Europe

Brexit: requiem for a dream

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Published on Cassandra's Legacy on June 23, 2016

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For many years, I had thought that a united Europe was a great idea. An institution created by wise men who had wanted to avoid repeating the horrible mistakes that had led Europeans to massacre each other in two terrible wars. Europe was supposed to be a Europe of the people, a force for peace, for  justice, for equality, for the defense of both humankind and nature.

Two years ago, I was in Brussels for a hearing at the European Parliament; it was a shock. The Europe I knew, the Europe I thought I knew, wasn't anywhere to be found. What I found was a bunch of ill-advised, pompous bureaucrats wandering in a gigantic and useless palace. The ghosts of the founders had been thoroughly exorcised and now what was left was an empty shell; a structure that just perpetuated itself without any clear purpose, except drilling more fossil fuels out of the ground, and – maybe – make war to Russia. The dream of a Europe of the peoples acting for peace and justice was gone. Requiem for a dream.
 

And now what? It seems clear that Europe, as it is now, cannot survive this blow and maybe this is not a bad thing. Can we reform this Europe? Or can we restart from scratch? Impossible to say. In any case, here is the post that I wrote two years ago after my trip to Brussels. If you can read Spanish, you may be also interested in these considerations by Antono Turiel.

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Bringing the message about resource depletion to the European Parliament

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With 24 languages deemed as "official," the European Union shares some characteristics with the ancient Babel Tower (above, the parliament building in Strasbourg). The Babel of languages is one of the problems associated with trying to pass messages to politicians, but not the most important one. Rather, the main problem seems to be a decisional mechanism which favors groupthink Here are some notes of a recent experience of mine at a hearing on energy security of the European Parliament in Brussels.

As I walk to the hearing on energy security in Europe, I am struck first of all by the size of the hall. The "Alcide De Gasperi" room in the palace of the European Parliament in Brussels was clearly built for impressing people, in addition to its function as a meeting room. One of its most remarkable features is the long row of windows of the interpreters' rooms. Since there are 24 official languages of the European Union, there have to be some 50 interpreters working in there. Then, I also notice how the screens for projecting one's slides are small and located high up, near the ceiling. This is not a place where you are supposed to support your statements with data and graphs. It is a place built for political debate.

As people collect in the hall, I can see that the atmosphere is rather formal, with several members of the European Parliament sitting in the audience. Most people are dressed in suits and many wear ties. On the podium, there are six invited speakers. And there we go; I immediately sense the mood of the conference: this is not a scientific meeting. None of the speakers seem to be an expert about fossil fuels, intended as markets, production, resources, reserves, and the like. Rather, they seem to be mainly concerned with strategic and political issues. The line that emerges from the presentations and from the reactions of the audience is clear: it is a highly confrontational attitude (to put it mildly) toward Russia, accused to be engaging in an economic war against Western Europe. The gist of what I hear is that the European Union must unite in defense; we must follow the example of the United States and get rid of our silly regulations and of the local resistance against drilling and nuclear plants. Europe can exploit its shale gas and oil resources (and also nuclear energy) and attain energy independence, as the United States did. It is "drill, drill, drill" all over.

This line, in various shades, is the position of four speakers out of six. The bias in favor of fossil fuels is shown also by the fact that the lady charged with defending renewables is given the last time slot of the hearing. The fossil oriented attitude seems to be shared by the majority of the audience. Not that it is not challenged by some of the MEPs in the room. One of them (I know him well, he has been a long time ASPO supporter) stands up and tells to one of the speakers: "it is not true that the United States has attained energy independence. You have to stop getting your data from newspapers!". He is right, (you can look at the data yourself). But it is an isolated reaction, and the overall debate remains based on the idea that the US has become energy independent or that, at least, it will soon become independent.

When it is my turn to speak, I tell a different story. I try to explain that the ultimate origin of the energy security problems in Europe is due to depletion, and that drilling more is not the solution. I keep the message as simple as possible; tailored for people who are not specialists in oil and gas. I show the price trends, I tell them something about energy return, and I make the point that renewable energy is not subjected to depletion. I sense that my talk is well received: the people in the audience listen to what I say, and they look up at my slides (but those screens are too high and too small, dammit!). I also get several questions and comments – mostly favorable ones. After the hearing is over, several people stop me to discuss further about what I said. As a talk, it was a reasonably successful one.

But, on the whole, I think I had a very modest impact, if any. As I noticed many times, it is extremely difficult to pass to decision makers messages which are perceived as out of the ordinary, as the message on resource depletion is. The problem has many facets and it has to do, mainly, with the way politicians think. According to my experience, politicians – especially high level ones – are very smart people. The problem is that they are swamped with information; just as most of us. So, in the great mass of data arriving, how do you decide what is the truth? If you are a scientist – or you are scientifically trained – you have ways to evaluate the data and filter out the bad ones. But politicians are not scientists, they are not scientifically trained, so they use a different method. They maintain a healthy dose of skepticism about everything they hear; they don't pay too much attention on data, and they tend to side with the interpretation that they perceive as the most compatible with the general opinion of the group they belong to.

There are reasons for this "groupthink" syndrome that, probably, affects politicians more than most of us. It is because then main tool in the political struggle, today, is the demonization of adversaries. So, a politician is very careful to avoid to be singled out from the crowd of colleagues and subjected to the standard demonizing treatment. For a politician, there is safety in crowds; a traditional strategy well known also by sheep and fish. In practice, you may see a politician as having a built in opinion detector in his head. He/she will sense the position of the majority and try to avoid straying too far away from it. In general, the way for a politician to obtain power is to occupy the center; to be seen as a moderate. That this is the way to success has been known for a long time; even rigorously modeled (in economics, it is known as the "Hotelling's law"). Scientists are sometimes contrarians, politicians almost never are.

So, I think I can figure out the reaction of most of the MEPs to the hearing on energy security in Brussels. It was something like, "Well, that Italian guy who spoke about resource depletion might have a point about what the real problem is. I couldn't his slides so well, so high up near the ceiling, but he seemed to have some good data. But, on the other hand, the other speakers saw the problem differently. If most people in the parliament think that Russia is waging an economic war against us and that drilling more is a good idea, then there has to be something in it. For sure, I shouldn't take the risk of siding with a minority option."

Ugo Bardi teaches at the University of Florence, Italy. He is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted, how the quest for mineral wealth is plundering the planet" (Chelsea Green 2014)

 

 

A more humane response to the refugee crisis

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 11, 2015, and on Peak Resources

Source: UNHCR (2015)

 

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There are around 20 million refugees in the world out of 60 million displaced persons, according to UNHCR. During the period January-November 2015 some 820,318 refugees has arrived to Europe by sea and 3,485 have died or are missing. A full 65% of arrivals are men, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan. Most refugees have arrived in Greece to later make their way towards Germany and Sweden, through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria.

What we see in the Mediterranean is a humanitarian crisis of huge proportions and need to be treated as such. Telling refugees they can have a permanent residentship while not establishing boundaries (domestic capacity and which people to prioritize) or approving visas for safe travel is not a humane policy. Countries like Germany and Sweden have had to revise their policies because it’s creating so much confusion and encouraging the growth in human trafficking and thus increasing the death toll on the sea.

We have to understand that many refugees trying to reach Europe over the Mediterranean are often men with some money searching for better opportunities than they currently can find in e.g. Turkey or Lebanon. One reason for this is because the world’s rich countries have not funded the UN’s humanitarian agencies which are now on the verge of financial bankruptcy (The Guardian, 2015). This year the World Food Programme had to cut food rations to 1.6 million Syrian refugees, warning that this leaves many vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups (The Guardian, 2015). Less humanitarian help in places of conflict has in turn lead to larger migration flows. Deteriorating conditions in Lebanon and Jordan have become intolerable for many of the 4 million people who has fled Syria, driving the latest waves of immigration towards north-west Europe.

A humane policy would not reward only young men with the money to cross the sea. Instead it would determine the right to asylum based on needs, e.g. the sick or orphans, and give them a visa to safely travel into Europe. A more humane policy with increased funding to UN’s humanitarian agencies will also safeguard that social tensions don’t spin out of control in Europe, so that the refugees that get to come feel safe and welcome while people that want to stay in the region can do so without starving or turning to violence.

A more humane policy by the rich EU is to provide resources (food, water, healthcare, family planning service, ecological restoration etc.) to vulnerable countries in the MENA region, not to accept only some rich ones that manage to cross the sea. Europe has long been a centre that has sucked in natural resources from the world's poor in exchange for worthless fiat currency and unpayable debts. Now it’s time to repay some of those resources, in the interest of peace and stability in the region.

 

Credit: Ekathemerini

 

According to the Guardian article, quote: “The Syria regional refugee response plan is only funded to 35% of the $1.3bn needed to support refugees, both in the camps and by providing resilience funding for the countries hosting them” which is a disgrace, wealthy countries complaining about a refugee crisis but being unwilling to fund the response in the region. The article goes on to state: “In August, a multi-million dollar shortfall forced the World Health Organisation to close down 184 health clinics across 10 of Iraq’s 18 districts, in an area that has seen severe fighting and massive internal displacement. The cuts have left 3 million people without access to healthcare. The World Health Organisation is trying to raise $60m to fund healthcare in Iraq but so far only $5.1m has been given by donors. Dr Michelle Gayer is director for emergency risk management at the WHO. She told the Guardian that the gap between the desperate need in countries such as Iraq and current funding levels risked permanent damage to public health across whole populations” (The Guardian, 2015)

There are plenty of young unemployed people in Europe that wants a job so why don't governments fund UN's programs that could make use of young talents at the same time as it helps vulnerable communities in the MENA region. That could actually help lower the risk of extremism spreading, as opposed to military intervention which only creates extremism. Better yet, take money from defence budgets and put it into aid if there "isn't enough funding" at the moment. Have we learned nothing from our previous failures?

Collapse Cafe Special Edition: Paris Massacre

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on November 16, 2015

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Our plan originally was to discuss Collapse Priorities.  What do you need to concern yourself with most first?  Is it Climate?  Is it Economics?  Is it Energy?  Is it Geopolitics?

The Plan was disrupted by what occured in Paris on Friday.  Geopolitics took center stage of its own accord.  When TSHTF, you have to adapt.

Audio Only, Download on Diner Soundcloud to listen on your phone or mp3 player

Also, don't miss the latest Rant!!!

A Tsunami of Human Overshoot

Postcard From Sweden

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on October 15, 2015

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With this interview, we introduce the most recent in the pantheon of Diner Cross Posting Bloggers, Linda Bergqvist, aka Fenixor.

FX runs the blog Peak Resources, hails from Sweden and is one of the younger Diners, along with Monsta from the UK who cohosts the Collapse Cafe Videos & Podcasts with me usually.  This interview was done on short notice though, so it's just the Talking Heads of RE & FX in this one.

Following the Video, we'll be cross posting  recent blogs from FX under her byline.  Visit her Peak Resources blog to catch up on her previous articles.

What is Really Behind the Refugee Crisis in Europe?

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Published on Question Everything on September 11, 2015

Boat-Refugees

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The Resource Crisis and Climate Change

Back in July, 2013 I wrote this post, MENA – A Model of the Future? in which I dug deeper into the then crisis transpiring in Egypt where a revolt against the Morsi government was being spurred by the fact that the dwindling natural resources per capita (especially energy) were fundamentally unsolvable by any government. The people were unhappy because they thought that by voting in a new government democratically they would solve their problems (jobs, food, water, fuel, etc.) But it didn't happen for the simple reason that the resource pie was shrinking faster than any government actions (say attracting some kind of investment in the country) could counter. Things got worse and people once again took to the streets. Today, two years later, things have gotten considerably worse under the military regime that kicked out Morsi and took over. As I claimed then and reiterate, it is a matter of plain and simple physics, not politics. You cannot legislate resources into existence.

People have gotten used to thinking that solutions come from politics – having the right officials in place means that they will solve the problems. People everywhere pretty much assume this is the case, even in the US where the freak show called the presidential campaign is off and running. No doubt many republicans in the US sincerely believe that Donald Trump will solve all the problems and everything will be right as rain once again ("Make America great again").

But politicians are not miracle workers. They cannot feed the multitudes from a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. What they have become, however, right along side their neoclassical economics allies, are fair magicians — prestidigitators. They know how to manipulate smoke and mirrors and conjure economic spells. They are nothing more than snake oil con men (and women). The irony is that they actually believe what they say and are convinced they know how to really make good stuff happen. They are a testament to the capacity of the less-than-sapient mind's ability to double think.

The simple truth is that when you find yourself in deep resource depletion and high population no amount of financial hocus pocus or political posturing or brute force can fix anything. The Morsi government nor the military junta before and after could ever possibly satisfy the needs of the people. No government could. Nor could there be massive aid influx to ease the situation. The other nations of the world are all much poorer than they will admit. They cannot pump enough resources into the region to solve the problems. There is no scenario in which this comes out well.

Our talking heads continue to evaluate the “causes” of the mass exodus from the MENA region as due to the political unrest growing more violent by the day. For example they look at Syria and blame the problems, initially, on Asad and the rebellion/civil war that threatens so many civilians. Then the US government focuses on the ISIS threat as causing so many people to want to leave. These destructive acts are merely proximate causes. The rebels against Asad are basically repeating the story in Egypt. They claim that bad government (Asad) is the cause of the problems experienced by the people. Replace the government and problem solved! Right? Much the same story is being repeated through out the other failed states in the region.

The civil wars and lawlessness (e.g. Boko Haram) are driven by the rapid decline of resources compounded now by climate consequences, drought and severe temperatures. People are fighting for dwindling resources in increasingly unlivable conditions. The citizens of these states are responding most immediately to the violence, and claiming political asylum on that basis. But make no mistake. They are ultimately climate and resource refugees. And there is no policy or plan that will correct the situation. The lucky ones will escape (if they don't die on the journey) to Europe and possibly to the US. But that will simply cause resource strains in those areas where they settle. Nor will the flood taper off until the region is mostly emptied.

MENA is just the first example of what is happening in the world. As the climate situation worsens, and we now know that it is and will further, affecting every continent on the planet, and as resource depletions grow acute in various focused locations, we will see this same scenario played out again and again. Political upheaval based on the belief that the government's ineptitude, or corruption, or whatever, is responsible for the problems that ensue (food shortages, fuel shortages, unemployment, etc.) will give over to violence. Regimes will change, but the problems will just grow worse.

Perhaps the US and some of the remaining western “rich” nations will try to help, intervene to reduce violence, or attempt to aid relocations. But their capacity to afford such actions are growing weaker with every day that passes. At some point the wealthy nations will no longer be truly wealthy and will decline to try to help. They will, in fact, be starting to feel the same effects themselves. Already we see the discord and extreme polarizations taking place in many western polities. In the US we tend to blame the congress for its deadlocked inability to pass laws that will effect economic change (and assumed progress). Neither side gets a thumbs-up on its economic ideas. In any case both sides firmly believe that economic growth is the solution to all problems and neither recognizes that we've used up all of the resources that we need to do so. They are so blind to reality that all they can really do from now on is exacerbate the problems. In the US we are in a situation that only the most blind persons even seek political position. They are so stupid and ignorant that they cannot even conceive that problems have real physical roots. Pity.

All over the world, right now, you can find cases of pockets of affected areas where people are starting to move out seeking somewhere where they can find work and resources. Within nations like Brazil, China, Russia, and even the United States there are instances of people becoming refugees. The Dust Bowl events in the US are another model for what is happening. Right now, in each of these countries the migrations are within the borders (except in Mexico and other Latin American countries) and so don't show up in “official” statistics.

Certainly there have been relocation migrations throughout humankind's history. We've always managed to deplete local resources forcing people to abandon a region, for example areas in the Middle East were once far more productive than in recent history before ungulate grazing changed the region's climate. And there have been many cases of people simply seeking better conditions (e.g. the American West promised great possibilities, especially during the Gold Rush). What is different about the current situation is that we are looking at a global phenomenon. Resources have been depleted just about everywhere. Climate is changing everywhere and at a breath-taking rate. The regions that are experiencing the worst effects are now quite obvious. The MENA region is probably the most dramatic. For example, by contrast, island nations being threatened by sea level rise and Arctic regions being impacted by loss of ice have fewer people affected and so do not rise to the level of global-level stress. Nevertheless the people effected in these regions are beginning to plan their escapes from their situations.

Right now in China there are many local emigrations taking place due to combinations of insufficient resources and climate change consequences. There is also a fair amount of unrest brewing in various areas. These are not as dramatic (yet) as the case in the MENA region. And internal migrations, as I said, are not depicted in the same manner as the refugee flood from the MENA to Europe. In fact it might be even worse in China than we know. The country is so much larger, the populations involved so much larger, and the information flow coming out of the country is subject to so much filtering that we might not get a good idea of what is happening there until significant violence breaks out that can't be hidden. But based on China's geographical conditions, and its potential susceptibility to climate disruptions, and the distributions of its huge population, I expect to soon see a situation similar to the MENA refugees become obvious in China.

India might erupt before China. The Indian subcontinent's orientation (North-South axis), its reliance on the snow falls and ice reservoirs in the Himalayas and its proximity to the equator make it a candidate for significant climate disruptions. It is already suffering changes in its monsoon patterns at the same time the huge population is withdrawing more water from its limited resources. However, in India I would not be surprised to see a somewhat different response from the populace. The vast majority of people in the country do not have mobility resources in the same way many Chinese do. It would not surprise me if a significant portion of the Indian population simply succumbed in place rather than trying to trek out. The distances are too great and the conditions along the way are likely to not provide support. There is no other large body of land nearby for those in the costal regions to escape to.

As the MENA refugee crisis unfolds this fall we will have a good view of what to expect world-wide. Right now a fair amount of European sentiment is in support of the migrants (I know there is a technical difference between a migrant and a refugee, but as I claimed above, these refugees are really climate-escape migrants). As more and more pour into the continent we will see how long this sentiment carries. There are many anti-migrant advocates already making noises and trying to get more political purchase. A lot will depend on the economic strength of the countries taking in the migrants — will the local natives be able to get jobs? — and the behavior of the immigrants. There is a real danger of culture clash based on the religious backgrounds of Muslim immigrants and secular (or Christian) natives. I refuse to predict anything on this count. The situation is too chaotic.

What I will predict is that the phenomenon will grow and worsen over the next decade. This is a one-way street we are on and no U-turns are possible. You can't un-deplete resources, especially fossil fuel energy. Readers of my biophysical economics writings will know how dim a view I have of the prospects of alternative energies replacing fossil fuels even if we were to undertake a huge reduction in net energy use. Alternatives might ease the pain a bit, for a while, but they cannot provide the long term flows of high power energy that it takes to drive our modern technologies. Magical and wishful thinking cannot change that fact. Alternative energy capture and conversion equipment (i.e. wind towers and solar arrays) are still built, installed, and maintained using fossil fuel power. It is quite doubtful that they will ever be self-sustaining to the extent of providing adequate net energy for economic uses.

If you want to consider your own future, imagine yourself in the shoes of one of the MENA refugees right now. Many of the ones who are making the trip had some basic monetary resources to afford the passage. But look at what they were reduced to in doing so. Imagine yourself now in a situation where the local stores are no longer stocked with food and other necessaries. Imagine your electricity being intermittent, maybe only on ten percent of the day. Imagine transportation breakdowns, perhaps gas is no longer delivered to your gas station. Imagine communications breakdowns. No Internet. No telephones (cell or land lines). What will you do?

But more than that, imagine that you decide to escape. Where will you go. The MENA refugees have Europe, ostensibly, to escape to. They expect their problems to be greatly reduced in these new lands. After all, the North is rich. Where will you go? What country will you escape to? Maybe some Americans are thinking they will go to Canada! But do they actually understand what the climate changes are going to mean for all of North America?

I doubt there will be any real escape. The best a sapient being can do is find a location that looks like it will be least impacted by climate, get situated and hunker down. With luck, you might just make it.

Rant Regarding Refugee Relief

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 10, 2015

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TAKE THE REFUGEE SURVEY HERE

gc2The Refugee Crisis has been "Topic of the Week" in the Collapse Doom-o-sphere.  Everybody's Talkin' about what to DO about this growing problem, with few plausible solutions being offered up anywhere, be it on the Blogs or from the Political class running the show here.  From Zero Hedge to Donald Trump, from Jim Kunstler to Nazis in Hungary and the Czech Republic, EVERYBODY'S TALKIN'.

To add more grist to the mill, I ranted on this topic last night, detailing some of the complete STUPIDITY that is ongoing here as the crisis escalates.  Sad to say, the discourse is unlikely to get any smarter as time goes by here.

We also have up a new Collapse Survey TM for readers to drop down their opinions on how to handle the Refugee Clusterfuck.   Below, I'll also include a few of the current Text Responses to the Survey.  Also another LINK to the Survey of course.  Did I remind you enough times to TAKE THE FUCKING SURVEY?  lol.

It's a Wicked Problem.  How would you handle it?

Snippet:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CJZV9EnVEAM7v6a.jpg…However, there is a rapidly escalating issue worth Ranting on, the Refugee issue. I wrote my first article on this issue a couple of weeks ago, and this week I published a new Collapse survey to find out what the Kollapsniks think we can or should do about this problem. Here you get all sorts of apocalyptic ideas which come up in the commentariat of the blogs, along the lines of shooting anyone who tries to cross a border. Even our own leading POTUS Candidate The Donald has come out in favor of Deporting everyone who doesn't have their papers in order.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c2/Buchenwald-bei-Weimar-am-24-April-1945.jpg/260px-Buchenwald-bei-Weimar-am-24-April-1945.jpgHowever, while we have a long standing issue with illegal immigration along the border with Mexico, these days the main focus for the Western Industrialized Nations is on Europe, where refugees from all over MENA are trying to escape escalating warfare and ever depleting supplies of water and food at ever higher prices they can't afford to try and make it to the “promised land” of Germany, of all places. You do know I am sure that when the Jews got kicked out of Russia during the Pogroms in the 1800s, where they ended up migrating to were places like Germany and Poland, and you also are aware what happened to 6M of them in the 1930s. Uncle Adolf handed them all a First Class Ticket to the Great Beyond TM, that's what happened. Do you really think the Germans of today will behave any differently than the Germans of the 1930s when Depression hits in full force?…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!

This story came out on Zero Hedge after I recorded the Rant, but before I published.

It escalates rapidly…

Following Hungarian cameramen kicking 10-year-old girl refugees, and Czech police hauling immigrants of trains and writing numbers on their arms, it appears the horrors of the past are quickly forgotten when it comes to 'solutions' for the present. As The Jerusalem Post reports, the leader of the Czech 'nationalist' National Democracy Party, has called for refugees to be placed in Terezin – a former Nazi concentration camp"Why build tent camps for the aliens? We have the beautiful fortress town of Terezin where the aliens could concentrate before they are taken home by trains." Police are investigating whether his comments constitute a criminal act and Czech Jewish leaders have refused to comment on the incident.

As The Jerusalem Post reports, police in the Czech Republic are investigating comments made on Facebook by an extremist politician calling for refugees to be placed in Terezin, the former Nazi concentration camp.

Adam Bartos, the leader of the fringe yet vocal far-right nationalist National Democracy Party, published the comments about the site, located in the central European country, on Monday.

Reacting to the establishment of a refugee camp near the country’s border with Slovakia, Bartos wrote, “Why build tent camps for the aliens? We have the beautiful fortress town of Terezin where the aliens could concentrate before they are taken home by trains.”

TAKE THE REFUGEE SURVEY HERE

The FULL TEXT of the Rant will be available HERE in a few days

A Selection of  Early Responses to one of the survey text questions:

If you were in charge, what policies would you put in place now to try and stem the tide of refugees all over the world? (text response)

Educating women seems to be the best way to lower the birth rate. I'd try to educate and empower women in 3rd world countries. Too little too late, though.
As King of the World. Migration is a fact. It will happen as climate change begins to bite. Develop soft population growth controls and alter national boundaries/resource consumption to accomodate as many people as possible while working to decreace total population to a sustainable number through natural reductions. (Like this ever has a chance in hell of happening).
There effectively is no way to stop people from trying to get to places that seem better than where they come from. The only thing that can be done is resolve some of the military conflicts; its the only thing about which we have any control (climate change is probably no longer in out control for the short term, anyway). Unfortunately, the conflicts continue to multiply without any end in sight. The last round of interventionist policies of the early 2000s caused even more instability than the previous round of interventions in the mid 1990s. Is there anyone that seriously thinks more intervention is going to solve the conflicts.

Survey: What to do about the Refugees? Results: The Human Dieoff Timeline

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 8, 2015

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TAKE THE REFUGEE CRISIS SURVEY HERE

Most prominent in Collapse Newz over the last couple of weeks has been the rapidly escalating Refugee Crisis occuring over in Europe, as residents from failing states like Syria attempt to migrate into Europe, toward the Promised Land of Germany and other Northern European countries that still seem to be doing OK.

Of course, migrations have been ongoing for a long time, here in the FSoA there is constant conflict over the issue of "Illegal Aliens", mainly folks from the Latin countries of Central and South America who make their way north and cross at the Mexican border, although there are other routes as well.

I wrote an article about this a couple of weeks ago, The Refugee Tsunami, as the first of the big stories started to pop up in the MSM, but the recent photo of a young Syrian boy around age 3 lying face down and apparently dead has really brought this problem into the forefront as a humanitarian crisis.

http://i.tmgrup.com.tr/dailysabah/2015/09/02/1441232698560.jpg

I got together with Ugo Bardi from Resource Crisis, Steve Ludlum from Economic Undertow and Norman Pagett, one of the Authors of The End of More to finish out Part 3 of the discussions held a couple of weeks ago on Energy, Economics and Futurology with a discussion of Geopolitical Implications of Collapse, of which the Refugee Problem is a significant part.  Our discussion is at the top of this page.

You can also take part here in a Collapse Survey TM centered around how the Refugee situation will play out, and how it will be handled by the folks in charge of the political, economic and military machinery of Industrial Civilization.

TAKE THE REFUGEE CRISIS SURVEY HERE

Now onto the results from last week's survey, The Timeline for Dieoff of Homo Sap on Earth!

Cruising around the Doom-o-sphere, you'll find basic agreement these days that the Population of Homo Sap is set up for a major crash in numbers.  A few folks like Guy McPherson of Nature Bats Last even prognosticate a COMPLETE WIPEOUT of Homo Sap in a Near Term Human Extinction, as early as 2030  according to Guy before the last HS on earth buys his or her Ticket to the Great Beyond TM.

Of course, with 7B people currently ambulatory walking the Earth TODAY, to have every last one DEAD by 2030 means that even without any new births you need around 500M people to die every year starting NOW. Today. No, Yesterday. LOL.

Recall here that even through the Great Depression & WWII total deaths probably were no more than 50M.

The Black Death, the plague that hit Europe in the 1300s took around 7 years to knock off a top estimate of 200M people

The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people and peaking in Europe in the years 1346–53.[1][2][3] Although there were several competing theories as to the etiology of the Black Death, analysis of DNA from victims in northern and southern Europe published in 2010 and 2011 indicates that the pathogen responsible was the Yersinia pestis bacterium, probably causing several forms of plague.[4][5]

Whether you believe ALL people will DIE, MOST people will DIE or only SOME people will DIE, the main questions to deal with here are WHEN will this Dieoff begin, how BIG will the population actually get before the dieoff gets underway, and how FAST will this dieoff go?

These were the question answered by the Kollapsniks TM last week here on the Doomstead Diner.  Here are the results (through Sunday 9/6/2015)

Most Doomers peg the dieoff to begin between 2020 and 2030.

Dieoff-Survey-Results-1

More than 50% of Kollapsniks TM believe the population will begin to decrease before we make it to 8B.  There are a few people in the sample who think the population will continue to increase through this century though.  Refugees from a Cornucopian Website no doubt.

Dieoff-Survey-Results-2

Doomers tend to believe the dieoff will proceed fairly rapidly once underway, with more than half seeing the population halved in 30 years or less.  To make it EZ, if you start with 8B and cut it to 4B over 40 years, this means every year you need 100M more Dead People than Live Births every year, which you might just about be able to handle and get all the graves dug.  Much faster than that, disposal would be a problem.

Dieoff-Survey-Results-3

https://cicisrant.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/dead-people.gif

Now, if you want one Infographic which will tell you first where the greatest percentage Dieoff will occur, and second what places people will be trying to EXIT from and where they will be trying to GET to, this one is it.

https://i.imgur.com/nKICzQh.jpg

Choose your destination with care, and then Lock & Load.  This is not going to be pretty.

COMING THURSDAY: A NEW RANT ON THE REFUGEE CRISIS

Hot Holiday in Italy

Off the keyboard of Ugo Bardi

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Published on Resource Crisis on August 15, 2015

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An image of the "new normal" in Italy. In Florence, a downtown shop tries to fight the heat wave of this summer by installing an air conditioner, without worrying too much about spewing hot air right onto the hot and sweating tourists.

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Happy August 15th (and a little rant from UB)

Happy Aug 15th, everybody! Here, in Florence, the worst seems to be over and the forecasts tell of rain today and tomorrow. This July has been the hottest ever recorded in Italy, but we suffered, on the whole, only limited damage. We had more than a month of brutal heat, but also some rain that eased the problem of the forest fires. Now, we can hope to arrive to September without big troubles, at least in terms of sheer heat. 

It is sure, anyway, that this Summer we got a taste of what the "new normal" is going to be. Apart from the horrible heat, we saw a number of spectacular disasters created by bad weather. I can tell you that I had never seen the roof of a house blown away by the wind. I had seen something like that only on TV, and mainly in the US, where the wooden homes always have that look as if they were coming from the tale of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. But seeing the roofs of concrete buildings in Florence being ripped off and deposited in the courtyards, below, well, it has been a shock.

So much the shock caused by these events, that on TV someone mentioned the term "climate change". Fortunately, they immediately found an "expert" who appeared on screen and said that everything was fine and that it had been just a normal summer thunderstorm. 

Apart from the shy, and immediately removed, intrusion of the real world on the TV screen, Italy continues to operate in conditions that I would call "political Alzheimer." That is, conditions in which the patient continues to repeat the same things over and over, without reacting to external stimuli. So, we vaguely remember that, in the past, there was a good time in which the economy was growing and there follows that there is nothing else and nothing more than pursuing growth to fix all the problems.

This catatonic form of politics is not a fault of any specific political force. The faces we see on TV are a little like what people saw in one of those old "houses of mirrors" in amusement parks. Distorted mirrors would return your image as taller or shorter, fatter or thinner, crooked or straight; but it was always the same person. So, the politicians ruling Italy today are just slightly deformed reflections of the society that has produced them. It is us: we are aggressive, disoriented, angry, and without ideas. 

On this point, there is a very interesting post by John Michael Greer (the "archdruid") titled "the war against change."  Greer maintains that the traditional distinction between "progressives" and "conservatives" has been replaced by a situation in which the progressives became conservatives in the sense they oppose any and all change, whereas the conservatives still favor changes, provided that they will worsen things considerably.

This view can be perfectly applied to the Italian situation, with the so called "left" that shows a deep hate for renewable energy and for everything sustainable, whereas the right continues to push for drilling more and drilling deeper in order to get more energy from the sea of oil on which, notoriously, Italy floats. This idea of the right is being applied with great enthusiasm by the left, presently in power.   

But I would also say that Greer is somewhat optimistic, in the sense that the ongoing mental paralysis is affecting all political forces, both on the right and on the left. And it is not just a problem of the political parties: it is the entire Italian society that can't find anything better to do than to blame the bugaboo of the moment, be it Putin's Russia, Merkel's Germany, or whatever. And a good fraction of the public seems to find refuge in the most extreme forms of conspiracy theories, those which are unseemly for the dignity of the human condition, such as chemtrails and the upcoming new ice age. 

All right, sorry for this little rant from me. But, really, it is impressive to note how nothing moves in the debate, while we are facing gigantic changes in the ecosystem and in the economy. Do we have any hope to see something moving in the future? Hard to say. Surely, 2016 will be hotter than 2015, and 2017 will be even worse. But, on TV, there will always be some "expert" telling people that everything is normal. 

_______________________________

Note: to be sure, this 2015 has seen one big change in terms of new ideas. The "Laudato Si" Papal encyclical. It is impressive how this set of  ideas comes from the Church of Rome, the bugaboo of the old and rigid "left," who once were priding themselves of the definition of "progressives." It reminds me of Tonybee, when he placed himself in the position of an ancient Roman and asked: "what good can ever come out of Bethlehem?" And yet….

A Tsunami of Climate Refugees is Drowning Europe

Off the keyboard of Tom Lewis

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Published on The Daily Impact on August 12, 2015

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refugees-greek-sea

Can you imagine what it would take for you to take your family on a vessel like this to cross an angry sea to a foreign country, just to stay alive? This boat is bound for a Greek island from North Africa.

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One of the most desperate and destructive diasporas in history is rolling out of the parched regions of Africa and the Middle East, over Europe, toward extinction. They are being called refugees from war, but the wars they are fleeing have their origins in the desperation of people who have no food, and they have no food because of the savage droughts being inflicted on their countries by global climate change. Hence, it is perfectly legitimate, and more importantly it is honest, to call them climate refugees.

(Among all 423 current candidates for US President, only Martin O’Malley demonstrated a grasp of this reality when he said that climate change is responsible for the rise of ISIS. He was almost universally ridiculed for saying it, and this tiny, lonely spark of sense fell on wet ground and was instantly extinguished.)

In just the latest ramification of the new Dark Age advancing on Europe, 1,000 Afghan and Syrian refugees who had made their way to the Greek Island of Kos were rounded up by riot police yesterday (after having been herded with fire extinguishers) and imprisoned in an open stadium until they could be “registered.” At last report there were three — count them, three — officers taking names. It is not that the authorities are heartless, they are overwhelmed. Those 1,000 refugees are not all the refugees on Kos, that is how many refugees arrive every day. “The situation on the island is out of control,” said the mayor of Kos, “blood will be shed.”

“Greece faces a crisis within a crisis,” said prime minister Alexis Tsipras. “The migrant flows exceed the capacity of our state infrastructure.” About 120,000 refugees have stumbled ashore on the Greek Islands so far this year, four times the influx during all of 2014. The other principal landing for refugees traveling to Europe by boat, Italy, estimates that 100,000 have come aground there this year.

Imagine that you have lost your job, been served with an eviction notice, lost your car to the repo man and 20 of your closest relatives arrive on your doorstep in search of food and shelter. That’s that’s going on here. Neither these countries, nor the United Nations, nor the NGOs operating in the area, can possibly handle this rip tide of human misery.  Nor is it limited to Greece and Italy. Let’s take a brief tour:

Hungary is rushing to complete a 110-mile-long fence along its border with Serbia to stem the flow of mostly Syrian refugees — 2,000 in 2012, now 1,500 people per day —  seeking asylum in a European Union country so they can travel freely among the other EU members.

Germany is the Mecca for most of these refugees, who are fully aware of the desperate economic straits of countries such as Greece and Italy. Germany is expecting 450,000 refugees this year, double the amount of last year, and the resulting tensions are rising. So far this year there have been 150 attacks on refugee shelters, most of them attempts to burn the shelters down. When the flood of refugees overwhelmed existing camps, the government called in the army to help, a move that inflamed those who insist that any use of the army inside the country is unconstitutional.

Across Italy, increasingly violent protests are breaking out over the strains produced by the relentless onslaught of the destitute. The mayor of Rome said this week the city does not have the resources to take in any more refugees. The wealthier northern districts of Italy, called on to help by taking some of the influx, refused. Meanwhile, the Italian coast guard last weekend rescued at sea and brought ashore another 1,800 people (so far this year an estimated 2,000 refugees have died at sea).   

The first tendrils of this massive onslaught of humanity have reached England, and have convulsed the country’s politics. The prime minister speaks of a “swarm” and the foreign secretary says “millions of marauding Africans” threaten the standard of living, and must be returned to their home countries, and their own standards of living. The reality underlying this panic is that a few thousand refugees, having reached Calais on the west coast of France, have tried to walk or hitch rides through the English Channel Tunnel to England. So far, one has made it, only to be arrested at the exit. Now thanks to a mile long fence at the Calais entrance to the Chunnel, and some nasty camps of hovels for the refugees who make it that far, fewer are able to make the attempt. But the extra security has choked travel through the Chunnel, negatively impacting commerce and tourism.

Still, the bleak tide rises. Still Europe sinks beneath it as the desert sands spread from Africa to Arabia to Asia. Still, no one offers a solution, for the terrifying reason that no one has yet identified the problem.  

Now is the Time

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on July 27, 2015

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Fear - Public Domain

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Fear Rises As Financial Markets All Over The Planet Start To Crash

Can you feel the panic in the air?  CNN Money’s Fear & Greed Index measures the amount of fear in the financial world on a scale from 0 to 100.  The closer it is to zero, the higher the level of fear.  Last Monday, the index was sitting at a reading of 36.  As I write this article, it has fallen to 7.  The financial turmoil which began last week is threatening to turn into an avalanche. On Sunday night, we witnessed the second largest one day stock market collapse in China ever, and this pushed stocks all over the planet into the red.  Meanwhile, the twin blades of an emerging market currency crisis and a commodity price crash are chewing up economies that are dependent on the export of natural resources all over the globe.  For a long time, I have been warning about what would happen in the second half of 2015, and now it is here.  The following is a summary of the financial carnage that we have seen over the past 24 hours…

-On Sunday night, the Shanghai Composite Index plunged 8.5 percent.  It was the largest one day stock market crash in China since 2007, and it was the second largest in history.  The Chinese government is promising to directly intervene in order to prevent Chinese stocks from going down even more.

-Over 1,500 stocks in China fell by their 10 percent daily maximum.  This list includes giants such as China Unicom, Bank of Communications and PetroChina.

-Ever since peaking in June, the Shanghai Composite Index has dropped by a total of 28 percent.

-Even Chinese stocks that are listed on U.S. stock exchanges are being absolutely hammered.  The following comes from USA Today

The 144 China-based stocks with primary listings on major U.S. exchanges have erased nearly $40 billion in paper wealth since the Shanghai Composite index peaked on June 12. It’s an enormous destruction of wealth that in effects wipes out the market value of a company the size of cruise ship operator Carnival.

-The Chinese stock market crash pushed European stocks significantly lower on Monday…

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed 2.1 percent lower, while the Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC closed respectively 2.4 percent and 2.5 percent lower.

The U.K.’s benchmark FTSE outperformed its euro zone peers, but still closed unofficially down 1.0 percent.

-Overall, European stocks have been falling steadily since the beginning of last week.  To get an idea of how much damage has been done already, just check out this chart.

-As I mentioned above, an emerging market currency crisis is causing havoc for economies all over the planet.  The following comes from an article that was published by the Telegraph

The currencies of Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey have all crashed to multi-year lows as investors flee emerging markets and commodity prices crumble.

The drastic moves came as fears of imminent monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve combined with shockingly weak figures from China, which stoked fears that the country may be sliding into a deeper downturn and sent tremors through East Asia, Latin America and Africa.

-The government of Puerto Rico has announced that it does not have enough cash to make a scheduled debt payment of 169 million dollars on August 1st.  The Obama administration says that there are no plans in the works to bail out Puerto Rico.

-On Monday, the Dow was down another 127 points.  It was the fifth day in a row that the Dow and the S&P 500 have both declined.

-Overall, the Dow is now down more than 650 points since July 20th.

-480 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange have hit new 52-week lows.  Many analysts consider this to be a very, very ominous sign.

-I have repeatedly written about the danger of the commodity collapse that we are currently witnessing, and the Bloomberg Commodity Index fell another 1.22 percent on Monday to a fresh low of 92.1493.

-On Monday, the price of U.S. oil hit a 52-week low of $46.92.

-So far, the price of U.S. oil has fallen about 20 percent this month.

-Back in June 2014, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude was above 107 dollars.  Since then, the price of U.S. oil has fallen an astounding 56 percent.

-Thanks in large part to the collapse in energy prices, junk bonds are cratering.  This is something that happened just before the financial crisis of 2008, and now it is happening again.  The following comes from Wolf Street

Among the bonds: Cliffs Natural Resources down 27.6%, SandBridge down 30%, Murray Energy down 21.2%, and Linn Energy down 22.3%, according to Bloomberg.

For example, Linn Energy 6.25% notes due in 2019 were trading at 78 cents on the dollar at the beginning of July and at 58 on Friday, according to LCD. There was bloodshed beyond energy, such as AK Steel’s 7.625% notes due in 2021. They were trading at 62 cents on the dollar, down 22% from the beginning of July.

“The performance is a disappointment to investors who purchased about $40 billion of junk-rated bonds from energy companies this year, thinking that the worst of the slump was over,” Bloomberg noted.

This is exactly what we would expect to see during the early stages of a financial crisis.

Of course global financial markets may bounce back somewhat tomorrow.  If you will remember, some of the largest one day gains in stock market history happened right in the middle of the stock market collapse of 2008.  So don’t get fooled by what happens on any one particular day.

With so much fear in the air, literally anything could happen in the weeks and months ahead of us.  One month ago, I issued a red alert for the last six months of this year.  I warned that a major financial crisis was imminent and that people needed to start protecting themselves immediately.

As I write this article on Monday evening, financial markets are already opening up over in Asia.  Japanese stocks are already down 251 points even though the market has only been open for about an hour over there.

We have entered a time when what is happening to global stock markets will once again be headline news.  We are right on the precipice of another great financial crisis, only this one is going to ultimately end up being much worse than the last one.

Now is the time.

Please get prepared while you still can.

Simplifying the Final Countdown

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on July 19, 2015

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It's been a watershed week here in the world of collapse, watching both the European economy and the Chinese economy circle the toilet bowl.  Oil also is back on its downward trend line, and Pigmen everywhere remain perplexed, blaming the problems variously on Socialist Goobermints, Unions or Keynesian Economists, but none of those are in the least bit correct.

The problem is really a very simple one, which is that there are too many people chasing too few resources, particularly the energy resource necessary to live the Industrial lifestyle those of us who have enjoyed that in the west have been pursuing for the last 200 years or so.  Here is how we looked diagramatically 200 years ago at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution:

Industrialization-Beginning

oilwellAs this trip began, there were just tons of Fossil Fuels in the ground, Coal, Oil and Natural Gas, and they weren't too hard to find or extract either.  In fact in the early years, the Oil just squirted out of the ground under its own pressure, as soon as you popped a hole in the container.  It has become progressively harder to extract though, and nowadays to get the last of the extractable stuff up, the Frackers have to pump millions of gallons of water and chemicals to coax the stuff up out of the rocks it is embedded in.  Similar with NG, it takes real sweet high tech equipment that can drill horizontal wells to get to the remaining supplies of this stuff.  Its not cheap to get this out of the ground anymore.

You also had a relatively low population that was mostly agrarian at the beginning of this trip.  Both the North & South American continents were relatively empty of people, with most of the indigenous population wiped out by the Smallpox, Tuberculosis, Scarlet Fever and other diseases brought over to the continent in the early years of colonialization.

There was little pollution in those years, you could pretty much drink out of any stream or even lake without treating the water in any way.  Long as you disposed of your own waste downstream from wherever you were, you were OK long as there was nobody else immediately upstream from you.

Most of the CO2 in the atmosphere up at that point was what occurred naturally from forest fires, vulcanism and so forth.  There was some addition from Homo Saps burning stuff to smelt metal for Ag Equipment and War Tools, but since the population overall was not that large, it was not overwhelming the capacity of the earth to absorb this waste, or the sun to provide enough energy to replace what was wasted. Overall, it was a fairly Balanced system to this point, although Ag was defintely desertifiying many portions of the planet where it had been practiced for 1000s of years.  Over time, even without Industrialization, Ag as practiced in most places would have done the same job as industrialization, though probably not quite as fast.

Fast Forward now here to the situation 200 years later in this game:

Indistrialization-Now

All the main resources are shrinking in size, quite rapidly in many areas.

In Fossil Fuel Energy Resource, the real easy sources of Coal, Oil and NG are gone, and just extracting what is left takes more energy and more technology all the time.  Accessing Debt Money to do that extraction becomes more difficult as well, and credit to the end consumer to buy that energy also becomes more scarce.  All together, this reults in fewer people able to afford to waste this energy, and so little by little, country by country, some folks are triaged off of the credit necessary to participate in this economy.  It is most obvious in Greece right now, but it is occurring just about everywhere, even in the Core economies of Industrialized Nations of the FSoA, Germany, the UK and China.  In these places you have an increasingly large underclass of people receiving Food Stamps and supplements to stay alive, but they aren't commuting to work and aren't buying tankloads of gasoline for their SUVs every week.  Currently, out of the 320M people living in the FSoA, 45M of them are on Food Stamps.

http://www.trivisonno.com/wp-content/uploads/Food-Stamps-Yearly.jpg

While the energy resource continues to deplete, as the second diagram shows the total Global Population continues to increase, which will continue until there is a major fracture in the total system, which seems more imminent all the time.  More people all the time need the water, energy and food that the planet can provide on a daily basis.  No amount of Debt Issuance can resolve a food deficit problem, in a given year the food to support the population is either there or it is not.  A certain amount can be held in reserve, food storage techniques are pretty good these days, but overall the margin here is pretty small.  Currently, if there were to be a major falloff in any major food producing region, within one year there would be a major deficit in available calories for the population as a whole.  We are already looking at a major falloff in food production from Sunny Califonia, where the ongoing and accelerating Drought situation is likely to make produce a good deal more expensive right here in the FSoA pretty soon.  This problem of drought is mirrored in many areas of Ag production of the globe right now, from India to China to South America.  It is unlikely to improve anytime too soon.

Drought-Monitor-July-8-2014While you have the problem of steadily increasing human population and steadily decreasing sources of energy, water and arable land, you ALSO have steadily increasing CO2 content in the atmosphere (exacerbating Climate Change issues) and steadily increasing areas of Desertification turning formerly productive food growing regions into deserts.  There is no absolute quantification for this I am aware of, however anecdotally it is possible to track it from Syria to Sao Paolo, from China to India and beyond.  Pretty clearly, the Earth is maxed out in converting solar energy to food, and the Human Population can only survive at current levels with close to the current levels of food available to them.

In the end, this is a very simple and straightforward Thermodynamic Problem of how much energy it takes to run the Human Population Engine.  In order to survive, each Homo Sap consumes X number of calories each day in food.  Because of distribution problems and diet issues with types of food consumed, you have some fat people in some places and some emaciated people in others, but in aggregate you need X calories to keep all the Homo Saps currently walking the Earth ambulatory.

http://www.chemguide.co.uk/physical/equilibria/haberflow.gifThe Industrial Revolution enabled Homo Sap to produce more Food Calories than he ever had before in history, by several orders of magnitude.  In the aftermath of WWII, we learned how to create Ag Fertilizer directly from Oil, through the Haber process  The Ammonia produced is used to make Ammonium Nitrate, useful in bombs but also useful as an Ag Fertilizer.  The very same plants that made the Bombs dropped in the Fire-Bombing of Dresden were converted into making the fertilizer that spawned the "Green Revolution".

Cheap food was produced by the truckload, and the population of Homo Saps EXPLODED over the last 70 years, from around 2.5B in 1940 to around 7B now.  All those people compete for the same resources of water and food, and nearly all of them are dependent on the same monetary sytem that distributes that water and food.  It's a GLOBAL SYSTEM at this point.  Few places are completely independent, even food exporting nations like the FSoA are not independent, since in order to export so much food, it imports a lot of Oil.

It's not just the fertilizer here that enables this, it is also all the farm machinery from tractors to combines, and the whole transportation system from trucks to rail to container ships that moves all this food all over the globe, and often puts outta biz any local production of food as well.  It comes in cheaper even with all the transportation than local food production, and each year thousands of small farmers commit suicide because they cannot make a living selling the food they grow.

India's shocking farmer suicide epidemic

Falling into a debt-trap and besieged by bad weather, thousands of farmers are taking their own lives each year.

Bhagwan Datatery said his father was under tremendous financial pressure before killing himself [Baba Umar/Al Jazeera]

The MSM, and even the Blogosphere on websites like Zero Hedge often paint the problems we face as simple Monetary Problems and Political Problems, Socialism vs Capitalism, Keynesiasm vs Misesanism, Gold vs. Fiat, Democracy vs Dictatorship, etc.  It is none of those things.  It's a straight resource and energy problem which nobody in control will acknowledge, because there is no palatable economic solution to it.  It's not that the only solution entails giving up the Carz and the Happy Motoring lifestyle we have come to expect as a God Given right (the Amerikan lifestyle is NON-NEGOTIABLE according to Dick Cheney), it's that the only solution is a lot of DEAD PEOPLE.

http://i0.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/012/818/Movie_i_see_dead_people-769472.jpg

"I see Dead People"

There is no way whatsoever to engineer the death of billions of people in an equitable manner, there IS no equitable manner for such a catastrophe.  Occassionally you hear talk on the internet in the collapse blogosphere of reducing population through birth control, but first off the Chinese tried that with the One Child policy over the last 30 years and it really did not work, and second even such a policy can only be implemented by the most powerful of governments.  To be really effective, it requires such onerous proceedures as FORCED STERILIZATION and MANDATORY BIRTH CONTROL, and both of those are wicked difficult to implement on the grand scale in any case.

On the upside to this, the Birth Rate in many developed nations is falling, as more people who realize they simply can't afford to have children stop having them, but that is more than made up for as people in the 3rd  World countries reproduce as fast as they still are able to do so, long as they have enough food to do that anyhow.  That supply of food looks like it will run short or be unaffordable for them (or both), so high birth rates and high survival rates for infants in these locations seems unlikely moving forward into the future.

The total population will diminish at some rate, from a decreasing birth rate, and increasing child mortality rate and an increasing death rate in the adult population as well.  That will all come from the usual vectors, the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Famine,Pestilence, War and DEATH.

http://aeroventure.com/END-TIMES/the-four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypse.jpg

The only real questions left now are how fast this will occur, where the best & worst locations will be to be trying to keep living, what are the best strategies for surving this catastrophe, and whether anybody at all can make it through the Zero Point.  Is this Extinction, or a Knockdown Event?

https://33.media.tumblr.com/e25d581eb34b31b9e0a2c909d0d5cf1b/tumblr_nia06yYg6e1rnh7cyo1_500.gifFor the individual who realizes this is coming down the pipe, I don't think it matters which way it actually ends up, because either way, if you want to LIVE, you are going to operate in the same way.  You pick the best strategies for survival you can think up and also implement in some fashion, given the resources you personally have.  You absolutely cannot depend on you Goobermint to save you in the end, since your Goobermint is quite likely to collapse even before you do, at least if you are fairly young anyhow.  Either way its a sorry end, because if everybody dies, its the end of Sentience on Earth.  If you or your progeny survive it, it is still a sorry end, because you are left with Survivor Guilt.  It is a sure thing that if you are to survive this, somebody else must die in your place.  There are just too many people on board the Spaceship Earth now, as a species we are in serious Overshoot, probably 3X to 4X minimum as of now, maybe more than that.

The Greek situation remains an important one to keep track of, because they are the first of the European Nations being kicked off the Titanic of industrial Civilization without a Lifeboat.  How quickly will the situation deteriorate there, how long before they deteriorate to Civil War, how long before Contagion brings their problems to the rest of Europe?

These are questions we do not have answers for today, but they will be coming down the pipe in the not too distant future.  Of one thing you can be certain here, we are NOT exceptional.  This is a very straightforward problem of Thermodynamics, and it will engulf the entire population of Homo Saps currently walking the Earth.  It has little to do with the political systems or economic systems we run to manage the resources.  None of them can work anymore.  There are too many people, too much pollution and waste and not enough resource left for this planet to bear.

That is all she wrote.

http://www.dfwchild.com/Dallas/images/features/Noted_Cursive_ArticleImage1.jpg

RE

Greece Votes NO – Let The Chaos Begin…

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on July 5, 2015

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No - Public Domain

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The result of the referendum in Greece is a great victory for freedom, but it is also threatens to unleash unprecedented economic chaos all across Europe.  With almost all of the votes counted, it is being reported that approximately 61 percent of Greeks have voted “no” and only about 39 percent of Greeks have voted “yes”.  This is a much larger margin of victory for the “no” side than almost everyone was anticipating, and it represents a stunning rejection of European austerity.  Massive celebrations have erupted on the streets of Athens and other major Greek cities, but the euphoria may not last long.  Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is promising that Greece will be able to stay in the euro, but that gives EU bureaucrats and the IMF a tremendous amount of power, because at this point the Greek government is flat broke.  Without more money from the EU and the IMF, the Greek government will not be able to pay its bills and virtually all Greek banks will inevitably collapse.  Meanwhile, the rest of Europe is about to experience a tremendous amount of pain as financial markets respond to the results of this referendum.  The euro is already plummeting, and most analysts expect European bond yields to soar and European stocks to drop substantially when trading opens on Monday morning.

Personally, I love the fact that the Greek people decided not to buckle under the pressure being imposed on them by the EU and the IMF.  But amidst all of the celebration, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that your options are extremely limited when you are out of money.

How is the Greek government going to pay its bills without any money?

How are the insolvent Greek banks going to operate without any money?

How is the Greek economy going to function without any money?

Now that the Greek people have overwhelmingly rejected the demands of the creditors, it will be very interesting to see what the EU and the IMF do.  Prior to the referendum, European leaders were insisting that a “no” vote would put an end to negotiations and would force Greece to leave the euro.

Now that the results are in, are they going to change their tune?  Because the ball is definitely in their court

“This does two things: it legitimises the stance of the Greek government and it leaves the ball in Europe’s court,” ANZ Bank analysts said in a note.

Europe either folds or Greece goes bankrupt; over to you Merkel.”

So would they actually let Greece go bankrupt?

It is going to be fascinating to watch what happens over the next few days.  Right now, Greek banks are on life support.  If the European Central Bank decides to pull the plug, they would essentially destroy the entire Greek banking system.  The only thing that can keep Greek banks alive and kicking is more intervention from the ECB.  The following comes from the New York Times

Now that Greek voters have said no to the economic demands of its international creditors, the fate of the country’s struggling banks is in the hands of the European Central Bank.

Greece’s banks, closed since last Monday because they are perilously low on cash, have been kept alive in recent weeks by emergency loans from the European Central Bank. On Monday, the central bank’s policy makers plan to convene to determine how much longer they are willing to prop up the Greek banks, now that the country has essentially said no to the unpopular dictates of the other eurozone countries.

Of much greater concern to the rest of the world is how financial markets are going to respond to all of this.  As I write this article, things already appear to be unraveling.  The following comes from CNBC

Germany’s Dax is indicated sharply lower from Friday’s close at around 4 percent, while the euro was down 2 percent against the yen as the news emerged. U.S. stocks are expected to open around 1 percent lower Monday, according to recent stock futures data.

What could be most important for those worried about contagion from the Greek crisis is how Portuguese, Spanish and Italian government bonds perform in Monday morning trade.

If these peripheral euro zone countries, often lumped in with Greece, suffer a sharp spike in yields, this could cause alarm about whether Greece leaving the currency might cause further contagion to other weaker euro zone economies.

This could potentially become a “trigger event” that unleashes a wave of financial panic all over Europe.  And once financial panic begins, it is very difficult to end.

If the EU and the IMF want to avoid a crisis, they could just give in to the new Greek government.  But that would be politically risky for certain high profile European leaders.  For instance, Angela Merkel would face a huge backlash back home if she conceded to the new Greek government now.  And other German leaders are already calling the referendum result a “disaster”

German politicians branded the result a ‘disaster’, with the country’s economy minister Sigmar Gabriel Sigmar accusing Tsipras of ‘tearing down the last bridges on which Greece and Europe could have moved towards a compromise’.

He added: ‘Tsipras and his government are leading the Greek people on a path of bitter abandonment and hopelessness.’

And the president of the European Parliament, a German, told a German radio station over the weekend that a “no” vote would almost certainly mean that the Greeks will be forced out of the euro

If after the referendum, the majority is a ‘no,’ they will have to introduce another currency because the euro will no longer be available for a means of payment,” Martin Schulz, European Parliament president, said on German radio.

That is pretty strong language, eh?

Here is yet another quote from Schulz

Without new money, salaries won’t be paid, the health system will stop functioning, the power network and public transport will break down, and they won’t be able to import vital goods because nobody can pay,” he said.

So at this point it is all up to the EU and the IMF, and in particular the focus will be on the Germans.

What will they decide to do?

Will they give in, or will they force the Greeks to leave the euro?

If the Greeks do transition from the euro to a new currency, it will be a process that takes months (if not longer).  You just can’t change ATMs, computer systems, cash registers, etc. overnight.  So a move to the drachma  would not be as simple as many are suggesting…

British firms like De La Rue, which prints 150 currencies worldwide, are believed to have been contacted with a view to providing such services.

It’s done in great secrecy to prevent currency speculation. The other big problem is the logistical challenges of switching a currency. All ATMs, computers and other machinery of commerce that bears the euro symbol will have to be adjusted. It could, and would, take months.

And if Greece does leave, it will be a massive shock for global financial markets.  Faith in the European project will be shattered, the euro will drop like a rock, bond yields all over the continent will rise to unsustainable levels and major banks all over Europe will fail.

I think that the following quote from Romano Prodi sums things up quite well

Romano Prodi, former chief of the European Commission and Italy’s ex-premier, said it is the EU’s own survival that is now at stake as the botched handling of the Greek crisis escalates into a catastrophe. “If the EU cannot resolve a small problem the size of Greece, what is the point of Europe?

Meanwhile, we should all keep in mind that a financial crisis has already erupted over in Asia as well.  Chinese stocks have lost 30 percent of their value in just the last three weeks.  In fact, the amount of “paper wealth” wiped out in China over the past three weeks is approximately equivalent to “10 times Greece’s gross domestic product”

A dizzying three-week plunge in Chinese equities has wiped out $2.36 trillion in market value — equivalent to about 10 times Greece’s gross domestic product last year.

The great financial collapse of 2015 is well underway, and it should be a very interesting week for global markets.

But no matter what happens this week, we all need to keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

A “perfect storm” is on the way, and we all need to get prepared for it while we still can.

 

What it really takes for a US-Iran deal

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Originally published in Ron July 1, 2015

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U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (L-3rd L) meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd R) at a hotel in Vienna, Austria June 28, 2015 (Reuters / Carlos Barria)

 

 

The next important step is what happens at the UN Security Council (UNSC). All the concerned parties at the UNSC will endorse a declaration, and a resolution – which is still being negotiated – will render null and void all previous sanctions resolutions.

As it stands, all the parties – except the US government – want to go to the UNSC as soon as possible. Washington remains, at best, reticent.

Iranian negotiators have made it very clear at the table that Tehran will start implementing its nuclear restriction commitments – removal of a number of centrifuges, removal of the core of Arak’s reactor, disposal of uranium stock, etc. – immediately. The IAEA will be constantly checking Iran has complied with an extensive list.

But it has to be a parallel process; the US and the EU must for their part and “take physical action”, tackling the complex mechanism of lifting all economic sanctions. Once again; a UNSC signature instantly erases all previous sanctions.

And here is something crucial; all of this has been agreed in Lausanne. The work must be simultaneous, as stressed, in tandem, by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU representative Federica Mogherini.

Those fateful parameters

Meanwhile, we have the media centrifuges spinning like mad, as I described here. On the negotiating table, there are still skirmishes related to the US desire in trying to “prove a negative” – as in the “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. Logically, you don't need to be a neo-Wittgenstein to see that’s impossible.

The deadline extension from June 30 to July 7 is mostly about finding – rather, finding again – a “reasonable common narrative” inbuilt in the Lausanne framework, and even before.

This means Washington should make the political decision to tone down repeated attempts to introduce new demands. Iranian officials admit, “we may have had disagreements on how we do simultaneous work,” but that’s part of Lausanne. New demands are not.

In Lausanne, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif agreed on a “set of parameters” – after an excruciating nine hours of debate. They also agreed, crucially, that both sides would refrain from humiliating one another publicly.

The recent record shows that’s been the case – as far as negotiators and diplomats are concerned. On the other hand, US corporate media predictably has been wreaking the proverbial havoc.

Which brings us to the clincher; Iranian negotiators have yet to detect a readiness of the US government to really change the “culture of sanctions” in the UNSC. And here a diplomatic consensus emerges, involving, very significantly, Russia and Germany; this agreement will be made – or broken – on one crucial point; whether the Obama administration wants to lift the sanctions or keep them.

Watch the BRICS front

The least one can say about what’s really happening in the Palais Coburg since this past weekend is that the Obama administration’s position is oscillating wildly. There seems to be – finally – some movement on the American side in the sense they feel a strategic interest in changing the situation.

That will depend, of course, on the Obama administration’s evaluation of all factions operating in the Beltway establishment. Diplomats in Vienna agree Kerry is personally involved in trying to change the equation. So this means the ball is really in the US court.

But all’s still murky; even oscillating wildly; the Americans continue to entertain what an Iranian official described to me as “buyer’s remorse” regarding what they agreed on Lausanne in the first place.

Serious, key sticking points remain. The duration of the sanctions; confidentiality issues – as in the US, especially, respecting terms of access to Iranian military installations; and what’s defined as “managed access” under certain conditions.

Also very crucial is the BRICS front at the P5+1. Neither China nor Russia wants to see any exacerbation of tensions, in Southwest Asia and beyond, because a deal is not clinched. The bottom line; with their eye in the Big Picture – as in Eurasia integration – both are committed to facilitate a deal.

Until next Tuesday, all remains in play. Obama has been spinning he doesn’t want a “bad deal”. That’s not the issue. The issue is Obama himself making the fateful political decision of abandoning the weapon of choice of US foreign policy; sanctions. Has he got what it takes to pull it off?


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Financial Turmoil In Europe, China And The United States

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on June 19, 2015

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As we move toward the second half of 2015, signs of financial turmoil are appearing all over the globe.  In Greece, a full blown bank run is happening right now.  Approximately 2 billion euros were pulled out of Greek banks in just the past three days, Barclays says that capital controls are “imminent” unless a debt deal is struck, and there are reports that preparations are being made for a “bank holiday” in Greece.  Meanwhile, Chinese stocks are absolutely crashing.  The Shanghai Composite Index was down more than 13 percent this week alone.  That was the largest one week decline since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  In the U.S., stocks aren’t crashing yet, but we just witnessed one of the largest one week outflows of capital from the bond markets that we have ever witnessed.  Slowly but surely, we are starting to see the smart money head for the exits.  As one Swedish fund manager put it recently, everyone wants “to avoid being caught on the wrong side of markets once the herd realizes stocks are over-valued“.

I don’t think that most people understand how serious things have gotten already.  In Greece, so much money has been pulled out of the banks that the European Central Bank admits that Greek banks may not be able to open on Monday

The European Central Bank told a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Thursday that it was not sure if Greek banks, which have been suffering large daily deposit outflows, would be able to open on Monday, officials with knowledge of the talks said.

Greek savers have withdrawn about 2 billion euros from banks over the past three days, with outflows accelerating rapidly since talks between the government and its creditors collapsed at the weekend, banking sources told Reuters.

All over social media, people are sharing photos of long lines at Greek ATMs as ordinary citizens rush to get their cash out of the troubled banks.  Here is one example

 

And if there is no debt deal by the end of this month, the Greek debt crisis is going to totally spin out of control and financial chaos will begin to erupt all over Europe.  But instead of trying to be reasonable, EU president Donald Tusk “has delivered an ultimatum to Greece”, and it almost appears as if EU officials are more concerned about winning a power struggle than they are about averting financial catastrophe…

EU president Donald Tusk has delivered an ultimatum to Greece, claiming the country must ‘accept an offer or default’ at an emergency summit set for Monday – in a last-ditch effort to stop the debt-stricken nation crashing out of the euro.

‘We are close to the point where the Greek government will have to choose between accepting what I believe is a good offer of continued support or to head towards default,’ Mr Tusk said today.

His comments come as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned that his country’s exit from the eurozone would trigger the collapse of the single currency.

‘The famous Grexit cannot be an option either for the Greeks or the European Union,’ he said in an Austrian newspaper interview.

‘This would be an irreversible step, it would be the beginning of the end of the eurozone.’

While all of this has been going on, the obscene stock market bubble in China has started to implode.  Just check out the following numbers from Zero Hedge

As the carnage began last night in China we noted the extreme levels of volatility the major indices had experienced in recent weeks. By the close, things were ugly with the broad Shanghai Composite down a stunning 13.3% on the week – the most since Lehman in 2008 (with Shenzhen slightly better at down 12.8% and CHINEXT down a record-breaking 14.99%).

Under normal circumstances, numbers like these would be reason for a full-blown financial panic over in Asia.  But these are not normal times.  Even with these losses, stock prices in China are still massively overinflated.  For example, USA Today is reporting that the median stock over in China is “trading at 95 times earnings”…

Margin debt in China has soared to a record $363 billion, according to Bloomberg, and the median stock in mainland China is now trading at 95 times earnings, which even tops the price-to-earnings multiple of 68 back at the 2007 peak.

That is absolutely ridiculous.  When a stock is trading at 25 or 30 times earnings it is overpriced.  So these numbers that are coming out of China are beyond crazy, and what this means is that Chinese stocks have much, much farther to fall before they get back to any semblance of reality.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. money is flowing out of bonds at a staggering pace.  The following quote originally comes from Bank of America

“High grade credit funds suffered their biggest outflow this year, and double the previous week (and also the biggest since June 2013). High yield outflows also jumped to $1.1bn, the biggest since the start of the year. However, government bond funds suffered the most amid the recent spike in volatility, with outflows surging to the highest weekly number on record ($2.7bn). This brings the total outflow from fixed income funds to almost $6bn over the last week, the highest since the Taper Tantrum and the third highest outflow ever.”

What this means is that big trouble is brewing in the bond markets.  This is something that I warned about in my previous article entitled “Experts Are Warning That The 76 Trillion Dollar Global Bond Bubble Is About To Explode“.

For the moment, U.S. stocks are doing fine.  But just about everyone can see that we in a massive financial bubble that could burst at any time.  Presidential candidate Donald Trump says that what we are witnessing is a “big fat economic and financial bubble like you’ve never seen before”

Yesterday during an interview on MSNBC, presidential candidate Donald Trump said he has some big names in mind for the Treasury secretary if he wins the White House. “I’d like guys like Jack Welch. I like guys like Henry Kravis. I’d love to bring my friend Carl Icahn.” He also opined on the economy and the stock market, admitting that the Fed has benefited people like him but that the economy and is in a “big fat economic and financial bubble like you’ve never seen before.

Ron Paul also believes that this financial bubble is going to end very badly.  Just check out what he told CNBC earlier this week

Despite record highs in the market, former Rep. Ron Paul says the Fed’s easy money policies have left stocks and bonds are on the verge of a massive collapse.

“I am utterly amazed at how the Federal Reserve can play havoc with the market,” Paul said on CNBC’s “Futures Now” referring to Thursday’s surge in stocks. The S&P 500 closed less than 1 percent off its all-time high. “I look at it as being very unstable.”

In Paul’s eyes, “the fallacy of economic planning” has created such a “horrendous bubble” in the bond market that it’s only a matter of time before the bottom falls out. And when it does, it will lead to “stock market chaos.”

Yes, this financial bubble has persisted far longer than many believed possible, but all irrational bubbles eventually burst.

And you know what they say – the bigger they come the harder they fall.

When this gigantic financial bubble finally implodes, it is going to be absolutely horrifying, and the entire planet is going to be shocked by the carnage.

The German question

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Originally published in Ron May 8, 2015

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Seventy years after the end of World War II, and twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany is once again under the grip of ‘sturm und drang’, but this time barely registered in either East or West.

Without a serious attempt at myth busting, it’s impossible to discern what could be interpreted as a new, discreet German attempt at hegemony.

Contrary to a myth currently propagated by US ‘Think Tankland’, political Berlin under Chancellor Merkel is not a mediator between a still hegemonic US and an “aggressive” Russia.

The reality is Berlin, at least for the moment, would rather give the impression of singing Washington’s tune – with minor variations – while chastising Russia. That’s the case even when we consider the solid energy/trade/business ties with Moscow, as in Germany importing a third of its natural gas, and German industry/companies/corporations hugely invested in Russia.

Contrary to a second myth, political Berlin does not seek “stability” in Europe’s eastern borderlands, but rather outright vassalage. The relentless Eastern European integration to the EU, led by Berlin, was as much a strategy to open new markets for German exports as to erect a buffer between Germany and Russia. As for the Baltic States, they are already vassals; Germany is the largest trading partner for all three.

Yet another myth is that Berlin cannot lift – counterproductive – sanctions against Moscow as long as “security” of Central and Eastern Europe is not assured. The reality is that Germany would rather exert total political/economic control over the periphery of the former USSR.

As for the EU itself, now mired in a post-democratic, un-egalitarian, austerity-ravaged toxic environment, with no discernible way out, Germany already rules, politically and economically.

Deutschland under control?
Amidst the current EU intellectual quagmire where, to quote Yeats, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” – think puny neoliberal ideologues scurrying under their sinecures in that Kafkaesque temple of mediocrity, Brussels – a modern Diogenes would be hard pressed to find an informed observer capable of seizing up Germany’s game.

Thus the glaring exception of historian and anthropologist Emmanuel Todd, author of the seminal 2002 essay After the Empire which showed no mercy in its cartography of American decline. In a long 2014 www.les-crises.fr interview, centered on Germany, Todd hits the geopolitical ball out of the park.

Todd deeply worries about the West’s dysfunction – manifested at its prime in Europe being “virtually at war with Russia”. He sees the anxious, sick West’s “fixation” on Russia as the search for a scapegoat, or better, “the creation of an enemy, necessary to maintain a minimal coherence of the West. The European Union was created against the USSR; it cannot do without Russia as an adversary.”

And yet, behind the EU, there’s the real deal; the German project, which Todd identifies as a project of power, driven “to compress demand in Germany, to enslave the debt-ridden countries of the South, to put to work the Eastern Europeans, to throw some peanuts to the French banking system.” And that project of power could not but open the ominous door to Germany’s “immense potential for political irrationality” – a theme very much prominent now with all those rehashes of the fall of the Reich.

Todd identifies what Lacan would dub the great European non-dit (“not enunciated”); “The key to the control of Europe by the United States, which is the inheritance of the victory of 1945, is the control of Germany.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet now the control is dissolving, albeit chaotically, and that means “the beginning of the dissolution of the American imperium.” And imperial decline – visible in myriad declinations – leads Todd to a bombshell; the real threat to the US, much more dangerous than Russia – “which is external to the empire” – is Germany.

And what about the threat to Russia from Germany? Todd strongly implies the populations of Russian language, culture and identity are being attacked in Eastern Ukraine with "the approval and support" of the European Union – which is a fact. At the same time, he interprets the Russian "silence" about it not "as in the French and the American case, a refusal to see reality,” but as good diplomacy; "They need time. Their self-control, their professionalism, compels admiration." Try finding this kind of analysis in CIA-infested European corporate media.

“Europe” out, Germany in
So what Todd is essentially gaming here is “the emergence of a new face-to-face between two great systems: the American continent-nation, and this new German empire, a political-economic empire which people continue to call ‘Europe’ out of habit.” And yes, he’s got a compelling case.

Using a political science concept coined by Belgian anthropologist Pierre van den Berghe, Todd qualifies the German system as “un-egalitarian domination”; whatever equality is left concerns only the dominant, as in German citizens. Welcome, then, to Herrenvolk democracy – the “democracy of the master people.”

Todd bolsters his case by pointing to the dynamism of the German economy as based in the former USSR satellites; “Part of the success of our German neighbors stems from the fact that the communists were much interested in education. They left behind them, not only obsolete industrial systems, but also populations that were remarkably well educated.”

So “annexing” the populations of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, etc, meant Germany reorganizing its industrial base using low-cost labor. But then there’s a major “if”; Todd believes Germany might also “annex” an active population of 45 million in Ukraine, “with its good level of training inherited from the Soviet period.”

Not only that’s extremely unlikely; Moscow has been explicit this is a red line. Moreover, “Ukraine” is a failed state in terminal disintegration, now a lowly, de facto, IMF colony, whose only interest for the “West” is rich agricultural land to be plundered by Monsanto and cohorts.

“He hasn’t seen Germany coming”
The fun really starts when Todd examines the mess “classical American geopoliticians of the ‘European’ tradition,” are in. He had to be talking mostly about notorious Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski; “Obsessed by Russia, he hasn’t seen Germany coming.”

Todd correctly notes how Dr. Zbig “has not seen that the American military might, by extending NATO all the way to the Baltic States, to Poland… was in fact cutting out an empire for Germany, at first economic, but at present already political.” And in parallel to what I have been examining for years now, he hints that “the extension of NATO to the East could in the end bring about a version B of Brzezinski’s nightmare: a reunification of Eurasia independently of the United States.”

The clincher is to be savored like the best Armagnac; “Faithful to his Polish origins, he feared a Eurasia under Russian control. He is now running the risk to go down in History as another one of these absurd Poles who, out of hatred of Russia, have insured the greatness of Germany.”

For the moment, political Germany – but not its industrialists – has chosen to continue to be subjugated to the US/NATO as Chancellor Merkel appears to be enforcing the encircling of Russia.

The Reichstag building, the seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag (Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Todd nailed it, Germany painstakingly organized its EU hegemony on the basis this disparate basket of nations would provide Berlin with the economy of scale to win against its main industrial competitor, the US. Yet Germany lacks energy – oil and gas. Supply from Africa and the Middle East is inherently unstable.

So this is how we come to another scenario circulating among what Bauman called “nomad elites of liquid modernity”; not think tanks or Western intel agencies.

According to this scenario, instead of a EU trying to work with Russia, we have Berlin trying to undermine Moscow to ultimately seize financial control of Russia’s immense resources; back to those good old disaster capitalism Yeltsin days, when everything was collapsing other than Russia’s natural resource production.

After all the ‘New Great Game’ is mostly about control of the natural gas, oil and resources of Russia and Central Asia. Will they be controlled by oligarch fronts supervised by their masters in London and New York, or by the Russian state? And once Russia had been subdued, then the Central Asian “stans”, especially gas republic Turkmenistan, would also be free to do Germany’s bidding.

But for the moment, it’s all shadow play. Merkel utters platitudes about the Minsk ceasefire – when every serious player knows Kiev breaks it on an everyday basis. Berlin works backstage to keep the proverbial “reluctant players” – Italy, Greece, Hungary – on board with sanctions on Russia while spinning it’s doing its best to contain hysterical Poland and Lithuania.

Merkel is very much aware the US prosecutes much of its drone war out of Germany while the BND – German intel – spies for the NSA on the French, the European Commission (EC) and even German industry.

So she will never directly antagonize Washington – as she in fact mostly fears German Atlanticists, while posing about Putin and the Kremlin living “in a different world.” Berlin and Moscow continue to talk diplomatically, but the mood tends to the tone deaf.

The new exceptionalism
Todd is one of the few who at least are setting alarm bells ringing. As in this formulation: “German culture is un-egalitarian: it makes difficult the acceptance of a world of equals. When they are feeling that they are the strongest, the Germans will take very badly the refusal of the weaker to obey, a refusal which they perceive as unnatural, unreasonable.”

Once again, we’re in the realm of exceptionalism, but now with the added, historically troubling German penchant for political irrationality. The new, remixed lebensraum may revolve around an ever-expanding export powerhouse – adding on global trade by using educated, low-cost labor. While the Reich disintegrated in a larger than life folly seventy years ago, the new deal accomplished a dream; as Todd characterizes it, there are two great “developed industrial worlds” today, America and “this new German empire.”

He sees Russia as a “secondary question” and he has not examined China’s long game; thus he’s not focused – as in my own case – on myriad moves toward Eurasia integration. But what he’s concentrating on is no less than a thriller for the ages, a “completely different future for the twenty years to come, other than the East-West conflict;” Germany rising – and the US and Germany inevitably clashing, all over again. History may yet repeat itself as (lethal) farce after all.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Why NATO Is Terrified of Russia

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Originally published in RT on May 1, 2015

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The twin-pronged attack – oil price war/raid on the ruble – aimed at destroying the Russian economy and place it into a form of Western natural resource vassalage has failed.

Natural resources were also essentially the reason for reducing Iran to a Western vassalage. That never had anything to do with Tehran developing a nuclear weapon, which was banned by both the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The ‘New Great Game’ in Eurasia was always about control of the Eurasian land mass. Minor setbacks to the American elite project do not mean the game will be restricted to a mere “war of attrition”. Rather the contrary.

All about PGS

In Ukraine, the Kremlin has been more than explicit there are two definitive red lines. Ukraine won’t join NATO. And Moscow won’t allow the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk to be crushed.

We are coming closer to a potentially explosive deadline – when EU sanctions expire in July. An EU in turmoil but still enslaved to NATO – see the pathetic “Dragoon Ride” convoy from the Baltics to Poland or the “Atlantic Resolve” NATO show-off exercise – may decide to expand them, and even try to exclude Russia from SWIFT.

Only fools believe Washington is going to risk American lives over Ukraine or even Poland. Yet let’s plan a few steps ahead. If it ever comes to the unthinkable – a war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine – Russian defense circles are sure of conventional and nuclear superiority on sea and land. And the Pentagon knows it. Russia would reduce NATO forces to smithereens in a matter of hours. And then would come Washington’s stark choice: accept ignominious defeat or escalate to tactical nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon knows that Russia has the air and missile defense capabilities to counter anything embedded in the US Prompt Global Strike (PGS). Simultaneously though, Moscow is saying it would rather not use these capabilities.

Major General Kirill Makarov, Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces’ deputy chief, has been very clear about the PGS threat. Moscow’s December 2014 new military doctrine qualifies PGS as well as NATO’s current military buildup as the top two security threats to Russia.

Unlike non-stop Pentagon/NATO bragging/demonizing, what Russian defense circles don’t need to advertise is how they are now a couple of generations ahead of the US in their advanced weaponry.

The bottom line is that while the Pentagon was mired in the Afghanistan and Iraq quagmires, they completely missed Russia’s technological jump ahead. The same applies to China’s ability to hit US satellites and thus pulverize American ICBM satellite guidance systems.

The current privileged scenario is Russia playing for time until it has totally sealed Russia’s air space to American ICBMs, stealth aircraft and cruise missiles – via the S-500 system.

This has not escaped the attention of the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) – as it gamed sometime ago whether Washington might launch a first strike against Russia.According to the JIC, Washington might go rogue if “a) an extreme government were to take over in the United States, b) and there was increased lack of confidence by the United States in some if not all of her Western allies owing to political developments in their countries, c) and there was some sudden advance in the USA in the sphere of weapons, etc. that the counsels of impatience may get the upper hand.”

US ‘Think Tankland’ spinning that Russian military planners should take advantage of their superiority to launch a first strike nuclear attack against the US is bogus; the Russian doctrine is eminently defensive.

Yet that does not exclude Washington doing the unthinkable the next time the Pentagon thinks of itself to be in the position Russia is now in.

SWIFT changes

The whole game used to be about who ruled the waves – the geopolitical gift the US inherited from Great Britain. Control of the seas meant the US inheriting five empires; Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands. All those massive US carrier task forces patrolling the oceans to guarantee “free trade” – as the hegemonic propaganda machine goes – could be turned against China in a flash. It’s a mechanism similar to the carefully choreographed “leading from behind” financial op to simultaneously crash the ruble/launch an oil war and thus smash Russia into submission.

Washington’s master plan remains deceptively simple; to “neutralize” China by Japan, and Russia by Germany, with the US backing its two anchors, Germany and Japan. Russia is the de facto only BRICS nation blocking the master plan.

This was the case until Beijing launched the New Silk Road(s), which essentially mean the linking of all Eurasia into a “win-win” trade/commerce bonanza on high-speed rail, and in the process diverting freight tonnage overland and away from the seas.

So NATO’s non-stop Russia demonizing is in fact quaint. Think about NATO picking a fight against the constantly evolving, complex Russia-China strategic partnership. And in a not so remote future, as I indicated here, Germany, Russia and China have what it takes to be the essential pillars of a fully integrated Eurasia.

As it stands, the key shadow play is Moscow and Beijing silently preparing their own SWIFT system while Russia prepares to seal its air space with S-500s. Western Ukraine is doomed; leave it to the austerity-ravaged EU – which, by the way, doesn’t want it. And all this while the same EU tries to handicap the US commercially with a rigged euro that still doesn’t allow it to penetrate more US markets.

As for an irrelevant NATO, all it can do is cry, cry, cry.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Where have all the Eurotrash Gone?

Off the keyboard of RE

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 21, 2015

Discuss this article at the Conspiracy Table inside the Diner

Strange things are happening on the Diner.

 

From what I can determine so far based on observation of the stats over the last couple of days, we have been CUT OFF from just about all the Eurotrash Diners other than the Kraut and Dutch Boy Bots.  Occassional hits from the UK and sporadic hits from other countries, but nowhere near the norm.

Similar with South America and Africa.

Something is definitely going on here.

RE

Diner-Map-Europe

Diner Europe Visits April 2015

Roughly 3 days ago, Europe LITERALLY dropped off the Diner Map. On the right is a map of Visits from Eurotrashland we had through the first couple of weeks of April.

As you can see, there are hundreds of Diner Dots, and many of those Dots represent multiple visits from a 39 sq-km radius. Just from the French, Germans and Italians we had a couple of thousand visits in 2 weeks. To get there, you need to be hitting on the pages at least 100 times a day.

All of a SUDDEN though, about 3 days ago just about all traffic from Eurotrashland came to a screaching HALT. I know this because I am online these days nearly 24/7, and have my stats pages open all the time. The Diner Dots just about never flash in Europe now, though they still flash in North America and Oz and NZ.

Stat_Dropoff2Simultaneous with this on the Revolver stats, the Google Analytics stats took a NOSEDIVE. So this isn’t a simply a Revolver problem.

What happened here? I can’t imagine that all of a sudden all the Diners sprinkled around Europe decided simultaneously to stop visiting the Diner. That makes no statistical sense whatsoever.

The only explanation I can come up with is that the Diner is being Filtered and Censored in the European market. Why that would be so I have no idea.

If there are any Eurotrash reading the Forum here, if you would check in at least as a Guest to let us know if the Diner is visible to you, I would appreciate it.  Either in the commentary below on WordPress or on the Diner Forum.

The Global Diners

I do believe the time is drawing nearer where the Diner will no longer be accessible on the World Wide Web. 🙁

I will keep watching the stats, and hopefully this is just some sort of glitch and will be rectified by the techies running the global routers. So far though, just a few Bots seem to be making it through from Europe.

RE

Bomb Iran? Not now: bomb Yemen

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Originally published in RT on April 9, 2015


‘Operation Decisive Storm’ – the Pentagon-style House of Saud glorifying of its ghastly ‘Bomb Yemen’ show – could be summed up in a single paragraph.

The wealthiest Arab nation – the House of Saud petro-hacienda – supported by other GCC petro-rackets and also the wealthy “West”, has launched an – illegal – bombing/war/kinetic operation against the poorest Arab nation in the name of “democracy.”

And this absurdity is just the beginning.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, the innocuous as a stale cannoli Federica Mogherini, seems to be mildly alarmed. She remarked that Saudi bombing of hospitals and “deliberate targeting and destruction of private homes, education facilities and basic infrastructure cannot be tolerated.”

Well, the EU tolerates exactly the same thing in Donbass perpetrated by Kiev’s goons – so nothing will come out La Mogherini’s feigned outrage.

The Red Cross and the Russian Federation, for their part, at least are demanding a temporary ceasefire to allow for humanitarian relief. Humanitarian relief is incompatible with the House of Saud’s bloodline. So after two weeks of Saudi ‘Shock and Awe’, the current toll of at least 560 Yemeni civilians dead (and counting), and 1700 wounded – dozens of them children – is bound to increase.

Bab-el-Mandeb me, baby

Bomb Iran? Not now; the new normal is bomb Yemen. But still bomb Iran might be back in a flash. Pentagon supremo Ash Carter confirmed last week “all options are on the table” even if an Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal is finally reached in June. So, for the record, the Pentagon is affirming nuclear negotiations are just white noise unable to deter the tantalizing prospect of yet another nice little Middle East war.

Needless to add, the so civilized ‘West’ didn’t even flinch when “our bastards” the House of Saud invaded and started shockin’ an’awin’ dirt-poor Yemen. No UN Security Council resolution. Not even a mandate from the totally discredited Arab League. Who cares? After all the ‘Empire of Chaos’ has done the same over and over again with total impunity.

Much hysteria has been raging on whether the Houthis are about to take control of the Bab-el-Mandeb – one of the key strategic global energy chokepoints along with the Straits of Hormuz, and as crucial as the Suez Canal. Nonsense. Whatever the House of Saud does, the not so hidden ‘Empire of Chaos’ agenda is never to lose control of the Bab-el-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands.

A man reacts as he inspects the damage of a building caused by an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

A man reacts as he inspects the damage of a building caused by an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

This is part of what we could dub ‘Chokepointistan’; wars taking place near or around energy bottlenecks, and always narrated in Global War on Terror (GWOT) deceitful terminology. US Think Tankland is more straightforward, carefully following US naval deployments. That’s what this is all about; an Orwellian “freedom of navigation” masquerading a hardcore strategy of shutting out the geopolitical enemy – be it Iran, Russia, China or all of the above.

‘Chokepointistan’ is all over the place: just watch the war or pre-positioning action in the Bab-el-Mandeb (with spillover effects from Yemen to Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti); the Straits of Hormuz (all about Iran); but also the strait of Malacca (all about China), Panama (about Venezuela), the coming Nicaragua canal (about China), the Korean Strait, the Taiwan Strait, the Kuril Islands, and last but not least the Baltic Sea.

A Grand Armada Run Amok

Saudi intel knows the Houthis can’t possibly control the Bab-el-Mandeb – not to mention Washington would never allow it. What freaks the Saudis out is that the Houthi rebellion in Yemen – supported by Tehran – may encourage bright rebellion ideas among the Shi’ite majority in the eastern provinces in Saudi Arabia, where most of the oil is.

And this where the Saudi excuse for war interfaces with the empire’s paranoia of preventing Iran, Russia and/or China from establishing a possible strategic presence in Yemen, at the Bab-el-Mandeb, overlooking the Gulf of Aden.

So we have once again Pentagon supremo Carter insisting, “The United States supports Arab plans to create a unified military force to counter growing security threats in the Middle East, and the Pentagon will cooperate with it where US and Arab interests coincide.” Translation: we gave the green light for our bastards to maintain “stability” in the Middle East.

Yet there’s a spanner in the works; the possible Washington-Tehran rapprochement, assuming a nuclear deal is reached. For the self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration, the nuclear deal will be their only foreign policy success. Moreover, without Tehran there’s no meaningful fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in “Syraq”.

None of this mollifies the cosmically paranoid Saudis, who assembled in a flash a Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) – 100 jet fighters, 150,000 soldiers – respectfully described by US Think Tankland as a “coalition” of 10 countries. Without even blinking at UN norms, the Saudis instantly declared the whole of Yemen as a no-fly zone.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

And along with routine bombing of residential complexes, the al-Mazraq camp for the internally displaced in Hajjah, a dairy factory near Hodeida, and other instances, came, what else, hardcore internal Saudi repression, via a crackdown with tanks and indiscriminate shooting in Awamiyah, in the eastern provinces; Shi’ites there can’t even think of organizing protests against the bloodbath in Yemen.

In a nutshell, this is the immensely wealthy, corrupt, medieval Saudi regime busy at war against their own people. The usual hard-line Wahhabi imams are busy working up anti-Shi’ite and anti-Iranian fever everywhere; these are all “apostates” under the takfir doctrine, and Iranians are lowly “Safawis” – a quite pejorative reference to the 16th century Safavid dynasty. It’s crucial to remember that Islamic State treats Shi’tes and Iranians the exact same way. But forget about any of this being reported by Western corporate media.

The General and the Sheikh

The House of Saud insists it wants to reinstall the government-in-exile of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. Or, as Saudi Ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir glowingly put it, “protect the legitimate government of the country.”

Royally paid Saudi lobby hagiographers are once again frantically spinning the Sunni versus Shi’ite sectarian narrative – which totally ignores the mind-boggling tribal/class complexity of Yemeni society. In a nutshell, this laughable Saudi defense of democracy is paving the way for a ground war; a long, bloody and horribly expensive ground war.

And it gets, as expected, even more absurd. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was recently asked during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing whether he knew of “any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL.” His response: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.”

Translation: the US government not only does not sanction or punish these “allies” (the real fun is to sanction Russia) but showers with logistical and “non-lethal” support the “coalition” that is arguably fighting the same Islamic State they are funding. No one is making this up; this is how the endless war on terra remains the gift that keeps on giving.

It gets even curioser and curioser when we have Dempsey on the same page of Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah. In this crucial speech, Sheikh Nasrallah offers the most extensive and precise account of the origins and ideology of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And here he expands on Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

So what we have is the ‘Empire of Chaos’ ‘leading from behind’ in the war on Yemen and also de facto ‘leading from behind’ in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; the ones doing the heavy lifting are Iraqi militias supported by Tehran. The hidden agenda is always – what else –chaos; be it across “Syraq” or inside Yemen. With an extra bonus; while Washington is engaged on striking a nuclear deal with Tehran, it also turbo-charges an alliance against Tehran using the House of Saud.

Vietnam in the desert

The House of Saud badly wants Pakistan to take no prisoners, supplying bomber jets, ships and lots of ground troops for their war. Riyadh treats Islamabad as a vassal state. A joint session of the Pakistani Parliament will decide what to do.

It’s quite revealing to learn what happened when Pakistan’s most popular private TV channel assembled representatives of all major political parties to explain where they stand. Soon they reached a consensus; Pakistan should be neutral; act as mediator; and commit no troops, unless there was a “tangible threat” to the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, which is far from the case.

The House of Saud remains on overdrive, showering tons of cash over Salafi and Deobandi preachers to bullhorn their war; that includes a delegation of ulema visiting Riyadh. Support has already duly poured from Pakistan-based hardcore groups that trained with al-Qaeda and fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan; after all they are all funded by Wahhabi fanatics.

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a protest against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a protest against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Meanwhile, in the front lines, a real game-changer may be ahead, with the Houthis already firing missiles across the border at Saudi oil installations. Then all bets are off – and the possibility that long-range missiles have been pre-positioned becomes quite credible.

That scenario would mean a foreign intel agency luring the House of Saud into its own Vietnam quagmire in Yemen, setting them up for a barrage of missiles hitting their pumping stations and oil fields, with catastrophic consequences for the global economy. It’s crucial to remember that the Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) assembled by Riyadh happens to account for no less than 32% of global oil production. This cannot possibly end well.

Everyone in Yemen has an AK-47, not to mention RPGs and hand grenades. The terrain is guerrilla heaven. History spells out at least 2,000 years of hardened tribes fighting foreign invaders. Most Yemenis hate the House of Saud with a vengeance; a majority follows what the Houthis announced in late February, that the House of Saud and the US were planning to devastate Yemen.

The Houthi rebellion includes both Sunnis and Shi’ites – thus totally debunking the Saudi narrative. When they captured the Yemeni National Security Bureau, which was basically a CIA station, the Houthis found a wealth of secret documents that “compromised” Washington’s Yemeni chapter of the war on terra. As for the Saudi Army, it’s a joke. Besides, it employs a huge contingent of – you guessed it – Yemeni soldiers.

“Operation Decisive Storm” – yet another Pentagon-style illegal war – has already plunged Yemen into the twin plagues of civil war and humanitarian disaster. The remains of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and most of all ISIS/ISIL/Daesh (who hate the Houthis and all Shi’ites with a vengeance) couldn’t be happier. The ‘Empire of Chaos’ couldn’t give a damn; the more widespread the chaos, the better for the Pentagon-defined Long War (on terra).

Over five years ago I wrote that Yemen is the new Waziristan. Now it’s also heading towards the new Somalia. And soon it may become the House of Saud’s Vietnam.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Accidents Waiting to Happen

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on the The Slog on March 25, 2015

slogging-through-mud

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

CRASH2 – A GLOBAL SUMMARY: #1 The United States.

Why fiscally, financially and economically, America is an accident waiting to happen.

The American ‘recovery’ that seems always to be round the corner just disappeared around another corner as 2015 Q1 draws to and end. Estimates for GDP growth have been halved (from 0.6% to 0.3%) and investment in new business premises cut by a third…from -13.3% to -19.6%. Or put another way, growth is stalling again, and 50% more ‘not expanding’ has occurred than initially thought.

So yet again, we see a ‘result’ – the soaring value of the $US – that bears no relationship at all to a very sick US economy. And still jobless numbers come in to suggest that the unemployment rate is down again at 5.5%. That doesn’t compute either….especially with the country still edging down towards deflation. The Fed’s view now is, on balance, that unemployment will stop falling “pretty soon”. My simpler view is that the figures disguise the real situation.

Janet Yellen is bit by bit dampening expectations of significant rate rises, but she’s kicking at an open door: the market bets on rate futures show that investors don’t believe the Fed can pull it off either. But the optimistic “sometime between June and September” timing remains in place. Carefully chosen euphemisms abound: “the central bank will have a tougher time nudging longer-term rates up. That would complicate efforts to return the economy to a normal footing.”

A huge proportion of the ageing, privately investing sector in the States has now been staring down the barrel of Zirp for six years. With uncertain or zero returns on commodities, bonds and gold – and near nought per cent deposit rates – the more lunatic banking firms and funds are already including dodgy “investments” in packaged portfolios: these include African currencies (always a favourite), third world stock markets, and speculative south American mining gambles. Already, regulators are calling for enhanced monitoring of Totally Madcap Syndrome in financial firms operating outside of the traditional safety net available to deposit-taking banks.

But it is inevitable that – when all income forms have been manipulated away for the Silvers – their investment managers will take on more risk in their frantic search for some level of worthwhile return.

“We are wandering into uncharted territory that’s subject to uncertainty and mistakes,” said Erik Weisman, a Boston-based money manager at MFS Investment Management, which oversees $430 billion globally.

Uncle Ben the former central banker, however, seems relaxed. Or sedated, you can never tell with Bernanke. He reassured everyone before last weekend that new regulations may act to make the next crisis much more containable than the last. The rest of us are left wondering exactly what these new regulations are, and why a stronger verb than “may” isn’t available.

Behind the words are the real meanings: without QE, the US economy splutters, and South American economies remain likely to tank. With rate rises looking less of a cert, risk is on the increase. The investment numbers and growth data show that the current US bourse levels are completely without foundation. Strong Dollar or not, the deficit is still going up. Fiscally, financially and economically, America is an accident waiting to happen.

CRASH2 – A GLOBAL SUMMARY #2: The eurozone….it’s still running, but nobody knows how to stitch the head back on.

The usual “Harken not unto what they say but rather watch what’s happening” caveat emptor applies when it comes to the eurozone.

Two immediate examples. First, the Bundesbank is forecasting an acceleration in German growth. The German economy experienced “strong expansion at the end of 2014”, Germany’s central bank said two days ago. Herr Weidemann also foresaw “a continuation of the vigorous economic ascent” in the second quarter of the year. The main drivers of this he averred, are foreign demand, private consumption and, to a lesser extent, construction.

Stripe me, those are eccentric reasons for growth. But neither domestic consumption nor construction reduce deficits. Germany does export first class engineering (from cars to tools via aircraft, watches and oil refinement hardware) but more independent sources like World’s Top Exports disagree with the central bank:

‘German export sales at the product category level were flat’

….as does Reuters…

‘German exports fell by the largest amount in five months in January, dropping more than forecast’

….and Canada’s Globe & Mail…

‘Seasonally adjusted exports decreased by 2.1 per cent on the month [of January] after a sharp rise in December, data from the statistics office showed. They missed the Reuters consensus forecast for a 1.5-per-cent drop and undershot even the lowest estimate for a 2-per-cent decline.’

….and Defense News…..

Germany’s [arms] exports fell by 43%’

It’s always good to remember that most official data these days are issued within a context…and with an agenda in mind. The euro itself is obeying this reality at the moment.

As the capital flight from the eurozone has increased of late, so too has the unwillingness of the ECB to tell us anything about it. But the reality I get from a combination of personal sources, the FT and the Wall Street Journal is that liquidity in the region is worsening at a frightening pace…and the non-agreement about anything beyond staying for dinner in Berlin last Monday if anything has made things worse.

And yet, and yet….the euro is trading at 1.36 to Sterling today. Clearly, the ECB is buying it massively in order to give out a sense of stability. But that stability is a myth: I’ll give it at most a week before another Greco-EU spat breaks out. Meanwhile, the Dollar is now up to 91% of the euro’s value. Mario will be a very happy man: his plan for a Eurodollar va bene. Richard Barley writes in the WSJ’s Heard on the Street column that the ECB “is finding it trickier to get a grip on purchases of asset-backed securities. The ECB’s efforts to revitalize Europe’s securitization market are falling short of its rhetoric.”

In the same vein, we hear the avowedly corrupt Mariano Rajoy boasting of a Spanish recovery, but the stats simply do not back him up: Spain is full to the brim with abandoned construction sites – and the airports built during the boom years offer testimony to just how wrong governments got it…and how Trichet’s ECB ignored the issue until it was far too late. Out of Spain’s 46 publicly managed airports, only 8 are making a profit.

At airports like those in Burgos, Sabadell and Albacete, the terminals are deserted, and the luggage immobile for weeks on end.

Huesca-Pirineos Airport cost €65 million, and gets just 2,781 of the predicted 160,000 passengers for the year. Commercial flights have now stopped operating through it. Ciudad Real cost Spain €1.1 billion to build, and was project to carry 2 million passengers a year. It hasn’t hosted a commercial flight since 2012. The entrance to the airport of Castellón — a €175 million project also with no commercial passengers for three years — is dominated by an 80-foot statue representing the Province’s president, Carlos Fabra. Fabra is serving a four-year prison sentence for tax fraud.

This is the eurozone disaster of falsehood, pay-offs and crazy infrastructural spending that lies at the core of the European Union so eagerly supported by Britain’s two largest Parties. It is a headless chicken running about pretending that the prognosis is good. The prognosis is death, and it is time UK voters woke up to the fact.

Pi Day Circle Jerks & Soap Operas

logopodcastOff the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on March 17, 2015

happy-pi-day1

Discuss this Rant at the Podcast Table inside the Diner

You Fucked Up!  You TRUSTED US!

A Potpourri of Ranting on the Student Loan Debt Bubble, Brazilian Collapse Issues, Saber Rattling in Europe,  Austrian Banking Collapse Contagion and Topping off the Pi with some Greek Feta Cheese!

Snippet:

…Sadly of course, the Jig is Up on this, and not only are there not sufficient jobs for the recent FSoA Kollege Grads at a high enough pay rate to service their debts, neither are there even enough jobz for the Indian IT grads to make a living at 25% of the pay rate in the FSoA EITHER.

BUT, because there are no decent jobs out there for recent HS grads, EVERYBODY goes to Kollege to study SOMETHING, and Da Goobermint guarantees the loans they take out to do that. The fact that upon graduation at least 1/3rd of this population can’t pay off the gobs of money they borrowed to do it has become a huge stinking mess of a problem now, getting exponentially larger by the day.

Said Loans to these students are not collateralized in any way, and you can’t Repo an education out of somebody’s brain, even if there was any value in doing that. So now you have $1.3T in debt here, a MINIMUM of 1/3rd of which just is not gonna get paid off, no way no how, and a HUGE population of people who face Debt Slavery for the rest of their lives because laws were ALSO passed to make student loans non-discharchable in a Bankruptcy. A typical Fracking Company can go BK and the managers and Geochemists who got salaries paid on the debt issued to them can walk away scot free, but if you took out a loan to study IT networks at the Devry Institute, you cannot go BK, EVAH! You made a mistake, you fucked up, you BELIEVED the lies that were sold to you this would continue in perpetuity, so suck it up and take your punishment!…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

Now, back to our regularly schedule Soap Opera…

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While trying to get to the bottom of the underlying reasons for geopolitical events has always been [...]

Feeling in a bit of a masochistic mood a couple of Saturdays ago I decided to take a stroll over to [...]

Vandalised with permission of Two Birds Film,which I suppose means it's not quite vandalised Th [...]

One must always remember not to play with their food – or their or anybody else's pee – lest th [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

Mount Pleasant"The problem is not our understanding of the science or the efficacy of our potential solutions [...]

The Orphaned Solution"By combining compost with biochar, or feeding biochar to those herds of migrating herbivores, [...]

Viral Conspiracies"Now that President Trump has brought fake news out into the open, is it safe to call bullshit [...]

Fake News: The Russian Hacker Story"If you can't maintain the dominant paradigm, at least you can subvert the emergent ones. [...]

Three Pillars"By pushing the system beyond the brink, the status quo protectors have now put it into free fa [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

Click here to visit Sustaining Universal Needs’ YouTube Channel! [...]

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post. [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Democracy and politics would be messy business even if all participants were saints. But America doe [...]

A new book argues that, in order to survive climate change and peak oil, the global money economy ne [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

That politician that responded to Hansen, said, "I don't believe it would be game over. [...]

Glenn is knowledgeable about some pieces of the problem. Give him a chance to learn some more. It ma [...]

The gap between plateauing crude supply and burgeoning world demand is being increasingly filled by [...]

Not within the next year necessarily --- but almost certainly within a year of the end of BAU. [...]

@creedon - can't disagree about small scale organic farming especially if it is done with some [...]

Ellenanderson; we need growth like this: http://peakoil.com/consumption/un-report-says-small-scale-o [...]

@Creedon- I see that shortonoil is posting on that site and has a couple of interesting comments. I [...]

Usually, the biggest things are the hardest to see. We get hung up in the details and the blank spac [...]

http://peakoil.com/publicpolicy/donald-trump-saudi-arabia-and-the-petrodollar Who knows what events [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

Kenya’s water abstraction must meet the projected growth in municipal and irrigation demand by the e [...]

This study focuses on the land use change and climatic variability assessment around Kamala watershe [...]

The intensity of precipitation is expected to increase in response to climate change, but the region [...]

Precipitation is still one of the most complex climate variables to observe, to understand, and to h [...]