Monday, October 22, 2018

To The Edge


It’s not that Putin’s stance was any different than in the past. Russia will strike back at an aggressor under any circumstance where the future of Russia is at stake.  It was his assurance that in doing so 1) it would be just and righteous “dying like martyrs” and 2) so swift and brutal the aggressors would “die like dogs” bereft of the chance to ask for salvation...
 It is really no different than the attitude of Secretary of State James Mattis who said, “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f$*k with me, I’ll kill you all.”
Men like this are not to be tested too hard.  And Putin’s response to the shooting down of the IL-20 plane and its crew was to cross a bunch of diplomatic lines by handing out S-300s to Syria and erecting a de facto no-fly zone over Western Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean... Putin sees himself, quite rightly, as the custodian of the Russian people and, as such, the Russian state as the reflection of Russian culture.  If you are going to have a state and someone is going to be the head of it, this is the attitude that you want from that person...
Putin knows where Trump is.  He was there himself seventeen years ago, except an order of magnitude worse.  The problems Trump is facing are the same problems Putin faced, corruption, venality, treason all contributing to a collapse in societal and cultural institutions.
Putin knows the U.S. is at a crossroads, and he’s made his peace with whatever comes next.  The question is have we?

The INF treaty signed in 1987 between the USSR and the United States eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The historic accord marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to eliminate an entire category of nuclear arms and introduce on-site inspections for verification. The deal brought much-needed detente to an atmosphere of tense Cold War stand-off, and allowed Europe, which housed much of the American arsenal, to breathe a sigh of relief.
The deal didn’t affect aircraft- and sea-based missiles, an area where the US had a clear strategic advantage at the time, so it was widely seen as a gesture of good will by the USSR at a cost to its own national security. Another significant problem with the INF treaty was that other nuclear-armed nations were never party to it – including US allies France and the UK, as well as China.​..​
Russia has vowed to observe the INF treaty as long as the US does. However, should Washington choose to pull out like it did from the ABM deal, President Vladimir Putin said:
“Russia’s response would be immediate and mirror-like.”

A no-fly zone on both sides of the Korean DMZ is suggested as a confidence building measure. [It mainly improves the security of North Korea, which is threatened again and again by American bombers flying close, especially nuclear-capable bombers.]

US and South Korean militaries announce that they will not carry out December war games, to "give peace a chance".

​Can we hear the tapes now, guys? This is a whole lot of specific information already, and some people say Turkey is making it up.​ 
(Erdogan wants the Ottoman Empire reconstituted, and for that, he will have to be "Guardian of Mecca and Medina". 
He is proving the House of Saud unworthy to guard "the two holy places"..)
In the latest bombshell report involving the Khashoggi murder, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly spoke on the phone with journalist Jamal Khashoggi moments before he was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Safak disclosed the new alleged details of the case in a report on Sunday, contradicting claims by Saudi authorities that Prince Mohammed played no part in Khashoggi's murde​ ​r.
"Khashoggi was detained by the Saudi team inside the consulate building. Then Prince Mohammed contacted Khashoggi by phone and tried to convince him to return to Riyadh," the report said.
"Khashoggi refused Prince Mohammed's offer out of fear he would be arrested and killed if he returned. The assassination team then killed Khashoggi after the conversation ended," it added.

In a phone call with President Donald Trump, the Turkish leader emphasized the need to disclose all circumstances of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death. Earlier Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to make an “important statement” soon.
“We seek justice and this will be revealed in all its naked truth, not through some ordinary steps but in all its naked truth. This is not an ordinary case. I will make statements on Tuesday at the AK Party parliamentary group meeting,”Erdogan said on Sunday afternoon, as cited by the Sabah newspaper.
“The incident will be revealed entirely,” he emphasized.  
[Well, ok, if you say so. We can wait a couple more days.]

​MbS doesn't let any of the other princes talk to his dad, King Salman. None of them. They're scheming to stab him in the back, after all.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been appointed to head a ministerial committee tasked with restructuring the General Intelligence Agency, after its deputy director was sacked amid the Khashoggi death scandal.
The decision to appoint MbS to head the restructuring process came after King Salman issued a decree firing the agency's vice president, Ahmed bin Hassan bin Mohammed Asiri. The King has also issued orders to terminate some officers and appoint new ones within the primary intelligence agency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

​​Jordan announced a bombshell on Sunday in relation to its peace treaty with Israel, stating it would not renew a 25-year lease of two tracts of territory along its border which is set for renewal on Thursday.
Under the 1994 historic treaty brokered under Bill Clinton, Israel retained private land ownership and special travel rights in Baquora — called Naharayim by the Israelis — in the northwestern part of the kingdom, and Ghumar — or Zofar in Hebrew — in the south. Part of the agreement signed at the White House in which Jordan became only the second Arab country after Egypt to make peace with Israel was that Jordan would lease sovereign Jordanian land to Israel.
But after sizable protests last Friday in Amman involving marchers demanding that Jordan reclaim full sovereignty over the territory, King Abdullah announced the cancellation of this part of the treaty, saying an official message has been relayed to Israel on the matter.
“Baqoura and Ghumar were at the top of our priorities,” King Abdullah tweeted via his official account. “Our decision is to terminate the Baquoura and Ghamar annexes from the peace treaty out of our keenness to take all decisions that would serve Jordan and Jordanians."
Both sites, which Israel had leased and utilized primarily for agriculture and considers key strategic security points, are located on the Jordan-Israel border. Israel is expected to attempt to retain lease rights to the land as strategic locations essential to its border security...
Currently, there are dozens of Israeli farmers and their families living on the strips of land Jordan has said it will repossess when the treaty fails to be renewed on Thursday...  
The Israeli official further called in "inconceivable" that the territories would be given up by Israel: "The agricultural areas in the Zofar enclave are very significant for the security of the region, the state, for livelihoods and agriculture in the central Arava. It is inconceivable that after so many years, the world order will change. I call upon the prime minister of Israel to solve this crisis immediately," he said.  

​Italy and the ECB are ramping up into war. The Euro, as constituted, cannot last, but Any country that fights the ECB can be made to suffer.
Since the ECB is the only marginal buyer of Italian debt, which has been the case for more than a year now, any sharp rise in bond yields is a result of the ECB simply backing off that buying and market forces taking over.
This is the ECB’s biggest weapon. It will try to scare everyone by allowing Italy’s fiscal position to erode quickly making it impossible for them to issue debt at sustainable yields. But, it does so at the expense of the value of the bonds it and other European banks already hold. Because they are dropping in value, undercutting the solvency of those banks.
If the Italian leadership holds the line and refuse to back down, then they call the ECB’s bluff on allowing rates to rise. The ECB has to come back in, begin buying to support the price, and the regroup for the next battle.

This week in a CNBC interview Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the former Dutch minister of finance who served as the President of the Eurogroup, declared war on the Italian government. The European financial establishment is prepared to destroy the banking system and cause the Italian economy to implode. Like a Mafia boss, Dijsselbloem warned that Italy could run into trouble if it does not comply with Brussels’ directives. Of course, his statement was cloaked in diplomatic language:
“If the Italian crisis becomes a major crisis, it will mainly implode into the Italian economy … as opposed to spreading around Europe,” he said. “Because of the way that the Italian economy and the Italian banks are financed, it’s going to be an implosion rather than an explosion.”​  
[Yeah, sure, just Italy. will get hurt.]​

​"Sears didn't die. Vulture Capitalists killed it." 
Actually, that is exactly the case. Standard business model since Michael Milken worked out how to do "leveraged buy outs" of a company, sell all it's stuff, then rent the stuff back to it, while lending it a lot of money, until it chokes in debt, and the vultures have all the nice money and assets that it earned and saved it's whole life.​

Electricity is the power source that is most critical for industrial civilization. Vanadium based flow batteries may be what can buffer the production of wind and solar electricity enough to support industrial civilization. The oil will be needed for other things, and the coal to make cement...

Think, as I did, about why we do not change as a species, or as groups at various levels of size and complexity. Whoever uses less resources and fuel right now, gets buried by whoever uses more right now. That is the current growth based system, until it collapses. Short term defeats long term, then dies.
If we were indeed paying attention, what would we do differently? We would make sustainability—real sustainability, not just eco-groovy gestures—our first priority. Conserve and reuse non-renewable resources. Use renewable resources only up to their regrowth rates. Protect natural systems from pollution. Conserve biodiversity. We would aim for a truly circular and regenerative economy. If it turned out that the economy were just too big to operate within those guidelines, we would shrink it (taking some time to identify ways that cause the least harm and create the greatest benefit, and ensuring that those who have gained least from our centuries-long growth bonanza get an equitable share of our reduced budget). And if the human population were too big, we would shrink that too (again, taking time to minimize bads and maximize goods).  

​Cooperating With Weasels​

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