Australia formally recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing decades of Middle East policy, but will not move its embassy there immediately, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday.
We are the Little Folk—we!
Too little to love or to hate.
Leave us alone and you’ll see
How we can drag down the State!
A Pict Song, Rudyard Kipling
Belgium has joined the list of countries that are rebelling against their elected leadership. Over the weekend the Belgian government fell over Prime Minister Charles Michel’s trip to Morocco to sign the United Nations Migration Agreement. The agreement made no distinction between legal and illegal migrants and regarded immigration as a positive phenomenon. The Belgian people apparently did not agree. Facebook registered 1,200 Belgians agreeing that the Prime Minister was a traitor. Some users expressed concern for their children’s futures, noting that Belgian democracy is dead. Others said they would get yellow vests and join the protests.
The unrest witnessed in a number of places is focused on some specific demands but it represents much broader anger. The French yellow vests initially protested against proposed increases in fuel taxes that would have affected working people dependent on transportation disproportionately. But when that demand was met by the government of President Emmanuel Macron, the demonstrations continued and even grew, suggesting that the grievances with the government were far more extensive than the issue of a single new tax. Perhaps not surprisingly, the French government is seeking for a scapegoat and is investigating “Russian interference.” The US State Department inevitably agrees, claiming that Kremlin directed websites and social media are “amplifying the conflict.”
Some commentators looking somewhat more deeply at the riots in France have even suggested that the real issue just might be regime change, that the Macron government had become so disconnected with many of the voters through both its policies and the rhetoric justifying them that it had lost its legitimacy and there was no possibility of redemption. Any change would have to be an improvement, particularly as a new regime would be particularly sensitive to the sentiments of those being governed, at least initially. One might suggest that the prevailing sentiment that a radical change in government is needed, come what may, to shake up the system might well be called the “Trump phenomenon” as that is more-or-less what happened in the United States.
The idea that republican or democratic government will eventually deteriorate into some form of tyranny is not exactly new. Thomas Jefferson advocated a new revolution every generation to keep the spirit of government accountable to the people alive.
Call it what you will – neoliberalism, neoconservatism or globalism – the new world order, as recently deceased President George H.W. Bush once labeled it, characteristically embraces a world community in which there is free trade, free movement of workers and democracy. They all sound like good things but they are authoritarian in nature, destructive of existing communities and social systems while at the same time enriching those who promote the changes. They have also been the root cause of most of the wars fought since the Second World War, wars to “liberate” people who never asked to be invaded or bombed as part of the process.
And there are, of course, major differences between neoliberals and neoconservatives in terms of how one brings about the universal nirvana, with the liberals embracing some kind of process whereby the transformation takes place because it represents what they see, perhaps cynically, as the moral high ground and is recognized as being the right thing to do. The neocons, however, seek to enforce what they define as international standards because the United States has the power to do so in a process that makes it and its allies impossible to challenge. The latter view is promoted under the phony slogan that “Democracies do not fight other democracies.”
The fact that globalists of every type consider nationalism a threat to their broader ambitions has meant that parochial or domestic interests are often disregarded or even rejected. With that in mind, and focusing on two issues – wholesale unwelcome immigration and corrupt government run by oligarchs – one might reasonably argue that large numbers of ordinary citizens now believe themselves to be both effectively disenfranchised and demonstrably poorer as rewarding work becomes harder to find and communities are destroyed through waves of both legal and illegal immigration.
In the United States, for example, most citizens now believe that the political system does not work at all while almost none think that even when it does work it operates for the well-being of all the citizens. For the first time since the Great Depression, Americans no longer think of upward mobility. Projections by sociologists and economists suggest that the current generation growing up in the United States will likely be materially poorer than their parents. That angst and the desire to “do something” to make government more responsive to voters’ interests is why Donald Trump was elected president.
What has been occurring in Belgium, France, with Brexit in Britain, in the recent election in Italy, and also in the warnings coming from Eastern Europe about immigration and European Union community economic policies are driven by the same concerns that operated in America. Government itself is becoming the enemy. And let us not forget the countries that have already felt the lash and been subjected to the social engineering of Angela Merkel – Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece. All are weaker economies crushed by the one size fits all of the EURO, which eliminated the ability of some governments to manage their own economies. They and all their citizens are poorer for it.
There have been windows in history when the people have had enough abuse and so rise up in revolt. The American and French revolutions come to mind as does 1848. Perhaps we are experiencing something like that at the present time, a revolt against the pressure to conform to globalist values that have been embraced to their benefit by the elites and the establishment in much of the world. It could well become a hard fought and sometimes bloody conflict but its outcome will shape the next century. Will the people really have power in the increasingly globalized world or will it be the 1% with its government and media backing that emerges triumphant?
With 143 buildings 200 meters tall (660 feet) or higher constructed across the globe, 2018 was another hugely impressive year for skyscraper construction.
As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, according to The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the total height of those buildings comes to 35,246 meters – exceeding the length of Manhattan Island if they were laid end-to-end.
China is at the forefront of the boom in skyscraper construction, building 88 in total this year.
You will find more infographics at Statista
The Citic Tower in Beijing was the tallest building completed anywhere in the world in 2018. At 528 meters tall (1,732 feet), with 108 floors above ground, it’s now the eighth-tallest building worldwide and the fourth the tallest in China. The second-tallest skyscraper of 2018 was the 469.5-meter-tall (1,540 feet) Vincom Landmark 81 in Ho Chi Minth City, Vietnam while another Chinese building comes third. The 452 meter high (1,483 feet) Changsha IFS Tower T1 was built in the city of Changsha.
After China, the U.S. comes a distant second in the 2018 skyscraper league with 13 completions while the UAE comes third with 10.
Due to China’s skyward ambitions, Asia is the global hub of skyscraper construction, accounting for 76.2 percent of all completions this year. North America had an 11.2 percent share of the total while the Middle East and Africa had 9.1 percent.
Scientists have decided to publicly attempt a geoengineering experiment. The researchers from Harvard University are going to attempt to use particles to block out the sun in an attempt to save humanity from global warming, and cool the planet.
According to Popular Mechanics, this incredibly bad-sounding idea seems like it stemmed from an actual event. In 1991, the volcano Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines, sending millions of tons of ash and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. This layer of particulates actually lowered global temperatures by almost a full degree Fahrenheit for the following two years.
Researchers speculated that by filling the atmosphere with a similar level of particulates that were shot into the sky during the 1991 eruption, while skipping the lava and explosions, they might be able to reduce global temperatures enough to halt or delay some of the more severe consequences of “climate change.”
But even the most left-leaning of human beings are not on board with attempting to alter the global climate artificially. After all, isn’t that what the tyrants and political elitists the peons continue to vote for keep telling us was the problem in the first place? Any small mistake could radically and permanently destroy the delicate ecosystems and global climates for centuries.
In particular, one study published last year found that spraying particulates into the atmosphere around the Gulf of Mexico could trigger droughts in sub-Saharan Africa. But scientists are attempting to assure everyone that their test won’t have any major effect on the climate.
The test allegedly consists of a high-altitude balloon that will fly several miles into the atmosphere and release less than a pound of calcium carbonate (a less harmful alternative to the sulfur dioxide produced by volcanoes) and then spend about a day flying through the resulting cloud to measure its effects. The purpose of this test is to figure out exactly how the substance behaves in our air so scientists can build more accurate simulations.
Of course, others have gathered a wealth of evidence suggesting that climate manipulation is already occurring right under our noses. Dane Wigington has an entire website titled GeoengineeringWatch.org in which he publishes all of the evidence he’s collected proving that governments have been manipulated the weather for a long time. In fact, they might be responsible for the very “climate change” they blame on the general public and make us all pay for.
The signs of a housing slowdown are starting to reach across New York City and the metro area. For instance, a new Bloomberg article talks about a home in Long Island that recently sat idly on the market until its taxes and its price were both moved lower. As we have already written about earlier this year, buyers in places like Connecticut are looking to rent houses – sometimes even for $10,000 a month – before buying them. Real estate brokers in the metro area and places like Hoboken are noticing business slow down.
Greg Heym, chief economist of Terra Holdings, told Bloomberg:
“Brokers ask me, ‘When is it going to get better? ‘Better’ for this market, in this area, is lower prices.”
It doesn’t matter whether it’s high-rises in the city or homes in the suburbs: years of price appreciation, combined with caps on property tax deductions and rising rates are all guiding prices lower and slowing the market down.
And this is indicative of a broader slowdown that’s occurring across the country. While home prices in other parts of the country haven’t slowed down tremendously, the rate of appreciation is starting to slip, especially in the metro New York area. Prices in the 12 counties including and surrounding New York City grew at only 4% in the third quarter compared to an overall price increase of 4.8% across the United States.
The $10,000 limit on deductions for state and local taxes could be one of the reasons that New York is worse off than the rest of the country. 9 of the 10 US counties with the highest tax obligations are in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut.
Daren Blomquist, Attom’s senior vice president stated:
“Housing in general has quite a few headwinds right now, but the New York area is feeling the brunt of the headwinds. Counties with the slowest appreciation are the ones that tend to have the highest prices and the highest taxes.”
Westchester County is number one on the list of high tax areas. In that county, single-family home sales were down for the fifth quarter in a row. Purchases in the Long Island suburbs were down for two of the last three quarters, including in Nassau County. Bergen County, New Jersey, which has the fourth highest tax burden in the country, showed a 6% drop in third-quarter sales contracts. Buyers used to be OK with paying the higher taxes as a result of having better school districts, but now they are starting to second-guess the extra expense.
Matthew Lenner, a broker with Keller Williams in Long Island, told Bloomberg:
“One of the first questions buyers ask is, ‘Have the owners grieved their taxes?”’
It’s a question that refers to an appeals process with the county’s assessment office that will sometimes allow property taxes to be lowered.
Last month for example, a four bedroom home in Plainview that was listed since June 2017 saw its price cut nearly $100,000 to $899,999 and also had its taxes reworked to try to lower the $28,500 annual tax bill. As they were able to lower the taxes about 20%, interest in the property has increased.
In New Jersey, the new tax law didn’t seem to be a problem – at least until mortgage rates started to creep higher. At that point, it became obvious that “sellers were getting greedy” and that prices would have to adjust.
Jeffrey Otteau, who runs a property valuation firm, stated:
“Sellers have gotten greedy. It’s easier to say ‘blame tax reform’ than to say ‘we need to take an honest look at the price you expect to get for your house.’ Sellers don’t get it.”
Forces are aligning against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, lead by elements within the CIA and strong players in the mainstream media. But what is really behind this deterioration in relationship, and what are its implications?
Following the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, western media and various entities, including the CIA, appear to have turned their back on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS). In response to the scandal, the Guardian released a video which its celebutante, Owen Jones, captioned “Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest threats on Earth. Time to stop propping up its repulsive regime.”
The Guardian was not alone in its condemnation.
“It’s high time to end Saudi impunity,” wrote Hana Al-Khamri in Al-Jazeera. “It’s time for Saudi Arabia to tell the truth on Jamal Khashoggi,” the Washington Post’s Editorial Board argued. Politico called it “the tragedy of Jamal Khashoggi.”
A number of companies began backing away from Saudi money after the journalist’s death, including the world’s largest media companies such as the New York Times, the Economist’s editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes, Arianna Huffington, CNN, CNBC, the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Google Cloud CEO, just to name a few.
The CIA concluded that MBS personally ordered Khashoggi’s death, and was reportedly quite open in its provision of this assessment. Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the UN, also took time out of his schedule to express concern over Saudi Arabia’s confirmation of the killing.
At the time of the scandal, former CIA director John Brennan went on MSNBC to state that the Khashoggi’s death would be the downfall of MBS. Furthermore, the US Senate just voted in favour of ending American involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen (a somewhat symbolic victory, though this is a topic for another article), but nonetheless was a clear stab at MBS personally.
The only person who appeared to continue to uphold America’s unfaltering support for MBS, even after all the publicly made evidence against MBS, was the US president himself. So after years of bombarding Yemen, sponsoring terror groups across the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific and beyond, why is it only now that there has been mounting opposition to Saudi Arabia’s leadership? Let’s just bear in mind that western media had spent years investing in a heavy PR campaign to paint MBS as a “reformer.”
Former national security adviser under Barack Obama’s second term, Susan Rice, wrote an article in the New York Times, in which she called MBS a “partner we can’t depend on.” Rice concludes that MBS is “not and can no longer be viewed as a reliable partner of the United States and our allies.” But why is this? Is it because MBS is responsible for some of the most egregious human rights abuses inside his own kingdom as well as in Yemen? Is it because of MBS’ support for groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda? No, according to Rice, we “should not rupture our important relationship with the kingdom, but we must make it clear it cannot be business as usual so long as Prince Mohammad continues to wield unlimited power.”
One will observe that the latter segment of Rice’s article almost mirrors former CIA director Brennan’s word on MSNBC word for word who stated that:
“I think ultimately this is going to come out. And it’s very important for us to maintain the relations with Saudi Arabia. And if it’s Mohammed bin Salman who’s the cancer here, well, we need to be able to find ways to eliminate the cancer and to move forward with this relationship that is critical to regional stability and our national interests.”
In reality, this is probably the issue that western media and government advisors have taken up with MBS. Aside from the fact he allegedly held a huge hand in the brutal murder of one of their own establishment journalists (Saudi Arabia reportedly tortured and killed another journalist not long after Khashoggi, but western media was eerily silent on this incident) MBS is not opposed for his reckless disregard for human rights. With insight into Rice’s mindset, we actually learn that if the US were to punish MBS, he would be likely to “behave more irresponsibly to demonstrate his independence and exact retribution against his erstwhile Western partners.”
You see, the problem with MBS isn’t that he is a mass murdering war criminal, it is that he is too “independent” for the United States’ liking.
Last week, Saudi Arabia and the other major oil producers met in Vienna at the year’s final big OPEC meeting of the year. As Foreign Policy notes, Saudi Arabia remains the largest oil producer inside OPEC but has to contend with the US and Russia who are “pumping oil at record levels.” Together, the three countries are the world’s biggest oil producers, meaning any coordinated decision made between these three nations can be somewhat monumental.
However, it appears that one of these three nations will end up drawing the short end of the stick as the other two begin forming a closer alliance. As Foreign Policy explains:
“But Saudi Arabia has bigger game in mind at Vienna than just stabilizing oil prices. Recognizing that it can’t shape the global oil market by itself anymore but rather needs the cooperation of Russia, Saudi Arabia is hoping to formalize an ad hoc agreement between OPEC and Moscow that began in 2016, a time when dirt-cheap oil also posed a threat to oil-dependent regimes. That informal agreement expires at the end of the year, but the Saudis would like to make Russia’s participation with the cartel more permanent.”
Russian officials have been signalling their intention to formalise this agreement for quite some time now. Given the hysteria in western media about any and all things Russian, it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that this is the kind of news that is not sitting too well with the powers-that-be.
Earlier this year, Russia and Saudi Arabia announced that it would “institutionalize” the two-year-old bilateral agreement to coordinate oil production targets in order to maintain an edge on the global market.
While US president Trump has been supportive and incredibly defensive of MBS during this “crisis”, the truth is that the US only has itself to blame. It was not all too long ago that Trump announced that he had told Saudi King Salman that his kingdom would not last two weeks without US support.
Saudi Arabia is learning for themselves quite quickly that, ultimately, it may pay not to have all its eggs in one geopolitical superpower basket.
Saudi Arabia has been increasingly interested in Moscow since King Salman made a historic visit to Moscow in October 2017. While Trump has openly bragged about his record-breaking arms deals with the Saudis, the blunt truth is that the $110 billion arms agreements were reportedly only ever letters of interest or intent, but not actual contracts. As such, the US-Saudi arms deal is still yet to be locked in, all the while Saudi Arabia is negotiating with Russia for its S-400 air defence system. This is, as the Washington Post notes, despite repeated US requests to Saudi Arabia for it disavow its interest in Russia’s arms.
The economic threat that an “independent” Saudi Arabia under MBS’ leadership poses to Washington runs deeper than meets the eye and may indeed have a domino effect. According to CNN, Russia and Saudi Arabia “are engaged in an intense battle over who will be the top supplier to China, a major energy importer with an insatiable appetite for crude.”
The unveiling of China’s petro-yuan poses a major headache for Washington and its control over Saudi Arabia as well.According to Carl Weinberg, chief economist and managing director at High-Frequency Economics, China will “compel”Saudi Arabia to trade oil in Chinese yuan instead of US dollars. One must bear in mind that China has now surpassed the US as the “biggest oil importer on the planet,” these direct attacks on the US dollar will have huge implications for its current world reserve status.
If Saudi Arabia jumps on board China’s petro-yuan, the rest of OPEC will eventually follow, and the US might be left with no choice but to declare all of these countries in need of some vital freedom and democracy.
Therefore, ousting MBS and replacing him with a Crown Prince who doesn’t stray too far from the tree that is US imperialism may put a dent in pending relationships with Saudi Arabia and Washington’s adversaries, Russia and China.
Once we get over the certainty that the US media and the CIA are not against MBS for his long-list of human rights abuses, the question then becomes: why – why now, and in this manner, have they decided to put the spotlight on MBS and expose him exactly for what he is.
Clearly, the driving force behind this media outrage is a bit more complex than first meets the eye.