COMING UP SHORT THIS MONTH.
Thought for the day
"Only one form of contagion travels faster than a virus. And that's fear." -- Dan Brown
Now that the Nord Stream pipeline might have been sabotaged by Washington, as promised by US President Joe Biden on January 7, and is possibly gone forever (according to German authorities), it is time to consider the possible impacts.
The energy crisis in the EU has always been pushed by American interests. Moreover, the US has been engaging in economic warfare and even weaponizing the dollar for too long, but it has been clear for months now that its current economic and financial war against Russia has backfired – and once again, mostly upon Europe. Such economic wars in fact may dangerously spiral out of control, and are considered to be one of the causes of the 1929 crisis in the post-Versailles world.
Philip Pilkington, an Irish economist who works in investment finance, famous for his contributions on the empirical estimate of general equilibrium and other fields, has made quite interesting observations about the possible deindustrialization of Europe as a consequence of economic warfare. He remarks on how in the post-pandemic world debts in the West have been accumulating and, on top of that, the current conflict in Ukraine has brought extra energy costs.
After the conflict ends – or becomes a “frozen conflict” – or after good diplomacy is reestablished, Russia could start to once again supply gas to Europe as usual – this is how many analysts reasoned. However, now that the pipelines are gone, the price of energy in the continent is to remain tremendously high for years to come. With permanent high energy prices making manufacturing not economically viable anymore (thus decreasing European purchasing power), one should expect to see the bloc shutting out exports to revive an uncompetitive industry while increasing energy investments. These are Pilkington’s main points and it might be worth delving into them.
The Belgorod has disappeared from its home base in the Arctic Circle and may be on its way to the Kara Sea to test the Poseidon nuke, a NATO warning note leaked to Italian media over the weekend has suggested.
Poseidon is a drone that is said to be capable of travelling huge distances underwater before detonating with enough force to trigger a 1,600ft nuclear tsunami designed to drown and irradiate coastal cities.
It has lain within a burial chamber, undisturbed, for thousands of years. Now a remarkable Egyptian sarcophagus has emerged from deep beneath the sands near Cairo, to the excitement of archaeologists, who describe it as a hugely significant “dream discovery”.
The giant granite sarcophagus is covered in inscriptions dedicated to Ptah-em-wia, who headed the treasury of King Ramses II, Egypt’s mightiest pharaoh.
Ola El Aguizy, emeritus professor of the faculty of archaeology at Cairo University, discovered it in Saqqara, an ancient necropolis about 20 miles south of Cairo. Last year, El Aguizy, who heads the archaeological mission at the site, uncovered Ptah-em-wia’s surface-level tomb. Now she has found his underground burial chamber with the sarcophagus, which could reveal more about those who ruled Egypt after Tutankhamun.
Bros writer and actor Billy Eichner took to Twitter on Sunday to reflect on the disappointing performance of his gay romcom at the box office following its opening weekend.
The 44-year-old actor-comedian issued a series of tweets about the film, which is the first LGBTQ romantic comedy given a large release by a major studio.
Despite a $22million production budget and rave reviews, the film took in just $4.8million and landed fourth place at the US box office.
Webmaster addition: Get woke, go broke.
A few years from now, in addition to deciding your next vehicle’s make and model, you may have another tough choice: the Google model or the Apple one? Other options may include “car maker generic" and even, I’m spitballing the name here: Amazon Prime Edition.
Now that cars, especially electric ones, are becoming something like smartphones on wheels, some of the dynamics that played out in the early days of the mobile industry are playing out in the auto industry. Competition between the two kingpins of the smartphone industry has in the past couple of years gained new momentum, with Google racking up auto-maker partnerships for the automobile-based version of its Android operating system, and Apple teasing plans to expand its software capabilities in the car.
For the car companies involved, which face the nearly impossible challenge of producing software on par with what tech companies offer, working with Silicon Valley can address consumer desires while also staving off competition from companies like Tesla. And yet there is an inherent tension in these partnerships over who controls the user experience and the valuable data produced.
US health officials have given a hugely controversial research organization another $650,000 (£580k) grant to experiment on Covid-like viruses – despite fears similar risky work may have actually sparked the pandemic.
EcoHealth Alliance, run by British zoologist Peter Daszak, funded studies in Wuhan – the Chinese city where the pandemic began – on manipulated coronaviruses.
Such research, known as 'gain of function', can see viruses deliberately engineered to become more dangerous to humans.
Israel is holding nearly 800 Palestinians without trial or charge, the highest number since 2008, an Israeli rights group said Sunday.
The group, HaMoked, which regularly gathers figures from Israeli prison authorities, said that 798 Palestinians are currently being held in so-called administrative detention, a practice where the prisoners can be held for months, do not know the charges against them and are not granted access to the evidence against them.
The group said the number of those held in administrative detention has risen steadily this year, as Israel conducts nightly arrest raids in the occupied West Bank in response to a spate of attacks against Israelis earlier this year.
September that Israeli troops and extremist settlers have stormed and attacked 15 mosques since the start of the year.
The minister highlighted that these provocative actions come as a direct result of Tel Aviv’s policy which allows settlers to carry out violent and destructive acts with impunity, stressing that such behavior could trigger a religious war.
Last year alone, the Palestinian Authority (PA) recorded more than ten attacks on different mosques across the West Bank, as well as the damaging of several others in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli aerial bombardment.
The most commonly attacked religious site in the West Bank is Al-Aqsa Mosque, located in the occupied holy city of Jerusalem. The mosque’s compound is stormed on almost a daily basis by extremist settlers, who regularly carry out these raids under heavy protection from Israeli police.
Jewish settlers perform religious Jewish rituals at Al-Aqsa Mosque under heavy army security. (Photo: PIC)
Dozens of Jewish settlers, escorted by Israeli occupation forces, broke into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem on Sunday and performed rituals across the courtyards of the Mosque, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
The Jordan-run Islamic Waqf Department, in charge of the holy site, said scores of Jewish settlers entered the compound through the Moroccan Gate in successive groups and performed rituals and Talmudic prayers there.
Proving that there's no disinformation that MSNBC won't stoop to, Joy Reid recently compared Ron DeSantis' warnings to looters after the damage caused by Hurricane Ian with "segregationist" rhetoric, posting the vitriol on Twitter after she was angered by the fact that DeSantis presented Florida as a "2nd Amendment state."
On Saturday, the host of MSNBC’s "The ReidOut" tweeted that DeSantis telling people not to loot and warning they might be shot by gun-carrying Floridians had the same tone as "segregationist Miami sheriff Walter E. Headley" infamously saying, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts" in the ’60s.
Ironically, such comments often reveal the racism inherent among leftist journalists as they insinuate that looters cannot be white, only minorities.
Otherwise, how can Reid make a segregationist accusation against DeSantis?
The Florida Governor is quoted as saying:
"The other thing that we’re concerned about, particularly in those areas that were really hard hit, is, you know, we want to make sure we’re maintaining law and order....Don’t even think about looting. Don’t even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation."
"I can tell you in the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody’s home. And I would not want to chance that if I were you, given that we’re a Second Amendment state."
The reality is that looters come in all shapes, sizes and colors and 2nd Amendment defense applies to ALL of them, including the white looters.
Reid's insanity continued as she attempted to link Hurricane Ian to global warming, even though there is zero evidence to back the claim. The EPA's own cyclone record indicates that there is nothing especially unique about current hurricane trends when compared to the past several decades.
New York City signaled plenty of virtue over its "sanctuary city" status, though it has been overwhelmed with thousands of illegal immigrants being bused in from Texas, and the costs are skyrocketing. In another interesting development, NYPost reported Mayor Eric Adams is securing a deal with the Norwegian Cruise Line to house the migrants on a luxury cruise ship.
Sources tell NYPost Adams is finalizing a deal with Norwegian to rent a massive cruise liner for six months to house and process migrants before entering the city's overwhelmed shelter system.
The vessel would be docked at Staten Island's Homeport. Migrants would be allowed to come and go as they please while staying on the ship.
Sources explained the cruise ship rental would be much cheaper than building out another tent city in the metro area. The one in the Bronx, at the Orchard Beach parking, is slated to open soon and will cost $15 million per month to operate.
“What will it take for the Fed to pause?” I asked, early morning, screens aglow, the smell of impending policy-maker panic drifting across our trading floor like freshly brewed coffee. We were discussing relentless dollar strength, what it means, where it leads. “It’s harder to answer in this cycle, because I don’t really think that dollar strength is specifically because of the Fed, at least not completely,” said Lindsay Politi, our inflation-strategies portfolio-manager, brilliant. “It’s the logical consequence of the QE bubble bursting. Fed tightening is part of it, sure, but it’s not like when the Fed pauses all the root cause of the problems will go away.”
“One thing I’ve learned about market collapses is that what gets you into them won’t get you out of them, and the people who rode the wave on the way up will not be the ones stepping in to buy the bottom,” continued Lindsay. “That’s why, this time, I wouldn’t be looking to central banks to save us,” she said. “Some of this is also because, in a high debt, inflationary world, the US is just a better credit. In this crisis, markets are going to go after sovereign credits. And remember, pricing default risk is about combining default probability and recovery rate.”
Ironically, the push toward carbon-rationing and CBDCs is based on the same insight by sound money advocates: Fiat is worthless.
Let me tell you a parable about value. It’s about how the “thing” that everybody assumes has value can change over time, and by the time it changes, people have completely lost touch with the original measure of value.
In the early 00’s, easyDNS was getting ready to move our servers out of our physical office and into an actual data colocation center in downtown Toronto.
When we got our first cabinet, we were billed in terms of how much rackspace we were using, and what our bandwidth consumption was. In those days, the servers were trying to pack themselves into smaller enclosures and compress the data payloads to reduce bandwidth. There were 2U boxes, the bleeding edge stuff coming out was 1U, and if you were a dinosaur from late-90’s, you might have some legacy 4U servers, which were costing you a fortune to rack.
What was missing from that equation?
First it was 500Kb/d, then 1 million. Now, according to both Bloomberg and the WSJ, OPEC+ will likely announce that it is slashing output by more than a million barrels per day when it meets this Wednesday in Vienna.
With the amicable days of fistbumps long gone...
... the larger-than-expected reduction will reflect the scale of concern that central banks are rushing to spark a global recession, which in turn is crippling oil demand and demanding a supply response. The dollar, which has hit record highs pretty much every day in Q3, has also weighed on prices.
That said, a final decision on the size of the cuts won’t be made until ministers meet, Bloomberg's sources said while the WSJ noted that because the ultimate decision will be hotly debated, the group decided to meet in person in Vienna on Wednesday for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Other options being considered include a smaller reduction of 500,000 barrels a day or as much as 1.5 million barrels a day.
The Journal's Summer Said noted that the option to cut more than 1 million barrels a day is backed by Russia, the group’s biggest non-OPEC partner. But the cartel’s biggest exporter, Saudi Arabia, has some reservations on the size of the cut, the delegates said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated on Saturday that Ankara could block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO if the two countries don’t fulfill a deal they signed with Turkey on joining the alliance.
Sweden and Finland have signed their ascension protocols to join NATO, which sent their prospective memberships to each alliance member’s parliamentary bodies. So far, 28 out of 30 members ratified their memberships, with only Hungary and Turkey remaining.
“Until the promises made to our country are kept, we will maintain our principled position,” Erdogan told Turkey’s parliament. “We are closely following whether the promises made by Sweden and Finland are kept or not, and of course, the final decision will be up to our great parliament.”
Washington Must Learn to Bargain with a Nuclear North Korea: Kim Jong-Un’s statement in early September that North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons should be the last nail in the coffin of Washington’s strategy toward that country. Since Pyongyang has officially declared that it is now a nuclear-weapons power, the United States and its allies must move on from the quixotic goal of getting Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions. For nearly 3 decades, Washington has led an international effort to isolate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) until it agrees to a complete, verifiable, and irreversible end to its nuclear program. Pyongyang’s refusal to comply with that demand has led to ever-tightening economic sanctions, but it is now indisputable that the isolation strategy has not worked.
Washington’s hoary approach is both futile and dangerous. Experts believe that North Korea already possesses a small arsenal of 20-30 nuclear weapons, and Pyongyang is fast developing sophisticated ballistic missile systems to deliver those weapons at greater and greater distances. In less than a decade, Pyongyang may have a nuclear arsenal rivaling that of Pakistan’s estimated 165 warheads. Yet Washington has no diplomatic or economic relations with this rising nuclear power.
On May 11, an Israeli soldier killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin, and months later the perpetrator of this outrageous crime is still no closer to being brought to justice.
The need to hold the shooter accountable is clear. A new investigation by the Palestinian human rights organization Al Haq confirmed the findings of multiple reports from the UN, human rights groups, and media outlets earlier in the year, and their investigation shows that Abu Akleh was targeted and killed while clearly wearing a vest identifying her as a member of the press.
The report also confirmed that no other shots were fired in the area on that morning except for the bullets coming from the position of Israeli forces, so there was no fighting in the vicinity and no possibility that the shooting occurred in a crossfire. Shireen Abu Akleh was shot at with such precision that there can be no doubt that she was deliberately targeted.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declined to directly endorse President Joe Biden’s statement that the U.S. military would defend Taiwan if China invaded, saying that America’s priority is helping Taiwan prepare to protect itself.
Speaking on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” in an interview that aired Sunday, Austin said: “In accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, we’re committed to helping Taiwan develop the capability to defend itself. And that work has gone on over time and will continue into the future.”
Italian voters elected a nationalist coalition led by the Brothers of Italy party on Monday, September 26. Leftists everywhere denounced the party’s leader, Giorgia Meloni, as a “fascist.” Her election win, they said paradoxically, is a grave threat to “democracy.” Even Joe Biden warned of how dangerous it was for the Italian people to vote the wrong way. But Meloni does have some fervent supporters outside of Italy: American Establishment conservatives are thrilled with her and her nationalist message. That’s a big change from just a few years ago when they would have denounced the same rhetoric as “fascist.” The love for Meloni might signal a profound change with the American Right—a change that will make it more nationalist.
Leftist rhetoric about Meloni was hysterical to say the least [NYT calls anti-immigrant politician “Fascist” 28 times., by Ann Coulter, Substack, September 25, 2022] The Brothers of Italy is a descendant of the Italian Social Movement and ultimately Mussolini’s Fascist Party. The modern party is hardly fascist and is actually no different from other mainstream right-wing parties in Europe. Meloni’s party is in fact more in tune with American foreign policy priorities than groups like National Rally in France. But that stance didn’t deter any of the over-the-top condemnations.
The World Bank has said it will provide an additional $530 million in support to Ukraine, bringing the total aid by the bank to $13 billion, as Russia's invasion of the country continues.
The aid is supported by the United Kingdom ($500 million) and the Kingdom of Denmark ($30 million), the World Bank said in a statement.
Of the total aid of $13 billion to Ukraine to date, $11 billion has been fully disbursed, the bank added.
The World Bank's most recent analysis puts the total long-term cost of reconstruction and recovery in Ukraine over the next three years at well over $100 billion, said Arup Banerji, World Bank Regional Country Director for Eastern Europe.
Iraqis gather to mark the third anniversary of the anti-government protests in Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday [Khalid al-Mousily/Reuters]
Dozens of Iraqis were injured after violence erupted when thousands of Iraqis gathered in Baghdad to mark the third anniversary of nationwide protests against corruption.
Protesters waved the Iraqi flag and chanted “we want to overthrow the regime” as they met on Saturday in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square.
According to a report by Israel’s State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman, the Israeli army is “logistically unprepared” for its regular operations inside the West Bank, and for taking on the growing Palestinian resistance.
The State Comptroller’s Office released an “urgent” report on Sunday, 2 October, to highlight growing concerns about the IDF conducting operations inside the West Bank, citing missing equipment and the poor living conditions of conscripts.
Over the last few months, the IDF has doubled its forces from 13 to 26 battalions, which are often supported by armored vehicles and military drones during their military incursions.
If anything, the Israeli Operation Break the Wave is a response to growing concerns over the military situation in the West Bank and the failures of the Israeli forces against a seemingly more united Palestinian resistance.
Turkey announced on Sunday the launch of a new military operation targeting members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in its countryside, state media reported.
The "Eren Blockade" autumn winter operation was launched by around 1,600 personnel and is supported by Turkey's advanced arsenal of drones in an effort to remove PKK forces from rural areas of Turkey, state-owned Anadolu Agency said, citing Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.
The PKK is a Kurdish armed group struggling for the increased cultural and political rights of Kurds in Turkey.
Ankara considers it a terrorist organization and has launched repeated operations targeting the group both at home and southwards in Iraq and Syria.
Italy's next government will direct its efforts to trying to tame soaring energy prices, Giorgia Meloni, who is widely expected to be named prime minister, said on Saturday.
Meloni's Brothers of Italy party and allies Forza Italia and the League face a daunting list of challenges, including the spike in energy prices largely caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"I still think this is a primary responsibility of the new government, and we are obviously committed to working on this," said Meloni, who was speaking in Milan at an event held by Italy's biggest agriculture lobby Coldiretti in her first public appearance since the election night.
Welcomed by rapturous applause, Meloni took the stage and blamed the ballooning cost of energy on speculation.
French President Emmanuel Macron had a phone call with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky Sunday, BFM reported Sunday citing the Elysee Palace. According to the report, the French leader called the accession of the four new regions to Russia illegitimate, and vowed that Paris will help Ukraine to restore its sovereignty.
"The President reaffirmed his firm condemnation of the illegitimate annexation of four Ukrainian regions by Russia," the Elysee Palace said, adding that "France is committed to helping Ukraine to restore its full sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Macron also told Zelensky that he will work with EU partners on new anti-Russian sanctions.
The French leader also advocated a withdrawal of Russian forces from the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant during the phone call.
The leaders of nine NATO nations from Central and Eastern Europe issued a joint statement on Sunday in support of Ukraine's path to membership in the alliance.
"We firmly stand behind the 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit decision concerning Ukraine’s future membership," the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Czechia, Romania, North Macedonia, and Slovakia said on Sunday.
At that 2008 summit, NATO allies said they "welcomed" Ukraine and Georgia's aspirations to the join the alliance, though no clear timetable has ever been announced.
When the pound slumped as Kwasi Kwarteng presented his mini-budget, some Britons rushed to the safety of a haven that's recently lost its luster: gold.
As the UK currency slid to an all-time low early Monday, bullion priced in pounds climbed close to a record. That would typically encourage selling and deter buyers, but this time round the turmoil in British bond and currency markets increased the allure of the precious metal.
"Buying has increased exponentially," said Ash Kundra, who runs coin dealer J Blundell & Sons in London's historic Hatton Garden jewelry quarter. "I keep running out of coins, I keep running out of bars."
The rush for gold in the UK contrasts with the bearish sentiment that's seen dollar prices for the precious metal slump by more than 20% from a March peak, as the Federal Reserve's aggressive monetary tightening makes the non-interest-bearing asset less attractive. Still, bullion's status as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement is keeping demand from retail investors strong.
The US and the UK may be behind the explosions at Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, former advisor to US Defense Secretary in the administration of ex-president of the United States Donald Trump, Douglas Macgregor, said in a conversation with Andrew Napolitano, the presenter of the Judging Freedom podcast.
"You have to look at who are the state actors that have the capability to do this. And that means the [UK’s] Royal Navy and the United States’ Navy <…> I think that’s pretty clear," Macgregor said. He also noted the publication by Poland’s former foreign minister (2007-2014), European parliament member Radoslaw Sikorski, who thanked the United States for damaging the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines on his Twitter page.
Ex-advisor to the Pentagon chief called the notion that Moscow was behind the incident at the pipelines absurd. "The Russians did not do this," he said, adding that Germany’s involvement in the incident was "extremely unlikely" either.
The US is willing to support Ukraine’s finances with $1.5 billion a month in aid throughout the war against Russia and is pushing its European allies to commit to similar amounts, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Biden administration, which signed off last week on $4.5 billion in grants to cover the rest of the year, has held conversations with European Union officials -– including in recent days -- and has pressed Europe to do more, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.
With the EU haggling internally over the delivery of previous pledges, allies have been discussing a more regular mechanism to help keep Ukraine’s economy afloat as the war drags on, one of the people said. Officials have been warned that there would be growing demands in Congress, whose approval is required for longer-term support, for more burden sharing among allies, another person said.