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COVID-19: The Weaponization Of Fear & The Loss Of Freedom

COVID-19: The Weaponization Of Fear & The Loss Of Freedom

Authored by John Mac Ghlionn via The Epoch Times,

Many U.S. citizens wonder if life will ever return to normal. Are masks here to stay? On TV, news channels are busy spreading…

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COVID-19: The Weaponization Of Fear & The Loss Of Freedom

Authored by John Mac Ghlionn via The Epoch Times,

Many U.S. citizens wonder if life will ever return to normal. Are masks here to stay? On TV, news channels are busy spreading fear. Meanwhile, some of the most widely read publications in the United States are warning about the next phase of the pandemic.

To live in the United States is to live in a permanent state of fear. This, as many readers know, is by design. A more fearful nation is a more passive one—easier to manipulate and easier to control.

In the United States, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, it’s far “too soon” to tell if Christmas gatherings will be allowed. Considering Christmas is more than two months away, one is forgiven for raising their eyebrows and asking: “What are you talking about, Dr. Fauci?” What is the point of vaccines and booster shots if we cannot be with our loved ones? Haven’t we sacrificed enough over the past 18 to 20 months?

Today, across the country, fear dominates the narrative. As someone currently completing a doctorate in psychology, I am intimately familiar with the mechanics of emotional salience. As a key attentional mechanism that contributes to our survival, fear is currently being weaponized for nefarious purposes.

When it comes to the mechanics of government-induced fear, the economist Robert Higgs is perhaps the most knowledgeable man in America.

After reading a fantastic article by City Journal’s John Tierney, I picked up a copy of  “Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government,” a book written by Robert Higgs, an economic historian who has been warning about the dangers of government creep for more than 30 years. In “Crisis and Leviathan,” published back in 1987, Higgs discussed a phenomenon known as the “ratchet effect.” Just like a tradesman uses a ratchet to allow effective, one-directional motion, governments often use emergencies to “ratchet” up their responses. By introducing more programs and more oversight boards, such “ratcheting” comes with significant costs—including freedoms we once took for granted. The loss of freedom brings a loss of privacy, and with these losses comes a loss of what it means to be human.

Clearly inspired by Higgs, the U.S. government, aided by mainstream media outlets, has weaponized fear to full effect. Aided by behavioral experts and masters of spin, a number of highly influential people have exploited this deeply wired reaction to further erode human agency. Now, to be clear, fear is a highly complex emotion. Context is everything. If you find yourself being chased by a bear, fear is natural. To feel joy in that situation would likely result in your swift and all too painful demise. However, in modern society, our predisposition toward fear is largely maladaptive. Your chances of being chased by a bear are minimal. In fact, your chances of dying from unnatural causes have never been lower. The world has never been safer. With COVID-19, though, we are constantly fed the life or death narrative. The message from the government and MSM is clear: “If you enjoy living, then listen to those in power. If instead you enjoy dying, then, by all means, do your own thing.” Don Lemon, CNN’s anchor and part-time preacher, has spoken about leaving the unvaccinated behind. Again, to be clear, I am not advocating against vaccines, but every adult should be free to make their own decisions. They shouldn’t be coerced or fed false, fear-filled narratives.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 20, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/Getty Images)

A Culture of Fear

We are bombarded with news stories 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—many of these are of the tragic variety. Not surprisingly, as we are hardwired to sense danger, the human mind provides fertile ground for the planting of fears. However, fears, like plants, can also be uprooted. Sadly, our ability to uproot is being compromised by those in positions of genuine power. Because of this, to paraphrase James F. Byrnes, the now deceased politician and judge, too many people now find themselves obsessed by the idea of security. By failing to acknowledge opportunity (also known as freedom), “they seem to be more afraid of life than death.”

Fear works best when an element of truth gets exaggerated to epic proportions. With COVID-19, we know the virus exists; we also know that far too many people around the world, including at least 709,000 Americans, have died. But—and this is of vital importance—if you happen to be reasonably young and reasonably healthy, your chances of dying from the virus are minimal. One of the major reasons COVID-19 has had such a devastating impact in the United States has a lot to do with one, simple fact: 40 percent of the country’s adults are obese. Instead of fear mongering, Dr. Fauci should be advising people to get fitter. This is one of the surest ways to avoid succumbing to the illness. Why does this get excluded from the conversation, either intentionally or otherwise? Because it’s much better to keep control of the masses—including the younger, healthier citizens—if tens of millions live in a perpetual state of fear.

An individual has a far greater chance of being killed in a traffic accident or from the flu than they have of dying from COVID-19. Obviously, no one wants to get the flu or experience a traffic accident. Nevertheless, we don’t live our lives in constant fear of both. That’s because our salience biases, also known as perceptual salience, predispose us to focus on novel threats. What’s more novel than a novel coronavirus? Fear is a prison largely of our own making. Let’s free ourselves.

I will finish with a quote from Frank Herbert, author of “Dune”: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/11/2021 - 17:00

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International

Visualizing The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles In 2021

Visualizing The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles In 2021

Identifying real estate bubbles is a tricky business. After all, as Visual Capitalist’s Nick Routley notes, even though many of us “know a bubble when we see it”, we don’t…

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Visualizing The World's Biggest Real Estate Bubbles In 2021

Identifying real estate bubbles is a tricky business. After all, as Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley notes, even though many of us “know a bubble when we see it”, we don’t have tangible proof of a bubble until it actually bursts.

And by then, it’s too late.

The map above, based on data from the Real Estate Bubble Index by UBS, serves as an early warning system, evaluating 25 global cities and scoring them based on their bubble risk.

Reading the Signs

Bubbles are hard to distinguish in real-time as investors must judge whether a market’s pricing accurately reflects what will happen in the future. Even so, there are some signs to watch out for.

As one example, a decoupling of prices from local incomes and rents is a common red flag. As well, imbalances in the real economy, such as excessive construction activity and lending can signal a bubble in the making.

With this in mind, which global markets are exhibiting the most bubble risk?

The Geography of Real Estate Bubbles

Europe is home to a number of cities that have extreme bubble risk, with Frankfurt topping the list this year. Germany’s financial hub has seen real home prices rise by 10% per year on average since 2016—the highest rate of all cities evaluated.

Two Canadian cities also find themselves in bubble territory: Toronto and Vancouver. In the former, nearly 30% of purchases in 2021 went to buyers with multiple properties, showing that real estate investment is alive and well. Despite efforts to cool down these hot urban markets, Canadian markets have rebounded and continued their march upward. In fact, over the past three decades, residential home prices in Canada grew at the fastest rates in the G7.

Despite civil unrest and unease over new policies, Hong Kong still has the second highest score in this index. Meanwhile, Dubai is listed as “undervalued” and is the only city in the index with a negative score. Residential prices have trended down for the past six years and are now down nearly 40% from 2014 levels.

Note: The Real Estate Bubble Index does not currently include cities in Mainland China.

Trending Ever Upward

Overheated markets are nothing new, though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamic of real estate markets.

For years, house price appreciation in city centers was all but guaranteed as construction boomed and people were eager to live an urban lifestyle. Remote work options and office downsizing is changing the value equation for many, and as a result, housing prices in non-urban areas increased faster than in cities for the first time since the 1990s.

Even so, these changing priorities haven’t deflated the real estate market in the world’s global cities. Below are growth rates for 2021 so far, and how that compares to the last five years.

Overall, prices have been trending upward almost everywhere. All but four of the cities above—Milan, Paris, New York, and San Francisco—have had positive growth year-on-year.

Even as real estate bubbles continue to grow, there is an element of uncertainty. Debt-to-income ratios continue to rise, and lending standards, which were relaxed during the pandemic, are tightening once again. Add in the societal shifts occurring right now, and predicting the future of these markets becomes more difficult.

In the short term, we may see what UBS calls “the era of urban outperformance” come to an end.

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/23/2021 - 22:00

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Government

The return of text is inevitable

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here. On Equity this week, we discussed the value of the written word. You can imagine that the resulting argument is inheren

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Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.

On Equity this week, we discussed the value of the written word. You can imagine that the resulting argument is inherently biased, considering we are three journalists who have bet our livelihoods on ink; but, I promise, there’s more nuance here beyond how important a lede is.

We recently published a recent deep dive on Automattic, the commercial media company behind the WordPress publishing platform. Founded in 2005, Automattic is one of the few companies that has been able to evolve and expand its way through a graveyard of media sites. Valued at $7.5 billion, it has also convinced investors of the financial promise of its vision.

I was most struck by how text has shaped Automattic’s hiring process: The company offers a purely written interview, where potential new hires never need to reveal their face or voice to anyone through the recruitment funnel. It takes away the inherent bias that comes with a Zoom interview, which, at its core, is just a digital version of a face-to-face interview. Monica Ohara, chief marketing officer of WordPress.com, explained more about her thinking:

“You normally think you’ve got to talk to them; see them on video. With text only, you remove all this bias and focus on the content of what they’re saying, and also test for a style of communication that’s really important in a distributed team.

“In Silicon Valley, everyone is competing for the same people that would add diversity to your pool. Which is great for those people, but what about all the others who don’t have those opportunities because of where they were born or live? For me, I was born in the Philippines and if I hadn’t had the luck to move here, I’d be living a different life.”

Rethinking the value of text, the same way we rethink how many synchronous meetings should be on our calendar, feels like the natural next step for companies figuring out how to scale distributed work. Even in a world seemingly ruled by short-form video, words — and sound — seem to matter in a way that other formats never will.

In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about PayPal’s reported new friend, the Chinese venture capital market and not at all about Facebook’s impending new rebrand. 

PayPal picks Pinterest

Image Credits: TechCrunch

We rushed to Twitter Spaces this week after rumors came out that PayPal may be buying Pinterest for a reported $45 billion. The fintech giant has been on an acquisition spree of sorts, but scooping up a social, photo-sharing platform may signal its hungry to own the content — not just the customer.

Here’s what to know: This feels nostalgic. PayPal potentially joining forces with a more content-focused e-commerce business comes more than a half-decade after it divorced from eBay. But, as Finix Chief Growth Officer Jareau Wadé pointed out, Pinterest is not a shopping destination like eBay — it’s a place where shopping begins for nearly 450 million users.

In a Substack post, Wadé makes the following argument to describe why PayPal may buy Pinterest:

At its core, Pinterest is more like Google than eBay. It’s a search engine that conducts over 5 billion searches per month for fuzzy, hard-to-describe ideas where pictures, rather than words, are often the best place to start. It also has a growing ads business that produced $613 million last quarter, up 125% YoY. With Pinterest, PayPal would be buying the top of the funnel — the awareness and interest stages — for millions of websites on the internet. PayPal would provide Pinterest with the bottom of the funnel, allowing them to see the purchases that result from shopping that began on Pinterest.

Imagine if PayPal could use their core product and the commerce assets they’ve acquired over the past five years to build a deconstructed sales funnel, not just for one website, but for the whole internet.

Put a pin in it:

China is thriving

Flag of China with pile of bitcoin

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Data from CB Insights shows us that, aside from a single outsized 2018 round, China’s third quarter of 2021 was the best three-month period for Chinese startups ever — both in deal value and deal count.

Here’s what to know: We’re surprised, too. On Equity, we discussed how the growth of China’s venture capital market contrasts in sentiment with the region’s government restrictions. It seems that regulatory impact hasn’t stopped all companies from raising, and growing, their businesses there.

Internationally speaking:

Around TC

TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 is next week! My colleagues have put together an amazing show about the sector that seemingly can’t stop attracting millions from investors. We’ll see what stopped eating the world, how hunger is turning into innovation and definitely hit a few SaaSy notes through panels with experts.

Check out the event agenda, buy your pass and come hang with us on October 27.

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

A massive ‘stalkerware’ leak puts the phone data of thousands at risk

What do people want in a co-founder? YC has some answers

Station F adds an online program to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs

Trump to launch his own social media platform, calling it TRUTH Social

Seen on TechCrunch+

Mission-driven ventures are growing fast during the pandemic

Dear Sophie: Any suggestions for recruiting international tech talent?

Lessons from founders raising their first round in a bull market

Udemy targets valuation of $4B in major edtech IPO

Talk soon,

N 

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Economics

DAX index forecast ahead of the ECB meeting

European stocks rose on Friday on a surge in technology stocks; still, rising inflation became a concern for investors. European inflation was confirmed at 3.4% YoY in September, and concerns grew that the European Central Bank could change its monetary..

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European stocks rose on Friday on a surge in technology stocks; still, rising inflation became a concern for investors. European inflation was confirmed at 3.4% YoY in September, and concerns grew that the European Central Bank could change its monetary policy.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said that ECB would maintain its accommodative policy for as long as necessary, but this could change soon. Germany’s DAX index has advanced again above 15,500 points, but it is still trading below its recent highs.

Germany’s recovery from the pandemic has been strong so far, and the country will release the preliminary estimates of its October Inflation data and its Q3 GDP next week.

Results from many big companies provided a strong start to third-quarter earnings, and investors’ focus will remain on the third-quarter earnings season because many companies have yet to publish their reports.

Next week, Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen,  Linde, MTU Aero Engines, and Daimler are among the companies scheduled to report quarterly results.

According to the German Economic Ministry, the outlook for the industry remains positive, but the world’s supply chains crisis represents a serious problem for Germany because of its dependence on exports.

The German economy is particularly vulnerable to shortages of key parts and raw materials, and more than 40% of companies reported they had lost sales because of supply problems.

Many big companies scaled back production of some of their most profitable models, while Opel announced last month that it would shut down a factory in Eisenach until the beginning of 2022.

It is important to say that nearly half of Germany’s economic output depends on exports of cars, machine tools, and other goods, while the semiconductor shortage throttling global car production suggests more pain for the automotive industry.

Despite this, the German Economic Ministry reported that it expected this effect to be temporary while the German central bank expects that the German economy could grow 3.7% this year. The German Economic Ministry added:

Healthy order books give us reason to expect strong recovery impulses from industry, and thanks to that strong overall economic growth

The European Central Bank recently reported that exports from Eurozone would have been at least 7% higher in the first half of the year if not for supply bottlenecks. The European Central Bank will announce its decision on monetary policy next Thursday, which could significantly influence on DAX index in the near term.

15,000 points represent support

Data source: tradingview.com

DAX index has advanced again above 15,500 points, and if the price jumps above 15,800 points, the next target could be at 16,000 points.

On the other side, if the price falls below strong support that stands at 15,000 points, it would be a strong “sell” signal, and the next target could be around 14,500 points.

Summary

The European Central Bank will announce its decision on monetary policy next Thursday, which could significantly influence on DAX index in the near term. DAX index has advanced again above 15,500 points, and if the price jumps above 15,800 points, the next target could be at 16,000 points.

The post DAX index forecast ahead of the ECB meeting appeared first on Invezz.

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