Assange Put On Suicide Watch After Patel Decision, Family Says

Assange Put On Suicide Watch After Patel Decision, Family Says

Authored by Joe Lauria via Consortium News,

After British Home Secretary Priti Patel signed Julian Assange’s extradition order last week the authorities in Belmarsh prison stripped Julian Assange and threw him into a completely empty cell in an attempt to prevent his suicide, Assange’s father has said. 

It was just one more instance in which the prison humiliated his son, Shipton told a rally on Tuesday night at the offices of the junge Welt newspaper in Berlin. About 300 people attended, with an overflow crowd watching on close circuit TV in the courtyard. 

“The ceaseless malice that has descended upon Julian, a deluge of malice, the strip-searching of Julian… this is the latest humiliation,” Shipton said. “The staff of the jail, their concern after hearing he has to be extradited to the United States, thought he may commit suicide. Their solution was to strip him naked, and put him in a bare cell.”

John and Gabriel Shipton at Berlin rally. Image source: Joe Lauria

Testimony was heard from expert defense witnesses during Assange’s extradition hearing that he might try to end his life in prison once he learned he was going to the United States. 

It is not the end of the road for Assange legally, however. His lawyers have until July 1 to file for an appeal of Patel’s decision to the High Court. They also intend to apply for a cross appeal of issues such as the political nature of the charges, the threat to free speech and the reported CIA plot to kidnap or kill Assange before his arrest.

Shipton and Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, are in Berlin to lobby the German government to put pressure on the United States to drop the case against Assange.

On Monday, the Shiptons met with Tobias Lindner, the minister of state, at the German foreign ministry. “It was a practical and appropriate step for Tobias to take, to welcome Julian Assange’s father and bother into the foreign ministry,” John Shipton said. “The invitation in itself and the meeting in the foreign ministry indicates that the German government is sincere in bringing about the freedom of Julian Assange.”

But Shipton said he would like to hear a public statement from Germany in support of his son. “We’d like Tobias to confirm what he’s said.”

A German government spokesman on Monday said however that Germany was unlikely to intervene with either the UK or the US: “This is a legal process that is already in motion, so I would be a little wary of political intervention,” he said, the French Press Agency (AFP) reported.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/24/2022 – 19:40

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These Are The World’s Angriest Countries

These Are The World’s Angriest Countries

Nearly everybody experiences anger in everyday life, whether it’s frustrations about making ends meet, the state of public transport or a misunderstanding at work. Gallup’s 2021 Global Emotions Report set out to gauge emotions (including anger levels) in more than 100 countries around the globe.

 

As Statista’s Katharina Buchholz notes, anger tends to manifest itself more often in certain parts of the world, particularly in the Middle and Near East.

Infographic: The World's Angriest Countries | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Gallup found that 49 percent of people in Lebanon had experienced anger on the day before they were surveyed, the highest rate recorded anywhere in the world. After years-long economic turmoil and high inflation, a massive explosion in Beirut’s port destroyed large parts of the city in 2020, once more stoking anger at the country’s government for not enforcing safety measure or having the capacity to help those who were harmed.

High levels of anger were also measured in Turkey, which had been dealing with runaway inflation even before the war in Ukraine and whose government has taken a turn for the authoritarian lately. Armenians, who experienced a flare-up of war in 2020 with neighbor Azerbaijan, also had elevated levels of anger. After years of war, Iraqis and Afghans also have a long list of topics to be angry about which includes a lack of basic public services in many parts of the countries.

Mali and Sierra Leone were the angriest countries outside the Middle East, Near East and Persia, with 35 percent of respondents having experienced anger the previous day.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/24/2022 – 19:20

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Giant Sunspot Currently Facing Earth And Still Growing Capable Of Emitting Powerful Solar Flares

Giant Sunspot Currently Facing Earth And Still Growing Capable Of Emitting Powerful Solar Flares

Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times,

A fast-growing giant sunspot that can emit solar flares has more than doubled in size in recent days and is currently facing Earth, according to experts.

Sunspots are dark areas of strong magnetic fields on the sun’s surface. They appear dark because they are much colder than other parts of the sun’s surface, having formed at areas where magnetic fields are particularly strong, according to NASA.

Because of the strong magnetic field, magnetic pressure increases while the surrounding atmospheric pressure decreases, resulting in the lower temperatures.

Sunspots are also associated with eruptive disturbances such as solar flares, which are fast moving eruptions of radiation, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which is when large masses of plasma and highly magnetized particles violently eject from the sun. Flares move at the speed of light and take about eight minutes to reach earth, while CMEs can take three to four days to reach earth.

The fast-growing sunspot noted by experts is known as AR3038.

“Yesterday, sunspot AR3038 was big. Today, it’s enormous,” Tony Phillips, the author of SpaceWeather.com wrote on Wednesday.

“The fast-growing sunspot has doubled in size in only 24 hours,” Phillips added.

The expert noted that the magnetic field surrounding AR3038 could potentially blast M-class solar flares, or medium-sized flares, towards Earth.

Photos from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory taken on June 22 show the sun with numerous sunspots, with AR3038 looking particularly big after evolving over the past few days.

The sunspot has doubled in size each day for the past three days and is roughly 2.5 times the size of Earth, C. Alex Young, associate director for science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in an email to USA Today.

‘No Cause for Concern’

However, Rob Steenburgh, the acting lead of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Forecast Office has said there is no need to panic, noting that sunspots naturally grow in size.

“This is what sunspots do,” he told USA Today. “Over time, generally, they’ll grow. They go through stages, and then they decay.”

Young also noted that while the sunspot is producing flares, it “does not have the complexity for the largest flares” and there is only a 30 percent chance that it will create medium-sized flares. The chances it will create large flares are even smaller at 10 percent, the expert said.

W. Dean Pesnell, the project scientist of the Solar Dynamics Observatory, also offered reassurance that there is no need for concern, telling the publication that AR3038 is a “modest-sized active region” that “has not grown abnormally rapidly and is still somewhat small in area.”

As of June 22, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), which monitors solar flares, has not issued any warnings for them.

However, if solar flares such as an X1-class solar flare are released from the sun, they can potentially create disruptions to communication satellites and long-distance cables here on earth, wreaking havoc with the world’s internet.

Another expert, Andrés Muñoz-Jaramillo, lead scientist at the SouthWest Research Institute in San Antonio, also stressed that there is no need for concern, explaining: “I want to emphasize there is no need to panic,” and that the sunspots “happen all the time.”

“We are prepared and doing everything we can to predict and mitigate their effects. For the majority of us, we don’t need to lose sleep over it,” Muñoz-Jaramillo said.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/24/2022 – 19:00

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Roadway Congestion Returns To China, Signals Tighter Global Oil Supplies 

Roadway Congestion Returns To China, Signals Tighter Global Oil Supplies 

A surge in road traffic has been seen in China after two of the largest cities reopened following two months of lockdowns and restrictions, indicating the economy could be restarting and refined crude product demand is rising. 

BloombergNEF examined Baidu traffic data and found Beijing and Shanghai roadway congestion jumped once travel restrictions under the zero-tolerance strategy to combat infections eased in early June. 

The return of the two most important cities sent an index monitoring congestion of 15 Chinese cities with the highest vehicle registration above a January 2021 baseline.

The reopening of China comes as COVID infections in Shanghai and the rest of mainland China have dramatically receded after spiking in March, peaking in April, and moving lower through May. 

As China eases COVID restrictions in top cities and congestion data soars, it’ll boost demand for crude and refined products.

Dai Jiaquan, a director at the oil research department at CNPC, recently said a roadway recovery could boost demand by 1.6 million barrels a day on a quarterly basis from July to September. This comes as the US summer driving season is well underway, and North America, as well as much of the world, is structurally short refined products, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, mainly because of refinery capacity woes

Vitol Group Chief Executive Officer Russell Hardy told the audience Tuesday at the Qatar Economic Forum that China’s increasing fuel demand in an already tight global market means prices won’t drop that much. 

“The market’s a little bit concerned that we’re running out of spare capacity and is beginning to factor that into prices,” Hardy said. 

He continued: “It depends on lockdowns, but we’d expect it to steadily come back through the second half of the year.” 

Hardy’s similarly bullish message was echoed by Exxon Mobil CEO who said this week that global oil markets may remain tight for another three to five years largely because of a lack of investment since the pandemic began.

So +$100/bbl Brent oil is the new normal?

Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/24/2022 – 18:40

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2 Dozen States To Restrict Abortions After Supreme Court Decision

2 Dozen States To Restrict Abortions After Supreme Court Decision

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times,

More than two dozen states will move to restrict abortions following the Supreme Court’s Friday ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The Guttmacher Institute, a research group, says that 13 states have “trigger laws” that bar most abortions that will take effect immediately after the ruling Friday.

They are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Five more states had respective bans on abortion from the time before the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.

They include Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina, according to the Institute, have laws that ban abortions after the 6-week mark. Those laws will be revisited after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Meanwhile, the legislatures of Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Nebraska appear likely to ban abortion based on previous and current efforts, the group says.

Overall, 26 of 50 U.S. states are likely or certain to ban abortion after the ruling was handed down Friday, the Institute says.

“Beyond the 26 states certain or likely to attempt to ban abortion immediately, other states have demonstrated hostility toward abortion by adopting multiple restrictions in the past, but are not likely to ban abortion in the near future. Notably, North Carolina has a pre-Roe abortion ban in place, but it is unclear if the state’s law would be implemented quickly. However, this analysis may change in the next few years,” according to the institute’s website.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion group, estimates that 25 states are likely to ban abortion. That group believes that Montana, Iowa, and Florida will not—but that North Carolina and Pennsylvania will.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, in an opinion for the majority Friday, wrote that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed Roe, was incorrect on the day it was decided and must be overturned. The authority to regulate abortion doesn’t rest in the court system, he argued, adding that only legislatures have that power.

“We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined Alito. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that he would have stopped short in ending Roe, adding that he would have upheld the Mississippi law at the heart of the case.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

“With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent,” they said in their opinion.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/24/2022 – 18:20

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AIPAC Lobbies Against Probe Of US-Palestinian Journalist Likely Murdered By Israeli Sniper

AIPAC Lobbies Against Probe Of US-Palestinian Journalist Likely Murdered By Israeli Sniper

Twenty-four U.S. senators sent a letter to President Biden on Thursday urging an FBI and State Department investigation of the May 11 killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank. They did so in defiance of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which actively lobbied against the letter. 

Abu Akleh, a star reporter for al Jazeera, was shot in the head on May 11 in the West Bank town of Jenin, as she and her crew reported on an Israeli raid on a refugee camp. The Al Jazeera crew and other witnesses said Israeli forces were responsible, but the Israeli government raced to blame “Palestinian terrorists firing indiscriminately,” tweeting a video that purported to support the claim. 

However, demonstrating a sharply heightened capacity for honest reporting about Israel when Israel’s victim happens to be a journalist, several major U.S. media outlets have investigated the incident and concluded Abu Akleh was most likely killed by Israeli security forces.   

CNN was particularly forceful, saying its multifaceted forensic investigation concluded that Abu Akleh was “shot dead in a targeted attack by Israeli forces.” In addition to video and acoustic evidence, the tight shot group on the tree she was standing next to was indicative of careful and deliberate fire, an expert told CNN. Abu Akleh and her crew were all wearing helmets and vests marked “PRESS.” 

  • Associated Press said its reconstruction of the incident “lends support to assertions from both Palestinian authorities and Abu Akleh’s colleagues that the bullet that cut her down came from an Israeli gun.”

  • The Washington Post said its examination of several dozen videos, social media posts and photos of the event, along with two physical inspections of the area and two independent expert acoustic analyses of the gunshots, “suggests an Israeli soldier…likely shot and killed Abu Akleh.”

  • Late to the party and lukewarm in language, the New York Times on Monday said the bullet that struck Abu Akleh “was fired from the approximate position of an Israeli military vehicle.”

According to Reporters Without Borders, Israel has killed at least 30 journalists since 2000, including two Palestinians shot by IDF snipers while reporting on protests near the Gaza-Israel border in 2018.

Israel has demanded that the Palestinian Authority turn over the bullet that killed Abu Akleh. The Palestinian Authority says it will only furnish the bullet to an outside third party or United Nations investigation. 

In their Thursday letter to Biden calling for a State Department and FBI investigation, 24 Democratic and independent senators wrote: 

“We believe that, as a leader in the effort to protect the freedom of the press and the safety of journalists, and given the fact that Ms. Abu Akleh was an American citizen, the U.S. government has an obligation to ensure that a comprehensive, impartial, and open investigation into her shooting death is conducted — one in which all parties can have full confidence in the ultimate findings.”

On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price deflected calls for an FBI probe, saying the Biden administration instead wants Israel and the Palestinian Authority to share evidence and “bridge” their investigations. Pressed on Israel’s capacity to pursue an honest investigation, Price said, “Israel does have the wherewithal to conduct an investigation that is transparent, that is impartial, and that – importantly – culminates in accountability.”

The Senate letter follows a similar one last month signed by 57 House members. The senators said the need for “an independent investigation under U.S. auspices to determine the truth…has been made even more urgent by the new information that has emerged in recent weeks.”

AIPAC, which on Thursday thanked the House appropriations committee for approving another $3.3 billion in “security assistance” to Israel, urged senators not to sign the letter. In its messaging to legislators, AIPAC said “the circumstances surrounding the death of Ms. Abu Akleh remain unclear despite the hasty conclusions of various media outlets.”  

The moderate pro-Israel lobby organization J Street—which calls itself “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace” and seeks to supplant AIPAC as the most influential pro-Israel force among Democrats—issued a statement on Thursday endorsing the drive for a U.S. investigation. 

Earlier, J Street senior vice president Dylan Williams took to Twitter to condemn AIPAC’s maneuvering:

It’s almost as if Williams is accusing AIPAC of putting loyalty to Israel ahead of loyalty to America. (Don’t try that at home, kids.)  

 

Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/24/2022 – 18:00

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The Post-Roe World: A Reality Check On The Implications Of The Supreme Court Opinion

The Post-Roe World: A Reality Check On The Implications Of The Supreme Court Opinion

Many claims are now being made about the post-Roe world and the sweeping away of such rights as interracial marriage and the use of contraceptives. The “parade of horribles” seems to get longer by the hour.

Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley took to Twitter to explain what exactly a post-Roe world looks like (and what it doesn’t):

“Once again, those claiming that Dobbs will undo ruling on contraception or marriage are ignoring the express language of the ruling and that fact that these other rights are supported by other constitutional rights/arguments”

He went on to note that…

Five of the six justices in the majority expressly and (repeatedly) stated  that the opinion is not explicable to those rights and is facially distinguishable from their rationale.

Only Thomas raised the broader application…”

It is rare to see the level of repetition and clarity on this point of application to other areas. The majority stated that such comparisons are baseless since “abortion is fundamentally different, as both Roe and Casey acknowledged.”

“The justices specifically chastise those who are pushing this claim as part of an effort “designed to stoke unfounded fear that our decision will imperil those other rights.”

“Obviously, future courts can hold different views, but these justices could not be more clear that they view this opinion is inapplicable to these other rights.

Turley wrote a detailed brief on the various ‘parade of horribles’ when the leaked transcript first dropped:

The New Yorker magazine ran a cover in 1976 showing the view of the country from 9th Avenue. The map by Saul Steinberg showed civilization largely ending at the New Jersey border with a vast wasteland between New York and the Pacific Ocean.

It appears that, for some people, not much has changed with that view of America.

Recently the editors of the New York Times seriously warned that some states likely would outlaw interracial marriage if Roe v. Wade is overturned: “Imagine that every state were free to choose whether to allow Black people and white people to marry. Some states would permit such marriages; others probably wouldn’t.”

It is hard to imagine because it is utterly untrue. Nothing in the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization supports such a dire prediction. To the contrary, the draft expressly states that “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” Indeed, such a motive might come as something of a surprise to Justice Clarence Thomas, given his own interracial marriage, or to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, given her own interracial family.

The purpose of the Times’ commentary seems to be to inflame rather than inform readers. And that is consistent with the position of politicians and pundits who raised alarms, even before the leak, over the need to reignite anger among voters to avoid a disaster in the midterm election. On MSNBC, for example, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) agreed with John Heilemann that Democrats must “scare the crap out of [voters] and get them to come out.”

The Times editorial is part of a “parade of horribles” that is becoming increasingly grotesque in its exaggerated claims. MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and former Clinton Attorney General Eric Holder had a preposterous discussion of how if Roe goes down, Brown v. Board of Education could be next. MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” host Joy Reid falsely told her audience that the decision “could apply to almost anything” in not just prohibiting interracial marriage but overturning the Brown decision.

An apocalyptic post-Roe hellscape can be a motivating image, but only to the extent that it is credible. The problem is that the claims are detached from both legal and political realities. Consider three of these claims on interracial marriage, contraception and same-sex marriage:

Interracial marriage

With polls showing that 94 percent of Americans support interracial marriage, the Times editors do not bother to name the states that are largely composed of the remaining 6 percent.

The claim is even less credible legally than it is politically. The leading case on interracial marriage, Loving v. Virginia, was based on different constitutional grounds and would not be negated by this opinion. While the court did discuss the due process right to marriage, it was primarily handed down on equal protection grounds due to the inherent racial classification. Then-Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote: “The clear and central purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to eliminate all official state sources of invidious racial discrimination in the States … There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.”

None of that, however, deters some pundits from keeping alive the fear that interracial marriages soon could be criminalized. As ABC’s late-night host Jimmy Kimmel declared, “They’ll come for same-sex marriage, they’ll come for interracial marriage, they’ll outlaw that peanut butter that comes with the jelly in the same jar.”

It might be a good comedic line — but this and similar claims make no constitutional sense. There is no reason to believe that interracial marriages would be banned in a post-Roe world.

Contraception

The cries of alarm include other areas expressly addressed in the draft opinion as not impacted by its analysis. For example, many critics claim that contraception could soon be outlawed even though the court’s draft specifically dismisses such claims: “Roe’s defenders characterize the abortion right as similar to the rights recognized in past decisions involving matters such as intimate sexual relations, contraception, and marriage, but abortion is fundamentally different, as both Roe and Casey acknowledged.”

It is true that some activists have sought to outlaw IUDs and Plan B prescriptions as “abortion-inducing.” However, putting aside that the draft opinion expressly distinguishes the contraception cases, there is no basis for suggesting that the court would eradicate any semblance of personal privacy and intimacy protections under the Constitution. Such sweeping transformation of the private lives of Americans would involve curtailing a host of other rights, including equal protection. Moreover, there would be considerable practical barriers to such bans in preventing interstate availability of contraceptives.

The polling on this issue is even more lopsided. While the public remains supportive of limits on abortion, some 83 percent support to the availability of contraceptives. Only 6 percent favor making contraception illegal.

Same-sex marriage

In 2015, the court voted 5-4 to strike down bans on same-sex marriage. The court’s specific foundation for this right has continued to be mired in controversy. Even some of us who had long supported same-sex marriage raised concerns at the time over the reliance of Justice Anthony Kennedy in his decision on a “right to dignity.”

Once again, however, the court in this draft opinion distinguishes abortion from other areas as involving claims of an “unborn human life.” Nothing in this opinion endorses a ban on same-sex unions.

However, even before this draft opinion was leaked, there were calls for a better-articulated foundation than the one laid out in Obergefell v. Hodges. As with interracial marriage, many of us have argued for an equal-protection foundation for the right.

Putting this aside, the politics on this issue has changed dramatically in the last decade. Polls show that 70 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage.

Roe is not the basis for all of these rights, and its basis has long been debated. Nevertheless, columnist Maureen Dowd has declared that the “antediluvian draft opinion is the Puritans’ greatest victory since they expelled Roger Williams from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.”

Such claims, however, ignore that the basis for the original decision was questioned even by liberals. Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe wrote that “one of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.” At least some of the court’s justices clearly hold many of the same doubts over the basis for Roe in the Constitution.

There is ample cause for pro-abortion advocates to organize over the loss of Roe. However, those claims are only undermined by a parade of horribles that leaves both the case law and credibility behind.

A cynic might wonder if Democratic leaders in Congress truly want to preserve the status quo of Roe. After all, their recent proposed codification of Roe went beyond the draft decision, which the leadership knew would lose critical votes in the Senate – but which may provide what they hope will be a powerful rallying cry for the midterm elections.

And finally, no, the justices didn’t  commit perjury during their confirmation hearings:

Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/24/2022 – 17:40

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Goldman Raising $2 Billion To Buy Distressed Celsius Assets

Goldman Raising $2 Billion To Buy Distressed Celsius Assets

Wall Street is officially entering the distressed crypto business.

One week after DeFi shadow bank Celsius halted redemptions in an attempt to prevent an all too TradFi bank run, in the process sparking a historic rout across cryptocurrencies sending bitcoin as low as $18,000 as cubic zirconium hand HODLers turned to FODLers, it now appears that Goldman is aggressively seeking to muscle its way into the crypto industry and according to CoinDesk, Goldman is raising $2 billion from investors to buy up distressed assets from the crypto lender.

The proposed deal would allow Goldman and its investors to buy Celsius assets at significant big discounts in the event of a bankruptcy filing, a bankruptcy which appears almost assured after Celsius hired restructuring advisory firm Alvarez & Marsal, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday afternoon.

According to the report, Goldman Sachs appears to be gauging interest and soliciting commitments from Web3 crypto funds, funds specializing in distressed assets and traditional financial institutions with ample cash on hand; and in light of the aggressive bail out by the like of cash-rich industry participants such as FTX, coupled with the recent stabilization in the price of cryptos, we anticipate Goldman won’t have too much difficult

As a reminder, on June 12, Celsius, which had more than $8 billion loaned out to clients and $12 billion in assets under management as of May of this year, abruptly announced it would stop withdrawals from its platform, citing “extreme market conditions.” The disclosure exacerbated those conditions, briefly sending bitcoin’s price below $20,000 (it has since bounced 20% from its cycle lows).

In addition to hiring A&M, Celsius has tapped restructuring attorneys from law firm Akin Gump the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. Global investment bank Citigroup has also been enlisted by Celsius to advise on possible solutions, including an assessment of an offer from rival crypto lender Nexo, The Block reported.

According to CoinDesk, both Citigroup and Akin Gump have recommended that Celsius file for bankruptcy, which would make Goldman’s potential stalking horse bid a reality. Then again, Goldman’s involvement and effective takeover of Celsius may explain the recent surge in the Celsius token.

And yes, those saying that Wall Street’s creeping penetration of the crypto space will further dilute its libertarian purity, are probably right although one can make that argument when virtually every VC decided to go all in on eth3. And yes, while Goldman becoming a major player in the DeFi space will anger some, the fact that the world’s most powerful bank implicitly backstops the crypto space will be just what the bitcoin and ether dip buyers want.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/24/2022 – 17:20

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Daily Briefing: Stocks Rally To Close a Strong Week

Daily Briefing: Stocks Rally To Close a Strong Week

All three major U.S. equity indexes were up more than 2% heading into Friday’s close, even as the University of Michigan’s reading of consumer sentiment hit a record low in June. As its inflation-fighting efforts threaten growth, the Federal Reserve released results of its periodic “stress tests” showing that all subject banks passed. “Bear in mind,” tweeted Jim Bianco, “the Fed does NOT test for a massive policy error leading to soaring interest rates and huge losses. In other words, these tests, created and conducted by the Fed, assume the Fed never makes a mistake.” Bianco, the founder and president of Bianco Research, joins Real Vision’s Maggie Lake to talk about markets, the economy, inflation, and the Federal Reserve. We also hear from Eric Johnston about the market’s perception of the U.S. central bank and its ability to meet its own targets. Want to submit questions? Drop them right here on the Exchange: https://rvtv.io/3yirRmq. Watch the full conversation featuring Eric Johnston and Andreas Steno Larsen here: https://rvtv.io/3bpLTT0.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/24/2022 – 14:23

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Choose Your White Paper Wisely: Bitcoin Versus Credit

Choose Your White Paper Wisely: Bitcoin Versus Credit

Authored by Conor Chepenik via BitcoinMagazine.com,

There exists two monetary paradigms now, and everyone has the opportunity to inform themselves about both – Bitcoin and credit.

Humans are derivatives of other humans. Initially, we learn how to act based on our parents’ behavior and as we get older we develop critical thinking skills and parrot the talking points of others that resonate with us. That is why choosing what you fill your mind with has never been more important. As humanity continues down the information technology revolution we need people focused on building new systems that prioritize love, liberty, freedom and fairness. I worry that our current system is filled with people trying to impose top-down controls or figuring out how to go viral.

But blaming people for wanting to go viral is a lousy argument.

“Show me the incentives and I’ll show you the outcome.”

– Charlie Munger.

Some people with large online followings provide legitimate value, but the majority post half-truths in an effort to make their followers trust them. Not many influencers showcase their struggles because nobody wants to buy a product from someone who is miserable. Influencers need to sell the idea that you can have a life like theirs if you buy their course, product or whatever else they might be peddling. It takes a lot of curating to fill a social media feed with people who provide real value. If you don’t put in this time up front, your feed will be filled with products that are like altcoins: cheap knock-offs. Munger might be wrong about Bitcoin, but he was spot-on about incentives. Social media companies want to keep people scrolling on their platforms so they can monetize our attention. Thus, when you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, the majority say a social media celebrity rather than a scientist, firefighter, astronaut, engineer or any other profession that benefits society.

So when did everything become so perverse that children are more eager to show off their life online rather than do a job that benefits society? It is impossible to pin this to an exact moment, but I’d argue it all started when the Bank of England decided to monopolize credit to fund their war efforts. This type of top-down control was the first form of quantitative easing and the inception of the credit-based fiat system, or “The Original Sin” as Saifedean Ammous calls it. Credit is never as good as gold, but when a bank acts like its credit is, the result is devastating. The incentives that came out of this have made the fiat system a truly sinister one. This quote from Ammous on The Lex Fridman Podcast is a perfect example of what happens when the entity with the biggest stick starts asking for value without returning the favor:

“I call it the fiat white paper — you know in Bitcoin we have the white paper — the fiat white paper was that the Bank of England announced to all of its banks and post offices: from now on, you should not make payment in gold, and you should take payment in gold, and you should encourage all of your customers to turn in all of their gold and give them paper instead.”

Unlike gold, credit doesn’t require proof of work. As Saifedean so elegantly points out in “The Fiat Standard,” one of the first bond sales for WWI issued by the Bank of England raised less than one-third of the bonds being subscribed. Rather than stopping the war the Bank of England gave their two top officials a line of credit and had them buy the remaining two-thirds of the bonds. Rather than provide actual value, the Bank used its monopoly on money to fund itself and continue fighting a war that its citizens clearly did not have an appetite for. This type of top-down control has had lasting impacts and has resulted in a lot of parasites gaining wealth without providing value.

As most people reading this publication know, another white paper was released in 2008 that cut out parasitic middlemen. A white paper that described a system not based on credit, but instead required providing value in the form of energy in order to obtain this new currency. This system required no third parties and allowed people to trade in a peer-to-peer fashion without a middleman butting in to take a cut. The incentives of this network called Bitcoin are so beautifully aligned that the longer the network exists, the more secure it becomes. It’s a truly incredible feat of engineering that has the power to completely undermine the current system of parasites and credit expansion. The fiat system has given rise to pointless wars and made saving and investing nearly inseparable. Satoshi Nakamoto gave the world inflation-proof money with some open-source software.

Under a Bitcoin standard, it would be very difficult to make money without providing real value. If you take away the incentives of aligning yourself next to powerful government officials, the world would be a better place. There will be no more backroom handshakes because no matter how much power or wealth one acquires one cannot change the rules of the Bitcoin network. Many will have to make a choice in the coming years about how they want to store their value. One system mines new currency via credit expansion while the other requires hardware and energy to do so. One system lets parasites thrive while the other just has rules that cannot be changed.

Even those who are lucky enough to reside in a wealthy nation still see their purchasing power destroyed in slow motion via inflation. If bitcoin is not adopted globally, humanity could end up in a never-ending cycle of war since the only foreseeable way to keep the fiat system propped up is through constant growth. Constant growth is not always attainable and fiscal stimulus is like crack: The first hit is fantastic, but then you need more to experience the same result. When everything starts to unwind and the system looks unstable the logical conclusion under a fiat standard seems to be to start a war. Fiat corrupts people over time. It’s not a gradual corruption, but it’s a slow and steady one, like the decline of the dollar. Fiat is so corrupting that House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, declared the United States is at war with Russia. There was no vote of Congress to declare war. It seems that when you have been in the fiat system for so long, you forget that other people expect you to play by the rules. I found this to be a perfect example of what a corrupt system does to those in it.

Bitcoin does the opposite to people. Recently, I found out my girlfriend was pregnant. The first thought that popped into my head upon hearing this was “Thank god for Bitcoin.” I know this sounds insane, but if there was no way to opt out of the rotting fiat system I would be horrified to bring life into this world. The second thought that popped into my head was “Wow I’m really going to be a Dad, I can’t wait to give my child a good life and raise them to be a good person.” Bitcoin taught me that low-time-preference activities are what lead to a fulfilling life. As far as I can tell there is nothing more low time preference than having children. There is a ton of uncertainty in the world and the only thing that seems to be guaranteed is Bitcoin adding blocks roughly every 10 minutes. Had it not been for bitcoin, I would not have felt comfortable in the decision to become a father. I’m not a math expert but I can tell that 30 trillion dollars of debt is so much money that even servicing the interest payment will be a massive challenge. Paying off the principal is starting to seem like a pipe dream as governments continue to run deficits and spend money they don’t have. When you really dig into the math it seems apparent why the House Majority leader is calling for war. They want a way to refinance their debt! Screw public opinion or the thousands of problems the United States has in its own country, politicians want war with Russia. War is not the answer to the United States’ problems, and it is more important than ever to adopt a system that doesn’t always lead back to war.

The incentives to go to war under the fiat system are powerful right now. Rand Paul was ostracized for delaying a $40 billion package, money we don’t currently have without borrowing, to Ukraine. According to NBC News, “Paul, a libertarian who often opposes U.S. intervention abroad, said he wanted language inserted into the bill, without a vote, that would have an inspector general scrutinize the new spending.” The reader can decide why the U.S. government would be so against letting an inspector general monitor where the money goes. My guess is because it is a lot harder to launder money when someone is overseeing how it gets spent. The more our government pushes for war instead of diplomacy, the more it becomes clear the game is rigged. You don’t usually see Republicans and Democrats on the same page, but there was a big bipartisan push to give Ukraine $40 billion, and the bill got pushed through despite Paul’s effort to get some oversight into how the funds will be spent. Imagine playing a football game and right after your team scored the winning touchdown the referee decided to change the rules of the game, which results in your team losing. Now imagine doing the right thing your whole life — saving, paying taxes, helping out the local community — and right before retirement, the government prints trillions of dollars and changes the game. At first, this might seem great as your assets skyrocket. When reality sets in shortly thereafter and inflation decimates people’s purchasing power, things get ugly. I’ve personally witnessed fiat make people bitter, resentful and perilous. I’ve also witnessed myself and others become more patient, loving and happy as a result of bitcoin. Bitcoin is what made me comfortable in becoming a father, effectively saving the life of my unborn child — and I imagine it can save the lives of many others.

There is no pleasure in watching those who do the right things get upset because the system that promised them a better life ended up decimating their purchasing power. It’s not easy to tie the second- and third-order consequences of printing money back to quantitative easing but it is clear that as money is devalued everyone suffers in the long run.

Image source: FourWeekMBA

On the other hand, the borrower has to work his whole life to get enough money to back pay the loan plus interest. It makes no sense why the bank gets to lend money without an opportunity cost but the borrower has to face many opportunity costs in order to acquire the same type of money. The fiat white paper will have you leveraged up to the teeth trying to afford basic necessities like a home or a car. Keynesian economics has led us to the point that you can even finance a 15$ pizza now. It is a tragedy that inflation has decimated people’s purchasing power, but financing food is not the way to solve the problem. Luckily, there is another white paper that doesn’t lead to everything becoming financialized.

The Bitcoin white paper will help you sleep at night knowing new coins will only be given to those who followed the rules. One system can create an infinite amount of money while the other is capped at 21 million. Pick your white paper wisely: your life’s value depends on it. For those not living in a Western society, I imagine I don’t have to explain the unjustness of our current system. The U.S has been exporting our inflation globally for quite some time now and we are reaching a point where it has gotten so bad even people in the United States are starting to feel the inflation. Ignorance might be bliss in some situations but once you see how broken the fiat system has become it is clear that we need a new one. It is never too late to opt out. The masses hold the power; most just don’t realize it.

Ultimately, I have no problem with lending money. The problem is lending money when you don’t have to sacrifice anything to get that money in the first place. It cannot be understated how the ability to issue money at will, without an opportunity cost for doing so, has caused tons of parasites to thrive and massive amounts of capital to be wasted. All people, organizations and governments are prone to human error. The free market does a good job correcting these errors, but when central banks step in and impose top-down controls that prevent the free market from doing its job, these human errors become worse. Under a Bitcoin standard, the world will be a better place because people will have to provide actual value in order to be lent money. Getting a line of credit from someone who has no opportunity cost makes the lender and borrower less concerned with the outcome. Under a Bitcoin standard, both the lender and borrower would have much more to lose and a larger incentive to be productive with the money rather than parasitic. Any decent person is more concerned about paying a loan to a friend or family member than a random bank that is lending out money that is not technically their own money. There has been a lot of manipulation and financial jargon to keep people ignorant of the problems within the fiat system.

Luckily, top-down controls only work when you can incentivize people to enforce your will. History has shown us that wars stop when the money either runs out or becomes worthless. Bitcoin is built from the bottom up because the incentives of the network get people to participate via their own free will. No one knows exactly how the future plays out, but if you follow the incentives it seems the outcome will be in favor of Bitcoin.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 06/24/2022 – 17:00

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