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.

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