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Friday, June 10, 2016

Is Capitalism Collapsing? Random Thoughts, and More

Sounds like a crazy question? Delve into the details and you'll see what the problems are though:
- in a previous post we found out that in 14 countries across the world growth was stagnating. I wanted to look deeper into this. The trend is basically across the board all around the world. It's the same phenomemon over and over again across basically all countries with few exceptions (and even they are odd with only limited data available or not being genuine examples of 'pure democractic capitalism' until late). Zoom out on the relevant graphcs and growth is getting lower decade after decade (click the max button to zoom out over the appropriate period). It may be getting less volatile but if you know enough about financial markets you'll also know that this also generally means lower growth. Even if you can't get a best fit curve just count the number of points above a particular point. India is one of the odd ones out, along with Indonesia but only limited data time, Iraq is unstable and limited data. Capitalism in this current form/guise is unviable? Things need to change. At this current trajectory debt and interest payments are just going to keep on biting further and further into positive growth. We're stuck in a doom loop
- filter down economics makes sense if there are enough jobs to take up the slack. The silly thing is that by listening to big business we're headed towards ultimate doom (check my last post regarding labour participation rates in more advanced economies. Across the board, the trend is less employment in more advanced economies). Yes, they may employ people but advanced countries/industries employ fewer people per unit of money. For instance, in manufacturing it's clear that they employ more people than in information technology for the same amount of money. We need to think differently, alter the system because the old framework just doesn't work in the new world? Think of it this way as well. People in most capitalist democracies seem pretty divided now. You won't stay in by pandering to a small minority. You need to represent the interests of the many to get in and stay in
- everything that is being said about 'trickle down economics' and the trend doesn't make sense. If the same people are getting the money but the number of people they are employing is reducing while economic growth across all countries is reducing we are headed for long term deflation. Whether it's a collapse or long term is a different question altogether. Capitalism is fundamentally reverting to feudalism at the moment (only clear if you look at things more deeply)
- Americans feel exploited? System won't survive robotics. Follow societal rules and have better life. No longer possible since old system incompatible with modern society/technology. Middle America dying earlier. Collapse of USSR sharing similar characteristics with the US the moment? Suicide, drugs, etc... Nobody is dealing/thinking about the robotics/automation problem? Without scarcity an economy doesn't work. Australians believe in US ideology but not practice. Risk slipping into another 'Dark Age'. As I've stated previously, capitalism facing difficulties with automation looming. What I said previously ratio of employers is going down of employers at more and more companies now. Modern model is about exploiting data of people giving away. Jouranlism no longer financially viable?. Jouranlism no longer financially viable? Neutral news algorithms impossible? US no longer democratic
Keiser Report - Robots on the rise (E922)
- they've created a system that is self-destructive. Outside of coasts loss of entrepreneurship and job creation. People used to move from poor to richer areas (where jobs were more likely to be) but since property has become so expensive the opposite is now true. UK most country in the world? Prison industrial complex for outsourced, cheap, mostly black labour. Hidden Colours documentary about racial difficulties in the US
Keiser Report - Mojo (E923)
- same thing for thousands of years as indicated in last post. Same system. Hedge funds collapsing all over the place. Irony is that richest states are the ones most heavily in debt and need to be bailed out. US companies loaning people money because their credit ratings so bad. A Banquet of Consequences, Doz. Autarchy opposite of free trade. Enclosed system. Global trade has grown at roughly double global growth. Global growth is going down though. Trickle down economics no longer working. Wealthy people aren't the type who employ anymore. Look at some of the heirs as an example of this. Trade deals are favouring stronger parties. Not about trade more about protecting monopolies
Keiser Report - Modern Serfdom (E924)
- if we look at the 'Cold War' as a massive human experiment to see which was more viable then it's clear that both systems eventually suffer from the same problem. Namely, stagnation and corruption from within. Pushed too far and without adequate mechanisms to keep the political class in check they inevitably somehow end up doing what's best for a minority rather than the majority. Given the fact that even during the collapse of the USSR people had conditions that were still quite good all around it makes you wonder whether or not we should be further towards the left rather than pushing increasingly strongly towards the extreme right
Russian Gulag Prison Camp 'Perm 36' - Full Tour - See A Russian Gulag
The Gulag - what we know now and why it matters
- lower public government debt automatically results in higher private debt? If you can't get a job at least assett prices are going up? Banks no longer lending to businesses but rather people who are speculating on housing prices. Insane levels of QE which leads to strange market distortions and a de-correlation between risk and reward. Greenspan abandoned belief that people would support his version of future possible economic system. His (and others) beliefs are based on the notion of self interest. Enough data will tell you that the proposed system is unsound though? Tariq Nasheed. Hidden Colours documentries
Keiser Report - Show & Tell (E925)
- you hear constantly about how the 'elites' are constantly worrying about how the 'order' is going to dissolve and disappear. Obvious question is if so many people are against the plans for the future why on Earth are you attempting to proceed along that particular pathway? One good example of this is the Australia - USA alliance. Unless you're willing to look a bit deeper you're not really certain about what it's all about. Part of it is a games of salesmanship. The other part is about 'serving the needs of the people'. At times, aspects politics of are just completely confounding now
- it's blatantly clear that there are plans for the 'day after' should the world suffer from a another global economic crisis. I used to think that some of it was purely conspiracy theory stuff but it's obvious that some of it is pretty serious
- when it comes down to it you have to admit that capitalism is 'structurally scammy'. In the past it may have been fairer but as time has moved on and with increasing competition it's made things a lot more difficult. Think in terms of systemic analysis only (inputs and outputs). The education in most developed countries has to be considered very close to identical in most developed countries. Delivery is identical, materials are identical, most of the facilities that you can access as an undergraduate are virtually identical. However, it's clear that we need to pay a substantial premium for our education especially in Western countries such as the US and UK. It becomes clear once you do this analysis that you're basically not paying for the education but for access to particular social networks, job opportunties, etc... Once people see through that and the other fake aspects of it then the illusion sort of collapses. It's the same way across the board. Financial trading comes down to taking money from bad traders to good (or corrupt traders). Even if someone can't 'make it' in their field you can still provide them with hope which means that they will take out a loan for an education.
The whole economic world may be technically collaping but they're using fudged numbers to keep the community stable while solutions are sought. It's so obvious that FOSS community is used as a form of cheap labour now. The chances of social mobility is the same from the period to ancient rome as it is to now. Aptitude is not what a lot major companies are screening for now. It's down to your ability to fit in and not rock the boat. Social inequality has been roughly the same for thousands of years in spite of what many people say. Capitalism is slowly stagnating (look at the graphs. They're real). This system is based on hope and navigating a system rather than the sum product of simple hard work and talent. By specialising people can control demand and supply for services. Diversified economies allow this by funnelling people into what people are able and good at. Competition means that prices are kept under relative control. The worst part of all this is that it's like a jenga puzzle. Pull a few core pieces away and it's possible the whole thing could collapse. Any desire to change it would require time, thought, effort, etc... to get it back on an even keel
How to Spot a Pyramid Scheme
Ben Affleck Kicked Out Of Casino For Card Counting
- realisticlly, UBI, job guarantees, job working hour constraints, etc... are the only mechanism to ensure that there will be enough jobs to go around in the future. Imagine better infrastructure built on the backbone of these programs
- there's a difference between out of touch and appearing out of touch. Our system makes both easier (whether intended or not). Everybody always has doubts about politicians now but every once in a while they appear more human. The only way to genuinely maintain this though is to cut back on the perks, have a more normal wage, do community service regularly, etc... The ruling class is unlikely to ever interact with desperate criminals, deal with people who are homeless, nor are they likely to interact with single parents whose problems are drastically different to those who are wealthier or luckier. By creating a classful society we've made it increasingly difficult to relate to one another. This is reflected with high levels of disatisfaction globally with regards to the ruling class, the working class, etc... Even if their bloodlines or genetics could somehow be proven to be vastly superior to the rest of the population I find it difficult to believe that this is the best we can get amongst our community? People are too aware of 'perception management' now. Policies are more indivicative of the perspectives of the political class not their advertising. The obvious question about why people get frustrated about when they are called out for being 'out of touch' is that they may not realise it, they've been caught out, they're being honest and aren't 'out of touch'?
New MPs 'struggle' with long hours and workload
- when you think about the way we value things and think about scarcity as the core mechanism for valuation you sometimes end up thinking that the world is insane. It means that once we exhaust one natural resource we have to move on to the next and so on and so forth. This means that technically, everyone having food to survive is a 'bad thing'. It means that everyone having a good education and opportunities is also a bad thing because that means you can't justify arbitrage situations where you can pay one person more than another. It means that fundamentally it requires competition for limited resources and ultimately conflict if reasonable comprimises can not be established between parties which makes neo-liberablism make much more sense (if you know that a trade is going to go bad then you dish it off to someone else. This means that a invidual or group will fail but not the government. Ironically, if they all fail at the same time the same situation will occur?). If growth is trending downwards and governments are basically insolvent the obvious way is to dish things off to the private sector hoping they will take up the slack. Is it possible to run a 'hybrid economy' to avoid this circumstance? For instance, if we can take care of our own food requirements, defend against imperialist/expasionist states and then run the rest of the economy based on hybrid/modified capitablism/socialism is this a better way forward? Would require research into geo-engineering (see previous post on converting desert into arable land), defense (as long as their are cultures that require expansionism then you require a strong defense capability), and ultimately a thoroughly educated population to drive innovation and progress to allow for internal as well as external trade. Ironically, there are some states out there that tick some of the boxes but not all of them. Would be an interesting if there were a country who was actually capable of implementing such a system. Whether it would be more successful?
Allan Savory - How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change
earthrise - Fighting desertification in Kenya & the remakery
Can sheep save the planet Yes - says Allan Savory!
Desertification - A Visual Disaster
Opportunities for shifts towards sustainable land management - lessons from southern Africa
The Arabian Deserts  English Version
- one of the reasons why people continue to support such a system in spite of it being 'structurally scammy' ie because a lot of them are simply unaware of it. Specialisation allows people to see one part of the picture but not the complete picture. It's also (thus far) the least worse system that we have come up with. People need to discard what's irrelevant and focus in on whether the politicians can do the job at hand
- if you look deep enough then you'll realise that in some ways the job of a politician is horrible. The irony is that by the time you figure this out (whether you are involved in politics or not) it's almost always too late. What they say the job is and what it actually is can be drastically different? This can have massive impact if you are a politician himself. I remember a few local opposition leaders who came back a lot different (and much stronger performance wise) second time around. There are massive constraints imposed by the system and this gets much more complicated with the world as it currently is. At times, I wonder whether or not computer simulations/games can be used to train politicians? Globalisation and growing populations mean that owing to indivual issues/circumstances the best compromise for the majority may not always be possible? Is there an optimal population/geographical size for which a country/state can be operated at and at which the best compromise for the citizens operating within it can occur? At times, it's almost impossible to say what you want to say you don't have a clue who it might offend? Any person who goes into politics needs to be slightly insane. Due to circumstances beyond control smart people can look dumb while someone dumb can look incredibly wise. Sometimes, it comes down to pure blind luck
- she comes across as a good politician but there's a lot of questions that have been raised about her performance. Listen to her speeches. Notice how she says a lot and nothing at the same time? Listen to enough diplomats and politicians and eventually it will either drive you insane or to tears (through sheer boredom). That said, if it comes down to a race between Trump and Clinton it may be a case of simply going with someone you know?
Hillary Clinton FULL Speech On National Security. Trump ‘temperamentally unfit’ for White House-y04TVy0FxHg
Hillary Clinton gives major counterterrorism speech at Stanford
Hillary Clinton on Gun Control - Late Night with Seth Meyers
Hillary Clinton rips Trump's foreign policy (Full speech)
Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy Experience Questioned
TED Talks - Hillary Clinton speaks at TEDWomen (2010)
Why You Should NOT Vote For Hillary Clinton In 2016
- haven't viewed much of Trump but it's clear that he could create a lot of trouble. What's also clear though is that he's 'toned it down' somewhat through his campaign. Would be interested to know what his judgement and perspective were like given more information though. This isn't to deny him a chance at the presidency but just to get a better idea of what he could be like. If the people want him that's the cost of democracy? (this is one of mysterious aspects of having an 'political' and 'working' class. If most people think that the decision is wrong based on the information available isn't the notion of a democracy an oxymoron and aren't we operating in a plutocracy?) Don't think he's completed his policy makeup
Donald Trump lays out foreign and domestic strategies
Donald Trump delivers speech on foreign policy plans
Donald Trump Hits Hillary Clinton on Foreign Policy - 'She's Trigger Happy'
Donald Trump answers questions ahead of policy speech on energy

Random Thoughts:
- if you've played any computer games then you would have noticed that somehow the computer game world filters into the defense world, the defense world filters into the computer game world, etc... Interesting the Russian naval setup/plans for the future. They clearly can build aircraft carriers (and have engaged in joint ventures with others such as India) but they seem to be building up an arsenal of weapons delivery platforms that are to be used with a litany of surveillance measures and other sensory systems. They seem investing heavily in hybrid robotic warfare. From naval, ground, or air it's all integrated (though much the same could be said of the West as well now)
- there are worries about others having leeway/freedom to move if China runs things. You hear some diplomats coming out of meetings with Chinese officials and it's clear that they are frustrated at not being able to make progress with them. Yi seems much calmer in other circumstances. This is one of this strange areas where public and national interest get kind of awkward. You'd think that if they explained things properly people would be more supportive of the status quo?
Davos 2014 - Global Dimensions of China's Development
Statesmen's Forum - Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, PRC
- english pretty good. Classic diplomat mode of speech. Says a lot but doesn't say anything. Things are strange between US and Russia. Co-operative and yet not. Very major difference on perspective with regards to how to run the world especially with regards to sovereignty
Exclusive - 'We will survive sanctions,’ says Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to FRANCE24
LIVE - Lavrov holds joint press conference with Chinese FM Wang Yi
LIVE - Lavrov to talk at Mediterranean Dialogues Conference in Rome
Sergei Lavrov Grilled Live on Air by Famous Russian War Reporter
Sergey Lavrov interview to Bloomberg TV
- if news aggregators/search results are being manipulated I wonder why don't people consider building their own. Most people have more than enough bandwidth now to be able to do this. I keep on hearing about people saying that investigative journalism isn't profitable but the fact of the matter is basically my readership (interest in this blog) has gone up while pursuing more investigative type material
Google Will Steal This Election & How - Dr. Robert Epstein Interview [ep 7]
PROOF That Google Can & Will Manipulate The Election [News&Comedy]
- in previous post wondered about possibility of using a type of specialised gas (relying more on refraction like the way the ionosphere works) over standard planes to provide a type of stealth. Have been wondering whether it's possible to energise this gas (plasma) and use it to throw off both IR based (imaging based systems in particular which have become more prolific) as well as standard RADAR based weapons systems. Basically, divert engine thrust towards shooting 'stealth gas' towards from of aircraft and create a 'pod/bubble' around it? Effectiveness?
More PAK FA News
- there are a lot of USB microphones out there. Thankfully, there are also online recordings which will allows you to distinguish the difference between them
- a lot of automated landing systems out there now. Wonder how susceptible they are to attack and whether or not they have reasonable counter-measures in place (saw a recent article about Israeli drones being more automated during take off and landing but US drones being more manual but suffering from more crashes)

- While not an official mouthpiece, the Global Times nevertheless often represents a strain of nationalist thinking within the Party.

It accused Washington of trying to knit three nets around China — in ideology, in security and in economy and trade — in an attempt to secure its dominance of the region.

While it was unlikely Vietnam, whose weapons systems are largely Russian-made, would import significant quantities of U.S. arms for the moment, the paper said, the move drew it into a “U.S.-dominated regional security system.”

The paper also implied there was some hypocrisy in the move to cozy up to Communist Vietnam. “When the U.S. has an urgent need to contain China in the South China Sea, the standards of its so-called human rights can be relaxed,” it wrote.

Experts in China said they expected that U.S. warships would sooner or later be granted access to Cam Ranh Bay, a deep water port that served as the key U.S. naval base during the Vietnam War.

Shi Yinhong, a professor in international relations at Renmin University of China, said Beijing would not respond in a tit-for-tat way but would continue to build its military power in the South China Sea, while exerting pressure on Hanoi not to draw too close to Washington.
- Russia needs cash to finance its widest budget shortfall since 2010 after the collapse in oil, its biggest export earner, prompted efforts from talk of selling stakes in state jewels to trying to extract bigger dividends from state companies, a plan that has run into opposition.

The initial price guidance on the 10-year dollar-denominated notes is for a yield of 4.65 percent to 4.9 percent. That’s a modest premium to the 3.9 percent yield for Russia’s September 2023 Eurobond.

“At the current levels, which is about 50 basis points cheaper than the curve, it’s fairly attractive,” said Peter Kisler, who runs an emerging-market fund at North Asset Management, which oversees $1 billion of assets. He said he will participate depending on the pricing.

Investors have demonstrated a taste for more exotic bond sales this year. Argentina raised $16.5 billion in its first Eurobond since its 2001 default after receiving bids for four times that amount. Saudi Arabia is preparing its debut foray into international debt markets as its neighbors, including Abu Dhabi in April and Qatar later this week, end a dearth of issuance from the oil-exporting region.

Sovereign dollar and euro bond sales from emerging markets have reached $65 billion this year, more than half of last year’s volume, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“They are certainly looking to prove a point that they can claim to be able to access international capital markets despite sanctions and everything else,” Kisler said. “I would expect it to be fairly successful despite the non-standard structure.”
- From 1986,[19] the CIA began supplying the Afghan rebels with newer Stinger shoulder-launched, heat-seeking SAMs.[20] These were a marked improvement over earlier weapons, and while their actual military impact was not irrelevant, their real value was their demoralization and deterrent value against air power, and their propaganda worth to anti-Soviet groups. The Stinger missile locked on to infra-red emissions from the aircraft, particularly engine exhaust, and was resistant to interference from decoy flares. Countermeasure flares and missile warning systems were later installed in all Soviet Mil Mi-2, Mi-8, and Mi-24 helicopters, giving pilots a chance to evade the missile. Heat dissipaters were also fitted to exhausts to decrease the Mi-24's heat signature. Tactical and doctrinal changes were introduced to make it harder for the enemy to deploy these weapons effectively. These reduced the Stinger threat, but did not eliminate it.
- Russia has begun building new dairy farms and milk processing, worth almost $3 billion, as it continues to lock out western food.

As the second largest global dairy importer, the sanctions have been immensely damaging with Europe stockpiling milk powder and sending the global dairy price to its lowest level in a decade.

The Russians have commissioned Vietnam's TH Group to develop three areas of dairy farming in the Kaluga districts at a cost of $190 million.

In addition, Thailand private company CP Group has signed an agreement to construct a $1 billion milk and dairy complex in Russia's Ryazan region.

Before the sanctions, imposed in 2014 over the dispute in Ukraine and Crimea, Russia was Australia's largest butter market.

The continuing sanctions have forced a 25 per cent reduction of Australia's butter production, according to the latest report by the US Department of Agriculture.
- "Former investment bankers tend to be crap at most things in the listed world," Bell Potter's head of institutional trading, Angus Aitken, said in an email to clients after Jablko's appointment was announced.

"The only exception to that rule is Chris Mackay and Hamish (Douglas) at Magellan but they are pretty unique.

"Comparing this CFO to Craig Drummond isn't the same. He was one of the top rated and best bank analysts for 20 years then ran JB Were and Merrills. A pure investment banker is vastly different," he said.
- While the al-Shammari article defending Saudi Arabia in the wake of threats of American lawsuits related to 9/11 is one of the most notable, it’s far from the only piece critical of the U.S. to come out of Saudi Arabia recently. In the last several months, since the 9/11 began to be bandied about, Saudi media has been flooded with similar articles decrying the bill. Some of the articles flowing around Saudi Arabia questioned the sanity of the U.S., others popular in Saudi Arabia accuse the U.S. of a partnership with Iran. One article even called the 9/11 bill “Satanic,” saying that if the measure was passed against Saudi Arabia, it would “open the gates of hell.”
- The Kremlin turned to VTB Capital after nearly 25 Western banks refused to participate in the bond placement under pressure from Washington and Brussels.

However, analysts have noted that it’s not illegal to place Russia sovereign bonds under the sanctions regime. “It’s only illegal if the proceeds are used to fund a sanctioned entity,” Morgan Lewis partner Bruce Johnston told the Financial Times.

“I could sell the bond just to American investors if I wanted to. There are enough people there who hate the government and want to make money,” a senior Russian banker told the media.

Last week, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that getting access to foreign capital isn’t crucial, and the ministry can attract these funds on the local market.

“We will find sources to finance the budget deficit in the Russian financial market. It's only $3 billion. I recall that in previous years we went with much higher borrowing,” said the minister in an interview with Rossiya 24 TV channel.
- Russia’s foreign ministry hasn’t taken euronews’ misinformation campaign lying down, essentially accusing the English-language site of the tabloidisation of news. “Sergey Lavrov has no Twitter account. The Russian language website, as you see, did not post the fake… this is not even propaganda, this is disinformation,” said spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “The possible aim was to promote a fake resource,” she added.

Zakharova continued: “I used to think that such policy of the television channel’s English language service was aimed against the Russian side, but no there is no doubt that it is a blow to euronews from inside, discrediting activity of this media outlet," she said. "What else should the English language service of the TV channel’s website do to get attention of its leadership?"

In the past, state-funded western journalists and think tanks have accused Russia of “weaponising information” and spreading “disinformation.” Indeed, the EU has even established a barely-noticed “disinformation review” directed solely at Russia.

Yet, western media and governments seem completely unconcerned when distortions are aimed at Russia, by the outlets they fund. Euronews’ crude anti-Russian smears and falsehoods raise serious questions about the organization’s integrity and mission.
- Israeli start-up Faception is claiming it can spot terrorists by simply analyzing their faces and says it is working with “a leading Homeland Security Agency” to identify potential threats.

The company, founded in 2014, uses “computer vision and machine learning technology” to profile people from just a facial image and says it can reveal a range of personality traits and types.

So far it has built 15 different classifiers, including extrovert, genius, academic researcher, professional poker players, bingo player, brand promoter, white collar offender, paedophile and terrorist. However Faception notes on its website that this is customizable and a relevant classifier could be built if the desired behaviour originates from a person’s DNA.

DNA is the key, according to company CEO Shai Gilboa. “Our personality is determined by our DNA and reflected in our face. It’s a kind of signal,” he told The Washington Post.
- Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said, the Syrian operation had affected Russian arms sales «extremely positively» by showing Moscow has effective weapons and can challenge western influence. «Russia basically proved it has political will, it has balls, because normally people don’t buy weapons from losers», he added.

Indeed, the export variant of the missile (Club-S) is a success. India, Algeria, Vietnam, China have submarine-launched (mainly Kilo-class Russia-produced diesel submarines) export versions of the system in their inventories. Iran is reported to negotiate a deal. The export variant has a maximum range of 220 km.

* * *

The Kalibr missile is a weapon that has caused jitters in the West. The weapon is changing the calculus of the reach and effectiveness of smaller naval combatants and submarines. The use of Kalibr during the Syrian conflict demonstrated that today Russia is second to none when it comes to long-range precision strike capability.
- The RBA also referred to previous estimates of this implicit guarantee, which smaller rivals have complained makes it hard to compete.

The Customer Owned Banking Association has estimated the subsidy was worth between $2.9 billion and $4.5 billion.

The International Monetary Fund estimated the implicit government support that the big four received during the global financial crisis was worth 70 basis points.

Regulators worry that implicit guarantees not only harm competition, but add to risk in the financial system by encouraging larger banks to take more risk than otherwise.

"This funding advantage may distort competition, allowing large institutions to grow larger and perhaps pressuring smaller banks to take greater risk," the RBA analysis says.

"lt may also create a risk of moral hazard if banks considered systemically important take excessive risks under the assumption that the public sector will cover downside risks, while the bank benefits from the upside risks. This could increase the cost to the taxpayer in the event of the failure of a large institution."

The government's response to the financial system inquiry last year said steps should be taken to reduce implicit guarantees of banks, and the banking regulator should implement this in line with international trends.
- The US military's drug of choice for helping people stay awake while working long hours is finding its way into the 24/7 workplace, researchers warn.

Billable hours and the pressure to perform is tempting workers to risk their own health to gain a competitive edge.

Leading psychiatrists and drug experts in the US and Australia warn that people are turning to a narcolepsy prescription drug Modafinil because it appears to result in fewer symptoms associated with other cognitive enhancing drugs. Close to 1.4 million scripts were filled last year in Australia for cognitive enhancing drugs including Modafinil and ADHD medications.
Professor Ian Hickie heads the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney.

Professor Ian Hickie heads the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney. Photo: Steven Siewert

Professor of psychiatry Ian Hickie from the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Centre says amphetamine drugs have been increasingly used – and abused – in Australia. People working in law firms and the financial markets could afford to buy them and were often under pressure to stay awake for long hours.

"They have a big downside," he said. "Generally, people can only do that for a short amount of time before their mood, behaviour and sleep-wake cycle becomes erratic. Modafinil keeps people awake with less chaotic effects."
- It also found that “faced with increased surveillance challenges, activists have not always adapted successfully.”

Part of this is a lack of “trusted communications tools,” which has made “direct action impossible to organize.”

The authors argue it is a case of “whether activists are able to adapt as the state adapts and, in doing so, to keep open a space for radical protest within the overall political ecosystem.”

While protest is far from over in the UK, the authors claim “activists are continuing to rely on tried and tested methods of organization,” that are not designed “to counteract forms of surveillance and disruption, which are likely to become increasingly routine parts of the state toolkit as we move deeper into the information age.”

In April, a survey suggested the UK is sleepwalking into an Orwellian surveillance state, with most of its citizens unaware of or disinterested in the far-reaching implications of the government’s Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill.
- Russia's VTB Capital was the sole organiser of the placement, and Siluanov said Russia planned to bypass foreign banks for future launches, following what he called "absurd" pressure on Western organisations.

He bemoaned what he called "telephone law" - the practice, more normally associated with Russia, in which government officials apply informal pressure by making their wishes known over the telephone.

"Our papers (bonds) aren't under any sanctions, but all the same there has lately been active use of this kind of telephone law in recommendations to investors," he said.

"You can't talk about free movement of capital ... if you don't let your companies and banks earn money. It's absurd."
Omnity stands out by offering results that best match for any given search term and also how those results relate to each other. So if you’re about to start a research project on a topic you know little about, you can quickly see who is getting cited the most, whose research is the most influential or which university is leading the pack on that subject. It draws from a number of data sets, including SEC filings, public news organization reports, scientific journals, financial reports and legal histories.
- With America militarily weakened by eight years of President Obama’s policies and more internally divided than ever, Japan and Germany, our erstwhile foes turned by conquest into our staunchest allies, are now re-arming their forces.

Facing an aggressively territorial China, ceaseless North Korean provocation, an openly revanchist Russia as well as the scourge of Radical Islam, it seems they must realize: They may need to stand without us.

The implications are disturbing when we consider the timing of Germany’s unprecedented expansion of the Bundeswehr coinciding with Japan’s recent launch of the JNS Izumo, an aircraft carrier in all but name escalating their undeniable sabre rattling in the South China Sea & Pacific – at the same time, according to Breitbart:

“The German and Dutch armies and navies are poised to “merge”, creating the nucleus of the European Union’s longed for pan-EU military force.”

Forces throughout the world long thought pacified are stirring. Even in Turkey, we see Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman apparently calling for a religious constitution in the ostensibly secular U.S. ally. Could this controversial move signal a nascent desire for the resurgence of The Ottoman Empire as a rekindled caliphate to stand against ISIS?
- But whether this new system will better target hardcore fare evaders, while allowing the rest of the commuting public to travel in peace, as the government claims it will, remains to be seen.

Many of those inadvertent infringements stem from problems with the myki system itself: the lack of short-term tickets or top-up machines on trams, cards that suddenly fail or expire, readers that are scratched or unreadable in the glare of the sun. 

Some of these problems will be with us until the day myki follows Metcard into the dustbin of history.
- Traditional US soft power dominance over the global news media is why the United States, particularly former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reacted so negatively to the appearance on satellite channels around the world of RT from Russia, CCTV from China, Press TV from Iran, and TeleSur from Venezuela. Because America lacks anything of value in real journalism today, the State Department and its NGO minions resort to castigating the "other" international news networks as propaganda channels and purveyors of «conspiracy theories», the latter the long-time preferred pejorative for the CIA in undermining America’s critics.

Hollywood continues to represent the linchpin in America’s soft power corruption. Generally, Russians, Chinese, Arabs, and Iranians continue to be portrayed as villains in a number of Hollywood thrillers. The fact that the US Department of Defense, CIA, and FBI all maintain "entertainment liaison offices" in Los Angeles points to the close cooperation that has always existed between Hollywood and the US military-intelligence complex.

There are increasing signs that the world is growing tired of American soft power cultural "trash". Many nations are rediscovering their own national heroes who are beginning to draw the attention of children away from such campy American exports as Captain America, Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. In any event, Genghis Khan of Mongolia, Shaka Zulu of the Zulu nation, Emperor Kangxi of China, Czar Peter the Great of Russia, Emperor Xerxes the Great of Persia, and Alexander the Great of Macedon are much more interesting and compelling figures to be proud of than Jamala and Conchita Wurst.
- Consider, for instance, the proliferation of military aid programs. The Security Assistance Monitor, a nonprofit that tracks such programs, has identified more than two dozen of them worth about $10 billion annually.

Combine them with similar programs tucked away in the State Department’s budget, and the U.S. is contributing to the arming and training of security forces in 180 countries. To put that mind-boggling total in perspective, there are at most 196 countries on the planet.
Who could possibly keep track of such programs, no less what effect they may be having on the countries and militaries involved, or on the complex politics of, and conflicts in, various regions?

Best suggestion — don’t even think about it, which is exactly what the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex want you to do. And no need for Congress to do so either.

After all, as Lora Lumpe and Jeremy Ravinsky of the Open Society Foundations noted earlier this year, the Pentagon is the only government agency providing foreign assistance that does not even have to submit to Congress an annual budget justification for what it does. As a result, they write, “the public does not know how much the DoD is spending in a given country and why.”

If smokescreens and evasive maneuvers aren’t enough to hide the Pentagon’s actual priorities from the taxpaying public, there’s always secrecy. The Secrecy Project at the Federation of American Scientists recently put the size of the intelligence portion of the national security state’s “black budget” — its secret spending on everything from spying to developing high-tech weaponry — at more than $70 billion.

That figure includes a wide variety of activities carried out through the CIA, the NSA and other members of the intelligence community, but $16.8 billion of it was requested directly by the Department of Defense.

And that $70 billion is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to secret spending programs, since billions more in secret financing for the development and acquisition of new weapons systems has been squirreled away elsewhere.
- Our education system needs to focus less on making everybody the same and more on nurturing the individual. The problem is, individuals have opinions, and as John. D Rockefeller himself said, he “wants a nation of workers, not thinkers.” It is in the interests of many to manufacture a working class that does not think for itself. When we are forced to work ourselves to exhaustion simply in order to survive, we have no time to worry about bigger issues, like the environment or corporate greed. We can do much better than this. We are infinite potential and we have amazing solutions for almost all of our problems. One thing is for sure, if our school system does not start to teach these ‘inner values,’ our children will continue to focus on material wealth and look for happiness in external things. They will not learn to consider their emotions and those of other people, or how to manage the stresses of life.
- It appears clearly that Washington’s enraged neoconservatives around Victoria Nuland in the State Department and Defense Secretary Ash Carter have made the best contribution to bringing China and Russia together in an unprecedented manner. They managed this impressive feat by imposing financial and economic sanctions on Russia and threatening China’s sea lanes, fostering terrorism in Xinjiang and advancing the military “Asia Pivot” as well as the TPP that deliberately excludes China.

The result is that both Russia and China are forging deep long-term economic ties across Eurasia that ultimately will become the focal point for world economic growth as the China New Silk Road—the One Belt, One Road project– links Russia, China, Iran and the vast regions across Eurasia with a new network of high-speed rail and port links, energy links, pipelines, electricity infrastructure. Russia has clearly decided to “Go East, young man.”

It would be an entirely new paradigm if the nations of Europe were to also go East to open vast new markets for their stagnating economies rather than open US Missile defense bases, hosting advanced nuclear weapons and station US troops on the borders of Russia.
- According to the document, despite the crash of the global colonial system, the richest states “chasing ever receding consumer horizons continue growing rich on account of all the rest.”

“It is impossible to consider justified international division of work, where certain countries are suppliers of indisputable values, first of all, human labor or irreplaceable raw materials, while others supply conventional values, in particular financial resources. Money to pay for work or irreplaceable natural resources are taken directly ‘out of thin air’, from the printing press thanks to the monopoly of world currencies issuers,” it further said.

The authors point out that such unilateral globalization “giving unjustified privileges for certain participants on the account of the others result in partial, and sometimes in fact entire loss of sovereignty.”

The church representatives stressed that “growing property gap contributes to multiplying sin as it provokes lust of flesh on one pole, envy and hatred – on the other.”

The document also criticizes usury and declaring loan system the main mover of the economy and states that earlier impossibility to give back a debt threatened with bankruptcy one borrower, then “in conditions of globalization unmeasured ‘financial bubble’ threatens with bankruptcy to the whole humanity.”
- According to published research, the AlphaGo system was able to correctly predict what move a human will make 57% of the time. Imagine if you could correctly predict what a person would do 57% percent of the time – maybe while negotiating a business deal, or selling a product, or pushing a political agenda.

And remember, we’re not talking about predicting simple yes-no decisions, but sophisticated situations that have many possible options.  Someone with that predictive ability could use it to build an empire of political or economic power.  And that ability now exists.  Yes, it’s limited to a Go board, but that’s just a matter of implementation, not a limitation of the technology.
- Why lack of sleep is bad for your health:
Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy.
Most of us need around eight hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly – but some need more and some less.
As a general rule, if you wake up tired and spend the day longing for a chance to have a nap, it's likely that you're not getting enough sleep.
If you seem to catch every cold and flu that's going around, your bedtime could be to blame. Prolonged lack of sleep can disrupt your immune system, so you're less able to fend off bugs.
Lack of sleep can also make you put on weight
Chronic sleep debt may lead to long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Studies have suggested that people who usually sleep less than five hours a night have an increased risk of having or developing diabetes.
Long-standing sleep deprivation seems to be associated with increased heart rate, an increase in blood pressure and higher levels of certain chemicals linked with inflammation, which may put extra strain on your heart.
- "In 2010, the bus was only a dream, but now it is in a mature stage," said Wang Peng, director of the Shenyang chamber of commerce. After meeting with Song and assessing the safety of the bus technology, the Shenyang city government signed an agreement this month to build about 12 miles of elevated bus tracks for testing, Wang said.
"The elevated bus merges existing, mature technology found in railroads, subways and buses," Wang said. "The only question is now how it will interact with other traffic once implemented."
To prevent traffic accidents, Song said guardrails would be constructed between the bus tracks and the car lanes that pass through the elevated bus. The rails would be able to absorb at least 70 percent of a collision's impact to reduce damage to the bus and other vehicles. Lanes for the elevated bus would be limited to passenger vehicles no higher than 7.2 feet, and the buses are designed to meet zoning and bridge height regulations in each city.
Song said the buses were fully capable of turning corners, though the cars underneath must wait until the buses have passed before turning themselves.
"People didn't understand the technology before," he said. "But now that the government supports entrepreneurship and innovation, our earlier critics haven't said anything."
- I am sure there are some people who have timed all these tactical rises and falls sufficiently well to make money out of them. When I look at what has happened over the sweep of my career however, the overwhelming story is that patient, diversified investment in the markets works.
The ASX's All Ordinaries Index has delivered a 1179 per cent gain since the beginning of 1980, and a compound return of 6 per cent. The All Ords accumulation index has returned 1579 per cent, or 6.9 per cent. The respective average annual returns since the turn of the century have been about 7.5 per cent.
I can choose a shorter time frame and get a worse result. This sharemarket is still about 17 per cent below its pre global crisis high, and its total return including dividends since the end of 2007 is about 2 per cent.
That is skewed by the retreat of mining shares, however, and the big message remains: it is a long-term game. Buy steadily, either directly or indirectly through super for example, and results will eventually revert to the mean – a return of about 5 to 6 per cent.
The miracle of compound interest means a return of that magnitude is enough to deliver something you probably hadn't dreamed was possible when you began: rather like my time in daily journalism, which now draws to a close. Thanks for reading, and farewell.
- A media release quoted Richard Lane a senior vice-=president at Moody's, as saying: "The top four cash-heavy US industries remain technology, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and energy.

These four industries currently hold a record US$1.3 trillion, or 77% of total corporate cash and have accounted for more than 72% of the total every year since 2007.

The total cash held by US non-financial companies rated by Moody's was US$1.68 trillion, an increase of 1.8% from $1.65 trillion at the end of 2014.

The top 50 holders of cash account for US$1.14 trillion of the total, and entry to that top 50 requires US$6.12 billion in cash.
- The post-war fate of Kuril Islands was sealed during the Yalta Conference in 1945, where in exchange for Soviet entry into the war against Japan after battles in the European theater ended, the Soviet Union was designated the Kuril Islands and southern Sakhalin, parts of which had been lost in the Russian-Japanese war in 1905.

Days after the Soviet-Japanese War of 1945 started on August 9, Joseph Stalin sent a personal message to then-US President Henry Truman, reminding him that after the Japanese surrender “all the Kurile Islands which according to the three-Power decision taken in the Crimea, are to pass into the possession of the Soviet Union.”

The US was at first reluctant to grant Soviet forces sovereignty over all of the Kurils, wanting to keep one of the islands “preferably in the central group” for themselves for a permanent military base. Stalin, however, reminded Truman that “demands of this kind are usually laid either before a vanquished country or before an allied country that is unable to defend a particular part of its territory.”
- In 2009 Hung Huang, a talk show host often described as "China's Oprah Winfrey", wrote about the Chinese racial prejudice amid a nationwide debate over whether a mixed-race contestant should be "allowed" to appear on a popular reality TV show .

"We tend to be biased against those who are darker-skinned, while admiring races that are paler than us. It is a deeply rooted evil within us," Hung wrote on her blog.

China Daily columnist Raymond Zhou said the bias against dark skin was in part an offshoot of class discrimination: field labourers were tanned while the rich were pale.

"Many of us even look down on fellow Chinese who have darker skin, especially women," he wrote.

"Beauty products that claim to whiten the skin always fetch a premium. And children are constantly praised for having fair skin."
- While the T-14 main battle tank is the most prominent member of the Armata family, the vehicle series incorporates a host of new fighting machines. Among those is a platform ominously named the Terminator-3, which is a tank support fighting vehicle.

“Russia also plans to develop its tank support fighting vehicle dubbed the Terminator-3 on the basis of the country’s latest Armata tanks,” Oleg Sienko, a senior manager with Uralvagonzavod Corporation told state-owned RIA Novosti earlier this year. “We will [produce them]. We have a concept for developing vehicles on the basis of the Armata platform.”

However, Sienko did not provide any additional details about the new combat vehicle other than the fact it would be based on the Armata chassis. Previous iterations of the Terminator—or more formally the Boyevaya Mashina Podderzhki Tankov—series were based on the T-72 main battle tank chassis.

There is no direct analogue to a “tank support fighting vehicle” in the U.S. Army. Perhaps the nearest equivalent is the M3 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (CFV) variant of the long-serving Bradley—but it’s a poor comparison at best. A potentially closer comparison might be the Israeli Namer—which is based on a Merkava 4 tank chassis—but the Russian machines are not designed to carry troops. Perhaps the best historical equivalent in terms of roles and missions might be the World War Two-era German Brummbär or Sturmtiger assault guns.

The Terminator-3—and the two previous Terminator vehicles—are  heavily armed machines designed to support tanks in combat against both other armored vehicles and dismounted infantry in difficult terrain. The Red Army—and later the Russian Ground Forces—developed the series based on the lessons it learnt from Afghanistan and Chechnya.

The idea was to build a vehicle with the protection of a main battle tank, but which had the ability to engage enemy armor, bunkers and infantry in hiding in elevated positions. Indeed, every version of the Terminator built to date has the armor protection equivalent to—or better—than a main battle tank.
Former prisoners have some of the worst health, economic and social outcomes of all Australians.

Sixty-five per cent of former prisoners are still without a job six months after release, and one in five lack stable housing, according to a 2014 study by Melbourne University researchers. This is against a backdrop of low education levels, low proficiency in literacy and numeracy, patchy work histories, and relatively high drug and alcohol use.

These factors make it more difficult for former prisoners to re-integrate into society and avoid going back to jail – a problem clearly shown in the figures.

About 60 per cent of people in prison have been there before, with nearly half the prisoners released in 2012-13 returning to jail within two years, according to the Productivity Commission.

With the social, economic and financial stakes so high, you would think that all government policy would be pushing in the same direction to make it easier for former inmates to find work.

But there is one policy that actually renders many unemployable and locks them in a permanent underclass: the minimum wage.

Minimum wages make it uneconomic for businesses to employ people with lower productivity, which is why the less educated and less skilled are hardest hit. Indeed, the law already recognises this problem by allowing disabled people, apprentices and youth to be paid a portion of the full adult rate.
- The U.S. Navy’s strike fighter squadrons are in dire straits with only one out of three Boeing F/A-18 Hornet airframes being ready for war at any given time. In order to meet its operational requirements, the service is routinely raiding squadrons that are not deployed to secure enough jets for the air wings at are about to go to sea.

“If I have to ensure that I have ten like strike fighters are in a single squadron on that aircraft carrier and they need the same capability, I will tax units that are back here at home,” Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command testified before the House Armed Services Committee on May 26. “If I need ten forward, I do routinely operate four aircraft in squadrons in the rear.”

Within the Navy, only one out of four Hornets is fully mission capable. “That one in four is currently deployed,” Capt. Randy Stearns, Commodore of Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic told the committee. “The other three in four are the aircraft that are back in the maintenance phase or going through another FRP [fleet response plan].”

The Navy currently has four air wings that are ready for war, but it has no ability to surge any additional forces. In previous years, it would have taken the Navy about 90 days to ready another air wing for deployment—now it takes roughly three times as long. If tasked to surge another air wing, Stearns said that it would take between six months and a year to gather enough aircraft and pilots to get another air wing ready for war.  “There is no chance of getting those ready,” Stearns said. “There is nothing to pull from in the back, we’ve already put everything forward. There’s nothing left.”

- as usual thanks to all of the individuals and groups who purchase and use my goods and services

Cheesy Tomato Based Pasta Recipe, Adding Subtitles to Video Files, and More

This is the latest in my series on quick, easy, and tasty meals:   http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2018/08/cheapeasyhealthy-tomato-based-pa...