The John James Newsletter  258

Why don’t the Americans get it? The terrorists are already in their midst, already in their homes: the mad gun-wielding members of the NRA.
John James

The drive towards personal excellence fuelled by the system of private enterprise has an embedded need for exponential growth and seems incapable of protecting key resources such as air quality, fertile soil and clean water
Bruce Pascoe

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it
Frédéric Bastiat

British Columbia’s southern resident killer whale population is down to only 76 animals because human fishers have displaced the orcas from their favoured food, Chinook salmon, as we simultaneously displace the salmon from their spawning streams through hydro dams, pollution and urbanization.
William Rees

It is always easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them
Alfred Adler

The biggest crime scene on the planet is on the planet
Gavin Schmidt

The bellicose actions of the Trump Administration against trade with Iran is forcing major countries into cooperation that ultimately could spell the demise of the dollar hegemony, a hegemony that has allowed a debt-bloated US Government to finance global tyranny
Willian Engdahl

The EU resents and fears the consequences of the Trump administration’s reckless and provocative offensive against Iran. They resent it because Washington’s scuttling of the nuclear deal has pulled the rug from European capital’s plans to capture a leading position in Iran’s domestic market and exploit Iranian offers of massive oil and natural gas concessions. They fear it, because the US confrontation with Iran threatens to ignite a war that would invariably set the entire Mideast ablaze, triggering a new refugee crisis, a massive spike in oil prices and, last but not least, a re-partition of the region when the European powers lack the military means to independently determine the outcome.
Keith Jones

The US is now an Oligarchy
Economic elites and organised business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. “When the preferences of economic elites are catered for, the preferences of the average American have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy. Though Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise, policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans. Therefore, America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”      Read more

Trump’s $2.1 trillion deal with the devil has failed
Ominous signs are already evident in sectors most sensitive to higher borrowing costs. The Freddie Mac rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage has risen 100 basis points to 4.83% over the last year. Home sales have dropped by 21%. Average house prices have slipped 3.5%. This is remarkable given that the fiscal pedal is pushed to floor. The federal budget deficit is nearing 5% of GDP, at a time when full employment should restore balance.      Read details

Global warming is eroding the polar vortex that once insulated the frozen north.
The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia 35C above averages. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 – more than three times as in any previous year. “This is an anomaly among anomalies. It is far enough outside the historical range that suggests there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate,” said Michael Mann. “The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplify human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning.” This is a displacement of what ought to be happening farther north. Some recent temperatures have been warmer than London and Zurich, which are thousands of miles to the south.      Read more

Summer weather is getting ‘stuck’ due to Arctic warming
Rising Arctic temperatures mean we face a future of ‘extreme extremes’ where sunny days become heatwaves and rain becomes floods, leading to “very extreme extremes”, which occur when abnormally high temperatures linger for an unusually prolonged period, turning sunny days into heat waves, tinder-dry conditions into wildfires, and rains into floods.      Read more

Comma tips.  See here

2085934.pngEfforts to Fight Climate Change Had a Tough Election Day
On Election Day, the House went to the Democrats, the Senate to the Republicans, and only two of seven climate-related measures on ballots across the country went in the planet’s favour. In Washington State, oil companies—led by BP America—spent more than thirty million dollars to defeat Initiative 1631, which would have established the country’s first-ever carbon fee. The proceeds that the state collected from its worst carbon polluters would have been put back into clean-energy infrastructure and other investments to adapt to the effects of climate change. Nevertheless the Democrats say “We will look to restore the environmental protections that have been gutted over the last two years.”      Read thisEarth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans
A virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, are leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them. “These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information, and yet, somehow, they have developed defences that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive. More worryingly, as facts have multiplied, their defences against those facts have only grown more powerful. Our research shows it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen.”      Humerous or true?China’s ‘extraordinary’ ambitions: the futuristic city being built on reclaimed land
Colombo Port City is a project local politicians hope will spearhead the city’s bid to become a new Singapore-like economic hub in the Indian Ocean. China’s role in the project has also raised concerns in India, which is suspicious of Beijing’s intentions in the region. The project has strategic “implications, for by increasing Chinese leverage over Sri Lanka through debt-trap diplomacy, it promises to give China a strategic foothold in the Sri Lankan capital. Chinese projects can quickly acquire a strategic dimension.”      Read moreEurope and America clash over Washington’s economic war on Iran
Washington’s imposition of sweeping new sanctions on Iran—aimed at strangling its economy and precipitating “regime change” in Tehran—is roiling world politics. The US is embargoing all Iranian energy exports and freezing Iran out of the US-dominated world financial system to cripple the remainder of its trade and deny it access to machinery, spare parts and even basic foodstuffs and medicine. American imperialism is once again acting as a law unto itself. The sanctions are illegal under international law. It is tantamount to a declaration of war.    Read more

2085933.jpgPutin to Trump: Thanks for Helping Make Russia Great Again!
I am writing to thank you, Donald the Great, for helping me make Russia great again. What you have done by unilaterally withdrawing from Iran nuclear deal and by re-imposing and adding more sanctions on Iran on November 5 was a blessing for us and I love it! And here is why. The resource-rich Iran still needs to feed and take care of its more than 80 million people. And I am there for them, right up the road on the Caspian Sea, that technically and for all practical purpose makes us neighbors. BTW & FYI, at my behest, we just signed a major agreement divvying it up with Iran and three other littoral states. Donald, I cannot thank you enough for pushing Iran deeper into my lap, which in the near future will become entirely a “client state” of Russia. Pretty soon I will be their largest supplier, trading partner, freight forwarder, middleman, salesman, banker, capital projects builder, and agent, all combined! But wait a minute: I have to be careful of your trade menace, the sneaky Xi Jinping who is my menace too! He undoubtedly will try to compete with me, as he dreams to corner Iran’s market by bartering for their discounted oil and selling them all sort of Chinese goods and services, as well as pushing for his new global initiative of building more “belts and roads”!      Read moreOcean shock
Reuters reveals the climate crisis beneath the waves. Driven by warming waters, marine life is on the move — and life on land is forever changed. Fish and other sea life are fleeing for their lives, seeking the even temperatures they need to breed and thrive.      Read here

El Nino alert with 70pc chance of hot and dry conditions
The Met has just upped the chance of an El Nino this year, meaning there is now three times the normal risk of the climate being hotter and dryer this year. It had been a slow boil.”This is absolutely not the outlook many people hoped to hear.”      Read more

David Attenborough has betrayed the living world he loves
It is not proselytising or alarmist to tell us the raw truth about what is happening to the world, however much it might discomfit us. For many years, wildlife film-making has presented a pristine living world. It has created an impression of security and abundance, even in places afflicted by cascading ecological collapse. The cameras reassure us that there are vast tracts of wilderness in which wildlife continues to thrive. They cultivate complacency, not action. You cannot do such a thing passively. Wildlife film-makers I know tell me that the effort to portray what looks like an untouched ecosystem becomes harder every year. They have to choose their camera angles ever more carefully to exclude the evidence of destruction, travel further to find the Edens they depict. They know – and many feel deeply uncomfortable about it – that they are telling a false story, creating a fairytale world that persuades us all is well, in the midst of an existential crisis.      Read the whole argumentWorld Bank ends its support for coal worldwide
The World Bank has abandoned the last coal project on its books, with its president publicly dumping the Kosovo e Re plant on Wednesday. “We are required by our by-laws to go with the lowest cost option and renewables have now come below the cost of coal. So without question, we are not going to [support the plant].     Read more

Spain to close most coalmines in €250m transition deal
By the end of the year after government and unions struck a deal that will mean €250m will be invested in mining regions over the next decade. Unions hailed the mining deal – which covers Spain’s privately owned pits – as a model agreement. It mixes early retirement schemes for miners over 48, with environmental restoration work in pit communities and re-skilling schemes for cutting-edge green industries.      Read more

A Day in Pompeii – Full-length animation
Fascinating.          Watch this

2085935.pngThe psychosocial dimension of power: An emotional analysis of the Davos elite’s discourse on globalization
The central feature of the Davos elite culture of globalisation that emerged from this analysis is the lack of democracy in the decision-making processes, both at relational and organisational level. To change this entails recovering the sense of public good, conceived as pertaining to the collectivity, in contrast to the private good, referring to an exclusive possession, that deprives someone of something.      Read moreArctic Methane Catastrophe
55 million years ago it took less than 200 years for global temperature to rise about 10C. There was a critical level of C02, beyond which rapid and unstoppable temperature rise occurred.    Video worth warching

2085998.pngChina’s ‘extraordinary’ ambitions: the futuristic city being built on reclaimed land
C
olombo Port City, a project local politicians hope will spearhead the city’s bid to become a new Singapore-like economic hub in the Indian Ocean. China’s role in the project has also raised concerns in India, which is suspicious of Beijing’s intentions in the region. The project has strategic “implications, for by increasing Chinese leverage over Sri Lanka through debt-trap diplomacy, it promises to give China a strategic foothold in the Sri Lankan capital. Chinese projects can quickly acquire a strategic dimension.”     Read more

$2.7 billion deal opening Madagascar to Chinese fishing
Life on the coast of Madagascar is increasingly precarious. In recent decades, the overexploitation of marine life has made it difficult for hundreds of thousands of small-scale fishers to make a living. Two months ago, a little-known private Malagasy association signed a 10-year, $2.7 billion fishing deal — the largest in the country’s history — with a group of Chinese companies that plans to send 330 fishing vessels to Madagascar. The country’s fisheries minister said he learned about it in the newspaper. Local fishers are already struggling with foreign competition for Madagascar’s dwindling marine stocks. No draft of the deal has been made public and the association that signed it did not conduct an environmental impact assessment or any public consultation.      Not pleasant reading

A Theory of Human Thinking
“By connecting all these previous discoveries, we came to the assumption that the brain stores a mental map, regardless of whether we are thinking about a real space or the space between dimensions of our thoughts. Our train of thought can be considered a path though the spaces of our thoughts, along different mental dimensions. These processes are especially useful for making inferences about new objects or situations, even if we have never experienced them,” the neuroscientist continues. Using existing maps of cognitive spaces humans can anticipate how similar something new is to something they already know by putting it in relation to existing dimensions. If they’ve already experienced tigers, lions, or panthers, but have never seen a leopard, we would place the leopard in a similar position as the other big cats in our cognitive space. Based on our knowledge about the concept ‘big cat’, already stored in a mental map, we can adequately react to the encounter with the leopard. We can generalise to novel situations, which we constantly face, and infer how we should behave.”    This is my experience, too

“The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors”     
Plutarch

The past two years Trump has abandoned or threatened the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris Climate Accord, the JCPOA with Iran, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the International Criminal Court, the Postal Union Treaty, and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The liberal world order is under threat from its principal architect, the UDS.
Matthew Shannon

The cut in corporate tax rates from 35% to 21% has fed stock buybacks by US companies. Why would they invest into an ageing boom, in the midst of a global trade war? The mechanical consequence of a US consumption boom and a soaring dollar is to suck in imports, painting the current account deficit in Gothic colours.
      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Climate change is impacting the Caribbean, with millions facing increasing food insecurity and decreasing freshwater availability as droughts become more likely across the region
Blaine Friedlander

Russia & China Invest in Infrastructure; US Spends on Military
China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” is famous as an extension of their domestic infrastructure investments, but Russia is also investing heavily in infrastructure. Both countries need to do it in order to improve the future for their respective populations, and both Governments have avoided the Western development model of going heavily into debt in order to pay for creating and maintaining infrastructure. Both are, in fact, exceptionally low-debt Governments. China has a public debt/GDP of 17.7%, and Russia’s is 8.0%. For comparison, America’s is 93.6%. (Others are: Germany 85.8%, Spain 91.2%, Italy 122.6%, Greece 147.1%, India 54.2%, Pakistan 47.0%, and Brazil 55.0%.) The US isn’t going into public debt in order to finance building or maintenance of infrastructure, but instead to finance expansions of its military, which is already (and by far) the world’s largest (in terms of its costs, but not of its numbers of troops). A nation that spends over a trillion dollars a year on ‘national defence’ can’t have much left over to spend on things that ‘can wait’ — such as repairing its bridges, roads, etc. — and so those repairs do wait, while even more money, than before, becomes devoted to purchases of new weaponry.   Read more

Russia, India & Iran want to create alternative trade route to Suez Canal
The new shipment passage, North-South Transport Corridor, to connect the Indian Ocean with the Persian Gulf through Iran to Russia and Europe. The 7,200-kilometers long corridor will combine sea and rail routes.Currently, Indian logistics companies have to route shipments through China, Europe or Iran to get an access to Central Asian markets – long, time-consuming and inevitably expensive: with the Iranian route seen as the most viable.     Read the details

2085990.pngApocalyptic Climate Reporting Completely Misses the Point
Reporting on the IPCC, and climate change more broadly, is unbalanced. It’s fixated on the predictions of climate science and the opinions of climate scientists, with cursory gestures to the social, economic, and political causes of the problem. Yet analysis of these causes is as important to climate scholarship as modelling ice-sheet dynamics and sea-level rise. Reductionist climate reporting misses this. Many references to policy are framed in terms of carbon pricing. This endorses the prevailing contempt in establishment circles for people’s capacity to govern themselves beyond the restrictions of market rule. Meanwhile, the IPCC report is overflowing with analyses showing that we can avoid runaway climate change, improve most people’s lives, and prioritise equality through a broad set of interventions.      Read morePopulation: The Multiplier of Everything Else
Conservative demographic projections show the world’s population growing by 2.5 billion people over the next four decades – a 40% increase. Many people are simply not aware of the scale and speed at which world population is expected to continue growing – by about 80 million annually. This is like adding a new Egypt every year. The total population is approaching 7 billion, seven times what it was in 1800. The cost in human suffering from unplanned and excessive childbearing is staggering: 500,000 women and girls die worldwide every year from pregnancy and childbirth. Most of the women who die are in their teens and early twenties, forced by their societies into bearing children too young and far too frequently. The lives of billions are being rendered increasingly desperate by being denied access to family-planning. The surge is not the result of rising birth rates, which have dropped since 1970, but primarily from declining death rates —the result of widespread vaccination, etc.      Read moreBlack-starting the grid after a power outage
Large blackouts can be quite devastating and it isn’t easy to restart the electric grid again. This is typically done by designated black start units of natural gas, coal, hydro, or nuclear power plants that can restart themselves using their own power with no help from the rest of the electrical grid.         Read more“It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.”         Blog source

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