Monday,  July 31, 2017

Discovery Communications announces it will acquire Scripps Networks Interactive for US$ 14.6 billion. (CNBC)

Qatar files a legal complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning the embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates in June. The parties have 60 days to settle the complaint to avoid WTO litigation. (Reuters)

Newly-appointed White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly fires Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci less than ten days after Scaramucci took up his post.  (BBC)

 Sunday,  July  30, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin expels 755 United States diplomats in response to new sanctions imposed by the United States. (Al Jazeera)

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces sentences on seven verdicts of misusing billions of dollars in government funds while in office, the Supreme Audit Court public prosecutor said. If confirmed, Ahmadinejad will be barred from public office for seven years. (Reuters)

Adrián Beltré of the Texas Rangers becomes the 31st player with 3,000 career hits in Major League Baseball, reaching the milestone with a fourth-inning double in the Rangers’ 10–6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Beltré is the first Dominican-born player to reach the milestone. (ESPN)

2016 Saturday,  Jul 29,  2017

The Charles Kuonen Bridge in the Swiss Alps in Randa, Switzerland, opens. At 1,621 feet (494 meters), it is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world. (CNN)

 Friday,  Jul 28, 2017


U.S. Appeals Court Judge Patricia Millett rejects the Federal Aviation Administration argument that seat size is unimportant when passengers exit a plane in an emergency, and orders the FAA to set minimum standards for the space airlines give passengers. (Reuters) (Bloomberg)

North Korea launches an intercontinental ballistic missile that flies 620 miles horizontally in about 45 minutes, landing in the Sea of Japan, according to Japan, South Korea and the United States. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump announces Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly will be White House Chief of Staff, replacing Reince Priebus. (ABC News)

 Thursday, Jul 27,  2017

Ukraine’s domestic intelligence service, the SBU, reports that the March 2017 explosions at Balakliia military base in Eastern Ukraine were caused by a drone carrying a ZMG-1 thermite grenade. The explosions resulted in 1 death and 5 injuries. (Popular Mechanics)

France nationalises the STX Europe-owned Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, Pays de la Loire, to prevent Italian shipbuilding firm Fincantieritaking majority control. Italian Minister of Economy and Finances Pier Carlo Padoan calls the French decision to nationalise the shipyard “grave and incomprehensible”. (Reuters)

A new study, published in the The BMJ medical journal, finds that electronic cigarettes may help smokers stop their habit. The researchers found that a substantial increase in e-cigarette use among American adult smokers was associated with a statistically significant increase in the smoking cessation rate. (ABC News) (The BMJ)

 Wednesday,  Jul 26, 2017

According to the Defense Ministry, between 26 and 30 military personnel are dead and over 80 Taliban militants have been either killed or wounded amid intense fighting at a military base in Kandahar Province. (Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty)

United States President Donald Trump tweets that transgender Americans will not be allowed to serve “in any capacity” in the United States Armed Forces. (The Hill)

The United States Senate rejects “repeal only” propositions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. United States President Donald Trump lashes out at Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who voted against the proposal. (The New York Times)

Tuesday,   July 25, 2017

Michael Kors buys Jimmy Choo for US$1.2 billion. (The New York Times)

Following a similar move in France, the United Kingdom is to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 in order to reduce air pollution. A new tax will also be levied on diesel car drivers in 2020. (Sky News)

A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, finds that 99 percent of the brains donated for scientific research by deceased National Football League players show signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the disease identified in autopsies of numerous NFL players who have committed suicide, and the subject of the 2015 movie Concussion(Reuters)  (JAMA)

The United States Navy says the USS Thunderbolt fired a warning shot at an Iranian patrol boat after it came within 150 yards of the U.S. ship. (ABC News)

The U.S. House of Representatives votes in favor of economic sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and against Iran and North Korea for their weapons programs. (The Washington Post)




I could see this happening as it was happening in 2011-13 by reading people like Gareth Porter. If I could see it, Obama could see it – he’s a smart guy. So he he has no excuses, he gets no pass. Obama just wanted to get paid and leave town.

How CIA and Allies Trapped Obama in the Syrian Arms Debacle
And why it ultimately benefitted terrorists like Al Qaeda.
By GARETH PORTER • July 27, 2017

One of the keys to understanding its origins is that the program was launched not because of a threat to U.S. security, but because of a perceived opportunity. That is always a danger sign, prompting powerful national-security bureaucrats to begin thinking about a “win” for the United States. (Think Vietnam and Iraq.)


The payoffs of U.S. alliances in the Middle East have centered on the military bases in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar that allow the Pentagon and the military brass to plan and execute military operations that guarantee extraordinary levels of military spending. But enormous Saudi arms purchases and the financing of any covert operations the CIA doesn’t wish to acknowledge to Congress have long been prime benefits for those powerful organizations and their senior officials.


But for a second time, Obama also agreed to a CIA program of helping to arm the anti-Assad forces; it was a way of placating his own national security apparatus and U.S. allies while avoiding an open commitment to the war.


The reason was simple: Powerful national security bureaucracies were threatening to blame Obama for the failure of their heroic effort to save the anti-Assad war.

The lesson of the entire affair is clear: A malignant alliance between powerful national security bureaucracies and the Middle Eastern allies with whom they enjoy mutually profitable relations are pressuring the White House to approve actions that threaten the real interests of the American people—including strengthening terrorists. The only way to reverse that situation is to direct public attention to that malignant alliance of interests, which has thus far gotten a free ride.

Bolding mine. “Powerful national security bureaucracies” is, I believe, Gareth Porter’s way of saying The Deep State.


Why Zuckerberg and Musk Are Fighting About the Robot Future
It looks like the two tech titans are arguing about AI’s impact on humanity. Really they’re protecting their personal brands.

I’ve argued before that “artificial intelligence” has become so overused that the term is almost meaningless. Like “algorithm” before it, technologists, businesspeople, and journalists wield the idea like a magic wand that turns ordinary computer software and devices into world-saving (or world-ending) marvels. And given AI’s long history of wonder and dread in science fiction, people are primed to expect it to usher in utopia or dystopia.

Apocalypse Soon

First. Some basics.

Everything is dependent on oil. Crude oil. The United States and China use the most oil. The United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia with its neighbors produce the most oil. This will not change much in the coming decades.

The United States is more an empire than a nation. It is hegemon over most of the globe outside Russia’s sphere, China, North Korea, and Iran.

The President of the United States is not really a leader, at least they haven’t been leaders for some time. They are more a scapegoat.

Everything revolves around the oil under Saudi Arabia. Mother Earth is continually producing crude oil, but she takes millions of years to do it. Quick in deep time. Slow in human terms. So far, two trillion barrels of crude oil have been produced and sit in reservoirs – 5,000, 10,000, 15,000 feet underground.

“Created” may be a better word. From here on out “produce” will refer to human extraction of oil from the ground.

Edwin Drake discovered oil in 1859 near Titusville, Pennsylvania. In the century-and-a-half since this discovery humans have consumed roughly half of those two trillion barrels.

Currently we produce and consume 95 million barrels of oil per day. Or about 80 million barrels of actual crude oil per day and another 15 million barrels of various by products and oil liquids per day that contain roughly half the energy content but are still fully part of the overall process to produce petroleum products necessary to maintain modern human existence.

Using the lower figure of 80 mbpd (what is called “crude oil including lease condensate” in the industry), we are using 29 billion barrels per year.

Simple math, assuming one trillion or 1,000 billion barrels of oil left in the ground, gives us, that is to say the human race – all seven plus billion of us – 35 years left at this level of oil consumption. And then it is lights out.

Yeah. I know what you are thinking.

But no surprises here. Some of us have been aware of these uncomfortable numbers for a couple decades now. The numbers don’t change. They come back the same every year.

The reaction of almost everybody presented with this information is to argue points they have gotten from CNN or the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal and then change the subject to something inane, like themselves. The cognitive dissonance is too great. People see what they believe. And they believe in progress. The end of the world as they know it and the end of growth is too much for Americans to handle. Easier to use Donald Trump as a scapegoat for everything that is “wrong” in the world.

But, again, the numbers don’t change. They come back the same every year. Whether you get them from BP or from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency (EIA) or from the International Energy Association (IEA), they all tell the same story. We are running out of oil, what is left is mostly under the Middle East, as we run out the human population will be forced to downsize, it probably will not be pretty, and we are not really planning for any of this.

What we do is tell ourselves nice things about “progress” and scientific breakthroughs that haven’t happened but are surely just around the corner and blame those who “don’t believe in climate change.”
If you can’t deal with reality, reality will deal with you.

There is no substitute for oil.

While there is a high degree of hype and willful-delusion about the ability of human ingenuity and “scientific progress” to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by substituting “renewable energy,” the simple fact is that there is no substitute for oil.

The aircraft industry, based around large Boeing and Airbus jetliners, cannot fly economically on anything but crude-oil-based aviation fuel, otherwise known as diesel or kerosene, which are in turn basically only slightly different oil-distillations from gasoline.

[more on vehicles and equipment necessary…]

At the height of the Roman Empire the estimated human population of the globe was…

In 1750, before the Industrial Revolution the population of the globe is estimated to have been 800 million.

In 1900, after the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania and before the rise of the petroleum-powered internal combustion engine, the population had doubled to 1.6 billion. Doubled during 150 years worth of Industrial Revolution advances.

Today it stands at 7.5 billion. Increased five-fold in 120 years.

It is petroleum products that have made this population of 7.5 billion, rapidly approaching 8 billion, humans possible. Industrialized agriculture and moving the food from the farms to the slaughterhouses and processing plants and then on to the local grocery stores is not possible without oil. Nobody produces their own food. And if they do they won’t be able to defend it against the hungry mobs. Without oil, everybody starves to death. Period.

More on the other ways petroleum is crucial and necessary to make modern life possible later.

Of the remaining one trillion barrels of oil in the ground, 260 billion of them are under Saudi Arabia.

The United States consumes roughly 20 million barrels of petroleum products per day (20 mbpd) give or take a million barrels. It reached this level 20 years ago around 1997. A decrease in the long-term overall rate of growth in the American economy, demand destruction, and increased efficiency and “conservation” have all contributed to this relatively stable level of oil use. It should stay around this level of 20 mbpd for the foresee-able future.

The United States only produces about 12 mbpd but the remaining 8 mbpd are mostly and easily acquired from its North American friends and neighbors, Canada and Mexico, together with half a million barrels here-and-there for stable suppliers in the Middle East or North or West Africa.

For all intents-and-purposes and contrary to popular sentiment the United States is energy independent. More on this later.

China, The United States’ main and only economic rival, consumes 12 mbpd of petroleum products, of which it needs to import 8 mbpd. Chinese economic and consequently oil usage has grown phenomenally in the last 20 years. A decade ago, China was only using 8 mbpd of oil. In 2016 Chinese economic growth and energy usage slowed, or rather, the rate of increase slowed. Whether this is the beginning of a trend or simply the Chinese economy taking a breath is impossible to tell.

The Chinese are dependent on oil from the Middle East, the flow of which the United States controls. This is strategic. This is by design. All American military power and effort in the world is focused on playing the role of guard-dog to Middle Eastern and specifically Saudi oil.

All of this explains why Saudi Arabia – what can only be described as the real-life Republic of Gilead from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale – is one of America’s two most cherished and pampered allies. The other being Israel – a truly racist, theocratic police state that views Palestinians as subhumans and keeps half of them on the brink of starvation in an open-air concentration camp called The Gaza Strip. Israel is a democracy only in the sense that Ancient Greece was a democracy when 70% of the population were slaves. It’s all relative…but it guts the argument that Putin’s Russia is some kind of monster and not a viable democracy. Or even that China should be targeted as “authoritarian.”

And the United States basically pays for Israel’s existence to the tune of $6 Billion a year. Absurd and bizarre. Hard to believe…unless explained in terms of the importance of oil to American empire and control. For Israel and Saudi Arabia are actually de facto allies, both working under the protection of the American Deep State and constantly and continually conspiring to undermine stability in the rest of the region and tag Shiite Iran as the origin of all the world’s troubles. Iran – ironically, the closest to an actually stable democracy in the region that concerns itself with the welfare of Muslims.


China Tech: Interesting Bits and Pieces
FRED REED • JUNE 29, 2017 • 1,100 words

As I have mentioned before, China came out of nowhere to become the world leader in supercomputers. Also in high-speed rail, of strategic importance in its plan to united Europe and Asia economically. Heavy investment in solar power offers to ameliorate its dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf, vulnerable to blockage by the US Navy. Then there is DF21D terminally guided ballistic missile, specifically intended as a carrier-killer in what China regards as its home waters. The list could go on at length.

In much of America, the Chinese are dismissed as being “unable to innovate,” inventiveness being thought of as unique to white men. Thinner ice has perhaps never been trod.

The Chinese are smart. They are certainly capable of high-grade engineering and scientific research. (Eg., Beijing Genomics Institute) The line between imaginative engineering and invention is blurry. Note that on the numbers China can potentially bring to bear five times as many engineers as America can and, while they are well short of this, twice as many would be–is?–the beginning of a new world.


X. no longer knows what to do with himself. Events trouble him to excess. His panic is salutary to me: it forces me to calm him, and this effort of persuasion, this search for soothing arguments, soothes me in my turn. In order to keep on this side of madness, you must frequent those more demented than yourself.

Eloquent Obfuscation Expressed With ‘High Confidence’





Avacado Assault


What to make of our new literature of radical pessimism.
The New Yorker
JUNE 5 & 12, 2017 ISSUE
by Jill Lepore


This is phenomenal. A realistic look at our economy and culture.
Dan Bell is talented and hilarious. He should be appointed entertainment czar.



Eloquent Obfuscation Expressed With ‘High Confidence’
NBC’s Kelly Hits Putin With a Beloved Canard
To prove their chops, mainstream media stars can’t wait to go head-to-head with a demonized foreign leader, like Vladimir Putin, and let him have it, even if their “facts” are wrong, as Megyn Kelly showed
June 13, 2017
by Ray McGovern

“Hackers may be anywhere,” Putin said. “There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? In the middle of an internal political fight, it was convenient for them, whatever the reason, to put out that information. And put it out they did. And, doing it, they made a reference to Russia. Can’t you imagine it happening? I can.”

“Let us recall the assassination of President Kennedy. There is a theory that Kennedy’s assassination was arranged by the United States special services. If this theory is correct, and one cannot rule it out, so what can be easier in today’s context, being able to rely on the entire technical capabilities available to special services than to organize some kind of attacks in the appropriate manner while making a reference to Russia in the process. …”


I am a big fan of clean, green, renewable energy. Give a hoot, don’t pollute. “That’s what happens when you don’t use oil in your windmills.”


Self Driving Bicycle

Google engineers find nifty way to reduce human overpopulation problem: kill the kids!


The Uniqueness of Humans



If there is anything unique about the human animal it is that it has the ability to grow knowledge at an accelerating rate while being chronically incapable of learning from experience. Science and technology are cumulative, whereas ethics and politics deal with recurring dilemmas. Whatever they are called, torture and slavery are universal evils; but these evils cannot be consigned to the past like redundant theories in science. They return under different names: torture as enhanced interrogation techniques, slavery as human trafficking. Any reduction in universal evils is an advance in civilization. But, unlike scientific knowledge, the restraints of civilized life cannot be stored on a computer disc. They are habits of behavior, which once broken are hard to mend. Civilization is natural for humans, but so is barbarism.

-John Gray
“The Silence of Animals,” pg. 75




Take a little dope
And walk out in the air
The stars are all connected to the brain
Find me a woman and lay down on the ground
Her pleasure comes falling down like rain
Get myself a car, I feel power as I fly
Oh now I’m really in control
It all looks fine to the naked eye
But it don’t really happen that way at all
Don’t happen that way at all

-The Who






The So-called Resistance
Clusterfuck Nation
James Howard Kunstler
May 30th, 2017

The latest manifestation of this dynamic is the curious movement that styles itself The Resistance, lately adopted by the grotesque handmaiden of the Deep State that the Democratic Party became in the regency of Hillary Clinton. Its mission is to undo the results of the last national election by claiming that Russia undid it. It pretends to seek the restoration of something — but what? Of dissipated power relations within the Deep State itself?

President Trump is actually taking care of that by turning government management over to hisgenerals and the minions of Goldman Sachs. The generals are reinvesting in the strategic black hole of our military adventures overseas. The Goldman Sachs appointees are making Wall Street safe for the continued asset-stripping of the USA. The last time I checked, Hillary’s gang did not oppose either of these endeavors.


Notes of a Reformed News Weasel:
Understanding the Vacuity
FRED REED • MAY 25, 2017 • 1,100 WORDS

Journalists are not stupid, running to well above average in intelligence. You could form a large chapter of Mensa by raiding newsrooms in Washington. However, with a fair few exceptions, they are not intellectuals, not contemplative, not studious. They are high-pressure fact-accountants, competitive, comfortable under tight deadlines, aggressive, combative, quick but shallow. This can be a serviceable substituent for stupid.

In a curious process of self-delusion, they imagine a world that doesn’t exist and then try to live in it. For example, they don’t know what cops face in the ghetto because they have never been in the ghetto and don’t know any cops. They dismiss anyone who tells them that things are not as they think. Their confidence is invincible, for do not all their friends say the same things?


Abolish Memorial Day
by Justin Raimondo
May 29, 2017

The abolition of historical memory is one of the worst aspects of modernity: it is certainly the most depressing. For the modern man, it’s an effort to recall what happened last week, never mind the last century. The news cycle spins madly and ever-faster, and the result is that we are lost in the blur of Now: for all intents and purposes, we are a people without a history, who recall past events – if we remember them at all – as one would summon a vague and confusing dream.

The Vietnam war was the last major conflict that caused us to reconsider our foreign policy of global intervention for any length of time, and at this point it has been thoroughly buried in the public imagination. For a brief moment the so-called Vietnam Syndrome was bemoaned by the political class, who complained it prevented the from indulging their desire to intervene anywhere and everywhere at will. And the memory of that futile crusade did have a restraining effect for some years – until the passage of time, the collapse of Communism, and – finally – the 9/11 terrorist attacks wiped the slate clean


The Deep State – May 2017

No Exit
Clusterfuck Nation
by James Howard Kunstler
May 26th, 2017

To see the Democrats go on about “Russian collusion” you would think we were watching a rerun of the John Birch Society in its heyday. Americans who have done business in Russia as private citizens are being persecuted as though they were trading with the enemy in wartime. Newsflash: we are not at war with Russia, which, by the way, is no longer the Soviet Union. It is one of many European countries that Americans are entitled to do business in — even in the case of General Mike Flynn accepting a $20,000 speaking fee from the RT news company. Has anyone noticed that Ben Bernanke routinely takes $200,000-plus speaking fees in many foreign countries whose interests are not identical to ours and no one is persecuting him.


The Beltway Foreign-Policy ‘Blob’ Strikes Back
A Washington think tank calls for more of the same failed intervention.
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • May 26, 2017

The election of Donald Trump as president last year represented, among many other things, a rebuke to the foreign-policy establishment. After a quarter-century of giving “America über Alles” a try, voters opted for a candidate who promised to put “America First.”

That establishment—which Obama administration staffer Ben Rhodes memorably referred to as the “Blob”—now offers a rebuttal of sorts. The rebuttal comes in the form of a report issued by the august Brookings Institution. Bearing the title Building “Situations of Strength,” the document is at once pretentious, proudly nonpartisan, and utterly vacuous.

The authors of the report, ten in number, make for a diverse group, at least as Washington defines diversity. Within their ranks are Republicans and Democrats, men and women, Jews and Gentiles. All possess impressive credentials, acquired over the course of years spent rotating in and out of government, in and out of the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, and in and out of network news green rooms. They are, in short, sound and eminently respectable, Talbott offering his personal assurance that “all come from the internationalist school.”

In this context, “internationalist” functions as a code word. It excludes anyone who when discussing U.S. policy employs terms like militarism or imperialism. It excludes anyone associated, however remotely, with a principled opposition to war, not to mention anyone finding fault with Washington’s marked propensity for armed intervention abroad. Notably, in this instance, it also excludes anyone who has actually experienced war at firsthand while serving in the armed forces.


On Brad Bauman:
Source: Family told me representative ‘was assigned’ by Democrats


New Cracks in Russia-gate ‘Assessment’
by Robert Parry
May 23, 2017

The timing and speed of the Jan. 6 report also drew some attention at Tuesday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing, where Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, noted that President Obama requested the ICA on Dec. 9 and the last entry was dated Dec. 29.

“This report was produced in just 20 days in December,” Stefanik said, adding: “It’s of concern to me that there was a two-month lag” between when Obama’s intelligence agencies first alleged Russian “hacking” of Democratic emails and when Obama ordered the ICA.

Of course, the ICA’s flaws do not mean that Russia is innocent or that WikiLeaks is telling the truth when it asserts that the two batches of Democratic emails – one from the Democratic National Committee and the other from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta – did not come from the Russians.

But the Jan. 6 report has served as the foundation for a series of investigations that have hobbled the Trump administration and could lead to the negation of a U.S. presidential election via the impeachment or forced resignation of President Trump.

The seriousness of that possibility would seem to demand the most thorough examination and the fullest vetting of the evidence. Even just the appearance that the ICA might be one more case of politicized intelligence would do more to destroy Americans’ faith in their democratic system than anything that Putin might dream up.


Trump and the Russians: The BBC Contributes a Little Balance
A new radio program tries to stick to the facts.
By EAMONN FINGLETON • May 23, 2017

What can be said for sure is there is a fundamental contradiction in the Washington establishment’s story that (1) the break-in was a highly sophisticated job, and (2) it was executed so incompetently that the cyberspace equivalent of fingerprints were left behind for the U.S. intelligence agencies to find.


Deep Six the Deep State
Rogue “intelligence community” must be slapped down
by Justin Raimondo
May 26, 2017

Was this covered by the New York Times, the “newspaper of record,” or the Washington Post, which has adopted the slogan “democracy dies in the dark”? Of course not. They’re too busy reporting on leaks of classified information from their Deep State sources, some of which is no doubt the product of this illegal spying.

I count less than half a dozen stories about this, all of them in conservative outlets like Fox News and Breitbart, The “liberal” media isn’t interested for the simple reason that they don’t want to interfere with the very process that provides them with so many “scoops.”