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[l] at 5/21/24 3:00pm
'Deadly Force' An Option: New Docs Show FBI Agents Were Prepared For Secret Service Resistance At Mar-a-Lago Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times, FBI agents executing a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s home in 2022 prepared for the possibility U.S. Secret Service agents resisted the agents, according to newly unsealed court documents. An operations plan for the raid of Mar-a-Lago in southern Florida stated that should President Trump arrive at Mar-a-Lago during the period when agents were there, FBI agents would be prepared to “engage with” him and U.S. Secret Service (USSS) agents who protect him. If the Secret Service agents “provide resistance or interfere with FBI timeline or accesses,” then FBI officials would contact certain individuals—their names and positions were redacted—the documents stated. The documents also stated that if Mar-a-Lago employees refused to provide a list of occupied guest rooms, FBI agents would “knock on each guest room door to determine occupation status.” Agents would request a map, list of rooms, and a skeleton key for all rooms, and were preparing to bring lock-picking equipment with them. The documents, produced to President Trump through discovery in the criminal case against him, were placed on the docket on May 21. President Trump’s lawyers attached the documents as exhibits to a motion asking to suppress evidence seized by agents, arguing the raid was unconstitutional. The warrant was cleared by a U.S. magistrate judge after agents said there was probable cause to believe sensitive materials were being kept at unauthorized places at the resort. Officials said the raid would likely uncover evidence of obstruction of justice. Agents arrived at Mar-a-Lago at 8:59 a.m. on Aug. 8, 2022, and initiated the search at 10:33 a.m.. A summary of what transpired stated that FBI leaders coordinated with local Secret Service leaders and that Secret Service agents “facilitated entry onto the premises, provided escort and access to various locations within, and posted USSS personnel in locations where the FBI team conducted searches.” In addition to 25 FBI employees from the bureau’s Miami office, the group of DOJ personnel included five officials from Washington and two DOJ lawyers. The group took numerous photographs, including pictures in the bedroom of former First Lady Melania Trump and a “child’s bedroom suite,” according to picture logs that were released on Tuesday. President Trump’s lawyers said in the motion that the search was “roving and highly inappropriate,” citing how it covered a gym, a kitchen, and the bedrooms where the pictures were taken. They said the warrant was too broad and authorized agents to seize virtually any document from Mar-a-Lago. Government officials have acknowledged they improperly seized passports and some other materials. Agents remained on the scene until 6:39 p.m. They flew the seized evidence to Washington the following day. President Trump after the execution of the warrant was charged with mishandling of national defense information, concealing documents, and making false statements. Deadly Force an Option The documents included a statement on the use of deadly force, which quoted government policy in stating that “law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice (DOJ) may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.” Biden ordered the hit on Trump at Mar-a-Lago. pic.twitter.com/amyUysoNKU — Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) May 21, 2024 The FBI also brought a medic and paramedic along on the raid, according to the documents, and listed the nearest trauma center in case anyone was injured during the execution of the warrant. Agents were equipped with standard issue weapons, ammunition, handcuffs, and badges, and brought medium and large bolt cutters. There was no basis for the FBI to bring guns into Mar-a-Lago, according to President Trump’s lawyers. “There were no threats and no risk to agents’ safety arising from their allegations relating to possession of documents at a premises already guarded by the Secret Service,” the lawyers said. The lawyers also argued that an FBI agent omitted relevant information from the affidavit submitted to the judge as part of the request to authorize the warrant. The agent, for instance, “failed to disclose that presidents are not required to obtain clearances and that sensitive briefings including classified information had been provided to President Trump at Mar-a-Lago and other residences before and during his presidency,” the lawyers said. In a DOJ filing in response to the motion, government attorneys countered the arguments. “Regardless of Trump’s authority during his presidency, he lacked authority to possess classified documents at Mar-a-Lago after it ended and he became a private citizen. Trump’s authority to access or possess classified documents during his presidency was both obvious and immaterial to the probable cause determination regarding the retention of the documents after his presidency,” they wrote in part. The attorneys also said that while some FBI officials did suggest seeking the consent of former President Trump to search Mar-a-Lago before seeking a warrant, his “prior obfuscation and deception up to that point” meant there was “ample reason to avoid seeking Trump’s consent, which would simply invite more deception.” Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 17:00
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[l] at 5/21/24 2:40pm
WTI Extends Losses After API Reports Unexpected Crude Build Oil (and gasoline) prices were lower today (WTI sliding back near two-month lows) as the Biden administration said Tuesday it is releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from a Northeast reserve established after Superstorm Sandy in a bid to lower prices at the pump this summer. However, the main driver for oil prices right now is "worry about the economy, and the potential that [interest] rates will remain elevated," Michael Lynch, president at Strategic Energy & Economic Research (SEER), told MarketWatch. Additionally, the market appears to have quickly shrugged off the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Will a third weekly crude draw in a row be enough to re-energize prices ahead of OPEC+'s meetings, where members will "almost certainly roll over" its current quotas when it meets on June 1, "keeping a floor on prices for now," according to SEER's Lynch. API Crude +2.49mm (-3.1mm exp) Cushing +1.77mm Gasoline +2.09mm Distillates -320k Crude and Gasoline stock piles grew last week (more than expected) along with inventories at the Cushing hub while Distillates saw a small draw... Source: Bloomberg WTI was trading around $78.60 ahead of the API print and slipped lower after... Finally, we note that pump prices are at their second most expensive in a decade ahead of the Memorial Day holiday... Source: Bloomberg “As an analyst, this reserve never really made a whole lot of sense to have,'' De Haan said in an Associated Press interview. The reserve is very small and must be frequently rotated, “because gasoline has a shelf life,'' De Haan said. “That's why there’s really no nation that has an emergency stockpile of gasoline'' other than the U.S. Patrick De Haan, an analyst for GasBuddy, said sale of the Northeast reserve would have little impact on gasoline prices nationally, although there “may be a slight downward pressure on prices” in the Northeast. The million-barrel reserve only amounts to about 2.7 hours of total U.S. gasoline consumption, he said. Finally, Bloomberg notes that for several weeks, oil traders have been confident that OPEC+ will choose to extend supply curbs when the group gathers next month. The latest trend in crude time-spreads probably removes any trace of a doubt. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 16:40
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[l] at 5/21/24 2:20pm
Jack Smith's Appointment Violated The Constitution, Some Legal Experts Argue Authored by Catherine Yang via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Days before Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed special counsel Jack Smith to investigate former President Donald Trump, experts who had been following the Justice Department investigations questioned its necessity. Mr. Smith was appointed on Nov. 18, 2022. (Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock, Getty Images) Would the appointment of an “independent” lead prosecutor undermine the Justice Department’s own appearance of independence from politics? Would the newly appointed prosecutor slow the case down? Those concerns have now materialized, though not for the predicted reasons. On June 22, U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon will hear arguments on a motion to dismiss the classified documents case against President Trump based on the unlawful appointment of the special counsel. Experts who advanced this legal theory have told The Epoch Times they plan to participate as amici curiae, or friends of the court. What Are Special Counsels For? Attorneys general have been hiring special counsels since before the Justice Department was established in 1870, via a statute that specifically set guardrails on the hiring and payment of outside attorneys as special counsel. A century later, Congress decided, with the Watergate scandal, there was a need for a truly independent prosecutor to investigate senior executive branch personnel, including the president. In 1978 Congress passed an ethics bill that created the Office of Independent Counsel. While controversial, the law was reformed and reauthorized more than once before Congress let it expire in 1999. Just before it expired, the Justice Department under Attorney General Janet Reno created its own set of regulations for appointing a special counsel. The department determined that attorneys general may appoint a special counsel if a case “would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances,” instructing the attorney general to then select someone from “outside the United States Government.” These past few years, the Justice Department has found plenty of “extraordinary circumstances.” In 2017, acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. In 2020, Attorney General William Barr appointed special counsel John Durham to investigate whether federal personnel violated the law in investigating the 2016 presidential. In 2022, Mr. Smith was appointed to investigate matters related to President Trump. In 2023, special counsel Robert Hur was appointed to investigate the possible unauthorized removal of classified records at properties of President Joe Biden, and special counsel David Weiss was appointed to take on the ongoing investigation into first son Hunter Biden. Media tents and television satellite trucks are set up outside the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. District Courthouse in Washington on July 27, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) Experts Weigh In When President Trump appealed his presidential immunity defense to the Supreme Court, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III was quick to submit an amicus brief arguing that before the case could proceed, the high court should settle the matter of whether a private citizen can lawfully be given the authority to impanel a grand jury, investigate, and prosecute a former president. Mr. Meese, arguing together with constitutional law scholars and professors Steven Calabresi and Gary Lawson, holds the position that Mr. Garland had no authority to grant Mr. Smith such “extraordinary criminal law enforcement power,” as attorneys general lost that power in 1999. Mr. Meese, incidentally, was himself investigated by an independent counsel when the law was still in effect. The professors are experts in this niche matter, and in 2019 authored a paper arguing that the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller was unlawful for the same reasons. The Appointments Clause of the Constitution states that the president has the authority to appoint a number of officers that courts have come to deem “principal” or “superior” officers, whose appointments have to be established by Congress through law, and have their appointments confirmed by the Senate. It also states that Congress can, through law, allow department heads to appoint “inferior” officers. The amici argue Mr. Smith wields the power of a “principal or superior officer” without being appointed through the lawful process as required under the Appointments Clause. The correct avenue would have been to appoint a currently serving U.S. Attorney as special counsel, or to appoint an outside special counsel that serves under a U.S. Attorney, Mr. Meese, Mr. Calabresi, and Mr. Lawson argue. “Smith is the classic ‘emperor with no clothes,’” their Supreme Court brief reads. Attorneys for President Trump in a second case picked up on this argument, filing a motion in the Southern District of Florida. They argued that Mr. Smith’s appointment violated the Appointments Clause, and there is no permanent funding allocated to a special counsel office, therefore the indictment should be dismissed. Mr. Meese, Mr. Calabresi, and Mr. Lawson filed another amicus brief in support of the motion in this case, as did other experts. Former Attorney General Edwin Meese (R) delivers remarks after being awarded the National Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump during a ceremony with his's wife Ursula Herrick and other family members in the Oval Office at the White House on Oct. 8, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) In a separate amicus brief, professor Seth Barrett Tillman argued that not only is Mr. Smith not a principal or inferior officer, but he is right now really an “employee” of the Justice Department. Mr. Tillman has written extensively on related issues, and argued that Supreme Court precedent shows that to be an officer of the United States requires that the position has permanency. In a 1867 case, United States v. Hartwell, the Supreme Court defined the difference between a contract employee and officer. Justice Noah Swayne wrote that an office “embraces the ideas of tenure, duration, emolument, and duties.” Read more here... Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 16:20
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[l] at 5/21/24 2:00pm
Stocks Inch Higher As Fearless Vol-Sellers Continue To Push Ahead Of NVDA/FOMC Mins It's quiet... too quiet... Small Caps lagged on the day but the rest of the majors struggled to gain any momentum as long gamma and low vol compressed the ranges. Some early hawkish (though nothing new) remarks from Fed's Waller ("...in the absence of a significant weakening in the labor market, I need to see several more months of good inflation data before I would be comfortable supporting an easing in the stance of monetary policy...") sparked a little risk-off but as soon as cash markets opened, BTFDers resumed their game - but could not push ahead of unch. A late lift flattered an otherwise 'meh' day... As Goldman's Chris Hussey notes, a peak under the surface of the S&P 500 reveals a somewhat defensive tilt with Pharma, Staples and Utilities outperforming, and Consumer Discretionary, Semis, Transport and Builders lagging the index. Consumer discretionary is particularly underperforming, being dragged down by negative reactions to earnings from AZO and LOW. Source: Bloomberg Anemic implied vols persist - despite the event risk catalysts this week - with VIX pushing a 11 handle... Source: Bloomberg ...and bond vol also compressed... Source: Bloomberg We note there is some anxiety on the very short-end... but still a 13 handle is not exactly 'risk averse'... Source: Bloomberg The risk, as SpotGamma explained earlier, in these very low IV's, are the very low IV's themselves. If traders are pricing in 30bps of movement for a given trading day, any move that pushes the market past 30bps (up or down) could lead to a short vol cover and a jumpy stock move. This suggests to us that while you maybe can't find a reason to buy short dated SPX options, shorting them at these IV levels seems like a poor risk-reward (we're looking at you 0DTE traders!). On that note we think that a cleaner way here for basic "short vol" trades may be owning puts/short call spreads in VXX/UVXY or long SVXY calls/short put spreads. This is because you catch some of the roll decay, and you don't have the strike-risk in 0DTE. 0DTE vols are extremely low but we would expect a jump (as we saw around last week's CPI)... Source: Bloomberg Treasury yields slipped lower today, erasing most of yesterday's spike higher with the short-end lagging (2Y -2bps, 30Y -4bps)... Source: Bloomberg The dollar pushed higher again, erasing Friday's losses... Source: Bloomberg Bitcoin slipped back from its overnight surge back up near $72,000 to end basically flat on the day... Source: Bloomberg ...which follows the sixth day on net inflows to BTC ETFs (and fourth day of inflows in a row to GBTC)... Source: Bloomberg Ethereum outperformed once again as ETH ETF hopes continued to build amid an apparent about-face from the Biden admin's anti-crypto army... Source: Bloomberg For context, ETH is now at its strongest relative to BTC since mid-March.. Source: Bloomberg Gold chopped around and ended flat today... Source: Bloomberg Silver continues to outperform gold, now at its strongest relative to the yellow metal since Dec 2022... Source: Bloomberg Finally, wholesale gasoline prices fell today after the Biden admin announced a release of its strategic gas reserve (not for political reasons of course)... Source: Bloomberg Which is noteworthy because gas prices going into Memorial Day are at their second most expensive in a decade... Source: Bloomberg ...and as we noted earlier, Biden is behind Trump bigly... Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 16:00
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[l] at 5/21/24 1:45pm
EPA's Clean Power Plan Rule Prioritizes Net-Zero Over Grid Reliability Authored by Gabriella Hoffman & Christian Palich via RealClearEnergy, Coal and natural gas plants provide 60% of the U.S.’ affordable, reliable, and baseload power. In a time of increased electricity demand, America needs to double down on harnessing these sources—not abandon them. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s recently finalized Clean Power Plan 2.0 (CPP) rule, however, takes the country in the wrong direction. Under this regulation, one that is arguably illegal, existing coal and new natural gas power plants will be mandated to install emissions control technologies that aren’t yet commercially viable. Plants that don’t comply risk permanent closure. This unrealistic mandate is advanced under the guise of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 90% by 2032. The Biden administration should nix this rule altogether given its many drawbacks to the American economy, all of which come with no environmental gain and are based on dubious authority. If it doesn’t reverse course, a forthcoming Congressional resolution of disapproval and newly-filed lawsuits could stop overreach here. The EPA’s limited authority over-regulating greenhouse gas emissions was affirmed in the landmark June 2022 West Virginia vs. EPA decision. That case challenged the original Obama-era Clean Power Plan, and the Supreme Court ruled the EPA lacked the statutory authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. No change has been made to grant the EPA more authority over greenhouse gasses. Moreover, the Clean Air Act says the EPA must craft achievable emission limitations standards that have been “adequately demonstrated.” Yet, the Carbon Capture technology that would be relied upon under this rule has never been “adequately demonstrated” on the scale that EPA is attempting to require. The EPA rule would lead to grid instability because operators will be forced to adopt intermittent, unreliable, and costly sources like wind and solar. According to the Department of Energy, wind is only reliable 33.5% of the year while solar is dependable for just 24.9% of the time. Wind energy generation decreased for the first time last year. The federal government reports wind generation hit maturity with slower recorded wind speeds, despite adding 6.2 gigawatts of new wind capacity. Solar energy also had a bad 2023 with over 100 companies going bankrupt and expensive electricity rates. Many planned solar plants, including those receiving Inflation Reduction Act subsidies, are predicted to be canceled this year due to price collapse and waning demand. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) warned in its December 2023 Long-Term Assessment report that rigid policies like CPP 2.0 “have the potential to influence generators” to close down their plants. The risk of massive electric reliability issues across the country is by no means a political talking point. In 2023, FERC Commissioner Danly stated in a hearing to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that “there is a looming reliability crisis in our electricity markets.” In that same hearing, Commissioner Christie said “The United States is heading for a very catastrophic situation in terms of reliability.” These are the experts sounding the alarm that we need more grid capacity from baseload sources, not intermittent ones, or we could face not just loss of commerce but a loss of human life. CPP 2.0 promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2032 by mandating coal and natural gas plants install carbon capture and storage (CCS) or face closure. But the EPA is downplaying the nascent technology’s shortcomings. CCS, as it stands, is expensive and will diminish coal and natural gas plant efficiency by at least 14%. Moreover, natural gas and coal plants retrofitted with first-generation carbon capture technology reportedly can expect a 50% and 70 to 80% increase in electricity costs, respectively. In the U.S., we already have highly effective emissions technology that enables coal plants to run in an incredibly environmental way. For example, just look at how states that rely heavily on coal have almost none of the air quality issues of China or India. That’s because of our emissions control technologies. Let’s call this rule out for what it really is: It’s a vehicle to punish coal country which has left the president’s party in droves over the last 20 years, in favor of radical environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) donors who are a major constituency of this administration. The finalized Clean Power Plan 2.0 rule is a bad deal for American energy producers and consumers. Congress should immediately pull the plug on this rule. Gabriella Hoffman is director of Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Energy and Conservation (iwf.org/CEC) and host of the District of Conservation podcast. Christian Palich is Vice President of Government & External Affairs at Eagle Forge Services Company, one of the nation’s largest coal producers and a board advisory member for IWF’s Center for Energy and Conservation. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 15:45
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[l] at 5/21/24 12:45pm
Biden Drains Entire Northeast Gasoline Reserve In Bid To Lower Gas Prices As He Trails Trump By Double Digits Back in March, when reading the mammoth, 1050-page bill that was meant to avert government shutdown, but was yet another pork filled free-for-all bonanza authorizing $1.7 trillion in in discretionary spending, we stumbled upon something that was truly shocking: after Biden singlehandedly drained half of the US strategic petroleum reserve to avoid obliteration for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections, Congress has snuck in a provision that would sell off and shutter the Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve, a move that while perhaps keeps gas prices lower for a day or two, would also leave the entire continental northeast defenseless to any true environmental catastrophe or shock. We were so dismayed by the inclusion of this particular text, we wondered if it hadn't been put there solely for the benefit of America's enemies... The entire US 1 million barrel Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve will be required to be sold and closed in fiscal 2024, according to bill text of government funding legislation unveiled Sunday Did China write this bill? https://t.co/d8qLXZ5Gi6 pic.twitter.com/8B2flG0CZw — zerohedge (@zerohedge) March 3, 2024 ... because surely nobody in their right mind, not even the illegitimate senile occupant of the White House, would ever pursue such short-term gains at the expense of potentially disastrous long-term consequences to the entire nation. We were wrong: earlier today, just two months after the bill was signed by Biden into law, the panicking administration announced that it would sell the nearly 1 million barrels of gasoline in the US managed stockpile in northeastern states, the Department of Energy said, effectively closing the reserve. The department created the Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve (NGSR) in 2014 after Superstorm Sandy left motorists scrambling for fuel. But, according to some megabrains hoping to justify the dumping of gas so its price drops for a few weeks ahead of the summer and avoid even more anger aimed at the president, storing refined fuel is costlier than storing crude oil, so closing the reserve was included in U.S funding legislation signed by President Joe Biden in March. Bids to buy the gasoline located at the two NGSR storage sites in Port Reading, NJ (900,000 bbl) and South Portland, ME (98,824 bbl), are due on May 28 and the Treasury Department's general funds gets proceeds from the sale. Incidentally, the proceeds from the reserve liquidation - which will amount to roughly $125 million gross (and far less net) - is roughly how much the government spends every 15 minutes! So is it better to have a gasoline reserve for unexpected events, or to fund a quarter hour of US government's spending? Don't answer that. Of course, the answer is neither - the whole point of selling the gasoline is to depress prices at the pump if only for a few days to help Americans forget about the great inflationary nightmare they have been in for the past 3 years. The volumes will be allocated in quantities of 100,000 barrels with each barrel containing 42 gallons, the department said and said it would require that fuel is transferred or delivered no later than June 30. That will ensure the gasoline can flow into local retailers ahead of the Fourth of July holiday and that it will be sold at competitive prices. Translation: Biden just drained the Northeast strategic gasoline reserve to push gas lower by a few cents on July 4. For context, gas prices at the pump this Memorial Day will be the second most expensive in a decade - dramatically above the ten-year average of $2.91... “By strategically releasing this reserve in between Memorial Day and July 4th, we are ensuring sufficient supply flows to the ... northeast at a time hardworking Americans need it the most,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a release. “The Biden-Harris administration is laser-focused on lowering prices at the pump for American families, especially as drivers hit the road for summer driving season,″ Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in the statement. “By strategically releasing this reserve in between Memorial Day and July 4th, we are ensuring sufficient supply flows to the tri-state (area) and Northeast at a time hardworking Americans need it the most.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said release of gas from the Northeast reserve builds on actions by President Joe Biden, a Democrat, “to lower gas and energy costs — including historic releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the largest-ever investment in clean energy.″ Biden significantly drained the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, dropping the stockpile to its lowest level since the 1980s after selling about 280 million barrels to keep prices low. The election year move helped stabilize gasoline prices that had been rising in the wake of the war in Europe but drew complaints from Republicans, and frankly anyone with half a brain, that the Democratic president was playing politics with a reserve meant for national emergencies. The Biden administration has since very theatrically begun refilling the oil reserve, which had more than 364 million barrels of crude oil as of last month, by purchasing a couple million barrels every other month or so, setting it on pace for refilling some time in the 2100s. “While congressional Republicans fight to preserve tax breaks for Big Oil at the expense of hardworking families, President Biden is advancing a more secure, affordable, and clean energy future to lower utility bills while record American energy production helps meet our immediate needs,” Jean-Pierre said. As for the real reason behind the latest myopic decision by the Biden admin, today we learned that Trump’s lead over Biden has widened to 13pp in the betting market, the largest difference since mid-March. Meanwhile, political event prediction website PredictIt places higher betting odds on Trump than Biden for the first time since March. Trump is also leading in the latest polls of all swing states. Trump is leading by 2% in the latest polls in Pennsylvania. If Biden loses Pennsylvania but wins Wisconsin and Michigan, he then at least needs to win one state from Georgia and North Carolina in addition to one state from Arizona and Nevada to secure a second term. Meanwhile, closing arguments in Trump's "hush money" case in New York are set to being on May 28. If the jury finds Trump guilty, it is possible for the former president to receive prison time, and judging by how weaponized the "legal system" of the current fascist regime has become, we would not be surprised if Biden goes there. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 14:45
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[l] at 5/21/24 12:40pm
Klaus Schwab Steps Down As World Economic Forum Executive Chairman 'You'll own nothing in retirement and be happy'... Wit the organization he founded 50 years ago bringing in nearly $500 million in revenue in the year ending March 2023 (and sitting on a neat pile of 200 million Swiss francs cash), Klaus Schwab will own some things as he reportedly steps back from his role running the World Economic Forum has has headed since 1971. Semafor reports that Schwab announced his intentions to step down as executive chairman in an email to staff on Tuesday that was shared with Semafor by a person connected to the organization. The change in his role is pending approval by the Swiss government but should be finalized ahead of the WEF’s annual meeting in 2025. Schwab, now 86, will be transitioning to a role as non-executive chairman. But Globalists should not worry about their agenda as Semafor reports that Schwab has seeded his organization with various family members to take up the tyrannical new world order torch - Schwab’s children appointed to high-ranking positions and his wife Hilde heading the organization’s foundation and awards ceremonies in Davos. Will Schwab and Soros retire on a deserted island together to watch the end of the chaotic world they enabled from a distance? Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 14:40
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[l] at 5/21/24 12:30pm
One Dead After Boeing 777 Hit By 'Severe Turbulence' On London-Singapore Flight Update (1219ET): Here's a passenger recount of what happened to the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER during the mid-air incident: "Suddenly the aircraft starts tilting up and there was shaking so I started bracing for what was happening, and very suddenly there was a very dramatic drop so everyone seated and not wearing a seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling. "Some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it; they hit the places where lights and masks are and broke straight through it," Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student on the flight, told ABC News.  Here's footage from inside the cabin following the abrupt 6,000-foot drop: Severe turbulence on #SingaporeAirlines flight from London to Singapore results in 1 death and several injured passengers. This is a reminder - always have your seat belts fastened when inflight. #SQ321 #Singapore pic.twitter.com/sLPKIi9aCV — vk Gupta (@vk26011950) May 21, 2024 Images from inside Flight #SQ321. The plane dropped 6,000 feet in 3 minutes. @SkyNews pic.twitter.com/jzVJTG9wOJ — Cordelia Lynch (@CordeliaSkyNews) May 21, 2024 More images from London to Singapore flight SQ321 carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew. Plane forced to make an emergency landing in Thailand due to severe turbulence. A British man died and dozens are injured pic.twitter.com/UnOf0Ry4EE — June Bull (@PBoro1118) May 21, 2024 *   *   *  Update (0928ET): *7 PASSENGERS IN CRITICAL CONDITION IN SINGAPORE AIR INCIDENT *23 PASSENGERS, 1 CREW MEMBER SUSTAINED MODERATE INJURIES *1 PASSENGER KILLED, SUSPECTED HEART ATTACK IN FLIGHT INCIDENT was he quadruple vaxxed? — zerohedge (@zerohedge) May 21, 2024 *   *   *  A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER was hit by 'severe turbulence' on a London to Singapore flight on Tuesday, forcing an emergency diversion to Bangkok. Tragically, one passenger has been confirmed dead. This incident raises fresh concerns about the safety of air travel of Boeing jets amid a series of mid-air mishaps. Aviation sleuths on X are citing website flight tracking data from Flightradar24, which shows that Flight SQ 321 abruptly dropped 6,000 feet 'due to an air pocket', but nothing has been confirmed.  Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 dropped about 6000 feet due to an air pocket. One person dead. Must have been incredibly scary pic.twitter.com/NDWnWxMuLF — USA Observer (@TheUSAmonitor) May 21, 2024 Flight tracking data suggests that #SQ321 had a steep drop of 6,000 feet within 4 minutes from 37,000 ft altitude (see lines 4.06 am to 4.11am) before stabilizing to 31,000 ft, leading to its emergency landing at BKK. https://t.co/Km611aNp1d pic.twitter.com/ng1R0di6T0 — Saksith Saiyasombut (@SaksithCNA) May 21, 2024 Here's an image inside the plane moments after the incident.  Just in : - Singapore Airlines flight #SQ321 on @Boeing 777 from London @HeathrowAirport to Singapore on 20th May, encountered severe turbulence - Diverted to Bangkok - But one dead and multiple injuries per @SingaporeAir. ✈️ ? pic.twitter.com/82fk23usOI — Tarun Shukla (@shukla_tarun) May 21, 2024 The plane has since landed and emergency crews were dispatched to rush the injured to local area hospitals.  Breaking: Singapore Airlines flight diverted to Bangkok due to turbulence. 20 passengers reportedly injured. #SQ321 pic.twitter.com/kXXcJOfNyh — Tommy Shelby (@T0M5helby) May 21, 2024 A #SingaporeAirlines Boeing B777-300ER operating flight SQ321 from #London to #Singapore encountered severe #turbulence. As per reports, many passengers are injured. The aircraft diverted to #Bangkok. There were 211 passengers and 18 crew members onboard. ?: @fl360aero pic.twitter.com/O0I1F2ZmrN — IH Aviation and Travel (@ihaviation) May 21, 2024 Ambulances heading to Suvarnabhumi Airport to assist and transport those injured on board Singapore Airlines flight SQ 321 from London shortly after 4pm Tuesday. #Thailand #singaporeairlines #SQ321 #Suvarnabhumihttps://t.co/NVhgaBMrrY — Khaosod English (@KhaosodEnglish) May 21, 2024 "We can confirm that there are injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER," Singapore Airlines wrote in a statement published on Facebook, adding there were a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew on board.  "Singapore Airlines flight #SQ321, operating from London (Heathrow) to Singapore on 20 May 2024, encountered severe turbulence en-route. The aircraft diverted to Bangkok and landed at 1545hrs local time on 21 May 2024," the airlines added.  Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 14:30
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[l] at 5/21/24 12:25pm
California Governor Escalates War On Gasoline Impacting Neighboring States Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com, Prepare to pay another $1 per gallon in California with higher prices in Nevada and Arizona too. The War on Gasoline a Gift to Trump The Wall Street Journal says Gavin Newsom’s War on Gasoline Is a Gift to Donald Trump. California’s prices are the highest in the country—$5.21 a gallon on average vs. $3.59 nationwide—owing to hefty taxes and burdensome regulations, such as its cap-and-trade program and low-carbon fuel standard. Here’s the rub: California refineries supply nearly 90% of Nevada’s gasoline and half of Arizona’s. Mr. Newsom is escalating his war on the industry. The California Energy Commission is planning to impose a tax on refineries’ “gross margins”—i.e., the difference between wholesale gasoline and crude prices plus certain regulatory costs. The gross margin notably doesn’t include refiners’ operating costs, which include employee pay. Mr. Newsom conflates profits and gross margins. According to the commission’s data, refiners lost between 10 and 38 cents on each gallon they produced from October 2023 through February 2024, while their gross margins ranged from 56 to 79 cents a gallon. In December, California refineries lost 31 cents a gallon while the state imposed $1.15 a gallon in taxes and regulatory fees. The price gougers in Sacramento now want to penalize drivers even more. Mr. Newsom is pushing the commission to finalize the refinery tax at the same time as the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, prepares to tighten its low-carbon fuel standard and greenhouse-gas emissions cap. These regulations add about 54 cents to the price of each gallon of gasoline. CARB’s rules will increase the cost by an estimated 88 cents a gallon in 2026 and $1.01 by 2031. Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo last week sent Mr. Newsom a letter expressing concern that the new tax and regulations will “lead to limited supplies and higher fuel costs for consumers in both of our states.” Mr. Newsom’s response? Another deflection. He accused Mr. Lombardo of parroting the “talking points” of “Big Oil donors.” Arizona and Nevada are increasingly trending in Mr. Trump’s direction as working-class Hispanics bear the brunt of the Biden administration’s policies. Many migrated from California—and like America’s émigrés from socialist countries, they don’t want to relive the misery from their former lands. Gasoline Top Six California: $5.21 Washington: $4.60 Oregon: $4.38 Nevada: $4.38 Alaska: $4.35 Arizona: $3.90 California pays $1.62 more than the national average and $0.61 more than Washington, the second highest state. Despite refiners losing money, Newsom seeks new taxes causing a complaint from Nevada. If I was a refiner, I would leave that hell hole and let California fend for itself. The EU Is Spending Billions on Hydrogen-Ready Across the Atlantic ocean, The EU Is Spending Billions on Hydrogen-Ready, But Where’s the Hydrogen? I’m all in favor of hydrogen-powered plants to produce electricity if only we had cheap hydrogen. But we don’t and likely won’t. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 14:25
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[l] at 5/21/24 12:05pm
During 'War Drill', Greek Navy Chases Russian Tankers Out Of Oil Transfer Hotspot The Greek Navy has established a temporary obstacle in the Laconian Gulf, approximately 110 miles southwest of Athens, to disrupt a 'floating oil base' used by Russian tankers for ship-to-ship transfers of crude oil and related products. These products are then loaded onto other tankers and transported to Asia. This action is part of the West's strategy to curtail Moscow's ability to supply energy to customers evading Western sanctions, thereby limiting funding for the special operation in Ukraine.  Bloomberg reported that the Greek Navy has "re-issued a notice that it would carry out exercises" in the Laconian Gulf area. These previously announced exercises have been extended through June 3. Each notice forces vessels in the region to exit under maritime law.  This month though, the Greek Navy started carrying out exercises in the area in a bid to halt an activity that helps Moscow's export machine to keep functioning. -BBG Here's a map of where the military exercises will be held.  "There is a gap between the Laconian Gulf and the newly-added area where a lot of the tankers are now clustered," Bloomberg noted.  Greek officials have not publicly stated they are using military exercises against Russia's commercial tanker fleet to deter STS transfers of crude and related products in the sheltered Laconian Gulf area.  We reported earlier this month that the website TankerTrackers reported tankers conducting STS transferred abruptly left the Laconian Gulf for "reasons that were unknown." STS Russian transfers from the Laconian Gulf have ended up thousands of miles away in Asia. However, according to the Black Sea Group, some of it ended up at European ports because of Brussels' poor sanction management:  "68% of the oil was brought to the Laconian Gulf in Greece for transshipment, while the rest was directly exported to the EU ports amid poor sanctions management," researcher Bohdan Ben wrote in a note.  In a separate Bloomberg report, they noted STS transfers of Russian crude could shift to the Red Sea: "There are other signs of change in how Russian oil is moving. One tanker also flipped a cargo of crude onto another vessel in the Red Sea last month. The Panta Rei 1 transfered its cargo onto the Odysseus, which then transported its consignment to India. That's the first ever switch observed in that location in ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg."  This is a new development in how the West fights Moscow. What could possibly go wrong?  Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 14:05
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[l] at 5/21/24 11:45am
Southern US Border Sees 143% Jump In Imported Malaria: CDC Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Imported malaria cases in three southern border jurisdictions more than doubled in 2023 from the year prior, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “During January–December 2023, a total of 68 imported malaria cases were identified from reportable disease surveillance systems in Pima, Arizona (18), San Diego, California (27), and El Paso, Texas (23),” the CDC said in a May 9 report. A U.S. Border Patrol agent counts illegal immigrants before transporting them for further processing in Campo, Calif., on March 7, 2024. (John Moore/Getty Images) This is 143 percent higher than the 28 cases in 2022 when there were three in Pima, 12 in San Diego, and 13 in El Paso. “Because malaria case counts were higher than expected, enhanced case investigations were initiated,” said the agency. The CDC found that 15 out of 68 cases occurred among U.S. residents. Two were found in newly arrived refugees and two among travelers with unknown immigration status. The majority, 49 cases, were identified among “other newly arrived migrants,” including asylum seekers. Imported malaria cases in 2023 increased correspondingly to the entry of asylum seekers and other “migrants” into the United States via the southern land border, the CDC said. The agency advised healthcare professionals to “obtain a complete travel history, consider malaria among symptomatic patients with recent travel through areas where malaria is endemic, and initiate prompt testing and, if indicated, treatment.” Before arriving in the United States, the U.S. residents and refugees had traveled through other nations infected with the disease. “Among the 49 other newly arrived migrants, 46 (94 percent) had traveled through one or more countries with endemic malaria.” Out of the 68 cases, 63 were hospitalized, with almost a third experiencing severe disease. The agency noted that severe malaria was more common among “other newly arrived migrants” than among American residents. No deaths have been reported. “Approximately 2,000 malaria cases are imported into the United States annually, mostly among U.S. residents with recent travel to areas with endemic malaria.” Malaria used to be a leading cause of death in the United States before being eradicated in the 1950s. Last June, five cases of malaria infection on U.S. soil were reported—four in Florida and one in Texas. This was the first local spread of the infectious disease in two decades. Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, emergency medicine physician at Staten Island University Hospital and vice president of Global Health, told The Epoch Times last year that “malaria is a serious disease that can be fatal, and its presence within the U.S. is a cause for concern.” He attributed the spread in the country to the “importation of the disease by travelers returning from regions where malaria is prevalent.” According to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), patrol agents encountered 2.47 million illegal immigrants at the southwest land border in fiscal 2023, up from 1.73 million in fiscal 2021. “While it’s possible for malaria to become endemic again (in America), it’s too early to make definitive predictions,” Dr. Cioe-Pena stated. “Nevertheless, the situation serves as a reminder of the need for continuous vigilance against infectious diseases, even those considered eradicated, and for ongoing investments in public health infrastructure.” Tuberculosis Reported In addition to malaria, illegal aliens have brought other illnesses into the United States. Last year, a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealed that thousands of illegal immigrant children with tuberculosis were released from government custody. The CDC states that people with tuberculosis are infectious and can transmit it. In the report, Aurora Miranda-Maese, an HHS official, said that if tuberculosis were to become active, it would become “a threat to both the individual’s and the public’s health.” Last month, officials at Chicago’s Health Department said a few cases of tuberculosis were identified among recently arrived illegal immigrants. The agency insisted there was no cause for concern. In an April 3 X post, Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez said he had warned the city for months about such a situation but that no action was taken due to “performative politics & hurt feelings.” “Anyone who demanded action to protect our residents was called racist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant by fringe politicians,“ he wrote. ”And now here we are: measles, now tuberculosis both ‘confirmed’ in Chicago. Shame on every mouthpiece that worked so hard to keep this secret. “Everyday Chicagoans MUST demand @ChicagosMayor & his cronies take this seriously, demand American immunization standards for all asylum seekers & their children within @ChiPubSchools , and stop muting the truth.” Malaria Infection and Symptoms Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite carried by Anopheles mosquitoes. If the mosquitoes bite a person with malaria, the individual can become infected. According to CDC, the “risk of malaria in the United States is very low. People do not spread malaria to other people like the common cold or the flu.” Symptoms range from very mild illness to death. Early symptoms include fever and flu-like illness: chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness, plus nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If left untreated, the condition can become severe. Severe malaria can cause kidney failure, mental confusion, seizures, and coma. CDC recommends that people see a healthcare provider “as soon as possible” if they experience any symptoms of malaria or traveled to a region where the illness is known to occur. Once the disease is confirmed, prescription drugs are given to treat and cure the illness. The type of drugs and the length of the treatment depend on the type of malaria infecting a person, the geographical location where the person was infected, and how sick the individual was when they started treatment. Age and pregnancy are other key factors when considering treatment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were an estimated 249 million malaria cases in 2022 globally and 608,000 deaths from the disease. The WHO African Region accounted for 94 percent of malaria cases and 95 percent of deaths. Children under the age of five years made up roughly 80 percent of all deaths in the region. Meanwhile, the CDC urges travelers from the United States to exercise caution when visiting nations prone to malaria. The agency maintains a webpage detailing malaria risk across countries. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 13:45
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[l] at 5/21/24 11:25am
Global Bankers Are Suddenly Worried About The Soaring US National Debt In January of this year JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon argued in an interview with Fortune Magazine that the record US debt 'Is a cliff...and we're going 60MPH towards it."  He claimed that the situation was a global market rebellion waiting to happen.  His comments preceded reports that the national debt was increasing by approximately $1 trillion every 100 days due to the Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes.  US debt has climbed over $11 trillion since March of 2020. It's a problem that bankers should have been able to predict well in advance:  The inevitable Catch-22 scenario in which the Fed must either raise rates to stop inflation but cause debt to skyrocket, or, the Fed must lower rates and return to QE to alleviate debts but also trigger an even greater inflation crisis. The bottom line?  There's no way out.  While Jamie Dimon suggested the economy was headed off a cliff in another ten years, it's likely the threat is approaching much sooner.  Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told Fortune in February that: 'We need to get after' America's $34T national debt: 'You can either admire the problem or do something about it...'  Fed Chair Jerome Powell noted in remarks Tuesday to an audience of bankers in Amsterdam that: “We’re running big structural deficits, and we’re going to have to deal with this sooner or later, and sooner is a lot more attractive than later...” The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now estimates that debt held by the public compared to GDP will rise to “an amount greater than at any point in the nation’s history," caused by surging deficits.  We witnessed the first sparks of a debt crisis in spring of 2023 with five bank failures, until the Fed stepped in and stalled the avalanche with its backstop program.  The assertion by global bankers is that the next crisis will be sparked in markets (rising bond yields spilling over into equities).  Jamie Dimon chimed in again on debt and deficits this past week on Sky News: “America should be quite aware that we have got to focus on our fiscal deficit issues a little bit more, and that is important for the world...At one point it will cause a problem and why should you wait?” “The problem will be caused by the market and then you will be forced to deal with it and probably in a far more uncomfortable way than if you dealt with it to start."  However, Dimon glosses over the fact that ALL of America's "growth" since the covid pandemic can be attributed to the effects of inflation, not sound financial policies.  The entire system is built upon a frail foundation of more money chasing less goods and this is causing extreme problems in affordability in necessities, including housing.  This is where bankers like Dimon sound far more like malicious propagandists than economic analysts.  The greater problem which most international and central bankers will deny is the threat to the US Dollar and US treasuries.  An exponentially expanding debt could lead foreign investors to question if the US will be able to cover its debts, which may lead to more investment in short term treasuries over long term bonds, or a hands off approach to all dollar denominated debt instruments.  A dollar crash would be the logical consequence.    Of course, one thing financial elites fail to mention is what the practical solution would be to the debt problems they describe?  One might argue that this is a ploy by bankers to convince the public that a return to the printing presses is "necessary" in order to prevent a deflationary spiral.  Banks would be the primary beneficiaries should the Federal Reserve bring back QE.  But do markets really matter more than a re-energized inflationary freight train crushing consumers? Maybe prices on everything need to come down?  Beyond that, should the people who helped create the crisis be trusted to fix it? Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 13:25
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[l] at 5/21/24 11:05am
The Wrath Of Khan... Or Why At Some Point The Lack Of Global Rule Of Law Will Matter Mightily By Michael Every of Rabobank Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has announced he is applying for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Gallant, the first time leaders of a Western democracy have been accused. Sadly, however, this does not signal a new era of global adherence to the rule of law, but rather the ICC’s likely self-evisceration. Khan wants to arrest Netanyahu and Gallant, as a start, for “causing extermination, starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, [and] deliberately targeting civilians in conflict” within “the territory of the state of Palestine” (which is not a state), and perhaps even for before October 7. Balancing this, though not his CNN speech or media headlines, Khan is also applying for arrest warrants for Hamas leaders Sinwar, Deif, and Haniyeh --two hiding in Gaza, one lounging in Qatar-- for extermination, murder, hostage taking, rape, and sexual assault in detention. Even so, Khan is equating an elected Western leader --albeit one Gallant himself last year implied is demagogic, and last week accused of dragging the war out because he can’t make a political decision on what happens next-- to terrorists. So, some celebrate. Others despair and argue the evidence against Israel is clearly biased while that against Hamas is from its own bodycams; the ‘controversial’ phrase Netanyahu used, “Remember what Amalek did to you,” is written on the wall at Yad Vashem and in The Hague Holocaust memorial; the allegation Israel closed all crossings into Gaza includes Rafah, which it did not control until very recently; Hamas steals most incoming aid and resells it at vastly inflated prices; Hamas just hugely reduced the casualty figures Western media, politicians, and the ICC repeat; Israel’s judiciary hold its leaders to account; and testimony from Western military experts on the exemplary way Israel carries out the (awful) business of urban combat was ignored. As such, Israelis across its political spectrum are calling this a “blood libel”, as from Europe’s past and today’s US campuses; Hamas complains it should be allowed to do anything as “resistance”; and others point out the ICC hasn’t dived in against clear-cut abuses in many other locales. In short, this is all controversial and divisive rather than lining us up behind the rule of law. Indeed, the ICC decision can be seen as neutering the right to self-defence it professes to support: what Israeli military action would the Court allow vs. tens of thousands of heavily armed terrorists in a crowded urban area if Israel was, as it strongly claims, simply obeying the existing laws of war? (Which, to be clear, are like calorie-free double chocolate fudge cake: more about psychological than physical comfort or health.) If nothing effective, Israel’s and the West’s enemies will take note and heart. “They knew exactly where to hit us,” says Spock in Star Trek II. Israel is not a signatory to the ICC so can simply ignore any arrest warrants like Russia’s President Putin, though he travels in the BRICS when Israel is part of the West, even if parts of the West no longer seem to want it. Indeed, it’s within the West where rifts will be felt most. Non-signatory US senators had lobbied the Court to back off, but Khan publicly told them to – no repeat of his dropping investigations into war crimes committed by the US in Afghanistan, and secret CIA prisons, “because of the limited financial means of the ICC.” However, that means defunding the ICC is likely back on the US agenda for Republicans: revenge is a dish best served cold in 2025. And while progressive Democrats cheer, President Biden has called the arrest warrant requests “outrageous.” Even Europe won’t be spared this polarization: Belgium has backed the ICC, Czechia has already called its action “appalling”, Austria “non-comprehensible”, the UK government which appointed Khan, “unhelpful”, and how will Wilders or Meloni react? So, does the West back the Court or not? More specifically, can the West still send arms to Israel? If so, what does the ICC step really mean? If not, even with a shift to self-reliance and/or non-ICC India, where does this leave Israel vs. Iranian proxies and Iran close to a nuke? And as Hal Brands notes in ‘Ukraine Is Now a World War. And Putin Is Gaining Friends’, where does this leave Western economies vs. the joint threat of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea? The Court therefore stirs the pot in a troubled Middle East already seeing unrest in Israel, where unpopular PM Netanyahu is if anything strengthened by the ICC move, as Trump has been with his court cases; the current Israel-Hamas war, which can still grow to encompass Hezbollah more fully, and where any ceasefires now look more difficult to achieve; an ongoing Houthi blockade maybe to expand to the Mediterranean; Sudanese starving because of it, when not fleeing a civil war led by Islamists; the Saudi King gravely ill; Kuwait cancelling its experiment with democracy because people vote for parties like Hamas; the sudden death of Iran’s President Raisi in a helicopter crash; and the US still trying to achieve Israel-Saudi normalisation under a US (and Israeli) defence umbrella. What might the Saudis -- not charged by the ICC for the war they carried out vs. the Houthis in Yemen -- think of that proposed defence guarantee when it knows US and Israeli hands are tied against the kind of foes it faces? Or maybe the US will just push even harder for the deal to be done now as a result: we shall soon see. Meanwhile, showing how far we are from a world of justice, or even basic truth, Iran’s Raisi was known as ‘The Butcher of Tehran’ because of his responsibility for many thousands of deaths in the 1980s, and he also helped with multiple human rights abuses since, with no charges leveled by the ICC for either. Instead, while some Iranian youth openly celebrated his death, Raisi got a minute’s silence at the UN Security Council and official condolences from NATO, the EU, and the US State Department, even as Iran arms Russia vs. Ukraine, the Houthis vs. EU shipping, and the proxies which kill US soldiers. It’s as bad a joke as the Israeli social media quip that Raisi was killed by a Mossad agent named Eli Kopter, which some in Hamas thought was real for a while. To summarise, some may think The Wrath of Khan is the genesis of a new ideal world of the rule of law. Sadly, we can’t be Reliant on such utopianism in a realpolitik world where Western Enterprise is being struck violently, including from within its own team. As Spock says, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. But which few, or one, will it be? I suspect the ICC. If so, another pillar of the international liberal order’s architecture joins those already seen as impotent (i.e., the WTO and UN), irrelevant (i.e., the IMF and World Bank), or completely incompetent (i.e., The Ivy League, but also pick your acronym). That backdrop may not vex overexcited markets much. However, it’s another sign of what The Economist just bewailed, echoing my warning from January 2016: that the international liberal order is at risk of collapse, or at least fragmentation. At some point the lack of a global rule of law, or clashing global rules of law, matters mightily. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 13:05
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[l] at 5/21/24 10:45am
Russia Launches Tactical Nuclear Drills Near Ukraine In Response To 'Western Threats' Russia on Tuesday confirmed that its forces have kicked off tactical nuclear weapons drills in its southern military district, which is near the Ukrainian border, in what the Kremlin has described as a response to "threats" by the West. The defense ministry (MoD) announced that the exercises aim to test the "readiness" of its "non-strategic nuclear weapons … to ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Russian state." Illustrative image: Russian long-range strategic bomber The MoD specified that this is in "response to provocative statements and threats by certain Western officials." "Under the order of the commander-in-chief, a military exercise involving practice of preparation and use of tactical nuclear weapons started in the Southern military district under the supervision of the General Staff," the ministry said. First unveiled in early May, the date and location of the exercises at that early preview phase were unknown. The Foreign Ministry had warned at the time that NATO's own "Steadfast Defender" drills are possible preparations for war with Russia. And more recently some US and UK officials have been pressing for more Ukrainian attacks directly on Russian soil, with Washington officials now openly debating whether to allow pro-Kiev forces to utilize US-supplied missiles to attack inside Russian territory. Zelensky has meanwhile launched a new aggressive lobbying campaign to push deepened Western involvement:  Western allies are taking too long to make key decisions on military support for Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Reuters in an exclusive interview in Kyiv on Monday. He also said he was pushing partners to get more directly involved in the war by helping to intercept Russian missiles over Ukraine and allowing Kyiv to use Western weapons against enemy military equipment amassing near the border. Russia's Defense Ministry has finally released a video showing the tactical nuke drills it announced a couple of weeks back. And they've blurred out the warheads. But just the tips. pic.twitter.com/FroQg76qUY — Mack Tubridy (@macktubs) May 21, 2024 Another among the 'threats' emanating from the West is the possibility of deploying NATO troops in Ukraine. The idea has gained steam ever since Frances Emmanuel Macron first proposed it months ago a security conference in Paris. Lithuania is the latest to recently back the idea. According to more details of Tuesday's non-strategic nuclear forces drills via state media: "As part of this stage, the personnel of the missile formations of the Southern Military District are completing combat training tasks for obtaining special ammunition for the Iskander operational and tactical missile system, equipping them with launch vehicles and covertly advancing to the designated positional area to prepare for missile launches," the ministry explained, adding that the Russian aviation is training with the equipment of special combat units of aircraft destruction, including Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. Russia's military has issued several videos and images of the drills in progress, which will also be monitored closely from Western capitals and the Pentagon. The situation is ominous to say the least... Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 12:45
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[l] at 5/21/24 10:25am
Bill Maher: Some Of Transgenderism Is A "TikTok Challenge That Got Out Of Hand" Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Modernity.news, During an appearance on Fox News, liberal broadcaster Bill Maher asserted that in some cases, transgenderism is just a “TikTok challenge that got out of hand.” Maher asserted that the United States was now an “outlier” when compared to other western nations given that European countries are now ditching things like puberty blockers for children. “Liberalism is not the same thing as woke, woke they would like to think they’re an extension of liberalism, they’re not, I’m an old school liberal, it’s very often the opposite,” said Maher. “And they think they’re going so far in the right direction and it actually turns out that they’re in the wrong direction and they’ve actually reversed it,” he added. Bill Maher makes an excellent distinction between the true definition of “liberalism” and the new era of the modern Left, otherwise known as “woke”. You might not like Maher, but this kind of rhetoric coming from him does significantly more damage than a conservative voice. But… pic.twitter.com/e6agqMsuuw — Clandestine (@WarClandestine) May 21, 2024 Maher noted how America was “doubling down” on woke despite it becoming increasingly unpopular in other developed countries. “Is there such a thing as trans? Of course, there are sometimes people who are, let’s just say there’s a mix up at the factory and you don’t feel in your head the way you do in your body, but some of this is also jsut a TikTok challenge that got out of hand,” claimed Maher. Some would question the Real Time host’s assertion that woke progressivism is contradictory to liberalism and argue that it merely represents liberalism taken to its (illogical) end goal. In 2022, it was revealed that one in five Gen Z adults now identified as LGBTQ, while the number of total Americans doing the same has doubled in a decade. The Gallup poll illustrated how many young people claiming to be LGBTQ are purely doing so in order to appear unique and trendy. As a whole, the poll showed Americans identifying as LGBTQ represent 7.1 per cent of the population, compared to 5.6 per cent in 2021. In 2012, 3.5 per cent of Americans identified as LGBTQ. If the “born this way” narrative was correct, that number wouldn’t have literally doubled in the space of a decade without the influence of social engineering. *  *  * Your support is crucial in helping us defeat mass censorship. Please consider donating via Locals or check out our unique merch. Follow us on X @ModernityNews. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 12:25
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[l] at 5/21/24 10:05am
Where's The Demand? Alibaba Slashes AI Pricing By Up To 97%, Igniting Discount War Across China The release of OpenAI's ChatGPT in late 2022 sparked a generative artificial intelligence bubble, and now investors are watching for any signs of its bursting. Nvidia reports earnings results and guidance on Wednesday evening, as the company is arguably the market's AI bellwether, which will be a crucial test for bulls. Meanwhile, troubling signs are emerging from China, where AI demand appears to be stagnating. This could be an ominous sign for the overhyped AI sector and its lofty valuations. Bloomberg first reported that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. slashed its AI service prices by up to 97%, igniting a price war among major Chinese tech companies that also cut prices. This price war is evidence of the demand struggles facing the AI sector in China.  Baidu Cloud said it would offer free services based on its Ernie AI models on Tuesday, hours after Alibaba offered deals on nine products built atop its own Tongyi Qianwen. ByteDance Ltd. last week announced pricing for AI services that it said were 99% lower than Chinese industry norms, using Ernie and Alibaba's Qwen as benchmarks. Alibaba's reduced pricing for Language Models (LLM) by up to 97% was posted on the company's WeChat account. Bloomberg Intelligence's Robert Lea explained that Alibaba's AI price war is in response to ByteDance's recently launched Doubao LLMs, which are offered at a steep discount to customers. He also expects Baidu, Tencent, and JD.com to respond, worsening the AI price war.  Meanwhile, mentions of AI on first-quarter earnings calls in the US continue soaring.  Companies mentioning AI on earnings calls pic.twitter.com/bWlVZCO3ON — zerohedge (@zerohedge) May 16, 2024 Everyone on Wall Street is jumping into "The Next AI Trade."  Tomorrow's earnings and guidance for Nvidia is a make-or-break for the AI-fueled equity bubble.  AI demand woes in China are undoubtedly an ominous sign that should be monitored.  Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 12:05
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[l] at 5/21/24 9:45am
Benchmarking Your Portfolio May Have More Risk Than You Think Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentdvice.com, During ripping bull markets, investors often start benchmarking. That is comparing their portfolio’s performance against a major index—most often, the S&P 500 index. While that activity is heavily encouraged by Wall Street and the media, funded by Wall Street, is benchmarking the right for you? Let’s begin with why Wall Street wants you to compare your performance to a benchmark index. Comparison-created unhappiness and insecurity are pervasive, judging from the amount of spam touting everything from weight loss to plastic surgery. The basic principle seems to be that whatever we have is enough until we see someone else who has more. Whatever the reason, comparison in financial markets can lead to terrible decisions. This ongoing measurement against some random benchmark index remains the key reason investors have trouble patiently sitting on their hands and letting whatever process they are comfortable with work for them. They get waylaid by some comparison along the way and lose their focus. Clients are pleased if you tell them they made 12% on their account. Subsequently, if you inform them that “everyone else” made 14%, you’ve upset them. As it is constructed now, the financial services industry is predicated on upsetting people so they will move their money around in a frenzy. Therein lies the dirty little secret. Money in motion creates revenue. Creating more benchmarks, indexes, and style boxes is nothing more than creating more things to compare against, allowing clients to stay in a perpetual state of outrage. This also explains why “indexing” has become a new mantra for financial advisors. Since most fund managers fail to outperform their relative benchmark index from one year to the next, advisors suggest buying the index. This is particularly true as the increasing market share of indexing (and passive, or systematic, investing in general) has made markets less liquid. However, the rise in indexing has resulted in a concentration of dollars into a decreasing number of assets. The combined market capitalization of the top seven companies in the S&P 500 index is around $12.3 trillion. That is more than four times the size of the nearly $3 trillion market capitalization of the Russell 2000 Index, which consists of 2,000 small-cap stocks. While that statistic may be shocking, it also represents the most significant risk in benchmarking your portfolio. Market Cap Weighting Your Portfolio When most investors or financial advisors build portfolios, they invest in companies they like. They then compare the portfolio’s performance to an index. This benchmarking process is where the risk lies, more so today than previously. The reason is in an article we wrote previously: “In other words, out of roughly 1750 ETF’s, the top-10 stocks in the index comprise approximately 25% of all issued ETFs. Such makes sense, given that for an ETF issuer to ‘sell’ you a product, they need good performance. Moreover, in a late-stage market cycle driven by momentum, it is not uncommon to find the same ‘best performing’ stocks proliferating many ETFs.” The issue of asset consolidation is exacerbated as investors buy shares of an indexed ETF or mutual fund. Each purchase of a passive index requires the purchase of the shares of all the underlying companies. Therefore, the rise in the overall index is unsurprising. The massive inflows into passive indexes force-fed the top-10 market capitalization-weighted companies. Here is how it works. When $1 is invested in the S&P 500 index, $0.35 flows directly into the top 10 stocks. The remaining $0.65 is divided between the remaining 490 stocks. Investors who benchmark their index risk failing unless 35% of the portfolio is invested in those 10 stocks. With the market capitalization weighting of the largest companies nearing a record, taking on a 35% stake in those companies increases the portfolio’s risk profile significantly more than many investors think. Notably, we are discussing only the risk involved in “matching” the index. Trying to beat the index consistently from one year to the next is a far more challenging process. A perfect example is Bill Miller from Legg Mason, who achieved 15 consecutive years of beating the S&P. That put him on the cover of magazines. Investors poured billions into the Legg Mason Value Fund in 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately, that was just before his strategy ran into headwinds and stopped working. The same occurred with Peter Lynch at Fidelity. Here is the point. The probability of beating the S&P for 15 consecutive years is 1 in 2.3 million. A Well Managed Portfolio Can Beat The Index Over The Long Term The problem with mainstream benchmarking analysis is that it always focuses on the trailing one-year performance. The reality is that even if you buy an index, you will still underperform it over time. Over the last 30 years, the S&P 500 Index has risen by 1987% versus the ETF’s gain of 1916%. The difference is due to the ETF’s operating fees, which the index does not have. However, while a fund manager may NOT beat the index from one year to the next, it doesn’t mean that a sound investment strategy won’t outperform significantly, with lower risk, over the long term. Finding funds with long-term track records is difficult because many mutual funds didn’t launch until the late “go-go 90s” and early 2000s. However, I quickly looked up some of the largest mutual funds with long-term track records. The chart below compares Fidelity Magellan and Contrafund, Pioneer Fund, Sequoia Fund, Dodge & Cox Stock Fund, and Growth Fund of America to the S&P 500 Index. I don’t know about you, but investing in quality, actively managed funds over the long term seems a better bet. Crucially, they did it without heavily concentrated positions in just a handful of stocks. Financial Resource Corporation summed it up best;  “For those who are not satisfied with simply beating the average over any given period, consider this: if an investor can consistently achieve slightly better than average returns each year over a 10-15 year period, then cumulatively over the full period they are likely to do better than roughly 80% or more of their peers. They may never have discovered a fund that ranked #1 over a subsequent one or three-year period. That ‘failure,’ however, is more than offset by their having avoided options that dramatically underperformed. For those that are looking to find a new method of discerning the top ten funds for the next year, this study will prove frustrating. There are no magic short-cut solutions, and we urge our readers to abandon the illusive and ultimately counterproductive search for them. For those who are willing to restrain their short-term passions, embrace the virtue of being only slightly better than average, and wait for the benefits of this approach to compound into something much better.” The Only Thing That Matters There are many reasons why you shouldn’t chase an index over time and why you see statistics such as “80% of all funds underperform the S&P 500” in any given year. The impact of share buybacks, substitutions, lack of taxes, no trading costs, and replacement all contribute to the index’s outperformance over those investing real dollars who do not receive the same advantages.  More importantly, any portfolio allocated differently than the benchmark to provide for lower volatility, income, or long-term financial planning and capital preservation will also underperform the index. Therefore, comparing your portfolio to the S&P 500 is inherently “apples to oranges” and will always lead to disappointing outcomes. “But it gets worse.  Often times, these comparisons are made without even considering the right way to quantify ‘risk’. That is, we don’t even see measurements of risk-adjusted returns in these ‘performance’ reviews. Of course, that misses the whole point of implementing a strategy that is different than a long only index. It’s fine to compare things to a benchmark. In fact, it’s helpful in a lot of cases. But we need to careful about how we go about doing it.” – Cullen Roche For all these reasons and more, comparing your portfolio to a “benchmark index” will ultimately lead you to take on too much risk and make emotionally based investment decisions. But here is the only question that matters in the active/passive debate: “What’s more important – matching an index during a bull cycle, or protecting capital during a bear cycle?”   You can’t have both. If you benchmark an index during the bull cycle, you will lose equally during the bear cycle. However, while an active manager focusing on “risk” may underperform during a bull market, preserving capital during a bear cycle will salvage your investment goals. Investing is not a competition, and as history shows, treating it as such has horrid consequences. So, do yourself a favor and forget what the benchmark index does from one day to the next. Instead, match your portfolio to your personal goals, objectives, and time frames.  In the long run, you may not beat the index, but you are likely to achieve your personal investment goals, which is why you invested in the first place. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 11:45
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[l] at 5/21/24 9:25am
ChatGPT Suspends Scarlett Johansson Voice Clone After She Lawyers Up OpenAI, which is losing key execs at a rapid pace - has made the choice to "pause" its new ChatGPT voice after actress Scarlett Johansson lawyered up and threatened legal action, alleging that the AI start-up copied her voice after she refused to license it to the company. The actress said that last September, the company approached her to be the voice of their new conversational AI system, which she declined. Then in May of this year, CEO Sam Altman contacted her again, asking her to reconsider. Before she could respond, OpenAI released a demo of its new technology featuring a voice called "Sky" - which many have suggested bears an uncanny resemblance to Johansson's character in the 2013 movie "her," in which she's the voice of a super-intelligent AI assistant. "When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine that my closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference," she wrote, adding: "Mr. Altman even insinuated that the similarity was intentional, tweeting a single word ‘her’ — a reference to the film in which I voiced a chat system, Samantha, who forms an intimate relationship with a human." Statement from Scarlett Johansson on the OpenAI situation. Wow: pic.twitter.com/8ibMeLfqP8 — Bobby Allyn (@BobbyAllyn) May 20, 2024 Here's her statement as read in the voice of Sky: Here's the official statement released by Scarlett Johansson, detailing OpenAI's alleged illegal usage of her voice... ...read by the Sky AI voice, because irony. pic.twitter.com/cJDlnA0hTP — Benjamin De Kraker ?‍☠️ (@BenjaminDEKR) May 20, 2024 On Monday the company issued a statement announcing the "pause" after hearing "questions" over their how they choose the voices in ChatGPT. We’ve heard questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT, especially Sky. We are working to pause the use of Sky while we address them. Read more about how we chose these voices: https://t.co/R8wwZjU36L — OpenAI (@OpenAI) May 20, 2024 Altman claims that "The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson's, and it was never intended to resemble hers," but that "Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we have paused using Sky's voice in our products."  Just received this statement from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman about the Scarlett Johansson voice controversy. pic.twitter.com/doMadaTsY0 — Hayden Field (@haydenfield) May 21, 2024 Sky was one of five voices OpenAI unveiled in September when it incorporated an audio conversation mode into ChatGPT, which The Post noted at the time sounded similar to Johansson. In a September interview, The Post asked Peter Deng, OpenAI’s vice president of consumer products, whether the voice was meant to resemble the actress’s. “No, we actually have five different voices we’ll be launching with. It’s all personal preference,” Deng said. OpenAI suspended the Sky voice on Sunday, announcing the change in a blog post titled “How the voices for ChatGPT were chosen.” The company said it launched an extensive search and reviewed the submissions of 400 voice actors. It said it paid “above top-of-market rates” to the five chosen to participate. -WaPo OpenAI is currently facing a slew of lawsuits by various authors alleging copyright violations after the company used their content to train its AI models - including works by writer George R.R. Martin and news organizations including the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 11:25
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[l] at 5/21/24 9:05am
Taiwan's New President Sworn In, Calls On Chinese Regime To Stop Intimidation By Frank Fang of Epoch Times Taiwan’s new president has been sworn into office, calling on the Chinese regime to stop its military and political intimidations in a speech unlikely to deter the communist regime’s ambition to seize control of the self-ruling island. Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te delivers his inaugural speech after being sworn into office during the inauguration ceremony at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, Taiwan, on May 20, 2024. In his 30-minute inaugural speech on May 20, Lai Ching-te, from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said that Taiwan is a “sovereign and independent country,” and that the island nation and the communist regime in mainland China “are not subordinate to each other.” “I also want to call on China to cease their political and military intimidations against Taiwan, and share with Taiwan the global responsibility of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, as well as the greater region, and to ensure the world is free from the fear of war,” Mr. Lai said. Mr. Lai said his administration aims to “further entrench Taiwan’s democracy” and “maintain peace in the Indo-Pacific.” “I have always believed that if the leader of a country puts people’s welfare above all, then peace in the Taiwan Strait, mutual benefits, and prosperous coexistence would be common goals,” he said. “I hope that China will face the reality of the Republic of China’s existence.” Mr. Lai won January’s presidential election by a margin of about 7 percentage points over second-place Hou Yu-ih, a candidate of the Kuomintang Party (KMT). His victory gave the DPP an unprecedented third consecutive term, after eight years with Tsai Ing-wen at the helm. The DPP’s win is considered a setback for the CCP, which has traditionally favored KMT political candidates because of their friendly view of the communist neighbor. In contrast, the Chinese regime has labeled Mr. Lai as a “troublemaker” and “separatist.” The CCP often slaps the “separatist” label on any Taiwanese who defends the island’s sovereignty and rejects the communist regime’s territorial claim over the island. China’s communist regime is preparing its military to seize Taiwan, even though the island is a de facto independent nation with its own military, constitution, and currency. Mr. Lai reminded the Taiwanese people that they shouldn’t harbor any delusions about China. “So long as China refuses to renounce the use of force against Taiwan, all of us in Taiwan ought to understand that even if we accept the entirety of China’s position and give up our sovereignty, China’s ambition to annex Taiwan will not simply disappear,” he said. Strengthening Democratic Resilience As for international affairs, Mr. Lai said he will work with “other democratic nations to form a democratic community,” working together on issues such as combatting disinformation and strengthening democratic resilience. China’s efforts to influence Taiwan’s elections have been well-documented, with tactics including promoting disinformation via social media platforms and using financial incentives to sway Taiwanese voters. A declassified U.S. intelligence report has shown that China interfered in the U.S. 2022 midterm elections, and there are increasing concerns that the CCP will try to influence the outcome of the November elections. Before his speech, Mr. Lai accepted congratulations from about 200 foreign politicians and delegates at Taiwan’s Presidential Office on May 20. The visiting dignitaries included those from the nations that currently maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, as well as those from Japan, Australia, Canada, the United States, and several European nations. Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former top White House economic aide Brian Deese were among a U.S. bipartisan delegation that met with Mr. Lai on May 20. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also made the trip to Taiwan to congratulate Mr. Lai. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement congratulating Mr. Lai, while applauding Ms. Tsai for “strengthening ties between the United States and Taiwan over the past eight years.” “We look forward to working with President Lai and across Taiwan’s political spectrum to advance our shared interests and values, deepen our longstanding unofficial relationship, and maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Mr. Blinken stated. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he looks forward to “working with the Lai Administration to continue strengthening the U.S.–Taiwan relationship through expanding our economic, security, and people-to-people ties,” according to a statement. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a global coalition of lawmakers, issued a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, to congratulate Mr. Lai on his inauguration. ‘Trusted Industry Sectors’ Mr. Lai also spoke about the importance of Taiwan’s tech industries to the world. “Taiwan has already mastered advanced semiconductor manufacturing, and we stand at the center of the AI revolution,” he said. “We are a key player in supply chains for global democracies.” Taiwan produces about 90 percent of the world’s most advanced semiconductors, which are tiny chips that power everything from computers and smartphones to missile systems. As a result, China’s ambition to seize Taiwan is also driven in part by the goal of taking control of the island’s semiconductor sector. Under his administration, Mr. Lai said he aims to develop “five trusted industry sectors”: semiconductors, artificial intelligence (AI), military, security and surveillance, and next-generation communications. Before the May 20 inauguration, China was already taking steps to put pressure on Mr. Lai. Continue reading at Epoch Times Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 11:05
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[l] at 5/21/24 8:55am
Trump Defense Rests Without Former President Taking The Stand Update (1055ET): The defense in Donald Trump's 'hush money' trial rested their case on Tuesday without the former president taking the stand, as the historic first criminal trial of a former US president enters its final stage. Trump's decision not to testify may have been a smart move, considering the complete debacle we saw over the past two weeks - between Judge Juan Merchan turning Trump into a free speech martyr with multiple gag orders over milquetoast public statements, and star witness Michael Cohen being "dog walked" through his lies - and finally, admitting he stole from the Trump Organization. Trump's defense team rested their case after calling just two witnesses - a paralegal working with the defense counsel, and former Cohen attorney Robert Costello - whose 'courtroom clearing' interactions with Merchan you can read about below. *  *  * Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is my column in the New York Post on the meltdown of Michael Cohen on the stand in the Manhattan trial of former President Donald Trump.  In a trial careening out of control, Judge Juan Merchan seemed to be furiously working to just get the matter to the jury as fast as possible. Judge Merchan seems in open denial of the legal farce playing out in his courtroom. He is only the latest person pulled into the vortex of the swirling corruption around Michael Cohen. Here is the column: The completion of the testimony of Michael Cohen left the prosecution of Donald Trump, like its star witness, in tatters. In the final day of cross-examination, Cohen admitted to committing larceny in stealing tens of thousands of dollars from his client. Even more notably, he admitted to the larceny on the stand — after the statute of limitations had passed. There will be no dead felony zapped back into life against Cohen, as it was for Trump. Cohen clearly has found a home for his unique skill as a convicted, disbarred serial perjurer.  It was not the first time that prosecutors looked the other way as Cohen admitted to major criminal conduct: In a prior hearing, Cohen admitted under oath that he lied in a previous case where he pleaded guilty to lying. If that is a bit confusing, it was just another day in the life of Michael Cohen, who appears only willing to tell the truth if he has no other alternative. The result is truly otherworldly. You have a disbarred lawyer not only casually discussing lies and uncharged crimes, but prosecutors who proceeded to get him to remind the jury that he is not facing any further criminal charges. If any one of those jurors had stolen tens of thousands of dollars, they would be given a fast trip to the hoosegow. Yet Cohen then matter-of-factly said he plans to run for Congress due to his “name recognition” — the ultimate proof that it does not matter whether you are famous or infamous, so long as they spell your name right. As a legislator, Cohen would have the unique ability to say he will not be corrupted by Congress — because he came to Congress corrupted. While most members wait to take office to commit felonies, Rep. Cohen would show up with a self-affirming criminal record. He could then take one of the few oaths that he has not previously violated as the Honorable Rep. Michael Cohen. At the end of the day, Cohen is the ultimate shining object for prosecutors to use as a distraction from the glaring omissions in their case. Prior witnesses testified that Trump’s payments to Cohen were  designated as “legal expenses” not by Trump but by his accounting staff. Moreover, Cohen admitted that he worked for Trump for years in his murky capacity as a fixer. References to payments as a retainer were approved by Allen Weisselberg, a retired executive with the Trump Organization. The “legal expense” label was a natural characterization for a lawyer who was paid monthly and was on-call as Trump’s personal counsel. In any other district, this case would never have been allowed in trial. It certainly now should be facing a directed verdict by the court. Indeed, with any other defendant, a New York jury would be giving a Bronx cheer in derision. Even CNN hosts and experts have admitted that this case would never have been brought against another defendant or in another district. That is what Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is counting on. The biggest problem facing the defense is not the evidence, but the judge: Judge Juan Merchan seems to be channeling George Patton’s warning, “May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t.” Merchan has not given any indication that he is seriously considering a directed verdict, which he should clearly grant before this goes to the jury. Merchan’s rulings have largely favored the prosecution, including some rulings that left some of us mystified. Judge Merchan continues to allow the jury to hear references to campaign-finance violations that do not exist. After gutting any use of a legal expert to testify on the absence of any such violations, the judge allowed the jury to hear Michael Cohen state that the payments to Stormy Daniels were clearly campaign violations. All that Merchan would offer is a weak instruction telling jurors not to take such statements as proof of a violation. The alleged campaign-finance violations allowed Cohen to try to implicate Trump. However, it is doubtful that Trump could have been convicted on such a charge in any other venue. It is precisely what the Justice Department tried and failed to do with John Edwards, a Democratic candidate. After that unmitigated failure, the Justice Department dropped this theory of hush money as a campaign contribution. Indeed, after reviewing the Trump payments, not only did the Justice Department decline any charges but the Federal Election Commission did not even seek a civil fine. On Monday, Judge Merchan’s orders became even more inexplicable when Cohen’s former attorney Robert Costello took the stand. Merchan immediately started to sustain a flurry of prosecutors’ objections as Costello basically accused Cohen of multiple acts of perjury. At one point, Costello — one of the most experienced lawyers in New York and a former prosecutor — exclaimed that one of the judge’s rulings was “ridiculous.” The judge chastised Costello and even challenged him: “Are you staring me down?” In fact, it was hard not to stare. What is happening in the courtroom of Judge Juan Merchan is anything but ordinary. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 10:55
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[l] at 5/21/24 8:45am
Over 80,000 Crypto Shorts Liquidated For Over $290 Million In 24 Hours As Ethereum Erupts As the Bitcoin and Ethereum prices exploded toward new all-time highs, the recently piled-on shorts have suffered the brunt of the liquidations. In the last day alone, over $360 million was liquidated from the crypto market with the majority hitting short traders. Coinglass data shows that the last 24 hours have been brutal for crypto shorts, with almost 90,000 crypto traders seeing their positions liquidated, the vast majority of them short, leading to hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. In total, there have been $365 million in liquidations. Out of this figure, the vast majority, or 80%, were positions belonging to short traders, meaning they made up $290 million of the total figure. Long traders only made up $75 million in the liquidations. Bitcoin did not lead liquidations this time around, with the pain instead focusing on Ethereum, as its price soared more than 20% in the 24-hour period, following media reports suggesting that contrary to previous expectations, the SEC was actually prepared to greenlight an Ethereum ETF. Ethereum liquidations accounted for around 35% of the total figure, coming out to $122 million at the time of writing. The largest single liquidation event also happened on an ETH-USDT pair on the Huobi exchange, costing the trader $3.11 million. In contrast, Bitcoin liquidations came out to $98 million, but just like Ethereum, the figure was made up by a majority of short traders. Following behind Bitcoin is Solana with liquidations of $23.3 million. Other coins which saw substantial liquidations include Dogecoin with $9.3 million, PEPE and others. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/21/2024 - 10:45

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