News Updates

Matt Taibbi: America This Week, September 25-October 1

America sings “It wasn’t me!” after pipeline blasts, panic-suckhole engulfs markets, Chess rocked by kinky cheating scandal, NATO hedges, Putin trolls Bush, three scary finance headlines, and more

Welcome back to America This Week, the news wrap-up where we won’t lie to you about it, and may even laugh, when civilization heads for collapse! It wasn’t quite as bad as all that this week, though there was definitely an apocalyptic quality to some of the headlines, particularly if you happened to be a marine animal in the Baltic Sea. Other developments included a historic hurricane, financial terror, and a heightened threat of World War.

Remember, to hear author Walter Kirn and I discuss the week’s headlines in podcast form, click here for this week’s episode of America This Week.

It wasn’t all bad, though, as there were some laughs. See for instance the “Chevron Test” below. As for the rest, brace yourself for this week’s dispatches of mostly-doom from the front lines of our disintegrating species:

Swirl of Denial The massive dual Nord Stream 1 and 2 natural gas pipelines between Russia and Germany were struck by highly suspicious twin underwater explosions, causing a giant environmental disaster and deepening an already devastating European energy crisis. Reactions from Russian, European, and especially American political protagonists ranged from merely unbelievable to abjectly comic. U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tsk-tsked that some unknown not-American actor must have committed a “deliberate act.” Not since Shaggy came out with the one-hit-wonder It Wasn’t Me in 1999, or O.J. launched his hunt for the real killers, has American popular culture seen a less convincing cover story. U.S. officials were long ago on record promising to cut off the pipeline if Russia invaded Ukraine, with Joe Biden saying in February, “We will bring an end to it.” When asked how, Biden coyly said, “I promise you, we will be able to do it.” The operation, no joke, came in the same week NATO tweeted that ongoing exercises presented “opportunities to test new unmanned systems at sea” (see TWEET HISTORY MAY REMEMBER). A rapid-fire tweet by former Polish Foreign Minister saying, “Thank you, USA” was mysteriously taken down later in the week, inspiring trolls to tease that his hardcore interventionist wife Anne Applebaum made him do it. Meanwhile, mainstream pundits in the U.S. and the U.K. in impressive deadpan argued that Russia had sabotaged its own pipeline, its best and perhaps only source of leverage internationally. The U.K. Spectator for instance suggested Russia did it to “up the ante on the West.” Throughout, three boiling patches of methane, one a kilometer across, poured toxic gases into the atmosphere in an “unprecedented” climate disaster. Fortunately this worries almost no one, since we’re now currently preoccupied with an even bigger fear, of nuclear war. Fun times!

Finance CHAOS! In only the week’s second-leading utter-horror story, the global economy accelerated toward catastrophe as a combination of Federal Reserve rate hikes, a self-inflicted British currency disaster, and the worsening European energy crisis combined to create a swirling suckhole of panic. On Thursday the S&P dropped as much as 2.9% during the day. Overall, markets fell nearly 7% over the course of eight consecutive trading days, seven of which ended in downturns. Thursday’s NYSE plunge, which gave back all the gains of a Wednesday rally and then some, came in part after a Bank of America analyst named Wamsi Mohan downgraded traditional all-weather stock Apple from “buy” to “neutral” and lowered its price target from $185 to $160. This came in the wake of a Bloomberg story that borrowed from political journalism and cited “people familiar with the matter” in reporting Apple reversed a decision to up production of the iPhone 14, citing reduced demand. Meanwhile, after new British Prime Minister Liz Truss proposed a $48 billion tax cut, panicked markets caused a run on the pound that led to intervention by the Bank of England. The BOE promised to buy state debt at “whatever scale is necessary” to stabilize matters (this after a suspicious episode involving asset manager giant BlackRock reportedly threatened to halt trading over the UK mess). Inflation in Germany hit double digits for the first time in decades, thanks in part to energy prices rising 44 percent in September. This caused one group of analysts to warn that “this will mean a permanent loss of prosperity for Germany.” There’s widespread expectation that the European Central Bank will follow in the Fed’s footsteps and announce a third straight monster rate hike next month. This is adding to general trepidation, with the Financial Times becoming the latest publication to warn of a “deep” risk that we will fall into the recession that, as noted, we’re already having.

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