Bits and Pieces – 20180314, Wednesday

Trade  Wars: We are at the early stage of a global trade war. Whether it escalates or can be ended without too much damage remains to be seen.

Today (Wednesday) the new US trade figures came out with the deficit at an all-time high. Trump will use this to entrench his position: Fuel For The Protectionist Fire: US Trade Deficit Surges, Ex-Petroleum At All Time High. The political basis for staging a trade war is presented in the following article: Barclays: Trade Wars Are Economically Costly But “Smart Politics”.

In the meantime there’s not a lot out of our government other than to say that they are not pleased: Trudeau calls Trump’s trade war ‘unacceptable’ as Canadian officials reach out to U.S. administration. Silence on Canada’s part may in fact be a wise strategy unless the silence indicates they have no clue on how to respond.

On the other hand, Trump is Trump: White House: Mexico, Canada could receive tariff exemptions. And as it turns out, the pressure on Canada shifts to NAFTA where permanent exemption depends on a satisfactory (to the US) agreement: Here Are The Full Details Of The “Negotiable” Tariffs Trump Will Enact.

Before going to press we have this article: Here Comes The Main Event: Trade War With China, And What Is Section 301. China has an important card in its hand however. Trump is using the excuse of “national security” as the basis for his trade war moves. China has a global monopoly on rare earth elements  (REEs): China’s Monopoly on Rare Earth Elements Tightens With Purchase of US Mine. They could simply declare the rees to be vital to their national security and prevent expot. They are in fact critical because virtually all modern technology requires them for the fabrication of electronic components and high-strength magnets among other things. The US response would likely be a kinetic war.

WWIII: Don’t forget that when there are big troubles at home, countries traditionally start a war to divert the attention of the populace. Britain seems to be moving in that direction: Russia Slams “Unprecedented, Hostile” UK Action, Vows Retaliation. Theresa May should however pay attention to Putin: Russia Threatens UK: “One Does Not Give 24Hrs Notice To A Nuclear Power”.

Does Britain yet have problems enough? Maybe – here ae a few: UK Gas Crisis: Out Of The Frying Pan Into The Fire.

The American Empire (AE): I was wondering … Why Canada Defends Ukrainian Fascism.

Here is a lovely article by George Friedman that explains the dynamics behind the rise and fall of the British Empire and the rise of the AE: The Geopolitics of Britain. If we define aggression against another country as warfare, then one can note the forms of warfare that Britain has used besides kinetic wars. This helps frame the various forms of warfare active today such as trade, sanctions, naval blockades, and economic restrictions such as the denial of access to SWIFT for payments.

Canada Corner: The last time the BIS reported on the risk to the Canadian banking  system I referenced it (Bits and Pieces – 20170310, Friday). Their latest report again places Canada third behind China and Hong Kong (first): Early warning indicators of banking crises: expanding the family and Bank for International Settlements says Canada is showing early warning signs of financial crisis.

In the following table from the publication, the first two columns are critical. The red background means that conditions exceed conditions that historically proceeded a credit or banking crisis two thirds of the time within three years. Here’s the table:

If we call the red boxes high risk and the yellow boxes medium risk, of the 4 categories and for the countries shown, Canada is the only country with all boxes coloured. So you had better develop a good defensive strategy.

Personal Development: How to build muscle as age tears it down. Key points are:

  • The most important intervention against muscle loss is strength training;
    • choose a weight or level of resistance that you have a hard time performing more than 10 to 15 reps – times in a row;
    • resting 3 to 7 minutes between sets;
    • perform 2 to 3 sets per major muscle group (legs, back, chest, arms, shoulders) at least twice a week;
    • consume protein and some carbohydrates within 30 to 40 minutes after a workout; and
    • allow several days between strength workouts.
  • For older adults:
    •  use protein levels that are higher than dietary guidelines;
    • animal proteins (dairy, chicken, fish, eggs and lean red meat) are complete proteins;
    • plant protein (soy, peanuts and beans) is not as easily digested or absorbed;
    • divide your total protein intake evenly throughout meals in the day;
  • Regular cardiovascular exercise such as walking, jogging or biking.
  • Besides reducing sugar and highly processed refined carbohydrates, eat colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and moderate amounts of healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado).
  • Have your vitamin D levels checked by your doctor.

And one for the mind: Want to Reduce Brain Fog And Improve Clear Thinking? Give up These Things Immediately. Key points are:

  • Get rid of clutter in all areas of your life to reduce stress and anxiety;
  • complete one task at a time. Narrow important tasks don to 3, select one and use single focus on it before rotating to another;
  • distinguish between urgent but not important tasks and important tasks
  • stop feeding your comfort. New experience and activity are essential to brain health;
  • do 30–45 minutes of brisk walking, three times a week to help fend off the mental wear and tear;
  • don’t sit still – moving your body can improve your cognitive function;
  • limit your mass media consumption and replace passive mental diversion with creative thinking and activity.

Bits and Pieces: The revolving door of the White House has been busy lately (The Trump White House Is Losing One Senior Staff Member Every 20 Days and since this post, Rex Tillerson and his deputy Steve Goldstein). Here are the replacements: It’s Impossible to Overstate How Terrible Mike Pompeo Is. On deck to go is: Andrew McCabe To Be Fired Days Ahead Of Retirement: NYT. Trump may at last be fashioning a team that suits his objectives which may have become gradually clear to him.

Whether Sessions can survive remains to be seen since there have been rumours of his removal. There is a lot of of house cleaning to be done at the DOJ, the big one being Robert Mueller. As we go to press, White House Purge Rumblings: Kelly, McMaster, Carson, Shulkin On Chopping Block.

The rush for Mars is on. Elon Musk (the guy that just sent one of his – appropriately? – Tesla roadsters to Mars to open the first auto scrap yard there: Where Is Starman? Track Elon Musk’s Roadster as It Zooms Through Space.), is itching to colonize the planet and Trump is ready to police it. And just in time – the ashtrays of Earth are full. How deliciously ironic.

It would seem that we have to accept the idea that there are UFOs. Think through the ramifications! “What The F— Is That Thing?”: Fast Moving UFO Stuns U.S. Navy Pilots. A couple of questions: what form of propulsion; what energy source; how do you protect occupants against the G-forces involved in radical high speed maneuvers and how do you generate such forces; where are they based; who or what is flying them?

These craft demonstrate overwhelming air superiority over our most advanced aircraft in service. If the US, Russia or China possessed them then they would have no need for developing very expensive stealth fighter capability of performance characteristic inferior to the UFOs. I have to spend some time with this one. Disclaimer: as a teenager, I joined BUFORA.

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