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Futures Soar On Ukraine “Positive Developments” Comment From Putin

Futures Soar On Ukraine "Positive Developments" Comment From Putin

Here comes another rollercoaster of a day for markets.

In a rerurn of…



Futures Soar On Ukraine "Positive Developments" Comment From Putin

Here comes another rollercoaster of a day for markets.

In a rerurn of last week's (transitory) Ukraine war "ceasefire" euphoria which fizzled almost as fast as it emerged, a little after 6am ET on Friday morning, futures which had been trading rangebound for much of the overnight session, soared 60 points in seconds after Interfax reported that according Putin told his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko that "there are certain positive developments, as far as negotiators from our side informed me" adding that "Talks are happening almost daily."

Whether this was merely an attempt to boost morale or an accurate reflection of events (doubtful since at the same time Bloomberg reports that Putin also said "Russia to Send Fighters From Middle East to Ukraine the WSJ reports that "Russian Forces Intensify Strikes on Cities in Western Ukraine") did not matter because contracts on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 indexes spiked higher as much as 1.5%, while safe havens like gold tumbled and 10Y yields pushed to new session highs above 2.01% and the he dollar erased gains.

Despite the positive shift in mood this morning, not everyone was on board: “our view remains that simply selling risk assets is not the best response to the war in Ukraine,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management. “But in this environment of heightened uncertainty, we advise investors to reduce excess equity exposure above long-term strategic benchmark allocations and add to hedges."

In premarket trading, China's Didi Global fell 20% in U.S. premarket trading after people familiar with the matter said the ride-hailing giant halted a plan to list its shares in Hong Kong for failing to appease regulators’ demands about its handling of user data.

DocuSign plunged 18% in early New York trading after the electronic-signature company forecast revenue for the first quarter that fell short of the average analyst estimate.

In the latest Ukraine developments, the big news as noted above is that Putin said there are certain positive shift in talks with Ukraine. Here are some other notable headlines in the always changing situation:

  • EU said it will support Ukraine in pursuing its European path and Austrian Chancellor Nehammer noted that EU leaders see Ukraine as part of the European family, while Netherlands PM Rutte said it may take years for the EU Commission to assess the Ukraine bid.
  • A source close to Turkish President Erdogan says a meeting between Russian President Putin and Ukrainian President Zelensky could become possible in the near future, according to Sky News Arabia.
  • US President Biden will speak regarding Russia at 10:15EST/15:15GMT today and will announce actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine, according to the White House. US President Biden also called for an end to Russia's preferred trade status and is to announce a trade push by the G7, US and EU this Friday, which paves the way for higher tariffs on Russian goods.
  • US Treasury Secretary Yellen said they can do more regarding sanctions on Russia and she hasn't seen evidence of China assisting Russia with sanctions.
  • White House Press Secretary Psaki said the US supports corporations making decisions about Russia and if Russia seizes companies' assets, it will cause further suffering.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 2.1% and was headed for its first weekly gain since the start of the Ukraine war, as investors reacted to the news of Putin's commentary as they weighed the ECB's newly found hawkishness amid the emerging stagflationary outlook. Travel and mining stocks were standout outperformers, while utilities, food and bank shares underperformed.  European stocks had their largest equity outflows on record in the week to March 9, while investors bought U.S. stocks, according to Bank of America Corp strategists citing EPFR data. Here are some of the biggest European movers today:

  • Leonardo shares jump as much as 12% in Milan trading after results and FY22 guidance. Mediobanca notes the forecast for free operating cash flow generation came in ahead of expectations.
  • EQT rises as much as 5.9% as Deutsche Bank initiates with a buy recommendation, saying alternative asset management is highest growth segment within the sector.
  • EssilorLuxottica shares climb as much as 4.5% as the eyewear giant unveiled longer-term profitability goals that exceeded expectations, outweighing worries over lack of 2022 guidance.
  • Pearson shares rise as much as 7.8%, following a so- called “uncooked” mention in a Betaville report regarding potential interest in the publishing company.
  • Wind energy stocks resumed their rally after a dip mid-week, with Citi expecting outperformance amid record energy prices and Europe’s strive for energy independence.
  • Lanxess shares climb as much as 7.4% in Frankfurt. The company’s guidance for adjusted Ebitda for 2022 showed outlook for “significant growth,” Jefferies says in a note to investors.
  • Rubis shares jump as much as 10% after the French company increased its dividend, gave a positive outlook and said it has no direct exposure to Russia and Ukraine.

Earlier in the session, Asian markets reflected overnight losses in the U.S. market. The MSCI index of Asian stocks capped its fourth consecutive weekly decline as a technology gauge in Hong Kong slumped more than 6% early in the session, after the U.S. identified five Chinese firms that could be delisted,before a burst of afternoon buying by China's PPT salvaged some of the plunge.

Chinese stocks traded in the U.S. had their worst day since 2008 Thursday amid renewed regulatory concerns.

Japanese stocks dropped following declines on Wall Street as the fastest U.S. inflation in 40 years drove bond yields higher and raised expectations for steeper interest-rate hikes.  The Topix fell 1.7% to close at 1,799.54, while the Nikkei 225 declined 2.1% to 25,162.78. Toyota Motor Corp. contributed the most to the Topix’s decline, decreasing 4.4%. Out of 2,175 shares in the index, 413 rose and 1,703 fell, while 59 were unchanged.

Oil initially rebounded following news that Iran nuclear deal talks had been halted, but then then reversed following the Putin comments and was still on track for its biggest weekly loss since November. U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to call for an end to normal trade relations with Russia, clearing the way for increased tariffs on the country’s imports.

Treasuries remained near session lows reached in early U.S. session after Russian President Putin cited positive developments in talks with Ukraine. Front-end yields led the curve higher, with 2-year rising more than 5bp. S&P 500 futures jumped to a weekly high. U.S. 10-year yields hover around 2% with bunds underperforming in the sector, cheaper by 1bp while gilts trade broadly in line; 2s10s curve flattens by ~2bp, 5s30s by ~1bp. IG dollar issuance slate empty so far; over $67b has so far priced this week, eighth largest on record; 5 to 6 borrowers stood down Thursday, are expected to try again Friday.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose as the greenback strengthened against all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the Norwegian krone. The dollar advanced past 1.10 per euro in European session and Treasury yields rose by up to 2bps led by the front end while European benchmark yields were 1bp lower to 2bps higher. The pound slid to the lowest since November 2020 against the dollar amid concern that bets on interest-rate hikes may be too aggressive despite an unexpected surge in the U.K. economy. The U.K. economy surged at the strongest pace in seven months in January, surpassing levels prevailing before the coronavirus struck. GDP rose 0.8%, recovering from an 0.2% in December when the omicron variant of the virus was spreading. The yen was the worst G-10 performer and fell to a five-year low against the dollar; Australian and New Zealand dollars were also underperforming as traders cut positions before the weekend on concern fallout from the war in Ukraine will worsen in coming days. Ruble gained against dollar for a second day in onshore trading.

In commodities, crude futures advance after coming down from this week’s highs. WTI drifts 2.4% higher to trade around $108. Brent rises 2.6% at the $112 level. Spot gold falls roughly $6 to trade below $1,990/oz. Most base metals trade in the green; LME tin rises 1.7%, outperforming peers. LME zinc lags, dropping 0.6%

Looking at the day ahead, data releases include the UK’s GDP for January, whilst in the US there’s the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for March. Otherwise, central bank speakers include the ECB’s Rehn and Centeno.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 4,268.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.7% to 430.00
  • MXAP down 1.7% to 171.77
  • MXAPJ down 1.3% to 563.03
  • Nikkei down 2.1% to 25,162.78
  • Topix down 1.7% to 1,799.54
  • Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 20,553.79
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,309.75
  • Sensex up 0.3% to 55,616.90
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.9% to 7,063.60
  • Kospi down 0.7% to 2,661.28
  • Brent Futures up 1.6% to $111.03/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,990.83
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.29% to 98.80
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 0.26%
  • Euro down 0.2% to $1.0963

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • President Joe Biden on Friday is set to call for an end of normal trade relations with Russia, clearing the way for increased tariffs on Russian imports, according to people familiar with the matter
  • The Senate passed a full year $1.5 trillion federal funding bill that wards off a possible government shutdown while also providing Ukraine with aid to respond to the Russian invasion of its territory
  • ECB Governing Council member Olli Rehn says the central bank on Thursday decided that the gradual normalization of monetary policy can continue and that the calibration of net purchases of securities will depend on data and reflect an “evolving assessment” of the outlook
  • The ECB’s decisions on Thursday mean there’s no longer an automatic link between the end of net asset purchases and possible interest-rate increases, Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau says
  • European equities broke last week’s record for outflows, while investors bought U.S. stocks, materials and gold as war rages in Ukraine, according to Bank of America strategists citing BofA and EPFR Global data
  • Global investors are losing faith in China’s ability to navigate an increasingly complex maze of challenges. The war in Ukraine raises the specter of harsh sanctions being applied to Chinese firms should they proceed with plans to acquire stakes in Russian energy and materials producers

A more detailed looka t global markets courtesy of newsquawk

Asian markets reflected overnight losses in the U.S. market. The MSCI index of Asian stocks capped its fourth consecutive weekly decline as a technology gauge in Hong Kong slumped more than 6% early in the session, after the U.S. identified five Chinese firms that could be delisted,before a burst of afternoon buying by China's PPT salvaged some of the plunge.

Top Asian News

  • Didi Said to Halt Hong Kong Listing on Cybersecurity Probe
  • China Move to Boost Yuan-Ruble Trading Meets Dire Liquidity
  • Logan Cut Deeper into Junk; Bonds Decline: Evergrande Update
  • China Markets in Turmoil as Russia Ties Add to List of Risks

European bourses are firmer, Euro Stoxx 50 +3.0%, and were back around cash-open parameters after a choppy first-half to the session; however, President Putin's remarks have sparked further risk-on. US futures are firmer across the board and derived recent upside from the Russian President, ES +1.3%, though magnitudes are somewhat more contained amid a thin US docket. In terms of the European sectors, cyclicals are outperforming with Energy/Retail among the top performers throughout the morning. France is said to be mulling reviving plans to nationalise EDF (EDF FP), according to Bloomberg sources. UK CMA and European Commission are launching parallel probes into the "Jedi Blue" agreement between Alphabet's (GOOG) Google and Meta's (FB).

Top European News

  • European Gas Set for Record Weekly Drop on Extreme Volatility
  • Wizz Air Leads Travel-Stock Rebound on HSBC Upgrade
  • Pearson Shares Rise Following Betaville ‘Uncooked Alert’ Mention
  • India is Said to Consider Rupee Payments for Trade With Russia

In FX, the DXY firmer, but off highs, around 98.500 after recent steep retreat as acceleration in US CPI underpins Fed tightening expectations, but with safe-havens and USD paring amid Russia's Ukraine commentary. Yen folds amidst multiple bearish factors, including rates, risk, fiscal and technical impulses; USD/JPY probed 117.00 after breaching prior YTD twin peaks. Aussie also underperforming as RBA Governor Lowe keeps markets guessing on a 2022 rate hike, AUD/USD is back under 0.7350 and nearer round number below. Euro trying to find its feet following sharp post-ECB reversal that saw EUR/USD snap-back from 1.1100+ peaks to sub-1.1000 again; lifting to a new high of 1.1042 post-Putin. Rouble maintains and extends on recovery momentum as prospects  for a Russia/Ukraine Presidential talks persist, but Lira continues to weaken as Turkish IP falls short of expectations and CBRT survey reveals another jump in end 2022 inflation projections; USD/RUB circa 113.7500, USD/TRY on brink of 15.000.

In commodities, WTI and Brent futures are firmer on the day with initial upside bolstered by a pause in Iranian talks, whilst upside pared amid constructive remarks from Russian President Putin. G7 is looking at measures to halt gas price hikes and called on oil and gas producers to increase deliveries, according to AFP. Canada is examining boosting oil pipeline flows to the US and is conducting the analysis to ramp up pipeline flows with the industry, according to Reuters citing natural resources minister Wilkinson  who expects to have an answer of what Canada can do as soon as next week. Kuwait set April KEC OSP for Asia at Oman/Dubai + USD 4.80/bbl, according to Reuters. Qatar sold May-loading Al-Shaheen and Marine crude at record premiums of USD 11-12/bbl above Dubai quotes. Spot gold fell further below USD 2,000/oz amid a Putin-induced unwind. LME copper extends gains above USD 10k/t as risk appetite buoys the red metal

In fixed income, core EZ debt remains mildly divergent at the end of another bleak week, as Bunds suffer post-APP taper hangover.
However, benchmarks dropped in tandem to fresh lows sending the US/German 10yr yields back to 2.0% and 0.30% respectively following Putin's update. BTPs have regrouped after pronounced ECB fallout with supply out of the way. USTs are now unchanged after initial firmer performance though the curve continues its post-supply flattening.

US Event Calendar

  • 10am: March U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 61.0, prior 62.8
    • Expectations, est. 57.0, prior 59.4
    • Current Conditions, est. 65.8, prior 68.2
    • 1 Yr Inflation, est. 5.0%, prior 4.9%; 5-10 Yr Inflation, prior 3.0%

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

It's a sign of the times that we have 1140 more words today until we get to a 7.9% US CPI print and also that hardly anyone cared about a 41.8% YoY Italian PPI print yesterday. The Russian/Ukraine conflict and a hawkish (relative to expectations) ECB meeting dominated the headlines. In fact it probably wasn't too far from the ECB meeting we expected before the invasion. More on this below.

Asia has started on a weaker note this morning. The Hang Seng (-3.63%) is leading losses as Chinese tech stocks listed in Hong Kong slumped after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) indicated that it has put five Chinese firms on a provisional waitlist for delisting from the US exchanges. Elsewhere the Shanghai Composite (-2.16%) and CSI (-2.44%) are also trading down. Also challenging the mainland Chinese stocks are the latest covid numbers as Beijing reported 1,000 new local cases - the highest daily count in two years. Meanwhile, the Nikkei (-2.36%) and the Kospi (-1.14%) are also weak this morning. S&P 500 (-0.35%) and Nasdaq (-0.62%) futures (-0.30%) are also down.

Before this, last night European Union leaders met in Versailles, but without anything materially to shift the outlook at the moment. Indeed, President Macron managed expectations by noting the summit will lead to historic decisions for Europe in the coming weeks, so more to come. What we did get from the meeting included reports that EU leaders disagreed about the desirability of paving the way to swift EU membership for Ukraine. Also out of the meeting, following reports of an updated energy strategy earlier in the week, EC President Leyen is proposing measures to reduce reliance on Russian gas and oil by 2027.

When it comes to the conflict itself, markets adopted a more risk-off posture yesterday, even if the S&P 500 (-0.43%) closed well off the lows before a slight reversal again in Asia as mentioned above. The meeting of the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers failed to produce the progress that some had hoped for. While expectations weren’t exactly high for the talks, there had been a slight shift in Russia’s language ahead of the meeting on regime change, and Ukrainian President Zelensky himself had said the previous day that he was prepared for certain compromises, which contributed to that stronger investor optimism we saw on Wednesday. But yesterday there was a more negative tone from the meeting, with Ukraine’s foreign minister Kuleba saying of Russian foreign minister Lavrov that “The broad narrative he conveyed to me is that they will continue their aggression until Ukraine meets their demands, and the least of these demands is surrender”. So no signs of a ceasefire being instituted any time soon.

Against that backdrop, there was intense focus on the ECB (see our economists' review here) as they made their first policy decision since Russia’s invasion. They adopted a more hawkish position than had been anticipated by announcing a faster reduction in their asset purchases, which led to a sharp selloff in sovereign bonds as well as a significant widening in peripheral spreads, which meant we saw another day of multi-year records. Indeed, yields on 10yr bunds were up +5.6bps yesterday, bringing their gains since the start of the week to a massive +34.3bps. Even if they’re unchanged today, that would still mark their biggest weekly increase since June 2015, when they rose +35.7bps. Furthermore, the widening in the Italian 10yr spread over bunds yesterday (+16.7bps) was the largest daily widening since April 2020. It's quite clear that the ECB won't allow Italian spreads to gap out but they also probably won't devise a policy tool to deal with it until it threatens to. So the market may need to push for it if it wants it.

In terms of the decision itself, the ECB described Russia’s invasion as a “watershed for Europe”, and pledged to take “whatever action is needed to fulfil the ECB’s mandate to pursue price stability and to safeguard financial stability.” On immediate policy moves, they said that net purchases under their Asset Purchase Programme would go from €40bn in April to €30bn in May and then €20bn in June, and said that they may end purchases in Q3. That came as their inflation forecast for 2022 was upgraded to +5.1% (vs. +3.2% in December), and 2023 was upgraded to +2.1% (vs. +1.8% in December). And in another hawkish move, they also dropped the reference to interest rates potentially moving lower, only saying that rates would remain “at their present levels” until their forward guidance conditions were met, rather than “present or lower levels”. So overall it looks like the concerns about inflation (which is currently at the highest since the formation of the single currency) have dominated the uncertainties presented by the invasion of Ukraine, and overnight index swaps are now pricing in more than 40bps worth of moves this year (+7.6bps on the day) from the ECB for the first time since the conflict began.

That more hawkish-than-anticipated ECB outcome along with the more negative signals from the Russia-Ukraine talks saw equities lose ground on both sides of the Atlantic, with the S&P 500 (-0.43%), after being as much as -1.59% lower intraday, and still leaving it up +2.13% over the last two days. The STOXX 600 shed -1.69% but finished at roughly the same levels as before the ECB announcement. Tech stocks led the US declines, and similarly put in a large round trip performance, with the NASDAQ as low as -2.33% intraday before finishing the session at -0.95%. Megacap stocks were the hardest hit as the FANG+ index fell -2.09%. Despite the price retreat and roundtrips, the VIX fell for a third straight day, falling -2.22ppts. Nevertheless, the VIX has now closed above 30pts for 9 straight days, the longest run since June 2020, and on 11 of the last 12 days. Despite the late pullback in oil prices (more in a second), energy was the clear outperformer, with S&P 500 energy stocks gaining +3.07%. This continues this year’s trend where not only are energy stocks the sole S&P 500 sector in the green YTD, they’re up +38.51%.

Speaking of intraday volatility, oil put in another roller coaster session. Brent futures increased +6.49% in the New York morning before falling -1.63% to $109.33/bbl to end the day. Following a day where it looked like some OPEC members would break rank, the Iraqi oil minister noted that “OPEC will stay with the program”, but would make the right decision to increase production should real shortages result from the war. The discrete drop in oil prices happened when President Putin announced that Russia would honor its energy commitments, ameliorating concern that there would be shortages to contend with in the first place. European natural gas likewise fell, as the front futures contract dropped -14.68%, bringing prices -41.46% lower over the last three days.

So 1140 words later, and with all those other events yesterday, the US CPI release for February took something of a back seat, not least since the numbers were exactly in line with consensus for both headline and core, meaning the direct market reaction was pretty limited. In fact US Treasuries saw their biggest shift of the day around the time of the ECB meeting and were basically unaffected by the CPI, with yields on 10yr Treasuries up +3.8bps to 1.99%, whilst the 2yr yield (+2.1bps) hit its highest level since September 2019, at 1.70%. 30 year yields increased +3.2bps to 2.37%, their highest levels for 10 months. In terms of the CPI details, the release saw year-on-year CPI rise to +7.9%, which is the highest in 40 years, and the month-on-month print rose to +0.8%, which was the fastest monthly price growth since October. Core also accelerated to +6.4% year-on-year, which was similarly a post-1982 high. I mentioned the release in my chart of the day yesterday (link here), since it means that the real Federal Funds rate has now fallen to fresh lows once again, and continues to remain beneath levels seen throughout the entirety of the inflationary 1970s.

To the day ahead now, and data releases include the UK’s GDP for January, whilst in the US there’s the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for March. Otherwise, central bank speakers include the ECB’s Rehn and Centeno.

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/11/2022 - 07:52

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Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Authored by Michael Barone via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The headlines coming out of the Super…



Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Authored by Michael Barone via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The headlines coming out of the Super Tuesday primaries have got it right. Barring cataclysmic changes, Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be the Republican and Democratic nominees for president in 2024.

(Left) President Joe Biden delivers remarks on canceling student debt at Culver City Julian Dixon Library in Culver City, Calif., on Feb. 21, 2024. (Right) Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump stands on stage during a campaign event at Big League Dreams Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nev., on Jan. 27, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images; David Becker/Getty Images)

With Nikki Haley’s withdrawal, there will be no more significantly contested primaries or caucuses—the earliest both parties’ races have been over since something like the current primary-dominated system was put in place in 1972.

The primary results have spotlighted some of both nominees’ weaknesses.

Donald Trump lost high-income, high-educated constituencies, including the entire metro area—aka the Swamp. Many but by no means all Haley votes there were cast by Biden Democrats. Mr. Trump can’t afford to lose too many of the others in target states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Majorities and large minorities of voters in overwhelmingly Latino counties in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley and some in Houston voted against Joe Biden, and even more against Senate nominee Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas).

Returns from Hispanic precincts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts show the same thing. Mr. Biden can’t afford to lose too many Latino votes in target states like Arizona and Georgia.

When Mr. Trump rode down that escalator in 2015, commentators assumed he’d repel Latinos. Instead, Latino voters nationally, and especially the closest eyewitnesses of Biden’s open-border policy, have been trending heavily Republican.

High-income liberal Democrats may sport lawn signs proclaiming, “In this house, we believe ... no human is illegal.” The logical consequence of that belief is an open border. But modest-income folks in border counties know that flows of illegal immigrants result in disorder, disease, and crime.

There is plenty of impatience with increased disorder in election returns below the presidential level. Consider Los Angeles County, America’s largest county, with nearly 10 million people, more people than 40 of the 50 states. It voted 71 percent for Mr. Biden in 2020.

Current returns show county District Attorney George Gascon winning only 21 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan primary. He’ll apparently face Republican Nathan Hochman, a critic of his liberal policies, in November.

Gascon, elected after the May 2020 death of counterfeit-passing suspect George Floyd in Minneapolis, is one of many county prosecutors supported by billionaire George Soros. His policies include not charging juveniles as adults, not seeking higher penalties for gang membership or use of firearms, and bringing fewer misdemeanor cases.

The predictable result has been increased car thefts, burglaries, and personal robberies. Some 120 assistant district attorneys have left the office, and there’s a backlog of 10,000 unprosecuted cases.

More than a dozen other Soros-backed and similarly liberal prosecutors have faced strong opposition or have left office.

St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner resigned last May amid lawsuits seeking her removal, Milwaukee’s John Chisholm retired in January, and Baltimore’s Marilyn Mosby was defeated in July 2022 and convicted of perjury in September 2023. Last November, Loudoun County, Virginia, voters (62 percent Biden) ousted liberal Buta Biberaj, who declined to prosecute a transgender student for assault, and in June 2022 voters in San Francisco (85 percent Biden) recalled famed radical Chesa Boudin.

Similarly, this Tuesday, voters in San Francisco passed ballot measures strengthening police powers and requiring treatment of drug-addicted welfare recipients.

In retrospect, it appears the Floyd video, appearing after three months of COVID-19 confinement, sparked a frenzied, even crazed reaction, especially among the highly educated and articulate. One fatal incident was seen as proof that America’s “systemic racism” was worse than ever and that police forces should be defunded and perhaps abolished.

2020 was “the year America went crazy,” I wrote in January 2021, a year in which police funding was actually cut by Democrats in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver. A year in which young New York Times (NYT) staffers claimed they were endangered by the publication of Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) opinion article advocating calling in military forces if necessary to stop rioting, as had been done in Detroit in 1967 and Los Angeles in 1992. A craven NYT publisher even fired the editorial page editor for running the article.

Evidence of visible and tangible discontent with increasing violence and its consequences—barren and locked shelves in Manhattan chain drugstores, skyrocketing carjackings in Washington, D.C.—is as unmistakable in polls and election results as it is in daily life in large metropolitan areas. Maybe 2024 will turn out to be the year even liberal America stopped acting crazy.

Chaos and disorder work against incumbents, as they did in 1968 when Democrats saw their party’s popular vote fall from 61 percent to 43 percent.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or ZeroHedge.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 23:20

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Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

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




Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

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

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reviewed no data when deciding in 2023 to keep its COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place.

Doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in Washington in a file image. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

VA Secretary Denis McDonough said on May 1, 2023, that the end of many other federal mandates “will not impact current policies at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

He said the mandate was remaining for VA health care personnel “to ensure the safety of veterans and our colleagues.”

Mr. McDonough did not cite any studies or other data. A VA spokesperson declined to provide any data that was reviewed when deciding not to rescind the mandate. The Epoch Times submitted a Freedom of Information Act for “all documents outlining which data was relied upon when establishing the mandate when deciding to keep the mandate in place.”

The agency searched for such data and did not find any.

The VA does not even attempt to justify its policies with science, because it can’t,” Leslie Manookian, president and founder of the Health Freedom Defense Fund, told The Epoch Times.

“The VA just trusts that the process and cost of challenging its unfounded policies is so onerous, most people are dissuaded from even trying,” she added.

The VA’s mandate remains in place to this day.

The VA’s website claims that vaccines “help protect you from getting severe illness” and “offer good protection against most COVID-19 variants,” pointing in part to observational data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that estimate the vaccines provide poor protection against symptomatic infection and transient shielding against hospitalization.

There have also been increasing concerns among outside scientists about confirmed side effects like heart inflammation—the VA hid a safety signal it detected for the inflammation—and possible side effects such as tinnitus, which shift the benefit-risk calculus.

President Joe Biden imposed a slate of COVID-19 vaccine mandates in 2021. The VA was the first federal agency to implement a mandate.

President Biden rescinded the mandates in May 2023, citing a drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. His administration maintains the choice to require vaccines was the right one and saved lives.

“Our administration’s vaccination requirements helped ensure the safety of workers in critical workforces including those in the healthcare and education sectors, protecting themselves and the populations they serve, and strengthening their ability to provide services without disruptions to operations,” the White House said.

Some experts said requiring vaccination meant many younger people were forced to get a vaccine despite the risks potentially outweighing the benefits, leaving fewer doses for older adults.

By mandating the vaccines to younger people and those with natural immunity from having had COVID, older people in the U.S. and other countries did not have access to them, and many people might have died because of that,” Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine on leave from Harvard Medical School, told The Epoch Times previously.

The VA was one of just a handful of agencies to keep its mandate in place following the removal of many federal mandates.

“At this time, the vaccine requirement will remain in effect for VA health care personnel, including VA psychologists, pharmacists, social workers, nursing assistants, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, peer specialists, medical support assistants, engineers, housekeepers, and other clinical, administrative, and infrastructure support employees,” Mr. McDonough wrote to VA employees at the time.

This also includes VA volunteers and contractors. Effectively, this means that any Veterans Health Administration (VHA) employee, volunteer, or contractor who works in VHA facilities, visits VHA facilities, or provides direct care to those we serve will still be subject to the vaccine requirement at this time,” he said. “We continue to monitor and discuss this requirement, and we will provide more information about the vaccination requirements for VA health care employees soon. As always, we will process requests for vaccination exceptions in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.”

The version of the shots cleared in the fall of 2022, and available through the fall of 2023, did not have any clinical trial data supporting them.

A new version was approved in the fall of 2023 because there were indications that the shots not only offered temporary protection but also that the level of protection was lower than what was observed during earlier stages of the pandemic.

Ms. Manookian, whose group has challenged several of the federal mandates, said that the mandate “illustrates the dangers of the administrative state and how these federal agencies have become a law unto themselves.”

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 22:10

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Low Iron Levels In Blood Could Trigger Long COVID: Study

Low Iron Levels In Blood Could Trigger Long COVID: Study

Authored by Amie Dahnke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

People with inadequate…



Low Iron Levels In Blood Could Trigger Long COVID: Study

Authored by Amie Dahnke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

People with inadequate iron levels in their blood due to a COVID-19 infection could be at greater risk of long COVID.


A new study indicates that problems with iron levels in the bloodstream likely trigger chronic inflammation and other conditions associated with the post-COVID phenomenon. The findings, published on March 1 in Nature Immunology, could offer new ways to treat or prevent the condition.

Long COVID Patients Have Low Iron Levels

Researchers at the University of Cambridge pinpointed low iron as a potential link to long-COVID symptoms thanks to a study they initiated shortly after the start of the pandemic. They recruited people who tested positive for the virus to provide blood samples for analysis over a year, which allowed the researchers to look for post-infection changes in the blood. The researchers looked at 214 samples and found that 45 percent of patients reported symptoms of long COVID that lasted between three and 10 months.

In analyzing the blood samples, the research team noticed that people experiencing long COVID had low iron levels, contributing to anemia and low red blood cell production, just two weeks after they were diagnosed with COVID-19. This was true for patients regardless of age, sex, or the initial severity of their infection.

According to one of the study co-authors, the removal of iron from the bloodstream is a natural process and defense mechanism of the body.

But it can jeopardize a person’s recovery.

When the body has an infection, it responds by removing iron from the bloodstream. This protects us from potentially lethal bacteria that capture the iron in the bloodstream and grow rapidly. It’s an evolutionary response that redistributes iron in the body, and the blood plasma becomes an iron desert,” University of Oxford professor Hal Drakesmith said in a press release. “However, if this goes on for a long time, there is less iron for red blood cells, so oxygen is transported less efficiently affecting metabolism and energy production, and for white blood cells, which need iron to work properly. The protective mechanism ends up becoming a problem.”

The research team believes that consistently low iron levels could explain why individuals with long COVID continue to experience fatigue and difficulty exercising. As such, the researchers suggested iron supplementation to help regulate and prevent the often debilitating symptoms associated with long COVID.

It isn’t necessarily the case that individuals don’t have enough iron in their body, it’s just that it’s trapped in the wrong place,” Aimee Hanson, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge who worked on the study, said in the press release. “What we need is a way to remobilize the iron and pull it back into the bloodstream, where it becomes more useful to the red blood cells.”

The research team pointed out that iron supplementation isn’t always straightforward. Achieving the right level of iron varies from person to person. Too much iron can cause stomach issues, ranging from constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain to gastritis and gastric lesions.

1 in 5 Still Affected by Long COVID

COVID-19 has affected nearly 40 percent of Americans, with one in five of those still suffering from symptoms of long COVID, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Long COVID is marked by health issues that continue at least four weeks after an individual was initially diagnosed with COVID-19. Symptoms can last for days, weeks, months, or years and may include fatigue, cough or chest pain, headache, brain fog, depression or anxiety, digestive issues, and joint or muscle pain.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 12:50

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