Bits and Pieces – 20170818, Friday

Commentary: I have commented briefly in the past about the evolution of retail in North America and the impact on urban development. Small town, even small city Ontario has seen its municipal core hollowed out and decay as small retailers vanished to be replaced by big box retailers and shopping malls on municipal outskirts where roads allowed access from a wider  dispersed population of suburban and rural dwellers. The collapse of shopping malls has been well documented in the US over the last year in particular. This corresponds with the collapse of the bricks and mortar retailers who are approaching or who have entered chapter 11. As an example, read: State of Retail: JCPenny Plunges, Now a “Penny” Stock; Amazon to Blame?

This week a new a new phase has been recognized as the end point of this process: Battle of the Behemoths, and Amazon and Walmart Battle for Retail’s Future. We have seen reports of towns in fly-over America where the Walmart has closed leaving citizens with no local source of products, especially food.

Civil Unrest: I have ignored Charlottesville but that might prove to be a big mistake.

WWIII: The NK situations continues to grow: Trump: “Military Solutions Are Now Fully In Place, Locked And Loaded”. China counters: China Warns Trump: “We Will Prevent A North Korea Regime Change”. However, there is a lot of commentary suggesting that there are still options for a negotiated settlement. For example, listen to Dr. Stephen Leeb’s analysis: The Korean Crisis, China And Gold. Also, here is a short analysis by George Friedman: North Korea’s Rational Analysis. Also, the US is not prepared to fight a major war or even a regional one in the Korean peninsula according to this readiness report: One Of The Greats In The Business Just Issued This Dire Warning. A similar article looked at the state of certain institutions in NK in terms of war preparedness and concluded that they are not yet near a war footing.

Martin Armstrong has a good piece on Kim Jong-Un: Understanding Kim Jong-Un. He thinks negotiation won’t work. Meanwhile, here are some of the game pieces: Mapping Major US Military Bases Near North Korea.

The conclusion I would reach is that although the rhetoric is intense, we are some time away from war in the Korean peninsula.

The American Empire (AE): With the US experiencing economic extremes unseen in recent history – trillion dollar budget deficits, a 20 trillion dollar debt, and social assistance programs shortly to run out of money and require direct annual and increasing fiscal support – the question may be asked at what point the cost of empire becomes unsupportable: US Military Presence Overseas Mushrooming: Here, There and Everywhere. The legions are even moving into Moldova: Moldova To Become Foothold For US Military, and maybe the Ukraine: Ukraine Hosts US Military To Be Permanently Stationed On Its Soil. NATO is one thing but actual US legionnaires is another. If you listen, you can hear the fat lady warming up in the wings.

Canada Corner: We are not spared: Canada Sends Soldiers To Popular Border Crossing.

Climate: I haven’t research sea ice variability but here is a readable paper that does: What do we know about Arctic sea ice trends? It is notable that 6000 years ago the Arctic sea ice coverage was considerably less than today. Also, that climate models can not predict sea ice coverage.

Bits and Pieces: It won’t stop them from coming (hint: not North African migrants or locusts): South Korea Introduces World’s First Robot Tax.

If it was really an inside job, it’s still possible it might have Russian connections such as the perpetrator’s discovering where Russia is on the map in 8th grade geography class: A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack. So don’t put away your Russophobia yet.

For fans of Niel Howe: Fourth Turning’s Neil Howe Fears “Strong Parallels” Between 1930s And Today: “It’s Going To Be A Rollercoaster Ride”.

I started early this morning. Already I don’t need a coffee: This Picture Of Mike Pence ‘Triggered’ An Entire Campus Of California Private College Kids and Denmark Offers Homes, Education To Jihadists In “Hug A Terrorist” Rehab Program.

Here is a brief history of the shifts in power in the Middle East between the Sunni and Shia factions of Islam: A Brief History of the Imbalance of Power in the Middle East.

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