Study Records 115 “Provocative Maneuvers, Close Encounters” Between US & China Warships This Year

Study Records 115 “Provocative Maneuvers, Close Encounters” Between US & China Warships This Year

Authored by Brett Wilkins via Common Dreams,

A group working for peaceful relations between the United States and China on Monday sent a letter to leaders of both countries imploring them to end or limit “dangerous and provocative military maneuvers” in the South China Sea and near Taiwan that could lead to all-out war.

Writing to U.S. President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Committee for a SANE U.S.-China Policy co-chairs Joseph Gerson and Michael Klare warned that “combative” U.S. and Chinese naval and aerial maneuvers “could result in the outbreak of accidental or unintended conflict with unforeseeable and possibly catastrophic consequences.”

Via Reuters

The group documented 115 “provocative maneuvers and close encounters” between U.S. and Chinese forces this year, with a dramatic increase following a controversial August visit to Taiwan by a U.S. congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

According to the document, China initiated 93 of the incidents, while the U.S. triggered 22. They ranged from “modest actions” by one or two ships or planes to “large-scale maneuvers” like a Chinese air force exercise involving 62 warplanes along China’s maritime border with Taiwan. 

“Whenever these maneuvers occur, it is common for the opposing side to mobilize its own air and naval forces to guard its territory (or those of its allies) and ward off any intruders,” the letter notes. “This has resulted, on some occasions, in close encounters between the ships and planes of the opposing sides—with only the skillful action of pilots and helmsmen preventing a potentially deadly collision.”

“This good fortune, however, is not likely to last forever,” the group cautioned, “and, with the frequency and scale of these maneuvers increasing by the week, the likelihood of a mishap is increasing exponentially.”

“Given this danger, we call on you to immediately take unilateral and bilateral steps to reduce the risk of an accidental or unintended clash between U.S. and [Chinese] air and naval forces in the West Pacific by discontinuing or scaling back military exercises that could be deemed threatening by others,” the letter continues.

Satellite imagery showing US and Chinese warships on either side of the Taiwan Strait median line on Sept.20…

The activists also urged the two countries’ leaders to hold talks “between military officials of the two sides,” plus “other interested parties such as Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines,” to create “‘rules of the road’ for safe, nonthreatening air and naval maneuvers.” The group’s letter comes amid intense U.S. diplomatic efforts to persuade China to be less supportive of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It is peculiar,” wrote South China Morning Post opinion contributor Dong Lei on Friday, “how Washington expects help from China on Ukraine while maintaining a campaign of hectoring and humiliation, including on China’s refusal to condemn Russia, and on Taiwan.”

Tyler Durden
Wed, 09/28/2022 – 03:30

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Tesla Pleads For Employees To Help With “Very High Volume” Of Deliveries Heading Into Quarter-End

Tesla Pleads For Employees To Help With “Very High Volume” Of Deliveries Heading Into Quarter-End

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: we’re heading into the end of the quarter and an email has magically leaked to the pro-Tesla blog over at electrek – and again it’s a plea from Elon Musk to his employees to help keep up with incredible delivery demand.

It almost feels like we relive this same scenario every single quarter…

Regardless, it’s looking like Q3 2022 isn’t going to be the exception, with electrek dutifully reporting this morning that Tesla is expecting a “very high volume” of vehicle deliveries during the end of the quarter. 

And the organization is – wait for it – asking for all employee hands on deck. “We have been starting to get indications that it could be another intense delivery push,” the blog wrote on Tuesday morning. 

In an email obtained by electrek, Tesla wrote to its employees: “We will be delivering a very high volume of vehicles to eagerly waiting customers during the final days of Q3. To help ensure we can delight as many customers as possible, the delivery team is requesting additional support with key delivery-execution tasks.”

Tesla calls for all employees to help with tasks related to delivering vehicles in the email. This includes employees not in the sales and delivery department potentially partaking in tasks like “preparing vehicles, delivering vehicles directly to customers, and answering customer questions on delivery day”, the blog says. 

For the quarter, analysts are expecting deliveries between 350,000 and 370,000. The company’s previous record was about 310,000 units, which it achieved in Q1 of this year. Delivery numbers are expected to be released this weekend. 

“There’s no doubt that this quarter is going to be another delivery record,” electrek writes with bold certainty. “But the last few days of the month could make the difference between Tesla hitting the lower end or the higher end of those 350,000- to 370,000-unit delivery estimates.”

How soon until electrek’s staff flies out to California to help wash cars and prepare them for delivery, too?

Tyler Durden
Wed, 09/28/2022 – 02:45

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New Zealand Calls It Quits On Aiding Ukraine’s Military

New Zealand Calls It Quits On Aiding Ukraine’s Military

At a moment Washington continues what’s essentially an endless arms and financial aid pipeline to Ukraine, and as some defense officials express concerns over the Pentagon’s own dwindling stockpiles, one country says it’s giving up on arming Kyiv.

New Zealand, which is one of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing partners which includes the US, now says it can no longer keep up with supplying what Ukraine is asking for without depleting its stockpiles.

“The New Zealand government has expanded sanctions on key Russians, but cannot provide further military assistance as it has nothing Ukraine wants,” The Canberra Times reports Tuesday.

Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H(NZ) Hercules arrives into the Australian Defence Force’s main operating base in the UAE. Source: Australian military

Defense Minister Peeni Henare said his country stands “ready to provide further lethal aid if Ukraine’s needs matched its stockpiles.”

The top defense official then confirmed it is currently the case that the military cannot keep up:

Asked on Tuesday whether New Zealand had considered further military support, Mr Henare said the requests didn’t match “on our current assessment and according to the requests in the donor meetings I’ve been on”.

“On those donor calls, they’ve come asking and it’s for HIMARS, land-to-air defence systems and also land-to-sea defence systems,” he said.

So far, New Zealand’s contribution has been meager – given also it’s a tiny Pacific island nation – compared to European countries, and has been focused on defensive equipment such as body armor.

“If they were things we were to procure, they would take years but that hasn’t stopped us providing military aid,” PM Jacinda Ardern commented this week on the logistical challenges in procuring and then shipping weapons abroad.

A look at historic New Zealand military expenditures over the last half-century…

But as a major non-NATO ally of the United States and major intelligence-sharing partner, New Zealand is without doubt assisting the US mission in support of Ukrainian forces in this arena. It is also vowing more sanctions, and has typically signed off on whatever fresh US and EU anti-Russia sanctions are rolled out.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 09/28/2022 – 02:00

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Watch: French PM Declares EU Will Be ‘Vigilant’ Against ‘Threat’ Of Democratically Elected Italian Leader

Watch: French PM Declares EU Will Be ‘Vigilant’ Against ‘Threat’ Of Democratically Elected Italian Leader

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,


Following the stunning election of conservative candidate Georgia Meloni to the office of Prime Minister in Italy, Meloni’s French counterpart has declared that the EU will be ‘vigilant’ against any ‘threat to human rights’ posed by the democratically elected leader.

France’s Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, stated during an interview that the EU intends to scrutinise the actions of the Italy’s first woman PM.

“In Europe, we have a set of values ​​and, of course, we will be mindful that these values ​​are respected by everyone when it comes to human rights and the right to abortion,” Borne proclaimed.

Meloni, a Catholic, has previously promised that there will be no crack down on abortion in Italy, but has expressed a desire to see more alternatives offered to women.

The comments of the French PM come after European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen threatened to punish Italy for electing a right-wing coalition government.

Von der Leyen stated that “we have tools” if Italy is not “willing to work with us”:

The thinly veiled threat was blasted by Matteo Salvini, head of Lega (The League), the party expected to form a coalition with Meloni’s government.

“These are disgusting words, the threatening tone is unacceptable,” Salvini urged, adding “Our parliamentary group will present a motion of censure,” and emphasising that the Italian people control what happens in their country, not “the Brussels bureaucrats”.

Following the victory of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, hysterical media coverage ensued, with numerous publications warning of the “return of fascism in Italy.”

Those concerns were rubbished by, of all people, former leftist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who called them “fake news.”

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/27/2022 – 23:30

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Syria Demands Compensation For Oil Losses In UN Speech

Syria Demands Compensation For Oil Losses In UN Speech

In a rare plea before the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Syria’s top diplomat demanded compensation for oil and gas stolen by the United States, as well as its monumental energy losses over the course of the 11-year long war.

“The war against Syria, ultimately, was an attempt by the West to maintain control over the world,” Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told the assembly on Monday, demanding further that the continuing US military occupation in the oil and gas rich northeast “should end immediately, without conditions.”

Syria’s foreign minister Faisal Mekdad addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly this week.

He informed UN leaders that “direct and indirect” oil and gas sector losses over the course of the conflict have reached $107 billion, stressing further that Damascus is demanding compensation.

“Fighting terrorism does not happen through an illegitimate international coalition that violates Syria’s sovereignty and destroys towns and villages,” Mekdad asserted. He said that any ‘counterterror’ campaign or foreign presence on sovereign Syrian soil must be done in direct coordination with President Bashar al-Assad. 

While during the Trump administration years the hundreds of American troops stationed in eastern parts of Syria were there to “secure the oil” – as Trump had often repeated, the Biden administration has chosen to stress a continued counter-terrorism mission. And yet, US forces and their Kurdish SDF proxies continue to occupy the largest and most important oil and gas fields in the region

Russia too has long called for the immediate exit of American forces, and has of late appeared to step up its air campaign against anti-government jihadist elements in Idlib, which has put Turkey on edge. Pro-Iranian militias have reportedly launched sporadic attacks on US bases, meanwhile.

Ironically, just last week in President Joe Biden’s address to the UNGA, he declared “you cannot seize another country’s territory by force. The only country doing that is Russia.”

Many pundits were then quick to point out the obvious: that Biden denounced Russia’s occupation of eastern Ukraine all the while being completely oblivious to the years-long American occupation of Syria. Or alternately, Washington is certainly fully aware and believes itself to be the only country in the world with the “right” or “mandate” to seize any foreign soil that it wants to.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/27/2022 – 23:00

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Pennsylvania Pro-Life Advocate to Appear In Federal Court Following Dawn SWAT Raid

Pennsylvania Pro-Life Advocate to Appear In Federal Court Following Dawn SWAT Raid

Authored by Allan Stein via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A Pennsylvania State Police SWAT officer stands by as Eric Frein arrives at the Pike County Courthouse for his arraignment in Milford, Penn., on Oct. 31, 2014. Frein, a suspected cop killer, was taken into custody from a Pennsylvania airport hangar after a seven-week manhunt. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

A pro-life advocate and father of seven will appear in federal court in Philadelphia on Sept. 27 to face charges that he violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) outside a Pennsylvania abortion clinic nearly a year ago.

Mark Houck, a Catholic pro-life speaker and author from Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, is accused of twice physically assaulting a patient escort at a Planned Parenthood clinic during an altercation in October 2021.

On Sept. 23, a heavily armed Justice Department SWAT team arrested the 48-year-old Houck at his home at gunpoint, placing him in handcuffs while his terrified wife and children looked on.

Houck became the latest target of President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice solely to “intimidate people of faith and pro-life Americans,” said Peter Breen, an attorney at the Thomas Moore Society, a national non-profit law firm representing Houck in the case.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a primetime speech at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Penn., on Sept. 1, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Mark Houck is innocent of these lawless charges, and we intend to prove that in court,” Breen said in a Sept. 26 statement.

About 20 heavily armed FBI agents stormed Houck’s home at daybreak on Sept. 23, pointing guns at his head and then arresting him in front of his wife Ryan-Marie and their young children.

He faces two counts of physically assaulting the patient escort.

In June, Thomas Moore Society attorneys notified the DOJ that the FACE Act does not cover one-on-one altercations like the one involving Houck, which they claimed was initiated by an abortion supporter harassing Houck’s son.

The attorneys also advised that Houck would appear in court voluntarily to face any charges against him.

Rather than accepting Mark Houck’s offer to appear voluntarily, the Biden Department of Justice chose to make an unnecessary show of potentially deadly force, sending 20 heavily armed federal agents to the Houck residence at dawn this past Friday,” Breen said in the statement.

“In threatening form, after nearly breaking down the family’s front door, at least five agents pointed guns at Mark’s head and arrested him in front of his wife and seven young children, who were terrified that their husband and father would be shot dead before their eyes.”

Donations continued to pour in for the Houck family via the Christian crowdfunding platform GiveSendGo, which totaled $137,000 as of Sept. 25.

Mark Houck faces up to 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000 if convicted.

In June 2019, Thomas Moore Society attorneys won a similar case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, establishing that a one-off altercation cannot form the basis for a FACE Act complaint.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/27/2022 – 22:30

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Futures Tumble After Report Apple Backs Off Plans To Increase iPhone Production Due To Lack Of Demand

Futures Tumble After Report Apple Backs Off Plans To Increase iPhone Production Due To Lack Of Demand

So much can change in just 8 days: back on Sept 19, citing “Apple analyst” Ming-Chi Kuo, 9to5mac reported that Apple was “cranking up iPhone 14 Pro production to address higher demand.”

Well, maybe not, because moments ago, citing people familiar with the matter, late on Tuesday Bloomberg reported that contrary to expectations for a production boost, Apple is instead “backing off plans to increase production of its new iPhones this year after an anticipated surge in demand failed to materialize.

According to the report, the phone maker which hasn’t come up with a refreshingly new model in about 4 years but merely adds more megapixels and a slightly faster chip and presents it as “new”, told suppliers “to pull back from efforts to increase assembly of the iPhone 14 product family by as many as 6 million units in the second half of this year.” Instead, Apple will aim to produce 90 million handsets for the period, around the same level as the prior year and in line with Apple’s original forecast this summer.

In fairness, it’s not like outside analysts had any idea Tim Cook was about to pull a swticheroo: Apple had upgraded its sales projections in the weeks leading up to the iPhone 14 release and some of its suppliers had started making preparations for a 7% boost in orders. But just two weeks after the unveil of the new phone, Apple realized that this anticipated demand boost wasn’t coming.

And yes, while demand for higher-priced iPhone 14 Pro models may indeed be stronger than for the entry-level versions – after all the baseline model offers absolutely nothing new – at least until the market plunges another 20% and even those rich on paper have to cancel their orders, even so the overall supply will not change although in hopes of salvaging at least margins if not overall revenue, some suppliers are shifting production capacity from lower-priced iPhones to premium models… which incidentally is hardly as it was reported by MacRumors about a week ago.

Needless to say, the success – and failure – of the company’s leading device has implications for wide swathes of the tech industry, with suppliers including Taiwan Semiconductor and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. depending on sales of iPhones and related devices as key revenue drivers.

All this is happening as China, the world’s biggest smartphone market, is in an economic slump that’s hit its domestic mobile device makers and also affected the iPhone’s sales. Purchases of the iPhone 14 series over its first three days of availability in China were 11% down on its predecessor the previous year, according to a Jefferies note on Monday.

And then there is the global recession: as Bloomberg notes, global demand for personal electronics has also been suppressed by soaring inflation, recession fears and disruption from the war in Ukraine. As a result, the smartphone market is expected to shrink by 6.5% this year to 1.27 billion units, according to data from market tracker IDC.

“The supply constraints pulling down on the market since last year have eased and the industry has shifted to a demand-constrained market,” said Nabila Popal, research director at IDC. “High inventory in channels and low demand with no signs of immediate recovery has OEMs panicking and cutting their orders drastically for 2022.”

The news that there is just not enough demand for the trinkets and beads of the world’s largest company promptly hammered futures, which not only gave up all overnight gains, but promptly tumbled back to session – and fresh 2022 – lows.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/27/2022 – 22:11

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30-Year US Mortgage Rises Above 7% For The First Time Since 2000; Fastest Surge In History

30-Year US Mortgage Rises Above 7% For The First Time Since 2000; Fastest Surge In History

Less than two weeks ago we cited Freddie Mac according to which the average 30 year US mortgage just rose above 6% for the first time since 2008, with real-estate brokerage Redfin commemorating the move by saying that “This Is The Sharpest Turn In The Housing Market Since The 2008 Crash.” Well, just a few days later, Jeff Gundlach was so kind to point out this evening…

…that  the national average 30 year mortgage rate just soared above 7.0%, hitting 7.08% and the highest since December 11, 2000.

This was the fastest 1% increase in mortgage rates in history; and the fact that it took place inside of a month is even more remarkable.

There is nothing we can add here that isn’t self-explanatory, and that we haven’t said already, like for example the fastest ever collapse in YoY Case-Shiller prices, as well as the first sequential drop in 112 years…

… not to mention that the typical home now sells for less than the asking price…

… but what is perhaps most remarkable is that according to the Altanta Fed, as of a few weeks ago, the median American household would needed to spend 44.5% of their income to afford payments on a median-priced home in the US, the highest percentage on record with data going back to 2006.

Well, as of today, that number is just over 50%. That’s right: more than half of the average US household’s income goes to paying housing payments, nearly double what this number was just two years ago.

That such a move can’t end in anything but tears is obvious to everyone… but the Fed, which still thinks it can somehow avoid the most destructive of hard landings.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/27/2022 – 21:41

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Oil Prices Are About To Reverse Course

Oil Prices Are About To Reverse Course

By Irina Slav of

“That would be the road to hell for America,” JP Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon said last week, referring to a suggestion that all big banks divest from the oil and gas industry. In the same week, Aramco’s chief executive warned that years of underinvestment in new oil production are beginning to bear fruit, which is an undersupplied market.

Despite these statements that suggested oil prices should move higher, oil fell for much of the week. Yet it wasn’t dragged down by fundamentals. Oil prices are down because many traders and investors are bracing for a recession.

The bad news is that even in a recession, oil prices can go higher, and this is exactly what some of those banks that kept JP Morgan company at last week’s Congress hearing expected.

Actually, JP Morgan was one of the bullish forecasters. Last week, the banking major’s analysts wrote in a note that they expected Brent crude to rebound to $101 in the fourth quarter. The analysts cited tighter supply as the reason for their forecast.

Goldman Sachs is even more bullish. Three weeks ago, the bank’s analysts said Brent could hit $125 next year despite the oil price cap touted by the G7 as a tool both for keeping the market supplied with Russian oil and for lowering prices. They remain bullish to date.

Morgan Stanley is a little more modest in its price expectations, seeking Brent crude at $95 per barrel in the last quarter of the year. It’s worth noting that this is a downward revision of the bank’s price outlook for the fourth quarter, which happened two weeks ago, prompted by growing recession fears.

UBS also revised down its price expectations earlier this month, again citing recession concerns as well as the continued flow of Russian oil to Asian importers. That downward revision, however, brought Brent to $110, with analysts noting it could rise to $125 by the end of the third quarter of 2023.

The reasons that the Swiss bank gave for the expected rebound are as interesting as they are worrying. According to UBS, oil prices wouldn’t rebound because of a recovering global economy. They would rebound because of the greater demand for oil products for electricity generation and because of tighter overall markets as the U.S. ends its SPR oil sale program.

During the current quarter, oil prices have slumped by 20 percent, Bloomberg noted in a report on bank forecasts about its price. The reason, once again, had nothing to do with supply and demand dynamics. It had a lot to do with central bank policies and specifically the Fed’s aggressive move to rein in inflation by a quick succession of rate hikes that have pushed the dollar a lot higher, making commodities priced in the currency more expensive.

On the fundamental front, the G7 is pushing ahead with the oil price cap, even though Russia said that it would simply not sell oil to a country enforcing a price cap. The EU, for its part, is currently discussing yet another package of sanctions against Moscow following the news that four eastern Ukrainian regions would be holding referendums to join the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, OPEC+ keeps falling well short of its production targets, and this will likely continue. In addition, some analysts expect the cartel to implement more production cuts, further squeezing global supply.

In the U.S., inventories in the strategic petroleum reserve are at the lowest in decades, and this has worried some. Others, like Robert Rapier, have pointed out that the SPR is not as vital for the country’s supply as it used to be decades ago when the U.S. was heavily dependent on oil imports.

What the above suggests is what Aramco’s Nasser warned about last week. The oil market is not in balance, and supply is getting tighter because there is little in the way of new supply to make up for natural depletion, which has been accompanied by other factors such as political instability and U.S. sanctions on large producers.

At the same time, with the EU tightening the sanction screws on Russia, chances are that gas prices will remain elevated, which will result in what UBS noted as one factor for higher oil prices: greater demand for fuels to use in the generation of electricity instead of even costlier natural gas.

“The consequence of global inventory drawdowns is that once demand picks up, the upshot in prices will happen all over again,” Morgan Stanley global oil strategist Martijn Rats told Bloomberg. “For now, demand has taken a step back, but the supply picture hasn’t changed that much; the supply ceiling is not that far away at all. As soon as demand picks up, we will have the same price pressures in the market again.”

In a nutshell, this is the ultimate reason why oil prices will likely soon be on their way back up. Supply growth is stalling while demand is about to pick up. And depending on how strongly it picks up, we could see a lot higher oil prices next year.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/27/2022 – 21:00

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US Tells Snowden Return Home To “Face Justice” Or Risk Conscription In Russian Army

US Tells Snowden Return Home To “Face Justice” Or Risk Conscription In Russian Army

Upon learning of Monday’s decree signed by Vladimir Putin to grant Russian citizenship to ex-NSA employee Edward Snowden after having been given asylum since he arrived there in 2013, the US administration called on Snowden to return to American soil to “face justice”.

“Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he should face justice as any other American citizen would,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.

Edward Snowden posted a photo of his family to Twitter on Monday.

But Price followed with a claim that’s being disputed by Snowden’s legal defense team. “Perhaps the only thing that has changed, is that as a result of his Russian citizenship, apparently now he may well be conscripted to fight in Russia’s war in Ukraine,” he said.

In response, Snowden’s lawyer was quoted in Russia’s Sputnik as saying since Snowden never served in the Russian army, he will not be impacted by the ‘partial mobilization’ – which applies to reservists, though there have been conflicting reports of instances of draft notices being sent out to Russian young men:

“He did not serve in the Russian army, therefore, according to our current legislation, he does not fall into this category of citizens, which is now called up. You know that now they are calling up reservists who have served and have the appropriate specialty. And then he will act according to the law, as everything is provided for in Russian legislation,” Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s laywer in Russia, said.

The decree enacted on Monday stated as follows:

“In accordance with paragraph ‘a’ of Article 89 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, I decide: to accept the following persons in the citizenship of the Russian Federation: Edward Joseph Snowden, born June 21, 1983, in the United States of America.”

In a statement posted to Twitter, Snowden said he had applied for and obtained dual citizenship on fears that he could be separated from his son without Russian citizenship.

Snowden remains America’s most visible whistleblower, after a career in US intelligence, including as a contractor for the NSA and CIA, he exposed pervasive US government domestic surveillance, which critics say is a severe violation of individual Americans’ rights as guaranteed under the Constitution.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 09/27/2022 – 20:40

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