“Far beyond the local group of galaxies lies NGC 3621, some 22 million light-years away. Found in the multi-headed southern constellation Hydra, the winding spiral arms of this gorgeous island universe are loaded with luminous young star clusters and dark dust lanes. Still, for earthbound astronomers NGC 3621 is not just another pretty face-on spiral galaxy. Some of its brighter stars have been used as standard candles to establish important estimates of extragalactic distances and the scale of the Universe.
This beautiful image of NGC 3621 traces the loose spiral arms far from the galaxy's brighter central regions that span some 100,000 light-years. Spiky foreground stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy and even more distant background galaxies are scattered across the colorful skyscape.”
"Food scarcity is becoming a major concern in many areas of the globe right now. Several food staples are already facing tight supplies and shortages, worsening the growing hunger crisis that is spreading across the planet.
Supply chains are still struggling to recover, and in the event of a new pandemic, economic or financial meltdown, as well as any disaster that may hit our system, all of the improvement seen since 2021 may be rapidly reversed, leaving the country in a chaotic state and causing products to disappear from store shelves.
We all know by now that the next big global meltdown can erupt at any moment. Economies are falling apart. Financial markets are wobbly. The climate crisis is decimating crops and making it harder for agricultural producers to maintain a stable food supply. It's only a matter of time before something bursts. And when that happens, desperate people will start taking some desperate measures. Today, we compiled several staples that are either already facing shortages or at high risk of experiencing supply chain disruptions or being hit by a panic buying wave after things go south.
For example, fresh and perishable produce such as fruits and vegetables are among the first to vanish when a crisis is announced. Given that these foods have a limited shelf life and rely on a stable supply chain to be delivered at stores, they are typically the first to go. When maritime or road transportation systems are interrupted, perishables become vulnerable to spoilage before reaching the market. To make things worse, consumers tend to stock up on these items early on, rapidly depleting food retailers' inventories. One option that could help you preserve your produce for longer is canning. Some fruits and veggies can also be frozen without significant alterations to their nutrients and texture. But the truth is that the only way to have a reliable supply of fruits and veggies during hard times is to start your own garden and grow your own fresh produce, just as our great-grandparents did during the Great Depression.
Similarly, dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, are another category vulnerable to widespread shortages during difficult periods. They require an intricate network that includes specialized transportation and storage, otherwise, they can spoil before hitting the stores. Unexpected problems in production can suddenly impact availability. In fact, stable dairy production is only achieved when there are regular farm and labor operations to process and conserve the products. Any restriction on movement, as it happened during the pandemic, can result in work stoppages and, consequently, mass shortages and price hikes. Additionally, considering that these items must be refrigerated, power outages and rolling blackouts could prevent us from consuming dairy altogether.
Any item that you buy at your local grocery store needs a complex web of services and procedures before it gets there. A worldwide or nationwide crisis can throw our food systems in disarray and cause serious inventory problems for food retailers. That's why understanding which foods tend to disappear first during such situations can help us make more informed decisions and focus on preparedness measures to survive the challenges we may face. Even though it is impossible to predict when and which will be the next major crisis, we can get ready for potential adversities and mitigate the impact of such disruptions in our lives."
“Believe me, I know all about it. I know the stress. I know the frustration. I know the temptations of time and space. We worked this out ahead of time. They're part of the plan. We knew this stuff might happen. Actually, you insisted they be triggered whenever you were ready to begin thinking thoughts you've never thought before. New thinking is always the answer.”
"It is common to assume that human progress affects everyone - that even the dullest man, in these bright days, knows more than any man of, say, the Eighteenth Century, and is far more civilized. This assumption is quite erroneous. The great masses of men, even in this inspired republic, are precisely where the mob was at the dawn of history. They are ignorant, they are dishonest, they are cowardly, they are ignoble. They know little if anything that is worth knowing, and there is not the slightest sign of a natural desire among them to increase their knowledge."
"President Trump won the Republican debate this week without showing up. This is according to a Daily Mail poll after the GOP debate that Trump stayed away from. Meanwhile, Trump’s business license has been revoked in New York by a judge to punish him for fraud BEFORE a case being brought by the NY Attorney General Letitia James. Trump is appealing that ruling and going to court in New York on the NY fraud case on October 2nd.
Joe Biden is facing impeachment in the House of Representatives. The Democrat talking point: “There is no evidence.” Of course, just the opposite is true. There is plenty of evidence that Biden and many in his family took secret money from foreign sources. In other words, Joe Biden and family took bribes according to the Republicans on the impeachment committee. They are also calling what Biden and his family did was treason. We will see if there will be a conviction and removal from office when this hits the Senate.
Ukrainian soldiers are surrendering by the thousands in Ukraine since the beginning of summer. 10,000 have reportedly turned themselves over to Russian forces rather than being turned into hamburger. 400,000 to 500,000 Ukraine military have been killed in action during the nearly 2-year war. 80,000 reportedly have been killed during the failed so-called “counter-offensive” that started in early June. The Russians are winning big, and the Lying Legacy Media have been lying to America the entire time. Ukraine is a NATO disaster, and it should stop ASAP. There is much more in the 48-minute newscast."
"The U.S. economy has an ominous atmosphere looming this fall. Amidst this backdrop, gloomy clouds are casting their shadow over major retail giants, and are taking drastic steps to navigate the uncertain terrain ahead. Some are proactively shedding underperforming stores to safeguard their financial stability, while others are plunging into liquidation as they face insurmountable challenges.
Take the case of Bed Bath & Beyond, a household name that filed for bankruptcy back in April. Despite efforts to revive its business, the outlook remained bleak. In a revised bankruptcy plan, the company delivered grim tidings to its shareholders. Those holding specific interests or claims tied to Bed Bath & Beyond were left empty-handed, as compensation or benefits were eliminated. Even Overstock's $21 million acquisition of the brand's intellectual property couldn't offset the company's crushing debt. On September 12, the final blow landed as Bed Bath & Beyond confirmed the closure of all 360 of its remaining stores scattered across 40 states.
Similarly, JoAnn Fabrics is bracing for mass store closures and staff layoffs in 2023. The retailer revealed plans to shut more stores and trim its corporate office workforce. Amanda Hayes, a spokesperson for Joann, cited the need to realign the company's structure and expenses with its business requirements. The exact count of layoffs and store closures remains undisclosed, but the financial picture is unsettling, with a mere $19.1 million in cash against a towering $1 billion debt. Quarterly losses have surged to $73 million, up from $56.9 million in the previous quarter. The specter of being delisted looms large, making it challenging to secure much-needed capital. JoAnn's stock has plummeted by 68% compared to a year ago and an astounding 95% from its 2021 peak, earning it a spot on Moody's bankruptcy watchlist.
These store closures are just one part of a larger narrative of economic turbulence. Alongside these closures, hundreds of thousands of retail workers are losing their jobs as companies battle for survival or concede defeat. The repercussions are reverberating through key economic indicators, including the nation's gross domestic product. Yet, for countless hardworking Americans, the retail crisis is causing their lives to unravel. While it's too early to gauge the full extent of this downturn, one thing is crystal clear: the American retail landscape will undergo a profound transformation in early 2024. In this video, we delve into the strategies popular brands are employing to weather the ongoing recession, shedding light on the evolving retail landscape."
Poitou, France - "Headline report at Bloomberg: "If the US Exits Niger, the Terrorists and Russians Win." "Emmanuel Macron, announced on television that he will pull out the roughly 1,500 French troops stationed in Niger, as well as the French ambassador. France, as the region’s former colonial power, has long played the lead for Team West in the Sahel, with the US in the unaccustomed role of understudy."
Dear readers may be wondering: what do we care? But they may be the key to understanding our future. US foreign policy is controlled by a cabal of arms producers, glory seekers and useful idiots. It costs…all in…about $1.5 trillion per year to support them. That’s about a quarter of all federal spending. And $1 trillion of that cost could easily be cut – with no loss to US security.
That…and relatively minor adjustments to America’s runaway ‘transfer’ payments…could bring the federal budget into balance and prevent a catastrophic debacle of inflation, bankruptcy and banana republic-ism. In preview…we don’t think it is going to happen. But today…we explore further; maybe we’ll see something we missed.
More Question Marks: In the Bloomberg piece above, we are urged to ‘do something’ lest we ‘lose Niger.’ Since Niger is neither something ‘we’ ever had…nor something ‘we’ ever wanted, losing it does not seem like a pressing problem…nor do we expect to spend a lot of time looking for it. So, let us reach into our bag of question marks: why not let the Russians have it?
Talk about dogsh*t countries! Niger has a GDP of about 1/1000th the size of the US. In purchasing power parity, the typical citizen earns about $100 per month. And the government’s budget is about half made up of foreign aid (typically, much of that ends up supporting sellers of top end Swiss watches and German autos).
Let’s take out another question mark. What possible advantage would be bestowed on the US by throwing its money around in Niger? Of course, the same question mark could be used elsewhere. Why does the US have military bases in Germany? The Germans can take care of themselves. Why in Japan? And why send billions to the Ukraine (much of that slips into Swiss bank accounts and Mercedes dealers too!)?
At one level, the question marks are unnecessary. We know the story. After the Iraq/Afghanistan misadventures wound down, America’s war industry needed a new enemy. Over a period of years, it goaded Russia into playing the part. This was not an easy thing to do. Russia has always had an uneasy relationship with Europe…sometimes admirer and imitator…sometimes fighting for its life against ‘the West.’ A little history might help clarify.
From Russia With Love: At the end of the 17th century, Peter, Tsar of Russia, later to be known as “the Great,” arrived in England. He came with four chamberlains (assistants), three interpreters, two clock makers, a cook, a priest, 70 soldiers, four dwarfs and a monkey.
Peter wanted to learn all he could about England and Europe (he stopped in Germany on his way home) so that he could apply the lessons in Russia. It is said that Peter wanted his mission to be secret so that he wouldn’t be bothered by diplomatic niceties. But it is hard for us to imagine how he – who was 6’ 8” tall – and his curious entourage could have remained very long in London without being noticed. This was the beginning of Russia’s efforts to westernize itself, which continued off and on for the next 300 years.
During this time, the Russians’ affection for things European was interrupted thrice – each time by the Europeans themselves. Hardly had Peter returned to Moscow when Charles XII of Sweden fell upon the Baltic coast, marched through Poland and invaded Russia in 1708. Blocked by Peter’s army, the Swedes were unable to advance on Moscow, so they turned towards the Ukraine. Again, Peter was able to out-maneuver them, and beat Charles XII decisively at the battle of Poltava in 1709.
The winning tactic was to withdraw in the face of the more powerful enemy and to destroy everything and anything that he might be able to use. “Scorched earth,” it is called. It is not very popular with local populations, but was effective against the Swedes, and later against the French in 1812, and the Germans in 1941.
From the historical record, invaders come to Russia from ‘the West,’ about once every hundred years. And since the last invasion happened 82 years ago, it might make sense for the Russians to take precautions. This was, arguably, the motivation for Vladimir Putin’s insistence that ‘the West’ take seriously his security concerns.
Instead, NATO did a ‘drang nach osten’ of its own…bringing the immense firepower of ‘the West’ closer and closer to Russia’s front door. In 2014, the US helped a coup d’etat in Kyiv, which replaced an elected Russian-friendly president with one more in tune with the western agenda.
Bullies and Busybodies: This must have been a big disappointment to Putin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, with assurances from western leaders that NATO would not advance a single inch towards Mother Russia, the Kremlin leadership had once-again wanted to join Europe, not to fight it. European countries were far richer and more technologically advanced than Russia. The Russians hoped to emulate them, not to make war on them. Former NATO chief, George Robertson even says that Putin asked to join NATO. The Guardian reports:
"George Robertson, a former Labour defense secretary who led Nato between 1999 and 2003, said Putin made it clear at their first meeting that he wanted Russia to be part of western Europe. “They wanted to be part of that secure, stable, prosperous west that Russia was out of at the time,” he said. The Labour peer recalled an early meeting with Putin, who became Russian president in 2000. “Putin said: ‘When are you going to invite us to join Nato?’ Russia was never allowed to join. Instead, ‘the West’ marched east. Every warning issued by Putin…and every attempt to find a non-violent solution…was rebuffed by the US.
Finally, the Russian speaking regions east of the Dnieper sought independence from Ukraine (where their language had been outlawed)…and Russia felt it had to act. More to come…"
“The statement that “Joe Biden wasn’t involved in Hunter Biden’s business,” is absurd in its face. Joe Biden was Hunter Biden’s business.” - Margot Cleveland
"Understand: no amount of political blustering will bring this gaslit nation into daylight when there is no more money and no more credit and no feasible way to feed the blob that ate our government. The equation is simple. Our country can’t handle normal interest rates; and the value of the dollar can’t withstand more ultra-low interest rates. Someone, please, ask Congress to stop screwing that pooch over there!
Oh, and that “can” we’ve been kicking down the road turns out to be a rusty old 50-gallon drum. Somebody has stuffed America into it and is fixing to drop us overboard beyond the continental shelf off the Jersey Shore. Can that be stopped, too?
So, here at week’s end we see these two rather momentous issues juxtaposed: the battle over how to finance that blob-infested monster in DC; and the battle to expose the crimes of a real-life Manchurian Candidate president. Neither battle is going all that well for the minority of citizens who want to live in a pro-reality society. If we follow the fiscal trend, all the tax revenue we can grudge up will barely cover the annual interest on our $30+trillion debt. If we can’t boot out the brain-dead cat’s paw in the White House, then say goodbye to the rule of law and liberty with it.
The people we elect to Congress don’t want to be accountable for specifically authorizing spending on the blob’s multitudinous pet projects. So, they depend on multi-thousand-page omnibus bills nobody can ever scrutinize, and continuing resolution dodges to postpone any necessarily painful action on a budget. Therefore, a dissenting coterie in the House proposes to play hard-ball over de-funding the blob, that is, a government shutdown of unknown duration, until gaslight is replaced by sunlight. The blob itself sends out a frantic S.O.S. Don’t let these white supremacist, “far-right” MAGA nut-jobs drag us out of the comfortable warm, moist darkness we thrive in - perfect conditions for continued blob growth!
After all, these Congresspersons have their lobbyist-donors to answer to, and they’d better come up with the right answer - or else their chance of eventually retiring as multi-millionaires, like Nancy Pelosi did, might slip away. Of course, the joke would be on them (and the rest of us) if it eventually costs a million dollars for a slice of pizza when they try to cash-out. Or is there some dirty secret involved here - for instance, that the blob has also taken over whatever remained of the US economy, too. So that defunding the blob also blows a hole in that putative economy? Or maybe not. Maybe the regular economy can breathe a little again with the blob’s boot off its neck. Let’s go ahead and shut off the flow for a week or two, see what happens.
I imagine some of you took in the opening of House Oversight’s impeachment inquiry, or at least enjoyed a few choice tidbits on Web video. Chairman Comer (R-KY) tried to proceed gingerly, so as to not appear vicious, and called onstage three witnesses to establish an upright basis for the exercise. Alas, they were led by the earnest but equivocating GWU law professor Jonathan Turley, straining so hard to be above reproach that he seemed to levitate out of his seat. The Democrat minority were allowed to invite their own shill, one Michael J. Gerhardt, a law prof from North Carolina, who was there to make the gaslight flicker, and sho’nuff did.
Ranking (minority) Member Jamie Raskin immediately tried to distract the proceeding with a call to subpoena Rudy Giuliani - supposedly to impugn the process. The majority briskly tabled Raskin’s motion. The old trouper has been worked over pretty severely by a lawless DOJ the past three years, had his client correspondence stolen by the FBI, his law license suspended by a malign New York Bar Association… but don’t forget he is an experienced and resourceful federal prosecutor himself. He spent many months beating the thickets of corruption in Ukraine for then-President Trump, and certainly knows more about what went on in that grubby money laundry than practically anyone. Bring him on. I’d like to see ol’ Rudy joust with the likes of Cori Bush (D-CA) , AOC (D-NY), and Kweisi Mfume (D-MD).
The New York Times pushed the leitmotif of their narrative this morning: there’s no evidence that “Joe Biden” committed any impeachable offenses.
That wasn’t the point of Mr. Comer’s opening exercise, which did not include what are called “fact witnesses” - exactly what The New York Times pretended to not understand. The point was to open this ugly business delicately, with some decorum. It will be interesting to see how long the news media can keep pretending there’s nothing to see in the Biden family’s global business doings when a firehouse of evidence is turned on them. You can be sure the committee is sitting on some items we have not heard about.
There’s reason to be discouraged that the people we elect can bring the two great issues of the moment - the blob’s budget and the impeachment of “Joe Biden” - to satisfactory conclusions. They are arguably pseudopods of that very blob, whose very existence is being threatened now, and they have to worry about their shots at becoming multi-millionaires, too. The weeks ahead will inform us if there’s anything that can be salvaged of our federal government or whether we must make other arrangements."
"We are getting a warning about Bank of America and it’s stability right now. We are hearing that it was the worst month for real estate sales in years. So much is happening with the stock market and the potential government shut down. Everything is melting down right now."
"Outrageous Prices At Walmart! This Is Ridiculous!
What's Next? What's Coming?"
"In today's vlog, we are at Walmart and are noticing some outrageous price increases on groceries! This is not good as grocery prices have already reached an all-time high! It's getting rough out here as more and more families struggle to put food on the table!"
“Point your telescope toward the high flying constellation Pegasus and you can find this expanse of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies. Centered on NGC 7814, the pretty field of view would almost be covered by a full moon. NGC 7814 is sometimes called the Little Sombrero for its resemblance to the brighter more famous M104, the Sombrero Galaxy.
Both Sombrero and Little Sombrero are spiral galaxies seen edge-on, and both have extensive central bulges cut by a thinner disk with dust lanes in silhouette. In fact, NGC 7814 is some 40 million light-years away and an estimated 60,000 light-years across. That actually makes the Little Sombrero about the same physical size as its better known namesake, appearing to be smaller and fainter only because it is farther away. A very faint dwarf galaxy, potentially a satellite of NGC 7814, is revealed in the deep exposure just below the Little Sombrero.”
"The life of Man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instill faith in times of despair."
"All sins, of course, deserve to be treated with mercy: we all do what we can, and life is too hard and too cruel for us to condemn anyone for failing in this area. Does anyone know what he himself would do if faced with the worst, and how much truth could he bear under such circumstances?"
"In this week's TITN broadcast Gerald Celente delves into the economy on housing, trade, debt and the consequences to come. The Trends Journal is a weekly magazine analyzing global current events forming future trends. Our mission is to present facts and truth over fear and propaganda to help subscribers prepare for what’s next in these increasingly turbulent times."
America's Largest Chains Prepare For Trouble This Fall"
"They say that if you go woke, you’ll go broke – and, unfortunately, that seems to be the case with Target. The company is one of the biggest department store chains in the U.S. today after more than 60 years of building its brand to finally become a household name. But now, even its shareholders are saying that the retailer appears to be on its last legs. After facing serious criticism for releasing controversial products and selling them close to children’s items, many consumers have boycotted Target’s stores, and sales have started to collapse at record-breaking speed. Some call it “Bud Light 2.0,” referring to the rapid downfall of the beer brand following a catastrophic campaign released earlier this year that pushed the stock of parent company Anheuser Busch to drop by 45%, and sales to decline by over $400 million since June.
Target is seriously struggling right now. This week, the retailer announced that it will conduct another round of store closings in October, eliminating several locations in major U.S. cities. Starting on October 21, Target will shut down stores in New York, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, and Seattle. The company cited concerns over rising shoplifting rates and poor financial results at the stores. In a note released on its website, Target noted that rampant retail theft in multiple markets contributed to an "unsustainable business performance." "Despite our efforts, unfortunately, we continue to face fundamental challenges to operating these stores safely and successfully," executives wrote in the release.
After losing more than $14 billion in market capitalization so far in 2023, Target can not afford any more losses, so it is using its last resort to try to save its business. Of course, the rise in retail theft only tells us half of the story. Target’s overall financial results have been sharply deteriorating since last year, and this month, the chain added to investors’ concerns after reporting its first double-digit sales decline in the digital category, and the biggest drop in comparable sales at physical stores in at least four years.
Target stock has crashed by more than 20% year-to-date. Just before the pride clothing controversy broke into the mainstream, Target traded at $160.69 per share. By June 1, it had fallen to $131.16 per share. At the end of the second quarter, it dipped to $125.08. And now, it bottomed out at around $112. Analysts are now predicting that revenue will fall another 5% in Q3, but there are many signs the decline could be much worse. According to Bloomberg Second Measure, which tracks anonymous credit and debit card transactions, Target sales recorded an 8.7% drop in August, and conditions in September aren’t looking any better.
Executives are trying everything to stop the bleeding. But when a brand loses the consumer confidence built over the course of decades, it loses its own foundation. Target must fight for survival in an industry where department store chains continue to go under. If management fails to restore what has been broken, Target may face a slow and painful death just like many other big retailers."
"New reports show Ukrainian forces are laying down their western weapons and surrendering by the thousands using an emergency radio frequency. The surrendered forces are being fed and given medical attention and they're handing over vital troop movement data to Russian forces. This is the end."
"Look at all the economic news that we have right now. We are seeing things in a very precarious spot. People have their fear gauge at the highest level ever. So many are worried that things are going to fall off a cliff."
All empires are equal... but some are more equal than others.
by Bill Bonner and Joel Bowman
"Ooh, I wanna take you down to Kosovo
We’ll kick some butt, then we’ll take it slow
That’s where we want to go, way down to Kosovo."
~ Parody of ‘Kokomo’ by the Beach Boys
Paris, France - "Stop the clocks…Brooks Robinson has died. Yesterday was a day of mourning in Baltimore. Black crepe hung from mansions in Mount Vernon square. Keening in Dundalk. A raucous wake down in Fells Point bars. MLBnews: "Brooks Robinson, legendary O's third baseman, dies at 86. Beloved Hall of Famer was one of the greatest defenders in baseball history, winning 16 Gold Gloves."
We remember the late ‘50s. An aged aunt would watch the O’s on TV while listening to the play-by-play commentary on the radio. “The radio gives you better coverage,” she explained. And whenever the Os were losing, she counted on the third baseman. “Brooks is my man,” she’d say. Often, or so it seemed to us, Brooks would save the day. But those were winning days. For the O’s. For Baltimore. And for America, and “the West,” too.
Kicking Butt: Here’s the latest news from France. Bloomberg: "French Ambassador exits Niger after standoff with military junta." Even just a few years ago, France would have sent in the gendarmes, who would have kicked some African butts…passed around some francs to the local strongmen…and set things in order. No more. Now it withdraws.
But it is not just France that is losing its empire; it is “the West.” The BRICs are rising. The yuan is being used in place of the dollar. And though the US can still kick butt…the butts don’t stay kicked for long.
Europeans were the first to get the benefits of the Industrial Revolution. One of those benefits, if you can call it that, was increased firepower. They used it to shoot their way into control of much of the entire world. The US was late to the blast-fest – having been restrained by the wisdom of its founding fathers and preoccupied by its own North American conquests. But by the end of the 19th century, it had the world’s largest economy…and troops on the other side of the Pacific.
Many colonial possessions were granted independence after WWII…often disastrously…but “the West” was still the world’s leading power group. After the Soviet Union gave up the fight, in 1991, it was unchallenged. But those days are gone. Brooks is gone. No one saves the day.
The ‘experts’ – foreign policy scholars…diplomats…retired generals…and geostrategy buffs – have taught us so much about the Ukraine; if they continue, soon we will think it is north of Japan…and is the birthplace of country western music. These ‘experts’ convinced the US to commit more than $100 billion to the war. Now, it appears that no victory is possible. As Yogi Berra would say, “it’s déjà vu all over again.”
A Whole New Quagmire: In last weekend’s New York Times word mulch, Tom Friedman explained that he visited Kyiv for three days. He was seeing what the Kyiv leadership wanted him to see and attending a conference of people who have the same shallow ideas he has. Now an expert himself, his doubts are gone. The scales lifted from his eyes; where he once saw darkly now he sees the truth clearly, face to face. And like the catastrophic campaign in Iraq, it is really very simple: it is a fight between good and evil, right versus wrong.
Or, maybe not. Here’s Bill Kristol, raising money for a group called “Republicans for Ukraine:” “When America arms Ukraine, we get a lot for a little. Putin is an enemy of America. We’ve used 5% of our defense budget to arm Ukraine, and with it, they’ve destroyed 50% of Putin’s Army. We’ve done all this by sending weapons from storage, not our troops. The more Ukraine weakens Russia, the more it also weakens Russia’s closest ally, China. America needs to stand strong against our enemies, that’s why Republicans in Congress must continue to support Ukraine.”
Sounds more like geo-politics than good vs. evil. And here’s Mitch McConnell, explaining why aid to the Ukraine really has little to do with democracy or justice: "American support for Ukraine is not charity. It’s in our own direct interests – not least because degrading Russia helps to deter China."
Again, question marks are desperately needed. How did Russia become an enemy of the US? What are we deterring China from? Why? And is Russia really being “degraded?” If Russians are to be worse off, how will Americans be any better off?
More Equal than Others: But maybe everyone now knows how the Great Game is played. No question marks needed. No need to speculate about Putin’s security concerns…nor about the encroachment of NATO…nor about the coup d’etat orchestrated by the CIA and Victoria Nuland.
Last week, Joe Biden gave a remarkable speech to the UN. He told the assembled notables such a series of whoppers we half expected his pants to catch fire. He made it known that America was in full support of “sovereignty,” “territorial integrity” and “a world governed by basic rules that apply equally to all nations.” He went on to characterize the Russo-Ukrainian war as Russia’s “war of conquest.”
How the delegates must have chuckled to themselves. They knew full well that Russia couldn’t even conquer neighboring Ukraine much less anything else. And of all the UN’s 193 members none violated the basic rules more often or more flagrantly than the US. In the 21st century alone, US soldiers intervened – often with remotely-launched drones – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria. It also sponsored dozens of ‘regime change’ efforts – including at least one this year, in which the elected and popular president of Pakistan, Imran Khan, was replaced in a coup d’etat. His sin? He was too “aggressively neutral” on the Russo-Ukrainian war.
Maybe the UN members also recalled the US-led attack on Serbia in 1999. It did so, with Russian backing, to support the Kosovans’ struggle for independence. But what had happened to its high regard for “independence” when Russia came to the aid of Donbas separatists, in the Russian-speaking area of Eastern Ukraine, 25 years later? Yeah…take us back to Kosovo…that’s where we want to go. Sure."
Joel's Note: "Readers of these pages will have noticed the aforementioned BRICS nations are adding letters faster than the LGBTQIA2S++ coalition. Only, unlike the latter acronym, the geopolitical bloc actually has a lot in common.
At its most recent meeting, in South Africa, the BRICS nations welcomed half a dozen new members – Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Ethiopia and Argentina. Astute geographers will notice that these countries have certain sea lane advantages. (Special thanks to our friend Byron King – a retired senior naval officer – for pointing this out!)
With Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, the BRICS+ nations essentially have control over the vital Strait of Hormuz, one of the so-called “choke points” for much of the world’s oil supply. With Egypt and Ethiopia (and, by extension, Eritrea), they’ve more or less got the Red Sea and Suez Canal covered. And by adding Argentina into the mix, along with South Africa, the BRICS control both Cape Horn, the passage around the bottom of the Americas, and the Cape of Good Hope, around the southern tip of Africa. What does this mean for trade routes? For global supply lines? For naval seaways?
We spoke yesterday with BPR’s Investment Director, Tom Dyson, who has a keen interest in shipping stocks…"Another reason I really love the tankers is because it is one of the few industries that benefit from disruption and chaos, which suits me. So for example, in a war, anytime war breaks out, tankers do well. Anytime there's just any chaos or disruption or foreclosures or geopolitical stuff, the tankers do well. They benefit from chaos, because as soon as you have to shift the routes around, you end up having to take the cargoes further and the ships become scarce again."
We’ll publish our full Private Briefing with Tom for BPR members this weekend… when we’re back down at the fin del mundo. If you’re not already a member, but want to join us, feel free to choose a plan that works for you, here…"
"Why is the U.S. refusing to call a halt to the Ukraine madness? Why can’t an era of “Peaceful Coexistence” in Europe and the world be declared or at least sought? How about détente with Russia? With Russia and China? What is wrong with that?
We’ll start peeling the onion by looking at the U.S. military-industrial complex. Of course, President Eisenhower warned us against the MIC over 60 years ago in his “Farewell Address” of January 20, 1961. Among other remarks he said: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
Today about 2.1 million people are employed by the defense industry. According to Acara Solutions, a major MIC recruiting firm, their average annual salary is $106,700, 40 percent higher than the national average. The companies they work for produced revenues in 2022 of $741 billion. How much of their production is high-priced junk, no one knows. The performance of U.S.-produced armaments in the Ukraine conflict does not seem impressive. No modern U.S. weapons have ever been tested in an industrial-type war against an equal adversary.
The MIC also includes active-duty uniformed personnel of 1.37 million and reserves of 849,000. There are 750 U.S. military bases in more than 80 countries outside of the U.S. More than 100,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed in Europe. Annual salary and benefits of the military are currently $146 billion per year, escalating with COLAs compounded at two to three percent annually, sometimes more. Some former U.S. military personnel are assumed to be fighting in Ukraine as mercenaries or helping direct the fighting from safe locations like Kiev or Lvov.
Then there are the civilian employees. According to the DoD, it employs more than 700,000 civilians “in an array of critical positions worldwide,” with compensation totaling about $70 billion. According to the Government Accountability Office, we may also add 560,000 contractor employees, whose compensation is typically higher than the career workforce.
We can also add hundreds of thousands of executives, managers, employees and contractors of the three-letter Deep State agencies, such as the CIA, NSA, DEA, FBI, and now DHS, etc., who interface with the MIC day in and day out and are part of the same fabric of state-sanctioned force and enemy identification and interdiction.
Added to the above are members of Congress who vote on military budgets and make the laws that protect the MIC from accountability, lobbyists who pressure those members to cast votes favorable to their MIC clients, private sector financial service employees who handle the retirement accounts of the MIC multitude, foreigners who are employed at overseas bases, and various scoundrels and hangers-on. I would include in the latter category the multitude of MIC cheerleaders from Hollywood who produce trashy spectacles like "Top Gun."
On top of everything else, there are millions of retirees drawing annuities in excess of what most working-class Americans earn, many of these retirees double - or triple-dipping with lucrative jobs in business or government.
Each of the above individuals supports multiple family members, workers, and vendors within the civilian economy who, with the ripple effect and velocity of money, keep entire towns, cities, states, regions, and industries afloat. An example is building the F-35 that has workers assembling it in 350 congressional districts. It is probably no exaggeration to say that given the vast exiting of civilian U.S. factories and jobs over the last half-century to cheap-labor countries abroad, the MIC is probably the principal economic engine of the U.S. as a whole.
So are we going to tell what adds up to tens of millions of people, sorry, your services are no longer needed? Good luck with that. And isn’t it obvious that all these people, especially the higher echelons, are going to do everything within their power to persuade us that their jobs are so essential that without them we will shortly be overwhelmed and eaten alive by every “enemy” on the planet?
If you doubt what I am saying, ask any retired colonel or general who has hired himself out as a talking head to CNN or MSNBC. It’s also why DoD has formally declared Russia and China our two “adversaries,” because, after all, you have to point the finger at someone and blame them for your own dysfunctional society.
But as I witnessed personally in my NASA days, many MIC personnel never do a lick of honest work, or are mainly occupied with paper shuffling or other busywork, especially with work-at-home now the vogue, with many spending their days surfing the internet, or worse, while drawing a level of pay that puts most civilian workers in the shade.
Not to mention stay-at-home mothers, teachers and caregivers, first responders, law enforcement personnel, food service employees, or the unemployed, underemployed, or homeless. Yet many of these people, while working hard for low pay, if any, have a sense of fulfillment and self-worth that surpasses the swarms of MIC bureaucrats who can’t help but feel degraded in their superfluous and often pointless vocational stagnation.
Is all this enough to create an imperative for World War III? You tell me. It certainly has to be a contributing factor. Plus it saps the nation’s natural strength. We could even say that the U.S. war machine is a cancerous tumor that has metastasized throughout the entirety of American society, polluting and corrupting every aspect of life, including the body politic, the environment, the entertainment industry, the mass media, education, scientific research, etc.
It was the military, for example, that supported planning for the U.S. lockdowns during the COVID so-called pandemic, as documented by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in his monumental indictment of Big Pharma/MIC collusion in his book "The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health."
A subset of the question whether the MIC could drive us to war for its own selfish reasons is whether a president, a political party, or the Deep State itself could use the MIC to generate a war to save their own sorry asses at a time of scandal or possible election loss, along the lines of the movie "Wag the Dog?"
We’ll leave that an open question for now. At least Tucker Carlson seems to think so in his forecast that the Biden administration will spark a hot war with Russia before the 2024 election. Of course, we can’t know what they are really planning, because they hide behind billions of classified documents and imprison those who dare to lift the veil of secrecy. We are vaguely aware that the top dogs have their own “continuity of government” plans with hidden bunkers, an “underground Pentagon,” caches of MREs that can last decades, etc. Just don’t ask to see any of this.
Every war the U.S. has fought since Korea, including the proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, has been an MIC bonanza. Then there’s the simple fact that if you are an individual possessing a weapon of any kind, whether a military pistol or an ICBM, despite the protocols that govern their use, you still fantasize about using that weapon on somebody. This alone creates a societal imperative towards war. Plus I have had the wife of an MIC worker tell me straight up that she favored war because otherwise how would their family eat?
Another way to look at it is that we have a deeply entrenched system of military socialism. I happen to think it’s very corrupt, very inefficient, and very dangerous.
Is Brics+ Vs. The West Deciding The Parameters Of The Conflict? This brings us to the subject of economics. The national level of expenditure on the MIC and its role as the central tent pole of the U.S. economy certainly point to economic motives in any stampede to war. But wealth depends on resources and their exploitation. In fact, the seizure of the world’s resources had become a finely-honed specialty of the European powers, with the U.S. joining in the later stages, during the entire era of colonization. Even today, the populations of former Western colonies continue to work the farms, plantations, mines, and transport facilities of Western owners.
Of course, the Europeans and Americans have been justifying their expropriation of the resources of other countries for centuries by virtue of ideologies like “right of conquest,” “survival of the fittest,” “white man’s burden, etc.,” always proclaiming shock at native resistance. During the 19th century, such resistance was decisively subdued by the invention of the Maxim machine gun.
The U.S. gained early experience in grabbing the land and its bounty through dispossession of Native Americans and the massive growth of slave-worked plantation agriculture. Westward expansion brought the taking of land for gold and silver prospecting. By the time the U.S. began to gain colonies, the rich soil of Hawaii offered wealth to pineapple growers. A prime motive of the Spanish-American War was confiscation of Cuban sugar plantations. In Central America it was bananas and coffee. In Chile it was copper.
At the turn of the 20th century, U.S. bankers lent money to the British to aid them in fighting the Boers in order to secure the incredible deposits of diamonds and gold beneath the surface in South Africa. We also know that U.S. bankers saw a great business opportunity in the chance to lend money to Britain and France in order for them to prosecute World War I against Germany. After that war, the Rockefeller oil empire began its expansion into the Middle East. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is suspected to have baited Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor because there was nothing better than a good war to boost employment after failing to create a full-employment economy during the Great Depression. When the “War on Terror” commenced, the chief topic on the agenda at President George W. Bush’s staff meetings was the takeover of Iraq’s oil fields.
Today, the MIC has one overriding mission: protect the overseas interests of big U.S. banks, investment and hedge funds, and multinational corporations. The biggest U.S. defense firm is Lockheed, which itself is largely owned by three giant hedge funds: State Street, Vanguard, and BlackRock. The CIA is there to control foreign governments, overthrow them as needed, and keep foreign leaders and journalists on the payroll while quaking with fear for their careers or even lives. The paradigm is most egregious in Europe, which the Anglo-Americans view as vassals, with the E.U. a policeman. NATO is an enforcement mechanism for U.S./U.K. control, not to defend against Russia, which today has no discernible interest in political control over Europe, even if it were capable of making such a move, which it isn’t.
Rather than defend against a non-existent Russian threat, the West would love to get its hands on Russian oil, gas, and mineral resources, as it began to do in the 1990s before Putin took over and fostered a nationalistic revival. The U.S. had long been targeting the Caspian Basin and Central Asia, which now seemed vulnerable with the separation from Russia of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. These countries are still in play for the West, as are the microstates of the Caucasus.
The 2014 U.S.-sponsored coup in Ukraine was partly for acquisition of Ukrainian land and resources, including the fertile farmland of the steppes. Big players are Cargill, ADM, and BlackRock, along with numerous E.U. companies. Despite global warming and professions of getting rid of fossil fuels, trying to get hold of hydrocarbons worldwide remains a matter of Western urgency.
But with the current situation, another dimension is “dollar hegemony.” This brings us to BRICS. Perhaps the biggest threat to Western economic imperialism is the formation of the economic compact consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. As the Ukraine conflict deepens, BRICS expansion has become of particular importance to Russia, as it is obviously a means of outflanking the West and beating it at its own geopolitical game.
At the South African BRICS summit of August 22-24, 2023, six new nations were added: Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Argentina, leading to BRICS+. Added to the earlier rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the effects of BRICS and its expansion are seismic. Additional nations that have expressed an interest in BRICS are Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Gabon, Kazakhstan, and at least a dozen others.
The potential of BRICS is the inclusion of half or more of the world’s population. BRICS economies had overtaken G-7 economies by 2012, and the gap between BRICS and G-7 economies is widening irreversibly.
GDP is not a viable measure of economic performance for “reserve currency” nations like the U.S. that can print money “out of thin air.” But there is a linear relationship between real goods production and energy. Thus a much more reliable economic performance evaluation can be inferred from electricity generation, as the following chart illustrates:
The following can be noted:
• The BRICS economies overtook G-7 economies in 2012, with the gap increasing steadily since.
• G-7 economies have not witnessed any growth since the 2008-2009 “Great Financial Crisis.”
• G-7 economies have shrunk by 6 percent since their peak in 2007.
• BRICS economies were 50 percent greater than G-7 economies by 2020.
• BRICS+ economies (BRICS plus six candidate countries) were 60 percent greater than G-7 economies by 2020.
The graph also explains why the BRICS nations are not pursuing aggressive policies, despite Western propaganda, as they view time as being on their side. Naturally they refuse the “reserve currency” prerogative which allows G-7 countries to siphon hard earned wealth from the rest of the world. The most worrying aspect for the U.S. is the obvious intention of BRICS to foster trade exchanges in local currencies, bypassing the primacy of the dollar, and secondarily the Euro.
According to Stephen Jen, CEO of Eurizon SLJ Capital Ltd. and former IMF/Morgan Stanley economist, “The dollar share in foreign reserves has lost about 11 percent since 2016. The decisive event has been Western sanctions and the freezing of Russia’s dollar reserves.” He adds: “Taking purchasing power into account the BRICS nations currently account for 32 percent of global economic output, compared to 30 percent covered by the G7 countries.” This differential is bound to worsen as new nations are added to BRICS.
As BRICS, ASEAN and other countries increasingly trade in national currencies in lieu of Western reserve currencies, this results in weakening of those Western currencies, as evidenced by the drop in their purchasing power, aka inflation. Over time, the standards of living commensurate with the production of tradable goods will result in growing poverty in the U.S. and the EU that will result in social instability. But the damage will fall largely to the lower income echelons, resulting in growth in an already unsustainable wealth disparity, with the GINI factor for wealth distribution in the U.S. reaching 0.85 in 2020.
This explains several observations:
Why BRICS do not find it necessary to issue a new currency: Trade in national currencies will bring an end to the wealth siphoning mechanism of U.S. dollar hegemony.
Why Russia and China are trying to maintain non-confrontational policies despite provocations: As trade away from the U.S., UK, and EU increases with growing use of national currencies, political instability, particularly in the most de-industrialized Western nations, will result. Social discontent and political instability can already be witnessed throughout the West. This will only increase as impoverishment spreads due to depreciating currencies, leading to eventual implosion of the neoliberal political system. Thus Russia, China, and other sovereign nations have adopted a policy of “wait it out” rather than risk a kinetic war which would result in the deaths of millions. Nevertheless, these countries are embarking on an accelerated program of military development, along with strengthened alliances, in case war is inevitable.
Why the West is embarking on highly aggressive policies: The neoliberal cabals in control of the West realize that the changes occurring in the world, particularly as regards the monetary and financial global architecture, spell their doom, and hence are increasingly acting hysterically, fomenting conflict and chaos wherever they can.
It is dollar hegemony, dating back to the World War II-era Bretton Woods Agreements and the Nixonian removal of the international currency gold peg, that has allowed the U.S. to attempt overcoming its massive trade deficit and its public debt at $33.1 trillion and growing. Only by selling trillions of dollars of Treasury bonds to foreign countries, especially China, Japan, and Korea, has the U.S. been able to straddle the globe with the hundreds of military bases and other facilities it relies on to secure a world order friendly to its interests. For decades, foreign countries have needed dollars to trade in petroleum and other commodities. But with BRICS, that imperative may end sooner rather than later. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has said this will never happen, but other policy makers are seeing the writing on the wall.
Are the prospects of BRICS so serious that the U.S. could launch World War III against its main powers, Russia, China, and now Iran, as a last-ditch act of desperation as its entire world order veers toward collapse? It hardly bodes well that these three nations, along with North Korea, have been identified by Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee as the new “axis of evil.” She speaks for much of the U.S. political class."