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One year after China did not import even one ounce of US soybeans as the trade feud was escalating at the end of 2018, in November 2019, China – which has found itself roiled by soaring food prices – saw its imports of US soybeans surge to the highest in 20 months after more American cargoes cleared customs ahead of the alleged signing of the Phase One trade deal in January.

According to data from China’s Customs Administration, China’s inbound shipments from the U.S. more than doubled to 2.6 million tons, the highest since March 2018, and up from about 1.1 million tons in October. As noted above, in November of 2018 – when the trade war between the two nations was escalating rapidly – China imported no U.S. soybeans.

As Bloomberg notes, citing USDA data, China’s total commitments in the current marketing year hit 10.5 million tons, compared with just 2 million tons the previous year.

That said, the surge in US soybean imports was not some trade war concession aimed at the US because as US imports jumped, so did China’s imports from its top Latin American markets: specifically, in November, China bought bought 3.9 million tons of soybeans from Brazil, Beijing’s largest supplier, up from 3.8 million tons in October and 5.1 million tons in November last year; imports from Argentina also rose from 959,936 tons in October to 1.4 million tons, and up from a tiny 36,119 tons in November last year.

According to China’s National Grain and Oils Information Center, December imports may climb to about 9 million tons following more shipments from U.S., which could ease supply shortages at some crushers.

And while China is unlikely to order less soybean from either Brazil or Argentina any time soon as the two nations have emerged as the two key supply chain alternatives to the US, where any trade goodwill may be undone with stroke of a tweet, Bloomberg notes that Chinese companies are likely to continue purchasing American soybeans especially if the two countries sign the partial trade deal in early January, in line with the market’s expectations.

There is also China’s desperation to repopulate its decimated pig population and to do that, Beijing needs access to all the soybeans it can get. It explains why China has been issuing regular tariff waivers (which cover 30% of the retaliatory tariffs on US soybeans) for domestic firms to buy U.S. soybeans.

That said, China was quick to pretend like the surge in US soybean purchases was in fact some concession, and shortly after the news of the import jump hit, China’s infamous twitter troll, Global Times editor Hu Xijin, tweeted “congrats to US farmers” adding a tacit threat that US farmers should “prod” the US government to sign the Phase One deal if they want China’s vital goodwill to continue, to wit: “meanwhile please prod the US government, making sure the two countries can sign phase one deal smoothly and the next trade talks continue to make progress. This is vital to stabilize China’s purchase of US farm products.”

What he really meant was that China, where we will soon need a bigger chart to show soaring food hyperinflation (and middle-class anger at surging good prices) is desperate to buy US agricultural products to keep prices lower, and with every passing months, Trump’s negotiating leverage rises in lockstep with Chinese food inflation.

He also really meant “congrats to Chinese farmers” for procuring the soybeans they so urgently need if they are to have any hope of restocking China’s most popular protein: pork.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: China’s Imports Of US Soy Soar To 20 Month High As Food Inflation Explodes

The final 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the House on Wednesday 377-48 at a massive and unprecedented $738 billion, in a nearly united Republican vote which also included over 180 House Democrats. It marks a $22 billion spending increase for the Pentagon.

It’s expected to be signed by President Trump likely next week after it goes through the Senate, after it was stripped of all significant items the administration would find objectionable, including a controversial War Powers Act resolution meant to end US involvement in Yemen and which would would have required Congressional approval for military action against Iran.

Interestingly, the House bill also removed language that blocked the Pentagon from researching low-yield nuclear weapons, and the House also backed away from controversial border wall restrictions.

Long sought after sanctions targeting Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany were added. Trump had previously accused Berlin of handing “billions” of dollars to the Russians to the detriment of Ukraine, whose gas transit facilities will be bypassed by the new Gazprom spearheaded venture, set for completion within months. Expanded and severe new sanctions were also added against Syria, known as the ‘Caesar bill’.

Crucially, Trump’s ‘Space Force’ will now become a reality. As Defense News explains:

In a history making win for Trump, the agreement would add a new armed service, dedicated to space, under Title 10 of U.S. Code, which was an action the White House saw as pivotal to solidifying it as a fully independent military branch. The Space Force would be housed within the Air Force and led by the chief of space operations, who would report directly to the Air Force secretary and be a member of the Joint Chiefs.

Meanwhile, the most vocal progressive Democrat opponent of the massive defense spending bill, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), had this to say in a floor speech ahead of Wednesday’s vote: “there are many things you can call the bill, but it’s Orwellian to call it progressive.”

“Let’s speak in facts,” said Khanna. “This defense budget is $120 billion more than what Obama left us with. That could fund free public college for every American. It could fund access to high-speed, affordable internet for every American. But it’s worse. The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Yemen: stripped by the White House. The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Iran: stripped by the White House.”

Indeed, the most worrisome aspect to the new NDAA is that it makes it easier for the White House to go to war with Iran, at a moment tensions continue to soar.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Trump’s “Space Force” Officially Launched In $738BN Defense Bill

If Russia spending $100,000 on Facebook ads constitutes election interference, and Donald Trump asking Ukraine to investigate the Bidens is too – then Hillary Clinton takes the cake when it comes to influence campaigns designed to harm a political opponent.

Contained within Monday’s FISA report by the DOJ Inspector General is the revelation that Fusion GPS, the firm paid by the Clinton campaign to produce the Steele dossier, “was paying Steele to discuss his reporting with the media.” (P. 369 and elsewhere)

And when did Steele talk with the media (which got him fired as an FBI source)? September of 2016, roughly six weeks before the election.

One of the more damaging articles to result from these meetings was authored by Yahoo News journalist Michael Isikoff, who said in an interview that he was invited by Fusion GPS to meet a “secret source” at a Washington restaurant.
That secret source was none other than Christopher Steele, a former MI-6 Russia expert who fed the Isikoff information for a September 23, 2016 articlewhich would have had far greater reach and impact coming from such a widely-read media outlet vs. $100,000 in Russian-bought Facebook ads.

Isikoff’s article claimed that former Trump campaign aide Carter Page “has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials – including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president.”

This allegaton was found by special counsel Robert Mueller report to be false. Moreover, the FBI knew about it in December, 2016, when DOJ #4 Bruce Ohr told the agency as much.

“Steele told us that in September [of 2016] her and Simpson gave an “off-the-record” briefing to a small number of journalists about his reporting,” reads page 165 of the FISA report, which says that Steele “acknowledged that Yahoo News was identified in one of the court filings in the foreign litigation as being present.

Put another way, Hillary Clinton paid Christopher Steele to feed information to the MSM in order to harm Donald Trump right before the 2016 election. Granted, there were intermediaries; the Clinton campaign paid law firm Perkins Coie, which paid Fusion GPS, which paid Steele. And if asked, we’re guessing Clinton would claim she had no idea this happened – which, quite frankly, simply isn’t plausible given the stakes.

Whatever the case – the act of Simpson paying Steele to peddle fiction to the media for the purpose of harming Trump, by itself, constitutes blatant election meddling by every standard set by the left over the past three years.

We’re sure Hillary can explain that if and when she jumps into the 2020 race.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: FISA Report Reveals Clinton Meddled In 2016 Election

After months of dodging questions over her income, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) revealed on Sunday night that she made nearly $2 million from legal consulting for corporate clients while she was a law professor at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and other law schools, starting in 1995.

The income included $212,000 for representing Travelers Indemnity Co. in 2009, $190,000 for representing a department store chain, and $80,000 doing bankruptcy work for Enron creditors.

The Washington Post immediately framed the disclosure as an example of hypocrisy, saying Warren’s past income “doesn’t fit neatly with her current presidential campaign brand as a crusader against corporate interests.”

For instance, the documents released Sunday show that Warren made about $80,000 from work she did for creditors in the energy company Enron’s bankruptcy and $20,000 as a consultant for Dow Chemical, a company that was trying to limit the liability it faced from silicone breast implants that were made by a connected firm. –Washington Post

Warren’s critics, such as Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, seized on the opportunity to suggest that “While she advocates for socialism she hypocritically lives a millionaire lifestyle.

What the Post did not make immediately clear, however, is that Warren made all this money over the span of 17 years (“the figures disclosed Sunday show that nearly all of the money was made from cases filed after she got her job at Harvard in 1995”) – drawing immediate criticism from many who suggested that WaPo’s failure to highlight the time frame until the sixth paragraph was unfair.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Controversy Erupts After Elizabeth Warren Reveals Millions In Corporate Consulting Income

Twitter has written “shadow banning” aka, censorship, into their new terms. The platform will now intentionally “limit the visibility” of some users. Expect those who dissent from the official narrative to be the ones censored.

Critics have accused Twitter of censorship for quite some time now. But this time, it’s official. The company has admitted they will attempt to silence those critical of the ruling class. According to RT, the news terms will be taking effect in January of 2020. While the new terms don’t look like much to write home about, some tweaks to the language could have larger repercussions for users, limiting their reach behind the scenes without their knowledge.

We may also remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, limit distribution or visibility of any Content on the service, suspend or terminate users, and reclaim usernames without liability to you,” the new terms state.

The social media giant is telling users that it reserves the right shadow ban or “throttle” or censor certain accounts. And it is not clear on what basis will it make those decisions, although we guess (based on their past which is rife with censorship) that accounts that aren’t parroting the government’s official narrative will be on the list.

While Twitter has previously insisted point-blank “we do not shadow ban,” in the pre-2020 terms the company split hairs between shadow banning and “ranking” posts to determine their prominence on the site, and acknowledged deliberately down-ranking “bad-faith actors” to limit their visibility.

In January 2018, conservative media watchdog group Project Veritas published footage showing Abhinov Vadrevu, a former Twitter software engineer, discussing shadow banning as a “strategy” the company was at least considering, if not already using. “One strategy is to shadow ban so you have ultimate control. The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned because they keep posting and no one sees their content,” Vadrevu said. “So they just think that no one is engaging with their content when in reality, no one is seeing it.”

The new terms will make shadow bans an official policy, all but guaranteeing continued cries of bias and censorship from the platform’s many critics will be silenced.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Twitter Censorship Confirmed: “Shadow Banning” Is Now Written Into The Platform’s New Terms

Ukrainian gas giant Burisma leveraged their relationship with Hunter Biden in order to curry favor with the Obama State Department in 2016, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by journalist John Solomon.

Burisma, represented by American lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies (founded by former Clinton administration officials Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano), mentioned Hunter Biden’s name in email exchanges with State Department staff while seeking a meeting – ” then mentioned him again during the meeting as part of an effort to improve Burisma’s image in Washington,” according to the report.

The email exchanges between State Department staffers show that Karen Tramontano, chief executive of Blue Star, cited Mr. Biden’s position in trying to secure a meeting with a senior official at the State Department.

“She noted that two high profile U.S. citizens are affiliated with the company (including Hunter Biden as a board member),” the special assistant at the Office of the Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment wrote in the Feb. 24, 2016, email.

Ms. Tramontano met with the undersecretary, Catherine Novelli, on March 1, 2016, the documents show. During the meeting, Ms. Tramontano mentioned Mr. Biden served on the company’s board, according to a former State Department official familiar with the discussion. –Wall Street Journal

The 2016 lobbying effort was an attempt to change Burisma’s reputation in Washington.

Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma in 2014 while his father was Vice President, and Obama’s ‘point man’ on Ukraine policy. The elder Biden notoriously pressured Ukraine’s president to fire the country’s lead prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was leading a wide-ranging investigation into Burisma at the time. While MSM outlets have reported that the probe had been long-closed by the time, however Shokin said in a sworn affidavit I was forced out because I was leading a wide-range corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine, and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was a member of the board of directors.”

Blue Star’s efforts for Burisma came as the company and its Ukrainian tycoon founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, faced investigations in Ukraine focused on allegations of tax irregularities, money laundering and illegal enrichment

Mr. Zlochevsky was never charged, and a lawyer for Burisma said at the time that the investigations were closed because of a lack of evidence.

The dropping of the investigations in 2016 came after Ukraine’s prosecutor general was dismissed. Vice President Biden and European Union officials had brought pressure on the prosecutor, seeing him as a hindrance to anticorruption efforts. His dismissal has been seized upon by Mr. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as evidence that Vice President Biden exerted undue pressure on Kyiv to help his son. –Wall Street Journal

Amazing, nobody cites Shokin’s affidavit claiming he was fired for investigating Burisma.

House Democrats, meanwhile, have been conducting an impeachment inquiry against President Trump, whose attorney Rudy Giuliani has been conducting an investigation “concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption,” which Giuliani says “was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges.”

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Ukrainians Pimped Hunter Biden’s Seat For Leverage With Obama State Department

Via Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com,

Former CIA Officer and whistleblower Kevin Shipp says the so-called whistleblower the Democrats are using to try to impeach President Trump is part of another Deep State hoax.

Shipp says, “This is not a whistleblower. Let’s just start with that. This is a leaker…”

“This person did not have anything to blow the whistle on. Everything written in this document is written not by this leaker, but by attorneys, and it is hearsay. There is no evidence in it whatsoever. It is not a whistleblower complaint. He did not go through proper channels. He went directly to Congressman Adam Schiff, and people have got to understand this is another shadow government Deep State operation actually trying to remove the President. What they did was real sly. If they would have brought this leaker ahead, they would have taken him apart. The whistleblower, or leaker, would have been investigated. Everybody connected with him would have been investigated…

So, what they craftily did was put him under the whistleblower statute so he could not be investigated. The mysterious sources he was using could not be investigated, and that’s their plan. That’s what they did and also actually changed the whistleblower rules to include hearsay, which would have been thrown out of court. This is a Deep State operation like Russia collusion 2.0. . . . This is another criminal operation to impeach Donald Trump…This is very similar to a KGB or SVR operation.

Shipp says this type of hoax could not be perpetrated on the public without the help and coordination of the mainstream media (MSM). Shipp explains,

“What they do when they do these operations, and they are so full of themselves and have used them so many times before, the reason why people don’t realize this is the news media, the arm of the Democrat Party and the Deep State, are lying like Adam Schiff, like CBS and others are lying about the facts. So, people watching these news organizations don’t realize how stupid this is and what essentially is another coup.”

Planners of the first President Trump coup, high ranking rogue FBI employees, used what they called a “Media Leak Strategy” to leak information to the propaganda press and then use the articles written by them to back up their phony narrative. Shipp says this is happening again with the latest CIA leaker. Shipp contends,

“This leaker, plant got this false information and gave it to Adam Schiff, and then they created their own news stories about this. Then this whistleblower used those news stories to try to add credibility to the garbage he’s put in the complaint. That is exactly what they did here.”

Shipp says one of the first to be charged in the Russia collusion hoax, in his opinion, will be former CIA Director John Brennan, and he will roll over and sing like a bird. Shipp says, “Brennan has been known to be spineless…”

I think John Brennan will roll over on James Clapper. I think John Brennan will roll over on Jim Comey. I think John Brennan will roll over on the coup itself when he’s looking at the rest of his life in prison. . . . He’ll roll over on Obama. This comes down to saving his own skin. Does John Brennan, former Director of the CIA, want to be in a cell with Billy Bob for the rest of his life? Heck no. Self-preservation will always come first with these people, and, yes, he will roll.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says the impeachment inquiry “will be worth it” even if the Democrats lose the House of Representatives in 2020. What?? How can an amateurish phony whistleblower story, they are using to try to impeach President Trump, be “worth it”? Shipp says, “It’s going to be worth it because it’s going to keep a lot of them out of prison and reveal the extent of this.”

It goes all the way to the former President of the United States Barack Obama, George Soros and globalism. It all leads to that, and they know it. It is more important for them to stay out of prison than win the Election of 2020. They are going to dramatically hurt themselves because this is going to come out. Trump is going to win in a landslide, and a lot of them are going to lose their seats. Pelosi does not care about that. What she cares about is what is really going on behind the scenes, and it’s this deep dark criminal globally-connected operation, including the Clinton Foundation, that they are trying to cover for.”

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with former CIA Officer and whistleblower Kevin Shipp, author of the popular book “From the Company of Shadows.”

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Former CIA Officer: Trump Impeachment ‘Hoax’ “Very Similar To A KGB Operation

Former Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe looks like he is going to be charged for his role in the Trump Russia hoax to try to remove a duly elected President from office.

Former CIA Officer Kevin Shipp, who is an expert on counter-intelligence, says McCabe is going roll over on his co-conspirators and talk if the DOJ cuts him a deal. Shipp explains,

Yes, I do think he will talk, absolutely. It’s either that or be imprisoned with Billy Bob for the next 15 or 20 years. The motivation is great for him to talk…

This is one of their most outrageous things the Shadow Government and the Deep State has done. They ran a counter-intelligence espionage operation, and that was their excuse to open an investigation…

It is clear to me that spying on Trump was ordered by Obama. It had to be, no doubt about it. He gets a Presidential brief on what the FBI, CIA, NSA are doing every single day. The FBI spied on the Trump campaign with an unprecedented domestic spy operation, and that is rocking this country.”

Shipp points out that what happened with President Trump is a first in U.S. history. Shipp says,

“This is huge that they had a domestic spying program involving CIA and FBI informants targeting a Presidential candidate and then the actual President himself. This has never happened before, and I am hoping it will never happen again.

This must come out. It has to come out if we are going to retain our democracy and our constitutional republic. These people have got to be exposed, they have got to be indicted, and they have to be charged.

If they are not, it’s pretty much over for our justice system.

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with former CIA Officer and whistleblower
Kevin Shipp, author of the top-selling book about the Deep State called “From the Company of Shadows

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Former CIA Spook: “Clear To Me That Spying On Trump Was Ordered By Obama”

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