“No Longer Reversible”: China’s Low Fertility Rate And Birth Restrictions Set Stage For Disaster

While China has embarked on ambitious plans for economic and military domination over the next several decades, they may end up defeating themselves without a single shot fired – thanks to their longstanding birth restrictions, shrinking fertility rate and exploding elderly population.  

Economically speaking, the problem is easy to understand; a shrinking labor pool due to restrictive reproductive laws tends to drive up wages, while a rapidly growing elderly population requires more spending on pensions and health care. “In a worse-case scenario, slowing growth and a labor shortage could leave China unable to care for hundreds of millions of retirees,” notes the Wall Street Journal.

China’s clinging to birth restrictions defies a clear demographic trend: Its workforce is shrinking and the population is rapidly aging. By 2050, there will be 1.3 workers for each retiree, according to official estimates, compared with 2.8 now.

No matter what the government does now, it is too late to significantly change the overall trend because of social attitudes, say demographers such as Gu Baochang, a professor of demography at Renmin University in Beijing. –WSJ

While some experts have argued that slower population growth could mitigate pressure on China to create new jobs as technology increases productivity, others think China is in deep trouble…

They should have lifted all birth restrictions before 2010,” says Baochang. “Whatever steps they take now, China’s low-fertility trend is no longer reversible.” In three decades, 1/3 of China’s population is predicted to be over the age of 60.

The chart below shows annual change in million persons (red line) and total child bearing population (blue columns).  From 2018 through 2033, China (with net emigration, to boot) will see an average annual decline of nearly 6 million Chinese capable of creating more Chinese (or the equivalent of losing the population of a Missouri, Wisconsin, or Maryland every year for at least the next decade and a half). –Chris Hamilton, Economica blog

Meanwhile, China’s one-child policy, and now two-child policy, has conditioned the population to shun large families

In a generation that grew up without siblings, a one-child mind-set is deeply entrenched. Maternity-leave policies have been expanded but some women say taking leave twice is a career impediment. An All-China Women’s Federation survey found 53% of respondents with one child didn’t want a second.

Even without birth limits, China’s economic development would have reduced fertility rates, says Martin Whyte, a Harvard University Chinese-studies expert. That has been the pattern elsewhere in the world: When incomes rise, the sizes of families tend to go down. –WSJ

If the nation drops birth policies now, says Whyte, “China will learn what many other countries have learned—that it is much more difficult to get people to have more babies” than to force them to stop having them.

Rapid Aging

In May of 2017, Moody’s cited China’s rapidly aging population as a major factor in their decision to downgrade their sovereign rating, as an explosion in elder care is expected to erode household savings and strain government coffers – jeopordizing the government’s already hefty debt load. The ratings agency predicted China’s economic growth could potentially slow to around 5% over the next five years vs. a 2017 rate of 6.9%. 

“China is really interesting and unique,” said Marie Diron, a Moody’s analyst of sovereign risk, “because it is aging so much earlier than anyone else.

Compounding China’s problem is the fact that it has one of the lowest retirement ages in the world, at 55 on average – while Beijing has been reluctant to implement a plan to gradually raise it. 

Officials had originally indicated they would present the plan last year. It was left out of measures unveiled at the congress in March, in which Beijing said the new ministry “will actively deal with the aging of the population,” with measures to develop the elderly-care sector and health-care reform.

Past policy changes haven’t fixed the trend—not even ending the one-child policy did. Newborns rose by 1.3 million in 2016, the first year without the policy—less than half the official projection—to 17.86 million, from 2015, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. 

In 2017, births slowed to 17.23 million, well below the official forecast of more than 20 million. -WSJ

Breakin’ the law

China’s reluctance to further soften their tone on birth restrictions is also leading to friction within local communities and at the workplace. 

When Ms. Li, the Qingdao professor, refused to abort her third child, she said, her university employer accused her of selfishly putting at risk her supervisors’ careers, the school’s future and co-workers’ bonuses. A university spokeswoman didn’t respond to faxed inquiries.

With the help of local church friends, her family moved to the Philippines, where she gave birth in November. –WSJ

Other countries with shrinking workforces have tried to stave off economic disaster by raising retirement ages or relying on immigration. Singapore, for example, has very liberal immigration policies and offers a “baby bonus” as high as 10,000 Singapore dollars ($7,500) along with grants available for parents which can be used for healthcare and education. 

Japan, meanwhile, has shuffled healthy retirees back into the workforce – along with various technological aides to make up for age-related deficiencies. 

In some cases, the solution lies in technologies that help offset senior workers’ deficiencies, like the exoskeletons used by Obayashi at its construction site. The Fujisawa Aikoen nursing home about an hour outside Tokyo started leasing the “hybrid assistive limb,” or HAL, exoskeletons from maker Cyberdyne Inc. in June.

At an office-building construction site in the center of Japan’s capital, 67-year-old Kenichi Saito effortlessly stacks 44-pound boards with the ease of a man half his age.

His secret: a bendable exoskeleton hugging his waist and thighs, with sensors attached to his skin. The sensors detect when Mr. Saito’s muscles start to move and direct the machine to support his motion, cutting his load’s effective weight by 18 pounds. –WSJ (2015)

“In Hokkaido, 60-year-old potato-pickers use rubber “smart suits” making it easier to bend over. Baggage handlers at Tokyo’s Haneda airport employ similar assistance,” reports the Journal.

Back to China, President Xi Jinping has acknowledged the need to breed – stating in 2015 that China needs more births, while omitting a traditional reference to “family planning” in his party-congress report.

“I think Xi’s views about demography are clear: He considers population more as a resource than a burden,” said Huang Wenzheng, a researcher at the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based independent think tank, and a co-founder of a hedge-fund firm that invests globally. “But of course he cannot easily abandon the family-planning policy because that would be a sharp turn away from his predecessors’ policies.” –WSJ

Geriatric Chinese scooter gang in the movie “Go Grandriders” 

 

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How Facebook Secretly Suppresses Key Truths

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

On April 23rd, the great independent investigative journalist, Craig Murray – a former British diplomat – headlined at his blog, “Condemned By Their Own Words”, and he posted there the translated-to-English transcript (excerpted below) to this Israeli radio Hebrew broadcast on April 21st, in which an Israeli Brigadier-General, named Fogel, explained why Israel’s troops are doing the right thing to shoot and even to kill Gazans who come (an unspecified) too close to the wall which separates Israel from Gaza:

Any person who gets close to the fence, anyone who could be a future threat to the border of the State of Israel and its residents, should bear a price for that violation. If this child or anyone else gets close to the fence in order [the soldier thinks possibly] to hide an explosive device or [to] check if there are any dead zones there or to cut the fence so someone could infiltrate the territory of the State of Israel to kill us …

Nesiel [the interviewer]: Then, then his punishment [for being suspected] is death?

Fogel: His punishment is death. As far as I’m concerned then yes, if you can only shoot him to stop him, in the leg or arm – great. But if it’s more than that then, yes, you want to check with me whose blood is thicker, ours or theirs. It is clear to you that if one such person will manage to cross the fence or hide an explosive device there …

Nesiel: But we were taught that live fire is only used when the soldiers face immediate danger. … It does not do all that well for us, those pictures that are distributed around the world.

Fogel: Look, Ron, we’re even terrible at it [at suppressing those pictures]. There’s nothing to be done, David always looks better against Goliath. And in this case, we are the Goliath. Not the David. That is entirely clear to me. … It will drag us into a war. I do not want to be on the side that gets dragged. I want to be on the side that initiates things. I do not want to wait for the moment where it finds a weak spot and attacks me there. If tomorrow morning it gets into a military base or a kibbutz and kills people there and takes prisoners of war or hostages, call it as you like, we’re in a whole new script. I want the leaders of Hamas to wake up tomorrow morning and for the last time in their life see the smiling faces of the IDF [Israel’s army]. That’s what I want to have happen. But we are dragged along. So we’re putting snipers up because we want to preserve the values we were educated by [that Israel’s soldiers are jury, judge, and even executioner, when suspecting a Gazan — Gaza is Israel’s free-fire zone].

The interviewer didn’t challenge any of that, though he didn’t like “those pictures are distributed around the world” (except, perhaps, in U.S. and UK and some of Israel’s other allies — but Israel wants all nations to block the truth). 

Murray closed by adding a very brief comment of his own:

“There is no room to doubt the evil nature of the expansionist apartheid state that Israel has now become. Nor the moral vacuity of its apologists in the western media.”

Since this was, of course, a damning statement about mainstream ‘news’ media in The West, these mainstream ‘news’ media, including Facebook, can be expected to dislike that — and they evidently do.

On April 25th Murray headlined “Blocked By Facebook and the Vulnerability of New Media”, and he reported: 

This site’s visitor numbers are currently around one third normal levels, stuck at around 20,000 unique visitors per day. The cause is not hard to find. Normally over half of our visitors arrive via Facebook. These last few days, virtually nothing has come from Facebook:

What is especially pernicious is that Facebook deliberately imposes this censorship in a secretive way. The primary mechanism when a block is imposed by Facebook is that my posts to Facebook are simply not sent into the timelines of the large majority of people who are friends or who follow. I am left to believe the post has been shared with them, but in fact it has only been shown to a tiny number. Then, if you are one of the few recipients and do see the post and share it, it will show to you on your timeline as shared, but in fact the vast majority of your own friends will also not receive it. Facebook is not doing what it is telling you it is doing – it shows you it is shared – and Facebook is deliberately concealing that fact from you.

Twitter have a similar system known as “shadow banning”. Again it is secretive and the victim is not informed. I do not appear to be shadow banned at the moment, but there has been an extremely sharp drop – by a factor of ten – in the impressions my tweets are generating.

I am among those who argue that the strength of the state and corporate media is being increasingly and happily undermined by our ability to communicate via social media. But social media has developed in such a way that the channels of communication are dominated by corporations – Facebook, Twitter and Google – which can in effect turn off the traffic to a citizen journalism site in a second. The site is not taken down, and the determined person can still navigate directly to it, but the vast bulk of the traffic is cut off. What is more this is done secretly, without your being informed, and in a manner deliberately hard to detect. The ability to simply block the avenues by which people get to see dissenting opinions, is terrifying.

Furthermore neither Facebook nor Twitter contact you when they block traffic to your site to tell you this is happening, let alone tell you why, and let alone give you a chance to counter whatever argument they make. I do not know if I am blocked by Facebook as an alleged Russian bot, or for any other reason. I do know that it appears to have happened shortly after I published the transcript of the Israeli general discussing the procedures for shooting children.

There is a widespread and coordinated operation by the major media against any independent sites which document things that the Establishment, the aristocracy, the “Deep State,” or however you call the controlling owners of the corporations that advertise in and own the media, hire their journalists and editors to block from reaching the public. This is a multifaceted but coordinated operation, of censoring-out the key truths, which are those truths that none of the controlling owners want the public to know (such as Craig Murray has now, apparently, done once too often for Facebook to continue allowing). This is how they are enabled to use the government so that it serves them, and not the public-at-large. This is, likewise, the source of the obscene inequality of wealth that results, the vast economic inequality that they all benefit from at the public’s expense. Money is power, and they have it. And they use it, against the powerless. Though the controlling owners compete amongst themselves to sell to the public, they all suppress these key truths from reaching the public; because, if they did not, then the ‘wrong’ politicians would get elected to public offices. Whereas some of the ‘right’ politicians are Republicans, and some are Democrats, they all serve the same aristocracy, just different sides of it.

Here’s another example of how this works: The CIA is a branch of the U.S. federal government that virtually only serves America’s aristocracy, which is why it lies — consciously misrepresents — in almost everything it says publicly about international relations, such as it did in 2002, when it said that Saddam Hussein still had and still was building weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. government, of which the CIA is a part, used that ‘information’ to ‘justify’ invading and occupying a nation (Iraq) which had never invaded nor even threatened to invade the United States. They’re doing the same in Syria, Libya, UkraineYemen, etc. It’s key truths that are kept hidden from the public. The key truths are the ones that expose and disprove the lies that the Establishment push.

Wikipedia is an example of this. Wikipedia is edited by the CIA, not only in the sense that anyone (including you) can edit what is on Wikipedia, but also in the sense that Wikipedia itself blocks edits or changes that introduce facts and evidence which disprove some of the allegations that are made in Wikipedia articles, and that Wikipedia doesn’t tell such a person why a revision or addition to the article was rejected and will not be considered by Wikipedia: the secret people who control the articles, and the secret process by which they do it, are secrets, disclosed to no outsiders, but known to the people who control Wikipedia. The perpetrators know what the key truths are, but the public do not, because the media hide the key truths.

Furthermore, major news media that report things which aren’t so, are no longer simply burying their after-the-fact ‘corrections’ so that perhaps only 1% of the people who were deceived by an article get to see that it had been false, but now also by simply refusing to issue any ‘correction’ at all — they’re totally ignoring the reader’s right not to be deceived by that major news medium. (Most such ‘news’ media have also terminated or else severely limited their reader-comments section, because otherwise a reader-comment could slip through that disproves the given ‘news’ article, and the aristocratically controlled media’s goal is to block those truths from reaching their audience.)

The Washington Post, which made famous the accusation that non-mainstream newsmedia are fake news, is itself a leader of fake ‘news’ and was so during 2002 and early 2003 by stenographically reporting to its readership the George W. Bush administration’s falsehoods about “Saddam’s WMD” and the rightfulness for America to invade a country (Iraq) that never invaded nor even threatened to invade the United States.

The entire major media, and almost all of the ‘alternative’ media, are owned or otherwise controlled by the ruling aristocracy and censor out crucial facts that disprove allegations that the government (the ruling aristocracy) wants the public not to know. Above all, they exclude articles like the present one, which (like all articles I do) is being submitted to all of them for publication free-of-charge. So: wherever this article is not published, you know that fake ‘news’ is published. For example, that’s how America now is invading and occupying many countries — all on the basis of lying, because none of these nations invaded the United States, ever, and none is invading the United States now; America’s invasions, in recent decades, have all been blatant violations of international law.

If the American people knew this, then would we vote for the politicians who tolerate it, and who vote for it? If so, then the American public, and not only the American aristocracy, stands convicted, even though there is no force in the world that enforces international laws, except against the countries that the U.S. aristocracy wants to take over via coups or invasions. For the American public knowingly to support this outlaw aristocracy would be for it to be complicit with them in its constant and enormously destructive crimes against humanity. But the aristocracy doesn’t want to share the guilt, because then it would share the knowledge, and then the aristocracy’s enormous power would erode and maybe even collapse. Hiding the key truths is thus essential to the aristocracy. That explains the ‘news’ media.

And this explains America as the permanent-war-for-permanent-‘peace’ champion of the entire world. Of course, if international law were equitably enforced, then every U.S. President in recent decades would be and die in prison. So, obviously, only the few (and none of them are anything close to being “mainstream”) honest newsmedia will publish this article. You can web-search for this article to find out which ones they are. All the others don’t want you to know the truths that this article reports and (via its links) documents.

Is this article alleging a conspiracy? No major corporation exists that doesn’t carry out conspiracies, because that’s essential to their success. The very allegation that conspiracies don’t exist amongst the most powerful people and even within and between the most powerful organizations, is ludicrous, but the aristocracy everywhere brainwashes the public everywhere, to think that only the ‘they’ perpetrate conspiracies, the ‘we’ don’t. They all do; it’s the way that the world actually works, which is the reason why the aristocracy hide this — the most basic fact about the world. They do it in order to block the public from understanding how things actually happen. And they block the public from understanding that no mass of people conspires — ‘the Jews’ ‘the Masons’, etc. — but that only the very few people at the very top can, and do, and that they must in order to remain successful and in power. It’s called, and it is, in fact, “strategizing.” That is what a conspiracy does, anywhere: it develops and executes strategy. To keep the public dumb and misled, the hired propagandists allege the exact opposite.

So: just web-search for this article, and you will see yet more evidence that what it says is true — that it is hidden, not published, by all the ‘respectable’ news-outlets. Like most of the articles I write, it is sent to all of them as a dare — and none of them accepts the dare and publishes anything from me. This is one of the ways I know that what I write about the way that the ‘news’ media work, is true, and that what they say about the way that they work, is false. I am continually testing them, and hoping for one of them to prove me wrong, just one time. It hasn’t happened, yet.

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Saudi Crown Prince Bombshell To Jewish Leaders: Palestinians Must “Accept Peace Or Shut Up”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) issued a stunning and unprecedented rebuke to Palestinian leadership while speaking to US Jewish groups in the midst of the prince’s American tour last month.

MBS reportedly told the heads of Jewish organizations in a closed-door meeting in New York on March 27th that Palestinians should either accept peace proposals or “shut up,” according to Axios.

Multiple diplomatic sources, including a leaked Israeli foreign ministry cable sent from the Israeli consulate in New York, confirm the statements which shocked the audience to the point that “people literally fell off their chairs.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Image source: Egypt Today

The unexpected words came just as the Trump administration is reportedly finalizing its long-vaunted plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, drafted under the leadership of Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, and after tensions were inflamed with Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December.

Axios reports the Saudi crown prince’s words as follows:

“In the last several decades the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all the peace proposals it was given. It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiations table or shut up and stop complaining.

Since Saudi Arabia’s founding in 1932 and subsequent diplomatic embroilment in Israeli-Palestinian matters, especially after the Jewish state’s establishment in 1948, it has staunchly been on the Palestinian side (though often merely from a distance), accusing the Israelis of genocide and expansionist aggression against surrounding Arab nations. As a charter member of the Arab League it actively fought against the establishment of Israel, and also voted against the original U.N. Partition Plan for Palestine. The Saudis sent troops to fight on the allied Arab side in multiple conflicts with Israel, and the two have never had diplomatic relations. 

However, events in the region of the past few years such as the war in Syria, and related to this their common concern over Hezbollah and Iran’s growing influence, has brought the two unlikely and strange bedfellows into a closer relationship, especially in the area of intelligence sharing and possible joint covert action in pursuit of regime change in Damascus. 

Like Israel, MBS has lately made it clear that the kingdom’s top priority is thwarting Iran, as Axios further reports of the crown prince’s main points during the meeting with American Jewish leaders:

He made clear the Palestinian issue was not a top priority for the Saudi government or Saudi public opinion. MBS said Saudi Arabia “has much more urgent and important issues to deal with” like confronting Iran’s influence in the region.

Regardless of all his criticism of the Palestinian leadership, MBS also made clear that in order for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to normalize relations with Israel there will have to be significant progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

But US-Palestinian relations are at their lowest point in many years, with the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Mahmoud Abbas currently boycotting the White House since the December 6th recognition of Jerusalem, and later plans to relocate the American Embassy there from Tel Aviv. Once the new White House peace plan is rolled out, if ever, it will most certainly be dead in the water from the moment it’s publicized. 

At the same time ongoing protests in the Gaza Strip as part of the “Great March of Return” protests have resulted in immense Palestinian casualties — more than 40 dead and thousands wounded since March 30 according to Israeli media sources — with the vast majority killed and injured as a result of live ammunition used by Israeli security forces. 

So with Gaza currently inflamed, Palestinians will no doubt see the timing of Saudi crown prince bin Salman’s words as the ultimate and final stab in the back — though the Saudis have already long been seen by Palestinians as compromised double-dealers, using their plight as a geopolitical chess piece only when convenient. 

Furthermore, the Saudis will now be perceived even more as a U.S. pawn (and thus Israeli pawn too) on the Palestine question — this as newly sworn in Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo flew to Saudi Arabia over the weekend in a hasty visit to cement the anti-Iran alliance while reinvigorating support for new sanctions against Iran. 

All of this will only serve to underscore Palestinians’ perception that regional and world leaders will continue to merely pay lip service to any Israeli-Palestinian peace process as Iran has now fully taken front and center stage. 

 

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Mike Pence Physician Behind Ronny Jackson Attacks: Report

Vice President Mike Pence’s Army physician, Dr. Jennifer Pena, is behind a series of salacious allegations against Ronny Jackson – President Trump’s White House physician and nominee to lead the Veterans Affairs Department, according to four administration officials who told the very connected Sara Carter.

According to four administration officials, the main allegations were brought forth by Vice President Mike Pence’s Army physician Dr. Jennifer Pena, who is assigned to Pence by the White House Medical Unit and does not work directly for the office of the Vice President. Those officials contend Pena has held a long-time grudge against Jackson because of his continuing promotions in the White House.

She began her career at the White House during the Obama administration. According to the officials, Pena, who is still active military and assigned to the White House Military Office, did not follow proper protocol to report on the allegations. Instead, she went directly to the Senate with the support of some current and former White House medical staff who were her loyalists. None of the allegations she allegedly brought forth have been substantiated. –Sara Carter

Jackson – who served under three Presidents, withdrew himself from consideration for the VA role on Thursday following bombshell allegations of being intoxicated while on the clock and improperly dispensing medication – reportedly passing out Ambien, Provigil and other prescription drugs “like they were candy.” 

President Trump responded to the allegations, telling reporters that Jackson was “one of the finest people that I have ever met.”

While Jackson has denied the claims as “completely false and fabricated,” he said he was withdrawing his name from consideration because he had become a distraction for Trump and his agenda. 

The White House had defended Jackson amid the allegations, which were detailed in a report released by ranking member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) on Wednesday. Tester and committee chairman Johnny Isackson (R-Ga.) jointly announced the postponement of Jackson’s hearing and sent a letter to the administration asking for “any and all communications” between the White House and Defense Department about “allegations” on Jackson from 2006 to the present.

Committee member Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has said that the number of people who came forward with the allegations against Jackson that are detailed in the memo was in the double digits. Jackson allegedly wrote himself prescriptions and handed out drugs without prescriptions, including providing a “large supply” of the opioid painkiller Percocet to a White House military office staff member. Jackson also faces allegations that he drank on the job, and on one occasion “could not be reached when needed because he was passed out drunk in his hotel room,” according to the memo.

The report also said Jackson “got drunk and wrecked a government vehicle” at a Secret Service going-away party. A White House official, however, told Sara Carter that there is “no evidence or documentation of the allegations that Jackson drove drunk and wrecked a government vehicle,” nor is there any evidence that he overprescribed medication or drinking on the job. 

Jackson abdicated his role as White House physician during his nomination, he “continues to work in the White House Medical Unit,” according to Carter. 

“(Jackson) is disgusted that the accusations have carried so much weight with nothing to back them up,” said a senior Trump administration official, who knows Jackson. “This is a vendetta in particular and these false allegations were given to members of Congress then leaked to the press. There is absolutely no merit to any of these stories…he’s disgusted with the whole thing.

This is like something like out of the show Madame Secretary,” said a former Bush Administration official, who knows Jackson and served with him in the White House. The official referenced the American political television series starring Tea Leone, which shows the seedy side of Washington D.C. and the backstabbing tactics of those trying to rise to the top. –Sara Carter

“Dr. Jackson was always professional and kind,” said the former Bush official. “I never heard of any of these allegations against him until Pena brought them to Congress. I never saw any evidence of this. It’s tragic what’s happened to him.”

Jackson has held numerous security clearances – and never had a disparaging report from the FBI, according to White House officials. Such clearances require investigators to do a deep dig which can last for months; interviewing friends, family, former employers, neighbors, co-workers and even old friends

The White House on Friday said officials conducted a thorough review of presidential Jackson’s vehicle records. They only found three minor incidents but there was no evidence supporting a document released by Senate Democrats this week that he “wrecked” a car after drinking at a Secret Service going-away party. –SC

The Secret Service released an official statement denying that its agents had to intervene during an overseas trip due to Jackson being intoxicated and pounding on a door which would have disturbed then-President Obama. 

Sen. Tester even admitted that he reviewed the FBI files and there was no derogatory information in there about Jackson but he still spread malicious rumors,” said a current Administration official.  “Certainly we would never nominate anybody who had derogatory information. Pena has had a long-standing feud with doctor Jackson…she’s very jealous that he’s been consistently promoted. This isn’t about being a whistleblower – there are other procedures for that. She went up to the hill and she spoke with approximately twenty-five Democrats…she’s a holdover in the White House and didn’t want Jackson to be nominated.


 

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Russia Launches “Floating Chernobyl” Bound For The Arctic

On Saturday, the world’s first floating nuclear power unit (FPU) dubbed ‘Academik Lomonosov’ departed from the region of Baltiyskiy Zavod in St. Petersburg, towed by two deep-sea tugboats.

The ‘Academik Lomonosov,’ a massive barge containing floating nuclear reactors, leaves St. Petersburg over the weekend. (Source: Anton Vaganov/TASS) 

A-News captures video of the departure

Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant has two KLT-40S reactor units that collectively generate 70 MW of energy. The tugs are currently underway — towing the vessel through the Baltic Sea to a port in northwestern Russia called Murmansk, where its reactors will be loaded with nuclear fuel.

According to the company that manufactured the floating power plant, state-owned Rosatom Corporation, Deputy Head of the Directorate for the Floating NPP Construction and Operation Dmitriy Alekseenko said in a press release that towing the vessel will occur in two stages: first from St. Petersburg to Murmansk, and then from Murmansk to Pevek.

“At the first stage, the FPU with no nuclear fuel on board will be towed from the territory of Baltiyskiy Zavod to the landing of Atomflot FSUE in Murmansk. Then, at the second stage (roughly in the summer of 2019) it will be sent from Murmansk to the seaport of Pevek, loaded with nuclear fuel and with the crew on board,” Alekseenko said.

After ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ is towed to Murmansk, “nuclear fuel will be loaded into the reactor, and it will be physically started-up in Murmansk this autumn,” said Rosatom’s press release.

Rosatom said the second leg of the journey, from Murmansk to Pevek, will begin in the second half of 2019. The vessel is expected to be towed “along the Northern Sea Route to the work site, unloaded at the mooring berth, and connected to the coastal infrastructure in Pevek,” added the press release.

Pevek is a small Arctic port town and the governmental center of Chaunsky District in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, located on Chaunskaya Bay.

Once the floating nuclear power plant is moored and connected to the coastal infrastructure in Pevek, the nuclear reactors aboard will be used to power 100,000 homes in the region, a desalination plant, and critical energy infrastructure assets. Rosatom said the floating power plant “will replace the Bilibino nuclear power plant and Chaunskaya TPP that are technologically outdated,” and become the most northerly nuclear facility in the world.

However, the floating nuclear power plant has been extensively criticized by antipollutionist — Greenpeace has called it a “floating Chernobyl.”

“Nuclear reactors bobbing around the Arctic Ocean will pose a shockingly obvious threat to a fragile environment, which is already under enormous pressure from climate change,” Greenpeace nuclear expert Jan Haverkamp said in a statement.

“The floating nuclear power plants will typically be put to use near coastlines and shallow water … contrary to claims regarding safety, the flat-bottomed hull and the floating nuclear power plant’s lack of self-propulsion makes it particularly vulnerable to tsunamis and cyclones.”  

Meanwhile, Rosatom states  the vessel meets all requirements from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and “does not pose any threat to the environment.”

“The FNPP is designed with the great margin of safety that exceeds all possible threats and makes nuclear reactors invincible for tsunamis and other natural disasters. In addition, the nuclear processes at the floating power unit meet all requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and do not pose any threat to the environment.”

Do you want to know one of the most probable reasons why Russia would want a floating power plant in the Arctic? 

Speaking to reporters in 2017 after a conference with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Russia’s proposal to jointly explore the Northern Sea Route was “a great idea,” and that “China welcomes this idea and supports efforts with partners in the region to develop a ‘Silk Road on ice’.”

The Answer:  Provide the needed energy to built infrastructure for the ‘Silk Road on ice.’ 

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And Now Millennials Are Fleeing The Democratic Party

Authored by Tom Luongo,

Elections are governed by the middle-aged, political movements are sustained by youth. It’s no secret that older folks vote in higher proportions than younger. They simply have the most at stake in any election as changes in policy, usually taxes, affect them most.

But, the energy which sustains a political party comes from how well it can mobilize the youth.  And for two generations the youth in America sustained the Democrats through their appeals to emotion and ‘fairness’ through the lens of cultural Marxism and democratic socialism.

It doesn’t hurt that the institutions of education and media have been completely taken over by these ideologies to the point where we find ourselves today.  But, like all things that swing too far in one direction the counter trend begins to take hold.

So, color me not shocked when I see the results of a new poll that says Millennials are souring on the Democratic Party.  I knew they would and said so back in October of 2016 in an article called The Authenticity Gap.

But the big problem for Hillary is those [Bernie] millennials will not turn out for her.

This is a generation more aware of how screwed they are than mine was.  And while their political identity is in flux– reared on diet of Comedy Central snark as a coping mechanism for the lying — they have a near obsession with natural things – real fiber clothing, lumberjack fashion, farm-to-table food choices, etc.

They’ve turned their Masters of Social Justice into Ph.D’s in Cocktails, Cappuccinos and Craft Beers… and bless their hearts.  I can finally get a good whiskey sour when I visit my friends in South Florida.

At least now some of them are entrepreneurs.

Their cultural identity is one big cry for authenticity in a sea of smarm.Hillary’s authenticity gap is simply too big for many millennials to square with that value system.

Eighteen months later after Hillary’s historic rebuke it’s morphing into a general disdain for the reaction to it.  Millennial voters are moving away from Democrats in numbers that can only be termed horrific.

From the story at Reuters:

The online survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows their support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by about 9 percentage points over the past two years, to 46 percent overall. And they increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy.

Although nearly two of three young voters polled said they do not like Republican President Donald Trump, their distaste for him does not necessarily extend to all Republicans or translate directly into votes for Democratic congressional candidates.

The Democrats need the Millennials.  They are moving out of the youth vote and into the Middle Aged voting block.  The Homeland generation (as termed by Strauss and Howe of Fourthturning.com) or Generation Z will only further this trend as the Artist generational archetype.

The Millennials are the generation that will build the next version of society.  Their rejection of the Democrats while not embracing Trump or necessarily the Republicans points towards a different political identity which the Democrats have not figured out or have shown any willingness to counter.

Now with Kanye West trying to blow apart the co-dependent relationship between black voters and the DNC oligarchy, this country is ripe for a complete realignment of the political power structure.

This is not to say that the Libertarians or Greens will somehow swoop in to collect these disaffected Millennials.  No.  I think both parties are terminally compromised by DNC and RNC operatives and money to see them capitalize on this transition state.

I remember full well just how strongly the youth vote was energized for Ron Paul’s runs for president in 2008 and 2012 were.  He, smartly, encouraged them and made the point over and over that his movement wasn’t about him it was about the ideas of liberty and a new way to look at our politics.

It wasn’t enough to win him the presidency, and more’s the pity, but it set the stage for what we saw in 2016 and what we’re continuing to see today.  Trump is the current beneficiary of the flux we find ourselves in.  The Millennials and minorities the Democrats have taken for granted and mis-used if not outright abused for the past generation will not turn out for mid-term elections.

The history of voting in this country is quite clear on this.

So, whatever Blue Wave the DNC thinks its coming it’s not happening in 2018 if the fund-raising numbers are any indication, which are, frankly, terrible.  And if it doesn’t happen in 2018 and the pillars of the Democratic Party — Clinton, Obama, etc. — go to jail for attempting to frame a sitting president then it won’t happen in 2020 and beyond.

The Democrats are facing the kind of terminal loss of confidence that destroys political parties and the ideologies which back them.  It couldn’t happen to a nicer group of oligarchs.

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Chinese Factories Employ “Brain Scanners” To Stop Workers’ Mistakes Before They Happen

China’s “SkyNet” facial recognition tools can compare up to 3 billion faces per second to help the government enforce its new “social credit score” – the Communist Party’s latest and most widespread tool of political repression.

And now, private companies are being encouraged to go beyond surface recognition and peer into their workers’ brains as they deploy new brain scanners that monitor abnormalities in emotions and thought patterns.

China

When data scientists monitoring brain waves on the other end detect spikes in anger, anxiety or depression. When one is detected, the worker being monitored is asked by management to take the day off, or to move to a less-important role, according to the South China Morning Post.

Jin Jia, associate professor of brain science and cognitive psychology at Ningbo University’s business school, said a highly emotional employee in a key post could affect an entire production line, jeopardising his or her own safety as well as that of others.

“When the system issues a warning, the manager asks the worker to take a day off or move to a less critical post. Some jobs require high concentration. There is no room for a mistake,” she said.

The SCMP trumpeted the technology’s profit-boosting powers, quoting managers at several firms who claimed the technology had saved them hundreds of million – if not billions – of yuan by helping workers avoid mistakes.

The technology is also in use at in Hangzhou at State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power, where it has boosted company profits by about 2 billion yuan (US$315 million) since it was rolled out in 2014, according to Cheng Jingzhou, an official overseeing the company’s emotional surveillance programme.

“There is no doubt about its effect,” Cheng said.

The company and its roughly 40,000 employees manage the power supply and distribution network to homes and businesses across the province, a task that Cheng said they were able to do to higher standards thanks to the surveillance technology.

But he refused to offer more details about the programme.

Zhao Binjian, a manger of Ningbo Shenyang Logistics, said the company was using the devices mainly to train new employees. The brain sensors were integrated in virtual reality headsets to simulate different scenarios in the work environment.

“It has significantly reduced the number of mistakes made by our workers,” Zhao said, because of “improved understanding” between the employees and company.

One researcher said that while employees were initially suspicious of the brainwave-reading helmets, they’ve managed to adjust to the new technology.

“They thought we could read their mind. This caused some discomfort and resistance in the beginning,” she said.

“After a while they got used to the device. It looked and felt just like a safety helmet. They wore it all day at work.”

Even conductors on China’s high-speed rail lines use the technology. If the driver dozes off, the cap will set off an alarm to jerk them awake.

Deayea, a technology company in Shanghai, said its brain monitoring devices were worn regularly by train drivers working on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail line, one of the busiest of its kind in the world.

The sensors, built in the brim of the driver’s hat, could measure various types of brain activities, including fatigue and attention loss with an accuracy of more than 90 per cent, according to the company’s website.

If the driver dozed off, for instance, the cap would trigger an alarm in the cabin to wake him up.

And a Chinese airline is weighing introducing it in pilot’s cockpits.

Zheng Xingwu, a professor of management at the Civil Aviation University of China, said China could be the first country in the world to introduce the brain surveillance device into cockpits.

Most airline accidents were caused by human factors and a pilot in a disturbed emotional state could put an entire plane at risk, he said.

Putting the cap on before take-off would give airlines more information to determine whether a pilot was fit to fly, Zheng said.

“The influence of the government on airlines and pilots in China is probably larger than in many other countries. If the authorities make up their mind to bring the device into the cockpit, I don’t think they can be stopped,” he said.

“That means the pilots may need to sacrifice some of their privacy for the sake of public safety.”

Qiao Zhian, professor of management psychology at Beijing Normal University, said that while the devices could make businesses more competitive the technology could also be abused by companies to control minds and infringe privacy, raising the spectre of “thought police.”

Brainwave-reading technology is available in the West and in much of the developing world, the SCMP said. But nowhere has it been put to greater use than in China, where it has become a staple in the workplace. In the West, the technology is typically used as a training tool for competitive athletes.

China

At some point in the near future, the helmet-like brain scanners could enable the wearer to give commands to machinery or other devices by accessing a “mental keyboard” – effectively allowing workers to control a computer or mobile phone or perhaps another piece of equipment with their thoughts.

Three

The technology has also been used by China’s military, but in a way that is apparently deeply classified.

In addition to the helmet that measures brainwaves, some employers also use cameras to scan workers faces for signs of emotional stress.

Brain scanners are also being used in medicine in China, particularly in psychiatry, where it’s being used to monitor for signs of a coming emotional outburst.

But while the technology has reportedly led to many benefits involving productivity, one source quoted in the SCMP pointed out the ease with which it could be abused to create a kind of Orwellian “thought police.” And given China’s famously weak worker protections (a tremendous irony considering its communist roots) employees have little recourse to hold employers accountable.

“The selling of Facebook data is bad enough. Brain surveillance can take privacy abuse to a whole new level.”

Lawmakers should act now to limit the use of emotion surveillance and give workers more bargaining power to protect their interests, Qiao said.

“The human mind should not be exploited for profit,” he said.

Unfortunately for the Chinese worker, it looks like the chance to stop the technology’s spread has already passed them by. Soon, workers in all manner of professions will be forced to submit to brain scans as a routine part of their every day routine. But by then, they’ll have bigger privacy concerns to worry about.

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Benjamin Netanyahu is Once Again Trying to Push the U.S. Into a Disastrous War


H/T to @snarwani for the above

Earlier today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put on a little song and dance about Iran and WMDs intended to provide cover for Trump’s upcoming decision on whether or not to scrap the Iran deal (JCPOA) on May 12th.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Netanyahu aggressively pitched the U.S. on war in the Middle East. He did the exact same thing, using the exact same playbook, in the run up to the Iraq war.

Fortunately, we have video evidence of his 2002 testimony to Congress, during which he hyperventilated and exaggerated about Iraq’s grave threat to the world as a result of its non-existsent WMDs. The guy was so incredibly wrong on Iraq, to such a disastrous degree, it’s amazing anyone listens to him at all anymore.

What follows are two must watch video clips from Netanyahu’s 2002 testimony. One of the more memorable — and spectacularly wrong — claims he made back then was when he proclaimed:

continue reading

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