Does America Have Allies? | The Formic War on Earth | Monopoly Is A Scary Real Life Game


“It is better to beg forgiveness, than ask permission.”

“Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down.”

– Grace Murray Hopper


The Race To Take Advantage Of A Planet We’ve Taken Advantage Of:Hauntingly beautiful graphics accompany an in depth look at how climate change is changing the way people live and work in the Arctic. With melting ice and improving technology comes competition to access heretofore undeveloped resources, like the natural gas fields on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula. Traditional ways of life in remote locations, like Point Hope, Alaska and the Svalbard archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, are at risk as they become more accessible to commercial ventures. Ancient livelihoods like hunting and fishing are now imperiled by the instability of sea ice. New opportunities abound, of course, but they come at a cost, not the least of which is the potential for conflict between countries jockeying for position in the region.

Even the mayor of Unalaska, a fishing village in the Aleutian islands off mainland Alaska, was surprised last August when US Army helicopters began flying in and out of the scraggly wilderness nearby, and soldiers would appear at the town’s main hotel, or at the bar called the Norwegian Rat Saloon. US military presence has been gradually growing in the Arctic; the strategy includes stationing more fighter jets in Alaska, expanding partnerships with Nordic militaries, increasing cold-weather training, and designing a new class of icebreaker ship for the Coast Guard, one that could be armed. It isn’t just to grapple with the effects of melting polar ice, but to prepare for Russia’s and China’s increasing assertiveness in the region—both countries have moved to tap the Arctic’s vast resources of fossil fuels, diamonds and metals. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis set the tone on a visit to Alaska last June. “Certainly America has got to up its game in the Arctic. There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “The reality is that we’re going to have to deal with the developing Arctic, and it is developing.”


Germany Is Tired Of Trump: A joint survey conducted by US-based Pew Research Center and Germany’s Korber Foundation was presented at a foreign policy forum Tuesday in Berlin. Results showed 70 percent Americans think the US relationship with Germany is doing well, while 25 percent thought it was not. However, nearly 75 percent of Germans think the relationship is bad. The findings reiterated what numerous other surveys have shown—that President Trump is spectacularly unpopular in Germany. Pew’s polsters said that Germans and Americans “are divided not only on the overall state of the relationship, but also on future levels of cooperation, the importance they ascribe to each other on foreign policy and the efficacy of retaliatory tariffs.” (WaPo)

Additional read: “U.S.-Turkish relations remain fraught despite recent warming: The United States’ often-fraught relations with NATO ally Turkey, which have enjoyed a relative upswing in the wake of American cleric Andrew Brunson’s release from a Turkish prison last month, face another possible nose-dive in the near future.” (WaPo)

May The Ripper (Of Deals): In order to get all remaining EU nations to endorse the UK Withdrawal Agreement at Sunday’s summit in Brussels, Prime Minister Theresa May conceded to Spain’s demand that Gibraltar will not necessarily be covered by a future trade deal. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had demanded written assurance from Downing Street that Spain would have a crucial say in Gibraltar’s future as the price for his support for the agreement. Now Brexiters are accusing May of betraying the disputed British overseas territory “under cover of darkness.”(Guardian)

Emperor Zuckerberg Is Two Thumbs Down On Party Invite: British lawmakers are investigating Facebook after consultancy Cambridge Analytica obtained the personal data of 87 million Facebook users from a researcher during the 2016 US election. British and European regulators are looking the social media giant’s practices, the role of political advertising, and possible foreign interference in the 2016 Brexit vote and the US election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was criticized after he failed to attend a meeting on fake news held Tuesday by Parliament’s Digital, Culture Media and Sport committee in London. (Reuters)

– “Ukraine Parliament Approves Martial Law After Naval Skirmish With Russia: After five hours of debate on Monday, parliament voted to support the motion proposed by President Petro Poroshenko to impose martial law for 30 days.” (NPR)


Bye Bye Buggy: Joni Mitchell tried to tell us in 1969: “Hey farmer farmer Put away that DDT now, Give me spots on my apples But leave me the birds and the bees Please–Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got Till it’s gone; They paved paradise And put up a parking lot.” Fast forward 50 years; now we live on a planet in which the loss of biodiversity is so great it is popularly known as the sixth extinction—the sixth time in world history that a large number of species have disappeared in unusually rapid succession, not caused by asteroids or ice ages, but by humans. When we think of endangered species it’s usually larger animals, on land and in the sea. But the world is also losing plant and insect species; if climate change and the overall destruction of global habitat is bad news for biodiversity in general, insects must also deal with herbicides and pesticides. Unless you stop to remember how many butterflies and fireflies there were when you were a kid, you don’t really notice how fewer there are of them today. A professor of biodiversity and conservation paraphrased Joni Mitchell’s chorus this way: “Humans seem innately better able to detect the complete loss of an environmental feature than its progressive change.”

Perhaps due to Europe’s time-honored tradition of amateur naturalism, most of what is known about insect decline comes from there; entomologists definitely know that what they once had is now gone, because they’ve been studying it. In 2017, the obscure, volunteer-run Entomological Society Krefeld, tucked away in western Germany near the Dutch border, published its study showing that, measured by weight, the overall abundance of flying insects in German nature reserves had decreased by 75 percent over just 27 years. Newspapers called the phenomenon “Insect Armageddon.” When talking about biodiversity, insects don’t first come to mind. But they are “the little things that run the natural world.” By eating and being eaten, insects turn plants into protein and power the growth of all the uncountable species–including freshwater fish and a majority of birds that rely on them for food. Said simply: without insects, the whole food chain suffers— crops don’t get pollinated, birds starve to death, and so on up the chain. [Pnut publisher: I’m terribly worried that my 8 and 6 year old kids will be inheriting a decimated Earth.]

Additional read: “World must triple efforts or face catastrophic climate change, says UN:     Rapid emissions turnaround needed to keep global warming at less than 2C, report     suggests.” (Guardian)


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Haspel Denied Briefing: In October CIA director Gina Haspel traveled to Istanbul, Turkey to learn what evidence Turkish officials had on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the death of Saudi journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi. Haspel listened to audio tapes of the murder that were provided by Turkish intelligence; she then briefed President Trump. Last week the CIA announced it had concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Trump has repeatedly asserted that the CIA report is inconclusive and has refused to listen to the tapes. Now the White House has refused to allow Haspel, or any intelligence officer, to brief the Senate on Khashoggi’s murder. Instead, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will appear behind closed doors Wednesday to brief the Senate on US relations with Saudi Arabia. (Guardian)

– “John Roberts counterpunches the counterpunching president: President Trump does not need, and should not pursue, a war of words with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.” (WaPo)

– “What the Cult of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Got Wrong: Fans defended her choice not to retire under President Obama. Now it may be too late.” (Mother Jones)


Monopoly, A Scary Real Life Game: Most Americans are focused on immediate financial & economic issues like health care, Medicare, and Social Security but a major problem we’ve been flagging at Daily Pnut for quite sometime is how many of America’s companies today are monopolies (or techopolies) or oligopolies. This is a major problem because monopolies and antitrust law serve like the plumbing to how capitalism works. If Americans are sick of capitalism it’s because today we live in Monopoly capitalism. Over the past 30 years, Monopolies & oligopolies have gained incredible power and wreaked havoc on the lives of everyday Americans: stifling innovation, limiting consumer choices, raising the costs on everyday goods, increasing the division between the haves and the have-nots, and suppressing wages.

Here’s “America’s monopoly problem, in one chart.” And “The Monopolization of America: In one industry after another, big companies have become more dominant over the past 15 years, new data show.” Increasingly many others are awakening to the concentration of wealth in these companies: “American Corporations Are Winning Their War on Capitalism: When tech giants stamp out startups, they smother productivity.” And “Be Afraid of Economic ‘Bigness.’ Be Very Afraid.: In the 1930s it contributed to the rise of fascism. Alarmingly, we are experimenting again with a monopolized economy.”

And it’s not just everyday Americans who are increasingly skeptical of these monopoly businesses. Even employees at these companies are hating on their employers: “Facebook is failing its black employees and its black users” And “We are Google employees. Google must drop Dragonfly.

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