Thought for the day
"Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent." -- Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis
US imports from Russia reached $522.1 million in August, 7.7% more than the July total of $484.8 million, marking the first monthly increase since April, according to a report released on Wednesday by the US Census Bureau.
The growth comes despite US President Joe Biden’s pledge to deal a “crushing blow” to Moscow through restrictions on commodity trade.
According to analysts, Washington continues to benefit from the anti-Russia sanctions. While pressuring the EU to give up supplies from Russia, the US continues to buy hundreds of unsanctioned types of goods.
“There is a tacit agreement between the US government and business: we puff our cheeks, and you trade with Russia if it suits you. Their words don’t meet their actions,” Aleksandr Razuvaev, a member of the supervisory council at Moscow’s Guild of Financial Analysts, told Russian state media on Wednesday.
A man cooperating with federal drug agents after local law enforcement busted him transporting enough fentanyl to kill 25 million people managed to escape authorities and is now considered a fugitive.
Louisiana State Treasurer John Schroder announced on Wednesday that the Pelican State would divest nearly $800 million in funds from asset management company BlackRock.
President Joe Biden claimed on Wednesday that he once “lost an awful lot” in a house fire — but fact-checkers have previously said that the 2004 fire was contained to the kitchen and doused within 20 minutes.
An English broadcaster known as Great Britain’s first transgender national television newsreader urged followers to sue famed “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling for ripping a transgender children’s charity. Rowling issued a warning shot of her own, daring anyone to take such action.
Migrant bus transports from the southern border don’t appear to be slowing down. Thursday morning saw an additional bus unload outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ D.C. residence and two more buses drop off in New York City.
That’s in addition to the seven buses that arrived in the Big Apple on Wednesday.
House Ag Committee ranking member G.T. Thompson (R-Pa.) and Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), Republican leader on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in a letter to General Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, asked the GAO to conduct a study addressing the following:
1. What is known about the extent of and trends in foreign investment in U.S. agricultural land (e.g., by country of investor, by state, by type of land)?
2. How does the Farm Service Agency collect data ona foreign investment in U.S. agricultural land and what steps are taken to ensure data reliability? How have USDA’s data collection methods changed since AFIDA was enacted in 1978?
3. What procedures are in place to ensure proper disclosure of acquired agricultural land by a foreign person or entity and does USDA have a process to ensure accurate disclosure of the transfer or sale of such lands?
Today, Google announced the development of Imagen Video, a text-to-video AI mode capable of producing 1280×768 videos at 24 frames per second from a written prompt. Currently, it's in a research phase, but its appearance five months after Google Imagen points to the rapid development of video synthesis models.
Only six months after the launch of OpenAI's DALLE-2 text-to-image generator, progress in the field of AI diffusion models has been heating up rapidly. Google's Imagen Video announcement comes less than a week after Meta unveiled its text-to-video AI tool, Make-A-Video.
According to Google's research paper, Imagen Video includes several notable stylistic abilities, such as generating videos based on the work of famous painters (the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, for example), generating 3D rotating objects while preserving object structure, and rendering text in a variety of animation styles. Google is hopeful that general-purpose video synthesis models can "significantly decrease the difficulty of high-quality content generation."
Election officials are growing concerned about a new danger in November: that groups looking to undermine election results will try to install their supporters as poll workers.
The frontline election workers do everything from checking people in at voting locations to helping process mail ballots — in other words, they are the face of American elections for most voters. And now, some prominent incidents involving poll workers have worried election officials that a bigger wave of trouble could be on the horizon.
A top-of-the-line Russian nuclear-powered submarine has gone missing from its harbor in the Arctic along with its rumored "doomsday weapon," according to multiple reports.
NATO has reportedly warned members that Russia's Belgorod submarine no longer appeared to be operating out of its White Sea base, where it has been active since July. Officials warned that Russia may plan to test Belgorod's "Poseidon" weapons system, a drone equipped with a nuclear bomb that Russia has claimed is capable of creating a "radioactive tsunami," according to Italian media.
The drone can be deployed from the submarine at any time and detonated at a depth of 1 kilometer near a coastal city. Russian state media has claimed the device can create a 1,600-ft. wave that smashes into the coast and irradiates it.
Bulgaria will exempt fuel supplies from the embargo, in view of the country’s economic plight
Energy-starved Bulgaria will temporarily cease to enforce EU sanctions on Russian fuel, to ensure the work of government institutions, the state press service reported on Wednesday following a Cabinet meeting.
According to the report, Russian companies supplying automotive fuel will be exempt from the embargo until the end of 2024, due to shortages in the country.
Oil prices will rise again to $100 per barrel faster than previously estimated, Morgan Stanley said on Thursday, lifting its price forecast for the first quarter of 2023 to $100 from $95 per barrel.
“Brent will find its way to $100 per barrel quicker than we estimated before,” the investment bank said in a note carried by Reuters after OPEC+ decided on Wednesday to make the largest nominal cut to its oil production quota since 2020.
OPEC+ agreed on a 2-million-bpd cut from November, but the actual reduction in supply from the alliance is estimated at around 1 million bpd-1.1 million bpd, considering that many producers haven’t pumped to quotas for months because of a lack of capacity and/or investment, or – in Russia’s case – because of sanctions. Most of the actual cuts will come from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf producers.
Manufacturing growth in the United States slowed in September to its lowest rate since the pandemic recovery started, in another sign that the U.S. economy is cooling amid aggressive interest rate hikes from the Fed.
If the trend continues in the coming months, it would mean a recession is coming to the United States, analysts say.
Still, most believe it could be a mild recession, or at least a very short one, which may not have a significant impact on oil demand.
Major forecasters, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the U.S. EIA, continue to expect oil demand to grow year over year both in 2022 and 2023.
However, the oil market is focused on fears of a recession instead of on fundamentals, as Saudi Aramco’s chief executive Amin Nasser said earlier this week. The market is currently ignoring the very low global spare capacity and the fact that producers will struggle with oil supply once economies recover, Nasser says.
Joe Biden has warned members of his task force on abortion access to beware of Republicans ‘extreme’ policies on the procedure.
A Reproductive Rights Task Force meeting was held on Tuesday, roughly 100 days since the overturning of the Roe v. Wade. There, Biden warned blue state residents that they should be worried if Republicans win in this year’s midterm elections.
“Congressional Republicans are doubling down on extreme position with the proposal for a national ban,” Biden warned. “Let me be clear about what that means. That means that even if you live in a state where extremist Republicans officials aren’t running the show. Your right to choose will still be at risk. Because Republicans in Congress want to pass a law that removes the right to choose for every woman, state and county.”
However, Biden did not mention that several Republican officials have said the issue of abortion should be decided on a state-by-state basis.
The President then went on to claim that extremist laws are already popping up across some Republican states.
As Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman battle to take Pennsylvania’s Senate seat, a lot of issues have emerged with the latter’s campaign.
For one thing, Fetterman has a disturbing track record just on crime alone. He’s openly stated that convicted murderers shouldn’t be forced to spend the rest of their lives behind bars. During a mayoral stint, various crimes also increased on the Pennsylvania Democrat’s watch, despite his claims to the contrary.
Back in April, Fetterman suffered a stroke. This has raised questions about his health, speech, and cognitive functions going forward. Even outlets that are far from right-wing have conceded the Democrat needs to be more transparent, starting with the release of his latest medical records.
While Fetterman hasn’t publicized these records, he did sit down for an interview with MSNBC that has many Americans scratching their heads.
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and his staff are actively working with the Democratic Party to bolster their chances in the upcoming midterm elections.
This fact is known because private text messages from the Mayor’s phone were obtained by media outlets and reported on by The Federalist.
Rep. Janel Brandtjen submitted an open records request for the text messages and received what he was looking for. The texts show longtime Democratic Party operative Sachin Chheda speaking with Mayor Johnson about talking points for the Wisconsin Votes get-out-the-vote campaign. A left-wing group pushes the effort under the banner of the Center for Tech and Civic Life (funded in part by Mark Zuckerberg).
City officials have stated that Chheda is not receiving private funding for the effort, but it still shows that two things are apparent. The first is that the Mayor’s office is receiving marching orders from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and the second is that they appear to follow those orders in many cases.
“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling laid into “genderists” in a brief Twitter thread on Wednesday, slamming them for making excuses when it was revealed that a “paedophilia apologist” had been allowed to sit on the board of trustees at a transgender children’s charity.
Rowling, who often leans to the left on the political spectrum, has drawn a hard line at radical gender theory — which she argues erases women — and has been labeled a Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) for her troubles.
The author still speaks out on the subject regularly, despite receiving numerous threats. On Wednesday, she responded to reports that Dr. Jacob Breslow — an associate professor of gender and sexuality at the London School of Economics — had resigned from the transgender children’s charity Mermaids after people became aware that he had once spoken at a B4U-ACT conference promoting support for pedophiles.
Federal agents allegedly paid a gun-drawn visit to at least one pro-life activist home Wednesday for protesting at a Tennessee abortion facility last year, while others were ordered to report to their local authorities to face federal charges.
CNN network bosses have reportedly pulled veteran anchor Jim Sciutto off the air and ordered him to “address a personal situation” following a bad fall in Amsterdam.
Rystad Energy AS analyst Louise Dickson was on Bloomberg TV earlier today and explained a much tighter oil market is ahead following the announcement of OPEC+ cuts.
"We're now steering down into a much tighter oil market for the remainder of 4Q 2022, in particular December 2022, where we could see a split from a surplus to draws," Dickson said.
He also pointed out:
"OPEC+ could in fact sort of unintentionally spur a bit of a supercycle in pricing and this is a bit of a precarious situation to put the market into".
So is brent headed back over $100 a barrel?
Months after an Iowa high school hosted a drag event featuring multiple performers who encouraged students to explore their gender identities, one mother — wearing the same outfit as one of the performers — blasted school board members over their alleged failure to address parental concerns.
The National Guard administered the COVID-19 vaccine to multiple service members who were lined up for the influenza vaccine, including a member who objected to the COVID-19 vaccine on religious grounds, according to officials and one of the members.
The incident took place in late 2021.
During a vaccination clinic where both flu and COVID-19 vaccines were being administered, “three service members were accidently given a COVID vaccine,” Maj. Carl Lamb, a spokesman for the Maine National Guard, told The Epoch Times in an email.
Mathew Bouchard, who is no longer with the Guard, has identified himself as one of the members.
Conservatives on social media mocked the Biden administration and had fun with a photo of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at the presidential podium Wednesday.
For the old timers in here, it seems like just yesterday that the US national debt was "only" pushing $6 trillion. Then, between the 'war on terror' and QE which made a mockery of moral hazard, America has now reached a grim financial milestone - as the national debt tops $31 trillion for the first time, according to a new Treasury Department report.
The record-high debt comes as historically low interest rates have turned into higher borrowing costs, as the Fed attempts to tame the inflation they, the banks, and the 'blank check' dinosaurs leading the country - have caused.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Japan Coast Guard report that North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles towards the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula this evening.
The two missiles launched Thurs. fell outside Japan’s EEZ, NHK reports citing an unidentified government official.
This launch comes just two days after they fired a longer-range missile over Japan.
As Statista's infographic shows below, North Korean missile tests have intensified in 2022 and were already at a record high by June. As the data from the Nuclear Threat Initiative shows, posturing from North Korea has been on the rise again after a test-less 2018. In 2018 and early 2019, two summits between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Trump brought tests to a halt, but eventually rendered no concrete results as rhetoric between the two nations grew heated again quickly.
Last week, alongside the release of the last revision to Q2 GDP, the Bureau of Economic Analysis also released revisions to national accounts going back several years. They had profound implications for the perceived state of the US economy, and contained some good and some terrible news.
First, the good news: the revision helped to resolve a data conundrum that had been bothering economists - namely the historically large gap between GDP and GDI. As BofA's Michael Gapen explains, GDP was revised modestly higher coming out of the pandemic, while growth in GDI was revised sharply lower. In the debate over whether growth in economic activity slowed markedly in the first half of the year (the prior signal from GDP) or grew modestly (the prior signal from GDI), the latest revisions point in the direction of GDP sending the more accurate signal in real time (yes, it was slowing, contrary to what the Biden admin says).
While that in itself will not resolve the debate whether the US economy was in recession in 1H 22 (it was, but the determination is super political and won't happen ahead of the midterms), it does confirm that momentum slowed appreciably, despite re-opening forces and the rotation of household spending toward services. Bottom line: after revisions, real GDI rose by only 0.8% and 0.1% q/q saar, respectively, in the first and second quarter this year.
What goes up must come down. With financial conditions going from super tight to rather easy...
... in literally 48 hours as markets soared after pricing in a Fed pivot (again), in the process making a Fed pivot unlikely, even as "Buy-to-Cover" flows have been "absolutely staggering" (in the parlance of Nomura's Charlie McElligott), it appears that 'ammunition' for a squeeze has run dry.
“Be afraid, be actually afraid.”
Those words from former Politico Magazine editor Garrett M. Graff captures the hyperventilation in the media week. No it is not Vladimir Putin’s threat of unleashing a nuclear war or the word that our national debt has reached a staggering $31 trillion. No, it is the news that Elon Musk may go forward with the purchase of Twitter and . . . [triggering warning] . . . free speech protections might be restored on the platform. The pearl-clutching of various media and academic figures show how engrained the censorship culture has become in the United States.