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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- James Meek observes that decades of privatization in the UK have eliminated public control over housing and other essential services – and that privatization takes far more forms than we’re accustomed to taking into consideration. And Rick Salutin offers his take on the latter point: Economist Mariana Mazzucato’s new book, The Entrepreneurial State, takes a bold step in “debunking” this fake construct. (Steve Paikin interviewed her on TVO this week.) She doesn’t just argue that public spending (on defence) was crucial in basic advances like computers and the Internet. That’s (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: It’s Called "Virtual Water"

Water-stressed Israel realized this year ago when it recognized that its exports of Jaffa oranges were really exporting “virtual water.”  It took scarce water to grow the orange and when it left the country for overseas markets it was full of water.

Fast forward to 2014 and drought-stricken California.  The BBC reports that California farmers are using billions of gallons of incredibly scarce water to grow alfalfa hay destined for China.

The southern Imperial Valley, which borders Mexico, draws its water from the Colorado River along the blue liquid lifeline of the All American Canal.It brings the desert (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Could America Break Its Own Bank on a Russian Anvil?

The sanctions being plastered on Russia by the US and her allies are already having a rebound effect, especially in Europe.  Russia is not only the major supplier of the natural gas the Europeans will need to get through this winter, it’s also a key market for their exports.  In these matters the EU and US are in different boats.  Another key difference is that American sanctions are more heavily weighted on depriving Russia of access to credit – loans.

Here’s the rub.  International finance is generally conducted in US dollars, the global reserve currency.  Throughout the post-WWII era that’s (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: India – Superbug Time Bomb

India is the worst but it’s not alone.  All of the emerging economic superpowers share the same problem – the abuse of antibiotics.

For India, it’s the result of a population coming into new wealth that still has just one doctor for every 1,700 people.  You get sick, you get pills, off you go.  Too often those pills are antibiotic.

Together with India, Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa account for 76% of the global increase in antibiotic use.

If the warnings we get from our medical establishment are accurate, these countries and their societies could be heading for real (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Happiness & Fulfillment

There are ten methods for meditating on the world, begins one scroll in the 1,300-year-old collection of Tang-dynasty sutras from Xian, China, that can lead us to happiness and fulfillment. I realize that sounds like the opening of a New Age piffle book, but the sutras were actually discovered in a cave near a Buddhist […]

The Disaffected Lib: The Tibetan Plateau – Asia’s Armageddon?

To Asia’s three nuclear powers, the Tibetan plateau represents life or death. China, India and Pakistan are all dependent on the headwaters of rivers that are fed by the glaciers in Tibet.  The geo-political enormity of these rivers drove China to invade and occupy Tibet in 1950.

What happens in the Himalayas powerfully impacts the security of these three Asian powers.  That’s why a new study on the state of the plateau is particularly worrisome.

The report from the Chinese Academy of Sciences concludes that the Tibetan plateau has experienced double the average level of global warming and that the (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: When Confidence Fails

Few who lived through the Cold War with its constant threat of nuclear annihilation realize the role confidence played in preventing an outbreak of apocalyptic hostilities.  Even at times when we thought the “other side” might be nearing the point of pre-emptive attack, we had a sufficient degree of confidence that they would do no such thing.  The Red Telephone that connected the White House to the Kremlin was specifically intended as an instrument for maintaining confidence.

The Cuban missile crisis demonstrated the leadership needed to maintain confidence – and peace – in stressful circumstances.  Kennedy was being pulled by (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: China Moves to Nationalize Christianity

Yeah, I know, it sounds wacky but it’s true.  China wants to nationalize as in “Sinicize” the Christian religion as it’s practiced in the Peoples Republic.

“The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China’s national condition and integrate with Chinese culture,” Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said at a Shanghai forum on the “Sinicization of Christianity,” according to Chinese state media. …the officials’ comments last week indicate that the Chinese Communist Party intends to further tighten its grip over Christianity. There are a number of possible targets and motivations for the crackdown. (Read more…)

Things Are Good: China’s Changing Waste Management

China’s rate of economic development has caused massive change in the country and that includes the impact on waste management. Waste from consumer goods, industry, and other “good” things for the economy causes huge problems around the world. China is now at a turning point that can see interesting solutions to problems the developed world has had an easier time dealing with.

The sheer amount of pollution in China is causing people in the city to protest government policies. Environmental consciousness is growing in China.

Chinese waste management stands at a watershed moment. Rising environmental consciousness among the educated, urban (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: From My Quotes Cupboard: China’s leaders could have ruled the waves, but blew it

Decisions made can impact centuries, as China found out when its leaders made a shortsighted decision in the early 1400’s:

In Nanjing today you can see a full-size replica of the treasure ship of Admiral Zhen He, the most famous sailor in Chinese history. It is 400 feet long – nearly five times the size of the Santa Maria, in which Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492. And this was only part of the fleet of more than 300 huge ocean-going junks…. With combined crew of 28,000, Zheng He’s navy was bigger than anything seen in the West (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: From My Quotes Cupboard: China’s leaders could have ruled the waves, but blew it

Things Are Good: Remembering Tiananmen Square

25 years ago in Tiananmen Square there was a protest against the Chinese government. The protest was dealt with lethal force by the government – killing many people. Since then, the Chinese government has blocked any discussion about the protest and has greatly censored information on it. Obviously all of this isn’t good news.

To curtail the efforts of propaganda artists and censors in China there are groups that are trying to ensure that we don’t forget about the protest. This is good because if we forget our collective history we deny ourselves a richer, more knowledgable, existence. If we (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Good news: China’s Fracking to reduce its use of Coal

Early China coal mine

When it comes to global warming, coal is the biggest culprit in the warming of the earth.

China is taking giant strides to reduce its need for coal to generate energy by exploiting its vast shale gas reserves: Although serious obstacles remain, China is finally making progress on tapping its vast shale gas reserves, which hold the promise of a new source of clean energy for the coal smoke-choked country.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, China holds the world’s largest reserves of technically recoverable shale gas in the world, 1,115 trillion cubic feet. (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Good news: China’s Fracking to reduce its use of Coal

Politics, Re-Spun: “Those Mainlanders” and other racist ways to start a sentence

I was at a restaurant with friends a few weeks ago. The conversation was kind of slow, so I mentioned my plans for travelling to Hong Kong next year and asked for advice on which attractions to visit.

One of the members of the group took this as an opportunity to talk about all the annoying “Mainlanders” – a term referring to people from Mainland China – I should be wary of during my visit.

“Mainlanders go to Hong Kong to show off their money. They’ll go into an LV boutique and say to the sales assistants, ‘I’ll take all the bags in the store except these (Read more…)

The Misanthropic Bird: Mad As Hell

I got up this morning to a fog rolling into the city. It’s not from rain, or from temperature change or any other natural reason for a hazy day. It’s because I live in Beijing, and the pollution levels are on the rise today. Jumping a few dozen points between 8:00 and 9:00am. The AQI is 249 at the time of writing this.

I made tea, and watched the latest episode of VICE, which only further disgruntled me with its expose on the scrapers working legally and illegally in America’s industrial towns, taking apart once booming factories to sell the (Read more…)

The Wandering Joe: Crimea and Misdemeanours

Bad puns aside, the recent intrigue in Crimea has been responsible for more nonsensical political blustering than any single international incident in the past decade. It has been a curious exercise to sit back and watch everyone work themselves up and deliver half-baked analyses based on laughably outdated assumptions. Please note that all of my assumptions are fully baked.

Lest I sound arrogant, I’m not going to excoriate everyone who has commented on the new ‘Cold War’, nor should I. But I am going to address those people who are attempting to understand this as a Russia vs. the West (Read more…)

The Misanthropic Bird: The Republic of Capitalism: A Chinese ‘Every Man’ talks Morals and Money

Now a growing player in the global market and a curious destination to many, China’s capitalist whitewash has been holding our attention. But how has China’s economic growth affected the working class? Mr. Lee* shares his experiences growing up in China, its newfound wealth and the dichotomy of morals and money.

***

It’s a quarter past two in the afternoon when I text Mr. Lee who is uncharacteristically late for our meeting. He’s coming to my Beijing apartment, as he felt it safer than a public space; someone could be listening. He’s confused by the elevator, and wants me to (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: WWCD? What Would China Do?

We’ve been getting this manicured image of Russia, isolated, standing alone against the world over its occupation of eastern Ukraine and, especially, Crimea.   Then again, we do tend to see ourselves, the West, as the world.

Vlad Putin sees the world differently.  He sees China and he’s looking for China’s support over the Ukraine business to offset Western opprobrium.  The situation in Ukraine was discussed Monday at consultations in Moscow between Chinese deputy Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping and his Russian counterpart, Grigory Karasin.“The Chinese side expressed understanding of Russia’s analysis of reasons behind the deep political crisis in (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: If the U.S. Was in Russia’s Position, How Would It React to Russian Meddling in Canada or Mexico that Threatened America’s Security?

The Ukraine sits right on Russia’s doorstep.  It is the land route to Russia’s Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol by which the Russian navy can access the Mediterranean.  Severing Russia’s naval access to the Med is thought to be why the U.S. has been meddling in Ukrainian affairs, funding the pro-western group that topped the country’s pro-Russian president, leaving the country bloodied, badly divided and at risk of separation or worse. 

Quite predictably we’re awfully quick to turn all sanctimonious in our admonitions to Putin in Moscow.   How would we react if the shoe (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: If Plants Can’t Grow, What Fate Awaits a Hungry People?

Smog in China has become so severe that it’s interfering with photosynthesis.

Chinese scientists report that China’s smog-clogged atmosphere has taken on aspects of “nuclear winter” and could wreak havoc on the country’s already stressed food supply.

Beijing and broad swaths of six northern provinces have spent the past week blanketed in a dense pea-soup smog that is not expected to abate until Thursday. Beijing’s concentration of PM 2.5 particles – those small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream – hit 505 micrograms per cubic metre on Tuesday night. The World Health Organisation recommends (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: A Must Read – Why America Is Not in Decline, Except at Home.

America hasn’t really declined.  America simply went global and, in the process, turned its back on working-class Americans, blue and white collar.  A globalized America is an America of the 1%.  The rest who still believe are suckers.

That’s the premise of a fine essay in Politico by Sean Starrs, a PhD student at York University.

The author argues that Americans see decline when they’re in fact witnessing the impacts engineered into globalism.  America, or at least one segment of it, is actually doing very well indeed.  He contends we’re getting deceived by now obsolete metrics.

(Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: BC’s Big Favour? LNG Exports and GHG Emissions

The hype on LNG has grown to staggering proportions. I have not had much time to debunk all of the government’s grotesque exaggerations and outright falsehoods. But Christy Clark’s claim that BC is “doing the world a favour” by exporting LNG to Asia made me write this oped, which got picked up in today’s Vancouver Sun:

Is LNG B.C.’s big favour? It’s unlikely exports will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions

Is British Columbia “doing the world a favour,” as Premier Christy Clark put it, by developing a liquefied natural gas export industry? Or is this just wishful thinking (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: What’s With Pipeline-Loving Old Men?

High 5′s to people are aren’t old men! [on average, 19 times out of 20, +/- 3.6% of the time.]

My apologies if you’re a man, or over 55, but those two demographics love the Big Oil, and they’re giving you all a bad name!

Here’s why.

I know lots of men and people over 55 who know that moving to a post-carbon energy infrastructure is the only sustainable future. The problem is convincing their peers that getting rid of their Lexus [it used to be Hummer] is in everyone’s best interest.

Maybe it’s because some of those (Read more…)

Things Are Good: China’s Wind Turbine Industry Booming

For years China has been trying to improve its sustainable energy production but to do so Chinese companies had to rely on patents and techniques from the rest of the world. Due to an increase in demand (and production knowledge) China is now poised to make the best, most efficient, and easiest to maintain wind turbines.

Already, the amount of wind energy outputted in China puts the rest of the planet to shame.

However, since China’s total generation is more than that of all European Union countries combined, wind’s percentage is large in absolute terms.

Liming Qiao, China director of (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: F-35: Lies from Lying Liars #cdnpoli

The F-35 was going to be a plane made with Chinese parts, despite US law forbidding that.

mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBR… this just adds to the ridiculousness. Russia probably has deal w china to remotely disable these.— jeff cliff (@jeffcliff1) January 04, 2014

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Redford Tories big international travellers in January 2014

TweetAlberta’s Progressive Conservative MLAs are kicking off another year of international travel as Premier Alison Redford, cabinet ministers and backbenchers check their luggage and rack up the air mile points with flights touching down at all points across the globe. Departing on January 9, Ms. Redford will circle the globe on a sixteen day trip […]