Aug 15

Today’s News 15th August 2017

  • The West Betrays U.S. Heroes Who Prevented Another 9/11

    Authored by Giulio Meotti via The Gatestone Institute,

    • "Those who work as spies know the risks from America's enemies, but they shouldn't have to worry about politicized retribution from its friends"The Wall Street Journal.
    • These officials should have never be prosecuted in a court; they should be protected from such actions. This prosecution is a betrayal of those who worked hard to prevent more massacres and to cripple the infrastructure of jihad.
    • That is the most important lesson: our spies and officials involved in the war against Islamic terrorism, like those who prevented another 9/11, now fear not only the wrath of the jihadists, but also the witch hunt of our media and judicial system.

    One of the most important chapters in the war on terror is being rewritten — with a moral inversion. Islamic terrorists who were arrested and deported have become "liberal causes célèbres", while agents of the CIA who questioned them are not only being condemned but also financially crushed by punishment and legal bills — for having tried, legally, to save American lives.

    Guantanamo Bay has supposedly become "the Gulag of our time"; the psychologists who interrogated the murderer who sawed off Daniel Pearl's head have been charged with working "for money"; the "black sites" in the Polish and Lithuanian forests have been compared to Nazi concentration camps, and the U.S. jurists and officials who conducted the war on terror have been compared to the Germans hanged in Nuremberg.

    "In just a few months, Obama had sent the CIA back to the September 10 culture of risk aversion and timidity that had contributed to the disaster of 9/11", Bruce Thornton wrote in his book, The Wages of Appeasement. A few examples of Obama's policy include a directive to release Justice Department memos on the process of vetting interrogation techniques for legality. The attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, appointed a special prosecutor to determine if the CIA officers involved in the interrogation program had been guilty of breaking the law.

    A judicial condemnation, however, has begun only now. A federal judge in Spokane, Washington, has opened one of the most important trials in the recent U.S. history. For the first time after September 11, three American citizens involved in interrogating Islamic terrorists have been called to answer to a judge. The New York Times released the video of their testimony. The federal court in Spokane, Washington, heard Bruce Jessen, James Mitchell and Jose Rodriguez testifying on their role in the war on terror. They are among the heroes who prevented another 9/11; now they are on the bench.

    "I'll tell you a story," Bruce Jessen testified.

    "Two Christmases ago, I get a call from the CIA; my grandchildren and my daughter and son-in-law are living with us. You have 15 minutes to get out of your house because ISIS has found someone to come and kill you and your family… Now, those — that isn't the only threat I've received over the years, I've received lots of them. And I'm not afraid, and I did my duty and I stood up and I went to war, and I'll stand up to any of them again, but I don't want them messing with my family… And when you stick your face in the public eye, you get people like the SSCI and [Senator Dianne] Feinstein and the ACLU and other people who accuse you of things you didn't do, who out your name, who give them your address, who print articles that are full of crap about you, and it makes it difficult."

    Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA clandestine service, told the court what was at stake:

    "George Washington did not face an enemy like Al Qaeda. These are people who want to die as martyrs and see the killing of thousands of innocent men, women, and children as justifiable to promote their cause. Making a few of the worst terrorists on the planet uncomfortable for a few days during their first month of imprisonment is worth it in order to save thousands of lives".

    John Rizzo also testified. In 2002, when George W. Bush signed the executive order in which he argued that the Geneva Convention does not apply to terrorists, Rizzo was an interim legal advisor. "No, I can't honestly sit here today and say I should have objected to that", Rizzo said.

    Now, Judge Justin L Quackenbush of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, cleared the way for the case to move to the trial phase, rejecting the psychologists' lawyers request for summary judgement. "This is a historic day for our clients and all who seek accountability for torture," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said in a press release. "The court's ruling means that for the first time, individuals responsible for the brutal and unlawful CIA torture program will face meaningful legal accountability for what they did".

    These officials should have never be prosecuted in a court; they should be protected from such actions. This prosecution is a betrayal of those who worked hard to prevent more massacres and to cripple the infrastructure of jihad.

    Many former CIA directors explained that the program of enhanced interrogation techniques worked extremely well:

    "It led to the capture of senior al Qaeda operatives, thereby removing them from the battlefield; it led to the disruption of terrorist plots and prevented mass casualty attacks, saving American and Allied lives; it added enormously to what we knew about al Qaeda as an organization and therefore informed our approaches on how best to attack, thwart and degrade it".

    The CIA claimed the demonstrable successes of the interrogation program: the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed; the capture of José Padilla, accused of wanting to commit an attack in the United States with a dirty radiological bomb; preventing an attack on the US consulate in Karachi, Pakistan; a second wave of attacks after September 11 with a plan to hijack a plane and crash it into Library Tower in Los Angeles.

    Jessen and Mitchell are not the only psychologists now in trouble for their involvement in this program. There are also the military psychologist Morgan Banks; Stephen Behnke, a former director of the American Psychological Association's ethics office; Joseph Matarazzo, a former chairperson of the Psychologist Association, who allegedly wrote an opinion for the CIA in which the deprivation of sleep would not constitute "torture".

    One of the most important cases of rendition took place in the Italian city of Milan against Abu Omar; the verdict ended by condemning CIA agents. Robert Seldon Lady, the former head of the CIA in Milan, and involved in the Abu Omar case, was arrested and released in Panama. In a rare interview, the Wall Street Journal wrote:

    "Mr. Lady, who had planned to retire and become a security consultant from a farm house he bought with his life savings in Italy's Piedmont region, received the stiffest sentence — eight years in prison, increased to nine on appeal. Before the case went to trial, Magistrate Armando Spataro sued to seize Mr. Lady's house and use the proceeds to pay damages to Abu Omar. Mr. Lady fled Italy in 2005 but lost his property. His 30-year marriage, he says, was another casualty".

    Sabrina De Sousa, another CIA agent involved in the Milan rendition, avoided the jail only thanks to being pardoned by the Italian authorities.

    The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Macedonia for the rendition of a German citizen. The European judges also condemned Poland for hosting one of the CIA's secret sites. Spanish judges opened a criminal file against some senior Bush administration officials, including John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee of the Justice Department, and William Haynes, a former senior Pentagon jurist. John Yoo, now a professor at University of California, Berkeley, wrote the 2003 memorandum authorizing the CIA's interrogation techniques. The German attorney Wolfgang Kaleck filed a criminal complaint against Yoo; Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the Law School at the California University, asked to prosecute Yoo, who was also sued by José Padilla, a convicted American terrorist.

    In 2009, Spanish judges opened a criminal file against some senior Bush administration officials, including John Yoo (pictured) of the Justice Department. Yoo, now a professor at University of California, Berkeley, wrote the 2003 memorandum authorizing the CIA's interrogation techniques. (Image source: Commonwealth Club/Wikimedia Commons)

    Recently, attorneys of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin, filed a criminal complaint against Gina Haspel, now the CIA's number-two person under Director Mike Pompeo, and charged her with being involved in directing a secret CIA detention facility near Bangkok, Thailand. Will U.S. officials fear that traveling in Europe might expose them to arrest?

    The Wall Street Journal wrote last year, regarding the De Sousa case:

    "The threat from terrorism is worse than at any time since 9/11, even as the West has limited its capacity for self-defense… Those who work as spies know the risks from America's enemies, but they shouldn't have to worry about politicized retribution from its friends. Sabrina De Sousa's abandonment by the U.S. government sends a demoralizing message to all who serve in the shadows, even as the war on terror enters a dangerous new phase."

    That is the most important lesson: our brave spies and officials involved in the war against Islamic terrorism, like those who prevented another 9/11, now fear not only the wrath of the jihadists, but also the witch hunt of a Western media and judicial system.

    As James E. Mitchell said, by prosecuting what the U.S. and the West have done in the war on terror, "we will be standing on the moral high ground, looking down into a smoking hole that used to be several city blocks".

  • Guam Governor Calls For North Korean "Bully" To Be "Punched In The Nose"

    After suddenly being thrust into the crosshairs of an international standoff between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un last week, Guam’s governor, Eddie Calvo, doesn’t seem to be all that worried.  Using a seemingly Trumpian vernacular, Calvo compared Kim Jong-Un to a playground bully who needs a simple “punch in the nose.”  Per AFP:

    Guam’s leader said Monday that “sometimes a bully can only be stopped with a punch in the nose”, in a spirited defence of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against North Korea which has the island in its crosshairs.

     

    While Trump’s critics accuse him of inflaming tensions with Pyongyang, Guam governor Eddie Calvo said he was grateful the US leader was taking a strong stance against North Korean threats to his Pacific homeland.

     

    “Everyone who grew up in the schoolyard in elementary school, we understand a bully,” Calvo told AFP.

     

    “(North Korean leader) Kim Jong-Un is a bully with some very strong weapons… a bully has to be countered very strongly.”

    Guam

     

    Calvo, a Republican, said Trump was being unfairly criticized over his handling of the North Korea crisis, which escalated when Pyongyang announced plans to launch a “simultaneous strike” on Guam by mid-August.  While noting Trump’s penchant for dramatic language, Calvo pointed out that his underlying message is not that dissimilar from Obama’s. 

    Trump has responded by threatening “fire and fury”, warning last week that the US military was “locked and loaded” to respond to any aggression.

     

    “President Trump is not your conventional elected leader, what he says and how he says it is a lot different from what was said by previous presidents,” Calvo said.

     

    But he pointed out previous presidents had also used strong words to warn off Pyongyang, including Barack Obama who said last year that “we could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals”.

     

    “One president (Obama) said it one way, cool and calmly with a period… the other said fire and fury with an exclamation point, but it still leads to the same message,” Calvo said.

    Meanwhile, Calvo rejected the mainstream media’s attempt to compare Trump to the often unpredictable North Korean dictator.

    “Well there’s only one guy that has vaporised into a red mist his uncle or a general because he fell asleep in a meeting with an anti-aircraft gun, that’s Kim Jong-Un,” he said.

     

    “There’s only one guy that’s killed his brother with one of the most toxic nerve agents ever created, that’s Kim Jong-Un.”

    Of course, he may have point…the “punch in the nose” diplomacy worked out pretty well for Ralphie…

  • Intel CEO Resigns From Trump Manufacturing Council Over "Divided Political Climate"

    The CEOs on President Trump's Manufacturing Council are dropping like flies as they realize, one by one, this weekend's media mayhem surrounding Trump's comments about the chaos in Charlotteville is the perfect excuse to detach from the Trump bandwagon.

    Following Merck's Ken Frazier and Under Armour's Kevin Plank, Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich chose to resign his position by announcing it quietly on a blog post at 2230ET explaining that he is departing the manufacturing council in order to bring attention to the demise of US manufacturing…

    In a blog post, Krzanich said that the decline in American manufacturing remains a serious issue, but said that "politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America's manufacturing base."

     "I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing," Krzanich said in a blog post.

     

    "Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America's manufacturing base."

    Here is Krzanich's full statement:

    Earlier today, I tendered my resignation from the American Manufacturing Council. I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America's manufacturing base.

     

    I have already made clear my abhorrence at the recent hate-spawned violence in Charlottesville, and earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence. I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them. We should honor – not attack – those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values. I hope this will change, and I remain willing to serve when it does.

     

    I am not a politician.

     

    I am an engineer who has spent most of his career working in factories that manufacture the world's most advanced devices. Yet, it is clear even to me that nearly every issue is now politicized to the point where significant progress is impossible. Promoting American manufacturing should not be a political issue.My request—my plea—to everyone involved in our political system is this: set scoring political points aside and focus on what is best for the nation as a whole. The current environment must change, or else our nation will become a shadow of what it once was and what it still can and should be.

    So who's left?

    Here’s the full list of members on the new manufacturing council:

    • Andrew Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company
    • Bill Brown, Harris Corporation
    • Michael Dell, Dell Technologies
    • John Ferriola, Nucor Corporation
    • Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool Corporation
    • Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company
    • Ken Frazier, Merck & Co., Inc.
    • Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson
    • Greg Hayes, United Technologies Corp.
    • Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corporation
    • Jeff Immelt, General Electric
    • Jim Kamsickas, Dana Inc.
    • Klaus Kleinfleld, Arconic
    • Brian Krzanich, Intel Corporation
    • Rich Kyle, The Timken Company
    • Thea Lee, AFL-CIO
    • Mario Longhi, U.S. Steel
    • Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company
    • Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing
    • Elon Musk, Tesla
    • Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar
    • Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing
    • Kevin Plank, Under Armour
    • Michael Polk, Newell Brands
    • Mark Sutton, International Paper
    • Inge Thulin, 3M
    • Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO
    • Wendel Weeks, Corning

  • Used Car Prices Crash To Lowest Level Since 2009 Amid Glut Of Off-Lease Supply

    The U.S. auto market is at an interesting crossroads with used car prices crashing to new lows every month while new car prices continue to defy gravity courtesy of a somewhat ‘frothy’, if not suicidal, lending market that has seemingly decided that anyone with a pulse is financially qualified for a $0 down, 0% interest, 80 month loan on a brand new $40,000 luxury vehicle of their choice. 

    As the Labor Department’s consumer-price index data showed last Friday, used car prices once again dropped in July to the lowest level since the ‘great recession’ of 2009.  In fact, since the end of 2015, the cost of used vehicles has dropped in all but three months and are now roughly 10% off their 2013 high.

     

    Unfortunately, the outlook for the used market is only expected to get worse with the volume of lease returns expected to soar to nearly 4mm units by 2018.

    Auto Leases

     

    Meanwhile, despite modest weakness over the past two months, new car prices have held up fairly well…

     

    …even as the domestic auto OEM’s continue to flood dealer lots with new inventory that isn’t moving.

     

    Of course, logic would dictate that some level of substitution would have to take over at some point as the financial benefits of buying a used car eventually outweigh the social indignity of cruising around town in a 3-year old clunker. 

    That said, those innovative “Low Credit Score” discounts do make new car buying very attractive…

    Truck

  • The Trigger? "If This Ever Happens You Know You're Days Away From Nuclear War"

    Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

    Back in February of 2014 we published an interview and report from well known preparedness strategist and strategic relocation expert Joel Skousen in which he explained his assessment of how World War III would “go down.”

     

    At the time, North Korea was considered by most to be nothing more than a small pest that posed no real threat to the United States. President Barrack Obama, like his predecessors, had maintained America’s policy of “strategic patience” with the rogue state, while its leader, as he does today, often made threats about attacking the United States, Japan and South Korea. What’s different today is that North Korea has proven their capabilities with not only inter-continental ballistic missiles, but nuclear weapons as well. Moreover, they have threatened to launch nuclear attacks against specific U.S. targets and many in the intelligence community have argued that the North may already have the weapons systems in place to strike key population centers that include Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City.

     

    Unlike 2014, today we have a different kind of President – one who believes strategic patience is a failed policy. Donald Trump has made it clear that North Korea will not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons and has backed his words with the might of Naval carrier strike groups off the Korean Peninsula and strategic bombers stationed in Guam. Trump and his national security team have essentially given Kim Jong Un two options. Either dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program, or war will be declared.

     

    On that note, we encourage you to consider the following assessment from Joel Skousen. If war is coming, this may well be how it’s triggered. And when it goes down, it’s going to be thermo-nuclear.

    Originally published February 10, 2014:

    It’s no secret that the world is on the brink of a significant paradigm shift. With the economy in shambles and the United States, Europe, China and Russia vying for hegemony over global affairs, it is only a matter of time before the powder keg goes critical.

    As was the case with World Wars I and II, the chess pieces are being positioned well in advance. It’s happening on all levels – monetary, financial, economic, geo-political. Lines are being drawn. Alliances are being cemented.

    We know that a widespread depression is sweeping across just about every nation on earth. The complete collapse of the world we have come to know as it relates to commerce and consumption is a foregone conclusion. We may not know exactly when or how the final nail is driven into the coffin, but we know it’s happening right before our eyes.

    Throughout history, when countries have fallen into destitution and despair, their leaders have often resolved their domestic plights by finding foreign scapegoats. This time will be no different – for all parties involved.

    In the following interview with Infowars’ Alex Jones, Joel Skousen of World Affairs Brief  leaves nothing to the imagination and outlines what we can expect as East and West face off in coming years.

    The trigger is clear. What will follow is nothing short of thermo-nuclear warfare on a massive scale.

    The trigger event has to be North Korea… North Korea is the most rogue element in the world and yet it’s been given a pass by the U.S… We don’t do anything to stop its nuclear progress, unlike Iran.

     

     

    Russia and China… it’s too early… they’re not ready to go to a third world war over Iran…

     

     

    When you see a North Korean launch against the South… and they do some minor military attack every year, so you’ve got to be careful not to confuse those with a major artillery barrage on Seoul. If this ever starts you know you’re days away from nuclear war. People ought to get out of major cities that are major nuclear targets.

     

     

    There has to be a reason why North Korea has been preserved… It can only be because the globalists know that they are the puppets of China and that they will be the trigger.

     

    Here’s how I think it’s going down. I think there will be an attack against South Korea. The North Koreans have over two million troops… 20,000 artillery… they can level Seoul in a matter of three or four days. The only way the U.S. can stop that attack is using tactical nuclear weapons.

     

    And that would give China the excuse to nuke the United States. U.S. is guilty of first-use, the U.S. is the bully of the world, Russia and Chinese unite to launch against U.S. military targets. Not civilian targets per say. There will be about 12 or 15 cities that are inextricably connected with the military that are going to get hit that I mentioned in Strategic Relocation… you don’t want to be in those cities.

     

    You may have two days notice when that attack in Korea starts, before China launches on the United States.

     

    And if you ever see everything blackout, because both Russia and China will use a preemptive nuclear EMP strike to take down the grid… before the nukes actually fall… anytime you see all electricity out, no news, nothing at all… that’s the time you need to be getting out of cities before the panic hits.

    In his Strategic Relocation documentary, Skousen notes that the reason Russia and China have yet to take action is because they are not ready. But as current events suggest, they are making haste. Iran has apparently deployed warships near US borders and China has continually balked at internationally established air zones, encroaching on U.S. interests. North Korea continues to do whatever it wants, even after sanctions issued again their nuclear development plans by the United Nations. And, given President Obama’s refusal to attend the Olympic games with other world leaders that include Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, it should be obvious that the relationship between the world’s super powers are strained.

    No one is willing to back down. And as we saw in the 20th century, that kind of diplomacy ends with the deaths of millions of people.

    No one believed it could happen in the early 1910’s and again in the late 1930’s.

    And with a Nobel Peace Prize winner at the helm of the freest nation on earth, not many Americans think it can happen in today’s modern and interconnected world.

    But what if history rhymes once again?

    Are we really to dismiss the warnings of Joel Skousen simply because it is such an outlier that it is impossible to imagine for most? Or do we look at history, see how such situations have unfolded over the last 5,000 years, and conclude that it is, in fact, possible that it happens again?

    The lives of hundreds of millions of people are in the balance. That’s a sobering thought for average people, but mere chess pieces to the elite who sit behind the curtains with their fingers on the buttons.

    As before, when the circumstances suit them and the time is right, they will invariably push those red buttons as their predecessors did before them.

    Those in target cities in the U.S., Russia, China and Europe will become nothing more than statistics for the history books.

    But if you know the warning signs, then perhaps at the very least, you stand a chance.

    If you ever wake up one morning and your TV doesn’t work, the internet is down, and your cell phone is off, then you need to assume that your city or region was hit by a super EMP weapon, such as those being developed and tested in North Korea, Russia and China.

    As Skousen warns, in such a scenario you’ll have about two days to get out of major cities to a safe location outside of the blast radius.

  • America's Most Active Hate Groups May Surprise You

    During a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, far-right demonstrators including neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members were involved in violent clashes with counter-protesters. A woman was killed and 19 other people were injured on Saturday when a car ran into a crowd protesting against the rally. In the wake of the clashes, U.S. President Donald Trump was criticized from all sides for failing to explicitly condemn the white supremacy group; and even after doing so today, the media seems unsatisfied…

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    As Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, the violence comes at a time when hate groups are experiencing growth and higher prominence. However, while today's headlines scream of far-right, neo-nazism, you may be surprised at which tops America's hate groups….

    Infographic: America's Active Hate Groups  | Statista

    You will find more statistics at Statista

    According to research from the Southern Poverty Law Center released earlier this year, 917 hate groups were spread out across the U.S. in 2016 compared to 892 in 2015 and 784 in 2014.

    The organization identified 193 Black Separatist groups, as well as 130 active Ku Klux Klan groups. That is a sharp increase on 2014 when the country’s most infamous supremacist organization had 72 groups.

    Last year, the U.S. also had 101 anti-Muslim and 100 White Nationalist organizations. 99 neo-Nazi groups were also identified, along with 78 categorized as being Racist Skinhead.

  • "Attack Venezuela!?" Ron Paul Rants "Trump Can't Be Serious!"

    Authored by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

    There is something unsettling about how President Trump has surrounded himself with generals. From his defense secretary to his national security advisor to his White House chief of staff, Trump looks to senior military officers to fill key positions that have been customarily filled by civilians. He’s surrounded by generals and threatens war at the drop of a hat.

    President Trump began last week by threatening “fire and fury” on North Korea. He continued through the week claiming, falsely, that Iran is violating the terms of the nuclear deal. He finally ended the week by threatening a US military attack on Venezuela.

    He told reporters on Friday that,

    “We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary. …We have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying.”

    Venezuela’s defense minister called Trump’s threat “an act of craziness.”

    Even more worrisome, when Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro tried to call President Trump for clarification he was refused. The White House stated that discussions with the Venezuelan president could only take place once democracy was restored in the country. Does that mean President Trump is moving toward declaring Maduro no longer the legitimate president of Venezuela? Is Trump taking a page from Obama’s failed regime change policy for Syria and declaring that “Maduro must go”?

    The current unrest in Venezuela is related to the economic shortcomings of that country’s centrally-planned economy. The 20th century has shown us very clearly that state control over an economy leads to mismanagement, mal-investment, massive shortages, and finally economic collapse. That is why those of us who advocate free market economics constantly warn that US government intervention in our own economy is leading us toward a similar financial crisis.

    But there is another factor in the unrest in Venezuela. For many years the United States government, through the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy, and US government funded NGOs, have been trying to overthrow the Venezuelan government. They almost succeeded in 2002, when then-president Hugo Chavez was briefly driven from office. Washington has spent millions trying to manipulate Venezuela’s elections and overturn the results. US policy is to create unrest and then use that unrest as a pretext for US intervention.

    Military officers play an important role in defending the United States. Their job is to fight and win wars. But the White House is becoming the war house and the president seems to see war as a first solution rather than a last resort. His threats of military action against a Venezuela that neither threatens nor could threaten the United States suggests a shocking lack of judgment.

    Congress should take President Trump’s threats seriously. In the 1980s, when President Reagan was determined to overthrow the Nicaraguan government using a proxy army, Congress passed a series of amendments, named after their author, Rep. Edward Boland (D-MA), to prohibit the president from using funds it appropriated to do so. Congress should make it clear in a similar manner that absent a Venezuelan attack on the United States, President Trump would be committing a serious crime in ignoring the Constitution were he to follow through with his threats. Maybe they should call it the “We’re Not The World’s Policeman” act.

  • Autonomous Cars Could Impact Nearly 16 Million Jobs In U.S., Commerce Department Finds

    The technology required to enable fully autonomous cars is not here yet. You’ll get no argument from us on that point. 

    Despite the loftiest of wishes from companies like Uber and Tesla, for now autonomous cars can’t seem to stop running red lights…which is a slight issue.  And that says nothing about the societal transformation required to fully adopt such technology which will likely span a generation.  Let’s face it, just like grandma refused to adopt the e-commerce revolution, there are certain people who will simply never trust a computer to drive them around.

    All that said, it is inevitable that, at some point in the future, autonomous vehicles will be the norm.  And, when that day comes, it will undoubtedly wreak further havoc on a U.S. job market where 95 million people have already decided they would rather sit at home than look for a job…at least according to a new study from the U.S. Commerce Department

    According to the study released last week, nearly 4 million jobs in the U.S. could be completely eliminated by autonomous vehicle technology while closer 16 million will be radically transformed.

    The expected introduction of autonomous, or “self-driving,” vehicles (AVs) promises to have a potentially profound impact on labor demand. This paper explores this potential effect by identifying the occupations most likely to be directly affected by the business adoption of autonomous vehicles.

     

    In 2015, 15.5 million U.S. workers were employed in occupations that could be affected (to varying degrees) by the introduction of automated vehicles. This represents about one in nine workers.

     

    We divide these occupations into “motor vehicle operators” and “other on-the-job drivers.” Motor vehicle operators are occupations for which driving vehicles to transport persons and goods is a primary activity, are more likely to be displaced by AVs than other driving-related occupations. In 2015, there were 3.8 million workers in these occupations. These workers were predominately male, older, less educated, and compensated less than the typical worker. Motor vehicle operator jobs are most concentrated in the transportation and warehousing sector.

     

    Other on-the-job drivers use roadway motor vehicles to deliver services or to travel to work sites, such as first responders, construction trades, repair and installation, and personal home care aides. In 2015, there were 11.7 million workers in these occupations and they are mostly concentrated in construction, administrative and waste management, health care, and government. Other-on-the-job drivers may be more likely to benefit from greater productivity and better working conditions offered by AVs than motor vehicle operator occupations.

     

    So which professions will be hit the hardest?  Well, the Commerce Department says that 65% of the most obvious job losses will likely come from the long and short-haul commercial delivery businesses.

     

    Of course, the direct driving job losses say nothing about the 2nd-derivative losses that will also inevitably come.  For instance, consider our post from almost exactly one year ago in which we argued that autonomous cars could double the capacity utilization of passenger vehicles thus cutting a ‘normalized’ auto SAAR in half (see: Ford Announces Plans To Self-Destruct Starting In 2021).

    So what do we mean when we say an autonomous car pretty much ensures Ford’s demise?  To be clear, we’re not specifically targeting Ford…the whole auto industry is in serious trouble when truly autonomous driving arrives.  Below is a little math to help illustrate the point.

     

    Right now there are roughly 250mm light-duty passenger cars on the road in the U.S. (that’s about 1 car per driving age person, btw, which is fairly astounding by itself).  American’s travel roughly 3 trillion miles per year in aggregate which which means that each car travels an average of 12k miles per year.  Now if you assume the average rate of travel is 45 miles per hour then you’ll find that each car is implied to be on the road for an average of about 45 minutes per day.  That’s a capacity utilization of about 3% (see table below for quick math).

     

    Capacity Utilization

     

    A 3% capacity utilization ratio is, needless to say, fairly terrible.  We don’t imagine too many CFOs would model capital allocation decisions based on a 3% capacity utilization for fixed assets.  That said, individuals are forced to underwrite car purchases to a 3% capacity utilization because they have no choice.  People have to get to work and 100% reliance on public transit options as just not feasible for most people in this country.

     

    That is, until the arrival of completely autonomous vehicles.  The problem with mass transit is that people still need a car to get back and forth to the train station or bus stop.  The problem with Ubers/Taxis is that they’re expensive for daily use due primarily to the labor overhead that’s built into your per mile rate.  But fully autonomous vehicles solve both those problems.  Now, people will have the option of a vehicle at their beck and call without having to fund the upfront capital cost of a purchase and/or the per unit human capital costs inherent in taking an Uber.  In other words, the per mile rental rate of a fully autonomous car should be competed down to a level that provides an adequate return solely on the cost of the vehicle…no wages, no benefits, none of the typical hassles associated with employing people.  Or, said another way, taking an Uber is going to get really freaking cheap.

     

    But the best part is that capacity utilization with fully autonomous cars can skyrocket driving per unit costs even lower for passengers.  For example, when you drive to work right now your car sits there all day until you drive home.  In the autonomous car world, that car will drive you to work then go pick up multiple other people to do the same thing.  Now, if capacity utilization doubles from just 3% to 6% all of sudden half the number of cars are required in the US which means annual SAAR goes from ~17mm to ~8.5mm…which means Ford and GM likely find themselves in another bailout situation.

     

    Normalized SAAR

     

    And, if you’re making half the cars, guess how many people you need to make them?

    Oh well, at least there’s always that McDonalds job to fall back on…oh wait…

    Mcdonalds

     

    The full Commerce Department study can be viewed here:

  • Hedge Funds' Love Affair With FAANG Fizzles: Full 13-F Breakdown

    One quarter after virtually every hedge fund loaded up on one or more of the six most influential tech stocks in the U.S stock market, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google – a handful of stocks roughly responsible for half the market’s YTD gains – the love affair with FAANG continued, albeit far less passionately, with quite a few cases of “buyer’s remorse” emerging. According to an analysis by Reuters, closely-watched U.S. hedge fund managers were generally bearish on FAANGs in Q2, with eight prominent investors in aggregate cutting or liquidating 18 stakes in the companies, according to the latest 13-F dump.

    Among those who had chilled on the tech space, were Coatue Management, Omega Advisors, Third Point, Tiger Global Management, Appaloosa Management, Paulson & Co, Soros Fund Management and Greenlight Capital, who in aggregate slashed 16 stakes, sold two stakes, increased six stakes, opened two new stakes, and maintained two positions in the so-called FAANG stocks in the three months ended June 30.

    Some examples:

    • Dan Loeb’s Third Point increased its stake in GOOGL by 120,000 class A shares to 575,000 and increased its position in Facebook by 500,000 class A shares to 3.5 million as of June 30.
    • On the other hand, Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors took a more bearish stance overall and cut its stake in Facebook by 26,700 class A shares to 236,200. It also cut its stake in Netflix by 12,700 shares to 65,000 shares and trimmed its stake in Amazon by 8,900 shares to 10,500 shares. Omega kept its stake in Alphabet of 158,835 class A shares unchanged.
    • Soros Fund Management sold its entire stake in Alphabet of 1,300 class A
      shares, cut its stake in Facebook Inc by 161,373 class A shares to
      476,713, sold its entire stake in Netflix of 131,966 shares, but took a
      new stake in Amazon of 7,500 shares.
    • Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global – a pioneer in tech investing  – cut its stake in Amazon by 110,120 shares to 1.2 million shares and trimmed its stake in Netflix by 52,600 shares to 376,400.
    • Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management trimmed its stake in Netflix by 17,909 shares to 3 million shares and cut its stake in Apple by 46,060 shares to 2.9 million shares.
    • David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital also cut its Apple position by 42,400 shares to 3.9 mln shares.
    • John Paulson unimaginatively named hedge fund took a new stake of 12,300 shares in Apple.

    On the bullish side, most “balls to the wall” was David Tepper, whose Appaloosa Management increased its stake in Apple by 325,000 shares to 625,000, raised its Alphabet position by 110,000 shares to 585,000 – the fund’s second largest position at roughly $531MM as of Q2 – and boosted its Facebook holdings  by almost 450k shares to 2.356 million shares.

    However, Appaloosa’s most bullish bet was a massive, 3.6 million new share position in Alibaba, equal to over $520MM as of June 30.

    As a reminder, in Q2 all of the FAANG stocks rose in the second quarter, with Alphabet surging the most, by 9.7% and Apple the least at just 0.3%. Judging by the move in the third quarter, in which all of the FAANG stocks have continued their ascent, with Netflix gaining the most at 14.5% and Alphabet the least at 1%, some of those who sold were likely dragged right back in.

    Below, courtesy of Bloomberg, is a breakdown of some key moves by marquee hedge funds during the second quarter:

    ADAGE CAPITAL

    • Top new buys: BCR, EMR, CBS, LMT, NDSN, DXC, KGC, GDDY
    • Top exits: OGE, JCI, EQT, MPC, SQM, RF, TMUS, LII, RBC, AGR
    • Boosted stakes in HON, DOV, DHR, ABX, SPR, COF, CMCSA, GOOG, AERI, NOC
    • Cut stakes in DE, DIS, CC, GD, ITW, TIF, BKH, JAZZ, AAPL, FOXA

    APPALOOSA MANAGEMENT

    • Top new buys: BABA, DG, SYK, ETE, LB, WFC, CX
    • Top exits: RF, PFE, MYL, TEVA, SYMC, CHTR, MT, UAL, GLBL, X
    • Boosted stakes in MU, GOOG, WDC, FB, AAPL, URI, TMO, UNH, DAL
    • Cut stakes in LUV, GM, AGN, KMI, WPZ, HCA, NUE, BSX, MHK, PNC

    BAUPOST GROUP

    • Top new buys: CAR, SRUN, SRC
    • Top exits: INVA, MCK, SYT, ABC
    • Boosted stakes in SYF, AR, ESRX, QRVO, CAH, PRTK, FWP
    • Cut stakes in CACC, LNG

    BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY

    • Top new buys: SYF, STOR
    • Top exits: GE
    • Boosted stakes in BK, GM, AAPL
    • Cut stakes in IBM, WFC, WBC, SIRI, UAL, AAL, DAL

    BLUE HARBOR

    • Top new buys: INCR, AXTA, COMM, CLNS
    • Top exits: AKAM
    • Boosted stakes in OTEX, ADNT, SPY, FFIV, RDC
    • Cut stakes in BWXT, AVT, AGCO, XLNX, LAZ, IWM

    BRIDGEWATER ASSOCIATES

    • Top new buys: GLD, CHK
    • Top exits: DIS, CVS, SPLS, MU, CTL, AET, X, DISH, JCP, WMT
    • Boosted stakes in HYG, RL, NFX, SWN
    • Cut stakes in ENDP, CLF, IPG, UPS, PBR, COP, BP, KORS, CVX, XOM

    COATUE MANAGEMENT

    • Top new buys: SHOP, NOW, CRM, CGNX, ON
    • Top exits: JPM, ZAYO, ILMN
    • Boosted stakes in BABA, TWLO, ALGT, NTRI, CMCM
    • Cut stakes in BAC, EBAY, DIS, APPL, NTNX

    CORVEX MANAGEMENT

    • Top new buys: CTL, TWX, JBLU, FDX, SBNY, BTU, CFCO
    • Top exits: YUM, YUMC, BLL, CRM, PX, CL, HUM, ETFC, JACK, PRXL
    • Boosted stakes in EGN, SIG, GOOGL, BAC
    • Cut stakes in BIO, MDCO, PAH, RF, FB, NOMD

    DUQUESNE FAMILY OFFICE

    • Top new buys: BABA, MRK, NOW, YUMC, DAL, V, MA, SBAC, CCI
    • Top exits: LYB, ABX, BAC, AA, AEM, PXD, COG, LNG, SYMC, TMUS
    • Boosted stakes in FB, GOOGL, MSFT, AMZN, CMCSA, PCLN, JD, CTRP, PYPL, EA
    • Cut stakes in PTC

    ELLIOTT MANAGEMENT

    • Top new buys: NXPI, BTU, NORD, GIMO, WYN, ATHN, FMSA, ARCC
    • Boosted stakes in ECA, MPC, AA, RYAAY, EGN, ACAD, GPI, SAH, ABG, NRG
    • Cut stakes in LOGM, CJ

    FIDELITY MANAGEMENT

    • Top new buys: EEX, YEXT, FPH, ATUS, NCSM
    • Top exits: GCO, VR, SYT, NYRT, FCN
    • Boosted stakes in PYPL, BABA, GOOGL, UNH, FB
    • Cut stakes in APC, AAPL, CMG, TJX, NXPI

    GREENLIGHT CAPITAL

    • Top new buys: HPE, TGNA, ADNT, TPX, CARS, NYRT
    • Top exits: TWX, SYT, CI, IAC, ALR, TPH, FMC
    • Boosted stakes in PRGO, MYL, DDS, MU, DSW
    • Cut stakes in CC, PVH, FRED, QHC, AAPL, MON

    HIGHFIELDS CAPITAL MANAGEMENT

    • Top new buys: HDS, FOXA, GS, KO, NVDA, DLTR, MCD, FE
    • Top exits: CVS, SYT, MPC, IAC, KMI, YPF, BTE
    • Boosted stakes in TWX, TEVA, TV, FDX, MON, WBA, VER, TGT, HCA
    • Cut stakes in AMT, CCE, GOOG, TSLA, GOOGL, APO, VOD, ICE, NAK, HLT

    ICAHN ASSOCIATES

    • Boosted stakes in IEP, FCX
    • Cut stakes in PYPL, AIG, XRX

    JANA PARTNERS

    • Top new buys: EQT, ZBH, P, FDC, MOH, CDK, PF, SFM
    • Top exits: WLTW, AET, ADS, SHPG, BMY, WBMD, ACAD, SNAP, BMRN, GWPH
    • Boosted stakes in WFM, HPE, HDS, NUVA, ZAYO, DERM
    • Cut stakes in UHS, DOW, CAG, SHW, CRM, HAWK, TIF, LBRDK, CTSH, LADR

    LANSDOWNE PARTNERS

    • Top new buys: PYPL, WDC, FSLR, HCC, VXX, CAFD, BTU, SWK, ENIC
    • Top exits: WFC, SNAP, GE, NFLX, TGP, TGS, ALGN, TSLA, SPWR
    • Boosted stakes in TSM, DAL, BAC, JPM, LB, C, HAS, CNQ, JCI, BABA
    • Cut stakes in DIS, CMCSA, FB, NKE, IR, ETN, UTX, ADNT, HON, SYY

    LONE PINE CAPITAL

    • Top new buys: MSFT, ORLY, MA, ICE, TRU, NOW, UNH, ATUS, AAP, CRM
    • Top exits: NKE, EA, V, PCLN, DLTR, RICE, COMM, SHPG, ALGN, ECA
    • Boosted stakes in BABA, Q, EXPE, CMCSA, FLT, FB, ANET, SNAP, TMUS, TV
    • Cut stakes in CHTR, SYMC, CSX, ALB, ADBE, EQIX, ULTA, ATVI, STZ

    LONG POND CAPITAL

    • Top new buys: DHI, SLG, VER, RF, BXP, HLT, LSI, ATH, FOR
    • Top exits: ESS, GGP, REG, LEN, TPH, CZR, INXN, UDR, QCP, BK
    • Boosted stakes in AIV, PGRE, SRC, WFC, RPAI, CLGX, TCO
    • Cut stakes in EQR, MSG, LOW, FCE/A, MAC, LQ

    MARCATO CAPITAL

    • Top new buys: NTCT, CFCO, RYAM
    • Top exits: SIG, FC
    • Boosted stakes in DECK, TEX, RCII, LQ, BWLD
    • Cut stakes in AVT, BID, GT, ERI, TPHS, IAC

    MAVERICK CAPITAL

    • Top new buys: TAP, DOW, MGM, QCOM, FIS, CHTR, V, ATUS, MIK
    • Top exits: NWL, KHC, SBAC, FLT, MYL, CMCSA, NVDA, HSY, MELI, FFIV
    • Boosted stakes in DLTR, EVHC, IPXL, WYNN, LVS, UHS, FB, SHPG, MCD, WTW
    • Cut stakes in ADBE, PFE, COMM, AET, CI, USFD, VMC, WCN, ORLY, ANDV

    MELVIN CAPITAL

    • Top new buys: GOOGL, WYN, QSR, YUM, FLT, TTWO, PANW, EDU, MHK
    • Top exits: AAP, FOXA, FDX, DLTR, CALM, NTES, SKX, MAS, HDS, DFRG
    • Boosted stakes in BABA, STZ, AMZN, V, ADBE, WYNN, KMX, LOW, AOBC, LAUR
    • Cut stakes in MCD, FB, SHW, DE, COO, BURL, THO, RLGY, SUM, CASY

    MOORE CAPITAL

    • Top new buys: MON, WMT, CDEV, AMT, SRUN, PVH, YNDX, QTS, SBAC
    • Top exits: GS, MS, EXPE, CTRP, PCAR, SNAP, MCD, DLTR, CMG, WLK
    • Boosted stakes in GOOGL, JD, UTX, MLCO, CRM, BURL, IT, VMC, CCL
    • Cut stakes in MSFT, BAC, AAPL, ATH, HD, XLF, AER, BKD, PLYA, SYF

    OMEGA ADVISORS

    • Top new buys: MXL, OCN, CVA, LB, TRN, ADSK, AAL, ETE, NCLH
    • Top exits: WBA, TPH, WPZ, HUM, P, FL, IBKC, CLF, FGL, AA
    • Boosted stakes in MSFT, SBGI, VVV, NBR, ZNGA, PVH, GIMO, FRAC, WPX, SYF
    • Cut stakes in HRG, ASPS, ARRS, HES, LOW, BERY, AMZN, AIG, NRZ

    PERSHING SQUARE

    • Top new buys: ADP
    • Top exits: APD
    • Boosted stakes in HHC
    • Cut stakes in MDLZ

    POINT72 ASSET MANAGEMENT

    • Top new buys: JNJ, IGT, PAGP, WMT, LMT, DHR, LLL, CAH, BKD, MSG
    • Top exits: BDX, BCR, JCI, MEOH, CTSH, APA, COST, ESRX, FTI, GPC
    • Boosted stakes in BIIB, GOOGL, CMCSA, TTWO, GOOG, EA, V, AMZN, OLN
    • Cut stakes in FB, AAP, MCD, DIS, TWX, EOG, CLR, PK, ANDV, MYL

    POINTSTATE CAPITAL

    • Top new buys: C, MGM, CCI, SBAC, BTU, DAL, ADBE, BA, TSRO, REGN
    • Top exits: ECA, VIAB, FANG, PNC, PE, HON, CRM, URI, ALKS, OLN
    • Boosted stakes in BABA, COG, AMZN, CMCSA, BAC, BMA, ETN, RICE, WMB, AGRO
    • Cut stakes in DOW, LYB, WFC, STZ, TMUS, CSX, EA, CFG, VRTX, BIIB

    RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES

    • Top new buys: PFE, MCK, ADSK, AIG, WDAY, T, WFC, KHC, AXP, NKE
    • Top exits: PCLN, TSLA, TEVA, AMD, CVS, MYL, REGN, TAP, ESRX, INFO
    • Boosted stakes in BMY, DPZ, NVDA, EA, CL, LLY, GSK, GILD, SBUX, AMGN
    • Cut stakes in CMCSA, FB, AET, MRK, PX, UNH, SHW, SIRI, INTC, NFLX

    RUANE CUNNIFF & GOLDFARB

    • Top new buys: SPSC, APPF
    • Top exits: PRGO, CHTR, AMG, MCD, NVO, GHC, CVS, MSFT, ACGL, JNJ
    • Boosted stakes in OMC, PCLN, FCAU, GOOGL, V, CACC, WAT, GOOG, KMX
    • Cut stakes in FAST, BIDU, ORLY, BRK/B, BRK/A, TJX, WUBA, PRI, CMG, COF

    SANDELL ASSET

    • Top new buys: ALR, GNCMA, WFM, BCR, TWX, BABA, TIVO, PCRX, BKS
    • Top exits: BOBE, WGL, CIT, VIAV
    • Boosted stakes in MGI, NXPI, BRCD, LVLT

    SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT

    • Top new buys: EQT, ATUS, GIS, K, PAGP, BCR, TRGP, CARS, NEP
    • Top exits: AGRO, HPE, SYMC, CJ, SUPV, COP, GS, NFLX, VMW, CTXS
    • Boosted stakes in VIAV, MMYT, KHC, EPC, BABA, NOMD, TWX, ATGE, TIVO, ALLT
    • Cut stakes in LRCX, WMB, TMUS, CRC, FB, SBAC, TTWO, LBRDK, SNAP

    STARBOARD VALUE

    • Top new buys: FCE/A, WBMD, ILG, SRC, PHG
    • Top exits: TRCO, CL, MYCC, PNK
    • Boosted stakes in HPE, FTNT, AAP
    • Cut stakes in NSP, BCO, CTSH, BAX, ABCO, QTM

    TEMASEK

    • Top new buys: NFX, GRA, AVGO, KREF, NETS, CELG, AMGN, BIIB, MON
    • Top exits: SNAP
    • Boosted stakes in RDS/B, REGN, ALXN, UNVR
    • Cut stakes in GILD, ATH, AMRS, TMO, PTLA

    TIGER GLOBAL

    • Top new buys: NETS, ATUS, JCP, OKTA, CLDR
    • Top exits: NTES, MELI, ELF
    • Boosted stakes in MSFT, TDG, APO, FLT, CMCSA, AWI
    • Cut stakes in CHTR, FCAU, DPZ, GOOG, GOOGL, FB, QSR, NFLX, ONDK, AMZN

    THIRD POINT

    • Top new buys: BLK, BABA, NXPI, VMC, ALXN, FMC, BMA, EQT
    • Top exits: JPM, CRM, QCOM, ZAYO, RICE, CE, PXD, AA, NOMD, SNAP
    • Boosted stakes in GOOGL, FB, BAC, ANTM, PE, RSPP, TWX, DHR, DOW, HPE
    • Cut stakes in CHTR, SHW, HUM, MHK, STZ, HON, GD, BAX

    TRIAN FUND

    • Boosted stakes in BK, PNR, PG, SYY, GE
    • Cut stakes in MDLZ, WEN

    TUDOR INVESTMENT

    • Top new buys: FB, TRCO, FICO, CACQ, DISH, PCLN, GOOG, DXC
    • Top exits: SYT, BIVV, THS, BOBE, MBLY, CFG, CTAS, KEY, CB, MMC
    • Boosted stakes in GOOGL, AMZN, SPY, BCR, LVLT, AKRX, IAC, SEE, UNP
    • Cut stakes in DVA, ZBH, TSS, UNH, PCRX, FIS, BABA, NDAQ, EW, RTN

    VALUEACT

    • Top new buys: KKR
    • Boosted stakes in STX, AFI
    • Cut stakes in MSFT, CBG, WLTW, BIVV, NTCT

    VIKING GLOBAL

    • Top new buys: WFC, APC, AFL, BABA, TDG, MOH, RJF, FLT, NSC, LOW
    • Top exits: GOOG, SCHW, JPM, ICE, BIIB, DIS, UTX, CNC, GPOR, WDC
    • Boosted stakes in V, CRM, PH, JAZZ, LYB, NUVA, AVXS, XRAY, CALA, HDB
    • Cut stakes in FB, DOW, WBA, JD, NFLX, GOOGL, MSFT, DE, AMZN, ECA

    Source: BBG

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