I need to reach a wider audience!
I need to reach a wider audience!
"Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to lie." -- Michael Rivero
The bank crisis, Fed and macro continue to lead the market in a daily rollercoaster, and while that won't change for at least a few days, Goldman's consumer retail trader Scott Feiler notes in his trading note today, there are some notable things to highlight in consumer...
1. First signs of a notable low-income slowdown?:
Feiler notes that investors have been bearish consumers for much of the year, even before the issues with the banks: he writes that "we had heard COST and VISA talk to modest deceleration in February (100-200 bps), but nothing precipitous. The big question has been whether anyone has seen a more worrisome slowdown with tax refunds (down double-digits y/y) and SNAP reductions (end of February) more front and center."
Well, according to the Goldman trader, we got that answer this morning from CTRN (Citi trends): it is an apparel store that caters to the low-income consumer. They guided 1Q sales to be down low double-digits vs Consensus +2%. This does not seem like conservatism like some other below consensus 1Q guides, as they explicitly said 1Q is off to a slow start. They said that given the macro-economic environment, they expect low income families, the bulk of their customer base, to remain under pressure in 1H.
Ukraine appears willing to engage China in mediation efforts to end the war, at a moment China's Xi Jinping is in Moscow discussing Beijing's own 12-point peace plan. With the main part of talks with Putin having been concluded as of Tuesday night, there's been no breakthrough among the "friends" to come of it thus far.
"We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when they are ready for that in the West and in Kyiv. However, so far we see no such readiness from their side," Putin said, laying blame on the Ukrainians.
On Monday, state Senator Scott Wiener (CA-11), a Democrat representing San Francisco, “A DeSantis-style bill was just introduced in CA to require teachers/counselors to inform parents if a kid id's as a gender not on birth certificate. Even if the kid isn't ready to come out to their parents. Even if ratting the kid out risks violence at home. Nope, not in CA.”
The relationship between parent and child is important; trust is vital. This politician apparently has no problem helping schools keep secrets from parents and using the law to do it.
Unfortunately, Wiener had become outraged and gotten his facts wrong. The author of the bill he was referring to tweeted later in the thread and explained the legislation for all on Twitter to see.
Bill Essayli, (CA-63), a Republican representative representing the Sacramento area explained his legislation.
“I just introduced a bill #AB1314 which will require schools to notify parents when a student is actively identifying by a different gender. Unfortunately, this bill is necessary because schools are instructing teachers to conceal this information from parents.
In late February 2003 I could no longer hope against hope that war against Iraq could be avoided. This was beyond sad – beyond frustrating. It was unnecessary, and “the consequences were likely to be catastrophic.” I needed to take a time-out for a rigorous swim during the “adult hour” at the local high school pool; a promising way to put the coming carnage out of my mind by putting the rest of my body through its paces.
It was there it happened. Post-swim, I stood, buck naked, in the large shower room feeling as though my body and mind could indeed hang in there together; Suddenly, my blood pressure went sky high, and I found my training in nonviolence put to the test as never before. Who struts into the shower room but Kenneth Adelman, privileged protégé and egger-on of then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board then headed by the infamous Richard Perle.
Still ringing in my ears was a benighted but highly mischievous op-ed Adelman had written a year earlier blithely claiming that “demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.” So, when I saw him, I came close to losing it: “You and your neocon friends are going to get a lot of people killed, not only kids that don’t look like your kids, but American kids as well.” I then added a more colloquial, two-word expression for male bovine excrement to describe his “cakewalk” forecast. (In the heat of the moment it escaped me that nonviolent action includes forgoing such expletives, but I am not contrite. As for Cakewalker Adelman, he walked abruptly to his locker and was quickly gone.)
The US Army has officially opened its first permanent military garrison on NATO’s “eastern flank” in a ceremony on Tuesday.
Stretching from the Baltics to the Black Sea, the eastern portion of the North Atlantic bloc is made up of eight nations – all former members of the USSR or Warsaw Pact. The US Army’s V Corps will now have a lasting presence at Camp Kosciuszko in Poland.
The V Corps’ commanding general, Lt. Gen. John Kolasheski, explained the garrison showed that Washington is deepening its military commitments in Eastern Europe. “The relationship of the US and Poland serves as an example of the deepening ties throughout the alliance,” he said, adding “today’s activation ceremony is a tangible reminder of the growth in our relationship.”
The United Nations estimates that 43,000 Somalis starved to death last year. At least half of those who died are said to have been children less than five years old. The Horn of Africa nation is suffering from a drought as well as a US military campaign targeting the insurgent group al-Shabaab.
At the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, he ordered the withdrawal of all American troops from Somalia. After taking office, President Joe Biden ordered soldiers to return to Somalia, provided millions in military assistance to Mogadishu, and increased drone strikes in the country. Meanwhile, at the beginning of 2022, the UN reported over 1 million Somalis will suffer from acute malnutrition because of a drought.
In a joint statement from the Somali government, the UN and World Health Organization stated the death toll could have been much worse and warned 2023 could see tens of thousands of people starve to death. “These estimates suggest that although famine has been averted, for now the crisis is far from over,” the joint statement said.
In March of 2003, the United States launched an illegal war of aggression against Iraq.
The US regime promoted that illegal war of aggression, starting well in advance, through the manufacture and repetition of falsehoods for the purpose of cultivating fear over non-existent threats, and loathing over nonexistent connections between the Iraqi regime an the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.
In the execution of that illegal war of aggression, thousands of American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died.
Twenty years later, none of the American culprits in that deadly deception operation have been brought to justice. Some – for example, secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and secretary of state Colin Powell – have since died. Others – for example, president George W. Bush, and national security advisor Condoleeza Rice – remain not just alive and at large, but even prominent, influential, and widely respected.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies aren’t responding to requests for comment about the role their institutions played in making the case for war in Iraq.
Moreover, it appears they’ve taken steps to remove evidence of their actions from the Internet or outright deny the actions they took in 2002.
FDD was founded in April 2001 as EMET (Hebrew for “truth”) “to provide education to enhance Israel’s image in North America and the public’s understanding of issues affecting Israeli-Arab relations.” Clifford May, its founder, quickly went about pushing for war. In April 2002, he described Iran and Iraq as “terrorist-sponsoring regimes attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction.”
And in January 2002, May wrote, “That Saddam still has weapons of mass destruction cannot be seriously doubted,” in National Review Online.
Both articles are no longer visible on FDD’s website, although they are available on other sites. FDD didn’t just serve as a home base for numerous advocates for the Iraq War, the group took institutional positions advancing false intelligence about Iraq’s alleged WMDs.
The US State Department's annual human rights report has deferred to the Israeli government's version of events on the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and did not mention the death of a US citizen who died after being arrested by Israeli forces last year.
The report, released on Monday, did not label the journalist's death as an extrajudicial or arbitrary killing, only noting it under its section on freedom of expression.
Last May, Israeli forces shot and killed Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid on the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Her death sparked Palestinian outrage and widespread international condemnation.
Britain and Israel will sign an agreement aimed at deepening technology, trade, and security ties over the next seven years when UK foreign minister James Cleverly meets his Israeli counterpart in London on Tuesday, The New Arab reported.
The decision comes despite a political crisis engulfing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial judicial overhaul, and the continued persecution and oppression of Palestinians in occupied territories.
Israel’s Eli Cohen is visiting London to sign the new roadmap for relations with Britain.
“Our roadmap will allow us to fully take advantage of the opportunities in areas of mutual interest, including tech, trade and security,” Cleverly said in a statement ahead of the visit.
Ethiopia’s government has accused the United States of taking a “partisan” approach by alleging that its forces, and Eritrean troops, had committed war crimes during the two-year conflict in Tigray.
“The US statement is inflammatory,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday, a day after Washington accused all parties to the conflict of committing war crimes but singled out Ethiopian, Eritrean and regional Amhara forces for crimes against humanity, without mentioning forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Later on Tuesday, Eritrea’s foreign ministry said the allegations were “unsubstantiated and defamatory” and constituted a “continuation of unwarranted hostility and demonisation that US administrations have pursued against Eritrea since 2009 to advance their ulterior political agendas.”
Donald Trump has told advisers that he wants to be handcuffed when he makes an appearance in court, if he is indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in paying hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels, multiple sources close to the former president have said.
The former president has reasoned that since he would need to go to the courthouse and surrender himself to authorities for fingerprinting and a mug shot anyway, the sources said, he might as well turn everything into a “spectacle”.
That is the apocalyptic vision put forward by expert Charles Dunst in his new book Defeating the Dictators as he warns that democracy is now in a fight with autocracy for control of the future, and is in danger of losing unless it rapidly gets its act together.
In his new book, expert Charles Dunst warns that democracy is now in a fight with autocracy for control of the future. Pictured: China's president Xi Jinping (left) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (right) share a toast during their meeting in Moscow on Tuesday
But victory will not belong to whoever has the biggest army, he argues. It will be won by whoever can prove their system works best.
In his doomsday vision, America loses to China not because it lacks weapons - but because it lacks conviction in its own way of life.
The author's warning comes as China's President Xi Jinping delivered a chilling warning to the West, telling his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that 'change is coming' in an ominous parting message as he left Moscow on Wednesday night.
Today is the anniversary of the “suicide” of Mark Lombardi in 2000.
Eight months before an idiot son of the Bush crime family “won” the election for president…
A year before Osama bin Laden became famous for 9-11…
Mark Lombardi, who had just achieved a major breakthrough in his career as an artist, reportedly hanged himself in his Brooklyn studio.
His art form?
Drawing intricately detailed diagrams of the relationship between the Bush family and its allies, the Bin Laden family, and other global criminals.
On at least two occasions in 2021, in May and November of that year, there were leaks from the Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii that contaminated drinking water for thousands of military personnel and their families. A new court filing from Monday now alleges that there were additional toxins in the contaminated water.
“While the United States eventually identified JP5,” reads the filing, “The government failed to notify the plaintiffs or warn about antifreeze or other additives to the JP5 that are harmful in their own right.”
The filing also alleges the government claims it had no reason to warn residents of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam about the fuel leaks or the risks they posed to the water those residents used daily.
An internal memo from the Hawaii Department of Health published on February 2, and given to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser by lawyers representing military families involved in an ongoing lawsuit over the fuel leak, found water samples collected in the weeks following the November fuel leak also contained diethylene glycol, a chemical compound used in aviation fuel to prevent the formation of ice crystals.
For five years, former federal appeals court judge and Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff has been secretly advising the Supreme Court on security matters, Chertoff confirmed to Congress in a letter released Tuesday.
The arrangement went undisclosed until this year because there was no requirement for the high court to reveal it.
Chertoff’s acknowledgement of the work came in response to an inquiry from lawmakers who wanted more details on the role he and his firm played investigating the unprecedented leak of a draft of the pivotal Dobbs abortion ruling to POLITICO last year. Offering a rare glimpse into Supreme Court operations, Chertoff said that his consulting firm’s work for the high court dates back to 2018 and included a review of the Dobbs leak investigation led by the Supreme Court marshal’s office.
“Our firm was not asked and did not participate in the investigative process, including conducting interviews with subjects of the investigation,” Chertoff wrote in his March 15, 2023 letter.
A US judge has cleared the way for three lawsuits against banking giants JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank, alleging both companies knowingly benefited from their relationships with convicted sex predator Jeffrey Epstein. Manhattan District Judge Jed Rakoff issued the four-page accusation on Tuesday, with a fuller statement to be published “in due course.”
The first lawsuit against JP Morgan, filed by an unnamed “Jane Doe” representing a group of the pedophile’s victims, argues the US-based bank “knowingly benefited from participating in a sex trafficking venture” led by Epstein, who was a client there from 1998 through 2013, and “negligently failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent physical harm.”
The US Virgin Islands’ own suit against JP Morgan alleges the bank enabled the late predator’s sex trafficking operation, though Judge Rakoff also threw out three of the four claims in that suit.
The success of the Russian-Chinese talks in Moscow is not the US’ business, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Russian TV Tuesday.
"Look, this is none of their business, none of the Americans’ business," he said, commenting on a question from a reporter about the reaction of Western states. He added that the negotiations are relations of Russia and China.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, commenting on Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia that the Chinese leader went there mere days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the US diplomat, China "'feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable" and provides "diplomatic cover" to Russia.
Sometimes I think that the script being used by the Biden Administration to manage its foreign and national security policies has been written by George Orwell, though I am not sure if it based on 1984 or Animal Farm. Maybe it is a combination of the two. Either way, it would help explain why there is something seriously wrong here. For example, at the end of February Congress, confronted by a debt ceiling, began discussing cutting Medicare and Social Security while more recently a banking sector crisis seems to be developing so Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen decided to go off doing photo-ops in Kiev embracing Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky shortly after handing him the keys to the US economy. She explained to Zelensky how the White House had approved an additional $12 billion in aid to Ukraine during the previous week, including $2 billion for the military and $10 billion to support Zelensky’s government and other infrastructure needs. The US Treasury is now de facto the source of the Ukraine government’s entire annual budget.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Tuesday in a surprise visit to the Eastern European country to hold talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of a G-7 summit that Tokyo will host in May.
The visit, which had been kept secret until right before arrival, comes a day after Kishida met with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in New Delhi. It is rare for a Japanese leader to make an unannounced trip to a foreign nation.
While lost in the explosive news about Donald Trump’s expected arrest, journalist Matt Taibbi released new details on previously undisclosed censorship efforts on social media. The latest Twitter Files revealed a breathtaking effort from Stanford’s Virality Project to censor even true stories. After all, the project insisted “true stories … could fuel hesitancy” over taking the vaccine or other measures. The effort included suppressing stories that we now know are legitimate such as natural immunity defenses, the exaggerated value of masks, and questions over vaccine efficacy in preventing second illnesses. The work of the Virality Project to censor even true stories should result in the severance of any connection with Stanford University.
We have learned of an ever-expanding coalition of groups working with the government and social media to target and censor Americans, including government-funded organizations.
However, the new files are chilling in the details allegedly showing how the Virality Project labeled even true stories as “anti-vaccine” and, therefore, subject to censorship. These files would suggest that the Project eagerly worked to limit free speech and suppress alternative scientific viewpoints.
Taibbi describes the Virality Project as “a sweeping, cross-platform effort to monitor billions of social media posts by Stanford University, federal agencies, and a slew of (often state-funded) NGOs.”
The UK's junior Defense Minister Annabel Goldie told Parliament on Tuesday, "Alongside our granting of a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, we will be providing ammunition including armor piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium."
"Such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armored vehicles." News of Britain sending armor-piercing tank rounds for Challenger II tanks to Kiev triggered a fierce reaction from the Kremlin, with a strong-worded statement emphasizing that such a weapon will be treated as tantamount to using a nuclear dirty bomb.
The troubles of once-major Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse is undermining Switzerland’s reputation as a global financial hub, says Opimas CEO Octavio Marenzi, as cited by CNBC on Tuesday.
His warning follows a historic takeover of Credit Suisse by the UBS Group, its domestic rival. On Sunday the two banking giants announced a Swiss-government-brokered deal aimed at shoring up public confidence in the Western financial system and at averting a global crisis. UBS agreed to acquire the embattled bank for three billion Swiss francs ($3.2 billion) as part of a cut-price deal.
“Switzerland’s standing as a financial center is shattered,” Marenzi reportedly said, adding that “The country will now be viewed as a financial banana republic.”
What’s new: An investment official at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State received for years a “finder’s fee” from a Swiss bank, which accrued when the Vatican deposited money or conducted other transactions with the bank.
What will happen: Fabrizio Tirabassi is already suspended from his job during an investigation of financial scandals at the Secretariat of State, and could face prosecution for this latest revelation.
It is also possible he could try to cut a deal with prosecutors by providing information about his bosses, including at least two cardinals.
The Ukrainian defense industry believes it will be hard to launch drone strikes deep inside Russia this spring, considering Russia's electromagnetic defense is akin to "black magic," according to The Economist weekly.
The British paper quoted a Ukrainian defense industry insider as saying that Kiev expects to gain "significant and high-tech capacity" in the coming weeks and months as Ukraine prepares to mount an offensive against the Russian territories.
That said, only a few military systems can perform well against Russia's sophisticated electronic warfare systems. The industry source admitted to The Economist that Russian air defense forces are "very, very good at what they do.
NATO prophesied a Second Russian Offensive (SRO) on the muddy heals of rasputitsa [Spring]. Then when queried, on February 13, about upcoming festivities, Secretary-General Stoltenberg imparted: “we are seeing the start already.” The SRO crept imperceptibly. April Fools’ came early.
The Russo-Ukrainian War’s 800-kilometer front bisects the Donbass with a 240-kilometer incision. The SRO engages a segment of Donbass-situated line, with the Russian-held city, Donetsk, at its strategic core. The SRO’s operational theatre contiguously connects 5 small Ukrainian-held cities: (north-to-south) Bakhmut, Chavis Yar, Avdiivka, Marinka and Vuhledar
As missiles fly, Bakhmut sits 120 kilometers northeast of Vuhledar. Curves add length to lines; as do flanks of advancing Russian saliants. From the saliant northwest of Bakhmut to the southwestern environs of Vuhledar – the SRO’s battleline extends 160 kilometers; a third laying within or along urban terrain.
Under the 1984 Bayh-Dole Act, government scientists can collect royalties from drug companies for discoveries they make while working on the public’s dime
Taxpayers fund government research, while Big Pharma, the National Institutes of Health and NIH scientists keep all the profits
As a patent holder who profits from royalties, the NIH has a significant stake in regulations that impact patents and vaccine mandates, and may use its influence to benefit itself rather than the public
The NIH distributes $32 billion of taxpayer funds as research grants each year. As the largest federal grant-maker, the NIH has a monopoly on what research gets done and what doesn’t
Scientists vying for grants also recognize that in order to get funding, they have to play by the rules, and that means doing work that supports establishment narratives on public health policy
A former member of parliament died in an Egyptian prison on Monday in the third death in less than 48 hours and the eighth this year, a rights group told Middle East Eye.
According to the Committee for Justice (CFJ), the octogenarian detainee and former parliamentarian Ragab Mohamed Abu Zeid Zair died after his health deteriorated in his prison cell.
Zair was elected as a member of the first democratically elected parliament after the 2011 revolution, representing the Shebeen al-Kum constituency in Menofia governorate.
He was among thousands of then-army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's opponents who were detained in 2013 following his coup against Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president.
Munitions with depleted uranium will have a serious negative effect on the health of servicemen who use them, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has said.
In a fragment of an interview to the Rossiya-1 TV, released via Telegram by journalist Pavel Zarubin, Shoigu said NATO had already used such munitions "during the  events in Kosovo, Serbia." A subsequent investigation into their use revealed that the health of servicemen, who used them, was seriously harmed.
"There were consequences. There were consequences for the health of those who used those munitions. There were serious health conditions, and they were studied. However, they did not examine what kind of effect the munitions had on those against whom they were used," the Russian minister added.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned Canada’s top diplomat in Moscow to lodge a formal complaint, after the Canadian foreign minister made “inadmissible remarks” earlier this month.
Melanie Joly told a news conference on March 10 that Ottawa was seeking “potential regime change in Russia.” Members of the cabinet are “seeing potential” for that outcome thanks to their efforts to isolate “the Russian regime” economically, politically and diplomatically, she stated.
The Canadian charge d’affaires in Moscow, Brian Ebel, was summoned on March 20 and issued with a formal protest over the remarks, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. Moscow believes the comments to be “inadmissible and at variance with Canada’s obligations under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”