Tuesday, February 20, 2018


News Links, February 21, 2018

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
"Blockchain" Stocks Completely Disintegrate
With the close of the games this weekend approaching, some worry that the Olympics will instead saddle the region with a legacy of massive debt and the perpetual maintenance of a handful of hugely expensive venues that no one knows what to do with.

## War on cash/cashless society ##
Airfares could soar if airlines alter safety evacuations
Airfares would treble if airlines were forced to reduce passenger numbers to meet the reality of the evacuation of an aircraft in an emergency.

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Philippines: Risks rising with China challenging US at sea
Mutually Assured Contempt at 2018 Munich Security Conference
The 2018 Munich Security Conference continued the trend of promoting a New Cold War while diplomats openly disparaged Russia and fretted over the Trump presidency.

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
US protesters rally outside White House for gun control
Mines Linked to Child Labor Are Thriving in Rush for Car Batteries
The appetite for electric cars is driving a boom in small-scale cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where some mines have been found to be dangerous and employ child labor.
Reliance on high-tech and non-solar energy inputs will ultimately doom such efforts. And there will never be 10 billion people on the planet. Famine, war, and disease will see to that. -- RF

Drinking alcohol plays role in living past 90, researchers say
Researchers report that a long-term survey found moderate coffee consumption, not being obese, moderate exercise -- and a drink or two -- were common among participants living past age 90.

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Kim Dotcom: "Let Me Assure You, The DNC Hack Wasn't Even A Hack"
Dotcom tweeted "Let me assure you, the DNC hack wasn't even a hack. It was an insider with a memory stick. I know this because I know who did it and why," adding "Special Counsel Mueller is not interested in my evidence. My lawyers wrote to him twice. He never replied."
Former British diplomat Craig Murray also claimed from the outset that it was a leak, not a hack, and that he knows the leaker's identity. He too has never been contacted by US investigators. -- RF
Take off the terrorist's mask, and it's the CIA. Take off the revolutionary's mask, and it's the CIA. Take off the Hollywood producer's mask, and it's the CIA. Take off the billionaire tech plutocrat's mask, and it's the CIA. Take off the news man's mask, and guess what? It's the [bleep] CIA.

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
The beauty in Robert Mueller's indictment of thirteen Russian Facebook trolls is that they'll never face trial, so Mr. Mueller will never have to prove his case.

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Fat, unhealthy Americans threaten Trump's defense surge
Nearly three-quarters of Americans age 17 to 24 are ineligible for the military due to obesity, other health problems, criminal backgrounds or lack of education, according to government data.
Brain drain leaves Balkan nations on more uneven footing
Abe seeks more stimulus to keep economy humming beyond Olympics
Japanese prime minister aims to spur consumption and infrastructure investment
China ensnares vulnerable states in a debt trap
Cheap credits are used to secure influence and grab control of strategic assets
Not that China discovered this method... -- RF

## UK ##
'Much work needed' to make digital economy environmentally sustainable
MPs cast doubt on whether energy efficiency gains can keep offsetting rising power demand
KFC branches in UK forced to close because of chicken shortage

## US ##
Since Standing Rock, 56 Bills Have Been Introduced in 30 States to Restrict Protests
In the year since the last activists were evicted, the crackdown on journalists and activists has only intensified.
US Treasury Posts Gigantic $1.16 Trillion Shortfall in Fiscal 2017, Hilariously Points out "Where We Are Headed"
Just add tax cuts and ballooning expenditures. The media chose to silence the report to death.
The luxury market is largely overbuilt, while there is a shortage of affordable rental housing, and developers are hamstrung by the now record-high cost of construction.
The real problem facing the military is not a lack of funding. It's overuse.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


News Links, February 19, 2018

Singapore seen hiking GST for first time in over a decade
Government says it needs revenue boost to pay for ageing population
This Nation investigation documents how Buffett's massive wealth has actually been built: on monopoly power and the unfair advantages it provides. Companies in Buffett's portfolio have extorted windfall profits, evaded US taxes, and abused customers.
As bad as the damage done so far has been, the real pain has not yet begun.
ASEAN labor flows hit a wall with growing migrant crackdown
Malaysia and Thailand left short-handed as foreigners leave en masse
Our Approaching Winter of Discontent
The tragedy is so few act when the collapse is predictably inevitable, but not yet manifesting in daily life. That chill you feel in the financial weather presages an unprecedented--and for most people, unexpectedly severe--winter of discontent. Rather than sugarcoat what's coming, let's speak plainly for a change: none of the promises that have been made to you will be kept.
Duterte offers kill bounty for rebels to save on war costs
Ultimately, governments will either outlaw or control cryptocurrencies. Unless power grids and the internet crash first.  -- RF

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
AI warfare is coming, and some global leaders say NATO isn't ready
Philippines seethes over Chinese build-up in South China Sea
President Rodrigo Duterte has tried to thaw ties with Beijing, but public pressure is growing to take a tougher stance to defend the nation's maritime claims
Iran to help India make an end-run around China and Pakistan
Nine deals signed; Chabahar port will give India access to Central Asia
The real problem here is Israel's nuclear arsenal. Imposing concerted international sanctions on Israel to make it give up its nuclear weapons is the only possible way to remove Iran's motivation for developing its own nuclear weapons. -- RF
Top German diplomat: 'We no longer recognize our America'
Germany's foreign minister slammed the "America first" approach of President Donald Trump's administration Saturday, saying that close U.S. ties with a strong European Union are as much in Washington's interest as they are in Europe's.

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Ethiopian Cabinet declares state of emergency after protests force prime minister's resignation

## Energy/resources ##
Argentina Is On The Cusp Of A Shale Boom
Fantastic! Or is it? The shale oil industry has stubbornly resisted profitability in the US, so there's little reason to expect profits in any other country. -- RF
Saudi Arabia plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 to 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion.
Too many humans. -- RF

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
In which case the Russians could legitimately claim they are meddling "for America's own good." At any rate, there is nothing really new in the indictment except names. The whole thing is blown completely out of proportion, especially considering that Uncle Sam has a rap sheet as long as your arm. Before jumping on the Russians, America needs to take the log out of its own eye.  -- RF
Spending by the Russians is small potatoes when compared to US. -- RF
The irony that is most gagging is that America's power elite is destroying the nation's social order by its concentration of wealth and abuse of power, yet this power elite claims a handful of social media sites undermined our democracy. How pathetic is that?
The inimitable and eloquent Charles Hugh Smith with well-worth-reading commentary on Russiagate. The real purpose of Russiagate is to blame the Russians for America's homegrown problems. -- RF
Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's indictment on Friday of 13 Russian nationals who allegedly attempted to "sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election" can be seen as the culmination of the intelligence community's efforts to ferret out trolls engaging in "Information Operations" against the United States. But in some cases, this may be the product of the West's own Information Operations – often utilizing private "intelligence" companies, or "spies for hire."
Canada's SOPA moment: Canadian telco giants pushing for site blocking without court orders
Puts the "crazy" claims of the Iranians into perspective. -- RF
Yet Another Year of Magical Thinking (James Kunstler)

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Even Matthew Rosenberg, the Times reporter who wrote the story, described it as "a really weird one" in an interview with Slate. More than merely weird, however, the piece offers valuable insight into the parallel universe that is Russiagate, one in which logic is absent, neo-McCarthyism is rampant, and evidence means whatever the corporate press wants it to mean.
Anti-Trumpists Use Mueller Indictments to Escalate Tensions With Nuclear-Armed Russia
U.S. empire loyalists are so close to telling the truth when they babble about "Russian propaganda." They are openly admitting that it is wrong to use media to manipulate the ways that Americans think and vote. Now all we need is for them to admit that they themselves do this constantly, and we'll be on the right track.
The rough beast born of the marriage between Omidyar's funds and the yearning for freedom that surrounded the release of the Snowden Files cannot help but spiral towards its inevitable fate.

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Failing crops, land clearance for industrial agriculture, quarrying, mining, deforestation, dam building and other forms of land grabbing by private corporations are the ugly progeny of globalisation now assaulting the rural poor.
The article also touches upon the resource-gobbling and waste-spewing nature of cities. Any way you look at it, the answer to the question is "no." But I have warned about this time and again. The cities will collapse, and the maxim "the bigger they are, the harder they fall" applies to the cities in spades. -- RF
Nearly two-thirds of Japanese loans carry rates below 1%
BOJ's negative rates undercut lenders' core business
Retirement? Fuhgeddaboudit! People once retired at age 55, but the retirement age has gradually risen in conjunction with net energy decline. For many people around the world, there is already no retirement. -- RF
Japan's famed hot springs called on to share the steam
Government getting serious about geothermal power generation
The idea is egregiously misguided, and a waste of precious wood. As cities — especially big cities — undergo the transition into hellholes, all tall buildings will become unusable. -- RF

## China ##
Mapping out China's Belt and Road Initiative
Here too we see that many Chinese cite "economic reasons" for not having a second child. Already at China's current stage of development, the amount of energy needed to raise a child is soaring. -- RF

## US ##
America: a Military Nation
Americans like to think of their country as different from those run by military regimes. They are only fooling themselves. Ever since the federal government was converted into a national-security state after World War II (without a constitutional amendment authorizing the conversion), it has been the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA that have run the government, just like in countries governed by military dictatorships.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


News Links, February 16, 2018

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
City of London financiers contemplate "imminent" 2018 US stock market crash of up to "50%"
Coming dramatic decline of US stock prices would trigger global recession, finds grim forecast to be explored at roundtable hosted by British financial services think-tank

Airlines Find Some Bad Habits Are Hard to Break
Look for carriers to continue a pattern of adding too much capacity, leading to fare wars and bankruptcies.
The next airline IT outage could happen at any time – are you prepared?

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
US, Germany likely home to new NATO commands
The United States and Germany have volunteered to host the two new commands being set up by NATO, part of a broader change in NATO's structure that could see over 1,000 new personnel added to the alliance headquarters staff.
Regime Change Fails: Is A Military Coup or Invasion of Venezuela Next?
The U.S. has employed all of its regime change tools in Venezuela and although so far they have failed, there is still a chance that a military attack is in store.
If this isn't meddling in the affairs of another country, I don't know what is. -- RF
Al Nusra, White Helmets may be plotting chemical weapons attack in Syria, military warns
Animosity Toward US Brings Turkey, Russia, and Iran Together for Summit on Syria
The leadership of Turkey, Iran, and Russia have all agreed to attend an upcoming summit in Istanbul on the topic of Syria, with the date for the meeting to be decided soon. Looming large over this is US relations.
Iraqi allies pledge $30B to rebuild country
Iraq needs $88.2 billion to rebuild in wake of war against ISIS, minister says

## Energy/resources ##
Philippines, China To work Out How To Tap Oil, Gas That Both Sides Claim
The Philippines and China have agreed to set up a special panel to work out how they can jointly explore oil and gas in part of the South China Sea that both sides lay claim without having to address the explosive issue of sovereignty.

No matter what government says this, it's all a bunch of slick sloganeering. When industrial civilization collapses and the human population is reduced to a fraction of its current size, we'll have "ecological civilization." -- RF

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
This sounds almost as silly as some of the preposterous Russia-gate nonsense and other cockamamie conspiracy theories coming out of Washington. -- RF
Maybe Better If You Don't Read This Story on Public WiFi
We took a hacker to a café and, in 20 minutes, he knew where everyone else was born, what schools they attended, and the last five things they googled.

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
New York Times Promotes White Capitalist View in South Africa
Why press freedom is at risk across Southeast Asia
News outlets from the Philippines to Myanmar face growing threats

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
The Ghosts of 1968
The hope of 1968 that public demonstrations can actually change the power structure has been lost.

## Japan ##
U.N. nuclear agency to help Japan for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced Thursday that it will help Japan in "enhancing nuclear security measures" for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Japan Core Machine Orders Plummet 11.9% In December
A "near-Arctic" state? Governments come up with crazy and laughably absurd ideas to justify their land and resource grabs. -- RF

## US ##
How come we always hear about "Russian oligarchs" but not about the American pantheon? -- RF
Trump reportedly endorses 25-cent hike in gas tax to pay for infrastructure plan

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