Calm Before The Storm? Goldman Says ‘Buy The Dip’ In VIX
After Friday’s big option expiration, SpotGamma points out that both QQQ and IWM start the week at/in a negative gamma position, which implies higher relative volatility in those indices.
There is also now a very wide range in distribution of SPX gamma (gamma is shallow and evenly dispersed 4100-4200 with a large “void” from 4100-4000).
The potential for higher volatility is reinforced by the fact that the S&P 500 is extremely stretched on a price-time basis. As Bloomberg’s Kriti Gupta notes, the S&P 500 is currently trading at around 16% above its 200-day moving-average (200DMA) – a level that seems to have spurred a selloff in the last eight months.
The 16% figure coincided with a 10% correction during the September tech wreck, a 2% drop in November and December, and then ~5% selloffs in January and February.
If we do get a ‘storm’ it will be coming after a shocking period of ‘calm’ (as liquidity provisions overwhelmed the global chaos) with The Dow Jones Industrial Average now having gone 30 days without a loss of more than 1%… the longest streak since right before the pandemic.
The calm across equity markets has coincided with a drop in trading activity. S&P 500 average trading volume as a share of market cap thus far in April has registered as the lowest since January 2020.
But, as SpotGamma notes, there is a VIX expiration on Wednesday which could shake things up, too… which fits with what Goldman Sachs’ Rocky Fishman is warning.
The nearly 10% rally for the SPX over the past six weeks has pushed the VIX down below 17 for the first time in the COVID era. The floor in implied volatility that has held since the aftermath of November’s elections was broken by several vol points. In Goldman’s view, this is an opportunity to add to short-dated hedges, as they expect a return to 2021’s prevailing high volatility risk premium before long.
Interestingly, VIX has been hitting lower levels with each SPX high – reversing the trend of 2018-2020.
Throughout the rally of 2021, the VIX has been falling, and hitting new lows each time the SPX hits a new high. While negative volatility-spot correlation is not unusual, it is a break from the trend of the last three years, in which new highs were often associated with nervousness about valuation levels.
The shift from rising spot levels at new highs to a regime of lower vol with each new high resembles 1997 and 1998 (highlighted in green); in each of those years, the aftermath of a major event left a period of new VIX lows with each SPX high, but markets became much more volatile soon thereafter in each case.
On a side note, Goldman points out that one contributing factor to the past weeks’ slide in implied volatility has been a reduction in single stock call buying. However, the current level of single stock option activity remains extremely high compared with any period prior to COVID, and we see single stock options as a continued, significant, source of demand for optionality.
However, while slowing interest rate volatility and outperformance in the vaccine rollout to DM countries have likely contributed to investor optimism that reduces demand for hedging, Goldman warns that as valuations rise and investors consider potential impact of several near-term risks, expect a return toward 2021’s prevailing high volatility risk premium in the coming weeks.
The president and CEO of Planned Parenthood says it’s time for her company — the nation’s largest abortion provider — to “reckon” with the racist legacy of its founder, eugenicist Margaret Sanger.
“Up until now, Planned Parenthood has failed to own the impact of our founder’s actions,” Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson wrote in an op-ed for the Saturday edition of the New York Times. “We have defended Sanger as a protector of bodily autonomy and self-determination, while excusing her association with white supremacist groups and eugenics as an unfortunate ‘product of her time.'”
Pro-life activists have for years criticized the racist origins of Planned Parenthood. The organization’s founder, Sanger, supported eugenics and was an outspoken advocate for ridding the United States of poor non-whites through birth control and abortion. In her writings, Sanger referred to blacks, immigrants, and indigenous Americans as “human weeds,” “reckless breeders,” “spawning … human beings who should never been born.”
Planned Parenthood had for decades defended Sanger as a champion of women’s rights and reproductive health, until last year when 350 current and former staffers of Planned Parenthood’s Greater New York affiliate published an open letter condemning Sanger as “a racist, white woman” and accusing the organization of “institutional racism.”
After public criticism, last July Planned Parenthood of Greater New York removed Sanger’s name from its Manhattan clinic for her “harmful connections to the eugenics movement.”
Now, McGill Johnson is the first Planned Parenthood CEO to publicly acknowledge Sanger’s evil beliefs. She wrote:
Sanger spoke to the women’s auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan at a rally in New Jersey to generate support for birth control. And event hough she eventually distanced herself from the eugenics movement because of its hard turn to explicit racism, she endorsed theSupreme Court’s 1927 decision in Buck v. Bell, which allowed states to sterilize people deemed “unfit” without their consent and sometimes without their knowledge — a ruling that led to the sterilization of tens of thousands of people in the 20th century.
The first human trials of the birth control pill — a project that was Sanger’s passion later in her life — were conducted with her backing in Puerto Rico, where as many as 1,500 women were not told that the drug was experimental or that they might experience dangerous side effects.
We don’t know what was in Sanger’s heart, and we don’t need to in order to condemn her harmful choices. What we have is a history of focusing on white womanhood relentlessly. Whether our founder was a racist is not a simple yes or no question. Our reckoning is understanding her full legacy, and its impact. Our reckoning is the work that comes next.
As part of that “reckoning,” McGill Johnson also acknowledged that Planned Parenthood is “privileging whiteness” and that it has “excluded trans and nonbinary people” by narrowly focusing on “women’s health.”
“As we face relentless attacks on our ability to keep providing sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, we’ve claimed the mantle of women’s rights, to the exclusion of other causes that women of color and trans people cannot afford to ignore,” she wrote.
On behalf of Planned Parenthood, McGill Johnson went on to condemn the “many types of dehuminzation we are seeing right now” including “the dehumanization of Black and Latino victims of police violence such as Adam Toledo, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and too many others. The dehumanization of transgender people whose health care and rights are being denied in states across the country, and who face attacks not just from the right but also from trans-exclusionary radical ‘feminists.'”
Williams Bayou Pumping Station is the primary pumping station that supplies water from Deer Point Lake to the Bay County Water Treatment Plant. The project includes the installation of a 2.5-megawatt diesel generator to serve as an emergency power source for the station’s water pumps. The project also includes protection against power surges.
Under the HMGP, FEMA provides grants to help communities eliminate or reduce disaster-related damage. Following a major disaster, a percentage of total federal recovery grant funds is designated to develop more resilient communities. Because Florida has an Enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan, this means more funds are available for the post-disaster mitigation programs. States with an enhanced plan receive HMGP funds based on 20% of the total estimated eligible Stafford Act disaster assistance.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters.
Coping with Fatigue After Multiple Disasters in Louisiana
BATON ROUGE, La. – April is National Stress Awareness Month and the residents of the state of Louisiana have experienced their fair share of stress in the past year –many Louisianans are struggling to recover from the successive blows of hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta and the severe winter storms on top of the nearly yearlong stress and worries of a pandemic. The same is true throughout the nation where hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters came one after another while Covid-19 fears spread.
It is normal for any disaster response to increase stress and fatigue. One of the symptoms is finding it hard to make decisions when so many decisions must be made about your recovery.
Survivors of hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta and the Feb. winter storms who are already registered with FEMA may find that the process of recovery sometimes feels like an impossible task.
Stress related to the disaster, which could be compassion fatigue, burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and other stress-related health issues, may be why it can be difficult to make decisions. Feeling frustrated, arguing more and being physically and mentally drained are other symptoms of emotional exhaustion that can reshape how people make choices. You may not be eating or sleeping or doing too much of both. You are not alone. These are human reactions to the strain of adapting over and over to situations that threaten your survival and/or ability to cope.
You can also meet with your insurance agent to be sure your coverage will address your future needs. Be sure to check with the agent about flood insurance, which pays for flood damage even when a disaster is not declared by FEMA.
Most responses to stress related to disasters are temporary and will go away over time. Stress response during disasters is normal.
For those who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, the Disaster Distress Helpline is available. Survivors can call or text 1-800-985-9500 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, or visit Disaster Distress Helpline | SAMHSA. The Disaster Distress Helpline is toll-free, multi-lingual and confidential and is available to everyone affected by a disaster.
The Crisis Counseling hotline is also available and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 800-985-5990 (TTY 800-846-8517) or text TalkWithUs (Spanish-speakers text: Hablanos) to 66746 to be immediately connected with a professional counselor who will help callers through disaster-related emotional distress. This toll-free, multilingual and confidential free service is available to everyone in the state.
Don’t give up, FEMA and its partners are here to help survivors through the recovery process. For disaster assistance questions and concerns, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585).
US Suffers 3rd Mass Shooting In 24 Hours As 5 Wounded In Louisiana Murderous daily after murderous day, America quickly descended into a chaotic hellhole under the Biden administration…https://t.co/vxjPP0gHBu — Infinite Unknown (@SecretNews) April 19, 2021 * * * PayPal: Donate in USD PayPal: Donate in EUR PayPal: Donate in GBP
Shares Of Chinese Battery Maker CATL Surge As Company Said To Be Considered For Apple’s EV Project
Shares of Contemporary Amperex Technology were up as much as 9% in Shenzhen overnight on news that it could be the company involved in supplying batteries for Apple’s electric vehicle project.
The jump in shares marks the best day for the company’s stock in four months, Bloomberg reported Monday morning.
The report, which appears to be unconfirmed for the time being, was published in Xuangubao.cn, a Chinese online stock news platform. That platform did not report a source for the information.
A battery is “still being tested” for the project, according to Bloomberg, and the company did not respond for comment when asked about the news.
This news comes about a week after we reported that Magna’s joint venture with LG could be in line to produce Apple’s electric vehicles and that the entity was “very near” an EV contract.
“LG Magna e-Powertrain is very near to signing contracts with Apple under which they could handle the initial volume production of Apple EVs. Contract details are still being discussed,” the report said at the time. Apple is expected to produce a limited number of first gen EVs to evaluate their marketability.
“Because LG Group affiliates including LG Display, LG Chem, LG Energy Solution and LG Innotek are already included in Apple’s parts supply chain, Apple doesn’t have to worry about any supply chain issues. These LG affiliate are qualified to guarantee production yields and faster delivery of parts needed for Apple EVs,” a source told the Korea Times.
“As the LG brand is not that strong in the global EV industry, it needs a pretty competitive reference to show off its transformation efforts. From that standpoint, LG’s bet on the Apple EV is not that bad, and vice versa for Apple,” a second source said.
In addition to Apple, should a contract be signed, Magna also sports names like BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Volvo, Volkswagen and Toyota, among about 45 others, as OEM customers. CATL cooperates with Volkswagen in China and also has plans to supply companies like BMW and Daimler.
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved a $88.7 million low-interest Community Disaster Loan (CDL) to provide the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) operational funding to continue to function after the substantial revenue loss caused by multiple disasters in the Pacific.
“Super Typhoon Yutu had devastating consequences for the people and economy of the CNMI,” said FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Tammy Littrell. “The amount of this additional community disaster loan required approval by Congress, and we know it will help ensure essential functions and recovery continue.”
Following a major disaster, the financial capacity of local governments may be severely undermined by a decrease in local revenues. The reduction in tax or other revenue can limit their ability to maintain public services or afford many extraordinary but necessary expenditures. Revenue loss frequently occurs when significant portions of the population are displaced for extended periods of time, or key sources of economic activity, like tourism, are heavily disrupted by a disaster.
“The impact of Super Typhoon Yutu significantly affected our lives, our economy, and our government revenue, and so we initiated this request for a Community Disaster Loan to help us continue essential services during our long-term recovery,” said Governor Ralph DLG. Torres. “On behalf of the CNMI, we would like to thank our FEMA partners and key staff, especially Acting Administrator Robert J. Fenton, Jr. and FEMA Region IX, our CNMI Legislature for their due diligence in passing a resolution supporting our efforts, and Congressman Sablan for listening to our request for Congress to approve the appropriation.”
The shortage of revenues, and the resulting limitation on financial capacity, has been cited as one of the most significant and consistent hurdles to long-term disaster recovery. The CDL program provides loan assistance to local governments to help them overcome a loss in revenues. The core purpose of these community disasters loans is to permit the local governments to continue to provide municipal services, such as the protection of public health and safety and the operation of the public school system.
The government of CNMI and FEMA remain committed to the island’s vision to build back better, safer and more resilient to future disasters.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters. Follow FEMA Region 9 online at twitter.com/femaregion9.
A 7-year-old girl is dead after a hail of gunfire struck her father’s vehicle while the two were at a Chicago-area McDonald’s drive-through anticipating a meal together.
What are the details?
Authorities say that the child, Jaslyn Adams, and her 29-year-old father, Jontae Adams, had just pulled up to the drive-through when two people exited a nearby vehicle and sprayed the car with bullets. Jaslyn and her father — who were both struck by the bullets — were rushed to a nearby hospital.
Jontae survived, but his young daughter — who was struck “multiple times” according to reports — did not.
WBBM-TV reports that roughly 30 shell casings were found near the vehicle.
At the time of this reporting, no suspects have been publicly identified.
Jaslyn’s aunt, Tawny McMullen, told WBBM that the family remembers the child as being “sweet and outgoing.”
“Really lovable,” she added. “Y’all, please put the guns down. Our kids want to play. My kids can’t even go out the door because of this violence. Please put the guns down.”
In a statement on the shooting, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said, “I am heartbroken and angered that a 7-year-old child was killed this afternoon on Chicago’s West Side. This unthinkable act of violence has no place here. The epidemic of gun violence cutting our children’s lives short cannot go on.”
I am heartbroken and angered that a 7-year-old child was killed this afternoon on Chicago’s West Side. This unthink… https://t.co/euxTH5sGA2
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the shooting was believed to be gang-related. Less than three hours later, two people were shot at a Popeyes in Humboldt Park. Two people — a man and a woman — were injured in the second shooting and were taken to a nearby hospital in serious and critical conditions. Investigators believe that the Popeyes shooting is connected to the McDonald’s shooting that took place earlier that day.
According to the numbers provided by the ruling class, one-third of Americans are now fully “vaccinated” with the experimental gene therapies intentionally mislabeled as vaccines in order for Big Pharma to escape liability. More than half of Americans have allegedly received at least the first dose of one of these “vaccines.”
A total of 209 million doses have been administered, putting the US well on track to hit President Joe Biden’s goal of administering 200 million shots in his first 100 days in office, a goal that will be hit at around 216 million doses, given that vaccination began under the Trump administration. -RT
Some 50.4% of Americans aged 18 and over have received at least their first shot of one of the experimental gene therapies according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday and 32.5% are fully vaccinated.
The ruling class still understands that “vaccine hesitancy” or those who decline to take these experimental shots and be the government’s lab rat, are a big threat to their agenda. They have shown time and time again that this “vaccine” shot is a piece of their overall New World Order, Great Reset agenda, but to what extent, we can only speculate right now.
They are even being forced to admit that even healthcare workers are hesitant to get jabbed. Some groups that have been more resistant to vaccination than others include military members, veterans, healthcare workers, and minorities. In fact, the big problem they have is that some people continue to outright refuse to be injected with gene therapy. 40 percent of US Marines have flat-out refused to take the jab.
And others, such as minorities also have every right to question the ruling class. African-Americans, for example, were subjected to some horrendous medical experimentation well into the 20th Century, and experimental vaccines and medications were tested on Gulf War troops, often with severe consequences, according to RT.
These shots are a major part of the overall agenda. Only time will tell what these shots will actually do to those who take them. All I ask is that you use your discernment and make sure you understand everything before rolling up your sleeve to submit. Use critical thinking skills and stay alert to what is going on.
Russia & Belarus Say US-Backed "Assassination" & "Coup" Attempt Against Lukashenko Thwarted Russia's FSB described a plan by conspirators in Minsk & Moscow that involved killing "almost the entire leadership" of Belarus…https://t.co/AWjaW1tvXo — Infinite Unknown (@SecretNews) April 19, 2021 * * * PayPal: Donate in USD PayPal: Donate in EUR PayPal: Donate in GBP
The $2.3 Quadrillion Global Timebomb That is the total sum of global debt, derivatives and unfunded liabilities. When all the dominos start falling, and no one can meet their obligations, this is what governments are left to finance…https://t.co/86KChxR0Cz — Infinite Unknown (@SecretNews) April 19, 2021 * * * PayPal: Donate in USD PayPal: Donate in … Read more
Headline really should be: Why the US Should Never Have Invaded Afghanistan in the First Place https://t.co/hXc3yHo8Yp — Whitney Webb (@_whitneywebb) April 18, 2021 * * * PayPal: Donate in USD PayPal: Donate in EUR PayPal: Donate in GBP
One of the great things about America is that it has 50 states that can set their own policy across a broad range of areas, including on public health and lockdowns. This has allowed some to resist the stampede to impose swingeing restrictions on normal life in the hope of limiting transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and this provides us with a valuable control group in the great lockdown experiment that can give us an idea what might have happened if we hadn’t made some intervention or other.
During the autumn and winter a new surge in Covid infections prompted most US states, like most Western countries, to reimpose restrictions. But a few resisted. Eleven states did not impose a stay-at-home order and left people at liberty to leave their homes whenever they wished. Of these, four – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and South Dakota – did not impose any restrictions at all and treated it pretty much like any other winter.
Although there are various differences between states that might have affected Covid outcomes, because they all form part of one country there are enough similarities to make comparisons useful. In particular, if lockdowns are effective and necessary to prevent hundreds of thousands of extra deaths (or the equivalent for the size of the population), then those states which didn’t lock down should have a far worse death toll. If the death tolls are not much worse, but about the same (or better), then lockdowns cannot be having a large impact on preventing Covid deaths.
In the chart above I have used data from Worldometer to plot the current total Covid deaths per million for each state. I have coloured the 11 states which did not lock down (i.e., impose a stay-at-home order) this winter in red. I have also calculated the average for the two groups of states, those which did not lock down over the winter and those which did, and coloured them in yellow.
As you can see, states which did not lock down over the winter, far from having many times more Covid deaths, have actually had fewer – 1,671 vs 1,736 deaths per million. There may be demographic or other reasons that some states have a higher or lower number of deaths than others so we shouldn’t read too much into the precise differences. But even so, if lockdowns are supposed to suppress the virus to low levels and thus prevent ‘hundreds of thousands’ of deaths (or the population equivalent), then how is this possible? The only conclusion is that lockdowns do not work as intended and do not suppress the virus.
This conclusion is reinforced by looking at the death tolls in the four states which imposed no restrictions at all over the winter, the average of which is 1,716 deaths per million, which is still below that of those which imposed lockdowns (1,736). Florida reopened in the autumn, Georgia and South Carolina in the spring of 2020, and South Dakota never closed. Yet overall they have suffered fewer Covid deaths per million than the states which imposed stay-at-home lockdowns this winter.
Those academic teams which produce models predicting doom for places which don’t impose the measures they recommend should be challenged to apply their models to these states and hindcast the last winter. Any model which cannot accurately reproduce the known outcomes for these states should be calibrated until it can. Otherwise, if it can’t get the answer right for the past, why should we trust it for the future?
It appears that Antifa militants — you know, those figments of conservatives’ collective imagination, those black-clad, violent leftists who are at best “an idea, not an organization” and at worst a “myth” — have miraculously exited the pages of storybooks and landed in apparent real life.
Conservative radio host Jason Rantz of KTTH-AM posted cellphone video — seemingly recorded on the sly — showing a group of “radical activists, including Antifa” holding an outdoor meeting in Seattle Friday night following their usual street hijinks.
During their chat, the “comrades” — a term actually uttered by one freedom fighter — discuss strategy, pat themselves on the back after they “fought with the pigs,” and emphasize not to discuss with anyone that they’ve met or their activities, as well as other methods to keep authorities at bay.
Image source: Twitter video screenshot via @JasonRantz
Shockingly, one militant tells the group that “autonomous doesn’t mean unorganized. So we do have to make decisions as a crew, as a team.” Seriously, since when do myths and ideas band together like … an organization?
Another militant suggests next time out they divide themselves into groups dressed as “black bloc” and “plain clothes” in order to prevent police from identifying members according to attire. In addition, another militant reminds members to look at the “Seattle [Black Lives Matter] calendar” and other groups’ activities to keep informed.
Prior to departing, one militant adds, “Once we de-bloc and leave, you weren’t at this autonomous action. So you don’t go home and talk about it. You didn’t see anything, you didn’t talk to anybody.” Another group member chimes in, “Our general policy is, ‘I didn’t see s**t or know s**t.’ If somebody asks you what you did Friday night — ‘nothin’.'”
Others also offer tips about phones, primarily to keep them turned off, to “get a burner if you can,” nont to have phones “tied to you personally,” and to make them password-protected with “no bio, no face, no thumb.”
Toward the end, another woman tells the group, “While we’re not necessarily out in the streets every night, we are doing actions every night. We’re sharing information, we’re watching livestreams, we’re educating ourselves, we’re educating our peers, our families, our friends. So keep that momentum up.” She adds that there’s plenty to be done to aid the “revolution.”
The militants also express a desire for “more organization” as well as concerns about being “infiltrated,” especially since they’re in a “vulnerable location” and “the longer we stay here, the easier it is for them to start picking out people as they walk out.”
Content warning: Language:
After Friday night “direct action” in Seattle didn’t quite go as planned, the radical activists, including Antifa,… https://t.co/fNNvLBTAx9
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@(((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio)1618788378.0
Last July, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), chairman of House Judiciary Committee, was caught on video stating that Antifa violence in Portland, Oregon, taking place night after night — and documented in numerous videos and news reports — is a “myth that’s being spread only in Washington, D.C.“
Last September, then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a debate with then-President Donald Trump parroted the words of FBI Director Christopher Wray, saying that “Antifa’s an idea, not an organization.“
But speaking to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week, Wray was willing to concede that Antifa is “more of a movement. There are certainly local and regional nodes, individuals who self-identify with Antifa who commit violent attacks, citing that as their motivation. And we have a number of predicated investigations into such individuals.”
“The vaccine is our ticket out of COVID-19, and I continue encouraging Alabamians to get their shots. I am pleased that FEMA selected Alabama to house one of their clinics,” Governor Ivey said. “As this clinic gets rolling on April 21, I urge Alabamians still needing their vaccine shots to take advantage of this resource.”
This site will deliver up to 7,000 doses of vaccine per week. Personnel from the Alabama National Guard will support the administration of these vaccines.
Vaccines for CVCs are provided to the state in addition to the regular vaccine allocations the state receives. These additional vaccine doses are made possible through an increase in production and availability.
“We are committed to the equitable distribution of the vaccine and our top priority is to ensure everyone who wants a vaccine gets one,” said Gracia Szczech, regional administrator for FEMA Region IV.
FEMA and the state will continue reach out to underserved communities in the Birmingham area to inform and build trust about the benefits of getting vaccinated.
The Watermark Place center will follow Alabama’s vaccine eligibility requirements. To schedule an appointment for the vaccine, individuals can visit myturn.timetap.com or call 205-858-2221.
The site will primarily offer drive-thru vaccinations (including high-occupancy vehicles); however, walk-ins can be accommodated. After receiving their vaccination, individuals will proceed to a post-vaccine waiting area for at least 15 minutes, per CDC guidelines, to be monitored for any adverse reactions.
FEMA is supporting Alabama in its response to COVID-19. Visit fema.gov/coronavirus for more information.
French teachers in the city of Nice have overwhelmingly rejected AstraZeneca’s Covid jab after just 58 out of a possible 3,000 signed up to be vaccinated. The jabs were being offered at a mass vaccination centre in Nice’s Palais des Expositions this weekend, with 4,000 available to those aged over 55 in high-risk occupations, meaning 3,000 teachers eligible to take part. But the centre was forced to close after just four hours on Saturday due to lack of demand with just 58 appointments registered, and did not reopen today despite being scheduled to do so. That means the take-up rate among eligible teachers was just 2 per cent, with one local official blaming vaccine hesitancy caused by scaremongering around the British-made jab. Anne Frackowiak-Jacobs, sub-prefect of nearby Grasse, said people had ‘turned around’ when they learned they would be given AstraZeneca.
In Huge Reversal, China Now Calls Bitcoin “Investment Alternative” After Years Of Crackdowns
With both India and Turkey cracking down on bitcoin, is China set to warm to the cryptocurrency that it has been waging a not so quiet capital control war with for the past four years? In a dramatic and material shift in Beijing’s tone after a crackdown on cryptocurrency issuance and trading nearly four years ago, CNBC reported that China’s central bank is now calling bitcoin an “investment alternative.”
Industry insiders called the comments “progressive” and are watching closely for any regulatory changes made by the People’s Bank of China.
“We regard Bitcoin and stablecoin as crypto assets … These are investment alternatives,” Li Bo, deputy governor of the PBOC, said on Sunday during a panel hosted by CNBC at the Boao Forum for Asia.
“They are not currency per se. And so the main role we see for crypto assets going forward, the main role is investment alternative” he added.
Whereas back in 2017, China was the world’s largest buyers of bitcoin as local savers and speculators used crypto to bypass China’s great capital firewall, Beijing promptly cracked down on this practice and not only banned so-called initial coin offerings but also shut down local cryptocurrency exchanges. The moves were prompted by concerns about financial stability. As a result, most of the recent activity has been driven by the US, not Asia… but that could soon change.
As investment alternatives, “many countries, including China, are still looking into it and thinking about what kind of regulatory requirements. Maybe minimal, but we need to have some kind of regulatory requirement to prevent … the speculation of such assets to create any serious financial stability risks,” Li said. He added that the central bank will keep its current regulations on cryptocurrencies.
As CNBC notes, Li’s latest comments highlight a potential shift in tone from the PBOC.
Flex Yang, CEO and founder of Babel Finance, called the comments “progressive” in an interview with CNBC on Monday. Babel Finance is a crypto financial services company.
“I think it is quite significant and is definitely different to their previous statements or positions on public cryptocurrencies,” Vijay Ayyar, head of business development at cryptocurrency exchange Luno, told CNBC by email.
“Governments are realizing that it is a viable and established, yet growing, asset class and need to regulate it. China regulating crypto would be another massive boost to the industry in China and globally,” Ayyar said, talking about the motivation behind the PBOC’s shift in tone. To be sure, China is not alone in changing its mind about bitcoin: over the past 4 years, Bitcoin has transformed from being purely a retail-favored asset and has become more mainstream in the financial world, gaining interest from institutional investors. Major corporations such as Tesla and Square in the U.S. have purchased large sums of bitcoin.
* * *
One possible reason for the huge shift in Chinese sentiment: as we reported two weeks ago, China has started to encourage more capital outflows to ease pressure on the Yuan.
“Amid the continued appreciation of the yuan since June 2020, China’s foreign exchange policies have focused on increasing the flexibility of the exchange rate, expanding capital outflows and controlling capital inflows,” Guan Tao, chief global economist at BOC International Co. Ltd. wrote in a Feb. 23 report (link in Chinese) on the preliminary balance of payments data. He said he expected this foreign-exchange policy mix to continue as the “orderly expansion of capital outflows is an important policy tool to cope with the appreciation pressure on the yuan.”
In other words, as we said on April 3…
In other words, don’t be surprised to see a fresh flood of Chinese real-estate buyers in Vancouver, California and the Tri-State area. Also, don’t be surprised to see a reversal in China’s long-running feud with Bitcoin as Beijing realizes that there is no better way to send money offshore than using crypto.
Two weeks later this is precisely what appears to be taking place.
Separately, a reminder that China is working on its own digital currency called the digital yuan, and is widely seen as the frontrunning among all of its central bank peers in the transition from fiat to digital. The aim is to replace cash and coins in circulation.
Today closing arguments will be heard in the Derek Chauvin trial. Steven Crowder will lay out the best arguments for the defense. Also, Maxine Waters is on video encouraging violence among her supporters. Again. Crowder will also recap the weekend in riots and protests, including one where it’s clear cops are not always our friends. That and more on today’s episode of Louder with Crowder.
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Afterwards, jurors will be sequestered for deliberations that could take hours, minutes or even weeks. They could offer up a guilty or not-guilty verdict on charges of second- and third-degree murder, as well as manslaughter.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the families of Floyd and Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer who claims she was reaching for her taser, put a spin on Waters’ message, saying protests would remain “emotional” (an interesting euphemism for “violent”)unless Chauvin is found guilty. “We cannot condone this inhumanity America, we cannot condone this evil that we saw on that video [of Floyd’s arrest],” Crump said during the Sunday morning interview, warning that if the trial’s outcome doesn’t set a new precedent, “people are going to continue having these emotional protests.”
Rep. Karen Bass, who, like Waters, is also a member of California’s overwhelmingly Democratic Congressional delegation, appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and said she expects a wave of outrage if Chauvin is acquitted on all three counts, adding: “We’ve seen people get off with minimal sentences” in “too many of these cases.” “I don’t think anyone in Minneapolis, frankly anyone in the U.S., and over a good part of the world, would understand any verdict other than guilty.”
Rep. Karen Bass on police reform: “All communities deserve to be protected and served by law enforcement and you shouldn’t have law enforcement that protects and serves one community and acts as though they’re in a war zone in another community … that’s what we have.” #CNNSOTUpic.twitter.com/KTsmzXLdkz
Whatever happens to Chauvin, the public has already moved on to new acts of police violence, including the killing of Wright, and the shooting of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old shot and killed by Chicago Police last month.
Of course, it’s not just Derek Chauvin’s fate that’s about to be decided here. Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional Lawyer and legal writer, explained in USA Today how the cases against Chauvin’s fellow officers would likely collapse if Chauvin is acquitted.
The trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is scheduled to begin March 29 after the difficult task of selecting a jury. The difficulty is not in finding a jury that reflects the community but finding one that does not. And it became even more difficult Monday when Minneapolis announced a $27 million settlement in a civil suit brought by Floyd’s family.
One juror had been dismissed by then after he admitted that he feared he or his family would be harmed if Chauvin was acquitted. Another was dismissed after saying property damage during Black Lives Matter protests might have been necessary to achieve justice. Their problem was that they reflected their community all too well.
Judging from the encampment around the courthouse with barbed wire, fencing and security, authorities are aware of the potential for violence.The greatest threat, however, could be found in how the prosecution has structured the case – and the danger of a cascading failure of not just the Chauvin case but of the cases against all four officers.
An unstable and vulnerable strategy
The prosecutors constructed the cases against Chauvin, Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao like an upside-down pyramid resting on a conviction of Chauvin. The main charges against Kueng, Land and Thao are as aiders and abettors to Chauvin’s alleged murder or manslaughter. If Chauvin is acquitted or the jury hangs on the charges, the prosecution of the other three officers becomes extremely difficult.
Prosecutors are aware of the instability and vulnerability of that strategy. For that reason, they fought to restore a third-degree murder claim to give the jury another option for a compromise verdict between the second-degree murder claim and the second-degree manslaughter case. In a case that is best suited for a manslaughter claim, there is a risk of overcharging a case that undermines the narrative of the prosecution. The second-degree murder claim does not require intent to murder Floyd but still requires a murder committed in the course of another felony. The third-degree murder charge requires a showing that Chauvin perpetrated “an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.“
There are some very significant challenges for the prosecution, even with the infamous videotape of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes. There is a palpable fear that even mentioning countervailing defense arguments will trigger claims of racism or insensitivity to police abuse. However, the jury must unanimously convict on the basis of beyond a reasonable doubt after considering a variety of such arguments, including:
When called to the scene due to Floyd allegedly passing counterfeit money, Floyd denied using drugs but later said he was “hooping,” or taking drugs.
The autopsy did not conclude that Floyd died from asphyxiation (though a family pathologist made that finding). Rather, it found “cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s).” The state’s criminal complaint against Chauvin said the autopsy “revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease.” He also was COVID-19 positive.
Andrew Baker, Hennepin County’s chief medical examiner, strongly suggestedthat the primary cause was a huge amount of fentanyl in Floyd’s system: “Fentanyl at 11 ng/ml — this is higher than (a) chronic pain patient. If he were found dead at home alone & no other apparent causes, this could be acceptable to call an OD (overdose). Deaths have been certified w/levels of 3.” Baker also told investigators that the autopsy revealed no physical evidence suggesting Floyd died of asphyxiation.
The toxicology report on Floyd’s blood also noted that “in fatalities from fentanyl, blood concentrations are variable and have been reported as low as 3 ng/ml.” Floyd had almost four times the level of fentanyl considered potentially lethal.
Floyd notably repeatedly said that he could not breathe while sitting in the police cruiser and before he was ever restrained on the ground. That is consistent with the level of fentanyl in his system that can cause “slowed or stopped breathing.”
Finally, the restraint using an officer’s knee on an uncooperative suspect was part of the training of officers, and jurors will watch training videotapes employing the same type of restraint as official policy.
Even with a manslaughter conviction, however, the case against officers like Lane would be difficult. Lane is shown as the officer who first confronted Floyd after he refused to show his hands. Lane yelled at Floyd to show his hands. After Floyd replied, “Please don’t shoot me, man,” Lane said, “I’m not shooting you, man.” Later, when Floyd struggled not to get into the police car and said he cannot breathe, Lane is heard offering to sit with him, roll down the windows and turn on the air conditioning. It is also Lane (who had only been on the force a couple days) who encourages Chauvin to move Floyd from the knee restraint position.
Lane might never see a trial if the case against Chauvin fails and causes a cascading failure. Not only could Chauvin be acquitted or left with a hung jury, but the impact could be the collapse of all four cases. That will be up to the jury. But if there is violence after the verdict, it will be far worse if the public is not aware upfront of the serious challenges in proving this case.
* * *
Yes, public anger will likely surge into another full-blown riot (with the self-righteous encouragement of Rep. Maxine Waters) if Chauvin is acquitted. But could you imagine what might happen if Chauvin is acquitted and the charges against his compatriots are dropped?
Transit ridership at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has declined in every year since Nuria Fernandez was made CEO of San Jose’s principle transit agency at the end of 2013. By 2019, transit fares collected by VTA covered just 9 percent of operating costs, far lower than the national average of 32 percent. VTA light??rail cars carried an average of just 14 passengers, compared with a national average of 24. Most San Jose light??rail “trains” are just one car long, meaning they could easily be replaced by buses at a huge savings to taxpayers.
VTA light rail: a model of government waste. Notice the HOV lanes that could have supported buses carrying more people to more destinations than the light??rail line.
Before Fernandez arrived, VTA had spent billions of dollars building a light??rail system that did nothing but jeopardize the agency’s finances, which in turn contributed to the dramatic decline in ridership: Between 2002 and 2019, the region’s population grew by 15 percent yet transit ridership fell by 29 percent. While she didn’t make the decision to build those light??rail lines, she is proud that she was able to get federal funding to help build a subway line into downtown San Jose.
Downtown San Jose has less than 3 percent of Silicon Valley’s jobs, making the region profoundly unsuited to rail transit, which is primarily designed to bring large numbers of people into downtown job centers. Meanwhile, VTA and other regional bus service is so bad that Apple, Facebook, Google, and other companies have hired their own fleets of buses to bring employees to their work centers.
If VTA had focused on buses instead of rail construction, it could have provided some of that transportation. Apparently, Fernandez and VTA’s board agree that the agency’s main mission is to create construction jobs and contractor profits, not to safely move people around the region.
Under Fernandez’ management, VTA’s response to the pandemic has been lackluster at best. When the state of California issued mandatory directives to transit agencies to protect employees and customers from COVID-19, Fernandez told the VTA board of directors that the directives were “just a guidance” and didn’t have to be followed in detail by VTA. After two VTA employees died of the virus, the state of California to fined the agency for health and safety violations because VTA failed to ensure that passengers and employees wore masks. VTA has also failed to install the best??available filters into its bus and railcar air circulation systems.
Given Fernandez’ track record and President Biden’s love for obsolete passenger rail transportation, it is no surprise that Biden nominated her to lead the Federal Transit Administration. As FTA administrator, Fernandez will become the chief cheerleader for Biden’s proposal to spend an additional $85 billion on transit. This will give many other transit agencies the opportunity to become more beholden to rail contractors than to transit riders. Transit ridership is likely to never recover after the pandemic, but under Biden and Fernandez, expensive transit expansions will continue whether anyone rides transit or not.
Two men were killed over the weekend in Texas when a driverless Tesla vehicle slammed into a tree and burst into flames, police said.
What are the details?
According to KHOU-TV, the accident occurred at approximately 11:25 p.m. local time on Saturday night in Spring, Texas, which is near Houston.
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman reported that a 2019 Tesla Model S, believed to be in self-driving mode, failed to negotiate a cul-de-sac curve while driving at a high rate of speed. The vehicle then traveled off the roadway and crashed into a tree before bursting into flames.
Deputies added that it took firefighters almost four hours and more than 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish the flames because the vehicle’s batteries kept reigniting. At one point, the firefighters had to contact Tesla for advice on how to put out the fire.
“Normally when the fire department arrives, they have the vehicle fire in control in minutes, but this went on close to four hours,” said Herman.
When the crew finally got the fire under control, deputies searched the vehicle and found two bodies — one on the front passenger seat and the other in the back seat. Deputies believe the victims were a 59-year-old man and a 69-year-old man.
Fiery Tesla crash leaves two men dead near The Woodlands
Speaking with reporters, Herman stated that investigators are absolutely sure “there was no one driving” the vehicle at the time of the crash.
“They are 100% certain that no one was in the driver seat driving that vehicle at the time of impact. They are positive,” Herman said. “Our investigators are trained. They handle collisions … they feel very confident just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact that there was no one driving that vehicle.”
The brother-in-law of one of the deceased spoke to KPRC-TV following the crash and indicated that the two passengers were best friends who had just gone out for a joyride.
He said his brother-in-law, who owned the vehicle, backed out of the driveway and likely hopped in the back seat, only to crash a few hundred yards down the road of the subdivision. He added that relatives watched as deputies worked for hours to put out the flames resulting from the accident.
Shortly before the accident occurred, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted new accident report data from the first quarter of 2021 allegedly showing that someone driving a Tesla with autopilot engaged is 10 times less likely to be in an accident than a driver manually operating an average vehicle.
Tesla with Autopilot engaged now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than average vehicle https://t.co/6lGy52wVhC
Rabo: The Angry Public Wants To Give A Red Card To The Whole Global System
By Michael Every of Rabobank
A red card for the whole system
“IT’S RED!” A straight red card for Global Neoliberalism United, that is. 12 of Europe’s top football (‘soccer’) clubs are planning to break away from their already-lucrative elite domestic leagues, and their even-more lucrative Champions League, in order to form a breakaway closed-loop European Super League with no relegation and no cup competitions. In short, the richest (if not most successful) clubs, and the world’s most famous players, are potentially about to walk away from the entire global system of football – including the quadrennial World Cup – to keep all of the global money in the game rather than sharing just a little of it with others: this is of course backed by Wall Street and private equity to the tune of USD8bn.
Even the US football system sees the least successful team get first pick of the draft new players; by contrast, global football has long seen increasing returns to the biggest clubs and their subsequent de-anchoring from their own domestic and now pan-European leagues. Amazingly, this puts UEFA –an institution with the transparency and public affection of a Bond Villain– in the position of the good guys trying to hold the game’s gossamer-thin ties to its grassroots. This is, sadly, perhaps what the market wants though: endless ‘Clash of the Titans’ games with no consequences. No true fans needed, just click-bait viewers. In which vein, may I make some suggestions to the bankers setting up the new rules to make it even more neoliberal/lucrative?
Two halves of 45 minutes without ad-breaks doesn’t work – so let’s have 10x 5 minute ‘plays’ with 1 minute ad-breaks in-between before and after half-time’s 15-minute long ad-break;
Off-side and hand ball rules are confusing and stop goals being scored – so let’s get rid of them;
The middle of the field is irrelevant because no goals are scored there – so let’s cut it out and move the goals closer together;
The size of goals reduces the number of goals – so let’s make them twice as big; and
Defenders touching attackers risks injury, so you might not get to see your favorite player score in the Big Derby every week – so let’s make the sport non-contact.
If my contempt shines through here – good. As a third generation fan of one of the teams on this breakaway list, whose mother was waved a mascot in the stands by his grandfather – I am out. I will never love another team, but I no longer care what happens to the next iteration of this one. And as for the neoliberal Beautiful Game, the real beauty is that if the USD9bn invested proves misspent because fans don’t want to watch sport like a movie trailer rather than a movie, then all involved will just call for the referee’s Fed card.
European press will no doubt be dominated by this news today: yet the power-play here reflects the world around us in microcosm – and ‘reds’ are deeply involved again.
New US regulations mean companies will have to ask permission from the government to use any IT equipment and services from China or other countries deemed “adversaries” as of May, seen impacting up to 4.5m firms. This potential disruption comes on top of a shortage of semiconductors already seeing global production lines halted. So a rich, break-away, closed-loop league(?),…and just as a PBOC advisor states from 2025 China’s growth will slow sharply due to a demographic collapse, which will cause a crisis in consumption: so much for Wall Street/private equity straight-line projections on *that* front;
Jack Ma is reportedly being pressured to sell his stake in Ant Group; and
In the Netherlands, De Volkskrant reports Huawei would have had free access to national telco KPN’s mobile network in the past and could eavesdrop on all conversations, including the government: what does it imply about future choices of IT systems in Europe?
Then again, over the weekend France and Germany had another side-bar discussion with China, underlined they want to ratify the CAI investment deal despite EU parliamentarians being under Chinese sanctions, and Germany stressed ongoing cooperation. That’s as Deutsche Telekom is still working with Huawei, and VW states “…we will also stand by our engagement in Xinjiang, as long as we think it’s doable from an economic point of view.” Even so, after finishing the call Xi Jinping attacked the EU for plans to impose green tariffs to prevent ‘carbon leakage’ (and financial leakage from any Green New Deals – though what is China’s own ‘dual circulation’, one may ask?). This follows the pattern of their last video chat being followed by China arresting dozens in Hong Kong, leading to the aforementioned tit-for-tat sanctions on EU MPs. Someone doesn’t learn.
Ironically, Macron has just stated there has been a “naïve approach” towards Russia and “clear red lines” need to be set by the international community. Some would point out that these already exist in the form of Ukraine’s border. There, a huge Russian military force has been assembled, and continues to grow. Military (and financial) logistics suggest it must either go home soon – or be used.
Tellingly, Belarussian President Lukashenko has alleged an assassination attempt against him; Ukraine and Russia have both expelled diplomats; the Czechs have expelled 18 Russian intelligence operatives; and imprisoned Russian opposition leader Navalny, on hunger strike, may be close to death according to his family, something the US says would have “consequences” – so the background music is ominous. Putin gives his annual address to the nation on Wednesday, which could be key. Yes, these tensions could rapidly fade away: but those with more military expertise than market analysts suggest the Russian aim could be to seize eastern Ukraine up to the Dnieper river, and the whole Black Sea coast through to Transnistria. If so, the potential consequences, and precedents, even raise the spectre of 1930’s-style break-aways from the League. (Tumbleweeds here, no doubt, from those in markets who don’t know the history I am referring to: they are too busy making magical straight-line projections about goals per game and Chinese consumer spending, all underwritten by expectations of central-bank bailouts.)
Relatedly, with Turkey banning crypto from the real economy, India planning to, and Wall Street in love with it (because it was going up – past tense), there are unconfirmed reports today that Cuba might adopt Bitcoin to try to work its way around US sanctions. To which I ask: only Cuba? That’s another awkward break-away/big money topic to focus on: so let’s not.
Indeed, let’s all talk about football today instead, why not, and see if the outrage already being expressed by the likes of the British Prime Minister is enough to stop this one microcosm of the problems that we face, in the hope that it is enough to assuage an angry public that would, if it could, give a red card to the whole global system.