Anyone remember the line from the film Forest Gump: ‘Stupid is as stupid does’? Well, now we have, each and every passing day, the bastard children of our violent empire. Yes, violence has always been with us, this the frailty…
We spent the last week in Occupied Palestinian Territory, commonly referred to as Israel, where we traveled around the country to visit communities in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Bethlehem, the West Bank, the Nagab, and more.
The Fedsays that its Treasury-bill buying program isn’t the same as quantitative easing. But the advance in U.S. equity prices alongside the central bank’s growing balance sheet suggests to some that the effects may not be wildly different.
With interest rates in many countries close to zero or even negative, some commentators are of the view that monetary policy of the central banks are likely to become less effective in navigating the economy.
Mortgage giant Fannie Mae recently released their Q32018 loan acquisition data base. And it revealed that Fannie Mae is seeing a spike in risk-taking. First, the average credit (FICO) score. Both …
The Company Once Called The “Anti-Uber” Has Officially Shut Down In New York
The startup called Juno that sought to establish itself as a competitor to Uber is no longer doing business in New York.
The company had billed itself as a “kinder” and “gentler” way to get a ride — and as we all know, “kind” and “gentle” gets you precisely nowhere in downtown Manhattan.
The company is now inviting its users to join Lyft, Bloomberg reports. Juno is owned by Gett Inc., which is a Tel Aviv based ride-hailing company that spent $200 million to acquire Juno in 2017.
On Monday, Gett said that it was shutting down Juno and was instead starting a partnership with Lyft, which will allow Gett’s clients to get rides by Lyft through its app beginning next year.
The company said that more focus on its corporate clients and “misguided regulations” on ride-hailing companies in New York City were to blame for it shutting down. Gett’s CEO, Dave Waiser, said: “This development reinforces Gett’s strategy to build a profitable company focused on the corporate transportation sector, a market worth $1 trillion each year.”
The company was formerly thought to be a formidable competitor to Uber in the busy New York City market. It launched billing itself as a driver-friendly alternative to Uber and offered equity packages to its drivers, promising that they would be able to share in the wealth if the company made it big.
Payouts to drivers “did not materialize” after the company’s sale to Gett, which is now valued at $1.5 billion. The company has raised more than $800 million from investors and had mulled a sale of Juno — obviously unsuccessfully — last summer.
U.S. sanctions on Venezuela have been squeezing the life out of its economy in an attempt to remove the government of Nicolas Maduro from power, but so far those sanctions haven’t been entirely successful. The reason: Venezuela is still exporting oil.
So far in November, according to OilX data, Venezuela has exported an average of 530,000 bpd, up from 523,000 bpd in October.
Bloomberg reports, citing shipping data, that Venezuela had loaded almost 11 million barrels of crude in just the first 11 days of November, which is more than twice as much as it did in the same period last month. Most of the oil seems to have gone to India and China, with half of the vessels transporting it turning their transponders off to avoid detection.
This is the now-standard tactic used by Iran to export its oil amid U.S. sanctions, too. Turning off the geolocation device is what Iranian tankers do when they leave port — or in the open sea — and they only turn them off when they approach their port of destination. This and ship-to-ship transfers have helped Tehran continue taking in oil revenues despite the sanctions.
These same tactics are being used by Venezuela now as well.
Venezuela’s crude oil production in September averaged just 644,000 bpd, according to OPEC’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report. That’s down from 727,000 bpd in August and an average 975,000 bpd over the first half of the year.
In September 2018, Venezuela was pumping more than twice the October level, at 1.354 million bpd.
This goes to show that sanctions are working to curb oil production, but they have not been able to stifle Venezuela’s exports to zero. The country has oil-for-cash agreements with China and Russia, and although it struggles to repay this debt with its limited amount of oil, it is paying down some of it — apparently without violating any sanctions.
One vessel Bloomberg’s data detected recently was the Dragon — a Liberian-flagged Very Large Crude Carrier, whose last GPS signal came off the French coast. The tanker, however, turned out to be offshore Venezuela where it loaded 2 million barrels of local crude for Russia’s Rosneft, one of Caracas’s biggest creditors.
Both the Russian company and the operator of the Dragon told Bloomberg that they have not violated any sanctions.One way Rosneft is doing this is by selling the oil on and getting paid in fuel. This is how India has been getting some of its Venezuelan oil shipments despite pressure from Washington to cut these imports off completely.
So, there are many ways to avoid detection from sanction-prone parties at sea and Venezuela has been using them, like Iran.
The practice of transponder switch-offs has become even more popular recently, after Washington slapped sanctions on several Chinese shippers for violating its sanctions against Iran. Meanwhile, China’s oil imports from ship-to-ship transfers soared threefold in September, with a lot of the oil coming from either Iran or Venezuela, according to analysts.
Venezuela is certainly having no fun in trying to keep its oil industry going amid sanctions and the decay that follows years of underinvestment in field and equipment maintenance. Yet the most fundamental truth of basic economics is helping it trudge along: for as long as there is demand, there will be supply.
There is still demand for Venezuelan oil, and until it’s there, Venezuela will find ways to ship the oil abroad.
NATO To Make Outer Space Next “Operational Domain“
So much for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization… though we might note that when it previously bombed Belgrade, assisted in the occupation of Afghanistan, and toppled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, any sense or concern for overstepping its mandate or ‘mission creep’ was clearly lost altogether.
As if seeking expansion into Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and potentially the Caucuses were not enough, now the Cold War military alliance is eyeing expansion into space. This is the focus of the following new report — not in The Onionbut in Bloomberg—entitled, ‘NATO Is Poised to Expand Its Remit to Include Outer Space’ which introduces:
NATO intends to make space an “operational domain” along with air, land, sea and cyber, according to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The move, to be approved at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Wednesday, would bring all five areas within the scope of the alliance’s collective-defense commitment and comes as member countries seek to address fresh internal political splits.
Stoltenberg described to reporters on Tuesday: “Space is of great importance for our civilian societies and for any military operation,” and described space expansion as ‘essential,’ saying further: “It’s about communications, it’s about navigation, it’s about data imagery. Space is essential for almost everything we do.”
So now Article 5 will be invoked to defend a NATO member’s claim to a chunk of the moon, or Mars? Again, the NATO chief didn’t just describe the prospect as an interesting project or avenue for future potential, but as “essential”. NATO ministers have over the past year been discussing a an overarching future space policy, so it’s nothing new; however, the suggestion that it’s now essential to the mission might come as a surprise to member states.
Despite deep cracks in the alliance, especially after it’s second largest military controversially invaded northern Syria last month, and following charged statements earlier this month by France’s Emmanuel Macron to The Economistwherein he describedNATO as suffering “brain death”, it appears Stoltenberg is exploring new domains to keep the alliance relevant.
This also comes after Trump’s longtime pressure for European capitals to increase defense spending, shouldering more of the burden.
All of this suggests Macron had it right in his controversial prior remarks to the British weekly magazine: “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO.”It’s also worth recalling that he had even questioned the Article Five collective defense guarantee when pressed on the issue: “I don’t know,” he answered.
Again, Stoltenberg’s new space comments suggest an alliance in desperate search of new missions on new frontiers. More via Bloomberg:
“We need more European efforts on defense, but not as an alternative, not as something that is replacing NATO,” Stoltenberg said.
He called NATO’s plan to integrate space into the alliance’s operations a “defensive” step, saying it would be a “clear sign that we continue to strengthen our deterrence and defense.”
Though as the report notes, “Stoltenberg said NATO has no intention of putting weapons in space.” But how else will NATO theoretically exercises “deterrence and defense” in outer space?
As NATO foreign ministers meet on Wednesday in Brussels to consider a range of issues, it’ll be interesting to see if Stoltenberg’s space comments gain any further traction or are seriously taken up.