Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Anti-Russian Sanctions Cost West Influence, Credibility, and $100 Billion

For nearly two years, independent journalists and analysts in the US and Europe have been saying that sanctions against Russia should be repealed. Now, surprisingly, even the hawkishly anti-Russian foreign policy journal Foreign Affairs has joined the chorus, a recent article suggesting that sanctions have been nothing but a costly mistake.
The comprehensive analysis, written by CATO Institute Visiting Fellow Emma Ashford, offers few kind words for Russia or its leaders, using phrases like ‘Kremlin cronies’, and alluding to Russia’s ‘behavior’, as if the country was a child that needed to be taught a lesson. Nonetheless, as far as Western sanctions against Russia are concerned, Ashford laid down the truth. And the truth stings.
At first glance, the analyst suggested, “considering the dire state of Russia’s economy, [Western] sanctions might appear to be working. The value of the ruble has fallen by 76 percent against the dollar since the restrictions were imposed, and inflation for consumer goods hit 16 percent in 2015. That same year, the International Monetary Fund estimated, Russia’s GDP was to shrink by more than three percent.”
“In fact, however,” she notes, “Western policymakers got lucky: the sanctions coincided with the collapse of global oil prices, worsening, but not causing, Russia’s economic decline. The ruble’s exchange rate has tracked global oil prices more closely than any new sanctions, and many of the actions taken by the Russian government, including the slashing of the state budget, are similar to those it took when oil prices fell during the 2008 financial crisis.”
“The sanctions have inhibited access to Western financing, forcing Russian banks to turn to the government for help. This has run down the Kremlin’s foreign reserves and led the government to engage in various unorthodox financial maneuvers, such as allowing the state-owned oil company Rosneft to recapitalize itself from state coffers. Yet the Russian government has been able to weather the crisis by providing emergency capital to wobbling banks, allowing the ruble to float freely, and making targeted cuts to the state budget while providing financial stimulus through increased spending on pensions.”Therefore, Ashford points out, “even with continued low oil prices, the [IMF] expects that growth will return to the Russian economy in 2016, albeit at a sluggish 1.5 percent.”
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A ‘Problem’ Worth Addressing by Steve Sailer

As a Christmas present, I received the book version of The Hard Problem, the latest play by Sir Tom Stoppard. It’s the great Tory playwright’s first new work for the stage since his Rock ’n’ Roll in 2006.
Granted, it’s perfectly reasonable to complain that a playwright who is best enjoyed in two stages—first reading the book at home, then watching the play in the theater—is too much work for what is supposed to be a relaxing evening out. Still, Stoppard has been an ornament of our civilization for a half century (his Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead debuted in 1966), and he works awfully hard to make his plays as simple as possible. (But, as Einstein said, no simpler.)
I’ve been reading Stoppard’s plays for forty years now. Despite the new work’s seemingly foreboding highbrow subject matter—the title refers to the “hard problem of consciousness” formulated by philosopher David Chalmers—this may be the most lucid and serene of all of Stoppard’s works. It’s not as ambitious or as emotionally resonant as Stoppard’s 1993 masterpiece Arcadia, but then what play is? Nonetheless, it offers the most straightforward introduction to Stoppard’s work since his 1982 romantic dramedy The Real Thing, which preceded his turn toward science as subject matter in the late 1980s.
The bickering neurobiologists of The Hard Problem return to the moral philosophy questions—Does God exist? What is virtue? How can free will be reconciled with the study of nature and nurture? Can altruism exist without consciousness?—that were argued with such manic wit by rival academic philosophers in his 1972 farce Jumpers.
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Genius mayor explains why 2,000 teens rioted at Kentucky mall -- Ignoring the 600-pound gorilla in the room, the mayor of St. Matthews, Ky. says he knows why 2,000 "teens" ran riot through a shopping mall in his community.

Mayor Rick Tonini says social media and boredom are to blame, according to

The mayhem began about 7 pm Saturday evening and continued for about one hour.

Local media failed to profile the teen rioters by race, but did profile them by age group. Most media also refused to publish photos or videos of the rioters, though such are accessible via the Internet. (see video below.)

Although reports say the teens were pounding each other, the mayor said they were just being noisy. The mayor was explaining why violent "teens" were not arrested. We suspect the mayor and police department feared being labeled "racist" if hundreds of black teens were arrested, causing us to wonder if the motto, To protect and the serve, applies to police in St. Matthews.  Chances are a white person is more likely to be arrested for speeding than a black for rioting in St. Matthews.

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Parking the Big Money by Cass R. Sunstein

A beach in the Virgin Islands, which, along with countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg, are a notorious tax haven for the wealthy
In some circles, “redistribution” of wealth has become a dirty word, and recent efforts to make the tax system more progressive have run into serious political resistance, above all from Republicans. But whatever your political party, you are unlikely to approve of the illegal use of tax havens. As it turns out, a lot of wealthy people in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere have been hiding money in foreign countries—above all, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Virgin Islands. As a result, they have been able to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. Until recently, however, officials have not known the magnitude of that problem.
But people are paying increasing attention to it. A vivid new documentary, The Price We Pay, connects tax havens, inequality, and insufficient regulation of financial transactions. The film makes a provocative argument that a new economic elite—wealthy managers and holders of capital—is now able to operate on a global scale, outside the constraints of any legal framework. In a particularly chilling moment, it shows one of the beneficiaries of the system cheerfully announcing on camera: “I don’t feel any remorse about not paying taxes. I think it’s a marvelous way in life.”
Gabriel Zucman, who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley, has two goals in his new book, The Hidden Wealth of Nations: to specify the costs of tax havens, and to figure out how to reduce those costs. While much of his analysis is technical, he writes with moral passion, even outrage; he sees tax havens as a “scourge.” His figures are arresting. About 8 percent of the world’s wealth, or $7.6 trillion, is held in tax havens. In 2015, Switzerland alone held $2.3 trillion in foreign wealth. As a result of fraud from unreported foreign accounts, governments around the world lose about $200 billion in tax revenue each year. Most of this amount comes from the evasion of taxes on investment income, but a significant chunk comes from fraud on inheritances. In the United States, the annual tax loss is $35 billion; in Europe, it is $78 billion. In African nations, it is $14 billion.
The fractions of wealth held abroad are highly variable. In Europe, it is about 10 percent. In African and Latin countries, it is much higher—between 20 percent and 30 percent. In Russia, it is a whopping 52 percent. It follows that while tax havens hit wealthy nations hardest in absolute terms, they can have especially destructive effects on poorer or developing countries, because such a high percentage of their money is offshore. Zucman does not explain why this is so, but it is possible to speculate that one reason is rampant corruption within both the public and private sectors. The extraordinarily high figure for Russia might be best understood as involving money corruptly acquired or invested, which suggests an important point: all uses of tax havens are not the same. Sometimes government officials are the ones who are evading taxes, and they do not want to stop that evasion.
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Detroit: The Death of White Civilisation

Anyone who doubts the long-term effect of the swamping of the First World by the Third, need look no further than Detroit, where a new report has revealed that almost half of all adults in the city are “functionally illiterate” and essentially unable to operate in normal society. The report, issued by the “Detroit Regional Workforce Fund” (a government-private sector partnership organisation set up by race-blind liberals), said that the “National Institute for Literacy estimates that 47% of adults in Detroit are functionally illiterate, referring to the inability of an individual to use reading, speaking, writing, and computational skills in everyday life situations.
“Generally, those adults who score at Level 1 (on a scale of 1 to 5, lowest to highest) have difficulty performing such everyday tasks as locating an intersection on a street map, reading and comprehending a short newspaper article, or calculating total costs on an order form,” it continued.
The report admitted that the shocking illiteracy levels could not be explained solely by a lack of high school education.
“We also know that of the 200,000 adults who are functionally illiterate, approximately half have a high school diploma or GED, so this issue cannot be solely addressed by a focus on adult high-school completion,” the baffled liberals said.
In addition, the report said, these figures are “aggregates and communicate a city-wide issue. We also know some neighborhoods and census tracts within the city have more significant concentrations of adults who are functionally illiterate and/or lack educational credentials.”
The report ignores the obvious: Detroit is now a “black” city, and has been utterly destroyed after the whites were driven out by a combination of horrendous black crime levels, collapsing standards and an inefficient bureaucracy. In a nutshell, whites have found it impossible to live in an area where there is no longer any semblance of functioning modern white western society.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Soviet Officer Uniform

Pentagon US won’t share info on ISIL with Russia

Hounding the Bear: Hybrid Methodology of Containing Russia by NINA KOUPRIANOVA

Bear-hounding is a hunting technique, in which a pack of dogs pursues a bear until exhaustion—at that point the hunter can make his kill. And that is to what Karen Shakhnazarov, a well-known Russian filmmaker of Armenian origin, compared Russia’s predicament in the current geopolitical situation.
russian bear cartoon
As the Tariff-War Must End, Udo Keppler, Puck, U.S., 1901. Source: LOC.
The bear analogy in Russia’s case is a contrived and, often, derogatory image describing the barbaric Other outside the West. It has deep historic roots, as literary and artistic examples indicate. But it is also one that works metaphorically. As a large continental power spanning Eurasia including some of the coldest places on earth—one with nuclear capabilities—Russia is not unlike the bear. In fact, many Russians themselves have reappropriated this comparison.
Even President Vladimir Putin has used it on a number of occasions.
I gave an example at the so-called Valdai Club remembering our most recognizable symbol, the bear, that guards our taiga. If we follow through with this analogy, then I sometimes wonder whether our bear should, perhaps, sit quietly instead of chasing pigs and piglets throughout the taiga, eating berries and honey. Perhaps, then he would be left alone. [But t]hey won’t leave him alone, because they’re always trying to chain him up. And as soon as they’re able to put him on a chain, they’ll pull out his teeth and declaw him. In today’s context, this is the power of nuclear deterrence. As soon as, God forbid, this happens, and the bear is no longer needed, they’ll appropriate the taiga.
In the past few of years, as Russia made its return to the global arena, the number of such “bear-hounding” episodes has dramatically increased. They have become even more frequent in the past two months alone since a terrorist bomb exploded on Russia’s airbus over the Sinai Peninsula. These episodes range in scope and scale and include fields as diverse as sports and the media, or the downing of the Russian bomber jet by the Turkish government. Some of them were preplanned, others—used opportunistically post-factum for propaganda purposes, but most are part of the general strategic trajectory of containing and weakening what has been dubbed as ‘resurgent‘ Russia.
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War Is Realizing the Israelizing of the World Divide, Conquer, Colonize by Dan Sanchez

As US-driven wars plummet the Muslim world ever deeper into jihadi-ridden failed state chaos, events seem to be careening toward a tipping point. Eventually, the region will become so profuse a font of terrorists and refugees, that Western popular resistance to “boots on the ground” will be overwhelmed by terror and rage. Then, the US-led empire will finally have the public mandate it needs to thoroughly and permanently colonize the Greater Middle East.
It is easy to see how the Military Industrial Complex and crony energy industry would profit from such an outcome. But what about America’s “best friend” in the region? How does Israel stand to benefit from being surrounded by such chaos?
Tel Aviv has long pursued a strategy of “divide and conquer”: both directly, and indirectly through the tremendous influence of the Israel lobby and neocons over US foreign policy.
A famous article from the early 1980s by Israeli diplomat and journalist Oded Yinon is most explicit in this regard. The “Yinon Plan” calls for the “dissolution” of “the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula.” Each country was to be made to “fall apart along sectarian and ethnic lines,” after which each resulting fragment would be “hostile” to its neighbors.” Yinon incredibly claimed that:
“This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run”
According to Yinon, this Balkanization should be realized by fomenting discord and war among the Arabs:
“Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon.”
Sowing discord among Arabs had already been part of Israeli policy years before Yinon’s paper.

How a rebellious scientist uncovered the surprising truth about stereotypes written by Claire Lehmann

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.51.56 pm
The Sydney Symposium
At the back of a small room at Coogee Beach, Sydney, I sat watching as a psychologist I had never heard of paced the room gesticulating. His voice was loud. Over six feet tall, his presence was imposing. It was Lee Jussim. He had come to the Sydney Symposium of Social Psychology to talk about left-wing bias in social psychology.
Left-wing bias, he said, was undermining his field. Graduate students were entering the field in order to change the world rather than discover truths1. Because of this, he said, the field was riddled with flaky research and questionable theories.
Jussim’s talk began with one of the most egregious examples of bias in recent years. He drew the audience’s attention to the paper: “NASA faked the moon landing – therefore (climate) science is a hoax.” The study was led by Stephan Lewandowsky, and published in Psychological Science in 2013. The paper argued that those who believed that the moon landing was a hoax also believed that climate science was a fraud. The abstract stated:
We…show that endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the CIA killed Martin-Luther King or that NASA faked the moon landing) predicts rejection of climate science as well as the rejection of other scientific findings above and beyond commitment to laissez-faire free markets. This provides confirmation of previous suggestions that conspiracist ideation contributes to the rejection of science.
After describing the study and reading the abstract, Jussim paused. Something big was coming.
“But out of 1145 participants, only ten agreed that the moon landing was a hoax!” he said. “Of the study’s participants, 97.8% who thought that climate science was a hoax, did not think that the moon landing also a hoax.”
His fellow psychologists shifted in their seats. Jussim pointed out that the level of obfuscation the authors went to, in order to disguise their actual data, was intense. Statistical techniques appeared to have been chosen that would hide the study’s true results. And it appeared that no peer reviewers, or journal editors, took the time, or went to the effort of scrutinizing the study in a way that was sufficient to identify the bold misrepresentations.
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Israel gets $3.1 Billion “Aid” from Bankrupt USA

The power of the Jewish lobby over the American government was dramatically demonstrated this past week with the passing of an omnibus spending measure which included a massive $3.1 billion “aid” to Israel—even though the US national debt stands at in excess of $18 trillion.
The Israeli-based Times of Israel could hardly contain its glee in reporting that the US Congress had earmarked $487 million for Israel’s missile defense and $40 million for a new tunnel detection program, remarking in its headline that “Nobody in Obama administration [is] looking for a fight with Israel in 2016.”
The package passed by the House with a 316 to 113 vote, and the Senate with a 65 to 33 vote, contained a number of measures, not only that of aid to Israel. This caused the split in the voting pattern—something which would not have occurred had the bill been for aid to Israel alone.
According to the Times of Israel, the passing of the aid package earned “accolades from the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee.”
The Times of Israel also ungratefully pointed out that this year’s “aid” package allocated $132 million less to Israeli missile defense than that of the previous year, as the “US provided $619 million in 2015 toward the Iron Dome program, the Arrow 3 long-range interceptor program and David’s Sling mid-range rocket interceptors.”
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Sheldon Adelson's Jewish Media Secret Revealed by Josh Nathan-Kazis

Sheldon Adelson, who was unmasked in mid-December as the secret buyer of Nevada’s largest newspaper, has another media secret.
The Forward has learned that Adelson’s family foundation is the largest single funder behind, a Jewish news service that serves a growing number of American Jewish news organizations. Newspapers that subscribed to the service told the Forward that they had not known its prime backer’s identity — until now. has exclusive U.S. distribution rights to the Adelson-owned right-wing Israeli daily Israel HaYom, yet the nature of the relationship between Adelson and the newswire has, until now, been obscure. When asked by the Forward in 2013, JNS’s publisher, Russel Pergament, would not say whether or not the newswire was funded directly by Adelson.
Now, tax documents reveal that the Adelson Family Foundation has committed at least $1.2 million to JNS. The first grant of $300,000, given in 2013, amounted to 65% of JNS’s revenue that year. Adelson’s foundation gave another $450,000 in 2014, and said that year that it had committed an additional $450,000 to JNS for future payment.
In an email, Pergament said he did not recall whether the Adelson grant was made before or after his June 2013 interview with the Forward. “There is no secret as to which foundations provide funds,” he wrote. It is “their decision to announce [a grant] or not.”
Publishers and editors with six local Jewish newspapers that subscribe to JNS told the Forward that they did not know who the newswire’s major funder was. “It’s surprising, but I’m not upset, because it’s not something I asked,” said Jackie Headapohl, editor of the Detroit Jewish News. Headapohl said that her paper does not use JNS’s opinion content.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Immigration Insurance by Steve Sailer

I average over 400 comments per day over on my iSteve blog on the Unz Review. One advantage of reading all of them is that ideas are dropped in my lap that I wouldn’t hear anywhere else. For example, after the San Bernardino massacre earlier this month, when Americans were beginning to wonder how the jihadi bride was let into the country, a pseudonymous commenter, Pittsburgh Thatcherite, offered a policy suggestion I’d never seen before for dealing more fairly with the costs imposed on Americans by immigration.
Of course, the expenses of excessive immigration extend far beyond the San Bernardino atrocity or the Boston Marathon bombing to the mundane costs that poorly selected immigrants impose upon emergency rooms, public schools, and the like. Therefore, Pittsburgh Thatcherite noted:
Some immigrants inflict large costs on a nation by heavily utilizing government services such as unemployment benefits, prisons, hospitals and schools. These dysfunctional immigrants reduce the quality of life in a nation by increasing crime and raising taxes. How can a nation protect itself from these costs?
Each immigrant should be required to purchase insurance from an insurer before they enter a nation.
Think of immigration as being like driving. If you are going to go hurtling about the landscape in a multiton projectile, it’s only fair to others that you demonstrate that you are able to pay for any damage you might do. Thus, practically every state requires car owners to have driver’s insurance or otherwise post bond in some kind of quasi-insurance system. (Similarly, Mexico famously forces American tourists to buy car insurance from a Mexican firm when driving across the border, with harsh penalties if this law is flouted.)
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Straw Dogs (1971)

While I would not call myself a connoisseur since I have, quite regrettably, only seen a small fraction of the films in his apparently somewhat uneven oeuvre, I have much respect for true western auteur Sam Peckinpah (The Wild BunchBring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) simply on the basis of the fact that he was a rare macho and rampantly heterosexual Hollywood filmmaker that, as both a man and an artist, made John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Clint Eastwood seem like prosaic pussies by comparison.  In fact, I consider Peckinpah to be one of the few filmmakers in Hollywood history that represented the real America as a genuinely fierce fellow that was descended from western frontiersmen and not some semi-Asiatic momma's boy whose ancestors hailed from an Eastern Europe ghetto like so many of the filmmakers and producers in Tinseltown.  Indeed, Peckinpah may have been one of those countless moronic white Americans who made fanciful claims of imagined injun blood and described himself as a “liberal democrat,” but his film unequivocally gush a sort of visceral and unadulterated masculinity that is totally absent from virtually all forms of cinema nowadays. Certainly, if the film world has ever had an Ambrose Bierce, it was most certainly Peckinpah as a sort of ruthless and bitter warrior-poet who was largely molded as both a man and artist as a result of his wartime experiences. When Hebraic intellectual and TV host Clifton Fadiman stated of the sardonic writer, “Bierce was never a great writer. He has painful faults of vulgarity and cheapness of imagination. But... his style, for one thing, will preserve him; and the purity of his misanthropy, too, will help to keep him alive,” he might as well have been talking about Peckinpah, who may have been no Bergman but confirmed his place in cinema history with the unmistakably sincere hatred, contempt, and cynicism for humanity that he captured on celluloid. While I tend to prefer Peckinpah’s more flawed works like his wickedly wayward Wehrmacht flick Cross of Iron (1977), which the auteur notably turned down future blockbusters like King Kong (1976) and Superman (1978) to direct, I have to agree with most people in saying that Straw Dogs (1971) is one of his best, if not his best, film, though I suspect I like it for somewhat different reasons than most people, at least thematically speaking. The oftentimes much maligned story of an exceedingly unlikable, pretentious, arrogant, and pathologically passive-aggressive American mathematician of the small, short, swarthy, and physically weak sort who relocates to the backward rural hometown of his English wife and who is ultimately forced to fight to the death for his and his less than beloved spouse’s life as a result of tensions he largely provoked due to his pompous and passive-aggressive dealings with a motley crew of construction workers that he hired to work on his garage, Peckinpah's wonderfully morbid masterpiece is a film that not surprisingly upset countless left-wing film critics upon its release because it revealed that even smug NYC intellectual types have a capacity for unhinged ultra-violence and bloodthirsty murder.  Indeed, if you have ever wondered how some of the biggest mass murderers of the twentieth-century were weak and frail Jewish intellectuals like Leon Trotsky, Straw Dogs certainly gives some hints, even if that was not Peckinpah's intention, as a truly shocking cinematic work that reveals that puny passive pushovers oftentimes have an uncontrollable fury of seething rage and hatred hidden beneath their pathetic exteriors as a result of having no outlet for all the hatred and aggression that has built up inside of them after a lifetime of cowardice in the face of hostility.

The kids are alright

If conservatives have a disease, it is that they want to be liberals. They desire the same thing liberals have: one ring to rule them all, and one ring to bind them, or an ideology that they can strum like a magic harp and have masses mobilized at their bidding.
Unfortunately, conservatism is incompatible with this idea. But they keep chasing that dream of power. Mainstream conservatives try to be liberals who like bombing things, as the disastrous Republican debate showed, and conservative media focuses on “outrage culture” instead of substantive issues.
Outrage culture is easily identifiable because it consists of egregious events about which it is easy to moralize, but about which nothing can really be done save something angry like hanging the people involved. Rather, outrage culture prizes events which require no action more than throwing beer cans at the television screen and talking with others “in the know” about how, you know, crazy it all is.

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Putin and Israel – A Complex and Multi-Layered Relationship by THE SAKER

The recent murder of Samir Kuntar by Israel has, yet again, inflamed the discussion about Putin’s relation to Israel. This is an immensely complicated topic and those who like simple, canned, “explanations” should stop reading right now. The truth is, the relationship between Russia and Israel and, even before that, between Jews and Russians would deserve an entire book. In fact, Alexander Solzhenitsyn has written exactly such a book, it is entitled “200 years together”, but due to the iron grip of the Zionists on the Anglo media, it has still not been translated into English. That should already tell you something right there – an author acclaimed worldwide who got the Nobel Prize for literature cannot get his book translated into English because its contents might undermine the official narrative about Russian-Jewish relations in general and about the role Jews played in Russian 20th century politics in particular! What other proof of the reality of the subordination of the former British Empire to Zionists interest does one need?
I have already written about this topic in the past and, at the very least, I will ask you to read the following two background articles before continuing to read:
Before looking into some of the idiosyncrasies of the Russian-Israeli relationship I want to stress one very important thing: you should not simply assume that the relationship between Jews and non-Jews in Russia is similar to what it is in the West. This is not the case. Without going through a detailed discussion of the emancipation of Jews in the West and their long track from their rabbi-run shtetls to the boardrooms of the biggest western corporations, I will just say that for Russian Jews this process of emancipation happened in a much more violent and catastrophic way. The second big difference between western Jews and Russian Jews is that roughly between 1917 and 1939 a specific subset of Jews (Bolshevik Jews) were in quasi total control of Russia. During that period the Bolshevik Jews persecuted Russians and, especially, Orthodox Christians with a truly genocidal hate. This is a fact of history which most Russians are very much aware of, even if this is still considered crimethink in most western circles. It is also important to stress here that the Bolshevik Jews persecuted not only Orthodox Christians, but all religious groups, including, by the way, Judaics. Putin is very much aware of all these facts which he addressed when speaking to a group of Judaics in Moscow:
In the 2nd article mentioned above I discussed these issues and all I want to do know is to show you that Putin is very much aware of this past and that he has the courage and intellectual honesty to remind Russian Jews of it.
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'Leftover Women' reveals unequal shares of China’s growing wealth By Dan Southerland

Mao Zedong's communist party was set to modernize the rights and roles of women in China. However, within years of taking power, the party stopped its efforts – leaving Chinese women facing societal gender bias even as China rises as a dominant power. 

Shortly after Mao Zedong took power in China in 1949, it appeared that he would follow through on promises to “liberate” the country’s women. Mao had already proclaimed that “women hold up half the sky.”
And Communist Party officials introduced a marriage law in 1950 that abolished arranged marriages and the purchase of girl brides, allowed women to divorce, and gave women new rights to inherit property. But several years after the new law was introduced, officials retreated from efforts to enforce parts of it after meeting resistance from tradition-minded parents and parents-in-law.
In her thoroughly documented book Leftover Women, sociologist Leta Hong Fincher shows in vivid detail how women in China have suffered a rollback since those early days, especially when it comes to property rights.
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Monday, December 21, 2015

Awakening from the nightmare of democracy

Across America and Europe, people are slowly awakening from the mental haze of illusions, propaganda and false promises offered to them by democracy. They are re-learning the lesson of ancient Athens, which is that once you go democratic, you get rich but your society self-destructs.
People are beginning to see the split between what they are told is true, and what is actually true. This is leading them to see how they are sold on certain “wants” as “needs,” and this has caused them to spend recklessly on the non-essential while neglecting the essential, which is the condition of our civilization and its future.
For years democracy trapped them in the dream. Follow us, and be Enlightened™. On this new path, you will be more moral than the kings, more powerful than the lords, and the master of your own future, beholden to none! While some glimpsed the demonic nature of this promised control, few had the bravery to confront the massively popular illusions with hard truths that were difficult to explain and understood by only a few.
Thanks to the relentless incompetence, greed and gift-giving of our rulers, we have learned that all the free stuff and good feelings came at a price. Namely, our societies do not feel healthy as they one did, but stand revealed as moribund dystopian wastelands waiting for the final fall into permanent third-world, mixed-race, cultureless and brainless status.
Imagine Idiocracy meets Blade Runner: a devastated landscape of heavy industry, ruling over a population from the low-IQ lands of the third world, mixed into a featureless grey mass that wants nothing except more food, drugs, porn, alcohol and gadgets to distract itself with. Surrounded by an environment that was ruined as it was displaced by the growing society, it is a perpetual future of existential misery but infinite ways of concealing the problem.
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The IMF Changes Its Rules to Isolate China and Russia by MICHAEL HUDSON

As Russia and Asia move to circumvent the stranglehold of an aging, U.S. dominated international financial and legal system with its promise of endless austerity and privatization by foreign investors, the IMF and World Bank double-down by making it more difficult for them to transact business and administer credit.
A nightmare scenario of U.S. geopolitical strategists is coming true: foreign independence from U.S.-centered financial and diplomatic control. China and Russia are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian integration on the basis of financing in their own currencies and favoring their own exports. They also have created the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an alternative military alliance to NATO.[1] And the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) threatens to replace the IMF and World Bank tandem in which the United States holds unique veto power.
More than just a disparity of voting rights in the IMF and World Bank is at stake. At issue is a philosophy of development. U.S. and other foreign investment in infrastructure (or buyouts and takeovers on credit) adds interest rates and other financial charges to the cost structure, while charging prices as high as the market can bear (think of Carlos Slim’s telephone monopoly in Mexico, or the high costs of America’s health care system), and making their profits and monopoly rents tax-exempt by paying them out as interest.
By contrast, government-owned infrastructure provides basic services at low cost, on a subsidized basis, or freely. That is what has made the United States, Germany and other industrial lead nations so competitive over the past few centuries. But this positive role of government is no longer possible under World Bank/IMF policy. The U.S. promotion of neoliberalism and austerity is a major reason propelling China, Russia and other nations out of the U.S. diplomatic and banking orbit.
On December 3, 2015, Prime Minister Putin proposed that Russia “and other Eurasian Economic Union countries should kick-off consultations with members of the SCO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a possible economic partnership.”[2] Russia also is seeking to build pipelines to Europe through friendly secular countries instead of Sunni jihadist U.S.-backed countries locked into America’s increasingly confrontational orbit.
Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov points out that when Russia’s 2013 loan to Ukraine was made, at the request of Ukraine’s elected government, Ukraine’s “international reserves were barely enough to cover three months’ imports, and no other creditor was prepared to lend on terms acceptable to Kiev. Yet Russia provided $3 billion of much-needed funding at a 5 per cent interest rate, when Ukraine’s bonds were yielding nearly 12 per cent.”[3]
What especially annoys U.S. financial strategists is that this loan by Russia’s National Wealth Fund was protected by IMF lending practice, which at that time ensured collectability by withholding credit from countries in default of foreign official debts, or at least not bargaining in good faith to pay. To cap matters, the bonds are registered under London’s creditor-oriented rules and courts.
Most worrisome to U.S. strategists is that China and Russia are denominating their trade and investment in their own currencies instead of dollars. After U.S. officials threatened to derange Russia’s banking linkages by cutting it off from the SWIFT interbank clearing system, China accelerated its creation of the alternative China International Payments System (CIPS), and its own credit card system to protect Eurasian economies from the threats made by U.S. unilateralists.

Trump Is the Good Guy by CONRAD BLACK

It is time to look more seriously at the Donald Trump presidential candidacy. He continues to lead the polls among Republicans; his closest rivals seem now to be Senators Mario Rubio and Ted Cruz, easing ahead of Dr. Ben Carson. There does not seem to have been much effort to see the Trump candidacy in any sort of historic context. For the first time in its history, the United States has had four, and arguably five, consecutive terms of unsuccessful federal government, from administrations and Congresses of both parties. The last Clinton term under-reacted to the original terrorist incidents at the Khobar Towers (1996), the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam embassies (1998) and the USS Cole (in 2000); and stoked up the housing bubble through the Community Reinvestment Act and executive orders to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to invest massively in sub-prime mortgages. George W. Bush responded well to terrorism, and his economic countermeasures were adequate after the 9/11 attacks, but he did nothing to let the air gently out of the housing bubble, his response was contemptibly inept when the economic crisis erupted, and his intervention in Iraq was for unsubstantiated reasons and resulted in a major strategic victory for America’s Iranian enemies, a vast waste of lives and treasure, and an immense humanitarian crisis.

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The vengeance of the Vandals by James Panero

Little remains of the Basilica Aemilia in the Roman Forum save for its marble floor. Yet that floor tells its own story of the fall of the Roman Empire. Small circles, green and brown, blemish the light gray stone. The circles are not ordinary stains. These are the shadows of a cataclysm that shook Rome beginning on the night of August 23, 410 AD. The sack of Rome by Alaric and his army of Arian Goths broke the 800-year security of the walls of the Eternal City. Not since the Battle of the Allia in 390 BC, when the ancient Gauls descended on the Seven Hills, had the Pax Romana been so fundamentally challenged. As Alaric’s Goths swept through the city, fleeing merchants dropped and scattered their coins across the ground of the Basilica Aemilia, where they operated their shops. When the Goths looted and then burned the building, the heat of the fire calcinated the copper and bronze of the coins to the floor of the Basilica. Today those coins are still permanently affixed right where they fell.

Through the marks left by those coins, we can see how the merchants of the Basilica Aemilia no more anticipated the sack of Rome than we do the terrorist attacks on our own cities, whether New York or London or Paris, or Mumbai or Nairobi or Beirut, or any other center of free people. In an idle civilization, the prosperity and values of a Pax Romana or Pax Americana ultimately prove less appealing than we always assume, and one assault does little to prepare us for the next. Absent a fundamental reassertion of countervailing force, further attacks become not just a possibility but an inevitability.

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These Are the Tech Giants That Won 2015

Apple's retail store in the Pudong district of Shanghai.
RUNNING A BUSINESS is tough. But for some, the chance that one can leave their mark on the world—or, as Steve Jobs famously put it, “make a dent in the universe”—is wildly alluring. A few even manage to pull it off.
In 2015, a few tech companies did more than make a dent. They showed that technology now defines the terms of business. Sure, they also made billions. But more significantly, they forced the rest of the world to reckon with the ways they reshaped the landscape.

Amazon Controls the Cloud

Amazon is a 21-year-old company. Isn’t that crazy? Yet, despite being old enough to legally drink, Amazon has continued to follow the startup mantra of “growth before profits.” Until 2015, that is. This year, Amazon reached a pivotal moment in its history. It began to turn a profit—consistently.
But the biggest reason for that growth wasn’t retail (though that business was a strong performer, too). It was Amazon’s cloud.
In April, for the first time, Amazon broke out its Amazon Web Services revenue and revealed a massive $4.6 billion business—with really good margins. Amazon pioneered the idea of providing instant access to computing power over the Internet when it introduced AWS about a decade ago. Now, many businesses and developers rent out access instead of setting up their own machines. That’s slowly eaten away at the businesses of a handful of entrenched tech giants—the so-called “walking dead” of tech. And while Amazon’s cloud is now facing challenges from similar services offered by the likes of Microsoft and Google, Jeff Bezos and company haveestablished an enormous lead in a market that could be worth$191 billion by 2020.

Netflix Wins on Hollywood’s Terms

This year, Netflix became much more than a cord-cutting alternative to watching TV. The company first stepped into the realm of original content to challenge HBO’s premium fare when it acquired the high-profile House of Cards in 2011. But 2015 it really went all-in on original programming. Today, its portfolio includes documentaries, comedy specials,variety showsoriginal movies (ones that generate Oscar buzz), and drama series. Its slate now dwarfs the offerings of both Amazon and Hulu.
In short, Netflix is killing it. But what’s perhaps most interesting about the fact that Netflix is winning is that it’s not exactly winning at being a tech company—though it doesrely on user data to engineer audience hits. It’s winning on TV and Hollywood’s terms. Netflix dominated the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and the Emmys this awards season. Along with critics, shareholders are also very pleased.
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