure for a virus to become less lethal. There is a vast and appalling criminal conspiracy that directly links both Anthony Fauci and Moderna to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. COVID-19 vaccine researchers are directly linked to scientists involved in brain-computer interface (“neural lace”) tech, one of whom was indicted for taking grant money from China. Independent researchers have discovered mysterious nanoparticles inside the vaccines that are not supposed to be present. The entire pandemic is being used as an excuse for a vast political and economic transformation of Western society that will enrich the already rich and turn the rest of us into serfs and untouchables. COVID-19 Pathophysiology and Treatments: COVID-19 is not a viral pneumonia. It is a viral vascular endotheliitis and attacks the lining of blood vessels, particularly the small pulmonary alveolar capillaries, leading to endothelial cell activation and sloughing, coagulopathy, sepsis, pulmonary edema, and ARDS-like symptoms. This is a disease of the blood and blood vessels. The circulatory system. Any pneumonia that it causes is secondary to that. In severe cases, this leads to sepsis, blood clots, and multiple organ failure, including hypoxic and inflammatory damage to various vital organs, such as the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines. Some of the most common laboratory findings in COVID-19 are elevated D-dimer, elevated prothrombin time, elevated C-reactive protein, neutrophilia, lymphopenia, hypocalcemia, and hyperferritinemia, essentially matching a profile of coagulopathy and immune system hyperactivation/immune cell exhaustion. COVID-19 can present as almost anything, due to the wide tropism of SARS-CoV-2 for various tissues in the body’s vital organs. While its most common initial presentation is respiratory illness and flu-like symptoms, it can present as brain inflammation, gastrointestinal disease, or even heart attack or pulmonary embolism. COVID-19 is more severe in those with specific comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. This is because these conditions involve endothelial dysfunction, which renders the circulatory system more susceptible to infection and injury by this particular virus. The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are mild and do not cause significant disease. In known cases, there is something known as the 80/20 rule, where 80% of cases are mild and 20% are severe or critical. However, this ratio is only correct for known cases, not all infections. The number of actual infections is much, much higher. Consequently, the mortality and morbidity rate is lower. However, COVID-19 spreads very quickly, meaning that there are a significant number of severely-ill and critically-ill patients appearing in a short time frame. In those who have critical COVID-19-induced sepsis, hypoxia, coagulopathy, and ARDS, the most common treatments are intubation, injected corticosteroids, and blood thinners. This is not the correct treatment for COVID-19. In severe hypoxia, cellular metabolic shifts cause ATP to break down into hypoxanthine, which, upon the reintroduction of oxygen, causes xanthine oxidase to produce tons of highly damaging radicals that attack tissue. This is called ischemia-reperfusion injury, and it’s why the majority of people who go on a ventilator are dying. In the mitochondria, succinate buildup due to sepsis does the same exact thing; when oxygen is reintroduced, it makes superoxide radicals. Make no mistake, intubation will kill people who have COVID-19. The end-stage of COVID-19 is severe lipid peroxidation, where fats in the body start to “rust” due to damage by oxidative stress. This drives autoimmunity. Oxidized lipids appear as foreign objects to the immune system, which recognizes and forms antibodies against OSEs, or oxidation-specific epitopes. Also, oxidized lipids feed directly into pattern recognition receptors, triggering even more inflammation and summoning even more cells of the innate immune system that release even more destructive enzymes. This is similar to the pathophysiology of Lupus. COVID-19’s pathology is dominated by extreme oxidative stress and neutrophil respiratory burst, to the point where hemoglobin becomes incapable of carrying oxygen due to heme iron being stripped out of heme by hypochlorous acid. No amount of supplemental oxygen can oxygenate blood that chemically refuses to bind O2. The breakdown of the pathology is as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike binds to ACE2. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 is an enzyme that is part of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, or RAAS. The RAAS is a hormone control system that moderates fluid volume in the body and in the bloodstream (i.e. osmolarity) by controlling salt retention and excretion. This protein, ACE2, is ubiquitous in every part of the body that interfaces with the circulatory system, particularly in vascular endothelial cells and pericytes, brain astrocytes, renal tubules and podocytes, pancreatic islet cells, bile duct and intestinal epithelial cells, and the seminiferous ducts of the testis, all of which SARS-CoV-2 can infect, not just the lungs. SARS-CoV-2 infects a cell as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike undergoes a conformational change where the S1 trimers flip up and extend, locking onto ACE2 bound to the surface of a cell. TMPRSS2, or transmembrane protease serine 2, comes along and cuts off the heads of the Spike, exposing the S2 stalk-shaped subunit inside. The remainder of the Spike undergoes a conformational change that causes it to unfold like an extension ladder, embedding itself in the cell membrane. Then, it folds back upon itself, pulling the viral membrane and the cell membrane together. The two membranes fuse, with the virus’s proteins migrating out onto the surface of the cell. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid enters the cell, disgorging its genetic material and beginning the viral replication process, hijacking the cell’s own structures to produce more virus. SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins embedded in a cell can actually cause human cells to fuse together, forming syncytia/MGCs (multinuclear giant cells). They also have other pathogenic, harmful effects. SARS-CoV- 2’s viroporins, such as its Envelope protein, act as calcium ion channels, introducing calcium into infected cells. The virus suppresses the natural interferon response, resulting in delayed inflammation. SARS-CoV-2 N protein can also directly activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Also, it suppresses the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway. The suppression of ACE2 by binding with Spike causes a buildup of bradykinin that would otherwise be broken down by ACE2. This constant calcium influx into the cells results in (or is accompanied by) noticeable hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium, especially in people with Vitamin D deficiencies and pre-existing endothelial dysfunction. Bradykinin upregulates cAMP, cGMP, COX, and Phospholipase C activity. This results in prostaglandin release and vastly increased intracellular calcium signaling, which promotes highly aggressive ROS release and ATP depletion. NADPH oxidase releases superoxide into the extracellular space. Superoxide radicals react with nitric oxide to form peroxynitrite. Peroxynitrite reacts with the tetrahydrobiopterin cofactor needed by endothelial nitric oxide synthase, destroying it and “uncoupling” the enzymes, causing nitric oxide synthase to synthesize more superoxide instead. This proceeds in a positive feedback loop until nitric oxide bioavailability in the circulatory system is depleted. Dissolved nitric oxide gas produced constantly by eNOS serves many important functions, but it is also antiviral against SARS-like coronaviruses, preventing the palmitoylation of the viral Spike protein and making it harder for it to bind to host receptors. The loss of NO allows the virus to begin replicating with impunity in the body. Those with endothelial dysfunction (i.e. hypertension, diabetes, obesity, old age, African-American race) have redox equilibrium issues to begin with, giving the virus an advantage. Due to the extreme cytokine release triggered by these processes, the body summons a great deal of neutrophils and monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages to the lungs. Cells of the innate immune system are the first-line defenders against pathogens. They work by engulfing invaders and trying to attack them with enzymes that produce powerful oxidants, like SOD and MPO. Superoxide dismutase takes superoxide and makes hydrogen peroxide, and myeloperoxidase takes hydrogen peroxide and chlorine ions and makes hypochlorous acid, which is many, many times more reactive than sodium hypochlorite bleach. Neutrophils have a nasty trick. They can also eject these enzymes into the extracellular space, where they will continuously spit out peroxide and bleach into the bloodstream. This is called neutrophil extracellular trap formation, or, when it becomes pathogenic and counterproductive, NETosis. In severe and critical COVID-19, there is actually rather severe NETosis. Hypochlorous acid building up in the bloodstream begins to bleach the iron out of heme and compete for O2 binding sites. Red blood cells lose the ability to transport oxygen, causing the sufferer to turn blue in the face. Unliganded iron, hydrogen peroxide, and superoxide in the bloodstream undergo the Haber- Weiss and Fenton reactions, producing extremely reactive hydroxyl radicals that violently strip electrons from surrounding fats and DNA, oxidizing them severely. This condition is not unknown to medical science. The actual name for all of this is acute sepsis. We know this is happening in COVID-19 because people who have died of the disease have noticeable ferroptosis signatures in their tissues, as well as various other oxidative stress markers such as nitrotyrosine, 4-HNE, and malondialdehyde. When you intubate someone with this condition, you are setting off a free radical bomb by supplying the cells with O2. It’s a catch-22, because we need oxygen to make Adenosine Triphosphate (that is, to live), but O2 is also the precursor of all these damaging radicals that lead to lipid peroxidation. The correct treatment for severe COVID-19 related sepsis is non-invasive ventilation, steroids, and antioxidant infusions. Most of the drugs repurposed for COVID-19 that show any benefit whatsoever in rescuing critically-ill COVID-19 patients are antioxidants. N-acetylcysteine, melatonin, fluvoxamine, budesonide, famotidine, cimetidine, and ranitidine are all antioxidants. Indomethacin prevents iron- driven oxidation of arachidonic acid to isoprostanes. There are powerful antioxidants such as apocynin that have not even been tested on COVID-19 patients yet which could defang neutrophils, prevent lipid peroxidation, restore endothelial health, and restore oxygenation to the tissues. Scientists who know anything about pulmonary neutrophilia, ARDS, and redox biology have known or surmised much of this since March 2020. In April 2020, Swiss scientists confirmed that COVID-19 was a vascular endotheliitis. By late 2020, experts had already concluded that COVID-19 causes a form of viral sepsis. They also know that sepsis can be effectively treated with antioxidants. None of this information is particularly new, and yet, for the most part, it has not been acted upon. Doctors continue to use damaging intubation techniques with high PEEP settings despite high lung compliance and poor oxygenation, killing an untold number of critically ill patients with medical malpractice. Because of the way they are constructed, Randomized Control Trials will never show any benefit for any antiviral against COVID-19. Not Remdesivir, not Kaletra, not HCQ, and not Ivermectin. The reason for this is simple; for the patients that they have recruited for these studies, such as Oxford’s ludicrous RECOVERY study, the intervention is too late to have any positive effect. The clinical course of COVID-19 is such that by the time most people seek medical attention for hypoxia, their viral load has already tapered off to almost nothing. If someone is about 10 days post-exposure and has already been symptomatic for five days, there is hardly any virus left in their bodies, only cellular damage and derangement that has initiated a hyperinflammatory response. It is from this group that the clinical trials for antivirals have recruited, pretty much exclusively. In these trials, they give antivirals to severely ill patients who have no virus in their bodies, only a delayed hyperinflammatory response, and then absurdly claim that antivirals have no utility in treating or preventing COVID-19. These clinical trials do not recruit people who are pre-symptomatic. They do not test pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis. This is like using a defibrillator to shock only flatline, and then absurdly claiming that defibrillators have no medical utility whatsoever when the patients refuse to rise from the dead. The intervention is too late. These trials for antivirals show systematic, egregious selection bias. They are providing a treatment that is futile to the specific cohort they are enrolling. India went against the instructions of the WHO and mandated the prophylactic usage of Ivermectin. They have almost completely eradicated COVID-19. The Indian Bar Association of Mumbai has brought criminal charges against WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan for recommending against the use of Ivermectin. Ivermectin is not “horse dewormer”. Yes, it is sold in veterinary paste form as a dewormer for animals. It has also been available in pill form for humans for decades, as an antiparasitic drug. The media have disingenuously claimed that because Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug, it has no utility as an antivirus. This is incorrect. Ivermectin has utility as an antiviral. It blocks importin, preventing nuclear import, effectively inhibiting viral access to cell nuclei. Many drugs currently on the market have multiple modes of action. Ivermectin is one such drug. It is both antiparasitic and antiviral. In Bangladesh, Ivermectin costs $1.80 for an entire 5-day course. Remdesivir, which is toxic to the liver, costs $3,120 for a 5-day course of the drug. Billions of dollars of utterly useless Remdesivir were sold to our governments on the taxpayer’s dime, and it ended up being totally useless for treating hyperinflammatory COVID-19. The media has hardly even covered this at all. The opposition to the use of generic Ivermectin is not based in science. It is purely financially and politically-motivated. An effective non-vaccine intervention would jeopardize the rushed FDA approval of patented vaccines and medicines for which the pharmaceutical industry stands to rake in billions upon billions of dollars in sales on an ongoing basis. The majority of the public are scientifically illiterate and cannot grasp what any of this even means, thanks to a pathetic educational system that has miseducated them. You would be lucky to find 1 in 100 people who have even the faintest clue what any of this actually means. COVID-19 Transmission: COVID-19 is airborne. The WHO carried water for China by claiming that the virus was only droplet- borne. Our own CDC absurdly claimed that it was mostly transmitted by fomite-to-face contact, which, given its rapid spread from Wuhan to the rest of the world, would have been physically impossible. The ridiculous belief in fomite-to-face being a primary mode of transmission led to the use of surface disinfection protocols that wasted time, energy, productivity, and disinfectant. The 6-foot guidelines are absolutely useless. The minimum safe distance to protect oneself from an aerosolized virus is to be 15+ feet away from an infected person, no closer. Realistically, no public transit is safe. Surgical masks do not protect you from aerosols. The virus is too small and the filter media has too large of gaps to filter it out. They may catch respiratory droplets and keep the virus from being expelled by someone who is sick, but they do not filter a cloud of infectious aerosols if someone were to walk into said cloud. The minimum level of protection against this virus is quite literally a P100 respirator, a PAPR/CAPR, or a 40mm NATO CBRN respirator, ideally paired with a full-body tyvek or tychem suit, gloves, and booties, with all the holes and gaps taped. Live SARS-CoV-2 may potentially be detected in sewage outflows, and there may be oral-fecal transmission. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, in the Amoy Gardens incident, hundreds of people were infected by aerosolized fecal matter rising from floor drains in their apartments. COVID-19 Vaccine Dangers: The vaccines for COVID-19 are not sterilizing and do not prevent infection or transmission. They are “leaky” vaccines. This means they remove the evolutionary pressure on the virus to become less lethal. It also means that the vaccinated are perfect carriers. In other words, those who are vaccinated are a threat to the unvaccinated, not the other way around. All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use have undergone minimal testing, with highly accelerated clinical trials. Though they appear to limit severe illness, the long-term safety profile of these vaccines remains unknown. Some of these so-called “vaccines” utilize an untested new technology that has never been used in vaccines before. Traditional vaccines use weakened or killed virus to stimulate an immune response. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines do not. They are purported to consist of an intramuscular shot containing a suspension of lipid nanoparticles filled with messenger RNA. The way they generate an immune response is by fusing with cells in a vaccine recipient’s shoulder, undergoing endocytosis, releasing their mRNA cargo into those cells, and then utilizing the ribosomes in those cells to synthesize modified SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins in-situ. These modified Spike proteins then migrate to the surface of the cell, where they are anchored in place by a transmembrane domain. The adaptive immune system detects the non-human viral protein being expressed by these cells, and then forms antibodies against that protein. This is purported to confer protection against the virus, by training the adaptive immune system to recognize and produce antibodies against the Spike on the actual virus. The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines do something similar, but use an adenovirus vector for genetic material delivery instead of a lipid nanoparticle. These vaccines were produced or validated with the aid of fetal cell lines HEK-293 and PER.C6, which people with certain religious convictions may object strongly to. SARS-CoV-2 Spike is a highly pathogenic protein on its own. It is impossible to overstate the danger presented by introducing this protein into the human body. It is claimed by vaccine manufacturers that the vaccine remains in cells in the shoulder, and that SARS- CoV-2 Spike produced and expressed by these cells from the vaccine’s genetic material is harmless and inert, thanks to the insertion of prolines in the Spike sequence to stabilize it in the prefusion conformation, preventing the Spike from becoming active and fusing with other cells. However, a pharmacokinetic study from Japan showed that the lipid nanoparticles and mRNA from the Pfizer vaccine did not stay in the shoulder, and in fact bioaccumulated in many different organs, including the reproductive organs and adrenal glands, meaning that modified Spike is being expressed quite literally all over the place. These lipid nanoparticles may trigger anaphylaxis in an unlucky few, but far more concerning is the unregulated expression of Spike in various somatic cell lines far from the injection site and the unknown consequences of that. Messenger RNA is normally consumed right after it is produced in the body, being translated into a protein by a ribosome. COVID-19 vaccine mRNA is produced outside the body, long before a ribosome translates it. In the meantime, it could accumulate damage if inadequately preserved. When a ribosome attempts to translate a damaged strand of mRNA, it can become stalled. When this happens, the ribosome becomes useless for translating proteins because it now has a piece of mRNA stuck in it, like a lace card in an old punch card reader. The whole thing has to be cleaned up and new ribosomes synthesized to replace it. In cells with low ribosome turnover, like nerve cells, this can lead to reduced protein synthesis, cytopathic effects, and neuropathies. Certain proteins, including SARS-CoV-2 Spike, have proteolytic cleavage sites that are basically like little dotted lines that say “cut here”, which attract a living organism’s own proteases (essentially, molecular scissors) to cut them. There is a possibility that S1 may be proteolytically cleaved from S2, causing active S1 to float away into the bloodstream while leaving the S2 “stalk” embedded in the membrane of the cell that expressed the protein. SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a Superantigenic region (SAg), which may promote extreme inflammation. Anti-Spike antibodies were found in one study to function as autoantibodies and attack the body’s own cells. Those who have been immunized with COVID-19 vaccines have developed blood clots, myocarditis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Bell’s Palsy, and multiple sclerosis flares, indicating that the vaccine promotes autoimmune reactions against healthy tissue. SARS-CoV-2 Spike does not only bind to ACE2. It was suspected to have regions that bind to basigin, integrins, neuropilin-1, and bacterial lipopolysaccharides as well. SARS-CoV-2 Spike, on its own, can potentially bind any of these things and act as a ligand for them, triggering unspecified and likely highly inflammatory cellular activity. SARS-CoV-2 Spike contains an unusual PRRA insert that forms a furin cleavage site. Furin is a ubiquitous human protease, making this an ideal property for the Spike to have, giving it a high degree of cell tropism. No wild-type SARS-like coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 possess this feature, making it highly suspicious, and perhaps a sign of human tampering. SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a prion-like domain that enhances its infectiousness. The Spike S1 RBD may bind to heparin-binding proteins and promote amyloid aggregation. In humans, this could lead to Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia, premature Alzheimer’s, or various other neurodegenerative diseases. This is very concerning because SARS-CoV-2 S1 is capable of injuring and penetrating the blood-brain barrier and entering the brain. It is also capable of increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to other molecules. SARS-CoV-2, like other betacoronaviruses, may have Dengue-like ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement of disease. For those who aren’t aware, some viruses, including betacoronaviruses, have a feature called ADE. There is also something called Original Antigenic Sin, which is the observation that the body prefers to produce antibodies based on previously-encountered strains of a virus over newly- encountered ones. In ADE, antibodies from a previous infection become non-neutralizing due to mutations in the virus’s proteins. These non-neutralizing antibodies then act as trojan horses, allowing live, active virus to be pulled into macrophages through their Fc receptor pathways, allowing the virus to infect immune cells that it would not have been able to infect before. This has been known to happen with Dengue Fever; when someone gets sick with Dengue, recovers, and then contracts a different strain, they can get very, very ill. If someone is vaccinated with mRNA based on the Spike from the initial Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2, and then they become infected with a future, mutated strain of the virus, they may become severely ill. In other words, it is possible for vaccines to sensitize someone to disease. There is a precedent for this in recent history. Sanofi’s Dengvaxia vaccine for Dengue failed because it caused immune sensitization in people whose immune systems were Dengue-naive. In mice immunized against SARS-CoV and challenged with the virus, a close relative of SARS-CoV-2, they developed immune sensitization, Th2 immunopathology, and eosinophil infiltration in their lungs. We have been told that SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines cannot be integrated into the human genome, because messenger RNA cannot be turned back into DNA. This is false. There are elements in human cells called LINE-1 retrotransposons, which can indeed integrate mRNA into a human genome by endogenous reverse transcription. Because the mRNA used in the vaccines is stabilized, it hangs around in cells longer, increasing the chances for this to happen. If the gene for SARS-CoV-2 Spike is integrated into a portion of the genome that is not silent and actually expresses a protein, it is possible that people who take this vaccine may continuously express SARS-CoV-2 Spike from their somatic cells for the rest of their lives. By inoculating people with a vaccine that causes their bodies to produce Spike in-situ, they are being inoculated with a pathogenic protein. A toxin that may cause long-term inflammation, heart problems, and a raised risk of cancers. In the long-term, it may also potentially lead to premature neurodegenerative disease. Absolutely nobody should be compelled to take this vaccine under any circumstances, and in actual fact, the vaccination campaign must be stopped immediately. COVID-19 Criminal Conspiracy: The vaccine and the virus were made by the same people. In 2014, there was a moratorium on SARS gain-of-function research that lasted until 2017. This research was not halted. Instead, it was outsourced, with the federal grants being laundered through NGOs. Ralph Baric is a virologist and SARS expert at UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina. This is who Anthony Fauci was referring to when he insisted, before Congress, that if any gain-of-function research was being conducted, it was being conducted in North Carolina. This was a lie. Anthony Fauci lied before Congress. A felony. Ralph Baric and Shi Zhengli are colleagues and have co-written papers together. Ralph Baric mentored Shi Zhengli in his gain-of-function manipulation techniques, particularly serial passage, which results in a virus that appears as if it originated naturally. In other words, deniable bioweapons. Serial passage in humanized hACE2 mice may have produced something like SARS-CoV-2. The funding for the gain-of-function research being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology came from Peter Daszak. Peter Daszak runs an NGO called EcoHealth Alliance. EcoHealth Alliance received millions of dollars in grant money from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (that is, Anthony Fauci), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (part of the US Department of Defense), and the United States Agency for International Development. NIH/NIAID contributed a few million dollars, and DTRA and USAID each contributed tens of millions of dollars towards this research. Altogether, it was over a hundred million dollars. EcoHealth Alliance subcontracted these grants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab in China with a very questionable safety record and poorly trained staff, so that they could conduct gain-of-function research, not in their fancy P4 lab, but in a level-2 lab where technicians wore nothing more sophisticated than perhaps a hairnet, latex gloves, and a surgical mask, instead of the bubble suits used when working with dangerous viruses. Chinese scientists in Wuhan reported being routinely bitten and urinated on by laboratory animals. Why anyone would outsource this dangerous and delicate work to the People’s Republic of China, a country infamous for industrial accidents and massive explosions that have claimed hundreds of lives, is completely beyond me, unless the aim was to start a pandemic on purpose. In November of 2019, three technicians at the Wuhan Institute of Virology developed symptoms consistent with a flu-like illness. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, and Ralph Baric knew at once what had happened, because back channels exist between this laboratory and our scientists and officials. December 12th, 2019, Ralph Baric signed a Material Transfer Agreement (essentially, an NDA) to receive Coronavirus mRNA vaccine-related materials co-owned by Moderna and NIH. It wasn’t until a whole month later, on January 11th, 2020, that China allegedly sent us the sequence to what would become known as SARS-CoV-2. Moderna claims, rather absurdly, that they developed a working vaccine from this sequence in under 48 hours. Stephane Bancel, the current CEO of Moderna, was formerly the CEO of bioMerieux, a French multinational corporation specializing in medical diagnostic tech, founded by one Alain Merieux. Alain Merieux was one of the individuals who was instrumental in the construction of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s P4 lab. The sequence given as the closest relative to SARS-CoV-2, RaTG13, is not a real virus. It is a forgery. It was made by entering a gene sequence by hand into a database, to create a cover story for the existence of SARS-CoV-2, which is very likely a gain-of-function chimera produced at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and was either leaked by accident or intentionally released. The animal reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 has never been found. This is not a conspiracy “theory”. It is an actual criminal conspiracy, in which people connected to the development of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 are directly connected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and their gain-of-function research by very few degrees of separation, if any. The paper trail is well- established. The lab-leak theory has been suppressed because pulling that thread leads one to inevitably conclude that there is enough circumstantial evidence to link Moderna, the NIH, the WIV, and both the vaccine and the virus’s creation together. In a sane country, this would have immediately led to the world’s biggest RICO and mass murder case. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, Ralph Baric, Shi Zhengli, and Stephane Bancel, and their accomplices, would have been indicted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Instead, billions of our tax dollars were awarded to the perpetrators. The FBI raided Allure Medical in Shelby Township north of Detroit for billing insurance for “fraudulent COVID-19 cures”. The treatment they were using? Intravenous Vitamin C. An antioxidant. Which, as described above, is an entirely valid treatment for COVID-19-induced sepsis, and indeed, is now part of the MATH+ protocol advanced by Dr. Paul E. Marik. The FDA banned ranitidine (Zantac) due to supposed NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine) contamination. Ranitidine is not only an H2 blocker used as antacid, but also has a powerful antioxidant effect, scavenging hydroxyl radicals. This gives it utility in treating COVID-19. The FDA also attempted to take N-acetylcysteine, a harmless amino acid supplement and antioxidant, off the shelves, compelling Amazon to remove it from their online storefront. This leaves us with a chilling question: did the FDA knowingly suppress antioxidants useful for treating COVID-19 sepsis as part of a criminal conspiracy against the American public? The establishment is cooperating with, and facilitating, the worst criminals in human history, and are actively suppressing non-vaccine treatments and therapies in order to compel us to inject these criminals’ products into our bodies. This is absolutely unacceptable. COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Links to Transhumanism: This section deals with some more speculative aspects of the pandemic and the medical and scientific establishment’s reaction to it, as well as the disturbing links between scientists involved in vaccine research and scientists whose work involved merging nanotechnology with living cells. On June 9th, 2020, Charles Lieber, a Harvard nanotechnology researcher with decades of experience, was indicted by the DOJ for fraud. Charles Lieber received millions of dollars in grant money from the US Department of Defense, specifically the military think tanks DARPA, AFOSR, and ONR, as well as NIH and MITRE. His specialty is the use of silicon nanowires in lieu of patch clamp electrodes to monitor and modulate intracellular activity, something he has been working on at Harvard for the past twenty years. He was claimed to have been working on silicon nanowire batteries in China, but none of his colleagues can recall him ever having worked on battery technology in his life; all of his research deals with bionanotechnology, or the blending of nanotech with living cells. The indictment was over his collaboration with the Wuhan University of Technology. He had double- dipped, against the terms of his DOD grants, and taken money from the PRC’s Thousand Talents plan, a program which the Chinese government uses to bribe Western scientists into sharing proprietary R&D information that can be exploited by the PLA for strategic advantage. Charles Lieber’s own papers describe the use of silicon nanowires for brain-computer interfaces, or “neural lace” technology. His papers describe how neurons can endocytose whole silicon nanowires or parts of them, monitoring and even modulating neuronal activity. Charles Lieber was a colleague of Robert Langer. Together, along with Daniel S. Kohane, they worked on a paper describing artificial tissue scaffolds that could be implanted in a human heart to monitor its activity remotely. Robert Langer, an MIT alumnus and expert in nanotech drug delivery, is one of the co-founders of Moderna. His net worth is now $5.1 billion USD thanks to Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine sales. Both Charles Lieber and Robert Langer’s bibliographies describe, essentially, techniques for human enhancement, i.e. transhumanism. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum and the architect behind the so-called “Great Reset”, has long spoken of the “blending of biology and machinery” in his books. Since these revelations, it has come to the attention of independent researchers that the COVID-19 vaccines may contain reduced graphene oxide nanoparticles. Japanese researchers have also found unexplained contaminants in COVID-19 vaccines. Graphene oxide is an anxiolytic. It has been shown to reduce the anxiety of laboratory mice when injected into their brains. Indeed, given SARS-CoV-2 Spike’s propensity to compromise the blood-brain barrier and increase its permeability, it is the perfect protein for preparing brain tissue for extravasation of nanoparticles from the bloodstream and into the brain. Graphene is also highly conductive and, in some circumstances, paramagnetic. In 2013, under the Obama administration, DARPA launched the BRAIN Initiative; BRAIN is an acronym for Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies®. This program involves the development of brain-computer interface technologies for the military, particularly non-invasive, injectable systems that cause minimal damage to brain tissue when removed. Supposedly, this technology would be used for healing wounded soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, the direct brain control of prosthetic limbs, and even new abilities such as controlling drones with one’s mind. Various methods have been proposed for achieving this, including optogenetics, magnetogenetics, ultrasound, implanted electrodes, and transcranial electromagnetic stimulation. In all instances, the goal is to obtain read or read-write capability over neurons, either by stimulating and probing them, or by rendering them especially sensitive to stimulation and probing. However, the notion of the widespread use of BCI technology, such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink device, raises many concerns over privacy and personal autonomy. Reading from neurons is problematic enough on its own. Wireless brain-computer interfaces may interact with current or future wireless GSM infrastructure, creating neurological data security concerns. A hacker or other malicious actor may compromise such networks to obtain people’s brain data, and then exploit it for nefarious purposes. However, a device capable of writing to human neurons, not just reading from them, presents another, even more serious set of ethical concerns. A BCI that is capable of altering the contents of one’s mind for innocuous purposes, such as projecting a heads-up display onto their brain’s visual center or sending audio into one’s auditory cortex, would also theoretically be capable of altering mood and personality, or perhaps even subjugating someone’s very will, rendering them utterly obedient to authority. This technology would be a tyrant’s wet dream. Imagine soldiers who would shoot their own countrymen without hesitation, or helpless serfs who are satisfied to live in literal dog kennels. BCIs could be used to unscrupulously alter perceptions of basic things such as emotions and values, changing people’s thresholds of satiety, happiness, anger, disgust, and so forth. This is not inconsequential. Someone’s entire regime of behaviors could be altered by a BCI, including such things as suppressing their appetite or desire for virtually anything on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Anything is possible when you have direct access to someone’s brain and its contents. Someone who is obese could be made to feel disgust at the sight of food. Someone who is involuntarily celibate could have their libido disabled so they don’t even desire sex to begin with. Someone who is racist could be forced to feel delight over cohabiting with people of other races. Someone who is violent could be forced to be meek and submissive. These things might sound good to you if you are a tyrant, but to normal people, the idea of personal autonomy being overridden to such a degree is appalling. For the wealthy, neural laces would be an unequaled boon, giving them the opportunity to enhance their intelligence with neuroprosthetics (i.e. an “exocortex”), and to deliver irresistible commands directly into the minds of their BCI-augmented servants, even physically or sexually abusive commands that they would normally refuse. If the vaccine is a method to surreptitiously introduce an injectable BCI into millions of people without their knowledge or consent, then what we are witnessing is the rise of a tyrannical regime unlike anything ever seen before on the face of this planet, one that fully intends to strip every man, woman, and child of our free will. Our flaws are what make us human. A utopia arrived at by removing people’s free will is not a utopia at all. It is a monomaniacal nightmare. Furthermore, the people who rule over us are Dark Triad types who cannot be trusted with such power. Imagine being beaten and sexually assaulted by a wealthy and powerful psychopath and being forced to smile and laugh over it because your neural lace gives you no choice but to obey your master. The Elites are forging ahead with this technology without giving people any room to question the social or ethical ramifications, or to establish regulatory frameworks that ensure that our personal agency and autonomy will not be overridden by these devices. They do this because they secretly dream of a future where they can treat you worse than an animal and you cannot even fight back. If this evil plan is allowed to continue, it will spell the end of humanity as we know it. Conclusions: The current pandemic was produced and perpetuated by the establishment, through the use of a virus engineered in a PLA-connected Chinese biowarfare laboratory, with the aid of American taxpayer dollars and French expertise. This research was conducted under the absolutely ridiculous euphemism of “gain-of-function” research, which is supposedly carried out in order to determine which viruses have the highest potential for zoonotic spillover and preemptively vaccinate or guard against them. Gain-of-function/gain-of-threat research, a.k.a. “Dual-Use Research of Concern”, or DURC, is bioweapon research by another, friendlier-sounding name, simply to avoid the taboo of calling it what it actually is. It has always been bioweapon research. The people who are conducting this research fully understand that they are taking wild pathogens that are not infectious in humans and making them more infectious, often taking grants from military think tanks encouraging them to do so. These virologists conducting this type of research are enemies of their fellow man, like pyromaniac firefighters. GOF research has never protected anyone from any pandemic. In fact, it has now started one, meaning its utility for preventing pandemics is actually negative. It should have been banned globally, and the lunatics performing it should have been put in straitjackets long ago. Either through a leak or an intentional release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a deadly SARS strain is now endemic across the globe, after the WHO and CDC and public officials first downplayed the risks, and then intentionally incited a panic and lockdowns that jeopardized people’s health and their livelihoods. This was then used by the utterly depraved and psychopathic aristocratic class who rule over us as an excuse to coerce people into accepting an injected poison which may be a depopulation agent, a mind control/pacification agent in the form of injectable “smart dust”, or both in one. They believe they can get away with this by weaponizing the social stigma of vaccine refusal. They are incorrect. Their motives are clear and obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. These megalomaniacs have raided the pension funds of the free world. Wall Street is insolvent and has had an ongoing liquidity crisis since the end of 2019. The aim now is to exert total, full-spectrum physical, mental, and financial control over humanity before we realize just how badly we’ve been extorted by these maniacs. The pandemic and its response served multiple purposes for the Elite: Concealing a depression brought on by the usurious plunder of our economies conducted by rentier-capitalists and absentee owners who produce absolutely nothing of any value to society whatsoever. Instead of us having a very predictable Occupy Wall Street Part II, the Elites and their stooges got to stand up on television and paint themselves as wise and all-powerful saviors instead of the marauding cabal of despicable land pirates that they are. Destroying small businesses and eroding the middle class. Transferring trillions of dollars of wealth from the American public and into the pockets of billionaires and special interests. Engaging in insider trading, buying stock in biotech companies and shorting brick-and-mortar businesses and travel companies, with the aim of collapsing face-to-face commerce and tourism and replacing it with e-commerce and servitization. Creating a casus belli for war with China, encouraging us to attack them, wasting American lives and treasure and driving us to the brink of nuclear armageddon. Establishing technological and biosecurity frameworks for population control and technocratic- socialist “smart cities” where everyone’s movements are despotically tracked, all in anticipation of widespread automation, joblessness, and food shortages, by using the false guise of a vaccine to compel cooperation. Any one of these things would constitute a vicious rape of Western society. Taken together, they beggar belief; they are a complete inversion of our most treasured values. What is the purpose of all of this? One can only speculate as to the perpetrators’ motives, however, we have some theories. The Elites are trying to pull up the ladder, erase upward mobility for large segments of the population, cull political opponents and other “undesirables”, and put the remainder of humanity on a tight leash, rationing our access to certain goods and services that they have deemed “high-impact”, such as automobile use, tourism, meat consumption, and so on. Naturally, they will continue to have their own luxuries, as part of a strict caste system akin to feudalism. Why are they doing this? Simple. The Elites are Neo-Malthusians and believe that we are overpopulated and that resource depletion will collapse civilization in a matter of a few short decades. They are not necessarily incorrect in this belief. We are overpopulated, and we are consuming too many resources. However, orchestrating such a gruesome and murderous power grab in response to a looming crisis demonstrates that they have nothing but the utmost contempt for their fellow man. To those who are participating in this disgusting farce without any understanding of what they are doing, we have one word for you. Stop. You are causing irreparable harm to your country and to your fellow citizens. To those who may be reading this warning and have full knowledge and understanding of what they are doing and how it will unjustly harm millions of innocent people, we have a few more words. Damn you to hell. You will not destroy America and the Free World, and you will not have your New World Order. We will make certain of that. *  *  * This PDF document contains 14 pages, followed by another 17 pages of references. For those, please visit the original PDF file at Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter. *  *  * We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support. Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Donate with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 27th, 2021

Crystal Cruises ship diverts to Bahamas with 700 people on board after arrest warrant issued over $1.2m unpaid fuel bill: reports

Operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd is millions of dollars in debt and its Crystal Symphony ship could be seized at any US port, per multiple outlets. The Crystal Symphony ship.Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images A Crystal Cruises ship diverted to the Bahamas in an apparent attempt to escape an arrest warrant.  The warrant relates to an unpaid fuel bill, according to case documents obtained by USA Today. A US marshal would be prepared to arrest the ship if it showed up in Miami, per Bloomberg. A Crystal Cruises ship with hundreds of passengers and crew onboard has diverted from its scheduled stop in Miami after an arrest warrant was issued, multiple outlets reported.The Crystal Symphony was due to return to Miami on Saturday, following a 14-day Caribbean voyage, but instead traveled to Bimini in the Bahamas, per The Daily Mail.According to Bloomberg, if the ship docks in Miami, the terms of the warrant would allow it to be seized to repay $1.2 million in unpaid fuel bills, apparently owed by its operator, Genting Hong Kong Ltd. But officials can't take any action in the Bahamas.The warrant resulted from a lawsuit filed by Peninsula Petroleum Far East Wednesday against Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises Limited, per USA Today. Crystal Cruises did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. One passenger tweeted to travel agent Mundy Cruising: "Can you help me change my flight to Heathrow from Miami as we are stuck on Crystal Symphony which has changed route and is now heading for Bahamas instead of Miami." Elio Pace, a musician performing aboard the ship, told the Daily Mail that "every one of these people are trying to reschedule their flights." But he noted that "there's no panic, there's no tantrums going on."Pace, however, said in an interview with USA Today that he hopes he will be compensated for the additional time he's had to spend onboard. —John (@johndresner) January 21, 2022Passengers had to wait overnight Saturday to be transported by a ferry to Fort Lauderdale after the diversion, The Daily Mail reported. Cruise companies have faced many challenges in recent months, particularly in relation to the pandemic. Earlier this month, staff and passengers on Norwegian Getaway and Royal Caribbean ships described their difficult quarantine experiences after contracting COVID-19.Another passenger on an unspecified cruise ship, recently said she experienced "panic and anxiety" while isolating for six days in a windowless cabin.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 23rd, 2022

For Leftists, Your Freedom Is Their Misery – Your Slavery Is Their Joy

For Leftists, Your Freedom Is Their Misery – Your Slavery Is Their Joy Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, There is a certain level of madness required to reach the state our country is in today. I think most of us feel this and know this but I want to dissect the situation a little so that we can see the guts of the thing and understand the mechanics of it. Insanity has a structure, believe it or not, and there are ways to analyze it and identify it. For example, there are many forms of madness that stem from an obsession with power and control. In my previous article ‘Is There A Way To Prevent Psychopaths From Getting Into Positions Of Power’, I explored the thinking patterns and predatory habits of the worst 1% of humanity and how they insinuate themselves into authority by blending in (until they have all the power and no longer need to blend it). Now I want to talk more about the OTHER unstable people, the 5%-10% of the population that psychopaths exploit as a mob or army to frighten everyone else into conformity and help them achieve their goals. To be clear, almost any group can become an exploitable weapon used by psychopaths. There have been times in history where the elites within the Catholic Church used zealotry among Christians to dominate society to the point of torture and terror during the inquisitions and crusades. During the George W. Bush era I remember well the lies about WMDs used to herd Republicans into pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, that is the past. Today the problem of zealotry is resoundingly on the side of the political left. That is to say, the political left is now the side that is most appealing to narcissists, sociopaths, the emotionally unstable, etc., and this attraction is forming a mob that can be easily exploited by the establishment. What I find interesting is that leftists actually believe that THEY are the underdogs and that they are fighting a “revolution” against the establishment. This is a bizarre disconnect from reality. Every major institution of power and influence in the US is on the side of the political left. How can you be rebelling against the establishment if all your values coincide with the establishment’s agenda? The mainstream media and Hollywood have gone hardline in favor of leftist propaganda from critical race theory to the trans agenda and identity politics to feminism to socialism and centralization. Nearly every commercial, TV show and movie we see today reflects a far-left viewpoint or far left imagery, even though the majority of the population has no interest in woke ideology. Clearly, leftists and their friends in media think that if they force their cultism into people’s faces non-stop 24/7 that we will eventually capitulate and embrace it. Big Tech and major social media platforms ALL operate according to leftist politics. All of their terms of service rules are enforced to protect leftists from criticism and to censor conservatives and any moderates that dare speak up. The evidence overwhelmingly shows a left leaning bias in Big Tech censorship with conservatives being booted off platforms for nothing more than citing facts. We saw this recently with Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia GOP representative, who was banned from Twitter and called a “far-right conspiracy theorist” for posting links to the VAERS database. For those unfamiliar with VAERS, it is a database run by the US government to track the adverse effects of vaccinations including covid vaccinations. While the numbers have been manipulated in the past (which the CDC claims was due to “reporting errors”), VAERS has still reported thousands upon thousands of deaths and side effects directly related to the covid vaccines, but you aren’t supposed to know about that. So, Greene gets booted from Twitter for posting the government’s own data, which is now only accessible if you go through a maze of links to get to the downloads. Social media is also commonly used as a weapon by leftists in order to “cancel” people that step out of line. An American Airlines pilot was attacked this week by a Twitter mob when a crazed feminist recorded images of his luggage. His crime? A small sticker on his suitcase which said “Lets Go Brandon.” The woman and her Twitter cohorts called for the pilot to be fired and American Airlines is “investigating” the issue. This is just one instance among thousands in the past few years that illustrate the sheer rage leftists feel when they are faced with a free thinking person. Their immediate reaction is to punish and destroy rather than accept and move on. But where does this mentality come from? I think it’s a combination of a culture of narcissism and collectivism coupled with a desperate desire for weak people to feel as though they are powerful. Leftists are very commonly people you might call the “runners-up” in life. There are a lot of malcontents and socially inept failures in their ranks that grow up feeling powerless. Instead of improving their lot by improving themselves and achieving something of merit, they instead blame others and the world for their lack of accomplishment. This mentality can also be seen with their academia which often exaggerates their own importance and the importance of their accolades. One can get a masters degree in social sciences or feminist studies, but how useful is that person to the world really? Being an activist alone is not a career and they produce nothing, so the only measure of their education and their life is how much they can destroy, not how much they can build and create. Joe Rogan’s latest move from Twitter over to GETTR is another big story that leftists are losing their minds over. They act as though they just want to be rid of conservatives and argumentative moderates from their “safe spaces,” but in reality this does not satisfy them. They don’t want us to walk away, they want us to conform. They want us trapped within their echo chambers and going along to get along, or, they want us erased. Leftists see people as property of the collective, and if you and millions of others walk away this reflects badly on their ideology, which is unacceptable. This is why they are CONSTANTLY attacking or trying to take down conservative social media platforms. You would think they would be happy that GETTR exists, but they are miserable. Your freedom is their misery. Think about that for a moment; there are millions of leftists out there that cannot abide your existence if you are free to express your discontent with their narrative. When Joe Rogan contracted covid the leftists were jittery with excitement hoping he would die. When he beat the virus in less than three days without being vaccinated they cried out in horror. It’s as if they don’t realize that most unvaccinated people have had the virus and have easily survived it (I had covid for a week and then I was fine – I will NEVER get vaccinated). Maybe they are aware that the vaccines are mostly pointless. Maybe what really bothers them is that the unvaxxed are free and do not conform to the mandates or the fear mongering? Maybe they are more concerned about the act of defiance rather than any issues of legitimate “health safety”…? And this brings me to the relationship between the majority of government and the political left, which are working hand in hand to push forward covid controls and vax mandates. I’ve said this before and I’ll point it out again – There is no longer any debate about who the authoritarians really are. If you want to be free from overt government intrusion and tyranny you go to a conservative red state. If you want to be a slave to bureaucracy you go to a progressive blue state. Red states value individual freedom – Blue states do not. This is undeniable. Leftists are not the rebels they think they are; they are not the heroes – They are the villains. They are the empire. I believe the vax mandate agenda in particular appeals to their innate desire for control over others. This is evident in their crazed rhetoric over the vaccination issue. The LA Times just published an Op-Ed titled ‘Mocking Anti-Vaxxers’ Covid Deaths Is Ghoulish, Yes – But May Be Necessary’ (originally titled ‘Why Shouldn’t We Dance On The Graves Of Anti-Vaxxers?), and it’s this kind of bloodthirsty propaganda that truly reveals the extend of the political left’s broken psychology. They want you to die for going against the mandates. They seem to think that covid is their avenging angel, but this only shows that they are too dumb to understand basic science or too malicious to think rationally. The Biden Administration has been a key element in fear mongering over the covid pandemic, which has an average Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of 0.26% to 0.27% according to dozens of peer reviewed studies, and now with the even less dangerous Omicron strain the death rate is plummeting further. The overwhelming majority of people have NOTHING to fear from covid, yet leftists readily rally around Biden and his medical tyranny. Furthermore, the bias (or ignorance) of the LA Times is made clear when we look at the actual data for Breakthrough Cases. Breakthrough cases are covid infections and deaths among fully vaccinated individuals. As a point of reference, in the state of Massachusetts alone there have been over 262,000 fully vaccinated people who still ended up infected with covid and 1054 deaths according to official numbers. That is an infection fatality rate of 0.4%, which is HIGHER than the national average IFR of 0.27%. The most vaccinated countries in the world are also suffering from the worst infection spikes in the world. In Ireland, for example, over 63% of recent covid deaths were fully vaccinated individuals. In Israel, nearly 60% of covid hospitalizations are fully vaccinated. Uruguay, Bahrain, Maldives and Chile all have overwhelming majority vaccination rates and all of them have seen spikes in covid deaths and and infections. According to the UK government’s own stats, people who are triple vaxxed are 4.5 times more likely to be infected with Omicron than people who are unvaxxed. The average vaccine is tested for 10-15 years before it is approved for use on human beings, yet covid vaccines were released within months with no long term testing to prove their safety. It makes perfect sense for people to be concerned. So, I would ask the hacks at the LA Times: Should we be dancing on your graves when you die from covid despite all those miraculous untested vaccines? Or maybe when you end up dead and on the VAERS list due to vaccine side effects? Autoimmune disorders can take 2-4 years to gestate and be identified by doctors; maybe in 2024 you’ll be wishing you had taken a wait-and-see approach to the untested vaccines like all the smart people are doing? This is called logic, reason and science. The above data is beyond the mental grasp of many leftists and even when they do get it they ignore it. They have no interest in protecting your health or the health of the public, that’s not what this is about. What they care about is control and nothing would bring them more joy than to see 100% conformity and slavery to their ideals. They live vicariously through tyranny. The pandemic paranoia, the lockdowns, the mandates, Big Tech, social media, cancel culture are all means to an end. Leftists pretend they are humanitarians that care about the greater good, but this is a facade. It’s just another excuse to justify a deep seated thirst to micromanage the lives of others. A classic tactic of narcissistic sociopaths is to victimize and terrorize people, then accuse them of being monsters when those people snap back and rebel.   They are projecting their tyranny on the rest of us and label us the bad guys.  It’s time to end the theater and call leftists what they really are – They are the dictators they claim they are trying to fight. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Sat, 01/15/2022 - 23:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

What do you do when your country tortures you? Syrian refugees are finding a landmark pathway to justice in German courts.

Former Syrian intelligence officers were convicted in a landmark war-crimes case in Germany. Former detainees told Insider it's just the beginning. Eyad al-Gharib, a Syrian defendant, arriving to hear his verdict in a courtroom in Koblenz, Germany, on February 24.Thomas Lohnes/ APWafa Ali Mustafa was 10 years old when her father, Ali, hoisted her onto his shoulders at her first protest in 2000.Every Thursday, when protests would flow through Damascus' jasmine-lined streets and Mustafa's school administered exams, they enjoyed a cheeky ritual. Ali would say Wafa, his eldest of three daughters, was sick, and they would drive close to three hours from their hometown, Masyaf, to the capital.Overlooking crowds, Mustafa absorbed the political education her father was instilling in her.In 2011, when Syrians took to the streets en masse to demand basic human and democratic rights and the fall of President Bashar Assad's dictatorship, Mustafa faced a choice.With her father's background as an activist in Syria, she knew those choosing to publicly defy the government faced death or disappearance. But on March 25, 2011, while studying at Damascus University, Mustafa rejected her friends' concerns and joined the protests."My dad told me, 'OK, if this is what you want to do, then do it,'" Mustafa told Insider. "At some point, I even asked my dad: 'Why aren't you just like all other fathers? I mean, aren't you scared for me?'"Mustafa spent months with other Syrians her age attending protests, calling for the end of Assad's government."I would call him, and I would say, 'I went to this wedding today,'" Mustafa said. "He would understand that the wedding is a protest. I would say: 'Yeah, it's very nice. I was very excited. We danced a lot. The music was very nice.'"As the Syrian army began to answer protests with gunfire, Mustafa stayed politically engaged by talking to her father. He had moved to Damascus to be closer to her, having himself been arrested just over 100 miles north in Hama, the province where Masyaf is located. Throughout Mustafa's youth, she said, her father had been arrested for organizing politically in Hama and was known to the country's security apparatus.Mustafa's mother remained in Masyaf with her youngest sister, and Mustafa lived in Damascus with her other sister, fearing that the entire family's presence together in the capital would bring more attention to Ali."My father told me: 'Your participation is not my decision. If you think that you want to do this, you better know the consequences, and you better take responsibility,'" Mustafa said. "So I did. He also did."In July 2013, after years apart — and as the uprising metastasized into civil war — Mustafa's parents were set for a reunion.Mustafa's mother traveled to Damascus from Masyaf with her youngest sister. The three-hour journey from their hometown had become a seven-hour ordeal with government checkpoints."She cooked his favorite food, my sisters and I were laughing at them, thinking mom and my dad are having a honeymoon again," Mustafa said. Before her mother arrived, Ali called saying everything was perfect and ready.But on that day, the worst fear held by her family and many others in Syria came true. Assad's security forces arrested Ali and his best friend before Mustafa's mother arrived in Damascus. Mustafa hasn't heard from her father in over 3,100 days.The Syrian activist Wafa Mustafa holding a picture of her father during a protest outside the trial in Koblenz in June 2020.Thomas Lohnes/Getty ImagesA 10-year civil and proxy war has raged in Syria, killing at least 350,000 people, leaving 6.7 million more internally displaced, and sending over 6.6 million Syrians abroad as refugees.At least half of the country's population is displaced.Mustafa, who was detained in Syria in 2011, is now a refugee. She lives in Berlin, where she has spent her time studying, writing, and advocating on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people who, like her father, are believed to have been detained, tortured, or disappeared by forces loyal to Assad.According to the UN, as of last year, tens of thousands of people were missing in Assad's prisons.Her advocacy no longer involves protests in the streets of Syria, but her father is still at the center of her work.She is now part of a network of lawyers, advocates, European partners, and refugees in Germany, France, and Sweden pursuing a novel form of justice whose targets are outside Syria's borders — including former Syrian officials accused of working as intelligence officials in notorious prisons.A long, uncertain road to justiceIn the city of Koblenz, Germany, a roughly seven-hour drive from Berlin, two former Syrian officials stood accused of war crimes in a first-of-its-kind trial.The trial, which began in April 2020, was different from one in an American court: Two people were listed as defendants, and five judges heard evidence from more than 30 witness accounts and 17 joint plaintiffs.Anwar Raslan, one of the two men charged by German officials in October 2019, defected from Syria in 2012 and resettled in Germany in 2014 as a refugee. The other man charged, Eyad al-Gharib, was granted asylum in Germany in 2018.The effort to bring them to trial was led by a prominent Syrian human-rights lawyer named Anwar al-Bunni, whose 2014 chance encounter in a Turkish supermarket near a Berlin refugee camp may have changed the course of Syria's justice efforts.Al-Bunni told The Guardian he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Raslan at a market. Al-Bunni says he recognized Raslan because he played a part in his own imprisonment and torture in the Adra prison in Damascus. The trial first resulted in the conviction of al-Gharib, a former low-ranking intelligence official, who was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison on February 24, 2021, after being found guilty of "aiding and abetting 30 cases of crimes against humanity."On Thursday, Raslan, a former higher-ranking intelligence official, was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was found guilty of being the co-perpetrator of torture and overseeing the killings of 27 people, along with charges related to rape and sexual assault of detainees.Thursday's ruling makes him the most senior member of the Syrian government apparatus to face repercussions.The former Syrian intelligence officer Anwar Raslan on Thursday ahead of his guilty verdict.Thomas Frey/Getty ImagesProsecutors say Raslan helped run Branch 251, a notorious prison unit near Damascus also deemed the al-Khatib Branch, or "hell on Earth," where the UN Human Rights Council says thousands have been tortured, killed, and disappeared.What happened behind closed doors at Branch 251 was the focus of the evidence and testimonies from dozens of Syrian torture survivors in the trial.Raslan pleaded not guilty. His attorneys said it was "very clear" that torture was committed in Branch 251 but maintained throughout the trial that no crimes against humanity occurred under Raslan's authority or volition.Hana al Hatimi, a court reporter at the trial, explained on the podcast "Branch 251" that on December 16, during the last session for Raslan before the verdict, Raslan and his defense painted a picture that he had no personal decision-making power over any instances of torture or violence in Branch 251 — and that his defection, and attempts to expose other officials harming prisoners, were based on a principled rejection of such practices.In a prepared statement that his lawyers read to the court, Raslan wrote, "I left my job, I left 26 years in office behind, because I didn't want to be the reason that prisoners were hurt, or that their blood was spilled," adding that he "rejected being an instrument to abuse and killing."He said that without his efforts many more would have been brutalized, and he quoted a Quran verse that says "if you kill someone, it is like killing all of mankind, and if you give life to someone it is like giving life to all of mankind."Raslan argued that he and his family were also victims of terror from the Syrian state.In the verdict, the judges seemed to reject those claims. After hearing from more than 80 witnesses, many of whom had interacted with Raslan in prison, judges said Raslan was responsible for the torture of at least 4,000 people from 2011 to 2012.Reuters/ Annegret HilseThe Assad government has, to this point, largely enjoyed impunity for actions the UN describes as stamping out dissent and waging a war against its citizens that has included chemical attacks, torture, and forced disappearances.There has been no serious international effort to remove Assad from power, nor have any current members of Assad's government been prosecuted, with Russia and China using their UN Security Council vetoes to block any referral to the International Criminal Court. Russian military intervention in 2015 has served to bolster Assad's government, and varying military campaigns by Iran, the US, Israel, and Turkey have preserved the status quo of war.None of this is due to a lack of evidence that Assad's government has engaged in a campaign of indiscriminate killing against its own people; the UN has described a state policy of "extermination."A report from the Syrian Center for Human Rights detailed 72 types of torture employed in Syrian prisons, including the use of electric shocks and boiling water, as well as a method of abuse in which detainees' hands are tied behind their back and they are raised by the same rope, which itself is tied to rings fixed to the ceiling — "leaving their body suspended from the ground so the full weight is hanging from the wrists."Landmark cases, but a 3rd-best optionBarred from pursuing those at the top, legal groups like the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Syrian groups like the Violations Documentation Center and the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, and open-source researchers have collaborated and built cases around a central legal premise: universal jurisdiction.Universal jurisdiction is an international legal mechanism whereby Syrians living in countries such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden can submit complaints to the state's investigative war-crimes units for crimes they say Assad loyalists, or others in Syria, committed."As one of the victims, as one of the players in this movement, we don't think or believe that this is true justice," Mazen al-Darwish, a lead lawyer in the Koblenz trial who is the head of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, told Insider.Al-Darwish, formerly a journalist and lawyer in Syria, was imprisoned in 2012 and held without charge for three years. He says he was tortured. And, ultimately, he would like to see a new government in Syria."This is just an alternative" to action by the UN or the International Criminal Court, he said, welcoming the guilty verdicts as a positive first step.Following the start of the Koblenz trial, the Netherlands became the first country to take an official diplomatic position holding the Syrian government responsible for state torture. "The first best option obviously would be fair trials in Syria," Fritz Streiff, a consultant and lawyer working with al-Darwish's organization, told Insider. "People commit crimes, you put them on trial in your own country. If that's not possible, then you go for international justice. If that's not possible, then you go for national justice in foreign nations."This process of universal jurisdiction led to al-Gharib's and Raslan's convictions and a host of other criminal complaints against Syria's rulers."And now we can say that torture — it's happened not because we said that, not because of a story of the victim, this is legally by an independent court, by an professional judge, finding that, 'Yes, the security services use torture in systematic way,'" al-Darwish told Insider.Al-Darwish's group, alongside the Open Society Foundations' Justice Initiative and the Syrian Archive, has also submitted a joint criminal complaint in France charging the Syrian government with the 2013 sarin-gas attack in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, which killed 1,400 people, per the UN and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.The Syrian lawyer and human-rights activist Mazen Darwish talking to journalists on Thursday outside the courthouse where Raslan stood on trial in Koblenz.Berndt Reuter/Getty ImagesAnother criminal investigation underway in Sweden follows the French complaint, charging the government with responsibility in the 2013 attack as well as the 2017 Khan Sheikhoun chemical attacks. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has accused the Syrian army of masterminding sarin and chlorine gas attacks in 2017 and 2018, calling them the "most serious breach" possible of the Convention Weapons Convention, accusations the Syrian government denies.In one of history's most documented conflicts, preservation of evidence is keyThe legal fight against the Syrian government is detailed in the documentary "Bringing Assad to Justice." The filmmakers Ronan Tynan and Anne Daly splice harrowing footage of death (photos of 11,000 corpses were leaked by a whistleblower known only by a pseudonym, "Caesar") with the testimony of survivors of places such as Sadnaya, the military prison where thousands of others have disappeared.Firsthand testimony not only preserves the historical record, but the film shows how it's being used to seek justice, even in the face of disinformation.Since before the trial, Syria and its chief ally, Russia, have flooded social media with disinformation designed to muddle questions over who is responsible for war crimes. That made it important to gather as much authentic evidence as possible to convict the two former intel officers.The whistleblower Caesar's photos, for example, include not just dead bodies but individual detainee numbers; the branch of the security forces that arrested them; and the number assigned to their corpse. The Caesar file, which contains photographic evidence of thousands of people tortured or killed in Syrian prisons, was used as evidence at the Koblenz trial."The amount of evidence, especially the amount of documents that CIJA has collected to date, is unprecedented," Nerma Jelacic, the Commission for International Justice and Accountability's director for management and external relations, said in the documentary. "We've got a treasure of indisputable material produced by the perpetrating party itself.""The threats will increase for people like Mazen, for people like Anwar al-Bunni, for their researchers on the ground, for victim-support groups," Kristyan Benedict, a crisis-response manager for Amnesty International, told Insider."Certainly, when Eyad al-Gharib was sent to prison, you started to see an increase in intimidation of witnesses," he added. Benedict added that throughout the trial, witnesses and plaintiffs had trouble securing court-ordered witness protection for families living in Syria or outside Germany.Fear of speaking out persists, and so does the fear of inactionBenedict, advocates, and lawyers involved in the justice efforts told Insider that throughout the gathering of evidence and trials, many Syrians who have offered testimony have feared retribution, again."The Mukhabarat" — Syrian intelligence forces — "have a very, very long reach. They can reach people in Europe, in France, in Germany, certainly in Turkey," Benedict said, adding that the organization had helped many of the Syrian and victim-led groups bolster their security imprint. Amnesty has also advised al-Darwish and other groups on legal strategies and pressured countries to develop investigative war-crimes units.Al-Darwish added that the success of the trial in Koblenz against al-Gharib had been a boon in terms of being able to show victims and Syrian refugees that pathways to justice existed for Syrians.But there is a fear too among advocates that in the short term neighboring countries are normalizing relations with Syria, willing to forget the government's actions in exchange for trade and security cooperation. Interpol's move to readmit Syria in 2021 makes it easier for the Syrian government to pursue dissidents outside the country."Justice, for me — it's not tools for revenge, not political tools to support this party or that party, justice for me — it's the truth and the guarantee that this will not happen again," al-Darwish said."And to see those people sanctioned, but most importantly to see the birth of a new Syria with a sustainable peace because without justice, I believe that it will not be easy to guarantee sustainable peace," al-Darwish added.On Monday, Wassim Mukdad, a Branch 251 survivor who was a plaintiff in Raslan's case, said, "We want some proof that our suffering counted for something. I hope that me, and a lot of others, were able to give a voice to those who couldn't share their stories."Mustafa on June 4 in Koblenz.Thomas Lohnes/Getty ImagesWhile Mustafa is involved in the broader activism, the political will always be personal as she strives to achieve justice for her father. In 2020, Mustafa would sit outside the Koblenz courthouse with a portrait of her father, flanked by portraits of other missing Syrian detainees.In March 2021, Mustafa spoke with the UN General Assembly and alongside other families launched the Charter for Truth and Justice, a victim-centered list of demands calling for the immediate release of detainees, and an end to inhumane treatment and sexual-based violence in Syria."I think that all Syrians are now in a very challenging and crucial stage where for the first time we are at a stage where we are presented something that is supposed to be justice," Mustafa said. "And we have to decide for ourselves whether this is what we imagined or not."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 14th, 2022

Norwegian Cruise (NCLH) Expands Prima Class Fleet With New Ship

Norwegian Cruise (NCLH) unveils a new Prima Class brand ship, Norwegian Viva. The ship is scheduled to debut in Mediterranean destinations in June 2023. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. NCLH recently unveiled its new ship, Norwegian Viva, to its fleet of the Prima Class vessel. The 142,500-ton unit marks the brand’s second ship following the launch of Norwegian Prima in August 2021.Manufactured by Fincantieri in Marghera, Italy, the 3,219-guest capacity ship comprises 107 suites, including an expansive sundeck, an infinity pool as well as an outdoor spa with a glass-walled sauna and a cold room. It also features Ocean Boulevard (including a 44,000-square-foot outdoor walk), an outdoor sculpture garden, an Ocean walk and the Indulge Food Hall. Additional recreational activities, such as freefall drop slides at sea (The Rush and The Drop) as well as a three-level racetrack (Viva Speedway), are also made available.With respect to this, Harry Sommer, president and the chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line, stated, "Norwegian Viva sets the standard in the premium segment, illustrating our commitment to pushing boundaries in four main areas: wide open space, service that puts guests first, thoughtful design and experiences beyond expectation.”Going forward, the company remains optimistic about welcoming guests as the ship is scheduled to debut in Mediterranean destinations in June 2023. Scheduled from Jun 15 to Nov 6, 2023, the ship will operate on a series of eight, nine and 10-day voyages from Lisbon, Portugal; Venice (Trieste) and Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; and Athens (Piraeus), Greece. Also, the company emphasized the 2023-2024 winter season with scheduled sailings from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Southern Caribbean, starting Dec 15, 2023.Focus on Fleet Size ExpansionNorwegian Cruise is constantly looking to expand its fleet size. It has plans to introduce nine more ships through 2027. Most of them are on order for the Norwegian Cruise Line and the rest are for Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. For the Regent brand, it has one Explorer Class Ship to be delivered in 2023. For the Oceania Cruises brand, the company has two Allura Class Ships to be delivered in 2023 and 2025. With project Leonardo, Norwegian Cruise will have additional six ships with expected delivery dates from 2022 through 2027.Price PerformanceImage Source: Zacks Investment ResearchShares of NCLH have declined 15.9% in the past year against the industry's 4% growth. The dismal performance was mainly due to the COVID-19 crisis. A rise in cases has led to last-minute voyage cancelations. Although the company has announced the restart of cruise voyages, it is unable to evaluate the overall impact of the pandemic on its long-term or short-term business results. Earnings estimates for 2022 have remained unchanged in the past 30 days, limiting the upside potential of the stock.However, strong demand and growth in booking volumes are likely to aid the company in the upcoming periods. Despite the impact of the Delta variant, the company’s overall cumulative booked position for full-year 2022 is in line with 2019’s record levels. Also, the increased focus on fleet-expansion efforts is enabling the company to gain traction. The company was operating at nearly 40% of its capacity by the end of the third quarter of 2021.Zacks Rank & Key PicksNorwegian Cruise currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Some better-ranked stocks from the Consumer Discretionary sector include Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. HGV, Bluegreen Vacations Holding Corporation BVH and RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc. RICK.Hilton Grand Vacations sports a Zacks Rank #1. The company has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 411.1%, on average. Shares of Hilton Grand Vacations have increased 63.4% in the past year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for HGV’s 2022 sales and earnings per share (EPS) suggests growth of 27.7% and 154.4%, respectively, from the year-ago period’s levels.Bluegreen Vacations sports a Zacks Rank #1. The company has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 695%, on average. Shares of Bluegreen Vacations have surged 145.4% in the past year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for BVH’s 2022 sales and EPS indicates a rise of 7.6% and 0.4%, respectively, from the year-ago period’s levels.RCI Hospitality sports a Zacks Rank #1. The company has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 67.7%, on average. Shares of RCI Hospitality have surged 109.7% in the past year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for RICK’s 2022 sales and EPS suggests growth of 34.9% and 22.1%, respectively, from the year-ago period’s levels. Bitcoin, Like the Internet Itself, Could Change Everything Blockchain and cryptocurrency has sparked one of the most exciting discussion topics of a generation. Some call it the “Internet of Money” and predict it could change the way money works forever. If true, it could do to banks what Netflix did to Blockbuster and Amazon did to Sears. Experts agree we’re still in the early stages of this technology, and as it grows, it will create several investing opportunities. Zacks’ has just revealed 3 companies that can help investors capitalize on the explosive profit potential of Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies with significantly less volatility than buying them directly. See 3 crypto-related stocks now >>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 Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH): Free Stock Analysis Report RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc. (RICK): Free Stock Analysis Report Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. (HGV): Free Stock Analysis Report Bluegreen Vacations Holding Corporation (BVH): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJan 13th, 2022

Futures Flat Ahead Of Another Scorching PPI Print

Futures Flat Ahead Of Another Scorching PPI Print US futures were little changed on Thursday one day after the highest CPI print since 1982 and just minutes before another red hot PPI print is expected (9.8%, up from 9.6%), as investors tried to gauge the timing and pace of monetary tightening. S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.1% as investors waited for the next trading signal. 10Y yields were flat around 1.74%, and the dollar edged lower as a growing tide of investors bet the world’s reserve currency has reached a peak with rate hikes largely priced-in to the market with Fed tightening likely to lead to an economic slowdown. “Markets in 2022 have been volatile as the reality of inflation set in, and this reaction mainly reflects relief that the print did not exceed already lofty expectations,” Geir Lode, head of global equities at the international business of Federated Hermes, said in an email. Inflation hitting 7% could force a quicker move by the Federal Reserve, with the market now pricing four rate hikes this year starting no later than March, according to technical analyst Pierre Veyret at ActivTrades in London. “Investors still struggle with one crucial question: how will the Fed manage to tackle rising price pressure without derailing the fragile post-pandemic economic recovery?” Sure enough, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly and her Philadelphia peer Patrick Harker added their voices to the chorus in interviews published yesterday evening and this morning, calling for a rate hike as soon as March when odds of a rate hike have hit a new high of 90%. Attention today will be on the confirmation hearing of Lael Brainard in the Senate. The vice-chair nominee, who last publicly commented on the economic outlook in September, said in prepared remarks that tackling inflation is the bank’s “most important task.” In premarket trading, shares in Delta Air Lines rose more than 2% even though the carrier missed revenue and EPS expectations, after the company said the omicron variant won’t derail its expectation to remain profitable for the rest of the year, as it released fourth-quarter financial results. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: U.S. chip stocks are mixed in premarket trading after sector bellwether TSMC gave a 1Q sales outlook that beat estimates and raised its projected annual capex versus last year. Equipment stock Applied Materials (AMAT US) +2% premarket, while TSMC customers are mixed with Apple (AAPL US) -0.1%, Nvidia (NVDA US) +0.7% and AMD (AMD US) +0.6%. Puma Biotechnology (PBYI US) shares surge 13% in U.S. premarket trading, after the company said that its Nerlynx treatment was included in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) clinical practice guidelines in oncology for the treatment of breast cancer. KB Home (KBH US) shares rise 6.2% in premarket trading after the homebuilder’s 4Q EPS beat estimates, with Wells Fargo calling the results and guidance “solid.” Planet Labs (PL US) shares rise 1.6% in U.S. premarket trading, after the satellite data provider said that it plans to launch 44 SuperDove satellites on Thursday on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Adagio Therapeutics (ADGI US) said ADG20 has neutralization activity against omicron and cites recent findings from three publications on ADG20. Shares jumped 30% in post-market trading. Discussing yesterday's scorching CPI print, DB's Jim Reid writes that "if you did an MRI scan of US inflation yesterday you’d find things to support both sides of the debate which is surprising when it hit 7% YoY and the highest since 1982 when Fed Funds were more than 13% rather than close to zero as they are today. So a slightly different real rate to back then. In fact the real rate is through any level seen in the 1970s and is only comparable to WWII levels. Back to CPI and the YoY number was in line with expectations, but core and MoM figures were all a bit firmer than expected. However, the beats were small enough that the data didn’t significantly change the outlook for monetary policy, with Fed funds futures still pricing in an 89% chance of a March hike, which is roughly around where it’d been over the preceding days." In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index paused after a two-day advance, erasing early declines of as much as 0.3% to trade little changed, with technology and automotive shares offsetting losses in consumer products and health care. CAC 40 underperforms, dropping as much as 0.6%. The Stoxx Europe 600 Technology sub-index is up 1.1%, getting a boost from chip stocks which gained after sector bellwether TSMC gave a 1Q sales outlook that beat estimates and raised its projected annual capex versus last year. Geberit dropped as much as 4.5% to a seven-month low after the Swiss producer of sanitary installations reported fourth-quarter sales. Bloomberg Dollar Spot dips into the red pushing most majors to best levels of the session. NZD, AUD and GBP are the best G-10 performers. Crude futures maintain a relatively narrow range. WTI is flat near $82.70, Brent stalls near $84.84. Spot gold dips before finding support near $1,820/oz. Most base metals are in the red with LME zinc lagging peers.  Asian stocks were little changed after capping their biggest rally in a year, with health-care and software-technology names retreating while financials advanced. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fluctuated between a drop of 0.3% and a gain of 0.2% on Thursday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Tech Index lost 1.8% after rising the most in three months in the previous session. Benchmarks in China and Japan were the day’s worst performers, while the Philippines and Australia outperformed.   “The market rose a bit too much yesterday,” said Mamoru Shimode, chief strategist at Resona Asset Management in Tokyo. “Investors keep shifting back and forth from value stocks to growth names and vise versa. It’s because we don’t know yet where U.S. long-term yields will end up settling around.”  The Asian stock measure jumped 1.9% Wednesday on views that the Federal Reserve’s anticipated rate hikes will help curb inflation and allow the global recovery to chug along. U.S. inflation readings overnight, at an almost four-decade high, were in line with expectations and helped investors keep previous bets Japanese stocks fell after Tokyo raised its Covid-19 alert to the second-highest level on a four-tier system. The Topix dropped 0.7% to 2,005.58 at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 declined 1% to 28,489.13. Recruit Holdings Co. contributed the most to the Topix’s decline, decreasing 4%. Out of 2,181 shares in the index, 500 rose and 1,604 fell, while 77 were unchanged. HIS, Japan Airlines and other travel shares fell. Tokyo’s daily cases jumped more than fivefold on Wednesday to 2,198 compared with 390 a week earlier. India’s benchmark equity index eeked out gains to complete its longest string of advances since mid-October, buoyed by the nation’s top two IT firms after their earnings reports. The S&P BSE Sensex rose for a fifth day, adding 0.1% to close at 61,235.30 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index climbed 0.3%. Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services were among the biggest boosts to both measures. Of the 30 shares in the Sensex index, 19 rose and 11 fell. Thirteen of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. advanced, led by a gauge of metal companies.  Infosys’ quarterly earnings beat and bellwether Tata Consultancy Services’s better-than-expected sales offer some hope that the rally in India’s technology sector has further room to run, according to analysts. Still, Wipro sank the most in a year after its profit missed estimates Fixed income is relatively quiet, with changes across major curves limited to less than a basis point so far. The 10-year yield stalled around 1.75%, slightly cheaper on the day, and broadly in line with bunds and gilts. Eurodollar futures bear steepen a touch after a round of hawkish Fedspeak during Asian hours. Treasuries were steady with yields broadly within a basis point of Wednesday’s close.  Eurodollars are slightly lower across green- and blue-pack contracts after Fed’s Daly and Harker sounded hawkish tones during Asia hours. Across front-end, eurodollar strip steepens out to blue-pack contracts (Mar25-Dec25), which are lower by up to 4bp. 30-year bond reopening at 1pm ET concludes this week’s coupon auction cycle.$22b 30-year reopening at 1pm ET follows 0.3bp tail in Wednesday’s 10-year auction, and large tails in last two 30-year sales. The WI 30-year yield at ~2.095% is above auction stops since June and ~20bp cheaper than last month’s, which tailed the WI by 3.2bp. In FX, the pound advanced to its highest level since Oct. 29 amid calls for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign over a “bring your own bottle” party at the height of a lockdown meant to stem the first wave of coronavirus infections in 2020. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index held a two-month low as the greenback weakened against all of its Group-of-10 peers, and the euro rallied a third day as it approached the $1.15 handle. Implied volatility in the major currencies over the two- week tenor, that now captures the next Fed meeting, comes in line with the roll yet investors are choosing sides. The Australian dollar extended its overnight gain as the greenback declined following as-expected U.S. inflation. Iron ore supply concern also supported the currency. The yen hovered near a two-week high as long dollar positions were unwound. Japanese government bonds traded in narrow ranges. In commodities, cude futures maintain a relatively narrow range. WTI is flat near $82.70, Brent stalls near $84.50. Spot gold dips before finding support near $1,820/oz. Most base metals are in the red with LME zinc lagging peers. Bitcoin traded around $44,000 as the inflation numbers rekindled the debate about whether the cryptocurrency is a hedge against rising consumer prices. Expected data on Thursday include producer prices, an early indicator of inflationary trends, and unemployment claims. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 4,715.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.1% to 485.67 MXAP little changed at 196.79 MXAPJ up 0.1% to 643.93 Nikkei down 1.0% to 28,489.13 Topix down 0.7% to 2,005.58 Hang Seng Index up 0.1% to 24,429.77 Shanghai Composite down 1.2% to 3,555.26 Sensex up 0.1% to 61,220.38 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.5% to 7,474.36 Kospi down 0.3% to 2,962.09 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.04% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1465 Brent Futures down 0.1% to $84.58/bbl Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,820.68 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 94.83 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly and her Philadelphia Fed peer Patrick Harker joined the ranks of officials publicly discussing an interest-rate increase as early as March as the central bank seeks to combat the hottest inflation in a generation Global central banks will diverge on the way they respond to inflation this year, creating risks to economies everywhere, Bank of England policy maker Catherine Mann said Norway’s race to appoint a new central bank governor is reaching a finale mired in controversy at the prospect of a political ally and friend of Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store getting the job Italy’s government is working on a spending package that won’t require revising its budget to expand the deficit, people familiar with the matter said Several of China’s largest banks have become more selective about funding real estate projects by local government financing vehicles, concerned that some are taking on too much risk after they replaced private developers as key buyers of land, people familiar with the matter said A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mixed following the choppy session in the US where major indices eked mild gains as markets digested CPI data in which headline annual inflation printed at 7.0%. ASX 200 (+0.5%) was underpinned as the energy and mining related sectors continued to benefit from the recent upside in underlying commodity prices, while Crown Resorts shares outperformed after Blackstone raised its cash proposal for Crown Resorts following due diligence inquiries. Nikkei 225 (-1.0%) declined with the index hampered by unfavourable currency flows and with Tokyo raising its COVID-19 alert to the second-highest level. Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (-1.1%) were initially subdued, but did diverge later, after the slight miss on loans and aggregate financing data, while there is a slew of upcoming key releases from China in the days ahead including trade figures tomorrow, as well as GDP and activity data on Monday. In addition, the biggest movers were headline driven including developer Sunac China which dropped by a double-digit percentage after it priced a 452mln-share sale at a 15% discount to repay loans and cruise operator Genting Hong Kong wiped out around half its value on resumption of trade after it warned of defaults due to insolvency of its German shipbuilding business. Finally, 10yr JGBs traded rangebound and were stuck near the 151.00 level following the indecisive mood in T-notes which was not helped by an uninspiring 10yr auction stateside, while the lack of BoJ purchases in the market also added to the humdrum tone. Top Asian News Asia Stocks Steady After Best Rally in a Year; Financials Gain Country Garden Selloff Shows Chinese Developer Worries Spreading China Banks Curb Property Loans to Local Government Firms China’s True Unemployment Pain Masked by Official Data Bourses in Europe now see a mixed picture with the breadth of the price action also narrow (Euro Stoxx 50 Unch; Stoxx 600 -0.10%). The region initially opened with a modest downside bias following on from a mostly negative APAC handover after Wall Street eked mild gains. US equity futures have since been choppy within a tight range and exhibit a relatively broad-based performance with no real standout performers. Back in Europe, sectors are mixed and lack an overarching theme. Tech remains the outperformer since the morning with some follow-through seen from contract-chip manufacturer TSMC (ADR +4.3% pre-market), who beat on net and revenue whilst upping its 2022 Capex to USD 40bln-44bln from around USD 30bln the prior year, whilst the CEO expects capacity to remain tight throughout 2022. Tech is closely followed by Autos and Parts and Travel & Leisure, whilst the other end of the spectrum sees Healthcare, Oil & Gas, Retail and Personal & Household goods among the straddlers – with Tesco (-1.5%) and Marks & Spencer (-5.3%) weighing on the latter two following trading updates. In terms of other individual movers, BT (+0.5%) trades in the green amid reports DAZN is nearing a deal to buy BT Sport for around USD 800mln, a could be reached as soon as this month but has not been finalized. Turning to analyst commentary: Morgan Stanley’s clients have aligned themselves to the view that European equities will likely perform better than US counterparts. 45% of respondents see Financials as the top-performing sector this year, 14% preferred Tech which would be the lowest score in over six years. Top European News Johnson Buys Time With Apology But U.K. Tory Rage Simmers U.K. Retailers Slide as Updates Show Lingering Impact of Virus Wood Group Plans Sale of Built Environment Unit Next Quarter Just Eat Advisers Pitching Grubhub Sale or Take-Private: Sources In FX, the Dollar has weakened further in wake of Wednesday’s US inflation data as ‘buy rumour sell fact’ dynamics are compounded by more position paring and increasingly bearish technical impulses to outweigh fundamental factors that seem supportive, on paper or in theory. Indeed, the index only mustered enough recovery momentum to reach 95.022 on the back of hawkish Fed commentary and some short covering before retreating through the psychological level, then yesterday’s 94.903 low and another trough from late 2021 at 94.824 (November 11 base) to 94.710, thus far and leaving little bar the 100 DMA, at 94.675 today, in terms of support ahead of 94.500. However, the flagging Greenback could get a fillip via PPI and/or IJC, if not the next round of Fed speakers and final leg of this week’s auction remit in the form of Usd 22 bn long bonds. NZD/AUD - A change in the running order down under where the Kiwi has overtaken the Aussie irrespective of bullish calls on the Aud/Nzd cross from MS, with Nzd/Usd breaching the 50 DMA around 0.6860 on the way to 0.6884 and Aud/Usd scaling the 100 DMA at 0.7288 then 0.7300 before fading at 0.7314. GBP/EUR/CHF/CAD/JPY - Also extracting more impetus at the expense of the Buck, but to varying degrees as Sterling continues to shrug aside ongoing Tory party turmoil to attain 1.3700+ status and surpass the 200 DMA that stands at 1.3737, while the Euro has overcome Fib resistance around 1.1440, plus any semi-psychological reticence at 1.1450 to reach 1.1478 and the Franc is now closer to 0.9100 than 0.9150. Elsewhere, crude is still providing the Loonie with an incentive to climb and Usd/Cad has recoiled even further from early 2022 peaks beneath 1.2500 as a result, and the Yen is around 114.50 with scope for a stronger retracement to test the 55 DMA, at 114.22. SCANDI/EM - Some signs of fatigue as the Nok stalls on the edge of 9.9000 against the Eur in tandem with Brent just a few cents over Usd 85/brl, but the Czk has recorded fresh decade-plus highs vs the single currency following remarks from CNB chief Rusnok on the need to keep tightening and acknowledging that this may culminate in Koruna appreciation. The Cnh and Cny are firmer vs the Usd pre-Chinese trade and GDP data either side of the weekend, but the Rub is lagging again as the Kremlin concludes that there was no progress in talks between Russia and the West, but the Try is underperforming again with headwinds from elevated oil prices and regardless of a marked pick up in Turkish ip. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month contracts have conformed to the indecisive mood across the markets, although the benchmarks received a mild uplift as the Dollar receded in early European hours. As it stands, the WTI Feb and Brent Mar contract both reside within USD 0.80/bbl ranges near USD 82.50/bbl and USD 84.50/bbl respectively. News flow for the complex has been quiet and participants are on the lookout for the next catalyst, potentially in the form of US jobless claims/PPI amid multiple speakers, although the rise in APAC COVID cases remains a continuous headwind on demand for now – particularly in China. On the geopolitical front, Russian-backed troops have reportedly begun pulling out of the 1.6mln BPD Kazakh territory, but Moscow’s tensions with the West do not seem to abate. Russia's Kremlin suggested talks with the West were "unsuccessful" – which comes after NATO’s Secretary-General yesterday suggested there is a real risk of a new armed conflict in Europe. Elsewhere, spot gold has drifted off best levels as the DXY found a floor, for now – with the closest support yesterday’s USD 1,813/oz low ahead of the 50 and 21 DMAs at USD 1,807/oz and USD 1,806.50/oz respectively. LME copper has also pulled back from yesterday’s best levels to levels under USD 10,000/t as the mood remains cautious, although, copper prices in Shanghai rose to over a two-month high as it played catch-up to LME yesterday. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Dec. PPI Final Demand YoY, est. 9.8%, prior 9.6%; MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 0.8% 8:30am: Dec. PPI Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 8.0%, prior 7.7%; MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.7% 8:30am: Jan. Continuing Claims, est. 1.73m, prior 1.75m 8:30am: Jan. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 200,000, prior 207,000 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Today I have a first. I have two MRI scans. A fresh one on my back and one on my right knee which gave way as I was rehabbing (squats and lunges) the left knee after recent surgery. In my fifth decade of playing sport averagely, but vigorously, it’s all catching up with me very quickly. I’ve exhausted all strengthening exercise routines and injections on my back and the pain gets worse. My surgeon does not want to operate but we will see if he changes his mind after today. If he says play less golf I will walk out mid-meeting even if he may be medically correct. In contrast my knee surgeon is an avid skier and he keeps on doing things to prolong my skiing career even though I’ve said to him that I just really care about golf. So I’ll soon be looking for an avid golfer who just happens to be a back surgeon. Talking of confirmation bias, if you did an MRI scan of US inflation yesterday you’d find things to support both sides of the debate which is surprising when it hit 7% YoY and the highest since 1982 when Fed Funds were more than 13% rather than close to zero as they are today. So a slightly different real rate to back then. In fact the real rate is through any level seen in the 1970s and is only comparable to WWII levels. Back to CPI and the YoY number was in line with expectations, but core and MoM figures were all a bit firmer than expected. However, the beats were small enough that the data didn’t significantly change the outlook for monetary policy, with Fed funds futures still pricing in an 89% chance of a March hike, which is roughly around where it’d been over the preceding days. Looking at the details of the release, (our US econ team’s full wrap here) headline month-on-month number came in at +0.5% in December (vs. +0.4% expected), which is the 8thtime in the last 10 months that the print has come in above the consensus expectations on Bloomberg. However, that does still mark a deceleration from the +0.9% and +0.8% monthly growth in October and November respectively. The core CPI reading was also a touch stronger than anticipated, with the monthly print at +0.6% (vs. +0.5% expected), thus sending the annual core CPI measure up to +5.5% (vs. +5.4% expected) and its highest since 1991. Diving into some of the key sub-components, Covid-era favorite used cars and trucks grew +3.5% MoM. More concerning for policymakers, is the continued growth in persistent measures such as shelter, with primary and owners’ equivalent rent both increasing +0.4% MoM. If you were expecting Omicron to slow down American holiday travel, think again, lodging away from home and airfares both posted large increases, +1.2% and +2.7%, respectively. Most forecasters think the peak for inflation is sometime soon, but the pace of the glide path is open to debate. This is a topic we covered in yesterday’s CoTD, found here. Even though Treasuries had rallied strongly in the immediate aftermath of the report, with the 10yr yield falling back to 1.709% at the intraday low, yields pared back those losses to end the session basically unchanged at 1.74% (+0.7bps). CPI was expected to be bad and therefore the ability to shock was relatively low. However this tame overall move masked a divergence between a sharp bounceback in the 10yr real yield (+7.5bps) and a decline in inflation breakevens (-7.5bps) as the worst fears from the report weren’t realised. Over in Europe however, there was a more sustained rally, with yields on 10yr bunds down -3.2bps to -0.06%, having come very close in recent days to moving back into positive territory for the first time since May 2019. Furthermore, there was a continued divergence between the two regions at the front end of the curve, with the gap between 2yr yields on Treasuries and bunds widening to 153bps yesterday, which is the biggest since the pandemic began. Staying with bonds, our US econ and Rates strategy team published a joint piece last night outlining their early expectations for QT, here. For equities, the lack of an inflation surprise meant that they got a continued reprieve following last week’s selloff, with the S&P 500 (+0.28%) advancing for a 2nd day running for the first time this year, whilst in Europe the STOXX 600 (+0.65%) posted an even stronger advance. Megacap tech stocks were a noticeable outperformer, with the FANG+ index gaining +1.25%, whilst in Europe the STOXX Banks index (+1.22%) hit a fresh 3-year high. On the topic of inflationary pressures, one asset that continued its upward march was oil yesterday, with Brent Crude (+1.13%), just missing its first close above $85/bbl since October yesterday. Bear in mind it was only 6 weeks earlier that Brent hit its post-Omicron closing low, just beneath $69/bbl, so it’s now up by more than $16/bbl over that period. WTI (+1.75%) saw a similar increase yesterday, which won’t be welcome news to those who’d hoped the recent decline in energy prices late last year would offer some relief on the inflation front. That said, WTI oil is making a great case to be the top-performing major asset for a second year running at the minute, having advanced by over +10% since the start of the year.. This morning, Asian markets are mostly trading lower. The Nikkei (-0.91%) is leading losses in the region, followed by the CSI (-0.55%), Shanghai Composite (-0.31% ) and Kospi (-0.19%). Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index (+0.07%) is swinging between gains and losses. In stock news, Cruise operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd nosedived by a record 56%, after it resumed trading today following last week's suspension as the company indicated the possibility of default. Looking forward, US equity futures are indicating a weak start with the S&P 500 (-0.15%), Nasdaq (-0.26%) and Dow Jones (-0.11%) contracts trading in the red. On the Covid front, there was further good news from the UK as the latest wave showed further signs of ebbing. For the UK as a whole, the total number of reported cases over the last 7 days is now down -19% compared with the previous 7 day period, whilst in England the number of Covid patients in a mechanical ventilation bed has dropped to its lowest in almost 3 months, before we’d even heard of the Omicron variant. For those following credit, our colleagues in the European Leveraged Finance Research team have just published their quarterly top trade ideas. You can find the report here. Looking at yesterday’s other data, Euro Area industrial production grew by +2.3% in November (vs. +0.3% expected), although the October reading was revised down to show a -1.3% contraction. To the day ahead now, and one of the highlights will be Fed Governor Brainard’s nomination hearing at the Senate Banking committee to become Fed Vice Chair. Other central bank speakers include the Fed’s Barkin and Evans, ECB Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Elderson, along with the BoE’s Mann. Separately, data releases from the US include December’s PPI and the weekly initial jobless claims, whilst there’s also Italy’s industrial production for November. Tyler Durden Thu, 01/13/2022 - 08:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 13th, 2022

A stand-up comedian who spent 6 days in COVID-19 quarantine on a cruise ship has spoken of the "panic and anxiety" she felt in her windowless cabin

Writing in the LA Times, Jen Murphy said meals were left outside her cabin on a tray covered in a red plastic bag marked "Hazardous Waste Material." Cruise comedian Jen Murphy recounted her experience of COVID-19 quarantine to the LA Times.Getty Images A comedian who tested positive for COVID-19 aboard a cruise ship recounted her experience of quarantine to the LA Times. Jen Murphy said she isolated for six days in a windowless cabin below deck, experiencing "panic and anxiety." She said meals were left outside her cabin in a red plastic bag marked "Hazardous Waste Material." A comedian who quarantined aboard a cruise ship after testing postive for COVID-19 has recounted her isolating experience in a small, windowless cabin below deck.In an essay published in the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, Jen Murphy, a 47-year-old Los Angeles-based stand-up comedian who was due to perform on the ship, wrote about the "panic and anxiety" that set in during her six days of isolation.Murphy said breakfast, lunch, and dinner were left outside her cabin on a tray covered in a red plastic bag marked "Hazardous Waste Material." She said she was stuck with a TV that had only five channels.She said she woke up the first couple mornings "drenched in my own sweat" so she covered her sheets with a towel because there was no maid service for patients. By the fourth day, her legs began to cramp from "too much time spent vertically," she said.Murphy wrote in the LA Times: "By the third night my panic and anxiety at having no fresh air had now converted into more of a personal fear of being a woman alone in a secluded room."She said she felt a "sense of shame and disappointment" every time the nightly comedy show was announced over the ship's public address system.Murphy said she woke up with a pounding headache and dry throat the first night after boarding the ship in Miami. Upon visiting the ship's doctor, she recounted how he "did not seem happy that I'd be joining the dozens of other sick crew members, a number that was multiplying by the day."She said she was soon escorted below deck by a woman dressed in full medical scrubs and a face shield. "That was the last interaction I would have with a human being for the rest of the cruise," she wrote.Murphy said: "It felt like I was going to jail for a crime I didn't commit."Other cruise passengers and crew have described their experiences of COVID-19 isolation aboard cruise ships. They told The Washington Post they endured rotten food, hours without water, and loneliness. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 13th, 2022

January 6: A Legacy Of Troubling Questions

January 6: A Legacy Of Troubling Questions Authored by Joseph Hannemann via The Epoch Times, The hardened-steel baton made the most disturbing sound as it bounced off Victoria White’s skull. It varied between a hollow click and a deeper snap, depending on where on her head the metal weapon made contact. “Please don’t beat her!” a man in the crowd yelled. It was chaos in the West Terrace tunnel entrance of the U.S. Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021. Outside, thousands who had attended President Donald Trump’s “Save America” rally milled about the terrace, while groups of rioters battled police near the tunnel. An almost demonic cacophony emanated from under the tunnel arch. “I didn’t even touch you,” a woman cried. “I need help! I need help,” a man shouted. “Stand up, dammit!” intoned a police officer in riot gear. “Get out!” boomed another. Then a blood-curdling scream, followed by the ear-splitting sound of an emergency siren. Victoria White appears prone or near-collapse in several parts of a five-minute video. (Screen Captures/Joseph McBride) After repeatedly striking White in the head, the officer in white holstered his baton. Then he made a fist with his bare left hand and punched White in the face. “Oh, no-no-no! Please! Please don’t beat her!” someone shouted, to no effect. After three full-force knuckle shots to White’s head, the officer in white paused. Then he went in for two more blows. He grabbed the hair at the back of her head and pulled it hard. White looked dazed and confused. She wore a blank stare. Another officer reached in with his baton in an apparent attempt to prevent more blows. The officer in white grabbed his colleague’s arm and shoved it back at him. The almost unbelievable violence meted out on the unarmed, 5-foot-4-inch White provides a stark contrast to the often-preached narrative that Jan. 6 was strictly an insurrection carried out by mobs of Trump supporters wanting to overthrow the government. White was a victim of brutality. Her lawyer is preparing a civil suit. Hers is one of the hidden stories of Jan. 6, exposed only after a federal judge ordered that three hours of surveillance video held by the U.S. Department of Justice be released to White’s attorney. Political Divide Widens The voluminous media coverage in the weeks leading up to the one-year anniversary of Jan. 6 demonstrates the substantial and growing divide between Americans of differing political stripes. The prevailing narrative is that supporters of Trump, whipped into a frenzy by his Jan. 6 speech at the Ellipse, descended on the U.S. Capitol in a violent attempt to upend democracy. A large crowd of Trump supporters—estimates ranged from 30,000 on the low end to 2 million on the high end—crowded the Ellipse to hear the president rail against the 2020 presidential election. Trump contended, along with millions of supporters, that widespread election fraud in key states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin had robbed him of a second term and placed Democrat Joe Biden in an illegitimate presidency. The speech started approximately an hour later than scheduled. Well before Trump concluded his remarks, a group of protesters breached a lightly guarded barrier on the Capitol’s pedestrian walkway. They quickly headed for the Capitol building. By the time the throngs of rally-goers made the long walk to the Capitol grounds, the perimeter fencing and security signs indicating the site was restricted had been methodically removed. As tens of thousands of protesters surrounded the Capitol, pockets of violence broke out. Windows were broken, and protesters climbed inside, just after 2 p.m. At other entrances, protesters found doors propped open and proceeded inside like tourists. The circumstances of the worst violence are hotly contested, but the results were real. Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, 35, was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to enter the Speaker’s Lobby. White and others were beaten by police in or near the West Terrace tunnel, attorneys say. Aaron Babbitt with his wife, Ashli, who was killed at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “She loved life,” he said. (Courtesy of Aaron Babbitt) Some 140 police were injured during battles with rioters. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died on Jan. 7, 2021, although his death was eventually determined to be from natural causes. Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood and Washington Metropolitan Police Officer Jeffrey Smith—both of whom were on duty at the Capitol—took their own lives in the weeks after Jan. 6. President Joe Biden described Jan. 6 as the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.” The Associated Press asserted it was “the most sustained attack on the seat of American democracy since the War of 1812.” Steven Sund, former U.S. Capitol Police chief, called it “a coordinated violent attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurrectionists.” Many Americans don’t see those words as hyperbole, insisting Trump-fueled mobs fully intended to disrupt the U.S. Congress and overthrow the federal government. Across the political chasm are those who reject that dominant narrative, and assert that while Jan. 6 was many things, it was no insurrection. They view that characterization as a convenient way to suppress the truth. The real Jan. 6 story, they believe, remains hidden on some 14,000 hours of surveillance video from around the Capitol grounds. Portions of that video will undoubtedly be unsealed as some of the more than 725 people arrested for alleged Jan. 6-related crimes go on trial. Whatever the chaos of that infamous day is called, one thing seems clear. The full Jan. 6 story hasn’t been told. One year later, the legacy of Jan. 6 is a trail of troubling questions—the answers to which could rock American politics and deepen the divide between its citizens. Is There Evidence of Treason or Sedition? In response to the violence at the Capitol, the FBI launched one of the most sweeping investigations in its history. Agents pored over cell phone video, social media postings, surveillance video, and police bodycam footage to identify those who were at the Capitol that day. The FBI opened a national tip line and posted videos and photographs of protesters. Tips came from many sources, including neighbors and family members who turned in their relatives. Of the more than 725 people arrested over the past year, no one was charged with treason or sedition. At least 225 defendants were charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding police, including 75 who allegedly used a deadly or dangerous weapon, or caused serious bodily injury to an officer. Two men climb over other protesters and lunge at police officers guarding the entrance to the West Terrace tunnel at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Screen Capture via The Epoch Times) The most common charge issued by federal prosecutors—involving 640 individuals—was for entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds. About 40 percent of all those arrested were charged with impeding or attempting to impede an official proceeding—the certification of the Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election. Of the 165 people who have pleaded guilty to date, nearly 90 percent of the cases involved misdemeanors. The rest were felonies. Are There Any Investigative Conclusions? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appointed a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 breach and subsequent violence. That group’s work is ongoing. Preliminary findings could be made public by summer. Republican House members are conducting their own probe, but complain that Democrats refuse to cooperate or share records with their GOP colleagues. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the Committee on Rules and Administration, issued a report on the Capitol breach that cited a range of intelligence and law enforcement failures that enabled the violence. Among the findings in the Senate report was that neither the FBI nor the Department of Homeland Security issued formal intelligence bulletins about the potential for violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The FBI’s Norfolk field office sent out a situational information report late on Jan. 5, warning of individuals traveling to Washington for “war” at the Capitol, but the agency overall didn’t view as credible online posts calling for violence. Capitol Police didn’t have a department-wide operational plan or staffing plan for the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress, the report said. It faulted a lack of training in civil disturbances and a failure to provide basic protective equipment to rank-and-file officers. Who Incited the Capitol Breach and Violence? Independent media and online sleuths sounded alarms about the presence of unindicted individuals among those who first breached the Capitol at about 12:50 p.m. These men played a central role in the breach, encouraged protesters to go to the Capitol, and directed people into the building. Yet they haven’t been arrested, indicted, or identified by the FBI as among the wanted. Who were they? A man—now known to be Ray Epps of Queen Creek, Arizona—was captured on video on Jan. 5, 2021, attempting to recruit Trump supporters to assault the Capitol the next day. “Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol,” Epps says, as seen in a video clip. “Into the Capitol!” A man near him says, “What?” and others are heard shouting, “No!” Then the crowd breaks into a chant: “Fed! Fed! Fed! Fed!”—accusing Epps of being a federal agent. Ray Epps seen on Jan. 5, 2021, trying to recruit men to attack the Capitol. They accuse him of being a federal agent. (CapitolPunishmentTheMovie.com/Bark at the Hole Productions) Epps gets into verbal sparring with some of the Trump supporters. “You’re counterproductive to our cause,” one young man shouts. Epps shouts back, staying on message: “It doesn’t matter. … That’s not what we’re here for. … You’re getting off the subject. … We’re here for another reason.” Another video shows Epps saying, “Tomorrow—I don’t even like to say it because I’ll be arrested,” prompting a man nearby to reply, “Then let’s not say it.” Epps responds: “I’ll say it. We need to go into the Capitol!” A young man in the crowd, wearing an American flag neck gaiter, replies, “I didn’t see that coming!” On Jan. 6, as crowds milled about the Washington Monument in long lines to get in to watch Trump’s speech, Epps could be heard shouting through a megaphone: “As soon as our president is done speaking, we are going to the Capitol, where our problems are. It’s that direction. Please spread the word!” Epps is seen again in video footage taken at the metal barricades outside the Capitol at 12:50 p.m., as a small crowd chants, “USA! USA!” He whispers something in the ear of a man wearing a backward Make America Great Again cap. A few seconds later, the young man helps push over the barricade as Epps steps back to watch. This first breach of the security perimeter was 20 minutes before Trump finished his speech. Epps is then seen sprinting with the crowd up the steps toward the Capitol. A few days after the Jan. 6 violence, the FBI placed a photo of Epps on a “Seeking Information” poster, asking for the public’s help in identifying those who breached the Capitol. He could be seen in Photograph No. 16. That photo has since been scrubbed from the FBI website. Ray Epps is shown at lower left on an early FBI wanted poster, but his photo has since been scrubbed from the FBI website. (FBI.gov/Wayback Machine) On the current list of 1,559 photographs of people the FBI wants to identify, there is no longer a No. 16. The list skips from Photograph No. 15 to Photograph No. 17. Epps hasn’t been arrested or charged. John Guandolo, a former FBI agent and counter-terrorism expert who was on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, said he saw FBI agents dressed as protesters. “For a good portion of the day, I was with law enforcement, FBI, etcetera,” Guandolo said in an interview for the documentary “Capitol Punishment.” “Guys would walk by, and we’d look at each other and be like, ‘Two more right there. Here comes another. There’s another one.’ They were everywhere.” Revolver, an alternative news outlet, identified others around the Capitol grounds who were active participants in the breach but whose photos weren’t included on the FBI’s wanted list. One man, wearing a grey Bulwark jacket, knit cap, and sunglasses, is seen on video rolling up the green plastic fencing around the security perimeter. He pulls up the stakes and removes the “Area Closed” signs. A man in a blue cap with a blue bullhorn is seen in multiple videos atop the media tower erected for the inauguration. Dubbed “Scaffold Commander” by online researchers, he barks out directives and encouragement for 90 minutes. “Don’t just stand there! Keep moving!” “Move forward! Help somebody over the wall!” Once the crowd filled in around the Capitol, Scaffold Commander switched gears. “We’re in! Come on! We gotta fill up the Capitol! Come now, we need help!” Revolver’s video investigation said that whether or not Epps and Scaffold Commander knew each other, their words and actions worked well together. “So we have Scaffold Commander directing the body of the crowd from the tower above, and Ray Epps directing the vanguard front-liners at the police line below,” the Dec. 18 story read. “Yet neither one of them has been prosecuted, nor is either presently ‘wanted’ by the FBI.” Revolver founder Darren Beattie took to Twitter to ask Epps to expose who his handlers were. “But now, it is time to think for yourself, Ray. Forget about your boat and your ranch and your grill. If you make the right move and tell the truth, you change everything,” Beattie wrote on Dec. 29. Neither Epps, the FBI, nor federal prosecutors have commented on Epps’s actions that day, on whether he worked for the FBI, or on why he hasn’t been indicted. Epps told an Arizona Republic reporter on Jan. 12, 2021, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) asked Attorney General Merrick Garland on Oct. 21 to dispel concerns about the Epps videos, but Garland wouldn’t comment. I just played this video for AG Merrick Garland. He refused to comment on how many agents or assets of the federal government were present in the crowd on Jan 5th and 6th and how many entered the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/lvd9n4mMHK — Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) October 21, 2021 “You’ve said this was one of the most sweeping investigations in history,” Massie said during a public hearing. “Have you seen that video, those frames from that video?” Garland began talking about a standing practice of not commenting on investigative specifics, before Massie interrupted him: “How many agents or assets of the federal government were present on January 6th, whether they agitated to go into the Capitol, and if any of them did?” Garland’s reply: “I’m not going to comment on an investigation that’s ongoing.” What Is the Significance of Unindicted Actors? Attorneys who represent Jan. 6 defendants say if Epps or other participants were FBI informants or agents, then it blows a hole in the idea that Trump supporters were solely responsible for violence at the Capitol. Participation by government actors could legally invalidate conspiracy charges, they say. Attorney Jonathon Moseley, who represents Jan. 6 defendant Kelly Meggs of Dunnellon, Florida, a member of the Oath Keepers, issued subpoenas to Epps, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, and other men who played visible roles on Jan. 6. As Meggs’s April trial on conspiracy charges approaches, Moseley wants to know why Epps was at the Trump rally and Capitol, and whether he was working for the government. Moseley said Epps was seen at the first breach of a police line at the pedestrian walkway, about 200 yards from the Capitol building. Video shows Epps as he appears to rush the makeshift barricade erected by police, “then stops short,” Moseley said. Ray Epps at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, shortly before pepper gas is shot into the crowd. “Been a long time,” he says after coughing. “Aah, I love it!” (Screen Capture/Rumble) “It’s like he’s head-faking people to rush with him, but then he never touches it,” he said. “A police officer falls—I think it may be a woman—and his immediate instinct is to go help her, and he thinks better of it and steps back. It really looks like he’s undercover.” Moseley said the involvement of government-paid actors in facilitating or inciting the breach of the Capitol complex would create reasonable doubt in just about any of the Jan. 6 cases. “There are legal consultants who keep emphasizing that, legally, you can’t conspire with the government. So if he’s working directly or indirectly for the government, then people are innocent of the conspiracy,” Moseley said. “It’s a legal rule. If there are 10 people conspiring and one of them is with the government, not only could it be entrapment, but it also may invalidate a conspiracy.” That type of legal issue has been raised in a Michigan case in which a group of men stand accused in federal court of a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat. Defense attorneys recently filed a motion to dismiss the case, contending that government agents and informants concocted the kidnapping plan and pushed to convince the defendants to participate. Are Jan. 6 Detainees Political Prisoners? Third-world banana republics are notorious for terrible prison conditions and brutal treatment of the accused and convicted alike. Some lawyers, family members, and defendants believe the District of Columbia operates a jail that would be at home in any of those countries. The jail is sometimes called “DC-GITMO,” after the U.S.-run terrorist detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The poor accommodations at the D.C. jail have long been the subject of discussion in the nation’s capital. The Washington Post said conditions there were “deplorable,” an ironic descriptor, considering who the jail’s primary occupants are these days. The issue got national attention in 2021 because of repeated allegations of brutal, abusive treatment of men accused of Jan. 6 crimes. A 28-page report issued in late 2021 by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said treatment of Jan. 6 detainees was “inhumane.” (Document Cover/Marjorie Taylor Greene) “American citizens are being tortured right now within five miles of the White House,” said Joseph McBride, a New York attorney who represents a half-dozen Jan. 6 defendants. “America does not punish its citizens pre-trial,” McBride wrote on Twitter. “Authoritarian regimes do.” McBride said his clients have suffered treatment that should never happen in America, all because they supported Trump by being at the U.S. Capitol on that fateful day. During incarceration, they’ve suffered—among other things—severe beatings by guards; the denial of medical attention, including medications for chemotherapy; and refusal of food, McBride said. Christopher Quaglin, charged with assaulting police officers during the riot, suffers from celiac disease, but the jail feeds him only food with gluten, McBride said. He has been refused medical treatment. “Yes, we are extremely concerned that he will die,” McBride wrote on Twitter on Dec. 27. Ted Hull, the superintendent of Northern Neck Regional Jail, where Quaglin is housed, said McBride’s assertions are wrong. Christopher Quaglin with his wife, Moria, who fears her husband could die without medical attention in federal custody. (Courtesy Quaglin Family) “Regardless of Mr. McBride’s fictitious assertions,” Hull told The Epoch Times, “inmate Quaglin is and has been receiving the appropriate dietitian-designed diet consistent with his specific dietary requirements and the appropriate level of medical services consistent with his diagnosis.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) toured the D.C. jail with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) in November, then issued a 28-page report titled “Unusually Cruel.” The report said the conditions for the Jan. 6 detainees were “inhumane.” Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump who attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally and was on the Capitol grounds, never went inside the Capitol building. He was charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building, and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building. He was arrested and jailed, but eventually released while awaiting trial. “I spent the next nine days in that cell in total solitary confinement. No shower, no phone, no attorney,” Griffin said in the film “Capitol Punishment.” The guards, he said, often chanted “F Trump! F Trump!” and called him an “[expletive] white cracker.” He complained about his treatment to the deputy warden, who he said told him, “The only job these guards have is to keep your chest moving up and down.” Richard Barnett of Gravette, Arkansas, faced seven charges for his alleged actions on Jan. 6, including sitting in the office chair of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, captured in a now-iconic news photograph. One day during his four-month detention, Barnett experienced tightness in his chest and arm pain. He called for help, but the guard who responded only mocked and laughed at him. Barnett then called out to a female staff member, who said she would get help. “Richard [lay] there for a significant period of time—certainly enough for him to die,” read McBride’s report on jail conditions, which he sent to Amnesty International. After being given a medical checkup and returned to his cell, Barnett fell asleep. A guard began pounding on the glass door to his cell, jolting him awake so quickly he stood up and then fainted, hitting his head on the sink. Now bleeding from a head wound, Barnett screamed for an hour before help came, the report said. One day, Barnett’s cell door opened, and some nine officers entered, cuffing his wrists and shackling his legs. Guards violently shook him back and forth, lifted him off his feet by the shackles, and slammed him headfirst into the concrete floor, according to McBride’s report, a copy of which was also sent to the American Civil Liberties Union. The U.S. Marshals Service conducted a surprise inspection of the D.C. jail facilities in October and interviewed 300 detainees. Conditions at the jail “do not meet the minimum standards of confinement,” the Marshals report said. As a result, the Marshals Service removed all of its detainees and transferred them to facilities in the federal Bureau of Prisons. This didn’t include the Jan. 6 detainees. Emery Nelson, spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons, said the agency doesn’t comment on “anecdotal allegations” or provide information about individual inmates. “The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is committed to accommodating the needs of federal offenders and ensuring the safety and security of all inmates in our population, our staff, and the public,” Nelson said. “The BOP takes seriously our duty to protect the individuals entrusted in our care.” Who Died at the Capitol on Jan. 6? One person was killed at the hands of U.S. Capitol Police, and police action might have contributed to the death of two others, but the four other deaths related to Jan. 6 were either from natural causes or suicides. Ashli Babbitt was shot in the left shoulder and killed as she crawled through a broken window at the entry to the Speaker’s Lobby. Ashli’s husband, Aaron Babbitt, said a careful examination of video footage from the hallway indicates Ashli was upset with rioters who smashed glass in the double doors. He thinks she panicked and sought escape through the window, only to be shot by Lt. Michael Byrd as a result. She was unarmed and presented no threat to anyone, Aaron Babbitt said. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd aims his Glock 22 at the window where Ashli Babbitt was about to appear. (CapitolPunishmentTheMovie/Bark at the Hole Productions) Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Georgia, died in or near the West Terrace tunnel at the Capitol. McBride says surveillance video shows Boyland was beaten by a police officer as she lay on the ground. The D.C. medical examiner ruled the death accidental: intoxication from a prescription medication. Kevin Greeson, 51, of Georgia, died on the Capitol grounds of a heart attack brought on by cardiovascular disease, the medical examiner ruled. Benjamin Phillips, 50, of Pennsylvania, died of atherosclerosis, heart disease characterized by fatty plaques that build up in the arteries, the medical examiner ruled. Of the three police officers who died in the weeks following Jan. 6, Sicknick died from natural causes, and Liebengood and Smith died from suicide. Did Democrats Weaponize Jan. 6? Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), ranking member of the Committee on House Administration, accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democrats of “weaponizing events of January 6th against their political adversaries.” Davis sent a letter to Pelosi on Jan. 3, 2022, complaining that House Democrats repeatedly obstructed attempts by Republican lawmakers to investigate security vulnerabilities at the U.S. Capitol before and during Jan. 6 violence. The obstruction came through denial of House records and ignoring repeated requests for documents, Davis wrote. “Unfortunately, over the past twelve months, House Democrats have been more interested in exploiting the events of January 6th for political purposes than in conducting basic oversight of the security vulnerabilities exposed that day,” Davis wrote. Specifically, lawmakers want to know about a request that former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said he made to then-House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving prior to Jan. 6 for “the assistance of the National Guard,” Davis wrote. Sund reported that Irving was “concerned about the ‘optics’ of a National Guard presence at the Capitol.” During violence on Jan. 6, when Sund asked about getting authorization for the National Guard, Irving responded that he “needed to run it up the chain of command,” the letter said. Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testifies at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Rules and Administration committees joint hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 23, 2021. (Erin Scott/Pool/AFP via Getty Images) In February 2021 testimony before the U.S. Senate, Irving denied Sund’s claims. Republican lawmakers then requested access to Irving’s communications to substantiate that denial. Davis said he wrote to House General Counsel Douglas Letter to request those records, but Letter never replied. “Both the Sergeant at Arms and the chief administration officer failed to produce any documents to Republicans pursuant to our requests,” Davis wrote, “suggesting that these House officers may be providing documents only to Democrats on a partisan basis.” Davis said Republicans want to know why Sund’s Jan. 4, 2021, request for National Guard support on Jan. 6 was denied, and whether Pelosi or her staff ordered the refusal. They also want to know what conversations occurred during Capitol violence on Jan. 6, when Sund again asked for National Guard help. Finally, they want to know why the select committee on Jan. 6, appointed by Pelosi, won’t examine the speaker’s role “in ensuring the proper House security preparations,” the letter said. When asked whether the speaker had responded to Davis, Henry Connelly, Pelosi’s communications director, referred The Epoch Times to a statement issued by House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). “The Ranking Member’s letter is pure revisionist fiction. The Chief Administrative Officer and House Sergeant at Arms have already notified Ranking Member Davis they are complying with preservation requests and will fully cooperate with various law enforcement investigations and bonafide congressional inquiries,” Lofgren said in the statement. From the inception of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Republican leadership discounted its work because Pelosi rejected two of the five Republicans chosen by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for the probe. McCarthy then withdrew his picks. Pelosi appointed Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) to serve on the nine-member panel. The select committee could issue at least an interim report by mid-2022 and a final report in the fall, committee sources told several media outlets. Committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in December that there was no set schedule for public hearings to release the group’s findings. The Epoch Times asked the Department of Justice for comment on the presence of federal agents on Jan. 6, but didn’t receive a reply by press time. The Epoch Times contacted Epps through his business for comment, but didn’t receive a reply by press time. Tyler Durden Thu, 01/06/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 6th, 2022

I just got off a cruise disrupted by COVID-19. I have 3 more lined up this year — and I"m planning to go.

"Cruising today requires you to be prepared for constant changes," travel blogger Halee Whiting said. "I have three more cruises lined up this year." Halee Whiting.Halee Whiting Halee Whiting, 32, is a frequent traveler who's been on multiple cruises during the pandemic. Whiting's most recent ship wasn't able to dock at San Juan in Puerto Rico due to COVID-19 protocols. This is her story, as told to writer Jamie Killin. This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Halee Whiting, a frequent traveler who's been on multiple cruises during the pandemic. It has been edited for length and clarity.I'm an avid cruise goer and travel blogger who's gone on nearly 20 cruises — four of which have come during the pandemic. I just returned from a trip on Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Reflection ship that departed on December 26, and it was one of the cruise ships that wasn't able to dock at San Juan in Puerto Rico.My husband and I found a cruise blog article talking about San Juan turning away cruise ships the night before it was canceled for us. Before we got on the cruise, we started seeing islands turning ships away, so I knew there was a chance for us too.After we saw that article, we called guest services to verify, and they hadn't received any information yet. The next morning, we were notified by the captain via an announcement.Halee Whiting's Celebrity Reflection cruise.Halee WhitingWhen we were notified, there were no confirmed COVID-19 cases on board. However, San Juan's health department launched new, stricter COVID-19 protocols — causing many major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, to skip the stop on their itinerary. It happened a few days before we were scheduled to arrive.Since the change in itinerary, there was only one confirmed COVID-19 case on the ship that we were notified of. They let us know that the person was doing well, and that they and anyone they were in contact with were isolated.At this time, we were allowed to dock at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands — even though other ships were turned away and stayed out in the ocean. I believe it's due to the percentage of unvaccinated travelers on those ships. Virgin Islands Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion said the ports were turning away cruise ships with more than 1% of people on board with active COVID cases.Halee Whiting's Celebrity Reflection cruise.Halee WhitingThe itinerary change was a little disheartening, but I'm finding that cruising today requires you to be prepared for changes constantly.Despite the one COVID-19 case on board, I do feel safe cruising. I'm using the same personal protocols that I've used on all my sailings this year: I carry sanitizer and wear a mask when close to people. The experiences I've had on my pandemic-era cruises — whether on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, or MSC — have been pretty consistent. The cruise I just returned from was mask-optional for vaccinated cruisers in all areas.We also had to have a negative COVID-19 test two days prior to sailing. We used a home test that we purchased from a recommended provider by the cruise line, and everyone 12 and up must also be vaccinated.Halee Whiting's Celebrity Reflection cruise.Halee WhitingCelebrity Cruises is typically more adult-oriented, so there were only a few children on the ship. That's part of the reason my husband and I picked this cruise line: all families with children under 12 who are unvaccinated must wear a mask.Despite the changes to our itinerary and the COVID-19 case on board, I'd still cruise again — especially with Celebrity Cruises, given the age demographics and lower percentage of unvaccinated passengers. Plus, they're just an amazing cruise line. I even have another three cruises lined up for this year, and I may add more to my schedule.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 4th, 2022

A Myth Is Born: How CDC, FDA, & Media Wove A Web Of Ivermectin Lies That Outlives The Truth

A Myth Is Born: How CDC, FDA, & Media Wove A Web Of Ivermectin Lies That Outlives The Truth Via RESCUE with Michael Capuzzo Substack, New Mexico officials admit they were wrong: Two people died from covid. NOT from ivermectin. Yet the CDC generated the nation's highest health alert and a thousand fake headlines on false cases. Linda Bonvie  and Mary Beth Pfeiffer When a Texas cattleman, seventy-nine, died last September in New Mexico after contracting covid, his family never anticipated the worldwide headlines that would ensue. In a ballyhooed press conference, New Mexico Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase, the state’s top health chief, announced New Mexico’s first ivermectin “overdose,” soon adding a second fatality allegedly from “ivermectin toxicity.” An ornament with a photo of the Texas cattleman, whose death was falsely attributed to ivermectin and used as part of a deliberate effort to make that perfectly safe drug appear to be highly dangerous, is lovingly hung on the family Christmas tree by his daughter.  Now, Scrase has acknowledged that his repeated, what he called “offhand,” assertions were groundless. Two deaths were not caused by ivermectin, a long-used generic drug that was emerging as a covid treatment. Instead, he said that the pair died because they “actually just delayed their care with covid.”  That is a big difference. Scrase backpedaled on December 1 in a little-noticed online press briefing and only after we pressed his agency to provide evidence for its claims of so-called “ivermectin deaths.” Officials had repeatedly said they were awaiting a toxicology report on the cattleman’s death. Yet we learned that the report was never even ordered or done, and, moreover, the man’s death was ruled by the state’s coroner as being from “natural” causes. Not a single media outlet reported Scrase’s admission, even as dozens, including the The Hill and The New York Times, had eagerly covered his original assertions about ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015. “I don’t want more people to die,” read one early headline, quoting Scrase. “It’s the wrong medicine for something really serious,” Scrase said in the Times article. Doctors, scientists, and toxicologists worldwide were puzzled by the assertions, because ivermectin is an extraordinarily safe, FDA-approved drug. A fixture on the WHO’s list of 100 essential medicines all hospital systems are recommended to carry, nearly four billion doses have been given in four decades. New Mexico became a key player in a broad pattern of governmental deception late last summer to portray ivermectin as dangerous, in tandem with three related developments. Research strongly supported the drug’s efficacy against covid; prescriptions were soaring; and public health officials were single-mindedly focused not on treatment but on vaccination. We previously reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s tweeted warning last August against using ivermectin meant for livestock was prompted by incorrect—and unverified—information from Mississippi. Health officials there had posted an alert suggesting the state’s poison control center was deluged with hundreds of calls over ingestion of livestock ivermectin; in reality, we found, four reports were received. But, fueled by bits of contorted evidence like this, the anti-ivermectin train was unstoppable. We have now learned that, in the rush to bury a drug described as “astonishingly safe” and long used globally to quell animal and human parasites, FDA was not alone. Emails we obtained from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control show that an influential August 26 national health alert on ivermectin was spurred, like the FDA tweet, by a sliver of evidence: just three cases of alleged ivermectin side effects, two involving animal formulations. No patient died; one appeared to have been hospitalized, and one declined any medical help. Nonetheless, those three reports, obtained by Atlanta-based CDC from the Georgia poison control center, sealed the decision to issue the nation’s highest-level health warning, according to the emails.  Shortly after learning of three cases, CDC's Michael Yeh writes, “we have evidence of significant toxicity.” Referring to planning for the health alert, “the consensus was that unless we’re seeing bad adverse effects from ivermectin, we’d hold off,” wrote a CDC medical toxicity officer, Dr. Michael Yeh, in an August 17 email. “Now it sounds like we have evidence of significant toxicity.” That email was written seventy-two minutes after brief information on three reports arrived in a separate email. While CDC’s intention might have been to protect people, the alert is emblematic of what had become a national obsession: Portray an early treatment for covid—whether in the animal or human form—as potentially toxic. CDC hopped aboard. In an email later that day, Yeh laid out the evidence. The most serious case involved a man, seventy-seven, who had was said to have taken a dose of ivermectin “apparently meant for an 1800 lb. bovine.” He had “hallucinations and tremors, which improved but he was eventually diagnosed with COVID-19” for which he needed only supplemental oxygen, Yeh notes. In two other cases, a woman who took the human form of the drug was said to have suffered “some confusion.” Another woman had “subjective visual disturbances” after taking “a product meant for sheep” but declined medical help. These side effects are in keeping with what the National Institutes of Health calls a “well-tolerated” anti-parasitic drug with such adverse effects as “dizziness, pruritis, nausea, or diarrhea.” French researchers published a review last March of 350 ivermectin articles in the medical literature and found adverse effects to be “infrequent and usually mild to moderate.” The study, by the French drugmaker MedinCell, noted that no deaths were reported even after accidental overdoses or suicide attempts. In view of ivermectin’s well-established safety profile, our request for CDC documents under the Freedom of Information Act sought the rationale for the health alert and specifically asked for the data CDC used from the American Association of Poison Control Centers, to which state centers report. (AAPCC had refused to provide it.) In response to the FOIA request, CDC asserted, quite remarkably, that it “no longer possesses or has access to the data” because its “licensing agreement” with AAPCC had lapsed. The data might have specified, for example, just how many calls were related either to animal or human formulations; the alert instead lumps all reports together, making it difficult to fathom the extent of livestock ivermectin use. The CDC asserts in a letter to us that it no longer possesses the data on which a national health alert was based. An increase in ivermectin calls to poison control centers in 2021 is not in dispute, especially as doctors learned of studies showing fewer deaths, shorter hospitalizations, and outpatient success. Poison control centers often see upticks in calls when new drugs come into use, with many callers seeking only information. Centers also field calls on old, long-established medications. Acetaminophen alone generated 47,000 reports in 2019 and led to 164 deaths, according to the AAPCC. This context, of course, was missing from CDC’s alert. Calls to poison control centers for use of animal and human ivermectin grew five- to eight-fold from “pre-pandemic levels,” the alert ominously reported. At the same time, it said, ivermectin prescriptions had soared twenty-four-fold—in a perfectly legal trend led by physicians but one the CDC clearly found unacceptable and alarming. No distinction was made between animal and human formulations in the alert, which was peppered with phrases like “ivermectin misuse and overdose;” “seizures, coma, and death;” “sheep drench,” “severe illness,” and “rapid increase.” The message: Don’t use either form, even as seventy-one studies show 64 percent of 50,180 patients improved after taking ivermectin for covid. Despite the alert and New Mexico’s unfounded pronouncements, no one has died from ivermectin poisoning among 2,112 cases logged by AAPCC from January 1 to December 14, 2021. Two percent of those reports, about forty-two, involved a “major” effect, an AAPCC bulletin states. Seventy percent were dismissed as having no effect, “nontoxic exposure,” and the like. One category of those calls might rightfully have been classified as anti-ivermectin hysteria. New Mexico, for example, urged citizens to report any known ivermectin use to the state’s poison control center, even if  “someone you know has taken it.”  We asked Dr. Paul Marik, a founder of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, his thoughts on the effort to vilify ivermectin as dangerous. “Ivermectin is one of the safest medications on this planet; far safer than aspirin or acetaminophen,” he said. “This is a fairy tale. Disney could not come up with a better fairy tale.”  But it was no kind of fantasy for the cattleman’s family when he got sick. It was a painful experience with a politicized health system. A “Very Puzzling” Phone Call It wasn’t a secret that a cattleman, who died while in New Mexico from covid, took an animal formulation of ivermectin. It is a drug he was well versed in using, having routinely administered it to his herds in Texas. Others in the family also used Ivomec, a liquid formulation of ivermectin for cattle, since news spread of ivermectin’s effectiveness against covid. “Practically everyone I know takes it,” we were told by a close family friend and business associate of the Texan. (We are withholding the man’s name at the family’s request.) Ivermectin is just one of 167 drugs tested for safety and approved by the FDA for both animals and humans. Yet those who take either form of ivermectin for covid have been characterized as being anti-science and influenced by “misinformation.” The Texan is one of two individuals who, according to repeated statements from New Mexico officials, died from “ivermectin toxicity.” While their identities were not revealed by the department of health, a source familiar with the cases released them to us during this investigation. Documents and interviews with those knowledgeable about the death of the rancher tell a different story than the narrative put forth by New Mexico health officials. When the cattleman arrived at the ER on the evening of September 2 with his wife, he was soon diagnosed as suffering from acute dehydration as well as being covid positive. His daughter arrived at the hospital several hours later. In an interview, she told of the surprise eightieth birthday party for her dad the weekend before, where eight of the eleven family members attending ended up with covid. Everyone seemed to have mild symptoms, she recalled. With her dad in New Mexico and not feeling well, she suggested he be checked out. “My father was not very good at keeping himself hydrated,” she said, and at that point he didn’t seem to be drinking at all. He arrived at the hospital dehydrated to the point that his kidneys had become damaged, doctors told the family. Lacking a proper dialysis machine at the Lincoln County Medical Center, the family was told that they were trying to locate another hospital to send him to. Unfortunately, he never made it out of Ruidoso, dying on September 3. But what happened while his wife and daughter anxiously waited outside the ICU, soon after being informed that the Texan was likely going to pass away, struck them as most peculiar.   His daughter recalled a “very puzzling” phone call her mother received—so disturbing, in fact, that she felt like “yanking the phone from her.” An unknown man was on the line asking if her father took ivermectin. It was the only time she remembers that particular drug being discussed in the hospital. “I feel like they were pushing her. It was really irritating,” she said, adding, “it was not a doctor or nurse, but mom cannot remember who it was or what they represented.” They were most interested, she recalled, in grilling her mother about her dad’s use of Ivomec. At the very next press briefing, Dr. Scrase announced that a “reliable source” reported the state’s “first death” from someone who took ivermectin. While he hedged his bets about the role of ivermectin—and mentioned delayed care—he nonetheless repeatedly characterized the man’s death and one other as specifically being caused by ivermectin. However, the cattleman’s death certificate, filed at the end of September, says otherwise. It stated he passed away from “natural” causes. His death was not listed as requiring any type of “pending investigation,” and the medical examiner’s office confirmed the fact that no autopsy or toxicology report was done. But Dr. Scrase’s original tale proved to be very popular with the media. USA Today liked it so much the paper released several versions. “Two die of ivermectin poisoning,” it announced the same day the death certificate was officiated. Five days after that, a headline in The Hill trumpeted, “New Mexico reports two deaths from ivermectin.” The New Mexico Department of Health has yet to respond to any questions about why a straightforward correction was not made to the media early on regarding the two deaths that were erroneously attributed to ivermectin. It is also not clear why at a recent press briefing the agency was continuing to perpetuate this fallacy even after admitting it was untruthful, rather than correcting the record—and why they have alleged another ivermectin-related death, again without offering any evidence to that effect. The second supposed ivermectin death involved a thirty-eight-year-old woman from Cuba, New Mexico, reportedly of Navajo heritage. An autopsy was done, but the results have yet to be released. While Scrase has acknowledged that the two deaths were from covid, not ivermectin, he nonetheless announced what he called yet a “third” ivermectin death at his December 1 briefing. The new death, Scrase said, is a “60-year-old man who took a horse preparation. This gentleman took 150 milligrams, [suffered] liver failure, kidney failure and actually died from the ivermectin without the covid.”  As with the first two cases, the cause of death remains to be seen. According to Dr. Marik, 150 milligrams of ivermectin can be safely tolerated. “I do not know of a single case of liver failure and organ failure due to ivermectin,” he wrote in an email. Both the CDC and New Mexico Department of Health declined to answer questions for this article. Despite ongoing requests by the New Mexico Department of Health for residents to report any ivermectin use, as this slide displayed during a December 1 press conference shows, only 29 calls came into the state’s poison control center for most all of 2021. The graphic also states that ivermectin caused three deaths in the state, despite the fact that during that very same press briefing it was acknowledged that the first two of the alleged deaths were due to covid, not ivermectin (with no evidence released to support the third claim). The CDC emails suggest it took very little to convince the agency to issue a national warning about the use of ivermectin. Details on those three cases are scant, the emails show.  Ivermectin dosages are missing or, in one case, described as “concentration unknown.” One woman “was sent to the hospital, but her baseline mental status was unclear.” Another woman was to be contacted for follow-up after declining aid, but there is no indication this was done.   These anecdotal bits are the threads from which a mythical tapestry about so-called “ivermectin toxicity” has been woven. This myth lives on in easily accessed online articles. Among them: Mississippi’s health alert on August 19 said 70 percent of poison-control calls were for ingestion of livestock ivermectin. The actual figure was 2 percent; it was not corrected for forty-six days. FDA claimed last March to have “received multiple reports” of injury and hospitalization after people took livestock ivermectin. In reality, the agency relied on four reports, a spokesperson said in an email. CDC officials referenced the FDA “consumer warning” when planning their own contribution to the myth of ivermectin harm. It matters little that false Mississippi figures were corrected (at our behest) by The New York Times, twice, and The Washington Post. What matters is the hurricane of fear, whipped up by New Mexico, Mississippi, the FDA, and CDC—and abetted by media—made ivermectin into something it was not. So where do we stand as vaccines fail and cases rise? On October 28, WisPolitics.com reported the case of a family that failed to convince a court to give FDA-approved ivermectin to their dying loved one. “There have been multiple reports nationally,” the website reported, “of people taking the version of the drug intended for animals to combat COVID-19 and sickening themselves in the process.” Unsupported in the medical literature, the false image of ivermectin convinced doctors in that case to suggest that “the prescribed dosage may be lethal.” Indeed, the invented peril, rather than promise, of ivermectin has become ingrained in the national media and consciousness. That is the story that lives. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/24/2021 - 23:15.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 25th, 2021

5 Oil & Gas Stocks Set to Sustain Their Winning Streaks in 2022

With strong fundamental footing, the rally in Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ), PDC Energy (PDCE), SM Energy (SM), Imperial Oil (IMO) and Marathon Oil (MRO) is likely to continue. In early and mid-2020, the Oil/Energy sector was devastated, with the space left for dead due to the unprecedented turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While most businesses were hit hard by the coronavirus-induced lockdowns, the demand destruction and price plunge associated with oil and gas were like no other.But have things changed! Fast forward to December 2021 and the year could well be construed as one of stunning recovery for the energy market. Profits across the space have bounced back from last year's pandemic-driven slump in consumption and prices. With crude rallying past $70 and natural gas trading around 45% above the year-ago levels amid macro tailwinds, the sector components have reacted very positively to this robust investment landscape.Energy watchdogs have made it quite clear that global demand for oil and gas will not fall anytime soon. This should probably put a floor beneath prices. Given this backdrop, it will be fruitful to invest in top-ranked stocks that stood out in 2021 and have a chance of outperforming in 2022 as well. We recommend Canadian Natural Resources CNQ, PDC Energy PDCE, SM Energy SM, Imperial Oil IMO and Marathon Oil MRO.The Great Energy RevivalTaking investors on a roller coaster ride, crude has made a rebound for ages — from the depths of minus $38 a barrel in April 2020 to reclaim a seven-year high above $85 in October. While it has pulled back somewhat due to uncertainties associated with the latest COVID strain, the general trend has been positive.The widespread development/distribution of vaccines, economic recovery around the world and increased mobility has aided fuel demand. Just recently, the four-week average for petroleum demand stood at an all-time high of 23.2 million barrels a day, indicating little reason for concern at this point. On the other hand, U.S. commercial stockpiles are down nearly 16% since mid-March.In other words, oil looks well-positioned with a supportive macro backdrop and robust fundamentals. Apart from COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, the ongoing government stimulus and the OPEC+ cartel’s calibrated production policy have contributed to this positive setup. There is also a marked improvement in fuel demand on the back of rebounding road and airline travel.The story is positive on the natural gas front as well. Higher cooling demand in the summer months on the back of record-breaking heat, hurricane-related disruption in supplies and strong liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) export demand are the key reasons why the fuel has soared in 2021. The commodity recently topped $6 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) for the first time since 2014 and reached a 13-year high settlement of $6.312 in October.Why the Momentum Is Likely to Continue Into 2022Much of the positive argument is simply a bet on stronger economic growth in America and the subsequent improvement in end-user fuel usage. The newly introduced $1 trillion mega infrastructure bill will be another major catalyst for the U.S. markets, thereby supporting stronger crude prices. The unleashing of pent-up travel demand will also pave the way for oil demand growth in 2022. Further, fears of a slowdown in oil demand recovery from the Omicron variant are starting to subside, with the strain likely to be less deadly than expected. At the same time, available vaccines might be effective in neutralizing it.Moving to natural gas, there is a stable demand catalyst in the form of continued strong LNG feedgas deliveries. LNG shipments for export from the United States have been robust for months on the back of environmental reasons and record higher prices of the super-chilled fuel elsewhere. Most analysts believe that deliveries appear poised for further gains this year and the next on surging consumption in Europe and Asia, especially as we head deeper into winter. The circumstances are particularly dire in Europe where gas supply is running low with the need for a steady refill from the United States ahead of the peak winter period. At the same time, promised flows from Russia have been limited.5 High-Flying Energy Stocks With Potential for Further GainsAfter solid year-to-date gains for most energy companies, investors might wonder which stocks’ rally can continue in the days ahead. To this end, we suggest adding names that have room to increase further from a fundamental perspective. In other words, while investors will essentially be buying high, they hope to sell even higher.Here, Zacks’ proprietary methodology comes in handy. Our research shows that stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) offer good investment opportunities. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.We have picked five stocks with a market capitalization of more than $1 billion that have gained more than 50% so far in 2021, but have the potential to move up further next year based on their inherent strengths.The chart below shows the price performance of our five picks so far this year. Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchOur ChoicesCanadian Natural Resources: This Calgary-based energy major boasts a diversified portfolio of crude oil (heavy as well as light), natural gas, bitumen and synthetic crude oil. CNQ’s balanced and diverse production mix facilitates long-term value and reduces the risk profile thereby lending its results a high level of stability. Lower capital expenditure needs, accretive acquisitions and improving operational efficiencies are other positives in the Canadian Natural story, which allowed the company to generate a significant free cash flow of C$2.2 billion (post capital spending and dividends) in the most recent quarter.CNQ has an expected earnings growth rate of 11.1% for next year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Canadian Natural's 2022 earnings has been revised 9.1% upward over the last 60 days. CNQ, carrying a Zacks Rank #1, has gained around 72.3% year to date.PDC Energy: PDCE is an independent exploration and production operator with the Wattenberg Field in Colorado being its chief operating region. Following the SRC Energy deal last year, PDC Energy has emerged as the second-largest oil producer in the DJ Basin to go with its existing Delaware acreage. The company has a favorable debt maturity and its credit facility currently has a total borrowing base of $2.4 billion.PDC Energy has a projected earnings growth rate of 29.1% for 2022. PDCE’s consensus estimate for the next year has been revised 18.3% upward over the past 60 days. PDC Energy carries a Zacks Rank #1 and its shares are up 141.3% since the beginning of 2021.SM Energy: SM Energy is an oil and gas explorer in North America. The company’s top-tier, balanced and diverse portfolio of proved reserves, as well as development drilling opportunities is expected to create long-term value for its shareholders. Given SM Energy’s increasing focus on crude oil, specifically in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford regions, we believe that the company is in a good position to capitalize on strong realizations in the coming days.SM Energy has an expected earnings growth rate of 276.8% for the next year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the upstream explorer's 2022 earnings has been revised 80.6% upward over the last 60 days. SM Energy, carrying a Zacks Rank #1, has rocketed around 374.3% year to date.Imperial Oil: IMO’s integrated business portfolio of upstream and downstream assets provides it with a high level of stability, reducing the risk profile of the company. Strong execution and ramped-up activities in Kearl, Cold Lake and Syncrude projects positions the company for solid production growth and is expected to augment its revenues and earnings going forward. Imperial Oil's strong balance sheet, its ability to generate cash flow and a shareholder-friendly policy should also favor the stock, apart from the majority holding by ExxonMobil.IMO has an expected earnings growth rate of 40% for next year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Imperial Oil's 2022 earnings has been revised 12.2% upward over the last 60 days. The #2 Ranked IMO has rallied around 88.1% so far this year.Marathon Oil: Marathon’s robust operational metrics suggest strong long-term cash flows that should support higher price points for the shares. The wells drilled by MRO have extremely low oil price breakeven costs and need oil prices of just $35 a barrel to be profitable. Marathon continues to cut down costs substantially and is striving to achieve a 30% decrease in production and G&A costs in 2021 compared to the 2019 levels. Further, the company’s significant debt maturities mostly fall after 2025 and as such there does not appear to be much risk here.Marathon Oil has a projected earnings growth rate of 71.6% for 2022. MRO’s consensus estimate for next year has been revised 41% upward over the past 60 days. Marathon Oil carries a Zacks Rank of 2 and its shares are up 143.4% since the beginning of 2021. 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 Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO): Free Stock Analysis Report SM Energy Company (SM): Free Stock Analysis Report Imperial Oil Limited (IMO): Free Stock Analysis Report Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ): Free Stock Analysis Report PDC Energy, Inc. (PDCE): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 24th, 2021

Blain: Is It Just Me, Or Does Omicron Sound Like A Common Cold?

Blain: Is It Just Me, Or Does Omicron Sound Like A Common Cold? Authored by Bill Blan via MorningPorridge.com, Rats and sinking ships have history – you’d think the rats would have learnt by now?” Lockdowns and travel restrictions highlight the economic damage Omicron has done to the whole European Economy. Corporate resilience will be severely tested – whatever governments decide. The likelihood of stagflation has risen, but markets are likely to benefit from buy-the-dip mentality as investors weigh-up renewed government support if/when it turns nasty! Apologies for lack of Morning Porridge last few days – I was “travelling”. What joy. There was a time I loved flying – the glamour of it all. A chance to pick up Christmas presents in duty-free, sophisticated airline lounges and luxury in the air as one jet-setted around the globe. I appreciate I have become a grumpy old man… but travel has changed, and not for the better. Pandemic flying is a scramble to complete PCR test documentation, passenger locator forms, but it’s also become an excuse for lowest common denominator service in tired uncomfortable cabins. Business class is the new economy. BA don’t even let Business Class passengers in the lounge anymore – apparently, it too small for A380 flights… Back in Blighty I was confronted with modern reality – going straight from plane to test centre. 30 minutes queuing outside to get a PCR test. In the “luxury testing centre” – in reality a swiftly repurposed bankrupt shopfront, three young girls wearing branded medical uniforms were trying to cope with a crowd of angry passengers who hadn’t got their test results back in time to fly that morning. Eventually I got in for the test I’d pre-booked. The poor girl was nearly in tears – she just did the tests and didn’t know anything about how the test process worked. As she was wearing the full gear, I asked about her medical qualifications – a 10 min training course. The uniform is all for show. Someone is milking it big on Covid Testing. (Clue: who knows who in parliament…) Back to the markets… The next few days will see 2021 markets wind down ahead of Christmas and the New Year, but it’s looking an absolutely critical week for the European economy in terms of Covid and Energy. A cold snap is approaching and there are signs the current gas price could head stratospheric – exactly as predicted in this porridge from September: The looming energy crisis: People are Going to Die this Winter. Holland has joined the list of lockdown nations. Germany has followed France in locking out British travellers – as if that might stop the spread of the new Omicron variant. The UK cabinet is riven between a new lockdown versus the economic mayhem it may cause. I was intrigued to read about calls for the UK government to update the list of symptoms people should look out for on Omicron: runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing and sore throat. Is it just me, or does that sound that a common cold? Meanwhile, the cascading collapse of the Boris premiership continued with the resignation of Lord Frost, Frosty the No-Man, apparently furious at dither and retreat on Europe. He will be replaced by Tank-girl Liz Truss who I frankly know little about – except she was a remainer, but is now a reborn whatever will appeal to the voters. She is, I suppose, another name to put in the successor hat. (Personally, Javid will get my vote!) Whatever happens at Christmas – and whether the Blain Clan will gather for our first family event since Mum’s funeral, (my brothers and all our immediate families) rather depends on decisions likely to be taken this week. It’s not looking good – but stuff the rules; the Blain’s shall feast! Troubles come not singly, but in mighty battalions. In addition to Energy, the bleak reality of how authorities around the globe have reacted to the Omicron variant has already ensured a stagflationary open for 2022. Restaurants, pubs, ski-slopes and high streets across Europe are empty. Multiple businesses stand on the brink of disaster – and this time there are no covid loans or furlough schemes to see them through. The damage has been done. Corporate resilience to renewed lockdown is low. They already face supply chain inflation, wage pressures, and now a collapse in demand. Omicron is shaking already tottering economies. Populations are increasingly divided. Out walking at the weekend, it’s clear many mask-wearing folk will happily jump into the traffic rather than get too close to other pedestrians. On the other hand, protestors and anti-vaxxers are proving fertile ground for the far-right. The economic multiplier effects of de-facto lockdown are going to be huge. Last week, my daughter felt fluey. She did a negative test, but called her work to say she was going to stay home with a cough and temperature – they insisted she came in. She spent two days spluttering while dealing with the Christmas orders before the inevitable positive Covid test. The company then put her on immediate “statutory sick pay” – a fraction of her salary – arguing she will be off for days. It’s pretty appalling corporate behaviour – but what’s their choice? Missing Christmas orders means the company goes bust. They don’t have the financial reserves to pay salaries of non-workers. But, losing 1/3 of her monthly wage the week before Christmas for the crime of catching Covid means my daughter will struggle to pay her rent. She’s certainly not saving for a house, her future and a pension is a complete unknown. It’s looking highly unlikely her job, or the company, will survive long into next year. A hard-nosed economist will say that’s a positive for the economy – a whole cohort of young, highly educated workers without any wage-pricing power available to fill whatever jobs emerge on the next economic reopening. A realist might say it’s a whole generation seeing the confidence in any kind of future shattered. That has enormous political, social and business consequences. Meanwhile, the market is looking interesting.  When is the best time to buy? When everyone else is selling… With a sell-off underway this morning in Asia, maybe its time to get your buying boots ready? We’ve got a very split market: the big-tech large stocks making the gains, while small caps have sold off (for all the reasons discussed above.) What are central banks going to do if the weakness deepens? If we see a slew of business closures and suddenly highly indebted young consumers find themselves jobless? How big a risk is taper and higher rates in such circumstances? The West’s flirtation with easy money looked to be coming to an end. The Bank of England acted early with last week’s 15 bp rate hike. Not a lot in the grand scheme of themes, but a curious call as the Government dithers about how to handle Omicron. The Fed will hike early next year. Bond buying programmes are closed. It looks increasingly unlikely the Biden administration will get Build Back Better spending over the line in a meaningful way. The ECB remains accommodative – trying to balance soaring inflation vs lethargic southern economies by dint of doing nothing. Meanwhile, China is going into full easing mode in the interests of “stability” as it tries to weather the unfolding property and energy shocks. There are a number of reasons to wonder about the upside market potential even as economic weakness increases. A number of market reports note the amount of cash that’s sitting on the sidelines. That seems kind of crazy when US and European inflation has risen to 30 year highs. Corporate cashpiles are earmarked for buy-backs – rather than building new factories and plants. (Corporate boards have approved record buy-back volumes in 2022 – the fact they are doing so is another indicator of how weak the real outlook is.) Basically, all that cash is waiting to buy the market. It feels like there is at least one more uptick to come. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/20/2021 - 08:17.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 20th, 2021