Dec 22

Today’s News 22nd December 2017

  • Pakistan Plans Replacing Dollar With Yuan In Trade With China

    Pakistan is considering replacing the U.S. dollar with the Chinese yuan for bilateral trade between Pakistan and China, Pakistan’s Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said according to Dawn Online and The Economic Times. Interior Minister Iqbal, who has been central to the planning and implementation of China-Pakistan economic ties, was reported discussing the proposal after unveiling a long-term economic development cooperation plan for the two countries, Reuters added.

    Iqbal spoke to journalists after the formal launch of Long Term Plan (LTP) for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) signed by the two sides on November 21, Dawn online reported on Tuesday.  The CPEC is a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road initiative. The 3,000 km, over $50 billion corridor stretches from Kashgar in western China to Gwadar port in Pakistan on the Arabian sea. 

    Asked if the Chinese currency could be allowed for use in Pakistan, the minister said the Pakistani currency would be used within the country but China desired that bilateral trade should take place in yuan instead of dollars, in yet another push to de-dollarize what China considers its sphere of influence.

    We are examining the use of yuan instead of the US dollar for trade between the two countries,” Iqbal said, adding that the use of yuan was not against the interest of Pakistan. Rather, it would “benefit” Pakistan.

    It would also show that world that when it comes to Asia, the “superpower” of significance is no longer the US. And so, as China’s influence grows, the long-term plan highlighted key cooperation areas between the neighboring states including road and rail connections, information network infrastructure, energy, trade and industrial parks, agriculture, poverty alleviation and tourism.

    The CPEC plan marks the first time the two countries have said how long they plan to work together on the project, taking the economic partnership to at least 2030. China has already committed to investing $57 billion in Pakistan to finance CPEC as part of Beijing’s “Belt and Road” initiative to build a new Silk Road of land and maritime trade routes across more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.

    Addressing the launching ceremony Chinese Ambassdor to Pakistan Yao Jing said the long term plan would expand the scope of cooperation in various new areas, including cooperation in social sectors along with economic fields. “CPEC was a national plan approved by the both the Chinese and Pakistan government.” It will effectively match relevant national plans of China as well as Pakistan Vision 2025.”

    The two nations also agreed to establish and improve cross-border credit system and financial services, strengthen currency swap arrangements as well as establish a bilateral payment and settlement system…. in yuan that is, not dollars.

  • Retired Green Beret Rages "We Are Long Past The Tipping Point"

    Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via SHTFplan.com,

    So, let’s cite a few passages from President Trump’s National Security Speech:

    “Throughout our history, the American people have always been the true source of American greatness. Our people have promoted our culture and promoted our values. Americans have fought and sacrificed on the battlefields all over the world. We have liberated captive nations, transformed former enemies into the best of friends, and lifted entire regions of the planet from poverty to prosperity. Because of our people, America has been among the greatest forces for peace and justice in the history of the world. The American people are generous. You are determined, you are brave, you are strong, and you are wise.”

    Determined, brave, strong, and wise. Certainly, the President wasn’t referring to most of the population? Maybe he was in Wal-Mart, looking at these determined, brave, strong, and wise citizens:

    walmart-shopper

    walmart-shoppers

    But the generosity? Here is the “generosity” in a nutshell, for those can see it for what it is, just after that section:

    “Fourth and finally, our strategy is to advance American influence in the world, but this begins with building up our wealth and power at home. America will lead again. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but we will champion the values without apology. We want strong alliances and partnerships based on cooperation and reciprocity. We will make new partnerships with those who share our goals, and make common interests into a common cause.”

    Here’s some more generosity, of the “Black Friday” type…with the determined, brave, strong, and wise, once more:

    shoppers

    Yes, it sounds very similar to the imperial hubris we have heard parroted for the past half a century and more.  Look at this oxymoronic sentence:

    “We will not allow inflexible ideology to become an obsolete and obstacle to peace.”

    Not allow inflexible ideology? And if our government is the unbiased “factor” to determine what ideology is inflexible, perhaps it should examine itself, first, as we are the ones not to compromise. Just the statement “we will not allow inflexible ideology,” is an inflexible statement; ergo, perhaps the government should fold.

    We are at a very important juncture right now. The President made this speech to galvanize public opinion and support with ratings at about 60% disapproval. There is no clearly defined (let alone productive) foreign policy, with gross inconsistencies throughout this first year of the President’s term. Praising Russia for cooperation and sharing of intelligence to thwart a terrorist attack, just months after we expelled all Russian diplomats from the Russian embassy in California, as well as forcing them to vacate properties…in under a week.

    Granted, all embassies (American and foreign nations) are full of spies, however, such a forced eviction has not improved relations with the Russians. The North Korean situation takes center stage:  as mentioned before, North Korea only has two options. They can either relinquish their nuclear weapons and submit to western hegemony as another IMF and World Bank vassal, or they can continue in their present course.

    The punch line: they possess nuclear missiles with the capabilities of delivering an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack, or a nuclear strike against American cities. The President of the United States just stated (as printed above) “America will lead again.” What better leadership example than to do a 180-degree turn, and try…make the attempt…to extend full diplomatic courtesy to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un? What better strategy than to roll out the red carpet, and treat him with the courtesy of a leader of another nation…one with nuclear missiles…and show yourself to extend the hand of diplomacy?

    The President owes that much: owes a legitimate attempt to help to protect the 320 million people of this country, who do not have a Mt. Weather or a Cheyenne Mountain to retreat to. He owes it to 320 million American people who are in the crossfire. And if Un is unresponsive? Then the attempt was made. Lead by example and take the first step, for the welfare of the millions…ours, and yes, theirs.

    Any who may be smirking will lose such skepticism if the city their family lives in suddenly becomes a dust cloud spiraling into the upper stratosphere.

    There was much the President said that was worthwhile, but he said most of it in the present tense…as if we are “there” already, and not that we have a long way to go. To credit him, the Obama years almost destroyed this country. We are now as the hollowed-out exoskeleton of a cicada…clinging to the Tree of Liberty, but emptied, with barely a pulse.

    Determined, brave, strong, and wise? The teleprompter told him that: he certainly wasn’t looking out of the window and viewing actual people. Our people have promoted our culture and our values? And just what would those be?  Reality T.V. shows and professional football players who take a knee in a foreign country, and refuse to stand for the anthem of the United States, but will stand for Britain’s anthem?

    Yes, there is our value system: not even pride or loyalty to respect the U.S. when in a foreign land… a nation that we fought two wars against, then saved in World War II.

    Their right to “take a knee” exercised their right to freedom of speech, while they also exercised the freedom to make complete jackasses out of themselves. Such freedom was earned for them and is maintained for them by their betters

    Pat Tillman was one of those betters: standing for something he believed in, and remembering that he was an American…something he held higher in importance than being a professional football player in the NFL. We can learn much from the example that he set.

    It’s from the ground up that we need to return to our basics, and give all of Washington D.C. and Congress an “enema” to drain the true polluting substance from the “swamp” of D.C.  We are long past the tipping point, and possibly past the point of no return, but we still must try. From the President of the United States down to the rest of us…all of us…We the People. Hopefully we’ll have one more example to go by. Lead from the front, Mr. President, and be a Statesman…and act as the Commander-in-Chief as a last resort.

    You have the power, Mr. President, to destroy many nations and enter a war, but do you have the strength to not do this? Remains to be seen. If you care about the American people and the United States as much as you say you do, then the choice is simple, even though the execution of it will be tough.

  • Bitcoin Plummets Below $14,000; Peter Schiff Says 'Mark It Zero'

    Update: 1005ET: The carnage across cyrptocurrencies has escalated with Bitcoin back to a $13K handle, Ethereum back below $700, and Bitcoin Cash below $2,600…

    Bitcoin is now almost $6,000 off its record high…

    For those who are keeping track…

    • $0000 – $1000: 1789 days
    • $1000- $2000: 1271 days
    • $2000- $3000: 23 days
    • $3000- $4000: 62 days
    • $4000- $5000: 61 days
    • $5000- $6000: 8 days
    • $6000- $7000: 13 days
    • $7000- $8000: 14 days
    • $8000- $9000: 9 days
    • $9000-$10000: 2 days
    • $10000-$11000: 1 day
    • $11000-$12000: 6 days
    • $12000-$13000: 17 hours
    • $13000-$14000: 4 hours
    • $14000-$15000: 10 hours
    • $15000-$16000: 5 hours
    • $16000-$17000: 2 hours
    • $17000-$18000: 10 minutes
    • $18000-$19000: 3 minutes
    • $19666-$14000: 4 days

    ETH and BCH in trouble too…

    In fact almost the entire crypto space is collapsing with Ripple the only gainer for now…

    There continues to be no obvious catalyst for the run.

    Volume is heavy in futures tonight too…

     

    The question is – which happens first – Bitcoin $10,000 or Gold $1,300?

    *  *  *

    After an exuberant few days following Coinbase's adoption of Bitcoin Cash, the forked currency has collapsed back below $3,000...

    For the 4th night in the last 5, someone has started slamming Bitcoin at around 8pmET, pushing the biggest cryptocurrency back below $15,000 for the first time in two weeks…

    Catalysts for the drop are unclear other than systematic selling pressure as Asia opens. There was chatter about the lack of security in South Korean local exchanges, but it is unlikely that is the cause for now.

    Since CME launched its futures contract, Bitcoin has been under pressure and renowned market watcher Peter Schiff is pretty clear where he thinks this ends up…

    As CoinTelegraph reports, speaking to RT this week, renowned analyst Peter Schiff, credited for predicting the 2008 housing market collapse, issued a foreboding warning to investors buying Bitcoin at current prices.

    Even with a shaky week, Bitcoin is hovering around the $15,000 mark, after a two-month bull run that saw the price rise by more than 200 percent.

    Schiff says those trying to ride the bubble are too late:

    “People who got it years ago, even people who got it at the beginning of the year have the opportunity to cash out and make a lot of money. But people who are buying it at these prices or higher prices are going to lose practically everything.”

    The old adage, “buy on the rumor and sell on the news,” seems to be the perfect way to sum up Schiff’s sentiments on the current attitude of green investors trying to make a quick buck out of Bitcoin:

    “These currencies are going to trade to zero or pretty close to it when the bubble pops. Right now, the only reason why people are buying Bitcoin is because the price is going up. When it turns around, they are not going to sell it for the same reason."

    He also voiced by now common criticism of Bitcoin Core’s transaction functionality, noting the low speed and high cost of transactions on the network:

    “There is no value in Bitcoin, you can’t use it as money. It’s too slow, too expensive and too vulnerable.”

    Still with gold's recent weakness, we are sure Peter has more than  a small ax to grind on this one.

  • Car Dealership Says It Will Accept Payment In Bitcoin

    A rudimentary payments network that can only process – on average – about 7 transactions every 10 minutes isn’t deterring merchants from accepting bitcoin for large-scale purchases like homes and cars.

    To wit, the owner of a car dealership near Albany told a local news station that he will begin accepting bitcoin, as the Associated Press reported.

    Michael Severance, of Michael’s Auto Plaza, tells WTEN-TV the dealership recently started accepting the digital currency. Severance says he became interested in bitcoin as its value rose. The East Greenbush businessman says he wanted his dealership to take advantage of an opportunity.

     

    Severance says he saw people buying large pieces of property with the digital currency and figured cars should be no different.

    Severence told a local TV station that the digital currency's staggering appreciation inspired him to accept it as payment.

    “Certain things boom and they just take off. They take off quick. You have to capture it while it’s hot.”

    He also asserted that bitcoin "isn't going away any time soon."

    As we pointed out late last week, sellers of luxury homes and apartments are increasingly demanding payment in bitcoin. One seller who accepted payment in bitcoin for his Texas home over the summer has already notched a return of more than 300%. When the transaction occurred, bitcoin was trading at around $4,000 a coin. On Wednesday, it was trading closer to $16,000 after touching an all-time peak near $20,000.

    One seller advertising a luxury Miami condo on Redfin.com stipulated that he would only accept payment in bitcoin. And increasingly, high end real-estate brokers in markets like Miami and New York City say their clients are expressing interest in digital currencies.

    But even though sluggish and unpredictable transaction times have become a barrier to adoption, in some places, bitcoin is still easier to use for small purchases than the local currency.

    Venezuela is one prominent example. With the government-issued bolivar effectively worthless following a sustained period of hyperinflation, merchants say it’s easier and safer to accept payment in bitcoin.

    Indeed, even some homeless beggars understand bitcoin's potential, and have set up their own wallets to receive donations in the digital currency…

  • Baltimore Murder Rate Surges Again In 2017 (Now Tied With Venezuela); Here's How Your City Fared…

    Once again this year, the Brennan Center for Justice has analyzed violent crime stats from the 30 largest cities in America to provide some insight on national trends.  Not surprisingly, this year’s report has is full of more bad news for the residents of cities like Baltimore and Chicago that have experienced devastating spikes in homicides over the past two years.

    Looking at homicides per capita in 2017, Baltimore is clearly the most dangerous large city in the U.S. with a murder rate that is more than 4x the average of other large cities and some 40% higher than the second most dangerous city of Detroit.  To put things in perspective, the murder rate in Baltimore is now exactly tied with Venezuela at 57.2 murders per 100,000 residents.

    Of course, as our readers are undoubtedly aware, high violent crime rates in cities like Baltimore and Chicago are hardly a new phenomenon.  Therefore, we decided to take a look at year-over-year changes in murder rates by city and made some interesting discoveries.  While Charlotte saw the biggest YoY spike, cities like San Francisco and Seattle, both of which are experiencing tech-induced economic booms, were also at the top of the list.

    Finally, and not surprisingly, in terms of total homicides, the city of Chicago is still the big ‘winner’ in 2017 with nearly double the number of murders of Baltimore.

    Of course, as the Brennan Center notes, it’s not all bad news as aggregate crime in the nation’s top 30 cities declined 2.7%…

    The overall crime rate in the 30 largest cities in 2017 is estimated to decline slightly from the previous year, falling by 2.7 percent. If this trend holds, crime rates will remain near historic lows.

     

    The violent crime rate will also decrease slightly, by 1.1 percent, essentially remaining stable. Violent crime remains near the bottom of the nation’s 30-year downward trend.

     

    The 2017 murder rate in the 30 largest cities is estimated to decline by 5.6 percent. Large decreases this year in Chicago and Detroit, as well as small decreases in other cities, contributed to this decline. The murder rate in Chicago — which increased significantly in 2015 and 2016 — is projected to decline by 11.9 percent in 2017. It remains 62.4 percent above 2014 levels. The murder rate in Detroit is estimated to fall by 9.8 percent. New York City’s murder rate will also decline again, to 3.3 killings per 100,000 people.

    Conclusion: “What the hell is going on in Chicago”…and Baltimore and Detroit and Memphis and San Francisco and Seattle and….

    Here is the full report from the Brennan Center for Justice:

  • Is Facebook Using Your Phone's Camera And Microphone To Spy On You?

    Do you ever feel like you’re being watched when there’s nobody else around?

    Decades ago, if the answer to that question was ‘yes’, doctors might’ve advised you to see what they called a headshrinker. But technological progress has a funny way of turning situations on their head. For example, at the turn of the 20th century, everybody had horses – but only the wealthy had cars.

    Today, everybody has a car: but only rich people have horses.

    The same principle applies to surveillance: If you don’t believe you’re being spied on constantly, then you should probably have your head examined.

    As advertisers hone increasingly sophisticated microtargeting techniques, ordinary social media users are reporting disturbing coincidences like the one Jen Lewis recounted to the Daily Mail.

    While out shopping, Lewis and a friend discussed purchasing a film camera. Not 20 minutes later, Lewis’s friend checked Facebook on her phone and discovered, to her alarm, a targeted advertisement for the very same camera she had just considered purchasing.

    Then, less than 20 minutes later, an advert popped up on Lois’s phone, for the exact same product. Same colour, same model, same everything.

     

    ‘They’re listening, they’re watching,’ she said.

     

    ‘Oh don’t be daft,’ I replied. ‘Who’s listening? Who’d want to listen to us?'

     

    ‘I’m serious,’ said Lois. ‘This keeps happening. This is no coincidence. Someone is listening to our conversations. Advertisers. They’re listening via our phones’ microphones.'

    At first, Lewis didn’t understand what her friend was getting at. But it quickly dawned on her: Was Facebook recording their conversation and converting its content into fodder for targeted advertisements – all in real time?

    ‘Look at this,’ said Lois, presenting me with her smartphone, where an advert for a snazzy little instamatic camera was displayed. It had popped up a few seconds earlier, when she’d logged on to Instagram.

     

    She met my quizzical ‘so what?’ face with exasperation.

     

    What were we talking about? Just now? In the street, down there?’ she said.

     

    Sure enough, we’d been window shopping before our lunch reservation, and spotted a little gadget shop. I remembered Lois had commented on the instamatic cameras on display (dropping a few hints for her forthcoming 21st birthday, I suspected).

     

    We’d had a brief conversation about how they were all the rage in the Eighties, and how one of my memories of Christmas parties at my parents’ house was listening to that familiar ‘whirrr’ and watching the wealthier guests flapping about the instant photos, as everyone waited for them to dry.

    Of course, Facebook and its fellow tech behemoths have vigorously denied claims that they utilize smartphone cameras and microphones to beef up their targeted advertising capabilities. But the battle for dominance in the digital advertising market is so fierce, it’s difficult to argue that the incentives don’t exist.

    Lewis interviewed another individual who decided to test whether he was being spied on by advertisers by switching his phone’s microphone and camera off.

    And sure enough, the creepy hypertargeted ads disappeared.

    One Facebook user is so convinced his conversations are being monitored that he switched off the microphone on his smartphone — and, sure enough, there haven’t been any more ‘strange coincidences’ since.

     

    Tom Crewe, 28, a marketing manager from Bournemouth, was immediately suspicious in March when he noticed an advert on Facebook for beard transplant surgery. Only hours earlier he’d joked with a colleague about them both getting one, as they remained smooth-faced, despite their age.

     

    ‘I had my phone’s Facebook app switched on at the time. Within a few hours, an ad came through for hair and beard transplants,’ he says.

     

    ‘I just thought: “Why have I been targeted?” I’d never Googled “hair or beard transplants” or sent an email to anyone about it or talked about it on Facebook.'

     

    The fact that the ad for beard transplants was so unusual and specific made him suspect his phone had been eavesdropping.

     

    He became convinced when later that month he received an advert to his phone — again weirdly and quite specifically — for Peperami sausages.

    Of course, the notion that advertisers (to say nothing of the intelligence community) are recording our every keystroke to try and sell us stuff we don’t really need is something we, as a society, have grown eerily accustomed to. But the idea that these same entities are recording and filming us for their commercial benefit has, for many, yet to sink in. Of course, this reprehensible practice isn’t explicitly illegal, and as Lewis points out. If anything, most people inadvertently empower advertisers by blindly signing social media platforms’ “user agreements."

    Tracking users offline behavior is hardly a new phenomenon; earlier this year, we highlighted a recent announcement from Google that it would begin keeping tracking users’ in-store credit card purchases.

    On the flip side, this arrangement is what allows us to use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter without paying for them.

    Still, imagine how these companies would react if people started demanding privacy and more control over their data?
     

  • Millennials & Marxism

    Authored by Robert Gore via Straight Line Logic blog,

    Children Learn What They’re Taught

    Many millennials embrace Marxism. So do their parents and grandparents…

    From the millennials’ abilities will supposedly flow the wherewithal to fund “needs”: their elders‘ entitlements, debt, and ever-expanding blob of a government. Horror of horrors, polls and studies indicate that many millennials are embracing Marxism: they want somebody to fund their “needs”! Where did they learn this nonsense?

    It must be those left-wing, snowflake sanctuary, social justice warrior haven, gender-bending colleges and their washed up Marxist professors.

    This is America, where everyone stands on their own two feet. That’s not how they were reared!

    Except it is how they were reared. Good parents know their kids pay more attention to what they do than what they say. America has been slouching towards collectivism for decades. This bipartisan trend has been differentiated only by the hypocrisies the red and blue teams peddle. Regardless of what’s said, this country does statist collectivism. That anyone should express surprise or dismay that the young embrace collectivism betrays self-serving delusion that only fuels their cynicism.

    Believe it or not, a fair number of millennials are reasonably well-informed. They just don’t get their information from their parents’ and grandparents’ favorite hypocrisy peddlers. The median age of Americans watching CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News is over 60, with Fox the most geriatric at 68.

    The younger set watches a lot of videos, some from consistently ideological sources but many representing eclectic viewpoints that can’t be pigeonholed. Between the internet and their own experiences, the millennials are getting a pretty good idea of what the future holds, even if they don’t know the current vice-president or America’s allies in World War II. The future, after all, is far more relevant to them than Mike Pence or a war 72 years past.

    Local, state, and the federal government spend over 35 percent of the GDP. Taxes paid skew heavily towards the most productive under our progressive tax regimes; that’s where the money is. Around half the population receives some sort of largess from one or more governments. From each according to their ability to each according to their need. However, need doesn’t carry the same requirement of deprivation that it did when the welfare state got rolling during the New Deal.

    The needy still include those true tales of woe invariably cited by welfare state fans. But they also include relatively affluent Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries receiving far more than they put in. And tax-funded professors, administrators, and athletic coaches drawing fat salaries at public universities. Let’s not forget legions of other government employees, whose average pay, retirement pensions and medical benefits exceed those of their private sector brethren who support them. Then there are the hordes of contractors, lobbyists, and other teat-suckers who cluster around Washington D.C. and state capitals like flies cluster around particularly redolent corpses and turds.

    Communist commissars—the “needy” class in the old Soviet Union that actually got most of the loot—never had it so good. For all their tax-looting, America’s commissars still spend more than they take in, so they’ve placed a huge claim on future production: debt and unfunded pension and medical promises. Even some of the dimmer millennial bulbs recognize who gets to pick up those collectivized obligations. That’s in addition to their not inconsequential student loan debt. The more astute realize that this mound of obligations has something to do with the anemic economy and dismal job prospects.

    History demonstrates that collectivist regimes which stifle economic and political freedom often turn to war, plunder, and empire building to mask their repression and failures at home. Doesn’t that describe the US government to a tee? It has military bases and deploys special operations forces all over the world. In the name of global order and fighting terrorism, it has engaged in more wars this century than any other government. To instill domestic “order,” the national security state surveils everyone, including a president-elect, and subverts the press.

    Not only do wars add a lot of chits to the debt pile, but guess which generation gets to fight them? Not that the military is having trouble filling its ranks. It offers steady jobs with good benefits—hard to find in the private sector—for those who avoid getting killed or maimed.

    It takes a while for those millennials who find their way into the private sector to discover how thoroughly it is dominated by the public sector. The meddling, stifling, counterproductive hand of government weighs on every important economic activity. In some jurisdictions kids can’t even sell lemonade without a permit. It takes time, experience, and investigation to discover another truth: regulation protects the entrenched and stifles the new and innovative.

    The apotheosis is finance and banking. Central bank debt monetization and interest rate suppression promote government debt and add to the millennials’ load. The Fed is owned by the banks, buys their securities, promotes their cartel, and acts as their agent in Washington. Cheap money drives up the price of financial assets, which millennials by and large don’t own. Reams of legislation and regulation not only make it difficult to impossible for competitive new entrants, but are explicitly designed to ensure that members of the old guard don’t fail. When they nevertheless fail, they get bailed out.

    It is the intellectual crime of the century to call this bastardized state of affairs capitalism or freedom. Capitalism—investment, production, and voluntary exchange—is what people do when they’re left to their own devices and are free to pursue their own legitimate interests. It was dealt a mortal blow in 1913 with the establishment of the central bank and income tax, and buried in the New Deal. It’s no surprise the left falsely labels the grotesque and failing mixed economy capitalism. It’s every failure can be ascribed to capitalism and used as a justification for more government.

    What’s revolting is the rhetoric of capitalism’s so-called defenders. Conservatives ritualistically praise a “free market system” that hasn’t existed for decades. It’s useful cover: invoke the free market while supporting and profiting from collectivist skims and scams. From the dwindling ranks of true entrepreneurs and honest businesspeople the rhetoric snares some of the more gullible. However, even when the red team has full control of the government, it just keeps getting bigger, more intrusive, and more powerful, reminiscent of communism.

    At root, the conservative problem with capitalism is the phrase, “free to pursue their own legitimate interests.” The second law of government is that you can do almost anything to people if you tell them you’re doing it for them. (The first law of government is nothing succeeds like failure.) Liberals and conservatives alike pose as benefactors. A system based on freedom and self-interest—capitalism—obviates that pose. Ostensible benefactors can’t use government and other people’s money to bestow their “munificence,” extract their rents, and grasp their power. In part it explains the vitriolic hostility of both sides towards Ayn Rand, who extolled freedom and rational self-interest and condemned coercive altruism.

    Millennials would be best advised to fight for their and others’ right to their own lives. Unfortunately, millennials learn what they are taught, and cutting through all the hypocrisy, the lesson plan is collectivism. As are the generations preceding them, millennials are collectivists. The only difference is they want to be the ones doing the collecting.

     

  • India Unleashes Anti-Smog Cannon Against New Delhi's Disastrous Air Pollution

    Inhabitants of the heavily populated city of New Delhi, India are baffled why the government has strapped a cone-shaped water cannon to the back of a pick-up truck. Perhaps, their cognitive processes are slightly skewed these days, as apocalyptic smog blankets their region.

    One politician said, “Delhi has become a gas chamber. Every year this happens during this part of the year” (See: “Delhi Has Become A Gas Chamber” – Apocalyptic Smog Causes Health Concerns For Millions).

    The cannon, which looks nothing more than a snow machine to the Western world, blasts high amounts of water droplets into the atmosphere in hopes of flushing out air pollutants above the city.

    Authorities have coined the term— “anti-smog gun,” which environmentalists say it’s nothing more than a band-aid solution.

    The Guardian says the cannon was tested in Anand Vihar, an area in the city bordering an industrial zone.

    The cannon’s Indian manufacturers say the fine droplets of water it ejects at high speed can flush out deadly airborne pollutants in one of the world’s smoggiest capitals. ‘Half my lung cancer patients are non-smokers’: toxic air crisis chokes Delhi Read more The device – shaped like a hair dryer and mounted on a flatbed truck – was tested in Anand Vihar, an area of Delhi’s east bordering an industrial zone that often boasts the dirtiest air.

    The US Embassy of India on Wednesday warned: Air quality in New Delhi registered at 478, indicating “Hazardous”– you might die.

    To put that in perspective, the World Health Organization considers >25 to be unsafe.

    Yesterday’s recorded level is more than 19x the allowed amount. Deadly smog is not just a problem in New Delhi but shown on the chart below, it is widespread, not limited to Pakistan and China.

    Its manufacturer, Cloud Tech, said the cannon costs roughly $31,000, spraying 100 liters of water per minute into the skies and clearing 95% of airborne toxins.

    “If it proves to be successful, then we will roll these out on Delhi’s streets as soon as possible,” Imran Hussain, Delhi’s environment minister, said in Anand Vihar as the cannon spurted mist under hazy skies.

    However, Greenpeace said the cannon is a political stunt by the government, a desperate act of distraction, shielding the world’s view from the disastrous policies by the government which has resulted in deadly smog.

    “This is definitely not the solution. You can use it occasionally at sensitive locations but the solution to pollution lies in controlling it at the source rather than spraying water on it,” Greenpeace’s Sunil Dahiya said.

     

    “The Delhi government should look at more sustainable solutions rather than creating business for a few companies.”

    Bottomline: The cracks of globalism are appearing in India, as tens of millions now face the harsh reality that air pollution is killing them abruptly. When do the citizens panic, as their governments have royally failed them?

    * * *

    As we explained in earlier November, air pollution in China lowers sperm count (SeeDemographic Dysphoria Looms As Scientists Discover Sulfur Dioxide Lowers Sperm Count).

  • Is California Already In Recession?

    By Political Calculations

    When it comes to the health of his state's economy, California Governor Jerry Brown has been walking on eggshells this year.

    Twice each year, once in January and again in May, Gov. Jerry Brown warns Californians that the economic prosperity their state has enjoyed in recent years won't last forever.

     

    Brown attaches his admonishments to the budgets he proposes to the Legislature – the initial one in January and a revised version four months later.

     

    Brown's latest, issued last May, cited uncertainty about turmoil in the national government, urged legislators to "plan for and save for tougher budget times ahead," and added:

     

    "By the time the budget is enacted in June, the economy will have finished its eighth year of expansion – only two years shorter than the longest recovery since World War II. A recession at some point is inevitable."

     

    It's certain that Brown will renew his warning next month. Implicitly, he may hope that the inevitable recession he envisions will occur once his final term as governor ends in January, 2019, because it would, his own financial advisers believe, have a devastating effect on the state budget.

    Unfortunately for Governor Brown, the recession he fears may already have arrived in California.

    The following chart showing the trailing twelve month averages of California's civilian labor force and number of employed is one that we've adapted from a different project to show that data in the context of the state's higher-than-federal minimum wage increases and periods of negative GDP growth for the national economy. It shows that in 2017, the size of the state's labor force has peaked and begun to decline in 2017, while the number of employed shows very slow to stagnant growth during the year.

    The data for this chart is taken from the summary tables for the state's monthly reports on the California Demographic Labor Force, which are produced by California's Employment Development Department. These are therefore the same numbers that Governor Brown sees, and they have been signaling throughout 2017 that the state's economy is going through a period of stagnation after having generally grown since bottoming in mid-2011 following the Great Recession.

    The labor force and employment numbers aren't telling the full story however, which becomes evident when we factor in the state's growing population. The following chart shows the labor force and employment to population ratios for the state's civilian work force.

    In this chart, we find that California's employment to population ratio peaked at 59.2% in December 2016, having slowly declined to 59.0% through October 2017. Meanwhile, California's labor force to population ratio last peaked at 62.6% in October 2016, which has since dropped to 62.1% a year later.

    Going by these measures, it would appear that recession has arrived in California, which is partially borne out by state level GDP data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis:

    Last year was a very good one for the state’s economy. The 3.3 percent gain in economic output in 2016 was more than double that of the nation as a whole and one of the highest of any state.

     

    However, California stumbled during the first half of 2017. California’s increase was an anemic six tenths of one percent in the first quarter compared to the same period of 2016, and 2.1 percent in the second quarter, well below the national rate and ranking 35th in the nation.

     

    The report revealed that almost every one of California’s major sectors fell behind national trends in the second quarter, with the most conspicuous laggard being manufacturing.

    On a final note, the charts we've featured above were adapted from our project tracking the impact of California's minimum wage hikes on its teen labor force, where we've been that labor force and employment data since July 2003 (which hopefully helps explain why the trailing 12 month labor force and employment to population ratio chart starts showing data beginning in June 2004). As bad as the charts above are for California's labor force, the employment situation for California's teens is much worse, having itself peaked in October 2016.

    California's teens are best thought of as being the proverbial canaries in the coal mine.

     

     

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