2015: The Year Consumers Finally Figure Out They've Already Got Enough Needless Crap

Turns out there is at least one thing worse for both individuals and the planet than buying needless crap, that's borrowing the money to buy it. Come on people, it's time to tear off the convenient blinders and admit that it simply does not work in the long term to finance your current lifestyle by borrowing against your future.  Especially when you're borrowing from your future to buy crap you don't actually need in the present.

Fortunately there is some good news from the crap comsumpto-meter. As usual it doesn't come about because of growth in empathy but from the fact that so many 'consumers' are so far in debt already for all the crap they've already consumed they've reached their crap saturation point. For some the credit card companies said adios, some found it hard to get more credit while living in their car. For various reasons, seldom based on choice, consumer spending has dropped month over month and during the high psychosis season of Xmas despite the plummeting gas prices leaving a few bucks in their wallets..

"The oil price has plummeted in response to a massive buildup of shale-derived oil in the US, reduced fears of fighting in Iraq disrupting supplies, and slower growth in demand as the world economy falters.", says The Guardian. Analysts and experts generally agree that the plunge in oil prices is part rising supplies from the shale frackers boom, part slowing demand as Europe and Japan falter and China's growth weakens. Oil barons themselves, like T. Boone Pickens, agree that oil is down due to weak demand, "Oil prices fall because global demand is down, as much as because supply is up. A crucial point that few seem to grasp; the Saudis do though".

Oil demand is dropping in parallel with almost all other commodities. Oil prices have slid because of a slowdown of overall world economic growth. Demand for transportation energy demand isn't dropping it's slowly increasing as it has been for many decades. But transportation fuels, are 18% or 20% of total demand for energy and all the other parts, 80%, are dropping because they all are to differing degrees embedded within the multiple layers of extractive capitalism.

Demand drives every market exchange. Even slightly less demand, creates a domino effect where slightly less is produced, shipped, stored and slightly less is borrowed by idiots to buy it. The producers need less oil/coal/gas to run their operations, less of the commodities they make it out of. Turns out consuming less needless crap is at least a partial solution to pollution as well as the remedy for many an individual psychosis.

"The way that can be spoken of is not the Way" Lao Tzu taught over 5,000 years ago. The way that can't be spoken of by the economic analysts and experts is that deflation driven degrowth, worldwide, is being caused by the slow drop in discretionary spending caused by the pressure of personal debt which in turn opens people's eyes to the fact they've got enough crap already.


Greek Govt. Falls, The Left Rises, Bankers Panic, Snap Elections, New Drachmas...Happy New Year

On its way to your ATM soon if you're lucky.

A shiver ran through the Empire this morning as the Greek left rose up "Vowing to End the Neoliberal Experiment". The resulting snap elections in January will decide whether the country receives more dough and more debt from the ‘troika’ of creditors (European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF) and continue the hated policies of austerity.

Right on cue the IMF said Monday it is suspending financial assistance to Greece until the new government is formed, the others will shortly follow. As Athens-based journalist Aris Chatzistefanou says, “We have ahead of us a campaign of fear and terror imposed on public opinion by the powers that are losing their positions in the Parliament, and they’ll probably say that ATMs will stop giving us money, that the economy will collapse and that the foreign countries will invade. I don’t know what they can think of. But that’s exactly the same scenario that they were trying to impose during the previous elections and it was quite successful."

The ongoing Greek austerity stranglehold has destroyed the prospects for much of a generation. Youth unemployment is 60 per cent and the rate Greece-wide remains the highest in the eurozone at 25 percent. Greece's debts were not brought on by overspending on social programs-as the Empire's spin would have it - but by billions in military spending in response to the paranoid security fears of America after 9/11 during the lead up to the 2002 Olympics and the profit hungry bankers only to happy to keep shoveling the dough and debt.

Greece's military, the major cause of Greek debt, has been leveraging and 'convincing' successive governments to borrow more dough/debt in order to buy more from the global arms dealers and military contractors who have already pre-bribed Greece's politicians for decades. "For a long time Greece spent 7% of its GDP on defense when other European countries spent an average 2.2%. If you were to add up that compound 5% from 1946 to today, there would be no debt at all."- the Gaurdian.

Should Greece eventually chose to default and leave the EU [and they should], its new Drachma currency would dive in value and allow the Greek economy to become internationally competitive. It would mean that several hundred billion in Greek bonds currently held in official accounts would go from par to worthless overnight, leading to massive heart attack throughout the Empire. For example: Goldman Sachs has 58 trillion dollars in derivatives exposure to Greece.

"Earlier today we got a classic, if rare, example of what happens when bankers bluff with a 2-7 off suit... and the people call it." - Tyler Durden

The mainstream Greek newspapers are cranking out panic signals as if fuelled on 100% strength kaffe eleniko.- Paul Mason 


The Longterm Impacts On BC's Food Future of Site C Dam are Massive, Irreversible and Un-Necessary

See, feel and hear the land and the people of the Peace River Valley threatened by the Site C Dam. 

The long term impacts that the proposed Site C project would cause are massive and devastating. The portion of the Peace River Valley threatened by the proposed Site C Dam is home to some of the country’s best agricultural land by flooding or disrupting at least 30,000 acres of rich farmland – enough, say expert agrologists, to feed a million people.

Hell even the BCNDP, often beguiled by their inner 'union jobs vs. tree hugger' split, understands this angle. The NDP MLA, and Green Economy critic, George Heyman said that Site C must be seen in the context of the province's future need for food. Heyman pointed out that droughts in California have already increased the cost of produce, and the effects of climate change will only make this situation worse over the next 10 to 30 years."It's going to be harder and harder for us to get food from elsewhere as people focus on feeding themselves."

Every mega-project has its cheerleaders, they've always got big bucks to attempt to buy your consent through manipulative advertising and well oiled government mouthpieces. Queen Stooge in this case is Christy whose 100 year chant is meaningless because the banks of the valley are unstable so predicting how much they cave in and how much resulting silt will be deposited behind the dam how quickly is what scientists call a 'wicked problem' - basically the dirt people [sedimentologists] don't know. Queen Christy's 100 year projections are...as the 'dirt people' say unknowable.

Accounting is another large part of the illusion. The mega-project cheerleaders, and accounting braintrust generally, are stuck, they can't grock that an intact environment provides the underlying structure that supports everything, including their dream dam. for zero dollars.

The David Suzuki Foundation's report titled 'The Peace Dividend' is the first study of its kind that attempts to quantify the enormous natural wealth in B.C.'s threatened Peace Region. The study found that ecological services provided by farmland and nature in the Peace River Watershed are conservatively worth an estimated $7.9 billion to $8.6 billion a year. It concluded that the economic benefits of keeping the Peace River region's remaining farmland and nature intact are enormous, saying, "These ecosystems play a critical role in providing clean air, clean water, habitat for wildlife and many other ecological benefits that sustain the health and well-being of local residents, and contribute to the cultural and traditional ways of First Nations."

That's about $8.6 billion a year every year. But that's only part of what a really Green accounting balance sheet would include. It doesn't include the cost that a damed mega-project would avoid now by passing it on to future genersations in the way of pollution cleanup and degradation of health conditions. Every industrial activity all along the capitalist chain has a cost, a footprint, it consumes energy - embeded energy, it pollutes. Those costs are externalized in accounting jargon.

If Site C goes ahead it'll destroy a huge swath of prescious, irreplacable agricultural land and borrow billions to do it. Why...we don't need the electricity? WHY,WHY,WHY...WHY would they do it? Some say it's fracking, some say it's to power LNG...but IMO Queen Christy is focused, now that gas in the crapper, on the NAWAPA and Grand Prairie schemes for continental water sharing.


Keeping the Peace Valley Safe From Bankers, Billionaires and Bullshit [not the good kind]

Building new beds for next year's garden expansion does allow the mind to wander in wonder at the miracle of it all. It takes millions of years for weather to erode the mountains and millions more for the debris to be distributed by the rivers and life itself to produce soil.

The alluvial soil in the east-west-running Peace River valley with its deep alluvial soils is the only Class 1 climate north of Prince George and particularly suited to vegetable production. The valley the damned dam-ers want to despoil can produce almost all the crops grown in the Fraser Valley with higher productivity (yields) due to its longer daylight. As Wendy Holm says in her acclaimed Vancouver Sun article, "Its time to start using the F-word. The F word is food."

Food you remember comes from the earth, even hamburgers. The area under attack by the bankers and billionaires is home to some of Canada's best agricultural land. The Site C Dam would flood or disrupt 30,000 acres of this rich farmland, enough, say expert agrologists, to feed a million people.

The Peace River is the only corridor that breaks trough the rocky mountains from the Yukon to southern Mexico so has been the land hwy for countless generations of grazers to follow those seasonal abundances. wildlife [as in let the buffalo roam] is another reason why the peace river valley is irreplaceable.

When Queen Christy announced the incredibly stupid decision to go ahead with the damn dam she boasted about its 100 year generating lifespan. During that 100 years the dam will collect silt and become a useless shrine and what's left, not washed over the dam, of the once magical alluvial soil will be anaerobically strangled dead sludge. The river of course will win, in the longterm it'll find it's way over, under or through the damned thing one day.

As the STOP SITE C website says, "Christy Clark may think that she’s moving on with Site C, but she’s hugely mistaken.  This battle to save the Peace River Valley from this unnecessary and destructive project is far from over! Five, soon to be 6 lawsuits have been launched against the federal and provincial governments with regard to Site C.  "The project will gravely impact the ability of Treaty 8 communities way of life in exercising their treaty-protected constitutionally-enshrined rights to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest across their lands,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

There are other ways of living on the planet. There are other ways of accounting that both more honestly include the full costs now being 'externalized' by the dam builders as well as the free services that David Suzuki explains in 'The Peace Dividend'.

The economic benefits of keeping the Peace River region's remaining farmland and nature intact are enormous, according to a recent report from the David Suzuki Foundation. "These ecosystems play a critical role in providing clean air, clean water, habitat for wildlife and many other ecological benefits that sustain the health and well-being of local residents, and contribute to the cultural and traditional ways of First Nations" - the David Suzuki Foundation.

The whole thing stinks of bankers, billionaires, bribes.and bullshit [not the good kind]


Ruble Rebounds on China's Financial Support and Russia's Longterm Wealth Prospects

Apparently Russia's ruble has already bounced back over 33% from it's low a week ago. Odd isn't it...the quick tumble was big news, the mainstream media are oddly quiet about the surge in the value of the Ruble since then. Looks like the market's speculators had started to realize that Russia isn't so isolated then came the news that China’s foreign minister has pledged support to Russia as it faces an economic downturn due to sanctions and a drop in oil prices. Boosting trade in yuan is a solution proposed by Beijing’s commerce minister.

“Russia is an irreplaceable strategic partner on the international stage,” according to an editorial today in the Global Times, a Beijing-based daily affiliated with the Communist Party. “China must take a proactive attitude in helping Russia walk out of the current crisis.” China has by far the largest stash, almost $4 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves, 8 times larger than the US's.

China pledges to help Russia overcome economic hardships

Russia only let the ruble ride the speculative whirlwind on Nov. 10th, 6 weeks ago, for the first time in it's long history. Who knows why, a senior's moment maybe. Since that day it has been under attack by the speculators who smelled blood as the price of oil plummeted. They'd be wise IMO to, as soon as it reaches where it used to be, re-lock it in like the yuan is, give the fucking speculators one less currency to prey on.

What the hell is going on here? The oil crisis, if paying less to the gluttons is a crisis, is being caused by two factors.
1. Oversupply by the recent unforeseen fracking glut, not by the media's culprit - OPEC [who's not pumping an extra drop].
2.As famous oilman T. Boone Pickens said this morning, "Oil is down mainly due to weak demand."

T. Boone knows that all commodities are down because discretionary spending is way down in Europe and Japan, consequently there is less demand by manufactures for energy to produce the crap consumers their aren't buying. The US is slightly different in that the top crust are still spending, the credit card weilding ummer driving class is still going deeper in debt, but most Americans are cutting discretionary spending, even Xmas spending, both at the malls and online, is down over 10%.

The Ruble will regain it's strength more slowly than the V shaped bounce above in the coming weeks but the price of oil won't. There is a serious oversupply and the ones who'll be going down first are the oil field supply companies in 'ugly' oil sectors like in the tarsands and global fracking fiascoes, and other 'ugly' oil producers like in Iran, Venezuela and Mexico. Not sure about Iran but in Canada, Mexico and Venezuela almost everyone of those supply and equipment companies has huge loans that they were barely meeting before the plunge, now they're toast. All of those loans are bundled together into investment 'derivatives' that are then bought sold and bet on by insurance derivatives...the domino effect 21st century style.

Russia, China...all the BRICS nations can remain calm and confident that in the long-term slow and steady, not wild and speculative, wins the race.


Putin Cool and Confident During 3hr. Grilling by the Global Media, Bear and Ruble Will Be Fine

President of Russia Vladimir Putin during his news conference

Two days ago, Dec.18, 2014, Vladimir Putin answered every question from journalists and others around the world during his tenth annual major news conference. For over three hours the Russian president transfixed the world’s media, even those who viscerally oppose him. From geo-politics to Moscow's horrendous parking, from war to love, Putin answered everything the diverse global media asked without notes. On both the local and international level, no current leader fascinates the media like Putin.

Pepe Escobar, an independent journalist at the news conference, wrote yesterday, "Putin was so cool, calm, collected – and eager to delve into details - at his press conference because he knows Moscow is able to move in total autonomy"  His article about the experience, 'What Putin is not telling us',.explains why Russia in that position, saying, "This is – of course – an asymmetrical war – against a crumbling, dangerous empire. This is a chess game. The raid on the ruble was supposed to be a checkmate. It’s not."

The Daily Telegraph says, "Mr Putin denied feeding a new Cold War, railed against NATO expansion in eastern Europe – a favorite theme – and, in his most interesting language, wheeled out the image of the Russian bear to illustrate the West’s contempt for Moscow. “The bear eats berries and honey,” the Russian president said. “Will the bear ever be left in peace? No, they will always try to chain him up and tear out his fangs and claws… then stuff him or put his skin on the wall."

The highlights and clips still up from the Telegraph's live feed are available here. Including the portion where Putin explains how time and the Russian Bear will tend its temporarily withered ruble. Putin explained how this too shall pass, the world will need Russia's energy resources, the ruble will be fine.

Putin has another huge advantage - Russians aren't Americans. Putin, or any Russian leader, can tell the country to tighten their belts and they will. In fact they rally in support [Putin's ratings are up 10 points in the last 2 weeks to 80%]. Americans on the other hand are scared shitless of every moving shadow. Right now they're scared of North Korea somehow attacking America's movie theaters, they're scared of Iran, scared of China, scared of...Did you see the reaction to Ebola? Americans are terrorized, they live on an emotional knife-edge, very dangerous for all of us.

'Peace on Earth' can only happen after escaping the culture of fear.

Fear worked well for our ancestors when they needed to run from a predator or avoid the rising flood, but this ancient, occasionally useful, tool, this servant, has been turned into straight jacket. Freedom isn't fear, it's the lack of it. Freedom is joy, freedom is peace and confidence that we are connected, all, flora-fauna-microbes-minerals-forces and faeries, in this together.


Cubans Need Pharmaceuticals Not Trojan Horses Filled With Bankers, Spies and Assassins

Cubans celebrate the release of the "Cuban Five" in Havana

The 'history making' US/Cuba prisoner swap yesterday came complete with speeches by.both Presidents saying that the counties will restore full diplomatic relations for the first time in more than 50 years, including re-opening of the American embassy in Havana which has been shuttered for nearly half a century. YIKES! Surely the Castros, and all Cubans, know that the US will open the Embassy and fill it with spies and assassins.

Is this historic making? Highly unlikely. The Amereican's goal here is to crack another nut for US Corporate interests, especially financial ones. Obama said so when he announced "easing restrictions on banking" which on Main St. means he's unleashing the banks on Cuba. Cuba scares the Bankers and Billionaires Club because Cuba is close to all the BRICS nations.and de-linked from the vampires at the IMF/World Bank.

The Castros and Cubans aren't dumb, if i see this they certainly do. The Yanquis bankers know BRICS is going to lend Cuba the money for projects without the IMF's conditionality noose attached. This transparent 'offer' by Obama is part of the US's rightful fear of the collapse of their petrodollar. The Mud Report predicts that Cuba will announce new development loans from BRICS after they get done laughing over their Mojitos and Cigars.

Another buncha propaganda from Obama was about how  "Cuba will allow its citizens increased access to the internet." In the US's twisted view: the US will even generously finance the technology the Cubans will need to best assure the NSA/CIA spooks in spying on the Cubans as they do already on the rest of us. The US has long sought this as a means of increasing pressure within Cuba  for [US style] democratic reform. Haven't seen the Cubans leaping on this 'offer' either.

The Cubans need access to pharmaceuticals not Shock Doctrine conditionality loans. The Cubans have gotten their 'Cuban 5' back, that was their objective. Cuba has NO need of entanglement with torturers, liars or colonizers...bankers, spies or assassins. Cuba will see this for what it is, a Trojan Horse.


Ruble Tumbles, Good Time to Buy Property in Central Siberia Along the Beijing to Berlin Railway

The Russian Bear will tend its temporarily withered Ruble.

Some folks are calling yesterday 'Black Tuesday' in Russia but beyond the chaos at high priced electronics and auto showrooms ordinary Russians remain unaffected. Ordinary Russians, the state workers and poorer people are Putin’s main supporters. They often don’t have savings and their expenses are in rubles. The ruble’s slide mostly hits the upper classes who holiday abroad and have savings. As well, the plunge might mean some of the oligarchy [who have been very big buyers in recent weeks] having to unwind some of their London property, whadda shame eh..

While the MSM reports: "Russian media across the country from St. Petersburg to Siberia reported exchange points running out of foreign currency and were experiencing a rush for dollars and euros." They never mention by who. That 'who' is the same non-Putin supporting 30% in Russia that it is here in Canada. In Canada they'd be loyal Harper supporters.

Russia’s Economic Development Minister Aleksey Ulyukaev said, "Speculative pressure has hit Russia as well as other emerging economies hard. The ruble’s Tuesday plunge indicates 'certain calculations and expectations of market players." He's not worried, why should he be, Russia has the largest resource base in the world and it's just signed huge energy contracts with China and India. The world needs Russia a lot more than it needs currency speculators.

Russia has some short term currency problems but as Russia’s Central Bank Chair Elvira Nabiullina says, "The plunging ruble is a signal for the Russian economy to adapt to new conditions. We must learn to live in a new reality, to focus more on our own resources to finance projects and give import substitution a chance." Import substitution is an economic plan to produce more domestically, as imports are now much more expensive for Russians given the weak currency.

Nabiullina predicts a 5% recession this coming year, but in the longer run that would help Russia, just as such a setback in cheap imports can and will help Canada's internal economy and employment prospects. The same situation is going on in every petro-state right now. It could lead to more chaos or it could be exactly the opening needed to shift toward a localized, hand made, perma-culture type new economic order.

Russia and Putin have been playing this whole thing very cool but they are obviously in the Empire's crosshairs. The Ruble attack will turn around, my advice to an old friend earlier was sell his 'portfolio' and buy a chunk of land in Central Siberia along the soon to be built Beijing to Berlin Railway.


Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism Opens and Pope says 'Souls For All'

It's good news Friday again. Not only has the deluge stopped and my neighbors floods begun to subside. Not only has the sun re-appeared here at the hideout but the Good News that unexpectedly broke out in this morning's Inbox warmed my heart to boot.


Francis consoles boy crying over dead pup

‘Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures’ - Pope Francis

First email i opened: Pope says dogs can go to heaven: ‘Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures’ Pope Francis, making one of the only actual spiritual actions by a religious leader, said, Trying to console a distraught little boy whose dog had died, Francis told him in a recent public appearance on St. Peter's Square that "paradise is open to all of God's creatures."

Later, citing biblical passages that assert that animals not only go to heaven, but get along with one another when they get there, Francis was quoted by the Italian news media as saying: "One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God's creatures."

A different article says, "His words of consolation recently to a boy distraught over the death of his dog renew debate on whether animals have souls, suffer and go to heaven." The issue of who gets a soul and who doesn't has confounded Catholic and other Christians ever since they dreamed up this definition of what is undefinable. Words are tricky business once again. Where using a generality allows the listener to project his own definition onto what's being described, dividing it into specifics - dogs OK, what about slugs, pit bulls...?

The solution IMO is Souls For All...never could imagine wanting to go to a place that doesn't let in dogs or any of the critters i've loved over the years. Thanks Pope Francis, very good Poping.


Zapatistas First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism

Hard as it was to open another one as it was bound to be downhill from there, it was this: 'First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism - General Program'. The festival runs from tomorrow's opening ceremonies [Dec. 20th] to Jan. 3rd. Daily events include communal meals, cultural events and festivals, discussions and on most days group work sharing projects. For more detailed information about how to participate please email: comparticioncultural@gmail.com

From the first posts published on The Mud Report almost exactly 5 years ago, to the one latest last summer that focused on Sub-Commandante Marcos farewell statement and the tremendously positive and hopeful force his, and the Zapatistas, have given all of us who can only dream of living another way, The Zapatista Way.

One of the most moving pieces i ever read was 'In Chiapas, A Revolution That Won't Go Away'. For me, the best sub-section of it is titled 'Diego, The Boy Who Is Free'. To quote: "Diego is part of the first generation of Zapatista children whose births are registered by one of the organization’s own civil judges. In the eyes of his father, he is one of the first fully independent human beings. He was born in Zapatista territory, attends a Zapatista school, lives on unregistered land, and his body is free of pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Adding to his autonomy is the fact that nothing about him -- not his name, weight, eye color, or birth date -- is officially registered with the Mexican government. His family does not receive a peso of government aid, nor does it pay a peso worth of taxes. Not even the name of Diego’s town appears on any official map."

If, like me, going to Chiapas to help work and bask in in their revolutionary warmth is nearly impossible, you can for a few minutes feel the wonder of it in the video below.


Torture is a Crime Regardless of Effectiveness or How Many Exceptional Nukes Ya Got

The articles and comments i've agreed with these last two days about the Senate Torture Report are 'legion'. Edward Snowden's comment: "The world cannot accept efficiency as an excuse for what is essentially 'criminal behavior' on the part of the CIA. Adding,  "A government could say that rape has a positive effect because we have a declining demographic crisis in the country... Efficiency has no place in the debate about right and wrong,” Snowden said while answering a  question about whether the US is in deep moral crisis.

McCain on the other hand, though making many great points in his rejection of torture does, at the end of his speech, like the MSM mouthpieces, resort to the 'and besides it's ineffective because it produces bad intelligence. That distinction between torture as a crime regardless and torture as acceptable especially if effective [and done by a country armed to the teeth with nukes, an exceptional country] is at the heart of that moral crisis.

Just days before the report was released Huffinton Post published a piece [see graph above] showing Americans evenly divided in support for torture. It's hard for me to believe, hopefully that's in large part the effect of a the dis-information campaign prepared by the criminals and dished out by the MSM:

"American torture was not confined to a handful of aberrational cases or techniques, nor was it the work of rogue CIA agents. It was an officially sanctioned, worldwide regime of torture that had the acquiescence, if not explicit approval, of the top members of both political parties in Congress. It was motivated by far more than interrogation. The evidence for all of this is conclusive and overwhelming. And the American media bears much of the blame, as they refused for years even to use the word “torture” to describe any of this (even as they called these same techniques “torture” when used by American adversaries), a shameful and cowardly abdication that continues literally to this day in many of the most influential outlets. - Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept

The bunch of 'em off, Bush, Cheney, Obama, Brennan...it's long list...have been lying all along and they still are as Craig Murray, British ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002-2004 explains when asked by RT:

Q. "There is a worry that history can repeat itself. Is there a chance that all this can happen again?"
A.   "I think you would be naive if you thought it has entirely stopped. The CIA has probably stopped, at the moment, using torture directly itself. The CIA is most certainly still getting intelligence from torture, by getting other people to do it for them. In Uzbekistan where I was, the CIA didn't actually do the torture. They got the Uzbek government to do it. I also know for certain that at the moment in Bahrain, people are being tortured in order to provide evidence to the CIA. It is just the Bahrainis who are doing the torture, not the CIA."

That sounds exactly like the kinda fork-tongued bullshit Obama would concoct doesn't it? This issue of moral crisis that Snowden was asked about also concerns the wider moral cesspool our western culture, driven it's non-stop consumption and fear of having less, has become by abandoning the moral higher ground to chase the self-delusion of a material fulfillment.

Empires rise, they peak, they decline, they collapse, this is the cycle of history. Empires have seldom collapsed because outside invasion, they rot from within. The moral crisis is being manifested as inequality and racism at home and endless war abroad is eating the Empire from within. The only reason Cheney, Bush and their defenders can stand there and spout their 'patriots not criminals' crap is because they got the nukes. But one day those missiles will decay into a pile of rusted, poisonous mush at the bottom of their casket like silos. One day the lying, the torturing bastards and their accomplices will be behind bars. But that day can only come after the blinders have been removed from the fearful or this Empire too rots from within.


If Degrowth = Trees Cracking Through Blacktop and Tumbleweeds Rolling in Parking Lots, Bring It On

Crude prices continue to drop because there's more supply than demand. The Saudis, Russians, Mexicans et al, aren't quickly pumping more oil now, they've just refused to pump less as have the frackers in America. Globally, oil supply isn't elastic enough to rapidly increase supplies, both supply and demand are 'inelastic' in the short-term. Economists mis-read the oil price drop as a function of over-supply and assume that as soon as the supply side soaks up the excess and the producers 'make up' oil prices will rebound bigtime...but

Not so fast, the 'expert's constant demand logic is true in the transportation sector but, as Erik Lindberg says, "While the transportation sector is responsible for a lot of our emissions, the carbon footprint of any one individual has much more to do with his or her overall levels of consumption of all kinds—the travel (especially on airplanes), the hotels and restaurants, the size and number of homes, the computers and other electronics, the recreational equipment and gear, the food, the clothes, and all the other goods, services, and amenities that accompany an affluent life."

Transportation is often a real need - ambulances, fire trucks etc. or to transport foods in times of distress, even getting to work is a necessity in our world. Demand for transportation fuels remains constant, what dropping everywhere is discretionary spending by consumers on what economists call 'luxury goods' and i call needless crap. Demand for every commodity is slowly dropping as a result of the slow global drop in crap consumption especially by people already hobbled by debt from earlier crap purchases.

Ask McDonald's, the ultimate symbol of needless crap IMO, whose sales have been dropping for years [see graph above]. Ask the retail experts about the dying shopping malls speckled across the United States. According to longtime retail consultant Howard Davidowitz, "Numerous midmarket malls, are going, going, gone,” Adding. “They’re trying to change; they’re trying to get different kinds of anchors, discount stores … [But] what’s going on is the customers don’t have the fucking money. That’s it. This isn’t rocket science.”

Rolling Acres Mall Central Atrium...nowadays

They don't have any more money because they already first spent all they had, then they borrowed more from the future, a future they saw as endlessly rosy. Debt, caused by the combination of super low interest and super stupid humans, is closing the doors of places like the Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio [above] and has been for years now. The drop in consumer demand is small, slow and inexorable. Once upon a time not long ago i figured it'd require millions of people becoming enlightened about capitalism's degenerate underbelly to effect meaningful change, turns our burned out credit does a much better job.

Maybe humans will evolve toward Holmgren's vision of how "a permaculture way of life empowers us to take responsibility for our own welfare, provides endless opportunities for creativity and innovation, and connects us to nature and community in ways that makes sense of the world around us" aided by the excellent pre-industrial agricultural land we paved on the way up. Already trees are growing through pavement and tumble weeds are again rolling unobstructed in the parking lots. Who could ask for more.


Security Spinners Aghast - Senate Torture Report Concludes the US is Exceptional...at Hypocrisy

The Senate's Torture Report is out [here or here]. The Mud Report has said for years that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield should be doing the perpwalk for their war crimes and when Obama, who vowed to prosecute those responsible for torture on numerous occasions during his '08 campaign, made the decision not to prosecute them he became an accessory after the fact. Waterboarding is torture! This has been clearly established in the UN Convention Against Torture [ratified by Ronald Reagan in 1987] and is illegal in the U.S. as well as immoral because Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C of the US Code makes it so under any circumstances.

Waterboarding isn't a new thing, it's been in use since at least the 1500s during the Spanish Inquisition. The suffocation of bound prisoners with water has long been favored by tortureres because, unlike most other torture techniques, it produces no marks on the body. After WWII the US held war crimes trails, found Japanese officers guilty of torture for their use of water boarding and executed them.

"...the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as 'water cure,' 'water torture' and 'waterboarding,' according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning. A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps." - Politifact 

GW's cabal started the ball rolling by asking many members of the Justice Dept. to write opinions about the use of torture. They recieved about 30 different opinions from various lawyers who worked there. Of those, 2 supported [Bybee and Yoo] its use, the rest opposed it as criminal and/or immoral. As we now know the Bushistas cherry picked the two by Bybee and Yoo because they fit the  agenda.

A few months back an arrogantly smirking Obama acknowledged during a White House briefing that "We tortured some folks." The evil asshole tried to excuse the immoral and illegal acts by asking everyone to remember "how afraid people were at the time". Bet the Japanese and the non-Christians...all of 'em we call tortureers were scared too. As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Obama chose nothing.

Today's Senate report is widely condemned as redacted ad ubsurdium, as edited by the CIA, etc. but possibly the worst mistake in most articles is the deliberate confusion between right and wrong when talking about illegal vs.effective. In the old days, immoral and expedient were understood to be opposites, now not delivering good intelligence is an acceptable reason to oppose torture  It's bullshit and not the garden variety.

Glen Greenwald's website The Intercept is the best source to watch the events unfolding in response to the release as well as more detailed background info. The program was not isolated to just a few cases, as if often suggested, writes Greenwald, but rather "was an officially sanctioned, worldwide regime of torture that had the acquiescence, if not explicit approval, of the top members of both political parties in Congress."- Glenn Greenwald


Empowered Individuals Understand That Needs Rule and Wants Drool in the Real World

The prognostications about why oil prices fell so fast and where they're going are circling the picture above created by Charles Hugh Smith. The crystal ball gazing results converge because they all use the same underlying false assumptions about the nature of the long slow demand reduction for all commodities going forward in an even mildly deflationary situation like the real world one just outside their windows.

Words are slippery creatures. Demand for bread is called 'inelastic'. demand for Oreos is elastic. Then there's the who's wants vs. needs calculus. The rich will still be buying south seas islands when the middle class is putting the brakes on credit card debt and the working poor is only buying second hand tents. The formulaic price predictions by economists are wrong because they mis-read or dis-regard the elephant of debt as a crushing of inelastic demand. Not only is needless crap the most elastic of our demands but the extraction of raw materials, the shipping and manufacturing, the stores...everything needs every other part of extractive capitalism to keep going, all of it, all commodities, are falling in price, not just oil, because so many folks have reached the debt-gag threshold.

In the past academic supply - demand - price idealizations haven't recognized that the response to debt often isn't linear. Individuals, families even whole cultures will take on debt 'til they don't. Masked by booming Hummer sales in reaction to lower gas prices and what's sure to be the free-falling needlesscrap prices as elastic demand plummets, our 'experts' will conclude that aggregate demand is steady when in fact it's slip slidin away.

It's slip slidin in large part because, as Erik Lindberg explains, "...pumping gasoline is our most direct connection to the burning of fossil fuels, most [North] Americans overemphasize the significance of what sort of car we drive and many liberals might proudly point to their small economical cars or undersized SUVs. While the transportation sector is responsible for a lot of our emissions, the carbon footprint of any one individual has much more to do with his or her overall levels of consumption of all kinds—the travel (especially on airplanes), the hotels and restaurants, the size and number of homes, the computers and other electronics, the recreational equipment and gear, the food, the clothes, and all the other goods, services, and amenities that accompany an affluent life."

The often heard argument that i 'need' my car to get to work and feed my family can be true,  but it's still elastic because you can buy a small car or take the bus Gus. Food too, you need bread, you want Oreos. IMO, oil prices will stop falling and maybe rise slowly a tiny bit once the supply side war negotiates a cease-fire because demand for transportation fuels will stay level, folks in the wealthier northern climates will still wanna be warm and mild deflation fueled degrowth still leaves lots of real needs that a relocalized permaculture economy will be hard pressed to supply [at first].

Over time a relocalized, hand built, permaculture [patches on your knees] economy can achieve 'Victory Through Vegetables', can organically re-sequester the GHGs that are mostly avoided costs not paid by extractive capitalism. There is a better world ahead, don't be fooled by the Bankers and Billionaires Club's charlatans  the B@B bastards have no concern for you, your job, your children, the actual prices you pay, wealth equality, or the future, and everything to do with the simple fact that the stability of consumer capitalism absolutely depends on a people seeing themselves as consumers not empowered individuals who understand that needs rule and wants drool in the real world


Avian Flu Spreads in Fraser Valley. Solution-Just Say No to Industrial Agriculture, Eat Free Range

The tried reading the news today about concerning the expanded Avian flu quarantine in 4 Fraser Valley farms. They were nearly identical, all focused on how world markets reacted with trade bans on B.C. poultry products. They mentioned the money lost by industrial ag. businesses and their owners, but not a word about how or why all these thousands of chickens and turkeys got the damned flu.

H5 influenza spreads quickly but the infections seldom spread far except under the conditions of intensive crowding and stress in industrial agriculture. Massive barns, massive money, massive debts to build the everything, massive leverage for whoever loans the dough to make it all go. The bankers always demanding that a prescribed list of 'best practices' be adhered to including every ugly and unhealthy aspect of the modern industrial food production system.

One small word the stories all share is 'farm'. The industry and the media use keywords that we all have wholesome internal images of and fond feelings for. 'Farm' elicits a far different instantaneous emotional response than 'industrial poultry business'. That initial emotional response frames how we perceive the rest of the information that follows. We see the little girl at the barn door with the chickens scratching around not a torture scene of tightly caged 'battery' of innocent creatures we've enslaved.

We had free-range chickens roaming around our little farm for about 20 years. Some of them, especially when it snowed, hung out on the porch with the dogs. Pissed off the dogs but this is a chicken-o-centric story so...We got to know them a bit as individuals, each chicken has a different personality...turns out...chickens are people too.

Another common part the MSM's blather about the foul story was the possible shortage of industrial poultry business raised turkeys for the consumer culture's ritual turkey based, post wrapped needless crap opening, gluttony. First off, people could only be so lucky to not eat the growth hormone and antibiotic filled crap. Second, the capitalists will fill any hole in supply with other industrial poultry from somewhere. Third, there are other choices, there are Free Range Turkeys for sale in Vancouver, just enter those words in a search engine and you'll be eatin real turkey a few days after the solstice.

Of course, the free range turkeys probably costs twice as much, maybe 3 times. Guess a person could serve/eat smaller portions or, the words capitalists don't want spoken, buy less needless crap of other types during your Yule. Think about it, isn't real healthy food for your family more important than useless dumb presents. Grow it, raise it, pay thanks to it if you can, but if you must buy a turkey barter your hard earned money with the people worked hard to do it for you. That's real economics, that's real life.


This Past Weekend's Sales Numbers Show is That Aggragate Demand for Needless Crap is Falling

The stats are in from this past 4 day weekend's sales. Including Black Friday, they're down 11.2% or $6.5 billion from last year. "First it was Shoppertrak, then it was the National Retail Federation, then it was IBM, and now, with its own set of internal data, here is Bank of America slamming the door shut on US retail spending as a source of Q4 growth, and proving once and for all that the extended Thanksgiving-weekend, and the start to US holiday spending season, was the biggest dud since Lehman." - 0 Hedge

Each of those early reporters 'hedged' their stats with high hopes for Cyber Monday to be the difference maker. It wasn't, sales online Monday were up between 8% and 16% depending on who you ask. But Cyber Monday, though growing, is a much smaller affair than the bricks and mortar businesses and every pundit spinning that 'impossible dream' knows it full well. Online sales were $2-$3 billion on Monday, a healthy increase over last year, but in aggragate over the 4 days folks, both online and in-line, spent !0.2% less than last year. None of the numbers considers that the population is growing so per-capita numbers are even lower. The moaning you hear comes from your local chapter of the Bankers and Billionaires Club.

All these numbers really show is that aggragate demand for needless crap is falling. How many big screen TVs does anyone need? How much bling? These numbers are about over-consumption, about wants not needs. The demand for needless crap consumers want is inverse to their economic fears just as it is to GHG production. The demand for needs stays fairly flat regardless of the spin or the moaning.

The demand for needless crap will level off too over time. The 'aggragate' number of folks who've realized that bread and beans trump bankers and billionaires will by that point have changed the capitalist world.  "In short", as Ron Paul says. "deflation is at least potentially a great liberating force. It not only brings the inflated monetary system back to rock bottom, it brings the entire society back in touch with the real world, because it destroys the economic basis of the social engineers, spin doctors, and brain washers."

Deflation can be a liberating force economically, but even more powerfully, the coming era mild deflation will be a liberating force for the spirits of those who have long searched for a non-violent avenue to meaningful change to our economy, to our environmental destruction and most importantly, to the rogue primate's worldview.


Black Swans Gliding In Complex Economic Systems Mean The Precautionary Principle Must Rule

A black swan, says Nicholas Nassim Taleb who popularized the term, is a hard-to-predict event with a large impact.

Economists, oil analysts and other various experts circling the 'don't worry be happy' drain agree that the primary explanation for the free-fall in oil is rising production has created a temporary oversupply of oil: the world is awash in crude oil because producers have jacked up production so much. Given that even implying the official spin -  the global economy is not recessionary - is bullshit, puts an expert immediately into the firing squad lineup, it is not surprising that the free-fall in oil surprised the official class of analysts and pundits.

"Since declaring the global economy is in recession is sacrilege, it was impossible for conventional analysts/pundits to foresee a 37% drop in oil in a few months." says Charles Hugh Smith. Adding, "It is my contention that the recent free-fall in the price of oil qualifies as a financial Black Swan." Wikipedia lists three basic criteria based on Taleb's work:

1. The event is a surprise (to the observer).
2. The event has a major effect.
3. After the first recorded instance of the event, it is rationalized by hindsight, as if it could have been expected; that is, the relevant data were available but unaccounted for in risk mitigation programs.

Hughes' Black Swan has cousins in every highly complex system, they are the unknown unknows and they really like hangin out around the human built mental contraptions called modeling. Humans use modeling to make predictions about what they can't understand by simplifying the inputs. The thing is, no model – whether a wind-tunnel model for designing aircraft, an economic model, a weather model or a climate model for projecting global warming – will ever reproduce the real-world complexity of the system being modeled.

Given that according to the EIA, the average global crude oil production (including OPEC and all non-OPEC) per year is as follows:

2008: 74.0 million barrels per day (MBD)
2009: 72.7 MBD
2010: 74.4 MBD
2011: 74.5 MBD
2012: 75.9 MBD
2013: 76.0 MBD
2014: 76.9 MBD

So #3 applies eh.  The relevant data were available. The blinders uniformly worn by the economic 'experts' [in this case] were self-applied. Modeling science looks backward to predict the future. Imagine trying to drive your beater forward by looking in the rear view mirror. It works OK as long as the road is straight, but as soon as it curves you're in the ditch. In this case, curves would be a tipping point. The driver, having believed that driving by mirror was a good idea, then sees his current position in the ditch as an unpredicable Black Swan Event when in reality highway curves are very predictable when not acting on false beliefs.

Unfortunately, the real world has a lotta curves and ditches. No matter what convolution of tactics we employ at mitagation, the real world is unpredictable beyond generalities. So, IMO, given the enormous consequences of a failure to avoid the economic ditch [and its cousin the global warming ditch] the greatest failure of our 'experts' is that they refuse to apply The Precautionary Principle.

The plummeting prices at the pump are the most visible part of a tipping point in the global demand curve for needless crap. It certainly has already started knocking over dominoes here in Canada where the governments live on the income from resource royalties. The fear up here being stirred is that say so jobs will be lost by folks who work for companies that supply the oil and gas industries is just camouflage to distract the gullible from the fact that every part of every oil and gas play is financed by the banks, those companies won't hang on in the hopes of a brighter tomorrow, they can read the headlines about the deflation phantom, they'll walk on the debt, the banks will own a buncha rusting useless equipment and the banks shareholders - the rich - will not be amused.

It's a predictable outcome, driven only by short term quarterly profits corporate capitalism is running itself over a cliff. Understanding this predicament whereby our expert system's inability to predict the behavior of complex systems because their least likely outcomes are sometimes the most catastrophic allows us to take our own precautions. Great changes happen at tipping points. For some that means maybe being a prepper, for some that means crashing the credit cards on sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. The key IMO is to respond, not react to the life's possibilities and remembering that 'experts' are often as imprisoned by their beliefs as anyone else.