Monday, 28 February 2022

Unnecessary War Day Five.

 Baltic Dry Index. 2076 -111 Brent Crude 103.15

Spot Gold 1909

Coronavirus Cases 02/04/20 World 1,000,000

Deaths 53,100

Coronavirus Cases 28/02/22 World 435,993,305

Deaths 5,968,034

There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.

Ernest Hemingway.

It is day 5 of the unnecessary European war in Ukraine.  All that was needed to avoid this war was a commitment by President Biden and NATO not to admit Ukraine into NATO. Instead both did exactly the opposite. But you won’t find my unpopular conclusion in mainstream media.

From Russia’s perspective, Ukraine in NATO is an existential threat only offsetable by a nuclear response in Russia’s back yard.

And so we enter day 5 of an entirely avoidable European war that has already destroyed Ukraine’s economy, sent about half a million Ukrainian refugees into Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. If the war continues, the EU estimates there will be between a million and two million refugees by the weekend. 

The war has sent the price of oil, gold and grains soaring, with much more likely to come even if today’s “peace meeting” between Russia and Ukraine turns out to be an unlikely success.

It is hard to see Ukraine producing or exporting much wheat, maize [corn,] barley or sunflower oil in 2022. 

It is hard to see Ukraine getting pork production and distribution back to normality this year.

The new weekend sanctions on Russia make for a very iffy oil and natural gas supply chain even if Russia doesn’t want to retaliate. 

With much higher US and global inflation likely to come, this week’s testimony by Fed Chairman Powell becomes more critical than normal.

Are the Fed now forced to take no action on inflation due to the new war? 

Or, despite the new war and its inflationary impact, dare the Fed meaningfully start raising interest rates anyway, lest gold take-off like 1979?

Below, the stock casino futures markets anticipate a most difficult day.

European markets set to plummet at the open as new sanctions are imposed on Russia

LONDON — European stocks are expected to open sharply lower on Monday as global markets track developments in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

The U.K.’s FTSE index is seen opening 117 points lower at 7,370, Germany’s DAX 538 points lower at 14,007, France’s CAC 40 down 228 points at 6,521 and Italy’s FTSE MIB 968 points lower t 24,761, according to IG.

The Russian advance into Ukraine has continued throughout the weekend. Russian military vehicles entered Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, with reports of fighting taking place and residents being warned to stay in shelters.

More sanctions have been imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, with the U.S., Europe and Canada agreeing Saturday to remove key Russian banks from the interbank messaging system, SWIFT. The U.K. and EU have also closed their airspace to Russian aircraft.

Russian President Vladimir Putin put his country’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert Sunday amid a growing global backlash against the invasion. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said representatives for Ukraine and Russia have agreed to meet on the Ukraine-Belarus border “with no preconditions.”

U.S. stock futures moved lower in overnight trading on Sunday as investors grew concerned about the economic ramifications of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, meanwhile shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Monday. Oil futures were up more than 5% and the Russian ruble dived around 29% against the dollar on Monday morning, as markets assessed the impact of sanctions on Russia.

Earnings come from Atos, Signify and GSK on Monday with data releases including preliminary inflation data from Spain and Portugal for February.

Dow futures fall about 500 points as traders assess ripple effects of Russia sanctions

U.S. stock futures moved lower in overnight trading on Sunday as investors grew concerned about the economic ramifications of the fighting between Russia and Ukraine.

Dow futures dropped 539 points. S&P 500 futures fell 2.41% and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 2.58%.

U.S. and global equities experienced volatile trading last week as geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated. Early Thursday morning local time, Moscow launched military action in Ukraine.

Throughout the weekend, the Russian advance into Ukraine continued. Russian military vehicles entered Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv with reports of fighting taking place and residents being warned to stay in shelters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin put his country’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert Sunday amid a growing global backlash against the invasion. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said representatives for Ukraine and Russia have agreed to meet on the Ukraine-Belarus border “with no preconditions.”

----Last week, President Joe Biden reacted to the attack by announcing several rounds of sanctions on Russian banks, on the country’s sovereign debt and Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. 

The U.S., European allies and Canada agreed Saturday to remove key Russian banks from the interbank messaging system, SWIFT.

“Some Russian banks being removed from SWIFT (energy transactions exempt) and the freezing of the Russian central bank’s access to its foreign currency reserves held in the West clearly increases economic tail risk,” said Dennis DeBusschere of 22V Research.

However, he believes Russia can still sell oil and there could be “loop holes” in Russia’s frozen assets, which “might limit the disaster in markets for a few days.”

“Traders will be watching for any signs of resolution on the Russian crisis (negotiated peace or a signs of a near-term victory for either side) or for signs tensions could be worsening raising the chance of a world war involving NATO members,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist for the Leuthold Group. “As news trickles out supporting either thesis, expect daily stock market action to remain volatile.”

Despite the market volatility, the Dow experienced its best day since November 2020 on Friday.

Last week, the Dow notched its third week of losses. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended the week in green, rising 0.8% and 1.1%, respectively.

The Nasdaq Composite is still in correction, about 15% from its record close. The Dow and S&P 500 are just outside of correction territory.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before Congress twice in the coming week, and he will be followed closely for any signal on whether geopolitical events are likely to impact Fed rate hikes.

Investors will also get a update on the labor department later in the week as the February jobs report is expected Friday. In January, 467,000 payrolls were added.

Russian central bank orders block on foreign clients' bids to sell Russian securities – document

Sun, February 27, 2022, 10:06 PM

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia's central bank has ordered professional stock market participants to suspend the execution of all orders by foreign legal entities and individuals to sell Russian securities from Monday morning, an internal document showed.

The document was published by ACI Russia, the national organisation of Russian financial market specialists.

The bank's media relations department did not respond to a Reuters request to confirm the authenticity of the document.

Two financial market sources confirmed to Reuters that the document had been sent to brokers by the central bank.

It said the measures were being taken by the regulator "in connection with the current crisis in the financial market and in order to ensure the protection of the rights and legitimate interests of investors in financial markets".

The central bank order is valid from 7:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Feb. 28 until the "cancellation of this order".

The document does not specify whether it applies to government securities. The order does not apply to applications submitted before 7 a.m. Monday.

The document was signed by central bank deputy chairman Philip Gabunia.

If we don't end war, war will end us. 

H. G. Wells.

Global Inflation/Stagflation Watch.

Given our Magic Money Tree central banksters and our spendthrift politicians,  inflation now needs an entire section of its own.

New outbreaks of bird flu detected in Michigan, Delaware, Maine

Some 935 outbreaks of HPAI have been detected in animals since late January, according to FAO.

TZVI JOFFRE   Published: FEBRUARY 27, 2022 03:49

New cases of Eurasian H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) were detected in domestic flocks in Michigan, Maine and Delaware in recent days, as the bird flu continues to spread in North America and around the world.

On Thursday, an outbreak of HPAI was confirmed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) in a non-commercial backyard flock in Kalamazoo Country, Michigan. Several birds in the flock died and others showed signs of illness before the outbreak was confirmed.

“MDARD is always preparing for situations like this when they arise, which is why we were able to take quick action to contain this disease and help protect against its spread,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “At this time, this is an isolated case. There is no threat to public health or food safety. We do not anticipate any disruptions to supply chains across our state. As this situation develops, we will continue to work with our partners at local and federal levels to best mitigate spread and provide outreach."

The birds in the affected flock have been euthanized and the premises is under quarantine. State health officials called on poultry owners to increase biosecurity measures and keep wild birds away from their flocks.

In New Castle County, Delaware, an outbreak of HPAI was confirmed in a commercial poultry flock.

Two outbreaks of avian influenza have been confirmed in the past week in domestic flocks in Maine, as well. One outbreak was detected in Knox County, while another outbreak was detected shortly afterwards in a flock located about three kilometers away.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) stated that it is working closely with state animal health officials on a joint incident response.

The first confirmed case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in a US commercial flock since 2020 was detected in a turkey flock in Indiana earlier this month. The flock was infected with the H5N1 subtype, the same strain detected in mid-January in wild birds in North Carolina when the first cases of HPAI this season were detected in the States.

The first case of H5N1 in North America this season was detected in Newfoundland and Labrador in late December. Since then, the virus has spread to other locations in Canada and the US.

As of Saturday, nearly 300 wild birds in South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware, Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, New Jersey and Florida had been found to be infected with Eurasian H5 HPAI, with a number of cases specified as H5N1.

On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stressed that the current risk to the general public's health from HPAI in the US is low, adding that those who are exposed more to birds, such as poultry workers, may have a higher risk of infection.

----A large number of bird flu outbreaks have been reported throughout Europe, Africa and Asia in recent weeks and months, mostly due to the H5N1 subtype, which comes from the H5 lineage, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The organization warned that a further increase in outbreaks is expected in the coming months.

----14 million cases of avian influenza were reported in birds in 2021, more than the previous five years combined, according to figures obtained from the OIE by The Telegraph. 61.4 million birds died either due to the virus or of being culled to prevent its spread.

Scientists warned in The Telegraph report that the increase in outbreaks could help the virus evolve to spread between humans.


Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

Today, will we ever get to a “universal” SARs-CoV-2 “vaccine”? Or rather a treatment rather than “vaccine” that stops you catching SARs-CoV-2 again and again.

Finally some uncommon common sense starts to return, just don’t tell anyone in Ottawa.

Will we get a single, variant-proof vaccine for Covid?

The goal of a universal vaccine would have seemed a fantasy only a few years ago. But not now…

This week the government announced additional vaccine booster jabs for the over-75s and suggested a further shot is likely to be needed in the autumn. But imagine if the next Covid vaccine jab you have were the last you would ever need. That’s a dream being actively pursued now by researchers, who feel it could be possible to make a “universal” vaccine against the Sars-CoV-2 virus that would work well not only against all existing variants but any that the virus could plausibly mutate into in the future.

Some are thinking even bigger. In January, Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, and two other experts called for more research into “universal coronavirus vaccines” that would work not only against Sars-CoV-2 but against the many other coronaviruses in animal populations that have the potential to spill over into humans and cause future pandemics. “We need a research approach that can characterise the global ‘coronaviral universe’ in multiple species,” Fauci and colleagues wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, “and apply this information in developing broadly protective ‘universal’ vaccines against all [coronaviruses].”

Is that just a fantasy? Not necessarily. After all, many considered it fanciful, when the pandemic began, that we’d have a vaccine against Covid-19 in less than a year. But experience has proved that “we as a research community can pull together and do remarkable things,” says Larry Corey, a virologist and vaccine expert at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The current vaccines were developed against the original “ancestral” variant of Sars-CoV-2. They still work remarkably well against the new variants in preventing severe disease – Corey says that even against Delta there seems to be about a 90-fold difference in the death rate between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. But the Omicron variant has caused alarm by its ability to transmit faster than the others and to infect vaccinated people. Although very few such individuals develop serious symptoms from Omicron, it can actively suppress the immune defences that vaccination (as well as natural infection) activate.

----At the moment we have no pan-variant vaccine for any endemic virus. Researchers have long dreamed of a universal vaccine that would make flu epidemics less lethal, and there are now promising signs that it could be possible. The design principle for a universal Covid vaccine would follow similar lines.

One option might be to prime the immune system to recognise not just one bit of a viral protein, but lots of bits – not all of which are likely to change (or change significantly) at once in any new variant. We’d give the immune system many different ways to spot, and then suppress, the invader, in the hope that one will work. This might involve, for example, making an mRNA vaccine that contains many different RNA molecules, each encoding as a different protein fragment. Or a single particle in the vaccine could hold several different fragments.

Alternatively, you can look for parts of the virus that seem to be “conserved” across variants: proteins (or bits of them) that don’t mutate much at all, presumably because such changes would be too detrimental to the virus. But how can you know what those will be, even for variants that haven’t emerged yet? One way is to see if highly conserved protein regions exist already among a whole family of related coronaviruses. “If you can find things that are in common between Sars-CoV-2, Sars [the related respiratory virus that caused alarm in 2003], and a bunch of other animal coronaviruses, then the likelihood is that the next variant of Sars-CoV-2 will have them too,” says Skip Virgin, chief scientific officer of San Francisco-based Vir Biotechnologies, which is working with GlaxoSmithKline on vaccine development – a collaboration that has already produced the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab for alleviating Covid symptoms.


New York City to lift vaccination mandate for businesses, events

Mask rules for city schools were likely to end the same day, March 7, Mayor Eric Adams said. Masks are optional at Tuesday’s State of the Union address in Washington.

Feb. 27, 2022, 10:35 PM GMT

New York City, the first U.S. metropolis to require vaccinations indoors, will lift its mandate for indoor businesses, dining and events in the coming days.

Mayor Eric Adams announced Sunday that his administration would end its vaccination mandate requirements on March 7 as long as Covid-19 case numbers continue to trend downward. He joins public officials who made similar decisions in cities such as Seattle and Boston in recent weeks.

The indoor mask mandate will also be lifted in public schools the same day provided no unexpected spikes arise, Adams said.

He noted that more than a million students return to public schools Monday after the midwinter break. A week of commingling on campuses without "unforeseen spikes" in case numbers would confirm the end of mandatory masks for school facilities for now, he said in a statement Sunday.

“New York City’s numbers continue to go down day after day, so, as long as COVID indicators show a low level of risk and we see no surprises this week, on Monday, March 7 we will also lift Key2NYC requirements," Adams announced. "This will give business owners the time to adapt and will allow us to ensure we are making the best public health decisions for the people of New York."

The news came as the U.S. House sergeant-at-arms said masks are "now an individual choice" for people attending Tuesday's State of the Union address in the House chamber in Washington. Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician of Congress, wrote in a coronavirus update Sunday that Washington's relatively low level of transmission triggered the change to optional mask-wearing at the Capitol.

New York City's mandate, which was first announced in August, requires patrons to show proof of vaccination.

Although it is not always enforced, the vaccination requirement applies to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, coffee shops, fast food eateries, indoor fitness locations, movie theaters, music and concert venues, museums, sports arenas and stadiums, theaters and billiard halls, among other places.


Next, some vaccine links kindly sent along from a LIR reader in Canada.

NY Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker

Regulatory Focus COVID-19 vaccine tracker

Some other useful Covid links.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus resource centre

Rt Covid-19

Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus

The Spectator Covid-19 data tracker (UK)


Technology Update.

With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported.

2D material in three dimensions

Date:  January 31, 2022

Source:  Vienna University of Technology

Summary:  For years, scientists have tried to develop 2D-materials such as graphene, which consists of only one layer of carbon atoms. But what if you need to fit as much graphene as possible into a limited space? Then the graphene layer has to be turned into a complex 3d shape.

The carbon material graphene has no well-defined thickness, it merely consists of one single layer of atoms. It is therefore often referred to as a "two-dimensional material." Trying to make a three-dimensional structure out of it may sound contradictory at first, but it is an important goal: if the properties of the graphene layer are to be exploited best, then as much active surface area as possible must be integrated within a limited volume.

The best way to achieve this goal is to produce graphene on complex branched nanostructures. This is exactly what a cooperation between CNR Nano in Pisa, TU Wien (Vienna) and the University of Antwerp has now achieved. This could help, for example, to increase the storage capability per volume for hydrogen or to build chemical sensors with higher sensitivity.

From solid to porous

In Prof. Ulrich Schmid's group (Institute for Sensor and Actuator Systems, TU Wien), research has been conducted for years on how to transform solid materials such as silicon carbide into extremely fine, porous structures in a precisely controlled way. "If you can control the porosity, then many different material properties can be influenced as a result," explains Georg Pfusterschmied, one of the authors of the current paper.

The technological procedures required to achieve this goal are challenging: "It is an electrochemical process that consists of several steps," says Markus Leitgeb, a chemist who also works in Ulrich Schmid's research group at TU Wien. "We work with very specific etching solutions, and apply tailored electric current characteristics in combination with UV irradiation." This allows to etch tiny holes and channels into certain materials.

Because of this expertise in the realization of porous structures, Stefan Heun's team from the Nanoscience Institute of the Italian National Research Council CNR turned to their colleagues at TU Wien. The Pisa team was looking for a method to produce graphene surfaces in branched nanostructures to enable larger graphene surface areas. And the technology developed at TU Wien is perfectly suited for this task.

----An electrochemical etching process was therefore developed at TU Wien that turns solid silicon carbide into the desired porous nanostructure. About 42 % of the volume is removed in this process. The remaining nanostructure was then heated in high vacuum in Pisa so that graphene formed on the surface. The result was then examined in detail in Antwerp. This revealed the success of the new process: indeed, a large number of graphene flakes form on the intricately shaped surface of the 3D nanostructure.

A lot of surface area in a compact form

"This allows us to use the advantages of graphene much more effectively," says Ulrich Schmid. "The original motivation for the research project was to store hydrogen: you can temporarily store hydrogen atoms on graphene surfaces and then use them for various processes. The larger the surface, the larger the amount of hydrogen you can store." But there are also many other ideas for using such 3D graphene structures. A large surface area is also a decisive advantage in chemical sensors, which, for example, can be used to detect rare substances in gases.

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

 Albert Einstein.

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Special Update 26/2/22 Do You Bet Black Or Red?

 Baltic Dry Index. 2076 -111  Brent Crude 97.93

Spot Gold 1889

Covid-19 cases 02/04/20 World 1,000,000

Deaths 53,100

Covid-19 cases 26/02/22 World 433,617,338

Deaths 5,957,307

“Trade only when the market is clearly bullish or bearish.”

Jesse Lauriston Livermore.

Given the new European war, runaway US and global inflation with still more to come; Fed Chairman Powell’s double testimony before the Congress and Senate next week; vicious stocks and commodity whipsaw volatility now occurring daily, how’s a 2022 stock gambler supposed to bet?

Do you bet black or red?

To which my reply is do you need to bet at all right now?

This old dinosaur was taught to only bet on a sure thing, or as near as it’s possible to get.

To me at least, right now there’s no such thing as a sure thing bet.

“No person can play the market all the time and win. There are times when you should be completely out of the market, for emotional as well as economic reasons.”

Jesse Lauriston Livermore.

Stocks rally, oil dips as investors digest sanctions on Russia

NEW YORK, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Stocks around the world rebounded on Friday, the U.S. dollar fell and oil prices dipped as investors welcomed talk of renewed diplomacy after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and as coordinated Western sanctions left Russia's energy sector largely untouched.

On Thursday, worries about the invasion lifted oil prices past $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014.

Wall Street's indexes extended the previous session's rally with Nasdaq and the S&P 500 registering gains for the week.

The MSCI World Index (.MIWD00000PUS) closed up 2.43%; for the week it was down 0.7%.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Ukraine's military to overthrow its political leaders and negotiate peace. Authorities in Kyiv called on citizens to help defend the capital. read more

EU countries agreed to freeze European assets of Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the White House announced plans for U.S. sanctions. read more Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pleaded for faster and more forceful sanctions.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China respects Ukraine's sovereignty and Russia's security concerns, and it welcomes direct Russia, Ukraine dialogue as soon as possible. [nL1N2V02LS]

Russia said it was ready to send a delegation for talks with Ukraine, but U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price called this an attempt to conduct diplomacy "at the barrel of a gun," read more

"Markets went through a progression. They heard the word invasion Wednesday night and started selling. Then markets heard the word sanctions Thursday and started buying. Then they heard the word diplomacy on Friday and kept buying," said John Augustine, chief investment officer at Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio.

Some investors remained wary of riskier assets, weeks before the Federal Reserve is expected to raise U.S. interest rates.

"The market is purely looking at the short run, saying that what they feared has happened so there's nothing else to fear on the invasion of Ukraine ... that's being pretty shortsighted," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina.


With the stock market’s snapback, the focus shifts to Powell testimony and jobs report

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies before Congress in the week ahead, and markets will hang on what he says regarding how the Russia-Ukraine conflict could affect Fed policy.

Powell will deliver his testimony on the economy to the House Committee on Financial Services on Wednesday morning, and then again to the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. The important February employment report is to be released on Friday.

“Powell speaking is going to be important. Everybody’s trying to get a gauge of how he’s seeing what the Fed’s policy reaction might be in light of recent events,” said Jim Caron, head of macro strategies for global fixed income at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

Investors also are keeping a careful eye on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and its related impact on markets, with Russia being a major commodity exporter. Oil initially shot higher in the past week, with Brent crude surging to $105 per barrel before settling back down to about $98 on Friday.

“I think Powell’s going to have to still be pretty hawkish, even though there’s still concerns about what oil prices are going to do to demand. The surge in oil prices is coming at the worst possible time,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton.” It’s stoking a well-kindled fire of inflation.”

The S&P 500 posted a weekly gain after some wild swings. Stocks fell sharply Thursday on news of the invasion, but later bounced. The index extended that rebound into Friday, rising more than 2%. Bond yields, initially lower in a flight-to-safety trade, reversed course and were higher Friday.

“Treasurys are supposed to be the flight-to-safety asset, and you didn’t make money in Treasurys when you had a geopolitical event,” Caron said. Yields move inversely to prices, and the 10-year yield was back near 2% on Friday. “There’s no place to run, no place to hide. I think a lot of that has to do with peoples’ expectations for interest rate policy and also inflation.”

----“The fact they specifically excluded energy and agriculture [in the new sanctions] means the spillover effects to the global economy are very limited,” Kleintop said. “It doesn’t change some of the trends that were in place prior to the invasion, which of course is the tightening of financial conditions and concerns about inflation.”

Goldman Sachs economists said the impact on global gross domestic product will likely be small, since both Russia and Ukraine together account for just about 2% of global market-based GDP.

“In contrast, spillovers via commodity markets (Russia produces 11% and 17% of global oil and gas) and financial conditions could be somewhat larger,” the economists noted.

Fed rate hikes

Schwab’s Kleintop said he expects the stock market to remain volatile into the Fed’s first rate hike, expected at its March meeting.


In unnecessary European war news, America says Russia’s Ukraine invasion has stalled from its objectives.

Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania report thousands of refugees are arriving on day two.

Fighting continues across much of Ukraine itself, with fighting reported this morning in the capital Kiev.

Both sides seem to be exploring talks to bring an end to the war.

Of course, much of this is probably  self serving spin, misinformation, disinformation or even propaganda, though the part about talks seems to be genuine even if the US appears to be discouraging them.

Ukraine invasion: What to know as Russian forces target Kyiv

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — After a barrage of airstrikes on cities and military bases around the country, Russian forces were closing in on Ukraine’s capital on Saturday. The city warned of street fighting and urged residents to stay inside and take cover.

With growing signs that Russia aims to overthrow him, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Ukrainians to “stand firm,” saying the “fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.”

He refused American help to evacuate, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, who quoted him saying that he needed anti-tank ammunition but “not a ride.”

The assault, anticipated for weeks by the West, amounts to Europe’s largest ground conflict since World War II as President Vladimir Putin tries to restore Moscow’s Cold War influence.

It is unclear how much or little Russian forces have seized or the extent of the casualties. Ukraine shot down two Russian transport planes, at least one with paratroopers on board.

U.S. defense officials believe the Russian offensive has encountered considerable resistance and is proceeding slower than Moscow had envisioned, though that could change quickly.

----Here are the things to know about the conflict and the security crisis in former Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe:


Kyiv officials are warning residents that street fighting is underway against Russian forces. They advised residents to remain in shelters or if home to avoid going near windows or on balconies, and to take precautions against being hit by debris or bullets.

The Ukrainian military said a battle was underway near a military unit to the west of the city center. Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said new explosions shook the area near a major power plant that the Russians were trying to attack.

The Russian military said Friday it had encircled the cities of Sumy and Konotop in northeastern Ukraine, but was “taking steps to ensure civilians’ safety.”

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russian forces have so far knocked out 211 Ukrainian military installations, including 17 command centers, 19 air defense missile systems, 39 radar units, 67 tanks and six warplanes. The Russian military also said it seized a strategic airport outside Kyiv, allowing it to quickly build up forces to take the capital.

Late Friday, the Russian military said it has taken over Melitopol, a city near the Azov Sea. The claim could not immediately be independently verified.


Ukraine and Russia are discussing place and time for talks -Zelenskiy's spokesman

Feb 26 (Reuters) - Ukraine and Russia are discussing a place and time for talks, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's spokesman said on social media on Friday.

"Ukraine was and remains ready to talk about a ceasefire and peace," spokesman Sergii Nykyforov added.

Kremlin notes Kyiv's willingness to talk, won't comment on possible contacts

Fri, February 25, 2022, 10:25 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) -The Kremlin on Friday noted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's willingness to discuss a possible neutrality pledge by Ukraine, but said it could not say anything about possible talks between the two countries' leaders.

"This is a new statement. We have taken note of it. It looks like a positive development," he said, referring to comments made by Zelenskiy in the early hours of Thursday.

Peskov said he could not comment on whether talks would take place between Putin and Zelenskiy.

Saying that Moscow would analyse Zelenskiy's offer, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that Moscow's expectations of Kyiv remained unchanged. Moscow has long demanded guarantees that Ukraine would never join NATO or allow the bloc to deploy troops and weapons on its territory.


Why war in Ukraine means the end of the liberal world order

Fri, February 25, 2022, 5:58 AM

On the afternoon of Aug. 5, 1990, President George H.W. Bush appeared at a press conference on the South Lawn of the White House. After reviewing developments related to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Bush took questions from reporters. The last elicited the most memorable words of the crisis, and perhaps of Bush's whole presidency. "This will not stand," Bush insisted, "this aggression against Kuwait."

Bush's awkward grammar and delivery made the remark an object of satire, most famously in the Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski. It was memorable, though, less because it was funny than because Bush's words expressed a particular vision of international politics. Born in the wake of the Second World War but made plausible by the collapse of Soviet power, that vision promised an American-led world in which states would fight only in defense of recognized territorial boundaries, limiting their rivalries to economics, sports, and culture. In his address to a joint session of Congress in September, Bush would describe that vision as a "new world order".

---- espite the apparent success of the First Persian Gulf War, the new world order never lived up to its billing. Within just a few years, a series of wars in the former Yugoslavia demonstrated that the ghosts of Europe could not so easily be exorcised. Elsewhere in the world, ethnic, ideological, and religious clashes continued with little relief. Sept. 11 reminded us that we were not immune to those tensions. The wars of occupation that followed raised justified doubts about whether our leadership possessed the competence or wisdom to meet the grandiose standards that they set for themselves. By the 2010s, the revival of great power competition with China was conventional wisdom. And the election of Donald Trump raised serious questions about whether the American public was willing to continue paying the economic, military, and political costs of liberal hegemony.

----Still, the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on this week is different to these previous crises. Rather than a distressing violation of the post-Cold War norm, it feels like a decisive end to the era that Bush proclaimed on the White House Lawn.

But there are at least three reasons to think something fundamental has changed — with consequences we still can't foresee.

First, the Russian attack is a paradigmatic case of interstate aggression, a form of warfare that was supposed to be relegated to the history books. As the very partial list above indicates, the last 30 years have not exactly been a paradise of peace. But there have been relatively few direct military clashes between internationally recognized sovereign states. Instead, much of the violence has been associated with civil wars, failed states, and non-state actors, albeit often proxies for neighbors or more distant states.


Finally, more bad news for Ukraine, although I think they knew this before making the request.

Turkey cannot stop Russian warships accessing Black Sea, says foreign minister

Fri, February 25, 2022, 10:28 AM

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey cannot stop Russian warships accessing the Black Sea via its straits, as Ukraine has requested, due to a clause in an international pact that allows vessels to return to their home base, the Turkish foreign minister said on Friday.

Ukraine has appealed to Turkey to block Russian warships from passing through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits which lead to the Black Sea, after Moscow on Thursday launched a full-blown assault on Ukraine from land, air and sea.

Russian forces landed at Ukraine's Black and Azov Sea ports as part of the invasion.

nder the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey has control over the straits and can limit the passage of warships during wartime or if threatened, but the request has put the NATO member in a difficult position as it tries to manage its Western commitments and close ties with Russia.

Speaking in Kazakhstan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was studying Kyiv's request but said Russia had the right under the Convention to return ships to their home base, in this case the Black Sea.

So even if Turkey decided after a legal process to accept Ukraine's request and close the straits to Russian warships, he said, they would only be prevented from travelling in the other direction, away from their home base into the Mediterranean.

"If countries involved in the war make a request to return their vessels to their bases, that needs to be allowed," the Hurriyet daily quoted Cavusoglu as saying.


Cavusoglu added that Turkish legal experts were still trying to determine whether the conflict in Ukraine could be defined as a war, which would allow the convention mandates to be invoked.

Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, said on Friday Kyiv was expecting a "positive response" from Ankara to its request.

Cavusoglu also reiterated Ankara's opposition to imposing economic sanctions against Russia, a stance that has set Turkey apart from most of its NATO allies which have already announced such measures.

Turkey has cultivated good ties with both Russia and Ukraine. It has said the Russian attack is unacceptable and that it supports Ukraine's territorial integrity but has avoided using words such as "invasion" to describe what is happening.


The ability to compromise is not a diplomatic politeness toward a partner but rather taking into account and respecting your partner's legitimate interests.

Vladimir Putin.

Global Inflation/Stagflation Watch.

Given our Magic Money Tree central banksters and our spendthrift politicians,  inflation now needs an entire section of its own.

Fed warns of wage pressures as data shows inflation still rising

Fri, February 25, 2022, 4:31 PM  By Howard Schneider

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation rose again in January and a new report from the central bank warned that price pressures could persist unless a shortage of available workers begins to ease.

The new inflation data, alongside the developing sense at the central bank that inflation may prove harder than anticipated to dislodge, will likely firm the central bank's intent to raise interest rates through the year, beginning with an initial hike in March from the current near zero level.

Policymakers will have to weigh one fresh and unanticipated set of risks in their discussion: The Russian military invasion of Ukraine could roil the economic outlook in unpredictable ways, and potentially undermine global growth and financial markets.

But Fed officials say that's unlikely to shift their immediate plans to begin tightening monetary policy in response to inflation that is not only high but continues moving higher.

The personal consumption expenditures price index rose at a 6.1% annual rate through January, its highest since 1982 and more than triple the 2% inflation rate the Fed has set as its target for the U.S. economy.

That measure of annual inflation, reported monthly by the government, has been as higher or higher than in the prior month for 14 straight months - a run not seen since the 1970s and a blow to arguments commonly heard at the Fed last year that rising prices would prove "transitory" and disappear as the economy reopened.


Aggressive rate hikes are 'off the table' as Russia's war on Ukraine means the Fed will have to tolerate higher inflation, Mohamed El-Erian says

Thu, February 24, 2022, 4:06 PM

op economist Mohamed El-Erian said the Federal Reserve won't be able to tighten monetary policy as aggressively now that Russia has invaded Ukraine.

Many on Wall Street expected several Fed rate hikes in 2022, starting with an increase of 50 basis points next month. Earlier this week, JPMorgan even predicted nine interest rate hikes this year of 25 basis points each time.

"This takes 50 basis points completely off the table," El-Erian told CNBC Thursday morning. "It takes the 8, 9 hikes a lot of people were talking about for this year off the table, and thankfully so... I didn't think the US economy could accommodate and live with such slamming of the brakes of monetary policy."

The geopolitical conflict in Eastern Europe has already rattled global equities and, given Russia's position as one of the largest producers of energy, crude oil has skyrocketed. Higher fuel prices will add more inflationary pressure, which the Fed seeks to tamp down as consumer prices have seen annual growth of more than 7%.

But fewer rate hikes means the Fed will be stuck in a "very unsatisfactory situation" when it comes to growth and inflation, El-Erian said.

"The Fed is going to have to be even more careful, and it's going to have to tolerate higher inflation," he warned.

When asked whether reining in high inflation requires putting the economy into a recession, El-Erian said that has been the case historically as Fed policymakers are forced to tighten sharply.

But the geopolitical shock of the Russia-Ukraine war puts that playbook into question, he said, estimating that the odds are "pretty even" on whether the central bank slams on the brakes or instead chooses to deal with higher inflation down the road.

"This is the situation everyone was afraid of," he said. "That by being late, you have fewer policy options."

Fed should lift rates a full percentage point by mid-year -Waller

Fri, February 25, 2022, 1:29 AM  By Ann Saphir

(Reuters) -Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller on Thursday laid out the case for a "concerted" effort to rein in inflation, calling for raising interest rates a full percentage point by mid-year, starting with a half-percentage-point hike in March if data in coming weeks continues to point to an "exceedingly hot" economy.

"I believe appropriate interest rate policy brings the target range up to 1 to 1.25 percent early in the summer," Waller said at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Economic Forecast Project. The Fed should also start trimming its $9 trillion balance sheet "no later than" its July meeting, he said.

Once initial rate hikes are made, further increases would be in order if inflation stayed high, Waller said, or could slow or pause if inflation moderates in the second half as he expects.

----But, he said, it is still far too early to read the impact of the conflict on the U.S. or world economy. And with consumer prices rising the fastest in 40 years, the Fed "must respond decisively to the data so as to maintain our credibility that we will bring down inflation."

Over the past week or so, Fed policymakers largely signaled a preference for beginning the coming round of U.S. interest rate hikes with a modest quarter-point hike, and after Russia's invasion of Ukraine traders slashed bets on a bigger March hike.


Below, why a “green energy” economy may not be possible, and if it is, it won’t be quick and it will be very inflationary, setting off a new long-term commodity Supercycle. Probably the largest seen so far.

The “New Energy Economy”: An Exercise in Magical Thinking

Mines, Minerals, and "Green" Energy: A Reality Check

"An Environmental Disaster": An EV Battery Metals Crunch Is On The Horizon As The Industry Races To Recycle

by Tyler Durden Monday, Aug 02, 2021 - 08:40 PM

It's alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States.

Vladimir Putin.

Covid-19 Corner                   

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

Mainland China posts highest number of imported COVID cases in nearly 2 years

Fri, February 25, 2022, 3:40 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) -China on Friday reported the highest daily count of COVID-19 cases arriving from outside the mainland in nearly two years, with infections mostly from Hong Kong as the financial hub grapples with a wave of infections.

The mainland detected a total of 142 imported cases with confirmed symptoms for Thursday, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Friday.

That marks the highest imported caseload since the authority began classifying domestically transmitted cases and infected travellers from outside the mainland separately, in March 2020.

More than 100 imported cases came from Hong Kong, with 47 reported in the southern city of Shenzhen and 51 in the eastern municipality of Shanghai, local health authorities' bulletins showed. The capital Beijing also detected seven symptomatic cases arriving from Hong Kong.

Dozens of truck drivers who travel between Shenzhen and Hong Kong tested positive for the virus this month, data from the Shenzhen authority showed.

Shenzhen, which has suspended or terminated quarantine exemptions for 882 cross-border drivers who violated virus control rules, said it would have patrol and video cameras in place to prevent breaches by drivers.

Mainland China requires most general travellers arriving from outside to be quarantined for at least 14 days, and cities have varying requirements afterwards before they can travel freely.

For Thursday, the mainland also detected 87 asymptomatic carriers arriving from outside, which authorities count separately.

There were also 82 locally transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms on Thursday, the NHC data showed.

No new deaths were reported, leaving the death toll at 4,636.

As of Feb. 24, mainland China had reported a total of 108,604 cases with confirmed symptoms, including both local and imported ones.

World Health Organization - Landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines

NY Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker

Regulatory Focus COVID-19 vaccine tracker

Some more useful Covid links.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus resource centre

Rt Covid-19

The Spectator Covid-19 data tracker (UK)

Technology Update.

With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported.

No update this weekend given everything else going on!

The task of the government is not only to pour honey into a cup, but sometimes to give bitter medicine. 

Vladimir Putin.


This weekend’s musical diversion.  That Venetian paper merchant again. Approx. 10 minutes.

Tomaso Albinoni - Concerto for two oboes in C major, op. 9, No. 9 - The King's Consort

This weekend’s chess update. Approx. 12 minutes.

Youngest Ever Player To Defeat Magnus Carlsen!

This weekend’s maths update. Approx. 17 minutes.

Want to PASS Algebra? You better know this formula

Sudoku for beginners. Approx. 8 minutes.

How to Play Sudoku for Absolute Beginners


Russia will not soon become, if it ever becomes, a second copy of the United States or England - where liberal values have deep historic roots. 

Vladimir Putin.