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[l] at 2/28/24 5:45am
"All Weapons Safe": Wildfire Temporarily Suspends Operations At Texas Nuclear Bomb Plant A wildfire in the Texas Panhandle exploded in size on Tuesday, forcing the temporary shutdown of a nuclear weapons plant. BREAKING: ? The Texas wildfires outside of Amarillo have forced the Pantex nuclear weapons facility to pause operations. "The fire near Pantex is not contained."pic.twitter.com/3965l0xq82 — Matt Couch (@RealMattCouch) February 28, 2024 The Smokehouse Creek Fire, burning between Canadian and Stinnett, exploded in size from 40,000 to 200,000 acres in a matter of hours on Tuesday. This prompted Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to issue a disaster declaration for 60 counties. "Hot and dry conditions caused by high temperatures and windy conditions are expected to continue in the region in the coming days," Abbott said in a statement. "These conditions could increase the potential for these wildfires to grow larger and more dangerous." A developing situation out of north Texas at this hour, as the Windy Deuce wildfire spreads south towards the Pantex Plant northeast of Amarillo. The plant is the primary nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility for the United States. The fire lies 8.2 miles north… https://t.co/eUotD6jMhq pic.twitter.com/lXjrFCFKHa — Zach Covey (@ZachCoveyTV) February 28, 2024 According to a post on X, Pantex Plant, the nation's top nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly plant, about 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, canceled plant operations "until further notice" on Tuesday evening, adding, "All weapons and special materials are safe and unaffected."  Operations at the Pantex Plant have paused until further notice. All weapons and special materials are safe and unaffected. — Pantex Plant (@PantexPlant) February 28, 2024 "The fire near Pantex is not contained. Response efforts have shifted to evacuations. There is a small number of non-essential personnel sheltered on-site," Pantex said late Tuesday night.  The fire near Pantex is not contained. Response efforts have shifted to evacuations. There is a small number of non-essential personnel sheltered on-site. — Pantex Plant (@PantexPlant) February 28, 2024 By Wednesday morning, the plant said: "The Pantex Plant is open for normal day shift operations for Wednesday, February 28; all personnel are to report for duty according to their assigned schedule."  The Pantex Plant is open for normal day shift operations for Wednesday, February 28; all personnel are to report for duty according to their assigned schedule. — Pantex Plant (@PantexPlant) February 28, 2024 Pantex has been the US's main assembly and disassembly site for nukes since the mid-1970s. It assembled the last new bomb in 1991 while dismantling thousands.  Close call...  Tyler Durden Wed, 02/28/2024 - 07:45
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[l] at 2/28/24 5:20am
E-Bike Injuries Skyrocket, With 1 In 10 Requiring Hospitalization Authored by Amie Dahnke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Over 45,000 Americans were injured as a result of e-bike injuries between 2017 and 2022, indicating a 30-fold rise in the number of injuries caused by the popular mode of transportation. Nearly one in 10 of those injuries required hospitalization. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters) The data come from a new study published in JAMA Surgery, highlighting the importance of adhering to manufacturer safety standards and municipal rules governing e-bikes. According to the research, health care associated with e-bike injuries has soared in the United States, a trend that started in the early 2000s as e-bikes became more popular and accessible to purchase. According to Statista, by 2022, e-bikes accounted for 4 percent of the bike market in the United States, up from 0.06 percent in 2015. The study looked at data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database providing estimates of patients with injuries requiring emergency medical attention. The research team found that, between 2017 and 2022, the number of injuries rose from 751 to 23,493—over a 108 percent annual increase. Men were those most often injured, receiving between 69 percent and 79 percent of the injuries throughout the five years. Injuries were fairly evenly distributed among age groups, with 18- to 34-year-olds averaging between 30 percent and 46 percent of the injuries; 35- to 54-year-olds averaging between 11 percent and 40 percent of injuries; and those over 55 averaging between 17 percent and 20 percent of the injuries. In 2017, individuals between 18 and 34 comprised 63 percent of all reported e-bike injuries. The types of injuries reported also varied, with no specific injury dominating. Fractures and dislocations were the most common injury, averaging between 20 percent and 38 percent. Head injuries accounted for between 22 percent and 36 percent of injuries, and injuries to the upper extremities ranged between 23 percent and 36 percent. The severity of injuries also increased over the years, with more patients requiring hospitalization. Between 2017 and 2022, the data indicated a 43-fold increase in hospitalizations. The data indicated helmet use varied from year to year. About 50 percent of e-bike riders wore helmets in 2017. Use peaked at 62 percent in 2019 and 2020 before dropping to 36 percent in 2022. The research team noted that the increase in head injuries—which was at its lowest in 2017—is likely due to a decreased use of helmets. The risk of receiving a head injury was 1.9 times higher for riders who did not wear a helmet. The team found, however, that wearing a helmet was uncommon. “Only 44 percent of injured e-bicyclists wore helmets, with proportionally fewer wearing helmets each year,” the study authors reported, adding that “although helmet use by e-bicyclists varies worldwide, Swiss studies report helmet use as high as 69 percent.” State Regulations Attempt to Prevent Injuries States have worked to adopt laws regulating e-bike use throughout the United States. Much of the legislation focuses on how to classify the e-bike, determining whether it is a scooter, moped, or traditional bike. That classification typically determines who can ride e-bikes and where. For example, 36 states have three-class systems for e-bikes. These classes indicate the varying types of e-bikes available on the market, from road bikes and cruisers to those better suited for mountain biking. The reasoning behind these laws and classifications is that placing the right bike on a suitable surface helps keep people safer and helps avoid further injury. Tyler Durden Wed, 02/28/2024 - 07:20
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[l] at 2/28/24 4:55am
"Bright Future": Woodside CEO Sees Global LNG Demand Surging By 50% In Next Decade Australia's top liquefied natural gas exporter's chief executive told Bloomberg in an interview on Tuesday that the LNG sector is an explosive upcycle that could send consumption soaring through the next decade, resulting in the need for more investments in the space.  "We're seeing signs of that demand growth in emerging Asia," CEO Meg O'Neill of Woodside Energy Group Ltd. said in the interview. She noted that consumption of the fuel is expected to rise by 50% over the next decade.  O'Neill said, "There'll be points in time where we'll see a fair amount of new supply arriving, but the demand growth is really likely to absorb that over the course of the coming years." In a separate Bloomberg interview, O'Neill stated: "We see a bright future for LNG." She said her team has advanced the $12 billion Scarborough LNG project in Australia and other development opportunities, including Browse, Sunrise, and Calypso. She said Woodside's M&A team is actively searching for a "variety of opportunities — but we are going to be disciplined," adding, "We are going to make sure it fits our strategy, fits our capabilities, and delivers value." Woodside's outlook on the industry is one of the most bullish ones. A recent note from Shell Plc, a top LNG supplier, shows a 2040 bullish forecast.  Given O'Neill's long-term bullish outlook on the LNG market, what's truly perplexing for many is the decision by climate radicals in the White House to halt new LNG export licenses in Texas. As a reminder to readers, Texas is the third largest LNG exporter in the world.  We have cited a number of energy insiders, Wall Street analysts, and even some government officials who have been absolutely dumbfounded by the White House's decision.  Earlier this month, Jack Fusco, CEO of Cheniere Energy Inc., was quoted at the Baker Hughes annual conference in Florence, Italy, via Bloomberg, saying that the Biden administration's decision to pause approvals of LNG export licenses "was very confusing." He pointed out that US LNG helps lower dirtier fossil fuel generation emissions.  Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said the decision was "probably the worst energy decision that" Biden has made. He said, "Because of this pause, you're probably going to see some investment that would have come to the United States, go elsewhere."  And Exxon Chief Financial Officer Kathy Mikells was recently quoted in an interview by Bloomberg as saying the pause in new LNG approvals is a "mistake" and will reduce climate-damaging emissions.  Considering all of this... What in the heck is the Biden admin thinking?  Tyler Durden Wed, 02/28/2024 - 06:55
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[l] at 2/28/24 4:30am
How The Economy Changed: There's No Bargains Left Anywhere Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog, What changed in the economy is now nobody can afford to get by on working-class wages because there's no longer any bargains. The economy has changed in many ways, and it's difficult to track the glacial movements over decades. One change that few seem to recognize or discuss is the disappearance of bargains: cheap rent, cheap meals at hole-in-the-wall restaurants, cheap transport, cheap travel, cheap services--all gone. Back in the day, even stupidly expensive cities like San Francisco had working-class districts with cheap rent and cheap eats. One reason the hippie movement arose in San Francisco was the availability of cheap places to rent in what many would dismiss as rundown slums or ghettos. There were plenty of working-class hole-in-the-wall restaurants and cafes that served cheap plates of spaghetti, turkey legs and other affordable fare. The working-class districts in cities have long been gentrified, or more recently, abandoned to homeless encampments. Gentrification eliminates cheap rents, as the soaring valuations of real estate leads the new owners to charge high rents in order to pay their lofty mortgages. Affordable apartments disappear, and so do affordable small commercial / retail spaces for hole-in-the-wall bookstores (remember when these were commonplace?), cafes, odd little niche retailers, and low-cost services (shoe repair, etc.) The extermination of low-cost commercial space eliminated many services which are no longer available, a trend that feeds the "waste is growth" Landfill Economy: there's nobody left to repair anything or move second-hand goods, so everything that once could have been repaired or re-used is tossed in the landfill, replaced by a shoddy, crapified replacement product of the global economy. One person's affordable housing is another person's slum or ghetto. Urban Renewal destroyed affordable housing and vibrant ethnic neighborhoods, in the name of "improvement" which ended up displacing those who could no longer afford soaring rents. The end result is many people are spending half or 2/3 of after-tax earnings on rent. Personally, I was only able to work my way through college because there were still nooks and crannies of low-rent dives and rooming houses, and low-cost hole-in-the-wall restaurants and cafes, day-old baked goods outlets, etc. Lowering the cost of credit for corporations, financiers and the wealthy created unprecedented competition for places to invest all this nearly free money, and real estate has long been a favored market for those seeking to increase income and appreciation by gentrifying low-cost properties. The net result is nobody can afford to start a business because rents, insurance, fees, utilities and regulatory compliance are all unaffordable, And so downtowns and once vibrant retail streets are half-empty or abandoned. All the little cafes, services, second-hand stores are all gone because these are inherently low-margin businesses that can't afford rent in the thousands per month. Something else changed, too: the proprietors who operated these small, affordable businesses are gone. The proprietors could charge affordable rates for their services because their own cost of living was low. Once the cost of living skyrocketed, they could no longer afford to get by on the meager earnings of their affordable enterprise. So they sold their building, or retired and moved out of the city to cheaper regions. Who's left who wants to work the long hours needed to operate small enterprises, and rely on uncertain / low net income? Very few people are willing to take these risks, and few can afford to take these risks. Financialization--and the resulting competition of those with unlimited access to low-cost credit for real estate to "develop"--eliminated all the bargains. Once rents soared, nobody could afford to offer bargains. The price of everything soared and those with cheap rents were forced out of business by rising rents and gentrification. What changed in the economy is now nobody can afford to get by on working-class wages because there's no longer any bargains. Life used to be good for those with modest incomes because there were still bargains to be had. Not any more. Life is now a struggle because it's no longer affordable. Not everyone is suffering, of course. The corporations selling junk products and services are doing just fine: As are those who own 90% of the income-producing assets: *  *  * Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. Subscribe to my Substack for free Tyler Durden Wed, 02/28/2024 - 06:30
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[l] at 2/28/24 3:45am
Europe's Record Rally Leaves Behind Riskier Firms By Michael Msika, Bloomberg Markets Live reporter and strategist Investors are piling up bets into the largest stocks by market value but also into the ones with the strongest balance sheets, while leaving more risky companies behind. The broadening of the rally to other parts of the market doesn’t look like it’s coming just yet. Caution is the name of the game when it comes to corporate fundamentals, with the quality factor leading returns on a long-short basis over the past three months, and the trend extending further in February. Investors have turned increasingly bullish about European stocks, with their optimism driving the European benchmark to a record high last week. Even so, a Goldman Sachs basket of companies with weaker balance sheets has been underperforming peers with stronger ones at a pace not seen since mid-2022 — a period when US rates went from 1% to more than 3% in about three months. “These baskets are heavily influenced by interest rates given their sensitivity to rising cost of debt,” say Goldman strategists including Guillaume Jaisson, keeping an underweight on these companies. They add that cost of debt isn’t a problem for the overall market given balance sheets are not stretched overall. Jaisson notes that some constituents of the basket like BAT, Fresenius, GN Store Nord, Siemens Healthineers and Stora Enso committed to reducing debt during the last earnings season, implying less focus on capex or shareholders’ returns. Meanwhile, Bayer even announced it will cut dividends by 95% to focus on its balance sheet, and others such as Atos have been under pressure following refinancing difficulties. “We think these companies will remain constrained now that they need to operate in a higher interest rate environment and especially if we see yields move higher,” they say. The caveat is that a pick-up in activity, combined with rate cuts from the major central banks, could create a rotation out of momentum trades and into cyclical assets such as weak balance sheets and small caps. In the meantime, investors are being selective, widening the gap between what is seen as the healthier sections of the market. In terms of performance themes, the market is back to the things that worked well for most part of the rally, as mega cap, tech and pricing power stocks are performing well. Sentiment toward riskier parts of the market, which briefly seemed to play catch up and stoked concern about potential “buy everything exuberance,” is once again sobering up and deflating the notion of too much risk is being deployed. Yet, while sharing a similar view to Goldman’s Jaisson about the continued outperformance of cash-rich companies versus stocks with high refinancing costs, JPMorgan strategists led by Mislav Matejka are more pessimistic about the overall direction of equities. They see some downside ahead, especially as key drivers of resilient corporate profitability are likely to turn weaker. “In aggregate, and despite a few notable exceptions, corporate profit margins are elevated in a historical context, and appear to be peaking,” they say. Corporates managed to lock in low financing costs ahead of rate hikes but this will normalize over time, as will productivity gains and the currently strong pricing power. “The historical pattern where profit margins always start to move lower ahead of the next economic downturn is clear,” they say. Tyler Durden Wed, 02/28/2024 - 05:45
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[l] at 2/28/24 3:00am
NATO's Debate Over Direct Military Intervention In Ukraine Shows Its Desperation Authored by Andrew Korybko's via Substack,  French President Macron hosted over 20 fellow European leaders in Paris on Monday to discuss their next moves in Ukraine, including the possibility of a conventional NATO intervention, which he said they hadn’t ruled out for reasons of “strategic ambiguity” despite not reaching a consensus on this. His Polish counterpart Duda also confirmed that this subject was the most heated part of their discussions. The very fact that this scenario is being officially considered shows how desperate NATO has become. Russia’s victory in Avdeevka, which was the natural result of it winning the “race of logistics”/“war of attrition” with NATO, prompted policymakers to contemplate what they’ll do in the event that it achieves a breakthrough across the Line of Contact (LOC) and starts steamrolling through the rest of Ukraine. They hadn’t previously considered this to be a serious possibility until last summer’s failed counteroffensive exposed the weakness of their military-industrial complex and tactical-strategic planning. Via Reuters It's now a credible scenario that’s reviving speculation about a Polish-led intervention aimed at drawing a red line in the sand for halting any potential Russian breakthrough before it gets too far. This would preserve the G7’s “sphere of (economic) influence” in Ukraine while preventing that former Soviet Republic’s collapse and thus averting another Afghan-like foreign policy disaster for the West. The problem, however, is that Poland also doesn’t want to be put up to this only to be hung out to dry. Although Poland has comprehensively subordinated itself to Germany after the return of Berlin-backed Prime Minister Tusk to power late last year and envisages carving out its own “sphere of influence” in Western Ukraine, this doesn’t mean that it wants to lead a Western intervention there. The risk of World War III breaking out with Russia by miscalculation is much too high and Poland might fear that NATO won’t activate Article 5 if it clashes with Russia inside Ukraine in order to prevent that from happening. These concerns could explain why there wasn’t any consensus during Monday’s meeting on this issue since other members wisely won’t want to take the chance of catalyzing an apocalyptic scenario, ergo the reason why the West might be plotting a false flag in Poland to blame on Russia and Belarus. President Lukashenko warned about that in late February, and if it comes to pass, then it could serve as the trigger for pushing Poland into leading a Western intervention in Ukraine without full NATO backing. Warsaw could be misled to believe without any written guarantees that it has the bloc’s support and Article 5 would be activated if its forces clash with Russia’s there, but only to be hung out to dry if that happens so as to stave off World War III by miscalculation for the greater good. Nevertheless, it would still serve the purpose of drawing a red line in the sand that could halt Russia’s advance since NATO might escalate via brinksmanship afterwards by promising to activate Article 5 if the clashes continue. Poland would also be left to pick up the tab in that event by having to pay the financial and physical costs of this de facto NATO intervention, thus representing an amoral form of “burden-sharing” that would fall solely on its taxpayers instead of the rest of the bloc’s. The farmers’ protests that are rocking that country right now could lead to a full-blown rebellion if that happens since others could join in, however, which the ruling liberal-globalists would prefer not to unfold since they fear that they’d risk losing power. That’s why they’re reluctant to lead a Western intervention in Ukraine since there’s a high chance that it’ll backfire on them in particular and Poland’s national interests in general despite being to the benefit of Western hegemony as a whole. Whatever ends up happening, the takeaway from Monday’s meeting in Paris and the details that were revealed about their discussions is that NATO is planning for a possible Russian breakthrough across the LOC later this year but isn’t yet sure how to react if that happens. Poland could either be pushed to preempt that voluntarily or after being manipulated by the false flag that President Lukashenko warned last week is being plotted, with the second option also potentially being employed right after any breakthrough. If this occurs before NATO’s “Steadfast Defender 2024” drills wrap up in June, then those of the bloc’s forces that are presently training in Poland for its largest continental exercises since the Old Cold War could play a pivotal support role or possibly join in as well. Should a breakthrough occur after those war games end as part of the Russian offensive that Zelensky claimed is being planned for as early as May, however, then Poland probably couldn’t count on as much NATO support and would likely be pressured to go it alone (at least at first) with only vague promises. Another possibility is that the exercises are extended, whether in whole or in part, including through the semi-permanent stationing of some other NATO forces like Germany’s there until the offensive ends. Russian forces recently made confirmed gains near Kreminna, Bakhmut, and Avdiivka amid continued positional engagements along the entire frontline on February 26. (1/2) https://t.co/OpLbPOueCH pic.twitter.com/7SiK3WJQbF — Institute for the Study of War (@TheStudyofWar) February 27, 2024 That might give Poland enough reassurance to take a leap of faith in plunging head-first into Ukraine with the expectation that the rest of NATO will follow even if they purposely lag behind in order to avoid World War III with Russia by miscalculation as was previously explained. It remains to be seen what’ll happen, but as Macron himself said, “we will do everything needed so Russia cannot win the war” and this therefore means that NATO will certainly intervene to some extent if Russia breaks through the LOC. The bloc can’t afford another Afghan-like disaster, let alone on European soil in the most geostrategically significant conflict since World War II, which is why it won’t sit idly on the sidelines as Ukraine collapses if there’s a credible chance of that happening and Russia steamrolling through the ruins. The only reason why they’re now planning for this is because Russia’s victory in the “race of logistics”/“war of logistics” makes it conceivable sometime later this year, though it of course can’t be taken for granted either. Tyler Durden Wed, 02/28/2024 - 05:00
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[l] at 2/28/24 2:15am
EU Considers Banning Repairs On ICE Vehicles More Than 15 Years Old Just when you thought the EV lunacy had reached so much of a peak that obvious industry backlash was taking place, think again: because the European Commission is here to prove you otherwise. And how do they plan on doing that? According to Wheels Alive, a UK automobile publication, the EU is considering banning repairs on vehicles that are more than 15 years old.  The proposed measure, put forward by the European Commission and pending ratification, seeks to gradually eliminate older, high-emission vehicles to promote the adoption of greener alternatives. This pending legislation, which requires the green light from both the European Parliament and the Council, introduces the concept of a 'residual vehicle'. Just for perspective, this means vehicles that were manufactured in 2009 or before wouldn't be considered for major repairs.  The EU's 'Fit for 55' initiative aims for a 55% cut in transport emissions by 2030 from 1990 levels and zero direct emissions by 2050, including a 2035 ban on new combustion engine vehicles, with exceptions for future synthetic fuels. This is what a car built 15 years ago looks like. Despite these goals, the adoption of low or zero-emission vehicles across the EU is uneven, with some countries like Spain seeing average vehicle ages over 14 years, and over 47% of vehicles older than 15 years, reflecting a broader trend across Europe. The European Commission proposes to tackle this by targeting the longevity of cars, introducing draft regulations to redefine waste management for end-of-life vehicles to encourage recycling and a circular economy. Despite concerns, the regulation aims to identify vehicles beyond repair due to significant damage or when repair costs exceed market value, without barring necessary repairs or replacements for standard cars. This has sparked debate regarding its effect on the automotive repair industry and the fate of classic cars, underlining the complexities of balancing environmental goals with economic and cultural considerations. Hilariously enough, the EU didn't provide information on where the average person is supposed to get the funds to just 'throw away' their old vehicle and start over with a brand new one. And with the non-stop printing of cash worldwide and inflation running rampant, it's more difficult than ever to do so. Could this be another step in the 'you'll own nothing and like it' playbook? Jeez. Just when you thought the globalists couldn't micromanage a single industry or tell you what you can and can't own any further... Tyler Durden Wed, 02/28/2024 - 04:15
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[l] at 2/28/24 1:30am
White Supremacy Goes Back To "Early Church": Oxford Professor By Micaiah Bilger of The College Fix White supremacy remains so prevalent in Christianity today because it took root in the early church, theologian Anthony Reddie told a Baylor University conference this month. Reddie, a professor of black theology at Oxford University in England, said in his Feb. 15 speech that white supremacy has “distorted” Christianity since the time of Jesus Christ, according to Baptist News Global. The conference, hosted by Baylor’s Truett Seminary, focused on racism in the world church. “The most egregious thing that we have to wrestle with is the normalization of white supremacy,” Reddie said. Although Christianity “was created as a movement for those who are marginalized and oppressed,” he said white leaders quickly began using the religion as a weapon to seize land and oppress other cultures. Reddie traced the distortion back to the early Christians who blamed the Jews for killing Jesus, instead of Roman leader Pontius Pilate, according to the report. “Pilate represents white supremacy, and white supremacy now becomes normalized and effectively becomes the religion of Jesus, the religion of God,” the professor said. As time went on, more and more people began to believe Jesus was a white European, like them, Reddie said. Baptist News Global reports: That’s why few white Christians flinched at the claim that Jesus called European and American Christians to travel the globe to oppress brown- and Black-skinned people, he said, explaining that a Christianity suffused with white supremacy enabled plantation owners in the American South to see no contradiction between their faith and owning other human beings. “They saw people who are other as inferior and that it was OK to kill or enslave them for their own good.” Those attitudes clearly continue to exist and in the U.S. are evident in the rise of Trumpism, the British scholar said. Because white supremacy has been connected with Christianity for so long, he said it has “distorted the very fabric of what we call Christianity and the nature of church.” The Baylor conference is part of a “three-year sequences of programs on confronting racism in the white church and seeking God’s justice,” according to the event website. More than a dozen pastors, theologians, and Christian leaders participated. Baylor is a private, Protestant Christian university in Texas. Last year, a Catholic university professor also linked white supremacy with the early Christian church in a new book, “Christian Supremacy.” The author, Fordham University Professor Magda Teter, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that white supremacists’ ideology “is rooted in Christian ideas of social and religious hierarchy.” Tyler Durden Wed, 02/28/2024 - 03:30
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[l] at 2/28/24 12:45am
Polish Truckers To Rejoin Farmers In Border Crossing Blockades By Salon24.PL via Remix News Polish truckers are to resume their border blockade protest on March 1 after having previously suspended their protest actions at the turn of the year. Truckers are demonstrating once again because they are not satisfied with what has been done to stop Ukrainian trucking companies from creating unfair competition in the Polish transport market.  The ongoing farmer protests are also about trade relations with Ukraine, with the farmers protesting about the European Commission’s decision to extend the trade agreement with Ukraine, allowing Ukrainian agricultural products to flow into the EU despite these products failing to adhere to EU standards. WATCH: ??? Polish farmers spill Ukrainian grain out onto the railway tracks as they ramp up their nationwide protests against cheap imported produce from the war-torn country and the EU’s green agenda. pic.twitter.com/3HyhS6A3LS — Remix News & Views (@RMXnews) February 20, 2024 Farmers are also up in arms about EU climate policies, which affect energy costs and livestock farming. On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the farmers are to stage a mass protest in Poland’s capital city of Warsaw.   The truckers action on March 1 will mark the resumption of action which began on Nov. 6. They had been promised government action to tighten controls on Ukrainian haulage firms, but these promises have not been kept. The truckers are demanding the reintroduction of licensing for Ukrainian truckers. Former Polish Conservative (PiS) Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki took to X on Monday to support the protesting farmers. He called on the government to introduce an embargo on Ukrainian agricultural products.  WATCH: ????? Farmers drag away barricades set up by riot police to protect the EU institutions in Brussels. Really explosive situation in the city today!#Bruxelles #AgriculteursEnColere #FarmersProtest2024 #FarmerProtest2024 pic.twitter.com/pBaCfuPyh0 — Remix News & Views (@RMXnews) February 26, 2024 For more details please see Remix.news Tyler Durden Wed, 02/28/2024 - 02:45
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[l] at 2/28/24 12:00am
Slovakia Warns 'Bilateral Agreements' Could See Individual NATO States Send Troops To Ukraine Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com, Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico warned on Monday that some NATO and EU countries are considering sending troops to Ukraine, a step that would risk direct war between NATO and Russia. "Several NATO and EU member states are considering sending their soldiers to Ukraine on a bilateral basis," said Fico, who was elected last year on a platform of opposing the proxy war in Ukraine. Firing US-Supplied Javelin missiles. Source: Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service Some NATO members have signed bilateral security deals with Ukraine, including Germany and the UK, but there’s no indication they’re considering sending troops at this time. "We see huge security risks in the bilateral agreements that are likely to be conducted soon with NATO and EU member states that want to send their troops to Ukraine," Fico said. He made the comments ahead of a meeting of European leaders in Paris about the proxy war in Ukraine. After the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said the idea of Western troops in Ukraine hasn’t been ruled out. "There’s no consensus today to send in an official, endorsed manner troops on the ground. But in terms of dynamics, nothing can be ruled out," Macron said. The French Foreign Ministry subsequently on Tuesday issued this curiously-worded statement: Western countries could deploy troops to Ukraine without breaching any "belligerence threshold", French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said on Tuesday. Western nations could engage in demining, arms production and operations in the cyber field "on Ukrainian soil... without breaching any belligerence threshold," Sejourne said, after President Emmanuel Macron refused to rule out the dispatch of Western ground troops to Ukraine. Troops from any single European country being in Ukraine presents issues related to NATO Article 5.... ? The Kremlin has warned that a conflict between Russia and Nato would be inevitable if European members of the alliance send troops to fight in Ukraine. Read more here ⬇️https://t.co/IXWg4ivKeg pic.twitter.com/SOfdYOjhuI — The Telegraph (@Telegraph) February 27, 2024 The Discord leaks revealed last year that there are a small number of NATO special operations forces inside Ukraine. According to a leaked Pentagon document, there were 97 NATO special operations soldiers in Ukraine, including 14 Americans, as of March 2023. Tyler Durden Wed, 02/28/2024 - 02:00
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[l] at 2/27/24 9:40pm
Combatting Slavery In China Authored by Callista Gingrich via RealClear Wire, A report published on February 14 revealed that the Chinese Communist Party is continuing to target and enslave Uyghurs through an expansion of forced labor in China. Published by The Jamestown Foundation and authored by Beijing-banned academic Adrian Zenz, the report concluded, “Xinjiang currently operates the world’s largest system of state-imposed forced labor.” The atrocities that the Chinese Communist Party perpetrates against members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang have come to light in recent years, including mass imprisonment of more than 1 million civilians, forced sterilization, separation of children from their families, torture, abuse, restrictions on religious freedom, and forced labor. While most of China is composed of the Han ethnic group, more than half of the population of the northwestern region of Xinjiang consists of ethnic minorities (predominately Muslim Uyghurs) – who the Party has long sought to control. In 2021, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo determined that the Chinese Communist Party was committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang – a determination that Secretary of State Antony Blinken upheld.  Though the horrific methods the Party wields to subjugate these minority groups vary, the objective remains the same. “It’s a strategy of control and assimilation,” Zenz told The New Yorker. “And it’s designed to eliminate Uyghur culture.” Forced labor systems in Xinjiang – punishable by detention for non-compliance – are a key part of removing resistance and opposition to the CCP’s absolute authority and power. In his report, Zenz pointed to two dominant systems used to target Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang. In one system, detainees in China’s infamous re-education camps received coercive skills training before receiving coercive work placement. Detainees who were viewed as less problematic received a sentence of forced labor, while others, such as prominent business and intellectual figures, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Though it appears this system is no longer active, Zenz noted that the Chinese Communist Party is instead expanding its “Poverty Alleviation Through Labor Transfer” program. Zenz described this policy as “a non-internment state-imposed forced labor mobilization system.” A Chinese academic research report, the Nankai Report, described the re-education camps as a “drastic short-term measure” and the labor transfers as a long-term “method to reform, meld and assimilate” Uyghurs. But the bottom line is clear. “Xinjiang’s recent policy changes have rendered forced labor less visible and more challenging to conceptualize,” Zenz wrote. “Uyghur forced labor is becoming both more prevalent and more insidious.” The United States must take notice of these findings that disguise coerced labor as voluntary. In 2021, Congress passed into law the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The law prohibits goods made by the Chinese Communist Party’s forced labor programs from entering the U.S. market. However, numerous products tied to slave labor continue to evade legal protections and arrive in American households. Chairman of the House Select Committee on the CCP Rep. Mike Gallagher and Ranking Member Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi wrote a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas that outlined some of the key challenges to effectively enforcing this consequential law. First, the members wrote, “Companies transfer forced laborers from [Xinjiang] to other regions in the People’s Republic of China, complicating [U.S. Department of Homeland Security] enforcement of the presumptive ban on forced labor products from [Xinjiang].” Additionally, “A second factor undermining enforcement of the [law] is Beijing’s increased transshipment of forced labor products to the United States through third countries.” Last week, to further augment and strengthen U.S. efforts in the fight against human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan and bicameral Uyghur Policy Act. This legislation, led by Rep. Young Kim, will authorize the State Department to appoint a Special Coordinator for Uyghur issues, direct the U.S. Agency for Global Media to distribute information on Uyghur genocide, and authorize support for Uyghur human rights activists. As the Chinese Communist Party continues to target Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in China, the United States must strengthen the enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and resolve to pass the Uyghur Policy Act into law. For more commentary from Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich, visit Gingrich360.com. Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 23:40
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[l] at 2/27/24 9:28pm
Trump Scores 6th Straight Primary Win With Triumph Over Haley In Michigan By Nathan Worcester of Epoch Times Former President Donald J. Trump has soundly defeated former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in Michigan’s Feb. 27 Republican presidential primary, notching his sixth-straight primary victory as he marches towards the GOP nomination. The Associated Press called the race for Trump right after the last polls closed at 9 p.m. ET. The result is another blow to Ms. Haley, coming days after a double-digit defeat in her home state of South Carolina. Despite this, she has vowed to stay on through Super Tuesday on March 5, when numerous delegate-heavy states will hold their primaries. Ms. Haley campaigned in Michigan on Sunday and Monday and was in Colorado on Feb. 27, part of a multi-day tour ahead of Super Tuesday. The former United Nations ambassador faces very challenging delegate math as Super Tuesday approaches, suggesting her time in the race is finite. pic.twitter.com/kVRULMMBgO — Edward (@edwardrussl) February 28, 2024 While 16 Michigan delegates to the Republican National Convention were allocated based on the primary results, the majority—39—of the state’s 55 delegates will be awarded as a result of caucusing on March 2. The main event will be in Grand Rapids, where former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) will oversee a convention at which party insiders will vote on how to divvy up the remaining delegates. Yet, while Mr. Hoekstra has the backing of President Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC), his accession to leader of the Michigan GOP has not been universally recognized by Republicans in the state. Many in the party maintain that Kristina Karamo was improperly removed from her role as state GOP chairwoman. She’s staging her own convention in Detroit. An ongoing lawsuit against Ms. Karamo could end the standoff before March 2. On election day itself, the judge in the case ruled that her ouster from the leadership role was legal. Meanwhile, President Biden handily won the Democratic presidential primary in the state, garnering 78.6 percent of the vote. But a campaign from Israel-Gaza ceasefire activists to get Democrats to select “uncommitted” from the ballot in that primary got some results. Sixteen percent of votes were for the “uncommitted” option, signaling dissension in Democratic ranks over the Middle Eastern conflict. While Israel-Gaza is an electoral sore point for everywhere, it’s particularly sensitive in Michigan, which has large Arab Christian and Arab Muslim communities. Former Rep. Justin Amash (L-Mich.), an Arab Christian and former Republican who has recently emerged as a critic of President Biden after supporting President Trump’s first impeachment while in office, recently mourned the death of his second cousin George as a result of an Israeli airstrike on the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza. Michiganders Back Trump President Trump’s supporters in the state include Joe Bancroft, who was leaving a polling place at a library in Delta Charter Township when he spoke with The Epoch Times. “He’s not a perfect person. Okay. And he is a strong person. And he’s rough around the edges. But here’s the thing. Who do you want to lead this country?” he said. His wife, by contrast, voted for President Biden. “Hell no,” she said when asked if she had voted for President Trump. At an early voting site in Southgate, Michigan, downriver from Detroit, the Sikorskis—Douglas and his wife Sandy—formed a united front for President Trump. “The RNC should be devoting all the funds to President Trump,” Mr. Sikorski told The Epoch Times on Feb. 25, the last day of early voting. When asked if that priority could hinder important spending on other Republican races, the couple clarified that they felt the RNC could be trusted to use its resources more intelligently under new leadership—"Now that Ronna Romney [McDaniel]’s out,” Ms. Sikorski said. Ms. Romney McDaniel announced her resignation as RNC chairwoman on Feb. 26, saying she would leave after Super Tuesday. President Trump has endorsed Michael Whatley, chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, as Ms. Romney McDaniel’s replacement. He hopes to replace RNC co-chair Drew McKissick, who is also resigning, with his daughter-in-law Lara Trump. Continue reading at the Epoch Times Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 23:28
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[l] at 2/27/24 9:20pm
Women CEOs Outnumber Johns In 2015, an article in the New York Times highlighted the distinct absence of women at the helm of major U.S. companies, using a methodology that was, to say the least, out of the ordinary: at the time, there were fewer women CEOs of major companies in the country than men with the first name John. In fact, there were four times as many men with the first names John, Robert, William and James as there were women. Good news? Not anymore. As Statista's Anna Fleck reports, according to the U.S. financial group Bloomberg, which analyzed the CEOs of the S&P 500 companies, women outnumbered all male first names for the first time in 2017, but were tied with CEOs named James two years on. It was only last year, when ten new women joined the ranks of S&P 500 CEOs, that they widened the gap. You will find more infographics at Statista A small victory, then, for the place of women among top executives, but one that needs to be put into perspective, since there are still only 41 women in this position. Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 23:20
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[l] at 2/27/24 9:00pm
Majority Of Americans Now Back Trump-Style Border Wall: Poll Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Illegal immigration has become a key concern of voters this election year, with a new poll showing that, for the first time in the survey’s history, a majority of Americans support building a wall along the U.S.–Mexico border. President Donald Trump inspects border wall prototypes in San Diego on Mar. 13, 2018. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images) With record numbers of illegal immigrants pouring into the country, public concern about the border crisis is higher during President Joe Biden’s term than under the prior two administrations, according to a Monmouth University poll released on Feb. 26. More than six in 10 Americans think illegal immigration is a “very serious” problem, a sharp increase from 2015 and 2019, when prior Monmouth polls found that 43 percent and 49 percent, respectively, held that view. When adding people who think illegal immigration is a somewhat serious problem (23 percent), the percentage of Americans who are concerned about the border crisis stands at 84 percent. “Illegal immigration has taken center stage as a defining issue this presidential election year,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement. It’s estimated that more than 10 million illegal immigrants have crossed the border since President Biden took office. Support Soars for Border Wall Concern about illegal immigration is so high, in fact, that for the first time since Monmouth began asking Americans for their views on the matter in 2015, a majority (58 percent) of the public supports building a border wall. Before the current poll, the highest percentage of Americans who supported a border wall was 48 percent (in 2015); the lowest was 35 percent (in 2017). Another notable finding is that a strong majority (61 percent) of Americans say that immigrants seeking asylum at the border should be made to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed. The border wall was former President Donald Trump’s signature project, and Republicans have credited his “Remain in Mexico” policy—a centerpiece of border enforcement during his tenure but canceled by President Biden—with reducing the influx of illegal immigrants into the country. Roughly 450 miles of the larger border wall were built when President Trump was in office, a project that President Biden criticized. An internal Department of Homeland Security memo found that physical barriers are the most cost-effective tool to deter illegal border-crossing activity. President Biden has taken a dim view of his predecessor’s vision for a grand barrier, pledging while still a presidential candidate in 2020 that there wouldn’t be “another foot of wall constructed” in his administration. On the day he took office, President Biden issued a proclamation that rescinded the national emergency declaration that President Trump had relied on to divert some $10 billion from Pentagon coffers to border wall construction. The Biden administration later quietly auctioned off millions of dollars of border wall materials, for which it faced sharp criticism from Republicans. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the reported death of Alexei Navalny from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on Feb. 16, 2024. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) Although concern about illegal immigration has risen the most among Republicans (91 percent said it’s very serious), all voter groups have grown more worried about the border crisis, the Monmouth poll showed. In a potential blow to President Biden’s chances at reelection, 58 percent of independents said illegal immigration is a very serious problem, up from a little more than 40 percent who said the same thing in 2015 and 2019. State-Level Border Wall Efforts Shortly after taking office, President Biden signed an executive order scrapping federal construction of the border wall. In a proclamation on Jan. 20, 2021, he called the wall a “waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.” Following President Biden’s decision to scrap the wall, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, announced he would seek funding for his state to build its own border barrier, which came as the influx of illegal immigrants into Texas swelled to near-record proportions. In December 2021, Texas officially started building its own state-funded border wall. At the time, Mr. Abbott alleged that President Biden “refuses to enforce laws passed by Congress to secure the border and enforce immigration laws” and so “Texas is stepping up to do the federal government’s job.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (C) speaks at a press conference at the state capitol in Austin, Texas, on June 16, 2021. (Mei Zhong/The Epoch Times) Recently, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem ordered the state’s National Guard troops to help Texas with border wall construction. “The border in a warzone, so we’re sending soldiers,” Ms. Noem, a Republican, said in a Feb. 20 statement. South Dakota was the first state to deploy National Guard troops in response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s call 2 1/2 years ago for help securing the border. In October 2023, the Biden administration waived 26 federal laws in south Texas to allow for the construction of another 20 miles of border wall. At the time, President Biden explained that the reason for resuming border wall construction was that the money had already been appropriated and attempts to redirect the funds to other projects failed. “There’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated for. I can’t stop that,” President Biden said at the time. Asked by reporters whether he thought the border wall was effective, he replied, “No.” Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 23:00
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[l] at 2/27/24 8:40pm
These Are The Median Down-Payments For A House In Each US State Since housing costs vary across U.S. states, so too does the income required to buy a house, and the down payment associated with the purchase. But how much does the median value change per state? Creator Julie Peasley, via Visual Capitalist, maps the median down payment on a single-family home by U.S. state, using data from Realtor.com, accessed through Bankrate, a publisher and rate comparison service focused on the banking industry. Importantly, a “single-family home” is legally defined as a “structure used as a single-dwelling unit,” which includes: No common walls Built on its own parcel of land Private entrance/exit One set of utilities Single kitchen This means actual house square footage will vary within and across the states, affecting the median prices and down payments in this data. The Data: Median Down Payments by State The top three priciest places for down payments are tied for number one: Washington D.C., Florida, and Hawaii, at a whopping $98,670. Rank U.S. State Median Down Payment Average Down Payment Percentage 1 Florida $98,670 17.0% 2 Hawaii $98,670 17.0% 3 Washington, D.C. $98,670 20.9% 4 Washington $86,752 28.6% 5 California $84,244 18.4% 6 Massachusetts $79,206 18.9% 7 Colorado $75,304 18.5% 8 Montana $72,833 21.0% 9 New Jersey $71,547 18.0% 10 New Hampshire $71,500 20.0% 11 Idaho $64,985 20.2% 12 Oregon $55,015 17.3% 13 New York $50,843 17.0% 14 Vermont $48,534 17.5% 15 Connecticut $47,342 18.6% 16 Rhode Island $45,285 16.6% 17 Utah $43,488 16.4% 18 Delaware $40,412 17.0% 19 Minnesota $38,500 16.1% 20 South Dakota $37,630 16.8% 21 Georgia $35,572 15.9% 22 Arizona $34,072 15.4% 23 Nevada $33,306 15.0% 24 Wyoming $32,389 16.0% 25 North Carolina $31,867 14.5% 26 Virginia $29,704 13.5% 27 Nebraska $29,617 15.4% 28 Wisconsin $28,333 15.0% 29 Illinois $27,348 14.3% 30 Iowa $26,461 15.5% 31 Tennessee $25,969 14.6% 32 Maryland $25,723 11.9% 33 Pennsylvania $25,402 13.8% 34 North Dakota $24,543 15.0% 35 South Carolina $24,357 15.1% 36 Michigan $23,153 14.2% 37 Alaska $21,354 12.2% 38 Texas $18,780 12.2% 39 Kansas $18,325 13.1% 40 Missouri $17,832 12.9% 41 New Mexico $17,576 12.6% 42 Kentucky $17,548 13.4% 43 Maine $17,548 16.0% 44 Indiana $17,477 12.6% 45 Ohio $15,044 12.3% 46 Oklahoma $13,177 12.3% 47 Arkansas $11,996 11.8% 48 Alabama $8,788 10.7% 49 West Virginia $6,611 9.2% 50 Louisiana $6,470 9.2% 51 Mississippi $5,814 9.3% N/A National $31,500 15.0% Note: Current as of Q3, 2023. Ranked 4th and 5th are Washington State and California, requiring median down payments in the mid-$80,000s. Unsurprisingly the median down payment patterns follow how expensive housing is in that particular state, which in itself is a reflection of jobs, income, population, amenities, and the desirability of the location. By looking at the median, it also cuts out the “high end” that would skew the average (mean) payment higher. At the bottom of the list, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Mississippi all average less than $10,000 in median down payments. However looking at the percentage of the total value put down as a down payment in those states (10%) indicates homebuyers there tend to have longer repayment plans. This is in contrast to the median down payment in Washington, which is close to one-third of the total house value. Work From Home and U.S. Real Estate The U.S. housing market has seen quite an upheaval in the last few years. Between December 2019 and November 2021, house prices rose nearly 24%, the fastest rate on record. Research found that areas that were more exposed to remote work experienced higher price growth. Following the trend of skyrocketing house prices, the national average for down payments has also more than doubled from $13,250 in Q1 2020 to $31,500 in Q3, 2023, per earlier linked Bankrate data. Rents have also climbed significantly, pricing many young adults out of moving out of their parents homes, which in turn has fueled luxury spending with more disposable income. On the other hand, the commercial real estate market has struggled with falling demand and higher interest rates, putting downward pressure on prices in the sector. Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 22:40
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[l] at 2/27/24 8:20pm
Will New Gavin Newsom Recall Effort Backfire Again? Authored by Susan Crabtree viaRealClear Wire, Conservative activists in California hope the seventh time is a charm when it comes to recalling Gavin Newsom. The governor, they say, is focused on serving as a top surrogate for President Biden and raising a national profile for his own presidential run while neglecting the state’s deep budget deficit, rising crime rate, persistent homelessness, and sky-high cost-of-living – factors driving an exodus of people and businesses to other states. But their latest effort to oust Newsom after so many failed attempts isn’t stoking the same fears among Democrats as in the past, and even some Republicans are worried the partisan effort will blow up in their faces. It has the potential, some GOP operatives caution, to overshadow waning support for progressive policies in San Francisco and elsewhere while galvanizing Democrats and big donors behind the term-limited but politically ambitious governor. Democrats argue that the latest recall effort is an obvious attempt to blunt presumed Newsom’s White House aspirations by showing that there’s a backlash against him resurfacing at home. But far from a big cloud hanging over his head, top California Democratic strategists are casting it as little more than an annoyance. “I don’t think it even merits a cloud – maybe a little bit of fog or haze,” Steve Maviglio told RealClearPolitics Monday. Maviglio served as the press secretary for former California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat who, in 2003, became the state’s second top executive to be recalled. Republicans are so outnumbered by Democrats in California that one of their only political weapons is a recall petition. “They can either howl at the moon, or they can file a recall petition – those are their two choices,” said Garry South, a longtime Democratic strategist who managed Davis’ successful campaigns in 1998 and 2002. Some Republican political players across the state are also disheartened by the tired feel of the repeated long-shot effort. “I would much rather focus on the legislative and [federal and local] races where we could win, but they seem to want flashy politicking, not the hard work of retail politics,” one conservative activist told RCP. The California Republican Party provided $125,000 for the 2021 recall effort but sidestepped questions on Monday about whether it would support it this year. “We are eight days out from our March 5 primary and several weeks into pre-election voting,” California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement. “While Gavin Newsom has been an absolute disaster for our state – from accruing a record $73 billion budget deficit to hosting the nation’s largest homeless population to flatlining the quality of our schools and allowing criminals to thrive – the CAGOP’s attention is on turning out the vote in the primary election and supporting our endorsed candidates who can fix our broken state.” Newsom wasted no time connecting the recall to Trump, confidently predicting it would go down in flames. “Trump Republicans are launching another wasteful recall campaign to distract us from the existential fight for democracy and reproductive freedom,” he tweeted Monday. “We will defeat them.” Newsom triumphed over a 2021 recall that made it on the ballot and was organized by the same conservative activists. The first-term governor overwhelmingly defeated the effort to oust him after a jittery summer in which polls predicted the race as a dead heat. After Newsom was fortified by nearly $75 million in unlimited campaign donations from his committees and allies, he sailed to victory over Republican talk-radio host Larry Elder. The deep blue state’s Democratic voters showed up for Newsom in droves, with 61.9% voting to keep Newsom and only 38.1% voting to remove him. It was essentially the same margin he won by in his first campaign for governor against businessman John Cox in 2018. After the failed recall, Newsom’s support dipped only slightly. He came back in 2022 to win a second term by 59.2% to 40.8% against state Senator Brian Dahle. Newsom beat back the 2021 recall so strongly it only strengthened his reelection and bolstered his political ambitions, South argued. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris stumped with Newsom in the final days before the election. Former President Barack Obama cut a television ad, deeming the election a “matter of life and death” – the difference between “protecting kids from COVID or putting them at risk, helping Californians recover or taking them backward.” Newsom hadn’t benefited from that level of Democratic star power since former President Bill Clinton flew in for a last-minute rally when polls showed his 2003 race for San Francisco mayor against a Green Party candidate much tighter than expected. During his 2021 recall victory remarks, Newsom twice said he was “humbled” by the experience. But he also viewed the landslide as a validation of his strict COVID policies and efforts to lean into the country’s culture wars and hinted at his long-held White House ambitions. “We are enjoying an overwhelming ‘no’ vote tonight here in the state of California,” Newsom told a crowd of cheering supporters gathered in Sacramento to view the recall returns. “But ‘no’ was not the only thing that was expressed tonight. I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state. We said ‘yes’ to science, ‘yes’ to vaccines, we said ‘yes’ to ending the pandemic.” “We said ‘yes’ to diversity, we said ‘yes’ to inclusion, we said ‘yes’ to pluralism,” he declared. “We said ‘yes’ to those things that we hold dear as Californians, and I would argue, as Americans.” Recall organizers, led by Rescue California, acknowledge that Newsom was emboldened by beating the recall, but insist that it should have motivated him to focus his attention  on fixing California’s problems instead of skewering red states and serving as a star surrogate for Biden. Half the state’s voters seem to agree. Last fall, when Newsom was amplifying his national profile, his standing among California voters hit an all-time low, with 49% disapproving of his job as governor, a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies/Los Angeles Times poll found. His approval rating in the late October poll fell to 44%, an 11-point slide from February when 55% of voters approved his performance. “He’s using California taxpayer money to fly around the country and the world to support a national political agenda for president when he’s not even qualified, at this point, to run the state of California as the deficit numbers approach $100 billion,” Ann Dunsmore, Rescue California’s campaign director, told RCP. Dunsmore also points out that Newsom will have little choice but to raise taxes to reduce the deficit because the state Constitution prohibits the government from declaring bankruptcy without voter approval. Right now, Newsom is backing a proposition calling for $6 billion in new spending to curb homelessness after the state has spent more than $20 billion on the issue during his time in office while the problem grew worse. In early January, Newsom and Democrats who run the state legislature also ushered in new health insurance payments for all illegal immigrants. Newsom this week continued taking the fight to conservative states, unveiling a six-figure ad campaign and online petition effort in several Republican-controlled states that he said are trying to ban out-of-state travel for abortions and related medications. Newsom paid for the ads with a national political action committee he launched last year with $10 million from leftover state campaign funds. Crime and cost of living are driving more and more businesses from the state, Dunsmore said, “and now Newsom’s coming out with an abortion ad?” “Right now, people are trying to make ends meet, and it’s getting worse, not better,” she said. “Our tax base is gone. Just how out of touch is he?” Recall petitions can be launched easily in California, but they face formidable hurdles. This one would require signatures equal to 12% of the turnout in the last election – roughly 1.31 million verified signatures. Dunsmore won’t say how much Rescue California, which successfully led the effort to recall Davis in 2003, plans to spend on the effort. The 2021 recall required 1.5 million signatures, which it exceeded by 126,000. It cost organizers roughly $8 million, a fraction of the $78 million Newsom amassed to fight it. This year, however, Dunsmore says they don’t plan to use costly paid signature-gatherers posted outside shopping centers. Instead, she said her organization and its partners already have the infrastructure in place – supporters’ physical addresses and emails – from the last effort. Garry South, however, cautions that the 2021 recall only went forward after an unprecedented four-month extension for signature-gathering. A judge appointed by GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved the rare extension to compensate for COVID lockdowns when signature-gathering was far more difficult. “That’s never happened before in a recall election in California,” South said, adding that there’s “no way” recall organizers will amass the required signatures with an all-volunteer effort. The 2003 recall effort against Gov. Gray Davis got a boost when wealthy GOP Rep. Darrell Issa poured $2 million of his own money into signature-gathering efforts because he was aiming to become governor. But Schwarzenegger, a blockbuster Hollywood actor, stepped into the race and won it, thwarting Issa’s political ambitions. Even Davis’ low poll numbers didn’t stop him from winning election in 2002. On Election Day in 2002, South recalls that Davis’ approval rating was only 22%, and he still won with 47.4% of the vote to the GOP candidate Bill Simon’s 42.4%. “Newsom beat the recall with nearly 62% of the vote and then was reelected to a second term with 59%,” South said. “Those are not the metrics of someone who is going to be recalled.” Susan Crabtree is RealClearPolitics' national political correspondent. Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 22:20
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[l] at 2/27/24 8:00pm
Yen Doesn't Buy The BOJ Narrative Just Yet, But It Will By Ven Ram, Bloomberg markets live reporter and strategist There seems to be growing conviction that Japan will exit negative rates in possibly just a couple of months, though the currency markets are underpricing that prospect. Earlier Tuesday, data for January inflation showed not only faster-than-forecast headline numbers but also a core-core reading above 3% for a 13th straight month. The prints may convince the Bank of Japan that the sustainable inflation that it has long sought is here. Little wonder that overnight indexed swaps, which were assigning some 60% chance of a 10-basis point move from the BOJ in April, now reckon the probability is more like 80%. The yen, though, hasn’t come to the party at all. Since the start of the year, the currency has slumped more than 6% against the dollar. That decline isn’t what is indicated by fundamentals, with the yen’s weakness looking completely out of sync with what ought to have happened. A major part of what has happened with the yen is actually a dollar story. Fed fund futures, which were pricing a little more than three interest-rate cuts from the US central bank by June, are now wondering if policymakers will even deliver a single reduction by then. That has pushed up nominal and inflation-adjusted rates, sending the dollar far higher than reckoned.   There is also seasonality at play. The yen has weakened in four of the past five first quarters, except when the pandemic first struck the markets in 2020 and spurred investors to scramble for havens.   The Japanese currency is exceptionally undervalued at current levels, with its real-effective exchange rate near the cheapest it has ever been in history. Once the BOJ exits negative rates, expectations are that it will raise rates further and buoy the yen, although Japan won’t see any tightening anywhere on the scale that we have seen in in the other major economies as colleague Mark Cranfield notes.   The tide will turn decisively in favor of the yen whenever it becomes abundantly clear that inflation in the US is slowing to a crawl — allowing the Fed to cut rates as outlined in its December dot plot. Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 22:00
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[l] at 2/27/24 7:40pm
The General Election Begins: Gingrich Authored by Newt Gingrich via RealClear Wire, The New York Times called President Donald Trump’s victory in South Carolina on Saturday a “crushing home state loss” for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. For once, the New York Times was right. A 59.8 percent to 39.5 percent popular vote victory (and a 47 to three delegate count) is crushing. In the first five primary contests, President Trump has won 110 delegates and Haley has won 20. Importantly, these were her best states. If she can’t beat Trump in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, she can’t beat him anywhere. The Koch fundraising system apparently reached the same conclusion and announced Sunday it was no longer going to fund the Haley campaign. The best thing Haley could do is gracefully drop out and endorse Trump as preferable to Biden. The longer she stays in the race, the more she will alienate most Republicans. Any notion that she is staying in so the party could turn to her if something happened to President Trump is delusional. In Nevada, Haley lost by 63.2 percent to 30.7 percent to “None of these candidates” (a term Nevada permits). If anything happened to President Trump, there is no possibility the delegates would turn to Haley. They would back virtually anyone against the anti-Trump candidate. Every day she stays in the race makes Trump’s supporters more hostile toward her. Haley is also an impossible choice for the No Labels ticket because she has alienated so many Republicans. So, the time has come to focus on the general election. Gallup’s recent polls set the stage for a Joe Biden defeat comparable to the repudiation of President Jimmy Carter in 1980 (when Ronald Reagan won the largest electoral majority against an incumbent president in American history). Consider the hole the Biden presidency is in according to Gallup. Only 38 percent approve of the job President Biden is doing, and 59 percent disapprove. Only 40 percent approve of his effort to help Ukraine, while 53 percent disapprove. The Biden administration’s economic program (so-called Bidenomics) is at 36 percent approval. Sixty-one percent disapprove of it. On foreign affairs in general, Biden is at 33 percent approval and 62 percent disapproval. On his handling of the Middle East – and especially the Israeli-Palestinian war – 30 percent approve to 62 percent disapprove. Finally, on immigration, only 28 percent approve of his performance and 67 percent disapprove (and this was before Venezuelan illegal immigrant Jose Antonio Ibarra was charged with killing nursing student Laken Riley at the University of Georgia). When your basic support on performance runs from 28 percent to 40 percent – and your disapproval runs from 53 percent to 67 percent – you are a candidate in deep trouble. It is going to take a lot more than good advertising for Biden to get re-elected. The collapse in support for President Biden’s policies is reflected in other national polling data. According to the Real Clear Politics average, President Trump leads 46.7 percent to 44.8 percent. If there are five candidates splitting the vote, President Trump leads with 41.5 percent while President Biden drops to 36.8 percent. Key swing states reflect the same advantage for President Trump. Michigan is Trump 46.7 percent to Biden 42.1 percent (Trump up by 4.6 percent). Georgia is Trump 48.5 percent to Biden 41.7 percent (a 6.8 Trump advantage leaving no margin for manipulation by Fani Willis’ friends). Nevada is Trump 48.7 percent to Biden 40.3 percent (Trump by 8.4 percent). Arizona is Trump 47 percent to Biden 42.3 percent (Trump by 4.7). Every indicator points to the opportunity for President Trump to win by a margin big enough to help elect a Republican Senate and expand the Republican majority in the House. Of course, if Biden collapses (as President Carter or Sen. George McGovern did) 2024 could turn into a rout of historic proportions. The next stage will be for President Trump to campaign in all 50 states – and in every major city. There is a real opportunity to offer a vision of a dramatically better future for all Americans. Just as candidate Reagan had a handful of themes in 1980, President Trump can focus on safety, prosperity, affordability, and American patriotism to build a huge majority. Americans want to be safe at home and abroad. Biden is failing on both fronts. Americans want an economy that is prosperous and affordable. Biden is failing on both fronts. Most Americans want a restored and reinvigorated American patriotism. Biden’s attitudes and policies reflect opposite values. The left knows it is in deep trouble and may not be able to defeat President Trump. That is why the liberal elites are destroying the rule of law and replacing it with a level of judicial corruption unlike anything we have ever seen in America. However, the effort to destroy Trump through judicial warfare is becoming grotesque, unreasonable, and indefensible. It may end up helping Trump and hurting Biden. If every citizen votes, this will be an historic moment in America – and could renew our civilization for a generation. If not, America could have a hard road ahead. For more commentary from Newt Gingrich, visit Gingrich360.com. Also, subscribe to the Newt’s World podcast. Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 21:40
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[l] at 2/27/24 7:20pm
We're Gonna Need Another Pandemic!! Zoom Video Communications, the company that rose to fame during the early days of the pandemic, ended fiscal 2024 on a strong note, reporting results for its fourth fiscal quarter ended January 31 that beat analyst expectations on the top and bottom line. Adjusted earnings per share were up 16 percent year-over-year while total revenue and enterprise revenue increased 3 and 5 percent, respectively. That’s still a far cry from the growth figures Zoom posted during the pandemic, when the company saw its revenue grow manifold in a matter of months. The end of working-from-home requirements and subsequent return to offices as well as stiff competition from Microsoft Teams, Cisco’s Webex and Salesforce’s Slack have brought the former pandemic high-flyer back to earth. However, as Statista's Felx Richter details below, Zoom isn’t the only pandemic winner struggling to maintain its momentum in the post-pandemic world. Other companies that soared under the special circumstances created by Covid-19 have also come crashing down over the past two years, as normal life gradually returned. Home fitness company Peloton and DIY marketplace Etsy, which profited from a large volume of mask sales on its platform during the pandemic, are two such examples, along with vaccine maker Moderna and DocuSign, a company that allows companies to manage agreements electronically. You will find more infographics at Statista As the chart above shows, all of these companies saw their stock price surge during the Covid crisis, but all of them have fallen more than 75 percent from their peak pandemic valuation. $1,000 invested in Moderna shares on March 11, 2020, the day the WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic, would have appreciated to more than $20,000 by August 2021 and would still be worth almost $4,000 today. Investors who bought shares of DocuSign, Zoom or Peloton at the onset of the pandemic and held on to them until now are suffering from a severe pandemic hangover, though, as the shares of these companies are now worth (significantly) less than they were in March 2020. "We're gonna need bigger pandemic!!" Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 21:20
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[l] at 2/27/24 7:18pm
OPEC+ Could Extend Oil Output Cuts Through Year End By Julianne Geiger of OilPrice.com OPEC+’s voluntary production cuts that were set to expire at the end of the first quarter could be extended through the end of the year, three OPEC+ sources told Reuters on Tuesday. Crude oil prices jumped with the news from three anonymous OPEC+ sources who spoke to Reuters, indicating that OPEC+ was considering an extension of its voluntary production cuts into the second quarter to lend further support to the market. What’s more, the sources suggested that the group could keep the voluntary cuts in place through the end of this year. In fact, one of the OPEC+ sources said that the cut extension into the second quarter was “likely”. Neither OPEC nor Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry responded to Reuters’ request for comments. Oil prices were trading up more than 1% on the news in afternoon trading. But the oil industry was largely already betting on OPEC+ extending its oil production cuts beyond the first quarter and into the next, a Bloomberg survey showed last Friday. The anonymous survey predicted. According to industry watchers, OPEC+ would be forced to keep the oil off the market, with supply continuing to exceed demand. “OPEC+ have no choice but to extend the current cuts in order to avoid a meltdown,” Tamas Varga, analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd, said last week. OPEC+ members collectively decided to voluntarily cut 2.2 million bpd from the group’s production this quarter, although much of that was production cuts that were already in effect, including Saudi Arabia’s 1 million bpd voluntary cut. Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, has always left the door open to extending the cuts, saying as far back as December that the production cuts could extend beyond March should the market require it. Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 21:18
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[l] at 2/27/24 7:00pm
Argentina Oil Provinces Rebel Against Milei's Austerity Plan By Charles Kennedy of OilPrice.com Argentina’s oil-producing provinces have threatened to cut off oil supply to the rest of the country if the government of Javier Milei goes through with plans to withhold billions in federal tax revenues. "Not a drop of oil will come out on Wednesday if they don't respect the provinces once and for all and take their foot off our back," the governor of the southern Chubut province, Ignacio Torres, told a local TV channel, as quoted by AFP. The central government wants to withhold the equivalent of some $15.3 million from Chubut as a way of collecting on unpaid debt from that and 10 other provinces, as explained by Economy Minister Luis Caputo. In response to the threat, the Argentinian president took to X to slam the governor of Chubut and his peers for being “fiscal degenerates”. The spat prompted a local analyst to issue a warning that the president might have bitten off a larger piece than he could chew. "There is a rebellion in the provinces, and a mistaken assessment by Milei about the level of conflict," Artemio Lopez told AFP. He went on to explain that it was one thing for the president to lock horns with an unpopular parliament but provincial governors were a different sort of opponent. “Most of them got a higher percentage of the vote than he did in the last election," the analyst said.  Patagonia, in the southern part of Argentina, is the home of most of the country’s oil production, present and future. The Vaca Muerta shale play—the second largest in the world—is in the northern part of that region but state-owned YPF recently announced a shale oil and gas discovery in Chubut, which is about 1,000 miles south of the Vaca Muerta formation. At the moment, the Vaca Muerta accounts for about two-thirds of Argentina’s oil production. Investments in the play last year were expected to top $10.7 billion, which was an 18% increase from 2022. Tyler Durden Tue, 02/27/2024 - 21:00

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