Towards the 3rd World War

Generational
Dynamics

Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny

http://www.generationaldynamics.com/cgi-bin/D.PL?s=tqEozv&d=ww2010.home

State of the World

Conflict risk level for next 6-12 months as of: 12-Feb-2011
W. Europe 1 Arab Israeli 3
Russia Caucasus 2 Kashmir 2
China 2 North Korea 3
Financial 3 Swine/Bird flu 2
Key: 1=green 1=Low risk 2=yellow 2=Med 3=red 3=High
Web Log

Web Log: Informal comments on current news and trends.


22-Jun-11 News — Greece’s Papandreou wins anti-climactic vote of confidence: Greece’s bankruptcy threatens Greece and Europe… (22-Jun-2011)


22-Jun-11 World View — Support for Afghan war collapses: New flotilla aims to break Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza… (22-Jun-2011)


21-Jun-11 News — Palestinian unity announcement canceled over Hamas-Fatah split: PA president Abbas says that, given options, he won’t go to UN… (21-Jun-2011)


21-Jun-11 World View — U.S. and Pakistan close to total divorce: Tension on Syria / Turkey border continues to grow… (21-Jun-2011)


20-Jun-11 News — Turkey and Syria move closer to military clash: Turkey considers sending troops into Syria… (20-Jun-2011)


20-Jun-11 World View — Eurogroup unexpectedly fails to approve Greece bailout: Nato admits it probably killed civilians in Tripoli, Libya… (20-Jun-2011)


19-Jun-11 News — Violence by ethnic Kachins threatens Burma/China relationship: It’s too early for a new crisis civil war in Burma… (19-Jun-2011)


19-Jun-11 World View — Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on a charm offensive: Union members march through Athens and protest austerity measures… (19-Jun-2011)


18-Jun-11 News — Europeans devise a ‘voluntary’ bailout of Greece: Greece’s Papandreou faces a vote of confidence… (18-Jun-2011)


18-Jun-11 World View — Taiwan sides with U.S. against China in Sea: Israeli navy practices boarding ships in readiness for Gaza flotilla… (18-Jun-2011)


17-Jun-11 News — Rise of Gulf Cooperation Council raises concerns in Mideast: The GCC versus the Arab League… (17-Jun-2011)


17-Jun-11 World View — Short-term bailout of Greece is now expected: Turkey debating invasion of Syria, with support from U.S…. (17-Jun-2011)


16-Jun-11 News — Greece’s government nears collapse as euro crisis spreads through Europe: Interest rates on Greece’s 2-year bonds exceed 28%… (16-Jun-2011)


16-Jun-11 World View — Thailand heads for a major election crisis: Senator Graham: Relations with Pakistan near breaking point… (16-Jun-2011)


15-Jun-11 News — Syria pursues scorched earth policy, amid rumors of U.S. military intervention: US naval movements lead to rumors of intervention… (15-Jun-2011)


15-Jun-11 World View — Moody’s puts France’s banks on review over Greece: Anti-government protesters flood Yemen’s cities… (15-Jun-2011)


14-Jun-11 News — Revisiting the ‘Principle of Maximum Ruin’: Economics of the Maginot Line… (14-Jun-2011)


14-Jun-11 World View — Vietnam escalates South China Sea dispute with China: Va. Senator Jim Webb urges U.S. action in South China Sea dispute… (14-Jun-2011)


13-Jun-11 News — Bahrain’s Grand Prix race postponed, despite thousands rallying: Morals versus commercial interests… (13-Jun-2011)


13-Jun-11 World View — Pro-Assad crowd attacks Turkey’s embassy in Damascus: Recep Erdogan wins by a landslide in Turkey… (13-Jun-2011)


12-Jun-11 News — U.N. move to recognize Palestinian state may be in doubt: Everyone’s greatest fear is an uprising on the West Bank… (12-Jun-2011)


12-Jun-11 World View — Military assault on north Syrian town begins: China threatens Vietnam with ‘firmer actions’… (12-Jun-2011)


11-Jun-11 News — Defense Sec’y Robert Gates repudiates the Truman Doctrine: The Obama Doctrine… (11-Jun-2011)


11-Jun-11 World View — Turkey may send troops into Syria: Bitter EU disputes escalate over Greece bailout… (11-Jun-2011)


10-Jun-11 News — Vietnam protests Chinese attack on Vietnamese survey ships: China accuses Vietnam of escalating sea tensions… (10-Jun-2011)

Watching the pot come to a boil

Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny
http://www.generationaldynamics.com/cgi-bin/D.PL?d=ww2010.weblog&i=e110604b#e110604b
China’s economy slowing, with possible worldwide consequences
It’s beginning to look like 2008 all over again

China’s economy slowing, with possible worldwide consequences

I’ve often written that as bad as America’s economy is, China’s economy is in much more trouble. And now, after a week of extremely bad economic news in U.S. housing, manufacturing, and unemployment, it appears that China’s economy is also showing signs of heading downward, with major consequences for the rest of the world.


Bird's Nest - Beijing Olympics stadium (Xinhua)
Bird’s Nest – Beijing Olympics stadium (Xinhua)

International commodities markets are “starting to look a lot like 2008,” according to Standard & Poors analyst Scott Sprinzen, quoted by Bloomberg.

Recall that China’s overheated economy was sucking up commodities early in 2008. But as the Beijing Olympics games approached in August, China’s economy sank and China’s commodities purchases fell. By the end of the year, trade and transportation had collapsed around the world, and the Baltic Dry Index (a measure of commodities shipping) had fallen an incredibly 95%. As I described it at the time, it was like the science fiction movie, “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” except that it wasn’t science fiction. (See “World wide transportation and trade sink farther into deep freeze.”)

A slowdown in China’s economy would have a similar effect today. Commodities prices could esily fall 25-40%, and might fall as much as 75%, according to Sprinzen.

And a slowdown IS occurring. Two surveys released Wednesday reveal that Chinese manufacturers expanded in May at their slowest pace in nine months, according to the Globe&Mail.

CBS Business News blogger Constantine von Hoffman has provided a list of some of the signs that China’s economy is melting down:

    • We’ve reported on a major drought in China’s heartlands, and it’s taking its toll. Vegetable and rice prices have risen 16-20% in the last month, and prices of crab, shrimp and river fish have also surged up in the past week. As in the U.S., high food prices leave less money for consumers to spend on manufactured goods. MarketWatch
    • The worst power shortage in seven years has caused China to raise electricity prices by about 3%, in an attempt to reduce demand. The drought is one cause of the shortage, while another cause is high costs of coal. Coal-fired power plans generate 80% of China’s electricity. Reuters
    • China’s housing bubble is much worse than America’s ever was, with many ghost cities, and enough commercial real estate to give every man, woman and child in the 1.4 billion population country a 5×5 cubicle, all funded by massive bubble price rises. (See “5-Feb-10 News – China’s nationalism and real estate bubble grow.”) Now real estate prices are falling, and land prices have fallen 20-50% this year alone. This indicates the housing bubble is finally collapsing, with potentially devastating consequences. Market Watch
    • As in the U.S., local and regional governments are heavily in debt, and threatened with bankruptcy. China’s regulators plan to pay off some $400 billion in local government debt, forcing the state-run banks to take some of the losses. Reuters
  • For every yuan that China’s banks have loaned, there are many times more yuan loaned by informal or underground banks, totalling trillions of yuan. This has created a huge credit bubble similar to the credit bubble created by mortgage-backed CDOs a few years ago, and it makes the real estate bubble many times more lethal than it is anyway. FT Blog

America and China, two great civilizations that are almost completely foreign to one another, are now locked together, arm in arm, in a death spiral downward that will leave both countries, and all of their neighbors, completely devastated.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jun-11 News — China’s economy slowing, with possible worldwide consequences thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jun-2011) Permanent Link

4-Jun-11 World View — Yemen’s President Saleh wounded
European officials announce hopes for new bailout for GreeceThis morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

Yemen’s president Saleh wounded in mortar attack


TV screen during Saleh's radio address (Al-Jazeera)
TV screen during Saleh’s radio address (Al-Jazeera)

As the civil war in Yemen spreads, forces of president Ali Abdullah Saleh are having armed clashes with tribal forces loyal to Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar. Around noon, mortar shells hit a mosque in the presidential palace compound where Saleh was praying. At least three guards and several other officials were wounded. Saleh was supposed to give a televised address after the incident, but it kept getting postponed, giving rise to speculation that he’d been killed. Finally, in the evening, he gave a radio address to prove that he was still alive. It’s assumed that al-Ahmar is responsible for the mortar attack, but his office is denying it. The attack came shortly after Saleh’s forces bombed al-Ahmar’s home. Al-Jazeera

Syria intensifies attacks on anti-Assad protesters

In probably the worst day of violence in Syria since the anti-government protests began 11 weeks ago, the security forces of president Bashir al-Assad fired live ammunition at tens of thousands of demonstrators who had gathered in Hama, killing 34 people and wounding dozens. Hama is the city where Bashar’s father, Hafez al-Assad, crushed an armed Islamist revolt by killing up to 30,000 people and razing parts of the city to the ground. Reuters

European officials announce hopes for new bailout for Greece

The headline on the story reads, “Greece likely to get aid tranche,” but when you read the actual story, you realize that this is far from true. After a meeting between Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, Juncker said that he expects the next tranche to be provided “under strict conditionality,” meaning that private sector investors will have to be included on a “voluntary” basis. It’s thought that this means that private holders of Greek debt would “volunteer” to some kind of debt rollover, in which the investors would purchase new Greek bonds when the existing ones mature. It’s hoped that this “voluntary” plan will not be a technical default, since that would trigger all sorts of problems. However, this solution is being hotly debated, and agreement among the member states is far from certain. Reuters

Boehner replaces Kucinich’s antiwar resolution

Republican House Speaker John Boehner has been scrambling to prevent passage of a resolution, sponsored by Democrat Rep. Dennis Kucinich, to force President Obama to withdraw all US forces from the “humanitarian” mission in Libya. Kucinich’s resolution had supporters in both parties. Boehner got it defeated by replacing it with his own non-binding resolution that merely requires the Obama administration to come back to Congress within 14 days with a strategy for the Libya mission. CS Monitor

Sunday’s Palestinian march to Lebanon-Israel border canceled

Palestinian activists had planned a march Lebanon’s refugees to the border with Israel on Sunday, to mark the anniversary of the 1967 six-day war. The march was canceled because Lebanese authorities declared the shared border a “closed military zone.” Instead, activisits plan strikes across all 12 of Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps. AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jun-11 News — China’s economy slowing, with possible worldwide consequences thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jun-2011) Permanent Link

3-Jun-11 News — Manhattan prosecutor subpoenas Goldman Sachs’ records (Updated 11 am ET)
Greece to unveil new austerity measures

Manhattan prosecutor subpoenas Goldman Sachs’ records

During the last decade, the norm for bankers in Europe and America has been fraud. The main vehicle was the creating and selling of mortgage-backed synthetic securities based on computer models that were provably fraudulent, paying off ratings agencies to give them AAA ratings, and selling them to investors, collecting fat fees.


Ferdinand Pecora, cover of Time Magazine, June 12, 1933
Ferdinand Pecora, cover of Time Magazine, June 12, 1933

In the giddy middle of the last decade, when there was plenty of money sloshing around thanks to the massive credit bubble, anything was OK. Everybody was screwing investors, but who cares? They could just borrow more money. Regulators and prosecutors didn’t care, since they were paying themselves fat salaries anyway.

But now that the credit bubble has burst, and there is less money in the world every day, it’s time to pay the piper, as the saying goes. People are still screwing one another, but now it’s a lot more vicious, as people scramble with one another to get hold of the remaining pools of money. Once again, it’s the bankers who are in the lead, charging 30% interest rates and using the money to pay themselves million dollar bonuses.

The desire for real vengeance is growing. This is a generational change. The Boomers and Gen-Xers who formerly trusted everyone now trust no one. The ones who were screwed now want to screw others. This is the first time that generational change of this type has occurred since the 1930s.

So, on Thursday, Manhattan (New York) District Attorney Cyrus Vance subpoenaed Goldman Sachs, demanding documents relating to the investment bank’s activities leading up to the financial crisis, according to the AP.

It’s not known whether the demands are for a civil or criminal action, but it’s assumed that the demand is related to civil charges of fraud brought by the SEC a year ago for doing the following:

    • An investor asked Goldman Sachs to put together a portfolio of subprime residential mortgage backed CDOs that the investor could purchase as an investment.
    • The investor asked Goldman Sachs to have a neutral third-party select the CDOs that were to go into the portfolio.
    • Goldman Sachs instead went to a manager (John Paulson) of a hedge fund that was in the business of shorting these CDOs, and who stood to benefit if the portfolio collapsed.
    • Paulson (according to the allegations) selected the weakest CDOs for the portfolio, because he wanted them to collapse so that he could make money.
    • Goldman Sachs told the investor that a neutral third party had selected the CDOs for the portfolio; Goldman Sachs did not tell the investor of Paulson’s involvement. (This is the specific fraud that was alleged. Paulson was not involved in this step, so Paulson was not charged.)
    • The particular Goldman Sachs executive who set up the deal was Fabrice Tourre. The SEC charged Tourre individually with fraud, along with Goldman Sachs.
  • When the CDOs collapsed, the investor lost a billion dollars, and Paulson made a billion dollars.

This deal was consummated in early 2007, just before the time that the global financial crisis began.

It’s now four years later. The U.S. Justice Department has refused to prosecute Goldman Sachs for this deal. You can guess why.

What’s interesting about this situation is that the Manhattan District Attorney is pursuing the case. He won’t be bound by the political considerations of the U.S. Justice Department.

There are three possible criminal charges that can be brought against Goldman Sachs, according to Fox Business News:

    • Securities fraud for not disclosing to clients that Goldman was shorting securities the firm was also touting.
    • Illegal market manipulation in an effort to artificially depress the prices of securities Goldman wanted to buy.
  • Obstruction charges against Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein for possibly lying to Congress during hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin in April 2010.

We’re now in a generational period similar to the 1930s. At that time, the Senate investigate bank fraud. But since the Republicans and Democrats could never have prosecuted anyone, they brought in a politically independent lawyer, Ferdinand Pecora, to question the bankers.

It was less than a month ago, that billionaire Raj Rajaratnam was convicted by a jury of insider trading. (See “12-May-11 News — Raj Rajaratnam conviction raises hopes of Pecora Commission revival.”)

Let us hope that we’re going to see an increasing number of these criminal charges and convictions. If history is going to repeat the 1930s financial crisis, then let’s hope history repeats the 1930s in a different way as well, by sending these bankers who committed fraud to jail.

Greece to unveil new austerity measures


Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker
Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker

One of the reasons that the Germans and other Europeans are furious with the Greeks is that the Greek government repeatedly lied and committed fraud in order to get into the eurozone, by selling fraudulent securities created by Goldman Sachs, and then hiding the transactions from the EU. Now Greece has to beg for bailout money. On Friday, Prime Minister George Papandreou is to present Greece’s midterm fiscal plan and its privatization program to the head of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker. It’s expected that the EU and IMF will bail Greece out again because Greece, like Goldman Sachs, is too big to fail. Kathimerini

Update: Economists baffled by Friday’s jobs reports


May Unemployment Report (WaPost)
May Unemployment Report (WaPost)

Economists were literally stammering in confusion on TV on Friday morning in reaction to the Labor Dept.’s devastatingly bad jobs report for May. This is MUCH, much worse than even pessimistic mainstream economists predicted, and it comes after a week of equally bad housing and manufacturing data. One anchor asked the economist why the economy was “hitting a brick wall,” and she had no idea.

As I’ve said many times, mainstream economists did not predict and can’t explain the tech bubble of the 1990s, the global real estate and credit bubbles of the 2000s, the financial crisis that began in 2007, or where we are today, and they don’t have the VAGUEST idea where we’ll be next year.

This is a generational issue. Economists are using macroeconomic models from the 1970s and 1980s, when the Great Depression generations were still in charge. You’d have to be a complete moron to use those models today, but that’s what mainstream economists do, and that’s why they’re wrong every time, and why they’re completely baffled every time. It’s really remarkable to watch this going on.

The only macroeconomic models that have any hope of being correct would have to be based on 1930s data, because that’s the generational era we’ve returned to. We are still headed for a full-scale worldwide stock market panic and crash, below Dow 3000. This could happen next week, next month, or next year, but it’s coming with certainty. And if the economy continues to “hit a brick wall,” then it may happen soon. Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jun-11 News — Manhattan prosecutor subpoenas Goldman Sachs’ records thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jun-2011) Permanent Link

3-Jun-11 World View — Palestinian ‘Right of Return’ dominant issue
Moody’s threatens to put U.S. government’s rating under reviewThis morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

Palestinian ‘Right of Return’ becomes a dominant issue in Mideast


Protesters breaking through border fence on May 15 (Reuters)
Protesters breaking through border fence on May 15 (Reuters)

Palestinians activists are planning a repeat of the May 15 action where thousands of unarmed Palestinian refugees and their descendants came into Israel across three borders, from Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. Three of the demonstrators were killed. (See “16-May-11 News — Israeli army fires on unarmed protesters crossing three borders.”) The new action is planned for Sunday, June 6, commemorating “Naksa,” the Arab loss in the 1967 six-day war. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were completely unprepared for the May 15 action, but they will be prepared for Sunday’s action. Jerusalem Post

Israel has warned Syria and Lebanon against permitting any Naksa-related protests near the Israeli border. The Lebanese Army has declared the area around Lebanon’s border with Israel a closed military zone, “to stop any escalation at the Lebanese border with Israel that could take place on Naksa Day.” Haaretz

Tensions continue to build between the Palestinian refugees and Israel. An article published by the Palestinian Authority refers to the Palestinian refugees as the new “Palestinian nuclear weapon.” This weapon, according to the article, was the brave young people loyal to their ancestral homeland who do not fear risking their lives to actualize their rights to a state, freedom, and independence – a weapon he described as more powerful than Israel’s entire arsenal. Memri

Jordan’s prime minister Ma’rouf Al-Bakhit declared that Jordan would not consent to the establishment of a Palestinian state that did not include a guarantee for the right of return. Memri

Hamas fumes as Egypt cuts Rafah crossings to 400 a day

Hamas cheered Egypt’s decision last week to permanently open the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. But now relations between Hamas and Egypt are strained again, as the Egyptians have decided to limit the number of Palestinian travelers to between 350 and 400 each day. Hamas also accused the Palestinian Authority of asking the Egyptians to impose the limits. Jerusalem Post

Moody’s threatens to put U.S. government’s rating under review

Depending on the results of the negotiations in Congress to raise the statutory debt limit, Moody’s Investors Service threatened to place the US government’s rating under review for possible downgrade. Reuters

E. coli outbreak linked to aggressive new strain

An E. coli outbreak is ravaging Europe and other parts of Europe. There have been thousands of infections, and a few deaths. The aggressive intestinal bacteria is a mutant form that scientists have never seen before. Spiegel

Big explosions rock Sanaa, as Yemen tribal clashes spread

Huge explosions are shaking Yemen’s capital Sanaa. Cannons and tanks are shelling positions of tribal fighters, especially those of Sadeq Al-Ahmer, the sheikh of Hashid. Yemen Post

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan survives no-confidence vote

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan made a deal with lawmakers in his own party, including a promise to resign as soon as the March 11 Fukushima nuclear disaster has been stabilized, and survived a vote of no confidence. Yomiuri

Italy celebrates the 150th anniversary of unity


Acrobatic squad flies past ancient Colosseum during June 2 anniversary of Italy's unification
Acrobatic squad flies past ancient Colosseum during June 2 anniversary of Italy’s unification

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is among politicians from 80 countries in Rome, celebrating 150 years of Italy as a united nation. AP

North Korea says it’s the 2nd happiest country on earth

According to North Korea’s “global happiness index,” North Korea is the second happiest country in the world. The happiest country in the world, according to the index, is China. Chosun

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jun-11 News — Manhattan prosecutor subpoenas Goldman Sachs’ records thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jun-2011) Permanent Link

2-Jun-11 News — Fighting continues in Libya, amid chaotic international politics
Defense Secretary Robert Gates disagreed with Obama on Libya

Fighting continues in Libya, amid chaotic international politics

The “siege of Misrata” that lasted for weeks appears to have ended, at least for now, after Gaddafi’s forces were forced to withdraw, according to AP.


Tripoli Street, Misrata, Libya, view from a snipers' nest (AP)
Tripoli Street, Misrata, Libya, view from a snipers’ nest (AP)

The epicenter of the siege had been Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata, Libya. It’s now safe to down the street, as shown in the above picture, but during the siege Gaddafi’s snipers killed civilians and bombed out buildings.

In the meantime, there’s still no discernible objective for the “humanitarian” mission. The fighting in Libya, that President Obama promised would over within “days, not weeks,” is far from over, after several months. The Nato “humanitarian” air war in Libya had been scheduled to expire on June 27.

But on Wednesday, Nato announced that it would extend the campaign for another three months, according to the Telegraph. According to a Nato official in Brussels:

“This decision sends a clear message to the Gaddafi regime. We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya. We will sustain our efforts to fulfil the United Nations mandate [to defend civilians from Gaddafi’s forces]. We will keep up the pressure to see it through.”

Is this for real? The only “clear message” that’s being sent is that there is no clear message. It’s just more of the same.

And the politicals game-playing in Washington is only going to increase. on Wednesday, GOP leaders in the House of Representatives postponed a floor vote on a resolution by left-wing Rep. Dennis Kucinich that “directs the president to remove the United States armed forces from Libya” within 15 days.

The vote was postponed because House Speaker John Boehner “is concerned that if this were to come to the floor now, it would pass,” according to an aide quoted by Politico, since there are enough Republicans and Democrats opposed to the Libya war.


Libya and Niger (BBC)
Libya and Niger (BBC)

The war effort in Libya has been a mess since it started. First the US was leading the way. Then the US was going to turn the whole thing over to Nato. I understand that some 25% of the no-fly zone air flights are still American forces.

And the political situation at the international level is just as chaotic. Jacob Zuma, the jocular president of South Africa, went to spend a couple of days with this friend, Muammar Gaddafi, with the objective of negotiating a truce. To the surprise of no one (except perhaps Zuma), Zuma’s proposes were thoroughly rejected by BOTH Gaddafi and the rebels, according to AP.

Russia has been doing all it can to add to the political chaos. As we’ve reported several times, Russia’s objective has actually been promote a stalemate in Libya, so that Nato’s forces are tied down, giving Russia’s forces free hand to take on other projects in Central Asia. The Russians are demanding that all actions taken by Nato be approved by the U.N. Security Council, where Russia has a veto, giving Russian an effective veto over all Nato operations. The Russians feel free to pursue military operations without bothering to get a Security Council resolution.

An editorial in Lebanon’s Daily Star begins as follows:

Show No Mercy “Despite numerous setbacks to his disgraced regime, Moammar Gadhafi continued Tuesday to display his trademark obliviousness toward reality, and with his people’s suffering unabated, it is time for the international community to take decisive action to get this criminal out of office – and Libya – as soon as possible.”

It’s pretty clear now that this is not going to happen.

There’s no clear objective on the part of Nato, but Gaddafi’s forces are following their own clear objective that they stated right at the beginning: They’re going to fight until the last bullet.

Car bomb explodes outside Benghazi hotel

A car bomb exploded outside an international hotel in Benghazi, Libya, destroying four cars, but causing only one injury. Tripoli Post

Libyan migrants flood into Niger


Truck carrying migrants fleeing Libya for Niger (BBC)
Truck carrying migrants fleeing Libya for Niger (BBC)

Niger’s city of Agadez has been transformed from a bustling trade hub in the middle of the Sahara desert into a refugee centre for the thousands of African migrants fleeing the violence in Libya. Some 65,000 migrants have made the dangerous trip to Agadez since the beginning of May. BBC

Defense Secretary Robert Gates disagreed with Obama on Libya

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said his biggest disagreement with President Barack Obama was over the decision to intervene in Libya, which he strongly opposed. “[One disagreement] in two-and-a-half years isn’t bad,” he said.

He added: “I think one of the reasons it’s probably time for me to leave is that sometimes too much experience can get in the way, and you can get too cautious. It may … be making me more cautious that I ought to be.” From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that would indeed be a major difference between Gen-Xers and the Silent Generation. Politico

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jun-11 News — Fighting continues in Libya, amid chaotic international politics thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jun-2011) Permanent Link

2-Jun-11 World View — Europeans close to deal on Greece
Bad economic data hits stock marketThis morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

Europeans close to a deal to give 12 billion euros to Greece


Athens protests in front of the Greek Parliament (AFP)
Athens protests in front of the Greek Parliament (AFP)

On Thursday, European officials will present a deal to release 12 billion euros to Greece on June 29. That’s the date of the next scheduled tranche or installment of the 110 billion euro bailout worked out a year ago. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had been indicating a refusal to pay its share of the tranche, because Greece had failed to meet any of its committed austerity objectives in the past year. Of particular importance was the commitment to lower Greece’s debt sufficiently so that Greece could reenter the international bond markets next year, something that now seems impossible. The deal is not completely closed, however. It has to be approved unanimously by the eurozone’s finance ministers, who have a meeting scheduled on June 20. Irish Times

Moody’s Investor Service reduced Greece’s credit rating again, by three notches, deep into junk territory, making it clear that that Greece would not stabilize its financial situation without defaulting. Reuters

A vigilante computer hacker group called “Anonymous” declared Wednesday that it’s targeting the IMF website with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, as punishment for forcing Greece to perform austerity measures in return for its 110 billion euro bailout. In a DDoS attack, thousands of computers simultaneously access the web site, so that it becomes unresponsive. “Anonymous” is the same group that called for DDoS attacks against Visa and Mastercard, after they withdrew services from Wikileaks. Anonymous has also targetd the Italian government, Iran and Egypt. AFP

Bad economic data hits stock market

A slew of disappointing economic reports is leading to worries that we’re not going to have that “V-shaped recovery” after all. GM auto sales for May were down 1.2%, when experts had predicted they would be up 1.5%. Unemployment and manufacturing indicators were poor as well. If you put together news like this with the rapidly deteriorating financial situation in Europe and political situation in the Mideast, as well as the possibility that China’s huge real estate bubble might finally burst, then there’s definitely a feeling that history is speeding up toward something. Wall Street stocks fell over 2% on Wednesday. LATimes

Bahrain lifts martial law, but brutalizes protesters anyway

Bahrain supposedly lifted the state of martial law on Wednesday, but it’s had no effect on the actions of the security forces. Tanks and soldiers withdrew form the center of Manama, the capital city, but numerous police checkpoints remained around the city. Security forces used batons and tear gas to disperse any protests. Al-Jazeera

Syria calls for investigation of mutilated 13-year-old boy

In an effort to manage the international criticism of the killing of Hamza Hamza al-Khateeb (see “1-Jun-11 News — Mutilated teenage boy becomes symbol for Syria’s revolution”), the government of Bashar al-Assad has vowed to investigate the incident. The government also promised amnesty for protesters. However, neither of these promises is considered credible by the protesters. The alleged mutilation of Hazma by Assad’s security forces has galvanized the protesters, and triggered international condemnation of Assad. Globe and Mail

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan faces no-confidence motion

Facing defectors from his own party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), prime minister Naoto Kan will face a no-confidence vote on Thursday afternoon. Japan has had a parade of prime ministers in the last five years, as each one has been felled by a vote of no confidence. The principal themes have previously been a generational conflict between the aging war survivor generation and the nationalistic post-war generations, with issues arising out of the use of Korean and Chinese “comfort women” by Japan’s armed forces during World War II. However, this time the problems appear to be different, and the main issue is competency in handling the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Japan Times

Iran’s parliament votes to sue Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The deeply bitter clash between Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei became even more bitter on Wednesday when the Iran’s parliament voted 165-1 to sue Ahmadinejad for firing Iran’s oil minister and naming himself as the replacement. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Iran is in a generational Awakening era, and is following a path similar to the political chaos in America in the 1960s, following the Summer of Love in 1967, and the decision of Lyndon Johnson not to run for reelection in 1968. Telegraph

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jun-11 News — Fighting continues in Libya, amid chaotic international politics thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jun-2011) Permanent Link

1-Jun-11 News — Mutilated teenage boy becomes symbol for Syria’s revolution
Hillary Clinton says this signals ‘total collapse’ of Syrian regime

Mutilated teenage boy becomes symbol for Syria’s revolution

A video showing Syrian security services torturing and killing a 13-year-boy named Hamza al-Khatib has galvanized the opposition and has become a symbol for Syria’s revolution, according to the Guardian.


Protester holding up a picture of Hamza al-Khatib during his funeral (Guardian/AFP)
Protester holding up a picture of Hamza al-Khatib during his funeral (Guardian/AFP)

Hamza was picked up by security forces on 29 April. On May 27, his badly mutilated corpse was returned to his family, who were warned to keep silent. But instead of staying secret, the tortured and swollen body is appearing on a Youtube video. (Warning: This video is grossly sickening.)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement, quoted by Reuters, reflects an increasingly harsh position towards Syrian president Bashar al-Assad:

“I think what [Hamza’s death] symbolizes for many Syrians is the total collapse of any effort by the Syrian government to work with and listen to their own people.Every day that goes by the position of the government becomes less tenable and the demands of the Syrian people for change only grow stronger.

President Assad has a choice, and every day that goes by the choice is made by default. He has not called an end to the violence against his own people, and he has not engaged seriously in any kind of reform efforts.”


Neda Agha-Soltan - Killed during 2009 Iran uprisings
Neda Agha-Soltan – Killed during 2009 Iran uprisings

During the Iran uprisings in 2009, a pretty, young girl named Neda Agha-Soltan was shot dead in the streets by security forces, and the entire incident was captured in a graphic youtube video. Neda became an international symbol of Iran’s opposition, and opposition forces in Syria hope that Hamza’s mutiliation and death will accomplish the same thing for them.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jun-11 News — Mutilated teenage boy becomes symbol for Syria’s revolution thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jun-2011) Permanent Link

1-Jun-11 World View — Ratko Mladic visits his daughter’s grave
Israel faces new aid flotilla from Turkey to GazaThis morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

Ratko Mladic visits his daughter’s grave


Ratko Mladic in court last week
Ratko Mladic in court last week

Ratko Mladic was extradited to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague on Tuesday, to face charges of genocide and war crimes, after a court rejected his legal challenge. However, he was permitted to make a brief side trip to visit his daughter’s grave. His daughter committed suicide in 1994 with her father’s prized regimental honors pistol when she learned of the atrocities that her father was committing at that time in the Bosnian war. Telegraph

Israel faces new aid flotilla from Turkey to Gaza

A major new confrontation is developing at the end of June, when a new aid flotilla will be leaving Turkey for Gaza. Israel says that it will continue to use the military to enforce its economic embargo of Gaza. This is near the first anniversary of last year’s flotilla, when clashes between the flotilla and Israel’s army resulted in nine deaths. VOA

Iran ‘breaches international protocol’ by blocking Merkel’s overflight

A routine plane trip by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Afghanistan was forced to circle over Turkey for two hours on Tuesday morning, when Iran refused to give the plane permission to enter Iranian air space. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle summoned the Iranian ambassador in Berlin and made clear to him that “such a breach of international protocol against Germany would absolutely not be accepted.” Spiegel

Cyber combat is an act of war

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force. Wall Street Journal (Access)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jun-11 News — Mutilated teenage boy becomes symbol for Syria’s revolution thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jun-2011) Permanent Link

31-May-11 News — Yemen’s president hangs on to power as clashes spread to other towns
Violence escalates cross Yemen

Yemen’s president hangs on to power as clashes spread to other towns

Dozens of people have been killed across Yemen on Monday. Previously, fighting had been largely confined to the capital city, Sanaa, but in the last few days, violence has spread to a number of other cities as well, indicating the possibility of a situation spiraling out of control.


Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh (Al-Arabiya)
Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh (Al-Arabiya)

The peaceful demonstrations began in Sanaa in February, with protesters demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down, after 33 years ofrule. The demonstrators were following the pattern of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Saleh’s security forces began using live ammunition and teargas on the peaceful protests in March, and the use of violence has been increasing ever since. Once the killings mounted, the powerful al-Hashid tribe, headed by a former Saleh ally Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, turned against Saleh and joined the protesters.

Yemen violence escalating


Yemen
Yemen

Several escalations have occurred within the last week. Saleh’s forces have begun using bombers to attack Hashid positions, according to Al-Jazeera. A group of 300 militants, led by Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attacked and devastated the town of Zinjibar on Saturday. On Monday, Saleh’s forces bombed the militants in Zinjibar, and ground forces fired on peaceful protesters in the city of Taiz for the first time.

Some of the military began to defect when the army started firing on unarmed protesters, but they’ve mostly been loyal to Saleh until recently. However, the militant takeover of Zinjibar has caused a group of dissident generals to defect, accusing Saleh of surrendering to the “armed terrorist group.”

Analysts who cover Yemen have been expressing different views on what’s coming next. According to a BBC analyst in Sanaa,

“To some extent, the protests have been hijacked, not only by tribalists, but by military defectors and political Islamists. Yet amazingly, given the combined efforts of all these parties, the people in the squares are still trying to remain independent.”

An analysis by Al-Arabiya says that Yemen is “rapidly descending into chaos and anarchy”#>:

“Deep divisions among his opponents are likely to ensure that Mr. Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) will retain power whether or not the president is around to lead it. GPC’s positioning is also enhanced by divisions within the armed forces with key units commanded by members of the president’s family loyal to the president. The split in the military has moreover deprived Yemen of a powerful institution that like in the case of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could tell Mr. Saleh authoritatively that it is time to go.As a result, Mr. Saleh is showing no inclination to leave office before his term ends in 2013. He has several times backed out of a deal negotiated by the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that would have eased him out of office in exchange for immunity against prosecution.

Yemen is meanwhile rapidly descending into chaos and anarchy as a result of Mr. Saleh’s tenacity. It is a situation that the president believes works in his favor whether or not he retains power. It strengthens his claim that only he can prevent Yemen from disintegrating and Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Gulf (AQAP), from taking over parts of the country.

It also deepens the divisions in the country and among the opposition which enhances the GPC’s ability to hold on to power if and when he is gone.”

Yemen has been an important strategic ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism. But it’s also become the headquarters of Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, the most dangerous al-Qaeda spinoff in the world right now. A civil war in Yemen would have dangerous consequences for the world. The offensive is being taken as a result of demands by the Obama administration, but some analysts say that the operation would subject the army to even more public criticism in a country where anti-US feeling runs deep.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-May-11 News — Yemen’s president hangs on to power as clashes spread to other towns thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-May-2011) Permanent Link

Russian offer of Japanese resettlement in Siberia raises xenophobic tensions

Russian offer of Japanese resettlement in Siberia raises xenophobic tensions

Vladimir Putin says Libya intervention is a ‘crusade’

Russian offer of Japanese resettlement in Siberia raises xenophobic tensions

Shortly after Japan experienced its earthquake and tsunami, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the colorful leader of one of Russia’s opposition parties, called on Japanese citizens to migrate from their “dangerous islands,” and move to the unpopulated territories in Russia’s Far East in Siberia.


Birch Trees in Siberia, Russia (Alexander Krivenyshev)
Birch Trees in Siberia, Russia (Alexander Krivenyshev)

“We offer the way to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, said Zhirinovsky according to Ria Novosti. “Russia will even benefit if such hardworking people join us.”

The comment was not taken very seriously until Friday, when the idea was adopted by Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev discussed offering supplies of food and medical equipment to the Japanese, and added, “In general we must now think about the use, if necessary, of some of the employment potential of our [Japanese] neighbours, especially in sparsely populated areas of Siberia and the Far East,” according to Moscow News.

Russia’s Far East suffered rapid depopulation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. During the 1990s, there was enormous poverty and no support from the chaotic Moscow government. As a result, population fell by as much as 50% in the region, as millions migrated east, mostly to the European part of Russia.

However, Russia’s Far East is also rich in natural resources, of which the most obvious is timber. This presents an opportunity for the Chinese, who have sent a flood of illegal migrants to re-populate the region, according to ABC News. The entire Far East has only 7.4 million people, while there are more than 70 million people in northeast China.

Thus, it’s possible that Medvedev’s offer to the Japanese to migrate to the Far East was motivated as a way to counter Chinese migration. At the very least, Moscow needs Japanese capital and technology to develop its Far East, according to an analysis by Jamestown.

However, this suggestion has infuriated xenophobic Russian nationalists, including many in the Russian population of the Far east, according to an analysis Paul Goble.

One Siberian activist said that Medvedev’s proposal is so dangerous and outrageous as to constitute treason and that it should lead to his impeachment. The activist lists five reasons why Medvedev should be impeached:

 

  • Japan and Russia are still formally in a state of war, since World War II.
  •  

  • By admitting that the Far East is underpopulated, Medvedev makes it easier for “all countries which have or may have territorial claims against Russia.”
  •  

  • The declaration provokes China, and may lead to a war with China.
  •  

  • The declaration encourages indigenous populations who inhabited Siberia before the Russians, and who may demand independence.
  •  

  • Medvedev’s remarks give support to those who want to “accuse the leadership of Russia in the conscious genocide of the civil population which is living inthese regions.”

It sounds like a pretty vitriolic political argument, the same as many of the arguments we hear in Washington.

However, it’s interesting because it’s consistent with the expected lineup in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, based on Generational Dynamics analysis.

The reasoning is as follows: China will be allied with Pakistan, which will be allied with the Arab nations. Pakistan will be at war with India, which will be allied with Japan, Iran, Russia and the West. Thus, the closer relationship between Japan and Russia moves the world farther along that path, even though Japan and Russia never signed a peace agreement after World War II.

Vladimir Putin says Libya intervention is a ‘crusade’

A rare public disagreement has developed between Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, according to CNN.

On Monday, Putin said that the UN Security Council resolution authorizing the no-fly zone was “obviously incomplete and flawed”:

 

“It resembles a medieval appeal for a crusade in which somebody calls upon somebody to go to a certain place and liberate it. …In Bill Clinton’s times. Yugoslavia and Belgrade were bombed. Bush sent armed forces into Afghanistan. A far-fetched and totally false pretext was used to invade Iraq, and the entire Iraqi leadership was eliminated, even children in Saddam Hussein’s family died.

“And now, it’s Libya’s turn — under the pretext of protecting civilians. But it’s the civilian population who dies during those airstrikes against (Libyan) territory. Where is the logic and the conscience? There is neither.”

However, Medvedev scolded Putin a few hours later:

 

“It is absolutely inexcusable to use expressions that, in effect, lead to a clash of civilizations — such as ‘crusades,’ and so on. That is unacceptable.[Otherwise,] everything could end up in far worse shape than it is now. It is important to remember this.”

Both Putin and Medvedev are expected to be running for president in Russia’s 2012 election.

Additional links

The Obama administration would like to hand over command of the Libya intervention to another country in a matter of days, but finding an appropriate leader is proving to be difficult. The most obvious candidate is Nato, but Turkey is part of Nato, and Turkey is blocking Nato’s participation in Libya. Spiegel

Yemen’s government continues to collapse, amid violence directed at protesters. On Monday, Yemen’s ambassadors to Jordan, Egypt, Emirates, Algeria, China, Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, and Syria all resigned, in protest to the violence. On Sunday, Yemeni Ambassadors in Pakistan, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Japan, UN, and Spain announced their support of the protesters. The protesters are demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down. Yemen Post

For the fourth consecutive day, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Deraa in southern Syria, to protest corruption and to demand that Syria’s president Bashar al Assad step down. Although most of the population is Sunni Muslim, the ruling elite in Syria are composed primarily of people who follow the Allawi religious sect, which is an independent religion with some elements of both Islam and Christianity. The National (UAE)

Clinton woman to be Playboy Playmate. Associated Press

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Mar-11 News — Russian offer of Japanese resettlement raises xenophobic tensions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Mar-2011) Permanent Link

Saudi Arabia surrounded by riots in Yemen, Jordan, Iran, Bahrain and more

Bloodbath in Libya, while Bahrain’s government backs down

Saudi Arabia surrounded by riots in Yemen, Jordan, Iran, Bahrain and more

Bloodbath in Libya, while Bahrain’s government backs down


Libya <font size=-2>(Source: CIA Fact Book)</font>
Libya (Source: CIA Fact Book)

Government armed forced pursued a violent crackdown on unarmed demonstrators in eastern portion of Libya on Saturday, especially in Genghazi, Bayda and Tobruk. According to the Arab Monitor, long convoys of military vehicles went into eastern regions and fired on demonstrators with high powered weapons. The death toll may be well over 100, although exact numbers cannot be confirmed.

Bahrain’s royal family bowed to international pressure on Saturday and pulled its tanks out of Pearl Square in Manama, the capital city, allowing the protesters to continue their peaceful demonstrations.

Riots and demonstrations have been spreading throughout the Mideast. A country-by-country summary by CNN summarizes protests in the following countries: Libya, Yemen, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Djibouti, Algeria, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Palestinian territories.

There have been no major riots in Saudi Arabia, mainly because of the country’s vast oil wealth, according to the NY Times. However, the Saudis are feeling increasingly isolated and concerned, according to the article, and fear that the United States may no longer be a reliable backer.

I heard something of a joke on the BBC on Saturday, interviewing an analyst talking about all the demonstrations in the Mideast:

 

ANALYST: You know, I really wonder what George Bush thinks about everything that’s going on.INTERVIEWER: Well, he probably would say that this is exactly what he wanted — to start from the war in Iraq, and see democracy spread throughout the Middle East.

ANALYST: Then he simply should have raised food prices.

Good point. It’s somewhat romantic to claim that all of this unrest comes from a desire for liberty and freedom beating in the hearts of the oppressed masses, but it’s much more likely that it comes from a desire to feed their families, as food prices continue at historically high levels.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Feb-11 News — Bloodbath in Libya, while Bahrain’s government backs down thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Feb-2011) Permanent Link

Watching the pot come to a boil

“Watching the pot come to a boil”

11-Jan-11 News — Riots in Bangladesh as stock market appears to be crashing
Illinois may vote to increase income taxes by 75%

Riots in Bangladesh as stock market appears to be crashing

Almost the entire city of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, came to a standstill on Monday, as thousands of angry investors poured into the streets and staged violent demonstrations, according to Bangladesh News 24.


Dhaka Stock Exchange - One year
Dhaka Stock Exchange – One year

The stock market had fallen 7.8% on Sunday, largest in the history of the Bangladesh stock market. It then fell an additional 9% on Monday during just the first hour of trading, after which trading was ended for the day. Rioting spread to other cities after trading was suspended.

There seems little doubt that the stock market was in a large bubble. The stock market index rose 80% in 2010, peaking on December 5 of last year. Then, on December 19, the market fell 6.73% fell, according to CNN. This trigger protests in Dhaka and around the country, though not as large as the new protests.

There are 3.5 million investors in the Bangladesh stock market, and this appears to be a full-scale panic. Regulators are trying to use every tool available to them stop the panic, but it has not yet been announced with trading will resume.

If you’re an investor in the stock market, then you should understand that the same thing could happen to you at any time. There were several “mini-panics” last year, especially around the time of the bailout of Greece. The euro zone is going through another crisis this week, so be prepared for anything.

Additional links

The state that’s worst off financially — even worse off than California — is Illinois, with a deficit of at least $13 billion, more than $6 billion in unpaid bills to social service agencies, schools and funeral homes, and the most underfinanced state pension system. The Illinois legislature is now on the verge of voting to increase the state income tax by 75%. NY Times

It’s been revealed that some time in September or October of last year, Chinese troops crossed the border to Indian-controlled Kashmir and forced construction workers to abandon their work. DNA India

Why Chinese mothers are superior. Wall Street Journal (Access)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jan-11 News — Riots in Bangladesh as stock market appears to be crashing thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

10-Jan-11 News — Defense Secretary Gates announces an arms race with China
Japan and South Korea unite against China and North Korea

Defense Secretary Gates announces an arms race with China

US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced on Friday that the Pentagon is investing in a range of new weapons in response to China’s military buildup, according to the NY Times. China has been rapidly building up its military since the 1990s, but this is the first time that the Pentagon has responded to China’s buildup with more than words.

 

“The American weapons that Mr. Gates was referring to included investments in a new long-range nuclear-capable bomber aircraft, which the Pentagon had stopped developing in 2009, as well as a new generation of electronic jammers for the Navy that are designed to thwart a missile from finding and hitting a target. At a Pentagon briefing on Thursday, Mr. Gates said that the jammers would improve the Navy’s ability to “fight and survive” in waters where it is challenged.Mr. Gates was also referring to continued investment in the Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s newest radar-evading fighter jet.”

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, China is arming and planning for a major war with the United States.

However, hope springs eternal. Secretary Gates arrived in Beijing on Sunday for discussions with China’s president and defense minister. According to VOA, Gates says that he wants to persuade China to engage in regular military talks with the United States to prevent misunderstandings that could lead to conflict.

In ten days, China’s president Hu Jintao will arrive in Washington for discussions with President Obama.

Japan and South Korea unite against China and North Korea

Japan and South Korea have had very bitter relations since the end of World War II, because Japan had colonized Korea during the first half of the 20th century, and because the Japanese army used Korean women as “comfort women” during WW II.

But now Japan and South Korea are faced with new realities. These include China’s military buildup, North Korea’s nuclear weapons buildup, and China’s close relationship with North Korea.

As a result, Japan and South Korea are being forced to choose sides, and they’re choosing each other, according to Bloomberg. Japan and South Korea are boosting military and economic ties in ways that would have been politically impossible just a few years ago.

Governments around the world struggle with increasing food prices

Riots continued in Algeria for a fifth day on Sunday over high food prices and unemployment. Since they began on Tuesday, three young people have been killed, and more than 1,000 have been arrested, according to the Interior Minister quoted by Magharebia.

Fourteen people were killed on Sunday in clashes with security forces in Tunisia, near the border with Algeria, according to VOA.

In both countries, policemen were killed as a result of the clashes.

This comes as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announces that its food price index has reached its highest level since it was begun in 1991. Prices have risen 32% in just the last half of 2010.

High prices sparked worldwide food prices in 2008. Everyone hoped that food prices would come down, and they did for a while in 2009, and again early in 2010, but they really surged in the last half of 2010. They’re now up to new highs, higher than in 2008, and governments around the world are looking for ways to head off problems.


World food situation (FAO)
World food situation (FAO)

In Bangladesh, the Prime Minister announced a rationing system on Sunday, according to the Daily Star. Rice will be distributed to “the destitute and ultra-poor” at subsidized prices through ration cards.

India, which still has in effect from the 2008 crisis an export ban on rice, is also considering a plan to distribute food grains at subsidized prices to the BPL (people Below Poverty Line), according to Business Standard (India).

India’s consumers have been particularly hit by a doubling of the price of onions in the last month, according to Sify (India). However, the General Secretary of the Vegetable Traders Association is quoted as saying that the rise in onion prices is only temporary, as a fresh crop is ready to be harvested.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what we’re seeing is what I call the “Malthus effect,” a continuing increase in the price of food as the population grows faster than the supply of food. (See “Food: Green revolution v Malthus effect.”)

Food prices were steady or declining until 2002. Since 2002, food prices have been surging much faster than inflation.

The survivors of World War II (GI and Silent generations) were well aware of the horrors of famine and starvation that occurred during the war, and they developed the Green Revolution to make sure that everyone in the world would be fed.

The Green Revolution led to huge increases in food production in the 1960s and 1970s, but for some reason, many people believe that the Green Revolution is some magic potion that will last forever. In many ways it was a one shot deal — improve crop yields by using a lot more water, fertilizer and insecticides. Since then, water has gotten scarcer, and fertilizer and insecticides have been overused. New, modern equipment that was made available in the 1970s is now worn out and rusting.

It’s really not surprising that the surge in food prices occurred in the same time frame as the tech, real estate and credit bubbles that have developed into the current global financial crisis. The same generational greed and nihilism that led to the global financial crisis has also led to the collapse of the Green Revolution.

Additional links

After a relaxing holiday season, the euro zone financial crisis is coming to the fore again. Germany, France and other euro zone countries are pressuring Portugal to seek a bailout from the EU and IMF to prevent Portugals financial problems from spreading to other countries. This is the same kind of game that was played with Ireland last year, and if it plays out in a similar way, then Portugal will stall on asking for aid in order to gain leverage in having to pay lower interest rates on the bailout money. Reuters

Tensions are also rising again in Thailand. On Sunday, some 30,000 red-shirt anti-government protesters filled the streets of downtown Bangkok in a peaceful demonstration. Red Shirt organizers say that they plan to hold regular demonstrations twice a month. CNN

165 Israeli academics are refusing to participate in academic functions at the Ariel University Center of Samaria, because it’s across the “Green Line” in the West Bank, in territory claimed by the Palestinians. Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jan-11 News — Defense Secretary Gates announces an arms race with China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

9-Jan-11 News — Food riots kill two in Algeria
Algerians cut duties to reduce food prices

Food riots in Algeria kill two and injure hundreds

Two people were killed and hundreds injured in the fourth day of food riots in Algeria on Saturday, according to VOA. An additional body was found in a hotel burned down by rioters.

The riots come as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index reached historic highs, higher than when the worldwide food riots occurred in 2008. World food prices have increased by 32% in just the last half of 2010.

The rioting began this week after the sudden price hike of food staples such as flour, sugar and oil.

A panicked Algerian government reacted by saying it will cut taxes and import duties on some staple foods, according to Al-Jazeera. Officials claim that this will reduce the price of sugar and cooking oil by 41%. However, many people claim that the riots go beyond high food prices to general discontent with the Algerian government.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jan-11 News — Food riots kill two in Algeria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

8-Jan-11 News — Bernanke emphatically rejects bailing out states and cities
First anniversary of the daily news summary

First anniversary of the daily news summary

Here’s what I wrote exactly one year ago:

 

“Dear Reader, I’m going to try this for a while and see if it works for me. Ideally I’ll produce a news summary every day, but that’s probably unrealistic. I’ll try to do it as often as possible.Every day I come across one or more stories that I believe are very important (or just amusing). Often web site readers refer such articles to me. But my work schedule keeps me from writing a full article on them. The news summary will briefly cover stories that I believe are of international geopolitical or financial significance, and will provide a link to one or more articles.”

Much to my own amazement, I’ve only missed five days or so in the last year, even though I do this in addition to my full time job. (By that, I’m referring to my software engineering job that pays me a salary, as opposed to this full time job that pays nothing — except for the donations that I receive from those of you who are kind enough to provide them.) Each evening as I write an article, I ask myself why the hell I keep doing this, and think it’s about time to quit. But then I get the article written and posted, and it (hopefully) looks good, and then I decide that it was all worth it, for at least another day.

I should mention that even after all this time, I still respond to most e-mail and comment questions that I receive. However, I’m very often a few days or weeks behind, but in almost all cases I do respond (eventually). By the way, I give a higher priority to queries posted in the Generational Dynamics forum, since in that case the response is seen by more people.

I know that I’ve helped a lot of people, because many people have written to me thanking me for this service, which is entirely altruistic. The nation and the world are entering a truly terrible time, and I always say that you should treasure the time you have left, and use the time to prepare yourself, your family, your community and your nation. The purpose of this web site is to help you prepare, and I’m pleased to be able to provide that help.

Happy new year to everyone.

Bernanke emphatically rejects bailing out states and cities

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was appearing on Friday before the Senate Budget Committee, and was asked whether the Fed could provide money through quantitative easing to bail out state and municipal budgets.

It’s a serious problem. States are collectively forecasting a budget gap of an enormous $113 billion for the fiscal year starting in July, according to Reuters.

I’ve heard several financial analysts and pundits say that there will have to be many municipal bankruptcies this year, especially in California. There’s apparently a severe political compulsion that’s going to lead to these bankruptcies.

The problem in many municipalities is that they’re bound by enormous union contracts that demand cadillac salaries and cadillac benefits far in excess of corresponding salaries and benefits in the private sector. Most unions have been playing hardball and refusing to agree to any cuts whatsoever, under the assumption that either the state or the federal government will be forced to provide a bailout.

That’s why so many municipalities are considering bankruptcies. The money to pay these salaries and benefits simply does not exist, and cannot be raised. By going into bankruptcy court, a municipality can ask the judge modify or eliminate the union contracts to affordable levels.

Naturally, this becomes a big issue for the Democrats in Congress, who are politically pressured to provide bailouts to the cities and states. The Reuters article referenced above points out that last year’s $814 stimulus plan included the largest transfer of federal funds to states in U.S. history. There is little appetite to repeat this.

So Democratic Senators on Friday asked Bernanke if the Fed could bail out the states and municipalities. His response:

 

“They should not expect loans from the Fed. It’s going to be difficult, but on the other hand there is some improvement in the economy and tax revenues have actually picked up. …”I don’t think the Federal Reserve has the authority. And I don’t think it would be appropriate for us to do that. This is something that would take place over a period of time … And there’d be plenty of time, I think, for Congress and for the state legislature to look at alternative solutions.”

Almost all Republicans and many Democrats are coming out against any fiscal bailout of the states as well, according to Wall Street Journal (Access).

Republican House Budget Committee chairman said, “If we bail out one state, then all of the debt of all of the states is almost explicitly put on the books of the federal government.”

Thousands of foreclosures on hold after Massachusetts court ruling

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Friday ruled that two foreclosures were invalid because the paper trail for the too tangled, and the foreclosing banks could not establish clear ownership, according to the Boston Globe.

Although only two mortgages are involved, this court ruling could affect thousands of foreclosures, and may have national implications. As I described in “22-Oct-10 News — Foreclosure mess turns into a major crisis,” this problem may be good news for homeowners, who now will be able to stay in their homes a while longer, but it’s bad news for the real estate market as a whole, since it puts many purchases of foreclosed homes into question.

The Washington Post quotes one analyst as saying that this case is “enough to put serious cloud on title through the whole system and that’s a problem.”

Goldman Sachs investment plan for Facebook shows that little has changed

There’s an SEC rule that says that once a privately held company has 500 investors, then the company is required to open its books and divulge financial information. This makes sense because you don’t want a company to mislead or defraud thousands of investors.

However, as we’re well aware, the people on Wall Street consider rules to be an annoyance to be avoided, and they’ve now found a way to get around this rule.

Well, Facebook is generating so much profit that a lot of investors want to invest in the company, but they don’t want to have to divulge their financials, according to Reuters.

“No problem!” says Goldman Sachs, one of the leaders among the many banks that five years ago sold defective mortgage-backed collateralized debt obligations to millions of investors, causing the global financial crisis.

Goldman has created a special investment vehicle in which investors can buy shares. The special investment vehicle will then use the money to invest in Facebook. Voilà! You can have thousands of investors, but there’s only one investor in Facebook itself, so there’s no problem.

As I keep saying on this web site, the global financial crisis was caused by massive fraud in almost every major financial institution in the world, perpetrated by nihilistic, greedy Gen-Xers, enabled by their incompetent, greedy Boomer bosses.

And the point is that the same people are still in the same jobs, looking for news ways to screw investors for their own personal gain. That’s one way that you know that there’s still a worse major financial crisis yet to come.

Even apart from this deal, Facebook looks to me like a disaster in the making. I don’t have anything against the company — as far as I know, they’re a fine company run by a fine management team.

But Facebook appears to me to be a one-company bubble. It’s a social networking web site with more than 500 million users, and it has rock star popularity. The problem is that there may be a different rock star next year, and the next generation of teenagers may decide to leave Facebook just as fast as they joined. The situation is even worse because the Goldman deal shows that they’re willing to cut corners to make money unethically.

It wouldn’t take much for that bubble to burst, causing investors to lose a lot of money.

Investment firm predicts repeat of 2005-2007 stock market bubble

As I’ve pointed out a number of times, financial pundits and analysts seem to believe that “prosperity is just around the corner,” because they believe that the real estate and credit bubbles of the mid 2000s decade can be reflated. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is impossible, but that doesn’t stop the analysts from predicting it.

Here’s a Bloomberg article that says it explicitly:

 

“The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will rally back up to “mid-2008 levels,” in part because conditions resemble those at the end of 2004, when shares gained almost three more years, said MKM Partners.The S&P 500 broke to new highs at the end of 2010, just as in 2004. In both years, the index’s Moving Average Convergence/Divergence line, calculated by subtracting the index’s average level during the past 26 months from the average over the past 12 months, rose above zero and its stochastics chart shows usually strong momentum. The similar pattern suggests the current bull market may have more room to rally, said Katie Stockton, MKM’s chief market technician.

“The uptrend is equally mature” as it was at the end of 2004, Stockton, who is based in Stamford, Connecticut, wrote in a note dated Jan. 2. “We are thus encouraged by the ability of the market to extend its uptrend from 2005 through 2007 and would not be scared away from the market simply because it has already seen two years of impressive gains.””

Believe me, Dear Reader, this is a pile of crap. Katie Stockton, who is quoted in the article, doesn’t have the vaguest idea what’s coming, but she’s developed this mathematical model that justifies her six or seven-digit salary, since it tells people what they want to hear.

It reminds me of the super-sophisticated mathematical models that were used to justify the sales of collateralized debt obligations five years ago. Those models, it turned out, were based on mathematically impossible assumptions. (See “Financial Crisis Inquiry hearings provide ‘smoking gun’ evidence of widespread criminal fraud.”)

As I keep saying, over and over, the same people who caused the financial crisis in the first place are still in the same jobs, doing the same kinds of things, looking for new ways to skirt the rules and defraud investors. That’s how we know for sure that the worst of the financial crisis is far from over.

Additional links

Yields (interest rates) on the bonds of several European countries rose sharply this week, indicating that investors are betting that there will be defaults. The euro currency fell sharply against the dollar. The reason is that the euro is facing a major test next week: Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Portugal are all going into the bond market next week, seeking to borrow 20-22 billion euros. Reuters

Despite the fall in the unemployment rate to 9.4%, analysts are deeply disappointed by the Friday’s jobs report, because employers added only 103,000 jobs in December, when analysts had predicted a figure closer to 200,000. The fall in the employment rate is apparently caused by a shrinkage in the nation’s workforce by 260,000 persons from November, as more Americans retired, went back to school or simply gave up looking for jobs. LA Times

Financial superstar nation Brazil may be facing a financial crisis. Consumer credit has shot up fivefold since 2002, and the credit bubble is showing signs of being about to burst. Bloomberg

As we’ve reported, Greece has generated a great deal of controversy by proposing to build a fence (similar to the one on the US border with Mexico) along the border with Turkey, to prevent illegal migration. This has triggered a meeting between Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, at which they showed unity over the problem of illegal migrants. Reuters

Pakistan’s government had been close to collapse this week, because a key party, the MQM, had pulled out of the PPP’s governing coalition. The split had been triggered when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had imposed a fuel surcharge as an austerity measure, so that Pakistan can avoid bankruptcy. Gilani has caved in and rescinded the fuel surcharge, and the MQM will rejoin the coalition. I guess the MQM is hoping for a bailout from either China or the U.S. What this shows, as much as anything, is that unpopular austerity programs will not survive long, until there’s a crisis that forces austerity. Nation (Pakistan)

Older generations in Pakistan are mourning the loss of a once tolerant, relaxed nation. Associated Press

Food riots in Algeria spread into Tunisia on Friday, as protests and strikes driven by unemployment and high food prices swept across the country. Videos of demonstrations are appearing on the internet, despite attempts by Tunisia’s government to control internet postings. LA Times

Tunisia’s government is conducting a vigorous attack on internet users to prevent information unfavorable to the government from reaching the internet. The Tunisian authorities have allegedly carried out targeted “phishing” operations: stealing users passwords to spy on them and eradicate online criticism. Al-Jazeera

Muslim girls are often forced to lead double lives in Europe. They have sex in public restrooms and stuff mobile phones in their bras to hide their secret existences from their strict Muslim families. They are often forbidden from visiting gynecologists or receiving sex ed. In the worst cases, they undergo hymen reconstruction surgery, have late-term abortions or even commit suicide. Says one mother to her daughter, “An unmarried woman who has lost her virginity might as well be a whore.” Spiegel

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jan-11 News — Bernanke emphatically rejects bailing out states and cities thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

7-Jan-11 News — Food riots begin again as food prices reach historic highs
China’s military developments catch Americans by surprise

Food riots begin again as food prices reach historic highs

Riots over rising food prices and chronic unemployment spread across Algeria on Thursday, with youths torching government buildings and shouting “Bring us Sugar!” according to Associated Press.

The food price index of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has risen 32% in just the last half of 2010, according to Bloomberg.

Here’s a graph that I posted in November, showing food prices through October:


FAO Food Price Index versus CPI, 1990 to October 2010
FAO Food Price Index versus CPI, 1990 to October 2010

It had been hoped at that time that food prices would start to fall again, but they didn’t. Instead, the price index continued to climb, reaching new highs in December.


Food prices rose rapidly in India during December (Calcutta Telegraph)
Food prices rose rapidly in India during December (Calcutta Telegraph)

In India, food inflation increased to 18.32% for the week ending December 23, primarily due to a steep rise in onion prices, according to the Business Standard (Delhi). This was about twice the rate in November. Chief Economic Adviser Kaushik Basu said: “It is an utter mistake to think that it is fully within the control of the government to move prices of food up and down.”

It had been hoped that food inflation would moderate in 2010, after a significant rise in 2009. During the summer it did moderate, but in recent weeks it’s surged.

Pakistan’s government, which is in near total paralysis after the assassination of Salman Taseer that we’ve been reporting on, banned onion exports to India over land routes on Thursday, in order to lower onion prices in Pakistan. This move, which was completely unexpected, is being criticized in both India and Pakistan, according to the Calcutta Telegraph.

Food prices are now higher than they were in 2008, when surging prices caused food riots around the world. Officials are claiming that the situation is not as bad today, since there are larger stocks of wheat and other commodities available. (However, I’m not sure why food prices are increasing, if there are these huge stocks available.)

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what we’re seeing is what I call the “Malthus effect,” a continuing increase in the price of food as the population grows faster than the supply of food. (See “Food: Green revolution v Malthus effect.”)

As you can see from the above graph, food prices were steady or declining until 2002. Since 2002, food prices have been surging much faster than inflation.

The survivors of World War II (GI and Silent generations) were well aware of the horrors of famine and starvation that occurred during the war, and they developed the Green Revolution to make sure that everyone in the world would be fed.

It’s really not surprising that the surge in food prices occurred in the same time frame as the tech, real estate and credit bubbles that have developed into the current global financial crisis. The same generational greed and nihilism that led to the debauched use of credit has also led to the collapse of the Green Revolution.

Additional links

American officials have been caught by surprise by China’s development of a stealth fighter, along with news of advances in anti-ship missiles. The fighter is only a prototype that won’t see service for years, but the missile is nearly operational. As we’ve said many times, China is preparing to lead a new world war against the United States and the West. LA Times

The assassination of Pakistani Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer by his “Elite Force” bodyguard is raising concerns in Washington and around the world that a similar assassination attack may give al-Qaeda linked terrorists access to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Times of India

Thousands of Coptic Christians packed churches across Europe and the Middle East to celebrate Christmas Eve mass on Wednesday evening. Tensions were high after last week’s bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria, and continued internet threats by al-Qaeda linked groups that more churches would be bombed. Muslims had offered to visit churches in Egypt to act as “human shields” against further attacks, but church officials said that the presence of Muslims would be harmful to “the feelings and the sensitivities of the relatives of the victims.” Al-Jazeera

Floods in Australia, the worst in 50 years, have affected about 200,000 people and caused $5 billion. The coal industry has been particularly hard hit, and coal exports have been brought to a standstill. Reuters

Homeowners who would like to reduce mortgage payments, but don’t qualify for refinancing, can use a little-known strategy called “recasting” or “re-amortization.” NY Times

New research says that when a woman cries, a man’s sexual desire for her decreases. Australian

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jan-11 News — Food riots begin again as food prices reach historic highs thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

6-Jan-11 News — Pakistan melts down as US/Nato forces struggle in Afghanistan
Muslims will attend Coptic Christmas mass in Egypt

Pakistan melts down as US/Nato forces struggle in Afghanistan

Islamist lawyers showered Mumtaz Qadri with roses when he arrived in court on Wednesday to face charges of having assassinated Salman Taseer, the governor of the province of Punjab in Pakistan, according to Dawn (Pakistan). And MEMRI has translated a statement by 500 Pakistani religious scholars, mostly belonging to the terrorist organization Jamaat Ahle Sunnat Pakistan, praising Qadri for keeping alive a “tradition of 1,400 years in Islam” which requires the killing of anyone committing an act of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.


Protesting female students at Red Mosque seminary wearing burkas and carrying bamboo sticks in 2007
Protesting female students at Red Mosque seminary wearing burkas and carrying bamboo sticks in 2007

The assassination is only the latest in an almost weekly stream of terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda linked groups in Pakistan. Many of them have been particularly targeted shrines and worshippers of Sufi and Shia Muslim sects, considered by Islamists to be apostasies.

Pakistan has been a troubled nation since its birth, where there have been militias particularly targeting Indians in Kashmir.

Pakistan really began turning against itself in 2007, with the bloody confrontation between police and students in Lal Masjid or the Red Mosque in Islamabad. (See my 2007 article, “Pakistanis are increasingly joining forces with al-Qaeda.”)

Trouble began when female students began wearing head-to-toe black burkas and, in a move heavy with sexual symbolism, began carrying bamboo sticks. They demanded that all the Islamabad prostitutes be arrested for violating Islamic law, but they weren’t taken seriously until they began abducting prostitutes and locking them in the seminary. This led to a 36-hour siege and gunfight with police — the male students were carrying guns, not bamboo sticks — that ended up killing more than 100 people.

A seminary student interviewed before the gunfight said that she was prepared to die for God. After the six hour gun battle she said, “We are never afraid. One day all lives will end, and if this is the case, then why not give our life to Islam?”

Since then, there have been numerous news stories about boys and girls, having been trained in Islamist madrassas, saying that they were ready to become martyrs to Allah. Sunni Islamist groups in Pakistan seem to have an endless supply of young people willing to become suicide bombers.

Now let’s contrast all this to what’s happening next door in Afghanistan.


Helmand's Sangin district in Afghanistan (McClatchy)
Helmand’s Sangin district in Afghanistan (McClatchy)

On Monday, an influential Afghan tribe leader agreed to put a stop to Taliban attacks in the Sangin district of Helmand, according to McClatchy. The deal is being compared to the “Anbar Awakening” in Iraq, where Sunni Iraqis turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq. This is raising hopes that there’ll be a similar “Awakening” in Afghanistan, bringing the war to an end.

There’s another major similarity to Iraq that, to my knowledge, has never been reported except on my web site.

According to a July, 2007, study by the Jamestown Foundation entitled “The Taliban Fedayeen: The World’s Worst Suicide Bombers?”:

 

“An analysis of the attacks carried out in the last two years reveals a curious fact. In 43% of the bombings conducted last year and in 26 of the 57 bombings traced in this study up to June 15, the only death caused by the bombing was that of the bomber himself. Astoundingly, approximately 90 suicide bombers in this two year period succeeded in killing only themselves. This number exceeds 100 when you factor in those who succeeded in killing only one person in addition to themselves. There was one period in the spring of 2006 (February 20 to June 21) when a stunning 26 of the 36 suicide bombers in Afghanistan (72%) only killed themselves. … These statistics also represent a uniquely Afghan phenomenon that warrants investigation.”

What almost nobody has noticed is that a very similar phenomenon occurred in Iraq.

In April, 2007, I wrote “Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq.” I was able to show by quoting documents from a variety of sources that the Iraqis themselves had little interest in fighting against each other, though al-Qaeda did everything possible to provoke them.

One of the most interesting examples was a letter of complaint from al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to Osama bin Laden, including the following:

 

“Jihad here unfortunately [takes the form of] mines planted, rockets launched, and mortars shelling from afar. The Iraqi brothers still prefer safety and returning to the arms of their wives, where nothing frightens them. Sometimes the groups have boasted among themselves that not one of them has been killed or captured. We have told them in our many sessions with them that safety and victory are incompatible, that the tree of triumph and empowerment cannot grow tall and lofty without blood and defiance of death, that the [Islamic] nation cannot live without the aroma of martyrdom and the perfume of fragrant blood spilled on behalf of God, and that people cannot awaken from their stupor unless talk of martyrdom and martyrs fills their days and nights.”

It was shown that Iraqis were refusing to allow their children to become suicide bombers, and so al-Zarqawi had to import suicide bombers from Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

The experiences of Afghanistan and Iraq are dramatically different from what’s happening in Pakistan, which is increasing turning against itself with its never-ending supply of young suicide bombers.

This dramatic difference has been possibly the most fascinating aspect of my development of Generational Dynamics over these last nine years. When a country has had a recent generational crisis war — as in the case of Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon and Thailand — then the population is strongly attracted away from violence. In particular, a civil war is impossible or, if one occurs, then it fizzles quickly.

But Pakistan’s last generational crisis war was the genocidal war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan.

In many current and historical examples that I’ve studied, the pattern is overwhelmingly consistent. Even when a generational crisis civil war ends, there is little or no internal violence for about 25-30 years. We’ve seen this quite dramatically in Sri Lanka, whose civil war ended last year. Pundits and analysts predicted that fighting would continue, but there has been no fighting whatsoever.

After about 25-30 years after a crisis civil war, low level violence can begin. This violence gradually increases, often punctuated by short-lived peace agreements, until a new war begins decades later.

So what does this mean for the war in Afghanistan? Can that war wind down the same as the war in Iraq seems to be doing?

As I’ve said many times, the answer is no, because of two very important differences between the two countries.

The first difference is that Afghanistan’s last crisis war was an extremely bloody civil war (1992-96), while Iraq’s last crisis war as an external war (the Iran/Iraq war, 1980-88). This means that Iraq’s Sunni and Shia population can comfortably form a shared government, at least for the time being.

With Afghanistan still in a generational Recovery era, there is almost no taste for war of any kind, even between people who, just 15 years ago, were literally slitting each others throats.

This is where the second difference becomes important. The Iraqi Sunnis were Iraqis first and Sunnis second, and had little identity with external Arab Sunni groups.

But the Sunni group in Afghanistan is the Pashtuns, and there is a strong identity group connection with the Pashtuns in Pakistan. The Taliban terrorist group is drawn from the Pashtun ethnic group. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a fascinating research subject, since the Afghan Pashtuns are in a generational Recovery era, while the Pakistan Pashtuns are in a generational Crisis era.

But the Afghan Pashtuns will not be able to eject the Pakistani Pashtuns in the way that the Iraqis ejected al-Qaeda in Iraq.

This means that Pakistan’s never-ending supply of suicide bombers becomes Afghanistan’s never-ending supply of suicide bombers.

My expectation is that there will be more deals with Afghan tribal leaders like the one that was announced on Monday, especially in the western regions far from the Pakistani border.

But I expect no such deals near the Pakistani border, or if there are any, they will be quickly sabotaged by the Pakistani Pashtuns. If only the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan could somehow be closed, then the Afghan war would end quickly. But that’s not possible.

The larger picture is that Afghanistan is to play a secondary role to the major war, the one between Pakistan and India. This will refight the 1947 war between Hindus and Muslims, with Pakistan itself torn between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

Pakistan has not yet recovered from last year’s devastating floods that covered 20% of the country. That lawyers, supposedly committed to upholding the law, would be throwing rose petals at the man who killed the governor of Punjab is almost too much to believe. And this comes as the government is close to collapse because a political party has pulled out of the governing coalition. Pakistan is truly staring into the abyss.

Additional links

Christmas is January 6 for Coptic Christians. After the bombing of the Coptic Christian church in Egypt last week, many Egypt Muslims are planning to attend the Christmas mass in sympathy with the Christians. Ahram

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jan-11 News — Pakistan melts down as US/Nato forces struggle in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

5-Jan-11 News — Pakistan’s crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated
Egypt Christian church bombing blamed on Salafi terrorists

Pakistan’s crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province and a senior politician in the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP),was assassinated on Tuesday by one of his own bodyguards, significantly worsening Pakistan’s financial and political crises.

This is the highest profile assassination since the the December, 2008, assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a leading Shia Muslim figure and daughter of the founder of the PPP. She was assassinated just two weeks prior to an election in which she was expected to win the office of Prime Minister.

After her death, her widowed husband, Asif Ali Zardari, became president of Pakistan. Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, another PPP associate of Bhutto, later became Prime Minister. And Tasser became governor of Punjab, Pakistan’s largest and most important province.

Taseer was shot in broad daylight on an Islamabad street by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the “Elite Force” that were supposed to protect him, according to Pakistan’s Daily Times. Taseer was shot 27 times in the back. Qadri was arrested along with nine other members of the Elite Force, who had allegedly conspired with Qadri.

Qadri confessed to the killed, and blamed it on Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which forbids blaspheming Mohammed or Islam.

Taseer had been in the center of a major national controversy on this law. According to Dawn:

 

“Mr Taseer had few friends left in his last days. His outspoken defence of the Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy under questionable charges leveled against her by fellow Muslim villagers and who has been on the death row in a Punjab prison for over a year awaiting appeal in a higher court, made him a hate figure for extremist and Islamist outfits and parties. Major religious parties called out nationwide strikes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to demand Aasia Bibi’s execution under the controversial blasphemy law, and to condemn her sympathisers, Mr Taseer being one of the foremost public figures amongst the latter group and thus the object of hate.”

In the past few weeks, the validity of Pakistan’s blasphemy law in Islam has been debated by Pakistani scholars. Two articles have been translated by MEMRI, and summarized as follows:

 

“In the following two articles, Pakistani writers Abbas Zaidi and Dr. Mohammad Taqi debate the implications and rationale of the controversial blasphemy law in Pakistan. In the first article, titled “The Blasphemer Must Not Be Pardoned,” Abbas Zaidi, a sociolinguist, argues that the clerics should not be allowed to have their way, as it will embolden the clerics, causing further such threats to the nearly five billion people who are not Muslim.In the second article, titled “Blasphemy Laws: What Does the Koran Say?” prominent writer Dr. Mohammad Taqi argues that the Holy Koran and Sunnah, i.e. the deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, do not prescribe any punishment for a blasphemer. He reasons that the clerics are misusing a Koranic verse dealing with war and sedition to call for the death penalty for blasphemy.”

What’s always significant about these issues is that Islamist extremists are always justifying their mass murders, even of civilians, by claiming the most extreme interpretations of Islamic history and beliefs, and these interpretations are almost never supported by other Muslim scholars.

Pakistan has been the target of a steady stream of al-Qaeda and Taliban linked terrorist attacks, often targeting Sufi and Shia Muslim shrines and worshippers.

Pakistan is already in the middle of major financial and political crises. The government is close to collapse anyway, as two political parties pulled out of the PPP’s governing coalition. Pakistan has a huge budget deficit, and the economy is also collapsing as well, according to Financial Times (Access). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stopped a payment of $3.5 billion of its $11.3 billion loan to Pakistan, because has not raised taxes as demanded by the IMF.

As if that weren’t enough, major floods last year affected 20% of Pakistan’s land mass, making 7.5 million people homeless. In Sindh province, the heart of the PPP, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled into the port city of Karachi, making the city almost ungovernable. Hundreds were killed in the ensuing violence.

So it’s not surprising that the assassination of Taseer has caused panic in Karachi, according to Dawn. Many stores were closed and people stayed at home, fearing a violent backlash against the assassination. However, no signficant violence has occurred so far.

Troubles just seem to just pile upon troubles in Pakistan. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Pakistan and India are headed for a genocidal ethnic and religious war, refighting the war between Muslims and Hindus that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into Pakistan and India.

It’s impossible to predict exactly what scenario will lead to that war, but the continuing deterioration of Pakistan is certainly part of it.

Additional links

Saturday’s bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, is being blamed on an al-Qaeda linked Egyptian terrorist group known as Salafis. They had been calling for violence against Christians, and they are thought to be behind online instructional videos explaining how to build a bomb, and providing the locations of churches to target, including the one that was bombed. Associated Press

Internal divisions within the Palestinian Authority are growing, as Former security strongman Muhammad Dahlan was interrogated on Tuesday on charges of planning a military coup against president Mahmoud Abbas. Jerusalem Post

One of the most peculiar facets of the recent collapse in Mideast peace talks was the story that the Obama administration offered Israel a squadron of jet fighters in return for a 90-day extension to the West Bank settlement freeze. The story at the time was that Israel refused the offer, but on Monday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was willing to agree to the 90-day extension, but that U.S. officials withdrew the offer. “The Americans were right in saying that the settlement freeze will lead to a dead end, in which we would have entered an endless path of settlement freezes, but despite it all I agreed to go through with it,” he said. Haaretz

A campaign to reverse the excommunication 110 years ago of the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy has been refused by the Russian Orthodox Church, who blame him for aiding the Bolshevik Revolution. As the centennial anniversary of his November 20, 1910, death approached, the church issued a statement acknowledging Tolstoy’s “unforgettable, beautiful works,” and said that Russian Orthodox readers were allowed to say solitary prayers for him on the anniversary of his death. NY Times

On the heels of a record-cold December, long-range forecasts indicate that January could be the coldest across the United States since the 1980s. AccuWeather

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jan-11 News — Pakistan’s crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

4-Jan-11 News — Republicans say they’ll cut government spending
Palestinians to submit anti-settlement resolution to U.N. Security Council

Republicans say they’ll cut government spending

Now that the Republicans are in the substantial majority in the House of Representatives, they’re planning to cut spending, in order to reduce the budget deficit.

Here’s what the Republicans plan to do, according to an analysis in the Wall Street Journal (Access):

 

“House Republicans are pledging to cut spending, and one early sign they’re serious is the rules package they are bringing to the House floor tomorrow. More than the last time it held power, the GOP is changing the rules to make it harder to tax and spend. …In their new rules, Republicans are giving paygo the heave-ho and substituting a rule called “cut as you go.” From now on, increases in mandatory spending—for new or existing entitlements—will require that spending be cut by an equal or greater amount elsewhere in the budget. …

These new rules are … a welcome sign that Republicans understand their November mandate and are thinking strategically about how to fulfill it.”

The article lists a few more rules changes that I’ve omitted, in order to avoid tedium.

So the Republicans are “pledging to cut spending,” but nowhere in this sympathetic analysis is anything that points to any places where actual spending will be cut. The most that can be said is that in a few trivial cases, some small spending increases will be avoided.

In 2008, I wrote the article, “One, Two, Three … Infinity,” in which I compared to the ever-increasing government spending plans to a book by George Gamow that I read in school in the 1950s.

My use of that particular phrase was to convey the idea that American debt was on an exponential growth path that would not be stopped except by a major financial collapse and crisis.

A few rules changes will not stop the deficit’s exponential growth path. The whole idea is a big joke, typical of the jokes that we always see in Washington.

It’s easy now, at the beginning of 2011, to fantasize reducing the deficit. But it’s politically impossible to cut any government spending program or to increase taxes. Therefore, the deficit will only increase.

Furthermore, there’s no way of knowing what crises will occur during 2011. The global economy is far more fragile today than it was a year ago.

In the US, the shadow inventory of foreclosed and distressed real estate has grown to something like 7-8 million homes. Those foreclosed homes are being held off the market by bankers who are waiting for home prices to increase. Once it sinks in that home prices are only going to decrease, there’s a possibility of a full scale panic, with a million or two homes suddenly dumped on the market.

China has a massive real estate bubble that could burst at any time. China’s quantitative easing program has pushed up the prices of real estate and commodities, and I understand that food prices have increased 30% in the last year.

Europe’s financial crisis has been out of the news for the holidays, but few people believe that there won’t be major crises coming, like the ones that Greece and Ireland experienced last year, requiring bailouts. Pundits have also been pointing out that US states like California and Illinois may also go bankrupt in 2011.

As far as I can tell, the assumption that almost everyone is making is that the economy is going to take off in 2011. The next assumption is that this will cause all financial problems to simply melt away. But as we’ve said many times, what they’re hoping for is a reflating of the real estate and credit bubbles of five years ago, and that cannot happen.

One way that we know that a major financial crisis is yet to come is because no serious effort is really being made to reduce the budget deficit. However, the deficit budget must come down, one way or another, and therefore a major financial crisis of some kind, probably forcing a US Treasury default, must occur.

Additional links

The Palestinians are drafting a carefully worded resolution, to be presented to the U.N. Security Council, declaring that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are a major obstacle to ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The wording of the resolution will mirror criticisms of Israel by the Obama administration in recent months, so that the U.S. will be politically unable to veto the resolution in the Security Council. “It’s a very moderate resolution by design because we don’t want the U.S. to veto it,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday. “We want the international community to tell Israel that the settlements are against international law.” LA Times

Following Saturday’s bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Egypt, killing 21, Germany’s Coptic Christian community has also reported receiving threats from radical Muslims. Spiegel

The government of Greece plans to build a 206 km (128 mile) wall along the land border between Greece and Turkey, in order to keep out unwanted migrants. Each month, thousands of migrants, many from Africa and Asia, have been crossing from Turkey into Greece, using it as an entry point into the European Union. Many of them have been put into detention camps that have been called “degrading.” The fence will be modeled along the 1,050 km fence along the U.S. border with Mexico. EU Observer

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jan-11 News — Republicans say they’ll cut government spending thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

Watching the pot come to a boil

“Watching the pot come to a boil”

Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
Dynamics

http://www.generationaldynamics.com/cgi-bin/D.PL?d=ww2010.weblog&i=e110105#e110105

5-Jan-11 News — Pakistan’s crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated
Egypt Christian church bombing blamed on Salafi terrorists

Pakistan’s crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province and a senior politician in the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP),was assassinated on Tuesday by one of his own bodyguards, significantly worsening Pakistan’s financial and political crises.

This is the highest profile assassination since the the December, 2008, assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a leading Shia Muslim figure and daughter of the founder of the PPP. She was assassinated just two weeks prior to an election in which she was expected to win the office of Prime Minister.

After her death, her widowed husband, Asif Ali Zardari, became president of Pakistan. Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, another PPP associate of Bhutto, later became Prime Minister. And Tasser became governor of Punjab, Pakistan’s largest and most important province.

Taseer was shot in broad daylight on an Islamabad street by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the “Elite Force” that were supposed to protect him, according to Pakistan’s Daily Times. Taseer was shot 27 times in the back. Qadri was arrested along with nine other members of the Elite Force, who had allegedly conspired with Qadri.

Qadri confessed to the killed, and blamed it on Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which forbids blaspheming Mohammed or Islam.

Taseer had been in the center of a major national controversy on this law. According to Dawn:

 

“Mr Taseer had few friends left in his last days. His outspoken defence of the Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy under questionable charges leveled against her by fellow Muslim villagers and who has been on the death row in a Punjab prison for over a year awaiting appeal in a higher court, made him a hate figure for extremist and Islamist outfits and parties. Major religious parties called out nationwide strikes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to demand Aasia Bibi’s execution under the controversial blasphemy law, and to condemn her sympathisers, Mr Taseer being one of the foremost public figures amongst the latter group and thus the object of hate.”

In the past few weeks, the validity of Pakistan’s blasphemy law in Islam has been debated by Pakistani scholars. Two articles have been translated by MEMRI, and summarized as follows:

 

“In the following two articles, Pakistani writers Abbas Zaidi and Dr. Mohammad Taqi debate the implications and rationale of the controversial blasphemy law in Pakistan. In the first article, titled “The Blasphemer Must Not Be Pardoned,” Abbas Zaidi, a sociolinguist, argues that the clerics should not be allowed to have their way, as it will embolden the clerics, causing further such threats to the nearly five billion people who are not Muslim.In the second article, titled “Blasphemy Laws: What Does the Koran Say?” prominent writer Dr. Mohammad Taqi argues that the Holy Koran and Sunnah, i.e. the deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, do not prescribe any punishment for a blasphemer. He reasons that the clerics are misusing a Koranic verse dealing with war and sedition to call for the death penalty for blasphemy.”

What’s always significant about these issues is that Islamist extremists are always justifying their mass murders, even of civilians, by claiming the most extreme interpretations of Islamic history and beliefs, and these interpretations are almost never supported by other Muslim scholars.

Pakistan has been the target of a steady stream of al-Qaeda and Taliban linked terrorist attacks, often targeting Sufi and Shia Muslim shrines and worshippers.

Pakistan is already in the middle of major financial and political crises. The government is close to collapse anyway, as two political parties pulled out of the PPP’s governing coalition. Pakistan has a huge budget deficit, and the economy is also collapsing as well, according to Financial Times (Access). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stopped a payment of $3.5 billion of its $11.3 billion loan to Pakistan, because has not raised taxes as demanded by the IMF.

As if that weren’t enough, major floods last year affected 20% of Pakistan’s land mass, making 7.5 million people homeless. In Sindh province, the heart of the PPP, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled into the port city of Karachi, making the city almost ungovernable. Hundreds were killed in the ensuing violence.

So it’s not surprising that the assassination of Taseer has caused panic in Karachi, according to Dawn. Many stores were closed and people stayed at home, fearing a violent backlash against the assassination. However, no signficant violence has occurred so far.

Troubles just seem to just pile upon troubles in Pakistan. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Pakistan and India are headed for a genocidal ethnic and religious war, refighting the war between Muslims and Hindus that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into Pakistan and India.

It’s impossible to predict exactly what scenario will lead to that war, but the continuing deterioration of Pakistan is certainly part of it.

Additional links

Saturday’s bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, is being blamed on an al-Qaeda linked Egyptian terrorist group known as Salafis. They had been calling for violence against Christians, and they are thought to be behind online instructional videos explaining how to build a bomb, and providing the locations of churches to target, including the one that was bombed. Associated Press

Internal divisions within the Palestinian Authority are growing, as Former security strongman Muhammad Dahlan was interrogated on Tuesday on charges of planning a military coup against president Mahmoud Abbas. Jerusalem Post

One of the most peculiar facets of the recent collapse in Mideast peace talks was the story that the Obama administration offered Israel a squadron of jet fighters in return for a 90-day extension to the West Bank settlement freeze. The story at the time was that Israel refused the offer, but on Monday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was willing to agree to the 90-day extension, but that U.S. officials withdrew the offer. “The Americans were right in saying that the settlement freeze will lead to a dead end, in which we would have entered an endless path of settlement freezes, but despite it all I agreed to go through with it,” he said. Haaretz

A campaign to reverse the excommunication 110 years ago of the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy has been refused by the Russian Orthodox Church, who blame him for aiding the Bolshevik Revolution. As the centennial anniversary of his November 20, 1910, death approached, the church issued a statement acknowledging Tolstoy’s “unforgettable, beautiful works,” and said that Russian Orthodox readers were allowed to say solitary prayers for him on the anniversary of his death. NY Times

On the heels of a record-cold December, long-range forecasts indicate that January could be the coldest across the United States since the 1980s. AccuWeather

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jan-11 News — Pakistan’s crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

4-Jan-11 News — Republicans say they’ll cut government spending
Palestinians to submit anti-settlement resolution to U.N. Security Council

Republicans say they’ll cut government spending

Now that the Republicans are in the substantial majority in the House of Representatives, they’re planning to cut spending, in order to reduce the budget deficit.

Here’s what the Republicans plan to do, according to an analysis in the Wall Street Journal (Access):

 

“House Republicans are pledging to cut spending, and one early sign they’re serious is the rules package they are bringing to the House floor tomorrow. More than the last time it held power, the GOP is changing the rules to make it harder to tax and spend. …In their new rules, Republicans are giving paygo the heave-ho and substituting a rule called “cut as you go.” From now on, increases in mandatory spending—for new or existing entitlements—will require that spending be cut by an equal or greater amount elsewhere in the budget. …

These new rules are … a welcome sign that Republicans understand their November mandate and are thinking strategically about how to fulfill it.”

The article lists a few more rules changes that I’ve omitted, in order to avoid tedium.

So the Republicans are “pledging to cut spending,” but nowhere in this sympathetic analysis is anything that points to any places where actual spending will be cut. The most that can be said is that in a few trivial cases, some small spending increases will be avoided.

In 2008, I wrote the article, “One, Two, Three … Infinity,” in which I compared to the ever-increasing government spending plans to a book by George Gamow that I read in school in the 1950s.

My use of that particular phrase was to convey the idea that American debt was on an exponential growth path that would not be stopped except by a major financial collapse and crisis.

A few rules changes will not stop the deficit’s exponential growth path. The whole idea is a big joke, typical of the jokes that we always see in Washington.

It’s easy now, at the beginning of 2011, to fantasize reducing the deficit. But it’s politically impossible to cut any government spending program or to increase taxes. Therefore, the deficit will only increase.

Furthermore, there’s no way of knowing what crises will occur during 2011. The global economy is far more fragile today than it was a year ago.

In the US, the shadow inventory of foreclosed and distressed real estate has grown to something like 7-8 million homes. Those foreclosed homes are being held off the market by bankers who are waiting for home prices to increase. Once it sinks in that home prices are only going to decrease, there’s a possibility of a full scale panic, with a million or two homes suddenly dumped on the market.

China has a massive real estate bubble that could burst at any time. China’s quantitative easing program has pushed up the prices of real estate and commodities, and I understand that food prices have increased 30% in the last year.

Europe’s financial crisis has been out of the news for the holidays, but few people believe that there won’t be major crises coming, like the ones that Greece and Ireland experienced last year, requiring bailouts. Pundits have also been pointing out that US states like California and Illinois may also go bankrupt in 2011.

As far as I can tell, the assumption that almost everyone is making is that the economy is going to take off in 2011. The next assumption is that this will cause all financial problems to simply melt away. But as we’ve said many times, what they’re hoping for is a reflating of the real estate and credit bubbles of five years ago, and that cannot happen.

One way that we know that a major financial crisis is yet to come is because no serious effort is really being made to reduce the budget deficit. However, the deficit budget must come down, one way or another, and therefore a major financial crisis of some kind, probably forcing a US Treasury default, must occur.

Additional links

The Palestinians are drafting a carefully worded resolution, to be presented to the U.N. Security Council, declaring that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are a major obstacle to ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The wording of the resolution will mirror criticisms of Israel by the Obama administration in recent months, so that the U.S. will be politically unable to veto the resolution in the Security Council. “It’s a very moderate resolution by design because we don’t want the U.S. to veto it,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday. “We want the international community to tell Israel that the settlements are against international law.” LA Times

Following Saturday’s bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Egypt, killing 21, Germany’s Coptic Christian community has also reported receiving threats from radical Muslims. Spiegel

The government of Greece plans to build a 206 km (128 mile) wall along the land border between Greece and Turkey, in order to keep out unwanted migrants. Each month, thousands of migrants, many from Africa and Asia, have been crossing from Turkey into Greece, using it as an entry point into the European Union. Many of them have been put into detention camps that have been called “degrading.” The fence will be modeled along the 1,050 km fence along the U.S. border with Mexico. EU Observer

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jan-11 News — Republicans say they’ll cut government spending thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

3-Jan-11 News — Britain celebrates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible
Home prices expected to fall another 30%

Britain celebrates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible

The year 2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the completion of the King James Bible, possibly the most influential English language book in history.


Psalm 23, King James Version
Psalm 23, King James Version

In his 2011 New Year message, the Archbishop of Canterbury said:

 

“When we try to make sense of our lives and of who we really are, it helps to have a strongly-defined story, a big picture of some kind in the background. As the King James Bible took hold of the imaginations of millions of people in the English-speaking world, it gave them just that – a big picture, a story in which their lives made sense.”

An article in the Independent has collected together some of the common English language phrases that originally appeared in the 1611 edition of the King James Bible:

 

“Today it is a commonplace to note that the words and rhythms of the KJB and its source translations shape the speech of countless millions who never open a bible or enter a church. Somehow, the language of the 1611 version never falls from grace (Galatians 5.4) even if its message falls on stony ground (Mark 4.5). In a secular age where ignorance of religion goes from strength to strength (Psalms 84.7) among lovers of filthy lucre (1 Timothy 3.8) who only want to eat, drink and be merry (Luke 12.19), we know for a certainty (Joshua 23.13) that these resonant words endure as a fly in the ointment (Ecclesiastes 10.1) and a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12.7) of the powers that be (Romans 13.1). They can still set the teeth on edge (Jeremiah 31.29) of those who try to worship God and Mammon (Matthew 6.24). But does this ancient book, proof that there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1.9), now cast its pearls before swine (Matthew 7.6), and act as a voice crying in the wilderness (Luke 3.4) – a drop in a bucket (Isaiah 40.15) of unbelief, no longer a sign of the times (Matthew 16.3) but a verbal stumbling-block (Leviticus 19.14) or else all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9.22) while the blind lead the blind (Matthew 15.14)?”

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the King James Bible was the product of a generational Awakening era. Awakening eras are those spectacular times of new ideas and new revolutions that appear midway between two crisis wars. Important Awakening eras in world history include the golden age of ancient Greece, the ministry of Jesus Christ, and the life of Mohammed and birth of Islam. (See Generational Dynamics: Great Awakenings in World History.)

When King James took the throne of England in 1603, England was just recovering from the previous crisis war with Spain, which had climaxed with the failed attack of the ‘Invincible’ Spanish Armada in 1588. The war was seen as confrontation between the Catholics and the heretical Protestants, and the Armada attack was strongly supported by the Catholics and seen as the will of God.

In the generational Recovery era that followed the disastrous collapse of the Armada attack, both sides concluded that the English victory was through divine intervention. In England, this resulted in the strengthening of the doctrine of divine right of Kings. The King would be second in authority only to God, and certainly not second in authority to the Pope in Rome.

King James particularly adopted this doctrine. But as always happens, the kids growing up after a generational crisis war rebel against the austere rules and institutions set up by the survivors, who only wish to guarantee that no such war will ever happen again. This leads to a “generation gap,” such as happened in America and Europe in the 1960s, and in Iran in the last two years.

In 1603, this generation gap led to a remarkable event known as the Millenary Petition. Hundreds of Puritan reformist clergy expressed their outrage at what they called “popisms” — rituals and procedures that too closely resembled the practices of the Pope and the Catholic Church.

At the heart of the political dispute were arguments over the best translation of the Bible into English. There were several translations available, including one favored by the Puritans and one favored by King James and the traditionalists.

In order to resolve the political dispute, the King created a committee of Puritan and traditional religious leaders, the Hampton Court Conference of January 1604. It soon became clear that none of the reforms requested by the Puritans would be granted. This led to the flight of Puritans to Amsterdam three years later, and after that to the migration to North America.

But there was one major reform that everyone at the Conference agreed on: An authoritative version of the Bible was required, something in every day English that anyone could understand. This led to the commissioning of a new Bible translation, resulting in the King James Bible in 1611.

The conflict over the doctrine of divine right of Kings did not go away, however, as Parliament was demanding greater power over taxation and policy. Disagreements between the King and Parliament led to England’s next crisis war, the bloody English Civil War (also called the “Puritan Revolution”) of the 1640s, climaxing in the beheading of King Charles I in 1649.

The monarchy was abolished, and England had no King until the monarchy was restored in 1660 with Charles’ son, Charles II, as King, but with vastly reduced powers. The divine right of Kings remained in name only until the next generational Awakening era climaxed in 1689 with the Glorious Revolution. The relationship between the monarchy and Parliament was finally sealed for good in the next crisis war, the War of the Spanish Succession, of the 1700s decade.

In generational theory, great ideas are launched during Awakening eras, and either established or extinguished during subsequent Crisis eras. The Awakening era of the 1600s and 1610s decades was one of the most important in English history, resulting in the King James Bible and the Puritan Revolution. It was also important in American history, because it led to the Puritan migration to North America, and to the rejection of the monarchy that created the United States of America.

Role of English Catholics in Armada attack

While researching this report, I came across the article from the Catholic New Advent encyclopedia on the Spanish Armada attack on England in 1588. The article describes how Catholics throughout Europe supported the Spanish Armada attack against the hated Protestant Queen Elizabeth. But the article contains the following paragraph:

 

“There is no doubt that all the exiles for religion at that time shared Allen’s sentiments, but not so the Catholics in England. They had always been the most conservative of English parties. The resentment they felt at being persecuted led them to blame the queen’s ministers, but not to question her right to rule. To them the great power of Elizabeth was evident, the forces and intentions of Spain were unknown quantities. They might, should, and did resist until complete justification was set before them, and this was in fact never attempted. Much, for instance, as we know of the Catholic clergy then laboring in England, we cannot find that any of them used religion to advance the cause of the Armada. Protestant and Catholic contemporaries alike agree that the English Catholics were energetic in their preparations against it.”

According to another source, an English Catholic nobleman, Viscount Montague, led the defense against the Armada.

In other words, the supposedly fanatical, ideological English Catholics, at war with the heretical Protestants, sided with their nation against the Catholics.

I’ve previously mentioned that German-Americans overwhelmingly sided with America against the Nazis in World War II.

(Another example is that millions of Catholics go to Church every Sunday, but they still use birth control at home.)

We should be careful before we condemn all Muslims who are citizens of America or Europe. These people are going to be on our loyal allies, and we’re going to need their help when the time comes.

Additional links


Home price index versus long-term trend (WSJ)
Home price index versus long-term trend (WSJ)

Home prices will have to fall another 30% from their current values, according to an analysis of the Case-Shiller home price index by Peter Schiff. Historically, US home prices have increased an average of 3.35% per year, just a little bit more than the rate of inflation. But since 1998, home prices have risen an average of 19.2% per year, putting them way above the long-term trend line, as shown by the adjoining graph. Home prices would have to decline 20% just to get back to the historic trend line, but Schiff says they’re likely to overshoot the trend line, and fall by 30%. (This is an application of the Law of Mean Reversion.) According to Schiff, if the government hadn’t intervened in the housing market, and had allowed prices to fall, then a lot more people would be able to afford homes now, and the real estate crisis would end sooner.Wall Street Journal (Access)

Bubble real estate prices in Beijing are putting homes out of reach of college graduates. It used to be that college graduates with degrees in English, international trade and computer science were in high demand. But now supply has surpassed demand, and the average monthly wage of a recent graduate from a top Chinese university is around $400 per month — just enough to buy half a square meter of an apartment in downtown Beijing. CNN

Anarchist and left-wing violence are on the rise in Europe. Time

Dozens of Coptic Christians clashed with Egyptian riot police in Cairo on Sunday, following the Saturday bomb attack at a church in Alexandria that killed 21 people. Coptic Christians will be celebrating Christmas on January 6. Bloomberg

The six-month rotating presidency of the European Union has just been assumed by Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whom some call the last dictator in Europe. Orban has vowed to solve the “Roma problem” in Europe, but Hungary itself has a bit Roma Gypsies problem, with discrimination and numerous hate crimes directed against the Roma Gypsies. Spiegel

German officials suspect that mosques in Berlin are becoming the targets of arson and hate crimes. Spiegel

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jan-11 News — Britain celebrates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jan-2011) Permanent Link

2-Jan-11 News — Worldwide condemnation for terrorist attack on Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt
Accusations of a pattern of attacks against Christians

Worldwide condemnation for terrorist attack on Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt

Raw sectarian tensions in Egypt have been exposed by the car bombing of a Coptic Christian church that killed 21 people in Alexandria, Egypt, according to Al-Jazeera.

The bombing sparked violent protests by furious Coptic Christians, and clashes with police in Alexandria. Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt’s 80 million population.

Politicians and Muslim leaders throughout the Middle East condemned the bombing, according to VOA. Hamas issued a press statement condemning the bombing, according to Al-Ahram.

However, many politicians in the West saw this as part of a continuing pattern of radical Muslim extremist attacks on Christians. An LA Times analysis points to recent terrorist attacks on Christians in Iraq, Nigeria and other countries, and point out that Christian communities in countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iran are shrinking, as Christians emigrate.

A terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda is suspected of being responsible for the Alexandria bombing, according to Ynet.

The accusation that al-Qaeda is attacking Christians is true, but it’s only a small part of the picture. Al-Qaeda linked groups attack Shia Muslims, Sufis, Sikhs, Hindus and other religious groups in different countries.

As we’ve said many times, the al-Qaeda strategy is to replicate Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, in order to turn another country into an Islamic state, this time a Sunni state. They’ve tried this, and continuted to try it, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries, and now Egypt.

The methodology is to trigger violence on the left and xenophobia on the right, and al-Qaeda appears to be succeeding.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jan-11 News — Terrorist attack on Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jan-2011) Permanent Link