Oct 232022
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Landscape With the Rest on the Flight into Egypt 1647

 

Elite US Unit Ready To Fight In Ukraine If Conflict ‘Escalates’ – CBS (RT)
US-Led Force Might Intervene In Ukraine Conflict – Petraeus (RT)
Hungarian Foreign Ministry Criticizes ‘Pro-war’ EU (RT)
Ukraine War Evolves: Slouching Toward Armageddon (Falk)
Ukraine Confiscates Russian Cargo Ships (RT)
Russia Urges UN To Prevent Ukraine’s ‘Terrible Provocation’ (RT)
Zelensky Calls On ‘World’ To Strike Russia (RT)
Net Zero Bombshell: The World Does Not Have Enough Lithium and Cobalt (DS)
Electric Cars In Germany May Fall Victim To Energy Crisis – Spiegel (RT)
A Judge is About to Rule on Pfizergate Case (BN)
Fauci’s Calendar: What Was He Doing in the Months Before the Pandemic? (CHD)
Fauci (et al) Fraud Finale? (El Gato)
EU Sets Out Commitment to “Legally Binding” Global Pandemic Treaty (DS)
Inside the Proton, the ‘Most Complicated Thing You Could Possibly Imagine’ (QM)

 

 

 

 

I am not a robot: what that means

 

 

 

 

Keri Lake

 

 

 

 

Biden

 

 

Assange

 

 

 

 

America’s finest reduced to a propaganda stunt. And sitting ducks. On national TV. So Americans will think: now the Russkies will be afraid!

Elite US Unit Ready To Fight In Ukraine If Conflict ‘Escalates’ – CBS (RT)

The US Army 101st Airborne Division would not hesitate to enter Ukraine should a conflict break out between Russia and NATO, CBS News reported on Friday citing the unit’s military commanders. The elite division is currently conducting war games in Romania, close to the NATO country’s border with Ukraine. The unit’s commanders told CBS that they would be prepared to cross into Ukraine if the fighting escalates – without elaborating what that would entail – or if NATO were to come under attack. They highlighted that their current deployment in Europe, the first since WWII, is “to defend NATO territory.” “We’re ready to defend every inch of NATO soil”, Deputy Commander Brigadier General John Lubas told the news network.

In Romania, the 101st Airborne Division is holding joint live-fire ground and air assault exercises. According to Colonel Edwin Matthaidess, Commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, his division is the closest US unit to the fighting in Ukraine. He noted that the US troops, have been “closely watching” the Russian military while “building objectives to practice against” and organizing the drills to “replicate exactly what’s going on” in Ukraine. “It keeps us on our toes,” he added. In total, about 4,700 American soldiers from the 101st Airborne’s base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, have been sent to Europe. NATO has repeatedly stated that it is not a party to the conflict and will not send its troops into Ukraine.

In late June, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the US-led bloc would significantly increase the number of its forces on high alert from 40,000 to over 300,000. Since the start of Russia’s military offensive on February 24, Ukraine has received substantial military aid from NATO countries, with billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry pouring into the country – which Moscow has repeatedly criticized. The 101st Airborne Division, also known as the “Screaming Eagles,” has a distinguished military history. It took part in the airborne operations during the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944 and in the Battle of the Bulge, where it fought in a complete encirclement. The unit was also involved in the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

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“.. a multinational force led by the US and not as a NATO force..”

“Petraeus commanded US forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, presiding over America’s highest death tolls during the 20-year war, and increased civilian casualties.”

US-Led Force Might Intervene In Ukraine Conflict – Petraeus (RT)

The US and its allies might directly intervene in the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, even when there is no threat to any NATO member states, retired US Army general David Petraeus told France’s L’Express weekly on Saturday. Washington might form a new coalition of the willing in such a scenario and use it instead of NATO, Petraeus, who also briefly served as the CIA director, believes. Russia could take some actions in Ukraine that would be “so shocking and so horrific” that it would prompt a response from the US and other nations, he said, adding that they “might react in one way or another, but as a multinational force led by the US and not as a NATO force.” The military alliance would still likely be bound by its treaty and would only join the conflict if Article 5 is invoked, i.e. if one of its members is attacked, the general believes.

Petraeus also said that Moscow is not interested in escalating the conflict and turning it into a global war. A wider conflict is “the last thing” Russian President Vladimir Putin needs right now, he added. Earlier in October, Petraeus claimed that the US could wipe out all Russian forces in Ukraine, alongside with the Russian Black Sea fleet, if Moscow uses nuclear arms in Ukraine. On Saturday, he doubled down on these words by saying that Washington’s response to such a move on Russia’s part would involve “more than diplomatic … economic and legal actions.” At the same time, Petraeus said that his earlier words had described “just one” of “many options” America has in store in case Russia resorts to the use of nuclear arms, which he called an “extremely bad decision.”

The general also said that he still thinks there is nothing Russia could do to change the situation on the frontlines, which, according to Petraeus, is unfavorable to Moscow. Petraeus commanded US forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, presiding over America’s highest death tolls during the 20-year war, and increased civilian casualties. The general helped persuade then-President Barack Obama to deploy an additional 30,000 US troops to the country, but his counterinsurgency plan, which hinged on “securing and serving” the local population, flopped. He then became CIA director in 2011, only to resign the following year after having an extramarital affair with the woman who was writing his biography.

Judge Nap and Scott Ritter

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“..we need immediate peace instead of a longer war. Peace requires an immediate ceasefire and dialogue.”

Hungarian Foreign Ministry Criticizes ‘Pro-war’ EU (RT)

The Hungarian Foreign Ministry has rejected EU calls for Russia to be defeated in Ukraine, saying the bloc needed peace, not a prolonged conflict. EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson made several statements on the hostilities this week, stressing the bloc’s “determination, resolve and unity to stand by Ukraine as long as it takes.”She also insisted that “to end this crisis, first, Putin must lose.” Responding on Friday, Tamas Menczer, State Secretary at Hungary’s Foreign Ministry, accused Johansson of making “a very dangerous statement because it links the end of a crisis with a military event, about which we don’t know when will it happen or if it happens at all.” “This pro-war stance of Brussels extends the conflict and suffering. This is extremely dangerous and unacceptable,” he insisted.

Menczer reiterated the position of the Hungarian government, which is that “we need immediate peace instead of a longer war. Peace requires an immediate ceasefire and dialogue.” Hungary has remained relatively neutral since the outbreak of fighting in Ukraine in late February. It has refused to send arms to Kiev unlike many fellow EU members and consistently criticized the sanctions imposed by Brussels on Moscow. Budapest, which is heavily dependent on Russian fuel, was also able to negotiate an exemption for itself from the bloc-wide ban on Russian oil. Moscow, which has repeatedly invited Kiev to come to the negotiating table, has blamed the Ukrainian side for undermining any potential for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a declaration that officially made it “impossible” to hold any negotiations with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The move followed the inclusion of the Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, and the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, into Russia as result of referendums in those territories. Kiev and its Western backers have labeled September’s votes a “sham” and continue to view the areas as parts of Ukraine.

More for oligarchs

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‘to be so far from God and yet so close to the United States.’

Ukraine War Evolves: Slouching Toward Armageddon (Falk)

[..] even if it can be argued that Russia/Putin have launched a war that is unlawful, immoral, and unjustified, the wider geopolitical context remains crucial if peace is to be restored and catastrophe avoided. For one thing, the Russian attack may be all of those things alleged, and yet form part of a geopolitical pattern of established behavior that the U.S. has itself confirmed in a series of wars starting with the Vietnam War, and notably more recently with the Kosovo War, Afghanistan War, and the Iraq War. None of these wars were legal, moral, and justifiable, although each enjoyed a geopolitical rationale that made them seem desirable to U.S. foreign policy elites and its closest alliance partners.

Of course, two wrongs do not make a right, but in a world where geopolitical actors enjoy a license to pursue vital strategic interests within traditional spheres of influence, it is not objectively defensible to self-righteously condemn Russia without taking account of what the U.S. has been doing around the world for several decades. Antony Blinken may tell the media that spheres of influence became a thing of the past after World War II, but he must have been asleep for decades not to notice that the Yalta Agreement on the future of Europe reached in 1945 by the Soviet Union, United States, and the United Kingdom was premised on precisely the explicit affirmation of such spheres, which in retrospect, however distasteful in application, deserve some credit for keeping the Cold War from becoming World War III.

Such compromised sovereignty of these borderland countries is descriptive of the prerogatives claimed by so-called Great Powers throughout the history of international relations, not least by the United States through the Monroe Doctrine and its extensions. In this sense, Ukraine finds itself in the long unenviable position of Mexico, and indeed all of Latin America. Many years ago the famous Mexican cultural figure, Octavio Paz, proclaimed the tragedy of his country ‘to be so far from God and yet so close to the United States.’

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“Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer pointed out that any decision to transfer Russian assets to help Ukraine would have to be made in court..”

Ukraine Confiscates Russian Cargo Ships (RT)

Kiev has handed over nine vessels belonging to Russia to a Ukrainian company, the country’s authorities announced on Saturday. “The income received from managing the vessels will go to the state budget of Ukraine. The total cost of the ships is over UAH 532 million (nearly $14.5 million),” the Prosecutor General’s Office said in a message on its Telegram channel. The ships entered Ukrainian ports in late 2021 and early 2022 and, according to the agency, were transporting cargo. They were then “arrested” and transferred to ARMA, a government agency for the search and management of assets.


In August, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky announced that Kiev had confiscated $765 million worth of Russian assets on Ukrainian territory, and was going to seize more assets belonging to the Russian state, and to use the proceeds for Ukraine’s defense and reconstruction. On Friday, the EU said it would look into ways of using the €300 billion ($292 billion) worth of Russian assets it has frozen as part of sanctions against Moscow, to finance Ukraine. After a summit in Brussels, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer pointed out that any decision to transfer Russian assets to help Ukraine would have to be made in court, as Europe was committed to the rule of law. Moscow has repeatedly condemned the seizure of its assets by Western nations and has described it as theft.

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Of course, the west says it’s Russia that threatens the dam.

Russia Urges UN To Prevent Ukraine’s ‘Terrible Provocation’ (RT)

Russia has formally asked the United Nations Security Council to prevent Ukraine from destroying the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric dam in Kherson Region. Such a disaster could result in the deaths of thousands of civilians, Moscow’s ambassador to the UN warned on Friday. Speaking at a Security Council briefing, Vassily Nebenzia noted that as the West chooses to ignore “any criminal acts” committed by Ukraine, the country has been “consistently conducting strikes on civilian infrastructure in its former territories”, including the town of Novaya Kakhovka in Kherson Region, which was recently incorporated into Russia. According to the envoy, most of the missiles are being launched from US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

“Ukrainian forces are aiming at the Kakhovskaya dam in order to break it, causing the water level to rise and the adjacent areas to flood,” the diplomat said. Should this happen, Nebenzia warned, “thousands of civilians may be killed, and thousands of homes damaged.” The envoy said Russia has distributed a letter to Security Council members, calling on the UN leadership to prevent “this terrible provocation.” The Ukrainian military frequently shells settlements and civilian infrastructure in the Kherson Region. Aside from the Kakhovskaya plant, Kiev has been targeting the Antonovsky Bridge and a pontoon crossing over the Dnepr River in the city of Kherson, in a bid to disrupt Russian logistics in the area.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin imposed martial law in Kherson Region, as well as three other former Ukrainian territories, amid reports that Kiev’s forces were preparing a large-scale offensive against the area’s capital city. A day earlier, local authorities announced the relocation of civilians from the province. Kiev’s forces have also repeatedly targeted Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which is located in the neighboring region, with Russian authorities warning that the attacks could trigger a disaster that would eclipse the Chernobyl incident.

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Kolomoisky should withdraw his puppet.

Zelensky Calls On ‘World’ To Strike Russia (RT)

The world should make it clear to Russia that it would have to face immediate military response if it decides to use nuclear arms against Kiev, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told CBC and CTV broadcasters in an interview this week. The Ukrainian leader accused Russia of using “terrorist” blackmail tactics and said that Moscow only understands the language of force. Zelensky accused Moscow of repeatedly threatening to strike “decision-making centers” in Ukraine, including with nuclear arms and said that the world should respond if such a strike does take place. “It does not matter if Ukraine is a NATO member or a non-NATO nation,” he said, adding that no one should be allowed to “blackmail [other nations] like a terrorist.”

According to the Ukrainian president, the world should tell the Russians: “If you strike Bankova Street [the Ukrainian President’s Office], there will be a strike at where you are.” If Moscow does strike Kiev, there should be “a strike at the decision-making centers” in Russia the next “second,” regardless of the results of the Russian attack, he added. Such a stance would be, in turn, not a blackmail but a kind of self-defense that would supposedly prevent those issuing a threat from following through on their plans, Zelensky argued. “One can talk about humanism for a long time,” the Ukrainian president told journalists, adding that his nation lives in a situation, where it has a “neighbor that does not understand anything but force.”

The Ukrainian president also squarely blamed all Russians for what happens in Ukraine. “The society of the Russian Federation must know that they attack our [Ukrainian] society,” he said, adding that the Russians “support a terrorist authority.” If the Russians “do not exert pressure” on President Vladimir Putin, “the world will isolate itself from you,” Zelensky warned, adding that nobody would talk to Russia since it only speaks “the language of threats.” The Ukrainian president also said that the world must itself decide who to talk to in Russia since “they are terrorists now. All of them.”It is not the first time the Ukrainian leader makes such appeals. Earlier, he already called on NATO to carry out preventive strikes on Russia to deter the use of nuclear weapons.

At that time, his words sparked an angry reaction from Moscow that accused Zelensky of trying to spark a third world war. Zelensky later walked back his remarks, claiming that he actually meant “preventative kicks” and blaming the ‘misunderstanding’ on the translation. The Ukrainian president then walked back his statement, claiming it was mistranslated and that he really meant to say preemptive sanctions, not “preemptive strikes.” Back in September, Putin said that Russia would defend its territory using all means available and would do “everything to ensure the security of its people.” At the same time, he also said that Moscow was ready for talks with Kiev and called on Ukraine to “to cease all hostilities” and return to the negotiating table.

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Not a bombshell.

Net Zero Bombshell: The World Does Not Have Enough Lithium and Cobalt (DS)

Influential elites are either in denial about the horrifying costs and consequences of Net Zero – witness last Wednesday’s substantial vote against fracking British gas in the House of Commons – or busy scooping up the almost unlimited amounts of money currently on offer for promoting pseudoscience climate scares and investing in impracticable green technologies. Until the lights start to go out and heating fails, they are unlikely to pay much attention to a recent 1,000 page alternative energy investigation undertaken for a Finnish Government agency by Associate Professor Simon Michaux. Referring to the U.K.’s 2050 Net Zero target, Michaux states there is “simply not enough time, nor resources to do this by the current target”.

To cite just one example of how un-costed Net Zero is, Michaux notes that “in theory” there are enough global reserves of nickel and lithium if they are exclusively used to produce batteries for electric vehicles. But there is not enough cobalt, and more will need to be discovered. It gets much worse. All the new batteries have a useful working life of only 8-10 years, so replacements will need to be regularly produced. “This is unlikely to be practical, which suggests the whole EV battery solution may need to be re-thought and a new solution is developed that is not so mineral intensive,” he says. All of these problems occur in finding a mass of lithium for ion batteries weighting 286.6 million tonnes. But a “power buffer” of another 2.5 billion tonnes of batteries is also required to provide a four-week back-up for intermittent wind and solar electricity power.

Of course, this is simply not available from global mineral reserves, but, states Michaux, it is not clear how the buffer could be delivered with an alternative system. Michaux sounds a clear warning message. Current expectations are that global industrial businesses will replace a complex industrial energy ecosystem that took more than a century to build. It was built with the support of the highest calorifically dense source of energy the world has ever known (oil), in cheap abundant quantities, with easily available credit and seemingly unlimited mineral resources. The replacement, he notes, needs to be done when there is comparatively very expensive energy, a fragile finance system saturated in debt and not enough minerals.

Most challenging of all, it has to be done within a few decades. Based on his copious calculations, the author is of the opinion that it will not go fully “as planned”. Last Sunday, Sir David Attenborough concluded six episodes of pseudoscientific green agitprop Frozen Planet II by demanding that the world embrace Net Zero, “no matter how challenging it may be”. Net Zero is a political command-and-control project, the full horror of which is yet to be inflicted on the general population. Michaux is quite clear what it entails: “What may be required, therefore, is a significant reduction of societal demand for all resources, of all kinds. This implies a very different social contract and a radically different system of governance to what is in place today.”

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Make that the entire German car industry. Who’s buying cars?

Electric Cars In Germany May Fall Victim To Energy Crisis – Spiegel (RT)

The current energy crisis in Europe could put the brakes on electric mobility in Germany and make e-vehicles unattractive to potential customers, Der Spiegel reported on Friday. With electricity getting ever more expensive, charging an e-vehicle is sometimes pricier than filling up a petrol or diesel vehicle, the newspaper writes. The combustion engine is more than €30 cheaper per month on average with a mileage of 15,000 kilometers, the publications writes. By the end of next year, an e-car should “clearly be at a disadvantage,” Der Spiegel quotes Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer from the Center for Automotive Research as saying.

The state bonuses for buying electric vehicles were also reduced by 25%. With an almost a year-long wait for an ordered electric car to arrive, the buyer will get a smaller bonus than they were expecting, the outlet writes, adding that there’s no longer any state subsidy for hybrid cars. In the current climate, consumers may have little desire to buy a new car. The situation was described as a “toxic mixture of energy crisis and inflation” by Sabine Jaskula from ZF, Germany’s second largest car systems supplier. Electric car production will collapse in Europe next year, she predicts, as only 11 million cars could roll off the assembly line across the industry instead of the planned 18 million.

Another ZF representative described the EU plans to stop selling petrol and diesel cars by 2035 as “illusory.” There’s also a shortage of public charging stations across Germany, according to Der Spiegel. In some metropolitan areas, a single station has to be shared between as many as 60 vehicles, and a large-scale station refurbishment is needed to provide enough charging spaces for everyone. According to veteran battery car dealer Wolf Warncke, “There is a risk that prospective buyers will turn their backs on e-mobility.”

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Brook Jackson. “Staff who conducted quality control checks were overwhelmed by the volume of problems they were finding.”

A Judge is About to Rule on Pfizergate Case (BN)

The last shred of hope for holding Big Pharma accountable for fraud now rests on a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturer Pfizer. In an update provided to Becker News, a judge is soon expected to issue his ruling on whether or not the ‘Pfizergate’ fraud case proceeds to trial. “The judge is deciding, as I type, whether we go to discovery or the case is dismissed,” Pfizer whistleblower Brook Jackson tells Becker News. After the CDC this week voted to add the Covid shots to its Childhood Vaccines Schedule, under the PREP Act, it has effectively been granted legal immunity to lawsuits. There is no legal immunity if Pfizer committed fraud, however. In September, Pfizer whistleblower Brook Jackson came forward with her explosive report about the company’s alleged malfeasance, citing ‘falsified data’ and manipulated clinical trials.

In January, she filed a lawsuit against Pfizer for committing fraud against the American people. In February, the judge ruled that the lawsuit, being led by attorney Robert Barnes, can proceed to pre-trial discovery phase. It is now on the verge of potentially going to trial. Brook Jackson is a former clinical trial auditor who was fired after raising her concerns. She first came forward with inside information and documented evidence about Pfizer’s operations in a BMJ investigation conducted by Paul Thacker. The report raises serious red flags that the FDA and Pfizer engaged in massive fraud to justify vaccine mandates. “A regional director who was employed at the research organisation Ventavia Research Group has told The BMJ that the company falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events reported in Pfizer’s pivotal phase III trial,” the BMJ reported. “Staff who conducted quality control checks were overwhelmed by the volume of problems they were finding.

After repeatedly notifying Ventavia of these problems, the regional director, Brook Jackson, emailed a complaint to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ventavia fired her later the same day. Jackson has provided The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails.” “Jackson has told The BMJ that, during the two weeks she was employed at Ventavia in September 2020, she repeatedly informed her superiors of poor laboratory management, patient safety concerns, and data integrity issues,” the report added. “Jackson was a trained clinical trial auditor who previously held a director of operations position and came to Ventavia with more than 15 years’ experience in clinical research coordination and management.” The U.S. government has moved to dismiss the case, which cites the False Claims Act.

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His entire calendar, minus redactions.

Fauci’s Calendar: What Was He Doing in the Months Before the Pandemic? (CHD)

On Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, at 9 a.m., Dr. Anthony Fauci joined staff at the National Security Council (NSC) — the President’s national security and foreign policy advisory shop — for a meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building about the novel coronavirus. Fauci would continue to have meetings in classified settings throughout the month. Fauci’s calendar entries included NSC meetings, White House Situation Room meetings and meetings in other classified settings, as COVID-19 was breaking in China. (To our knowledge, the existence of these meetings before Jan. 28, 2020, was not previously disclosed.) On Friday, Jan. 24, four days after China admitted human-to-human transmission of the virus, Fauci started attending a small group COVID-19 discussion that first took place in “Anthony’s Office” in a building next to the White House.

Anthony, in this case, appears to be an NSC employee and an expert in biodefense and China. Flashing back to December 2019, when patients in Wuhan were showing up at hospitals with unidentified pneumonia cases, Fauci attended the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — National Institutes of Health (NIH) dinner and workshops on Dec. 19 and 20 — the sixth annual event for NIH staff and Gates Foundation executives. On the morning of Dec. 19, billionaire Bill Gates tweeted out his own hopes for the coming year and his now prescient prediction: “one of the best buys in global health: vaccines.” Today, we only know about these meetings, because our organization at OpenTheBooks.com, in partnership with the public-interest law firm Judicial Watch, sued the NIH in federal court.

NIH had refused to even acknowledge our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. So, for the first time, here is our exclusive release of Fauci’s official calendar. For a government bureaucrat, this sure was one tightly held calendar. The refusal by NIH to follow open records law was a strategy to delay transparency: NIH forced us into expensive taxpayer-paid litigation to slow-walk 156 pages of semi-redacted calendar production. Fauci’s calendar has 933 events during this five-month period — including 224 media interviews and 84 redacted events (only significant redactions that prevented analysis and understanding were counted, for example, phone number redactions were not included). It’s a document that NIH and Fauci didn’t want you to see … Why? What did Fauci know? And when did he know it?

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“..Tony made written response to questions to which he was required to provide verified answers under penalty of perjury but failed to sign them. They were instead signed by an underling.”

Fauci (et al) Fraud Finale? (El Gato)

The lawsuit Missouri et al vs about the whole of US public health is progressing in its exploration of the explicit and deliberate role of the us government and many of its agents including Fauci, Murthy, Biden, and Jankowicz (amidst a cast of dozens and several agencies) in the systematic shaping, suppression, and censorship of information regarding covid. As those quaint few who still believe in things like “the 1st amendment” may recall, this is a bit of a constitutional no no. The government is not allowed to dominate the press. This is a matter of sound and settled law. 2. A private entity violates the First Amendment “if the government coerces or induces it to take action the government itself would not be permitted to do, such as censor expression of a lawful viewpoint.” Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia Univ., 141 S. Ct. 1220, 1226 (2021) (Thomas, J., concurring). “The government cannot accomplish through threats of adverse government action what the Constitution prohibits it from doing directly.” Id.

These practice date back to well before covid and appear to have been a widespread program by which one political party stifled the views of the other, enhancing left leaning messaging and suppressing the right. It’s been part and parcel of a behavioral package dating back to at least the beginnings of the obama administration, the politicized weaponization of the IRS, the FBI, and who knows how much media right up through such hit singles’ as “the Hunter Laptop is misinformation but the Steele Dossier is real” and “questioning the 2016 election is patriotism but questioning 2020 is insurrection.” The fun part of this is perfectly encapsulated by this quote: “Missouri AG Eric Schmitt: “No one has had the chance to look under the hood before – now we do.”

But a funny thing happened on the way to discovery: Most of the subjects of the investigation have been steadfastly refusing to testify (a crime for which Bannon just got jail). The refusals, prevarications, and slights of hand have been wild. It’s been the entire teflon tony playbook. But it looks like the courts have has just about enough of this slippery behavior. in an exemplary act of evasiveness, Tony made written response to questions to which he was required to provide verified answers under penalty of perjury but failed to sign them. They were instead signed by an underling. This astonishing action serves as its own indictment and fits neatly into a longstanding pattern of lying to Congress and to the American people and it appears that judge doughty (huge win for nominative determinism on that one) is declaring an and to the shenanigans.Folks are going to get deposed under oath, penalty of perjury, and under threat of contempt.

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As well as Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, Mask Mandates. What justification is left by now?

EU Sets Out Commitment to “Legally Binding” Global Pandemic Treaty (DS)

The document emphatically reinforces the EU’s commitment to a new “legally binding” pandemic treaty with a “reinforced WHO at its centre” and commits over half a billion euros (equivalently, dollars and pounds) to making it happen.

“Lastly, the EU believes it is vitally important to build on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and to strengthen the global health architecture – with a reinforced WHO at its centre. The EU is determined to be a driving force in the negotiations on a new, legally binding, international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response and on targeted amendments to strengthen the International Health Regulations 2005. These complementary processes are a priority for the EU and provide a historic opportunity to find multilateral solutions to common challenges, based on the principles of collective solidarity, equity, fairness, inclusiveness and enhanced transparency. Moreover, the new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, to which Team Europe has already pledged at least €588 million, will provide funding to support pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, including the implementation of the amended International Health Regulations and the new international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.”

The document also trails a forthcoming “EU global health strategy” which “will provide the political framework with priorities, governance and tools, enabling the EU to speak with one influential voice and making the most of Team Europe’s capacity to protect and promote health globally”. This is a very disturbing document. For those of us who still hold to the evidence-based pandemic strategies of pre-2020, premised only on mitigating impacts by expanding emergency healthcare capacity and finding safe and effective treatments, and not imposing intrusive, harmful and unproven methods of trying to prevent the spread of a disease that is anyway harmless to most people, this bodes ill indeed for the current direction of travel in Europe and globally.

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“The proton is a quantum mechanical object that exists as a haze of probabilities..”

Inside the Proton, the ‘Most Complicated Thing You Could Possibly Imagine’ (QM)

More than a century after Ernest Rutherford discovered the positively charged particle at the heart of every atom, physicists are still struggling to fully understand the proton. High school physics teachers describe them as featureless balls with one unit each of positive electric charge — the perfect foils for the negatively charged electrons that buzz around them. College students learn that the ball is actually a bundle of three elementary particles called quarks. But decades of research have revealed a deeper truth, one that’s too bizarre to fully capture with words or images. “This is the most complicated thing that you could possibly imagine,” said Mike Williams, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “In fact, you can’t even imagine how complicated it is.”

The proton is a quantum mechanical object that exists as a haze of probabilities until an experiment forces it to take a concrete form. And its forms differ drastically depending on how researchers set up their experiment. Connecting the particle’s many faces has been the work of generations. “We’re kind of just starting to understand this system in a complete way,” said Richard Milner, a nuclear physicist at MIT. As the pursuit continues, the proton’s secrets keep tumbling out. Most recently, a monumental data analysis published in August found that the proton contains traces of particles called charm quarks that are heavier than the proton itself.

The proton “has been humbling to humans,” Williams said. “Every time you think you kind of have a handle on it, it throws you some curveballs.” Recently, Milner, together with Rolf Ent at Jefferson Lab, MIT filmmakers Chris Boebel and Joe McMaster, and animator James LaPlante, set out to transform a set of arcane plots that compile the results of hundreds of experiments into a series of animations of the shape-shifting proton. We’ve incorporated their animations into our own attempt to unveil its secrets.

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Dog dewormer

 

 

 

 

Centripetal force

 

 

 

 

Halloween

 

 

 

 

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Feb 202021
 
 February 20, 2021  Posted by at 4:49 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Head of a Woman 1946
Missing, stolen painting .. gifted to the National Gallery by Picasso in 1946 in recognition of Athens’s resistance to Nazi occupation; he inscribed on the back: “For the Greek people, a tribute from Picasso.”

 

 

Dr. D posted this as a short comment, not an article, and he’s welcome, encouraged even, to expand on it at a later date. But I think it’s important enough, and detailed enough, to in fact make it an article. We can take if from here. The blind drive towards EV’s is going to hurt, and we should prepare for that.

The idea, and the concept, that we can simply switch from one energy source to another and keep motoring and do all the other things we do, is nothing but a cheap and meaningless sales pitch. To produce 20 million Tesla’s would require 165% of the entire 2019 global lithium production, says this from mining.com:

 

 

That’s just Tesla, that doesn’t yet include the entire rest of the world’s car manufacturers who also claim they’ll go “green”. But then we’ll just raise the production of lithium! Well, there may be a problem with that…

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if “green” cars in the end prove to be more polluting than “dirty” cars?

 

 

Dr. D: More math, like garlic and holy water, keeps the riff raff away.

One solution to Texas’ problem is to have long-term storage that the grid refuses to buy and install. But you can! For only $10,000, 5-10x the cost of yesterday’s generator, you can own a brand new Tesla Powerwall. That maybe MIGHT not catch on fire like all their cars and solar panels have. With it, you can have 13kw of power, and that’s not joking: an American house uses 1kw a day, so that’s almost two weeks of power. For $10,000, and a little house fire.

There are 3M Texans without power, so say 1M households, not sure how they account it or how carefully. 1M Powerwalls, and their NOT drawing on the grid would help the rest of Texas households too! For only $10 BILLION dollars. (And a 10-year lifespan). Chicken feed these days.

Cool. He’s building a factory there, we’ll buy one today. You know, with that extra $10k most American families have hanging around.

But…then there’s math. At 200lbs/pc 1 Million Powerwalls would need 200 MILLION pounds of lithium or 100,000 tons. (90,718 Metric Tonnes)

 

Pic

 

Oh wait: that’s more Lithium than is mined in WHOLE CONTINENTS, like top producer Australia @ 42,000 tonnes. Next is Chile, 18,000 tonnes.

I detect a problem.

More problems follow. Lithium is both unbelievably reactive and unbelievably toxic. It catches on fire in water — not like there’s any “water” where humans live, and as lithium is a major ingredient in psychology drugs, causing mood leveling or even erasing emotions altogether, and doesn’t decay, even a small amount of escaped lithium is a big deal. That’s both in the Pecos and Red River, AND at the mining site, where it consumes tens of thousands of gallons in the world’s driest environments, like Bolivia.

The Environmental Impact of Lithium Batteries

“Lithium extraction harms the soil and causes air contamination. In Argentina’s Salar de Hombre Muerto, residents believe that lithium operations contaminated streams used by humans and livestock and for crop irrigation. In Chile, the landscape is marred by mountains of discarded salt and canals filled with contaminated water with an unnatural blue hue.

… In Australia, only two percent of the country’s 3,300 metric tons of lithium-ion waste is recycled.

… recovered cells are usually shredded, creating a mixture of metal that can then be separated using pyrometallurgical techniques—burning—which wastes a lot of the lithium.”

Two other key ingredients, cobalt and nickel, are more in danger of creating a bottleneck in the move towards electric vehicles, and at a potentially huge environmental cost. Cobalt is found in huge quantities right across the Democratic Republic of Congo and central Africa, and hardly anywhere else. The price has quadrupled in the last two years.

Unlike most metals, which are not toxic when they’re pulled from the ground as metal ores, cobalt is “uniquely terrible,” according to Gleb Yushin, chief technical officer and founder of battery materials company Sila Nanotechnologies.”

Not done yet, where one solution to one 7-day crisis takes more lithium than is mined? Then polluted? Then not recycled? Then as not recycled, permanently escapes into your water supply?

There’s still this: it takes 60kw to produce 1kw of lithium battery capacity. Now it’s reusable, so there are many, many cycles in a battery, but your 13 Million Kwh are going to need 78M Kwh to create, just for the battery side, or 78,000 megawatts.

Are you sure you wouldn’t rather – say it with me now:

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”? You know, by reducing, reusing, economizing, using less, and creating only things that last longer?

Nope. If I DON’T buy a Powerwall, who profits? No subsidy, no GDP, no sales tax, no Wall Street IPO. No 18 weeks’ work at $20/hr, tied up to Jamie Dimon and Uncle Sam to buy it.

Thoreau said he could walk to Boston on foot quicker than he could get the money to take the train there. Is chopping fallen wood and sitting on a rammed clay floor next to your small wood stove REALLY that bad? That’s 18 weeks you can stay home and read Cicero – from a real-to-god, paper book — with your children. Or not. Don’t, end up in the dark and curse: “I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” What do you think he’s going to do for you that you’re not doing for yourself?

 

 

See also:

The Spiralling Environmental Cost Of Our Lithium Battery Addiction

And

Bolivia: Where revolutionaries and lithium miners go to die

 

 

 

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Jan 122018
 


Do these people ever consider this perhaps helps Trump? The Man’s on Fire!

 

Bitcoin Steadies But Set For Worst Weekly Slide Since 2015 (BBG)
Cryptos Surge As South Korea Backs Away From Trading Ban (ZH)
South Korea Is Talking Down The Idea Of A Cryptocurrency Trading Ban (CNBC)
China’s Trade Surplus With The US Hit A Record High In 2017 (CNBC)
China Sets New Records for Gobbling Up the World’s Commodities (BBG)
Household Debt Boom Sows The Seeds For A Bust (CBR)
Markets Still Blow Off the Fed, Dudley Gets Nervous, Fires Warning Shot (WS)
We’re Going To See A Radically Changing World In 2018 – (Nomi Prins)
Why We Have to Talk About a Bubble (BBG)
Uber’s Secret Tool for Keeping the Cops in the Dark (BBG)
Monsanto Seeks To Cash In On The Organic Food Market (CP)
Electric Car Dreams Run Into Metal Crunch (BBG)
Greece Is Now Worse Off Than When It Defaulted For The First Time (ZH)

 

 

It’s a slide! It’s a surge! Depends who you ask, and what time of day. Ask again every half hour, or you may miss the big moves. Translation: bitcoin is far from ready for the big leagues. It’s about stability.

Bitcoin Steadies But Set For Worst Weekly Slide Since 2015 (BBG)

Bitcoin steadied Friday after four days of losses for the largest cryptocurrency amid increasing scrutiny from regulators around the world with concerns ranging from investor losses to strains on power systems. Bitcoin was little changed on the day, at $13,467 as of 1:27 p.m. Hong Kong time, reversing an earlier decline. It was down as much as 23% for the week at one point, on track for the deepest decrease since January 2015, according to Bloomberg composite pricing, and is now down about 20%. The token peaked in mid-December soon after the introduction of futures trading on regulated exchanges in Chicago. Among the blows to cryptocurrencies this week was the South Korean justice minister’s reiteration of a proposal to ban local cryptocurrency exchanges, though the comments were later downplayed by a spokesman for the president.

Meanwhile, bitcoin mining is set to become more expensive as China’s government cracks down on the industry, in part out of concerns about power use. In the U.S., scrutiny is set to increase amid concerns about the potential use of cryptocurrencies for fraudulent purposes such as money laundering. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo are set to testify to the Senate Banking Committee on risks tied to bitcoin and its counterparts, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The committee intends to hold a hearing in early February, the person said.

Read more …

The reaction scared the sh*t out of Seoul. But they still have to act, because bitcoin’s wide acceptance in the country means it’s a real danger to the whole economy.

Cryptos Surge As South Korea Backs Away From Trading Ban (ZH)

After what has seemed like a non-stop barrage of bad news for crypto bulls from South Korea, we noted some cracks in the foundation of the anti-cryptocurrency push as the ministry of finance refused to support the ministry of justice’s exchange shutdown bill. Tonight we get further clarification that the end of South Korean crypto trading is not nigh as Yonhap reports the various government ministries need more time and more consultations over the mininstry of justice’s plan to ban crypto-exchanges. “The issue of shutting down (cryptocurrency) exchanges, told by the justice minister yesterday, is a proposal by the justice ministry and it needs consultations among ministries,” Kim said.

Ministers reportedly seek a “soft-landing” considering the shock the measures may have on the market is an issue that can result in huge social, economic damage. Additionally Yonhap notes that even if pursued, shutdown of exchanges would take some time as it needs discussion at parliament (it would take months or even years for a bill to become a law). All of which can be roughly translated as – we have no idea of the impact of banning this stuff and just how much damage to the nation’s wealth could occur if we do… The result is a broad-based rally across the major cryptocurrencies… Tens of thousands of people filed an online petition, asking the presidential office to stop the clampdown against cryptocurrency trading. South Korea is home to one of the world’s biggest private bitcoin exchanges, with more than 2 million people estimated to own some of the best-known digital currency.

Read more …

Stand up comedian minister: “..a balanced perspective is necessary because blockchain technology has high relevance with many industries such as security and logistics.”

South Korea Is Talking Down The Idea Of A Cryptocurrency Trading Ban (CNBC)

South Korea’s finance minister on Friday said that relevant officials need to hold more consultations over the justice ministry’s plan to ban cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. “All government ministries agree on the need for a government response to an overheating in cryptocurrency speculation and for a degree of regulation,” Minister Kim Dong-yeon told reporters, according to news agency Yonhap. “The issue of banning exchanges that the justice minister talked about yesterday is a proposal by the Justice Ministry and it needs more coordination among ministries,” Kim added. He also said that discussion was under way on how the government could reasonably regulate cryptocurrency trading that’s overheating with irrational and speculative behavior, Yonhap reported.

Kim said “a balanced perspective is necessary because blockchain technology has high relevance with many industries such as security and logistics.” Kim’s comments followed news that the country’s justice ministry appeared to have softened its stance after remarks from its chief on Thursday saw billions wiped off the global cryptocurrency market. The justice ministry explained, according to Yonhap, that the ban was not a done deal in a text message to reporters on Thursday. “The ministry has been preparing a special law to shut down all cryptocurrency exchanges, but we will push for it after careful consideration with related government agencies,” the justice ministry said.

[..] “Justice Minister Park Sang-ki’s remarks regarding the shutdown of cryptocurrency exchanges is one of the measures that have been prepared by the Justice Ministry, but it is not a finalized decision and will be finalized through discussion and a coordination process with each government ministry,” the chief press secretary to President Moon Jae-in said in a statement reported by Yonhap. Even if a bill aiming to ban all cryptocurrency trading is drafted, it will require a majority vote in the country’s National Assembly before it can be enacted into law. That process could take months — or even years.

Read more …

This must worry Xi. China sets itself up for a strong reaction. And then? Withdraw back into its own cocoon? Not an option for an export-dependent economy. The shift to domestic consumption has so far failed miserably.

China’s Trade Surplus With The US Hit A Record High In 2017 (CNBC)

China’s 2017 trade surplus with the U.S. was $275.81 billion, the country’s customs data showed Friday, according to Reuters. By that data, last year’s surplus is a record high, the wire service reported. For comparison, the previous record was a surplus of $260.8 billion in 2015. The world’s second-largest economy had a surplus of $25.55 billion in December, data showed, compared to $27.87 billion in November. Trade with China is politically sensitive as the world’s second-largest economy runs surpluses against many of its trading partners. President Donald Trump has repeatedly signaled tougher action on what he calls unfair practices that have lead to a massive trade deficit with China. Overall, China’s trade balance for 2017 was a surplus of $422.5 billion

Read more …

Stocking up on oil and gas instead of Treasuries, just in case Trump launches a trade war.

China Sets New Records for Gobbling Up the World’s Commodities (BBG)

China continues to gobble up the world’s commodities, setting new records for consumption of everything from crude oil to soybeans. In a year of flux marked by industrial capacity cuts, environmental curbs and financial deleveraging, demand for raw materials has continued to grow in the world’s biggest consumer, helping drive a second annual gain in global commodity returns. As President Xi Jinping consolidates power behind an economy that may have posted its first full-year acceleration since 2010, there are few signs of the Chinese commodity juggernaut slowing as it rolls into 2018. “China’s economic expansion has been beating expectations since the second half of last year, boosting demand for all kinds of commodities,” Guo Chaohui at China International Capital, said by phone. “We are expecting continued strength in economic growth in 2018 which will keep up the nation’s import appetite.”

Inbound shipments from across the globe – Russia to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – jumped about 10% to average 8.43 million barrels a day in 2017, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed on Friday. The unprecedented purchases may be bettered in 2018, if import quotas granted by the government to China’s independent refiners are a signal. The first batch of allocations was 75% higher than for 2017. The world’s second-biggest economy is also realizing that the key to winning its war on smog may lie overseas. Record amounts of less-polluting grades of iron ore – typically not available within China – are being pulled in to feed the nation’s mammoth steel industry, with imports rising 5% to 1.07 billion metric tons in 2017.

Purchases of less-polluting ore is only one tactic in China’s war against pollution. Another is curbing coal use and encouraging the use of cleaner natural gas instead. Imports of the fuel via both sea and pipeline surged almost 27% to 68.57 million tons in 2017.

Read more …

Coherent.

Household Debt Boom Sows The Seeds For A Bust (CBR)

What causes the ebbs and flows of the business cycle? In the first of two videos, Chicago Booth’s Amir Sufi argues that one key factor is the financial sector and its willingness to lend. As credit becomes more and more available, the economy booms—but when household debt becomes unsustainable, it sows the seeds for a bust.

Read more …

Financial stress at a record low. There’s no stronger stress indicator.

Markets Still Blow Off the Fed, Dudley Gets Nervous, Fires Warning Shot (WS)

“So, what am I worried about?” New York Fed President William Dudley, who is considered a dove, asked rhetorically during a speech on Thursday at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association in New York City. “Two macroeconomic concerns warrant mention,” he continued. And they are: One: “The risk of economic overheating.” He went through some of the mixed data points, including “low” inflation, “an economy that is growing at an above-trend pace,” a labor market that is “already quite tight,” and the “extra boost in 2018 and 2019 from the recently enacted tax legislation.” Two: The markets are blowing off the Fed. He didn’t use those words. He used Fed-speak: “Even though the FOMC has raised its target range for the federal funds rate by 125 basis points over the past two years, financial conditions today are easier than when we started to remove monetary policy accommodation.”

When the Fed raises rates, its explicit intention is to tighten “financial conditions,” meaning that borrowing gets a little harder and more costly at all levels, that investors and banks become more risk-averse and circumspect, and that borrowers become more prudent or at least less reckless – in other words, that the credit bonanza cools off and gets back to some sort of normal. To get there, the Fed wants to see declining bond prices and therefor rising yields, cooling equities, rising risk premiums, widening yield spreads, and the like. These together make up the “financial conditions.” There are various methods to measure whether “financial conditions” are getting “easier” or tighter. Among them is the weekly St. Louis Fed Financial Stress Index, whose latest results were published on Thursday.

The Financial Stress Index had dropped to a historic low of -1.6 on November 3, meaning that financial stress in the markets had never been this low in the data series going back to 1994. Things were really loosey-goosey. On Thursday, the index came in at -1.57, barely above the record low, despite another rate hike and the Fed’s “balance-sheet normalization. And this rock-bottom financial stress in the markets is occurring even as short-term interest rates have rocketed higher in response to the Fed’s rate hikes, with the two-year Treasury yield on Thursday closing at 1.96% for the third day in a row, the highest since September 2008.

Read more …

Nomi doesn’t really clarify what is radical about events.

We’re Going To See A Radically Changing World In 2018 – (Nomi Prins)

In last year’s roadmap, I forecast that 2017 would end with gold prices up and the dollar index down, both of which happened. I underestimated the number of Fed hikes by one hike, but globally, average short term rates have remained around zero. That will be a core pattern throughout 2018. Central banks may tweak a few rates here and there, announce some tapering due to “economic growth”, or deflect attention to fiscal policy, but the entire financial and capital markets system rests on the strategies, co-dependencies and cheap money policies of central banks. The bond markets will feel the heat of any tightening shift or fears of one, while the stock market will continue to rush ahead on the reality of cheap money supply until debt problems tug at the equity markets and take them down.

Central bankers are well aware of this. They have no exit plan for their decade of collusion. But a weak hope that it’ll all work out. They have no dedicated agenda to remove themselves from their money supplier role, nor any desire to do so. Truth be told, they couldn’t map out an exit route from cheap money even if they wanted to. The total books of global central banks (that hold the spoils of QE) have ballooned by $2 Trillion in assets (read: debt) over 2017. That brings the amount of global central banks holdings to more than $21.7 trillion in assets. And growing. Teasers about tapering have been released into the atmosphere, but numbers don’t lie.

That’s a hefty cushion for international speculation. Every bond a central bank buys or holds, gets a price-lift. Trillions of dollars of such buys have artificially lifted all bond prices, and stocks because of the secondary-lift effect and rapacious search for self-perpetuating returns. Financial bubbles pervade the world. Central bank leaders may wax hawkish –manifested in strong words but tepid actions. Yet, overall, policies will remain consistent with those of the past decade to combat this looming crisis. US nationalistic trade policies will push other nations to embrace agreements with each other that exclude the US and shun the US dollar.

Read more …

Jean-Michel Paul, founder and Chief Executive of Acheron Capital in London, says: “..one that has received too little attention up to now is the prospect that we are heading toward a growing asset bubble that will result in a pronounced crash.. “. Well, not in my circles, which talk ONLY about that.

Why We Have to Talk About a Bubble (BBG)

Back in November, former Fed chief Janet Yellen described the current low level of inflation as a “mystery.” Despite a small pickup in prices, Europe has the same mystery to solve: Economic confidence in the euro area is at its highest point for a decade, according to the European Commission’s measure, released this week. But there’s no sign of the inflation that you’d normally expect with that kind of economic upsurge. The ECB minutes from December, released Thursday, show some in the ECB are similarly baffled by what they call a “disconnect” between the real economy and prices. With QE having multiplied the amount of fiat money issued by central banks in just a few years, it’s fair to wonder: How come it didn’t trigger much higher levels of inflation than what we now see?

The technical answer is that the money created has ended up full circle – on the books of the central banks. The more fundamental answer is that QE resulted in a wealth increase for the richest, who consume relatively little of their revenue, while the middle class and the neediest largely failed to reap any benefit. Having not gained from QE, their consumption has not risen, leaving prices pretty much flat. There are many problems with this, from growing inequality to pressures on social cohesion. But one that has received too little attention up to now is the prospect that we are heading toward a growing asset bubble that will result in a pronounced crash, as Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of the investment firm GMO, argued in a note last week. He predicts a “melt-up” – where investors pile into assets as prices rise – followed by a significant decline “of some 50%.”

[..] central bankers are still using inflation as a measure to gauge how much more QE they should proceed with. The ECB has repeatedly justified QE expansion because its goal of 2 percent consumer inflation remains unmet. [..] British journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, commenting on the Grantham thesis recently in the Daily Telegraph, put the challenge now in the starkest possible terms, as a threat not simply to the recovery but to democracy: “The central banks themselves entered into a Faustian Pact from the mid-Nineties onwards, falsely thinking it safe to drive real interest rates ever lower with each cycle, until they became ensnared in what the Bank for International Settlements calls a policy “debt trap”. This has gone on so long, and pushed debt ratios so high, that the system is now inherently fragile. The incentive to let bubbles run their course has become ever greater.”

Read more …

Can’t decide if this is hard to believe, or entirely normal by now.

Uber’s Secret Tool for Keeping the Cops in the Dark (BBG)

In May 2015 about 10 investigators for the Quebec tax authority burst into Uber Technologies Inc.’s office in Montreal. The authorities believed Uber had violated tax laws and had a warrant to collect evidence. Managers on-site knew what to do, say people with knowledge of the event. Like managers at Uber’s hundreds of offices abroad, they’d been trained to page a number that alerted specially trained staff at company headquarters in San Francisco. When the call came in, staffers quickly remotely logged off every computer in the Montreal office, making it practically impossible for the authorities to retrieve the company records they’d obtained a warrant to collect. The investigators left without any evidence.

Most tech companies don’t expect police to regularly raid their offices, but Uber isn’t most companies. The ride-hailing startup’s reputation for flouting local labor laws and taxi rules has made it a favorite target for law enforcement agencies around the world. That’s where this remote system, called Ripley, comes in. From spring 2015 until late 2016, Uber routinely used Ripley to thwart police raids in foreign countries, say three people with knowledge of the system. Allusions to its nature can be found in a smattering of court filings, but its details, scope, and origin haven’t been previously reported. The Uber HQ team overseeing Ripley could remotely change passwords and otherwise lock up data on company-owned smartphones, laptops, and desktops as well as shut down the devices.

This routine was initially called the unexpected visitor protocol. Employees aware of its existence eventually took to calling it Ripley, after Sigourney Weaver’s flamethrower-wielding hero in the Alien movies. The nickname was inspired by a Ripley line in Aliens, after the acid-blooded extraterrestrials easily best a squad of ground troops. “Nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.” [..] Uber deployed Ripley routinely as recently as late 2016, including during government raids in Amsterdam, Brussels, Hong Kong, and Paris, say the people with knowledge of the matter. The tool was developed in coordination with Uber’s security and legal departments, the people say. The heads of both departments, Joe Sullivan and Salle Yoo, left the company last year.

Read more …

Monsanto wants a monopoly on all the world’s food. If you don’t stop them now, it’ll soon be too late.

Monsanto Seeks To Cash In On The Organic Food Market (CP)

At the recent Codex meeting in Berlin, there was an attempt to define genetically engineered (GE) food ingredients as ‘biofortified’ and therefore mislead consumers. This contravened the original Codex mandate for defining biofortification. That definition is based on improving the nutritional quality of food crops through conventional plant breeding (not genetic engineering) with the aim of making the nutrients bioavailable after digestion. The attempt was thwarted thanks to various interventions, not least by the National Health Federation (NHF), a prominent health-freedom international non-governmental organization and the only health-freedom INGO represented at Codex. But the battle is far from over.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission’s Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) convened in Berlin during early December and drafts provisions on nutritional aspects for all foods. It also develops international guidelines and standards for foods for special dietary uses that will be used to facilitate standardized world trade. Based upon previous meetings, the initial intention of the Committee was to craft a definition for biofortification that could then be used uniformly around the World. Biofortification originally referred to increasing certain vitamin and mineral content of basic food crops by way of cross-breeding, not genetic engineering, for example by increasing the vitamin or iron content of sweet potatoes so that malnourished populations would receive better nutrition.

However, according to president of the NHF, Scott Tips, Monsanto wants to redefine the definition to include GE ‘biofortified’ foods and it has seemingly influenced Codex delegates in that direction. Tips says, “I am sure that Monsanto would be thrilled to be able to market its synthetic products under a name that began with the word ‘bio’.” [..] Including GE foods within any definition of biofortification risks consumer confusion as to whether they are purchasing organic products or something else entirely. “Monsanto seeks to cash in on the organic market with the loaded word ‘bio’,” argues Scott Tips. At the Codex meeting in Berlin, Tips addressed the 300 delegates in the room. “Although NHF was an early supporter of biofortification, we have since come to see that the concept is in the process of being hijacked and converted from something good into something bad,” explained Tips.

Read more …

Luckily the CIA is still dividing the people in the Congo. And making money selling all sides weapons.

Electric Car Dreams Run Into Metal Crunch (BBG)

When BMW revealed it was designing electric versions of its X3 SUV and Mini, the going rate for 21 kilograms of cobalt—the amount of the metal needed to power typical car batteries—was under $600. Only 16 months later, the price tag is approaching $1,700 and climbing by the day. For carmakers vying to fill their fleets with electric vehicles, the spike has been a rude awakening as to how much their success is riding on the scarce silvery-blue mineral found predominantly in one of the world’s most corrupt and underdeveloped countries. “It’s gotten more hectic over the past year,” said Markus Duesmann, BMW’s head of procurement, who’s responsible for securing raw materials used in lithium-ion batteries, such as cobalt, manganese and nickel. “We need to keep a close eye, especially on lithium and cobalt, because of the danger of supply scarcity.”

[..] Complicating the process is the fact that the cobalt trail inevitably leads to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where corruption is entrenched in everyday business practices. The U.S. last month slapped sanctions on Glencore’s long-time partner in Congo, Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, saying he used his close ties to Congolese President Joseph Kabila to secure mining deals. There’s also another ethical obstacle to negotiate. The African nation produces more than 60 percent of the world’s cobalt, a fifth of which is drawn out by artisanal miners who work with their hands — some of whom are children. The country is also planning to double its tax on the metal.

“There just isn’t enough cobalt to go around,” said George Heppel, a consultant at CRU. “The auto companies that’ll be the most successful in maintaining long-term stability in terms of raw materials will be the ones that purchase the cobalt and then supply that to their battery manufacturer.” To adjust to the new reality, some carmakers are recruiting geologists to learn more about the minerals that may someday be as important to transport as oil is now. Tesla Inc. just hired an engineer who supervised a nickel-cobalt refinery in New Caledonia for Vale to help with procurement. But after decades of dictating terms with suppliers of traditional engine parts, the industry is proving ill-prepared to confront what billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland dubbed “the revenge of the miner.”

Read more …

Never use Greece and Recovery in one sentence together. Because you’d be spouting nonsense.

Greece Is Now Worse Off Than When It Defaulted For The First Time (ZH)

According to the market, the situation in Greece has staged a tremendous recovery. So much so, in fact, that Greek 2Y bonds are now trading inside US 2Y Treasurys. Yes, according to the market, Greece is now a safer credit than the US. And yet, a quick peek inside the actual Greek economy, reveals that nothing has been fixed. In fact, one can argue that things are now worse than they were when Greece defaulted (for the first time), According to statistics from IAPR, unpaid taxes in Greece currently make up more than 55% of the country’s GDP due to – well – the inability of people to pay the rising taxes. Overdue debt to the state has reached nearly €100 billion with only €15 billion possible to be returned to the government’s coffers, as most are due to bankrupt businesses and deceased individuals.

The Greek tax authorities seized pensions, salaries, and assets of more than 180,000 taxpayers in 2017, meanwhile bad debt to the state treasury continue to grow. The Independent Authority for Public Revenue confiscated nearly €4 billion in the first 10 months of this year with forced measures to be reportedly taken against 1.7 million defaulters in 2018. Bad debt owed to the state in Greece has been growing at €1 billion a month since 2014, and nearly 4.17 million taxpayers currently owe money to the country, which means that every second Greek is directly indebted. Demonstrating the full extent of the economic mess, a recent report from Kathimerini revealed that Greek lenders are proposing huge haircuts, as high as 90%, for borrowers with debts from consumer loans, credit cards or small business loans without collateral.

In the context of the sale of a 2.5-billion-euro bad-loan portfolio named Venus, Alpha Bank is using the incentive of major haircuts in letters it has sent to some 156,000 debtors. The fact that this concerns some 240,000 bad loans means that some debtors may have two or three overdue loans. Another major local lender, Eurobank, is employing the same strategy for a set of loans adding up to 350 million euros. Most of them range between 5,000 and 7,000 euros each and have been overdue for over a decade. Yes, most Greek are unable to repay a few thousands euros and would rather default. This means that the banks are expecting to collect a small amount of those debts, coming to 250 million euros for Alpha and 35 million for Eurobank – whopping 90% haircuts – accepting that the rest of the debt is uncollectible.

Read more …