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President Trump Pardons Michael Flynn

President Trump Pardons Michael Flynn Tyler Durden Thu, 11/26/2020 - 04:25

Update (1730ET): The White House Press Secretary's office has released a lengthy statement setting out the reasons for pardoning Gen. Flynn. The statement read that Flynn shouldn't require a pardon because "he is an innocent man".

In reality, Flynn was the victim of a highly partisan campaign orchestrated by critics of the president within the FBI and the intelligence community, the WH added, while accusing the "complicit" media of perverting the facts and attacking the underpinnings of the Amerian system all because they couldn't accept the fact that Trump won the 2016 race.

The MSM, meanwhile, is already trying to make Flynn's pardon an "issue" for the Jan. 5 runoff Senate races in Georgia.

Then again, the media already has plenty of fodder for those races.

* * *

Just minutes before the market closed on the day before Thanksgiving (typically one of the slowest, lowest-volume days of the year) John Solomon reported that President Trump has pardoned Michael Flynn, the man who briefly served as his national security advisor before being taken down (and then charged and convicted of lying to investigators) in an effort that some have described as a deep state-backed setup.

Trump just confirmed the initial reports, published minutes ago by John Solomon and Just the News, and tweeted that: "It is my Great Honor to announce that retired Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon,” Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!".

Flynn was granted a full pardon by the president, who also commuted the sentence of former advisor Roger Stone back in July.

As the AP explains, Trump's pardon effectively voids the criminal case against Flynn just as a federal judge was weighing, skeptically, whether to grant a Justice Department request to dismiss the prosecution despite Flynn’s own guilty plea to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts.

Already, Trump's partisan opponents - including House Intelligence Committee head Adam Schiff, a longtime Trump critic - are lashing out at the president over the decision.

"Well, it would send a message that at least as far as President Trump is concerned, if you lie on his behalf, if you cover up for him, he will reward you, he will protect you, but only if he thinks it’s in his interest."

"There are others that lied for him that he’s not going to extend that kind of service to," Schiff added. "But it just frankly reflects so ill on our democracy, on the United States. Imagine what people around the world think when we have a president who’s acting like an organized crime figure," Schiff added.

Jerry Nadler, the New York Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also bashed Trump for the decision, which was hardly a surprise: Trump has been saying for months that a pardon for Flynn was likely.

It's a safe bet that somebody - probably James Comey - will compare Trump to a mafia boss, especially since Flynn's pardon follows Trump's rant during a hearing in PA today where Trump egged on Rudy Giuliani and the others who are trying to overturn PA's presidential election result. A judge handed them a major court victory earlier.

Though Flynn pleaded guilty three years ago, his sentencing hadn't yet been handed down as his legal team worked to dismiss the case, something that has become a cause celebre among conservatives.

Flynn initially pleaded guilty to charges of lying to investigators that were related to his conversations with a Russian diplomat. He was the second Trump 'associate' convicted in the Mueller probe, according to the AP, and the only White House official to be convicted during the nearly two-year investigation (for more background, see the tweet below).

 

 

The general was fired just weeks after being confirmed as Trump's first national security advisor after it came to light that he had lied about conversations Flynn had in December 2016 with the then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn reportedly urged Moscow not to escalate in response to sanctions imposed by the departing Obama administration over allegations that Russia interfered to try and hand Trump the election.

Responding to news of the pardon, Jonathan Turley (author of the essay hyperlinked above), said "The idea of Trump pardoning a former aide still sits badly with me. However, so does the conduct of his judge and the refusal to end this saga."

While Sidney Powell battles on in her legal effort to overturn election results in several states, some pointed out that Flynn's pardon is a 'win' for her.

At a hearing for the Flynn case in September, Powell told the judge that she had discussed the case with President Trump but also said she did not want a pardon (presumably because she wanted Flynn to be vindicated on the merits).

The DoJ said it wasn't consulted by President Trump ahead of the pardon, but the department approves of the decision nonetheless.

Though it wasn't the 'kraken' we had come to expect from Powell, for conservatives, it's a pleasant reminder that - for now at least - Trump is still president.

To be sure, while Flynn might be the first and possibly most high-profile individual pardoned since Election Day, he likely won't be the last: word around Washington is that Trump could pardon Edward Snowden as a kind of last-minute middle finger to the 'Deep State'.

How To Celebrate Thanksgiving Amid Toxic Politics & COVID-19 Lockdowns

How To Celebrate Thanksgiving Amid Toxic Politics & COVID-19 Lockdowns Tyler Durden Thu, 11/26/2020 - 00:00

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“War is over. If you want it.”

 - John Lennon

If ever there were a year filled with an abundance of bad news and a shortage of good news, 2020 would take the prize. Between the toxic political theater, pandemic scares, nationwide lockdowns that smack of martial law, a rollercoaster economy, and the ever-present menace of the police state, it’s been a hard, heart-wrenching, stomach-churning kind of year overrun with too much hate and too little tolerance.

It’s been a year in which tyranny took a few more steps forward, freedom got knocked down a few more notches, and politics and profit margins took precedence over decency, compassion and human-kindness.

Now we find ourselves at this present moment, overwhelmed by all that is wrong in the world and missing the fellowship of family and friends kept apart by COVID-19 restrictions and concerns.

No wonder this Thanksgiving finds so many struggling to reflect and give thanks for what is good. After all, how do you give thanks for freedoms that are constantly being eroded? How do you express gratitude for one’s safety when the perils posed by the American police state grow more treacherous by the day? How do you come together as a nation in thanksgiving when the powers-that-be continue to polarize and divide us into warring factions?

Here’s what I’ve learned from living in a small community (population 1500) for the past year: you don’t have to agree on politics, or subscribe to the same religious beliefs, or have the same demographic makeup in order to live peaceably with one another.

These small-town people don’t have a preponderance of fancy cars or advanced degrees or six-figure salaries or committees aimed at discussing problems to death, and yet they have mastered the art of getting along. They make no secret about their views on politics and religion and anything else on their minds, and yet they remain friendly—neighborly—respectful of those with opposing views, even when they wholeheartedly disagree.

Yes, America, there is life beyond politics and it can be wonderful if you just give it a chance.

Here’s what I suggest: this Thanksgiving, do yourselves a favor and turn off the talking heads, tune out the politicians, and take a deep breath. Then try this exercise in gratitude: find something to be thankful for about the things and people in your community for which you might have the least tolerance or appreciation. Instead of just rattling off a list of things you’re thankful for that sound good, dig a little deeper and acknowledge the good in those you may have underappreciated or feared.

When it comes time to giving thanks for your good fortune, put your gratitude into action: pay your blessings forward with deeds that spread a little kindness, lighten someone’s burden, and brighten some dark corner.

Engage in acts of kindness. Smile more. Fight less. Build bridges. Refuse to let toxic politics define your relationships. Focus on the things that unite instead of that which divides.

Do your part to push back against the meanness of our culture with conscious compassion and humanity. Moods are contagious, the good and the bad. They can be passed from person to person. So can the actions associated with those moods, the good and the bad.

Even with COVID-19 restrictions in place throughout the country, there is still so much good that can be done to help those in need.

Be a hero, whether or not anyone ever notices.

Acts of benevolence, no matter how inconsequential they might seem, can spark a movement.

Each of us has an inner hero we can draw upon in an emergency,” concludes psychologist Philip Zimbardo. “If you think there is even a possibility that someone needs help, act on it. You may save a life. You are the modern version of the Good Samaritan that makes the world a better place for all of us.”

All it takes is one person breaking away from the fold to change the dynamics of a situation. “Once any one helps, then in seconds others will join in because a new social norm emerges,” notes Zimbardo.

This is what Zimbardo refers to as “the power of one.”

“If you find yourself in an ambiguous situation, resist the urge to look to others and go with your gut instinct,” advises Melissa Burkley in Psychology Today.

“If you think there is even a possibility that someone is in need, act on it. At worst, you will embarrass yourself for a few minutes, but at best, you will save a life.”

In other words, don’t turn away from suffering. Even smiling at a stranger in these fearful times can be a revolutionary act.

All it takes is one person to start a chain reaction.

For instance, a few years ago in Florida, a family of six—four adults and two young boys—were swept out to sea by a powerful rip current in Panama City Beach. There was no lifeguard on duty. The police were standing by, waiting for a rescue boat. And the few people who had tried to help ended up stranded, as well.

Those on shore grouped together and formed a human chain. What started with five volunteers grew to 15, then 80 people, some of whom couldn’t swim.

One by one, they linked hands and stretched as far as their chain would go. The strongest of the volunteers swam out beyond the chain and began passing the stranded victims of the rip current down the chain.

One by one, they rescued those in trouble and pulled each other in.

There’s a moral here for what needs to happen in this country if we only can band together and prevail against the riptides that threaten to overwhelm us.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, there may not be much we can do to avoid the dismal reality of the police state in the long term—not so long as the powers-that-be continue to call the shots and allow profit margins to take precedence over the needs of people—but in the short term, there are things we can all do right now to make this world (or at least our small corners of it) a little bit kinder, a lot less hostile and more just.

It’s never too late to start making things right in the world.

San Antonio Food Bank Doubles Amount Of People It Serves 

San Antonio Food Bank Doubles Amount Of People It Serves  Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 23:30

Two Americas were visible on Tuesday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed 30,000 for the first time. Simultaneously, hundreds of vehicles were snaked around a parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico, waiting in line at a local food bank. 

This suggests the K-shaped economic recovery, one where the rich grow richer and the working-poor are crushed with job loss and insurmountable debts, is getting much worse by the month. 

For more on the rapid reemergence of food bank lines, or what will be the new normal in a severely broken economy that is in desperate need of structural reform, Eric Cooper, CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank in Texas, on Tuesday, told CNBC's Shepard Smith that demand at his food bank has more than doubled this year. 

"Pre-pandemic we fed about 60,00 people a week and now we're seeing about 120,000 per week, and most of those are new to the food bank, and have never had to ask for help before," Cooper told Smith during an interview on Tuesday evening. 

He said, "today, we had a distribution that fed 2,000, and we have these distributions all the time." 

"Food banks around the country have seen this unprecedented demand, and we're just working as hard as we can to balance the private donations we get, with the public assistance to try to make sure people are fed," he explained. 

Cooper continued: "A child would miss ten meals in a week, and if a mom has two to three kids in school, she's now feeling the impact of the cost of that food at home, and without employment, kids are going hungry. We hear from schools that kids struggle with their education because they don't have access to good nutrition." 

Watch Full Interview 

It was just last week that a food bank in Dallas, Texas, handed out, in one day, the "largest-ever" food distribution. 

Nationwide, internet searches for "drive-thru food bank near me" is erupting.  

And the problem we see here is that many of the key provisions in the CARES Act are set to expire on Dec. 31 - this could be catastrophic for millions of unemployed Americans and risk derailing the economic recovery. 

"We just hope that Congress acts quickly, the stimulus package needs to support families to put food on their table," Cooper said.

And if elevated demand for food banks continues to persist, "meal shortage" could be seen within the next 12 months. 

The new normal for millions of America's working poor appears awfully similar to the 1930s. 

 Maybe each future stimulus check should include a one-year subscription to Blue Apron or HelloFresh? 

Biden's Gun Control Plan Would Cost Gun Owners $34 Billion In Taxes

Biden's Gun Control Plan Would Cost Gun Owners $34 Billion In Taxes Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 23:00

Submitted by Joseph Jankowski of Planet Free Will

Under Joe Biden’s proposed gun control plan, American gun owners would cough up tens of billions dollars in taxes as millions of rifles and magazines now in their possession would be subject to a tax under the National Firearms Act.

The center piece of Biden’s gun plan is to place a ban on the manufacture and sale of “assault weapons,” while bringing the regulation of possession of such firearms under the 1934 National Firearms Act.

Currently, the NFA of 1934 applies to fully automatics firearms, silencers and short-barreled rifles. But Biden would drag “assault weapons”, meaning semiautomatic rifles, pistols and shotguns (think the AR-15) along with “high capacity magazines”, which have generally been understood to be magazines that carry more than 10 rounds, under the act.

According to a National Shooting Sports Foundation report on firearm production figures, Americans in total own at least 20 million rifles and 150 million ammunition magazines that would be subject to the NFA regulations if Biden’s plan were put in place.

Under the NFA, each rifle and each magazine would be taxed at $200 per item. On top of that, gun owners would be subjected to complicated paper work and an identification process.

As Americans for Tax Reform reports:

As detailed on Biden’s campaign website, “Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.” This triggers the $200 tax.

In order to register a firearm (or a magazine, under Joe Biden’s plan), you have to send in a 13-page, complicated application form with the $200 tax included, your fingerprints, and a photograph of yourself. In this way, the hurdles to legally own your weapon or high-capacity magazine go far beyond the expensive tax. 

With 20 million rifles and 150 million magazines to fall under the NFA with Biden’s plan, the amount of taxes paid by American gun owners would equate to $34 billion dollars.

If a gun-owner chooses not to hand in his NFA regulated rifle or magazine, he or she would face up to 10 years in federal prison, and a potential $10,000 fine.

The move would be in total violation of Biden’s pledge not to tax those who make under $400,000 annually and would put an even greater financial burden on Americans who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and state induced economic shutdowns.

More from Americans for Tax Reform:

Many families who have already been struggling due to the economic damage done by the coronavirus would find themselves incapable of paying for the ability to practice a constitutional right of theirs.

According to the Biden campaign, any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds is a “high capacity” magazine. Even if someone owns only one AR-15, if they have just four standard capacity magazines, they would owe the federal government $1,000.

Suddenly, gun control becomes less about mere firearm ownership and more about controlling working-class Americans. In urban areas, where people are most vulnerable to crime, it’s not hard to imagine how crushing this could be. There is nothing new about leftist politicians taxing urban residents in order to dictate behavior, ownership, and lifestyle.

While Biden’s gun control plan likely wont catch much fan fair in the more red, new congress taking hold at the start of 2021 – especially if Republicans can take at least one of the upcoming Georgia run-offs – the idea lends more credence to the suspicion that Trump’s America is likely to be flipped on its head under a Biden presidency.

Watch: F-35 Stealth Fighter Drops Mock Nuclear Bomb Over Nevada Desert

Watch: F-35 Stealth Fighter Drops Mock Nuclear Bomb Over Nevada Desert Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 22:30

We recently highlighted the possibility that the US and China "may well be on the road to war, and nuclear war is no longer unthinkable." For years, we've discussed the relentless quest of Washington elites, preparing the empire for the inevitable collision with China as the battle for economic supremacy nears.

The rapid modernization of the military under the Trump administration, costing taxpayers $2 trillion, was an important signal in gauging Washington Warhawks' level of military preparedness as the threat of rising China increases by the day.

President Trump has described the trillions of dollars allocated to the military as a "colossal rebuilding" effort - something he says has 'never been done before.' Trump has routinely described all sorts of new military technology, including fifth-generation stealth jets, hypersonic missiles, and increased nuclear weapon capability. 

While dangers of confrontation have increased in 2020 as US warships continue to sail through the South China Sea, or Chinese warplanes buzz Taiwan's airspace - Trump is still president for 57 days, meaning that anything is possible in the next two months. 

In a show of force, the Air Force released a video Monday showing a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II dropping a mock nuclear bomb at Sandia National Laboratories' Tonopah Test Range over the Nevada desert. 

"We're showing the B61-12's larger compatibility and broader versatility for the country's nuclear deterrent, and we're doing it in the world of COVID-19," said Steven Samuels, a manager with Sandia's B61-12 Systems Team.

Samuels said, "We're not slowing down. We're still moving forward with the B61-12 compatibility activities on different platforms."

We noted in June that another F-35 dropped a mock nuclear bomb at a test range in the California desert.  

In 2018, the Pentagon upgraded its B61 nuclear gravity bombs, a move that would increase the lifespan for decades. 

"The upgraded, B61-12 LEP will replace all of the bomb's nuclear and non‐nuclear components for another two decades, and improve the bomb's safety, effectiveness, and security. This life extension program will address all age-related issues of the weapon, and enhance its reliability, field maintenance, safety, and use control," the National Nuclear Security Administration said in a tear off sheet

"This was the first test to exercise all systems, including mechanical, electrical, communication and release between the B61-12 and the F-35A," Samuels said.

"The latest test is a critical piece in the F-35A and B61-12 program Aboard the newest fighter, the B61-12 provides a strong piece of the overall nuclear deterrence strategy for our country and our allies," he said. 

Meanwhile, the Navy disclosed last week that a missile interceptor from one of its warships at sea shot down and destroyed a "mock ICBM" that was put into flight for testing purposes.

Scientists: The Human Brain And The Entire Universe Have Odd Similarities

Scientists: The Human Brain And The Entire Universe Have Odd Similarities Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 22:00

Authored by Justin MacLachlan via TheMindUnleashed.com,

An astrophysicist at the University of Bologna and a neurosurgeon at the University of Verona have claimed that the brain resembles the universe. The two Italian researchers came up with the galaxy-brain theory that is out of this world: The structures of the perceptible universe, they say, are astonishingly comparable to the neuronal networks of the human brain.

University of Bologna astrophysicist Franco Vazza and University of Verona neurosurgeon Alberto Feletti document the extraordinary similarities between the cosmic network of galaxies and the complex web of neurons in the human brain. The detailed study was published in the journal Frontiers in Physics showcasing the human brain has roughly 27 orders of magnitude separated in scale, while similarly, the composition of the cosmic web shows comparable levels of complexity and self-organization, according to the researchers.

The brain itself contains an estimated 69 billion neurons, while the visible universe is comprised of at least 100 billion galaxies, strung together like a mesh network. Even more intriguing both galaxies and neurons only account for about 30 percent of the total masses of the universe and brain. Further, both galaxies and neurons arrange themselves like pearls on a long string.

Beginning from the shared features of the two systems, the two researchers examined a simulation of the network of galaxies in comparison to sections of the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum. Their purpose was to inspect how matter variations propagate.

In the case of galaxies, the remaining 70 percent of mass is dark energy. The equivalent in the human brain, the pair said was water.

“We calculated the spectral density of both systems,” Vazza said in a statement about the experiment. “This is a technique often employed in cosmology for studying the spatial distribution of galaxies. Our analysis showed that the distribution of the fluctuation within the cerebellum neuronal network on a scale from 1 micrometer to 0.1 millimeters follows the same progression of the distribution of matter in the cosmic web,” he added, “but, of course, on a larger scale that goes from 5 million to 500 million light-years.”

The amount of interwoven connections originating from each node also were strangely alike sparking further interest to the researchers.

“Once again, structural parameters have identified unexpected agreement levels,” Feletti said in the statement. “Probably, the connectivity within the two networks evolves following similar physical principles, despite the striking and obvious difference between the physical powers regulating galaxies and neurons.”

The team is anticipating that their preliminary research could lead to new analysis procedures advancing knowledge about both cosmology and neurosurgery. Which would enable scientists to better comprehend how these compositions have developed over time.

Will Biden End The Yemen War That He & Obama Started?

Will Biden End The Yemen War That He & Obama Started? Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 21:30

Since 2015 the Saudi coalition which has been bombing Yemen back to the stone age with the close cooperation of the Pentagon has essentially gotten a "free pass" by the mainstream media, despite the United Nations within the past two years classifying the war as the world's "worst humanitarian disaster"

International rights groups and press reports commonly estimate the death toll at over 100,000 and with some putting it at up to a quarter million people killed, with a large percentage being civilian deaths.

Via The LA Times

The war-torn country has also faced severe famine, rampant disease, malnutrition and a lack of medical supplies crisis especially impacting children.

A recent report from In These Times included the following appeal to President-Elect Joe Biden ahead of him taking office on January 20:

One thing Biden can do, start­ing on day one, is end U.S. involve­ment in the Yemen war — involve­ment that he helped ini­ti­ate. ​"By exec­u­tive order, Biden could get the Pen­ta­gon to end intel­li­gence shar­ing for the Sau­di coali­tion airstrikes, end logis­ti­cal sup­port, and end spare parts trans­fers that keep Sau­di war­planes in the air," Has­san El-Tayyab, lead Mid­dle East pol­i­cy lob­by­ist for the Friends Com­mit­tee on Nation­al Leg­is­la­tion, a pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tion, tells In These Times. ​"He could restore human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance to north­ern Yemen. He could use his pow­er as pres­i­dent to put pres­sure on oth­er nations that are sup­port­ing the Sau­di coali­tion — like France, the Unit­ed King­dom and Cana­da — and get them to fol­low suit. He could have the State Depart­ment put a stop on all arms sales to Sau­di Ara­bia unless they meet cer­tain benchmarks." 

But given he's stacked his top national security posts with Liberal Hawks, some of which had an active hand in forming the interventionist policies in Libya and Syria under Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, this is very unlikely.

Yemen has long been the "forgotten war" and will likely remain so, and all the while major defense contractors (tied closely to the incoming administration) will rake in the cash. 

Will Biden finally end the Yemen War which he and Obama started in the first place?  The Grayzone delves into this very question in its latest interview:

The segment introduces: "On the campaign trail, Joe Biden pledged to end US support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen, which the Obama-Biden administration authorized in 2015. Shireen Al-Adeimi, assistant professor of education at Michigan State University, discusses Biden’s responsibility to end the world’s worst humanitarian crisis."

Thanksgiving Dinner Costs Soar In 2020

Thanksgiving Dinner Costs Soar In 2020 Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 21:00

Authored by Adrian Mak via AdvisorSmith.com,

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, Americans around the country are preparing their menus for the traditional holiday. This year, Thanksgiving celebrations may be a bit different given the effects of the coronavirus pandemic leading to smaller family gatherings with fewer people and potentially less holiday travel. Additionally, the pandemic has led to some disruption in food supply chains, as some food supply workers have been sickened with the virus. 

AdvisorSmith examined a basket of staple foods from the Thanksgiving table to understand how these trends have affected the pricing of the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner. We compared recent prices for common Thanksgiving foods in October and November compared with the previous year at both retail and wholesale, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to find the change in the cost of a basket of Thanksgiving foods.

Increase in Cost of Thanksgiving Foods

AdvisorSmith found that a basket of Thanksgiving foods costs approximately 9.8% more in 2020 when compared to Thanksgiving of 2019. The foods included in our analysis were turkey, vegetables, and baking & bread. Vegetables included were potatoes, cranberries, squash, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, and pumpkin. Baking and bread products included flour, white bread, milk, eggs, and butter.

Turkey

AdvisorSmith found that the average price of turkeys at wholesale increased by 11.9% from 2019 to 2020 as of mid-November. Fresh turkeys increased in price an average of 11.6% year-over-year, while frozen turkeys increased in price by about 12.2%.

As Political Calculations notes, the population of farm-raised turkeys in the United States has generally fallen since 1996. In 2020, an estimated 222 million turkeys were raised on American farms, which is down some 27% from the peak of 302.7 million raised in 1996.

The figure for 2020 also represents a decline of 7 million from 2019's level, which itself was revised downward from an initial estimate of 240 million.

By contrast, the collective live weight of farm-raised turkeys has generally plateaued since 1996, falling within a range between 6.877 billion pounds (1999) and 7.922 billion pounds (2008). The initial estimate of the live weight of 2020's 222 million farm-raised turkeys is 7.175 billion pounds.

The combination of a generally flat total live weight for all turkeys produced on American farms with a falling number of birds can only be explained by the growing size of individual turkeys. In 2020, we estimate the average weight of a live farm-raised turkey in the U.S. is 32.3 pounds, down slightly from 2019's revised figure of 32.5 pounds.

Compared to the decade of the 1970s, when the average farm-raised turkey tipped the scale at 18.7 pounds, that represents a 73% increase in the typical size of turkeys produced in the U.S., where their average weight has steadily risen over the last four decades.

That trend may be changing for 2020 however, because smaller turkeys are in high demand as Americans downsize for 2020's Thanksgiving. With celebrations limited to immediate family members with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, American consumers have been bypassing larger birds in favor of smaller ones.

Vegetables

We examined a basket of vegetables that are common for Thanksgiving, including potatoes, cranberries, squash, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, and pumpkin. We found that prices for this basket increased an average of 7.4% during the period of October to mid-November 2020 compared with the same period in the prior year.

Baking & Bread

AdvisorSmith selected a basket of baking and bread products, which included flour, white bread, milk, eggs, and butter. The cost of these staples increased by approximately 7.1% on average during the period of October to mid-November compared with the prior year.

Methodology

AdvisorSmith selected a basket of common Thanksgiving staples from three major categories: turkey, vegetables, and baking & bread. To determine the average increase of the basket of Thanksgiving foods, we examined the difference in prices at retail or wholesale for each of the items individually. We then weighted each of the items to represent their percentage composition of a Thanksgiving meal. Turkey received the highest weight, at 55% of the meal, as the turkey accounts for a majority of the costs of the Thanksgiving meal. We used these weights to calculate the percentage increase in costs for the basket of Thanksgiving foods.

To calculate the increase in turkey prices, we examined wholesale turkey prices for fresh and frozen turkeys from the USDA’s Turkey Market News Report from November 13, 2020. This report included turkeys weighing 8-16 pounds and 16-24 pounds. We used the average price of turkeys per pound from each of these turkey types, and compared the prices to a year ago, which were also included in the report.

We calculated the increase in retail prices as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the following items: flour, white bread, milk, eggs, and potatoes. We compared the average retail price for these items in October 2020 compared with October 2019. 

For the following vegetable items, and butter, we used the weekly advertised retail price as recorded by the USDA: cranberries, squash, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, and pumpkin. We compared the average price this year to the price a year ago for the week of November 7th through November 13th.

Penguin Random House Staff Melts Down After Learning They're Publishing Jordan Peterson's New Book

Penguin Random House Staff Melts Down After Learning They're Publishing Jordan Peterson's New Book Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 20:30

The staff at Penguin Random House Canada had a meltdown at an "emotional town hall" over the company's decision to publish psychologist Jordan Peterson's latest book, according to Vice. Dozens of additional employees have filed "anonymous complaints", the report notes.

On Monday, the publisher said they would publish Peterson's new book, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Peterson, which is going to be out in March 2021. We're guessing none of these additional 12 rules includes setting fire to a Wendy's or throwing a brick through a Target window to steal T-shirts. Hopefully instead, the book offers up a take on how to conduct yourself as an employee of a company without throwing an emotional temper tantrum anytime the boss makes a decision you don't like. 

One "junior employee" at PRH said of Peterson: “He is an icon of hate speech and transphobia and the fact that he’s an icon of white supremacy, regardless of the content of his book, I’m not proud to work for a company that publishes him.”

“I feel it was deliberately hidden and dropped on us once it was too late to change course,” they continued. 

Perhaps Penguin Random House Canada can inform this person they can be a "junior employee" just about anywhere else instead of coddling them with "town hall" meetings and giving them the impression that their feelings actually matter to PRH's bottom line.

A second employee said “people were crying in the meeting about how Jordan Peterson has affected their lives.”

“The company since June has been doing all these anti-racist and allyship things and them publishing Peterson’s book completely goes against this. It just makes all of their previous efforts seem completely performative,” they said.

Another employee said: "[Peterson's] the one who’s responsible for radicalizing and causing this surge of alt-right groups, especially on university campuses."

“They’re not going to acknowledge the reason they're doing it is for money. I feel that would be the more honest route to go rather than making up excuses for Jordan Peterson,” one employee said, as though making money isn't the main idea of running a business anyway. 

The publisher said it welcomes the feedback from its employees. It put out a statement saying: “We announced yesterday that we will publish Jordan Peterson’s new book Beyond Order this coming March. Immediately following the announcement, we held a forum and provided a space for our employees to express their views and offer feedback."

It continued and appeared to stand firm on its decision: "Our employees have started an anonymous feedback channel, which we fully support. We are open to hearing our employees’ feedback and answering all of their questions. We remain committed to publishing a range of voices and viewpoints.” 

We wouldn't bet on Penguin Random House backing down. The book, which dares to offer a clinal professional's uncensored opinion about the increasingly "woke" world we live in, will likely be wildly successful - just as Peterson's first book "12 Rules for Life" was - selling 5 million copies.

We think the folks over at PragerU put it best:

Mayo Clinic's Northwest Wisconsin Hospitals Placing Beds In Ambulance Garage, Lobbies

Mayo Clinic's Northwest Wisconsin Hospitals Placing Beds In Ambulance Garage, Lobbies Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 20:00

By Becker's Hospital Review

To expand capacity at its northwest Wisconsin hospitals, Mayo Clinic Health System is placing beds in waiting rooms, surgical spaces and a heated parking garage, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

The rush to boost bed capacity comes two weeks after the health system warned that 100 percent of its beds were occupied at its hospitals in northwest Wisconsin and more than three weeks after it began postponing elective care.  That number fluctuates by the hour, but emergency room physician Paul Horvath said hospitals and emergency rooms have been forced into what is known as "diversion status."

"I worked a shift in one of the emergency departments the other evening," Horvath said, "and literally every bed in northwest Wisconsin was full, and hospitals just weren't able to admit new patients. Which means that I had the challenge of managing ICU level care in my ER for hours, which is obviously not routine."

Mayo Clinic's hospital in Eau Claire, Wis., set up four emergency beds with privacy curtains in an ambulance garage due to an influx of COVID-19 patients. The hospital said all four beds were filled Nov. 18, but haven't needed to be used since, according to WQOW.

Additionally, a surge at Mayo's hospital in Barron, Wis., forced it to move beds into a room designated for preparing patients for surgery. 

Mayo's surge plan also includes moving beds into lobbies, emergency room physician Sue Cullinan, MD, told Wisconsin Public Radio. 

"Not where I'd want to put my grandfather or my grandmother," she said, though it "may have to happen."

Mayo said that although patients may be placed in different spaces, they are all equipped with the necessary supplies to safely care for patients. 

"We would never put them in any unsafe or unclean environment," Pam White, DNP, RN, chief nursing officer for Mayo Clinic Health System Northwestern Region, told WQOW. "It's very clean, it's warm, it's an environment that's not ideal and we wouldn't do this every day, but if you needed to be in there to receive the care, I would absolutely go there. It's a comfortable environment and temporary."

Mayo Clinic Health System has clinics, hospitals and other facilities across Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

Square And PayPal Helping Bolster Bitcoin's Boost, New Analysis Claims

Square And PayPal Helping Bolster Bitcoin's Boost, New Analysis Claims Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 19:30

A new analysis out this week suggests that clients of FinTech companies PayPal and Square are responsible for helping drive the recent boost in Bitcoin, as it approaches $20,000. But we're not entirely sold on that analysis, and we'll explain why.

First, a primer. Square clients have made up 40% of the buying of new bitcoin entering the market over the last two years, Hedge Fund Pantera Capital suggested to CNBC  this week. PayPal has also driven demand, as denoted by a spike in volume on Paxos' exchange, which is crypto firm that has partnered with PayPal.

Volumes on Paxos have "more than tripled" since PayPal's service went live, the analysis notes, stating that PayPal clients were buying "roughly 70%" of new Bitcoin supply hitting the market. About 800 to 900 Bitcoin are hitting the market on a daily basis, as the total number of outstanding Bitcoin marches to its terminus at 21 million. 

 

Dan Morehead, founder and chief investment officer of Pantera Capital said: “It’s having a significant increase on price. You bring on two corporates that are already buying all of the newly issued bitcoins — supply and demand says the price has to go up.”

CNBC talking head Brian Kelly says that the spike is about new demand, as FinTech companies make it easier to buy the crypto: “It’s now easier to buy and transact with, and it’s opening up new demand by taking down a barrier to entry.”

But we're not entirely sold on this analysis and we believe that institutions are playing a major role in keeping a bid under the crypto. As we noted over the weekend, large established banks like JP Morgan are starting to experiment with cryptocurrencies as Yahoo Finance reported: 

“Indeed, at the DealBook Summit on Nov. 18, (Jamie) Dimon said, “The blockchain itself will be critical to letting people move money around the world cheaper. We will always support blockchain technology.”

In May, JPMorgan went a step further when it began allowing customer transfers to and from Coinbase and Gemini, two U.S.-based regulated crypto exchange sites. And Dimon on Wednesday acknowledged that some “very smart people” are investing in bitcoin these days.”

This stands in contrast to Dimon's comments in 2017:

“In September 2017, about three months before bitcoin hit an all-time high of nearly $20,000 per unit and crashed shortly thereafter, Dimon dropped a bomb on the crypto world. He called bitcoin a “fraud.”

But, despite the naysyers, JPMorgan admits that Bitcoin continued to rally strongly over the past two weeks, nearing the $19k mark, challenging their previous assessment that bitcoin’s overbought positions by momentum traders such as CTAs could potential trigger profit taking or mean reversion flows over the near term. Other major investment banks have also released bullish scenarios for the crypto, including Citi who leaked a $300,000 possible target

This is shown in the chart below by the open interest of CME bitcoin futures contract, a likely vehicle used by momentum traders such as CTAs, which continued to rise steeply over the past two weeks pointing to position build up rather than position unwinding.

The failure to see mean reversion flows kicking in in recent weeks might reflect the smaller role of momentum traders such as CTAs in bitcoin trading vs. their role in more traditional asset classes, such as gold and other commodities. 

Indeed, the exponential ascent of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust in recent weeks suggests that other institutional investors who look at bitcoin as a long-term investment have been playing perhaps a bigger role in recent weeks than quantitative funds, such as CTAs.

There is also the idea that some investors that previously invested in gold ETFs, such as family offices, may be looking at bitcoin as an alternative to gold.

As JPMorgan previously highlighted, the potential longterm upside for bitcoin is considerable if it competes more intensely with gold as an “alternative” currency, given that the market cap of bitcoin (at $340B) would have to rise 8 times from here to match the total private sector investment in gold via ETFs or bars and coins which stands at $2.6T. 

As JPM recently concluded:

"the potential long-term upside for bitcoin is considerable we think as it competes more intensely with gold as an "alternative" currency given that Millennials would become over time a more important component of investors’ universe."

While it may be easy for CNBC or Pantera to cop out with the same "retail momentum" analysis they used for Bitcoin's first run up to $20,000, as @BullyEsq recently noted, it is different this time...

2017 was marked by unsustainable retail FOMO driven by scammy ICOs.

2020 is being driven by institutions.

 

 

What The COVID Vaccine Hype Fails To Mention

What The COVID Vaccine Hype Fails To Mention Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 19:00

Authored by Gilbert Berdine, MD, via The Mises Institute,

Pfizer recently announced that its covid vaccine was more than 90 percent “effective” at preventing covid-19. Shortly after this announcement, Moderna announced that its covid vaccine was 94.5 percent “effective” at preventing covid-19. Unlike the flu vaccine, which is one shot, both covid vaccines require two shots given three to four weeks apart. Hidden toward the end of both announcements, were the definitions of “effective.”

Both trials have a treatment group that received the vaccine and a control group that did not. All the trial subjects were covid negative prior to the start of the trial. The analysis for both trials was performed when a target number of “cases” were reached. “Cases” were defined by positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. There was no information about the cycle number for the PCR tests. There was no information about whether the “cases” had symptoms or not. There was no information about hospitalizations or deaths. The Pfizer study had 43,538 participants and was analyzed after 164 cases. So, roughly 150 out 21,750 participants (less than 0.7 percent) became PCR positive in the control group and about one-tenth that number in the vaccine group became PCR positive. The Moderna trial had 30,000 participants. There were 95 “cases” in the 15,000 control participants (about 0.6 percent) and 5 “cases” in the 15,000 vaccine participants (about one-twentieth of 0.6 percent). The “efficacy” figures quoted in these announcements are odds ratios.

There is no evidence, yet, that the vaccine prevented any hospitalizations or any deaths. The Moderna announcement claimed that eleven cases in the control group were “severe” disease, but “severe” was not defined. If there were any hospitalizations or deaths in either group, the public has not been told. When the risks of an event are small, odds ratios can be misleading about absolute risk. A more meaningful measure of efficacy would be the number to vaccinate to prevent one hospitalization or one death. Those numbers are not available. An estimate of the number to treat from the Moderna trial to prevent a single “case” would be fifteen thousand vaccinations to prevent ninety “cases” or 167 vaccinations per “case” prevented which does not sound nearly as good as 94.5 percent effective. The publicists working for pharmaceutical companies are very smart people. If there were a reduction in mortality from these vaccines, that information would be in the first paragraph of the announcement.

There is no information about how long any protective benefit from the vaccine would persist. Antibody response following covid-19 appears to be short lived. Based on what we know, the covid vaccine may require two shots every three to six months to be protective. The more shots required, the greater the risk of side effects from sensitization to the vaccine.

There is no information about safety. None. Government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) appear to have two completely different standards for attributing deaths to covid-19 and attributing side effects to covid vaccines. If these vaccines are approved, as they likely will be, the first group to be vaccinated will be the beta testers. I am employed by a university-based medical center that is a referral center for the West Texas region. My colleagues include resident physicians and faculty physicians who work with covid patients on a daily basis. I have asked a number of my colleagues whether they will be first in line for the new vaccine. I have yet to hear any of my colleagues respond affirmatively. The reasons for hesitancy are that the uncertainties about safety exceed what they perceive to be a small benefit. In other words, my colleagues would prefer to take their chances with covid rather than beta test the vaccine. Many of my colleagues want to see the safety data after a year of use before getting vaccinated; these colleagues are concerned about possible autoimmune side effects that may not appear for months after vaccination.

These announcements by Pfizer and Moderna are encouraging. I certainly hope that these vaccines protect people from the harm of covid-19. I certainly hope that these vaccines are safe. If both of these conditions are true, nobody will need to be coerced into taking the vaccine. However, you should pay even more attention about what is left out of an announcement than about what is stated. The pharmaceutical companies are more than happy for patients to misunderstand what is meant by efficacy. Caveat emptor (buyer beware)!

Zimbabwe Loses $1.5 Billion Annually To Gold Smuggling

Zimbabwe Loses $1.5 Billion Annually To Gold Smuggling Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 18:30

A report published Tuesday by the International Crisis Group calculates that cash-strapped Zimbabwe is losing at least $1.5 billion a year through the smuggling of gold, mainly to traders in Dubai. The figure is higher than the government's own estimates of $1.2 billion a year lost through the illicit gold trade, according to Bloomberg.

"Estimates suggest that more than $1.5 billion worth of gold leaves Zimbabwe illegally each year, often ending up in Dubai," said the report by the International Crisis Group. Incidentally, the role of Dubai and the UAE in Zimbabwe's gold smuggling operation has grown explosively in the past two years, with the reported difference between Zimbabwe gold exports and UAE gold imports soaring between 2016 and 2018.

Zimbabwe's illicit gold trade is so extensive, the report stated that "some dealers estimate that illegal exports top official deliveries," to the country's formal refinery.

The landlocked southern African country with chronic financial turmoil and endogenous corruption boasts vast gold reserves, with the sector accounting for 60% of Zimbabwean exports. The gold sector provides jobs to nearly 10% of the country's population, according to the report.

Alas, most of the output ends up in the black market, and just last month the head of Zimbabwe's artisanal and small scale mining federation was arrested with six kilos (13 pounds) of gold worth over $360,000 (305,000 euros) in her hand luggage just before boarding a flight to Dubai.

"Amid the collapsing economy, an estimated 1.5 million people have turned to artisanal mining as a safety net," said the report, adding poverty and the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic will likely drive more people towards the sector.

According to official figures, gold production in the first eight months of 2020 rose 10%, driven especially by output from small-scale miners.

It isn't clear how much of that gold ended up in official trade channels and how much was smuggled out of the country illegally. The reason: local miners are unhappy with a payment system which requires them to sell their gold to the state-owned buyer, Fidelity Printers and Refiners.

They are paid 55% in foreign currency, with the remaining 45% in Zimbabwean dollars, which has been worthless ever since Zimbabwe's infamous hyperinflation at the start of the century.

"Zimbabwe's centralized gold-buying scheme underpays producers, a practice that encourages smuggling and erodes industrial mining profits, leading companies to close mines," said the ICG, adding that the idle industrial mines have become "targets for intrusion by artisanal miners", it said.

Meanwhile, the story of how Dubai has firmly rooted itself as the global gold-smuggling center may be even more fascinating. Regular readers will recall that back in 2015, we told a fascinating story about an unprecedented, multi-year smuggling ring involving Turkey and Iran, which was orchestrated and facilitated by Dubai, and which saw corruption reaching to the very top of the political and financial establishment: from president Erdogan in Turkey, to one of Turkey's richest people, Iran-born Riza Sarraf, to Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, the son of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and one of the world's richest people. The smuggled object in question was gold, billions of dollars worth of gold.

The focus of the story was the previously unknown Dubai gold trading house, Gold.AE, until recently managed by one Mohammed Abu-Alhaj, which as we showed was the primary conduit by which Turkish physical gold found its way "legally" in Dubai, from where it subsequently left for Iran but not before pocketing millions in "commissions."

The role of Dubai as the global gold-smuggling hub was discussed by none other than Reuters all the way back in 2012:

... pay a visit to Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport and find a gate for a flight to Dubai. Couriers carrying millions of dollars worth of gold bullion in their luggage have been flying from Istanbul to Dubai, where the gold is shipped on to Iran, according to industry sources with knowledge of the business.

The sums involved are enormous. Official Turkish trade data suggests nearly $2 billion worth of gold was sent to Dubai on behalf of Iranian buyers in August. The shipments help Tehran manage its finances in the face of Western financial sanctions.

The sanctions, imposed over Iran's disputed nuclear program, have largely frozen it out of the global banking system, making it hard for it to conduct international money transfers. By using physical gold, Iran can continue to move its wealth across borders.

"Every currency in the world has an identity, but gold means value without identity. The value is absolute wherever you go," said a trader in Dubai with knowledge of the gold trade between Turkey and Iran.

The identity of the ultimate destination of the gold in Iran is not known. But the scale of the operation through Dubai and its sudden growth suggest the Iranian government plays a role.

The Dubai trader and other sources familiar with the business spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, because of the political and commercial sensitivity of the matter.

Iran sells oil and gas to Turkey, with payments made to state Iranian institutions. U.S. and European banking sanctions ban payments in U.S. dollars or euros so Iran gets paid in Turkish lira. Lira are of limited value for buying goods on international markets but ideal for a gold buying spree in Turkey.

Fast forward to today, when the same thing is taking place with Zimbabwe (and who knows how many other countries), and we wonder just which "legitimate" Dubai gold trading house is making a killing be facilitating the world's biggest illegal gold smuggling channel - one involving both in Zimbabwe and other corrupt gold producers - and more importantly, just who ends up acquiring all the newly created gold and where is it then stored?

Watch: Edward Snowden Opines On Censorship, Biden, And At-Risk Press Freedoms

Watch: Edward Snowden Opines On Censorship, Biden, And At-Risk Press Freedoms Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 18:00

Interview of Edward Snowden by Glenn Greenwald, via greenwald.substack.com (emphasis ours)

The NSA reporting of 2013, enabled by the heroic whistleblowing of Edward Snowden, was widely perceived at the time time to be about violations of the right to privacy. It was, of course, about that, but the revelations implicated numerous other vital liberties, including free speech, a free press, the need for transparency over state actors and especially the always-lurking security state, and the dangers of allowing governments to make the most consequential decisions in the dark, with no democratic consent or accountability.

But the overarching cause uniting all of those specific concerns was a belief in and defense of internet freedom. In one of the earliest interviews we conducted with Snowden in Hong Kong, he explained that he was driven in large part by the central, vital role which the early version of the internet played in his life: one that was free of corporate and state control, that permitted anonymity and exploration free of monitoring, and, most of all, fostered unrestrained communication and dissemination of information by and among citizens of the world without corporate and state overlords regulating and controlling what they were saying.

It was that Wild West vision of the internet that led so many to herald it at its inception as one of the greatest and most potent innovations in modern history for fostering individual freedom, human liberation, empowerment of ordinary citizens, and the ability of people to organize and communicate without having to depend on corporate giants and the governments they fund and control. In many ways, that vision is a feint memory — submersed in the mass surveillance Snowden exposed but which still persists, the corporatization of the most influential online venues and, increasingly, the control over the flow of speech and information by unseen oligarchical overlords whose decrees require no identifiable rationale and afford no appeal. The power of these unseen discourse-regulators is final, arbitrary and absolute.

It does not have to be this way. A free internet is still worth fighting for and is still salvageable. But it faces growing threats: from corporate media outlets eager to suffocate anything that threatens their discourse-monopoly by ginning up pressure on Silicon Valley to censor various dissidents and independent voices even more so than they are now; from political parties and politicians who wield great influence with tech giants and know they can exploit that influence to silence their critics and adversaries; and the increasing concentration of power over the internet in the hand of a few monopolies whose power and wealth makes it irresistible for power centers to try to harness to suffocate dissent.

On Monday I spoke with Snowden for a special episode of SYSTEM UPDATE, for roughly 40 minutes about the growing dangers of Silicon Valley censorship, why a tech industry that never wanted the power or responsibility to regulate discourse has had that obligation foisted upon them by politicians and journalists, the lurking dangers to press freedoms, and how a Biden/Harris administration may make all of this worse:

5 Big Questions for a Double-Dip Recession

5 Big Questions for a Double-Dip Recession Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 17:55 Max Wiethe and Real Vision managing editor, Ed Harrison, discuss Ed's outlook for a winter double-dip recession in the U.S. and the most important questions for determining the breadth, depth, and market implications of this prediction. How bad will the pandemic get before this wave can be arrested? How severe an economic brake will have to occur to get the virus under control? What short- and long-term impact will this have on businesses? What can policymakers do to mitigate downside risk and prevent worst-case outcomes? How will all of this feed through into asset markets? In the intro, Real Vision's Haley Draznin, examines the juxtaposition between the markets hitting record highs and the broader economy as initial jobless claims rise for a second week in a row.

A Tale Of Two Markets: Visualizing The Huge Impact Of The Covid Vaccine Across Assets

A Tale Of Two Markets: Visualizing The Huge Impact Of The Covid Vaccine Across Assets Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 17:41

The story of the market since the March lows has been one of two parts, the first of massive FAAMG/tech/growth/momentum outperformance, and a second one in which value and cyclicals burst higher during a 15-sigma one day rotation out of momentum names that left countless quant funds near ruin; the only question is what date is the correct inflection point.

According to one strategist, Deutsche Bank's FX strategist Alan Riskin, that day is August 11, "when news of a Russian vaccine retrained the mind on how markets might respond to further positive vaccine developments." The chart below shows asset returns from March until August 11, and is a representation of market price action dominated by risk negative virus news, versus a period when the virus story shifted progressively to ideas of an eventual vaccine helping risky assets.

Another suggestion comes from credit strategist Jim Reid who has done a similar chart but instead of August 11, he has picked the Nov 9 date as the critical inflection point in asset returns. As such the y-axis only looks at returns from just before the  Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine news just 16 days ago with the x-axis from March 20th to November 6th.

Remarkably, and in keeping with the great rotation theme that has been discussed here extensively in the past two weeks, the US NYFANG index is only marginally down since the Pfizer news even though it went up +116% in the 8 months previously in response to the pandemic. At the same time, such formerly beaten down sectors as energy and bank stocks have led the charge post vaccine news. Additionally, as Bloomberg Ye Xie writes, while the S&P has gained just 3% since Nov. 6, the Russell 2000 index climbed 12%. Even more stunning is the S&P’s energy sector’s 35% rally since then.

Meanwhile, the surprising winner across both interviews, is Bitcoin which "is a force of nature and is up an incredible +160% since March and +22% post vaccine." Finally, Gold (-7.4%) and Silver (-9.1%) have languished over the last 16 days having been strong in the prior period.

Looking ahead, Reid writes that one of the key themes of 2021 could be that the S&P 500 might for once not be the global barometer of risk appetite, and adds that "it’s not impossible that we could have a good year for risk but with the S&P 500 down due to its heavy tech mega-cap weightings." Notably, Deutsche Bank's equity strategist Binky Chadha is the only strategist on Wall Street who forecasts a lower year-end price target for 2021, expecting the S&P500 to close next year at 3450, down around -5% from current levels, precisely because the rotation out of the current tech market leaders will be far more disruptive than what all of his far more optimistic Wall Street peers expect.

UPS Expands Dry Ice Production Ahead Of Vaccine Distribution

UPS Expands Dry Ice Production Ahead Of Vaccine Distribution Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 17:30

Global shipping giant UPS announced Tuesday it would begin producing thousands of pounds of dry ice per day and provide cold storage facilities along with transportation for COVID-19 vaccines. 

In a corporate update, the Atlanta-based parcel delivery company said it would produce 1,200 pounds of dry ice per hour in its US facilities and be able to ship it the next day to hospitals across North America.  

UPS is preparing for a significant surge in demand for dry ice and shipping services as the federal government's Operation Warp Speed could distribute upwards of 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the first week after cleared for emergency use. The timing of the demand surge could be as early as Dec. 10. 

Long-term storage requirements for the vaccine are -70 degrees Celsius, equivalent to -94 degrees Fahrenheit, and the company has developed special storage containers with dry ice to keep vaccines cold for up to two weeks. 

"Enhancing our dry ice production capabilities increases our supply chain agility and reliability immensely when it comes to handling complex vaccines for our customers," said Wes Wheeler, president of UPS Healthcare. 

Wheeler continued: "Healthcare facilities in Louisville, Dallas, and Ontario will ensure we can produce dry ice to sufficiently pack and replenish shipments as needed to keep products viable and effective."

Also, UPS announced a partnership with freezer company Stirling Ultracold to distribute freezers to doctors' offices, pharmacies, and urgent care facilities. 

While "vaccine optimism" for weeks boosted the Dow Jones Industrial Average to new record highs, crossed the 30,000 mark on Tuesday - the COVID-19 vaccine will not immediately return things to normal. 

See for yourself, while CNBC cheered as stocks hit new highs on Tuesday - food bank lines across America are quickly reappearing as millions of working poor folks face food and housing insecurity this holiday season. 

 

For What Are America's Wealthy Thankful? A Worsening Culture War: Taibbi

For What Are America's Wealthy Thankful? A Worsening Culture War: Taibbi Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 17:00

Authored by Matt Taibbi via taibbi.substack.com

Self-described “elected DNC member” and Washington Monthly contributor David Atkins tweeted this last week, garnering a huge response:

You have to read the full thread to grasp the argument, a greatest hits collection of DNC talking points. Conservatives, Atkins writes, have no beliefs, being a “belligerent death cult against reality and basic decency.” There’s no reason to listen to them, since the “only actual policy debates” are “happening within the dem coalition between left and center-left.” He had over 61,000 likes last I checked.

Meanwhile, as Donald Trump kept describing the election as a “hoax,” newly re-upped South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted this, perhaps offering a preview into Republican messaging in the post-Trump era:

From the “vast right-wing conspiracy” through the “basket of deplorables” to now, the Democratic message increasingly focuses on the illegitimacy of the ordinary conservative voter’s opinion: ignorant, conspiratorial, and racist, so terrible that the only hope is mass-reprogramming by educated betters.

On the other hand, Republicans from Goldwater to Trump have warned that coalitions of “marauders” from the inner cities and “bad hombres” from across the border are plotting to use socialist politics to seize the hard-earned treasure of the small-town voter, with the aid of elitist traitors in the Democratic Party.

Spool these ideas endlessly and you get culture war. Any thought that it might abate once Trump left the scene looks naive now. The pre-election warnings from the right about roving bands of Pelosi-coddled Antifa troops looking to “attack your homes” haven’t subsided, while the line that Trump voters are not a political group but a stupidity death-cult is no longer hot take, but a mandatory element of mainstream press analyses.

Continue reading here.

"Pandemic Of Crime" - LA Homicides Hit Decade Highs

"Pandemic Of Crime" - LA Homicides Hit Decade Highs Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 16:30

This past weekend, a surge in violent crime resulted in Los Angeles' 300th homicide for 2020, a bloody benchmark not seen since the dark days of the 2009 financial crisis, reported LA Times

Killings have risen 25% over last year, and shootings climbed by more than 32%, reflecting a similar trend across many other US metro areas (read: here & here) as defunding the police and socio-economic implosions and the virus-pandemic have left urban areas in chaos

LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore said, "with the health pandemic, we don't just cross our arms and say, 'It is what it is.' We're taking all types of efforts to flatten the curve, to lower the impact, to save lives. And that's what I'm asking for us to do with this violent crime. We have a pandemic of crime right now."

LA Murder Map 

Multiple crises are impacting Los Angeles come as the $3 billion police budget was slashed this year by $150 million following widespread social-unrest across the country against police brutality and misconduct. 

"These cuts couldn't come at a worse time," Moore said. "My ability to put added resources [in the community] right now is hampered."

The last time the city passed the bloody benchmark was in 2009, during a brutal downturn in the economy. Recessions have commonly been associated with the rise of violent crime. 

Compound a whole host of issues, from the virus pandemic to socio-economic implosions to defunding the police, well, the latest rash of violent crime in the metro area could continue well into 2021. This would force an even larger exodus of city dwellers to the countryside. 

Second Amendment Under Threat After New Third Circuit Decision

Second Amendment Under Threat After New Third Circuit Decision Tyler Durden Wed, 11/25/2020 - 15:55

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

The Third Circuit has issued an opinion that has received little attention over the right to bear arms, but it should. The decision in Folajtar v. The Attorney General of the United States may be one of the most perfectly tailored case for major Supreme Court decision. Indeed, the only thing lacking from the 2-1 decision is a mailing label directly to Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

In ruling that a non-violent tax conviction can result in the denial of gun ownership, the panel presents a clean case to further define the contours of the individual rights recognized in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).

The Third Circuit case concerns Lisa Folajtar who was denied the right to own a firearm. The reason was her pleading guilty in 2011 to willfully making a materially false statement on her tax returns. The plea led to a sentence of three-years’ probation, including three months of home confinement, a $10,000 fine, and a $100 assessment. She also paid the IRS over $250,000 in back taxes, penalties, and interest.

The case falls into the still grey area around the individual right articulated in 2008. The Supreme Court  recognized that this is not an “unlimited” right under the Constitution while affirming the right of “law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.” Id. at 635. Moreover, the Court ruled two years later that Heller “did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as ‘prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons.’” McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742, 786 (2010) (quoting Heller, 554 U.S. at 626–27).

The question is whether this means any and all felons, even those never accused of violent acts.  The law at issue is 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Originally, in 1938, the Congress prohibited only gun ownership to those who were convicted of “crimes of violence.” See Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, Pub. L. No. 90-351, tit. IV, § 925, 82 Stat. 197, 233–34; id. at tit. VII § 1202, 82 Stat. at 236 (codified at 28 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)). That limited the denial of gun ownership to those convicted of murder, manslaughter, rape, mayhem, kidnapping, burglary, housebreaking and various types of aggravated assault. See Federal Firearms Act, ch. 850, § 1(6), 52 Stat. 1250, 1250 (1938).

That changed in the 1960s when Congress expanded the bar on gun ownership. That however was long before the Heller decision recognized gun ownership as an individual constitutional right.

Judge Thomas Ambro wrote the majority opinion with the support of Judge Cheryl Ann Krause.  Judge Stephanos Bibas dissented. Ambro was appointed by President Bill Clinton and Krause by President Barack Obama.  Bibas was appointed by President Donald Trump.

The majority viewed this determination as appropriately within the discretion of Congress and notes that other core rights can be lost by a felony conviction:

“Indeed, we defer to the legislature’s determination that individuals convicted of felonies may forfeit other fundamental rights, such as the right to vote and to sit on a jury, the former being the essence of our democracy. See 28 U.S.C. § 1865(b)(5); Richardson, 418 U.S. at 56; see also Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555 (1964) (“The right to vote . . . is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government.”). As felons are rarely protected by the Second Amendment, Congress is also normally entitled to require disarmament as a result of a felony conviction without engaging in an evaluation of each felon’s rehabilitation and likelihood to engage in further criminal activity of any kind. See Medina, 913 F.3d at 160–61. Accordingly, Congress has the flexibility to decide which crimes are captured by § 922.”

Judge Bibas however rejected the “near categorial” rule as a misapplication of prior rulings like Heller. He also faulted the sweeping analysis that brushed over the fact that this is a nonviolent offense and that there is no evidence of dangerousness.

“The majority’s extreme deference gives legislatures unreviewable power to manipulate the Second Amendment by choosing a label. “Unvirtuousness” based on the felony label is a mushy standard that sets no limit. We must not reflexively defer to that label when a fundamental right is at stake, but rather require narrow tailoring to public safety. Felons are more than the wrongs they have done. They are people and citizens who are part of “We the People of the United States.” U.S. Const. pmbl. So they too share in the Second Amendment “right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” subject only to the historical limits on that right. Although Lisa Folajtar was convicted of tax fraud nine years ago, she is not dangerous. Neither the majority nor the Government suggests otherwise. Because she poses no danger to anyone, I respectfully dissent.”

So what now? It is hard to ignore the analogy to one of now Justice Barrett’s prior decisions as an appellate judge in Kanter v. Barr. Rickey Kanter was convicted of one count of felony mail fraud for defrauding Medicare in connection with therapeutic shoe inserts. The Seventh Circuit panel split 2-1 with Barrett in dissent. Focusing on the “history and tradition” of such restrictions, Barrett also took on the voting rights and jury service point with a key distinction:

“The problem with this argument is that virtue exclusions are associated with civic rights—individual rights that “require[ ] citizens to act in a collective manner for distinctly public purposes.” See Saul Cornell, A New Paradigm for the Second Amendment , 22 LAW & HIST. REV. 161, 165 (2004). For example, the right to vote is held by individuals, but they do not exercise it solely for their own sake; rather, they cast votes as part of the collective enterprise of self-governance. Similarly, individuals do not serve on juries for their own sake, but as part of the collective enterprise of administering justice…

Heller , however, expressly rejects the argument that the Second Amendment protects a purely civic right. Moore v. Madigan , 702 F.3d 933, 935 (7th Cir. 2012). It squarely holds that “the Second Amendment confer[s] an individual right to keep and bear arms,” Heller , 554 U.S. at 595, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (emphasis added), and it emphasizes that the Second Amendment is rooted in the individual’s right to defend himself—not in his right to serve in a well-regulated militia, id. at 582–86, 128 S.Ct. 2783.”

That is why the Third Circuit case could be so important. It is Kanter revisited but Barrett is now a justice, not just a judge.  Her view is also shared by new colleagues like Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his own dissent as a judge on the D.C. Circuit when a panel upheld the ban on semi-automatic rifles and the possession of magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition (as well as certain registration requirements).

If Barrett and Kavanaugh can get two other justices to accept certiorari, this could be a decision that approaches Heller itself in constitutional importance.

Assuming that you accept that this is an individual right, I have serious reservations with the sweeping analysis of the Third Circuit.  The panel imposed little burden on Congress to extinguish an individual right other than its own categorical declaration. While no right is absolute, most of us would be outraged if such a low burden was imposed on other individual rights under Constitution.  There is a good-faith debate over whether this is an individual right, but the question raised by this case is whether, as an individual right, it can so easily be set aside — particularly under a law that preceded the Heller decision.  Two justices are likely clearing their desks in anticipation of the arrival of this case from the Third Circuit.

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