Stampede of the unicorns: will a new breed of tech giants burst the bubble?

Lyft, which went public on Friday, will soon be joined by Uber, Airbnb and other companies valued over $1bn – and they may be just the animal to burst a bubble

Five years ago Aileen Lee, founder of Silicon Valley investor Cowboy Ventures, coined the term “unicorn” for a private company valued at more than $1bn. Back then unicorns were almost as rare as their mythical namesakes – just 39 existed, according to Lee. Now there are 334 around the world, worth more than $1tn. And this week some of the very biggest beasts started stampeding towards the public markets.

Related: Lyft share price soars 20% in minutes on taxi app’s stock market debut

Related: IPO mania: San Francisco braces for ‘earthquake’ of new tech millionaires

Related: ‘I made $3.75 an hour’: Lyft and Uber drivers push to unionize for better pay

I think there is a lot of worry that this is the top of the market. If a bear market happens, these companies are not going to be very popular

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The New Grand Strategy Of The United States

Authored by Thierry Meysan via The Voltaire Network,

Many people think that the United States is very active, but does not succeed in much. For example, it is said that its wars in the Greater Middle East are a succession of failures. But for Thierry Meyssan, the USA has a coherent military, commercial and diplomatic strategy. According to its own objectives, it advances patiently, and is crowned with success.
 

It is commonly believed in the United States that the country has no Grand Strategy since the end of the Cold War.

A Grand Strategy is a vision of the world that one seeks to impose, and that all administrations must respect. So, even if you lose in one particular theatre of war, the fight continues in others, and finally ends in triumph. At the end of the Second World War, Washington chose to follow the directives set by ambassador George Keenan in his famous diplomatic telegramme. It proposed describing an alleged Soviet expansionism in order to justify containment of the USSR. Indeed, although the USA had lost the wars in Korea and Vietnam, it finished by prevailing.

It is very rare to be able to rethink a Grand Strategy, even if there were others during that period, in particular, with Charles De Gaulle in France.

Over the last eighteen years, Washington has been able to progressively set new objectives and new tactics with which to attain them.

1991-2001: a period of uncertainty

When the Soviet Union collapsed on 25 December 1991, Father Bush’s USA supposed that they no longer had any rivals. The victorious President by default demobilised 1 million soldiers and imagined a world of peace and prosperity. He liberalised the transfer of capitals so that the capitalists would be able to get richer and, he believed, thus enrich their fellow citizens.

However, capitalism is not a political project, but a means of making money. The major US businesses – not the federal state – therefore allied themselves with the Chinese Communist Party (the reason for Deng Xiaoping’s famous « journey to the South »). They delocalised their businesses with very low added value from the West to China, where the workers were uneducated, but their wages were on average 20 times lower. The long process of the de-industrialisation of the West had begun.

In order to manage its transnational affairs, the Grand Capital moved its assets to countries with low taxation rates, where it realised that it could avoid its social responsibilities. These countries, whose fiscal exemption and discretion are indispensable for international commerce, suddenly found themselves swept along on a gigantic wave of fiscal optimisation, even a massive fraud system, from which they benefited in silence. The reign of Finance over the economy was beginning.

Military Strategy

In 2001, Secretary for Defense and permanent member of the « Continuity of Government ») [1] Donald Rumsfeld, created the Office of Force Transformation, which he handed to Admiral Arthur Cebrowski. This man had already computerised the armies, and was now set to modify their mission.

Without the Soviet Union, the world had become unipolar, which is to say no longer governed by the Security Council, but by the United States alone. In order to maintain its dominant position, it was obliged to « lose some to gain more », in other words, to divide Humanity in two. On one side, the stable states, meaning the members of the G8 – Russia included – and their allies), and on the other side, the rest of the world, viewed as a simple reservoir of natural resources. Washington no longer considered access to these resources as vital for itself, but intended for them to become accessible to the stable states only by permission of the USA. From that point on, it would be necessary to destroy – preventively – all the state structures in these reservoirs of resources, so that no-one could either challenge the will of the top world power, or do without it [2].

Since then, this strategy has been implemented ceaselessly. It began in the Greater Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen). However, contrary to what had been announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, (Pivot to Asia), it was not continued into the Far East, due to the military development of China, but in the Caribbean Basin (Venezuela, Nicaragua).

Diplomatic Strategy

In 2012, President Barack Obama took up the leitmotiv of the Republican Party and made the exploitation of oil and gas by hydraulic fracturing a national priority. Within a few years, the United States multiplied its investments and became the world’s major producer of hydrocarbons, reversing the paradigms of international relations. In 2018, the ex-director of the oil equipment provider Sentry International, Mike Pompeo, became the director of the CIA , then Secretary of State. He created the Bureau of Energy Resources, which he handed to Francis Fannon. The BER is the equivalent of what the Office of Force Transformation had been for the Pentagon. He set up a policy which was entirely concentrated on taking control of the world market for hydrocarbons [3]. To do so, he imagined a new type of alliance, like those of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific region. It was no longer a case of creating military blocs like the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quads), but organising these alliances around objectives of economic growth, on the basis of guaranteed access to sources of energy.

This concept was integrated into the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy. It was no longer a case of grabbing the hydrocarbons from the rest of the world (Washington has absolutely no need of them), but to determine who may have them to use for their own development, and who will be deprived of them. This is a total reversal of the doctrine of the rarefaction of oil, promoted by the Rockefellers and the Club of Rome since the 1960’s, then by Dick Cheney’s National Energy Policy Development Group. From then on, the United States decided that not only had oil not disappeared, but that despite the drastic increase in demand, Humanity had enough to last at least another century.

Using many different pretexts, Pompeo has blocked Iran’s access to the world market, then that of Venezuela, and finally, has maintained US troops in the East of Syria to prevent anyone from exploiting the oil fields that have been discovered there [4]. Simultaneously, he is increasing pressure on the European Union to give up on the Russian gas pipeline Nord Steam 2 and is also pressuring Turkey to give up Turkish Stream.

Commercial Strategy

In 2017, President Donald Trump attempted to repatriate some of the jobs which had been delocalised from the United States to Asia and the European Union. Basing himself on the advice of left-wing economist Peter Navarro [5], he put an end to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement. At the same time, he set prohibitive Customs taxes on German cars and most Chinese products. He completed these with a fiscal reform which encouraged the repatriation of capital. This policy has already enabled the re-balancing of commerce and the relaunching of the job market.

*  *  *

The military, economic and diplomatic systems are now complete. Each chapter is articulated with the others. Everyone knows what they have to do.

The designers of the US Grand Strategy – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his advisor, Admiral Arthur Cebrowski; President Donald Trump and his commercial advisor Peter Navarro; and finally Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his advisor Francis Fannon.

The main force of this new Grand Strategy resides in the fact that it has not been understood by the elites of the rest of the world. Washington therefore retains the effect of surprise, reinforced by the deliberately chaotic communications of Donald Trump. If we look at the facts instead of the Presidential tweets, we note the advance of the United States after the double period of uncertainty under Presidents Clinton and Obama.

Hey Broke Millennials! NASA Will Give You $19k To Stay In Bed For 2 Months

NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), and German Aerospace Center (DLR) are requesting 24 volunteers to lie in bed for two months as part of a study into examining how the body changes in weightlessness. The three space agencies will compensate each volunteer $19,000.

We are looking for test persons who take part in a bed rest study from September to December 2019 in Cologne and spend 60 days lying down. Based on the study results, scientists are developing countermeasures that reduce the negative effects of weightlessness on astronauts,” reads a translated DLR website for the project.

Dubbed Agbresa (Artificial Gravity Bed Rest Study), NASA, ESA, and DLR have asked the public for 12 men and 12 women who will spend 60 days in special beds angled downward by 6 degrees, feet elevated above heads, with one shoulder touching the mattress at all times. This position simulates astronauts in space.

According to ESA, one group of volunteers will be spun around in a short-arm human centrifuge to generate artificial gravity and force blood back in the extremities, while the other group won’t.

Agbresa is the first of its kind to be conducted in partnership between the multiple space agencies. The test will be conducted at DLR’s medical research facility called the envihab facility.

ESA explained that bedrest had been the best way for researchers to mimic some of the body’s changes that would occur in space. Humans have been created to live on Earth, and without the constant pull of gravity, the body’s muscles and bones deteriorate.

Astronauts on board the International Space Station exercise for several hours per day and maintain a healthy diet to mitigate microgravity’s effects on the body, but researchers who are conducting the study believe a dose of artificial gravity on deep space missions could be beneficial for astronauts.

So, if you’re a broke millennial and need a quick payout to cover half of your student loans, well, NASA’s bed rest study could be for you.

Applications for the study are available online.

Why There’ll Be No US-Russia Reset Post-Mueller

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

President Donald Trump and his White House team have been cleared of collusion with the Kremlin in the 2016 presidential election. That startling conclusion by Special Counsel Robert Mueller after nearly two years of investigation, might be viewed by some as giving Trump freedom to now get on with normalizing relations with Moscow. Don’t bet on it.

Mueller’s report, and US attorney general William Barr’s appraisal of it, only partially vindicate Trump’s long-held claims that the whole so-called “Russiagate” story is a “hoax”.

Yes, Mueller and Barr conclude that neither Trump nor his campaign team “conspired” with Russia to win the presidential race. But Democrat opponents are now dredging up the possibility that Trump “unwittingly” facilitated Kremlin cyber operations to damage his 2016 rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton.

In his summary of Mueller’s report, Barr unquestioningly accepts as fact the otherwise contentious claim that Russia interfered in the US election. Democrats and the anti-Trump US news media have not been deterred from pursuing their fantasy that the Kremlin allegedly meddled in US democracy. Trump has been cleared, but Russia has certainly not. It very much continues to have the smear of interference slapped all over its image.

At the heart of this narrative – bolstered by Mueller and Barr – is the false claim that Russian cyber agents hacked into the Democrat party computer system during 2016 and released emails compromising Clinton to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. That whole claim has been reliably debunked by former NSA technical expert William Binney and other former US intelligence officials who have shown indisputably that the information was not hacked from outside, but rather was released by an insider in the Democrat party, presumably based on indignation over the party’s corruption concerning the stitch-up against Clinton’s rival nomination for the presidential ticket, Bernie Sanders.

That is real scandal crying out to be investigated, as well as the Obama administration’s decision to unleash FBI illegal wiretapping and dirty tricks against Trump as being a “Russian stooge”. The Russian collusion charade was always a distraction from the really big serious crimes carried out by the Obama White House, the FBI and the Democrat party.

In any case, the notion that Russia interfered in the US elections – even without Trump’s collusion – has become an article of faith among the American political and media establishment.

That lie will continue to poison US-Russia relations and be used to justify more economic sanctions being imposed against Moscow. Trump may be cleared of being a “Kremlin stooge”. But he will find no political freedom to pursue a normalization in bilateral relations because of the predictable mantra about Russia interfering in American democracy.

But there is a deeper reason why there will be no reset in US-Russia relations. And it has nothing to do with whether Trump is in the White House. The problem is a strategic one, meaning it relates to underlying geopolitical confrontation between America’s desired global hegemony and Russia’s rightful aspiration to be an independent foreign power not beholden to Washington’s dictate.

Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin has presented a somewhat shocking quandary for the US ruling class. It found that Russia was no longer in the servile business of rolling over to pander to Washington’s tyranny in international relations. Under Putin, Russia shook off the vassal status that it had unfortunately acquired under the feckless presidency of Boris Yeltsin (1991-99).

Putin’s landmark speech in Munich in 2007 was certainly a watershed moment in geopolitical relations whereby the Russian leader condemned US rampaging across the Middle East with criminal wars.

Then there was the failed attempt in 2008 by the US and NATO to over-run Georgia, failed because of a decisive military intervention by Russia in support of neighboring South Ossetia.

The return of the Cold War in US-Russia relations under former President GW Bush was due to the realization in Washington that Putin and Russia were no longer subordinates that could be pushed around for the gratification of American imperialism.

The Americans then tried another tack. Public relations and inveigling.

When Barack Obama took over the White House in 2009, there was the famous “reset policy” initiated by Washington towards Moscow. In March 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greeted Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva with a jokey “reset button”, purportedly to demonstrate a willingness in Washington for a new beginning in bilateral relations.

Ominously, Clinton’s State Department mislabelled the button with the Russian word for “overload” not “reset”. Her inane cackling to ingratiate herself with the skeptical Lavrov was also a giveaway of a phony reset.

Look how hollow such ostensible claims for “reset” by Washington have since manifested.

Admittedly, there was a significant gain in Obama’s negotiation of substantial nuclear arms reductions with the New START treaty in 2010.

However, it didn’t take long until Washington was back to its usual business of subversions and covert wars for regime change against foreign states that didn’t kowtow to its dictates. We saw this with ample evidence in the overthrow of Libya’s government in 2011, the attempted ouster in Syria beginning the same year, and the even more daring American intervention in Ukraine in early 2014 when it installed a rabidly anti-Russian regime through an illegal coup d’état.

We are also presently seeing this criminal American imperialism being conducted brazenly towards Venezuela, where Washington wants to overthrow a socialist president in order to get its corporate hands on the South American country’s vast oil wealth.

All the while, Russia has become ever more resolute its defiance of Washington’s global gangsterism. Moscow’s military defense of Syria from US-led regime change was certainly a pivotal moment in defining the limits of Moscow’s tolerance, as was Russia’s defense of Crimea.

For these reasons, Washington in its chagrin has moved to abandon the other major arms control treaty, the INF, which could allow it to install short and medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, thus aggravating threats and tensions with Russia. The future of the much-vaunted New START treaty is also in doubt because of American vacillation. So much for Obama’s “reset”.

These are the structural, strategic factors in why Washington is set on a course of hostility towards Moscow. It has got very little to do with President Trump being in the White House or whether he has been cleared of “collusion” with Moscow.

The fundamental issue for Washington is that Russia is not a vassal for American imperialism. That’s why there will be no reset. There will only be reset when American imperialism is replaced by a law-abiding, genuinely democratic US government. Until then, expect more US hostility, confrontation and even war towards Russia.