Wednesday, June 5, 2019

War On Reality

Leaning on Nothing,

James Kunstler:
Guess what: the global economy is winding down, and pretty rapidly. Trade wars are the most obvious symptom. The tensions underlying that spring from human population overshoot with its punishing externalities, resource depletion, and the perversities of money in accelerated motion, generating friction and heat. They also come from the fact that techno-industrialism was a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end — and we’re closer to the end than we are to the middle. There will be no going back to the prior party, whatever way we pretend to negotiate our way around or through these quandaries.
The USA-China romance was bound to end in divorce, which Mr. Trump is surreptitiously suing for now under the guise of a negotiated trade rebalancing. The US has got a chronic financial disease known as Triffin’s Dilemma, a set of disorders endemic to any world reserve currency. The disease initially expressed itself in President Nixon’s ditching the US dollar’s gold backing in 1971. By then, the world had noticed the dollar’s declining value trend-line, and threatened to drain Fort Knox to counter the effects of holding those dollars. Since then, all world currencies have been based on nothing but the idea that national economies would forever and always pump out more wealth.
 It turns out that they pump out more debt in the pursuit of that chimerical wealth until the economic viziers and banking poohbahs begin to declare that debt itself is wealth — and now all the major players around the world are choking to death on that debt, especially the USA and China, but also Japan and the dolorous commune known as the EU. Everybody’s broke, one way or another, even though they are up to their eyeballs in products designed to fall apart in a few years.

Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper:
When I was in Bosnia recently with Selco, I was in awe of the fact that they don’t have warning labels, guard rails, or any other protective things keeping stupid people alive. He got a good laugh from my shock over the fact that a scenic lookout had no railing to keep people from plunging to their deaths...
 People have become so dependent on their navigation systems that reading a physical, honest-to-goodness-piece-of-paper map has become a lost art.  Not only that, but some folks rely more on their GPS than their common sense, sort of like these tourists who drove right into the Pacific Ocean because the nav system told them to...
What if the situation was more dangerous than falling into a giant fountain? What if you were busy texting and there was an armed robbery and you walked right into the middle of it? What if your eyes were glued to the screen and there was some unexpected wild animal, like, I dunno, a bear?
Because…that actually happened.

  Of course, a bunch of dependent dumb people are a whole lot easier to control than the critical thinkers who rely on themselves instead of Papa Government.

Edward Snowden: With Technology, Institutions Have Made 'Most Effective Means of Social Control in the History of Our Species'
NSA whistleblower says "new platforms and algorithms" can have direct effect on human behavior

Caitlin Johnstone:
 British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has just given a speech extolling the virtues of a free media, praising the journalists who’ve been brave enough to expose the truth about wicked governments in the face of tyrannical oppression. While he was preparing to give this speech, without any indication of any self-reflection at all, he defended the torture of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange...
Hunt decried the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, ignoring the inconvenient fact that his own government had just been found guilty of participating in the brutal torture of a far more impactful journalist spanning many years. Hunt sang the praises of two Reuters journalists who’d recently been released from prison in Burma after exposing a massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslims, right after defending the torture of the journalist who released the Collateral Murder video showing the massacre of 18 civilians, the fatalities from which included two Reuters journalists.  

Pepe Escobar, via The Saker Blog:
 The logic of this extreme “military diplomacy” is stark; if you don’t weaponize the American way, you will suffer. Key targets feature, among others, India and Turkey, two still theoretical poles of Eurasian integration.
 In parallel, from US Think Tankland, comes the latest RAND Corporation report on – what else – how to wage Cold War 2.0 against Russia, complete with scores of strategic bombers and new intermediate-range nuclear missiles stationed in Europe to counter “Russian aggression”. Santa Monica’s RAND arguably qualifies as the top Deep State think tank.
 So, it’s no wonder the road ahead is fraught with Desperation Row scenarios. The US economic war on China – at least for now – is not as hardcore as the US economic war on Russia, which is not as hardcore as the US economic siege or blockade of Iran. Yet all three wars carry the potential to degenerate in a flash. And we’re not even counting the strong possibility of an extra Trump administration economic war on the EU.
 It’s no accident that the current economic wars target the three key nodes of Eurasian integration. The war against the EU may not happen because the main beneficiaries would be the Russia-China-Iran triumvirate.

Helen Buyniski, via RT:
  Frustrated by a legal ban on sharing intelligence with Israeli operatives conducting targeted assassinations against Hezbollah, the NSA crafted a loophole giving them total access even to US citizens' data, leaked documents show.
The Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU), the NSA's counterpart in Tel Aviv, convinced the Americans to circumvent the legal prohibition on providing surveillance data for targeted assassinations during Israel's 2006 war with Lebanon, according to the newest revelation from the archives obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden...
The documents don't include details of what "arrangement" was eventually worked out with the ODNI, but the Israeli military used American data to lay waste to Lebanon's civilian population, much like the tech-enhanced US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, whose kill-counts swelled with civilian victims after they received access to NSA targeting data...
"Israel repeatedly, and in some cases egregiously, violated the laws of war," Human Rights Watch reporter Nadim Houry told the Intercept, adding that the Israelis "engaged in indiscriminate aerial attacks" and cluster bombing against "civilian infrastructure that was not tied in any way to the armed conflict." ...
Apparently unsatisfied with the legal loophole the Americans had created for them, the Israelis sought and received full access to the NSA's massive surveillance data troves after the war. A 2009 memorandum of understanding officially gave ISNU unrestricted access to the NSA's raw intelligence data – including the phone and internet records of American citizens and citizens of third-party countries. Only American officials' data was excluded, on an honor-system basis (with ISNU instructed to "destroy upon recognition" any records originating with a government official).

 With the joint Syrian and Russian air campaign over Idlib province heating up over the past three weeks, and with the final showdown between Damascus and the last major al-Qaeda stronghold in Syria's northwest imminent, President Trump on Sunday issued a stern warning directed at Syria, Russia, and Iran.
Trump tweeted that the three allies are "bombing the hell out of Idlib Province in Syria" and are in the process of "indiscriminately" killing civilians which he further called "butchery". He ended the statement in all caps, saying "STOP!".
The Kremlin was quick to respond, saying Monday militants from Idlib had stepped up attacks on civilian areas in places like nearby northern Hama as well as into Latakia province.
Blaming Turkey for failing to uphold the Astana ceasefire agreement by allowing its proxies to attack Syrian government areas, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "militants were using Idlib as a base to launch attacks against civilian and military" which he called "unacceptable," according to Reuters.
“Of course strikes by militants from Idlib are unacceptable and measures are being taken to neutralize these strike positions,” Peskov told reporters.

  Surreal footage shows a massive riot broke out inside al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Sunday, with Israeli security forces storming Islam's third holiest site, which sits atop Temple Mount. 
It all started when Jews were controversially allowed entrance to the compound to celebrate Jerusalem Day which marks Israeli control over the Old City in the aftermath of the June 1967 Six-Day War. In response to reports that Jewish entrance was imminent, Palestinians began to riot, which included throwing stones, chairs, and objects at entering police.
Multiple reports noted the incident marked the first time in about three decades that Jews were allowed access to the compound during the final days of the month of Ramadan, which was likely the result of Israeli authorities feeling emboldened by the US formal recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital last year.

More from Helen of Des Troy on RT:
A top-secret NSA targeting system which dramatically increased the civilian death toll in Afghanistan and Iraq has made its way back home, according to leaked documents boasting of its use on the US-Mexico border.
The RT-RG targeting system, which sucks up and processes hundreds of millions of phone and internet records per day in order to “find, fix and finish” enemy combatants, has been deployed on the US’ southern border since 2010, according to documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden...
 While the NSA praised the system for boosting the military’s kill-count in Afghanistan and Iraq, the documents show it gave soldiers a false sense of certainty, leading to an explosion in civilian casualties following its deployment. Most of those kills – 90 percent, in one five-month period of airstrikes – were not the intended targets. For such a flawed system to be placed in the hands of domestic authorities already prone to itchy trigger-fingers is unsettling.

Mish Shedlock:
Add India to the list of countries the US is n a trade war with. For now, Australia barely avoided Trump's wrath.
“I have determined that India has not assured the United States that India will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets,” Mr. Trump said on Friday.
Tariffs start June 5.

While the world has been focused on the ongoing U.S./China (and now U.S./Mexico) trade war, the final chapter in an ongoing, yet little covered garbage war between the Philippines and Canada looks to have begun.
 A shipment of trash that has been causing strain between the two countries is finally heading back to Canada,6 years after it arrived in the Philippines, according to Gulf News.
 Wilma Eisma, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chair said: “Finally, the containers of garbage transported from Canada and stored at the Subic Bay Freeport for several years now have been pulled out as of today, May 31, 2019,”
 69 total containers filled with trash were loaded onto the MV Bavaria, pictured below, and sent back to North America. The shipment was commissioned by Canada to take the cargo back to its point of origin.
 “This is one proud moment for all Filipinos.”

Helen points out that the Malaysian PM just cut his life expectancy to under-2-years:
Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad has floated the idea of creating a gold-backed common trading currency for all of East Asia, slamming regional currency exchange as “manipulative” and criticizing the US’s heavy-handed foreign policy.
“In the Far East, if you want to come together, we should start with a common trading currency, not to be used locally but for the purpose of settling of trade,” Mahathir said at the Nikkei Future of Asia conference in Japan, suggesting the currency be “based on gold because gold is much more stable” and warning that promoting any one country’s currency over others would result in conflict. Exchange rates would be based on the country’s economic performance and not subject to the volatility of forex markets...
Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump warned Malaysia that it could be placed on the US Treasury’s list of “currency manipulators” and required close scrutiny, though Malaysia’s central bank retorted that it maintains a floating exchange rate and strong external balance...
 Mahathir is a long-time critic of the status quo in currency trading. He blames billionaire financier George Soros for triggering the 1997 Asian financial crisis by betting against the ringgit and baht and has accused the financier of attempting to “colonize” Malaysia through his network of NGOs, claiming his end goal is “regime change.”
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi proposed a pan-African gold dinar that would be used to sell the country’s oil on the world market in 2009, less than two years before his government fell to a NATO-backed regime change operation that has left the once-prosperous nation a conflict-ridden warzone. One of the ‘moderate’ rebels’ first actions upon brutally murdering Gaddafi was to create a central bank to replace the state-owned monetary authority that had previously managed Libya’s wealth. The US has historically not taken kindly to countries that attempted to trade oil in non-dollar currencies, as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein can attest – or could, if he hadn’t been regime-changed as well. Syria, too, dropped its peg to the dollar in 2007, not long before the West went from awarding Bashar al-Assad the French medal of honor to declaring him a bloodthirsty monster.

Jeanine reveals amazing discovery by "Wealth Detective":
The actual effect of lower taxes on the rich, he argues, isn’t to stimulate the economy but to further enrich the rich and further incentivize greed. In his analysis, when the wealthy get tax breaks, they focus less on reinvesting in businesses and more on hiring lobbyists, making campaign donations, and pursuing acquisitions that eliminate competitors. Chief executive officers, for their part, gain additional motivation to boost their own pay. “Once you’ve created a successful business and the wealth is established and you own billions of dollars, then what these people spend their time doing is trying to defend that position,” Zucman says.  

Uppercut to the midsection... again, by Helen Buyinski:
Los Angeles, California has joined the parade of plaintiffs suing Bayer, holding the German company responsible for extensive environmental contamination caused by toxic chemicals its US subsidiary Monsanto sold decades ago.
Claiming Monsanto hid its knowledge that the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) it manufactured for 42 years were harmful, Los Angeles County is demanding the company pay for the damage these products have done to the environment. The municipality has spent a fortune on cleanup, including retrofitting storm water systems, in an effort to prevent further damage.

Permafrost in the Arctic is now thawing so fast that scientists are literally losing their measuring equipment. This is due to the fact that instead of there being just a few centimeters of thawing each year, now several meters of soil can become destabilized in a matter of days.
Adding insult to injury, another study revealed that this permafrost collapse is further accelerating the release of carbon into the atmosphere, possibly even doubling the amount of warming coming from greenhouse gases released from the tundra.

This is just what The Limits To Growth said in 1972, except that this only looking at climate change, not the decline of oil supplies, aquifers, farms, etc.
New Report Suggests ‘High Likelihood of Human Civilization Coming to an End’ Starting in 2050
The climate change analysis was written by a former fossil fuel executive and backed by the former chief of Australia's military.

It looks like 2019 could be the worst year for U.S. agriculture in modern American history by a very wide margin.  As you will see below, millions upon millions of acres of U.S. farmland will go unused this year due to cataclysmic flooding.  And many of the farmers that did manage to plant crops are reporting extremely disappointing results.  The 12 month period that concluded at the end of April was the wettest 12 month period in U.S. history, and more storms just kept on coming throughout the month of May.  And now forecasters are warning of another series of storms this week, and following that it looks like a tropical storm will pummel the region.  As Bloomberg has pointed out, we have truly never seen a year like this ever before…  

Trapped in Mud

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