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At least they didn't have Mickey Ds and GMO Doritos.


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Nuke Puke / ☢️ A nuclear waste dump for eternity
« on: Today at 12:19:44 AM »
Bury it and Forget it. The Ron Popeil solution to Nuke Puke.  ::)


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What ISN'T bad about them?  You need to be a scientist and do a study to figure this one out? ???

This sentence just kills me:

"Still, following that advice can be hard, especially if for people with limited time and money to spend on food"

BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT!  I demonstrate all the time on the SNAP Card Gourmet how you can eat nutritious and cheap, all from easily available food at your local Food Superstore.  It doesn't take all that long to fix up either, unless you wanna get super gourmet.

OK, forget it.  Go buy a Family Size bag of Doritos and vote for Donalditry Trumpovetsky.  The sooner you die from heart disease, the better.

Which brings up an interesting Scientific Study that should be undertaken.  Are Repugnants on average FATTER than Demodopes?  I will bet YES on this important question.


What’s So Bad About Processed Foods? Scientists Offer Clues

Chips, soda and frozen pizzas tend to be full of salt, sugar and fat, but now scientists are trying to understand if there’s something else about such processed foods that might be bad for us.
Associated Press

    Published 14 June 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — Chips, soda and frozen pizzas tend to be full of salt, sugar and fat, but now scientists are trying to understand if there’s something else about such processed foods that might be bad for us.

Already, the spread of cheap, packaged foods has been linked to rising obesity rates around the world. Yet advice to limit processed foods can seem unhelpful, given how convenient they are and the growing array of products that fall into the category.

While three recent studies offer more clues on how our increasingly industrialized food supply may be affecting our health, they also underscore how difficult nutrition science and advice can be. Here’s what they say.


Whether it’s curing, freezing, milling or pasteurization, nearly all foods undergo some type of processing. Even though processing itself doesn’t automatically make food unhealthy, “processed foods” is generally a negative term.

To more precisely identify the processed foods of most concern, scientists came up with a system that groups foods into four categories. It’s far from perfect, but the system says highly processed foods are made mostly of industrialized ingredients and additives, with little to no intact whole foods.

Sodas, packaged cookies, instant noodles and chicken nuggets are some examples of highly processed foods. But also included are products that can seem wholesome, like breakfast cereals, energy bars and some yogurts.


Cheap packaged foods are everywhere including checkout lines, gas stations and vending machines, and a very small four-week clinical trial might deepen our understanding of why that’s likely fueling obesity rates.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found people ate an average of 500 extra calories a day when fed mostly processed foods, compared with when the same people were fed minimally processed foods. That’s even though researchers tried to match the meals for nutrients like fat, fiber and sugar.

The 20 participants were allowed to eat as much or as little as they wanted, and were checked into a clinic so their health and behavior could be monitored.

That’s not all the bad news.

In another study based on questionnaires, researchers in France found people who ate more processed foods were more likely to have heart disease. A similar study in Spain found eating more processed foods was linked to a higher risk of death in general.


Beyond the fact they taste really good, there might other reasons why it’s so hard to stop eating foods like cheese puffs and ice cream.

When fed minimally processed foods, people in the clinical trial produced more of a hormone that suppresses appetite, and less of a hormone that causes hunger. The reason for the biological reaction isn’t clear. Another finding: People ate processed foods faster.

“Those foods tend to be softer and easier to chew and swallow,” said Kevin Hall, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health who led the study.

Hall noted the source of nutrients might make a difference. Fibers from whole fruits and vegetables, for instance, may be better for making people feel full than the types of fiber added to packaged foods such as cookies, yogurt and even soda.

For the French study, author Mathilde Touvier also noted the largely unexamined effects of the “cocktail” of additives used to make the various processed foods we eat.

All three studies come with big caveats. The U.S. study was tiny and individual behavior varied widely: Some ate about the same amount of calories on both diets, and others ate far more on the processed diet.

Meals in the two diets were rated as being similarly pleasant, but Hall noted it’s possible participants were saying what they thought they should. The processed food diet included foods like salted nuts and whole milk, compared with unsalted nuts and lower-fat milk for the unprocessed diet.

With the French and Spanish studies, there could be other habits and environmental factors that explain the differences in health risks. The studies also didn’t reflect the broader population. In the Spanish study, participants were college graduates and relatively younger. And though processed food was tied to a greater risk of death, the total number of deaths was still relatively small.


Even without the latest studies, advice to limit processed foods probably makes sense to most people. Minimally processed foods tend to be richer in nutrients and more difficult to overeat, since they’re not as widely available and convenient.

Still, following that advice can be hard, especially if for people with limited time and money to spend on food.

“What frustrates me is when the message is, ‘Change the way you eat,’ without thinking about why people eat the way they eat,” said Sarah Bowen, a professor who studies food and inequality at North Carolina State University.

Another challenge is the broad spectrum of processed foods, and distinguishing which ones might be better or worse as companies continually re-engineer products to make them seem more wholesome. So while the newest studies may give us more reasons to avoid industrialized foods, they also underscore the difficulty of coming up with solutions.

Geopolitics / 📺 Crisis in Sudan
« on: June 15, 2019, 07:03:52 AM »
Monsta & I discussed this on the RE & Monsta Mash.  If you haven't viewed it yet, this would be a good time to catch up.


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youtube-Logo-4gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard, microphone & camera of RE & Lucid Dreams

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook

Published on The Doomstead Diner June 14, 2019

Discuss this article at the Diner Anniversary Table inside the Diner

Image result for druid festival We had our last Celebration and Feast back in February, for the 7th Anniversary of covering the Collapse of Industrial Civilization here on the Doomstead Diner. We are OVERDUE for another celebration!

The Summer Solstice is a traditional time for celebrations, particularly amongst the pagan cultures of the Middle Ages.. Since if we don't go Extinct we look likely to be living in a pre-Industrial stlye culture, now seems like a good time to be resurrecting and practicing these traditions again.

For this feast, the Main Menu which I am cooking up is a Prix Fixe menu, no choices there but it's FREE! 🙂 That's because you just get to look at it, you don't actually get to EAT it unless you follow the recipes at home and cook it up for yourself. The recipes though are a great value, no paywall and no ads either!

Since the Solstice falls on a Friday (at least on this side of the Dateline) and we traditionally eat Fish on Fridays here on the Diner our Main Course will be a Fish Dish. For this I chose my favorite Swimming Fish (as opposed to Shellfish), Alaska Salmon! 🙂 Nice fresh CoHo Salmon I got ON SALE at 3 Bears for $9.99/lb. The preparation for this one is Grilled Mediterranean Salmon, on a new Bugout Cooking apparatus I picked up, also ON SALE at 3 Bears.

Image result for druid festival Our Starter for the Feast is Cream of Wild Mushroom & Garlic Soup, with lots of Garlic to fend off the Zombies. A hearty and filling soup full of lots of FAT, it's really a meal in itself most of the time, just maybe with a little Garlic Bread to dip in it. This is a FEAST though, and you are supposed to conspicuously consume food and overeat at all feasts. We are unlikely to be able to do this after SHTF Day arrives, so stuff your pie hole now while you still can and the cornucopia is still on the shelves at the Food Superstores.

For the Side Dish, we are having an Asparagus & Mushroom Casserole, my favorite Veggie and of course Fungi are a real favorite of mine along with garlic, so you see it twice in the Prix Fixe menu.

Diners and Guests are welcome to bring their own dishes to the Feast to enjoy a Potlach style celbration of the Gift Economy, where we all share our favorite foods together. It can be your own recipe or just a favorite from restaurants or what Granma made when you were a kid, and you don't have to do a Video either although a Food Porn Pic would be good. You can also bring your favorite Wine, Beer or Spirits, as well as Medicinal Plants. Another Fungi variety, Magic Mushrooms are a good choice here. 🙂

The Celebration will be ongoing all week inside the Diner on the Diner Anniversary Party Board, and all are welcome to attend, you don't need to be a regular patron of the Diner to enjoy the meal with us. We can all discuss Collapse while enjoying dinner, and hopefully not too many fights will break out over the dinner table this week. lol.

See you at the Festival!

Economics / 👴🏻 The Death Throes of Social Security
« on: June 13, 2019, 12:26:21 AM »
I planned my birthdate well.  I'll easily be dead in 15 years.  However, I could also easily withstand a 20% cut in my bennies.  The big advantage of keeping your fixed expensive very low.  Particularly since that also would drive a deflationary spiral and prices would have to drop.


Social Security Is Staring at Its First Real Shortfall in Decades. Big Cuts Could Follow.

President Ronald Reagan signing 1983 legislation that he negotiated with the House’s top Democrat, Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., behind his left shoulder, to preserve Social Security. Credit Getty Images

By Jeff Sommer

    June 12, 2019

A slow-moving crisis is approaching for Social Security, threatening to undermine a central pillar in the retirement of tens of millions of Americans.

Next year, for the first time since 1982, the program must start drawing down its assets in order to pay retirees all of the benefits they have been promised, according to the latest government projections.

Unless a political solution is reached, Social Security’s so-called trust funds are expected to be depleted within about 15 years. Then, something that has been unimaginable for decades would be required under current law: Benefit checks for retirees would be cut by about 20 percent across the board.

“Old people not getting the Social Security checks they have been promised? That has been unthinkable in America — and I don’t think it will really happen in the end this time, because it’s just too horrible,” said Alicia Munnell, the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. “But action has to be taken to prevent it.”

While the issue is certain to be politically contentious, it is barely being talked about in Washington and at 2020 campaign events. The last time Social Security faced a crisis of this kind, in the early 1980s, a high-level bipartisan effort was needed to keep retirees’ checks whole. Since that episode, the program has often been called “the third rail of American politics” — an entitlement too dangerous to touch — and it’s possible that another compromise could be reached in the current era.

Benefit cuts would be devastating for about half of retired Americans, who rely on Social Security for most of their retirement income. A survey released in May by the Federal Reserve found that a quarter of working Americans had saved nothing for retirement.

The shrinking of Social Security’s assets expected in 2020 would mark a significant change in the program’s cash flow, one that could complicate Americans’ retirement planning — even for the many relatively affluent citizens for whom Social Security is still a major source of income in old age.

“Fifteen years is really just around the corner for people planning their retirements,” said John B. Shoven, a Stanford economist who is also affiliated with the Hoover Institution and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“The cuts that are being projected would be terrible for a lot of people,” he said. “This needn’t happen and it shouldn’t happen, but we’ve known about these problems for a long time and they haven’t been solved. They’re getting closer.”
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Social Security has a long-known basic math problem: more money will be going out than coming in. Roughly 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day, with insufficient numbers of younger people entering the work force to pay into the system and support them.

And life expectancy is increasing. By 2035, Social Security estimates, the number of Americans 65 or older will increase to more than 79 million, from about 49 million now. If the program has not been repaired, they will encounter a much poorer Social Security than the one seniors rely on today.
Representative John Larson and Senator Richard Blumenthal discussing their Social Security legislation at a senior center in Bristol, Connecticut.CreditMonica Jorge for The New York Times
Representative John Larson and Senator Richard Blumenthal discussing their Social Security legislation at a senior center in Bristol, Connecticut.CreditMonica Jorge for The New York Times
How cuts would affect a typical person

Under current law, cuts would start in 2034, when the main trust fund is expected to be depleted, or in 2035, if Congress authorizes Social Security to pay old-age benefits through the Disability Insurance Trust Fund.

Consider a woman with average annual earnings of $51,795 (in current dollars) over the course of her career, who retires at age 67 in 2037. The latest Social Security study indicates that she will be entitled to $27,366 in inflation-adjusted benefits. But if the trust fund shortfall has not been remedied, Social Security would be permitted to pay her only $21,669 — a 21 percent cut.

Nearly every older American would be affected, but those at the lowest income levels would be hurt the most. Social Security benefits are progressive, providing greater assistance for those with greater need. A worker with average career earnings of $12,949 until 2037 is entitled to receive the equivalent of 75.6 percent of that income, but with mandatory cuts, this person would have to survive on just 59.9 percent, the Social Security report says.

According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 9 percent of all retirees lived in poverty in 2017 — but the figure would have been 39 percent if not for Social Security.
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For African Americans, the study found, the anti-poverty effect has been even greater: 19 percent lived in poverty, but 52 percent would have done so if they had not received Social Security payments. For Hispanics, the numbers were 17 percent and 46 percent.

The reductions of roughly 20 percent on average are just a starting point. If current laws are unchanged and current economic projections remain intact, the cuts would rise to 25 percent in later years, a New York Times analysis of Social Security data indicates.

Unless Congress and the White House reach an agreement before the trust funds are emptied, most Americans will face hard choices: delaying retirement and working longer if they can, or simply surviving on less.

The Social Security mess already complicates some commonly accepted retirement-planning wisdom — such as the advice to delay claiming benefits until age 70.

People who do so are entitled to an 8 percent annual increase in benefits. That makes Social Security “the best annuity that money could buy,” said Wade Pfau, a professor of retirement income at the American College of Financial Services, in a 2015 report. But he redid his calculations at the request of The Times, and for workers who are 55 now, statutory benefit cuts just when they turn 70 could make that approach far less attractive, Professor Pfau said.
The ‘third rail’

Cutting the Social Security checks of people in retirement is, to say the least, politically dangerous.

David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s budget director, tried to do just that in 1981. What happened in that episode gives some clues for a possible solution today.

Like other conservatives of that era, Mr. Stockman viewed Social Security as a form of “closet socialism” that needed to be scaled back. With the program facing a solvency crisis, he proposed immediate reductions in retirees’ benefits.

Older Americans rebelled, and members of Congress listened to them. “I just hadn’t thought through the impact of making it effective immediately,” Mr. Stockman observed ruefully in his 1986 book, “The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed.”
Rosly Ray in a Social Security Administration video kiosk room at a public library in Quincy, Florida, last year.CreditMark Wallheiser for The New York Times
Rosly Ray in a Social Security Administration video kiosk room at a public library in Quincy, Florida, last year.CreditMark Wallheiser for The New York Times

A nimble politician, Reagan rejected Mr. Stockman’s recommendations and formed a bipartisan commission to study the issue. Ultimately, Reagan reached a long-term agreement with the Democratic speaker of the House, Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., who viewed the preservation of Social Security as essential.

While they made no immediate cuts in Social Security checks, they reduced benefits in more subtle ways, using measures that are still being used, like gradually delaying the standard retirement age from 65 to 66, where it stands today, and eventually to 67.

Taxes increased, too — bolstering cash flows and creating the trust fund surpluses that have given retirees and current politicians some breathing room.

But in ways large and small, the Reagan-O’Neill Social Security fix is coming undone. Notably, the hefty balances in those trust fund accounts today — some $2.9 trillion — may be having an unintended consequence.

“The trust fund surpluses were intended to provide a buffer that would give politicians enough time to show some fiscal responsibility,” said Robert D. Reischauer, a former Social Security trustee who was also head of the Congressional Budget Office and is now president emeritus of the Urban Institute. “But the problem is that without an immediate crisis, the politicians don’t have to act. And really, they would rather sleep. So when the crisis eventually comes, as it will, it is likely to be much, much worse because of the delay.”

John Cogan, a professor of public policy at Stanford, said Social Security’s fundamental problem was that benefits had been rising faster than revenue. Cuts, he said, will be unpalatable but inevitable.

“The solution, I think, is to slow the growth in real benefits promised to future recipients,” he said.

Democrats in Congress have suggested an increase in Social Security benefits, accompanied by higher taxes for the wealthy. In combination, the bill’s various measures would eliminate the program’s financial shortfall, according to projections by Stephen C. Goss, the chief actuary of Social Security.

Conservatives continue to push for sharp reductions in the size of Social Security as well as Medicare, saying the United States can’t afford the growing burden of the two “entitlement programs.”

“Entitlement programs in the United States have expanded more than tenfold since their inception, but workers are nowhere near 10 times better off as a result,” the Heritage Foundation said in a May 20 policy proposal. The conservative think tank favors cuts to benefits and siphoning money from payroll taxes into individual investment accounts. That echoes an initiative that President George W. Bush once embraced but Democrats blocked.

There are no signs of an imminent breakthrough, though Professor Cogan said that, as in the past, the impending prospect of benefit cuts “is likely to change the political atmosphere and make it possible to find a compromise.”

But Mr. Reischauer fears that, given the current acrimony of American politics, there will be no compromise until the last minute.

“We will need a combination of increased taxes and reduced benefits, undoubtedly,” he said. “But if we wait, the deficits will only grow and the eventual solution will be much more painful.”

Townsend is BACK FROM THE PAST once again from the 18th Century, this time with critical information on how to store your boat for the winter, the old fashion way.

Just to make sure it doesn't get waterlogged, it might be a good idea to coat it in tallow or pine tar before sinking it.  Generally speaking though, I think the Birchbark Canoes built on a frame are more elegant than Dugouts (and lighter too!), and even better are the Sealskin Kayaks built on a frame of Whale Bone by the Inuit and Aleut.

He's still using the Mr. Fusion powered Flying Delorean, hasn't tried the WAYBAC Machine or Time Tunnel yet.


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On Global Capitalist Crises: Systemic Changes and Challenges
Interview with American Herald Tribune
By Dr. Jack Rasmus and Mohsen Abdelmoumen
Global Research, June 09, 2019
Jack Rasmus 8 June 2019
Theme: Global Economy

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Rasmus’ May 2019 interview by American Herald Tribune reporter Mohsen Abdelmoumen


Mohsen Abdelmoumen: Why in your opinion can the capitalist system only generate crises?

Jack Rasmus: There are six major changes in the global capitalist economy since the 1970s that increase the potential fragility, instability, and the amplification and propagation rate of the fragility-instability events:

1. Greater Integration of the Former Colonial Elites into the Capitalist Global Economy as Partners

This began in the 1970s as global capitalism integrated the petro-economies, allowing them to nationalize oil and related resource production and share significantly in the revenues from that production—so long as it was understood those elites would recycle much of their income back to the capitalist core economies through direct purchases or the global banking system. In the 1980s, the US added Japan to this wealth recycling arrangement with the Plaza accords of 1986. Europe was to a lesser extent thus integrated as well via the Louvre agreements of that decade. In the 1990s it was Eastern Europe and to a lesser extent south Asia. In the 2000s it was China in part. The recycling benefited US capital greatly. US dominated institutions like the IMF and World Bank were put in service of helping facilitate the integration. The recycling was accompanied by a major acceleration of US foreign direct investment into the economies of the new partners. The dollars flowing back to the US in the form of US Treasury bonds and bills purchases allowed the US to run chronic massive budget deficits, caused by accelerating defense-war spending and simultaneous business-investor tax cutting in the amount of tens of trillions of dollars. The recycling allowed the US to build up its military into a global force on nearly all continents, with a budget of a $trillion a year, the most advanced technology, and more than 900 bases worldwide. Integration economically with the US enabled the US to more effectively wield a ‘carrot and stick’ policy within its global empire to ensure partners would adhere to its fundamental political interests in turn. But global financial and economic integration also means that crises that build and erupt in the US and/or within the key core partners of the US economic empire (aka Canada-Mexico, Japan, Europe), now more quickly spread across the integrated markets and economies. Integration increases the amplification magnitudes and propagation rates of crises.

2. Financial Restructuring of the Global Economy and the Relative Shift to Financial Asset Investing

I argued in some detail in ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy’ that what has been underway since the early 1980s decade is a relative shift toward financial asset investing. This shift is structural and has not abated. In fact, technology is accelerating it. The opportunity for greater financial market profits is also a key driver. The financial asset investing shift, as I call it, has had the result of distorting real investment in plant, equipment, etc. The latter still goes on and may also grow during periods, but in relative terms it is slowing and even declining compared to financial asset investing. At the core of this is the explosion of free money provided by the central banks, made possible by the collapse of the Bretton Woods International monetary system in the 1970s.

Technology and new forms of what is money have also contributed, and increasingly so after 2000, to the explosion of credit enabled by money and near money forms. With excess credit comes excess debt—at all levels: government, banking, non-bank businesses, households, ‘external’, etc.

The magnitude of debt is not per se the problem. The failure to service that debt (i.e. pay interest and principal) is the problem, and that occurs when prices collapse (asset and goods and inputs prices). Price deflation occurs when financial asset bubbles implode. Assets are all substitutes for each other, and when one key asset collapses it has a contagion effect across others. So the price system is the transmission mechanism. This idea is quite counter to mainstream economics which purports the price system stabilizes the economy and markets via supply and demand. But that’s a myth. The price system is a destabilizer. And there isn’t just ‘one price system’, another mainstream error. There are three key price systems that are inter-related but behave differently. They are financial asset prices, goods & services prices, and in put prices (e.g. wages). The relative shift to financial asset investing tends to drive up financial asset prices into bubble range, that then bust and drag down goods and input prices in turn, causing the recession to deepen and recovery to occur slowly. But the financial asset shift and inflation has a further negative effect: it reduces productivity as real investment slows. That slows wages (price for labor) while causing greater unemployment or underemployment (especially the latter).

Financialization is measured not by the share of profits or jobs going to the banking sector. It is defined by the explosion of financial asset securities (especially derivatives), the new highly liquid markets worldwide created in which to trade those securities, and the new financial institutions that dominate that trade—i.e. what are called the shadow banking system. Around this securities, markets, and institutional new framework (that functions globally due to technology) a new global finance capital elite has emerged as the human ‘agents’ of this new global financial structure that I define as ‘financialization’. That global finance capital elite now manages more investible assets than do the traditional commercial banking system (which by the way is increasingly integrated with the shadow banking system). But the shadow banks are virtually unregulated and thus prone to engage in excess risky financial investing, which is behind the chronic shift to financial investing and the financial instability globally it is creating.

3. Global Restructuring of Labor Markets & Collapse of Unionized Labor

Not all of contemporary capitalism is of course financialized. There is still much non-financial production going on and, in the (non-financial) services sectors, actually growing. It’s just that it isn’t as profitable as financial investing and thus is getting relatively less money capital than it otherwise would for purposes of expansion. Financialization is diverting more money capital to itself relative to non-financial investing—i.e. a shift that is slowing productivity gains in the latter and, as a consequence, wages and raising underemployment as businesses cut costs in order to offset the slowing productivity and higher costs of investing in real assets.

We thus now see major transformations in labor markets worldwide that is resulting in lower wage income gains. The ‘global integration’ process in item #1 above is accompanied by the ‘offshoring’ of higher wage manufacturing and other sector jobs to the emerging markets, following the capital outflow from the capitalist core (US, Europe, Japan) to the periphery of EMEs (note: Emerging market economies). Simultaneously, businesses still producing in the core intensify their cost cutting to compete with producers in the EMEs. That means the rise of contingent labor (part time, temp, gig, etc.) which is paid less and paid fewer benefits. The rise of contingency and offshoring reduces union membership and in turn bargaining power. Whereas in the past unions recovered some of income lost during the recession and downturns during the business cycle upswing, this is no longer occurring as unionization has collapsed. The offshoring of jobs also increases worker insecurity and means less likely worker resistance to wage compression by strikes and collective bargaining. As unions decline their political influence also wanes, and with it the ability to achieve wage and benefit improvements via political action. Minimum wage legislation in particular suffers.

Labor market restructuring thus becomes a popular project of business elites and their politicians. It takes the form of job offshoring as the State increasingly subsidizes foreign direct investment. It takes the form of job creation that is now almost totally contingent in character in the advanced capitalist core of US-Japan-Europe (60%-80% of jobs created in Europe in recent decades have been contingent—part time, temp, etc.). As unions weaken economically, it means the restricting and limiting of what union labor may legally negotiate over. As unions weaken politically, it means slower legislated wage adjustments (min. wages) and cut backs in ‘social wages’ like pensions, national health insurance, etc. As union effectiveness weakens, they are attacked and removed by business action or abandoned by workers who see them ineffective in defending their interests. Business led political parties then propose national legislation to, in part, codify the changes and in part to drive them deeper.

Just as the financial restructuring of the capitalist economy leads to accelerating income and wealth accumulation by the financial elite and business class, the restructuring of labor markets had the effect of compressing and stagnation (or for some sectors of the working class even reducing) wage incomes. The former financial restructuring causes income and wealth inequality to accelerate even faster than the labor market restructuring causes wage, working class, incomes to stagnate and decline. Both restructurings result in accelerating income inequality that we see today. And with income inequality, wealth (i.e. assets) grows in turn. Conversely, more asset accumulation produces even more non-asset income inequality. So the two, income and wealth, inequality in favor of financial and business classes feed off each other to expand even further. Meanwhile wage income stagnates.
Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy

Thus de-unionization, wage compression, social benefits cut backs, job offshoring, decline of collective bargaining and strike activity, labor market ‘reform’ legislation, etc. are all the consequence (and objectives) of labor market restructuring. Labor market restructuring is largely for the benefit of those sectors of capital still mostly doing business in the domestic economy.

Financialization, subsidization by the State of foreign direct investment, and free trade agreements are largely for the benefit of the multinational corporate sector. Free trade agreements subsidize multinational corporations in two major ways: They are primarily about legalizing terms and conditions for US multinational corporate and banking penetration of other economies on favorable terms. Free trade deals also serve as a multinational corporation cost cutting aid, as corporations are able to bring back their goods and services and not pay the tariff (tax) to re-import back to the US. For example, 49% of the US’s more than $500 billion a year in goods trade deficit with China involves goods made by US corporations in China.

4. Destruction of Former Social Democratic Parties and Movements

Everywhere globally we see the collapse of social democratic parties that once dominated government. This has been true even in the ‘heartland’ of social democracy, in Europe, but also in USA, in South America, Israel, and select economies in Asia where ‘weak forms’ of social democracy previously participated. The rise of right wing ‘populism’ should be viewed as a direct result of the political vacuum created by the demise of social democracy. It is the consequence. So why have they declined? And how has this decline fueled the global integration, financial restructuring, restructuring of labor markets, the financial investing shift, and the accelerating income and wealth inequality? Those are key questions that remain largely unanswered still today among the so-called ‘left’ or ‘progressive’ movements everywhere. Some likely causes of the collapse of social democracy at the political level parallels include the destruction of their political base, the unions, and their significant loss of political influence. To some extent it has been the result of strategic errors by these parties, allowing themselves to become too closely associated with the neoliberal offensive that began circa 1980. But whatever the cause, their decline has opened the floodgates to legislative and other capitalist initiatives to restructure the capitalist financial system and capitalist labor markets globally along lines noted above. Capital has never been more powerful relative to labor than it is today. That’s why, in desperation, working classes vote in mere protest of conditions without being able to propose and promote solutions in their interest. Thus we get Brexits. Support for far right parties that promise to change the system and argue falsely the change will better the conditions of workers. That’s why we get Donald Trump. Bolsonaros and Macris in South America. Salvinis and Orbans in Europe. Dutertes in Asia. Etc. Working classes worldwide have been ‘de-organized’ both economically and politically. Into the vacuum step the far right movements, ideologues, and their parties, who take power often by default. The working classes are left with mere periodic protest votes and they vote for parties and movements that say they are going to ‘stick it to’ the capitalists that have created their declining working conditions and standard of living—even if they know little will come of that pledge.

5. Transformation of Mainstream Capitalist Political Parties

Political change has taken the form not only of the demise or rise of certain political movements and parties, but also the change in formerly ruling parties.In the US the Republican party has assumed the mantle of the far right populism. Its former challenger of the past decade, the Teaparty, has been integrated and transformed that party fundamentally.Its ideology, policy mix, and willingness to undermine democratic norms and even institutions has signified a basic change in the composition and strategy (and tactics) of the Republican party. A similar transformation to the ‘left of center’ is in the early stages with the US Democratic party.Not just in the US is this process occurring. In the UK the formerly dominant parties are in crisis and losing popular support.A ‘Brexit’ right wing populist party is emerging within the Conservative party, while the Labor party continues to lose support to nationalists and environmentalists in its ranks as well.At earlier stages a similar development is occurring in France and even Germany, where both the national front and AfD are growing support. And of course, Italy is well ahead in the rightward shift. The parties of the ‘center’ are collapsing in various stages everywhere.

These political party changes are the consequence of the intensifying income and wealth inequality, and the forces driving it associated with global capitalist economic integration, financial restructuring, and labor market restructuring.On the periphery of the political system are the demise of social democracy and rise of the populist right parties;but ‘in the middle’ as well the traditional capitalist parties are becoming fluid and experiencing internal instability.

6. Increasing Subsidization of Capital Incomes by Capitalist States

Capitalists have totally captured the direction of fiscal and monetary policy and have turned it to the benefit of their direct interests.In past periods, the primary mission of fiscal-monetary policy was to stabilize capitalist economies when recessions or goods inflation occurred. Fiscal-monetary policy was also employed in a manner that shared the benefits of such policy with working classes and other sectors. But 21st century capitalist fiscal-monetary policy (taxation, government spending, budget-national debt management, interest rates, inflation targeting, employment, etc.) has been transformed. Today the primary mission of such policy is to directly subsidize capital incomes, both in periods of economic contraction and in subsequent periods of recovery.Keeping interest rates low chronically allows constant cheap credit and the issuance of multi-trillions of dollars of corporate and household debt.Providing excess liquidity fuels financial asset market (stocks, bond, derivatives, etc.) bubbles that boom capital incomes from financial investing. Equally massive, multi-trillion dollar tax cuts for businesses, corporations and investors, bankers and shadow bankers, results in the US alone more than a $1 trillion a year annually in redistribution to shareholders from stock buybacks and dividend payouts (in 2018 rising to $1.4 trillion in US alone). Ever more funding is simultaneously provided for defense and war production.

The direct subsidization fuels the financial asset investing shift and in turn the financial asset bubbles, corporate and household excess debt, and generates the financial fragility and instability in the form of the next crisis. It also results in escalating government sector debt and rising debt servicing costs.

Thus all three major sectors of capitalist economy—business, households, government—keep loading up on debt and leverage. In the US, government debt (national and local, central bank and government agency) is well over $30 trillion. Another $20 trillion could easily be added by 2030. Corporate and business bond and loan debt may be as high as $20 trillion today.And household debt nearly $14 trillion and rising rapidly. The problem of debt is multiplied many fold across the global capitalist economy, with areas of high concentration of either corporate and/or government debt.The amount is easily more than $75 trillion. It is worth repeating, however, that the sheer magnitude of debt is not by itself the problem.The problem is when the incomes for servicing the debt cannot keep up.And that gap widens rapidly when financial asset prices, and other prices, rapidly collapse and contagion spread just as rapidly from the financial to the real economy. Price collapse, beginning with financial markets, is the critical chemical additive that makes the debt problem explode. And when that explosion takes place, the massive debt accumulation at government levels prevents traditional fiscal-monetary policy from playing an economic stabilization role. All it is then used for is to subsidize the losses incurred by owners of capital incomes.

On Reforms and Four Fundamental Challenges to Capitalism Today

Mohsen Abdelmoumen: You are a brilliant economist and a prolific author. Unlike most economists linked to the establishment who see nothing, you keep warning with very solid arguments and careful work that we are heading for another cycle of crises more serious than the previous ones. Is the capitalist system reformable or should we not seek an alternative as soon as possible?

Jack Rasmus: It depends what you mean by ‘reforms’. There are obviously minor reforms that, while important for protecting average folks income, their standard of living, protecting their basic rights and civil liberties, etc., don’t challenge or stop the fundamental drift of US and global capitalism, including its growing tendency toward crises that I noted above. These should be distinguished from structural ‘reforms’ that do attempt to fundamentally change the direction of 21st century global capitalism. These fundamental reforms are, of course, strongly resisted by capitalists and their political representatives. What then are these transformable ‘reforms’?

They would be changes that halt and roll back the financialization and the multiple forces now accelerating income and wealth economy, with emphasis on ‘roll back’ here.They would reverse the changes in the labor markets of recent decades, by prohibiting for example the excess hiring of part time, temp and otherwise ‘contingent’ labor. They would restore an even field for the recovery of unions and collective bargaining.

They would democratize the central banks and give them a new mission to serve not only the banks but the rest of society; central banks would become part of a broader public banking system and their decisions made by elected representatives accountable to all of society (my recent book provides proposals of legislation that would do this). The tax shift of recent decades that gave ever more income to businesses, investors and wealthy 1% would be reversed, perhaps via a financial transaction tax system and would make tax fraud and offshore tax sheltering a criminal offense with guaranteed jail time. And of course the massive $ trillion a year war budget would be significantly reduced by fundamental reforms. All these fundamental reforms challenge the trajectory and dynamics of 21st century capitalism. Capitalists and politicians would vigorously resist them. In that sense the system is not ‘reformable’. Minor reforms are sometimes allowed, and concessions granted especially in times of system crisis. But both kinds of reforms should be aggressively pursued.

There are four great challenges confronting 21st century US dominated global capitalism.It is questionable whether the system can overcome them. If it can’t it will be perceived by the general, non-capitalist populace that it is failing and no long can deliver on improving standards of living or even maintaining past levels of living standards. If that occurs, it’s a game changer. Here are the four great challenges it faces:

1. Will Capitalism be able to resolve the crisis of climate change in the next two decades.

If it can’t do that, the economic negative impacts of climate change by 2040 will have reached such a level that they will become economically unresolvable.Thesystem will be appropriately blamed for not resolving the problem. It remains to be seen if the private profit and capital expansion system of capitalism can co-exist with the climate crisis. Can profits be maintained and the climate crisis simultaneously resolved? We shall see, but I’m not optimistic the two can coexist.

2. Can the system control the coming huge negative impacts of technological change?

We’ve seen how technology has transformed financial and labor markets, to the great detriment of 80%-90% of the working classes. It has spawned new business models like Amazon, Uber, and others that have devastated jobs and wage incomes.In the US more than 50 million are already ‘contingent’ labor of some kind (in Europe and Japan even more) and it’s just the beginning. The real crisis will begin when next decade the technological effects of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning software have an even greater impact. A recent Mckinsey Consultant study predicts a minimum of 30% of all occupations and jobs will be replaced or reduced. How are these people going to earn a decent living, start families, afford housing, etc.? Some say a Guaranteed Basic Income will have to be the answer. I don’t see capitalists going along with that.It’s a ‘structural reform’ they’ll resist tooth and nail. What are the economic and political consequences of AI (note: Artificial Intelligence) if they allow it to happen and drive down living standards for hundreds of millions of workers worldwide? Here again I don’t see the capitalist system, as it pursues profits via AI, being able or willing to soften its massive negative effects on jobs, income and living standards.

3. Will They do anything about accelerating Income Inequality?

Capitalists and politicians talk about this but so far put forward no solutions to it.And the realization of ‘them vs. us’ is beginning to deepen in the consciousness of more workers. That resentment is fueling the right wing populism globally. It is also making the young workers, the millennials and next ‘generation Z’ coming, to turn against the system in droves. Polls in the US show a majority of under 30 year olds now reject the capitalist system as it is and prefer some kind of ‘socialism’. We shouldn’t make too much of this yet, but ‘socialism’ means to them ‘none of the above’ currently.

4. Can capitalists ‘manage’ the radical right populist surge underway?

They think they can but are losing in that effort thus far. They thought they could control Trump, but he is transforming the Republican party by driving out traditional capitalist representative from it and from their initial placement in his administration.He is terrorizing the opposition from within. It’s not unlike what’s going on elsewhere in Europe and South Asia countries where authoritarian right ideologues like Trump and his neocons are slowing changing the political rules of the game in their favor, at the expense of the traditionalists, sometimes called ‘globalists’. But it’s really about an internal internecine intra-capitalist class fight going on the US and elsewhere.A more aggressive and violent wing views the crisis of living standards as an opportunity to assert itself, take control of the institutions of government, transform the State apparatus and bureaucracy to serve it and not the traditionalists, and govern in a more direct way, even approaching a kind of dictatorship of its wing over the formal institutions of government and state. In short, I don’t see that the capitalists have had much success so far in containing this development, this shift toward a more radical right. There are of course some historical parallels here. It’s what Hitler was able to do in the early 1930s. There are numerous disturbing historical parallels between Trump and his movement and Hitler’s early strategies. Of course, the process was accelerating in Germany as the economic and social crisis was more intense and concentrated in a shorter time frame in the 1920s there. The crisis is not as intense yet in the US and the process of Trump’s take over of the political system is more drawn out and protracted. But there are similarities to the process nonetheless. The traditionalist capitalist wing and globalists are clearly ‘losing’ in the US. And if Trump should win another term in 2020, which he might if there’s no recession in the US in the interim, then this transformation of American democracy and American political institutions and culture will then become quite obvious. Meanwhile, we see a similar rightward drift and transformation of the capitalist political systems occurring in the UK, in central Europe, maybe even France soon, in the Philippines, in India, in Brazil-Argentina, in places in Africa and elsewhere. I think the traditionalists have no idea or strategy of how to stop it.


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The original source of this article is Jack Rasmus
Copyright © Dr. Jack Rasmus and Mohsen Abdelmoumen, Jack Rasmus, 2019


The Los Angeles Disease Renaissance: Typhoid and Typhus Make a Comeback

As the homeless population in Los Angeles grows, so does the unfortunate revival of many third world diseases.
By: Sarah Cowgill June 08, 2019Articles, Economic Affairs, Healthcare, Politics, Social Issues1

Typhoid fever

Despite hundreds of millions of dollars flowing through Los Angeles to stem the rising tide of homelessness, a resurgence of medieval diseases has the city – and neighboring states – on edge. Typhoid fever and typhus, borne by fleas, body lice, and feces, are turning the once glitzy and glamorous city into a third-world worthy environment. Yes, Typhoid Mary is back, in a sense, living on the streets and wreaking havoc on unsuspecting people in the Golden State.

These diseases, along with an uptick in tuberculosis, hepatitis A, and staph, are easily and rapidly spread and have wide-reaching consequences. They’re highly contagious and can infect anyone through casual contact.

An LAPD officer was recently diagnosed with typhoid, and several other city employees are exhibiting the classic symptoms of high fever, muscle pain, and weakness. Left untreated, the disease can be fatal – and let’s face it: The malady wiped out entire populations during the Dark Ages and took a heavy toll on American Civil War soldiers and early American settlers. Some historians blame the malaise for obliterating the Jamestown settlement.
Where the Heck Did They Come From?

Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority recently released a report showing 59,000 people living on the streets in Los Angeles County – a 12% increase since 2018 – with 36,300 of them within the city limits of Los Angeles. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), reports that “California accounted for 30% of all people experiencing homelessness as individuals” throughout the United States.

The progress of these once eradicated and near eradicated diseases is so alarming that the politicians who once spent copious amounts of time covering up the warts and putrid pustules in their liberally run cities and state are now showing disbelief and disgust. California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) broke his silence during his state of the state speech in February: “Our homeless crisis is increasingly becoming a public-health crisis. Typhus, a medieval disease. In California. In 2019.”

Los Angeles Mayor Gil Garcetti (D), who many believed would be a 2020 presidential contender, calls the crisis, “the biggest heartbreak for me and my city.” Garcetti campaigned extensively for the initiative known as Proposition HHH, which designated $1.2 billion over the next ten years to build homeless housing. But now residents are howling about the pricey plan’s abject failure. One local L.A. news outlet polled residents and found that “Forty-five percent said it’s failing, with 18 percent saying it’s a complete failure.”

Voters passed Propositions 47 (2014) and 57 (2016), downgrading theft and drug offenses to misdemeanors and redefining many felonies from violent to nonviolent to release a horde of inmates – some addicted to drugs and suffering from now untreated mental illness. And they wonder why there are so many people on the streets living, sleeping, and breathing surrounded by urine-soaked sidewalks and piles of human feces? And, of course, they don’t have to show symptoms to carry and transfer these diseases – simple casual contact from a carrier will do just fine.

Asymptomatic Mary Mallon was presumed to have infected over 50 people between 1907 and 1915, yet never experienced a day of sickness. She died under quarantine – from complications of a stroke, not typhoid. Her body was cremated and her ashes interred, but her legacy as Typhoid Mary lives on.
What’s the Plan?

Garcetti is doubling down on his homeless housing project, but his highest hurdle is his choice for building sites. It seems no Angeleno wants drugs, typhus, and hepatitis bubbling and festering on their own block. A short story made long, aside from Proposition HHH, there is no solid plan to curb the worsening rotting of Los Angeles.

There is a long-held belief that two American presidents succumbed to Typhoid. The ninth Commander in Chief, William Henry Harrison, is remembered to have died of pneumonia after only 31 days in office, but recent studies suggest he likely died from typhoid. Number 12, President Zachary Taylor, was most likely felled from the disease as well – due to the unsanitary conditions in the Swamp in the mid-19th century. Ironically, the only thing that seems to have changed in Washington, D.C. is that the deadly infections are in the heart and soul and not the body of the toadies on the Hill.

Here we are in the throes of the 21st century with running water, inoculations for just about every known malady of the last millennia, and welfare programs to heal the poorest of our citizens. Yet Los Angeles remains a hot, malodorous, infectious mess – and it could be spreading toward a city near you.

M&A arrives at the MIC!  LBOs for War!


United Technologies, Raytheon to create $120B defense giant: Morning Brief
Yahoo Finance
June 10, 2019

This week’s economic data and the ongoing trade war will be the focal points for market watchers.

Futures for all three of the major indices are up Monday after President Donald Trump announced on Friday evening that the U.S. and Mexico reached a deal. Dow futures (YM=F) were more than 200 points higher after the announcement. Trump said in a series of tweets that he would not be imposing a 5% tariff on Mexican goods, and additional details on the deal will be announced at an appropriate time.

Read more
(COMBO) This combination of file pictures created on June 9, 2019 shows the Raytheon logo on a building in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, on March 11, 2019 and the United Technologies logo at the factory of United Technologies-owned Carrier, in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 10, 2018. - Raytheon and United Technologies announced on June 9, 2019 that they have agreed to merge, the companies said in a joint statement. (Photos by Jim WATSON and Nova SAFO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON,NOVA SAFO/AFP/Getty Images)
This combination of file pictures created on June 9, 2019 shows the Raytheon logo on a building in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, on March 11, 2019 and the United Technologies logo at the factory of United Technologies-owned Carrier, in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 10, 2018. (Photo credit JIM WATSON,NOVA SAFO/AFP/Getty Images)

United Technologies, Raytheon to create $120B giant: United Technologies Corp. (UTX) agreed on Sunday to combine its aerospace business with U.S. contractor Raytheon Co. (RTN) and create a new company worth about $121 billion, in what would be the sector's biggest ever merger. [Reuters]

China exports grow, but import slump: China's exports unexpectedly returned to growth in May despite higher U.S. tariffs, but imports fell the most in nearly three years in a further sign of weak domestic demand that could prompt Beijing to step up stimulus measures. [Reuters]

UK economy shrinks in April, in biggest fall since 2016: The UK economy shrank by 0.4% in April in its biggest contraction since March 2016, new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows. [Yahoo Finance UK]

New bipartisan bills threaten Chinese IPOs and Chinese companies listed in the U.S.: American stock exchanges have emerged as the latest battleground in the ongoing political fight between the U.S. and China. Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill have aggressively moved forward with legislation that increases oversight for more than $1 trillion worth of U.S.-listed Chinese companies, putting stocks like Alibaba (BABA) in the spotlight and future listings on these exchanges in question. [Yahoo Finance]

Shades of David Korowicz and Supply Cross Contagion.  It makes it into the MSM, at last.

We got there 6 years ago on the Doomstead Diner.  Ahead of our time.


A woman in the back of a moving car (Credit: Getty Images)

The maths problem that could bring the world to a halt

Our hectic, on-demand lifestyles rely upon allocating finite sets of resources to constantly changing numbers of people. As this task grows ever harder, it will require solutions to a little-known mathematical riddle.

    By Gemma Church

9 June 2019
Future Now

It’s not easy to accurately predict what humans want and when they will want it. We’re demanding creatures, expecting the world to deliver speedy solutions to our increasingly complex and diverse modern-day problems.

Over the last few decades, researchers have developed a range of pretty effective mathematical solutions that can allocate resources across a variety of industries and scenarios so they can attempt to keep up with the daily demands our lives place on them. But when an allocation made at one time affects subsequent allocations, the problem becomes dynamic, and the passing of time must be considered as part of the equation. This throws a mathematical spanner in the works, requiring these solutions to now take into account the changing and uncertain nature of the real world.

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Such problems are collectively known as dynamic resource allocation problems. They crop up anywhere you find a limited resource that needs to be assigned in real time.

Whether you’re waiting for a taxi or a next-day delivery, the list of dynamic resource allocation problems and their everyday applications is “almost endless” according to Warren Powell, an engineer at Princeton University who has been investigating these problems since the 1980s.

Pharmacists checking medicines at a hospital (Credit: Getty Images)

Anywhere that has limited resources but a high level of constantly changing demand will face dynamic resource allocation problems of one sort or another (Credit: Getty Images)

But dynamic resource allocation problems are not just concerned with giving humans what they want, when they want it. They will also be essential for tackling some of the world’s most fundamental and complex issues, including climate change, as they help us allocate our planet’s often scarce and depleted resources in the most efficient ways possible.

But let’s first look at a simplified example to see what a dynamic resource allocation problem is and what makes it so difficult to solve.

Imagine you’re cooking a roast dinner for your family of four. You opt for beef with all the trimmings, safe in the knowledge that it’s a firm family favourite. But just as you’re about to serve up, your daughter announces she’s vegetarian, your partner texts to say they’re running late, and your son tells you he’s invited “a few” friends over for dinner too. Then, your dog runs off with the joint of beef while you’re desperately trying to work out how you are going to meet the needs of all these (quite frankly) very demanding and unruly individuals.

    They will be essential for tackling some of the world’s most fundamental and complex issues, including climate change

This is a trivial example of a dynamic resource allocation problem, but it demonstrates some of the core challenges researchers face when tackling these problems. For starters, the parameters affecting demand change unexpectedly both in the short and long term. There’s no way you could have accurately predicted your daughter’s new dietary requirements, your partner’s tardy arrival or your son’s additional guests as you were prepping this meal.

In the longer term, demand for meals in your house also changes on a day-to-day basis. You may need to feed two or 20 people at each sitting. From meal to meal, you have no idea who’ll want feeding, what they will want or when they will want it. You can take an educated guess based on prior experience, but this is not a robust method because human nature and the many other parameters affecting demand are unpredictable.

Two men sorting boxes in a distribution warehouse (Credit: Getty Images)

Next day delivery has become something many of us take for granted now, but ensuring this can be done efficiently is a complex problem (Credit: Getty Images)

The actions of the individuals in this scenario also affect the future state of the system. Every time you allocate a specific meal to a person, this changes the system. It removes both one hungry person and food from your kitchen.

“All [dynamic resource allocation] examples need to deal with changing inputs and environments, which are highly dynamic and difficult to estimate and predict, as the future load is not statistically dependent on the current load,” says Eiko Yoneki, a senior researcher leading the data centric systems group at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory. “One change triggers another change, and if you want to control the system with accurate decisions, one must consider the future status of the system.”

What’s more, as more people or meal options come into your kitchen, things are complicated further. You now have more ways to allocate a range of different meals to different people. This number of combinations scales exponentially as you add more people or meals to the system.

This is exactly what a large hospital may face, for example, when trying to feed all the patients coming through its doors. The same applies when trying to treat these patients. The medicines they require, which themselves have a limited shelf life, and the equipment needed for diagnosis and treatment will change constantly as different patients arrive. Limited resources like MRI scanners, doctors and nurses need to be allocated too. To address this, and prevent costs from soaring out of control, the hospital management might deploy mathematical models to help coordinate all these things.

Hospital kitchens deal with a constantly changing demands (Credit: Science Photo Library)

A busy hospital kitchen deals with constantly changing demands that make it difficult to predict how many patients it has to feed and with what (Credit: Science Photo Library)

The trouble is that most existing methods rely on historical data to make predictions. This method doesn’t scale very well for such systems and can’t cope with even the smallest changes. If a change does occur, they go back to square one and start working out a solution all over again. Such problems quickly become computationally intractable, even for a fairly small number of people and resources – whether that’s a meal or an MRI scanner.

Dynamic resource allocation problems also arise from a range of different scenarios and each one has its own specific issues. For example, Yoneki is investigating the implications of these problems to help our computer systems and applications run faster and more efficiently.

“Modern computer systems are complex, and many configuration parameters need to be tuned, including resource allocation such as memory, computation capacity, communication capability, and any input to the systems,” she says. “Computer systems are dynamic and deal with ever-changing environments, which requires dynamic control methodology.”

    Mobile phone networks and cloud computing are reliant upon solving these problems too   

So, the computer you are reading this article on is almost certainly wrestling with some dynamic resource allocation issues at this very moment. Mobile phone networks and cloud computing are reliant upon solving these problems too.

Delivery firms are also tackling dynamic resource allocation problems to speed up deliveries. For example, UPS developed its On-Road Integrated Optimisation and Navigation (Orion) system to optimise its delivery routes using advanced algorithms. The company claims the solution has saved it 100 million miles per year – but other reports reveal the system struggles in complex urban environments.

Supply chains are another “problem that is never going to go away”, says Powell, because of the complex nature of today’s products. For example, if you want to manufacture a standard smartphone you need to coordinate hundreds of components from around the globe, all of which are brought together in a specific order on the factory floor. “Supply chain disruptions are a major problem when trying to meet the needs of society,” he adds.

Dynamic resource allocation keeps mobile phone networks running (Credit: Getty Images)

Mobile phone networks need to allocate resources like bandwidth and energy, as well as whether downloads or calls get priority (Credit: Getty Images)

Our energy supplies are also increasingly complex, relying on unpredictable renewables such as wind and solar. The outputs of these sources can fluctuate wildly, as can demand for energy at any given time. The cost of energy can fluctuate too – electricity prices can spike up to 50 times their average within a five-minute period.

In truth, you will struggle to find an industry that doesn’t faces the challenges of managing a dynamic resource allocation problem in one form or another. “Electricity prices, yield of parts in a supply chain, travel times, equipment failures, and the behaviour of people are all issues I have had to deal with,” says Powell. “This problem is so rich that there are at least 15 distinct research communities working on this problem from different perspectives.”

This is an important point. The diversity of dynamic resource allocation problems means there needs to be industry-wide standardisation of the different computational techniques and methods used to tackle it. Powell is one of those attempting to bring together the disparate communities working on dynamic resource allocation problems. “Our approach does not replace any prior work,” he says. “Rather, it brings all of this work together and helps to identify opportunities for cross-fertilisation.”

    Advances in machine learning are offering new hopes of tackling dynamic resource allocation problems

A rich set of operational management tools have been highly effective over the last few decades to address dynamic resource allocation problems, helping the world’s airlines, logistics firms and road networks increase their performance in a range of ways. However, “high dimensionality” – where many different parametres need to be taken into account – and uncertainty “remains a challenge”, according to Powell.

Advances in machine learning are offering new hopes of tackling dynamic resource allocation problems. An artificial intelligence technique called deep reinforcement learning allows an algorithm to learn what to do by interacting with the environment. The algorithm is designed to learn without human intervention by being rewarded for performing correctly and penalised for performing incorrectly. By attempting to maximise rewards and minimise penalties, it can quickly reach an optimal state.

Deep reinforcement learning recently enabled the AlphaGo program from Google’s DeepMind to defeat the world champion in Go. The system started off knowing nothing about the game of Go, then played against itself to train and optimise its performance. While games are an important proof of concept for deep reinforcement learning techniques, learning how to play games is not the end goal for such methods.

Headlights of cars on a busy road (Credit: Getty Images)

Rerouting traffic on busy roads to avoid jams is currently a challenge for even the most advanced algorithms of today (Credit: Getty Images)

Yoneki and her team have been working on providing a viable alternative to human-generated heuristics for performance tuning in computer systems using deep reinforcement learning. The computer system they have been developing can scale to solve decision-making problems that were previously computationally intractable. It addresses the issue of computational complexity and can also respond to changing parameters in real time.

Systems employing this approach have already been used to optimise system performance in areas including resource management, device payment optimisation and data centre cooling. “Such applications are just at the beginning and open up a whole new world of opportunities,” says Yoneki.

A team of researchers at an artificial intelligence startup called, based in Cambridge in the UK, is also using its own machine learning approach to tackle dynamic resource allocation problems. Its algorithms provide incentives to induce a specific behaviour in the system. In a real-world context, this could be equivalent to introducing smart tolls to incentivise drivers to use specific roads and minimise traffic congestion and pollution.

    As our populations continue to grow and our hunger for on-demand services increases, the complexity of dynamic resource allocation problems will only intensify

But there is still much work to be done in the machine learning field, says Yoneki.

“Use of reinforcement learning will move dynamic resource allocation problems forward, but it requires a lot of data to build a reinforcement learning model, and it is still at an experimental stage, especially computer systems where more complex parameters have to be dealt with than simple game cases,” she says. “The research on this topic is rapidly progressing.”

We’re still some way off cracking this unique set of problems as today’s techniques and computational resources quickly run out of steam when we try to tackle the complexity and random nature of the real world. But as our populations continue to grow and our hunger for on-demand services increases, the complexity of dynamic resource allocation problems and their impact on our day-to-day lives will only intensify.

And if we don’t start to address dynamic resource allocation problems now, we won't just struggle to get dinner on the table – the entire world could grind to a halt.

Market Flambe / 🌽 Collapse Food Pricing in the Commodities Market
« on: June 09, 2019, 07:20:18 AM »
Kickoff Vid for a new Official Thread.  Food prices are going to be one to watch closely here as we progress down the Collapse Highway.


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Collapse Narratives / ☠️ Modern Apocalypse. The Human Condition
« on: June 08, 2019, 02:37:42 AM »
Download the full book pdf HERE (242 pgs). (it's FREE ) :icon_sunny:

Download full analysis HERE.


Modern Apocalypse. The Human Condition
By Jim Miles
Global Research, June 06, 2019
Theme: History

The following text is a selection from Jim Miles book entitled Modern Apocalypse

The entire text of Jim Miles book is available in E-book pdf format

The Human Condition

Within the universe I am completely insignificant. Insignificance opens up the awe, wonder, and on our temporal scale, the powers to understand and to comprehend the marvels of our natural existence. Marvels include creativity both artistic and technological, and the disgust and fear of our primitive uglier nature. Insignificance is both inspirational beauty and gut-wrenching insanity, for how can we as a natural species so proud and arrogant of our supposed superior morality, intellectual capacity, and emotional sensitivity be so primitively unaware and destructive so as to destroy not only ourselves but our one tiny blue watery planet? My lifetime will pass and I can choose to a degree the manner in which it passes: to live life at its best and to reach for the best in others; or to fall back into hedonistic pleasure; or choose a complacency bathed in entertainments and mediocre artificial status quo.

A point is reached in life where one’s mortality is recognized. Its first glimpse may not be at all soul searching, earth shattering, but simply an awareness. For many it comes under the duress of war and famine, losses so significant that the psyche is scarred forever, maybe gentled over time, maybe aggravated, always there. That sense generalizes to everyone in one’s sphere, indeed to everyone alive – family, friends and foes, strangers – all equally are subject to death. Within that awareness people generally work through life without any great emotional trauma as it is a commonality for everyone. Instead life is pursued in support of oneself, one’s family, one’s group, one’s nation, not necessarily in that order of importance. In western societies the cult of youth disguises much of this common human endpoint under an almost overwhelming assault of entertainment, distractions, and the general pursuit of self-interest and self-satisfaction based mainly on acquiring things. Some escape this chase early, some escape it as age itself kicks them outside of cultural consumer norms, many others never escape it, always striving to pretend that life will never end, or simply so saturated with their beliefs that strangely enough life goes on eternally after this corporal body passes.

Part of the problem is the human inability to think beyond more than short term survival, securing food, shelter, and clothing, working perhaps towards some retirement planning, which in the grand scheme of things, is still very short. It is a combination of our natural heritage as hunter gatherers challenged for survival, and our perceptions which are limited to a range suitable for survival but not broad enough to perceive much or most of the universe. In our modern world, somewhat detached from the natural world, seasonal sports, seasonal movie and TV episodes, quarterly and semi-annual and annualized business reports, cycles of life tend to turn around the short term.

Given a long enough time line, and even then not all that long on a universal scale, and it all ends for everyone. The reality of that awareness can produce some mundane results, but it can also induce some awe inspiring moments as a realization arrives of an individual’s infinitely tiny existence in a seemingly eternal universe. Generations pass, and as the time line extends forwards and backwards through memory and expectations, the beginnings of homo sapiens and the end of homo sapiens become apparent. A trillion years from now our universe may have expanded into a stretched thin nothingness; or perhaps it will contract into an infinitely small undefinable point before bursting forth in another round of existence; or maybe – nothing – forever – a nothing even devoid of time as it is the fourth dimension allowing the physical dimensions to exist and move.

We will never know, but take a shorter timeline, a billion years on, and our technological advances and mathematical physics advances do allow us to understand a bit more of what our universe is all about. The sun and earth, the stars and galaxies, will still exist, but will we, the all inclusive human “we”, still walk this earth? Considering that early life originated on earth some three and a half billion years ago, chances are some form of life will continue to exist. But also considering that homo sapiens, “we” the people, have only been around for an estimated one hundred to three hundred thousand years at most, and that most species have cycles within millions of years or shorter, chances are it will not be human life. Cockroaches will assuredly wander around in the crevices of newer species habitats.

The human timeline brings us to the inflection point where our current circumstance are brought into a bit more focus as the timeline based on past geological and biological evidence is realizable if still a seeming infinity away for a species averaging at best around 80 years per individual. The concept of individual life and death, of a few remembered generations past, of a few unconceived generations of the future, and the present reality is very focussed on day to day existence. So focussed perhaps, that most cannot see, or do not want to see, the reality of our own creations may be the very things terminating our existence well before its natural due date.

We are at an inflection point, nearing a point of no return, wherein our self created societies could terminate our existence at any given moment. We live in an environment in which the horsemen of the apocalypse lurk, restless, waiting, growing stronger with each passing day. The first apocalyptic rider readily visible is that of global warming, part of climate change, itself part of large scale environmental degradation. The second rider, always visible, but seldom considered inside apocalyptic scenarios, operating openly, seldom truly understood, is financial collapse, not the collapse itself, but the ramifications of how it occurs and what follows. The third rider, also operating openly but seldom discussed, never apparently understood for its true effects, always goaded into more restrained fury, susceptible to ignite on a moment’s whim, is nuclear war.

These are not solitary riders, searching for their own particular onslaught, but work in cohort with one another, united in their threat, and their growing efforts to erase humanity – and much more. We are creating possible scenarios that sooner or later one or another rider will find the breakout point.

Seemingly conquered are the ancient scourges of famine, pestilence, and Death, who have become mere groomsmen for the apocalyptic riders, waiting their turn to feast on the remnants of collapsed societies. Death is much maligned but completely neutral, the harvester of humanity but not a cause unto himself. We all meet him someday, somehow, without malice, revenge, or wilful evil intent on his part. The malice and pain, the agony before Death arrives, comes from the strange workings of the human imperative to survive and have ultimate power over others, or from the natural processes of aging, illness and disease.

The riders of the modern apocalypse simply wait their turn, strengthening on the ever increasing folly of current human endeavour, trained by the past, ready to be present when opportunity appears, as it already is presenting itself, manifesting itself in activities of global current events, the current human condition.

The weakest rider, but still capable of setting off an apocalyptic finale, is financial collapse. Scoff if you must to think that financial problems will end the world – and I would agree to a point and with a major caveat – as will be discussed later, one currency rules us all and binds us all together, and attempts to hold onto and further strengthen its rule. If it fails to do so it may well call upon its groomsmen for assistance, but more fearfully, may call upon his associate, nuclear war. It would be the metaphorical Samson option, to destroy the world if the US$ was going down, for its destruction would certainly destroy the power of the western oligarchs, banksters, neocons, et al, those who hold the ultimate game button near at hand. For these plotting, conceiving, and believing in a winnable nuclear war, or even a last gasp military send off to a dead empire, financial collapse could release the gate.

The current economic system is built on debt, debt so large it cannot conceivably be paid off, a debt so encompassing that all people and states will suffer as it collapses to a value of zero. Based on debt, electronic credit transactions, ongoing commodity and currency manipulations happening at lightning fast speeds, it could all collapse over a weekend. Hopefully it will be a more controlled softer landing, with one or two state powers rising as the others descend, a transition over years, or if we are lucky, over decades – but lucky only in the sense if current and new tragedies are taken care of.

Debt is not the only problem for the US$ as more importantly it is also the global reserve currency, the petrodollar. This feature allows the U.S. centered debt to grow very large. When the U.S. went off the gold standard, repositioning the US$ as a petrodollar necessity for the purchase of oil, the debt soared as the U.S. Federal Bank ( a private institution) could essentially print all the money it needed. Seemingly bizarre, but two nations transacting outside of the U.S. still need the US$ to do so. Now that the petrodollar hegemony is being effectively challenged in part, this apocalyptic rider is champing at the bit to go for a global gallop, perhaps challenging his compatriot, nuclear war, to ride with him.

The second apocalyptic rider presents a more obvious problem as changes are already evident and understood for global warming, climate change, and environmental degradation in general. It is evident from anyone having lived long enough and been able to witness changes to their own environments. It is also evident from the ever increasing scientific awareness – regardless of the manipulations of self-interested deniers – gathering information from a wide range of signals: increasing carbon dioxide levels, species loss, ocean acidification, agricultural herbicides and pesticides among others. It has been a slow inexorable process to date but statistics pertaining to global temperatures, storm frequencies and sizes, insect species loss, epidemics of cancer, diabetes, and other diseases not caused by pathogens – which should not allow us to ignore the newer chemically resistant superbugs – are all cause for concern.

In my own lifetime of a baby boomer born after the Second World War, significant changes are obvious. I have witnessed the retreat of large glaciers from where I first encountered them in my youth. Forests once forever green have turned brown and then disappeared, partly as humans rush to salvage the bug infested wood, bugs no longer affected by seriously cold winter, and partly as forest fires rage through a much drier fuel source. The seasons are officially the same, but plants bloom earlier in the spring, stay green longer into the fall, and the seering cold of midwinter no longer cuts quite so harshly, if at all.

All of this could be somewhat reasonably argued as part of natural forces, but given the many other anecdotal reports combined with the preponderance of scientific knowledge saying yes, anthropogenic warming is happening, and more importantly, is happening at a rate unprecedented in geological or biological timelines. Importantly that only covers one aspect of environmental change and its future parameters are not truly known other than what is extrapolated from our current knowledge, a decidedly limited set of knowledge. Is there a tipping point beyond which “runaway” global heating will rapidly and drastically alter conditions for human survival? Will I see it in my lifetime, or will it be seen by the next generation, or the next…?

Other factors threaten the environment and human health. The human body is resilient but signs are showing of chemically related concerns for all of our systems – immune, circulatory, reproductive, and endocrine – with cancer attacking all parts of our body and other systemic diseases becoming more pronounced. The external environment suffers under the onslaught of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, and thousands of chemicals such as from white phosphorous, Agent Orange, Roundup, and Febreeze. Many earlier open air nuclear tests, several very large and many smaller nuclear power plant accidents and incidents have happened globally. Is it a surprise then that cancer rates have exploded along with the rise of the nuclear industry?

The third apocalyptic rider, nuclear war, has so far always held back. His weapons have been tested hundreds of times, and twice on civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a demonstrated threat of U.S. power against the Soviet Union. He is the swiftest and immediately deadliest of the three horsemen, a sprinter, not in it for the long run – when released everything will fall to him. Scenarios of limited war, survivable war, or winnable wars are simply absurd and not in his stable of tricks. Once the gates are dropped, nuclear war will override everything else.

Several underlying human features set the stage for some form of calamity involving one or a combination of all the riders. These factors include abstract geopolitical alignments and posturing, unregulated and unfettered capitalism (the prancing fancy show horse pretending to be a contender in control of the others…), corporate trade agreements, government protectionist policies, a variety of global institutions of formal but not official policy making think tanks, and the power of the private and more or less secretive groups such as the Davos and Bilderberg power festivals. But truly underlying all that is human greed, narcissism, hunger for power and also for affiliation and protection of like minded people with a range of social emotional skills ranging from outright psychopathy to a crafted dissonance accepting that while others have thoughts and feelings, they are too stupid, too ignorant, too irrelevant, too savage and primitive to be honoured with any rights or protections.

Certainly there are many positive human values but few if any of them seek out power, a few bravely speak truth to power, while the majority appear to want to wish it all away, to get on with their lives undisturbed and unperturbed by the sorrows of the many, the damaging and damning power of the few. This applies more in the “developed” world where comfort and complacency tend to rule, whereas the human condition in exploited regions of the world necessitates more awareness and more alertness to life’s situation.

We live in an age where material security – food, clothing, shelter – and material wealth could construct societies with little if any need or want, and then provide enrichment beyond what any of our ancestors could even conceive. In recognition of human frailties of the psychological kind, it is not to posit a utopia, but societies and cultures being able to explore their own development without outside interference. No interference, but in our world of many kinds of mass communication, a world of human interaction unbounded by the the threats of manipulations from outside.

That both denies and accepts the human condition. Human nature has through its natural growth developed not only material tools for survival, but also many psychological tools that are also used for survival. It is the latter, deeply embedded within our physiological, psychological, and cultural structures, creating our mix of human endeavours ranging from the artistically divine to the divinity of death.

Given how humanity inhabits a world of its own creation with the three horsemen of the apocalypse impatiently biding their time, it is sometimes difficult to see a future for humanity. Solutions present themselves, answers quite simple and plain. It is the implementation of the answers that will prove difficult. Implementing the answers is difficult partly because most of the people in the west do not want to give up their privileges, comforts, and entertainments of life. On top of this heap of complacency and incessant talk are the real power brokers – the politicians, banksters, corporate executives, and the military brass – who do not seem capable of ceding power and authority to a more egalitarian benign system.

In the face of the horsemen, the responses are clear. First, surrender all nuclear arms to a citizen/scientific body dedicated to their dismantlement, conventional armaments to follow later. Secondly, collapse the US$, float new currencies pegged to gold, and have a global debt jubilee for common citizens after the banksters have been rewarded generously for their fraud and manipulation. Finally change our energy sources from carbon to green, and do away with our consumer throw away economy. See! Simple answers, probably impossible to institute given human nature – leading me to believe humanity will have run its course much sooner rather than much later.

The entire text of Jim Miles book is available in E-book pdf format

Read full analysis here.

Energy / 🛢️ U.S. Tighten Noose Around Venezuela's Oil Industry
« on: June 08, 2019, 01:53:00 AM »

U.S. Tighten Noose Around Venezuela's Oil Industry
By Irina Slav - Jun 07, 2019, 9:30 AM CDT

Washington has tightened its grip on Venezuela by extending sanctions to companies supplying diluents to the South American country.

“We are tightening the loop on any potential workarounds on the standing sanctions that allow the Maduro regime to still find ways to exploit PDVSA as a cash cow,” one Washington official told Reuters, adding “The changing of the language [of the Venezuela sanctions statement] puts international companies on notice that any continued engagement or transactions they have with PDVSA selling diluents is at risk, or subject to future potential sanctions.”

The United States has been targeting Venezuela with increasing sanction pressure since January when President Nicolas Maduro was inaugurated for a second term in office after last year’s elections that the U.S. called illegitimate.

The sanctions have effectively put a stop to Venezuelan crude oil exports to U.S. refiners, which has happened at an increasingly inconvenient time for the latter: the crude oil produced closest to the Gulf Coast, in the Permian, is increasingly light, some of it bordering on superlight, and cannot be processed effectively at the refineries, which need heavy oil to blend the light with.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s oil exports slumped by 17 percent last month as a result of the sanctions. Between January and March 2019, Gulf Coast oil imports from the country in particular plummeted by 498,000 bpd to 47,000 bpd in March.

“That’s a big structural problem that’s not going to go away anytime soon. We’ve got this mismatch in the country,” one analyst told Reuters. “We’ve got refineries that want heavy oil and producers that make light oil.”

Even so, the tightening hold on Venezuela is unlikely to relax anytime soon. The U.S. was the first foreign government to throw its support behind Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has put in a lot of effort to spark mass protests against the Maduro government but without any actual success in removing said government.

By Irina Slav for

The Diner Pantry / 🐟 Cute Cambodian Cooks Carp
« on: June 07, 2019, 03:55:51 PM »
A Fish🐟 Friday Special treat!

Does she serve up Bearded Clam as well?  :icon_mrgreen:


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