Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Target’s Share Prices Plunge For Longest Streak In Almost 5 Years 

By the end of the day Tuesday, the plummet in Target’s share prices reached the longest losing streak the chain has suffered in almost five years.

Target’s share prices have fallen for eight straight days, plunging another 3.66% on Tuesday reaching $133.88 as the store has lost a staggering $12 billion in market value in the last 14 days to rest at $61.85 billion in the wake of a consumer boycott triggered by its LGBTQ merchandise.

“What you’ve seen in recent days went well beyond discomfort, and it has been gut-wrenching to see what you’ve confronted in our aisles,” Target CEO Brian Cornell stated to employees last week, adding there were “two guiding principles when it came time for us to act: do all we can to keep our team safe, and do all we can to honor our commitment and connection to the LGBTQIA+ community.”

As far back as 2014, Target announced it would no longer divide certain products by gender.

In 2016, Target introduced a gender-neutral line for children and also asserted they would allow transgender people to use whatever bathroom they preferred, prompting criticism. Target then spent $20 million to put private bathrooms in their stores.

The vice president for brand management at Target also serves as treasurer of an LGBT group that has received millions of dollars in donations from Target and urges schools to adopt policies to help trans and nonbinary school students hide their  “gender identity” from their parents.

Target made “emergency” calls in Mid-May to managers and senior directors at the store after the company faced backlash for its Pride collection, which included “tuck-friendly” female swimwear and other products, according to a source inside the company.

The calls were to direct some stores to make their Pride products display less prominent in order to avoid a “Bud Light situation,” a Target insider told Fox News.

“We were given 36 hours, told to take all of our Pride stuff, the entire section, and move it into a section that’s a third the size. From the front of the store to the back of the store, you can’t have anything on mannequins and no large signage,” the insider reportedly said.

Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this article.

Related: ‘Bud Light Situation’: Target Makes ‘Emergency’ Calls After Backlash To ‘Tuck-Friendly’ Female Swimwear: Report

Why US Factories Are Closing at an Astounding Rate.

Alone on the other side of Cuba 🇨🇺

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Bobby Kennedy's Speech for Humanity

New Yorkers Shout At AOC Over Border Crisis, Ukraine War During Chaotic Town Hall

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) faced a handful of enraged constituents during a Friday night town hall in Queens. 

Some New Yorkers in attendance took issue with the congresswoman’s soft stance on illegal immigration, raising the debt ceiling, and her support of seemingly endless U.S. funding for Ukraine. One man wearing a shirt with a Cuban flag on it and holding an American flag in his hand got up and walked toward the stage, shouting “American citizens before migrants!”

“Where are you on the migrant issue? You’re absent!” the man shouted as he was escorted out of the hall by security. Before being forced out of the room as most of the crowd booed him, the man got five more words in: “You’re a piece of s***!”

The second-term socialist Democrat laughed off the incident, but she received more pushback as the night went on. 

While discussing the ongoing debt-ceiling negotiations between the White House and Republican leadership, Ocasio-Cortez said, “We should eliminate the debt limit in the United States,” a remark met by a mixture of cheers and boos. One man in the audience expressed his frustration with the congresswoman’s comment by pointing out that she supports the U.S. sending billions of dollars to Ukraine. 

“$100 billion for Ukraine that you voted for!” he said. The man was met with shouts from someone else in the crowd who told him it wasn’t his turn to speak.

Another person at the town hall held signs that read: “America First: Vetted & Legal Migrants Only” and “Stop Funding Ukraine.” Others displayed signs saying, “AOC Stop Crying” and “AOC An Obvious Criminal.” 

Ocasio-Cortez has faced angry people who have questioned her support of funding Ukraine in the past. In October, two people attending her town hall confronted her and accused her of supporting nuclear war.


“Why are you playing with the lives of American citizens?” he pressed. “You’re playing with our lives!”

“You voted to mobilize and send money to Ukrainian Nazis,” Jose Vega yelled. “You’re a coward!”

Read more in:

US Marshals Rescue 225 Endangered or Missing Children in National Operation 

The U.S. Marshals Service announced this week that 225 missing or endangered children were recovered as part of a 10-week, multi-state effort dubbed “Operation We Will Find You.”

In a news release on May 24, the federal law enforcement agency said the children include runaways as well as abductees by non-custodial individuals.

The operation, described by the agency as an effort focused on areas with high clusters of critically missing or endangered children, resulted in the safe location of 56 children and the recovery of 169 children. The children were found in areas both inside and outside the United States.

The youngest child who was rescued during the multi-agency effort was just six months old, the agency revealed. Additionally, of the missing children recovered, 62 percent were found within a week of the U.S. Marshals Service assisting with the investigation.

Meanwhile, U.S. Marshals also noted that 42 children were found outside of the city they went missing in, with 10 of those children being located in Mexico. Additionally, a number of teenage girls—described by the agency as possible victims of human trafficking—were located in the Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County areas from March 1 to May 15 as part of the nationwide sting operation, according to a separate May 24 news release.

Data released by the agency shows that 86 percent of the children were endangered runaways, 9 percent were family abductions, and 5 percent were considered otherwise missing.

Also as part of the operation, U.S. Marshals arrested a “Top 15 Most Wanted” couple after they fled from Washington state to Mexico with their five children—who they had taken into hiding. Investigators said charges for individuals taken into custody include sex offender violations, as well as “other related charges.”

Epoch Times Photo
Members of the U.S. Marshals Service monitor an area in New York City on April 2, 2015. (Victor J. Blue/Getty Images)

“The U.S. Marshals Service is fully committed to the important mission of protecting the American people, especially our most vulnerable population—our children,” Ronald Davis, director of the federal law enforcement agency, said in a statement.

“The results of this operation underscore that commitment, but also highlight the necessity of these critical efforts,” he continued. “Our continued success can only be achieved through our collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies, and partnership with NCMEC.”

The operation was largely conducted in federal districts across the United States, including the District of Columbia; Maryland; Massachusetts; South Carolina; New Orleans; San Antonio; Detroit; Yakima, Washington; Orlando, Florida; Los Angeles; eastern Virginia; northern Ohio; Guam; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Most Challenging Cases

The agency noted that the missing or endangered children were regarded as some of the “most challenging recovery cases” in the area largely due to indications of “high-risk factors such as victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions.”

A total of 28 cases, meanwhile, were handed to law enforcement agencies for further investigation into crimes such as drugs, weapons, sex trafficking, and sex offender violations, according to the agency. Law enforcement reported allegations of human trafficking in over 40 of the cases the U.S. Marshals Service assisted with.

“Operation We Will Find You is a great example of how the U.S. Marshals Service continues to prioritize child protection,” NCMEC president and chief executive Michelle DeLaune said. “NCMEC is proud of our long-standing partnership with the USMS and commends them and the participating state and local agencies who helped recover the 225 endangered missing children.”

Since the passage of the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act” in 2015, the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) recovered over 3,100 missing children, Davis said.

The 2015 law enhances law enforcement’s tool kit to recover endangered missing children regardless of whether a fugitive or sex offender was involved.

“The U.S. Marshals Service established a Missing Child Unit to oversee and manage the implementation of its enhanced authority under the act,” the agency stated.

Any information about missing or endangered children should be reported to local police offices or to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-The-Lost. Information about violent fugitives can be provided to the U.S. Marshals Service at (504) 589-6872, via email at, or with the USMS tips app. Crimestoppers GNO may also be contacted with tips at (504) 822-1111.

"We Have The Fattest Kids We've Ever Had!" - Why Testosterone Is Plummet...

Chicago Rocked By Violence As At Least 11 Killed Over Memorial Day Weekend 

The city of Chicago was rocked by violence over the holiday weekend as more than 40 people were wounded and 11 killed, the most deadly Memorial Day weekend in eight years. 

According to a tally from the Chicago Sun-Times, at least 45 people were injured in shootings or stabbings, while another 11 were killed. Two of the violent incidents happened not far from the home of new Democratic Mayor Brandon Johnson

A woman was found dead from stab wounds two blocks from the mayor’s home, while another individual was injured in a shooting in his West Side neighborhood, according to the Sun-Times. It was the most people killed since 2015, though not the most injured. 

Multiple police officers worked on their days off due to the expected increase in violence over the weekend. 

Homicide victims included a 33-year-old unidentified man who was shot in the armpit, 35-year-old William Hair who was shot in the chest, 22-year-old Johnathan Salgado, a 35-year-old man who was shot in the face while standing on a sidewalk, an unidentified woman killed in a drive-by shooting, a 26-year-old shot in the back, and a 35-year-old man shot in the head while in his car. 

The incidents took place throughout the city, including the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, the Heart of Chicago neighborhood, the Little Village neighborhood, the Austin neighborhood, the Lake View neighborhood, West Garfield Park, and Woodlawn. 

Two non-fatal shooting incidents involved separate 2-year-olds. One involved a young girl accidentally injuring herself with a gun she found in the street, while the other involved a boy who was shot in the hand while playing in a bedroom. 

The deadly weekend comes as Mayor Johnson is rolling out a safety program that includes having more police on the ground, an increase in peace safety officers on hand to de-escalate situations, and programs for Chicago’s youth.


“It’s going to take all of us, not just the police, not just city government, to ensure that our communities can live and thrive in peace and safety,” Johnson said last week. “However you decide to spend your holiday weekend in Chicago, your safety is my top priority.”

Chicago was not the only place that experienced excessive violence over the holiday weekend. Nine people were injured during a shooting at a beach in Hollywood, Florida. Those injured included children.

All Infected in COVID Outbreak at CDC Conference Were Vaccinated, Agency Confirms

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta on April 23, 2020. (Tami Chappell/AFP via Getty Images)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta on April 23, 2020. (Tami Chappell/AFP via Getty Images) 

A COVID-19 outbreak unfolded at a conference held by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) despite most attendees being vaccinated.

About 1,800 CDC staffers and others gathered in April in a hotel in Atlanta, where the CDC is headquartered, for a conference focused on epidemiological investigations and strategies.

On April 27, the last day of the conference, several people notified organizers that they had tested positive for COVID-19. The CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health worked together to survey attendees to try to figure out how many people had tested positive.

“The goals were to learn more about transmission that occurred and add to our understanding as we transition to the next phase of COVID-19 surveillance and response,” the CDC said in a May 26 statement.

Approximately 80 percent of attendees filled out the survey. Among those, 181 said they tested positive for COVID-19.

Every person who reported testing positive was vaccinated, a CDC spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email.

Nearly all respondents—99.4 percent—to the survey had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. And “there were very few unvaccinated attendees in general,” the spokesperson said.

Officials did not break down the vaccinated between those who had received a dose of the updated bivalent vaccines and those who had not. They were also not able to say how many people among those who tested positive work for the CDC.

“The survey did not ask about place of employment and responses were anonymous, so we are not able to answer this question,” the CDC spokesperson said.

About 360 people did not respond to the survey, so the actual outbreak may have been larger.

Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said on Twitter that the numbers made the conference a “superspreader event.”

Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, added that the outbreak shows COVID-19 is “still capable of causing big outbreaks and infecting many.”

A Georgia Department of Public Health spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email that many people who attended the conference were not residents of Georgia, and that many used tests at home.

There were no mask or vaccine mandates at the conference, though many attendees wore masks anyways, according to the CDC.

Bivalent Protection

The CDC said the survey results “underline the importance of vaccination for protecting individuals against severe illness and death related to COVID-19” because none of the people who said they tested positive reported going to a hospital.

No clinical trial efficacy data are available for the bivalent shots, even though they were first cleared nine months ago. They provide little protection against infection, according to observational data, though officials maintain they protect against severe illness. That protection is short-lived, according to studies, including non-peer-reviewed CDC publications.

The most recent publication, released on May 26, showed poor effectiveness against hospitalization from the Pfizer and Moderna bivalent COVID-19 vaccines, which replaced the old vaccines earlier this year.

Among adults without “documented immunocompromising conditions,” the protection was 62 percent between seven and 59 days but went to 47 percent before plunging to just 24 percent after 120 days.

Among adults with “documented immunocompromising conditions,” the effectiveness peaked at just 41 percent, hitting 13 percent after 120 days.

Researchers did not provide the effectiveness estimates among all adults, or the combined population of those with and without “documented immunocompromising conditions.” They also did not provide the unadjusted vaccine effectiveness (VE) estimates, or estimates before adjusting for certain variables.

“Both the crude VE and adjusted VE should be reported so that big discrepancies are evident to the reader and questioned,” David Wiseman, founder and president of Synechion, told The Epoch Times via email.

Effective against critical illness—defined as admission to intensive care, or death—peaked at 85 among the people deemed immunocompetent, but plunged to 33 percent after 120 days. Among those described as immunocompromised, the effectiveness was not estimated above 53 percent.

Effectiveness was not measured beyond 180 days.

Effectiveness for children was not examined as part of the research.

CDC researchers looked at data from its VISION Network, a network of hospitals in the United States. Exclusions included people under 50 who received four or more old vaccine boosters.

Just 23.5 percent of the immunocompetent and 16.4 percent of the immunocompromised were vaccinated, while the rest had received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

About 8 percent of American adults are still unvaccinated, according to CDC data, though that percentage may be a big overestimate (pdf).

Researchers said the data showed that bivalent doses “helped provide protection against COVID-19-associated hospitalization and critical disease” adding that “waning of protection was evidence in some groups.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information from the CDC.

Brad Lander freezing deposits at Capital One and KeyBank for not providing ‘anti-discrimination’ plan

Comptroller Brad Lander is freezing city deposits at two major banks because they’re not woke enough for him.

Lander, the city’s chief financial officer, boasted in a press release that Mayor Eric Adams and city Finance Commissioner Preston Niblack joined him as members of the city’s Banking Commission Thursday in taking action against Capital One and KeyBank — alleging both lenders “outright refused to submit required policies” to weed out “discrimination.”

Following its first-ever public hearing, the commission also voted to prohibit three other banks from accepting city money because they, too, failed to supply anti-discrimination policies in writing: International Finance Bank, PNC Bank, and Wells Fargo, according to Lander.

“Unfortunately, despite several opportunities to do so, five banks failed to comply with the … commission’s designation process – leaving us to conclude that they are not taking meaningful actions to combat discrimination in their operations and are not responsible stewards of public dollars,” Lander said.
Lander, the city’s chief financial officer, boasted in a press release that Mayor Eric Adams and city Finance Commissioner Preston Niblack joined him as members of the city’s Banking Commission Thursday in taking action against Capital One and KeyBank.
Getty Images

However, the Department of Finance on Friday issued a separate statement on behalf of the Adams administration , aiming to clear up some confusion over Lander’s remarks.

The agency said Capital One and KeyBank were “conditionally” designated as depository banks because they didn’t submit a “complete application,” but after one year can re-apply for full designation to begin accepting city deposits again. It also said both lenders submitted “very strong financial reports.”
KeyBank insists it doesn’t discriminate in its practices. “We believe this is a misunderstanding and we look forward to clarifying this issue with the Banking Commission,” added the lender in a statement.
GC Images

“Despite reports suggesting otherwise, the Banking Commission’s vote will not have any impact on banking services with the city and will not negatively affect any deposits currently held with the city’s designated banks,” added the agency.

Capital One and KeyBank held $7.2 million and $10 million in city deposits, respectively, as of the end of April.

In February, the commission, through Lander’s office, announced banks doing city business must show proof they’re trying to halt discrimination in lending, customer service and employment.

Lander didn’t single out any of the flagged banks for specific wrongdoing.
Capital One Bank in a statement said it “prohibits discrimination and harassment” in all operations.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Instead, he vaguely noted that the commission heard testimony from Muslims and other New Yorkers who alleged experiencing discriminatory practices while opening and closing accounts.

The commission did fully certify 26 other banks to receive city deposits.

The votes were the first cast by the commission since far-left Lander, a self-described socialist , and Adams, a centrist Democrat, joined after taking office in 2022.

Capital One in a statement said, “It prohibits discrimination and harassment against any applicant, intern, associate, vendor, contractor, customer, or client on the basis of protected characteristics.”

KeyBank said in a statement that it “does not discriminate in any of its operations.”

“We believe this is a misunderstanding and we look forward to clarifying this issue with the Banking Commission,” added the lender.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Commodity bull Goldman says ‘we were wrong’ but sticks to view

Credit: Wikimedia Commons 

Commodity cheerleader Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said its forecasts for major rises in raw materials this year hadn’t panned out well so far, but coupled that assessment with another call for a major rally.

“Bulls, like ourselves, find comfort in the fact that end-use demand across the commodity complex has not shown recessionary signs and investment in supply remains elusive,” analysts including Jeffrey Currie said in a note. “But this misses the point that we were wrong on price expectations.”

Commodities have sunk this year, with a Bloomberg gauge tumbling by almost 10% to hit the lowest since 2021 this week. The declines in energy and metals have been driven largely by China’s weaker-than-expected emergence from Covid Zero and concerns that the US is now headed for recession after an aggressive round of rate hikes from the Federal Reserve to contain inflation.

“Prices continue to move against our forecasts,” the analysts said in the May 23 report, pinning the probable explanation for their miss on an unprecedented clear-out of stockpiles and positioning. “What is the explanation? It is likely the largest commodity destocking the complex has ever witnessed.”

Against that backdrop, Goldman analysts expect commodities to come roaring back should recession concerns prove to be misplaced. “The absence of a recession would likely lead to higher oil and commodity prices as well as higher rates, to which equities would likely react poorly,” they said. They are now forecasting that the S&P GSCI gauge of commodities will return 30.3% on a 12-month horizon.

Read more: Goldman hikes gold forecast, reiterates bullish commodities view

Gov. Bill Lee To Send Tennessee National Guard Troops To Combat ‘Unprecedented Crisis’ At The Border 

Governor Bill Lee (R-TN)  authorized Thursday the deployment of 100 Tennessee National Guard troops to help secure the southern border in the wake of record-level crossings and illegal entries into the United States.

Lee joins other Republican governors, like Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in sending help to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has called on the Biden administration to take stronger measures to stop the flood of people crossing into the U.S. from Mexico. 

“America continues to face an unprecedented border crisis that threatens our nation’s security and the safety of Tennesseans,” Lee said in a statement obtained by The Daily Wire. “The federal government owes Americans a plan to secure our country, and in the meantime, states continue to answer this important call to service. I am again authorizing the Tennessee National Guard to help secure the Southern border, and I commend these troops for providing critical support.”

According to the governor’s office, the Tennessee troops will help patrol along the border, help with barrier placement, clear roads, and assist with outpost operations as part of Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star.” This is not the first time that Tennesseans have been sent to the border, as Lee also sent about 50 troops to the border in December 2021. 

“The men and women of the Tennessee National Guard are always ready to serve their country anywhere, anytime,” said Brigadier General Warner Ross, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “These troops are a capable contingent that will continue our long-standing tradition of responding to the call to aid our fellow Americans. The Tennessee National Guard is proud to serve and support our state partners in safeguarding the United States along the U.S. Southern border.”

Illegal crossings at the border have remained high under President Joe Biden, whose administration saw the record for most crossings in the days surrounding the expiration of Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allowed Border Patrol to turn away migrants based on COVID concerns. According to Border Patrol, roughly 83,000 people crossed the border the week that Title 42 ended. 


Lee’s actions follow a joint statement from 24 Republican governors who called out the Biden administration for its policies at the border and in support of Abbott. 

“All states have suffered from the effects of deadly illegal drugs coming across the border, and every state is a border state due to the devastating influx of drugs in our communities. Republican governors are leading the way to address the border crisis by increasing fentanyl sentencing and increasing support for law enforcement interdiction of drugs, among other measures,” the governors said

Drug deaths have been a particular focus for lawmakers as dangerous drugs have continued to be smuggled across the border. In Tennessee, the state’s bureau of investigation has raised alarm bells over drugs linked to Mexican cartels that it says are “very engaged in operations in Tennessee.”

The International Energy Administration expects solar power investment to outpace spending on oil production this year.,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/

  • This would mark the first time spending on the former outweighs spending on the latter.

  • The agency expects $1.7 trillion to be spent on clean technologies while just $1 trillion goes to fossil fuels.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Ford strikes lithium deals to support step up in EV output 

Ford Motor Co. reached a series of deals to buy lithium from projects in Canada to Chile, as automakers rush to secure the materials needed to build electric vehicles.

Ford has struck deals with Albemarle Corp., the world’s top producer, Chile’s SQM and Canada’s Nemaska Lithium, according to separate announcements Monday. The deals come ahead of the second day of an investor event focused on Ford’s $50 billion plan for electric models. The agreements will look to take advantage of President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which contains incentives for battery manufacturing and sourcing of materials from the US and its allies.

The availability and cost of crucial battery materials, including nickel and cobalt, have been key concerns for years among EV makers trying to build out their electric lineups. The issue has gained more urgency in recent months due to rising competition to strike supply pacts with miners and project developers and by wild swings in raw material costs. Processing is the “limiting factor,” said Ford chief executive officer Jim Farley.

“The mining part is not the constraint. It’s really the processing,” Farley said Monday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “So turning those raw materials, especially lithium and nickel, into processed materials we can put into a slurry to make the cells themselves.”

Companies including Ford and General Motors Co. have included prepayments or loans in recent pacts to help accelerate the development of new projects.

Farley is seeking to use the two-day investor event in Dearborn, Michigan, to convince investors on the merits of a strategy to lift annual electric vehicle output to 2 million by the end of 2026. The company has already locked up the lithium and cobalt supplies it requires for that expansion, the CEO said.

Albemarle said Monday that it will supply more than 100,000 tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide to Ford, enough to make for about 3 million EV batteries. The deal will start in 2026 and run to 2030.

Ford also agreed a supply deal with Energysource Minerals.

Ford in March agreed to take a direct stake in a battery-nickel plant under construction in Indonesia, and last year sealed a pact with Liontown Resources Ltd., the developer of an Australian lithium mine.

The processing constraints are also political, Farley said, since 80% of the processing is now done in China.

“Onshoring the processing is going to be the most important controller of cost and also politics,” the CEO said. “Eighty percent of the processing for nickel and lithium are being done in China and we need to localize that.”

(By Keith Naughton, David Stringer and Matthew Miller, with assistance from Thomas Biesheuvel and Mathieu Dion)

Read more: Ford in $4.5 billion deal for EV battery materials plant

McCarthy Vents Frustration Over Biden’s Unwillingness to Cut Spending in Debt Ceiling Negotiations

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters outside the West Wing following debt limit talks with President Joe Biden at the White House on May 9, 2023. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters outside the West Wing following debt limit talks with President Joe Biden at the White House on May 9, 2023. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) 

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) vented frustration over President Joe Biden’s unwillingness to reduce federal discretionary spending in 2024 in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling.

“It didn’t seem like it’d be this hard,” McCarthy told reporters at midday on May 24.

The Speaker then listed a litany of complaints against Biden and the Democrat party.

McCarthy said that Democrats have overspent, driving the country into debt, causing inflation, increasing dependence on China, and causing four bank failures, all while the president refused to negotiate on raising the debt ceiling for more than three months.

Though he expressed hope that an agreement could still be reached in time to prevent a default on U.S. obligations, McCarthy often struck a defensive tone.

“I’m not a senator. I don’t control the Senate. Why didn’t they pass something? The president didn’t talk to us for 97 days. So don’t blame me for reaching out to the Democrats, for begging the president to meet with me, and trying to find [a solution],” McCarthy said.

The Limit, Save, Grow Act—a Republican plan to increase the debt ceiling while reducing federal spending—passed the House on April 26 by one vote.

The measure would reduce federal spending in 2024, cap spending growth for 10 years, increase work requirements for some recipients of social services, take back unspent COVID-19 funds, and loosen permitting requirements for oil and gas.

The Treasury could lack the funds to meet all financial obligations in full as soon as June 1 without additional borrowing, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

“It’s not my fault that the Democrats today have become so extreme, so far toward the socialist wing that they are now opposed to work requirements, that they are now opposed to saving $1 less than you spent the year before. That, to me, really seems that the problem [is] the Democrats,” McCarthy said.

Republicans began by demanding that federal discretionary spending for 2024 be reduced to the 2023 level. That has emerged as a central sticking point in negotiations. However, McCarthy has lately used the phrase “spend less than we spent last year,” perhaps signaling a willingness to accept a smaller spending cut.

“When have I ever said, ‘You have to agree to 100 percent of what I want?’” McCarthy asked, indicating his willingness to make some concessions to Democrats. However, he reiterated his one non-negotiable: no increase in the debt limit without some agreement to reduce spending in 2024.

Asked whether the public would blame Republicans if a default resulted from the the fight over the debt ceiling, McCarthy first brushed off the suggestion that a default would occur. He then shifted any blame for the current impasse to Democrats.

“I don’t think I have to say who’s to blame. If the Republicans have passed a bill that raised the debt ceiling, did it in a responsible, sensible way, I think the American people understand that.” McCarthy added.

Democrats continue to portray the disagreement in opposite terms, accusing McCarthy and the GOP of using the debt limit to strong-arm their agenda into law rather than following the legislative process.

“I just heard Kevin McCarthy’s press conference. It sounds like he really is anxious to have a default on the debt, which I think would be damaging to our economy,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

“You know, he’s not negotiating. He’s giving us ransom notes,” McGovern added, evoking the metaphor often used by the president that Republicans are holding the U.S. economy hostage to their demands.

“This is about paying bills we’ve already accumulated,” McGovern said of the debt ceiling negotiation. “If you don’t want to accrue these bills, then don’t spend. But the place to do that is in the appropriations process.”

About 60 percent of Americans believe Congress should raise the debt ceiling only if spending cuts are also made, according to a poll by CNN and SSRS released May 24. About 24 percent of respondents said the limit should be raised no matter what.

Just 31 percent of respondents said the president has the right priorities, though the number for Republicans was 29 percent. Only 35 approved of the way Biden is handling the federal budget.

Despite the impasse in negotiations, McCarthy said he is determined to find a solution.

“I am not going to give up. We’re not going to default. We’re going to solve this problem. I will stay with it until we can get it done.”

Republican negotiators were headed back to the White House to continue talks on May 24, McCarthy said.

Apple closes in on a $3 trillion stock market valuation 

A few more bites out of Apple's (AAPL) stock by investors, and we may find the tech giant's market cap beyond the $3 trillion level.

Shares of the iPhone maker have surged 35% year to date, out-performing the S&P 500 pedestrian's 9% gain. Apple is the fourth-best performing component of the closely tracked FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) complex, lagging the 105% gain in Meta (META), 41% increase in Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), and 39% appreciation in Amazon (AMZN).

In the process of its push higher, Apple has added about $690 billion in market cap. The company's stock market valuation now stands at $2.74 trillion, according to Yahoo Finance data, only 9% away from the $3 trillion mark.

Apple Inc. (AAPL)
NasdaqGS - Nasdaq Real Time Price (USD)
As of -.Market open.

Apple is the highest-valued company in the stock market, with Microsoft (MSFT) a close second, sporting a $2.38 trillion market cap.

Pros point to several reasons behind the impressive run in Apple's stock.

First, Apple continues to have a great story to tell investors on multiple fronts.

"For Apple there is massive installed base momentum going to the iPhone 15 anniversary cycle, and it has put a tailwind in the stock coupled by demand being solid in the field," Wedbush analyst Dan Ives tells Yahoo Finance.CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20: Tim Cook attends the

That two could become a three soon. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

That installed base momentum could be stoked further at the company's 2023 Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off June 5.

Apple is widely anticipated to introduce the iOS 17 operating system. But some Apple watchers are holding out hope the company finally unveils its new AR/VR headset that has been in the works for years.

Meantime, Apple's latest quarterly results — while not perfect — have been viewed favorably by investors looking for relative safety amid the debt ceiling drama and sticky inflation.

"Overall, the results [from Apple] and guidance are exactly what investors were looking for from the company to feel reassured of its defensive positioning and at the same time the greater resilience of Big Tech in general in the current macro as well as on potential further macro deterioration, making it palpable to still keep paying 26x near-term earnings for Apple shares," said JP Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee in a client note.

Chatterjee added: "While we can see some investors squirm about a 26x earnings multiple, we believe the resilience of the business proving out in the numbers currently as well as the early part of the pandemic (2020) will amply justify the reasons to pay a premium."

FILE - In this May 7, 2018, photo, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett smiles during an interview in Omaha, Neb., with Liz Claman on Fox Business Network's
FILE - In this May 7, 2018, photo, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett smiles during an interview in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

Another vote of confidence from a special investor has helped sentiment on Apple, too.

Billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett said earlier this month he purchased more shares of Apple. Berkshire now owns a $151 billion stake in Apple, up from $1 billion in May 2016.

Berkshire is Apple's third-largest institutional shareholder, behind BlackRock (second) and Vanguard (one), according to Yahoo Finance data.

"Apple is different than the other businesses we own. It just happens to be a better business," Buffett said at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting earlier in May.

As for what could trip up Apple's stock, pros find it hard to come up with a major selling event. Many highlight China's economic recovery stalling as a key risk to Apple's stock price in 2023, however.

Said Ives: "Outside of the usual black swan events, the biggest risk to Apple’s stock is around the demand environment in China taking a step down. China is the hearts and lungs of the Apple growth story and so far so good, but that is the biggest risk for the stock."

Brian Sozzi is Yahoo Finance's Executive Editor. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn. Tips on the banking crisis? Email

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Chevron to Buy Shale Driller PDC in $6.3 Billion Stock Deal 

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp. agreed to buy Denver-based oil and gas producer PDC Energy Inc. in a $6.3 billion all-stock deal as it seeks to expand amid what’s expected to be a busy year of mergers and acquisitions in US shale.

Chevron will pay $72 a share, a roughly 14% premium on a 10-day average based on May 19 closing prices, according to a statement Monday. The deal will increase Chevron’s production by just under 10% and expand the oil giant’s holdings in the Colorado and West Texas shale basins. Separately Monday, Exxon Mobil Corp. agreed to sell assets in the Williston Basin to Chord Energy for $375 million.

Though a small deal by Chevron’s standards — the price is less than the company’s first quarter cash flow from operations — PDC fits neatly into Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth’s strategic plan to grow prudently in areas that fit with its existing assets rather take on large, transformative acquisitions. Chevron was widely praised for buying Noble Energy for $5 billion in a similar bolt-on deal in the midst of the pandemic in 2020 but has come under scrutiny recently about its lack of growth relative to Exxon Mobil Corp.

“PDC’s attractive and complementary assets strengthen Chevron’s position in key U.S. production basins,” Chevron CEO Mike Wirth said in the statement. “This transaction is accretive to all important financial measures and enhances Chevron’s objective to safely deliver higher returns and lower carbon.

Chevron will increase its capital expenditure budget by $1 billion per year, after realizing about $400 million in cost savings once the transaction closes by the end of the year, pending regulatory and PDC shareholder approval. Its new global spending range will be $14 billion to $16 billion a year through 2027.

Oil and gas producers are flush with cash after raking in record profits over the past year, leaving the US energy patch ripe for a takeover boom. Companies are looking to bulk up and consolidate, particularly in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, the most prolific US shale play.

PDC shares climbed as much as 8.5% before the start of regular trading in New York. Chevron shares fell 0.7%.

The total enterprise value, which includes debt, of the deal is $7.6 billion. PDC shareholders will receive 0.4638 shares of Chevron for each PDC share.

Chevron said it expects the tie-up to add about $1 billion in annual free cash flow at $70 per barrel Brent oil and Henry Hub natural gas at $3.50 per thousand cubic feet. Morgan Stanley and Evercore advised Chevron, while JPMorgan advised PDC.

(Updates with details from third paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

Monday, May 22, 2023

‘Stupid’: Climate ‘bedwetters’ turn Trevi Fountain black during protest

Depletion of US Munitions Stockpile Due to Ukraine War Will Benefit China: Former Military Officials

Military vehicles carrying DF-21D intermediate-range anti-ship ballistic missiles participate in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. (GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Military vehicles carrying DF-21D intermediate-range anti-ship ballistic missiles participate in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. (GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images) 

Two former military officials are sounding the alarm that the depletion of U.S. munitions as a result of Washington’s support of Ukraine could end up benefitting China. This is occurring as the communist regime is modernizing its military posing a grave threat to the United States, they say.

Air Force Col. (ret.) Rob Maness, a former bomber squadron commander who served the U.S. military for over 30 years, told The Epoch Times that China is overtaking the U.S. military while the country is unnecessarily distracted with Ukraine, “wokeism,” and more. Force structure is one of his primary concerns, considering the naval fleet of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is larger than that of the U.S. Navy.

He contends that national security experts in the West underestimate the impact of the size of Beijing’s navy, deflecting to the superior quality and technology of the U.S. Navy. “While that’s not necessarily untrue, numbers matter and these [experts] know that numbers matter,” he said. “They matter in ground forces, they matter in air forces, and they certainly matter in naval forces.”

In Senate testimony in April, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said the Chinese navy will have will increase the size of its navy by nearly 100 ships, “moving towards a fleet of 440 ships by 2030.” Previously, Del Toro also revealed that “by 2028, [the U.S.] will have approximately 291 ships or so.”

The Epoch Times also spoke to Brigadier General (ret.) Blaine “Blaino” Holt, a former deputy U.S. military representative to NATO and cofounder of the nonprofit Restore Liberty. He is considerably less concerned about the size and strength of the Chinese navy. For example, he said, reports of a new Chinese aircraft carrier, or supercarrier, have created quite a stir in the media.

“But these kinds of things are built for Chinese prestige,” he said. “Yes, they’ve got a big blue-water navy with more ships than we do, but how are their ships?” he said, adding “they’re not that great.” “They don’t have the same firepower we offer [with our naval vessels].”

Maness, however, contended that size still matters given that “the entire Indo-Pacific theater is navy-centric.” If communist China’s aggression leads to war, he said naval forces will be at the center of it. If this confrontation is imminent, he said, the United States should be focused on increasing the size and capability of its navy.

ukraine soldiers
Ukrainian service members fire a shell from a towed howitzer FH-70 at a front line, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Donbas Region, Ukraine, on July 18, 2022. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Rising Threat, Depleting Inventory

In addition to his concern about the U.S. Navy, Maness also expressed concern about the threat of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and nuclear arms. “The Chinese have redoubled their efforts to increase that force capacity to come to a more of parity with the United States in these areas,” he said.

Earlier this year, a congressional notification from U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which oversees the nuclear arsenal, revealed that China has more intercontinental ballistic missile launchers than the United States. “The U.S. must put more effort into increasing our production capability on these,” Maness said.

Holt agreed, saying, “The U.S. should not be focused on the Chinese military’s size and strength. He said, “We should be looking in the mirror.” In agreement with Maness, he said, “We’re overly engaged in Ukraine, giving up equipment and munitions.”

Maness said, “I only have access to what’s publicly available, but it certainly doesn’t look like the United States is doing the things it needs to do to deter China, which on the surface appears to be a near-peer competitor.” Even so, he said, “I still think they’re a second-grade power in that part of the world, but it is quite clear their goal is to become the great power across the globe—and we’re not doing what needs to be done to deter them.”

Maness criticized the billions in aid sent by the United States to Ukraine, arguing that “Ukraine has never been a vital national interest to the United States.” According to him, “western Europe under NATO is more than capable of defending itself.”

To date, the United States has provided $46 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, including drones, tanks, missiles, and artillery, as well as training, logistics, and intelligence support.

“We keep putting our [U.S.] resources in Ukraine, not just with dollars, but also with our war reserve materials and weapons,” Maness said. “After the 20-plus year wasted effort in Afghanistan, our war reserve stocks are low, and haven’t been replenished.”

According to Holt, “Whether someone agrees with our involvement in Ukraine or not, the mathematics is the same.” Agreeing with Maness, he said, “We’re giving up our stocks and ammunition for a war in Ukraine that comes off of 20 straight years of warfare in Afghanistan.” In the meantime, he said, “China has been happy to have the opportunity to build up its conventional forces while watching us weaken ourselves.”

Peace Through Strength 

Like Maness, Holt said “wokeism” has infiltrated the ranks of the military and the cultural shift is harming service members. “At a time when we should be strengthening our own military and guaranteeing victory against any of the nation’s enemies, we’re asking [service members] for their pronouns,” he said.

House Armed Services Committee members Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) recently called attention to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, inquiring about forced participation in sensitivity training that included “understanding and respecting” others’ preferred pronouns.

“Patriots are being called extremists and they’re rooting them out from the military’s ranks,” he added. “Loving your country is not extremism.” Instead of a “love for country” or the values of the Constitution being taught, he said, the military is pushing divisive race theory-based equity training and policies. “It’s a dangerous game for the U.S. to do what it’s doing to itself culturally.”

Holt said, “Patriotic service needs to be something that’s honorable again. It’s in our best interest to teach our military leadership about the concept of victory, not maintaining little wars all over the world.”

It’s not too late to achieve “peace through strength” throughout the world, Maness said. Not only must wokeism be brought to an end, he said, “we need to be stronger than [our adversaries], and we need to stay stronger than [our adversaries],” he explained. “We also have to have the political will to use force when it’s necessary, and that’s not something I’d expect to see from the Biden administration.

“What we are seeing while we focus on Ukraine is Russia push more towards China,” Maness said. “Combine their nuclear forces together, and they absolutely created a very large risk for the United States, NATO, and Indo-Pacific allies.”

Holt said, “If the U.S. is going to be any kind of deterrence, we need to sober up and show some strength.” According to him, the “State Department needs to start getting interested in diplomacy again.” Those are the things that will deter China, he added.

The Pentagon did not respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment.

Congo President heads to China amid mining contract negotiations

Congo President Felix Tshisekedi. Credit: Wikimedia Commons 

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi will visit China next week as the two nations look to conclude the re-negotiation of a $6.2 billion mineral-for-infrastructure deal, people with direct knowledge of the trip said.

It’s the president’s first visit to the country, Congo’s biggest trading partner. The two nations did $21.7 billion of trade in 2022, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The trip comes as Tshisekedi prepares for elections scheduled for December. Spokespeople for the president and the government didn’t respond to text messages requesting comment. China’s Foreign Ministry announced on Friday that Congolese Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula would visit China May 21-24.

Tshisekedi is scheduled to travel to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen May 24 through May 29 with a contingent of government officials including his ministers of mines, hydropower and defense. Besides meeting with counterpart Xi Jinping, Tshisekedi is also scheduled to visit a number of battery, energy, mining and tech companies.

China is the primary destination for most of Congo’s copper and cobalt, a key ingredient in electric-vehicle batteries. The central African nation produces 70% of the world’s cobalt and was tied with Peru as the second-biggest source of copper last year.

In 2008, Congo signed a deal with Chinese state companies to finance $3 billion of infrastructure projects using the proceeds from a $3.2 billion copper and cobalt mine. The landmark agreement was signed at a time when Congo was struggling to secure financing after years of war.

‘Bad contract’

In January, Tshisekedi told Bloomberg the contract was “badly drawn up” and that Congo had “derived no benefit from it.” The president said the deal needed to be “rebalanced.”

While the mine is pumping out metal, the Chinese partners have only disbursed about $822 million of infrastructure funding over 14 years, the country’s inspector general said in a report in February.

The watchdog accused the Chinese companies of financial malfeasance, including transfer pricing and dumping, and called for them to be fined $100 million for breaching capital controls under the nation’s mining code by not repatriating more than $2 billion in export revenue.

The inspector general called on the Chinese partners to release $1 billion in infrastructure funding this year and amend the contract to ensure half of future infrastructure contracts go to Congolese companies.

China’s embassy dismissed the report’s conclusions at the time.

Royalty billions

Congo is also negotiating a final deal with China’s CMOC Group Ltd., which is in a dispute with its partner, state-owned Gecamines, over the Tenke Fungurume copper and cobalt mine. Gecamines says CMOC owes billions in royalties and a court-appointed administrator blocked Tenke’s exports last July.

While CMOC and Gecamines have agreed on the outlines of a resolution, they’ve yet to sign a final agreement, Gecamines Chairman Guy-Robert Lukama told Bloomberg Thursday in an interview in Kinshasa, Congo’s capital. In the interim, the joint venture has re-started exports of copper mined in 2022, but is still blocked by the finance ministry from exporting cobalt, he said.

CMOC didn’t respond to emailed questions on Friday. Officials from Gecamines, which is also a partner in the minerals-for-infrastructure contract, are also traveling to China.

(By Michael J. Kavanagh)

NY County’s Voters All Identified as Democrats on Voter IDs

A "Voter ID" sign at a polling site in a file photo. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

A "Voter ID" sign at a polling site in a file photo. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images) 

All voters in Nassau County, New York, were identified as Democrats on their voter ID cards irrespective of political affiliation because of an error by a printing company, triggering accusations about “sabotaging elections” ahead of the upcoming primaries.

The primaries are scheduled for June. Voters in the county, who number nearly a million, began to receive their voter ID cards last week, with voters supporting Republicans, independents, or another political party surprised to see themselves identified as Democrats on the cards, according to NBC.

“We’re already starting to get phone calls from people, saying ‘I’m a registered Republican, I’m a registered conservative—how come I’m being identified as a Democrat? Who changed my registration?’ And they’re quite upset about it,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.

“There’s a lot of confusion, there’s a lot of people emotionally upset about this,” he added. Blakeman, a Republican, is pinning the blame on Rochester-based Phoenix Graphics, the company hired by Nassau County’s Board of Elections to print the voter ID cards.

The printing company called it an “isolated event” that was the result of a human error.

“We apologize for our mistake, especially to Nassau County officials, who bear no responsibility for this problem,” he said.

However, this isn’t the first time that Phoenix Graphics has committed such a mistake. In 2020, Phoenix messed up absentee ballots for 99,000 voters in Brooklyn. The printing firm erroneously sent mailings to voters containing return envelopes bearing the names and addresses of other people.

Meanwhile, the campaign of Kari Lake, the 2022 Republican candidate for Arizona governor who has challenged the outcome of her race, slammed the incident.

“A ‘printing error’ in Nassau County, N.Y. led to every voter in that county being listed as a Democrat. There’s that word again. ‘Printer error.’ This is just their blanket excuse for sabotaging elections and hoping nobody calls them on it,” her campaign said in a May 21 tweet.

Since New York is a closed primary state, voters registered as belonging to a party aren’t allowed to vote for any other party. As such, if a GOP supporter is identified as Democrat in the voter registration system, that individual would be barred from casting votes in the Republican primary.

Trust in Elections

Out of the 972,000 voters in the county, Democrats account for around 40 percent. At a press conference, Blakeman ruled out partisanship as a cause for the mishap and said that the county is investigating the matter.

“I don’t think the Democratic Party is engaged in a conspiracy to create havoc in their own primaries. I don’t think the Democratic Party wants a bunch of Republicans showing up to vote in their primaries,” said Blakeman, according to the New York Post.

However, some voters are now questioning the election process due to the typo error.

“I have no faith in this country today, as far as what the politics are,” said George Klein, a voter from Nassau. “I’m going to vote Republican primary day, and Democrat on that is not going to affect it,” he said referring to the erroneous ID card he received.

During the 2022 midterms, only 56 percent of Republicans thought the elections would be administered “very” or “somewhat” well, according to Pew Research.

Accurate Voter ID Cards

According to Phoenix Graphics, they are correcting the error and will send out new and accurate voter ID cards soon at no additional cost to taxpayers.

Democratic County Election Commissioner Jim Scheuerman told the New York Post that Phoenix will be paying around $300,000 required to resend the correct cards to voters.

Phoenix was contracted more than 10 years ago via a sealed-bid process. Officials with Nassau County’s Board of Elections are reportedly not ruling out considering other vendors to ensure that the recent mistake doesn’t occur again, Fox reported.