In “Explosive” Lawsuit Walmart Sues Tesla Over Solar Panel Fires, Claims SolarCity Purchase Was A Bailout

Until now, the general public was only aware of the remarkable ability of Tesla cars to spontaneously combust, that is at least when they are not smashing into random things while on autopilot. It now appears that Tesla’s solar panels (some may be unaware that several years ago, Elon Musk tried to unsuccessfully pivot Tesla into a solar power company as well as that’s where a few billion in government subsidies were to be found) are just as combustible.

On Tuesday, Walmart sued Tesla, after its solar panels atop seven of the retailer’s stores allegedly caught fire, alleging breach of contract, gross negligence and failure to live up to industry standards. Walmart is asking Tesla to remove solar panels from more than 240 Walmart locations where they have been installed, and to pay damages related to all the fires Walmart says that Tesla caused.

Walmart said it had leased or licensed roof space on top of more than 240 stores to Tesla’s energy operations unit, formerly known as SolarCity (which was basically a bailout by Elon Musk for Elon Musk who was also the largest SolarCity shareholder), for the installation and operation of solar systems. But as of November, fires had broken out at no fewer than seven of the stores, forcing the disconnection of all the solar panel systems for the safety of the public.

The breach-of-contract suit by Walmart, which was filed in the state of New York, alleges that: “As of November 2018, no fewer than seven Walmart stores had experienced fires due to Tesla’s solar systems-including the four fires described above and three others that had occurred earlier.” The fires resulted in evacuations, damaged property and inventory.

Walmart’s inspectors additionally found that Tesla “had engaged in widespread, systemic negligence and had failed to abide by prudent industry practices in installing, operating and maintaining its solar systems.’

Walmart also claimed that “Tesla routinely deployed individuals to inspect the solar systems who lacked basic solar training and knowledge and also alleged that Tesla failed to ground its solar and electrical systems properly, and that Tesla-installed solar panels on-site at Walmart stores contained a high number of defects that were visible to the naked eye, including loose and hanging wires at several locations, and which Tesla should have found and repaired before they led to fires.

It gets better: according to the suit, Tesla’s own inspection reports revealed “improper wire management, including abraded and hanging wires,” as well as “poor grounding” and “solar panel modules that were broken or contained dangerous hotspots.”

To state the obvious, properly designed, installed, inspected and maintained solar systems do not spontaneously combust, and the occurrence of multiple fires involving Tesla’s solar systems is but one unmistakable sign of negligence by Tesla,” Walmart said in the suit. “To this day, Tesla has not provided Walmart with the complete set of final ‘root cause’ analyses needed to identify the precise defects in its systems that caused all of the fires described above.”

Walmart said the first fire broke out at a store in Beavercreek, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton, in March 2018, and two more fires occurred at stores in California and Maryland in May of that year. While Tesla disconnected the panels at Walmart’s request that same month, it wasn’t enough to stop fires from occurring, and another blaze broke out in November at a store in Yuba City, California.

Ironically, the lawsuit comes at a time when Tesla has been trying to salvage its collapsing solar business; on Sunday, Elon Musk announced in a string of tweets which reeked of desperation that customers in some states can now rent Tesla’s residential, solar rooftop systems without a contract. The offer is available in six states, and will cost customers at least $50 a month (or $65 a month in California). And although Musk touted the ease of cancelling a rented roof at anytime, CNBC noted that the fine print on Tesla’s website mentions a $1,500 fee to take out the solar panels and restore the customer’s roof.

There is a reason why Tesla is basically giving the spontaneously combustible solar panels away: In the second quarter, Tesla installed a mere 29 megawatts of solar, a record low for the company in a single quarter. In its heyday, Tesla’s solar division (formerly SolarCity) installed over 200 megawatts in a single quarter.

But wait there is more.

As if allegations of shoddy quality control, dismal workmanship and overall blatant lack of professionalism weren’t enough, Walmart also “went there” and in the “explosive”, pun not intended 114-page lawsuit, piled onto a long-running controversy according to which Tesla bailed out a failing SolarCity in 2016 when it purchased the company for $2.6 billion (Elon Musk was also the biggest shareholder of SolarCity at the time, while Tesla’s Elon Musk bought out SolarCity in a gross conflict of interest), with WalMart highlighting the familial ties between Tesla and SolarCity as the underpinnings of a flawed merger that allegedly produced shoddy craftsmanship and led to fires at seven Walmart stores.

“On information and belief, when Tesla purchased SolarCity to bail out the flailing company (whose executives included two of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s first cousins), Tesla failed to correct SolarCity’s chaotic installation practices or to adopt adequate maintenance protocols, which would have been particularly important in light of the improper installation practices,” Walmart claimed in a suit that is sure to draw regulators attention to the 2016 deal that should never have been allowed. As shown in the diagram above, SolarCity co-founders Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive are Musk’s cousins, while Musk was the largest shareholder of both companies.

So already facing a slumping stock price from dozens of lawsuits and investigations, store closings, delayed loan repayments and the departure of key executives, CNBC notes that the Walmart suit lands at a particularly difficult time for Tesla and Musk. Specifically in regards to SolarCity, Musk was slated to be deposed earlier this month in a complaint brought by shareholders over the deal.

The name “SolarCity” shows up 46 times in the lawsuit, which alleges the company had a failed business model, stemming from a goal to speed up revenue growth at all costs.

“Walmart’s experience bears out Tesla, Inc.’s and Tesla’s inability to turn around and bail out the solar panel operations acquired from SolarCity,” the suit says.

* * *

Walmart is asking a judge to declare Tesla in breach of contract, order the company to remove the solar panels from all of its stores and award damages equal to its costs and consulting fees in connection with the fires.

Tesla shares fell as much as 1.7% to $222.70 as of 6:45 p.m. in after hours trading. The stock is down 32% this year.

The case is Walmart Inc. v. Tesla Energy Operations, New York State Supreme Court, New York County; Index No.  654765/2019.

The full lawsuit is below

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Author: Tyler Durden

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The Death Of The 60/40 Portfolio

Submitted by Guy Haselmann, macro strategist

After almost 70 years of success, the 60/40 portfolio investment approach has become too risky and structurally incapable of meeting its intended objectives. It needs revisiting.

First a bit of background. A 60/40 portfolio, which divides assets between equities and bonds, has been the standard for most personal investment portfolios. It is the starting point for many wealth advisors who might recommend a percent adjustment based on age; whereas, for instance, a higher equity allocation is recommended for younger people.

Foundations of the 60/40 portfolio emerged from Harry Markowitz’s Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) work in the 1950’s which won him the Nobel Prize. It is also the basis on which today’s robo-advising algorithms are written. Yet, MPT never envisioned a world where someone has to pay to lend money. Today, we have $15 trillion worth of bonds with a negative nominal yield and trillions more whose yield is less than the rate of inflation. It is extraordinary to think that an investor can receive no compensation for assuming interest rate risk, and in some cases, for taking credit risk either.  

Many passive institutional investors use products, funds or ETFs that track the now flawed Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index (Agg) as their core fixed-income allocation. With well over 9,000 bonds in the index, it is certainly well diversified, but the top two components – Treasuries and Mortgage Backed Securities – now have an 84% correlation. In addition, the Agg is weighted toward the companies and agencies that have the greatest debt. Having a large amount of debt might indicate a bigger company, but it doesn’t necessarily make for a better bond investment.

Today the Agg yields 2.20% with duration of 5.6 years. There is also an index for global bonds, the Barclays Global Aggregate Index, which yields 1.22% with a duration of 7 years. These results should be considered ‘return free risk’ rather than a ‘risk free return’. Objectives of a complete portfolio break down even further when investors sell low or negative-yielding fixed income securities and indexes, and replace them with dividend paying stocks.

For over a half-century, the two-asset 60/40 stock and bond portfolio did an excellent job providing the four main goals of a sound portfolio: growth, inflation-protection, income and down-side protection. Stocks would typically benefit over time from the first two objectives and bonds from the latter two.

There is no doubt that realized returns from 60/40-type portfolios have been extraordinary; and, even more so in recent years due to the “Everything Bubble”- which is the result of excessive accommodation from global central banks. The strategy has provided a wonderful, convenient and easy way to structure a simple portfolio and still achieve the intended objectives of the portfolio. However, bonds have been in a bull market since 1982 and may have reached their practical limits, and US stock market capitalization has risen to an astounding 164% of GDP.

Unfortunately, the Everything Bubble has also elevated correlations, disfigured the proper functioning of capital markets, destroyed price discovery, and pushed securities to valuations levels which no longer justify many of the risks being assumed. The 60/40 strategy is now ineffectual and too risky. Stated differently, a diversified, but long-only, mix of stocks and bonds, is no longer a safe, balanced or prudent portfolio structure.

Since the great financial crisis of 2008, the Fed has changed investor psychology. During this period, investors developed a “fear of missing out” and were encouraged to engage in risk-seeking behavior. The Everything Bubble led by stocks and bonds prices soaring to record levels was an intended goal for central bankers. Simultaneously, the Fed eased many fears of downside risk by providing a “put,”  or instilling the belief that the Fed was ready to provide ever-more market stimulus at the first signs of any market, or economic, wobble.

Markets have come to rely on central bank actions too heavily.  Central banks have limited tools and do not have the ability to fix underlying problems. Today’s investment environment with negative rates and the Everything Bubble is unsustainable. After 11 years of financial repression and wild market speculation, the setting is ripe for a “Minsky Moment” whereby stocks and bonds snap violently lower without central banks having the power to stop or prevent the crash. Unfolding global currency wars, with their corresponding geo-political tensions, could easily be the catalyst for a “Minsky Moment” and could mark the beginning and return of a 1970s-type of stagflation.

It is imperative for investors to keep the pervasive ‘psychology of bullishness’ in-check, particularly now that asset prices no longer reflect the underlying economic fundamentals which they are supposed to track. It is also imperative that investors understand that correlations between stocks and bonds have risen well-above the historical average, and thus no longer effectively provide the proper balance and attributes needed to achieve the four investment objectives outlined earlier.

Long-only stock and bond investors should immediately develop an action plan for making adjustments to their portfolio. Institutional investors and their trustees should re-evaluate which benchmarks, if any, are prudent to track. Individual investors should stop asking themselves “How can I beat the market?”, and, in an Everything Bubble world, should not even be asking “How can I match the market?” All bubbles eventually pop. Fear of missing the upside of a bigger stock and bond bubble fueled by central bank actions is a poor strategy, as well as being reckless and unwise.

When building or adjusting a portfolio, the question an investor should be asking is: “How can I can I achieve my life’s goals and my portfolio objectives with some degree of certainty?” Stocks and bonds represent only a small sliver of the investible landscape. There are hundreds of alternative investment exposures that investors can choose from today, many of which were not available in the past. Some examples include long/short strategies, peer-to-peer lending, TIPS, royalties, venture capital or real investment strategies, to name a few.  

In short, investors should seek a diversified portfolio whose components and exposures are non- or less-correlated and more idiosyncratic. Some of the goals of making these adjustments to the portfolio should be as follow: 1)Decrease correlations; 2)Increase current income; 3)Reduce risk and avoid losses in a down turn; 4)Maximize returns for the risks that one takes; 5)Align with the objectives of what is trying to be achieved; and/or, 6)Protect accumulated wealth against inflation and currency devaluation.

An active plan for adjusting portfolios will improve the balance between upside-capture and downside-risks. Of equal importance is that refocusing will increase the probability of meeting the portfolios intended objective with increased certainty, while steering it away from its reliance on central bank experimentation – a strategy whose success relies on inflating ever-bigger asset bubbles.

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Author: Tyler Durden

Facebook Bans “Women For Trump” Ads

With 14 months or so to go until the election, it appears Facebook has drawn a very clear line on what ads are and are not allowed on its precious safe-space.

As President Trump attempts to build support among women, tech site Gizmodo proudly reports that Facebook has banned Trump’s pro-women re-election ads.

The reason is simple – they target “women”.

The ad contravenes Facebook’s advertising guidelines which list thirty varieties of prohibited content, including “Asserting or implying Personal Attributes” – which includes gender (which includes being a “woman”)…

So, it would appear that daring to imply/infer the women in the image are women triggered Facebook’s pre-crime algos and got the harmless advertisement banned from the social media site.

The ad was reported to Facebook’s PC-police by the website ‘Popular Information’:

“We’ve notified the campaign that the ads violate policy. They can’t continue to run unless fixed,” a Facebook spokesperson told Popular Information.

However, as Natalie Winters notes, this is not an isolated incident.

An ad inviting donations in honor of First Lady Melania Trump’s birthday used the phrase “Attention Ladies” and was promptly taken down for violating the same policy.

…And this is why we can’t have nice things.

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Author: Tyler Durden

The Oligarchy’s Plans For Our Future Keep Getting Dumber

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

It’s rare to get a billionaire to share their grand plans for the future, which is weird because billionaires pretty much rule the world. Whenever they do, though, it’s always something incredibly sociopathic, like replacing all jobs with billionaire-owned automation/AI and giving people a Universal Basic Income set by the billionaire-owned government. Or loading all the humans onto rocket ships and sending them to live on Amazon Space Dildos.

Billionaire Elon Musk, who hates unions and wants to implant AI into human brains, has been continuing this trend of idiotic plutocratic futurology with a new campaign to detonate nuclear weapons on the planet Mars. This is not because Musk hates Mars, but because he wants to colonize it; the idea is to vaporize the red planet’s polar ice caps and throw carbon dioxide into the air to ultimately make the planet more habitable.

Scientists are voicing skepticism that such a plan could even work, before even opening up the “Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should” debate. Sending nuclear weapons into space for any reason whatsoever should receive an outright rejection from all of humanity, since getting nukes into earth’s orbit has been the wet dream of war machine engineers for decades and pretending they went to Mars would serve as an ideal cover story to circumvent international space treaties until it’s too late to prevent it.

Musk claims he wants to colonize Mars because a new dark age ensuing from a third world war appears “likely”, and he wants to ensure that there will be humans living off of the planet to re-populate it after we wipe ourselves out here. Rather than pouring wealth, brainpower and resources into pushing for a change in the status quo which has set the world’s nuclear-armed powers on a collision course for a world military confrontation that will destroy our biosphere, this billionaire has decided it’s better to nuke Mars so that a back bench of reserve humans can live on a desert space rock.

This is the class of people who are calling the shots in our world. These are the minds who are choosing our fate for us. I wouldn’t trust them to run a fucking gas station.

And Elon Musk is one of the saner billionaires.

I’m going to take a lot of flak for saying this, but I honestly believe that the impulse to colonize space is one of the more pernicious cultural mind viruses in our society. I mean, think about it: we’ve got a planet right here for which we are perfectly adapted, and we’re burning it to the ground while looking up at a red dot in the sky going “You know I bet if I nuked that bitch I could build a hermetically sealed house on it someday.” How much more insane could you possibly get?

I’m pushing against a cultural dogma that’s been mainstream doctrine for generations, but I really find all this blather about adventure and the indomitable human spirit of exploration quite tedious and idiotic when it comes to space colonization. We’ve got creatures swimming in our own oceans with brains many times larger than our own, and we’re killing them all off before we’ve even developed any kind of real theory about what they’re doing with all that extra gray matter. There are parts of the moon that are better explored than vast expanses of our own seas. We don’t even know what consciousness is, and science is largely uninterested in answering this question. I don’t believe the spirit of exploration and adventure is what’s driving our longing to break for the stars. I think it’s nothing but garden variety escapism.

We’ve all got that one friend or family member who’s completely miserable and is always quitting jobs and relationships and moving house and changing their diet in a desperate attempt to find happiness. They rearrange their lifestyle for the umpteenth time and they’re barely settled in before their gaze lands on some other aspect of their life and they think, “That’s the source of my unhappiness right there. If I can only escape from that, I’ll be happy.”

Such people are exasperating to be around, because you can see what they’re doing and you just want to sit them down and go “The problem is in you, babe. Moving won’t help; your inner demons will follow you every time. You’ve got to stay put and deal with your issues.”

Our species reminds me of that type of personality right now. So many of us are looking forward to some escape route coming from outside of us to rescue us from ourselves; some are looking forward to the second coming of Jesus, some are looking forward to the aliens coming in to save the day, some are looking forward to the Democrats or the Republicans finally capturing the whole entire government and setting things right with the world, and some are looking forward to billionaires setting up a space colonization program so we can get off this accursed blue orb before we destroy it. But there is no deus ex machina here. No one’s going to save us from ourselves. Even if we do succeed in running away from home, we’ll inevitably bring the same inner demons with us that got us into this mess in the first place.

We’ve got to turn inward and evolve beyond our self-destructive impulses. The only way out is through. The mind virus of celestial escapism stops us from doing this, because it offers us yet another false promise of deus ex machina. It lets us run away from doing the hard but necessary real inner work, just like doing drugs or binging on Netflix or any other kind of escapism.

Can you try a little thought experiment for me? Imagine, just for a moment, if we took space colonization off the table. Completely. Forever. We just decided that it’s never going to happen and we all moved to accept that. Really imagine it. Really put yourself there for a minute.

What does that change in you? What does that change about your attitude toward our future? If we’re honest with ourselves, I think it would change quite a bit. For me, when I take space conquest off the table, it takes me in a direction that just so happens to look extremely healthy. It makes me say, “Oh, okay, so we’ll obviously have to get rid of the status quo of endless war and ecocide, since those will ruin this place, and that will mean radically changing our relationship with each other and with our ecosystem. It will mean getting women around the world full reproductive sovereignty and education since that’s proven to reverse population growth. It will mean ceasing to think like a cancer, believing that endless growth is a virtueIt will mean ceasing to believe that the existence of trillions of humans is the best thing we can hope for for our species when we have yet to even scratch the surface of our own potential on a large scale. And I suppose it will mean getting together and figuring out how to detect and neutralize the threat of apocalyptic meteor strikes, too.”

Imagine that. Imagine if instead of trying to figure out how to fill the sky with trillions of mediocre humans we turned inward, healed our inner demons, and realized our full potential. Such a world would be a paradise. I know from my own experience that humans are capable of so very, very much more than what we have attained so far; we really haven’t scratched the surface at all. If we’re going to explore, the direction of that exploration ought to be inward.

I really think the mainstream idea that we can always make a mad dash for the black emptiness in the sky if things go to shit here keeps us from truly confronting our urgent need to preserve the ecosystemic context in which we evolved, and which there’s no evidence that we can live without.

I mean, we don’t even know that space colonization is possible. As of yet we have no evidence at all that humans are sufficiently separate and separable from Earth’s biosphere for survival apart from our ecosystem to be a real thing. Humans aren’t really separate “things”; they’re a symbiotic collaboration of organisms with ecosystems of their own, all of which as far as we know are entirely dependent on the greater ecosystem from which we blossomed. So far all our attempts at creating independent biospheres have failed miserably, and the closest we’ve come to living in space has consisted of nothing but glorified scuba excursions: visits to space stations fully dependent on a lifeline of terrestrial supplies. That’s the difference between flying and jumping. It might be as delusional as our brains thinking they can hop out of our skulls and live independently of our bodies, or some river eddies saying they’re moving to dry land.

And even if it is possible, why would you want it? Do people not know what space is? Are they aware that it’s nothing but boring desert wasteland that’s really really hard to get to and survive on? Have you ever been trapped for a long time surrounded by nothing but man-made things, like on an airplane or a cruise ship? Picture that, but way worse and for much longer. It would be a sterile, artificial existence; even if you managed to bring in plants and animals it would be ordered in a man-made way that is no more natural than the saplings grown on traffic islands. At best it would be like being in a mall your entire life. You’d be cut off from the primordial thrum of your home world. There’d be no real life there. No real soul.

Imagine never feeling the starry spatter of a shower of rain on your face. Imagine never ever again hearing the roar of wind on a wintry night or experiencing the thunder of the ocean on a big surf day. Imagine never again being blown away by the brightness of a rainbow or the thrilling crack of lightning or the astonishing beauty of a sunset or the first rays of springtime sunshine fondly warming the back of your neck. Imagine never again coming across a friendly squirrel or a shy possum or a little feast of wild blackberries. Imagine never again lying in the dappled light filtered through a magnificent tree. I don’t know about you but I would just miss the breeze playing in my hair too terribly to ever leave. I love it here and it loves me like a mother loves her child. This is not just my home, I grew from the earth as surely as a mushroom or a seahorse. I am a part of the earth and the earth is a part of me. We belong together.

It’s easy to feel helpless. The wise ones do not have any money and therefore any power. We are being run by a handful of coddled man-children and it seems like they might have the last word. But I have been thinking about Rupert Sheldrake’s ideas on morphic resonance a lot lately and I’m increasingly convinced that even just one of us bringing consciousness to an aspect of our collective darkness is enough to wordlessly and instantly inform the herd. So, do me a favor if you are willing. Go and run one more experiment for me. Go outside now and place your hand on the ground and say to the earth these words — “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” Say it as many times as you feel like. Say it, and mean it.

And then let’s see what happens next.

*  *  *

The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Author: Tyler Durden

Another Tanker With Iranian Oil Now Headed For Syria, Intel Sources Say

A new report suggests we could be headed toward yet another Grace 1-type incident and showdown involving an Iranian tanker intercept by US or UK forces.

A tanker full of Iranian oil is said to be currently on its way to Dubai, with an ultimate offload destination of its 600,000 barrels of oil in Syria. According to the breaking Fox report, citing unnamed Western intelligence sources:

The Bonita Queen loaded 600,000 barrels of crude oil on August 2 near the Iranian coast at Kharg Island. Shortly after, the tanker was de-flagged by the country of St. Kitts and Nevis, fearing retaliatory U.S. sanctions.

The vessel is now headed to Dubai, where it will refuel before beginning a months-long journey around the horn of Africa, through the Mediterranean and to the shores of Syria.

Bonita Queen tanker, via Baltic Shipping

The Bonita Queen, according to its reported route, intends to link up with two Syrian-owned tankers in the Mediterranean in the coming months, where it will conduct a ship-to-ship transfer of the Iran-sourced crude. 

Analysts have claimed to identify the Syrian tankers as the “Kader” and “Jasmine” — described as owned by a businessman said to be close to Assad, Muhammad al-Qatirji. Qatirji and his firm, the Qatirji Company, are under sanction by the US Treasury. 

The news comes just as the newly released from Gibraltar/UK custody Iran-flagged Adrian Darya, previously called the Grace 1, is on the move and is headed to waters off Greece. 

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Author: Tyler Durden

White Students To The Back Of The Bus, Please!

Authored by Kelli Ballard via LibertyNation.com,

The University of South Dakota is taking a bit of heat after posing questions to its law students about  whether non-minority voices were “taking up space” in class discussions. In a slide presentation, students were asked a series of questions via a flowchart, and their answers determined whether they were “taking up space” or “contributing to a space” in the classroom.

Campus Reform obtained the slides through a Freedom of Information Act request, and they show several controversial questions that have some academics, students, and others concerned. The flowchart guides the students with queries to determine if they are deferring appropriately to minoritized voices. Using the chart, I answered the questions. Perhaps I didn’t understand them fully, but my feedback led to me getting the answer: “You’re probably taking up space, maybe don’t?”

The first question on the chart sets the tone:

“Will you be representing a relative minoritized identity?”

If your response is yes, the next one delves deeper to make sure you are being honest:

“Do you have enough perspective to represent that identity?”

If you answer yes to both questions, congratulations, you are not taking up space. The conclusion seems to be: If you are a minority, you have earned your place, go to the head of the class. If you are a member of the majority, you are simply stifling and crowding out more deserving minority voices, keep quiet.

Not everyone is onboard with this type of skewed agenda-setting. Kevin Shieffer, president of the South Dakota Board of Regents, said he was opening an investigation into the diversity offices in state universities. The goal is to ascertain if such school policies push a left-leaning political agenda.

In a column for Aberdeen News, Shieffer said:

“…we should not inhibit or promote ideologies of the left or the right. They should all be presented, but none dictated. Balance and common sense are important. Student learning is and must remain the focus of the university experience. Exposure to diverse ideas in political, philosophical, scientific, literary, artistic and other disciplines is an important part of that experience. Manipulated indoctrination into any one of them undermines it. Students overwhelmingly support free speech and diversity, but oppose being forced to fund disruptions by media-starved extremists. We are committed to that end.”

Published on July 17, Shieffer’s article at first compliments the schools on their instruction and ability to stay out of the news. He then talks about making sure every student has a voice:

“Intellectual diversity at our universities is important. But we oppose misguided versions of it at the expense of intellectual integrity. Mandating louder voices from one ideological or political perspective to ‘balance’ those of the opposite ideology is not education. Loud and even extremist voices should not be feared or quashed. However, they should be neither mandated nor confused with intellectual rigor. Extremist liberal or conservative intolerance and filibuster inhibit free thinking and speech — and undermine critical thinking skills. We cannot allow the polarized ideological forces that program the bloviated talking heads of cable news to marginalize academic rigor at our universities.”

Campus Reform obtained the flowchart questions being asked of law students after complaints about them from conservative lawmakers. Are these questions harmless, or do they lead down a sinister road? Is the lesson really about being aware of others in a discussion and making sure everyone has a chance to represent, or is this just another in a long line of attempts to silence the “other side”?

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Author: Tyler Durden

Epstein’s Former Cellmate Begs Judge For Transfer To Another Jail

Jeffrey Epstein’s former cellmate has asked a New York judge to move him to a new prison after he says prison guards have been threatening him in the wake of the registered sex offender’s death, according to the New York Post

Hulking ex-cop Nicholas Tartaglione — who briefly bunked with Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center — has been told by various guards there to “shut up,” “stop talking” and “stop complaining,” as questions swirled about how the accused sex trafficker was able to commit suicide in federal custody, Tartaglione attorney Bruce Barket says in a letter to White Plains federal Judge Kenneth Karas.

Tartaglione was sharing a cell with Epstein during what’s believed to have been the 66-year-old’s first suicide attempt, on July 23. The two were separated before Epstein hanged himself on Aug. 10. –New York Post

Epstein told his lawyers that Tartaglione had “roughed him up” according to a previous report by the Post. The ex-cop’s lawyer, Bruce Barket said in response “I do know that Nick was not brought up on any charges at all in the institution, so they cleared him.” 

In his request for transfer, the 51-year-old Tartaglione said he was told there would be a “price to pay” if he talks about Epstein’s death. 

“The clear message Mr. Tartaglione has received is that if he conveys information about the facility or about [Epstein’s] recent suicide, there will be a price to pay,” reads the letter from Barket. “Whether or not the investigators into the suicide chose to interview Mr. Tartaglione about the attempted suicide to which he was witness or about how the facility is run and the conditions under which the inmates are forced to live, the correction officers know he has information potentially very damaging to the very people now charged with guarding him or their coworkers.” 

Barket also decried the “deplorable” conditions at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), including “a serious rodent and insect infestation.” 

Tartaglione faces the death penalty for his alleged involvement in four drug-related murders. Feds claim the ex-cop and an accomplice lured Martin Luna to a Chester, NY lounge to find stolen cocaine money and instead ended up killing Luna and three other men he had brought for protection. 

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Author: Tyler Durden

“Too Many To Count” – Pat Buchanan Blasts America’s Endless Wars

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

Friday, President Donald Trump met in New Jersey with his national security advisers and envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is negotiating with the Taliban to bring about peace, and a U.S. withdrawal from America’s longest war.

U.S. troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, in a war that has cost 2,400 American lives.

Following the meeting, Trump tweeted, “Many on the opposite sides of this 19 year war, and us, are looking to make a deal — if possible!”

Some, however, want no deal; they are fighting for absolute power.

Saturday, a wedding in Kabul with a thousand guests was hit by a suicide bomber who, igniting his vest, massacred 63 people and wounded 200 in one of the greatest atrocities of the war. ISIS claimed responsibility.

Monday, 10 bombs exploded in restaurants and public squares in the eastern city of Jalalabad, wounding 66.

Trump is pressing Khalilzad to negotiate drawdowns of U.S. troop levels from the present 14,000, and to bring about a near-term end to U.S. involvement in a war that began after we overthrew the old Taliban regime for giving sanctuary to Osama bin Laden.

Is it too soon to ask: What have we gained from our longest war? Was all the blood and treasure invested worth it? And what does the future hold?

If the Taliban could not be defeated by an Afghan army, built up by the U.S. for a decade and backed by 100,000 U.S. troops in 2010-2011, then are the Taliban likely to give up the struggle when the U.S. is drawing down the last 14,000 troops and heading home?

The Taliban control more of the country than they have at any time since being overthrown in 2001. And time now seems to be on their side.

Why have they persevered, and prevailed in parts of the country?

Motivated by a fanatic faith, tribalism and nationalism, they have shown a willingness to die for a cause that seems more compelling to them than what the U.S.-backed Afghan government has on offer.

They also have the guerrillas’ advantage of being able to attack at times and places of their own choosing, without the government’s burden of having to defend towns and cities.

Will these Taliban, who have lost many battles but not the war, retire from the field and abide by democratic elections once the Americans go home? Why should they?

The probability: When the Americans depart, the war breaks out anew, and the Taliban ultimately prevail.

And Afghanistan is but one of the clashes and conflicts in which America is engaged.

Severe U.S. sanctions on Venezuela have failed to bring down the Nicholas Maduro regime in Caracas but have contributed to the immiseration of that people, 10% of whom have left the country. Trump now says he is considering a quarantine or blockade to force Maduro out.

Eight years after we helped to overthrow Col. Moammar Gadhafi, Libya is still mired in civil war, with its capital, Tripoli, under siege.

Yemen, among the world’s humanitarian disasters, has seen the UAE break with its Saudi interventionist allies, and secessionists split off southern Yemen from the Houthi-dominated north. Yet, still, Congress has been unable to force the Trump administration to end all support of the Saudi war.

Two thousand U.S. troops remain in Syria. The northern unit is deployed between our Syrian Kurd allies and the Turkish army. In the south, they are positioned to prevent Iran and Iranian-backed militias from creating a secure land bridge from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut.

In our confrontation with Iran, we have few allies.

The Brits released the Iranian tanker they seized at Gibraltar, which had been carrying oil to Syria. But when the Americans sought to prevent its departure, a Gibraltar court ruled against the United States.

Iran presents no clear or present danger to U.S. vital interests, but the Saudis and Israelis see Iran as a mortal enemy, and want the U.S. military rid them of the menace.

Hong Kong protesters wave American flags and seek U.S. support of their demands for greater autonomy and freedom in their clash with their Beijing-backed authorities. The Taiwanese want us to support them and sell them the weapons to maintain their independence. The Philippines wants us to take their side in the dispute with China over tiny islets in the South China Sea.

We are still committed to go to war to defend South Korea. And the North has lately test-fired a series of ballistic missiles, none of which could hit the USA, but all of which could hit South Korea.

Around the world, America is involved in quarrels, clashes and confrontations with almost too many nations to count.

In how many of these are U.S. vital interests imperiled? And in how many are we facing potential wars on behalf of other nations, while they hold our coat and egg us on?

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Author: Tyler Durden

WTI Hovers At $56 As Algos Unimpressed By Bigger-Than-Expected Crude Draw

Oil prices dumped and pumped after US SecState Pompeo raised more uncertainty about MidEast and China during an interview with CNBC this morning. WTI did recover back to $56 by the NYMEX close ahead of the inventory data.

The weakening global economic backdrop continues to control the narrative across equities and other asset classes and the oil market is certainly not being spared,” said Michael Tran, commodity strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

API

  • Crude -3.454mm (-1.8mm exp)

  • Cushing -2.803mm – biggest draw since Feb 2018

  • Gasoline -403k

  • Distillates +1.806mm

After two weekly builds, API reports a bigger than expected crude draw, with Cushing stocks plunging most since Feb 2018…

 

WTI hovered around $56 ahead of the data, dipped very modestly after but was basically unimpressed…

“The outcome of the next U.S.-China trade meeting will be the true litmus test for oil markets,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at VM Markets Pte. in Singapore.

“Oil traders don’t want to race too far ahead of the economic realities of the trade war narrative, so a bit of profit-taking is in order.”

Of course, as Bloomberg notes, The Federal Reserve will hold its annual symposium in Wyoming later in the week, where Chairman Jerome Powell’s remarks will be closely watched.

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Author: Tyler Durden

This Isn’t Normal: Kansas & Oklahoma Hit By 65 Earthquakes In Last 7 Days

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

What are we supposed to think when rather large earthquakes start happening in places that aren’t supposed to have large earthquakes? 

2019 has been quite a year for seismic activity already, and I understand that we should expect to see earthquakes in diverse places, but if someone told me that the U.S. was just hit by a significant quake one of the last places that I would check would be Kansas.  The state of Kansas is certainly known for a lot of things, but earthquakes are not one of them, and that is why what we just witnessed is so startling. 

According to the Kansas City Star, one county in central Kansas alone has been hit by 11 quakes within the past five days…

A county in central Kansas experienced a pretty shocking uptick in seismic activity last week — 11 earthquakes in five days.

It started with a magnitude-2.4 earthquake Wednesday morning just 2 1/2 miles southwest of Hutchinson, Kansas, in Reno County, according to the United States Geological Survey.

There would be 10 more before the week was out.

The biggest one of the group hit on Friday morning.  It was originally reported to be a magnitude 4.2 quake, but it was later downgraded to magnitude 4.1.

Due to the geology of the region, earthquakes in the middle of the country are often felt more acutely, and this particular earthquake was powerful enough to shake things off the shelves of people’s homes

Tim Black, who lives in Hutchinson, told the TV station his house shook and things fell off the walls. And Hutchinson resident Alice Hinnen said things fell off shelves in her home. She said she has felt earthquakes before, but this is the strongest one yet.

KWCH said people across Kansas felt this earthquake. “We’ve heard reports from people as far away as Topeka, Hays, Arkansas City, and into northern Oklahoma,” the station said on its website.

Further south, Oklahoma has experienced even more earthquakes than Kansas has over the past seven days.  Overall, there has been a total of 65 earthquakesbetween the two states over the past week.

That definitely isn’t normal, and we should keep a close eye on this.

Meanwhile, we are also seeing more unusual seismic activity out on the west coast.  In fact, a magnitude 5.4 earthquake just hit the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off the coast of Oregon

The magnitude 5.4 temblor struck at 8:23 a.m. more than 200 miles west of Coos Bay, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake hit at a depth of roughly 7 miles.

Earthquakes are not uncommon in the area, which sees frequent seismic activity as tectonic plates meet and shift and crumble under one another. The Cascadia Subduction Zone, a series of faults that runs parallel to the coast from Northern California to British Columbia, is expected to produce a massive quake that could devastate the region.

It is always alarming whenever a quake rattles the Cascadia Subduction Zone, because scientists tell us that someday a monster event will produce a giant tsunami that will wipe out coastal areas up and down the west coast.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “You Have Been Warned: Experts Tell Us That A Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake And Tsunami Will Destroy Everything West Of Interstate 5”.

But more than anywhere else, I am deeply concerned about the California coastline right now.

According to Earthquake Track, there have been 2,801 earthquakes of at least magnitude 1.5 in the state of California within the past 30 days.

If the earthquakes remain small, that won’t be too much of a problem.

But one day the “Big One” is going to hit, and all of our lives will instantly change.

Of course many Californians like to mock the idea that the “Big One” is coming, but physicist Michio Kaku recently told CBS News that it is actually “way overdue”

“We’re playing Russian roulette with Mother Nature,” said physicist Michio Kaku, CBS News reported.

“You realize the last big earthquake to hit the L.A. segment of the San Andreas fault was 1680,” Kaku said, according to the network. “That’s over 300 years ago. But the cycle time for breaks and earthquakes on the San Andreas fault is 130 years, so we are way overdue.”

In fact, Kaku insists that the probability that it will happen within the next 30 years “is about 100%”

“In 30 years’ time the probability of the ‘big one’ is about 100%,” Kaku said, CBS News reported. “So we will see the big one. It’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. It’s the law of physics.”

For those living in southern California, it is kind of like living with a time bomb, but you can’t actually see the timer.

Sadly, one day time will run out, and the death toll will be catastrophic.  The following comes from one of my previous articles

Hopefully it will not happen any time soon, but seismologists assure us that it is only a matter of time before “the Big One” strikes California. They have repeatedly warned us that the San Andreas fault is “locked and loaded” and that it has the potential to “unzip all at once”. And when that day finally arrives, scientists have determined that the ground level could drop by up to 3 feet, and that would result in vast portions of southern California suddenly being covered by the Pacific Ocean.

We live at a time when our planet is becoming increasingly unstable, and we are witnessing major earthquakes and enormous volcanic eruptions all over the globe on a daily basis now.

I have been thinking about the coming California earthquake a lot today.  The people living there have been warned over and over again, and they know the risks.

And only 13 percent of all California homeowners actually have earthquake insurance.

So when they lose their homes, they are really going to lose their homes.

Our planet is rocking and rolling, and the warning signs are very clear.  Let us hope for the best, but the truth is that Californians are already living on borrowed time, and eventually there will be no more grace period.

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Author: Tyler Durden