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  "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world."
        - Nelson Mandela

22 May 2022

Thought for the Day

21 May 2022

Biden's push for more government spending, more regulation will be 'jet fuel' on inflation

Many on the Left do not care about the priorities of the American people and are ruled by "dangerous fools" as inflation hits American pockets.  They're doing it in such a way to 'compel certain behavior'.

"When you hear Biden saying that his solution to solving inflation is more government spending, more regulation.  I mean, these will be jet fuel on inflation and continue to tank the economy."

"These are not bugs.  These are features of the Biden administration, the outrageous government spending, the terrible energy policy.  All of these things are absolutely intentional.  It's not as though they're going to wake up some day and go, oh, yeah, we made mistakes, we're going to we're going to solve this.  These are intentional.  And they're doing it in such a way to compel certain behavior.  When I hear people talk about $6 for a gallon of gas, I know many on the left would prefer to have $10 for a gallon of gas to compel people to actually start using renewables to force that behavior on people.  And we're ruled by dangerous fools.  Well, they do not care about the priorities of the American people."

"They do not care about anything that will actually benefit the American people, because, quite frankly, in their arrogance, they don't think the dirty little peasants know what's best for them."

Biden invoking Defense Production Act for baby formula shortage is ‘definition of insanity’

Biden requesting more federal ‘power’ for problems it created one year ago.

"This Defense Production Act, is the definition of insanity to say the federal government needs more power to solve the problems they created in the first place."

"This president keeps trying to dodge responsibility instead of doing the things he could do to make things better. We're watching it again with baby formula."

The White House insisted that the federal government "has worked diligently over the last few months to address the shortfall in infant formula production" following the shutdown of Abbott Nutrition's infant formula manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, in February.

20 May 2022

US 'heading into a very serious recession' later this year, venture capitalist warns

"The U.S. is headed for a 'very serious' recession later this year as markets have been experiencing the 'worst downturn since the dot-com crash.'"  – which was a serious downturn that lasted from 2001 to 2003.

"The reason why sentiment is so negative is because the market has sort of collectively realized that the highs that we saw last year were artificial.  They were the result of the Fed and Congress and the administration pumping $10 trillion of liquidity into the marketplace."

graphic not found The size of the U.S. economy is about $24 trillion, so $10 trillion is an increase of more than 40% in the money supply without a corresponding increasee in the amount of goods – a "perfect storm" recipe for severe inflation.  Once again, the actions of the Preseident and Congress have severely hurt the prosperity of all Americans.

"That resulted in inflation and now the Fed has to raise interest rates.  And so over the last six months, there has really been a collapse in valuation levels as people realize that we’re not going to be in this low interest rate environment forever."

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated his commitment to curbing the highest inflation in decades, indicating the central bank will raise interest rates as high as necessary in order to tame consumer prices.

Fed policymakers hiked the benchmark federal funds rate by a half point earlier this month, and Powell has all but promised that two, similarly sized increases are on the table at the forthcoming meetings in June and July.  He echoed that sentiment on Tuesday as the Fed races to catch up with runaway inflation and bring it back down to the 2% target.

"You’ve seen over the last six months something liking 14% of global wealth has been vaporized.  If you go back to 2008 and the global financial crisis, it was at 18%, so you are almost at a level of wealth destruction that we haven’t seen since 2008."  – when the Dow fell from over 14,000 to below 7,000.  The recovery from that recession consumed three years, through 2010.

"Wages are not keeping up with inflation and so consumers do not feel as flush and you are starting to see that in quarterly reports.  And I think this is what’s going to precipitate a slowdown, a recession in the real economy and I think that’s what’s coming next."

"Investments will continue during a downturn as innovation never stops."  But "it is going to be a very difficult time for startups to weather because capital availability is reduced.  Growth stocks, specifically recent listings, including the new IPOs, the SPACs, and 'the sort of small-cap growth stocks' are down about 80 to 90% over the last six months, since inflation became a huge problem and the Fed realized it was persistent [and] not transitory.  I would expect there to be some tough times for the startup ecosystem over the next couple years."

19 May 2022

Biden blames others while wrecking economy graphic not found

President Biden is ignoring the "inflation bomb" as he continues to play the blame game.

People are looking at what Biden is doing, and instead of reacting to the reality of this inflation bomb, he's basically just pointing fingers at others and all of the solutions, as The Wall Street Journal pointed out the other day…  They basically said, Hey, "every proposal he has is going to make inflation worse, higher taxes, more government spending, more regulations, more green energy stuff…  I think people are just losing confidence that there's any plan in the White House to deal with inflation."

The White House admits the stock market is not something they "keep an eye on".  The stock market represents the whole economy – jobs, personal prosperity, etc.  Only an ignorant fool would ignore it.

16 May 2022

Russia Has Lost A Third Of Its Forces In Ukraine.  Now It’s Losing The War. graphic not found

In the 82 days since Russia widened its war on Ukraine, the Russian military has lost a third of its forces.

That’s tens of thousands of dead soldiers, sailors and airmen plus thousands of wrecked armored vehicles, a dozen sunk or damaged ships and boats and more than a hundred shot-down aircraft.

The heavy losses are contributing to a spiral of declining combat effectiveness. As Russia writes off more and more of its best weaponry and buries more of its best-trained troops, it increasingly counts on old weapons and under-trained troops to sustain its war effort.  But obsolescent weapons and second-tier troops get blown up and killed even faster than the modern and first-line weapons and troops they replaced.  With each passing week, the Kremlin ratchets down its war aims.

In late February, the Russians simultaneously attacked along four fronts—in Ukraine’s north around the capital Kyiv, in the northeast around Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, in the east from separatist-controlled Donbas and in the south along an axis aiming for Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest port.

Facing stiff Ukrainian resistance, the Kyiv offensive stalled out after a month, then reversed.  Russian formations in mid-April retreated back to Belarus and southern Russia.

Some of the more-intact battalions then shifted east and south.  But offensives on those fronts faltered, too. After halting the Russians in the Kharkiv suburbs, Ukrainian brigades counterattacked—and now are pushing the last few Russian battalions out of the northeast.

Simultaneously, Ukrainian counteroffensives slowly are rolling back Russian gains in the south around Kherson and in some areas around Izium, the locus of Russian efforts in Donbas.

As recently as a few weeks ago, many analysts gave the Russian army an even chance of encircling Ukrainian forces in Donbas and achieving its goal of “demilitarizing” Ukraine.

A Russian victory no longer seems likely, or even plausible.  "Russia has failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the past month whilst sustaining consistently high levels of attrition.”

It’s not hard to explain Russia’s military failures.  The army deployed around 125 battalion tactical groups with more than 100,000 troops—the majority of its active ground force — for the Ukraine campaign.  But these BTGs never had enough trained infantry to support the tanks and artillery.  Tanks rolled unprotected along highways, all but inviting Ukrainian missile teams and artillery gunners to ambush them.  Analysts have confirmed the destruction of 361 Russian tanks.  The Ukrainians have captured another 239 Russian tanks — a fifth of the tanks the Russian army had in service before the war.

As more of the best T-90 and T-72B3 tanks explode, often hurling their turrets straight into the air, the Kremlin increasingly is sending 1979-vintage T-72As into the fight—and losing them in large numbers, as well.

The Russian air force never achieved lasting air-superiority over Ukraine, owing in equal measure to rigid doctrine, munitions shortfalls, and heroic resistance by Ukrainian air-defense troops.  Ukrainian missileers still are shooting down Russian fighters and drones.  Ukrainian pilots still are flying attack sorties.  Ukraine’s TB-2 drones range across the war zone and deep into the Black Sea, sniping at Russian command posts and warships with their laser-guided missiles.

“Russian occupiers suffered significant losses in manpower and equipment.  In some areas, the staffing of units ... is less than 20 percent.”

Russia does not have a deep reserve of professional infantry.  To replace its losses, it increasingly relies on conscripts from the separatist “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in Donbas.  But these separatists are old or very young, poorly trained, and — owing in part to the effects of foreign sanctions on Russian industry — equipped with museum-age castoffs.  These conscripts die at a high rate in clashes with well-equipped Ukrainian troops.

Ukraine’s supply lines are short and robust while Russia’s are long and fragile.  Kyiv has strong allies who are spending tens of billions of dollars to equip Ukrainian troops with the latest and best weaponry.  Most importantly, Ukraine is a big country with millions of military-age men and women, many of whom are strongly motivated to enlist.

The fundamentals of the conflict weren’t in Russia’s favor back in mid-February, before the first Russian battalion crossed the border.  That hasn’t changed.  With Ukrainian forces counterattacking across the remaining three fronts of the wider war and Russian forces struggling to advance more than a few miles per week along one brittle axis, it’s clear who has the momentum.

14 May 2022

Jeff Bezos said the new 'disinformation board' should review Biden's tweet that tied high inflation to low corporate taxes, calling it 'misdirection'

President Joe Biden tweeted that taxing wealthy corporations could help bring down inflation.  "You want to bring down inflation? Let's make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share," Biden said in a tweet Friday evening.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos said "mushing together" inflation and raising corporate taxes was "misdirection."

"The newly created Disinformation Board should review this tweet, or maybe they need to form a new Non Sequitur Board instead," Bezos said, apparently referring to Homeland Security's recently announced Disinformation Governance Board.

Inflation in the US has reached its highest levels since the 1980s, affecting the price of essential goods like gas, food, healthcare, and housing. In April the rate of inflation slowed for the first time in eight months.

From the news article How to Cause Inflation:

"Inflation has only one single cause:  an increase in the amount of money in circulation, without a corresponding increase of goods and services.  Only one organization has the power to do that:  the Federal government – the President and Congress.

"Normally, the amount of money in circulation only increases proportionately with the growth of goods and services.  For the United States, that amount is about $24 trillion.  But when President Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” passed in March of 2021, the result was an increase in the money supply of about eight percent.

"It took only a few months for that increased amount of money to begin having its inflationary impact, but by October, an inflation rate of greater than six percent was being reported.

"That number is no coincidence."

9 May 2022

Thought for the Day

What every dictator needs:

graphic not found

3 May 2022

California saw population shrink again during pandemic's 2nd year

California lost 117,552 people between Jan. 1, 2021 and Jan. 1, 2022, the second consecutive year the state has seen a population decline.

California had seen its population growth wane even before COVID-19 due to older generations aging, younger generations producing fewer children and more residents leaving for other states.  About 280,000 more people left for other states in 2021 than moved to the golden state, but this number reflects a trend that has gone on for decades.

Only three of California's coastal counties did not suffer population declines last year.  Meanwhile, the majority of the state's inland counties saw steady growth.

Some Republicans blame the number of people leaving the state on its Democratic policies, as California has a Democratic governor and a Democratic-controlled state legislature.

Mass flight of tech workers turns Russian IT into another casualty of war

In his two-bedroom Moscow apartment, 35-year-old start-up wizard Pavel Telitchenko spent years mulling a move from Russia, fearing the gradual rise of a police state.  Then, three days after the Kremlin’s tanks rolled into Ukraine, he made the hard choice — packing up his young family, along with his prized vinyl-record collection, and joining a historic exodus that includes a massive outflow of Russia’s best and brightest minds in tech.  “I did not want to make an emotional decision, but I could not raise my son in a country like that,” said Telitchenko, who resettled in neighboring Latvia in March with his wife and 3-year-old son.

“The war made me realize that Russia will not change.”

Western attention is focused on the millions of refugees who have fled Ukraine since the Russian assault began on Feb. 24.  But Russia is also in the midst of an emigration wave that is upending its spheres of arts and journalism, and especially the world of tech.

The Russian Association for Electronic Communications told the lower house of Russia’s parliament last month that 50,000 to 70,000 tech workers have fled the country, with 100,000 more expected to leave over the next month — for a total of about 10 percent of the sector’s workforce.

An estimated 300,000 Russians overall have left to date since the war began, in February.  Nearly half of those leaving hail from tech — a highly transient, globally in-demand workforce that includes many who fear Russia’s global isolation, newly adverse business climate, and near-total authoritarianism.

The Russian government is “really scared and shocked.  The prime minister of Russia has been begging these guys to stay.  But I would say that the best people are leaving right now — The highly skilled, highly educated, highly paid specialists.”

The departure of so much talent threatens to undermine a host of Russian sectors, from the state media to aerospace and aviation industries already reeling from Western sanctions. The tech and start-up ecosystem was already withering under escalating government interference and censorship.

Thought for the Day

1 May 2022

Liberals melt down after Musk claims the Democrat Party was ‘hijacked by extremists'

New Twitter owner Elon Musk broke leftist brains with tweets Thursday accusing the Democrat Party of moving way too far to the left and being "hijacked by extremists."

Adding more insult to injury, Musk then stated that the Democratic Party is being run by the extreme left.

Liberals on Twitter couldn’t handle such a slap in the face.  Leftist journalist David Leavitt responded to the image, tweeting, "This is propaganda."

29 April 2022

Ukraine Brings First War-Crimes Charges Against Russian Soldiers in Bucha

Prosecutors name 10 non-commissioned officers and privates they allege mistreated civilians in the Kyiv suburb.

Ukrainian authorities filed criminal charges Thursday against 10 individual Russian soldiers accused of taking civilians hostage and mistreating them in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha—the first such move by prosecutors investigating possible war crimes by Moscow’s forces.  The men charged on Thursday allegedly took part in two incidents, prosecutors said.  Ukraine accused them of “ill-treatment of civilians, which is a violation of the laws and customs of war under international treaties.”  In one instance, residents interviewed by Ukrainian prosecutors said a group of eight privates and corporals, carrying out the orders of a sergeant, rounded up civilians, held them hostage in two locations, and starved and intimidated them.

All 10 were noncommissioned officers and privates from Russia’s 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, one of the units that took part in the monthlong occupation of Bucha.

In late March, after the Russian military retreated, Ukrainian authorities said they discovered more than 400 dead civilians, their bodies packed in mass graves or left splayed on streets and sidewalks.

Many had bullet wounds and some had their wrists bound behind their backs, Ukrainian authorities said.  Some residents of the town also have told investigators that Russian troops held them captive, denied them food and tortured them.

“Our goal is to identify every criminal who committed a crime, for every crime to find its perpetrator.”

On Thursday, two days after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres spoke in Kyiv about the need for a thorough investigation into alleged crimes.  “I fully support the International Criminal Court and I appeal to the Russian Federation to accept to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.”

U.S. GDP Falls 1.4% as Economy Shrinks for First Time Since Early in Pandemic

Supply disruptions weighed on the economy, but consumers and businesses continue to spend.

The decline in U.S. gross domestic product at a 1.4% annual rate marked a sharp reversal from a 6.9% annual growth rate in the fourth quarter.

The drop stemmed from a widening trade deficit.  Imports to the U.S. surged and exports fell, dynamics reflecting pandemic-related supply-chain constraints.  A slower pace of inventory investment by businesses in the first quarter—compared with a rapid buildup of inventories at the end of last year—also pushed growth down.

Consumer spending, the economy’s main driver, rose at a 2.7% annual rate in the first quarter, a slight acceleration from the end of last year.  Businesses also poured more money into equipment and research and development, triggering a 9.2% rise in business spending.  “The domestic economy remains remarkably resilient.”

The GDP report is unlikely to change the Federal Reserve’s plans to raise interest rates rapidly this year, including by a half-percentage-point at a two-day meeting next week.  One reason:  The report is likely to add to concerns that the economy is growing too fast.  Private demand in the first quarter grew at a 3.7% annual rate, well above the 1.8% growth rate the Fed expects for the overall economy over the long run.  Many economists think that the economy can withstand higher interest rates and return to modest growth in the second quarter and beyond, in part because consumers and businesses are continuing to spend.  “Some people are spending…independent of what the cost is.”

28 April 2022

Thought for the Day

26 April 2022

'Russia is failing.  Ukraine is succeeding'

graphic of Blinken and Austin with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy not found Secretary of State Blinken and Defense Secretary Austin visited Ukraine for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine.

At right:  U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The United States wants "to see Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a Democratic country, able to protect its sovereign territory," Austin said.  "We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine."  He added that Russia has "already lost a lot of military capability" and "a lot of its troops.  We want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability."

Austin also noted that the Biden administration wants the international community to become "more united, especially NATO."  "We’ve been seeing that, and that is based upon the hard work of, number one, President Biden, but also our allies and partners who have willingly leaned into this with us as we’ve imposed sanctions, as we’ve moved very rapidly to demonstrate that we’re going to defend every inch of NATO."

Blinken said that even as Russia "continues to try to brutalize" Ukraine, the Ukrainians are "standing up, they’re standing strong, and they’re doing that with the support that we coordinated from literally around the world."

"The strategy that we've put in place, the massive support for Ukraine, the massive pressure against Russia, in solidarity with more than 30 countries engaged in these efforts, is having real results.  And we're seeing that when it comes to Russian war aims."

Blinken noted that Russia has sought, as its "principal aim" to "totally subjugate Ukraine to take away its sovereignty, and its independence.  That has failed," Blinken said. "It sought to assert the power of its military and its economy."

Blinken said, though, that the U.S. is "seeing just the opposite [in Russia].  The military that is dramatically underperforming, an economy as a result of sanctions, as a result of a mass exodus from Russia, that is in shambles, and it sought to divide the West and NATO.  We're seeing exactly the opposite:  an alliance more united than I've ever seen it.  And indeed, new countries considering applying for membership."

Blinken added: "The bottom line is this.  We don't know how the rest of this war will unfold, but we do know that a sovereign independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene."  "And our support going forward for Ukraine will continue until we see final success," Blinken said.

Blinken added:  "Russia is failing. Ukraine is succeeding."

Big Tech censored Biden criticism more than 600 times over 2 years

A new report published last Thursday tracked more than 600 cases of pro-Biden censorship on Big Tech platforms in two years.  The Media Research Center, through its CensorTrack database, said it found 646 cases of instances where people who criticized Biden on Twitter or Facebook had their comments deleted, received speech restrictions, or were outright banned.

The time-period for the study was between March 10, 2020, and March 10, 2022, which includes the time Biden was campaigning for president through his current occupancy of the White House.  Of the 646 cases, nearly a quarter involved those who were targeted for speaking about a New York Post story that investigated the president’s son, Hunter Biden, and his allegedly corrupt foreign business dealings.  The largest share of those who were censored were those who posted content related to Biden’s notoriety for inappropriate contact – an issue that he was forced to address on the campaign trail.

CensorTrack counted 232 cases of "comedic memes, videos, or generic posts about Biden’s conduct," which composed more than one-third of the total instances.  Others, according to CensorTrack, had their accounts targeted merely for quoting the president in his own words, making him look less than competent as commander-in-chief.

Among those targeted included politicians like former President Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and news outlets like The New York Post, The Washington Free Beacon, and The Federalist, among many others.

23 April 2022

Thought for the Day

22 April 2022

graphic not found Hillary Clinton ripped over tweet urging EU to police ‘disinformation’ and ‘extremism’ online

Former U.S. Secretary of State and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was heavily rebuked after urging the European Union to pass legislation to stop the spread of "disinformation" and "extremism" online.

Hillary tweeted, "For too long, tech platforms have amplified disinformation and extremism with no accountability.  The EU is poised to do something about it."

The Washington Times columnist and comedian Tim Young tweeted out his own interpretation of Hillary’s words, "Translated:  Restrict the First Amendment so that Democrats can control the narrative without challenge."

Conservative author Kimberly Morin responded to Clinton’s post, asking, "You know all about DISINFORMATION, don't you?"

"Once they called the revelations from Hunter’s laptop ‘disinformation’ they made it clear the word simply means ‘stuff damaging to Democrats.’  It shocks me that journalists take cries of ‘disinformation’ seriously still," author and Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney tweeted about tech platforms censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020.  "...and so we know exactly what [Hillary's tweet] means.  Democrats want to use the force of the government to push Big Tech to censor news and commentary that makes them look bad."

graphic not found "Like her co-conspirator Obama, Hillary Clinton also wants the government to regulate and censor speech she doesn't like," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton tweeted, referencing the former president’s recent initiative to counter "disinformation" online.

21 April 2022

Thought for the Day

15 April 2022

graphic not found Ukraine sinks flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet

Russia confirmed Wednesday that the Moskva had been evacuated after it was "severely damaged," claiming that a fire on board had caused an explosion.  However, Ukrainian officials said their military hit the ship with two cruise missiles.

"During the towing of the cruiser Moskva to the port of destination, the ship lost its stability due to hull damage received during a fire from the detonation of ammunition.  In the conditions of stormy seas, the ship sank," the Defense Ministry said, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.

From France24:  Russia says flagship Moskva cruiser of its Black Sea fleet has sunk

Ukraine said earlier in the day that its forces struck the Moskva in a missile attack.

"All those Russian ships on the Black Sea now will know that they are in range of Ukrainian missile fire.  That is potentially a ground changer – and certainly will put in serious doubt the possibilities of a Russian amphibious attack against the city of Odesa in the south of Ukraine."

CIA warns desperate Putin poses nuclear threat

Russia's setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine could lead President Vladimir Putin to resort to using a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon.

"None of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons."  "Potential desperation" and setbacks are now faced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose forces have suffered heavy losses and been forced to retreat from some parts of northern Ukraine after failing to capture Kyiv.

Thought for the Day

9 April 2022

Russia's Aggression in Ukraine in the Headlines

Mariupol mayor says 31,000 residents deported at 'gunpoint' to Russian 'filtration camps'. graphic not found

Polish ambassador to UN:  Diplomacy didn't work with Putin.

UK's PM Boris Johnson makes surprise Kyiv visit; meets with Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy renews call for international community to hold Russia accountable.

Russia changes military leadership, reorganizing forces to find 'success' in Ukraine:  Russia is reorganizing its military operations in Ukraine, including a change of its senior leadership.  Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, who led Russia's invasion in Syria, will now lead the Ukrainian invasion.

Putin is ‘against the clock’.

May 9, the day Russia celebrates victory over Germany in World War II, is a date by which Putin feels pressure to achieve some sort of victory in Ukraine.  Several actions by Russia in recent days, along with a looming holiday that is culturally significant within the country, point to Russia escalating its invasion of Ukraine.

UK to send more than 800 more NLAW anti-tank missiles, additional Javelin anti-tank systems, and the additional Starstreak air defense system.

European diplomats to resume presence in Kyiv:  members of the European Union delegation announced Friday that they will remain in Kyiv to reopen the delegation and assess conditions for staff to return.  Josep Borrell, High Representative for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said the move would allow the bloc to better support Ukrainian citizens.

EU officials paid respects at mass grave in Bucha during Ukraine visit Friday.  132 tortured civilian bodies found in Makariv.

See more about Russia's war crimes at https://war.ukraine.ua/russia-war-crimes/.

'Don’t look away.  Be horrified':  Ukraine shares archive documenting over 4,800 Russian war crimes.

8 April 2022

The Most Expensive Warship Ever Built Is (Finally) Ready for Action

The U.S. Navy quietly declared the controversial aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford ready for combat in late 2021.  Ford, whose keel was laid in 2009, suffered from cost overruns and technical headaches that put it years behind schedule.

Gerald R. Ford is the first of the Ford-class aircraft carriers;  the class will eventually replace existing Nimitz-class carriers.  As the first class in decades, Ford-class ships will integrate a whole slew of new technologies.  Ford was designed with a new radar system, the Dual-Band Radar; new electromagnetically-powered aircraft launch catapults and weapons elevators; new aircraft arresting gear; and more.  The result was supposed to be a highly efficient warship capable of more aircraft sorties.

According to the Congressional Research Service, USS Ford ultimately cost $13.3 billion, making her one of the most expensive (if not the most expensive) ships ever built.  The cost does not include the unit cost of Ford’s 70+ aircraft, which will include 40 to 50 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters; five EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft; 19 MH-60 Seahawk helicopters; four E-2D Hawkeye airborne early-warning aircraft; and two MV-22B Osprey cargo transports.  It also does not factor in the cost of protecting the ship, which falls to a mixture of guided-missile cruisers, destroyers, and nuclear-powered attack submarines, and the logistics ships that keep Ford and her escorts supplied at sea.

Of course, the alternative is loss of combat superiority and the danger of destructive and deadly attacks on U.S. Navy ships and on U.S. territory.  Recent actions by both Russia and China, including substantial advances by the military of the latter, make it evident that threats of such possibilities are very real.  Freedom is never free.  For those with any doubts of that, discuss it with Ukraine.

Shipyard Huntington Ingalls Industries recently laid the keel for the third Ford-class carrier, USS Enterprise.  Enterprise will be the ninth U.S. Navy warship bearing the name; previous ships have included an aircraft carrier that served in World War II and the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.  At this rate, Enterprise should be commissioned in the 2027 to 2028 timeframe.  The fourth carrier, USS Doris Miller, will follow her in the shipyard.

graphic not found Transport stocks keep falling as analyst says a freight recession is ‘likely inevitable’

Wall Street’s recent disdain for the transportation sector continued on Friday, as analysts expressed concerns over “rapidly” deteriorating market conditions and a growing risk of a freight recession.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average slipped 0.6% in afternoon trading Friday, a day after it bounced 0.3% to snap a six-day losing streak, the longest such streak in more than two years. The Dow transports have tumbled 13.2% over the past eight sessions, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average which jumped 283 points.

One analyst downgraded about a third of the stocks he covers given “deteriorating demand outlooks and rapidly falling freight rates.”  He wrote in a note to clients that freight market signals have turned “increasingly softer” amid signs that demand is waning, and not because of increased capacity.

While fundamentals were “bad” and recent hawkish comments by the Federal Reserve haven’t helped, his concerns were more about “the limited guardrails ahead as the consumer weakens and inventory re-stocking ends,” and cut his price targets on 14 stocks.

7 April 2022

Thoughts for the Day graphic not found

graphic not found

31 March 2022

'Heavy fighting' expected in suburbs of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, in the coming days

Ukrainian forces took back three cities on Wednesday.  The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced that Ukrainian forces retook three settlements:  Orlove, Zagradivka, and Kochubeyevka on Wednesday.

The United Nations is launching an investigation into war crimes Russia has allegedly committed in Ukraine, naming three human rights experts on Wednesday to investigate possible war crimes in Ukraine where Russia has been accused of indiscriminate bombardment of civilians.  The independent panel, led by Erik Mose of Norway, will probe all accusations of rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law "in the context of the aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation."

Russian President Vladimir Putin "didn’t even know his military was using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, showing a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian President."

Russia orders 134,500 new conscripts into army, claims it is unrelated with Ukraine war

Ukraine's Ministry of Defense claimed that Russia has lost about 17,500 people, 6,614 tanks, 1,735 armored vehicles, 311 artillery systems, 54 anti-aircraft systems, 135 planes, 131 helicopters, 1,201 vehicles, 7 ships, and more.

Ukrainian forces also claimed that the Russian armed forces lost several senior military officers, including:  Commander of the 1st Panzer Army Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel, removed from office; Commander of the 6th General Army Lieutenant General Vladislav Yershov, removed from office and arrested; Chief of Staff - Deputy Commander of the 35th All-Military Army, Major General Sergei Nirkov, was seriously wounded; Chief of Staff - Deputy Commander of the 36th General Army, Major General Andrei Seritsky, was seriously wounded; Deputy Commander of the 41st All-Military Army, Lieutenant General Andriy Sukhovetsky, died; Commander of the 49th General Army Lieutenant General Yakov Ryazantsev, died; Commander of the 58th All-Military Army, Lieutenant General Mykhailo Zusk, was removed from office and arrested.

China is seeking closer ties with Russia, even as the U.S. and other NATO nations have called on China to apply more pressure to Moscow amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

29 March 2022

Thought for the Day

27 March 2022

Zelensky says 16,000 Russian troops dead as humiliated Putin faces ‘defeat’ in Kyiv and Ukraine fights to retake Kherson

U.S. PRESIDENT Joe Biden attacked deranged despot Putin in an emotional speech today, saying the Kremlin tyrant "cannot remain in power" - and warned that if he's not stopped, it could lead to decades of war in Europe.

"For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power," he said during a visit to Warsaw in Poland, describing the Russian president as having a "craving for absolute power and control.  It's nothing less than a direct challenge for the order established since the World War II and it threatens to return to decades of war that ravage Europe before the international rule-based order was put in place.  We cannot go back to that."

In a direct warning to Putin, he added:  "Don't even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory."

Meanwhile, hero President Zelensky said his troops had delivered "powerful blows" to Moscow’s forces around Kyiv and urged the Kremlin to negotiate an end to the bloody war.

25 March 2022

Ukrainian forces advance east of Kyiv as Russians fall back

Ukrainian troops are recapturing towns east of Kyiv and Russian forces who had been trying to seize the capital are falling back on overextended supply lines, one of the strongest indications yet of a shift in momentum in the war.

A month into their assault, Russian troops have failed to capture any major Ukrainian city.

Battlelines near Kyiv have been frozen for weeks with Russian armoured columns threatening the capital from the northwest and the east.  But a Ukrainian counter-offensive has pushed Russians far back in the east.

“Ukrainian counter-attacks, and Russian forces falling back on overextended supply lines, has allowed Ukraine to reoccupy towns and defensive positions up to 35 km east of Kyiv.”

Ukrainian forces had recaptured a village from Russian troops the previous day between Boryspol and Brovary, and would have pushed on further but had halted to avoid putting civilians in danger.

On the other main front outside Kyiv, to the capital’s northwest, Ukrainian forces have been trying to encircle Russian troops in the adjacent suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel.  Troops were also still holding on to the city of Chernihiv, northeast of Kyiv, hindering a Russian advance in the direction of the capital.

Russia is suffering failure rates as high as 60% for some of its precision-guided missiles.  With stocks of precision-guided munitions running low, Russian forces were more likely to rely on unguided bombs and artillery.

The West has has supported Kyiv with hundreds of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons that have blasted Russian armoured columns and prevented Moscow from taking control of the air.

19 March 2022

Defending Kyiv:  ‘I’m 100 percent sure the Russians won’t get through’

Set up some 30 kilometres north of Kyiv, the Ukrainian army’s lines of defence have so far succeeded in preventing Russian troops from advancing on the capital.  The anti-tank missiles provided by Western allies have handed the Ukrainian soldiers a sense of courage and hope.

In military terms, this is a strategic position.  Should the Ukrainian army give way here, the Russian army would be able to enter Kyiv and have a clear path to one of the Ukrainian capital’s three airports.

An anti-tank missile launcher stands atop a bridge, on which a banner has been hung: “Welcome to Hell”, it reads in Russian.  The invaders have been warned.  A few hundred metres away, a column of black smoke slowly rises into the sky.  It’s from a Russian vehicle that has been burning for days.

Although no one really knows the true extent of the losses the two sides have suffered, it is clear that the Russian forces have so far failed to break through here – even though they have tried several times.

"If it’s quiet, it’s because the enemy has suffered a lot.  Our tanks demolished them and we destroyed 30 Russian vehicles.  In front of us, we think they only have two tanks left that are in battle condition.  I doubt the Russians have much morale left.”

"I am 100 percent sure my brigade won’t let the Russians get through to Kyiv, because we are on our land here.  Most of the soldiers deployed to this position are from the region.  Some of them have seen their houses destroyed by the Russians, so we’re very motivated.”

12 March 2022

Ukraine Elderly couple stands ground with Russian soldiers

Three Russian soldiers broke through a gate and ran into an unarmed couple in blue sweaters.

According to Ukraine media, the exchange took place in Mykolayiv Oblast, about 80 miles east of Odesa in the country’s south.

10 March 2022

Thought for the Day

9 March 2022

A majority of Democrats say they would flee abroad if they were in the same position as Ukrainians are now, according to a new poll.  52% of Democratic adults say they would leave the country rather than stay and fight the kind of invasion Ukraine is facing from Russia.

It’s easy to tweet about defending democracy, but someone has to be willing to literally fight for it.

A small majority of Americans, 55%, say they would stand their ground in defense of their homeland.  68% of Republicans say they would stay and fight.

Liberal elites who dominate the media and Twitter say that the right is dangerously pro-Russian President Vladimir Putin and anti-democracy.  But Republicans (74%) were much more likely than Democrats (46%) or independents (54%) to say that President Biden has not been tough enough in responding to Russia.

5 March 2022

Thought for the Day

4 March 2022

"This Madness Must Be Stopped!"

A newspaper group in Russia has risked the wrath of government authorities by publishing editions that carry a stern anti-war message.

The message "This madness must be stopped" sits above the fold of Wednesday's editions of Vecherniy Krasnoturinsk, Vecherniy Karpinsk, Pro Severouralsk and Globus.

Kevin Rothrock, editor of independent outlet Meduza which itself has been the target of Russian authorities, tweeted that "police have now RAIDED the publisher's offices and are seizing all copies of these newspapers."

Russia's media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has ordered media outlets in the country to delete reports using the words "assault," "invasion," or "declaration of war" to describe the conflict.

3 March 2022

Thought for the Day

28 February 2022

Thought for the Day

27 February 2022

US, EU seizing Russian oligarchs' yachts, mansions, other assets, cutting Russian connection to SWIFT international banking system

"We’ll go after their yachts, their luxury apartments, their money and their ability to send their kids to fancy colleges in the West."

The commitment came from the U.S., European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada as part of their larger announcement to expel certain Russian banks from the SWIFT financial system and to sanction the Russian Central Bank.

S&P cuts Russia's rating to junk, Moody's issues junk warning

Russia's invasion of Ukraine triggered a flurry of credit rating moves on Friday, with S&P lowering Russia's rating to 'junk' status, Moody's putting it on review for a downgrade to junk, and S&P and Fitch swiftly cutting Ukraine on default worries.

"In our view, the sanctions announced to date could carry significant negative implications for the Russian banking sector's ability to act as a financial intermediary for international trade," S&P said.

Moody's said its decision would factor in the scale of the conflict and the severity of additional Western sanctions, which have already hit some of Russia's top banks, military exports and members of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

Finland's US ambassador responds to Russian threats over potential NATO membership

Finland’s ambassador to the U.S. boasted about his country’s strong military and said he didn’t see an "immediate threat" after a Russian official suggested military action if the Nordic nation were to join NATO.

Finland routinely participates in NATO exercises.

"We are not in a position that we will get scared because of one statement.  Russia’s been threatening Finland over NATO for years.  They have always said that they would take some measures if Finland would join.  We have one of the best armies in Europe.  We have strong defense."

In World War II, Finland successfully prevented Russia's efforts to invade the country.

26 February 2022

Ukraine invasion slower than what Russia expected, meeting more resistance

Ukraine’s command and control is intact after two days of war.

At right:  a downed Russian Ka-52 helicopter gunship.

Russian military forces have not made the kinds of gains they expected in Ukraine and have faced more resistance than anticipated from Ukrainian forces.  Russia has yet to achieve air superiority with Ukraine’s air and missile defense capability still working, though degraded.  "The Russians have lost a little bit of their momentum."

"It's both gut-wrenching and inspiring.  And certainly reflective of what we have seen in the last 24 hours, which is the Ukrainians being willing to fight for their country, and do so bravely."

Russian media is telling its people a different story

The Russian government doesn’t create much of an illusion of press freedom.  Many of the most prominent media organizations, from television channels to the Russian news agency TASS, are owned by the federal government, and journalists critical of the political establishment face not only censorship, but also risk to their lives and livelihoods.  Russians are being told what President Vladimir Putin’s government would like them to believe.  But they are unlikely to fool discerning Russian readers who have been exposed to roughly 15 years of pro-government propaganda.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s claims that any statements that Russian aircraft, helicopters, and armored vehicles have been lost are “complete lies,” in contradiction of international reports.

Many news stories have repeated the Russian government’s claim that part of the purpose of the conflict, in the words of Russian press secretary Dmitry Peskov, is the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine.  There is no evidence that the Ukrainian government promotes Nazi ideology, and the claim is particularly striking as President Zelensky is Jewish and lost family members in the Holocaust.

However, hundreds of Russians protesting the war have been detained in anti-war protests across the country, opposition publication Novaya Gazeta reports.

See also these news items from Europe:

EU imposes new sanctions against Russia

Russia threatens Finland, Sweden if they join NATO

Chinese banks restrict lending to Russia, dealing blow to Moscow

Two Chinese state-owned banks will restrict financing for Russian commodity purchases, suggesting there are limits to Beijing's support for Moscow as the Kremlin confronts severe economic sanctions over its attack of Ukraine.

It was a surprising twist and points to potential cracks showing in the relationship between Moscow and Beijing.  The two countries are frequently geopolitical allies who have united in the past against the U.S.;  they have formed increasingly close bonds over recent years, with Russia a key supplier of energy to China.

At the same time, China's biggest banks hold billions of Russian assets.  Beijing has also provided Moscow with tens of billions in funding over the years.

But Beijing ultimately has closer economic ties to Western nations, who are much bigger export customers for China, major sources of technology and investment, and also control China's access to the international dollar system.

Thought for the Day

25 February 2022

'Ghost of Kyiv' Ukrainian Fighter Pilot Captivates Citizens, Gives Hope to Nation as Russia Invades

A Ukrainian jet fighter pilot who has earned the nickname the “Ghost of Kyiv” has become the newest folk hero in Ukraine for becoming the first ace pilot in the 21st century by downing six Russian warplanes.

Putin may have overplayed his hand by invading Ukraine:  'Massive miscalculation'

President Vladimir Putin is facing massive protests in Russia over the war against Ukraine.

"This action yesterday was just another level of crazy.  It’s a ruination of Russia for decades, so damaging for Ukraine and so costly all around."

More than 1,700 demonstrators in Russia protesting the unprovoked attack on Ukraine have been arrested, according to OVD Info, a Russian human rights organization.  The demonstrations are especially noteworthy in a country that fiercely suppresses dissent

"This is going to be an extremely unpopular war in Russia even for people who are pro-Putin.  Historically, Russia and Ukraine don’t have a level of hostility that would justify this violent incursion.  Ukraine has elected pro-Russian leaders, and the two countries consider themselves more like brothers than enemies.  Images of Ukrainian families, Ukrainians being killed, your average Russian family is not going to be okay with that."

The only way for Putin to control Ukraine, a country of 40 million, is through "massive, Stalinesque repression.  If Putin fails, if he is forced to retreat, then he is finished. He will be deposed very quickly."

Video:

Biden "world order" crumbles

Biden promised that, if he was elected, Putin's days of 'trying to intimidate' Eastern Europe were over.

"The world does not organize itself.  American leadership, backed by clear goals and sound strategies, is necessary to effectively address the defining global challenges of our time," Biden's campaign website asserted.  "In order to lead again, we must restore our credibility and influence.  From day one of a Biden administration, other countries will once again have reason to trust and respect the word of an American president.  [...]  Vladimir Putin doesn't want me to be President."

But just over 13 months since President Biden took office, the post-Cold War world order is on the verge of crumbling altogether.  It started with a humiliating American exit from Afghanistan.  The global order now resembles something closer to a worldwide version of king-of-the-hill.  Russia is waging a violent invasion of Urkaine – despite Biden's assurances that, if he was elected, Putin would no longer bully Eastern Europe.  "Putin knows that when I am president of the United States his days of tyranny and trying to intimidate the United States and those in Eastern Europe are over," Biden said in October 2019.

Republicans have argued that Biden's perceived weakness on the world stage has invited aggression.  China is, by all appearances, looking to seize control of Taiwan.

Thought for the Day

24 February 2022

Russia attacks Ukraine

NATO to activate defense forces after Russia invasion of Ukraine

NATO decided to activate its defense plans so they can send NATO forces to wherever they are needed.  "We will continue to do whatever is necessary to shield the alliance from aggression,

"Peace in our continent has been shattered."  The Russian invasion is "a brutal act of war" and "a deliberate, cold-blooded, and long-planned invasion.  Russia has shut the door to a political solution."

"NATO’s core task is to protect and defend all allies.  There must be no room for miscalculation or misunderstanding.  Peace cannot be taken for granted. Freedom and democracy are contested by authoritarian regimes."

Thought for the Day

17 February 2022

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warns GOP culture war attacks 'alarmingly potent'

Democrats’ own research shows that some battleground voters think the party is “preachy,” “judgmental” and “focused on culture wars”.  Unless they more forcefully confront the GOP’s “alarmingly potent” culture war attacks, from critical race theory to defunding the police, they risk losing significant ground to Republicans in the midterms.

Hoping to blunt the kinds of GOP attacks that nearly erased their majority last election and remain a huge risk ahead of November, party officials and operatives argue that Democrats can’t simply ignore the attacks.  A generic ballot of swing districts from late January showed Democrats trailing Republicans by 4 points.

The data showed that Democrats could mostly regain the ground lost to Republicans if they offered a strong rebuttal to the political hits.  When faced with a “defund the police” attack, for instance, the presenters encouraged Democrats to reiterate their support for police.  On immigration, Democrats should deny support for “open borders or amnesty,” and talk about their efforts to keep the border safe.

If Democrats don’t answer Republican hits, the party operatives warned, the GOP’s lead on the generic ballot balloons to 14 points from 4 points.

That message has picked up new urgency as President Joe Biden’s approval has tanked in recent weeks, stoking more party anxiety.

The GOP hits are most effective with center-left voters, independents and Hispanic voters.

Voters think Democrats “are not making good use of their majority.”

For many swing-district Democrats, it’s a grim affirmation.

During the summer, polling showed that Democrats trail by 6 points on the generic ballot.

Global Strategy Group, Impact Research, HIT Strategies and BSP Research all conduct polling on behalf of the DCCC.

11 February 2022

Thought for the Day

9 February 2022

Massive crime spike stems from social unrest, COVID lockdowns destabilizing communities

Surge in violent crime has a common link — and it's not firearms.

From the early 1990s through 2019, there was a national decline in violent crime, but the pendulum swung back in 2020.

Massive social upheaval spurred by the coronavirus pandemic is in large part to blame for the national surge in violent crime — not guns.

"We have crime because we have people.  Crime is a very complex subject."

The homicide rate shot up by 30% in 2020 compared to 2019 — the sharpest one-year increase in the nation’s history — and the upward trend has continued into 2021, according to FBI and other data.  About 4,000 more Americans were murdered in 2020 compared to the prior year

Widespread rioting and social unrest over racial injustice in addition to COVID-19 shutdowns destabilized communities.

Although shootings are up in many big cities, eliminating guns isn’t a realistic goal when there are 400 million privately owned firearms in the U.S.

Most people who commit gun crimes are obtaining their weapons on the black market, not through official channels, so broad, federal gun control laws largely aimed at law-abiding citizens won’t stop the killings.

Banning assault weapons, implementing universal gun purchase permits and universal background checks target people buying guns lawfully.

"When you crack down on these official channels you’re not actually addressing the bulk of gun violence or how those offenders obtain those guns.  Tougher gun control is a talking point that sells well to certain politician’s constituents, but it isn’t effective policy."

Cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles face a unique dilemma.  It is incredibly difficult for residents to obtain a gun permit while criminals are roaming the streets with illegal firearms.

"You end up with this problem where there are a number of otherwise law-abiding citizens who can’t obtain concealed carry permits who are told they have no reason to be afraid, but they carry anyway because they are afraid.  These residents tend to be people of color from poorer neighborhoods who are most likely to be victims of violent crime."  In New York City, anyone caught with a loaded firearm faces a second-degree criminal possession of a weapon charge, which carries a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years and a maximum of 15 years.

Gun control racist?  The Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, along with other public defender groups, wrote a legal brief last year arguing that "New York’s licensing regime criminalizes the exercise of the Second Amendment" and unfairly devastates the lives of minorities in poorer neighborhoods who fear for their safety.

"All gun control in America is racist.  Many people on the left don’t want Black people to have the right to defend their lives from Democratic tyranny."

In California, the issue rate for concealed carry permits by zip code reveals glaring racial disparities.

9 February 2022

Don't buy the hype, 'rogue' prosecutors driving violent crime surge, not guns

Progressive district attorneys are turning their cities into "hellholes".  Soft-on-crime district attorneys across the country are to blame for a spike in violent crime – not firearms, according to a former federal prosecutor.

"Guns don’t commit crimes, neither do knives and hammers, people do," said Charles Stimson, now a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.  "It’s a red herring to focus on guns rather than the harder issue of how to enforce the law fairly and hold criminals accountable."

Across the country homicides were up 30% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to FBI data.  The murder rate in 22 major U.S. cities was up 44% in 2021 compared to 2019 and 5% compared to 2020, according to a study from the non-partisan Council on Criminal Justice.

"It is not true that crime is rising in every big city — it’s true that it’s rising in cities that have elected rogue prosecutors."

Such prosecutors include George Gascón in Los Angeles, Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, Kim Foxx in Chicago, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia.  They have all argued that most misdemeanors should not be prosecuted, lobbied for lighter sentences for serious felonies and pushed for the elimination of cash bail.  The result has been mass shoplifting, open prostitution, drug markets and, in many cases, record numbers of shootings and murders.  "Giving a pass on lower level crimes breeds more serious misconduct."

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg last month in his first week in office, told prosecutors not to ask for pretrial detention for a slew of crimes, including robbery, burglary, kidnapping, carjacking and witness tampering.  He also urged prosecutors not to seek prison time except for the most serious felonies — including murder and sexual assault. Bragg has since walked back some of his positions after fierce backlash.

Coddling criminals increases crime and fails victims.

Stimson compared the murder rate in Philadelphia to San Diego, two similarly sized cities.  Last year under Krasner’s watch, Philadelphia suffered the bloodiest year in its history clocking 562 murders.  There were 48 homicides that same year in San Diego under DA Summer Stephan, a more law-and-order Democrat.

Opponents say that strong federal gun control laws would drive down violent crime by stemming the flow of firearms from states with more permissive firearm laws.  But those claimants cannot explain the lower crime rates in those states.

What critics call the get-out-of-jail-free approach of progressive district attorneys is contributing to the demonization and demoralization of police.  Officers have stopped arresting suspects for certain crimes like resisting arrest or possession with intent to distribute because many DAs no longer prosecute them.  With bail reform, suspects are immediately released and sometimes commit new crimes eroding the public’s confidence and trust in law enforcement.  Seven cops have been shot this year in New York City — two of whom died from their injuries.

"The criminals are laughing,"

The end result of these lenient crime policies will be disastrous for big cities.  "They’re going to be hellholes until people, the people most impacted by these crimes, the Black and the Brown people, realize this.  These policies are resulting in more deaths and more violence and they’ve had enough."

Peak everything — growth, inflation and COVID — may soon mean calmer markets ahead, economist says

It’s looking like the world is simultaneously reaching peak COVID, peak growth and peak inflation.

“Many of the macro- economic drivers of asset prices in recent times are peaking and either already moving into reverse or about to move into reverse.”

The first part, COVID, is obviously welcome.  He pointed to a big drop in global COVID deaths relative to cases, and the declines in South African cases and U.K. ventilations.  Both countries were among the first to be hit by the omicron variant of coronavirus.

The growth peak is less welcome.  Most major economies have regained their pre-COVID GDP level.  But expectations for GDP growth are easing, outside of China, where growth already has slowed and corporate profit growth is set to slow.

On inflation, the global consumer goods price are finally slowing.  There’s still excess capacity in China and Europe, and supply chain pressures may have peaked.  Fiscal policy is getting tighter, and interest-rate forecasts are being lifted.

“If inflation shortly peaks too, and then falls quite quickly, volatility too shortly peak, and calmer waters should reappear.”

7 February 2022

Russia Invades Ukraine?  Breaking Down The Real ‘Fake News’

There are multiple sides to every story, in other words … but the American media is only sharing one side:  The anti-Russian side. One possible reason for that?  America’s “neoconservative” warmongers – who dropped more than $6 trillion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – desperately need a conflict.  Any conflict.  Anywhere.

In 2014, the United States orchestrated the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected government.  Yes, you read that right.  The country which prides itself on making the world “safe for democracy” led a coalition of some unseemly allies (including the Nazis) for the purpose of overthrowing pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.

In Yanukovych’s place, America installed an American diplomat fresh out of Hillary Clinton’s state department.  Yeah … and we expected Russian leader Vladimir Putin to just roll over and take that?

“(The 2014) coup was not only supported by the United States and European Union governments – much of it was actually planned by them,” former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul wrote at the time.

Everything feels like the United States is on war footing … which is no doubt a welcome subject change for a flailing president.

6 February 2022

A Russian invasion of Ukraine could send shockwaves through financial markets

Tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine have not had much impact on U.S. stocks, but they have impacted oil and other commodities.

Strategists say were Russia to move any of its more than 100,000 troops that are on the border into Ukraine, that would result in a drop in stock prices and a surge in commodities.

The highly unpredictable nature of Russia’s threat against Ukraine has rippled across financial markets without much impact on stocks.  But if Russia were to move its troops across the border, it could cause a major risk-off event — sending equities lower and commodity prices even higher.

The U.S. plans on stinging sanctions if Russia moves into Ukraine.  Russia, which says it has no intention to invade, could inflict pain on the rest of the world through its strong hold on some key commodities.

For now, the markets are not pricing any such calamity, but oil prices would spike and European gas prices could surge even more than they already have if Russian troops enter Ukraine.  Oil and some other commodity prices have already built in some premium, and Russian assets have been hit.

But "as long as talks are going on, it’s hard to imagine Russia would go to war.”

If Russia does invade, the U.S. and the U.K. have promised swift retaliation in the form of economic sanctions on President Vladimir Putin, Russian oligarchs and other individuals, its financial system and industries.

“What I do know is if those tanks cross the border, oil will go above $100 dollars a barrel.  We’ll certainly feel it on the European gas market.  We’ll feel it on the wheat market.  We’ll feel it across a variety of markets.  Russia is not a one-trick pony.  They’re not just a gas station.  They’re a commodity superstore.  They’re a massive metal producer.  Where we think it gets painful is food and energy prices.  It would cause more inflation in an already inflationary environment.”

"There are certain markets, like aluminum, that we think is going to be in a deficit already by 2.3 million tons.  If you exclude Russian supply out of that and palladium as well, we could certainly see them touch the highs.”  Russia is also a large nickel producer, and fertilizers are a byproduct of its natural gas production.  It will soon be planting season in the Northern Hemisphere.  Russia also exports potash, and if it withheld any supply, that could trigger higher food prices, as crop yields could drop.

“If Putin does invade it’s because he really wants a standoff with NATO, and markets could find themselves thinking about a new cold war.  It’s still going to be a big hole in the Russian economy.  They need to sell stuff to the West.”

Russia is one of the world’s largest energy producing countries, exporting about 5 million barrels of oil a day.  Russia also has provided Europe with about a third of its natural gas.

Oil has been moving higher on the tensions but also on tight supply, which has been made even tighter as natural gas customers switch over to crude.  Natural gas prices in Europe this winter have skyrocketed.  Natural gas was at $25 per million BTU in Europe on Wednesday, more than five times the U.S. price.  It has risen on a shortfall in supply and concerns that tensions will limit imports of Russian gas.  However, earlier this winter the price was more than double.  Since the fall, Russia has been sending less gas than normal to Europe.  The continent began the winter with too little supply in storage.  Then cold weather and other issues resulted in price spikes.  U.S. liquified natural gas shipments to Europe set a record this January, up 80% from last year.  Cargos were diverted from Asia and Brazil.  Russian imports of gas are down about 45% in January.  “The amount that came through from Russian pipelines in January was about the same as that from U.S. ships.”

Russian assets have felt the pinch of worries over Ukraine and a new stiffer round of sanctions on Moscow.

But many are not convinced the standoff will result in war, and it has barely impacted U.S. equities.

2 February 2022

In the Home of the Brave, Down Never Means Out

Poll:  Most Americans want Biden to consider 'all nominees' in Supreme Court pick

A majority of Democrats oppose Biden declaring the nominee will be a Black woman.

More than three-quarters (76%) of Americans want President Joe Biden to consider all potential nominees to replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Among Democrats, 54% supported considering all nominees regardless of race and gender.  Just 23% of those polled wanted Biden to restrict his list of nominees to Black women.

Other findings from the poll were unflattering toward the president, who earned low approval numbers on issues ranging from inflation — with 69% disapproving — to surging crime and gun violence.  Just 1% of those polled said the state of the economy is "excellent."

When his campaign was faltering during the 2020 Democratic primary in South Carolina, Biden reportedly told Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., he would publicly promise to appoint a Black woman to the high court in exchange for the House majority whip's endorsement.

Biden In Action - Continued

31 January 2022

Spice company that called Republicans racist begs for gift card purchases after losing customers

A Wisconsin-based spice company that made headlines earlier this month when its CEO sent an email to customers accusing Republicans of racism is now asking people to buy gift cards after hemorrhaging tens of thousands of customers.

Penzeys Spices CEO Bill Penzey renamed the extended Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend to be "Republicans are racist weekend" in a newsletter to customers. In the letter, he said his aim was to anger Republicans in honor of the late civil rights icon.

Martin Luther King was a Republican

Penzey also claimed that the Republican Party "does everything it can to make it harder for Black people to vote."

The GOP was formed in 1854 as explicitly anti-slavery.  The first blacks to be elected to Congress after the Civil War were Republicans.

Democrats, on the other hand, were pro-slavery from the party's inception by Andrew Jackson in 1836.  After the Civil War, the party was staunchly racist.  President Woodrow Wilson reinstituted segregation for Federal employees.

Boycott Penzeys!

27 January 2022

Leaked video shows federal contractors flying migrants to suburban NY:  'Betraying the American people'

A leaked video shows migrants being transported on secret charter flights under the cover of night from southern border states to Westchester, New York.  The footage was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Our government is completely out of control right now.  They have lied to us.  They've lied to the American people."

The 51-minute footage of the August incident shows Westchester Police Sgt. Michael Hamborsky peppering federal contractors early in the morning with questions about the after-hours flights and why local police were not provided details.

Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are orchestrating a clandestine invasion of America across the southern border.

MVM Inc., a private security firm, signed a $136 million contract with the federal government last year to transport migrants around the country.  Its employees were also onboard the flight.  "We’re subcontractors of a government contractor . . . It’s one of those things you can’t turn down because once you sign the contract, you’re a slave to the grind."

"Now they keep saying ‘it’s just unaccompanied kids.’  Completely a lie.  And that these kids were not going to go into our own area.  Completely a lie."

"We have a government that continues to lie to us, that has failed in its most essential duty to secure our nation's borders, and uphold the rule of law.  When we first found out about these flights, we were attacked for demanding simple answers.  They kept lying and deflecting, but this is a matter of public safety, public health and the people’s right to know."

"And why?  You know why?"  Hamborsky asked.  "You know why, look who’s in office.  That’s why, come on," the contractor said.

What is SWIFT and why it might be the weapon Russia fears most

As Western governments threaten Russia with a package of unprecedented sanctions aimed at deterring President Vladimir Putin from ordering an invasion of Ukraine, there's one measure in particular that appears to strike fear at the heart of the Kremlin:  cutting the country off from the global banking system.

SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication was founded in 1973 to replace the telex and is now used by over 11,000 financial institutions to send secure messages and payment orders.  With no globally accepted alternative, it is essential plumbing for global finance.  SWIFT is incorporated under Belgian law and must comply with EU regulations.

Removing Russia from SWIFT would make it nearly impossible for financial institutions to send money in or out of the country, delivering a sudden shock to Russian companies and their foreign customers.  "The cutoff would terminate all international transactions, trigger currency volatility, and cause massive capital outflows."  Excluding Russia from SWIFT would cause its economy to shrink by 5%.

The United States and Germany have the most to lose if Russia is disconnected, because their banks are the most frequent SWIFT users to communicate with Russian banks.  The European Central Bank has warned lenders with significant exposure to Russia to prepare for sanctions against Moscow.  The European Union is ready to respond to a Russian invasion of Ukraine with "comprehensive sanctions never seen before."

There is precedent for removing a country from SWIFT.  SWIFT unplugged Iranian banks in 2012 after they were sanctioned by the European Union over the country's nuclear program.  Iran lost almost half of its oil export revenue and 30% of foreign trade following the disconnection.

26 January 2022

Biden In Action

24 January 2022

Trump 'TRUTH Social' developing content moderation practices to ensure 'family-friendly' community

TRUTH Social to launch later this quarter.

Congressman Devin Nunes resigned from Congress in December after nearly two decades representing California's 22nd Congressional District, to take on Big Tech as the CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), vowing to create the "free-est" social media platform for users across the United States and around the world.

Nunes said the move shouldn't come as a surprise, as he has been sounding the alarm on Big Tech suppression and disinformation for the last several years.  Nunes was one of the first elected officials to transition to Rumble – an alternative video platform to YouTube.  TMTG last month announced a cloud services partnership with Rumble.

18 January 2022

China's Xi Jinping warns Fed against hiking interest rates

“If major economies slam on the brakes or take a U-turn in their monetary policies, there would be serious negative spillovers. They would present challenges to global economic and financial stability, and developing countries would bear the brunt of it,” said Xi.  Traditionally, Fed officials brush off concerns about how their policies impact other economies, saying they can only set policy for the U.S. economy.

Of the major central banks, the Fed is expected to be the most aggressive, with financial markets now pricing in four rate hikes, and also expecting the central bank to start reducing the size of its nearly $9 trillion balance sheet.

Xi has reason to be nervous about Fed tightening.  China’s economy continues to slow; on Monday, the People’s Bank of China cut two policy rates by 10 basis points.  China is the number-one source of imported goods at $463 billion, topping Mexico at $350 billion and Canada at $324 billion.  Export growth has helped China compensate for weaker domestic growth and propped up its manufacturing sector.

Union Pacific Official Blames L.A.’s Far-Left Policies For Massive Train Thefts, Considers Leaving L.A.

An official with Union Pacific (UP) revealed late last week that the organization believes that approximately 90 shipping containers are compromised by theives every day as images have gone viral in recent days showing the aftermath of the thieves stealing thousands of packages.

“Since December 2020, UP has experienced an over 160% increase in criminal rail theft in Los Angeles County.  In several months during that period, the increase from the previous year surpassed 200%.  In October 2021 alone, the increase was 356% over compared to October 2020.  Not only do these dramatic increases represent retail product thefts – they include increased assaults and armed robberies of UP employees performing their duties moving trains.”

The offical slammed the city’s far-left politics, saying that they are enabling the criminals who he says brag about being let off easy for their crimes.  "The no-cash bail policy and extended timeframe for suspects to appear in court is causing re-victimization to UP by these same criminals."

One individual that The Los Angeles Times interviewed, who apparently steals things off the trains, said that he has found everything from a Louis Vuitton purse to a robotic arm worth tens of thousands of dollars. “We find things here and there, make some money off of it,” the man said.

"There’s looted packages as far as the eye can see.  Missing a package?  Shipment delayed?  Maybe your package is among the thousands we found discarded along the tracks.  This is but one area thieves have targeted trains.V We were told this area was just cleaned up 30 days ago so what you see is all within the last month.  I’d say every 4th or 5th rail car had opened containers."

16 January 2022

Dollar's drop signals shaky US economy

Consumer prices soared 7%, producer prices 9.7%.  An increased cost of production must be passed on to consumers.

The dollar, which has dropped for three straight sessions, has been giving up gains seen after the Federal Reserve has signaled strong interest rate hikes in the coming months.  The dollar has dropped to the lowest level against the Euro since November.

Consumer prices surged by 7% in December, the highest since 1982, while producer prices jumped 9%, the largest annual increase since data were first calculated in 2010.

Oil is moving higher on to falling global oil inventories as well as the falling dollar, and natural gas soared on LNG exports but mainly on frosty cold and freeze-offs.

The most direct correlation in that would be the price of commodities. On the global market, almost all major commodities from energy, agriculture and metals are priced in dollars.  If the dollar falters then it would take more dollars to buy the same amount of goods. That means that this blockbuster increase in consumer prices might look small in the future.

This potential emerging crisis with inflation and confidence in the dollar shows that printing money and runaway government spending has consequences.

For more on this, See also:  ‘There’s no way the stock market goes up this year — it probably goes down pretty aggressively,’ says hedge-fund honcho Kyle Bass.

Top 1% Income Threshold by State

States Where the 1% Income Threshold Is the Highest:  Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California.

States Where the 1% Income Threshold Is the Lowest:  West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, Arkansas, Kentucky.

13 January 2022



Supreme Court blocks Biden OSHA vaccine mandate, allows rule for health care workers

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued mixed rulings in a pair of cases challenging Biden administration COVID-19 vaccine mandates, allowing the requirement for certain health care workers to go into effect while blocking enforcement of a mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees.

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that took effect on Monday, that businesses with at least 100 employees needed to require workers to get vaccinated, or get tested weekly and wear a mask.  The Court ruled that OSHA lacked the authority to impose such a mandate because the law that created OSHA "empowers the Secretary to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures."

"Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most," the Court ruled.  "COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather.  That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases."

Maybe OSHA should issue a ruling against crimes occurring.

The Court also ruled that Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra did have the authority to require all health care workers at institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to get the jab, unless they get medical or religious exemptions.  The Court noted that "healthcare facilities that wish to participate in Medicare and Medicaid have always been obligated to satisfy a host of conditions that address the safe and effective provision of healthcare."

Claim the religious exemption – whether you get vaccinated or not.

New poll showing Biden down to 33% approval

"He gave his inauguration speech and used some version of the word ‘unity’ like half a dozen times.  This is the most divisive president I have seen in the last two decades, especially when you look at the numbers."

"Is he uniting us or dividing us?"  49% said dividing, 42% said unifying.

"So Americans are recognizing the strategy."

Maybe Biden should ask Trump for advice on unifying.

Thought for the Day

8 January 2022

Almost half of reported NY COVID-19 hospitalizations are not due to COVID-19

Over half of COVID-19 hospitalizations in NYC were not due to COVID-19.

For approximately 43% of hospital admissions "COVID was not included as one of the reasons for admission."  Such cases totaled 4,928 as of Jan. 7, compared to 6,620 patients "admitted due to COVID or complications of COVID."

7 January 2022

Americans largely moved to 'low-density' states in 2021

Americans moved around a lot in 2021, and some states seem to be more popular than others.  National moving company United Van Lines released its 45th annual National Movers Study on Monday, which analyzed internal customer data.

The 10 U.S. states that came out on top for move-ins were Vermont, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Oregon, Idaho and Rhode Island.  Maine, New Mexico and Utah were close runner-ups.

Census data shows that eight out of the 10 "top inbound" states United Van Lines identified are in the top 25 least densely populated states.

The states which saw the highest number of move-outs in 2021 were New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Ohio and Nebraska.

6 January 2022

Texas restaurant refuses to apologize for 'misogynistic' Pelosi, 'Let's go Brandon' signs:  Never 'busier'

The owner of a restaurant in Houston says the establishment won’t back down to "cancel culture renegades" after receiving backlash for posting signs mocking President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"We are heading into Crawfish season and then peak patio weather and won’t be slowed down from the cancel culture renegades," the co-owner of Preslee’s Southern-style restaurant in Houston Heights told Fox Digital on Wednesday.  "It's about pro freedom and our right to run our small business."

"No mask needed," one sign at Preslee's read.  "Unless you look like Nancy Pelosi."

The sign was updated this month to also include "Let’s Go Brandon!" at the bottom of its jab at Pelosi.

Most of the negative reviews are coming from people who had never dined at Preslee’s "but feel the need to jump on the bandwagon."

Preslee’s opened in 2019 and weathered the coronavirus and subsequent shutdowns without laying "a single employee off."

"I think it's pretty safe to say our current government has failed us and other small business owners.  More than 150,000 small businesses have shut down from mandates, but this is not about politics.  It's about basic rights that some have seem to have forgotten."

"We’ll have more material posted soon, so stay tuned."

Other restaurants have posted similar signs in recent months, including in Florida where Debary Diner told customers to dine elsewhere if they voted for Biden.

"If you voted for and continue to support and stand behind the worthless, inept and corrupt administration currently inhabiting the White House that is complicit in the death of our servicemen and women in Afghanistan, please take your business elsewhere."

5 January 2022

Thought for the Day

4 January 2022

Rand Paul quits YouTube, citing censorship

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., penned an op-ed Monday announcing he’s embarking on an exodus from Big Tech, starting with YouTube, over what he describes as rampant censorship and an "almost religious adherence to the edicts of government bureaucrats."

"I will no longer post videos on YouTube unless it is to criticize them or announce that viewers can see my content on rumble.com."

Paul complained that whenever he posts content that challenges the current White House narrative concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, no matter how well sourced and researched, YouTube deletes the videos.  He saw his account suspended for a week in August for violating the site’s COVID-19 misinformation policy over a video claiming surgical masks and cloth masks don’t protect against the coronavirus.

Rand Paul is right.  Regarding the value of cloth and surgical masks vs. COVID, see this article.

"It is indeed ironic that the censors likely think of themselves as progressive but their actions are more suggestive of the diktats of the Medieval church.  Think about it.  In the U.S. in 2021, you are being told there are ideas or opinions that are too ‘dangerous’ for you to see."

Paul said he may still post a video or two in the future only to decry YouTube’s censorship and promote its competing platforms, but that his plan is to eventually quit Big Tech altogether and take his business elsewhere, and he encouraged others to do the same.  He also said he created a libertarian news aggregator site called libertytree.com.

"About half of the public leans right," he wrote.  "If we all took our messaging to outlets of free exchange, we could cripple Big Tech in a heartbeat.  So, today I take my first step toward denying my content to Big Tech.  Hopefully, other liberty lovers will follow."

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