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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Pick New Teams

Draft Choices,

Charles Hugh Smith looks at the change in Western political dynamics since 1968, when French workers and French students united in a strike, that came a hair short of revolution, and the government changed, in response. The students, and employed graduates of higher education, have since been split from actual workers, and unions have been co-opted at the top, by power elites. They are hip, and sensitive, and get paid more.
I don't see the yellow vest uprising as idealistically fueled; it's fueled by desperation and what Francis Fukuyama termed the working classes' "perception of invisibility" in a recent essay (Against Identity Politics (Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct. 2018), a view echoed by French geographer / author Christophe Guilluy who said that "the French people are using the gilets jaunes to say we exist." ...
 One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later."

This is USA Today, really, USA Today...
What’s happening in America is an echo of what’s happening in democracies around the world, and it’s not happening because of Trump.To understand events around the world today, one must think in terms of the class struggle.

"A New Cold War Has Begun"
In June 2005, I published a cover story in the Atlantic, “How We Would Fight China.” I wrote that, “The American military contest with China … will define the twenty-first century. And China will be a more formidable adversary than Russia ever was.” I went on to explain that the wars of the future would be naval, with all of their abstract battle systems, even though dirty counterinsurgency fights were all the rage 14 years ago.
That future has arrived, and it is nothing less than a new cold war: The constant, interminable Chinese computer hacks of American warships’ maintenance records, Pentagon personnel records, and so forth constitute war by other means. This situation will last decades and will only get worse, whatever this or that trade deal is struck between smiling Chinese and American presidents in a photo-op that sends financial markets momentarily skyward. The new cold war is permanent because of a host of factors that generals and strategists understand but that many, especially those in the business and financial community who populate Davos, still prefer to deny.

​Moon of Alabama has Syria update:​
Turkey moved enough troops to its border to launch an invasion but the risk for its economy is high. There are local elections in March and the Turkish President Erdogan does not want to upset them by jumping into a quagmire. Erdogan will soon visit Russia again and discuss the issue with President Putin. Most likely Erdogan will be convinced that Syrian government control over the Kurdish areas, and Russian guarantees for a mostly quiet border, are a better solution than a costly Turkish occupation of a hostile population.
Earlier today a suicide bomber killed 4 U.S. soldiers and wounded at least three in an attack in Manbij city (video). A number of YPK/PKK fighters and bystanders were also killed or wounded. The incident happened in front of a restaurant where the U.S. troops presumably were meeting someone.​..
The Islamic State took credit through its regular outlets and even named the suicide bomber.
The killed and wounded U.S. troops were evacuated in a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter. The S-92 is not flown by U.S., French or British forces in Syria. The armed helicopter is likely owned and operated​ ​by a private military company hired by the U.S. military for MedEvac services. This again proves that official U.S. numbers of 2,000 soldiers in northeast Syria do not paint the full picture. There are surely several thousands more, including more than 1,000 French troops, 200 British SAS and several hundreds if not thousands of U.S. contractors who are also involved in combat missions​...
Those U.S. politicians who want to continue the U.S. occupation in Syria will use the Manbij incident to argue for an unlimited U.S. stay. ISIS would have won. Those who, like Trump, want the U.S. out will use the incident to argue for an urgent retreat from the area.
Trump is likely to win that argument.

Syria’s government has never stopped dialogue with the Kurds who are full-fledged citizens of the country and an integral part of the nation, Syrian Assistant Foreign and Expatriates Minister Ayman Sousan said on Sunday.
He said that contacts with the Kurds have intensified in the recent time "in the face of aggressive and expansionist threats from Turkey."
"The current situation requires consolidation of all Syrians to defend national sovereignty. That is why dialogue with the Kurds is necessary and useful," he stressed, adding that the Kurdish statements are positive concerning their support to Syria’s unity.
http://tass.com/world/1039676

​Israel continues military attacks against Syria, careful to stand off and avoid Israeli pilots getting shot down. Israel states that this will continue.

This is the kind of political negotiation that is holding up the federal budget, not the wall. Elite power factions are poised to go into full legal battle mode against each other. So far it a been one-sided against the Trump side, with little ammunition, but lots of soldiers. The Trump side has lots of ammunition...
In what Judicial Watch describes as a "major victory for accountability," a federal judge ruled Tuesday that former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes must answer written questions about the State Department's response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, as part of an ongoing legal battle over whether Hillary Clinton sought to deliberately evade public record laws by using a private email server while secretary of state.  As Fox News' Samuel Chamberlain reports, the judge's order amounts to approval of a discovery plan he ordered last month. In that ruling, Lamberth wrote that Clinton's use of a private email account was "one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency" and said the response of the State and Justice Departments "smacks of outrageous misconduct."​  ​Judicial Watch announced last night that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials - including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap - will now have to answer Judicial Watch’s written questions under oath.

The Justice Department was fully aware that the notorious Steele Dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton and might be biased - a crucial detail which was omitted just weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant used to spy on the Trump campaign, reports John Solomon of The Hill.   According to Solomon's sources - which have proven impeccable, the former #4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official, Bruce Ohr - who had extensive contact with Steele, briefed "both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele's Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative's work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton's campaign and might be biased."
Ohr’s activities, chronicled in handwritten notes and congressional testimony I gleaned from sources, provide the most damning evidence to date that FBI and DOJ officials may have misled federal judges in October 2016 in their zeal to obtain the warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page just weeks before Election Day. -The Hill


​The New York Times posts a piece by a couple of rookies, taking the position that US Presidents can't talk to Russians, because it is against "our" foreign policy. They leave out mention of all the presidents in my lifetime who did, and got good results. David Stockman has the story.
At the end of the day, there is no other way to say it. The Goldman/Schmidt/Fandos types of the present era are not journalists at all; they are lazy, intellectually corrupted, mendacious stenographers of Imperial Washington's oppressive group think.​..
 In the old days, journalists often had the integrity and summoned the courage to speak truth to power. By contrast, the trio of sanctimonious brats pictured above were too lazy, stupid or mendacious to even connect the dots. That is, this ballyhooed counter-intelligence investigation was launched the very next day after Comey was fired by two of the most compromised people in the entire Obama Administration posse of anti-Trump election meddlers--if not criminals—led by former CIA director John Brennan.

This essay looks at the migration of neocons to the left, the not-Trump side, which is now the pro-war-left. Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard is in a position without political support outside of her home state, Hawaii. This American Conservative article is actually the most even handed reporting I've found.
In the meantime, as the hawks have migrated to the Left, the doves have migrated to the Right. According to that same Politico/Morning Consult poll, 73 percent of Republicans support getting out of Syria: that’s a whopping 44 points more than the Democrats. And 76 percent of Republicans endorse reducing our footprint in Afghanistan.​..
  In the meantime, Gabbard is undeniably progressive on most issues. For instance, in 2017, long before Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal was a thing, Gabbard introduced legislation to eliminate fossil fuels by 2035.
In these times, of course, nobody’s crystal ball is working well. And yet it does seem fair to say this much: if Gabbard could somehow win the 2020 Democratic nomination, she’d likely be formidable in the November election. That is, she’s a woman, she’s “diverse”—she was the first Hindu elected to Congress—and she’s a combat veteran with a no-nonsense attitude toward terrorism. And yes, she’s pro-peace. These days, among Americans overall, that’s a winning hand.


​Rather than picking sides on these "fightin' words", look at the fact that the US Constitution has been effectively annulled and bypassed, allowing the running of the "Empire" which O'Rourke describes.​ 
 O’Rourke boomeranged between a bright-eyed hope that the United States will soon dramatically change its approach to a whole host of issues and a dismal suspicion that the country is now incapable of implementing sweeping change.
When asked which it is, O’Rourke paused.
“I’m hesitant to answer it because I really feel like it deserves its due, and I don’t want to give you a — actually, just selfishly, I don’t want a sound bite of it reported, but, yeah, I think that’s the question of the moment: Does this still work?” O’Rourke said. “Can an empire like ours with military presence in over 170 countries around the globe, with trading relationships…and security agreements in every continent, can it still be managed by the same principles that were set down 230-plus years ago?”

​The already faded British empire has not got a clear course on Brexit yet. EU countries have invested in their no-deal contingencies, and it is expensive, and they will expect to extract the costs from the UK...

With (almost) 10 weeks until the end of March, and no-confidence in the worse-than-nothing deal Theresa May negotiated with the EU, it seems that the 2 real options are: 1) Indefinite delay of Brexit, and 2) No-Deal crash-out Brexit. There is gridlock in London. No way out for Theresa May.
Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not hold talks with Theresa May until the prime minister agrees to remove the threat of a no-deal Brexit, ruling out any meeting with the prime minister in the immediate aftermath of the no-confidence vote.
Responding to May’s offer of swift talks to break the Brexit impasse, the Labour leader told MPs that before he would entertain “positive discussions about the way forward” she had to agree to his precondition.
“The government must remove clearly once and for all the catastrophe of a no-deal exit from the European Union and all the chaos that would result from that,” Corbyn said minutes after the opposition party was defeated in the confidence vote.
Minutes after the exchanges in the Commons, with Downing Street refusing to take no deal off the table, Corbyn’s spokesman said that as things stood, the Labour leader would not take up May’s offer of an evening Brexit meeting.

​California's largest Utility just filed for Bankruptcy, Hello Climate Change!​ 
(It seems that PG&Es lines got overheated by excessive electrical demand overloading the lines, and they caught a lot of forests on fire, that had gotten too overgrown in recent years, since nobody could agree on how to prevent that.)
https://www.vox.com/2019/1/14/18182162/pg-e-camp-fire-bankruptcy

​The WHO investigation found glyphosate to be a dangerous carcinogen. 
The EU study found that it was just fine. It turns out that they used different sources.​ 
The EU investigators just copied and pasted some papers they got from Monsanto.
The study found plagiarism in 50.1% of the chapters assessing published studies on health risks – including whole paragraphs and entire pages of text.
The European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), based its recommendation that glyphosate was safe for public use on the BfR’s assessment.

​No birds, because no bugs. Why worry?
“We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” said Brad Lister. “We were driving into the forest and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.”
His return to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico after 35 years was to reveal an appalling discovery. The insect population that once provided plentiful food for birds throughout the mountainous national park had collapsed. On the ground, 98% had gone. Up in the leafy canopy, 80% had vanished.

​This is actually a big deal, this many humans coordinating in action, and for good, not destruction. Thanks Cat.
On Jan. 1, 5.5 million women in the Indian state of Kerala (population 35 million) built a 386-mile wall with their bodies. They stood from one end to the other of this long state in southwestern India. The women gathered at 4 p.m. and took a vow to defend the renaissance traditions of their state and to work towards women’s empowerment.​.. 5.5 million women in Kerala — one in three women in the state — took to the streets to champion the emancipation of women. What brought them to join the Women’s Wall was that the Left Democratic Front government took a clear position, a principled position: that menstruation should not be used as a penalty against women’s full participation in society. Clarity defines the struggle. It is a lesson worth learning around the world.

​Undivided​

Monday, January 14, 2019

Forking Roads

Of Two Minds,

President Trump has announced the withdrawal of US combat troops from the « Greater Middle East », but the Pentagon is still pursuing the implementation of the Rumsfeld-Cebrowski plan. This time the aim is to destroy the States of the « Caribbean Basin ». This is nothing like the overthrow of pro-Soviet regimes, as in the 1970’s, but the destruction of all regional State structures, without consideration for friends or political enemies. Thierry Meyssan observes the preparations for this new series of wars.  ​(Thanks Eleni)​

Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaiian Congresswoman, Iraq War veteran, and US army Reserve Major, answers a question "Yes", she will run for president in 2020. 
The stories I have seen (like this one) all imply she is unpatriotic, unstable in her politics, and "cozy with Syrian dictator, Assad". None of that is true. 
There is no Syrian dictator. She went on a fact finding mission for peace and found that the US was an illegal aggressor. 
I hope she doesn't "die funny". American power elites are not ready for the clear views of Tulsi 20/20 
"There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace," she said. "I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement."  

​Placing the USA on a Collapse Continuum: The Saker, with Dmitry Orlov
Dmity concluded his reply by summarizing his view like this:
​"​Cultural and social collapse are very far along. Financial collapse is waiting for a trigger. Commercial collapse will happen in stages some of which—food deserts, for instance—have already happened in many places. Political collapse will only become visible once the political class gives up. It’s not as simple as saying which stage we are at. They are all happening in parallel, to one extent or another.​"​
My own (totally subjective) opinion is that the USA has already reached stages 1 through 4, and that there are signs that stage 5 has begun; mainly in big cities as US small towns and rural areas (Trump’s power base, by the way) are still struggling to maintain the norms and behaviors one could observe in the USA of the 1980s.  When I have visitors from Europe they always comment how friendly and welcoming US Americans are (true, I live in small-town in East-Central Florida, not in Miami…).

Embarrassing Speeches, Signs of a Dying Empire (really) 
Bolton and Pompeo  bolloxed this up, and maybe don't even know it.

Limeys have Yellow Vests, too! 
This video story is trying to divide and conquer, claiming that the nice lefties and the right-wing, leaver, right-nationalists are different and are confusing the symbol.

84,000 Frogs in yellow vests took to the streets of France again yesterday, and that pretty boy the Rothschilds moved from banking to the palace keeps making Freudian slips, instead of elegantly diplomatic insights. 

After weeks of failing to calm down the Yellow Vest anti-government movement raging into its 9th week across France, French President Emmanuel Macron has resorted to the pen - releasing a 2,300 word open letter to the country which seeks to turn "anger into solutions."
Macron says in the letter that he is open to ideas and suggestions but was clear that his government would not reverse previous reforms or key measures from his 2017 election campaign.  
"No questions are banned," reads the letter. "We won’t agree on everything, that’s normal, that’s democracy. But at least we’ll show that we are a people who are not afraid to speak, to exchange views and debate. And perhaps we’ll discover that we might even agree, despite our different persuasions, more often than we think."
In his 2,300 word letter, Macron writes that he will accept "no form of violence," including "pressure and insults" against "elected representatives, media journalists, state institutions or public servants."
"If everyone is being aggressive to everyone else, society falls apart," writes Macron. ​ 
(Violence is the monopoly of the state, as we will teach you.​..​)
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-01-13/macron-pens-2300-word-letter-yellow-vests-seeking-turn-anger-solutions

Political Nightmares Multiply for Europe, Ahead of Davos, Tom Luongo (I'd have put "Europe", Tom.)
The symbology of them smashing speed cameras and demanding their money from the banks cannot be clearer. When you take everything from someone, when he has nothing left to lose, he becomes free.
Free to strike the root, as we libertarians like to say. Go after not just the immediate source of your anger, but the root cause of it. Macron and his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe don’t have any other answer than to crack down harder.
It will not work. And, at some point the police will side with the people and that will be that. Macron’s disinvitation to Davos should surprise no one then.

​Chicken Roosting at Home​

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Playing Leapfrog

Jumping,

Turkey refuses ultimatum from NATO "partners" in Washington to cancel deal with Russia for state of the art S-400 surface to air missile systems, that would be effective against US and Israeli air forces, as well as all others. (S-400 is a much better deal than -. It's worth it to just not have to buy F-35s.)
Ankara signed the deal to buy the S-400s last year, and the first batch is scheduled to be delivered later this year over vociferous objections from Washington. That came after Congress last year passed a law effectively blocking a shipment of 100 F-35 jet fighters to Turkey, which is a member of NATO along with the US.
The US similarly tried to pressure India out of buying S-400s as the transaction could potentially violate American laws on sanctions placed on Russia - though Washington proposed giving New Delhi a free pass if it also agreed to buy arms from the US.
Despite pressure from overseas, Turkey and India maintained that they can freely choose partners in the arms trade without interference from Washington or anybody else.
"We don’t need permission from anybody" to purchase the S-400s, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

(Bolton backfired  :-)
Turkey has threatened to strike the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia if the United States delays its troop withdrawal from the country, according to The Guardian.
"If the [pullout] is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision," said Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, referring to their threat to launch a military operation in Kurdish controlled Syria.
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-01-10/erdogan-trump-leave-syria-now-we-strike

​T​he Wall Street Journal reported that the withdrawal would begin immediately.
Scores of ground troops are headed toward Syria to help move troops out, and a group of naval vessels headed by the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge is headed to the region to back up troops at the vulnerable moment they are leaving the country, the officials said. The Kearsarge carries hundreds of Marines, helicopters and other aircraft.
"Nothing has changed," one defense official said. "We don’t take orders from Bolton."

It's Yellow Vest Bank Run Saturday in France. Take all of your cash out this morning! 
(This is a direct populist attack against the actual financial masters.)

Is French Democracy Dead or Alive, Diana Johnstone (Excellent, thanks Eleni.)
Faced with what government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux described as “agitators” and “insurrectionists” who want to “overthrow the government”, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced a new “law to better protect the right to demonstrate”. Its main measure: heavily punish organizers of a demonstration whose time and place have not had official approval.  

(This end run will certainly confuse and stymie the dull witted racist, nationalist protesters causing trouble in both countries. How clever!)
Germany and France are set to forge a pact aligning their defense, diplomatic and economic policies in an unprecedented "twinning" pact "regarded as a prototype for the future of the European Union," according to The Times' Oliver Moody.   German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will sign the "Aachen treaty" later this month which will govern a coordinated diplomatic front as well as joint actions on peacekeeping missions. What's more - areas on both sides of the Franco-German border will be encouraged to establish "Eurodistricts" in which both countries would merge water, electricity and public transport networks.
Berlin and Paris will offer cash to incentivise these cross-border areas, which could involve shared hospitals, joint business schemes or environmental projects. Some officials regard these experiments as a petri dish for the integration of the EU. -The Times
No word on whether France will accept half of Germany's refugees.


​Happily Ever After​

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Approaching The Waterfall

Back From The USSR,

Dmitry Orlov's observations of the collapse of the USSR, and evaluation of differences in the US economy, and what they would make American collapse look like. This is long. I am re-reading it. It is from 2005 and no less cogent. I have patients who live like this. It's hard to get ahead from here.
Most people in the U.S. cannot survive very long without an income. This may sound curious to some people — how can anyone, anywhere survive without an income? Well, in post-collapse Russia, if you didn't pay rent or utilities — because no-one else was paying them either — and if you grew or gathered a bit of your own food, and you had some friends and relatives to help you out, then an income was not a prerequisite for survival. Most people got by, somehow.
But most people in the U.S., once their savings are depleted, would in due course be forced to live in their car, or in some secluded stretch of woods, in a tent, or under a tarp. There is currently no mechanism by which landlords can be made not to evict deadbeat tenants, or banks be prevailed upon not to foreclose on nonperforming loans. A wholesale reintroduction of rent control seems politically unlikely. Once enough residential and commercial real estate becomes vacant, and law enforcement becomes lax or nonexistent, squatting becomes a real possibility. Squatters usually find it hard to get mail and other services, but this is a very minor issue. More importantly, they can be easily dislodged again and again.

​Jim Rickards makes the case that the next financial crisis will start in Corporate Junk Bonds, which have allowed a lot of sick and leveraged companies to keep borrowing more to stay alive in low interest conditions.There is a whole lot of corportae junk debt. Student loans and subprime auto loans would follow.
https://dailyreckoning.com/heres-where-the-next-crisis-starts/

​The Recession Will Be Unevenly Distributed, Charles Hugh Smith (Good advice and perspective)
One aspect of the uneven distribution is that sectors that were relatively protected in recent recessions will finally feel the impact of this one. Large swaths of the tech sector (which is composed of dozens of different industries and services) that were devastated in the dot-com recession of 2000-02 came through the 2008-09 recession relatively unscathed.
This time it will be different. The build-out of mobile telephony merging with the web has been completed, social media has reached the stagnation phase of the S-Curve and many technologies that are widely promoted as around the corner are far from profitability.
Then there's slumping global demand for mobile phones and other consumer items that require silicon (processors) and other tech components: autos, to name just one major end-user of electronics.
The net result will be mass layoffs globally across much of the tech sector.
​I really hope 5G wireless dies in the cradle. These wavelengths are the ones used by the military for pain-beam devices to disperse crowds​.
​Strategic "Great Game" analysis, from The Saker blog:
Nowadays the European Union is under threefold pressure. Firstly, this is the pressure of the people at large, who don’t like the inevitable decrease in the standard of living. They got used to considering themselves as the “salt of the earth” and are sure that they are owed high social standards by their birthright. Secondly, this is also the pressure of national states pulling in different directions.
Having lost the opportunity to ensure financing for the globalist policy at the US’ expense, Euro-bureaucracy started to be uninteresting for national governments. It does a lot of squealing, but it doesn’t have enough wool. Respectively, ethnic contradictions, which in the past were softened by the all-European policy, again come to the forefront, tearing “united Europe” apart. Thirdly, the US isn’t interested anymore in maintaining a high standard of living in the EU, closes its markets to them, and tries to kill off European industry as a competitor to their own one. Washington is also interested in redistributing the resources controlled by the EU in its own favour. And lastly, seeing the danger of the in-motion (although slow) drift of the EU towards Russia, the US isn’t interested in leaving for Moscow a united European Union, which can be put into order rather quickly. The policy of Washington over the past two years is designed to destroy the EU.

As an increasingly overbearing European Union tries to force its agenda and values on member states that have embraced a more conservative, populist or anti-immigration tact - be it through Article 7 threats against Hungary, a rule-of-law investigation into Poland's ruling party or its threats of an excessive debt proceeding against Italy - leaders of these states are finally banding together to try and push back against Brussels.
According to Reuters, Italy’s far-right Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini is planning to meet with the leader of Poland’s ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of creating a "eurosceptic alliance" that will participate in the European Parliamentary elections in May.​..
If there is one potential obstacle to closer ties between Italy and Poland, it would be their dramatically different views about Russia. Salvini is one of the most unabashedly pro-Kremlin leaders in Europe, while Poland's ruling party remains deeply distrustful of Moscow.  

​Springtime for Poland and Italy...

Hungary's nationalist President, Viktor Orban remains popular and successful at the helm.
Orban said."There is no denying that Emmanuel Macron is an important figure, moreover, the leader of the pro-immigration forces,"
"It is nothing personal, but a matter of our countries' future. If what he wants with regards to migration materializes in Europe, that would be bad for Hungary, therefore I must fight him."

​A gas pipeline to Europe from Russia, not crossing Ukraine; that's Nordstream-2. It's in construction. It's good for Europe and Russia, not The Empire.​
The U.S. suggested several times last year that it could hit the project with sanctions, and Bloomberg says that such measures could be “imminent.” The U.S. Congress has at times vociferously opposed some of President Trump’s foreign policy goals, but if his administration moves forward with sanctions on Nord Stream 2, it is unlikely there will be a constituency in Washington to defend the project.
While American motivations for derailing Nord Stream 2 are influenced by fears of Russian influence in Europe, the U.S. administration is also undoubtedly trying to force American gas into the European market to benefit American companies. American politicians like to cite European energy security when campaigning against Nord Stream 2, but from the European vantage point, the U.S. government is blocking a reliable source of gas in order to benefit its own companies. To some, that doesn’t sound very much like enhancing energy security.

 Leader of French right-wing National Rally (RN) political party Marine Le Pen on Wednesday said that the French Government was responsible for the unrest in the country sparked by the yellow vest protesters.
"The government is the only one responsible for this situation. It is responsible and guilty for this situation. It is actually the author of the mess," Le Pen told the Radio Classique station.
​T​he head of the right-wing party also noted that she, just like most yellow vest supporters, condemns violence, but the French governments turned the situation into a "trap."
"And since they [the French government] do not want to be on the first line, they put the police on the first line. And this trap is terrible; it amounts to pitting yellow vests against the police, adding fuel to the fire. But the problem is that on the one and the other side are the French people. And very often they share the same aspirations, they share the same concerns," Le Pen underlined.

​Yellow Vests found a way to get at the bankers!
Yellow Vest protesters are hoping to trigger a bank run with a nationwide coordinated cash withdrawal. By threatening the French financial system, protesters say, they want to peacefully force the government to pass their reforms.
“If the banks weaken, the state weakens immediately,” said Yellow Vest “sympathizer” Tahz San on Facebook. “It’s elected officials' worst nightmare.”
Protesters plan to empty their bank accounts on Saturday, withdrawing as much money as possible in a bid to undermine the French banks – if not the euro itself. The plan is to “scare the state legally and without violence,” forcing the government to adopt the movement’s Citizens’ Referendum Initiative, which would allow citizens to propose and vote on new laws. 
  

​Who has the upper hand? Anybody? Why can't American power elite factions declare a working truce? Too late?
Following what was by all accounts (including the president's) a contentious meeting over border security funding between the White House (Trump and VP Mike Pence) and the Democratic leadership (Schumer and Pelosi) on Wednesday, Dems seized on an opportunity to try and portray Trump as unstable and child-like by telling reporters that he stormed out of the meeting after 45 minutes, with Schumer saying that Trump threw a "trantrum" when he realized Democrats weren't there to concede before "slamming the table and storming out."
As is his nature, Trump can't let these kinds of critical remarks go unchallenged. So in a Thursday morning tweet, Trump took a shot at "Cryin Chuck" and his "favorite lie". Instead, Trump said he "politely" said "bye-bye" and "left" after Pelosi said the Dems woudn't agree to funding for border security.
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-01-10/trump-slams-lying-cryin-chuck-schumer-says-theres-great-unity-gop-border-security

Chinese President Xi Jinping told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is visiting his country, that he hopes North Korea and the US will "meet each other halfway" in their next round of negotiations, Xinhua reported Thursday.
Kim, who is spending his 35th birthday touring northern China, met with Xi in Beijing "In a cordial, friendly atmosphere" and discussed "China-DPRK relations and issues of common concern, and reached important consensus," Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. Xi told Kim that he sees a "rare, historic opportunity" for a Korean peninsula settlement.

​China is closer to breaking internally than outsiders understand. That is  a report I am seeing more often. They fake the official statistics, but what effect is all of that bad investment having, ghost cities and the equivalent? China has been tightening up the power structure pretty hard in the past 3 years.
In a December 15 speech , Renmin University’s Xiang Songzuo warned that Chinese stock market conditions resemble those during the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He also suggested that the Chinese economy is actually shrinking... 
Former associate professor of business and economics at the Peking University HSBC Business School in Shenzhen, Christopher Balding, left China 6 months ago after losing his job. At the time, he wrote: “China has reached a point where I do not feel safe being a professor and discussing even the economy, business and financial markets..”. And, noting a change that very much seems related to what is coming down the road:
”One of my biggest fears living in China has always been that I would be detained. Though I happily pointed out the absurdity of the rapidly encroaching authoritarianism, a fact which continues to elude so many experts not living in China, I tried to make sure I knew where the line was and did not cross it. There is a profound sense of relief to be leaving safely knowing others, Chinese or foreigners, who have had significantly greater difficulties than myself. There are many cases which resulted in significantly more problems for them. I know I am blessed to make it out.”​...​
GDP growth of 1.67% vs the official 6.5%; smartphone shipments down 16%, car sales slumping. Not the kind of numbers you’ll hear from Beijing.​..  
Beijing’s policies have exacerbated the buildup of foreign debt. To promote Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, the president’s landmark foreign policy endeavor, China has been borrowing dollars on international markets and lending around the world for everything from Kenyan railways to Pakistani business parks. With this year and 2020 being the peak years for repayments, China faces dollar funding pressure.​..
Recent US imports from China look good only because both buyers and sellers try to stay ahead of tariffs. And wh​i​le some truce or another there may smoothen things a little, China must launch a massive stimulus against the background of twice as much investment being needed for a unit of GDP growth.

Jordan has hit out at Israel over its recent call for the United States to recognize the regime’s occupation of the Golan Heights, saying Tel Aviv will have to eventually pull its forces out of the Syrian region.
“The Golan Heights are occupied Syrian territory. International law is clear on that. It has to be treated as such,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told a press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Amman on Tuesday.
He then called on the Tel Aviv regime to leave the Golan Heights based on the 1974 Golan ceasefire deal with the Damascus government.
“Our position is that Israel needs to withdraw from that territory in the framework of a peace agreement,” Safadi said.

As the US is experiencing “certain difficulties” with the withdrawal from Syria, it should be coordinated with Iran and Russia to prevent “terrorists” from taking up the vacated space, the Turkish foreign minister said.
“The United States [has] been facing certain difficulties with the process of the troops' withdrawal from Syria. We want to coordinate this process with Russia and Iran, with which we had arranged work in the framework of the Astana process,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday.

​Dark Overlord Hackers Release More 9/11 Documents. Nothing is apparently in the early ones that we did not know or suspect. 
What may come with the final batch? 
RT has had a good series of articles on this. I look forward to more.​

Preparing Daily

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Sick Of Vampires

Involuntary Blood Donors,

Charles Hugh Smith looks at the fragmentation of global elite order in 2019 as the main theme of this year.
Control of the narrative requires harvesting "the right data" and spinning an interpretation that supports the status quo. How can anyone outside the central state / organs of propaganda know if the "raw data" has been massaged into the "right data"? The process is opaque, invisible to outsiders, and insiders are threatened with ruin should they make what is purposefully opaque visible to all.
The very desperation of the Powers That Be to label every skeptical inquiry or counter interpretation "fake news" speaks volumes: people understand the information is asymmetric: we're only told what supports the status quo. The loss of trust in "official news" is the only possible rational response to opacity and asymmetry.
Economic fragmentation is a core dynamic: established industries are marginalized by global finance and commoditization (see Commoditization = Deflation 1/4/19) while tech newcomers dominate stock markets and generate unevenly distributed returns for insiders and owners. Winners and losers are fragmented as well; whether you're a winner or loser depends on the specifics of your context: what you own, when you own it, where you own it and its relative scarcity and stability.
Then there's the rising social fragmentation as people seek tribal connections​ ​to counter their growing sense of insecurity and instability. Add up Fragmented, Unevenly Distributed, Asymmetric and Opaque and you get a world spinning out of centralized control. No wonder The Powers That Be are trying so hard not to reveal their growing sense of desperation.


​The Saker (thanks Eleni) Looks at critical events in 2018 where "The Empire" lost face very significantly. It is instructive. Those of us who live in the US have a lot of deep assumptions that the rest of the world does not share at all. He closes with this danger-alert.
There is very little doubt that the decline of the AngloZionist Empire will continue in 2019.  What will not change, however, is the ability of the USA to destroy Russia in a nuclear attack.  Because, make no mistake, all that the new fancy Russian weapons provide is the capability to punish (retaliate against) the USA for an attack on Russia, but not the capability to deny (prevent) such an attack.  If the Neocons decide that a nuclear holocaust is preferable to a loss of power in the USA, then there is nothing anybody can do to prevent them from playing out their own, sordid, version of Götterdämmerung.  I have recently had to spend a few days in Boca Raton, were a lot of that new US “aristocracy” likes to spend time and I can tell you two things: life is good for them, and they sure ain’t giving up their privileged status as “leaders of the planet”.  And if somebody tries to take it away, there is no doubt in my mind that these people will react with a vicious outburst of Samson-like despair-filled rage.  So the only question remains this: will we (mankind) be able to take away the nuclear button from this class of parasites without giving them the chance to press it or not?
https://thesaker.is/from-2018-to-2019-a-quick-survey-of-a-few-trends/

​Trump and Pompeo say the US is getting out of Syria. National Security (bad) Adviser Josh Bolton says, "conditions must first be met". That went over fine when he was in Israel, but on his visit to Turkey, Erdogan canceled their meeting, and the rest of the US military top brass there did not take an identical position to his. (The picture of the group leaving talks with not-Erdogan is pretty illustrative.)
An editorial in the Erdogan aligned Daily Sabah called Bolton's ideas a soft coup against Trump.  
And with that, Bolton was humiliated and the issue of the U.S. retreat from Syria kicked back to Trump.
We have seen a similar scheme in U.S. negotiations with North Korea. Trump made a four step deal with Kim Jong Un. Then the borg in form of Secretary of State Pompeo tried to change the deal, and demanded that North Korea fulfills step four before the U.S. will take step one, two and three. When he then flew to North Korea he was ignored by Kim Jong Un and only met with lower level staff. It required Trump's intervention to keep the talks alive.
Erdogan likewise had a deal with Trump about the U.S. retreat from Syria. Bolton tried to change the deal, to add conditions and to prolong the timeline. When he arrived in Ankara he was not only ignored by Erdogan, but scolded. It will require Trumps intervention to bring the issue back onto its tracks.
If Trump does not move, Erdogan is likely to seek a military escalation. His army will probably fire artillery on this or that Kurdish position near the Turkish border. It may even invade a few towns. Not necessarily to hold them, but to increase the pressure on the U.S. occupation force.

​Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer seem very confident of their bargaining position, that they will prevail by force, when the pain of the partial government shutdown is brought to bear on Trump. They speak pretty insultingly here, in their reply to his speech. (My analysis remains that the negotiations are not about the wall, but about power-sharing between the deep state faction backing Trump and the neocon deep state faction, exemplified by Bush-Clinton axis.)​
https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/08/pelosi-schumer-trump-response-immigration-1088722

​Why the Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) have been ignored by "the resistance" in the US. Max Parry takes a quick look, then a long historical context look. (Lenin advocated for beating the opposition by owning it, didn't he?)​

Macron: New puppet becomes tattered puppet.
The government can argue that the yellow vests have a weak grasp of how the international system works. Macron’s Olympian pretensions and his symbiotic relationship with the financial and cultural world of the rich have encouraged the illusion that his policies are personal whims, so that he is at liberty to change them radically. But France no longer controls its own currency; its public services are subject to EU competition law; German officials scrutinise its budget line by line; Brussels negotiates its trade treaties. Yet the words ‘Europe’ and ‘European’ do not appear among the yellow vests’ 42 demands.  

French government moves to criminalize all protests. That will fix the 5th Republic, won't it?

But, the important take away from this announcement of further crackdowns is that this should only make things worse for Macron and Philippe. And it will further destabilize French society as over-worked (and seriously under-paid) police are asked to do more.
Remember, the French police donned their own yellow vests at one point complaining that they hadn’t been paid for the over-time they’ve put in to “control” these protests by stoking further violence.
If France falls into complete political chaos it will eventually force equity and bond markets to pull their heads out of the sand and see the truth for what it is, that Europe is not the model of future stability just because Macron, Merkel and Super Mario Draghi say it is.
A call for a further crackdown against protests is the same response as the new EU laws on internet speech and dissemination of memes, Articles 11 and 13, they are attempts to stop open dissent against a distant and uninvolved leadership.
The Yellow Vests in France have made the cognitive leap that Italians did in last year’s elections. That the EU is a scam and all of its policies were designed to do exactly what its done — impoverish the working classes, enrich the aristocracy and enforce it through a Byzantine bureaucracy that makes the world of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil look like a Toyota factory floor.
A France on general strike, paralyzed by political turmoil and a government at war with itself, even if Macron steps aside, will call into serious question the future viability of the EU and the euro.
This is why Salvini and Di Maio’s support of the Yellow Vests is so important, it provides another vector of attack on the EU which they eventually cannot ignore.


In another Liberal Democracy... Head of online hate speech monitoring group “Näthatsgranskaren” Tomas Åberg receives tax funds for mass reporting pensioners and others who write critically about migration on Facebook.
And now he claims that his reports to the police have resulted in almost 150 hate speech convictions.
“1,218 police reports 2017-2018. 144 hate speech sentences, from 214 notifications. Many are waiting for prosecution!”, writes “Näthatsgranskaren” (The Online Hate Speech Monitor) on Twitter.

If no-deal-Brexit is blocked, then Britain will definitely get a deal dictated by the EU, certainly worse than the current membership status. Politicians are striking hard blows against their nation in London. Only a no-deal-Brexit gives the will of the people any bargaining position against globalists..

Ugo Bardi answers a question that has been bugging me about the actual unprofitability of shale oil. Investors have stakes in a Ponzi scheme that will soon wind down, not pay off.
But there is a logic in the term “energy dominance.” It has to do with the way slogans are used in politics: a slogan is not just a compact way of expressing a certain political concept, it is often a coded message that hides much more than it says. So, we know that “bringing democracy” to a foreign country means to bomb it to smithereens. “Make America great again” means subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. “The Indispensable Country” means, “The American Empire.” And more.
There is nothing wrong in using coded slogans: you only have to know how to decode them. So, “energy dominance” has to be decoded and turned into “military dominance.” Then, things start making sense...
For the military, the lesson of the past world wars is that wars are won by the side which has the largest oil supply. And they remember it. So, if you want to attain military dominance, energy independence is not enough, you need to attain energy dominance.
Everything makes sense also in view of some recent results on the statistical patterns of wars. Wars, it seems, are correlated to the thermodynamic phenomenon of entropy dissipation in complex systems. The more energy there is to dissipate, the faster it is dissipated. And if this dissipation is really fast, it may take the shape of a war — war is the fastest way to destroy (dissipate) accumulated resources. But, in order to dissipate resources, you need to accumulate them first, and that’s the role of shale oil in the current situation.
Which means that shale oil is not a natural resource, it is a military resource. As such, it doesn’t matter if it brings a profit or not for the investors. What matters is how it can be used to maintain and expand that gigantic social and economic structure that we call “Globalization” (another slogan that can be decoded as “the global empire”).

Ilargi at The Automatic Earth, The Fed is the Ugly Truth (This is the core resource and value extraction mechanism of the global empire, high finance.)
Western economies would have shrunk into negative GDP growth if not for the $15-20 trillion their central banks injected over the past decade. And that is seen, or rather presented, as something so terrible you got to do anything to prevent it from happening. As if it’s completely natural, and desirable, for an economy to grow forever.
It isn’t and it won’t happen, but keeping the illusion alive serves to allow the rich to put their riches in a safe place, to increase inequality and to prepare those who need it least to save most to ride out the storm they themselves are creating and deepening. And everyone else can go stuff themselves.
And sure, perhaps a central bank could have some function that benefits society. It’s just that none of them ever do, do they? Central banks benefit private banks, and since the latter have for some brain​-​dead reason been gifted with the power to issue our money, while we could have just as well done that ourselves, the circle is round and we ain’t in it.
No, the Fed doesn’t hide the ugly truth. The Fed is that ugly truth. And if we don’t get rid of it, it will get a lot uglier still before the entire edifice falls to pieces. This is not complicated stuff, that’s just what you’re made to believe. Nobody needs the Fed who doesn’t want to pervert markets and society, it is that simple.

Sunlight

Monday, January 7, 2019

Reverse Order

Mixing It Up,

Randy gave me a good nudge to actually go back and read all 3 of these essays on The Automatic Earth. They are long, but they are also somewhat transformative of one's thought process. I say that as someone who thinks he already thought this way, so your mileage may vary. I give them to you in reverse order, 3, 2, 1...

​ Since the emergence of agriculture, elite groups have become extremely adept at dominating bottlenecks in the flows of complex systems, enabling them to reorganize social institutions around powerful monopolies and thereby establishing persistent, stratified political economies. Early states formed as identity cults with monopolies over specific behaviours and resources. In a sense, they were entropy-gathering mechanisms, domesticating and discipling human bodies in order to harness their energy and concentrate it in powerful cores. These hierarchical systems are effective at creating durable structures, yet their ability to create inertia also increases their fragility. The linear, overly centralised energy-matter flows of vertical control systems mean that they are only stable over a limited range of conditions as complexity increases. Not only do they often fail to adapt, but they are also powerful enough in the short term to fend off systemic changes, increasing the pressures upon the system as more energy is consumed to maintain stability.
https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2018/11/quantum-jazz-and-dada-3/

This means assessing the energetic and material flows that are available to our communities and their broader ecosystems in terms of efficient, sustainable use and distribution. Ecologies are the way in which the energetic capacity of the planet is organised and circulated through organic life. Their health and stability are the fundamental scaffolding upon which our societies are built. The idea of ecology is fundamentally one of relational and developmental systems. It has done much to breakdown our clockwork, factory inspired models and metaphors with their linear production processes.
It allows us to understand ourselves as caught up in complex predicaments, as opposed to merely complicated problems. Industrial societies have made this reality abundantly clear through the incomprehensibly vast changes they have wrought in their environments. Should humanity succeed, it will still be centuries before we will have ameliorated the damage to our global ecosystems. However, in creating stable feedback between environments, communities, institutions and technologies as part of an interdependent system, we can begin the process of such a recovery. It is through redesigning our developmental environments for dynamic equilibrium that the next system will coevolve with the planet.
https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2018/11/quantum-jazz-and-dada-2/

This paper is not about Quantum, Jazz and Dada per se, but rather a meditation on those radical bursts of human creativity that occur during historically destructive moments. Ultimately, my thesis is quite simple. Barring the possibility of extinction, humans are on the precipice of the most radical social reorganizations in the history of the species. In navigating this process of transformation, if we wish to create a world worth living in, it is necessary to understand the interactions between energy, ecosystems, cognitive development and social organization.
Without a grasp on the interdependence of these relationships there is no hope for shaping our world in a healthier manner. What is historically unquestionable is that periods of radical upheaval result in drastic reconfigurations of belief, meaning and knowledge. In the contemporary world, metaphysical and theoretical assumptions about the division of mind and matter, culture and nature, humans and environment all stem from a philosophical and scientific heritage that has divided form and flow. If we are to create something better out of the ongoing destruction of the current system we must radically rethink our understanding of energy, matter and the interdependence of humanity and the Earth.
https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2018/11/quantum-jazz-and-dada-1/

​Dissipating Energy​

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Sand And Death

Cutting Losses,

Trump maintains his stance on withdrawal from Syria. Thanks Eleni.
The US president said: "Syria was lost long ago. It was lost long ago. We’re not talking about vast wealth. We’re talking about sand and death. I’m getting out, we’re getting out of Syria. Look, we don’t want Syria."
He added: "The Kurds, our partners are selling oil to Iran. I'm not thrilled about that, I'm not happy about it at all."
However, Mr Trump said he did want to "protect" US-backed Kurdish fighters in the country as Washington draws down its 2,000 troops, which would happen "over a period of time".
Eleni also sends this story, saying that Trump is disappointed with Sheldon Adelson's delivery of House votes in midterm elections, and is moving away from Adelson and Israel-firsters, and toward the votes. I think this is not enough explanation. Trump is doing things he wanted to do all along, but could not do before. Something gave him ore power to act last month, some level of protection, I think. This is not the kind of thing that gets published, but I think the hidden deep state faction that Trump fronts for ("rationalists") got a stronger position, somehow, allowing him to make moves the Neocons hate. I have to wonder how important the mounting evidence of vast Clinton-network crimes is. There is just so much documentation of the huge scale of bribery, sex with minors, and even the murder of Seth Rich after that office party...
A lot of people are scratching their heads over Trump’s recent moves distancing himself from Israel. He announced that he was pulling troops from Syria, thereby nettling Israel’s friends who counted on him to take on Iran in Syria. Iran, Iran, Iran, say Chuck Schumer, Lindsey Graham, and Bret Stephens. Trump overrode John Bolton, his neoconservative national security adviser, in announcing the withdrawal. Jonathan Tobin writes that Trump just gave the finger to his Jewish voters.
Then Trump held a briefing in Iraq the night after Christmas and complained about all the money we give Israel, exaggerating the sum to $4.5 billion a year.
I think there’s a simple explanation for Trump’s shift. He was counting on his biggest donor, Sheldon Adelson, to deliver the House to him in the midterm elections; and Adelson failed, bigtime. Donald Trump is sore about that.
Remember that in the runup to the election last spring, the transactional president did his part: He tore up the Iran deal and moved the embassy to Jerusalem and installed Adelson’s friend John Bolton as national security adviser– after declining to do all these actions in his first year in office, he saved them for the election year.
What did Trump get for those moves? Bupkus. Yes Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam gave upwards of $87 million to the Republican congressional effort, including some $50 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund. More than half that money came in last May, just as the embassy was opened. All to save the House.
And what was the result? The Democrats picked up 40 seats in the House...
Donald Trump is a shrewd man, and he has surely concluded what any gamer would, that Sheldon Adelson’s millions didn’t have the impact in 2018 that they did in 2016, when they helped deliver the White House.  

Along the lines of offsetting-penalties-with-team-Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Trump's lawyer, says Julian Assange should not be prosecuted. (Who benefits?)

More neocons-on-display... Martin Armstrong was a top Republican economic adviser, screening candidates for the 2000 election, but one candidate was different, not to actually be tested on economic prowess at all. He would have babysitters. Armstrong could be one, if he chose. He didn't. George W. Bush was the idiot-son candidate. Cheney and Rumsfeld, a team since Jerry Ford years, were the real power team. Armstrong works this into a review of the Cheney-in-office bio, Vice, which he recommends.
The movie correctly portrays Donald Rumsfeld as his co-conspirator. Just the day before 911 on September 10th, the Inspector General reported that $2.3 trillion was missing from the Defense Department accounting. Rumsfeld stated before Congress an investigation was necessary. The next day, the plane that struck the Pentagon hit the precise room where all those records were stored.  

Free actors in Iraq and Syria now can make decisions to edge out the USAF.
As the United States is reportedly "slowing things down" on Trump's announced full troop withdrawal, Syria's President Assad is apparently speeding things up in terms of reasserting sovereign control over all parts of the country, as he's long promised to "liberate every inch" of natural Syria.
On Sunday Assad took the controversial step of authorizing Iraqi forces to attack terror targets inside Syria at will, according to state-run SANA "without waiting for permission from authorities in Damascus" while the two allies coordinate action against remaining ISIS pockets in the country's east.

Moon of Alabama says Syria is "Country of the Year"
George Galloway is right:
George Galloway @georgegalloway - 11:46 utc - 31 Dec 2018
The defeat of the imperialist armies and their head-chopping auxiliaries in the alphabet soup of Islamist extremism by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies was the most significant event of the year or any year since the US defeat in Vietnam. It will change the world.

World Food Program, Bribed By Saudis, Threatens Yemenis With More Famine
The United Nation's World Food Program is supposed to relief populations in urgent need of food supplies. It is not supposed to be a partisan organization. But in the war on Yemen it has now taken one side of the conflict and is threatening the other side with starvation.

​Israel completes seawall around Gaza, violating Oslo accords, and completing the noose of siege around the open air prison, where it periodically strafes, bombs and ​murders the rightful heirs of Palestine.

Mediterranean gas-pipeline-war update. So far, Turkey can block things if it does not get a cut of the profits and gas flowing through Cyprus. Turkstream, from Russia, is a fait accompli. (Israel has got Greece in it's clutches, but does not control Turkey.)

Chinese robot-rover joins Pink Floyd on the dark side of the moon. (Baby, it's cold out there!)

China and Taiwan don't agree to disagree. They disagree. It's ok, for now.

Corbyn won't get cornered. He's been bullied for so long that it just doesn't work, neither carrot, nor stick.
Jeremy Corbyn will defy calls to change course on the party’s Brexit policy ahead of parliament’s vote on the deal, insisting that the government should secure a new deal with the EU if MPs reject Theresa May’s agreement...
“What we will do is vote against having no deal, we’ll vote against Theresa May’s deal; at that point she should go back to Brussels and say, ‘This is not acceptable to Britain’ and renegotiate a customs union, form a customs union with the European Union to secure trade,” he said.  

​I thought the Yellow Vests had no "leaders".
One of the leaders of the "yellow vest" anti-government demonstrations, Eric Drouet, was detained by French police and placed in custody on Wednesday for organising a central Paris protest without declaring it, according to a source at the prosecutors office.
Drouet -- who already faces a trial for carrying a weapon -- was held while heading for the Champs-Elysees, according to a police source.
https://amp.france24.com/en/20190102-yellow-vest-leader-eric-drouet-arrested

​Detained​

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Gazing Into 2019

Starting Fresh,

Jenny and I, and our daughters Holly and Amber, and their husbands, Tommy and Philip spent new year's eve and new year's day at our "new place" in Yoakum, which is on 0.6 acre, effectively 0.8 acre, since the city will never use the easement along the back, of lovely alluvial soil in the Texas coastal plains, climate zone 9a. That means it only gets a few mild and brief freezes in a winter; just one so far this winter. Most tropical plants can survive if planted along the southeast of a house. The natural rainfall is good and pretty steady through the year, only a little less in the hottest months, July and August.
Yoakum was the tomato capital of Texas in the 1920s because temperatures at night in July and August get cool enough to allow for flowering and fruit production.
So far, along the southeast of the house, I have planted 3 cold-tolerant avocado trees and one Mexican mango I grew from a seed for the past few years, bringing it into the Austin house in winter. They seem happy enough.
Along the northeast of the house I have planted a couple of cold-hardy Satsuma oranges and some Mexican limes.
Along the southwest to west (back) of the house, where we cut down 3 sick old trees and converted them to free firewood for Yoakum, is the larger fruit tree planting. Just along the street are Shinko Asian pear, Perdue European pear, Hood European pear and Kieffer European pear.
Closest (12 -15 feet) to the southwest corner of the house are two fig trees, which should grow quickly to provide summer shade.
Also along the west side of the house and filling in a triangle out to the line of pears by the street, are a Junegold peach, a Sam Houston peach, a Santa Rosa plum and a Methley plum. Out towards the back, and starting 20 feet from any tree, is where the first vegetable garden bed will be.
After doing some chainsaw work and stacking firewood, Tommy and I cut a 20 ft. X 33 ft. piece of thick black plastic sheet to define the bed. Jenny and Holly helped hold it down in the wind as we secured it with ground staples and small logs to keep it from blowing up. It will smother the grass and weeds for a couple of months, then we will do more bed preparation and planting around March 1.
I anticipate being able to experiment with more cold-tolerant Mexican avocados in pots, and a cheap white fabric greenhouse, over the next few years. In March I should be able to get more Mexican avocado varieties, and some seeds to plant from trees that are known to be good, and are surrounded by other known good, established trees, which might have fertilized them.
A lot of what will take shape in the next few years is not yet known, existing as potential, awaiting discovery and the breath of life.
This is a comfortable place. We spent a lot of time communing in the kitchen and dining area. We are getting more beds set up in creative ways for big sleepovers. We got a bunch of shelves set up in various spots that just seem to naturally swallow them and put stuff on them.
The magic is working. 
The town of Yoakum is a pretty stable, slowly growing rural town of 6000, with a lot of people who are growing old with their with school classmates. It was settled by mostly Czech families and some Germans before the Civil War. It is on the Guadalupe River, about 60 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
Crime seems very low. Locks are taken as optional. The very large plant nursery always has everything sitting out over a couple of acres, never locked up, and there is not always somebody on site. You can call if you need something. The neighborhoods are not segregated, by cheap or expensive, black, white or Mexican. It's all mixed together. Lots of orange trees in yards... 
Scotty beamed us down. It's a good landing. People are nice and so are we.

I'm sorry to have little about the big picture for 2019, but I really think we all need to be working on our smaller pictures as we go into the time of declining cheap resources. Vast layered societies need vast cheap resources to feed the complexity and inefficiency of those "dissipative structures".
We are setting up our billion-dollar-underground-survival-bunker in Yoakum, for a lot less than that. 
Do what you can to feed into a lower-energy future you would like to be part of.

Photosynthetic Planner