Thursday, April 13, 2023

Things That Aren't Food

 Considering Breakfast,

  Pepe Escobar, Waiting for the End of the World  Thanks Christine
​  ​So for the Chinese what matters, intertwined with business, is cultural interactions; inclusivity; mutual trust; and a stern refusal of “clash of civilizations” and ideological confrontation.
​  ​As much as Moscow easily subscribes to all of the above – and in fact practices it via diplomatic finesse – Washington is terrified by how compelling is this Chinese narrative for the whole Global South. After all, Exceptionalistan’s only offer in the market of ideas is unilateral domination; Divide an Rule; and “you’re with us or against us”. And in the latter case you will be sanctioned, harassed, bombed and/or regime-changed.
​  ​Is it 1848 all over again?
​  ​Meanwhile, in vassal territories, a possibility arises of a revival of 1848, when a big revolutionary wave hit all over Europe.
In 1848 these were liberal revolutions; today we have essentially popular anti-liberal (and anti-war) revolutions – from farmers in the Netherlands and Belgium to unreconstructed populists in Italy and Left and Right populists combined in France.
​  ​It may be too early to consider this a European Spring. Yet what’s certain in several latitudes is that average European citizens feel increasingly inclined to shed the yoke of Neoliberal Technocracy and its dictatorship of Capital and Surveillance. Not to mention NATO warmongering.​..​
​..​There are indeed intimations that Europe may be witnessing a rebirth.
The period of upheaval will be long and arduous - due to the hordes of anarco-liberals who are such useful idiots for the Western oligarchy - or it could all come to a head in a single day. The target is quite clear: the death of Neoliberal Technocracy.
​  ​That’s how the Xi-Putin view could make inroads across the collective West: show that this ersatz “modernity” (which incorporates rabid cancel culture) is essentially void compared to traditional, deeply rooted cultural values – be it Confucianism, Taoism or Eastern Orthodoxy.​..
​  ​Yet nothing will change if the global financial casino is not subverted. Russia taught the world a lesson: it was preparing itself, in silence, for a long-term Total War. So much so that its calibrated counterpunch turned the Financial War upside down – completely destabilizing the casino. China, meanwhile, is re-balancing, and is on the way to be also prepared for Total War, hybrid and otherwise.
​  ​The inestimable Michael Hudson, fresh from his latest book, The Collapse of Antiquity, where he deftly analyzes the role of debt in Greece And Rome, the roots of Western civilization, succinctly explains our current state of play:
​  ​"America has pulled a color revolution at the top, in Germany, Holland, England, and France, essentially, where the foreign policy of Europe is not representing their own economic interests (…) America simply said, - We are committed to support a war of (what they call) democracy (by which they mean oligarchy, including the Nazism of Ukraine) against autocracy (…) Autocracy is any country strong enough to prevent the emergence of a creditor oligarchy, like China has prevented the creditor oligarchy."​ ...
​..​The difference now is that Russia and China are showing to the Global South that what American strategists had in store for them – you’re going to “freeze in the dark” if you deviate from what we say – is no longer applicable. Most of the Global South is now in open geoeconomic revolt.​..
​..But the most important vector is that both China and Russia, each exhibiting their own complex particularities – and both dismissed by the West as unassimilable Others - are heavily invested in building workable economic models that are not connected, in several degrees, to the Western financial casino and/or supply chain networks. And that’s what’s driving the Exceptionalists berserk - even more berserk than they already are.

​  ​On the same day that LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's largest maker of luxury goods, reported better-than-expected first-quarter sales, led by Fashion & Leather Goods, and share price jumped to a record high, French pension protesters stormed the headquarters of the company in Paris.

​  Thanks Christine. ​French leader puts business before politics during trip to Beijing that secured big new deals for Airbus and other national firms
​  ​French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent state visit to China has been sharply criticized for its failure to deliver progress on peace in Ukraine but perhaps that wasn’t truly atop Macron’s Beijing agenda.
​  ​The high-profile trip did, however, deliver agreements to expand Airbus’ and other French companies’ business in China – a significant development for France’s economy and its independent diplomacy and a notable setback for Boeing and US efforts to hamstring China.​..
​..Macron’s entourage ​(60 business leaders signing contract deals)also included executives of Electricite de France (EDF), water and waste management specialist Suez SA, shipping company CMA CGM, rolling stock and railway equipment manufacturer Alstom, cosmetics firm L’Oréal and many others.​..
​..Macron’s visit to China and meetings with Xi annoyed many American and British commentators and media outlets. The New York Times ran a headline saying “French Diplomacy Undercuts US Efforts to Rein China In.”
​  ​The Telegraph wrote “Macron has humiliated himself – and the EU. So much for Western unity.” Foreign Policy called Macron’s trip “a Fool’s Errand.”
​  ​Perhaps it was if the main purpose was to influence China’s policy toward Russia and bring peace to Ukraine. But that’s not clearly what was on Macron’s mind in Beijing.  [Macron worked for Rothschild Bank, Paris, was made Economic Minister, then elected President in short order. He serves Rothschild interests.]​

​  There may be 10X as much "notional wealth" as "real wealth". How does finance re-correlate with reality? Losses get "assigned" to lots of people.​
  Either central banks raise rates to allegedly “kill inflation” by killing the economy and markets, or they resort to more mouse-click money and kill the currency in your wallet.
  Historically, all debt-cornered nations spur collapsing markets followed by collapsing currencies and inflation-driven social unrest. Leaders of all eras and stripes (left or right) then address this unrest with tighter, more centralized controls over our economies and lives. CBDC is a classic and modern symptom of this timeless pattern.  So is war. The current era will be no exception, as history (from ancient Rome to Chairman Mao, or Napoleon to the rise of fascist leaders of the 1930’s) offers no exception...
..There is now no easy or “soft” way out for policy makers who tricked the markets and themselves into believing that a debt crisis could be solved via more debt. In the end, the last bubble to burst is always the currency, and the USD, like every other currency, will be no exception.

​  Karl Marx  described the industrial capitalism of 1848 Europe pretty darned well, but...​
​  ​The world we live in today, of government sectors taking up a large part of the economy, setting tax policy, free trade agreements and regulation, was not a world that Marx would have seen.
​  ​Why I think this is significant, is that the 1980s saw a turn to pro-capital policy, while it recalls the globalization period we saw before World War I, the reality is that we have never seen a pro-capital era AND a large government era before. In the pre World War I period, with the notable exceptions of organizations such as the East-India Company, business and government were largely separate. It was only in reaction to the Great Depression did government policy and industry begin to work together. The pro-capital turn in policy in the US in 1980s, was not a return to neo-classical economics that existed pre 1930. It was taking the infrastructure that was pro-labor, and turning it to make it pro-capital. Any policy that promoted growth in the value of capital, and the growth of wealth was smiled upon. Free trade agreements, the opening up of capital markets, deregulation, lower tax rates, anti-union policies, immigration, lower tariffs. Privatisation of various assets with natural monopoly tendencies have also favored capital over labor. The continual extension of patent life fit into this pattern.
​  ​This trend has had two effects. Labor and wages have seen little real growth (as this would have had a negative effect on profits), and policy making has focused on raising the value of capital. Using Federal Reserve data on net worth, and comparing to GDP, we can see that net worth in the US relative to GDP has risen from 320% in the late 1970s to a peak of over 600%​  
(Debt/wealth doubled compared to "economy".)

  Consciousness of  Sheep, Counterfeit World, Part 3, Hubris
​  ​Miniaturisation and mass consumption in the twenty-first century have given the appearance of technological progress to the point that communist activists and fascistic technocrats put forward the same techno-utopia in the form of Fully Automated Luxury Communism or The Fourth Industrial Revolution – differing only in whether we mere peasants get to be ruled over by the self-identifying vanguard of the proletariat or a bunch of technocratic gauleiters led by the world’s favourite wannabee Bond villain (Klaus Schwab)​.
​..​This mismatch between the sales pitch and the reality, partly explains the political chasm which has opened up across the western states – one which largely explains the 2016 votes for Brexit and Trump – between so-called “Virtuals” and “Physicals.”  Virtuals tend to be university-educated metropolitan dwellers who spend most of their working hours in front of screens.  Physicals, in contrast, work in the kind of occupations which require getting dirt beneath one’s fingernails...
..A large part of the support for some kind of Green New Deal comes from the usual suspects in the energy and banking and finance sectors… and for much the same reason – they expect to continue to enrich themselves on government subsidies, ESG consultancies and Ponzi carbon trading.  The only surprise here being the manner in which so many self-identifying activists have taken on the role of useful idiots in promoting this final corporate feeding frenzy before Planet Earth is finally exhausted.  But for the technocratic priesthood which drives policy across the western states, the proposed non-solution to climate change is an ideologically-driven attempt to digitise the physical world out of existence… it is about using technology to replace the real world – including those pesky Physicals – altogether.  The drawback though, is that the proposed fourth industrial revolution only exists inside the heads of the kind of ungrounded Virtuals who fly into Davos on private jets to lecture the rest of us about carbon footprints.  That is, the technologies either don’t exist in the real world, or have yet to make it off the test bed.
  The give-away can be found in the absence of infrastructure...
..You may breathe a sigh of relief that Elon Musk is never going to install a computer chip in your brain.  And it is for the same reason that you can’t buy the promised fridge which automatically orders food from your local supermarket… the infrastructure doesn’t exist.  The same goes for genuinely renewable energy technologies and driverless cars.  Wannabe global Führer Herr Schwab and his followers might have wet dreams about imposing authoritarian rule over the world population using social credit scores and programmable Central Bank Digital Currencies.  But the infrastructure not only doesn’t exist, but it never will…
..The illusion – for that is all it is – which we are being sold is little more than the digital version of the eternal life that humans have pursued ever since we began to notice that our days on this planet are numbered.  It is largely a geek version of the cosmetic medicine industry’s claim to offer us – at huge cost – the façade of eternal youth...
..The same goes for the proposed Great Reset.  Not only will the digital technology fail to deliver – because what is promised won’t work in the real world – but it will destroy all that we previously had in the attempt.​   (er, grow vegetables)​

​ ​The Rising Chorus of Renewable Energy Skeptics ​:​​ ​The green techno-dream is so vastly destructive, they say, ‘we have to come up with a different plan.’
 For largely ideological reasons many greens and “transitionists” have presented the transition to renewables as a smooth road with no potholes.  In so doing they have ignored much basic geology, energy physics and even geopolitics. As a consequence many imagine the construction of millions of batteries, wind mills, solar panels, transmission lines and associated technologies, but they downplay the required intensification of mining for copper, nickel, cobalt and rare minerals you’ve probably never heard of such as dysprosium and neodymium.
  One of the great lies of modern technological society is that of endless mineral abundance. Urban consumers, who have little knowledge of energy realities underpinning their existence, have swallowed the idea that digital gadgets and automation will somehow detach society from the physical world and allow us to do more with less, leading to a dematerialization of society. 
[I feel like I’ll “dematerialize” soon enough, anyway]

  I don't mean to imply that no new technological innovation is useful, but we should consider possibilities outside of the growth paradigm and vast failure-free infrastructure networks. Solid state batteries have been worked on for decades, and are now operational. Manufacturing them is the big hurdle being undertaken. Toyota is in the lead. These should use less of limited minerals (no nickel or cobalt, for instance), not blow up, and be dependable for over 30 years or 10,000 charge cycles. Something like this could be useful for emergency power at a home or business, and with on-site solar electrical generation.

  Matt Taibbi : Meet The Censored. Me?
​  ​To this day I think he ​[Musk] ​did something incredibly important by opening up these communications for the public.
​  ​Normally when someone comes to you with a story you ask what it is they want or expect out of press coverage, both so you can understand their motives and to avoid misunderstandings later on. I asked the question, but I can’t say I ever fully understood the answer. It didn’t matter. Within a few days of seeing documents it was clear we were looking at something bigger than us, Musk, or Twitter, more or less completely obviating the motivation question as far as I was concerned.
​  ​I went into the project expecting to answer a few narrow questions, maybe about how internal content moderation worked, or if federal law enforcement made an inappropriate call or two to discourage high-profile stories. Remember, in the pre-Twitter Files world, Twitter was still denying that it shadow-banned people at all (“We do not,” they’d explained). Also, the notion that there’d been any contact at all between the FBI and a company like Facebook ahead of the Hunter Biden laptop story was a national scandal after Mark Zuckerberg blurted out something along those lines to Joe Rogan. Just one possible recommendation made headlines, let alone regimes of spreadsheet requests.
​  ​When we got into the Files, we were caught off guard. The content-policing system was more elaborate and organized than any of us imagined. A communications highway had been built linking the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence with Twitter, Facebook, Google, and a slew of other platforms. Among other things this looked more like a cartel than a competitive media landscape, and I had an uneasy feeling early on that publicizing this arrangement might create a host of unanticipated problems for everyone involved. Still, there was no question this was in the public interest. So we kept going.​..​
..We were never on the same side as Musk exactly, but there was a clear confluence of interests rooted in the fact that the same institutional villains who wanted to suppress the info in the Files also wanted to bankrupt Musk. That’s what makes the developments of the last week so disappointing. There was a natural opening to push back on the worst actors with significant public support if Musk could hold it together and at least look like he was delivering on the implied promise to return Twitter to its “free speech wing of the free speech party” roots. Instead, he stepped into another optics Punji Trap, censoring the same Twitter Files reports that initially made him a transparency folk hero.
​  ​Even more bizarre, the triggering incident revolved around Substack, a relatively small company that’s nonetheless one of the few oases of independent media and free speech left in America. In my wildest imagination I couldn’t have scripted these developments, especially my own very involuntary role.​..
​..“No way,” I thought, but other Substack writers insisted it was true: their articles were indeed being labeled, and likes and retweets of Substack pages were being prohibited.
​  ​I asked Substack co-head Hamish McKenzie what was going on. He said he wasn’t sure, but offered that they’d just announced a new “Notes program” the day before. I had to ask, “What’s that?” I had no clue what ‘Substack Notes” was:
​  ​As many unfortunately know now, my next move was to ask Elon what was going on. He didn’t answer right away, which is fine, the man is busy, but the math on this was pretty simple. Whatever was going on between Twitter and Substack had nothing to do with me or with other Substack writers, and if Twitter was going to label our work unsafe and not allow us to share my articles, I couldn’t endorse all this by using the platform, and said so. This prompted a quick ping! and a furious Signal question: “So you want Substack to kill Twitter?”​   [remainder behind paywall]​

​  Moon of Alabama (German) looks at the suspicious proliferation of new Pentagon "leak" documents, without photographs of them, and with a teenage leaker-about-the leaker. The leaker, "OG" is a gun-loving American Christian conservative patriot, presumably a middle aged white racist, who was impressing teenage boys in an invitation-only online chat group. (Familiar profile these days?)
​  ​If there is some bad blood between the military or intelligence community and the White House the whole 'leak' story may well have been placed to limit the White House's option​s​.

​  So, a deep-state schism?​
​  ​Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson says the Chinese-American financial institution Cathay Bank has given Senate Republicans records showing millions of dollars going from Chinese companies to President Biden's son Hunter Biden.​...
..​The records provided by the bank also include those from the president's brother, James Biden.
Cathay Bank has offices in Los Angeles and China.
Johnson says the bank turned over the records to him and Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley. Other banks have denied the senators' requests for the records.

​  ​First, it was the National Public Radio (or is that Ratio) that stormed off Twitter in a huff after being declared "government-funded media" (it says it right there in the company's title folks, National and Public) and now it is another Public (as in non-private) company that doesn't like being called out for what it is that has decided to make a dramatic exit stage left: the Public Broadcasting Service has followed National Public Radio in rage quitting Twitter after the social media network labeled both organizations as government-funded media.

​  ​The federal government and insurers incentivized healthcare providers in Kentucky and California to vaccinate Medicaid patients against COVID-19 by offering bonuses based on the percentage of patients successfully vaccinated.
​  ​“[This is] truly sickening and I am embarrassed for my profession by this,” Dr. Meryl Nass, an internist and biological warfare epidemiologist, wrote on her Substack, where she posted several documents relating to the COVID-19 vaccine provider incentive programs.
​  ​The documents help to draw a picture of the broader effort at the federal, state and local levels to unleash a range of strategies targeting low-income and people-of-color communities, which tended to have lower vaccination rates.

​Never Took Bribes (pictured with thriving garlic in Austin garden)

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