Monday, April 3, 2017

Partisan Death Race

Optimizing Drownings,

"The Italian navy used to run patrols near the Libyan coast. Their operation, called Mare Nostrum — “our sea” in Latin — involved a large mobilization of ships, planes, and helicopters in international waters close to Libya, where boats carrying refugees regularly capsized and sank. Mare Nostrum was enormously successful — in the year it ran, it saved over 150,000 people... Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, took over with an operation called Triton... Since 2014, the European Union has deliberately chosen to keep their coast guard patrol boats far from where the shipwrecks happen, a decision detailed in an internal letter obtained by The Intercept and other leaked documents. Saving more lives, the logic goes, will only encourage more refugees to come. The result is that rescue boats are kept away from where rescues are actually needed... An average of 3,500 people have died each year while trying to make the journey to Italy from North Africa since 2014."

"The European Union on Friday offered Spain a right of veto over the future relationship between Gibraltar and the EU after Britain leaves the bloc." 
"Ruh-Roh" This little appendix hanging off the south tip of Spain, looking at Morocco, and standing sentry over the only way in and out of the Mediterranean (until Suez Canal) has been a bone of contention since the British Empire wrested it from the Spanish Empire in 1713, with the Treaty of Utrechet (not the EU "Treaty of Utrecht"). The EU can do divide-and-conquer on the UK, just as UK seeks to play the same game in the EU. Spain now supports Scottish independence and Scottish EU membership. Spain has it's own separatist worries withBasque and Catalan movements, which have held it's support of separatist movements until now, but THIS is DIFFERENT!

Fallon, the Defence Secretary, suggetsed that Britain is ready to go to war to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar. He vowed to go “all the way” to protect the territory.

Yanis Varoufakis, who had some unpleasantly enlightening experience negotiating with the EU, offers Theresa May advice in her exit negotiations. She was right to take hard-Brexit as the baseline, since it cannot be used as a threat. He details that he found EU negotiators NOT to negotiate in the best interests of the EU, but each for hidden personal agendas, making a utilitarian solution very unlikely. He advises Britain to close off the EU options and play a long game, by calling for a pay-to-participate arrangement, which Norway has. He says the EU "cannot refuse" this request. (This would certainly be practical, since the current EU budget runs almost 2 years beyond the Brexit date, and the UK is a net contributor to that budget. Nobody else can take up that slack...)

The Turkish economy is tanking, Turkish Lira tanking, unemployment up, political arrests of businessmen are following after political arrests of military, civil service and educators. Outside investors are totally spooked and Turkey may default on well over $270 billion of (non-Lira) debt, largely held by sick and nervous European banks, like Spain's ($87 billion). Erdogan's imperial-presidency vote comes up April 16, and he seemed to have the votes when the economy was better, but not now... (Backed into a corner. What will he pull next week?)

The Turkish army, pretty much completely loyal to Erdogan, has become an incompetent meat-grinder for Turkish soldiers, since the officer corps got politically purged last year, following a decade of political purges. The US, Russia, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have marginalized Turkish forces, so they've had to declare "success", if not victory, and are either camping-out or withdrawing home.

"How North Korea Could Kill 90% of Americans", Ambassador R. James Woolsey was the Director of Central Intelligence from 1993-95. Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission, served in the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA. 
"A single warhead delivered by North Korean satellite could blackout the national electric grid and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures for over a year—killing 9 of 10 Americans by starvation and societal collapse." 
[Oh, very bad. This smells like justification for preemptive nuclear war!]

Bernie Sanders is not dead yet. “Medicare-for-all,” single-payer health insurance system for all Americans would be fulfilling the dream of those who created the Medicare system in the first place in 1965.

(Heh, heh, heh...) "Without a viable health care agenda of their own, Republicans now face a choice between two options: Obamacare and a gradual shift toward a single-payer system. The early signs suggest they will choose single payer." 
The way health-insurance laws have been wrangled out over the decades leaves socialism-in-medicine, Medicare and Medicaid, well-defended from political attack. 
Cutting out the fines-if-uninsured by the IRS, which has been done in practice now, kills the insurance companies. Obamacare is poison to them without forced conscription of young, healthy workers. 
The ratchet-effect will tend to expand Medicaid and Medicare at the margins. 
Most Americans like Medicare, and it is as effective a health plan as can be found in the US (faint praise...) 
What's a politician to do when popularity starts to sag?

Reagan's OMB Director, David Stockman explains why Trump can't cut taxes, and can't do other nice things he's promised, because the US is already entering a debt crisis. That's why the Fed is raising interest rates with a lame economy and a few cherry picked and manipulated statistics, forced to get off zero before "it" hits the fan.

"Obama's National Security Advisor Susan Rice was the official responsible for the 'unmasking' of the incoming Trump team during 'incidental' surveillance... Also of note is the claim that New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman has been sitting on the Susan Rice story for at least two days." (Trump is Hitler. Trump loves Putin. Trump is racist. Trump is sexist. Trump is uncouth. Trump lies...)

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