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[l] at 3/3/24 3:30pm
Team Biden Braces For More 'Uncommitted' Protest Votes On Super Tuesday President Biden's path to the Democratic nomination could become one of serial humiliation. As Super Tuesday looms, Team Biden is hoping the embarrassment they endured in Michigan -- where more than 100,000 Democrats voted "uncommitted" as a form of protest -- isn't repeated in contests across the country.  Motivated largely by anger over Biden's handling of the Israel-Gaza war, Michigan's uncommitted drive exceeded organizers' expectations, with a hefty 13.3% of Democratic voters opting to repudiate the incumbent. The tally was large enough that two of the state's 117 delegates at the Democratic national convention will be free to vote as they please, though it seems likely that state party officials will pick Biden loyalists for the slots anyway.  Michigan's significant Muslim population led the effort, but disenchanted progressives and college students also played a key role -- and could do so again in upcoming primaries. “They’re absolutely not some voting bloc to take for granted,” leftist political consultant and former AOC confidante Corbin Trent tells the New York Post. "Biden is a general election threat to Democrats.” if you live in Minnesota, please join me in voting “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary on Tuesday to show Biden he must stop supporting Israel’s war on Gaza pic.twitter.com/uvxyPdGV7f — Nathan Goldman (@nathangoldman) March 1, 2024 Eight of the 16 Super Tuesday states have either an "uncommitted" or write-in option on the ballot: Alabama, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont, according to the Post. Given it's the home of the country's largest Somali population, Minnesota is a state where uncommitted votes are more likely make waves for the Biden-Harris campaign.    “A majority of us have voted for Biden before, but this time I don’t think we should vote for him,” 26-year-old Minnesotan Abdifatah Abdi told Associated Press. Abdi says he's thinking of voting for Trump, shrugging off the former president's Muslim immigration ban in pursuit of the better of two evils. "Trump may be for a ban. But what is worse, a ban or the killing?” More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than a million forced from their homes amid Israel's massive retaliation for the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of southern Israel. Defying global condemnation, the Biden administration has steadfastly stood by the Israeli government, to include not only arming and funding it, but vetoing United Nations resolutions calling for a ceasefire.  Colorado is another state to keep an eye on. Inspired by Tuesday's result in Michigan, the Colorado Palestine Coalition and Democratic Socialists of America launched a "Vote Noncommitted Colorado" drive on Wednesday. That's a very late start compared to Michigan's effort that spanned weeks. "We figured if there's a way to make some waves and let our discontent be known, we might as well," Grace Thorvilson tells Axios Denver.  A New York Times/Siena poll released over the weekend found that only 23% of Democratic voters are enthused about Biden, with 32% either dissatisfied or angry about having him atop the ticket.  Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 17:30
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[l] at 3/3/24 3:00pm
The Ministry Of AI Truth Authored by CJ Hopkins via The Consent Factory, Remember HAL, the homicidal Heuristically Programmed Algorithmic Computer from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey? Well, if you haven’t had the pleasure yet, let me introduce you to Gemini, Google’s “multimodal large language model.” Gemini hasn’t killed anyone yet — as far as I know, the liquidation of Gaza is being assisted by an Israeli AI called “the Gospel” — but it is certainly doing a bang-up job of assassinating people’s characters. I was prompted to play around with Gemini by Matt Taibbi’s recent piece reporting on how Gemini invented entire “Matt Taibbi articles” that Matt never wrote. Given the fact that I’ve been relentlessly censored and “visibility-filtered” for years by Google, Twitter, X, Facebook, Amazon, and Wikipedia, I figured I should probably give Gemini a go and see how I am being portrayed to potential readers who may have never heard of me. Here are screenshots of my chat with Gemini. I hope you’ll take the time to read them, and reflect on how our official “reality” is being manufactured by global corporations and their increasingly creepy algorithmic machines. I used myself as an example in this chat, but the subject could have been anyone, any writer, artist, or any other public figure. I omitted some of the repetitive boilerplate platitudes about Gemini’s noble intentions, but otherwise … well, here’s what happened. That answer seemed slightly imbalanced. So I probed … Gemini clearly wanted to focus on how “controversial” I am, so I went with that … OK, that was somewhat alarming, especially the part about how I’m “promoting conspiracy theories” and “contributing to societal division and undermining trust in credible sources.” This session was not going well for me at all. According to Gemini, in addition to “attacking the credibility of scientists, journalists, and public health officials,” I’ve been “eroding the public’s ability to discern fact from fiction” and “undermining trust” by “spreading misinformation.” I wasn’t aware I was doing that, so … Right. So, I tried it another way … And here comes my favorite part of the chat. I did not write any of the following “excerpts.” None of the above are actual quotes, neither the “excerpts,” nor the “quotes” in Gemini’s analysis. Gemini just made it all up. Right. I took a different tack … Yes, it appears, once again, that “mistakes were made” … but that’s OK, because Gemini is still “under development and learning.” And, after all, fabricating quotes (or, in Matt Taibbi’s case, entire articles) is an innocent “mistake” that anyone could make! I decided to get down to the nitty-gritty … And … Imagine my horror at being accused of “amplifying Russian perspectives.” Once again, I asked Gemini for specific examples. OK, how about examples of my “conspiracy theories” … Or any actual examples of any of the claims about me that Gemini is making … Wait … what? Widely contested? That wasn’t an answer, so I pressed on … And on … And on … And there you have it. If you’re into this stuff, try it out yourself with another controversial public figure. Just for fun. I mean, there’s no need to worry. Gemini is “still in development,” and it means well. I’m sure it will fix its “mistakes.” After all, it apologized, just like HAL did near the end of the movie … “I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.” Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 17:00
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[l] at 3/3/24 2:30pm
Lawyers Who Voided Musk's "Excessive" $56 Billion Pay-Plan Seek $6 Billion Worth Of Legal Fees In case you were wondering whether or not the lawyers challenging Elon Musk's pay plan were doing pro bono work on behalf of Tesla shareholders, that answer is starting to look like a resounding "no". That's because it was reported on Friday that the lawyers who voided the "excessive" $56 billion pay plan are seeking $6 billion in Tesla stock as compensation. After all, who would know better about excessive compensation? The fee works out to $288,888 per hour, a report from Reuters said. "We recognize that the requested fee is unprecedented in terms of absolute size," the three firms said in a filing at the Court of Chancery in Delaware. "This structure has the benefit of linking the award directly to the benefit created and avoids taking even one cent from the Tesla balance sheet to pay fees," they continued, saying the fee would be tax deductible for Tesla.  The reasoning for the excessive fee rests on the fact that the victory to void Musk's pay plan results in 266 million shares being returned to the company.  Needless to say, Elon Musk didn't stop to find the irony in the situation. "The lawyers who did nothing but damage Tesla want $6 billion. Criminal," Elon Musk fired back on X on Friday.  For comparison, Reuters noted that in a securities fraud case concerning Enron Corp.'s collapse, a legal team secured a $7.2 billion settlement in federal court, receiving a record fee of $688 million in 2008. Delaware courts have noted that legal battles that progress towards trial, involving extensive litigation efforts like depositions, warrant a higher recovery percentage due to the associated risks and efforts. This principle was applied in the trial over Elon Musk's compensation package, which spanned a week. Critics, however, argue for reducing attorneys' percentage fees as settlements and awards increase, to prevent excessive compensation. The legal team in Musk's case sought about 11% of the judgment, advocating for stock compensation free of selling restrictions. Recall on January 31, we wrote that the compensation case, which was launched by shareholder Richard Tornetta, argued that Tesla's board lacked independence in crafting Musk's pay, a view the judge supported. Delaware Chancery Court Chief Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick cited inadequate disclosures and board conflicts of interest in her ruling. Musk, whose wealth largely comes from Tesla, the top auto company globally, has seen stock options from this plan vest as performance goals were met, though he hasn't exercised them yet. The judge wrote: “In the final analysis, Musk launched a self-driving process, recalibrating the speed and direction along the way as he saw fit. The process arrived at an unfair price. And through this litigation, the plaintiff requests a recall.” “The most striking omission from the process is the absence of any evidence of adversarial negotiations between the Board and Musk concerning the size of the grant,” she said in her ruling. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 16:30
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[l] at 3/3/24 2:00pm
Letters Warn "You Cannot Keep Your Doctor" - Thousands Freaking Out By Mish Shedlock of MishTalk Does anyone recall the Obamacare promise “you can keep your doctor”. Up to 100,000 people might find out otherwise in one big bang. More are likely on deck. Freaking Out Patients are caught in the middle of contract disputes between hospitals and health insurers. As a result, people are Freaking Out. Letters Warn Patients They Risk Losing Their Doctor Patients are getting ominous warnings in their mail and inboxes: They are about to lose insurance coverage of their doctors. The threatening letters and emails have sent patients reeling. Unsure what to make of it all, they are flooding doctors with calls asking questions, snapping up appointments with the physicians and taking to social media to complain. Sparring in New York City are health insurers such as giants UnitedHealthcare and Aetna, which pay for medical care, and big-name hospital systems like NewYork-Presbyterian and Mount Sinai Health System seeking more money for the treatment provided by their doctors. NewYork-Presbyterian said the insurer has failed to offer enough. Aetna said the hospital system’s demands are unsupportable. Both declined to say what rate increases they are seeking. If hospitals and insurance companies fail to agree on a contract, patients can lose not only some or even all of their health plan’s coverage, but they may also pay a doctor’s higher, non-negotiated rates. The hospital system sought new terms because of rising labor costs and its analysis of newly public hospital pricing data indicated Mount Sinai wasn’t paid as well as its competitors, said Brent Estes, Mount Sinai’s chief managed-care officer.  UnitedHealthcare said Mount Sinai’s proposals would increase its rates by 43% to 58% over three to four years. “We continue to await a realistic proposal from Mount Sinai that’s affordable and sustainable for New Yorkers and employers,” the company said. As boomers get older demands for medical care services will explode. Percentage Change in Debt and Population In the last four years, the percentage increase in population was 3.0 percent. The percentage in crease in debt was 45.3 percent. Federal Debt vs Population 1992 vs Now In 1992, the federal debt was $4.027 trillion. The population was 192.805 million. At the end of 2023, federal debt was $32.690 trillion and the population was 266.942 million. Between 2019 and 2023, the federal debt rose by 45.3 percent. The population rose by 3.0 percent. Between 2007 and 2019, the federal debt rose by 105.3 0ercent. The population rose by 11.8 percent. The cost of healthcare is about to soar. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 16:00
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[l] at 3/3/24 1:30pm
These Are The Best And Worst Performing Assets Of February And YTD 2024 As DB's Henry Allen writes, February was another very strong month for risk assets, with many major world equity indices hitting fresh record highs. That included the S&P 500, which surpassed the 5,000 mark for the first time, as well as the Nikkei, which surpassed its previous record from 1989. In part, that was because of continued excitement around AI, and the Magnificent 7 posted their best performance in 9 months. However, with inflation still above target and surprising on the upside in the US, investors pushed out the timing of future rate cuts, and sovereign bonds lost further ground. In addition, US regional banks continued to struggle, as investor concerns persisted about commercial real estate. As for cryptocurrencies and bitcoin which soared almost 50% in February after the launch of bitcoin ETFs, well, don't get Elizabeth Warren started. Month in Review - The high-level macro overview February had several ongoing stories that were relevant for markets. 1. The first was that global data was still robust for the most part, and hopes for a soft landing continued. For instance, the US jobs report for January showed nonfarm payrolls up by +353k, along with positive revisions to the previous two months. Moreover, the ISM manufacturing print hit a 15-month high. But even as growth remained strong, there were further upside surprises on inflation, which raised fears that the path back to target was unlikely to be a smooth one, and raised questions as to whether the economy would face a “no landing”. In particular, the US core CPI print for January came in at a monthly +0.4%, which pushed the 3-month annualised rate for core CPI up to +4.0%. With inflation above target and growth remaining strong, that led investors to push out the timing of future rate cuts once again. At the Fed, futures moved from pricing 146bps of cuts by the December meeting, to 85bps, a reduction of 61bps over February. In addition, they pushed out the likely timing of the first rate cut to the June meeting. As a result, sovereign bond yields rose further, and US Treasuries (-1.4%) posted their worst monthly performance since September. Similarly in the Euro Area, investors reduced the expected cuts by December from 160bps to 91bps, and Euro sovereign bonds fell -1.2%. Lastly in Japan, expectations grew that the BoJ might end the negative interest rate policy as early as April, and yields on 2yr JGBs were up +9.7bps to 0.17%, marking their highest level since 2011. 2. The second important story was the ongoing excitement around AI, which led to a fresh outperformance from the Magnificent 7. They were up +12.1% in total return terms, which was their best monthly performance since May 2023, and Nvidia surged by a further +28.6%, which followed their strong earnings release towards the end of the month. That helped to power the overall S&P 500 (+5.3%) to a 4th consecutive monthly advance, although the rally continued to be a narrow one, with the equal-weighted S&P 500 up by a smaller +4.2% in February. 3. Third, the concerns about commercial real estate continued, particularly at the start of February. That came after New York Community Bancorp reported a loss on January 31 as they raised their expected loan losses on commercial real estate. This raised fears that the full consequences from higher interest rates are still yet to materialise, particularly give the amount of debt that needs refinancing over 2024 and 2025. For markets, it meant that US regional banks lost further ground, with the KBW Regional Banking Index down another -2.8%, bringing its YTD decline to -9.5%. New York Community Bancorp led those declines, with a -25.2% return in February, taking its YTD decline to -52.7%. Which assets saw the biggest gains in February? Equities: Excitement about AI and strong growth data helped global equities advance for a 4th consecutive month, with the S&P 500 (+5.3%) and the STOXX 600 (+2.0%) both rising. Asian indices saw the largest gains, with the Nikkei up +8.0%, and the Shanghai Comp (+8.1%) had its best monthly performance since November 2022. US Dollar : As investors pushed out the timing of future rate cuts, the dollar index rose for a second consecutive month, rising +0.9%. Moreover, the dollar strengthened against every G10 currency apart from the Swedish Krona. Oil : Despite the losses for other commodities, oil prices rose for a second consecutive month, with Brent crude up +2.3%, and WTI up +3.2%. Cryptocurrencies : It was a very strong month for cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin (+44.7%) seeing its best monthly performance since December 2020, ending the month at $61,431. Which assets saw the biggest losses in February? Sovereign Bonds : As investors pushed out the timing of rate cuts, sovereign bonds saw further losses. That included US Treasuries (-1.4%), Euro sovereigns (-1.2%) and gilts (-1.3%) Japanese Yen : The Japanese Yen weakened a further -2.0% against the US Dollar in February, leaving it as the worst-performing G10 currency on a YTD basis, having now weakened -6.0% since the start of the year. Commodities (except oil) : Several commodities saw significant declines in February. European natural gas was down -17.8%, marking a fourth consecutive monthly decline. Copper (-1.8%) also lost ground after three monthly gains, whilst agricultural goods including wheat (-3.0%), corn (-7.3%) and soybeans (-7.7%) fell back as well. Finally, here are the charts summarizing major asset performance in February in local currency and USD... ... and YTD. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 15:30
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[l] at 3/3/24 1:00pm
Another One? Trump-Hunter Letitia James Spent Thousands On Luxury Travel And All Sorts Of Other Malarkey While Georgia Trump prosecutor Fani Willis is embroiled in Fanigate - paying her boyfriend nearly $1 million to help her 'get Trump' while he flew the two of them on (allegedly 'cash' reimbursed) lavish vacations, New York AG Letitia James has been spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on all sorts of personal benefits, according to a recent analysis of a recent financial disclosure by X user "Mel" (@Villagecrazylady). The findings are damning. James spent more than $15,000 on luxury hotels in Puerto Rico, $20,000 per yea rin meals, $7,000 dropped at a NYC nightclub that was billed as an "office," and $84,000 in airfare to fly all over the country. Then there’s the airfare. In the 5 years she’s been the New York State AG, James’ has spent over $84,000 on airfare to fly herself all over the country. This includes private jet rentals. pic.twitter.com/jihZzOALgO — Mel (@Villgecrazylady) February 27, 2024 She also stayed at the Beverly Hills Wilshire, and claimed $65,000 in "reimbursements" to "campaign consultants," which as X user Jim Weed notes, "could literally be anything." Speaking of campaign consultants, can anyone tell me why a state Attorney General would need to spend over $300,000 in a single year (2023) on campaign consultants when she *just* won re-election the previous November? What could she possibly be consulting on? Furthermore, why do these million-dollar “campaign consultancy firms” always seem to be run out of random 2-bedroom apartments? To be clear, Ms. James isn’t breaking the law with her expenditures. But considering the high bar she set for Trump in his civil fraud case, it’s more than a little galling that she plays so fast and loose with what she deems to be “legitimate campaign expenses.” -@JimBobW49 James also spent thousands at the '48 Lounge' in NYC as a 'fundraising' expense, a venue which claims to provide a "luxurious and intimate atmosphere." Then there’s thousands spent on Ubers and Lyfts. Tens of thousands spent on “office” at everywhere from Target to BJ’s wholesale. Over $7,000 dropped at a nightclub in NYC and billed as “office.” pic.twitter.com/lWswXt5IyQ — Mel (@Villgecrazylady) February 27, 2024 Continues: So you might be wondering, where does all this money come from? Well here’s where things get interesting. Because it appears our holier than thou Attorney General, Ms. James, has gotten herself wrapped up in the ghost donor scam. — Mel (@Villgecrazylady) February 27, 2024 Ghost Donors? It appears Attorney General Ms. James is wrapped up in the ghost donor scam. You may think that ghost donor bots were just operating at the federal level, but this investigation revealed how big it is at the state level. Here’s a list of  Ms. James’ total donations and their corresponding receipts by year. Does anything jump out at you? Obviously, 2022 is off the charts. Over 32,500 receipts, and over 62% are from out of state. Who the heck donates to an Attorney General, running in a totally safe seat in a whole other state?! Answer: Ghost donors. What are ghost donors? Ghost donors (sometimes called “smurfs”) are sophisticated bot programs that use the names and addresses of real Americans to make donations to political campaigns. This allows the people running the programs to circumvent campaign finance laws. The donations are made in thousands of small-dollar increments that are easily looked over on cursory review. -America Out Loud As Mel concludes: "So to recap: we’ve got unknown entities funding our state and federal elections and everywhere you turn there’s a sleazy politician using this tainted campaign money to fund their extravagant lifestyles." Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 15:00
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[l] at 3/3/24 12:00pm
"We Definitely Messed Up": Google Co-Founder Addresses Woke Gemini Fiasco "We definitely messed up on the image generation, and it was mostly due to not thorough testing," Google co-founder Sergey Brin said at the Gemini Hackathon regarding the controversy surrounding Gemini, a woke artificial intelligence bot, which has been criticized for misinformation and disinformation.  A video featuring, Brin, currently a major shareholder at Alphabet, the parent company of Google, shows him making no apologies for the historical inaccuracies and woke biases in Gemini.  Co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, seems to think they only messed up on their image generator and fails to acknowledge that Google’s chatbot is just as broken. Not a good sign, but then again his fellow co-founder believes AI causing an end to humanity is simply “evolution.” pic.twitter.com/uFQ7o064kd — Te?asLindsay™ (@TexasLindsay_) March 3, 2024 X users immediately noticed a man at the event, sitting at a table in front of Brin, wearing what appears to be a body print of a woman's naked torso, including breasts. Weird, right?  Gemini's inaccuracies were so egregious that they appeared not to be mistakes but instead a possible deliberate effort by its woke creators to rewrite history. The image function on the bot has been paused for over a week.  Google scrambled last week as it entered damage control mode.  Alphabet's Sundar Pichai described the Gemini issue as "completely unacceptable" in a statement.  Some?!? Your racism didn't fly.... Elon's AI will be my choice instead. pic.twitter.com/jEb0WywDin — AKA Frederikke Amalie Hansen - #FreeAssange ? (@FAH36912) February 22, 2024 Meanwhile, there are mounting boycott calls for all Google products: "I've been reading Google's Gemini damage control posts. I think they're simply not telling the truth. For one, their text-only product has the same (if not worse) issues. And second, if you know a bit about how these models are built, you know you don't get these "incorrect" answers through one-off innocent mistakes," one X user stated in a post that has more than 5 million views. He further mentioned that he's "done with Google."  I'm done with @Google. I know many good individuals working there, but as a company they've irrevocably lost my trust. I'm "moving out". Here's why: I've been reading Google's Gemini damage control posts. I think they're simply not telling the truth. For one, their text-only… https://t.co/dMbKLf6fV1 — Mario Juric (@mjuric) February 26, 2024 Gemini is the tip of the woke iceberg, and executives at the giant tech company are entirely out of touch with reality.  Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 14:00
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[l] at 3/3/24 11:25am
Israel Unveils New West Bank Settlement Expansion In Defiance Of White House Via The Libertarian Institute Israel approved the building of 3,600 Israeli homes in a new West Bank settlement. The announcement came just days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared the settlements were inconsistent with international law. Tel Aviv routinely ignores Washington’s requests to curtail its oppressive treatment of Palestinians without an impact on the billions in aid the US provides to Israel each year.  Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich approved the new Jewish homes on Palestinian land south of Jerusalem on Tuesday. "We will continue the momentum of settlement throughout the country," he said. Smotrich has denied the existence of the Palestinian people and called for the segregation of maternity wards.  Gilo, a Jewish settlement near Bethlehem, via britannica.com The approval of the settlement is a snub to the White House, as last week Blinken reinstated a pre-Donald Trump policy of viewing Israeli settlements in the West Bank as inconsistent with international law. "Our administration maintains a firm opposition to settlement expansion, and in our judgment this only weakens, doesn’t strengthen Israel’s security," the diplomat said. Blinken added that the settlements were "inconsistent with international law" and "counterproductive to reaching enduring peace." In addition to building new Jewish homes, Tel Aviv has also been destroying Palestinian homes. Israel has destroyed nearly 100 Palestinian homes since October 7—Tel Aviv bills Palestinians for the cost of destroying their homes.  Last week, Smotrich explained the policy was to punish the Palestinians, "Our enemies should know that any harm to us will lead to more construction and more development and more of our hold all over the country." Collective punishment, settlement building, and military occupation are all violations of international law.  Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, source: Jerusalem Post President Joe Biden, who claims his foreign policy is centered on respect for the liberal international order, has still refused to curtail US support for Israel or even condemn Tel Aviv's alleged many flagrant violations of humanitarian law amid growing international pressure. Secretary of State Lloyd Austin recently told Congress that the US has shipped Israel over 20,000 bombs since October 7.  Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 13:25
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[l] at 3/3/24 10:50am
OPEC+ Extends Oil Output Cuts Through Mid-Year In Bid To Further Boost Price Oil prices may have risen to a 4 month high, but that is not nearly good enough for the oil exporting cartel - whose many members need the price to rise even more to fund their fiscal budgets - and this morning OPEC+ extended its oil supply cutbacks to the middle of the year in a bid to further short up prices and maintain the continued decline in global commercial inventories. As Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous delegates, the curbs which total roughly 2 million barrels a day, will remain in place until the end of June. As has been the case, OPEC+ leader Saudi Arabia accounts for half of the pledged reduction. The move is hardly a surprise with traders and analysts widely expecting the extension, seeing it as necessary to offset a seasonal lull in world fuel consumption and soaring production from several of OPEC+’s rivals, most notably US shale drillers which are maximizing output to boost their prospects amid the unprecedented merger wave sweeping the US shale patch; however as shown in the chart below, the latest OPEC+ supply curbs come just as US shale output has peaked and growth is starting to shrink again, assuring that the next move in oil will be higher, perhaps violently so. Some more details on the OPEC+ decision which are just an extension of already agreed upon production cuts: *SAUDI TO EXTEND VOLUNTARY CUT OF 1 MLN B/D UNTIL END OF 2Q *RUSSIA TO IMPLEMENT VOLUNTARY OIL CUT OF 471K B/D IN 2Q *UAE EXTENDS VOLUNTARY OIL CUT OF 163,000 B/D UNTIL END OF JUNE *IRAQ EXTENDS VOLUNTARY OIL CUT OF 220,000 B/D UNTIL END OF JUNE A big reason for OPEC's continue stinginess is that Riyadh needs a price above $90 a barrel as it spends billions on an economic transformation that spans futuristic cities and sports tournaments, according to Fitch Ratings. Its largest partner in the alliance, Russia, also seeks revenue to continue waging war on Ukraine. That said, this being OPEC, there are also cheaters, and as Bloomberg notes, in the first month of this year, the group’s implementation of the cutbacks didn’t live up to the pledged 2 million barrels a day as both Iraq and Kazakhstan collectively pumped several hundred thousand barrels a day above their quotas, but promised to improve compliance and even compensate for any initial overproduction. Russia meanwhile, has shown a very mixed performance. It only recently fully implemented the production cutbacks it promised to make almost a year ago. In January, the nation reduced its exports of crude oil as agreed by roughly 300,000 barrels a day, but promised curbs to shipments of refined fuels were less clear. While the cartel's decision to extend its curbs for the second quarter was widely expected, OPEC+ will likely face a tougher choice at its next scheduled meeting on June 1, when ministers will set policy for the second half of the year. “You don’t want to bring barrels back in too early,” Saad Rahim, chief economist of commodity trading giant Trafigura Group, told Bloomberg television last week. It’s unclear whether all members would be willing to subscribe to that policy. While Saudi Arabia has often urged the need for caution, its neighbor the United Arab Emirates has been keen to make use of recent investments in new production capacity. Some forecasters believe that won’t be a problem, as a fledgling recovery in China and strengthening global demand will allow the group to relax its curbs and add more barrels later in the year. There has been “an improvement in overall market fundamentals,” said Paul Horsnell, head of commodities research at Standard Chartered Bank Plc. “OPEC could increase output” without flooding world inventories. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 12:50
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[l] at 3/3/24 10:15am
'A Complete Disaster For The German Govt' - Scholz Promises Probe Into "Very Serious" Leaked Recording Of Plan To Destroy Crimea Bridge Yesterday, we detailed the leak of a wiretapped telephone conversation in which senior German officers discuss the use of German Taurus missiles, training, the capabilities of this system and the possibility of destroying the Crimean bridge. They revealed many interesting facts. Embarrassing for the Germans, who have now launched an investigation... As The FT reports, German chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised a full investigation after Russia published a recording of a phone call between senior German air force officers in which they appeared to discuss supplying missiles to Ukraine. Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, Scholz described the incident as a “very serious affair”. “It will be investigated very carefully, intensively and quickly,” he said. “It is also necessary to do so.” Politicians from parties in Scholz’s coalition expressed concern that Russia may have eavesdropped on other sensitive conversations, and that government communications may no longer be adequately protected. The German defence ministry said: “According to our assessment, a Luftwaffe conversation was tapped. We cannot say for sure whether changes were made to the recorded or transcribed version that is circulating on social media.” Konstantin von Notz, a senior Green MP, said it must be swiftly established if the “eavesdropping scandal is a one-time event or a structural problem”. Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, head of the Bundestag defence committee, told the news agency RND that the Russians were trying to scare Scholz off from allowing the delivery of Taurus missiles. But the cat is out of the bag. Adding more color to what we already know, Peter Hanseler breaks down, via Voice From Russia, the full content of the leaked call and shows how the NATO states are already knee-deep in the Ukraine conflict as active warring parties. Participants The following persons – some of whom were not fully identified – took part in this conversation: Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz – Inspector General of the German Air Force Link to Wikipedia Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz – Image: Wikipedia Franz Gräfe – Brigadegeneral Link to Wikipedia. Brigadier General Franz Gräfe – Image: Defense IQ Two employees – Fenske and Florstädt (spelling not clear) Members of the Bundeswehr specialists – not identified. Purpose of the conversation From the telephone conference it emerges that the aim of this discussion was to prepare a meeting between these participants and Foreign Minister Boris Pistorius, during which the possibilities and difficulties of using the Taurus system would be presented. The Inspector General of the German Air Force, Ingo Gerhartz, welcomes Federal Defence Minister Boris Pistorius at Holzdorf Air Base, 12 October 2023 – Source: RT The conversation in full length German army discussed strike on Crimean Bridge, leaked audio purportedly indicates Kiev has long sought to destroy the critical Russian infrastructure, with two bombings damaging the bridge in the past two years German military leaders allegedly discussed an operation to bomb… pic.twitter.com/Rt86hcYCmS — Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil (@ivan_8848) March 1, 2024 Summary – the most important points Preliminary remarks Here you can read the notes that I made during the course of the interview, which lasted just under 38 minutes. The subtitles indicate the approximate time of the comments made. It is not possible to determine exactly which person said what in this conversation The first 5 minutes For the first 5 minutes, the conversation is a chat between the employees, who talk about private and business matters, until Gerhartz joins the conversation. The only interesting thing is that one of the employees promises the other to send business information via WhatsApp. It seems that security is not at a high level. This attitude may also be the reason why this conversation made it into the public domain. Minute 05:30 Gerhartz leads the conversation. Pistorius wants to get deeply involved in Taurus. Scholz is blocking it. He had been asked by a journalist whether the reason for the blocking was that this system did not work at all. That is of course not true. You have to give [Pistorius] a good presentation. Taurus (cruise missile) – Source: Wikipedia Minute 10:30 You don’t just have to present problems, but also solutions. When it comes to mission planning, the British use “reachback” and then have a few people on the ground. [This probably means that the missions are planned outside of Ukraine and then implemented with people on the ground (British military personnel). Minute 10:53 There is talk that the British on the ground [Ukraine] could support the Germans. The planning could go through MBDA [producer of Taurus] – how should that be done – question to the employees. Minute 11:50 There are two points that are sensitive: firstly, the delivery and secondly, the adaptation of the aircraft (Sukhoi). This would take about 8 months. Minute 13:50 The manufacturer needs about 6 months to convert Taurus for the Sukhoi or F-16. Minute 14.23 Training on operation would be provided by the manufacturer. The Bundeswehr would take over the tactical training, which would take place in Germany and last approx. 3-4 months. Minute 15:10 As long as the training lasted, the British could help. Databases and satellite images would come via the manufacturer. The Ukrainians have more high-tech than the German air force, so it is possible that the Ukrainians could shorten the above-mentioned time required. Minute 17:00 Ausbildung: 3 Wochen beim Hersteller und 4 Wochen bei der Luftwaffe. Planung von Einsätzen: Wir müssen unterstützen: Unsere Leute brauchen 1 Jahr für die Ausbildung. Mit Unterstützung der Luftwaffe, 10 Wochen Ausbildung für die Ukrainer. Minute 18:10 The support could be provided on-line from Germany. Minute 19:00 Political risk of direct involvement: Data does not come directly from us, but via the manufacturer. Minute 19.:20 Target data combined with satellite images must be processed in Büchel (Germany) and could then be transported by car through Poland to Ukraine [bypassing direct participation in the war]. Minute 20:15 Response time: Order to “Airborne” we would need 6 hours, if it has to be more precise than 3 meters, 12 hours. Minute 21.15 There are already a lot of Americans walking around in civilian clothes. The Ukrainians have satellite data. Minute 21.45 Russian air defense: We can take evasive action because we are flying low. Storm Shadow flies over waypoints – we fly around the Russian systems. Minute 22:40 We need about 50 Taurus in the first round – that won’t change the war, even if we deliver another 50, but then we’re done, there’s no more. Minute 23.:20 The French and British will say, now it’s your turn to deliver. Minute 23:40 Unique selling point compared to Storm Shadow in terms of robustness, air defense and altitude. There are two interesting “target types”: firstly the bridge in the east [Crimean Bridge] and then also ammunition depots. The Crimean Bridge is difficult to reach and the pillars are small. Taurus can do that, Storm Shadow can’t. Minute 24:25 Three routes picked out. Basically feasible with our technology. Limiting factor: SU-24. Suchoi – SU-24 – Quelle: Wikipedia The Ukrainians don’t have many left – it’s in the single digits [less than 10]. Pilots can be trained quickly, but training in “image planning” will not be quick [when the Taurus flies low, terrain images have to be loaded]. Minute 26:15 The Crimean bridge is as big as an airfield. You need 10-20 Taurus for that. “If we go for the pillars, we might just make a hole and then there we are. We have to give the Ukrainians all the data, otherwise it won’t work. Minute 27:50 Bridge is extremely important for Russia – “centerpiece” – militarily and politically. No longer quite as important, as they also have the land bridge. But the Russians are still afraid of using the direct link via Ukraine. [Note: The Russians are currently expanding the railroad lines overland]. Minute 29:05 [Now it’s getting political again]. Can we use the trick of running all the data through MBDA [manufacturer] so as not to show a direct link to the Bundeswehr Ukraine? We plan the data and then drive it by car through Poland to Ukraine. It makes no difference “involved is involved”. Minute 29:30 If we do the training properly, it takes 4 months. During this phase, we ask the British to take over. Some kind of interim solution. “Just imagine if this gets to the press”. Minute 30.15 If the political will is there, then someone from Ukraine should come over here. If the condition is no direct involvement in mission planning, then it will take longer and the result will not be so good. Then you can’t do everything with Taurus, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything with it. Minute 31.:35 Variants: “Quick-Track/Low-Track”. Quick results, such as ammunition depots, but not the bridge. Minute 32.20 Planning to destroy ammunition depots difficult due to massive air defenses. We don’t know where the Russian air defenses are; hopefully the Ukrainians do. Minute 33:18 If we have all the data and can use it, we can assert ourselves. The less data and training, the less assertiveness. Minute 35.23 The longer the decision to deliver the Taurus is delayed, the longer it will take to implement. First simple targets [ammunition depots] then more complex ones [Crimean Bridge] or ask the British for support. Conclusion The mere fact that this telephone conversation was intercepted and has now been published raises questions. Firstly, no one knows whether this is an isolated case or whether the Russian secret services can intercept entire sections of German or even NATO communications. Two details that emerge from the conversation point to negligence: At the beginning of the conversation, one of the participants tells another that he will send him data via WhatsApp. If I understood correctly, this was work-related information. It also emerges from the conversation that one of the participants is conducting the conversation from a hotel room in Singapore. That’s very revealing and the German side may have been more than negligent. It is further explained that 50 or even 100 Taurus would be delivered, but that these would have no influence on the course of the war. The question arises as to why this is even being considered – the answer is clear: marketing and politics and the absolute will to escalate. The officers assume that between 10 and 20 Taurus cruise missiles would be needed to destroy the Crimean Bridge, as the bridge is massive and difficult to destroy. The fixation on destroying this bridge between the Russian mainland and Crimea seems almost like a mania, as the Russians are building a connection via the land bridge from Mariupol, which is a safer alternative to the Crimean Bridge. Many parts of the conversation revolve around efforts to support the Ukrainians directly – including people on the ground – and thus to play a direct role in attacks on Russia. They are looking for solutions and “tricks” to prevent this from appearing to be the case. It is clear from the conversation that the Americans and British are already fully, directly and locally involved in the war in Ukraine; we pointed this out a year ago in our article “Sleepwalkers at work: World War 3 has probably already begun” – now the proof is there. Everyone involved is therefore aware that they are waging war against Russia, i.e. the NATO-Russia war is already a reality. This means that Russia is also entitled to attack NATO targets. The fact that the Russian government has not (yet) done so indicates once again that Russia is pursuing a de-escalating course, while the West is fully committed to escalation. This leak is a complete disaster for the German government. It shows hesitation, incompetence and dishonesty. Finally, I noticed that the talks were conducted in a very uncoordinated and unstructured manner. It would be wiser if Chancellor Scholz were to bring himself to negotiate with the Russians, because this is no way to win a war against Russia, but to do everything possible to provoke a world war. Sometimes I wonder whether there are actually people who are deliberately pursuing this goal. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 12:15
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[l] at 3/3/24 9:40am
Just Ahead: Deep Fakes And Shallow Reality Authored by James Gorrie via The Epoch Times, You’ve probably already seen deep fake videos portraying events that never happened in feeds from the wars in Gaza and Ukraine. The videos are so realistic that neither you nor I can tell that they’re fake. A phone displaying a statement from the head of security policy at Meta, in front of a screen displaying a deepfake video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calling on his soldiers to lay down their weapons, in Washington on Jan. 30, 2023. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images) In fact, you can now watch a video, clear as a bell, of a person who is no longer alive. That person can be with you, on screen, talking to you, interacting with you as well. Soon enough, that person will be standing in the room with you. Yes, hologram technology has come a long way. For the past few years, there have been hologram concerts with dead performers appearing on stage before thousands of people, singing their best songs—from the grave. It’s really taking off. Other uses include helping family members grieve for a loved one by “bringing them back to life” holographically for the family to talk to. Sounds more like deceiving than grieving, but hey, that’s just me. Mass Deception Around the Corner? But what does this deep fakery and visual deception technology really add up to in the very near future, if not at this very moment? There are a couple of phrases that come to mind. “Mass deception” is one. “The very best in fake news” is another. “The end of reality” is a third one, but does it seem rather over-the-top? I wish I could say it does. But when we’ve seen fake news about fake collusion with Russia, fake ballots, fake trials about fake real estate fraud (“fake fraud” is now a thing), and fake presidents, well, the over-the-top threshold has gotten much higher of late. The New Reality? There’s No Need for It Reality no longer bites, as we used to say in my youth, but rather, reality is bytes. Bytes of data can and do shape our reality every day. And that’s the problem. It’s a very BIG problem, for several reasons. Do you recall the announcement from the Biden administration about the formation of the Disinformation Governance Board back in April 2022? You may not, as it was yanked because of lots of pushback from the conservative side after just a couple of weeks as a division of the Department of Homeland Security. But the point is that it was there, and given the direction in which things are headed, care to bet that it won’t return as the deep fakes begin to hit the fan in this election year? More to the point, how will you and I determine that what we watch on the news, what we see on our most trusted internet news sites, is actually real? How will we know that it actually happened, or is happening as we watch it “live?” Are We Really at War? Imagine, for instance, with U.S. military forces deployed in the Red Sea, that we “witness” a large U.S. Naval vessel get attacked, with a large loss of life. What if we see with our own eyes the flag of the attacking forces waving from their ship as they launch their attack? War is declared, many of our rights are suspended, food is rationed, money is issued in fixed amounts, and anyone complaining about “the new reality” gets sent to a “change-your-attitude” camp, or worse? That’s what a Disinformation Governance Board would be used for, wouldn’t it? Election Integrity—Really? On a much more pressing note, how will we actually know and believe the outcome of an election? What if a candidate has a news conference and tells the nation that he’s ceding the election to his opponent, even if he actually won the election? All that—and certainly much more—could be deep faked with AI and disseminated to all of us over all of the “trusted and verified” news networks that have been approved by a newly re-branded Disinformation Governance Board. The trope that in order to save our democracy, we had to kill it might not even be necessary. What may be necessary, however, to make the DGB’s job (by the way, what does the “DGB” remind you of?) easier and more manageable would be to limit the sources of news to those approved news outlets that tell the approved truth. And the others, like this one? I can hear it now, for the sake of election integrity, unapproved news sources will be scrubbed from the internet. They’ll quickly be de-platformed, de-monetized, and de-based, meaning they will no longer have an audience, and nor do you have a say on reality, what’s real and what’s fake. They’ve done it before. Remember how free speech was essentially banned over the internet? The upshot is that we’re on the edge of a new reality, where no one will know a deep fake when they see one, and reality will begin when life ends. Your Last Reality Check? And the deep fakes? They’re only going to get even more realistic and more convincing so that realism and reality can’t be discerned. That subtle distinction may soon become the dividing line for how we live our lives. We may see news feeds that look “realistic,” but we will have to ask ourselves, “Are they, in fact, real?” Realism may become the primary value of news, with reality discarded as nothing more than an artifact of a bygone world. This has been a reality check. Cash it while you can. *  *  * Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or ZeroHedge. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 11:40
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[l] at 3/3/24 9:05am
Mystery Whale Has Quietly Accumulated Over $3 Billion In Bitcoin In 15 Months A mysterious Bitcoin buyer has quietly amassed billions worth of bitcoin over the past two years making the unknown address one of the largest single holders of the cryptocurrency as the race to a new all-time high continues. According to data from Bitinfocharts, after patiently buying bitcoin almost daily since November 2022, the whale’s wallet now holds over 54,164 BTC, worth around $3.2 billion, according to Decrypt. This whale, dubbed “Mr. 100” due to his purchases of an average of 100 bitcoin per day since November 2022, may not be a single investor, and could belong to an investment fund or one of the big banks behind one of the several spot Bitcoin ETFs now available, although some are skeptical. “It's definitely possible, but I would say unlikely,” Amberdata Director of Research Chris Martin told Decrypt. “All of the ETFs have publically shared their addresses, so it would be strange to me if they didn't share this one.” This wallet has purchased an average of 100 #Bitcoin per day since November 2022. It now holds 51,164 $BTC worth $3.1 billion. pic.twitter.com/cXpp97NfCC — Watcher.Guru (@WatcherGuru) March 2, 2024 According to Amberdata, the wallet has been accumulating Bitcoin since November 2022, using Binance and KuCoin. While the US Government has also accumulated an huge amount of Bitcoin - estimated to now be worth over $12 billion -Martin doesn’t see the Biden Administration being behind the address. One tell: the digital assets are coming from Binance and KuCoin, “It might be safe to rule out a U.S. entity or bank,” Martin said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it's a fund of some kind.” Hong Kong is said to be mulling 31 applications for crypto custodians, he noted. A recent expose from Reuters echoed what we first said back in September 2015 (when we recommended buying bitcoin at a price of $230), namely that a silent flood of Chinese buying may be one of the core drivers behind the recent meltup. "Mr. 100" may just be one of them.  Martin also said he does not believe the wallet is someone loading up in preparation for the upcoming Bitcoin halving in April. “I would say not—they could just be supporting the price run-up rather than accumulating tokens for a specific event,” he said. “I think it's interesting that they've generally received the same amount on every transaction—about 100 BTC—throughout their existence,” Martin added. “Why they chose 100 BTC is beyond me... possibly a limitation of their funding source.” While speculation around the identity of “Mr. 100” whale remains, sentiment in the cryptocurrency market is riding high, and the countless entities loading up on Bitcoin - especially in the recently launched ETFs - point to signs that the bull market is indeed back and running. The mystery whale isn't the only that has been making waves in recent days: in April, a wallet from the early days of Bitcoin moved over $11 million in BTC after being dormant for 12 years. That same week, another Bitcoin wallet moved $8 million in BTC after ten years of inactivity. In November, another Bitcoin whale made waves after analysts discovered wallet holding $450 million in Bitccoin. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 11:05
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[l] at 3/3/24 8:30am
When Complex Systems Collide Authored by James Rickards via DailyReckoning.com, At some point, systems flip from being complicated, which is a challenge to manage, to being complex. Complexity is more than a challenge because it opens the door to all kinds of unexpected crashes and events. Their behavior cannot be reduced to their component parts. It’s as if they take on a life of their own. Complexity theory has four main pillars. The first is the diversity of actors. You’ve got to account for all of the actors in the marketplace. When you consider the size of global markets, that number is obviously vast. The second pillar is interconnectedness. Today’s world is massively interconnected through the internet, through social media and other forms of communications technology. The third pillar of complexity theory is interaction. Markets interact on a massive scale. Trillions of dollars of financial transactions occur every single day. The fourth pillar, and this is the hardest for people to understand, is adaptive behavior. Adaptive behavior just means that your behavior affects my behavior and my behavior affects yours. That in turn affects someone else’s behavior, and so on. If you look out the window and see people bundled up in heavy jackets, for example, you’re probably not going to go out in a T-shirt. Applied to capital markets, adaptive behavior is sometimes called herding. Assume you have a room with 100 people. If two people suddenly sprinted out of the room, most of the others probably wouldn’t make much of it. But if half the people in the room suddenly ran outside, the other half will probably do the same thing. They might not know why the first 50 people left, but the second half will just assume something major has happened. That could be a fire or a bomb threat or something along these lines. The key is to determine the tipping point that compels people to act. Two people fleeing isn’t enough. 50 certainly is. But, maybe 20 people leaving could trigger the panic. Or maybe the number is 30, or 40. You just can’t be sure. But the point is, 20 people out of 100 could trigger a chain reaction. And that’s how easily a total collapse of the capital markets can be triggered. Understanding the four main pillars of complexity gives you a window into the inner workings of markets in a way the Fed’s antiquated equilibrium models can’t. They let you see the world with better eyes. People assume that if you had perfect knowledge of the economy, which nobody does, that you could conceivably plan an economy. You’d have all the information you needed to determine what should be produced and in what number. But complexity theory says that even if you had that perfect knowledge, you still couldn’t predict financial and economic events. They can come seemingly out of nowhere. For example, it was bright and sunny one day out in the eastern Atlantic in 2005. Then it suddenly got cloudy. The winds began to pick up. Then a hurricane formed. That hurricane went on to wipe out New Orleans a short time later. I’m talking about Hurricane Katrina. You never could have predicted New Orleans would be struck on that bright sunny day. You could look back and track it afterwards. It would seem rational in hindsight. But on that sunny day in the eastern Atlantic, there was simply no way of predicting that New Orleans was going to be devastated. Any number of variables could have diverted the storm at some point along the way. And they cannot be known in advance, no matter how much information you have initially. Another example is the Fukushima nuclear incident in Japan a few years back. You had a number of complex systems coming together at once to produce a disaster. An underwater earthquake triggered a tsunami that just happened to wash up on a nuclear power plant. Each one of these are highly complex systems — plate tectonics, hydrodynamics and the nuclear plant itself. There was no way traditional models could have predicted when or where the tectonic plates were going to slip. Therefore, they couldn’t tell you where the tsunami was heading. And the same applies to financial panics. They seem to come out of nowhere. Traditional forecasting models have no way of detecting them. But complexity theory allows for them. I make the point that a snowflake can cause an avalanche. But of course not every snowflake does. Most snowflakes fall harmlessly, except that they make the ultimate avalanche worse because they’re building up the snowpack. And when one of them hits the wrong way, it could spin out of control. The way to think about it is that the triggering snowflake might not look much different from the harmless snowflake that preceded it. It’s just that it hit the system at the wrong time, at the wrong place. Only the exact time and the specific snowflake that starts the avalanche remain to be seen. This kind of systemic analysis is the primary tool I use to keep investors ahead of the catastrophe curve. The system is getting more and more unstable, and it might not take that much to trigger the avalanche. To switch metaphors, it’s like the straw that breaks the camel’s back. You can’t tell in advance which straw will trigger the collapse. It only becomes obvious afterwards. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good idea when the threat can no longer be ignored. Let’s say I’ve got a 35-pound block of enriched uranium sitting in front of me that’s shaped like a big cube. That’s a complex system. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes. At the subatomic level, neutrons are firing off. But it’s not dangerous. You’d actually have to eat it to get sick. But, now, I take the same 35 pounds, I shape part of it into a sphere, I take the rest of it and shape it into a bat. I put it in the tube, and I fire it together with high explosives, I kill 300,000 people. I just engineered an atomic bomb. It’s the same uranium, but under different conditions. The point is, the same basic conditions arrayed in a different way, what physicists call self-organized criticality, can go critical, blow up, and destroy the world or destroy the financial system. That dynamic, which is the way the world works, is not understood by central bankers. They don’t understand complexity theory. They do not see the critical state dynamics going on behind the scenes because they’re using obsolete equilibrium models. In complexity theory and complex dynamics, you can go into the critical state. What look like unconnected distant events are actually indications and warnings of something much more dangerous to come. So what happens when complex dynamic systems crash into each other? We’re seeing that right now. We’re seeing two complex systems colliding into each other, the complex system of markets combined with the complex system of epidemiology. The coronavirus spread was a complex dynamic system. It encompassed virology, meteorology, migratory patterns, mass psychology, etc. Markets are highly complex, dynamic systems. Financial professionals will use the word “contagion” to describe a financial panic. But that’s not just a metaphor. The same complexity that applies to disease epidemics also apply to financial markets. They follow the same principles. And they came together to create a panic that traditional modeling could not foresee. The time scale of global financial contagion is not necessarily limited to days or weeks. These panics can play out over months and years. Just don’t expect the Fed to warn you. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 10:30
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[l] at 3/3/24 7:55am
"New Car Inventory Has Exploded Higher" New car prices have been trending lower for about a year due to increased vehicle production and elevated interest rates that have crimped demand. As a result, inventories are swelling at dealerships nationwide, with expectations for new and used vehicle prices to continue sliding into the spring season.  A recent Kelley Blue Book report shows new car prices in January were down 3.5% compared with the same month one year ago. The average new car sold was $47,401.  "Prices have been trending downward for roughly six months now as automakers are sweetening deals to keep the sales flowing," Erin Keating, executive analyst for Cox Automotive, said in the report.  The downward pressure is mainly because new vehicle inventory has surged. As of January, it stood at 2.66 million units, a 49% jump in the past year, according to Cox data. "With rates higher so far this year, the consumer has limited sense of urgency right now other than cash in hand," Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox, said in a separate report. In a post on X, Car Dealership Guy wrote that new car inventory in February "is rising fast."  February started with 80 days of new vehicle supply:  The *highest* level since June 2020.  Expect the deals to sweeten up for most brands. New car inventory is rising fast ? February started with 80 days of new vehicle supply: The *highest* level since June 2020. Expect the deals to sweeten up for most brands. pic.twitter.com/y2nsogRmkZ — Car Dealership Guy (@GuyDealership) March 2, 2024 Online auto buy/sell platform CarEdge's Zach Shefska noted on X: "For reference, new car inventory is up 195% over the past 30 months."  For reference, new car inventory is up 195% over the past 30 months. pic.twitter.com/T3bk4II2Xz — Zach Shefska (@shefska) February 23, 2024 "New Car Inventory has EXPLODED higher," another X user said.  New Car Inventory has EXPLODED higher pic.twitter.com/9LgrwGkgmk — Darth Powell ????????? (@GRomePow) February 22, 2024 This is great news for prospective car buyers - but terrible news for the millions of folks who bought cars during the Covid mania and are underwater on their auto loans.  Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 09:55
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[l] at 3/3/24 7:20am
CDC Tells People 65 And Older To Take More COVID-19 Booster Shots Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that adults aged 65 and above get an additional dose of the updated 2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccine following a heated debate by an advisory panel on the issue. The vaccination was recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) panel. “The recommendation acknowledges the increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19 in older adults, along with the currently available data on vaccine effectiveness,” the agency said in a Feb. 28 press release. “Adults 65 years and older are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with more than half of COVID-19 hospitalizations during October 2023 to December 2023 occurring in this age group.” “Data continues to show the importance of vaccination to protect those most at risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19. An additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine may restore protection that has waned since a fall vaccine dose, providing increased protection to adults ages 65 years and older,” it said. As of Feb. 23, more than 22 percent of U.S. adults have received the updated COVID-19 vaccine, including 41.8 percent of adults over 65. Dispute Over Wording During the panel discussion, members debated intensely about the wording of the recommendation. Some wanted a stronger wording, such as “should receive an additional dose,” in the recommendation, according to a report by the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy Research and Innovation Office at the University of Minnesota. However, other members disagreed, pointing out that evidence does not support the need to add “should” in the vaccine recommendation. They also raised concerns that the wording could end up having a chilling or discouraging effect on individuals who haven’t received a shot during the fall. Several members noted that COVID-19 activity is not following a seasonal pattern such as what is seen with the flu. They projected the number of COVID-19 levels to likely wax and wane over coming months. The members eventually voted in favor of the stronger recommendation, with the measure passing 11–1. After ACIP’s decision, CDC Director Mandy Cohen endorsed the recommendation. “Most COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations last year were among people 65 years and older. An additional vaccine dose can provide added protection that may have decreased over time for those at highest risk,” she said. The next dose should be taken at least four months after the previous dose. Individuals with compromised immune systems can get their next dose two months after the previous one. Vaccine Harms Despite the CDC pushing older people to take additional COVID-19 shots, studies have shown that the jabs may not be effective and could instead cause harm. A study from Japan published in January looked at the impact of bivalent vaccines among older people. A bivalent vaccine is a shot that triggers an immune response against two different strains of the virus. Researchers said they “did not find sufficient evidence of effectiveness of bivalent vaccines among previously infected older adults.” An April 2023 study that looked at over 51,000 employees at the Cleveland Clinic who were given bivalent vaccines found that effectiveness of the shots declined depending on the strain. With the BA.4/5 strain, vaccine effectiveness was only 29 percent, which dropped to 20 percent for BQ strain, and then to just 4 percent for XBB. A January 2024 study warned that repeated vaccination with mRNA COVID-19 boosters could result in “adverse effects on the immune system.” “This is particularly relevant in the case of immunocompromised individuals, where the overall cost-to-benefit ratio may lean toward the negative,” the researchers wrote. “Given the decreased severity of the virus, as acknowledged in various jurisdictions, there are legitimate concerns about the frequent administration of boosters in immunocompromised patients, raising questions about whether this practice may be causing more harm than benefit.” COVID-19 vaccines are also facing scrutiny for shedding effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines shedding as the “release of [viral or bacterial gene therapy products] ... from the patient through one or all of the following ways: excreta (feces); secreta (urine, saliva, nasopharyngeal fluids, etc.); or through the skin (pustules, sores, wounds).” Dr. Pierre Kory, founder of Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), has said that both mRNA and adenovirus COVID-19 vaccines may cause vaccinated individuals to release spike proteins and other components. For instance, one study found the presence of mRNA in the breast milk of vaccinated females. During a Feb. 15 congressional hearing, health officials from the FDA and the CDC admitted that COVID-19 vaccinated people can still get infected and transmit the disease. “There’s data that shows that earlier in the pandemic there was some reduction in transmission. The data on that are very challenging to pin down. It does not absolutely prevent transmission,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, said at the hearing. “[The COVID-19 vaccines] do a very good job of preventing death and hospitalization. They may not prevent infection,” he admitted. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 09:20
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[l] at 3/3/24 6:45am
NATO's Newest Member Says Ukraine 'Has Right' To Use Its Weapons To Attack Russian Soil It was only last April that Finland formally entered NATO as the military alliance's 31st member. This week Moscow has announced that it is initiating additional "military-technical measures" along its border with Scandinavia, also in response to Sweden's recent accession approval.  But already Finland is off and running with advancing a bellicose posture sure to only fuel already soaring tensions with Russia centered on the Ukraine proxy war. AFP via Getty Images Finnish broadcaster Yle reported Thursday that the government has given the OK for Ukrainian forces to use Finnish weaponry to mount attacks on Russian territory. Soon after the 2022 Russian invasion, Finland began joining other European countries on sending defense aid to Kiev, and has thus far sent an estimated nearly $2 billion worth of arms packages. Chair of the Finnish parliamentary defense committee, told Yle that "Ukraine has the right to use these [Finnish] weapons against military targets also on Russian soil." However, "A key condition for Western military aid to Ukraine is the commitment to avoid using it on Russian soil," the publication also said. Finish officials have explained that thus far they have abided by that stipulation in respect of the desires of other Western allies. But with Ukraine forces clearly being beaten back in the east, and with manpower and arms shortages becoming a dire problem, Finland is apparently joining the chorus of bolder and riskier pledges when it comes to supporting Ukraine. The past number of months have meanwhile witnessed increased cross-border attacks on Russian energy infrastructure, but also civilian areas of places like Belgorod city near the border. This has resulted in scores of civilian casualties, after which Russia typically conducts large airstrikes against Ukrainian cities. Moscow has also of late sought to highlight the alleged active presence of French mercenaries near the border, and has accused Western intelligence of assisting Ukraine with attacking targets on Russian soil. This means NATO and Russia are inching closer to direct, all-out war. ⚠️ FINLAND INAUGURATES ALEXANDER STUBB AS PRESIDENT FOR THE NATO ERA (Reuters) Alexander Stubb took office as Finland's president on Friday, ready to oversee a new era after it joined NATO in response to neighbouring Russia's invasion of Ukraine. During his campaign for the… pic.twitter.com/PZrrKOKUZ7 — PiQ (@PiQSuite) March 1, 2024 Certainly if this trend catches on of European leaders openly advocating that Western weapons be used to attack Russia directly, bigger war becomes more and more inevitable unless some kind of negotiations can be kick-started fast. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 08:45
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[l] at 3/3/24 6:10am
'Very Bizarre': Scientists Expose Major Problems With Climate Change Data Authored by Alex Newman via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Temperature records used by climate scientists and governments to build models that then forecast dangerous manmade global warming repercussions have serious problems and even corruption in the data, multiple scientists who have published recent studies on the issue told The Epoch Times. (Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images, Shutterstock) The Biden administration leans on its latest National Climate Assessment report as evidence that global warming is accelerating because of human activities. The document states that human emissions of “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide are dangerously warming the Earth. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) holds the same view, and its leaders are pushing major global policy changes in response. But scientific experts from around the world in a variety of fields are pushing back. In peer-reviewed studies, they cite a wide range of flaws with the global temperature data used to reach the dire conclusions; they say it’s time to reexamine the whole narrative. Problems with temperature data include a lack of geographically and historically representative data, contamination of the records by heat from urban areas, and corruption of the data introduced by a process known as “homogenization.” The flaws are so significant that they make the temperature data—and the models based on it—essentially useless or worse, three independent scientists with the Center for Environmental Research and Earth Sciences (CERES) explained. The experts said that when data corruption is considered, the alleged “climate crisis” supposedly caused by human activities disappears. Instead, natural climate variability offers a much better explanation for what is being observed, they said. Some experts told The Epoch Times that deliberate fraud appeared to be at work, while others suggested more innocent explanations. But regardless of why the problems exist, the implications of the findings are hard to overstate. With no climate crisis, the justification for trillions of dollars in government spending and costly changes in public policy to restrict carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions collapses, the scientists explained in a series of interviews about their research. “For the last 35 years, the words of the IPCC have been taken to be gospel,” according to astrophysicist and CERES founder Willie Soon. Until recently, he was a researcher working with the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian. “And indeed, climate activism has become the new religion of the 21st century—heretics are not welcome and not allowed to ask questions,” Mr. Soon told The Epoch Times. Dancers working with Mothers Rise Up (a group of UK mothers protesting about climate change) prepare to hold a performance protest outside Lloyds of London in London on Feb. 26, 2024. (Carl Court/Getty Images) “But good science demands that scientists are encouraged to question the IPCC’s dogma. The supposed purity of the global temperature record is one of the most sacred dogmas of the IPCC.” The latest U.S. government National Climate Assessment report states: “Human activities are changing the climate. “The evidence for warming across multiple aspects of the Earth system is incontrovertible, and the science is unequivocal that increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases are driving many observed trends and changes.” In particular, according to the report, this is because of human activities such as burning fossil fuels for transportation, energy, and agriculture. Looking at timescales highlights major problems with this narrative, Mr. Soon said. “When people ask about global warming or climate change, it is essential to ask, ‘Since when?’ The data shows that it has warmed since the 1970s, but that this followed a period of cooling from the 1940s,” he said. While it is “definitely warmer” now than in the 19th century, Mr. Soon said that temperature proxy data show the 19th century “was exceptionally cold.” “It was the end of a period that’s known as the Little Ice Age,” he said. Data taken from rural temperature stations, ocean measurements, weather balloons, satellite measurements, and temperature proxies such as tree rings, glaciers, and lake sediments, “show that the climate has always changed,” Mr. Soon said. “They show that the current climate outside of cities is not unusual,” he said, adding that heat from urban areas is improperly affecting the data. “If we exclude the urban temperature data that only represents 3 percent of the planet, then we get a very different picture of the climate.” A meteorologist launches a weather balloon measuring the zero degree isotherm at MeteoSwiss station in Payerne, Switzerland, on Sept. 7, 2023. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images) Homogenization One issue that scientists say is corrupting the data stems from an obscure process known as “homogenization.” According to climate scientists working with governments and the U.N., the algorithms used for homogenization are designed to correct, as much as possible, various biases that might exist in the raw temperature data. These biases include, among others, the relocation of temperature monitoring stations, changes in technology used to gather the data, or changes in the environment surrounding a thermometer that might impact its readings. For instance, if a temperature station was originally placed in an empty field but that field has since been paved over to become a parking lot, the record would appear to show much hotter temperatures. As such, it would make sense to try to correct the data collected. Virtually nobody argues against the need for some homogenization to control for various factors that may contaminate temperature data. But a closer examination of the process as it now occurs reveals major concerns, Ronan Connolly, an independent scientist at CERES, said. “While the scientific community has become addicted to blindly using these computer programs to fix the data biases, until recently nobody has bothered to look under the hood to see if the programs work when applied to real temperature data,” he told The Epoch Times. Since the early 2000s, various governmental and intergovernmental organizations creating global temperature records have relied on computer programs to automatically adjust the data. Mr. Soon, Mr. Connolly, and a team of scientists around the world spent years looking at the programs to determine how they worked and whether they were reliable. One of the scientists involved in the analysis, Peter O’Neill, has been tracking and downloading the data daily from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its Global Historical Climatology Network since 2011. He found that each day, NOAA applies different adjustments to the data. (Top left) A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather tower atop a building in Washington. (Top right) A radar is prepared by NOAA for studying tornadoes, in Memphis. (Bottom) A man works as officials are briefed at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images, Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images, Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images) “They use the same homogenization computer program and re-run it roughly every 24 hours,” Mr. Connolly said. “But each day, the homogenization adjustments that they calculate for each temperature record are different.” This is “very bizarre,” he said. “If the adjustments for a given weather station have any basis in reality, then we would expect the computer program to calculate the same adjustments every time. What we found is this is not what’s happening,” Mr. Connolly said. These concerns are what first sparked the international investigation into the issue by Mr. Soon and his colleagues. Because NOAA doesn’t maintain historical information on its weather stations, the CERES scientists reached out to European scientists who had been compiling the data for the stations that they oversee. They found that just 17 percent of NOAA’s adjustments were consistently applied. And less than 20 percent of NOAA’s adjustments were clearly associated with a documented change to the station observations. “When we looked under the hood, we found that there was a hamster running in a wheel instead of an engine,” Mr. Connolly said. “It seems that with these homogenization programs, it is a case where the cure is worse than the disease.” A spokesman for NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information downplayed the significance, but said the agency was working to address the issues raised in the papers. “NOAA uses the well-documented Pairwise Homogenization Algorithm every day on GHCNm (monthly)—version 4, and the results of specific adjustments to individual station series can differ from run to run,” the spokesman said, adding that the papers in question didn’t support the view that the concerns about the homogenization of the data made it useless or worse. “NOAA is addressing the issues raised in both these papers in a future release of the GHCNm temperature dataset and its accompanying documentation.” Read more here... Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 08:10
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[l] at 3/3/24 5:35am
"Ends Energy Crisis": MUFG Says Global LNG Market Will Shift Into Oversupply In 2025 The beginning of the Russian-Ukraine war in early 2022 led to a significant tightening in global liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies as Europe replaced lost Russian LNG with supplies from the US. Currently, LNG markets are stabilizing and, according to one commodity desk, could enter an oversupply period in 2025. In a note to clients, a team of analysts led by Ehsan Khoman, who is in charge of the commodities research desk at MUFG Bank, said the global LNG market is on the verge of transitioning from tight to oversupplied:  When factoring in LNG export capacity currently under construction in the US (and other regions), we anticipate ~200mpta of additive global LNG supply capacity before the end of this decade (constituting ~50% of the 409mpta global LNG supply currently ). To put the sheer velocity of this additional supply into context, global LNG demand printed at 401mpta in 2023. This LNG oversupply, beginning to take shape from 2025, leads to risks that global gas prices may decline to around supply cash costs (~EUR15 - 20/MWh), which may lead to the cancellation of US LNG exports (akin to 2020). Khoman highlighted the "chart of the week," which states that an oversupplied LNG market, primarily because of a surge in supply from the US and the Middle East, beginning in 2025, will "end the energy crisis."  The analysts pointed out that Qatar is positioning itself as the "world's lowest cost LNG producer" as it rapidly expands exports, thus soaking up market share. At face value, although the Qatari announcement may seem counterintuitive given the approaching oversupply, we view that Qatar can leverage its pedigree as the world's lowest-cost LNG producer to take advantage of increased market share in light of the recently announced halts in US LNG export project approvals. The theme from Khoman is that oversupply conditions will lead to "lower for longer" prices that could help the EU reverse damaging de-industrial risk, especially after the Russian Nord Stream pipeline was blown up.  This past week, Denmark dropped its investigation into "deliberate sabotage" of the Nord Stream in 2022. Recall last year, The Washington Post published a bombshell that Ukraine was involved in the bombing. And if the world wants to understand who is responsible, one must ask: Who stands to benefit from cutting cheap Russian LNG supplies to the EU?  Well, the latest US Energy Information Administration data shows the US has become the number one LNG dealer to the EU following the bombing of the undersea pipeline.  Meanwhile, oversupply conditions are expected to end in the latter part of this decade. A suppression of LNG prices will help the West tame energy inflation.  Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 07:35
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[l] at 3/3/24 5:11am
Germany Confirms Leaked Audio Of Its Top Generals Discussing Blowing Up The Crimean Bridge In a huge development and absolute smoking gun revelation, the government of Germany has confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio recording file published by Russia's state-backed RT. The leak was first published by RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan, who described that she received it from Russian security officials. It first appeared under the headline "Alleged audio of German officers discussing Crimean Bridge attack leaked" - as it featured top ranking Germany military officials in a private discussion of "a potential German operation to bomb the Crimean Bridge in Russia," as it was initially described by RT. Russian media is now openly admitting that the call was in fact intercepted by Russia. Moscow is now saying this shows "direct" German involvement in the war. Last year's major Ukraine attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge, which severely damaged a portion of it, but did not put it out of commission.  The audio could have easily been dismissed in the West as simply Russian-sourced propaganda or even an AI fake; however, in an unexpected development the highest levels of the German government have now confirmed that the audio is indeed real and Berlin launched an investigation into the "serious" breach of secured communications. "What is being reported is a very serious matter and that is why it is now being investigated very carefully, very intensively and very quickly," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Rome. Germany's military has also confirmed the leaked recording, but officials have avoided weighing in the actual content of what was said pending an internal investigation: A German defense ministry spokeswoman confimed to AFP that the ministry believes a conversation in the air force division was "intercepted". "We are currently unable to say for certain whether changes were made to the recorded or transcribed version that is circulating on social media," the spokeswoman said. Experts consulted by Der Spiegel magazine said they believed the recording was authentic. Germany’s Ministry of Defense said per the country's dpa: "According to our assessment, a conversation within the Air Force was intercepted. We cannot currently say with certainty whether changes have been made to the recorded or written version that is circulating on social media." AFP further writes that "Topics include aiming the missiles at targets such as a key bridge over the Kerch strait linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014." Taurus missile, South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images Additionally the potential supply of Taurus long-range air-to-surface missile to Kiev is a major focus of the conversation. The Franco-British cruise missile Storm Shadow also receives mention.  Importantly, it seems none other than Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz – the commander of the national air force, is among the four voices heard in the audio among top generals within the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces. A particularly damning section of the audio for which Moscow is currently demanding answers from German leaders... ?? Germany Planned a Crimea Attack German military officials reportedly planned to attack Russia's Crimea bridge, aiming for strategic and political impact, stressing non-direct involvement. "The target is not only of military-strategic importance, but also political good. We… pic.twitter.com/rfIjC8E7eo — Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) March 1, 2024 They are heard openly discussing "interesting targets" including the "bridge in the east" and nearby "ammunition depots".  Of course, the vital 12-mile bridge which spans the Kerch Strait and connects Crimea with mainland Russia was already previously severely damaged and briefly knocked out of commission in a major July 2023 missile or drone attack from Ukraine. Prior to that in October 2022 a truck bomb detonated on the bridge, resulting in parts of the roadway collapsing into the water below. Those prior attacks were suspected to have had Western intelligence help, given the sophistication of the operations. Are the German officers caught in the audio possibly plotting another future attack? (Or alternately some of the contents or references could predate the prior attacks on the bridge, timeline-wise). Third time's a charm? Most likely, this is a very recent conversation wherein they talk about a future potential attack: In the 38-minute recording, military officers discuss the question of how the Taurus long-range cruise missiles could be used by Ukraine. A debate has been taking place in Germany over whether to supply the missiles as Ukraine faced setbacks on the battlefield after two years of war, and with military aid from the United States being held up in Congress. Earlier this week Scholz said he remains reluctant to send the Taurus missiles to Ukraine, pointing to a risk of Germany becoming directly involved in the war. His hesitancy is a source of friction in his three-party coalition and also annoyed Germany’s conservative opposition. But in the purported audio recording, German officers discuss the theoretical possibility of the missiles being used in Ukraine. Listen to more snippets from the Crimean Bridge section of the recording: RT has compiled a timeline of reporting and outline of what has been learned about the leaked audio recording, including initial international reactions, some of which is reproduced below: * * * A transcript and an audio recording, made public Simonyan posted the transcript of the February 19 phone call on her VK page, identifying the participants as the head of the German air force (Luftwaffe), General Ingo Gerhartz, the branch’s deputy chief of staff for operations, Brigadier-General Frank Graefe, and two others. Soon afterward, Simonyan published the audio recording of the discussion as well, in German, on her Telegram channel. What was said in the call The officers discussed the operational and targeting details of Taurus long-range missiles that Germany was debating sending to Ukraine, as if this had already been agreed upon – and how to maintain plausible deniability so that Germany could avoid crossing the “red line” of direct involvement. Gerhartz brought up various “tricks” that the Luftwaffe could use, including relying on “many people [in Ukraine] in civilian clothes who speak with an American accent,” but Graefe insisted that “there is no language that makes us a party to the conflict.”  Other officers spoke about providing the Ukrainians with both the missiles and the training to use them, as well as the satellite targeting information, possibly via Poland. Obsession with the Kerch Strait Bridge The Germans noted the Ukrainians’ fixation on the Crimean Bridge, mainly for political reasons. They noted that the bridge was sturdy enough that not even 20 missiles would be able to destroy it. The 50 or so missiles Berlin could provide Kiev – in batches – “won’t change the course of the war,” Gerhartz himself admitted. Russian reactions “We demand an explanation from Germany. Official Berlin must provide it immediately. Attempts to dodge the question will be considered an admission of guilt,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that NATO had “egg on its face” due to the recording. He also noted that the German officers knew perfectly well that they were discussing direct involvement, as evidenced by attempts to disguise or hide it, and highlighted the part about Americans operating in Ukraine. Speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said the legislature will address the recording when it reconvenes on March 11. The matter “deserves the most serious discussion” and Moscow certainly needs to “send a demand to the Bundestag to conduct an investigation,” he added. Germans have “once again turned into our archenemies,” said former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. “Just take a look at how thoroughly and in what detail the Krauts are discussing long-range missile strikes on Russia’s territory, and are picking out targets and the most workable ways to harm our Motherland and our people.” He ended his post with the WWII-era slogan, “Death to the Fascists!” Western reactions When asked about the recording and the transcript on Friday, the Pentagon declined to comment, telling American reporters to reach out to the German military instead. German officials have responded to the revelation by launching an investigation into how the recording got out. Speaking to Bild, a spokesperson for the Defense Ministry declined to “say anything about the content of the communications that were apparently intercepted.” However, multiple German media outlets have reported that a preliminary probe appeared to conclude that the recording was authentic. In light of this, Bundeswehr has resorted to censorship, with multiple accounts on X (formerly Twitter) that distributed the material being blocked in Germany, according to Bild. * * * Listen to the full leaked audio below (without translation from the German): Margarita Simonyan, as promised, publishes audio of a conversation between Bundeswehr officers discussing how they will bomb the Crimean Bridge. https://t.co/nIns6PjRlL pic.twitter.com/x5WVyZSYWw — Victor vicktop55 (@vicktop55) March 1, 2024 Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 07:11
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[l] at 3/3/24 5:00am
The Endgame, Part I: The Russo-Ukrainian War And Geopolitics Of Europe By Tuomas Malinen In early February, I posted a poll on X asking whether I should write a geopolitical piece on the Russo-Ukrainian war, adding to my series mapping a worst-case scenario for the war. While the vote count for this particular poll was not very high, an overwhelming majority supported this notion. Before conducting the poll, developments in Ukraine in December and January had led me to ponder the outcome, or endgame, of the war. In September 2022, I had established an alternative to the western narrative of the war, spewed relentlessly by our media. In it, I argued that Ukrainian losses are massive, passing Russian losses possibly 5-10 times. The Russian army has not collapsed, but it may have become the strongest it has been since WWII. The West (NATO) is fighting a proxy-war in Ukraine with the possible aim of regime change in Russia. Russia is about to create a war-machine not seen in Europe for a very long time, which it could use to unleash a devastating attack against Ukrainian (NATO) forces during the winter. In late-October 2022, I also noted that: The massive force Russia is amassing and the all-but-halted progress of Ukrainian forces, tells me that we are most likely approaching a turning point in the war. In the worst case, this implies that Ukraine has already lost. Even in the best case (excluding peace) this means that the war will drag on and become a resource race between NATO and Russia. Now, essentially all of this, except the Russian winter-offensive (2022/23) have been proven true. Ukraine has effectively lost the war, or a least she cannot win it in any plausible scenario. Just a few days ago, French President Emmanuel Macron attempted a game-changer, by “not ruling out” NATO boots in Ukraine. This, unsurprisingly, led to a strong backlash both from European allies and the Kremlin, but the idea of direct NATO involvement in Ukraine had been floated. Yet, we already know that western soldiers have been in Ukraine for some time and now we also know that NATO has been providing both operational and intelligence support for Ukraine for some time. Anyone who understands anything about the ‘power politics’ in Europe knows that radical new developments will be first proposed by some party/parties only to be shot down by other political leaders. However, after this initiation, the proposal keeps appearing in newspaper articles and comments by political leaders, which slowly turn from condemnation to neutrality and further to (reluctant) acceptance. This is why all of us concerned about pan-European security should be extremely vigilant concerning the plans of European political leaders and the elite. The analysis presented in this piece further amplify these concerns by showing that the motives of NATO in the Ukrainian conflict are unlikely to be benevolent for the European populace. The timing of the comment by Macron, was naturally no coincidence. The AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine) is currently facing a looming collapse of the eastern front. A key development was the fall of Avdiivka, a key town in the east, to Russians in mid-February. It now looks as though the AFU has no fortified positions after Avdiivka, which implies that the whole Ukrainian defenses can collapse in a matter of weeks. The questions we should be asking are as follows: Why are we here again, on the verge of another major war in Europe? Why has the narrative of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, changed so drastically from the first days of the war? We have learned that western nations, especially the U.S. and the U.K., have been adamantly against any ceasefire, not to mention peace, in Ukraine. From the perspective of the geopolitical security structure, based on integration, created in Europe after the Second World War, this makes absolutely no sense. Blaming only Russia for the war in Ukraine, would also be extremely naive. The actions of the U.S. in Ukraine before the onset of the first phase of the war, in 2014, do not stand up to any scrutiny. Also those, who consider Russia as a “white knight” in this macabre power play, are clinging on to beliefs that are not supported by reality. The longstanding, publicly stated position of neutrality of Russia in the conflict in Donbas, since 2014, is a blatant lie from the Kremlin. I know this, e.g. through my contacts in the operational leadership of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) mission in eastern Ukraine. But, this is just how these two major nuclear powers play this game. You just have to be careful to not blindly believe what either of the party argues. Yet, the decisions and actions, or “errors”, NATO has made in the Russia-Ukraine war, can only be plausibly explained with two scenarios. The first one is that NATO leadership is highly erratic, while the other is that NATO is not an “defense alliance”, but an aggressor. Both of these have dire implications for the security structure of Europe. Russian threat that wasn’t Sir Winston Churchill described Russia as a “riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside of an enigma”. This is how Russia presents itself to many westerners. The relatively chaotic, but mostly victorious military history of Russia conceals their centuries long aim of bezopasnost, which translates to “absence of threat”. The Napoleonic wars, which led to the Fire of Moscow, and Operation Barbarossa, one of most bloody wars of invasion ever fought in Europe, have been burned deeply into the psyche of Russian leaders. For a very long time, the threat to Russia has come from the west and from the south-west. Both Hitler and Napoleon proceeded to Russia through Poland and Ukraine. This is something that the collective west often and most likely deliberately forgets. On the other hand, the wars of invasion fought by Russia, and the Soviet Union, combined with their extensive ‘psyop’ operations in the West (conducted mostly by the Soviet Union), can be seen as an over-reach of security or direct policies of enlargement. However, also this is how major military powers operate, when they feel their security and/or interests threatened. The wars fought by Russia and the U.S. over the centuries, shows their power politics rather clearly. The difference between the two is that, while Russia has mostly fought wars close to its borders, the U.S. has waged wars, practically, across the globe. What is also deliberately forgotten in the west is that Russia is not the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was a superpower with the capacity to conquer and hold most of Europe. For decades, it was the second largest economy in the world, the winner of the first stage of the space race and a military giant. Russia’s economy, on the other hand, is eleventh largest in the world with a gross domestic product of $2.1 trillion in 2023, which is less than one-tenth of the U.S. economy ($26.9 trillion). The states of California and Texas, for example, have larger economies than Russia. This quite simply means that, while Russia currently most likely leads NATO in development of modern ground forces, the economy of Russia simply cannot cope with any larger wars of invasion. The costs of the annexation of Crimea to Russia’s fiscal balance were staggering. The economic foundations, like tourism and private businesses, on the Peninsula collapsed and Russia emptied her Sovereign Reserve Fund to pay for the costs of annexation. The second military phase of the conflict has more than halved the National Wealth Fund, with its value falling by $58 billion since February 2022. What do you think would happen, if Russia would invade, for example, the Baltics? Russian state finances would collapse without massive lending (money printing) from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, which would bring another round of hyperinflation. Purely from economic premises, the idea of Russia engaging in a war of invasion in Europe is preposterous! A wider war against NATO would utterly devastate Russian state finances, with a very high risk of devastating nuclear confrontation. This means that the Kremlin would not take upon such an endeavour, even if it were militarily possible (which it is not, at least not yet), without a direct threat to the survival of Russia. What could bring upon a such a threat? The two faces of NATO In January last year, I went through the uneasy relationship and rather aggressive history of NATO and Russia. The conclusion of my analysis was: The history of NATO, the lack of genuine push for peace from the West, and the current extremely dangerous rhetoric demanding for “full Russian capitulation” and the change in regime in Moscow, makes me think that the threat Kremlin feels has roots in reality. It seems more and more that the U.S. and NATO are using Europe to wage a war against her opponent for 80 years. The Eurasian power structure forming between Europe, China and Russia would have risen to challenge the U.S. hegemony, and this can be seen as the motive for such a worst-case scenario. This was a rough conclusion, but it was based on analyses of three leading geopolitical scholars (two American, one Russian). There was also one thing all geopolitical scholars, Russian and American (NATO-hawks and doves), agreed upon in the 1990's and 2000's. It was that Ukraine was a ‘no-go-zone’ for NATO. How and why did NATO then deliberately flirt with the idea of Ukraine becoming a member of NATO already in 2008? Moreover, the General Secretary of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, has given truly strange statements lately, including the statement that Ukraine would eventually become a member of NATO. This would violate all the principles and rules of how the alliance accepts new countries. The main problem with NATO is that it seems to have a mind of its own. It does not follow the guidance of its member states, nor even advice of the most notorious ‘NATO-hawks’, like Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski. Moreover, while no formal agreement was ever signed to stop NATO from expanding to former Soviet countries in eastern Europe, there were verbal agreements and statements of such a ‘moratoria’. It’s difficult to assess, how much weight the Kremlin originally put to such promises, but according to the statements by President Putin they were not negligible. Even as late as in early-December 2021, President Putin demanded guarantees that NATO would not expand eastward any further. This can be seen as a last-minute effort to prevent a wider conflict in Ukraine. Alas, it appears that NATO operates with two faces. Publicly it's a defense alliance, responding to the threat of Russia. Yet in the background, it is sowing the seeds of conflict, and flaming them by deliberately over-stepping the red lines of its main rival, Moscow. This leads us to the first scenario, i.e. to erratic NATO. Scenario I: NATO, the erratic The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4, 1949 (which happens to be the same day when Finland ascended to full membership to the alliance, in 2023) between the United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. In it, they agreed to consider an “attack against one an attack against all, along with consultations about threats and defense matters”. Moreover, the collective defense arrangement only applied to attacks against the signatories that occurred in Europe or North America and not, for example, to conflicts in colonial territories. This was the original aim of NATO. That is, to form a collective defense alliance between countries. It was naturally not the first of its kind in history, but it became the strongest one. The Soviet Union and its allies responded by forming the Warsaw Pact on 14 May, 1955. All through the Cold War, NATO acted honoring its original aim. It provided a credible counter-force to the military threat of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact on 25 February, 1991, NATO remained. Why? NATO started to take part or to lead military missions across the globe in the 1990's. At the same time NATO expanded eastwards with most of the eastern European countries joining the alliance between 1997 and 2020. This did not go unnoticed in the Kremlin, which drew definite red lines for the expansion in 2008. Alexander Grushko, Russia’s former deputy foreign minister stated in 2008 that, “Georgia’s and Ukraine’s membership into the alliance is a huge strategic mistake which would have the most serious consequences for pan-European security”. One Russian newspaper reported that, when Presidents Putin and Bush met, Putin stated that, "if Ukraine was accepted into NATO, it would cease to exist". These were extremely dire warnings that Ukraine was an integral part of the bezopasnost, a definite red line for Moscow. To emphasize the point, Russia invaded parts of Georgia in August 2008, after the idea of Georgia becoming a member in NATO was floated in 20th NATO Summit, held in Budapest between 2-4 April 2008 (there’s also controversy surrounding who started the war). Yet, every single one of those warnings was neglected by the leadership of NATO. To believe that the NATO leadership is simply erratic in their decisions, in the sense that they are deliberately over-stepping the red lines of Kremlin, requires that there exists a massive deficit by recent leaders of NATO to understand the communications coming from Moscow. These deficits would need to be so massive that believing in this scenario would require questioning the sanity of NATO leadership, because they are effectively over-stepping the red lines of a country with the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. I cannot believe in such a scenario of insanity, which leads us to the other scenario. That is, that NATO has evolved into something very different that it was in the beginning. Scenario II: NATO, the aggressor NATO is effectively run by the U.S., which covers some 22% of its budget. The U.S. also played a major role in the formation of its first ever military structure. By also being the largest nuclear power in the alliance, the U.S. can be seen wielding uncontested power in NATO's decision making process. The rather strange occurrence of escalations in Ukraine under democratic rules in the U.S. (Obama and Biden) can be seen either as a weakness of leadership which President Putin took advantage of, or as weakness exploited by the “Deep State”. The aggressive stance taken by NATO in Ukraine, a non-member country, hints to the latter. Deep state is often described as a conspiracy theory, where secret government networks collude to steer the politics of a state. However, a more plausible description for the term is a network of civil servants, guiding political leaders possibly for decades, who have formed their own view of how things should be handled. Some could describe this as a culture of governance. The thing with such networks is that, if they are subjected to a weak leader, the networks can start to run things, that is, to control decisions. The larger the network, the more extensive its power. There’s a very telling piece on this “power vacuum” a national leader faces, by no other than President Barack Obama. Every single human institution is also prone to corruption. This is often related to the nature of the power the network yields. If it, for example, has the ability to decide the fate of nations, we can expect corruption to become rather pervasive, if the power of the network goes unchecked. This tends to happen, if it has a weak leader, that is, when the network observes that the commander-in-chief does not have the capacity to properly digest and analyze their guidance, but just act upon them. At this point, there usually is a ‘silent revolution’, where the true decision making process, of any organization, is taken over by the network. Moreover, in such cases the immovable minority, consisting of intolerant and unyielding people, is likely to take over. In positions of power such minorities tend to exhibit meanness reaching even a psychopatic level. The immovable minority may also consist of people, who have devoted themselves to a certain cause or the cause of their background organizations. There’s no lack of secretive organizations running their own agendas in our societies, on which Freemasons are probably the most well known. In any case, the mental and physical state of the current leader of the U.S., President Joe Biden, has raised some serious questions. I was shocked to see how fragile he has become, when I watched his press conference, first time in a year, some weeks ago. He seems like an old man that should be in a retirement home. I have no doubt that he’s no longer in charge, but his team and the Deep State are. This leads us to the question, what is the Deep State pursuing? Answering this question is naturally possible only through indirect observations. If we observe all the “erratic” decisions and actions by NATO for the past 30 years, it’s hard to conclude anything else than that the Deep State seeks a direct confrontation with Russia. What could be the catalyst for this? Russia holds vast mineral resources, estimated to total between $75 to $90 trillion. In a sense, this makes Russia the richest country in the world. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia sought funds from everywhere, and was very open to investments. It could be that the Deep State hopes to accomplish the same if the current Russian administration collapses, but this is a very high risk strategy. The other likely motivation for the Russia-Ukraine war is to destroy the Eurasian alliance that was forming between China, Europe and the U.S. However, this already lies in ruins, but the aim could be to hold up the tensions so that there could be no detente between Europe and Russia/China. This requires that the war in Ukraine continues and even spreads. Peace would be very risky to this scenario, as Europe could be seeking to re-establish relations with Russia due to its importance, e.g. to European energy security. Peace at this point would also be a heavy blow to the credibility of the U.S. military power. The third possible source of motivation is rather speculative. I have speculated on the possibility that the global elite, and a powerful group behind (or over) them is sowing their own dark plan for Europe and the world. This group could be assumed to have a strong influence on the Deep State in all major countries. Their agenda would likely consist of inflicting ultimate chaos in the world in order to establish a pervasive control mechanism. World War III, even with the risk of nuclear annihilation, could serve such an agenda. Regardless of which of the two scenarios the current NATO leadership is following, the implications for Europe and the world are dire. This is because they both point to deepening escalation. This implies that we have entered the most dangerous period of European history since the late 1930's. I will publish scenarios for the endgame of Russia-Ukrainian war in the coming weeks. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/03/2024 - 07:00
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[l] at 3/2/24 9:20pm
The Pipe Bombs Before Jan. 6: Capital Mystery That Doesn't Add Up Authored by Julie Kelly via RealClear Wire, The newly disclosed video shows a dark SUV pulling up to the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., at 9:44 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2021. It sits for several minutes until a uniformed man with a bomb-sniffing dog enters from the right and steps up to the vehicle. The driver complies with his command, the dog sniffs inside and outside the car which is soon allowed to enter the parking garage. The man and his dog exit back to the right. This scene is unremarkable except for one detail: The uniformed man and his trained canine came within a few feet of where a plainclothes Capitol Police officer would soon discover a pipe bomb that had been planted there the night before. The bomb, which the FBI has described as viable and capable of inflicting serious injury, along with a similar one found at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee, would appear to be the most overt act of violence perpetrated on Jan. 6. Responding to the video discovered by this reporter, Rep. Barry Loudermilk, the Georgia Republican who chairs the House Oversight Committee subcommittee now conducting a separate inquiry into Jan. 6, asked, “How could a bomb-sniffing dog miss a pipe bomb at the DNC? We’ll add this to our long list of unanswered questions and continue getting to the truth.” The number of anomalies surrounding this still unsolved case continues to grow. These include: The failure of the Secret Service detail assigned to Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, who was inside DNC headquarters when the bomb was discovered, to find the device before her visit. The fact that the bomb at RNC headquarters was discovered by a government contractor with ties to the FBI. That law enforcement officials repeatedly described the bombs as “highly dangerous” but also said they couldn’t have detonated on their own because of their cheap kitchen timers. That cell phone data that might help locate the perpetrator has been deemed corrupted.   That the FBI’s geofence warrant to obtain cell phone data from Google gives no indication the warrant included the Capitol Hill neighborhood on the night of Jan. 5 – the time and location the pipe bombs were apparently planted. That the FBI assistant director leading the stalled investigation had previously been in charge of the investigation into a kidnap plot against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in which the bureau tried to get alleged conspirators to build bombs. That an FBI whistleblower has testified he was told the bombs were inoperable – a claim that seems supported by video showing authorities allowing children to cross the street toward the DNC bomb after it was discovered. Discovery of the new video featuring the ineffective bomb-sniffing dog has also generated skepticism about the timing of the day’s events: The RNC pipe bomb was discovered at 12:40 pm, just thirteen minutes before the first breach of police lines on the west side of the Capitol and 20 minutes before House and Senate members convened to consider the electoral college results of the 2020 election – creating a narrative of grave threat as the protests turned violent. How might the day have unfolded if the bombs had been discovered many hours before and large swaths of the city had been shut down? And why, given the devices’ proximity to the U.S. Capitol and the joint session of Congress that would involve every U.S. Senator and House member, did law enforcement not send investigators with bomb-sniffing canines to the Capitol immediately? Vanished Without a Trace The greatest mystery may be why official Washington has lost interest in this alleged act of domestic terrorism. In the three years since Jan. 6, the DOJ has conducted what Attorney General Merrick Garland describes as a criminal investigation proceeding at an “unprecedented speed and scale” into the protests. Casting a wide dragnet for Capitol protesters across the country, federal and local authorities in Washington have tracked down and prosecuted more than 1,300 defendants, almost all of whom were unarmed, including 62 individuals so far this year. Yet the perpetrator of what could have been the only deadly attack by a civilian that day appears to have vanished without a trace. He or she also seems to have slipped down the official memory hole. Although the Washington FBI field office recently issued a statement saying the “suspect may still pose a danger to the public or themselves” and upped the reward to $500,000, Washington appears to have lost interest in the pipe bomb whodunnit. The now defunct Select Committee to Investigate the Attack on the U.S. Capitol barely mentioned the pipe bomb threat in its final report; the committee did not include video of the incident or the suspect during any televised hearings. This strikes some observers as odd for two reasons: The pipe bombs seemed to offer the strongest evidence for the Committee’s case that Jan. 6 was an act of domestic terrorism, and the direct threat to the life of the vice president, who was at the DNC for nearly two hours as the device sat undetected outside the building. The major news organizations that initially devoted significant space to promote the idea that a supporter of Donald Trump tried to blow up buildings near the Capitol on Jan. 6 have also lost interest in the case. But a handful of outlets led by Revolver News stayed on the story. And the same media once fixated on the pipe bomber now considers poking holes in the government’s official story little more than right-wing conspiracy-mongering. The government’s seeming ineffectiveness, however, and lack of forthrightness regarding an allegedly deadly plot filled with unanswered questions has also created a wellspring of distrust.  The presence of bombs in the nation’s capital as the joint session of Congress convened to debate the outcome of the Electoral College vote animated the notion that Jan. 6 represented an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by Trump supporters. Reports that two explosives were found just blocks from the U.S. Capitol initiated the first wave of panic that accelerated throughout the afternoon. It began when a 37-year-old woman from Madison, Wisc., named Karlin Younger, who said she was walking to do her laundry near the RNC, discovered a device in an alley around 12:40 p.m. Although it is not clear whether the Jan. 6 committee interviewed Younger – her name does not appear in its final report – she gave numerous media interviews in the weeks and months following Jan. 6. In November 2021, Younger told Business Insider, “When I cast my eyes down, I just saw something kind of metallic, and it was just a very passing glimpse, and all I thought is someone must have missed the recycling bin. And I was going to recycle it, because I'm about that life. I just looked, and it was so completely unbelievable. You're not on high alert. You don't think you're under attack. I'm not in Iraq. This is Capitol Hill.” She beckoned an RNC security guard whose name has not been made public to confirm her suspicions. “Holy shit, it’s a bomb!” Younger said he exclaimed. The FBI interviewed Younger a few days later after she contacted the bureau’s Jan. 6 tip line. But it doesn’t appear she was interviewed again by the FBI. The FBI story. The FBI official leading the investigation, Washington FBI Field Office assistant director in charge Steven D’Antuono, told House Republicans he did not “recall” who discovered the device. Had the FBI come knocking again, Younger certainly would have consented to another interview. At the time, Younger worked for a public-private partnership called FirstNet, which provides interoperable broadband for first responders across the country. The month before Jan. 6, the FBI awarded a $92 million grant to FirstNet. Authorities quickly dispatched officers to the DNC located a few blocks away. A similar device reportedly was found on the ground between two benches outside one of the building’s entrances at 1:07 pm. In response, police immediately evacuated a few congressional buildings including the nearby Cannon House Office building. “I just had to evacuate my office because of a pipe bomb reported outside,” Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria tweeted at 1:46 p.m. “Supporters of the President are trying to force their way into the Capitol and I can hear what sounds like multiple gunshots. I don’t recognize our country today and the members of Congress who have supported this anarchy do not deserve to represent their fellow Americans.” The Capitol Police stated on Jan. 7 that both devices, which it said were “hazardous and could cause great harm to public safety,” were “disabled and turned over to the FBI for further investigation and analysis.” The FBI did not respond to a request for a report on the devices. The topic of the pipe bombs was raised repeatedly during the Department of Justice’s first press conference a few days later. In their joint appearance on Jan. 12, D’Antuono and acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin were asked by CBS News reporter Catherine Herridge whether the pipe bombs were a diversionary tactic to redirect police away from the site of the protest, or if the devices intended to kill or maim individuals working in both buildings. Sherwin responded that both scenarios would be explored during the investigation but he emphasized that the devices were “real” and contained “explosive igniters.” D’Antuono, who spearheaded the FBI’s Jan. 6 investigation including the pipe bombs, announced a $50,000 reward leading to the arrest of the perpetrator. “I just want to make that perfectly clear and that we’re looking at all angles in that. Every rock is being unturned, because we have to bring that person to justice or people to justice,” D’Antuono said. By the end of January 2021, the FBI released grainy footage of a person the government believed to be the bomber and upped the reward to a total of $75,000 – and which now stands at $500,000.  An individual, wearing a hoodie, a face mask, gloves, and Nike gym shoes, is seen carrying a backpack around the vicinity of both buildings. FBI authorities said the suspect planted the devices sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 5. Ashlan Benedict, head of D’Antuono’s ATF division, told CNN at the time that the bureau considered the investigation an urgent matter because the suspect “could potentially be building more bombs right now.” Intense media coverage followed. On Jan. 29, 2021, the Washington Post published an extensive story on the pipe bombs, assigning five of the paper’s top reporters to investigate the timeline and obtain private security camera footage from surrounding property owners. Months passed before D’Antuono’s office provided an update into the investigation. In September 2021, the FBI released more inconclusive security video obtained from a camera at the DNC showing the alleged suspect walking by the building and sitting on a bench next to where the bomb was discovered the next day. But the brief clip did not show the perpetrator removing anything from his backpack or placing a bomb on the ground. By the third anniversary of the Capitol protest, the FBI was still empty-handed. D’Antuono himself had become a target of media and congressional scrutiny over his handling of the Jan. 6 investigation and his involvement in the FBI-orchestrated plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. FBI Director Christopher Wray had promoted D’Antuono from head of the Detroit FBI field office – the office responsible for the key FBI agents, informants, and undercover employees responsible for executing the entrapment operation – to head of the Washington FBI office in October 2020. That case also involved the use of explosives. The FBI ran an undercover agent disguised as an explosives expert into the group of alleged kidnappers to lure them into attempting to buy components to build a bomb. Several of the men targeted by the FBI were arrested when the FBI’s lead informant drove them to meet the undercover agent acting as a bomb builder. Under questioning by House Republicans in 2023, D’Antuono, who retired from the FBI after Republicans won control of the House in November 2022 to take a job in the private sector, appeared less confident about the threat posed by the pipe bombs than he had in public statements. Asked by Rep. Tom Massie whether a one-hour kitchen timer, a component of both devices, could detonate a bomb 17 hours after it was set, D’Antuono said it could not. D’Antuono admitted he did not follow the “granularity” of his office’s inquiry into the pipe bomber case and also did not know if the FBI interviewed the person who discovered the device outside the DNC.  D’Antuono also testified that a search warrant failed to scoop up data of the alleged suspect, who is seen handling a cell phone on his walk in the vicinity. Stating the FBI did a “complete” geofence warrant for Jan. 6, D’Antuono disclosed that data from one company strangely was missing. “Some data that was corrupted by one of the providers, not purposely by them, right. It just – unusual circumstance that we have corrupt data from one of the providers. I'm not sure – I can't remember right now which one. But for that day, which is awful because we don't have that information to search. So could it have been that provider? Yeah, with our luck, you know, with this investigation it probably was.” Congressional Republicans say they were troubled by another aspect of D’Antuono’s testimony related to the allegedly corrupted file. While the FBI did issue a geofence warrant to obtain cell phone data from Google, there is no indication the warrant included Jan. 5 – the day the pipe bombs were allegedly planted. Public reporting and court filings in Jan. 6 cases indicate the warrant identified three specific time periods on Jan. 6, resulting in the collection of data from more than 5,000 devices, but did not request records for Jan. 5. “Mr. D’Antuono's testimony raises concerns about the FBI’s handling of the pipe bomb investigation, more than 890 days following the placement of the pipe bombs. To date, the FBI has failed to respond to the Committee's requests for a briefing regarding the investigation,” Jim Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote in June 2023. Other aspects of the pipe bomb story started to raise eyebrows. After nearly a year of misleading judges and defendants, federal prosecutors revealed in late 2021 that Kamala Harris was at the DNC and not at the Capitol on Jan. 6; the government was forced to disclose her whereabouts to correct court filings that stated Harris was in the Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6. Harris left the Capitol following a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing and arrived at the DNC around 11:25 a.m. She remained inside the building until she was evacuated at 1:15 p.m.  The timeline generated even more head-scratchers. How did her security detail, which included Secret Service agents and D.C. Metropolitan police officers, miss the device sitting in relatively plain view? Did the Secret Service fail to perform a sweep of the premises before she arrived? Even so, how did numerous law enforcement agents not see a pipe bomb laying on the ground just feet from her parked motorcade? Further, security video posted this month by Revolver News showed law enforcement's puzzling reaction to the discovery of the bomb at 1:07 p.m. “The most striking feature of the footage depicting the discovery of the DNC bomb is the utter nonchalance of the Secret Service officials, Metro PD officials, and Capitol Police officers upon learning of the proximity of the bomb,” Darren J. Beattie of Revolver wrote on Jan. 18. “The Metro PD officers didn’t even bother getting out of their vehicles for about a minute after being informed of the bomb and proceeded to stand around in the most lackadaisical fashion imaginable once getting out of the vehicles.” And according to Sean Gallagher, chief of the Protective Services Bureau of the Capitol Police, one of his plainclothes officers found the bomb after responding to the threat at neighboring RNC. “[One] of my counterintelligence teams that was doing enhanced sweeps around the DNC found a pipe bomb at the DNC as well,” Gallagher told the Jan. 6 committee in 2022. He also did not discuss with the committee Harris’ presence or any aid his division provided in ensuring her safe escape from the building. Even more puzzling is the fact Harris never mentions the episode in her public statements, even though she has compared Jan. 6 to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Reporters also appear uninterested in the subject; Harris, more than three years later, hasn’t been asked about it. The Secret Service also is mum on the issue – and under suspicious circumstances. Text messages belonging to at least two dozen officials and agents from Jan. 5 and 6 were deleted at the end of January 2021 and never recovered. Jan. 6 committee investigators, when first informed the messages were purged during “a pre-planned, three-month system migration,” according to an agency spokesman, issued a subpoena for the missing records in July 2022, but the request came up empty. Committee investigators did not continue their inquiry further. This represents another aspect of the congressional investigation that did not reach an edifying conclusion. A suspected Trump supporter planted a bomb that could have killed the first female and person of color to hold the office of the vice presidency – and it only merited one sentence in an 840-page report. Tyler Durden Sat, 03/02/2024 - 23:20

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