Desert Tortoise comments

Posted in: China criticizes Japan, U.S. for creating exclusive group on supply chains See in context

Considering the degree that China exploits the internet to steal intellectual property and spy on all and sundry, it is long past time for the west to say you can't let the thief back in the store after they are caught, and ban trade with China altogether. 100% trade and travel embargo, prohibit anyone trading with China from doing so in US dollars and/or using any aspect of the US financial system. Then cut every communications link/fiber optic cable between the US and China. You just cannot let the thief back in the store.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: China criticizes Japan, U.S. for creating exclusive group on supply chains See in context

charging fees to transition the South China Sea may be a good resolution. Panama does it, Suezawa does it.

Panama does not assert control or charge anyone anything to use international waters. No nation owns the South China Sea. It is international waters any maritime nation may sail through freely without interference. Panama has a canal built across land connecting two oceans. It is carved out of their land cutting through mountains inside their country requiring systems of locks to raise ships up so they can cross the narrow neck of Panama. Locks, dams and dredging cost money to operate so they charge to use it. Likewise the Suez Canal is built across Egypt. Both are man made and cross land. Do you understand the difference?  Nobody needs to do anything in the way of maintenance to keep the South China Sea open and navigable. It is the open ocean. Nobody can legally charge anyone to use it.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Posted in: China's exports top forecasts; imports growth best in 10 years See in context

We don't hear about the many problems in China or the unhappiness of people with the government there because the press is controlled by the government and their internet is heavily censored. But if you have family there you know China is not well governed and that people there are unhappy with their government.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: China's exports top forecasts; imports growth best in 10 years See in context

China keeps going from strength to strength because of Good Government.

Don't be fooled. China is a pressure cooker full of people angry and frustrated with their government. Business owners have to pay party cadre a "red envelope" (cash gifts in China are traditionally given in a decorative red envelope) at regular intervals or the inspectors show up and pretty soon you are either fined heavily or your business shut down. It used to be a business only had to pay bribes to get started but no more. Local party cadre act like a criminal protection racket. Pay up or the local authorities find ways to cost your business dearly. Business owners who are party members are forced to sit through monthly political education sessions. Most of these people joined the party to network and not for political reasons but quitting the party would be the end of their business. What China is doing to Jack Ma will probably be a watershed that will deter a lot of future investment in China, especially among the Chinese themselves. Why work hard and build up a great business like Jack Ma did if the CCP can take it all way? These up and coming entrepreneurs will take their skills elsewhere to build their wealth. Pork prices are skyrocketing due to China's inability to contain outbreaks of swine flu in their herds, exacerbated by the use by some farmers of unapproved bootleg vaccines that instead of controlling the diseases have created new strains infecting herds.  Pork is the national staple.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: China's exports top forecasts; imports growth best in 10 years See in context

You'd better hope and pray that China keeps accepting our funny money in exchange for their real products.

Australia pays China in US Dollars. The converse is also true. Both nations uses aspects of the US financial system to clear their transactions. The majority of foreign trade is paid for with US Dollars regardless of what nations the buyers and sellers are in.

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Posted in: Ford is betting that solid-state batteries will cut EV costs See in context

Why is it that cars with IC engines do not have solid state batteries, instead of the old lead batteries?

Cost and reliability. The weight and size difference between an Li battery and lead acid battery is insignificant in something as large and heavy as a car. Lead acid batteries are not prone to the thermal runaways that plague Li batteries. We have occasions where I work where the Li batteries on GPS units and laptops left in cars explode and burn. For the auto maker a lead acid battery is one less thing to go wrong, start a fire and force a big costly recall. Absorbed glass mat batteries are maintenance free and usually last 5-6 years. Why fool around with potentially flammable Li batteries?

Motorcycles however are different. Space and weight matter greatly. So does size when trying to package everything in minimal space. You see Li batteries turning up on some motorcycles for this reason.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: EU calls on U.S. to push exports to counter vaccine shortage See in context

Here is a chart of Covid-19 deaths per day in the US.

https://ycharts.com/indicators/us_coronavirus_deaths_per_day

Notice the highest daily case count preceded the highest daily death count by some two weeks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: EU calls on U.S. to push exports to counter vaccine shortage See in context

This chart tells you what you need to know about how two US Presidents handled the Covid-19 crisis so far.

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#trends_dailytrendscases

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: 4 Central Europe countries seek Japan's support for infrastructure plan See in context

Chinese influence is not all bad. I seen poor countries that have suffered for centuries with NGOs and UN pretending to make changes in these countries. China comes in and builds roads, electric lines, hospitals, and ports.

Some of the so-called beneficiaries of these projects are having second thoughts. One problem is the lack of definition of what One Belt One Road really is. Effectively every Chinese overseas development project has been labeled, accurately or not, as part of One Belt One Road. Second, many nations in Eurasia are postponing or backing out of One Belt One Road projects as it becomes clear that they are not gifts from China at all but must be paid back. Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Kyrgyzstan, among other countries have canceled, downsized, or postponed key One Belt One Road projects. Upon more careful examination many nations have come to realize they cannot afford these projects if they must pay the full cost plus interest. Huawei built a data center in Papua New Guinea after the PNG government borrowed some $53 million AUD to pay for it. It turns out the data center was being used by the PLA to conduct military intelligence operations. The PNG government is now refusing to pay back the loan. Immediately after this happened the Chinese told the PNG government that some among 53 workers being sent to a nickel mine owned by China Metallurgical Group Corporation might test positive for Covid-19. The Chinese were claiming these employees would test positive because they had been vaccinated, however at the time they were being sent to PNG in August 2020 there was no approved vaccine for Covid-19 in China or anywhere else.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Facebook confronts human rights dilemma on political speech See in context

The GOP is ripping itself apart with 70% of Republicans believing in Trump's Big Lie and other nonsense conspiracies.

It does not surprise me one bit. Much of the very same GOP base believe fervently in 2000 year old Middle Eastern fairy tales that are similarly devoid of any supporting facts or in many cases contradict what we know to be true about the physical world. I have had fundamentalist Christians tell me in complete sincerity that a belligerent and hegemonic Israel must start the war that brings their end of times prophesies to fruition along with the second coming of Christ. And the zinger they throw in is that if the US supports the Israelis then somehow America will be spared at the end of times. This is the GOPs audience. This is who makes up their ardent supporters. If you can believe tripe like that you can believe an election was stolen. It is not a big leap of faith at that point.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: More young Japanese look to Marx as pandemic, climate crisis magnify economic inequalities See in context

Socialism never creates happiness or contentment because there is too much power concentrated in the hands of few people.

Unfortunately the prevalence of oligopolies dominating major markets in the US and some other western democracies has led to the same problem in notionally capitalist countries. Those oligopolies are largely responsible for the high concentration of wealth in the US particularly but it is a global problem.

James Madison noted that power accrues to wealth and that a people intent on being their own governors have an interest in assuring wealth and thus political power are spread as widely and thinly as possible. This was a major part of his argument for breaking up big estates among as many heirs as possible upon the death of the owner, his opposition to primogeniture and his ardent advocacy of very high inheritance taxes. He felt each generation should have to earn their own and not live of the earnings of previous generations. This is important to keep the population vigorous and productive. Madison and other founders of the US were steadfastly opposed to allowing the formation of a class of idle wealthy as one found in much of Europe. They were seen as the source of much misery in Europe. I think James Madison would be deeply disappointed were he alive today.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Disappointing April jobs data pose new challenge for Biden agenda See in context

no comments about the worst job report vs. expected in 23 years?

I am more interested in understanding why there was an expectation that there would be something on the order of 1 million new jobs. That is an unprecedented number of new hires for one month. Where did this expectation come from?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Biden says he is confident he can meet Putin soon See in context

The U.S. establishment wants Russia to fall back to the misery and dependence of 90s,

That is emphatically not true. What the US would love to see are contested honest multiparty elections, a free press, free speech, religious freedom and guaranteed human rights. All the rest, including greater material well being, flow from these. A democratic and prosperous Russia is the goal. Democracies generally do not go to war with each other but settle their disputes with diplomacy and compromise.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Posted in: Biden says he is confident he can meet Putin soon See in context

and you think the current President of the United States would be the one man up until now who could actually do this?

Mr. Putin just backed down on the Ukraine. I am pretty sure it wasn't the US alone but the US led the behind the scenes diplomacy. It didn't hurt to have a division of the US Army in Estonia, practically on Russia's border, for a NATO exercise that for some reason keeps being extended, something Mr. Obama didn't have when the Russians first invaded Ukraine.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Posted in: More young Japanese look to Marx as pandemic, climate crisis magnify economic inequalities See in context

It is the failures of capitalism as currently practiced in the US especially that has turned people against it. During the Cold War it was so obvious that democratic capitalism provided a better way of life for a nations citizens. But the social programs the USSR and other Communist states proudly boasted of forced most western nations to do some of the same things to take care of their people lest the west loose the battle for hearts and minds that was as crucial as the military balance to the west's ultimate success. The US back then also did a better job of enforcing anti-trust laws preventing the formation of oligopolies and their corrosive effects on economic performance

But I remember saying to my room mate as the USSR and Warsaw Pact collapsed in 1991 that I was worried that without the Communists to keep capitalism honest the dark side of capitalism would predominate. Unfortunately that has come to pass. In the past 30 years the US has almost abandoned effective anti-trust regulation and litigation. Oligopolies prevail in too many big markets and they represent a massive wealth transfer from consumers to producers. The increasing concentration of wealth in fewer hands is no mystery! But it seems one must be an economist to see this stuff.

The current younger generation cannot in any honesty expect to live as well as their parents and many of their parents have already given up on trying to have the kind of life their parents, the current generation's grandparents had. Now both spouses must work to be able to afford the kind of middle class lifestyle one working spouse could afford in the 1960s. The younger generation does not see capitalism as it is practiced now (which in many ways bears no resemblance to the competitive markets envisioned by Adam Smith and David Ricardo) providing them with an acceptable standard of living. They are not incorrect either. But they like most people have never matriculated a college level economics class to know what a competitive market should look like to understand just how far from that the economies of many big western nations are from that ideal. The answer isn't communism. The solution to the problem is to break up big corporations into many smaller ones, and break up the vertical and horizontal integration of these giants. More sellers will reduce prices and increase employment. More competition spurs more innovation. Communism won't do any of that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Biden says he is confident he can meet Putin soon See in context

Diplomacy at its finest. A good step in the right direction. Nothing good has ever come from pushing someone into a tight corner

One must chose their fights carefully but if someone like Vladimir Putin is backed into a corner and exposed as being weak he would be gone very quickly. He survives on bluster, the appearance of toughness and just enough uncertainty that nobody wants to push their luck in a fight with the Russians. He's a bit of a showman and plays a good game of poker. But his recent sudden decision to remove troops from the Ukraine border has made him look weak internally. Nobody outside of the conversations knows what NATO told the Russians regarding the Ukraine but it was not a coincidence that NATO was holding a major land exercise in Estonia at the time. There are opportunities for the US and its NATO allies to capitalize on this not through kinetic action but through words. The former Warsaw Pact nations in particular know intimately how the Russians played the disinformation game during the Cold War and are well positioned to know how to counter Russian propaganda and turn words against the Russians.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Biden says he is confident he can meet Putin soon See in context

Putin's opening gambit should be a quid pro quo for Biden: handing over the Russian FSB's Trump Moscow hotel tapes (to break the ice).

If the Russians did that then the US ought to give the Russians another piece of their old submarine K-129. If a retired Admiral I once interviewed with and a book written more recently are both right the US got the whole thing. In 2006 the US gave the Russians the ships bell.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: EU calls on U.S. to push exports to counter vaccine shortage See in context

Ms von der Leyen and her colleagues are upset that Mr. Biden proposed waiving patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines and the EUs big pharmaceutical companies and some member states such as mighty Germany refused to go along with this idea. This undercut the EUs long held position of moral superiority by exposing the little fact that their companies and national government are as constrained by self interest as any other and not so morally superior after all. Instead of taking action within the EU to waive patent protections she whines that the US should give them vaccines instead. My heart bleeds.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Posted in: EU calls on U.S. to push exports to counter vaccine shortage See in context

Biden is nearing 200,000 deaths on his watch. Since they are so generous would it be possible for Europe to ship some of their vaccine production to America too?

Our esteemed member implies that since Mr. Biden should have stopped all Covid-19 deaths upon inauguration and since he hasn't he has failed utterly. Right? It is as if the big bang happened the day before his inauguration and nothing that happened in the months and years before has any effect on what happens today.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Disappointing April jobs data pose new challenge for Biden agenda See in context

BIDEN: "I keep hearing in the press: 'Biden's going to raise your taxes.' Anybody making less than $400k a year will not pay a single penny in taxes..."

You need to get your hearing checked. What is true is that if you earn under $400K per year your taxes won't go up. from where they are now.

Meditate on this. Federal revenues from all sources for 2020 were 16.33488% of GDP. Federal net outlays for 2020 were 31.29393% of GDP. The difference is the Federal budget deficit for 2020. My data source is the Saint Louis Fed.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FYONGDA188S

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FYFRGDA188S

How does the US close that gap and reduce the annual budget deficit?

More data. Tax revenues from all sources in the US, meaning Federal, state and local revenues are 24.5% of GDP based on the latest OECD data set (link provided). The OECD average tax burden is 33.8% of GDP.

https://www.oecd.org/tax/tax-policy/revenue-statistics-highlights-brochure.pdf

A good argument could be made that by international standards, the US under taxes its citizens and this is the source of the huge accumulated Federal debt, a debt that I have pointed out many times here gives America's trade partners the tool they need, those Federal bonds sold to finance the debt, to maintain the trade imbalance in their favor. The US very much needs to run balanced budgets like it did in 1999 and again in 2000 when Federal receipts were 19.75% of GDP and the US was not at war anywhere. The US can do it again without great pain if the so called leaders in Congress will allow it to happen. Unfortunately those deficits are too often used as an excuse to cut social services and educational funding, which suits some political ideologies more than running a balanced budget does.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Disappointing April jobs data pose new challenge for Biden agenda See in context

Btw, it is probably true that Mr. Trump won't be a candidate in 2024. He will be involved in too many legal disputes and by then might even be either in jail or waiting on sentencing. The two investigations in New York are not going away and those are criminal, not civil, prosecutions like the others and they include potentially long jail sentences. He is being sued under the 1871 Klu Klux Klan Act, faces a trial over a 1994 rape allegation in Jeffry Epstein's home. Mr. Trump is being sued separately by two Capital Police officers for inciting the 6 January insurrection buttressed by Washington, D.C. code provisions prohibiting incitement to riot and provocation of violence. This last case is perhaps one of the strongest civil cases since it is simple, they are suing Mr. Trump as a private citizen and the two officers who filed the suit were both injured defending the capital. As such their standing to sue will not be questioned as it could be in the KKK Act case. In addition Mr. Giuliani will have his own legal messes to deal with and those will be in the press. All of these cases will be coming to a head about the time people start focusing on the primaries for the 2024 Presidential campaign. We shall see if people in politics still wish to be associated with him by then.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Disappointing April jobs data pose new challenge for Biden agenda See in context

Unfortunately, your predictions usually turn out to be unreliable.

Lol, this from one of our esteemed members who steadfastly maintained Mr. Trump would win a second term as President pretty much up to the day the Electoral College reported out its delegate count.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Disappointing April jobs data pose new challenge for Biden agenda See in context

It is not surprising. Schools are not 100% open yet. Many are open but it is half days and maybe not every day of the week. In our district not all families chose to send their children back to in person classes so the district is providing distance learning for them. The before and after school programs us working parents rely on are not up and running yet. Some are available but they are conducted on line, meaning a parent or child care worker has to be there. I am fortunate to be able to telework so I can be home for our little boy, and sit with him Fridays when the school still does 100% distance learning, but if I had a job that absolutely required me to on site 8-9 hours a day I would not be able to work. There are lots of people in similar situations. Until all the school situations work themselves out it is going to be tough to fill these job openings.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Mexico City exhales as COVID-19 infections fall See in context

Just don't exhale in my direction please. And keep your mask on!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: 4 Central Europe countries seek Japan's support for infrastructure plan See in context

If Japan doesn't take up the offer China will be two steps behind then with their "Belt and Road" debt trap bs. Good opportunity for Japan to build visibility, influence and allies among European nations. Might be a time Japan needs some allies. You never know.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Posted in: Australian regulator moves to block Qantas-JAL deal See in context

One of the things that always amazed me about Australia was, at least in the 1990s, that it was less expensive to fly from Australia to many distant foreign destinations than to fly a shorter domestic route on a highly regulated Australian air carrier. Australian air lines in general are high cost. Nice service but not sure it is that much nicer to justify the higher prices they charge.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S. supports Ukraine against 'reckless' Russian moves: Blinken See in context

It is less clear what NATO gains by this expansion.

It is not hard to understand. Neither Russia nor the EU can feed their populations from agricultural resources within their borders. Ukraine is the region's breadbasket. The EU would love to have Ukraine in the fold. It would greatly expand the EUs agricultural resources. NATO is less enthusiastic actually because NATO doesn't want to be drawn into a conflict with Russia by the Ukrainians over a disputed border. That dispute would have to be settled before Ukraine could join NATO, a point many seem to either be missing or they chose to ignore it.

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Posted in: U.S. supports Ukraine against 'reckless' Russian moves: Blinken See in context

Why is NATO still there?

Russian forces took territory from Georgia and more recently Ukraine. They also sent forces to fight in Syria. The Russians make veiled threats to take "action" whatever that means if Finland were to join NATO. So the west keeps their counterweight to the Russians in the form of NATO. Twenty years ago the justification for NATO looked thin but no more and Russia has no one to blame but themselves.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: With ambassador picks, Biden faces donor vs diversity test See in context

I have never understood this comment to justify picking everyone but white males.

as American looks 60.3% "white" and is 49.2% male.

Well now I reckon that absolutely justifies having a foreign service that is 100% white chrisitian males. Right?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: With ambassador picks, Biden faces donor vs diversity test See in context

I can see a lot of value in appointing former legislators and even governors as ambassadors. These are people with hands on government experience who can speak knowledgeably with their foreign counterparts. On occasion a retired General or Admiral might also be a good candidate for an ambassadorship, especially if they are held in esteem by the country they will be posted to based on their former position commanding US forces that region. Often high ranking field grade officers will have existing relationships with the leaders of nations in the region they served they can build upon as an ambassador. I am just not comfortable with awarding ambassadorships to people with no government experience and who may not be well versed in running a government organization, the necessity of using words carefully or with the particulars of a foreign culture.

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