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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Perception Management

Not Spilling Beans,

President Donald "thinks he knows who was behind the 9/11 attacks", and "it wasn't Iraq". 
OK, now what? Is that the end? He can't really say who did it, can he?

Caitlin Johnstone (Reminds me of Carl Rove, here...)
​ ​In the movie The Matrix, the film’s hero is plugged into a digital simulation and asks his guide, “This… this isn’t real?”
​ ​“What is real?” the guide replies. “How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”
​ ​In exactly the same way, what we take to be “real” about world events is information that we have taken into our senses and assessed as true. We’ll often put as much faith in these beliefs as we do in what we’ve seen, heard and touched for ourselves, but understandings of world events are made of narrative, and narrative can be manipulated in the interests of the powerful.
​ ​Those who engage in narrative management are not merely guilty of diddling with a few stories; they are actively controlling people’s experience of reality. As far as human experience is concerned, perception is reality. The most talented manipulators among us are fully aware of this and understand that, by controlling people’s perceptions, they can in a very real way control their reality.
​ ​What happens when you can control people’s experience of reality? Well, in a world of social creatures who build their society based on dominant consensuses about circumstances and events, you can to an extent control reality itself. You can create a reality where all resources are funneled toward you, your allies and your lackeys.

​The View From Abroad, America as Others See It​, from Eleni, in Athens

 President Trump wasn't thrilled by this morning's selloff in the euro, and for the first time, is lashing out at ECB chief Mario Draghi, accusing him in a tweet of intentionally manipulating the value of the shared currency with his stimulus talk.
Earlier, Mario Draghi sent the euro tumbling and German yields to record lows when he said that rate cuts or more asset purchases could be part of the central bank's toolkit for fending off a recession.
 Update: Trump isn't letting this go, and is now attacking Draghi because European stock markets rallied on Draghi's stimulus remarks, which isn't "fair" for the US.

"America has enough uranium to power it for 100 years" (Perfect! What could go wrong?.) 
American Association of Petroleum Geologists in San Antonio. The report assessed that the U.S. has more uranium than we would need to fuel hundreds of years of nuclear power generation, even if nuclear power was being relied on as a much more significant source of energy in the U.S. This is great news for nuclear supporters in the United States, though historically the country has not mined its own uranium but imported the radioactive metal from other countries--and there’s a reason for that.As Forbes reports: “Since the 1990s, mostly from other countries like Canada and Australia. This is a good thing, as the uranium ores in these countries are much higher grade than ours and requires a lot less mining and refining to get the same amount of energy into the fuel. And, except for Russia, most of these countries are our allies.”

 Over the next several weeks, our planet will have a close encounter with the Taurid meteor swarm.  It will be the closest that we have been to the center of the meteor swarm since 1975, and we won’t have an encounter this close again until 2032.  So for astronomers, this is a really big deal.  And hopefully there will be no danger to Earth during this pass, but some scientists are absolutely convinced that the Tunguska explosion of 1908 which flattened 80 million trees in Russia was caused by an object from the Taurid meteor swarm. 

​Celestial Shotgun​

Monday, June 17, 2019



Caitlin Johnstone jumps us down another rabbit-hole:​
​ ​The New York Times has published an anonymously sourced report titled “U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid” about the “placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before” which could potentially “plunge Russia into darkness or cripple its military,” with one anonymous official reporting that “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.” ... 
​ ​“New laws, enacted by Congress last year, allow such ‘clandestine military activity’ in cyberspace to go ahead without the president’s approval. So, in this case, those new laws are protecting American interests… by keeping the sitting president out of the loop. What a (scary) time to be alive.” ... 
The US war machine is the most powerful military force in the history of civilization, and the alliance of nations that it upholds is functionally the most powerful empire that the world has ever seen. Because so much power depends on the behavior of this gargantuan war engine, it is seen by those with real power as too important to be left to the will of the electorate, and too important to be left to the will of the elected Commander-in-Chief. This is why Americans are the most propagandized people in the world, this is why Russia hysteria has been blasted into their psyches for three years, and this is why we are all at an ever-increasing risk of dying in a nuclear holocaust...  
UPDATE: Trump now seems like he might be denying that what The New York Times’ sources said is happening is happening. It’s unlikely that the Times would fabricate a story whole cloth, so if Trump is in fact denying the story then either the sources are lying about what they’re doing in their own purported jobs, or Trump is still being kept in the dark, or Trump is just lying.
​ “Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia,” Trump tweeted. “This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country. ALSO, NOT TRUE!​"​

​Well, it happened to Venezuela recently, and everybody knew why...
"This Has Never Happened Before": Millions Without Electricity After Massive Blackout Cripples Argentina And Uruguay
Millions of people and entire cities descended into darkness as a massive, unprecedented power failure kept Argentina and Uruguay in the dark on Sunday morning, the same day as provincial elections were to be held in parts of Argentina.  

​ ​The “B-Team” consists of U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister (nee Dictator) Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed.
​ ​When we look seriously at the attacks on the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week the basic question that comes to mind is, Cui bono? Who benefits?​ ​...
​ ​My friends say that Trump wants to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war, but that Bolton has been insistent that the only way to guarantee the closeness of the U.S. relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is to keep providing those countries with weapons, aerial refueling planes, and intelligence support.
​ ​So, couple the attacks on these tankers with the timing of Abe’s visit and the vote on Rand Paul’s bill to end selling arms to the Saudis in support of their war in Yemen (which flew through the Senate thanks to this attack getting a number of senators to change their vote at the last second) and we have a perfect cui bono.
​ ​That’s the entire B-Team’s motives distilled down to a couple of drones flying in to create a casus belli which saves Bolton’s job, keeps the weapons flowing to the murderous Saudis and creates an opportunity for Netanyahu to feed Trump bad information via his ‘intelligence’ services.

​ ​The Japanese government has been requesting the United States for concrete evidence to back its assertion that Iran is to blame for the attacks on two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, government sources said Sunday.  

​What happens when political "troublemakers" disappear in China...
The prisoner was brought in, tied hand and foot, but very much alive. The army doctor in charge sliced him open from chest to belly button and exposed his two kidneys. “Cut the veins and arteries,” he told his shocked intern. George did as he was told. Blood spurted everywhere. The kidneys were placed in an organ-transplant container. Then the doctor ordered George to remove the man’s eyeballs. Hearing that, the dying prisoner gave him a look of sheer terror, and George froze. “I can’t do it,” he told the doctor, who then quickly scooped out the man’s eyeballs himself.
“Chinese dissidents are being executed for their organs, former hospital worker says” by Stephen W. Mosher  

  Beijing has yielded to Hong Kong’s unique economic status. Carrie Lam, chief executive of the special administrative region, on Saturday indefinitely suspended a bill that would have allowed extradition to the mainland, responding to mass rallies and violent street protests that rocked the city. It’s a defeat for her, and leaves the central government embarrassed. But for the Chinese Communist Party, preserving Hong Kong’s financial role still trumps the desire for more political control.

​2 million people protesting in the streets, after they already "won". What could possibly motivate this?​
Despite City Executive Carrie Lam's major concession to the protest movement - that is, the (not really) 'indefinite' suspension of the extradition bill that catalyzed the protests - a planned protest march went ahead as scheduled on Sunday, marking the second consecutive Sunday of street protests in Hong Kong.
 Though they celebrated the defeat of the extradition bill, many believe Lam was too slow to apologize for siding with Beijing and fast-trafficking legislation that, according Congress, would jeopardize Hong Kong's independence. Now, millions are demanding that she resign, and have vowed to continue marching until she is gone.

Say hello to the Russia-China operating system
The US ban on Huawei is pushing it to develop alternative systems that may rival Google and Android
 G​oogle cuts Huawei off Android; so Huawei may migrate to Aurora. Call it mobile Eurasia integration; the evolving Russia-China strategic partnership may be on the verge of spawning its own operating system – and that is not a metaphor.
​ ​Aurora is a mobile operating system currently developed by Russian Open Mobile Platform, based in Moscow. It is based on the Sailfish operating system, designed by Finnish technology company Jolla, which featured a batch of Russians in the development team.  

One of the most current examples of this newly strengthened relationship between Beijing and Moscow is a new joint venture between state-owned shipping corporations in Russia and China to create a “Polar Silk Road” in the Arctic Sea. a year ago, officials in Beijing announced that China would be pursuing investment across the Arctic Route to encourage commercial shipping through the northern passage as a part of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative...
  The new venture will ship liquefied natural gas from central northern Siberia’s gargantuan Yamal LNG project to a laundry list of destinations including Northern Europe, Japan, South Korea, and China. The initiative will begin with a fleet of a dozen ice-breaking tankers, and Cosco’s China Shipping LNG Investment Co. will reportedly operate another nine tankers.  
​The End of the Supergiants 
(They put in a fracking rig with dormitories and big, bright floodlights and ran it day and night where Hwy 183 intersects Hwy 111, about 11 miles from Yoakum. Very impressive. Jenny took pictures at night. Looked like a moon shot. It was completely gone, already 2 days ago when we drove by. Fracking is really expensive. They have to keep those men and machinery moving constantly.)​
 Giants represent about 1% of the total number of oil fields and yet produce over 60% of conventional oil crude.[3]Very few real giants have been discovered in recent years. The geology of the planet is now known well enough and prospects for new significant giant oil discoveries are known to be low.  In recent decades, discoveries of smaller oil fields have not been able to compensate for the eventual loss of the giants. Figure 1 illustrates the matter. It shows the net flux of addition to reserves per year (additional volumes less volumes used). Since 2010 the steep declining trend has worsened. The level of new discoveries per year is now only about 5% of yearly reserves depletion. That is, since the late 1970s the oil industry has been steadily depleting its stock-in-trade at a rather fast rate.
 The fact that Ghawar is in terminal decline means that we must consider that most of the old giants are in a similar situation.  Some were already known to be in a terminal status, e.g. Cantarell in Mexico or the main North Sea fields.[4]  However, there is a paucity of recent public data on giants.  The matter of their depletion status is commercially sensitive

​Still Above Ground

Gardener photographed in Austin garden early Father's Day morning​

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Personalized Censorship Algorithms


I started the blog around this time in 2016, when my bcc sends of the news (done for 10 years by then) were blocked by the internet. I did every possible thing to comply with rules and petitioned gmail repeatedly and occasionally got things to send for a day or two until I was shut down again. This blocking stopped 48 hours after the November 2016 election and did not start again until early October 2018. It stopped 48 hours after the November 2018 vote.
This week I have been getting steadily blocked from sending to the 190 of my closest friends (etc.) who usually get my dredge.
This is a really early start to the censorship cycle, but it is probably what is "necessary" this time. After all, I support Peace-Candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, who deserted the DNC for their vote rigging against Bernie Sanders in 2016.

Eleni sends this insightful article. It's down to censorship for the DNC. No Plan-B.
Democrat strategy unlocked – Silence the Public, pretend Clinton isn’t in charge, and run half a dozen candidates representing some puerile pastiche of demography, until the very end.
​ ​While at first glance this may seem to be reflective of an incoherent strategy, we need to step back and see how there is indeed a certain logic at play here. Censorship will have a huge impact on this election, and all politics moving forward.
​ ​Not having a single candidate to focus on, that is, to draw fire on, isn’t the same thing as not having a single strategy. Single candidates and single strategies are not the same thing, not in the DNC, which is still clearly under a unified command structure under H.R Clinton. Yes indeed.
​ ​It’s clear to insiders and anyone nominally looking at the facts on paper that the DNC is still a Clinton monopoly.​..

​ Besides the actual strategy of relying on internet censorship, the nominal, plastered, plausible strategy is to run everyone at once, until the very end. There isn’t a single candidate because democrats in fact do not have a candidate to run. They have a censorship plan, and then simply run half a dozen people simultaneously and work their virtual supporters up into some ‘anyone but Trump’ frenzy, with each candidate taking the historic vow to officially throw their support and their supporters behind the candidate that wins the DNC primaries.

​ ​The most trustworthy of corporations recently announced it is going to selflessly and patriotically secure our elections. It’s a small company run by vegans and powered by love. It goes by the name “Microsoft.” (You’re forgiven for never having heard of it.) ...
 “Microsoft aims to modernize and secure voting with ElectionGuard.”
​ ​Could anything be safer than software christened “ElectionGuard™”?! It has “guard” right there in the name. It’s as strong and trustworthy as the little-known Crotch Guard™.  

​ ​The Intercept has unearthed some stunning quotes from Facebook's lawyers as the controversial social media giant recently battled litigation in California courts related to the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal. The report notes that statements from Facebook's counsel "reveal one of the most stunning examples of corporate doublespeak certainly in Facebook’s history" concerning privacy and individual users' rights.
​ ​Contrary to CEO Mark Zuckerberg's last testimony before Congress which included the vague promise, “We believe that everyone around the world deserves good privacy controls,” the latest courtroom statements expose in shockingly unambiguous terms that Facebook actually sees privacy as legally "nonexistent".

​ ​An internal Facebook document reveals that the social media giant monitors its users' offline behavior as part of how the company determines whether a person should be classified as a "Hate Agent," ...
 Titled "Hate Agent Policy Review," the document reveals that Facebook employs a series of "signals" which include a person's behavior both on and off the platform. Once determined to be a "hate agent," a person is banned from the platform.
​ ​If you praise the wrong individual, interview them, or appear at events alongside them, Facebook may categorize you as a “hate agent.”  

​Another peek at the truth behind the curtain from Eleni, about global-vulture-capitalist-billionaire-Republican-donor, Paul Singer.​
​ ​With nearly 6 million Americans unemployed and regular bouts of layoffs in the U.S. tech industry, major American tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Intel Corporation are nonetheless moving key operations, billions in investments, and thousands of jobs to Israel — a trend that has largely escaped media attention or concern from even “America first” politicians. The fact that this massive transfer of investment and jobs has been so overlooked is particularly striking given that it is largely the work of a single leading neoconservative Republican donor who has given millions of dollars to President Donald Trump...
 ​ Furthermore, many of these companies are hiring members of controversial Israeli companies — known to have spied on Americans, American companies, and U.S. federal agencies — as well as numerous members of Israeli military intelligence as top managers and executives.
This massive transfer of the American tech industry has largely been the work of one leading Republican donor — billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who also funds the neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
​ ​For a moment on Thursday, it appeared that the US Navy had produced the 'smoking gun' to which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had alluded during his statement from earlier in the day: CENTCOM footage which the Navy said purported to show Iran's IRGC 'caught in the act' of trying to remove an unexploded  mine from the Kokuka Courageous, one of the two tankers damaged in Thursday's attacks...
 After the video's release, Iran continued to deny any involvement in the attacks. And perhaps now we know why.
​ ​In comments that cast the entire narrative promulgated by the US in doubt, Yutaka Katada, the president of Kokuka Sangyo, the owner and operator of the Kokuka Courageous, said Friday that he doesn't completely believe Washington's version of events... "A mine doesn’t damage a ship above sea level," said Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo, the owner and operator of the vessel. "We aren’t sure exactly what hit, but it was something flying towards the ship," he said.  

​Seven Reasons to be Highly Skeptical of the Gulf of Oman Incident, Caitlin Johnstone (really, 3-4 is enough)
  In a move that surprised exactly zero people, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has wasted no time scrambling to blame Iran for damage done to two sea vessels in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, citing exactly zero evidence.
 “This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high-degree of sophistication,” Pompeo told the press in a statement. 
[Not mentioned is the US/NATO/Israeli elephant in that pond]

It looks like the mysterious attacks helped some of our elected representatives make up their minds on a difficult political decision.
​ ​A brief report from's Eric Garris suggests Thursday's tanker attack incident in the Gulf of Oman which the United States promptly blamed on Iran has directly impacted bills placed before the Senate which would ban US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar.
​ ​Garris wrote of the vote which came hours after the Gulf tankers incident: "Both votes were considered highly likely to pass up until they were rushed to the floor today. The timing appears almost certainly to have been related to Thursday tanker bombings in the Gulf of Oman, and shifted a number of Senators’ votes in favor of continuing the arms sales." He noted that "some senators switched sides to kill the bills" following news of the tanker attacks.

​Is the US Preparing for War With Russia? (The answer, we all know, but who is "the US"?)​
The RAND Corporation recently published a document entitled Overextending and Unbalancing Russia. Assessing the Impact of Cost-Imposing Options...
 It is a practical recommendation for how the US can use Russia’s weakness and vulnerability to further limit its political and economic potential.

Informing No-one​

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Usual Suspects


Who possibly would and could torpedo a Japanese oil tanker while Japanese ​Prime Minister Abe ​and Iranian officials were meeting? 
(Supposedly, Trump is using ​Abe​ to negotiate for the US. This looks like it would mess that up.​ Whose interests does that serve?​)
2 Tankers Damaged After Torpedo Attack Near Strait Of Hormuz; Oil Soars

​ ​It appears earlier reports that the Front Altair had sunk were, in fact, incorrect. The ship's captain has said that it is still afloat. VHF radio traffic confirmed that it is damaged but still afloat.
​ ​Hours have passed since the suspected attacks, and still nobody has claimed responsibility. Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has noted how suspicious it is that a Japanese owned vessel would be attacked while Iranian leaders were meeting with the Japanese prime minister in Tehran.
​ ​And as one BBG analyst pointed out: "Fingers will certainly be pointed at Iran as the mastermind behind these events. But the potential benefits to the Persian Gulf nation are outweighed by the risks. And even if Tehran isn't responsible, it will still suffer the consequences."
​ ​Several American warships were nearby when the attack unfolded, per radio traffic, which also showed some signs of tensions with Iranian vessels: "American warship identifying itself as 'Coalition Warship' stating they have multiple vessels and aircraft in the vicinity. Iranian Navy calling vessels asking their intention in the area."

​Interview with an Israeli military officer about US war with Iran. I think Eleni sent this one:
​ ​There are a few aspects. In purely military terms, it's impossible to defeat Iran. It has a huge amount of territory. The Americans won't have enough forces to deploy there. The logistics are crazy, it's impossible for the Americans. So, there's no opportunity to conduct a war against Iran and win it. And the Pentagon knows that better than anyone. And they warned and said it. To advance by a few miles in small, miserable Kuwait, the Americans deployed half a million servicemen there. They strained their entire army...
In the south of Iran, there are Arabs who are Shia. And there are Arabs who are Shia and live in Iraq. And in Saudi Arabia, the area where the oil is developed is controlled by the Shia. And the majority of Kuwait's population is Shia. 80% of Bahrain's population is Shia. Then, such a big fire will start in the Middle East. And the Sunni won't be able to [stop] the Iranians and pro-Iranian forces. They don't have enough forces. Saudi Arabia has a huge military budget. Its hands are tied, so it can't do anything to tiny Yemen. They can't do anything to the Houthi. Therefore, in this war of Persians against Arabs, the Persians will win. And this is another problem. It means a stronger Turkey. The Americans won't remain whole after that war. The Middle East won't remain whole. If anyone wins, it'll be Russia...
​ ​This tale about 120,000 isn't a tale. The American servicemen, just counted that in order to maintain the U.S. presence, 120,000 servicemen are required. These aren't operational plans. When they ask the military what it's necessary for that, they say that they need 120,000 servicemen in order to stay in the Middle East…
They need one million servicemen to go to Iran. They don't have them...
​ ​Trump came to the conclusion that it's almost impossible to conduct regime change in Iran. Why almost? It's because American specialists, who think like Americans and have no idea what the Middle East is, think that the economic environment in Iran will lead to the collapse of that regime.
​ ​They don't understand what they're talking about. The current government in Iran is stable. And nobody and nothing threats it. If Iranians will have half as much food, the government will stay. This is Iran. It isn't Spain. That's why everyone who thinks like Americans or Europeans, that if somebody doesn't have enough of anything, the government will change. They treat Hamas and Iran like this.
​ ​They don't understand what they're talking about. Another option that Trump has is simple - to conduct negotiations. And all of those shouts, that hysteria, are meant to make Iranians take part in negotiations. But he wants to do it and save face, so he wants them to ask for it​.​

​Eleni certainly sent this article, critical perspective for US/NATO imperial military operations in the post-Soviet era.​
​ On March 24th, 1999, NATO launched its 78-day round the clock aerial assault on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. Over a thousand NATO warplanes delivered over 2,000 airstrikes in nearly 40,000 sorties, dropping over 20,000 bombs over the former Yugoslavia, killing thousands of civilian men, women, and children, as well as upwards of a thousand Yugoslav soldiers and police.[1] [2] [3] NATO employed weapons considered criminal by international law such as depleted uranium and cluster bombs.[4] [5] [6] [7]  ... 
By the year 2000, Yugoslavia had been ripped apart with NATO bombs, IMF restructuring and ethnic conflict. Serbia was destroyed and the rest of the republics were transformed into neocolonies of the Western powers. The most popular narrative is that the West intervened in the region out of humanitarian concern - to stop genocide. However, this claim doesn't hold up when actual facts are brought into play. In reality, the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia was not a humanitarian one; it was instead motivated by the colonial-imperialist, economic and ideological interests of the member states of NATO - namely the United States and Germany.
​ ​Although the bombing was dressed up as 'humanitarian', all it really served to do was dismantle all that remained of socialism in Europe and once again 'Balkanize' and colonize the Balkans. This truth becomes obvious upon a principled analysis of the economic interests and actions of the NATO bloc before formal intervention, an investigation into how the actual intervention was handled, and a look into the current state of the former Yugoslavia. The 'humanitarian' and 'democratic' bombs dropped on Yugoslavia resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars in economic damage which dramatically reduced the living standards of the Yugoslav people - the most damaging in the region since the Nazi occupation during WWII. The strategy of Balkanization and 'humanitarian intervention' has become the West's (often through NATO) modus operandi; the same strategy of partitioning unified economically nationalist and independent states first exercised over Yugoslavia has also been practiced in Iraq, Libya, and now Syria. The results are always the same - a drop in living standards, a huge resentment towards the West and NATO from the populations of the targeted countries, and a profit for the imperialist powers. 

​More correct perspective on the empire from Eleni:​
​ ​Giving a speech at the ACLU last week after the Senate torture report was initially released, Hersh gave some insight into what was on the Pentagon’s secret tape.
 Debating about it, ummm … Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.”

​"Who Is Funding Uncle Sam?"​ This is the neoliberal assessment of US Treasury debt, increasingly held by Americans, at this point in the game. You hear this analysis regularly. I've heard it my whole life. It is approaching a breaking point, whenever there is a run on this bank. Thanks Eleni.

Here is MMT, Modern Monetary Theory, looking at the same issue more usefully, not painted into a corner,... but irresponsible kids playing with cans of paint. 
This model is really how they have been thinking at the top for a long time. It will be openly adopted in the next crisis.

 Credit Card

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Poisoning The Well

Handling Rattlesnakes,

So anyway, Pompeo is asked by some ridiculous twat what he’s going to do in the event of a Corbyn-led Kristallnacht, and WaPo reports on his response as follows:
​ ​Pompeo said, “It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best,” he said to fervent applause from attendees.
​ ​“It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened,” he said.​..​

​ ​“President Trump and his officials’ attempts to decide who will be Britain’s next prime minister are an entirely unacceptable interference in the UK’s democracy,” The Guardian quotes a Labour spokesperson as saying in response to the revelation.
​ ​“STOP: The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just promised ‘Jewish leaders’ in the United States that he would stop Jeremy Corbyn coming to power here,” tweeted former British MP George Galloway. “Is this normal now? Is this what we’ve been led to? Is this good for Jews? For Britain? Really?”
​ “They did it in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Now the US government wants to overthrow democracy in Britain,” tweeted The Guardian’s George Monbiot. “Still waiting for a UK government spokesperson to express their outrage. Hello???”
​ ​ “Hmm. Hard to spin this any other way: the US secretary of state secretly promises US Jewish leaders to prevent Corbyn from becoming UK prime minister,” tweeted British journalist Jonathan Cook“Hard too not to suspect that the US is *already* helping to ensure Corbyn doesn’t become PM. Because the obvious implication of Pompeo’s comment is that the US knows it can damage Corbyn without leaving fingerprints at the crime scene — presumably through black ops, image management etc. The elephant in the room: Why assume the US isn’t already using those techniques?”  

​ ​Trump appears unwilling to go down in history as the president responsible for kicking off nuclear Armageddon. But what about the next president? The deep state in control of US politics would surely be able to place into office someone who would advance the final justification for a headlong confrontation with Moscow and Beijing.
​ ​If you think I am exaggerating, take Pompeo, a representative of the deep state, and his recent answer to the question of whether Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran. “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible”, he responded.

​If only we could elect Joe Biden president, he would "Cure Cancer"!

​ ​Tulsi’s own military experience notwithstanding, she gives every indication of being honestly anti-war. In the speech announcing her candidacy she pledged “focus on the issue of war and peace” to “end the regime-change wars that have taken far too many lives and undermined our security by strengthening terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.” She referred to the danger posed by blundering into a possible nuclear war and indicated her dismay over what appears to be a re-emergence of the Cold War.
​ ​In a recent interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, Gabbard doubled down on her anti-war credentials, telling the host that war with Iran would be “devastating,” adding that “I know where this path leads us and I’m concerned because the American people don’t seem to be prepared for how devastating and costly such a war would be...
​ ​Gabbard, and also Carlson, did not hesitate to name names among those pushing for war, one of which begins with B-O-L-T-O-N. She then asked “How does a war with Iran serve the best interest of the American people of the United States? And the fact is it does not,” Gabbard said. “It better serves the interest of people like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia who are trying to push us into this war with Iran.” ​...​ 

​ ​Tulsi Gabbard had previously called for an end to the “illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government,” also observing that “the war to overthrow Assad is counter-productive because it actually helps ISIS and other Islamic extremists achieve their goal of overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad and taking control of all of Syria – which will simply increase human suffering in the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis, and pose a greater threat to the world.”  ​...
​ Last May, she criticized Israel for shooting “unarmed protesters” in Gaza, a very bold step indeed given the power of the Israel Lobby.​..
​ ​Tulsi Gabbard could well be the only genuine antiwar candidate that might truly be electable in the past fifty years, and that is why the war party is out to get her.

​ ​Two day after a massive, 1+ million protest took place in Hong Kong, with demonstrators demanding the end to a proposal allowing extraditions to China, a follow up protest took place with thousands of people blocking local streets, and Hong Kong police defended the use of tear gas and rubber bullets to control a “riot situation” after protesters tried to storm the chamber where lawmakers were expected to take up - and pass - the controversial bill...
 ​ ​As we noted last night, a repeat protest erupted early on Wednesday, and it only got worse as the day progressed as  demonstrators - many of them clad in goggles, face masks and helmets -fled to different areas, running through plumes of smoke - threw bricks, bottles and umbrellas at riot police guarding the city’s Legislative Council; they dragged metal barriers and linked arms across roads surrounding government headquarters, in scenes reminiscent of the 79-day street protests that paralyzed parts of downtown Hong Kong in 2014...
 So much tear gas was used that commuters waiting at nearby subway stations and people in shopping malls were coughing and tearing up, and many sought medical attention.
​ ​Many of the city’s lawmakers, from both the pro-democracy camp that opposes the contentious extradition legislation at the heart of the protests and the pro-Beijing majority that supports it, failed to arrive at the council for a scheduled debate on Wednesday morning, after protesters surrounded the complex and blocked traffic.
​ ​Some financial services were also disrupted. HSBC Holdings PLC closed two banking-service outlets in the Admiralty area until further notice, while other banks including Standard Chartered PLC, Bank of East Asia Ltd. and China Citic Bank Corp. temporarily suspended operations at branches near the protest area.
​ ​Even though the opposition bloc in the city’s legislature has been weakened after authorities ousted several democratically elected lawmakers through court orders and barred others from running, opposition to the proposed law came from many corners of society, including businesspeople, lawyers and activists, who say the changes would undermine Hong Kong’s relative autonomy and independent judicial system...
​ ​“The government needs to acknowledge that my voice matters,” said Candy Wong, a 27-year-old shop assistant who said she was angered after authorities pressed ahead with the bill even after more than a million people—including herself—took to the streets in protest. Ms. Wong took a day off to join the rally. “If I didn’t come today by next week I may no longer have the freedom to do so.”

​Dan sends this well researched and written "long read" on how the opioid epidemic came to nest in Appalachia.​
​ ​In chemical terms, carfentanyl is as mortal a threat as nerve gas – more poisonous by median lethal dose (one nanogram) than the venom of the Mojave rattlesnake. It was once unregulated, but after containing its production, the Chinese government made a pointed statement:
​ ​America consumes 80 per cent of the world’s opioids. 2. China, a country in which these substances could be purchased online at wholesale prices, does not have an opioid problem. 3. If America has an opioid problem, it is not because of pharmaceutical imports but American-manufactured prescription drugs.
​ ​All true. At the heart of this domestic consumption is the region of Appalachia, set in mountainous seclusion between Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Appalachia, when it is thought of at all, occupies a kind of ‘herrre be dragyns’ place on the American mind map of most Americans, occupied by doodled stereotypes: coal, hillbillies, Deliverance playing on repeat. Opioid addicts were just added to the stereotypes, a single letter changed to neologize them as ‘pillbillies’...
​ ​Pastor M. told me about an early Pentecostal missionary, a barely tolerated presence in some mining camp full of hard men. They ignored him, and let him know he was ignored, until one day the whole camp arrived en masse to his tent, bending the brims of their hats in their hands, asking to join his ‘congregation’.
​ ​‘May I ask,’ said the missionary, ‘what made you change your minds?’
​ ​‘Well,’ said their leader, ‘we have been poisoning the water in your well, and as you are unaffected, we figure you must have something to teach us.’

​Being Persistent​

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Green Old Deal

Not Born Yesterday,

​I'm going to start with the conclusion, which is that actual productive economic growth has already ended, and we are keeping the complex system coherent by using fake financial "growth", which can seem to work, until it doesn't. I think the dateline "2019" on the graph below should be 2-3 mm to the right. People keep changing the year on that same line. The real economy is rolling over.
 The article on "degrowth" caught my interest, but it sounds like it was written by city people who are stressed out by paychecks that don't keep up with shopping, and see a life with less shopping, less pay, city buses, and free education and medical care as being simpler, with more leisure time. 
  It does not seem that the author has had to solve existential problems, grow food, or make useful necessities, like clothing or furniture.
The life with more leisure time was easier to believe in the 1960s, when there was more of everything for everybody every year.
This is the simpler, easier life we are living now, which is why so much of the world wants to get in where there is plenty of food, cars, public services and clean water..  
 I'll put in a piece Eleni sent from Jim Kunstler about where some of us might get to some day, without some of the others.
 Gail Tverberg's article, sent by Charles, along with the one about high tech can't last (really limited existence on the planet of rare-earth elements, which are completely critical to the screen I'm looking at and everything that precedes it).
 There's more about the trade wars from other perspectives, but Gail's perspective is paramount, directly related to global energy limits and the effects that expensive energy is having on the global economic web. She doesn't mention the US policy of bombing all the oil countries that start selling oil for anything other than dollars. That moves their oil into the future, by destroying their ability to pump and burn it now.  
 The latest analysis, still showing the financing of the shale oil miracle to be a lot like the housing bubble is included. Shale oil is useful as a US weapon on the global stage, increasing the power of the Petrobuck-Empire to bomb and blockade oil-producing non-vassals, while keeping tribute-paying vassals in Europe and Japan from economic collapse.
Charles' own essay about a rural revival follows that, and one I have sent before, about the rural creative class.
 Creativity and manufacturing going rural is important, because what is happening in the cities is compliance economy, with creativity fading away, too risky. To afford a creative project, one has to be where rents are lower, code-compliance less daunting, and expectations of workers less tightly scripted and defined.
​ The article that packed the most punch for me was the one about the very limited supplies of rare-earth elements on our fair planet. 
There is not enough to keep making laptops, smartphones, video screens, hard drives, microchips, electric car and wind turbine magnets and so on. Some of these very hard limits have already been brushed a few times, but the global trade war (best kind of war, I think) is likely to make them acute. The majority of these come from China, because that's where most of them are. China has few enough cards to play in a trade war. China will probably stop exporting these, except in manufactured products. 
I suspect there is already a lot of quiet coercion going on. Apple has to make iPhones in China, right?​
​Imagine an almost infinite celestial fruit-​cobbler...
 In 1972, a team at MIT published The Limits to Growth, a report that predicted what would happen to human civilization as the economy and population continued to grow. What their computer simulation found was pretty straightforward: On a planet of finite resources, infinite exponential growth isn’t possible. Eventually, non-renewable resources, like oil, would run out.
Historically, we have considered growth a positive thing, synonymous with job security and prosperity. Since World War II, the gross domestic product (GDP) measure has been used as “the ultimate measure of a country’s overall welfare.” ...
But growth has led to other problems, such as the warming of the planet due to carbon emissions, and the extreme weather and loss of biodiversity and agriculture that comes along with that. Consequently some activists, researchers, and policy makers are questioning the dogma of growth as good. This skepticism has led to the degrowth movement, which says the growth of the economy is inextricably tied to an increase in carbon emissions. It calls for a dramatic reduction in energy and material use, which would inevitably shrink GDP.
The Green New Deal, popularized by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seeks to decrease carbon by growing the renewable energy industry. But the degrowth movement believes we need to take this further, by designing a social upheaval that disentangles the idea of progress and economic growth once and for all. This new accounting of economic success would instead focus on access to public services, a shorter work week, and an increase in leisure time. Their approach, they say, will not only combat climate change, but free us from a workaholic culture in which so many struggle to make ends meet...
 This is how degrowthers envision the process: After a reduction in material and energy consumption, which will constrict the economy, there should also be a redistribution of existing wealth, and a transition from a materialistic society to one in which the values are based on simpler lifestyles and unpaid work and activities...
 People can try to live a degrowth-esque lifestyle today by buying fewer things, but ultimately it's challenging to commit to degrowth without those public services that are built into the model...
 Since there are so few real-world examples of degrowth, Kallis has used a fictional utopia to explain the concept in a 2015 paper...
“It’s how we imagine the good life,” Kallis said. “A life that is simpler, not a life where we keep producing more and more running faster and faster, and having more and more products to choose from.”

​Eleni sent this from Kunstler:  Going Where, Exactly?
​ ​Well, we’d better adjust our thinking to the fact that the horn-of-plenty is shockingly out of goodies, and that no amount of financial hocus-pocus is going to refill it. Valiant attempts to redistribute the already-existing wealth are liable to prove disappointing, especially when the paper and digital representations of that wealth in “money” turn out to be figments — promises to pay that will never be kept because they can’t be kept.
 ​So, instead of fantasizing about free PhD programs for everybody, and free insulin for the multitudes, consider instead the vista of a reduced population working in the fields and pastures to bring enough food out of the long-abused land to live through the next winter. Consider a world in which, if we are lucky, the electricity runs for a few hours a day, but possibly not at all. Imagine a world in which men and women actually function in different divisions of labor and different social spaces because they must, to keep the human project going. Imagine a world in which the ideas in your head about that world actually have to comport with the way the way that world really works — and the severe penalty for failing to recognize that.

​ ​Nearly everyone wonders, “Why is Donald Trump crazy enough to impose tariffs on imports from other countries? How could this possibly make sense?”
​ ​As long as the world economy is growing rapidly, it makes sense for countries to cooperate with each other. With the use of cooperation, scarce resources can become part of supply lines that allow the production of complex goods, such as computers, requiring materials from around the world
The downsides of cooperation include:
(a) The use of more oil to transport goods around the world;
(b) The more rapid exhaustion of resources of all kinds around the world; and
(c) Growing wage disparity as workers from high-wage countries compete more directly with workers from low-wages countries.
​ ​These issues can be tolerated as long as the world economy is growing fast enough. As the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
​ ​In this post, I will explain what is going wrong and how Donald Trump’s actions fit in with the situation we are facing. Strangely enough, there is a physics aspect to what is happening, even though it is likely that Donald Trump and the voters who elected him would probably not recognize this. In fact, the world economy seems to be on the cusp of a shrinking-back event, with or without the tariffs. Adding tariffs is an indirect way of allowing the US to obtain a better position in the new, shrunken economy, if this is really possible.

​ ​Yet another downturn could not come at a worse time for U.S. shale drillers, who have struggled to turn a profit. Time and again, shale executives have promised that profitability is right around the corner. Years of budget-busting drilling has succeeded in bringing a tidal wave of oil online, but a corresponding wave of profits has never materialized.
​ ​Heading into 2019, the industry promised to stake out a renewed focus on capital discipline and shareholder returns. But that vow is now in danger of becoming yet another in a long line of unmet goals.
​ ​“Another quarter, another gusher of red ink.”

High Tech Can't Last; There Are Limited Essential Elements:
​ ​This long post describes the rare metals and minerals phones, laptops, cars, microchips, and other essential high-tech products civilization depends on.
​ Metals and minerals aren’t just physically limited, they can be economically limited by a financial collapse, which dries up credit and the ability to borrow for new projects to mine and crush ores. Economic collapse drives companies and even nations out of business, disrupting supply chains.
​ ​Supply chains can also be disrupted by energy shortages and natural disasters. The more complex, the more minerals, metals, and other materials, machines, chemicals, a product depends on, the greater the odds of disruption.
​ ​Minerals and metals can also be politically limited.  China controls over 90% of some critical elements.
​ ​And of course, they’re energetically limited.  Once oil begins to decline, so too will mining and all other manufacturing steps, which all depend on fossil energy.
​ ​The next war over resources is likely to be done via cyber-attacks that take down an opponent’s electric grid, which would affect nearly all of the other essential infrastructure such as agriculture; defense; energy; healthcare, banking, finance; drinking water and water treatment systems; commercial facilities; dams; emergency services; nuclear reactors, information technology; communications; postal and shipping; transportation and systems; government facilities; and critical manufacturing (NIPP)

What Would It Take to Spark a Rural/Small-Town Revival?​   Charles Hugh Smith
The decline of rural regions and small towns is a global phenomenon, and the causes are many but boil down to two primary dynamics:
1. Cities and megalopolises (aggregations of cities, suburbs and exurbs) attract capital, infrastructure, markets and talent, and these are the engines of job creation. People move to cities to find jobs...
2. Globalization has lowered the cost of agricultural commodities by exposing every locality to globally set prices (supply and demand).
​T​he relatively low cost of fuels has enabled produce from thousands of miles away to be shipped to supermarkets virtually everywhere.
These mega-trends have slashed farming incomes while costs have risen across the board. This squeeze as revenues decline and costs increase has driven even the most diligent and devoted farmers out of business...
Recent research supports the idea that this under-the-radar migration is already under way. The Rise of the Rural Creative Class (via Kevin M.) A growing body of research shows that innovative businesses are common in rural areas, and rural innovation gets a boost from the arts.
A series of studies from Tim Wojan and his colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service documents the drivers of rural innovation. Their findings draw on a variety of data sets, including a large-scale survey that compares innovation in urban and rural areas called the Rural Establishment Innovation Survey (REIS). This is based on some 11,000 business establishments with at least five paid employees in tradable industries—that is, sectors that produce goods and services that are or could be traded internationally—in rural (or non-metro) and urban (metro) areas.

​ The ​U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service documents the drivers of rural innovation. Their findings draw on a variety of data sets, including a large-scale survey that compares innovation in urban and rural areas called the Rural Establishment Innovation Survey (REIS). This is based on some 11,000 business establishments with at least five paid employees in tradable industries—that is, sectors that produce goods and services that are or could be traded internationally—in rural (or non-metro) and urban (metro) areas.
​ ​The survey divides businesses into three main groups. Roughly 30 percent of firms are substantive innovators, launching new products and services, making data-driven decisions, and creating intellectual property worth protecting...  

​ ​Wojan and company’s analysis find a strong statistical association between the arts, innovation, and economic dynamism in rural areas. And this leads them to conclude that the arts are a direct force in rural innovation, not just an indirect factor that helps to attract and retain talent.

The West's "Manufacturing War With Russia", useful context and perspective from Eleni.
​ ​In October 1993 Yeltsin, after dissolving the parliament, ordered army tanks to shell the Russian parliament building, which was being occupied by democratic protesters. The assault left 2,000 dead. Yet during his presidency Yeltsin was effusively praised and supported by Washington. This included U.S. support for a $10.2 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Russia during his 1996 re-election campaign. The loan enabled the Yeltsin government to pay huge sums in back wages and pensions to millions of Russians, with checks often arriving on the eve of the election. Also, an estimated $1.5 billion from the loan was used to directly fund the Yeltsin presidential campaign. But by the time Yeltsin was forced out of office in December 1999 his approval rating had sunk to 2%. Washington, losing Yeltsin, went in search of another malleable Russian leader and, at first, thought it had found one in Putin. ​“Putin went to Texas,” Cohen said. “He had a barbecue with Bush, second Bush. Bush said he ‘looked into his eyes and saw a good soul.’ There was this honeymoon. Why did they turn against Putin? He turned out not to be Yeltsin. We have a very interesting comment about this from Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, who wrote, I think in 2003, that his own disillusion with Putin was that he had turned out not to be ‘a sober Yeltsin.’ What Washington was hoping for was a submissive, supplicant, post-Soviet Russian leader, but one who was younger, healthier and not a drinker. They thought they had that in Putin. Yeltsin had put Putin in power, or at least the people around Yeltsin did.”
​ ​“When Putin began talking about Russia’s sovereignty, Russia’s independent course in world affairs, they’re aghast,” Cohen said of the Washington elites. “This is not what they expected. Since then, my own thinking is we were pretty lucky after the 1990s to get Putin because there were worst contenders in the wings. I knew some of them. I don’t want to name names. But some of these guys were really harsh people. Putin was kind of the right person for the right time, both for Russia and for Russian world affairs.”

More on the Multipola-world-power-contest from Eleni.
​ ​“It only happens when both countries are going into war. Cutting off oil supplies to China to some extent is equal to a declaration of war,” Beveridge told Bloomberg.
​ ​China, however, appears to be filling in its strategic petroleum reserves in recent months, as it has been boosting oil imports by 10 percent while refining output has been growing at 5 percent, according to the analyst... over the past few months China has also only sporadically bought crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States—a sharp reversal from the booming Chinese imports of American energy at this time last year. There were even some months where China purchased no U.S. crude oil at all, according to EIA data. It has also drastically reduced LNG imports from the U.S. as China has a 10-percent import tariff on American LNG—a tariff set to rise to 25 percent on June 1.
​ ​With the trade war heating up, China appears to be rallying all means and resources available to reduce the role of the U.S. in its economy and economic growth, as Beijing has lost trust in the United States both as a supplier and an export market, Jefferies Group’s Yu told Bloomberg.  

Those forever-chemicals in our food are not inert. They keep working their magic "forever". 
The cat got out of the bag early.
​ ​The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has quietly revealed some troubling information about a class of toxic chemicals that the agency found in significant levels in our food supply.
​ ​At a recent scientific conference, the FDA shared the findings of its first broad testing of food for a worrisome class of nonstick, stain-resistant industrial compounds called per- and polyfluoroalykyl substances, or PFAS.
​ ​The FDA has not made its findings public yet, but agency researchers discussed the results at a conference held by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry last week in Finland. The Environmental Defense Fund and the Environmental Working Group obtained the FDA presentation and provided it to The Associated Press.
​ ​Substantial levels of PFAS were found in grocery store meats and seafood and in off-the-shelf chocolate cake:
​ ​The levels in nearly half of the meat and fish tested were two or more times over the only currently existing federal advisory level for any kind of the widely used manmade compounds, which are called per- and polyfluoroalykyl substances, or PFAS.​..

There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to serious adverse human health effects, including cancer, reproductive harm, developmental harm, high cholesterol, damage to the immune system, hormone disruption, weight gain in children and dieting adults, and liver and kidney damage.

Children Also Affected

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Look At This


It may seem odd that I am putting an article about MMT, Modern Monetary Theory at the top of the stack, but it is not a "thing" in itself. 
It is a lens through which one may see the workings of power in a country/society, and what choices the society makes, and what the limits to those choices actually are. This is a discussion we are entering, out of necessity, yet again...
​ ​Finally, despite showing that currency-issuing governments don’t face a financial constraint, MMT doesn’t claim that a nation faces no spending constraints whatsoever; rather, it shows that the real constraints faced by governments are the real resources (plants, machines, workers, etc.) available to the nation either locally or through trade. It follows that the real limit to government spending is the capacity of the economy to absorb it without generating runaway inflation...
 In fact, MMT is not a regime that you ‘apply’ or ‘switch to’ or ‘introduce’. Rather, it is a lens which allows us to see how our fiat monetary systems already work. How you decide to use that understanding depends on the value system or ideology you apply to it. It thus makes little sense to talk of ‘MMT-type prescription’ or an ‘MMT solution’. Indeed, governments already operate according to the framework offered by MMT, regardless of what they may claim in public (and the accounting smokescreens they may employ).
​ ​Citizens are constantly told that the government cannot afford to invest more in education, healthcare, infrastructure, welfare and other public services. Yet, there is never a lack of money when it comes tax cuts for the rich, bank bailouts, military activities and other programmes that benefit our political and economic elites. As of March 2006, approximately £4.5 billion had been spent by the UK in Iraq, enough to pay for the building of around 44 new hospitals and to fund the recruitment and retention of over 10,300 new teachers for ten years. Yet, there was never any debate about how the UK would ‘fund’ the war.​..

 But if there is a need to attenuate spending growth in the economy, MMT demonstrates the superiority of an employment buffer stock approach–the Job Guarantee–over the current unemployment buffer stock approach to inflation control. Instead of creating unemployment to discipline wage demands, MMT proponents advocate that the government would, instead, offer a public sector job at a socially- inclusive minimum wage to anyone who seeks to work. Redistributing labour from the inflating sector to the fixed price sector would ensure price stability and avoid costly mass unemployment.​..
 In the presence of an external deficit, the government will have to run a fiscal deficit to maintain spending sufficient to keep all resources fully employed. Since Britain has run an external deficit since the 1970s, and is not likely to generate large external surpluses in the foreseeable future, it follows that the only way private debt–and the power of financial institutions over society–can be brought under control without driving the economy into recession is for the government to run persistent and substantial fiscal deficits.​..
 The support of mainstream economists and financial operators for certain theories and policies doesn’t stem from a sincere belief in their virtue, but from the fact that they promote the interests of the dominant forces in society. The idea that a socialist government could guarantee itself the support of the economic establishment simply by adhering to the ideological framework that its members claim to believe in, with the aim of deploying mainstream theories and policies for progressive ends, is naïve.
​ ​Moreover, Meadway neglects the fact that the power of the capitalist establishment derives as much from its command of the state and means of production as it does from its capacity to frame the narrative. The primacy of these fiscal rules is a key part of the way in which the economic establishment censures governments that might be intent on redistributing national income or improving welfare services and the like.
 Ultimately, the ideology of scarcity of money is integral to the maintenance of our deeply unequal relations of power in society. If there’s anything the establishment fears more than the working classes seizing the means of production, it’s the working classes seizing the means of production of money (or more precisely, of currency)​..​
  MMT gives us the power to imagine truly transformational politics, without getting caught up in meaningless debates about whether we can ‘afford’ it or not. This is also why it is being attacked so fiercely. Not because of its theoretical foundations, but because of the range of economic and political possibilities that it opens up. The bottom line, however, is that MMT is here to stay.  

​These mules can't pull the economic wagon, and they are giving up.
The net worth of millennials (18- to 35-year-old) has collapsed 34% since 1996, according to a new, shocking report from Deloitte.
 Millennials are financially worse off than any other generation before them. With student loans, auto and credit card debts, rising rents, and out of control, health-care costs have pushed their average net worth below $8,000.  

​The current monetarist capitalist framework pumps "money" into anything that can hold it, which amplifies the current system of wealth-distribution. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This has become a very sick structure, and these sick structures ultimately collapse, because of reality.​ When the structure collapses, nobody is rich, because the economy does not function. This is monetarist analysis...
Hey, look! It ends up in the same place.
​  ​Rickards: Going back to the 1929-1937 period, the old rule was to prick bubbles to relieve speculative pressures. But, this ended up causing recessions rather than preventing them. By the 1998 - 2001 period, the conventional wisdom was to let bubbles run their course and then clean up the mess afterwards.  But the Fed has failed to distinguish between credit driven bubbles and mania driven bubbles.  The former are dangerous because they are connected with the credit system, the latter less so because people loose money but the crisis is not systemic. The 2000 bubble was speculative, but not credit driven so it did not turn into a systemic crisis when it popped.  Of course 2008 was credit driven and it did metastasize throughout the system right up to the top of the food chain with large banks and the housing GSEs failing.  When you are kicking around the idea of should I or should I not pop the bubble, this is a key distinction and the threshold question for policy. You should pop or defuse credit driven bubbles, but perhaps let speculative bubbles (most recently Bitcoin) run their course. The problem is that Fed policymakers do not seem to grasp this fundamental distinction. This leads to credit bubbles being allowed to spin out of control into systemic crises.​..
 Rickards: That is a profound question you raise about the impact of monetary policy on visible credit metrics. The answer very simply is that you can’t get out. It's one thing when loose monetary policy results in private credit extremes. The Fed can reign that in. But, what happens when public credit from the Fed is the source of the problem?  The Bernanke choice of stoking asset price inflation via zero rates and QE is not something that can be reversed without a great deal of pain.  Once you make that trade-off between promoting inflation and future market instability, you have no way out.  You’re much better off taking the pain and accepting a lower level of economic growth in the short-run rather than deferring the pain but creating far larger asset bubbles down the road.  There is no way out of the Bernanke policy choice without bigger bubbles and much larger market crash that results.  This is why I believe that we face a financial market crash as bad or worse than 1929 or 2008.​..
​  Rickards:  When all of the solutions from Washington and all of the big ideas about economic growth fail, then we may need to fall back on a community based, semi-agrarian model that resembles austerity in today’s terms. Such a model is far more stable than the radical boom and bust model of Greenspan and Bernanke. 
​  ​Rickards:  We need to move beyond ideology and towards a more pragmatic discussion about how we measure and describe growth. Let’s do what works.  

​Pepe Escobar covers (leaked rumors of) the recent Biderberg meeting of 130(ish) global power elites in Switzerland.
The major issue discussed this year was “A Stable Strategic Order”, a lofty endeavor that can be interpreted either as the making of a New World Order or just a benign effort by selfless elites to guide mankind to enlightenment...
The Greens who won in Europe – contrary to the US Greens – are all humanitarian imperialists, to quote the splendid neologism coined by Belgian physicist Jean Bricmont. And they all pray on the politically correct altar. What matters, from Bilderberg’s perspective, is that the European Parliament will continue to be run by a pseudo-Left that keeps defending the destruction of the nation-state.
Just like Castries and his pupil Macron.
 The great Bilderberg secret of 2019 had to do with why, suddenly, the Trump administration has decided that it wants to talk to Iran “with no preconditions”.
It all has to do with the Strait of Hormuz. Blocking the Strait could cut off oil and gas from Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran – 20% of the world’s oil...
  An American source said a series of studies hit President Trump’s desk and caused panic in Washington. These showed that in the case of the Strait of Hormuz being shut down, whatever the reason, Iran has the power to hammer the world financial system, by causing global trade in derivatives to be blown apart...
 Tehran has not voiced this “nuclear option” openly. And yet General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force and a Pentagon bête noire, evoked it in internal Iranian discussions. The information was duly circulated to France, Britain and Germany, the EU-3 members of the Iran nuclear deal (or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), also causing a panic.
 Oil derivative specialists know well that if the flow of energy in the Gulf is blocked it could lead to the price of oil reaching $200 a barrel, or much higher over an extended period. Crashing the derivatives market would create an unprecedented global depression...
 And that brings us to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s long, non-scheduled stop in Switzerland, on the Bilderberg’s fringes, just because he’s a “big cheese and chocolate fan”...
 After weeks of ominous threats to Iran, the US said “no preconditions” would be set on talks with Tehran, and this was issued from Swiss soil...
 Henry Kissinger was a 2019 Bilderberg participant. Rumors that he spent all his time breathlessly plugging his “reverse Nixon” – seduce Russia to contain China – may be vastly overstated. 

 Long-term, intense economic competition between China and the United States is inevitable. It’s simply a result of China’s new economic size. It’s about wealth and power, not political systems or ideology. Forget these two countries per se.

​Russia is acutely aware of the international power structure, and has always been wary of her huge neighbor, China, but Russia does what she must do each day... [I believe Russia's long term interests align with the US, but not global elites running our show.]
Just one month after conducting joint military exercises, Russia and China are set to sign an agreement which would boost the use of their national currencies in bilateral and international trade in an attempt to move away from the current dollar-denominated financial system, according to Russian state-owned news outlet TASS.

​Chinese traditional farming is extremely sophisticated. It allowed China to have an empire for 5000 years. Those farmers have been pulled out to work in factories and pour concrete, a one-time extraction of human wealth. The US already spent it's farmers long ago. Global Food War:
Beijing warns US farmers may lose China market for good, but plays down tariffs impact at home
Han Jun, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, says Chinese farmers can export products to non-US markets to weather impact of trade war
Country will also be able to source enough soybeans to meet domestic demand
Farmers in the United States cannot afford to lose the Chinese market, but farmers in China will be able to withstand the impact of American tariffs, according to a top agriculture official in Beijing.

​US farm output will be hugely down this year, and US farmers will need a lot of help, anyway. 
Loss of exports to China to feed pigs may not hurt the American factory-agricultural sector​ much this year.
 According to the latest May 20 report of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the US Department of Agriculture, corn and soybean crops are well behind the planting growth levels normal this time of the planting season. They report that only 49% of all planned corn acreage in the US has been planted compared with 78% at this time a year ago. Of that only 19% has yet emerged from the ground compared to 47% in May 2018. In terms of soybeans, barely 19% of crops have yet been planted compared with 53% a year before. Rice acreage planted is down to 73% compared to 92% a year ago in the six US rice-growing states. Of course, should weather dramatically improve the final harvest numbers could improve. It is simply too early to predict.
 The USA is by a wide margin the world largest soybean producer with 34 percent of the world’s soybean production and 42% of world exports prior to the China trade battles. The US is also the world largest corn or maize producer, almost double China, the number two. A serious harvest failure in these two crops could significantly affect world food prices, leaving aside the unfortunate fact that almost all US soybeans and corn are GMO crops. They are mainly used in animal feed.

Donald Trump Is The most Honest US President Of All Time, Caitlin Johnstone:​
 To be clear, I am not saying that Trump actually tells the truth with his words; he obviously does not. Trump is so comfortable with lying that he once tweeted the claim that he’d never urged House Republicans to vote for a particular immigration bill, three days after posting a tweet explicitly urging House Republicans to vote for that bill. He left both tweets up. I mean, that’s like one click away from literally looking someone in the eye while urinating on their leg and telling them it must be the rain.
 No, when I say that Trump is the most honest US president of all time, what I mean is that he has a unique gift for exposing the face of the empire for exactly what it is, in all its depravity, all its deceitfulness, all its corruption, and in this case, all its jaw-dropping ridiculousness. I mean, look at this photo:
​ ​Obama could have made this look normal. Bush would have looked a little bit goofy, but nothing that would make you spit your coffee on your screen. Hell, Bill Clinton would have looked downright at home, like he was born in Buckingham Palace and spent his whole life sipping champagne and groping the maids while he waited for this photo to be taken. It took the badly-dressed awkward posture and golf bod of a reality TV star who became president via 4chan prank to expose that whole absurd royalty display for the risible self-parody that it deserves to be seen as...
​ ​His whole cabinet is basically human versions of the departments they represent. His Secretary Treasurer was a Goldman Sachs executive. His CIA Director literally tortured people. His National Security Advisor is an Iraq-raping Bush-era neocon. His Secretary of Commerce is a former Rothschild executive. His EPA Administrator is a former coal lobbyist. His Secretary of State came straight out of the CIA. It’s like he designed a convenient labeling system for everyone who’s unsure of what it is that each department in the executive branch of the US government actually does.

Kushner: Palestinians not yet capable of governing themselves
​I am certain that Senator Elizabeth Warren understands Modern Monetary Theory (which does not mean that she groks everything.).​
​ ​Warren’s latest plan is in a class by itself, even for Warren. She calls it an Agenda for Economic Patriotism.
​ ​Warren’s proposal does nothing less than turn inside out the globalist assumptions pursued by the past several administrations, Democrat and Republican alike. Where they have pursued more globalization of commerce as an end in itself (and as a profit center for U.S.-based multinational corporations and banks), Warren’s goal is to bring production and good jobs home.
​ ​Even better, she knits it all together with a coherent plan, beginning with a new Department of Economic Development “with the sole responsibility to create and defend quality, sustainable American jobs.”​ ...
​ Even better(er)​, Warren shows up Donald Trump on the question of trade. While Trump’s version of economic nationalism is all swagger, symbol, and shotgun retaliation. Warren’s would actually deliver tangible benefits for the voters who turned in desperation to Trump. By contrast, Trump’s version delivers nothing.

Those packing peanuts made of rice are edible. Rats can live in a box with them for a long time. Can we employ that knowledge somehow?
​ ​The average person eats at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and breathes in a similar quantity, according to the first study to estimate human ingestion of plastic pollution.
​ ​The true number is likely to be many times higher, as only a small number of foods and drinks have been analysed for plastic contamination. The scientists reported that drinking a lot of bottled water drastically increased the particles consumed.

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