Quarter Of UK Population Wants To Work At Home Forever, New Survey Finds

Quarter Of UK Population Wants To Work At Home Forever, New Survey Finds

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

Almost a quarter of the UK workforce wants to stay at home FOREVER, according to a survey conducted by Deloitte.

The London Telegraph reports that around 25% never want to go back to their place of work ever again, noting that the figure equates to 7.5 million people who would be happy to stay at home and work on their own for the rest of their lives.

Only slightly more, 28% say they do not want to work at home any more and want to get back to their offices or other work environments as soon as possible.

Most people, 42% said they want to see some sort of balance, spending at least two days a week working at home.

The reasoning behind the desire for one in four to stay at home for good was being ‘more efficient’ and ‘more relaxed’, as well as not having to commute and saving time.

In other words, 25% can’t be bothered moving and interacting with other people, and are perfectly happy staying at home alone in their jogging pants until they retire and then stay at home in their jogging pants until they die.

As we have previously highlighted, almost half of Brits, including a majority of women, say they will struggle to revert back to normal life after lockdown, with only 37 per cent saying they would not miss anything about lockdown.

similar poll conducted by the London Times found that a “significant proportion” of Brits enjoyed lockdown.

Another separate opinion poll conducted last month by YouGov found that over half of Brits said they would miss “many” or “some” aspects of the lockdown.

The figures once again underscore how a majority of people appear to be utterly oblivious to the precedent that lockdown has created, handing government the power to completely restrict basic civil liberties on a whim.

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Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 07:04

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German Regulator Accuses Deutsche Bank Board Member Of Insider Trading Linked To Wirecard

German Regulator Accuses Deutsche Bank Board Member Of Insider Trading Linked To Wirecard

For a minute there, it appeared that Credit Suisse might have snatched Deutsche Bank’s crown as the most dysfunctional bank in Europe as the Swiss lender struggled with the fallout from the Archegos blowup and the collapse of Greensill (a scandal that has set off a massive corruption scandal in the UK, and triggered renewed calls for regulatory reform in the European financial system). CS has announced billions of dollars worth of losses tied to the scandals, fired its head of risk and nearly half a dozen other senior employees, and taken other steps in an attempt at penance. But on Monday, Deutsche Bank, which seemingly can’t go more than couple of quarters without a scandal, has found itself in the headlines once again.

This time, Germany’s financial watchdog BaFin has filed a criminal complaint against Deutsche Bank board member Alexander Schutz over alleged insider trading tied to shares of Wirecard – the bankrupt erstwhile German fintech darling whose fraud-induced slide into bankruptcy has shaken Germans’ faith in prosecutors and regulators, even as the criminal protection of several key players continues.

Schütz

Prosecutors in Munich, who have been handling most of the criminal actions related to Wirecard, told the FT that they had received a criminal complaint regarding Schutz from BaFin on Monday, and that they were awaiting more details. Once all documents have been received, they will release more information to the press.

Schutz has emerged as an important figure in the Bundestag’s inquiry into the collapse of Wirecard. Deutsche Bank officially censured Schutz over an email he sent to former Wirecard CEO (now facing a host of criminal charges tied to the firm’s collapse) Markus Braun urging him to “do this newspaper in!!” – a reference to a report in the FT about new allegations of accounting fraud at Wirecard. Incidentally, BaFin nearly helped Braun and Wirecard accomplish just that, after BaFin ordered a ban on Wirecard short-selling and promised to investigate allegations that the FT was working with short-sellers to sabotage Wirecard shares.

Formerly a close confidant of Braun, Schutz has already promised to step down from Deutsceh Bank’s board next month. It’s not clear exactly how, but the FT said Schutz took advantage of insider information when he traded on Wirecard shares in both 2019 and 2020.

According to people with first hand knowledge of the matter, BaFin suspects he used inside information on several occasions in 2019 and 2020 when trading Wirecard shares. Bloomberg earlier reported that BaFin was probing potential insider trades by Braun.

That seems to suggest that Schutz may have used his connections to sell Wirecard shares before they finally slid all the way to zero, helping him avoid a potentially massive loss. Though the exact nature of the trades is unclear.

As the world learned after Wirecard’s collapse, Deutsche Bank at one point considered a merger with Wirecard, though the deal fell apart before it could be consummated.

Nearly a year after it filed for bankruptcy after a new outside audit exposed a $2 billion hole in its balance sheet, Wirecard remains a hot topic in Germany, where the company’s deep ties to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition are only just beginning to be explored. Merkel herself will appear later this week before the Bundestag committee tasked with exploring why the country’s regulators failed to spot Wirecard. Olaf Scholz, Germany’s finance minister, will also appear. Their testimony, coming five months before a critical election, will be closely watched.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 05:45

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Renewables Dominate The Headlines, But Oil And Gas Remain King

Renewables Dominate The Headlines, But Oil And Gas Remain King

Authored by Irina Slav via OilPrice.com,

The transition to a global energy system that runs on renewable energy rather than finite and dirty coal, oil, and gas is arguably the number-one topic in the media, sometimes eclipsing even the pandemic. Yet, for all the enthusiastic talk, it seems that we are nowhere near accomplishing the transition—and it may already be too late to do anything about climate change anyway, according to some climate scientists. “Embedded power structures and support for a dying industry”: these are the factors that are keeping oil and gas as the world’s main sources of energy, according to the chief executive of one environmental nonprofit organization.

Speaking to CNBC, Carroll Muffett from the Institute for Environmental Law said, “It is not a matter of the absence of the technology or the inability to do it. If you actually look at what are the cheaper sources of the energy supply right now, it is not really even a matter of economics. It is much more about embedded power structures and continued support of dying industry.” 

It is very likely that Muffett is referring to government subsidies for the oil and gas industry in countries such as the United States or the UK, as well as many developing nations. What he doesn’t mention in the above comment, however, is the fact that the U.S. government—and many others—also have substantial subsidies for renewable power, and plans to boost these in a bid to encourage wider adoption. As Muffett puts it, the energy transition is “primarily a matter of political will and economic choices.”

Indeed, it is a matter of political choices. Virtually every reputable energy authority has repeatedly said that it is up to the politicians to make sure the transition occurs by encouraging renewables and discouraging oil and gas. This, however, begs one question and the question is this: if renewables were as economical as their proponents say, wouldn’t the private sector be embracing them on its own for the profit opportunities, rather than waiting for the subsidies to be granted before venturing into the field?

There is also another question: if renewables are the economic choice, why are the emerging—meaning poorer—economies of Asia investing so heavily in fossil fuel generation capacity that demand for oil there could jump by as much as 25 percent by 2040, according to Wood Mackenzie? Even China, the indisputable global leader in renewable energy capacity, is building new coal power plants despite celebrations of solar becoming as cheap as coal two years ago. These are not questions that the most vocal advocates of renewable energy like to discuss. They interfere with the narrative that solar and wind are not only emission-free, but they are also as cheap as fossil fuels. If that were the case, it would certainly make fossil fuels irrelevant. After all, if two sources of energy cost the same, but one is renewable and the other one is finite, it would make the best economic sense to bet on the first and not the second, from a purely pragmatic point of view, even without factoring in emissions.

And yet, poorer economies are betting on fossil fuels while richer ones are investing billions in renewable energy generation and storage capacity, and in electric cars. It seems there is a disconnect in the logical sequence of arguments for the energy transition. On the one hand, solar and wind are cheaper—and hydrogen and EVs will soon get cheaper—so it would make sense for everyone to get on board with them. Yet on the other, wealthy nations are the ones being the most generous with wind and solar adoption, and support for hydrogen and EVs.

“Human activity is driving climate change,” Colm Sweeney, the lead scientist for the Earth System Research Lab Aircraft Program of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told CNBC.

 “If we want to mitigate the worst impacts, it’s going to take a deliberate focus on reducing fossil fuels emissions to near zero — and even then, we’ll need to look for ways to further remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” he said.

Fossil fuel emissions account for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity on the planet. The increase in their use reflects an increase in energy demand, and the world’s energy demand is expected to continue growing as the global population grows, driven, once again, by emerging economies. Growing energy demand appears to be incompatible with the Paris Agreement targets given the above factors regarding the cost of different energy sources and their relative reliability, which is motivating investment decisions.

What this means is that the only way we could conceivably expect to progress towards limiting greenhouse gas emissions in any meaningful way is by curbing our energy demand. Indeed, one recent academic report from the UK calls for just that.

UK FIRES, a research program involving scientists from several reputable universities and businesses from resource-intensive sectors, said in the report that net zero was not enough and we should strive for absolute zero, to be achieved, among other measures, by people reducing their energy consumption to 60 percent of today’s levels.

Voluntary energy consumption cuts are highly unlikely, so this, too, would require political action. Some are already calling political action for renewable energy a form of government abuse. Imagine what they would call policies forcing people to consume less energy than they are used to consuming.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 05:00

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U2 Guitarist Backs Nuclear Power To Help Solve Climate Change

U2 Guitarist Backs Nuclear Power To Help Solve Climate Change

Among one of the more obviously senseless considerations from “environmentalists” has been the constant disapproval of the use of nuclear energy to help combat climate change.

But at this point, it simply makes too much sense to ignore. Perhaps that’s why rock band U2’s guitarist, The Edge, is now speaking out and advocating for nuclear power, according to Ireland’s Independent

Speaking in Dublin last week, The Edge – whose real name is David Evans – said: “We need to think very deeply about whether our current strategy of renewable energy is going to make it. We’ve got to be prepared to rethink certain things.”

He continued: “We have to open our minds to third generation nuclear energy being a possible solution. The amount of impact on our land in terms of solar photovoltaic cells and windmills, it’s such a huge amount of ground that you have to dedicate to these renewable resources, is it really practical?”

Ireland has considered nuclear power, and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan even hinted that it was being considered as recently as last December. But in March of this year, he also wrote: “Nuclear power plants are prohibited in Ireland. Whilst some research notes nuclear power as a potential technology that should be considered, the Government has no plans to revisit the prohibition on, or to explore the development of nuclear powered electricity generation in Ireland.”

Evans argues that the government needs to expanding its thinking: “Everybody thinks in terms of their election cycle, and everyone’s looking for a result now. We all have the power with our votes to empower politicians to engage in much longer term thinking. Cathedral thinking is really the way to describe it. We’ve got to encourage existing industries with a bad reputation to change, so we don’t make the good the enemy of the perfect.”

To date, Ireland has “performed poorly” on its CO2 targets, “reporting the third-highest emissions per capita in the EU in 2018”, the report noted.

Allan Carson, co-founder of 18for0, a nuclear power advocacy group, commented: “It’s great that The Edge sees the benefits of nuclear power. The government should provide a credible plan to reach net zero, with an independent assessment of all low-carbon forms of electricity production, including nuclear power. The climate emergency is a greater challenge than anything we have faced to date, including the pandemic, and will require every tool we have at our disposal.”

 

Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 04:15

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An Amusing Look At Brexit Scare Stories Versus What Actually Happened

An Amusing Look At Brexit Scare Stories Versus What Actually Happened

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

Apart from a short-lived disruption of trade flows Brexit has been a macroeconomic non-event.

So Much for the Brexit Scare Stories 

Contrary to widespread fearmongering, the UK did not fall to pieces as a result of Brexit.

Wolfgang Münchau, the avid pro-remain, pro-Europe founder of Eurointelligence writes So Much for the Brexit Scare Stories.

The collapse in UK-EU trade after January 1 was widely reported. What has not been reported nearly as much is that UK exports have fully recovered. They were up 46.6% in February after falling by 42% in January. Imports are not there yet. They were up 7.3% in February after a fall of 29.7% in January. The one prediction I am happy to make is that they will recover too. What these and other numbers are telling us is that even this bit of the Brexit scare stories will not come true. If you look at the latest IMF data and projections in the graphic above, you don’t find a discernible macroeconomic effect of Brexit in the first ten years after the referendum. UK growth fell by more last year than eurozone growth, but this will be offset by higher growth this year. The future prosperity of the UK will depend to a large extent on the future policies of the UK government – Brexit or no Brexit.

I am not sure Münchau has the recovery side correct just yet. After a 42% plunge it takes a 72.4% gain to get back to even.

After a 29.7% decline it takes 42.2% gain to get back to even.

Yet, Münchau has the right idea. 

And my position all along was that both sides would suffer but ultimately the EU more. So far I believe I am on target.

OK, I did not foresee that the initial collapse in UK exports would be greater than the UK’s collapse in imports (with the EU the biggest contributor). 

But some of that collapse was the EU purposely making things difficult. 

Meanwhile, EU exports to the UK have a much further way to go.

Why the Bad Estimates?

Münchau discusses three reasons.

  1. The first is political capture by official forecasters. The UK Treasury and the Bank of England were, of course, not neutral players.

  2. A second group got it wrong because they allowed their political preferences to take over their economic judgments. 

  3. A third group, largely economists, got it wrong because they relied on bad models. There was an overlap of that group with the first and second group, but this one is worth identifying separately. I am talking about models based on long-term trade flows. As Brexit introduces a small degree of friction into physical goods trade, and quite a lot more friction into financial services and agricultural trade, these models predicted a long-term welfare loss. But these models are one-eyed. They only saw what might be lost. 

Regarding point 3, Münchau notes events and technologies intrude. 

“In the future, we will not only be trading different products, but an increasing proportion of trade will come in the form of data. This is an area in which the UK could benefit from regulatory divergence from the EU.”

Who Is Winning the AI Race: China, the EU, or the United States?

report from the Centre for Data Innovation looking at qualitative criteria shows that the dynamics favour the US in particular. The US is leading on all the key criteria – talent, research, development, hardware, adoption and data – followed by China. The EU had some successes when it comes to the publication of academic papers, but is lagging behind both the US and China in all the other categories. The report concluded that Brexit would diminish the EU’s AI capability further.

Alas, Münchau sticks with his pro-EU stance

I am not making the argument that Brexit will be an economic success. I don’t think it will. The best economic argument against Brexit is the one that was never made: that a UK government under either Labour or the Conservatives is unlikely to make best out of the opportunities for regulatory divergence. 

Nonetheless, his conclusion is accurate.

The forecasts of unmitigated gloom, however, have been wrong and deceitful. When economists failed to predict the global financial crisis, they did not so out of malice or political bias. But their Brexit forecasts were not an innocent mistake – nor will they be remembered as such.

I strongly disagree with the pro-Europe rah-rah take from Eurointelligence.

However, when it comes to actual discussion of what’s going on (vs what they want to happen), the publication generally provides very practical and honest insights.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 03:30

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Britain To Deploy 2 Warships To Black Sea As “Solidarity” With Ukraine

Britain To Deploy 2 Warships To Black Sea As “Solidarity” With Ukraine

Turkey’s NTV channel is confirmingSunday Times report that said the UK is preparing to sail two warships into the Black Sea via the Bosporus starting next month amid continued fears that a major confrontation between Russia and Ukraine could break out. 

“Putting the ships off the coast of Ukraine is intended to show solidarity with Kiev and Nato allies in the region after the President Biden decided to cancel the deployment of two American warships to the Black Sea last week for fear of escalating the crisis over the massing of Russian troops,” The Sunday Times wrote. 


File image via The Telegraph

Biden had canceled the US warship deployment after a phone call with Russia’s Putin, wherein the US president also expressed willingness for a face-to-face summit at some point in the summer – an overture that angered hawks, given it put the White House in a “weak” position due to no conditions being agreed to ahead of such a high level bilateral summit

According to further details in The Sunday Times:

One Type 45 destroyer armed with anti-aircraft missiles and an anti-submarine Type 23 frigate will peel off from the Royal Navy’s carrier task group in the Mediterranean and head through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, according to senior naval sources.

RAF F-35B Lightning stealth jets and Merlin submarine-hunting helicopters are to stand ready on the task group’s flag ship, the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, to support the warships in the Black Sea should they be threatened by Russian warships, submarines or aircraft. HMS Queen Elizabeth has to stay in the Mediterranean because an international treaty prohibits aircraft carriers from entering the Black Sea.

The Montreux Agreement of 1936 dictates that foreign powers passing through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles straits must notify Turkey two weeks ahead of time before their passage.

Interestingly, the Royal Navy had plans for near-future Black Sea missions prior to current tensions and Russia’s troop build-up in Crimea and near the Ukrainian border. But this new deployment is now being recast as “solidarity” toward Ukraine. The announcement further came days after Russia closed the Kerch Strait to all foreign military vessels, essentially cutting off the Ukrainian Navy’s access to the Black Sea. 

Britain’s Ministry of Defence was cited as saying for example: “The UK and our international allies are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are working closely with Ukraine to monitor the current situation and continue to call on Russia to de-escalate.”

“Our armed forces continue to support Ukraine through our training mission Operation Orbital, which has trained over 20,000 members of the armed forces of Ukraine, and the UK-led Maritime Training Initiative,” it added.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 02:45

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UK Labour Leader Kicked Out Of Pub By Anti-Lockdown Landlord

UK Labour Leader Kicked Out Of Pub By Anti-Lockdown Landlord

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

UK Labour Party leader Keir Starmer was kicked out of a pub in Bath by an irate landlord who tore into him for supporting the Conservative government’s economy-wrecking lockdown policy.

Starmer’s visit to the Raven didn’t go as planned as owner Rod Humphreys launched into a verbal tirade about the idiocy of COVID-19 restrictions while asserting he was “incandescent” with rage.

The landlord showed Starmer a chart while making the point that the average age of a COVID death was 82 years and 3 months compared to the average age of death in the UK which is 81 years.

“Do you understand we have fucked our economy because old people are dying,” said Humphreys before going on to point out that the UK had a similar total death rate in 2008.

“You’ve failed me – I’ve been a Labour voter my entire life,” Humphreys told Starmer as the politician tried to skulk away.

You have failed to be the opposition, you have failed to ask whether lockdown was functioning, thousands of people have died because you have failed to do your job and ask the real questions.

Humphreys then scolded Starmer for failing to oppose children wearing masks in schools when there’s “never been any evidence for it.”

A second clip shows Humphreys demanding Starmer leave his pub after the politician and his security team tried to enter the premises.

The Labour Party is supposed to act as the “opposition” to the ruling government, and yet it has voted with the Tories on every single COVID-19 lockdown policy, at some points arguing that the restrictions should have been even more severe.

Starmer subsequently addressed the incident on Twitter with a smarmy tweet that encouraged people to register to vote.

 

Register to vote for a party that supports the exact same policies as the ruling government?

Genius.

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Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/20/2021 – 02:00

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Oceania Takes On Eurasia And Eastasia

Oceania Takes On Eurasia And Eastasia

Submitted by South Front,

The emerging US strategy appears to be centered on imposing a regime of isolation on Russia and China with the aim of ultimately effecting regime change in both countries through a combination of political, economic, and military measures. The military component consists of building up naval, aerial, and space capabilities for blockade and strike directed at these two countries and any countries aligned with them. The ongoing shift of US military capabilities away from protracted land warfare toward naval and aerial long-range strike using hypersonic weapons and swarming munitions, evidenced by the US Marine Corps’ shedding of its tanks and heavy artillery and the US Army opting for long-range missile arsenals and even anti-ship capabilities, indicates a preference for “non-contact” warfare in the future, with client states being assigned the role of “bleeding” in future conflicts. The fact that even the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the senior military advisory body to the civilian leadership, a US Army four-star general himself, argues that in the future the US Army will need to have its funding reduced in order to facilitate the US Navy’s improbably ambitious expansion plans, is very telling in and of itself.

NATO’s obsession with so-called “Anti-Access/Area Denial”, or A2/AD “bubbles” supposedly being built by Russia and China in order to protect their territory from NATO’s aggression in locations such as Kaliningrad Region, Crimea, Hainan Island, and other locations, is indicative of the offensive nature of NATO’s operational planning which is plainly inconvenienced by the notion of putative targets being able to shoot back. The development of drone swarms and hypersonic munitions, together with the desperate emphasis on deploying as many of the clearly flawed F-35 stealth fighters as possible, is all part of the technological arms race intended to give offense an advantage over defense.

But technology is only one part of the puzzle. The other is that deep-strike technologies require, well, “access” to politically open airspace which may not always be available. Moreover, US deep-strike capabilities may also rely on bases located in client states that would become targets of counterstrikes. That the possibility, indeed the strong likelihood of such retaliation exists was suggested by Russia’s warning to NATO in advance of the post-Douma false-flag operation cruise missile strikes against Syria that, should Russian forces or facilities be targeted, the Russian military would not limit itself to downing the munitions.Instead it would also go after the launch platforms (meaning aircraft and warships) as well as bases from which they were operating. In that context, it would have meant NATO air and naval bases in Greece, Italy, and as far away as Spain, which homeports four US Navy destroyers at Naval Station Rota. One way or the other, the message was received by NATO and no Russian forces or facilities were targeted. But the precedent was established, and we can assume it will be followed in any future confrontations.

Which means that United States’ ability to launch strikes against Russia or China, their forces and bases both on and outside its national territory and airspace, will also be limited by client states’ unwillingness to suffer retaliatory strikes.

This creates a major diplomatic challenge for the United States, which is relegating its “allies” to the role of punching bags forcing to accept retaliatory blows following its own strikes. The sheer size of Russia and China combined means that the challenge varies from region to region.

Here the situation is relatively the easiest for the US, given the proximity of Alaska where a major military build-up is taking place, including anti-ballistic missile defenses, forward-basing of strategic bombers, and plans for major F-35 permanent deployment in addition to the air-defense F-22s already stationed there. However, these bases have pretty limited reach, even with aerial refueling for the F-35s, which means that to reach targets closer to Arkhangelsk and Murmansk US forces would have to rely, one way or another, on bases in Norway, Iceland, and even Greenland. The likelihood of the relevant political authorities giving assent to the use of these bases in support of strikes against Russian forces or assets in the Arctic reasons appears to be low. Given these countries’ economic interests in the Arctic and the effectiveness of the Arctic Council at managing the problems of the region, it does not appear likely that Norway, Denmark, or Iceland, would go so far as to risk being a target of Russian military retaliation, and the inevitable end to that international organization which would follow. While Sweden and Finland are also making noises about joining NATO, which would enter huge swaths of airspace to “access” by US aircraft and missiles on their way to Russia, the prospect of becoming a target of retaliation has so far kept them from joining that organization outright. One, however, should not discount the possibility of existence of various secret agreements and arrangements that are being kept from these countries’ populations.

Here the United States has two countries that are actually willing, at the governmental level if not popular one, to absorb Russian retaliatory strikes. These are Poland and Romania which have already agreed to host components of US National Missile Defense system, and which are all but guaranteed to give the US whatever “access” it needs in case of an operation against Kaliningrad or Crimea, respectively. The restraining factor here is the fact both of these countries happen to be members of the European Union and will remain such for the foreseeable future in spite of earlier US efforts to split the union by peeling off first Great Britain, and then Eastern Europe. While not members of the Eurozone, they are nevertheless part of the common market and open border zones, and serve as the preferred destination for “outsourcing” by Western European firms seeking to avoid Eurozone’s high labor costs (which creates its own set of problems). The pressure on North Stream 2 and indeed on all EU-Russia economic and political ties is motivated by the desire to eliminate the political resistance to the free use of EU’s airspace for offensive military operations against Russia and its targets. So far it has had little success, and has even elevated North Stream 2 issue to the level of question whether Germany is in any way a sovereign country. United States is also exerting indirect pressure on Germany by actively courting France as its “preferred” continental interlocutor at the expense of Germany. However, the economic benefits of EU-Russia collaboration have proved greater than anything the United States could provide to offset them, and Biden’s own version of “America First” policies is unlikely to be more attractive than Trump’s.

To make matters worse, Poland’s and Romania’s proximity to Russia have meant a certain unwillingness to place major US military bases there, meaning that even when it comes to operations by bombers based in the United States, some of their support functions would be performed by military units based in Germany, Italy, and Great Britain, rendering them vulnerable to retaliatory strikes as well.

Here, if anything, the situation is even worse for the US than in Europe’s case because there does not appear to be a single country that is an equivalent to Poland and Romania in the sense of having political leadership willing to make their country a hostage to Washington’s military planning. The relevant countries where US currently has bases include Japan and South Korea, neither of which views their relationship with China as a zero-sum game. Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, do not show signs of giving the US a blank check in any situation other than a major threat to their own vital interests by China. The political resistance would mean pushing US support infrastructure to as far as Guam, which is too far and too poorly developed to sustain large-scale carrier battle group operations in eastern Pacific or South China Sea. Even Australia, which has a strong Sinophobic lobby and which moreover self-identifies as part of the “Anglosphere”, is on the fence regarding the desirability of granting unfettered access to Australia’s bases and airspace for the purpose of operations against China.

The difficulties United States are experiencing at providing the political preconditions for the implementation of their ambitious aero-naval-space blockade and strike capabilities demonstrate the importance of traditional diplomacy to national security. Russia’s outreach to the European Union, the Middle East, and Asia, as well as China’s oft-maligned “Tiger diplomacy” have created a situation in which US military power is functionally displaced by political considerations. It does not even appear that the US leadership is fully aware of the reasons for the ineffectiveness of its military power, otherwise it would not be sending badly overworked aircraft carriers on “double-pump” deployments or keep decades-old strategic bombers on what looks like a repeat of permanent patrols, though this time without nuclear bombs onboard. This is, however, what a multipolar world looks like and will look like going forward. Biden administration’s agreement to extend the New START with Russia for five years without preconditions, over the objections of such hard-liners as Victoria Nuland, suggests there is some reluctant recognition that the world is shifting toward a more equitable distribution of power and wealth.

Tyler Durden
Mon, 04/19/2021 – 23:50

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WHO Rejects Vaccine Passport For International Travelers

WHO Rejects Vaccine Passport For International Travelers

In a statement released following a virtual briefing on Monday, the WHO’s Emergency Committee on international health standards officially recommended that governments avoid making vaccine passports mandatory, a trend that is already catching on in the UK.

Specifically, the committee advised governments “do not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, given the limited (although growing) evidence about the performance of vaccines in reducing transmission and the persistent inequity in the global vaccine distribution. States Parties are strongly encouraged to acknowledge the potential for requirements of proof of vaccination to deepen inequities and promote differential freedom of movement.”

To justify this position, the WHO cited both limited data on vaccine effectiveness in reducing transmission, along with the deep inequalities in availability that the WHO has long complained about, while at the same time enabling the man is perhaps, more than anybody, responsible for the fact that poor nations will likely wait years for adequate vaccine supplies.

As we have reported, this man’s name is Bill Gates.

Incidentally, the Committee also exhorted governments to do whatever they could to support Covax, the WHO-sponsored and Gates-designed program to supply enough jabs to vaccinate the populations of more than 130 countries. However, the program hasn’t managed to allocate nearly enough vaccines, and many poorer nations – beyond the 92 officially eligible for aid via Covax – have no idea where vaccine supplies will come from, sine the choice to respect patent law has created massive international supply bottlenecks. Instead of allowing an “open vaccine” that could be produced anywhere, emerging markets must compete for jabs on the free market.

After telling governments to try to keep quarantine restrictions for travelers within the bounds of common sense, the WHO added that governments should also work to “Reduce the financial burden on international travelers” whenever possible while enforcing quarantine measures.

Meanwhile, over in the US, CDC Director Dr. Walensky, whose fearmongering has launched her to front-page coverage in the past, warned that COVID cases have continued to climb even as vaccination numbers have risen, a reality that hasn’t escaped millions of Americans, who are walking on with their masks on as if nothing has changed.

Tyler Durden
Mon, 04/19/2021 – 23:30

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The Age Of Over-Abundant Elites

The Age Of Over-Abundant Elites

Authored by Mark Jeftovic via BombThrower.com,

I’ve been reading Peter Turchin’s “Ages of Discord”, which tries to look at patterns of societal strife that he found in previous, pre-industrial civilizations such as Rome and France, and examine how it holds up in a post-industrial era. It bears some resemblance to other cycle theories like Strauss and Howe’s “Fourth Turning” or other long-wave models like Kondratiev Waves (K-Waves). The basic premise behind these ideas are that societies undergo cyclical or pendulum-like dynamics between relatively steady states of prosperity and stability, the internal dynamics of which then produce the conditions that precipitate reversions into turbulent periods of strife and chaotic change.

The important thing to keep in mind is that to that the likes of Turchin and other historical statisticians, the periods of societal discord that they try to map may look like this:

Turchin: Long-term dynamics of sociopolitical instability in France, 800–1700 (data from Sorokin 1937).

But when experienced in real life look more like this

St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, 1572 by François Dubois

If there’s one thing in this highly polarized world that everybody probably does agree on it’s that we are almost certainly already in one of these periods of discord right now.

What I’m finding most interesting from Turchin’s take on this isn’t that periods of stability are not terminated by resource depletion (a la the climate alarmists), or any other “limits to growth” per se. While population growth in pre-industrial societies may bump up against “neo-Malthusian” limits, it sets up a counter-cyclical decline in population growth. How these forces interact in a transition from stability to chaos is that an over-abundance of elites creates a situation of the political class splitting into factions and fighting over the spoils of what is now a shrinking pie in terms of real economic wealth:

 “According to this theory, population growth in excess of the productivity gains of the land has several effects on social institutions. First, it leads to persistent price inflationfalling real wagesrural misery, urban migration, and increased frequency of food riots and wage protests.

Second, rapid expansion of population results in elite overproductionan increased number of aspirants for the limited supply of elite positions. Increased intra-elite competition leads to the formation of rival patronage networks vying for state rewards. As a result, elites become riven by increasing rivalry and factionalism.

The above passage made me think of the 2016 US election, one that was framed as a populist political outsider taking on the Washington DC swamp… however as Turchin notes, somewhat uncannily….

“all these trends intensify, the end result is state bankruptcy and consequent loss of military control; elite movements of regional and national rebellion; and a combination of elite-mobilized and popular uprisings that expose the breakdown of central authority.”

MAGA, Democratic Socialism, BLM, whatever comes next all have in common extremely well off elites (millionaires and billionaires) talking up a populist game against some ostensibly amorphous “Establishment”, to which these crusaders are loathe to admit their own membership.

Regional governors and in increasingly more cases, entire police forces are essentially “going rogue”. It all sounds in the ballpark of what Turchin is talking about.

Then the media makes useful idiots of us all, reframing as existential battles between good and evil what are really just internecine conflicts between elites who regard everybody else as serfs (in much the same way that I have always privately remarked that World War 1 was, at it’s core, a family squabble among a pan-European dynasty that ruled by divine right).

Via Brookings Institute: The Family Relationships that couldn’t stop World War 1

Which brings us to today, which Turchin doesn’t assert, but I couldn’t help but notice another uncannily prescient remark:

“epidemics and even pandemics strike disproportionately often during the disintegrative phases of secular cycles”

Global lockdowns and fiscal stimulus are once again framed as public safety and societal stabilizing measures. However as come commentators (thinking specifically of Danielle Di Martino) observed: The financial system was screwed, and the central bankers needed Covid because they were about to pull a Hail Mary to save a rapidly deteriorating financial system.

The Great Pivot: Covid-to-Climate

What’s probably coming next: ubiquitous climate change alarmism, can be understood to mean there aren’t enough private jets to go around, and it was even getting crowded in First Class.

Everything coming out of unaccountable policy institutes like the WEF and the mainstream media are just reframings of what Turchin calls “elite overproduction” such that the rabble believes the revocation of their civil liberties and the decline in their living standards is necessary and just.

What are the alternatives?

Maybe neo-Malthusianism has its place, given The Climate? This is an important point because the signs are already around us that as the pandemic fizzles The Great Pivot will be from COVID-to-Climate.

For starters, numerous environmental and ecological scholars and thinkers who are concerned about humanity’s effects on the ecosystem are vehemently opposed to climate alarmism, finding it destructive and self-defeating. This warrants multiple separate articles but I’ll mention Michael Shellenberger’s “Apocalypse Never” and former Under-Secretary for Energy under Obama, Steven Koonin’s “Unsettled Science”. The latter isn’t out until next month, but Dmitri Kofinas just had him on Hidden Forces, I strongly suggest listening and sharing it.

The coming New Green Deal style clampdowns will make global lockdowns look rather benign, despite an abundance of evidence that lockdowns did nothing to change the actual trajectory of COVID.

Lockdowns vs no-lockdowns. From Tom Woods’  “COVID Charts that CNN Forgot”

The coming Climate Emergency will embark on some fool’s errand like “15 months to cool 1.5C”, and it will probably be announced from some Davos-style ecological summit on Richard Branson’s private island that all the participants arrived at via super-yachts.

Because as per Turchin, this is final stage that transitions us into a period of chaos and instability:

‘First, the elites become accustomed to ever greater levels of consumption. Furthermore, competition for social status fuels “conspicuous consumption” (Veblen 1973 [1899]). Thus, the minimum level of consumption necessary for maintaining the elite status exhibits runaway growth.

Second, the numbers of elites, in relation to the rest of the population, increase. 

The third consequence is that the twin processes of declining living standards for the commoners and increasing consumption levels for the elites will drive up socioeconomic inequality. As a result of the growth in elite appetites and numbers, the proportion of the total economic pie consumed by them will increase. However, there are limits on how far this process can go. Eventually, increasing numbers of elites and elite aspirants will have to translate into declining consumption levels for some, leading to the condition that has been termed elite overproduction (this is reminiscent of population growth leading to overpopulation). Intraelite competition for limited elite positions in the economy and government will become more fierce.

I emphasized the part that provides the most telling signal of them all. If you pay attention to the argument Turchin has been laying out, left to itself, an expanding population with expanding consumption will hit some sort of Neo-Malthusian limit and then begin to reverse under its own constraints.

But this dynamic doesn’t happen at the elite level. The capstone class of society simply continues getting larger and consuming more of the economic pie and owning more of the wealth, exacerbating wealth inequality. The elites are not constrained by limits, until there is nothing left to leach from the underclass and they come into conflict with each other.

Then, well, things need to get serious. We need a world war, or a global lockdown, or a climate emergency to keep the rabble in line so that the people on top can finish sorting out the spoils.

(It is important to note: I’m not saying this is all planned. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy. It’s a dynamic. The people impelling these shifts probably really do think they’re benefactors of humanity and that they deserve to sit atop of it. Divine right persists to this day.)

How about this instead?

What would restore a semblance of natural constraints around both overproduction and overconsumption (and with it externalities like pollution and habitat destruction) would be lifting all artificial attenuators on market signalling. That means: subsidies, bail-outs, governments picking winners and losers, central planning and management by “experts”, all of it has to go.

We have to deal with reality as it is, not as our models insist it is supposed to be. We have to re-gear public policies as responses to facts on the ground as opposed to doubling down on failed models (lockdowns aren’t slowing the spread? Lockdown harder! Masks don’t work? Double masks!)

How about seeing a governor or a premier come out and say this:

“Neither lockdowns nor masks seem to be working, for the next six weeks we want as many people as possible to load up on Vitamin D and Zinc”. We’re going to greenlight Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, and we’re going to launch an operation Warp Speed to study any and all alternative approaches”

In any society in which the incentives were such that the ruling class was really trying to solve the problem at hand, this would have happened without any prompting.

Any business or any tribe that has to weigh trade-offs and can’t externalize their failures would have looked at alternatives to failed models because they would have no other choice.

But the elites and the political class? They get paid either way. They get exemptions. They get priority. And when their “public service” is over, they walk through the revolving door into Big Corporate directorships, lobby firms and think tanks.

All they have to do is get the public to ratify their own servitude every few years, and the elites have the entirety of Big Tech and the Corporate Media to brainwash the public that it’s in their best interests to do it.

In our current age, the dynamics Turchin explored were not mathematically precise and he acknowledged that there would be nuances and subtleties in applying these to a post-industrial age:

While the overall dynamics are complex, the dynamical feedbacks between variables, that is, mechanisms that generate the dynamics, are often characterized by a high degree of determinism.

He is probably onto something that these societal dynamics have set an age of discord in motion, one myself among others have been saying for awhile will be remembered as the end of the age of the Nation State.

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Tyler Durden
Mon, 04/19/2021 – 23:10

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3ek8yxI Tyler Durden