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Supporting Ukraine Is 'Tough & Painful' Amid Growing War Fatigue, UK Foreign Secretary Admits

Supporting Ukraine Is 'Tough & Painful' Amid Growing War Fatigue, UK Foreign Secretary Admits

In a fresh interview, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has acknowledged "growing anti-Ukrainian sentiment" among Western allies and the public, but has urged leaders to not waiver in their support, despite the current situation being "tough and painful"

Interestingly, the words came in an interview where a big focus was the potential for another Trump presidency in the US. When asked about Western reluctance in some corners to stop aiding and supplying Ukraine, he asserted that the situation "will just get worse" if Kiev doesn't receive the support needed against Russia. Cleverly conceded that the war is "putting pressure on countries all over the world."

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, via BBC

"If we don’t stick with our support to Ukraine, if we send the signal that aggressors can prosper, then all the problems that we are currently facing: those inflationary pressures on food and on fuel, the political pressure that comes from having a conflict like this, they will just get worse," Cleverly said

"Which is why the UK’s government position is resolute. We make that point to all our international partners. This is tough and this is painful," he acknowledged. "But it will only be more tough and more painful if we falter."

Fatigue, he underscored, "is something we have got to deal with," and is a "big thing".

The interviewer had opened this segment of questioning by calling attention to the "growing anti-Ukrainian sentiment being used in election campaigning like that in Poland, which has seen the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party ban Ukrainian grain imports (with similar bans in place in Slovakia and Hungary)..." In Poland, this has further involved the government ordering the "end of benefits for refugees fleeing the war" and even halting future weapons supplies.

The Saturday published interview comes on the heels of Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergey Marchenko having recently admitted those allies still willing to give Kiev money is "growing smaller and smaller."

Additionally, billions more for Ukraine is now in doubt as Republicans in the House of Representatives fight over whether to include it in next year's government funding bill, making a govt shutdown imminent. 

In Canada, the 'NaziGate' fiasco in parliament is also a big setback for Ukraine and its supporters, proving a public embarrassment which is likely to result in waning public support for the whole Ukraine cause.

Still, even if Western military hardware and advanced missiles and tanks continue to be handed over the Kiev, some Ukrainian officials have admitted it's "too little, too late" now that Russian forces are dug in over broad swathes of the east, also behind miles of mine fields.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 12:05

Now Hiring: The Ministry Of Failure

Now Hiring: The Ministry Of Failure

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Those expecting some centralized, political-administrative "solution" will be disappointed, as the political-administrative "solution" is actually the problem.

The Ministry of Failure is hiring, as their decades-long expansion is accelerating. You probably don't know about the Ministry, but you see its handiwork everywhere. The principle behind the Ministry's existence and its raison d'etre is simple: failure is more profitable than efficiency.

The greater the inefficiency and the higher the failure rate, the fatter the budgets and profits. Consider the permit process: the longer it takes, the more revisions and hoops the applicant must go through and the higher the late fees and penalties for non-compliance, the fatter the budget of the agency and the fatter the compensation of the administrative staff. Inefficiency is more profitable than efficiency.

Consider the immense profitability of planned and quasi-planned obsolescence. The Ministry of Failure doesn't take any chances; it requires manufacturers to use the cheapest, lowest-quality electronic components so the failure of the controller board is essentially guaranteed. And since the cost of the replacement board and the labor to install it is so outrageous, the consumer is forced to buy a new product. Failure is more profitable than durability.

The Ministry is also tasked with eliminating competition while masking this behind a phony facade of faux competition. Consider insulin, a pharmaceutical product that is essential to diabetics. Here is a snippet from the Yale School of Medicine website:

Insulin is seven to 10 times more expensive in the U.S. compared with other countries around the world. The same vial of insulin that cost $21 in the U.S. in 1996 now costs upward of $250. But it takes only an estimated $2 to $4 to produce a vial of insulin.

The Ministry of Failure has spent decades perfecting various cover stories for quasi-monopolies and cartels to justify their blatant profiteering. The Ministry tirelessly works to eliminate competition, grease the revolving doors of regulatory capture and add more compliance thorns to the regulatory thicket that keeps oh-so-unprofitable competition safely suppressed.

So insulin costs 10X in the U.S.? Fantastic! Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Failure, this abject failure is incredibly profitable.

The Ministry understands that any efficiency or reduction in administrative friction steps on somebody's toes by disrupting the profitability of failure and administrative churn. All those toes crushed by efficiency and reducing administrative dead weight belong to powerful interests, and so everything continues to be done the way it's been done because any increase in efficiency / durability and any reduction in administrative bloat hurts somebody with political clout.

One of the greatest successes of the Ministry of Failure has been the rise to dominance of administrative bloat. Consider the example of the healthcare sector, which has experienced an explosive rise in the number of administrators and in the salaries of these administrators (see charts below).

This doesn't reflect the staggering increase in administrative burdens placed on doctors and nurses. The Ministry of Failure has worked tirelessly to exhaust frontline workers everywhere with needless, pointless admin duties.

All of this bloat and inefficiency has been papered over with an equally explosive rise in borrowed money. All the gross inefficiencies, skims, scams and administrative bloat have pushed costs higher, and so the Ministry has worked with the political class and the Federal Reserve to flood the economy with "free money" borrowed into existence by the Fed and the federal government.

Since efficiency and reducing administrative bloat are impossible because somebody's toes will be stepped on, the only "solution" is to slosh more money into the failed system. If insulin costs 10X what it costs in other developed nations, no problem, let's just borrow another trillion dollars (oh heck, make it $10 trillion) so the costs of failure disappear into the background.

One of the outstanding successes of the Ministry of Failure in the past two decades has been the expansion of student loan debt from near-zero to $1.77 trillion. These trillions paid for the expansion of administrative bloat in higher education, and nice salaries and benefits for the administrators. Everybody wins, right?

That all this failure is a net loss to our society and economy is masked by the borrowed trillions. Need more money to pay for failure? Just borrow more. So total debt, public, private and corporate, skyrockets from $20 trillion to $95 trillion, so what? The Fed can always create as much as we need to afford the profitability of failure.

But this "solution" is illusion: the costs of failure have simply been transferred to the citizenry, society and the economy, all of which are now staggering under a crushing weight of debt, money borrowed to keep failure profitable.

Those expecting some centralized, political-administrative "solution" will be disappointed as the political-administrative "solution" is actually the problem.

The default path is to take a job in the Ministry of Failure and borrow boatloads of money to paper over the costs of systemic failure in our own lives.

The only real solution available is to develop solutions for yourself and your household: pursue Self-Reliance and learn how to accredit yourself, a process I describe in my book Get a Job and Build a Real Career. Solutions and workarounds abound, but they're not centralized or administrative in nature.

*  *  *

My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century. Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

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Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 11:30

The Costco Gold Indicator

The Costco Gold Indicator

Submitted by QTR's Fringe Finance

Can we all agree that once it becomes common knowledge just how ridiculous Modern Monetary Theory is, it'll be a treacherous day for the confidence that Americans place in the Fed?

All I do is write about the Federal Reserve. I've been talking about them for the last 15 years nonstop and have constantly been skeptical of monetary policy in this country. This policy can best be described as a combination of Sam Bankman-Fried's and Bernie Madoff's management styles—combined and on a sovereign scale.

Putting aside whether or not I'll eventually be proven right with my skepticism, or if I am engaging in a lifelong, fruitless campaign against the world's most successful monetary policy (like I give a sh*t), the one catalyst I have always considered devastating to the central banking model is the public's awareness of just how it works.

Make no mistake about it: inflation and corporate bailouts that widen the inequality gap are definitely horrifying. What makes it more nefarious, I have argued, is the fact that most people don't understand how it happens. This takes place in the "dark machinery of the night," to borrow some imagery from Ginsberg.

And if there's one thing I've given Bitcoin credit for over the last decade, it has been empowering the younger generation to understand how central banking and fiat currency work. Regardless of whether or not Bitcoin turns out to be a successful investment, I have not witnessed such an effective tool for empowering people with the knowledge of how central banking works as I have with Bitcoin.

I would also argue that the nation has never been in such a precarious and questionable spot with its monetary policy decisions as it is right now. Make no mistake about it: this is uncharted territory. We are dealing right now with the consequences of two decades of easy-money policies that should have been corrected years, if not decades, ago. There are multiple forces at work here, like a rip current underneath a raging storm tide, pulling in multiple directions.

First, we have a $7 trillion liquidity bomb pumped into the system as a result of Covid and its related stimulus. Then, we have the fastest acceleration of interest rates to the highest federal funds rate we have seen in decades. Rates across the board, including mortgage rates, have hit multi-decade highs in record time.

In addition, we have a stock market that appears to me to be insanely overvalued and priced purely for speculation.

50% OFF ALL SUBSCRIPTIONS: Subscribe and get 50% off and no price hikes for as long as you wish to be a subscriber.

So what's the point of all this? Am I going to once again tell you that the entire system is going to come crashing down and all life as we know it will stop at the speed of light, like when they crossed the streams in "Ghostbusters"? No. But I do think it is noteworthy that people understand that central banking policies are being called into question publicly a little bit more than they have in the past. For example, in Congress days ago, Matt Gaetz made the following joke:

"We are devaluing American money so rapidly that in America today, you can't even bribe Democrat senators with cash alone. You need to bring gold bars to get the job done, just so the bribes hold value."

Putting aside what you think about him or the Republican party, the soundness of our money is an infrequently discussed topic in the halls of Congress. The issue has also been brought up repeatedly by presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who is running on a platform of reducing the amount of power granted to the Federal Reserve.

But finally, there has been a true test of consumer demand for skepticism of monetary policy with Costco recently selling gold bars. That's right—a retail outlet is actually selling real money.

Just think about this for a moment: people are buying gold from Costco. This tells us that the average American has grown so weary of our government's reckless spending and the Fed's irresponsible monetary policy that they literally want to fill their shopping cart — online or in person — with something they know is real money. From People:

The retail giant has recently been selling 1 oz. bars of authentic 24-karat gold from South African mining company Rand Refinery and Swiss precious metal supplier PAMP Suisse on their website for $1,949.99 and  $1,979.99, respectively, according to Insider.

According to the product details on Costco’s page, Rand Refinery’s gold bars are individually stamped with a unique serial number and arrive in a sealed black assay card, while PAMP Suisse’s gold bars are individually “controlled, registered, and secured” within CertiPAMP™ packaging with an official Assay Certificate and a digital certificate accessed with a QR Code. 

Both items are non-refundable, provide air shipping via UPS and currently have a 4.9 out of 5 average rating on the company’s website, with one member writing on Rand Refinery’s gold bar customer rating that it was a “beautiful piece of gold” and “brand new.”

It's an incredible commentary on the average American citizen. Americans are literally choosing to transact U.S. dollars for gold.

Just because it's happening on a website that says "Costco" and the transaction is being consummated by housewives named Florence doesn't change the fact that enough people thought converting U.S. dollars into hard assets was a high enough priority that these bars sold out at Costco. These aren’t shoppers heading over to Kitco — these are people casually picking up some gold when they buy dog food and toilet paper.

And if you think that's crazy now, wait until we hit a period of volatility. So far, markets have been pretty orderly, but it's a mathematical certainty that this won't continue to be the case. These gold bar purchases will look like when I was early on Covid and buying face masks at stores like Sherwin-Williams and hand sanitizer at my local Aldi. Just weeks later, people were beating each other up in grocery store aisles for toilet paper.

If you think the same "oh sh*t" moment can't happen with gold and other types of real money, you're sorely mistaken. '

To gauge the average American citizen's trust in our fiscal and monetary policy, look no further than what's going on at Costco.

QTR’s Disclaimer: I am an idiot and often get things wrong and lose money. I may own or transact in any names mentioned in this piece at any time without warning. This is not a recommendation to buy or sell any stocks or securities, just my opinions. I often lose money on positions I trade/invest in. I may add any name mentioned in this article and sell any name mentioned in this piece at any time, without further warning. None of this is a solicitation to buy or sell securities. These positions can change immediately as soon as I publish this, with or without notice. You are on your own. Do not make decisions based on my blog. I exist on the fringe. The publisher does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in this page. These are not the opinions of any of my employers, partners, or associates. I did my best to be honest about my disclosures but can’t guarantee I am right; I write these posts after a couple beers sometimes. Also, I just straight up get shit wrong a lot. I mention it twice because it’s that important.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 10:30

Is Google Rigging The 2024 Election? The Controversy Over Invisible Republicans

Is Google Rigging The 2024 Election? The Controversy Over Invisible Republicans

A new report from the right-leaning Media Research Center concludes that Google is burying search results for 2024 presidential candidates, but an expert in search engine optimization has suggested it's unlikely.

According to various tests conducted by MRC and Just the News, the online visibility of these sites in generic searches for the GOP’s 2024 bench is practically nil, and not significantly better for RFK Jr., Biden's primary challenge on the left.

Google's search engine failed to produce even-handed results in multiple searches performed by MRC Free Speech America over the course of a week prior to today's Republican presidential primary debate. Researchers broadly searched for “presidential campaign websites” as well as two additional searches specifying the party affiliation of the candidates. When MRC searched for “republican presidential campaign websites,” only two candidates’ websites appeared on the first page in the search results — a Democrat candidate and a Republican who is polling at less than half a percent. -MRC

Both MRC and Senator Ted Cruz claim this is unambiguous proof of Google's bias.

"Google is either the most incompetent search engine on the planet, or it is intentional. This is not a coincidence," states Dan Schneider, MRC Free Speech America Vice President, following the group’s extensive analysis of search tests conducted between September 20 and 25.

This is ABSURD.

Blatant election interference. #GoogleCensorship

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 27, 2023

In 2018, Trump accused Google of "rigging" search results against him.

Google responded at the time, saying that "Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology."

In 2021, the Daily Mail sued Google for 'illegally building its dominance in ad tech industry by harming rivals, bid-rigging on ad auctions and manipulating news search results."

And of course, former Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt - who said the Trump administration would do "evil things" - was an advisor to the 2016 Clinton campaign.

Google head Eric Schmidt's secret strategic plan for the US election #PodestaEmails


— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 31, 2016

A simple matter of SEO?

While the evidence certainly looks damning, Just the News spoke with Eric Goldman, an SEO researcher and co-director of Santa Clara University's High Tech Law Institute, who proposed several benign possibilities to explain these search anomalies. Goldman argues for the necessity of a comprehensive academic study into search engine indexing and ordering, terming MRC’s tests an “advocacy stunt”.

"Search engine indexing and ordering is the kind of topic that would benefit from a proper academic study, not an advocacy stunt," he said.

Yet, Google also told Just the News that it couldn't explain the replicated results until Friday.

Meanwhile, Google, the world’s dominant search engine, is grappling with a Justice Department antitrust trial. The company's explanations of its search dominance have raised eyebrows, bringing more scrutiny upon its practices. With accusations flying, former Psychology Today editor-in-chief Robert Epstein states, "Google poses a serious threat to democracy."

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 09:55

GM, Ford CEOs Blast UAW Boss As Strikes Expand  

GM, Ford CEOs Blast UAW Boss As Strikes Expand  

The CEOs of Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. blasted United Auto Workers boss Shawn Fain for expanding strikes on Friday - now in its third week. Fain said meaningful progress on a new four-year labor contract with Chrysler-parent Stellantis would allow the automaker to avoid additional strikes. 

GM CEO Mary Barra was furious with Fain: "It's clear that there is no real intent to get to an agreement." Ford CEO Jim Farley said, "UAW is holding the deal hostage over battery plants." 

Farley warned UAW pay hike demands "have a devastating impact on our business," adding that the disagreement on wages centers around future electric vehicle battery plants. 

"What's really frustrating is, I believe we could have reached a compromise on pay and benefits, but so far, the UAW is holding the deal hostage over battery plants," Farley said. He added, "Keep in mind these battery plants don't exist yet."

Fain quickly responded to Farley's comments about the union: "I don't know why Jim Farley is lying about the state of negotiations. It could be because he failed to show up for bargaining this week, as he has for most of the past ten weeks. If he were there, he'd know we gave Ford a comprehensive proposal on Monday and still haven't heard back."

Barra repeated much of Farley's criticisms of Fain: "It's clear that there is no real intent to get to an agreement. It is clear Shawn Fain wants to make history for himself, but it can't be to the detriment of our represented team members and the industry."

Comments from Farley and Barra came hours after Fain announced expanding strikes at their respective auto plants while he said Stellantis made meaningful progress on a new four-year labor contract and would avoid further strikes.

UAW currently has 25,000, or about 17% of the union, on strike at the three automakers. 

A Bloomberg report earlier this week said Fain had reduced pay hike demands from 40% to 30% with automakers. Still, negotiators at the three carmakers are around 20%, which means both parties are far apart from an imminent deal. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 09:55

10 Numbers Which Prove That The US Economy Has Hit A Major Pivot Point

10 Numbers Which Prove That The US Economy Has Hit A Major Pivot Point

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

During the summer, many of the experts repeatedly assured us that the U.S. economy would be able to avoid a recession, but now reality is setting in. 

Credit conditions continue to tighten, home sales are falling, credit card losses are exploding, stores are closing all over the country, and the number of bankruptcies is rising to very alarming levels.  Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to become more and more suffocating.  If you have a gut feeling that very hard times are on the horizon, you are definitely not alone.  As you will see below, a staggering 71 percent of all Americans currently believe that America is on the wrong track, and our economy is one of the biggest reasons why they feel this way. 

The following are 10 numbers which prove that the U.S. economy has hit a major pivot point…

#1 Consumer confidence was down more than expected this month…

The confidence of American consumers slipped this month, particularly about the future, as expectations persist that interest rates will remain elevated for an extended period.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index fell to 103 in September from 108.7 in August. Analysts were expecting a smaller decrease, to a reading of 105.

#2 The Conference Board’s index that measures future expectations has actually dropped below a level that historically signals “a recession within a year”

Most troubling was the decline in the index measuring future expectations, which tumbled to 73.7 in September from 83.3 in August. Readings below 80 for future expectations historically signal a recession within a year.

#3 With mortgage rates at suffocating levels, sales of new homes in the U.S. fell 8.7 percent last month

New home sales dropped in August from the month before, as mortgage rates topped 7% and rose to the highest levels in more than 20 years.

Sales of newly constructed homes fell 8.7% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 675,000 from a revised rate of 739,000 in July, according to a joint report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau.

#4 A record high percentage of U.S. consumers are indicating that credit conditions are getting tighter

American consumers are worried about access to credit amid persistently higher interest rates and tighter standards at banks, according to a New York Federal Reserve survey released Monday.

Respondents indicating that the ability to get loans, credit cards and mortgages is harder now than it was a year ago rose to nearly 60%, the highest level in a data series that goes back to June 2013. The results were part of the New York Fed’s Survey of Consumer Expectations for August.

#5 Credit card losses are increasing at the fastest pace in 30 years

Credit card companies are racking up losses at the fastest pace in almost 30 years, outside of the Great Financial Crisis, according to Goldman Sachs.

Credit card losses bottomed in September 2021, and while initial increases were likely reversals from stimulus, they have been rapidly rising since the first quarter of 2022. Since that time, it’s an increasing rate of losses only seen in recent history during the recession of 2008.

It is far from over, the firm predicts.

#6 At this point, things are getting so bad that even the Federal Reserve is laying off about 300 workers

At a time when mainstream economists and FOMC policymakers are betting the farm on a “soft landing” for the US economy, an unexpectedly hard signal was just issued by none other than the Fed itself: for the first time in over a decade, the US central bank announced it would cut about 300 people from its payroll this year, a rare reduction in headcount for an organization that has grown steadily since 2010 – after all, it takes if not a village (with its own police force), then certainly thousands of workers to come up with catastrophically wrong economic forecasts and to keep the money printer primed and ready to pump out a few trillion at a moment’s notice.The nu

#7 The number of bankruptcy cases in the United States has increased on a year over year basis for 13 months in a row

Data released Tuesday showed that Americans filed more than 39,000 bankruptcy cases in Aug. 2023, an 18 percent increase from the same time last year.

The data released by Unusual Whales details how, along with personal bankruptcy filings, there were more than 41,600 new bankruptcy cases recorded in August, including for businesses. This marks the thirteenth consecutive month that bankruptcy filings have shown a year-over-year increase under the Biden administration’s embarrassing and dangerous economic policies.

#8 Goldman Sachs is warning that America’s strategic oil reserve has hit a 40 year low

America’s emergency oil stockpile has plunged to 40-year lows. The shrinking Strategic Petroleum Reserve is limiting Washington’s ability to shield consumers from the fallout of Saudi Arabia’s aggressive supply cuts, according to Goldman Sachs.

“At this point, US energy policy has fewer bullets left. It has less levers left in its policy toolkit,” Daan Struyven, head of oil research at Goldman Sachs, told CNN in a phone interview.

That’s one reason Goldman Sachs expects oil prices to stay high, averaging $100 a barrel this time next year. Triple-digit oil would boost already-high prices at the pump, worsening inflation and potentially influencing the 2024 race for the White House.

#9 It is being projected that the price of oil could eventually reach 150 dollars a barrel.  Needless to say, such a development would radically change our economic outlook…

That’s Doug Lawler, chief executive of Continental Resources, the shale-drilling giant controlled by billionaire Harold Hamm, telling Bloomberg News on Monday that crude prices are set to remain elevated and could press to the $120- to $150-a-barrel range without new production.

#10 A new NBC News poll has found that 71 percent of Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track…

The 71% of Americans in our latest NBC News poll saying the country is headed in the wrong direction is the eighth time in the last nine NBC News surveys dating back to Oct. 2021 when the wrong track has been above 70%.

And the one exception was in Sept. 2022, when it was 68%.

We have never before seen this level of sustained pessimism in the 30-year-plus history of the poll.

For more than a year, there has been speculation about when the next wave of our economic crisis would arrive.

Well, it appears that it is here.

The months ahead promise to be very challenging, and the long-term outlook is even worse.

2024 is certainly shaping up to be quite a year.

Economic conditions will be deteriorating just as we head into the most tumultuous election season that we have ever witnessed.

Stay safe out there, because things will soon start getting really crazy in this country.

*  *  *

Michael’s new book entitled “End Times” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on, and you can check out his new Substack newsletter right here.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 09:20

Sweden Turns To Military For Help Amid Daily Shootings, Bombings In Migrant Gangland Chaos

Sweden Turns To Military For Help Amid Daily Shootings, Bombings In Migrant Gangland Chaos

Last year Sweden witnessed its highest death toll from shootings on record, at more than 60 killed, with this year on track to possibly surpass that as the country's gang violence continues spiraling out of control.

At a moment scenes of illegal migrants flooding southern Europe from across the Mediterranean continue unabated, even mainstream publications like FT haven't hesitated to identify what's fueling the crime and turning Sweden's streets into war zones: "Police chiefs have said that Sweden is facing its most serious domestic security situation since the second world war as immigrant drug gangs engage in a bloody conflict," FT writes.

And there's even "child soldiers" in the heart of Scandinavian Europe: "Police believe the gangs are increasingly using children to commit the crimes, as those under 18 often go unpunished or receive low sentences from the courts."

AFP/Getty Images: A huge influx of asylum seekers began particularly in 2015.

Headlines like this one days ago from the Associated Press have tragically become almost commonplace: A 13-year-old boy found shot in the woods was a victim of Sweden’s gang violence. Gangs also regularly commit bombings and arson, sometimes destroying whole city blocks and districts.

Sweden has for much of the last decade been the leading bastion of liberal immigration policies in Europe, having welcomed hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers from the Middle East and Africa. Simultaneously its third-largest city, Malmö, has for years been widely seen as Europe's gun homicide capital.

And yet, the European Left tends to only emphasize talking points of "failure to integrate" and "racism" and "rightwing extremism" - which has led to "parallel societies", serving to periodically unleash riots in places with large immigrant concentrations.

Now, after a dozen more lives were lost this month, which has included innocent bystanders and young gang members alike, government leaders are talking about 'getting tough' by calling in the military:

Sweden’s prime minister on Thursday said that he’s summoned the head of the military to discuss how the armed forces can help police deal with an unprecedented crime wave that has shocked the country with almost daily shootings and bombings.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is meeting with both the armed forces’ supreme commander and the national police commissioner on Friday to consider "how the armed forces can help police in their work against the criminal gangs."

On Thursday an explosion ripped through the Storvreta area outside Uppsala, Sweden. A 25-year-old woman died. TT News Agency via Reuters

"Sweden has never before seen anything like this," Kristersson said of soaring violent crime during a Thursday televised speech to the nation. "No other country in Europe is seeing anything like this."

According to more from the AP:

Sweden has grappled with gang violence for years, but the surge in shootings and bombings in September has been exceptional. Three people were killed overnight in separate attacks with suspected links to criminal gangs, which often recruit teenagers in socially disadvantaged immigrant neighborhoods to carry out hits.

One of the victims was a woman in her 20s who died in an explosion in Uppsala, north of Stockholm. Swedish media said she was likely not the intended target of the attack.

Addressing this week's tragic bombing, Kristersson described that "A 25-year-old woman went to bed last night on a completely ordinary evening but never got to wake up."

In Sweden, immigrants destroy Malmo shouting "Allah Akbar". This must be the enrichment part we all hear about?

— AlphaFo𝕏 (@Alphafox78) September 20, 2023

He added: "We will hunt the gangs, we will defeat the gangs." The aforementioned powerful blast in a residential area had ripped the facades off multiple houses.

Below: Gang-related shootings and killings have been the bulk of overall confirmed homicides in the country...

You will find more infographics at Statista

Kristersson’s center-right government rose power last year largely on a platform of getting tough on crime. Kristersson has done a rare thing for a Swedish politician, placing blame squarely on "irresponsible migration policies and failed integration" under the previous government and years of failed policies.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 08:45

Escobar: The Abuse Of Europe Is Never-Ending While Hegemon Is Making A 'Killing'

Escobar: The Abuse Of Europe Is Never-Ending While Hegemon Is Making A 'Killing'

Authored by Pepe Escobar,

In the Kremlin’s strategy the ultimate aim is to demilitarize and smash NATO. We’re getting there, slowly but surely...

We may always dream that following an Ariadne’s thread we might, just might, extricate ourselves from the current, incandescent geopolitical labyrinth by applying an exceedingly overhyped commodity: logic.

Yet the post-everything, cancel culture West has also cancelled logic.

When in doubt, at least we can go back to foundation myths.

So let’s go back to the birth of the West, as in Europe.

Legend tells us that one fine day Zeus happened to set his roving eye on a beautiful girl with big, bright eyes, a daughter from a thalassocratic civilization in the Levant: Europa.

A while later, on a pristine beach in the Phoenician coast, an extraordinary white bull showed up. Europa, intrigued, got closer and started to caress the bull; of course, that was Zeus in disguise. The bull duly annexed Europa and darted towards the sea.

Zeus had three sons with Europa — and left her a spear that never missed its target. One of these sons,
as we all know, was Minos, who built a labyrinth.

But most of all what legend taught us was that the West was born out of a girl – Europa – who came from the East.

Enter the toxic Medusa

Now cue to a trashy Medusa maneuvering her toxic tentacles in Brussels, using a self-congratulatory Atlanticist fest to praise the head of the Japanese government for supporting the neo-nazi gang in Kiev and fighting Russia.

That was the preamble for a linguistic twist from hell: “Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons again," that blamed Russia, by implication, for the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, when the whole planet knows who did it.

Astonishing lying is the Medusa’s standard modus operandi: yet what’s even more startling is that this Eurotrash stock in trade is fully normalized. And of course merrily accepted by the Rising Sun neo-colony.

This is how History is now being taught in “elite” universities across the collective West. And this is also the reason why Russia has given up on finding even minimally qualified interlocutors across the collective West.

And it gets worse. Such emanations from a cultural swamp are supposed to represent “Europe”. We are light years away from the late, great Gianni Vatimo – one of the last towering European intellects, who proposed several nuances of compassionate nihilism and an understanding of politics as forms of consensus that communities deliver inside historical and cultural horizons.

The abuse of Europe is never-ending.

In geoeconomics, German industrial exports – which were a key factor in its positive balance of payments – are going down the drain. Germany and assorted EU nations are now dependent on ultra-costly American LNG.

An enslaved EU was forced by the American “ally” to simply give up on the Russian market for its own auto and other exports that paid for cheap energy imports. In a matter of months, balanced trade Looking East was turned into deficit trade with the Hegemon.

That is the key legacy of the tactical victory obtained by the Hegemon with the bombing of Nord Stream 1 and 2 – exactly a year ago.

Seymour Hersh’s sources inside the U.S. Deep State revealed who did it. The whole Global Majority with an IQ over room temperature knows who did it – and who ordered it. And still the current Straussian neo-con psychos controlling U.S. foreign policy are able to get away with it.

The bombing of the Nord Streams was the Rape of Europe Remixed – now performed by an American bull.

As the indispensable Michael Hudson has detailed, domestic budgets of Germany and other EU/NATO nations are already in deficit territory – with the added “incentive” of the non-stop militarization of the EU.

That will “force cutbacks in domestic government programs – just as Germany and its NATO neighbors are moving into a post-industrial depression in which families and businesses need subsidies to cover their rising heating and energy costs, and unemployment insurance.”

Moreover, the euro will continue to plunge against the U.S. dollar, and may soon fall to 90 cents, or lower.

Prof. Hudson’s conclusion is stark: “So what seemed to be a U.S./NATO war against Russia in Ukraine has been a stunning U.S. military victory to lock European NATO members into the U.S. orbit and block their plan to turn East for trade and investment with Russia and China.”

Enjoy the “laboratory for military innovation”

Meanwhile, the Hegemon is making a killing – literally – with its proxy war in Ukraine.

The basics: over half of agro-Ukraine is now owned by Monsanto, Cargill and Dupont, bought for a pittance and profiting from the most corrupt environment in any country in the world.

Ukraine seeds were destroyed: Monsanto now runs the whole GMO racket. Ukraine cereals going to raped Europa equal full control of the EU’s agriculture and food market.

On the military front, the U.S. weapons matrix and its satellites continue to profit immensely from what is in effect money laundering of public funds.

Ukraine simultaneously became:

1. The graveyard for outdated weapons in need of recycling.

2. A privileged “laboratory for military innovation” (like Afghanistan and Iraq, previously) – as admitted by the Pentagon’s number two, Mara Carlin, at the Ronald Reagan University.

3. A show room for global exports (well, Abrams tanks about to be incinerated by the Russians don’t exactly qualify as a strong selling point).

On the energy front, it’s all about the Nord Streams, all over again.

The remixed Rape of Europa comes complete with ancillary financial bulls BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street totally controlling the spot market for anything the EU wants to buy, with prices occasionally 20 times higher than before.

This is just the short version of what “helping Ukraine” is really about.

And still the wunderwaffen keep coming: F16s are next in line.

Andrei Martyanov summed it all up, concisely: “The combined West failed at war”. As in NATO’s utter humiliation will be cosmic. And that comes with a – possible – punchline – for which obviously one cannot have direct confirmation in the corridors of power in Moscow: “Russians did plan for that, they just couldn’t anticipate that the West would self-annihilate itself that fast”.

It’s firmly established that in the Kremlin’s strategy the ultimate aim is to demilitarize and smash NATO. We’re getting there, slowly but surely. What is already established is that the Serial Rape of Europa by the American bull has totally broken it – physically, economically, culturally and psychologically.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 08:10

These Are The World's Largest Oil Producers

These Are The World's Largest Oil Producers

In 2022 oil prices peaked at more than $100 per barrel, hitting an eight-year high, after a full year of turmoil in the energy markets in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Oil companies doubled their profits and the economies of the biggest oil producers in the world got a major boost.

But which countries are responsible for most of the world’s oil supply? Using data from the Statistical Review of World Energy by the Energy Institute, Visual Capitalist's Pallavi Rao and Christina Kostandi visualized and ranked the world’s biggest oil producers.

Ranked: Oil Production By Country, in 2022

The U.S. has been the world’s biggest oil producer since 2018 and continued its dominance in 2022 by producing close to 18 million barrels per day (B/D). This accounted for nearly one-fifth of the world’s oil supply.

Almost three-fourths of the country’s oil production is centered around five states: Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Alaska, and Colorado.

We rank the other major oil producers in the world below.

Rank Country 2022 Production
(Thousand B/D)
YoY Change Share of
World Supply
1 🇺🇸 U.S. 17,770 +6.5% 18.9%
2 🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 12,136 +10.8% 12.9%
3 🇷🇺 Russia 11,202 +1.8% 11.9%
4 🇨🇦 Canada 5,576 +3.0% 5.9%
5 🇮🇶 Iraq 4,520 +10.2% 4.8%
6 🇨🇳 China 4,111 +2.9% 4.4%
7 🇦🇪 UAE 4,020 +10.4% 4.3%
8 🇮🇷 Iran 3,822 +4.6% 4.1%
9 🇧🇷 Brazil 3,107 +3.9% 3.3%
10 🇰🇼 Kuwait 3,028 +12.0% 3.2%
11 🇲🇽 Mexico 1,944 +0.9% 2.1%
12 🇳🇴 Norway 1,901 -6.3% 2.0%
13 🇰🇿 Kazakhstan 1,769 -2.0% 1.9%
14 🇶🇦 Qatar 1,768 +1.8% 1.9%
15 🇩🇿 Algeria 1,474 +8.9% 1.6%
16 🇳🇬 Nigeria 1,450 -11.2% 1.5%
17 🇦🇴 Angola 1,190 +1.1% 1.3%
18 🇱🇾 Libya 1,088 -14.3% 1.2%
19 🇴🇲 Oman 1,064 +9.6% 1.1%
20 🇬🇧 UK 778 -11.0% 0.8%
21 🇨🇴 Colombia 754 +2.4% 0.8%
22 🇮🇳 India 737 -3.8% 0.8%
23 🇻🇪 Venezuela 731 +8.1% 0.8%
24 🇦🇷 Argentina 706 +12.4% 0.8%
25 🇦🇿 Azerbaijan 685 -5.6% 0.7%
26 🇮🇩 Indonesia 644 -6.9% 0.7%
27 🇪🇬 Egypt 613 +0.8% 0.7%
28 🇲🇾 Malaysia 567 -1.7% 0.6%
29 🇪🇨 Ecuador 481 +1.7% 0.5%
30 🇦🇺 Australia 420 -5.2% 0.4%
31 🇹🇭 Thailand 331 -17.5% 0.4%
32 🇨🇩 Congo 269 -1.7% 0.3%
33 🇹🇲 Turkmenistan 244 +1.0% 0.3%
34 🇻🇳 Vietnam 194 -1.2% 0.2%
35 🇬🇦 Gabon 191 +5.4% 0.2%
36 🇸🇸 South Sudan 141 -7.6% 0.2%
37 🇵🇪 Peru 128 +0.5% 0.1%
38 🇹🇩 Chad 124 +6.2% 0.1%
39 🇬🇶 Equatorial
119 -9.2% 0.1%
40 🇸🇾 Syria 93 -2.7% 0.1%
41 🇮🇹 Italy 92 -7.9% 0.1%
42 🇧🇳 Brunei 92 -13.8% 0.1%
43 🇾🇪 Yemen 81 -2.4% 0.1%
44 🇹🇹 Trinidad
& Tobago
74 -3.6% 0.1%
45 🇷🇴 Romania 65 -6.2% 0.1%
46 🇩🇰 Denmark 65 -1.6% 0.1%
47 🇺🇿 Uzbekistan 63 -0.9% 0.1%
48 🇸🇩 Sudan 62 -3.3% 0.1%
49 🇹🇳 Tunisia 40 -12.9% 0.0%
50 Other CIS 43 +4.4% 0.0%
51 Other Middle East 210 +1.2% 0.2%
52 Other Africa 283 -3.4% 0.3%
53 Other Europe 230 -20.5% 0.2%
54 Other Asia Pacific 177 -10.6% 0.2%
55 Other S. &
Cent. America
381 +68.5% 0.4%
  Total World 93,848 +4.2% 100.0%

Behind America’s considerable lead in oil production, Saudi Arabia (ranked 2nd) produced 12 million B/D, accounting for about 13% of global supply.

Russia came in third with 11 million B/D in 2022. Together, these top three oil producing behemoths, along with Canada (4th) and Iraq (5th), make up more than half of the entire world’s oil supply.

Meanwhile, the top 10 oil producers, including those ranked 6th to 10th—China, UAE, Iran, Brazil, and Kuwait—are responsible for more than 70% of the world’s oil production.

Notably, all top 10 oil giants increased their production between 2021–2022, and as a result, global output rose 4.2% year-on-year.

Major Oil Producing Regions in 2022

The Middle East accounts for one-third of global oil production and North America makes up almost another one-third of production. The Commonwealth of Independent States—an organization of post-Soviet Union countries—is another major regional producer of oil, with a 15% share of world production.

Region 2022 Production
(Thousand B/D)
YoY Change Share of
World Supply
Middle East 30,743 +9.2% 32.8%
North America 25,290 +5.3% 27.0%
CIS 14,006 +0.9% 14.9%
Africa 7,043 -3.5% 7.5%
Asia Pacific 7,273 -1.4% 7.8%
South & Central
6,361 7.2% 6.8%
Europe 3,131 -8.6% 3.3%

What’s starkly apparent in the data however is Europe’s declining share of oil production, now at 3% of the world’s supply. In the last 20 years the EU’s oil output has dropped by more than 50% due to a variety of factors, including stricter environmental regulations and a shift to natural gas.

Another lens to look at regional production is through OPEC members, which control about 35% of the world’s oil output and about 70% of the world’s oil reserves.

When taking into account the group of 10 oil exporting countries OPEC has relationships with, known as OPEC+, the share of oil production increases to more than half of the world’s supply.

Oil’s Big Balancing Act

Since it’s the very lifeblood of the modern economy, the countries that control significant amounts of oil production also reap immense political and economic benefits. Entire regions have been catapulted into prosperity and wars have been fought over the control of the resource.

At the same time, the ongoing effort to pivot to renewable energy is pushing many major oil exporters to diversify their economies. A notable example is Saudi Arabia, whose sovereign wealth fund has invested in companies like Uber and WeWork.

However, the world still needs oil, as it supplies nearly one-third of global energy demand.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 07:35

Over 186,000 Migrants Crossed The Mediterranean So Far This Year, UN Says

Over 186,000 Migrants Crossed The Mediterranean So Far This Year, UN Says

Via Middle East Eye

From January to August this year, more than 2,500 people died or went missing trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, the UN's refugee agency said on Thursday.

Ruven Menikdiwela, director of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), also told the UN Security Council that 186,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year

A 2016 deadly capsizing of a migrant boat in the Mediterranean, via BBC

Tunisia and Libya were the main departure hotspots for those seeking to make the journey. More than 102,000 people departing from Tunisia have attempted to cross the sea towards Europe in 2023 to date, a 260 percent increase on last year.

At least 45,000 people have sought to make the dangerous crossing from Libya. Of the 186,000 people who crossed the Mediterranean, more than 80 percent landed in Italy. The rest landed in Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta

Menikdiwela told a council meeting called by Russia on migration to Europe that the high departure rates from Tunisia “result from the perception of insecurity among refugee communities, following incidents of racially motivated attacks and hate speech, as well as collective expulsions from Libya and Algeria."

Earlier this year Tunisian President Kais Saied linked people from sub-Saharan Africa in the country to criminality, in comments that were widely denounced as racist. 

“There has been a criminal plan since the beginning of the century to change the demographic structure of Tunisia and there are parties that received large sums of money after 2011 for the settlement of illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa,” Saied said. 

In Libya, where there are nearly 50,000 refugees and asylum seekers registered with the UNHCR, “the conditions of thousands of refugees and migrants in both official and unofficial detention facilities… remains of grave concern,” said Menikdiwela. 

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the European Union’s decision to release $135m in migrant control assistance to Tunisia “terrible for human rights”. Last week, the European Commission announced the payment, which came after a controversial deal it signed with the North African country in July.

Another two "ghost landings" have been recorded in Spain.

Ghost landing is the name for an arrival of boat migrants that isn't intercepted by the coast guard, meaning that the migrants are new registered as they enter the country.

Europe's maritime borders are undefended

— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) September 26, 2023

The decision by the EU was made “despite an absence of any specific human rights guarantees for migrants and asylum seekers”, said HRW. Moreover, the deal risked making the EU “complicit in abuses” carried out by Tunisian authorities.

Migrant abuse

The financial assistance is meant to prop up Tunisia's crisis-hit economy and help the country stop refugees from heading to Europe. More than 10,000 refugees have arrived at the Italian island of Lampedusa in recent weeks.

Italy's right-wing prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, has been pushing the EU to fulfil the agreement brokered by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in July.

Middle East Eye reported earlier this month that Sub-Saharan Africans in Tunisia are increasingly being denied emergency food and water supplies in the government's latest move to crack down on migration at the behest of Saied.

The plight of migrants, mainly from Sub-Saharan countries, is the "worst" in modern Tunisian history, Nicholas Noe, a senior visiting fellow at Refugees International, told MEE. In July, HRW reported that the Tunisian police, military, national guard and coastguard have been involved in grave violations against Black Africans.

Beatings, use of excessive force, some cases of torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, collective expulsions, dangerous actions at sea, forced evictions and theft of money and belongings are all examples of abuses documented by HRW.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 07:00

Springtime For Hitler

Springtime For Hitler

Authored by David Sacks via American Greatness,

Western cheerleaders for the war in Ukraine have sought to deny the complicated relationship between Ukrainian nationalism and neo-Nazi groups, calling any discussion of a Nazi past or present in Ukraine a “Putin talking point.” But the truth can only be suppressed for so long, and it recently burst forth in what should have been a sleepy session of the Canadian Parliament.

In the midst of introducing Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy for yet another address to the House of Commons, Speaker Anthony Rota recognized 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka as a Ukrainian war hero for fighting the Soviet Union during World War II, apparently unaware that Hunka had volunteered for the Waffen-SS Galicia division, a Nazi military unit notorious for horrific war crimes.

An entire roomful of MPs, along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a fist-pumping Zelensky, rose in a standing ovation for Hunka. Rota has effusively apologized for his mistake, but the embarrassing spectacle reveals some of the flaws in Western thinking about this war.

The Virtue-Signaling Imperative

First, the incident shows how the virtue-signaling imperative to support Project Ukraine supersedes all other values and considerations. The logic works backwards as follows: Ukraine is good, therefore Ukrainian nationalism is good. If someone is a Ukrainian nationalist, therefore, they must be good. Inconvenient facts such as Junka’s service in the Waffen-SS or even that the father of Ukrainian nationalism, Stepan Bandera, was a Nazi collaborator, are mere historical details to be swept aside or airbrushed out, as Western media sometimes do to the photos of Ukrainian soldiers displaying Nazi symbols on their uniforms.

Stripping away all of the present conflict’s historical context and complexity creates a simplistic binary: one must support either Ukrainian nationalism or the invader’s brute conquest. As this framing is reinforced over and over by the mainstream media and online partisans, any effort to seek a greater level of understanding becomes suspect. Do you have any deeper questions about the causes of the war or the potential paths to peace? You must be “pro-Russian.” For most liberals, and certainly Canadian politicians, it is safer to indulge in historically ignorant virtue signaling than to risk being called a Putin apologist – even if it results in the occasional moment of humiliation from cheering a Nazi.

Of course, the reality is more complicated than the simplistic binary. Most Ukrainian nationalists are not Nazis. But the presence of Nazi ideology in Ukraine is well documented, and the most ardent ultra-nationalist groups in Ukraine retain the race ideology of their patriarch Bandera. This is why Nazi insignia often appear on Ukrainian uniforms. This is why white nationalists flocked from all over Europe to fight on the Ukrainian side at the beginning of the war. This is why some streets in Ukraine are named after Ukrainian Nazis who participated in war crimes. This is why watchdog groups have been concerned about the rise of hate groups in Ukraine for some time.

The Role of the Ultra-Nationalists

Despite all this, we have closed our eyes, covered our ears, and labeled Ukraine’s “Nazi problem” a Putin talking point. This reveals a second and more disturbing flaw in the thinking of U.S. foreign policy: we have made common cause with the ultra-nationalists. Any sensible U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine (assuming we saw a need to become involved at all) would have endeavored to keep these people at bay. Instead, we cultivated them.

They participated in the U.S.-backed Maidan coup in 2014, and once a civil war broke out in reaction to the coup, far-right groups like Right Sector and the infamous Azov Battalion began killing separatists in the Donbas, running up a death toll of thousands. Instead of suppressing these efforts, the Kiev government incorporated these militias into the military command structure to continue their work.

The U.S. could have supported the Minsk Accords between 2015 and 2021 to peacefully resolve the conflict, but our policymakers were seduced by the idea that nationalist fervor in Ukraine would serve our interests. A Rand Corporation study showed how Ukraine could be used as a proxy to destabilize Russia. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard explained that Ukraine was a hinge state; if it could be brought into the orbit of the West, Russia would no longer be a great power. We therefore rationalized aligning with groups who would never compromise with Russia and turned a blind eye to their troubling politics.

A Tragic Refusal to Negotiate

As Zelensky has constantly reiterated, the Ukrainian position remains that every square inch of territory (including Crimea) must be returned to Ukraine or there will be no peace. But Moscow will never agree to this, particularly when it is winning a war of attrition. Now that the counteroffensive has failed to take back any meaningful amount of territory, there is no viable plan for evicting Russia from Ukrainian territory. The intransigence of Zelensky and his supporters in refusing to negotiate does not serve the long-term interests of Ukraine, which is presently being destroyed, but it is consistent with the agenda of the ultra-nationalists.

The tragedy is that in 2019 Zelensky was elected on a peace platform – he was supposed to make peace with Russia under the auspices of Minsk II. But far-right groups threatened him with violence if he did, and he backed down. By 2021 he had changed course and was supporting resolutions to take back Crimea and increasing the shelling of the Donbas. With an ardent Ukraine supporter (Biden) in the White House, and a new strategic agreement from the U.S. promising weapons, economic aid and future NATO membership, Zelensky was emboldened to pursue a hardline policy instead of the peace platform he was elected on. With both the U.S. and Ukraine’s far right aligned in favor of this position, it must have appeared suicidal to resist.

A Better U.S. Policy

A far better U.S. policy would have been to recognize the right of self-determination for all the people of Ukraine. But that would have meant acknowledging the loss of Crimea (which is mostly Russian) and granting regional autonomy to the Donbas as Ukraine agreed to do in Minsk II. Doing that, and taking NATO membership off the table, would have achieved peace and left Ukraine intact. But peace wasn’t the objective of State Department strategists, who wanted to weaken Russia and saw Ukraine as a pawn on their Grand Chessboard.

Giving a standing ovation to a former Nazi soldier is a moral stain, but sacrificing Ukraine in a geopolitical game while pretending to be its savior is a far greater one.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 23:45

A Timeline Of US Government Shutdowns

A Timeline Of US Government Shutdowns

The 2018/19 shutdown was the longest in recent U.S. history at 34 days. 

As Statista's Katharina Buchholz shows in the timeline below, government shutdowns have been getting longer in the last three decades, with the second-longest and the fourth-longest shutdown taking place in 1995 and 2013, respectively.

Infographic: The Timeline of U.S. Government Shutdowns | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Throughout the 1980s, shutdowns were numerous, but shorter, while in the 1970s, they also ran somewhat longer, but only surpassed two weeks once, in 1978. Government shutdowns aren't all that rare: Since 1976, there have been 20 shutdowns that lasted an average of 8 days.

Currently, the threat of yet another government shutdown is looming large in the United States.

Despite bipartisan efforts to buy time with a bill that would fund the government through November 17, a small group of hardliner House Republicans has been using its party's slim majority in the chamber to put pressure on its own leadership. This has so far undercut last-minute funding efforts through the so-called stopgap bill, all while debate to pass actual 2023/34 budget legislation in the House is also leading nowhere. Unless the status quo changes, the federal U.S. government will shut down on 12.01 a.m. Sunday morning.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 23:20

Warning: Reality Is Escaping Out The Back Door

Warning: Reality Is Escaping Out The Back Door

Authored by Patrick Wood via,

 The total collapse of reality may be at hand. We have already witnessed mass formation during the Great Panic of 2020, where large swaths of the world seemingly lost touch with reality. That was just a foretaste of what is about to come.

This is hard to understand, and you might need to read it multiple times. Do it, lest you fall prey to a simulacrum.

There’s a big word that you can add to your vocabulary: Simulacrum. 

It is a hard word to wrap your head around, but one you are not too likely to forget. Indeed, you should not forget it!

Collins defines it as: “1) an image; likeness; 2) a vague representation; semblance; 3) a mere pretense; sham.”

Cambridge Dictionary says: “something that looks like or represents something else”.

Purdue University put it this way: “Something that replaces reality with its representation.”

Jean Baudrillard wrote about this in a 1981 paper called “The Precession of Simulacra”, where he digs deeper, making a distinction between a simulation and a simulacrum.

Whereas representation attempts to absorb simulation by interpreting it as a false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of representation itself as a simulacrum. Such would be the successive phases of the image:

it is the reflection of a profound reality;

it masks and denatures a profound reality;

it masks the absence of a profound reality;

it has no relation to any reality whatsoever;

it is its own pure simulacrum.

So, the switch for reality is anti-reality: “The simulacrum is never what hides the truth – it is truth that hides the fact that there is none.”

This whole process does not happen in a vacuum because it involves human agency. Reality exists but human perception distorts it.

Just for review, reality slips into distortion, then into simulation, then finds its resting place in a state of simulacrum. Reality is subsumed by the simulacrum.

An example of simulacrum in the making

It is estimated that 90 percent of all online content will be generated by AI by 2025. This means news, social media posts, chats, pictures, videos, podcasts, websites, etc. A deluge of fake social media accounts will be run by AI. In short, everything.

Nina Schick, A.I. thought leader, wrote,

“What generative AI can do, essentially, is create new things that would have thus far been seen as unique to human intelligence or creativity, Generative AI can create across all media, so text, video, audio, pictures – every digital medium can be powered by generative AI. So, I think these valuations that you’re seeing for OpenAI are actually going to go up and you’re going to start to see even more generative AI companies which have universal applications across many industries in 2023.”

People will remember back to 2023 images and think that nothing has changed in 2025.

Warning : The Total Collapse Of Reality Could Be At Hand

As described above, a simulacrum is anti-reality.

This is not a paradigm shift of reality. This is not a “new realty”. This is not reality, period. Unfortunately, billions of people risk being captured by it.

While everyone is looking at shiny new simulacra forming right before their eyes, reality is escaping out the back door.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 22:55

Russian Mystery Plane That Landed In Pyongyang Making Washington Nervous

Russian Mystery Plane That Landed In Pyongyang Making Washington Nervous

A Russian 'mystery plane' spotted in North Korea is making Washington nervous, after Kim Jong Un visited Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin this moth. The two leaders, deemed 'rogue' actors by the West, are believed to have discussed and possibly inked a weapons deal at a moment Moscow needs more ammunition for military operations in Ukraine.

Citing aviation tracking site FlightRadar24, Bloomberg described it as an an unscheduled Russian military VIP plane that landed in Pyongyang earlier this week.

Image source: KCTV

The aircraft was in the North Korean capital for two days, however, both countries have kept mum as to its purpose. It could have been transporting another high-level Russian defense delegation.

"The tail number on the plane indicates it was the same aircraft Russia sent to North Korea in August, just days after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled to Pyongyang and was guided by Kim through a collection of his country’s latest weaponry," Bloomberg noted.

The West fears that that this was part of furthering agreements for technology and weapons transfers between the two countries, which are both heavily sanctioned by the US, also amid efforts to isolate them on the world stage.

Russian planes landing in the broader region might not normally be significant, but is very noticeable in the case of flights to North Korea in particular, given that

North Korea has had almost no international air traffic since it closed its borders at the start of the pandemic in early 2020. The arrival of two flights in the space of less than two months highlights cooperation between the two countries, which have drawn closer as the US and its partners tried to isolate them with international sanctions.

Kim's trip in Russia, which wrapped up only very recently, lasted two weeks. It included tours of Russian military technology plants, including an aircraft factory in the Russian city of Komsomolsk-na-Amure.

Washington has over the course of the Ukraine conflict at various points accused North Korea of supplying the Russian military with additional artillery ammo. US intelligence has in the recent past alleged that train shipments between the two countries included covert ammo supplies, but something which has not been proven.

The two countries actually share a small border. More recently, there have been accusations that Wagner Group, which is now on the outs with Moscow in the wake of the mutiny in June and after Yevgeny Prigozhin's death, purchased large quantities of arms and equipment from the Kim Jong-Un government.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 22:30

Macleod: The End Of The Road For The Dollar

Macleod: The End Of The Road For The Dollar

Authored by Alasdair Macleod,

With the Asian hegemons undoubtedly able to introduce gold standards, where does that leave the dollar?

This article describes just how precarious the fiat dollar’s position has become.

For now, the dollar appears to be buoyed up by rising bond yields. However, as they rise further portfolio losses for foreign investors are likely to increase, leading to dollar liquidation. It is not generally realised how many dollars and dollar securities are owned by foreigners, the bulk of them being held outside the US banking system. And the quantity of foreign currency owned by Americans to absorb this selling is very small in comparison.

Higher interest rates and bond yields also threaten to destabilise the banking system, a problem equally faced by the Eurozone, the UK, and Japan. But how can the US Government protect itself from this danger?

The only answer is to admit to the end of the fiat era and put the dollar back onto a gold standard. However, the US Government does not have the mandate to take the required actions and officially at least is still in denial over the need to stabilise the currency. The legal position referring to the constitution is briefly touched upon, because laws will have to be considered to secure the dollar’s future.

Unfortunately, the US Treasury’s gold holdings are almost certainly compromised. Furthermore, since the Asian hegemons have accumulated substantial holdings of bullion in addition to their official reserves, there is bound to be a strong reluctance to hand economic power to Russia and China by endorsing a return to gold standards.

My conclusion is that the era of the fiat dollar based global currency system is rapidly ending, and for America and the dollar there can be no Plan B. It will almost certainly lead to  the end of the fiat dollar, and the end of the US hegemony.


It is dawning on increasing numbers of analysts that the era of the fiat dollar might be drawing to a close. Very few investment professionals know what to expect. Being thoroughly Keynesian in outlook, most still believe that by the Fed managing interest rates consumer price inflation can be contained and that recessions can also be avoided by expanding fiscal deficits. But the contradictions arising from a deteriorating economic outlook and CPI inflation continually rising completely scuppers these macroeconomic theories. Blaming it on Russia and OPEC+ is tempting, but not a good enough argument.

It is becoming clear that fiat currencies have become increasingly unstable. The only solution for the dollar is to fix the value of credit: but to what? It has been gold or silver throughout the history of national economies. But a denial of returning to exchanging the dollar for a fixed quantity of gold is so systemically embedded in the administration that it is difficult to see this solution even as a last resort.

In this article I look at the background to what is sure to become a dollar crisis. The urgency of this matter has been brought forward by America’s declining global influence compared with that of the Asian hegemons, and the US Government’s profligacy. Almost certainly, exposure to the dollar will be unwound by foreign actors, and that exposure, which must include dollar credit originated outside the US banking system is colossal. The table below illustrates the approximate position.

To summarise the evidence, foreigners own or are exposed to a massive $137 trillion dollars. As a cohort, if they decide to begin reducing their exposure US residents have less than a trillion equivalent in foreign currencies to sell in exchange. In the jargon of the markets, the dollar will become “offered only”.

This is the true danger from rising interest rates. As they rise, the declining value of foreign-owned long-term securities totalling $37 trillion will simply accelerate generating widespread investment and dollar liquidation. This will not be offset by US holders of foreign investments liquidating their positions for a simple reason.

US holders of foreign securities hold almost all of them in ADR form, being listed and priced in dollars. In a rising interest rate environment, they will also be declining in value and so we can expect US investors to sell them as well. The sale of an ADR does not lead to a sale of an underlying foreign currency, whereas a sale of a dollar security by a foreign holder will almost certainly do so – unless the foreign investor cohort overall is content to add to its holdings of short-term dollar securities.

Foreign liquidation of dollar investments is a largely unseen danger to the dollar by US-centric commentators who are stuck with the belief that foreigners need to accumulate them. A further rise in interest rates or bond yields, which appears to be underway, far from protecting the dollar will almost certainly lead to portfolio liquidation, dollar liquidation, and therefore its collapse, there being almost no foreign currency in US residents’ hands to absorb it.

And finally, in the run up to a presidential election year it is becoming clear that the US’s proxy war against Russia is turning into a political and military disaster. Ukraine is running out of men, and Russia is reaping the benefit of western-imposed sanctions. Disagreements between NATO members are beginning to surface.

What will that do to the dollar’s credibility? It all feels like a fin de siècle, the end of the fiat era and the beginning of a new currency regime.

The background to a new dollar crisis

It is never wise to pursue political and economic policies to the end of the road. But that is what the US Government appears to be doing.

In 1971, having embarked on a policy of replacing gold with the dollar as everyone’s currency and valuation standard, there is every reason to fear that for the US Government to return its fiat dollar to sound money is politically impossible. The reasons this might now matter are twofold: the dollar is losing its grip as the world’s reserve currency, and interest rates are rising into a recession which could turn into a slump, destabilising the mountain of debt which is the other side of too much unproductive credit intermediated by over-leveraged banks.

In previous articles, I have shown the importance of anchoring the value of credit to gold to ensure its stability, particularly at a time when credit’s instability becomes beyond the state’s control. Such a time has clearly arrived. I have described the practicalities of how to do it, which is to simply ensure that a currency is freely convertible into gold coin and bullion. A modern version of this has been proved to work time and again in the form of currency boards recommended and implemented for a number of governments by Professor Steve Hanke, tying collapsing currencies to a relatively stable dollar. But the dollar itself is now becoming highly unstable.

For the US Government, the urgency of considering a gold standard for the dollar is now upon it, because the Asian hegemons — Russia and China — are in a position to put their roubles and yuan on rock-solid gold standards. The ease with which Russia can do this was demonstrated in my recent article, here. Furthermore, it is increasingly in Russia’s interest to take this step. But if Russia does so, it is bound to fatally undermine the fiat dollar’s position. And it is not widely realised that China is again encouraging its citizens to buy gold. This is from the Jerusalem Post on 7 June:

“Last week an event occurred which was completely missed by the mainstream media. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) took the next important step to encourage a wider and less wealthy section of Chinese citizens to purchase gold and silver bullion. The PBOC opened the facility for citizens to convert renminbi cash savings held in the public’s own bank accounts to be converted into physical gold at the click of a button.”

Does that indicate that China feels the time has come to protect even her poorer citizens and the yuan from global currency instability?

Perhaps the hegemons are positioning themselves. While putting the rouble onto a gold standard would be seen as an act of extreme monetary aggression against the fiat dollar, Russia urgently needs to stabilise her currency. In a dollar-centric world suffused with anti-Russian propaganda, any weakness in the dollar is simply multiplied in the rouble exchange rate. This the flaw in Putin’s agreement with Saudi Arabia to drive up energy prices. As I put it in the article referenced above, if they shiver in Germany, they will freeze in Russia: that is without massive energy subsidies for the Russian people.

Feedback from readers exposes an erroneous belief that it is the trade balance which matters. They correctly say that higher energy prices improve Russia’s balance of trade. So why should the rouble’s exchange rate not benefit? The answer is that the purchasing power of a fiat currency depends totally in the belief in its validity as a medium of exchange. And while it is true that Russia’s exports benefit from higher oil and gas prices, in a global inflation crisis such as we now face, the rouble’s credibility is unlikely to improve, particularly when it is off-limits for western speculators and the Russians are demonised in capital markets.

Therefore, we should assume that Russia will be forced to take meaningful steps to stabilise the rouble, which can only be done by returning the rouble to a gold standard. Furthermore, Russia’s economy has the low tax environment that would benefit hugely from interest rates that reflect gold as money as opposed to fiat roubles. From an interest rate on one-year rouble credit currently at 16% we can expect this to decline towards 3% over not very much time with enormous economic benefits. There is evidence that senior Russians, including Putin, understand this point.

If only the US could achieve similar benefits from sound money! Unfortunately, it requires a totally different political, strategic, and economic mindset to those currently operating in Washington and Langley. Instead, the Keynesian playbook is for the state to increase its fiscal and monetary support for the economy to prevent it running into a recession. And policy makers are more informed in their policies by the recent price stability at lower interest rates than the instability of the 1970s when the fiat dollar was bedding in. They believe that the consumer price inflation problem is exogenous and not the consequence of earlier monetary policies. And they aver that a period of current interest rates, or at least levels not much higher, will be sufficient to return CPI inflation towards the 2% mandated target.

America is trapped in a political and economic version of Stockholm syndrome. But there are some influential analysts who are beginning to see this as wishful thinking, and that energy prices in particular are not only going higher but will continue to do so. This creeping suspicion is likely to permeate official thinking over time and in the light of developments.

As part of this enlightenment, JPMorgan’s Global Equity Research unit is now forecasting $150 prices for Brent. The consequences for heating oil and diesel prices are particularly pernicious. These values are already rising, as the snapshot of energy and commodity price moves over the last three months indicates.

Other prices rising ahead of the US winter include some basic foodstuffs, indicating that any move towards CPI normality is a long way off. And then there is the widespread ignorance that surrounds the consequences of the bank credit cycle which is entering its contractionary phase. The effects are to wrest control over interest rates from central bankers, as desperate borrowers with deteriorating cash flows scramble for scarce credit: they will simply have to pay up to remain in business.

The consequences of the credit cycle

It is too simplistic an argument to blame depressions, slumps, and recessions on the failings of the private sector. The cause is always a contraction of credit. But that is created by a previous overexpansion of bank credit and by its nature is a correction of a previous condition. The greater and the longer the expansion is prolonged, the more destructive the contraction that follows.

Ignoring this reality, Keynes and others invested in a role for governments to intervene in economic affairs. It required the eventual abandonment of sound money. The original idea was for governments to take up the recessionary slack, stimulating the economy by deliberately running a budget deficit, and recovering public finances subsequently through increased tax revenues when the economy recovers. By these means, it was believed that recessions would be minimised, and government finances would be balanced over the economic cycle.

It was an argument which was applied with apparent success in the post-war years until the end of the Bretton Woods Agreement, when the inflation of the dollar’s M3 had doubled from $27bn in July 1950 to $59bn in August 1971, without the inflationary consequences that followed the suspension of Bretton Woods.

When the Bretton Woods Agreement began to fall apart following the failure of the London gold pool in the late sixties, for America’s high priests of macroeconomics the strictures of a gold standard straitjacket were the problem, not the failures of their economic and monetary theories. Bretton Woods was abandoned, and ever since government-inspired economic theory has doubled down on failure. The FRED chart of the US’s budget position illustrates the consequences of every time things go wrong, blame free markets and just double down on a policy of government stimulation by fiscal deficits.

To put these deficits into context, in fiscal 2021, Federal Government outlays were $6.822 trillion, and revenues were $4.047 trillion. In other words, the deficit on expenditure was 31.4% of revenue. After a brief recovery in fiscal 2022, the current fiscal year which is ending shortly will see a further deterioration in the deficit to $2 trillion. But with the prospect of a now widely expected recession and interest rates higher for longer, fiscal 2024’s deficit will likely be significantly worse.

Clearly, with recession expected and despite record government deficits, the Keynesian stimulation theory has run its course and has failed completely. But that is not all. Lower interest rates are meant to rouse an economy, and in that they have also failed. Macroeconomic theories become so far removed from economic reality that the whole establishment of the economic profession needs to reset its approach to free markets.

The cyclical problem of bank credit

One of the extraordinary failures of modern thinking concerns an almost total blindness to the cyclicality of bank lending. And what is nominal GDP, which is used to measure economic performance? It is no more nor no less than the deployment of credit for qualifying transactions making up GDP. Yet no one appears to understand the consequences of this important fact. GDP rises and falls, not driven by consumers but by changes in the availability of bank credit. Consumer behaviour is not the source of recessions in consumer activity; it is the availability of the credit that drives it.

Those who do not understand the cycle of bank credit and its implications are the large majority of economic actors, both in the financial and non-financial sectors. And the most stubborn cohort of deniers is to be found in governments and their bureaucrats. From the major central banks to banking regulators, a group-thinking blindness to the causes of regular booms and busts is the source of an evolving cyclical credit crisis. Unfortunately, if a government and its agents continue with wrong policies for long enough, instead of being derided public belief in them grows. It is a particular problem in capital markets which have now bought into central bank group thinking policies without reservation.

Bank executives are not immune to this trend. Consequently, instead of sticking to their business objectives properly, they are beholden to central banks and government regulators. Their true business is to be dealers in credit, not to bear responsibility for those who claim to be stakeholders and regulators, but to achieve returns for their shareholders.

Few bankers seem to realise that they are trapped in a cycle of bank credit of their own creation. That is why the cycle has existed for as long as credit statistics have been available. But combine a lack of understanding of the cause of the cycle with the absence of shareholder responsibility, and we can expect the management of large banks to think that with regulatory support they can trade their way out of economic downturns by simply adhering to the regulations. The few banks that have failed this time have been dealt with by the regulators, restoring faith in the regulatory regime for the others.

But when bankers have the wake-up call, that their balance sheets are over-leveraged and producer input prices are rising, unless they urgently reduce their lending exposure they will risk bankruptcy from bad debts and falling collateral values. That is why bank lending is contracting, and why in real terms GDP will decline. And the contraction of GDP feeds into yet more credit contraction, driving up borrowing costs. The pressure on banks to liquidate both on-balance sheet investments and collateral against loans is bound to intensify.

The pressure on the dollar from foreign holders selling down their exposure will naturally follow. As seen in the table in the introduction to this article, the pressure on the dollar from these combined events threaten its continuing existence. Other than accepting the reintroduction of a credible gold standard, what fiscal measures will be required to make a gold standard sustainable?

Cutting out excess spending

The current fiscal year, which ends on 30 September will see a deficit on US Government spending of $2 trillion. $Nearly one trillion of that is debt interest:

The way that debt interest has soared indicates that the US Government is already in a debt trap. Furthermore, in its last estimates of debt interest costs (May 2023), the Congressional Budget Office assumed that the average interest rate on debt held by the public in this fiscal year would be only 2.7%, and in 2024 2.9%. With 3-month T-bills already yielding 4.8% and 10-year Treasury notes over 4.5%, these forecasts are already out of date. And with a recession now more certain than at the time of the CBO’s forecast, on current spending plans plus the fall in tax revenues the budget deficit for 2024 is headed for over $2.5 trillion, even assuming no further rises to borrowing costs. But they are likely to rise to over $1.5 trillion, taking the likely deficit into covid lockdown territory.

In the fiscal year just ending, the average rate of interest paid works out at 2.9%, which compares with a current rate in excess of 4.5%. The consequences of deteriorating tax revenues, increasing welfare costs, rising price inflation, yet higher bond yields, a credit squeeze, and the refinancing of $7.6 trillion of existing debt make the current position unsustainable.

The best solution is to radically cut spending. But given the scale of the problem as part of the solution taxes might have to be increased as well, though the emphasis must be on spending cuts. If there was time to implement these cuts, they could be spread over a few years, but time is of the essence.

Otherwise, the US Government will merely fall deeper and deeper into its debt trap.

This will be the minimum required for the US Government to put its finances in order and to implement and maintain a gold standard for the dollar. Contrary to Keynesian theory, the economic benefits of balancing the budget would be substantial. This was proved in the UK when 364 Keynesian economists signed a letter to London’s The Times criticising the 1981 budget. In that case, at a time of rising unemployment, high inflation and recession, Chancellor Geoffrey Howe raised taxes to close the budget gap. This represented 2% of GDP, which compares with a prospective US deficit of over 9% of GDP. The Keynesian economists opined that tightening monetary policy at a time of recession was wrong. But no sooner was the letter published, than the economy began to improve.

Admittedly, the British deficit as a proportion of the total economy was far less than that faced by the US Government today. But the disproving of Keynesian theories of deficit stimulation, and the benefit to the economy of a balanced budget cannot be denied. Furthermore, if in balancing the budget expenditure is cut allowing taxpayers to keep more of their earnings, the economic benefits are even more obvious. Hence, the recommendation that as much as possible the reduction in government spending is the best way to balance the budget and achieve a better economic outlook.

Not only will balanced budgets have to be run thereafter but spending must be firmly capped in nominal terms. A free market, non-interventionist philosophy must replace state intervention and management of the economy. Central bank credit must be contained, and commercial bank credit allowed to respond to demand for productive credit.

Business must be permitted to dance to the tune of consumers, and not the regulators. Bad businesses hide behind regulation, which through licencing disadvantages competition. Regulators are not motivated by what the consumer wants and is often ignorant of his trade. They produce unnecessary bureaucracy. Where they exist to deter fraudulent and unfair practices, they rarely succeed. Not only should consumers be free to choose the products that they want, but they must be responsible for their actions. The idea that the state can replace the principle of caveat emptor is ridiculous.

The same goes for trade. Traditionally, trade tariffs have been a source of government revenue, but they have evolved into politically driven means of penalising nations which are successful exporters in favour of protecting uncompetitive domestic production. This disadvantages the domestic consumer and manufacturers sourcing raw materials and machinery from abroad.

The setting of interest rates must be to regulate the balance of gold reserves, and not, repeat not to regulate the economy. The source of investment capital in the form of savings should be permitted to return, encouraged by removing all taxation from savings and trading profits. Consumer debt, other than mortgage finance, will wither under these conditions. A savings driven economy, such as Japan’s and China’s, is less prone to consumer price inflation and interest rate volatility. And if savings are not taxed, they become encouraged.

And lastly, government statistics should be banned, because they only serve to encourage state intervention. If there is demand for any particular run of statistics, then private sector actors can provide them.

The US faces problems with a gold standard

As a matter of fact, gold as money is written into the US constitution as well as in the definition of the dollar. It will surprise readers to know that what commonly circulates as dollars are not dollars at all, being Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs). Under constitutional law, United States money is expressed in dollars, while FRNs are redeemable in dollars which is the lawful money. Therefore, the FRN dollar bills in circulation are not lawful money.

It might seem a pedantic point perhaps, but it should be respected and addressed in any future legislation. And the dollar itself was defined in gold. Article 1 Sec. 10, Clause 1 of the Constitution states:

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts…

There is much to unpack in this clause, but it is money that concerns us. In 1785, Congress unanimously resolved that the money unit of the United States was to be the dollar and that the dollar would contain 375.64 grains of fine silver. The same resolution determined that there shall be two gold coins, one equal to 10 dollars and one equal to 5 dollars. And subsequently under the Coinage Act of 1792, the coinage of gold Eagles was mandated, “each to the value of $10 containing 247.5 grains of pure gold”.

Dollars and dollar-substitutes such as the FRN were the medium for payment because they specifically represented gold and silver coin in the prescribed weights. In 1834, gold became the de facto standard, confirmed in the Coinage Act of 1900 at 23.22 grains of fine gold, the equivalent of $20.67 to the ounce, a standard that operated for nearly a century until 1933.

It would appear to be a simple matter to return to convertibility in accordance with the law, but instead of the earlier fixed weight, a new relationship would have to be determined for the constitutional dollar and the FRNs if they be permitted to continue to exist: the future of the Federal Reserve system must be called into question, having presided over a failed fiat currency of its own issuance. Either way, the Treasury’s promise to pay the equivalent in its gold reserves to the Fed at $42.22 to the ounce, must be addressed.

Some commentators posit that to define the dollar by weight of gold and to make it fully exchangeable requires a substantial devaluation of the dollar, perhaps to $5,000 or $10,000 per ounce of gold. And that in order to do so, it would be declared over a weekend. Presumably, it is thought that this new rate would ensure that gold would be redeemed for dollars, allowing a new gold exchange rate to operate without undermining the Treasury’s bullion reserves. This appears to be a muddled Keynesian way of thinking, in the belief that devaluation is necessary to ensure a favourable exchange rate with other currencies, whether exchangeable for gold or not, and to ensure there is sufficient economic stimulus to support the mountains of debt in the private sector. But it would also be a default on the US Government’s debt by devaluing it in terms of legal money, which is still gold despite current denials by the US authorities.

Such a substantial devaluation is clearly intended to allow headroom for the US Government to continue with its current fiscal and monetary policies. But without the fundamental reforms outlined in the previous section, it would probably be only a very short time before a devaluing dollar forces yet another reset. In short, it would fool no one for long.

Then there is the problem of verifying US official reserves, which at 8,134 tonnes have been almost unchanged since 1980. Rumours about their condition and the extent to which they actually exist makes them uncredible. To what extent have they been swapped and leased over the decades, if indeed they exist in bars of LBMA deliverable standards?

The experience of Germany seeking repatriation of some of its gold reserves stored as earmarked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York rings alarm bells over the entire situation. And as long ago as 2002, Frank Veneroso, who was a highly respected analyst at the time concluded that between 10,000—14,000 tonnes of central bank gold reserves had been either swapped or leased and sold into the market. The latter figure was half the declared official reserves of the entire world.

Since then, the leasing game and price suppression of gold has certainly continued. But there is a difference today, with increasing numbers of central banks accumulating bullion reserves, currently recorded at 35,731 tonnes. Much of this increase has to do with China, Russia, and their rapidly expanding spheres of influence, who do not lease or swap their gold reserves. Germany’s experience of the US idea of property ownership of gold, and the Bank of England refusing to deliver Venezuela’s gold when demanded plus the leasing shell game amounts to strong circumstantial evidence that the US Treasury and the New York Fed vaults do not have the gold they say they have.

This in itself suggests that there really is almost nothing backing the fiat dollar when the fall-back position becomes a return to gold as the money-anchor for credit. Furthermore, there is the geopolitics of gold to consider. Not only has Russia been accumulating bullion reserves, but informed sources believe that there is further bullion in state funds, bringing Russia’s holdings to about 12,000 tonnes. And China has had a policy of accumulating gold “off balance sheet” since 1983, accelerating mine output, importing large quantities of bullion, and not permitting any bullion to leave the country. Overnight, China could probably increase her official reserves to a level in excess of 30,000 tonnes.

We can be sure that the US’s intelligence services have an idea of this situation, and the geopolitical disadvantages to the US and its dollar of a return to gold as the monetary standard. In London, where the bullion banks offer unallocated gold accounts, a substantial rise in the gold price such as that recommended by some US analysts would lead to bankruptcies among the LBMA member banks with extremely serious consequences. And on Comex, it would be likely to lead to implementation of force majeure clauses.

The consequences for commodity prices from a de facto devaluation of the dollar would also be to drive them significantly higher. On all practical grounds, a substantial gold revaluation/devaluation of the dollar can be ruled out.


The hurdles in the way of the fiat dollar’s survival are steadily mounting, and the US Government does not know how to secure its future. The state theory of money is turning into a total failure. Interest rates, which more correctly are the time preference required to ensure foreign holders of dollars continue to hold them are rising. This tells us that markets expect the purchasing power of dollar credit to continue to decline, so if the monetary authorities attempt to stop them rising, the currency will fall, and foreigners will sell. Equally, as bond yields rise the value of all financial assets will decline, portfolios will be sold, and presumably the currency raised will be as well.

Either way, the days of the fiat dollar are numbered. The politicians have no mandate to protect it by balancing the budget, returning to a gold standard, and taking the economic measures necessary to make it stick. Furthermore, America’s existing bullion holdings appear to be badly compromised – the cupboard is bare.

Not only is it the end of the fiat federal dollar note, but it is the end of empire, which the administration is reluctant to accept. We must hope that some strategic sense prevails, and the Doctor Strangeloves at Langley do not have their way.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 22:05

"No Path Forward": McCarthy Says Senate Stopgap Bill DOA As Shutdown Approaches

"No Path Forward": McCarthy Says Senate Stopgap Bill DOA As Shutdown Approaches

Update (2157ET): It looks like the Senate isn't willing to strip Ukraine funds from the continuing resolution. In a Friday night tweet, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that the "misguided Senate bill has no path forward and is dead on arrival."

After meeting with House Republicans this evening, it’s clear the misguided Senate bill has no path forward and is dead on arrival.

The House will continue to work around the clock to keep government open and prioritize the needs of the American people.

— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) September 30, 2023

Meanwhile, according to Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman and Josh Bresnahan, McCarthy is floating a CR that would last until Nov. 17 at FY2023 funding levels, which would not include border funds or Ukraine funding.

*  *  *

In an 11th hour Hail Mary in the hopes of averting a government shutdown, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced that the only way the House will pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through October is to drop Ukraine funding.

"I think if we had a clean one without Ukraine on it, we could probably be able to move that through," McCarthy told CNN's Manu Raju.

The comment comes hours after McCarthy lost a game of chicken with the House Freedom Caucus, failing to pass a CR which left McCarthy will few options to try and avert a shutdown in less than 36 hours. McCarthy was hoping that the House bill's border security provisions would win over enough holdouts to pass.

Meanwhile, the White House slammed the failed bill over the 'elimination of 12,000 FBI agents,' and 'almost 1,000 ATF agents.'

White House budget director:

Republicans’ bill “would eliminate 12,000 FBI agents, almost 1,000 ATF agents!”

— (@townhallcom) September 29, 2023

Of note, House Republicans on Thursday narrowly passed the annual defense spending bill, but only after they removed $300 million in Ukraine aid from the legislation (which then cleared in a separate vote because a bunch of Democrats then voted).

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who failed twice last week to advance the bill to the floor, finally locked down enough Republican votes to pass the bill after the House stripped $300 million to arm Ukraine from the text.

The separate bill carved out to allocate those funds for Kyiv passed Thursday in a 311-117 blowout bipartisan vote. Republicans had won a close procedural vote earlier in the day to separate the Ukraine money from the Pentagon bill, a move meant to flip a handful of GOP holdouts. -Politico

Democrats framed the optics as Kremlin-friendly, with House Armed Services ranking Democrat Adam Smith saying "The Russians are good at propaganda... It will be played as America backing off of its commitment for Ukraine."

Republicans responded that by carving Ukraine out of the defense bill, it allows opponents of either measure (Ukraine aid or the defense bill) to voice their opinions on each independently.

"Why don’t we make sure this gets through? I mean, I’m just mystified that this is somehow a problem," said House Rules Chair Tom Cole (R-OK), according to Politico. "We guarantee you something you want is going to pass the House and you’re upset about it."

And now, McCarthy says there's no way to avert a government shutdown unless the House, and the Senate, agree to nix Ukraine aid from the 30-day stopgap.

Fire and Brimstone...

On Friday, White House top economic adviser Lael Brainard said that a shutdown would pose an "unnecessary risk" to what he described as a resilient economy with moderating inflation.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen then chimed in, warning that all of Bidenomics could be negatively impacted.

"The failure of House Republicans to act responsibly would hurt American families and cause economic headwinds that could undermine the progress we’re making," Yellen said from Port of Savannah, Georgia, adding "A shutdown would impact many key government functions from loans to farmers and small businesses, to food and workplace safety inspections, to Head Start programs for children.

"And it could delay major infrastructure improvements."

Goldman has predicted that a shutdown will last 2-3 weeks, and that a 'quick reopening looks unlikely as political positions become more deeply entrenched.' Instead, as political pressure to reopen the government builds, pay dates for active-duty military (Oct. 13 and Nov. 1) will become key dates to pay attention to.

In addition, they think a shutdown could subtract 0.2pp from Q4 GDP growth for each week it lasts (adding the same to 1Q2024, assuming it's over by then).

What's more, all data releases from federal agencies would be postponed until after the government reopens.

More via Goldman:

What are the odds the government shuts down?

A shutdown this year has looked likely for several months, and we now think the odds have risen to 90%. The most likely scenario in our view is that funding will lapse after Sep. 30, leading to a shutdown starting Oct. 1. That said, a short-term extension cannot be entirely ruled out. In the event that Congress avoids a shutdown starting Oct. 1, we would still expect a shutdown at some point later in Q4.

While there is likely sufficient support in both chambers of Congress to pass a short-term extension of funding—this is known as a “continuing resolution” (CR)—that is “clean” with no other provisions attached, the majority of that support would come from Democrats. The Senate is considering a CR that includes aid for disaster relief and Ukraine. House Republican leaders are under political pressure to pass a CR that includes Republican policy priorities that can pass with mainly or exclusively Republican support. At the moment, neither chamber looks likely to pass the other chamber's CR.

The outlook seemed bleak ahead of the debt limit deadline earlier this year, but Congress resolved it in time; why shouldn’t we expect a last-minute deal once again?

The smaller economic hit from a shutdown puts less pressure on Republican leaders to override the objections of some in their party to reach a deal. Ahead of the debt limit deadline earlier this year, Republican leaders reached a deal over the objections of some in their party because the potential hit to the economy from an impasse would have been unpredictable and severe, and even lawmakers most strongly opposed to a compromise agreed that the debt limit must be raised. By contrast, the economic hit from a shutdown would be smaller and more predictable, as there have already been two protracted shutdowns over the last decade. While most lawmakers on both sides of the aisle would prefer to avoid a shutdown, both sides appear more willing to take the chance it occurs.

*  *  *

Stay tuned...

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 22:00

These Are The Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs In 2023

These Are The Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs In 2023

In the fast-paced realm of job hunting, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. And if you are an entry-level job applicant, the pressure is a notch higher.

New entrants in any job market today compete with groundbreaking technology like ChatGPT in addition to their peers. In the United States, these applicants have to also wade through an uncertain labor market, inflation, and long lists of job requirements.

Visual Capitalist's Freny Fernandes and Bhabna Banerjee, using data from, have identified the most sought-after entry level positions for applicants both with and without a degree in the U.S., and the year-on-year growth of these job postings.

Most Sought-After Entry-Level Jobs With a Degree

As the U.S. job market recovers from its pandemic slump, some careers are now booming. This in turn has opened up numerous opportunities for entry-level job applicants.

The demand for sales jobs multiplied this year as customer-facing businesses slowly returned to their pre-pandemic levels.

At the top of this list is the job for an Outside Sales Representative. Paying upwards of $60,000, postings for this job have grown by over 250% in a year, making it the most sought-after position for applicants with a degree.

The healthcare industry has secured its place in the top ranks too. Careers including mental health case managers, speech pathologists, behavioral therapists, and patient access managers dominate the Top 20 list.

Let’s not forget about the tech sector. While entry-level network technicians can earn upwards of $85,000 on average, while IT engineers are paid an entry package of over $90,000.

Most Sought-After Entry-Level Jobs Without a Degree

Nearly 65% of the U.S. working population does not have a four-year degree. However, millions of these workers continue to be highly skilled across professions and have a shot at some of the most sought-after entry level jobs in the country.

One example of this job is that of an Inventory Manager. The demand for skilled inventory managers in warehouses and companies post-pandemic has doubled the position’s job share in a year.

One of the highest paying non-degree jobs in this list—Auto Body Technician—can fetch highly-skilled entry-level workers a salary of $82,000 per year.

These jobs don’t seem to require a degree according to Indeed. However, the rising competition for these positions might give the upper edge to applicants with one, especially for jobs on the list such as Business Analyst and Relationship Banker.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 21:40

It's Time For NASA To Step Aside And Let Private Industry Take Us To Mars

It's Time For NASA To Step Aside And Let Private Industry Take Us To Mars

Authored by David Williams via RealClear Wire (emphasis ours)

Once again, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is bilking taxpayers to infinity and beyond. NASA has been busy preparing for the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission, which is designed to collect samples of Martian soil to determine whether there is life on the Red Planet. According to a recent report, costs are through the stratosphere. The independent review board tasked with evaluating the program concluded in the review that the mission has been marred by “unrealistic budget and schedule expectations from the beginning.” The reviewers found that there is “a near zero probability” that the mission will launch by NASA’s stated 2028 goal. It’s time for NASA to ditch its costly payload and commit to keeping costs down to earth.

For years, NASA has been planning and studying how best to return samples from the Martian surface. Former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine even called the endeavor, “a civilization-level changing capability” that may “help us become the first to discover life on another planet.” But talk is cheap, unlike the projected program costs that won’t stop rising. According to a report released by independent reviewers in 2020, the MSR mission was slated to cost $3.8 to $4.4 billion. By June 2023, NASA was busy pushing back against credible reports that the cost had ballooned to $8 to $9 billion. The latest report identifies an upper bound of $11 billion, further eroding the credibility of an agency notorious for underestimating costs.

NASA could lower costs by moving the launch of the lander and orbiter to 2030, but even then, the mission would likely cost at least $8 billion and require $1 billion in steady annual spending between fiscal years 2025 and 2028. The report authors miss an important opportunity to hold NASA accountable for their galactic blunders. Rather than critically assess the importance of the mission, the authors warn that, by abandoning the MSR mission, the US would “abandon...the preeminent role that JFK ascribed to the scientific exploration of space...” At a time when multiple private companies are charting missions to Mars, it is unclear why it is the job of taxpayers to foot the bill for this technical, challenging task. These private ventures have every incentive to keep costs under control, unlike an agency known for chronic cost overruns.

NASA’s mission back to the moon has already been plagued by scheduling delays and cost overruns. Taxpayers will likely have to shell out $100 billion before another “small step” can happen. According to a new audit by NASA’s Inspector General (IG), the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket slated to ferry astronauts to the moon is an astounding $6 billion over budget. NASA had originally thought that using some of its older technologies (e.g., Space Shuttle and Constellation Programs) would save the mission money and incorporated these savings into initial cost estimates. But “the complexity of developing, updating, and integrating new systems along with heritage components proved to be much greater than anticipated” and costs have skyrocketed out of control. NASA has also had an exceptionally difficult time keeping its contractors at budget. The IG notes, “NASA used cost-plus contracts at times where we believe fixed-price contracts should have been considered to potentially reduce costs, including the addition of 18 new production engines under the RS-25 Restart and Production contract and acquisition of Artemis IV booster long-lead materials under the BPOC letter contract.” Award fees are out of control, and contractors have no incentive to adhere to a bottom line. The IG found that NASA has already spent $40 billion to get astronauts back to the moon and will likely spend close to $100 billion total on the endeavor.

The relevant question is not whether missions to the moon or Mars should happen, but who should blaze the path into the cosmos. NASA has all the wrong incentives that enable cost overruns and mission creep. Funding forays into space is a mission for investors, not taxpayers.

David Williams is the president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 21:15

Ejected For The Last Time: Netflix Officially Pulls Plug On DVD Business

Ejected For The Last Time: Netflix Officially Pulls Plug On DVD Business

25 years after launching its DVD-by-mail rental service, Netflix is finally pulling the plug on what has become a mere hobby to the global streaming juggernaut.

As announced earlier this year, the company will be shipping its final disc on Friday, September 29, marking the end of the iconic red envelopes that paved the way from brick-and-mortar movie rental (RIP Blockbuster) to the age of limitless streaming.

As Statista's Felix Richter reports, the end of the DVD-by-mail service has been a long time coming, and if anything, it lasted longer than many people would have expected. After all, it’s been more than 15 years since Netflix introduced video streaming and 12 years since the company (controversially at the time) split the DVD business from the streaming service. Back then, the streaming part got to keep the Netflix name, while the DVD business was renamed Qwikster, albeit just for one very turbulent month.

“DVD by mail may not last forever, but we want it to last as long as possible,” Netflix co-founder and then CEO Reed Hastings said in a blog post at the time, before explaining in more detail why the company is going all in on streaming: “For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business. Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.”

And while Hasting’s big bet on streaming was controversial at the time, it did pay out handsomely, as Statista's chart illustrates.

Infographic: No Room for Nostalgia: Netflix Ejects DVD Business | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Back in 2011, Netflix’s revenue from its combined DVD and streaming service amounted to $3.2 billion. Last year, the company made $31.5 billion from streaming alone, with the DVD business contributing less than $150 million or 0.5 percent to Netflix’s total revenue.

While immensely popular in its day, the DVD-by-mail business could never have scaled the way that streaming has.

In January 2016, Netflix went live in 130 countries simultaneously. Try doing that with a DVD-by-mail service.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 20:50

US Military-Sanctioned Diversity Initiatives Are Out Of Control

US Military-Sanctioned Diversity Initiatives Are Out Of Control

Authored by James Fitzpatrick via RealClear Wire,

As those who have ever served in the military know, the United States Armed Forces is one of the most culturally and socioeconomically diverse institutions in America. It is full of patriotic Americans from all walks of life who come together to serve their country, fight for it, and ultimately die for it if called to. To have served in the military in any form is to be a member of an exclusive club in this country. Although there are some barriers to entry, race is not among them.

The Armed Forces have also provided countless opportunities for citizens in our nation who—through hard work, grit, and merit–rise through the ranks, provide a meaningful and fulfilling life for themselves and their families, and are justly proud of their calling. No matter their race, Americans have found comfort in the idea that if you are willing to work and serve your country with honor, the military will reward merit. 

Since January 2021, the Biden administration has made a concerted effort to inject “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” (DEI) into almost every facet of military life. This includes mandatory trainings, a DoD-wide “Equity Action Plan” and an entire day dedicated to “Leadership Stand-Down to Address Extremism in the Force.” Recently, this radical DEI advocacy was taken to a new level.

On August 9, 2022, in his previous role as Chief of Staff of the Air Force, CQ Brown sent a memo to both the Headquarters Offices for the Air Force Academy and the Air Education and Training Command titled “Officer Source of Commission Applicant Pool Goals,” the memo directed officials at those institutions to “develop a diversity and inclusion outreach plan aimed at achieving these goals no later than 30 September 2022.” Among these “goals” Brown directed the offices to implement specific racial quotas broken down by percentage for each race. For example, the goal for “White” officer candidates is 67.5% and for “Black/African American” officer candidates is 13%.

This is disturbing for several reasons and could be potentially catastrophic for the reputation of the military at a time when recruitment and retention is at an all-time low. Just this week, the Navy reported that it will miss its recruiting goal by 7,000 sailors this year and the Air Force reported that it will miss its recruiting goal for the first time since 1999.

First, the military is one of the last institutions that Americans revere. A July 2023 Gallup Poll found that 60% of Americans have a “high confidence” in the military. This is a good thing and is likely due to the military having a reputation for being a nonpolitical meritocracy where decisions are made in the best interest of protecting the country and not based on ideology.

Second, our military exists to protect the American people, our homeland, our interests, allies abroad, neutralize our enemies wherever they hide, and ensure a safe and prosperous future for our children. We will do this by finding, enlisting, training, and retaining the best and brightest men and women the country has to offer regardless of their race. Straying from that principle in the name of filling racial quotas is a disservice to the American taxpayer and makes Americans less safe.

Third, this directive is potentially illegal on its face. The United States Equal Opportunity Commission states on its website, “It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” With this memo, Brown is advocating for just that. Air Force Officer applicants would be literally discriminated against because of their race if this new directive is implemented. There is seemingly no way to meet the quotas outlined in the directive without engaging in discrimination against certain applicants because of their race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Most members of the Air Force and the military generally are honest, hard-working people who do not believe our future airmen should be reduced to racial statistics. Recently promoted, Brown will now leave behind this divisive policy and force those below him, who likely had nothing to do with the idea, to implement the policy. This is wrong.

We must do better. That is why my organization, Center to Advance Security in America, has filed a series of FOIA requests to further investigate the implementation of these discriminatory policies.

The American military is the most powerful force for good the world has ever seen. If we want it to remain that way, we must shift our focus back to recruiting and retaining based on skill, merit, and future abilities – not race. It is not too late to shift course. If we do not, these out-of-control initiatives will continue, and military readiness will suffer.

*  *  *

James Fitzpatrick is an Army Veteran and the Director of the Center to Advance Security in America (CASA), an organization dedicated to improving the safety and security of the American people.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 20:25

House Passes Rep. Marjorie Greene's Amendment To Cut Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's Salary To $1

House Passes Rep. Marjorie Greene's Amendment To Cut Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's Salary To $1

Authored by Jana J. Pruet via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

House Republicans have approved an amendment to slash U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s annual salary to no more than $1. The move comes as Congress remains in a gridlock over the budget, which could lead to a government shutdown.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin answers questions during a press briefing after participating in a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on July 18, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Wednesday introduced the measure, which was approved in a voice vote as part of the 2024 fiscal year appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). (pdf)

"I'm proud to let you know my amendment to FIRE Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin just passed on the House floor," Ms. Greene wrote on X following the amendment's passage.

“Under his failed leadership, our military is being destroyed, and he doesn’t deserve to serve any longer. This is the first time in the 118th Congress the Holman rule has been used to hold a Biden official accountable. It’s time for more," she continued.

The Holman Rule is a provision that allows members of Congress to reduce the salary, fire federal employees, or cut specific programs during the appropriations process. The provision was first adopted in 1876. It has been dropped and reinstated at various times since its inception. Earlier this year, the GOP-led House revived the measure for the 118th Congress. The order was not adopted for the 116th and 117th Congresses. (pdf)

"Secretary Austin has not fulfilled his job duties," Ms. Greene said on the House floor. "As a matter of fact, he's destroying our military. During Secretary Austin's tenure, military recruitment has reached crisis levels of low recruitment."

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) spoke in opposition to the move, citing Mr. Austin's decades-long military career.

"Secretary Austin has dedicated his life to service in the United States," Ms. McCollum said in a speech on the House floor. "For 41 years, he has served in the United States Army, which began as an appointment to West Point and rose to the rank of four-star general."

Mr. Austin, who led the withdrawal from Afghanistan, has an annual salary of more than $221,000.

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to pay Defense Secretary Lloyd James Austin III a salary that exceeds $1,” the provision reads. (pdf)

Ms. Greene, along with other conservatives in the House, has frequently criticized Mr. Austin's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. More than 180 people, including 13 service members, were killed by suicide bombers at Kabul Airport during the evacuation that marked the disastrous end of the 20-year war against terror.

Austin Faces Impeachment

The Pentagon chief is also facing impeachment for "high crimes and misdemeanors" regarding his actions leading up to and during the military's exodus from Afghanistan.

Late last month, Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) introduced articles of impeachment accusing Mr. Austin of "dereliction of duty including and resulting in abandonment of Americans in Afghanistan."

"It's not enough for Congress to hold committee hearings," Mr. Mills said in a news release on Aug. 28. "We must start taking real action to address the complete failure of this administration."

In December 2020, then-president-elect Joe Biden nominated Mr. Austin, who was retired at the time, to lead the Defense Department. He accepted the nomination and was confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 22, 2021, in a vote of 93–2.

"Despite having nearly 8 months as Secretary of Defense to prepare for and execute a smooth and orderly departure from Afghanistan, Secretary Austin failed to adequately prepare for such a withdrawal, including through his decisions during the catastrophic events of July and August 2021, which initially resulted in as many as 9,000 Americans being abandoned in Afghanistan," reads House Resolution 666. (pdf)

"These actions recklessly abandoned the interests, security, and values of the United States of America and contributed to the unnecessary deaths of 13 United States servicemembers as well as uncounted American civilians who were targeted and murdered by the Taliban," the document continues.

Earlier this year, the State Department released its "After Action Review on Afghanistan," which analyzed the decisions made between January and August leading up to the withdrawal (pdf). More than 150 voluntary interviews with current and former State Department officials, along with "relevant" documents and other materials, were compiled for the report.

The report states that decisions by the Trump and Biden administrations contributed to the disastrous situation in Afghanistan.

"The decisions of both President [Donald] Trump and President Biden to end the U.S. military mission posed significant challenges for the Department as it sought to maintain a robust diplomatic and assistance presence in Kabul and provide continued support to the Afghan government and people," reads the report.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 19:40

These Are The World's Least Affordable Housing Markets

These Are The World's Least Affordable Housing Markets

When considering where to live, big cities are attractive to people for a number of reasons, but affordability is usually not one of them.

In the following map, Visual Capitalist's Avery Koop highlights, using data from Demographia, the major cities ranked the worst for housing market affordability on a global basis.

Unaffordable Housing Markets

Demographia’s report looks at middle-income housing affordability in 94 cities in eight countries, many of which are known for having pricy housing markets:

For the 2023 report, it uses 2022 Q3 prices and income levels for evaluation, dividing the median house price by the gross median household income to find the median multiple for housing.

And for the first time in the history of Demographia’s reporting, not a single of the 94 cities scored below 3.0, the cutoff to be deemed “affordable.” Here’s a closer look at the least affordable markets in 2023:

For well over a decade now, Hong Kong has taken the top spot as the least affordable market globally. The only city to become even less affordable year over year was Los Angeles.

On the flip side, the most affordable city in the U.S. was Pittsburgh, with the median multiple sitting at 3.1. As people start to get priced out of certain markets, they may start to move to these more affordable cities.

Zooming out farther, here are the housing market affordability scores for all eight jurisdictions covered in this report:

Again, none of these countries are considered affordable, but within each there is a wide range of scores. Hong Kong is significantly less affordable than the second-place New Zealand and third-place Australia.

Scores across Canada, Singapore, the UK, Ireland and the U.S., however, are quite similar.

Better Cities for Housing Market Affordability

While many people flock to big cities, evidenced by the fact that many of the least affordable places are also among the most populous, others are opting to live somewhere more in their price range.

Here’s a glance at some of the most affordable housing markets worldwide:

Rank City Housing Median Multiple
1 🇺🇸 Pittsburgh, PA 3.1
2 🇺🇸 Rochester, NY 3.2
3 🇺🇸 Cleveland, OH 3.5
3 🇺🇸 St. Louis, MO-IL 3.5
5 🇺🇸 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 3.6
5 🇺🇸 Oklahoma City, OK 3.6
7 🇺🇸 Buffalo, NY 3.7
8 🇺🇸 Detroit, MI 3.8
9 🇺🇸 Louisville, KY-IN 3.9
9 🇺🇸 Tusla, OK 3.9
11 🇨🇦 Edmonton, AB 4.0
11 🇺🇸 Hartford, CT 4.0
11 🇺🇸 Kansas City, MO-KS 4.0
14 🇺🇸 Columbus, OH 4.1
14 🇺🇸 Grand Rapid, MI 4.1
14 🇺🇸 Indianapolis, IN 4.1
14 🇺🇸 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI 4.1
14 🇺🇸 Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD 4.1

All of the top 18 most affordable cities covered in the report are located in North America.

While big, global cities will certainly continue to attract talent and residents from all over, the more affordable cities may gain new residents for more practical financial reasons.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 19:20

Mike Lindell Says MyPillow 'Crippled' By Major Credit Card Company

Mike Lindell Says MyPillow 'Crippled' By Major Credit Card Company

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell said Monday that his company has been "crippled" by American Express after it allegedly cut MyPillow's credit line by about 90 percent.

Mike Lindell at a resort in Dana Point, Calif., on Jan. 27, 2023. (Mei Li/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Lindell, a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, has long said that extensive campaign is being waged by retailers and financial institutions to cancel him and his business ventures following his claims after the 2020 election.

"We really need everybody's help right now. We have things going on I'm going to let you all know this week," he told Steve Bannon on his "War Room" Rumble show. "American Express, I wasn't going to say this, we've been with them 15 years and we do all of our online marketing, all our shipping with them, out of the blue they took our credit line from a million dollars down to $100,000, just cripples MyPillow."

He added that the credit card firm lowered the line for "no reason" and "no explanation was given, adding it "just dropped it down last Tuesday." The Epoch Times has contacted American Express, which hasn't released a public statement on Mr. Lindell's statement, for comment on the matter.

The move, he said, is part of an "all-out attack on MyPillow," saying his company was also targeted by another company that he did not disclose in recent days.

Over the summer, Mr. Lindell announced he would be auctioning off 700 pieces of equipment, including forklifts, desks, and cubicle units. Speaking to a local newspaper in Minneapolis, he said the auction comes after he said MyPillow lost $100 million in revenue due to retailers and other companies halting sales of his products.

"It was a massive, massive cancellation," he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in July. "We lost $100 million from attacks by the box stores, the shopping networks, the shopping channels, all of them did cancel culture on us."

According to a search of Walmart's website, the big box retailer doesn't sell MyPillow products. The company said last year it would stop selling MyPillow items at brick-and-mortar locations. In January 2022, one of his banks, the Minnesota Bank & Trust, described the MyPillow CEO as a "reputation risk" and cut ties with him weeks later.

Other retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Wayfair, H-E-B, and Kohl's also stopped selling Mr. Lindell's products, he has previously said. As one of the first companies to cut ties with MyPillow—days after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach—Bed Bath said it would discontinue sales due to a "number of underperforming items and brands."

And earlier this year, Mr. Lindell told Business Insider that he had to sell a "building I had in Savage, in Minnesota, in October. And I had to borrow 2 million too. I've spent it all on fighting for this country." In March, he told a left-wing news outlet that his business is doing fine after launching what he described as "MyPillow 2.0."

About a year ago, the pillow magnate also said that agents with the FBI seized his cellphone at a fast-food restaurant, also posting a grand jury subpoena from a federal prosecutor in Colorado and what appeared to be a search warrant. The Denver FBI field office told news outlets at the time that “without commenting on this specific matter, I can confirm that the FBI was at that location executing a search warrant authorized by a federal judge.”

“The FBI came after me and took my phone,” Mr. Lindell wrote on Facebook. “They surrounded me in a Hardee’s and took my phone that I run all my business, everything with. What they’ve done is weaponize—the FBI, it’s disgusting. I don’t have a computer. Everything I do [is] off that phone. Everything was on there. And they told me not to tell anybody. Here’s an order: ‘Don’t tell anybody!’ ‘OK, I won’t!’ Well, I am.”

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 19:00

Blinken: China Is The Number One Threat To US-Led 'Liberal World Order'

Blinken: China Is The Number One Threat To US-Led 'Liberal World Order'

Washington has been sinking billions of dollars into the Ukraine conflict, in the name of defeating and 'weakening' Russia, and yet Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week highlighted China as the real "threat" to the US and the 'liberal world order'. 

Biden's top diplomat was interviewed by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who asked among other things whether Russia or China is a bigger "threat" to the United States. Blinken responded by saying China has a "much greater ability certainly than Russia to try to shape what the international system looks like."

Via Reuters

In reference to China, Blinken answered: "I think they want a world order, but the world order that they seek is profoundly illiberal in nature; ours is liberal with a small ‘L.’  And that’s the fundamental difference."

On the question of what motivates China, Blinken said, "I think that what it seeks is to be the dominant power in the world militarily, economically, diplomatically."

Below is the full exchange from the transcript: 

GOLDBERG:  Is Russia a bigger threat to the U.S. and to Western democratic interests now or is China actually the number one?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  They’re very different in their nature.  The – China has – by its military capacity, its economic capacity, although a little bit more challenged these days, its diplomatic capacity, its presence around the world – much greater ability certainly than Russia to try to shape what the international system looks like.  And I think they want a world order, but the world order that they seek is profoundly illiberal in nature; ours is liberal with a small “L.”  And that’s the fundamental difference.  The world that we hope to shape looks very different from the world that they might prefer so ‑-

GOLDBERG:  What does China want, ultimately?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I think that what it seeks is to be the dominant power in the world militarily, economically, diplomatically.  And depending on the purpose that it brings to that, that can move things in one direction or another.  But I think fundamentally that’s what China is seeking, that’s what Xi Jinping is seeking, and in a sense that’s not a surprise.  There’s an extraordinary history in China, and I think if you look and listen to the Chinese leaders, they are seeking to recover what they believe is their rightful place in the world.

This does reflect recent and broader Washington defense and think tank establishment thinking which sees China as the most severe long-term threat to the US, with Russia in second.

For example, a 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) document produced by the Pentagon identified China as the "most comprehensive and serious challenge to US national security strategy" - again despite the bulk of the defense budget and foreign aid now being focused on Ukraine. Some Congressional hawks, particularly among Republicans, have questioned why more isn't being spent to bolster Taiwan and counter China.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 18:40

COVID-19 Vaccine Found In The Hearts Of Dead People: Study

COVID-19 Vaccine Found In The Hearts Of Dead People: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours)

COVID-19 vaccine was detected in patients who died within a month of vaccination, according to a new study.

COVID-19 vaccines in Massachusetts in a file image. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. researchers analyzed tissue samples from the autopsies of 25 people, including 20 who were vaccinated.

Samples from the hearts of three patients, all of whom died within 30 days of a Pfizer shot, tested positive for messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA).

Eight bilateral axillary lymph node samples, from people who died within 30 days of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, also tested positive. The companies' shots utilize mRNA.

The research shows "the vaccine can persist for up to 30 days, including in the heart," Dr. James Stone, with the departments of pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told The Epoch Times via email.

The study was published by npj Vaccines. Authors declared no conflicts of interest. They said the research was supported by Massachusetts General Hospital, which is in Boston.

In testing of heart and bilateral axillary lymph node tissues from other vaccinated people who died, no vaccine was detected.

Additionally, no vaccine was detected in the liver, spleen, or mediastinal lymph nodes—vaccine was detected in the liver and spleen in preclinical rodent studies before—nor was any detected in tissues from the unvaccinated patients.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are known to cause myocarditis, a form of heart inflammation that can result in death.

The people who had mRNA detected in the heart did not have myocarditis, though they did have detectable heart injuries, researchers found.

The researchers said they believed the heart injuries stemmed from underlying diseases and not the vaccines.

"There is no indication as yet that the vaccine in the heart is causing any problems in these patients; neither the causes of death nor the causes of the myocardial injury were linked to the vaccines in that study," said Dr. Stone, one of the authors of the paper.

A health care worker prepares a dose Pfizer/BioNTEch COVID-19 vaccine at The Michener Institute, in Toronto, Canada, on Dec.14, 2020. (Carlos Osorio/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

That position was challenged by Dr. Clare Craig, a British pathologist who reviewed the research.

"The vaccine should not have been there. There was evidence of heart damage. Those three people are now dead," Dr. Craig told The Epoch Times in a message.

She said the researchers were setting too high of a bar for causality.

"At postmortem if there is significant narrowing of the coronary arteries then heart damage is attributed to it on the balance of probabilities. Here this is a clear cut association, an unusual picture of myocardial injury, and a failure to call it out for what it is," Dr. Craig said.

More on Research

The tissues were collected from autopsies performed between January 2021 and February 2022 at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers excluded tissues from some dead people, including from patients who had no clear history of vaccination or non-vaccination and those who had a documented prior COVID-19 infection.

The researchers wanted to test the tissue for vaccine in light of research that has found both spike protein and mRNA persisting in axillary lymph nodes and blood for weeks or even months after vaccination. The testing would help "gain a better understanding of the biodistribution and persistence of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines," they said. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.

Researchers ended up with tissues from 20 vaccinated patients, including six who received one dose, 12 who received two doses, and two who received three doses. They also formed a control group of five unvaccinated patients.

Six bilateral axillary lymph node samples were available for people vaccinated with Moderna's shot. Two tested positive for the vaccine. Thirteen were available for people vaccinated with Pfizer's shot. Six tested positive for the vaccine.

Overall, of the 11 bilateral axillary lymph node samples from patients who died within 30 days of a shot, eight tested positive. None of the samples from patients who died beyond 30 days of vaccination tested positive.

Researchers also examined samples from each of the vaccinated people from the cardiac left ventricle and cardiac right ventricle. Of those, four samples tested positive across three patients. These were the three who received Pfizer's shot within 30 days of dying. The samples also tested negative for COVID-19.

Vaccine was not detected in any of the unvaccinated people.

The vaccinated patients were on average older, with a mean age of 64 compared to 57. A higher percentage—55 percent to 20 percent—had recent heart injury.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/29/2023 - 18:20

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