Friday, March 15, 2024

Steampunk Reveries


  Thanks AFKTT. A Fatally Repeated Misunderstanding , Consciousness of Sheep (What if there was never any oil?)
  In 1927, the market price of coal spiked.  As is the way with events like this, a scapegoat was easily found.  Welsh coal miners had been on strike for most of the previous year, helping to create a global shortage.  There was though, a deeper and potentially existential cause – the peak of coal-based coal production.  
​  Although oil was rapidly replacing coal as the primary energy source in the USA, the rest of the world’s economies were as dependent upon coal as they had been half-a-century before.  And even America was reliant enough on coal for the price spike to translate into an economic slowdown… which was a serious problem in an economy which had been experiencing the debt-based “roaring twenties,” during which almost everyone came to believe that the economy could only grow, and that tomorrow was bound to be better than today.
​  Economic historians remind us in lurid detail what happened next.  As the economy slowed, the value of assets fell short of expectations.  Millions of people who had borrowed to invest suddenly found themselves with assets which were worth less than the debt they needed to repay.  For a while they stuck it out, hoping that growth would return, and values would be restored.  Until, in October 1929, the big players began to cut their losses.  The Wall Street Crash turned paper millionaires into paupers overnight and paved the way for the Great Depression which saw millions of Americans – and later, millions around the world – reduced to penury.
​  The road out of depression was far worse, involving global industrial warfare which decimated cities and economies, leaving more than 80 million corpses in its wake… but the US arms industry had a good war.  And sadly, among the wealthy and the powerful, the erroneous conclusion that “war is good” was easily drawn.
​  Behind the awakening of the sleeping giant that was the industrial USA, though, lay oil.  Without the oil to power the tanks and aeroplanes and ships and trucks, the allies could not have prevailed.  Indeed, it is a measure of the power of oil that the USA was able to simultaneously fight four campaigns – Central Pacific, Southwest Pacific, North Africa-Italy, and Northwest Europe – against three enemies – Japan, Italy, and Germany – while having sufficient excess industrial capacity to provide essential supplies to its allies – Britain, the Soviet Union, and later France.
​  Insofar as there was a post-war boom, it was the result of the old, coal-powered economies of Europe, Japan and South Korea using US dollars to fund the transition to oil – a process that is still within living memory.  In the two decades 1953 to 1973, the world witnessed more economic growth and trade than had occurred in the previous 150 years of the coal age – creating a modern world which increasing numbers of us realise is already past its peak.
​    So, here’s a thought experiment – what would have happened in the 1930s if there was no such thing as oil?
​  First, although the least understood, is that productivity would have slumped across the industrialised economies as the coal which powered the machinery became harder and more expensive to obtain.  Gradually, processes which had been automated would become labour intensive again.  International, and even inter-regional trade and transportation would become harder to maintain, forcing a re-localisation of the economy.  And ultimately, this economic slowdown would result in everybody becoming poorer (even if some became poorer than others).
​  Government – which more often messes things up than makes them better – would undoubtedly fail, as orthodox economic policy not only failed to restore prosperity but appeared to make things worse.  This, in turn, would lead to the growth of unorthodox political ideas and the arrival of demagogic leaders who promised to make countries great again… but absent an energy source more powerful than the fast-depleting coal, even the most benign dictators would fail to deliver any kind of new deal to turn things around.
​  Elected politicians would also struggle to overcome the vested interests in the permanent state and the wider corporate ownership class, which would only allow for policies which did not threaten their own prosperity.  The likely result would be a downward dumping which attempted to make the poorest people take the greatest hit to their prosperity.  A new lower class, living in precarious conditions would likely emerge, trading labour for food and shelter rather than the monetary wages of the earlier age… a “precariat,” if you will.  Ultimately though, much of the nominal wealth of the elites – government bonds, corporate shares, numbers in bank accounts, etc., – would be rendered worthless by a collapsing economy that has no pathway to sustainability, still less economic growth.
​  In the end, most of the corporate elite would probably be dispossessed as one or other version of collectivism rose to power in a last-ditch effort to restore the broad prosperity of the earlier age.  But without the energy to make things happen, even the brutality of a Stalin, a Mussolini, or a Hitler could only preside over a further collapse and a slide back to the agrarian localism of a much earlier age.​  
[There is no "sliding back"​ now, if you think about it.]
​  But, of course, the oil was there… in vast quantities.  And its raw power propelled the USA and its allies to victory in the war and created the conditions for the unprecedented post-war boom… the “normal” that we have been somehow failing to get back to since the 1970s.
​  Despite its apparently small increased power compared to coal – around 10 megajoules per kilogram – the additional power provided by oil shaped the modern world.  But its high points – sending men to the Moon, commercial supersonic flight, transplant surgery, microprocessors, etc., – are half a century or so behind us.  Indeed, look closely enough and you will probably notice that a good deal of the built environment from those days is falling apart.
​  Oil, it turns out, came with the same issues as coal.  It is a finite resource (at least on any practical timescale) which has been developed on a “low-hanging fruit” basis… starting with the cheapest and easiest deposits then moving on to the difficult and expensive.  And yet all the while being expected to meet the demands of a rapacious debt-based financial system for permanent economic growth.  So that each additional unit of energy that has to be invested in recovering the more energy-expensive oil is a unit of energy no longer available to be converted into profit and interest repayment by the corporations and the banks.
​  Notice too, that the economic landscape today has a certain resonance with the coal depression of the 1930s… remembering that history rhymes rather than repeats.  Doesn’t the gig economy look a lot like those lines of unemployed people desperate to find any kind of work?  Aren’t the tent cities that are now commonplace (if hidden for cosmetic reasons) in almost every western city very similar to the shanty housing of the depression era?  Might foodbanks be a modern iteration of the charity soup kitchens of the 1930s?
​  The political leaders and captains of industry of the coal age might be forgiven to some extent for their failure to understand the central position of coal to their way of life.  Then, as now, a few Cassandras– like William Stanley Jevons in The Coal Question – understood that in consuming its coal at an ever-faster rate, the British Empire was ultimately bringing about its own demise.  But most of the economists of the day blithely promised that as one coal deposit depleted another would be found… and, indeed, with the development of oil-powered machinery, previously unrecoverable coal was eventually produced.
​  In this sense though, the obvious absence of an alternative to oil should have been a cause for concern from the outset.  Indeed, in the immediate post-war years it had been possible to accurately predict the peak of continental US oil production based upon a 40-year lag between the discovery of an oil field and the peak of its productivity.  Since peak oil discovery in the USA was in the early-1930s, the peak of US production should have arrived around 1970-71… which it did.  And since the peak of world oil discovery was in 1964, it followed that the peak of world production would be in 2004-05… which it was.
​  As happened in 1927 with coal, the 2005 peak in conventional oil production created the same price spike which fed through to general price rises across the economy.  This time, aided by the fumbling incompetence of central bankers, rising interest rates were added to the mix.  But the result was the same – a banking and finance crash followed by a depression that we have never recovered from.  Indeed, the only reason that we witnessed even the anaemic growth of the 2010s was the American so-called “fracking miracle.”
​  It wasn’t really a miracle though.  Both the discovery of the shale plays and the invention of the fracking technology had occurred decades before the 2008 crash.  The reason the shale plays remained undeveloped was down to cost.  With oil prices in the 30 to 50-dollar-a-barrel range there was no way fracked shale oil could turn a profit.  But the oil peak of 2005, along with the post-2008 financial landscape changed that.
​  World oil prices exceeded $100-per-barrel either side of the crash, prompting economists to predict $200-per-barrel oil in the 2010s.  Suddenly, fracking looked like a good bet for investors.  And this was aided by the low-growth, low-interest environment following the crash.  The return on safe investments was negative once inflation was taken into account.  And even riskier dabbling in the stock and bond markets brought relatively small returns.  For the investment chancer looking to make a quick fortune, junk bonds were the only game in town.  And the best junk bonds on the market were the bonds offered by the fracking companies.
​  The fracking experiment taught us another important lesson… if only we had heeded it.  $100-a-barrel oil (at 2008 values) turned out to be unsustainable.  As businesses and households adjusted their spending to account for the higher oil price, discretionary sectors of the economy slumped.  With less economic activity following reduced discretionary spending, demand for oil slumped… as it happened, just at the point when millions of barrels of fracked oil were arriving on the market.  The oil price slumped.  And with the exception of a few companies drilling in a handful of “sweet spots,” the fracking companies went bust.
​  Far from the establishment media’s “Saudi America,” and the “century of energy independence,” the hydraulic fracturing of the North American shale plays bought us an additional decade of oil production growth.  But with no serious replacement on the table, that decade would have been best used to mitigate the inevitable economic shrinking and disintegration that is now washing over us.  American, and global oil production finally peaked in November 2018.  By the middle of 2019, the global economy was entering a recession – although this was overtaken by the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, followed by the insane attempt at economic warfare with one of the most resource-rich states on the planet.  So that even now, in the midst of a global energy crisis and a gathering globally-synchronised recession, establishment politicians, economists, and media seem oblivious to the energy shortages which are driving us to ruin.
​  Maybe it was inevitable.  A species which seemingly evolved to deny death and despair was able to treat oil reserves which it knew to be finite and consume them as if they would last forever… or at least until clever people somewhere else came up with an alternative.  And yet even after global peak conventional oil had sent the global economy into a death spiral, we somehow managed to pretend all would turn out well, and that the final recoverable deposits of unconventional oil would somehow be infinite.
​  How different might the post-war years – or even the last 16 years – have been if we had treated cheap oil as the temporary gift that we should have understood it to be?

​  U.S. Drivers Warned to Brace For Jump in Gasoline Prices
“There is every reason to believe gasoline prices will screech even higher going forward​.

​  Israel’s Security Chief Cheers Killing of Palestinian Child
Twelve-year-old Rami al-Halhouli was fatally shot while playing with fireworks in a Jerusalem refugee camp
​  Ben-Gvir claimed the border officer “shot a terrorist” who had tried to “use firecrackers” against Israeli forces the night prior, arguing the guard did “exactly what was expected of him” in executing the unarmed preteen.
​  “I salute the soldier who killed the terrorist who tried to shoot fireworks at him and the troops. This is exactly how you should act against terrorists – with determination and precision,” he added in another post.

Israel killed more children in Gaza in last 5 months than all conflicts worldwide for last 4 years: UN rapporteur
'Destroying a population from its roots. Genocide is a process, not an act, and what is happening in Gaza is a tragedy foretold,' says Francesca Albanese

Israel To Move Civilians to ‘Humanitarian Islands’ Before Invasion​  [This forced dislocation is also a war crime.]
Tel Aviv claims it will move the 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering in Rafah to other areas of the Strip, then attack the city.

​  The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) food distribution center in Gaza was hit by an Israeli airstrike, killing five. The bombing of the facility is the latest in a series of Israeli attacks on food distribution in Gaza. The Israeli military operations in Gaza and restrictions on aid entering the Strip have placed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on the brink of starvation.
​  Witnesses, Gazan health officials, and the UN reported that Israel attacked the UNRWA warehouse in Rafah on Wednesday, killing five people, including one UNRWA worker. Officials reported that scores were injured in the attack without providing a number. The Israeli onslaught in Gaza has had a massive impact on aid workers.
​  One Palestinian in Rafah said the attack was particularly concerning because UNRWA sites are generally considered safer. “It’s a UNRWA center, expected to be secure,” one resident said. Over the past five months, 165 UNRWA workers have been killed, and over 150 of the agency’s buildings in Gaza have been hit.

​  War on Gaza: Over 20 killed in new massacre of Palestinians waiting for ai​d , Israeli helicopters fired on crowd of thousands waiting to receive aid
At least 20 Palestinians were killed and over 100 wounded by Israeli fire on Thursday evening while they were awaiting aid in northern Gaza, eyewitnesses have said.
​  The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said that 20 dead bodies and 155 wounded people have arrived at al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza alone. It said that it is working to retrieve more dead bodies.
​  The ministry added that it expects the death toll to rise because of "the seriousness of the injuries" of individuals reaching Gaza's hospitals.

​  MIT student group facing threats of expulsion for supporting Palestine​   [This is serious. They are ​upholding apartheid against an African woman-of-color.]
​  The President of the Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA), Safiyyah Ogundipe, said that the University administration is trying to silence actions supporting Palestine with disciplinary investigations and threats of expulsion.
​  Ogundipe told Anadolu that she evaluated the banning of support demonstrations for Palestine and attempts by administrators to silence students, especially at MIT and other US universities.
​  The senior chemical engineering major said CAA emerged as an activism movement against the apartheid regime based on racial discrimination in South Africa in the past and, today, it takes a stance against Israel’s illegal interventions against Palestine.​..
..She said, at MIT, there were several sponsored research projects funded by the Israeli Defence Ministry and through the Anti-Apartheid Scientists campaign launched in December. CAA urged students and staff to withdraw from companies and research projects complicit in Israeli apartheid, Occupation and genocide...
​..She expressed that CAA at MIT organised protests in response to Israel’s actions, including the bombings in Rafah resulting in casualties. It called on MIT to sever ties with Israeli forces.
​  As a result, CAA received a warning letter, was suspended and its leaders faced threats of expulsion and bans from leading unauthorised demonstrations. Expulsion from MIT was threatened for further rule violations.
​  Ogundipe said MIT Chancellor, Sally Kornbluth, swiftly announced in a video that CAA was expelled from the school.

​  Italian defense minister says Rome suspended weapons supplies to Israel
​  Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said Rome did not supply weapons to Israel after October 7, 2023.​  "After October 7, there were no new authorizations from the relevant organization to transfer weapons to Israel, which led to the suspension of deliveries. The licenses that had been issued before October 7 were already mostly implemented," the minister said at the parliament.
​  He also said that shipments that had been authorized but not implemented before said date were re-examined to make sure that "the list does not contain materials that, if used, could affect the residents of the Gaza Strip."

​  The Russian military police have set up an additional checkpoint as part of their monitoring effort at the disengagement line separating the forces of Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights, the deputy chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria (a division of the Russian defense ministry) said.
​  "As part of the effort to monitor the situation at the Bravo disengagement line separating the armed forces of Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic in the Golan Heights, an additional checkpoint of the Russian military police has been created," Rear Adm. Vadim Kulit said.

​  Houthis Go Hypersonic? How Ansar Allah’s Advance in Missile Tech Could Trigger US Defeat in Mideast
​  A military source close to Yemen’s Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement has informed Sputnik that the militia has carried out a successful test flight of a hypersonic missile and is preparing to add it into its arsenal.

​  US Rejects Russian Ceasefire Proposal for Ukraine
CIA Director William Burns warned that the US is running out of time to support Ukraine
​  Russia’s attempt to broker a ceasefire in Ukraine, along the current lines of control, was met with a firm rejection in Washington. US officials reiterated their stance, stating that they would only engage in talks with Moscow with Kiev’s consent.
​  According to Reuters, in late 2023 and early 2024, Russian intermediaries reached out to US officials seeking to establish a ceasefire. The Kremlin was hoping to freeze the fighting along the current lines of control. “The contacts with the Americans came to nothing,” an unnamed senior Russian official told the outlet.
​  Russian officials said some progress was made, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan agreed to a call with his counterpart in the Kremlin. Putin’s adviser, Yuri Ushakov, suggested the idea of a ceasefire to Sullivan, but Sullivan refused to talk about Ukraine.

​  The Russian aerospace forces successfully attacked the assembly lines of unmanned kamikaze boats "Magura-V5" and "Sea Baby" in the port of Odessa using Kh-59MK2 cruise missiles, considered one of the most difficult to detect weapons.

​  Scenario for Military Takeover of Ukrainian Parliament Was Written by US - Expert
"This could be a scenario of replacing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky without holding elections," Alexander Dudchak, researcher at the Institute of CIS Countries and expert of the ‘Other Ukraine’ movement, told Sputnik.

  ​Eleni sends this from Andrew Korybko:  NATO Has Secret Agenda for Troops In Ukraine [Denying Ukrainian assets/collateral to global corporations might shorten this war.]
​  Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned about the impending partition of Ukraine. According to her, “All these statements that Macron and other NATO politicians make, about the possibility of introducing contingents or some kind of paramilitary units into the territory of Ukraine, are related to the partition of what they see as the remnants of Ukraine…They are ready to occupy and partition Ukraine.” What she didn’t mention, however, is that this will likely be an asymmetrical partition.
​  Instead of Ukraine’s neighbors officially divvying it up like former President and incumbent Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev suggested via the map that he recently spoke in front of, NATO states are unlikely to formally reincorporate their lost lands. Rather, what’s more likely to happen in the event that they form a “coalition of the willing” to conventionally intervene there is that they’ll carve out “spheres of influences” on the pretext of protecting their “strategic borders”...
​..The end effect would be to formally preserve Ukrainian statehood per the West’s officially stated objective that “justifies” their proxy war against Russia through that former Soviet Republic while nevertheless asymmetrically partitioning it into “spheres of economic influence” per the Davos agenda. It’s also possible that with time some of Ukraine’s western neighbors like Poland might consider entering into a “confederation’ with the adjacent region under their control but that’s still a far-fetched scenario.
​  Their taxpayers could be stuck with the bill for reconstructing those formerly Ukrainian regions, plus the locals would become citizens with equal rights (including voting ones), which those countries’ people might firmly oppose and therefore potentially rebel against. It’s much less economically and politically costly to simply siphon wealth from those regions in exchange for limited security support than to constitutionally enshrine enduring economic, political, and security rights to their locals for prestige.  
​  For these reasons, while Zakharova is likely correct in assessing that plans are afoot for partitioning Ukraine depending on several situational variables (e.g. the conflict’s military-strategic dynamics and domestic politics like in Poland’s case), everything probably wouldn’t unfold like the public imagines. Asymmetrical partition between Ukraine’s western neighbors into “spheres of economic influence” alongside a de facto Korean-like partition between NATO and Russia is much more foreseeable.

​  Medvedev responds to Zelensky ‘peace plan’​  [Crashing western finance by withdrawing Ukrainian collateral is my best advice to Russia.]
The senior Russian official has proposed a “soft” alternative that would see Ukraine absorbed by his country
A “reasonable” peace agreement with Ukraine would involve Moscow taking full control over the country, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has claimed.

​  Macron comments on Trump presidency​  [Depends on what the meaning of "is" is, doesn't it?]
The Republican candidate may not get a chance to deliver on his promise to resolve the Ukrainian conflict, the French leader believes
​  Noting Macron’s reluctance to engage in direct communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the interviewers wondered if the United States could potentially mediate such talks, especially if Donald Trump is reelected.
​  “As far as I’m informed, I don’t think Donald Trump is President of the United States,” the French leader claimed, adding that he works with the leaders he gets.
​  At the same time Macron said there was “nothing personal” behind his decision to refrain from dialogue with Putin. “Undoubtedly, I am the head of the state that used to talk to him more than anyone else.”

​  Boeing Whistleblower: ‘If Anything Happens to Me, It’s Not Suicide’
​  The Boeing whistleblower who supposedly killed himself reportedly told a close family friend not to believe it if it was announced he had committed suicide.
62-year-old John Barnett died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Charleston County coroner’s office in South Carolina said earlier this week.
​  Barnett had previously raised concerns about the company’s production issues having worked for the company for 32 years before leaving in 2017.
​  According to his attorneys, Barnett had “exposed very serious safety problems with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and was retaliated against and subjected to a hostile work environment” and was in the middle of a legal deposition against Boeing.
​  “He was in very good spirits and really looking forward to putting this phase of his life behind him and moving on. We didn’t see any indication he would take his own life. No one can believe it,” said the attorneys.

​  Whistleblower Targeted After Exposing 973% SURGE in Heart Failure Among Navy Pilots
​  A United States Navy medic who blew the whistle on an explosive report showing a massive increase in heart issues among military pilots has been blocked by the Department of Defense (DOD) from accessing his work computer.
​  Navy Medical Service Corps Lt. Ted Macie shared shocking information about the surge in heart failure among military personnel.
Macie claimed that members of the U.S. military have experienced massive increases in heart-related issues, presenting Defense Department data showing the following:
​  937% increase in heart failure
​  152% increase in cardiomyopathy
​  69% increase in ischemic heart disease
​  36% increase in hypertensive disease
​  63% increase in other forms of heart disease

​  Martin Armstrong,  Canada to Incorporate Social Scores in Banking
​  Open Banking Excellence, a World Bank partner that originated in the UK, claims that it will host all of a bank’s relevant needs in one place. The organization, which has reached 40 countries, aims to “create exceptional platforms and content that promotes knowledge sharing, new thinking and partnerships within the industry – catalysing the adoption of Open Finance and Data for better financial inclusion worldwide.”...
​  “It’s about having that fairer, more inclusive, more open society,” said Helen Child, founder of Open Banking Excellence. Open Society, well, that does sound familiar. Why is there a need for inclusivity and fairness in banking when it should come down to numbers? “It drives financial inclusion,” she added, “It’s democratizing data.”​...
​..Look at what happened to Nigel Farage. He never committed a crime or did anything to warrant what many have called the “Farage fiasco.” Nigel was suddenly debanked by Coutts and was unable to access any of his checking or savings accounts. His credit cards were deactivated. He was unable to participate in society without a moment’s notice.
​  Farage did his due diligence and found that there were countless people who experienced the same financial attack carried out by the banks on behalf of the government.
​  This is a widespread phenomenon. We saw it happening commonly during COVID lockdowns, where users were not permitted to access places if their digital COVID passports failed. In China, when banks were facing a liquidity crisis, the CCP simply denied depositors the right to access their money and blocked them from physically accessing their banks. The government successfully prevented a bank run. We saw a few celebrities debanked from the system for voicing unpopular opinions without any legal proceedings or crimes committed.

What’s Inside Trudeau’s ‘Orwellian’ Speech Law Threatening Jail Time for Thought Crimes?

​  ‘Stunning Admission’: Widely Used HPV Vaccine Linked to 4 Autoimmune Disorders
A study comparing nearly 2 million vaccinated and unvaccinated adolescent girls over 10 years found the girls vaccinated with a quadrivalent HPV vaccine were 4.4 times more likely than their unvaccinated counterparts to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

​Peter McCullough MD, CDC Not Investigating Chronic Disease Epidemics Linked to Childhood Vaccines

​  US -Death Trends for Neoplasms ICD codes: C00-D48, Ages 15-44​ , David M. Wiseman
​  In this study we investigate trends in death rates from neoplasms (ICD-10 codes C00-D48) in the USA using crude data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). We limit our investigation to individuals aged 15 to 44 and for the period of 2010 to 2022. We investigate both trends in neoplasms where these appear on multiple causes (MC) of death, or as the underlying cause (UC), as well as the trends in the ratio of multiple cause to underlying cause death rates. Using different metrics, we compare mortality trends due to neoplasms before the COVID-19 pandemic with the pandemic period. We show a rise in excess mortality from neoplasms reported as underlying cause of death, which started in 2020 (1.7%) and accelerated substantially in 2021 (5.6%) and 2022 (7.9%). The increase in excess mortality in both 2021 (Z-score of 11.8) and 2022 (Z-score of 16.5) are highly statistically significant (extreme events).

​Trending Towards Death (pictured replanting black beans in a bird-pecked row)

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