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Casino Capitalism: Neoliberalism in Western countries

"When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done" ~ John Maynard Keynes

PseudoScience > Who Rules America > Neoliberalism

News Neoliberalism Recommended Links Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy The Systemic Instability of Financial Institutions Regulatory Capture & Corruption of regulators Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA
GDP as a false measure of a country economic output Number racket Efficient Market Hypothesis Invisible Hand Hypothesys: The Theory of Self-regulation of the Markets Supply side Voodoo In Goldman Sachs we trust Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
Economism and abuse of economic theory in American politics Secular Stagnation Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) Rational expectations scam Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Monetarism fiasco
Twelve apostles of deregulation Summers Greenspan Rubin Reagan Helicopter Ben: Arsonist Turned into Firefighter Bush II
Chicago school of deification of market Free Market Fundamentalism Free Market Newspeak as opium for regulators The Idea of Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium CDS -- weapons of mass financial destruction Phil Gramm Clinton
Zombie state of neoliberalism Insider Trading SEC corruption Fed corruption Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush Regime Wall Street Propaganda Machine American Exceptionalism
Redistribution of wealth up as the essence of neoliberalism Glass-Steagall repeal Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Fiat money, gold and petrodollar Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Buyout Kleptocrats Republican Economic Policy
Principal-agent problem Quiet coup Pecora commission History of Casino Capitalism Casino Capitalism Dictionary :-) Humor Etc

Due to the size the introduction moved to Casino Capitalism: Neoliberalism in Western countries


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[Jan 25, 2020] This Kabuki theater with Schiff in a major role is outright silly by likbez

Jan 22, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , January 25, 2020 3:10 pm

While I agree that the removal of Trump might be slightly beneficial (Pence-Pompeo duo initially will run scared), this Kabuki theater with Schiff in a major role is outright silly.

Adam Schiff physically resembles a typical prosperity theology preacher -- a classic modern American snake oil salesman. And with his baseless accusations and the fear to touch real issues , he is even worse than that -- he looks outright silly even for the most brainwashed part of the USA electorate ;-)

As he supported the Iraq war, he has no right to occupy any elected office. He probably should be prosecuted as a war criminal.

Realistically Schiff should be viewed as yet another intelligence agency stooge, a neocon who is funded by military contractors such as Northrop Grumman, which sells missiles to Ukraine.

The claim that Trump is influenced by Russia is a lie. His actions indicate that he is an agent of influence for Israel, not so much for Russia. Several of his actions were more reckless and more hostile to Russia than the actions of the Obama administration. Anyway, his policies toward Russia are not that different from Hillary's policies. Actually, Pompeo, in many ways, continues Hillary's policies.

The claim that the withdrawal of military aid from Ukraine somehow influences the balance of power in the region was a State department concocted scam from the very beginning. How sniper rifles and anti-tank missiles change the balance of power on the border with the major nuclear power, who has probably second or third military in the world.? They do not.

They (especially sniper rifles) will definitely increase casualties of Ukrainian separatists (and will provoke Russian reaction to compensate for this change of balance and thus increase casualties of the Ukrainian army provoking the escalation spiral ), but that's about it. So more people will die in the conflict while Northrop Grumman rakes the profits.

They also increase the danger of the larger-scale conflict in the region, which is what the USA neocons badly wants to impose really crushing sanctions on Russia. The danger of WWIII and the cost of support of the crumbling neoliberal empire with its outsize military expenditures (which now is more difficult to compensate with loot) somehow escapes the US neocon calculations. But they are completely detached from reality in any case.

I think Russia can cut Ukraine into Western and Eastern parts anytime with relative ease and not much resistance. Putin has an opportunity to do this in 2014 (risking larger sanctions) as he could establish government in exile out of Yanukovich officials and based on this restore the legitimate government in Eastern and southern region with the capital in Kharkiv, leaving Ukrainian Taliban to rot in their own brand of far-right nationalism where the Ukraine identity is defined negatively via rabid Russophobia.

His calculation probably was that sanctions would slow down the Russia recovery from Western plunder during Yeltsin years and, as such, it is not worth showing Western Ukrainian nationalists what level of support in Southern and Eastern regions that they actually enjoy.

My impression is that they are passionately hated by over 50% of the population of this region. And viewed as an occupying force, which is trying to colonize the space (which is a completely true assessment). They are viewed as American stooges, who they are (the country is controlled from the USA embassy in any case).

And Putin's assessment might be wrong, as sanctions were imposed anyways, and now Ukraine does represent a threat to Russia and, as such, is a huge source of instability in the region, which was the key idea of "Nulandgate" as the main task was weakening Russia. In this sense, Euromaidan coup d'état was the major success of the Obama administration, which was a neocon controlled administration from top to bottom.

Also unclear what Dems are trying to achieve. If Pelosi gambit, cynically speaking, was about repeating Mueller witch hunt success in the 2018 election, that is typical wishful thinking. Mobilization of the base works both ways.

So what is the game plan for DemoRats (aka "neoliberal democrats" or "corporate democrats" -- the dominant Clinton faction of the Democratic Party) is completely unclear.

I doubt that they will gain anything from impeachment Kabuki theater, where both sides are afraid to discuss real issues like Douma false flag and other real Trump crimes.

Most Democratic candidates such as Warren, Biden, and Klobuchar will lose from this impeachment theater. Candidates who can gain, such as Major Pete and Bloomberg does not matter that much.

[Jan 25, 2020] Rabobank What If... The Protectionists Are Right And The Free Traders Are Wrong by Michael Every

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Yet it took until 1860 for the UK to fully embrace free trade, and even then the unpalatable historical record is that during this 'golden age', the British: Destroyed the Indian textile industry to benefit their own cloth manufacturers; Started the Opium Wars to balance UK-China trade by selling China addictive drugs; Ignored the Irish Potato Famine and continued to allow Irish wheat exports; Forced Siam (Thailand) to open up its economy to trade with gunboats (as the US did with Japan); and Colonized much of Africa and Asia. ..."
"... Regardless, the first flowering of free trade collapsed back into nationalism and protectionism - bloodily so in 1914. Free trade was tried again from 1919 - but burned-out even more bloodily in the 1930s and 1940s. After WW2, most developed countries had moderately free trade - but most developing countries did not. We only started to re-embrace global free trade from the 1990s onwards when the Cold War ended – and here it is under stress again. In short, only around 100 years in a total of 5,000 years of civilization has seen real global free trade, it has failed twice already, and it is once again coming under pressure. ..."
"... Of course, this doesn't mean liked-minded groups of countries with similar-enough or sympathetic-enough economies and politics should avoid free trade: clearly for some states it can work out nicely - even if within the EU one could argue there are also underlying strains. However, it is a huge stretch to assume a one-size-fits-all free trade policy will always work best for all countries, as some would have it. That is a fairy tale. History shows it wasn't the case; national security concerns show it can never always be the case; and Ricardo argues this logically won't be the case. ..."
Jan 25, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

"When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!" (Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 4, The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill)

Submitted by Michael Every of Rabobank

2020 starts with markets feeling optimistic due to a US-China trade deal and a reworked NAFTA in the form of the USMCA. However, the tide towards protectionism may still be coming in, not going out.

The intellectual appeal of the basis for free trade, Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage, where Portugal specializes in wine, and the UK in cloth, is still clearly there. Moreover, trade has always been a beneficial and enriching part of human culture. Yet the fact is that for the majority of the last 5,000 years global trade has been highly-politicized and heavily-regulated . Indeed, global free-trade only began following the abolition of the UK Corn Laws in 1846, which reduced British agricultural tariffs, brought in European wheat and corn, and allowed the UK to maximize its comparative advantage in industry.

Yet it took until 1860 for the UK to fully embrace free trade, and even then the unpalatable historical record is that during this 'golden age', the British:

As we showed back in ' Currency and Wars ', after an initial embrace of free trade, the major European powers and Japan saw that their relative comparative advantage meant they remained at the bottom of the development ladder as agricultural producers, an area where prices were also being depressed by huge US output; meanwhile, the UK sold industrial goods, ran a huge trade surplus, and ruled the waves militarily. This was politically unsustainable even though the UK vigorously backed the intellectual concept of free trade given it was such a winner from it.

Regardless, the first flowering of free trade collapsed back into nationalism and protectionism - bloodily so in 1914. Free trade was tried again from 1919 - but burned-out even more bloodily in the 1930s and 1940s. After WW2, most developed countries had moderately free trade - but most developing countries did not. We only started to re-embrace global free trade from the 1990s onwards when the Cold War ended – and here it is under stress again. In short, only around 100 years in a total of 5,000 years of civilization has seen real global free trade, it has failed twice already, and it is once again coming under pressure.

What are we getting wrong? Perhaps that Ricardo's theory has major flaws that don't get included in our textbooks, as summarized in this overlooked quote

"It would undoubtedly be advantageous to the capitalists of England [that] the wine and cloth should both be made in Portugal [and that] the capital and labour of England employed in making cloth should be removed to Portugal for that purpose." Which is pretty much what happens today! However, Ricardo adds that this won't happen because "Most men of property [will be] satisfied with a low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations," which is simply not true at all! In other words, his premise is flawed in that:

As Ricardo's theory requires key conditions that are not met in reality most of the time, why are we surprised that most of reality fails to produce idealised free trade most of the time? Several past US presidents before Donald Trump made exactly that point. Munroe (1817-25) argued: " The conditions necessary for Free Trade's success - reciprocity and international peace - have never occurred and cannot be expected ". Grant (1869-77) noted "Within 200 years, when America has gotten out of protection all that it can offer, it too will adopt free trade".

Yet arguably we are better, not worse, off regardless of these sentiments – so hooray! How so? Well, did you know that Adam Smith, who we equate with free markets, and who created the term "mercantile system" to describe the national-protectionist policies opposed to it, argued the US should remain an agricultural producer and buy its industrial goods from the UK? It was Founding Father Alexander Hamilton who rejected this approach, and his "infant industry" policy of industrialization and infrastructure spending saw the US emerge as the world's leading economy instead. That was the same development model that, with tweaks, was then adopted by pre-WW1 Japan, France, and Germany to successfully rival the UK; and then post-WW2 by Japan (again) and South Korea; and then more recently by China, that key global growth driver. Would we really be better off if the US was still mainly growing cotton and wheat, China rice and apples, and the UK was making most of the world's consumer goods? Thank the lack of free trade if you think otherwise!

Yet look at the examples above and there is a further argument for more protectionism ahead. Ricardo assumes a benign global political environment for free trade . Yet what if the UK and Portugal are rivals or enemies? What if the choice is between steel and wine? You can't invade neighbours armed with wine as you can with steel! A large part of the trade tension between China and the US, just as between pre-WW1 Germany and the UK, is not about trade per se: for both sides, it is about who produces key inputs with national security implications - and hence is about relative power . This is why we hear US hawks underlining that they don't want to export their highest technology to China, or to specialize only in agricultural exports to it as China moves up the value-chain. It also helps underline why for most of the past 5,000 years trade has not been free. Indeed, this argument also holds true for the other claimed benefit of free trade: the cross-flow of ideas and technology. That is great for friends, but not for those less trusted.

Of course, this doesn't mean liked-minded groups of countries with similar-enough or sympathetic-enough economies and politics should avoid free trade: clearly for some states it can work out nicely - even if within the EU one could argue there are also underlying strains. However, it is a huge stretch to assume a one-size-fits-all free trade policy will always work best for all countries, as some would have it. That is a fairy tale. History shows it wasn't the case; national security concerns show it can never always be the case; and Ricardo argues this logically won't be the case.

Yet we need not despair. The track record also shows that global growth can continue even despite protectionism, and in some cases can benefit from it. That being said, should the US resort to more Hamiltonian policies versus everyone, not just China, then we are in for real financial market turbulence ahead given the role the US Dollar plays today compared to the role gold played for Smith and Ricardo! But that is a whole different fairy tale...

[Jan 25, 2020] Davos Man - Misbegotten Progeny Of Keynesian Central Bankers

Jan 25, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Davos Man - Misbegotten Progeny Of Keynesian Central Bankers by Tyler Durden Sat, 01/25/2020 - 12:00 0 SHARES

Authored by David Stockman via LewRockwell.com,

There were a reported 119 billionaires attending the Davos confab this year – plus the Donald, who took a day off from Impeachment to address this august gathering of the world's movers and shakers.

There was also 1500 private jets crowding the surrounding airports – plus the notable train-traveling 17-year old expert on planetary climate science, Greta Thunberg.

Also, among the 10 billionaires in attendance from communist China is Ren Zhenfei, founder of Huawei and father of its CFO, Meng Wanzhou. Even as dad courts the rich and famous on the slopes, daughter languishes in a Canadian jail waiting extradition to the US because she had the audacity to do business with Iran against Washington's instructions and Trump's latest fatwa against the Tehran government.

These odd juxtapositions plus countless more got us to thinking about Davos Man himself and the ultimate juxtaposition of our times.

To wit, the combined net worth of the world's billionaires in the year 2000 was $1 trillion , according to Forbes, but at this bublicious moment that number is reckoned at just under $10 trillion . So the 2,150 members of the Billionaires Club now have more net worth than 60% of the world's population combined. That's 4.6 billion people!

In so noting, of course, we are not joining the Bernie Sanders/AOC/Pocahontas brigade. In a world of free markets, honest money and de minimis government, the more billionaires the better. But what we sincerely doubt is that there was an honest and sustainable basis for a 10X gain in the net worth of the Billionaires Club over a two decade period when the world's nominal GDP only rose from $35 trillion to $85 trillion, or by 2.4X .

After all, the predominately financial assets comprising the world's net worth are merely the capitalization of its underlying income or GDP. And there is no basis in either sound economics or basic math for the former to grow nearly four times faster than the latter for two decades running.

Stated differently, unless the age-old laws of sound money have been repealed by the economic gods themselves, Davos Man is fixing to become nearly as rare as Neanderthal Man or, more to the point, has been a case of Piltdown Man all along.

Recall that the latter had been touted by some British scoundrels in 1912 to be a 500,000 year-old homo sapiens and evolution's missing link. Alas, it was actually a ho-hum 50,000 year-old human skeleton fused with the jawbone and teeth of a modern orangutan.

Billionaire Haven

As it happened, it took the world about three decades to figure out that Piltdown Man was a hoax, but the hoax attendant to Davos Man is already plain as day. That's because by even tolerating Greta's impending extinction hysteria and the Donald's hideous Greatest Ever Economy boasts, the assembled billionaires are demonstrating that they are not 4X geniuses after all – just bubble riders on the great central banking hoax of the 21st century.

Indeed, we would suppose that some kind of guilt-tripping would account for the grandly named World Economic Forum's (WEF) solicitude for the global warming scam and its intellectually pre-pubescent poster girl, Greta. But why in the world would the purported deep thinkers of the WEF not laugh the Donald's malarkey right off the stage?

On the way to Switzerland he tweeted a superlative that would be the envy of the biggest braggart in the school yard:

"We are now NUMBER ONE in the Universe, by FAR!! .

And then he thickened the goo while at the podium in Davos:

America's newfound prosperity is undeniable, unprecedented and unmatched anywhere in the world America made this stunning turnaround not by making minor changes to a handful of policies but by adopting a whole new approach. Every decision we make is focused on improving the lives of every day Americans. We are determined to create the highest standard of living that anyone can imagine. "

Folks, that's just blithering poppycock. We are at the end of the longest and weakest business cycle expansion in history (month # 127), yet real median household income has barely returned to where it stood two decades ago.

The idea that Trump-O-Nomics has anything to do with paving the way for the "highest standard of living that anyone can imagine" is just content free bluster.

The facts actually show that the US standard of living has been stagnant for two decades, rising and falling with the business cycle, but gaining on average the grand sum of $87 per year (2018 $) since 1999.

That's right. As shown in the graph below, the $63,179 median reported for 2018 is undoubtedly the high water mark for years to come, yet it represented a mere 2.7% gain from the $61,526 level (2018 $) posted way back in 1999.

While the data for 2019 is not yet available, it is evident that the various categories of income gain last year barely kept up with inflation, meaning that real median family income was flat. So the coming recession in the early 2020s will send the black bars in the chart sliding lower as they did during and after each of the recessions marked by the white space.

Here's the thing. The Donald's policies have immensely harmed the foundations on which today's tepidly expanding business cycle rests. Yet there has been no short-run benefit in terms of accelerating overall GDP growth, and actually a sharp deceleration of business investment and export growth.

Likewise, the vaunted 70% of GDP attributable to personal consumption spending (PCE) is been essentially kept alive by borrowing.

Nearly 67% of the gain in personal consumption expenditures since Q4 2012, when the US economy had fully recovered from the Great Recession, has been accounted for by household debt growth. The latter (purple bars) is up by a fully $2.4 trillion to a record $16 trillion compared to personal consumption (PCE) growth of just $3.6 trillion during the same 81 month period.

What the "strong economy" gummers forget, of course, is that sooner or later you have to pay the piper when the economy becomes as debt-ridden as today's world. You are supposed to actually pay down debt during the up-phase of the cycle, but self-evidently that has not remotely happened this time around the barn.

So you can boast about the Greatest Economy Ever if you are the Donald and reassure about a "solid" economy if you are stock-options rich Davos Man, but that doesn't gainsay the unsustainable economic and monetary rot upon which it is all based.

At the end of the day, what the Donald is crowing about is simply the residual momentum of the debt-ridden, growth-impaired economy he inherited, and what the geniuses gathered at Davos are calling a "strong" economy is actually a mere simulacrum of a real business boom – a fiction slathered in artificially and irrationally soaring share prices and stock options

The truth is, we are heading into the strum-und-drang of the Turbulent Twenties, but the alleged adults in the room at Davos don't have a clue. They apparently think America's three-decade long fantasy of free lunch economics and unhinged partisan warfare is sustainable indefinitely.

It's not.

If you are sitting on phantasmagorical stock market paper values and not sweating bullets about the implications of the central banks' $25 trillion balance sheet, the world's $255 trillion of debt, the Red Ponzi's monumental malinvestment, the Donald's war on trade, immigrants and fiscal sanity, the bipartisan war on constitutional government in America, the Empire's claim to global extraterritoriality and the statist grab for power in the name of a phony climate crisis, then you are not paying attention.

Each and every one of these force vectors are bearing down ominously upon the pathway ahead. But the malignancies of runaway debt and egregiously inflated financial bubbles stand front and center.

Here is a graph of US net worth versus national income (GDP) gains since Q4 2000, and it speaks for itself. To wit:

Needless to say, when the wealth of the top 1% (1.3 million households) is growing at nearly twice the rate of national income and by 11X more than the bottom half of households ( 63.5 million), there is absolutely nothing sustainable about it.

In fact, it's the reason why the real extinction threat at this week's confab in Switzerland is not the one Greta is scolding her elders about, but of Davos Man himself.

And if they cannot tell that Trump is the greatest economic charlatan to ever grace high office in the world's largest economy, they surely well and truly deserve their fate.

* * *

Former Congressman David A. Stockman was Reagan's OMB director, which he wrote about in his best-selling book, The Triumph of Politics . His latest books are The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and Peak Trump: The Undrainable Swamp And The Fantasy Of MAGA . He's the editor and publisher of the new David Stockman's Contra Corner. He was an original partner in the Blackstone Group, and reads LRC the first thing every morning.

[Jan 25, 2020] Financialization Has Cemented Declines In Fertility Rates, Births, Eventually Depopulation

Jan 25, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Financialization Has Cemented Declines In Fertility Rates, Births, & Eventually Depopulation by Tyler Durden Sat, 01/25/2020 - 13:00 0 SHARES

Authored by Chris Hamilton via Econimica blog,

Summary

Nations with 56% of world GDP have declining annual births and childbearing populations, nations with 35% of GDP have declining births but still rising/flat childbearing populations, nations with less than 9% of world GDP have rising births and childbearing populations.

Detailed below are 1950 through 2040 annual births, female childbearing, and female post-childbearing populations of worlds largest economies. Utilizing UN World Population Prospects 2019 data.

In the wake of the great financial crisis of 2009, ZIRP/NIRP were utilized, federal deficit spending soared, asset prices skyrocketed, employment rose to record levels...but strangely fertility rates and total births have continued falling. Actually, collapsing. Record wealth has been accompanied by record low birth rates and unwillingness to have children, suggesting that those reaping the gains of the asset-price-pallooza are not of childbearing age. The policies since 2009 have rewarded asset holders for being asset holders and penalized young, poor, and those without assets...for being without assets.

Simply put, costs of living and assets have risen far faster than incomes. Rent, daycare, insurance, education, healthcare, etc. etc. have taken a progressively greater share of income leading to fewer and later marriages, fewer and later children, and a general unwillingness to reproduce. All this has led to collapsing populations of young (and now young adults) among the nations that consume over 90% of the worlds exports and ultimately means collapsing demand while excess capacity is set to soar.

So, today I show that of the top 50+ global economies, 6 have rising annual births and childbearing populations, 9 have falling annual births but still have a rising or flat childbearing population (the precursor to depopulation), 35+ have falling births, a falling childbearing population, are in secular decline, and depopulating from the bottom up (negative birth rates coupled with declining childbearing populations) . Essentially, global consumer bases are collapsing from the young up, and this situation is only accelerating...and more debt, more QE, more interest rate cuts are only pushing birth rates and total births lower.

The 20 to 40 and 40+ year-old populations of females are not so much projections as simple math, these females already exist and are just shifted forward through the next twenty years assuming existing immigration patterns. Births from 2020 on are projections. Nations are in order of the percentage change of their 20 to 40 year-old female childbearing populations from 2020 through 2040. GDP and % of total global GDP are also included for relativity.

Falling (births falling, childbearing population also declining)

***For those nations with large variations of significantly faster declines among childbearing population than projected in births, I add an estimated dashed line with declining births mirroring declining childbearing populations.

Taiwan (#15 GDP, 0.7%)

Taiwan 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -1.15 million, -35%

Est. annual births -61k, -35% (UN projects -17k, -10%)

40+ year old females +1.3 million, +20%

South Korea (#9 GDP, 1.9%)

South Korea 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -2.1 million, -33%

Est. annual births -100k, -33% (UN projects -20k, -6%)

40+ year old females +2.6 million, +17%

Singapore (#21 GDP, 0.4%)

Singapore 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -210k, -26%

Est. annual births -30k, -50% (UN projects -18k, -30%)

40+ year old females +0.5 million, +34%

Eastern Europe excluding Russia (#13 GDP, 1.3%)

2020 – 2040 (Belarus, Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine)

20-40 year old females -4.6 million, -24%

UN projects annual births -240k, -17%

40+ year old females, +0, +0%

China (#3 GDP, 16%)

China 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -44 million, -22%

Est. annual births -3.2 million, -22% (UN projects -1.1m, -7%)

40+ year old females +76 million, +22%

Japan (#4 GDP, 6%)

Japan 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -2.3 million, -18%

Est. annual births -155k, -18% (UN projects -40k, -5%)

40+ year old females -2.1 million, -5%

Thailand (#14 GDP, 0.6%)

Thailand 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -1.6 million, -17%

UN projects annual births -144k, -21%

40+ year old females +3.3 million, +18%

Chile (#27 GDP, 0.3%)

Chile 2020-2040

20-40 year old Females -470k, -16%

UN projects annual births -20k, -11%

40+ year old Females +1.3 million, +31%

Russia (#8 GDP, 1.9%)

Russia 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -3 million, -15%

UN projects annual births -220k, -13%

40+ year old females +1 million, +2%

Vietnam (#29 GDP, 0.3%)

Vietnam 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -2.3 million, -15%

UN projects annual births -320k, -20%

40+ year old females +8.8m, +45%

Brazil (#6 GDP, 2.1%)

Brazil 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -5 million, -14%

UN projects annual births -620k, -22%

40+ year old females +19 million, +43%

Iran (#15 GDP, 0.5%)

Iran 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -2 million, -14%

UN projects annual births -260k, -14%

40+ year old females +10m, +71%

Colombia (#24 GDP, 0.4%)

Colombia 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -1 million, -11%

UN projects annual births -175k, -23%

40+ year old females +4.6 million, +46%

Western Europe (EU+ 29 countries...#2 GDP, 22%)

Western Europe 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -5 million, -9%

UN projects annual births -225k, -5%

40+ year old females +8 million, +6%

Malaysia (#20 GDP, 0.4%)

Malaysia 2020-2040

20-40 year old females -350k, -6%

UN projects annual births -85k, -16%

40+ year old females +3.7 million, +71%

Turkey (#14 GDP, 0.9%)

Turkey 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -400k, -3%

UN projects annual births -145, -11%

40+ year old females +7 million, +42%

Peru (#30 GDP, 0.3%)

Peru 2020-2040

20-40 year old females -190k, -3%

UN projected births -130k, -21%

40+ year old females +3.3 million, +55%

Bangladesh (#25 GDP, 0.4%)

Bangladesh 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females -240k, -1%

UN projects annual births -600k, -23%

40+ year old females, +19 million, +78%

Flattening ( Births falling, childbearing population still rising) South Africa (#22 GDP, 0.4%)

South Africa 2020-2040

20-40 year old females +0.9 million, +9%

UN projects annual births -10k, -1%

40+ year old females +5.3 million, +58%

India (#5 GDP, 3.4%)

India 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +9 million, +4% (2032 is peak childbearing down, down from there)

UN projects annual births -3.4m, -14%

40+ year old females +116 million, +54%

Argentina (#17 GDP, 0.5%)

Argentina 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +430k, +6%

UN projects annual births -30k, -4%

40+ year old females +3.1 million, +34%

Indonesia (#12 GDP, 1.3%)

Indonesia 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +2.7 million, +6%

UN projects annual births -88k, -2%

40+ year old females +22.6 million, +47%

Saudi Arabia (#13 GDP, 0.9%)

Saudi Arabia 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +280k, +5%

UN projects annual births -90k, -15%

40+ year old females +4 million, +96%

United Arab Emirates (#18 GDP, 0.5%)

UAE 2020-2040

20-40 year old females +60k, +4%

UN projects births +6k, 6%

40+ year old females +500k, 71%

Mexico (#11 GDP, 1.5%)

Mexico 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +0.7 million, +3%

UN projects annual births -265k, -12%

40+ year old females +12 million, +52%

USA (#1 GDP, 25%)

US 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +500k, +1%

Est. annual births -290k, -8% (UN projects +340k, +9%)

40+ year old females +16 million, +20%

Canada (#7 GDP, 2%)

Canada 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +50k, +1%

UN projects annual births +15k, +3%

40+ year old females +2.6 million, +26%

Growing ( Rising births and rising childbearing populations) Nigeria (#16 GDP, 0.5%)

Nigeria 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +21 million, +76%

UN projects annual births +2.4 million, +34%

40+ year old females +15 million, +81%

Israel (#19 GDP, 0.4%)

Israel 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +400k, +35%

UN projects annual births +30k, +17%

40+ year old females +600k, +37%

Egypt (#26 GDP, 0.3%)

Egypt 2020-2040

20-40 year old females +5.1 million, +33%

UN projects annual births +0.5 million, +24%

40+ year old females +9.6, +70%

Pakistan (#28 GDP, 0.3%)

Pakistan 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +11.4 million, +33%

UN projects annual births +20k, +0%

40+ year old females +22 million, +86%

Philippines (#23 GDP, 0.4%)

Philippines 2020 – 2040

20-40 year old females +3 million, +18%

UN projects annual births +145k, +7%

40+ year old females +10.7 million, +66%

Australia/New Zealand (#10 GDP, 1.7%)

Australia/New Zealand 2020-2040

20-40 year old females +350k, +8%

UN projects births +0, +0%

40+ year old females +2.3 million, +31%

* * *

Many will applaud the fast declining and decelerating population growth of the nations that do all the consuming, but we are fast approaching a demographic and economic waterfall among the consuming nations that will leave little to no export led growth potential for poor nations. And that, coupled with increasingly widely available access to birth control, means poor nations economic growth (plus birth rates and total births) are likely to follow the consumer nations down. The outcome is a global inverted pyramid with surging elderly populations (and the policies to support them) the cause of collapsing young populations.


The Palmetto Cynic , 48 seconds ago link

It's a feature of societal decline, not a bug. Rudyard Kipling explains it.

http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_copybook.htm

punjabiraj , 3 minutes ago link

And what if the 3rd world finds itself and replaces its dependencies? It has the population growth that the primitive economic model required for the initial cheap labor and consumption growth.

Get your heads out of your own gimme gimme arseholes and think a bit more laterally.

Shadow1275 , 5 minutes ago link

No you IDIOT (The dumbass who wrote this article) its so simple its not even funny.

When women aren't allowed to work= lots of children born

When women are allowed to work= no children born.

Its so pathetically simple, and to the thomas malthusians who claim this is a good thing, earth's population isn't getting smaller, the only thing that happens when your wet depopulation dreams come true is lower iq populations outgrowing higher iq populations and taking over their territory. Despite your best efforts, african, south american, and indian populations are still pooping out 8-9 kids.

Demographics is destiny and we will have no chance if we do not face reality.

vbomber11 , 6 minutes ago link

We don't have enough good jobs and resources for the population now, of course things have to be done to reduce birth rates. And people living longer just makes things worse. But keep eating junk food and being a medical zombie because you know...more jobs.

Kayhla the Prettiest , 7 minutes ago link

Japan is in real trouble on this issue. Their elderly population is huge and all the young men prefer virtual girls to real ones. That is going to cripple their economy over the next two decades.

2banana , 4 minutes ago link

True. But one day - the Japanese will start having kids again. And their country will still be Japanese and be not overrun by hordes of invaders on welfare. So it will work itself out.

Nature_Boy_Wooooo , 8 minutes ago link

Democrats...."we need population growth to keep the economy growing." Also Democrats......"we need birth control and abortion."

pHObuk0wrEHob71Suwr2 , 10 minutes ago link

Could it be as simple as when kids are a liability people have less of them? The middle class don't collect welfare.

greatdisconformity , 10 minutes ago link

Global human population passed global sustainable levels late in the 19th Century. Our genius economists need to come up with a new economic model that does not require endless population growth and resource consumption.

Good luck with that. Economics is a science that failed.

Nature_Boy_Wooooo , 11 minutes ago link

The wealthy should seed the next generation of servants. Stop wearing condoms while you're banging Instagram models.

Samual Vimes , 13 minutes ago link

"... that will leave little to no export led growth potential for poor nations ..."

Except migration.

[Jan 25, 2020] Aftermath: The Iran War After the Soleimani Assassination by Jim Kavanagh

Notable quotes:
"... It always goes to Iran ..."
"... But even I was flabbergasted by what Trump did. Absolutely gobsmacked. Killing Qassem Soleimani, Iranian general, leader of the Quds forces, and the most respected military leader in the Middle East? And ..."
"... The first thing, the thing that is so sad and so infuriating and so centrally symptomatic of everything wrong with American political culture, is that, with painfully few exceptions, Americans have no idea of what their government has done. They have no idea who Qassem Soleimani was, what he has accomplished, the web of relationships, action, and respect he has built, what his assassination means and will bring. The last person who has any clue about this, of course, is Donald Trump, who called Soleimani " a total monster ." His act of killing Soleimani is the apotheosis of the abysmal, arrogant ignorance of U.S. political culture. ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Whatever their elected governments say, we'll will keep our army in Syria to "take the oil," and in Iraq to well, to do whatever the hell we want. ..."
"... Sure, we make the rules and you follow our orders. ..."
"... with nobody even noticing ..."
"... Christian Science Monitor ..."
"... under Trump's leadership ..."
Jan 24, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

"Praise be to God, who made our enemies fools."

Ayatollah Khamenei

The Killing

I've been writing and speaking for months about the looming danger of war with Iran, often to considerable skepticism.

In June, in an essay entitled " Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back ," after the U.S. initiated its "maximum pressure" blockade of Iranian oil exports, I pointed out that "Iran considers that it is already at war," and that the downing of the U.S. drone was a sign that "Iran is calling the U.S. bluff on escalation dominance."

In an October essay , I pointed out that Trump's last-minute calling off of the U.S. attack on Iran in June, his demurral again after the Houthi attack on Saudi oil facilities, and his announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria were seen as "catastrophic" and "a big win for Iran" by the Iran hawks in Israel and America whose efforts New York Times (NYT) detailed in an important article, " The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran ." I said, with emphasis, " It always goes to Iran ," and underlined that Trump's restraint was particularly galling to hard-line zionist Republican Senators, and might have opened a path to impeachment. I cited the reported statement of a "veteran political consultant" that "The price of [Lindsey] Graham's support would be an eventual military strike on Iran."

And in the middle of December, I went way out on a limb, in an essay suggesting a possible relation between preparations for war in Iran and the impeachment process. I pointed out that the strategic balance of forces between Israel and Iran had reached the point where Israel thinks it's "necessary to take Iran down now ," in "the next six months," before the Iranian-supported Axis of Resistance accrues even more power. I speculated that the need to have a more reliable and internationally-respected U.S. President fronting a conflict with Iran might be the unseen reason -- behind the flimsy Articles of Impeachment -- that explains why Pelosi and Schumer "find it so urgent to replace Trump before the election and why they think they can succeed in doing that."

So, I was the guy chicken-littling about impending war with Iran.

But even I was flabbergasted by what Trump did. Absolutely gobsmacked. Killing Qassem Soleimani, Iranian general, leader of the Quds forces, and the most respected military leader in the Middle East? And Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, Iraqi commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) unit, Kataib Hezbollah? Did not see that coming. Rage. Fear. Sadness. Anxiety. A few days just to register that it really happened. To see the millions of people bearing witness to it. Yes, that happened.

Then there was the anxious anticipation about the Iranian response, which came surprisingly quickly, and with admirable military and political precision, avoiding a large-scale war in the region, for the moment.

That was the week that was.

But, as the man said: "It ain't over 'til it's over." And it ain't over. Recognizing the radical uncertainty of the world we now live in, and recognizing that its future will be determined by actors and actions far away from the American leftist commentariat, here's what I need to say about the war we are now in.

The first thing, the thing that is so sad and so infuriating and so centrally symptomatic of everything wrong with American political culture, is that, with painfully few exceptions, Americans have no idea of what their government has done. They have no idea who Qassem Soleimani was, what he has accomplished, the web of relationships, action, and respect he has built, what his assassination means and will bring. The last person who has any clue about this, of course, is Donald Trump, who called Soleimani " a total monster ." His act of killing Soleimani is the apotheosis of the abysmal, arrogant ignorance of U.S. political culture.

It's virtually impossible to explain to Americans because there is no one of comparable stature in the U.S. or in the West today. As Iran cleric Shahab Mohadi said , when talking about what a "proportional response" might be: "[W]ho should we consider to take out in the context of America? 'Think about it. Are we supposed to take out Spider-Man and SpongeBob? 'All of their heroes are cartoon characters -- they're all fictional." Trump? Lebanese Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah said what many throughout the world familiar with both of them would agree with: "the shoe of Qassem Soleimani is worth the head of Trump and all American leaders."

To understand the respect Soleimani has earned, not only in Iran (where his popularity was around 80% ) but throughout the region and across political and sectarian lines, you have to know how he led and organized the forces that helped save Christians , Kurds , Yazidis and others from being slaughtered by ISIS, while Barack Obama and John Kerry were still " watching " ISIS advance and using it as a tool to "manage" their war against Assad.

In an informative interview with Aaron Maté, Former Marine Intelligence Officer and weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, explains how Soleimani is honored in Iraq for organizing the resistance that saved Baghdad from being overrun by ISIS -- and the same could be said of Syria, Damascus, or Ebril:

He's a legend in Iran, in Iraq, and in Syria. And anywhere where, frankly speaking, he's operated, the people he's worked with view him as one of the greatest leaders, thinkers, most humane men of all time. I know in America we demonize him as a terrorist but the fact is he wasn't, and neither is Mr. Mohandes.

When ISIS [was] driving down on the city of Baghdad, the U.S. armed and trained Iraqi Army had literally thrown down their weapons and ran away, and there was nothing standing between ISIS and Baghdad

[Soleimani] came in from Iran and led the creation of the PMF [Popular Mobilization Forces] as a viable fighting force and then motivated them to confront Isis in ferocious hand-to-hand combat in villages and towns outside of Baghdad, driving Isis back and stabilizing the situation that allowed the United States to come in and get involved in the Isis fight. But if it weren't for Qassem Soleimani and Mohandes and Kataib Hezbollah, Baghdad might have had the black flag of ISIS flying over it. So the Iraqi people haven't forgotten who stood up and defended Baghdad from the scourge of ISIS.

So, to understand Soleimani in Western terms, you'd have to evoke someone like World War II Eisenhower (or Marshall Zhukov, but that gets another blank stare from Americans.) Think I'm exaggerating? Take it from the family of the Shah :

Beyond his leadership of the fight against ISIS, you also have to understand Soleimani's strategic acumen in building the Axis of Resistance -- the network of armed local groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as the PMF in Iraq, that Soleimani helped organize and provide with growing military capability. Soleimani meant standing up; he helped people throughout the region stand up to the shit the Americans, Israelis, and Saudis were constantly dumping on them

More apt than Eisenhower and De Gaulle, in world-historical terms, try something like Saladin meets Che. What a tragedy, and travesty, it is that legend-in-his-own-mind Donald Trump killed this man.

Dressed to Kill

But it is not just Trump, and not just the assassination of Soleimani, that we should focus on. These are actors and events within an ongoing conflict with Iran, which was ratcheted up when the U.S. renounced the nuclear deal (JCPOA – Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and instituted a "maximum pressure" campaign of economic and financial sanctions on Iran and third countries, designed to drive Iran's oil exports to zero.

The purpose of this blockade is to create enough social misery to force Iran into compliance, or provoke Iran into military action that would elicit a "justifiable" full-scale, regime-change -- actually state-destroying -- military attack on the country.

From its inception, Iran has correctly understood this blockade as an act of war, and has rightfully expressed its determination to fight back. Though it does not want a wider war, and has so far carefully calibrated its actions to avoid making it necessary, Iran will fight back however it deems necessary.

The powers-that-be in Iran and the U.S. know they are at war, and that the Soleimani assassination ratcheted that state of war up another significant notch; only Panglossian American pundits think the "w" state is yet to be avoided. Sorry, but the United States drone-bombed an Iranian state official accompanied by an Iraqi state official, in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi Prime Minister, on a conflict-resolution mission requested by Donald Trump himself. In anybody's book, that is an act of war -- and extraordinary treachery, even in wartime, the equivalent of shooting someone who came to parley under a white flag.

Indeed, we now know that the assassination of Soleimani was only one of two known assassination attempts against senior Iranian officers that day. There was also an unsuccessful strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, another key commander in Iran's Quds Force who has been active in Yemen. According to the Washington Post , this marked a "departure for the Pentagon's mission in Yemen, which has sought to avoid direct involvement" or make "any publicly acknowledged attacks on Houthi or Iranian leaders in Yemen."

Of course, because it's known as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis," the Pentagon wants to avoid "publicly" bloodying its hands in the Saudi war in Yemen. Through two presidential administrations, it has been trying to minimize attention to its indispensable support of, and presence in, Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen with drone strikes , special forces operations , refueling of aircraft, and intelligence and targeting. It's such a nasty business that even the U.S. Congress passed a bipartisan resolution to end U.S. military involvement in that war, which was vetoed by Trump.

According to the ethic and logic of American exceptionalism, Iran is forbidden from helping the Houthis, but the U.S. is allowed to assassinate their advisors and help the Saudis bomb the crap out of them.

So, the Trump administration is clearly engaged in an organized campaign to take out senior Iranian leaders, part of what it considers a war against Iran. In this war, the Trump administration no longer pretends to give a damn about any fig leaf of law or ethics. Nobody takes seriously the phony "imminence" excuse for killing Soleimani, which even Trump say s "doesn't matter," or the "bloody hands" justification, which could apply to any military commander. And let's not forget: Soleimani was " talking about bad stuff ."

The U.S. is demonstrating outright contempt for any framework of respectful international relations, let alone international law. National sovereignty? Democracy? Whatever their elected governments say, we'll will keep our army in Syria to "take the oil," and in Iraq to well, to do whatever the hell we want. "Rules-based international order"? Sure, we make the rules and you follow our orders.

The U.S.'s determination to stay in Iraq, in defiance of the explicit, unequivocal demand of the friendly democratic government that the U.S. itself supposedly invaded the country to install, is particularly significant. It draws the circle nicely. It demonstrates that the Iraq war isn't over. Because it, and the wars in Libya and Syria, and the war that's ratcheting up against Iran are all the same war that the U.S. has been waging in the Middle East since 2003. In the end is the beginning, and all that.

We're now in the endgame of the serial offensive that Wesley Clark described in 2007, starting with Iraq and "finishing off" with Iran. Since the U.S. has attacked, weakened, divided, or destroyed every other un-coopted polity in the region (Iraq, Syria, Libya) that could pose any serious resistance to the predations of U.S. imperialism and Israel colonialism, it has fallen to Iran to be the last and best source of material and military support which allows that resistance to persist.

And Iran has taken up the task, through the work of the Quds Force under leaders like Soleimani and Shahlai, the work of building a new Axis of Resistance with the capacity to resist the dictates of Israel and the U.S. throughout the region. It's work that is part of a war and will result in casualties among U.S. and U.S.-allied forces and damage to their "interests."

What the U.S. (and its wards, Israel and Saudi Arabia) fears most is precisely the kind of material, technical, and combat support and training that allows the Houthis to beat back the Saudis and Americans in Yemen, and retaliate with stunningly accurate blows on crucial oil facilities in Saudi Arabia itself. The same kind of help that Soleimani gave to the armed forces of Syria and the PMF in Iraq to prevent those countries from being overrun and torn apart by the U.S. army and its sponsored jihadis, and to Hezbollah in Lebanon to deter Israel from demolishing and dividing that country at will.

It's that one big "endless" war that's been waged by every president since 2003, which American politicians and pundits have been scratching their heads and squeezing their brains to figure out how to explain, justify (if it's their party's President in charge), denounce (if it's the other party's POTUS), or just bemoan as "senseless." But to the neocons who are driving it and their victims -- it makes perfect sense and is understood to have been largely a success. Only the befuddled U.S. media and the deliberately-deceived U.S. public think it's "senseless," and remain enmired in the cock-up theory of U.S. foreign policy, which is a blindfold we had better shed before being led to the next very big slaughter.

The one big war makes perfect sense when one understands that the United States has thoroughly internalized Israel's interests as its own. That this conflation has been successfully driven by a particular neocon faction, and that it is excessive, unnecessary and perhaps disruptive to other effective U.S. imperial possibilities, is demonstrated precisely by the constant plaint from non-neocon, including imperialist, quarters that it's all so "senseless."

The result is that the primary object of U.S. policy (its internalized zionist imperative) in this war is to enforce that Israel must be able, without any threat of serious retaliation, to carry out any military attack on any country in the region at any time, to seize any territory and resources (especially water) it needs, and, of course, to impose any level of colonial violence against Palestinians -- from home demolitions, to siege and sniper killings (Gaza), to de jure as well as de facto apartheid and eventual further mass expulsions, if deems necessary.

That has required, above all, removing -- by co-option, regime change, or chaotogenic sectarian warfare and state destruction -- any strong central governments that have provided political, diplomatic, financial, material, and military support for the Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonialism. Iran is the last of those, has been growing in strength and influence, and is therefore the next mandatory target.

For all the talk of "Iranian proxies," I'd say, if anything, that the U.S., with its internalized zionist imperative, is effectively acting as Israel's proxy.

It's also important, I think, to clarify the role of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in this policy. KSA is absolutely a very important player in this project, which has been consistent with its interests. But its (and its oil's) influence on the U.S. is subsidiary to Israel's, and depends entirely on KSA's complicity with the Israeli agenda. The U.S. political establishment is not overwhelmingly committed to Saudi/Wahhabi policy imperatives -- as a matter, they think, of virtue -- as they are to Israeli/Zionist ones. It is inconceivable that a U.S. Vice-President would declare "I am a Wahhabi," or a U.S. President say "I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch, and fight and die" for Saudi Arabia -- with nobody even noticing . The U.S. will turn on a dime against KSA if Israel wants it; the reverse would never happen. We have to confront the primary driver of this policy if we are to defeat it, and too many otherwise superb analysts, like Craig Murray, are mistaken and diversionary, I think, in saying things like the assassination of Soleimani and the drive for war on Iran represent the U.S. " doubling down on its Saudi allegiance ." So, sure, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Batman and Robin.

Iran has quite clearly seen and understood what's unfolding, and has prepared itself for the finale that is coming its way.

The final offensive against Iran was supposed to follow the definitive destruction of the Syrian Baathist state, but that project was interrupted (though not yet abandoned) by the intervention of Syria's allies, Russia and Iran -- the latter precisely via the work of Soleimani and the Quds Force.

Current radical actions like the two assassination strikes against Iranian Quds Force commanders signal the Trump administration jumping right to the endgame, as that neocon hawks have been " agitating for ." The idea -- borrowed, perhaps from Israel's campaign of assassinating Iranian scientists -- is that killing off the key leaders who have supplied and trained the Iranian-allied networks of resistance throughout the region will hobble any strike from those networks if/when the direct attack on Iran comes.

Per Patrick Lawrence , the Soleimani assassination "was neither defensive nor retaliatory: It reflected the planning of the administration's Iran hawks, who were merely awaiting the right occasion to take their next, most daring step toward dragging the U.S. into war with Iran." It means that war is on and it will get worse fast.

It is crucial to understand that Iran is not going to passively submit to any such bullying. It will not be scared off by some "bloody nose" strike, followed by chest-thumping from Trump, Netanyahu, or Hillary about how they will " obliterate " Iran. Iran knows all that. It also knows, as I've said before , how little damage -- especially in terms of casualties -- Israel and the U.S. can take. It will strike back. In ways that will be calibrated as much as possible to avoid a larger war, but it will strike back.

Iran's strike on Ain al-Asad base in Iraq was a case in point. It was preceded by a warning through Iraq that did not specify the target but allowed U.S. personnel in the country to hunker down. It also demonstrated deadly precision and determination, hitting specific buildings where U.S. troops work, and, we now know, causing at least eleven acknowledged casualties.

Those casualties were minor, but you can bet they would have been the excuse for a large-scale attack, if the U.S. had been entirely unafraid of the response. In fact, Trump did launch that attack over the downing of a single unmanned drone -- and Pompeo and the neocon crew, including Republican Senators, were " stunned " that he called it off in literally the last ten minutes . It's to the eternal shame of what's called the "left" in this country that we may have Tucker Carlson to thank for Trump's bouts of restraint.

There Will Be Blood

But this is going to get worse, Pompeo is now threatening Iran's leaders that "any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies, or our interests will be answered with a decisive U.S. response." Since Iran has ties of some kind with most armed groups in the region and the U.S. decides what "proxy" and "interests" means, that means that any act of resistance to the U.S., Israel, or other "ally" by anybody -- including, for example, the Iraqi PMF forces who are likely to retaliate against the U.S. for killing their leader -- will be an excuse for attacking Iran. Any anything. Call it an omnibus threat.

The groundwork for a final aggressive push against Iran began back in June, 2017, when, under then-Director Pompeo, the CIA set up a stand-alone Iran Mission Center . That Center replaced a group of "Iran specialists who had no special focus on regime change in Iran," because "Trump's people wanted a much more focused and belligerent group." The purpose of this -- as of any -- Mission Center was to "elevate" the country as a target and "bring to bear the range of the agency's capabilities, including covert action" against Iran. This one is especially concerned with Iran's "increased capacity to deliver missile systems" to Hezbollah or the Houthis that could be used against Israel or Saudi Arabia, and Iran's increased strength among the Shia militia forces in Iraq. The Mission Center is headed by Michael D'Andrea, who is perceived as having an "aggressive stance toward Iran." D'Andrea, known as "the undertaker" and " Ayatollah Mike ," is himself a convert to Islam, and notorious for his "central role in the agency's torture and targeted killing programs."

This was followed in December, 2017, by the signing of a pact with Israel "to take on Iran," which took place, according to Israeli television, at a "secret" meeting at the White House. This pact was designed to coordinate "steps on the ground" against "Tehran and its proxies." The biggest threats: "Iran's ballistic missile program and its efforts to build accurate missile systems in Syria and Lebanon," and its activity in Syria and support for Hezbollah. The Israelis considered that these secret "dramatic understandings" would have "far greater impact" on Israel than Trump's more public and notorious recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli's capital.

The Iran Mission Center is a war room. The pact with Israel is a war pact.

The U.S. and Israeli governments are out to "take on" Iran. Their major concerns, repeated everywhere, are Iran's growing military power, which underlies its growing political influence -- specifically its precision ballistic missile and drone capabilities, which it is sharing with its allies throughout the region, and its organization of those armed resistance allies, which is labelled "Iranian aggression."

These developments must be stopped because they provide Iran and other actors the ability to inflict serious damage on Israel. They create the unacceptable situation where Israel cannot attack anything it wants without fear of retaliation. For some time, Israel has been reluctant to take on Hezbollah in Lebanon, having already been driven back by them once because the Israelis couldn't take the casualties in the field. Now Israel has to worry about an even more battle-hardened Hezbollah, other well-trained and supplied armed groups, and those damn precision missiles . One cannot overstress how important those are, and how adamant the U.S. and Israel are that Iran get rid of them. As another Revolutionary Guard commander says : "Iran has encircled Israel from all four sides if only one missile hits the occupied lands, Israeli airports will be filled with people trying to run away from the country."

This campaign is overseen in the U.S. by the likes of " praying for war with Iran " Christian Zionists Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence, who together " urged " Trump to approve the killing of Soleimani. Pence, whom the Democrats are trying to make President, is associated with Christians United For Israel (CUFI), which paid for his and his wife's pilgrimage to Israel in 2014, and is run by lunatic televangelist John Hagee, whom even John McCain couldn't stomach. Pompeo, characterized as the "brainchild" of the assassination, thinks Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran. (Patrick Lawrence argues the not-implausible case that Pompeo and Defense Secretary Esper ordered the assassination and stuck Trump with it.) No Zionists are more fanatical than Christian Zionists. These guys are not going to stop.

And Iran is not going to surrender. Iran is no longer afraid of the escalation dominance game. Do not be fooled by peace-loving illusions -- propagated mainly now by mealy-mouthed European and Democratic politicians -- that Iran will return to what's described as "unconditional" negotiations, which really means negotiating under the absolutely unacceptable condition of economic blockade, until the U.S. gets what it wants. Not gonna happen. Iran's absolutely correct condition for any negotiation with the U.S. is that the U.S. return to the JCPOA and lift all sanctions.

Also not gonna happen, though any real peace-loving Democratic candidate would specifically and unequivocally commit to doing just that if elected. The phony peace-loving poodles of Britain, France, and Germany (the EU3) have already cast their lot with the aggressive American policy, triggering a dispute mechanism that will almost certainly result in a " snapback " of full UN sanctions on Iran within 65 days, and destroy the JCPOA once and for all. Because, they, too, know Iran's nuclear weapons program is a fake issue and have "always searched for ways to put more restrictions on Iran, especially on its ballistic missile program." Israel can have all the nuclear weapons it wants, but Iran must give up those conventional ballistic missiles. Cannot overstate their importance.

Iran is not going to submit to any of this. The only way Iran is going to part with its ballistic missiles is by using them. The EU3 maneuver will not only end the JCPOA, it may drive Iran out of the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). As Moon of Alabama says, the EU3 gambit is "not designed to reach an agreement but to lead to a deeper conflict" and ratchet the war up yet another notch. The Trump administration and its European allies are -- as FDR did to Japan -- imposing a complete economic blockade that Iran will have to find a way to break out of. It's deliberately provocative, and makes the outbreak of a regional/world war more likely. Which is its purpose.

This certainly marks the Trump administration as having crossed a war threshold the Obama administration avoided. Credit due to Obama for forging ahead with the JCPOA in the face of fierce resistance from Netanyahu and his Republican and Democratic acolytes, like Chuck Schumer. But that deal itself was built upon false premises and extraordinary conditions and procedures that -- as the current actions of the EU3 demonstrate -- made it a trap for Iran.

With his Iran policy, as with Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, what Trump is doing -- and can easily demonstrate -- is taking to its logical and deadly conclusion the entire imperialist-zionist conception of the Middle East, which all major U.S. politicians and media have embraced and promulgated over decades, and cannot abandon.

With the Soleimani assassination, Trump both allayed some of the fears of Iran war hawks in Israel and the U.S. about his "reluctance to flex U.S. military muscle" and re-stoked all their fears about his impulsiveness, unreliability, ignorance, and crassness. As the the Christian Science Monitor reports, Israel leaders are both "quick to praise" his action and "having a crisis of confidence" over Trump's ability to "manage" a conflict with Iran -- an ambivalence echoed in every U.S. politician's "Soleimani was a terrorist, but " statement.

Trump does exactly what the narrative they all promote demands, but he makes it look and sound all thuggish and scary. They want someone whose rhetorical finesse will talk us into war on Iran as a humanitarian and liberating project. But we should be scared and repelled by it. The problem isn't the discrepancy in Trump between actions and attitudes, but the duplicity in the fundamental imperialist-zionist narrative. There is no "good" -- non-thuggish, non-repellent way -- way to do the catastrophic violence it demands. Too many people discover that only after it's done.

Trump, in other words, has just started a war that the U.S. political elite constantly brought us to the brink of, and some now seem desperate to avoid, under Trump's leadership . But not a one will abandon the zionist and American-exceptionalist premises that make it inevitable -- about, you know, dictating what weapons which countries can "never" have. Hoisted on their own petard. As are we all.

To be clear: Iran will try its best to avoid all-out war. The U.S. will not. This is the war that, as the NYT reports , "Hawks in Israel and America have spent more than a decade agitating for." It will start, upon some pretext, with a full-scale U.S. air attack on Iran, followed by Iranian and allied attacks on U.S. forces and allies in the region, including Israel, and then an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran -- which they think will end it. It is an incomprehensible disaster. And it's becoming almost impossible to avoid.

The best prospect for stopping it would be for Iran and Russia to enter into a mutual defense treaty right now. But that's not going to happen. Neither Russia nor China is going to fight for Iran. Why would they? They will sit back and watch the war destroy Iran, Israel, and the United States.

Happy New Year.

[Jan 25, 2020] Wolf Richter The Great American Shale Oil Gas Bust Fracking Gushes Bankruptcies, Defaulted Debt, and Worthless Shares nak

Jan 25, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Wolf Richter: The Great American Shale Oil & Gas Bust: Fracking Gushes Bankruptcies, Defaulted Debt, and Worthless Shares Posted on January 24, 2020 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield Jerri-Lynn here. I've previously crossposted many segments of Justin Mikulka's excellent series for DeSmogBlog on fracking follies. Here's Wolf Richter's take on the issue, wrapped up with a discussion of collapsing prices for oil and natural gas.

By Wolf Richter, editor of Wolf Street . Originally published at Wolf Street

Following the sharp re-drop in oil and natural gas prices in late 2018, bankruptcy filings in the US by already weakened exploration and production companies , oilfield services companies, and "midstream" companies (they gather, transport, process, or store oil and natural gas) jumped by 51% in 2019, to 65 filings, according to data compiled by law firm Haynes and Boone . This brought the total of the Great American Shale Oil & Gas Bust since 2015 in these three sectors to 402 bankruptcy filings.

The debt involved in these bankruptcies in 2019 doubled from 2018 to $35 billion. This pushed the total debt listed in these bankruptcy filings since 2015 to $207 billion. The chart below shows the cumulative total debt involved in these bankruptcies since 2015.

But this does not include the much larger losses suffered by shareholders that get mostly wiped out in the years before the bankruptcy as the shares descend into worthlessness, and that then may get finished off in bankruptcy court.

The banks, which generally had the best collateral, took the smallest losses; bondholders took bigger losses, with unsecured bondholders taking the biggest losses. Some of them lost most of their investment; others got high-and-tight haircuts; others held debt that was converted to equity in the restructured companies, some of which soon became worthless again when the company filed for bankruptcy a second time. The old shareholders took the biggest losses.

The Great American Fracking Bust started in mid-2014, when the price of WTI dropped from over $100 a barrel to below $30 a barrel by early 2016. Then the price began to recover, going over $70 a barrel in September and October 2018. But then it began to re-plunge. By the end of 2018, WTI had dropped to $47 a barrel.

Two major geopolitical events in the Middle East – the attack on Saudi Aramco's oil facilities last September and the US assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani – that would have shaken up oil markets before, only caused brief ripples, quickly squashed by the onslaught of surging US production. At the moment, WTI trades at $56.08 per barrel, which is still below where the shale oil industry can survive long-term:

And 2020 is starting out terrible for natural gas producers. The price of natural gas has plunged to $1.90 per million Btu at the moment, a dreadfully low price where no one can make any money. Producers in shale fields that produce mostly gas, such as the Marcellus, are in deeper trouble still, because oil, even at these prices, would be a lot better than just natural gas.

Producing areas with constrained takeaway capacity (it takes a lot longer to build pipelines than to ramp up production) are subject to local prices, which can be lower still. In some areas, such as the Permian in Texas and New Mexico, the most prolific oil field in the US, where natural gas is a byproduct of oil production, limited takeaway capacity has caused local prices to collapse, and flaring to surge.

The chart shows the spot price for delivery at the Henry Hub:

Texas at the Epicenter.

The most affected state, in terms of the number of bankruptcy filings, is Texas, the largest oil producer in the US. Since 2015, the state had 207 oil-and-gas bankruptcy filings, of the 402 total US filings. In 2019, Texas had 30 of the 65 US filings.

Delaware, obviously, is not into oil and gas production, but into coddling corporations, and many companies are incorporated in Delaware, including some oil-and-gas companies in Texas. When they file for bankruptcy, they do so in Delaware. These are the eight states with the most oil-and-gas bankruptcy filings since 2015:

Bankruptcy filings are triggered when the E&P companies no longer get funding from Wall Street or from their banks to continue with their perennially cash-flow negative operations and service their debts. And this is what is happening now. Wall Street and the banks have started to demand that these companies stick to an entirely new mantra in the fracking business: "live within cash flow."

When E&P companies run short on funding, they cut back on drilling activity which puts the squeeze on oilfield services companies that provide products and services to the oilfield, including drilling and completing wells. And then these OFS companies go bankrupt.

This is what happened to oilfield-services giant Weatherford which filed for a prepackaged bankruptcy last July . Back in 2014, before the oil bust, it had 67,000 employees; by July, it was down to about 26,000. The reorganization plan allowed Weatherford to shed $5.8 billion of its $7.6 billion in long-term debt. Old shareholders got wiped out. The creditors got 99% of the restructured company's new shares.

In its report on the OFS bankruptcies, Haynes and Boone cited this pressure from Wall Street and its cascading effect, which Weatherford had pointed out in its bankruptcy filing:

We note that Weatherford, in its July 2019 filing, attributed its insolvency in part to reduced drilling activity by producers who have also been dramatically affected by the commodity price slump since 2015. Investors' pressure on producers to "live within cash flow" is further reducing demand for OFS services and supplies leaving the OFS sector with little near term hope for a turnaround in prospects.

What this sector needs are much higher prices for oil and natural gas. But that cannot happen while production continues to surge. A large-scale culling in the sector – a lot more bankruptcies – could reduce production, and support higher prices.

But as soon as prices rise above certain levels, with investors still chasing yield at every twist and turn, the flood of new money will wash over the sector again, with investors having already forgotten by then that shale oil and gas was where money went to die every time. And this new money will cause a new surge in production, which will collapse prices once again. It's a cycle that the shale industry has a hard time getting out of, under the current loosey-goosey monetary conditions.


Clive , January 24, 2020 at 4:37 am

The cratering of natural gas prices is bad news for any attempt to encourage renewables.

From my own situation, I made a substantial capital investment in moving my domestic space heating from gas to ultra-high efficiency air source heat pumps.

The economics worked out as broadly favourable (this wasn't my motivation, but it helped justify the investment). My heat pumps have a raw (non-seasonally adjusted) coefficient of performance of a little over 5. So I get 5kW of heat for every 1kW of electrical input). Here in the UK I was paying 14 pence per kW/hr for electricity compared with 3.5 pence for natural gas. With a AFUE efficiency on the gas heat of 90% my heat pumps generated heat at just under 3 pence per kilowatt, the gas heat would work out, net, at around 3.8 pence. So I saved about 10% to 15% in energy costs doing space heating via renewables. Again, here in the UK market, electicity is about one-third to 40 percent from zero-carbon sources, wind, hydro and nucelar. So my carbon footprint for space heating using heat pumps was hugely lower (maybe up to half).

I've just got my utility's latest quote on energy prices. Electricity charges are about the same. But I'm being quoted 2.5 pence per kilowatt hour for natural gas.

There's no way my air source heat pumps can compete with that. I might as well just burn the gas and say screw the carbon dioxide emissions. I won't, of course. I'll grin and bear it. But the shale glut and the uneconomic (wasted) investment in overproduction is massively distorting the energy market.

Ignacio , January 24, 2020 at 5:36 am

Yes. Those are the calculations to be done. I am in the same situation though in Spain the "spread" between gas and electricity prices in energy terms is smaller compared with the UK and will probably get even smaller in the future despite the natl gas glut (because tariff policies and investment in renewables). I am paying about 0,14€/kWh on electricity consumed (fixed power contract apart but I needn't change it) and gas is at 0,06€/kWh. The seasonal coefficient of performance of my reversible air/water heat exchanger is 4.5 by Eurovent (third party certification of performance) so current expenses relative to natural gas are 0.14/(0.06 x 4.5) = 0,52 that means I save 48% relative to the gas boiler. In fact a bit less because the seasonal COP of the condensation boiler was about 1.05. But then, there are other advantages about getting freed of natural gas: not needed periodical inspections. Also my boiler was ageing and requiring more frequent revisions and repairs. In Spain the electrical mix is now about 60% renewable + nuclear (approx). Gas prices are also more volatile.

Peter , January 24, 2020 at 6:08 am

I among other things was designing, sourcing and installing high efficient NG powered floor heating system in the North West of British Columbia. I once participated in 2012 in a symposium by a supplier of heat pump systems.
The maximum savings one could expect because of the demand of the system (basically a reverse refrigerator with a compressor demanding the most power) was actually 30% of the cost of gas.
However – and that is the big one – a gas powered system at the time using high efficiency boilers cost about 5 – 7$/ square foot, depending how much electronic controls you threw into the system.
This way a new house install at an average 2500 square foot house would set you back an average of 15 grand. Installing a heatpump system with either 8 -10′ buried PEX loops or wells to 100′ deep would add between 25 – 30 000$ on top minus the cost for the boilers at an average of 4500$.
And the typical heat-pump unit would cost between 8-10 000$ with a lifetime of about 10 years, double the cost of a boiler who usually have a somewhat longer lifespan.

The reason: air heat extraction systems in Canada do not work, when the heat is needed the air temp. is at about – 5 to – 35C ..so only subsoil extraction works with attending cost of machinery and labour.

The conclusion by all 25 contractors attending was quite unanimous – heat pump systems in Canada except maybe in the most southern portions – are a waste of resources and money.

Clive , January 24, 2020 at 7:08 am

Even here in mild England, despite having a heat pump installation which has capacity for the space heating load even on a design condition day for winter extremes (let's say minus 5C) I have done a lot of data logging which has shown that in some not exactly challenging or unusual climatic situations, the heat pump performance doesn't meet anything like submittal sheet claims.

A few weeks ago, I'd forgotten to run the systems overnight at a low setpoint (but enough to keep the space at a reasonable temperature -- I usually pick 16C or the low 60s F). When I went into the kitchen / breakfast nook at seven o'clock-ish it was freezing cold (okay, maybe not freezing, about 14C) with an outside temperature of 1 or 2C (low 30s F).

I turned the heat pump on, set it to a high output as I needed the space to warm through relatively quickly before I had coffee then had to leave.

After less than five minutes, the outdoor unit went straight into a defrost cycle. Why? Because it was one of those typically English damp, foggy mornings (where there was almost 100% RH outside). Even though the outdoor coil would have been, say, 2 or 3C, as soon as the system started, the coil surface temperature would have crashed to minus 3 or 4C -- whereupon the saturated outside air promptly froze the coil solid. Coefficient of performance would have been less than one for the twenty minutes or so I needed to heat the space. I'd have been better off firing up the gas heat.

Only an isolated and probably unusual use case. But a good illustration that green technology has limits. For US climate zone 3 or 4 inhabitants, I suspect heat pumps will only ever be viable in the shoulder months. For the severe winters you guys get, I can't see how you can avoid combustion heat sources. Not to say that renewables such as air source (or ground source) heat pumps aren't a partial solution, but the capital costs will be high, probably prohibitively so for a monovalent system and overall carbon emissions savings won't be especially spectacular.

Ignacio , January 24, 2020 at 7:51 am

Coastal temperate US regions might the best. Many inhabitants there. But I guess it works in Texas, New México, Arizona (may be not so well in high plains north to the Canyon) and others. May be Arkansas for instance and north up to Iowa?. It has to be noted that when temperatures go close to 0ºC or below, and for long hours, performance is much worse. So, in Madrid (a urban heat island itself) this occurs in winter for about 3-10 hours during the night (I set thermostats at 19ºC during the night) in an average January day and it is not big deal.

But, again, the climate is very important indeed. It has to be carefully analysed.

vlade , January 24, 2020 at 8:26 am

IMO Air heatpump is good for Oz, NZ and the likes, with the south UK being marginal now, but not-applicable once Gulf Stream goes :)

ground-water, or water-water HP are needed for anything that gets freezing 3-4 months a year, but that, as you say, has nontrivial capital costs, unless costs of carbon goes up by a lot.

And, TBH, there are problems even with that. Say if ground-water is using subsurface loop, it actually has a measurable impact on the soil temperature over few years, which is bad for a number of reasons. Water-water can be ok if the water source is running water and not over-used, but I've seen water-water sources that were using ponds freeze large ponds that under normal circumstances would never fully freeze.

That said, ground-water well driven HPs are IMO very good for large office or apartment buildings, especially if they work both ways (i.e. cooling into ground in the summer, avoiding city heat islands).

JohnnyGL , January 24, 2020 at 9:00 am

I think the broadest lesson to be drawn from Clive's experience is that investment capital is actively making it difficult to transition away from fossil fuels because investment managers and underwriters absolutely insist on continuing to invest in fossil fuel projects, even if it loses tons of money!!!

How can we compete with rich, powerful people who insist on wasting money!?!?!!

inode_buddha , January 24, 2020 at 10:35 am

I have long wanted to use geothermal heat pump. In my case it simply won't happen, sadly. For one, I would never be able to get the permit to drill the well in city limits. Two, the equipment would cost more than my older, poorly insulated house itself. Three, our state government has allowed and caused some of the highest electric prices in the nation, despite having a huge hydro electric plant in town. We don't get that electricity, it gets sold to NYC at greatly inflated prices. We don't get the money either. Instead we are forced to import our electricity with full taxes and tariffs on it.

Last week, the temperatures were down to -15C at night And of course the snow.

Clive , January 24, 2020 at 11:46 am

Yes, the condition of the building is such a crucial aspect. I used to have beautiful hardwood window frames, but there were an unmitigated disaster for energy efficiency and creating a good building envelope. They were an almost complete thermal bridge. And they could only accommodate the thinnest of double glazing. In a really cold winter's day, I'd have to set the leaving air discharge temperature fairly high on the heat pump indoor coil to get warm, which hampered efficiency. I was able to change to triple glazing (which fixed the problem and significantly reduced heat loss but, again, at a cost ) because the property is modern. If I'd had an older property, the windows would only have been part of the problem (solid or poorly insulated walls and an un-insulated slab, for example, would be worse). And the chances of getting permission to replace windows in a historic house would be slim, certainly with the UK's tight building control.

And as you say, if you're in zone 5 or 6, you're a bit stuffed with regular drops to -15C (5F). My heat pumps guarentee operation down to -15C, but capacity takes a nosedive. Luckily, design conditions here in southern England are -5C, which reduces capital cost massively. And if design conditions demand operation is guaranteed down to -20C (c. 0F), there is not much choice of air source equipment available at any price. The only unit I know which is rated down to below -30C is a Panasonic mini split, which here in the UK costs nearly £2,000 (c. $2,600) for a 3/4 ton unit. Out of reach for most. So you're left with ground source, but -- as you say about NYC -- forget that idea in, say, London where tunnels and utility wayleaves can't be interfered with. And ground conditions are difficult too, with a heavy clay.

Green tech is not a panacea. I don't want to be discouraging, just the opposite. But some of the talk about how practical it is is fanciful.

inode_buddha , January 24, 2020 at 1:47 pm

I do believe that much good is possible by greatly revising and liberalizing the building codes, but practally trying to accomplish this is like pulling teeth. For some reason there is large political resistance to change in this area. Older buildings can easily be made quite efficient with current tech, but then the problem becomes an economic one. How to overcome the first costs when the cost of upgrading is more than the structure itself?

FWIW many homes in my area were built in the 70s and 1980s with the assumption that electric power would be free, or nearly free once the original bond issue for the power plant was paid off. LOL the bastards managed a 30% rate hike the same year they paid it off, using every little excuse possible.

ambrit , January 24, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Reading your reply, I was struck with just how underdeveloped the building insulation field is. I have seen blow in and spray in foam retrofit insulation systems used in commercial construction. (I particularly remember a system for inserting expanding cellular foam into the void spaces in concrete block walls. [Yes! It can be done!])
Saying the above, I have read about the building insulation codes in the Nordic countries being very 'tight.' Anyone from there care to enlighten us?
All the above is referencing winter heating. Where we live, summer time air conditioning is the main energy sink.

Harry , January 24, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Excellent points. Of course there is one plus. In the US we also need cooling in the summer. My impression was that the heat pump systems could provide this as well, and very economically.

Clive , January 24, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Yes, we had a hot summer (hot by north European standards at any rate, we had about 10-15 days in the low 90s F and only a single day over 100F, maybe another few weeks in the 80s) and my A/C cost was well under $100 for the whole cooling season, just because the heat pumps with variable speed compressors and larger coil surface areas are so efficient when in A/C mode.

As ambrit says above, even with low US electricity costs (in some areas, anyway), I don't know how feul-poor folks manage in the south and so-cal with 10 SEER equipment and poorly insulated homes when you have day after day at 95-100F.

Synoia , January 24, 2020 at 8:31 pm

It's dry in SoCal. One can easily survive by opening the windows, avoid direct sun on windows, and dress accordingly.

I lived in the tropics under the same conditions, no direct sun on windows, behind insect screen. That, one bed sheet to cover oneself, and a ceiling fan worked well.

Clive , January 24, 2020 at 7:16 am

Yes, the avoidance of service costs for gas-fired equipment plus the utility connection fee for the gas service does make me consider the idea of moving away from gas as a fuel source entirety. I must run the numbers on that to see how it might work out. It's a good point to consider for anyone looking at the long-term costs for air source water or space heating.

Ignacio , January 24, 2020 at 5:46 am

And you UKers are not precisely big spenders of electricity in per capita terms. About half than French with all that nuclear power in place. Guess that how the power is delivered to the grid has an important effect in consumption patterns.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 24, 2020 at 8:09 pm

If natural gas prices stayed cratered just long enough to exterminate thermal coal beyond hope of revival in many countries before the natural gas prices went back up . . . would that be a good thing?

Felix_47 , January 24, 2020 at 5:03 am

Can someone at NC explain why the government allows burning flared gas? If it was outlawed production would drop for oil as well until some way to store and use the gas was developed. It seems burning natural gas at the wellhead must increase CO2 since gas is a hydrocarbon.

JohnnyGL , January 24, 2020 at 9:10 am

I think you've answered your own question. The US govt has long had a policy to INCREASE oil/gas production, side effects be damned.

There's a collective action problem among producers where they'd all benefit if they all agreed to drop production 20%, say. But, each individual player benefits if they get to cheat on those production cuts.

Plus, they've all floated a ton of high interest debt, which requires that they put capital to work to generate cash flow to service that debt. It's clear that we're in the 'ponzi finance' stage of the cycle where new debt has to be issued to keep up payments on the interest of the older debt. That's why the bankruptcies are perking up.

Bond underwiters, investment mgrs, oil services execs, and other players are all very incentivized to keep getting new deals done.

ptb , January 24, 2020 at 9:19 am

First of all, it seems to be up to the states (?). There actually are regulations in Texas (the Permian basin is the marginal-cost producing location in the US, where most of these stories are centered). But the state is a friend of the industry and these regs are loosely enforced. Secondly, emitting unburned natgas (mostly methane) is even worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Thirdly, they are drilling for oil, not gas, and are hoping to maximize the oil-to-gas ratio. With low natgas prices and smaller amounts per well than elsewhere in the US, putting in pipe for natgas is not economical. In fact the oil-gas-ratio varies in simple geographic pattern that was known for years. The best, i.e. oil-rich land was claimed early, subsequent waves of development that came on line during the oil price spike in mid 2000s, are now getting killed. Fourthly, the ones losing money can't afford the extra ongoing capital investment anyway – recall the very short life cycle of wells in fracking. They are certainly cutting corners in other environment related tasks, like wastewater disposal.

So will it stop? Not at the moment no. On the legal front, not until the next Ralph Nader comes along and we get another wave of federal public interest legislation like we had in the 70s (which neither major party wanted at the time, just like now, and always). Economically, also no. The marginal producers who were late to the gold rush will exit, but there is no shortage of oil at even $50. The wildcard is in international developments. We are suppressing production and export of conventional oil from Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Venezuela. We are suppressing transport of natural gas from Russia to the EU. There is also unconventional oil in Canada. I.e. US policy is supporting prices. Net effect on global oil and gas use? None, since we just produce the difference ourselves, with a bunch of extra natgas the world doesn't want, and can't be stored, so we burn it. Sucks.

Pym of Nantucket , January 24, 2020 at 2:27 pm

Flaring is usually classed as solution gas flaring, emergency flaring and just unwanted gas flaring.

These days flaring unwanted gas is rare because of the huge waste. But not long ago producers could just flare stuff they didn't feel like getting to market, so entire reservoirs of gas were burned just to get to the oil. This mostly doesn't happen anymore.

Emergency flaring happens in production or refining when a sudden unwanted flow of gas manifests and for safety reasons, it must be disposed of rapidly. This appears a sudden very large luminous flares over short timescales. Again, this is rare and essentially can't be avoided. Flaring is much safer than just releasing.

Solution gas flaring is the bubbles of gas dissolved in liquid that come out of solution during production as liquid pressure drops close to the wellhead. These need to be collected or they would fill up liquid storage tanks. The volume and composition of the gas flows determines the cost of collection. Companies have to balance the cost of collection vs. the damage to the environment if flared. They usually try to make a case that the containment cost (the cost to produce it to market, since the market value is usually minimal) is prohibitive and request a permit to flare. This is the usual minimum compliance approach of most resource development.

Basically, the conditions to obtain flaring permits vary with jurisdiction and are based on a balance of revenue vs. environmental damage. These days most places encourage developers to collect solution gas, but for remote locations in sour plays, that is costly to the viability of the play.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 24, 2020 at 8:12 pm

If no one will build the gas-flaring oil fielders a free pipeline from oilfield to gas-market, and building their own pipeline would cost more than what the oilfielders could sell the gas for; they will just burn it in place. The other alternative would be for them to release the methane UNburned into the air, which would be even worse than burning it first.

Peter , January 24, 2020 at 5:49 am

But as soon as prices rise above certain levels, with investors still chasing yield at every twist and turn, the flood of new money will wash over the sector again, with investors having already forgotten by then that shale oil and gas was where money went to die every time

This among the agricultural folk is called the "Schweinezyklus" or "pig cycle". Typical for larger scale farming when from a previous oversupply the market has tried up, raising prices and everyone increasing again their pig production till – again – the market collapses.
I studied agricultural economy and production in the early 1970's when this type of cycle became typical when farmers moved from mixed production providing risk compensation to dual or even single products.

Peter , January 24, 2020 at 10:41 am

has tried up didn't catch that, shoud read "dried up" of course – or even better: crashed

ambrit , January 24, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Indeed, the situation you refer to looks suspiciously like a process of financialization of agriculture. Not to wax nostalgic for the "good old days" of backbreaking labour and crummy living standards, but agriculture used to be a form of 'calling.' Now it's just a job. Of course, the serfs and other 'forced' agricultural labourers of yesteryear disproved the ethos of Goldsmith's "The Deserted Villiage."
There was a Golden Age, but it was not evenly distributed.

BrianM , January 24, 2020 at 8:54 am

Frankly it is hard from Wolf's figures to know if he is even right. $207bn of defaulted debt sounds like a lot of money, but is that from a total of $250bn or $2.5tn? I have no idea if this is a lot of the industry or a little. And 2019 may be worse than 2018 for defaults, but both 2016 and 2017 were way higher than that. Are things really getting worse or not? I am deeply sceptical about the financial viability of fracking, but the case being made here doesn't justify the sensation rhetoric.

jefemt , January 24, 2020 at 9:03 am

Heat: Superinsulated tight homes with air-exchange conservation remains the low hanging fruit

A refrigerator and incandescent light bulb provide a lot of heat, if one can preserve it

John Rose , January 24, 2020 at 10:19 am

In 1993 I built a house guaranteed to use 6,192 Kwh per year for heating and cooling here in central PA, near Harrisburg. That includes resistance electric heat for backup. At that time the cost was less than $40 a month.
Following the specifications to achieve this added about $2,500 to the cost of this 1288 sq.ft. house. It was a result of government requirements but no subsidies except for administrative cost by the utility. Those requirements were subsequently dropped and the program disappeared.

ambrit , January 24, 2020 at 12:21 pm

My question would be, was this program dropped because of complaints from the general public, the homeowners as a group, or the builders and developers? $2 USD a square foot added to construction expense wasn't chicken feed back in the 1970s.

Michael , January 24, 2020 at 10:45 am

Great article! It causes me to wonder, are the neocons trying to start a shooting war in the Middle East to drive up US petroleum prices? Make America Great at least Texas. ;-)

Pym of Nantucket , January 24, 2020 at 2:33 pm

I feel like supply control over there is more about petrodollars and perhaps efforts to hurt Russia and Iran. Meanwhile the US seems to essentially be dumping oil with QE and repo money funding money losing small fracking plays. I figured ages ago the plan was always to have the supermajors mop up the wreckage at pennies on the dollar when the party ends.

Mike , January 24, 2020 at 12:57 pm

Paper bankruptcies seem like a small price to pay for the gain in geopolitical influence of all that extra production. Not being at the mercy of someone turning down the crude tap can foster much more unilateral, terrible decision making in the middle east.
The invisible hand of the market did well to coddle a massive infrastructure buildup I saw first hand in the Eagle Ford in Texas. Long term well production may have dropped off significantly faster than the sales pitch but all of those wells will still be in place to re-fracture when the market demands it.

Jack Parsons , January 24, 2020 at 5:42 pm

How do I short fracking?

Synoia , January 24, 2020 at 8:35 pm

Short Continental Resources, Howard Hamm's Company,

He's the Genius who married his corporate Lawyer, and then went womanizing.

[Jan 25, 2020] Is $90 Oil Possible An Interview With Jay Park

3% decline per year means 30% decline in a decade. You can't replace this amount with the new fields, so the consumption should shrunk and price of oil jump over $100.
Jan 25, 2020 | safehaven.com

Jan 17, 2020,

... ... ...

JP: It is interesting to look back seven or so years when the talk of peak oil was very real. Then, too, everyone said all the easy resources had been found and produced, and called for $200 oil. But technology has proven that sentiment to be false. I suspect the same will be true in the future as tech advances march on.

Yes, today's resources are more expensive, but we are still managing to make it work at $60 oil.

Still, in the last five years, we have seen far less exploration and discovery of oil than what we are consuming. That disparity can't continue forever - we need new oil. And with existing fields declining at 3-4% per year you need to find a lot of new oil. The new oil that may be coming online in Guyana, Brazil, and Norway this year will close that gap to some extent, even with less growth from US shale than we have seen in recent years.

JS: Aside from Iran, do you see any other geopolitical time bombs that people are overlooking?

JP: Venezuela, but it's difficult to see Maduro leaving soon. He's survived US sanctions and local opposition. Even if the Maduro government is replaced, it would take a number of years for Venezuela's oil industry to come back.

Perhaps a more urgent venue is Mexico. Its oil industry is facing significant challenges in the coming years.

In 2016, I helped Pemex do its first ever joint venture and we developed the first-ever farm out structure for Mexico. Farmout is a very common oil and gas transaction in which someone with a lot of land but not enough money to explore it enters into a transaction with an oil company, swapping capital for land. This was the first time in 70 years that Pemex had done one of these.

The concept of hydrocarbon reforms in Mexico was based on this idea: let's let private capital take some petroleum grants and let Pemex use its massive acreage opportunities and allow it to do joint ventures. I thought those reforms were good and produced fast results, with farmouts being made and new discoveries and production happening. Within a few years, things were already moving.

The fruits of that were just starting to be seen when the new government came in and stopped it. There are great shale opportunities within Mexico, but they are undeveloped and the shale boom has bypassed the country. The regime that makes unconventional oil work has clearly been demonstrated in other countries, but Mexico has failed to capitalize on this. To make this work, the petroleum regime would need to be a concessions regime and a regime with a relatively low government take 50% or less. That's not Mexico today.

JS: So what's the solution?

JP: The key to success for any government is focusing on exploiting as many types of resources as efficiently as possible.

Different kinds of resources require different recipes - different terms. In Alberta, where I'm from, we have five different regimes for five different resources. And all five get exploited. Nothing is wasted.

Take that back to Namibia. It's got a 5% royalty and 35% corporate income tax on its oil reserves it's an attractive environment because they haven't found anything yet as the country is vastly underexplored. They aren't taxing the resource high because they want people to find it. It needs to be handled on a case by case basis but when looking for new opportunities in oil exploration the petroleum regime should always be one of the key things you look at. Good geology, good fiscal terms, and a good petroleum regime -- that's the formula, and at Recon Energy Africa , we think we have found that in Namibia's Kavango Basin.

JS: Thanks for your time Jay.

As the race to tap Africa's true potential as a major oil and gas producing region heats up, other companies are also vying for their own piece of the pie, including

By. James Stafford of Oilprice.com

[Jan 24, 2020] Dennis Kucinich, Antiwar to His Core by Adam Dick

Jan 10, 2020 | ronpaulinstitute.org

A Thursday article by Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone discusses Dennis Kucinich's work in politics, from Kucinich's eight terms in the United Sates House of Representatives to his two presidential campaigns to his activities since leaving political office. Taibbi, in the article focused much on Kucinich's long-term devotion to advancing the case for peace, describes Kucinich as "antiwar to his core."

Read Taibbi's article here .

Kucinich is an Advisory Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.


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[Jan 24, 2020] REALITY CHECK: Coronavirus fear porn

getpocket.com
Jan 24, 2020 | off-guardian.org

The Telegraph morbidly warns that it's "highly likely" coronavirus is already in the UK , whilst CNET tells us the deathtoll is spiking .

It all sounds very scary.

The reality is that 26 people have died.

For comparison's sake, 80,000 people died of flu in 2018 in the United States alone. (at least, according to the CDC ).

Coronavirus – or rather, this particular strain of coronavirus, as they are very common and mostly harmless – has had 800 reported cases to go along with those 26 reported deaths. That's a mortality rate of just over three per cent.

Further, we don't even know the details of those 26 unfortunate patients, it's entirely possible the 26 deaths are accounted for by the very old, the very young, or the immuno-compromised. But even if they're not 3 per cent mortality is not high.

The death rate of bacterial meningitis, for example, stands at about 10%. Meningitis is an unfortunate fact of life, but it's not a public health scare.

SARS, of course, was a public health scare – totally unjustifiably, as it turns out. Most of you will remember the SARS outbreak of 2002/2003 being similarly apocalyptically covered in the media.

In the end, over the course of just about a year 9000 cases resulted in 800 people losing their lives. These numbers are rough because, as a syndrome rather than a disease, SARS is difficultly to clearly diagnose. Assuming the stats are correct, that's a mortality rate of about 9% or three times this "terrifying" coronavirus.

The simple reality is that this new virus strain is currently affecting a group of people the size of a small primary school, and has killed fewer than a bad traffic pile-up or a medium-sized drone strike.

So why the lockdown? Why the fear?

Usually, that means at least one agenda. Maybe more than one.

The Ebola outbreak of 2015/16 resulted in large numbers of NATO-backed doctors descending on Western Africa to "assist". As a result, ebola vaccines that had been awaiting approval for years got a 2 year field study, before being approved .

During the 2009 "Swine Flu" panic , a German MEP accused the World Health Organisation of "creating a panic" in order to sell vaccines. Though the WHO vehemently denied this, an independent report later found that several of the "independent flu experts" that WHO consulted had financial ties to vaccine manufacturers .

Three years ago, the Zika virus had Floridians BEGGING to be sprayed with pesticides and had millions of genetically modified mosquitoes released into the wild. Considering Zika has never been scientifically proven to do anything by cause cold symptoms , that was a nice result.

If you're agenda-spotting in this case, be on the lookout for a "new" medicine getting rushed through patent offices. This anti-coronavirus drug will then be bought-up in huge amounts by hospitals and health services the world over.

Whichever of the handful of pharmagiants owns the patent will get a huge profit boom, plus the soaring stock prices that go along with owning the miracle cure to the scary disease du jour .

Longer-term, there is vaccination to consider. Medicine you have to take even if you're not sick is a goldmine for pharmaceutical companies, and if the government makes them mandatory (always an issue simmering on the back-burner) well, then that's even better. Not only does it mean they don't really have to work (I mean, how much work do you put into a product literally everyone is legally obliged to use?), but the opportunities for large-scale genetic research (and corruption) are endless.

Generally speaking, fear is always useful. If you can frighten people they do whatever you say. A fact known to leaders and propagandists for centuries.

Following the Boston bombing, despite the manhunt being for just two alleged bombers, the entire city of Boston was put on lockdown. The national guard rolled tanks down the street, and nobody said a word.

Right now, despite fewer than 30 deaths, millions of Chinese people are under a "lockdown". Public gatherings are being halted. That's power you can't buy.

It never hurts to normalise the idea of martial law. After all, you don't know when you might need it for real.

I know there is a temptation, in alt-media circles, to see China as a good guy just because they oppose US imperialism, but they have corruption and authoritarianism there too. Their officials are just as power-hungry as ours. There's no reason to think they wouldn't take advantage of a crisis (or even create one), in order to increase their control.

Hell, maybe there is no clear agenda at all. Maybe that's just the psychology of power. Maybe scaring people feels good, and maybe controlling them feels better. Maybe there's no point in doing terrible things to get into power if you're not going to use it for its own sake.

Is it possible there's more to this story? Some fundamental dishonesty most people never think to question? As always with the mainstream media, it's difficult to take anything for granted.

We don't know the casualty numbers are accurate, China could be downplaying the threat to minimise panic.

We don't know that the "lockdown" is as extensive as our media report, the press could be exaggerating to paint China as hysterical or autocratic.

We don't even know for sure the disease exists at all , when you think about it.

As usual, absolute scepticism is required. It's hard to say exactly what's happening yet, but when 26 deaths makes international news that means something is going on.

Stay tuned.


Petra Liverani ,

Kit, when are you going to acknowledge that the Boston bombing was a staged event? They couldn't make it more obvious. A man who has just had both legs blown off would not be whizzed along in a wheelchair.

https://wideshut.co.uk/review-of-jeff-bauman-legless-man-boston-bombing-conspiracy-theory-graphic-images/

Petra Liverani ,

Fear porn

Is it possible there's more to this story? Some fundamental dishonesty most people never think to question? As always with the mainstream media, it's difficult to take anything for granted.

Oh yes.

Wikipedia says:

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds that include diarrhea in cows and pigs, and upper respiratory disease in chickens. In humans, the virus causes respiratory infections, which are often mild, but in rare cases are potentially lethal.

However, further down it says:

The virus was suspected to have originated in snakes,[12] but many leading researchers disagree with this conclusion [13]

Footnote 12 link takes us to this:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jmv.25683
Journal of Medical Virology
Global Health Concern Stirred by Emerging Viral Infections (January 22, 2020)
Abstract of Commentary

Emerging viral infections continue to pose a major threat to global public health. In 1997, a highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) virus was found to directly spread from poultry to humans unlike previously reported transmission routs of human‐to‐human and livestock‐to‐human, stirring a grave concern for a possible influenza pandemic.

Authors:
Guangxiang (George) Luo: Above article only article published in journal
Shou‐Jiang Gao: A number of articles co-authored

We are told:
This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record. Please cite this article as doi: 10.1002/jmv.25683

No mention of snakes in abstract and you wonder why that is.

The link to footnote 13 where the snakes theory is rubbished is found here.
https://www.wired.com/story/wuhan-coronavirus-snake-flu-theory/

"It's complete garbage," says Edward Holmes, a zoologist at the University of Sydney's Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, who specializes in emerging RNA viruses, a class that includes coronaviruses like 2019-nCoV. Holmes, who also holds appointments at the Chinese CDC and Fudan University in Shanghai, is among a number of scientists who are pointing out -- in virology forums, science Slacks, and on Twitter -- what they deem to be major flaws in the paper, and calling on the journal to have it retracted. "It's great that viral sequence data is getting shared openly in real time," says Holmes. "The downside is then you get people using that data to make conclusions they really shouldn't. The result is just a really unhelpful distraction that smacks of opportunism."

Preliminary analyses of the genetic data released by Chinese authorities suggest that 2019-nCoV is most closely related to a group of coronaviruses that typically infect bats. But for a variety of reasons -- including that it's winter and bats are hibernating -- many scientists suspect that some other animal moved the virus from bats to humans.

Wei's team compared the codons preferred by 2019-nCoV to those preferred by a handful of potential hosts: humans, bats, chickens, hedgehogs, pangolins, and two species of snakes.

They reported finding the most overlap in codon bias between 2019-nCoV and those two kinds of snakes -- the Chinese cobra and the many-banded krait. Taken together, these results "suggest for the first time that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV," the authors wrote. "New information obtained from our evolutionary analysis is highly significant for effective control of the outbreak caused by the 2019-nCoV-induced pneumonia."

Editors of the Journal of Medical Virology told WIRED they stand by the publication, which they say went through a formal peer-review process that found the authors' methods were solid. That process was expedited -- the reviewers were given 24 hours to comment and the authors had three days to respond. But given the need for public health information, they believe the speed-up was appropriate. "With this serious situation, with people dying, holding this paper up in review would be criminal," says Shou-Jian Gao, the journal's editor-in-chief. "This is intended to just open the scientific dialogue."

"It's complete garbage", "it's winter and bats are hibernating", "codons preferred by 2019-nCoV to those preferred by a handful of potential hosts: humans, bats, chickens, hedgehogs, pangolins, and two species of snake [the Chinese cobra and the many-banded krait.]"

"With this serious situation, with people dying, holding this paper up in review would be criminal," says Shou-Jian Gao, the journal's editor-in-chief. "This is intended to just open the scientific dialogue."

If this is science, I don't want it.

Dungroanin ,

Somethings ARE going on – THEY don't want us to know.

1. Brexit bs in 7 days – not the hard brexit THEY want, because they cornered themselves with a deal that keeps us IN for the next 12 months requiring compliance ha ha ha.

2. The Syrian escapade is OVER.
The Iran invasion is NOT going to happen. Iraq has a million citizens on the streets PEACEFULLY confirming to the 2003 invaders to really fuck the fuck off. (And out of the EU, they will not have us pushing them into ME meddling).

3. Russian bogeymaning is OVER. Russiagate is over. Ukrainegate is fucked because Biden & Son won't risk being questioned. Trump will not want anymore casualties because he proved that his military and MIC trillions can't stop the missiles turning the deep bunkers at their bases from being turned into giant acoustic brain soup drums.

But hey lets look over there – dem chinese have a flu and are taking precautions when most of them would be in transit for their new year and spread it faster than usual

The Empire is dead and no amount of Integrity Iniative bollocks and media management by the brass or Royal soap opera can hide the end of the grand game as losers.

Watch as the stolen election victory turns to ashes on their tongues – Corbyn may still notch up another PM before April.

Gall ,

Here's Jon Rappoport's take;

https://blog.nomorefakenews.com/2020/01/23/china-virus-epidemic-the-gong-show-on-roller-skates/

I tend to agree.

Richard Le Sarc ,

The whole thing is just another exercise in deeply racist and hate-driven Sinophobia. The Western MSM presstitute scum are virtually gloating over this affair, and, in the Guardian, of course, their resident compradore (beep) 'Lily' Kuo, in Beijing, has turned the whole thing into a great threat to Chinese stability, CCP rule and ' Emperor' Xi, of course, in an exercise in hate-driven hysteria that will surely get her a pat on the head from her White Masters.
The death-toll seems less than that in a typical 'flu season, mostly the old and previously unwell, as usual, but is inflated with pure malice and barely disguised satisfaction. The admirable Chinese efforts to curtail the spread of the disease are compared to so-called 'repression' of 'dissidents', and our ABC resident presstitute, Birtles, almost twitches with delight and animus as he relays his agit-prop. The Chinese are about to build a 1000 bed hospital, possibly in a weekend, while the UK NHS crumbles in the shite that is UK ' society', but now I recall that was euthanised by Thatcher decades ago. You can see why Western supremacists so hate China. And I would vouch that this disease, so conveniently ' emerging' right at New Year, possibly came via Fort Detrick.

Dee ,

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30185-9/fulltext

Willem ,

Many words for basically same thing as above

C: they also don't know what this is about (but don't want to admit)

I like scientific journals, more then newspapers as the scientific journals show the conflict of interest of authors. Guess what

' FGH reports personal fees from University of Alabama Antiviral Drug Discovery and Development Consortium, and is a non-compensated consultant for Gilead Sciences, Regeneron, and SAB Biotherapeutics, which have investigational therapeutics for coronavirus infections.'

Probably of 'no' relevance

RobG ,

The Spanish flu outbreak in 1919 killed way more people than those who were slaughtered in World War One (and that was a huge number of people).

I agree with Kit's premise here; RE: 'disease propaganda' and all the rest of it.

However, I also have to point out the obvious: unprecedented numbers of people are now dying from cancer. Here's a jolly Guardian piece from 2014

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/03/worldwide-cancer-cases-soar-next-20-years

We're looking at more people now dying from cancer, on a yearly basis, than all the wars in human history put together. A greater percentage of people dying from cancer than ever died from the bubonic plague.

Cancer is a relatively simple one to sort out (and a lot of it comes down to diet -cancers feed on sugar, although very few oncologists will tell you that).

I would venture that our current tidal wave of cancer is largely due to psychopathy and its endemic corruption: Big Pharma doesn't want you to die, but neither does it want you well. Big Pharma wants you somewhere inbetween, where you are constantly ill and having to pay for their 'cures'.

As an aside, can anyone name me a single member of the UK royal family (and there's an awful lot of them) who's ever been diagnosed with cancer?

Sam ,

There's been a few of them, according to this article:
https://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/how-many-members-of-the-royal-family-have-had-cancer.html/

John Deehan ,

Elizabeth's father died of lung cancer.

Robbobbobin ,

As an aside, can anyone name me a single member of the UK royal family (and there's an awful lot of them) who's ever been diagnosed with cancer?

There seem to be quite a lot of people who think the UK Royal Family are a cancer. Does that count?

Einstein ,

Public health panics are ideal for enforcing more controls on an already fearful and submissive public.
The Wuhan "corona" (crown) virus is about as deadly as 'flu, which we weather without note every year.
But health bureaucrats have noted how much "terror" panics can swell the budgets of the military and police. "Epidemics" of "dangerous" bugs offer the ideal opportunity for the builders of public health empires to follow suit.

Willem ,

3 per cent mortality for a transmittable disease, like corana virus (or common cold) is very high. Earth has 7.5 billion inhabitants, so if all of them get infected, and 3% die, then 225 million people will die from corona virus.

But then the numbers are, as usual, probably at least partially bogus:

the nominator: 26 deaths are probably not all caused by corona virus, but only correlated with corona virus. My guess (ad good as anyone's guess) is that of these 26 at most 10 died.

The denominator: who let's himself get tested for the common cold (corona virus). Probably only the most severe cases. My guess, this virus is for 95% very mild for which no doctor is visited, and then of the 5% who visit the doctor with common cold symptoms at most 1% is tested positive for corona, which are the 800 cases. Which makes the denominator not 800, but 800:0,01:0,05:0,95=a very large number.

Now if you divide 10 over a very number, your death rate will be close to 0, similar as the death rate is due to normal common cold.

Binra ,

The 'medical' sector has long been empowered by those who want their fears salved rather than question the narratives that are fed and used to gain power or possession of others.

However, as with switching to 'non-violence' – a habitual identification isn't something to be turned on or off when a crisis comes – but as a way of living.

Weaponised and marketised science gravitated to germ theory rather than the terrain theory of pleomorphism (of biota).
Closed system thinking posits external 'evils' and 'avengers' for hidden sins and secret fears, projecting 'cause' OUT THERE and diverting (sacrificing) energy and identity to defence such that the guardians become guards that lock into fear, frailty and dependency as the condition for NEEDING Powers that demand sacrifice of freedom and joy in life for a perpetual threat-managed existence.

Mainstream science is generally the narrative that suits the Establishment – not just of the 'powers of the day' – but the collective fear seeking protection and reassurance.

Toxic exposures generate the terrain for a need to clear out or neutralise the toxic environment – this results in 'inflammations and infections' which of course CAN be fatal or result in degradation of health and cognition. Our 'Rockefeller medicine' has focused on interventions that suppress or block symptoms to ward the idea of losing the realm and skills of relational nursing and clinical doctoring to pharma-technicians – who interpret most anything as a basis to intensify or increase the level and degree of interventions.

Fear is contagious – and hidden or masked fears are simply secretly active.

Immunity is not a matter of 'antibodies' but firstly of cellular health and function.
This principle can be transferred to our social political culture.

Hugo ,

The Chinese government faced a lot of international criticism for its perceived tardiness in handling the 2003 SARS crisis. The heavy-handedness at locking down Wuhan might be to do with not wishing to face international criticism again.

[Jan 23, 2020] US industrial production has fallen

Jan 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Duncan Idaho , Jan 24 2020 0:49 utc | 138

US industrial production has fallen from 5.4% growth in September 2018 to minus-1.01% in December. "Production has been negative for the last four months."

[Jan 23, 2020] Elizabeth Warren Rages Against Anti-Impeachment Senate Republicans not understanding that she already lost her race

Another unforced error. What a politically naive (or evil) twat, this Elithabeth Warren is
"I can't think of more devastating news if you're running one of these campaigns for president than the news that your candidate is going to be bound to a desk in Washington, day after day, in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses." ~Obama's former campaign manager David Axelrod
Sanders and Warren have the most to lose from a Senate impeachment trial. Iowa is Feb 3 and New Hampshire is Feb 11. As McConnell told reporters "A number of Democratic senators are running for president. I'm sure they're gonna be excited to be here in their chairs not being able to say anything during the pndency of this trial. So hopefully we'll work our way through it and finish it in not too lengthy a process,"
Clinton trial ran from Jan. 7 until Feb. 12, approximately five weeks. So if McConnell is shrewd, he will ensure that Sanders and Warren were absent from both Iowa is Feb 3 and Feb 11.
Jan 23, 2020 | americantruthtoday.com

This, however, is an outright lie. If Democrats truly valued America over their own partisan interests, they wouldn't have forced a hoax impeachment through government, despite the overwhelming opposition against it. Moreover, if "country over party" mattered to Democrats, then they wouldn't have commenced talks about impeachment since before the inception of Trump's presidency.

A new year and new decade may be upon us, but this doesn't mean that Democrats are any less terrified of seeing their impeachment sham die in the Senate.

As a matter of fact, 2020 Democrat and Sen. Elizabeth Warren spent New Year's Eve raging against her Republican colleagues and making baseless accusations against Trump, per reports from Washington Examiner.

Reviewing Warren's Tirade Against Senate Republicans The 2020 socialist's remarks about Republican members of the Senate came during her New Year's Eve address in Boston, Massachusetts. Warren lamented over the reality that Democrats will not be able to bully or intimidate Republicans into voting for a partisan-driven, unfounded sham. This blows Warren's far-left, unwell mind, so she opted to blast GOP senators as " fawning, spineless defenders" of President Trump's supposed "crimes."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks in Boston: "[President Trump] has tried to squeeze foreign governments to advance his own political fortunes. Meanwhile, the Republicans in Congress have turned into fawning spineless defenders of his crimes." pic.twitter.com/sGyLqsA8C7

-- The Hill (@thehill) January 1, 2020

Shortly thereafter, Warren followed up with the lie that ramming the weakest and thinnest impeachment through government "brought no joy" to House Democrats. This, of course, just isn't accurate; House Rep. Rashida Tlaib posted a gleeful livestream prior to the "impeachment" where she bragged about being "on [her] way to the United States House floor" in order to "impeach President Trump."

Finally, Warren declared that conservative senators need to "choose truth over politics" or else President Trump will attempt to "cheat his way" via the 2020 election.

Misplaced Outrage As per usual with Democrats, the outrage is misplaced and misguided. If Warren is so eager for a trial, then she should be directed this animosity towards House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who continues to hoard the impeachment articles.

f left-wing Congress members truly believed they had a solid case against the president, they'd be more than eager for the Senate to receive the articles and begin conducting a trial; instead, however, raging at President Trump and Senate Republicans is easier than acknowledge the true reality here.

Democrats forced the weakest, thinnest, and fastest impeachment through the House. The president did absolutely nothing wrong and will be acquitted either when the Senate holds a trial or by default if Pelosi keeps hoarding the articles.

[Jan 23, 2020] American Collapse by Daniel Lazare

Jan 01, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org
© Photo: Wikipedia In order to understand the great impeachment charade, it's important to keep three facts about the strange bird known as the United States uppermost in mind.

The first is that the U.S. is the ultimate law-based society, one whose structure derives entirely from a single four-thousand-word document created in 1787. The second is that while Americans think of the Constitution as the greatest plan of government known to man, it's actually the opposite: a grotesque pre-modern relic that grows more unrepresentative and unresponsive with each passing year. A pro-rural Electoral College that has overridden the popular vote in two of the last five presidential elections; a lopsided Senate that allows the majority in ten urban states to be outvoted four-to-one by the minority in the other forty; lifetime Supreme Court justices who can veto any law at variance with an ancient constitution that only they understand – it's a broken-down old rattletrap in need of a top-to-bottom overhaul. Yet it's so thoroughly frozen that structural reform is all but unthinkable.

The third thing to keep in mind is that as the constitutional system grows more and more undemocratic, the two-party system that grew out of it in the nineteenth century grows more undemocratic as well. The result is a bipartisan race to the right. Sometimes, the Republicans seem to be in the lead as Trump imprisons thousands of immigrants fleeing murderous conditions in Central America that the U.S. war on drugs helped create. Other times it's the Democrats as they beat the drums for imperialist war against Russia.

Take all these factors – xenophobia, mindless obeisance to ancient law, a president imposed against the popular will, etc. – mix thoroughly, place in a super-hot oven due to a growing imperial crisis, and impeachment is what pops out. The process itself is very old, a by-product of fourteenth-century Anglo-Norman law. (Impeachment derives from the Old French empeechier, meaning to ensnare or entrap.) The British abandoned it in the late eighteenth century when Edmund Burke wasted seven years impeaching an Indian colonial governor named Warren Hastings on grounds of corruption. (The House of Lords finally acquitted him in 1795). But then the Americans took it up and now, two centuries later, are immersed in the same brainless exercise.

The results were all too evident in mid-December when one Democrat after another took to the House floor to denounced Donald Trump for violating the ancient constitution by withholding lethal military aid from the neo-Nazis of the Ukraine's Azov Battalion.

"We used to stand up to Putin and Russia – I know the party of Ronald Reagan used to," declared Adam Schiff, the Democratic point man on impeachment, his voice quivering with emotion. The fight to defend the Ukraine is "about more than Ukraine. It's about us. It's about our national security. Their fight is our fight. Their defense is our defense . And when the President sacrifices our interests, our national security for his election, he is sacrificing our country for his personal gain."

This was the Democratic line in a nutshell. In order to safeguard the ancient republic at home, the U.S. must pay foreign satraps to defend its imperial interests abroad. Since no patriotic American could possibly disagree, any and all problems must stem from meddling by the evil dictator Vladimir Putin and his traitorous puppet in the Oval Office. Americans must therefore fulfill the ancient law by impeaching him just as the "founding fathers" would have wanted. Only then will peace and freedom return to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It's all quite ridiculous, but what's even more bonkers is that millions of Americans think it's true. Trump is meanwhile in his element. Now that Democrats have voted to impeach him in the House, he'd like nothing more than a lengthy trial in the Senate because (a) acquittal in the upper house is a certainty and (b) it will allow the Republican majority to put the torturers to the rack by subpoenaing everyone from Joe and Hunter Biden to Adam Schiff himself and declaring them in contempt of Congress if they refuse to testify. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has described an all-out Senate war as "mutual assured destruction," and he's right since, once unleashed, the ancient constitutional machinery will grind everything to dust in its path.

American politics will grow only more farcical. If Putin looms larger and larger on the world stage; if "the moment has come," as the Times Literary Supplement recently announced , "for even the most hardened skeptics to admit that he is one of the most successful world leaders of our era"; if the U.S. at the same time staggers from one imperial disaster to another even while descending into civil war – then it's not because the Russian leader is particularly clever, but because the U.S. is locked in an ancient mindset that is increasingly divorced from reality. It's lost in a constitutional labyrinth of its own making, and impeachment is leading it deeper and deeper into the maze.

[Jan 23, 2020] Elisabeth Warren as a politically incompetent wannabe

She is now trapped and has no space for maneuvering. She now needs to share the path to the cliff with Pelosi gang to the very end. Not a good position to be in.
Apr 20, 2019 | www.nbcnews.com

On impeachment, Warren just stole the show from her dodging Democratic rivals By Jonathan Allen

Analysis: The Massachusetts senator's forceful call to begin the process of removing Trump set her apart from the crowded primary field.

While most fellow 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls ducked and dived to find safe ground -- and party elders solemnly warned against over-reach -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren stepped boldly out into the open late Friday and called on the House to begin an impeachment process against President Donald Trump based on special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

The Massachusetts senator and 2020 Democratic presidential contender slammed Trump for having "welcomed" the help of a "hostile" foreign government and having obstructed the probe into an attack on an American election.

"To ignore a President's repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country," Warren tweeted. "The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States."

It was a rare moment in a crowded and unsettled primary: A seized opportunity for a candidate to cut through the campaign trail cacophony and define the terms of a debate that will rage throughout the contest.

[Jan 22, 2020] #MeToo provocation against Bernie Sanders organized by CNN and Elizabeth Warren

By David Walsh 20 January 2020 20 January 2020
Notable quotes:
"... New York Times ..."
"... own account ..."
"... Why did you say that? ..."
Jan 22, 2020 | www.wsws.org

CNN and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat from Massachusetts, with powerful establishment support, combined to stage a provocation this week aimed at slowing down or derailing the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Through CNN, the Massachusetts senator's camp first alleged that Sanders told her in December 2018 a woman could not win a presidential election, an allegation Sanders strenuously refuted. At the Democratic debate on Tuesday night, CNN's moderator acted as though the claim was an indisputable reality, leading to a post-debate encounter between Warren and Sanders, which the network just happened to record and circulate widely.

This is a political stink bomb, borrowed from the #MeToo playbook, typical of American politics in its putrefaction. Unsubstantiated allegations are turned into "facts," these "facts" become the basis for blackening reputations and damaging careers and shifting politics continuously to the right. Anyone who denies the allegations is a "sexist" who refuses "to believe women."

The Democratic establishment is fearful of Sanders, not so much for his nationalist-reformist program and populist demagogy, but for what his confused but growing support portends: the movement to the left by wide layers of the American population. The US ruling elite seems convinced, like some wretched, self-deluded potentate of old, that if it can simply stamp out the unpleasant "noise," the rising tide of disaffection will dissipate.

CNN's operation began Monday when it posted a "bombshell" article by M.J. Lee with the headline, "Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren in private 2018 meeting that a woman can't win, sources say."

The article animatedly begins, "The stakes were high when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren met at Warren's apartment in Washington, DC, one evening in December 2018." Among other things, the CNN piece reported, the pair "discussed how to best take on President Donald Trump, and Warren laid out two main reasons she believed she would be a strong candidate: She could make a robust argument about the economy and earn broad support from female voters. Sanders responded that he did not believe a woman could win."

Lee continues, "The description of that meeting is based on the accounts of four people: two people Warren spoke with directly soon after the encounter, and two people familiar with the meeting." In reality, the story is based on the account of one individual with a considerable interest in cutting into Sanders' support, i.e., Elizabeth Warren. As the New York Times primly noted, "Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders were the only people in the room."

The absurd CNN article goes on, "After publication of this story, Warren herself backed up this account of the meeting, saying in part in a statement Monday, 'I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.'" In other words, Warren "backed up" what could only have been her own account insofar as she was the only person there besides Sanders!

After a pro forma insertion of Sanders' categorical denial that he ever made such a statement, in which he reasonably observed, "Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016," Lee plowed right ahead as though his comments were not worth responding to. She carries on, "The conversation also illustrates the skepticism among not only American voters but also senior Democratic officials that the country is ready to elect a woman as president" and, further, "The revelation that Sanders expressed skepticism that Warren could win the presidency because she is a woman is particularly noteworthy now, given that Warren is the lone female candidate at the top of the Democratic field."

This is one of the ways in which the sexual misconduct witch-hunt has poisoned American politics, although by no means the only one. Warren's claims about a private encounter simply "must be believed."

During the Democratic candidates' debate itself Tuesday night, moderator Abby Phillips addressed Sanders in the following manner: "Let's now turn to an issue that's come up in the last 48 hours [because Warren and CNN generated it]. Sen. Sanders, CNN reported yesterday that -- and Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren confirmed in a statement, that in 2018 you told her that you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that? " (emphasis added). Sanders denied once again that he had said any such thing. Phillips persisted, "Sen. Sanders, I do want to be clear here, you're saying that you never told Sen. Warren that a woman could not win the election?" Sanders confirmed that. Insultingly, Phillips immediately turned to Warren and continued, "Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?" This was all clearly prepared ahead of time, a deliberate effort to embarrass Sanders and portray him as a liar and a male chauvinist.

Following the debate, Warren had the audacity to confront the Vermont senator, refuse to shake his hand and assert, "I think you called me a liar on national TV." When Sanders seemed startled by her remark, she repeated it. CNN managed to capture the sound and preserve it for widespread distribution.

The WSWS gives no support to Sanders, a phony "socialist" whose efforts are aimed at channeling working-class anger at social inequality, poverty and war back into the big business Democratic Party. He is only the latest in a long line of figures in American political history devoted to maintaining the Democrats' stranglehold over popular opposition and blocking the development of a broad-based socialist movement.

Nonetheless, the CNN-Warren "dirty tricks" operation is an obvious hatchet job and an attack from the right. Accordingly, the New York Times and other major outlets have been gloating and attempting to make something out of it since Tuesday night. The obvious purpose is to "raise serious questions" about Sanders and dampen support for him, among women especially. It should be recalled that in 2016 Sanders led Hillary Clinton among young women by 30 percentage points.

Michelle Cottle, a member of the Times editorial board (in "Why Questions on Women Candidates Strike a Nerve," January 15), asserted that the issue raised by the Warren-Sanders clash was "not about Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren. Not really. And Ms. Warren was right to try to shift the focus to the bigger picture -- even if some critics will sneer that she's playing 'the gender card.'"

Cottle's "bigger picture," it turned out, primarily involved smearing Sanders. The present controversy, she went on, "has resurfaced some of Mr. Sanders's past women troubles. His 2016 campaign faced multiple accusations of sexual harassment, pay inequities and other gender-based mistreatment. Asked early last year if he knew about the complaints, Mr. Sanders's reaction was both defensive and dismissive: 'I was a little bit busy running around the country'."

After Cottle attempted to convince her readers, on the basis of dubious numbers, that Americans were perhaps too backward to elect a female president, she continued, again, taking as good coin Warren's allegations, "This less-than-inspiring data -- along with from-the-trail anecdotes about the gender-based voter anxiety that Ms. Warren and Ms. [Amy] Klobuchar have been facing -- help explain why Mr. Sanders's alleged remarks struck such a nerve. Women candidates and their supporters aren't simply outraged that he could be so wrong. They're worried that he might be right." The remarks he denies making have nonetheless "outraged" Cottle and others.

The Times more and more openly expresses fears about a possible Sanders' nomination. Op-ed columnist David Leonhardt headlined his January 14 piece, "President Bernie Sanders," and commented, "Sanders has a real shot of winning the Democratic nomination. Only a couple of months after he suffered a mild heart attack, that counts as a surprise." Leonhardt downplays Sanders' socialist credentials, observing that "while he [Sanders] would probably fail to accomplish his grandest goals (again, like Medicare for all), he would also move the country in a positive direction. He might even move it to closer to a center-left ideal than a more moderate candidate like Biden would."

On Thursday, right-wing Times columnist David Brooks argued pathetically against the existence of "class war" in "The Bernie Sanders Fallacy." He ridiculed what he described as "Bernie Sanders's class-war Theyism: The billionaires have rigged the economy to benefit themselves and impoverish everyone else." According to Brooks, Sanders is a Bolshevik who believes that "Capitalism is a system of exploitation in which capitalist power completely dominates worker power." Accusing Sanders of embracing such an ABC socialist proposition is all nonsense, but it reveals something about what keeps pundits like Brooks up at night.

The Times is determined, as the WSWS has noted more than once, to exclude anything from the 2020 election campaign that might arouse or encourage the outrage of workers and young people. The past year of global mass protest has only deepened and strengthened that determination.

The Times , CNN and other elements of the media and political establishment, and behind them powerful financial-corporate interests, don't want Sanders and they don't necessarily want Warren either, who engaged in certain loose talk about taxing the billionaires, before retreating in fright. They want a campaign dominated by race, gender and sexual orientation -- not class and not social inequality. The #MeToo-style attack on Sanders reflects both the "style" and the right-wing concerns of these social layers.

[Jan 22, 2020] The End Of US Military Dominance Unintended Consequences Forge A Multipolar World Order

Notable quotes:
"... The decision to invade Afghanistan following the events of September 11, 2001, while declaring an "axis of evil" to be confronted that included nuclear-armed North Korea and budding regional hegemon Iran, can be said to be the reason for many of the most significant strategic problems besetting the U.S.. ..."
"... The U.S. often prefers to disguise its medium- to long-term objectives by focusing on supposedly more immediate and short-term threats. Thus, the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and its deployment of the Aegis Combat System (both sea- and land-based) as part of the NATO missile defense system, was explained as being for the purposes of defending European allies from the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles. ..."
"... As was immediately clear to most independent analysts as well as to President Putin , the deployment of such offensive systems are only for the purposes of nullifying the Russian Federation's nuclear-deterrence capability . Obama and Trump faithfully followed in the steps of George W. Bush in placing ABM systems on Russia's borders, including in Romania and Poland. ..."
"... There is no defense against such Russian systems as the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, which serves to restore the deterrence doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD), which in turn serves to ensure that nuclear weapons can never be employed so long as this "balance of terror" exists. Moscow is thus able to ensure peace through strength by showing that it is capable of inflicting a devastating second strike with regard regard for Washington's vaunted ABM systems. ..."
"... In addition to the continued economic and military pressure placed on Iran, one of the most immediate consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, better known as the Iran nuclear deal) has been Tehran being forced to examine all options. Although the country's leaders and political figures have always claimed that they do not want to develop a nuclear weapon, stating that it is prohibited by Islamic law, I should think that their best course of action would be to follow Pyongyang's example and acquire a nuclear deterrent to protect themselves from U.S. aggression. ..."
"... Once again, Washington has ended up shooting itself in the foot by inadvertently encouraging one of its geopolitical opponents to behave in the opposite manner intended. Instead of stopping nuclear proliferation in the region, the U.S., by scuppering of the JCPOA, has only encouraged the prospect of nuclear proliferation. ..."
"... Trump's short-sightedness in withdrawing from the JCPOA is reminiscent of George W. Bush's withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. By triggering necessary responses from Moscow and Tehran, Washington's actions have only ended up leaving it at a disadvantage in certain critical areas relative to its competitors. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Starting from the presidency of George W. Bush to that of Trump, the U.S. has made some missteps that not only reduce its influence in strategic regions of the world but also its ability to project power and thus impose its will on those unwilling to genuflect appropriately .

Some examples from the recent past will suffice to show how a series of strategic errors have only accelerated the U.S.'s hegemonic decline.

ABM + INF = Hypersonic Supremacy

The decision to invade Afghanistan following the events of September 11, 2001, while declaring an "axis of evil" to be confronted that included nuclear-armed North Korea and budding regional hegemon Iran, can be said to be the reason for many of the most significant strategic problems besetting the U.S..

The U.S. often prefers to disguise its medium- to long-term objectives by focusing on supposedly more immediate and short-term threats. Thus, the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and its deployment of the Aegis Combat System (both sea- and land-based) as part of the NATO missile defense system, was explained as being for the purposes of defending European allies from the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles. This argument held little water as the Iranians had neither the capability nor intent to launch such missiles.

As was immediately clear to most independent analysts as well as to President Putin , the deployment of such offensive systems are only for the purposes of nullifying the Russian Federation's nuclear-deterrence capability . Obama and Trump faithfully followed in the steps of George W. Bush in placing ABM systems on Russia's borders, including in Romania and Poland.

Following from Trump's momentous decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), it is also likely that the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) will also be abandoned, creating more global insecurity with regard to nuclear proliferation.

Moscow was forced to pull out all stops to develop new weapons that would restore the strategic balance, Putin revealing to the world in a speech in 2018 the introduction of hypersonic weapons and other technological breakthroughs that would serve to disabuse Washington of its first-strike fantasies.

Even as Washington's propaganda refuses to acknowledge the tectonic shifts on the global chessboard occasioned by these technological breakthroughs, sober military assessments acknowledge that the game has fundamentally changed.

There is no defense against such Russian systems as the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, which serves to restore the deterrence doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD), which in turn serves to ensure that nuclear weapons can never be employed so long as this "balance of terror" exists. Moscow is thus able to ensure peace through strength by showing that it is capable of inflicting a devastating second strike with regard regard for Washington's vaunted ABM systems.

In addition to ensuring its nuclear second-strike capability, Russia has been forced to develop the most advanced ABM system in the world to fend off Washington's aggression. This ABM system is integrated into a defensive network that includes the Pantsir, Tor, Buk, S-400 and shortly the devastating S-500 and A-235 missile systems. This combined system is designed to intercept ICBMs as well as any future U.S. hypersonic weapons

The wars of aggression prosecuted by George W. Bush, Obama and Trump have only ended up leaving the U.S. in a position of nuclear inferiority vis-a-vis Russia and China. Moscow has obviously shared some of its technological innovations with its strategic partner, allowing Beijing to also have hypersonic weapons together with ABM systems like the Russian S-400.

No JCPOA? Here Comes Nuclear Iran

In addition to the continued economic and military pressure placed on Iran, one of the most immediate consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, better known as the Iran nuclear deal) has been Tehran being forced to examine all options. Although the country's leaders and political figures have always claimed that they do not want to develop a nuclear weapon, stating that it is prohibited by Islamic law, I should think that their best course of action would be to follow Pyongyang's example and acquire a nuclear deterrent to protect themselves from U.S. aggression.

While this suggestion of mine may not correspond with the intentions of leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the protection North Korea enjoys from U.S. aggression as a result of its deterrence capacity may oblige the Iranian leadership to carefully consider the pros and cons of following suit, perhaps choosing to adopt the Israeli stance of nuclear ambiguity or nuclear opacity, where the possession of nuclear weapons is neither confirmed nor denied. While a world free of nuclear weapons would be ideal, their deterrence value cannot be denied, as North Korea's experience attests.

While Iran does not want war, any pursuit of a nuclear arsenal may guarantee a conflagration in the Middle East. But I have long maintained that the risk of a nuclear war (once nuclear weapons have been acquired) does not exist , with them having a stabilizing rather than destabilizing effect, particularly in a multipolar environment.

Once again, Washington has ended up shooting itself in the foot by inadvertently encouraging one of its geopolitical opponents to behave in the opposite manner intended. Instead of stopping nuclear proliferation in the region, the U.S., by scuppering of the JCPOA, has only encouraged the prospect of nuclear proliferation.

Trump's short-sightedness in withdrawing from the JCPOA is reminiscent of George W. Bush's withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. By triggering necessary responses from Moscow and Tehran, Washington's actions have only ended up leaving it at a disadvantage in certain critical areas relative to its competitors.

The death of Soleimani punctures the myth of the U.S. invincibility

I wrote a couple of articles in the wake of General Soleimani's death that examined the incident and then considered the profound ramifications of the event in the region.

What seems evident is that Washington appears incapable of appreciating the consequences of its reckless actions. Killing Soleimani was bound to invite an Iranian response; and even if we assume that Trump was not looking for war (I explained why some months ago), it was obvious to any observer that there would be a response from Iran to the U.S.'s terrorist actions.

The response came a few nights later where, for the first time since the Second World War, a U.S. military base was subjected to a rain of missiles (22 missiles each with a 700kg payload). Tehran thereby showed that it possessed the necessary technical, operational and strategic means to obliterate thousands of U.S. and allied personnel within the space of a few minutes if it so wished, with the U.S. would be powerless to stop it.

U.S. Patriot air-defense systems yet again failed to do their job, reprising their failure to defend Saudi oil and gas facilities against a missile attack conducted by Houthis a few months ago.

We thus have confirmation, within the space of a few months, of the inability of the U.S. to protect its troops or allies from Houthi, Hezbollah and Iranian missiles. Trump and his generals would have been reluctant to respond to the Iranian missile attack knowing that any Iranian response would bring about uncontrollable regional conflagration that would devastate U.S. bases as well as oil infrastructure and such cities of U.S. allies as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Dubai.

After demonstrating to the world that U.S. allies in the region are defenseless against missile attacks from even the likes of the Houthis, Iran drove home the point by conducting surgical strikes on two U.S. bases that only highlights the disconnect between the perception of U.S. military invincibility and the reality that would come in the form of a multilayered missile conflict.

Conclusion

Washington's diplomatic and military decisions in recent years have only brought about a world world that is more hostile to Washington and less inclined to accept its diktats, often being driven instead to acquire the military means to counter Washington's bullying. Even as the U.S. remains the paramount military power, its ineptitude has resulted in Russia and China surpassing it in some critical areas, such that the U.S. has no chance of defending itself against a nuclear second strike, with even Iran having the means to successfully retaliate against the U.S. in the region.

As I continue to say, Washington's power largely rests on perception management helped by the make-believe world of Hollywood. The recent missile attacks by Houthis on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities and the Iranian missile attack a few days ago on U.S. military bases in Iraq (none of which were intercepted) are like Toto drawing back the curtain to reveal Washington's military vulnerability. No amount of entreaties by Washington to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain will help.

The more aggressive the U.S. becomes, the more it reveals its tactical, operational and strategic limits, which in turn only serves to accelerate its loss of hegemony.

If the U.S. could deliver a nuclear first strike without having to worry about a retaliatory second strike thanks to its ABM systems, then its quest for perpetual unipolarity could possibly be realistic. But Washington's peer competitors have shown that they have the means to defend themselves against a nuclear first strike by being able to deliver an unstoppable second strike, thereby communicating that the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) is here to stay. With that, Washington's efforts to maintain its status as uncontested global hegemon are futile.

In a region vital to U.S. interests , Washington does not have the operational capacity to stand in the way of Syria's liberation. When it has attempted to directly impose its will militarily, it has seen as many as 80% of its cruise missiles knocked down or deflected , once again highlighting the divergence between Washington's Hollywood propaganda and the harsh military reality.

The actions of George W. Bush, Obama and Trump have only served to inadvertently accelerate the world's transition away from a unipolar world to a multipolar one. As Trump follows in the steps of his predecessors by being aggressive towards Iran, he only serves to weaken the U.S. global position and strengthen that of his opponents.


Big Sky Country , 1 hour ago link

Up to the election of our current President, I agree that we were bullying for the personal gain of a few and our military was being used as a mercenary force. The current administration is working on getting us out of long term conflicts. What do you think "drain the swamp" means? It is a huge undertaking and need to understand what the "deep state" is all about and their goals.

The death of Soleimani was needed and made the world a safer place. Dr. Janda / Freedom Operation has had several very intriguing presentations on this issue. It is my firm belief that there is a worldwide coalition to make the world a better and safer place. If you want to know about the "deep state" try watching: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cYZ8dUgPuU

Roacheforque , 2 hours ago link

All mostly true, but the constant drone of this type of article gets old, as the comments below attest. We really don't need more forensic analysis by the SCF, what we need is an answer to America's dollar Imperialism problem. But we'll never get it, just as England never got an answer to it's pound Imperialism problem.

I like Tulsi Gabbard, but she can never truly reveal the magnitude of the dollar Imperialism behind her "stop these endless wars" sloganism. Besides, she doesn't have the billions required to mount any real successful campaign. Only billionaires like Bloomberg need apply these days.

The Truth is that NO ONE will stand up to Wall Street and it's system of global dollar corporatism (from which Bloomberg acquired his billions, and to which the USG is bound). It's suicide to speak the truth to the masses. The dollar must die of its own disease.

Trump is America's Chemo. The cure nearly as bad as the cancer, but the makers of it have a vested interest in its acceptance.

messystateofaffairs , 3 hours ago link

General Bonespur murders a genuine military man from the comfort of his golf course. America is still dangerous, Pinky might be tired but the (((Brain))) is working feverishly on solutions for the jaded .

msamour , 2 hours ago link

There has been a perception in the last 25 years that the US could win a nuclear war. This perception is extremely dangerous as it invites the US armed forces to commit atrocities and think they can get away with it (they are for now). The world opinion has turned, but the citizens of the United States of America are not listening.

If the US keeps going down the path they are currently on, they are ensuring that war will eventually reach its coast.

Jazzman , 4 hours ago link

To challenge the US Empire the new Multipolar World is focused on a two-pronged strategy:

1. Nullifying the US nuclear first strike (at will) as part of the current US military doctrine - accomplished (for a decade maybe).
2. Outmaneuvering the US petrodollar in trade, the tool to control the global fossil fuel resources on the planet - in progress.

What makes 2.) decisive is that the petrodollar as reserve currency is the key to recycle the US federal budget deficit via foreign investment in U.S. Treasury Bonds (IOUs) by the central banks, thus enabling the global military presence and power projection of the US military empire.

rtb61 , 4 hours ago link

All their little plots and schemes failed, as corrupt arsehole after corrupt arsehole stole the funding from those plots and schemes to fill their own pockets. They also put the most corrupt individuals they could find into power, so as much as possible could be stolen and voila, everywhere they went, everything collapsed, every single time.

Totally and utterly ludicrous decades, of not punishing failure after failure has resulted in nothing but more failure, like, surprise, surprise, surprise.

Routine failures have forced other nation to go multipolar or just rush straight to global economic collapse as a result of out of control US corruption. Russia and China did not outsmart the USA, the USA did it entirely to itself by not prosecuting corruption at high levels, even when it failed time and time again, focusing more on how much they could steal, then on bringing what ever plot or scheme to a successful conclusion.

Falcon49 , 4 hours ago link

The use of the terms "Unintended Consequences", shortsightedness, mistakes, stupidity, or ignorance provides the avenue to transfer or divert the blame. It excuses it away as bad decisions so that the truth and those responsible are never really exposed and held accountable. The fact is, these actions were not mistakes or acts of shortsightedness...they were deliberate and planned and the so-called "unintended consequences" were actually intended and part of their plan. Looking back and linking the elites favorite process to drive change (problem, reaction, solution)...one can quickly make the connection to many of the so-called "unintended consequences" as they are very predictable results their actions. It becomes very clear that much of what has occurred over the last few decades has been deliberate with planned/intended outcomes.

mike_1010 , 6 hours ago link

I think the biggest advantage USA used to have was that they claimed to stand for Freedom and Democracy. And for a time, many people believed them. That's partly why the USSR fell apart, and for a time USA had a lot of goodwill among ordinary Russians.

But US political leaders squandered this goodwill when they used NATO to attack Yugoslavia against Russia's objections and expanded NATO towards Russia's borders. This has been long forgotten in USA. But many ordinary Russians still seethe about these events. This was the turning point for them that motivated them to support Putin and his rebuilding of Russia's military.

When you have goodwill among your potential competitors, then they don't have much motivation to increase their capabilities against you. This was the situation USA was in after the USSR fell apart. But USA squandered all of this goodwill and motivated the Russians to do what they did.

And now, USA under Trump has done something like this with China. USA used to have a lot of goodwill among the ordinary Chinese. But now this is gone as a result of US tariffs, sanctions, and its support for separatism in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Now, the Chinese will be as motivated as the Russians to do their best at promoting their interests at the expense of USA. And together with Russia, they have enough people and enough natural resources to do more than well against USA and its allies.

I think USA could've maintained a lot more influence around the world through goodwill with ordinary people, than through sanctions, threats, and military attacks. If USA had left Iraq under Saddam Hussein alone, then Iran wouldn't have had much influence in there. And if USA had left Iran alone, then the young people there might've already rebelled against their strict Islamic rule and made their government more friendly with USA.

Doing nothing, except business and trade, would've left USA in a much better position, than the one USA is in now.

Now USA is bankrupting itself with unsustainable military spending and still falling behind its competitors. USA might still have the biggest economy in the world in US Dollar terms. But this doesn't take into account the cost of living and purchasing parity. With purchasing parity taken into account, China now has a bigger economy than that of USA. Because internally, they can manufacture and buy a lot more for the same amount of money than USA can. A lot of US military spending is on salaries, pensions, and healthcare of its personnel. While such costs in Russia and China are comparatively small. They are spending most of their money on improving and building their military technology. That's why in the long run, USA will probably fall behind even more.

abodasho , 4 hours ago link

The Anglos in the U.S. are not from there and are imposters who are claiming characteristics and a culture that doesn't belong to them. They're using it as a way to hide from scrutiny, so you blame "Americans", when its really them. That's why there's such a huge disconnect between stated values and actions. The values belong to another group of people, TRUE Americans, while the actions belong to Anglos, who have a history of aggressive and forced, irrational violence upon innocents.

mike_1010 , 3 hours ago link

It's true that ordinary people are often different from their government, including in Russia, in China, in Iran, in USA, and even in Nazi Germany in the past.

But the people in such a situation are usually powerless and unable to influence their government. So, their difference is irrelevant in the way their government behaves and alienates people around the world.

USA is nominally a democracy, where the government is controlled by the people. But in reality, the people are only a ceremonial figurehead, and the real power is a small minority of rich companies and individuals, who fund election campaigns of politicians.

That's why for example most Americans want to have universal healthcare, just like all other developed countries have. But most elected politicians from both major parties won't even consider this idea, because their financial donors are against it. And if the people are powerless even within their own country, then outside with foreigners, they have even less influence.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/28/most-americans-now-support-medicare-for-all-and-free-college-tuition.html

MalteseFalcon , 2 hours ago link

The USA completely squandered their "soft" power.

nuerocaster , 7 hours ago link

Anyone interested in the real story?

1. Nation Building? It worked with Germany and Japan, rinse and repeat. So what if it's comparing apples to antimatter?

2. US won the Cold War? So make the same types of moves made during Reagan adm? The real reason the Soviet Empire collapsed was because it was a money losing empire while the US was a money making empire. Just review the money pits they invested in.

3. Corruption? That was your grandfather's time. The US has been restructured. Crime Syndicate and Feudal templates are the closest. Stagnation and decline economically and technologically are inevitable.

4. Evaluating the competition is problematic. However perhaps the most backward and regressive elements in this society are branding themselves as progressive and getting away with it. That can't work.

[Jan 22, 2020] Journalism as the last escape of mathematically illiterates

Jan 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Jan 22 2020 12:30 utc | 95

@ Russ | Jan 22 2020 8:33 utc | 86 (about the gas cylinder(s).

Any bright high-school kid who's been through the math curriculum and has some calculus can tell you, give you, a range of terminal velocities in air at that elevation. You have to assume that the thing fell in the "best" attitude, and also the "worst" attitude - a matter of aerodynamic drag. Obviously there's a terminal velocity - somewhere about 200 feet per second. There's a minimum altitude above which it doesn't fall any faster because of drag...and it has a krappy drag coefficient. You have to work with the numbers to get a fine understanding...but it's the sort of question you'd see in a university engineering exam.

The mass is assumed to be something like 100 pounds. Do the math.

Then there's the question of concrete quality...it's highly heterogeneous..but you can assume it's top quality, and estimate the rebar density and thickness from the pretty pictures.

And you can assume zero projectile deformation (not even straps torn off!!?) and the hole's not big enough.

The story's bull.

William Gruff , Jan 22 2020 13:48 utc | 98

somebody @96: "But Western main stream media does not report on it."

Of course not. The western corporate mass media does not have among their workforce "Any bright high-school kid who's been through the math curriculum and has some calculus..." that Walter @95 points out as being a prerequisite to see how bogus is the narrative they are tasked with amplifying. The workforce chose to major in Journalism specifically because they had difficulties with basic arithmetic, with such heartless and unyielding topics as addition and subtraction being forever beyond them in the absence of a calculator.

Many think I exaggerate or am joking, but this is literal truth. These individuals of which the corporate mass media are composed get their conception of physics from crappy syfy movies in which spaceship blasters make "Pew-pew!!" noises in the vacuum of space. If it is necessary for the plot that a flimsy canister is able to punch through steel rebar reinforced concrete with barely a scratch, then they are fine with it. If these new age journalists' "contact" in Langley (what we know to be their "handler" or "operator" ) says it is believable, they won't pause for an instant to question.

After all, earnest delusion and ignorance serves the Mockingbird mass media's handlers in the CIA far better than does cynical and deliberate deception, though that last does have a sizable role to play as well. Deliberate deception is difficult and requires some skill, while any American can do stupidity with the greatest of ease.

[Jan 21, 2020] Warren is a political novice, and while she has sharp elbows she's extremely naive and makes blunder after blunder

Notable quotes:
"... I have no confidence in Elizabeth Warren "doing the right thing"; she might be susceptible to the pressure and to the ignominy attached to doing the disastrously wrong thing. ..."
"... *Donald Trump, for his part, is reportedly " privately obsessed " with Sanders, not, it seems, with Biden. ..."
"... From a recent episode of the Jimmy Dore Show, it's the cringe-worthy Warren "Selfie" Gimmick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5JWIiVMj6g If this doesn't scream "political novice," I don't know what will. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Jeff W , January 21, 2020 at 1:41 am

" if she does anything less than help elect the last and only progressive with a chance, she damages them both to Biden's benefit "

If Elizabeth Warren's candidacy becomes unviable, the pressure on her to combine her delegates with those of Sanders -- from those supporting Bernie Sanders and those legitimately concerned with Joe Biden's chances against Trump* -- will be enormous . And, if , instead, Warren helps nominate Biden and Biden then goes on to lose to Donald Trump -- as I'm all but certain he will -- it will be all too clear just who played a pivotal role in helping to make that match-up even possible.

I have no confidence in Elizabeth Warren "doing the right thing"; she might be susceptible to the pressure and to the ignominy attached to doing the disastrously wrong thing.

*Donald Trump, for his part, is reportedly " privately obsessed " with Sanders, not, it seems, with Biden.

rusti , January 21, 2020 at 2:07 am

In Sanders' case, his surge in the polls coincided with his emergence as the chief apologist for the Iranian regime. We needed to point out that he would be dangerous as president since he made clear he would appease terrorists and terror-sponsoring nations.

If this is really representative of a line of attack that the Trump campaign plans to use on him, that would be great. I can't imagine anything that would resonate less with voters. But I was a bit surprised to see this in a Bernie fundraising mail:

The wise course would have been to stick with that nuclear agreement, enforce its provisions, and use that diplomatic channel with Iran to address our other concerns with Iran, including their support of terrorism.

What groups are they referring to when they say this? Hezbollah, which is part of Parliament in Lebanon? Iraqi PMF that are loosely integrated with the Iraqi army?

Bill Carson , January 21, 2020 at 2:15 am

Yep, Warren is a political novice, and she's extremely naive. That Massachusetts senate seat was practically handed to her on a silver platter. She has no idea that she was played in '16 and she's being played now.

Arizona Slim , January 21, 2020 at 8:22 am

From a recent episode of the Jimmy Dore Show, it's the cringe-worthy Warren "Selfie" Gimmick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5JWIiVMj6g If this doesn't scream "political novice," I don't know what will.

[Jan 21, 2020] Warren "Willingness to compromise" = willingness to give obeisance to most of exploitative corporate capitalism

She endorced Hillary in 2016. That tells a lot about her... Now she backstabbed Bernie. What's next?
Notable quotes:
"... Warren has a track record of lying: lied about her dad being a janitor, hers kids going to public school, getting fired for being pregnant, and obviously the Native American heritage. ..."
"... My gut is she is going to endorse Joe Biden and prob got a tease of VP or some other role and all she had to do was kamikaze into Bernie with this. It's backfiring but at this rate and given she's too deep into it now when she drops out she'll prob back Biden as she hasn't shown the integrity to back a guy like Berni. ..."
"... She's toxic now. No one will want her has VP. Sanders supporters despise her, she comes from a small, Democratic state and she's loaded with baggage. She brings nothing to a ticket. She torpedoed any hopes or plans she might have had in that regard. ..."
"... Bernie is labeled as a socialist. Actually he is a real Roosevelt democrat. ..."
"... The most impressive thing I have witnessed about Bernie is that he can extemporaneously recall and explain exactly why he voted as he did on every piece of legislation that he has cast a vote on. in. his. life. It is a remarkable talent. ..."
"... The outcome of the upcoming Iowa Caucus is too hard to predict. All the candidates are very close. Sanders needs to turnout young and working class voters to win. ..."
"... My impression is her supporters are mostly older, mostly female, and mostly centrist. Many want to elect a female pres before they die. Prior to the she said event her supporters second choice were split fairly evenly between Bernie and Biden but the latest fracas is driving her most progressive supporters to Bernie. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Massinissa , January 21, 2020 at 12:49 pm

"Willingness to compromise" = willingness to give obeisance to most of exploitative corporate capitalism.

Amit Chokshi , January 21, 2020 at 5:52 am

Warren has a track record of lying: lied about her dad being a janitor, hers kids going to public school, getting fired for being pregnant, and obviously the Native American heritage.

As pointed here on NC she's great at grandstanding when bank CEOs are in front of her and doing nothing following that.

My gut is she is going to endorse Joe Biden and prob got a tease of VP or some other role and all she had to do was kamikaze into Bernie with this. It's backfiring but at this rate and given she's too deep into it now when she drops out she'll prob back Biden as she hasn't shown the integrity to back a guy like Berni.

Yves Smith Post author , January 21, 2020 at 5:57 am

I don't see how she is anyone's VP. She is too old. You want someone under 60, better 50, particularly for an old presidential candidate. Treasury Secretary is a more powerful position. The big appeal of being VP is maybe it positions you later to be President but that last worked out for Bush the Senior.

Arizona Slim , January 21, 2020 at 8:24 am

And Bush the Senior lost his re-election bid.

pebird , January 21, 2020 at 9:41 am

Because he asked us to read his lips. And he didn't think we were lip readers.

Oh , January 21, 2020 at 10:57 am

She may be looking to be the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. /s

Sue E Greenwald , January 21, 2020 at 8:19 am

She's toxic now. No one will want her has VP. Sanders supporters despise her, she comes from a small, Democratic state and she's loaded with baggage. She brings nothing to a ticket. She torpedoed any hopes or plans she might have had in that regard.

jackiebass , January 21, 2020 at 6:40 am

I've watched Bernie for years. Even long before he decided to run for president. He is the same today as he was then. Bernie isn't afraid to advocate for something , even though he will get a lot of backlash. I also believe he is sincere in his convictions. If he says something he believes in it.Something you can't say for the other candidates. Bernie is by far my first choice.

After that it would be Warren. Bernie is labeled as a socialist. Actually he is a real Roosevelt democrat. As a life long democrat, I can't support or vote for a Wall Street candidate. Unlike one of the other commenters, I will never vote for Trump but instead wold vote for a third party candidate. Unfortunate the DNC will do anything to prevent Bernie from being candidate. Progressive democrats need to get out and support a progressive or the nomination will again be stolen by a what I call a light republican.

Robert Hahl , January 21, 2020 at 7:26 am

What is great about Bernie is that he is so sure-footed. It was visible in the hot-mic trap Warren set for him where she got nothing, it actually hurt her.

Anonymous Coward , January 21, 2020 at 3:05 pm

The most impressive thing I have witnessed about Bernie is that he can extemporaneously recall and explain exactly why he voted as he did on every piece of legislation that he has cast a vote on. in. his. life. It is a remarkable talent.

Howard , January 21, 2020 at 6:48 am

The outcome of the upcoming Iowa Caucus is too hard to predict. All the candidates are very close. Sanders needs to turnout young and working class voters to win. By many reports, Warren has an excellent ground game in IA and The NY Times endorsement has given a path for her to pick up Klobuchar voters after round one of the caucus.

Biden is a mystery to me. How the heck is he even running. Obama pleaded with him not to. That being said, it wouldn't surprise me if he finishes in the top two. Buttigieg is the wild card. I think the "electability" argument will hurt him as he can't win after NH.

ALM , January 21, 2020 at 7:51 am

According to a recent poll, Elizabeth Warren is one of the most unpopular senators with voters in her own state as measured against approval rates of all other senators in their states. I find this very surprising for someone with a national profile. What do voters in Massachusetts not like about her?

As for me, I find it more and more difficult to trust Warren because she takes the bait and yields to pressure during a primary when the pressure to back down, moderate, and abandon once championed policy positions and principles is a great deal less than it is during the general election. Warren has gone from Medicare4All to a public option to, in the recent debate, tweaks to the ACA. Despite her roll-out of an ambitious $10 trillion Green New Deal plan, Warren is now to the right of Chuck "Wall Street" Schumer as evidenced by her support of NAFTA 2.0 which utterly fails to address climate change. WTF! Where will she be during a general election?

And her political instincts are awful as recently demonstrated by her woke, badly executed girl power attack against a candidate who has been a committed feminist for his entire political career.

Another Scott , January 21, 2020 at 9:18 am

She also has horrible constituent service. I had an issue with a federal student loan a few years ago (I believe it was the servicer depositing money but not crediting my account and charging me interest and late fees). After getting nowhere with the company, I tried calling her office, figuring that as this was one of her core issues, I would get some response, either help or at least someone who would want to record what happened to her actual constituent. I didn't hear back for about a month, by which time I had resolved the issue – no fees or additional interest through multiple phone calls and emails.

In other words, Elizabeth Warren's constituent service is worse than Sallie Mae's.

T , January 21, 2020 at 9:31 am

The stupid Ponds cold cream lie is the worst. Unless she teed up the "how do you look so young!" question , the corrected answer is to point out the nonsense of talking about a candidates looks and addressing actual sexism.

Instead she has a goofball answer about only using Ponds cold cream which lead to Derm pointing out her alleged method was not good advice and also pointing out that she appears to have used botex and fillers, which I don't think people were talking about before then, in public.

The most generous explanation is she was caught flat-footed and, once again, showed she has terrible instincts.

Just a dumb dumb move.

Stefan , January 21, 2020 at 8:43 am

If Bernie Sanders can get it through the thick noggin of the nation that he stands for and will implement the principles, policies, and values of the New Deal–the attitude that got us through the Great Depression and Wotld War II–he has every chance of being elected the next President of the United States.

Stefan , January 21, 2020 at 8:47 am

Btw, is Inauguration Day just a year away?

The Rev Kev , January 21, 2020 at 9:02 am

Google says Wednesday Jan 20, 2021: Swearing-In Ceremony. And here is a countdown page-

https://days.to/when-is/us-presidential-inauguration/2021

Trust me. By the time it comes around you won't care who gets sworn in as you will just be glad that all the vicious, wretched skullduggery of this year's elections will finally be over.

Pat , January 21, 2020 at 11:11 am

And hoping you get one day of rest before the vicious, wretched skullduggery of undermining the desires of the American people gets started. Obviously Sanders will make the Trump years look a cake walk. Anyone else (Democrat or Trump) we will see lots of 'working for' and 'resistance' type memes while largely doing nothing of the sort, but a whole lot of 'bipartisan' passage of terrible things.

Samuel Conner , January 21, 2020 at 10:25 am

It sounds like Sanders, in the famous 2018 conversation, may have been trying to politely encourage EW to not run in 2020. Her moment was 2016 and she declined to run then when a Progressive candidate was needed. Her run in 2020 to some extent divides the Progressive vote. EW interpreted, perhaps intentionally, Sanders' words to imply that he thinks "no woman can win in 2020", and then weaponized them against him.

The very fact that she is running at all suggests to me that she is not at heart a Progressive and in fact does not want a Progressive candidate to win. If she had run in 2016, Sanders would not have run in order to not divide the Progressive vote. EW knew that Sanders would run in 2020 and planned to run anyway. It is hard for me to not interpret this to be an intentional bid for some of the Progressive vote, in order to hold Sanders down.

Anon , January 21, 2020 at 11:59 am

I agree. She decides to do things based on her own self-interest, and uses progressives as pawns to work her way up in DC. My guess is that Warren chickened out in 2016 and didn't run because maybe she didn't think she had a chance against the Clintons. When Warren saw how well Sanders did against Clinton, how close he was at winning, I think only then she decided that 2020 was a good chance for a progressive, or someone running as a progressive candidate, to win the nomination.

She saw how Sanders had fired up loyal progressive support in the Democratic Party. She chickened out back then when she could have endorsed Bernie in '16, but chose not to, probably hoping not to burn bridges with Clinton in order to get a plum role in her administration. Her non-endorsement in '16 worries me because it shows once again that Warren makes decisions largely based on what is good for her career, not what she thinks is better for the country (if she really is the progressive she claims to be).

Knowing that there was now a strong progressive base ready to vote for a candidate left of Democratic candidates like Biden and Clinton, Warren saw her entry into having a good chance at winning the presidency. Rather than thinking about the implications for Bernie and the possibility of dividing left-wing voters, her desire to become president was more important. Remember, this is exactly what Bernie did not do in 2016 when he urged Warren to run, and was willing to step aside, if she had agreed to do so.

If I had been in Sanders position, I probably would have sat down and talked to Warren about the serious implications of the both of them running in 2020. How he had hoped to build on the momentum from his last campaign and the sexism that was used against Clinton in 2016. Hey, if I had been Sanders, I probably would have told Warren not to run. Not because she's a woman, but because it would have been obvious to Bernie that with Warren running alongside him, they would both end up splitting the progressive vote.

What is happening now between the two of them should have been no surprise to either Bernie or Warren. They are both popular among Democrats who identify as progressive or left-of-center. Democrats will always find a way to shoot themselves in the foot. And I agree that when it becomes evident that one of them cannot win, either Bernie or Warren must step aside for the good of the country and fully back the other. There is no other option if either of them truly wants the other to win the nomination rather than Biden. I'm hoping that Warren will do so since it is becoming more clear that Sanders is the stronger progressive and the stronger candidate who has a better chance at beating both Biden and Trump.

Lambert Strether , January 21, 2020 at 3:37 pm

> "no woman can win in 2020"

The claim was "no woman can win." It was not qualified in any way.

landline , January 21, 2020 at 10:34 am

If sheepdog St. Bernard Sanders begins to look like the presumptive nominee, look for a new candidate to throw her hat into the ring. Her name: Michelle Obama.

Lambert Strether , January 21, 2020 at 3:42 pm

> sheepdog St. Bernard Sanders

I'm so sick of that sheepdog meme (originated by, much as a respect BAR, by a GP activist bitter, I would say, over many years of GP ineffectuality). The elites seem to be pretty nervous about a sheepdog.

pretzelattack , January 21, 2020 at 3:52 pm

if he were a sheepdog, why would the shepherds have to intervene? they wouldn't.

Lee , January 21, 2020 at 10:51 am

And now we have Sanders apologizing for an op-ed in the Guardian by Zephyr Teachout accusing Biden of corruption.

The op-ed simply says what Sanders has said all along, the system is corrupted by big donors. Then she explicitly states the obvious, which Sanders won't at this point say but that Trump certainly will: Biden is a prime example of serving his donors' interests to the detriment of most of the rest of us. Sanders subsequently apologizes for Teachout's baldly true assertion, stating that he doesn't believe that Biden is corrupt.

I guess we're meant to draw a clear distinction between legalized and illegal corruption. I don't know. They both look like ducks to me.

Oh , January 21, 2020 at 11:05 am

Sometimes it's better for Bernie to keep his mouth shut.

Samuel Conner , January 21, 2020 at 11:07 am

I have read that Sanders is the #2 choice of many Iowans who favor JB; it makes a lot of sense for him to not "go negative" on JB in the run-up to the caucuses.

There will be time for plainer speaking. Sanders has been clear about his views on the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics. JB is exhibit #1 within the D primary field and there will be plenty of opportunity to note that.

I suspect that there is a great deal of "method" in what may look to us like "madness" in the Senator's civility.

Samuel Conner , January 21, 2020 at 11:18 am

To put it another way, I doubt very much that Sanders believes that JB's legislative agendas were not significantly influenced by the sources of his campaign funds. And I'm sure that attention will be drawn to this at the right time.

One can charitably affirm that one believes that JB is not a consciously corrupt , pay-for-play, kind of person, while also affirming that of course he has been influenced by the powerful interests that have funded his career, and that this has not served the interests of the American people. All in due course.

jrs , January 21, 2020 at 12:37 pm

The thing is Warren would make the right argument here: that it's the system that is corrupted, and make it well. Too bad she has shown so completely that can't be trusted as a person, because she often looks good on paper

inode_buddha , January 21, 2020 at 1:37 pm

I think Warren misses the key point that the reason why the system is corrupted is because the players in it are corrupted. They can be bought and sold. That is why they have no shame.

Lambert Strether , January 21, 2020 at 3:43 pm

> The thing is Warren would make the right argument here: that it's the system that is corrupted

That's not the right answer at all. The climate crisis, for example, is not caused by a lack of transparency in the oil industry. It is caused by capital allocation decisions by the billionaire class and their servicers in subaltern classes.

urblintz , January 21, 2020 at 11:12 am

"The real game changer around here, though, might be Iowa State University's decision, after years of pressure, to issue new student IDs, enabling 35,000 students to vote, even under Iowa's restrictive new voter-ID law. That's a progressive victory, and in a different media universe, it would be a story even juicier than a handshake." Iowa is not the Twittersphere – Laura Flanders

https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/01/21/iowa-is-not-the-twitterverse/

ptb , January 21, 2020 at 11:23 am

Thanks for giving this the attention it needs, analysis of the primary has been too light on estimation of delegate numbers and strategy.

Prior to Warren's apparent turn to some new direction, the setup for a 3way DNC with a progressive "coalition" was not only conceivable, but actually expected from the polls.

We are on pace for Sanders+Warren's combined delegate total to exceed Biden by a healthy amount (say 4:3) with all others falling below 15% state by state and getting few or no delegates. Obviously subject to snowballing in either direction, but that's the polls now and for most of the past year.

Warren's attack on Sanders, and NYT endorsement, say the national party doesn't expect any such coalition. Therefore Warren has made her choice. That's that.

The path to winning the Dem primary is a little narrower for Sanders, and also for Biden, since he seems to lack the confidence of his the top strata. The DNC screws a lot up but they know how to read polls. I'm pretty sure that running Warren in the General is not their plan A.

Voters in Iowa and the early states (incl. TX and CA) look like they will be deciding it all this year. The tremendous enthusiasm of Sanders followers gives him, IMO, the best ground game of the three. Will be an interesting 6 weeks.

jrs , January 21, 2020 at 12:40 pm

Running Warren in the general might be their plan A. They may not want to win. Of course they might rather have Klobuchar but

Hepativore , January 21, 2020 at 12:52 pm

I do not even trust Warren to hand any delegates she gets to Sanders at this point. Because her campaign staff is so full of Clintonites and neoliberals, she might give them to Biden instead.

She seems to have gone full establishment at this point.

Lambert Strether , January 21, 2020 at 3:39 pm

> I do not even trust Warren to hand any delegates she gets to Sanders at this point. Because her campaign staff is so full of Clintonites and neoliberals, she might give them to Biden instead.

Correct.

ambrit , January 21, 2020 at 1:10 pm

The youngish rehab therapist, a woman, said this morning that of the women running, she likes Klobuchar. "If only her voice wasn't so screechy. And I'm saying this as a woman." She was seriously disturbed by Clinton's attack on Sanders.
Several neighbors are leaning towards Yang.

John k , January 21, 2020 at 1:14 pm

The value of her endorsement

My impression is her supporters are mostly older, mostly female, and mostly centrist. Many want to elect a female pres before they die. Prior to the she said event her supporters second choice were split fairly evenly between Bernie and Biden but the latest fracas is driving her most progressive supporters to Bernie.

This means most of those remaining will probably migrate to Biden if when she drops out even if she recommends Bernie. (If 1/3 of her supporters that had Bernie as their second choice switch to Bernie, then 60% of her remaining supporters have Biden as their second choice.)

2016 was different, Clinton already had the older females. But there was a period where just a little support might have tipped the scale in what was a very tight race.

Anyway, I see going forward she will be mostly holding supporters whose second choice is Biden even as she maybe doesn't reach the 15% barrier
and same with Amy. So I hope they both stay in at least until super tue.

And While I previously thought she was a reasonable choice for veep, I now realize she'd be an awful choice. Maybe treasury if she does endorse which she will do if Bernie looks a winner.

worldblee , January 21, 2020 at 1:35 pm

How can anyone be surprised at the lack of trustworthiness from a politician who chose to endorse Clinton in 2016 rather than Bernie? Warren has been playing the DNC game for a long time now, which ideologically is in line with her lifelong Republican stance before changing to the more demographically favorable party when she was 47. She's not progressive now, and never has been or will be.

[Jan 21, 2020] Warren is a "damaged goods" now: the corporate press has gone all-in on Warren. She simply MUST be a political whore, like Obama, or Hilary/Bill Clinton.

Notable quotes:
"... Bottom line: the corporate press has gone all-in on Warren. ..."
"... I deprecate the comparison, as insulting to wh0res. See at NC here. ..."
"... "She simply MUST be a mercenary, like Obama; might be more apt. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Both campaigns are backing away from greater public conflict. Whether that holds true in the long run is anyone's guess, but my guess is that it will. Still, the following is clear:

So far, in other words, most of the damage has been borne by Warren as a result of the incident. She may recover, but this could also end her candidacy by accelerating a decline that started with public reaction to her recent stand on Medicare For All. None of this is certain to continue, but these are the trends.

... ... ...

But if Warren's candidacy becomes unviable, as it seems it might -- and if the goal of both camps is truly to defeat Joe Biden -- it's incumbent on Warren to drop out and endorse her "friend and ally" Bernie Sanders as soon as it's clear she can no longer win . (The same is true if Sanders becomes unviable, though that seems much less likely.)

Ms. Warren can do whatever she wants, certainly. But if she does anything less than help elect the last and only progressive with a chance, she damages them both to Biden's benefit, and frankly, helps nominate Biden. She has the right to do that, but not to claim at the same time that she's working to further the progressive movement.


TG , January 21, 2020 at 12:19 am

Bottom line: the corporate press has gone all-in on Warren. She simply MUST be a whore, like Obama, or Hilary/Bill Clinton. If Warren were a real progressive, the big money would never go for her like this.

I will vote for Bernie Sanders. But I will vote for Trump over Warren. Better the moron and agent of chaos that you know, than the calculating vicious backstabber that you don't.

Lambert Strether , January 21, 2020 at 3:26 am

> She simply MUST be a wh0re,

I deprecate the comparison, as insulting to wh0res. See at NC here.

Phillip Allen , January 21, 2020 at 6:48 am

"She simply MUST be a mercenary, like Obama; might be more apt.

Lee , January 21, 2020 at 8:26 am

I favor the term "corporate lickspittle".

russell1200 , January 21, 2020 at 8:47 am

She's got the Clinton's and now Obama folks behind her.

I doubt they are thrilled with her, but probably view as someone they can work with and the other options are worse or too low in the poll numbers. I assume Buttigieg is fine with them, but his numbers are stuck.

doug , January 21, 2020 at 11:28 am

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/21/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-documentary/index.html

You are so right. Hillary says she will not support him if the nominee. Gloves are off. I hope the Sanders campaign has some Karl Rove types .

Amfortas the hippie , January 21, 2020 at 1:54 pm

from the sidebar of that link: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/21/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-2020/index.html

from cilizza, no less. that Hilary speaking thusly is actually good for sanders.

False Solace , January 21, 2020 at 11:17 am

Personally I cannot consider voting for a drone murderer like Trump, who cozies up to the Saudis and has tried to cut SS and Medicare. He's shown what he is, just as Warren has. We'll never get M4A from either one of them.

If it's not Bernie I'm voting Green. I live in a blue state that almost went for Trump last time – my vote potentially matters and will serve as a signal. Voting for the lesser murderous corporatist scum is what got us into this mess. I'm over it. I will not vote for evil.

HotFlash , January 21, 2020 at 3:49 pm

In 2016 I might just have voted for Trump, as a middle finger to the Dem establishment that crowned HRH HRC, since at that time he had not committed any war crimes. But now, no way. One of my unshakeable principles is that I will not vote for a war criminal. Green , write-in, or leave the Pres slot blank. But I hope and pray (and I'm an atheist!) that it doesn't come to this. We really don't have another 4 years to waste on this, the earth can't wait.

Anon , January 21, 2020 at 12:41 am

It's very unfortunate that it has come to this, but I've always been uneasy about Warren. This incident and her accusations against Bernie solidified my suspicions about her. Her being a Republican until her late 40s, her lies about sending her child to public school, her lies about her father being a janitor, her plagiarized cookbook recipes, and claiming to be Native American. It's all so bizarre to me and for a while I had believed her to have a personality disorder that caused compulsive lying. I wanted to feel good about my vote for Warren, but now? If she wins the nomination I'll hold my nose and vote for her, but I don't trust her to not sell out to the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party. I also don't trust her to endorse Bernie if she drops out before the convention. She didn't endorse him in '16, so what makes progressives think she'll do so this time. It would not surprise me in the least if she endorsed Biden or agrees to be his running mate.

Lambert Strether , January 21, 2020 at 3:27 am

Warren is not agreement-capable. Much as it pains me to say this, the Obama administration was correct to hold her at arm's length.

Adding, that doesn't mean that Sanders can't negotiate with her, if that must be done (to defeat Trump). But any such negotiations cannot proceed on a basis of trust.

JohnnyGL , January 21, 2020 at 8:13 am

The most generous interpretation i can come up with is that i's possible she told the story to several of her clintonite staffers in confidence. Those staffers went to CNN and forced her to stand by her story, even if she didn't want to go public, because she was threatened with staffers calling her a liar.

She might have been mad at Bernie for not bailing her out.

This version, which i don't believe, but consider it possible (not plausible) would be arguably as bad because her staffers got the upper hand and pushed her around.

John Wright , January 21, 2020 at 10:17 am

Warren could have said something to the effect that

"Bernie and I had a private conversation and I believe he suggested that electing a woman president in the USA would be difficult."

"Unfortunately, I mentioned this private conversation to some staffers, who apparently mentioned this to the press."

"This does not mean that I believe Bernie to be sexist."

"I appreciate opinions and advice from someone as experienced as Bernie."

"I want others to know that, private advice supplied to me by anyone will be treated as private information, not to be divulged to the press."

"The staffer responsible for passing this information to the press has been released from the campaign."

"I apologize to Bernie for allowing this to happen."

Reply

jrs , January 21, 2020 at 12:29 pm

The problem is the country has become so irrational and susceptible to soundbites and twitter shame and etc. that you can't even say "electing a women president would be difficult" which might be true, or it becomes like Hillary's deplorable remark, we all know it's true some Trump supporters fit the description, but it gets taken way out of context and exaggerated beyond all recognition.

Reply

Oh , January 21, 2020 at 10:26 am

The "invisible hand" of the Clinton Staffers then forced her not to shake Bernie's hand, I take it.

Reply

jrs , January 21, 2020 at 12:25 pm

She didn't even have to deny it. Should could have just been "That was a private conversation, I will not go into what was said in private. Bernie is a good friend of mine, who has supported women candidates on many occasions".

Reply

none , January 21, 2020 at 12:46 am

Warren will never endorse Bernie. She is not a progressive and the Republican in her is back in operation. But, there is a new Jeep named after her:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EOuTYRlXsAg151I.jpg

Reply

Henry Moon Pie , January 21, 2020 at 1:41 am

But we already had the Tin Lizzie.

Reply

ambrit , January 21, 2020 at 6:30 am

I can't resist.
What we have here is an old fashioned "Lizzie-Faire Capitalist."

Reply

[Jan 21, 2020] Tucker Carlson Warns 'Mistake' To Assume Trump Victory In November

Notable quotes:
"... RealClearPolitics ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The president base is clarly more narrow then in 2016: he used anti-war repiblicansand independents aswell as "Anybody but Hillary" voters (large part of Sanders votrs). Part of military is now Tulsi supported and probalywill not vote at all, at least they will not vote for Trump.

Fox News 's Tucker Carlson on Monday warned Republicans not to get complacent, and that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) could wind up taking "many thousands " of votes from President Trump if he is able to secure the Democratic nomination, according to The Hill 's Joe Concha.

"A year from today, we'll be hosting this show from the National Mall as the next president of the United States takes the oath of office," said Carlson, adding "Will that president be Donald Trump? As of tonight, Republicans in Washington feel confident it will be."

https://youtu.be/3eR1Pm7ANLw

"The official economic numbers are strong. The Democratic primaries are a freak show -- elderly socialists accusing each other of thoughtcrimes. Republicans are starting to think victory is assured. That's a mistake ," said Carlson. "America remains as divided as it was three years ago. No matter what happens, nobody's going to win this election in a national landslide. Those don't happen anymore. Trump could lose. Will he? That depends on what he runs on. "

Carlson then showed numbers for Trump on the economy that show while the main indicators are strong, there are some other numbers that should concern the president. He pointed to a Pew Research study that shows just 31 percent of Americans say the economy is helping them and their families, and just 32 percent say they believe the current economy helps the middle class.

Carlson then pivoted to Sanders's potential appeal to certain voter groups and said Republicans need a plan to battle that appeal.

" Bernie Sanders may get the Democratic nomination ," Carlson said. " If he does, every Republican in Washington will spend the next 10 months reminding you that socialism doesn't work , and never has. They'll be right, obviously," Carlson explained. - The Hill

So what's Bernie's appeal?

Recall that a not-insignificant Sanders supporters voted for Trump out of disgust following revelations that Hillary Clinton and the DNC conspirted to rig the 2016 primary against him.

According to Carlson, however, "if Sanders pledges to forgive student loans, he'll still win many thousands of voters who went for Donald Trump last time. Debt is crushing an entire generation of Americans. Republicans need a plan to make it better, or they'll be left behind."

"They're conservative in the most basic sense: They love their families above all," the host concluded. "They distrust radical theories of anything because they know that when the world turns upside down, ordinary people get hurt. They don't want to burn it down. They just want things to get better. The candidate who promises to make them better -- incrementally, but tangibly -- will be inaugurated president a year from today."

According to a RealClearPolitics average of seven (oh so reliable) polls, Sanders would take Trump if he gets the nomination. Tags Politics


MANvsMACHINE , 3 minutes ago link

Bernie doesn't have a ******* chance once he has to debate Trump. Trump will pull every straggly hair from Bernie's nearly bald head.

Mustafa Kemal , 2 minutes ago link

I disagree. Trump hasnt had to debate someone with character and intelligence before.

Boogity , 6 minutes ago link

Carlson is right. The overwhelming majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck with many working two jobs to make ends meet. The economy sucks for the working and middle class. Facts are stubborn things.

[Jan 21, 2020] Trump Is Pulling the Wool Over Voters' Eyes About What Is in the China Deal

Return to quote-based trade means total bankruptcy of neoliberalism ideology and practice. Another nail in the coffin so to speak.
Jan 21, 2020 | www.anti-empire.com

The Chinese, for now, are not contradicting the Trump administration on the promise of Chinese mega-purchases, because when Trump is more amicable their interests align. If an empty promise that wasn't even made means the trade war de-escalation goes on, that is fine with them. They would like to calm the markets as much as Trump would, and in this way they have added leverage on Trump. Should they change their minds they can always explode the fiction later on and injure Trump, perhaps strategically right around October.


Now that the dust has settled on the US-China trade deal and analysts have had some time to pore over its 90+ pages, various chapters and (non-binding) terms that comprise the body of the agreement, one high-level observation noted by Rabobank, is that the agreement foresees the total amount of goods exports from the US to China to reach above $ 290BN by end-2021.

The implication of this is that the chart for US exports to China should basically look like this for the next two years:

As Rabobank's senior economist Bjorn Giesbergen writes, t here are probably very few economists that would deem such a trajectory feasible (except for the perpetually cheerful economics team at Goldman , of course), seeing that it took the US more than 15 years to raise exports from around USD16bn in 2000 to USD 130bn in 2017.

Moreover, the Chinese purchases of goods are beneficial to US companies, but at the cost of other countries, and the agreement is only for two years. If China will buy more aircraft from the US, that could be to the detriment of the EU.

According to the document "the parties project that the trajectory of increases will continue in calendar years 2020 through 2025." But "to project" does not sound as firm as "shall ensure." So, as the Rabo economist asks, "are we going to see a repetition of the 2019 turmoil caused by the phase 1 trade negotiations after those two years? Or is this supposed to be solved in the phase 2 deal that is very unlikely to be made? What's more, while the remaining tariffs provide leverage for US trade negotiators, they are still a tax on US importers and US consumers of Chinese goods."

But before we even get there, going back to the chart shown above, Bloomberg today points out something we have pointed out in the past, namely that China's $200 billion, two-year spending spree negotiated with the Trump administration appears increasingly difficult to deliver, and now a $50 billion "hole" appears to have opened up : that is the amount of U.S. exports annually left out and many American businesses still uncertain about just what the expectations are.

Some background: while Trump officials stressed the reforms aimed at curbing intellectual-property theft and currency manipulation that China has agreed to in the "phase one" trade deal signed Wednesday, the Chinese pledge to buy more American exports has become an emblem of the deal to critics and supporters alike.

The administration has said those new exports in manufactured goods, energy, farm shipments and services will come over two years on top of the $130 billion in goods and $57.6 billion in services that the U.S. sent to China in 2017 -- the year before the trade war started and exports were hit by Beijing's retaliatory measures to President Donald Trump's tariffs.

And while Goldman said it is certainly feasible that China can ramp up its purchases of US goods , going so far as providing a matrix "scenario" of what such purchases could look like

that now appears virtually impossible, because as Bloomberg notes, the list of goods categories in the agreement covers a narrower group of exports to China that added up to $78.8 billion in 2017, or $51.6 billion less than the overall goods exports to the Asian nation that year. The goods trade commitment makes up $162.1 billion of the $200 billion total, with $37.9 billion to come from a boost in services trade such as travel and insurance.

Here, the math gets even more ridiculous:

The target for the first year that the deal takes effect is to add $63.9 billion in manufactured goods, agriculture and energy exports. According to Bloomberg economist Maeva Cousin's analysis, that would be an increase of 81% over the 2017 baseline. In year two, the agreement calls for $98.2 billion surge in Chinese imports, which would require a 125% increase over 2017.

Importantly for China, the deal requires those purchases to be "made at market prices based on commercial considerations," a caveat which spooked commodities traders, and led to a sharp drop in ags in the day following the deal's announcement.

Can China pull this off? Yes, if Beijing tears up existing trade deals and supply chains and imposes explicit procurement targets and demands on China's local business. As Bloomberg notes, "critics argue that such pre-ordained demand amounts to a slide into the sort of government-managed trade that U.S. presidents abandoned decades ago" and the very sort of act of central planning that U.S. officials have , paradoxically, spent years trying to convince China to walk away from.

This may also explain why a key part of the trade deal will remain secret: the purchase plan is based on what the administration insists is a specific – if classified – annex of Chinese commitments. "The 20-page public version of that annex lists hundreds of products and services from nuclear reactors to aircraft, printed circuits, pig iron, soybeans, crude oil and computer services but no figures for purchases."

Going back to the critics, it is this convoluted mechanism that has them arguing that China's stated targets will likely never be met: "This is ambitious and it will create some stresses within the supply system," said Craig Allen, the president of the U.S.-China Business Council.

That's not all: as Allen said, among the outstanding questions was whether China would lift its retaliatory duties on American products as the US keeps its tariffs on some $360 billion in imports from China as Trump seeks to maintain leverage for the second phase of negotiations.

Allen also made clear the overall purchase schedule left many U.S. companies uncomfortable even as they saw benefits in other parts of the deal. "The vast majority of our members are looking for no more than a level playing field in China," Allen said. "We are not looking for quotas or special treatment."

As a result, for many manufacturers what is actually changing -- and what China has committed to instead of given a "best efforts" promise to achieve -- remains unclear.

Major exporters such as Boeing Co., whose CEO Dave Calhoun attended Wednesday's signing ceremony, have stayed mum about what exactly the deal will mean for their business with China. In an attempt to "clarify", Trump tweeted that the deal includes a Chinese commitment to buy $16 billion to $20 billion in Boeing planes. It was unclear if he meant 737 MAX planes which nobody in the world will ever voluntarily fly inside again.

Finally, prompting the latest round of cronyism allegations, Trump's new China pact also includes plans for exports of American iron and steel , "a potential gain for an industry close to the president that has benefited from his tariffs and complained about Chinese production and overcapacity for years." As Bloomberg adds, the text of the agreement lists iron and steel products ranging from pig iron to stainless steel wire and railway tracks, but steel industry sources said they had been caught by surprise and not been given any additional details on China's purchase commitments.

It is unclear why Beijing would need US product s: after all, in its scramble to erect ghost cities and hit a goalseeked GDP print, China produces more than 50% of the world's steel, drawning criticism from around the world – if not Greta Thunberg – for the massive coal-derived pollution that comes from flooding global markets with cheap steel.

[Jan 21, 2020] Warren as Lizzie-Faire Capitalist.

Jan 21, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

none , January 21, 2020 at 12:46 am

Warren will never endorse Bernie. She is not a progressive and the Republican in her is back in operation. But, there is a new Jeep named after her:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EOuTYRlXsAg151I.jpg

Henry Moon Pie , January 21, 2020 at 1:41 am

But we already had the Tin Lizzie.

ambrit , January 21, 2020 at 6:30 am

I can't resist. What we have here is an old fashioned "Lizzie-Faire Capitalist."

John Zelnicker , January 21, 2020 at 10:28 am

@ambrit
January 21, 2020 at 6:30 am
-- -- -

"Strike three! A sizzling fast ball over the middle of the plate, while the batter just looked dumbfounded"

[Jan 21, 2020] Now with Warren blunder Trump might be able to wipe the floor with her but not only called her "Pocahontas" but also "Bernie backstabber": betrayl of her "friend" Bernie is unforgivable

She made a blunder. That's for sure. but still Warren is a better candidate then Trump.
The shell game between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders has transmogrified. The brutal, post-debate exchange between the duo has the progressive left fearing repeat business from '04: it happened at just the wrong time, only weeks ahead of the first primaries.
Jan 21, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
sounds very much like it, in a kind of ham-fisted, virtue-signaling way -- "Sometimes I fear the American people are still too bigoted to vote for a woman," or something like that. Yet every Clinton staffer was muttering the same thing under her breath at 3 a.m. on November 9, 2016.

What's more, Mrs. Warren never denied that Mr. Sanders only ran in the last election cycle because she declined to do so. Nor can anyone forget how vigorously he campaigned for Mrs. Clinton, even after she and the DNC rigged the primary against him. If Mrs. Warren and her surrogates at CNN are claiming that Bernie meant that a person with two X chromosomes is biologically incapable of serving as president, they're lying through their teeth.

This is how Liz treats her "friend" Bernie -- and when he denies that absurd smear, she refuses to shake his hand and accuses him of calling her a liar on national television. Then, of course, the #MeToo brigades line up to castigate him for having the temerity to defend himself -- further evidence, of course, of his sexism. I mean, like, Bernie is, like, literally Weinstein.

Then there's the "Latinx" thing, which is the absolute summit of progressive elites' disconnect with ordinary Americans. In case you didn't know, Mrs. Warren has been roundly panned for referring to Hispanics by this weird neologism, which was invented by her comrades in the ivory tower as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina . The thing is, Spanish is a gendered language. What's more, a poll by the left-wing market research group Think Now found that just 2 percent of Hispanics call themselves "Latinx." (In fact, most prefer the conventional "Hispanic," which is now verboten on the Left because it hearkens back to Christopher Columbus's discovery of La Española .)

So here comes Professor Warren -- white as Wonder Bread, the mattress in her Cambridge townhouse stuffed with 12 million big ones -- trying to rewrite the Spanish language because she thinks it's sexist. How she's made it this far in the primary is absolutely mind-boggling. She doesn't care about Hispanics, much less their culture. Like every employee of the modern education system, she's only interested in processing American citizens into gluten-free offal tubes of political correctness.

Of course, if one of her primary opponents or a cable news "Democratic strategist" (whatever that is) dared to say as much, they'd be hung, drawn, and quartered. Partisan Democrats have trained themselves not to think in such terms. That might not matter much if Mrs. Warren was facing Mitt Romney or John McCain in the general. But she's not. If she wins the primary, she'll be up against Donald Trump. And if you don't think he'll say all of this -- and a whole lot more -- you should apply for a job at CNN.


Very Funny Mr. President a day ago

... running against Mrs. Warren would be a walk in the park

Your imaginary Trump anti-Warren schtick might have worked in 2016, but boy does it come off as unfunny and stale in 2020. He's done too much damage. Not funny anymore. I voted for Trump. After all his betrayals, Warren could rip him to pieces just by standing next to him without saying a word. Her WASP reserve and Okie roots might even seem refreshing after our four-year long cesspool shower with this New York City creep.

Up North Very Funny Mr. President 11 hours ago • edited