Zero Hedge

Time On Market For Typical US Home Drops To Just 6 Days: Report

Time On Market For Typical US Home Drops To Just 6 Days: Report

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A new report from real estate listing firm Zillow shows that, while the for-sale housing inventory ticked up slightly in May after falling for nine months straight, the typical time of a home on the market fell to just six days and prices hit record highs.

May brought a long-awaited bump in inventory nationwide, though it did little to immediately cool record-high home value appreciation,” according to the May 2021 Zillow Market Report.

A "for sale" sign sits in the front yard of a townhouse in Washington on Jun. 23, 2015. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Housing stock rose 3.9 percent in May from April, the first such rise since July 2020, although inventory nationwide remains down 31.2 percent from a year ago, the report says.

“While the seasonal boost in inventory is a welcome sign that the ongoing inventory crunch may finally be starting to ease, it will take a while for the gains to immediately make an impact on a red-hot housing market in which demand for homes far exceeds the available supply,” according to Zillow data analyst Treh Manhertz.

In May, the typical home appreciated in value by 13.2 percent over the year and 1.7 percent over the month, which are both record highs in Zillow data that goes back 25 years. The price of the median home rose to $287,148.

Rent has also surged, with the typical rent rising 2.3 percent from April to May, hitting $1,747 per month, the biggest monthly bump since 2015, according to the report.

The supply crunch and strong demand have also driven the amount of time a typical home spends on the market before being snapped up to a record low of six days in May, one day less than in April. In some markets, like in metro Ohio and Missouri, the typical time on market was just three days.

Zillow economists expect the red-hot housing market to not “to let up anytime soon,” predicting home values to rise by 17.9 percent through the end of the year.

Still, in a possible sign of relief to prospective homebuyers, lumber prices have continued to decline after soaring by around 300 percent over the year in May, when they hit record highs and added around $36,000 to the cost of an average new single-family home.

Both spot lumber prices and futures contracts have seen a sharp drop since May’s peak of nearly $1,700 per thousand board feet, the unit of measurement for lumber in the United States.

CME’s Random Length Lumber Continuous Contract (LBOO) front-month futures lumber prices traded to a close of $900.80 on June 18. That’s down 38 percent over the month, though still up nearly 113 percent over the year.

The surge in lumber prices in 2021 has hit homebuilders and buyers hard, driving up the cost of an average single-family home by nearly $36,000, according to the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB).

The rising material prices and supply chain issues have driven builder confidence down to its lowest level since August 2020, according to the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released on June 15.

“Higher costs and declining availability for softwood lumber and other building materials pushed down builder sentiment in June,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke. “These higher costs have moved some new homes beyond the budget of prospective buyers, which has slowed the strong pace of home building. Policymakers need to focus on supply-chain issues in order to allow the economic recovery to continue.”

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 08:47

Lordstown President Sold Stock Ahead Of "Disastrous" Earnings Report To "Expand His Turkey Hunting Farm"

Lordstown President Sold Stock Ahead Of "Disastrous" Earnings Report To "Expand His Turkey Hunting Farm"

Nothing says "we have a revolutionary technology coming that'll change the world" more than selling your stock in your embattled pre-revenue company to expand your turkey hunting farm.

That's exactly what the President of Lordstown Motors apparently did in mid-February, just weeks before a "disastrous March earnings report" crushed the company's stock, according to Yahoo Finance

He was part of several top executives who sold off "chunks of stock" ahead of reporting the results, the Wall Street Journal first reported. "Securities lawyers and accountants say such trades raise questions about the company’s internal controls," the report says. 

Five executives in total, also including the company's former CFO, sold more than $8 million in stock over three days in February. Chuan “John” Vo, who oversees the company's propulsion division, sold 99.3% of his vested equity. He reaped proceeds of $2.5 million while keeping just 717 shares of stock. President Rich Schmidt sold 39% of his vested equity over two days in February for $4.6 million, the Journal notes. He used some of those proceeds to expand "a turkey-hunting farm in Tennessee", a company spokesman said.

Former Lordstown CEO Steve Burns

The Journal noted:

"In the case of Mr. Schmidt, Lordstown Motors’ president, his stock sale helped finance another venture. Three weeks after the February sales, Mr. Schmidt incorporated another business, Rainbow Rock Farm LLC.

Mr. Schmidt and his wife also made a $519,000 land purchase at the time, property records show. A website for Rainbow Rock Farm shows it offers turkey hunting, Black Angus beef, hay rides and blueberry picking on 363 acres of land in Tennessee. The Lordstown Motors spokesman said Mr. Schmidt’s wife runs the farm. She couldn’t be reached for comment."

Three other executives also made sales totaling between $250,000 and $400,000. 

Max Magee, an analyst at InsiderScore, told the WSJ: “We wouldn’t expect insiders to typically sell at that time in the quarter.”

Daniel Taylor, an accounting professor who runs the Forensic Analytics Lab at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, added: “At best, it suggests the company has weak internal control over the trading of their officers.”

It has not been a good look for Lordstown Motors lately. Recall, just days ago we pointed out when the company again lied about having binding orders for its trucks. 

After the company's CEO Steve Burns resigned last week in the face of a special investigation which found the company made "inaccurate" disclosures about its pre-orders, it just took literally one day for the company to lie again about its orders. On Tuesday of last week, when a headline broke that Lordstown had "binding" orders, we asked whether everyone at the company lies.

Apparently, that answer was yes. Because on Thursday morning, Lordstown was forced to correct itself in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tucked into a Form 8-K that looked as though it was just to accompany the announcement of the hiring of a new VP of Global Commercial Operations, the company admitted statements its President made earlier in the week (and that boosted the stock) were inaccurate:

To clarify recent remarks by company executives at the Automotive Press Association online media event on June 15, although these vehicle purchase agreements provide us with a significant indicator of demand for the Endurance, these agreements do not represent binding purchase orders or other firm purchase commitments. As previously disclosed in our Form 10-K/A for the year ended December 31, 2020, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 8, 2021, to date, we have engaged in limited marketing activities and we have no binding purchase orders or commitments from customers.

Recall, just one day prior to the comments, Lordstown's CEO Steve Burns had resigned, along with the company's CFO, following the results of an internal investigation catalyzed by allegations by short seller Hindenburg Research back in May.

As one social media user succinctly put it:

In a PR called "Lordstown Motors Announces Leadership Transition" our last week, the company said the executive shuffle was due to a "transition from the R&D and early production phase to the commercial production phase of its business." But in a separate PR called "Lordstown Motors Reports Results Of Special Committee Investigation Of Hindenburg Research Report", the company released the findings of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP,  who was tasked with looking in Hindenburg's allegations.

"The Special Committee’s investigation concluded that the Hindenburg Report is, in significant respects, false and misleading," the PR reads, before admitting: "The investigation did, however, identify issues regarding the accuracy of certain statements regarding the Company’s pre-orders," the PR reads. 

"Lordstown Motors made periodic disclosures regarding pre-orders which were, in certain respects, inaccurate," the PR reads.

First, the company admitted that some of its pre-orders were to "influencers".

"Lordstown Motors has stated on several occasions that its pre-orders were from, or “primarily” from commercial fleets. In fact, many pre-orders were obtained from (i) fleet management companies or other end users that indicated interest in purchasing Endurance trucks, similar to commercial fleets, and (ii) so-called “influencers” or other potential strategic partners that committed to attempt to secure pre-orders from other entities, but did not intend to purchase Endurance trucks directly.

And also stated that "One entity that provided a large number of pre-orders does not appear to have the resources to complete large purchases of trucks. Other entities provided commitments that appear too vague or infirm to be appropriately included in the total number of pre-orders disclosed."

Recall, Lordstown was the target of short seller Hindenburg Research back in May of this year, who released a report called "The Lordstown Motors Mirage: Fake Orders, Undisclosed Production Hurdles, And A Prototype Inferno".

Hindenburg also released a video called "The Lordstown Motors Mirage" with their report:

 

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 08:10

Futures Steady Ahead Of Powell Testimony

Futures Steady Ahead Of Powell Testimony

U.S. stock-index futures were little changed, trading just 1% below their all time high, while global shares extended their recovery on Tuesday from four week lows, as investors focused on prospects for post-pandemic economic growth, putting fears of a hawkish Fed in the rearview mirror even as they awaited Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony before Congress. Nasdaq 100 futures extend increase to as much as 0.3%, the highest for Tuesday’s session, with contracts on the S&P 500 rising 0.1% as of 7:15am in New York.

In premarket trading, meme stock Torchlight Energy Resources jumped 10.5% on heavy volume following a 58% surge to a record on Monday, as the company upsized its stock offering after its shares doubled in value last week on interest from individual traders. Other meme stocks trade mostly higher with ContextLogic (WISH) rising 3.3% and Clover Health (CLOV) gaining 1.9%.

Here are some other notable premarket movers:

  • Adial Pharmaceuticals (ADIL) surges 28% in premarket trading after a positive mention of the company in a post on the Seeking Alpha investment site.
  • Microvision (MVIS) sinks 9% after saying it may offer from time to time up to $140 million in shares via Craig-Hallum Capital Group.
  • Nikola (NKLA) drops 2% after registering shares for potential sale by holder Tumim Stone Capital.
  • Crypto stocks including miners Riot Blockchain, Marathon Patent Group, Ebang International and MicroStrategy Inc fell between 2% and 3% as China’s crackdown on bitcoin mining expanded to the province of Sichuan.

The Dow jumped more than 500 points on Monday following last week’s selloff, its best day since early March, with the largest share of S&P members advancing since April 2020.

Market participants piled back into energy, financials and industrial stocks when Fed officials including as St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan toned down their hawkish rhetoric which accelerated last week's rout.

"Last week's FOMC meeting was a hawkish surprise, but does not change our market outlook. The reflation trade experienced a sharp technically driven pullback, but we expect the trade to resume and see this move as an opportunity to add exposure to cyclical equities and commodities," JPMorgan strategists said in a note.

European stocks looked set to build on gains in Asian markets as EuroSTOXX 50 futures rose 0.4% and FTSE futures were up 0.3%. Declines in shares of carmakers and banks offset gains in real estate stocks. Europe’s Stoxx 600 travel and leisure subgroup rose as much as 0.8%, making it the second-best performing sector in the benchmark index, after The Times reported that the U.K. is set to announce an overhaul of travel restrictions on Thursday. Here are some of the biggest European movers today:

  • Kingspan shares rise as much as 6.1% with Morgan Stanley (equal- weight) saying the key positive from its trading update is the strong margin performance.
  • BT shares gain as much as 2.1%, among top performers in the Stoxx Telecom Index, following a report that Rupert Murdoch’s News UK is looking at a tie-up with BT Sport.
  • Bossard shares gain as much as 5% to a record high. The company’s business model is “misunderstood” by the market and it is a niche play on the growth of industrial automation, Berenberg writes in a note initiating the stock at buy with a street-high CHF340 PT.
  • Casino shares rise as much as 2% after a report saying that retail mogul Micheal Klein started to build a minority position in the Brazilian firm GPA, following a similar move by retailing billionaire Abilio Diniz.
  • DS Smith shares fall as much as 3.1% after reporting adjusted operating profit that missed the average analyst estimate.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4%, moving above Monday's four-week lows and notching a 4% gain so far this year, while the broader MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.9%, putting it on track for its best day since May 25. Japanese shares led the advance in Asia, as investor concerns over the pace of U.S. monetary policy tightening and rising inflation eased. It is now poised to snap four straight days of declines. The buoyant performance comes after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated overnight that inflation had picked up but should move back toward the U.S. central bank’s 2% target once supply imbalances resolve. The New York Fed’s president also said that he continues to view the recent spike in inflation as a temporary phenomenon. Cyclical shares recovered from the recent sell-off, with industrials and materials leading the charge. Japanese equities rebounded, with the Topix climbing by the most in one year one day after the BOJ intervened to buy ETFs for the first time since April. Investors largely expect Asia’s stock market to remain resilient despite the prospects of a gradual tapering of global liquidity and a resurgent dollar. Supporting the region’s equities are attractive valuations, falling Covid-19 cases and relatively low levels of bond yields. The stock benchmark remains more than 6% below a record high it reached in February. “We expect Asia to broadly remain on a healthy recovery path” supported by a broad-based growth in exports and industrial output, Alex Wolf, head of investment strategy for Asia at JPMorgan Private Bank, wrote in a note. “We think three factors will be key to watch over the rest of 2021: vaccination progress, exports -- particularly semiconductors, and China’s recovery.”

Today, all eyes will be on Fed Chair Powell, who’s testifying at 2pm ET before the House of Representatives’ Select Subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, where he’s set to talk about the Federal Reserve’s response to the pandemic. In prepared remarks distributed late last night, Powell remains optimistic on the recovery, saying “job gains should pick up in coming months as vaccinations rise, easing some of the pandemic-related factors currently weighing them down.” He also said inflation has “increased notably in recent months” but regarded the recent jump as likely to fade.  Chair Powell acknowledged that “inflation has increased notably in recent months… As these transitory supply effects abate, inflation is expected to drop back toward our longer-run goal.” The transitory nature of inflation is sure to be a key point of questions from some Representatives today.

“Powell will repeat that inflation is transitory and will drop back ‘as these transitory supply effects abate’,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank. “How much time do we have before the supply effects abate is a big question.”

“There’s probably going to be some back and forth here,” said Tracie McMillion, Wells Fargo Investment Institute head of global asset allocation strategy. “There is a lot of cash on the sidelines right now. Some of that is going to be earmarked to go into the markets, and we think the best place right now to be investing is in the equity markets.”

In rates, 10-year Treasuries steadied, trading at 1.49% last. Yields were richer across the curve, with 5s30s flatter by ~1bp; 10-year around 1.48% outperforms bunds and gilts slightly Regional demand emerged during Asia session, renewing the bull-flattening trend that stalled on Monday. Treasury auctions include $60b 2-year note, followed by 5- and 7-year on Wednesday and Thursday. The WI 2-year yield at ~0.257% is higher than auction stops since March 2020 and 10.5bp cheaper than last month’s, which stopped through by 0.7bp

In currency markets, the dollar spot Index rose as the greenback traded higher versus all of its Group-of-10 peers and the 10-year Treasury yield hovered around 1.49% The pound fell for a fifth day in six sessions on broad dollar strength and as investors awaited signals on the Bank of England’s inflation outlook on Thursday. Norway’s krone fell to a session low as Brent oil retreated after earlier rising to $75 a barrel for the first time in more than two years. Australia’s currency led losses with iron ore extending Monday’s slump. The yen fell to trade around 110.50; bonds also declined and a five-year auction was weaker than expected.

"The whole world was mega short the U.S. dollar, and that's in good part has probably been cleaned out already, and now we take a wee breath before the next move up," said Westpac currency analyst Imre Speizer.

In commodities, WTI was flat at $73.7 per barrel and Brent crude retreated after earlier topping $75/bbl for the first time in more than two years after rising on Monday in reaction the a pause in talks to end U.S. sanctions on Iranian crude. Oil market sentiment was helped by hopes for a quick recovery in oil demand in the United States and Europe. OPEC+ said it was discussing whether to further boost production as the oil market looks increasingly tight. Spot gold added 0.3% to $1,787.61 an ounce.

Bitcoin sank closer to $30,000 after China intensified its cryptocurrency clampdown.

Looking at the day ahead now, the main highlight will be the aforementioned testimony from Fed Chair Powell to Congress. Otherwise, we’ll also hear from the Fed’s Mester and Daly, as well as the ECB’s Rehn, Lane and Schnabel. Data releases from the US include May’s existing home sales and the Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index for June, while in the Euro Area there’s the advance consumer confidence reading for June.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.1% to 4,207.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 down -0.3% to 453.94
  • MXAP up 0.9% to 206.17
  • MXAPJ little changed at 687.97
  • Nikkei up 3.1% to 28,884.13
  • Topix up 3.2% to 1,959.53
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.6% to 28,309.76
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.8% to 3,557.41
  • Sensex up 0.3% to 52,715.63
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.5% to 7,342.20
  • Kospi up 0.7% to 3,263.88
  • Brent Futures down 0.4% to $74.63/bbl
  • German 10Y yield rose 2.2 bps to -0.149%
  • Euro down 0.2% to $1.1899
  • Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,777.25
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.14% to 92.03

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Leveraged funds boosted net dollar shorts by 21,347 contracts in the week ended June 15, the most since mid-January, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  • Germany increased the amount of planned bond sales in the third quarter by 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) to help cover financing for the ruling coalition’s generous aid programs to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic
  • China’s intensifying cryptocurrency crackdown has left Bitcoin flirting with $30,000, a price level seen as key to the short-term outlook for the largest virtual currency
  • Russia is considering proposing an OPEC+ oil-output increase at the group’s meeting next week because the nation sees a supply deficit in the market, according to officials familiar with the matter
  • Mario Draghi has cemented his position in Italy and his political partners are beginning to assume he’ll remain in power until his term ends in 2023. That is the assessment of half a dozen senior officials from all the main parties and inside the government
  • Hungary is set to become the first European Union nation to tighten monetary policy this year, with the central bank widely expected to raise borrowing costs on Tuesday in an attempt to curb surging inflation
  • A raft of disappointing economic data from China last week, especially the sluggish recovery in consumption, has prompted economists to cut their estimates for China’s output in 2021.

Quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac equities staged a rebound from the prior day's sell-off as the region reacted to the rally seen on Wall Street, whereby the DJIA outperformed whilst the Nasdaq’s upside was hindered by the recovery in yields. Overnight, US equity futures traded flat and near the prior session’s best levels ahead of Fed Chair Powell’s testimony – but before that, 2022-voter Mester is poised to make remarks on monetary policy ahead of commentary from 2021-voter Daly. Over in APAC markets, the ASX 200 (+1.5%) was supported by its Telecoms and Financials sectors whilst the Nikkei 225 (+3.1%) trimmed some of the prior session’s hefty losses as reports of BoJ ETF purchases providing Tokyo with some tailwinds. The KOSPI (+0.7%) saw cautious gains as Yonhap reported that South Korea and the US are mulling ending the working group on North Korean policy, whilst North Korea tempered down expectations of dialogue with the US. Hang Seng (-0.6%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.8%) varied with the former pressured after the US reiterated its concern over Hong Kong’s autonomy, whilst the latter remained within recent ranges. As a side note, crypto markets also saw a rebound following yesterday's bloodbath, albeit Bitcoin and Ethereum remained under 35k and 2k respectively. Finally, JGBs trade narrowly softer in tandem with UST and Bund futures waning off best levels.

Top Asian News

  • Jimmy Lai’s 26-Year-Old Tabloid All But Dead After Defying China; Carrie Lam Defends Apple Daily Arrests, Warns Media Outlets
  • GIC Said to Near Deal to Buy Stake in Malaysia’s Sunway Hospital
  • China Tourism May File for Hong Kong Listing This Week: IFR
  • Korea Curve Steepens, China Repo Rises, Rupiah Bonds Halt Drop

Ahead of the cash open, European index futures indicated a marginally firmer star to the session. However, as cash markets opened, sentiment dwindled and stocks were pushed into the red (Eurostoxx 50 -0.3%) with no real obvious catalyst behind the move. US index futures ebbed lower at the same time with some minor initial underperformance in the tech-heavy e-mini Nasdaq, albeit moves have been confined to recent ranges as markets await further impetus ahead of a particularly busy week of Fed speak. Since then, we have seen a modest pick-up in the futures taking them nearer to the unchanged mark on the session, but still retaining a negative bias overall. On which, Fed Chair Powell is due to testify to Congress today at 1900BST/1400ET. Pre-released text was a reiteration of recent remarks, however, the Q&A segment could offer some opportunity for the Chair to be pushed on the FOMC’s exit strategy and recent hawkish speakers e.g. Bullard; other Fed speakers today include 2022-voter Mester and 2021-voter Daly. In Europe, sectors are somewhat mixed with Oil & Gas top of the pile amid the recent advances in the crude complex even in-light of today’s pressure on a potential ramping up of OPEC+ production (see commodities), whilst Tech and Health care lag peers with the former hampered by the mini-revival seen in yields since the start of the week which saw the US 10yr initially slip below 1.4%. Kepler Cheuvreux downgraded the European banking sector to neutral from overweight with analysts at the firm concerned that the reflation trade is not a foregone conclusion in a context where the steepening of the USD yield curve appears to have exhausted itself. In terms of stock specifics, BT (+0.6%) are slightly firmer on the session amid reports that Rupert Murdoch's News UK is reportedly looking into a tie-up with BT Sport. Finally, Travel & Leisure names including Ryanair (+1.1%) and IAG (+1.0%) have been provided some support amid suggestions that UK ministers are to relax travel restrictions from August for those who have been fully vaccinated.

Top European News

  • U.K. Begins Negotiations to Join Trans-Pacific Trading Bloc
  • Germany Boosts Third-Quarter Bond Issuance by 2 Billion Euros
  • Aston Martin Sues Dealer Over Deposits for $3.5 Million Valkyrie
  • Tech Stocks Tumble as Prosus Falls, Pandemic Winners Decline

In FX, there was some calm after Monday’s relatively lively session amidst pronounced risk-off APAC trade before a steady recovery in sentiment that prompted a retreat in safe-havens on little fresh news or data. Nevertheless, the DXY formed a base below 92.000 and is currently consolidating around its new pivot within a 91.890-92.139 range inside yesterday’s 91.826-92.375 range awaiting further direction that could come from today’s trio of Fed speakers or macro releases in the form of existing home sales and Richmond Fed composite readings. Note, however, the text of chair Powell’s testimony to Congress has already been published so anything new will likely come from the Q&A section.

  • AUD/GBP - It may be too early to label the day a turnaround Tuesday for the Aussie and Pound, but both have unwound a chunk of their gains vs the Buck after benefiting from its frailty yesterday, and Aud/Usd is also bearing the brunt of another slump in iron ore prices as it struggles to stay within touching distance of the 0.7500 handle. Note also, prelim payrolls and earnings data came in weaker than prior prints overnight ahead of flash PMIs tonight. Meanwhile, Sterling has relinquished 1.3900+ status, and perhaps partly due to a loss of technical momentum given that Cable topped out just pips shy of the 100 DMA (1.3941 vs 1.3937 high), while the Eur/Gbp cross held around 0.8550 before bouncing.
  • CAD/CHF/NZD/EUR/JPY - A pull-back in WTI towards Usd 73/brl in wake of reports that Russia may push for higher OPEC+ crude output at next week’s summit, has undermined the Loonie ahead of Canadian retail sales on Wednesday, with Usd/Cad back up in the high 1.2300 area, while the Franc is beneath 0.9200 following fairly upbeat economic forecasts from Switzerland’s KOF. Elsewhere, the Kiwi is holding between 0.6995-63 parameters following a marked pick-up in NZ credit card spending and as Aud/Nzd eyes 1.0750 to the downside having been capped circa 1.0800, the Euro is straddling 1.1900 and Yen has retreated through 110.50 against the backdrop of higher US Treasury yields and curve re-steepening.

In commodities, WTI and Brent have seen downside, -0.5% and -0.4% respectively, after what was a relatively uneventful APAC session for the benchmarks. The pressure came just after the European cash equity open, which was softer than futures had implied, amid reports that Russia is considering proposing an increase in OPEC+ oil production at the July 1st gathering, according to officials. As Russia expects the global supply shortfall to persist over the medium-term horizon; note, Russian VP Novak is set to meet with various domestic oil companies today. This report sparked pressure in the benchmarks sending WTI and Brent August’21 futures below USD 73.00/bbl and USD 75.00/bbl respectively – a smaller bout of further pressure was seen on subsequent source reports that it is possible to increase supply gradually from August. Such an alteration would be in-fitting with the most recent IEA MOMR which wrote that “OPEC+ needs to open the taps to keep world oil markets adequately supplied; production hikes at current pace set to be nowhere near the levels needed to prevent further stock draws”. As a reminder, the current OPEC+ quotas which were set in April envisage 700k BPD and 850k BPD of oil re-entering the market in June and July respectively. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver are modestly softer on the session given upside in both the USD and yields this morning; however, the magnitude of ranges for the precious metals are contained when compared with action seen over the last week. On gold, JP Morgan retains its long-term bearish view on the metal in-light of last week’s FOMC updates and look for copper prices to ease into H2 as supply/demand imbalances resolve, taking the view that the metal peaked in Q2.

US Event Calendar

  • 10:30am: Fed’s Mester Discusses Monetary Policy and Financial...
  • 11am: Fed’s Daly Speaks at Peterson Institute Event
  • 2pm: Powell Testifies to Congress on Covid-19 Response and Economy

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overgnight wrap

When we went to press yesterday morning I was left very confused as to why US 10 year yields had sunk even further overnight to around 1.36% from 1.44% at the Asian open. It felt like it might be the longest day of the year in markets as well as in daylight terms. Well 4 hours later they had moved back to 1.44% and then 1.49% after another 6 hours early in the US session - roughly where they closed and where they are trading now in Asia. To be fair the real action continues to be in the 30 year part of the curve which opened in Asia yesterday at 2.01%, rallied to 1.925% but then reversed course all day and flirted with 2.10% as Europe went home before closing at 2.11% (2.12% in Asia). There was no real new news so the earlier price action perhaps indicates that there might have been some positioning/liquidation issues out there yesterday to explain such swings. This is part of the reason I wouldn’t try to over analyse the macro implications of these moves at the moment. There seems to be a lot of technical things going on at the moment including the Treasury running down their cash holdings at the Fed. As such I think it’s far too early to suggest that the price action reflects a view that the Fed made a policy error last Wednesday.

Equity markets seemed to like a return of more normal yields as they have been a bit shaken by the bond reaction post the FOMC. In fact by the close of yesterday’s session, the S&P 500 had rebounded +1.40% to put the index back within 1% of its all-time closing high last week. So quite the reversal from its worst weekly performance since February. Even the dollar (which saw its best performance since September last week) changed gears to close -0.35% lower on the day.

In the absence of other events on the calendar, Fed speakers were in focus yesterday with St Louis President Bullard (non-voter, dove) and Dallas President Kaplan (non-voter, hawk) kicking off proceedings. Notably, Bullard said that the Fed ought to set up its taper so it could be adjusted if necessary, which raises the prospect that the pace could change depending on the strength of the economic recovery and inflation outcomes. And he himself alluded to the uncertainty in the outlook, saying that “No one really knows how this is all going to unfold. We have to be ready for the idea that there is upside risk to inflation and for it to go higher”. Separately, Kaplan said that he was in favour of beginning the tapering process sooner rather than later. However the timeline is still uncertain, as later in the session New York Fed President Williams said that he still sees tapering as “quite a ways off.” Williams also expects inflation to return to 2% next year and that the long-term trends that have depressed inflation in recent years will be the overriding force once again. After a year of coordinated messaging, it seems like there is more dispersion of views coming out of the committee now. I think this is more healthy.

Today, all eyes will be on Fed Chair Powell, who’s testifying at 7pm London time before the House of Representatives’ Select Subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, where he’s set to talk about the Federal Reserve’s response to the pandemic. In prepared remarks distributed late last night, Powell remains optimistic on the recovery, saying “job gains should pick up in coming months as vaccinations rise, easing some of the pandemic-related factors currently weighing them down.” Chair Powell acknowledged that “inflation has increased notably in recent months… As these transitory supply effects abate, inflation is expected to drop back toward our longer-run goal.” The transitory nature of inflation is sure to be a key point of questions from some Representatives today.

Running through the market moves yesterday, US equities saw an incredibly broad-based advance, with 482 companies moving higher in the S&P on the day, which remarkably represents the highest number of gainers in over a year. The S&P gains were led by the cyclical/reopening trade as yields rebounded while tech stocks lagged somewhat, with the NASDAQ seeing a smaller +0.79% advance, though that still left the index within 0.5% of its own all-time high. Small-cap stocks saw even larger gains, as the Russell 2000 was up +2.16%. Over in Europe, equity markets saw their own slightly more subdued rebound with the STOXX 600 ending the day up +0.70%.

For sovereign bond markets it was an eventful day as discussed at the top, with yields moving noticeably lower prior to the open in Europe before ending the day higher. Furthermore, we saw curves begin to steepen again following the major flattening last week, with the US 2s10s curve up +4.8bps, and the 5s30s up +8.6bps. Europe saw much the same story once the global sell-off begun, with yields on bunds (+2.9bps), OATs (+0.5bps) and BTPs (+0.4bps) all moving higher.

Overnight in Asia, markets are following Wall Street’s lead with the Nikkei (+2.95%), Shanghai Comp (+0.78%) and Kospi (+0.77%) all making gains. The Hang Seng (-0.01%) is trading broadly flat. Outside of Asia, futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.18% and those on the Stoxx 50 are up +0.35%.

Elsewhere, both Brent Crude (+1.89%) and WTI (+2.82%) oil prices climbed to fresh 2-year highs of $74.90/bbl and $73.66/bbl respectively. Indeed that rise for WTI yesterday now means it’s risen by more than +50% on a YTD basis, making it the first major asset in our performance review basket to reach that milestone this year. Overnight, Brent oil prices have crossed $75 mark for the first time since April 2019. Other commodities also performed decently yesterday, including copper (+0.65%), gold (+1.08%), silver (+0.64%) and corn (+0.61%), with all 4 recovering ground following last week’s losses. Speaking of commodities, I looked at the change in various prices over the last 2 years in my chart of the day yesterday (link here), pointing out that in spite of the declines from their recent peaks this year, they still remain well above their levels 2 years ago. So some perspective is needed to the recent falls.

In terms of new-age commodities, the selloff in crypto-assets took another leg lower yesterday following news that China called a meeting of leaders of its largest banks to reiterate a ban on cryptocurrency services. Bitcoin fell -9.05% to $32,582, its lowest level since late-January. Ethereum (-14.0%), Litecoin (-14.0%) and XRP (-12.6%) all followed suit.

In terms of the latest on the pandemic, UK Prime Minister Johnson said that for England, “I think it’s looking good for July 19 to be that terminus point” when the easing of restrictions could take place. Nevertheless, a further 10,633 cases were reported in the UK yesterday, which took the weekly average to its highest since late-February, at 9,778. The rate of increase has slowed though. In Germany, Health Minister Spahn warned the delta variant may cause a 4th wave of infections, saying the government would remain cautious when the calendar turns over to Autumn and Winter. Elsewhere, it was announced that spectators at the Tokyo Olympics would be limited to either 10,000 or 50% capacity. Lastly, the White house announced that 150mn Americans, or over 45% of the overall population, are now fully vaccinated and 15 states along with Washington DC have now reached 70% of adults with at least one shot. However there has been a greater than 30% increase in Covid-19 hospitalisations in Missouri, Arkansas and Utah – all states with well below average vaccination rates – over the last week with the increase driven by 18-29 year olds, according to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services data. The absolute numbers remain low and healthcare capacity is not a concern at this time, however local authorities are paying attention and cited low testing numbers as an additional concern.

Finally, there wasn’t a great deal of data yesterday, though the Chicago Fed’s national activity index came in at 0.29 in May (vs. 0.70 expected), up from -0.09 in April.

To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the aforementioned testimony from Fed Chair Powell to Congress. Otherwise, we’ll also hear from the Fed’s Mester and Daly, as well as the ECB’s Rehn, Lane and Schnabel. Data releases from the US include May’s existing home sales and the Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index for June, while in the Euro Area there’s the advance consumer confidence reading for June.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 07:47

Fauci Pal Daszak Finally Fired From Commission Investigating COVID Origins

Fauci Pal Daszak Finally Fired From Commission Investigating COVID Origins

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News

The scientist who funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s ‘gain of function’ research on coronaviruses, which many now believe to be the source of the pandemic, has finally been removed from a position of investigative authority.

As we previously reported, Peter Daszak - a noted friend and colleague of Dr. Anthony Fauci - was tapped to head up The Lancet’s UN backed commission to investigate the origins of the coronavirus that caused a global pandemic.

The British scientist was picked despite the fact that he was intimately associated with the Wuhan lab, had repeatedly dismissed the lab leak hypothesis a ‘dangerous conspiracy theory’, and created a pressure campaign via a letter published by The Lancet to force the scientific community into avoiding looking into the lab as a potential source of the outbreak.

Daszak was also the lead investigator for the World Health Organisation investigation that determined within 3 hours of visiting the Wuhan lab in February 2021 that there was no leak purely based on the word of researchers there.

Daszak was later employed as an ‘expert fact checker’ by Facebook when it was monitoring and removing ‘misinformation’ about the origins of COVID on its platform, much of which was credible scientific research. Facebook has since reversed the policy of banning any posts containing information suggesting COVID-19 was “man-made”.

It became abundantly clear that Daszak has the biggest motive to dismiss the lab leak notion, yet he kept landing roles in investigating it.

No longer it appears as The Lancet’s origins commission website lists Daszak as "recused from Commission work on the origins of the pandemic."

At the beginning of this week, The Lancet also issued a statement saying it has invited the other scientists who signed Daszak’s original letter, several of whom are involved in the investigative commission, to “re-evaluate their competing interests.”

As we previously noted, other members of The Lancet’s task force are practically all minions of Daszak, some of whom helped him draft the letter that unequivocally stated the lab leak theory was dangerous, and others who either worked with him on ‘fact checking’ for Facebook, or were cited as sources during that activity.

The new statement also includes an expanded disclosure by Daszak in which he denies that he or his company EcoHealth received any money directly from the Chinese government.

It also states “EcoHealth Alliance’s work in China … includes the production of a small number of recombinant bat coronaviruses to analyse [sic] cell entry and other characteristics of bat coronaviruses for which only the genetic sequences are available… NIH reviewed the planned recombinant virus work and deemed it does not meet the criteria that would warrant further specific review by its Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight (P3CO) committee.”

Essentially, Daszak is still claiming he had nothing to do with gain of function research, perhaps because it is now clear that this is the likely cause of the outbreak.

As Daszak also states, he is still currently a member of the WHO investigative team that continues to study the animal origins of the virus in tandem with China.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 07:36

China's Ambassador To Washington Leaves After 8 Years

China's Ambassador To Washington Leaves After 8 Years

Cui Tiankai, China's longest-serving ambassador to the US in history, is leaving Washington after eight years as Beijing's top diplomat in the West, a departure that's coming at a particularly tense time for US-China bilateral relations.

In a statement, Cui said the bilateral relationship is at a "crossroads", and called on Chinese people in the US to defend their right to live in the country, and to "shoulder a great responsibility and mission" in bolstering the relationship between the world's two largest economies.

"Sino-US relations are at a critical crossroads, and the US’s China policy is undergoing a new round of restructure, facing a choice between dialogue and cooperation, or confrontation and conflict," Cui said in the letter.

"At this moment, overseas Chinese in the United States shoulder a greater responsibility and mission. I hope you will continue to be a firm promoter and positive contributor to the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations, and defend your right to be in the US...and safeguard the fundamental interests of the Chinese and American people to promote world peace, stability and prosperity."

Cui's tour in the US began during the Obama Administration, and included the Trump years, when the US waged a trade war against China that led to both sides hiking tariffs and imposing other new trade barriers. As opposed to China's infamous "wolf warrior" diplomats, Cui is known in the West as a moderate. Yet he presided over other upheavals, including tit-for-tat closures of consulates and restrictions slapped on foreign journalists by both the US and China. Cui has also dismissed reporting on China's human-rights abuses in Xinjiang and the illegal (under international law) crackdown on Hong Kong as "fake news".

Cui Tiankai

However, Cui gained respect in Washington after pushing back against a narrative (cooked up by Beijing's propagandists) that COVID-19 was started by the American military.

The diplomat's departure has been rumored for months. "He's been getting very tired," one source told the Guardian.

"Cui was getting very tired and had been wanting to leave for some years," J Michael Cole said, citing diplomatic sources in Washington.

"He leaves at a time when US-China relations are at their lowest point in several years, if not decades. The principal reason for this is not his doing, as he was, by current standards, a rather mild-tempered representative of China abroad."

Having witnessed the popularity of some of Trump's hawkish and aggressive stance on America's biggest geopolitical rival, President Biden has pledged to continue the Trump trade war while seeking cooperation on other issues like climate change.

Qin Gang, China's vice-minister of foreign affairs under Foreign Minister Wang Yi, has been widely tipped to succeed Cui as Beijing's top emissary to the US. Having spent most of his career focused on Europe, Qin has no direct experience in dealing with the US. But given the control exercised from Beijing, the experience of the diplomat doesn't have much bearing on policy. But one expert source said the risks of more "rhetorical sparks" flying will likely be higher on the new ambassador.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 07:00

One Mad Market & Six Cold Reality-Checks

One Mad Market & Six Cold Reality-Checks

Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com,

Fact checking politicos, headlines and central bankers is one thing. Putting their "facts" into context is another.

Toward that end, it’s critical to place so-called “economic growth,” Treasury market growth, stock market growth, GDP growth and, of course, gold price growth into clearer perspective despite an insane global backdrop that is anything but clearly reported.

Context 1: The Rising Growth Headline

Recently, Biden’s economic advisor, Jared Bernstein, calmed the masses with yet another headline-making boast that the U.S. is “growing considerably faster” than their trading partners.

Fair enough.

But given that the U.S. is running the largest deficits on historical record…

…such “growth” is not surprising.

In other words, bragging about growth on the back of extreme deficit spending is like a spoiled kid bragging about a new Porsche secretly purchased with his father’s credit card: It only looks good until the bill arrives and the car vanishes.

In a financial world gone mad, it’s critical to look under the hood of what passes for growth in particular or basic principles of price discovery, debt levels or supply and demand in general.

In short: “Growth” driven by extreme debt is not growth at all–it’s just the headline surface shine on a sports car one can’t afford.

And yet the madness continues…Take the U.S. Treasury market, for example.

Context 2: The Treasury “Market”?

How can anyone call the U.S. Treasury market a “market” when 56% of the $4.5T of bonds issued since last February have been bought by the Fed itself?

Sounds more like an insider price-fix than a “market,” no?

Such context gives an entirely new meaning to the idea of “drinking your own Kool-aide” and ought to be a cool reminder that Treasury bonds in general, and bond yields in particular, are zombies masquerading as credit Olympians.

The Fed, of course, will pretend that such “support” is as temporary as their “transitory inflation” meme, but most market realists understood long ago that more and crazier bond yield “support” is the only way for national debt bubbles (and IOU’s) to stay zombie-like alive.

In short, the better phrase for Treasury “support,” “accommodation,” or “stimulus” is simply: “Life Support.”

With central banks like the Fed continuing to create fiat currencies to monetize their unsustainable debt well into the distant future, we can safely foresee a further weakening of the USD and further strengthening of gold prices, mining stocks and key risk assets like tech and industrial stocks.

Context 3: Deflation is back?

Hardly.

Last week’s jaw-boning from Powell, Fisher and Bullard had the markets wondering if the Fed will be raising rates in the distant future.

The very fact that Powell raised the issue is because the Fed is realizing that inflation is going to be sticky rather than “transitory”and thus they are already pretending to pose as Hawkish.

But if the Fed raises rates to quell real rather than “transitory” inflation, the markets and Uncle Sam will go into a tantrum. End of story.

As I’ve written elsewhere: Pick your Fed poison—tanking markets or surging inflationEventually, we foresee both.

Meanwhile, and fully aware that inflation, with some dips, is only going to trend higher, Powell is already using semantics to change the rules mid-game, now saying that rather than “allow” 2% inflation, they’ll settle for an “average” of 2%.

Translated into honest English, this just means expect more inflation around the corner.

Context 4: Rising Stock Markets

Despite reaching nosebleed levels which defy every traditional valuation ceiling, from CAPE ratios and Tobin ratios to book values and FCF data, the headlines remind us that stocks can go even higher—and they can indeed.

But context, as well as history, reminds us that the bigger the bubble the bigger the mean-reverting fall.

No Treasure in Treasuries = Lot’s of Air in Stocks

Based upon the objective facts above, we now know that the only primary buyers showing up at U.S. Treasury auctions is the Fed itself.

This is because the rest of the world (Asia, Europe etc.) doesn’t want them.

The next question is “why”?

The answer is multiple yet simple.

First, and despite the open myth of American Exceptionalism, investors in other countries can actually think, read and count for themselves, which means they’re not simply trusting the Fed—or its IOU’s– blindly.

Stated otherwise, they are not buying the “transitory inflation” or “strong USD” story pouring recently out of the FOMC mouthpieces.

Inflation is not only rising in the U.S., it’s also creeping up elsewhere—even in Japan, but especially in China. This is largely because the U.S. exports its inflation (and debased dollars) offshore via trade and fiscal deficits.

Such deliberate inflation exporting by the U.S. places those countries (creditors) that lent money to Uncle Sam into a dilemma: They can either 1) let their currencies inflate alongside the dollar (hardly fun), or 2) try to quell the outflow of exported (debased) US dollars to save their own currencies from further debasement.

Option 2, of course, is the better option, which means foreign investors need to buy something more appealing than discredited U.S. Treasuries.

Sadly, ironically, and yet factually, the only assets better than bogus US Treasuries are bloated U.S. stocks.

In short, nosebleed-priced US stocks are still the lesser of the two US evils, and foreigners are therefore buying/seeing stocks as a better hedge against the debased USD than sovereign bonds.

Don’t believe me?

See for yourself—the rest of the world is adding lots of air to the U.S. equity bubble:

This is contextually troublesome for a number of reasons.

First, it means the declining US of A has gone from hocking its bonds to the rest of the world to hocking it stocks to the rest of the world (i.e., China…).

Longer term, this simply means that via direct stock ownership, foreigners will slowly own more of corporate America than, well America…

As for this slow gutting of the once-great America to foreign buyers, don’t blame the data. Blame your Fed and other policy makers (including labor off-shoring CEO’s) for selling-out America and pretending debt can be magically solved with magical (fake) money creation.

Of course, the second pesky little problem with stocks rising beyond the pale of sanity, earnings and honest FCF data is a thing called volatility—i.e., market seasickness.

Nothing goes in a straight line, including the dollar or the market. There will be swings.

Right now, the short on the USD is the highest it has been in four years.

Yet if, by some chance, the Fed ever attempts to taper or raise rates, all those foreign dollars piling into U.S. stocks (above) create a bubble that always pops, as do the foregoing dollar shorts, which get squeezed.

That could cause a massive sell-off in U.S. equity markets as foreigners sell their stocks to buy more dollars.

In short, there’s a lot of different needles pointing at the current equity bubble, and a correction within the next month or so is more than likely.

The sharpest of those needles, by the way, is the appallingly comical level of U.S. margin debt (i.e. leverage) not making the headlines yet now making all-time highs.

As a reminder, whenever margin debt peaks (above), markets tank soon thereafter, as anyone who remembers the dot.com and sub-prime market fiascos of yore can attest.

Just saying…

Context 5: The Dark Side of “Surging” GDP Growth

The World Bank recently made its own headlines projecting 5.6% global GDP growth, the fastest seen in 80 years.

Good stuff, right?

Well, not when placed into context

The last time we saw 5.6% global GDP growth was during a global world war.

Obviously, when the world is in a state of global military rubble, growth of any kind is likely to “surge” from such an historical (and horrific) baseline.

Coming out of World War II, everyone, including the U.S. was in debt. World wars, after all, can do that…

As the victorious and civilization-saving U.S. came out of that war, it made some justifiable sense to de-lever that noble yet extreme debt by printing money, repressing bond yields and stimulating GDP growth.

What followed was at least a defendable 40-year stretch in which US nominal GDP ran 500-800 bps above US Treasury yields.

In short, bond-holders got slammed, but the cause, crisis and re-building after defeating the Axis powers justified the sacrifice.

The same, however, can not be said today as bond-holders get crushed yet again in a new-abnormal in which GDP will greatly (and similarly) outpace long-term bond yields.

Needless to say, current policy makers, the very foxes who put the global economic henhouse into the current pile of debt of rubble, like to blame this on COVID rather their bathroom mirrors.

Ironically, however, central bankers (as opposed to the Wehrmacht, the Japanese Empire or Italy’s Mussolini) managed to do as much harm to the global economy today (with deficit policies and extend-and-pretend money printers) as Germany’s Blitzkrieg or Hirohito’s Banzai raids did in the 1940’s.

When it comes to context, can or should we really be comparing a global flu (death toll 3.75M) to a global war (death toll 85 million)?

The policy makers would like you to think so.

Folks like Mnuchin (last year) or Yellen, Powell and the IMF (this year), are in fact trying to convince themselves and the world that the war against COVID was the real casus belli (reason for a justifiable war) of our current debt distress—equal in scope to World War II in its drastic impact on the financial world.

But regardless of anyone’s views on the COVID “War” or its questionable policy reactions, comparing its economic impact to that of World War II is an insult to both history and military metaphors.

The simple, objective and mathematically-confirmed fact is that the global economy was already in a debt crisis long before the first Corona headline of early 2020.

Today, US debt to GDP is at levels it has not seen since that tragic and Second World War, and it’s projected to go much, much higher.

So, just in case you still think the Fed can and will meaningfully raise rates to fight obvious inflation, as it did in the 1970’s or 1980’s, think again.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s US debt/GDP was 30%. Today it’s 130%.

Given this self-inflicted (rather than COVID-blamed) reality, the Fed simply can’t afford to raise rates. Period. Full stop.

But as my colleague, Egon von Greyerz reminds, that by no means suggests that rates can’t and won’t rise.

The Fed (and other central banks) may be powerful, but they are not divine. In short, there’s a limit to their powers to simply “control” rates with a mouse-click.

At some point, there’s not enough credible fake money to manage the yield curve—especially on the long end.

As more printed and tanking currencies try to purchase lower yields and rates, eventually the entire experiment fails.

At that critical point, rates spike, inflation raises its ugly head and the central bankers look for something other than themselves to blame as the rest of the world stares at worthless currencies being replaced by comical central bank digital dollars.

Wonderful…

Context 6: That Barbaric Relic?

What the foregoing inflation and rate contexts means is that in the years ahead, inflation will run higher and rates will run (be forced/controlled) lower until both rates and inflation spike together.

This further means that real rates (i.e., those adjusted for inflation) could run as deep as -5% to -10% in the years ahead.

Such negative real rate levels could easily surpass those seen in the 70’s and 80’s, which means gold (and silver), both of whom love negative real rates, has nowhere to go but up, up and away in this totally debt-distorted backdrop.

How’s that for context?

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 06:30

Porsche Signs JV To Make High Performance Battery Cells In Germany

Porsche Signs JV To Make High Performance Battery Cells In Germany

Look out, German Gigafactory. There's a new automaker in town. 

While Tesla continues to fumble with red tape and environmental activists in getting its German factory up and running, Porsche has said this week it is going to be developing and producing battery cells for its EV cars as part of a new joint venture with a German lithium-ion specialist. 

Porsche is going to be investing "a high double-digit million euro sum" in Custom Cells GmbH, according to Bloomberg. As a result, it will control a 83.75% stake in the venture, which is expected to start production in 2024. The German state will contribute about $71 million in funding, the report says. 

Porsche Chief Executive Officer Oliver Blume said this week: “The battery cell is the combustion chamber of the future.”

Porsche Chief Executive Officer Oliver Blume

The move comes as part of a broader move for the auto industry, which is looking to keep pace with Tesla and attract customers with better range efficiency. For sports cars like Porsches, batteries "need to cope with high temperatures and be capable of fast-charging and effective energy recuperation," according to Bloomberg. 

The new Porsche cells will allow charging in less than 15 minutes. Porsche's Taycan currently takes about 22.5 minutes to charge a battery to 80% from 5%. Porsche is using silicon as anode material for higher density and more compact batteries. BASF will also work as a development partner for the deal.

The factory is slated to wind up outside Stuttgart and will have an annual capacity of at least 100 megawatt hours, which is enough to make cells for about 1,000 cars per year.

The workforce is starting at 13 and will expand to as many as 80 by 2025. The company says that the new cells "will first be used in a Porsche race car or a high-performance version of one of its existing models", according to Porsche development chief Michael Steiner.

Blume even predicts that the cells could eventually wind up being used by other VW Auto Group brands like Audi and Lamborghini. 

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 05:45

World Health Organization Says Do Not Give Children Experimental Coronavirus Vaccine Shots

World Health Organization Says Do Not Give Children Experimental Coronavirus Vaccine Shots

Authored by Adam Dick via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

In America, national, state, and local governments are pulling out all the stops to advance giving experimental coronavirus shots to children down to the age of 12.

Up next, babies and children up to age 11.

The shots are “safe and effective,” the propagandists proclaim.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has a different approach. The WHO says do not vaccinate children, at least not yet.

At its website, the WHO offers this advice regarding giving experimental coronavirus vaccines, some of which are not even vaccines under the normal meaning of the term, to children:

Children should not be vaccinated for the moment.

There is not yet enough evidence on the use of vaccines against COVID-19 in children to make recommendations for children to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Children and adolescents tend to have milder disease compared to adults.

However, children should continue to have the recommended childhood vaccines.

Choose accordingly.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 05:00

The Man Who Will Likely Be Germany's Next Leader Shares Technocratic Agenda

The Man Who Will Likely Be Germany's Next Leader Shares Technocratic Agenda

Following a difficult campaign to cement his position as Chancellor Angela Merkel's most likely successor, Germany's Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's largest region, has sat for an interview with the FT where he laid out the broad strokes of his domestic and foreign policies, which largely hew to Merkel. 

As the frontrunner to win September's federal election and succeed Merkel as Chancellor, Laschet said that the EU recovery fund will more than likely be a one-off, and that the COVID-19 outbreak won't lead Germany and the rest of the EU to adopt a more federal system. Laschet denies that he's trying to "put the COVID genie back in the bottle," but he insists that there's no reason why life can't go back to normal.

"Under the Maastricht rules, every country is responsible for its own debts," he says. "The basic idea is to avoid a situation where one country is liable for the debts of another...and this principle still applies."

While it's not a done deal yet, Laschet's CDU now looks to be in pole position to win in September and retain its control of Europe's biggest economy. It's a historic election given that Merkel’s 16-year reign is coming to an end, while potentially ushering in an unprecedented coalition between the German center-right and the left-wing Greens.

Germany's technocratic center-right has embraced carbon neutrality and Laschet is no exception: he favors setting the goal for neutrality by 2045. However, he's fearful of endangering Germany's status as an industrial powerhouse, and all the jobs that German industry creates.

"20% of the jobs [here] are in industry. In the steel, chemical, auto industry," he says. "Important economic sectors and key industries in our country. And we want them to be still there in 20 years."

While Laschet favors a more integrated EU, he opposes any attempt to relax Germany's "debt brake" and remains opposed to the issuance of common EU debt (like the nearly $1 trillion issued as part of the EU recovery fund).

Circling back to COVID-19, Laschet promised "a decade of modernization" to combat the aspects of Germany's economy that were seemingly unprepared for the pandemic. He has also broached the idea of a "Germany fund" to mobilize public and private investment in infrastructure.

"I’m open to thinking about models of co-operation with private capital," he tells the FT. "But of course, we can’t allow a situation to arise where you’re circumventing the government’s debt management policy. So if you do it, you have to do it according to the state stability rules."

On issues of potential conflict with the Greens, Laschet said he is open to compromise. On Nord Stream 2 (a project the Greens oppose), Laschet insists Germany needs the cheap natural gas before it can shut down its coal plants. To try and stop Russia from using the pipeline to punish Ukraine, Laschet said Germany must take steps to stop the pipeline from being "used as a geopolitical instrument against Ukraine," which the pipeline bypasses.

"The real issue at stake are the geopolitical interests and stability of Ukraine, as well as of EU member states to the east," he says. "Ukraine’s interests must be safeguarded. If the Russians don’t stick to that, the basis of the NS2 deal will cease to exist."

Laschet's biggest problems will likely emanate from the Greens' foreign policy positions. Not only does the party oppose Nord Stream 2, but it also opposes closer cooperation with China, Russia and Turkey.

Fortunately, Laschet believes his history of being an agreeable centrist - including his membership in a group of young Bundestag MPs known as "the Pizza Connection" for their meeting place in a Bonn pizzeria - will help him convince the Greens to compromise.

"For the CDU the Greens are no longer the bogeyman they were,” he says. Times have changed — the conservatives already govern with the eco-party in the two western states of Baden-Württemberg and Hesse. And coalitions “are possible on the federal level in Berlin, too."

Of course, there's no guarantee that the CDU and Greens will find themselves partners in a ruling coalition. The election is still months away, and even after the results are in, weeks of wrangling to form the next government are expected to follow, which leaves plenty of space for surprises.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 04:15

Oxford Alumni Warn Woke Mob Wants "Sensitivity Readers" To Vet And Edit University's Oldest Newspaper

Oxford Alumni Warn Woke Mob Wants "Sensitivity Readers" To Vet And Edit University's Oldest Newspaper

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

Oxford University alumni have slammed attempts by the Student Union there to employ “sensitivity readers” to vet, edit and place ‘trigger warnings’ on the institution’s oldest newspaper in order to resolve ‘problematic’ articles.

As the London Telegraph reports, ‘Student Consultancy of Sensitivity Readers’ are to be paid by Oxford Student Union to address “high incidences of insensitive material being published” by the Cherwell newspaper.

The SU has received complaints from some offended students that “problematic articles” are being published that contain “implicitly racist or sexist” or “just generally inaccurate and insensitive” opinions.

The newspaper has been in circulation for over 100 years and has always remained independent of the Student Union.

Yet, the SU passed a motion recently to start “using elected reviewers who can take pieces to people more qualified than them [which] can help ameliorate the potential damage from content.”

In other words, a minority of woke snowflakes are being triggered by opinions they don’t agree with, and want it stamped out.

Former editor of the Cherwell Michael Crick labeled the move as “horrific”.

Crick, who has gone on to broadcast for the BBC and Channel 4, compared the move to an authoritarian government demanding to vet and change newspapers before they are published.

“The key thing about journalism is it should remain independent for people in authority, and if the students’ union don’t like it they can set up their own,” Crick asserted, adding “The answer to all of these things is pluralism. If you’re going to have a boring, dull, vetted newspaper then nobody’s going to read it.”

Rachel Johnson, another Oxford alumni broadcaster said that the attitude within the Oxford SU appears to be “that life is a very scary thing and students must be protected from it at all costs, which to me is the opposite of what both university and journalism is about.”

“I picked up a copy of Cherwell on the train [on a recent visit] and it was mainly students talking about themselves and identity issues,” Johnson continued, adding “each article had a ‘trigger warning’ rating at the top for if it contains triggering words or contains triggering content.”

“The whole thing already – before even the student sensitivity scan of each piece – felt really sad,” she emphasised.

While Oxford SU has not responded to requests for comments, Toby Young, of the Free Speech Union, said: “Student leaders should be standing up for the speech rights of student journalists, not trying to muzzle them.”

As we previously reported, a recent study by leading education focused think tank Civitas, found that free speech at the world’s leading universities is being eroded at an alarming rate owing to the rise of “cancel culture”.

Universities are in danger of becoming breeding grounds for revisionist history based on extremist political movements made up of individuals who are obsessed with declaring everything racist.

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Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 03:30

Macron, Le Pen Suffer Setbacks In French Regional Elections Amid Lowest Turnout On Record

Macron, Le Pen Suffer Setbacks In French Regional Elections Amid Lowest Turnout On Record

French President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen both suffered setbacks as their parties performed poorly in regional elections that saw a historically low turnout rate with more than two out of three note cast a vote.

Macron's La République En Marche won a paltry 10.9% of votes while the far-right National Rally, led by Le Pen, won 19.1% - both lower than expected - according to exit polls. The right-wing party Les Republicains fared better and won 29.3% of the vote. An unprecedentedly high rate, 68%, of the population didn't vote. This is the highest abstention rate under the Fifth Republic.

As Goldman economist notes Sven Jari Stehn writes, in line with expectations President Macron’s party posted another round of very disappointing results, often barely reaching the second round. The week until the second round on June 27 will now see parties negotiate to form the Front Républicain in an effort to block the far-right from reaching office. Polling suggests that this will be enough to defeat Le Pen’s party everywhere but in the Southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur, although her weak first round results will likely weigh on her momentum. Xavier Bertrand—who is trailing behind President Macron in polls for the presidential elections—looks set to win re-election in the Northern region of the Hauts-de-France with a comfortable margin, thus likely providing momentum to his presidential bid.

Key Highlights via Goldman:

According to preliminary results, incumbent parties and the far-right were in the lead after the regional elections’ first round. In the widely-watched race in the Southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur, far-right candidate Mariani was leading against the alliance between the centre-right and Macron’s presidential party by 2.5%. In the Northern region of the Hauts-de-France, 2022 presidential hopeful Xavier Bertrand (independent) won 42.1% of the vote, setting a 17.6% lead on far-right contender Sébastien Chenu. In other regions, incumbent parties - the center-right party Les Républicains and the Socialist party - looked broadly set for re-election.

The voting method — two rounds, proportional with lists and majority bonus — requires parties’ lists to gather 10% of the votes in order to qualify to the second round (with lists having won between 5% and 10% of votes can merge with the qualified lists). Successful lists then contend for a simple majority in the second round, where the first list benefits from a 25% seat bonus in the regional council. This system allows for the so-called Front Républicain to operate, whereby mainstream parties either support or drop-out of the race to block the far-right from reaching office. The Southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur is the only region where polls give the far-right within polling error of beating a range of potential Front Républicains. Another key parameter of the second round will be voter turnout, which reached a record low at 33.9% in this first round. Although covid and reopening likely weighed on the participation rate this particular weekend, the downward trend of the past decades could also be reflected in the second round through a weakened Front Républicain.

It is difficult to map these results into the race for the 2022 presidential elections. In that respect, the presidential party’s disappointing results can be traced back to his party’s lack of local rooting. Meanwhile, the far-right’s performance looks especially mixed, as Le Pen’s party both got closer to office than ever in the South, but lost ground almost uniformally in other regions.

As a result, Goldman concludes that the center-right - Les Républicains, currently third in polls for 2022 - looks to emerge as the winner of these elections, with three of its leaders winning large victories.

The race to the 2022 presidential election could thus slightly narrow once the dust settles on this regional ballot.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 02:45

Turkey's Secret Plan To Invade Greece And Armenia

Turkey's Secret Plan To Invade Greece And Armenia

Via SouthFront.org,

A plan for a simultaneous Turkish invasion of both Greece and Armenia was prepared by Turkey, according to the secret documents of the Turkish General Staff.

According to these documents, the plan called “CERBE” was prepared in 2014 and updated in 2016.

According to the Nordic Monitor, “Turkey was inspired by the name of its secret war plans for the eastern Mediterranean, from a significant victory Ottoman naval machine against a fleet of Christian alliance that strengthened Turkish rule in the Mediterranean.”

According to a PowerPoint presentation prepared by the General Staff for a review of interior design, Turkey has drawn up a plan for a secret military operation called “TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] Cerbe Operation Planning Directive”. The plan was dated January 7, 2014, which means that it was probably updated amid increased tension between Turkey and Greece / Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, the report also states. Cerbe is the name of an island in southern Tunisia near the border with Libya.

It was there that the Battle of Djerba took place in May 1560 between the Ottoman forces and the fleet of the Christian Alliance, which consisted mainly of Spanish, Papal, Genoese, Maltese and Neapolitan forces.

“The Turks won the battle, which gave them dominance in the Mediterranean Sea,” the report said, adding that “the name of Turkey’s comprehensive war game plan in the eastern Mediterranean fits in with the narrative promoted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan” and his associates, who often place Turkey’s problems with its Western allies as part of a renewed conflict between Christian Europe and Muslim Turkey. A slide from the powerpoint from the secret document lists the military plans of Turkey against Greece, Armenia and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean with corresponding dates that show when they were drawn up“.

“The existence of Turkey’s war plan for the east was discovered in a court file in the Turkish capital, with prosecutor Serdar Coşkun, loyal to the Turkish president, apparently forgetting to remove the classified documents before submitting them to the court,” the statement said, which continues: “They were collected from the headquarters of the General Staff during an investigation into the failed coup on 15 July 2016. The documents, including the plan to invade Greece and Armenia, were found to have been sent among the top commanders to the General Staff through a secure internal email.

Koskun ordered the army to forward copies of all emails for the previous two months, including the encrypted ones, on August 1, 2016. Ten days later, on August 11, 2016, the prosecutor instructed his trusted assistant, a police officer named Yüksel Var, collect emails from the General Staff’s internal servers and report to him. A panel set up by military technicians under Var completed its work on 14 February 2017. Finally, the indictment filed by prosecutors Necip Cem İşçimen, Kemal Aksakal and İstiklal Akkaya in March 2017 at the 17th Supreme Criminal Court of the All of Ankara the e-mails collected from the computers of the General Staff“.

The Nordic Monitor concludes: “No communication was found in the e-mails indicating any  coup attempt, which many believe was a disorientation operation organized by Erdogan and his intelligence and military leaders to trap the opposition to persecution and mass purges.

The document does not contain details about the specifics of the program other than its name and updated date. The details of the war plan must have been labeled “confidential” and therefore could not be communicated through the intranet system running on the Turkish army’s email exchange servers. A review of the documents also shows that the General Staff, which notified the emails at the outset, panicked eight months later about the possible impact of the disclosure of sensitive documents and began sounding the alarm. The first warning letter was written on March 8, 2017 by the Chief of General Staff Unur Tarçın, Head of the Communication, Electronic and Information Services System of the General Staff (Muhabere, Elektronik ve Bilgi Sistemleri, or MEBS).

He warned the General Staff Legal Service that the documents contained secret documents related to Turkey’s national security, classified intelligence reports and operations in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean. He said the documents should be kept secret and not disclosed to unauthorized persons. The Deputy Chief Legal Adviser of the General Staff, Colonel Aydın Seviş, then wrote to the 17th Ankara High Criminal Court on 24 August 2017, reiterating the same concerns about the secret documents and urging the establishment of a committee to review them. However, the Turkish prosecutors did not seem to pay attention to their concerns and included all the emails with the attached secret documents in the case file, revealing the highly classified information including the name of the invasion plan for Greece”.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/22/2021 - 02:00

When the FBI Framed Four Innocent Men

When the FBI Framed Four Innocent Men

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

This is the story of how the FBI framed four innocent men for murder, destroyed families, and tried to cover it up. It’s also the story of the convergence of John Durham and Robert Mueller: how Durham uncovered the FBI’s crimes and how Robert Mueller’s FBI disputed the innocence of the men the FBI framed.

The FBI knocked and Mike Albano opened the door. It was 1983. As a member of the Massachusetts State Parole Board, Albano thought he had been doing his job when he looked into voting to commute the sentence of Peter Limone, who along with Joseph Salvati, Henry Tameleo, and Louis Greco, had been convicted for the murder of Teddy Deegan in 1965.

Those convictions never sat right with Albano – he was savvy to Massachusetts and the convergence of the Mob and law enforcement. His suspicions of the convictions, and sympathy to the four men, only grew when he met with Greco, who proclaimed his innocence and said “he wanted to live one day as a free man, just one day.”1

FBI special agents John Morris and John Connolly weren’t there just say hello or to discuss the details of the case (a state case, not a federal case). There was a darker purpose: straight-up intimidation. Threats that it wouldn’t be good for Albano’s career if he voted for commutation.

To Albano’s credit, he voted to commute the sentence of Limone. This particular petition for commutation (Limone filed six in total that were all rejected) was denied by Governor Michael Dukakis after the FBI and then-U.S. Attorney Bill Weld put on the pressure, alleging that Limone was guilty of the Deegan murder, had been involved in commissioning the murder of Joseph “The Animal” Barboza, and would return with seniority to Boston’s organized crime structure if he was freed.

The Parole Board also voted in favor of two commutation petitions by Greco. The first was denied by Governor Michael Dukakis, the second denied by Governor Bill Weld. There was no ruling on the third commutation petition filed by Greco in 1995. He died soon after it was filed. Greco’s plea to Albano, that he live “just one day” as a free man, was never granted.

To understand this case and the FBI’s efforts to intimidate Albano, you have to go back to the 1960s. J. Edgar Hoover was the FBI Director and made it a focus of his to take down La Cosa Nostra – the Italian Mob – by any means necessary. To achieve this goal the FBI used criminal informants.

The Teddy Deegan Murder

Teddy Deegan was murdered on the night of March 12, 1965 in Chelsea, Massachusetts, just north of Boston. His body was found in an alley behind the Lincoln National Bank. He had on gloves and a screwdriver was found near his left hand. A tool of his trade. The lieutenant who arrived at the scene described a fresh pool of blood near his left knee and blood “still oozing from the rear of his head.” In all, Deegan was shot 6 times with three different guns.

The officers who recognized Deegan there lying in the alley wouldn’t have been surprised. Deegan didn’t hang around the best people and didn’t exactly behave himself. They didn’t expect Deegan’s murder, but they wouldn’t have been surprised.

Arrests are made.

Four men – Limone, Greco, Salvati, and Tameleo – were accused of Deegan’s murder.

Peter Limone was arrested on October 27, 1967. It was his tenth wedding anniversary and it was spent in jail away from his wife, Olympia, with whom he had four young children. He was supposed to meet Olymia that evening for a meeting at their sons’ school. He never showed up.

Louis Greco surrendered to the FBI in Miami, having been in Florida at the time of the murder, and was extradited to Massachusetts in 1968. He too was married and had a couple young children. He was a war hero, having served in the South Pacific in the Army during World War II. For his service he had been awarded a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars. He returned from the war “disabled for life with a shattered ankle.”

Joseph Salvati was 34 when he was arrested. Like Limone, he also had four young children. Henry Tameleo was the oldest of the four men. He was born in 1901 and had been married to his wife since 1919.

The Trial and Convictions

The state murder trial started on May 27, 1968. Joseph Barboza, an FBI informant, testified that Limone and Tameleo approved the “hit” on Deegan, that Salvati was there with them, and that Greco helped plan the killing.

Not that Barboza was innocent – he was indicted for a misdemeanor relating to the murder and was serving time for possessing an illegal firearm. This was supposedly part of a deal the FBI gave Barboza: testify for the Massachusetts government in the murder trial and they’d let the judge know the extent and materiality of his assistance.

Anthony Stathopoulos, Jr. had also been at the scene and testified Greco – or a man who looked like Greco – wanted to get him as well. Other witnesses testified to guilt-indicating conduct by the defendants. For example, it was alleged that Tameleo and Greco tried to bribe Barboza and Stathopoulos to change their testimony.

The defense had an uphill battle. Their lawyers suspected that the FBI might have information or documents relating to the witnesses or Deegan’s murder. But the FBI produced nothing.

The jury reached its verdict on July 31, 1968. The four men were found guilty: Greco for murder in the first degree, Limone and Tameleo for accessories before the fact, Salvati for being an accessory after the fact, and all them for conspiracy to murder Deegan and Stathopoulos.

Limone, Tameleo, and Greco received the death penalty. Salvati was sentenced to life.2 The convictions were brought to the attention of Director Hoover, with the Boston office sending memos citing the Suffolk County District Attorney’s comments that the prosecution was a “direct result of FBI investigation” and witness development.

The FBI agents involved in the case (and who testified in support of their witness) were recommended awards and letters of commendation. They later received large bonuses and were praised by Director Hoover.

The Families

The families of the four men were devastated by the news. They had been distraught since the arrests – but at least with a trial they had hope things would work out in their favor. Now hope was gone and their husbands, their fathers, were facing execution.

It was hard for the wives but the children had it worse. The taunts at school that their father was a murderer. Going through cold prison gates and being frisked just to spend their birthdays with their father. An empty seat at sporting events and recitals. A boy’s nightmares of his father’s electrocution. A girl’s anxiety of missing her dad.

Henry Tameleo was the oldest of the four (aged 66 at the time of imprisonment) and his health was rapidly failing. The prison board and his doctors recommended he be transferred due to his health – these requests were ignored for years. He remained in prison a “sick, lonely old man” struggling with depression. His wife died in 1979. They had been married approximately 60 years; the last 10 years spent apart. He wasn’t there to hold her hand as she passed.

As bad as all of that is – and it is bad – the Greco family took it the worst. I’m not sure there are words to describe the trauma they endured. Greco and his wife Roberta had two sons (Eddie and Louis Jr.) who were 10 and 12, respectively, when their father was taken away. After Greco’s conviction, his son Eddie – at just 10 years old – contemplated suicide. In his own words, he wanted to “take a plastic bag and kill myself. . . I was putting plastic bags around my head.”

The boys’ mother Roberta stopped cooking and cleaning, and took up drinking and beating the kids. Eddie would go to school hungry. One day in 1970 Eddie came home to find their mother had abandoned them. They lived with family until they were thrown out of that home. Eddie was 13 and Louis Jr. was 15 when they were put out on their own.

Greco’s health suffered the same fate as his family on the outside: deterioration. While Greco (and the other two defendants put on death row) was spared execution due to the termination of the death penalty in Massachusetts, he had always been sentenced to death – it was just a matter of time. His health began failing and he was ultimately unable to do most anything without assistance. He lost control of his bowels and Salvati helped clean up after him. Greco’s right leg was amputated below the knee in 1995 de to gangrene. He died in prison on December 30, 1995.

Approximately two years later his son and namesake, Louis Jr., committed suicide by drinking a can of Drano. His other son Eddie struggled with cocaine and heroin addiction. He would eventually die from a likely overdose.

What the FBI knew.

There were FBI secrets about these convictions for 30+ years. These secrets went all the way up to FBI Director Hoover, and were uncovered in late 2000 by then-Assistant US Attorney John Durham: that the FBI had framed four innocent men for murder. This set-up was “known to, supported by, encouraged, and facilitated by the FBI hierarchy all the way up to the FBI Director.”3

To understand the FBI conspiracy, we have to go back to the 1960s and FBI Director Hoover’s efforts to take down La Cosa Nostra- the Italian Mob – by any means necessary.

Part of that task involved focusing on Raymond Patriarca, a powerful New England organized crime boss. In 1962, the FBI installed a wire in Patriarca’s Providence, New England office without a warrant. The conversations were monitored and forwarded to agents in the FBI’s Boston office. This was kept secret even within the FBI. Per Judge Gertner, “FBI reports describing conversations on the wire referred to it as if it were a human source, an informant just like any other.”

The FBI also made use of informants, with whom their agents were have a secret and long-term relationship. Enter Jimmy Flemmi, a career criminal and top FBI informant. The FBI had known of Flemmi’s criminal history – and knew that Flemmi had been involved in a number of murders. Condon, one of the agents handling Flemmi, had been informed in 1964 and early 1965 that Flemmi had committed several murders. This didn’t matter to FBI Agent Dennis Condon, his Boston FBI supervisor, or even to Director Hoover. He could get close to Patriarca and other mob figures and, therefore, had potential.

Jimmy Flemmi was eventually closed as an informant in the fall of 1965. His brother, Stephen Flemmi, began informing for the FBI not long after. Like Jimmy, Stephen was a career criminal, gangster, and killer.

The FBI’s Knowledge of the Plot to Kill Deegan

The wires and informants against Patricia were well underway by 1965. In October 1964, the FBI learned on two occasions that Jimmy Flemmi wanted to kill Deegan. Director Hoover had been updated on these developments.4

Five months later, in early March 1965, Jimmy Flemmi met with Patriarca and asked for permission to execute Deegan. A couple days later Flemmi returned with Joseph Barboza and asked for the “OK” to kill him. Flemmi thought Deegan was “an arrogant, nasty sneak and should be killed.”5

Two days prior to Deegan’s murder, on March 10, 1965, an informant advised the FBI that Raymond Patriarca, a powerful New England organized crime boss, had ordered a “hit” on Deegan. They had already completed a dry run and “a close associate of Deegan’s has agreed to set him up.” The FBI knew it was coming.

Deegan was executed on March 12, 1965. This was the same day that one of his killers, Jimmy Flemmi, was assigned to be developed as an informant.6

The FBI’s Knowledge

The FBI never doubted who killed Teddy Deegan. The day after the murder, an FBI informant reported that Jimmy Flemmi confessed to the killing along with Roy French, Joseph Romeo Martin, Ronnie Cassesso, and Joseph Barboza. Approximately three months later, Director Hoover was informed that Flemmi had participated in the murder. 

The FBI was able to put together exactly how the murder was supposed to go down. After the hit was approved by Patriarca, the men planned to kill Deegan when he and an associate (who was also to be killed) were robbing a place in Chelsea. French was to tip the killers off to the time and location.

Deegan’s death had the criminal world talking. On March 13, 1965 (the day after the murder), a top FBI informant reported that Jimmy Flemmi confessed to murder along with French, Romeo, Martin, Cassesso, and Barboza.

“That account would be repeated over and over with minor variations in every single document the FBI had” before Barboza started cooperating.7 Other accounts supported that theory of the Deegan murder. For example, the Chelsea police had information that the men had been seen leaving a restaurant together at approximately 9 p.m. and returning 45 minutes later.  Other informants came forward. Eleven days after Deegan’s murder, on March 23, 1965, it was reported to the FBI that Barboza admitted to the killing. The memo below shows that Director Hoover was informed that the FBI’s own informants had murdered Deegan.

This information wasn’t shared with state authorities or the defense counsel of the accused. As a result, this really became a criminal conspiracy by the FBI hierarchy – all the way up to Director Hoover.

Durham Starts the Bulger Review

In 1995, information of Whitey Bulger’s relationship with corrupt FBI agents became public, leading to an investigation of the FBI’s Boston field office. This included a review of documents relating to Limone’s case.

In late 2000, then-Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham uncovered FBI memos from the 1960s detailing FBI misconduct in this case, providing them to the DOJ, US Attorney’s Office, the defendants and state prosecutors, and the FBI. As a result, “the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office immediately filed a motion to vacate Limone’s conviction, to grant Limone a new trial, and admit him to bail.

Judge Margaret Hinkle of Suffolk Superior Court ruled that the Durham documents were material, exculpatory, and cast ‘real doubt’ on the justice of Limone’s convictions.”8 The state cases against Salvati and Limone – the only two still alive – were dropped. (Greco and Tameleo had died in prison; their cases were posthumously dropped.)

Mueller

Once Durham uncovered these documents, the Massachusetts Pardon Board reached out to FBI Director Mueller, asking about the FBI’s official response to the exculpatory evidence. The Boston Field Office provided a shameful response that the new evidence of an FBI set-up did not mean that the men were “innocent – it merely means that they are entitled to a new trial.”

The Lawsuit and Aftermath

Eventually, the surviving men and their families, along with the families of the deceased Greco and Tameleo, filed suit against the FBI. Not only did the FBI refuse to admit the truth – that these men were innocent – but the FBI also obstructed their civil rights trial. It turned out that the FBI had been hiding evidence from their own lawyers. This caused Judge Gertner to order that “this matter be brought to the personal attention of the Director of the FBI [Robert Mueller].”

After a bench trial, Judge Gertner concluded this case was “about intentional misconduct, subornation of perjury, conspiracy, the framing of four innocent men.” She awarded the men and their families over $100 million in damages.

For the wrongly convicted and their families, this would never be enough.

Meanwhile, the FBI headquarters is still called the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I. Building. Mueller enjoys, at least with some, a good reputation despite his small but significant part in this saga. And Durham - now Special Counsel - still quietly looks for the truth.

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1. In this essay, the Author relies in large part on Judge Nancy Gertner’s July 26, 2007 Memorandum and Order in civil action no. 02cv10890, Peter J. Limone, et al., v. United States of America, in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

2. Barboza pled guilty to conspiracy and had his unrelated charges dismissed. He was sentenced to a year and a day to be served concurrently with the other time he was doing.

3. Gertner Memo.

4. https://fas.org/irp/congress/2003_rpt/fbi2.pdf

5. https://fas.org/irp/congress/2003_rpt/fbi2.pdf

6. https://fas.org/irp/congress/2003_rpt/fbi2.pdf

7. Gertner Memo at 49.

8. Gertner Memo at 12.

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/21/2021 - 23:40

Thermostats In Texas Homes Are Being Accessed Remotely And Turned Up Due To An Energy Shortage

Thermostats In Texas Homes Are Being Accessed Remotely And Turned Up Due To An Energy Shortage

Have a smart thermostat at home? Better keep an eye on it - especially if you live in Texas.

That's because some residents of the Lone Star state have been claiming that someone has been turning up the temperatures at their homes, remotely, at the same time the state is undergoing an energy shortage. 

And while the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has asked Texans to turn up the temperatures at their homes to help deal with the shortage, some residents are claiming it's being done for them. 

Deer Park resident Brandon English told KHOU: “(My wife) had it cranked it down at 2:30. It takes a long time for this house to get cool when it gets that hot. They’d been asleep long enough that the house had already gotten to 78 degrees. So they woke up sweating.”

His wife received an alert on her phone shortly thereafter saying their thermostat had been changed remotely due to an "energy saving event". 

“Was my daughter at the point of overheating? She’s 3 months old. They dehydrate very quickly,” English said. And according to KHOU, the English's house isn't the only place where such "adjustments" can take place:

The family’s smart thermostat was installed a few years ago as part of a new home security package. Many smart thermostats can be enrolled in a program called "Smart Savers Texas." It's operated by a company called EnergyHub.

The agreement states that in exchange for an entry into sweepstakes, electric customers allow them to control their thermostats during periods of high energy demand. EnergyHub’s list of its clients include TXU Energy, CenterPoint and ERCOT.

“I wouldn’t want anybody else controlling my things for me,” English said. He said he unenrolled the home's thermostat as soon as he found out. “If somebody else can manipulate this, I’m not for it,” he said.

Similar complaints on a Houston Reddit board showed that English wasn't the only person who had the issue. "Several others" said their thermostats were also accessed and turned up. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/21/2021 - 23:20

Biden Urged To Replace Harris On Border Assignment In Letter Signed by 56 Republicans

Biden Urged To Replace Harris On Border Assignment In Letter Signed by 56 Republicans

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

More than 50 House GOP lawmakers called on President Joe Biden to relieve Vice President Kamala Harris of her duties in handling the U.S.–Mexico border crisis.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks as Vice President Kamala Harris stands by in the East Room at the White House on May 10, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The Republicans, as they have done for months, noted that Harris hasn’t yet visited the border amid a surge in illegal immigration. Some Democratic lawmakers who represent areas along the border have also called on the vice president to take more action, including a visit to the area.

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) and 55 other Republicans in the House demanded Harris’s removal from her border assignment, citing recent Customs and Border Protection data that shows that 180,000 people were apprehended last month after crossing the border illegally.

Despite being in the midst of a border crisis this country has not seen in two decades, Vice President Harris has not yet shown adequate interest in observing this crisis first-hand,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “In the 85 days since the Vice President has been tasked with solving this crisis, she has yet to visit the border and meet with Border Patrol agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, and local law enforcement officials.”

Harris has defended not going to the border and said she will visit the border sometime in the future.

When she visited Mexico and Guatemala this month, Harris said that the “root causes” of the illegal immigration problem should be addressed. However, her explanation to reporters in Mexico about why she hasn’t visited the border yet overshadowed her trip, saying that the White House is aiming to boost economic development in the region.

She told reporters: “It would be very easy to say, ‘We’ll travel to one place, and therefore it’s solved.’ I don’t think anybody thinks that that would be the solution.” When pressed about visiting the border again, Harris said she did so when she was a senator from California.

Harris has also said that their mission primarily is diplomatic work focused on the “Northern Triangle” countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, as well as Mexico.

During a testy exchange last week between Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Mayorkas said that questions about Harris not having visited the border are “quite unfair and disrespectful.” Norman was one of the signatories of the letter asking Biden to relieve Harris of her duties.

Mayorkas said, “Let me be very clear, the president and the vice president have requested and directed me to visit the border, which I have done on multiple occasions.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) has become possibly the most vocal Democrat in the House about the border crisis. Last week, he wrote a letter to the vice president requesting she meet with him and visit the border, but he later told Fox News that he hasn’t heard back from her office.

I encourage you to join me and other Members of Congress, while we visit with the people on the ground who deal with these issues every day,” Cuellar wrote. “I believe it is critical that you meet with local stakeholders and residents, consider their concerns, and use their lived experiences to implement more effective policies.”

Meanwhile, as Tom Ozimek also notes:

A dozen Republican senators have demanded the immediate release of a Biden administration blueprint for expanding and overhauling the immigration system, according to a draft document obtained by selected media but not yet disclosed to Congress or the general public.

In a joint letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (pdf), the senators demand the release of a 46-page draft called the “DHS Plan to Restore Trust in Our Legal Immigration System,” which was first reported by The New York Times and which reportedly maps out the Biden administration’s plans for significant expansion of the immigration system.

According to The New York Times, the blueprint “lists scores of initiatives intended to reopen the country to more immigrants,” while not just rolling back some Trump-era policies but also “addressing backlogs and delays that plagued prior presidents.” Most of the document’s policy proposals could not be implemented by executive authority, but would require a broader overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, according to the report.

In the letter, the GOP lawmakers allege that the blueprint “is being withheld from Congress and the American people,” which they find “particularly troubling given the ongoing crisis at the southern border.”

Kinney County Constable Steve Gallegos and Kinney County Sheriff’s deputies arrest a smuggler and seven illegal aliens from Guatemala near Brackettville, Texas, on May 25, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Since Biden took office, there has been a historic surge in illegal immigration, a situation Republicans have characterized as a “crisis” fueled by the the president’s policies. Biden administration officials have disputed that characterization, including Mayorkas, who in recent Senate testimony insisted on using the term “challenge” to describe the problem while insisting that the administration has a strategy to cope with it.

But the senators expressed concern that some of the policies the blueprint reportedly contains would serve to exacerbate the problem by accelerating the flow of illegal immigration into the United States.

We are deeply concerned that these policies will act as a pull factor to continue drawing illegal immigrants to the country—much like the policies already being implemented by the Biden Administration,” they wrote.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the DHS with a request for comment on the GOP letter and seeking clarification on the timeline for the document’s release to the public.

The lawmakers also objected to what they characterized as President Joe Biden’s plans to “use and abuse executive authority to reshape our immigration system.”

“In addition, the policies allegedly proposed in this document would open up new ways for immigrants to enter the country legally that extend well beyond the plain text and meaning of the law,” they wrote. “While there are many rational suggestions for reform in this document, these are decisions that must be made by Congress, and Congress alone, and not by the stroke of the President’s pen,” they added.

“A decision with such serious public safety consequences should be open and accessible, but instead, DHS has kept this information from everyone except a media ally,” the senators wrote.

The letter was signed by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM Tyler Durden Mon, 06/21/2021 - 23:00

Pakistan PM Slams Door On Allowing CIA Bases For Afghan Operations

Pakistan PM Slams Door On Allowing CIA Bases For Afghan Operations

In a new high level interview given to Axios' Jonathan Swan, Pakistani Premier Imran Khan issued a blunt message to Washington as it struggles with the deteriorating security situation amid the Afghan draw down, which Biden has vowed to accomplish before Sept.11. 

Khan has definitively ruled out allowing the United States to set up CIA bases on Pakistani soil to conduct cross-border operations. "Will you allow the American government to have CIA here in Pakistan to conduct cross-border counterterrorism missions against Al-Qaeda, ISIS or the Taliban?" Swan asked the longtime Pakistani leader in the interview first published days ago.

"Absolutely not. There's no way we're going to allow it," Khan said, before repeating resolutely, "Absolutely not."

Earlier this month, US intelligence and defense officials acknowledged they are in a "last-minute" scramble to find regional bases to operate from - for example to conduct drone operations - after the Pentagon fully exits by the upcoming Fall per the White House's timeline.

Driving these efforts are not only fears that the Taliban could quickly take Kabul in the days and weeks after Western forces exit the country, but according to Axios, it's to prevent increased Russian influence in Central Asia: "The Biden administration also is exploring options in Central Asia to maintain intelligence on terrorist networks inside Afghanistan, but that is complicated for a different reason: Those countries are in Vladimir Putin's sphere of influence," the report states.

Throughout much of the two decade long US war in Afghanistan, Pakistan has served as a crucial base of US counterterror operations; however during Khan's 2018 election as prime minister, he vowed to "never again" allow US intelligence or special forces such a role on Pakistani soil.

Swan writes that, "Close observers say it would be political suicide for Khan to embrace the presence of the CIA or special forces on Pakistani soil."

US Air National Guard photo

Assuming that any kind of near future deal with US intelligence is ever actually reached, for the above reasons the public will certainly never know about it.

Historically, especially into the 1980's, Pakistan has been host of major and far-reaching US intelligence campaigns in Central Asia - so despite Khan's public denials of entertaining the possibility of an agreement for covert ops being reach - it always remains a a distinct possibility. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/21/2021 - 22:40

The Biden 'No-Go' Zones

The Biden 'No-Go' Zones

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmGreatness.com,

The Democratic Party won the long march through journalism, but this Pyrrhic victory has meant the destruction of every principle of journalistic integrity liberals ever claimed to champion...

In American journalism, there are supposed to be some clear, nonnegotiable third-rails. 

One is zero tolerance for overtly racist language and comportment among our movers and shakers. Reporters, for example, for four years damned Donald Trump for his neutralizing summation that there were both “fine people” and extremists mingled among the hordes of protestors during their occasionally violent encounters in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

It mattered little to the media that Trump added qualifiers of “many” and “both” sides of the protests: 

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides . . . And I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally—but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? . . . Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats—you had a lot of bad people in the other group, too.

Selected words from the above quote were recycled ad nauseam as proof Trump was a racist. 

Another no-go zone is any hint of contextualizing sexual harassment or assault.

No statute of limitations can provide exemption, much less a “she said/he said” defense in the age of “women must be believed.” The Brett Kavanaugh circus of September 2018 was a reminder that a lack of evidence, credible witnesses, or basic logic is no defense against the 30-year-old charges of alleged teenage sexual misbehavior. Bill Clinton managed to use his progressive credentials as an insurance policy to avoid for months any condemnation that he was a callous womanizer, but finally the press corps found his exploitative appetites too egregious to ignore.

A third zero-tolerance zone is any hint of presidential debility.

We were told in the dark days of 1973 that Nixon was non compos mentis, nursing his wounds with drink as his legendary constitution finally cracked under the pressure, making him supposedly unable physically to withstand the impending impeachment. “Saturday Night Live” made an industry out of Chevy Chase replaying Gerald Ford’s stumbles. Ronald Reagan was all but declared senile by the press for using index cards in some of his summits and speeches, or putting his hand to his ear and claiming he could not fathom reporters’ gottcha questions amid the din of swirling helicopter blades on the White House lawn. 

Finally, lying, fibbing, and even presidential exaggeration are deemed intolerable—or so we are told by the media.

It does not matter that the newsroom is currently one of the great purveyors of untruth, as we saw in the Russian collusion hoax, the dubious Wuhan wet-market narrative, or the yarn about the Lafayette Square militarization to green-light a Trump photo-op. 

Reporters never let Richard Nixon live down his “tricky Dick” reputation for his purported bouts of misinformation. Lyndon Johnson’s lies about the supposed impending victory in Vietnam doomed him. 

George H. W. Bush never got free of his “Read my lips: No new taxes” pledge. Bill Clinton was impeached because what he said about his sexual misadventures, sometimes under oath, could not be squared with the facts. 

There is no need to rehash the media’s echo chamber of “Bush lied, people died” in connection with the flawed CIA intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. One reason why the media’s canonization of Barack Obama ultimately failed was the latter’s blatant lies. (Who can forget “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”?) The Washington Post and an epidemic of “fact-checkers” tallied up all of Trump’s exaggerations and contradictions to convince the public that he was an inveterate liar. 

Americans may disagree with these journalistic rules, but to quote Hyman Roth about the state of our media, “This is the business we’ve chosen.”

Yet it is arguable that while no other president in modern memory has trespassed more egregiously on these no-go areas than Joe Biden, he has received no criticism for his transgressions. 

Joe Biden (never mind his son, Hunter) has compiled the most glaring rap sheet of racist quotes of any current modern political leader.

He characterized Barack Obama as the first “clean and articulate” black presidential candidate. He told a group of accomplished black professionals that Romney would put “y’all back in chains,” as if they were helpless laborers. 

Biden’s rants about Indians and donut shops, the Corn Pop fables, his dismissals of black journalists with put-downs such as “you ain’t black” and invectives such as “junkie” would have disqualified any other candidate.

His earlier treatment of Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court nomination confirmation hearing, his idolization of fossilized racist kingpins in the Senate, his rhetoric on busing and black career criminals, were all couched in racial condescension. 

At a time when the current incarnation of Biden is siccing the federal government—and the Pentagon in particular—on a mythical, nationwide white supremacist conspiracy, the president’s own son is revealed to have habitually used the N-word and emulated what he thought was a backward black patois. Was Joe warning America about Hunter, when he charged that white supremacy reigned and must be dethroned?


 

While Joe Biden is also pointing fingers at white America with despicable false accusations of anti-Asian hate crimes (in truth, these attacks disproportionately are committed by black males), the press is quiet about Hunter Biden’s exchanges with his cousin Caroline Biden over set-up “dates.” In one, Caroline warns Hunter “I can’t give you f—ing Asian sorry. I’m not doing it.”

Hunter trumps her racist slurs with his own agreement: “No yellow.” 

That story was buried by mainstream journalists who have long ago fused with the progressive cause.

As senator, vice president, and presidential candidate Joe Biden was often caught—and occasionally even apologized for—habitually touching, smooching, squeezing, hugging, and breathing on women, some of them preteens, in a manner that can only be called creepy, with all of the females recoiling at his advances. When the intrusions became too great to ignore, the would-be president said only he would be “mindful” of invading the private space of women. 

Tara Reade, a former assistant in Senator Biden’s office, replayed the role of Christine Blasey Ford with charges of sexual assault—but with far greater credibility and detail (“There was no exchange, really, he just had me up against the wall . . . I remember it happened all at once . . . his hands were on me and underneath my clothes.”). Reade provided corroborating evidence, and explicit details of assault, yet the same journalists and politicians—again so often joined at the hip—who had sought to destroy Brett Kavanaugh gave Biden a pass, absurdly citing the statute of limitations, and even questioning the sanity and stability of Reade herself.

As far as presidential health goes, even Donald Trump’s enemies have remarked on his almost unnatural stamina and energy, characterized by 20-hour work days and near inexplicable rapid recovery from COVID-19. No matter. By mid-2017 there was a nonstop journalist mantra that Trump was “crazy” and “unhinged,” and too “sick” to remain president. The clamor continued until Trump himself took the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and aced the exam’s questions. A Yale psychiatrist achieved mini-celebrity status by unprofessionally diagnosing Trump in absentia as mentally challenged and in need of a forced intervention—unhinged charges that nonetheless enhanced reporters’ frenzied calls for invocation of the 25th Amendment. 

Contrast this with Joe Biden. He has trouble walking up the steps of the Air Force One. He forgets names and events. His days are short and his attention span shorter, his press conferences rare—and scripted. At the recent G-7 summit he displayed a mishmash of bizarre interruptions, “get off my lawn” temper tantrums at reporters, slurred words, incomplete thoughts and sentences, cognitive freezes, and general fragilities. His own administration, or more likely those around Vice President Kamala Harris, habitually leak to their lackeys in the media portentous “worries” that Biden’s infirmities are such that they can longer be successfully hidden. And yet the ruse continues.

Finally, Biden says things that are just flat out lies. He declared that no Americans had been vaccinated until he took office, despite a presidential photo-op of him greeting the vaccination on December 21, 2020, and the fact 1 million people had been vaccinated by the day he took office, including him. At the G-7 meeting Biden offered his most egregious untruth—that Trump supporters had killed officer Brian Sicknick—although the autopsy report, now several weeks old, found Sicknick had died of natural causes a day after the riot. While the border is wide open, Biden ignores the chaos and asserts the border is secure and closed. Hunter Biden’s laptop, Joe insists, was a result of “Russian disinformation.” Almost everything Biden has said on illegal immigration, the effects of his proposed tax hikes, and the January 6 Capitol assault is untrue

Reporters ignore the mounting lies, ironically winking and in acknowledgement that most are the result of Biden’s own cognitive deterioration—as if it is more reassuring that a president does not know what he is saying rather than is saying something untrue.

How can we explain this utter dereliction of American journalism? 

The media was always left-leaning. But after 2016, it openly announced that it could no longer remain unbiased given the existential threats supposedly posed by President Trump. CNN transmogrified from a leftist airport news aggregator into a purveyor of whoppers, open threats against the president, and outright obscenities. 

Remember the blasé reporting about presidential decapitation and poisoning? On-air discussion of defecation? The forced retractions of fake news? The retirements and firings for fabricating stories? All that characterized CNN after 2015. 

But aside from Trump, another reason why journalism died was the rise of Silicon Valley and related left-wing billionaires, enriched from monopolies of social media and Internet communications, buying up media companies. Abetted by the subversion of higher education that turned journalism schools into ideological factories, the tech oligarchs made war on the First Amendment, which they hate almost as much as the Second.  Reporters were rewarded handsomely for upholding woke orthodoxy, knowing that while an accurate story offering a positive view of a conservative could stall a career, any inaccurate negative take on conservatism was likely to be job enhancing.

Finally, there is no longer a Democratic Party—at least not of the kind that Joe Manchin and earlier incarnations of Joe Biden and Bill Clinton used to represent. The Left talks of Representative Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) psychodramas and fissures in the Republican Party, but only because civil war for control of the Democratic Party is long over, and was won by the hardcore neosocialist left. Now it is only a matter of mopping up stragglers and relics. 

Translated into presidential coverage, reporters know that any tough question or honest reporting on Joe Biden will not be praised for disinterested journalism or personal courage, but damned as apostasy and disloyalty. In truth, Democratic politicians treat the media now as if they were obedient poodles. They consider any who timidly bark when not so instructed to be in need of neutering.

The final ironies? The Democratic Party won the long march through journalism, but this Pyrrhic victory has meant the destruction of every principle of journalistic integrity liberals ever claimed to champion. Now its most progressive leaders—Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi—have grown so accustomed to fawning Soviet-style reportage that they no longer have the ability to answer any real journalist’s questions. 

Stranger still, the beneficiaries of media obsequiousness have nothing but contempt for the helots who now serve them. Remember Ben Rhodes’ haughty putdown of slavish journalists who “know nothing” and were unknowingly drowning in the swampy echo chambers he had so cynically created?

Once politicians lose all fear of the press, they will say and do anything in their hubris, as we now see with the completely unmoored Joe Biden. And having lost not just the respect of the public but also the regard of the very progressives they idolize, America’s journalists are routinely slapped down as the fawning toadies they have become.

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/21/2021 - 21:40

"Avocados Are Green Gold" As Thieves Target Farms  

"Avocados Are Green Gold" As Thieves Target Farms  

Avocado farmers in South Africa are combating thieves who have found that money grows on trees. 

The Wall Street Journal interviewed avocado farmer Mark Alcock who has a 170-acre farm in South Africa, the world's sixth-largest avocado exporter. He said his farm has a motion-activated infrared camera system operated by an ex-military soldier and protects the property from criminals. 

Alcock is not alone. As prices increase due to cyclical factors, other farms have installed security systems to monitor their crops. 

"As the value of the product rises, the accessibility of it rises because more orchards are being planted," said Howard Blight, who farms avocados on a 350-acre farm. He said his farm is guarded by an electric fence and guards. 

"It seems a bit drastic," Blight said. "But avocados are the green gold."

Avocado theft used to be minimal but is now rampant because criminal gangs are getting involved and raiding farms, then pushing the fruit into legitimate markets, according to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, an NGO. 

The latest raids have disrupted the supply and the price of avocados across South Africa. Much of the fruit is destined for Europe, where wholesalers pay up to $2 per pound. 

Perhaps the reason why criminal gangs are stealing avocado is that the financial legacy of the virus pandemic has doomed the country and will likely result in longer-term structural effects. This includes high levels of debt and soaring wealth inequality, pushing those who are jobless into criminal gangs. 

Francisco Díaz, co-owner of Oh My Avo, Cape Town's first avocado bar, said the crime wave is producing headaches for his business. 

"This year it was a little bit crazy. Plenty of people are stealing them, so there was a big shortage," Díaz said.

Craig Coppen, co-director of Canine Security, provides security services to more than 30 commercial growers across the country, monitoring 3,700 acres. 

On the other side of the world, drug cartels in Mexico have diversified from pumping cocaine and fentanyl into the US to more legitimate operations, including developing avocado farms or seizing them from local farmers. This lucrative business is feeding the West's craze for avocado toast, popularized by millennials. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/21/2021 - 21:20

Alan Dershowitz: "Radical Left" Campaign To Get Justice Breyer To Retire Will "Backfire"

Alan Dershowitz: "Radical Left" Campaign To Get Justice Breyer To Retire Will "Backfire"

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times,

The left-wing campaign to pressure Justice Stephen Breyer to quit the Supreme Court will backfire, said Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz.

Over the past several months, progressives in Congress and left-wing opinion piece writers have increasingly called on Breyer—who is part of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing—to step down due to his age after the justice publicly rebuffed proposals to “pack,” or expand, the Supreme Court.

“They’re saying to him, ‘Look, quit, quit,'” Dershowitz said during an interview with WABC 770 on Sunday, “even though you’re healthy and well, and your appointment is for life because we want to make sure that President Biden gets to appoint your successor while there is still a majority of Democrats in the United States Senate.”

Dershowitz argued that Democrats “want to make the Supreme Court a kind of political institution” packed with individuals who share the same ideological viewpoint.

“Justices should sit as long as they are healthy,” Dershowitz said.

“Oliver Wendell Holmes sat until he was over 90. [Louis] Brandeis sat until he was in his 80s. Some of our greatest decisions were written by octogenarians. And I don’t like the fact that there are people who want to pressure Justice Breyer to leave the court and make it even more political than it now is.”

Attorney Alan Dershowitz, a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, speaks to the press in the Senate Reception Room during the Senate impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 29, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The pressure campaign to get him to retire started months ago. In April, near the Supreme Court, a truck with the banner “Breyer, retire,” was seen driving around the building, according to photos and video uploaded at the time. In Congress, members of the “Squad,” including its de facto leader Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in June, have made similar requests of the justice.

“It’s something that I’d think about, but I would probably lean towards yes,” the self-described Democratic socialist congresswoman told CNN earlier this month in response to a question about Breyer’s possible retirement. “But yes, you’re asking me this question, so I’ve just—I would give more thought to it but, but I’m inclined to say yes.”

Progressives have cited Breyer’s relatively advanced age in arguing that he should step down. After Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020, President Donald Trump and the then-Republican-led Senate appointed Amy Coney Barrett, considered by some to be a conservative jurist, to the vacant Supreme Court spot.

During Barrett’s Senate hearings, several top Democrats publicly suggested expanding the Supreme Court. However, without undoing the 60-vote filibuster in the equally divided Senate, it seems unlikely for such a measure to make it through Congress.

Breyer himself in April spoke out about “packing” the court during a speech at Harvard, suggesting that such a measure would backfire and create an impression that the institution is politicized. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) several days later then told news outlets that he believes the justice should step down.

But, according to Dershowitz, the public pressure campaign likely “will backfire,” and Breyer is “not going to want to be perceived as having given in to pressure. I know him.”

“He’s not the kind of guy who’s going to say, ‘I’m going to leave office as a result of pressure from some academics who want me to leave in order to serve their own political interests,’” the longtime former professor said. “So, A – It’s going to backfire. B – It’s age discrimination. C – It politicizes the Supreme Court. And it tells us what’s wrong with the hard left today. They see everything politically.”

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/21/2021 - 21:00

Exxon To Fire Up To 10% Of White Collar Workers For The Next 3 To 5 Years

Exxon To Fire Up To 10% Of White Collar Workers For The Next 3 To 5 Years

Late last year, when the fate of the reflation trade and the price of oil was still unclear, Exxon made the only decision that it could in order to preserve its dividend: it announced that it would cut 14,000 jobs worldwide by 2022, or about 20% of its workforce, and it would extend reductions well beyond that original time frame. The cost savings would go to fund the one thing the once world's largest corporation was best known for - its generous dividend, which at one point last year yielded about 10% (it has since shrunk to 5.6%).

Fast forward to today when the price of oil is at a three year high, the Exxon dividend is not only safe but according to BofA will be hiked, and the company is the target of multiple activist campaigns, with many pressing for it to refocus away from its long-term strategy of "dividend at any cost" and instead to embrace the virtue signaling ESG insanity that has gripped so many on Wall Street. And yet, despite all these favorable factors, Exxon is now unleashing another major reduction in force (i.e. mass layoff), with Bloomberg reporting that the oil giant is preparing to reduce headcount at its U.S. offices by between 5% and 10% annually for the next three to five years by using its performance-evaluation system to eliminate low performers.

In a novel spin on mass layoffs, the cuts will target the lowest-rated employees relative to peers, and for that reason will not be characterized as layoffs. While such workers are typically put on a so-called performance improvement plan, many are expected to eventually leave on their own. This year’s evaluation is happening now but affected employees have not yet been notified, the people said.

Bloomberg emphasizes that this latest plan is separate from last year's announcement of 14,000 job cuts - meaning that in the near future the company may cut up to 30% of its existing workforce - and comes at a tumultuous time for Exxon, which is still grappling with the fallout from last month’s annual meeting, when shareholders rebuffed top management and replaced a quarter of the company’s board over climate and financial concerns.

Sensing that the hammer is about to fall, several high-profile traders have also left in the last few weeks although these appear to be voluntary resignations and "there’s no suggestion the trading departures were related to the review program" which will mostly affect white-collar jobs in areas such as engineering, finance and project management,

In order to preserve the dividend, Exxon has gone to great lengths to trim cash burn, and in addition to mass layoffs, other cost-cutting initiatives have included suspending bonuses and halting employee-contribution matches to 401k savings plans as the pandemic crushed demand for crude, saddling the company with a record annual loss.

Needless to say, with oil at $75 a barrel, or where it was in late 2018, Exxon’s financial position has been substantially improved, even so the supermajor has some way to go to pay down debts accumulated during 2020’s market collapse, with Bloomberg noting that "a smaller and more efficient workforce is key to further improvements."

Exxon achieved $3 billion of annual “structural cost reductions” in 2020 and will continue to make savings through 2023, Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods said at the annual meeting in May. 

“We’ve got additional work to continue to take advantage of the new organization and find opportunities to reduce our costs,” Woods said.

Translation: many more layoffs are coming.

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/21/2021 - 20:40

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