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Luongo: The G-7 Squawks But They’ve Already Lost The War Against Russia

Luongo: The G-7 Squawks But They’ve Already Lost The War Against Russia

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, ‘n Guns blog,

So, the G-7…

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Luongo: The G-7 Squawks But They've Already Lost The War Against Russia

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

So, the G-7 leaders are in agreement, more war with Russia. Without actually saying exactly that, that was the main takeaway from he meeting of the most feckless leaders in the world.

They also pledged $600 billion they don’t have to fund global infrastructure projects to ‘combat China’s Belt and Road Initiative.’ One wonders where all this money and, in the case of Europe, energy is going to come from to fund all of this.

But the question I’ve had from the beginning of this obvious war of attrition the West wants to impose on Russia is the following: Do we have the stamina, in terms of real production capacity, to cash these checks our leaders are writing?

A major report from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), one of the oldest military think tanks in the UK emphatically said not in anyone’s wildest dreams. Alex Mercouris of The Duran did an amazing job of breaking down what RUSI thought about NATO’s ability to wage war vs. Russia’s current military tempo, days before this idea caught fire.

In short, the gulf between NATO’s annual munition production and weekly consumption by the UAF is staggeringly vast.

I told you at the outset of this war that Russia was absolutely engaged in a war of attrition against the West, hoping NATO would take the bait of a ground war in Ukraine.  I didn’t have numbers to back this up, only the inference because of what I understood about Putin and his previous maneuvers against the West.

What’s obvious to me is the neocons and neoliberals controlling the West think they can turn Ukraine into a quagmire for Putin, but what if Putin thinks he can turn Ukraine into a quagmire for them?

Russia is not capable of conquering Europe. But he doesn’t need to to defeat them. He just needs to create a version of this map:

I knew that Putin wouldn’t commit Russia to this conflict if it couldn’t sustain fighting it.  I also knew that the West would LIE OUTRAGEOUSLY about the level of corruption within the Russian society to play on the biases of marginally-informed American armchair generals. 

Is the Russian system perfect?  No.  Is there corruption? Yes. But it’s complete nonsense to think it wouldn’t be uncovered and stripped out of all branches of the Russian military/industrial complex during the initial military gambit. The shifts made by Russia strategically and in terms of personnel have set it up for the long haul, fighting a type of war they are very good at and which the US and NATO left the UAF mostly defenseless against.

Now, with sanctions further hollowing out the US’s and Europe’s economies and the “leadership” of the buffoons that just met in Germany, Russia is in the driver’s seat to grind out a victory in Ukraine and leave the West depleted of weapons if the current situation goes on without a course correction.

The point made by RUSI is that it may not be possible to course correct in time (or ever) in the time frame needed to affect the outcome in Ukraine, absent an unthinkable escalation.

The exhaustion we thought we would put to Russia, is the ultimate form of ‘sanctions boomerang’ on the West. To listen to RUSI tell the tale, we’re the ones without the capacity to fight if the conflict widens.

And yet, to listen to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken or National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, you would think Russia is still on the verge of collapse.

Now the G-7 think they have the power to set a global price cap on crude oil. I’ve told you time and again that Davos really does believe they have some kind of monopsony power over Russia’s exports. They still believe that their thirst for energy, food, industrial metals, fertilizer, etc. gives them power over Putin.

I remind you of this pivotal scene in Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises:

And Putin is the moderate within Russian power circles. There are a hundred Banes waiting in the wings happy to snap the necks of the John Daggetts he no longer needs to sell oil and gas to.

I’ve watched Putin for years.  I’ve seen him put pressure on his central bank and the bankers to reform the financial sector.  I’ve seen him publicly dress down and reform major industrial oligarchs in metals production.  Six plus years of military operations in Syria have given him a lot of data on how to execute a long-term strategy and find the break points of his logistics and operations.

And I’m sure that this war in Ukraine is as much another data gathering exercise for the capabilities of the West as much as it is a stress test on his own internal production systems.

Russia is now 4 months into this review.  Lots of people have been fired, jailed, etc.  The non-hackers are being weeded out.  Operations are leaning out.  

Now let’s look at the West.

The US under Biden is now amping up military spending, presumably to increase ammunition production levels.  But it may not be.  As Alex rightly points out, echoing points that Dexter White has discussed in the Gold Goats ‘n Guns newsletterkeiretsu or just-in-time manufacturing is how we operate here in the West.  That system is under massive stress thanks to the supply chain breakdown created by Davos over COVID-19.

While sanctions may have limited Russia’s ability to procure or maintain a large arsenal of its highest technology tanks and/or airplanes, again as Dexter has pointed out, it may not be relevant here because this isn’t a war of bleeding edge technology.

It’s a WWI style artillery war, which we are not prepared to fight.  Scott Ritter pointed out to me when we met at the recent Ron Paul Institute conference that NATO no longer trains in maneuver warfare.  While Russia’s combined forces training is limited, as evidenced in its attack on Kiev in February, the US’s major advantage has been severely curtailed by lack of training and readiness over the past couple of decades.  

So, what we have, overall, is a military picture with weak supply chains, limited ability to ramp production, and a military that hasn’t trained for sustained warfare on a mass scale.

This means that Biden’s expansion of the DoD’s budget to $813 billion this year may not even be what we think it means.  Instead of being a buildup to fight a wider war, this may seriously be just the last dip at the trough before the whole system comes crashing down.

Remember, that Davos wants the US destroyed.  It has assiduously hollowed out vital US manufacturing capability while simultaneously putting it in a fragile fiscal position with a divided and angry population.

The stage is set for internal conflict of a type and kind that we haven’t seen in over 150 years.  And we’re supposed to fight a war with Russia, a nuclear and conventional military powerhouse?

This is leaving aside the reality that if NATO declares open war on Russia that Blinkered Blinken and the anti-Diplomats have pushed China into being paranoid about our intentions over Taiwan.

The real stress test is happening now.  Ukraine is getting crushed under the weight of Russia’s ability to sustain an inhuman level of artillery bombardment.  The RUSI article only touches on the potential for Russia to continue its production of the needed munitions, but one gets the idea that these things are cheap and fully domestically sourced.

This has forced into the open the massive shortfall of industrial capacity in the West as well as fracturing the political leadership as to what they should ultimately do here.

Half of them want to continue the war in perpetuity. The other half want a ceasefire.  None of them would admit this at the G-7 meeting out of a need to not look weak or admit that the Russians have exposed them.  

It takes a staggering amount of energy to fight a sustained war.  The West is at the mercy of Russia to get that energy.

The next phase of this war is now the complete divorce of Europe from the Russian energy complex at prices that can’t keep Europe from sinking into depression if not outright depravity.

To achieve this, these out-of-touch narcissists think they can set a limit on what they will pay for a barrel of oil? I thought I’d heard it all in this life, but this is almost as delusional as the average Libs of TikTok video post Roe v. Wade’s demise.

The financial war of attrition against the West I’ve discussed at length for months is the reality of the day.  Ultimately without energy or the money to procure or produce it, there is no real conventional war. Industrial warfare having returned, as is the premise of the RUSI article, has already determined the outcome in Ukraine.

This is just part of the reason why Henry Kissinger urged at this year’s Davos meeting to open up talks and begin the negotiations. It seems at this point his admonishments have fallen on deaf ears. Given the average age of the idiots making these decisions, this is, of course, not surprising.

Davos has set the US up for complete humiliation in Ukraine, sacrificed thousands of Ukrainians, bankrupted millions of Europeans and corrupted hundred of millions sustaining a vast bureaucracy incapable of responding to the growing needs of a failing system.

The sad part is this:  They think they are #winning, because so much of this is going according to plan. They are missing the big parts about destroying the US too quickly in the process, if you want it to fight your war to cover your bankruptcy.

Russia and China will cut Europe off from global trade if Europe defaults on its debt, which ECB President Christine Lagarde just told the world she is ready to do.  The Fed’s hawkishness is already destroying the Eurodollar markets, the source of Davos’ power.  

The vestiges of US Federalism still function at a high enough level to thwart all of their plans. c.f. the SCOTUS decisions last week and Ron DeSantis’ track record as Florida Governor.

Speaking of DeSantis, he’s rapidly emerging as the front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2024.

So, in conclusion this is what I see next:

  • Russia will not stop with their victory in Donbass

  • They will take Nikolaev, Kharkov and Odessa (Note Russian spelling, screw the BBC!).

  • Russia will not take the bait over Kaliningrad, but will cut off all gas to Germany.

  • The German government will fall, but it won’t matter b/c the Greens, who set policy, control the Bundesrat.

  • Russia will continue to not give Davos the excuse to start WWIII, even with Finland and Sweden entering the alliance.

  • They will keep upping the stakes while further exposing the emptiness of their threats.

  • The Biden Admin. will keep trying to start a war over Taiwan

  • Eventually China will oblige them, even though they don’t want to.

  • Bulgaria’s collapse is just the start of the end of the EU in Eastern Europe.

  • NATO will either collapse or nukes will fly…. I’m still betting on the former.

  • Erdogan caving over NATO expansion means Putin will oppose him in Syria.

  • The Fed will continue raising rates while the ECB hangs on for dear life.

In desperation I expect a false flag provocation to force the Russians into a move or simply justify the Davos pulling us into their next war, i.e. another virus or chemical weapons attack this time blamed on Putin.

The goal of this project is an independent Europe, a broken US and vassalage for Asia.

They will achieve, at best, one of those three things.  An independent, but broken Europe under the vassalage of Russia and China, the the US retreats and licks its wounds. That’s the future I see now, if the nukes don’t fly.

Tyler Durden Fri, 07/01/2022 - 02:00

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide…

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020, some elite colleges and universities shredded testing requirements for admission. Several years later, the test-optional admission has yet to produce the promising results for racial and class-based equity that many woke academic institutions wished.

The failure of test-optional admission policies has forced Dartmouth College to reinstate standardized test scores for admission starting next year. This should never have been eliminated, as merit will always prevail. 

"Nearly four years later, having studied the role of testing in our admissions process as well as its value as a predictor of student success at Dartmouth, we are removing the extended pause and reactivating the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate admission, effective with the Class of 2029," Dartmouth wrote in a press release Monday morning. 

"For Dartmouth, the evidence supporting our reactivation of a required testing policy is clear. Our bottom line is simple: we believe a standardized testing requirement will improve—not detract from—our ability to bring the most promising and diverse students to our campus," the elite college said. 

Who would've thought eliminating standardized tests for admission because a fringe minority said they were instruments of racism and a biased system was ever a good idea? 

Also, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. More from Dartmouth, who commissioned the research: 

They also found that test scores represent an especially valuable tool to identify high-achieving applicants from low and middle-income backgrounds; who are first-generation college-bound; as well as students from urban and rural backgrounds.

All the colleges and universities that quickly adopted test-optional admissions in 2020 experienced a surge in applications. Perhaps the push for test-optional was under the guise of woke equality but was nothing more than protecting the bottom line for these institutions. 

A glimpse of sanity returns to woke schools: Admit qualified kids. Next up is corporate America and all tiers of the US government. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/05/2024 - 17:20

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Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

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To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

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Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


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