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Afghanistan: The Twilight of the Global Empire

Afghanistan: The Twilight of the Global Empire

Afghanistan: a ragged blot of land more or less at the center of the mass of Eurasia and Africa. Over a couple of centuries, it repelled invasions from the largest empires in modern history: Britain, the Soviet Union, and now the United States. Not for nothing, Afghanistan is called the “Graveyard of Empires.” It is possible to make an educated guess on what led the United States to invade Afghanistan in 2001 (oil, what else?), but now the time of expansion is over for the Global Empire. We are entering the twilight zone that all empires tend to reach and maintain for a short time before their final collapse.

In 117 AD, Emperor Trajan died after having expanded the Roman Empire to the largest extension it would ever have. It was a major disaster: the coffers of the state were nearly empty, the production of the mines was in decline, the army was overstretched and undermanned, unrest was brewing in some of the provinces. Trajan’s successor, Hadrian, did his best to salvage the situation. He abandoned the territories that could not be kept, quelled the internal unrest, directed the remaining resources to build fortification at the borders of the Empire. It was a successful strategy and the result was about one century of “Pax Romana.” It was the twilight of the Roman Empire, a century or so of relative peace that preceded the final descent.

Empires in history tend to follow similar paths. Not that empires are intelligent, they are nearly pure virtual holobionts and they tend to react to perturbations only by trying to maintain their internal homeostasis. In other words, they have little or no capability to plan for the future…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“This Is The Biggest Bubble I’ve Seen In My Career” – Dems’ Infrastructure Spending Could Lead To Devastating Crash, Druck Warns

“This Is The Biggest Bubble I’ve Seen In My Career” – Dems’ Infrastructure Spending Could Lead To Devastating Crash, Druck Warns

This isn’t the first time billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller has warned that US markets are caught up in a “raging mania” fostered by the trillions of dollars in government spending. Druck, an acolyte of George Soros known for his macro investing prowess (even as he complains that contemporary Fed-backstopped markets “make no sense”) is a frequent guest on CNBC. But on Friday morning, he made a brief appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Show with Stephanie Ruhle, who seemed ill-equipped to respond to Druck’s arguments about why the Dems’ multi-trillion two-part infrastructure plan will end up hurting America’s poorest citizens.

Druckenmiller

As Druck explains, the “V-shaped” economic recovery has been “the sharpest recovery in history,” noting that it took 10 years for the American economy to achieve the same gains following the start of the Great Depression.

The problem is that the nearly $6 trillion allocated by Congress to combat the economic impact of COVID has been spent after the economy already finished recovering. The accelerating pace of inflation, and inability of certain businesses to hire lower-wage workers, are but byproducts of this.

Source: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Moving on, Druck pointed out that the biggest economic crises of the last 100 years have largely been caused by asset bubbles and inflation. “Inflation is a tax the poor can’t afford or avoid,” Druck added.

Any further stimulus spending is intended to fix a problem that, in Druck’s words, “doesn’t exist anymore.” He added: “If I was Darth Vader and I wanted to destroy the US economy, I would do aggressive spending in the middle of an already hot economy.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Alarming Forecasts” Show US Agricultural Belt In For 15-Day Dry Spell

“Alarming Forecasts” Show US Agricultural Belt In For 15-Day Dry Spell

Meteorologists at private weather forecaster BAMWX have sounded the alarm of troubling new forecasts for the US’ agricultural belt for the next 15 days.

Kirk Hinz, the chief meteorologist at BAMWX, said rising temperatures and drier conditions would be present across the midwestern US, approximately covering western Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, eastern Nebraska, and eastern Kansas, which corn and soybeans are dominating crops.

He said the forecasts for the next 15 days are “alarming:”

“Somewhat of an alarming forecast. Roughly 60% of the Ag belt is looking at only a 30-40% chance of seeing 1″+ of rain the next 15 days. Its not often you see the American ensemble out to 15 days this dry.”

This is bad news for crops.

We noted earlier this month that expanding drought conditions during a crucial time of the year ahead of corn pollination is a significant concern for yields. Here’s what happens to corn if pollination is unsuccessful. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Reports: Pentagon Tracking “Extremist” Web Searches Including “The Truth About Black Lives Matter”

Reports: Pentagon Tracking “Extremist” Web Searches Including “The Truth About Black Lives Matter”

“Asking questions, now extremism. Free inquiry, now extremism.”

Alex Wong & Linnea Rheborg /Getty Images

Reports circulating Tuesday reveal that the Pentagon is working with a contractor to track web searches that it describes as indicators of “white supremacy,” citing the phrase “the truth about black lives matter” as one example.

Reports from Defense One and Fox News state that the Pentagon is working with a UK-based company called Moonshot CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) to uncover networks of domestic extremists within the military.

Moonshot regularly works with the notorious ADL, and has ties to former President Obama, as well as the SPLC and George Soros’ Open Foundation, according to the reports.

Moonshot suggests that searching for the “truth about BLM” indicates a belief “that the BLM movement has nefarious motives,” which “is a disinformation narrative perpetuated by White supremacist groups to weaponize anti-BLM sentiment.”

The company further states that while the search phrase initially appears “innocuous,” it isn’t because the phrase has been used to suggest the BLM movement “is in line with the burning and looting of Antifa.”

“These sources echo White supremacist disinformation narratives alleging that BLM protesters are trying to ‘overthrow the republic’ and ‘harm American citizens in a Marxist coup,’ as a means of delegitimizing it,” the Moonshot research states.

So labelling BLM Marxist means you are an extremist, even though the organisation’s own website displays objectives are unequivocally in line with neo-Marxism, and its founders have described themselves as ‘trained Marxists’.

Appearing on Tucker Carlson’s show Tuesday night, Vince Coglianese, the editorial director of The Daily Caller discussed the Moonshot contract with the Pentagon, and noted that there is a sustained move within the Biden government to label everything as domestic extremism.

“It’s completely out of control,” Coglianese said, noting “Asking questions, now extremism. Free inquiry, now extremism. It’s getting worse.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Defund the Canadian Military

Defund the Canadian Military

Progressives should be pushing to defund or abolish the Canadian military. But, first we need to stop bolstering its capacity to kill in US and NATO lead wars.

Wednesday the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute and Canadian Voice of Women for Peace released a public letter opposing Canada’s plan “to spend tens of billions of dollars on unnecessary, dangerous, climate destroying fighter jets.” Signatories include Canadian musicians Neil Young, Teagan and Sarah and Sarah Harmer as well as environmentalists David Suzuki and Naomi Klein. The No new fighter jets for Canada statement is also signed by authors Michael Ondaatje Yann Martel and Gabor Maté as well as sitting MPs, former MPs, city councillors, a Senator, MPP and former UN ambassador. Prominent international figures such as Roger Waters, Daryl Hannah and Noam Chomsky have also backed a call addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The jets are expected to cost about $19 billion but the full life cycle cost of the planes will be closer to $77 billion. These resources could fund clean drinking water on reserves, an exhaustive search of all unmarked graves at residential ‘schools’ and plenty of indigenous run cooperative housing. Or “$77 billion could turbocharge a just transition away from fossil fuels”, notes the letter.

While the letter highlights better ways to use the resources, it also points out that “purchasing new jets will entrench fossil-fuel militarism”. Fighter jets consume large amounts of heavy carbon emitting fuel and their high-altitude release point increases the climatic effect.

But, the primary reason to oppose fighter jets is their violent nature. “Canada’s current fleet of fighter jets has bombed Libya, Iraq, Serbia and Syria”, notes the letter. “Many innocent people were killed directly or as a result of the destruction of civilian infrastructure and those operations prolonged conflicts and/or contributed to refugee crises.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

White House Colluding with BigTech for Censorship

The White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s recent admission that the administration is “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation” was legally a major development. She has admitted that Facebook is working with the White House to censor Americans so it is acting under color of law. This is a very critical point that legally amounts to Facebook being directed to censor what the White House is calling “misinformation” about COVID-19 that is effectively anything that contradicts of even questions the official narrative.

As I have stated before, the escape clause for BigTech is that the First Amendment only applies to government, not them. However, cooperating behind the curtain and for the White House to be telling Facebook to flag certain people or posts is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and a serious breach of what a free society is all ab out.

 

Biden himself is engaging in misinformation. Generally, about 50% of the people with this new Delta Variant have already been vaccinated. To claim that the only pandemic is among the unvaccinated and “they are killing people” but the lockdowns did not kill anyone. We really have to wonder if he is aware of what is really going on.

Has OPEC finally won the war against shale oil?

Has OPEC finally won the war against shale oil?

I have maintained for the past six years that a key goal of OPEC has been to so demoralize investors in shale oil that they stop sending money to the companies that drill for it. As I’ve written previously, I believe that OPEC’s contest with the shale oil industry is “part of a broader strategy meant to maximize Saudi revenues as production in the kingdom hovers at an all-time high over the next decade before beginning a decline.” It now appears that OPEC may have finally won its war against shale.

Investment in shale oil companies has finally collapsed—even as oil prices levitate. It has been a long time coming. The industry would like you to believe that it is now showing “restraint” in its capital spending. But, to use a dieting analogy, there is a big difference between watching what you eat and having your jaw wired shut—involuntarily in this case. The industry has experienced the equivalent of the latter in the capital markets.

What has amazed all of us who watched this battle play out is that OPEC didn’t win sooner. The relentless tolerance for losses among investors was beyond belief. And, when those investors returned in force after a brief vacation during the oil price bust in 2015, we skeptics grew concerned that rational thought had been eliminated from the universe.

Why did we think that? Because by that time the industry had already burned through hundreds of billions of investors’ dollars, dollars that merely subsidized petroleum consumers while enriching industry insiders. I am reminded of the joke about the business owner who explained that while he loses 5 cents on every sale, he makes it up in volume. Free cash flow numbers for the industry as a whole made it absolutely obvious that shale oil had been a money-loser for years. Why couldn’t investors see something that obvious?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Michael Klare, An All-American Path to War?

Michael Klare, An All-American Path to War?

The single scariest night of my life may have been on October 22, 1962, when I thought that all the duck-and-cover moments of my childhood were coming home to roost. President John F. Kennedy appeared on national television (and radio) to warn us all to duck and cover. The Soviet Union, it seemed, had managed to emplace medium-range nuclear missiles in Cuba that could reach major East coast cities. He was ordering a naval “quarantine” of the island.  As he put it, “We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth, but neither will we shrink from the risk at any time it must be faced.”

That was the beginning of what came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Of course, I’m here today, so neither New Haven, where I was then a freshman in college, nor New York, where I grew up, had its Hiroshima moment, nor did anyplace else in the U.S., Russia, or Cuba.  Still, it felt too close for comfort.

Despite all the years of the Cold War still to come, I never again felt that unforgettable sense that a nuclear war might break out.  But never say never, not on a planet filled with such weaponry, not when its two major powers, the U.S. and China, are increasingly facing off, particularly over the island of Taiwan.

Last month, for instance, Admiral Sam Paparo, commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet, called China a “pacing threat,” explaining that “I worry about China’s intentions. It doesn’t make a difference to me whether it is tomorrow, next year, or whether it is in six years…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Biden Administration Completely Kills The “It’s A Private Company So It’s Not Censorship” Argument

Biden Administration Completely Kills The “It’s A Private Company So It’s Not Censorship” Argument

Listen to a reading of this article:

In what’s surely the biggest “Imagine the outrage if Trump had done that” moment to date, the Biden administration has admitted that it is giving Facebook a list of accounts to censor for spreading “disinformation” about the Covid-19 response.

“We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the press on Thursday. “Within the Surgeon General’s Office, we’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We’re working with doctors and medical professionals to connect medical experts with people, who are popular with their audiences with accurate information and boost trusted content. So, we’re helping get trusted content out there.”

 

Psaki told the White House press corps that the administration has a list of accounts who produce most of the anti-vaccine information on Facebook, which civil libertarians are decrying as an obviously authoritarian government overreach.

“The Biden administration is telling Facebook which posts it regards as ‘problematic’ so that Facebook can remove them,” Glenn Greenwald said on Twitter in response to the news. “This is the union of corporate and state power — one of the classic hallmarks of fascism — that the people who spent five years babbling about fascism support.”

“If you don’t find it deeply disturbing that the White House is ‘flagging’ internet content that they deem ‘problematic’ to their Facebook allies for removal, then you are definitionally an authoritarian,” Greenwald said. “No other information is needed about you to know that. There is no circumstance — none — in which it’s acceptable for the White House or any other agency of the government to be providing lists to Facebook of ‘problematic’ content it wants removed, yet that’s exactly what Psaki says they’re doing…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Inflation Is Highest in 13 Years as Prices Surge 5%

U.S. Inflation Is Highest in 13 Years as Prices Surge 5%

The rapid rise in consumer prices in May reflected a surge in demand and shortages of labor and materials

The U.S. economy’s rebound from the pandemic is driving the biggest surge in inflation in nearly 13 years, with consumer prices rising in May by 5% from a year ago.

The Labor Department said last month’s increase in the consumer-price index was the largest since August 2008, when the reading rose 5.4%. The core-price index, which excludes the often-volatile categories of food and energy, jumped 3.8% in May from the year before—the largest increase for that reading since June 1992.

Consumers are seeing higher prices for many of their purchases, particularly big-ticket items such as vehicles. Prices for used cars and trucks leapt 7.3% from the previous month, driving one-third of the rise in the overall index. The indexes for furniture, airline fares and apparel also rose sharply in May.

A separate reading showed the U.S. labor market continued to heal from the pandemic, with initial claims for unemployment benefits falling to another pandemic low.

May’s jump in prices extends a trend that accelerated this spring amid widespread Covid-19 vaccinations, relaxed business restrictions, trillions of dollars in federal pandemic relief programs and ample household savings—all of which have stoked demand for Americans to spend and travel more.

Overall prices jumped at a 9.7% annualized rate over the three months ended in May. On a month-to-month basis, overall prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6% and core prices rose 0.7%.

The annual inflation measurements are being boosted by comparisons with figures from last year during pandemic-related lockdowns, when prices plummeted because of collapsing demand for many goods and services. This so-called base effect is expected to push up inflation readings significantly in May and June, dwindling into the fall.

Compared with two years ago, overall prices rose a more muted 2.5% in May.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mississippi Claims Memphis is Stealing its Groundwater, Supreme Court to Decide

Mississippi Claims Memphis is Stealing its Groundwater, Supreme Court to Decide

A long standing battle between states over water rights is headed to the Supreme Court.
Water Stress Map

The battle over water rights is heating up. Please consider the State of Mississippi v. City of Memphis and Memphis Light, Gas, and Water now on the Supreme Court Docket.

Mississippi’s complaint alleges that MLGW has “forcibly siphoned” off its water to the tune of billions of gallons. Compl. ¶ 23. And that without modern pumping technology none of that water would be available to Tennessee. Id. at ¶ 24. To make matters worse, Mississippi says Tennessee has removed groundwater far beyond “the water’s natural seepage rate.” Id.

Evidence of Tennessee’s heist, Mississippi claims, can be seen in “substantial drop in pressure and corresponding drawdown of stored water in the Sparta Sand” and the “cone of depression” that extends into north Mississippi. Id. at ¶¶ 25, 30. Because Tennessee is allegedly stealing water at such a rapid rate, Mississippi must now drill wells to substantially greater depths. Id. at ¶ 54(b). Naturally, that practice has increased the costs on Mississippians who rely on the Aquifer for their groundwater.

Mississippi now seeks both declaratory relief and money damages for the taking of its groundwater. The declaratory judgment would establish Mississippi’s “sovereign right, title and exclusive interest in the groundwater stored naturally in the Sparta Sand formation” which would not be available to the Defendants without pumping. I

Analysts Favor Tennessee

This suit has been brewing for years. But analysts strongly favor Tennessee.

For example, the University of Chicago Law Review writer Joseph Regalia says Mississippi’s Plea to the Supreme Court That It “Owns” Its Water and That Tennessee Is “Stealing” It Is Just Wrong.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bootleg Fire In Oregon Uncontrollably Doubles In Size Amid Megadrought

Bootleg Fire In Oregon Uncontrollably Doubles In Size Amid Megadrought

Large swaths of the Western half of the US experienced triple-digit temperatures this past weekend, with intense heat expected to continue through mid-week. As the West baked, a huge wildfire doubled in size in southern Oregon, continuing to threaten major transmission lines that feed power into northern California.

California and other surrounding states are plagued with a megadrought, continuing heat waves, water shortages, fears of rolling blackouts, and an early fire season that could be one for the record books.

The fire in focus Monday is the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, approximately doubling in size in the last 48 hours to more than 150,000 acres.

The U.S. Forest Service published an incident report from the weekend specifying, “firefighters, emergency managers and other public safety officials faced the fifth day in a row of extreme, intense fire behavior on the Bootleg Fire, as hot, dry, windy weather persists in the area.”

The Bootleg fire began in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near the Sprague River last Tuesday. Nearby residents in Klamath County were told to evacuate because of imminent fire danger.

On Sunday, the wildfire continued to spread and was zero percent contained. Extreme hot temperatures and a megadrought appear to be what fuels the fire.

According to NBC News, “the fire interrupted electrical lines that transmit power from Oregon to California. The state lost thousands of megawatts of imported power and struggled to maintain operating reserves as temperatures soared into triple digits in parts of the state.”

Last week, the wildfire prompted California Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue an emergency proclamation to free up additional energy supplies.

On Friday, the state’s grid operator, California Independent System Operator (ISO), was very close to triggering rolling blackouts to thwart a collapse of the power grid.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Grocery Stores Are Masking Price Hikes Via “Shrinkflation”

Grocery Stores Are Masking Price Hikes Via “Shrinkflation”

The continued decline in Treasury yields has prompted many short-sighted arm-chair analysts to declare that the Fed was right about inflationary pressures being “transitory”. Of course, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen herself admitted, a little inflation is necessary for the economy to function long term – because without “controlled inflation,” how else will policymakers inflate away the enormous debts of the US and other governments.

As policymakers prepare to explain to the investing public why inflation is a “good thing”, a report published this week by left-leaning NPR highlighted a phenomenon that is manifesting in grocery stores and other retailers across the US: economists including Pippa Malmgren call it “shrinkflation”. It happens when companies reduce the size or quantity of their products while charging the same price, or even more money.

As NPR points out, the preponderance of “shrinkflation” creates a problem for academics and purveyors of classical economic theory. “If consumers were the rational creatures depicted in classic economic theory, they would notice shrinkflation. They would keep their eyes on the price per Cocoa Puff and not fall for gimmicks in how companies package those Cocoa Puffs.”

However, research by behavioral economists has found that consumers are “much more gullible than classic theory predicts. They are more sensitive to changes in price than to changes in quantity.” It’s one of many well-documented ways that human reasoning differs from strict rationality (for a more comprehensive review of the limitations of human reasoning in the loosely defined world of behavioral economics, read Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow”).

Just a few months ago, we described shrinkflation as “the oldest trick in the retailer’s book” with an explanation of how Costco was masking a 14% price hike by instead reducing the sheet count in its rolls of paper towels and toilet paper.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Wells Unexpectedly Shuts All Existing Personal Lines Of Credit, Hinting US Economy On The Edge

Wells Unexpectedly Shuts All Existing Personal Lines Of Credit, Hinting US Economy On The Edge

Wells Fargo just announced that it’s shutting down all of its existing personal lines of credit – a popular product offered by the retail-focused Wall Street giant – a move that will likely infuriate legions of customers.

The revolving credit lines, which will be shut down in the coming weeks, typically allow users borrow $3K to $100K, were pitched as a way to consolidate higher-interest credit-card debt, pay for home renovations or avoid overdraft fees on checking accounts attached to the loan.

Customers have been given a 60-day notice that their accounts will be shuttered, and remaining balances will require regular minimum payments, according to the statement.

According to CNBC, it’s the latest “difficult decision” facing Wells CEO Charlie Scharf, who is being forced to make cutbacks to the banks’ business thanks to restrictions imposed by the Federal Reserve years ago as punishment for the bank’s criminal scandals like the now-infamous scandal whereby branch managers opened credit lines for customers without permission. a scandal that outraged the public.

“Wells Fargo recently reviewed its product offerings and decided to discontinue offering new Personal and Portfolio line of credit accounts and close all existing accounts,” the bank said in the six-page letter. The move would let the bank focus on credit cards and personal loans, it said.

The sudden closures will leave many customers without what may be a critical source of liquidity. What’s worse, many will be penalized for the decision, making it more difficult for them to receive credit from a new source. Per CNBC, those whose credit lines are involuntarily closed will still see their FICO scores penalized as if they had elected to close the credit line willingly.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia Says US Engineered June’s Black Sea Provocation, “We’ll Sink” Any Threat Next Time

Russia Says US Engineered June’s Black Sea Provocation, “We’ll Sink” Any Threat Next Time

In the days after the June 23 incident between the UK Royal Navy’s HMS Defender and a Russian patrol vessel and military aircraft near Crimea which resulted in warning shots fired from the Russian side, Putin asserted that a US reconnaissance plane had been nearby monitoring the dangerous close-call incident as it unfolded below. Putin had cast the whole showdown as a “provocation” in which the US aircraft was present monitor Russia’s response to the UK vessel. Moscow’s position is that the UK vessel had ventured a full three kilometers into Russian territorial waters, which was met with a Su-24M dropping bombs in the Defender’s path along with the Russian patrol ship firing warning shots.

The latest charge on Sunday, however, has gone further, with Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov accusing Washington and the UK of essentially engineering the dangerously close military encounter in order to probe and test Russia’s defense of its borders.

I think our intelligence certainly knows who made a decision there [in the situation with the British destroyer]. But certainly I think such operations are basically planned by senior partners from overseas,” Peskov was cited in TASS as saying.

UK military drills involving HMS Defender in the Mediterranean, via The Drive.

Given Putin’s prior words pointing the finger directly at Washington during his annual televised Q&A last month, this latest Kremlin statement is also no doubt a clear reference to the US (in terms of the provocative reference to “who made the decision here”). Presidential spokesman Peskov elaborated further in his Sunday statements that “in this case the destroyer was just a tool of provocation.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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