Russia To Open Sea Corridors From Ukraine Ports Amid Wheat Crisis, But Warns Of Ukrainian Mines

Russia To Open Sea Corridors From Ukraine Ports Amid Wheat Crisis, But Warns Of Ukrainian Mines

After being accused of using the food supply as blackmail and a bargaining chip, Russia said Wednesday its military will open up protected sea corridors for international shipping to pass through from seven Ukrainian ports that have thus far been blockaded.

According to a defense ministry statement reported by Bloomberg late in the day, “Humanitarian maritime corridors from ports on the Black Sea and Azov Sea, including Odesa, will operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.”

Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania recently had a drifting mine nearby. Image: Alamy

The announcement comes two days after the head of the United Nations World Food Program David Beasley ripped Moscow for what he dubbed a “declaration of war” on global food security. He’s been urging “political solution” to the crisis of blocked Black Sea ports, saying the war in ‘the world’s breadbasket’ threatens to unleash “famine, the destabilization of nations as well as mass migration by necessity.” Millions of people in 43 countries dependent on grain from the war-torn region are “knocking on famine’s door,” he said.

However, Russia has stressed that its military is engaged in extensive and complex demining operations due thousands of mines dotting Ukraine’s coast placed by Ukrainian forces, making international shipping dangerous and impossible. As reported in the independent Moscow Times:

The port of Mariupol has resumed normal operations, Russia’s Defense Ministry  announced Wednesday.

The Defense Ministry said Black Sea Fleet specialists cleared more than 12,000 mines from the seaport and its surrounding areas.

Some one-third of global wheat supplies originate from Ukraine and Russia, with the bulk of it passing through the Black Sea.

On Wednesday Russia said it remains ready and willing to work with the West to reach a solution, but that easing sanctions is a necessity:

“We have repeatedly stated on this point that a solution to the food problem requires a comprehensive approach, including the lifting of sanctions that have been imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko was quoted as saying by Interfax.

But the statement called on Ukraine to cease deployment of sea mines, and to engage in immediate demining operations: “And it also requires the demining by the Ukrainian side of all ports where ships are anchored. Russia is ready to provide the necessary humanitarian passage, which it does every day,” Rudenko added.

He further warned against such plans that have been floated lately by Lithuania and the UK which involve foreign military naval escorts accompanying cargo ships. Interfax quoted him as saying such a scenarios would “seriously exacerbate the situation in the Black Sea.”

Also, addressing ongoing accusations that Russia is stealing Ukrainian grain and other food sources, he stressed to reporters: “We completely reject this. We don’t steal anything from anyone.”

Regarding mines, NATO in a message this month warned all commercial traffic in the Black Sea of the growing danger of drifting mines as spillover from the Russia-Ukraine war. “The latest statement of regional authorities, confirming another sighting of a mine, shows the threat of drifting mines in the Southwest part of the Black Sea still exists,” a May 13 NATO shipping advisory said.

“An additional stray mine was detected and deactivated on 06 of April 2022 in the Southwestern part of the Black Sea. National authorities stated that the searches for mine-like objects are ongoing. The threat of more drifting mines cannot be ruled out,” it warned.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 05/25/2022 – 21:20

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“Very Dangerous”: Pelosi Responds For The First Time Since Being Banned From Communion

“Very Dangerous”: Pelosi Responds For The First Time Since Being Banned From Communion

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on May 24 reacted for the first time to being banned from communion in San Francisco, where she lives.

The decision “is very dangerous,” Pelosi said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks in Washington on May 17, 2022. (Julia Nikhinson/Reuters)

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone recently announced that he was banning Pelosi because of her continued support for abortion despite “numerous attempts” to convince her of “the grave evil she is perpetrating.”

Cordileone said he held off on the move for years while speaking with Pelosi but was compelled to act after the lawmaker’s position on abortion became “more extreme.” He also noted she has said that her Catholic faith motivates her support for abortion, which directly opposes Pope Francis and the Catholic teachings.

Since the first century the church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable,” the Vatican said in a communication to questioners in 2009, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”

Pelosi will not receive communion in San Francisco until she “publicly repudiate[s] her support for abortion ‘rights’ and confess[es] and receive[s] absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of penance,” Cordileone said.

Pelosi, speaking on Tuesday, attacked Cordileone directly by describing him as being “against LGBTQ rights” and questioning why he has not barred people who support the death penalty from taking communion.

I wonder about death penalty, which I am opposed to. So is the church, but they take no action against people who may not share their view,” she said.

Pelosi reportedly received communion at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown over the weekend following Cordileone’s announcement.

The Archdiocese of Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson told the Washington Examiner that Archbishop Wilton Gregory will not ban Pelosi from communion.

“The actions of Archbishop Cordileone are his decision to make in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Cardinal Gregory has not instructed the priests of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to refuse communion to anyone,” the spokesperson said.

Other bishops, including Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, have said they support Cordileone’s decision.

“All politicians who promote abortion should not receive holy communion until they have repented, repaired scandal, and been reconciled to Christ and the church,” Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, said in a statement.

Pelosi on Tuesday also was asked about the Women’s Health Protection Act, which she helped pass the House of Representatives before a bipartisan majority of senators blocked it.

Pelosi falsely said the bill did not expand access to abortion, alleging it would just “enshrine Roe v. Wade into the law.”

I think it’s very insulting to women to have their ability to make their own decision hampered by politics,” she said. “This should never have been politicized.”

Tyler Durden
Wed, 05/25/2022 – 21:00

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Obamacare ‘Time Bomb’ To Hit Right Before Midterms

Obamacare ‘Time Bomb’ To Hit Right Before Midterms

Congressional Democrats have yet another thing to worry about going into this year’s midterm elections.

A temporary pandemic relief program aimed at lowering healthcare premiums under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is set to expire unless Democrats can revive a reconciliation bill that extends the financial assistance past the end of the year. And that means striking a deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

If they can’t, roughly 13 million Americans will be hit with steep price hikes amid crippling inflation, in what Insider describes as a “time-bomb.”

“There’s no denying that if they are not extended, then there could definitely be a political impact,” said healthcare policy analyst Charles Gaba.

Voters are set to receive notices about premium increases in late October, as they head to the ballot box for the November midterms. Others would find out during the ACA open enrollment period, which begins on November 1.

“If Congress lets the ACA premium help in the American Rescue Plan expire at the end of this year, middle-class people buying their own insurance would be hit hardest,” tweeted Larry Levitt, vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Levitt noted that “a middle-class couple of 50 year-olds making $75,000 would see their premium go up by $8,304 on average,” adding “And, if the insurer hikes the unsubsidized premium by 10% for inflation, that’s another $1,468.

Gaba, the healthcare analyst, calculated potential premium hikes using different scenarios based on age, income, marital status and family size, and created two maps to illustrate how letting the ACA assistance lap would affect Americans by state:

In this scenario, a couple nearing retirement age in West Virginia would see their monthly premium soar $2,704 if  enhanced Obamacare subsidies expire, the sharpest increase in the US. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has been open to reviving pieces of Biden’s agenda without committing to any specific plans and Democrats can’t revive a bill without his support. He has been publicly noncommittal on renewing the program in a smaller package. -Insider

Americans who make just enough to lose access to government help would feel the brunt of the increases. “If you’re in that situation, you’d see all financial aid removed and your net cost would increase pretty dramatically,” said Gaba.

Those who make under 150% of the federal poverty level – $19,320 for singles and $39,750 for a family of four – would also end up paying more if the ACA assistance lapses.

As Insider notes, 20 Senate Democrats urged President Biden to include an extension of Obamacare subsidies a priority in his Build Back Better plan.

In other words – extending the assistance is a no-brainer for Democrats. The only question is whether Manchin will be on board. According to Politico, “Staffers for Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have spent the last couple weeks exchanging preliminary ideas for what the framework of a bill might look like,” adding that “the discussions have boosted hopes that an agreement remains in reach, though there is little expectation of a breakthrough before Memorial Day.”

Tyler Durden
Wed, 05/25/2022 – 20:40

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US Government Admits It Used Schools As Tool To Erase Culture, Seize Native American Land: Report

US Government Admits It Used Schools As Tool To Erase Culture, Seize Native American Land: Report

Authored by Beth Brelje via The Epoch Times,

Erasing culture, pulling children away from their parents, and disregarding the emotional needs of children. These tactics could be pulled from today’s headlines, but they are the tried-and-true education policies the United States has admitted to using for 150 years as a tool to force the assimilation of Native Americans, and specifically to acquire Indian territorial land.

U.S. School for Indians at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, 1891. (John C. H. Grabill collection, Library of Congress)

This month, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) released a 106-page report detailing how the U.S. federal government “applied systematic militarized and identity-alteration methodologies in the Federal Indian boarding school system to assimilate American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children through education.”

The BIA says the government used the education of children to “replace the Indian’s culture with our own.” This, the report says, was considered “the cheapest and safest way of subduing the Indians, of providing a safe habitat for the country’s white inhabitants, of helping the whites acquire desirable land, and of changing the Indian’s economy so that he would be content with less land.”

The report was requested last year by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico. She is the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks during a daily press briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on April 23, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Haaland asked for an investigation into the loss of lives and lasting consequences of the Federal Indian boarding school system.

“This report shows for the first time that between 1819 and 1969, the United States operated or supported 408 boarding schools across 37 states [or then-territories], including 21 schools in Alaska and seven schools in Hawaii,” Bryan Newland, assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, wrote in a letter introducing the report.

Another report expanding the investigation is planned.

“The Federal Indian boarding school policy was intentionally targeted … at children to assimilate them and, consequently, take their territories,” Newland said.

The report makes recommendations for new funding and the revitalization of tribal languages and cultural practices—a move necessary, Newland said, to start the healing process.

Taken from Parents

Congress ended treaty-making with Indian tribes in 1871 and started using statutes, executive orders, and agreements to regulate Indian Affairs, the report says. Around that time, Congress enacted laws to compel Indian parents to send their children to school and to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to issue regulations to secure the enrollment and regular attendance of eligible Indian children, whom the government considered wards of the government.

“Many Indian families resisted the assault of the Federal Government on their lives by refusing to send their children to school,” the 1969 Kennedy Report, quoted in the current report, said.

Under the Act of March 3, 1893, Congress authorized the Secretary of Interior to withhold rations, including those guaranteed by treaties, to Indian families whose children between ages 8-21 did not attend schools. No school meant no money or food for the family.

“There is ample evidence in federal records demonstrating that the United States coerced, induced, or compelled Indian children to enter the Federal Indian boarding school system,” the report says.

The Department of Interior moved children to off-reservation boarding schools without parental consent, often in distant states where children endured “rampant physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; disease; malnourishment; overcrowding; and lack of health care,” the report says.

Ciricahua Apaches at the Carlisle Indian School, Penn., 1885 or 1886, as they looked upon arrival at the School. (Library of Congress)

Once at boarding school, children were given English names and clothing. Their hair was cut, and they were prevented from using their native language, religion, and cultural practices. Children were sorted into units to perform military drills; performed labor and were subject to corporal punishment.

At the Kickapoo Boarding School in Kansas, when children ran away from school, officials went looking for them and brought them back to school where they faced “a whipping administered soundly and prayerfully,” in front of other students to warn them not to flee, the report says. This same school had children sleeping three to a bed. The schools were typically overcrowded, the report shows.

The intent of all this was to permanently break family ties and prevent students from returning to the reservations. The system produced intergenerational trauma, the report says.

In 1886, the Haskell Institute in Kansas intentionally mixed Indian children from 31 different tribes to disrupt tribal relations and prevent Indian language use, the report says. The Department of Interior intended school graduates from different tribes to intermarry, so they would use English for their children’s mother tongue. Affected tribes that year included the Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Chippewa, Comanche, Caddo, Delaware, Iowa, Kiowa, Kickapoo, Kaw, Mojave, Muncie, Modoc, Miami, New York, Omaha, Ottawa, Osage, Pawnee, Pottawatomie, Ponca, Peoria, Quapaw, Seneca, Sac and Fox, Seminole, Shawnee, Sioux, and Wyandotte.

Lacking Education

Work done by children in these boarding schools would likely be a violation of child labor laws in most states, said the 1928 Meriam Report, prepared at the request of the then-Secretary of the Interior.

Focused on vocational training, the government adopted a half-time plan, with students spending half the day in academic subjects and the remaining time in work. They tended to farm animals, the report says, and worked in lumbering, on the railroad, carpentry, blacksmithing, fertilizing, irrigation system development, well-digging, making furniture including mattresses, tables and chairs, cooking, laundry, ironing services, and garment-making.

The 2022 report shows that, in 1857 at the Winnebago Manual Labor Schools in Nebraska, the girls made 550 garments for themselves and the boys attending the school, and 700 sacks for farm use. In 1903, a report from the Mescalero Boarding School in New Mexico showed the Mescalero Apache boys sawed over 70,000 feet of lumber, 40,000 shingles, and made more than 120,000 bricks.

Schools at the time said they could not afford to support operations merely on the funds provided by Congress. Students had to handle these chores to keep the places going. The report notes that this labor had a monetary value.

Paid for With Money Meant for Indians

The schools were given operation money annually, but according to the report, the federal government likely also used money held in tribal trust accounts and proceeds of the sale tribal land to run the schools.

“It is apparent that proceeds from cessions of Indian territories to the United States through treaties—which were often signed under duress—were used to fund the operation of Federal Indian boarding schools. As a result, the United States’ assimilation policy, the Federal Indian boarding school system, and the effort to acquire Indian territories are connected,” the report says.

The United States government paid missionary church groups to run the programs. It had contracts, the report says, with the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Church, the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, the Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church, the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, and the Protestant Episcopal Church.

In some cases, the missionaries were given no education or training. The government had no standards to follow or oversight over the programs, the report shows.

Schools had Grave Sites

Gravestones of American Indians at the Carlisle Indian Cemetery where children who died at the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Penn., are buried. (Library of Congress)

Most schools don’t need a cemetery, but these schools did. An initial investigation of 19 schools found over 500 student deaths.

“The intentional targeting and removal of … children to achieve the goal of forced assimilation of Indian people was both traumatic and violent,” the report says. “The department found hundreds of Indian children died throughout the Federal Indian boarding school system and it believes continued investigation will reveal the approximate number of Indian children who died at these schools to be in the thousands or tens of thousands.”

The department’s research has identified at least 53 different burial sites across the school system; some marked, others unmarked or poorly maintained.

“The deaths of Indian children while under the care of the federal government, or federally-supported institutions, led to the breakup of Indian families and the erosion of tribes,” the report says.

The department has been talking with tribal leaders to address cultural concerns regarding the burial sites, including future protection of burial sites and potential repatriation or disinterment of remains. “The department will not make public the specific locations of burial sites associated with the Federal Indian boarding school system in order to protect against well-documented grave-robbing, vandalism, and other disturbances to Indian burial sites,” the report says.

Recommendations

The report makes recommendations including funding a full investigation. Congress appropriated $7 million in new funds through fiscal year 2022, through the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The report asks to expand the investigation with continued funding for fiscal year 2023.

It also suggests identifying surviving boarding school attendees, and formally documenting their historical accounts and experiences, including studying current impacts such as health status, including substance abuse and violence.

It asks to protect details of gravesites from being made public under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, by making information exempt from Freedom of Information Act.

It also recommends the advancement of native language revitalization by funding the development of programs supporting native language revitalization in both Bureau of Indian Education funded schools, and non-BIE schools.

The report calls for the promotion of Indian health research by funding scientific studies on lasting health impacts.

And the report suggests recognizing the generations of children who experienced the Federal Indian boarding school system with a federal memorial.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 05/25/2022 – 20:20

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Consumers Face Summer Of Hell As Power Bill Costs Set To Jump 

Consumers Face Summer Of Hell As Power Bill Costs Set To Jump 

The last thing consumers want to hear is an increase in power costs this summer following the news last week of rising threats of rolling blackouts across half of the US. 

Tight supplies of natural gas, crude, and coal have pushed up residential electricity rates this year. A nationwide weather outlook for this summer forecasts extreme heat — all of this will force households to crank up their air conditions, resulting in oversized power demand that could stress national grids. 

Bloomberg cites new data from Barclays Plc that says monthly power bills could be 40% more than last year’s. The US Energy Information Administration expects retail residential electricity rates to increase the most since 2008. 

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Miami households spent 38% more on energy in April than a year ago. Power prices in the state have jumped due to the rising cost of natgas. 

“Our continued overreliance on gas only sets us up for these burdensome and unnecessary rate increases. 

“This business model is unsustainable, and it’s hurting people,” said Natalia Brown of Catalyst Miami, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. 

Besides Miami, parts of Hawaii, Dallas, Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco recorded the highest increases in retail electricity costs last month. 

Barclays analyst Srinjoy Banerjee said the average residential power bills averaged $122 in April. He pointed out that power bills could raise another $49 due to natgas prices soaring over $8 per million British thermal units. 

Consumers can’t escape the inflation storm that only suggests a summer of hell is ahead. Gasoline and diesel prices are at a record, food prices are screaming higher, homes and cars are unaffordable, and real wage growth is negative. 

Banerjee said the inflation burden “disproportionately falls on lower-income groups.” 

In California, higher costs for electricity and less reliable electric grids mean consumers will pay on average 25% more this summer, according to Cisco DeVries, chief executive officer of OhmConnect Inc., which helps households save money by remotely adjusting thermostats. 

The cost of everything is rising and has pushed consumers to the brink. Many have maxed out credit cards and drained critical savings to survive this terrible economic backdrop of what appears to be stagflation which could quickly morph into a Federal Reserve-induced recession due to aggressive interest rate hikes. 

Then there’s the risk of rolling blackouts across the Great Lakes to the West Coast due to tight power supplies may not be able to satisfy demand amid a megadrought

Some Americans could get a nasty dose of high inflation and power blackouts, similar to life in Venezuela. 

Tyler Durden
Wed, 05/25/2022 – 20:00

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Sussman Trial Day 8: Ex-Clinton Lawyer Told Different Stories To Congress And FBI, Jury Hears

Sussman Trial Day 8: Ex-Clinton Lawyer Told Different Stories To Congress And FBI, Jury Hears

Authored by John Haughey and Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A lawyer representing Hillary Clinton’s campaign told members of Congress in 2017 that he took information about Donald Trump and Russia to the FBI on behalf of a client, even though he told the bureau previously that he was bringing the data on his own volition, jurors in federal court heard on May 25.

I think it’s most accurate to say it was done on behalf of my client,” Michael Sussmann, the lawyer, told the House Intelligence Committee on Dec. 18, 2017.

Michael Sussmann arrives at federal court in Washington on May 18, 2022. (Teng Chen for The Epoch Times)

Portions of the transcript were read into the record as prosecutors with special counsel John Durham’s team wrapped up their case against Sussmann, who is on trial on the charge of lying to the FBI.

Sussmann texted James Baker, a bureau lawyer, in September 2016 asking for a meeting so he could share information, but claimed he was coming forward on his own accord, not as part of his representation of any clients.

Sussmann, with Perkins Coie, at the time was representing both the Clinton campaign and Rodney Joffe, a technology executive who has said he was promised a position in the government if Clinton won the 2016 election.

The parties colluded in gathering data and claiming that it showed a secret link between Trump and Russia’s Alfa Bank, prosecutors say. They hoped to sway the election in Clinton’s favor.

About 14 months after handing over the allegations to Baker—the FBI and the CIA both deemed the claims false—Sussmann sat before the House panel and told members that he received the Trump-Russia information from a client, whom he indicated was not the Clinton campaign. He also said he did not go to the FBI and CIA on his own volition but was directed by his client to go to the agencies and hand over the information.

“We had a conversation, as lawyers do with their clients, about client needs and objectives and the best course to take for a client. And so it may have been a decision that we came to together. I don’t want to imply that I was sort of directed to do something against my better judgment, or that we were in any sort of conflict, but this was—I think it’s most accurate to say it was done on behalf of my client,” Sussmann said before the panel.

Clinton campaign officials have testified that they did not approve of Sussmann going to the FBI. They hoped that media outlets would publish stories on the Trump-Alfa Bank claims, and feared going to the bureau would delay the articles.

Defense lawyers, meanwhile, called their first witnesses—several former Department of Justice employees, including former Associate Deputy Attorney General Tashina Gauhar.

According to notes Gauhar took at a March 6, 2017, meeting that involved top officials, there was an awareness that Sussmann brought the information for a client or clients.

Then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said during the meeting that the Trump-Alfa Bank claims came from an “attorney” who “brought [them] to [the] FBI on behalf of his client,” with the last word possibly being “clients.”

Gauhar said on the stand she did not remember the meeting but said she recognized the notes as ones she took. When pointed to the part about McCabe, Gauhar said she didn’t recall that moment.

Another former DOJ official, Mary McCord, was questioned as the defense introduced her notes, which stated that an attorney brought the allegations to Baker and that the attorney did not “say who client was.”

Baker testified earlier in the trial that Sussmann told him when their meeting first started that he was not coming on behalf of any particular client, and that he was “very confident” of the recollection. He did not take notes of the meeting.

Baker also said he could only vaguely remember the 2017 meeting, for which he was listed as a participant, and did not remember anything that was said.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 05/25/2022 – 19:40

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Stellantis CEO Warns Of Impending EV Battery Shortage As ‘Greenification’ Hits Snag 

Stellantis CEO Warns Of Impending EV Battery Shortage As ‘Greenification’ Hits Snag 

The latest sign the rapid transition to a green economy could soon hit a snag is a warning from the world’s fourth-largest carmaker about an approaching electric vehicle (EV) battery shortage. 

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares expects a shortage of EV batteries by 2024-25, according to CNBC. He then said the adoption of EVs by 2027-28 will slow due to a lack of raw materials for vehicles. 

“The speed at which we are trying to move all together for the right reason, which is fixing the global warming issue, is so high that the supply chain and the production capacities have no time to adjust,” Tavares said. 

President Biden’s ambitious target of 50% EV sale shares in the U.S. by 2030 could hit a brick wall unless domestic supply chains are strengthened and raw materials for battery-making are adequately sourced. 

Tavares said new EV regulations to phase out traditional internal combustion are too aggressive and urged lawmakers to stop moving targets for EVs forward. 

He expects a battery shortage will first emerge and then a lack of raw materials for the vehicles.

“You’ll see that the electrification path, which is a very ambitious one, in a time window that has been set by the administrations is going to bump on the supply side,” the CEO added, who runs the world’s fourth-largest carmaker, with brands such as Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, and others. 

A shortage of batteries and raw materials will drive the spread of EV-combustion average car prices even wider. The average cost of an EV is around $60k, versus $46k for all other vehicles. That’s a difference of $14k. The spread will continue to widen as battery costs increase, thus making EVs unaffordable for most people. 

And it’s not just EVs that could soon run into trouble. Greenify the nation’s power grid could result in power shortfalls across the western half of the US because grid operators have removed too much power capacity through retiring fossil fuel power plants and have yet to bring enough solar and wind to satisfy the increasing demand. This may trigger a summer of power blackouts. 

What’s deeply depressing is that elected and unelected officials forcing this green transition have taken no accountability for their actions upon mishaps. Thank the billionaires at Davos for this mess, who want the masses to own nothing, drive EVs, and eat bugs. 

Tyler Durden
Wed, 05/25/2022 – 19:20

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Hedges: No Way Out But War

Hedges: No Way Out But War

Authored by Chris Hedges via ScheerPost.com, (emphasis ours)

Permanent war has cannibalized the country. It has created a social, political, and economic morass. Each new military debacle is another nail in the coffin of Pax Americana…

Original Illustration by Mr. Fish — “No Guts No Glory”

The United States, as the near unanimous vote to provide nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine illustrates, is trapped in the death spiral of unchecked militarism. No high speed trains. No universal health care. No viable Covid relief program. No respite from 8.3 percent inflation. No infrastructure programs to repair decaying roads and bridges, which require $41.8 billion to fix the 43,586 structurally deficient bridges, on average 68 years old. No forgiveness of $1.7 trillion in student debt. No addressing income inequality. No program to feed the 17 million children who go to bed each night hungry. No rational gun control or curbing of the epidemic of nihilistic violence and mass shootings. No help for the 100,000 Americans who die each year of drug overdoses. No minimum wage of $15 an hour to counter 44 years of wage stagnation. No respite from gas prices that are projected to hit $6 a gallon.

The permanent war economy, implanted since the end of World War II, has destroyed the private economy, bankrupted the nation, and squandered trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. The monopolization of capital by the military has driven the US debt to $30 trillion, $ 6 trillion more than the US GDP of $ 24 trillion. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military, $ 813 billion for fiscal year 2023, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined.

We are paying a heavy social, political, and economic cost for our militarism. Washington watches passively as the U.S. rots, morally, politically, economically, and physically, while China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and other countries extract themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network banks and other financial institutions use to send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions. Once the U.S. dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency, once there is an alternative to SWIFT, it will precipitate an internal economic collapse. It will force the immediate contraction of the U.S. empire shuttering most of its nearly 800 overseas military installations. It will signal the death of Pax Americana.

Democrat or Republican. It does not matter. War is the raison d’état of the state. Extravagant military expenditures are justified in the name of “national security.” The nearly $40 billion allocated for Ukraine, most of it going into the hands of weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon Technologies, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, is only the beginning. Military strategists, who say the war will be long and protracted, are talking about infusions of $4 or $5 billion in military aid a month to Ukraine. We face existential threats. But these do not count. The proposed budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in fiscal year 2023 is $10.675 billion. The proposed budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is $11.881 billion. Ukraine alone gets more than double that amount. Pandemics and the climate emergency are afterthoughts. War is all that matters. This is a recipe for collective suicide.

There were three restraints to the avarice and bloodlust of the permanent war economy that no longer exist.

  • The first was the old liberal wing of the Democratic Party, led by politicians such as Senator George McGovern, Senator Eugene McCarthy, and Senator J. William Fulbright, who wrote The Pentagon Propaganda Machine. The self-identified progressives, a pitiful minority, in Congress today, from Barbara Lee, who was the single vote in the House and the Senate opposing a broad, open-ended authorization allowing the president to wage war in Afghanistan or anywhere else, to Ilhan Omar now dutifully line up to fund the latest proxy war.

  • The second restraint was an independent media and academia, including journalists such as I.F Stone and Neil Sheehan along with scholars such as Seymour Melman, author of The Permanent War Economy and Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War. 

  • Third, and perhaps most important, was an organized anti-war movement, led by religious leaders such as Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr. and Phil and Dan Berrigan as well as groups such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). They understood that unchecked militarism was a fatal disease.

None of these opposition forces, which did not reverse the permanent war economy but curbed its excesses, now exist. The two ruling parties have been bought by corporations, especially military contractors. The press is anemic and obsequious to the war industry. Propagandists for permanent war, largely from right-wing think tanks lavishly funded by the war industry, along with former military and intelligence officials, are exclusively quoted or interviewed as military experts. NBC’s “Meet the Press” aired a segment May 13 where officials from Center for a New American Security (CNAS) simulated what a war with China over Taiwan might look like. The co-founder of CNAS, Michèle Flournoy, who appeared in the “Meet the Press” war games segment and was considered by Biden to run the Pentagon, wrote in 2020 in Foreign Affairs that the U.S. needs to develop “the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours.” 

The handful of anti-militarists and critics of empire from the left, such as Noam Chomsky, and the right, such as Ron Paul, have been declared persona non grata by a compliant media. The liberal class has retreated into boutique activism where issues of class, capitalism and militarism are jettisoned for “cancel culture,” multiculturalism and identity politics. Liberals are cheerleading the war in Ukraine. At least the inception of the war with Iraq saw them join significant street protests. Ukraine is embraced as the latest crusade for freedom and democracy against the new Hitler. There is little hope, I fear, of rolling back or restraining the disasters being orchestrated on a national and global level.  The neoconservatives and liberal interventionists chant in unison for war. Biden has appointed these war mongers, whose attitude to nuclear war is terrifyingly cavalier, to run the Pentagon, the National Security Council, and the State Department.

Since all we do is war, all proposed solutions are military. This military adventurism accelerates the decline, as the defeat in Vietnam and the squandering of $8 trillion in the futile wars in the Middle East illustrate. War and sanctions, it is believed, will cripple Russia, rich in gas and natural resources. War, or the threat of war, will curb the growing economic and military clout of China.

These are demented and dangerous fantasies, perpetrated by a ruling class that has severed itself from reality. No longer able to salvage their own society and economy, they seek to destroy those of their global competitors, especially Russia and China. Once the militarists cripple Russia, the plan goes, they will focus military aggression on the Indo-Pacific, dominating what Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, referring to the Pacific, called “the American Sea.” 

You cannot talk about war without talking about markets. The U.S., whose growth rate has fallen to below 2 percent, while China’s growth rate is 8.1 percent, has turned to military aggression to bolster its sagging economy. If the U.S. can sever Russian gas supplies to Europe, it will force Europeans to buy from the United States. U.S. firms, at the same time, would be happy to replace the Chinese Communist Party, even if they must do it through the threat of war, to open unfettered access to Chinese markets. War, if it did break out with China, would devastate the Chinese, American, and global economies, destroying free trade between countries as in World War I. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Washington is desperately trying to build military and economic alliances to ward off a rising China, whose economy is expected by 2028 to overtake that of the United States, according to the UK’s Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). The White House has said Biden’s current visit to Asia is about sending a “powerful message” to Beijing and others about what the world could look like if democracies “stand together to shape the rules of the road.” The Biden administration has invited South Korea and Japan to attend the NATO summit in Madrid.

But fewer and fewer nations, even among European allies, are willing to be dominated by the United States. Washington’s veneer of democracy and supposed respect for human rights and civil liberties is so badly tarnished as to be irrecoverable. Its economic decline, with China’s manufacturing 70 percent higher than that of the U.S., is irreversible. War is a desperate Hail Mary, one employed by dying empires throughout history with catastrophic consequences. “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable,” Thucydides noted in the History of the Peloponnesian War. 

A key component to the sustenance of the permanent war state was the creation of the All-Volunteer Force. Without conscripts, the burden of fighting wars falls to the poor, the working class, and military families. This All-Volunteer Force allows the children of the middle class, who led the Vietnam anti-war movement, to avoid service. It protects the military from internal revolts, carried out by troops during the Vietnam War, which jeopardized the cohesion of the armed forces.

The All-Volunteer Force, by limiting the pool of available troops, also makes the global ambitions of the militarists impossible. Desperate to maintain or increase troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military instituted the stop-loss policy that arbitrarily extended active-duty contracts. Its slang term was the backdoor draft. The effort to bolster the number of troops by hiring private military contractors, as well, had a negligible effect. Increased troop levels would not have won the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but the tiny percentage of those willing to serve in the military (only 7 percent of the U.S. population are veterans) is an unacknowledged Achilles heel for the militarists.

“As a consequence, the problem of too much war and too few soldiers eludes serious scrutiny,” writes historian and retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich in After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World Transformed.

“Expectations of technology bridging that gap provide an excuse to avoid asking the most fundamental questions: Does the United States possess the military wherewithal to oblige adversaries to endorse its claim of being history’s indispensable nation? And if the answer is no, as the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suggest, wouldn’t it make sense for Washington to temper its ambitions accordingly?”

This question, as Bacevich points out, is “anathema.” The military strategists work from the supposition that the coming wars won’t look anything like past wars. They invest in imaginary theories of future wars that ignore the lessons of the past, ensuring more fiascos. 

The political class is as self-deluded as the generals. It refuses to accept the emergence of a multi-polar world and the palpable decline of American power. It speaks in the outdated language of American exceptionalism and triumphalism, believing it has the right to impose its will as the leader of the “free world.” In his 1992 Defense Planning Guidance memorandum, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argued that the U.S. must ensure no rival superpower again arises. The U.S. should project its military strength to dominate a unipolar world in perpetuity. On February 19, 1998, on NBC’s “Today Show”, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave the Democratic version of this doctrine of unipolarity. “If we have to use force it is because we are Americans; we are the indispensable nation,” she said. “We stand tall, and we see further than other countries into the future.”

This demented vision of unrivaled U.S. global supremacy, not to mention unrivaled goodness and virtue, blinds the establishment Republicans and Democrats. The military strikes they casually used to assert the doctrine of unipolarity, especially in the Middle East, swiftly spawned jihadist terror and prolonged warfare. None of them saw it coming until the hijacked jets slammed into the World Trade Center twin towers. That they cling to this absurd hallucination is the triumph of hope over experience.

There is a deep loathing among the public for these elitist Ivy League architects of American imperialism. Imperialism was tolerated when it was able to project power abroad and produce rising living standards at home. It was tolerated when it restrained itself to covert interventions in countries such as Iran, Guatemala, and Indonesia. It went off the rails in Vietnam. The military defeats that followed accompanied a steady decline in living standards, wage stagnation, a crumbling infrastructure and eventually a series of economic policies and trade deals, orchestrated by the same ruling class, which deindustrialized and impoverished the country.

The establishment oligarchs, now united in the Democratic Party, distrust Donald Trump. He commits the heresy of questioning the sanctity of the American empire. Trump derided the invasion of Iraq as a “big, fat mistake.” He promised “to keep us out of endless war.” Trump was repeatedly questioned about his relationship with Vladimir Putin. Putin was “a killer,” one interviewer told him. “There are a lot of killers,” Trump retorted. “You think our country’s so innocent?” Trump dared to speak a truth that was to be forever unspoken, the militarists had sold out the American people.

Noam Chomsky took some heat for pointing out, correctly, that Trump is the “one statesman” who has laid out a “sensible” proposition to resolve the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The proposed solution included “facilitating negotiations instead of undermining them and moving toward establishing some kind of accommodation in Europe…in which there are no military alliances but just mutual accommodation.”

Trump is too unfocused and mercurial to offer serious policy solutions. He did set a timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan, but he also ratcheted up the economic war against Venezuela and reinstituted crushing sanctions against Cuba and Iran, which the Obama administration had ended. He increased the military budget. He apparently flirted with carrying out a missile strike on Mexico to “destroy the drug labs.” But he acknowledges a distaste for imperial mismanagement that resonates with the public, one that has every right to loath the smug mandarins that plunge us into one war after another. Trump lies like he breathes. But so do they.

The 57 Republicans who refused to support the $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, along with many of the 19 bills that included an earlier $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine, come out of the kooky conspiratorial world of Trump. They, like Trump, repeat this heresy. They too are attacked and censored. But the longer Biden and the ruling class continue to pour resources into war at our expense, the more these proto fascists, already set to wipe out Democratic gains in the House and the Senate this fall, will be ascendant. Marjorie Taylor Greene, during the debate on the aid package to Ukraine, which most members were not given time to closely examine, said:

“$40 billion dollars but there’s no baby formula for American mothers and babies.”

“An unknown amount of money to the CIA and Ukraine supplemental bill but there’s no formula for American babies,” she added.

“Stop funding regime change and money laundering scams. A US politician covers up their crimes in countries like Ukraine.”

Democrat Jamie Raskin immediately attacked Greene for parroting the propaganda of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Greene, like Trump, spoke a truth that resonates with a beleaguered public. The opposition to permanent war should have come from the tiny progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which unfortunately sold out to the craven Democratic Party leadership to save their political careers. Greene is demented, but Raskin and the Democrats peddle their own brand of lunacy. We are going to pay a very steep price for this burlesque.

*  *  *

The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my now weekly Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 05/25/2022 – 19:00

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/eYdAOmR Tyler Durden

Is The US Already In Recession?

Is The US Already In Recession?

Do recessions lead to bear markets, or is it vice versa?

That is the question Bloomberg Markets Live commentator Ye Xie asks today, and with good reason: with the S&P having fallen about 18% from its January peak, just a hair shy of the typical bear-market definition of a 20% drawdown, everyone is talking about an imminent recession. But here Yie spots a mathematical oddity: if the S&P 500 falls into a bear market and a recession follows in coming months, that would be the first time in modern history that a bear market has foreshadowed an economic downturn.

As Xie explains his methodology, he counted 11 times when the S&P 500 fell at least 20% from previous records since 1929. (That excludes most of the periods from the 1930s and 1940s because the S&P 500 didn’t climb back to the its pre-Great Depression peak until the 1950s.)

Here are Xie’s conclusions:

  • It took (a median of) four months for markets to trough. The median peak-to-trough drawdown was 34%
  • There were three false alarms, including 1987, 1966 and 1962, when the S&P fell more than 20% without an imminent recession
  • Recessions don’t always cause a bear market. Stocks fell less than 20% during recessions in 90-‘91, 1980, ‘60-’61 and ‘53-‘54 for example
  • The punchline: Bear markets never occurred before recession started. The 20% threshold was typically hit roughly 2-3 months after the economic contraction started.

As Xie points out, the 20% threshold is of course arbitrary and yet that’s what traditionally is viewed as a bear market. Still, stocks fall more during, rather than before, an economic contraction. The bigger point is that if indeed the S&P entered a brief bear market last Friday when the S&P dipped below 3,855 and bounced immediately, then it’s safe to conclude that the US economy is already in a recession, unless this time is different. But we doubt it: after all just a few hours earlier the Atlanta Fed announced that its GDPNowcast tracker for Q2 GDP dropped from 2.4% to 1.8%.

And with Q1 already negative, it means we are just 1.8% away from a full-blown technical recession.

Tyler Durden
Wed, 05/25/2022 – 18:40

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They’re Worried About The Spread Of Information, Not Disinformation

They’re Worried About The Spread Of Information, Not Disinformation

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

We’re in the final countdown to British Home Secretary Priti Patel’s decision on the fate of Julian Assange, with the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition to the United States due to be approved or rejected by the end of the month. Joe Lauria has a new article out with Consortium News on the various pressures that Patel is being faced with from both sides of this history-making issue at this crucial time.

And I can’t stop thinking, as this situation comes to a boil, about how absurd it is that the US empire is working to set a precedent which essentially outlaws information-sharing that the US doesn’t like at the same time western news media are full of hand-wringing headlines about the dangerous threat of “disinformation”.

Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) has an article out titled “‘Disinformation’ Label Serves to Marginalize Crucial Ukraine Facts” about the way the mass media have been spinning that label to mean not merely the knowing distribution of false information but also of information that is true but inconvenient to imperial narrative-weaving.

“In defense of the US narrative, corporate media have increasingly taken to branding realities inconvenient to US information goals as ‘disinformation’ spread by Russia or its proxies,” writes FAIR’s Luca Goldmansour.

Online platforms have been ramping up their censorship protocols under the banner of fighting disinformation and misinformation, and those escalations always align with narrative control agendas of the US-centralized empire. Just the other day we learned that Twitter has a new policy which expands its censorship practices to fight “misinformation” about wars and other crises, and the Ukraine war (surprise surprise) will be the first such situation about which it will be enforcing these new censorship policies.

Then there’s the recent controversy over the Department of Homeland Security’s “Disinformation Governance Board,” a mysterious institution ostensibly designed to protect the American people from wrongthink coming from Russia and elsewhere. The board’s operations (whatever they were) have been “paused” pending a review which will be led by Michael Chertoff, a virulent swamp monster and torture advocate. Its operations will likely be resumed in one form or another, probably under the leadership of someone with a low profile who doesn’t sing show tunes about disinformation.

And this all comes out after US officials straight up told the press that the Biden administration has been deliberately sowing disinformation to the public using the mainstream press in order to win an infowar against the Kremlin. They’ve literally just been circulating completely baseless stories about Russia and Ukraine, but nobody seems to be calling for the social media accounts of Biden administration officials to be banned.

You see so many discrepancies between what the oligarchic empire says and what it actually does regarding the issue of disinformation because the empire has no problem with disinformation.

The empire that is built on propaganda and lies has no problem with propaganda and lies. It has a problem with the truth.

They’re not worried about disinformation, they’re worried about information. They’re worried about journalists using the unprecedented information-sharing power of the internet to reveal inconvenient facts about the largest and most murderous power structure on earth. They’re worried about people finding out that they’ve been lied to their entire lives about their world, their nation and their government. They’re worried about people using their newly connected minds to decide together that they don’t much like the status quo as it’s been laid out for them, and deciding to build a new one.

All the safeguards they’re setting up now to manipulate the flow of information online are not there to eliminate lies, they’re there to eliminate truth. These people have a vested interest in keeping things dark and confused, and we the ordinary people of the world have a vested interest in shining a big inconvenient spotlight on everything. The elite agenda to keep things endarkened is at direct odds with the people’s agenda to get things enlightened.

We are not being protected by a compassionate alliance of corporations and governments who only want us to know the truth, we are being manipulated and oppressed by an oligarchic empire that wants us to believe lies. That’s why they’re locking up Assange, that’s why they’re censoring the internet, that’s why they’re filling our minds with propaganda, and that’s why we can’t let them win.

*  *  *

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my American husband Tim Foley.

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Tyler Durden
Wed, 05/25/2022 – 18:20

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/tS0qfbL Tyler Durden