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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Do It Yourself World

Paywall Blind,​

While the IEA got a lot of coverage for its World Energy Outlook 2018 (WEO 18), there might be a little snippet that got way underappreciated.
On page 159 of its Outlook, accessible only behind a payment barrier, the following graph can be found:
It is clear to see that Peak Oil will be hit well before 2020, while demand keeps on rising, unless the world’s Oil Majors and State Owned Oil Companies would massively invest in new exploration, according to the IEA.
However, the Oil Majors did already heavily spend on new oil exploration in the years after 2000, where a fossil fuel hype with an accompanying coal boom lead up to an oil price of over $150 in 2008. While this oil price proved unsustainable for a crashing world economy, this oil exploration boom lead to very little new findings in the big scheme of things:

So what does that mean?
It means that a collapse of oil supply to half of its current size within only six years simply cannot be compensated by new oil findings and certainly not by unconventional oil sources like oil sands and fracking. That the Oil Majors did not pick up with new oil exploration after the oil price rose again to $100 per barrel in the years after 2008 is another sign that the world is already “overexplored,” as geologists put it. Instead the Oil Majors concentrated on a stock buyback, knowing full well that further exploration would be a waste of money while they are sitting on oil that will become very valuable even though the amount of oil they will extract will decline significantly.

Capitalism as we know it is over. So suggests a new report commissioned by a group of scientists appointed by the UN Secretary-General. The main reason? We’re transitioning rapidly to a radically different global economy, due to our increasingly unsustainable exploitation of the planet’s environmental resources.
Climate change and species extinctions are accelerating even as societies are experiencing rising inequality, unemployment, slow economic growth, rising debt levels, and impotent governments. Contrary to the way policymakers usually think about these problems, the new report says that these are not really separate crises at all.
Rather, these crises are part of the same fundamental transition to a new era characterized by inefficient fossil fuel production and the escalating costs of climate change. Conventional capitalist economic thinking can no longer explain, predict, or solve the workings of the global economy in this new age, the paper says.

Greece is being used by global capitalist institutions to test some experiments on how the initial stages of failed-capitalism might play out, so as to be foreseen and managed in the event. Current experiment: Make 14 rounds of cuts, and give one back before elections.
New Democracy (ND) accused the government of increasing taxes and handing out benefits from budget revenues to win votes. “You are wearing the mask of the philanthropist just to tip people from their own savings”​,​ ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Tsipras in parliament.  

French drivers are required to carry yellow vests in their cars, to signal an emergency situation, so...
​T​axes also reminded the French people of how much they are already overtaxed everywhere else, how the elderly can barely survive on their pensions, and how workers, even middle-class ones, are watching their livelihoods shrink. For the poor, they are sitting idle and helplessly unemployed.
On top of that, they watch Emmanuel Macron tell them there are no problems with the economy. If you’re out of a job, just walk across the street and get one! In fact, Macron actually said this to unemployed workers who questioned him as to what he was going to do to remedy growing unemployment in France, furthering his reputation as a lofty limousine liberal vastly disconnected from the population.
Macron himself is an interesting component of this whole situation, having been chosen by power broker Jacques Attali and given a run at a Rothschild bank before assuming the Presidency to impose austerity measures, continue France’s foreign adventures, and essentially destroy the nation with more immigration.
The protests now seem to be about the general situation of the country, not about the fuel tax specifically. This is relatively obvious since, soon after the protests, the French government put the tax on hold yet the protests continue.

​Charles Hugh Smith observes the early post-capitalist economy, I guess...
A family member who has lived in France for decades summarized the source of the gilets jaunes protests in one sentence: "The government stopped listening to the people 20 years ago...
The cultural elites reckoned their ceaseless depiction of working-class dissent as racist-fascist populism would continue marginalizing the commoners, but the worm has turned: the financially, politically and culturally marginalized classes are fed up.
Despite the usual squabbles between factions, the ruling class has long been united behind a simple tool of control: buy complicity with government benefits. Should dissent boil up in a broad-based movement, the solution is buy the protesters off with some new state subsidy or benefit.
This is one of the essential dynamics of Neofeudalism which are:
1. Debt penury and wage-slave loyalty to the New Nobility that owns the debt.
2. The financial-political nobility maximize their skim and justify this exploitation with airy assurances to the politically impotent debt-serfs that this systemic predation magically offers up the best possible outcome for the peasantry.
3. State benefits are used as bribes to buy the complicity and passivity of the wage-slave debt-serfs.
4. The New Nobility offer politically correct cover stories for their exploitation and predation.

​The French state has a plan-B, of course, "Preventative Arrests":
The number of people arrested since the beginning of the massive popular protests that have gripped France for weeks has surpassed a staggering 4,500, with critics calling the actions of the authorities crackdown on democracy.
The French police have detained a total of 4,523 people in connection to the so-called Yellow Vests protests that united tens of thousands of people across the country discontent with taxes polices and fuel prices hikes. Of those almost 4,100 still remain in police custody, the French BFM TV broadcaster reported, citing police sources...
Part of those arrests seemed to be a preventive measure as they occurred before the protests. And the practice alarmed many.

​Jim Hightower can't get the newspapers who usually print his stuff to take this story:
A two-panel cartoon I recently saw showed a character with a sign saying: “First they came for the reporters.” In the next panel, his sign says: “We don’t know what happened after that.”​...​
It was, of course, a retort to Donald Trump’s ignorant campaign to demonize the news media as “ the enemy of the people.” But when it comes to America’s once-proud newspapers, their worst enemy is not Trump – nor is it the rising cost of newsprint or the “free” digital news on websites. Rather, the demise of the real news reporting by our city and regional papers is a product of their profiteering owners. Not the families and companies that built and nurtured true journalism, but the new breed of fast-buck hucksters who’ve scooped up hundreds of America’s newspapers from the bargain bins of media sell-offs.
The buyers are hedge-fund scavengers with names like Digital First and GateHouse. They know nothing about journalism and care less, for they’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast by slashing the journalistic and production staffs of each paper, voiding all employee benefits (from pensions to free coffee in the breakroom), shriveling the paper’s size and news content, selling the presses and other assets, tripling the price of their inferior product – then declaring bankruptcy, shutting down the paper, and auctioning off the bones before moving on to plunder another town’s paper.
By 2014, America’s two largest media chains were not venerable publishers who believe that a newspaper’s mission includes a commitment to truth and a civic responsibility, but GateHouse and Digital First, whose managers believe that good journalism is measured by the personal profit they can squeeze from it.

​I most humbly offer you this story that Ray sent, which tunnels into the incomprehensible vastness of what we think of as "farming", but which is very different in scale and outcome, from how we evolved, tending vegetables and fruit trees as a species. It kills now, and will ultimately sterilize California for an eon. The people who do this are not bad critters, and they seek to be kind and do well when it comes to their attention that things are going badly for somebody, like their workers. Many of them just look away, though, as they have been trained. This took 90 minutes of my morning, and was somehow worth it. I will be prayerful as I go out to prune two plum trees and one peach tree on a sunny morning, before bike commuting to work at noon. 
I cannot comprehend the scale at which "Cuties", "Halos" and pistachios are produced, but this is where they come from, for the moment, for now.
​ Resnick isn’t of this place. He’s never driven a tractor or opened an irrigation valve. He’s never put a dusty boot on the neck of a shovel and dug down into the soil. He wouldn’t know one of his Valencia orange groves from one of his Washington navel orange groves. The land to him isn’t real. It’s an economy of scale on a scale no one’s ever tried here. He grew up in New Jersey, where his father ran a bar. He came to California in the 1950s to remake himself. Welcome to the club. He remade himself into a graduate of the UCLA law school, a cleaner of Los Angeles buildings, a vendor of security alarms, a seller of flowers in a pot, a minter of Elvis plates and Princess Diana dolls, a bottler of Fiji Island water, a farmer of San Joaquin Valley dirt. He purchased his first 640-acre section in the late 1970s and kept adding more sections of almonds, pistachios, pomegranates, and citrus until he stretched the lines of agriculture like no Californian before him.
At age 81, he’s gotten so big, he doesn’t know how big. Last time he checked, he told me he owned 180,000 acres of California. That’s 281 square miles. He is irrigating 121,000 of those acres. This doesn’t count the 21,000 acres of grapefruits and limes he’s growing in Texas and Mexico. He uses more water than any other person in the West. His 15 million trees in the San Joaquin Valley consume more than 400,000 acre-feet of water a year. The city of Los Angeles, by comparison, consumes 587,000 acre-feet.

​Baffled Ape​

Monday, December 10, 2018

Heimlich Maneuver Empire


​Trump the deal-maker probably won't make a deal with everybody who has intermediate range missiles to carry nuclear warheads...​
In some ways, the INF Treaty has become an anachronism, since it stipulated that the US and Russia should not produce intermediate range missiles. Whereas, many other countries make such weapons today. Washington decided that it too must have such weapons. Pompeo actually admitted this in his remarks on December 4 in Brussels. He said,
“Secondly, while Russia is responsible for the demise of the treaty, many other states – including China, North Korea, and Iran – are not parties to the INF Treaty. This leaves them free to build all the intermediate range missiles that they would like. There is no reason the United States should continue to cede this crucial military advantage to revisionist powers like China, in particular when these weapons are being used to threaten and coerce the United States and its allies in Asia.”
“If you ask the question why the treaty wasn’t enlarged to include more nations, including China, keep in mind that it has been tried three times without any success already, and it has failed each time.”
Moscow has calmly reacted. It called the US decision “reckless” and rejected the allegation regarding its non-compliance of the treaty. Once again, Moscow challenged Washington to provide specific details of any Russian violation. But Moscow senses a fait accompli. President Vladimir Putin said yesterday,
“The arguments cited are essentially clear: Russia and the United States are the only countries that do not produce weapons of this kind. This is actually true. Many other countries – probably about a dozen already – make such weapons, while Russia and the United States have limited themselves bilaterally. Now, apparently, our American partners decided that the situation has changed so much that the United States should also have such weapons.”

​Pointing out the usual lies-as-pretense...​
The Russian foreign minister has commented on the demand from US Undersecretary for Arms Control Andrea Thompson, which requires that Moscow either terminate the development of its 9M729 missile system or modify the weapon, pointing to its alleged non-compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
Addressing Washington’s plan to suspend its adherence to the INF Treaty in 60 days, announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that Moscow had never received documents from the US on the matter of alleged violations of the agreement, once more noting that Washington's accusations against Russia are baseless.
"We remind you once again that when the United States started accusing us of violating the treaty several years ago, it was doing it groundlessly, and we had to literally drag information out of them in order to understand what they were talking about and what they meant," Lavrov said at a press briefing.

​Knife in the back with a smile from the walrus-of-death...
It was Bolton who a week ago intentionally damaged U.S. relations with China.
The U.S. Justice Department arranged for Canada to arrest the chief financial officer of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, over alleged U.S. sanctions violations with regards to Iran. The case is not over the sanction Trump recently imposed, but over an alleged collision with the sanction regime before the nuclear deal with Iran. The details are still unknown.
Meng Wanzhou is a daughter of the founder and main owner of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, and was groomed to be his successor. The company is extremely well regarded in China. It is one its jewel pieces and, with 170,000 employees and $100 billion in revenues, an important political actor.
The arrest on December 1 happened while president Trump was negotiating with president Xi of China about trade relations. Trump did not know about the upcoming arrest but Bolton was informed of it:
While the Justice Department did brief the White House about the impending arrest, Mr. Trump was not told about it. And the subject did not come up at the dinner with Mr. Xi.
Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said on NPR that he knew about the arrest in advance, ..
Bolton surely should have informed Trump before his dinner with Xi, in which Bolton took part, but he didn't.

Update: Amid escalating tensions and stern words from both sides (China warning both Canada and the US over Huawei CFO's arrest, warning of "retaliation" and "further action", with the US countering with "hard deadlines" and concerns of "predatory behavior"), US futures have tumbled at the open, back below Thursday's pre-panic-bid lows.

​Petro-dollar-melting-melting-melting...​ Thanks Colleen.
“Based on the news I recently received and was confirmed by a European commissioner, from now on, the EU is going to ditch the US dollar and just use the euro in the financial transactions of all European oil deals with other countries,” said Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said the amount of these transactions is more than €300 billion.
“Previously, the EU used to pay 85 percent of the money for the oil it purchased from other countries in US dollars, but now with this new mechanism, all the money will be paid in euros,” he said.

Last week was a crummy week for the empire. Maybe this week will be better. Go Dollar!

​Saudi jet bombers were refueled in the sky for their humanitarian ("We don't want to give the wrong message by stopping.")​ bombing of Yemeni schools and hospitals, by American jet-gas-stations for free, due to "an accounting error".

Wigs sent this story about that "wrong message" remark from the State Department:

​Cat sent this short, weird video clip:
Hillary seen here healthy as an Ox at the Bush Sr. funeral, exhibiting completely and unquestionably healthy behavior for the umpteenth time. Nothing to see folks, move along.

​At least as weird as Hillary's space-moments is Bush Sr. delivering the eulogy for JFK Assassination teammate Jerry Ford, and stifling a laugh after he says the line "after a deluded gunman assassinated President Kennedy"​. 
Freudian giggle, it looks like.  Thanks again, Cat.
​This poor guy is probably feeling suicidal from all of the stress.
The CFO of the Clinton Foundation, thinking he was "meeting an old professional acquaintance," admitted to investigators that the charity had widespread problems with governance, accounting and conflicts of interest, and that Bill Clinton has been commingling business and personal expenses for a long time, reports The Hill's John Solomon.
Clinton Foundation CFO Andrew Kessel made the admissions to investigators from MDA Analytics LLC - a firm run by "accomplished ex-federal criminal investigators," who have been probing the Clinton Foundation for some time.
 Kessel told MDA "There is no controlling Bill Clinton. He does whatever he wants and runs up incredible expenses with foundation funds, according to MDA's account of the interview. "Bill Clinton mixes and matches his personal business with that of the foundation. Many people within the foundation have tried to caution him about this but he does not listen, and there really is no talking to him."
MDA compiled Kessel's statements, as well as over 6,000 pages of evidence from a whistleblower they had been working with separately, which they secretly filed with the FBI and IRS over a year ago. MDA has alleged that the Clinton Foundation engaged in illegal activities, and may owe millions in unpaid taxes and penalties.

​"France's Gas Tax Disaster Shows We Can't Save Earth by Screwing Over Poor People"​ (Oh Shit! What's Plan-B?)

Vomited Meatball

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Last Chance

Rudely Awakened,

Charles Hugh Smith on Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic. 
(The concentration of power into fewer and fewer centers creates enforced "solutions" that serve that power more and more completely, and which are more and more wasteful, painful and destructive than tailored local solutions devised by communities and talented individuals. We're pretty far along.

I have not been ignoring Brexit, but it is chaos, so I suspect that serves somebody, maybe the "City of London" bankers, who will have a "save" when everybody gets desperate around April Fool's Day, when nothing gets across the borders either way. The French yellow vests have figured out that the bankers are their overlords, and whatever the bankers want is what they should fight. Installing a Rothschild investment banker helped them see that. The best I can tell, the bankers really don't want a no-deal-Brexit. The subjugated-but-connected UK that Theresa May has negotiated is fine for them. Maybe they can do even "better". John Ward, The Slog has the inside scoop of this stew.

I think Theresa May wants out before the final collapse of this project. She won't delay a vote, which is certain to lose, on her Brexit deal.

This opinion is that the Bank of England has been itching to raise interest rates, so low for so long, that they would happily do so when the lack of supply of imported goods made them rare and expensive. This would add insult and injury to injury. How could there not be revolt?!
The beauty of Brexit, from the BOE’s perspective, is that the economic ramifications from it lock in precisely with the conditions required by the bank to go forward with raising interest rates.  

The French Parliament, clearly smelling which way this wind is blowing, will have a no-confidence vote for the-chosen-one on Monday. Busy weekend...
Macron had faced similar votes in July after video surfaced of his personal bodyguard beating a May Day protester while wearing police gear. The president ultimately dogged the repercussions as the votes were defeated, solidifying his majority.  

Amid the chaos, France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has devised a brilliant plan to try and placate French citizens, which would (in theory) make it less likely that they would join the protests.
Speaking at a conference in Paris on Thursday, Le Maire said he had met with the CEOs of French companies, who agreed to give their workers a one-off tax free bonus.
Le Maire said the bonus would be a "pay-back" for their efforts for the economy. Le Maire also said "anything to increase the paycheck" of workers has his support, (though he claimed measures to "artificially" increase the minimum wage would lead to job losses). "We’re going through a crisis that shows that the dikes have been breached, France no longer is spared from the populist wave," he said, which is why France needs "stability" in fiscal policies.
We now wait to see if the French people's deep-seated rage toward their supremely unpopular president can be soothed with a wad of cash. Meanwhile, leaders of the Yellow Vest movement are demanding to meet with Macron on Friday afternoon ahead of further protests this Saturday. "Macron must listen to his people," one said.

US China Trade Warriors lock and load for hot war. Bill Blain:
A few weeks ago one of my very smart CIO contacts warned me the real story of the year isn’t just the implications for supply chains from a Trade Spat, but a more fundamental “Tech Cold War” between China and the US for dominance. It’s a battle that will shortly reach epic proportions, force huge change in the global tech supply chain, and has massive implications for current incumbents.
Over this last few days, its all going off. The US, Australia, NZ and the UK have banned Huawei from new 5G systems over embedded spy tech and “security” issues. Now we learn that even as Xi and Trump were meeting, the CFO of Huawei was arrested in Canada for violating US sanctions on Iran! She is also the daughter of Hauwei’s founder.
I suspect the news will trigger a massive downtrade in stocks today. Brace, Brace, Brace!
The core objective of Trump’s trade war threats are to contain China’s becoming a technological equal and competitor after all its learnt from access and replication of US tech. If we see a full Tech War with lines drawn, then its potentially clobbers everything from Apple down. It means a choice between US Tech or China Tech.
“Made in China 2025” is the Chinese target of becoming the leader in tech, and avoiding just being a US manufacturing centre. Its happening – Hauwei’s lead in 5G is just one example.

Both Cat McGuire (who often sends stories) and Chris Hedges have reviews on the squelched-but-got-out-somehow investigative reporting documentary, "The Lobby". Al Jazeera originally made the film, using a Jewish deep-undercover reporter, who was readily accepted by the members of The Tribe, and told pretty much everything they were doing to manipulate American politicians, voters, churches, and get the Hasbara public relations work of Israel done at any cost, and right away. This is the straight scoop. From the moths of horses. These reviews are different and complimentary and detailed.

Fun House Mirrored

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Breaking Point

Looming On The Horizon,

I feel tension and deeply uneasy. I'm not alone. People I talk to feel it. Something is about to break, and it is scary..

French President Macron, the Rothschild Banker from Nowhere is over. He has 3.5 years left in his term, but...
On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that the diesel fuel tax that kicked off the Yellow Vest movement would be suspended—a sign of how seriously the escalating unrest has rattled the administration of President Emmanuel Macron.
Don’t expect the Yellow Vests to stand down now. What began as an automobile-focused, cost-of-living protest undertaken by a coalition of the white, rural working-class and petite bourgeoisie has evolved into a Hydra-headed autumn of discontent, with many objectives, no leaders, and a base that encompasses a cross-section of French life from engineers to paramedics to Parisian high school students. International coverage has focused on the movement’s opposition to a proposed fuel tax increase that was part of Macron’s plan to combat climate change. But that was only the spark. Spurred by everybody’s favorite anti-governmental social network, Facebook, the gilet jaunes crisis is best understood as a revolt against all things Macron...
Whatever Trumpian currents have flowed through their movement—the whiteness, the claim to working-class status, violence against journalists, hatred of the urban elite—this movement has no Trump, and they assign blame for their struggles up the economic ladder, towards Parisian bankers and bureaucrats, rather than down it, towards the country’s impoverished immigrant neighborhoods...
The diffuse, leaderless nature of the movement has made it difficult for the government to respond. On Friday, while Macron was in Argentina for the G20 meeting, Philippe tried to meet with a group of self-appointed gilets jaunes leaders. Only two showed up...
They got the diesel tax suspended. But other Yellow Vests say they won’t stop short of Macron’s resignation. There’s a burgeoning sense among political leaders that Macron’s original sin was reducing taxes on France’s richest citizens by some $3 billion. The unemployment rate remains high. There’s a lot to complain about—and a feeling that now is a time to air your grievances, whatever they are. 

Anthropologist and demographer Emmanuel Todd commentated (vid, french) on the riots on a French TV show. Sophia translated his main points:
"The violence comes from Macron. He seems to take pleasure in humiliating ordinary people. With with the Benalla affair, we saw the violence coming out directly, not only from the Elysées, but from the mind of the president.
By refusing to enact a moratorium on the taxes that provoked the protests, the govt is enacting the strategy of chaos whereby if these protests, which are popular now, continue, a layer of the population will rise against them."
Macron might enact a state of emergency but that would only fuel the protests. It is doubtful that Macron's plan of a 'strategy of chaos' will work. The French president gets elected for 5 years. Only 18 month in Macron managed to move a large majority against him. It is unlikely that he will serve out his full term.

Jim Kunstler:
Interestingly, it’s the people of France who are going apeshit at this moment in history and not the much more beaten-down Americans. For all the deformities of the EU, France still maintains a general quality-of-life so far above what is found in the US these days that we look like some left-behind evolutionary dead end here in this wilderness of strip-malls and muffler shops. They live in towns and cities that are designed to bring people together in public. They support small business in spite of the diktats of Brussels. They maintain an interest in doing things well for its own sake. The French are rioting these days not simply over the cost of diesel fuel but because they’ve had enough impingements on their traditional ways of life and seek to arrest the losses.
Americans, by contrast, seem to passively accept their new status as world-class losers. You can deprive them of whatever is meaningful, whatever makes life worth living, and sell them depressing simulacra to replace those things, and they never notice. Even the revolts ongoing in this land only seek to make relations between us worse, for instance the new super-Puritanism that wants to criminalize the most elementary mating ceremonies, like asking for date, or even paying attention to someone of the opposite sex. This is what the Democratic Party, formerly the party of the working people, has dedicated itself to all year. That’s your “Resistance.” They’ve managed to ruin one of the few consolations for being on this planet.

​Charles Hugh Smith is a very bright guy, who lives very frugally, and grows some vegetables.
After 3,701 posts (from May 2005 to the present), here are my observations of the Alternative Media from the muddy trenches.
It's increasingly difficult to make a living creating content outside the corporate matrix. The share of advert revenues paid to content creators / publishers has declined precipitously, shadow banning has narrowed search and social media exposure and the expansion of free content and competing subscription-based publishing has made subscription services an increasingly tough sell.
The most effective ways to silence critics and skeptics is to 1) de-monetize their sites / platforms and 2) restrict their access to the public via shadow banning and search algorithm "adjustments." The two are related, of course; as audiences dwindle, so do revenues and opportunities to sell subscriptions or promote patronage.

​Disappearing From View​

Monday, December 3, 2018

Yellow Jacket Swarm

Wearing Safety-Yellow,

I have been less visible, myself in recent days, due to a swarm of life events, including buying a house 124 miles away, silent-retreating, working on the house and garden, the passing of Jenny's mom, Jovita, and Jenny being executor of the will, about which, the heirs do not exactly agree...

John Ward is a Limey living in France, with friends in high and low and obscure places, who happens to be an articulate and insightful man-on-the-street for this round of French unrest, which seems very much like the spirit of 1967 come alive again. Here is "The Slog":
For those of you unaware of the Gilets Jaunes, they are a group representing the French haulage business, lorry drivers fearful for their jobs, and a whole phalanx of other citizens who, for one reason or another, have caught on to the fact that President Emannuel Macron is a fraud, and more Antichrist than Centrist. The price of auto fuels in France rose 14% last year, and is set to rise 18% this year. For this reason alone, je suis un gilet jaune.
But there’s more to it than that.
Quite rapidly, they have become the national face of  resistance to the growing power of the Alt State here. The banks having ensured that their man Macron got elected, it didn’t take long for the privatisations to start, and Macron to fall into line with EU migrancy “policy” – an acceptance of extra-EU immigration causing havoc across the continent. There are now some 30,000 illegal refugees occupying temporary camps in Paris’s St Denis alone, while the latest entry point – eastern and southern Spain – has seen a 40% rise in burglary and knife crime in Andalucia.
But Macronisation has ploughed ahead, with next year seeing the start of State powers to remove bank account deposits electronically “in order to improve the Trésor Public’s cash flow”. And while Macron has abolished the Taxe D’Habitation, this was done to increase the control of Paris over local policies. The Mairie’s additional local tax on land (the foncière) has, in just three years on my property, gone from €418 to €1468. The sum disappeared from my bank account without warning two weeks ago….since when I have received a bill through the post asking for it again...
Here in France, a survey by the polling agency Elabe found that almost three-quarters of French voters approved of the protests, and that more than half of those who voted for Mr Macron support them. The scales, it seems, are falling from the eyes. And for the unelected everywhere, the signs are disturbing: the Gilet movement has spread to Italy and – would you believe? – Belgium.​..
The fact is, taxes keep having to rise – and access to citizen monies made easier – because the global recovery is a myth. High stock prices owe far more to QE than underlying economic health….and to complete the use of élite brass neck, the money invested in QE with taxpayers’ money is treated as economic growth by the central bank statisticians. Is that a lulu or is that a lulu?

Brigitte Bardot supports the Yellow Vests, and posts a picture of herself wearing one, Thanks Tom.
“I am very patriotic. I was raised by a father and a grandfather who fought for France and instilled in me a love of my homeland. I am not proud of what France is today… I’m not a ‘facho’ [fascist], any more than Marine Le Pen is.”
Image result for Brigitte Bardot, yellow vest

While the so-called “yellow vests movement” has drawn a few hundred thousand people to sometimes violent protests and road blockades against high taxes on diesel, leading to two deaths and more than 500 people injured, French President Macron is travelling Europe, pontificating about things like an EU army. The protests bear a resemblance to Brexit: ordinary people have had enough, even if it isn't always clear of what and even if they have been voting for the parties responsible for high taxation. However, to dismiss their anger and to double down on policies to tax diesel, as Macron seems to do, may be very risky...
The French socialist party has accused Macron’s government of trying to link this grassroots movement to the far right Marine Le Pen “to better disqualify it”. But according to sociologist Vincent Tiberj, the yellow vests movement derives largely from the lower-middle classes, who earn enough to pay taxes but not enough to live comfortably. A lot of the protesters come from “La France profonde”: small towns and rural areas that have often gone through dire economic times, far away from the world of Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker.
Macron himself has reacted by saying his government intended to “tax fossil fuels more” as a way to “support the poor”. Unfortunately for him, it seems the poor are not so keen on the method. A poll reveals that 82 per cent of French think the government should simply scrap the increase in fuel taxes foreseen for January. Macron’s popularity meanwhile continues to tank, from a 29 per cent satisfaction rate in October to 25 per cent just one month later. One in three French do not have an alternative to driving to work and cars are essential not only for economic but also for social reasons, preventing social isolation of the more vulnerable. For many people, this is not something to mess around with.

Global finance is even taking notice!
Forget Brexit and Italian populists for a second. It’s worth paying attention to what’s going on in France.
For more than two weeks, the country has been disrupted by an unusual protest: the so-called “Gilets Jaunes” or “Yellow Vests.” France is used to labor unrest and chaos affecting transport of course, with strikes something of a national pastime.
But this time it’s different.
Some 100,000 people blocking toll roads, petrol stations and crossroads is creating major disruption to transport and retail. It’s also proving to be extremely tricky to defuse, as there’s no single protest leader to negotiate with...
The protests started on Nov. 10 with thousands of demonstrators demanding lower gasoline prices and taxes. Demonstrators marched on Paris’s Avenue des Champs-Elysees two weeks later, triggering social unrest. Surprisingly, the protest is benefiting from a significant backing, with 84 percent of the French public calling it “justified,” according to Odoxa-Dentsu poll for Le Figaro.
Further rioting over the weekend shows the movement is spinning out of control.
If this movement snowballs like we’ve seen in Italy with the Five Star Movement, Macron will have his hands full handling a crisis at home and have less time for the matters of the euro zone. After Greece, Brexit and Italy, this is another front that Europe didn’t need.

Theresa May is caught in a big lie, after the Brexit analysis reports she used, and lied about, got leaked. (Clowns on the field running out the clock...)
The Government is already on the rack over its refusal to publish the legal advice provided on the Brexit deal by Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, despite a parliamentary motion ordering it to be done. But ministers now face further questions as it emerges that a confidential analysis of the Withdrawal Agreement by the House of Commons’ own expert legal team comes to the same conclusion as President Trump – that Theresa May’s Brexit deal would prevent the UK from entering trade deals with countries such as the US.  

Wigs sends this Left-Analysis of the case against (cheap-labor-without-rights) "Open Borders".
If open borders is “a Koch brothers proposal,” then what would an authentic Left position on immigration look like? In this case, instead of channeling Milton Friedman, the Left should take its bearings from its own long traditions. Progressives should focus on addressing the systemic exploitation at the root of mass migration rather than retreating to a shallow moralism that legitimates these exploitative forces. This does not mean that leftists should ignore injustices against immigrants. They should vigorously defend migrants against inhumane treatment. At the same time, any sincere Left must take a hard line against the corporate, financial, and other actors who create the desperate circumstances underlying mass migration (which, in turn, produces the populist reaction against it). Only a strong national Left in the small and developing nations—actingin concert with a Left committed to ending financialization and global labor exploitation in the larger economies—could have any hope of addressing these problems.
To begin with, the Left must stop citing the latest Cato Institute propaganda in order to ignore the effects of immigration on domestic labor, especially the working poor who are likely to suffer disproportionately from expanding the labor pool. Immigration policies should be designed to ensure that the bargaining power of workers is not significantly imperiled. This is especially true in times of wage stagnation, weak unions, and massive inequality.
With respect to illegal immigration, the Left should support efforts to make E-Verify mandatory and push for stiff penalties on employers who fail to comply. Employers, not immigrants, should be the primary focus of enforcement efforts. These employers take advantage of immigrants who lack ordinary legal protections in order to perpetuate a race to the bottom in wages while also evading payroll taxes and the provision of other benefits. Such incentives must be eliminated if any workers are to be treated fairly...
Reducing the tensions of mass migration thus requires improving the prospects of the world’s poor. Mass migration itself will not accomplish this: it creates a race to the bottom for workers in wealthy countries and a brain drain in poor ones. The only real solution is to correct the imbalances in the global economy, and radically restructure a system of globalization that was designed to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor. This involves, to start with, structural changes to trade policies that prevent necessary, state-led development in emerging economies. Anti-labor trade deals like nafta must also be opposed. It is equally necessary to take on a financial system that funnels capital away from the developing world and into inequality-heightening asset bubbles in rich countries. Finally, although the reckless foreign policies of the George W. Bush administration have been discredited, the temptation to engage in military crusades seems to live on. This should be opposed. U.S.-led foreign invasions have killed millions in the Middle East, created millions of refugees and migrants, and devastated fundamental infrastructure.
Marx’s argument that the English working class should see Irish nationhood as a potential compliment to their struggle, rather than as a threat to their identity, should resonate today, as we witness the rise of various identity movements around the world. The comforting delusion that immigrants come here because they love America is incredibly naïve—as naïve as suggesting that the nineteenth-century Irish immigrants Marx described loved England. Most migrants emigrate out of economic necessity, and the vast majority would prefer to have better opportunities at home, among their own family and friends. But such opportunities are impossible within the current shape of globalization.

One month to the day after President Kennedy’s assassination, the Washington Post published an article by former president Harry Truman...
Truman found, to his dismay, that the CIA had ranged far afield.
"​For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.
I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue—and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda.​"​
The article appeared in the Washington Post’s morning edition, but not the evening edition.​..
The timing and tone of the letter may have been hints that Truman thought the CIA was involved in Kennedy’s assassination. If he did, he also realized an ex-president couldn’t state his suspicions without troublesome consequences.
Even the man who signed the CIA into law had to stay in the shadows, the CIA’s preferred operating venue. The CIA had become the exact opposite of what Truman envisioned and what its enabling legislation specified. Within a few years after its inauguration in 1947, it was neck-deep in global cloak and dagger and pushing agenda-driven, slanted information and outright disinformation not just within the government, but through the media to the American people.

A bit of good news: George H.W. Bush is dead, finally. At least he’ll do no more harm. But the harm he did do was enough.
Like the Nazis his father did good business with, Bush wanted a New World Order – and spoke of it lovingly and often. And now it’s upon us, in no small measure because of his machinations and those of his frog-torturing, mass-murdering, war criminal son – who was elevated to the position from which he was able to commit mass murder solely on the juice provided by his connected father.
The entire Bush family is a crime syndicate that puts the Corleones to shame (with George W. Bush playing the role of Fredo).
Bush Sr. – who wasn’t in Dallas on November 22, 1963 and not a CIA officer at the time – was later proved to be both of those things. His leprous fingerprints are all over the termination of the last American president who wasn’t a wholly owned subsidiary of the military industrial complex.

​Honoring the Dead​

Thursday, November 29, 2018

False-Information Economy

Embedded Consciousness,

Ilargi: Whenever you read anything at all about Trump, Russia/Putin and Assange in the major news outlets, chances that it is not objective or properly due diligence researched are far higher than that it is. You have to start out with the idea that what you’re about to read or watch is not true, for the simple reason that the vast majority of it is not; it only exists to serve an agenda and a narrative.
And because reporting what is not accurate makes ‘news sources’ much more money than reporting the truth. In the meantime, though, NATO, US/UK/EU intelligence and the military-industrial complex may be happy, but you should not be. Because you’ve landed somewhere in the middle between Orwell, Huxley and the Matrix. And that’s not going to end up doing you any good. Let alone your kids.
Shake it off, guys. You’re sinking. Information dissemination has become like walking into quicksand. Walking into a pre-processed narrative that deprives you of your ability to think. Not something we should wish upon anyone. But take this from me: you’re already in it, and you need to get out. It’s no longer about trying not to get in, those days are long gone. You’re already there.

​Charles Hugh Smith: ​The reality is there is no avenue left for advocacy, grievances or redress in a system dominated by global corporations and self-serving political insiders.The castle on the hill doesn't exist; it is diffused all over the planet, and well protected by state minions who listen only to neofeudal corporate interests.
The problem for well-meaning politicos is the system cannot be reformed or repaired: the cartel-state socio-economic system is now the wrong unit size and the wrong structure. As I explain my my new book, the cost of buying political influence is a small fraction of the gains reaped from buying the influence.
Mere debt-serfs and tax donkeys cannot compete with campaign contributions and influence purchased with tens of millions of dollars in cartel profits. The system isn't simply rigged to benefit insiders--it's incapable of listening to debt-serfs and tax donkeys because their demands would collapse the system.
Corporate power and self-serving insiders destroy democracy. That is the heart of neofeudalism, which is the only possible output of the status quo.

​From 1945 until today, American tax dollars have been working hard to kill 20 to 30 million people: ​The Vietnam War, which spread to Cambodia and Laos, caused a number of deaths estimated at 7.8 million (plus a huge number of wounded, and genetic damage affecting generations due to the dioxin sprayed by US aircraft). The proxy war of the 1980’s in Afghanistan was organised by the CIA, which trained and armed – with the collaboration of Osama bin Laden and Pakistan – more than 100,000 mujahideen to fight the Soviet troops who had fallen into the “Afghan trap” (as it was later described by Zbigniew Brzezinski, specifying that the training of the mujahideen had begun in July 1979, five months before the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan).
The bloodiest coup d’État was organised in 1965 in Indonesia by the CIA – it handed over the list of the first 5,000 Communists and others marked for death to the Indonesian murder squads. The number of people assassinated is estimated at between 500,000 and 3 million.
That is the “free and open international order” that the United States, independently of the White House, persist in pursuing in order to “safeguard the people from aggression and coercion”.

​The Saker Blog, about current moves by Ukraine to pick another fight with Russia:​ Some kind of limited Ukronazi military operations against Russia, Novorussia, Crimea or the Kerch bridge would be militarily suicidal but political very profitable as it would allow Poroshenko to a) blame Russia for all the Ukrainian problems and b) demand even more aid to “resist against the Russian aggression”.  The problem with that option is that there are good signs that a lot of the Ukrainian military personnel does not have the courage to actually fight the Russians (for ex: look how ALL the Ukie soldiers folded in Crimea; also, the blog of “Colonel Cassad” reports that of the three ships which tried to breach the Russian border, at least one had a captain who voluntarily surrendered his ship to the Russians; finally, one Ukrainian sailor has apparently been shot for refusing to open fire against the Russians).  

Russia's South Stream Pipeline is almost ready to carry gas to southern Europe: Significantly, the tenders were secured in compliance with the EU Energy Directives. This means that Gazprom latest venture has addressed the main cause of the EU's original objections to the same pipeline prior to 2014. In the case of open tenders process, Gazprom used exactly the same scheme to secure capacity orders for its Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia back in 2017. According to the experts cited by Kommersant, this makes in impossible for the EU to shut down the project.
Of course, history reminder due, South Stream was primarily killed off not by the EU, but by the U.S. keen on protecting Ukraine's near monopoly on Russian gas transit. The Obama Administration exerted massive pressure on Bulgaria and other South Stream-receiving countries to prevent landing Russian gas in Southern Europe. So far, there has been little indication what Washington's position on the latest iteration of the South Stream might be, but I doubt it will be welcoming.

The weird solitary confinement purgatory of Julian Assange, and the secret sealed charges arranged to move him to an American prison. 
Even the white cat is gone now...

On Oct. 12, the Moreno government took a further step toward stripping Assange of asylum status by issuing a “Special Protocol” that prohibits him from any activities that could be “considered as political or interfering with the internal affairs of other states.” It further required all journalists, lawyers and anyone else who wanted to meet with Assange to disclose social media usernames and the serial number and IMEI codes of their cellphones and tablets. And it stated that that personal information could be shared with “other agencies,” according to the memorandum reported by The Guardian.
In response, Assange’s lawyers initiated a suit against the Ecuadorian foreign minister, Jose Valencia, for “isolating and muzzling him.” But it was yet another sign of the efforts by both the British and Ecuadorian governments to justify a possible move to take away Assange’s protection from extradition to the United States.

​It goes better for friends of Bill Clinton, much better. And the buck stops right there, too,.  
“Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless. He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right,’’ said Courtney Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein.​..​  “By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old. He was involved in my life for years,” said Wild, who was released from prison in October after serving three years on drug charges.​.. ​ “The common interview with a girl went like this: ‘I was brought there by so and so. I didn’t feel comfortable with what happened, but I got paid well, so I was told if I didn’t feel comfortable, I could bring someone else and still get paid,’ ’’ Recarey said.
But on the morning of the breakfast meeting, a deal was struck — an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein’s crimes and the number of people involved.
Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes, according to a Miami Herald examination of thousands of emails, court documents and FBI records.
The pact required Epstein to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. Epstein and four of his accomplices named in the agreement received immunity from all federal criminal charges. But even more unusual, the deal included wording that granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators’’ who were also involved in Epstein’s crimes. 
(No Bill Clinton behind that iron curtain!) These accomplices or participants were not identified in the agreement, leaving it open to interpretation whether it possibly referred to other influential people who were having sex with underage girls at Epstein’s various homes or on his plane.  As part of the arrangement, Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims. As a result, the non-prosecution agreement was sealed until after it was approved by the judge, thereby averting any chance that the girls — or anyone else — might show up in court and try to derail it... Now President Trump’s secretary of labor, Acosta, 49, oversees a massive federal agency that provides oversight of the country’s labor laws, including human trafficking. He also has been on a list of possible replacements for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned under pressure earlier this month... Federal prosecutors identified 36 underage victims, but none of those victims appeared at his sentencing on June 30, 2008, in state court in Palm Beach County. Most of them heard about it on the news — and even then they didn’t understand what had happened to the federal probe that they’d been assured was ongoing... by the time the agreement was unsealed — over a year later — Epstein had already served his sentence and been released from jail... Unlike other convicted sex offenders, Epstein didn’t face the kind of rough justice that child sex offenders do in Florida state prisons. Instead of being sent to state prison, Epstein was housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County jail. And rather than having him sit in a cell most of the day, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office allowed Epstein work release privileges, which enabled him to leave the jail six days a week, for 12 hours a day, to go to a comfortable office that Epstein had set up in West Palm Beach. This was granted despite explicit sheriff’s department rules stating that sex offenders don’t qualify for work release.

​This ball is in play... ​The Senate voted Wednesday afternoon to advance a resolution that would cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the first time a resolution targeting the war has been approved and a sign of how fast the debate in Washington over the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia has shifted... Outside the White House, the brutality of the Yemen conflict and American culpability in it have become harder to ignore since the last vote thanks to a series of tragedies, including one in August in which 40 children on a school bus were killed by a bomb supplied by the U.S. The U.N. has warned that as much as half of Yemen’s population could soon be on the brink of famine. But the killing of journalist and U.S. resident Khashoggi is clearly what has done more than anything else to change the tenor of the debate. The resolution still has a long way to go. Today’s procedural vote will force a full floor debate and amendments could still be introduced. According to Murphy, Corker has indicated he could change his vote before it goes to a full debate if the administration takes further action on its own to pressure Saudi Arabia. It’s also unlikely to pass the House in this session.

Why is the US still supporting Saudi Arabia? Why is the US military in the Middle east? Moon of Alabama finds clues, not answers.

(I wonder what nuclear weapons Saudi Arabia might already have purchased.)
Last week, the NY Times ran a front-page story on Saudi Arabia’s efforts to purchase nuclear fuel enrichment capabilities and as many as 16 nuclear power generating plants from the US. The principal concern expressed here was the Saudi’s insistence on ownership of nuclear fuel-enrichment technologies.
Typically, when the US has exported its reactor technology, it is accompanied by a fuel purchase agreement. We sell the fuel more or less as finished product. In the past, reluctance to export fuel-processing technology stemmed from concerns regarding proliferation of nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia does have domestic sources of uranium they could mine but they have also expressed the need to respond to a potential nuclear arms rivalry with Iran.
But this article omitted the most important point. The key question is what are the Saudi’s motives regarding construction of a vast number of nuclear power plants for supposedly civilian purposes? The answer is obvious. There is no earthly commercial or economic reason for them to produce those quantities of electricity in the proposed nuclear fashion. We should also point out that the seemingly large number cited for these nuclear power plants, $80 billion, is understated by a factor of almost five. Sixteen Westinghouse-designed nuclear stations with two reactors apiece would cost roughly $30 billion apiece! And 16 such plants would cost $480 billion – not $80 billion.

​Growing Awareness​

Monday, November 26, 2018

Redesigning Reality

Creating Humanity,

What will we choose to sacrifice and create as the last of the industrial empires enter terminal decline? Across the globe connections are breaking and new spaces are being created, often with great violence. The demands of the old system exceed the Earth’s capacity and with every passing year, more and more people will be searching for new solutions. We must discover new ways to sing to one another and build our utopias not as end goals but as practices through which we can learn how to better take care of one another. We must create it together, in all our diversity, to give new meanings to the way we live.
It is our historical moment to be such a generation, to live amidst such immense forces of change. The high priests of our system fiercely deny this and demand ever more blood sacrifice from us to end the eclipse of their infinitely growing future. The very logic of their organization precipitates their extinction. However, if we embrace our position, balanced between destruction and creation, we can begin to create harmony amidst the crescendo of the old world. We live amongst dinosaurs. The meteor is coming. We must learn to be warm blooded, how to flower. Will our successional ecology be a golden age or a toxic one? The choice will be ours.

There’s a hidden battle I think is taking place. A battle for the future. Whether or not it will have a soul...  Capitalism is an algorithm... The algorithm of capitalism goes like this. Maximize profits, minimize costs, erase anything that stands in the way. It’s not complicated, it’s not subtle — and there is absolutely no room for human judgment in it... So we get by now that the Facebook algorithm makes us crave fake friendship, constantly dislodging our sense of inherent worth — and the YouTube algorithm tempts us with the most incendiary and extreme videos around. But all this misses the point — the “algorithm” of a “company” is just one expression of the larger algorithm of capitalism. Facebook’s and Youtube’s and Twitter’s algorithms are so noxious, so disappointing, so harmful — and so threatening to democracy, civilization, reason, by way of attacking our self-development — because they are all really the same thing: capitalism’s algorithm...  True freedom begins with the absence of control — which is to say, it is just as much freedom from needing, wanting, hoping to abuse, exploit, demean, harm as it is freedom from suffering them. So all this is about you, becoming someone who transcends this old, decrepit way, which has gone on too long now in human history — this way of being trapped by pleasure, inside systems of domination, great algorithms for controlling human minds, desires, thoughts, possibilities, by doing violence to others, and calling that freedom. And that means that you are going to have to the difficult work of developing a soul. If that is, you want the future to have one, too.

​Why 536 AD was the worst year in history to live on earth (all other things being equal...)
A cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Iceland created a huge cloud that resided over most of the northern hemisphere for 18 months.
The eerie fog caused an unrelenting dusk persevering throughout day and night.
Effects on the climate were so severe that the Irish chronicles tell of 'a failure of bread from the years 536–539'.
Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2,300 years. 
This introduced a period of economic ruin which would steadfastly remain in place until a century later.
In the decades of meteoric economic growth that followed the war, plastic began the inexorable rise that would see it replace cotton, glass and cardboard as the material of choice for consumer products. Thin plastic wrapping was introduced in the early 1950s, displacing the paper and cloth protecting consumer goods and dry cleaning. By the end of the decade, DuPont reported more than a billion plastic sheets sold to retailers. At the same time, plastic entered millions of homes in the form of latex paint and polystyrene insulation, vast improvements over pungent oil paint and expensive rockwool or wood fibre panels. Soon, plastic was everywhere, even outer space. In 1969, the flag that Neil Armstrong planted on the moon was made of nylon. The following year, Coke and Pepsi began replacing their glass bottles with plastic versions manufactured by Monsanto chemical and Standard Oil. “The hierarchy of substances is abolished: a single one replaces them all,” wrote the philosopher Roland Barthes, in 1972...  “Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life,” wrote the economist Victor Lebow in 1955. “We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing pace.” ...
Plastic provided the perfect accelerant for this radical change, simply by being so cheap and easy to throw away. Just a year earlier, in 1954, Lloyd Stouffer, the editor of the trade journal Modern Plastics, was mocked in the press when he told an industry conference that “the future of plastics is in the trash can”. By 1963, he addressed the same conference fully vindicated: “You are filling the trash cans, the rubbish dumps and the incinerators with literally billions of plastics bottles, plastics jugs, plastics tubes, blisters and skin packs, plastics bags and films and sheet packages,” he crowed. “The happy day has arrived when nobody any longer considers the plastic package too good to throw away.”
Plastic meant profit.​...​
If plastic is a microcosm of all of our other environmental problems, then following that logic, so are the solutions. In just a few short years, scientific evidence of the environmental damage done by plastic has spurred people to organise, pressured governments to regulate, and even been noticed by fossil fuel corporations. Customers asked for less packaging at the supermarket, and within a year BP was predicting that, as a result, by 2040 the industry would be producing 2m fewer barrels of oil per day. Our obsession with plastic has registered. In the much larger battle over climate change, the plastic backlash could end up being a small but energising victory, a model for future action.
This means facing up to how interconnected the problems are: to recognise that plastic isn’t just an isolated problem that we can banish from our lives, but simply the most visible product of our past half-century of rampant consumption.

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini just declared himself the leader of the Europe’s future.  He refuses to budge one inch in negotiations with the European Union over Italy’s budget now threatening to take down the government.
And in doing this he not only speaks for Italians, he is now speaking for that growing part of the European population who sees what the EU is morphing into and recoiling in horror.
Protests in France over Emmanuel Macron’s new tax on diesel have turned violent.  The British leadership has completely betrayed the people over Brexit.  They may win this battle but the animosity towards the Britain’s leadership will only grow more virulent over time.
As the core leadership in France and Germany fades in popularity, held in place because of domestic political squabbling, Angela Merkel and Macron are ratcheting up the rhetoric against the rising nationalism Salvini represents and are now pushing hard for their Federation of Europe before both of them leave the scene in the next few years, at best.​..
​Don’t think for one second that Salvini doesn’t know what the real story behind Italy’s debt is and who is hurt worst by exposing it to the vicissitudes of the market.  At this point he’s daring Draghi to stop supporting Italian bond yields.
Let yields rise. Let’s find out who is behind the insolvent Italian banks swimming naked  as the tide rolls out, liquidity dries up and the whole European debt market seizes up.
And if it’s Goldman again then then expect the biggest fight yet for the future of the EU.  If Salvini plays it right, Italeave not Brexit becomes the clarion call for ending the Davos Crowd’s push for global control.

Have the Americans been on the Moon or it’s just a hoax as conspiracy theorists claim? All questions will be answered when the Russian cosmonauts visit the Earth’s satellite, Russia’s space boss, promised.
“We’ve set such a task – to go there and check if they were there or not,” Dmitry Rogozin joked in response to the popular question about the moon exploration. “The Americans say – they’ve been there. We’ll verify that.”

Thanks Wigs (We're used to a lot more varnish on the truth, from both the POTUS and Congress. What about Gabbard's Army Reserve Commission?):  
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has mocked US President Donald Trump’s commitment to remaining allied with Riyadh in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death, calling the president “Saudi Arabia’s b*tch.”...
On Wednesday, Gabbard tweeted that “being Saudi Arabia’s b*tch” is not the kind of “America First” foreign policy that Trump promised during his presidential campaign.
Gabbard, who is an Iraq War veteran herself, opposes the knee-jerk use of the US military in foreign conflicts. She clashed with former president Barack Obama on his Syria policy, suggesting that the US and its allies were pushing for regime change in the country but ignoring the potential consequences. She has also spoken out against the US arming anti-government fighters in Syria, many of whom turned out to be jihadist extremists.

This article says Trump wants $450 billion of Saudi money in deals to look the other way until next time. (Pricey bitch...)

Saudi Arabia pumps a record amount of oil in November, even as prices of oil fall, and OPEC is supposedly cutting back production to keep prices up. (Point goes to team Trump.)

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News said on Thursday the CIA has a recording of a phone call in which the crown prince gave instructions to "silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible." The possible existence of such a tape could put Trump in an awkward position if its contents are leaked given his consistent defense of MbS amidst the scandal and growing calls for accountability.  

​I​t was packaged as a stark, graphic message, echoing across Eurasia: Presidents Erdogan and Putin, in a packed hall in Istanbul on Monday, surrounded by notables, celebrating completion of the 930 kilometer-long offshore section of the TurkStream gas pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea.
This is no less than a key landmark in that fraught terrain I named ‘Pipelineistan’ in the early 2000s. It was built by Gazprom in only two and a half years despite facing massive pressure from Washington, which had already managed to derail TurkStream’s predecessor, South Stream....
Now juxtapose this develo
ping entente cordiale between the Bear and the (aspiring) Sultan with the gripping drama in Istanbul...
The consensus among the AKP leadership – confirmed by independent Left academics – is that the US-Israel-House of Saud-UAE axis is deep in negotiations to extricate MBS from any culpability.
That includes key items in the hefty Erdogan “package” dangled to the axis to essentially buy Ankara’s silence – an end of the Saudi blockade on Qatar and the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, described across the Turkish political spectrum as the leader of FETO (the Fetullah Terrorist Organization).
The big prize is no less than the leadership of the Islamic world.​..​
The Erdogan machine has sensed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to simultaneously bury the House of Saud’s shaky Islamic credibility while solidifying Turkish neo-Ottomanism, but with an Ikhwan framework.  

​Sister Caitlin in Oz points out that we accept horrors and genocide as normal, which is the big problem.​ Whoever did 9/11, WE are doing this as a result...
And amid all the fist-shaking and rending of garments about the killing of one man by the Saudi government, a far less magnetic story has been published saying that about 84,701 Yemeni children under the age of five were starved to death between April 2015 and October 2018. And I say “were starved to death” instead of “have starved to death” because their starvation is the direct result of a blockade and relentless violence by Saudi Arabia.​..​ 
I mean, take 9/11. Pretty bad, right? 2,996 dead human beings. If that were engineered or permitted to happen by any faction of the US government or any of its allies, that would be pretty diabolical. But would it be worse than a million Iraqis killed in a war based on lies? Even if you only care about American lives, just the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq already far exceeds the death toll of 9/11. This was a war engineered by secretive government agencies and DC insiders, justified and sold to the public with government lies, lies which were advanced as objective and unquestionable fact by the mass media. The war was rammed through without any public accountability, a million human lives were snuffed out, and when they were done nobody was tried for war crimes. Nobody was even fired. No changes were ever made to prevent such horrors from being inflicted upon our world again.
On paper, I’d say that’s far worse than 9/11. Yes, I know the two are related, but just looking at the objective facts of those two occurrences, one is clearly more egregious an offense than the other, regardless of what specifically happened on that September morning.

Zionist Supremacism – The Right to Kill for any Reason Chosen​  (That's the same right America and allies claimed since WW-2. Thanks Eleni.)
Israel admits its submarine sank Lebanese refugee boat during 1982 war

​The US can use white phosphorous to burn eyes, mouths, flesh and lungs because we didn't sign that ban. See? OK. Thanks Eleni.
Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons prohibits the use of the chemical weapon in areas populated by civilians. However, the United States is not a signatory of Protocol III.
The recent alleged bombing of a Syrian town with white phosphorus by munitions is the fourth time the U.S.-led coalition has been accused of using the banned substance in the village of Hajin just since September. On Oct. 29, and a few weeks prior on Oct. 13, local sources reported the use of white phosphorus by coalition jets in Hajin.​..​
Unfortunately, the U.S.-led coalition has been using white phosphorus in combat operations long before September. In fact, the use of white phosphorus had become so commonplace that a New Zealand general that worked with the coalition openly admitted to its use in Iraq’s Mosul in an interview with NPR. The coalition also used the banned munitions in its efforts to take the Syrian city of Raqqa from Daesh in June of last year.  

​These guys only get the right to do anything to anybody if they blame it on Assad. They missed that fine point this time...
Over 100 civilians were hospitalized, including dozens of women and children, after anti-Assad militants unleashed a wave of mortars filled with poison gas on government controlled Aleppo Saturday evening.
Syrian state-run SANA published multiple photos and video of victims in the city's hospitals being treated for what's reported to be chlorine gas exposure. Though it's not the first time that 'rebels' seeking to topple the Assad government have conducted a chemical attack on pro-government areas according to United Nations findings, it is the first time that mainstream American outlets like CNN and Reuters have featured coverage of such events.

NATO-wannabe, Ukraine tries to put military vessels in the Sea of Azov, after being warned in September not to do so. Vessels are impounded. NATO "is monitoring events closely".

Rubber Ducky