Sunday, February 17, 2019

 

News Links, February 18, 2019

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Why Many Of Today's Most-Owned Stocks Are Ponzi Schemes
Former financier and current statistician Tan Liu, author of the recent book The Ponzi Factor: The Simple Truth About Investment Profits explains how many of today's perpetually dividend-less companies traded on the public market are operating as ponzi schemes by definition. As a result, a substantial amount of the market capitalization of our stock market is actually "phantom wealth" that doesn't truly exist. It will vaporize during the next financial crisis as investors proiritize cash flows in-hand over the promises of starry-eyed CEOs.
Industrial Production Dives, Wiping Out a Strong December and Then Some (US)
Qatar's real estate market faces reality check ahead of World Cup
Qatar's Doha Tower, a spike-tipped cylinder that glows orange at night, won an award when finished in 2012 amid a Gulf-wide real estate boom, but today about half of its 46 floors are empty.


## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
New hot spot boils in the South China Sea
IDF Conducts Massive Exercise To "Simulate Conditions Of War With Hezbollah"
Russia Touts "Unlimited Range" Of New Nuclear Cruise Missile As INF Unravels
War kills over 100,000 babies a year: Save the Children
If the US has to threaten its allies to make them fall into line, how is that a "free world"? -- RF
You could trace the divisions through the hands that were and were not clapping during Vice President Mike Pence's address to a hall packed with some 600 delegates including presidents, prime ministers and defense ministers on Saturday. Pence claimed a renewed U.S. leadership under President Donald Trump to a scattering of applause from mainly U.S. officials.
As trade, policy, and economic problems continue leaking into defense, NATO will be further weakened, and it's facing the same ultimate fate as the EU: breakup. -- RF
US Arrogance on Iran: Trump's "Coalition of the Unwilling and Openly Coerced"
Vice President Mike Pence demanded the EU quit the Iran accord. EU leaders politely told Pence to go to hell.

## Migrants/refugees ##
Panama to build migrant shelter as hundreds of Cubans enter
Panama's government says it will build a migrant shelter on its southern border with Colombia, after the latest wave of migrants crossed into the country.

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Militants Threaten Attacks On Nigeria's Oil If President Is Re-elected
School students blocked Westminster Bridge in central London for more than four hours today as part of a national day of action to demand the Government tackle climate change.
French police fire tear gas as latest 'yellow vest' protests turn violent
Whether it happens or not, people need to resign themselves to a far lower standard of living. -- RF
The low energy returns of biofuels make them unable to maintain industrial civilization. In fact, biofuels illustrate well the fundamental difference between fossil fuels and renewables. Fossil fuels are biofuels created by natural processes. Nature did almost all the work for us, enabling humans to get by with a very modest energy input, and a correspondingly huge energy surplus that made industrial civilization possible. By contrast, biofuels (and other renewables) require humans to do all the work themselves. Our energy input is very large, thereby leaving only a modest energy surplus, if there is any surplus at all (if we tried to power the whole biofuel production process with biofuels themselves, the whole system would fall apart). Proponents of renewable energy are doing us all a great disservice by insisting that renewables will enable us to continue our extravagant lifestyles. -- RF
No word on cost, but the need for storage makes the electricity more expensive. Of course, storage will likely get cheaper, but it will never be free. It's another nail in the coffin of an extravagant future powered by renewables. -- RF

Ain't gonna happen. -- RF

## Solutions ##
Sometimes the Best Solution Is To Leave Things As They Are

## Environment/health ##
Monster mudslides, water rescues as storm punishes California
New treaty bans commercial fishing in the Arctic for 16 years
The European Union and nine other countries, including the US and Russia, approved an international agreement on Thursday (14 February) that will prohibit commercial vessels from fishing in the Arctic in order to preserve the region's fragile ecosystem.

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Will you support genocide in Venezuela?: Congress member Ilhan Omar challenges notorious coup-monger Elliott Abrams
Why The DNC Was Not Hacked By The Russians (William Binney and Larry Johnson)
The FBI, CIA and NSA claim that the DNC emails published by WIKILEAKS on July 26, 2016 were obtained via a Russian hack, but more than three years after the alleged "hack" no forensic evidence has been produced to support that claim. In fact, the available forensic evidence contradicts the official account that blames the leak of the DNC emails on a Russian internet "intrusion".  The existing evidence supports an alternative explanation--the files taken from the DNC between 23 and 25May 2016 and were copied onto a file storage device, such as a thumb drive.
Instead of "investigating" Wikileaks and Assange, why don't governments just clean up their acts? -- RF
Iranians have never forgotten what most Americans never knew. -- RF
Zuckerberg's 15th-anniversary post was the latest example of a rhetorical sleight of hand the Facebook founder and CEO practices regularly. Prompting us to consider legacy hierarchies and vague social structures of bygone eras, Zuckerberg conjures a contrasting modern image of personal autonomy and power. In fact, little has changed. All that's happened is a new kind of social structure has been erected in place of older ones — a structure based on a flawed assumption of what power means.
Every device that you use, every company you do business with, every online account you create or loyalty program you join, and even the government itself collects data about you.
The intelligence community—the FBI, CIA, the NSA and other three-letter agencies—are too powerful, too entrenched and two well-funded. And they have far too little oversight. They're a threat to our democracy, not the saviors of it.

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Pompeo calls Iran more destabilizing than N. Korea
Pundits like Max Boot and Bill Kristol got everything after 9/11 wrong but are still considered "experts."
Musk Claims to Have Invented a Story Generator That's "Too Dangerous to Release"

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization?
I'm sticking with "no." -- RF
On the enormous costs of life's little "pleasures" in late industrial civilization. -- RF

## Japan ##
Red lights are flashing for Japan, which is to host the games next year. -- RF

## China ##
Turkish Condemnation of Xinjiang cracks Muslim Wall of Silence
Do You Believe in the Deep State Now?
The revelation that top Justice officials considered unseating Trump should answer that question for good.
What Happens When More QE Fails to Reverse the Recession?
The smart money is liquidating assets, paying off debt and moving capital into collateral that isn't impaired by debt or speculative valuations.
Worried about Costs & Slowdown? Amazon Scuttles HQ2 Altogether, Plunges NY City Real Estate Industry "Into Despair"
Prudent cost-cutting move artfully dressed up as response to local politicians that had railed against the $3-billion corporate welfare package.
NASA mulls buying new rides to space from Russia amid programme delays
NASA said on Friday it was weighing an option to buy two additional astronaut seats aboard a Russian rocket as a contingency plan against further delays in the launch systems being developed by Elon Musk's SpaceX and Boeing Co.
In a State of Emergency, the President Can Control Your Phone, Your TV, and Even Your Light Switches
Under a little-known regulation that dates back to the 1930s, the president has legal power over electronic transmissions.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

 

News Links, February 15, 2019

What Caused the Recession of 2019-2021?
The banquet of consequences is now being served, but the good seats have all been taken.

## Cut, baby, cut! ##
Activision full-year forecasts miss, to cut nearly 800 jobs

## War on cash/cashless society/cryptocurrencies ##
One Year After Dimon Slammed Bitcoin As A "Fraud", JPM Launches Own Cryptocurrency

## Airline death spiral ##
Flight carrying 129 passengers diverted after engine snag
Report: Airlines stranded a record number of passengers last year
The Points Guy, after analyzing U.S. airline data, says tarmac delays of three hours or more were up by nearly 50 percent last year.
Worldwide effort to restrict everyone's right to travel is close to a reality

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Here's an interesting commentary describing how NATO has degenerated into a name-only fighting force. While the author attributes this to the European hope or belief that when push comes to shove, the Americans will be there to defend Europe against the Russians, this is a simplistic view. One major factor is net energy decline. That is, European countries no longer have the energy budgets needed to keep themselves armed and prepared for war. They can see how the US is destroying its own economy and impoverishing its population to keep itself armed to the teeth and maintain its world-girdling empire of bases. Further, whatever the Europeans might say outwardly to appease the US, perhaps they do not find Russia to be as threatening as the US does. It's clear that Europeans are chafing under the thumb of the US. They want to do business with the Russians and Iranians, but are threatened with consequences if they do. It appears that this exasperation is spilling over into NATO. -- RF
US fails to halt Iran bid to free frozen billions
An international court Wednesday ruled Iran can proceed with a bid to unfreeze assets in the United States, rejecting Washington's claims the case must be halted because of Tehran's alleged support for international terrorism.
Venezuela - Media Find Trump's Coup Plan Does Not Work
South Korea pushes back on Trump claims about more money for troop agreement
South Korea's presidential Blue House pushed back on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested Seoul had agreed to pay $500 million more towards maintaining U.S. troops in the country.
The US Air Force Has Won Control of the Space Force
Beam me up! -- RF

## Migrants/refugees ##
Australia to reopen island detention camp after refugee bill

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Sardinian shepherds pour milk on roads to protest low prices

## Energy/resources ##
This narrative of technological prowess and innovation is an attractive one, but a deeper examination of the data reveals a different picture.


## Environment/health ##
Groups to sue US agency over loss of caribou herd
Environmental groups said Wednesday they plan to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to prevent the recent loss of the last herd of mountain caribou in the Lower 48 states.
More and more humans and their supercharged consumption leave no place left for other species. -- RF
Even if all nuclear power plants worldwide were shut down today, they would still be a menace for decades to come. -- RF
The CRISPR machines that can wipe out entire species
The genetic-engineering tool could help combat malaria and invasive species. But should we use it?
New Study Finds 41% Increase In Cancer Risk From Roundup's Glyphosate

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
"Reverse Location Search Warrant": A New Personal Data Hoovering Exercise Brought to You by Google
K-pop and fancy sneakers: Kim Jong Un's cultural revolution
It's encouraging to see change, but there's a problem with the idea that everyone on the planet must adopt decadent "Western consumer culture" as the gold standard. -- RF
The Coming Plague of Technological Loneliness
Our reliance on consumption instead of connection is killing us.

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Third suspect in Skripal poisoning is Russian GRU agent: Bellingcat
This is absurd. Not one iota of evidence has ever been presented to link the first two Russian men to the Skripal incident, and now there is a "third"? It makes more sense to suspect British intelligence of planning and carrying out the operation to kill Skripal and blame it on the Russians. -- RF
BBC Producer's Syria Bombshell: Douma "Gas Attack" Footage "Was Staged"
Now approaching nearly a year after the April 7, 2018 alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria — which the White House used as a pretext to bomb Syrian government facilities and bases throughout Damascus — a BBC reporter who investigated the incident on the ground has issued public statements saying the "Assad sarin attack" on Douma was indeed "staged".

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
Rats, Public Defecation And Open Drug Use: Our Major Western Cities Are Becoming Uninhabitable Hellholes
Hungary is offering women £30,000 to have more babies 'so country doesn't need immigrants'

## Japan ##
Japan on alert for rubella epidemic
Activists file suit to stop dolphin hunting in Japan
Government slammed for singling out 'problematic' Tokyo Shimbun reporter in warning to press club
The government's handling of a Tokyo Shimbun reporter known for her assertive questioning style has come under heavy scrutiny, after it emerged that authorities issued a statement last year singling her out for criticism and urging the Japanese press to keep their questions "accurate" and "fact-based."

## US ##
America Is a Socialist Country for the Rich
Someone should alert Trump that America is now a hotbed of socialism. But it is socialism for the rich. Everyone else is treated to harsh capitalism.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

 

News Links, February 13, 2019

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
When FDR launched the New Deal the size of government, public spending and debt were nowhere close to today's elevated levels.
But even more significantly, the energy return on fossil fuels, especially oil, was far higher than it is now, and therefore the US had a much greater amount of surplus energy to plow into the economy. -- RF

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Withdrawal of U.S. forces in Syria likely to start in 'weeks': U.S. general
Get over it: Asia rules
New book helps explain why the 21st Century will be the Asian Century


## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Tens of thousands protest Spanish PM's Catalan policy
Blackouts Cripple South Africa Again as Eskom Stumbles
South Africa grappled with traffic gridlock and shuttered businesses after the struggling state power utility cut supply for a third day to prevent a total collapse of the grid.
Tax Cuts Or Not, Mexico's Pemex Is Doomed
South Africa Oil Discovery Could Be A Game-Changer
Realistically, in today's world a 1-billion bbl find is not a game-changer. Not only that, it's offshore. -- RF
How do you dismantle a nuclear power plant? Very, very carefully.
Is A Natural Gas Cartel Forming?

## Environment/health ##
The world's insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a "catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems", according to the first global scientific review.
Global insect decline may see 'plague of pests'

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Big Fat Nothingburger: Russiagate Is Finished
Hundreds of Bounty Hunters Had Access to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint Customer Location Data for Years
Documents show that bail bond companies used a secret phone tracking service to make tens of thousands of location requests.
Climate change seen as top threat, but U.S. power a growing worry: poll
Climate change is the top security concern in a poll conducted by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, followed by Islamist terrorism and cyber attacks while respondents in a growing number of countries worried about the power and influence of the United States.
Vs. 32% for US lapdog Guaidó. -- RF
Pentagon to funnel tens of millions into cyber training for American soldiers
The Pentagon is investing tens of millions of dollars into new cyber training centers, which comes as the American military has pledged to take more offensive operations in cyberspace.

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Iraq Redux: Trump's Venezuela 'Regime Change' Another Pack of Lies
The U.S. government went looking for someone to blame for Russia's interference in the 2016 election—and found Maria Butina, the perfect scapegoat.

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
The Western Empire will be led by Washington. And the Eastern Empire by...? Read on! -- RF
2019: The Three Trends That Matter
Look no further than Brexit in Britain, the yellow vests in France and the Deplorables in the U.S. for manifestations of a broken social contract and decaying social order.

Fate of UK's nuclear plants in doubt over ageing infrastructure
After 12% drop in generation, experts say existing nuclear plants are likely to close early
Wealth concentration near 'levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties,' study finds
The shift is eroding security from families in the lower and middle classes, who rely on their small stores to finance retirement and to smooth over shocks like the loss of a job. And it's consolidating power in the hands of billionaires, who are increasingly using their riches to purchase political influence.

And finally...


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