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  • President Jair Bolsonaro Tests Positive For COVID-19: Brazilian Media
    President Jair Bolsonaro Tests Positive For COVID-19: Brazilian MediaTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 09:45

    Brazilian media is reporting early Tuesday that President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for coronavirus, but the country and local media are still awaiting official confirmation.

    CNBC reports Tuesday morning that"Brazilian news sources, including an affiliate of CNN report that Bolsonaro has tested positive for the virus, but this has not been verified by CNBC or officially confirmed."

    The prior day Bolsonaro had been feeling unwell and running a high temperature, his office said. The 65-year old leader was described by CNN as having a fever over 100 degrees, and reportedly began taking the anti-malaria pill hydroxychloroquine to help treat the virus. 

    He went to the hospital Monday night for a lung scan and said he would get tested for conoronavirus, results of which are expected back this morning.

    As recently as this weekend he was photographed enjoying festivities with cabinet members at a July 4th gathering at the American ambassador's residence, where as is typical for Bolsonaro and his entourage, no one was wearing a mask.

    The Brazilian president was siting next to US Ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, during the party, raising concern. The New York Times reports the potential exposure has prompted Chapman to get tested:

    Also on Monday night, the U.S. embassy signaled concern that the ambassador might have been exposed to the virus, saying that Mr. Chapman does not have any symptoms but intends to get tested and “is taking the proper precautions,” including following contact tracing protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control.

    All of this comes after early in the pandemic crisis multiple aides of the Bolsonaro tested positive after a trip to meet with President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

    Since then the Brazilian president has tested negative for COVID-19 three times. He's also come under intense criticism locally and internationally for a seemingly cavalier approach to the virus.

    According to CNBC this instance, and with symptoms present, is enough to prompt prompt cancelling all presidential events: "Local media reported Bolsonaro has canceled all his official activities until he gets the results of his test for Covid-19."

    Brazil still ranks second in the world behind the United States in both confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. 


    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 13:45:00 +0000
  • Nasdaq Panic-Bid Into The Green At The Open
    Nasdaq Panic-Bid Into The Green At The OpenTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 09:36

    Come on, this is just getting silly now...

    All the other majors are still red...

    "This is easy..."


    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 13:36:38 +0000
  • What Are Stocks Smoking?
    What Are Stocks Smoking?Tyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 09:25

    Authored by Bill Blain via,

    “Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name..”

    For the past few weeks I’ve been cautiously optimistic. The virus is bad, but the economic damage looks far less than feared. We’ve seen economies, companies, and employment fare far less badly that predicted. I’ve even gone as far as to recently declare myself bullish on recovery prospects….. 

    But, after a month of upside economic surprises, I sense the mood is beginning to change. There is less talk of V shapes, and we are back to more discussion about inverted L-shapes stretching into 2021/22. Maybe its summer lethargy or the renewed outbreaks in the US? Or hangovers from the packed weekend pubs that is causing the negativity? 

    Or, is just the realisation that although the pandemic has caused less damage than feared – it’s still caused massive damage! France thinks it’s had a great virus because its economy will only be 8% smaller! (And, on a relative basis, they might be right..!)

    Not that any re-assessment of recovery expectations seems to matter to stock markets! 

    Next week we get the start of Q2 earnings season. A few weeks ago I was warning the Q2 numbers were likely to be brutally bad – revealing devasting negative results for many companies – and might trigger a correction. But now we have banks telling us the numbers season will surprise to the upside – Bank of America expects an 8% beat across the earnings season. That will please the Robinhood army..

    Whoo Hoo! Fan these flames higher! Whoo Hoo! Buy stocks! Buy stocks! 

    Alphabet (Google) has just joined the $1 trillion market cap club alongside Apple and Microsoft. Amazon tops the list and has just broken $3000 --- up a real 121% since Dec 2018. The analysts are confused – they think it’s an expensive stock, but predict Amazon going higher on the back of online activity and competitive streak. 

    I’m a big fan of these big tech names – but are they really, really worth that much?

    Financial Asset inflation means… yes, probably... for now. Although their stock prices have risen fast, (and benefited from stock buybacks fuelled by ultra-cheap debt, supported by Fed QE Infinity programmes buying their bonds…), have these firms doubled productivity and profits in the last few months – like their stock prices would indicate? 

    Er… no. 

    On the plus side, these companies make/sell good stuff that’s genuinely valuable. Cloud services, steady service revenues, and good products make the difference. (When a Tesla fanboy tries to explain the $220 bln valuation of a car company that sells very few cars is because it’s the “Apple of the car market”… then you want to reach for the little brown bag…)

    Financial Asset Inflation is here to stay– for the medium term at least. I now have few expectations the world will wake up suddenly to say how overvalued stocks are. I’m less and less convinced there is going to be a sudden crash or stock market reset. Any dip, and buyers will swiftly emerge. I think we’re in for a long-period of volatile markets with little real trading outside current ranges. 

    Smart analysts know the ongoing overvaluation of stocks will continue to be supported by the search for yield and returns. When there are zero returns from bonds, then investors are drawn, like moths, to the stock markets. Wonder where all that QE money has gone? Look at some stock prices … 

    Of course, there are massive risks in a stock market supported by QE infinity. It drives illusionary valuations – Tesla being just the most obvious. Where zombie companies are thriving because of limitless free debt, the basic functioning and discipline of markets is in trouble. It encourages the survival and even apparent success of implausible tulip-like names. 

    Does that mean the whole stock market should be rising? Large numbers of dull, boring, predictable and profitable companies have underperformed the elite tech stocks. These are the ones to watch. 

    The ones which have massively underperformed are financials. Why are bank stocks doing so badly? 

    While the distortions caused by QE Infinity and Zero Interest rates have bounced Tech stocks and fantabulous hope-and-a-prayer-stocks, they have  absolutely crushed the banking and finance sectors. As investors realise the downside for banks is worsening and savers discover their pension pots have been massively downgraded by financial asset inflation and diminished returns, the outlook for the whole sector is miserable. 

    Part of the reason is the outlook – zero rates are bad news. But it’s also due to the perception regulatory control and interference makes banks a zero-sum game. Its kind of ironic. 12 years ago, the authorities spent billions to keep the financial and banking sector alive. Today, its the most disliked sector.

    You know the sector is in trouble when the only positive bank investment scenario I can come up with is Deutsche Bank – basically because it’s so big and important to Germany (which desperately needs to pretend everything is fine and dandy afrer Wirecard), then I know I’m struggling. DB is up 76% since March – largely on the basis it was so cheap and bad, it couldn’t get any worse! 

    The NASDAQ Bank Index is down 33% this year. The MSCI Europe Banks Index is even worse! 

    When a Fed governor dissents from a decision to allow banks to pay dividends because she foresee massive banking challenges ahead... When the Fed slaps massive additional capital requirements on Goldman because it thinks it knows more about the risks than the Vampyre Squid (unlikely)… (Remember: the only thing worse for a bank than too little capital, is too much!)

    When the Fed is so embarrassed by its last stress test it effectively degraded them to a box-tick points exercise to test not resilience, but how good their compliance is – then we’re all in trouble. OK – so the timing in the middle of pandemic didn’t help. What we got was full information on how US banks would perform in a totally imaginary downside scenario, while they were actually in the throes of a completely different and much more severe real time event. 

    Meanwhile, European dividends have been stopped. I really can’t see much upside investing in European banks, including these in the UK. Zero interest rates (or soon to be negative interest rates) kill opportunities for banks to earn margin and force them to undercharge for credit risk. The continental banks variously remain riddled with Non Performing Loans (NPLs), unclear derivative exposures, or a questionable attitude to money laundering.

    Most banks are now run as de facto bureaucracies – answering to regulator and compliance committees rather than business imperatives. They will manage lending to meet capital ratios set by regulators by cutting lending rather than innovating new ways to allocate capital to clients. 

    Few management boards are thinking about how to improve customers service, or expansion into the opportunities Coronavirus present – they are all far more concerned with hitting capital ratios, making sure they pass pointless stress tests, or avoid failing KYC tests.

    Ask any high street bank for a loan, a mortgage or an overdraft, and they are unwilling – customers are getting in the way of the Coronavirus response, which essentially amounts to shutting down risk business. 

    15 years ago the most “successful” high street banks were seen as dull, boring, and predictable dividend stocks. The global financial crisis of 2008 put an end to that. Only HSBC emerged with any kind of honour. Most banks were rescued, and Barclay’s resorted to – well the courts haven’t proved it was legal yet – capital chicanery to keep itself solvent. 

    The final straw for the High Street Banks might have already been written. The State Capture of HSBC by the Chinese may be the final chapter. Its been forced to kowtow over Hong Kong, support Chinese security laws and to lobby for Huawei. Its completely compromised, and it’s still entirely possible they will be closed out of Hong Kong if the UK isn’t seen to support Xi – which might be why Boris hasn’t singled out China in his latest sanctions list.

    Is there such a thing as a European Champion bank? 

    Not really. But, maybe one is investible.  

    Deutsche Bank is rightly regarded as a disaster story of mismanagement, decline and undelivered hopes and promises. However, it’s now the only German banking champion. Could Europe’s worst bank could be its best? 

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 13:25:02 +0000
  • Melbourne Enters 6-Week Lockdown As COVID-19 Cases Surge; GOP Will Test All Attendees At Jacksonville Convention: Live Updates
    Melbourne Enters 6-Week Lockdown As COVID-19 Cases Surge; GOP Will Test All Attendees At Jacksonville Convention: Live UpdatesTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 09:22


    • Trump touts COVID-19 mortality rate improvement
    • GOP moves to test all convention attendees
    • Worker 'revolt' at University of Georgia
    • Beijing reports 8 foreign cases
    • South Korea reports 40+ new cases
    • Melbourne enters 6-week lockdown
    • India passes 700k cases
    • Iran sees record jump in deaths
    • South Africa tops 200k

    * * *

    Update (0935ET): The US may not actually have the "lowest Mortality Rate in the World", as President Trump contended in a tweet this morning, but as deaths have failed to pick up even as more experts insist that it's only a matter of time thanks to the inevitable "lag" (nevermind the data showing most of those being sickened are younger and much more likely to survive).

    * * *

    Update (0900ET): As the GOP tries to prove to the public that they're taking the coronavirus threat seriously, the party has just announced that it will provide mandatory coronavirus testing at its national convention in Jacksonville next month, Reuters reports.

    The plan will require thousands of attendees to get tested for the coronavirus before entering the convention site in Jacksonville. In addition to trying to signal that they're taking COVID-19 safety more seriously, the party also wants to ensure that Trump speaks to a packed house when he accepts the nomination.

    "Everyone attending the convention within the perimeter will be tested and temperature checked each day,” said Erin Isaac, communications director for the host committee, in a memo to reporters.

    The convention was originally supposed to take place in North Carolina but was moved to Florida after NC balked. Unfortunately, Florida is now the state that's reporting the most new cases per day, as local officials take measures into their own hands. The state is reporting roughly 10k new cases per day, which recently pushed Fla's total above the 200k mark.

    Sen. Charles E. Grassley has already said he plans to skip the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville next month "because of the virus situation." He's 86 years old.

    Meanwhile, ABC News reports that Australia is having issues with its system allowing certain people to cross the closed border between NSW and Victoria. The border is expected to close tomorrow.

    Source: The Guardian

    45 minutes after launching on Tuesday, the website allowing Aussies to apply for a permit to cross the border apparently stopped working. Although functional when it launched shortly before 7:30pm on Tuesday night local time, by 8:15pm local time, visitors were unable to apply for permission to enter NSW. Melbourne has reported thousands of new cases, accounting for 95% of the country's new cases over the last few weeks.

    Victoria has also been sealed off from the rest of the country, in addition to closing its border with NSW.

    In the US, hospitals across the Sun Belt continue to be inundated with coronavirus patients.

    As we noted yesterday, Arizona has reached 89% capacity for its ICU beds as of Monday, while Alabama, California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas also reported unprecedented numbers of hospitalizations. For the 28th day in a row, the country’s rolling seven-day average of daily new cases busted the previous record, although the number of deaths has remained relatively stable, according to the Washington Post.

    As more local officials push to make mask-wearing mandatory, a faculty revolt at Georgia Tech and a petition from the campus workers union have pushed the state to allow the university to make mask wearing mandatory in public places on campus.

    * * *

    As health officials in Beijing reported 8 new foreign cases of the virus and 15 asymptomatic cases on Tuesday afternoon, Australian health officials and officials in the country's second-most-populous state of Victoria announced that it would re-enter 'Phase 3' lockdown, joining a growing list of major cities - Lisbon, Madrid, Beijing - that have reimposed lockdown measures amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

    Just yesterday, Victoria (the home of Melbourne and the surrounding suburbs) and neighboring New South Wales (home to Sydney and the country's most populous state) announced plans to close borders to hard-hit Victoria, the first time in a century that these borders have been closed.

    The Aussie sold off when Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the lockdown, likely because the 6 weeks embraced by Andrews  was longer than the market expectations of 4.

    Cases have been climbing in Australia amid a new outbreak centered in Victoria that officials fear might spread across the country, now that social distancing measures have been largely unwound. Australia reported about 200 new cases on Tuesday, the highest daily total since late March.

    As part of the new lockdown measures, more than five million residents of Melbourne will be locked down for six weeks beginning Tuesday. The usual exceptions will apply, and the level of enforcement isn't yet clear.

    Though New South Wales has reported more cases overall, Victoria has been the biggest contributor to the country's tally of new cases since the resurgence began weeks ago.

     As we await the latest round of US data, India has confirmed that its outbreak has topped 700,000 with 22,252 new infections, becoming just the 4th country to surpass that level. That daily number is down from 24,248 the previous day. The country's COVID-19 tally now stands at 719,665, while its death toll surpassed the 20,000 mark with 467 new deaths; it now stands at exactly 20,160

    In Japan, Tokyo once again confirmed 106 new infections, extending a streak of 100+-case days to six. The capital has urged residents of the capital city to be cautious, and avoid nightlife spots.

    The big vaccine news on Tuesday was China's Sinovac Biotech, which will begin Phase III trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate in Brazil this month. 9,000 health-care professionals will be involved in the study, which will be conducted in partnership with Brazilian vaccine producer Instituto Butantan. Only two other candidates, including AstraZeneca's experimental vaccine (developed by researchers at the University of Oxford) along and another one developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group - aka Sinopharm - have made it to these late-stage trials already.

    8 of the 19 vaccines that have made it to human trials around the world are based in China.

    South Korea confirmed 44 new cases on Tuesady, down from 48 a day ago. Total infections reached 13,181 with deaths still at just 285.

    In the Middle East, Iran recorded its highest daily number of new COVID-19 deaths with 200 fatalities reported in the past 24 hours. Iran reported 200 new deaths from the coronavirus, the most in a single day since the Middle East's deadliest outbreak began in February. The previous record was Sunday's 163 deaths.

    "Unfortunately in the past 24 hours we have lost 200 of our compatriots, bringing the total number of victims to 11,931," health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state television.

    Another 2,637 people have tested positive for the virus, taking the total official number of cases in Iran to 245,688.

    In Africa, South Africa's confirmed total has surpassed 200,000 as the country continues to post some of the highest daily numbers in the world, as Al Jazeera pointed out.

    The health ministry reported 8,971 new cases, bringing the total to 205,721, with nearly 1/3rd in the new hot spot of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria.

    There are more than 477,000 confirmed cases on the African continent.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 13:22:49 +0000
  • Facebook Folds: Will Now Police Speech After Advertiser Exodus
    Facebook Folds: Will Now Police Speech After Advertiser ExodusTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 09:06

    After holding itself out as a bastion of (semi) free speech, or at least the most hands-off in Silicon Valley, Facebook reversed course on Tuesday amid an advertiser exodus thanks to the Stop Hate for Profit campaign.

    In addition to policing whatever their definition of 'hate speech' from now on and vowing to 'get better at removing hateful content,' CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg will be meeting with leaders from groups including the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation league, which organized Stop Hate for Profit.

    Launched by civil rights groups three weeks ago, the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which has a broader aim of curbing hate speech, white supremacy and misinformation on Facebook, has struck a national nerve. Hundreds of companies including top brands Unilever, Ford and Pfizer have pulled advertising from Facebook in July. -USA Today

    "Being a platform where everyone can make their voice heard is core to our mission, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for people to spread hate. It’s not," Sandberg wrote in a Tuesday blog post, adding that on Wednesday Facebook would release its long-anticipated civil rights audit which began two years ago.

    Sandberg said that while the audit had a "profound effect" on the company's culture, they won't be "making every change they call for," but will "put more of their proposals into practice soon."

    Facebook has been pressured in recent weeks to better find and remove posts that include hate speech or lead to voter suppression. The Menlo Park, California-based company has responded to angry advertisers with emails and phone calls to better explain its policies and how it has used software systems to act more swiftly. -Bloomberg

    Sandberg claims that the changes are "not for financial reasons or advertiser pressure, but because it is the right thing to do," adding "We are never going to be perfect, but we care about this deeply. We will continue to listen and learn and work in the weeks, months and years ahead."

    According to USA Today, Stop Hate for Profit is also demanding that Facebook hire a 'civil rights executive,' submit to independent audits of hate speech and misinformation, remove all hate speech and hate groups, and provide refunds to advertisers whose ads appear next to hate speech.

    "Now is not the time for simply statements of support that don’t come with actual real structural change," said Color of Change president Rashad Robinson. "Now is the time to actually change rules and change behaviors."

    Shares of Facebook dipped and quickly recovered on the news:

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 13:06:47 +0000
  • Iconic Short Seller Lansdowne Closing Main Hedge Fund After "Worst-Ever Losses"
    Iconic Short Seller Lansdowne Closing Main Hedge Fund After "Worst-Ever Losses"Tyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 08:50

    While 2020 has been a fantastic year for retail daytraders now that Jerome Powell has lowered the IQ requirement to trade options to those of a 10-year-old, hedge funds continue to suck for the 10th year in a row, with shorts hit especially hard...

    ... which is why it was not a surprise that in the latest HF closure news, Bloomberg reports that once iconic Lansdowne Partners is shutting its main hedge fund in a shift away from short-selling after being hit by some of its worst-ever losses.

    The London-based investment firm is closing the $2.8 billion Lansdowne Developed Markets Fund, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Investors could withdraw their money or move it into the Lansdowne Developed Markets Long Only Fund or a new LDM Opportunities Fund, which will invest in early-stage companies, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

    And while the firm will continue to bet against companies in some of its other funds, the move marks a dramatic retreat by one of the world’s most famous equity long/short hedge funds, and comes after poor performance in both rising and falling markets. Years of poor returns have led to huge outflows from Lansdowne, its assets dropping to just $9.8 billion in June from a peak of nearly $22 billion.

    According to Bloomberg, the firm’s main hedge fund - run by Peter Davies and Jonathon Regis - tumbled 13% in March’s rout, the biggest monthly decline since it started trading almost two decades ago, and was down 23.3% in the first half of the year.

    The firm has told investors that it’s become harder to make money with short bets against companies, and it’s finding more opportunities in long bets and investment in early-stage companies, the person said.

    Adapting to these new centrally-planned times when shorting is virtually illegal Lansdowne was already managing more money in its long-only funds than in other strategies. At the start of March, only about 45% of the firm’s assets were in long-short money pools.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 12:50:46 +0000
  • $1.2 Million Bail For Man Who Struck Protesters Blocking Highway
    $1.2 Million Bail For Man Who Struck Protesters Blocking HighwayTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 08:31

    Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,

    The man who struck two protesters blocking a highway in Seattle saw his bail set at $1.2 million on Monday.

    Dawit Kelete, a black man, was captured on video footage swerving around vehicles that protesters had angled across the highway before hitting two women, one of whom died.

    Kelete was being held on suspicion of vehicular assault before the bail was set.

    The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has yet to file charges against Kelete. It says it’s waiting for additional required information from the Washington State Patrol.

    A charging decision is expected by Wednesday afternoon, spokesman Casey McNerthney said.

    Kelete’s lawyer, John Henry Browne, said the crash was a “horrible, horrible accident” and was not intentional.

    Dawit Kelete wears handcuffs chained to his waist as he walks into a court appearance in Seattle on July 6, 2020. (Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)

    “There’s absolutely nothing political about this case whatsoever,” Browne said.

    “My client is in tears. He’s very remorseful. He feels tremendous guilt.”

    Kelete is originally from Eritrea and is a U.S. citizen, Browne said. He lives with his family in Seattle, and they’re very religious, he said.

    Full pictures of Kelete weren’t available because the judge asked media outlets not to show his face, citing a request from Browne.

    The group that blocked the highway had done so for 18 days consecutively on a nightly basis before the accident, according to troopers.

    Police tried closing off entrances to a portion of the highway, I-5, to protect the group, which was part of Black Lives Matter.

    The vehicle of Dawit Kelete is shown after he allegedly struck two protesters in Seattle, early July 4, 2020. (Washington State Patrol via AP)

    But Kelete entered the road from an exit ramp before going the correct direction, according to a Seattle police report.

    Kelete passed a field sobriety test after police officers found him further down I-5, according to the report. He was described as reversed and sullen. Officers said he asked if the people he hit were okay.

    Summer Taylor, 24, one of the women struck by the vehicle, died after she was rushed to Harborview Medical Center.

    The other, Diaz Love, 32, is still in the hospital.

    Love said overnight July 6 that she’ll be wheelchair-bound until she learns to walk again.

    She directed supporters on Facebook to two separate fundraisers. One, she said, was for her medical expenses; the other is to help the woman with rent, a down payment, and utilities.

    A photo of Summer Taylor sits among flowers at the King County Correctional Facility, where a hearing was held for the suspect in her death, in Seattle on July 6, 2020. (Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)

    The GoFundMe description says Love was protesting on the highway when “a driver decided to go around the barrier that closed down where they were standing and drive into the crowd.”

    “I’m alive and stable,” Love posted on Facebook.

    “In a lot of pain. I cannot believe Summer was murdered. If they thought this murder would make us back down, they are very wrong. Very wrong.”

    Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead called the actions of the protesters illegal.

    We’ve said since May 30th, the freeway is not a safe place for pedestrians to be. Whether they’re protesters, whether they’re homeless, whether they’re broken down motorists, the freeway is simply not a safe place for pedestrians,” he told reporters near the scene of the crash.

    The state patrol said going forward it won’t allow protesters to enter I-5 and would arrest pedestrians on the freeway.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 12:31:33 +0000
  • Operation Warp Speed Awards Novavax $1.6 Billion For COVID Vaccine 
    Operation Warp Speed Awards Novavax $1.6 Billion For COVID Vaccine Tyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 08:16

    With US equity futures under pressure on Tuesday morning - it's not surprising whatsoever that hopium-inspiring vaccine headlines are hitting the tape. 

    Novavax was awarded $1.6 Billion in funding via Operation Warp Speed to support "large-scale manufacturing of NVX-COV2373."


    Gaithersburg, Maryland-based Novavax said in a statement that initial production of 100 million doses would start in late 2020. The aim is to have millions of doses ready by January 2021. 


    Novavax shares jumped as much as 35% in premarket Tuesday following the news.

    So far, this is the largest funding award via Operation Warp Speed, the White House program to fast track a vaccine for COVID-19.

    "What this Warp Speed award does is it pays for production of 100 million doses, which would be delivered starting in the fourth quarter of this year, and may be completed by January or February of next year," Novavax CEO Stanley Erck told Reuters.

    The funds will also help the biotech cover expenses related to a large Phase 3 trial, the final stage of human testing, expected to start in fall, and could include as many as 30,000 subjects. 

    Today's announcement follows a $456 million partnership (in March) between Johnson & Johnson and the US government for a COVID-19 vaccine. In April, the government awarded Moderna Inc $486 million for vaccine development and up to $1.2 billion in May for AstraZeneca's vaccine being developed with Oxford University.



    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 12:16:41 +0000
  • Futures Fall As Europe Slides, Chinese Media Talks Back Rally
    Futures Fall As Europe Slides, Chinese Media Talks Back Rally Tyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 08:01

    One day after a torrid ramp in Chinese stocks sent US futures surging and the Nasdaq hit a fresh all time high, on Tuesday Emini index futures slipped following the benchmark S&P 500 and Nasdaq’s five-day rally, as European stocks slumped after officials warned the economy will take longer to recover and Germany reported weaker-than-expected industrial data, the rally in China fizzled after officials talked back their previous urges to buy stocks, and investors weighed the risks to the conomy from tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases nationwide.

    On Monday, Miami became the latest U.S. coronavirus hot spot to roll back its reopening while Texas registered an all-time high in the number of people hospitalized at any one moment with COVID-19 for the eight straight day. Travel-related stocks fell in premarket trading. United Airlines Holdings and American Airlines were down 3% and 2.8%, respectively. Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings also dropped about 3% each, even as they announced a joint task force to help develop safety standards for restarting their businesses.

    The latest virus news dented bullish sentiment after a surprise surge in the U.S. Services ISM and record job additions in June were among the upbeat data recently that have bolstered views that an economic recovery is underway, helping the Nasdaq close at a record level on Monday and pushing S&P 500 about 45% from its March lows.

    Sentiment also reversed in Europe, where all but one of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell, with real estate and technology shares bearing the brunt of the selling after Germany reported far weaker than expected industrial production data. Bayer AG lost 5.5% after its plan for handling future Roundup cancer claims hit a snag.

    On the other end, BMW rose as much as 1.4%, and was the best performer on the Stoxx 600 Automobiles & Parts Index, after posting 17% jump in 2Q car sales in China. The index was the only positive segment on broader European share gauge; other gainers as of 12:01pm in Paris include Valeo +1.1%, Faurecia +0.8%, Fiat Chrysler +0.6%, Continental AG +0.5%.

    The European Commission gave its starkest warning yet about the impact of the pandemic, with the divergences between richer and poorer countries opening up even further than projected two months ago. Officials now forecast a contraction of 8.7% in the euro area this year, a full percentage point deeper than previously predicted.

    Earlier in Asia, while Chinese stocks powered ahead for a sixth day, the rally was at a far slower pace, with the Shanghai Composite Index rising just 0.4% after the 5.7% surge one day earlier, with Maoye Commercial Co Ltd and Hangzhou Jiebai Group posting the biggest advances.

    China's rally fizzled after all four major state-owned financial media outlets had front page commentaries on the stock market today, with all articles saying largely the same - calls on market participants to be rational. Most Asian stocks fell, led by energy and utilities, after rising in the last session, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and South Korea's Kospi Index turning red. Trading volume for MSCI Asia Pacific Index members was 111% above the monthly average for this time of the day. The Topix declined 0.3%, with Tosei and Miyakoshi falling the most.

    In rates, Treasuries were largely unchanged across the long-end of the curve following mixed performance of Asia stocks; further rally halted with bunds underperforming ahead of EU4b 5-year EFSF deal pricing and looming Irish supply this week. Treasuries also face supply pressure starting with 3-year note auction at 1pm ET, ahead of 10- and 30-year sales to round off the week. Treasury yields were lower by ~1bp across 20- to 3-year sector, little change rest of the curve; 10-year yields around 0.675% while bunds underperform by 1.5bp, gilts trade broadly inline.

    In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Index snapped a five-day losing streak as the global equity rally paused on Tuesday after a strong start to the week. China’s offshore yuan erased gains after briefly strengthening past the 7 per dollar level for the first time since March 17. The offshore yuan weakened 0.14% as of 6:34 p.m. in Hong Kong. It rose as much as 0.24% to 6.9966 against the greenback in morning session, as Chinese stocks rallied before paring gains in afternoon trade. The currency traded little changed in the onshore market after adding 0.27% earlier Tuesday. A rebounding dollar and renewed concerns about the pandemic after an Australian state announced a lockdown contributed to the yuan’s weakening this afternoon, said Gao Qi, an Asian FX strategist at Scotiabank. But the retreat will likely be a “one-off event,” as bullish sentiment in the stock market will continue to support demand for the currency, he said. “The yuan should advance in the coming sessions to reach 6.90 by the end of July,” he said.

    The Australian dollar swung lower after the country’s second- most populous state announced a six-week lockdown to control a wave of infections. Leveraged funds initiated short positions ahead of the lock-down announcement, a trader said, with losses extending after Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced a longer-than- expected shutdown. “The local media was suggesting four weeks prior to the announcement, and now it’s six weeks,” said Ray Attrill, head of foreign-exchange strategy at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Sydney. “A justifiable knee jerk, albeit small, negative reaction.”

    In commodities, oil dropped and iron ore futures jumped. WTI and Brent crude futures remained on the backfoot, if off lows, as the complex tracks broader market sentiment. Furthermore, the European Commission cutting the EZ and EU growth forecasts added to the bearish factors. WTI Aug resides just above the USD 40/bbl (vs. high 40.79/bbl) having tested the level earlier in the session, whilst Brent Sep relinquished its USD 43/bbl (vs. high 43.19/bbl) handle before finding mild support at the psychological 42.50/bbl. Looking ahead, in the absence of virus/China related headlines, participants will be eyeing the release of the EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook for any potential revisions to global oil demand given the resurging COVID-19 cases, thereafter, focus will turn to the Private Inventory numbers for short-term volatility. Elsewhere, spot gold has fallen victim to the rising Buck as the yellow metal slid from near-8yr highs of around USD 1787/oz to find some solace around the psychological USD 1775/oz. In terms of base metals, Shanghai copper hit a 2020 high amid supply woes coupled with hopes of a rebounding Chinese economy. Similarly, Dalian iron ore was underpinned by China optimism alongside doubts over the prospected of a recovery in Brazilian iron shipments.


    Market Snapshot

    • S&P 500 futures down 0.8% to 3,148.00
    • MXAP down 0.7% to 164.30
    • MXAPJ down 0.8% to 541.83
    • Nikkei down 0.4% to 22,614.69
    • Topix down 0.3% to 1,571.71
    • Hang Seng Index down 1.4% to 25,975.66
    • Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,345.34
    • Sensex up 0.05% to 36,505.16
    • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.03% to 6,012.92
    • Kospi down 1.1% to 2,164.17
    • STOXX Europe 600 down 1.1% to 367.33
    • German 10Y yield fell 1.7 bps to -0.448%
    • Euro down 0.3% to $1.1277
    • Italian 10Y yield fell 1.4 bps to 1.113%
    • Spanish 10Y yield fell 1.1 bps to 0.414%
    • Brent futures down 1% to $42.69/bbl
    • Gold spot down 0.4% to $1,777.09
    • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.3% to 97.03

    Top Overnight News

    • Europe’s economy will suffer more than previously estimated this year and take longer to recover because of a slow easing of coronavirus restrictions, according to the bloc’s executive arm.
    • China’s equity market is firmly in the spotlight after an almost unprecedented rally that helped lift global stocks to a one-month high.
    • The amount of U.S. bonds and loans trading at distressed levels has increased for a second straight week as corporate borrowers potentially face another round of lockdowns amid a resurgence of the coronavirus.
    • France’s decision to give only temporary security approval for fifth-generation mobile equipment shows the government intends to gradually sideline Huawei Technologies Co., a majority party lawmaker said.

    Asian equity markets were somewhat choppy as participants began to second guess the viability of the recent Chinese stocks surge which had already reverberated across global counterparts on Monday to lift all major indices on Wall Street and push the Nasdaq to a fresh record high. ASX 200 (U/C) swung between gains and losses as strength in the mining related sectors was initially offset by early weakness in energy, utilities and financials, while second wave fears concerning Australia’s 2nd largest city of Melbourne and the RBA policy announcement further added to the tentative tone. Nikkei 225 (-0.4%) lagged after Household Spending data showed the largest decline on record and the KOSPI (-0.7%) also failed to hold on to early gains as the initial support in Samsung Electronics following a beat in preliminary Q2 results which eventually wore thin. Hang Seng (-1.4%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) both extended on the prior day’s stellar rally but are off their best levels with the momentum gradually dissipating amid several bearish factors such as another substantial liquidity drain by the PBoC and with Chinese press calling for rationality in the stock markets, while the recent headlines also continued to add to the ongoing China vs. the West narrative including the warning from China’s Ambassador to the UK that it will have to bear the consequences if it treats China as a hostile country. Finally, 10yr JGBs were marginally higher amid underperformance in Japanese stocks following the abysmal Household Spending data and with upside also briefly spurred by mostly firmer results at the 30yr JGB auction.

    Top Asian News

    • Lebanon’s Economic Crisis Is Spinning Out of Control, Fast
    • Samsung’s Profit Beat May Precede Slowing Chip Sales Growth
    • Australia Warns Citizens They Risk ‘Arbitrary’ Arrest in China
    • SoftBank Hits 20-Year High With $68 Billion Climb Out of Nadir

    European stocks have continued to bleed [Euro Stoxx 50 -1.3%], as the mostly positive APAC sentiment dissipated when European players entered the fray. Downside in futures was initially seen overnight as the optimism over China’s recent performance fizzled out amid rising reported cases, which led to the Australian State Premier imposing a six-week lockdown on Melbourne, whilst case numbers remained heightened in other parts of Asia. Furthermore, the European Commission cutting its 2020 and 2021 growth forecasts, due to less swift than expected reopening, only dampened the mood. As such, major bourses trade with broad-based losses of some 1%, but in the periphery, Italy’s FTSE MIB (-0.3%) fares slightly better as losses in banking names were somewhat cushioned by reports the ECB's Funding to Italian Banks in June rose to EUR 345.226bln vs. EUR 290.963bln in May, although reports noted that the ECB is to consider asking banks to withhold dividend for longer. Sectors remain in negative territory with no clear risk-tone to be derived on that front as cyclicals and defensives remain mixed. Delving deeper into the sectors, a similar performance, but Travel & Leisure resides among the laggard amid the aforementioned dampened sentiment regarding reopening economies. In terms of individual movers, Wirecard (-14%) extended on losses, with reports also noting that payment group Mastercard was warned about Wirecard’s links to an alleged laundering network around four years ago. Micro Focus (-10.3%) holds its place as a laggard after reporting an impairment charge of USD 922.2mln in H1. Bayer (-7%) shares remain pressured after a U.S. judge questioned the Co’s proposed settlement to deal with future claims regarding its weedkiller. On the flip-side, BMW (+1.0%) nursed opening losses after a trading update in which, despite a H1 YY sales decline of 23%, noted that Q2 China sales have exceed the prior and are seeing initial signs of recovery in some markets as of end-Q2. Finally, in terms of commentary, Blackrock has downgraded US equities on risk of fading fiscal stimulus whilst upgrading Europe to overweight.

    Top European News

    • Europe Sees Deeper Slump With Fresh Warning on Uneven Virus Hit
    • Hungary Posts Biggest Increase in Coronavirus Cases in a Month
    • France Begins to Sideline Huawei From Its Mobile Networks
    • Macron Picks a Government to Rebuild France’s Economy

    In FX, a further erosion of bullish risk sentiment has helped the Dollar regain composure and its status as a safe haven following less pronounced gains in Chinese equities overnight and a more mixed session for APAC bourses overall. Hence, the index is back on the 97.000 handle from a low of 96.565 at one stage on Monday and extending recovery gains on the back of a much better than expected services ISM survey.

    • AUD - The Aussie is bearing the brunt of the turnaround in risk assets and heightened 2nd wave COVID-19 concerns as Melbourne extends anti-virus measures amidst another rise in cases, with Aud/Usd reversing sharply from just shy of the 0.6900 level towards 0.6920 alongside Usd/CNH bouncing from a fraction below 7.0000. For the record, no surprises from the RBA that reaffirmed wait-and-see guidance, but clearly the economic outlook will be adversely impacted by the aforementioned outbreak in the state of Victoria.
    • NZD/EUR/JPY/CAD/CHF/NOK/SEK/GBP - All unwinding more of their recent gains relative to the Greenback, as the Kiwi retreats from around 0.6580 to 0.6520 irrespective of a modest improvement in NZIER Q2 confidence, while the Euro has relinquished 1.1300+ status to test the resolve of decent option expiry interest between 1.1265-75 (1.5 bn). However, the Yen is still pivoting 107.50 and Loonie holding above 1.3600 post-weaker than forecast Japanese household spending data and pre-Canadian Ivey PMIs. Elsewhere, the Franc is hovering circa 0.9450 and 1.0650 vs the single currency, Eur/Nok is near 10.6500 in wake of a steeper decline in Norwegian manufacturing output and Eur/Sek is straddling 10.4500 even though Swedish ip and orders were mixed. Elsewhere, Cable has lost grip of 1.2500 yet again, albeit finding underlying bids ahead of 1.2450 and support some 10 pips below.
    • EM - Broad deterioration on the downturn in risk appetite, but the Rand underperforming following a more pronounced than anticipated fall in SA consumer morale.

    In commodities, WTI and Brent crude futures remain on the backfoot, albeit off lows, as the complex tracks broader market sentiment, as participants regain focus on rising COVID-19 infection rates which prompted the re-imposition of lockdown measures in some cities, whilst others see their gradual easing plans hindered. Furthermore, the European Commission cutting the EZ and EU growth forecasts added to the bearish factors. WTI Aug resides just above the USD 40/bbl (vs. high 40.79/bbl) having tested the level earlier in the session, whilst Brent Sep relinquished its USD 43/bbl (vs. high 43.19/bbl) handle before finding mild support at the psychological 42.50/bbl. Looking ahead, in the absence of virus/China related headlines, participants will be eyeing the release of the EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook for any potential revisions to global oil demand given the resurging COVID-19 cases, thereafter, focus will turn to the Private Inventory numbers for short-term volatility. Elsewhere, spot gold has fallen victim to the rising Buck as the yellow metal slid from near-8yr highs of around USD 1787/oz to find some solace around the psychological USD 1775/oz. In terms of base metals, Shanghai copper hit a 2020 high amid supply woes coupled with hopes of a rebounding Chinese economy. Similarly, Dalian iron ore was underpinned by China optimism alongside doubts over the prospected of a recovery in Brazilian iron shipments.

    US Event Calendar

    • 10am: JOLTS Job Openings, est. 4,500, prior 5,046
    • 9am: Fed’s Bostic Takes Part in Webinar on Economy
    • 1pm: Fed’s Quarles Makes Financial Stability Board Remarks
    • 2pm: Fed’s Daly and Barkin Takes Part in NABE Talk on Economy

    DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

    It was Sports Day yesterday at school and like all major sporting events at the moment it was behind closed doors. Maisie told us she won a race but wasn’t particularly specific as to which one. I’m hoping it was the straight sprint but it could obviously be the egg and spoon, beanbag, or wheelbarrow races. In practice over the last month she hasn’t come first in any of the races so I’m proud she’s a big match performer. No point wasting energy when it doesn’t matter. Hopefully lots of ice cream wasn’t on the banned substance list or the medal may eventually be stripped.

    The main story in markets yesterday was a race towards a new record for the NASDAQ and a fifth successive rise for the S&P 500 for the first time since December. By the end of the session, the S&P was up +1.59%, with the NASDAQ (+2.21%) closing at an all-time high, something that caught the attention of President Trump, who tweeted about the fact not long after the US session opened. It was one of the quietest days in quite some time for the S&P. After the large overnight move, the index traded within a 27pt range the rest of the day compared to the 55pt average daily range over the last month. In fact, the S&P has only traded within a 27pt range for the entire day 4 other times since it was at all-time highs on February 19. The NASDAQ’s new record was assisted by Amazon, which rose by +5.77% to its own record high, with the company’s share price climbing above $3,000 for the first time thanks to an incredibly strong +65.44% YTD performance. Meanwhile in Europe, the STOXX 600 was up +1.58% at its highest level in nearly a month. Banks (+3.89%) and Autos (+2.56%) led the index higher, as there continues to be a strong value and cyclical theme to the European equity recovery.

    The risk-on move was given some added fuel after the ISM non-manufacturing index from the US came in at a much stronger-than-expected 57.1 (vs. 50.2 consensus), a number that was above every estimate on Bloomberg’s survey. And this also comes after last week’s manufacturing ISM rose to 52.6. That said, it’s worth noting that the employment number was not as strong, at just 43.1 (up from May’s 31.8), and already the rise in cases in many US states has led to a reversal in the mobility data, which presents a serious downside risk when it comes to the economic recovery.

    The last bit of fuel for yesterday’s US move was word out of Washington D.C. that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell foresees Congress passing another round of fiscal stimulus by the end of this month. The Senator had been fairly circumspect on wanting to see whether the economy needed further action before increasing federal spending, but signaled yesterday that it is indeed needed, saying “This is not over. We are seeing a resurgence in a lot of states… I think the country needs one last boost.” Senate Republicans have called a $3.5trl Democrat-sponsored bill that passed the House in May a nonstarter and are assembling a package with closer to $1trl in total spending.

    Asian markets are trading a bit more mixed this morning with the Nikkei (-0.45%) and Kospi (-0.27%) down while in contrast the Hang Seng (+0.12%), ASX (+0.68%) and Shanghai Comp (+1.32%) are up. The CSI 300 is also up +1.82% so there’s been little let up in the rally for Chinese equities and that comes despite China’s Securities Times striking a slight more balanced tone overnight by running a story suggesting that investors should be mindful of potential risks and not use the market as a way to make a fortune. Elsewhere, futures on the S&P 500 are down -0.18% and crude oil prices are down c. -0.30%. In terms of data out this morning, Japan’s May household spending fell by -16.2% yoy (vs. -11.8% expected), the biggest fall in data going back to 2001. This was even as businesses began to reopen and more people ventured out after a nationwide state of emergency was lifted.

    Here in the UK, details of Chancellor Sunak’s speech tomorrow are emerging slowly with Bloomberg reporting overnight that he will announce GBP3bn of investments into environmental projects. The treasury has already said that the Chancellor will also announce GBP1.6bn of measures for arts and culture sector as well as spending of c. GBP1bn on tripling the number of traineeships nationwide and doubling the number of work coaches in job centers.

    In other overnight news, Hong Kong asserted broad new police powers including warrant-less searches, online surveillance and property seizures under the new security law with City’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam saying that “This law will be enforced very stringently and people’s concerns will be eased.” Lam also reaffirmed that much of the implementation of the law would be managed in secret, saying that a committee created to oversee it wouldn’t release details from future meetings.

    Moving on. When it comes to the coronavirus, yesterday saw the typical slower Monday rise in new cases across many US states due to weekend effects. However the more concerning news for the country is that more states are seeing effective transmission rates (Rt) above 1.0 than in recent weeks. As of yesterday, rtlive estimated that 41 of the 50 states had an Rt value over 1.0, compared to roughly 30 over the past 2 weeks. There is a large amount of uncertainty however, as only one state has a confidence interval entirely under 1.0 (Connecticut) while just three have intervals entirely over 1.0 (WY, WI, MT), though Florida is very close. Specifically cases in Florida rose by a further 3.2% yesterday, but well under the weekly average of 5.1%. Monday has recently seen the week’s lowest daily rise in cases so we would expect to see a sharper rise over the coming days. A similar story emerged in Arizona where new cases rose by 3.4%, below the 4.1% 7 day average. The state also released confirmation that 61% of total cases involve people under 44 years old.

    Obviously we need to track the data carefully over the next couple of days as they’ll likely be some catch up from the long weekend in the US. For now you can see the latest state of play in our daily case and fatality tables by clicking “view report” at the top. This also shows that India is now the third most infected country, with confirmed cases nearly at 700K.

    Another asset class that did well yesterday was commodities, with Brent Crude up +0.70% near a 4-month high, copper rising a further +1.19% to reach a fresh 5-month high, and gold rising +0.49% to close at a 7-year high. Meanwhile in fixed income, there was a continued narrowing in sovereign bond spreads following last week’s moves. Indeed, the spread of Greek 10yr yields over bunds was down by -1.2bps to 158bps, its lowest level since worries about the pandemic in Europe began in earnest in late February. Core bond yields edged slightly higher however, with 10yr Treasuries up +0.7bps.

    Looking at Europe’s data releases yesterday, the main item was the Euro Area retail sales print for May, which surpassed expectations with a +17.8% increase, even if this is still down -5.1% on a year-on-year basis. Over in Germany, factory orders rose by a less-than-expected +10.5% in May (vs. +15.4% expected), with the year-on-year number still down -29.3%. Finally, we got the construction PMIs from Germany and the UK. The German reading only saw a small increase to 41.3, but in the UK there was a big jump to 55.3 (vs. 28.9 in May), its strongest reading since July 2018.

    To the day ahead now, and the data highlights include German industrial production and Italian retail sales for May, along with the US JOLTS job openings for the same month. Otherwise, central bank speakers include the Fed’s Bostic, Daly and Barkin, along with the BoE’s Haldane.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 12:01:18 +0000
  • American Judge Says He Is "Tentatively Inclined" To Reject Bayer's Monsanto Settlement
    American Judge Says He Is "Tentatively Inclined" To Reject Bayer's Monsanto SettlementTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 07:45

    As the EU's antitrust regulator announces another round of sweeping antitrust investigations into the big US tech behemoths. an American judge is apparently making noises about throwing out a major settlement involving German multinational pharma conglomerate Bayer. According to the settlement, which we reported on a few weeks ago when it was first announced, Bayer had agreed to pay $10 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits brought against it over its purchase of Monsanto, the American agrichemical giant that's best known for producing Roundup weed killer.

    The lawsuits stemmed from evidence that glyphosate, one of the primary ingredients of Monsanto's Roundup, is actually carcinogenic. Which means that by marketing Roundup into ubiquity, even pairing it with genetically modified crop seeds allowing farmers to spray the stuff then simply forget about it since it wouldn't harm the crops.

    A landmark California Court ruling handed down in 2017 found Bayer liable for the plaintiffs' cancers, since it now owned Monsanto. The mountain of litigation has weighed on Bayer's share price ever since, making the Monsanto acquisition one of the biggest blunders in the history of the storied German firm. The two sides have been in negotiations virtually ever since, until two weeks ago, when a majority of the plaintiffs agreed to a $10 billion settlement.

    BBG News:

    U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria wrote in a court filing Monday that a proposed system for dealing with future lawsuits over the herbicide is problematic. Shares of Bayer, which inherited the weedkiller through its purchase of Monsanto, fell as much as 6.9% in Frankfurt, the most intraday since March 23.

    The judge’s misgivings center on a plan to create a class of future claims as part of the nearly $11 billion settlement. Any change to that portion of the proposal wouldn’t necessarily affect the rest of the deal, in which the company agreed to resolve about 125,000 existing lawsuits.

    About 30,000 claims, contending that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, are not yet subject to deals between plaintiffs and Bayer. Some U.S. plaintiffs’ lawyers are vowing to file another wave of new suits that could add tens of thousands to that total.

    Chhabria set a July 24 hearing to consider the class-action proposal, which he said he’s “tentatively inclined” to reject. That portion of the plan would establish a scientific panel to determine whether Roundup’s active ingredient causes cancer, while still potentially allowing users of the herbicide to press claims.

    However, a minority of plaintiffs and their lawyers held out for a better deal, arguing that the $10BN settlement would preclude other victims from seeking compensation in the future. And now, apparently, a US judge agrees, and in an opinion filed on Monday, he is hinting at the possibility of striking down the proposed settlement, and forcing the two sides to start afresh.

    During the next round of talks, the plaintiffs would have much more leverage over Bayer, and would likely be able to negotiate a much more generous settlement.

    That's bad news for Bayer shareholders, as one analyst explained to Bloomberg.

    The judge’s filing reinforces concerns from investors that Bayer’s Roundup deal isn’t enough to get it beyond the mountain of litigation, Alistair Campbell, an analyst at Liberum Capital, said in a note. While Bayer’s market valuation is “deeply discounted” right now, that situation probably won’t change until the company can convince the market that it’s finally resolved the Roundup legal headache.

    It's also a long-overdue move by an American court to hold a European company accountable for alleged abuses perpetrated in the US, after the EU has spent so much time nitpicking every little violation committed by Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 11:45:16 +0000
  • White House "Looking Into" Banning TikTok, Pompeo Says
    White House "Looking Into" Banning TikTok, Pompeo SaysTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 07:16

    After an intrepid group of "TikTok Teens" purportedly sabotaged President Trump's Tulsa, Oklahoma campaign comeback rally by 'fraudulently' requesting "1 MILLION TICKETS" as Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale put it in a tweet when he announced the numbers. By doing this, the media narrative goes, the teens supposedly stopped thousands of eager Oklahoman Trump supporters (read: racists) from obtaining tickets to the rally.

    Of course, we later learned that it didn't really go down like that. And even NYT social media reporter Taylor Lorenz urged readers to accept her reporting with a grain of salt. Still, CNN was happy to run with the story.

    But before the liberals break out the ukeleles and start strumming the opening to "I Believe the Children are the Future", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News Host Larua Ingraham during a Monday evening interview that the administration is "looking into" the possibility of banning the app in the US.

    WaPo noted that Pompeo's interview, and his comments on TikTok, followed the TikTok teens sabotage campaign. But this is hardly the first time the secretary of state has warned about the dangers of using the app. At this point, we wouldn't be surprised to learn that the White House sees this as a bunch of gullible American teenagers being manipulated like a gang of 'useful idiots' by the CCP. Notably, Kellyanne Conway's teenage daughter is now using the app to thoroughly embarrass the bejeezus out of her mother by airing the family dirty laundry in public.

    India recently banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, and Ingraham was simply asking if the Trump Administration, which has been ratcheting up the pressure on China, might consider pursuing a similar tack.

    “We’re certainly looking at it,” Pompeo said, adding that the administration was taking the issue “very seriously.” “With the respect to Chinese apps on people’s cellphones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right.”

    But he added: "I don’t want to get out in front of the president, but it’s something we’re looking at.”

    Asked if he could endorse Americans downloading the app to their phones, Pompeo replied: "Only if you want your data in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party."

    If you have any doubts about whether TikTok is working to expand the influence of the CCP in the US, give this WSJ story published last month a read...

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 11:16:20 +0000
  • Ex-Reddit CEO Claims She Knew About Ghislaine Maxwell "Supplying Underage Girls For Sex" In 2011 - Then Locks Twitter Account
    Ex-Reddit CEO Claims She Knew About Ghislaine Maxwell "Supplying Underage Girls For Sex" In 2011 - Then Locks Twitter AccountTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 05:44

    Former Reddit CEO Ellen K. Pao admitted in a Sunday night tweet that she knew about Jeffrey Epstein 'madam' Ghislaine Maxwell procuring underage girls as far back as 2011.

    In response to a tweet in expressing relief at never having been photographed with Maxwell, Pao replied:

    "She was at the Kleiner holiday party in 2011, but I had no desire to meet her much less have a photo taken with her. We knew about her supplying underage girls for sex, but I guess that was fine with the "cool" people who managed the tightly controlled guest list"

    Shortly after sending the tweet, Pao locked her Twitter account.

    Perhaps Pao got a tap on the shoulder to let her know she just revealed herself as a potential witness in Maxwell's upcoming case - after she was charged with four criminal countsrelated to transporting and procuring minors for illegal sex acts, along with two counts of perjury (via Reuters).

    Maxwell has been accused by three women of procuring and training young girls to perform massage and sexual acts on Epstein and his associates, as well as participating in some of the alleged acts.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 09:44:00 +0000
  • BIS Innovation Hub: The Gradual March To Central Bank Digital Currency Continues To Advance
    BIS Innovation Hub: The Gradual March To Central Bank Digital Currency Continues To AdvanceTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 05:00

    Authored by Steven Guinness,

    This time last year when the Bank for International Settlements released their Annual Economic Report, it combined with the announcement of a new initiative called the ‘BIS Innovation Hub‘ (also known as ‘Innovation BIS 2025‘). The BIS refer to the Innovation Hub as a medium term project that comprises three main elements:

    • Identify and develop in-depth insights into critical trends in technology affecting central banking

    • Develop public goods in the technology space geared towards improving the functioning of the global financial system

    • Serve as a focal point for a network of central bank experts on innovation

    As you can see, technological innovation is at the core of the Hub’s remit.

    The initial phase of the project saw Hub’s opened up in Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore. An operational agreement was signed with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in September 2019, followed by an agreement with the Swiss National Bank in October. The Hub in Singapore began operations in November. 

    With phase one completed, the BIS have now moved into the second phase which they warned was going to happen when the Hub first launched. Accompanying the release of this year’s Annual Economic Report, the institution announced that the Hub is expanding to new locations in both Europe and North America.

    Over the next two years, the Bank of England will be opening a centre, along with the Bank of Canada, the European Central Bank and four Nordic central banks (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland). A ‘strategic partnership‘ will also be formed with the Federal Reserve System.

    East and West may appear divided in the geopolitical sphere, but in the world of central banking they are very much united behind the common goal of the Hub.

    As the BIS outlined in a press release, the expansion will ‘allow Innovation Hub to spur central bank work across multiple fintech pillars‘. General Manager Agustin Carstens confirmed that the ‘new centres will expand our reach significantly and help create a global force for fintech innovation‘.

    Most pointedly, however, the expansion, according to the Head of the Innovation Hub Benoit Coeure, will mean that it is ‘well placed to advance work on a broad range of issues of importance to the central banking community, including digital currency and digital payments‘. Coeure also cited distributed ledger technology as a key aspect of the Hub’s work.

    In October 2019 I posted an article about the Hub (Innovation BIS 2025: A Stepping Stone Towards an Economic ‘New World Order’) and argued how the introduction of it tied directly into the agenda for implementing a network of central bank digital currencies over the next few years. I followed up this article with another which offered more detail on the Innovation Hub (BIS Announce New Appointments and Launch Singapore Hub Centre).

    To add more weight to the idea that the Hub exists to help facilitate a CBDC future, Agustin Carstens mentioned on presenting the BIS Annual Economic Report that ‘if CBDCs are to fulfil their potential and promise as a new means of payment, their design and implications deserve close study and consideration. The BIS will continue supporting central banks in their CBDC research and design efforts, through the new BIS Innovation Hub, its committees, and broader analytical work.’

    This comment followed what Carstens said in the BIS’ quarterly review:

    As the Hub gathers experience, a home-grown agenda will quickly be developed. A key question informing the BIS Innovation Hub’s work is whether money itself needs to be reinvented for a changing environment, or whether the emphasis should be on improving the way it is provided and used.

    As I have written about previously, central banks have now begun to outline specific technical details on how a CBDC could be built (A Look at CBDC Developments at the Bank of England – Part One). This comes as global payment systems are being reformed so as to be compatible with blockchain and distributed ledger technology – a process that is earmarked for completion around 2024.

    With the events of the past few months, it is impossible to discuss CBDC’s without factoring in the impact of Covid-19. This appears increasingly to be the major international crisis that global planners hope will catalyse the move into a fully digital economic system. And the BIS Innovation Hub is ideally placed to respond.

    In remarks made in April, Benoit Coeure asked whether the pandemic would ‘accelerate the shift towards virtual banking‘. Musing on his own question, Coeure stated that ‘in the next months and years, the BIS Innovation Hub will remain busy scanning technological trends in finance and their consequences for central banks and financial regulators‘.

    The importance of the Hub to the CBDC agenda is there to see, particularly with the onset of Covid-19. A line in the BIS Annual Economic Report supports what Coeure had to say:

    The Covid-19 crisis, and the attendant rise of electronic payments, are likely to boost CBDC development across the globe.

    IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva recently told Italy’s National Consultation that ‘digital is a big winner in this crisis‘ and that the pandemic may have ‘accelerated the digital transformation by two or three years‘.

    The BIS insist, however, that research on CBDC’s is ‘still in its early stages, and development efforts will take some time‘.

    From my perspective, by 2025 CBDC’s will begin to be introduced, initially in conjunction with cash. But the long term objective is for the abolition of all tangible financial assets to be replaced with intangible wealth. The BIS attempted to convey in their annual report that a CBDC would prove as a ‘digital complement to physical cash‘. Perhaps to begin with, but nobody should deceive themselves into believing that cash has any sustainable future if and when CBDC’s are offered to the general public.

    To reinforce this notion, this is what Agustin Carstens stated during a speech at the Central Bank of Ireland in March 2019:

    Like cash, a CBDC could and would be available 24/7, 365 days a year. At first glance, not much changes for someone, say, stopping off at the supermarket on the way home from work. He or she would no longer have the option of paying cash. All purchases would be electronic.

    What central banks (in line with state legislatures) are not going to do is simply outlaw cash when CBDC’s become available. I believe what they want is for banknotes to dwindle to a level where they can make the argument that the servicing costs of maintaining the cash infrastructure outweigh the amount of cash still in circulation and being used for payment.

    An Access to Cash report published in the UK last year warned that because of bank branch closures and the decline of ATM’s, Britain’s cash network was at real risk of collapsing. Introduce a CBDC into the equation and you can see how cash will soon be deemed nonviable. Those who might opt to use cash over a digital currency would eventually have no other option than to transfer their money into a CBDC.

    One of the main goals of global planners is to target what they call the ‘unbanked‘ or the ‘underbanked‘. In other words, those who exist largely outside of the financial system and trade anonymously. The BIS Annual Report declared that 1.7 billion adults and hundreds of millions of firms ‘are tied to cash as their only means of payment‘. That is one fifth of the world’s population that central banks are seeking to bring into their world – a digital only construct in which the only alternative is a life of destitution.

    Essentially, the central banking fraternity will want to be able to pinpoint the abolition of cash on the advancement of technology and the changing payment habits of the consumer, thereby taking the emphasis off themselves.

    With regards to changing consumer behaviour, the unproven fear perpetuated throughout the media that cash could transmit Covid-19 has successfully managed to undermine cash to the point where a large swathe of people have stopped using it. The latest statistics from Link show that in the UK transaction volume is down 47% on this time last year.

    Over time, central banks will be able to use a sustained reduction in demand for cash to their advantage. As Yves Mersch of the European Central Bank mentioned in May, ‘if our customers, the people of Europe signalled a change in payments behaviour, we would want to preserve their direct link to the ultimate owner of our currency by maintaining their access to central bank liabilities‘.

    The owner being the central bank, the liabilities being a CBDC.

    The ideological agenda of central banks to digitise the entirety of the world’s financial system and to maintain their power base is being spearheaded by the Bank for International Settlements through their Innovation Hub. Unless people begin to recognise where the manipulation and growth in the CBDC narrative is coming from, and how there is a targeted agenda to guide the world into a cashless society, global planners will in the years to come get their way.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 09:00:00 +0000
  • Nigerian Instagram "Star" Arrested After Conspiring To Steal Hundreds Of Millions Using E-Mail Hacking Scams
    Nigerian Instagram "Star" Arrested After Conspiring To Steal Hundreds Of Millions Using E-Mail Hacking ScamsTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 04:15

    A Nigerian social media star named "Hushpuppi" was extradited to the U.S. from Dubai late last week to face fraud charges, including allegations of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The "star", whose actual name is Ramon Olorunwa Abbas has 2.4 million followers on Instagram, according to BloombergHave you ever heard of him? No. Us neither. 

    Regardless, his schtick seemed to be regularly posting photographs of himself on private planes and in luxury cars, while wearing expensive designer clothing. 

    But on July 2, he was flown to Chicago and the next day was posing next to a judge.

    The U.S. Department of Justice says he now faces charges “alleging he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from ‘business email compromise’ (BEC) frauds and other scams.”

    According to the DOJ, "The affidavit alleges that Abbas and others committed a BEC scheme that defrauded a client of a New York-based law firm out of approximately $922,857 in October 2019. Abbas and co-conspirators allegedly tricked one of the law firm’s paralegals into wiring money intended for the client’s real estate refinancing to a bank account that was controlled by Abbas and the co-conspirators."

    In BEC frauds, a computer hacker gains unauthorized access to a company's e-mail account and tries to trick staff into wiring out money. 

    The DOJ release continues: "The affidavit also alleges that Abbas conspired to launder funds stolen in a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution in February 2019, in which the stolen money was sent to bank accounts around the world. Abbas allegedly provided a co-conspirator with two bank accounts in Europe that Abbas anticipated each would receive €5 million (about $5.6 million) of the fraudulently obtained funds."

    Finally, he is accused to trying to scam an English Premier League football club out of $124 million: "Abbas and others further conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from other fraudulent schemes and computer intrusions, including one scheme to steal £100 million (approximately $124 million) from an English Premier League soccer club, the complaint alleges."

    “BEC schemes are one of the most difficult cybercrimes we encounter as they typically involve a coordinated group of con artists scattered around the world who have experience with computer hacking and exploiting the international financial system,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna.

    “This case targets a key player in a large, transnational conspiracy who was living an opulent lifestyle in another country while allegedly providing safe havens for stolen money around the world. As this case demonstrates, my office will continue to hold such criminals accountable, no matter where they live.”

    He was arrested last month in Dubai and was handed over to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.He has yet to hire a lawyer and was last represented by a public defender. Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says they are also investigating. 

    He faces up to 20 years in the U.S. if convicted of conspiring to engage in money laundering. 

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 08:15:00 +0000
  • Atlanta Mayor Announces Positive COVID Test Hours After Governor Declares State Of Emergency
    Atlanta Mayor Announces Positive COVID Test Hours After Governor Declares State Of EmergencyTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 03:49

    Hours after Kemp declared a state of emergency, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced over Twitter that she has COVID-19.

    *  *  *

    Georgia governor Brian Kemp (R) has declared a state of emergency and authorized the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops due to a sharp increase in violent crime and property destruction in the city of Atlanta.

    Five people were killed in shootings over the Fourth of July weekend, including an 8-year-old girl who was shot dead inside a car during a BLM protest. 30 more were wounded over the holiday weekend.

    The National Guard troops will be dispatched to three locations in the city: The state Capitol, which has been the focus of protests over statues of segregationists and Civil War leaders; the Governor’s Mansion in Buckhead; and the recently-vandalized Department of Public Safety building in southeast Atlanta.


    The governor’s aides earlier Monday said his emergency powers grant him the authority to deploy Georgia National Guard troops to Atlanta’s streets. He took that step in late May, after widespread looting and violence, at Bottoms' request. -AJC

    "Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead," said Kemp. who threatened on Sunday to "take Action" if Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms couldn't control the unrest, according to AJC. '

    Georgia has seen violent protests, looting and violence since the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Rayshard Brooks at an Atlanta drive-thru. In late May, rioters vandalized CNN's headquarters, broke into the College Football Hall of Fame and looted it, and started fires throughout the city.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 07:49:00 +0000
  • Israel Challenges Iran By Launching Reconnaissance Satellite Into Space
    Israel Challenges Iran By Launching Reconnaissance Satellite Into SpaceTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 03:30


    Israel announced on Monday that it had successfully launched a reconnaissance satellite into space in its first experiment in this field. The announcement came from the spokesperson of the Israeli army, Avichay Adraee, who tweeted:

    “The Ministry of Defense confirmed that the space administration at the Research and Development Directorate and the Space Industries Authority succeeded by launching the Horizon 16 reconnaissance satellite into space, at four in the morning Jerusalem time.”

    July 6th Shavit rocket launched while carrying the Ofek 16 reconnaissance satellite. Image source: Israeli Ministry of Defense

    Adraee continued: “I am talking about an electric optical survey satellite that is equipped with advanced technical capabilities, and it will be subjected in the near future to a series of tests to determine its suitability and performance level.”

    This move by Israel comes just a few months after Iran successfully launched its first satellite into orbit.

    In a signal to Israel's regional enemies, the Israeli Army spokesman issued messages hailing the launch in Arabic and other regional languages:

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to hint at this while hailing the successful launch. He said the launch “very much increases our ability to act against Israel’s enemies, near and far alike. It greatly expands our ability to act on land, at sea, in the air and also in space.”

    And an Israeli Air Force space program official said of the launch:

    “Our network of satellites lets us watch the entire Middle East and even a bit more than that.” 

    Successful April 22 launch by Iran, via Reuters.

    The Iranian launch, which was condemned by the United States and its allies, marked the first time that the Islamic Republic was able to successfully send a satellite into orbit.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 07:30:00 +0000
  • Russia & Greece Slam Turkey For Plans To Turn Hagia Sophia Church Into A Mosque 
    Russia & Greece Slam Turkey For Plans To Turn Hagia Sophia Church Into A Mosque Tyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 02:45

    Greece and Turkey are once again at odds over the fate of one of Christendom's largest and oldest churches, built under Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, and surviving changing empires throughout history.

    The Church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was - prior to the Turkish takeover of Byzantium in 1453 - Constantinople's most famous church and center of the Orthodox Christian world. Under the modern Turkish state it's gone from mosque to museum to 'protected' UNESCO world heritage site, despite still being considered by Greece and Greek visitors, as well as Russian pilgrims, a church.

    But now Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and lawmakers are eyeing changing its status back to a mosque, which has outraged Athens. Russia has also chimed in, with both the Kremlin and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill condemning any potential move to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque. 

    Hagia Sophia file image, via Greek City Times

    "We by all means hope that Hagia Sophia’s status as a world heritage site will be taken into consideration," a Kremlin spokesman said Monday.

    "Of course, this is a world masterpiece beloved by tourists coming to Turkey from all over the world and especially by tourists from Russia who not only recognize Hagia Sophia’s tourist value but also it’s sacred spiritual value," he added.

    Turkey's top court is said to still be debating the move. There are still multiple tens of thousands of indigenous Christians in Istanbul and in parts of Anatolia, mostly Greek, Syriac, and and some few remnant Armenian Christians. These ancient communities say Erdogan has newly unleashed a war on Turkey's Christians

    The Russian Orthodox Church slammed the potential Turkish move as "unacceptable" and a "violation of religious freedom". The statement said: "We can't go back to the Middle Ages now"  referencing centuries where Ottoman policy severely suppressed Christians throughout Asia Minor. 

    The controversy has unleashed a storm on social media, which has included those against turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque envisioning it as a church once again:

    Erdogan however, has interpreted it as a matter of "asserting Turkey's sovereignty" over the site. Turkey argues that it can legally do what it wants with monuments and historic places within its sovereign territory.

    Mike Pompeo has even weighed in on the side of the Greek government, urging that it be kept as a museum. 

    “We urge the government of Turkey to continue to maintain the Hagia Sophia as a museum, as an exemplar of its commitment to respect Turkey’s diverse faith traditions and history, and to ensure it remains accessible to all,” the US Secretary of State said within the last weeks.

    Echoing Greek politicians, the leader of the Orthodox Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos II, issued a provocative statement saying of the Turks, "they won't dare!"

    Greek television quoted the top clergyman as saying: "They (the Turks) play whatever games are in hand. This is one more game. I believe they won't dare."

    Critics of Erdogan and his AKP have long said he and the party have Islamist and neo-Ottoman aspirations. One prominent lawyer and human rights activist with UN Watch commented that:

    Turkey now occupies more Arab territories Syria, Iraq, Libya than any other country in the world. Yet when the U.N.'s human rights council next week will hold its regular debate on "Occupied Arab Territories," Turkey's name won't be mentioned even once. Isn't that odd?

    Turkey has also lately caused tensions within the NATO alliance, especially over Libya policy and repeat violations of a UN arms embargo.

    Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, or ancient Constantinople, public domain image.

    Turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque after almost a century as a museum would be but one more symbolic provocation, albeit a serious one further worsening Greece-Turkey relations, and risking Moscow's wrath as well.

    Meanwhile, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople - who represents the Orthodox Church and its some 300 million adherents worldwide, is still in residence in Istanbul. He and his predecessors have been barred from using Hagia Sophia as a place of prayer since the 15th century, though over the years there's been a few provocative instances where Greek clergy were said to have stealthily entered the now museum to "illegally" conduct Christian worship.

    * * *

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 06:45:00 +0000
  • Slavery Rampant In Africa, Middle East; The West Wrongly Accuses Itself
    Slavery Rampant In Africa, Middle East; The West Wrongly Accuses ItselfTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 02:00

    Authored by Giulio Meotti via The Gatestone Institute,

    The United States abolished slavery 150 years ago, and has affirmative action for minorities. It is the country that elected a Black president, Barack Obama -- twice! Yet, a new movement is toppling one historic monument after another one, as if the US is still enslaving African-Americans. Activists in Washington DC even targeted an Emancipation Memorial, depicting President Abraham Lincoln, who paid with his life for freeing slaves.

    Today slavery still exists in many parts of Africa and Middle East, but the self-flagellating Western public is obsessively focused only on the Western past of African slavery rather than on real, ongoing slavery, which is alive and well -- and ignored. For today's slaves, there are no demonstrations in the streets, no international political pressure, and virtually no articles in the media.

    "We must not forget that Arab-Muslims have been champions in this field," Kamel Bencheikh, a Muslim poet, wrote in Le Matin d'Algerie.

    "Emirs and sultans bought entire convoys of young black ephebes to make into eunuchs to guard their harems. And this continued with Ottoman emperors.... Even today, Mauritania and Saudi Arabia are still housing their own Ku Klux Klan. Slavery is still the order of the day in Nouakchott [Mauritania]. As for Riad, all you have to do is find out about young Asian girls that the potentates hire as maidservants".

    An investigation by BBC Arabic found that domestic workers in Saudi Arabia are even being sold online in a slave market that is booming.

    According to Bencheikh, George Floyd's death was an opportunity for many in Europe to turn a respectable fight into an unimaginable depravity.

    "So, on the Place de la République in Paris or the Avenue Louise in Brussels, there are vengeful thugs, fed with hatred, taking advantage of the allotments that these two countries offer them, and attacking the past of those who enabled them to free themselves from their dictatorships...

    "In France and Belgium, we do not execute apostates, crucify heterodox people, throw stones at unfaithful women, spit at heretics...

    "... this anti-racism is biting its tail to turn into racism. You only have to see the angry crowd, the drool on their lips, to realize that we are dealing with people who have come to insult the white man guilty of having had, more than a hundred years ago, inappropriate gestures or shameful thoughts, and to insist, like the wolf in La Fontaine who said to the lamb: 'If not you, then your brother'... Totalitarianism is among us again".

    He calls it a "Stalinism of communitarianism (sectarian politics) that makes itself into an indigenous victimization". People who fled from Bouteflika and Gaddafi, the oppressors and tyrants of Kinshasa and Niamey, "come and spit incomprehensible hatred in Paris or Brussels".

    Bencheikh's article shows just one brave group of dissidents in the Islamic world who are defending the West better than the Westerners are doing. These dissidents love freedom of expression and conscience; they know the difference between democracy and dictatorship; they enjoy religious tolerance, pluralism in the public sphere, and they outspokenly criticize the practice of Islam from which they fled. They also know that arousing historic and racial resentment is a dangerous game. For political Islam, their voices are revealing and devastating. For Western multiculturalism, they are "heretical" and annoying. Le Figaro pointed to this paradox: "Seen by their communities as 'traitors', they are accused by the elites in the West of 'stigmatizing'".

    In The Spectator, Nick Cohen, explained:

    "In the liberal orientalist world view the only 'authentic' Muslim is a barbarian. A battery of insults fires on any Muslim who says otherwise. They are 'neo-conservatives,' 'native informants,' and 'Zionists': they are as extreme as jihadists they oppose, or, let's face it, worse...".

    Like Bencheikh, Algerian author Mohammed Sifaoui reminds all of us that "Mauritania, in North Africa, is the most slavery-supporting country in the world today. Qatar in the Middle East is as well, just as much, [as is] Saudi Arabia, under the banner of the Guardians of the Holy Places of Islam".

    The author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who fled her homeland of Somalia and now live in the US, writes:

    "What the media do not tell you is that America is the best place on the planet to be black, female, gay, trans or what have you. We have our problems and we need to address those. But our society and our systems are far from racist".

    Black, female and gay, the apex of "intersectionality." According to Andrew Sullivan:

    "'Intersectionality' is the latest academic craze sweeping the American academy. On the surface, it's a recent neo-Marxist theory that argues that social oppression does not simply apply to single categories of identity such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. but to all of them in an interlocking system of hierarchy and power. "

    For the intersectional activists, the US is the world's biggest oppressor. Not Saudi Arabia or Iran. Hirsi Ali, who fled Somalia and experienced female genital mutilation, knows about oppression better than anti-statues activists. According to Hirsi Ali, writing in The Wall Street Journal:

    "When I hear it said that the U.S. is defined above all by racism, when I see books such as Robin DiAngelo's 'White Fragility' top the bestseller list, when I read of educators and journalists being fired for daring to question the orthodoxies of Black Lives Matter then I feel obliged to speak up... America looks different if you grew up, as I did, in Africa and the Middle East".

    Writing in Le Monde and Le Point, Algerian writer Kamel Daoud indicted this hypocrisy. "There is an instinct for death in the air of the total revolution", Daoud notes.

    "According to some, the West is guilty by definition, we find ourselves not in a demand for change but, little by little, in [a demand for] destruction, the restoration of a barbarity of revenge".

    Daoud calls these "anti-Western Soviet-style trials".

    "It is forbidden to say that the West is also the place to which we flee when we want to escape the injustice of our country of origin, dictatorship, war, hunger, or simply boredom. It is fashionable to say that the West is guilty of everything".

    In Le Point, Daoud states that "with the great announcement of antiracism, the Inquisition returns".

    Daoud has been accused by twenty leftist academics, in an appeal in Le Monde, of "orientalist clichés" and "colonialist paternalism". This new accusation of racism serves publicly to shame, mark and disqualify a politician or an intellectual who comments with too much frankness on the damage of multiculturalism.

    Zineb el Rhazoui, a Moroccan-born anti-Islamist French journalist facing death threats, recently said:

    "The only racism I suffer from comes from North Africans. For the Algerians, I am a Moroccan whore. For Moroccans, I am an Algerian whore. For both, a 'whore of the Jews'".

    Arabs threaten other Arabs for speaking the truth about real racism and Islamization. They are the invisible victims of racism in France. Rhazoui claimed that "France is one of the most tolerant and least racist country in the world" and that real threat is not racism, but communitarism [importance placed on groups rather than individuals], denounced as well by French President Emmanuel Macron.

    The Iranian writer Abnousse Shalmani, born in Tehran but now living in Paris, said to Le Figaro:

    "The new anti-racism is racism disguised as humanism (...) What resonates in this discourse is the prison of victimization....It implies that every white person is bad -- as witnessed by the recent debunking of the statues of Victor Schoelcher, father of the abolition of slavery, in Martinique -- and that every black person is a victim".

    While the economist Thomas Piketty, in Le Monde, invited the West to make amends for its colonial past, the Franco-Senegalese author, Fatou Diome, called for the abandonment of a discourse on decolonization:

    "It is an emergency for those who do not yet know that they are free. I do not consider myself colonized. The catchphrase on colonization and slavery has become a business".

    The "ideology" is simple: colonialism is supposedly still at work, people from formerly colonized countries continue to be oppressed, in particular Muslims who are said to be targets of a "racist" and "Islamophobic" hate. In this view, "White Western males" are always the oppressors, and the minorities are always victims.

    A prominent anti-racism campaigner, Rokhaya Diallo, has said that France is "racist" in an opposition between "the dominator" and "the dominated". It is a view that sees racism everywhere, especially where it does not exist. It has also produced many of the disasters of multiculturalism throughout Europe by making it impossible to criticize the consequences of mass immigration and Islamist separatism. The French author Pascal Bruckner has called this stance "imaginary racism". It is a penitential creation that leads the public in the West -- even though presumably no one in the West either was a slave or had a slave -- to believe that anti-Western hatred is deserved.

    The border between this Marxist view, in which someone always has to be a victim, has become porous with Islamism. In the movement named after Adama Traoré, the "French George Floyd", you will find an alliance of organizations such as SOS Racisme and Muslim Salafists. Human rights organizations also rally with the "Union of Islamic Organization of France", considered fundamentalist.

    Manuel Valls, the former French prime minister, in an interview with Valuers Actuelles magazine said, "Human rights associations have been lost and have opened the doors to Tariq Ramadan". This instead of taking the side of the many great Muslim reformers. Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes:

    "Reformers such as Asra Nomani, Irshad Manji, Tawfiq Hamid, Maajid Nawaz, Zuhdi Jasser, Saleem Ahmed, Yunis Qandil, Seyran Ates, Bassam Tibi and Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari must be supported and protected... These reformers should be as well known in the West as Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov and Havel were generations earlier." Instead, so-called human rights associations, politicians and the media have chosen to back political Islam.

    By contrast, a group of 12 writers put their names to a statement in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo warning against Islamic "totalitarianism".

    "After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global totalitarian threat: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all".

    Among the 12 signatories, eight came from the Islamic world.

    These anti-Islamist Muslim intellectuals were not born free; they fled dictatorships for democracies, where they still suffer death threats and abuses, but where they are far freer and prouder of the West than those Westerners who know only freedom but now practice a dreadful feeing of guilt -- mostly for things they did not do.

    The West not only turns its back the new slave markets; the UN Human Rights Council actually welcomes states such as Sudan, where tens of thousands of women and children from mostly Christian villages were enslaved during Jihadi raids; Kenya and Nigeria, where the police last fall rescued hundreds of men and boys chained in an Islamic school; Pakistan, where Christians are condemned to servitude, and Mauritania, where two in every 100 people are still held as slaves. It is the same UN Human Rights Council that now, thanks to pressure by African countries, wants to investigate "systemic racism in the US". US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted:

    "If the Council were honest, it would recognize the strengths of American democracy and urge authoritarian regimes around the world to model American democracy and to hold their nations to the same high standards of accountability and transparency that we Americans apply to ourselves".

    It is high time for the United States to stop funding the United Nations. The United Nations is being used to perpetuate injustice, not stop it.

    Real slave traders and racists -- those who believe Western societies and values should not exist at all -- most likely look at the current Western self-flagellation and cheer their approval.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 06:00:00 +0000
  • China Touts "Aircraft Carrier Killer" Missiles As US Supercarriers Operate In South China Sea
    China Touts "Aircraft Carrier Killer" Missiles As US Supercarriers Operate In South China SeaTyler DurdenTue, 07/07/2020 - 01:00

    China has slammed what it calls the United States flexing its muscles in the South China Sea to try to provoke tensions and conflict among countries of the region. But the Pentagon has called the maneuvers by two supercarriers sent to the region days ago, namely the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz, an act of standing up “for the right of all nations to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows” and further as a “symbol of resolve”.

    Each carrier has 90 or more aircraft and about 6,000 personnel, making it a significant display of force off China's coast. Given this, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is said to be tracking their movements closely, with Chinese vessels said to be within eyesight of the US carriers. 

    The carriers have been conducting flight drills since exercises commenced on July 4. Nimitz commander Rear Admiral James Kirk told reporters in a telephone interview: “They have seen us and we have seen them” - in reference to a nearby Chinese flotilla.

    Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is one of two currently operating in the South China Sea.

    Interestingly, the US Navy and Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times had an exchange this weekend after on Sunday GT issued a veiled threat hyping Beijing's advanced missile arsenal. China has a wide selection of anti-aircraft carrier weapons like DF-21D and DF-26 "aircraft carrier killer" missiles, the state-run paper said. 

    It then said any aircraft carrier movement in the region“is at the pleasure of PLA”.

    “And yet, there they are,” the Navy Chief of Information Twitter account posted, saying the US ships “are not intimidated” because their exercises and navigation are “at our discretion”.

    The carriers are holding some of the Navy's largest exercises in recent years in the area, which is frequently beset upon by American destroyers sailing within 12 miles of certain islands developed by China that are the subject of competing international claims.

    The exercises also involve four other warships as well, along with round-the-clock fights and missions.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 05:00:00 +0000
  • Why No One Should Believe COVID-19 Is Naturally Occurring
    Why No One Should Believe COVID-19 Is Naturally OccurringTyler DurdenMon, 07/06/2020 - 23:40

    Authored by Lawrence Sellin via,

    After six months of exhaustive investigation, the global scientific community has been unable to identify the natural source of COVID-19, that is, the when, where and how it "jumped" from animals to humans.

    Some now imply that we may never know the natural origin of COVID-19.

    In a news article recently published by the international science journal Nature, the progress, or lack thereof, identifying the natural source of COVID-19 was reviewed.

    According to the article, COVID-19 probably originated in bats, specifically horseshoe bats, which host two closely related coronaviruses, named RaTG13 and RmYN02, whose genomes are 96% and 93% identical to COVID-19, respectively.

    Both coronavirus samples were isolated from bats in Yunnan Province, RaTG13 in 2013 and RmYN02 in 2019, and were studied in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

    Wuhan is where the outbreak of COVID-19 originated and about 1,000 miles from Yunnan.

    The Nature article does not mention that RaTG13 is actually a duplicate of another bat coronavirus, BtCoV/4991, about which there is nearly no published experimental data since it was isolated in 2013, despite clearly being a Potential Pandemic Pathogen.

    That is, except for the structure, analyzed only by Chinese scientists, practically nothing is known about RaTG13.

    The Nature article also does not mention that the receptor-binding domain of RmYN02 showed only a 61.3% sequence identity with COVID-19, meaning it is highly unlikely that RmYN02 could even bind to human cells.

    The Nature article suggests that pangolins (scaly anteaters), might be an intermediate host because some pangolin coronaviruses “share up to 92% of their genomes” with COVID-19, presumably bridging the gap between bats and humans.

    When asked about that possibility, Dr Ralph Baric, a coronavirus expert from the University of North Carolina, in a March 15, 2020 interview, stated unequivocally that pangolins were not the source of COVID-19:

    “Pangolins have over 3,000 nucleotide changes - no way they are the reservoir species [for COVID-19], absolutely no chance.”

    Nevertheless, the receptor-binding domain of COVID-19 is structurally closer to pangolins than bats indicating a recombinant event, in this case, likely artificial.

    In fact, Ralph Baric and Zheng-Li Shi, the “bat woman” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, conducted just such an artificial receptor-binding domain insertion from a newly isolated bat coronavirus (SHC014) onto the “backbone” from SARS-CoV, the coronavirus responsible for the 2003 pandemic.

    In a December 9, 2019 interview, Dr Peter Daszak, President of the EcoHealth Alliance and a long-time collaborator with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, presumably referring to the Ralph Baric- Zheng-Li Shi experiments, stated “you can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily” inserting a spike protein “into a backbone of another virus.”

    Thus, an artificial recombinant event carried out in the laboratory would be a far better explanation of pangolin-like structures appearing on a bat coronavirus backbone than one occurring in nature, at least given the current state of knowledge.

    The most conspicuous sign of COVID-19 genetic manipulation is the presence of a furin polybasic cleavage site, a structure that is not present in any of the coronaviruses so far identified as possible direct ancestors.

    The authors of the RmYN02 article stretch credulity even further by claiming that RmYN02 has a precursor cleavage site.

    In reality, it is a weak attempt to offer a naturally-occurring explanation for the presence of the furin polybasic cleavage site in COVID-19.

    Unfortunately, the amino acid sequence PAA, the insertion cited by the authors, is chemically neutral, totally unlike COVID-19's polybasic PRRAR sequence and PAA has no ability to cleave anything.

    Based on the actual evidence, it is unlikely that RmYN02 is a natural close relative of COVID-19.

    Although COVID-19 appears to have been “pre-adapted” for human infection, the artificial insertion of the furin polybasic cleavage site may explain a potentially significant point mutation in COVID-19 that may have increased its infectivity.

    According to the article “The D614G mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein reduces S1 shedding and increases infectivity,”, over the course of the human pandemic, one amino acid position has changed from aspartic acid to glycine, increasing the stability of the spike protein and, thereby, making COVID-19 more infectious.

    As suggested by the authors, that mutation may have been what is known as a “positive selection” to compensate for the structural instability created after the artificial insertion of the furin polybasic cleavage site.

    The burden of proof is now on China to demonstrate that COVID-19 is naturally-occurring because most of the available evidence indicates otherwise.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 03:40:00 +0000
  • Why Zuck Doesn't Give A F**k About The Virtue-Signaling Ad Boycott
    Why Zuck Doesn't Give A F**k About The Virtue-Signaling Ad BoycottTyler DurdenMon, 07/06/2020 - 23:20

    More companies are cancelling their Facebook advertising campaigns amid the #StopHateForProfit boycott, a movement aiming to hold social media and tech companies like Facebook accountable for hate speech and online harassment on their platforms.

    However, as Statista's Willem Roper notes, while large companies like Target, Microsoft, Starbucks and others are removing ads from Facebook, revenue data for the social media giant shows just how little it affects the company’s overall advertising profits.

    Infographic: Boycotts Only a Fraction of Total Facebook Revenue | Statista

    You will find more infographics at Statista

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the top eight boycotting companies by spending made up just $57 million of Facebook’s advertising revenue in May. Microsoft, the largest, spent roughly $10.4 million, and Starbucks was right behind with around $8.1 million. Those top eight were just over 10 percent of what the top 100 U.S. advertisers spent on Facebook for the month. Compare those numbers to $34 billion – what Facebook made from just U.S. and Canada companies in 2019. Globally, Facebook made nearly $70 billion in 2019 from advertising revenue alone.

    While large companies boycotting Facebook attract news headlines, these numbers show that they have very little impact on the company’s overall advertising revenue.

    The Wall Street Journal also showed how 76 percent of Facebook’s total $69 billion in global advertising revenue is from small to medium-sized companies, with just 24 percent from larger corporations and companies.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 03:20:00 +0000
  • Should Professional Athletes Be More Worried About COVID-19 Or Lightning?
    Should Professional Athletes Be More Worried About COVID-19 Or Lightning?Tyler DurdenMon, 07/06/2020 - 23:00

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

    Znamya Truda, a Russian professional soccer team, has announced that Ivan Zaborovsky, a goalkeeper for the team, went to intensive care after being struck by lightning during training.

    People being seriously harmed or killed by lightning strikes is rare. In America, the United States government’s National Weather Service relays that, in the ten years of 2009 through 2018, there were an average of 27 deaths and 243 estimated injuries each year from lightning countrywide. While the risk of an individual being struck by lightning is real, it is also quite small. The National Weather Service lays out the likelihood as follows: a one in 1,222,000 chance of being struck by lightning in a given year and a one in 15,300 chance of being struck in one’s lifetime.

    A professional athlete like Zaborovsky being injured by lightning is a very unusual occurrence. In contrast, we hear regularly of professional athletes from just about every sport testing positive for coronavirus. In the National Basketball Association (NBA), for example, 25 players, about seven percent of NBA players, have tested positive for coronavirus in testing of players in the last couple weeks. Plenty of athletes in other professional sports leagues have also tested positive. Other professional sports players surely have had coronavirus but were never tested because they had no to minor health issues at the time.

    Where are the many intensive care hospitalizations and deaths among these athletes who have had coronavirus? We are not hearing about that.

    This makes sense given that coronavirus tends not to be a major threat to people the more healthy and young they are.

    [ZH: In case you need a little more context on the COVID fatality rates, Holger Zschaepitz tweeted the following stunning chart: ]

    For many top athletes in their 20s and 30s it may make more sense to be worried about being struck by lightning than about having coronavirus. And, for competitors in outdoor sports, the threat from lightning can be well above that experienced by the average person. Many professional athletes, weighing the risks, may find it is a better decision to stay inside on occasion because of a thunderstorm than to avoid practicing and competing in their sports for an extended period because of worry about coronavirus.

    It could be a drag for professional sports players to stay indoors now and then for a few minutes to a few hours to ensure they are not struck by lightning. Many of them may find doing so to be excessively cautious, especially if it prevents them from doing something they see as particularly important or desirable. In comparison, players may see eliminating their ability to compete for a significant chunk of their prime athletic years to refrain from using and developing the skills they have dedicated their lives to mastering as a tragedy, especially when that restriction is imposed due to a disease that is nearly certain not to threaten them with major negative health consequences.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 03:00:00 +0000
  • Watch Putin's Limo Brand, Aurus, Crash Test Luxury Car At High-Rate Of Speed 
    Watch Putin's Limo Brand, Aurus, Crash Test Luxury Car At High-Rate Of Speed Tyler DurdenMon, 07/06/2020 - 22:40

    Russian carmaker Aurus, best known for producing President Vladimir Putin's new bulletproof limo, recently released a video showing one of its sedans slamming into a barrier at a high rate of speed with crash dummies inside.

    The video was first released via Russian broadcaster Zvezda, and then reported by Sputnik, which shows two mannequins, one in the driver's seat and another in the front passenger seat of the sedan, crashing into a barrier at 64kph (40mph). 

    The luxury sedan, listed for a quarter-million dollars, or about 18 million rubles, had the front end completely crushed from the impact. However, both mannequins remained in the car, protected from a full coverage airbag system. 

    Russia has dumped $190.6 million, or about 12 billion rubles, into the Aurus car program (includes a limousine, a sedan, a minivan, and an SUV). The automaker is set to begin series production of Putin's bulletproof limo this year, which will be marketed to heads of states around the world. 

    Aurus Senat 

    Aurus Senat 

    Aurus Limo

    Aurus Arsenal

    Aurus Arsenal

    Last year, Aurus sent the limo to Siberia for rugged testing, operated in -50°C (-58°F) conditions. 

    Aurus in Siberia 

    Russia is trying to diversify its oil economy - now attempting to compete with high-end luxury automotive brands like Rolls Royce and Bentley.  

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 02:40:00 +0000
  • Behind China's Takeover Of Hong Kong: The Pearl River Delta Megacity
    Behind China's Takeover Of Hong Kong: The Pearl River Delta MegacityTyler DurdenMon, 07/06/2020 - 22:20

    By Mustafa Zaidi, Research Director at Clarmond Wealth

    As Hong Kong was being handed over in early July 1997, my old colleague and I began a series of short visits throughout the Pearl River Delta, from Macau to Shenzen to Canton; all rather sleepy spots relative to the towering buzz of Hong Kong. In Macau there was an unexpected statue of Jorge Alvares, the Portuguese explorer, who arrived here in 1513; he was soon followed a few years later by his colleague Rafael Perestrello, who happened to be a cousin of Christopher Columbus…so strange to think a single family produced explorers that sailed west to America and east to China.

    At the end of our visit we concluded that the area had potential but given the lack of transport, communication and legal integration, it would be a very lengthy commitment and we reported back accordingly. It was too long term for the principals.

    Today this long integration is on the verge of being complete and it will make the Pearl River Delta, now renamed as the "Greater Bay Area" (GBA), a rival to the great urban areas such as New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

    To give a sense of the GBA its population is 71m and comprises ten key cities. The ‘Big Three’ are Hong Kong with GDP of$340bn, Shenzhen ($330bn) and Guangzhou ($320bn). The GDP of the whole GBA is $1.5tr. In comparison New York (pop. 20m) has a GDP of $1.6tr, San Francisco (pop. 7m) $800bn, and Tokyo (pop. 40m) $1.9tr.

    The GBA is already one of the most valuable urban clusters on the globe and will certainly overtake its cousins. Over the last decade key road, rail, and bridge projects have been completed. Projects include the HK-Zuhai-Macau bridge, the Shenzhen-Zhongshan bridge, and high speed rail from Hong Kong to Guangzhou (the XRL). With completion of the transport and communication infrastructure now in sight, the final step is to bring the two Special Administration Regions (HK/Macau) into a seamless zone, where each city has specialisations: finance for HK, high tech manufacturing for Shenzhen, which is where Huawei is based along with its outlandish European-style campus called Oxhorn, Macau for entertainment, and Guangzhou for shipping; the other smaller cities will grow and find their own "flavor".

    Source: Visual Capitalist

    The current step by step reduction of HK autonomy needs to be seen through the lens of the GBA, given that HK becomes a smaller component of the regional economy and a very small one of the national economy.

    Hong Kong, as we wrote a year ago, is following a similar trajectory to Trieste, once the key city of commerce for the Austro-Hungarian Empire that became just another Italian city. The global commotion about HK misses how the current rulers see the status of HK in the larger GBA scheme, which for the Chinese Communist Party is going to be the engine of their growth - they are forecasting doubling over the next decade.

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 02:20:00 +0000
  • US Mint Ups Coin Production To Circumvent Shortage
    US Mint Ups Coin Production To Circumvent ShortageTyler DurdenMon, 07/06/2020 - 22:00

    According to the New York Times, the U.S. Mint is upping its coin production after shortages of coins have been reported in the U.S. as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

    On June 15, the Federal Reserve had first implemented quotas for distribution locations to further protect its coin inventories, which were running low. As a result, banks and other distributors of coins received less than what they ordered or even less than their usual allotments, according to the Times. Especially businesses are routinely turning to banks in order to receive coins and other tender to fill up their registers.

    Chair of the Fed, Jerome Powell, said that closures of parts of the economy due to COVID-19 were responsible for disrupting the normal flow of coins through the system.

    Statista's Katharina Buchholz notes that, according to numbers by the U.S. Mint, coin production for circulation has actually decreased during the last couple of years and because of COVID-19 restrictions for Mint workers, has had some particularly slow months in the first half of 2020.

    In the second half of 2020, the Mint expects production increases to 1.2 billion coins in June and 1.35 billion coins per month for the rest of the year– which would add up to a projected total of 14.2 billion coins produced in 2020.

    Infographic: U.S. Mint Ups Coin Production to Circumvent Shortage | Statista

    You will find more infographics at Statista

    Members of the public who want to deposit coins into their banks to aid circulation can do so.

    Officials also said that the public can also aid businesses and those who cannot operate without coins by paying electronically whenever possible.

    Wouldn't they love that?

    Tue, 07 Jul 2020 02:00:00 +0000

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