Thought for the day

"I should have been a meteorologist. It's the only job (outside of politics) where you can be that wrong that  often and still get a paycheck!" -- Michael Rivero

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Vanguard will no longer participate in the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative as lawmakers and the broader marketplace scrutinize the company’s support of the environmental, social, and governance movement, also known as ESG.

Signatories of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative promise to move portfolio companies closer to eliminating net carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. Vanguard will withdraw from the initiative to “provide the clarity our investors desire about the role of index funds and about how we think about material risks, including climate-related risks,” according to a statement.

The move occurred hours after officials in the state of Texas announced a hearing over asset managers’ purported mismanagement of taxpayer dollars driven by ideological motives. Last week, multiple attorneys general filed motions with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking to prevent Vanguard from purchasing shares in publicly traded utilities out of a concern that the company’s climate efforts would raise energy prices and decrease grid reliability.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:51

On November 14, Der Spiegel published a report according to which leaked documents of the German Ministry of Defense indicate that the Bundeswehr is preparing for a war with Russia. The secret draft titled “Operational guidelines for the Armed Forces” was authored by the German Chief of Defense Staff, General Eberhard Zorn. It was written in late September and according to General Zorn, “an attack on Germany can potentially happen without warning and can cause serious damage, even existential. Therefore, the defense capabilities of the Bundeswehr are essential for the survival of the country.” The German Chief of Defense Staff stressed the need for a “mega-reform” of the Bundeswehr, adding that “for approximately 30 years, the focus placed on missions abroad no longer does justice to the current situation, with possible consequences that endanger the system.”

Instead, General Zorn thinks it’s crucial for Germany to focus on “the Atlantic defense of the Alliance,” with the “capacity to provide visible and credible deterrence, to dominate Germany’s military action plan.” In this regard, specifically, “the Bundeswehr must arm itself for a forced war, since a potential confrontation on NATO’s eastern flank has once again become more probable.”

The draft clearly identified Russia as the “immediate threat”. However, the designation makes little sense, as Russia is now over 1,500 km away from Germany, with Belarus, Poland and Ukraine standing between the two countries. While it made some sense for Germany to maintain a large, highly trained military force with constant combat readiness during the (First) Cold War, as the USSR had approximately half a million soldiers in East Germany at the time (in addition to other Warsaw Pact member states), the situation is effectively reversed nowadays.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:50

This weekend, we learned former FBI General Counsel James Baker had been “vetting” the Twitter File documents. In other words, removing the ones that might incriminate him or the feds.

“It was pretty obvious that the Twitter files that had just been released were missing a crucial element — and that was the FBI,” stated Miranda Devine.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:41

To give a short explainer, the talented Matt Taibbi posted internal Twitter documents around the 2020 presidential election which demonstrated how political operations – such as the Biden presidential campaign and the DNC – petitioned the company to remove “offending” tweets. Twitter complied. The Trump White House would make similar requests, but as Taibbi observe, “this system wasn’t balanced.” Instead, it was based on contacts. And as you can imagine, Twitter’s staff, especially at the highest levels, was far left and supported the Democrats.

What of the other Twitter Files? Elon has promised more transparency and Taibbi posted on his Substack that “there may be a few more big surprises coming.” Catch Taibbi and Walter Kirn, both of whom we’re big fans, explaining the Twitter Files on Episode 15 of America This Week, available through Taibbi’s site.

But there’s a bigger story slowly emerging: the FBI’s involvement in political censorship.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:40

Update (8:20pm ET): Following a tidal wave of disgust, outrage and loathing at corrupt politicians, Maxine Waters took to twitter to slam the earlier CNBC report that she wouldn't subpoena SBF as a "lie" even though just one sentence lower in her tweet she confirms that she has, in fact, not done anything yet and that a "subpoena is definitely on the table."

Furthermore, she notes that SBF has "been requested to testify" even though as everyone knows by now, he turned down said "request" and unless he is compelled (i.e., issued a subpoena) he won't go. But it's cool: "A subpoena is definitely on the table." The question is whether the check to Maxine clear and it stays there or someone actually signs it and delivers it to the prominent Democratic donor.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:38

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg on Tuesday dared US prosecutors to come after him like they have Julian Assange by revealing in a BBC News interview that the WikiLeaks publisher sent him a backup of leaked materials from former military analyst Chelsea Manning.

"Let me tell you a secret. I had possession of all the Chelsea Manning information before it came out in the press," Ellsberg said to BBC's Stephen Sackur in the on-camera interview. "I've never said that publicly." Assange had sent him the materials—which include evidence of U.S. war crimes—in case "they caught him and they got everything," the 91-year-old explained. "He could rely on me to find some way to get it out."

Australian-born Assange is currently detained in London and fighting in British and European courts against his extradition to the United States, where he could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted under Espionage Act charges.

Inviting action by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Ellsberg said that "I am now as indictable as Julian Assange and as everyone who put that information out—the papers, everybody who handled it."

"Yes, I had copies of it and I did not give them to an authorized person. So, if they want to indict me for that, I will be interested to argue that one in the courts—whether that law is constitutional," he continued, referring to the Espionage Act. Highlighting that the highest U.S. court has never held that it is constitutional to use the Espionage Act as if it were a British Official Secrets Act, Ellsberg said that "I'd be happy to take that one to the Supreme Court."

Posted on: Dec 08 10:37

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told The Breakfast Club in a stunning slip-up that he organized the cancelation of Kanye "Ye" West because "if we don't get him" then the "myth" of Jewish power will spread.

"What do you say to people who say that, you know, y'all are proving somebody like Kanye right because Kanye says, 'Hey Jewish people have all the power' and then he loses everything?" Breakfast Club host Charlamagne asked Greenblatt in an interview released Wednesday.

"Well look, the insidious nature of anti-Semitism and these tropes about power is Kanye can say these things, 'Jews have all the power they're controlling everything' and if we don't get him--," Greenblatt responded before quickly correcting himself, "you know, if we don't deal with that--, the myth spreads and it takes root."

Webmaster addition: So, the ADL used its mythical power to ruin Ye!

Posted on: Dec 08 10:35

You know the old saying: when bribery doesn't work...just bribe using more money...

Such is the unfolding case in Vietnam, where G-7 nations have made a $15 billion offer to the country to try and wean it off of its reliance on coal, according to a report by Reuters. The country is among the top 20 coal users in the world and had previously turned down or ignored prior offers, the report notes.

Vietnam had already agreed to sign up for an "energy transition partnership with G7 nations" at a global climate summer this November, but high-level talks "broke off" before the meeting, the report says.

To bring the country back to the bargaining table, the EU and Britain are leading negotiations on behalf of the West, who have offered a financial package that includes $7.5 billion in loans from the public sector and loans totaling about the same amount from the private sector. 

Posted on: Dec 08 10:35

In an emergency press conference, the National Farmers Union (NFU) said the government needed to step in to assist farmers who are under severe strain.

The British farming industry is facing major issues across almost all sectors, with the price of animal feed and nitrogen fertiliser, and fuel skyrocketing. The union warned that yields of crops will likely slump to record lows this year with farmers also considering reducing the size of their herds.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:34

While questions remain over what was known and by whom about commingled FTX client funds being used to fill a vast and leaking bucket of a balance sheet at Alameda, it appears, based on a report from The New York Times (NYT), that the catalyst for this whole debacle could have been none other than the world's (second) greatest Democrat donor and (ineffective) altruist - Sam Bankman-Fried.

NYT reports that federal prosecutors are investigating whether FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and his hedge fund orchestrated trades in a way that led to the collapse of two cryptocurrencies in May - TerraUSD and Luna.

Specifically, Manhattan prosecutors (US attorney for the Southern District of New York) are examining the possibility that Bankman-Fried steered the prices of two algorithmically-interlinked currencies to benefit entities he controlled, including FTX and Alameda Research.

According to two people with knowledge of the matter, NYT reports that the focus on possible market manipulation adds to the legal storm brewing around Mr. Bankman-Fried.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:33

The Biden administration has unveiled a sanctions blacklist of two dozen companies and other entities accused of supporting Russia militarily, as well as who have violated sanctions on Iran. But perhaps most surprising is that among the 24 companies also includes entities charged with illicit activities related to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program

The US Commerce Department identified companies based in Latvia, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore and Switzerland, including Russia's AO Kraftway Corporation, considered among the country's largest IT companies. 

Fiber Optic Solutions in Latvia is named as well as Russian AO Scientific Research Center for Electronic Computing, LLC Fibersense, and Scientific Production Company Optolin, AO PKK Milandr; Milandr EK; Milandr ICC JSC; Milur IS; Microelectronic Production Complex (MPK) Milandr; and Ruselectronics JSC and Swiss based Milur SA, according to a press release.

Regarding the Iran-related sanctions, "The Commerce Department also added four trading and supply companies in Singapore for supplying or attempting to supply an Iranian electronics company, Pardazan System Namad Arman," which as Reuters recounts was initially subject of US Treasury sanctions in 2018 following the Trump administration's pullout of the Iran nuclear deal.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:32

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) held a panel on COVID-19 vaccines in Washington on Dec. 7, featuring experts including Dr. Robert Malone and Dr. Peter McCullough.

Experts discussed vaccine development, vaccine composition, data from insurance and adverse event systems, and other topics.

Here are four takeaways from the panel.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:29

Our times of boom to bust are the perfect illustration of the credit cycle first presented in its fullness in the 1920s. Why then? Because this was the first decade after most countries created central banks. They caused some very odd behavior that made 19th-century-style economics seem to have less explanatory power.

That was when a few economists working in Vienna put together a model for understanding how business cycles work in a modern economy. Their names were Friedrich von Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. They drew on their theoretical knowledge based on the following inputs:

Richard Cantillon (1680–1734) observed that when governments inflate the money supply, the effects are unevenly distributed among economic sectors, affecting some more than others and in different ways.

Adam Smith (1723–1790) explained that a critical element of rising wealth is embedded in the division of labor, in which individuals specialize in tasks and cooperate across firms and those firms cooperate with each other.

Carl Menger (1840–1921) saw money as an organic market creation, not an invention of the state, which implies that it should be produced like any other good or service.

Knut Wicksell (1851–1926) demonstrated that interest rates function as a price mechanism to allocate investment decisions over time, which is why the yield curve exists. Manipulation of the interest rate disturbs the natural allocation of resources.

Eugen von Boehm-Bawerk (1851–1914) explained the structure of production as consisting of far more than just consumer and capital goods. Capital itself is heterogeneous in that investment decisions include a forecast of time expectations, and the interest rate is crucial to coordinating them.

You can put all those pieces together to come up with a mental model of a well-functioning economy as described by Jean-Baptiste Say (1767–1832) who saw the alignment of supply and demand as a law of economics, which is to say that a market economy is inherently stable.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:28

The Western Journal has reported the two pastors have had enough and come up with a brilliant solution to counteract the Drag Queen Story Hour: ‘Push Back on Evil.’

Dale Partridge and Michael Foster’s idea is not to stand around cursing the darkness but to bring to light the lurid drag queen story hours that are becoming more prevalent.

Foster and Partridge’s alternative to the story hour featuring drag queens is to go to the library and provide a pastor’s story hour.

According to CBN, Partridge, who authored “Jesus and My Gender,” set up his first story hour at the library, which drew 15 to 20 children along with their parents. Partridge said, “I think the kids loved it, and a lot of the parents love it.”

Posted on: Dec 08 10:27

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has voted on a resolution calling for Israel to get rid of all its nuclear weapons and place its nuclear sites under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Webmaster addition: Oh yeah; THAT'LL work!

Posted on: Dec 08 10:24

NASA has a long track record of engineering feats that have helped humans explore the depths of space. One of the agency's next projects will help humans travel to new celestial bodies – but it may also one day help you do your laundry. 

"You know, I'm ready for it. I'm tired of doing my dishes and laundry," Jeff Cardenas, CEO of Apptronik, tells ZDNET. 

Austin-based robotics company Apptronik is working with NASA to create a 5-foot 8-inch, 160-pound, general-purpose humanoid robot named Apollo. The robot is being designed to assist with tasks in space, the commercial sector -- and, most interestingly, the home. 

Apollo will be equipped to carry out a range of tasks in different environments with the mission of shouldering burdens that humans simply don't need or want to do.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:24

There are three ways this attack works:

Prong No. 1: Pay out through PayPal: The first prong of the attack was the request for $699.99. While it's fairly unlikely that anyone who gets hit with this attack will click "Send Money," all it takes is one or two people doing that to make the entire attack worthwhile from the scammer's perspective. Don't pay enough attention, click the wrong button, and whoosh! Money gone.

Prong No. 2: Pay out by dialing the digits: The PayPal agent told me that the second prong of the attack that often also provides value to the scammers is the phone number they ask you to call.

Depending on the scammer, the number itself may be billable. It's called a "one-ring phone scam" and it works by spoofing numbers, possibly connecting you to an international number where you're charged merely for connecting to the number.

Prong No. 3: Pay out by giving away too much personal info: The big score, I was told by the PayPal agent, is actually the third prong of the attack. That's when somebody gets the email and calls the number they think is PayPal to prevent the payment.

Webmaster addition: I got one of these a week ago, but since PayPal canceled my account for my political views, I knew it had to be a scam.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:22

Cyber criminals are losing millions of dollars to other cyber criminals after themselves falling victim to scams on dark web forums. And the way they're publicly complaining about it could help uncover the secrets of the whole underground economy.  

Online scammers and fraudsters cost consumers and businesses billions every year, and it appears that even cyber criminals, aren't immune to falling victim to scams. 

According to analysis of underground marketplaces by cybersecurity researchers at Sophos, cyber criminals have lost at least $2.5 million to other dark web scammers during the last 12 months – and that's just on three prominent cybercrime forums, so the total figure is likely to be a lot higher. 

Posted on: Dec 08 10:18

Many groups and individuals have now experience the worst of the Cancel Culture Mob, that in different forms has deplatformed all sorts of people who might be critical of the Establishment in the UK. The arts are not exempt. The Jazz musician Gilad Atzmon was once cancelled at the Royal Northern College of Music, not because of what he was about to say, but because of who he was, in the eyes of the Cancel Culture Mob.

The latest victim of the Cancel Culture Mob in London is an concert of satirical songs, which was to be presented tonight (Thursday, 8 December) at a Keep Talking meeting at the Tea House Theatre in London. The importance of relaxing with the arts – in this case music – was going to be emphasised, as a means of keeping sane in an insane environment. But also, when we do mentally switch off, that is when sometimes the penny drops, and we start joining some more dots. December is usually a good month for this, as people review the year in their minds, linking together more distant brain cells.

Apparently, I have been giving a series of secret ‘Keep Talking’ Holocaust-denial talks, so secret that even I knew nothing of them. Another piece of Antifa enlightenment was that singing some satirical songs I had just written, followed by some other songs about deception and lying, would be a “nazi-singalong”.  Mine were mainly inspired by Clare Short’s book ‘An Honorable Deception’. Actually, I often had wet eyes in reading that book, because what she was describing was so close to what I had just experienced in being cancelled in the Management Committee of the Esperanto association. At all levels it’s the same story. I had essentially put into song what Clare Short had put into a book. I wonder whether she knows she’s a Nazi for describing life in Tony Blair’s cabinet! My songs were written for a wider purpose, because they would apply quite generally to groups subjected to infiltration and subversion from within.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:15

Republican Senator Ted Cruz has weighed in on the revelations in Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ publication, urging that it is “evidence of corruption that goes to the highest level of government.”

Appearing on Fox News, Cruz asserted that the effort to crush the Hunter Biden laptop story went “to the highest level of the FBI. And it goes to the highest level of Big Tech.”

“We’ve known for a long time that big tech is censoring conservatives,” Cruz said, adding that “what Elon did here is he just laid naked all of the lies that the corporate media has told.”

“It’s clear during the 2020 election, over and over and over again, the Biden campaign and the DNC would reach out to their buddies at Twitter and say, hey we don’t like this, and their response is ‘handled,’ and they’d take it down, over and over and over again,” Cruz stated.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:14

As if Philadelphia didn't have a big enough problem on its hands with its "zombie streets" in the Northeast lined with drug users a new drug is making its way out into the city. Philly Voice published a new piece this week detailing the veterinary sedative xylazine, also known as "tranq", which is now being "pervasive" in the drug scene and is mixed with fentanyl. 

It is responsible for "more complex overdoses and painful skin wounds," the report says. The drug is a "anesthetic and pain reliever" that "is used by vets to treat horses and cattle". The appeal of mixing it with Fentanyl is that it can extend the perception of a person's high. 

It has been found in 90% of dope samples that the city tested last year, the report says. Last year, it was found in 44% of Fentanyl overdose deaths in the city and was found in 34% of all overdose deaths. It marks a 39% increase from the year prior. 

Jennifer Shinefeld, a field epidemiologist for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, commented: "Xylazine was initially added into the drug supply because a heroin high lasts for 6-8 hours, but a fentanyl high lasts from 1-2 hours."

"The tranquilizer was being added to mimic a traditional heroin high, but also to allegedly prolong the effects."

Posted on: Dec 08 10:13

There is no bigger heresy at this point in history than to suggest the US is not the main source of great evil in the world. There was a time, when the exact opposite was the case.

Today, however, As war rages in Ukraine and everyone in power in the West says they want peace but keep shoveling money and weapons into the conflict, the message is clear.

We want this war. We need this war and it doesn’t matter what the people want.

We will have this war.

But, here’s the big heresy, it’s not just the US that wants this war. Here’s another one is ‘The US’ as a global actor even exist anymore?

We are now digesting the most irresponsible escalation yet by “Ukraine,” a drone strike on a strategic airbase deep inside Russia attacking one leg of its nuclear triad — damaging strategic bombers capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

This is an explicit redline for Russia.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:10

Among the significant changes Elon Musk is implementing at Twitter, not the least of which being exposing an underbelly of direction-taking from liberal leaders, he is also asking employees to work "hardcore" for what is being called Twitter 2.0.

It's a sharp pivot from the 4 hour work weeks some Twitter employees had admitted to in the weeks leading up to Musk's takeover of the company. As part of his new corporate culture, Musk even installed makeshift bedrooms in Twitter's headquarters - an efficient use of free space for employees who are truly dedicated, Musk likely thought.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:02

Oh, sweet irony, how you consistently amuse us...

Today's episode of 'consequences are best served cold' comes from Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York, who according the Daily Caller received $40,300 from Sam Bankman-Fried, ex-CEO of FTX, and his brother, Gabriel Bankman-Fried.

Now, Torres is calling for an investigation of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for "failing to properly regulate the crypto exchange." He has written a letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting the probe.

Posted on: Dec 08 10:02

Seriously, that Washington Post article about “Shark Week’s” lack of diversity was not written by ChatGPT (or at least it wasn’t advertised as being so: granted, who knows how stressed for time the poor WP reporter was, and who can blame him if he outsources thankless assignments like this to an AI robot to finish off for him?) But iSteve commenter ic1000 more or less reproduces in it ChatGPT with a slightly more elaborate prompt:

Posted on: Dec 08 09:59

I suppose that we should have known that this was inevitable.  After establishing a precedent during the pandemic, now the elite apparently intend to impose lockdowns for other reasons as well.

What I have detailed in this article is extremely alarming, and I hope that you will share it with everyone that you can.  Climate change lockdowns are here, and if people don’t respond very strongly to this it is likely that we will soon see similar measures implemented all over the western world.  The elite have always promised to do “whatever it takes” to fight climate change, and now we are finding out that they weren’t kidding.

Over in the UK, residents of Oxfordshire will now need a special permit to go from one “zone” of the city to another.  But even if you have the permit, you will still only be allowed to go from one zone to another “a maximum of 100 days per year”

Posted on: Dec 08 09:58

Turkey has set a deadline for the withdrawal of the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from areas of northern Syria near the Turkish border, a Turkish source told Al Jazeera.

Both the US and Russia are trying to avert a Turkish invasion of northern Syria, and the source said Ankara has asked Washington and Moscow to press the SDF to withdraw. Turkey wants the SDF to leave the cities of Manbij, Tal Rifaat, and Kobane within two weeks, or it will launch a ground operation.

Turkey considers the SDF to be an affiliate of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which Turkey, the US, and the EU have labeled as a terrorist organization. Ankara launched a series of airstrikes against the SDF at the end of November after blaming a bombing in Istanbul on the PKK.

Posted on: Dec 08 09:55

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Tuesday that the US will increase its military presence in Australia in a buildup aimed at China.

In a joint press conference with Australia’s defense minister and foreign minister, Austin said that the US will increase its rotational forces in Australia. “That includes rotations of bomber task forces, fighters, and future rotations of US Navy and US Army capabilities,” Austin said.

Details on the rotational deployments aren’t clear, but they will likely focus on the Australian city of Darwin in the Northern Territory, where US Marines have been rotating through for years.

Australia’s ABC News reported in October that the US will be deploying six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Australia to a base just south of Darwin. The US is building facilities to house the bombers, which are expected to be completed by 2026.

Posted on: Dec 08 09:55