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India slashes import of Nigeria <b>crude oil</b>

India has remained the single largest buyer of Nigerian crude oil in the past few years after the United States slashed its imports from the country on …The post India slashes import of Nigeria <b>crude oil</b> appeared first on crud…

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Downstream Concerns Continue To Paint Bearish Picture for <b>Crude Oil</b>

When the Crude Oil market is discussed, typically there is a conversation about the end user demand such as economic growth, and consumption …The post Downstream Concerns Continue To Paint Bearish Picture for <b>Crude Oil</b> appeare…

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Palladium Suddenly Spikes To 16-Year Highs

Amid hope for reinvigorated auto production (after Hurricane Harvey’s destruction) and yesterday’s escalation in US-Russia tensions (Russia being the world’s largest producer), spot Palladium is spiking today, hitting its highest since record highs in January 2001.

While the entire gamut of industrial and precious metals have been rising recently (the latter on the back of Chinese demand hype), Palladium prices exploded today out of nowhere (biggest jump in 7 months).


Pushing the precious metal to its highest in 16 years…


There appear to be a few catalysts for the recent trend and today’s spike…

1. China’s commodity panic-buying trend

There just appears to be blind panic-buying momentum from China in any and every industrial metal and along with gold prices surging amid North Korea and debt ceiling drama, we suspect Palladium is catching a bid on the back of that.

2. Renewed hopes for growth in the auto sector

As Bloomberg notes, approximately 67 percent of palladium produced is used in catalytic converters, which convert up to 90 percent of the harmful gases in automobile exhaust to less noxious substances. Global auto sales, up 4 percent for the year, are driven by a global increase in SUV sales, the ongoing shift from diesel to gasoline engines in Europe (diesel engines alternatively use platinum), and tightening emission legislation.


Sales of autos fueled by petroleum have been particularly strong in China and India. According to Jeffrey Christian, managing partner of CPM Group, car sales in China have been “borrowed” from future years through the offering of rebates and tax cuts. In the first half of the year, auto sales in China rose 4.3 percent, to 13.4 million units, from a year earlier.


US Auto sales just collapsed though…



ZH: And the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey is prompting companies like Ford to discuss increasing production once again.

3. Tighter supply due to Russian sanctions

Russia is the world’s largest supplier…




Bloomberg notes that on Aug. 2, Congress passed a bill approving new sanctions on Russia in response to its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as its human rights violations, annexation of Crimea, and military operations in eastern Ukraine. The measure substantially reduces the president’s power to waive or ease certain sanctions without congressional approval.


The bill lists 12 types of sanctions that can be imposed on people and entities that, for example, conduct “significant” transactions with Russian defense and intelligence agencies and invest or facilitate the investment of $10 million or more in the privatization of any state-owned asset that unfairly benefits government officials or their associates.


So far, Russia has been able to maintain stable palladium supplies in the face of international political issues. Yet since 2014, a bloc of nations — including Switzerland, Japan, Australia and Canada, as well as the European Union — has imposed sanctions against Russia.


Norilsk Nickel, a public joint stock company, is the world’s leading producer of palladium and nickel. Its key shareholders are two powerful Russian oligarchs: Vladimir Potanin’s Interros and Oleg Deripaska’s Rusal. Each reportedly owns more than 25 percent of shares. Interros Group is one of the largest private investment companies in Russia. Deripaska has close ties to President Vladimir Putin and a connection to the American political consultant Paul Manafort, whom Deripaska employed from at least 2005 to 2009.


Norilsk Nickel reported that its palladium production fell 2 percent in the first half of the year from a year earlier, to almost 1.3 million metric tons. CPM’s Christian indicated that Norilsk’s stockpiling in the first quarter likely contributed to the tight market in May and June.


Although markets are fairly balanced, showing a small surplus, Norilsk said palladium consumption is expected to reach an all-time high of 10.8 million ounces, and is forecasting a deficit this year of more than 1 million ounces.


ZH: And additionally yesterday saw an escalation in tensions between US and Russia as the state department ordered the San Francisco consulate closed… prompting angry responses from Moscow – and perhaps retaliation.

*  *  *

We suspect the latter two are the most critical factors for today’s spike.

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“Yes, Google Uses Its Power to Quash Ideas It Doesn’t Like – I Know Because It Happened To Me”

Authored by Kashmir Hill via,

The story in the New York Times this week was unsettling: The New America Foundation, a major think tank, was getting rid of one of its teams of scholars, the Open Markets group. New America had warned its leader Barry Lynn that he was “imperiling the institution,” the Times reported, after he and his group had repeatedly criticized Google, a major funder of the think tank, for its market dominance.

The criticism of Google had culminated in Lynn posting a statement to the think tank’s website “applauding” the European Commission’s decision to slap the company with a record-breaking $2.7 billion fine for privileging its price-comparison service over others in search results. That post was briefly taken down, then republished. Soon afterward, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the head of New America, told Lynn that his group had to leave the foundation for failing to abide by “institutional norms of transparency and collegiality.”

Google denied any role in Lynn’s firing, and Slaughter tweeted that the “facts are largely right, but quotes are taken way out of context and interpretation is wrong.”

Despite the conflicting story lines, the underlying premise felt familiar to me:

Six years ago, I was pressured to unpublish a critical piece about Google’s monopolistic practices after the company got upset about it. In my case, the post stayed unpublished.

I was working for Forbes at the time, and was new to my job. In addition to writing and reporting, I helped run social media there, so I got pulled into a meeting with Google salespeople about Google’s then-new social network, Plus.

The Google salespeople were encouraging Forbes to add Plus’s “+1″ social buttons to articles on the site, alongside the Facebook Like button and the Reddit share button. They said it was important to do because the Plus recommendations would be a factor in search results—a crucial source of traffic to publishers.

This sounded like a news story to me. Google’s dominance in search and news give it tremendous power over publishers. By tying search results to the use of Plus, Google was using that muscle to force people to promote its social network.

I asked the Google people if I understood correctly: If a publisher didn’t put a +1 button on the page, its search results would suffer? The answer was yes.

After the meeting, I approached Google’s public relations team as a reporter, told them I’d been in the meeting, and asked if I understood correctly. The press office confirmed it, though they preferred to say the Plus button “influences the ranking.” They didn’t deny what their sales people told me: If you don’t feature the +1 button, your stories will be harder to find with Google.

With that, I published a story headlined, “Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Suffers,” that included bits of conversation from the meeting.

The Google guys explained how the new recommendation system will be a factor in search. “Universally, or just among Google Plus friends?” I asked. ‘Universal’ was the answer. “So if Forbes doesn’t put +1 buttons on its pages, it will suffer in search rankings?” I asked. Google guy says he wouldn’t phrase it that way, but basically yes.

(An internet marketing group scraped the story after it was published and a version can still be found here.)

Google promptly flipped out. This was in 2011, around the same time that a congressional antitrust committee was looking into whether the company was abusing its powers.

Google never challenged the accuracy of the reporting. Instead, a Google spokesperson told me that I needed to unpublish the story because the meeting had been confidential, and the information discussed there had been subject to a non-disclosure agreement between Google and Forbes. (I had signed no such agreement, hadn’t been told the meeting was confidential, and had identified myself as a journalist.)

It escalated quickly from there. I was told by my higher-ups at Forbes that Google representatives called them saying that the article was problematic and had to come down. The implication was that it might have consequences for Forbes, a troubling possibility given how much traffic came through Google searches and Google News.

I thought it was an important story, but I didn’t want to cause problems for my employer. And if the other participants in the meeting had in fact been covered by an NDA, I could understand why Google would object to the story.

Given that I’d gone to the Google PR team before publishing, and it was already out in the world, I felt it made more sense to keep the story up. Ultimately, though, after continued pressure from my bosses, I took the piece down—a decision I will always regret. Forbes declined comment about this.

But the most disturbing part of the experience was what came next: Somehow, very quickly, search results stopped showing the original story at all. As I recall it—and although it has been six years, this episode was seared into my memory—a cached version remained shortly after the post was unpublished, but it was soon scrubbed from Google search results. That was unusual; websites captured by Google’s crawler did not tend to vanish that quickly. And unpublished stories still tend to show up in search results as a headline. Scraped versions could still be found, but the traces of my original story vanished. It’s possible that Forbes, and not Google, was responsible for scrubbing the cache, but I frankly doubt that anyone at Forbes had the technical know-how to do it, as other articles deleted from the site tend to remain available through Google.

Deliberately manipulating search results to eliminate references to a story that Google doesn’t like would be an extraordinary, almost dystopian abuse of the company’s power over information on the internet.

I don’t have any hard evidence to prove that that’s what Google did in this instance, but it’s part of why this episode has haunted me for years: The story Google didn’t want people to read swiftly became impossible to find through Google.

Google wouldn’t address whether it deliberately deep-sixed search results related to the story. Asked to comment, a Google spokesperson sent a statement saying that Forbes removed the story because it was “not reported responsibly,” an apparent reference to the claim that the meeting was covered by a non-disclosure agreement. Again, I identified myself as a journalist and signed no such agreement before attending.

People who paid close attention to the search industry noticed the piece’s disappearance and wrote about it, wondering why it disappeared. Those pieces, at least, are still findable today.

As for how effective the strategy was, Google’s dominance in other industries didn’t really pan out for Plus. Six years later, the social network is a ghost town and Google has basically given up on it. But back when Google still thought it could compete with Facebook on social, it was willing to play hardball to promote the network.

Google started out as a company dedicated to ensuring the best access to information possible, but as it’s grown into one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world, its priorities have changed. Even as it fights against ordinary people who want their personal histories removed from the web, the company has an incentive to suppress information about itself.

Google said it never urged New America to fire Lynn and his team. But an entity as powerful as Google doesn’t have to issue ultimatums. It can just nudge organizations and get them to act as it wants, given the influence it wields.

Lynn and the rest of the team that left New America Foundation plan to establish a new nonprofit to continue their work. For now, they’ve launched a website called “Citizens Against Monopoly” that tells their story. It says that “Google’s attempts to shut down think tanks, journalists, and public interest advocates researching and writing about the dangers of concentrated private power must end.”

It’s safe to say they won’t be receiving funding from Google.

*  *  *

Update, September 1, 1:55 p.m.: Yesterday, we asked Google’s communications team for a response to this story. Initially, after reviewing contemporaneous internal Google emails about the Forbes story, two PR reps told us there was no way to know whether Google was responsible for deleting the cache and issued a short statement saying only that Forbes took down my story because it was “not reported responsibly.”

This morning, Google’s vice president of global communications, Rob Shilkin, emailed me to say definitively what two of his colleagues wouldn’t: “We had nothing to do with removing the article from the cache.” When I asked Shilkin how he came to that conclusion, he said it was based on old internal Google email threads. Since his colleagues had old email threads about the issue but never denied that Google took down the cache, I asked Shilkin if I could see the threads myself. He declined. His entire email, which he agreed to publish, is below.

Hi Kashmir


I wanted to clear the air on this. We have always enjoyed working respectfully with you and are sad to hear that you’ve carried this since 2011. I’m sorry about how this went down, and wanted to give you the tick-tock from our end.


From our perspective, this was a disagreement over whether a meeting was held under NDA. As you know, you attended a Forbes business meeting with the Google sales team, which was presenting on the (then) new +1 button. It didn’t strike our sales team as unusual that someone from Forbes’ editorial was in the meeting because they’d often attend these types of meetings – Editorial is often involved in a publication’s social strategy.


However, like most of our client meetings that discuss new features, it was held under an NDA (it sounds like Forbes didn’t inform you of this before you attended and had we known you were going to report on the meeting, we would have raised that concern).


Our sales team called their fellow attendees of the meeting from Forbes to express surprise that the article was based on a meeting held under NDA. I understand that one of our PR reps raised this concern to you, and then your editor. I understand that our PR rep asked that the piece come down from Forbes’ website, as it was reporting on a confidential business meeting.


Your editor agreed – he told our PR rep that the article was being removed because it involved reporting on an NDA meeting. As for the Google cache, it’s trivial for a website owner to request its cache to be cleared (see here). I assume this is what happened because we had nothing to do with removing the article from the cache. I hope our team has enough credibility, among those who work with us, that you know that we couldn’t and wouldn’t engage in this type of behavior – never have, never will.


You have long held our and the tech industry’s feet to the fire on privacy issues. And you have written (more than) a few critical stories about Google+ and many other things Google-related 🙂 To my knowledge, never have we had any issues like this, with even the most critical story. On this one piece, there seems to have been an unfortunate misunderstanding over whether all the attendees at a meeting believed they were under an NDA.


I won’t pretend to love how you shared your concern about this incident but – after a stiff drink – I’m glad you raised it. I hope that in the intervening six years, we’ve re-earned your trust. And if not, we’ll keep trying.





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Eclipsegate Is Back: Treasury Inspector General Opens Probe Into Mnuchin’s Use Of Government Plane

Ever since President Trump moved into the White House there has been only one redeeming thing to emerge from the Deep State’s relentless pursuit of something, anything, that could bring down his administration…namely, their recent obsession with this woman, Scottish actress and wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Louise Linton.



For those who glossed over this particular storyline, Linton sparked an ‘international crisis’ just a couple of weeks ago when she made the mistake of responding to a social media troll on Instragram who took issue with Linton posting pictures of herself disembarking from a private, taxpayer-funded, private plane.  Here was Linton’s snarky retort:

“Cute! Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch. Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message [sic], one filled with wisdom and hunanity [sic] would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!”

Louise Linton, wife of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, just turned her Instagram private after posting this (h/t @skenigsberg)

— Margarita Noriega (@margarita) August 22, 2017


Not surprisingly, the message provided all the ammunition the Left needed to open a whole new front in their war against the Trump admin.  And, to our complete shock, within hours an ‘independent’ watchdog group called Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility filed a FOIA request for all of Steve Mnuchin’s travel records based on allegations that he may have inappropriately utilized a government plane just to get a closer look at the eclipse. 


Now, you may have thought the whole scandal was put to rest when the Washington Post reported that Mnuchin and his wife viewed the eclipse from the roof of Fort Knox, where they were attending official meetings along with Senate leader Mitch McConnell, and not from the comfort of a government plane…

It turns out that Mnuchin did view the eclipse while he was in Kentucky, and from an extraordinary place: Just outside the path of totality, from the roof of the nation’s fabled Fort Knox, atop nearly $200 billion in American gold.


But Treasury officials said Thursday that the trip was planned explicitly around “official government travel,” rejecting the idea that the Fort Knox visit and the appearance at a luncheon for the local chamber of commerce were mere cover. They said the luncheon appearance had been planned for early August but was delayed when McConnell postponed the Senate’s recess, an account confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Louisville chamber, Alison Brotzge-Elder.

…something that could have been easily verified with a quick peak at Mitch McConnell’s Facebook page (notice the glasses in McConnell’s hand)…

But if you thought the Deep State would give up that easily then you drastically underestimate their resolve to get to the bottom of ‘Eclipsegate2017’…it’s not as if this is some minor issue like Hillary’s missing emails.

All of which brings us to the present and today’s announcement from the Treasury Department’s inspector general that an all new inquiry has now been opened to, once again, investigate precisely where Steve Mnuchin was standing during the eclipse last month.  Per The Hill:

“We are reviewing the circumstances of the Secretary’s August 21 flight … to determine whether all applicable travel, ethics, and appropriation laws and policies were observed,” counsel Rich Delmar said in a statement to The Washington Post on Thursday.


“When our review is complete, we will advise the appropriate officials, in accordance with the Inspector General Act and established procedures,” Delmar continued.

Of course, we suspect it’s only a matter of time until this very serious matter is transferred to Special Counsel Mueller who should probably start his investigation here: Linton’s Maxim photoshoot.

Finally, since we know this is the only reason you clicked on this post anyway…here you go.  Happy Friday.


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Is The CIA Writing Legislation For The U.S. Congress?

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
Today I want to highlight a troubling bill moving through Congress that seems inspired by a thuggish, authoritarian speech given earlier this year by CIA head Mike Pompeo.

I found that speech so di…

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US <b>Crude Oil</b> Inventories Revert to January 2016 Levels

The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) estimates that US crude oil inventories fell by 5.3 MMbbls (million barrels), or 1.2%, to 457.7 MMbbls …The post US <b>Crude Oil</b> Inventories Revert to January 2016 Levels appeared …

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How Hurricane Harvey May Impact US <b>Crude Oil</b> Production

The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) estimates that US crude oil production rose by 2,000 bpd (barrels per day) to 9,530,000 bpd between …The post How Hurricane Harvey May Impact US <b>Crude Oil</b> Production appeared fi…

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Could <b>Crude Oil</b> Futures Rise Due to Short Covering?

October WTI (West Texas Intermediate) crude oil (RYE) (OIH) (DBO) futures contracts rose 2.8% to $47.23 per barrel on August 31, 2017. US crude oil …The post Could <b>Crude Oil</b> Futures Rise Due to Short Covering? appeared first o…

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Pre-Hurricane Harvey, US <b>Crude Oil</b> Demand Hit a Record High

The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) estimates that US refinery crude oil demand rose by 264,000 bpd (barrels per day) to 17,725,000 …The post Pre-Hurricane Harvey, US <b>Crude Oil</b> Demand Hit a Record High appeared fi…

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